Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday Afternoon Tea - Choosing Beauty

Beauty is found when we are looking for it...
Thank you for the kind words regarding my rather cheerful kitchen.  It is the one room in the house that has historically been all mine so it reflects that side of my personality which adores pictures of poultry, the colors red and yellow, 1940s era decorating, bottles of olive oil and a variety of vinegars, great cookware, iron skillets, open windows to let in the breeze, and kitty companions.

I love viewing my home as a canvas on which to paint except the mediums used tend to be antiques and artwork and books and English china and fluffy pillows and rocking chairs and photos of those I love.

It wasn't always that way.  In the earlier years of our marriage, we lived in rented houses or apartments.  I always figured we would be moving soon so why invest time and money into a place.  But as time progressed, I realized it was possible to decorate in such a way that when we did move, it could all come with us... so why let time pass without creating beauty in the home?

Now after decades of marriage, so much of what surrounds me each day has been carefully chosen to create an atmosphere that says home.  While I enjoy visiting other places, whether a week at Colonial Williamsburg or a couple of hours at my favorite coffee shop... it is home that inspires and brings joy in an uncertain world.

It is that way because I decided to make it my canvas, a source of creativity and "art".   I have learned to choose beauty, to look for it as one seeks a rare treasure.  For in this world, beauty can be hard to find but it is there.  Usually found in the simple... and the very young... at the shore or in the forest... on a night with the light of a full moon... or early on a misty morning such as the photo above.

My kitchen is warm and homey and colorful but part of the fun was (and still is) the hunt for the vintagey beauty on a budget.  That yellow utility cart?  It was purchased years ago for only a few dollars at Goodwill because it was so unsteady.  But I knew how easy it would be to fix and after a few minutes of Hubby adding some new nuts and bolts, it was quite sturdy and lovely in all its' chippy vintage beauty.

In my home, beauty is to be found quite often in the work which is done in the kitchen.  By learning to cook well and continuing to learn through the years, the foundation is there to become creative in cooking.  But the same can be true of any of the home arts.

I have had friends who can whip up a cute outfit in not much more time than it takes me to make a gourmet meal.  While others create the most breathtaking quilts and tapestries and paintings and scrapbook pages and other forms of art that take my breath away.  But it may take someone willing to become skilled and always a person who desires beauty

For instance, I garden and my deck and raised bed looks pretty good.  There are some years my front porch looks lovely, when finances permit sprucing it up.  However, when I moved in my next door neighbor at the time was a Master Gardener.   She created... magic.

But that doesn't stop me from enjoying being good enough in many areas.  For I believe we all have the ability to create beauty and magic (Narnia magic you know) somewhere in our lives.  We can all be really good at something.  For me it is cooking and "decorating by tweaking".  However, we are finite so we cannot be masters of it all.   I have learned that often good enough has to be... good enough... or I'd never try anything new.

I read a book once by a woman who never became a very good cook.  Her meals were, as she said... adequate.  But she was very good at creating beautiful tablescapes so each evening her adequate dinner was presented beautifully.  Her family didn't mind that she was not a gourmet cook.

But if she had put herself down for her lack of skill in one area and never took advantage of her abilities in another, her family would not have that atmosphere of beauty at dinner.  Creativity and critical self thinking find it difficult to reside in the same person.

Think of an area where you want to create beauty in your life and plan for it.

For instance, I want to look out my window and see flowers on the deck so when money is available, it is budgeted for blooms and soil in spring.   Flower pots have been purchased through the years at garage sales and thrift stores and stored in the garden shed.  So while the cost each year is now minimal and the work enjoyable... it does take choosing flowers as a priority when there is a gift of resources.

However, the same beauty can begin with one or two pretty plants in the room you use the most.

Sometimes what brings us joy can be very small, we wonder why we didn't do this years ago.  Quite often the good stuff does not require all that much more than that which is... adequate... not some huge commitment of time and resources.

It takes making a habit of looking for that which is beautiful and you will be amazed at how easy finding it will become.  And remember this... you were created to need beauty in your life!  Don't ever let anyone tell you God wants you to dress in black, carry a black Bible, and go through life dull.

Beauty was his idea!  We are created in the image of a Creative Person!  He first planted the flowers and dug the canyons and seeded the rain forest and let man come up with the idea for making chocolate.  He created garlic and onions and olives for oil and all the herbs of the field.  He inspired Rembrandt and Handel and Italian love songs and Spanish guitars.

Ask that God give you eyes that see Beauty where others do not.  Like in a chippy vintage yellow utility cart that is falling apart, or the droopy perennial on clearance, or the mutt of the litter at the animal shelter.  He is, after all, in the business of restoration.

Is there any one area of making beauty you have always wanted to try?  Could it be a God nudge, much like a mother bird nudges her little ones to fly when it is time?  Is it time to fly... to create... to build... to try that bread recipe... to make your own jelly... to finally cut out that pattern... or take that class?   Hmmm?


Thickethouse.wordpress said...

To chose to be creative is to chose to follow God. This is something I deeply believe. And I really appreciate your help in inspiring me. For years I think I was first rather depressed (because of Paul's illness and death and many health issues) and then for some years not physically able to do what I wanted, but I think I am moving past that into another time of being able to be more creative.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and wise post! Indeed, yes, much of the time, beauty is only a matter of having the right perspective.

Patti @ Magnolia Cottage

suzanne said...

there is beauty in truth, and you always speak the truth, thus creating more beauty! your words are beautiful, and i agree with every one of them. thank you for encouraging me to always always look for the lovely, no matter how simple or small it may be.

Nana said...

Hi Brenda;
Beauty is such a great word! So many things are or can be beautiful, and you inspiration gets me going to create beauty somewhere in my home! I think I will start with the hutch in the dining room, make it more summery. Thanks for another great post! Have a Happy Sunday! Love and Hugs, Nana

Vee said...

Such a gentle suggestion, Brenda. As it happens, I have had a project in the sewing room that just wasn't going well. It was ultra fussy and probably well beyond my skill level. I was looking for perfection and got nothing. Today, I took it all apart while listening to praise music and, oddly enough, the time sped by. Then I re-did it on a much simpler level. It's not great; it's good enough.

You made me smile as you discussed your deck some years decorated a lot and others a bit skimpily. Ditto here. Some years are better than others! This year, the Easter cactus is all that's out there and good enough it will be.

Deborah Montgomery said...

This was a lovely post; I too believe we were created to need beauty in our lives. It can be very simple; sometimes we just need the eyes to see it.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

This year my deck has no flowers on it at all! I am hoping to get a few plants to pot soon. There is still beauty out there though in the form of a few lanterns with candles and a candle chandelier. The flickering light makes it lovely at night.

I am in agreement with you on this post. We are able to be creators of beauty because we are made in HIS image and he is the ultimate creator of beauty!


Mahek said...

Wonderfully written
So right I too believe that the little things matter ..
I have written a post on my blog regarding the little things that matter to me
Please do read and comment will love to know about your little things that matter too

Unknown said...

You inspire me. I thought about you Sunday as I was strolling through our second-hand store when I remembered that you bought books 2nd hand. I went to their section and found a cookbook that looked inviting - .50 Cents and then over to the 4th of July decor. I found a cute little pillow for my rocking chair - $2. I felt like I had cared for myself. We have been really struggling financially for a really long time now and we are determined to stay out of debt. It was the perfect pick-me-up. I usually just do without. It's nice to know I can still buy some sweet things for me. Thanks for being such a positive role model.

my sunny days said...

Rich or poor, most times one can make a place for beautiful things
in ones life. I love the images you always use on your blogs.

Deb said...

So true. We all have our own unique and individual talents and we can all add beauty where ever we are! Thanks for this post.

Cheryl said...

Brenda, I see that we are on the same page again this week. It wouldn't be the first time, would it? :)

Of course, I agree with your thoughts here and you have expressed them well!

Musings, Tea, and Me said...

Brenda, I am enjoying getting to know you and I love your writing. Thanks for sharing your lovely ideas. Vickie

Unknown said...

I really enjoyed your post! I've never read many blogs and stumbled onto yours this morning entirely by accident...what a pleasant surprise.