Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanksgiving Preparations

Last year, my sisters and I knew we would spend the day before Thanksgiving all day in the hospital with our mother. The turkey was already brining and the stuffing was already made. The night before, I asked my then 16-year-old daughter if she could find a spot in her heart to make the pumpkin pies while we were all at the hospital. We always make two kinds, one regular and one for my brother-in-law who has type I diabetes. We've made them together many times, I knew she could do it.

By 9 am, my daughter texted me: "After the pumpkin pies what should I do?"

"How about the apple pies?" We always have to make our own apple pies because my husband is highly allergic to corn and we have yet to find a decent apple pie that doesn't use corn starch as a thickening agent.

By 11, my daughter texted me: "Now what?"

"Do you know how to make green beans?"

"Is it in 'Joy of Cooking?'"

"Yes it is!" Off she went.

By the time we got home, all the vegetables were made. You can imagine the praise she got from everyone on Thanksgiving Day. I forget who it was that gave her the first shout when we went around the table to list why we were thankful, but it prompted my son to blurt out “Hey, that’s what I was going to say!” We all laughed knowingly. My daughter’s kitchen heroics were definitely the low-hanging fruit on the gratitude list.

This year, my daughter announced," I want to make all the same dishes I made last year." I had to pinch myself; how did I get so lucky? So, on Wednesday, my daughter and I cooked up a storm, with the under-the-counter iPod player blaring at high-volume. Actually, I didn't do much cooking at all. I was mostly a consultant and sous-chef this year, plus I set the table and made the centerpieces from left-over Wreath Clinic supplies. Talk about role reversal; setting the table used to be the kids’ job.

I can’t believe that the holiday preparation baton is already getting passed from mother to daughter.

Image from

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Holiday Wreath Clinic 2008 - Part II

My flower partner, Tracy Lou, brought two friends to the Wreath Clinic on Sunday. Tracy's on the right holding the bouquet, May's in the middle, and Diana is on the left.

May is getting married next year so they came to the Wreath Clinic to experiment making some bridal flowers. The mock-up bridal bouquet is at the top of this post. And they made a bridesmaid's bouquet and pew clip:

They decided that the bridesmaid bouquet should have more light roses so that it would show a greater contrast with the bride's bouquet. Tracy and Mae are taking Wendy Pine's bridal class this term; I think they are going to get an A plus.

For years I've been trying to convince brides that they should use miniature clay pots to make teeny tiny arrangements that could be used for favors or place card holders. I finally realized that showing them a tiny clay pot is not sufficient; I had to make some examples:

When I showed my examples, Diane's daughter had a great time making more:

I'm happy to report that May decided to use clay miniatures for her wedding! She is very lucky that she has talented bridesmaids Tracy and Diana to help her make 150 of them.

Dakota Angel has been coming to the Wreath Clinics since the very first one in 2000. This year she decided to make two dried topiaries. She left room to be able to add fresh flowers once in a while. It was an ambitious plan and a lot of work, but I think she will be happy for a very long time with these:

Stephanie made a beautiful candle centerpiece with no help whatsoever:

I think her sweet labradoodle, Lucie, was her inspiration:

This is Casey's second Wreath Clinic. This year's kissing ball is more elaborate than the one she made last year:

Linda made a gorgeous wreath and also had time to make a centerpiece:

We raised $600 for Second Harvest and a corporate community giving campaign. All in all, this year's event went very well.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Wreath Clinic 2008 - Part I

Since the year 2000, I’ve offered an annual, sometimes semi-annual, Wreath Clinic. It all started when I headed up the school auction at my kids’ elementary school and we were trying to drum up inexpensive ways to raise money. Parents of the school community offered tickets to a wine tasting party, Oscar party, a Harry Potter treasure hunt, a tour of the Stanford Human Genome Center, and we even auctioned off tickets to a lecture called “How to Get Your Kid into Stanford” offered by a Stanford admissions staff member. These items were not only fantastic, inexpensive ways to give to the school, but they proved to be great community-building events.

I love making wreaths, so I decided to offer wreath-making lessons. I provided all the materials to make Christmas wreaths plus continental breakfast and lunch.

The Wreath Clinic is now a two-day event and the students now also have the option to make kissing balls, centerpieces, or topiaries and the food is offered by The Roving Gourmet, Michelle Bailey and her very handsome baby boy:

This year I offered six spots to a corporate community-giving auction and the other students made donations to Second Harvest food bank.

We start the morning with mimosas and a delicious frittata,

then we work, work, work,

followed by a break for lunch. Michelle made a yummy chicken salad with almond sesame dressing. I can’t believe I forgot to take photos of the food!

The beautiful wreath featured at the top of the post is made by three-time Wreath Clinic veteran, Mary Ann:

Here is Shelley's wreath:

and her cousin Kellie's:

Their grandmother, Martha, made a kissing ball:

Shelley's mother, Susan, made a fresh topiary:

Kellie's mother, Ginger, made two dried topiaries:

Lydia is rightfully very proud of her centerpiece:

Some people are done with their creations by lunch; others finish up or make a second piece after lunch. Lydia made a fresh candle wreath after lunch:

The Sunday crew asked if the Wreath Clinic was a sleepover. Last year, Tracy Lou and I were still making topiaries after dinner in the dark wearing warm gloves.

Since I can't seem to cover these events in only one post, you will have to wait until next time to see what Tracy and her friends created. You will be amazed!

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