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.


Friday, August 31, 2012

The Last Week of Summer



As I prefer to observe the seasons unscientifically (posh to all the talk of equinoxes and solstices), I have considered this last week of August to be the final week of summer.

I have spent this week...


  • Enjoying quiet mornings.  Morning's pace picks up once school begins again, so I have been soaking up the slow, leisurely beginnings of days.  

  • Doing some fun things in the kitchen.  On Tuesday, each of us girls had a project.  Kati made a luscious pineapple cake.  Bekah made chocolate cookies by herself (per her request).  And I finally tried my hand at making pesto.  

  • Celebrating my birthday.  Yes, I know I celebrated with my family on Sunday at our triple birthday party, but...when Kati volunteered to make a cake and told me to invite a few friends over... What's a mom to do?  I e-mailed some of my homeschool friends, they came, and we were all treated to tea and coffee, cake and fruit, at a beautifully set table.  I didn't lift a finger.  (Okay, I sliced some strawberries.  No big deal.)  It was a delightful, relaxing afternoon.  Girl time at its best.








  • Saying "farewell" to summer in our favorite way.  Sipping Frappuccinos and meandering through Barnes and Noble.  


Next week Ron is off and Kati is scheduled to have dental surgery, so the week will have quite a different tone.  The following week we are back to (home)school and back to routine and back to the time of year that I love most.

How are you ending your summer?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

12 Summer Salads {Round Up}

Because I like an index of sorts to order my thoughts, I have created this reference page to all the recipes I have featured here over the summer.  

(I think I am hungry just looking at them all again.)







Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Souvenir From the Seashore


Last week, Mom, my sister Linda, Kati, Bekah, and I made our annual trek to the beach for a day of family fun in the sun.  





The surf was quite rough that day.   Mom, Linda, and I mostly sit in our beach chairs and talk, and the girls are in and out of the water.  But because of the rough water (and high tide), I wouldn't let Bekah go out alone.   



At one point Bekah wanted to walk down to the pier to get some sea weed that clings to the pilings, and Mom volunteered to take a walk with her.  



They were walking along at the edge of the water, hardly even getting their toes wet...



...when a HUGE wave broke behind them, knocking them both completely off their feet! 

Bekah was able to get back up rather easily, but Mom was not.  She panicked, lying in the ocean with the water over her head (she doesn't swim), and feeling herself being pulled out to sea!  There were some tense moments. 

(At this point, I must add that Linda, Kati, and I were totally oblivious to the events on the shoreline, and were still chatting away in our comfy beach chairs.)

Mom finally managed to get back on her feet after the wave ebbed.  Whew!

Oh, but she was a sandy, wet mess!   She had a TON of sand in her bathing suit after being tossed about by the wave.  After considering several options, she decided to just let the sand be, and deal with it when she got back home.  



POST SCRIPT...

Mom called the next day to tell us this story.  

After she got home, she went into their backyard shed to take down her bathing suit and brush out all the sand.   She brushed it out, pulled her suit back up, went inside and showered.  Later she went back out to the shed to sweep out the sand...and there was a sand crab crawling around on the floor in the sand!!  

Source


She said if she had known that that thing was in her bathing suit, she'd have ripped that suit off right there on the beach!  

I guess it's a good thing she didn't know, huh?


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 12 {Autumn Chopped Salad}


Today's post is the last one in my series on summer salads. 

But wait!  Did I really sneak in an autumn salad here at the end?  You bet I did!  (And I'll bet you're not even surprised.)

Saturday was one of those days that portended fall.  It was dark and rainy all day long and, inside my air conditioned home, I could pretend that it was cool and that the air was crisp. Stepping outside would have ruined the illusion, so I just didn't.  It was the perfect day to be inside anyway.  

So we did indoor things and baked and cleaned and got ready for Sunday's birthday bash.  When the dinner hour approached, I lit a crème brûlée candle, put pecan chicken in the oven, and the girls and I prepared this Autumn Chopped Salad.  I must say that it was a hit...even with the Salad Skeptic (whose identity I will protect, although you can probably guess who he is). Hooray!

If you want to pretend it's fall, try this salad.  Or if you're still eking out the last bit of summer, try it just because it's good!






Ingredients:
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 red pears, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 6 oz. crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


Directions:
  1. Toss together the lettuce, pears, dried cranberries, pecans, bacon, and blue cheese* in a large serving bowl.  
  2. Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Pour desired amount over salad mixture and toss to coat.**



* Because not everyone cares for blue cheese, I omitted it from the salad mixture, then served it separately to add as desired.

** When I make this salad again, I will not pour the dressing over the whole salad, but will let each person add it to their own serving.  Otherwise, the leftovers are soggy.  Believe it or not, there were leftovers, even though each of us ate a healthy portion.  You might want to consider halving this recipe if you are serving it to a small number of people.  (On the other hand, you might want leftovers!)



And now, on to autumn!  (If only the weather would cooperate with me!)





Looking for a recipe from another week?

Week 1:   BLT Macaroni Salad
Week 2:   Pesto Pasta Salad


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: Triple Birthday Party 2012


When three generations of women 
celebrate birthdays within a span of eleven days

they decide to get together and
the cake and the attention and the laughs and the food

and have one big party!  


Today was the day! 


This year's theme was cupcakes.  
(We are three women who love a theme!)

I totally copied Vee's jar of zinnias, mint, and rosemary!  
(Thank you for the inspiration for our party table, Vee!) 



We had a delicious salad lunch...
chicken salad, a colorful tossed salad, Caesar pasta salad,
mixed fruit salad with custard sauce, Caprese salad.
(I'm afraid we're not going to get skinny eating all these yummy salads!)




We visited and gave gifts and watched darling baby Isabel walk.

And, of course, we talked.  Quite a bit.

And laughed.  Oh indeed we did!  

(In fact, I got permission to tell you one of the funny stories. 
I'll tell you about it later this week.  I think you'll laugh too.)





Here are the birthday girls!





We only had to blow out 24 candles between us.

If we had each had a candle for every year, we would have had
157 candles!

(But we didn't want to set off the smoke alarm.  Yikes!)


And thus ends the crazy August Birthday Season.






Saturday, August 25, 2012

Leftovers

I'm not talking about dinner leftovers, although I love those.  I'd much rather have some reheated soup or some salad for lunch than a sandwich.  

But the leftovers I'm talking about today are leftovers from our kitchen remodel.  

The scariest part of the kitchen remodel for me was the day that Ron put in our countertop...and asked ME to help him measure!  ACK!!  Too much pressure!  I was so afraid that we would make a mistake, and how do you fix a mistake that you discover after you have cut this costly piece of wood that can only be purchased at a store that is a couple of hours drive from your house?  And then the two 45° pieces did. not. meet.  (We later realized--after some blood, sweat, and tears--that it was the wall that was not square, not our countertop measurements/cuts.)  And then there was the opening for the sink...

~shudder~  

Why am I reliving this?  The good news is that the measuring is done.  The kitchen remodel is done.  And now we have leftovers.  

Leftover countertop, to be exact.  Made into a new cutting board.

These kinds of leftovers are great!  


I'm putting the cutting board to good use...






And there were enough "leftovers" to make another for Kristin's birthday.



And Ron thinks that he will have just enough to make one for Kati (who drooled over mine).  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Dress Project {Dull Denim Dress}

On June 3, my daughter Kristin announced The Dress Project Summer Challenge.  I immediately put on my thinking cap, but it took me (actually us) all summer to get that project finished!  




Many of the entries have been "saves"--dresses or shirts that would have gone to the rag bag if their creative owners had not made them over, covering stains or tears, or adding length. 

Our project, however, simply upgraded a slightly dull denim dress to a dress with some spunk.  Pink spunk at that, to please the wearer.  




Bekah and I worked on this project together.  

Bekah was able to meet two of her "Craft Summer" weekly projects by creating two different embellishments to pin onto the dress.  The first, a felt flower, was created using a Martha Stewart kit that I had bought on clearance a couple of years ago.  The other, a felt cupcake with bead "sprinkles" and a button "cherry", was an evolution of an idea found in the children's craft book Made By Me.  

Then, I sewed some ribbon onto the fabric belt of the dress, and it was ready to wear!  



From drab to spunky...with a bit of felt, some simple stitches, a spark of creativity...and an entire summer!
(Because that's how we procrastinators operate.)




P.S. The Dress Project is open to participants through August 31!  (And there are prizes too!)  
Click  ~HERE~  for details.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Salad On Tuesday: Week 11 {Asian Chicken Salad}


Putting on my deerstalker and getting out my magnifying glass (think Sherlock Holmes), I went in search of a recipe for my favorite salad at Panera Bread, the Asian Chicken Salad.  I thought that I could wing it on the salad ingredients and their proportions (although I had mistakenly assumed that you could buy the wonton strips), but I wanted some guidance in making the dressing.  Yes, I knew that sesame oil was a key ingredient, but I knew I needed to nail the dressing in order to convince myself that this salad-at-home was an acceptable substitute.

This detective did not have to search long to find this copycat recipe...on Panera's own website, no less, giving evidence of credibility.

Last week, the girls and I pitched in to make this salad...Kati washing and spinning Romaine, Bekah chopping cilantro, me frying wonton strips, both girls making the all-important dressing.  Then we all sat down to this very convincing Asian Chicken Salad...not quite as good as the real deal, but a satisfying substitute.    




Click ~ HERE~ for recipe.


Notes:

  • When frying the wonton strips, be aware that they cook within seconds.  I could barely get them out of the hot oil before they were too brown.  (I did not measure the temperature of my oil as the recipe directs, so that may have been the problem.)
  • Next time, I'll add a little more rice vinegar to the dressing for a bit more tang.  


Well, we're almost at summer's end (picture me with a huge grin while saying that), but I have one more salad to share next Tuesday.

Have you been enjoying some new salads as I have been this summer?




Looking for a recipe from another week?

Week 1:   BLT Macaroni Salad
Week 2:   Pesto Pasta Salad



Monday, August 20, 2012

Reflections

It is now twelve years later...and my heart is still full of praise...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Snapshots: Celebrate Without Ice Cream

Last Sunday we celebrated an anniversary, with ice cream.  This Sunday we celebrated a birthday, without ice cream.  And even without birthday cake!  But don't feel sorry for us.

All summer long we celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, but August is crazy.  (I've enumerated them before, so I'll spare you the list.)  Today was a birthday dinner in Kristin's honor.  

Our longtime tradition is to let the Birthday Girl (or Boy) choose the menu on her (or his) special day. Kristin is easy to please and said "Anything is fine."  So I presented several options and she chose to have crab cakes.  (Can I help it if crab cakes are one of my favorites too?)

Kati was in charge of dessert and told Kristin to check out her Pinterest board.  Merciful heavens!  The dessert was Peanut Butter Brownie Fudge Trifle.  Seriously.

I'll bet you don't feel sorry for us.  


Top left: Singing Happy Birthday    Top right: Peanut Butter Brownie Fudge Trifle
Bottom left: Crab cakes    Bottom right: Alaine helping her mama open presents


What would you choose for your birthday dinner?






Friday, August 17, 2012

Packing Lunches...Bekah Style

When the Pottery Barn Kids catalog came in the mail, I took a quick glance and laid it aside.  I love getting inspiration from their great kids' bedroom designs, but this particular catalog was a "Back to School" edition with backpacks and lunchboxes, and  our "Back to (Home)School" requires neither.

And then later, I heard ooh-ing and aah-ing.  Extreme ooh-ing and aahing.  Someone was impressed with something.  

I found Bekah with the Pottery Barn catalog.  And she was ooh-ing and aah-ing over the beautiful lunch presentations!  Oooh, the wee containers of berries!  Aaah, the veggies and dip!  The tic-tac-toe sandwiches!  The butterfly sandwiches!  Such beauty!

She tore the pages of artful lunch ideas from the catalog before she returned it to the recycle pile.  






I have often said that one of the (many) benefits of homeschooling is that I do not have to pack lunches.  I only need to pack lunches for our monthly co-op, and I usually whine complain fret about that.  (I just never know what to pack.  I'm not a big fan of sandwiches, and what else do you put in a lunch box?  Especially when you're running late, which is almost always.)  

But after witnessing Bekah's thrill at the beautiful lunch presentations, I have determined to make our co-op lunches shine this year!

I surprised Bekah with an "unbirthday" gift of a multi-compartment lunch container that she had admired. She is already making plans for the first couple of lunches.  We will be more organized about pre-planning and having the right supplies on hand.  Bekah may even do the assembling and packing herself.  

One of the (many) joys of raising children is seeing their individual personalities blossom...watching to see what they love, what their talents are, what makes their heart sing!  

And when something so simple makes my girl's heart sing, then why not encourage the singing?   

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Potpourri

Bekah is sporting her new {free} haircut.  I love it, but I think it makes her look older.  Sniff...


(Bekah, squinting in the sun's glare, but looking cute!)




Pear sauce (or should it be pearsauce?) is simmering on the stove.  Ron brought home a bowlful of pears from the tree on his mom's property.  The pears didn't say "eat me" because they were a little spotty, and I didn't think that I would have enough to make a batch of jam.  So I decided to just peel and core and cut into chunks, add a smidge of sugar, a shake or two of ground ginger, and let them simmer away.  It seems that they are taking forever to cook down, I am captive to the stove for fear that they will burn, and I doubt that anyone will have more than a dollop on their dinner plate tonight.  But the kitchen smells wonderful, so if everyone enjoys their dollop tonight, I may ask for more pears and make a proper batch. 





Click the pic to purchase!


I have seen this e-book recommended on a couple of blogs that I read regularly...a book about making pantry staples from scratch.  No one could call me a health food nut (no snickering out there!), but I am conscious of the benefits of cooking from scratch, thus avoiding the glut of chemical additives in processed food.  But this book is not so much about "cooking" as it is about making the things that you cook with from scratch.  Things like taco seasoning, and ketchup, and buttercream icing, and colored sugar, and baking mixes.  

I purchased mine last night for the crazy low price of $0.99!  (It will be this price through August 21, so if you're interested, now's the time to get it.)

{ETA:  I have neither a Kindle nor a Nook!  You can download the book in PDF form to your computer!}


  

I have saved the best for last...

Early this week, a very tall pine tree toppled in my parents' yard.  Actually, the top broke off and fell, although  this top was as big as some trees!  Mom went out to feed the squirrels as she does every morning, and there it lay...a huge mess of trunk and branches and debris.  They hadn't even heard it fall!  

Not ones to let anything lay around, within an hour or two they had contacted a tree guy (what is the proper title for a tree guy?) who came and cleaned it all up.  By that afternoon, you couldn't even tell what had happened.  

Now I must tell you that the pine was on the side of their house where their bedroom is located.  If it had fallen on their house...   

~ ~ shudder ~ ~  

And do you know what the tree man told Mom?  That the way that it broke, the tree "should" have fallen on their house...but it looked like a hand had taken hold of it and turned it around as it fell.   

I wonder whose hand that was.  

Thank you, Lord!


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Note Card Party: Ice Cream


The photos I have chosen for Vee's August Note Card Party have a definite summer theme!

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



At our house, summer and homemade ice cream go hand in hand.
Join us as we dish some up...


How about some good old vanilla (so you can add toppings!)?



Or some of my favorite, chocolate?



Want to get crazy and eat some tutti-frutti?


No matter what kind you choose, 
it is a thrilling moment when the lid comes off 
and that creamy sweetness is revealed!  






BONUS: 

The children like to sit on the trampoline when they eat their ice cream.
They have done it for years.

Can you find one that is different?


{Silly Uncle Ryan!}  



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