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, June 30, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} June

June brought summer and busy days.

Days of outdoor play and summer delights. Ice cream and bikes and meals on the patio. 
Days of sunshine and flowers blooming and color all around.
Days of summer break and no school and sleeping in and reading whatever you want. 
Days of projects. Organizing, sewing, planning.
Days of gatherings and shopping trips and meeting with friends and a birthday party and a trip to the beach and a church picnic. Grand fellowship.

June also brought the promise of change. 

Some changes that I hoped would not be needed. 
And some changes that I had so hoped for...but are not to be (for now). 

It is so good to know that He knows

He knows the plan. He is directing our steps. "Oh for grace to trust Him more."  

Oh, Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself. 
It is not in man that walks to direct his own steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

Again 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.)

Thinking About Home

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Photo-a-Day Challenge ~ Week 4

Another week of taking pictures for Kati's June photo challenge...a photo-a-day...

Click ~here~ to see lots of great photos...or to link your own!

day 22: green
A new wreath for my front door. Faux boxwood.
You know how I love faux...although I am picky about it.
If you have to get up really close to see whether or not it's the real deal, then I am happy.
(And I found it at Tuesday Morning, so I was also happy about the price tag.)

day 23: pair
A pair of pewter salt and pepper shakers.

day 24: hot
I am not a fan of hot weather, but I am a fan of this kind of hot.

day 25: cold
I am also a fan of this kind of cold. Iced coffee is the bomb, and one of the things that I love about summer.

day 26: thermometer
On the back porch.

day 27: fruit
Apricots on a small pewter pedestal. Yum!

day 28: yellow
Golden yarrow leans over the brick path to the back door.

I'll be posting my photos for the final two days sometime next week.

In the meantime, I'll be here on Monday, the final day of June, where I'll be Gathering the Moments.
Feel free to join in...with a little or a lot, words or not.
(The link-up will be open for about a week.)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 4 ~ Roasted Sausage & Vegetable Pasta}

I'd like to say that this is a favorite with everyone in our house, but that isn't the truth.

The truth is that it is a Favorite (with a capital F!) with three of us. It is a dish that I have made many times since I first discovered it on Pleasant View Schoolhouse. It is easy to prepare, loaded with flavor, versatile (you can use any veggies you have)...dee-lish-ous! 

We girls raved about it, looked forward to it, yada, yada, yada...until last summer when I noticed that Ron seemed less than enthusiastic when I served it (yet again). 

"Don't you like this?" I queried. 

His reply? "It's something to eat." 

Around the table, jaws hung open. We were stunned. "Something to eat" was not a rave review. 

Knowing how much the rest of us love it, Ron agrees to eat it now and then, as long as his portion is heavy on the sausage. But it is now known in these parts as Something To Eat.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

You can use any vegetables you have. Fresh out of the garden is good, but all of these were from the market. This time I used baby carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, red onion, red pepper, and green beans. I really like eggplant, but I didn't have any in my fridge. Asparagus is good too.

Trim the beans, slice the carrots lengthwise, and cut everything else into bite-size chunks. Toss in 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/3 cup Italian seasoning (I don't measure...I just shake it on until it looks right to me). Sprinkle with coarse salt. 

Place sausages on a raised pan. (I crumple up some aluminum foil in the bottom of a square baking dish.) 

Put both dishes (the one with your prepared vegetables and the one with the sausages) into the hot oven, and roast for 30 to 35 minutes. 

In the meantime, cook a one-pound box of the pasta of your choice according to the package directions; drain. Reserve 1/3 cup of cooking water. (Oops...I forgot. But it was okay.) This time, I used Barilla Plus bow tie pasta, but I have also used rotini or penne. You might also decrease the amount of pasta if you'd like to limit carbs. 

After roasting, cut sausages into bite-sized pieces. Then toss it all together...veggies, sausage, a large bowl. 

You might want to add a little Parmesan cheese. 

Eat up! (And prepare to have leftovers; this makes a lot!)

("Something To Eat")

Original recipe ~here~

1 package mild Italian sausage
veggies galore, as you please
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 lb. cooked pasta
1/3 cup cooking water


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Chop veggies and spread in a large baking dish or pan.
Toss with olive oil and Italian seasoning; sprinkle with salt.

Place sausage in pan with a raised rack.

Roast veggies and sausage in very hot oven for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Toss pasta with roasted vegetables, roasted sausage which has been cut into bite-sized pieces, and 1/3 cup cooking water. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.

If you were making this dish, what veggies would you add?

Last year...
Fruit on Tuesday Week 4: Raspberry Sauce 

Two years ago...
Salad on Tuesday Week 4: Chicken Salad Deluxe

Monday, June 23, 2014

Living the "In Between"

In the past twelve months, we have spent a lot of time living in the "in between." Days without resolution. Days and weeks of waiting for one thing or another to happen. Days of hoping (and sometimes dread). Days of the imperfect.

When I "gathered the moments" in March, I dubbed that month "The Month of In Between" for that seemed best to describe the lingering, waiting moments of those days. But there have been many such days this year, both in our immediate family and in the lives of our loved ones. Resolutions have been slow. Some have been happy, others were totally not what we wanted, and for some we wait still.

So I have been thinking (a lot) about this "in between" stuff and what my response to it should be and how I can best honor God in it. 

I don't want to miss the "in between"! 

So much of life IS the in between. If I spend the days of my life waiting for everything to be perfect (or my concept of perfect), I will have missed most of my opportunities. Life will pass me by and I will not have used the moments. 

Truly, all the days of our lives are "in between" days, as we pass our time here as sojourners, preparing for eternity.

If I just "get through it," then I don't find what is good, what is doable in the here and now. 

During the "in between" days, I must resolve to forsake my false sense of entitlement, the idea that I deserve better, the idea that I shouldn't have trouble and heartache and pain. 

During the "in between" days, I must make adaptations. I must accept the reality and go with it. I must accept a change in my plans and expectations and say that it is good. 

During the "in between" days, I must not wait for the home I want, for the kids to be older, for the job I want, for retirement, for {fill-in-the-blank} in order to live and do and be. 

I must live now. 

I will choose to put a flower on the sick tray and buy new sheets for the sick bed and offer comfort and cheer to the one who is ill. 

I will invite guests before the house is finished, when life isn't perfect. 

I will paint the walls and hang some pictures and fluff my non-dream house, the house where I'm living now. I will make beauty.

I will work around the messes, forgive, do my best, take time. I will offer help. I will encourage. 

I will make the most of opportunities.

(For when will it all be perfect? When will everything be resolved?) 

Just to be clear, I am not talking about looking on the bright side. I am not talking about being a Pollyana. I am talking about something much deeper than that. 

I am talking about gratitude. Accepting and being grateful for all of His gifts, even those that come differently than I would expect. 

I am talking about faith. Faith that says that God is good, that He will do what He says, that everything (everything!) is working for the good of those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So though we live with quiet longing for better days, we live now. 

Live now. (By His grace.)

These days will never come again.

Make the now beautiful. 

It is His gift. 

Elisabeth Elliot said it well: 
"The life of faith is lived one day at a time, and it has to be lived --not always looked forward to as though the 'real' living were around the next corner. It is today for which we are responsible. God still owns tomorrow."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Photo-a-Day Challenge ~ Week 3

Another week of taking pictures for Kati's June photo challenge...a photo-a-day...

day 15: backyard
Ron at the grill at our Father's Day picnic.

day 16: bright
A beautiful summer morning as seen from my kitchen window.

day 17: stripe
White and blue bands on an old yellow ware bowl.

day 18: something old
A row of old tins atop a kitchen shelf.

day 19: refreshing
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3:19)

day 20: book
It so happened that I spend some time organizing our homeschool book cabinet yesterday.
It is refreshing to have things neat and tidy.

day 21: summer
This is the same view as day 16 (above), but from a different perspective.

It was a busy week, a people week: Mama Coffee; a visit with an old friend; a day with my sister, niece, and great-nieces; a special 25th birthday party. A good kind of busy. 

Today, however, was a puttering, at-home sort of day. Ron worked in his shop. I cut out those curtains I'm making for the dining room. (If you read ~this~ post, you won't be surprised to learn that both girls asked me which room the curtains were going in. *smile*) Bekah played lots of songs on the piano (she's playing for church tomorrow and she also has some new old sheet music) and she baked cookies. It was a laid back first day of summer. 

How was your week? What did you do on this first day of summer?

Friday, June 20, 2014

A Picture of Gran and Papa

Only when the artist is the sweetest little five-year-old blonde girlie...

...can one get away with drawing Gran at least twice as big as skinny Papa.

(Ron seems to think that this is extremely funny.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 3 ~ Cappuccino Pops}

We have had some glorious weather here in the lingering spring. But this week the heat and humidity have kicked open the door of summer! 

On a sultry summer day, an ice cold popsicle is so refreshing. Today I'm going to share Kati's recipe for a grown-up popsicle...Cappuccino Pops. She featured these caffeinated coolers in her 31-day series, Pinterest Completed. We were happy to be her taste testers and declared them delicious.

Kati's recipe

Cappuccino Pops

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons espresso, room temperature
2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1. Combine the cream and 1/4 cup condensed milk. Divide the mixture among the molds. Freeze until almost solid, about 1 hour. 

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together the espresso, cocoa powder and the remaining 1/4 cup condensed milk; refrigerate until cold. 

3. Divide the mixture among the molds. Insert the ice-pop sticks, piercing the cream layer; freeze until solid, about 4 hours. Run warm water over the molds to remove the pops; dust the cream layer with more cocoa powder if desired. 

Do you ever eat a popsicle on a hot summer afternoon? They're not just for kids, you know!

Last year...
Fruit on Tuesday Week 3: Fire and Ice Salsa

Two years ago...
Salad on Tuesday Week 3: Layered Caribbean Chicken Salad

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Party Planning Inspiration: The Next Generation

When I wrote my 31-day series CeLeBRaTe!! back in October, I talked about Party Planning Inspiration, about how little things can be the springboard to a party theme when you learn to look with "party eyes." 

I am happy to report that Bekah (13) has developed her "party eyes"!

On Saturday morning, I placed these three items on the kitchen table and wondered if we could do anything with them for Father's Day. Bekah's eyes lit up, and she asked if she could do the decorating. I told her to go for it!

The three items (all purchased at Target during the past few weeks):

  1. A roll of Spritz black and white polka dot wrapping paper ($1.00)
  2. A package of basket filler ($1.50)
  3. Moustache plates (I forget...I think $2.99 for each of two packs.)
(This is not a sponsored post! I just love Target!) 

And here is what Bekah came up with...

She put some of the basket filler in a glass hurricane and wrapped the hurricane with ribbon and jute. She used "Paint" on the computer to design the word "Dad." She printed it on card stock, cut it out, mounted it on bamboo skewers, and placed it in the hurricane. 

She put more basket filler in some small glass votive holders. She drew moustaches on black construction paper and mounted them on toothpicks.

Bekah had ideas about wrapping too. Again, I told her to go for it! She used the polka dot wrapping paper, brown gift bags, black tissue paper, and jute. I really liked the gift bag with the moustache cut from the wrapping paper. 

She chose a vintage white table runner, placed the moustache plates and some black napkins, and we were good to go!

All accomplished with those three basic items, stuff found around the house...and those all important party eyes

Do you have "party eyes"? (You can develop them, you know!)

(And not that you can't have Father's Day without a "theme," of course, but we do have fun with it!)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: A Day for Dads

It was a fine day, this day for honoring dads. 

From the gorgeous weather 
to the smell of the grill and the outdoor picnic. 

From kids running and playing
to adults talking and laughing. 
(Some adults even jumped on the trampoline!)

From German chocolate cake and apple pie 
to just being together

Three dads, three generations.

My dad and his two daughters.
Ron and his three girls.
My son-in-law Brian with his five children.

And ending the day with a father-son chat from across the miles.

A fine day.

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