Posts Tagged ‘Tea pots and tea parties’

My friend Linda is a fellow crafter, collector, and lover of home and hearth.  Her home reflects the warmth and joy of her personality.  Linda put a wonderfully encouraging comment on my last blog entry, which I’m quoting here in the event that some of you readers haven’t read the comments: 

“Your ‘cottage’ is wonderful!  All those authors who want us to get rid of our treasures or call them clutter, don’t have a clue.  I wonder if they ever feel the warmth and love you have painted.  Just makes me want to put a pot of that soup on!!!!!”

Thank you, Linda (alias “Sunshine”, and Linda really is a ray of sunshine)! 

If I have a MAJOR PET PEEVE, it is magazines which feature articles on “getting rid of clutter”.  When I see a title referring to “clutter” on the cover of a magazine, I would (almost, not quite) rather venture into the lion cage at the zoo than buy that magazine!

People who prefer stripped-down, bare-bones digs have every right to pursue their personal taste in decorating.  I certainly agree with the wisdom of giving away clothing we don’t use, or odds and ends that serve no sentimental or aesthetic purpose (like extra plastic food containers).  That’s a huge DUH!  

But it’s incredibly rude for the minimalist adherents to excoriate those of us who cherish beauty, creativity, and the memories evoked by our collections!  

I have never before felt the need to “justify” my personal taste.  But now a bit of justification is appropriate, in the hope of possibly freeing up women who are intimidated by trendy magazine articles—and therefore terrified to let loose and express themselves creatively at home. 

I grew up in a little Wisconsin town full of Victorian era homes with attics—those romantic Mother Lode sources of fascinating family history.  My parents were avid collectors—and they frequently took me to antique shops where I wandered spellbound, with my hands carefully clenched behind my back. 

For me, the antique shops were (and still are!) a treasure trove of euphoria:  cabinets laden with glass and porcelain, the fragrance and mellow patina of exquisitely crafted oak and mahogany furniture, shelves of tattered books, bins of lace yellowed with age, sepia photos of someone’s ancestors, old guns, old fishing poles, old kitchen tools, old everything!  My parents introduced me to the poignant charm and beauty of old stuff, domestic history, and visual memories—and I have never looked back!  

But now we are surrounded by a fast-lane, functional, “throw-away-rather-than-cherish” culture—a culture where family history too often means little, and media-deadened imaginations lie dormant.  In our fast-lane society many objects (which have heartwarming stories to tell about people and places) have been labeled “clutter”, and simply trashed. 

Fortunately these unfairly maligned objects may still be found and reclaimed (recycled!) by those of us who care to preserve and appreciate.  Resale shops, antique stores, garage sales, and even curbsides abound in treasures—some useful and some purely aesthetic and/or interesting, which may be the highest “use” of all!   

Sometimes the bare-bones crowd will equate collections with messiness.  That’s really odd!  Many collectors that I know are fantastically NEAT, because they take joy in their surroundings!  Everything has its place, and artifacts are displayed to enhance the beauty of each room.   

I’ve always been a neat freak.  That’s the way God made me, and I’m through apologizing for it.  Neatness and organization are not burdensome for me.  It would be hard for me to be anything but tidy.  

Yet neat freak that I am, I LOVE to make creative messes.  When I cook, build collages, paint, or design a knitted garment, materials can be happily swimming around me.  For art projects, I spread out on all available surfaces—the floor in my bedroom studio, our bed, and even on top of Dylan’s bed when needed.  Then it’s equally fun to clean up my mess!

When a home reflects the hobbies and interests of its occupants, it’s a relaxing place to be whether tidy or messy—and with young children, home is apt to be messy in areas!  A room brimming with the detritus of family activity is a room that reflects life well-lived.

When they were young, our children made trains out of chairs, and tipped chairs upside down to create tents with old blankets slung across the top.  As neat as I was in my kitchen, our living room, and the master bedroom, I always cut our six children some slack.  Their rooms were their sanctuaries.  Although I insisted that they hang up or put away their clothes and tidy their beds, the children were free to save and collect to their hearts’ content.  Books, rocks, shells, stuff culled from rummage sales, stuffed animals, old toys, and countless oddities were their very own treasures! 

As a mother, I remembered how delightful it was for me to be a child with my collections of stuffed critters, paper dolls, bottle caps, chestnuts, Storybook Dolls, and rocks.  Seeing our children enjoy their rooms brought back the mellow joy of childhood for me.

Today my home is a living history museum.  But nothing here is roped off to visitors.  We don’t have any signs that say, “Do not touch”.  When people visit, they can relax in the serenity we’ve created—while savoring the peace of our vintage, slow-lane decor.

“Home” was meant to be a sanctuary, a respite and reprieve from the outside world, a place where we can truly rest and refresh our souls.   “Home” should be far more just a periodic escape from the “real world”. 

For Joe and me, home IS the real world!

Margaret L. Been, ©2010


P. S.  The tea invitation stands!  You can select the teapot we’ll use for the occasion!  🙂

Although “old” is normally my favorite thing in decor, there are beautiful items out there today—ordinary things worth saving such as glass bottles with aesthetically pleasing labels, especially the olive oil bottles. 

The green and brown bottles and charming labels are works of art!  How beautiful are these everyday bottles and jars, with or without their labels, as vessels for a handful of garden flowers or herbs!  I love to have little bouquets everywhere, in delightful containers.

Always I’m awed by the gracious beauty in simple, ordinary things.  Beauty is EVERYWHERE, just waiting for open eyes and receptive hearts! 

If you are a beauty and nostalgia lover—yet have never sampled the delight of Mary Randolph Carter’s books, try seeking her out!  Her books may be out of print, but they are readily available through online used book sites. 

My most beloved of all Carter’s books is, FOR THE LOVE OF OLD.  Her writing is as wonderful as her photography.  Carter exudes the joy of family, family heirlooms, and that mellow meaning in everyday objects which we all share!  

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