Category Archives: Introduction

Blogger bios.

I am Matt

Posted by Matt Brown

Hi I am Matt and it is February 6th.  I am the vice president of quality assurance for Thomson Reuters Healthcare.  Because of my job I travel a lot, so my goal is to be at the dinner table as much as I can in February. I also plan to be in on many if not all of the activities in the coming months.  January’s raw food was really the only month that did not intrigue or delight me in some way.  Anyway, more about me:

  • I have a great smart wife named Karen who is a really good cook and my bff.
  • I have a smart although somewhat grumpy eldest son, Matt, who works with me.
  • I have a brave, talented daughter, Erin who lives here with us.
  • I have a young son, Dominic who is funny and earnest and who doesn’t really like to do his school work (even though he is home-schooled and does not know how great he has it)
  • My youngest daughter, Chloe is sweet and fills our dinner conversation with tangential conversations.
  • I spent 10 years in school getting a BA in English, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Statistics. I was bad at college when I started, but got the hang of it in the last 3 years.  I also went to graduate school in English for 2 of the 10 years, but that did not end super-well.  I read a lot of books and got my butt kicked by a lot of professors.
  • I am a VP basically because the company that I helped start-up was bought by Thomson Healthcare in 2006.
  • Dinner with my family every night is fun, and I like it a lot.

I have many many trips planned this month and as such will be away from home, but I will be having dinner with people every night, and will be sharing some of the details with you all.


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Playing Catch Up

Howdy!  My name is Pat and I’ve been doing 28 tables behind the scenes so far.  This is due to both a little procrastination on my part in signing up for the blog and then some strange technical difficulties in receiving my invite to the blog.  But, nevertheless, I have been paticipating along with the rest of the folks here and can start filing updates henceforth.

My decision to participate was sudden and last minute.  I had heard all about the Experiemonth concept from Beck and followed her and the other nutty (pun intended) Month in the Raw participants via their blog last month.  Beck told me all about 28 tables over drinks at the Pinhook last Friday.  This experiment seemed much more doable for me, but nonethless I felt non-commital about it at first.  Then strangely I woke up in the middle of the night in the wee hours of last Saturday (January 31st) and felt compelled to do it.  My mind was racing with ideas about how I could do this and make it meaningful for me.  One of the first things that came to mind was that I wanted to try to eat dinner with my parents once a week.  They moved to Morrisville, NC  from Texas just before Christmas, so for the first time in 15 years, my parents live nearby.  It’s a strange feeling and I find myself struggling to find ways to connect with them now that they are here, since our relationship has been long distance for nearly half my life.   A few hours later, as I was drifting back to sleep after being awakened by my two cats demanding breakfast, my phone rang.  I glanced at the caller ID and saw it was my mom.  I thought it strange since she had gotten out of the habit of calling inappropriately early (it was 7:45 AM) while I was in college.  She was calling from the ER at Duke Medical Center where my dad had been taken an hour earlier due to abdominal pain, nausea, and fainting.  My dad is officially old (he’s 66) but he has been in good health and his youthful demeanor has people pegging him as 20 years younger than he actually is.  After talking with my dad for a few minutes on the phone and having him insist that he was fine and just waiting on tests, and then talking to my mom and having her promise to call again as soon as she had any updates, I hung up the phone and decided then and there to follow through with the experiment.  You never know how much time you have with the people you love, and you should cherish every minute of it.  My participation in 28tables will be very much about connecting with the people in my life, whom I don’t see nearly enough of and cherish – my friends and family.

(Update on Dad for those wondering…he got home from the hospital on Monday. They kept him all weekend for observation since he had almost no medical history due to his dislike of doctors.  All the tests came back negative for the bad stuff – cardiac, ulcer, gall bladder, etc and he is sheduled to go in next week for more testing.   Hopefully this will be his wake up call to be better about his preventative health care.)

Some other things I hope to get out of 28 tables are the following:

– I want eating to become a communal experience again.  Usually my dinners are on the futon with the telly blaring alone or with my girlfriend.  I want to spend meals with her at the table talking instead, or with friends I haven’t seen, and of course my parents now that they are near.  It’s so easy to get caught up in your own routine and not make the time for the important people in your life.  I hope this experiment will get me in the habit of setting more dates with these people and seeing them more often.

– I want my dinner table to be my dinner table again.  Usually it is just a giant repository for mail and all the other crap I set down during the course of the week. It can get so bad that you can’t see the surface of it. I’d like to use this exercise of eating meals at the table to get me in the habit of keeping that space tidier so it is more functional. That said, I am not requiring all of my meals to be at this table.  I am open to meals out or at other people’s houses.  But when I am eating at home, my intention will be to do it at the table when practical.

– I want to spend more of my alone time conscious and engaged.  I live alone and while I plan to spend at least one of my meals with other people each day this month, I also would like to experiment with dining alone in “quiet time.”   On these nights I will have a “no takeout” and “no TV” rule.  The plan is to cook myself a meal I will enjoy and then consume it at the table in silence, allowing myself time to think.  I also am going to make an attempt to reach out to friends in distant places either via phone call or email on those evenings after my meal is complete.

Lastly, I wanted to log some table reports for the first week of 28 tables.

Day 1 – I had a Super Bowl party at my house and invited some friends over to enjoy my new HDTV and junk food.  There were too many of us to fit at the table and the TV was on during said event, but it definitely met my requirements of spending time with people and making a meal (or continuous grazing in this case) a communal experience.  Plus I made a new friend in someone who tagged along that day and we are hanging out on Saturday, so that’s a bonus!

Day 2 – My girlfriend and I shared our first quiet meal at the table and had leftover wings and veggies.  We had a good long conversation, the topic of which escapes me at the moment, but I remember distinctly struggling with the idea of conversing over the meal.  I guess that is what years of stuffing your face in front of the telly will do.  I plan to be more conscious and engaged going forward.  We’ve been together less than a year, and these meals are the perfect opportunity for us to get to know each other even better.

Day 3 – I had dinner with the girlfriend again, but this time we were a little more creative with the table concept.  She had come down with a nasty tummy virus and laid on the futon nibbling on saltine crackers and ginger ale while I sat next to her and ate off the coffee table.  My dinner was rather scattered that night… it amounted to three crumpets from Trader Joe’s, one friend egg, and some pita chips and hummus.   Not really an ideal meal, but I think my concern for my eating partner kinda distracted me from getting my act together and making a real dinner.

Day 4 – I invited my friend  over to play video games and have dinner.  We’ve been friends for about 11 years and went on vacation together last summer, but overall I don’t see nearly enough of her.  After playing Wii for a while, we paused to have Chinese takeout (no takeout rule applies to meals alone).  My girlfriend joined us at the table and consumed chicken broth and white rice, as her tummy was still giving her trouble.  We ended up having wonderful conversation that extended way beyond the mealtime.  I listened a lot as they other two traded stories about their childhoods and enjoyed that my old friend was getting to know my girlfriend better.

Tonight I need to get some shopping done for a baby shower I am attending this weekend, but I plan to call my mom after I post this and see if she and my dad would like to meet me out for dinner after I am done.  I’ll report back how that goes later…

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I’m Melissa, and I’m a slacker.

Posted by Melissa

Depending on your point of view, my introductory entry is either late due to slackness, or virtuously late due to being too focused on a project at work. Either way, so far I have had two evenings of sit-down dinners, and I’m looking forward to this month. I kept up with the raw bloggers last month, and that was pretty hardcore. Eating dinner at the table every night? That’s easy.

My name is Melissa, and I’m a scientist living in Durham with my partner, Shelly, and five cats. Shelly is also participating in the blogging here, and writes under the name gracefully. She and I have similar reasons for participating in this Experimonth. On a typical night, Shelly, since she stays at home, will cook us dinner while I am either away at the dojo or futzing around on the computer. We eat dinner in front of the TV, generally while watching our latest NetFlix arrival. We have a perfectly fine dining room table, but since we moved into our new house, we’ve only used it for playing board games.

Primarily, I look forward to connecting with people this month. So far, our two meals have been with each other, but I want to take this opportunity to invite other people over more often. Already, Shelly and I have had some serious conversations the past two nights, and I’m enjoying this. We have no restrictions on food, we are trying to be more frugal with our meal plans, but meals at restaurants or getting take-out qualifies for us. The only thing that is required is that there’s no TV and we actively engage with each other.

The cats have decided that they are family, and hence get to join us at the dinner table. We try to shoo them off, but since our dinning room table doesn’t usually have food on it, they have always been allowed to go up there. They are confused why, after years of being ok, it’s all of a sudden wrong for them to be up there. It’s a big table though, so as long as they stay away from the food, we’ve given up trying to discipline them.

My updates may be few, given that Shelly will likely cover most of the evening meals.

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And I’m Shelly.

Posted by Shelly

For me, dinners this month are going to be about family and small pleasures.  By family I mean my girlfriend, Melissa. I expect to connect with Melissa a lot this month, and I look forward to time spent just talking and eating. By small pleasures, I mean things like setting the table, candlelight, silence in the house, wine, eating off of pretty plates, and using place mats. As we were preparing for for dinner last night I told Melissa that I may well end up buying us fancy place mats and napkins by the end of the month, since we’d actually use them.

I am Shelly. “Figuring out my career” is the biggest part of my life right now, and I’ve had the luxury of staying home for the past seven months while I’ve been working on that. I cook all of our meals save the occasional fancy breakfast, and I do all of our grocery shopping. Of late, I’ve even been good about planning our meals each week, and I’m excited about cooking in a way I haven’t been for a while. This experimonth comes at a really great time for me, ’cause eating at the table every night creates even more motivation to make spectacular dinners.

Last night, however, we had leftover lasagna and a salad. It was great, but it took us about five minutes to get it all together and start eating it. While we ate, we talked about the way we always have some kind of entertainment going. We usually watch our Netflixes while we eat dinner, and once in a while we even eat in front of our computers. We also talked about dinner when we were kids–neither of us really ate at the table each night, growing up.  Other conversation topics were children, our future, travel, burnt cat whiskers, and what we were going to do after we ate.

Our rules are simple:

1) We eat together at a table every night, and it’ll usually be the dining room table but we’re open to eating out;

2) Cats are allowed on the table as long as they don’t interfere with the food;

3) No television or other entertainment. Just conversation.

Forget placemats; I might even buy salt and pepper shakers this month. That’d be a big step.

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Hi, I’m Karen

Hello all. I’m mother to one of the blogging Erins (the one with the deal-io). I’m looking forward to this experiment since it’s a good opportunity to spend time with Erin. With her tight schedule, we see her sometimes only in passing. My husband, 12-year-old son, and 8-year-old daughter eat together most nights (and my 22-year-old son, who doesn’t live us, typically swoops in later in the evening to eat leftovers). We eat at the kitchen table most nights, but we do have a weakness for eating out.

Erin already explained our schedule and goals for the month, so as the primary cook, I’ll go into the challenges of feeding the group. First, my husband and two sons are not picky eaters, but they are not fans of meat-free dinners. My youngest daughter is picky. She’ll eat most fruit and likes bread, cheese, and breakfast food; she eschews most meat unless it’s in sausage format. Erin is mostly vegetarian and has some food allergies to work around. I’m not big on dairy-laden foods and cannot eat beef or cured meats. All of this means that finding dishes we can all eat is challenging.

So the goal is for the five/six of us to eat dinner together as much as possible (my oldest son will eat with us sometimes). My husband travels a lot, so at times it may be just four of us.

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My name is Allison, and I have a Pal and a Confidant.

posted by Allison

In Beck Tench, that is–I am firmly clutched to her coattails in this blogarific month-long journey (including the 28 Tables Experiment itself). I’ll expound a bit more in my own direction, but I want to give a general “ditto” to everything Beck said. I’ll be eating usually dinner with her, at home or out, just us or with many fellow participants, no telly but records are a go, and no, sorry Juice, no kittens on the table.

I want to use 28 Tables as an excuse to try new recipes; to eat with friends and loved ones more often; and maybe even to blog once a day about it all. I’m not sure if there’s anything greater that I’d want to get out of this experience, ’cause Beck and I have some pretty good conversations and I love spending time with her. Also we’re both pretty handy in the kitchen and this can be a good reason to have more cake on hand for the whole month. MMM cake.

So cheers y’all! I’ll be seeing you around.

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Robin’s attempt to introuce herself…

Hi, there!

Im Robin, but a lot of my oldschool friends call me Robeen-o. Kind of like the gas remedy Bean-O. Not sure if that was intentional or not. I am a vegetarian after all and I do enjoy the beans.

Im looking forward to this experimonth. For me, 28 Tables is an excellent opportunity for community building and strengthening family ties.  Throughout my crazy life the one consistent rock-steady thing in it has been the dinner table. Growing up with my mom we ALWAYS ate dinner together at the table. The same with my Dad. Dad’s dinner table ALWAYS came with a good side of  “Hee Haw”.  Now that I have my own family I continue to make it a point to sit down together for dinner, minus the “Hee Haw”.

I live with my husband and 3 year old daughter. Horticulture is my passion and my job.  Im a stubborn hippy with a punk rock heart and  I have a lot of convictions. One is that I do not eat meat. My daughter is vegetarian, too.  My husband and i trade off cooking meals, which is really nice. He gets home before me so that on nights that I have to squeeze dinner in between getting home at 5:30 and my Tuesday night meetings at 6, we can still eat together.

My goals are this:   1.No restaurants. I want to have dinner at home, in someone else’s home, or some place of community.  Any sort of table will do. Potlucks count, picnics count, dinner at Elmo’s does not count (errgg, this will be hard!).  No more pay-day dinner’s out.

2.      Eat with my husband and daughter, but also share dinner with as many different people as possible. Family, friends, strangers, it doesnt matter.  As long as we are together and enjoying one anothers company. I’ll try to invite people  that I do not know very well to come over for dinner.This will only work if they take me up on my offer.  My cooking is decent, and i promise at least a good laugh!

To TV I say “boo”!   Background music is permissible so long as it’s not distracting. I want to be able to have real conversations and really BE with my fellow diners.

Through all of this I hope to get a better grip on committment. Follow through with the “we should hang out sometime”‘s and really get to know people. It will also be an excellent opportunity to become a better cook, try new recipies, and get out of the dinner rut.



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