Save like Nana did. Pretty things up.

This post is about Nanas ability to pretty things up.  Nana and Great Grandma might not have always had much but they made everything they had just lovely.    There is a lot to be said for a woman touch.  A little bit of care and attention can go a really long way.  Many things cost nothing at all but lift morale,  express love and care and bless others.   Some I remember and try and do are:

Making the table look lovely.   A fresh tablecloth.  Some flowers.  A pretty place setting...   

Almost everyone loves this.  It gives the impression that you care.  That you made something extra nice especially for... your family or guest.   

A lovely cup and saucer for your cup of tea.   I get them from thrift stores.  Dad even stuck to bone china. Tea just tastes better in bone china!

Tea in a tea pot.  Much of the time I have throw tea bags into the tea pot.  But the tea post just makes it seem more special. 😊

Flowers,  a nice tray,  a jug of water and a glass on your bedside table...  do this for a house guest too.   Flowers on my bedside table,  especially if I have any roses... I can smell them when I wake up and it is just gorgeous! 

Jars saved and used to store dry goods,  for jams etc. 

Sprinkles.  Nan put sprinkles on her cakes and cheered them up for us.  Icing was tinted palest pink.  It melted my heart even as a little girl.  This pink icing was used like glue to stick small biscuits (cookies) together.    

Clean up your handbag and shoes.  They look beautiful again!

The front door area clean and fresh.  The mat is clean and it looks welcoming.  A wreath on the door.  

Jars of preserves lined up on pantry shelves on on the kitchen dresser.   Pretty tops on the jars.  Pretty labels.   

Remember... lace or paper cut along the edges of the pantry shelves.   Sometimes newspaper was cut into patterns or scallops.   The pantry displaying all kinds of homemade goodies. 

Fresh shelf lining.  

Perfumed lining in the bedroom and linen press. 

Lovely soaps in the linen cupboard to make everything smell beautiful.

Tins.  Everything was stored in jars or tins.  These had been saved from something else and put into use. 

Carrying a basket for shopping.

Sharing garden flowers with a friend.

A handmade gift.

An embellishment on many hand made items.

Little touches that make a difference.  Some are visible... some are scents... things smelling clean and fresh,  the smell of something baking...  some are comforts and some are delicious!  Some things you just can't describe...  a fresh breeze airing out the bedroom,  plumped pillows,  clean windows,  folded pyjamas,  bed time stories,  before bed snacks...  Nana had a secret stash of chocolate!   It all added up to feeling loved and special.  

We can really use a lot of these things and Granny things up a bit.  A cupcake or a note in the lunch box,  a meal for someone who needs it.  A kind note in the mail.   Actual snail mail can be such a surprise and a little ministry to the lonely.   The sight of pretty stationery is one of the things I just LOVE!   What could be better.... oh I know... softly scented stationary!    

It often doesn't take much to pretty things up a bit and it is worth it. xxx


  1. My favorite thing about having others over for a meal is setting the table! Isn't it fun to pick out the tablecloth and napkins and which dishes to use? Nothing that I have is fancy or expensive. The tablecloths that I have were mostly made from $1 a yard fabric and the napkins as well or bought at thrift stores. Just a little time and thought though can make a lovely table that says I cared about you today.

    1. I totally agree with you Lana. Those little touches make all the difference. It doesn’t need to be expensive. Just pretty, like a little bunch of flower. If you dont have flowers even a little gussy missy of grasses from the side of the road makes a pretty display as they often have sweet little seeds on top. A little bit of ribbon around the serviette also adds a nice touch. πŸ™‹πŸΌ‍♀️

  2. Your pretty table setting makes me realize I need to work a little harder in this area. Pretty doesn't have to be expensive and like you said, it can lift one's spirits and set the tone for a pleasant meal especially when times are hard.

  3. I just love this! Luxury doesn't have to be expensive neither does pretty. And effort always has a reward. I love dried hydrangeas they are pretty and last forever. Simple touches are just as elegant as fancy to do's.

  4. I'll never be a stylist but I love pretty things and using the pretty things I have. Vintage linens are my kryptonite, I can't resist them, and love to use them on the table and everywhere else in the house. I use lace doyleys as coasters on my desk. Doyleys are everywhere - under lamps and clocks, the bread bin, the utensil holder, the water dispenser, vases - anywhere something sits there is a doyley. They're easy to change out every couple of weeks, pop them in the wash, they dry quickly and are ready to use again. Two things I think make a house a home are clean windows and a polished doorstep. Sparkling windows cheer everything up; I remember as a little girl Mum washing the windows every week and it was my job on a Friday to polish the front and back doorsteps. Our doorsteps get polished on a Friday now.

  5. This is such a great topic, thank you. I needed to remember that the little things can create a magical spell! I need to go clean off my front porch and mat ;). Hilogene in Az

  6. Great ideas Annabel.
    Given how many people no longer sit at a table to eat, just setting a table can be a game changer and lift the ordinary to something special.
    When we have a movie session with the Grandies, we put cushions on the floor near the coffee table and set it up with little movie snacks. The table has a patchwork runner on it and just makes the little ones feel special.
    We spend a lot of time on our veranda. I have solar powered fairy lights up around out eating area. I put a small pretty potted plant or a flowering orchid on the table as a center piece. I have three long patchwork table runners I have made that can go on the table. At the moment it is covered in playdough creations, childrens cups and dinosaurs.
    Cushions can also take a plain and boring area and make it look bright and inviting.
    There are so many ways to make our homes special without spending a lot of money.

  7. So true Annabel. I did a little spring project last weekend, we had an ugly purple door with brown trim coming off our courtyard into the garage, it’s hardly ever used, but it was so ugly! It got the better of me and on Sunday (with a little help from hubby) I scrubbed it and painted it Monument Grey to match the rest of the house, and by gosh it looks great! I keep popping outside and looking at it to admire it! 😁

    It really is the little touches ❤️

    From Cheryl

  8. Well, Annabel, you hit the nail on the head again! I was just reading a column in a 2020 issue of a British Cotswold magazine where the writer told what it was like in the old days to anticipate a letter from a friend or lover or Mom and see it when it arrived: the stationery, ink color, that familiar handwriting. Such a thrill. The nostalgia of it! But you beat me to it! I have so many note cards of varying kinds, ink shades (deep green!), and style types. I’ll see a design and say: “Oh, so-in-so will love that and think what color ink and if I want to use a fountain pen, as well!
    Every bit you wrote is me to a T! One summer for an outdoor luncheon for some Aunties, I nipped the ends off petunia blossoms just a bit and threaded them onto the straws for our drinks! Two on each straw! So elegant and one Aunt wrote me years later reminding me how sweet it seemed to her!
    We have some sets for two of plates and old cutlery, a cheap plastic set of Christmas dishes with a deer and evergreen trees and snow! Oodles of cloth napkins and placemats. Even doilies on occasion. On Sundays, as a teen, for breakfast before church, we used a certain set of dishes of my Grandmother’s with individual cups and saucers of British origin! I have British mugs for tooth brushes and another for pens on my desk!
    Well, I’m writing this as we start our long overdue (covid and hip surgery) 50th anniversary trip: another visit to beautiful Quebec City for 4 days and a 10 day cruise back to Florida.
    Day 1: Exhausted! Thinking of bed and it’s only 8:35!!
    Hoping to do a tour of the Chateau Frontenac Hotel here. Plus the Hop On - Hop Off bus tour!! Always fun! And the food and real maple syrup!! I’ll think of you!!
    Thanks again for brightening my day!
    Love, Rick from Florida and Donna from N. Indiana

  9. I definitely need to work harder in this area. I'm not artistic nor overly sentimental, but this has made me stop and think about what I can do. We are going into fall here in the US and I have a tablecloth in fall colors that I usually use for Thanksgiving with my good china (which I actually use quite a lot). I also have a blue and white pedestal fruit dish. Now to decide what to put in the dish and display it on my fall tablecloth, starting now...any ideas?

    I do decorate for Christmas although putting up and taking down are not among my strong suits. It's pretty simple but it looks smashing. Besides my Christmas tree, I have 9 fake poinsettias that I mass on top of my kitchen cabinets (which are visible from the living room). Because they are up high, the poinsettias look real. (That's when I take down the teapots and wash them). I have an old-fashioned Christmas tablecloth that is bordered with red poinsettias. I have a set of Christmas dishes and use them from the day after Thanksgiving (third Thursday in November) through New Year's Day.

    I'm trying to think what I can do at other times of the year to make my home look special. Hoping to pull some ideas from the comments that don't require me to buy anything that will become clutter. (Can you tell I am decluttering again?)

    1. How about a white pie size pumpkin and some stems of berries which you can find at faux at Hobby Lobby or maybe even Dollar Tree. I am going to pick up a white pumpkin for my kitchen table today while I am out shopping. I display it on a pretty dish. It will last all through all of Fall and be a delight to me every day.

    2. Lace Faerie aka Karen L5 November 2023 at 01:40

      Orange is not my favorite color, but autumn I do a bit of orange when changing out os summer decor. I do love to display a white plate with ripening persimmons.

  10. Such an inspiration as always Annabel! If you have time to watch You tube videos ever, may I recommend visiting Olesya & House? I think you and all the Bluebirds will appreciate her channel. It is very simple, peaceful and lovely. Gill in Norway.

  11. Hello Annabel and everyone,

    I love this post so much. My grandmother was amazing at making everything beautiful - when I visited after school or on the weekend, she always poured our tea into china cups with rosebuds (I have some of this pattern now in my own home) and matching saucers - it always made me feel special. For family dinners she always used beautiful linens and that same pretty china, fresh flowers growing in her little plot out back and always little bouquets inside, too. Music playing softly during the afternoons - usually classical or an opera (my grandfather was a pianist and they both loved these types of music), bright clean windows letting in lots of natural light, candles on the dinner table, crisp bed linens and a little tray with a cloth napkin & milk & graham crackers before bed. A well-kept front porch with flower boxes full of geraniums and some comfortable seating. Homemade chocolate sauce stashed in the fridge for a little after-dinner treat; using beautiful crystal glasses when the aunts and cousins were all together; scented bath cubes (does anyone make these any more? I have a pretty bottle of bath oil to sort of mimic this experience).

    I've been setting the table with extra care for family meals with my dad recently and have gotten appreciative comments; using a pretty serving platter for dinners with my husband (instead of just putting serves on plates) gives us both a little lift. Putting our fresh-picked produce on a pretty cake plate, some zinnias or flowering mint from the garden in a little mason jar in the kitchen, soft candles and hand soap in a pretty dispenser in the bathrooms, plumped up pillows and extra throws in the bedroom, a lovely tray in the master bath to hold lotions and potions straightened up the vanity and looks very special (I used a china piece I already had); using fresh paint to refresh tired items or woodwork; keeping the patio neat and tidy, with a pretty plant on the patio table as well as the herbs and veggies (right now it is apple mint that has gone to flower - I rooted it from a cutting, so free to me), soft wind chimes on the patio make sitting in the evening very atmospheric.

    I will definitely be following the comments on this for ideas!

  12. I'm not sure how many years I have come to this space to be encouraged and instructed. The Bluebirds have all been such a huge influence on my life and on my family. You have all equipped me to be the homemaker God intended me to be!
    Now, I know you all are godly women and a praying bunch. Would you pray for the McKinley family of Ohio? We have had a very tragic death..a suicide of an amazing young man. This family needs Jesus!!! And my family and I will be going into a lions den this Saturday. May God protect us and may we be salt and light.
    Thank you,
    Leslie in Ohio

    1. Dear Leslie

      I am so sorry for the loss of your family member, and for all that you are going through, and will go through in the aftermath of suicide. May the Lord give you strength and grace and wisdom on Saturday, and show you what to say or not say. I pray you can be a Godly example and be the light, to comfort others. And beware, funerals can bring out the worse in some people, may God give you strength.


    2. Dear Leslie,

      I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family.


  13. Dear Annabel, I love this post. My Nana taught me to set a table "correctly" with the cutlery all in it's rightful place. As a little girl I loved trying hard to do it the right way to please her. As I got older I found I still enjoyed "setting" the table. When my daughter was small I covered the table with pretty plastic covers or clear covers with, once a big map of Australia underneath - which everyone enjoyed saying where they had been. Then I started using tablecloths. I find some visitors are intimidated by this, especially if they spill something but I always quickly say - well that is what it is for and then they relax. Then with inspiration from such as yourself (I remember reading your blog years ago and loving how you pretty'd things up) I started decorating our table too. I have a small wooden lazy susan in the middle, my sister crocheted me a big sunflower that fits it perfectly, on top of this I have a silver mirrored tray (bought on purpose to reflect candle light). On this tray I arrange little scenes and change them often. This has also given me permission to keep some little treasures in a kitchen draw. I have always loved miniature things, As an adult you sometimes feel you should declutter these types of things. E.g. I bought a tiny plastic Fozzie Bear at a garage sale and at the time I thought why I am a bit naughty buying this, I love him but he has no purpose. I then read in a book somewhere that Centre pieces - beyond looking pretty have a great purpose. That purpose is to create a focus point to look at so that particularly guests to your home are not as intimidated sitting around a table - because there is something to look at other than the person on the other side. I have found this to be very true. Some of my husbands bachelor friends are very shy, having something to look at helps (I often do a farm type scene or my daughter has a bucking bull rider etc). Also teenaged friends of my daughters - many of whom do not sit at a table at all in their homes anymore - find sitting around a table too formal, they really struggle with it again the centre piece helps. I have a little Zen dish in the Ying and Yang shape with sand in it and a little rake - I put this out when new teenagers are coming over - they often use the little rake and relax at the table. I was thrilled to find a small yellow horseshoe vase one time and a small trophy cup another time that I put out with roses and my daughters plastic horses on Melbourne Cup Day (a famous horse racing day in Australia). My niece loves dogs - so I put little dogs on it when she visits. I did a gardening scene for a gardening friend. And Fozzie Bear proved he was well worth the 1 dollar I paid for him one night when having a meal with my daughters friends parents - he provided a lot of fun conversation and relaxed the table. A friend of mine moved away 6 months ago. This friend had never mentioned my table, last telephone call she said, you know the one thing I miss the most is seeing what is in the middle of your table each time. That made me happy. People do notice little things, little touches make our houses homes. I try not to be a clutter bug but sometimes fail as I have so many varied interests - my husband has not always been a fan of the center piece. Recently a little girl up the road set up a stall and I stopped to buy something - one of those things was a miniature tree, very small, 3 cm high, I love it and it is on my table at the moment. My husband saw it and said when did you get that (I thought he was going to complain about my gathering of things), I told him and he said, well I like it. I think I've just converted him too after 15 years. I am working on the scents side of things now. I have planted sweet peas as close as I could to our bedroom window in the hope they will bloom and I can have the smell come in through the window. If it works it will be heavenly. Thankyou again Annabel and all the bluebirds, love Clare

    1. Dear Clare, I LOVE the sound of your table. It sounds magnificent. Thank you for going above and beyond, it shows a gentleness and love. Love Lily

  14. Wow! I never thought about the dinner table this way! We always seem to have projects hanging out on our table.... Must reconsider.

  15. Ahh yes !!! Mimi was so good about this too ! I sure miss her blog ❤️

  16. Thank you so much for the encouragement to pretty the table, especially! I have a small container of fall items to put out around the house. Otherwise my decor is really very plain. It helps to have things that can be used for several different seasons! Vases, jars, teapots, and tablecloths. Then I add seasonal flowers and a few little pumpkins, and I don't have much to store! My dishes are plain white, and mix and match. It's amazing how inexpensive a pretty table can be! I'm excited to decorate mine! Thank you again!
    Big hugs!

  17. Thank you for reminding us of the little pretty things, so easy to forget. Will pull out some of my dainty dishes and good teasets.


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