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 nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

gather. {a happy package}

As a grandmother, it is a delight to gather little things to give to my grands. I have "grandmother eyes" when I'm out and about, and see a coloring book or stickers or a small toy that a particular grand might like. I usually have an assortment of small treasures in the "gift bag" I keep in my bedroom, waiting for birthdays and holidays, or waiting for an ordinary day. Or for a happy package! 

Because the three faraway grands have lived far away for their entire lives (changing soon!!), I have mailed lots of packages. And because I want packages from Gran and Papa to always be exciting (it is one of our connections), I make them happy packages!  

A happy package means that there is something for every child, in every package. Whenever I send a package (birthday, holiday, anything), I make sure to include something for each one...a book, a small toy, markers. And candy. Always candy. (Yes, I am that grandmother.) Even if it is your sister's birthday or a Father's Day package, if it comes from Gran and Papa, you can be sure that there is something for YOU inside! Often we'll put stickers on the mailing box or doodle a balloon or birthday cake (with the appropriate number of candles, of course). 

(Psst...don't tell, but the next happy package will have these Goodwill finds for the girls. Two dresses, original tags still attached! WooHoo!)

I have a happy package that I'd like to send to one of my readers! I have gathered some small treasures that thrill my autumn heart and I am going to send them to one of you! 

1) The little plate that inspired this series.

2) A package of Thanksgiving napkins. The word "gather" caught my eye, but there are lots of inspiring thoughts here.

3) A package of pumpkin spice (of course!) votive candles for autumn ambiance! 

4) Some Sweet Harvest Pumpkin tea bags.

If you'd like to get this little happy package in your mailbox, just leave a comment below! I'll pick a winner out of the hat bowl at the end of the week.

This is day 21 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Monday, October 20, 2014

gather. {cozy throws & blankets}

When the evenings start to grow cooler, I gather warm throws for some cozy comfort. 

Snuggies also do the trick. 

On the bed, summer blankets are exchanged for thicker fleecy ones. 

Actually, some of us (that would not be me!) wrap up in throws even on summer evenings, but autumn is the time to gather them from all corners.

Do it! Go gather some cozy throws! (Or do you already have them out?)

This is day 20 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

gather. {His lambs}

I love this picture of a gentle Shepherd, feeding His flock, gathering and carrying the lambs, gently guiding the sheep. 

Oh, how very, very thankful I am to be His lamb, to have been gathered by his arm! 

This is day 19 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

gather. {spicy simmering potpourri}

You're not baking, but you want your house to have a spicy autumn smell? You could light one of your pumpkin candles. Or you could gather ingredients from your pantry to make your own simmering potpourri! 

I have made many pots of simmering potpourri in my day, and it's a little different every time, depending on what ingredients are handy. 

This is what I gathered yesterday...

peel of one orange
one apple, cored and cut into chunks
4 small cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Put everything in a small saucepan, add a couple of cups of water, and simmer. Before long, your house will smell wonderful! Your husband will come home from work, walk in the back door, and say, "It smells good in here!" (He did.)

You can simmer for hours, but be sure to add more water as it evaporates! You can use the same mix for several days; just put it in the refrigerator overnight.

Be warned that this is strong and spicy! Many floral scents put me in olfactory overload, but since I love spicy or "food" scents (what does that say about me?), I totally enjoy this simmering potpourri. 

So, if spicy is your thing too, go gather stuff from your pantry, and spice up your house on this autumn Saturday!

This is day 18 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Friday, October 17, 2014

gather. {drive-by inspiration}

Because I love house-y things, and because I loooove fall, I make sure to allow time for a little drive-by fun to gather some autumn inspiration. (Actually, we do "drive-bys" in every season, but fall is my favorite!)

The girls and I grab our pumpkin spice iced coffees, and off we go in search of beautiful houses and pretty fall wreaths and pots of mums and piles of pumpkins. Often we find that the most "beautiful" homes are not the biggest or grandest, but the ones that are welcoming and well-loved. 

I loved the little pumpkin line-up over this transom window. Of course, I am also swooning over the color of the trim and that molding and those lanterns. 

This porch looks inviting, doesn't it? Maybe I'd sip a cup of apple cider on a crisp autumn evening. 

The yellow door pops, and works well with autumn color.

This is one of our favorite houses in any season!

Lancaster County offers lots in the way of house-y inspiration! Those folks do autumn well!

Love me a pile of pumpkins!

How about those window boxes filled with autumn bounty?

I saved my favorite drive-by shot for last.

This is a house on our regular route through a nearby town, but as we drove past that day, taking in all the fall decor, we noticed a little something extra special. Do you see him? 

I wonder how much they had to pay him to decorate their autumn porch?! Perfect! 

Do you ever go on rambling drives, looking for house-y goodness?

This is day 17 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

gather. {for morning time}

Gathering for Morning Time is one of my favorite parts of our homeschool day.

In the first year of my blog, I talked about Morning Time...what it is, how we do it, and why we do it:

Several years ago, I stumbled across an idea that breathed new life into our homeschool. “Morning Time” has become an anticipated and much-loved part of our day, and I believe that we are all the richer for it.

It is a simple idea, and yet it is profound. I first read about “Morning Time” one summer on Cindy Rollins’ blog, Ordo Amoris (which is always full of mind food). She wrote about the benefits her family has reaped by dedicating a small amount time each morning to learning the things that she had deemed important. Cindy shared this childhood poem to illustrate what she was trying to accomplish:
Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean,
And the beauteous land.
She wrote,
My Morning Time is a way to collect little grains of sand. It should not be a way to complicate life but a way to simplify it.

When I read this, I knew that this was something I wanted to do! You see, there were things that I wanted my children to learn (actually, I wanted to learn too!), but they were things that were too often overlooked or put off for another time. I wanted my girls to know the words to “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”, to recite Psalm 100, to recognize Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, to recite “The Swing,” to begin each day with the Living Word...and “Morning Time” seemed to hold an answer. So come the beginning of our new school year, we gave it a try. And, several years later, it remains an integral part of our day and (I am repeating myself here) we are all the richer for it.

Homeschooling mom, if you want your students to memorize Scripture or view great art or read poetry or learn Shakespeare, consider setting aside a bit of time each day for your own Morning Time. (Yours can look entirely different from ours; you will include those things that you deem important.)

Our Morning Time for this autumn looks something like this...

This year we will be reading through various books in the Bible that correlate with our ancient history studies. Currently we are reading Genesis.

First verse of the year: Galatians 2:20. (We will continue to review Romans 8 from time to time.) 

We are learning "I Sing the Mighty Power of God" by Isaac Watts.  We aim at memorization which usually takes 6 to 8 weeks per hymn.

Each of us recites the poem we're memorizing. Bekah has almost mastered “The Mirror” by A. A. Milne. She'll soon be ready to chose another poem. I am learning Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" and I am by no means ready to move on.  

I choose a poet to study for a time. We read a selected work of our chosen poet two or three days in a row and sometimes read a biography. Our poet for this term is William Shakespeare and we are reading from Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare.  

This term we are listening to the music of Niccolo Paganini. We are reading Paganini: Master of Strings by Opal Wheeler.

We began this year (actually during our summer break) to study the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. Kristin was teaching a unit on FLW to her children, and invited Bekah to join in some of the activities. (She was thrilled! One of the activities was to design a house!) She was so interested, we checked out a few books from the library, and watched a Ken Burns documentary on Wright. 

Currently, we are studying the art of Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  Because we have recently read about the Tower of Babel, I have chosen his interpretation of the Tower as our first Bruegel painting. We are also reading What Makes a Bruegel a Bruegel?

The Tower of Babel
Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1563

And that's our Morning Time plan for this term.  Small investment, great returns!

This is day 16 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

gather. {pumpkin fool}

I have talked about pumpkins so often recently, that you probably think that I am the "pumpkin fool" referred to in the title of this post! But, although that may apply, the fool that I am talking about today is a super easy dessert. 

(Fool: a cold dessert made of pureed fruit mixed or served with cream or custard.)

Last evening, I gathered the ingredients for pumpkin fool using a recipe from a November 1988 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. Although I used to make this often (I even served it as a Thanksgiving dessert a few times), it had been so long that neither Kati nor Bekah had ever eaten it. 

I whipped up the dessert before I cooked dinner. I put four servings in dessert dishes from my Aunt Lynn, placed them on a wooden tray, grabbed this charming vintage table cloth (given to me by my dear friend Frances who knows me well), and took it out on the patio to catch some evening light for my photos. 

The girls were returning from a walk in the woods and Ron was in his shop working on a project, so after the photo session, we got all crazy and ate dessert first! (I suppose we were pumpkin fools!)

serves 8

2 cups whipping cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 30-oz. can pumpkin pie filling (not pumpkin puree)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 square semi-sweet chocolate, grated

* * *

In small bowl, with mixer on medium speed (I use my stand mixer), beat cream, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla until stiff. 

In large bowl, mix pumpkin pie filling, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

Fold whipped cream into pumpkin mixture to create a marbled effect. 

Spoon mixture into dessert glasses or bowls. Garnish with grated chocolate.
Refrigerate until ready to serve.

This is day 15 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

gather. {to celebrate}

If you've read here very long, you know that we love to celebrate...and we never miss a birthday!

On Sunday, we gathered to celebrate my dad's birthday.  

The candles were "sparkling" candles. 
I hadn't really thought about what that meant. 
I simply liked that they were colorful and skinny and taller than the average birthday candle.

But when Gampy tried to blow them out, those crazy candles surprised us all and kept coming back!!
Birthday surprises can be fun! :)

Did you notice in the photos how his great-grandchildren are gathered around my dad, fully participating in the candle-blowing and the birthday-singing and the gift-opening and the card-sharing?

It brought to my mind this verse from Scripture...

"Children's children are the crown of old men."
Proverbs 17:6

We are never sorry that we took the time to gather in celebration!

(If you'd like to read more about celebrations and how we do them, 
you might want to read my 2013 series CeLeBRaTe!!)

This is day 14 in the series gather.  Click ~here~ to see more.

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