"I spend every day with my children. We rarely have time apart. Yet there are days when I find myself watching them but not really seeing them. I work around my little ones on the tasks I have on my "to do" list and forget that the most important people on my list are being overlooked.
"Over the past few months, my daughter has been asking to use the tea set her Great-Grandma painted for her as a gift when she was born. My response was always, 'No, not today' or 'Maybe later'.
"After reading the theme for the Tablesetting Competition, something inside me clicked. I realized that the most important guests that will ever sit at my table can barely see over it right now. They might not appreciate the beauty of the platters or the symmetry of the centerpiece, but they will feel the love that spending special time together around the table brings.
"So, this time when my daughter asked about the tea set, I dropped everything else and said, "Yes."
One Night With the Queen: a midsummer night's tea by Lisa
When the Queen comes to town, naturally we want to have her over for tea!
Here in our backyard in Hawaii, we have a flowering cactus plant which blooms with a very large white blossom called a Night Queen. So-called because it opens only in the middle of the night, and by morning, she's gone.
Late last night, we found the one such blossom had just opened, and it was time to celebrate the arrival of the Queen, with a tea party held in her honor.
Kristina Kellett's breakfast in bed reminds us that it's the little moments that count. There's nothing sweeter than a quiet weekend breakfast in bed; whether it's shared over good conversation with a loved one, or relaxing and unwinding with a beloved book.
Nazra Knutsen's story is another one that reminds us of the impact Spontaneous Gatherings can have on our lives. In her words:
"My husband's immediate family lives on a small island named, Karmoy, in Norway. It is truly a beautiful place - with rolling hills of snow surrounded by the rolling waves of the ocean. There are no coffee shops to sit and chat with friends at. It is also pretty expensive to eat out. So when we were there visiting, we had MANY spontaneous gatherings at home with friends & family. It is normal to just "pop" on by for a cup of coffee without notice...and if you do give notice, it's not more than a few hours in advance! It's very common for people to have cakes or pastries in their freezer or cookies on hand...with the expectation of people dropping by! One (of the many) times that we stopped by for a visit with my husband's grand-mother, she pulled out her finest china, lace tablecloths, the prettiest carafe, and her special silver dessert forks and enjoyed talking over coffee or tea & special dessert cakes. We always felt like the "guests of honor" - as each person we visited always made us feel so special & appreciated that we took the time to visit with them! What a different mentality we have here in the US! I'm always making plans a week or two in advance (at least!) and if we have people over to our house, I always give myself plenty of time to make sure my house looks totally put together and that I'm prepared to have guests (are my toilets clean & the floor vacuumed!?) I'd love to always be prepared for someone to drop by for a coffee & some cookies! I'm definitely going to have to work on this."
Nazra is right! We've somehow turned a spontaneous visit into an inconvenience in this country, and it's time for all of us to work on bringing back the joy and simplicity of connecting.
Speaking of that, I really liked the American feel of the Tablescape and story submitted by Dawn Grisham. She mentioned how the oppressive summer heat caused her and her family (including their golden retriever) to wait until dusk to have an evening picnic. She made a delicious pineapple pie from her late father-in-law's legendary recipe and had a memorable family evening with dinner and games at the park.
When I came across this entry from Vanessa Vanhille, I was moved by how impacted she has been in such a short time. In her words:
"I first discovered Rosanna last month and have embraced her philosophy and creativity. I have purchased and read her book, Coming Home, which has helped me establish and plan family traditions with love and wholesome food at its core. My family now has three evenings a week that are our family "events." We come together around a beautiful table, eat home-cooked wholesome food and dine (no rushing allowed). It has been transformative for me. So, understanding that I am an amateur and new to the Rosanna philosophy, here is my submission:
"I recently returned from a trip to Nice, in southern France. My next door neighbor wanted to hear all about it. I invited her to come over to to my front porch to share some hot chocolate. The tray and its decor are souvenirs I brought home with me that typify that region of France. I have sprayed some perfume (also a souvenir from the Riviera) on the skewers that are in the vase. Even the candy has France ties. I wanted everything about our spontaneous gathering to speak of my recent trip.
Another European-inspired idea came in from Ginger Mokher. She shares, "An Italian-themed menu and tablescape is one of the easiest to pull together when hosting a sponteanous meal. Rosanna's Pasta Italiana Collection features recipes for different Italian meals, and was my inspiration to acquire a repertoire of Italian recipes that are easy to prepare in advance with larger quantities. I usually prepare enough so that at the end of the evening, my guests have not only the fresh memory of rich, relational connections, but also a full take-home container of this soulful meal."
I was thrilled to see more men entering the contest this year as well. Bryan Harber prepared a beautiful tablescape for entertaining with elegant dishware and the Kings Road Collection.
Again, thank you to everyone who entered this year's Tablescape Contest. As you can see, choosing the winners announced earlier this week was a very difficult task.
As a result of this contest I hope you've found inspiration in the stories and photos shared, and that you can find your own ways to continue to make family traditions and connect with others through spontaneous gatherings.
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