This year, my family is embracing the idea of being home for the holidays. We are making the choice to remain hopeful, and positive and to never pass by a chance to celebrate the things that we are thankful for. With Thanksgiving next week, I wanted to share some tips and tricks with you so that you could create a beautiful holiday table at home for your family.

I have learned a few tricks over the years as a floral and event designer to decorate with items that you can source just about anywhere, even from your local grocery and hardware store, and of course our online shop! I am no stranger to trimming twigs and berries from the roadside to add to my centerpieces as that perfect missing piece, or rummaging through that back closet in my house full of random vases and candle holders. To me, it's not about using the perfect pieces, it's about creating a welcoming and natural look that reflects the season. There is always beauty in the imperfections.

So here we go, come along for the ride as I walk you through how to decorate a budget friendly Thanksgiving table.

I like to start with what I call the base layer. This is what sets the tone for your whole table. In this case, I used a farm table that my dad built, but draped it with a drop cloth from our local hardware store to create a neutral background for the other decor. Yes, you read that right, a drop cloth! You can get them in just about any size and weight. They are the perfect affordable table cloth. The one that I purchased was about 12x15 feet and cost roughly $29 at our local hardware store. I also realize many people might not have access to a hand-made farm table from their incredibly talented dad, so you can use any old table you have.

Next, we added a little texture with linen napkins and a cheesecloth runner. We purchased a large roll of the cheesecloth from from a wedding we did last year, and had a lot left over. You can easily omit this piece, or if you're celebrating with kids, you can use craft paper or un-waxed parchment paper as your table runner. Add a small bundle of crayons tied with twine at their place setting, and they will love getting to decorate the table during dinner!

Once you have your base layer, you get to start adding all of the fun elements. This is where I utilized the grocery store, and a thicket behind my shed full of snowberries for the majority of my tabletop decor. I purchased Bosc pears and rummaged through the squash bin to find some Blue Hubbard squash. I loved the soft shades of color and texture that they added to the table.

Since there aren't many flowers in season right now, and the grocery store looked pretty bare in the floral department, I decided to take my clippers to the backyard and see what I could find. In the pacific northwest, we have the most beautiful snowberries just about everywhere. I decided to keep my bouquets minimal, and tucked the berries into a set of bud vases from my online shop. A tip that I have for you when designing centerpieces is to not over think it. When you overthink them, that's when they don't look natural, and your attempt at perfection typically ends up looking like a big mess. Instead, try to think of how you see flowers in their natural habitat, usually untamed and effortlessly beautiful. When all else fails, grab a handful of flowers or twigs, and shove them into a vase. You will most likely be surprised at how beautiful it turns out!

Next it's time to move onto the candlelight and any additional greenery or branches you'd like to add to the table. I chose to use brass candlestick holders I have in my wedding inventory (which you will be able to purchase soon over on our online shop!) and beeswax taper candles. I carry these in my shop, but you can also typically find them at more natural grocers like Whole Foods and PCC. Another way to add warmth to the table is with tea light candles if you have some lying around the house. A tip is to use odd numbers when using candles, which tends to be more pleasing to the eye. Three or five candles is a great look!

I added some more texture to the table with small bundles of sage and rosemary which overwinter nicely in my yard. If you don't have any at home, you can purchase it in packs at the grocery store as well. I love the freshness this adds to the table, and the pop of green is a nice contrast.

Now this next step is where you can get fancy! But don't worry, it is actually pretty simple! I wanted to add a little bit more of a "wow" factor, so I decided to cut some big branches from a big Copper Beech tree we have in our yard. I have done many installations with these branches over the years, I just love it! Get creative with what you have around (google it to make sure it's ok to pick if you're unsure!) and see what a fun installation you can create. I chose to cut 3-4 ft. branches to attach to my ceiling rafters. I just draped them over the top and used some push pins to secure them where I could. If you don't have an easy place to attach these to the ceiling, you could always do a large bundle of branches in a vase on a buffet table in the background! I also took some small branches of the copper beech and draped it down the center of the table. It didn't take much, but it added a nice element.

One of my biggest goals when I am setting a table, whether it's for a holiday or for a wedding, is to make it feel warm and welcoming. I want people to feel like they can eat whatever, drink whatever, spill whatever and just have a relaxed time with their loved ones. This year, that might mean putting out a perfectly imperfect cheeseboard, or extra treats on the table for people to enjoy at their leisure. Eat the pie first if you'd like! Or stash a handful of salted honey caramels in your pocket for later. You do you! Enjoy yourself and make yourself at home.

Lastly, remember to enjoy yourself and soak in this slower paced holiday. We might not be able to gather the way we have in the past, but there is a great opportunity to truly embrace your own home and family, and to create some new memories. If you take anything away from this post, I hope it's that your table doesn't have to be perfect. Pour yourself a glass of wine, have fun trying out some new found decorating skills, give yourself a break and think about all that there is to be thankful for. I send you all of my love this Thanksgiving, and I am so very thankful for all of you!

- Leah

Sources for our tabletop decor

Drop cloth - Local Hardware Store

Cheesecloth -

Napkins - Bloom San Juan

Bud Vases - Bloom San Juan

Candles - Bloom San Juan

Candle Holders - coming soon!

Cheeseboard - Bloom San Juan

Canape Knives - Bloom San Juan

Mustard Bowl - Bloom San Juan

Blush Cake/Pie plate - Bloom San Juan

Fruit and Squash - Local grocery store

Shop online at Bloom San Juan here.

Photography by La Vie Photography

107 views0 comments

It's the time of year where we all get together with the ones we love. We eat, we drink and we laugh a lot. There are lots of hugs, full bellies and even a couple of squabbles. Is that a word? It just felt like a good word to use there. You know what I mean though, we like most of the people we see, but there are always a few that we night have to put on a happy face for, you know, we've all got that crazy Unc..... You get my point.

This past summer, we hosted a dinner at our house here on San Juan Island. We had been toying with the idea of hosting more events here, so it was a great trial run. Only problem is, we loved it so much we wanted to do it every week. But that also equals a lot of work!

To me, gathering together has never been about having the perfect decor, perfect food, or perfect outfit to wear. Sure I enjoy cozy homes, good food and fancy new clothes. But there is also something so wonderful about things that are a little more worn in, authentic and true to who we are. The people are what make those times we get together the most special.

Every year I have a million half burned candles leftover from the wedding season before. For this dinneI raided goodwill for wine glasses and silverware. I have a pretty solid collection of white plates and serving platters, and a stash of the most beautiful farm tables made by my Dad. (Which he rents to people on the island, Folks!)

We pulled all of the pieces together, cooked a million meatballs, drank good beer from our friends over at San Juan Brewing, shared laughs and made some great memories.

And in true Ryan Family tradition, we do a big 1-2-3 HOORAY before our meal to celebrate all that is good in life, and sometimes even just yelling hooray makes you forget about the bad things, if only just for a minute.

So cheers to you, this season in your life, whatever or wherever that may be. We'll hold you close to our hearts and hopefully we'll get you up here one day for a big ol' HOORAY and family dinner by the sea, sipping bourbon by the fire well into the night with us.

Until next time!


Kestrel Bailey Photography

56 views0 comments

Welcome to the first post for Bloom San Juan! It's that time of year when things get really busy on the salt end of the business. For those of you new here, I'm Leah, owner of this flowers business, and my husband Brady runs a salt company on the island called San Juan Island Sea Salt. Our busy seasons tend to be separate, which ends up being a great thing for us and our sanity. My season is all hands on deck April-September, and his peaks in November and December. This means that come the New Year, we typically take a week to collapse onto the couch before realizing we miss working and then start the business planning process for the upcoming year. Although this year might be different with a toddler, might be less couch naps, insert cry face here. We work a lot at night after Sawyer (15 months) goes to bed. We call this "3rd shift." When the dishes are put away, the floor is swept, the toys are picked up (my personal nemesis lately are those damn wooden puzzles of his that I have to do evvverrryyyy night, there's always some chicken, zebra or something missing, who's with me?!)

As the season comes to a close we can't help but look back and think about what a wild, wonderful year this has been for us. At the beginning of the flower season, we had a 6 month old, now here he is, running around making bird noises and yelling, "Whoa baby!" This year has been the best one yet for both of our businesses. I don't know if we just focused more because we had limited time with a new baby, or if we're finally getting the hang of things and finally reaping what we've sown.

With great success also comes some big mistakes, blows to our egos and even not-so-fun convos with people that we need to have those not-so-fun convos with. We're learning to navigate these situations better, brush them off, not take things personally (I am so bad at this by the way) and learning to support each other through all of it.

Brady and I have had to learn how to communicate better, to let go of the petty arguments, mostly because we're too tired to argue it out. We definitely still have our struggles trying to balance it all, and I swear people would think I am crazy if they heard some of the crap I bring up to him. It doesn't make sense sometimes, I think I'm just trying to find ways to blow off steam, and bless him for always being there, usually wide eyed and nodding a lot. Men, take note, that helps us ladies.

We would sit down late on Sunday nights and make a plan for the coming week; who was on baby duty, who was working, who was going off island to get supplies, who would ride up above on the ferry with Sawyer, who needed a nap, and who needed a beer (Can you see me raising my hand?)

Aside from the salt and flower business, we've acquired one new feral kitten who now sleeps in our living room. My self declared cat hater personality quickly dissipated upon that little guys arrival. Guilty and cat obsessed. We moved our tiny home Tina to our property where we've hosted many friends and a big dinner party outside her door to kick off the summer. We've painted our wooden ceilings in our mid-century house, and are taking on more renovations this winter, can you say leaky roof and a carport that has chunks falling from it with every rain?

But by far our biggest accomplishment is having a happy kid along for all of this. Sure, Sawyer just started sleeping through the night (read: gets up at 4 AM), but what a treat to get to have a smiling sack of sugar along for the ride.

Thanks for being here, following along on this journey of ours and being so kind and supportive to us! We wouldn't be here without any of you. Cheers to health, happiness, a good nap and a great beer!

More to come,


photos by Casey Sjogren

67 views0 comments