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, June 20, 2017

Sunday Snapshots: Loving Our Dads


Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.
Psalm 127:1a



Our special day for dads was full. 

We had a full house. Twenty of us gathered to celebrate fathers. 

Our tummies were full. We had assembled our own deli: an assortment of breads, meats, cheeses, and toppings; pasta salad, potato salad, and chips. And then there were desserts. 

The day was full of special moments. A baby climbing into the blanket basket. Little girls in matching dresses. A little boy wearing a tie. A game that everyone could play. My dad's hat hanging on the closet door knob. Tokens of love exchanged. Cousins playing together. Wrapping paper antics. A photo collage of the fathers of every person present (hastily assembled by Kati because her mom had a last minute brainstorm). Moments of connection between generations. Children asking to help serve. Beautiful music by Ryan and Sarah. 


Of course, there were the family photos . . . 



THE DADS and THEIR CHILDREN
~2017~






And then there was this one:

Because the house was also full of fun! 


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Morning Randomness


My thoughts are kind of random this morning, so I thought I'd just plop it all here as I sip on my second cup of coffee. If you don't have time to chat, no problem! 


We are completing our my 26th year of homeschooling. Before our school got down to just one student, we always finished "formal" schooling by the end of May. But Bekah and I are both the meandering sort and so now school sort of just tapers off and winds down slowly. There is no Grand and Final Day when school ends and summer begins. I had hoped that Bek would be finished this week, but she has a tiny bit of biology left and a few hours of history. (She will continue with Algebra II through the summer . . . maybe one lesson per week.) The thing is: Bekah is totally content to meander her way to summer vacation, so there's no stress.

Speaking of stress . . . Bekah begins driver's ed next week! I can't talk about it. 😨




I am enjoying this new summer wreath on my back door, handmade by a talented friend, given to me by the girls on Mother's Day. I had admired a red geranium wreath that I had seen in Target. Red is my color and I always had red at The Farmhouse, but there is a lot of pink in the yard at Pineapple House. We have a mix of colors in the pots on the back steps, so Kati asked Terri to make a mixed color wreath. I love it! 





The library is finished! It turned out even better than I had imagined and I want to share it with you. The problem is that it is a small room and I am not a great photographer and I am having a hard time taking photos that do it justice. Oh, but I love it and we really did it on the cheap and we are spending lots of time in here (yes, I'm in the library now!). So I am going to try to put together a post about it sometime next week. Here's a peek . . . 





You may or may not have noticed that I have been replying to your comments. I always love it when a blogger does that; it makes blogging a two-way street and encourages friendships. Martha Ellen makes it look so easy. She has always continued the conversation on her posts with warm and engaging responses and I always go back to see what she has said to me. 

I am going to try it for a while, but no promises on how long I'll be able to keep it up! 

How do you feel about replying to comments? Do you enjoy the two-way conversations? If you're a blogger too, how do you choose to respond to commenters (if you do)? 




No explanation necessary. Her face says it all.




A slice of life at our house.

Last Sunday morning, I saw a sticky note outside the girls' bathroom door. 



This is what it said.



Kati, who had discovered a camel cricket in the bathtub in the middle of the night, had left this note for Bekah so that she would not have a coronary if she woke up first and happened to move the cup. 

Of course, Ron says that he would have just killed the cricket on the spot and gone back to bed. No note necessary.

Bekah, however, greatly appreciated the warning.

(Have you ever seen a camel cricket? They are ugly and fast and Bekah is terrified of them. And Bekah is a screamer.) 

Source



Enough randomness for one post. Tomorrow is Father's Day and we are having a gathering so there are preparations to be made today.

My daddy and me, 1962



If you have time to chat, how about leaving one of your random thoughts in the comments? 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pick-Up-That-Cookbook Cooking {Super Sub Balls}



Summer is my most challenging time for cooking everyday meals. I'm not sure why. I should be inspired by the fresh bounty of fruits and vegetables that are available during this season. Maybe it's the weather. (Summer is not my favorite.) Or maybe it's because I'm in summer vacation mode and that carries over into the kitchen. But whatever the reason, I have to try a little harder to be enthused about cooking in the summer. 

I have a bit of a plan to get me over the hump this summer. 

I don't know about you, but I have a whole array of cookbooks in my kitchen, filled with new ideas , recipes, and cooking inspiration. Some are old friends that contain some of my tried-and-true recipes. Some are just sitting there looking pretty. So I thought, why not be more purposeful and take advantage of all of that inspiration? And that is what I am going to do! 

Here's my plan:

Each week of this summer, I am going to choose a cookbook that is already in my kitchen and I am going to try a recipe that I have never made before. 

This week's recipe came from a cookbook that my daughter Kristin gave me several years ago: Classic Rachael Ray: 30-Minute Meals. As I perused it looking for a recipe, I wondered why I had not used this cookbook more. It is full of uncomplicated recipes made with fresh ingredients. I also like the way Rachael Ray approaches cooking in a non-rocket-science sort of way. (Like "a handful" of parsley and "a little" olive oil.)  



Super Sub Balls was a slightly different take on meatball subs. The meatballs are baked, not fried, and the cheese is inside the meatball. 

(Funny side story: I totally befuddled the deli lady by asking for 2/3 pound of unsliced provolone cheese. She literally did not know what to do. She kept holding up increasingly thicker slices, asking if that was good. "Is that 2/3 of a pound?" I would ask, knowing that it couldn't be. She finally asked a coworker for assistance. They conferred, cut a hunk, bagged it, weighed it, and handed it to me. But it was only 1/2 a pound, so I asked for another one just like it. I ended up with extra cheese, but it seemed like the quickest way to get out of the deli and move on with my day!) 





SUPER SUB BALLS

Ingredients for meatballs:
1 and 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (a shake or two)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 medium Spanish onion, minced
a handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup Italian bread crumbs (a couple of good handfuls)
4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
2/3 pound provolone cheese, cut into 16 small cubes
olive oil, for baking sheet

Ingredients for marinara:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 pinches crushed red pepper flakes
2 cans (28 ounces each) crushed tomatoes*
15 to 20 leaves fresh basil, roughly cut or torn** 
2 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped from stem and chopped
a handful chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 sesame-seed sub rolls

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.

Combine meat, egg, red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, parsley, bread crumbs, and Worcestershire in a bowl. Pull a palmful of meat mixture into our had. Nest a piece of provolone in the middle of the meat and form a ball. Place on a nonstick cookie sheet brushed with a little olive oil. Repeat until mixture is gone, about 16 balls later. Place cookie sheet in oven and bake until cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. 


  For marinara sauce, warm evoo in a deep frying pan or pot over medium heat; add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic sizzles. Add tomatoes and herbs. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer over low heat until ready to serve. 



Drop the stuffed sub balls into sauce. Scoop up sauced sub balls and place in rolls. 
Serve with Pigskin Potatoes and a simple salad.***  


*    I only had petite diced tomatoes, so my sauce was a little chunkier.
** My basil is still young; 15 leaves would have stripped it bare! I substituted about a tablespoon of dried basil.
*** I served raw veggies and dip instead for a lower carb alternative. Another way to reduce the carbs would be to serve the meatballs and sauce over spaghetti squash instead of on a sub roll. 


This recipe was deemed a success by my family! The meatballs were flavorful and delicious . . . and decidedly less greasy than the typical fried meatballs. The cheese inside was a fun twist. 





What about you? Do you use all of your cookbooks? Is inspiration hiding there in your cookbook collection? Do you have a specific season in which you're lacking kitchen inspiration?

Monday, June 5, 2017

Breaking Bread | Asian Chicken Cranberry Salad | Hospitality Habits


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Yesterday was the day for us to host our church fellowship. 


We had decided to have a salad lunch after our worship time. So easy!

On Sunday morning, we set out paper products and plastic utensils.

When using disposables, I like to use sturdy paper plates (like Chinette) and the heavy duty plastic utensils. Of course, I always keep a stash of pretty paper napkins on hand. As I told my friend Deanna, my policy is "Buy the napkins. The occasion will come." This time, I chose the red stripe "feed sack" napkins that I had picked up at HomeGoods in February. (I bought three packages of them; there are plenty left for other summer gatherings.)


We set up the coffee station with some of my Warren Kimble mugs. (I bought a pair on eBay last week, one with a sheep, one with a horse, bringing my total to 16.) The WK creamer was a gift from a friend.


We set up a tray of sodas. Kati made pitchers of sweetened and unsweetened tea (not in the photo).


We moved the dining room chairs to the living room,


set the hymnals on the table,


and enjoyed a time of worship and fellowship.




I had made my salad the day before, using a new-to-me recipe found at Reluctant Entertainer. Here is the recipe with my adaptations. (Original ~ here ~ .) 


ASIAN CHICKEN CRANBERRY SALAD 



Ingredients: 
2 bags cole slaw mix
4 cups cooked chicken, chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted (I'd have used more, but that's what I had.)
1 1/2 dried cranberries
3/4 cup diced red onion
1 1/2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil

wonton strips (optional)


Directions: 
1) Layer cabbage, cooked chicken, toasted almonds, cranberries, onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds in large bowl.

2) In blender, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, honey, ginger, and sesame oil. 
Add 3 tablespoons water and process until smooth.

3) Pour dressing over salad ingredients and toss lightly. 
Top each serving with wonton strips, if desired.




Hospitality habits go a long way towards making hospitality happen

Of course, we all know that hospitality doesn't just "happen." We have to make it happen. But it is easier if you develop some hospitality habits. Like some of these: 

Keeping paper supplies on hand. 
We buy Chinette plates and plastic cups in bulk from Sam's Club so we rarely run out. I pick up a box of plastic utensils as I do my weekly shopping. And my eyes are always open for pretty napkins. They often set the theme of the party. 

Keeping a variety of soft drinks stocked.
Again, I usually buy a pack of soft drinks with my weekly groceries, often calling Bekah at home for the "drink inventory." Family favorites are root beer and cream soda. 

Collecting serving dishes and platters.
You'll be surprised at what you'll find if you keep your eyes opened. Many of my serving pieces are bargains! You can be creative too, using baskets and boxes in unusual ways.

And the most important hospitality habit:

Reminding ourselves of the purpose of hospitality.




What are some of your hospitality habits? 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tidsoptomist


I recently came across a word that (unfortunately) describes me pretty well. 

Tidsoptomist. 


Does this happen to anyone else? You get up early, allowing yourself plenty of time to get ready. Then (because you have plenty of time to get ready, of course) you check your Facebook and read a few blogs. You don't take time to comment because you're getting ready to get ready. Then you throw in a load of wash. You make your bed. You stop to chat with a daughter. You add something to the grocery list. You start to unload the dishwasher, but you realize that your time is getting away from you so you'd better put on your makeup and dry your hair. Now! There's not enough time to write out that birthday card either, or mend that tear in the blouse you were going to wear. You pull something else out of your closet and get dressed too quick to talk about. 

Oh no! You're going to be late. 

It is the bane of the tidsoptimist. 


Today, I have a long to-do list. I started out great guns. Up early, washing all of the dishes in my pie safe, a load of laundry started, tidying up the living room (which was left in disarray after I fell asleep on the sofa and woke up with everyone else gone to bed). Then I sit down with my coffee and check my Facebook and read a few blogs . . . and then decide to write a blog post . . . 

But I really need to move along with that to-do list. Tomorrow, company is coming whether I am ready or not. Maybe I'll even be dressed when they arrive. 

If tidsoptimism doesn't take over.


Are you a tidsoptimist? Or do tidsoptimists drive you nuts? (It's okay to say if they do! I've been driving people nuts for years . . . ) 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Final Chapter in the Saga of the Purple Dress


When the purple dress did not arrive in time for the homeschool choir's spring concert, Bekah decided that she would instead wear it to her spring piano recital a few weeks later.

The day after the concert (the last day of the delivery window), the estimated arrival date had unobtrusively changed. Hmmm. Then on the new estimated delivery date, I got an email saying that the package had arrived. (It had not.) I reported the missing package to Amazon and requested a refund. The three-month saga had ended. Good grief.


 But I do love the black dress that Bekah wore to her recital!



For your listening pleasure . . .




Also this week . . . 


We celebrated my aunt's birthday. (This is my parents' home.)


We had our final book club meeting for this school year.


I have also had computer issues. And I waited in line for 45 minutes to pay for my groceries at Walmart. But that's all I'll say about those things. 




Monday, May 22, 2017

Taking a Ride




When we drive out of town for Bekah's piano lessons, we have a plan. We listen to a history CD on our way. (This year we have listened to this set: What in the World? Volume 2 by Diana Waring. Fabulous!) After Bekah has her lesson, we grab lunch and, depending on our time limitations, we go shopping or antiquing. On our drive home, we talk. 

So on Friday morning when her teacher rescheduled due to sickness, I thought we'd be home for the day. But after we talked about it, we decided that we didn't want to miss our little road trip . . . and off we went as usual. We just omitted the piano lesson part.




I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish on Saturday: the usual weekly house cleaning, yes, but also some extra scrubbing, sewing a swag for the library window, and trying a new recipe.

But Kati needed to find some new shoes for work. Long story, short: She has a stress fracture and is being fitted for custom orthotics, but the doc recommends a certain kind of shoe for her foot problems. She had explored all of the stores in our town that carry that brand and did not find the right shoes. The other possibility was a shoe store over an hour away.

So on Saturday afternoon, Kati and I went on a little road trip . . . in search of those shoes and a few hours together. There may or may not have been a Starbucks stop.

As we drove home, Kati remarked about how nice the afternoon had been. Neither of us was thrilled about shopping for work shoes, but Kati said, "The best part is the ride and having time to talk." I agreed!






There is just something about spending time together in a car. Oh my goodness . . . the things we talk about! Work. School. Relationships. Nieces and nephews (my grands). Qualities to look for in a mate. Future plans. Wedding gowns. Funny stories. Favorite this and that. Failings. Music. Movies. Houses. Decorating. Parties to plan. Parenting. God's Word. His perspective.

Sometimes we take long-ish trips like the two I just told you about.

Sometimes we just meander around town, sipping coffee and looking at houses.

But we can even make the most of a short jaunt. If I am just running to the post office or driving to the library to return a book or picking up a few things at Target or making a coffee run, I'll ask if anyone wants to go with me. Often, someone does!

And, by the way, the trip isn't always over when we get back home. We have been known to sit in the driveway and talk for 20 or 30 minutes more! (I wonder what our neighbors are thinking.)

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Forging strong bonds of relationship with my children is something that is very important to me. Of course, being your child's friend does not supersede the proper place of authority, but I do want them on my team. And I want to be on theirs. I value their friendship!

"Taking a ride" is just one of the ways that we grow in relationship together.

And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk [ride?] by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)


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