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
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.
- Take a few minutes and journal what you are grateful for with regard to your mother. (Gratitude for the good can soften the memories of what may have been hard.)
- Call your mom, grandmother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend and let them know that you appreciate them.
- Send your mom a card with words written by the card company. (There are cards that capture many emotions and you may find one that works.)
- Make your own card. (Use card stock, wrapping paper, brown paper with your own doodles or take a quick trip to the craft store.)
- Write an affirmation for your mom or a woman who has touched your life. For tips, read my blog on How to Write an Affirmation. Your words will have a deep impact.
- Buy a bunch of flowers from the grocery store and arrange them yourself. Give them to your mom, a neighbor or an elderly woman living on her own who needs encouragement. Check out our Heartistry Pinterest page for simple ideas.
- Deliver an early morning tray to someone's bed (if you live with them) or put it on a friend's doorstep. Check out instructions and photos here and on our Heartistry Pinterest Page.
- Bake some scones and invite some women over for afternoon tea. Check out my 5-Minute Scones Video. Set a pretty table. Here are some ideas to get you going.
- Host a simple Brunch. Read my Spontaneous Brunch blog to see how to pull together a last minute brunch.
- If you are a woman, be kind to yourself today and give yourself grace. You are precious. You are loved.
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.
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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.
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
Would you like to spend a week in France learning about true hospitality?
In this blog, I (Lyn) share about the 2017 Heartistry Experience and I am sure it will motivate you to want to join us in 2018!
We will miss the hot croissants for breakfast and the beauty on all sides. We return home with so many memories of special times, new friends from different parts of the world and refreshed skills that will enable us to offer hospitality to our families and community. It is hard to capture all that we learned and experienced, but I would love to try! Enjoy the photos below (some of my favorites) and more pictures in the Gallery. The videos will add another element as you hear the sounds and feel the vibe.Read More
Are you living in a cold, snowy area? Or is it so hot at your home that you would love to imagine yourself on a winter's vacation? Follow the instructions in the video and set a fun winter wonderland table. Prepare a simple meal of soup or baked potatoes, dim the lights and have a memorable evening around the table!
Use a white table cloth or sheet as your base and then add white plates. If you don't own white plates, I recommend that you buy a set of inexpensive, plain white plates as they provide so much versatility for so many table settings and seasonal meals. Add silverware, glasses and white napkins/serviettes. If you have small tea light candles, add some of those to the table setting as well.
Add table salt to a plate or cake stand (did I mention how much I LOVE cake stands?) You can also use a glass bowl or fish bowl (take the fish out first!) Add a small decorative item from around your home and some greenery. If you have a glass vase large enough, turn it upside down and cover your "scene". I added a string of little while lights and hid the batteries under the salt (I wrapped the mechanism in paper first.) These little white lights are one of my favorite items to use and I travel with them in my suitcase (crazy I know!) Their delicate beauty can turn even an ordinary meal into a celebration! You can purchase the lights at hardware stores and online. Look for battery operated LED lights with wire (not plastic).
Keep the food simple. When you have a special table setting, people barely notice the food (this is my saving grace!) Bake potatoes and serve them with sour cream, cheese, green onions and broccoli (think of this as the touch of greenery in your winter scene). Or make a big pot of soup and serve it with crusty bread. If you are having fun setting the table, just use store bought soup. No-one will even notice!
Dim the lights, play some music, gather around the table and enjoy a memorable meal!
In the midst of the busyness of the everyday, we need to be intentional about creating memories and adding celebration to our lives. An excellent way to do this is to plan for a special "Memorable Meal" each month. Then gather with family and friends. You can reach out by inviting neighbors or even strangers to join you.
Do you need some help, tips and encouragement to do this? This is what Heartistry is all about! We are excited to share ideas with you in our newsletters.
It is almost New Year's Eve and you don't have any plans. Why not invite a few friends, neighbors or even strangers over for a potluck dinner. Set a quick celebratory table and you are all set! This simple table setting works for New Year's Eve or any other special occasion using supplies you can find around your home! Easy and festive! Check out Lyn's video and be inspired to open your home. Happy New Year!Read More
It was such a joy to have Anne-Marie Clegg with us at the Heartistry Experience in France in May 2014. Anne-Marie was deeply impacted and shares her thoughts with us. Lyn Johnson’s hospitality seminar re-introduces the lost art of being welcoming. Thanks to social media, we are able to establish exponentially more connections than our parent’s generation, but do we know how to create connectedness? I went to France to dig deeper into this topic, aware I had at times missed opportunities to build deeper community. Plus I love the Mediterranean, so why not make a vacation of it… a vacation with a purpose.Read More
Did anyone learn anything in France at the Heartistry Experience? We all had so much fun, saw new and lovely sights, ate delicious meals, made life-long friends and much, much more. But how easy will it be for us to go home and practice what we learned? A teacher's greatest joy is to see the enthusiastic outworking of the concepts, ideas and tips that have just been taught. I have been so delighted to see how those who have attended the Heartistry Experience have gone home and immediately begun to offer hospitality in many different forms. They have opened their hearts and homes to others and have thought of many little acts of generosity that have touched lives.
Our June Heartistry Experience attendees arrived home and many of them received wonderful hospitality from their families. The word had obviously got out and everyone was ready to welcome home the traveler. Tables had been set with love and creativity. One mom arrived home to see all the lunch preparation items set out with cute notes and illustrations alongside them. What fun!
Michelle attended the Heartistry Experience in France. After arriving home many of her friends asked her about the time in France. Michelle decided to host a special brunch. After treating her friends to a beautifully set table, a personal gift and affirmation for each friend and delicious food, Michelle shared some of what she had learned. She used the cards she had received as prompts to remind her of the most important points. A number of her friends told her that they would be implementing some of the ideas in their own homes!
During our time in France I noticed that some of the attendees were squirreling away their napkins/serviettes (clean ones of course!) At the end of the week, I offered the left over napkins for people to take home with them. Annie used hers to accent a special French dinner that she served to her family when she returned and the Eiffel Tower serviettes added the finishing touch.
The little lights were one of the gifts given during the week and these are being well used as part of many tables that have been set since people returned home.
I love to see the creativity that has been shown as our Heartistry alumni are opening their homes and sharing hospitality with family and friends. Danica, who came to France as my intern (she was fantastic!) hosted a tea for Canada Day. The flag added to the flower arrangement gives such a fun and patriotic touch, doesn't it?
Lydia who attended the most recent Heartistry Experience knew that my husband Brett was going to be returning to our condo in Cape Town without me. She made a tray laden with all sorts of food items, flowers and a welcome card and delivered it to our home. Brett was not there at the time, so she left it in our braai (BBQ). What a lovely surprise for Brett to find when he arrived home.
I smiled when Juliana shared that she and Michelle, who also attended the Heartistry Experience, were going to be going camping in style! I think my love of serviettes/napkins had rubbed off on them and they had purchased some colorful papergoods. I am sure these stuck out against the backdrop of the neutral shades of the African bush! But no doubt everyone had fun!
Two of our 2015 Heartistry Experience alumni came home and started a ministry to seniors in the community. They meet weekly and then put on special events each quarter. I was privileged to attend their High Tea and it was spectacular. Everyone loved the beautifully set tables and delicious food. Well done Cornelia and Liezl!
Join us in France at the next Heartistry Experience. It will have such an impact on your life.
Check out all the details here.
It is a well known fact that what the Americans refer to as the "holidays" can be a stress- producing time for many people. These simple tips will help us make some small changes that will lead to a more joyful Thanksgiving.
- Begin with the end in mind- what would you like the time together to accomplish? Make choices, even if they are tough, based on what will be constructive for your family.
- Plan ahead - use our Heartistry Motto- the More Before the Less the Stress!
- Choose some menu items that are traditional and add some new healthy dishes. Check out the amazing recipes in our Heartistry Alumni, Leigh Anne's new Holiday Slow Cooker Recipe Book.
- Shop for non-perishable items well in advance of the crowded stores and buy some extra food to donate to a needy family.
- Ask for help by inviting guests to bring a dish. Be specific as to what they should bring.
- If cooking is stressful for you, purchase some pre-cooked food and just prepare a couple of items. Make sure to serve the food in your own dishes and not in the aluminum foil pans! Garnish with some fresh herbs and no-one will suspect that you haven't been cooking all day.
- Divide up the kitchen responsibilities so that all the work doesn't fall on one person (you) and discuss the details of what needs to be done well in advance.
- Give each family member a dish to prepare and have the recipe and ingredients ready in a bag. Each of our children has prepared a specific dish every year for Thanksgiving and feels a sense of ownership for "their" part of the meal.
- Ask older members of the family if they would prefer to relax or whether they would like to be part of the preparations. Don't exclude them especially if cooking family meals was something they loved doing for many years.
- Substitute fruit and vegetables as table decor instead of flowers as they can be eaten later.
- Set the table the day before so there is one less thing to do on the actual day. (I enjoyed this blog about the value of a beautifully set table- Thanksgiving Dinner: Why we decided not to skip it.)
- If serving a big group, use fancy paper plates to make the clean up easier.
- Plan an activity that will focus on the meaning of the holiday such as going around the table and having each person say what they are thankful for. I have kept an album for the last 28 years and have had everybody write one thing for which they are grateful. It is fun to look back and see what the children wrote when they were young.
- Ask guests to share their favorite background music song and make a playlist of the various songs. Have people identify their song when it is playing and share why they like it.
- Invite a foreign student to join your family. They will so appreciate being in an American home for this special holiday and it will add a richness to your gathering. Very few foreign students ever go inside an American home so let's change this! Your children will learn so much from having International guests too. Check out my blog 10 Things Children Learn at the Dinner Table.
Relax and enjoy your time together with family, friends and strangers. Please share photos of your table with us. We'd love to see how you expressed your love for your family and your creativity!
Fall is a great time of year to gather family and friends around your table. I would like to encourage you to host a supper in October. Do you want your event to be Simple, Special or Spectacular? This will depend on your experience, the time you have allotted to prep for the meal and what the occasion is. Read on for instructions on how to prepare a delicious meal and a fall themed table that fits your needs perfectly!Read More