Friday, August 12, 2022

Chapter 2 - creativity...


Hi everyone! Today I'm sharing bits and pieces from chapter two of Emilie's book, Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home, and I hope it inspires you to look with fresh eyes at how to use your God-given creativity within your own abode.
As with chapter one I will highlight Emilie's words and thoughts in italics. My own are in standard text.

Emilie begins this chapter by repeating a comment she had heard a million times by women - "Oh, she's so creative!" - and goes on to make an observation that usually this statement is describing what many would call an "artsy" kind of person. 

Fairly quickly Emilie debunks that theory as she reminds us that we are all made in the image of God, and therefore we are all uniquely creative, though we may not describe ourselves as being creative. 

From my own perspective, I too have heard the comment "She's so creative" spoken with awe and sometimes even a touch of envy, and I think that can be a lovely compliment about a person's gifts we admire, but it can also cause us to think less of our own creativity.
For example, I have been told for over a decade how creative I am to be able to design and stitch...and I see this as a manifestation of God's gift to me in this area. But I cannot paint, makeover old furniture, create beautiful table settings for a dinner party...and hundreds of other creative pursuits. But I'm sure that just as I have a small creative niche, you are also very creative in your own way and with your own natural gifts.

As many of us are crafters of one sort or another, it's probable that we consider creativity to be craft related...but that is a small corner of the real picture, and I'll chat more about that near the end.

Emile shares the story of their treasure hunts to auctions, yard sales, antique shops etc, and the odd things her husband would purchase, items which she thought of as incredibly ugly. 
But given time he would make them over into something beautiful, because he'd already imagined in his mind's eye what he could do to transform the item when he bought it.

Referring to the pioneer women of the old days, she writes, "Even in the tiniest frontier cabin, pioneer women found ways to express their creative urges and to add touches of loveliness to their environment." 
Then Emilie draws our attention to the Amish and their beautifully handmade quilts, whilst also noting the friendship shared in their quilting bees, the recipes exchanged, garden problems solved, child rearing issues shared, and all the while their hardworking fingers sewed tiny stitches.

This section reminded me of Ma in the Little House on the Prairie books, and her precious "little china woman" which was so carefully unpacked with every move and placed on the mantle above the fireplace. The children knew that when at last Ma displayed her china woman it meant the house was ready and they would begin the normal routines of life again. 
When I considered the Amish sewing bee, another thought came to mind. How precious these regular bees were for passing on skills and womanly advice to the younger women while they all sat together around the quilting frame stitching quilts. 

The Amish - the spirit of creativity flourishes in their simple, homespun traditions. Quilts are priceless examples of folk art and a beautiful testimony to creativity. 
"People are rediscovering the fulfilled and homey wholesomeness of the days when women gathered to pool their creativity and beautify their homes with warmth and comfort."

Thinking outside the box:

Using repurposed sheets for all kinds of home furnishings, such as curtains, tablecloths, napkins, sofa covers, pillow shams, table runners, shower curtains...Emilie has done this, as have many of her friends. She remarks on one friend who even lined her kitchen cupboards using a pretty sheet, and another who wallpapered a room.

"The world around us can be changed by the smallest of creative touches. The woman who takes time to think creatively can put together a homey environment out of whatever she has. 
Cost, size and possessions really have little to do with a beautiful home. In fact, if we own too much, we can easily let our lives degenerate to the point that we are merely a keeper of things." 

Magazines, books and Pinterest:

The book we are studying was written in 1992, and back then Emilie encouraged borrowing ideas from your friends, magazines, books and shop displays for creating beauty in your own home. This made me reflect on the avenues I roam down looking for homemaking inspiration, so along with all her examples I'll add Pinterest - which I'm sure she would have loved had it been around then.

Now, I only go to Pinterest if I have a reason - for instance, lately I have been looking for kitchen curtain ideas because I'm about to make some, but what a great resource it is for home decorating ideas. Just remember, work within your budget, and never compare your home to that of someone else, okay? I have fallen down that rabbit hole in the past and it was a very muddy climb back up to reality. 
Many ideas caught my eye, but it was actually a compilation of a few that inspired me to sketch up my own and in another couple of weeks I will have duplicated for real. 

I also love to browse through books for ideas. These are a few I picked up for a couple of dollars each at garage sales. They are displayed in the bookshelf in our bedroom and some afternoons I take a rest in there with a nice herbal tea and look through one or two of them for twenty minutes or so ...

I also love to go through my collection of Country Living UK magazines, especially the older ones from around 2009-15 as they were really home focused back then.
Inside are gardens, decor, arts and crafts, much that sparks my creativity!

Here's my latest book purchase, A Woman's Garden, by Tanya Anderson who lives on the Isle of Mann. If you've never been to her blog (HERE) let me encourage you, especially if your interest lies in preserving your garden plants and even using them in crafts.

Creative Sharing:

"Creativity is not just for self-fulfillment...experience the joy of creating and sharing when you stitch a Scripture for a friend, write up a recipe for a new acquaintance, or hand letter a special card..."

A Legacy of Joy:

"One of the most valuable ways we can share the secret of creativity is by modelling it for our children....teach them to use their own God-given creativity to instil beauty into their own lives and homes."

"As images of the Creator, we have the opportunity to fashion our lives and our homes into works of art."

Some creative ideas from Emilie:

* Make time in your life for things that stimulate your creative juices - even if you have to schedule into your calendar.
* Make the table special. Tie ribbons around the napkins and add a fresh flower. 
* Create centrepieces for the table in season...such as pumpkins of all sizes in Autumn.
* Before throwing something away that is worn or cracked, think of some way to reuse it. A cracked mug or teapot can hold flowers, or worn out jeans can be torn into strips to make a rag rug.
* Try using a quilt as a tablecloth, or to drape over a worn out sofa. 
* Cover boxes in pretty paper (or fabric) and use them for storage. Stacked together they would look lovely.
* You can do so much with a Mason jar - above all, think beauty in the ordinary.

I am not the most creative person, but I am very aware that God has gifted us all with some of His creativity, so, room by room I've been looking with fresh eyes, taking ideas gratefully from many sources, and have begun to 'subdue' my home and mould it into a prettier and more peaceful place to be. 
Here's a few very simple things I have done, some in the past few years, others in the past few months, some this week. 

Adding more hanging plants, using a doily to cover a hole in the curtain, using empty vases, water jugs, teapots and coffee mugs as vessels for propagating Pothos cuttings, painting an ugly old wooden tray white...

Using a lace scarf as a curtain sash...

Displaying small rose cuttings on my desk in a tiny cut glass milk jug...

Painting a black $5 garage sale towel rack a lovely deep cream and using it to display quilts...

Painting an ugly green votive candle holder with the same cream as the quilt stand and using it to display plants on my kitchen windowsill...

Painting an old shelf a vibrant turquoise and attaching to the wall in our entrance where it holds plants and special displays...

Hanging aprons on my small pantry cupboard...

And making the new freezer, which lives in our lounge/dining room for lack of space elsewhere in our small home, look not so ugly and out of place.

And you know what, we have a queen size mattress in the middle of that room too, because it's only a year old and we need to sell it and there's nowhere else it can I thought creatively. Ha ha!!

The mattress was a very expensive Tempur memory foam which turned out to be not right for me...I could barely walk each morning and would climb out of bed during the night from the pain in my hips to sleep on the couch. Hubby was horrified that it was causing me so much pain, so bless him, we went and bought an ordinary soft mattress, and I am no longer in pain and sleep well. 
But now we are left with an expensive mistake, so while it's here in the middle of our home it can look pretty. :-)

I hope you enjoyed the overview of chapter two, and that you have thought differently about what it means to be creative. 

I have a few friends who are quite creative in their homes, so I'll leave links to them below...

JES who blogs at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth
ROSIE who blogs at Home with Rosie
ANNABEL who blogs at The Bluebirds are Nesting on the Farm
JULIE at My Threadbare Life

Hope you have a blessed weekend and get to enjoy the garden and your homes. I also pray that in all things you tap into the God-gifted creativity within yourself and look for ways to beautify your surroundings.
Start with a smile...I find it makes all the difference!



Lin said...

I am enjoying this book Jennifer and I love the new upcycled additions to your home. xx

Joanne said...

Hi Jennifer,
A great eye for photography, capturing images, writing blog posts and newsletters are also very strong creative skills you have :)
Looking forward to your new kitchen curtains !
Thanks for a great read for the weekend !
Love the quotes in big blocks. I have to print out a few :)
hugs, take care, enjoy your weekend !

Createology said...

How lovely to share the wisdoms of others and yourself. My Grandmother always looked at things with “different eyes” and she was very creative and clever way before computers and Pinterest. I always enjoy your homemaking and the beauty you place throughout. Creative Bliss Jennifer…

Anonymous said...

Dear Jennifer, I don't often comment, but read your blog and enjoy it very much! You have often made me feel better about myself, being a home0body like yourself, conent to be a home to look after our home and family....Anyway, I see the photo's of your lovely home and I love the peace and tranquility it has!
You mentioned decorating the figde-freezer which is in the corner of the loving room, and already you have made it look so pretty! A thought/idea came to me...You have such lovely quilt blocks, and small wall hangings etc, I thought you could maybe use a few magnets to put on on the front of the fridge...I realise the quilt would have to be quite thin, but maybe it's worth trying..
Anyway, have a lovely weekend, we're having a (short) heatwave here in Holland, so we'll stay calm and try to stay cool...
Best wishes from Nicoline

azwoolgirl said...

What a wonderful post and filled with such inspiration. I agree about the UK Country Living magazines, they have definitely changed, just like our Country Living Mag has here in the US. The older issues had so many wonderful things inside but not as much so today. Thank you so much for sharing today

Joan G said...

Thank you, Jennifer, for another lovely inspirational post about being creative with what you have. I have been guilty of buying more, more, more instead of repurposing what I already own. I used to buy fabric specific only to the project I was working on. Ha! I soon fell down the rabbit hole of buying fabric just because it was pretty or on sale, whether I had a project for it in mind or not. I have enough fabric, kits, and panels to last me the rest of my life! I think sometimes we have so much “stuff” that we actually become frozen on what to do next. Situations like that always make me anxious and I end up doing nothing. So, my 2022 goal is to first finish projects that I started, donate things that I will never make, and to let go of the things that cause me stress. Sometimes having too much is worse than not having enough. Thank you again, Jennifer, for this sit down chat - I always get so much from your posts. Good luck with your curtains! I am sure they will be beautiful.

Mary-Louise said...

Hi Jennifer a gorgeous blog! Thank you. I shall use an old teapot which is gorgeous as a vase or pot plant. I love the sayings and wee paintings in the squares, is there anyway to download them? I am sitting outside 2230, around our wee fire, beautiful night listening to the radio! X👂😊📻

Julie said...

What a beautiful post dear Jennifer ... just what I needed today - thank You!! I have several of those books on your book shelf - especially the Selina Lake ones, I just love her work. Everything you have done to your home is so beautiful & peaceful & restful. It just makes me smile to see the small changes ... I have been trying to do a few little tweaks myself without spending money - just some small changes that bring me happiness. Wishing you a wonderful weekend my dear friend. xx

Lori said...

I am so enjoying this book study, Jennifer! It is inspiring to see how creative you have been in your home. Our God is such a creative God and He made us to be creative in so many different ways! In our new home, which is so much smaller (but cozier!) than our last, I was in a dilemma with how to arrange the kitchen table. It is a table that my sweet hubby refinished for me many years ago, twice! We originally bought it when our middle son was born and he is 27. I really love this table, and was distressed with it not fitting properly. I was praying about it and in the middle of the night I woke and had the thought: "Turn it the other way, perpendicular to the wall." I was so excited I wanted to run out to the kitchen and do it right then; but at 3am, it would wake the whole household. The next morning I turned it around and, lo and behold, we all loved it! I thanked the Lord for His inspiration and caring about the smallest creative details of our lives.
Looking forward to Chapter 3!! Bless you, dear friend!

Allie said...

Such a lovely home you have, so welcoming - I'd love to stroll over and have a cuppa with you. Unfortunately, it would involve an 18=hour flight first. LOL. I'm way more creative when I have less and less - I do love an almost empty room - took me a long time to figure that out. Plus it's easier to clean, lol. Praying you're able to sell that mattress quickly - although it looks lovely with that beautiful quilt on it!

Annabel said...

Thank you Jenny! I love your home and your bulk food containers on the shelves. I love being home and slow days. Often my days are too busy and I just want to slow it down. My whole heart sings loving my home, routines, garden .... and the comfort of it all. I am excited at the prospect of Spring... Spring cleaning, planting and growing. I love a new season! xxx

Tammy said...

Dearest Jennifer
I second Annabel on your bulk food containers those looks awesome. Do u mind sharing where you got them from. I would love some like those for my bulk dry goods..

Sherry said...

Jennifer, you have such a lovely home! I really like the blue shelf you painted. Using paint to restore an item to loveliness is such a great idea. And I like using beautiful old linens to soften windows and tables. Thank you for more inspiration.