Episode 13: Embracing the Seasons at HomeMar 27, 2023
This is an episode I have been so excited to sit down and write because it’s one of my favorite things to think about and talk about. I think as moms its easy to get bogged down in the day to day and think we don’t have time for the fun and easy and lighthearted side of life. But there is time for the fun and lighthearted parts of life. I think it’s important. And personally, I believe thinking about fun stuff helps balance and push out some of the heavy and negative parts of the world that we are surrounded with. So here we go!
If homemaking is important to you, you’re in the right place!
I’m trying to be speaking and feeding into the heart of the homemaker.
We know as moms that home is so much more than the 4 walls and a roof over our head. Home is a feeling. A safe place. Home is the people, the love, the connectedness. What an honor it is to be a facilitator of creating a home environment for people we live with. What an honor it is to be creating traditions. Creating the moments that will always be our kids childhood memories.
We know as Christians we are called to fellowship, serving, and generosity. The home can be such a central foundation for these principles. Homemaking is fostering the conversations, discipleship, relationships with our children.
But a home is usually a building too, it’s a house or apartment or wherever you live.
So how do we use this building to our advantage?
As you have heard me talk about several times on this podcast, I really try to avoid clutter. I love thinking about how can I make this house function best for our family, how can this house serve our family? How can we not be slave to all of our belongings, slave to cleaning our home, constantly just moving things around. How can our environment at home inspire and facilitate these things that matter most to us?
And this is very personal. Everyone will have a different threshold on how decorate-y your house feels, how you interpret homemaking, how you want your house to feel each season. It’s up to YOU. That’s what I want my message to be in this episode- it’s up to you. How can you make your home feel like YOU want it to feel. How can you use your home to your advantage to get the most out of YOUR life. How can you prioritize your family, your friends, THROUGH your home. Using your home as a tool. Not letting your home take you away from the things that matter, using it for the things that matter. It’s up to you to interpret that for yourself.
Some people may feel like they really over do it on decorating their home in general. Lots of stuff. Lots of days each year spent packing and organizing and stuffing boxes and carrying boxes up and down from the attic. Lots of time and money spent shopping for decorations each season. If these things bring you joy and you look forward to it and it adds to your life- GREAT! That’s what we are going for. If you feel overwhelmed by STUFF and burdened by these tasks- maybe you’ll get some good ideas in this episode!
Can moms be minimalists?
One of the most well known “minimalists” Joshua Becker has a story of when he first became a minimalist. He was spending an entire weekend cleaning out his garage and his son was playing ball outside and wanting him to play with him but he was too busy going through all his THINGS out of obligation. And he made some comment to his neighbor about how the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. and his neighbor was like oh yeah my daughter is a minimalist. She just doesn’t have a lot of stuff. And in that moment Joshua was like- that’s what I’m going to do.
And alternatively, some people may feel like under-do it when it comes to decorating or homemaking. Things can be cold feeling and empty. I have to admit I’m one of those people. I am recovering from perfectionism. The house I lived in before the one I’m in now, I didn’t really even decorate it. To me, if I couldn’t find the perfect thing, I would rather just left the walls blank. I would rather buy nothing than get something I didn’t love because it would bother me if it was a little bit wrong.
One of my very best friends came over and she was like- Courtney, I love you, but you need to decorate this house!!! You have kids that live here! You need to bring some life to these walls!
That sounds like a good friend, right!? And honestly. I needed to hear it. Things don’t have to be perfect. And even when money is tight, we may still have part of our house that longs for a home that feels like OURS. So that year, money was extremely tight. And I literally made a wish list and let myself think like- if I spent a little bit of money, what would I want. I picked out the curtains I wanted and when my grandma asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said, I really want these curtains. I even sold some things on facebook marketplace to get some money to buy specific things. And I’ll tell you, having a home that feels like *I* decorated, has really filled up a part of my heart! We are renting our house right now and even still, I decided to make it feel like home. I’m still pretty minimal with it all, but it feels like home.
So one resource I LOVE in this arena of intentional homemaking are literally all 3 books by the author Myquillyn Smith. She is known online as “The Nester.” She is a master of creating HOMES. I literally own like 10 books and 3 of them are by Myquillyn Smith. Her name is spelled Myquillyn. They are practical and full of tips for decorating and creating a home. She talks about being a cozy minimalist. Isn’t that the perfect combination of words for what I was describing? She says she wants to promote having the most about of style with the least amount of stuff. She talks about having a heart for hosting, WHILE being imperfect, of course. She’s a Christian too. And her books are not only helpful, but they are cute too. They could be small coffee table books or books on a bookshelf. You know I love that. Belongings with a purpose. A book that can be a decoration but is also full of wisdom.
I mentioned her books on Episode 11: Thoughtfulness and showing up for people. Because I think her books are a great gift for someone who just got a new home. Or as a gift for any reason really.
ANYWAY moving on. Some of these ideas in this episode was inspired by her book called Welcome Home.
She starts out the book with a quote that I’ll read to you.
Summer and winter, springtime and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to they great faithfulness, mercy, and love .-Thomas O Chisolm, “great is thy faithfulness”
Smith talks about the concept of decorating your home while embracing each season, through the lens of God the CREATOR, and not through the lens of ourselves as consumers.
You know when you see a sunset and you’re just like WOW GOD THANK YOU. Beauty just shouts God. I love Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
So as we decorate our homes, especially as each season new season approaches, we can ask ourselves -What did God do for that season? How can we follow his example?
Myquillyn Smith also talks about using all 5 senses to fully embrace each season. The typical American consumer may just walk down the halls at Hobby Lobby and picking up 10 signs that say FALL, AUTUMN, PUMPKIN SPICE. But when we put all of that up in our house, it’s only really catering to the sense of sight. And it might make our space feel cluttered. And then when that season is over, we have to have space to store all of those signs. Which is great if you love it, but remember our things take up our time. They just do! So we want to own things we really love!
And Myquillyn says, "how can we make our house FEEL like the season to fully embrace God’s grand design?" Using all 5 senses- sight, sound, touch, smell, taste. For sight we might think of nature- what do we see outside for each season? For taste- can we intentionally incorporate seasonal foods? Smell- can we rotate candles or diffuser scents that reflect each season? The senses overlap here because your house will also fill up with the scents of the seasonal foods you’re cooking and serving. The sense of hearing- can we play some music in the background of our homes? What songs do we sing ourselves? Do we have the sound of guests in the home? Could you create seasonal playlists that you bring back each specific season? And lastly- the sense of touch- do we need thick cozy blankets? Do we need cool crisp sheets?
Ever since I read her books, I ask myself these questions each season.
How can I model our creator’s design for this season? How can we embrace the season with all 5 senses in my home?
And I love that this way of thinking and doing isn’t really about spending money. It’s kind of just using intention in some things that you may already do or own. Some of it can be thought of as seasonal “supplies” that cater to the life you want each season, and not just decorations in your home. Maybe you have some blankets stuffed in a cabinet that you never use, but now after hearing this you may rotate them seasonally. Or you already buy food for your family each season, but now you may do it with a seasonal approach or a different intention. Or a different appreciation at least. And sounds are usually free! You probably already have a phone that can play loud enough to fill up a big space in your home.
And I love that this concept will look different for each person and each home. It will also matter where you live in the world and what happens in nature during each season. What matters is your interpretation, look at what nature is doing in your area during each season, it’s great that each family will experience this stuff differently. These small homemaking things are kind of part of the traditions of our families, whether we realize it or not. Our kids may smell a certain candle someday and think- my mom always had that candle burning in our house each fall. Or they may hear a particular song and remember Christmas seasons at home growing up.
That’s why I think this stuff does matter. Yes, it can be “extra.” Yes, you can be a great mom and give your kids a rich, full, and valuable childhood without any of this stuff. But here on this podcast, I also like to talk about the extra stuff. There’s enough heavy stuff going on in the world. Sometimes I just like to think about the fun extra stuff. I like the magic of childhood and I value the experience of “HOME.” It’s an honor for me to think about this stuff for my kids. I literally thank God when I do things like homemaking. It’s a joy for me. I am so grateful to be in this season with little kids in my home. So yes, there are more important things in life than decorating our homes. But, this is fun. And I think its okay to make space for the fun conversations!
So I’ll talk through each season and give you guys some ideas. Some of these are Myquillyn's and some of these are just my own ideas. Feel free to take whatever you like and think of your own new ideas. And I hope this goes without saying- you don’t have to do it ALL.
Let’s take winter for example. What did God our creator do? Look at nature. For the sense of sight- Winter isn’t super bright colors, it’s a little more muted neutrals, dark…browns or whites. Could you swap out your brightest throw pillow for a darker one? Maybe we put branches instead of flowers in our vases. Literally, could you go get some branches from your yard and put them in vases? It’s free. For the sense of sound- Christmas carols, instrumental piano music. For the sense of touch- winter is colder, so I think of cozy blankets, thicker sheets. Maybe a fur throw pillow. A warm fire in the fireplace. For the sense of smell- I think of warm smells- woodsy candles, spices, wintergreen. The smell of coffee brewing. Some people have live Christmas trees in their home, the smell of pine needles. For the sense of taste- seasonal winter foods. Brussels Sprouts, squash, cranberries, avocado, greens like kale, swiss chard, turnip greens. Apples, clementines, grapefruit. Can you use these foods more often in the winter? Beyond creating a tradition and feeling of home, seasonal foods are nutritious and better tasting when enjoyed at the appropriate time.
The season of Spring. What did God our creator do? Spring just brings the significance of fresh, new life. Flowers are blooming, things are more bright and colorful. For the sense of sight- maybe you introduce a bit more color. You can put real flowers from your backyard in some vases. Maybe you leave the curtains open longer so more light comes in as the days get longer. The sense of sound- hopefully you hear kids playing outside, maybe you can actually open your windows a bit more in the spring because the weather is nice and you hear the real sounds of nature. The sense of touch- spring needs a little less warmth than winter, maybe you switch out your thick fur blankets for something a little more smooth and crisp. Smells of spring- flowers, herb gardens growing. Taste of spring – Seasonal foods of spring are asparagus, artichoke, carrots, strawberries, green onion, greens like arugula, spinach, and romaine.
The season of Summer What did God our creator do? Summer makes me think of being outside with sunshine and water. The days are lighter longer in summer where I live. The sense of sight.. what looks like summer to you? Summer reminds me of beaches, water, “cool” colors, colorful gardens, colorful flowers. The sounds might be crickets and bugs if you live anywhere like I do. But instead of being annoyed by it, just appreciate it for a moment. You’re embracing the season. The smells of summer to me are outdoor citronella candles, pools, crisp salads and fresh, light foods. The sense of taste is probably my favorite sense for summer. I love fresh fruit – berries, citrus fruits. Summer makes me think of lighter meals, more meals on the go or with friends. Meals outside.
The season of Fall – What did God our creator do? Fall is when it starts to get colder, the leaves turn colors and fall off the trees. The sense of sight for me is leaves changing colors- yellow, reds, oranges. Do you have any branches in your backyard with some beautiful leaves you could put in a vase? Pumpkins are a very “fall” thing in my area. If you have pumpkins in your house or on your porch, you’re enjoying that part of nature in that season. The sounds of fall- one of my best friends said to her fall is the sound of football games on the TV. She intentionally turns on the sports channels early on Saturday mornings and lets that be a background noise to their season. The sense of touch- maybe you swap out your lightweight summer blanket for a thicker, warmer one. The sense of smell- pumpkin scented things. Potpourri blends and spices in pots on the stove. The sense of tase- seasonal foods in fall are chili, pot roast, pumpkin pie, apple cider. Maybe you make more things with a crockpot in the fall.
So I just have to mention the topic of avoiding clutter when we are talking about all of this. I do think decorating and embracing seasons as we have mentioned in this episode will help us avoid having boxes and boxes and boxes of seasonal decorative signs. You can’t box up and store things for senses of taste and hearing and smelling quite as easily as boxing up and storing things when we are only decorating for the sense of sight. One strategy I learned from one of my favorite girls on Instagram- Katie Staples from Halfway Wholeistic, is to use throw pillows with zippers and maybe invest in a few good quality inserts. Then you are only storing the flat pillow case for each season, and you reuse the big fluffy insert all year. These are the inserts that I have and love. Even if you are shopping at Target or HomeGoods or wherever, you can find pillows with zippers. You just unzip, keep the cover, and donate the inside pillow. Katie from Halfway Wholeistic suggests getting inserts one size bigger than the pillow if using polyester inserts and getting inserts the same size as the pillow if using feather inserts. So that is one easy trick to minimize storage. And throw pillows are such an easy and relatively inexpensive way to change up the feel of a room.
Another things Myquillyn talks which we have talked a little about are “supplies” for each season. So as the season changes, think of what supplies you might need for that season. Like its beginning to be winter, as I’m winterizing my house- I may also need to locate the ice scrapers for the car. She also goes into detail on HOSTING each season and things needed for that. And how you are actually more prepared to host than you probably think you are. Check out her book for all those details!
And another piece of advice I’ve learned over the years is- as you pack up after each season, look at the stuff that stayed in the box. If you didn’t use it this year, do you really need to keep it? Can you donate it and give yourself more space? We don’t need things to stay in boxes for a lifetime, or for generations. If you love it, find a way to display it or use it. If you don’t love it, maybe someone else can enjoy it.
Can you also do your future self a favor and put the stuff in the box in a tidy way? So that things won’t be broken and wrinkled? Can you fix the lights that are burnt out before you pack it away? Imagine how fun it will feel next year when you open this storage box of only the things you love and they are ready to be enjoyed?
I’m not really going into the conversation about seasonal activities for kids in this episode. I do think that is a huge part of creating memories and forming traditions, and embracing seasons, and it’s simply just fun for families. I talk about that more in Episode 1 Making Things Magical for Kids. So check out that episode for more ideas in that area!
So, I hope you feel inspired to think about how your home can serve your family instead of constantly just keeping up with our belongings and things IN the house. Or maybe you do the same things you’ve always done but now you have a new mindset surrounding it all - you realize you’re creating traditions for your children and a home that you’re proud of. It’s not about the money or the things. It’s about the feeling. It’s about the mom who is picking her FAMILY over her home. Maybe we can count it all as joy instead of chores. And ultimately, I hope you’re going to appreciate more what our amazing Creator has done as he designed the seasons.
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