by Erin H.
On dinner with Hubby: There is a lot to be said for eating at the table. Your conversation has a chance to venture into wild places, you learn more about the people you dine with (even after knowing them for 10 years!), and your food is not there just for sustinance, but to give your tongue enriching experiences. Even with our busy lives, Evan and I make time to sit down and eat together. Looking forward to it gets us through the day. During the experiment, I was interested to see if making a conscious effort to sit down at dinner would really change our routine. I was convinced that we already ate together every night, but sometimes you trick yourself into thinking one thing even when doing another. But, I am happy to say that this part of the experiment was not difficult at all and I proved to myself that we have always been eating together and will continue to do so.
On dining with others: I loved that this experiment gave me an excuse to have dinner with others. Growing up, I can’t say my family always had dinner guests, but with five loud, outgoing people, the table always seemed full and action-packed. I miss the crazy of my family dining and inviting friends over for dinner takes me back just a little to those days. Luckily, I was also able to spend plenty of time with family this month for various reasons, some good and some bad, so I was fortunate to revisit the full effect a couple times, too. I would like to continue to share a table with people at least once a month, but I’m a little more outgoing than my other half, so there may have to be some convincing in order to keep it up.
On dining with myself: I knew this goal was going to be my challenge, and it was. Of the potential 20 weekdays I had to eat a meal by myself, I think I actually did it about 11 times. 55%…it’s a question of “glass half full/glass half empty”. Is doing it eleven days great? Or is a 55% rate of attempting something a failure? It did become much easier to sit down with myself when the computer was on a separate floor and I even found myself eating breakfast in the kitchen yesterday. I do enjoy the time that I have to sit and plan out the day or just watch the goings on outside. I can see myself taking the time to eat breakfast at the table when I don’t have a million things I want to achieve that day. And maybe if I give myself more chances, I might actually begin to quiet the to-do lists and listen to myself – something that never really occured this month.
by Erin H.
I have successfully been eating breakfast at the table with myself for the past four days! I feel like this is a huge accomplishment. I’ve been watching the birds out in the backyard and decorating the new house in my head. I’m achieving a little bit of what I thought I would by finally taking the time to sit and eat by myself.
But I do wonder if this goal has been made easier now that there is second floor that houses the computer. In the tiny rental place we were stationed at, the computer was just about as far away from the kitchen as the table was. It could also help that I have a backyard to look out over. Before, it was look into the dingy kitchen, stare at the wall, or ogle my neighbor’s siding that was about 20 feet away. Mmmm…new scenery and new beginnings.
By Erin H.
Whew! February is almost over and I still don’t know where the time went. Weekend #1, we drove to northern Indiana for some weekend camping. Weekend #2, we drove to Ann Arbor/Detroit to visit family. Three days later I was back in the car headed to Kalamazoo for my dad’s birthday. I came back the next day to get ready for our final move. During the day and a half that I had to pack and get ready, I developed aches, chills, a fever and a killer headache. So, not much packing got done and bedtime was early. That already brings us to last Friday night. My parents and father-in-law came in to help us with the move. I sat like a bum on the couch, glassy-eyed and with a little moaning, while everybody else enjoyed pizza and made a game-plan for Saturday. The big day arrived (as did a winter storm) and we hauled and schlepped and heaved all day. My parents took off that night and we went out to dinner with my father-in-law where we all sat around eating in silence, wallowing in our exhaustion. Bright and early the next morning Evan drove to Lansing to visit his grandmother who has been in the hospital for over a week. He returned home that night only to have to go over to our well-meaning new neighbor’s house for dinner. Needless to say, life has been busy. (Though, through it all we’ve had every dinner at a table without much thought.)
Last night was Evan and Erin’s first night alone in the new house. No guests, no dinner invitations, no deadlines pressing. We met at the old house as Evan was coming home from work. As we packed up the cars with our remaining odds and ends we made grand plans to get X, Y and Z done that night. When we pulled up to the new house, Evan began unpacking the cars and I started dinner. Dinner wasn’t fancy; I broke into our emergency supply of spaghetti. When the pasta was ready and the faux-garlic bread done baking, I remembered the bottle of celebratory champagne that was still in our fridge. Clearing off our small kitchen table we sat down with our warm, comforting spaghetti and glasses of bubbly. We talked about the evolution of our housing together, how having cable after two months almost seems foreign, and a million other things that had nothingto do with moving. We were slow to get up from the table. Our plans of X, Y and Z became whittled down to: let’s just clear a path up the stairs before we go to bed. The rest of our evening was slow, spontaneous and wonderful. We both realized that though we had been in each other’s presence the past few days…weeks…month, we haven’t actually spent that much quality time together. Last night’s dinner gave us a little bit of that TLC that we individually needed and that we needed together. It’s amazing what a good meal (even a quick, easy one) can make you become aware of.
By Erin H.
Warning: This starts out a little sad, and I’m sorry for it, but I promise that the ending is happy.
Last year on February 10th, my brother Adam was in a very bad car wreck. He was on his way home to meet my dad for a dinner event later that night and the Michigan roads were horrible. My Mom was out of town, and so it was my dad who got “the call” and had to deal with the first 24 hours alone. Looooong, awful story short, Adam was in the ICU for over a week and there were some very critical nights. But, on the 18th he came to – he wasn’t truly aware of what was happening, but he was awake, talking and his body was functioning. That day was also my dad’s birthday. And while we may not have celebrated had the outcome been different, we made sure to have a small celebration that night because we knew Adam was going to be okay. For the next three weeks, Adam went through serious rehabilitation and brain tests.
So it’s been a year since that time. In that year, Adam got married to a Ukranian woman named Olga and they have been living in the same city as my parents. My youngest brother Ben just moved back home as a temporary spot before his new job starts. And I’ve moved from NC to Indianapolis – much closer. I think the accident has all been on our minds the past few days. So with my dad’s birthday coming around again, and me being so close, I made sure to drive home and surprise him so that this year he could have all of his family (+new daughter in law) home to celebrate.
We all gathered, very gratefully, around the table Wednesday night. We enjoyed homemade lasagna, garlic bread that Ben made and an amazing banana/carmel cake made by Olga. I “impressed” Olga with the new Russian words I’ve been learning. We talked about Ben’s upcoming trip to Calfornia and Adam and Olga’s work plans for the summer. We talked about everything but the accident and it was lovely.
Submitted by Erin H.
Goal 1: Eat dinner with Evan every night? Check. Goal 2: Eat a meal with someone else at least once a week? Check. Goal 3: Eat weekday breakfast and lunch at the table me, myself and I with no distractions…ummm
I was doing great that first week. I made a date with myself twice every weekday and stuck to it. I can’t say I thought about anything particularly life-changing, as I had hoped. It was mostly about the things that I had to do or wondering why I couldn’t think of something profound – this was the time to really be able to focus on me and nothing else, right? But I found these meals to be a little boring (what does that say about my company?). I wasn’t savoring my food but simply mowing through to get back to work.
This week, with the official purchase of the new house and all the utility canceling, address changing, realtor calling that goes with it, I practically forgot about my breakfast and lunch dates. I stood myself up all but one time. The emotions are conflicting: Am I embarassed/angry that my meal date didn’t show up? Or do I have valid excuses for not being in the dating mood?
Next week, I would love to start getting back in the game. I think my date would be forgiving. Unlike last time, I plan on going into this date thing with no expectations and see where it goes from there. Isn’t that how the best relationships are formed anyway?
Submitted by Erin H.
We had out first “entertaining at home” dinner for the month. All of my questions about cooking dinner for another person were answered and laid to rest last night. We had a great time.
On the menu:
- warmed spinach salad with homemade dressing and fried egg (makes for an interesting topper to a salad)
- white chicken chili
- whole wheat cornbread with honey
- flourless chocolate cake
- beer and tomato ranch veggie chips brought by Ross
The chili and salad were familiar to me, but the cornbread and cake were experiments and if my tongue and the other empty glasses/plates/bowls around me are any indication, I’d have to say that it was a pretty good meal.
I was also nice to hang out with our friend, Ross, and converse without distractions. The bonus to having dinner at home is that it is not an activity which requires your attention to be elsewhere (like going to a museum or a play, as we’ve done in the past) and you don’t have a waiter interrupting you. It can go at the pace that everyone dictates. Conversation abounded. Initially we talked about food (what else?) and how it’s always a little gamble to cook for people because you don’t really know their tastes. Ross assured me that as long as it didn’t have his three “dislikes” he would eat it. That quickly turned into listing things that he assumed I would take for granted that he didn’t eat. “I don’t eat eyeballs. I don’t eat glass”, etc. We did find out, though, that he has tried cow tongue before. Apparently it is really chewy. Little snippets of conversation from the rest of the evening included: “Remember when you bought that throwing star?” , books we’ve read – from one, we learned people make bad decisions when sexually aroused…really?, Evan’s mad temper when it comes to washing dishes, our scary-as-hell physics teacher from high school (Ross: “I got a 14% on my first test”, Erin” “Me, too!”, Evan remained conspicuously quiet)… It was a great time with lots of laughter and a wonderful treat on a weekday night.
Ross and Evan with a fabulous cake