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 home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—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.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Life Lately . . . and Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

Happy Spring, friends!

I hear someone saying, "Where is she? She promised to tell us about last year's completed home projects, but she seems to have disappeared!"

Well, friends, I am still here. Life is full! Somehow, I am busier now than when I was homeschooling my children. I never would have guessed! 

Since I last posted here on my blog . . . 

🍋 I have been busy with my mom.
Her life is quite different these days, and I am doing what I can to help. 

🍋 I have been hosting. 
I have hosted a weekly ladies' Bible study, a "Soup & Hymns" gathering with our church music team and their families, and a group of friends for lunch. Hosting is my happy place and I was not able to have people over for nearly a year. I guess I am making up for lost time. 

🍋 Bekah and I went on a weekend retreat with some ladies from our church.

🍋 We have been painting and painting and painting. 
This project is one of our house goals for 2024. I haven't told you about it yet because I'm still talking about last year's projects. Good grief. 

I do plan to finish up that last post about 2023's completed house projects . . . but that post is not yet ready. 

In the meantime, I'd like to share a recipe that I have served to two of the groups that we have hosted. This soup is light and fresh and tastes of spring to me. 

original recipe 

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 small onion, diced
1 whole boneless chicken breast
1 cup roughly chopped spinach
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
3/4 cup orzo pasta
8 cups chicken broth
2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Rub chicken breasts with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place on baking sheet and roast for 30-35 minutes.
Remove, loosely cover with foil and let rest.

Turn up heat to 400 degrees.
Slice a lemon and place on parchment lined baking sheet.
Roast lemon slices for 20 minutes. Remove and set aside.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add carrot, celery, and onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes.
Add broth, spinach, thyme, and orzo. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring to boil, cover partially with lid, and reduce heat.
Simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Shred chicken and add to soup.
Add the zest and juice of one lemon.

Stir and serve. Top with roasted lemon slices. 


  • The original recipe called for bone-in chicken breasts, but we had boneless so that's what we used and it was fine.
  • When I made this soup, I doubled the recipe. (The first time, I had a large group. The second time, I wanted leftover soup for dinner.)  I doubled everything except the lemon zest and juice because I didn't want the lemon to be overpowering. It wasn't, but you could certainly increase it if you prefer a bolder lemon flavor. 
  • One of my lunch guests cannot eat gluten, so I used gluten-free orzo that I purchased on Amazon. I couldn't tell the difference. 

Yum! This soup is so good on a cool, spring day. I think this will become a springtime classic around here! 

Do you have any springtime classics? I'd love to know!

Monday, February 19, 2024

Project #3: Blinds in the Sunroom

When we converted our screen porch into a sunroom (you can read all about it ~here~), I was so happy with all of the windows and all of the natural light! Although I knew that we would need some type of window treatment for privacy at night and to keep the sun out of people's eyes at certain times of the day, I really didn't want to cover those windows. And since I wasn't even sure what I wanted, I just waited. No hasty decisions for me. 

Fast forward about a year . . . 

I saw that BLINDS.COM was running a 4th of July sale and we decided to go for it. Ryan and Sarah had ordered from this company several times and were impressed with the quality as well as their customer service. 

After much deliberation (so typical of us . . . or is it me?), we chose Levelor Natural Woven Shades in Spa Cove Tan. They are cordless and have a light filtering liner.

We had paid to have them professionally installed, but when the time came to measure, there was no local installer available and no word on when there would be one. There was also a problem with what we had ordered (the problem was on our end!). With both issues, the company worked with us to resolve the problems and went above and beyond to make sure that we had what we wanted! We would highly recommend BLINDS.COM! 

After they arrived, we waited several weeks to install the blinds because we had two rounds of company in August and that was 
much better than blinds! On Labor Day, after eating our grilled burgers and corn-on-the-cob (see the ladder waiting in the background?), Ron hung all ten blinds in less than an hour! 

Yes, I did love my unadorned windows . . . 

. . . but I also love them with the new blinds! 

There is still plenty of light, but we now have the ability to filter the light and to create privacy in the room. 

Another house project checked off the list! This one, too, was mostly handled by Ron. Otherwise, it wouldn't have happened last year. 

I have one more 2023 house project left to tell you about. Unlike the library refresh and the bookcase in the bedroom, this one was not already in the works before our challenging year began. And unlike the library refresh and the blinds, it was not mostly handled by Ron. 

It was conceived and completed during the year and it was our biggest project by far!

Stay tuned . . . 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Cherry Vanilla Valentine Scones

A little Valentine love around the house . . . 


2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried Montmorency cherries
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 teaspoons half-and-half (or milk)

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

Cut cold butter into small pieces.
Add to dry ingredients; cut in until mixture is the size of small peas.
(Don't overmix!)

In a separate bowl, mix together eggs and cream with a fork.
Stir into flour/butter mixture, just until combined.
(Do not overmix!)

Fold in cherries.

Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface. Roll dough to 1/2-inch thick.
Dust top with flour, then cut with a heart cookie cutter. 

Place hearts on parchment-lined baking sheet. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes.

Transfer scones to a wire rack.
(I transfer parchment and all to the cooling rack immediately after removing them from the oven to stop the bottoms from further browning.)

To make the glaze, stir vanilla into confectioner's sugar along with enough half-and-half to make a  drizzle.
With a spoon, drizzle the glaze back and forth across cooled scones.

Next up . . . House Project #3: Blinds in the Sunroom 

Tech update: 
Just as suddenly as I became "Anonymous," I returned to "Cheryl." 🤷🏻‍♀️

Friday, February 9, 2024

Project #2: Bookcase for Primary Bedroom

a "break.," I am back to my series on house projects. Actually, it was my old laptop that broke. I had been limping along with it for several years after I had dropped it and cracked the case, but it finally said ENOUGH. I can't blame it. 

So, on we go . . .

The second house project of last year was actually begun the previous year. It had been partly built, but was put on hold as we were immersed in care giving. Priorities change quickly when there is a crisis!

When we remodeled our primary bedroom back in 2020, we had a table from The Farmhouse that we used as a desk. After a while, however, we decided that the room would work better with a bookcase rather than a desk. First of all, the desk top was a catch-all spot, always cluttered and piled with stuff. Mail, papers, magazines, books to be read, cords for electronics. I'd clean it off only to have it pile up again. Secondly, a bookcase would take up a smaller footprint in the small bedroom. Vertical space seemed to be the answer to both of these problems. 

So we went from this . . . 

to this . . . 

Ron made a simple design and built it as wide and tall as would fit the space to allow for the most storage. He used some old wood, but it was too orange-y, so we decided to paint it. I primed it and painted it in Linen White (an Olde Century paint color). Then I lightly distressed it to imitate wear. Finally, I rubbed on a coat of Briwax in light brown to seal and "age" the finish. 

We still have a tray to drop our mail (I'm keeping my eye out for an antique basket that is the right size), and a basket to hold magazines and catalogs. The shelves also hold our devotional books, my Bible, my small collection of Christian fiction, some decorating books, and a few personal photo books.

Even though it took nearly a year to complete it, the bookcase was a relatively small project that made a big difference in our bedroom. We gained a little space and lost a clutter magnet, a win on both counts! 

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Project #1: Refreshing the Library


As promised, I am back to talk about our completed house projects from 2023. 

The loveseat in the library has needed reupholstering for a long time.

(You can read about how and why we made our fourth bedroom into a library ~ here ~.)

~ loveseat in The Farmhouse kitchen ~

When we moved from The Farmhouse eight years ago, the loveseat was showing some wear (it was used almost constantly in the Farmhouse kitchen). But it has only gotten worse over time . . . so bad in fact that when a grandchild hid one of Bekah's rings in a hole in the fabric on the arm, that ring wasn't discovered for a year! 😂 

So when I had the opportunity to order some discounted fabric from a company that was discontinuing its furniture line, I ordered enough for all three of the pieces that I wanted recovered. First in line to be reupholstered was the small wing chair in the guest room, but when I picked up that chair from the upholsterer, I asked to be put on his (long) list for both of the pieces of furniture in the library: the loveseat and a wing chair that I had purchased on Facebook Marketplace. 

And that is how the library got an update during our challenging year. 

Only a couple of weeks after my dad came from rehab to live with us, the upholsterer called to say that he was ready for us to bring him the chair. As excited as I was to have the work done, my time was completely taken up in my role as caregiver, so Ron loaded up the chair and the roll of fabric and delivered them to the upholsterer. He returned a week later to pick up the chair and to drop off the loveseat and fabric, and finally made one more trip to pick up the loveseat. 

We had chosen a mustard Lover's Knot pattern for the chair. I love the pattern, but I had intended to use the reverse side (the one with more mustard and less ecru). I guess I had just assumed that Ron would read my mind? Oops. I have considered taking the chair back to the upholsterer and asking if it could be reversed, but I don't think I want to spend the money to have the job done again. What would you do? 

You can see the difference in this photo: ecru with mustard vs. mustard with ecru.

For the loveseat, we chose a pattern called Flowerbird in natural and green. The green in the fabric echoes the color of the trim in the room, and it also has a little bit of mustard to complement the chair. 

It didn't come with the cat, but he's there a lot. 

Since the loveseat fabric is light, we ordered this quilt to cover the seat and keep it clean. The quilt was inexpensive, but it is 100% cotton and the quality is good.

The last step in our refresh was choosing a rug, and I found that more difficult than choosing upholstery fabrics! We tried a rug that we had stored in our attic, but the colors were not right nor was the size. In June, I ordered a rug online, but the red was too bright and there was too much blue, and I decided that it was also too big, so I returned that one. I continued to measure and consider and shop, online and in stores. 

At the end of October, I ordered another rug because I really wanted to have a cozy floor when our out-of-state children and their families came home for Thanksgiving! I chose ~ this one ~ from Amazon. It was square (which really works best for this small room, although square rugs are hard to find) and it was inexpensive. It looks better in person than in photographs, but I am still not totally satisfied with the colors. (Rugs are hard!) It may stay for years, or it may be a "place holder" until I find the perfect rug. The low investment makes that a possibility.

Do you ever use "place holders" while you're waiting for the right thing? 

Our library, while not a main living space, serves many purposes. It was our homeschool room. It is a reading nook. It is a place to pay bills or do computer work. During the pandemic, the library served as Ron's home office. It stores our craft materials. It is an extra gathering room. It is a place where the grands play games together or create one of their original musicals. It is a room for a private conversation. It is also where Bekah does much of her work for college. And occasionally it serves as an overflow guest room, air mattress and all! 

Now it is refreshed and will continue to serve our family for years to come! 

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Completed House Projects | 2023

Each January, Ron and I have a meeting to discuss our house goals for the coming year and we usually choose a "top five" to work on. Some years we accomplish all five, some years fewer. Sometimes we change course in the middle of the year because there were life changes or because something that wasn't in the top five became more urgent or doable. Even when there are changes, it's helpful to have goals to organize our time and resources, but flexibility is key. 

In January 2023, we had a delayed Christmas visit/celebration with Kati and family (who had been sick at Christmas). Less than a week after they returned home, my dad had a sudden decline in his health (he passed away in the fall), and life was markedly different most of the year.

House projects fell to a very unimportant place on the priority list. Did we even make house goals last year? I honestly can't remember whether we did or not, and if we did, I don't remember what they were. 

That said, when we looked back at 2023, we were surprised (shocked!) to realize that we had accomplished more than we thought! In fact, it was a pretty productive year on the home front. 

So here we are . . . 

I will list them in this post, and then I'll write a short (or long, depending on the project) blog post about each one. 

#1  Refreshed the library with some reupholstery and a new rug.

#2  Built a bookcase for the master bedroom to replace a table/desk. 

#3  Installed blinds in the sunroom. 

#4  Completely gutted and remodeled our master bathroom.

I'll tell you the back story and some of the details of each project, as well as how we were able to accomplish it a year of challenges. Stay tuned . . . 

Thursday, January 18, 2024

"Our God Will Go Before Us"

I often think of this verse in Exodus as I stand at the beginning of a new year. It is true at the beginning of a year . . . and it is also true at the beginning of every day and every moment. 

Last year held much that I did not see coming, and there were times that I felt like I was drowning in my circumstances. But His presence did go with me. He gave me grace (and is still the giver of grace) for each difficult moment. 

This song speaks of those Scriptural principles. That God will go before us. That His presence goes with us. That He is with us always, even to the end of the age

And so, this song became the anthem of last year. I listened to it. I sang it. I meditated on it. I played it in my van every day as I drove to the nursing home to visit my dad. I never knew what I was going to face or how I was going to handle it, and I needed the fortitude that came from knowing that my God was going before me. 

I know that I am not alone. Many of you faced difficult circumstances in 2023. And we will encounter more difficulties as we walk on our journey. Some of them may seem impossible. But He has promised to go before His children and never to leave them. 

May you know His presence in this new year! 

Technical note: 

I am suddenly unable to comment on my own blog (or anyone else's!) through my Google account. I have tried to figure it out, but ~
ugh~ I am not techie and I am befuddled. I even considered ending my blog journey, but 1) I value the friends I have made along the way and don't want to lose touch and 2) I love the outlet of musing and chronicling our journey, even if it's only for posterity or my own records, so I am planning to plod on.

That said, I will be commenting as "Anonymous" unless a blogging miracle happens. 

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Christmas | 2023

This year, we gathered for our family Christmas celebration a couple of days before Christmas. It was nearly an "open house" as some could come early but needed to be home before dark, some were working until nearly dark, and others were somewhere in between. It gets complicated as families age and grow and move, but it is so worth digging in and trying to make a plan to celebrate together! Those times are limited and they are golden. 

Christmas music playing. A bountiful buffet. (Many cooks do not spoil the broth. Many cooks make for a lovely spread!) Loved ones gathering. Tears. Remembering. Quiet. Laughs. Noise. Stories. More stories. More laughs. Giving tokens of our love. A Christmas Fairy and her helpers passing out gifts. Eating too much dessert. (I got no photos of the dessert spread, but trust me when I say there was plenty.) Delights. Sadness. Joy. 

And Emmanuel. God. With. Us. 

Good times!! 

On Christmas morning, we had our traditional breakfast.

We've been hosting Christmas breakfast for many years, and where we once had both of the younger girls at home and all four of our parents came, now it is just Ron and me, Bekah, and Mom.

That is the way life is, always changing. The wise consider and make the most of the opportunities. 

In the afternoon, we opened our gifts to one another, then made some hot drinks and went for a leisurely drive. We were home in time to Skype with Kati and Andrew and the children. Then we went over to Mom's house for some Christmas treats. 

At Mom's

The rest of the week did not go as planned as we all came down with some kind of respiratory virus. Plans were rescheduled, but that means . . . Christmas has lingered! In fact, we will host our final holiday gathering tomorrow when Ron's siblings and their spouses come to Pineapple House to celebrate. 

So, yes, Christmas is lingering here at our house. Even so, we have taken some time to look back on the past year and document its highs and lows. (I talk about this habit ~ here~ .)

We are also looking ahead and setting some goals and making plans for house projects we'd like to accomplish this year. I'll share some of those with you. I'd also like to tell you about some of the house projects that were completed in 2023. 

As I often do, I'd like to leave you with a song. My Kati sang this at my Dad's funeral service and it has become a(nother) favorite. It is my prayer for the coming year to make the Lord "My Dwelling Place" more than ever before. There is no better place, no safer place. 

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