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.

Monday, September 30, 2013


September is full of beginnings. 

The beginning of a new year of life for a 3-year-old granddaughter.
The beginning of 7th grade for Bekah.
The beginning of homeschool gym class.

Fresh paint on the front porch.
Fresh apple pie.
Freshly baked pumpkin bread. With chocolate chips.

New goals.
Newly turning leaves.
New compassions.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22, 23

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hello, Autumn!

I am an autumn girl in my heart of hearts. And yet, although I have been thinking autumn for weeks, September began without so much as the scent of a pumpkin candle around here! I s-l-o-w-l-y added an autumn touch here and there, we went to the farm stand for some seasonal bounty, and now (finally!) autumn is here in my world!  Ahhhhhh...


Feel free to take a peek around my nooks and crannies...

Yes, it's my favorite time of year...full of candlelight, rich color, spicy scents, and cooler air.
(Spicy crumb cake with raisins only adds to the pleasure...and makes the house smell sooooo  good!)

What's your favorite thing about autumn?

Linking up with Melissa's Fall Nesting Link Party @ The Inspired Room

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mennonite Girls Can Cook: Celebrations {A Book Review}

This story goes back a month.  

No wait, it goes back about four months. 

No, I can take it back even further...a couple of years ago maybe.  

Of course, many of you know by now that I can make a short story long. (At least that's what my husband and my son have told me. The girls just listen...and then tell me one of theirs.)

But the long version is that I met Vee almost two years ago via her blog, A Haven For Vee. Vee has a way of just inviting you in and pouring you a cup of (cyber) coffee and having a chat. So on this particular day, I stopped in and introduced myself...and we've been friends ever since. We even had a face-to-face meeting when our family visited Maine last spring (that's the "four months" part), and we all found her to be just as charming and welcoming as she is on her blog. (For the record, we also loved her husband John; they are a lovely pair!)

So back to a month ago.  Vee wrote about a meeting that she had with another blogger, Judy from My Front Porch, and her husband Elmer.  Judy and Elmer were also traveling through Maine, as part of a road trip from their home in British Columbia to Pennsylvania...through twenty-one U.S. states!  

Which brings me back into the story. 

You see, Judy is one of the authors of the bestselling cookbook Mennonite Girls Can Cook. And "the girls" have recently released a brand new book, Celebrations. And Vee was offering a copy of the new cookbook as a giveaway to a reader.  And I won the giveaway!!  Indeed I did!  

Want to know something crazy? I had already chosen the topic for the 31-day blog series that I am writing in October. I have named it CeLeBRaTe!! and I will be talking about marking milestones and special days with home celebrations. So when I opened this book and began to read it, I felt at home immediately.  

Mennonite Girls Can Cook: Celebrations is so much more than a cookbook! 

It is friends...the ten authors who are real life friends.

It is photography...beautiful pictures of occasions. Lovely table linens, mouth-watering food, pretty platters and tea cups and bowls, festive gatherings, adorable children, friends and families. 

It is stories...stories that tug at the heartstrings. Personal stories of marriage and birth and holidays and death.Stories of  connections with people.  How it's all a part of life and how it is celebrated. 

It is in our Father God who plans our days and gives good gifts. 

It is celebrate God's good gifts with occasions.  "We choose to make memories, because we recognize that we have but one life to live," says Lovella Schellenberg in the introduction. 

Yes, it is food for all occasions! The ladies each share recipes that they have used in their own celebrations, along with the stories that accompany them, photographs that make you want to dig right in, and helpful tips for recipe success, kind of the "inside scoop." 

As I read this cookbook, I felt like I had connected with some kindred spirits, fellow believers who are honoring the Lord through serving people. 

And I don't think a cookbook has ever made me feel that way before.  


Monday, September 23, 2013

Coming in October...

I am gearing up for my third 31-day series!

Two years ago, I joined Nester and a gazillion other bloggers who wrote every day for the month of October. My first series was 31 Days to Make a House a Home.  Last October I was back at it and wrote 31 Days of Hospitality: Not to Impress, But to Bless.

It is quite a commitment to write for 31 days straight, especially if you tend to procrastinate and stay up late for a whole month getting posts ready to publish for the next day.  (Not that would know anything about that.) I considered omitting the 31-ness this year; I didn't think that I had another topic about which I could be enthused for 31 days straight! But over the summer an idea came to me...and I am totally excited about sharing my thoughts with you again this October!  

Yes, we'll be celebrating!  I'll be chatting away about holidays, birthdays, milestones, and everyday occasions. I'll be sharing recipes, a tutorial, easy tips, and a fun little giveaway...all with celebrations in mind!

I invite you to join me. 

Every day in October. 

It will be a celebration!

Posts in this series...
Day 1 ~ The Focus
Day 2 ~ Ebenezer
Day 3 ~ It's What's In the Heart
Day 4 ~ Invest
Day 5 ~ Inspiration
Day 6 ~ "Thus Far the Lord Has Helped Us"
Day 7 ~ Charting Growth
Day 8 ~ Birthdays, Birthdays!
Day 9 ~ A Real Life Story of a Birthday Celebration
Day 10 ~ Five!...and a Borrowed Birthday Tradition
Day 11 ~ Celebrate Autumn!
Day 12 ~ Celebrate Winter, Spring, and Summer
Day 13 ~ "Tune My Heart"
Day 14 ~ Party Buntings and a Giveaway
Day 15 ~ Celebrate? Really?
Day 16 ~ Honeymoon Basket
Day 17 ~ Place Cards
Day 18 ~ Giveaway Winner and a Bunting Tutorial
Day 19 ~ Celebrating a Milestone: Learning to Read
Day 20 ~ "Streams of Mercy"
Day 21 ~ The Pie Party
Day 22 ~ Party Planning Inspiration
Day 23 ~ Celebrating a New Year
Day 24 ~ Something Old, Something New
Day 25 ~ Celebrating Marriage
Day 26 ~ Party Games for Young and Old
Day 27 ~ "How Great a Debtor"
Day 28 ~ Celebrating With Family Recipes
Day 29 ~ Simplify
Day 30 ~ Turning the Calendar...
Day 31 ~ Final Thoughts

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Morning Time: Autumn 2013

When we are on our summer break from school, I wonder how in the world we have time for "formal" (gentlest use of that word) studies the rest of the year.  And yet, when we slide back into our school routine, it feels so right!

We are nearing the end of our second week of the school year, and all is well. Tea times and read alouds and trips to the library and piano lessons. Math lessons and stories of America and the wonder of the sun.

And morning time.

I continue to be amazed that such a simple plan and the investment of an hour or so (usually less) can add such richness and scope of learning to our school day.  These are things that could so easily slip through the cracks if I did not have "intention" about it, which is why I am so thrilled with the concept of Morning Time.

Homeschooling mom, if you want your students to memorize Scripture or view great art or read poetry or learn Shakespeare, consider taking those few minutes each day in your own Morning Time. (Yours can look entirely different from ours; you will include those things that you deem important.)

Our Morning Time currently looks something like this...

We are reading through the third chart of the Daily Bible Reading Plan for Children, found ~here~, which features Bible stories and truths that every child should know.  We often expand the reading portions for the day, but this provides a framework.

We are continuing to memorize Romans 8.  Does that sound familiar? This is our third year to work on this passage, but we are sooooo close that neither of us wanted to stop!  We'll probably begin another  passage before the year is up.  

We are learning “More Love to Thee”, by Elizabeth Prentiss. Oh, the words! Sometimes Bekah plays this on the piano, but our Morning Time focus is to learn to sing and memorize the words, so more often we sing unaccompanied.  

Bekah:  “Something Told the Wild Geese” by Rachel Field
Mom:  "The Oak" by Alfred Tennyson  

We are reading aloud the poetry of Carl Sandburg.  We choose one of his poems, read it three days in a row, then move on to another. We're also reading Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburgslowly making our way through the biographical section.  In addition to his poetry, we'll read some of Sandburg's  Rootabaga Stories.

This term we are listening to the music of Frederic Chopin. We are reading Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Early Years by Opal Wheeler, which we will follow by reading Frederic Chopin, Son of Poland, Later Years.  All of Chopin's compositions include piano, many are piano solos...great inspiration for my student/pianist.

Although our usual approach is to study the works of a single artist, we are beginning this term with an overview of  Impressionist art. We are reading the engaging children's book Charlotte in Giverny, from which we will go on to read Charlotte in Paris, and then Charlotte in New York. These books are written in journal fashion, filled with charming watercolor illustrations and period photographs,  as well as pictures of the works of Impressionist artists. Charlotte's father is an American artist who goes abroad to live in Monet's artist colony, so we are introduced to artists and their works through Charlotte's eyes.

Landscape With Poppies, 1887
William Blair Bruce

And that's our Morning Time plan for this term.  Small investment, great returns!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more reading about "Morning Time":

An introduction to our own "Morning Time" 
What Is Morning Time? by Cindy Rollins
Cindy's Inspiration for Morning Time
Kathy's "Morning Stack" 
Confessions Regarding Morning Time

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Note Card Party: Autumn Beauty

Autumn. It makes my heart sing! 

There is beauty all around. 

Autumn beauty is outside. (During last September's Note Card Party, my cards features outdoor scenes.)

And autumn beauty makes its way inside as well, an extension of what is out there in my Father's world.

(This photo was taken by Bekah on Sunday.)

Does autumn make your heart sing? 

Won't you consider joining Vee's Note Card Party this month?
She recently updated the rules, making it easier than ever to participate!

Click here for details...
A Haven for Vee
Thank you, Vee, for hosting this always-delightful party!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: Different

I grabbed this shot as we all hurried to the van to drive to our home church fellowship. It was a milestone day for Bekah as she served as our church pianist today, accompanying the group as we sang hymns together. She has played at church before, but not with others singing along, which is quite different. 

Also different was our Sunday afternoon. Kristin and Brian and the children were on their "summer" vacation, but we asked guests to join us instead. What a delightful time we had as we exchanged testimonies of God's goodness in our lives!

Different can be good. It gives us opportunity to grow.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Personal Photo Challenge {Windows and Doors}

A Personal Photo Challenge

So when you're in Photography Kindergarten and someone in Photography College invites you to hang your photos on the wall for all to see, you can either go and hide in the cloakroom, OR you can gingerly paste your photo on the wall and try to learn something. This month, I have decided to go with the latter plan. The topic "windows and doors" is one that appeals to me...and it's time to move from Kindergarten to 1st Grade. So here I am, definitely challenged, but hoping to learn a little something in the process.

The first photo is one from my archives.  It first appeared on my blog in this post...and it reappeared in one of Vee's note card parties.  It is a favorite of mine, the view from my kitchen window with bright red geraniums peering in from the window box.

For the photo challenge, I edited the picture by increasing the saturation and brightening the colors just a bit to enhance the outside light.  This photo was taken with my point and shoot camera, a Canon PowerShot.

My second photo was taken just last month on our 35th anniversary getaway.

I was already thinking ahead to this photo challenge as we strolled about the town, so I was snapping pictures of windows and doors galore!  This one is my favorite. I love colonial architecture, I adore a transom window, and I was taken with the color contrast of the sage clapboard and the blue door. (I'd also take those lights home with me in a heartbeat.)

After cropping the image for focus, I added a bit of shadow for contrast and brightened the color a tad. (How do you like these technical terms? ~smile~)  This photo was taken with my Canon Rebel T3, using an 18-55 mm lens. Quite honestly, it is the only lens I have used in the 18 months that I have had this camera, as I hardly know which to use when. I just stick with this basic one. (Didn't I tell you I was in Photography Kindergarten?)

There you have tentative steps towards 1st Grade. I guess now I need to do my homework!

Thank you, Donna, for being a gracious and welcoming hostess for your Personal Photo Challenge!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thursday Potpourri

This week began my twenty-third year of homeschooling. 

My student sported her pencil earrings to mark our first day, and we were off to a running start. The two of us are a pretty slow pair, but our first-week-of-school enthusiasm has spurred us upward and onward so far. So many things to discover, so much to soak in, so little time. (Only six years left!)  

During the first week of school, I usually make some fall food. Pumpkin bread, hot soup, something. Not this week. With temperatures soaring to the 90s, we felt more like this Caribbean Chicken Salad. We'll save the pumpkin bread for next week. Hopefully.

It was just right for a tropical evening.

My house is having an identity crisis. The seashells are put away, but there is still a red geranium on the dining room table. The kitchen table has a brown checked runner, but the dining room has a white one. My fall mugs and my Friendly Village dishes are still in storage. I am itching to decorate for fall. Maybe this weekend...

Is your house festooned for fall?

My daughter Kristin wrote a lovely piece about life in this "in-between" season. You can read it ~here~.  

My daughter Kati shared some of the autumn creepy crawlies we've been seeing around here lately. These are not "lovely" creatures, but her (photographic, not literal!) captures of them are amazing. Such detail!  (Take a peek ~here~ if you dare!)  

Our Creator is awesome!

What have you been up to this summer-to-autumn week?  

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Snapshots: The Shirts {Part 2}

Just because I am so amused that my daughters bought so many of these shirts, I asked them if they would model each one for me...and then I put the photos together in several Warhol-like collages. They make me smile!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What We Did On Our Stay-cation

We sweated.

The first couple of days were hot and very humid, so Ron busied himself with some small projects and I stayed in the house with a few small projects of my own. 

We enjoyed working together on some house-y projects.  

Okay...let's tell the truth here.  We enjoyed working together on some house-y projects the first day. We painted while we chatted about the summer and listened to Selah and sipped Pumpkin Spice Frappuccinos that Kati brought us. Of course, Ron took a tumble off the ladder and scared us half to death, so I guess even that first day wasn't the best.  But the Lord protected him because he didn't break anything and didn't even have any black-and-blue marks as battle scars.  (Although even if he did have black-and-blue marks, John Q. Public would not have seen them because he landed on his -ahem- posterior.)

The second day...meh.  We were tired of painting, and painting the picket fence was more tedious than painting the porch, and tempers were shorter, and we discovered that the paint had yellowed slightly after drying.  It is noticeable if you are even the least bit observant, but people rarely use our front door and the porch looks fine from the road and we are not about to repaint everything we just did.  So if you come to my house and decide to use the front door, just look straight ahead. Or "fuzz" your eyes.

We watched Wives and Daughters.

At the end of each day, we propped our feet up and enjoyed a favorite series via Instant Netflix. Have you ever watched any of the series based on Elizabeth Gaskill's writing? Wives and Daughters, North and South, or (our family's favorite) Cranford

We took a little trip to the beach. 

Except we didn't do the beach. We did the food. All righty then. 

I got my ears pierced.

Yes, I did. For the first time. At age 53.

I told you when I started letting my (natural) gray hair grow in that I was thinking about getting my ears pierced. Why not have a full-fledged makeover, huh?  A photo of adorable Lucy (scroll to the end of her post) with her dangly turquoise earrings was the inspiration I needed! I have worn silver clip-on hoops for years and years, but I'd like to have some pops of color now and then. The young girl who pierced my ears kept saying, "Bless your heart!" Her name was Vanity. Really.

It was easy peasy. The hard part will be wearing these tiny studs for six weeks when I am dying to wear some cute earrings like Lucy's!

We organized.

I did a little organization project at the beginning of the week, but today it's full steam ahead in the house, beautiful day notwithstanding. The house has received very little attention this week and it shows. I want a clean and tidy house when we begin our new school year on Monday!

"Organization is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it's not all mixed up."

I love this quote by A. A. Milne that I came across this morning! It fit perfectly with my plans for the day. Tidy up (that'll take a while...more than 10 minutes!), clean...and make a peach pie.

I'd better get started!  

What are your plans for the day?  And do you enjoy stay-cations?

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