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.
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
My mom passed away on July 28, 2017, having lost the battle to ovarian cancer. My twin sister Michelle and I had the privilege of nursing her and were with her when she took her last breath. It has been a busy, sad but very precious season.
I have shared about her memorial service here as a way to communicate with family, friends and any in our Heartistry community who may be interested.
Serving someone a cup of tea can be much more than just offering them a beverage. Stopping to enjoy a cup of tea with a friend, colleague, neighbor or stranger gives an opportunity to connect and share a little about the day and is an easy way to begin offering hospitality. It also provides a few moments to rest and catch one's breath. As someone so aptly said,
Today I'd like to sit and sip,
Forget about the world a bit,
Ignore the things I have to do,
And just enjoy a cup or two.
Life can be so busy and pressured that we scarcely take the time to stop and greet others around us, net alone truly connecting. We need to be committed to building authentic friendships. Let's start now by sharing a cup of tea with someone. And let's encourage others to do the same.
Join our Heartistry community in our two-week TEA FOR TWO CAMPAIGN (August 16-30) as we share a cup of tea with someone! And you don't need to only do it once!
- Gather your 'tea making supplies"- two simple cups, a few tea bags, sugar and milk (if serving tea English style!) If you feel inspired you can even set a simple tray.
- Make a list of those you know who would enjoy sharing a cup of tea- and plan to be spontaneous!
- Invite a friend to have a cup of tea with you in your home or at your desk at work.
- Plan to take your cups and tea items to someone's home- "tea in a basket" can be a big blessing to an elderly or ill person. (Kim de Carvalho delivered this lovely tray to my mom when she was not well.)
- Photograph your two cups of tea (and the two of you if you are happy to be on Heartistry!)
- Post the photo on our Heartistry site or email it to Lyn@heartistry.info.
- You're welcome to share your inspiring "tea stories" with us!
- Post photos to your Instagram and Facebook and tag #heartistry.info
- Encourage your friends to serve tea and participate with us.
- Everyone who shares a cup of tea and sends a photo of their two cups will be entered in a drawing!
- Two names will be drawn on September 1.
- The winners will receive a basket filled with tea goodies!
Read the inspiring story of a woman who packed Two Tea Cups and took them with her as she traveled. She made the effort to spend quality time with people over a simple cup of tea.
Let's make a difference in the next two weeks by inviting as many people as possible to stop for just a few minutes to have a simple cup of tea with us. You never know what may happen!
American Independence Day is a great time to gather with family and friends for a celebration. July 4 is a perfect time to offer hospitality to your family, friends, neighbors and even those people you don't yet know.Read More
When you hear the word hospitality, what do you think of? The hotel industry? A fancy meal requiring a lot of work? Women folding napkins? Hospitality is so much more than this. We need a new word to capture the power and potency of this impactful practice. Or we need to have an understanding that hospitality goes way beyond just a meal. True hospitality is Generous Living.Read More
Last October my father passed away after two weeks in the hospital. For my 86-year old mom, my sister and I, those were the longest two weeks of our lives. We slept in our clothes, drove a distance to the hospital each day and made countless excruciatingly hard decisions as we waited to see if my dad would regain consciousness after his stroke.
Each person copes with stress and grief differently, but the ways that family and friends supported us during this very tough season helped us tremendously. I have learned a lot through being the recipient of so much kindness which I hope to implement when friends are going through similar trials. Maybe what helped us, will give some guidance as you care for others.Read More
Take a few minutes and set a simple tray. Deliver it to family or friends and see the joy it brings!
First gather your supplies. You'll need:
- a simple tray (or a cutting board)
- a cup or mug
- tea pot if you have one
- a little vase or empty bottle,
- a single bloom and some greens (I used some herbs)
- a small dessert, either bought or homemade
- a note card or piece of paper to write your affirmation.
Use a napkin to line the tray. For more inspiration read 10 Uses for Napkins other than Wiping your Mouth.
Arrange your flower and greenery in a little vase ( I used an empty spice bottle) and add it to your tray. (I don't have a garden, so I picked some herbs from the pots I have at my kitchen door.)
Put your dessert on a plate, or in a cupcake holder. I turned my inside out so that the design showed. You don't need to spend much time on the dessert as the main emphasis should be on the loving words in the card.
Take some time to write an affirmation for your loved one. Short on words? Check out 10 Tips for Writing a Meaningful Affirmation. If you have time you can paint or draw a simple heart on some card stock paper to make the note even more personalized.
If you are inspired to do more than a tray and want to prepare a dinner, check out Easy Valentine's Day Dinner which has all the details including an instructional video.
It is always a joy to hear from one of our Heartistry readers and friends. Diana Candee sent her reflections to us and shares, "I didn’t know that my efforts to be hospitable would circle back to bless me so hugely, but they have." Read how hospitality is impacting Diana's life during a very challenging season.Read More
Sometimes doing something small and loving is just what we need.
These days I dread looking at my Facebook feed. I am trying to cope with my own life and the personal and family issues at hand that can weigh me down. I hardly know how to deal with all the sorrow, tension, distress and division that fill my social media streams.
I don’t want to withdraw and close my heart to the needs all around me. What can I do to make a difference? How can I use what I have in my hand?
I practice and teach on hospitality. How could generous living and hospitality make a difference?
Many people are voicing the problems around us. I do believe that building awareness of needs is important and as we do small and loving actions, we make an even greater impact.
Some of my thoughts:
- Plan small intentional acts of love~ they're more likely to happen than if they're random!
- Everyone carries a load~ come alongside others and help carry the burden, even for a short while.
- Words have power~ say or write something kind to someone today. (Read 10 Tips to Write a Meaningful Affirmation)
- Build committed long term friendships~ pass the “string” of regular loving interactions back and forth until you build a strong cord. You may need it one day to cross a deep ravine. (Read The Fabric of Friendship)
- Don’t try and cope alone~ we all need community to strengthen us so we can each do our own part. Especially during times of difficulty. Gather don't hide.
- Think of communities as wheels. Every wheel needs a hub. Be the person that puts in the effort to bring others together. It is not always fun to be the one calling, inviting, planning, cooking, paying etc., but it is a key role.
- Don’t pass on “problems that need to be solved” in a broad and generic way. Share personal causes and invite support; pass on other relevant information in a targeted way. Give specific action steps.
- Understand the way you engage~ if a “sprinter” then focus on an immediate task requiring intense effort in the short term; if a “marathon runner” then chose a big societal challenge and plan to be involved in a steady way for years to come.
Many people are scared and confused right now. When alone, these fears are worse. Spend time with others. Invite people over and practice hospitality. Sign up to receive the Heartistry newsletters to get inspiration and instructions on how to open your heart and home.
Light always dispels darkness. Share truth. Hold onto hope. Love well. Pray often.
Read 17 Ways to Live Generously in 2017 for more inspiration.
Please share your thoughts in the comments section below. Please pass on this blog to friends by clicking the SHARE button. (Another way to do a small and loving act!)
My twin sister and I hosted a garden party for our mom's 85th birthday. My mom and her friends just loved it and we had so much fun preparing for it. I am sharing this so you can use it as a template to host a garden party yourself! We split the tasks according to what we do best. I planned, shopped and set the table and my sister baked and did the flower arrangements. (Which jobs would you prefer?!) Now to share my best tips!Read More
New Year's can be the time for making fresh resolutions and plans. Living generously with an open heart will have a personal impact as well as making positive changes around us. Here are a few suggestions that we can put into practice. Please add your ideas in the comments below.
Document our personal goal to grow in generosity and share it with someone close to us
Write a note of encouragement for a family member or co-worker
Pack/buy an extra lunch item and share it with someone
Pay for a stranger’s coffee or dry cleaning
Give an anonymous donation of any size and commit to never sharing about it
Plan to host a meal for friends at our home once a month in 2017
Buy a pack of greeting cards and commit to using them all in a month
Deny ourselves something we want for a period of time 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
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
Hospitality is such a powerful practice. It impacts us, the lives of our families and those around us. Yet very few people practice hospitality.
Why is that? I have observed these in myself at times, as well as in others. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please add to my list in the comments section below.
- I am too busy
- My cooking skills are not good enough
- I don’t like to cook
- My home is not suitable for guests
- I don’t have margin in my budget
- I have never done it before so am nervous
- My privacy is very important to me
- My family doesn’t want to host people
- There is hidden dysfunction in our family
- I don’t have a vision for the impact hospitality can have
Why am I just stating the problem?
I have endeavored to offer as many resources as I can to increase people's vision and equip them with the skills necessary on the rest of the Heartistry.info site. So please spend some time checking out the rest of the blog. It may well inspire you to reach out more to others around you!
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!
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Last night we had our first staying guest at our new rental in Cape Town. Our friend Sylvia has been part of our Repurposing Business (rep) programs in Cape Town and also attended my first Heartistry Experience in South Africa, so Brett and I both know her well. It was a joy to have her in our home.
Check out our Heartistry blog Simple Tips to Make Staying Guests Feel Welcome for some practical ideas. I am in a furnished condo, so am making use of what I can find to make my guest feel as comfortable as possible.
Setting a small tray next to the bed and adding a note of welcome is so easy to do and helps the guest know that thought was put into preparing a place for them.
Sylvia is the owner of Special Events and Trouvrou and she is highly sought after to set elaborate tables for very fancy events. I know I can't compete with what she does, but I still wanted to make my table look attractive as I know she loves pretty things. Since the view from our windows is of the ocean, I chose a beach scene. These lovely serviettes (that is what they are called in South Africa) actually say Cape of Good Hope on them and have a map of Africa, so they are just perfect. I added a mini tea-light candle and a beautiful shell at each place setting. A simple napkin/serviette can be used so effectively when offering hospitality. Check out 10 Uses for Napkins other than Wiping your Mouth!
Sylvia arrived with a gift for me that proved she really knows me and loves me! I am SO excited by the beautiful cake stand in my color and the serviettes that came in an exquisite bag! The bag even matched the guest room!
A cake stand is one of the most useful items when one wants to make an ordinary meal or event more of a celebration. I gathered some of my best ideas to share in the blog, How to Decorate with a Cake Stand.
This morning we enjoyed a typical South African breakfast and then said goodbye to our guest. Spending time together is such a precious gift and I am so thankful that I am able to have guests in my home. After a quick clean-up, I went for a morning walk on the beach and expressed my gratitude for all my blessings.
The goal of Heartistry is to encourage generous living and true hospitality. Please share the blog with friends and sign up to receive our newsletters so that you receive notifications of new blogposts. Thanks so much!
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!
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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.
Do you want to learn how to set a beautiful table? Want it to be quick and easy to do?
Using a theme for your table setting can both simplify it and make it look more attractive and coordinated. Check out this video on using a theme to set a table and this blogpost for more information.
You can use these helpful tips to get going:
1. Walk around your home and look for items that match e.g. Do you have a vase with roses painted on it and a small painting of roses? These could be grouped together for a pretty setting. I love cherries and have had fun setting a table using fresh (or artificial cherries) and beautiful cherry napkins/serviettes and more related items.
2. Do you have a hobby or special interest? Use some of these items to decorate your table. My husband Brett Johnson has written a book called Lemon Leadership. Consequently we have lots of lemon items!
3. Is there one color that you love and use a lot in your home? A friend has a home at the beach and decorates a lot with blue and white, so this would be a good place to start.
4. Are you about to celebrate a holiday? Begin by choosing a few items for Thanksgiving, Christmas, July 4th or Valentine's Day.
5. Begin with a seasonable table and add some items for fall or spring. Fall items work well for Thanksgiving too (if you live in the USA).
6. Do you have a special or heirloom tablecloth? Use that as your base and add a few items that would tie in well. The protea is the national flower of South Africa. I painted this cloth to use for the first Heartistry Experience in South Africa.
7. Beautiful napkins and serviettes can serve as inspiration. Build your theme from there. Check out the blog on 10 Uses for Napkins.
8. Is there a theme for your party? Build your table around the theme such as travel items for a Bon Voyage party. We celebrated my mom's 85th birthday with a Garden Party which my twin sister and I hosted in her garden. We used a flower theme and had adorable mini hat cakes as one of the desserts.
9. Is there a "message" you are trying to share? I used globes and napkins with a world map on them when we had a dinner focussed on the impact guests could have on the world through their lives and businesses.
10. If all of the above suggestions seem too much, just start with a few white items. They can be used for any occasion and will be a great base for your table setting adventures!
There are many other articles and videos that will give you further inspiration and instruction, so check out our blog and Youtube channel.
Please SHARE this blogpost with your friends. I love to hear your comments, so please share what themes you use for your table settings in the comments section below.
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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:
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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 re-post from last year, I address the sensitive issue of our penchant towards being self-focused. I also have suggestions in the blog on ways in which we can offer hospitality as a positive and practical way to help such as Why Set a Table When the World is Hurting
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
Please sign up to receive notifications of future blogposts. We will be providing encouraging and inspiring information to help us grow in generosity and hospitality.