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.