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.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January Birthdays {And More About Those Meringues . . . }




Then on Saturday evening, we came home from a gathering and we felt like a little something and I preheated my oven to 450º and went in my bedroom to change my clothes. Several minutes later, I hear a commotion in the kitchen and Ron is saying "What in the world?" and I come in to see smoke coming out of the oven.

The meringues!!
 

I opened the oven to a pan of blackened meringues. Ugh. (My oven has a "rapid preheat" feature, and it was set to 450º , and meringues are such light and fragile things. A recipe for disaster.) 

After opening some windows and turning on the ceiling fan and thanking the Lord that the house did not burn down as I was changing my clothes in the next room, I whipped up another batch to serve at the party.



Our January birthday people are littlest granddaughter Macie who is 1, granddaughter Nora who is 8, and son-in-law Brian. We are thankful for each one! 

(One of the birthday girls fell asleep before her moment in the spotlight!)


Decorations were simple: all sorts of winter whites (candles, plates, table cloth, meringues) and those "sweater" print napkins that I was thrilled to find on clearance at HomeGoods after Christmas. (Loved them!) 

Glimpses of the day . . .




A little Rhett and Link
(I don't recommend all of their videos, but these guys are funny!)



We played a game and then had an informal game of birthday trivia. Raise your hand if you were born in Oklahoma. Raise your hand if you weighed more than 9 pounds at birth. Raise your hand if you were born before your due date. And so on. It was lots of fun and we all learned things! 


But the entertainment highlight of the day for the younger set was this:

Did you guess? 

It was Alexa
(And she got quite the workout!) 


Saturday, January 21, 2017

Wintry White Confections




At the end of a busy week, we needed an idea for something to take to Bekah's book club. The girls (and some of the moms) have tea and snacks as they discuss the book they read that month. The theme for the month of January was "winter," but we were plumb out of ideas.

As I closed my laptop on Thursday evening, there on my computer was inspiration


It was the desktop calendar that I had downloaded courtesy of Nora Murphy Country House! (You can do the same here.)

On Friday morning, I whipped together these little wintry white confections.


As I type, another batch of meringue cookies is in the oven in preparation for our family gathering tomorrow. We'll be celebrating the three January birthdays! (And then we'll be on a birthday hiatus until April!) 



MERINGUE COOKIES
(Original recipe by Nora Murphy is here.)

Preheat oven to 200ºF.

Whip 3 large egg whites on medium-high for about a minute.
Add 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar and a pinch of salt.
Continue to beat until you get soft peaks.

Gradually add 3/4 cup sugar. (I did not have superfine sugar; I used granulated.) 
Continue to beat until you have stiff, shiny peaks and sugar is totally dissolved. 
Add vanilla, beating until it is incorporated.

Fit a large tip onto a piping bag, and fill bag with meringue.
Pipe onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, lifting to leave a cute little swirl at the top. ;) 

Bake in a 200º oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours.
Meringues should be pale, but lift off the parchment without sticking. 

Turn off the oven.
Return meringues to the oven to cool and dry for a couple of hours or overnight.



Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Seeing His Footprints


In my typical slow fashion, I am still pondering and meandering through these beginning days of the new year. Thinking about plans. Thinking about goals. Thinking about direction. Thinking about the mystery of what is to come. 

As I have pondered, the words of this old hymn have been part of my thoughts. I have been singing it as I dry my hair, as I do housework, as I drive. 

Tho' sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Tho' sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go. 
~ Luther Bridges (1884-1948)


I find tremendous comfort in those words. In the idea that even if He leads through deep waters, He has been there. Even if the path is rough and steep, we can see His footprints because He is there. 

photo by Bekah

photo by Bekah



* * * * * * * 


I have been pondering plans in this new year. I'd like to spend less time with "screens," and more time with books that have book-smell. (Do you love that smell?) I want to continue to organize, to make our house work for us. Now that I feel more at home in my kitchen, I want to get back to cooking more, trying new recipes, reviving the old ones.

But I also want to linger more. I want to linger at the dinner table while we converse and connect. I want to linger at coffee with my friends. I want to reach out to my neighbor. I want to take the time to love my people.

I want to spend my time investing in the eternal.

I want my life to be marked by loving Jesus.


* * * * * * * 


Those are my lofty goals. I realize that I am likely to take two steps forward, one step backward. Or even, if I am honest, two or three steps backward. I need His grace every day, for every step. 

There are several "unknowns" on the horizon this year and I am praying the prayer that holds me in good stead: Lord, grant me grace for the day

I know that His footprints will be there. 




* * * * * * * 


I love the gentle acoustic version of the hymn . . . 




Thursday, January 12, 2017

Celebrating Winter {Snow Cream Recipe Included!}




Is winter really longer than all of the other seasons? Sometimes it seems so, especially when it is cold and gray, day after day after day, and the nights are long. But the seasons testify to the faithfulness of God . . . 

I will never again curse the ground for man's sake, although the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.
While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease 

. . . and so I will do best to make the most of the season that is here. I may be looking ahead to the green and the liveliness of spring, but I can still celebrate the gift of winter!


Ideas for celebrating winter . . .
  • Enjoy cozy candlelight.
  • Make soup. Try a new recipe. Or two. Or six. 
  • Watch a video "project": a series, or movies with a related theme.  Some we have enjoyed are Bleak HouseAnne of Green Gables, the Jane Austen movies, CranfordWives and Daughters, Ken Burns' documentaries.
  • If you're a homeschooler, make the most of fewer activities, more time inside. The winter months are often our most productive for schooling!
  • Drink hot drinks. Set up a hot chocolate bar. Savor a cup of hot tea in the afternoon. 
  • Make snow cream. (Easy-peasy recipe below!) 
  • Put together a 1000-piece puzzle.
  • Begin a read aloud.
  • Add some winter touches to your house. Pine cones, berries, candles, wool throws. Be sure to include some color! (Vee has been pondering this idea on her blog. Read ~here~ and ~here~. Good stuff!)





SNOW CREAM

Ingredients:
fresh, clean snow
14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:
1) Fill your largest bowl with snow.
2) Stir in sweetened condensed milk.
3) Eat immediately! Mmmmmm.

(You can freeze leftovers, but the consistency will be different.)


Didn't I tell you it was easy-peasy? And soooo good!


What are some things that you do to celebrate winter? (Or even to endure it?) 

I am also curious to know about snow cream. It is a local thing? Have you ever eaten it? Made it yourself? Heard of it?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Weekend Snapshots: Snow Days


The weekend really began on Friday evening as Ron accompanied our daughter-in-law Sarah to pick up Ryan at the airport . . . before the snow arrived, thankfully! 

By the time the storm hit, we were all hunkered down, content with a weekend of cozy. As we ate brunch on Saturday morning, we planned to do a few chores, then get out a jigsaw puzzle or play some games. 

We never did get out the puzzle or games. 

Instead, our snowy weekend looked like this: 













pajama days

paint new set of kitchen shutters

make spaghetti sauce

clean up a storm

baked oatmeal with cranberries

drink coffee

clean out extra bedroom school room Puss's room library
(more on that later)

roasted and mashed butternut squash

scrub floors

move a rug from bedroom to attic

eat snow cream

wash all the bed linens

clean out a closet

clear the driveway for Monday morning

mending

eat leftover Christmas cookies

knit

watch TV/snooze in our recliners (depending on your age) 



Whew!

These were not our typical snow days. Usually we are more of the puzzles-and-games-and-eat kind of people. But Ron and Kati were both off and they are both goal-oriented. We all got motivated, we were on a roll, so we went with it! 


And it feels good to start a Monday after such a productive weekend!


Friday, January 6, 2017

Happy New Year?


In the past week or so, I have bid a "Happy New Year" to many of my friends and family, for that is what I wish for them. I want all of my loved ones to be happy and for all of their hopes and dreams to come true this year.

But the fact of the matter is that no one knows what a year will bring. 

We live here, on Planet Earth, in a sin-cursed world and we all know that every day of the year will not be "happy." There will be times of discouragement, sickness, confusion, discord, sorrow, weariness, uncertainty, and maybe even death.

So then . . . what with all that? Do we dread the days ahead? Stay in bed with the covers over our heads? Do we live in fear of what the future will bring?

On the Sea of Galilee
~ photo by our son Ryan ~

On the same day, when evening had come, He said to them, “Let us cross over to the other side.” Now when they had left the multitude, they took Him along in the boat as He was. And other little boats were also with Him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that it was already filling. But He was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, “Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!”


I have shared this poem before; it is one of my favorites. And I thought of it as I looked at Ryan's pictures at the Sea of Galilee and as I mused on the account of the storm on the sea.

The Age-Long Minute
Amy Carmichael
Thou art the Lord who slept upon the pillow,
Thou art the Lord who soothed the furious sea,
What matter beating wind and tossing billow
If only we are in the boat with Thee. 
Hold us in quiet through the age-long minute
While Thou art silent, and the wind is shrill:
Can the boat sink while Thou, dear Lord, art in it?
Can the heart faint that waiteth on Thy will? 


That is the secret to living in the New Year.

The knowledge that, if we are His, He is in the boat.

A quiet trust that He is there, no matter the storm, no matter the wind, no matter the waves.

Even if He is silent.

Even if it appears that He is sleeping.

He is there. 

And He is lovingly in control.

Sea of Galilee
~ photo by Ryan ~


So let us be strong of heart. Let us be resolute! Let us meet the easy and the challenging, the happiness and the sorrow, the calm and the storm of the new year, with quiet confidence in the One who is the ruler of the wind and the waves.


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