“Riches do not consist in the possessions of treasures, but in the use made of them.” -Napoleon Bonaparte
My friend and I often discuss: “What would you grab first if your house was on fire?” We both have favorite pictures worth saving, and of course, my wedding ring is at the top of the list. She has a memory book that is very important to her, and everyone in her family knows where it is and that they must “GRAB IT BEFORE ESCAPING!” Then we say, “Well, if there’s more time, then I would probably try to save…” I know that ultimately these things are just possessions, and in the end it’s not things that matter. Some people (other people) can be so free of things. Their houses are sparse and sleek. Well, that’s not me because, dang it, I like things! I gain pleasure from pretty pieces of pottery and lovely books. My heart sings when someone makes me a gift, or I find pretty vintage figurines or pieces of art at the thrift store. I seriously hope I never have a fire, but the good news is that most of the items I own, while probably irreplaceable, didn’t cost very much money. One “thing” that would definitely be hard to save in a hurry, but means an awful lot to me, is my collection of Mary Engelbreit Home Companion magazines.
Years and years ago, still in the phase of my life where I moved from apartment to apartment, I started subscribing to the magazine. It was such a thrill to find it in my mailbox – like a special gift. I would wait until I had a good long time to sit down and savor it from cover to cover. Well known for her colorful and light-hearted artwork, Mary lent her special touch to each beautiful issue. Each one was bursting with art and pictures of rooms and homes like the one I wanted to create. These people had collections, and books, and art and things
! I pored over the pictures admiring the eclectic and whimsical decorating styles. I used sticky-notes to mark my favorite ideas, because I wouldn’t think of tearing out pages like I did with all of my other magazines.
Then I decided to get online and try to find copies of all of the issues I didn’t own – the ones from the first few years of publication. It was like a treasure hunt, and it took me awhile, but I eventually completed my collection. Finding a copy of the first issue was especially hard, but I felt like I had won a marathon (obviously I don’t run) when I won the auction on Ebay.
Once I had them all, I lined up all of my Mary Engelbreit Home Companion
magazines on my shelf in chronological order and marveled in the completeness of it. Then something awful happened. No, my house didn’t actually start on fire. To my dismay, the publishers decided to quit publishing the magazine, and for awhile, I mourned the loss of my special quarterly visitor in the mail. Yet, as each season rolls around, I pull the magazines out and look them over once again. Around Thanksgiving, I gather all of the Christmas issues and have a mini-vacation going over them again. In the coldness of January, I find warmth in snuggling up with all of the issues filled with Valentine’s Day loveliness. In fact, I just took out the summer issues to enjoy, which gave me the inspiration for this post. It’s a little ritual that gives me comfort. (The fall issues, with all of their Halloween pictures are always my favorite!)
I have gotten many an idea, and created some of my most special artistic creations, with inspiration from these pages. I realize that Mary Engelbreit has moved on from publishing her magazine. Undoubtedly, the ones I have are such a special treasure. In case of fire, I will do my best to save them from the flames. However, Mary, if you read this, just let me say, if you decide to start rolling the Home Companion
off the presses again, I will be one of the first subscribers, and it will be my mission to write something for its pages.Of course, you can see what Mary is creating now on her lovely website
. I stop by from time-to-time to see her latest art work, and I always love it!