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Monday, October 24, 2016

Sometimes it's not what you eat, but where you eat, that makes a meal special

In summer, we enjoy grassy picnics, waterside dinners on the beach, and pleasant summer cookouts around the fire ring. These venues make our humble meals feel special, without even changing the menu.

This autumn, we've continued along the same lines, but more appropriate for this cool and wet weather.

Picture a glowing fire, deep cushions, soft fabrics, and amiable companions -- all that is needed for a little dolce far niente. This is how we've been enjoying our simple Friday suppers, as of late. Whatever is on the menu, we plate and take to the living room, to dine by the glow of the fireplace.

It's pleasing. It's simple. And for just a little while, we are removed from daily life.

A truly frugal indulgence.


  1. Your table is just lovely and the fireplace sets a very nice atmosphere to dine by. I know that you and your family are enjoying it. However, I just have to ask. Do you ever eat by the glow of the TV like some of us do from time to time? Your meals and your table settings are always so nice. I know you enjoy cooking and decorating, but don't you just get tired sometimes and want to say to everyone, "Make yourself a sandwich. I'll be watching 'Downton Abbey' if you want to join me."

    1. Hi live and learn,
      Most of the time, I like the quiet of no TV during dinner. I want to hear what's happened in everyone's life that day. Call me a fuddy duddy.
      When our kids were younger, though, we would watch TV fairly often during dinners. And now, around the holidays, we borrow a bunch of dvds from the library, and we'll watch movies while eating. "Make your self a sandwich" is what I say at lunchtime on weekends. So that does get a bit old, for us.

      have a great day, live and learn!

    2. Dinner time for us has changed over the years as our family has changed. When the kids were younger, we tried to eat as often as we could together. However, the meals weren't easy with two very active boys who couldn't sit still. We also had our special movie nights, hikes, game playing where we were able to connect.

      When they were older and involved in more activities, schedules made dinner times together more difficult. Of course, work schedules always needed to be worked around.

      When my kids are visiting now now, depending on the circumstance, we talk for a while and sometimes eat watching a favorite TV show that we used to enjoy together. We laugh and talk about the characters. Other times, a good conversation around the table is the order of the day.

      If the truth be told, however, while a calm, quiet dinner of conversation is the goal, it didn't or doesn't always happen. One or the other of us can either be busy, tired, sick, or just want to be by ourselves. Did I mention that I live or lived in a house of true introverts that need to be by themselves to recharge? Every family is different, not better or worse, just different. I find it interesting to hear about others.

    3. Hi again, live and learn,
      Yes, you're right, everyone is different and has different needs. I understand the need to have quiet time, without a lot of conversation. When I'm feeling like that, I will take my dinner to my room and just read while eating, or skip dinner entirely. Our family is a mix of introverts and extroverts, so we've all had to learn to be accepting of each other's needs. One thing we try to do, even if someone in the family will be taking their dinner elsewhere in the house, is to say grace together. I really like that practice as a family thing. It helps bind us.

      I also really enjoy it when just one of my kids is available for dinner with me, just the two of us. It gives me a chance to really talk with them. My son and I had a really nice conversation the other evening, as it was only he and I at the table.

      I hope what I said wasn't offensive to you. I meant no offense.

  2. There are many a meals served in the living room in my home! I was almost afraid to admit that but that's where we can sit comfortable and it's only a few steps to the kitchen! We love sitting around and just chatting while eating in the living room. Obviously we're not eating soup or anything but almost everything else if fair game.

    They say that eating in front of a tv will make a person overeat but we're not watching tv. We're talking to one another. Only once in a while will we watch a movie and then eat watching the movie but it's not senseless channel surfing. It's deliberate and planned.

    When the kids were quite young we would plan something called "Friday Night Fun" and we would make some kind of fun plan that would mostly be at home where we would make something different for dinner, pull out a movie from our small stash, maybe wear PJ's, turn off the lights, and then have our fun. The kids loved it and looked forward to something every Friday night. Sometimes it would be "make your own pizza night", movies, puzzles, game night. So much fun. All done now since kids are grown up. Can you see my tears?

    Hubby and I are starting something like that now. We try to do something Sat. nights since he doesn't work Sat. We finish our house and outside chores as early in the day as we can. We grocery shop and might pick up something for dinner whether it is something to make or once in a while we go out. Then we go to the library and pick out a movie or pull one from our stash and that's our evening.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I so totally get it. The living room is just more comfortable, at the end of the day. I do allow soups and chili in the family room, where everything is dark and patterned. But we try to keep living room meals less messy.

      Hmmm, I think I could see overeating in front of the TV, if it were snacking stuff, like chips, cookies and candy. With meals, though, that's all pre-planned and served up, so we'll eat the same whether the TV is on or off.

      Your Friday Night Fun sounds like it was enjoyed quite a lot. I love eating dinner in my pjs. That's the ultimate in relaxation for me, especially if I've been working all day, and want to get out of my work clothes, anyway. For you, your Friday Fun Nights aren't gone forever. There will be grandkids, someday, and they will love coming over to have fun with Grandma and Grandpa. Whenever I get misty about my kids being all grown up, I keep that in mind. There will be trips to the zoo, days at the park, finger painting, playing in the sprinkler, again in the future, just with grandchildren. And I love how you and your hubby have started a new tradition, together.

      Have a great day, Alice!

  3. A fun idea, and it looks so pretty! I'm like you, I prefer conversation to tv during dinner. We don't typically have time to linger--maybe 25 minutes overall to eat and have our family devotional--but that 25 minutes are a highlight of the day for me. Partly for connecting with everyone, and partly because it's a chance to sit and have minimal distractions. Everyone finds their own sweet spot with mealtimes and if tv during dinner on a comfy couch works for you, go for it!

    I like Alice's Friday Fun Night idea. I don't know that we would be able to do it every Friday night, but it might be a great idea (maybe mid-winter?) to mix things up a bit and have some fun.

    1. Hi Kris,

      No, we didn't do this every Friday night. We watched our kids during the week and could gauge if they had a rough week or not. If it was rough, family night would kick in as a reward. If not, we would bypass that.

      Another thing that lingers in my mind is that at 7 pm every night my husband would holler "family devotions!" and that would mean to drop everything, take a break from homework and we would have a time of a devotional and prayer. That no longer happens with the kids at home because they're not home right now. Even our foreign exchange student doesn't forget that! If neighbor kids were over, they stayed for devotions! Devotions happen around the dinner table (living room, if we're eating there). What a nice day of memories!

    2. Yes, that sounds like how we like to do things--a difficult week is a time to try to find a meal or an activity to cheer everyone up. And dinnertime is the simplest time for us to have devotionals--everyone is together and relaxed after eating. I am encouraged that these times bring back good memories for you and your family--I hope to be building those for my family, as well. :)

  4. When our kids were young, dinners were often just me and the kids, since my husband worked evenings often. I am astonished by my lack of interest today that I cooked most of our meals a generation ago, relying heavily on cookbooks and recipes to get by! We always sat at the dinner table. I don't remember many conversations with my children, sadly. I think it was my upbringing that meals were more about the food and eating, than talking.

    Now, when our grandkids are over, my husband is the main meal host, and cook. Still today, I do more listening than talking at mealtimes, so when I need a bit of recharging, sometimes I don't join in at all. I sit in front of the computer and read with my plate of food. The grandkids are just fine with my husband chatting up a storm with them. I takeover at other times, playing games and doing activities with the grands, which my husband finds tedious and boring. I agree with Live and Learn that we're all different so it is sometimes difficult to always count on having quality interaction at mealtimes.

    Good evening all!!


    1. Hi YHF,
      It sounds like you and your husband have found your own ways to interact with your grandkids. And however you remember your mealtimes with your kids, it must have been a positive experience for them, as they are happy to send their kids to visit with you. And the grandkids keep coming back, --because they enjoy being with you! So, to me, sounds like it's working extremely well!

      have a great day, YHF!


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