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, July 31, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} July

"The Little Beach"

Moving Day for my sister...

Making an omelet with bounty from the garden.

Birthday girls: Eve, 7, and Maddie, 10
(Thanks to Sarah for photos from Maine!)

I am ever amazed at how quickly the calendar turns from one page to another. On and on we go, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year...those pages just keep turning and the things that happened just a short time ago really happened twenty years ago and it all goes so fast. 

Some months hold the end of a chapter. Some, the beginning of another chapter. Sometimes there are both. Often the endings and the beginnings are nearly imperceptible, and unless we're watching closely and minding the moments, we can miss them. 

* * *

July is the month that my sister moved. The month that Bekah learned to make an omelet. The month that Kati had another health crisis (although "crisis" is too strong a word because all is well, but can't things like that give pause for thought?!)

July is the month that we ate summer food...seafood, garden produce (ours and others'). 

July is the month that Kati hosted a game party for friends. The month that we all hosted the five nearby grands for the summer sleepover.

July is the month that I got some more pieces of The Grandmother Dishes, and we washed up the cups and saucers and drank apricot tea on a Sunday evening. The month that I thought about my aunt, Lynn, and the fact that last July no one even knew that she was sick and The Grandmother Dishes were hers. And now they're mine (but I'd rather have Lynn). 

July is the month that we took time. For a trip to The Little Beach. For meandering drives, iced coffees in hand. For dinner with new(ish) friends. For an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese's because Bekah said that she was not too old for it yet. For a trip to a water park with the two oldest grands. For smelling (and watering) the flowers, and for noticing their changes as the days pass.

July is the month that two grandgirlies grew another year older. The month that Eve learned to swim. The month that Maddie moved into double digits.

* * *

And so, I am minding the moments...and savoring them.

One never knows just when a chapter will begin or end...

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

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 9 ~ Apricot Upside-Down Cake}

I have recently discovered food blogger, Jean, who writes and shares tempting recipes at Delightful Repast. I am intrigued by her Magical Meyer Lemon Bars which are made with whole lemons and intend to test the magic. I also plan to make her Potato-Leek Soup when cold weather returns.

But then, last week, there was this.

"This" was Apricot Upside-Down Cake and when I saw it, I knew I wanted to try it. I love upside-down cakes (there's just something about that buttery sweet topping), and this one was especially beautiful.

I made it on Monday evening and served it, topped with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream, with our evening coffee and another episode of All Creatures Great and Small.  The touch of almond flavoring, that buttery topping I was expecting, the sweet apricots...all combined to make a beautifully elegant and delicious dessert, one that my family raved about. (And when I say raved, I mean raved! As in, "This is really good." And "I love this!" And "What are the flavors in this cake?" And even later that night, "Mom, that cake was really good!")

Yep, they raved.

For this recipe, I am going to send you over to Delightful Repast. It's worth the trip click of the mouse. I will simply note that I did not have any almond flour, so I just increased my all-purpose flour by that much. I did use the almond flavoring, however, and I wouldn't make this cake without it! 

For Jean's recipe, click below...

Do you like to read food blogs? Do you like to try new things in your kitchen?

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream
Week 6: Farm Fresh Corn Chowder
Week 7: Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Week 8: Jill's Dill Dip

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 9: Peach Chutney

Or two years ago?
Salad on Tuesday Week 9: Greek Pasta Salad

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Potpourri

No Sunday Snapshots this week. Why? Because my camera didn't leave its case all weekend. We had a relaxing, no obligations weekend which included a Friday night invitation to dinner with friends, some puttering around the house, catching up on chores, take-out dinner on Saturday, lunch out on Sunday, a little birthday shopping, a couple of Netflix movies...just what we needed! 

I can't believe that we are at the end of July already! I was saying to a friend this morning that I have not hit the "I CAN'T STAND ANOTHER STINKING DAY OF SUMMER" yet...which is pretty good for me as summer is my least favorite season (by far) and I hate humidity and sweat. (I am so sorry, summer-loving readers!) But so far, so good this year. 

We've been chipping away at our summer plans

We have done many of the fun things on our list, partly because my sister moved further away this past month, so we packed a lot of our outings into the early part of the summer so we could do them together. 

I have made new curtains for the dining there will be no more running up and down the stairs to festoon the windows! 

After looking at a gazillion floor cloth ideas, I decided to order a kit for my first attempt. I am hoping to get started on it later in the week. 

The organizing/cleaning stuff...we have made a dent, but it's slow going. Same with planning for the upcoming school year. Too much fun stuff, I guess. Hopefully, we'll make some progress between all of the August birthdays and anniversaries. 

But before all of the August birthdays, there are the July birthdays...our niece Amy, our granddaughter Eve...and today, our granddaughter Maddie turns 10! 

Happy birthday, sweet girl!!

I almost forgot!! It's time for me to gather the moments again, and I'll have that here on Thursday. As I have done for the first six months of this year, I will be providing a place for you to link your own "moments." (More details ~here~.)

I will be hosting this gathering each month through December. Feel free to join in!

Thinking About Home

Friday, July 25, 2014

One of Those...

Yes, it's been one of those weeks. 

(We all have them, right?)

It was not a week of fun and games, or summer outings, or of getting things checked off the list. I'll spare you all of the gory details, but let's just say that we're happy to see it end!  

I came across these words this week, penned by Charles Spurgeon so many years ago, and I believe them to be absolutely true...

May we continue to believe the God who hung the stars in their places, who holds the universe in His hands, and who is working everything for the good of His children. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 8 ~ Jill's Dill Dip}

Raw, crisp veggies are a perfect summer snack or side dish. And a simple, yummy dip can make them even more enticing! 

My friend Jill (she has shared some wonderful recipes with us here at Thinking About Home) brought some of her garden cucumbers and a container of this dill dip on a beach outing years ago...and we've been making it ever since!

  • I used to have a non-onion eater in the house, so I omit the onion. Sometimes I add some onion powder. But now the child who had onion aversion likes onions, so I ought to add it!
  • Summer is definitely not the only time I make this! It is an old friend. 

Do you like raw veggies? Do you dip? :)

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream
Week 6: Farm Fresh Corn Chowder
Week 7: Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 8: Watermelon Cucumber Salad

Or two years ago?
Salad on Tuesday Week 8: Broccoli Salad à l'Orange

Friday, July 18, 2014

House-y Inspiration {Nora Murphy Country House}

One day I was scrolling along through Pinterest and, lo and behold, there were my great-grandmother's dishes!!  Well, really they weren't, but they were the same exact design, and I had never seen that pattern anywhere else, so I clicked the link to see who else had "my" dishes

~ source ~

And WOW.

That click began my fascination (obsession?) with Nora Murphy Country House. Not only did I see how she had used "my" heirloom dishes on her Easter table (swoon)...

~ source ~

...but I also saw those humongous topiaries and the vintage quilt used as a table covering.

~ source ~

And then I started nosing around the website and the blog and I was hooked. Totally. And I have spent hours (no exaggeration) soaking in Nora's gorgeous house and photography and creativity. House-y inspiration at its finest. 

It wasn't just Nora's Easter table that was show-stopping. Take a look at her Thanksgiving table. Swoon. (More photos ~here~.)

~ source ~

Same table dressed for Christmas? Gorgeous! (More photos ~here~.)

~ source ~

And how about this kitchen?! Swoon.

source ~

And Nora Murphy Country House is more than gorgeous tables!

It's this house (major swoon)...

~ source ~

...and gardens...
~ source ~

...and flower arranging...

~ source ~

...and entertaining...

~ source ~

...and recipes...

~ source ~

...and decorating...

~ source ~

source ~
~ source ~

...and antiques (Nora calls it "the thrill of the hunt").
~ source ~

And there's so much more...but I'll stop with the photos. If you are swooning like I was (am!), then you need to go to Nora Murphy Country House for yourself and soak up the house-y inspiration.

Nora Murphy (you can read about her ~here~ and ~here~) posts seasonal magazines, positively filled with creative ideas and gorgeous photography! Be sure to scroll through each photo (there are arrows to scroll horizontally, as there are oodles of photos on each page...don't miss any!), and then click the links and "Notes" for more. 

Summer 2013 (The inaugural magazine.)
Autumn 2013 ( own favorite season...lots of inspiration!)
Holiday 2013 (What's not to love?)
Winter 2014 (So sure to check out the "Paintbox.")
Spring 2014 (This is the issue that won me over...with my great-grandmother's tea set.)
Summer 2014 (I visited the site every. single. day. until the summer issue appeared.)

Now that you know about NMCH, you might be hanging out at Nora's all weekend! See you next week! 

(Where do you go for house-y inspiration?)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Savoring Summer {Week 7 ~ Mediterranean Pasta Salad}

It's nice to have an easy summer meal to rely on. This is one of those busy day meals for our family. It is cold and refreshing, can be made ahead or at the last minute, and takes advantage of some of that fresh garden produce. A bottle of store-bought dressing makes it quick to throw together. 

Busy Day  

1 pound bow tie pasta
1 unpeeled cucumber
1 large tomato
1 6-oz can medium pitted black olives 
Caesar vinaigrette salad dressing
Parmesan cheese (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain. Chill in ice water and drain again.

Cut cucumber lengthwise in quarters; slice each quarter into bite-sized pieces. Dice tomato. Drain olives.

 Toss pasta, cucumber, tomato, and olives together in large bowl. Add dressing to your taste.

Serve with shredded Parmesan cheese if desired.

  • I used this dressing, but you could use one of your choice. Greek or Italian would be good too.
  • We often eat this as a main dish, adding grilled or baked chicken, or salami.  

Do you have a busy day meal for the summer?

Looking for a recipe from another week?
Week 1: Marinade for Chicken
Week 2: Black Bean Salad
Week 3: Cappuccino Pops
Week 4: Roasted Sausage and Vegetable Pasta
Week 5: Easy-Freezy Vanilla Ice Cream
Week 6: Farm Fresh Corn Chowder

Or last year?
Fruit on Tuesday Week 7: Vickie's Frozen Fruit

Or two years ago?
Salad on Tuesday Week 7: BLT Chicken Salad

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

News From Maine

This evening, we all gathered around the phone and sang "Happy birthday to you..." to our precious granddaughter (and niece) Eve who is 7! Eve brings us such across these many miles between us. She is sweet and pretty and bright and enthusiastic and talkative and talented and she's a thinker...

Oh dear. I sound like a grandmother don't I? (She really is all of those things though!)

Well, of course I talk like a grandmother! I am a grandmother of nine! 

Did you catch that? A grandmother of nine

Yes, I am! That's the other news from Maine...our son Ryan and his wife Sarah are having a new baby this autumn! Last week, they sent us this sneak peek.

And we thank the Lord for another little one who will be taught His ways, who will be shown the path of eternal life!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Weekend Snapshots: Games...and Truth

After an amazing string of perfect weather weekends, this weekend brought hu. mid. i. ty. No dessert on the patio this weekend. Nope. 

Photo by Kati

But the weekend also brought good things. Kati had friends over for a game party. Ron and I had a date night. The five nearby grands had their summer sleepover with their aunt-friend Bekah. Kid games. Ron painted some more shutters. Eve called from Maine to report that she learned to swim. (Yay, Eve!!) Easy, laid back meals...take out pizza, tacos, store bought ice cream. Family games. A lazy summer Sunday night spent watching old Matlock episodes. 

And reading an essay written by my son Ryan. Full of memories...and truth...and challenge.  

What Would You Think if I Sang Out of Tune?

Every disciple when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. (Lk 6:40)
The late musician, Rich Mullins, in response to why his songs sounded so much alike said, "That's why pastors are so boring. . .everybody only really has one sermon in them. . . everybody only has one song." Since hearing that, I've wondered what my one song is, or maybe what it should be.

Three years ago my Poppop died. In the late nineteen forties he was a young man of the world returning home from a war overseas guarding airplanes and German prisoners. He and his young bride began their new life together as two pagans living in a small apartment overtop a church, and they lay in bed on Sundays listening to the songs and the words spoken below. Soon after, on his knees, my Poppop met Jesus the Friend of sinners, and he would talk about Jesus for the rest of his life. Like the rest of us he left behind, he was human, but when he sang of Jesus and spoke of Him, it was like Jesus was a person, like he knew Him. One of my best memories with my Poppop is painting the endless tin roof of a chicken house one spring and him singing, "This is my story, this is my song, praising my Savior, all the day long." For me, this was his legacy. This was his one song.

Now if Jesus is my one song, then I need to discover the answer to this question: Is He a subject or a person? If Jesus is a subject, then getting all the right answers is important. If Jesus is a person, then knowing Him is what matters. It's like the difference between a theoretical tretise and a love song.

Ralph Waldo Emerson asked,  “Where in Christendom is the Christian?" Good question. There always seems to be a lot of religiosity worship, but this isn't worth singing about. I see this sad song every day on my drive to work, lettered on the the church billboards I pass with andecdotes and moral causes, patriotisim, financial advice, and warning about church attendance. I hear it on the religious radio, men shouting with the fervor of a dictator followed by the syrupy plea for money, "You can request this book right now for a generousgift to support the ministry." Now if my one song is about Jesus of Nazareth. . . then His words and His life should be the lyrics, not religion, not even the subject of Jesus, but Jesus the person.

One poet said, "We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand." So I guess I'm wondering what my one song is and just hoping that it's a song about Jesus. Someday I hope that my legacy will be, "For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1Cor 2:2)

Is Jesus your song? Is He my song?

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Personal Photo Challenge {Portraits}

When I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago with my three daughters and the five nearby grands, I wasn't really thinking of Donna's photo challenge; I was simply trying to capture some candid shots of the children. I changed out my standard lens (18-55 mm...the one I always use because I didn't even know how to change the lens until recently!) for the longer one (80-200 mm) in order to be stealthy. I snapped photo after photo, with the grands playing happily, oblivious to the fact that they were being photographed. 

As I downloaded the photos later that day, I was thrilled to see that I had indeed captured some wonderful, natural poses. It was then that I knew that I had some photos I could use for this month's challenge, "Portraits." 

(All photos were taken with my Canon Rebel T3.)

* * *

Alaine (3) was perfectly content to sit at the water's edge with her pail and shovel, digging and digging. (She did eventually join the other children in the water, but mostly she dug.) 

I edited this photo in PicMonkey, increasing the contrast and shadows. The sky was overcast much of the time that we were there, so I needed to add some contrast without taking away the "feel" of the day. 

For Ben (5), it was not a "sit by the water's edge" kind of day! Lots of running and jumping and boogie boarding and splashing was more Ben's style, and all that activity required an energy boost in the form of a snack break. 

Again, I went to PicMonkey to increase the contrast and shadows.

This is one of my favorite shots of the day! It is hard to capture Owen (almost 8) just being Owen, but that's what I have here. Wind-tousled hair, happy smile, Owen through and through. 

Again, off I went to PicMonkey to increase contrast and shadows. (Now that I have learned to change lenses, maybe I'll learn to experiment with differences in editing too. Some of us take a long time to get out of that box!) 

Thank you, Donna, for another great challenge...and for slowly, slowly getting me out of that box!

Click the button below to see how others have met the challenge!
A Personal Photo Challenge
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