dessert · hospitality · Outside decor · spring · spring cleaning · Tablescapes

Happy Springtime & Ideas for Your Home

I’m so thankful it’s officially springtime! I’m devoting today’s post to all things spring – from tablescapes to cleaning lists, I’ve got some ideas to help you enjoy this season to the fullest!

Easter is right around the corner, so look below for some ideas for your table and your menu! But as you consider inviting guests over, read this post to be reminded of the best way to open your home in order to sweetly share the Gospel.

If you want to set a spring-y table, here are five different centerpieces you could easily create.

Wintertime makes your outdoor areas a mess and less than inviting! You’ll find ideas to refresh your porches for spring here.

Lighter meals and fresh ingredients are perfect for spring suppers. This Salmon Salad is amazing and perfect for springtime!

If you need some Spring cleaning lists to get you motivated on cleaning winter out of your house, check out this post that is full of great plans!

The result will be something delicious and beautiful, and you won’t be exhausted!

Finally, my all-time favorite Spring/Easter Cake is this Coconut Cake with Lemon filling. It’s a family tradition that we all anticipate!

Refresh your home with a Happy Spring!

gratitude · hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Don’t Miss Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving!

Have you ever gotten past a “big” holiday only to realize that you missed it? Oh, you celebrated with the food, the decorations and the flare, but you got so caught up in all the trappings that you didn’t really celebrate the true holiday. I think we’ve all been there a time or two (or twenty)!

In order to help us not regret “missing Thanksgiving,” I think it’s important to do some thinking and planning NOW to ensure that the holiday will be celebrated in a way that is a blessing to all who gather because we focused on what was really, truly important. That would not mean the lumpy gravy, the squashed rolls or the dry turkey, but on giving thanks. It’s just so easy to sit down to a bountiful table, everyone starving and ready to dive in, have the blessing for the meal, finish with dessert and football and totally overlook stopping for worship and givng of thanks to our great God for ALL His blessings.

Let me make a couple suggestions to help you plan for this time – no matter the size of the group that gathers.

  • If you’re married, talk to your husband about how you could incorporate a time of giving thanks into your day. Ask for his input and depend on him to help implement this (if possible).
  • Consider the food. If the meal is hot and on the table, the time of the blessing might not be the best time to also go around and have everyone share the things for which they’re thankful. That’s spoken from the hostess side who wants the food to be hot! Perhaps during the meal or afterwards would be better.
  • Let everyone that’s coming know that they need to be thinking about the blessings they could share. Being prepared is helpful for everyone.
  • Reading a portion of Scripture after dinner would be a great tradition. Psalm 34, 44:4-8, 92, 95, 100, 111, or 138 would all be good choices.
  • Sing a hymn together. If your family isn’t musical, use Alexa to play it and join in singing!
  • Spend time praying for one another.

My family has had what we call “Puff Moments” for many years on Thanksgiving Day. We gather in the living room after supper and share our blessings from the past year. There are inevitably many tears shed as we rehearse the ways God has answered prayer or helped in trials. The Puffs get passed around the room! What a sweet time it always is.

Plan ahead and prepare your own heart and that of your guests so you won’t miss out on giving thanks this Thanksgiving.

Share one blessing from this past year. I have my Puff ready!

hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Hosting the Holidays With Joy, Part 2

I love to have guests in our home and my guest book is reflective of that, but I also know that it takes a lot of planning, work and preparation. It’s my desire today to complete the list I started earlier this week and give you some tips about how you can have guests in your home this holiday season and do it with joy, rather than fear or dread.

  • Reason #5 why we dread hosting is that we don’t feel like our home is good enough or big enough.
    I can remember days when we lived in our ranch style home and didn’t have a big enough kitchen to host my whole family – I believe we had 14! What to do? We set up tables in our humble basement. It certainly wasn’t fancy, but we managed! I even had to use the church oven because at the time, my oven was so small the turkey didn’t fit inside! But all that isn’t what I remember! I remember that we had so much fun! At the end of the day we all piled into our church van and went to Bristol Speedway to see the Christmas lights! I think if we don’t make a big deal about being squashed together, our guests won’t either.
    If you don’t feel your house is “nice” enough, do what you can to make it fit for company –
    ~Clean the spaces you’ll be using. Make the bathroom shine. Unclutter all counters. Dust. Vacuum. Sweep off the front porch. Make sure the kitchen sink and stove are clean and ready for use.
    ~Don’t apologize for your house! If you start pointing out all its flaws and problems, you’re not going to make your guests feel welcome. Use what you have, make the most of it and be thankful. It’s God’s provision for you. Use it for His glory.
    ~Focus on your time together – not on the beauty (or lack thereof) of your home. Turn on a playlist of instrumental music for background beauty. Light the candles. Set the tables and turn your interest to your guests. That’s what they’ll remember.
  • Reason #6 why we fear hosting is not knowing what to do before or during the meal. Perhaps you fear “small talk” and not knowing what to say. Those gaps in conversation can feel awkward. Or if little ones are tearing through the house you feel your blood pressure rising.
    ~Planning ahead for children is your best option. Have a little box of things they can play with in a secluded spot. If it’s a pretty day, offer outdoor activities – balls or jump ropes to play with. If they’re older, you could set out coloring books, board games or puzzles.
    ~Share blessings. Why not plan on going around the table or the room and having everyone share three things for which they’re the most thankful? Again, focus on your guests instead of worrying you won’t know what to say. Ask them questions about their lives – “How did you spend Thanksgiving when you were a child?” “What family traditions did you family do on the holidays?” “What you favorite memory of Thanksgiving?”
  • Reason #7 – Fearing how to keep everyone entertained.
    ~Plan for some board games or group games for the time your guests hang around after the meal. Taco, Cat, Goat, Cheese Pizza is a hilarious game that will loosen everyone up!
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza Card Game

~Maybe everyone could work on a huge puzzle together. Set it up on a game table and let guests work on it throughout the day.
~Have a simple craft the children can work on. There are so many ideas on Pinterest!
~While the guys watch the football game, have the ladies work on crafting a simple Christmas ornament together.
~Don’t miss the opportunity to turn everyone’s hearts upwards to the Lord. Read Psalm 100 together. Stop and give thanks in prayer to the Giver of every good gift! Perhaps you could also sing a song together. Dear friends of ours always close our fellowship at their table by singing while our host plays the guitar. What a blessing that time always is!

I pray that these suggestions have been helpful. If you have other needs or questions, please feel free to leave a comment, or email me using the address on my contact information page.

Here is a detailed post about how you can be a gracious guest, and also tips on hosting. You’ll find hostess gift ideas that will be a small way to say, “Thanks for inviting us!”

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Here’s a favorite Cranberry Streusel Muffin you should consider for Thanksgiving morning breakfast!

hospitality · Hostess Goals · Thanksgiving

Hosting the Holidays With Joy

Hosting for the holidays can be associated with anxiety. There can be many reasons for that. See if any of these resonate with you…

  1. Tight Finances
  2. Stressful company
  3. Fear of a food failure
  4. Little time to prepare
  5. Feeling like your home isn’t good enough or big enough
  6. Not knowing what to do before or during the meal
  7. Wondering how to keep everyone entertained

I’d like to try to address some of these topics today and we’ll finish the rest later this week.

  1. Tight finances
    The meal doesn’t have to break the bank. Decide what parts of the meal are important to your family. Is it the turkey? Then get a good sized, good quality bird and add a couple of essential sides like mashed potatoes, Green Bean Casserole and some rolls.
    Enlist your guests to bring a dish to help. Get someone to bring a pie and Cool Whip and someone else to bring a relish tray.
  2. Stressful company – Sometimes the people that come are related and might be difficult to deal with. Pray about your attitude. If our heart is right, our responses will follow. Ask the Lord to give you His love for your guests. Don’t have expectations about what they should be to you. Only desire to be a blessing to them. It’s just a day – you don’t have to invite them to move in.
  3. Fear of food failure – Watch a You Tube video by Barefoot Contessa or another Food Network chef you love and watch them roast a turkey, bake a pie or make that great side dish. It’s like having an assistant in your kitchen with you. If you can try to make the dish ahead of time as a trial run, you’ll know what needs to be improved.
    Little things like setting a timer when you put the rolls in the oven, or putting reminders on your phone to thaw the turkey or put the casserole in the oven can help you avoid big mess-ups!
    My best tip is make dessert delicious! That’s the last thing everyone eats and that’s what they’ll remember! If you need to buy a Pumpkin Pie at Sam’s Club, do it, then whip up your own whipping cream and sprinkle the top with Pumpkin Pie Spice to make it beautiful!
  4. Little time to prepare –
    I think we’re all nodding our heads on this one! The best thing to do is PREPARE AHEAD OF TIME as much as you can. If you saw my recent post, you’ll know I’m a huge fan of getting as much done beforehand as possible. Here’s a detailed list from a few years ago about my day before preparations. It made everything so simple!

Remember to keep your focus on the why of the holiday! Don’t let yourself get sucked into the trap of trying to do everything. Make the menu simple, but delicious. Make your home inviting (we’ll talk more about this Friday), and keep your own attitude sweet, welcoming and brimming over with thankfulness.

Are there other stress factors about hosting the holidays that I overlooked? What triggers anxiety in your heart?

hospitality · Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Tithers

It’s hard to fathom that this Thursday is Thanksgiving Day! My husband says I’m “in a tither” with all my plans, maybe I am, but I just know that there’s lots of stuff going on before then and I have to think through all the details! It’s not stressing me, I’m just trying to prepare ahead. I love Thanksgiving and desire that it not be overshadowed by Christmas being pushed in ahead of its time.

Who but Christians have as much to be thankful for? Our hearts overflow with gratitude for all that the Lord has done for us. Every day we see His faithful hand in our lives – providing, protecting, guiding, supplying. How can we not be filled with thanks and look for an opportunity to tell Him thank you and share with others what He has done?

George Herbert put it this way:

Thou hast given so much to me;
Give me one thing more – a grateful heart.
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be thy praise.

The psalmist said it like this: Psalm 37:25 I was young, but now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. This is truly a testimony of God’s faithfulness! I can certainly say the same thing.

What can you do to make this a Thanksgiving that will stand out from all the rest and also ease your tithers?

  • Look for someone to invite to your family dinner. A widow, a college student studying in your area, or an elderly couple who can’t travel to their family’s gathering.
  • Make some easy appetizers for folks to snack on while dinner is cooking.  
  • Prepare a basket of food to give to a needy family
  • Instead of football naps, play games together as a family after the meal!
  • When I was a child, my dad always made a “bunny ice cream treat” for Easter. It was a tradition in our home. What about making a Thanksgiving treat for your little ones that can be the traditional treat you serve every year? How about these Turkey Treats? 
    10+ Easy Turkey Treats - Cute Ideas for Turkey Treats
      Or these
    Pilgrim hats?
Pilgrim Hats Peanut Butter Cups Recipe | Hallmark Ideas & Inspiration

They’re adorable and would be yummy too!

Just thought I’d share a few ideas with you, just in case you’re “in a tither” about Thanksgiving too!

With love from my country kitchen,