imageI like to think we could have looked like this, but alas, we didn’t!  I know Thanksgiving is behind us but we still have Holiday events to plan in the next month and through the end of the year.  I thought some of our Thanksgiving plans might have some suggestions for your upcoming get togethers and I’ve included a recipe.

Let’s start at the beginning of my visit to Blue Island with Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel for their annual feast.  When I arrived on Tuesday morning Tommy (Tom M) picked me up from the Metra and we went directly to DeMars our usual breakfast place to fortify ourselves for the tasks at hand.  Tommy had already done most of the shopping, including the two turkeys and gotten most of the ingredients for our Thanksgiving dinner for 14, of course, we had to make our way to our usual grocery store, (whenever I visit it is a must) Mariano’s, to get more goodies and forgotten stuff.  Naturally, our visit included a stop at the wine bar for our customary glass of wine, mine a lovely rosé Tommy’s a nice white.  We also picked up some cheeses and paté for that night. While perusing the aisles I found three different duck presentations, I have never seen them in a grocery before and I adore duck…I must put them on my shopping list….a duck breast, a duck confit and a half of duck, pictured below…can’t wait to try them. While I love duck I am not a fan of cooking it…I keep you updated on how it is, as Ina Garten would say, what could be bad!


One of the main reasons we went shopping was for oysters for the dressings (we were doing two one with oysters and one plain).  We finally found two cans there but needed at least 4…we went to every store in the area, Tommy took me home and went to several more stores finally found one more can, we made do with three.  We figured there must have been a run on oysters…even when we asked the staff at the stores they were surprised when they went to the shelves where they should be.  It was rather like a sitcom with us staring at empty shelves expecting the oysters to magically appear!  I spent the time cutting 6 loaves of bread into cubes to let them dry a bit.  So much for Tuesday.  Oh yes, we ate the cheese and pate, more wine, watching HolidayInn and WhiteChristmas…I always shed a tear at the end of that one!

Wednesday was more prep, I made my carrot mold (see the recipe in my archives, it is really, really good) setting the table, making some of the canapes and generally getting ready…we took a lunch break to use my gift card that I won with my gift basket from the Blue Island Christmas Lights Festival fundraiser (this Saturday, it is always a treat to attend, go it you can) I attended a couple of weeks ago, I posted that gift on my Instagram.  Off we went to Double Play Saloon (and it is really an old fashion saloon, great fun!)  Had a very good burger and a Blue Island brew our total tab was $20.00….back we shall go to spend the other $30.00!  Way too much fun.  Picked up the centerpiece did a bit more prep and got ready to go back to the City to see Escape toMargaritaville…pre-Broadway.  We picked up Christine Hawley (Tom H’s sister) from work and made our way to The Dearborn for dinner, one of my most favorite restaurants in Chicago.  Always fabulous food and both the Lawless sisters greeted us and told us they were closed for Thanksgiving to give their staff time with their families, I love the Lawless family, they are THE best!  We left Blue Island quite early thinking traffic would be hideous, it wasn’t so more wine and martinis for us waiting for Tom H to join us.  imageIt was a lively fun show, I must admit I’m not much of a Buffett fan but did enjoy the engery of the performers.  Back to the Island for us and to bed to get ready for the big day….

imageThe tables ready for the guests…such fun to play in someone else’s home with their linens, china, glassware, etc.

Getting the dressing ready….do you think that is enough butter…I did perfect my knife skills (definitely not my forte!) chopping celery, onions and, of course, cubing the bread.  I’m happy to say I didn’t cut myself…yay!!!


imageI want to do this next year…stuffing “muffins”…found on someone’s blog, sorry didn’t keep info but you can use your own recipe.  We put some stuffing in each bird and the rest in casseroles.

imageHot carrot mold slid out perfectly, I precut and plated.

imageThe Tom’s cranberries which we made a couple of weeks ago….yum, yum, yum!!!!

imageTwo of these babies and they were perfection, Tommy decided to use the Confection Oven and they were really, really perfect and delicious and cooked much faster!image

We had cocktails and nibbly bits (oh, yes I made Christy’s dip and cubed the rest of the Standing Rib Roast I had made for Tom’s Birthday a couple of weeks before and the beef from the Beef Wellington Christy had made for his actual Birthday).  Christy and Vicki (Tom H and Christy’s sister) brought some other goodies and Elenor (I have given you recipes from her recipe box on past posts and she has promised me more….yay!) brought two amazing pies…a pumpkin and my all time favorite, mince (which I also ate for breakfast the next morning, I would have eaten the entie thing it was that good!)  The guests arrived around 1:30, the Hawley’s Elenor and Harold, Vicki her husband John and their kids, Emily, Madeline and Jack along with Remus and his mother, Victoria, Ralph and us…..great festive group. Lot’s of food, wine, and great conversation.  No one went home hungry that I can assure you.

imageIncluding the squirrels, who were devouring the pumpkins on the side of the house.  It was fascinating to watch…I think they will probably explode!

Here is the menu….


2 Dressings

Giblet and Plain Gravy

Cranberry Sauce

Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Glazed Carrots

Carrot Mold


Green Bean Casserole

Crescent Rolls

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Mince Pie and Hard Sauce


imageMy Toms with me at the feast….

imageAnd in actuality…Tommy, Nena, and Tom……

From Christine Hawley’s Recipe Box

East Indian Sour Cream Dip

Mix and refrigerate…can be used with anything, veggies, chicken, beef, shrimp…etc.

1/2 cup minced scallion or green onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1 cup sour cream


imageI took this photo with my iPhone while seated in Row X, I think one of the best rows in the House.  Of course, the curtain hadn’t gone up, I would never take photos during any performance.  But isn’t it glorious?  The detail is amazing in its gilding. But I digress…I am going to talk about seeing my most favorite Musical of all time, at this marvel of an Opera House….My Fair Lady!

If you have been following nenasnotes you may recall the post I did on Cecil Beaton when I talked about seeing My Fair Lady the first time…oh, you say, you didn’t see that post…well here is the story!!!  On my very first trip to New York (it was a graduation present from my Father and I went the year after I graduated high school and a year after I started working at Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago) I saw several Broadway shows one of which was my first Broadway show on Broadway (understand that Chicago either had pre-Broadway performances and thankfully we still do, think War Paint for an example, or we had the Original Casts think Yul Brenner in The King and I, which Lyric did brilliantly last year so excellent theater wasn’t new to me or to Chicago!) that show was My Fair Lady with Rex Harrison and Julie Andrews…I mean seriously…. It has been my favorite ever since.  The Cecil Beaton costuming and staging, the marvelous music, all have remained in my memory after all these years.  You can imagine that I was overjoyed when I learned that Lyric was going to mount a production for their 2017 Broadway at Lyric season.


My dear friends (and family!) Tom Hawley and Tom Mantel have been kind and included me for each of the past productions and once again they treated me to a wonderful afternoon of musical theater.  One should never compare people, times and most certainly not new productions of old favorites and I must say I wasn’t disappointed.  What made it special to me was that they didn’t try to copy the original in any way, except, of course, the music and the Shaw story.

imageThe Ascot Scene

imageHenry’s Library getting ready to leave for the Embassy Ball.

The cast was excellent, the set actually very austere and minimalist, done in a neutral palette with the exception of the garments in the Ascot Scene, the gowns (with the exception of Elisa’s lovely white gown) in the Ball scene, Elisa’s dress in Mrs. Higgins’ home and the flowers in Covent Garden.  It is set later in time, just before World War II the original just before World War I.  The large Lyric stage was made more intimate and the scene in Mrs. Higgins’ I loved with its drapery and “Brancusi” sculpture.

imageElisa giving her jewels back to Henry.

The story is based on the original Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw and the Gabriel Pascal movie, Pygmalion, not on the 1956 Broadway production.  Do Henry and Elisa end up together, we will never know, but I certainly hope so being the romantic I am!  Bravo Lyric for yet another superb production. If you haven’t seen it you have until Sunday, May 21st.

Can’t wait for next year’s production of Jesus Christ Superstar, April 27 through May 20, 2018, be sure to mark your calendars now, you know how quickly a year goes.  It along with the 2017-2018 Lyric season information can be found at and season tickets are already on sale…yay!!!  I am beyond excited that  Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers is on the bill, my favorite duet of all, it gives me chills just thinking about it…. conducted by Sir Andrew Davis, adore him, and the production (sets and costumes) is designed by Zandra Rhodes (I spent some time with her several years ago at a Costume Society of America Symposium in San Diego, she is an extraordinary talent)…it is a must see on my calendar it should be amazing!!!!

Other than the photo of the Lyric ceiling all photos I found on Pinterest.  Just a reminder that, as always, all the thoughts are mine.

A new site for you to become engaged with Lyric especially if you love musical theater,  the Broadway Benefactors Circle you can join at