Friday, November 21, 2008

Not bad for a pajama day!

Here's a little change of pace....

Yesterday was a pajama day for me (meaning I wasn't feeling the best). But I had an idea that was too fun not to follow through on.

Child #2 (age 8) had a lesson yesterday at school on table settings and etiquette. At the last minute, we decided to pull out the china (something we had never used as just our family) and surprise Dad with a formal dinner (even though part of the menu was just leftovers).

#1 distracted Dad upstairs while the girls took over the main floor. I cooked while the girls folded napkins and made name cards and set the table.

The look on Dad's face when he walked into the room was simply priceless.

#2 delighted us throughout the meal with etiquette tips she had learned. I learned a thing or two!

I suppose I should have gotten dressed for the occasion, though. Ah, well!

(I have to say that the soup I made for those who didn't want leftovers was a hit. YUM!)


Mary A said...

What a grand idea, Michelle! The table looks lovely.

Jennifer B. said...

How fun!

I love soup and need to expand my repertoire. Care to share?

Anonymous said...

Love it! I haven't done it for years, but I used to give myself a formal dinner once every couple of years -- used all my best things, wrote out a menu card and place card, dressed in my best, and served myself. (It was fun -- not nearly as pathetic as it sounds!)

One of the best times I ever had with my nieces was taking them to one of the most exclusive shops in Las Vegas where we picked out our china and silver and crystal, things none of us will ever own.

When the grandkids visited my mother, even for an ordinary supper, setting the table correctly was always part of it. They loved it. Even though it wasn't anywhere near as formal as your beautiful table setting, the kids all learned or relearned that there was a particular way to do those things that was expected "out in the world."

You should make a family tradition of doing that every so often, m&m. Bet your kids would love it and remember it.

I hope today was better than a pajama day for you.

m_and_m said...

I agree -- I hope to make this more of a tradition. That's one of the benefits of having kids that are older...I can start pulling out the china more often!

Mary, thanks. I was impressed with my girls. And don't you think the napkins add a lot?

Jennifer B.,
It was a version of a white chili with chicken, but I sort of made up a recipe, so here's the gist of what I did.

-Boiled water (a few cups?) and added a couple of chicken bouillon cubes.
-Rinsed two cans of white beans and added them.
-Added a couple of cups of frozen corn and some pureed spinach (I add pureed spinach to more things than you could imagine - adds nutrition without changing the flavor significantly, esp. with strongly flavored foods).
-Added a can of cannery chicken, broth included (can you tell I like food storage cooking?)
-Simmered with a couple of tablespoons of taco seasoning and some green chiles (I don't do super-spicy, so I didn't use the whole can -- do it to taste)
-At the very end, I pureed another can of beans and a cup or so of plain yogurt (sour cream would work, but I use this because it's heathier nutrition- and fat-wise) and stirred that in and let it all bubble together (this thickened the soup)

We topped it with shredded cheese and chips. YUM!

m_and_m said...

And Ardis, thanks for your well wishes. I did get dressed today, so that has to count for something. :)

Rosalie Erekson Stone said...

I think it's great that you were able to reinforce what child #2 learned in school while her enthusiasm was high--even when you weren't feeling well!

Yes, it takes extra work to set a formal table and clean up after it. But when children are old enough to help, the workload is lighter. Making some meals special in that way can be a lot of fun, and can foster the importance and value of gathering at mealtime.

I grew up with Sunday dinner always served in the dining room with the best china, silver and goblets. We tried to follow that tradition with our children, too. It seemed to go along with dressing in our Sunday best clothes, and helped us remember that Sunday was a special day.

In recent years I have totally fallen into the habit of very casual, no-fuss dining; but your post and Ardis Parshall's comment have inspired me to have "formal dining" return more often to our home!

Cheryl said...

How fun! I love this idea. And what a great way to teach the kids (and the adults? Ha!) proper etiquette. And that soup looks fabulous; thanks for the recipe!

I love eating off the china. I always have to convince my family to use the china at Thanksgiving and Christmas (my parents; not my kids) because nobody wants to "do the dishes." But then why do we have china if it's just going to sit in the cupboard? Thank you for reinforcing my need for the china! :)