Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Redemption at Table...

When I was growing up, my mother set a beautiful table for the evening meal. My grandmother and all her daughters love china and pretty dishes of every kind and my mother has always collected them. My family ate from the pretty blue and white Spode plates that were also used in the Nixon White House. Those were the everyday dishes.
We always had flowers, often garden roses from my mother's garden. We had white napkins and we ate like kings because my mother is a gourmet.
I am not a gourmet. I want to paint in every free moment. I make great treats, but the cheap, healthy, quick, nutritious & lovely meals I dream of making every night allude me. Tragically, that means that 5:30 rolls around and mental panic ensues. I once heard this lady on TV say that if you don't know what to make for dinner and the natives are growing restless just put a pot on the stove and boil some water. They'll think you're making something when they see the steam and it will buy you some time. Been there.. done that... (it works too).
Time is what it's all about for me. My c is growing up too fast and I'm afraid that her memories will be of munching pizza in silence in front of the TV... she doesn't even like pizza.
In order to have these family meals around the table, I have to do it my own way, which my mom is cool with. She told me just yesterday that she is glad that all her children turned out to be their own person.
So, while I'm not yet setting the table every night or even 6 out of 7, (which is always a resolution every January)... there are still the runs through the Taco Time drive through after ballet and boxes of Chinese take-out... I'm achieving my goal a few nights a week and even enjoying it.
Here are some of the things that helped me.
1. Drinking straws are fabulous and for $1 for 250 of them.. they are the affordable luxury.
2. A pink polka dot water picture was worth the $20 investment and makes pouring out ice water much more fun.
3. I have taken to buying those huge bags of pre-cut veggies at Costco. For under $4 a week.. there is always something ready to bake, steam or stir fry and fill my criteria of quick, cheap, healthy, lovely and Nutritious.
4. I set the table in the morning after I do the dishes from the night before. It's a mental trick that makes me think dinner is half ready. And, even if I have to prepare Kraft Mac-N-Cheese with cans of corn and green beans from the food storage (add a little paprika to the Mac-N-Cheese if you have to do this.. it adds another color and makes the orange death almost palatable... BTW little c requests this meal weekly!) it makes even that humble meal a bit more of a family celebration.
5. Cheap dishes. These Martha Stewart dishes are melamine and a blue light special from K-Mart. They don't break if you're throwing them around in a hurry (a word that I hate, but use more than any other). The napkins are cute green paper flower ones from Target 250 for $2.
I don't drink alcohol, but I love the idea that a bottle of grape juice is an excuse to raise a glass and say something nice to your friend or family member so with a glass of ice and tap water raised I say.. Here's to you my cute little daughters! May our family have many happy memories around the table and if I get paint in your green beans.. I'm sure sorry.

9 comments:

Blake said...

I think those are great ideas! It does make the orange death more interesting I will have to try that.

Alicia said...

Beautiful table setting, Tif! You do a great job. My favorite is the bar stools Brandon and I have that are set up to our counter. It makes serving and eating dinner a pinch! I'd like to find one of those high chairs that snap on to the edge of the counter so G can join in the fun! My dream is to have a big counter with swivel chairs like Aunt Sherry and then a beautiful dining room like mom. Fun!

Holly said...

What a great idea to set the table in the morning. That is a mental trick I know would help me.

Shelese said...

LOL. I love this. I'm the same way about dinner. I cut myself some slack for a year after each baby though, so you are fine as well :) Time won't be so tight when she turns one right?

michelle said...

Great ideas! I always think you set a pretty table.

Dida said...

absolutely...even i wonder about setting up these table dinners and am almost never able to do so :(
days pass by and time rushes, but it leaves me with that guilt that i am not able to give my family what i grew up with...
ur ideas are great, i will surely try them...

Circe said...

I love all your ideas! You're already doing more than most. Every dinner time together is a victory, no matter what the fare. My trick is putting chicken or ground beef in the crock pot in the morning. Once I set the table in the AM and Scott came home and asked what all that "stuff" on the table was. He said the house was a mess. Obviously it was early in our marriage...before he became wise.

The Back Row Pew said...

I love your outlook... Setting that beautiful table is half the battle...no matter who's french fries you put on those plates.

Jackie said...

Beautiful table setting and especially fun to look at now as it has snowed every day this week in Idaho. It's April!
So spring dishes look very inviting and they are cute with the polk a dot pitcher and flowers. I'll have to do that for conference tomorrow. I always fix German pancake from the oven sprinkled with powdered sugar and a bowl of berries for breakfast each conference. We must have a pitcher on the table like that or a teapot of hot chocolate or something too. It's a special sunday.