Thursday, January 19, 2017

Grace at Home No. 233


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

Here are some posts from last week's party that caught my eye.

Terri at Designing Wilder shared some practical tips for transitioning your home from Christmas decor to winter decor. 
Marci at Stone Cottage Adventures created a darling kids' play table with some colorful paint and chalkboard paint! Isn't this a great idea?



I'm always looking for new soup recipes in the wintertime, and Debra at Shoppe No. 5 shared one for Black Bean Soup. I'm going to try this!

Tiffany at Simply for One shared some words of great wisdom about what to do when you're not sure what comes next. 


As for me, I found myself fascinated by Pantone's Color of the Year for 2017. I love the idea that green is "nature's neutral"--and I proved it to myself in an unusual way. I'd love for you to take a look at this post and tell me what you think.


Now for this week's party!  As I said, Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nature's neutral: the color of the year


You may have already seen Pantone's choice of the color of the year for 2017. Although I'm not much on decorating trends, I was thrilled to see this color highlighted:


I've found that many people are a bit scared at the thought of using such a vibrant color in their decorating, though. For years we've been inundated with neutral colors such as white, grey, beige, tan, and taupe. Finding just the right neutral can seem like the Holy Grail of decorating.

A few years ago I became fascinated by something I noticed after I hosted a birthday party for my youngest son. I found these great napkins to use at his party:

The napkins were a perfect fit and match for a green napkin holder I owned. Here's the holder with no napkins in it. (It's not exactly the same color as Pantone's Greenery, of course. It's about the color of a Granny Smith apple.)


As I was putting the napkin holder away after the party, I noticed how well it would go with these striped napkins:

But then again, these soft flowered napkins looked good, too:


So then I started experimenting with the napkins in my drawer. (I have a thing for napkins--have you seen my napkin drawer?) Imagine how great these would be for a Cinco de Mayo party!

And these would be wonderfully refreshing for summertime, don't you think?


But my green napkin holder could go more fallish, too, like with this leaf print:

Or with these autumn fruits:


You could use this green napkin holder with more than just springy, summery, or fallish colors, though. Look how well it pairs with this cool paisley print:


Or with these feathers:


Or with these printed beauties that Melissa gave me:


Can you believe that every single one of these photos features the same green napkin holder?  Even though it's a bold, vibrant green color, it pairs well with all these different napkins.

I think it's fascinating that this bright green napkin holder--an item that doesn't seem at all "neutral"--functions just the way a good neutral should function. It mixes well with many different colors, allowing those colors to take center stage. Green may not be a "neutral" color, but it is a wonderful background color.

I think I know why this is true. What color do you see throughout the natural landscape? Green, green, and more green--all different shades and tints of greens, serving as a beautiful backdrop for the vibrant hues of flowers. The natural landscape includes an amazingly diverse palette of colors, and all of them pair beautifully with various shades of green.


And of course, the backdrop for all the colors of the earth is the beautiful blue of the sky. I don't have a blue napkin holder to demonstrate this, but the same principle is true for blue as for green.


Pantone called its 2017 Color of the Year "Nature's Neutral." I think they're spot on with that description. 

Isn't it amazing the lessons we can learn from the Master Designer?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Grace at Home No. 232


Happy new year, friends, and welcome to this year's first Grace at Home party! After a few weeks away from my computer, I'm so glad to welcome you here today!


As the name of my blog implies, my great passion is to impart grace to others. Although I'd always known this in theory, a few years ago I learned anew that the first place I am called to impart grace is right here in my home.

The Grace at Home party is a place for you to share the ways you make your home a place of grace and beauty. There are so many ways to do that, and I'm excited to see what you're up to. Nearly every week I choose a few features from the previous week's party so that even more people can benefit from that inspiration.

I've met so many of you directly through your involvement in this link party, and I'm so grateful to you for participating. Could I ask you a favor? If you know a blogger, could you invite them to participate in Grace at Home? I like the fact that this is a small party. I've been tickled over the years to see that some of y'all have met one another through this weekly gathering. But I'd love to have a few more grace-filled (or grace-hungry!) participants. Would you help me spread the word?


Now for this week's party!  As I said, Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Friday, December 30, 2016

Out with the old


Everywhere I look, I find people eager to begin the new year. My inbox is flooded with offers to help me set goals, get organized, and accomplish more in 2017 than ever before.


We love a fresh start, don't we?

Yet January 1 is just the next day on the calendar. It will be the start of something new only if we put an end to something old.

Here's what I need to put aside before I can begin anew:

Wasting time. As much as I hate to admit it, this has been a big problem for me in 2016. At first I was puzzled about it, because this is a new problem. I never used to waste time! 

Finally I realized that I didn't waste time in other seasons of my life simply because there was never any time to waste. When I had small children, a house to keep on a tight budget, and a small business to run, I had to steward my resources--including time--very carefully. These days I have fewer constraints on my resources, and I confess I've been wasteful of them. 

Good stewardship requires great intentionality. To stop wasting time, I've got to understand what I mean to do and stop allowing myself to be distracted by activities that add no value to my life or others' lives.

Wanting credit. This is a big one for me, although I've only recently realized it. I'll be very happy working, serving, doing things for others, and then bam! I'll be hit with a wave of self-pity when no one recognizes my contributions. 

How often have I read that there is no limit to what can be accomplished if you don't care who gets the credit for it?  (The actual quotation is from Charles Edward Montague, the English essayist: "There is no limit to what a man can do so long as he does not care a straw who gets the credit for it.")

The inverse of that is also true, I've learned: there's very little that can be accomplished if you care too much who gets the credit for it. I need to kick this habit to the curb.

Comparing myself to others. I'm pretty sure that I struggle with this one more than anyone I've ever known--although of course I'd have to do a careful comparison in order to be sure. Ack! I'm determined to get to the bottom of this one. As a matter of fact, I've been doing a careful study of why I'm so prone to comparison and how I can change. 

I want to be free of the shackles of comparison.


As I look forward to the fireworks of celebrating a new year, I know that I need to put the old year behind me. Doing that is going to require hard work on my part and a lot of help from God. 

What about you? What are the old habits you need to bid good-bye so that you can embrace the new?

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Home Tour


Welcome, friends, and welcome, Christmas!

Every year since 2009 I've shared a tour of our home at Christmastime. This year I won't do much talking, but I will share lots of photos of our house all dressed for Christmas.

Fair warning: you won't find anything trendy in my home tour. But if you like traditional Christmas decor, you've come to the right place.

Let's pretend that you've just driven up to our house in Durham, North Carolina. Here's what you'll see as you approach the front door. The large JOY sign was a simple DIY project a couple of years ago; click here for instructions. My prayer is that joy is always the theme of Christmas at our house.


Oops! I see a couple of ornaments have escaped from the outdoor lanterns.

I hope you'll feel welcomed when you see the front porch sitting area:


The furniture in our "outdoor living room" got an update this spring. Now that the furniture cushions are neutral, I can use any color I like for accessories. At Christmas, I like lots of red! The plaid pillows on the sofa I made from placemats. Easiest pillows ever; instructions can be found here.

See the ornaments hanging in the windows? Our dining room is right inside there.


A closer look at the French door will reveal the loudest part of your welcoming committee: Snickers the beagle and Cocoa the pound puppy. Can you see them?


Sometimes our December weather is warm enough to relax out here. It's 31 degrees outside today, though, so come on in!


Our wreath this year is dressed with just a plaid bow and a "Joy to the World" ornament. The door opens to reveal the foyer:


The stairway always wears a lighted garland that I accent with bows and magnolia leaves. The magnolia reminds me of my mom, who died many years ago. (Click here to read my favorite Christmas memory of her.)


You'll see that most of decorations this year are very simple, like this little vignette in the foyer.


To the right of the foyer is the dining room.


I made a fruit centerpiece for the table. In the windows I hung ornaments suspended from ribbons (click here for complete details).


Also adjacent to the foyer is the living room, which is the hub of our Christmas activities.


All five stockings will be full on Christmas morning. I'm so grateful that my oldest son, who is a U.S.Navy officer, will be home for Christmas!


Plaid is a favorite of mine for Christmas decorations, so I made new throw pillows from a blanket scarf. The scarf produced plenty of fabric to make four identical pillows.


The tree stands tall in the corner, just waiting for my sons to hang the ornaments. I'm hoping they'll be glad to do that part of the decorating when they see that I've been busy wrapping presents! Our Nativity scene is on the chest beside the tree; this is its 23rd Christmas in our house.


Now on into the kitchen. I'm still loving my green island, which is just perfect for Christmastime.


I made a little country store vignette for the top of the island and hung a live garland and my DIY NOEL sign in the window.


Our huge eating table is dressed with a blanket and a very simple centerpiece that can be whisked away for eating, crafting, LEGO building. . . you name it! My antique dough cabinet holds the Dept. 56 village I set up every year.


Here's a look back at most of the kitchen/breakfast area. The stairs to the right lead to the terrace level. We have a home theatre down there, which is a favorite spot for watching Christmas movies. The wall of the stairwell holds a DIY family portrait wall clock that I made years ago.


Just beyond the breakfast room is our screened porch:


The porch eating table is dressed with the world's easiest centerpiece: three lengths of ribbon stapled to the table, a couple of candles in hurricane globes, and some fresh greenery.


Our porch is not big enough for a large seating area, but we do have a cozy spot for relaxing.


That's enough pictures for one post, I think! Thank you so much for stopping by. A very merry Christmas to you and yours!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Grace at Home No. 231


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party! I'm glad you're here. I can't thank you enough for taking a moment out of your busy day to stop by for a visit.

Here are some of my favorite links from last week's party:

Debi from Surroundings by Debi created a Christmas printable. Isn't this cute? It's sized perfectly to fit into an 8x10 frame. Visit her blog for the free download.


Need a last-minute gift from someone? I always call cash "the universal gift certificate." Andrea from Living on Cloud Nine shares a clever way to present a money gift.


If you need a great stocking stuffer, you might want to check out this Christmas Tic Tac Toe kit from Emese at Pale Blue Corner. Easy to make and adorable!


If you're looking for a spirited drink to share at a Christmas party, then Patti at Pandora's Box has a recipe for you: Dixie Wine Punch. Sounds yummy!


Alisa at Flourishing Today shared four books that help her keep the focus on Christ at Christmastime.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!