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.


Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Resurrection Day 2013


What a glorious celebration, that in which we celebrate our Risen Lord!  


This morning, we gathered with our church family for a time of  rejoicing...in the Word, at His table, by lifting our hearts and voices to the King of Kings!  

♪♫  Christ the Lord is ris'n today, Alleluia!  ♫♪

♪♫  Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!  ♫

♫♪ Christ hath opened Paradise, Alleluia!  ♪♪



Back at home, we gathered with family, glorious songs of the Resurrection accompanying our gathering.    

Bekah's Resurrection Garden was the focal point of the children's table.  On Wednesday, I bemoaned the fact that I didn't remember to plan this project far enough in advance.  Bekah begged to do it anyway.  I insisted that the grass would not have time to grow in four days.  She insisted that it would work.  I told her that we didn't even have the materials.  She insisted that she could do it.  I told her to go for it.  She did...and we loved it!  

The "spring bunnies" wore tags and served as place cards for each of the little ones. 




Oh my.  Our buffet was scrumptious, full of colorful and delicious food.  Mom baked the ham and made deviled eggs and potato salad.  (Our family considers hers the best potato salad in the world.  Occasionally, Mom will offer to bring something else instead.  But after a general uproar and twisting of arms, we usually convince her that our Resurrection Day meal would not be complete without it.)  Kristin brought homemade rolls. (Swoon.)  My mother-in-law brought Jello in her vintage bowl, as she always makes Jello for her Jello-lovin' boy.  (Never mind that her "boy" is 56 years old.  We moms know the deal.)  We made some side dishes and we were good to go.  

(Please do not take note of the photographer's plate in the picture below.  Thank you.)



I love my Peeps!





Did I say the meal was scrumptious?  So was dessert!  Coconut cream pie, pineapple lush cake, cupcakes with sprinkles, chocolate chip cookie dough dip.  Say what?!  




And then, just in case the kiddos did not get enough sugar (!!), we had a hunt for chocolate eggs! There are two eggs hidden in the collage below.  Can you find them?  ;)



The proud (and artistic) winner, Gavin! ☺




Death has been swallowed up in victory. 
Where, O Death, is your victory?
Where, O Death, is your sting?

(I Corinthians 15:54-55)








Saturday, March 30, 2013

Behold, the Lamb!



"Who would have thought that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men?”
(lyric from the modern hymn "Wonderful, Merciful Savior" by Eric Wyse and Dawn Rogers)


Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.
And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.
For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.
(Exodus 12:21-23)

Behold, the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world!
(John 1:29)

... the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
(Revelation 13:8)

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, 
as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world,
but was manifest in these last times for you.
(I Peter 1:18-20)

Christ our passover is sacrificed for us.
(I Corinthians 5:7)





♪ ♫ "Who would have thought that a Lamb could rescue the souls of men?” ♪ ♫
(Click for youtube video.)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gathering {Follow-up}

Reflections...
Since I wrote a 31-day series on hospitality back in October, some of you assume that I have it all together and throw fabulous dinner parties on a regular basis.

We do host almost all of our family's holiday dinners, and we have our married daughter Kristin and her family over every Sunday (although they aren't "company").  But I can be the victim of my own procrastination and don't have people over nearly as often as I would like!  

The gathering that I talked about this week...well, it almost didn't happen because of that procrastination!  I had spoken with the other moms in our co-op about having a game night and ran a couple of dates past them.  And then life went on and I kept forgetting to finalize the date and decide whom to invite and then I thought I had enough time to ask everyone and then I realized that it was Monday and I had planned the party for Friday. Yikes!  So I emailed invitations and sent private Facebook messages to the ladies, and, believe it or not, everyone except for one friend could come.  Hooray!  


Besides the fact that I got off to a rocky start with my delayed invites, everything else went along fairly smoothly.  


There were several things that helped in making the evening relaxing and enjoyable.  

1)  I kept the menu simple and accepted offers from my guests.

I checked the weather forecast and decided that it would be cool enough to serve soup.  I love making soup and I think that it simplifies the rest of the menu.  Soup, salad, bread, and dessert. That's it.  Whew!  I made  Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup, springboarding from a recipe that Kati had seen on a blog that she follows.  One of my guests volunteered to bring a salad. Another volunteered to bring bread.  Bekah and I made dessert.  (More on that later.)  I had planned to make hors d'oeuvres (spinach-artichoke dip and bagel chips), but I forgot.  The brain...sigh...

2)  I made a schedule of all that must be done ahead.

Now remember, I didn't even know if this was going to fly until Tuesday, so I didn't have lots of time to prepare.  But I knew that Kati, my right-hand-girl-and-party-partner, was going to be out of town for most of Friday, so I knew that I'd have to have my ducks in a row to be prepared by Friday evening.  So I planned out blocks of time to take care of all the "necessities" (necessities on my list anyway; your list might look different), juggled the regular housecleaning schedule, and made lists.

Really, the only "extra" think I did was to apply the magic treatment to my white dishes.  And they really needed the touch up; it had been a year.


3)  I went with a casual feel and planned my table accordingly.  

With a simple menu and a simple theme (games), casual seemed the way to go.  I went to my napkin cabinet (yes, I do have such a thing!) and found a package of yellow paper napkins that I had purchased last year at Ikea.  (If you're ever in Ikea, be sure to pick up a few packages.  They are large dinner-size napkins.  They come in lots of pretty colors.  There are fifty in a pack. They are cheap...$1.99.  Get some.)  I was going to use my white dishes (remember those?), and I thought that the bright yellow napkins would be spring-y and cheerful.  I don't mind using paper napkins in a casual setting.  Do you?

When I went food shopping, I picked up a pot of yellow tulips (also spring-y and cheerful) to use as a table centerpiece.   I took off the (ugly) flowered plastic stuff wrapped around the pot, and plopped the plant in an old yellow ware bowl that I took from a kitchen shelf.  I went back to the same cabinet (it also houses all my table linens) and chose a white homespun runner.  I put white candles in some pewter candlesticks...and all of my decorating was done.




TMI?  (Too much information?)

Probably so.  Ron suggests that I often use too many words to answer a question or tell a story (ahem), and I have probably answered questions that you didn't even have in the first place! But you did ask some questions and I am going to answer them here in as few words as possible.  Or not.  



What did you make? That dessert looks yummy, did our Kati  make it?  (Notice how she is now our Kati?)  

Please share of that delicious looking dessert. ~smile~

The dessert was Lemon Cheesecake Mousse.  The day after I sent out my e-invites, this luscious dessert was featured on the Reluctant Entertainer.  Sandy said it was yummy and easy...two key words!  It certainly was beautiful, so I decided right then that this would be our dessert for Friday evening.

I asked Kati about how difficult it would be to pipe the mousse into the ramekins.  Bekah quickly said that she thought she could do it, so when Kati left for the day, she left Bekah the decorating tips for the job.  When it came time to make the dessert, Bek jumped right in, squeezing lemons, grating zest...and piping that mousse into the ramekins!  She had never piped before, and was a little disappointed that they weren't perfect, but I assured her that they were gorgeous!  What do you think?


(I'll share the recipe at the end of the post.)

Oh, and yes.  I did notice that she is "our Kati"...and I'm okay with that.  ☺



What was the main course?

The main course was Chicken and Wild Rice Soup.  I'll share the recipe sometime next week.  



What kind of games?

We played Catch Phrase and Apples to Apples.



Catch Phrase is kind of a word-lover's "hot potato."  A player tries to get her team to guess the word or phrase displayed on the game gizmo, all while the beeper is beeping faster and faster. When the team guesses correctly, the gizmo is passed to the next team who must do the same thing.  If the buzzer goes off when your team is holding the gizmo, the other team gets a point. Unlike Taboo or Pictionary which have limits to how to get your team to guess, in Catch Phrase you can use words or gestures or sound effects or almost anything except saying the word or the letters in it.

This game is where a lot of the laughs came in!  Imagine having to describe a rather shocking word while all of your teammates are shocked at your description.  I will say no more.

Apples to Apples is much slower paced, but lots of fun as well.  Players try to match one of the red cards in their hands to the word on the green card played by the judge who will then select the red card that she thinks is the closest match.  Players all take turns being the judge.  



How long did the ladies stay?

Dinner was served at 6:00 pm.  We chatted over dinner, and then lingered while chatting some more.  There was more talk over dessert and coffee/tea.

We began to play games between 7:30 and 8:00. The first lady needed to leave around 9:00. The others all left around 10:30.  We were still having fun, but I suppose the night must end sometime.  



Here's that dessert recipe I promised...


LEMON CHEESECAKE MOUSSE

(Makes 5 servings)

Ingredients:
1  1/2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
garnish: lemon slices, lemon zest, strawberry slices, or mint leaves
 
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer), beat heavy cream until stiff peaks form, about 3 minutes on high.  Spoon into another bowl and set aside.
  2. Add cream cheese and sugar to mixing bowl, and beat at medium speed about 1 minute.  Gradually pour in lemon juice and continue to beat for 2 to 3 minutes or until fluffy.
  3. Fold in whipped cream.  Spoon into individual bowls or ramekins, filling about half way.  Pipe remaining mousse to make decorative top.  
  4. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Just before serving, garnish with lemon slice, strawberry slice, and a dusting of lemon zest.
***

Note: The Reluctant Entertainer recipe called for light cream cheese, which I used in the first batch.  When I went to make a second recipe, I found I only had regular cream cheese, so I used it.  I found that the mousse made with regular cream cheese had a better consistency and was easier to pipe.  



As I said in this post, I always wonder why I don't do things like this more often!  It takes a bit of planning, but it is so rewarding to open your home and provide a time of fellowship and encouragement for friends and family.



Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bread On Tuesday ~ Week 12 {Bunny Bread}


I decided to wrap up my Bread On Tuesday series with a fun-and-fancy bread recipe!  



I first saw these sweet little bunnies in a Good Housekeeping magazine...the April 1992 issue, to be exact!  But for years I used the recipe to make dinner rolls and never made the bunnies.  


Today, we made bunnies!  



And don't you think they're the cutest things?

They have a sweet surprise tucked inside, a Hershey's Kiss (although ours have a Hershey's egg instead because Hershey's eggs were on sale ~smile~).

So they're cute, they have a sweet surprise, and guess what else?  They don't take long to make!  No rise time, only 15 minutes to rest the dough.

Of course, we had to sample one before we could recommend them to you (of course!), but after deciding that they were delicious as well as adorable, I wrapped them and popped them into the freezer to wait for the grands on Sunday.  (At our house, we don't make a big deal out of bunnies and chicks on Resurrection Day, choosing rather to focus on the spiritual aspect of the holiday.  But I am making an exception this year, because these are too cute not to share.  We'll just call them "spring bunnies.")

Wouldn't these bunnies be a darling addition to your table any springtime day?  I think so!


This week's bread...


(Makes 8 bunnies)


Ingredients:
2 packages quick-rising yeast
1/2 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon salt

4 1/2 cups flour, divided
6 tablespoons butter
2 large eggs
8 Hershey's kisses
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar

Directions:
  1. In a bowl, combine yeast, sugar, salt, and 1 cup flour.  In saucepan over medium heat, beat margarine and 1 cup water until very warm (125°F).
  2. With mixer at low speed, beat liquid into dry ingredients.  At medium speed, beat 2 minutes.  Reserve 1 egg white; beat in egg and egg yolk with 1 cup flour.  Beat 2 minutes.  Stir in 2 1/4 cups flour.
  3. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes, working in about 1/4 cup flour while kneading.  Shape dough into ball; cover and let rest 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease 2 cookie sheets.  Cut dough into eighths.  
  5. For 1 bunny: Cut 1 piece dough in half; shape half into ball, with a kiss in enter for body.  Place on cookie sheet.  Cut other half in half and shape one half into a ball; brush with egg white; place next to large ball, tucking slightly under it for head.  From remaining half, pinch off 3/4-inch piece for tail and shape 2 ears.  Brush tail and ears with egg white; tuck slightly under bunny.  Brush body with egg white.  
  6. Make 3 more bunnies.  Bake 15 minutes or until browned.  Cool on rack.  
  7. Repeat to make 4 more.  
  8. Mix confectioners' sugar with about 1/4 teaspoon water and a hint of red food coloring (for pink); use to draw faces on bunnies.  Tie bows around bunnies' necks (optional).  

MY NOTES:
  • I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for both mixing and kneading the dough.
  • Remember that you can use the same recipe to make dinner rolls, if you don't have the inclination to make bunnies.  They are quick and good!




This concludes our Bread On Tuesday series!  Next week, I'll have a tidy little post with all the links, a Pin-able button, and a few notes about bread making.


I hope you have enjoyed this third series of "On Tuesday" recipes.  (Others were Soup on Tuesday last winter, and Salad On Tuesday last summer.)  I'm already thinking about another series for this coming summer!  




And they told what things were done in the way, 
and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

Luke 24:35




Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 5: Rosemary Bread
Week 6: Cheddar Biscuits
Week 9: Coconut Bread
Week 10:  Naan
Week 11:  French Bread

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gathering


Preparing our home, preparing our hearts
to host a group of ladies for a simple dinner and games.



Getting excited!
Why don't we do this more often?



Seven ladies.  All ages.  
From 19 to a couple of 50-somethings. 



Laughing...lots of laughing!



Talking...lots of talking!
Kids, homeschooling, recipes.
Downton Abbey, Survivor, The Price is Right.
Country music, '80's music, Donny Osmond.
Kids (uh huh), husbands, parents.



Sweet fellowship.



Blessing and blessed.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Jelly Beans


A small boy spied the jar of jelly beans waaaay up at the top of  Gran's computer cabinet.
"What's that up there?" he asked, rather knowing what was up there.

When dessert was served, Aunt Kati fetched the tempting jar,
and all of the kiddos had a handful of jelly beans along with their chocolate oatmeal cake.




It's the little things, you know.






Friday, March 22, 2013

The History Books of Genevieve Foster



Today I am sharing an article that I recently wrote for our local homeschool newsletter.  


A few weeks ago, I began reading George Washington’s World to my youngest child, my last homeschool student.  As I opened the book, I wondered if this would be my last time to read this aloud.  Secretly, I hoped not, although it is likely to be.

You see, I have read George Washington’s World to my students several times over the years.  I have also read Augustus Caesar’s World, The World of Columbus and Sons, The World of Captain John Smith, and Abraham Lincoln’s World, all by Genevieve Foster.  And can I say that I have enjoyed these history books every bit as much as my children have? 

Genevieve Foster (1893-1979) was a commercial artist turned housewife who believed that there must be a better way to learn history than the way that she had learned it.  I believe that she found a better way!  She wrote history for children “horizontally” as opposed to “vertically,” an innovative approach.  Foster would take a central historical figure and write not only about that person’s life, but about key people who lived and events that were taking place all over the world during the time that that person lived.  Learning history in the traditional way, she said, “was about as dull and unsatisfying as a play might be, if only one character appeared upon the stage, while the others faintly mumbled their lines in the wings, out of sight of the audience.”

Foster wrote and illustrated nineteen books, four of which were Newbery Honor books. 

Each of the five books that I have named above is divided into five parts, each part a section of the main character’s life span.  At the beginning of each section is a double page spread of illustrations featuring other historical figures and events that take place during that life stage, with a very brief description under each illustration.  We take the time to look at each one and read all the captions before we read that section, familiarizing ourselves with the main players before we read the details. 

Then comes the narrative, masterfully told as a story (for isn’t history a story?), engaging readers young and old.  Even my youngest children have listened in as I read aloud to their older siblings.  We learn of the main character, his parents, siblings, childhood friends, little-known stories about his life.  We get to know him.  Then we are introduced to other people who were alive in his world, those near and those far, all across the globe.  Chapters are brief, the stories well told.  At the end of the section, we go back to the illustrations and review the characters and events we have just learned.  (Charlotte Mason would call this narration.) 

We continue this pattern through the remaining sections of the book, continuing to add to our knowledge of the main character and of the other players, adding more as we go along. 

By the time we have finished our story, we have developed an intimate acquaintance with the main character (as well as many others), and feel as if we have lived in his time. 

While these books are not specifically Christian (there is discussion of other religions and cultures, and these are treated with equal respect), there is also fair representation of Christianity, much more than would be offered in a typical modern history textbook.  Let me share a passage that moved us when we read Abraham Lincoln’s World.

It was the mid 1830’s, and four Nez Perce Indians from Oregon had traveled eastward seeking the white man’s Book of Heaven.  At the end of a 200-mile journey, they came to St. Louis, where they were warmly received by General William Clark (of the Lewis and Clark expedition) and his men.  They spent the winter there, and were lavishly “wined and dined,” so to speak,

...but they were disappointed. At the farewell dinner in the spring, one of the Nez Perce rose and addressed the company.
“I came to you over the trail of many moons from the setting sun. My people sent me to get the white man’s Book of Heaven. You took me to where you allow your women to dance, as we do not ours: and the Book was not there! You took me to where they worship the Great Spirit with candles and incense, and the Book was not there. You make my feet heavy with gifts, and yet the Book is not among them! I came with an eye partly open for my people who sit in darkness. How can I go back blind to my blind people? I have no more words.”

Isn’t that poignant? 
“The book was not there.”

We began by learning history; we discovered a treasure.

Here within the pages of our history book, we were saddened by the disappointment of the men who had come to find truth and did not find it. We were inspired to look through spiritual eyes in our interactions with people...and not be so ready to offer them entertainment or earthly treasure, when their hearts are searching for eternal treasure.

So do you see why I do not want this to be my last time through the Genevieve Foster books of history? 

Hmmm...maybe I can “borrow” a few children from my daughters and my daughter-in-law and read to them.  I wonder...

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Note Card Party: Green


My mom says that I was born three weeks late...and I haven't caught up yet!  Such is the case with this month's Note Card Party, hosted by the charming Vee, as I squeak in just under the wire to join in the festivities. 


This is the time of year that has me seeing green.  Not green with envy, just green with thoughts of spring.  It's not quite green yet outside our back door (hey, at least it isn't white as it is in Vee's corner today!), but I can do my best to bring some touches of green inside the house.

Here are my note card selections, each with a touch of green.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *  ~


Green on the kitchen table last spring.  
It looks much the same this year, but with a different table runner and a new candle.




Topiaries have replaced the china tea set 
which replaced the della robbia mantel 
which replaced the parade of white mini pumpkins.



The bean pot beside Hudson lamb has a sprig of green tucked in to welcome spring.




On second thought, there IS some green outside my door!
Well, just barely outside the door...
hanging on the door.
We celebrate the Risen Lord!







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, March 19, 2013

Bread On Tuesday ~ Week 11 {French Bread}


French bread was the first bread that I ever made!  

When I was a newlywed (34 years ago), my aunt gave me a cookbook that her local women's club had published.  I was not a proficient cook in those days (to say the least!), but I perused the recipes in this book, knowing that "real" women had made them.  For some reason, one day I decided to make French bread. 

 


Amazingly enough, the bread turned out beautiful and delicious!  Beginner's luck maybe, but I even impressed a few people by giving loaves of French bread as Christmas gifts.   

Although it takes a little time, the process is relatively simple...and maybe you'll impress your friends and family with your baking prowess. 



This week's bread...


(Makes 1 loaf)


Ingredients:
1  1/4 cup warm water
1 package quick-rising yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons shortening
1  teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
  1. Mix water and yeast into mixing bowl.  Stir to dissolve.
  2. Stir in other ingredients and mix with spoon until smooth.  Knead dough until smooth and elastic.
  3. Round up in greased bowl; turn to bring greased side up.  Cover with damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Punch down.  Let dough rise again until doubled, about 20 minutes.
  5. Roll into 15 x 10-inch oblong.  Roll up tightly toward you.  Seal by pinching each end together.  With hands on each end, roll gently back and forth to lengthen loaf and taper ends.
  6. Place diagonally on lightly greased baking sheet.  Make 1/4-inch slashes on dough ant 2-inch intervals.  Brush with cold water and let stand 45 minutes.  
  7. Brush again and bake at 375°F for 35 to 40 minutes, until top is golden brown.
  8. Cool on rack before slicing.

MY NOTES:
  • I used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer for both mixing and kneading the dough.
  • If you use active dry yeast (as opposed to the quick-rising), double all suggested rising times.
  • I sometimes use a combination of half white flour/half whole wheat pastry flour for a loaf of French wheat bread...yum!




One more week in our Bread On Tuesday series.  
Check back next week for a bread with a fun surprise!





Then she arose with her daughters in law, that she might return from the country of Moab: for she had heard in the country of Moab how that the Lord had visited his people in giving them bread.

Ruth 1:6




Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 5: Rosemary Bread
Week 6: Cheddar Biscuits
Week 9: Coconut Bread
Week 10:  Naan

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