a thanksgiving table – and an extreme photo shoot

by Sharon Santoni

P1010190OK, so sometimes this blogger gets a little bit, just a tiny incy wincy bit carried away.


Take what happened this morning for example …

Yesterday I said to my friend MT who is staying for a few days: “it would be fun to put together a thanksgiving table” ; to which she replied “mmm.. on an autumn theme .. orange leaves, warm candlelight…” ; to which I replied “we could lay the table in the forest ” and to which she replied – without batting an eyelid – “I’ll check the weather report for tomorrow morning” ..


And that, my friends, is how I found myself in a car heading around to the other side of the forest where the access is easy, with MT sitting beside me balancing crystal chandeliers on her knees and my dear son, bless him, following up in his car carrying dogs, a table and a … ladder!


An hour later we had lost the dogs (why are we not surprised?) but we had a wonderful table happening in the middle of a bright orange, sun filled forest.


Said chandeliers were suspended from suitable branches; a makeshift table positioned beneath and then all sorts of props were lifted from baskets and just sort of came together.


If you have read this blog for a while, you’ll remember that every year I am wistful about the whole thanksgiving thing, but here is my holiday gift to you.  A little whimsy amid your busy preparations


with love to you from me …

P1010296and the dogs!



Mimi November 26, 2013 - 12:29 pm

Absolutely beautiful!

Fit November 26, 2013 - 12:43 pm

What a pick me up amidst all this chaos! Beautifully done. Sounds like you had fun doing it …….

vicki archer November 26, 2013 - 12:44 pm

Gorgeous… such a magical table… It was worth the stupendous effort… xv

Lynda Bergman November 26, 2013 - 12:48 pm

Such an effort and so beautiful!! Always love when the dogs are included in your posts. Lynda

Kelly November 26, 2013 - 12:50 pm

Lovely! Very thankful for efforts like this!

Vicky Dickens November 26, 2013 - 12:51 pm

Stunning! I wish our Thanksgiving setting was going to look like yours but alas, we’ll be eating inside this year. Your beautiful pictures are worth all your efforts – thank you! So where did you get that beautiful Barn Owl?! Surely he/she didn’t just show up for your shoot! It appears as if it’s really giving you “the eye”.

Sharon SANTONI November 26, 2013 - 1:04 pm

Ah ha Vicki, I have great influence in our forest, and the owl was delighted to accept my invitation !


Carol November 26, 2013 - 12:51 pm

Love your adding the glow of copper pots. The chandelier lends something quite fascinating for an outdoor venue. The entire vignette is an inspiration!

Cheryll Kaczkowski (Corinne) November 26, 2013 - 12:55 pm

When I saw this post I was thrilled. Absolutely wonderful! Since I live in a forest it provided a very distinct possibility, except, we had 5 inches of snow overnight, Te He! Thank you, thank you for doing this. Love it. ps. of course any event with a dog or two makes it even better.

Sharon SANTONI November 26, 2013 - 1:05 pm

But Cheryll, it would be even more beautiful in the snow!


Kim Gibson November 26, 2013 - 1:15 pm

That tablescape feels like it was ripped from the pages of a book of fairytales. The litlle girl inside of me is giddy! I want to believe the beautiful owl was an unexpexted guest at your magical party in the forest.

Sharon SANTONI November 26, 2013 - 3:08 pm

Did you notice the owl in the very first picture – if you look hard enough you’ll find him …waiting on the sideline! …


Kate Abt Design November 26, 2013 - 1:18 pm

Sharon – absolutely beautiful setting and so much fun to do! Especially love your little guests too!

Sally Maton Hemming November 26, 2013 - 1:22 pm

Love the wol! And the chandelier too.

Val November 26, 2013 - 1:22 pm

That puts a whole new slant on dining outdoors! What a fun lovely idea.

Joanne/Madame Là-bas November 26, 2013 - 1:33 pm

I really love all things autumn. The leaves, the copper, the gourds look so magical and inviting!

Deborah Carter November 26, 2013 - 1:37 pm

I love it! What a lot of work you went to! But what a splendid result! The colours, leaves, copper, pumpkins, all work together beautifully and with the chandelier above, how gorgeous. Just as well Ghetto and Gibson decided to attend. It looks like a magical fairyland setting!
Deborah from Melbourne, Aust.

Karen (Back Road Journal) November 26, 2013 - 1:38 pm

What a delight…thank you! Your inspiration and hard work is much appreciated. 🙂

Tamara Tennant November 26, 2013 - 1:41 pm

How wonderful for you all to express your creativity for yourselves and for our enjoyment in nature! Beautiful! And those dogs… are just wonderful! Love the scarf! xo

Delaine Stoner November 26, 2013 - 1:48 pm

This is the most breathtaking Thanksgiving table I’ve ever seen… Dining al fresco at its very best! Thank you so much at making one of my favorite holidays even more special! All your efforts are very much appreciated!! Merci! Merci! Merci!

Pat Frank November 26, 2013 - 1:52 pm


What an absolutely gorgeous setting for a wonderful get-together! Pure magic! I almost expect to see the forrest faries join you for your dinner! I love the pictures of Gibson and Ghetto, such cuties!

Thanks for sharing your lovely setting!


Barbara V November 26, 2013 - 1:52 pm

Would love to eat my Thanksgiving dinner there!

Denise November 26, 2013 - 1:58 pm

What a lovely thanksgiving. Love those dogs. Very creative its nice your son got involved. It looks like we will be having a white Thanksgiving here. This morning it looks more like Christmas. Love the chandelier.

david terry November 26, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Well, Sharon….your readers should get at least a chuckle out of this recent New York times article on the perils and frustrations of attempting to stage a Thanksgiving dinner in France. Go to:


As I think I’ve told you, Herve’s (for those who don’t know, my partner’s French) told me, with much eye-rolling, each year of the many-many-many times folks in his office here in America have asked him (as they pack up on Wednesday for their long&busy Thanksgiving weekend) “So…what do people do in France for Thanksgiving?????”…..

I’m actually not “doing” Thanksgiving this year. I told all my friends in Virginia that I was going to Tennessee to be with my family, and I’ve told my family that I was going to Virginia, and I’ve told everyone hereabouts that I haven’t decided whether I’m going to Tennessee or Virginia.

Between all of thse lies/evasion, I hope that I’ll be able to spend Thanksgiving Day getting ready (this will involve finding something actually clean and pressed and decent to wear) for my first opening at a gallery I very much admire…..on Friday night.

Do enjoy the New York Times article, which is amusing.

Level Best as Ever,
David Terry

Eileen November 26, 2013 - 2:04 pm

Thanks for going the extra mile, literally! Really a beautiful experience!!

Julia November 26, 2013 - 2:14 pm

What a splendid table! I love how the harvest is just bursting out of the serving dishes. The whole display definitely has a Thankful and Abundant feel to it. Rich colors, Beautiful display. I thoroughly enjoyed it and my mind sat on one of those velvety chairs and breathed deep. Thank you! Thanks also to your great friend and son.

Colleen Taylor November 26, 2013 - 2:58 pm

Only you would think of something so original & lovely Sharon. Love the chandelier effect. I’m sure you had a rollicking good time & those dogs once again so precious. The owl is a HOOT! Thank you & Happy Thanksgiving to you & your family. XO

Sharon SANTONI November 26, 2013 - 3:07 pm

I was wondering if anyone would dare say the owl was a hoot ! well done Colleen !


Maggie November 26, 2013 - 3:01 pm

Just beautiful! Thank you for sharing through this inspirational blog… And Instagram!!! I must add.. I DO love your charming dogs…..

Lindsay Abigail November 26, 2013 - 3:06 pm

Thank You Sharon for a Beautiful Table.
and Happy Thanks giving from Southern California

cheri November 26, 2013 - 3:29 pm

Simply divine, Sharon….

SarahB November 26, 2013 - 3:30 pm

Sharon, I could TOTALLY see myself doing such a thing given the opportunity! You’re a creative person and NEED that outlet! Great job!

hopflower November 26, 2013 - 3:44 pm

Beautiful post. My family is English, and we do not celebrate it.

Linda Quast November 26, 2013 - 3:55 pm

Hi Sharon,

What a gorgeous set of photos! I am off to work, and the preparations for Thanksgiving are beginning this afternoon. You have inspired me to make our table look even more special. I am so happy you posted some photos of your dogs. Love them all.

Lorrie November 26, 2013 - 4:03 pm

I can just imagine the FUN you had with your friend. It’s grown-up play and so needed in our all-too-serious world. I love the magical, fairy-tale atmosphere you created. And I see your pooch showed up just in time to be the star of the show with his dapper scarf on.

Sarah November 26, 2013 - 4:06 pm

Bravo! You’ve created the perfect ambiance for a Thanksgiving feast. It’s obvious how much fun you and your friend enjoyed pulling this all together. So glad you were inspired!
Love the photos of the dogs! And the owl, oh, my!!!
Happy Thanksgiving in Normandy! ~ Sarah

Susie November 26, 2013 - 4:29 pm

Beautiful – those puppies always make me smile!!!!

Peggy Braswell November 26, 2013 - 5:04 pm

I see the owl made the party + doggies. Stunning! Happy Thanksgiving. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

jen owens November 26, 2013 - 5:07 pm

Sharon- What a beautiful setting! I am thankful for your beautiful images and words throughout the year but, I am most thankful to say it is a true pleasure to know you! All the best to you and your family- Happy Thanksgiving!!! ~Jen (Love the copper on the table and that wood bread tray is great!)

Contessa November 26, 2013 - 5:12 pm

I see the dogs found WATER!!!!!!!!
I thought you are BRITISH???No THANKS ~GIVING in ENGLAND!
Your table looks lovely………..love the chair GHETTO has taken over for his throne!
This year the TURKEY will be cooked in the pizza oven!Italian husbands job!I will do the rest………I better getting moving as I could sit here all morning and read these blogs!YOur photos are beautiful……are you pleased with the new camera???

Sharon SANTONI November 26, 2013 - 5:19 pm

Yes my dear’ Contessa, I am British, but having spent so much time with American friends , either virtually or for real , I am totally jealous of your Thanksgiving celebration, and each year I seem to get a little closer to my own Thanksgiving party … one day maybe


Pat Smith November 26, 2013 - 6:45 pm

Sharon you are so creative!

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon November 26, 2013 - 6:58 pm

That Ghetto is looking very French with his scarf.

Sharon SANTONI November 28, 2013 - 8:20 am

Mais oui, bien sur!

Katherine November 26, 2013 - 7:33 pm

Glad that even our British friends (comme mon mari) can enjoy this joyous holiday. From an American, also in France, who is wistful for Thanksgiving at “home” for many years, thank you for this lovely post. And thanks for adding your furry rascals….they looked right at home.

Jeanne McKay Hartmann November 26, 2013 - 7:54 pm

Sharon, This is pure magic. I am quite thankful that you got a bit carried away – with such amazing results. I’m grateful for the time you took to create something so beautiful to share with us. Wow. Thanks so much to you, MT, and the delightful dogs. And while you may be wistful about Thanksgiving, you clearly have it in your heart. XOXO

Emm November 26, 2013 - 8:52 pm

Love it! Dogs and candles and apples and pumpkins and Wol, oh my. Beautiful, and a good bit sunnier and drier than it’s going to be in much of the eastern US.
Thank you, and happy day to you and yours.

Jackie Layton November 26, 2013 - 8:57 pm

I love this. Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving!

TracyB November 26, 2013 - 9:20 pm

So lovely!! I wish my Thanksgiving table was set out in the woods!

Leslie in Portland, Oregon November 26, 2013 - 10:13 pm

How absolutely delightful!!! You know how to really live, Sharon. The tableau you, your friend and your son created is a work of art and play that is so wonderful. And the fact that you took the dogs with you, and let them both run wild and play with you, makes it even better. I think you have made the best Thanksgiving tableau ever! Admiringly, Leslie

P.S. I do have three questions: (1) what is “wol”? (2) did you sit down and partake at the table? (3) where on the sidelines is the owl in the first photograph?

sharon - my french country home November 27, 2013 - 6:52 am

Hi Leslie, I’m afraid we didn’t sit down to eat at the table, with hindsight maybe we should have done, but it was only 5° out there, so we weren’t looking to hang around! I’m also sorry to say that I’m not sure what wol is, maybe an affectionate term for an owl, possibly inspired by Winnie the Pooh…. and the owl itself, come on! you can see him, he’s watching you from a tree on the left

Leslie in Portland, Oregon November 28, 2013 - 7:50 am

Thank you–now I can make him out! I thought that wol possibly was the name for the white dessert, but now that you mention it, it’s most likely a typo of owl. I guess I was more enchanted by your tableau than I realized…!

Esther George November 26, 2013 - 10:42 pm

Hi Sharon thank you for sharing your beautiful table with us. This is my favourite time of the year even though we don’t have thanksgiving over on this side of the planet I do enjoy watching all the table decorating celebrations. Regards Esther from Sydney.

valerie November 26, 2013 - 10:47 pm

that dog !!! I cant remember his /her name but s/he is so photogenic in every way…. I remember the ‘escape antic’ post a bit back that you said he’s a mutt ..alas… if only you could breed another like him.. I would find a way to get the pup to me in the states. Yours is the only blog I read… because of your wonderful pics. BTW, I tried that same camera awhile ago but returned it because the colors did not look right to me – I am enjoying seeing how you are working with it.

valerie November 26, 2013 - 11:01 pm

I should have said that both your dogs are great – the golden in a real beauty, but that little one, I just love him !

Dee November 27, 2013 - 12:22 am

Us Aussies we don’t have thanksgiving either. It should be one holiday embraced world wide. Taking time to acknowledge and be thankful. Thank you for the time and effort to create a little piece of magic

Anita Rivera November 27, 2013 - 12:52 am

Sharon! Your dogs are so darling and that OWL! Oh my, what enchanting moments! Happy FALL! Anita

caroline November 27, 2013 - 1:38 am

Beautiful setting…and the colours…..

Did you get to sit, enjoy and feast at the table or was it purely for the pleasure of the camera, the hoot of a time you had setting up and another chance to lose the dogs???

alison November 27, 2013 - 5:37 am

Just divine!!! I can’t believe I have just discovered this blog!!! I am in heaven and live for the day that I can live the dream in france!!!!

Amanda Rush November 27, 2013 - 8:37 am

Hi Sharon, what amazing pictures of “your” forest – as we have never seen it before 🙂 Such beautiful colours, in nature and your styling. Thanks very much to you and your helpers for such a fun series of images! best wishes, Amanda.

Cynthia November 27, 2013 - 9:45 am

How beautiful! And what a great idea! I simply love it! Great job on the set up! you and your friend worked really hard and the payoff is gorgeous!

Pam November 27, 2013 - 10:27 am

Hi Sharon!!!

I just love the way MT says, ‘I’ll go check the weather for tomorrow morning!!’

I think doing things like this is so much fun!!! Things great friends and a son do
and will be so funny to reflect upon in the future!!

And lastly, you brought your two furry friends to add to the day. LOVE IT!!!

Have a great week!!!


Vanessa Easlea November 27, 2013 - 1:42 pm

Truly atmospheric pictures… Happy Holidays!

Trudye November 27, 2013 - 1:43 pm

What great fun this scene must have been to style! Good friend,willing son and of course your four legged helpers, all making merry in the forest! Hopefully, you had some wine or other spirits to chase away the chill! This is a beautiful Thanksgiving vignette bathed in Autumn light. Thank you for setting the scene and pulling me into the monitor for a seat beside Ghetto and Gibson! T

Kathryn November 27, 2013 - 8:06 pm

Isn’t it great to have a friend that reacts with “I’ll check the weather”? The very best kind. To say nothing of a son who slogs out with the mutts and paraphernalia. It’s always such a pleasure to find yourself in the company of people who are game for a lark. Really loved all the whimsical pictures. The leaves, the table, the chandeliers and best of all, the dogs and the owl.

Jessica Conick November 29, 2013 - 4:59 pm

I love this!!

Pat November 19, 2018 - 5:48 pm

Lovely, and so clever that you invited the owl to join the fun!

Ida Duplechin November 29, 2019 - 6:00 pm

Sharon- this is such a beautiful setting & I can “hear” the fairytale story in my head of the little girl discovering this in the forest. Marvelous!


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