Mother's Day can be a joyful day for some women and for others a time when personal loss is felt more acutely. I encourage you to take time on Mother's Day to honor and celebrate some of the special women in your life.Read More
A prettily set table can help family and friends feel welcomed and honored. But how do we do this without it taking too much time or costing a lot? I have set so many tables through the years and hope one or two of these ideas will work for you.Read More
There is great power in the establishment of positive, repetitive personal, family and community traditions. We need to consider how to add these small and more momentous acts into the lives of our family. Part of offering welcome to others around us can also involve including others in these traditions. Why go to the effort to plan and implement regular family traditions?
The repetitive act of family traditions gives security to family members.
They add a sense of identity to our families.
They give the opportunity for "family lore" and stories to be passed from one generation to the next.
They connect us to the larger community.
They root our story in the historical stories of our family, community and country.
They need to be planned to be simple enough to implement without exhausting all concerned!
They must be adjusted through the years as our children grow (see story below)
They can help to reinforce our faith and what we believe.
They are fun to pass on to the next generation and add a sense of continuity to the next generation.
They give us an opportunity to live generously and to include others that may be beyond our family circle.
Some of our family stories:
One year we had to adjust our normal family tradition as our children had grown older. Our children (and a friend of Fay’s) wanted to climb on the roof to have the Easter picnic! We all climbed a ladder and I served food and hot chocolate on the roof and we told the Easter story up there. It was good that it was very early in the morning as I am not sure what the neighbors would have thought had they seen us!
Though the years we have had an Easter Morning sunrise picnic with our children and have used the Easter Story Eggs to tell the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We have passed on this tradition to our children for them to share with their family. Brett made a set of the Easter Story Eggs for our son and daughter-in-law and this is now a tradition for them as well.
The Easter Story Eggs have been one of our family traditions through the years and now we are so happy that our grandchildren are also opening the Easter Eggs on Easter morning and hearing the story of Jesus.Read More
It is so easy to grow spring grass and is great to use as a table decoration. You can celebrate Spring or for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, you can have your last Summer fling with a fun grassy table. This also works perfectly for an Easter table setting as you can place eggs or lambs on the grassRead More
An attractive table makes a big difference to any occasion and does not need to cost a lot or take much time to set. I am sharing some basic tips in this blog that I hope will encourage you to have fun setting the table more often.
1. Remember that the goal is to create a “prepared place” into which your family and guests are invited. At your table they will be able to relax, share their hearts and enjoy being together.
2. Bless your family first. Don’t just use your tablecloth and add flowers when you have guests coming. Honor your family with a well-set table on a regular basis and involve your children in the preparation too. Your example will help equip them for when they can host around their own tables.
3. Start with a simple table set up and then once you feel confident setting that, you can add more details to the table. See the Simple. Special, Spectacular blog.
4. One of my Heartistry Mottos is, “Always set the table first”. Even if you have not finished preparing the meal by the time your guests arrive, they will feel your welcome if they see the table ready and waiting for them.
5. Initially plan around one color scheme so that it is easy to coordinate your supplies. White is obviously a great choice and then you can accent with different colors.
6. When I am hosting a large group, or preparing a more complex and time consuming meal such as Thanksgiving, I set the table the day before so that I have one less thing to do on the actual day.
7. Choose the right size table for the size of your group. You want to make sure that people can see and hear each other. If you have a long table, and are serving a meal for a small group, set the table at one end and put flowers and food on the other end so that it still feels cozy.
8. There are different types of tables that can be used. I have used an old door, table tennis (ping pong) table, card table, fold out banquet table, and even had people sit on the floor around a low table for a Middle Eastern meal.
9. Lighting makes a big difference to the atmosphere. Add candles, little tea lights, small LED lights (my favorites), or bring a lamp from somewhere in your home and include that in your table décor.
10. Adding height adds interest to the table. Make sure that people can easily see over anything that you place in the middle of the table. This seems obvious, but I have been to events where a large flower arrangement blocked the view completely. Put a book or little box under your flower arrangement or candles to add height.
Please share your thoughts and tips on setting a simple table in the comments section below. Click on Share below and your can share this to your Facebook Page. Thanks!
In February much of the media focus is around love. Love is important, but I think it would be good for us to focus on kindness this month (and every month after that!) Let’s plan for intentional acts of kindness.
Kind people are easy to be with
They think of others and not only themselves
They look for ways to add a little joy into the lives of friends and even strangers
Kindness is like the sun coming out from behind a cloud on a cold day. It gives us a little courage to keep going.
How can we show kindness to others so that we brighten their day? I would love to hear your thoughts (please share in the comments section below.)
Here are some ideas:
Document our personal goal to grow in kindness and share it with someone close to us.
Pack/buy an extra lunch item and share it with someone.
Pay for a stranger’s coffee or dry cleaning.
Give away something new and attractive not just the old and worn out.
Give an anonymous donation of any size to a worthy organization and commit to never sharing about it.
Buy a pack of greeting cards and plan to use them all in a month.
Write a meaningful affirmation. Not sure where to begin? Check out 10 Tips for Writing a Meaning Affirmation.
Plan to host a meal for friends once a month in 2019. Why not start with an Easy Valentines day Dinner?
Focus on our friendships. Friendship adds so much richness to our lives, so let’s plan on doing something special for a close friend. Maybe we need to take the time to reach out to friends with whom we have lost contact. The Fabric of Friendship can be laced with precious golden threads if we put in the time and effort.
Stretch ourselves to try something new and uncomfortable that will grow our capacity to serve others.
Let’s commit to growing in kindness in the Month of Love!
Learning how to take short-cuts, enables us to offer hospitality more often. We can open our heart and homes to people because we don't end up feeling totally exhausted at the end of the visit. During my Top Ten Hospitality Tips training, I shared about making a simple Valentine's Day tray as a way to demonstrate how we can easily bless people around us as we use short-cuts!
You can treat someone you love and care for to a pretty Valentine's Day tray. Surprise a teacher, neighbor, teenager, friend or spouse. It can be quick and easy to do.
I brought cupcakes and strawberry milk and a small pack of chocolates wrapped in pink paper at my local convenience store. Pink icing is easy to make (add the food coloring with a toothpick or you will end up with red icing!) You can add it on top of the white icing for some of the cupcakes to provide variety. Add some sprinkles, cut out a small heart from paper (I used the cardboard from the chocolates!), add a tiny flower and you have designer cupcakes for almost nothing! I put the cupcakes into some cuter cupcake holders that I had and tied a ribbon around one of them to add an extra touch of whimsy.
Set a tray with a flower in a little jar, a pretty napkin, one of your cupcakes, some strawberry milk (bought or homemade) and you are all set to bless someone! Look around your home to see if you have any other items that will add to the theme and include those. Add a heartfelt note and share the tray. What a blessing!
Please share your trays with me so that I can post the photos. Let's encourage each other.
And please share this blog with friends. Encourage them to become part of our Heartistry community!
One of the best ways to prepare our homes for guests in to walk through our home with a very critical eye, or even ask a friend to help us (if we are brave enough!) Often we can overlook things when we are used to them and no longer even “see” them.
Use this checklist to think through how to lovingly prepare your home so that your guests will feel comfortable and welcomed.
Outside my Home
Have I made it clear where people should park or what public transport they should use to reach my home?
Is the number outside my home clear enough for guests to read?
Is the entrance clearly marked and safe or could my guests trip over a child’s bicycle/garden rake, etc.?
Have I replaced dead seasonal flowers? Removed the fall pumpkins or Christmas lights when it is way past the season?
Does the light bulb/door mat at the entrance need to be replaced?
Could I add a welcoming touch such as a wreath on my door? This is optional, but it is worth considering how to add a touch of beauty that reflects who we are as a family.
Inside my home:
Have I put in the effort to get my home organized enough that I don’t panic when unexpected guests arrive? (You know the stories about pushing items under the bed and hiding dirty dishes in the oven!)
Am I able to make a space where a friend can sit and have tea without taking an hour to clear away all the toys/laundry? (Reducing clutter/excess items and simplifying can create margin for hospitality. It is fine for your house to look “lived in” but encourage children to clean up toys and games as they go.
Is the toilet clean? Do I have extra toilet paper in an easily accessible place (to adults that is!)
Is there a key in the bathroom door? (In South Africa, people know to knock on the bathroom door before entering, but in some cultures they would just try the door. This can lead to embarrassment.
Do I have tea, coffee and some cookies on hand so that I can offer them to guests?
Check out 10 Simple Tips to Make Staying Guests Feel Welcome for more ideas.
Preparing for Thanksgiving can be overwhelming, but with these simple tips shared by Lyn Johnson, you will have a stress-free celebration around the table with family and friends!Read More
It was a delight to host our sixth Heartistry Experience in France. Our participants came from South Africa, Madagascar and the USA. We had couples, singles and a father-daughter combo attend the week long course.
On Friday June 15, we welcomed the group to our "home" for the week, a very old chateau in the village of St Hippolyte-du-fort, in the Cevennes region of France. For some it was their first visit to Europe, so excitement was high!
Our week was filled with teaching sessions and hands-on activities. We loved being tourists as we explored the historic sights of the region and visited the local markets. We savored many delicious meals in local restaurants and had time to enjoy the village of St Hippolyte-du-fort while we got to know each other better.
Having a beautifully table is just one aspect of hospitality, but one that brings so much joy. Each day a different group had the opportunity to set the table. I (Lyn) began by setting the welcome table with a Paris theme. The weather looked a bit risky, so I decided to use the tent in the garden at the back of the property.
I loved seeing how enthusiastically everyone participated and used their creativity to take the supplies I had provided, plus other items they found, to make our tables look so welcoming.
During the Heartistry Experience have the opportunity to serve our local hosts by preparing two meals to which they are invited. On Monday night we hosted the Taste of Provence. Our group had just two hours to prepare and display the dozens of different local specialities. We all enjoyed tasting so many different delicious items and we had lots over for the picnic we had the following day.
Planning, preparing for and producing a banquet for 30 people in a foreign country is not an easy task! But it is an excellent opportunity to learn good teamwork, project management skills and also proves what can be done in just one day! The group did an excellent job and everyone had an amazing evening as we enjoyed everything from the welcome drink to the dessert.
The first step after deciding on the menu and who was to cook which course, was to shop in the local grocery store. The other customers couldn't believe how much we had in the shopping carts!
I had brought some supplies with me and had a broad sense of what the decor would be. We asked everyone to come dressed in black, white or pink, so we mainly used those colors. Gloria and Danielle used their creativity and set such an exquisite table as they worked all afternoon in the hot sun.
Our special Bless not Impress aprons are only given to those who attend a Heartistry Experience. We were excited to put on our aprons and serve our guests from Youth with a Mission. It was a pleasure for us to have our hosts Dudley and Janet Weiner and their staff at the banquet.
A lot of thought went into the menu for our special meal. Lydia was the event coordinator and kept everyone on time. Stevie prepared the drinks which were delicious and looked so fancy and Wilme made tiny appetizers. She and Jodene worked on the vegetables and made a delicious potato dish plus other vegetables. Christine's tuna salad was served in endive leaves and was both tasty and so attractively served. Johan didn't have much kitchen experience, but made a stunning summer melon soup. Stephan prepared a delicious beef roast that was tender and so flavorful and the finale of the meal was a South African inspired caramel dessert made by Kerri.
You may be wondering if all we did was eat! We did enjoy many amazing meals, but we also spent time in the classroom and had hands-on practice.
We explored some of the local tourist spots such as the Pont du Gard built by the Romans, the Huguenot Museum where many of the South Africans were able to trace their ancestry and Uzes Market (one of my favorite places in the world.)
Father's Day is just a few days away. I have shared some simple tips to make this day memorable for the men in your life whether it is your dad, son, uncle or another man who has played a significant role. Whenever there are "holidays" to honor certain people or relationships, there will be those around you feeling a sense of loss more acutely than on other days. Be attentive and look for ways to reach out and encourage friends who have never had a dad in their lives, lost a dad, or are not in a good relationship with their father. Your friendship and care will mean a lot to them today.Read More
Many people are so busy nowadays and are struggling to keep up with their crazy schedule that family meal times are rushed and infrequent, if they happen at all. Gathering at the table is one of the most powerful things you can ever do with your family. Your own experience may have been good, or troubled, but you now have the opportunity to start this impactful practice with your own family. Here are 18 reasons why!Read More
I think I’ve begun to learn over the past several years that when I am the guest, when I put my feet under someone else’s table, ceding power to them, and graciously and gratefully receiving what they serve to me - this is also a huge part of hospitality;Read More
Do you want to set a pretty Easter table without spending a lot of time or money? With just a couple of packs of Easter eggs, some napkins/serviettes and a few other inexpensive items, I have set a number of place settings. You can try one of these ideas as you prepare a welcoming table.
- Stack up cake stands or plates with glasses between them and add Easter eggs.
- Sprinkle eggs directly onto the table cloth in between the plates and serving dishes. (They may get eaten, so have extra on hand!)
Use some pretty napkins to add color and design to the table. Napkins can be put on the plate, under the silverware, or set up on a buffet table. Check out 10 Ways to Use a Napkin other than Wiping your Mouth!
The Easter eggs can be used in many ways. Add them to small dishes and place on at each setting. Use a paper doily and wrap them into a cone and add the Easter eggs. Use your imagination and you will be able to add color and whimsy to the table!
I found cute little lamb chocolates which looked so sweet at each setting. In South Africa we grew up eating Easter eggs that looked like real eggs and these look great on a spoon or as part of the centerpiece. You can also use hard boiled eggs for a natural (and healthy) addition.
Check out the other Easter table decor ideas, such as using real grass to set a spectacular Easter table.
Please sign up to receive our newsletters so that you can receive ongoing inspiration and instruction.
Passover is such a significant time for Jewish people all over the world. The Passover holiday begins with the Seder, a ritual feast, that retells the story of the Israelites being delivered by God from slavery in ancient Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to tell their children the story and pass it down from generation to generation as recorded in Exodus 13:8. The family gathers around the table and reads the text of the Haggadah while eating symbolic food.
I have so enjoyed the times when I have been privileged to attend a Seder feast and have loved being reminded of this important story through the words being spoken, the questions asked (often by the youngest child), answers given and the food we ate.
My friend Gail Rudee shared with me how she and her husband traveled from Seattle to Los Angeles to celebrate Passover with their son Alex. Because they were visiting their son they didn’t have Gail’s fancy tableware with them so wine glasses from a wine tasting the previous day did the trick! Gail cooked her grandma’s “old country” recipes and transported them to LA. and they so enjoyed cooking the last minute dishes together. When their daughter Talia was not able to attend the seder as she was at college they “skyped” her in! I love how we can use technology to keep families connected.
Robin Cunningham has four children and shared with me that Passover is their family’s favorite holiday. They have a number of regulars who attend the meal and then they reach out to new people each year. Robin says her Christian friends are often the ones most excited to experience a Seder. They have many traditions that add to the richness (and fun) of the experience. They go around the table and ask everyone what they would take, and why, if they had to leave home in a hurry and knew they were never coming back. Robin says they have heard some fun responses through the years!
A Bay Area resident shared, "When I think of Passover, I immediately think of a long night of traditions and a time of remembrance. I think of the opportunity to be with family, talk about the hardships the Jewish people have overcome, and look to the past to inform our future." Another person added, "When I think about hospitality in the Passover tradition, I'm reminded of Elijah's chair. There's always space for God. And there's always space for another friend to come and join the seder."
I love that. There's always space for God. And space for someone else to come to the table.
Check out our Heartistry Pinterest Board for Passover table decor ideas.
We prepared a party to welcome home our new granddaughter. With only a short window of time we used easy shortcuts and made a pretty table to congratulate Mom.Read More
Do you want to grow in sharing your heart and home with others? Need inspiration and instruction? Last week I shared my TOP TEN TIPS "live" on my Heartistry-Art of Welcome Facebook page. I have posted these ten 10 minute long sessions here, so that you can also watch these mini-sessions. Obviously it is hard to condense all the teachings into such short videos, but I am sure you will learn something!
Tip One- Learn by Doing
I encourage us to begin the journey. We activate the heart by action! In this video I set the stage for what we will be learning in the next ten sessions. I encourage you to sign up for our Heartistry Newsletters so that you can get more information from me from time to time.
Tip Two- Start Small
I share a true story that has motivated and touched me deeply as I have learned how to live more generously. Hospitality has a big impact on our families and the lives of other people too. It doesn't take much to be able to help someone know that they are loved and have value.
Tip Three- Bless not Impress™
What is the heart of true hospitality? I share one of our Heartistry mottos which is, "Bless not Impress™. In this video I speak about the difference between ENTERTAINING and HOSPITALITY and how we can overcome the obstacles to offering heartfelt hospitality.
Tip Four- Set a Tray Today
Set a Tray Today! I share a personal story of how I set a tray and the impact that it has on my friend. I demonstrate how to set a tray to show how quickly it can be done! I encourage everyone to set a tray and to send a photo to us, so that we can all the inspired. Why don't you do the same? Send it to Lyn@Heartistry.info.
Tip 5- The More before, the less the Stress™
In Tip Five, I share about preparing our hearts and our homes for hospitality as we learn the motto, The More before, the Less the Stress™. We discuss what prevents us from offering hospitality and what the real purpose of hospitality is. I show some of my special hospitality items.
Tip Six-Set the Table First
I love this tip. Set the Table First! There is great power in the Prepared Place. Inviting people into your home when the table is set will help them feel truly welcomed. I shared my tips and also about my new e-booklet that is coming soon! Exciting! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Seven- Take Short-cuts
If we are going to continue to offer hospitality without getting burned out, we need to make it as easy as possible. I share some of my best tips for saving time as we prepare the table and the meal. I set a Valentine's Day tray to show how quickly one can make something pretty to share with a friend. I encourage everyone to sign up for our newsletters so that they can receive my 10 Simple Tips for Setting the Table e-booklet! It will be free for those who sign up for our Heartistry newsletters!
Tip Eight-Ask for help
In Tip Eight I encourage everyone to ask for help when offering hospitality. It can be easier at times to do everything ourselves, but if we want to be able to continue offering hospitality, we need to not try and do it all. We also train others (especially our children) but encouraging them to work alongside us.
Tip Nine- Be a Hub person
Offering hospitality can be sacrificial. It costs, money, time, effort and more. And yet the rewards are great. I encourage us to be the ones who reach out to others. "Hub" people gather and convene friends, family or even communities of people. I also share my favorite hospitality item, a cake stand! (More accurately, I share a number of cake stands with you!)
Tip Ten-Just Start- Open your Heart
In our final mini-session, I review what we have learned and encourage us all to start offering hospitality. I share from my passion and remind us all of the power and purpose of true hospitality. I would love to hear from you if you have finished watching all ten videos, so please email me at Lyn@Heartistry.info and share what you learned. I would also love you the comment here on the blog. Thanks so much!
Today we celebrated Heartistry's 3rd birthday! I have been practicing and teaching about hospitality for decades, but three years ago I launched Heartistry.info and it was official! I am so thankful for the people who encouraged me, assisted me with the graphics, technical details, and so much more. I am grateful for the countless people who have read the blog and Facebook posts and those who have attended events around the world. I wish I could have hosted ALL of you for tea today. Some of my local Heartistry Experience alumni and friends stopped in this morning and we enjoyed tea as we caught up with one another.Read More
Valentine's Day can be special and romantic or very difficult for some people. Lyn shares step-by-step tips on how to prepare a celebratory meal for family or friends. Gather people and express your love and appreciation for them.Read More