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, June 30, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: A Rainy Sunday

~ rainy Sunday afternoon ~
~ hydrangeas ~
~ cool dessert ~
~ girls playing paper dolls ~
~ boys playing Wii ~
~ adults playing Dutch Blitz ~
~ polka dots ~
~ posing for the camera ~
~ shunning the camera ~


~ showers of blessings ~






Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Morning Chat




Believe it or not, this was our first full week of summer vacation.  My student and I are both slow, meandering sort of people, and our school year just kind of drifted off as we completed one thing and then another and then another until we found a place to land.  We are both fine with that.

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

For me, summer vacation means two things.  
1) Birthdays.  There are a gazillion of them during July and August. Lots of shopping. Lots of wrapping. Some mailing of packages. Lots of cake. Lots of list checking. Lots of happy.  (Lots of anniversaries too!)  
2) Organizing.  A freer schedule in the summer means that there is time to purge and organize...closets, drawers, book shelves, school supplies, kitchen cabinets, and the dreaded laundry room. My plan for this summer is to take two weeks for each room.  
We just finished our two weeks in Bekah's room. Bekah is not a purger. She is a keeper. But she really wanted to tidy and organize her room, so she made a concerted effort to eliminate and give away and store things for her future children. We rearranged her furniture, flipped her reversible duvet to the opposite side, and gave her a fresh look. Kati and I love it! Bekah...have I told you she resists change? She's still not sure...

 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 


Yesterday was a big day for us.  

Bekah began a new adventure. She joined a book club! (A big deal.)

When the homeschool mom who is hosting it first told me about it, I mentioned it to Bekah. Her first reaction, "That sounds like fun!," was quickly followed by a subdued "But I'd have to talk." 

I must tell you that the at-home Bekah is a chatterbox. But the away-from-home Bekah, not so much. So the thought of having to talk, especially extemporaneously (maybe she's like her mama?), was a daunting prospect. However, The Day came, she went to the book club, she actually talked, and on the way home declared that "It was fun!"  Success!



 ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 

After the book club, we came home to finish preparations for a mother/daughter dinner-and-games party! 

We made hors d'oeuvres and dessert. I relied on my recent Fruit On Tuesday recipes and made Fire and Ice Salsa (as promised, kicked up a notch with the jalapeño!) and Blackberry PavlovaWe had asked each mother/daughter pair to bring a salad. What fun! We had great variety (a pesto pasta salad, a Greek pasta salad, taco salad, Waldorf salad) and they were oh-so-good! (Note to self: Next time ask everyone to bring their recipe along with their salad.)








We ate and chatted and fellowshipped (is that a word?) and laughed and gamed (all while it was raining cats and dogs outside!)...and remembered why it is good to get together. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking {Chapter 10: Drama}



Looking ahead to Chapter 10 of The Hidden Art of Homemaking, I expected to have absolutely nothing to blog about. Drama? In homemaking? I was racking my brain to think if there was any small way that I had employed drama in my thirty-five years of keeping a home. The kids act out the Christmas story every year. I wonder if that counts. We have had Shakespeare reading days at our house a few times. But surely Mrs. Schaeffer did not mean that. How many people have done such a thing? 

Then I read the chapter. 

And I'm all over it!  

Because Mrs. Schaeffer says: 


"Reading aloud is the best outlet that I know of for hidden dramatic ability. It is the best development for speaking ability, and the least complicated exercise for the use of one's voice and expression."



And the rest of the chapter is about just that...reading aloud!

The author proposes that reading aloud fills two purposes. It is an outlet for any dramatic ability (latent or otherwise) that one has. But, even more importantly, reading aloud, sharing words together, builds family unity.


"The plea for women to have 'time to be themselves' or 'time for fulfilling careers' is overworked....If people were less anxious to join a drama club or some other kind of 'fulfill yourself' activity and used their talents right in their homes, they would not only be more fulfilled when the children were two years old and they were capturing their attention with vivid and original ideas, but when the same children were eighteen years old they would not be wringing their hands so tragically at the complete lack of communication with them."



Mrs. Schaeffer speaks of "sculpting a life" and that such "art" is a slow process and takes place over a number of years.  


My mother read to me. I have wonderful memories of the magical revolving book rack at the grocery store, filled with Little Golden books., many of which found their way into our home. I also remember Mom taking me to the basement of our local library, which is where the children's books were located, and together we'd uncover treasures. Through reading, Mom introduced me to Curious George and Impatient Jonathan and Amelia Bedelia and Ramona. I heard nursery rhymes and "Animal Crackers and Cocoa to Drink" and "The Swing." She also read the Book of books, the Bible.

I have always read to my children.  I love, love to read aloud. 

I read to my babies, books like The Good Night Book, Where's Spot?, and Pat the Bunny

I read to my toddlers and preschoolers.  Make Way for Ducklings. Are You My Mother? The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Picture books galore. Charlotte's Web. Little House in the Big Woods

One of 3-year-old Kristin's favorites was The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor. This one lent itself to lots of expression and a bit of drama as Papa Bear boasts that he "never gets sick," all the while sneezing increasingly louder throughout the story. One day,  Kristin picked up and "read" this book to her baby brother Ryan. I listened in, waiting for her to reach an end of the parts she knew. I was amazed to discover that she could "read" the entire book verbatim, using great expression and all the correct inflections!  

I read to my school-aged children. All-of-a-Kind FamilyThe Wind in the Willows. Socks. The Birds' Christmas Carol. Heidi. Peter Pan. Chapter books galore. 

I read for (home) school. Yes, even when the children were old enough to read independently, I still kept a read aloud (or two) going. Carry On, Mr. BowditchPaddle-to-the-Sea. Abraham Lincoln's WorldMary Jemison: Indian CaptiveThe Last of the Mohicans. The YearlingA Tale of Two Cities. Biographies galore. Literature, even more.

I read aloud as family entertainment/enjoyment/learning.  (Where does one end and another begin?) When choosing family read alouds, we usually read something that Ron has chosen. His selections bring some male influence into our reading, and he sometimes chooses books that we may not have read otherwise. The Swiss Family Robinson. Drake: The Man They Called a Pirate. Daniel Boone: The Opening of the Wilderness

We have continued family read alouds as long as the "children" are physically present. And I hope that Ron and I will continue to enjoy reading together even after the last child has left the nest!

Like Mrs. Schaeffer, I believe that sharing a book by reading it aloud is a wonderful way to create family memories, learn together, and collect a treasure trove of shared knowledge and stories.  


Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Blogiversary



Four years ago today, I set out on this journey of blogging. What fun it has been...to pen my thoughts, to muse and ponder, to share my home and my life with you. I have met some delightful people along the way, most of whom I'd never have met outside of Blogland.  

My very first post was simply a get-my-feet-wet kind of introduction, so I am reminiscing by sharing the first "real" post that I wrote: "Toot or Puddle?" 



~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ 


On a recent Sunday morning Bekah (8) and I enjoyed reading Toot and Puddle by Holly Hobbie. The adorable porcine pair lives in fictional Woodcock Pocket, and each has his own personality.

Toot leaves Woodcock Pocket for a grand adventure—a trip around the world—but Puddle is content to enjoy the pleasures of home. While Toot is swimming with hippos in Africa, Puddle is ice skating on Pocket Pond. While Toot is snorkeling off the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, Puddle is jumping in puddles during “mud season.” While Toot is exploring the Louvre, Puddle is painting his own version of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”

I am Puddle.

I feel no compulsion to see the world, climb Mt. Everest, or travel to the bottom of the Grand Canyon on a mule. Not while there is an old farmhouse on six acres, surrounded by fields and woods with inviting paths. Not while there is fresh coffee in the pot and Kati’s lemony cake on the kitchen table. Not while candles are burning and the beds are all made and said farmhouse is clean(ish). Life’s simple pleasures are enough.

There is a place in this world for Toot. In fact, there are several Toots in my own family...and I love their sense of adventure. If it were up to the Puddles of the world, lands would remain undiscovered, resources would be untapped, technological advances would have stalled. We need Toots!

But I am content to be a Puddle and, hopefully, create a refuge for the Toots when they’re between adventures.

Who are you?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fruit On Tuesday ~ Week 4 {Raspberry Sauce}




Today, I am sharing a very versatile fruity recipe with you. I have called it "Raspberry Sauce" here, because that is the version I made on Sunday evening. But you can make it out of almost any fruit. At different times, I have made Blueberry Sauce, Strawberry Sauce, and Mixed Berry Sauce. I am imagining Peach Sauce too. Or Pineapple Sauce. Yes, lots of versatility here! 

You can use fresh fruit, as I did with this Raspberry Sauce, or you can use frozen fruit, as I have on many occasions.

Want to spice it up a bit? Go ahead and add a few shakes of cinnamon to the blueberry version, or a dash of nutmeg to the peaches. 

Drizzle it Glop it over ice cream...or pound cake. Stir it into plain yogurt. Spoon it over pancakes...or  over waffles and freshly whipped cream and have breakfast for dinner as we did last night!



Blueberry sauce as an ice cream topping


I told you this fruity sauce is versatile!  

Versatile and easy!  You can make it up in 15 minutes (or less!). Use it right away...or put it in the fridge while you proceed with your summer. It'll be there when you get the ice cream out at the end of a hot day.






Ingredients:
2 cups raspberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 cup water
1 heaping tablespoon cornstarch
Directions:
  1. Bring raspberries, sugar, and lemon juice to a full boil.  (If you're substituting a non-berry fruit, you may need to cook a few minutes, until the fruit is fork tender.)
  2. Make a slurry of the cornstarch and water; stir into boiling fruit mixture.
  3. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened.




What would you do with fruit sauce?  Do you have any versatile recipes in your collection?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer in the Farmhouse


Last week, I decorated the farmhouse for summer.  It took about 5 minutes.  

It can take me days to gussy up the house for autumn.  And I usually spend a week festooning the house for Christmas.  I like to add some warm and cozy touches for the winter months.  Spring has me bringing in the greens.  

But you know how I feel about summer.  (Blah.) 

Nevertheless, I spent my 5 minutes making the house summer-ready.  


I put my small collection of shorebirds on the linen cabinet in the living room.


I placed a few fresh herbs in a crock by the back door, and added a conch shell.


I put a topiary on the kitchen counter right next to the rack of white summer-party plates. (Apparently, some of my summer-party plates were in the dishwasher, because the bottom stack looks short.)


I put a pair of topiaries (I think I have an obsession with topiaries) on this kitchen cabinet.


A geranium on the dining room table...

...and I'm done!


Do you decorate for summer?  (Does it take you more than 5 minutes?)
  

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: The First Sunday of Summer


Summer officially arrived this week...and today it felt like it!  As recently as last night, Ron and I sipped our evening coffee together out on the patio, enjoying the birds, early summer blooms, and the warm, but not humid, air. 

But not today. The summer honeymoon was over; the humidity was back. No one was drawn to the patio. Instead, we brought some of the blooms inside, enjoyed the sounds of the children laughing and playing (and watching some AFV on Netflix ~smile~), and sipped our coffee around the table. Some of us ate brownies and ice cream for dessert. Some of us ate Kristin's chocolate raspberry cheesecake pie. Oh my. Chocolate, raspberries, and cheesecake all in one cool dessert?  

Summer at its finest.






Saturday, June 22, 2013

"Hidden" (Almost Literally) Art


My Bekah (12) knows how to take things "to the next level."

The girls and I made origami boats to add to the nautical decorations for our Father's Day table.



After we made all that we needed, Bekah kept making boats. She decided to see if she could make one with a post-it note...and then a large one...and then a smaller one...and an even smaller one.

By the time she was finished, she had her own fleet.



Did you see this one?



It is quite possibly the world's smallest origami boat. 



Did I mention that she knows how to take things to the next level?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking {Chapter 9: Writing--Prose and Poetry}




Writing as thoughtful communication is another one of the hidden arts of homemaking. Not many of us are published authors, but any of us can express ideas or emotion or creativity through the written word.

I have thought many times that it is easier to communicate through the written word than through the spoken word. 

I say this as someone who panics when the situation calls for speaking "off the cuff." For years I'd hang up on answering machines. There was entirely too much pressure to say something coherent to an inanimate object with no time to prepare my words. Ron, who speaks on the phone a good part of every work day and thus could not understand my stage fright, convinced me that I could leave a simple message and the world would go on. I do leave messages now, but I still panic and stumble and stammer and leave the impression that I am brainless. 

Should I tell you about the time I was making a series of phone calls about a club meeting? I got to Betty Smith's name on my list, but when I dialed Betty's number, the voice that answered didn't sound like Betty's.  

"Hello, is Betty there?" I asked. 
"This is Betty," the voice answered.
"Betty Smith?" I ask, still not convinced.
"Yes, it is," replied the voice.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I have the wrong number."

What?! Did I really do that? 

I'm afraid I did.  And then I had to call Betty back and confess my "error" because I knew that I would be seeing her again and wouldn't be able to look her in the eye.  

I am not the only one who freaks out under such pressure. My brother-in-law has a similar problem at drive-through windows. He once ordered "two spicy chicks" while his family laughed so hard they were wheezing. 

All that to say, I am most able to articulate what I want to say if I can write it. 

When writing, I can ponder. I can carefully choose my words. I can ruminate a while and then write it down and then consider. I can change it up if it doesn't say what I want to say. 

I can express my feelings without embarrassment or hesitation. I can have my say without something or someone interrupting the flow. I can say what is in my heart.


Writing is also a more enduring method of communication. 

I like this old Chinese proverb...


The faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.



I don't get "stage fright" when I talk to my family or to close friends, but even then there is value in the written word. 

I enjoy reading papers that I wrote for high school and college, revealing who I was then and what I was thinking. 

As a young mom, I once sat down in the midst of a very messy house and wrote an essay based on Proverbs 14:4..."where no oxen are, the crib is clean." I have searched high and low and cannot find it, but I'd love to see it again and remember those days.

I value the handwritten notes on birthday cards, some of them from those who have gone on. I enjoy reading old letters and thank you notes from family and friends.

I love reading old love letters from my husband. 


I treasure the sweet notes and cards written in a child's handwriting, complete with misspelled words. 

And so I have marked several occasions with letters of my own. A letter to Ron one Valentine's Day. A letter to my mother one Mother's Day, and to my father one Father's Day.  A letter to my faraway granddaughter Eve on her second birthday.


There is more that I should write... 
 

Continuing the book club discussion of The Hidden Art of Homemaking at Ordo Amoris...
Click ~here~ for all the posts in the discussion. 


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Note Card Party: Herbs


Again this month, I am joining Vee of A Haven for Vee as she hosts another note card party. (Each participant chooses four photos previously published on her blog that she thinks would make nice note cards.)

Last month, I did not join Vee's party.  Do you know why? We were on vacation in the beautiful state of Maine!  While we were there, we were privileged to meet Vee and her husband John...and that was even better than a blog party, don't you think?  :)



Join me for a stroll through the herb garden...


And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
~ Genesis 1:11, 12



There's rosemary, that's for remembrance;
pray, love, remember; and there is pansies,

that's for thoughts.
~ Shakespeare, Hamlet




How could such sweet and wholesome hours
Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers?
~ Andrew Marvel




'Hot lavender, mints, savory, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun, 
and with him rise weeping.'
~ Shakespeare, Winter's Tale






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, June 18, 2013

Fruit On Tuesday ~ Week 3 {Fire and Ice Salsa}

Did that get your attention?  It did mine!

Bekah was perusing cookbooks as she likes to do, sort of keeping on the lookout for fruit recipes for my series (did you know that this blog is a family project? ~smile~), and she saw a recipe for Fire and Ice Salsa.  Watermelon, strawberries, jalapeño peppers...sounded intriguing!




Three of us loved this salsa!  

We ate it alongside slices of rotisserie chicken, as suggested in the cookbook.  (Yummy as a side dish!)




And then we tried it with some tortilla chips.  (Yummy as an appetizer too!)



I am already making plans to serve Fire and Ice Salsa as an appetizer at a dinner party in a couple of weeks.  This will be an all ladies' gathering, mostly mothers and daughters, and we think that this salsa will fill the bill as "girl food."  For the record, it was Ron who did not care for it, so maybe it is "girl food."

Here is my very-slightly-tweaked-from-the-original recipe...

( Original recipe found in The Dinner Doctor by Ann Byrn)

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups chopped seeded watermelon
1 cup chopped strawberries
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion 
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar


Directions:
  1. Place watermelon, strawberries, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro in a bowl; stir to mix.   
  2. Pour olive oil and lime juice over the salsa and sprinkle the sugar on top.  Stir gently to combine.  
  3. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two to allow flavors to meld.  

NOTE:  Because Ron doesn't care for a lot of "fire" in his food, I reduced the jalapeño to 1 tablespoon. But since he didn't really care for it anyway, we'll fire it back up to 2 tablespoons next time!  Look out, ladies!

Do you like "fire" in your cooking?  How hot do you like it?




Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Celebrating the Dads




This afternoon we gathered to celebrate the dads in our lives (at least the ones who are near)...  






Ron,


my dad,


and my son-in-law, Brian...

all of whom happen to be spectacular dads!


::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::  ::


As an aside...
There was a bit of color coordination going on here,
because we are that kind of (quirky) family.





Saturday, June 15, 2013

Fathers {A Repost}


Reposting from last year...musings about Father's Day...


We always make a big deal out of Mother's Day and Father's Day.

There are those who say that such holidays were created by people who wanted to sell cards. Years ago, one friend told me, "I don't need gifts or cards because I am a mother; I don't do what I do so that I can be appreciated."  Another friend encouraged her husband to do something for his own mother, but not for herself.  

Honestly, I can see the point in all of those perspectives.  And these celebrations certainly are not Biblically mandated; they are recent observances in the scope of history.  


My dad with my sister and me, 1963


But I choose to celebrate Mother's Day and Father's Day because I wish to honor the role of mother and father.  

When my husband gives me a card and chooses to give me a gift, he is saying to my children, Mom is doing an important job, and I appreciate it.  He is honoring the role of "mother."  And when I do the same for him, I am saying, "Your father is an honorable man and you are blessed that he is your father."  

When we give to our parents, we are obeying the Biblical command to "Honor your father and mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you."  (Exodus 20:12)

When I give a gift to my own son (who is a father), or to my daughter (who is a mother), or to my son-in-law or my daughter-in-law,  I am acknowledging and appreciating the challenging but vitally important job that they are doing.



So this weekend, we will honor fathers, and their unique position in the family.  

I will honor my husband Ron whose quiet strength, sincere desire to do right, and love for the Lord has made him a wonderful father.

I will honor my own father whose integrity and hard work have made him a good example to his children and grandchildren.

I will honor my son-in-law Brian whose servant heart and selfless giving has been a tower of strength to His family.

I will honor my son Ryan across the miles, as he faithfully leads and trains his family in righteousness.

I will honor my father-in-law who, although He passed away almost a year ago, has left behind a story of God's grace.



And we will thank our Heavenly Father for His grace.

The grace that He gives to imperfect human beings, the grace that enables them to be fathers and mothers and raise children in this sin-cursed world.  The grace that takes their imperfect efforts and uses them anyway.

The grace that He gives to children whose parents are poor reflections of His glory.  The grace that He offers to those who will accept Him.  The grace that He extends to be the "father to the fatherless." (Psalm 68:5)

The grace that He gives to those who have lost their earthly father...as Ron did this year, as the children of my dear friend whose father passed so quickly last summer.  Again, that promise that He will be the "father to the fatherless."  


And for this grace...



But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, 
made of a woman, made under the law,

To redeem them that were under the law, 
that we might receive the adoption of sons.

And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

(Galations 4:4-6)



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