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, October 28, 2016

Plans for the Kitchen


Pineapple House has been our home for six months now! Oh, how time flies...

We feel like we have come a long way. The living room and dining room are painted and styled. The girls' bedrooms are done. (You can see Kati's room ~here~ and I'll share Bekah's room soon!) We have planted an herb garden and done some outside painting and sprucing up. And now we are turning our attentions to the kitchen. 




You know that we are DIY-ers when it comes to house projects, and the kitchen is no exception.

We plan to do our updates in stages...a little bit at a time. 

Have I told you that Thanksgiving is my favorite day of the year? My friend Joanne told me of her friend who designed and built her entire house for Thanksgiving Day! I have never met Joanne's friend, but I know that I like her! Fortunately, Pineapple House is already well-suited for Thanksgiving Day. (We had a trial run a few Sundays ago when we had 25 people for dinner!) 

But back to the kitchen...

In preparation for Thanksgiving, Ron began Kitchen Updates: Phase I earlier this month with the installation of our double-oven range. I haven't cooked a turkey yet, but I have certainly been enjoying the (almost) new range!




This week, we began Phase II: removing wallpaper. 

About that wallpaper. Years ago (early 1980's), Ron and I were in a local paint store. While he was shopping for something-that-I-don't-remember, I sat and browsed through wallpaper books. I came across a pattern that I loved, kind of a sampler look with houses and baskets and pineapples and hearts and a coordinating border, but it was definitely not in the budget. Our farmhouse kitchen was large and would have required a lot of wallpaper. 

When we came to see Pineapple House for the first time, I was amazed to see that wallpaper in the kitchen!



However, since it is 2016 and not 1985, the wallpaper is coming down. In fact, a good deal of it came down a couple of evenings this week. (Of course, we are hosting a ladies' game night this weekend. Nothing like a bit of remodeling chaos to make your guests feel at home, huh?) 

After the wallpaper is down, we are going to paint that space and also the space on the other end of the kitchen past the cabinets. The walls will be the same antique white that we have used in all of the other rooms. The trim will be...ahem. I'll get back to you on that. (But we're narrowing down our choices.)   

We are going to replace the shutters with paneled shutters which Ron will make. The valances are new; they will stay. 



Where the previous owners had a kitchen table, we have chosen to put our kitchen island. We considered a small table for an eat-in kitchen, but we are sentimental about the island and there was really nowhere else to put it. We purchased a couple of bar stools so that someone could eat breakfast or lunch, or just hang out with the cook.

Or hang out with a cousin. :)





Other phases, yet to come: 

1) Move the washing machine down to the basement. (Part of me will miss having it so handy. The other part of me will be happy to reclaim some kitchen space.) 



2) Replace the stained glass chandelier with one that fits our style.

3) Move the refrigerator over a bit, to where the washing machine is now. This will allow us to have a longer counter surface, instead of two short lengths on either side of the fridge. 


4) Build a new bottom cabinet to fill in the space when the fridge is moved. (This will make me happy, because I lost the cabinet that was under the cook top. Now my pots and pans are all over the place, including some down in the basement. How's that for convenience?) 

5) Install a new sink. Although we loved our large undermount farmhouse sink at The Farmhouse, we're not sure that would be right for this kitchen. We're considering a smaller farmhouse sink from Ikea, but I prefer a single bowl sink. Fortunately, that decision is a bit down the road. 

6) Replacing the countertop. We will probably go with butcher block again, as we loved our counters in The Farmhouse. Wood is so warm and pretty. 

7) Painting the cabinets. We'll probably keep the hardware. It's not "modern," but it fits with our style. 



Again, this will all be done over a period of time. Don't expect a big reveal in the next couple of weeks! But I do promise to keep you posted as we complete each phase. 

We are excited about making the changes that will make it our kitchen! 


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Autumn Baking {Pumpkin Spice Scones}


  
Autumn is my favorite time to bake! There are just so many delicious flavors associated with autumn. Pumpkin is a big one, and I am a pumpkin girl through and through!

I have made this new-to-me recipe a couple of times recently, when there was occasion to share. Pumpkin Spice Scones plus a hot cup of coffee...mmmm

If you're a pumpkin girl too, I think you'll love them!

Original recipe ~here~



PUMPKIN SPICE SCONES


INGREDIENTS

For Pumpkin Scones:
2 cups flour
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 stick cold butter
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon molasses
3 tablespoons half-and-half
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla 


For Sugar Glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half


For Pumpkin Spice Glaze:
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 to 2 tablespoons half-and-half


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400ยบF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.

Cut butter into cubes; using pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until crumbs are the size of small peas.
(I use my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, on medium-low speed, taking care not to overmix.) 

In a separate bowl, whisk the pumpkin puree, molasses, half-and-half, egg, and vanilla until blended.

Stir the pumpkin mixture into the flour/butter mixture until a soft dough forms. (Both times, I needed to add a bit of flour in order to handle the dough...a quarter cup or so.) Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Sprinkle some flour on top.

Lightly roll the dough into a 10 x 7-inch rectangle. Cut the rectangle in half lengthwise; cut each long piece into four pieces; then cut each of those into triangles. You will have 16 triangles.

Make sense?


Place scones on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted into middle comes out clean. (Mine took about 13 minutes.)
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Make white sugar glaze by combining confectioner's sugar and half-and-half (a little at a time) until it is "drizzle" consistency.
Drizzle in a back and forth pattern on cooled scones.

Make pumpkin spice glaze. (By all means, do this! It adds a layer of pretty, as well as yummy flavor.)
Mix sugar, pumpkin puree, spices, and half-and-half (a little at a time) until it is "drizzle" consistency.
Drizzle this glaze in a back and forth pattern on cooled (and now sugar-glazed) scones.

While your glaze is setting (10 or 15 minutes), get that hot cup of coffee ready!

Enjoy! 


Sunday, October 23, 2016

"Jump for Joy"



I have been reading Amy Carmichael: Beauty for Ashes by Iain H. Murray. Telling of the end of Amy's life, Murray says this...


A mournful life was far from Amy's conception of what a Christian's ought to be. To one of her nurses, about to leave on furlough, she said, "We won't meet again in this world. When you hear I have gone, jump for joy."

 This is how I want to live...and die!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Planning a Dessert Buffet


Some of you were curious about the details of the party that we hosted earlier this month. Although I certainly don't consider myself a party expert, I can carry you through my thought process as I planned for our dessert buffet.



The purpose of this party was to thank all of the generous people who had helped us when we moved back in April. Our original thought was to have a backyard barbecue sometime during the summer. But we were so busy with settling in and painting and oodles of birthdays (including Ron's big surprise party), that we never did get around to it. Rather than putting it off until the "perfect" time (which we all know never comes), we adjusted our expectations and planned to have a dessert buffet.


Here are my pointers for hosting a dessert buffet:


Design an invitation.

I made up an invitation (using PicMonkey) and, in 21st century style, sent them out to our friends and family via Facebook message or email. I could have invited by phone or in person, but I think it's helpful for guests to have an invitation for reference and reminder.

I used one of my own fall-inspired photos, and added text. I decided to include RSVP information so that we would have an idea of how many people to expect.



Choose a theme.

Every party doesn't need a theme, but I am a theme kind of gal. (I got it honest. Right, Mom?) I kept this one easy and went seasonal. Autumn is my favorite...plus, a sweet friend gave me some darling fall-themed paper products for my birthday. Perfect!



Plan for different flavors.

Even though we were serving desserts, we needed a variety of tastes. We considered some typically autumn flavors (pumpkin, apple, pear, cranberry, gingerbread) as well as classic flavors. (Think chocolate, which is always in season!) 



Plan for different shapes, forms, and textures.

We didn't want our spread to be visually boring, so we planned for no two desserts to be in the same shape. Possibilities were cupcakes, cakes, pies, tarts, something in ramekins, cookies, or bars. 





With those elements in mind, we tried to coordinate the different flavors with the different forms.  In addition, because we had a lot to prepare in an already busy week, I wanted for most of the recipes to be our "standards," those that are tried and true. We also needed to consider the number of people. If everyone came, we would have 47, so we would need plenty of choices! (We actually had 41 people at our dessert buffet.) We also needed to consider that there were quite a few children, which influenced us to include two different cookies.

The girls and I sat down with paper and pencil and we brainstormed! It was a bit of a logic puzzle!

These are the desserts we chose to serve: 


(Kati usually makes this as a layer cake, but for variety of form, she made cupcakes.)

Chocolate Chip Scones

This one was not "tried and true." It was the first time that Bekah made it, but it was a success!

Decorated Shortbread Cookies
This recipe...without the red food coloring. And in a leaf shape instead of a heart. 
With autumn sprinkles instead of chocolate drizzle.
But it really is the same recipe. :)

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cheesecake Tarts w/ Blackberry Garnish
This recipe...put atop a graham cracker crust in a ramekin.

(Two of them, actually.)



These choices meant that I didn't make a pear tart or cranberry upside down cake or spicy hermit bars, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Make your decisions and then get to work!


Display artfully.

Vary the heights of your serving pieces. Elevate some desserts with pedestals. Place some on low plates or platters.




Use baskets for different heights and textures. Layer cloth or paper napkins for color and texture. Use doilies and/or decorated cupcake liners.




Make labels, so that guests won't need to guess. I typed the name of each one of my desserts in a PicMonkey design, choosing a font that was easy to replicate, then used it as a guide, copying it freehand. Of course, you could simply use your best handwriting...or even print them out.

The font I used as a model: Simon Script


Sneak in a little savory. 

I am the kind of person who likes a little salty to offset the sweet, so we included a few small savory offerings in our buffet: some mixed nuts, hummus and pita chips, cheese straws, a platter of salami and cheese, and a basket of crackers. We did not label these, as they were "extras."



Make a schedule of tasks. 

Because it was a busy week, we needed to plan what would be done and when. As Kati is working full time now, she was assigned only one dessert. Some things (cookies, fudge) could be done earlier in the week and either frozen, refrigerated, or put in tins. Some things (cheesecake tarts) needed to be prepared at the last minute. A few things were optional, only done if there was time. We had to stagger baking so that we weren't in each other's way. (This was before the double oven range was installed!)

With all of this in mind, I printed out a calendar and we wrote each task on the day and the time of day (morning, afternoon, or evening) it was to be done and who was to do it. This may sound extreme, but I know myself and I didn't want to risk ruining the party by procrastination and rushing around at the last minute. Having it all there in black and white gave order and direction to the week. (Plus, I love to check things off!) 



Have fun!

On the day of the party, enjoy the fact that you have planned well. Play around with your table displays, trying this and that until it pleases your eye. (We rearranged food several times before it all clicked!) Most importantly, focus on your guests and how much fun they will have because you have chosen to invite them and bless them!




Remember: 


Monday, October 17, 2016

"The Tabernacle of God is With Men"


Last evening, we celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with our son Ryan and his family. They have built a Sukkah on their back deck and we shared a meal with them. 




As Christians, we celebrated Jesus, who is our tabernacle, our dwelling place, our God!




I heard a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain. 

Revelation 21: 3,4


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Week in Review {Bookended with Parties}



Ron was off last week. In stark contrast to his October vacation last year (which he "mostly spent in the recliner with his foot propped up"), this year he was as busy as a bee! The week was full of house projects and was bookended by parties on both weekends!




On October 1st, we hosted a "Thank the Movers" party. Many people had worked so hard to help us with our move back in April...from packing to providing meals to lots of pulling and hauling (literally). We wanted to express our thanks in some small way, so we decided to host a dessert buffet for all the movers and their families. (Some of you wondered about the details of the party. I'm working on a post in which I let you into my brain as I pondered and planned.)












When Monday morning rolled around, the projects began!

The main goal for the week was to take out the cooktop in our kitchen and replace it with the double oven range that we had brought with us from The Farmhouse. We had purchased the new range last Thanksgiving week after the oven door broke on our twenty-five-year-old range. For years, Ron had talked about having a double oven and we had only had it for five months when we moved, so it was the one appliance that we brought with us. It had been biding its time in the garage since April, but we knew that we wanted the new range in time for Thanksgiving.

We (and when I say "we" I mean Ron) had to take out the cooktop, remove a lower cabinet, run a new wire, remove the lower exhaust vent, patch the wall and siding, and cut out part of the countertop to make room for the range. By mid-week, we went from this...


to this. 


There is lots more that we want to do in our kitchen, but we'll chip away at it one project at a time. For now, I am thrilled to have my range!

Other projects of the week included laying mulch, planting a crepe myrtle tree, repairing a drain pipe, replacing a piece of fascia on the garage, and some exterior painting (lamp post, garage door, fascia).

(Unplanned project: Going to the paint store THREE times before getting the color right!)




On Sunday, it was back to party mode as we celebrated the October birthdays:

my dad's 79th

and our grandson Ben's 8th.




The boys got a kick out of the tiny guest (beggar). Maddie gave her some vegetable beef soup (although not at the table). :)

Macie's "bunny face" 











As we enjoy this autumn season and all its joys - days for work, days for celebration - I can't help but think back to last autumn and what we were doing and what was yet to come. So much has changed, but the Lord has been faithful!

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning
James 1: 2-4, 17

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