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.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

{Gathering the Moments} August

Is it possible to have a quiet but busy month? Because I think that is what August was for us this year. 

Of course, we were busy with birthdays! 
{August = birthdays} for our family! 
Lots of parties, presents, sweets, and candles!

Birthday peeps: Ron, Ryan, Owen (8), Kristin, Mom, and me
Thanks to Sarah for the photo of the handsome birthday boy from Maine!

But there was also time for quiet pursuits.
For house projects, for leisurely drives, for frozen yogurt.
For having friends over for dinner.
For baking bread and for making cupcakes (twice).
For an evening out with two women friends and doing more talking than eating and catching up on one another's lives and some laughter and some tears and calling it all good.
And then Mama Coffee the next morning with more laughter and more tears and more good.

Time to pause. Time to reflect. Time to grow. Time to be grateful.
Time with the Lord. 

The weather for this coming week is predicted to be summer-hot, but even so, summer is drawing to a close. Change is in the air. With the same glance, I see both blooming red impatiens and golden leaves fallen from the locust tree. The baby pyracantha (the one that replaced my long-loved bush that winter killed) has its first ever orange-tinted berries. I an eagerly awaiting my favorite season...autumn.

But I won't move on without a lingering look back at this lovely...quiet and busy...end-of-summer month. 

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

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On Blogging (and Other Stuff)

I have been thinking a lot about blogging lately. Like why I began blogging and what my purpose is. How much time I should allot for blogging? And how much of that allotted time is needed for commenting on other blogs? One reason for my pondering is that we are back to homeschooling soon, thus my time is more scheduled and I feel the need to evaluate and make wise choices. 

I am open to a discussion about blogging! 
  • What is your purpose for blogging?
  • How long does it typically take you to compose a post? 
  • Do you comment on the blogs that you read? (Vee recently asked her readers a similar question.)
  • When you make a mistake (grammatical, spelling) and discover it later, does it drive you batty? Do you go back and fix it?
  • If you're married, does your husband read your blog? 

Feel free to jump into the discussion on any point! Obviously, some of my questions are more contemplative, while some are lighter, but I am interested in whatever you'd like to talk about. 

There were several comments (both on the blog and on my Facebook page) about the cupcakes we had at the birthday party. There is a story behind those cupcakes! 

As I have told you, Bekah loves to bake...and she is also (how shall I say this?) thorough. Leaving nothing to chance, she decided to make some "practice" cupcakes a few weeks ago, to try out her recipe and techniques. But...she didn't want to make a whole batch, so she one-fourthed the recipe to make only four cupcakes. 

the practice cupcakes

She took hours to make those four cupcakes. She had to one-fourth the cupcake recipe. And these cupcakes were filled with ganache, so she had to one-fourth that too. Then she did the math again for the cream cheese frosting recipe. All of that mixing and baking and filling and frosting and decorating...for four cupcakes. She said that she didn't mind at all; it was fun, in fact! And the test cupcakes were declared a success, so she made them for the party. This time, she omitted the ganache filling. Not because it wasn't delicious, but because, after much deliberation, it was decided that it would be too much along with the sundae bar that was planned. I mean, we do have our limits. ~smile~

(By the way, I think that Bekah earned some school credit for math with all those calculations!)

Since I am talking about Bekah, let me share this conversation I overheard last week. 

Bekah, trying to choose something to wear on our outing to the yogurt shop, was torn between two fashion choices. She decided to ask Kati for help.
Bekah: Say 1 or 2.
Kati: 2.
Bekah: Say 1.
Kati: 1.
Bekah: Okay.

I have discovered a kindred spirit over at Wonderful Life Farm. Kate is a Christian homeschooler, mother, and grandmother who loves colonial style! When I found her blog, I found a friend. 

This week, Kate is hosting a Tasha Tudor-inspired give-away including a vintage cookbook, an apron she crafted from some reproduction fabric, and a beautiful set of note cards. Goodies galore! Go take a look at Kate's beautiful blog, and leave a comment on ~this post~ to be entered to win her Tasha Tudor  Birthday give-away. 


Another month has come and almost gone...which means that it's time to Gather the Moments! I'll be gathering some photos and reflecting sometime over the weekend. (My goal is Saturday.) As I have done for the first seven months of this year, I will be providing a place for you to link your own "moments" and we can share with one another. (More details ~here~.)

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

Thinking About Home

So what would you like to talk about? Blogging...or other stuff?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday Snapshots: Another Birthday Celebration?

No, three of them actually...but all rolled into one!

I always do the math for you: 3 generations, birthdays within 11 days of one another, 163 years, 1 party. 

It's much simpler to celebrate together. Until it is time to sing "Happy Birthday." Then it gets a little confusing...

♫ Happy birthday, dear MiriamMomGammyCherylMomGranKristinMama... 

Huh? Who?!

As Mom (Gammy) is turning 75 this year, we gathered 75 phrases to describe her! We kept adding all during the party, my sister texting in her thoughts as well, and we reached 75 by the time the party ended. They were definitely in random order..."loves the Lord" was #23 and it should have been #1. But we had lots of fun and lots of laughs as we compiled them, and we hope that Mom was pleased.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This Week

~ Kati and I cleaned out our clothes closets and dresser drawers, and hauled off four large garbage bags. Freeing. 

~ I (finally) placed our school order for the upcoming year.

~ Bekah made her first loaf of yeast bread.

~ The girls and I did a drive-by (house ogling), and then met Kristin and the children for 99-cent frozen yogurt cones. 

~ Ron and I spent a couple of days out of town. We enjoyed our little anniversary retreat so much last year, that we decided to treat ourselves to another getaway for our 36th anniversary. We are so very grateful for our 36 years!

~ I ate my first fish taco. I am in love. 

~ I did the tiniest bit of autumn decorating. Really in the smallest of velvet pumpkins purchased when we were on our getaway. 

We're soaking up the last bits of summer, while looking ahead to the joys of autumn. What are you doing with these remaining summer days?

Thank you all for your very kind and encouraging comments about my floorcloth!! Yes, we are walking on it ~smile~, though not without some trepidation at first. 

To answer Marie's question, the floorcloth is lying perfectly flat right now and it appears that it is "stiff" enough to stay that way. Canvasworks Floorcloths recommends putting some of that sticky stuff used for hanging posters on the wall on each corner, mainly so that it does not slip and slide, but I imagine that that would also help to thwart any tendency to curl. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Making a Colonial Floorcloth

I have admired colonial style floorcloths for years and years, but this is the summer that I decided to move from admiration to actually making one of my own! I searched and looked and watched youtube videos and Pinned to my heart's content, gathering ideas and inspiration. Then, after careful consideration and the recommendation of a friend, I decided to buy a kit for my first attempt. 

I went to Canvasworks Floorcloths online. Owner/artist Lisa Curry Mair creates gorgeous museum quality floorcloths, but she also sells "blanks" and kits. Preparing the canvas was one of the parts that made me nervous, and the kits come with the canvas already shrunk, cut, hemmed (yay!), and primed with the base layer of paint. The design is lightly penciled in for a guide in painting. I chose the Branch Stencil Kit, featuring a diamond pattern with a stenciled edge. 

(I enjoyed watching these short videos featuring the artist: one a feature spot from a Vermont TV station, and another from Vermont Public Television. Watch them to learn about the history and the process of making floorcloths, and to see some lovely examples of floorcloths crafted by the artist.)  

My kit arrived quickly! All my excuses were was time to begin!

I set up my painting station on the dining room table, laying a piece of (garish green) plastic table covering over the table for protection. (The sewing machine has nothing to do with it. That was Kati's work station for another project.)

Using black acrylic paint, I outlined a diamond shape with a fine brush,

and then filled it in using a wider brush.

I experimented with using painter's tape to mark off the diamond (eliminating the outlining step), and decided that it was more efficient and I liked the look just as well.

After I completed the diamonds and allowed them to dry overnight, I taped off the border...

 and painted it with my second color, barn red. 

After that was dry and the tape removed, it was time to stencil the branch design. (The stencil was also included in the kit. Paints were not.) I anchored the stencil with small pieces of painter's tape.

I stenciled the branch design in black. (To stencil, dip your stencil brush in the paint, then blot it on paper towels until it feels nearly dry. If you have too much paint on your brush, the paint may run under the stencil.)

After allowing the paint to dry for 24 hours, I applied four coats of satin finish polyurethane, waiting at least 6 hours between each application. 

I am really glad that I chose to use a kit for this first attempt at a floorcloth! It was quite helpful to have the canvas ready to go. I also appreciated the fact that the design was already sketched out, eliminating the need for me to do a lot of mathematics to figure out the size and placement of the diamonds and how wide the border needed to be before I could begin.

There were a few "flaws" in the kit, in my opinion. (Flaw might be too strong a word...maybe I should say areas for improvement?)

First of all, the kit promised a link to an instructional video. I read those instructions over many times, both before and during the process, and I never did find that link.

Secondly, I was a bit unsure at first whether the primed coat actually was the base color or if I was supposed to paint my base color over the primer. That was probably my misunderstanding, but I don't think it was perfectly clear in the instructions. 

My biggest problem with the kit, however, was the very incomplete instructions for the placement of the stencil! The instructions simply said to follow the diagram for stencil placement. There was no diagram. I went back online and used the photo from the website as a guide, but when I did what was shown, there was not enough room on the canvas to place them! Eek! Rather than go back and paint the border again and start over with the stenciling (or cry?), I sought advice and then decided to adjust the placement to go with what I had already done. This involved adapting the stencil to place a modified design in each corner to fill in some blank spaces. 

Overall, I am very happy with my floorcloth...and I am already dreaming about what I'm going to do next!

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