18 Oct 2010

Cadre de la Table - { Setting the Table }

Sitting down at the kitchen table to eat dinner together was a day to day occurrence in my house as a child. The seersucker tablecloth, the cutlery facing the right way (I don't mean fork on the left, knife on the right...I mean knife facing in...la di da!) salt and pepper shakers in the middle and a water glass for everyone. The butter container was never plonked onto the table. Mon Dieu! It first had to be scooped out with a spoon into a little wee bowl or on special occasions...with a melon baller. Trés sophisticated!

Even on those very rare nights when we were allowed to eat in front of the television...corned beef fritters were usually on the menu coupled with a Disney movie. We still had a place mat each, a fork and a paper napkin folded in half.....and the salt and pepper shakers on their own placemat with the sauce (yes...he was allowed to just stand there naked in his bottle the devil!).

When there was celebration in the air, flowers were picked from the garden and arranged daintily in a vase, tall candles were lit, the crystal salt and pepper shakers came out. And most wondrous of all....Mum turned linen napkins into fans and bishop hats with a flick of her agile wrist.

As soon as Bijou was old enough to eat in a high chair we have been setting the table and having our family meal together. It didn't take her long to cotton on that our meals looked far more appetising than her "slop" (slop: noun. a delicious mix of seasonal vegetables that Mumma has pain stakingly peeled, cut, cooked and puréed for her lovely and hungry little miss) and refused point blank to continue on with the charade. She has eaten the same meal as we eat for a very long time.

And now that she is older and absolutely desperate to help out in any way, she lays the table. One placemat each, one piece of cutlery at a time, plastic cups for water (Daddy always gets the pink cup...). The look on her face after completely this task is pure gold!

Inspired by the ever talented Kelly of The Crafty Minx I made a set of quilted placemats for a treasured friend's birthday out of some linen and vintage sheet scraps. I love them so much that I had a bit of trouble parting with them....but Bijou simply wouldn't answer to the name Ava no matter how hard I tried. What's a Mumma to do?

Make a set or two for her own bonne famille. Wishing you a week full of sit down dinners, effervescent conversation and tinkly laughter. Go on...use the good dinner set!


  1. oh, so beautiful! I love this idea!

  2. They are absolutely beautiful placemats, just lovely. Like you, we have always done dinner at the table with the girls, it is a special time of day.

  3. What a lovely idea for placemats! We have a selection of cheap plastic ones that wipe clean easily, but the spills are less frequent now, and my girls would LOVE personalised ones!! Mmmmm Christmas holiday project they can help with I think!!

    Thanks for the inspiration Steph!!

  4. they look absolutely gorgeous, my 3 year old would love setting the table with them! and what a great gift idea. i've been meaning to make some placemats all year- might have to get going now!

  5. These are adorable! Our dinner table as children sounds just like yours, except the sauce was always in a little jug, as was milk. Butter most definitely always on a butter dish and we had our own napkin rings. Fond memories, but I do take great pleasure (perhaps too much) in plonking the cream container down on the table for dessert instead of in a jug and the same with butter.....i must confess to always using a special gravy jug though...can't let that one go.
    We have just bought a new table and I was just wondering yesterday about table mats.....thanks so much for the inspiration!

  6. I love your story of growing up and those placemats are so adorable.
    what wonderful memories you are now making around your table as a family!

  7. I love them and love that we were bought up in such similar families.

    Amelia and Baden are now both at the age that they love to help and are even able to go to the cutlery draw now and grab what is required.

    Well done - lol that Misss B would not answer to Ava!

  8. Hi Steph, your placemats are adorable i can understand why they were hard to let go, you will just have to make yourself some!
    Have a great week!

  9. how did i miss this post? huh! anyhoo - what a dream gift - you've given me inspriation to get that book out again and start planning for christmas gifts! Merci dear Steph!

  10. Hello Steph, those placemats are just lovely and I will definitely make some of these to replace the ones we have. I just love the way the French are so sociable at the table and take the time to prepare small wonderful meals and enjoy conversation. My husband is French, from Paris, we are fortunate he is with us for all our meals that we enjoy at our family table. The best social skills for children.


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