Suzi's Blog

Setting the Table: A Lovely Centerpiece for Your Holiday Table

People often bring things to a holiday party. For post-Thanksgiving party, Cynthia Beckman brought the centerpiece. It would be an vast understatement to say Cynthia is a decorating genius. It help, of course, that she simply loves making anything she is around beautiful.

Cynthia’s centerpiece concept here is elegant, rich, and simply. First, get some plastic wrap. Yes, plastic wrap. The evergreen branches you lie down can scratch a surface or leave residue that will drive you nuts. So, here’s the centerpiece plan:

  • Line the center strip of the table with plastic wrap
  • Top the plastic wrap with overlapping evergreen branches, ideally freshly cut and fragrant
  • Dot the branches with fruit for color contrast: apples, oranges, pomegranates, pears, …
  • Add pine cones, of course
  • If you wish, add some candles but be careful of placement and fire concerns with those branches

It all works. And, it’s portable. This dining room array for our Olive house went home the next day to New York City where it sits on a side buffet. Yes, we need to refresh the branches now and then but this easy yet stunning decoration will carry us through the holidays.


Size Does Matter: Substituting Round Pans for Square


“I looked,” I said. “I can’t find one.”

Suzen turned and looked at me. She began to say, “That’s a load of …” But she stopped. “I’ll look,” she said. “We have one.”

“Oh, I know we have one, Suzen. I just don’t know where.”

We needed an 8” square pan. We were in our Olive kitchen and we could not find that pan there. We both searched the Olive basement, too, but it wasn’t there either. Which meant, since we do have that pan, it must be in our Tribeca kitchen. Or, it was in the Tribeca basement. Both of those were 120 miles away.

It is easy to calculate that an 8” square pan has 64 square inches. It is a little less easy to determine that a 9” round pan has 63.6 inches. So we could substitute. And that is what we did.

It works going up and down, too. A 7” square pan is 49 square inches while an 8” round is 50.2. A 9” square pan is 81 square inches while a 10” round is 78.5 square inches.

It is an easy rule to remember, for common sizes, if you need a pan that is N x N inches, then get a round one that is N+1 inches in diameter.

It’s close enough for government work. If you are using the pan for baking, be sure to check early and often. Your baking time will be affected by a minute or two.