As we begin our new book study, Emilie Barnes's "Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home", let me give you an overall view of what we shall be reading.
A beautiful home is not actually a dwelling full of expensive decor. As you read through the chapters you will discover that from Emilie's perspective a home gathers a garment of beauty from the atmosphere we homemakers create within our walls, from our use of simple adornments, how we cultivate a sense of 'welcome' for all who cross our threshold, and from the attitude of our very own hearts.
A home can, of course, be magazine beautiful, yet empty of a loving and nurturing atmosphere, so this book aims to lead us through various ways we can add beauty to our dwelling place through the work of our hands, using what we already have, getting our hearts right with God, and choosing to love the home we have - no matter the size, condition, or location.
The book is broken up into nine chapters, so hopefully I can prepare a chapter study twice a month until we finish the book. I'll type in italics when I'm sharing stories from the book. The rest will be my own thoughts.
So let us now begin with chapter one...
Emilie was a 17yo child bride when her husband carried her over the threshold of their first apartment, just three tiny rooms. They used their initiative to create a home which was not just lovely to look at, but was a comfortable and inviting place for themselves and visitors, using what they had on hand, such as a box for a lamp table and an old trunk for a coffee table. She sewed curtains for the windows and made over an old wrought iron outdoor table with white paint to serve as a dining table.
When I read this my mind was immediately transported back to Nana and Pop's three room ground-floor flat (apartment). When I pondered those memories and walked through each room in my mind, I suddenly realised how much creativity it took for Nana to make a home in such a tiny space, a home which they eventually shared with a toddler (me). Every bit of space was needed, without making our home look or feel cluttered, and she did an amazing job of filling those rooms with beauty, cleanliness (everything sparkled) and a wordless welcome for myself, Pop and any visitors.
She wrote after one move, later in her life, "We're finding that we love our new home as much as we have loved our previous homes...we are homemaking - literally making a home. We are working to create a lifestyle that says "welcome" to ourselves and everyone around us."
Emilie believed that we all need a spiritual centre and a place to belong, and that very much inspired her to make her home a place of sanctuary, but she also said, "Home is as much a state of the heart and spirit as it is a specific place."
Something which resonated with me early in this chapter was reading that Emilie and her husband moved many times in their marriage, just as my husband and I have. She carried a love for making a house a home with her into each new dwelling, be it great or small.
I remember during our homeschool years, reading from one of Sally Clarkson's books, where she said that if we want our children to love being home that we need to create an atmosphere within our homes to nurture that love in their hearts. I expanded on that in my thinking because it's not just the children we want to love being home, it's our husbands too.
Our family have moved 22 times, from one side of Australia to the other, and right up the centre. With every move my first intention was to create a comfortable, functional, beautiful and welcoming space for every family member. Being conscious that our stay may only be six months, or perhaps a year or two, it was essential that the children felt relaxed with familiar items around them, a continuation of their favourite meals, delicious morning and afternoon teas where they curled up on the couch in rapt attention while I read aloud epic stories of adventure and courage. We really took 'home' wherever we went.
Emilie reminds us that a welcoming home is where real life happens, not a hole where you disappear to eat and sleep. We nurture personalities there, our own included. The caring, nurturing quality of home (not the absence of noise or strife) is what makes a home a refuge.
Using our senses to create a refuge at the end of the day is a wonderful welcome for those just arriving home. Here are a few of Emilie's suggestions -
* soft lights such as candles, lamps or an open fire
* soothing music
* something delicious baking in the oven or simmering on the stove
* a tidy entrance area
* burning essential oils in the oil burner
* adding flowers to a vase on the table (even just a few sprigs from your own garden) or some fresh herbs displayed in small glass
And don't forget about yourself - what stirs thoughts of sanctuary, beauty and contentment in your own mind?
Many people live alone and the art of curating a welcoming home is just as important for them as for a couple, or a family. Just because there's only one or two of you in the dwelling, this should not stop you from taking time to fill your personal space with things that speak beauty, and are unique to your personal preference.
For me it's creating in the kitchen (aromas), tending the garden and bringing in produce to fill a bowl on the kitchen bench, relaxing with handwork such as embroidery or crochet to eventually display around the home, sitting out under the beautiful Poinciana tree with a book and a cool drink because we planted that tree for just this purpose, cutting my roses to fill vases for the living room and my desk, rearranging furniture and changing the cushion covers seasonally for a fresh look, just resting with a large cup of tea and music as the afternoon winds down, and adding lemon myrtle to the oil burner just before my husband arrives home from work.
A welcoming home is where real life happens. It's where personalities are nurtured, where growth is stimulated, where people feel free not only to be themselves but also to develop their best selves.
As this chapter progresses Emilie writes on the importance of organisation.
A welcoming home is organised around the purpose of making life easier and more meaningful.
Just as God is a God of order and not chaos, we automatically feel more comfortable and more welcome when we sense His kind of order in our lives.
Organisation, even if your home is now in chaos, doesn't have to happen all at once. As we open our hearts and attitudes to God, putting Him first in our lives and looking to Him for guidance, He will show us little ways to organise the chaos and lead a more peaceful, ordered existence.
Most important, a welcoming home is a place of blessing - a place where you are made aware of God's blessing and through which you pass on His blessings to others.
Have you ever walked through the rooms of your home and prayed a blessing over each one? This is something we did with every one of our 22 house moves. However, now that we have bought a home, and God willing, will see our days out here, I forget to walk through and pray those blessings every so often. This will be done today, and I shall leave a reminder in my diary to do this every season, for a home blessing is a very precious thing.
When we gather to pray over a dwelling, or whether we pray alone, it is a wonderful time to remember the whole point of 'home'.
For home is not merely a structure of wood, brick and metal. Home is what grows within its walls, nurtured by the hearts and souls of those who live within.
Emilie closes this first chapter with a long list of 'simple secrets' to creating a beautiful home, which I won't include in this post, but here's a few that stood out ...
* A gentle modulated voice does wonders for making those around you feel loved and welcomed. Screaming only causes stress.
* Does your telephone voice speak a welcome? Is it warm, helpful and gracious? Does it represent a sweet spirit to those who call?
* Monitor the noise levels in your home. Turn off the television and play soft music to soothe the soul.
* Stitch a home blessing.
You can download my free pattern 'The Lord Bless You' HERE
Finally, a recipe from Emilie Barnes, one for a welcoming aroma at dinner time!
Marinate a cut-up chicken in fresh orange juice, crushed garlic, sliced ginger root, and one tablespoon Worcestershire sauce. Bake slowly for two hours at 125C (250F)
Chapter Two: We will study chapter two mid-August.
FREE PATTERN - "Welcome"
I have a brand new pattern for you to stitch as you ponder and apply the ideas shared for creating a welcoming home! I have this hanging in my kitchen now, and the colours/fabrics were chosen to blend with the cupboards and drawers, which are a light latte brown.
This to me is part of creating with intention; looking at our surroundings and decorating in a way that gathers everything together in harmony. As most of you are home sewers and stitchers like me, creating items for the home from our fabric stash is a budget friendly way to slowly enhance decor.
You may have a place in your entrance way where this "Welcome" design can hang, but as I am so often in the kitchen, especially when family visit, I felt that was where it would be loveliest.
The bird is appliqued in two sections, and the basket is also appliqued. Trace the design onto your background fabric first, but omit the applique sections. Once the tracing is done, then position your applique pieces in place. Blanket stitch around the applique with a single strand of matching thread.
I added a line of chain stitch around the wing after the blanket stitch using two strands of thread.
With two strands of thread...
The flower petals, stems, the outside of the leaves, and the large tail feathers of the bird are sewn in backstitch.
The inside of the tail feathers are lazy daisy.
The inside of the leaves are blanket stitch.
The centre of the flowers are satin stitch, surrounded by chain stitch.
Inside each petal is one lazy daisy stitch.
The eye and beak of the bird are satin stitched.
The word is chainstitched.
After trimming the completed block I added a 1/2" border (cut the fabric 1") and then a 1 1/2" border (cut the fabric 2") before quilting and adding the binding. A hanging sleeve was also added to the back.
If you need help with making this project here are a few of my tutorials - just click on the ones you are interested in.
Use the link below to download my free "Welcome" pattern.
I hope you enjoyed the first chapter of our new book study, and I'd love to hear your own thoughts about creating a welcoming atmosphere in your home.
Bless you heaps,
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Emilie has been one of my favorite authors for so many years. She was such a blessing to me as a young wife and mom. I learned so much from her from making my home welcoming to all to realizing that keeping my house neat and tidy doesn’t have to take huge commitments off time. So much can be accomplished in shorter time periods if you stay focused and have a plan.
I love your embroidery! Your pieces are always so beautiful 😊
Many blessings to you today!
What a lovely first chapter - thank you Jennifer, I look forward to the next. xx
Thanks for a beautiful Welcome !
I so enjoy seeing how you add creative touches turning a house into your own home :)
Thank you for a lovely mid week read :)
hugs, take care,
Thank you, a lovely post as always, I love the wee bird! Beautiful! Sitting here around a fire in theback garden. 2300 p.! Lovely and peaceful. Love Mary-Lou
Thank you so much for sharing the first chapter with us. I am really enjoying the ideas and thinking about how I can put some of them into practice. Thank you also for the beautiful pattern.
Oh my, what a beautiful post! Thank you so much for sharing the book and you inspiring narrative! The free pattern is gorgeous, I am definitely doing it! So looking forward to this journey!
Lovely post, Jennifer. Thank you for the sweet welcome pattern! Emilie Barnes has been a favorite author of mine for many years. I have quite a collection of her books and glean so much warmth and wisdom from them all. I love creating a welcoming atmosphere in my home, especially when my husband was working. I would try to have the house picked up, children (hopefully) not screaming, and dinner ready when he would walk in from a very long day and exhausting commute. Those days are behind us, but I still try to make home the best, coziest place to come to!
I read that book a long time ago. It was such a wonderful resource to me when I was young wife and mom! I love all her books. You have such a lovely blog.
Such a welcoming home Emelie must have had. Something like your home Jennifer that seems so welcoming and cheery. I used to have a lovely welcome sign with an old key hanging on the frame in our guest room at our previous home. I should make this one for our current guest room. I enjoyed this first chapter and look forward to another. I am not familiar with this author. Toodles…
Inspiring, as always. I have to confess that our home is a little less organized than usual because we're focusing on the yard and garden as well as remodeling the basement into an apartment. But I guess all that is working toward a more beautiful living area. And we still have folks over for backyard cookouts (and to let their wonderfully curious children watch my husband use the mini-excavator). Thanks again for your generosity in sharing patterns.
I very much enjoyed the first chapter and look forward to the rest! Thank you for the pattern for the "Welcome" hanging - I haven't done any embroidery in a very long time, but just recently re-organized all my threads and this is the perfect first project. Take care, Jennifer, and again, thank you! Deb
So beautiful. Regine
I have read Emily Barnes in the past and always enjoyed her outlook on homemaking. Nothing like having a cozy place to come home to. Curious why you moved so many times? My family moved 12 times that I remember and, in spite of the nice cozy setting, it was very difficul. Wouldn't recommend that. New surroundings, new places, new people, everything new and having to start over again each time. Lack of stability and security was what I took out of all of those moves, in spite of an ordered home. Dee
Love love the welcome design - thank you sweetie! You know I've kept a bit of fabric and all my floss, and this has me itching to stitch again - that desire has been gone for so long.
I'm beginning to think that my welcoming home would be extremely sparse, lol....with mom here, I'm surrounded by so much clutter from others, it drives me nuts. Too much to clean well. And I do love a clean home. I guess everyone feels welcome to just drop their stuff any ol' where, lol!!!!!!! Ah well, love is here and that's what counts, right? Love ya girl!
Thanks Jennifer you are always full of inspiration!! I really real I know your lovely grandchildren, they bring a huge smile to my face! We have so many Blessings! Last night I listened to Tak Bhana on u tube! Church unlimited. New Zealand on when trials come the Eagle sore higher into the winds the currents! God is always with us Every day no matter what, He loves us so much! Many Blessings to you and your lovely family😊❤️
What a lovely book this sounds like. Thank you for doing a book study on it. I love the Welcome pattern you shared with us. It is so beautiful and welcoming to make and place in our homes. I fill my early mornings in the yard and gardens watering or picking herbs or veggies. And of course the never ending weeding, then going inside fixing my breakfast whish is mostly a fruit and veggie smoothie or yogurt . Then getting laundry going and things picked up and cleaned Late afternoons are spent checking email a time or 2 a week and trying to clean and cook and take care of my 5 indoor cats and spend time with mom and my sisters and children and husband as husband works mostly online virtually for the past couple years. Although school has started back for my daughter who is a teacher we still see her in the mornings, and every evening and weekends. I stay very busy always someone to take to the doctor or lab , etc. Eagerly awaiting the next book study chapter. Love the crochet blanket you finished . May you be blessed heaps.
I've not taken time to read your wonderful posts in quite a while. But today, I sit here in the early hours, reading and marveling at timing. For weeks I have been removing every vestige of personal life from our home as we find ourselves putting the house up for sale.
This is necessary, but hard. Thank you for reminding me of the joy of creating home, no matter where we are or the changing circumstances of life.
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