Give Thanks

I know it’s a little late for Thanksgiving and Christmas is in full swing, but I wanted to share a few glimpses into our family Thanksgiving celebration! Between work and school, I didn’t have time to help prepare any food for the feast, so instead I was given full jurisdiction over the table decor and design. Just the kind of creative fun I needed!

Early on Thanksgiving morning, I bundled up in snowpants and winter coat, along with hat and gloves, to go search out some red berry bushes (I still have no idea what they’re actually called). I found some on a stone wall a few minutes from home, and gathered an armful of the bright branches.

At the house, I began decorating the table. First, a red damask-style tablecloth. Next, a thrifted wooden candelabra, with red and white tapers. I then filled vases and jars with red berries and faux greenery, along with a few harvest pieces. I had a few colorful gourds leftover from my fall decor, as well as a hardy little pumpkin. These gathered around the candelabra, along with more red berries.

I then laid out the plates and silverware and glassware, along with some hand-painted place cards for each guest. These were really fun and simple to make - just a rectangle of cardstock, folded in half and placed on each plate.

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Next, I turned my attention to the kitchen island (my parents have an open-concept dining room and kitchen). The island would hold a selection of appetizers, so I wanted to be sure it had its own share of decor. A vase of more greenery and berries adorned the space next to a tray of goodies.

Last, I hung a little hand-painted sign next to the refrigerator on the end of a tall bookcase. Just a little reminder to give thanks, continually and daily, for all that we have. (Pro-tip: Goodwill sometimes has cheap clipboards, and they make wonderful displays for artwork!).

I hope you enjoyed this little sneak peek into our day’s festivities! Creating a beautiful and welcoming space is so rewarding, especially when friends and family are gathering to celebrate together. On to Christmas!

Mt Jefferson

Saturday began with a 5:30AM alarm, as I rolled over in the cold, dark stillness and groaned. Nope. I didn’t want to hike. Forget it.

But roll out of bed I did, and soon Michelle arrived to pick me up and drive us to the White Mountains. This drive never fails to impress, especially when coming around the bend into Franconia Notch.

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After driving through the notch, we found our way to a dirt road that led to the trail head, and parked. We were hiking Mt Jefferson, 5712 feet, on a 2.5 mile hike beginning at 3000 feet and scrambling over rocks and hills to reach the summit.

It was partly cloudy, but the air was fresh and cool and the leaves were bright. We began our hike in good spirits, walking through mossy forests and up a steady but manageable incline. Then we reached the misty treeline and the real hike started. We began a steep ascent that did not relent until we reached the ‘caps’ (a series of rocky ridges that we scrambled over before the real summit loomed before us in the fog). My legs screamed and ached, and a few times I stopped and told Michelle to keep going without me. (SUCH a drama queen - I know). She of course refused, and gently urged me on.

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The summit. Gratifying, no?

The summit. Gratifying, no?

We ate lunch before the summit and I sat on a cereal box to keep my butt somewhat warm. I gulped down my sandwich and apple before my muscles had a chance to tighten up in the cold wind, and we kept on climbing.

After much groaning and moaning on my part (see… drama queen), we reached the summit. Not after some struggling over the rock scrambles - I’m not super fond of heights at the best of times, and literally pulling my body up over some challenging rocks was scary. But I made it with the help of Michelle and her incredible encouragement, and we reached the top! Which, as you can see, was a little anticlimactic - no view, no sign, and no sun. The wind was bitterly cold, so we hunkered down among the rocks for a few minutes to catch our breath and laugh as more hikers made the summit and exclaimed at the lack of fanfare.

As we turned to make our way back down the slope, something marvelous happened.

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The clouds parted like magic, and the valleys were spread out before us in all their glory. A woman on the trail above us shrieked in delight, and we all laughed as her joyful shouts increased as the clouds parted further.

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I was pretty sore that night and the next day (and the next), but I’m always glad when I do a hike. This one was a success - climbed in book time, and experienced some beautiful views. Not to mention got to laugh with a dear friend to boot! And isn’t that the point? My memory has already begun to block out the cold and the pain and the fear-of-heights bit. You can tell because I referred to the hike as a success. ;)