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.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July




These are glimpses of our July. 

Glimpses that do not show all the challenges...an injury for my father, multiple vet visits, the two year mark of the passing of Ron's dad.

Glimpses that do show many moments of joy and blessing...family times, times with friends, house projects, a new laptop for Kati (hooray for no more sharing!), summer foods (including the first blackberries from our bushes), the glories of God's marvelous creation.

And the comfort that He has walked with us through it all.


Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart.
Naught be all else to me save that Thou art.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fruit On Tuesday ~ Week 9 {Peach Chutney}


Did I say last week that I love summer watermelon? Well, ditto for summer peaches!  And when a friend gave Kati a box of freshly picked juicy peaches last week, I knew I wanted to use some of them to make peach chutney.  (Don't be surprised to see some other peach recipes before this series is over!)  

I saw this recipe last summer on Lorraine's lovely blog, A Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart. If you have never visited her blog, go...I'll see you when you get back! Her recipes are mouth-watering, her food photography is fabulous, and I enjoy seeing pictures of her beautiful family and their gatherings.

Lorraine's recipe for peach chutney intrigued me. I had never made (nor eaten) any kind of chutney, and this looked delicious. I was having guests over that weekend and had planned to have a rosemary roasted pork loin, so I decided to give the chutney a try and serve it as an optional accompaniment to the pork. 

The house smelled heavenly while it was simmering...spicy, savory, sweet.  And the taste did not disappoint! 

On Saturday, I made the peach chutney and served it with oven roasted chicken breasts and couscous. Yum!



I canned what remained in half-pint jars. No need to let any of that lusciousness go to waste! I think that this peach chutney would also make a great hors d'oeuvre, served over a soft cheese with crackers. What do you think? 




Recipe from Lorraine

Ingredients:
6 cups peaches, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks
2 cups sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon celery seed
1 garlic clove, minced
Directions:
  1. Combine sugar, vinegar, and lemon juice in a 6-quart pot.  Bring to a simmer, stirring as the sugar dissolves.
  2. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 


What is your favorite summer fruit? 






Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 4: Raspberry Sauce
Week 6: Key Lime Pie

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Nine!


Another birthday? 
Yes!  (They're just beginning!)


Birthday blessings to a beautiful nine-year-old!
Happy Birthday, sweet Maddie!
Much love from Papa and Gran...

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Hidden Art of Homemaking {Chapter 14: Environment}





Environment is crucial for the homemaker. There are many things about our environment that we cannot change, but there is so much that we can affect! In fact, those things that we can affect can make a world of difference to those around us. 

I agree that our influence on the physical environment of the home is important. I think that an orderly, tidy home is peaceful and inspires creative thinking more than one that is in disarray. Maybe it's just me, but I can think better without the distraction of clutter and messes. I don't mean the messiness of current projects. I don't mean a pristine environment in which one is hesitant to do anything to mess it up! I do mean general order and space to think. 

Reading this chapter has caused me to boost my efforts in my physical environment this week. I hate to admit this, but I had gotten lazy in the habit of making my bed every day. My bedroom is upstairs and is rarely seen by anyone outside the family. We have been purging and reorganizing different areas of the house this summer, and so I have let other things go. But as I read Mrs. Schaeffer's words about producing an environment that other people have to live in, I decided to give greater attention to the basics before jumping into a project for the day. A tidy bedroom with a freshly made bed is a "basic" and really doesn't take much time overall. It's the little things. 

Even more important than the physical environment, however, is the "tone" of the home, and I believe that that is one of the homemaker's chief responsibilities.  

I have written about this before. Perhaps you'd allow me to share something that I wrote about "setting the tone" a while back in my series 31 Days to Make a House a Home...


The woman (wife and/or mother) has the power to set the tone in the home.


I have never liked the phrase, "If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy." Not because I doubt the truth of the statement, but because it is usually said in a flip manner by someone who thinks that that is funny. The image is that of a family cowering because Mama is displeased. Funny? Not really.

I believe that a woman has tremendous power to influence the attitudes of those in her home.

I am not denying the headship of the man; I believe wholeheartedly that the husband/father is the authority in the home. He is responsible to lead, to teach, to protect, and to love.

But...if I am frazzled, or angry, or blue...
if I am ungrateful, or discontent, or grumpy...
then I can see the effect that those attitudes have on my husband and children.  

And that is sobering.  

But...if I am encouraging, and hopeful, and worshipful...
if I am faithful, and patient, and meek...
then I can also see the effects of those attitudes ripple through my home. 

Yes, I believe that a mama sets the tone for her household.

A while back, I blogged about a book that we were reading, and how a particular passage impacted me: 

We have been reading The Yearling, written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in 1938. In this coming of age story, the Baxter family—Penny, Ora, and twelve-year-old Jody—live a hard life in the Florida scrub region at the turn of the century.

It is November, and the first frost has come to the scrub. The Baxters are in the “front room”, enjoying the first hearth-fire of the year, Penny smoking his pipe, Ora sewing, Jody lying on the floor in front of the fire, daydreaming.

Ma Baxter said, "Now throw a stick on the fire. I cain't quite see to foller my seams.
She had cut down a pair of Penny’s winter breeches for Jody.
She said, “Now take another notion to grow like you done this spring, and I’ll be cuttin’ down your breeches to fit your daddy.”
Jody laughed out loud and Penny pretended to be offended. Then his eyes twinkled in the firelight and his thin shoulders shook. Ma Baxter rocked complacently. They were all pleased whenever she made a joke.Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening. 

If you are familiar with this story, you know that Ora is a hard woman, who fusses, criticizes, and has a sharp tongue.  Life has been hard for her--she has lost six children before Jody is born, the family is always on the edge of having enough to get by on, they work extremely hard and have constant set-backs--and she has been hardened by it.  In the passage that I quoted above, however, Ora is in an unusually good humor, and that is why her family is so much enjoying the evening spent in front of the fire.  Their spirits are lightened because "Mama is happy." 

"Her good nature made the same difference in the house as the hearth-fire had made in the chill of the evening."

The first time I visited my dear friend Debbie at no spring chicken, I was struck by this quote by Laura Ingalls Wilder that Debbie has in her blog header: 
"Let's be cheerful!  We have no more right to steal the brightness out of the day for our own family than we have to steal the purse of a stranger.  Let us be as careful that our homes are furnished with pleasant and happy thoughts as we are that the rugs are the right color and texture and the furniture comfortable and beautiful!"

Most of us would be horrified at the thought of stealing the purse of a stranger, but are we ever guilty of stealing the brightness out of the day for our families? 

I must insert here that I am not saying that we should not be "real".  There is a right time for sorrow and grief, for sadness and tears.  I am not suggesting that we waltz about with our insincere smiles, pretending that everything is great when it isn't.  It is neither real, nor truthful, nor helpful to do such a thing.

What I am saying is that our attitudes should reflect His grace, and when they do not, then we are robbing our families of brightness.  Even in sorrow, there can be the brightness of hope.  In tears, there can be brightness of encouragement.  In need, there can be the brightness of reassurance.  In everything, there can be a heart of thankfulness.

I do not write this post from the perspective of a woman who has mastered this, this gift and this responsibility of setting the tone.  I am afraid that I am not always that gentle heart and encouraging presence that is my ideal.  Sometimes I get annoyed.  Sometimes I have a chip on my shoulder, or an offended spirit. 

But I write about this concept because I believe it to be true.  A woman sets the tone in her home. 

So how do I go about setting the proper tone, or being that gentle, edifying presence?

Hear the wise words of my daughter-in-law, Sarah:
I find that it does no good to simply 'resolve' to be more pleasant and full of grace. It's the Lord's grace that allows me to be gracious to my family and His mercy that keeps me from my self.
I believe that is the answer!  Accepting the Lord's grace for us, and extending that to the members of my family.

This week, will you join me in extending His great grace to our husbands and children?  Will you allow Him to help you set the tone in your home?






 

This concludes the book club discussion of The Hidden Art of Homemaking at Ordo Amoris...
Thank you so much, Cindy, for hosting all of this stimulating conversation!

Click ~here~ for all the posts in the discussion. 


The Hidden Art of Homemaking {Chapter 13: Integration}


It's summer, I'm a stay-at-home mom, and our homeschool is not in session.  So why am I having a hard time getting everything done? I hope you're not expecting me to answer this question, because I am still trying to figure it out myself. But the truth of it is that I am behind, at least in my expectations. 

I missed last week's book club post, so I am going to publish two posts today, to finish up the last two chapters of The Hidden Art of Homemaking.





Chapter 13: Integration

While Mrs. Schaeffer begins this chapter with that great day when people from "all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" will be before the throne of God in worship (Rev. 7:8-10), she ends it with a practical view of how integration can look in the home, as "hidden art." As we do not live in a perfect world, but one that is marred by sin and by separation on many levels, the home is one place in which we can integrate (bring together) people. 

Mrs. Schaeffer focuses on the age segregation which is so prevalent in our society, our churches, and even our homes. It is the "norm" to divide people according to their ages. As long time homeschoolers, we no longer see that as "normal" but have embraced a more natural (and I do mean natural) lifestyle of age integration, one in which all ages (from the littlest grandchild to the great-grandparents) are included and respected. Although the children often eat at their own table (mostly because we don't have one table big enough to seat everyone, and they like to sit together), that is where it ends. I am also thankful for a home fellowship in which everyone is included and we break Bread together, both literally and figuratively. So much is lost when each generation is banished to its own corner. How do the younger ones glean the wisdom of the ages? How are the older ones inspired by the youth? How is a broad spectrum of ideas and relationships encouraged if we do not share time and space?

I could easily go on and on about this (in fact, whole books have been written about this very subject), but I will stop here and move on to the final chapter.




 

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

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A New "Old" Sign


Back in the day (the "day" meaning the 80's when "country" was in, and our money was out), Ron and I created folk art as a way to make a little pocket money. He did the cutting and building; I did the painting and finishing. Eventually, "country" went out and a bit more money came in, and our little side business went by the wayside. 

Ron is a DIY guy at heart, and he still builds furniture from time to time, but it had been a while since we had worked on a small project together. 

When I started seeing these "antique" signs all over the internet, I decided that it was time to get out the old paint brushes and give it a go.  




We debated what word to put on our sign, but when Ron suggested COFFEE, we all knew that was the right one!  We are rather passionate about our coffee around here.




Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fruit On Tuesday ~ Week 8 {Watermelon Cucumber Salad}


Nothing says summer like ice cold watermelon...it is the quintessential summer fruit! I have childhood memories of eating watermelon slices at the picnic table, picking around those black seeds, while my parents told me not to eat too close to the rind or I'd get a tummy ache! It was soooo hard to stop! 


I still love watermelon. Chunks of watermelon in a fruit salad. Or slices at my own picnic table, although I am more likely to buy a seedless one these days. Or even Friendly's Wattamelon Roll! Have you ever had one?  It is made of layers of watermelon and lemon sherbet and has chocolate chip seeds. My mom buys me one every year for my end-of-summer birthday. She has been known to travel miles to find one!



However, I have never had watermelon in a savory salad. Until last night, that is!



You may remember that my friend Jill had supplied me with several fabulous recipes for my Salad On Tuesday series last summer. Layered Caribbean Chicken Salad, Chicken BLT Salad, and the very popular Cheeseburger Salad were all recommended by Jill.  So when she shared this Watermelon Cucumber Salad recipe with me, I was more than willing to give it a try.  She told me that she served this to her nephew who was quite skeptical, but he ended coming back for seconds...and thirds!

As I was gathering ingredients and putting this salad together, I must confess that I wondered about the unusual combination of flavors. But I was won over and, like Jill's nephew, ate three servings...and I didn't feel a bit guilty, because the ingredients were all fresh and healthy and low fat.  Win-win!






Ingredients:
1/2 red onion
4 cups diced watermelon
1 cucumber, seeded and sliced
handful of thinly sliced fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped cashews*
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of half a lime**
salt and pepper, to taste
Directions:
  1. Slice onion thinly; soak in cold water.
  2. Pat dry diced watermelon and cucumber slices; toss with basil.
  3. Drain onion and squeeze dry.  Add to salad along with cashews.  
  4. Mix olive oil and lime juice.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add to salad and mix gently.  

  * Peanuts or toasted pine nuts can be substituted for cashews.
** Lemon juice may be substituted for lime juice.


Are you an adventurous eater?  Are you willing to try foods in new and different ways?






Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 4: Raspberry Sauce
Week 6: Key Lime Pie

Monday, July 22, 2013

Weekend Snapshots: An Invite, a Sleepover, and a Beach(ish) Day


It was a weekend of memory-making moments.  

It started off with a bang, with a Friday evening dinner invitation! 


I met Joanne and her family years ago through homeschooling, but we had lost touch. Recently Joanne and I were reconnected through mutual friends, Facebook, and blogging, although I can hardly remember which came first. We have found that we have lots in common--a love for the Lord, grandchildren, coffee, and October, to name a few. We also share a loathe of heat-and-humidity. With that in mind, Joanne had planned a wonderful inside picnic...a yummy barbecue feast, complete with "ants" and the cutest table decorations and red gingham and scrumptious s'mores cupcakes in a jar! Can anyone say blow torch?  Fun!

(These pictures were taken with Kati's cell phone, because Bad Blogger forgot to bring her camera. They certainly don't do justice to the charming theme, but you get a glimpse.)


When I wrote my 31-day series on hospitality, I talked about how exciting it is to receive an invitation. Thank you, Joanne and Stewart (and Amelia and Brandtly too!) for rolling out the red carpet (and the red gingham) and blessing our family with a delightful evening of fellowship!


On Saturday morning, five special guests arrived for a summer sleepover.


Bekah had gone to Kristin's for a sleepover in June, and now it was time for the grands to have their summer sleepover at our house. This year, all five came.  I wonder who had the most fun...me or the kids?!

It is such fun being a Gran! I love watching the children grow and learn and change. I love eavesdropping on their conversations and play. I love seeing their personalities revealed, and watching their creativity blossom. They are each so different.

At lunch, Alaine (almost 3) wanted to tell me a joke.

Alaine: Knock, knock.
Me: Who's there?
Alaine (grinning): Toilet.
Me: Yeah, you live with brothers.  :)

Inspired by the summer television series American Baking Competition, the children brought a mound of homemade glitter play dough to recreate the show with their own creations. We had a ball!  I say "we" because Kati and I joined in their play too. The enthusiastic play dough bakers each chose one of the TV bakers to imitate. Owen was "Brian" and did a great job of imitiating his confident attitude. Maddie was sweet "Effie". Bekah was "Darlene", wearing the signature red lipstick and leggings. I was "Francine" and made bacon a featured ingredient in all of my bakes. Kati was asked to be "Kolette", complete with hairstyle and emotional breakdowns. We took turns being the judge(s). Our version of American Baking Competition continued over the course of two days!



Gavin's creations were more of the building, rather than baking, variety.




I was thrilled to have three of the kids join me in the kitchen, doing real baking.  They took turns helping me make pizza crust and putting "decorations" (cheese) on the pizza.



And is there anything sweeter than being awakened by a smiling toddler?  Papa had sent her upstairs to wake me, but she just stood by the bed smiling and not saying a word. It was enough to start my day off oh-so-right!

Then there was the breakfast request from Ben (4).
Gran, can I have chocolate chip pancakes and orange juice? And can I have a banana as a side dish?


And when one of Ben's older brothers corrected his pronunciation of "three" (he had said "free"), he said indignantly, "For Heaven's sake, I'm only four years old!"

It was definitely a weekend full of smiles!

On Sunday, we had an indoor beach day.


It was not as convincing as Joanne's inside picnic, but we did our best.

We had originally planned a trip to the ocean for Sunday, but the weather prognosticators had told us all week long that it was going to rain.  It seemed so sure, that we made the call to change our plans, thinking that it is better to be disappointed a few days in advance and make some new plans, than to be disappointed at the last minute.

As it turned out, there was not a cloud in the sky yesterday. We kept hoping for the dark clouds to roll in and validate our decision, but it didn't happen. (I hear there were thunderstorms on the coast. I'll believe that.) But we kept our beach menu of subs, chips, and watermelon...and had a non-beachy treat of root beer floats.



At the end of the day, there was no sand in the van and no sticky sunscreened bodies, so I suppose it wasn't all bad.




Friday, July 19, 2013

"The Thorn"

Thoughts to ponder for your weekend...read it slowly (aloud?) and let it sink in...

The Thorn
I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.
–Martha Snell Nicholson







Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Note Card Party: Fruit


My Fruit On Tuesday recipe series has me noticing all things fruity, so that's the direction I went as I gathered photos for Vee's Note Card Party this month.


And God said, 
"See, I have given you every herb that yields seed
 which is on the face of all the earth, 
and every tree whose fruit yields seed; 
to you it shall be for food."
Genesis 1:29






Then God saw everything that He made,
and indeed it was very good.
Genesis 1:31a 




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 16, 2013

Fruit On Tuesday ~ Week 7 {Vickie's Frozen Fruit}


When those hot, hot summer days call for a frozen treat, I have a frosty, fruity solution!



Many years ago, my friend Vickie brought this frozen fruit medley to a summer party. It was quite a hit on that hot day! She shared her recipe with me and this one went into my permanent file. It is simple to make (the hardest part is waiting for it to freeze!) and sooooo refreshing.






Ingredients:
20-oz. can crushed pineapple, including juice
15-oz. can mandarin oranges, including juice
9 bananas, sliced*
water
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
Directions:
  1. Drain cans of fruit, reserving juice.  Mix all fruit in a large bowl.
  2. Add enough water to reserved juice to make 3 cups.  Boil juice and sugar for 10 minutes.  Combine resulting syrup with orange juice and pour over fruit.
  3. Place mixture in a freezer safe container and freeze until solid.  
  4. Scrape, hack, and chisel until you have enough frozen fruit to fill individual serving dishes. (Alternatively, place container in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes to defrost slightly.)   

* I misread the recipe and put in 2 bananas instead of 9 (yikes!), but it was yummy anyway.


What is your favorite frosty treat?  






Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 4: Raspberry Sauce
Week 6: Key Lime Pie

Monday, July 15, 2013

Six!


Birthday blessings to one of the sweetest six-year-olds!
Happy Birthday, precious Eve!  
With much love from Papa and Gran...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: The Shirts


When I wrote my post about clothing on Thursday, I mentioned that Kati had bought six (six!) of the same shirt in different colors and prints this summer. That same evening, Kristin emailed Kati to ask where she had purchased her six shirts.  

The end of the story...

Kristin had also bought multiples of the same shirt! Between them, my daughters own TEN of these garments! And that cracks me up.





Friday, July 12, 2013

Rainy Days


If it's going to rain day after day after day...








...you might as well make the most of it!




And I am reminding myself of this quote:


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