Beautiful Books that Give Life to Beautiful Meals

I love reading.  And I love reading books about how to make things around me beautiful. One of my favorite things to do is invite guests for dinner, plan a lovely meal and set a beautiful table. I want my guest to feel welcome and well cared for.  I want them to feel loved.  I think setting a beautiful table tells your guests that they are special and that you want them to linger around the table.  Beautiful settings invite comfortable conversations where friends freely share their hearts and minds. It’s the place where we listen and know we will be heard. 

Our lives are fast paced, so taking time out to slow down, linger over good food and conversation is one way we bring community back into priority.  I have used several books to help me think through this process: The Gift of Gathering by Bre Douchette is excellent for learning how to plan a dinner party and set a beautiful table.  Her book is filled with lovely photos of beautiful tables, delicious recipes and the secrets she has learned that make meals so inviting.  Her writing is generous with scripture which reminds us that gathering together is truly a gift. It’s where we get to taste and see that the Lord is good. After all, these gifts of meals, families and friendships are from the Lord. Another book I found very encouraging when I was thinking through how and why to use dinners as a way to minister to my family, friends and neighbors was Rosaria Butterfield’s book The Gospel Comes with a House Key.  She writes the most beautiful story of how her neighborhood came together in the wake of a neighbor’s downfall. While everyone was wanting to stone the neighbor for having a meth lab in their midst, Rosaria’s understanding of the Gospel led to deep conversations about the neighbor in trouble, what led him down that path and how they could still love the neighbor in spite of his folly.  

She opened her home to the entire neighborhood so they could talk through the ordeal and in doing so was able to share the Gospel and point her neighbors, who were just a lost as the meth lab guy, to Christ.  No crowd was too big for Rosaria.  Her book taught me that what you serve and how you serve it are not as important as the conversations and love that are on display. It is an excellent book and I highly recommend reading it. It will inspire you to take bold steps in creating community with those around you.  House Beautiful Tablescapes is another classic book to help you plan everything from the ultimate dressy dinner party to the casual laid-back gathering of family and friends. There is an art to turning tables into beautiful tablescapes and this book by Lisa Cregan is just the book to show you how to cultivate that art so that it is not so intimidating.  Lisa shows you how to turn every day objects found around our homes into lovely table top decorations. As a writer for House Beautiful, she is well versed in what makes a table lovely and inviting. The key to creating beautiful tables really begins with love; love for our families, love for our friends and love for the idea of creating space and time for gathering.  When we love something, it is evident to all around us. As I prepare to host a dinner party, I am giddy with excitement just thinking about the conversations to come, the food to be enjoyed and the friendships that will deepen from our time together.  Much of Other Eden will be devoted to cooking, sharing recipes and tablescapes that I have found to be especially beautiful, all in the hopes that you will want to carve out time from your busy lives to embrace the idea of community in a new way, the way of breaking bread with our family and friends in joyful friendship. 

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