Friday, September 21, 2007

Private Symbols in the Home

Evening Whisper
Evening Whisper
Art Print

McNaughton, Jon
Buy at

Art Print

Kruger, E.
Buy at

Rosen in Silberner Schale
Rosen in Silberner Schale
Art Print

Kruger, E.
Buy at

There has always been a spiritual aspect in the duties of homemaking. Without it, jobs become only tolerable and mundane. Many women new to full time homemaking have difficulty grasping the purpose of homemaking. They see it as housekeeping only. They quickly use up their enthusiasm for the role, when they only experience the material things like cooking, cleaning, laundry, ironing, and general home care. They do not realize that there are ways of doing these important tasks that improve the mood, and make it home-sweet-home; the kind of place that memories are made of. When little symbols and touches are added to the hard work, a home develops a spiritual atmosphere

Cleanliness and orderliness at home is not enough, if you want to have a feeling in your home. This feeling is achieved by adding private symbols that have meaning beyond their mere existence. Someone collected a list of these ennobling things for me to put on this blog.

Our little-miss-critic, who comes on this blog regularly, reminds us that these are "drudgery jobs" and she hires someone else to do them. She only wants to do things she enjoys. She is missing the spirit of the home. She does not understand the ennobling effect of adding the private symbols while putting the house in order, cleaning things, arranging, or rearranging.

To add your own private symbols and create more warmth or excitement in the house, consider doing the following:

1. Collect a stack of letters from your mother or grandmother or a friend, tie them in a bundle with a wired ribbon and add a piece of rosemary or a rose from the garden. Place it on a shelf or table, to remind you of the person and their contribution to your life.

2. Bring in flowers from your garden, or buy just one exquisite rose from the grocery store, and place it in a bud vase or a narrow bottle from your kitchen.

3. Cut out pictures from catalogs and magazines, or print your own from the web, and put them in frames.

4. Display your favorite books embraced by pretty book-ends. You can embellish plain book-ends with all kinds of things, even potted plants, to give them a more interesting look.

5. Get out all the linens and doilies that you never use and put them under lamps, over picture frames, on tables, draped over curtains, and on little shelves. It softens the look of the home, and it somehow seems quieter when these linens are covering the hard surfaces of tables and windows.

6. Add sea shells, beautiful rocks, or colored bottles to your window sills.

7. A candle in a candle holder is a nice touch, and it reminds us that even in the age of electricity, we can still use the same kind of light that our forefathers used from the beginning of time. If you use scented ones, particularly those that remind you of homey things, like cinnamon, the home feels more homey.

8. Put a bowl of fresh fruit in the kitchen.

9. Fold towels with the folds facing out, and stack them in the bathroom on a shelf or bench.

10. Display tea cups in the dining room.

11. Handmade crochet rugs really make a sitting room look homey.

12. Have one of your children play the piano or sing, during the day, or play soothing c.d.s and tapes while you clean house.

13. Hang beautiful artwork, even if it is a print, in your home. It has a refining and nobling effect on the occupants.



Anonymous said...

Now that I think about it, I do feel very sorry for your resident troll. I even repent of the harsh comment I left about her in the past.

She's plainly a very insecure person. She feels that your chosen lifestyle threatens her. Perhaps she knows that she invests too much time in her own self-centered pursuits, and wants to justify not spending it on her family. Her reaction is based on the fight-or-flight tendency; she's a fighter, so she's going to combat the fears that she might be wrong by trying to delegitimize and silence YOU.

I too used to believe that housework was beneath someone of my intelligence and talents. But ever since I was saved, I've started experiencing something called "joy of life." I can have fun doing anything, even if it's scrubbing out a toilet.

I really do feel sorry for women who can never be content, who believe that their loving contributions to home and family amount to less than paid service to faceless strangers (who will forget about them in less than four years). What a shame that the world has come to devalue beauty, love (especially of God), and self-sacrifice; those are the things that truly distinguish human life from mere animal existence...

Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

Great list! I love it.

A list to print out and put in my scrapbook.

One of my favorite pieces of "artwork" in my dining room is actually a matted calendar page. No one who sees it can tell.

It was a Lang calendar from a favorite artist. Who says we can't afford great art? (As it is, the mat and frame came from a garage sale.) :)

Mrs. Anna T said...

Dear Lady Lydia,

Thank you for another very inspiring and uplifting post. I use many of the little touches you've mentioned - for example I keep my letters in a clear plastic box, which enables me to see the beauty of my stack of letters without them getting dusty. I love crocheted items, too; I displayed some of our family crocheted works on my blog last Friday, and you won't believe it, I was bombarded with emails asking for patterns! I'm a huge crochet lover and so glad to know women still crochet.

Paula said...

Some of the wonderful symbols in our home are those items that "were left" by our deceased parents and grandparents--from my grandfather's lunch pail to my father's work boots to my father-in-law's rocking chair. All of these items are so wonderful because they belong here. You can't imagine how sad I was when I put some of my grandmother's dainty handkerchiefs in the washer and they had basically shredded when I took them out of the washer. We try to take very good care of the symbols we have been left.


Kathleen said...

Those are great ideas, Lady Lydia. Why do you call them symbols?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I love this post. I have not been here in awhile, and for that, I feel sorry! I will be coming back again, soon.
I loved suggestion #1, and I immediately thought of a few cards, letters and postcards my Gramma had written to me shortly after we moved away from her. She has been gone with the Lord now for about 6 years.
Thank you! It actually brought tears to my eyes to think of such a beautiful way to not only remind me of her throughout the day, but to share her beauty with others when they come into my home.

candy said...

Lovely post, as always, and lovely ideas.

:) Candy

cjan said...

Hi Lydia,

I enjoyed your post today.
I call my cleaning.... "Cleanorating"It gives me time to enjoy the little memory items I have in Vingettes throughout my home. I also love to leave a room, knowing that it is sparkling clean and ready for the next person to enjoy. I love to leave my kitchen with the sink just being scoured and the floor clean. Gives me a warm feeling to see my home in the best way it can be seen and felt. A guest last week-end said, "Jan you really like to lay out your buffet with Joy... yes, its fun to make life more meaningful and to give your all to those you love and appreciate.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

I like the Kruger, E. prints

and I like your list

when im on my walks I collect flowers
that overhang onto the pathway

I have a collection of sea shells on my wall unit

I like candles

I do number 8 too a good way for kids to eat it

I have a display of a retro tea set that friends gave me on my wall unit too

Number 12 isa a good way to happily get what you need to get done done
although I do find upbeat cds work better

Lydia said...

I called them symbols because they have a meaning beyond just being their to "match" or for status, or just because they are things and you like them. They are symbolic of love, friendship, loyalty, respect, creation, and many other things. they are also emblems; emblems are like memories.

Cherish the Home said...

A fantastic post!

I recently received a birthday card and a post card from a dear friend and they were both really pretty watercolor prints so I purchased inexpensive frames and hung them in my bathroom. They look perfect and every time I see them I think of her. (o:

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful list. It really made me stop and think about how I can improve my home with beautiful, personally meaningful things...It's funny I should read this today, because I spent much of my afternoon decorating on the principle "use what you have". It was so much fun and I love the results.

Thanks again,


Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your list. I always am challenged & affirmed when I visit this blog. I actually practice all of these items (I hang up special cards on a fabric covered noteboard). My 4 children love classical music. But when its time to dust, declutter & sweep around here we like up-beat. Try worship music set to a reggae beat, or Veggie Tales songs or even some classical like Khatchaturian's Sabre Dance. That'll put some joy in your heart & a spring in your step!

Mrs. Anna T said...

You encouraged me to give a final editing to my post about the claim of homemaking tasks being drudgery, and publish it! :) I've been putting it off for weeks.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy having family things around to remind me of the people I love. My son, David, looked around the dining room one night after dinner and said, "Mom, this is such a nice family diningroom." I replied, "Yes, it is nice we can eat as a family." "No mommy, it is a famiy dining room because almost everything in it comes from somebody we love, like the oak cabinet from Great Grandmother Bale, the table from Granddaddy, the chairs from Mimi, the plates from Grandmommy. It is a real family room!" My seven year old son gave me a brand new perspective on what I had always seen as hand-me-down furniture and dishes that "someday" I would replace with "nicer things." I have never looked at my "hand-me-downs" with the same eyes again! Miss Kris

Lydia said...

That is a great idea to have an easy, slip on type of frame that you can disply your cards on.

As for symbols, I believe all families have them, and they are private because a visitor would not know what they stood for unless they were told. For example, in one home I saw an unusual grate, made of metal, displayed like a picture. It was explained to me that it came from the original home of one of the grandmothers.

Anonymous said...

Another inexpensive source for quality-paper prints for one's home is the book section of local thrift stores, for books to be "deconstructed" in a GOOD sense! I recently bought, for around $1, a book entitled "The Essence of English Life" which yielded many lovely glossy prints in an 8 X 8 inch format perfect for frames - still lifes of tea tables, cottage gardens, nursery life, etc.

Other books might be coffee-table travel books, botanical books, a book on an artist's works, cookbooks, a charmingly illustrated children's book . . . the possibilities are endless and the price is wonderful!


Anonymous said...

Oh, if you only knew how much I enjoy comming here to your little corner of the web.

Home is where the heart is, or at least my heart, your heart and the hearts of the dear ladies that comment here. It is so refreshing to come here and be renewed by reading about happy, uplifting and inspirational home centered topics. Thank you for taking the time to be such an encouragement and blessing. I appreciate you.

Take Care,


quakerhillfarm said...

A BEAUTIFUL post as always! Great ideas. One of my special symbols is the garden gate from my mother and dad's home when I was young. I used this in a guest bedroom to create a special retreat for visitors and family. I first painted a scene of an old cottage with trailing roses on the wall, which covers a large area, an archway was painted and then my precious garden gate was placed in the middle of the painted archway. It gives me such joy and peace when I look at this, it reminds me of the great memories of home. thanks again for the beautiful thoughts...Lynn

Mrs.E said...

It's amazing how just a few things or momentos can make a home feel cozy. Beauty is definitely surrounding yourself with things that have a meaning or memory or something that just makes you smile. Homemaking is also something that should make us smile for it is the "inwardly" being expressed "outwardly".

Thank you for these wonderful yet easy ideas for the home.

quakerhillfarm said...

What a BEAUTIFUL post! I wanted to share one of my symbols of home. I garnered the old garden gate from my childhood home and have brought it indoors. First a wall in our guest bedroom was painted with a sweet cottage scene in soft pastel colors. (Find a pretty cottage and then use one of those projectors to project the image onto the wall...then start painting) The cottage scene takes up a large portion of one wall. I painted an archway and then placed the old garden gate in the middle of the painted archway. Every time I pass this room, it makes me think of home and the good memories which we shared. I love new ideas, and the one with using the letters in this way is so special. I can't wait to try it. Thanks again and have a wonderful day! Lynn

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lydia! I always find refreshment and inspiration here! Best to you, M

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to this forum (for some odd reason, it only came through today!....hmm), But I wanted to say that it is uplifting to read what so many others do in their homes as a way of remembering people. Yes, the symbolic nature of everyday things is very comforting. "Dad used that knife...& now I use it." "These are my mother's knitting needles, the same ones on which she knit countless things for me & my they're mine."

Thanks for all the good suggestions, Brenda

Anonymous said...

Wonderful ideas! This was a very nice article to read. I myself have been looking at my home and thinking what can I do to bring in more of myself into my living room.

Being home is such a blessing and it is all about counting your blessings! I am so blessed to have a husband, children and a home to take care of and that is one of my motivations when I am feeling unmotivated.

Thanks for the post! Have A Blessed Day!

Anonymous said...

Something not mentioned here in debating for doing one's own housework...I can't imagine why anyone (who is able-bodied) would want a stranger in their home to do something that they themselves could be doing. No matter how many references, no matter how many recommendations, no matter how much risk insurance coverage by the cleaning company, no matter how thorough one thinks the background check was, something can always go wrong and the stories in the media show that it frequently does. I would choose not to expose my home, my belongings, my privacy, and my family to a stranger with serial access to my home. It's not worth the possible price.

The other, more trivial issue, is that too often these individuals do a less-than-stellar job because they just don't care one way or another. The other side is that involving the family as a whole in the housework can serve a valuable purpose in teaching responsibility. Funny thing about household cleaning chores among family is that a child who knows that s/he may wind up with the cleaning task the following week, will be less likely to make a mess of things.

Kudos on yet another great post.