We caught up with Anna Watson Carl, author of The Yellow Table (the blog AND the cookbook), who shared about the dining room table that helped shape her love of eating, entertaining, and, eventually, her career in cooking. Originally her parents' table, it's now at home in her New York City apartment and the site of endless meals and gatherings. Anna and her husband even moved a wall to make room for it.
Part comfort and part inspiration, keepsakes are often homey things—not too fancy or precious—that we carry around forever or simply hope to keep for years to come. They tell us about ourselves, what we value and what we aspire to be, and lend a lot of comfort to the places we call home. Here's what Anna's yellow table means to her, and some other keepsakes stories from our editors.
My life has always revolved around the yellow table. I grew up eating nearly every meal at this table, celebrating birthdays and holidays, spending countless hours talking about life and telling stories, and laughing (a lot) with family and friends. It’s a place where ideas have been birthed, tears have been shed, and toasts have been made. This table is more than a table to me—it’s a place where I’ve always felt known and loved. It represents family and tradition, acceptance and community, and the simple pleasures of homemade meals and good conversation. I can’t wait to continue the legacy of the yellow table with my own children one day. —Anna Watson Carl
Like Anna, I love the kitchen table I grew up with, the same one my mother had in her childhood home. We ate dinner around this kitchen table nearly every night, even when my brother and I were older and we were all busy enough to justify not doing so. I have done about one million art projects and most of my homework at this table; it's where we set up our canning jars and where we fold our laundry. And it has always been a relief, in the summer, to put my head down on its always-cool metal surface. —Caroline Lange
One of my favorite grab-it-if-the-house-is-burning-down items in my house is a pothook.
Not just any pothook though—specifically, it's a jizai-kagi, a Japanese adjustable pothook meant for use indoors over a sunken hearth. When living in Japan, I wanted to find one nice something-or-other to bring back to the States to serve as a daily reminder of our time there. I was originally thinking along the lines of a dining room table, but it was a pothook that ended up catching my eye in a second-hand store near our apartment. The owner tried to talk me into a lower-priced (a.k.a. not as cool) model (perhaps because he knew I wasn't going to use it for its intended purpose), but when he saw I couldn't be persuaded, he just shrugged and said, "You have good taste." Someday it might be nice to have it featured prominently at the center of a tatami room holding a kettle of water for tea, but for now, I'm content to have it function as artwork—adorning one corner of my dining room. —Lindsay-Jean Hard
When I moved to New York from college in Boston a little over a year ago, I came with just two (enormous) suitcases, a lei from graduation, and a car full of snacks to fuel my very helpful parents. So when I moved into my first long-term apartment last month, I essentially started from scratch: I filled it with extremely inexpensive furniture so I could spend my money on things I'll actually keep forever, like a beautiful Vermont marble board for pie crusts, a boysenberry KitchenAid, and a cast iron pot. While they aren't heirlooms, they're beautiful (and functional!) pieces that have already contributed to some of my most memorable nights and meals in the city with friends—even if I don't have a dining table to serve them at—yet. —Leslie Stephens
My mom sent me to college with this binder of her recipes. You'll see it's called "Yo Momma's Homemade Recipes"—she added that attribution in stickers to the cover of the standard recipe book. And while she doesn't know how to type, is not a scrapbooker, and is in no way crafty, she poked out all the recipes I grew up on to compile in this book. There are also some cheesy stickers (you'll see Momma's Meatballs are ostensibly the way to a man's heart). At this point, I've made those meatballs, lemon pasta, and minestrone enough times that I could make them by heart. But I choose not to: I'd rather hold onto this binder, deciphering my mom's shorthand each time. It's as close as I can get to cooking with her when we're 3,000 miles apart. —Ali Slagle
Maybe I should be embarassed to share this, but anyone who knows me well also knows Bebe. A small pink polar bear, Bebe was given to me as a gift by my family. Bebe has a knack for travel: When I was younger, I would grasp him by his spine in one hand and lug him around everywhere (left picture), sometimes hiding him accidentally (Mom says she found him in a diaper box after a big cry when I thought I'd lost him). In his older age (right picture), he's best at just snuggling, but he still loves travel and finds his way into overnight bags and backpacks and work totes. I'm not sure how—maybe because he hates staying at home alone and prefers to be exploring. Worn all over, Bebe is my daily reminder that no matter how far I go, nobody has my back more than my family. —Amanda Sims
What's your yellow table? Let us know in the comments!
First photo by Eric Ryan Anderson; second by Anna Watson Carl; all others by respective editors.