intentional living

hosting for the holidays

Image from  Remain Simple blog . 

Image from Remain Simple blog

21 days til Thanksgiving! That reality might cause you excitement, panic or any feeling in between. We want to encourage a spirit of "intentionality" instead of "perfection" this holiday season. Think about being a guest in your own home this year: what do you notice, how did you feel, what was the focus? We're sharing a few practical and thoughtful ideas to create an intentional holiday gathering this week. 

Intention: your guests will see it, taste it, feel it and enjoy it. 

While there are so many moving pieces to coordinate for the Thanksgiving meal to be ready, one thing you can have prepared ahead of time for guests to enjoy upon arrival is a festive cocktail. Make it in a large batch so you aren't spending time making individual mixed drinks. Don't forget to mix up a batch without alcohol. Take a look at this recipe

Image from  The Kitchn blog . 

Image from The Kitchn blog

In order to plan well, the host needs to know the amount of people they'll be serving. Send a text or email out 2 weeks in advance to get an accurate number of guests. Take a look at this helpful chart about servings and quantities for the size of your group. 

Don't go crazy with seasonal decor. Less is more! Instead of shopping for hours for the "perfect" centerpiece or tablecloth, look outside. Bring some natural elements in to create a rustic and welcoming table. Include your kids as you gather leaves, branches, or greenery from your yard. Lighting and natural elements will create a warm and inviting ambiance for your table

If you prefer a later Thanksgiving meal, someone is sure to be hungry before meal time. Whether it be your children, new acquaintances or yourself- these cranberry brie mini tarts are a beautiful appetizer that won't require additional dishes or silverware to serve and enjoy. If cooking one more thing feels like an unbearable burden, grab some cheese & crackers and have these out to snack on. 

Image from  Fox and Briar blog.  

Image from Fox and Briar blog. 

Shift the focus outward. Your Thanksgiving table can be the launching point for a group investment in a local cause. There are so many ways to give back in our community. Take a look at this list of specific avenues to give of yourself this holiday season in Knoxville.

With just a pencil and paper, your feast can get a lot richer. Challenge your family or friends to take a moment to write out the things you are thankful for. If you want to go a little deeper, try sharing one or two of your items on your list. Gratitude begets gratitude and the thoughts shared around the table will create memories and meaningful moments.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving decor ideas, organizational tools, and traditions with us. How does your family or community celebrate?  

Home as an offering

We sat down this week to interview the lovely Lindsay Heath about her house, her decorating style, and her philosophy on home. If you've never met Lindsay, the best way I know to describe her is that her presence feels like a warm hug.

Honestly, to focus on Lindsay's decorating style and her home in it's purely physical sense would be a disservice. Lindsay has a natural eye for creating beauty but what struck me the most about our visit was the overwhelming sense that when you walk into her home, the pressure is off, you are invited, welcomed, and appreciated.

With a knack for quirky items and for the cast off's of both friends and strangers, Lindsay and her husband Jonny have created a patchwork home that incorporates the practical, lovely, and eclectic parts of life in every sense. One thing Lindsay said that I've been thinking about a lot is that "space is defined by the people who inhabit it and use it". With a desire to make the people around her feel more important than the things she surrounds herself with, she aims for making spaces feel touchable and approachable; like you can enjoy yourself without having to worry about your surroundings. She mentioned that over the years she has come to find that an object can evoke a memory but that she doesn't have to retain the object in order for the memory to continue. Lindsay loves the creative aspect of decorating with objects that can be repurposed or reimagined. She loves finding unwanted objects and looking at them in a new way... kind of like when you find a house that's about to be demolished so you pick it up and move it two blocks over to save it... yes... she actually did that!!! (more on that at a later date) She shared with us that many, if not most of the things, in her house have been given to her and she in turn passes things along when she no longer has the space or need for them.

Lindsay is the first renter we have interviewed and we were especially interested in what she had to say about decorating a rental. Upon moving into their home they were asked not to paint or hang large things on the wall. As a result, Lindsay has used her limitations to find creative ways to dwell and make the space feel like home. Large art pieces lean against the walls, thumb tacks or Velcro strips are used for lighter objects. Lindsay has found that sometimes limits help you see things in new ways, limits force you to think creatively.

We asked Lindsay what "home" means to her and she mentioned the end of a stanza in the daily reading in the book of common prayer. It reads, "May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness: protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing: at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing: once again into our doors." The lines resonate with Lindsay in that to her, home is a place to welcome people in from the weariness, from the pace of the world.

"Home is a place for gathering and celebrating and for relaxing and eating: the really elemental practices. Home is the hub of human activity. The way that we relate in homes can be so formative- be it through decoration, presentation of food, accessibility to objects.  Our relation to all those things that make us human make up a home; a place that can encapsulate all of the best parts of human life. "

Another unique thing about Lindsay and Jonny is that since they were married, they have always lived with other people- sometimes other married couples, sometimes single folks, but always someone. We asked her to tell us a little bit more about that decision. "On a practical level, when we got married, it made sense financially to share the expenses with others along with the fellowship, the space, the being known and knowing. The incidental disciplines and sacrifices of being not as able to hide the things that as humans we are tempted to hide and the discomfort of sharing space have been an unexpected and challenging reward. With the different people we’ve lived with, we always sit down and talk about all the reasons to live together, economic, practical, division of labor, fun -- but the primary reason we share a home with people is to become more like Christ. It’s been a very consistent practical way to be challenged and to challenge others in the comings and goings of every day life. Living with others creates a lot of opportunities to do that hard work. It has been a great way to keep in check the temptation to hold onto things tightly. Living with others is often inconvenient but there is an ethic of being uncomfortable that I’ve found to be a wonderful crucible-- that’s been a refinement of my walk towards Christ."