Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

"There needs to be a homemaker 
exercising some measure of skill,
imagination, creativity..."
Edith Schaeffer, What is a Family

I love this quote by Edith Schaeffer, all of her books have inspired my creativity but especially reading Hidden Art as a bride (now called The Hidden Art of Homemaking) and What is a Family... over and over in the years decades which have passed since the wedding. 

My own mother was a wonderful woman but the circumstances of her life did not make for creating a beautiful home.  It was through Edith's books that I found not only the permission to create... but the understanding that it was essential to the joy of my family.  Which is why the above quote is so special.  A family needs someone to be the one who creates beauty and makes memories and thinks of ways to bring the joy of the Creator into the home.

As this is my year to Create, I have been praying for and looking to ways I can bring that creative spirit back to my life.  One such road to creativity came about in a rather unusual conversation with my sister, Bonnie.  We were chatting away one day when she suddenly asked me if I realized how much work I had caused her last summer... ummm... no. 

Then it turned out to be a rather If You Give a Mouse a Cookie sort of adventure.  She reminded me of the lavender plant I had dropped off one day, when I realized I didn't have room for it in my own herb garden.  Yes, I remember that... I was there.  She ended up enjoying the lavender so much that she purchased a couple dozen herb plants when they went on clearance (for twenty cents each!), grew them, dried them, and enjoyed it all so much that she asked for a dehydrator for Christmas.  All because there was no room in my garden.

As a further result of that conversation, talk went to growing and harvesting and canning and getting together this spring so her granddaughter (now that is a twist) can help us do some canning.  For you see... umm...I have this problem with learning new things so I have this pressure canner that has never been used.  Over ten years old and it has not seen one glass canning jar... or any other material for that matter. 

It's not that I a perfectionist (family laughing in the background at that one), it is more that I don't like the learning curve involved in something new... especially equipment with all those instructions to keep it from blowing up... and knitting needles.

But God has other plans and one must be careful what they pray about... as in telling Him I submit to this being my year to create.  For this simple gift of an herb plant last summer will most likely end up in getting back to water bath canning and learning the pressure canner this year... small beginnings always necessary before they become something more.

I've made another start as one of my organizing projects was going through the fabric I held onto through my non-sewing years.  My sewing machine has been dropped off at the shop and a part ordered.  A discussion about knitting and learning to knit with my friend who has promised a beginning lesson.  The dust taken off the cake decorating kit I bought with Christmas money... last year.   The materials for my scrapbook journal all assembled, ready for use.  A decision to better organize recipes I want to try and then... really make them.

Oh, I have been creative through the years, my house is my canvas and you know how I love to display all things teatime... as well as vintage.  I made the decision to (finally) start a vegetable garden a few years ago and I'm learning more as each season passes.  There is always more to learn about any form of gardening.

So, it isn't that I never create, it is just that I fear not being an expert.  There, I've said it... it is hard to not do things well (let's not even talk about perfectly).  And when you begin... you often are far from good.  Believe me, have you ever had a child learning to play a violin???

I think especially those of us in modern Western cultures, where there are experts on absolutely everything, need to return to being Renaissance men and women.  We need to do without being an expert.  Perhaps that is what I loved most about the homeschooling years, we dabbled a bit in "this" and "that" and it kind of gave us permission to try and fail and try again and get really good at some things.

So, in this this year of... create... I'm tossing aside the need to become an expert in anything to try a lot of creating.  I may only have minutes to work on the scrapbook journal, and an hour here and there to sew, and if I'm fortunate... an afternoon to try my hand at pastry bags and royal icing.  I'm going to try new herbs and cooking with kale and braided bread and knitting a scarf and perhaps I may even learn what all those little symbols on my camera mean... maybe.

Everything has to have a beginning, no matter how imperfect it is.  As my very favorite quote of Edith goes, "If you expect perfection or nothing, you will always end up with... nothing".  Same with not starting at all, if one does not make that first effort... one ends up at the end of the week and the month and the year and the lifetime with... nothing. 

No books written, quilts to hand down to children and grandchildren, knitted scarves to remember one by, no scrapbooks, no memories of beautifully decorated cakes or cupcakes, no songs written or sung, no handwritten recipe cards with chocolate stains, no paintings or photographs, nothing... because we were afraid to start.  How sad...



So lovely to read the Edith Schaeffer quote and enjoy your discussion on creativity. I was deeply influenced in my college years by reading her books. Hidden Art is one of my all time favorite books.

I enjoy your blog.


Rita said...

Thank you for the reminder that when we begin we do not have to be perfect. I'll retire soon and feel as if I know how to do nothing but my job and cook and clean. I use to sew, I'd like to try my hand at soap making but there is this nagging voice that says I can't do it. I don't know's been to long and on and on. I hope with some rest I'll gain courage to do the many things I've looked forward to.

Mrs.Rabe said...


Oh, I am excited for you! What fun you will have!

I learned to knit a few years ago. I basically only have knit and purl but I have been able to make lovely scarves, hats, and shawls and I love it!

This is going to be an awesome year for you, Brenda!

Looking forward to sharing it with you!


G.L.H. said...

Brenda, your analogy of a child learning to play--I get it! I need to remember it.

My husband (songwriter) says something I love: Don't die with the music still in you.

Looking forward to following your adventures. And, Mrs. Rabe, once you learn knit and purl, you can do anything--it's all a variation of those two stitches...


Jayne said...

If you use some fairly chunky yarn at first with some larger needles, that might help you learn to knit. There are only two basic stitches to learn - knit and purl - then you are away. Then you can branch out with finer yarns and smaller needles. Enjoy! It will be well worth the agony of the learning curve. x

Lisa in Texas = ) said...

Brenda~ Thank you so much for this post. I can totally relate. I have been afraid to learn things for the same reason - being afraid I would not be perfect at it.
Thanks so much for the encouragement!
Lisa :o)

Anonymous said...

Yea, a jack of all trades and master of none (well the "all trades" being an exaggeration)...but in our culture tis hard to not be an expert in things, tis true. I am a procrasinator...many more projects around now than I may live long enough to finish. Ah well...on the other hand, we are never bored, eh?

becka said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post today. It's so true that we often think we have to master every task that we do rather than enjoying just doing something for the fun of it from time to time. I'm not a master knitter or cake decorator, but enjoying making family birthday cakes and various and sundry little simple knitted projects. Enjoy your year of creativity and new experiences!

Anonymous said...

I love to knit, although I don't venture too far out of my comfort zone. I read somewhere once, that handcrafters put a mistake into every item "on purpose" because only God can make things perfectly. I don't usually have to worry about the "on purpose" part. But I thought you might appreciate the sentiment.

Also, once you get to knitting, be sure to relax and be aware of your body. I get repetitive stress pain in my hands and arms on occasion, when I've been knitting for long periods.

Have FUN!
Connie in San Diego

The Journey said...

I have pressure cooker, I love it. Maybe we will have to set the guys up with a project and we will pressure can.

freetobeme - Anita said...

Thanks for inviting me to your lovely tea. I love to be creative and I'm feeling that mood again. Reading your post helped me to say "Yes." We have a rocking chair that my husband is wanting to throw away...I think I can make new backing and a cushion... We'll see. It'll take some creativity.

Joanne said...

What a perfect post! And your creativity lies in your written word.
You have such a gift...does it flow as effortlessly as it is read by us?
I am discovering that I also have a desire to create and am exploring that this year.
One is never too old to learn!
Thank you for this lovely post.

Scrappy quilter said...

I always say when you create...have fun. It's God's gift to us, the ability to make some from nothing. I love it!! Can't wait to see this year of creativity. I'm sure it's going to be one spectacular journey for you. Hugs

Lisa said...

Beautifully written post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts so candidly. This post was a huge encouragement to me!

Vicki in UT said...

If you ever get a chance, one of the easiest things to pressure can is boneless, skinless chicken breasts. And it is such a convenience to have, and tastes much nicer than storebought canned chicken. I cut mine in cubes, put in the jar, add boiling water, a bit of salt, clean the rim, add the lid, pressure 75 min. pints/90 min. quarts at the pressure for your altitude. Most people who try it are converts.

jlt said...

I do many of those creative things at home imperfectly but even imperfectly they still bless my family and are such a source of enjoyment. I'm glad you are picking up your knitting needles and dusting off the pressure canner this year. I have found many hours of enjoyment in knitting. It is the perfect take-along project for times I have to wait and cannot read. And there are so many lovely little gifts you can make for people for only a little bit of money and some time. Have a fun year of creating. :)

Anonymous said...

To remember us by..the feeling I have ,the longing to make things again. I put on my mittens now 25 years old can that be possible???!!! They are nearly as white as when my favorite Grandma knit them for me when I was in my 20's !!! Thanks to good quality yarn and her very tight knitting and a bit of bleach over the years they bring back memories and a few tears now every winter when I pull them out, what a joy to have them warm and made with love since she is with God these last 22 years. Good luck to you and to all of us who start on this path this year!!Karen

Anonymous said...

I love this post. I have to make myself move from THINKING about creating to jumping in and doing it. I waste too much time gathering information. I always appreciate Mrs. Frizzell's advice on The Magic Schoolbus: "Go ahead! Make mistakes! Get messy!"


Gina said...

Oh, how I need this reminder! I don't consider myself a perfectionist but I so often don't start something because I don't think I will succeed. Guess I'm afraid of failure! My husband has been such an encouragement to me and is helping me learn to enjoy the process. It isn't always about being the perfect success!