The Family Table

During the holidays, as we all sat balancing our plates on our knees—you see, there were 6 of us and our kitchen table seats 4 comfortably—we talked about the family table. My husband and I sat faithfully at the kitchen table and discussed our daily grind for years. We always promised ourselves we wouldn’t sit with TV trays in the living room watching the news. But, in the last few years, we’ve managed to saunter to the living room, grabbing our laptop tables and eating our meals whilst discussing world news and our daily ups and downs. There we sit like two old people, tired from our day, disgusted with the news we are sharing with one another on our tablets, and just generally winding down in our soft reclining chairs. Those idealistic people who once promised to never eat in front of the television are now realistically tired and so over what’s been going on in the last 2+ years.

That said, we talked with our friends while eating our holiday meal and made promises for the year 2022. And although we can’t fit the table we ordered a couple of years ago (pictured below) into our apartment (we weren’t planning on still being here), we are going to start eating at our kitchen table for every meal again.

West Elm Mid-Century Expandable Dining Table/chairs 60-80″

And by Christmas next year, we are going to fix things differently in this apartment so that our guests and us can eat altogether, without the balancing act, at a table. 

I didn’t grow up in a house where we shared meals as a family at the kitchen table. At 8 or 9, I remember lunch meals, though rare, together. But as the years went by, Dad had more to do and less help, so he often had a packed lunch, and we ate whatever was offered and sometimes sat at the kitchen table, often alone, to eat it. I don’t ever remember eating the evening meal as a family because my siblings and I ate at 5:30 or 6 p.m. and our parents ate supper when the milking chores were done. I remember that if and when we did eat a meal together, talking was not allowed. Even during holiday times, the one time our big beautiful dining room table would be used all year (the rest of the time it was buried in clothing, mail, paperwork, and magazines), we didn’t sit together as a family due to space. My siblings and I were always the only kids and would be put out on the front porch in the summer time, in the living room, or back at the kitchen table during winter meals. 

When my husband and I got married, we couldn’t afford a kitchen table or any other furniture. First we had a card table for a kitchen table, and then eventually we were given a table that had been used in a restaurant. It wasn’t until year 13 when we could afford to buy our own furniture, and then we had a local Amish man make us our very own kitchen table. It’s been an integral part of our lives, from me learning how to sew–a place to set my machine, to kneading bread, to playing board game after board game, taking photos of vegetable hauls every summer, and many, many meals together talking about everything and anything in the world. 

It’s just been these last two years that we’ve fallen away from the practice of eating at the family table, looking up now and again at each other, and talking once again about things other than world news and the events of the last two years. It’s a precious time and one that’s very important for connecting with one another after a long day. We’re getting back to it, and it feels good. How about you? Do you eat at the family table, or as we once did with TV trays while balancing our tablets, or as our friends and I did at Christmas–a balancing act of plates on your knees..?

Gratitude

Wonderful Ways to Focus on Gratitude:

  • Gratitude Journal–take five minutes a day to write down what you are grateful for today.
  • Send those you love and/or those that have recently done something special for you–emotional support or hands-on assistance a handwritten thank you note.
  • Show your gratitude to all those around you and take time each day to say”thank you.”
  • Tuck little notes into your children’s lunchboxes, hubby’s lunch or shirt pocket and tell your people how much you appreciate and love them. 

Gratitude is more than just little exercises to focus on or wall decor from your local craft and hobby store. Gratitude is a learned process of being thankful. More importantly feeling thankful and blessed even in the worst of times. In a sense being able to see the silver lining in all things. This, of course, can be extremely hard because our default state of mind during bad times is to fall deeper into negativity and believe that there is nothing to be thankful for and everything to be (insert emotion) toward.

It is believed that by practicing kindness and gratitude every day in one small way or another a shift occurs in the way you see things in life. Once this shift occurs it will become a natural part of who you are to include thankfulness and gratefulness in all things that happen to you in your life. Everyday problems in life will be looked at differently, for example– instead of a glass half empty way of thinking, you will see things from the perspective of a glass half full.  So car problems will include being thankful you have a car, and house problems will include being thankful you have a roof over your head, and lastly, work issues will include being thankful you have a job.

With the holidays soon upon us, it’s especially important to take some time to reflect upon all the things in our lives, that we have to be thankful for. I get extremely frustrated at this time of year trying to juggle everything, but in putting this blog post together, I’ve decided to start a gratitude journal before Thanksgiving. I truly believe writing down something every day will keep me focused on being grateful for all the things I already have.  This time of year every IG feed and Facebook post is filled with new and shiny things to buy. Looking around my home I realize I already have way more than I can truly appreciate. I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of dollars on new stuff over the years–most of which I rarely have time to sit down and really enjoy. This holiday season I will live each day with intention and refocus on all the things in my life I have to be grateful for–health, marriage, friendships, warm home, food, and precious memories made with the people I love.

Have a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Menu–adding a couple of new dishes to the menu

I’ve been making Thanksgiving dinner since I was 18 years old. For my husband I’ve been making the same Thanksgiving meal almost 28 years. Several years back I decided not to try new dishes for the first time during holiday meal making, because if they don’t turn out then my stress level goes through the roof. Nothing worse than a dish that flopped and there are a minimum of 10 hungry people at the table. Every year though I say to myself– “self, I should try something new this year”, but I never do. This year I’m taking a leap of faith and I’m making two new dishes. Last week I did a trial run to make sure neither of the dishes are going to be flops. The two new dishes are creamy mashed cauliflower and pumpkin bundt cake with cream cheese frosting. They turned out GREAT!

The recipe for the cauliflower is on Eating Well Creamy Mashed Cauliflower.

Special tip-

Once the cauliflower is cooked, mashed and creamy add butter, buttermilk, and nutmeg. Try Nutmeg– I promise you this will become your go to seasoning. It works well on cauliflower that has been steamed or boiled (just sprinkle a little over the top once done) and works great with green beans and Brussels sprouts. Just make sure to have a bit of butter worked into the veggies and then lightly sprinkle with nutmeg. In place of butter, if you like, you can use any oil you would normally drizzle on veggies. I would find a good priced quality extra virgin olive oil if you are opposed to adding butter.

My Turkey Day menu this year is:

Roasted 16# Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Mashed Cauliflower
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Baked Squash drizzled with Maple Syrup
Gluten Free Stuffing
Homemade Parker House Rolls
Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Pecan Pie  

(I love King Arthur Flour recipes– their pecan pie recipe is a big hit every time I make it)

Until next time–be well and be safe!

The little things are the big things!

The holidays are just around the corner and whether you celebrate them or not–it can be a very stressful time of the year. Now more than ever, especially with social media, that stress is compounded. A personal rule of mine is to limit my social media time to 20 minutes a day max until after the new year. For me it is pretty simple to do as there are other things online that take up my time–like blogging, my YouTube channel, and eBay. Even without those things, I scroll IG to check out feeds of friends and organizations that I support and that takes roughly 20 minutes a day.

I’ve noticed in my conversations lately with friends how pressured they all seem to be to buy, travel, invest etc. Everyone around them, so they say, seems to be causing them a sense of urgency to buy, consume, and invest. I remind them that everywhere we go from now until mid-January the theme of the day is going to be buy, buy, buy in every store we enter. Believe it or not several years back hubby and I were the couple trying to keep up with everybody else. It didn’t matter that we didn’t have the income at the time, that a lot of our friends had, because we still tried to keep up. It doesn’t work my friends and it will not make you any happier. All you find is that you’ve bought a lot of things you don’t really want, you’ve possibly racked up a bit of debt, and, of course, more worries in the bargain.

Personally, I’ve found that the only way to get through the stress of the holidays is to take the time to stop and look around at all of the things in my little home and life that I do have. Appreciate them for what they are and enjoy what I have and not compare myself to others.

Another great stress reliever is to invite family and friends together on a Zoom or FaceTime call and make holiday plans for two years in a row. This way no one feels left out and everyone can see that if not this year, it will be next year. It works for us like a charm–and no hard feelings from anyone doing things this way.

In 2020 we didn’t entertain or have any holiday obligations because everyone we know is in the age bracket to stay close to home and in their own little bubble. Almost all of my friends/co-workers are working from home at this time. Here we are in 2021 and we’ve lost a couple of very close and dear friends and those left continue to want to stay close to home–at least until winter 2021-22 is over. We definitely respect that and I plan on doing what I did last year and that’s bake some goodies and drop plates off to four of our friends who live close by. We’ve already been promised a homemade pie, bread, and cranberry sauce (can’t wait). We’ll make do for another year and look forward to next Christmas and hopefully (fingers crossed) get-togethers. Until then we will make the best of this year’s and I’ll still cook and bake a lot, we’ll watch all of the James Bond films (just like every other year), play board games, read, rest and get ready for another year.

One thing that has always worked for me to do during the holidays is to find a bit of time at the end of each day to reflect on my life, work, home, hubby, marriage, and all the other things I am thankful for. Some nights I tuck myself into a corner in our home and go through album after album of Christmas photos from years gone by and my heart is so full by the time I get through it’s nearly bursting.

You know, every day we are always looking for the next big thing. Be it new furniture, clothing, likes, comments, the fountain of youth, 15 minutes of fame, viral videos, trips, stuff–you name it. But you know as well as I do when you are sick, or have spent time with someone sick or dying, or you yourself have a close call with death all you want is simple, easy, and all the little things. Just recently I was going through a rough patch of car issues, cat health issues, and hubby health issues and besides the praying I did for all to get better and stop hurting, I also sat back and prayed for myself. I prayed for long, boring, mundane days where the problems were easy to solve, no drama, or the unexpected.

What I’ve discovered in my life is that it really is the little things in life that add up to be the big things. We’re all waiting for the really big moments, but you know life is a lot of little moments woven together day to day, month to month, and year to year. So go ahead this year and enjoy each moment of the holiday season.  Whether it is just you, or yourself and your partner, or you have a whole family full of people to please. Enjoy the simple things, relax and find peace in the moments you share with each other, whether you’re just sitting around and sharing fun memories or spending time doing fun things together.

Take a deep breath wherever you are and give yourself permission to go easy on yourself and others this year and enjoy!

Until next time, be well and be safe.