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, April 30, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} April



Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; 
for consider what great things He has done for you.
I Samuel 12:24 NKJV


Yes, He has done great things for us! 

At the beginning of April, Kati had her surgery and was back on the road to recovery and restored health. That was a great thing! 


April brought gentler weather, unfurling blooms, new growth, sweet smiles, happy mail, and family gatherings. We celebrated Bekah's 13 years and we knew that He had done great things for us!


We rejoiced in the reality of a risen, ever-living Savior! It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being. He has done great things for us!


In April, we marveled at the beauty of God's creation. We enjoyed the fellowship of friends. We celebrated a soon-to-come baby girl. We enjoyed the blessing of family, both near and far. 

He has given us blessing after blessing.  



The Lord has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3 NIV





Again with this month, I am inviting you to join me in "gathering the moments." You may wish to share two or three photos, or several collages, or bunches of photos...with words, or without words. The link-up below will be a gathering place for us to reflect and share and connect. (The link-up will stay open for a week, so you have plenty of time to gather.)


Thinking About Home



Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Spring Dessert {Lemon Bars}


It is spring! It is warming up! Time for lemon bars! 

Springtime always has me thinking lemon...lemon pie, lemon poppyseed muffins (with strawberry butter?), lemon blueberry scones, lemon ginger tea, lemon garlic chicken. A grocery store about 30 minutes from me has a lemon crumb pie that makes me swoon. The fact that it is in a brown box and wrapped in baker's twine only adds to its appeal. And I can be in the mood for it any time of year!

Without making a trip to the grocery store, I recently pulled out this tried-and-true recipe for lemon bars and we reveled in the springtime.  



A little tart, a little sweet...the perfect combo for a springtime treat.





Ingredients:
1 cup butter 
2 cups flour

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
pinch of salt

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons flour

6 tablespoons lemon juice

 
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine butter, flour, confectioner's sugar, and salt. Mix together and press into 13x9 pan. Bake 20 to 25 minutes.  
  3. While baking, combine eggs, sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Pour over baked crust and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Cool and refrigerate several hours. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and cut.  

What is your favorite lemony treat? 





Tomorrow...Gathering the Moments

Thinking About Home

Monday, April 28, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: A Baby Shower


Yesterday, the ladies of our family honored my beautiful niece, Amy, with a baby shower.



But the guest of honor was upstaged by her darling daughter Isabel who delighted us all...



...and also by Frank who really wanted those ribbons. Really. He did.



And now we excitedly await the arrival of the new little one! Soon...very soon...





Saturday, April 26, 2014

A Saturday Chat


The lilac is blooming. Oh, I wish you could smell it too!



Cute new shoes...for $1.99. Yes!! 

I went to buy some summer sandals, but when the store has "buy one, get one for $1.99," what's a girl to do? Buy some pewter-colored flats, of course! Wouldn't you? 

(Ron was willing to buy the $1.99 pair in the men's department, but honestly, he is the male version of Imelda Marcos. Shoes galore. I kid you not.)



My favorite plant in our yard (maybe in the world) is a pyracantha. We had a huge pyracantha growing at the side of our house, visible through the dining room window, and even out of Bekah's upstairs bedroom window. I absolutely loved the rust-colored berries in autumn. How I soaked up that vision of autumn...and told my family (often) that it was my favorite. "I love my pyracantha. Have I told you that it is my favorite?"  "Yes, Mom."  Occasionally, Ron would suggest that it needed trimming. I gave him the stink eye. "It is gorgeous just like it is."

At the end of winter, I realized that it had died. I may have cried. (Have you ever cried over a plant?) 

This morning, we went to the nursery to pick up our new pyracantha, a special order because I wanted one with orange, not red, berries. I feel like a new parent. I will be bursting my buttons when it produces those glorious orange berries come autumn. 



So many things to smile about in my world!

A beautiful hymn sung by sweet granddaughters over the telephone yesterday.

A "happy package" sent on its way this morning...and imagining the darlings as they open the box with small gifts and books to borrow.

Wonderful aromas from the kitchen where Kati has baked cupcakes for my niece's baby shower, and rosemary bread for a friend (and a loaf for us).

My oldest daughter completed her first half-marathon this morning. (I am amazed.)

Now I must get back to work. There is a lot more on my to-do list today...cleaning upstairs and down, preparing for the baby shower, laundry.  I just wanted to share some of my reasons to smile on this spring Saturday.

What is making you smile today?




On Wednesday, it will again be time to Gather the Moments. (Don't the months fly by?) 
Feel free to join in...with a little or a lot, words or not.
(The link-up will be open for about a week.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Last Minute Meals (and a Recipe)




Even though my rule of thumb is "Plan to eat," I confess that there are days when the dinner hour catches me unprepared. 

Perhaps I was away from home longer than I expected, or maybe there was a change of schedule, or maybe I just got busy and forgot to take something out of the freezer. Whatever the reason, the result is the same...I have no dinner in the works. 

Instead of ordering pizza or going out for fast food (although I have done both), I find it helpful to keep a repertoire of quick and easy meal possibilities for those days. 


Some of my favorite last minute meals are:
  • Cheesy scrambled eggs and muffins or biscuits and fruit
  • Omelets, made to order with sauteed veggies, deli ham, bacon bits, chives, or cheese (always cheese)
  • An easy alfredo sauce over pasta
  • A quick marinara sauce over pasta
  • Tilapia (which can be cooked quickly, even if frozen)...Parmesan-crusted or lemon garlic
  • Aunt Linda Casserole (if I have ground beef available) My sister introduced us to this easy Mexican-style dish which now bears her name. :)
  • Taco soup (also requires ground beef) 



Years ago, I clipped from a magazine an article with a name something like "The Only 10 Recipes You'll Ever Need."  One glance at my recipe collection will tell you that I did not take that suggestion to heart...but I did find a winner recipe in that article! It is a basic marinara sauce which can be made in under 30 minutes. 

Now if you have a recipe for the marinara that your Italian grandmother made, then you might not want to try this one. But if you need a quick meal that tastes great (even if it's not "Italian grandmother" great), then this might become a standard for you too.




Ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 small onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes

4 tablespoons tomato paste*
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

2 tablespoons dried basil

1 pound pasta

 
Directions:
  1. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium heat until hot. Add onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, and pepper; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in basil.  
  3. While sauce is simmering, prepare pasta in boiling salted water per package instructions. Drain. 
  4. Toss hot pasta with sauce. 

* I use about half of a 6-oz can of tomato paste, and put the other half in a baggie in the freezer for the next time. 




You can change it up too!

Creamy Shrimp Marinara
Add 1/2 cup of half-and-half and a pound of thawed, small peeled and deveined shrimp along with the basil at the end of the 15 minutes of simmering; heat through. 

Garden Veggie Marinara
Cook some garden vegetables (thinly sliced carrot, chunks of zucchini and/or yellow squash, sliced mushrooms) while you're cooking your onion, about 10 minutes, and then proceed with recipe. 

Sausage and Pepper Marinara
Omit olive oil in step 1. Add 1/2 pound of Italian sausage (casings removed), 2 small sliced peppers, and onion to hot pan. Cook until meat is browned and vegetables are tender. Continue with recipe.




Now it's your turn! What do you do for quick meals when you're in a jam? Do tell!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Grandmother Dishes


On Resurrection Sunday, I debuted The Grandmother Dishes. 



Technically, it wasn't their debut, because this china was gracing tables long before I was born. They once belonged to my great-grandmother Anna. (I told you about Anna ~here~.) Then, they went to her only daughter, my great-aunt Minerva. Aunt Minerva never married, but she valued family history and carefully preserved treasures and stories. 



The next keeper of the china was Great-Aunt Minerva's niece, my Aunt Lynn. 



Lynn, too, never married, so when she passed away on Christmas day, another generation was to be given the care of these family heirlooms. My mother and my aunt (Lynn's sisters) decided that I, the oldest great-granddaughter, would receive them. 



And because I believe in using heirlooms so that they have a place in family memories, The Grandmother dishes made their debut appearance at my table on Resurrection Sunday

All photos by Kati


If dishes could talk, I'd love to hear the stories of days gone by. But I'll have to be content to make new memories, to tell new stories with those around my table. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: Resurrection Day 2014


Celebrating the Risen Lord! 

The morning spent with our church family, celebrating His life with the Word, the bread and the wine, worship, and sweet fellowship.

Back at home, celebrating with fellowship and food...




















...and, of course, a little fun too!



Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
Then life is worth the living, just because He lives.




Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Hope of the Resurrection!



May you know the HOPE of His resurrection!

(Comments are closed today.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Heritage From the Lord



Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. 
The fruit of the womb is a reward. 
Psalm 127:3




On Sunday, the "baby" of our family, Rebekah Hope, became a teenager.

And on Sunday morning, my heart was full, absolutely full. Full of love. Full of rejoicing. Full of gratitude. Full of praise.  

Tears spilled as I greeted the birthday girl on her first morning of being thirteen.

Tears spilled as I stood at the stove and stirred caramel sauce for the ice cream sundaes she'd requested. 

Tears spilled as my girl sat at the piano and played "Hallelujah, What a Savior," and though I had been singing it along with her all week, I could hardly voice the glorious words. 


But I was also thinking about God's plan for Rebekah, "a future and a hope." I was thinking of what a blessing she is to us, and how God has made her a unique person with gifts that she is using for Him. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." (Ephesians 2:10)

Later, tears spilled again as brothers and sisters in Christ sang along as Bekah accompanied, and we all lifted a song of praise to our Redeemer. ♫ "...ruined sinners to reclaim. Hallelujah, what a Savior!" 

We returned home, ready to celebrate Bekah's birthday. It was a milestone. 

It was an Ebenezer. 

















 "Thus far, the Lord has helped us." 


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