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.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Weekend Snapshots: Reflection

Last year, we placed mums and pumpkins on our front step and on the patio as usual. And then we had a year that was anything BUT usual. 

One year ago yesterday, Ron had the surgery that was the beginning of a season of difficulty, discouragement, challenge, and change. It was also a season of mercy and grace and refining. 

Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

As we reflect, we can only be grateful. Indeed we are grateful that Ron recovered. We are grateful for our new home, one that meets our needs at this stage of life. But we are most grateful that we have learned to trust Him more, we have learned to lean on Him more, and we have learned to love Him more! (And if Ron had not recovered and if our house had not sold and if we had not found a home that we love, we would trust that His plan for us is good. Because He is always good to His children. Romans 8:28.)

On Saturday, I revisited this photo that Kati took back in 2012. (Facebook users may be familiar with "On This Day" in which you can view everything that you've posted on the current date -- in this case, September 24th -- though the years.)

September 24, 2012
Bekah (11), Maddie (8), Gavin (9), Owen (6), Ben (3), Alaine (2)

My sister suggested that we "recreate," so we did!

September 24, 2016
Bekah (15), Maddie (12), Gavin (13), Owen (10), Ben (7), Alaine (6)

It was fun to look back at these cutie pies...and just as fun to see them today!

Then Kati took a bonus shot with the kids lined up according to their heights today...and with the sweetest little addition!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pineapple House | Kati's Room

Kati is a planner.  So when we knew that we would be moving to a new home last spring, she went to work! Her new room at Pineapple House is much smaller than her bedroom at The Farmhouse, and she had to make some changes and some choices. She set about purging and packing up and planning and purchasing a few new things. 

I have to stop for a moment to give kudos to her brother Ryan and her brother-in-law Brian. The two of them hauled some heavy pieces of furniture and quite a few boxes labeled "Kati's Hope Box" up to the attic. In fact, they let Kati know that she needs to marry a big, strong guy because they don't plan on bringing that stuff back down! Ryan sent her a picture of  a man who would fit the job: 

Kati's thoughtful planning paid off. We had only been in our new home for a few days when her room looked exactly like it does now! There was only one thing it needed: some fresh paint. And now it has that too!

The walls are painted antique white, the same color we used in the living room and dining room here, and on most of the walls in The Farmhouse. For the trim, we used Behr's Decorator White. Kati has been wanting a white-on-white palette since Bekah chose it for her room at The Farmhouse. It is bright and cheerful, a neutral backdrop for Kati's vintage treasures.

Are you ready for a little tour? We'll step inside and move clockwise around the room.

Kati uses a vintage fan as a door stop.

An old oak washstand serves as her nightstand. On it, she has an array of old cameras, collected one by one, a symbol of her love of photography. She bought the white chippy mirror at a barn sale.

Over her bed, she created a gallery wall of things that she loves: a couple of plates, one old and one new; a collection of vintage keys; two canvases made with her own photographs; and a chalkboard frame on which is written lyrics of a beloved hymn.

The hydrangea pillow is new this year, purchased at Pier I.

Kati found her gauzy white curtains at HomeGoods. They were really tablecloths, but at $12.99 apiece, she decided that they would work nicely as curtains. Her plan was to hang them with curtain clip rings, but she didn't like the way that they hung, so we sewed a simple casing in the top of each.

More vintage elements: the old window frame hung on the wall, a Victorian bird cage, and a vintage suitcase. 

The aqua enamel tray is new "vintage." 

 For fall, the birdcage is holding a white mum.
Underneath, you can see a glimpse of her hope chest, made by her Dad. It is full, even though she has those "hope boxes" in the attic. 

I love the reading corner!
In Kati's old room, she had a wonderful wall of built-in book shelves and a window seat. When we moved, she had to pack up her beloved books and they are carefully organized in large Rubbermaid storage boxes, easily accessible in the basement. But when she found this old bookshelf in a local antiques shop, she decided that it would be just right to hold her Dickens collection, and so it is.

The double closet doors conceal lots of handy-dandy storage. I am amazed at all that Kati was able to (neatly!) pack inside! 

Kati even used the narrow bit of wall between the closet and the doorway. She hung a cute Scripture plaque and a thimble collection begun by her Aunt Lynn. On the floor is an ottoman where she places her purse.

To anchor it all, she bought a new braided rug

And that is Kati's new room at Pineapple House. It may be smaller in size, but it is not lacking in charm! She has "made her house [room] a home"!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ice Cream with a Touch of Autumn

Although the day had started out with a pleasant breeze, by Saturday evening the heat and humidity had drifted back in. We were more than willing to try to beat the heat with a bowl (or two who's counting?) of homemade ice cream! 

So we got the sun porch ready and filled our gallon-and-a-half freezer with maple walnut ice cream* and waited for Ron's mom and his brothers and sisters and their spouses to gather. (A couple of our guests were bringing ice cream too!) 

We had four gallons of ice cream and a few cookies for good measure (a balanced diet and all that), and the evening was filled with chatter and laughter and yumminess!

Do you know of a better way to beat the heat? 

* About the maple walnut ice cream...

Several years ago, we went to a local ice cream shop that serves homemade ice cream. It was in September and they were featuring some autumn flavors. I chose pumpkin pie ice cream and I was not disappointed; it was delicious! However, Ron let me have a bite of his maple walnut ice cream ~swoon~ and I (even though I totally love pumpkin), decided that his was better!

I decided to try to make our own version of the maple walnut ice cream for our party. I simmered about 1 1/2 cups of maple syrup in a heavy pot until it reduced by about half, and added it to our vanilla ice cream recipe. I toasted a cup of walnuts and added them just before churning.

It was good, but if I make it again I'll double the amount of maple syrup for a more intense maple flavor!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Saturday Graces

Graces...things that I do not deserve, but that He has seen fit to give to me. These are joys here on a September Saturday.

~ The doors are flung open this morning to welcome in a pleasant breeze! It is glorious! 

~ I added touches of fall to my home this week, even though it was crazy hot and humid! Company was coming and that gave me a little incentive to get it done. Now I can enjoy it on this lovely Saturday morning.

~ We are getting ready for an ice cream party this evening, the last one of the season. I am experimenting with a new autumn-inspired flavor: maple walnut. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

~ I am reflecting on a successful first week of school! Where we sometimes ease into our studies, this time we just jumped right in, met all of our goals, worked hard, had some fun, and it's like we never stopped! 

What are the graces in your world today?

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

"The Dog Ate My Homework"

So when your computer is in the shop for two weeks and you're using your daughter's when it's free and then your daughter's computer goes to the shop right after you publish a blog post and then hers comes back and then it is free in the late, late hours or during the day when you're homeschooling and/or getting ready for company and then your internet fails for some unknown reason and then reappears just as mysteriously and your inbox is full of emails to which you have not replied...

Yes, that's what we have here.

Excuses, excuses. But the struggle is real.

Preview of Kati's freshly painted bedroom

I'll be back...someday...

Monday, September 12, 2016

Back to (Home)School

Ron is back to work. The stay-cation is over. The painting projects are done. My computer is still at the doctor. (I am using Kati's to write this post.) And our family's 26th year of homeschooling began today!

I had to take a peek back through the archives and I was struck at how much older Bekah looks, even since last year!

Of course, if you're a regular reader then you know that last year's school year was our most challenging ever. Ron had surgery at the end of September, had multiple complications, and didn't return to work until the first of the year. Several months later, we moved from our home of thirty-five years. Bekah didn't finish 9th grade until the end of July. 

I'm not complaining! I am grateful for His grace and for His provision for us. We know that it was all a part of His plan for our lives. 

Recently I was reminded of a prayer that I had prayed last summer...before the "challenging" school year had even begun. He knew, and He was preparing me to trust Him for everything. I wrote about it here, but I am sharing the prayer again...
Father, I feel so inadequate for the task. Teaching my child, preparing her for what is ahead is a big deal. I don't see Bekah's future. I don't know everything. In fact, I know very little. But You...You see. You know. You know what she will need to prepare her for what lies ahead. I pray for your divine guidance as I map out our school year. Help me.
Here I am, spinning my wheels about academics, but it is even more important that she be prepared spiritually, that her character is strengthened, that she hears from You. You knit her together before she was born, during those days of difficult pregnancy and hope. You had planned for her life from the start. Help us to be the parents who aid and encourage Your plan for her. 
So as I make choices for Bekah's ninth grade year, I ask for Your leading, as One whose love and care for her surpasses my own. 

Today, as I look back over Bekah's past few years, and over the past twenty-six years of our homeschooling journey, I can only see grace upon grace

And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD;
and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Isaiah 54:13

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