Monday, March 05, 2012

Kitchen Matters: Get Back to the Table!

 I do love to set a table.  It may not be a page from an interior design magazine, but it is a tabletop that welcomes my family and guests.  It makes them feel comfortable and special.  That is what setting or dining at the table is all about; making your loved ones feel special.  It is also an act that we have let slip away as we feed our families in the car running to one activity or another.

simple summer supper - hydrangea's from Audley's grandmother.

Valentine's Dinner for the family

{So, Let's get back to the table!}


  Think to yourself, how often do I set the table for dinner with the family.  Once or twice a week?  A month? A year?

It's not that difficult of a task, and no matter what your pay scale, or what your schedule is packed with, anyone can sit down to eat at their own kitchen table.  I am a firm believe that magical things happen around a dinner table.  Relationships are grown and laughter is shared in an atmosphere that you can be comfortable in.  You can freely talk about your day, dream for tomorrow and live in the moment.  When you take the world away and create your own intimate environment, moods can be changed and for the better!  It takes five minutes to set a simple table and just a very few more to clean it up.

Setting the table does not require fine china and crystal glasses.  But, you don't want to use paper or plastic either!


China is expensive, and unless you have been fortunate enough to inherit Grandmother's antique set, most of us probably do not have fine china.  But, paper plates are not cost effective, either!  First, even if you buy the .99 package of plates each week when you buy groceries, you are still spending $52 a year at the very least on throw away plates.  For that price you could purchase eight place settings of simple, white Corelle dinnerware that you can use over and over.  Second, paper/plastic plates are not good for the environment.  Do you seriously want to add to an issue that is already out of control?


Are you attracted to the appearance of this dish?

The extra ten - fifteen minutes a day it takes to wash dishes or load the dishwasher isn't going to take up all of your spare time. 

 When Audley and I married, we didn't have a lot.  There was no china or expensive silverware, just eight place settings of teddy bear dishes and a value pack of Oneida silverware to put on my table. 

{Don't you know my new husband loved that?!}


As I was torn between the cuteness of my single years and falling into the sophistication of married life, we quickly outgrew the teddy bears.  But, they had to last as a young married couple, Audley and I didn't have the money to just go buy more.  

I adored my dishes, and I entertained on them like they were the most expensive items you could buy.  Yes, guys chuckled when they ate at our table, but they did not complain when the dinner I prepared was served!  In fact seconds generally topped those plates as well.


It took several years, but eventually, I was able to get rid of the Teddy Bear plates and move on to everyday dishes a little more practical for our lifestyle.  For these I chose simple, white dishes which have served us well for many years.  I will talk more about dishes in another post, but my point is you don't have to have the latest in style or most expensive plates to set a nice table!

Pottery Barn's Great White Coupe
People often say it is difficult to find time to eat at the table with busy schedules.  Let me share these real scenarios and see if any of them sound like your life.  

For years I had a friend whose husband would call mine and ask if I was cooking nearly every Saturday.  When Audley would say yes, he would invite himself and family over for the evening to "play cards" just so he could sit down to a home cooked meal.  The sad thing was he owned a small town grocery store, yet ate out every night.

Believe it or not, people crave the intimacy of the dinner table!

I know another family who eats out at the very least four nights a week, plus lunch and generally breakfast out of a drive-thru.  The three nights not in a restaurant are usually spent eating off of a paper plate in front of the TV at his mother's house.

Where is the family connection?  The bond?  Where are the relationships that should be growing in this simple downtime each day?

With four kids who have participated in extra-curricular activities over the years (marching band, soccer, baseball, volleyball, basketball, track, youth group..) we have had our own moments of eating out.  Not only do one of us usually wind up feeling sick to our stomachs after dining out, we are usually short on money for our budget for the week.  For example, two full weeks of groceries (what I purchase at one time) for our now family of five is around $350.  This includes breakfast foods, lunch for the kids to take to school, and supper, as well as two full meals for Saturday and Sunday.  


That sounds like a lot of money, but when you look at it the way I do, I am saving a whole lot more.  For Audley, the kids and I to eat out at Chick-fil-a, it costs right at $40 dollars.  Sound expensive?  If we ate at McDonalds, it would still cost $30.  When we eat at Olive Garden, it is usually $70.  My kids are too old for the children's menu.  So just eating out three times in two weeks is $140, just over a quarter of our grocery budget!

But, more than saving money I love the intimacy created with a meal at the table.  Audley comes home for lunch most days, and we sit down at the table to enjoy time together.  We may only have a sandwich, but my husband really appreciates the time I took to sit at the table and eat with him. Even when it is just me for lunch, I sit down at the table and enjoy it. It makes me feel important to sit at the table and eat, even if I am alone!

I know, often it is more practical for a couple or a single person to grab take-out.  If you chose to do so at least take an extra two or three minutes to transfer your food to a plate, light a candle, and sit down to enjoy your meal at the table. 

It's not always about the food that you are serving, but more how you are treating yourself and family.  We all deserve to feel special.  You may not get to eat until 9:00 PM when everything is done for the day, but set the table tonight and see how you feel!



3 comments:

  1. We like to eat outside as a family as much as we can. Everyone just makes their own plates and we just sit at our plain-not set- outdoor table. Nature is the decoration and we have had some of the sweetest family meals this way. :)It just takes a willingness and a little bit of effort but it is worth it!
    xo
    Caroline

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  2. This is SO strange. My good friend and neighbor has the same Teddy Bear plates. She has been looking for more as many of hers have broken. Did you already find a home for them? I just know she would be interested in buying yours.

    Thank you SO very much for your prayers my friend.

    I'd love for you to pop by for a visit. I am hosting a $50 Kirklands Giftcard Giveaway.

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  3. We eating dinner together every single night. Sometimes one or two people are not there (perhaps at work), but we sit down to a family meal, often with a guest or two at the table as well. My husbands work shift changes so sometimes our main meal is at lunchtime, but we still make the effort to sit at the table, candles lit, or some sort of centerpiece and talk, and share and laugh.

    Deanna

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