As readers of this blog already know, I ain’t no writer. Having said that, when Times food section editor, Russ Parsons, asked me if I could do a piece on creating last-minute Thanksgiving centerpieces, I recklessly agreed. See, I was so excited by the prospect of coming up with the centerpieces I just figured I would deal with the whole writing part later. Meanwhile, my tireless partner, Paul, suffered through my parts-gathering for the projects; then suffered further when I had made up 8 (!) centerpieces and almost every kitchen surface was covered with the various bits and pieces for a few weeks. I showed photos of the pieces to Russ and he picked which he wanted to run in the newspaper (above; to be professionally shot at The Times). Oh, and the story? Russ said it should be about 800 words — Aaack!
This set off the manic typing of at least 1,327 drafts (all immediately deleted upon completion). I also had to take everything I would need to re-create the pieces that would run in print, to the newspaper’s photo studio in downtown L.A … and then turn in the story … Finally, I re-wrote it for the last time, took a deep breath and emailed it to Russ just before going on a week’s vacation. While off that week I received some notes from Russ, and after some further not-0verly painful editing, the whole shebang was finished.
You can read the piece here, as well as see the professionally photographed versions of the centerpieces pictured above. The mini-succulent garden made the cover
The above group of four set-ups appear online on The Times’ website here. My personal fave is the faux succulent group. Don’t you think the unshelled-nut ‘gravel’ really sets off the colors of the seasonal squashes?… um, maybe it’s just me…
This last of the 8 centerpiece ensembles, I gave over to another Times’ product, BrandX, for their gift guide issue which appears on the same day as the Food section. It’s one of three do-it-yourself gift projects by staffers. You can see all of them here.
What am I most grateful for this Thanksgiving? That these projects are finished, that the editor’s of the sections involved asked me to participate in this way and that they look great in both the print and online editions of the newspaper. Try some of these projects — they’re really easy!