As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.




Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Quarantine Cooking


One thing about          all three of us          being inside          all the time 

is that there is time (and desire) to cook and enjoy nice meals together. 

One of the projects I had planned to over the winter was organizing my recipe collection, but winter was busy-busy and I never got around to it. Now, however, time is something that I do have so I am slowly sifting through my loose recipes, putting them into my recipe binders according to category, and weeding out many recipes that I have not used since I put them in those binders seven or eight years ago. In the process, I am finding some new recipes to try.

We're trying not to go to the grocery store more often than necessary, so when we have a heap of kale or big bundles of asparagus or a box of mushrooms, I find ways to use them in different dishes. So in addition to trying new recipes, I am cooking creatively to use what I have. 

roasted chicken, potatoes, garlic, and rosemary: roasted asparagus

orecchiette with Alfredo sauce, mushrooms, and asparagus


I am also taking requests, so I am making some tried-and-true dishes too. (Lots of soup!) 

I often double my amounts, sometimes getting two (or even three!) meals out of one dish or one pot of soup. We also like eating leftovers for lunch. 

vegetable-beef soup with popovers

copycat recipe ~ Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana
(We thought it tasted like the real deal)


If the evening is warm, we eat on the sun porch, enjoying the fresh air and the birdsong.

I like to use my pretty dishes. As always, and maybe even more so during self-isolation, dinnertime is a special time of the day, a time to connect, a time to celebrate God's good gifts. 

 slow cooker pork and sauerkraut


One thing that I am not doing is baking. There are only three of us, and Ron is diabetic, so we don't need large amounts of carbs and sweets. We bake when we have gatherings, but . . . social isolation. (I'm not saying that we have no sweets in the house and I am not saying that Bekah and I have not eaten a whole package of Pepperidge Farm cookies. Just that we are not baking.)


sliders with leftover pork; salad





This is one of the tried-and-true recipes . . . a favorite soup introduced to us years ago by my dear daughter-in-law Sarah. Before she and Ryan were even dating, she brought it to a church soup supper and it was a hit! It is a true comfort food, creamy and full of flavor. I have made it countless times and it never fails to bring a smile. 




SARAH'S CREAMY CHICKEN SOUP

Ingredients:

1 small onion
1 tablespoon butter
3 cups chicken broth
3 medium carrots, peeled, ¼-inch slices
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 cups cooked chicken
2 tablespoons parsley
salt/pepper to taste
 ¼ flour
1 cup milk
1 8-oz. package cream cheese


Directions:

1) Saute onion and butter.

2) Add broth, carrots, and potatoes. Bring to boil.

3) Reduce heat. Cover; simmer 15 minutes or until veggies are tender.

4) Add chicken, salt, pepper, and parsley; heat through.

5) Combine flour and milk until smooth. Add and bring to boil. Cook and stir until thick.

6) Reduce heat; add cream cheese. Stir until melted.


NOTES: 
~ I always double this recipe (or more if we're having guests). It is so good that I want leftovers!
~ Potatoes can be peeled or unpeeled.
~ We kind of like it when the cream cheese is almost-but-not-quite melted. 




What is happening in your quarantine kitchen? Are you cooking more? Less? Are you baking yummy things? Do tell! 


Saturday, March 21, 2020

Five on Friday


What does one say that has not already been said during these unsettling days of  COVID-19? 
  
But here we are. And here are five things that have been a part of our week . . .
(And I really did write these on Friday, even though I didn't finish the post until late early Saturday morning.) 


{one} change

So many changes. And even the changes change daily!

No groups of more than 150 people. No groups of more than 50 people. No groups of more than 10 people! (We can't even have a family dinner!)

No church meetings or activities. (We had a midweek Bible study via email. This Sunday's sermon will be online.) ESL classes are cancelled through the end of the semester. Restaurants are closed, so no coffee times with friends. My grandchildren's extracurricular activities have come to a screeching halt.

Ron is now working from home.




{two} disappointment 

We are not the only ones who have faced disappointment this week! Nearly everyone has been touched by altered and/or cancelled plans, loss of income, loss of dreams. Things are not turning out as we had hoped.

A big source of disappointment for our family this week was the cancellation of Kati's baby shower. We were all so excited to be celebrating this much-loved, much-wanted first baby! The shower was scheduled for this Sunday. As late as midweek, we were altering the plans, finally landing on an "open house" style shower here at home to limit the number of people gathered at one time. But in the end, Kati and Andrew decided that it was too risky to fly. My mama-heart was sad . . . that Kati can't spend the week with us, that we can't celebrate this first baby in the exciting way that we had planned, and that my own "baby" was sad.




{three} beauty

Yes, beauty was also a part of our week. In spite of the very necessary measures we are taking to self-isolate and slow the spread of the virus, I believe it is necessary to continue to notice, to appreciate, and to create beauty in our world.










{four} gratitude

 In spite of the challenges, it is important to thank our God for His blessings.

In everything give thanks; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 
(I Thessalonians 5:18)


We are so very grateful that Kati was able to come home for her grandmother's funeral a couple of weeks ago. It was a rather short trip, but we were able to have some to gather as a family . . . both with extended family and friends at the funeral, and also with "just the twenty of us" as we told stories, looked at family photos, ate pizza, and felt Baby Caleb move inside Kati's tummy. While she was home, the four of us also enjoyed some down time and some good meals and a two-night game of Phase 10. She was also able to visit her Gammy and Gampy.





When we said good-bye that morning at the airport, there were no tears. Instead it was "See you in a couple of weeks!" Who knew?

God did. And He had given us the precious gift of time.


We are also grateful that we are back in our bedroom. It is nearly finished (shutters are in the works and then I'll show you) and we love it. But our gratitude this week is mostly about the timing of it.

It kind of goes like this: If the flooring company who came to measure our space and give us an estimate had followed up with said estimate, then we wouldn't have been talking about our frustration over dinner. If we hadn't been frustrated that evening, Ron may not have remembered that our neighbor, Mark, installs hardwood floors. If we had not texted Mark's wife Paula to see if Mark still did flooring, then Mark would not have come the next day to measure our space and give us an estimate. As it was, Mark was available later that week (while Ron was still on vacation), and so we painted, painted, painted to be ready for the flooring to go down. Oh my goodness, Mark did an excellent job; he is a true craftsman! The floor was installed in two days and we moved our furniture back into our bedroom over the weekend . . . just in time for us to put the guest room back together and be ready for Kati to sleep there later in the week.

What about that timing? (If we had waited for the big flooring company, we would not have had the guest room ready in time for Kati.)

Sneak peek at the remodeled master bedroom . . . 

and the guest room put back together.
(As you can see, Mansie can be happy on either bed, preferring the one on which the sun is shining.)

We are also grateful that Ron is able to work from home and that his job is stable.

We are grateful for a comfortable home in which to be "socially distanced."

We are forever grateful that He is our Rock!

🎜 On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand! 🎝


Because even if the sand is sinking all around, if He is our Rock then we are secure. Free from trouble or disease or distress? Not necessarily. But secure in Him and sure of His care for us and sure of the gift of eternal life! If we have acknowledged our sin, and accepted Christ's payment for it to make us right before God, then we can know that we are His!



{five} grace

Grace for the day is my prayer during these hard times.

Sometimes, it is too much to try to look ahead and plan and imagine and guess and prepare for an uncertain path. So I pray, Lord, please give me grace for this day. Please direct our steps this day. Please help us to make wise choices this day. Please help me to serve others this day. Please help me to walk in your Truth this day



Do you know His grace? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Wednesdays With My Mother-in-Law


Wednesdays are going to feel very different for a while.

My mother-in-law passed away last week at the age of 92. As I have said to so many people who have lost loved ones, I don't think we're ever "ready" to say goodbye to one we love. 











Mom had enjoyed remarkably good health in her lifetime, up until last fall when her heart began to fail. We were blessed to have nearly six more months with her. 

I will treasure the days that I was able to spend with Mom during the last months of her life. 

That time was a gift. 

Oh yes, I know it was a gift to Mom to be well cared for by her eight children and their spouses, enabling her to remain in her home until the end. But that time was also a gift to us!

There is just something about knowing that time is short . . .



Wednesdays became my day to spend with her. And along with simple things like giving her meds, preparing lunch, doing the dishes, and sweeping the floor, there was plenty of time to talk.

I learned so much! 

We talked some about her own childhood, about her father who was a small farmer and her mother who worked outside the home to make ends meet. She told me about her older brother and her younger sister and some of their adventures around the farm. She told me how she started preparing meals for her family when she was only nine or ten years old. She would come home from school and her father would kill a chicken, they'd clean it and dress it, and she would cook it for their supper. When her mother had another baby, she quit school to care for her baby sister. 




One Wednesday that I was sitting with my mother-in-law, I happened to look over at her china closet while we were eating lunch and I noticed the cake topper from their 50th wedding anniversary. My mind went back to the celebration of their fifty years and I said to her, "Mom, that doesn't seem like that long ago!" She agreed, and as we continued to talk, we realized that that very day was the date of their anniversary, and that they were married exactly 75 years ago that day! 

She did a little reminiscing about the day they married . . . how they had gotten married in the afternoon, then went to Dad's sister's house for dinner, and then went to a movie. I asked her if she remembered anything that they ate at Irene's house. She said couldn't remember everything, but she remembers having macaroni and cheese. Well, guess what I had brought her for lunch that day (even though I usually brought some kind of soup)?! Yes, macaroni and cheese! So we had a little anniversary celebration there that day!


She then went back even further to that first day that she saw her future husband. She was 13 or 14 years old and he walked through her house with a friend (they were looking for another friend) and she took notice of him. "I liked the way he looked!," she said.

Indeed she did! And a few years after that, he took notice of her and the rest is history!



She told me about decisions they had made. Mom wanted to be at home with her children, and Dad wanted that too. But money was tight and one day she had applied for a job in a school cafeteria. When Dad learned about it, he told her that she didn't need to do that, and he decided that they would move to the country and buy a small farm so that she would raise chickens commercially for income.






She talked the most about her children. As we sat in the family room, she'd look up at the large photo of herself with her eight children taken a few years ago and she would tell me about each one . . . when they came to see her each week, what they did, what their talents and accomplishments were, stories from their childhoods. Mom was so proud of her large family and she'd say, "Not everyone has a nice family like I have," and "They've all been so good to me." 





I was relieved when Mom told me (several times) that she liked our new house and that she understood why we had moved away from The Farmhouse (which adjoined family property and was just down the road from her). I suppose we always desire our parents' approval, no matter our age. (And I considered my mother-in-law my parent too. I had promised Ron on our wedding day, "Your people will be my people, and your God, my God." ~ Ruth 1:16)




Some Wednesdays, the time would fly by. On some, the hours would pass slowly. But the time was always well spent. Looking at photos on my phone. Rubbing medicated lotion on the rash on her back while she oohed and aahed about how good it felt. Sharing a Bible verse. Talking about the many cards she received those last months. (Oh, how she loved those cards!) Commiserating with her when she did not feel well. Tucking the covers around her when she lay down for a nap.



My mother-in-law had a Leap Day birthday. She had requested that her eight children and their spouses come and have dinner at her house, using some of the food in her pantry and freezer. We gathered, per her request, but she was too weak to get out of bed that evening, so we all gathered in her room before the meal. She asked the blessing on the food and as she prayed she said, "Oh God, you've been good to me." We sang Happy Birthday to her, then we sang a few songs together, and when we sang "God Is So Good," she sang along. What a precious memory!

In less than 36 hours, she gently passed on into eternity. 



I am so grateful that we had the gift of time . . . time to talk, time to care, time to give, time to love. 

No, Wednesdays will not be the same now. 

But I am the richer for those I spent with my mother-in-law. 


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

House Project Goals 2020


I have told you all about our completed kitchen. It was a slow remodel that took a little over three years from start to finish, but we finally checked the last thing off the list.

I gave you a report on how we did with last year's house goals . . . what we accomplished, and what we didn't.

I even told you all about our pesky wall


Now it's time for me to share our house goals for 2020: 





CONTINUE LANDSCAPING and BUILD FENCE     
We'll replace (again) the limelight hydrangea in the bed in front of the house, and then we'll move around to the south side of the house, straightening the border, tidying the beds.

We have the materials to begin a fence across the back of our property and we hope to begin soon! We have imagined our backyard as a little oasis to enjoy outside our big picture window. Since last winter, the lot that adjoins ours to the back has been sold and a new house is being built, so we think that the privacy is another incentive to start on that fence! Wasn't it Robert Frost who said, "Good fences make good neighbors?"



GET THAT PESKY WALL RIGHT     
As I told you in this post, we have another plan for that wall in the dining room! When Ron has a break between bigger projects, he will make a frame for the "Peaceable Kingdom" print. We're hoping for success this time, but one never knows!  



PAINT KITCHEN?     
This one is a "maybe."

My long time readers may remember that parts of the kitchen trim have been painted three times already. (Full story ~here~.) You may also remember that I promised Ron that, even if I didn't like it, I would not ask him to paint the kitchen again. (Well, not until it really needed painting . . . but not just because I wanted a color change.)

I am keeping that promise. I will not ask him to paint the kitchen.

But . . . 

(You knew there was a "but," didn't you?) 

But if we had seen a wonderful color at a restaurant in Lancaster . . . and if I had happened to ask the lady in the restaurant what that color was . . . and if she had kindly taken my phone number, done some research, and left a message on my answering machine with that information . . . and if Ron had mentioned that we might paint the kitchen this spring . . .

Well, what would you do? 



REMODEL MASTER BEDROOM
This is our biggest project of the year, and we're smack dab in the middle of it right now!

When we first saw Pineapple House, we knew that this would be our bedroom, even though it is not the biggest bedroom of the four. First of all, it is in a separate wing from the other bedrooms, so it is the most private. It has an adjacent bathroom, as well as a little vestibule into the wing. It is mere steps away from the kitchen and morning coffee. And it has charm with its angled ceilings, tiny windows, and mismatched closet doors! 




This is what we plan to do in the master bedroom:

1) Replace the tile ceiling with wallboard. This is what has prevented us from tackling this room before now. Replacing a ceiling is a big deal. At least, it's a messy deal. However, Ron did not want to paint the room without doing the ceiling at the same time, so we have waited. But now is the time! 

2) Paint the paneling! πŸŽ‰This will make a huge difference in this room, making it brighter, fresher, and more cheerful. We are painting it the same color as all of the walls in our house. (It is a color match of an old Valspar color, Antique White.) 

3) Paint the trim. Actually, we'd both like to paint the trim in Behr's Decorator White (the same color that we used in the other bedrooms), keeping the background color palette neutral. But the windows in this room are brown, obviously chosen to coordinate with the paneling, and I am afraid that the brown would stand out like a sore thumb against white trim. (Even if we could paint the vinyl part of the window, there are still the brown grilles between the panes.) Most likely, we will paint the trim Quaker Green (as in the vestibule outside the bedroom), although we have also considered the same tan that is in the living room (based on Linen White, an Olde Century Paint color). 

4) Replace the floor. The room had carpet, and we are not carpet people. I assumed it would be a simple thing to replace it with hardwood. Apparently I was waaaayyy out of the loop as far as flooring choices. Laminate . . . bamboo . . . engineered hardwood . . . solid hardwood (except that it is not simply lumber, but a layer of wood over a wood product) . . . too many choices! And none of them seem like "real" wood to me! Sigh . . .

5) Construct and hang wooden shutters for the three windows.  


Despite the challenging choices in remodeling this room, we are excited about having a bright and pretty bedroom soon! And it must be soon, because our Kati is coming for a visit (and a baby shower!!) in March, and Ron and I need to be out of the guest room and back in the master bedroom before she arrives!

(Nothing like a deadline for motivation.)





Those are the projects that we hope to accomplish here at Pineapple House in 2020. 

Of course, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 5:14)


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

That Pesky Wall


There is a wall in our dining room that we just can't seem to get right. 

Try #1
When we first moved in, we hung the wall cupboard that Ron had made for the bathroom at The Farmhouse.

Problem: The cupboard was visually "heavy." It looked like it was floating on the wall. A piece of furniture beneath it would have solved that, but there was no room for furniture on that wall considering the length of our dining room table. Also, the cupboard jutted out into the space a little too much, into the walkway towards the hall/bedrooms/bathrooms. 



The wall cupboard ended up in the library over a desk where it lives quite happily holding greeting cards and stationery.


Try #2:
We tried using the three botanicals that had been over the sideboard in The Farmhouse dining room. 

Problem: The Pineapple House dining room has tan (Linen White) woodwork and, as a totally interior room, no windows and no natural light , so the subdued prints and gold-toned frames did not have enough oomph. They didn't make a statement like they did at The Farmhouse.



Try #3:
This was my favorite! I found a folk art portrait of a colonial girl for ten dollars at an antique store. I ordered two primitive tin wall sconces to flank it . . . and I loved that look.

Problem: The amateur decorator who lives at my house pointed out that there were two girls in my dining room. And that was one too many. "Mom, you don't want two girls in one room."

I knew she was right. But I loved that wall. 


(You can see both girls in this photo.)

When we decorated the new guest room, Bekah grabbed the girl off the dining room wall and hung her over the pineapple post bed. We both liked her there.

But then I was back to Square One with that pesky wall.


Try #4:
We hit on the idea of a seascape and began searching, online and in local shops. The ones we loved were not in our price range. Until one day I found this affordable print in an antique store. Sold!

Problem: As much as I have tried to love it, it just feels out of place. It's the right size, but it doesn't seem to mesh with all of my other primitive/colonial pieces. 




Try #5:
Between Christmas and the New Year, we visited one of our favorite local antique malls and found this print, "Peaceable Kingdom," by colonial artist Edward Hicks. We have Hicks' "Noah's Ark" hanging above our mantel in the living room. As it is, it is too small for the wall, so we took it out of its frame. We plan to have it matted at Hobby Lobby and then Ron will make a frame for it. We may hang the primitive sconces on either side of the print. Or maybe not, because this print is horizontal  (the girl was vertical) and that may create too "long" a line across the wall.


I am hoping that Try #5 will be the one that works on this pesky wall!

We'll see . . . 


Note: It may take a few weeks or more to get around to this project because we are headlong into our first big house project of the year! πŸ‘€  Stay tuned for the post about our House Project Goals 2020! 


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