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, July 31, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 8 {Broccoli Salad à l'Orange}


Do you like to take something to contribute when you are invited out to dinner?  I do.  I like to feel as if I have been of some help to the hostess, so if she doesn't ask me to bring something, I usually offer.  (Of course, some hostesses like to prepare everything and that is okay too.)    

This week, I had volunteered to bring a side dish for the Sunday afternoon meal at our friends' house.  Inspired by a bagged salad mix I had purchased that had an orange flavored dressing, I decided to tweak my own broccoli salad recipe.  I substituted dried cranberries for the usual raisins, and added some orange marmalade to give the salad a punch of citrus.  (I doubled the recipe to serve a crowd, but the recipe below is for approximately six servings.)







Ingredients:
  • 1 bunch of broccoli (about1 lb.)
  • 1/3 cup real bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup whipped salad dressing (or mayo)
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons orange marmalade 

Directions:
  1. Cut florets off broccoli stalks and cut into small pieces.
  2. In a large bowl, combine broccoli florets, bacon bits, onion, cheese, dried cranberries, and sunflower seeds.
  3. Whisk together salad dressing, vinegar, and marmalade.  
  4. Pour dressing over broccoli mixture and stir until all ingredients are coated. 



Do you have a go-to dish that you make when asked to contribute?  Or do you take a risk and try something new?  ~smile~ 




Looking for a recipe from another week?




Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: Hospitality


Today, our family (our own family of four, and Kristin's family of seven) were invited to Sunday lunch at the lovely home of our friends Bryan, Mary, and Aaron.  Of course, Mary is accustomed to cooking for three, but she (with the help of her grill master, Bryan) outdid herself and prepared a wonderful meal for fourteen this afternoon.  Not only did they feed us, but they were so gracious and made us feel right at home...as if their home was filled with fourteen people (seven of them under the age of 10!) every Sunday afternoon!  




This evening I am thinking about hospitality.  

Hospitality says, I am giving of myself.

Hospitality says, You are welcome here.

Hospitality says, It's not about my home, or even the food.  It's about sharing our time, our means, our selves.




More thoughts on hospitality...








Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Song of Praise!

I was on a Walmart run today when my cell phone rang.  It was Kati calling to tell me that our travelers had reached their destination!  

Suddenly, I could feel the tension of the past ten days draining away.  I had not even known the extent of my tension, but I felt like I was lighter, like I wanted to skip through the aisles with a huge grin on my face and a song in my heart.  A song of praise to my God!


I will sing unto the Lord,
because he hath dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:6


I refrained from skipping, but I am sure that I did not hide my smile and I sang that song of praise in my heart. On the way home, I continued to praise the Lord, and tears of joy flowed from a mama-heart full of gratitude.  

Gratitude for 3400 miles traveled in safety. Gratitude for 3400 miles with no vehicle troubles. Gratitude for ten days of no sickness. Gratitude for children who were relatively happy. Gratitude for His mercy and His plan.   




I have shared this quote from Elisabeth Elliot before here at Thinking About Home, but this evening it seems particularly meaningful to me.

"It is God to whom and with whom we travel, and while He is the end of our journey, He is also at every stopping place."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 7 {Chicken BLT Salad}


It's time to share the last of the salad recipes shared with me by my dear friend Jill.  This is another inspired by the classic bacon-lettuce-tomato combination, this one with chicken too!  

I served the salad on a large white serving platter, and thought it made a pretty presentation.  Then we tried it, and declared it another keeper.  I suppose you can't go wrong with bacon as an ingredient. ~smile~  And the dressing gave this dish a unique flavor.  It also helped that we used farm fresh tomatoes from a local produce stand, and not the cardboard tomatoes that you get at the grocery store. Mmmmmmm.







Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Salad Ingredients:
  • 8 cups torn greens
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 lbs. chicken, cooked and shredded
  • 10 bacon strips, cooked until crisp and crumbled
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, sliced  (I used 4.)


Directions:
  1. In small bowl, mix dressing ingredients; cover and refrigerate until serving time. 
  2. Place greens in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with tomatoes, chicken, and bacon; garnish with eggs.
  3. Serve with dressing.  



Thank you, Jill, for sharing all your yummy recipes!

(I think I am enjoying this summer salad series as much as anyone!)





Looking for a recipe from another week?



Monday, July 23, 2012

A Gift From a Friend


We all love presents. Traditionally we’ve grown to expect a birthday or an anniversary present, but we are especially touched when we receive something out of the blue. Think of your gift-giving as bringing an unexpected pleasure to someone you care about. An element of surprise intensifies satisfaction. There is a double emotional impact when a present is given to you because someone thought of you, or came across a book that “has your name on it.”
~ from Living a Beautiful Life by Alexandra Stoddard




When I told you about my most recent whim, my blog friend Milah, offered me a delightful gift!  She had a book about Early American stenciling and wall art and she thought that the book "had my name on it."  

Last week, the book arrived in my mailbox...along with a book of  Early American craft projects and some research on wall art and some booklets with stencil patterns and some magazine articles that she had collected.  Unexpected gifts!  



I am poring over the books, taking mental notes...still contemplating that mural on my staircase wall, and also (thanks to these photos of gorgeous Early American homes) considering where I might add a bit of stenciling.

Thank you for these gifts, Milah.  My heart is touched with your thoughtfulness.





What has inspired you lately?  
Do you consider home projects in the summer? Or does inspiration strike you more in the fall?


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: The Beach


It was the perfect day for a little road trip.




A perfect day for the beach!

fun 
sun
sand
stroll
picnic
shells
frisbee












Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vicarious Traveling


One of the many things that I love about homeschooling is that you can take real life happenings, and, with just a bit of effort, bump it up a notch into a meaningful learning experience.  That's what we're doing these days, as Ryan and Sarah and the children travel across the United States on the way to their new home.  

The most learning takes place when interest is piqued.  And interest in the geography of the United States is keen right now, which is why it's the perfect opportunity for some US geography lessons! 

  • We have pulled some US geography books from our shelves.  
  • There is a map of the US lying about for reference.   
  • We have printed a US map from Uncle Josh's Outline Map Book so that Bekah can mark their route.  
  • Bekah spent some time on MapQuest this week, typing in beginning and ending points and all the planned stops in between, and then printed a detailed map of their journey.  
  • We have learned about the borders of different time zones, as our travelers have crossed from one to another.  


These are all simple activities, but my student is learning a lot.  You gotta love it when learning is so natural!

My blog friend Vee introduced me to Tagxedo, a "word cloud" web site.  What fun!  So I typed in my blog's url, and (of course) I made a word cloud to accompany the theme of our thoughts this week.  




Our armchair traveling is easy peasy!  

I only wish it was so for our real travelers.  But the Lord is going before them, and we continue to pray for His mercy.   

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday Potpourri


I have turned the corner.  Everything that I wanted to do or accomplish this summer has either been done, or I no longer care if it gets done.  It is just too. stinking. hot.  I could easily (and rather happily) become a hermit at this point.  I am through with summer.  

The only problem is...summer isn't over yet.  So I suppose I'll just have to steel myself to turn that corner back again.  Sigh.  




Strange Walmart story from today.  (Do you have strange Walmart stories?  Does everyone?)  As I walked down the frozen food section, an employee was in the aisle and said to me, "Be careful, ma'am!  There's an electrical problem there."  

Yikes!  

As I heard him warn everyone who turned into the aisle (I even heard something about "catching on fire"), I decided that I did not need any frozen foods, thank you very much.  I mean, are frozen peas worth risking electrocution?  Is ice cream, even?!  




Our travelers are making their way eastward.  Last night, Salt Lake City; tonight, Cheyenne.  I am so very grateful to those of you who have been praying for them. Your words of kindness and encouragement mean the world.  







When I read this quote recently, it impacted me.  It's a perfect picture of acceptance.  Can I make that statement?  Honestly?   

(And what if God sends heat and humidity?)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Note Card Party: Sea-side

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand, 
Make the mighty ocean 
And the pleasant land.







Thus the little minutes, 
Humble though they be, 
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

~ Ebenezer Cobham Brewer






Do you have a blog?
Then you can join this month's party
over at Vee's Haven!

(Click the button for details.)


A Haven for Vee

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 6 {Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing}

Last week, we served this simple but flavorful, colorful side salad along with roasted rosemary chicken and potatoes.






Salad:
(Yikes!  I don't think we measured anything, but these are the ingredients we used.)
bag of spinach
strawberries, sliced (2 cups?)
slices of red onion (1/2 of an onion?)
grated Monterey Jack cheese (1/2 cup?)

(Oh my...can you even call this a recipe?)
Toss all ingredients together in large salad bowl.


Dressing:
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together and pour over salad.  (Or do what we did and allow each person to add dressing to their own taste.)




I am beginning to experiment with homemade dressings for several reasons.
  • I was inspired by this post at Mary's Nest.  
  • I believe that simple fresh ingredients are healthier and taste better.
  • My mother always made a vinaigrette dressing for salads.  She brought a tomato salad to our Father's Day meal, served with her vinaigrette, and it was as good as I remembered.    

That said, I forgot to refer to Mary's post when I made this poppy seed dressing to accompany the strawberry spinach salad.  If I had, maybe the dressing would have emulsified.  I did add a little mustard as I seemed to recall that it served as an emulsifier, but as it was, we had to shake the dressing vigorously and pour it immediately!  I also would have used olive oil instead of canola oil.   We did enjoy the tangy flavor of this poppy seed dressing.



Do you ever make your own dressings for salad?  
Have you ever used an immersion blender?  (And are they worth the price?)




Looking for a recipe from another week?



Monday, July 16, 2012

From West to East

Almost five years ago, on a sultry day in early August, my son Ryan, his wife Sarah, and their three-week-old daughter Eve, amid hugs and kisses and many tears, left our little corner of the world and set out on a grand adventure.  Ryan had a new job 1500 miles away, in a part of the country that neither of us had ever been.  I felt as if a part of my heart had been ripped out.  

Oh, I was happy for them, but oh-so-sad for me.  It was the end of shared Sunday afternoon meals.  The end of impromptu visits.  The end of frequent hugs from my boy. And the end of being a hands-on Gran to that brand new baby girl.  

As time went on, I adjusted to this loss.  I was very grateful to be living in the days of e-mail and cell phones and Facebook and Skype and even air travel (although I preferred that to be their air travel).  But an e-mail isn't the same as a hug.  And you can't fix a mug of hot chocolate via Facebook, or make a birthday cake, or hear giggles, or watch first steps, or help with a puzzle.  Or be a hands-on Gran to the second baby girl.   

Two years later, the family moved again...this time even further, almost an entire continent between us!  And with the greater distance, fewer visits.  And, in the new place, a baby boy came.

Again, I adjusted.  

So many families live apart these days.  Ours is not unique; I know that.  Most of the time, it is okay.  We have learned "how" to be apart, and yet remain an integral part of each other's lives. And I rest in the assurance that, because they are His, He has led them to each place.

But there are moments...

Like the moment when I see a homemade card from Eve sitting amid her cousin Gavin's birthday cards, and I wish she was at the party too.  

Like the moment that I open Facebook and see the sweet faces of those three grandbabies, having adventures of which I am not a part.  

Like the moment when we sit down to a holiday meal, and I wish there had been five more places set at the table.  

Like the moment that comes out of the blue when I feel the ache of missing them.  


But now...

Now, this very week, they are moving in a different direction.  This time, they travel east.  Oh, they will still be many miles from where we are, but we will be closer.  There will be more opportunities for visits.  We will be in the same time zone.  When we go to the ocean, it will be the same ocean.  

As in the other parts of their journey, the Lord's leading has seemed clear.  So while I will be "praying without ceasing" as they drive across the country, Ryan in the truck with their sweet dog Lucy, Sarah in the SUV with precious Eve, Nora, and Peter, I commit them to a faithful Creator who loves them more than I do.  


(Would you pray with me this week, Christian sisters, if the Lord brings them to your mind?)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: Church Picnic

What do you do when your church fellowship planned weeks ago to have a cook out on a particular Sunday evening...and then that particular Sunday evening is oppressively hot and humid? 




Good times!






Friday, July 13, 2012

Another Whim


Whim n: a capricious or eccentric and often sudden idea or turn of the mind; fancy.



In Monday's post, I alluded to another one of my whims or "sudden ideas."  

It began as a normal Saturday morning and coffee time with Ron.  But by the time morning had passed (including some time on Pinterest), I had convinced myself that one of these Rufus Porter style wall murals would be the thing to decorate the wall by my staircase.  

It kind of went like this...

On Friday, I repinned this mural onto my "I Could Live Here" Pinterest board.  


On Saturday morning, I saw that my friend Kim had commented on my pin, told me that she had a video on how to do these murals, and offered to loan it to me!  Really?!


And that's all it took.

Now I don't really know if I have the talent to do something on this scale.  My limited experience with folk art has been painting on small wooden objects like game boards and stools...most of it back in the 80's.  

I have never done anything like these...









Be still my heart.  

So I will watch the video...and consider.  

But what do I have to lose by trying?  If it ends up looking like a kindergarten coloring page, can't I just paint over it?  Nothing ventured, nothing gained?  Am I crazy?  (Debbie thinks so. ~smile~)

And what is it about Saturday mornings with me?


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 5 {Cheeseburger Salad...aka A Man Salad}


When my friend Jill shared three summer salad recipes with me, two of them appealed to me immediately.  I confess that I looked at this one, however, and thought, cheeseburger salad?  But Jill had said that they were "all very good in very different ways," and Jill knows her salads.  And when I presented the three ideas to Ron, he immediately got excited about Cheeseburger Salad!  

Oh, I am so glad I tried it because it. was. delicious.  

Think "cheeseburger" with great toppings and, instead of a bun, the most delicious croutons you've ever eaten.  And if there is a man in your house, I'll bet he will love it.  As a matter of fact, if there is anyone in your house, I'll bet they'll love it.

(This recipe comes to you from me from Jill from the Pioneer Woman, so instead of the recipe, I have provided the link, and you can read it in the Pioneer Woman's own inimitable style.)




Click ~ HERE~ for recipe.


This is another keeper.  We'll definitely be eating this again this summer!




Looking for a recipe from another week?



Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Miscellany


We've been in the laundry room.  


Not simply doing laundry.  It was time for our annual summer clean out.  

Our farmhouse is painfully short on storage space (which is why I am constantly looking for ways to hide ugly stuff), and our laundry room serves as linen closet, pantry, laundry center, home for the chest freezer, home for cleaning supplies and puzzles and craft supplies and games and school supplies.  And two card tables, one adult-sized, one kid-sized.  And the ironing board and a quilt hoop.  

You're probably thinking that it is a large room, but it is not.  It's just packed to capacity.  And over the school year, more things get tossed in, less gets straightened up, and when summer rolls around, there is no floor to be seen and you must enter at your own risk.

So the past couple of weeks have found us doing just that...entering at our own risk, and cleaning and sorting and removing bags of stuff.


We've been puzzling.  


Jigsaw puzzling, that is.  (We are usually inspired to do a puzzle after finding a stack of them on a shelf in the laundry room.)  Summer days are great for spreading a 1000-piece puzzle out on the dining room table and puzzling in fits and starts.  I love spending a few minutes here and there, building a puzzle and chatting with the girls.  Of course, building puzzles can be addictive.  Near the end, we are a bit obsessive and spend more than a few minutes.



I have declared it Craft Summer for Bekah.  


Again, this is inspired by the laundry room clean-out.  We uncovered oodles of craft kits, craft books, sewing projects, and art supplies!  I am requiring Bekah to try one project per week, which will serve two purposes.  One, she will learn some new skills and may, in the process, discover a handicraft that will become a hobby.  Two, the things that don't excite her we can eliminate from the craft shelf and buy ourselves some free space.     Win, win.



The temperatures are about twenty degrees cooler than they were last week!


But it is so dreadfully humid that I am still tempted to stay within the four walls of my air conditioned home. Some people can't be pleased.  Again, I am confirming my favorite weather quote which I stole from the sister of my friend Judy.

"The older I get, the narrower my window of acceptable temperatures."

Isn't that a gem?  Can any of you relate?  



Another whim has seized me.   


Maybe it was too much time spent in the laundry room.  Maybe my brain is sizzling in all this summer heat.  But a new house project is tickling my fancy, although I'm not sure if I have the ability to accomplish it.  Hmmm...


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: In the Pink Room

On most Sunday afternoons, the children play downstairs, or, weather permitting, outside.  The weather certainly did not permit on this scorching day.  Instead, Bekah hosted playtime in her upstairs bedroom this afternoon.  It was a thrill for everyone to be permitted to play upstairs!  

First Bekah and Maddie decided to play with their American Girl dolls and horses.  Then Gavin and Owen went up to play with the big box of Legos that are under Bekah's bed.  Then Ben went up to join the crowd.  And Alaine, not wishing to be left out of the party, asked to go "stairs" and up she went to play with the Fisher Price doll house most of the afternoon.  

I suppose everyone likes a change now and then.  

photos by Kati


Remember a few weeks back when I told you about the hip surgery video?  Well, today's activities included another medical element.  We got out the blood pressure monitor and measured everyone's blood pressure.  Yes, we're weird that way.    

photos by Kristin (l) and Kati (r)



(Would you think we were even more weird if I told you that we also took blood sugar readings using Ron's glucometer?  Okay, I won't tell you.)  







Saturday, July 7, 2012

Words

A few days ago, my friend Kim posted some wise words about...words.  Her words (and The Word that she referenced) spoke to me.  And challenged me.   You might want to read it too!  



In addition to being a wordsmith, Kim is a true blue artist.  She specializes in paper art including scherenschnitte, fraktur, and silhouettes, and she has recently illustrated a children's book. Nose about her web site while you're there!  The picture below is a lovely example of Kim's painted scherenschnitte.






And then yesterday, this was the morning reading in Daily Light on the Daily Path.  

(Do you think that the Lord is trying to tell me something?)




JULY 6, MORNING
Let your speech be always with grace.


A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear. — Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. — A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. — By thy words thou shalt be justified. — The tongue of the wise is health.


They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.


If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth. — Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and know-ledge, and in all diligence, ... see that ye abound in this grace also.

COL. 4:6. Prov. 25:11,12. ‑Eph. 4:29. ‑Matt. 12:35. -Matt. 12:37. ‑Prov. 12:18. Mal. 3:16. Jer. 15:19. ‑II Cor. 8:7.


I have read this over and over, letting the Word permeate.  

Lord, let my speech be always with grace.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *  ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * 


Linking up with Lorraine at 
With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart


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