Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Harvest Pheasant, The Progress of a Dinner II

Second Course
Feast or Pheasant?
(The Gathering)

Thanksgiving is all about GATHERING . . .

GATHERING the bountiful crops before the harsh winter
GATHERING with friends and loved ones to give thanks
GATHERING all the accoutrements for a lovely meal and table

The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth
Jennie A. Brownscombe, 1914

This is where I really have to edit myself, but NOT at first.

I think harnessing the imagination and starting the GATHERING process is my favorite part of creating, whether it be a home, a room, or a table. 

My freerange mind has been cooking on my
Thanksgiving "Harvest Pheasant" idea and
my 'range of fall reds with a bit of orange' color scheme for the Thanksgiving table.

Linda Whiting, 2004

Now it is time to GATHER.
I first have to mentally gather all those ideas and corral them.

I start making LISTS . . .


At first the lists are general genres of things that I want to include.

1. Silver "Things"

Sampson Mordon Pheasant Sterling Silver Menu Card Holders, ca 1909
I wish I had these!

I love the patina of slightly tarnished,  and sometimes more than slightly tarnished silver.  Plus, you don't have to polish nearly
as often or thoroughly!

2. Fruits and Flowers

I LOVE to mix fruits, veggies, and flowers for occasions all year round to take advantage of natures bounty and be more unexpected.  It usually cuts the flower bill too.

3. Fabrics

Vintage Fortuny Orsini

Vintage French Velvet Tablecloth with Pheasants

Velvet Quilt

I want to juxtapose patterns and textures on the table.

4. China

And I love to mix china patterns.

5. Candles

Candlelight adds so much to a glorious fall table.  I love to serve Thanksgiving dinner about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon.  The sun is sinking and the candles make the coming twilight feel perfect for GATHERING around a beautiful harvest table.

And then I list and GATHER lots of specific items that COULD be used on my Thanksgiving Table:

1. Goblets
2. Vintage Hotel Platters
3. Mothers's Candlesticks
4. Mercury Glass Decanters
5. Assorted old compotes and tea sets
6. Large Silver Plateaus

Fruits, Veggies and Flowers
1. Red Cabbage
2. Eggplant
3. Pomegranates
4. Red Grapes
5. Plums
6. Cranberries
7. Satsumas

8. Mixed Reds Fall Bouquet

9. Preserved Dark Red Roses

Add caption

10. Magnolia Leaves

11. Branches

12. Oh, and a few nuts!

13. MOSS
(I know this will sound a little crazy, but I am rarely without a box of moss in my car.)

(Ok, I admit it. I am a fabric freak! 
 I love new and vintage.)

1. Burnout Crimson velvet for draping around and under the centerpiece
2. Burlap colored linen for a runner
3. Vintage Tapestry
4. Vintage Orange Fortuny
5. Napkins
6. Napkin Ties/Napkin Rings
7. Pheasant Placemats
8. Ribbons

China and Glassware
1. Dinner Plates
2. Salad Plates

3. Cake Stands
4. Vintage White Tea Leaf Plates

5. Glass Turkeys
6. Crystal Glasses
(Sister Susan, I NEED
Nanny's Cranberry glass that you have!)
7. Copper Luster Ware
8. Brown and White Transferware, including
my grandmother' vintage turkey platter

 Daddy's Stuffed Pheasant
Antique Books


Oh, and my pheasant placecards
 and menu card

Just as if I am designing a room,
I like to layer my table too.
Only then can it truly be
 personal and interesting.

Let the real GATHERING begin.

Some of the items I will experiment with for the Thanksgiving table,
 including dark red preserved roses, petrified mushrooms, twig beeswax candles, real Southern Magnolia leaves in a faux bois container, chippy candlesticks, red books, mercury glass decanters, jute tassels, copper luster ware pitchers, and tea leaf platters

2. Experiment
3. Edit

Experiment 1:

Experiment 2:

Time to edit and start layering!

I started with the natural linen
down the table . . .

I added the velvet burnout fabric in the middle and then layered the silver plateaus with the Southern Magolia filled faux bois urns, big chunky, chippy candlesticks, and of course THE pheasant on a stack of books on an old cedar board . . .

Next I added a few pieces of the old silver and a few of the  fruits and veggies in my colors, along with the wonderful preserved dark red roses.  They really do look fresh and I can use them again and again. 

I am expecting twelve, and do not have twelve off everything I wanted to use so I have mixed and matched on the china, placemats, napkins and crystal. I have mixed the old brown and white transferware in with my other china patterns.

I really prefer this acquired and further layered look to everything being matchy, matchy.

I am going to add a few satsumas for a bit more orange and also some of those mixed bouquet flowers will be scattered around, as well as a blossom placed in each napkin ring.
Oh, and white candles.

I am very pleased with my
Harvest Pheasant table, and I have only spent
thirty dollars on fruits, veggies, and flowers.
The magnolia was from the yard.

I will have to use the Fortuny, the white tea leaf plates, and the other edited treasures next time.


1. GATHER or collect things that you love and use them when you entertain and celebrate holidays.
2. Let your imagination roam wide and free BEFORE you start to GATHER your elements for decorating.
3. Have an idea of the look and/or feel you want to achieve.  It can be a theme, but it does not have to be. 
4. Include one or more unexpected, unusual, or antique elements to really add personality.
5. GATHER and experiment.
 Play and have fun.  Then edit.
6.Use fabrics on your table. 
 7. Establish varying heights and interest on the table with books.
8. Use fruits and veggies to augment your flowers.  They can be consumed later.
9. Mix china, silver, and crystal for additional texture and interest.
10. Enjoy the process.


Hope these tips help make your
special GATHERING a bit more
special and enjoyable.

As part of my fourth grade Thanksgiving program where I played Mrs. Brewster, we sang the hymn

"We Gather Together"

I have loved it ever since and often find myself humming it this time of year.


We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

I also still remember by heart Psalm 100, which was part of the program and is still a favorite.


Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
 For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. 

My oldest son usually reads it at our Thanksgiving dinner, and the blessing which he wrote and illustrated in the first grade.

To be continued . . .

What have you gathered for your
 Thanksgiving table?

Do you celebrate with traditions when you GATHER for dinner?

photo credits: Jennifer Rizzo, Country Living, Marilyn Storey

1 comment :

  1. Wow Marilyn this is just gorgeous. It looks as if it is ready for a magazine shoot. It is so elegant.Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your loved ones, Kathysue