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
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
I grew up near the sea and now after 30 years have returned to South Africa for a season and am once more going to sleep at night to the sound of waves. A nautical theme is one that I plan to use often as I set a table with the beach in the background. I have collected some nautical napkins to be prepared!
Recently I visited my parents at their lake cottage in Connecticut, USA. I quietly unpacked my nautical napkins and scarf from my carry-on luggage and set a surprise tray for them (crazy to carry items like this I know, but it was fun!)
Later I picked some wild flowers from the garden and added an old navigation lamp that my dad had used on one of his sailing boats for a simple lunch table. I treasure every moment that I can spend with my parents and am so thankful that I can visit them on a regular basis even though I live far away from them. I took this photo of us holding hands as my mom said grace before our meal and prayed for the family spread around the world.
P.S. The exquisite wooden sculling canoe was built by my dad. Isn't it so beautiful?
I love using a theme to set a table. It makes it so much quicker and simpler. Read my blog on How to Use a Theme to Set a Table and 10 Tips on Choosing a Theme for Setting a Table for more helpful tips.
One of our Heartistry readers and a dear friend, Diana Candee, sent me a couple of photos. A friend of Diana's was visiting her from out of town and they were planning to have a tea together with local friends. As they shopped for items for the table, they spontaneously decided to match what the guest of honor was wearing and went for a blue and white theme. And they ended up with a pretty nautical table setting! Just in time for me to add them to my blog! Thanks Diana!
I would love to see photos of your table settings, so please share them with me!
If you haven't signed up to receive my newsletters, please do so and then you won't miss any future blogposts. And please SHARE our Heartistry site with your friends. You can click the SHARE button below to forward this blog with others. Easy sailing!
After 30 years of living in California, my husband and I moved back to Cape Town for a more extended visit than our usual two to three week stays. Packing up our apartment, saying our goodbyes and traveling half way across the globe was both physically and emotionally tiring.
What a difference it made to receive such a warm welcome when we arrived in Cape Town!
If you have guests coming to stay at your home, check out our blog, 10 Simple Ways to Make Staying Guests Feel at Home.
When you are welcoming someone who is making a big move such as coming to study in your town, or relocating from another country, there are simple ways in which you can help make this large transition easier for your friend (or a stranger that you wish to help).
Here are some of my thoughts. Please add yours in the comments below. I would love to hear how you have received welcome from others or what you have done to make others feel at home when they have been visiting you.
Anticipate their arrival and ask if there is anything you can do in advance of their arrival such as arranging a crib/cot for a baby.
If they are initially staying at your home, place a small card and welcome gift on their bed. Even a chocolate on the pillow will say, "You were expected" and preparation was made for your arrival.
If possible, meet people at the airport even if they are renting a car. It is very comforting to see familiar faces in the crowd when you arrive at a new place. This is especially helpful when coming to a new country for the first time.
Stock some basic groceries in their fridge if you have the ability to get into their home, or bring some in a cooler to give to them. Heading to the grocery store after a long journey is not that easy and can be very confusing if you are a foreigner. I remember having a splitting headache after my first grocery shopping trip in the USA. How could there be so many different types of peanut butter?!
Draw a small amount of cash and give it to them in an envelope if they are coming from another country. This can help if they need to get a quick cup of coffee or pay for parking.
Bring a cooked meal that they can warm quickly. Only stay and eat with them if they press you to do so. They may need some peace and quiet and an early night. (My friend Kerry brought a home cooked chicken pie and salad for supper when we arrived in Cape Town. It was delicious and later other friends stopped by with meals for us.
Share some basic information on the immediate neighborhood with advice on good places to shop and eat.
Flowers brighten a room and make a house feel like home. Add a card or note with a personal and affirming message to make the gift even more meaningful.
Check in with them a few days after they have arrived to say if they need anything else. It can take a few days for people to catch their breath and then start to feel a little homesick or disoriented.
A little something extra:
My husband rented a condo in Cape Town for us to stay in for 6 months, sight unseen. He found it on the internet and after a friend checked it out, we made a plan to rent it. I didn't even know what was going to be in the cupboards etc. When we arrived in Cape Town, it was quite an adventure to walk in to the condo in person!
The first thing that struck us was the amazing view from our window!
And then I noticed that the only chintz plate (a type of china that I collect) on the wall matched the only piece of chintz I own that is in South Africa- a teapot I bought at an antique store! The painting on the wall done by the landlady matched a table cloth that I painted to use while in South Africa and the beaded flowers matched two that I own! The cushions matched my little protea themed bowls. It makes me think that this is exactly the place that we are meant to be living in during this season! What do you think? (Check out the photos!)
Many people around the world are traveling and moving to new places. Some are making these journeys by choice and others are being forced to move due to dire circumstances. As we all learn to practice generous living and true hospitality (the goal of Heartistry is to encourage this!), let us look out for opportunities to provide a warm welcome to those that need it most.
And you never know when you will be a recipient, just the way that I currently am!
Please sign up to receive our newsletters so that you will be kept in the loop and receive notifications when I post a new blog. Thanks.
You can SHARE this post by clicking the Share button below. I would love to hear how you have either experienced welcome yourself or been able to welcome others in the COMMENTS below.
Decorating a table can be such fun and yet many people feel overwhelmed and don't know where to start. Using a theme is a great way to make setting a beautiful table simpler and more affordable. By having some special items on hand that all match and work well together, it takes away the guesswork and saves time.
I love to use different themes and have quite a few (some would say many!) collections that I use for my table settings. In the video I share how to use a bird theme to set a beautiful tray or table.
How to Begin:
- Start with basic white crockery and a white table cloth.
- Over time add a few items that fit your theme.
- Theses items can be clustered on the middle of the table, displayed on a buffet table or added to a tray to make a very special treat for someone.
- Having a theme takes the guesswork out of setting a table and saves time.
- The items on the table coordinate with each other and make a fun and creative setting.
For more ideas and inspiration, check out the blogpost:
Please SHARE this blogpost with your friends and encourage them to sign up to receive our newsletters.
I ask myself how I can post photos of pretty table settings when there is so much tragedy, sadness and conflict in the world today.
Am I being trivial and insensitive to blog about people gathering around the table during such a dark time?
The USA is struggling with deep racial tension and the tragic deaths that have resulted from it. South Africans are approaching local elections and are disturbed by the lack of honest and ethical leadership in the country. Other nations reel with terrorist attacks and more.
And I encourage people to practice hospitality.
I have a passion to help us all live generous, hospitable, welcoming lives
I believe that truly getting to know people builds bridges of understanding and trust
I know that gathering around the table is one of the best ways to connect deeply with others
I understand that we are all naturally self-focussed and it is hard to move out of our safe places
I have experienced that motivation can come through the carrot or stick; through desire or guilt
I hope to use beauty and creativity to cast a vision and inspire us to invite others into our lives
I want to equip us with the skills to host others, so we can open our hearts and homes
I believe that we each need to use what we have in our hands to make a difference in the world.
When we are overwhelmed by big problems, we can begin by seeing what ONE thing we can do.
Each one of us can reach out and invite a "stranger" or "foreigner" or someone who is different to our "table". That may mean asking a work colleague we don't know well to have coffee with us in the cafeteria, a neighbor to join us for a simple supper or inviting a foreigner in our community to share a meal with our family.
We have to reach out and take the risk of connecting with those outside our friend circle. Major issues like racial inequality and hatred are not solved by policies. There needs to be a change in all our hearts. We need to learn to love. And the table is one of the best places to start.
Set a table today. Invite someone to join you. Start the conversation. Listen well. Share your heart. Repeat.
Thank you for reading my thoughts and hearing my heart. Lyn
Please share your comments below. I would love to know what you have experienced around the table as you have opened your life to others.
My fabulous friends surprised me with a Downton Abbey Tea Party for my 60th Birthday. They were all there and waiting patiently for my arrival.
I was totally surprised (shocked even) as the party was a few months after my actual birthday.
People came dressed in costume (as close as they could!) We were seated at beautifully decorated tables.
My friends even made a special blend of tea with my name on it! And a photo of me in profile (glad they removed the double chin!) And used my Bless not Impress tagline as part of the decoration!
One of the most special parts of my birthday was receiving so many warm and meaningful affirmations (my husband even had tears in his eyes when he shared!)
I also received a beautiful runner hand painted by Ruth Korch. She knows how much I love birds and the runner had significant words and phrases around the edge. A personal gift like this is priceless!
When a group of friends come together and use their creative skills, their love and thoughtfulness it truly makes for a very special event. I am so grateful for each person who made this celebration of my milestone birthday so very special.
I hope that these photos are an inspiration for you!
Please share your thoughts about your favorite birthday celebration in the comments below. Share the blogpost with your friends and sign up to receive our newsletters so you can stay in the loop!
Around the world horrific things are happening and so many people are suffering. Our social media is filled with images and outcries, with opinions, questions and shows of solidarity.
Right now countless people are being asked to offer radical welcome and hospitality to those in desperate need. Many are having their former lifestyles altered in countless uncomfortable and unsettling ways.
It is easy for us to skim the news and leave others to deal with the tragedies and problems, as they are not our current issues. But what if they were? How ready am I to majorly inconvenience my life to help someone in desperate need? If I scored myself on a generosity scale, how would I do?
Since launching Heartistry in February I have tried to encourage generous living and true hospitality. I firmly believe that these are spiritual practices and help to move us from selfishness to service, from isolation to involvement, from comfort to community. I have sought to inspire us to action and practically instruct us on how to do it.
I encouraged you to “Just Add One”, knowing that as we just add one person to the table we will open our hearts a little and grow in generosity. I invited you to “Set the Table in September”, convinced that as we created a prepared place we would experience the joy of offering welcome. You were asked to "Try a Tray" as you set a simple tray to bless someone and challenged to invite people for a Fall Dinner. All these activities were just small ways to reach out in generosity and serve our family, friends and others in the community. At Heartistry, we will continue to learn together and be challenged to grow in the areas of generosity and hospitality.
The world needs people who will step out in radical generosity. This is not easy and challenges us to the core of who we are.
What prevents us from reaching out?
- Are our lives too busy for authentic, relational involvement and loving care?
- Does the sorrow of the broken world in which we live loom so large that it paralyses us, preventing us from even doing something small?
- Are we trying to protect our families and ourselves and thus have no time, energy or compassion for those outside the walls?
Many of us do want to help but may not know how. In this post I decided to address the sensitive issue of our penchant towards being self-focused and later will give suggestions of positive and practical ways we can help.
Here are 10 ways in which we can tame or at least tie up the self-centered parts of ourselves as we seek to grow in generosity!
- Deny ourselves something we want for a day or week or even for a month so that we can feel some of the loss others face daily
- Stretch ourselves to try something new and uncomfortable that will grow our capacity to serve others
- Feel the sorrow of the suffering and not rush to switch the channel or change the subject. Spend time in prayer for those in need
- Reduce the time and money we spend on entertainment to give margin to care for someone else
- Give away something new and attractive not just the old and worn out items we own
- Exercise our “generosity muscle” by intentionally giving beyond what we would normally give
- Document how we would want to be treated and helped if we were in someone else's position. Take one action step towards making that a reality
- Support someone who is able to do more than we can do because they are in the right geographical proximity or have the required skills
- Read about people who are radically generous as this will inspire us to step out and do the same
- Start small rather than waiting until we can work out the big plan we have in mind
Sign up to receive notifications of future blogposts. We will be providing encouraging and inspiring information to help us grow in generosity and hospitality.
I planned my own 40th birthday. (And my generous and sneaky husband planned one for me too.) I had decided it would be fun to be in the snow for my birthday so we travelled to Whistler, Canada and spent a long weekend with 3 couples who were some of our closest friends. We played in the snow during the day and then each couple cooked one of the evening meals, and I enjoyed eating them. Isn’t that what the birthday girl is meant to do?
On our last morning together we were having a time of deep conversation and prayer (It is the best gift in the world to have people who know you really well pray blessings over your next year and decade.) During that time I had a mental picture come to mind that described friendship. (I love to use imagery to teach truth, so I built out this picture in my mind and it has been very helpful to me as I have thought about true friendship.)
It was of a very large tapestry covered with beautiful stitches made with a golden thread. The tapestry was still in progress and there were many threads hanging down on both sides of the tapestry. Each thread was still attached to a needle. The only way the golden threads could be stitched to make the exquisite design was for someone standing on the one side of the very large tapestry to push the needle through to the person standing on the other side of the tapestry. That person would then need to pass the needle back through the fabric again to continue the stitching.
In my mind’s eye, I saw needles that were hanging down on my side of the tapestry. A friend had pushed the needle through to me, and I had been too busy, distracted or disinterested to take the time to “pass the needle” back to my friend.
At times I had reached out in friendship to others, and they in turn had not put the effort into “passing the needle” back to me. This had left me hurt and disappointed.
But I could also see many beautiful, intricate patterns that had been stitched through years and years of passing the needle back and forth, back and forth, with friendships that had stood the test of time.
These threads gave the beauty and value to this precious Fabric of Friendship.
- True friendship requires intentional effort, faithful commitment and thoughtful acts that put the other person first.
- True friendship takes time and can involve the investment of finances.
- Personal space and privacy are laid down as one opens the heart to shared experiences and community.
At the same time true friendship carries with it great reward that is enjoyed by those who have built the friendship and spills over into blessing for the next generation too.
I am so grateful for those who have stood with me over many years, committed to stitching the fabric of friendship with precious, golden threads.
Questions for personal reflection:
- When did you “drop the needle” and allow a friendship to lie dormant for some reason?
- What can you do to “pick up the thread” again?
- Are there painful situations where you “passed the needle” through and your overtures of friendship were ignored or rejected?
- Are there people you need to forgive and release so that you can move on?
- Which friendships are “golden thread” friendships where you and your friend have spent years creating something very beautiful? Take some time to thank them for the richness they have added to your life.
- Pick up your “thread” and pass it back with a gesture of gratitude and generosity!
Please share this post with your friends. Thanks!
I love Cape Town and struggled to pick 10 things, so let's say this is just the start! In no particular order:
1. Cape Town, my home town, the Mother City
2. Our national flower, the Protea that grew in our garden!
3. Lemon Merengue pie, made the South African way!
4. Llandudno, the seaside village where Brett and I grew up
5. Guinea fowl, birds with attitude (love the polka dots)
6. The Biscuit Mill/Neighborgoods Market, my favorite market
7. Beautiful arts and crafts that are sold by talented artisans
8. Walking down memory lane- I used to sit in a desk like this!
9. Onion jam from Woolworths, or Woolies as it is called.
10. The Cape Town harbor; we used to sail here
And of course spending time with our precious family and friends.
These fun little eggs are so easy to make and can be part of your table decor too.
3 tablespoons butter
1 package (10 oz., about 40) Marshmallows or 4 cups Miniature Marshmallows
6 cups of bran sticks cereal
In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. (You can also microwave the butter and the marshmallows, stirring evry two minutes until melted.)
Add the bran sticks cereal. Stir until well coated.
Place small amounts of mixture into cupcake paper cups and press down the center with a buttered spoon or ice-cream scoop.
Decorate each nest with a few chocolate eggs.
These are best if served the same day, but since Easter morning is so busy, make them the day before- they'll be fine!
Go ahead and have some fun! Please share this blog with your friends!