Has time slipped by so quickly that your home still feels as if it’s decorated for Christmas? (It’s ok…I found a frosted pinecone under the loveseat last week. True story.) Well, I’ve got your back with these five quick and easy tips to make your home feel more like summer!
The season of thanks is made for chilly temps and fireside cuddles. I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting in front of dancing flames, my eyes tend to stare at the fireplace mantle—it just kind of sticks out there, you know? Mantles are a natural focal point for the entire room, and when you have a natural focal point, you should take advantage of it! During most holidays, the mantle is the only thing I decorate for a few reasons; it’s seen frequently, and the creative options are endless!
I come from a tight-knit family. One that is rich in love, humility and long-standing traditions. Growing up, we spent every birthday, holiday and Sunday sittin’ at my Nana’s kitchen table. When it was your birthday, you sat at the head of the table. But if you even tried to eat Sunday lunch in the living room, you would get a mean talking to. Rules were rules. There as a family, we shared laughs, our hearts, coupons and church gossip (oh, you know… who came in late, who didn’t show up and who was tone deaf). That table has always been like Grand Central Station for us, and, thankfully, it’s still there and welcomes me well with each visit back home.
The memories that are made and shared at the table are held dear for a reason. In Luke 7:34, Jesus himself said that “the Son of Man came eating and drinking”. Throughout the gospel of Luke, Jesus seemed to literally always be at a meal. No matter your profession or social ranking, Jesus was open to sharing a meal with you. Even today, meals together are a powerful expression of welcomeness and friendship. In a graceless culture, extending your home and table to others can turn into an outward expression of God’s grace and mission. Pretty stinkin’ cool, huh?
So clearly, an eye-catching kitchen table is a high priority in our home, and I try to dress it beautifully to reflect each season. This fall, I wanted a simple table-scape made up of deep colors and natural elements. The entire design for my table was built around a Magnolia leaf garland that I DIY’d. This garland is easy and inexpensive to make but adds incredible depth and texture.
To make your own Magnolia garland you first need to measure the length of your table. (You will need around 25 leaves per foot.) Then, gather your supplies (I’ll link them as I talk about them and also have a supply list below). All you need is wire, wire cutters and Magnolia leaves from outside. (I borrow Magnolia leaves from the Olive Garden parking lot for my projects. Shhh…) Once you have all the leaves you need, string two leaves on your wire at a time. To have the leaves stand up against each other like in my photos, pair the leaves with the backsides (the brownish side) touching each other, and then string on the wire. Continue to string leaves until you fill the desired length of your garland, make knots at each end and you’re done! Adding to the table, I paired the garland with white candles, gold chargers (from the Dollar Tree), twigs, and fall-colored flowers. Building onto this table-scape, you could add other fun fall décor like small white pumpkins or birch wood candle holders. (You could even take this garland through any season, exchange the fall-color flowers for sunflowers in the summer, or add pastel Easter eggs and blue and white hydrangeas for spring. The options are endless!) One last thing, napkins and silverware. We have limited utensils here in the Damas household, so we can’t just throw that stuff out there like candy. But it looks fabulous if you have more than one set to spare!
Hospitality is one of those things that seems allusive, mysterious, and in a perfect form, impossible. We have a million and three things going on in our lives. For me, this season is filled with softball games, Tennessee football road trips, moving into a new home, working full-time during a pastoral transition, leading small groups, wanting to paint my nails and occasionally squeezing in a shower every once in a while. When I think about hosting people at our new house, I feel a rush of overwhelmed air filling my lungs and telling me to hold on for dear life.
The Proverbs 31 woman looms over my head. She’s like a one-woman army that can do everything all while donning a string of pearls. I have so many notes in my Bible from different passages that I take wisdom from, but in the margins of the scriptures illuminating that woman, the page is blank. I just marvel at her. Everyone in her home is provided for, taken care of and loved. I love hospitality, but goodness. She’s setting the bar high.
As I think back to all the ladies’ homes I’ve been to that felt the most like, well…home, I noticed a common thread. Authenticity. There was something different in the air at their homes. You know what I’m talking about. The way they cared for their families, loved on their loved ones, dressed themselves and decorated their homes all came from a place of genuine concern for each of those individuals. As we go throughout this series, peaking behind the full door into people’s homes, I dare to say that the core of hospitality is relationships. Mrs. Proverbs 31 was working and serving from the heart, not to create a perfectly curated Pinterest board. For my next few posts, we’re going to explore authenticity — what it looks like in its truest form, how we live our lives with it and how it affects our relationships and people that come into our homes. Let’s put a scent in the air of our homes that makes people feel welcome, just because of who they are and how we make them feel.
In the meantime, I wanted to leave you with some easy, time-conscious ways to make your home smell delightful for when guests come over.
This one seems like a no brainer, but I’m always surprised how few candles actually get lit in people’s homes. They’re not just for looks, people. If someone’s at our house, there’s at least one lit in every room. My mom even lights tea candles in some rooms when people come over. The trick is remembering to blow them out later. Here are a few of my favorite candles:
Capri Blue | Volcano | Ever walked into Anthropologie and wondered what that heavenly smell was? It’s Volcano.
Tyler Candles | Any of the Tyler Candles are fantastic. I’m partial to the Mulled Cider.
Any candle on sale, but try to stick with a soy or natural wax. They burn slower, and thus give you more burns per dollar. When you’re in T.J. Maxx or Target, just make a quick run through the candle aisle…just in case.
Seems like more work than it’s worth, but I don’t know that there’s a better smell than something baking in someone’s home. A mentor of mine keeps a package of break-n-bake cookies in the fridge at all times for this very reason. When people are about to come over, right before you make your mad dash to shove things in the closet and release the hound to “vacuum” for you, pop a dozen cookies in the oven. (And set a timer…burnt cookies aren’t AS good of a smell.) That’s a smell that lasts a while.
I’ve got a few recipes for you that you can try on your stove that leave a lasting scent. Here’s one for each season:
Fall: In a small pot, place 5-6 cinnamon sticks, several anise stars, dried oranges and a handful of whole cloves. Fill the pot halfway with water. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
Winter: In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 2 tablespoons vanilla extract, and 1 sliced orange. Add about 1 cup of water. Heat over low heat on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
Spring: Mix water, sliced lemon, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary and about a teaspoon of vanilla. Simmer on the stove….this smells amazing! I used 2 lemons, 3 sprigs of rosemary and about 2 tablespoons of vanilla. It only took 5 minutes to make the whole house smell fresh!
Summer: In a small pot, place 2 fresh slices of lime and a vanilla bean. Add a few drops of lime essential oils, if desired. Heat on low on a stove until the scent fills the kitchen. Watch closely again to ensure the pot is always filled with water to prevent burning.
“Be hospitable to one another without complaint.” 1 Peter 4:9
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When it comes to Fall decorating, my first DIY is always a wreath for the front door. There is just something so cozy that transpires once you place a fall wreath on your door; it sets the tone for the crisp season ahead.
For me, the “Fall Wreath Project” process is the exact same every year. I venture out to Hobby Lobby in search of the perfect floral/Fall garland to use only to discover that nothing really catches my eye. Well, nothing except for floral picks, which are the really long stemmed flowers and pieces meant to just add some extra charm to a larger arrangement. To me, the floral picks themselves are perfect all on their own (and inexpensive!). The thing about floral picks is that they are quite large — almost too large to work with for a smaller DIY wreath unless you break them apart. And even though I know someone talented at Hobby Lobby took their sweet time to piece these picks together just right, taking them apart is exactly what I do. (But we’ll just keep that between us, okay?)
Interested? Here’s how you can use floral picks for a Simple DIY Fall Wreath.
First, gather your supplies. (This DIY is real simple, ya’ll. You only need four items!)
The moment we walked into that house I knew it would be ours. In fact, as we crossed the threshold into the front door, my husband said to the realtor, “We’re going to buy this house. I’m telling you now.”
We were approaching our first anniversary with a laundry list of wants for our first home. In typical male-female fashion, his list included home warranties, a good interest rate and a newish air conditioner while mine was more cosmetic. Coming in at the top spot for me, however, was something very simple and unlikely, a dutch door. Every conversation we had about our future home, I would bring it up. And Jordan would sweetly remind me that doors are replaceable. We could have a dutch door in any house. We walked up the front steps of the third house we explored with our realtor. It was a little, yellow cottage near the lake here in Tennessee. It was cute, but I, obvs, needed to see inside. We crossed the threshold, and there she was. Guiding happy thoughts and cuteness from the living room to the sunroom was a dutch door. She was white with six glass panels on the top half that was propped open while the bottom was latched shut. I don’t know what started my obsession with dutch doors, but now that we own the house, it seems it’s here to stay.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
As a true Southern girl, I have lived, unfortunately, the majority of my life by the words of Miranda Lambert: “Gotta keep it together even when you fall apart.” An occasional accountability partner might shake the true me out for a brief moment, but then I hypothetically fix my make-up and carry about my way.
I realized I am very much like my dutch door. Adorable, but only half open. My home, who I am, and what fully happens behind the door isn’t always exposed. I live with the shield and comfort of a flimsy, wooden bottom half covering me. I want people to be able to peek in, but maybe not come in.
They might see my mess. They might see who I really am. Then, what would they think?
My heart has always been for people to know Jesus, fully and beautifully. But yet, I’m not willing to let them see my own life, fully. How is someone supposed to relate to others with half the door closed?
Hospitality is one of my love languages. I love to host. When I was in elementary school, I invited a group of girls to my house weekly to decorate cupcakes and make crafts. Each big-bowed head would walk to her seat that was perfectly organized with every ingredient, supply and snack they could possibly want. I have a problem cleaning my own stuff, but after I party, I’m overjoyed to clean.
Do you see the oxymoron here? I am a walking contradiction. I want people to come into my home, allow me to serve them, but I don’t want them to know me. Why would anyone want to come into that home?! Why would anyone want to build a relationship with someone that wasn’t being true?
As women, we like the door half closed. We want others to see our home – us and our families- when the cider is hot, the floors are vacuumed, homework is done, outfit is adorbs, etc. We want them to see who we’ve made ourselves to be — what we’ve trained ourselves to be.
We approach each other through the same lense that we see ourselves. I’m not pretty enough, skinny enough, popular enough, funny enough … so why should she be? Why does she deserve it? Why can’t I have it?
And thus, the state of womanhood today is born. We lose heart in ourselves. We think that by wishing, wanting, provoking, gossiping, fixing and Pinteresting, we can bring something to ourselves, even if it means we steal it from each other, or even just close half the door.
I have lost heart, as many of you, in who I am. God created me with a passion and a purpose. And with a beauty that is the joy of bearing His image. I forget that everyday. I see myself the way I’m told I need to because of what other girls say, do and act. I started to believe the lie that others, or even myself, get to decide who I am, not the Lord.
I have this hope. A hope that we, women, can rally for revival. A revival of the nurturing, loving, joyful, hospitable creatures we were put on this Earth to be. There is a trove of untapped potential in all of us just waiting to break out. A treasure chest of individuals that were woven together in this story of life with unique qualities, beauties and joys no matter our circumstance or our mess.
I once asked some of the Godliest, most captivating women I know to write a letter to their teenaged self. All of them had a common thread: be unashamed of who you are. They weren’t afraid to be, well…themselves. They found the courage to be who they were created to be. None of them said it was easy or that they didn’t fall. But they all were women marked with a courageous heart to be themselves in a world full of girls comparing them to everyone else. They found peace and contentment in seeing their friends through the same view they saw themselves: unrepeatable and beautifully made with the door fully open.
We don’t get to do this life again. My hope is that the cry of our womanly hearts is to see ourselves as our Father sees us: an image-bearing princess to the Almighty King. We would find peace in the image we bear and the courage to live knowing we are each one of a kind. Maybe, just maybe, then we’d be able to spread joy like icing. Glopped, messy, but sweet and delicious. Maybe then, we could invite people into our homes with an understanding that life is a mess. Maybe then, we’d form relationships where the door could be fully opened.
My prayer for this series is to be an open door. Let’s sip sweet tea over authentic, open conversations of who we are, what’s going on in our lives, what relationships should and shouldn’t look like, how to honestly reach people, and truly be all that God has created us to be. So gather ‘round as we open the whole door and chat about relationships, families and our homes.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. -Jesus (John 16:33)