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In the Kitchen with Emilie Barnes

I’ve been asked to write a guest post for a book review at Belle’s Library, so I’ve chosen The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes.  If you’ve been with me since the beginning of my blog, you’ll recognize this title, but the content has been changed.

Used by permission of Harvest House publishers.
Used by permission of Harvest House publishers and Emilie Barnes

Sometime in my 30’s I attended an event where Emilie Barnes was the speaker. In addition to the conference, there was a luncheon afterward where women of the First Baptist Church of Hueytown, AL decorated tables in ways that demonstrated hospitality. I wish I had taken pictures. The whole event was heartwarming, and left an indelible imprint on my home life. For years after, I used her book, The Spirit of Loveliness, to create my version of home for my family. Like many others, I believe that the kitchen is the heart of the home, so here are a few examples of loveliness in my kitchen.

Making the Kitchen the “Heart of the Home”

Keep it Fun
When my kids were little, I felt my kitchen was the heart of our home.  We dressed for many occasions as we prepared seasonal meals. The kids loved it until they were teenagers – when that season of “y’all-are-embarrassing-me,” developed; but now as adults, it’s all fun again!
Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

Have an organized and well-stocked pantry.  Keep healthy snacks readily available.

The Spirit of Loveliness


Know what your family and/or guests like and have plenty on-hand.  

I also learned this from my husband’s grandmother.  My children love fried okra and she would always be frying a skillet-full when we would go for a visit. My son loved Root Beer and my daughter, sweet tea. His mom and grandmother would be sure they had both at every visit. It made my kids feel loved and welcome in their kitchen to know they had something for each of them.  The little things mean a lot.

The Spirit of Loveliness

Make mealtime an event.  According to Emilie, there are four ingredients to make each meal special:

  • The Setting.  Create a pretty table setting.  Even if you are serving a ham sandwich and potato chips, use pretty paper plates and napkins.  One thing that I started after reading this book and have kept up all these years is to set the table after every meal.  The table is always ready and it isn’t a chore to prepare as you sit down to eat. Use seasonal flowers for a centerpiece and light an unscented candle. Scented candles can affect the taste of the food. If you must eat on a tray, purchase some nice trays and pretty paper napkins.

For my daddy’s 70th birthday, we did a police theme to honor his 36 years of service as the Chief of Police in our small town. I also chose juvenile party favors that the boys in our family would love.

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

Yes, I had my fine china and crystal in a setting with little plastic firemen and policemen as napkin rings. The centerpiece included police hats, firemen hats, toy guns, handcuffs and flashlights.

May not have been fancy, but my family loved it!

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

The “boys” loved my party favors!

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

This little guy shares the birthday celebration with my dad, so it’s always a double party! It’s important to make every guest at your table feel special.

In addition to the setting, other important elements are…

  • The Food.  Serving healthy meals that are also tasty, says “I love you” in a truly heartfelt way.

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

Italian Lamb Stew

The Fellowship. I like the idea of inviting friends and family for meals to create all new conversations and memories. After all it’s not about the food all the time. It’s about the eyes you look across the table into, the laughter that echoes off the dining room walls and the love sitting in your chairs.

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

  • A Peaceful Ambiance.  Simple meals, interesting – but not too serious – conversation, glowing candles, saying grace and playing soft music can create a peaceful atmosphere.

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

Create a seasonal kitchen.  Each season brings with it new tastes and new decor.  When possible, shop in season for fruits and vegetables, using them as decor and food.  For a list of what each season produces, visit CUESA.

Spirit of Loveliness in The Kitchen

These are just a few examples of how reading this book affected my home life. While our nest may be empty now, never let it be said that our kitchen is bare.  My daughter is beginning to entertain just like this with wedding showers, cozy dinner parties and making candles, candies, and cookies to share with friends. All starting from the kitchen. So, I’m happy I found this little book back in 1999. In the words of the great Shakespeare, “Small cheer and great welcome make a merry feast.”

Adapted from: The Spirit of Loveliness. Copyright © 1999 by Emilie Barnes. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, OR. Used by permission.

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