We all have days where we’re rushing from place to place, barely able to spend any time enjoying our meals. But from when my daughter was born, we declared dinner time sacred time. It’s a chance for us to reconnect as a family. It’s a time for us to slow down, enjoy good food, and pay attention to what we mean to one another.
What’s on the table has changed a lot. No longer are they the boring “chicken, boxed rice or potato, and a veggie of choice”. Now we get creative with the plant-based meals we bring to the table.
Use the good dishes
When I married, I added china to my gift registry because it was the “thing to do.” Did you do it too? I really didn’t think much about it. But an eight-place setting, along with extra dishes, bowls, and serving platters, sat in boxes in a spare bedroom for years …
I never had a big enough dinner party to warrant pulling them out. We often held outdoor barbecues and picnics, but I’d never bring the good china out.
No more. I use it all. If it makes me happy, I use it. I’ve even started buying gorgeous pieces I fall in love with and mixing and matching. Who says you have to match everything on your table? Why not create something gorgeous that pleases your sense of well-being?
I believe good dishes are meant to be used every day of the year. So pull them out and start using them!
Make it a multi-course meal
Several years ago, I brought my husband to a plant-based farm-to-table nine-course meal for his birthday. Over three hours, we experienced delectables and delights at every turn, paired with scrumptious drinks that made us relax and enjoy great conversation with others at the event.
Why not create a similar experience at home? Even if it’s just the two of you?
The thought of creating multi-courses can be a bit intimidating. But you can do it quickly – it just takes a bit of planning. Think simple. An appetizer. A soup. A salad. Lasagna you have ready to bake when it’s time. A simple dessert. A delicious cup of tea or coffee.
Create a dessert
I don’t believe we need sweet desserts every day. I also think dessert doesn’t have to be sweet to be decadent!
It can be as simple as a square of chocolate served with a delicious tea.
What makes dessert special is that we linger after dinner, allow food to settle, and share a bite or two together. You usually don’t share your entree, but you almost always share a dessert!
If you want something easy, try my Apple Cake.
Get a bouquet for the center of the table
I remember walking up to our local farmer’s market for the first time. There, in a corner, was a farmer with buckets of flowers. Several workers carefully selected stems from each bucket until they had an armful of flowers. They’d wrap the bouquet in paper, and sell it to the next person in line. For $20, you would walk away with a bouquet you could barely hold in your arms.
I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for Saturday mornings when I could replace my bouquet with a new one, and enjoy color and fragrance throughout the week.
Alas, the farmer’s market shuts down in October and doesn’t appear again until May. But I won’t let my table go bare; I keep my vase filled anyway. Sometimes I pick something up at Costco. Or I might find something at my local florist.
Even when I travel, I’ll find a way to bring flowers into my Airbnb; it’s an incredible way to put a smile on your face. Every time you walk through the room.
Buy linen napkins instead of paper towels
Paper napkins are easy. I’ve been known to make do with a paper towel in a pinch.
But there’s just something about a carefully selected napkin that makes your meal seem a bit more indulgent.
Create a playlist
I live in a tourist town. It’s filled with shops, wineries, and breweries that attract people from all over the world. I sit near a restaurant, just a handful of steps from their back patio, where they host musicians every Friday and Saturday night throughout the summer. Usually, one or two people play the guitar or piano and sing along. We set up a feast on our patio and spend several hours enjoying good food and music. (And good company if we happen to have guests over.)
Of course, you might not have the luxury of your own professional band playing a few feet from your patio. But you can create your own playlist and play it inside your home. I recommend trying new genres, keeping it light, maybe a little jazzy, or even letting romance rule the show.
The easiest way to share a drink or two is to open a bottle of wine. Living in Oregon, there’s no shortage of wineries in my local region. We have done a lot of wine tastings throughout the Willamette Valley, and have dozens of bottles in our “mini wine cellar” just off the kitchen.
But I don’t always like to go the alcohol route, and luckily with today’s non-alcoholic drinks, I don’t have to. A quick search will bring up a variety of non-alcoholic options.
Or you spend a few minutes in the kitchen and whip up something on your own. But don’t think you have to go overboard. Try adding pretty fruits and flowers to a crystal pitcher of water. Freeze herbs or flowers into ice cubes and pop them into water or lemonade. The key is sitting back and enjoying it while leaving plenty of time for good conversation with the ones you love.
Have coffee or tea with dessert
Eating dessert can sometimes be a quick process. Adding coffee or tea to your dessert can help you linger long after the last bite, talking the night away.
This is where I often create a pot of tea using loose-leaf tea, to keep it lingering longer!
Let’s talk tea for a few moments. I used to believe quicker was better. I’d use a kettle on the stove, heat water, and drop a tea bag into my cup to be on my way. I still do it this way throughout the workweek. I sip tea all day long. Plus, it gives me a reason to get up and move from my office to the kitchen; I need my steps, after all!
But you only have to head to a kitchen store to fall in love with the gorgeous teapots available. Keep it plain – I love white to stay subtle and work with any decor. Or jazz it up – why not select your favorite color? It can put your teapot on display as you take it out onto your patio or bring it into the living room to continue your conversation.
Remember when people used to dress up for dinner?
Yeah, me neither. That was never a big deal in my home growing up. It was more “come as you are”, even though my mom had a rule about everyone sitting around the table.
I’m a West Coast girl, which means I have a pair of “dress” yoga pants. Yep, I have some that are strictly for home, and some I wear while running errands. You’ll find me in both as I sit around the dinner table, depending on the day.
But if you want to slow down and bring “gorgeous” back into your life, maybe it’s time to check the “yoga pants” at the door. I’m not suggesting you put on a ball gown, though you can if you really want to. 🙂 Instead, have fun looking a bit better for the person sitting on the other side of the table. It makes you feel good – and can add deliciousness to the meal. You want to linger longer when you feel good about every aspect of the meal.
I’ve hinted at it a time or two in this post, but I believe there’s something magical about eating outside. Do you have a barely used backyard? A deck without furniture? A patio that hasn’t been brought to life?
It doesn’t take much to make it magical. Bring pots of flowers, add a small chair and table, and you’ve got the recipe for Gorgeous Living!
If you don’t have an outside area, head to the park instead. Pack up a meal, bring along a blanket, and it sets the stage for a fun night away from the “normal” of being at home. The best thing is you can go anywhere! My local parks have concerts all summer long. Several nights a week, we pack everything up and enjoy being outside. But you don’t have to have a concert for a reason. Find a park near you. Head to the beach. Once you start looking for places to picnic, you’ll be surprised at how accessible your area is.
I know, you don’t want to be a part of the foodie-gram storm that posts every meal on social media. But when you look at a meal or a dinner table through the “eye” of your camera, you see it a bit differently.
Suddenly, you look for prettier plates, or find ways to dress up the presentation. Consider adding a bouquet of flowers or a tablecloth for a pop of color.
I love looking back at my camera roll. It reminds me of fun dinners we’ve planned throughout the years. It also gives me ideas for things we love and want to try again.
Give everyone in the family a chance to participate
No matter how big or small your family is, I believe dinner isn’t a one-person show. It’s a time to get everyone involved with planning, cooking, and the final presentation.
Because you have more fun when everyone takes a turn. It also gives each of you a better appreciation of food, flavors, and how dinner comes together. (I believe that’s what’s missing from our education system – just one of MANY things.)
Bonus: Take a walk after dinner
Is there anything better than a walk? I’m a BIG believer in walking, and I easily get my 10,000 steps in each day. I head out every morning after a few hours of writing. And we often head out after work for thirty minutes of exercise down on our riverwalk.
But when the weather is nice, we often head out for a casual stroll after dinner. We continue our conversation, and often run into friends to chat with, or even occasionally end up at our local ice cream shop. (Their vegan flavors are to die for!)
For me, luxury is about slowing down, appreciating the goodness in everything you do, and sharing that Gorgeous Living with someone you love.
That truly is Gorgeous Wellth.