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.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 8 ~ Jill's Dill Dip}

Raw, crisp veggies are a perfect summer snack or side dish. And a simple, yummy dip can make them even more enticing! 

My friend Jill (she has shared some wonderful recipes with us here at Thinking About Home) brought some of her garden cucumbers and a container of this dill dip on a beach outing years ago...and we've been making it ever since!

  • I used to have a non-onion eater in the house, so I omit the onion. Sometimes I add some onion powder. But now the child who had onion aversion likes onions, so I ought to add it!
  • Summer is definitely not the only time I make this! It is an old friend. 

Do you like raw veggies? Do you dip? :)

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream
Week 6: Farm Fresh Corn Chowder
Week 7: Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 8: Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Or two years ago?
Salad on Tuesday Week 8: Broccoli Salad à l'Orange

Friday, July 18, 2014

House-y Inspiration {Nora Murphy Country House}

One day I was scrolling along through Pinterest and, lo and behold, there were my great-grandmother's dishes!!  Well, really they weren't, but they were the same exact design, and I had never seen that pattern anywhere else, so I clicked the link to see who else had "my" dishes

~ source ~

And WOW.

That click began my fascination (obsession?) with Nora Murphy Country House. Not only did I see how she had used "my" heirloom dishes on her Easter table (swoon)...

~ source ~

...but I also saw those humongous topiaries and the vintage quilt used as a table covering.

~ source ~

And then I started nosing around the website and the blog and I was hooked. Totally. And I have spent hours (no exaggeration) soaking in Nora's gorgeous house and photography and creativity. House-y inspiration at its finest. 

It wasn't just Nora's Easter table that was show-stopping. Take a look at her Thanksgiving table. Swoon. (More photos ~here~.)

~ source ~

Same table dressed for Christmas? Gorgeous! (More photos ~here~.)

~ source ~

And how about this kitchen?! Swoon.

source ~

And Nora Murphy Country House is more than gorgeous tables!

It's this house (major swoon)...

~ source ~

...and gardens...
~ source ~

...and flower arranging...

~ source ~

...and entertaining...

~ source ~

...and recipes...

~ source ~

...and decorating...

~ source ~

source ~
~ source ~

...and antiques (Nora calls it "the thrill of the hunt").
~ source ~

And there's so much more...but I'll stop with the photos. If you are swooning like I was (am!), then you need to go to Nora Murphy Country House for yourself and soak up the house-y inspiration.

Nora Murphy (you can read about her ~here~ and ~here~) posts seasonal magazines, positively filled with creative ideas and gorgeous photography! Be sure to scroll through each photo (there are arrows to scroll horizontally, as there are oodles of photos on each page...don't miss any!), and then click the links and "Notes" for more. 

Summer 2013 (The inaugural magazine.)
Autumn 2013 ( own favorite season...lots of inspiration!)
Holiday 2013 (What's not to love?)
Winter 2014 (So sure to check out the "Paintbox.")
Spring 2014 (This is the issue that won me over...with my great-grandmother's tea set.)
Summer 2014 (I visited the site every. single. day. until the summer issue appeared.)

Now that you know about NMCH, you might be hanging out at Nora's all weekend! See you next week! 

(Where do you go for house-y inspiration?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 7 ~ Mediterranean Pasta Salad}

It's nice to have an easy summer meal to rely on. This is one of those busy day meals for our family. It is cold and refreshing, can be made ahead or at the last minute, and takes advantage of some of that fresh garden produce. A bottle of store-bought dressing makes it quick to throw together. 

Busy Day  

1 pound bow tie pasta
1 unpeeled cucumber
1 large tomato
1 6-oz can medium pitted black olives 
Caesar vinaigrette salad dressing
Parmesan cheese (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Chill in ice water and drain again.

Cut cucumber lengthwise in quarters; slice each quarter into bite-sized pieces. Dice tomato. Drain olives.

 Toss pasta, cucumber, tomato, and olives together in large bowl. Add dressing to your taste.

Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.

  • I used this dressing, but you could use one of your choice. Greek or Italian would be good too.
  • We often eat this as a main dish, adding grilled or baked chicken, or salami.  

Do you have a busy day meal for the summer?

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream
Week 6: Farm Fresh Corn Chowder

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 7: Vickie's Frozen Fruit

Or two years ago?
Salad on Tuesday Week 7: BLT Chicken Salad

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

News From Maine

This evening, we all gathered around the phone and sang "Happy birthday to you..." to our precious granddaughter (and niece) Eve who is 7! Eve brings us such across these many miles between us. She is sweet and pretty and bright and enthusiastic and talkative and talented and she's a thinker...

Oh dear. I sound like a grandmother don't I? (She really is all of those things though!)

Well, of course I talk like a grandmother! I am a grandmother of nine! 

Did you catch that? A grandmother of nine

Yes, I am! That's the other news from Maine...our son Ryan and his wife Sarah are having a new baby this autumn! Last week, they sent us this sneak peek.

And we thank the Lord for another little one who will be taught His ways, who will be shown the path of eternal life!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Snapshots: Games...and Truth

After an amazing string of perfect weather weekends, this weekend brought hu. mid. i. ty. No dessert on the patio this weekend. Nope. 

Photo by Kati

But the weekend also brought good things. Kati had friends over for a game party. Ron and I had a date night. The five nearby grands had their summer sleepover with their aunt-friend Bekah. Kid games. Ron painted some more shutters. Eve called from Maine to report that she learned to swim. (Yay, Eve!!) Easy, laid back meals...take out pizza, tacos, store bought ice cream. Family games. A lazy summer Sunday night spent watching old Matlock episodes. 

And reading an essay written by my son Ryan. Full of memories...and truth...and challenge.  

What Would You Think if I Sang Out of Tune?

Every disciple when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Lk 6:40)
The late musician, Rich Mullins, in response to why his songs sounded so much alike said, "That's why pastors are so boring. . .everybody only really has one sermon in them. . . everybody only has one song." Since hearing that, I've wondered what my one song is, or maybe what it should be.

Three years ago my Poppop died. In the late nineteen forties he was a young man of the world returning home from a war overseas guarding airplanes and German prisoners. He and his young bride began their new life together as two pagans living in a small apartment overtop a church, and they lay in bed on Sundays listening to the songs and the words spoken below. Soon after, on his knees, my Poppop met Jesus the Friend of sinners, and he would talk about Jesus for the rest of his life. Like the rest of us he left behind, he was human, but when he sang of Jesus and spoke of Him, it was like Jesus was a person, like he knew Him. One of my best memories with my Poppop is painting the endless tin roof of a chicken house one spring and him singing, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long." For me, this was his legacy. This was his one song.

Now if Jesus is my one song, then I need to discover the answer to this question: Is He a subject or a person? If Jesus is a subject, then getting all the right answers is important. If Jesus is a person, then knowing Him is what matters. It's like the difference between a theoretical tretise and a love song.

Ralph Waldo Emerson asked,  “Where in Christendom is the Christian?" Good question. There always seems to be a lot of religiosity worship, but this isn't worth singing about. I see this sad song every day on my drive to work, lettered on the the church billboards I pass with andecdotes and moral causes, patriotisim, financial advice, and warning about church attendance. I hear it on the religious radio, men shouting with the fervor of a dictator followed by the syrupy plea for money, "You can request this book right now for a generousgift to support the ministry." Now if my one song is about Jesus of Nazareth. . . then His words and His life should be the lyrics, not religion, not even the subject of Jesus, but Jesus the person.

One poet said, "We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand." So I guess I'm wondering what my one song is and just hoping that it's a song about Jesus. Someday I hope that my legacy will be, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1Cor 2:2)

Is Jesus your song? Is He my song?

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge {Portraits}

When I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago with my three daughters and the five nearby grands, I wasn't really thinking of Donna's photo challenge; I was simply trying to capture some candid shots of the children. I changed out my standard lens (18-55 mm...the one I always use because I didn't even know how to change the lens until recently!) for the longer one (80-200 mm) in order to be stealthy. I snapped photo after photo, with the grands playing happily, oblivious to the fact that they were being photographed. 

As I downloaded the photos later that day, I was thrilled to see that I had indeed captured some wonderful, natural poses. It was then that I knew that I had some photos I could use for this month's challenge, "Portraits." 

(All photos were taken with my Canon Rebel T3.)

* * *

Alaine (3) was perfectly content to sit at the water's edge with her pail and shovel, digging and digging. (She did eventually join the other children in the water, but mostly she dug.) 

I edited this photo in PicMonkey, increasing the contrast and shadows. The sky was overcast much of the time that we were there, so I needed to add some contrast without taking away the "feel" of the day. 

For Ben (5), it was not a "sit by the water's edge" kind of day! Lots of running and jumping and boogie boarding and splashing was more Ben's style, and all that activity required an energy boost in the form of a snack break. 

Again, I went to PicMonkey to increase the contrast and shadows.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day! It is hard to capture Owen (almost 8) just being Owen, but that's what I have here. Wind-tousled hair, happy smile, Owen through and through. 

Again, off I went to PicMonkey to increase contrast and shadows. (Now that I have learned to change lenses, maybe I'll learn to experiment with differences in editing too. Some of us take a long time to get out of that box!) 

Thank you, Donna, for another great challenge...and for slowly, slowly getting me out of that box!

Click the button below to see how others have met the challenge!
A Personal Photo Challenge

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 6 ~ Farm Fresh Corn Chowder}

One of the pleasures of summer is farm fresh produce, whether it comes from your own garden, a friend's, or a local produce stand or farmer's market. Our Walmart usually has a large bin of locally grown sweet corn all summer long, and that's where I went to buy fresh corn for our corn chowder last weekend

Using fresh corn cut off the cob made a big flavor difference in this chowder. It tasted like summer!

Farm Fresh Corn Chowder

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, diced
5 ears fresh corn, shucked
3 small potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
32 oz. chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
3 T corn meal
1/4 cup water


Use a sharp knife (I used an electric knife) to cut corn off of the cob.  Set aside.

Cook bacon pieces in large pot over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add diced onion and cook until soft, 3 to 4 minutes.

 Add butter; melt. Add corn; stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add broth, cream, milk, potatoes, thyme, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.

Mix corn meal and water. Stir into chowder and cook for 15 minutes.

NOTE: For our Sunday afternoon group of eleven, I doubled the amounts in this recipe, but the four of us each had a bowl of soup for dinner on Sunday evening, and we still had enough for lunch another day.

Do you even make soup in the summertime? (I rarely do, but this was worth the exception.)

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 6: Key Lime Pie

Or two years ago?

Monday, July 7, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: Summer Food, a Six-Hour Cake, and Baseball

When we count up all of the extra activities, the holidays, and the birthdays, we really don't have that many "normal" summer Sundays. And since we need ("need"...ha!) to fit our summer favorites into our Sunday afternoon meals, it takes careful planning. 

Yesterday was the day for steamed shrimp. I made corn chowder (that will be this week's Savoring Summer recipe), Kristin made homemade Hawaiian bread and a Caesar salad. Good summer eating. 

And then there was the Six-Hour Cake. 

Do you think I am kidding? Oh no I am not. 

Bekah had been wanting to make a cake that she saw in Martha's American Food cookbook, so when we planned Sunday's menu, we put Bekah in charge of dessert. At 3:00 on Saturday afternoon, she began to make the cake. And at 9:30 pm, she was cleaning up the dishes. To be fair, she did take a break to eat dinner and to take a bath, but she also took a l-o-o-o-o-n-g time to make that cake.

Yes, Bekah is slow. (She takes after her mom.) But she is also precise, and she's a rule-follower, and she wanted to follow Martha's instructions exactly. Exactly. 

So when the instructions called for the chocolate to be "finely chopped," she finely chopped. I suggested that the chocolate would melt even if it were not so finely chopped, she said that she wanted to do what Martha said. And when the instructions said that the heat proof bowl should be placed above the simmering water, but not touching it (Really, Martha?! What will that hurt? It's not like you'd be setting it directly on the burner!)...well, let's just say that I had to convince here that a double boiler would do the trick nicely. Mostly though, I let her alone to do it her way (ahem...make that Martha's way) because that's how she'll learn. 

(Am I the only one who thinks that Martha is a bit uptight? Cooking is not rocket science!) 

At one point, Bekah sighed and said, "I don't think that Martha has to chop all this chocolate herself!" ~smile~

Cake and photo by Bekah

At Ron's suggestion, we took the Six-Hour Cake out to the patio. We have been blessed with so many fair weather Sundays this year! On a typical July afternoon, we'd not be out here! Our cake would melt and so would we I.

The kids begged Brian to play baseball with them and he complied. They were thrilled! 

And the rest of us were thrilled to go inside and catch up on photos of the last month of Sundays!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Saturday Potpourri

I'm finally finishing up Kati's photo-a-day challenge! Here are my last two days of photos.

day 29: grass
Last Sunday was a busy day and I didn't think to take a picture of grass until we were at our church picnic in the evening. Among people, I was not willing to lay on my belly in order to get a good photo (I have my limits, even for blogging!), so I set my camera in the grass and clicked and this is what I got. You can see Bekah's feet and legs in the background.

day 30: looking up
Looking up, late afternoon. Sun glowing behind some clouds that looked a little ominous but brought no rain, backyard trees, and the barn rooftop.

Scenes from the 4th...

After Arthur discouraged us from going to our family reunion this year, we decided to keep this tradition

The sun came out in the afternoon and we had some backyard fun.

Pinky followed us around, stalking the bocce ball! :)

Off to the fireworks display in a nearby town where we met Kristin and family.

Today, it's window washing, shutter painting, chowder cooking, and cake baking! What's going on in your corner?

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