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.

Friday, February 28, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} February

There were so many gray days in February. The gray was almost palpable. 

Before I began gathering the moments, I thought that gray might be the color of the sky and the color of the month. But as I gathered, I found beauty in the gray. 

There were red roses, a home sewn heart from my dear granddaughter, tender moments, sweet treats, and expressions of love. 

There was a lovely post-Valentine luncheon hosted by my mom where the girls of the family were treated to all sorts of beautiful food and time together and chocolate to take home.

There was cold outside, but warmth inside. The warmth of candlelight and slow cooker meals, knitting projects and coffee surprises in the afternoon.

There were happy faces with sunny smiles that broke through the gray. Gatherings with family and with friends. 

And there was gray. 

Kati's illness, yes, and failed plans. But there are those of our family and friends who are facing so much more. Some health challenges. Some grief. Some the dark night of the soul. 

And so, as time continues and another month ends and we walk into the next, I pray that the Son who is The Light will pierce the gray. May we be able to say with the Psalmist, "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 

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.)

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Slow Cooker Tuesday ~ Week 8 {Crock Pot Rice Pudding}

Today, my special guest is special own daughter Kati, who blogs at Kati's Little Corner of the World!

Kati's Little Corner of the World

Kati's blog is a treasure trove of photography, crafts, hymns, vintage decor, and the occasional niece-and-nephew stories. Oh...and recipes. Lots of yummy goodness. Don't hate me because I get to be one of the taste testers.

I was happy to be a taste tester for this one...mmmmm good! 

I love making desserts of all varieties. One thing I hadn't tried making was rice pudding. Mom makes the stove top kind almost every year for Dad's birthday but I've never tried it myself. I've come across several recipes for crock pot rice pudding on Pinterest so I decided to give it a try. It was easy to put together and not time consuming at all. I took this recipe as my inspiration but I changed a lot of things to fit our tastes. 

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup half and half
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1. Combine whipping cream, half and half, milk, sugar, rice, and vanilla in a slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or until creamy, stirring once or twice.
3. Stir in cinnamon and raisins.

Thank you, Kati Grace! 

So, readers, have you ever turned to your slow cooker to make dessert?

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 2: Mexican Chicken
Week 3: Beef Ragu
Week 5: Cashew Chicken

Monday, February 24, 2014

Plans For This Week

"Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'" 
James 4:15

Plans made. Plans changed. Plans on hold. Plans up in the air. 

That is life at our house since Kati became ill last week. 

The good news is that all of the "bad" things have been ruled out. (Thank you, Lord!) But yet we wait for test results and answers. 

We are seeking His guidance in making decisions, great and small. "O Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps." (Jeremiah 10:23)  

And so we put all of our plans into His hands.

Plans (Lord willing...see above!) for the blog this week...

Sometime tomorrow I'll post this week's Slow Cooker Tuesday recipe. Guess what? Kati is guest posting for me this week! Poor girl! How can she be up to doing this? Well, she is not a procrastinator like her mom, so she had already made the recipe (twice!) and had written her post before she became ill. 

On Friday I will be posting this month's Gathering the Moments, including a link-up in which I invite you to join me. (Again, the link-up will stay open for a week, so you have plenty of time to gather. Details ~here~.)      

Thinking About Home

Then on Saturday, I will be sharing the last week of February's Photo-a-Day Challenge. (Yes, I realize that it will be March by then!)

As I have indicated, we are planning loosely around here. These are my plans...Lord willing. And if anything changes, I know you'll understand.

(Maybe you'd like to listen to this old hymn, as sung by Amy Grant..."Sweet Will of God." Beautiful.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo-a-Day Challenge ~ Week 3

I have managed to take a photo each day, despite a challenging week here of sick days and altered plans and sleep deprivation. Here are the photos I took as part of Kati's Photo-a-Day Challenge:

February Challenge...

day 15: phone
My tiny track phone.
I may be the last person on the planet without a smart phone. No weather apps or GPS or dictionary. But I can check in with my family when I am out, and I can find Ron in Walmart, so it's not exactly a stupid phone, now is it?

day 16: makes you smile
These girls make me smile!
I took this picture on Sunday as Kristin showed Alaine the snowman shape she had pressed into her sandwich. As I looked at it later, gratitude welled up in my heart.
The fact that my grandchildren are being parented well makes me smile!
All of my grandchildren have parents who love them, who teach them the important things, and who guide them toward the path of truth.
Can a Gran ask for more?  

day 17: time
This was my grandfather's watch, which makes it a treasure to me.
Time marches on...the moments, the days, the weeks, months, and years.
"For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."
I am challenged to choose to spend my time with a mind for eternity.

day 18: drink
My evening coffee. A daily ritual.

day 19: eyes
Bekah's big, beautiful, brown eyes.
When she was a baby, people were always ooing and aahing over those eyes.
Now those beautiful eyes are aided by her glasses and these many months later (she got her glasses last summer), she is still amazed at what she can see!  

day 20: handwriting
A daily ritual in our homeschool.

day 21: pattern
I am drawn to colonial coverlet patterns.
Both my living room sofa and the love seat in the kitchen's sitting area are covered in a coverlet pattern,
and I have a few pillows and throws here and there throughout the house.
This photo is of a table runner that I picked up at a local antique store after Christmas.
It was made by Family Heirloom Weavers of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. I visit their website and drool.

If you'd like to take a peek, here are Week 1 and Week 2.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Note Card Party: I Love You BERRY Much

For this month's note card party, I grabbed several of the photos I took in preparation for blogging about my Chocolate Fondue (does anyone else take a gazillion pictures just in case?), and added some simple Valentine greetings  à la grade school. They may be a little corny, but they're sweet!

Do you have a blog?
Then you can join this month's party over at Vee's Haven!
Come on's lots of fun!

(Click the button for details.)
A Haven for Vee

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Slow Cooker Tuesday ~ Week 7 {Crock Pot Chili}

It is still winter out there, which means it's still time for comfort food in the slow cooker!

I love my crock pot for days when I am out and about. It is reassuring to come home to a hot meal that's almost ready to serve. 

But I also love my crock pot on a chilly winter day when I am going to be right here at home. 

Yesterday, was one of those days. I had cooked my ground beef and onion over the weekend, so just before lunchtime, I assembled all of the ingredients in my slow cooker. After lunch, we spent a chunk of time on a school project, then some household chores. As the hours went on, the kitchen began to smell better and better, and as soon as Ron arrived home after work, we were ready to dig in!

This recipe nearly filled my crock pot to the top. It would likely serve 8-10 people. Last night, we ate it over baked potatoes topped with shredded cheese and/or sour cream. But there was plenty left over to make into another meal later this week. 

2 lbs. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped

2 large (28-oz.) cans petite diced tomatoes

2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
1 1-lb. can dark red kidney beans
1 1-lb. can light red kidney beans  

1 tablespoon chili powder *(see my ramble about spiciness below)

2 teaspoons salt
1 bay leaf
  1. In a skillet, cook ground beef and onion until meat is lightly browned and onions are tender. Place in large slow cooker.
  2. Add tomatoes, sauce, beans, chili powder, salt, and bay leaf. 
  3. Cover. Cook on High 4-5 hours.
  4. Remove bay leaf. Serve with choice of toppings.  

* I consider this a mild chili, but then I eat it with a liberal sprinkling of cayenne pepper, so you may not trust my opinion. Ron can eat it without complaining. 

In days gone by, he could not tolerate any spice. At all. He could be eating something that the rest of us thought was quite mild, and he'd grab for his water saying, "I feel like my mouth is on fire!" Once, my mom (who loves things hot) gave him a pickle with his sandwich, forgetting that she had bought Tabasco-flavored pickles. He thought he was going to perish. (He still gives pickles a distrustful look.) Over time, though, either his tastes have changed or his tongue has grown numb, because he can now enjoy food with a (mild) kick.

Ron says that there are two things that people say that he does not trust. 
  1. "That movie is good."
  2. "It's not that spicy."

I said all that to say this: Adjust the spice to your own taste!

How do you feel about spicy food? And do you trust the evaluations of others? :)

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 2: Mexican Chicken
Week 3: Beef Ragu
Week 5: Cashew Chicken

Monday, February 17, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: Not Too Late to Celebrate

Yesterday was all about red and hearts and celebrating love. Yes, February 14th had passed, but is it ever too late to say "I love you"? 

The children arrived clutching handmade Valentines. Perfect.

Sunday dinner had an Asian flair with sesame chicken and a spinach salad with sesame dressing. Dessert was a chocolate-orange cake. Mmmmm...

Ben (5): Chocolate cake! Chocolate cake! Cake! I want the whole cake!

The little girl in the polka dot shirt was thrilled with her polka dot straw.

After dinner, we played our usual game of Apples to Apples,

Who could blame Aunt Kati for trying to photograph her adorable nephew?

Have you ever seen the "Simon's Cat" videos? If you're a cat lover (we are!), then you should click this link and watch one or two or six. They are sooooo "cat"!

Before the grands left, each received a box of chocolates from Gran and Papa.

Alaine (3): Oooooo...pretty!
Ben (5): Can I eat them all?
Top: Take a look at Ben's cheek. :)  Bottom: The big boys make decisions.

Ben was a hungry boy yesterday!

And it was not too late to celebrate love.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Photo-a-Day Challenge ~ Week 2

Continuing with Kati's photo challenge...a photo-a-day...

February Challenge...

day 8: sky
Gray. Day after day after day.
(And gray has been my mood this week. I am craving sunshine.)

day 9: entrance
I wasn't satisfied with this shot of my back door entrance,
but it was too cold to go back out and take another. At least, I thought so.
I do love this entrance though. On the other side of this door is my favorite place in the world.

day 10: self portrait
Oh dear.
(I'd like to have a word with the gal who designed this challenge.)

day 11: something new
I am thrilled with this "something new"!
This gorgeous scherenschnitte was made by my super-talented-artist friend Kim.
Beginning in October, Kim wrote an inspiring blog series called 31 Days to Take Joy!
She created an actual papercutting to serve as the artwork for her series button, and then she framed it and gave it away to a lucky winner...ME!
While I choose from the many places where I think it would be beautiful, it sits here on a cabinet in my kitchen as part of a Valentine's vignette.

day 12: in your cup
A mocha. Oh yeah.
Gotta have something to brighten up these gray days.
And I have learned to make my own, without going to Starbucks thank you.
(Starbucks' mochas are better, of course, but this one is not bad and costs a lot less.)

day 13: red
My chair.
Love red.
Love my chair.

day 14: heart
Homemade heart on a homemade cabinet.
Home is where the heart is.

Happy Valentine's Day to you!

But whether or not you are celebrating with a sweetheart today, this...
this is the greatest love of all:

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

Oh, what love!

"Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?"

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