With everything that is currently going on in the world, it’s times like these when we appreciate how lucky we are to have our family and a place to call home —where we feel safe and can escape from the world, taking time to relax and be together.
I like to think of my house as a place for family to gather especially as the children grow up and start to become their own people. I treasure moments around the dining table, hearing about what my daughters have been doing, about work, school, friends, partners and passions.
At our home, we are constantly surrounded by music and dancing especially as one of my daughters is a singer-songwriter and all the girls play the piano, guitar or ukulele. You’ll often find us all singing and dancing together in the kitchen whilst cooking. It brings us joy and this time together creates the best memories.
In these times I am quite determined to make these magic moments all the more memorable. I take great pleasure in decorating my dining table, always adding a hint of the season whether it be the flowers and foliage or with decorative pieces I’ve collected over the years. It’s all about creating a mood by stimulating all the senses.
It begins with ornamentation – maybe it’s a quirky pair of candlesticks found in a dusty shop in France, or a pretty set of China that only comes out in certain seasons, or a bounty of irresistible produce from the farmer’s market that just looks luscious on the table. It’s taken years of hounding tiny antique shops the world over to collect these pieces — some of them quite cheap and cheerful—they are so valuable as conversation pieces. They stick in your memory.
Of course it’s about more than just the visuals. I adore layering linens and textures on the table, the more diverse and “mix and match” the better. They give a real sense of comfort and coziness. Then, of course, there is scent, my great obsession. I always include candles but I also like including scented seasonal flowers and herbs, as these will also layer in a lovely way. Finally, and importantly, there’s music. Curating a playlist beforehand makes for one thing less to do during the meal. Plus, it gets you in the mood for the party, too.
And then there are the tastebuds to think of. I always love to pop gorgeous nibbles on the table — especially almonds dragées or pastel coloured macaroons. They look so pretty in the crystal bowls I’ve collected over the years. Most important of all is the meal itself; cooking for my family is a must. I try to always come up with a handwritten menu card, and present it in a fun way. It makes the whole mealtime experience all the more special.
With Easter coming up, I have just managed to get decorations out for display, but will also add scented spring flowers, lemons such as sweet peas and daffodils, and of course some hand-painted eggs.
Off to the farmers market for asparagus, jerusalem artichokes, broad beans, peas and then some rhubarb for a gorgeous crumble. Delightful!