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.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Jump for Joy"

I have been reading Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain H. Murray. Telling of the end of Amy's life, Murray says this...

A mournful life was far from Amy's conception of what a Christian's ought to be. To one of her nurses, about to leave on furlough, she said, "We won't meet again in this world. When you hear I have gone, jump for joy."

 This is how I want to live...and die!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Planning a Dessert Buffet

Some of you were curious about the details of the party that we hosted earlier this month. Although I certainly don't consider myself a party expert, I can carry you through my thought process as I planned for our dessert buffet.

The purpose of this party was to thank all of the generous people who had helped us when we moved back in April. Our original thought was to have a backyard barbecue sometime during the summer. But we were so busy with settling in and painting and oodles of birthdays (including Ron's big surprise party), that we never did get around to it. Rather than putting it off until the "perfect" time (which we all know never comes), we adjusted our expectations and planned to have a dessert buffet.

Here are my pointers for hosting a dessert buffet:

Design an invitation.

I made up an invitation (using PicMonkey) and, in 21st century style, sent them out to our friends and family via Facebook message or email. I could have invited by phone or in person, but I think it's helpful for guests to have an invitation for reference and reminder.

I used one of my own fall-inspired photos, and added text. I decided to include RSVP information so that we would have an idea of how many people to expect.

Choose a theme.

Every party doesn't need a theme, but I am a theme kind of gal. (I got it honest. Right, Mom?) I kept this one easy and went seasonal. Autumn is my, a sweet friend gave me some darling fall-themed paper products for my birthday. Perfect!

Plan for different flavors.

Even though we were serving desserts, we needed a variety of tastes. We considered some typically autumn flavors (pumpkin, apple, pear, cranberry, gingerbread) as well as classic flavors. (Think chocolate, which is always in season!) 

Plan for different shapes, forms, and textures.

We didn't want our spread to be visually boring, so we planned for no two desserts to be in the same shape. Possibilities were cupcakes, cakes, pies, tarts, something in ramekins, cookies, or bars. 

With those elements in mind, we tried to coordinate the different flavors with the different forms.  In addition, because we had a lot to prepare in an already busy week, I wanted for most of the recipes to be our "standards," those that are tried and true. We also needed to consider the number of people. If everyone came, we would have 47, so we would need plenty of choices! (We actually had 41 people at our dessert buffet.) We also needed to consider that there were quite a few children, which influenced us to include two different cookies.

The girls and I sat down with paper and pencil and we brainstormed! It was a bit of a logic puzzle!

These are the desserts we chose to serve: 

(Kati usually makes this as a layer cake, but for variety of form, she made cupcakes.)

Chocolate Chip Scones

This one was not "tried and true." It was the first time that Bekah made it, but it was a success!

Decorated Shortbread Cookies
This recipe...without the red food coloring. And in a leaf shape instead of a heart. 
With autumn sprinkles instead of chocolate drizzle.
But it really is the same recipe. :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cheesecake Tarts w/ Blackberry Garnish
This recipe...put atop a graham cracker crust in a ramekin.

(Two of them, actually.)

These choices meant that I didn't make a pear tart or cranberry upside down cake or spicy hermit bars, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Make your decisions and then get to work!

Display artfully.

Vary the heights of your serving pieces. Elevate some desserts with pedestals. Place some on low plates or platters.

Use baskets for different heights and textures. Layer cloth or paper napkins for color and texture. Use doilies and/or decorated cupcake liners.

Make labels, so that guests won't need to guess. I typed the name of each one of my desserts in a PicMonkey design, choosing a font that was easy to replicate, then used it as a guide, copying it freehand. Of course, you could simply use your best handwriting...or even print them out.

The font I used as a model: Simon Script

Sneak in a little savory. 

I am the kind of person who likes a little salty to offset the sweet, so we included a few small savory offerings in our buffet: some mixed nuts, hummus and pita chips, cheese straws, a platter of salami and cheese, and a basket of crackers. We did not label these, as they were "extras."

Make a schedule of tasks. 

Because it was a busy week, we needed to plan what would be done and when. As Kati is working full time now, she was assigned only one dessert. Some things (cookies, fudge) could be done earlier in the week and either frozen, refrigerated, or put in tins. Some things (cheesecake tarts) needed to be prepared at the last minute. A few things were optional, only done if there was time. We had to stagger baking so that we weren't in each other's way. (This was before the double oven range was installed!)

With all of this in mind, I printed out a calendar and we wrote each task on the day and the time of day (morning, afternoon, or evening) it was to be done and who was to do it. This may sound extreme, but I know myself and I didn't want to risk ruining the party by procrastination and rushing around at the last minute. Having it all there in black and white gave order and direction to the week. (Plus, I love to check things off!) 

Have fun!

On the day of the party, enjoy the fact that you have planned well. Play around with your table displays, trying this and that until it pleases your eye. (We rearranged food several times before it all clicked!) Most importantly, focus on your guests and how much fun they will have because you have chosen to invite them and bless them!


Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Tabernacle of God is With Men"

Last evening, we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with our son Ryan and his family. They have built a Sukkah on their back deck and we shared a meal with them. 

As Christians, we celebrated Jesus, who is our tabernacle, our dwelling place, our God!

I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. 

Revelation 21: 3,4

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Week in Review {Bookended with Parties}

Ron was off last week. In stark contrast to his October vacation last year (which he "mostly spent in the recliner with his foot propped up"), this year he was as busy as a bee! The week was full of house projects and was bookended by parties on both weekends!

On October 1st, we hosted a "Thank the Movers" party. Many people had worked so hard to help us with our move back in April...from packing to providing meals to lots of pulling and hauling (literally). We wanted to express our thanks in some small way, so we decided to host a dessert buffet for all the movers and their families. (Some of you wondered about the details of the party. I'm working on a post in which I let you into my brain as I pondered and planned.)

When Monday morning rolled around, the projects began!

The main goal for the week was to take out the cooktop in our kitchen and replace it with the double oven range that we had brought with us from The Farmhouse. We had purchased the new range last Thanksgiving week after the oven door broke on our twenty-five-year-old range. For years, Ron had talked about having a double oven and we had only had it for five months when we moved, so it was the one appliance that we brought with us. It had been biding its time in the garage since April, but we knew that we wanted the new range in time for Thanksgiving.

We (and when I say "we" I mean Ron) had to take out the cooktop, remove a lower cabinet, run a new wire, remove the lower exhaust vent, patch the wall and siding, and cut out part of the countertop to make room for the range. By mid-week, we went from this...

to this. 

There is lots more that we want to do in our kitchen, but we'll chip away at it one project at a time. For now, I am thrilled to have my range!

Other projects of the week included laying mulch, planting a crepe myrtle tree, repairing a drain pipe, replacing a piece of fascia on the garage, and some exterior painting (lamp post, garage door, fascia).

(Unplanned project: Going to the paint store THREE times before getting the color right!)

On Sunday, it was back to party mode as we celebrated the October birthdays:

my dad's 79th

and our grandson Ben's 8th.

The boys got a kick out of the tiny guest (beggar). Maddie gave her some vegetable beef soup (although not at the table). :)

Macie's "bunny face" 

As we enjoy this autumn season and all its joys - days for work, days for celebration - I can't help but think back to last autumn and what we were doing and what was yet to come. So much has changed, but the Lord has been faithful!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning
James 1: 2-4, 17

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Confessions of a Hostess

I'll let you eavesdrop on the conversations that I have with myself. 

When I first plan a party:
"Oh, this is going to be such fun!!"

When I send out my invitations:
"Oh, this is going to be such fun!!"

The few days before the party:
"What was I thinking?! How am I going to get everything done? I need to clean! And my family still wants dinner every night and there's laundry to do. And I have to take Bekah to PE and choir and get ready for our Keepers at Home club. How am I going to get everything done?!"

The day of the party:
"Oh, this is going to be such fun!!"

At the party: 
"Oh my goodness, this is fun!!"

Because hosting is always worth it!

Friday, September 30, 2016

Media Cabinet Makeover {DIY Paint Color}

At The Farmhouse, the television sat in a place that was designed for it: between the built-in bookshelves, in front of a window.

But we couldn't bring the built-in shelf along with us, so we were in a quandary about where to put the television in the new house. I was so excited about having a fireplace and mantle, and I wanted that to be the focal point of the room. I did not want to ruin that space (and miss all of those decorating possibilities) with a screen. Before we moved, I arranged the furniture over and over in my head (finagle the book shelves to accommodate media? set the television on a table with the other "stuff" on an old wooden box or a stool underneath?), but nothing seemed right.

We eventually decided that Ron should build a tall media cabinet, with doors to hide all the "ugly stuff" when not in use. But...we have projects galore, and this one would need to wait.

Then Kati's eagle eyes spotted this piece at a barn sale.

Yes, it was turquoise (which is a lovely color...but not with my decor!), but it was $49! Sold!

We brought it home and set up all the media components, put the baskets of DVDs and Wii remotes inside, and there it sat for several months waiting to be transformed (and sticking out like a sore thumb)

I suppose it was okay that it took me a while to get around to it, because that gave me time to choose a paint color. Black? Tan? Barn red? Red over tan? Red over black? Tan over black? Green? (Yes, I really did consider all of those options.) Then one day I saw a photo online of a blanket chest painted in a brownish red and I loved it. Later that same day, I visited a friend and she had a jelly cupboard that was also brownish red, and I knew that that was the color for my media stand. The only problem was that I didn't have a paint strip or a color name to go by.

Here's what I did:

1) Got out a bunch of my craft paints.

2) Mixed and swirled on a paper plate until I had several possibilities.

3) Painted the possibilities on a wooden paint paddle.

4) Took my paint paddle to Home Depot (I clearly marked the chosen color on the paddle) and had them use their spectrophotometer to create a paint in my very own custom color!

I felt like a bona fide decorator...and you can too!

Do you have anything that needs a paint makeover? Have you ever considered creating your own paint color? 

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