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A Family Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving isn’t cancelled. Many states might have banned gatherings beyond one’s own household to help prevent furthering the spread of Covid-19… but Thanksgiving isn’t cancelled. Thanksgiving is a way of life and an intentional choice that can’t be taken from you. When our focus shifts from the cares of this world to all that we still have to be grateful for, and when we start to realize how much we too easily take for granted… something special happens… 

You see, I believe that even in the toughest of circumstances a posture of gratitude changes our mindset, brightens our outlook, brings hope to our soul and joy to our heart.

So Thanksgiving might feel a little different this year… but it is certainly not cancelled. I think it is more important than ever that we take a day to reflect, refocus and respond. And…even if you are only setting the table for 2… make it special… make it intentional… make it beautiful. 

We wanted to give you a few ideas to help celebrate your holiday…

1. Decorate– There are lots of things you can do to create a beautiful tablescape even on a limited budget. Try picking up some small pumpkins at your grocery store and mixing in a few candles like we did a few years back. If your budget allows, perhaps you could use more stately candles, and larger pumpkins mixed in with some dried leaves that you can gather around your neighborhood. Or you can go really simple like the time we cut vines from around our house and added a few fresh figs and candles. 

For our Thanksgiving table this year we used the the actual meal to decorate the table, and just incorporated our flower centerpiece kit, a few pumpkins and corn, a vintage water jug and some candles. While it might look more extravagant and hard to replicate, when you really break down the components, and use what you have on hand to decorate along with the meal you are serving, you don’t really need much. The idea is to do something that creates an ambience that says “this meal is special and not just an ordinary dinner”.

And remember, decor pieces don’t have to be expensive. Most of the serving pieces and candle holders I have used throughout the years have been easy finds from Goodwill and other second hand stores. Etsy is another great option to consider for shopping for special serving pieces. 

2. Set your table– With a smaller group around the table it might not feel worth the effort to set your table… but… take the time to pull out that nice china you never use. Get out the nicer glassware. Iron those linens you received as a wedding gift that stay tucked away. I find putting extra effort into these details is another way to create a special ambience that visually communicates the importance of what you are celebrating, and helps to set this meal apart as something beyond the ordinary.

3. Let your kids help–  Some of my favorite memories from my childhood was the anticipation and prep that went into making the holiday special. My mom would pull out this beautiful rusty colored tablecloth and then she’d let me help set the table with our gold monogramed flatware that we only used for special occasions. I remember when I was about nine years old I begged for a cornucopia… my mom found one and allowed me to create the table centerpiece that year. Looking back it was probably not that awesome… but in my eyes it was beautiful. Helping my mom create holiday experiences created a love for entertaining that shaped who I am today and the career path I ultimately chose for my life. Letting your kids participate allows them to take ownership and gives them a sense of accomplishment and brings you together as a family.

4. Bake– There is something about baking for the holidays gets you into the spirit of the day. You don’t need to make a full dessert spread… but take some time to bake one or two of your favorite recipes. Here is a downloadable link to Jamie’s incredible pecan pie that you see in these pictures. You can also visit her step by step tutorial that walks you through the whole process. Our blog also has her delicious recipes for pumpkin pie and apple pie and our favorite gingersnap recipe and tutorial! If you want to create something special for Thanksgiving morning, you can also check out our cinnamon roll recipe

5. Simplify your meal– Ok… I’m going to be honest… I love to bake and decorate for any holiday, but I find little joy in cooking. It can be overwhelming. If I can offer any advice here, I would suggest to simplify. You can ask Jamie… I always have grandiose ideas and expectations of what I can accomplish in the kitchen, and then I underestimate how long everything is going to take and it becomes overwhelming… and messy. It is hard to feel present when you are busy checking recipes and just focused on a meal that is ultimately going to be consumed in a matter of minutes.  

Remember… you don’t need 30 side dishes to have an amazing menu. Maybe it is time to release that family recipe that that no one really likes to eat anyway. My suggestion? Simplify. Simplify your menu to just a few sides to enjoy along with your turkey,  and simplify your need to make it all yourself. Many grocery stores, caterers and restaurants now offer Thanksgiving meals where you can pick and choose the components you want to add to your table. I used to think this was cheating… but now I think it is brilliant. The turkey on our table for this shoot is from our friends at Deru Market. If you are local to the Seattle area, I highly suggest checking out their Thanksgiving menu available for pick up.

And if you still have that strong desire to roast your own turkey, Chef Jamie from Deru has provided our readers this amazing guide to roasting the perfect turkey! 

6. Let go of the need for perfection-  I think when we talk about making something beautiful and significant, it is easy for people to interpret that to mean that things have to be perfect. Beautiful and perfection are two very different things, and I think it can be dangerous to interchange those words. For me, making something beautiful refers to the heart behind what you are doing while making something perfect is an unachievable expectation that creates a lot of pressure and removes the joy from what you are doing. Let go of the need for perfection and change your focus to making the holiday meaningful. Maybe you don’t have matching dishes or nice linens. It doesn’t matter. Use what you have and the heart behind what you are doing is what makes it beautiful. Maybe your kids can’t sit through a long formal meal. Don’t make them!  And remember these editorial photoshoots only tell part of the story- my kids are kids and run around and grab things off the table, and bite into the dried corn and even grab a fistful of turkey and stuffing before they can be stopped. Strive to make your holiday meaningful and memorable… not perfect. 

7. Choose your attitude.  It might feel hard to enjoy Thanksgiving this year if you are missing your larger gathering of family and friends. I get it. After a long year of working through cancelled, postponed and reduced- guest- sized- weddings… I have a bit of covid- fatigue and the thought of minimizing Thanksgiving and limiting how we can celebrate really irked me, although I understand the intention behind it. But when I changed my attitude and thought about how special this Thanksgiving can be with just our family… spending time with them and being present with them… my irritation of the government advised distancing dissipated. I’m excited to sit around a smaller table with my kids, teaching them about Thanksgiving, discussing the importance of giving thanks, and hearing what they are each thankful for. Like the rest of 2020, it is going to be a year to remember.

So while thanksgiving might look a little different this year, lets remember what the heart of this day is all about. I’m going to choose to make the day beautiful and invite you to do the same.

photography: Mary Pastuh Photography 

flowers: Sinclair and Moore At Home

dark brown candles: Cost Plus World Market – found in store, but not available online

light beige candles: The Floral Society (I used the petal color)

velvet linen rental: Cort, LaTavola

napkins: William Sonoma 

plates: Kate Metten

Servingware and silver candle holders: finds from Goodwill and Vintage Stores

Recipe Design: Plume Calligraphy

Browned Butter Pecan Pie Downloadable Recipe

Herb- Butter Roasted Turkey Downloadable Guide

Five Thousand Cranes and a Yurt Village

I’ll always remember the cold November day that we flew to an island in the Pacific Northwest for a site visit with our clients to examine the property where their weekend wedding would be held. Outwardly I was calm, collected and positive… internally I was overwhelmed. The property was beautiful, the cliffs overlooking the water were breathtaking… but essentially what we faced was an un-level, vast open field with no running water to tap into and no electricity to pull from. Add on top of that the concern that the island where the wedding would be hosted did not have enough lodging to accommodate all of the guests for the long weekend. If that wasn’t enough to process and work through, the clients then asked us to create a wedding that combined their love of aviation, adventure, literature, the out doors, Lord of the Rings and Narnia. They wanted an “other-worldy” ethereal experience that was classy and elegant and not cheesy.

Needless to say there was a lot to take in and a lot to figure out… and only nine and a half months remaining before the wedding.

We rose to the challenge and created a wedding that I would define as one of the highlights of my career. We problem solved the lodging shortage by building out and hosting an entire village of yurts. I completely re-designed and flipped the original concept of the reception design just a week before the wedding when a rental company did not have the additional chairs to accommodate the unexpected increased guest count. We folded five thousand paper cranes when the ones I ordered arrived the week of the wedding completely unusable. Every single detail was intentionally curated with purpose and then thoughtfully meticulously executed.

While this was one of the most challenging weddings I’ve ever produced in my entire career, the challenges made me feel so creatively alive in a way that I hadn’t felt in a long time. The project was such an honor and joy to be a part of, and I’ll remember this celebration for the rest of my life.

The most special part of this entire wedding was who we created it for. The bride and groom are two of the most kind, generous, gracious, thoughtful and trusting humans I have ever met and have had the gift of working together with. Their belief in our ability, their willingness to listen to us and let us guide them, their trust in our process and the design vision I presented, and the freedom they gave me to just create was the true magic in this process and what yielded the results that follow.

And, although I’ve already written too much… I would be very remiss not to mention my incredible team and the all- star cast of vendors, without whom none of this would have been possible. In addition to producing three incredible events throughout the weekend, we essentially produced and ran a hotel on property. I asked a lot out of my team and vendors that week and they completely delivered at the highest level, working around the clock to make magic. I’m eternally grateful.

If you want to see all the behind the scenes of how this wedding came together, be sure to watch all of the highlights from Instagram! 

 

To see the video highlights of the day, created by Kindly, you can click here.

Photography: Kristen Marie Parker

Planning, Design and Flowers: Sinclair and Moore 

Catering: Deru Market

Cake: Midori Bakery

Yurts: Under Canvas

Marquis and rentals: Cort Party Rentals

Lighting: LightSmiths

Specialty Rentals: Urban Parlour

Place Settings: Casa De Perrin 

Linens: La Tavola 

Stationery: Grey and Cake

Welcome Boxes: Marigold and Grey

 

 

 

 

This is Forty

We celebrated my fortieth birthday with a small and intimate dinner party for twenty-two of our closest friends. It was a night that combined all of my favorite things: we wore bow ties, ate burgers, sipped champagne, cut into six of the best cakes ever baked, enjoyed intentional conversations and laughed the night away. Did I mention that Jamie surprised me with a gospel choir that serenaded me… for what felt like an extended period of time? Even my kids got to be part of the night and were there at the beginning to help me blow my candles out! I wanted this party to be more than just about my birthday… I wanted it to be a night to celebrate meaningful friendships and a way to say thank you to the people who have had the biggest impact on my life over the last decade. I wrote letters to each guest and had the opportunity to go around the table and tell each person what they meant to me and the significance they have played in my life. It was a beautiful evening that I will never forget.

If I learned anything over the last ten years, it is that ANYTHING is possible. My thirties were a decade of significant changes and growth for me. I met Jamie, fell in love and asked her to be my wife. We got married and Jamie joined my business. We renamed Steven Moore Designs to Sinclair & Moore and made it our business. We relocated to Seattle, made a baby, bought a house and then made two more babies. I went from planning and designing small local weddings to creating weddings all over the world, working with clients and companies that I use to only dream of working with. I’ve had good years. I’ve had bad years. I’ve taken risks, made mistakes, grown from challenges and continued to dream for big things. I’ve had to learn all kinds of new roles…including how to be a good husband, father and boss to the employees in our company. My faith has increased and I’ve seen mountains move before me. I’ve met some of the greatest humans I’ve ever known and cultivated intentional friendships I know I’ll walk the rest of my life with.

I started my thirties alone, and I closed out the decade with a full house, a full life and a full heart. ANYTHING is possible… ANYTHING can come to fruition.

As we start a new year and a new decade, my heart is full and my mind is racing. My heart is full of gratitude for what has already come to pass and the blessings that surround me every day. Simultaneously, my mind is racing with the possibilities that lie ahead and await me in the years to come. I feel consumed with answering the probing question in my mind… “what if….?” There are exciting changes on the horizon, including some that will require a huge leap of faith. While nervous and anxious at times, I’ve learned not to live in fear of the future. Instead I eagerly await the peeks and valleys that lie ahead, being stretched into something new, the lessons that will be learned and the relationships I get to walk through these next years with.

I think my forties and the twenty-twenties might be the best decade yet and I am truly believing that the best is yet to come. Lets do this!

To see behind the scenes video of putting this event together, and hear the gospel choir singing you can view my archived instagram stories here!

So grateful to all of my friends and vendors who contributed to making this such a special celebration:

photography: Kristen,  Kristen Marie Photography

venue: Canlis  (Thank you for indulging my request to go outside of your norm and creating the perfect craft burger for us to enjoy!)

hotel: Fairmont Olympic  (thank you Andrew for spoiling our family and taking such good care of us)

cake collection: Chef Jamie, Deru Market 

monogrammed cake: Morgan, Midori Bakery

flowers: Gracie and Ryan, Grace Rose Farms 

stationery: Ashley, Floraison Design Co

calligraphy: Chantelle, Bespoke Strokes

attire: Nordstrom – and a shout out to Donita, an amazing personal stylist at the Flagship in Downtown Seattle. I can not say enough good things about Donita and her attention to detail and the level of care in everything she does!