I've kept this year's free tea towel design quite simple, because I'd like to think it reflects the gentle simplicity of our domestic lives throughout 2023.
As the theme on the blog this year is 'a new year of gentle domesticity', it seems prudent that I should be encouraging both myself and all of you, to seek after gentler expressions of homemaking, amidst the regular rhythms and routines of keeping house.
There's a number of words I could have chosen to embellish this year's tea towel, but memories of sitting at nana's table enjoying the very simple and delicious meals she would bake each day brought joy to my heart, so 'baking' was what I decided on.
Memories of relaxed evenings watching The Waltons, where every scene of Grandma and Olivia working side by side preparing food, or the family gathered around the table laughing and sharing the fruits of their labour, always gave me cause to sigh and smile, because the love of eating a meal together, of simply "being" together, was another reminder of sitting at our own small kitchen table when I was young, and the love and laughter and gratitude which filled the air.
Gingham and redwork compliment each other beautifully, and genuinely do remind me of the old days, so when I found this turquoise checked tea towel tucked away in my linen cupboard, the idea for this year's free pattern came quickly to mind. I hope you make this for yourself, and maybe a few others as gifts throughout the year - they'd be so easy and inexpensive to post.
Or, imagine wrapping your newly stitched tea towel around a batch of freshly baked scones or muffins, or maybe even a loaf of bread, to gift a neighbour? That would be lovely (and delicious) indeed. I find the simplest gifts quite often mean the most.
Use the link below to download the pattern
As promised last week, today we shall continue the Emilie Barnes book study with chapter five of Simple Secrets to a Beautiful Home.
This chapter is titled 'The Secret of the Kitchen' and it seems that Emilie's love for this productive and aromatic room began early in life through the inspiration of her father, a chef who was raised in the kitchen of a Viennese palace. After moving to America he opened many top restaurants, receiving standing ovations from movie stars of the era.
Unlike Emilie, most of us were not raised by chefs, so our culinary skills are more attuned to the simple home kitchen, and creating day by day family pleasing menus - but fortunately for us, we are the women Emilie is writing to in this book. Let's begin...
Emilie asks, "What makes a memorable meal? The recipe for such a time involves four simple ingredients."
The Setting (ideas):
Fold napkins inside the water glasses or tuck them into napkin rings / garnish the dinner plate with a sprig of parsley / place a lemon wedge in each glass of water / use a floral sheet as your tablecloth / make napkins from an old sheet / add a jar of fresh flowers to the table centre or for seasonal displays use apples, grapes, pine cones, candles, twinkling lights - whatever is on hand.
The Food (ideas):
Use in-season fruits and vegetables / think about the aroma of food cooking as guests gather at the table - curries, garlic, fresh bread, coffee, chili, spices, roasts, fruit pies / make family favourites regularly to create memories.
The Fellowship (ideas):
Turn off the television / put phones away / be prepared to share about your day and be prepared to listen to what others want to share / use this time for family and friendships to grow.
A Peaceful Ambience (ideas):
"Better a dry crust with peace and quiet than a house full of feasting with strife." Proverbs 17:1 / plan dinner times thoughtfully so that all the components of the meal are ready to serve at the same time / avoid weighty or emotional conversations over meals / invite God to be present at each meal and give thanks.
The Year Round Kitchen
Not just a seasonal cook, Emilie also embraces seasonal decor in her kitchen and surrounds, using windowsills, countertops and the dining area to infuse elements of spring, summer, autumn and winter to her home.
"...tuning in to the turning of the seasons will help make your kitchen more warming and fulfilling." (page 79)
Flowers in season are displayed growing in window boxes and pretty pots in the warmer months, or cut and placed in a vase or jar all through the year. Bowls are filled with pumpkins, squash and gourds in autumn, and through summer they overflow with fruits and vegetables.
With regards to meals, Emilie chooses fresh ingredients in their season, delighting (for example) in serving the first spring produce on a white lace tablecloth beside fresh blooms - a celebration of taste and colour.
"Setting a pretty breakfast table or food bar with placemats sends out good signals." (page 79)
Many summer meals are served outdoors, especially those cooked on the barbecue. Lots of big green salads with assorted vegetables and garlic dressing gave Emilie great delight and a desire to pray for long hot summers. She suggests shopping at a Farmer's Market in spring and summer for home-sourced goods such as jam, breads, honey and nuts if you don't make or have your own.
In the cooler months keep your kitchen warm and smelling wonderful with simmering soups, slow cooker meals and casseroles.
Hope you enjoyed the overview on chapter five. Next month we will glean from the next chapter, The Secret of Stillness.
If you're new here, last year we read through the first four chapters (there are nine in all) and I gave some highlights here for those who did not have a copy of the book. You can read through those first four chapter studies HERE
Love to hear your own thoughts and ideas on creating a welcoming kitchen. I'm still slowly working on mine, and find that some of her ideas won't work in such a small space with minimal countertop area, but that doesn't mean I can't take the seeds of what Emilie did in her home and bring to life some beauty of my own with what means I have on hand. Creativity is such a unique thing for every women, and that's fairly obvious when you spend time in someone else's home.
I wonder how we'd arrange or decorate our kitchen and dining areas if we took some time to really ponder the things we like, the style which best suits our taste and budget, and considered what matters and what doesn't? Lately I'm thinking more and more about what I don't like, which is very helpful with decluttering, because when I know that, it's much easier to imagine a room/s makeover for the future.
For now, it's small inexpensive steps for my home, and I don't mind at all because in most things these days I enjoy taking my time before making decisions (what a change from a few years back).
Have a lovely end of week, dear ones, and just for fun, why don't we all set the table tonight, light some candles, play some favourite music in the background, and 'welcome' home our loved ones. If you've got some flowers pop them in a jug or vase, or ask your neighbour for a few blooms if she has them. Bring out your napkins, best glasses and dinner plates, and bake a lovely dessert if you have time. Turn off the telly and don't answer texts or scroll social media - in fact put your mobile devices in another room. Give your loved ones some undivided attention...who knows, you may find this becomes a delightful new weekly rhythm to home life.
I'm going to bake a lemon delicious pudding, but not sure what will be the main course as yet - have to check the fridge first and see what needs using up. Even the simplest of meals become special when served with beauty. Emilie taught me that.
Oh, and if you're after a very simple way to make cloth napkins from old sheets, visit Jes at her blog Strangers and Pilgrims HERE where she gives some very easy instructions. Jes has so many wonderful homemaking ideas and examples that you might find yourself trying a few different things.
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