An Al Fresco (and gratitude filled) Thanksgiving

When I was younger Thanksgiving was just a holiday where I would fill up on mashed potatoes & cranberry sauce (I'm a sides kind of gal)  and count down the days until Christmas.  Now, Thanksgiving has taken on a whole new meaning to me.  It's become a day I cherish with family and a time I use to reflect on what makes my life so full, with my gratefulness only heightened by the recent unimaginable tragedies that happened in Paris.

Being grateful is something we consciously have to remember to do and it can be so easy to take this life and the people in our lives for granted. Practicing gratitude every single day is no easy task, especially when our world is faced with such horrible acts of violence, terror and war.  It's hard to comprehend how these things can even happen let alone begin to understand what the families and victims of these acts have gone through or are going through.

But what we can do is hold each other tight, tell close ones we love them, support each other, give back to those in need and show our gratefulness for all we have while here on earth, and why not start this Thanksgiving?

I've always dreamed of hosting my own Thanksgiving dinner, but the thought of having to prepare and coordinate all of that food still terrifies me. So, since I don't have the space to accommodate a big family gathering just yet, I thought about hosting an intimate "Friendsgiving'' dinner or simply having a few family members over for a little pre-Thanksgiving lunch... al fresco style! 

The weather here in NYC has been unseasonably warm which gave me this idea for a little outdoor dining. With the help of the sun and possibly some heat lamps, it's probably one of our last holidays we can spend in the outdoors before the deep chill of Winter kicks in here in the Northeast. 

In an age where we are so attached to our smart phones and meaningful connections have lessened, I wanted to evoke a little conversation (and I can ban all phones at the table, right??) by having guests write one thing they are thankful for on a tag and place them in a jar in the middle of the table to be read after dinner. (You can find the free tag template I used here). By reading them at random, guests don't have to be embarrassed or shy about reading their own and opening up. 

I wanted this table top to be simple, fresh and inviting, with the focus more on the food and the company, so I chose cool shades of greens, neutrals and gold.  I incorporated earthy elements with eucalyptus plants, white chrysanthemums and a piece of driftwood I had collected from a trip to Costa Rica.

TIP: Incorporating trip mementos or items you have collected over time into your tabletops are also great conversation starters. 

Even the wine I chose (which is my new FAVE Pinot Noir) has subtle touches of nature. I love coordinating the food and wine I serve with the theme of the gathering. It's the little purposeful details that tie it all together. 

Even though the lovely presentation and the delightful food leave us feeling full and satisfied, we can't forget about the true meaning of the holiday and what it represents.  For me it's togetherness, life, family and kindness.  That's what I intend to focus on this year - perhaps over a piece of pumpkin pie of course.  

How will you be spending your Thanksgiving and what are you thankful for this year?  

From my table to yours,  I truly hope your Thanksgiving is full, happy, filled with delicious food and most of all filled with gratitude.   

**All Images My Own

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ENTERTAINING | A Modern + Metallic Halloween Tabletop

I FINALLY have a dining table! Which means two things, no more eating dinner on the sofa and I can actually host a dinner party now.  So with Halloween approaching I think it's the perfect excuse to have friends over for an intimate dinner or just have a quiet night in with my guy.

Using items I already own, a few DIY touches and one or two new things, I wanted to create an understated modern and chic Halloween table with pops of black and metallics.  Here is the result.

I had seen the little bat place card holders on Pinterest (of course) and decided I needed to incorporate them into the place setting to liven it up.  I simply printed a bat template (I used this one here) and cut them out.

I stumbled upon the skull salt and pepper shaker set believe it or not, in Kmart, and they are actually on sale right now for less than $5! (and also come in metallic silver) They look and feel so much more expensive than that and prove that quality and price don't always go hand-in-hand. 

 I decided to paint the wine bottle and tops of the sea holly thistles black using acrylic paint for some added drama. 

I received the darling dancing skeleton glasses as a gift and happen to think some dark red wine will look and taste bloody perfect in them.

And why stop with a festive place setting?  The food you serve can taste AND look good by complementing your theme, which is why I would definitely serve this Squid Ink Pasta with Fennel and Basil dish.  Squid ink pasta is black in color and would be a beautiful contrast on the white plates. 

The theme for the table originated from the fact I wanted white and metallic gold dip dyed pumpkins this year.  I started with this simple DIY and the table took shape from there. 

What you'll need:

  • Pumpkins
  • Spray paint or Acrylic paint
  • Painter's tape

How to:

Simply use the painter's tape to create the color divide on the pumpkin.  Either spray paint or use a sponge applicator to apply acrylic paint. (you'll need at least two coats for metallics and lighter colors). Once the first color is completely dried peel the tape off and paint the second half.  You have to use acrylic paint instead of spray paint for the second color since you can't reapply the painter's tape to the section that is already painted as it peels the paint. Let dry and style accordingly!

These glam little pumpkins displayed alone or styled with other items make a statement as a dining or coffee table centerpiece.

 I also love to place mine in unexpected places, like in a serving tray or on an entryway bench.

How do you get festive in your home for the Fall season and Halloween?  I'd love to see!  Share your tabletops and DIY pumpkins (or gourds!) with us by using the hashtag #SAHalloween on Instagram and Facebook. 


NIGHT OUT | Pasta Night at Hudson Table

"You know the thing about good food - it brings people together."- The Princess and the Frog

Image source: Hudson Table

Image source: Hudson Table

This Summer has been a complete whirlwind and Fall shows no signs of slowing down.  With almost every weekend accounted for until mid-November, I'm really looking forward to some time nesting in our new apartment and making time for myself, my friends, family and this blog.

Last month, along with 16 of our closest friends, we packed up our favorite bottles of wine and headed across the river to Hudson Table in Hoboken, NJ for a night of cooking, drinking and of course eating.  I'm so grateful we had this chance to experience such a fun night together, which can be so hard with everyone's hectic schedules. 

My best friend Kara, who coordinated this night out, polled our friends to find out what class seemed most interesting. (Check out their most current classes here)  We landed on the handmade pasta class.  We are a group of carb-loving basic folks, okay?  We had the whole place to ourselves on a Saturday evening which made it even more special. 

After we made sure everyone's glass was full, we split into groups and began preparing three different pasta dishes: Papardelle Bolognese, Spinach Ricotta Ravioli with Pesto Genovese and Shrimp Scampi Linguine. 

After the chopping we began making the sauces for each pasta dish.  Everything was pre-measured cutting down a lot of time and making it super easy and convenient.  Clearly I stayed far away from the onions and opted to snap some pics instead. 

  Some people were into getting down and dirty, and others were there for support, guidance and the wine! 

Image source: Hudson Table

Image source: Hudson Table

In this beautiful and pristine exhibition-style kitchen, and with the help of 2 chefs (one who happens to be the pastry chef at Facebook) we started the process of making the three different types of pasta which consisted of using less than five ingredients. 

This was definitely the most fun part. Everyone had loosened up and was feeling good and more comfortable. I think we were all pretty amazed what can happen with some dough, a Kitchenaid attachment and a ravioli cutter! 

I didn't get a post-worthy photo of the delicious finished product (I know bad job by me) but that's probably because I was too busy eating it! This whole night got me thinking about hosting a homemade pasta night of my own. With cooler weather approaching it's the perfect time to invite some friends over or have a cozy night in with your partner and enjoy some comfort food.

 I've rounded up some essentials for bringing this experience into your own kitchen and onto your table, whether you're hosting two or ten people. And if you're not quite ready for that, let Hudson Table help you feel more comfortable in the kitchen while enjoying a night out and great experience with friends.  Bon appetit! 

1. Kitchenaid Pasta Roller Attachment - If you already own a Kitchenaid mixer, scoop up this attachment for ease in making all types of pasta such as linguine, ravioli and papardelle! 2. Stainless-Steel Bench Scraper- This was an eye-opening tool we were introduced to. It was perfect for cutting the dough and scraping the extra dough off of the counter. I purchased two of them as gifts immediately following the class. 3. Wood Turner- This eco-friendly turner is handcrafted in the USA from American harvested wood. We used this in class to break up and turn the meat for the bolognese sauce. Way easier to use this over a regular wooden spoon. 4. Stainless-Steel Ravioli Cutter- This tool cuts individual raviolis in one pass. It can also be used for pie crusts, we can't forget about dessert now, can we? 5.  Marble Slab- if you already have marble or granite counter tops, then lucky you! If you aren't as lucky, having a marble slab makes rolling dough a breeze. 

1. White + Blue Pasta Bowl - I prefer to eat pasta out of a bowl and these traditional blue and white ones remind me of an Italian seaside cafe. 2. Matte Black Salad Servers- For serving salad or pasta these would be a beautiful addition to any dinner party. 3. Injiri Table Cover- I realize this is a splurge, but I just love the color and hand-woven artisan look of this table cover. It adds a sense of warmth to any table.  4. Wood Grain Charger- Complete the look of your table with these weathered wood chargers, a great alternative to place mats. 5. Big Sur Candle- Pasta is a no fuss meal, so I would keep the centerpiece no fuss with a simple candle and maybe some fresh flowers. 6. Two-tone Flatware- I'm obsessed with the minimalist design of this flatware. The design is traditional yet the black contrast gives it a modern flair. 7. Linen Napkins (Set of 4)- Tie it all together with a linen napkin. I like how this set of four is simple, clean and understated.