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.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

"The Last Time"


A sweet friend shared this poem on her Facebook page this morning. As I read it, I wiped away tears, realizing that most of my "last times" have already come and gone. There are times when I, like the writer of this poem, yearn for one more day of such tender moments.

Even so, I say that from a place of peace. The baby season of my life has ended, as has the toddler season, as has the young child season. I am now in the teenager season for the fourth and final time. May I make the most of these days as well.

Young mother, you, too, will arrive at "the end" before you know it, and if you have taken time, if you have lingered, if you have invested, if you have noticed the moments, if you have been there...all there...with His help...then you, too, will look back from a place of peace.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: Church Dinner

Last evening, we hosted a potluck for our church fellowship. 
The food was delicious, the weather was early-fall-perfect, but the fellowship was the best part.

photo by Bekah

It was the first time to use the new sandwich board, another of Ron's vacation projects. We had hoped to use it for last week's ice cream party, but we hadn't counted on the chalkboard paint needing a week to cure. 

You're likely to see it again. I am imagining all the things I can write on it for so many occasions. Now to practice my calligraphy and doodling skills...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Personal Photo Challenge {Movement}

This month's Personal Photo Challenge was twice the challenge for me. First of all, I was challenged to learn more about capturing movement in photography and putting that into practice. The second challenge was to do that without my trusty 18-55 mm lens. Oh no!! This lens, the one that I have used the most, is not focusing reliably, and I never know when it will take the shot or not.  Very frustrating. I suppose I will need to look into having it repaired. 

In the meantime, I used a lens that came with my old 35 mm Canon Rebel, a 35-80 mm lens. It's not as good for close-ups, but it did the trick for these action shots. 

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

I used Bekah as my assistant. I had her ride her bike round and round as I clicked. "Go faster, please." "A little closer." "Can you ride any faster?" "Again, please." She's a good sport! And her front tire was slack, so she was really putting forth some effort to accommodate. I was lying on my belly in the back yard taking pictures when Ron arrived home from work. "You never know what you're going to see here," he says. (Like he's the only man who has ever come home to his wife lying in the back yard while his daughter rides in circles?! Oh, come on!)

I edited this photo in PicMonkey, increasing both highlights and shadow, and cropping for focus. 

One morning recently, I looked out of my back door and saw a mysterious thing in the bird bath. It appeared motionless, meaning it was not a bird. A snake getting a drink? A frog? Why was it still sitting there?

Needing to know what kind of creature was in my bird bath, I put on my glasses. Still couldn't tell. I couldn't remember where the binoculars were, so I ingeniously (ha!) grabbed my camera and gingerly stepped out of my backdoor. I thought that I'd photograph the creature, then zoom in on the image and identify it. Unfortunately, the close-up was fuzzy. But it looked like it might be a grasshopper. Okay, that's good. I'm not afraid of them. 

While I was hyper-focused on my bird bath mystery, something suddenly buzzed over my head! After the adrenaline rush (you can tell I'm a true nature girl, can't you?), I saw that it was merely a hummingbird coming for her breakfast. And since I had my camera, and since the upcoming challenge was "movement," I bravely turned my back on the bird bath creature and took some shots of Mrs. H. B. 

(The bird bath creature remained motionless. Kati went out later and identified it as...a leaf. How embarrassing.) 

Again, I went to PicMonkey to edit. I cropped the image and increased the shadows. 

Thanks to Donna for hosting another photography challenge! 
Next month's challenge is Still Life. (Maybe I should have taken some close-ups of that leaf, huh?)

Click on the button below to see more.
And be sure to visit Donna to see how she met her own challenge this month! Wow!
A Personal Photo Challenge

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Makeover {From Computer Cabinet to China Closet}

When Ron was on vacation last week, the priority project was the remake of the computer cabinet into a china closet.

The two of us had designed the cabinet years ago to house Henry, the desktop computer. Ron had built retractable doors, a sliding drawer for the keyboard, and a sliding platform for the printer. We had intended to add some shelves for computer software and office supplies, but we never got around to that.

Recently, I mentioned to Ron that Henry had aged out. Kati and I both use our laptops almost exclusively, and I thought that the few things that I wanted to save (photos, a few Word documents, our foreign language program) could be transferred to my laptop. What I really needed was space for dishes! 

Ron agreed to do the makeover!

I Pinned a bunch of ideas, we went on a few scouting trips for supplies, and on Day 1 of his vacation Ron started ripping out the innards of the computer cabinet!

Uh oh. Do you know what that means?

It means that all the stuff inside has to be purged or find new homes. Oh no. Ron finished the entire makeover before I finished relocating all the stuff! Ack!!  

Finally, everything was put away, and the china closet was finished and ready to be filled and organized. I had all my supplies: padded containers for The Grandmother Dishes, a rack for platters and trays, and shelf liner.

Uh oh. Do you know what that means?

It means that The Grandmother Dishes and the Friendly Village dishes and all of the white dishes and the Christmas dishes and the mugs (ack!!) and Aunt Lynn's crystal and the platters and trays must all be organized and placed in this very tiny cabinet.

What? It's not a tiny cabinet?!

Oh, you are so right...but it felt smaller by the moment as the boxes of dishes were retrieved from the attic and plopped into the middle of the kitchen floor. (I showed you a picture ~here~.)

And then when we gathered all the mugs from the kitchen cupboards and the various boxes...good grief!

It took the entire day to get it organized (with a lot of working and pausing to think and rearranging...and a bit of purging), but when all was said and done, I was thrilled!

All of my dishes have a home. No more trips up and down the attic with heavy boxes. Easy access to everything. Win-win-win.

So if I want to drink my coffee from a fall mug tomorrow morning, I can do it! And if I want to set my table for Christmas (I don't), I can do that too! It's all here.

Rethinking the function of a piece of furniture (or even a room) can make your house work better for you!

Monday, September 8, 2014

An End and a Beginning

The end of summer...

Following a week that was probably the hottest, most humid of the summer, yesterday was patio-perfect. We bid adieu to summer with two tubs of homemade ice cream.

Kati has some great ice cream party photos in  this post.

...and the beginning of autumn.

Today was our first day back to (home)school, the mercury didn't reach seventy, Kati made granola, and we made a run for printer ink and pumpkin spice iced coffees. Feels like autumn to me!

Where are you? Hanging on to summer for a few more days? Or stepping into autumn? 

Friday, September 5, 2014

A "Real Life" Shot

My daughter Kristin is doing a month-long series of photos of her real life. The idea is to show the imperfect, the real, the glimpses of life that don't always make the blog. 

I am linking up with her today by giving you a peek at my kitchen this morning. The china closet is ready to be filled (I'll share some details next week) and this morning Ron fetched all (we think) of the boxes of seasonal and "extra" dishes from the attic (and since this is real life, I'll confess that boxes of The Grandmother Dishes were in the upstairs hallway), and the task today is to sort and purge and gather dishes/pedestals/trays from other corners of the house and make some sense of this new space. 

We have our work cut out for us!

Linking with Kristin's Real Life...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Savoring Summer {Recipe Round Up}

Because I like a little landing spot for my recipe series, I have grouped all of the Savoring Summer recipes here for you...and for me. (Maybe mostly for me?) 

I hope that you have enjoyed thinking about new ways to feature summer foods on your menu. It was exactly the kick in the pants that I needed for summer cooking inspiration. Hosting a series kind of holds me accountable, so thank you, readers, for doing that! 

(And if it's as hot in your corner as it is in ours this week, you may still be eating summer foods!)

Week 10: Stuffed Peppers
Week 11: Peach Crisp
Week 12: Cucumber-Dill Squares

Past summer recipe series...

Salad on Tuesday
Fruit on Tuesday

Monday, September 1, 2014

On Blogging (and Other Stuff) // Part 2

Before I begin chatting about blogging again, I must first say thank you to so many of you who took the time to join in the discussion! 

I read each answer...several times. (I am still responding to your answers via email or blog comment when possible. I am behind as I was away from the computer a good bit last week. This week promises much of the same.) I have read Vee's recent musings about blogging and the many reader comments furthering the discussion. I have prayed about the role of blogging in my life. I have pondered and mused and considered. 

I love blogging and I am not contemplating leaving. 

I enjoy having a creative outlet, a place to share my musings. I love the interchange of ideas, sharing my own projects and thoughts, and learning from yours. I find inspiration. I love the friendships that have formed, and the sense of community. I enjoy learning about other parts of the world: rural Texas, south Florida, British Columbia, Lake Gitche Gumee, Maine, Lancaster County, Seattle, New Zealand. Not because I have been there, but because I know someone who lives and shops and eats and explores those places. I am often encouraged by your blogs, and I hope to do the same for you.  

Yes, I will continue to blog. 

But I am going to make a couple of changes. 

The first change involves time. 

If you read and follow a lot of blogs, then you know how much time it takes to make thoughtful comments. And so, although I will continue to make comments on the blogs that I read, it just won't be as frequently (as in not on every post). I am absolving myself of the obligation to always say something. I keep thinking of the wise words from Karen Andreola when a reader apologized for "lurking" without commenting. Karen said, 
"I think it is fine to peruse a public post like people used to relax with the newspaper - without necessarily sending a letter to the editor. The 20th century term "lurk" which I am most familiar with, makes the new 21st century blog definition seem a bit harsh and ill-fitting to me." 

I love that analogy! I will still be reading as I have time ("relaxing with the newspaper"), but I won't be sending quite as many "letters to the editor."

The second change concerns the purpose of my blog.

Not a big change really. I will continue to talk about my home and my family and celebrations and hospitality...and how I serve the Lord by serving in my home.

A part of my purpose when I began my blog was to offer encouragement to homeschoolers and to young mothers. When I started blogging five years ago, I had recently completed my second two-year term as editor of our local homeschool newsletter. I had enjoyed writing articles for the newsletter, and I wanted to continue to offer experience and encouragement to homeschool moms, and I planned to include these things in my blog. 

Now I know that many of my readers are fellow grandmothers! And the grandmothers may not be excited about homeschool talk. But over the last several months, I have felt an urging to share some rudimentary principles, some very basic tips that I have found vital to a successful homeschool. I may even chat about some of the nuts and bolts. So if you're a "grandmother," feel free to click away on those days and come back another day when I'm sharing a recipe or talking about a party or a house project or just plain musing! 

Now for the "other stuff"...

Four years ago, we had just ended the summer birthday season and the calendar had just barely turned over to the next month, when this little girl came and made our world more precious. Today, Alaine is four!

Yesterday, we gathered at Kristin and Brian's house to celebrate Alaine! Pink was the theme and happy was the mood. (And hot was the weather...but not as hot as the day she was born!)

Bekah took this picture of the birthday girl and loves it. She asked me to crop it in order to zoom in on that pretty little face. She was especially smitten with the lips. 

A few peeks at the party...

Ron is off this week and it is a get-things-done kind of vacation week. Our main project is a makeover of the computer cabinet. 

It is a cabinet that we designed together and that Ron made to house our desktop computer. But we rarely use aged, s-l-o-w Henry (the desktop) any more and so we're converting the cabinet into a china closet! I am so excited! I'll be storing The Grandmother Dishes there, as well as various and sundry dishes, mugs, and trays that are all over my house. Hopefully, this will eliminate the treks (Ron's treks) up and down the attic stairs with heavy boxes of seasonal dishes. There may still be a need for culling the collection, but we're hoping to make some sense of it all. The goal is to keep our house tidy, rid it of excess, but make room for the things we really love. 

Feel free to continue the conversation in the comments...OR just "relax with the newspaper" (see above) and leave a "letter to the editor" some other time! :)

There is still time for you to Gather the Moments of August.
The link will stay up through Saturday.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Gathering the Moments {August}

Is it possible to have a quiet but busy month? Because I think that is what August was for us this year. 

Of course, we were busy with birthdays! 
{August = birthdays} for our family! 
Lots of parties, presents, sweets, and candles!

Birthday peeps: Ron, Ryan, Owen (8), Kristin, Mom, and me
Thanks to Sarah for the photo of the handsome birthday boy from Maine!

But there was also time for quiet pursuits.
For house projects, for leisurely drives, for frozen yogurt.
For having friends over for dinner.
For baking bread and for making cupcakes (twice).
For an evening out with two women friends and doing more talking than eating and catching up on one another's lives and some laughter and some tears and calling it all good.
And then Mama Coffee the next morning with more laughter and more tears and more good.

Time to pause. Time to reflect. Time to grow. Time to be grateful.
Time with the Lord. 

The weather for this coming week is predicted to be summer-hot, but even so, summer is drawing to a close. Change is in the air. With the same glance, I see both blooming red impatiens and golden leaves fallen from the locust tree. The baby pyracantha (the one that replaced my long-loved bush that winter killed) has its first ever orange-tinted berries. I an eagerly awaiting my favorite season...autumn.

But I won't move on without a lingering look back at this lovely...quiet and busy...end-of-summer month. 

Again this month, I am inviting you to join me in "gathering the moments." You may wish to share two or three photos, or several collages, or bunches of photos...with words, or without words. The link-up below will be a gathering place for us to reflect and share and connect. (The link-up will stay open for a week, so you have plenty of time to gather.)

Thinking About Home

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On Blogging (and Other Stuff)

I have been thinking a lot about blogging lately. Like why I began blogging and what my purpose is. How much time I should allot for blogging? And how much of that allotted time is needed for commenting on other blogs? One reason for my pondering is that we are back to homeschooling soon, thus my time is more scheduled and I feel the need to evaluate and make wise choices. 

I am open to a discussion about blogging! 
  • What is your purpose for blogging?
  • How long does it typically take you to compose a post? 
  • Do you comment on the blogs that you read? (Vee recently asked her readers a similar question.)
  • When you make a mistake (grammatical, spelling) and discover it later, does it drive you batty? Do you go back and fix it?
  • If you're married, does your husband read your blog? 

Feel free to jump into the discussion on any point! Obviously, some of my questions are more contemplative, while some are lighter, but I am interested in whatever you'd like to talk about. 

There were several comments (both on the blog and on my Facebook page) about the cupcakes we had at the birthday party. There is a story behind those cupcakes! 

As I have told you, Bekah loves to bake...and she is also (how shall I say this?) thorough. Leaving nothing to chance, she decided to make some "practice" cupcakes a few weeks ago, to try out her recipe and techniques. But...she didn't want to make a whole batch, so she one-fourthed the recipe to make only four cupcakes. 

the practice cupcakes

She took hours to make those four cupcakes. She had to one-fourth the cupcake recipe. And these cupcakes were filled with ganache, so she had to one-fourth that too. Then she did the math again for the cream cheese frosting recipe. All of that mixing and baking and filling and frosting and decorating...for four cupcakes. She said that she didn't mind at all; it was fun, in fact! And the test cupcakes were declared a success, so she made them for the party. This time, she omitted the ganache filling. Not because it wasn't delicious, but because, after much deliberation, it was decided that it would be too much along with the sundae bar that was planned. I mean, we do have our limits. ~smile~

(By the way, I think that Bekah earned some school credit for math with all those calculations!)

Since I am talking about Bekah, let me share this conversation I overheard last week. 

Bekah, trying to choose something to wear on our outing to the yogurt shop, was torn between two fashion choices. She decided to ask Kati for help.
Bekah: Say 1 or 2.
Kati: 2.
Bekah: Say 1.
Kati: 1.
Bekah: Okay.

I have discovered a kindred spirit over at Wonderful Life Farm. Kate is a Christian homeschooler, mother, and grandmother who loves colonial style! When I found her blog, I found a friend. 

This week, Kate is hosting a Tasha Tudor-inspired give-away including a vintage cookbook, an apron she crafted from some reproduction fabric, and a beautiful set of note cards. Goodies galore! Go take a look at Kate's beautiful blog, and leave a comment on ~this post~ to be entered to win her Tasha Tudor  Birthday give-away. 


Another month has come and almost gone...which means that it's time to Gather the Moments! I'll be gathering some photos and reflecting sometime over the weekend. (My goal is Saturday.) As I have done for the first seven months of this year, I will be providing a place for you to link your own "moments" and we can share with one another. (More details ~here~.)

I will be hosting this gathering each month through December. Feel free to join in! 

Thinking About Home

So what would you like to talk about? Blogging...or other stuff?

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