Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Welcome To Our Table, by Shirley and Danae Dobson

Welcome to Our Table is a compilation of memories, ideas, family recipes and celebrations with the intention of inspiring readers to bless others and create their own lasting memories. Authors Shirley and Danae Dobson (mother and daughter) give a lesson in hospitality: why should the reader show hospitality to others and how to successfully do it. It is full of stories, entertaining ideas and biblical wisdom about kindness and extending hospitality. With beautiful pictures, chapters divided by seasons, and easy to follow recipes, this book is designed to make the entertaining task doable for those readers who simply do not know where to start or what to do next.

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13) is the first Bible verse quoted in Welcome to Our Table. And it is not a verse to take lightly. It’s a command, and a very intimidating one (at least for me). Although for many people, such as my parents, it comes naturally and effortlessly, to others, like me, practicing hospitality may seem overwhelming. I have no idea what to do, where to begin, or even what’s a good reason to invite people over. Do I need a good reason to invite people over? It definitely does not come natural to me.

This book is a great help. First and foremost, it highlights over and over the need we have, as Christians, to enjoy each other’s company, to share what little we have with those around us. It gives a wonderful lesson of extending kindness, of opening our hearts to others, of being sensitive to their needs and welcoming them to our home. As it turns out, in the end the reader realizes that practicing hospitality is a gracious command given by the Lord that blesses everyone involved. How sweet it is to enjoy the company of others, to share their laughter, their tears, to give them hope, to show them grace!

And this lesson in hospitality and kindness is given accompanied by very good recipes, but not just random recipes. For each chapter divided by seasons, the book has different sections, such as Easter, Bridal Shower, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day. And for each section, the authors have provided a menu, which is a great idea for those who have no idea about what to do, or what to serve. The menus are well thought out and make the planning effortless.

The recipes alone are very good. The few we have tried, like the High Tea Vanilla Cookies and the Pumpkin Bread and Cream Cheese Sandwiches were huge hits, and very easy to follow, prepare and serve. Most of the recipes are made with basic ingredients that you may already have at home or that would be very easy to find at the store. And the results are well worth the efforts. The guests feel cherished and you will feel very pleased with the smile on their faces.

Also, the entertaining ideas are very cute and very much in keeping with each particular celebration. There are a few that may be too old fashion or culturally different for many. For instance, The Summer Formal Tea is not something we would do at our house. But we changed it to Our Evening Coffee Gathering, or Hot Chocolate Hour, and it works great. Just a little tweak to suit our needs and likes.

However, as great as the book is, it lacks a recipe index, which is essential in a book with recipes. I have had to go back and forth a few too many times trying to find a recipe because I could not remember to which season and section it belonged, even though the book is only 128 pages long. Also, there are a few plates mentioned in the menus that are not included in the recipes. Now, I know that the menus are there to give you an idea, but it would have been nice to include a recipe for each item on the menus, like the Pecan Pie or the Hot Apple Pie a la Mode. More so when the pictures look so enticing. 

With touching and endearing stories about family, friends and people in need of a little kindness, Welcome to Our Table opens our eyes and hearts to the needs of others and to our God given task of doing what we can to help. As the book closes, we are introduced to three remarkable ladies, their stories, their testimonies and the ways they turned their needs and hurts around to bless others, inspiring the reader to do the same, to not wait until someone asks if they can come over, or until the church needs someone to volunteer their house for a gathering. Just go, just do, just open your home, serve the table and enjoy the company.

4.5 stars out of 5

*I received a copy of this book from Harvest House Publishers through The Christian Manifesto in exchange of an honest review.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Far and Away

For the last couple of months my mind has been blank. Completely blank; very far from here, very much away from the things I love to do, like reading and writing here. I read a couple of books during November, none in the month of December, and two in January, so far. And writing has not come smoothly for me. I have had a review in pieces waiting as a draft for the longest time, and I can't seem to grasp how to finish it. It's nothing out of the ordinary, and still I'm completely stagnant. And the thing is that that simple thing has made me put a halt on reading, because I now have about 5 books waiting to be reviewed and if I keep reading the list would only grow and make me feel even more stuck. It has been incredibly frustrating.

But now I'm back. After being so stuck, after a little health scare, an emergency surgery (for my niece), rumors of the world coming to an end, a tragedy in Connecticut, a new found love for The Big Bang Theory and baking, I'm back. Christmas was great, the world didn't end, my health is ok, my niece recuperated nicely, I can't get enough of The Big Bang Theory and I'm a little heavier from all the things that I've been cooking up in my kitchen. Yes, I'm still somewhat stuck, but I'm going  to pull through.
It's possible that the next review you read here will be a little off. Actually, this post is a little off, but this will be a great year, the posts will get better. There are quite a few books that I'm looking forward to read and review. We are in for great reading treats this year.

I'll be reading some new things, a few oldies (but, apparently, goodies. We'll see), and will be posting about my new found interests, maybe even share a few recipes. It's a very promising year. Of course, I'll need to unstuck myself first, but I'm there... almost.