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, May 31, 2018

A Half Gallon of Ice Cream Twenty-Five Years in the Making

It was one of those "antique" stores that looked more like a depository for junk. Old rusted signs all over the outside, "stuff" spilling out of the doors and all along the walkway, and it didn't say "Come on in." To me, that is. To Ron, it beckoned. He insists that these kinds of stores are full of hidden treasures. And in this store, he found this little half-gallon ice cream freezer. 

That was about twenty-five years ago.

Last weekend Ron decided that we needed to try it out.

So we put in this and that, and we cooked and stirred and Ron churned our inaugural batch! 

Strawberry ice cream was on the menu. Yum!

I sort of used Pioneer Woman's recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Except I am out of vanilla beans so I used vanilla extract. And I halved the recipe. And I added some mashed, lightly sugared strawberries. But it was kind of the same thing. 

Can you tell how small this freezer is? (Can you tell how pleased Ron is? He is all about homemade ice cream!) 

Smooth and creamy and refreshing on a humid Sunday afternoon. 

I opened up my package of strawberry napkins from Target's Dollar Spot and we had a little party. Just the four of us. 

A party that was twenty-five years in the making. 

makes one half-gallon*

1½ cups half-and-half
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1½ cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced, lightly sugared strawberries, mashed

In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, heat half-and-half and sugar over medium heat, turning off when fully heated.

In stand mixer, beat egg yolks until pale yellow and slightly thick.

Temper egg yolks by slowly pouring some of the hot half-and-half mixture into the eggs while the mixer is running. Then pour the egg yolks into the saucepan of half-and-half mixture.
Cook on medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is very thick and custardy.

Pour hot custardy mix into the can of the ice cream freezer.
Add heavy whipping cream and vanilla.
Add mashed strawberries. (These were already capped, sliced, lightly sugared and allowed to macerate in the fridge.)

Place dasher in the can; attach lid.

Surround the can with crushed ice and rock salt; crank until firm!
(Or follow the manufacturer's instructions for your electric freezer.)

(It would have been prettier with a few more strawberries on top, but we didn't wait for that! It was a hot day and we were trying to eat it before it melted!)

*Double ingredients for a one gallon ice cream freezer.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Special Visitors

What a delight to have special visitors this past weekend! 

Online friends since 2011, I first met Deanna of Creekside Cottage in person in 2012 when we visited her family in beautiful Lancaster County. Over the past six years we have met numerous times, sometimes here, sometimes there, (and even once at Karen Andreola's house!), and it is always a grand time of fellowship!

Saturday was no exception! 

We spent some time visiting (did I mention that we never run out of things to talk about?) and then we went out for lunch at a local cafe. After lunch, we sweated through browsed a used book store and then sweated meandered through one of "our" antique stores. I remarked that we had taken Deanna and Tim to all of our "hot spots" and I didn't mean "trendy"! I meant hot.

Back to Pineapple House (and air conditioning and cold drinks), we continued to chat until dinner time. Ron and Tim went out to grill the chicken that had been marinating while we gals got things ready inside. I was glad that I had planned a light, cool salad on such a hot day . . . baby spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, red onion, grilled chicken, blue cheese (or Parm), and sugared pecans, tossed with a creamy vinaigrette. Dessert was individual strawberry shortcakes (no photo). 

Deanna brought us some gorgeous peonies from her garden. She had taken note when I said that our own peonies had been beaten by the rain. It was a thoughtful gift and I am still enjoying their beauty and their sweet aroma.

Each time I look at them, I am reminded of the sweet aroma of friendship and fellowship that we shared on Saturday!

Friday, May 25, 2018

New and Old on the Sun Porch


This little rustic blue fish I found at a local antique store this week.

And a dish garden of succulents Kristin and family gave me for Mother's Day.


This old girl. 
She loves the sun porch when the weather gets warm. In fact, the hotter, the better.

Can you believe that it is nearly summertime? 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Homeschooling: Field Trip to Annapolis

One of the joys of eclectic homeschooling is the freedom to follow rabbit trails!

During the art portion of Morning Time this school year, we had learned about Rembrandt and James McNeill Whistler. (As an aside, our study of Whistler was surprisingly fun! I knew Whistler only as the painter of Whistler's Mother which I saw as austere. But Whistler himself was far from austere! Watch this documentary to learn more.) We needed to choose another artist to finish out the year. 

Our history studies have taken us to the Colonial period and we did an overview of the founding of each of the thirteen colonies. As we learned about our own state of Maryland, I remembered a book I had read with my older children about the early American portrait painter from Maryland, Charles Willson Peale. So I went to our own shelves and pulled out Painter of Patriots by Catherine Owens Peare. (I had purchased my own copy of this out-of-print biography a few years back.)

George Washington at the Battle of Princeton by Charles Willson Peale

Charles Willson Peale, prolific painter, businessman, politician, and naturalist, was born in Chestertown, Maryland. His father died when Charles was ten years old. The family moved to Annapolis, a wealthier town with a better market for his mother's beautiful embroidery work, and Peale spent the remainder of his childhood and a good portion of his adulthood there.

As we read, I began to wonder if there was not something in Annapolis that we could visit . . . perhaps a childhood home, perhaps a workplace, perhaps a public display of one of his paintings. A quick internet search led me to Hammond-Harwood House, "The Jewel of Annapolis," which has a substantial collection of Peale paintings.

So on a picture perfect May day, we enjoyed Colonial history, art history, and good eats on a visit to our state's capital, Annapolis!

Here, Bekah stands in front of Maryland's State House. Did you know that this building actually served as the capital for the brand new United States, from November 1783 to to August 1784? It is also the oldest state house in America still in continuous use.

Downtown Annapolis has beautiful brick sidewalks and streets, lovely old buildings rich with history, and charming shops and cafes.

We ate a delicious lunch at Harry Browne's (a crab cake sandwich for me, a "Capital Burger" for Ron, and a roasted chicken panini for Bekah),

with a fabulous view of the State House right outside our window!

At Hammond-Harwood House, we visited an exhibit area while waiting for our tour to begin. There were several portraits painted by Charles Willson Peale, including this one of Mr. Thomas Anderson. This is the only Peale painting that I photographed, because I didn't learn until the end of the house tour that non-flash photography was permitted.

As our tour began, the docent told us that this is one of the most photographed doors in America! The architecture of the Hammond-Harwood house is amazing, a five-part Anglo-Palladian house built in 1774. (Read ~here~ for more about the architecture and construction of the house.)

This view of the Hammond-Harwood House (not my photo) shows all five parts of the home and reveals the symmetry that is a hallmark of Anglo-Palladian architecture. 


Can you believe that these boxwoods in the back garden were planted in 1825?!

At this point, we were well into the tour. I have no pictures of the entire downstairs . . . dining room, parlor, entry, colonial floorcloth, beautiful furnishings (a large collection of John Shaw originals) and art.


My photo is fuzzy, but I love the coverlet and the fabric in these bed hangings!

Brick floors in the kitchen.

Be still my colonial heart! I love this stepback cupboard!

Back outside, our docent pointed us to something of interest. Jeremiah Loockerman apparently carved his initials in an exterior brick back in 1829!

(Hmmm . . . over 150 years later, our own son carved his pseudonym on a brick at our house! There is nothing new under the sun, I suppose.)  😁

Jeremiah Loockerman's initials, circa 1829

Ryan's pseudonym, circa 1990

After the tour, it was on to Fox Books.

F. O. X.

If you've watched You've Got Mail, you get the reference. (It's really "Old Fox Books" but we edited out the "Old" to make it fit.)

And coffee time at Brown Mustache Coffee. What a great way to end a field trip!

I love how our little rabbit trail into the life of artist Charles Willson Peale let to more "trails" of learning! We "met" other artists in the biography (Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley). We learned more about our state's colonial history. We learned about our state house. (We'd like to tour it next time around.) We learned about Andrea Palladio and Palladian architecture. We learned about John Shaw, colonial cabinet maker. We even learned a tidbit about horticulture! (Who knew that boxwoods could live for two hundred years?!)

Don't be afraid to follow rabbit trails, homeschool mom! You never know what you'll turn up!

Friday, May 18, 2018

First Formal

Life is happening faster than I can blog! That's not at all a bad thing, but I do want to post a few things for the record. (Do you know what I'm talking about, fellow bloggers?) 

As the school year nears its end, we have had several special culminating activities. We're ending the year with a bang! And there are a few more events to come. Although she is probably my shyest child, Bekah is also one of my most social. Does that make sense? She will likely be one of the quietest in the room, but that doesn't keep her from wanting to do all. the. things.

This spring, Bekah attended her first formal! It was a special evening, hosted by a nearby homeschool co-op. We liked that it was not only open to couples, but to groups of kids as well. 

One of the best parts for me? The hair and make-up session before the formal! Bekah and Maddie, and friends Grace and Lydia curled and sprayed and powdered and polished, with Kati helping too. So much girliness . . . so much fun!

Yes, there was a young man here too. Gavin came along with Maddie and began the afternoon reading his book. Then the two of us went on a coffee run and after we distributed the drinks, he remained at the table with the girls. (Smart boy, huh?) 

And here they are, all dolled up for the formal!
Granddaughter Maddie, 13
(How can she look so grown up?!)

Grandson Gavin, 15 

Daughter Bekah, 17

Grace, 17

Lydia, 14

A beautiful/handsome group! 

Precious young people with so much of life before them.

It was a privilege to be a small part of this "first"!

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