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 28, 2022

A Last Minute Trip and a Gracious Hostess

Bekah (our youngest daughter) and Maddie (our oldest granddaughter) had been planning a trip since May. As a graduation gift, Maddie's parents (our daughter Kristin and her husband Brian) had given her a trip to a dinner theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and had asked Bekah to go along with her. Kristin had also arranged for the girls to stay overnight with our friend Deanna while they were there. 

Ron and I have made the trip to Lancaster many times, as have Kristin and Brian. But as we were trying to write down directions for the girls, using our shortcuts and avoiding the interstate, it seemed complicated. 

Also, Bekah's foot was painful and quite swollen from an allergic reaction to a bug bite 😮 (a visit to the doctor had ruled out infection), and she was the back-up driver. 

Hmmm . . . 

I texted Kristin, "A little part of me wants to drive them there and then hang out with Deanna while they do their thing. Then I don't have to worry about them finding their way and I can keep an eye on Bekah's foot." Kristin was fine with that plan. 

Multiple texts and phone calls followed to be sure that everyone was okay with this last minute change. (They were!) 

So I texted Deanna to see how she would feel about having a last minute guest (me!). 

Immediately, she responded, "Ah! Wow! That would be awesome!"

And "What a treat!"

And "I'm delighted!"

An hour and a half later, Bekah, Maddie, and I were on the road. I would never have expected to be a part of Maddie's graduation trip, but we had a grand time! 

Deanna is such a gracious hostess! Not everyone would be so eager to have a last minute guest arriving (for an overnight visit, no less), but she extended such a warm welcome, almost making me feel as if I were doing her a favor instead of the other way around. We were greeted with hugs, and then we went into cool and comfortable Creekside Cottage. After a little conversation, the girls took their things downstairs and began to get ready for the dinner theater. 

 ~ photo taken from Dutch Apple Dinner Theater's Facebook page ~

After the girls left, we settled into the evening. Dinner was perfect summer fare: homemade burgers cooked on the grill and fresh corn-on-the-cob. Everyone (including Deanna's husband Tim and son Kyle) pitched in to prepare the meal. We spent the rest of the evening catching up and talking about so much, occasionally chatting with other family who were coming and going (Deanna's parents, daughter Sarah, daughter and son-in-law Rachel and Wes). We talked late into the night, even after the girls had returned from the dinner theater, talked with us for a while, and gone to bed. 

The next day, the four of us went to The Tea Trolley.  It is a charming tea room, with delicious scones and other goodies. We had a lovely time! (You can read Deanna's account of our visit ~here~.) 

After tea, we rode back to Creekside Cottage and then said our thank-yous and good-byes. We had had such a wonderful time at the Rabes' home and there was absolutely no indication that we were even the smallest bit of trouble. Deanna is quite the example of gracious hospitality! 

Dinner theater ✔
Tea room ✔

What was next on this girl-y graduation trip?

Why, petting goats, of course! 

Both girls are animal lovers, and petting and feeding goats was a thrill for them! 

I texted this photo to Kristin and she replied, "Maddie in her happy place."

Cool refreshments at a coffee shop . . . 

. . . and then it was back on the road, heading for home. 

It's not every day that a grandmother gets to go on a graduation trip, but I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these sweet girls! 

Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Habit of Hospitality

I have written about hospitality many times here on the blog (I even wrote a 31-day series about hospitality in my early blogging days.), because it is something that I feel strongly about.  

But as enthusiastic as I am about hospitality, it is far too easy to fall out of the habit, which is what we have done lately. So Ron and I have become more intentional about it for the month of July, and we are hosting a different group of people each Sunday this month. 

🌻 On the first Sunday of July, we invited Ryan and Sarah and the children over for homemade peach ice cream. We are taking every opportunity to spend time with them before they move later this summer. 

🌻  On the second Sunday, Bekah invited a group of young adults over after church. I made lunch (Ron grilled the chicken), and we all enjoyed our time of fellowship and conversation around the table. Then the young adults played games while the older adults (Ron and I 😉) propped our feet up in the sunroom

🌻  On Sunday #3, we invited a sweet couple from our church. We have talked to these friends many times at church, but there is something special about sitting down together in a home. We learned where they have worked and lived, the names of their grandchildren, and that they met in French class. ♥

🌻 This Sunday afternoon, Ron's siblings and their spouses are coming over for homemade ice cream. 

🌻On the last Sunday of the month, we'll be having our annual Summer Birthday Celebration in which we will celebrate TEN summer birthday people! 

We will not be keeping up this hospitality pace after this month! August is already crazy without adding extra things. But this was a way to jump
 start our hospitality habit! Although we already host many family gatherings, our goal is to reach out and invite others into our home. We are at a stage in life where it is possible to do this if we are intentional about it. 

Here are a few pointers for encouraging the habit of hospitality.

ONE: Invite! 

Yes, actually invite someone. 

It does no good to say, "We should have people over more" or "we need to invite so-and-so" unless we actually DO it. 

So choose a date and invite. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find a date that works for everyone, so you may as well get started. Even if you have to plan a few weeks out (or even further), at least you have a date on the calendar and you can look forward it. 

I always remember my friend Deanna's hospitality motto: People like to be invited. So simple, but so profound. 

TWO: Keep it simple.

Sometimes, my lofty goals get in my own way. If I can only host when I have the perfect menu or my house is white-glove clean, then I probably won't do it. I have to remember my own hospitality motto: Not to impress, but to bless. 

It helps to keep it simple. I often rely
 on a tried-and-true menu. My summer menu is typically grilled chicken, a variety of summer salads, and a cool dessert. That is what I served the young adults. I repeated the menu the following week with a few tweaks because of dietary needs. 

Plan a simple, cheerful centerpiece. For summer, my go-to is a vase or pitcher of flowers cut from our yard. Ron planted a wild flower mix in one of the raised beds, and some zinnias grew back from last year's seeds. We also have several hydrangeas. So there is usually something that we can use for a simple arrangement. For winter, my go-to is a candle in a glass hurricane, although I will also use mums or poinsettias (those are always faux because we have a cat) or tulips. 

THREE: Plan ahead. 

Although I am a procrastinator by nature, I must overcome those tendencies when I host. It is essential that I plan and work ahead, even if I am keeping it simple. 

We have already mentioned the need to plan ahead on the calendar and settle on a date to have people over. (Of course, it is also wonderful to be spontaneous and invite someone on the spot! But I rarely do that, so I will host more frequently if I get a date on the calendar and intentionally set aside that time.) 

It also helps me to make a list of tasks and do as many as possible ahead of the event. Put the ice cream base together the day before so it can chill in the fridge overnight before freezing. Make the salads ahead. Put them in the bowls you will serve them in. (Or at least choose your serving bowls/platters ahead so that you will not be scrambling as you're getting dinner on the table.) Set the table the night before. 

Recent note to self: Cut and arrange the flowers the day before. If you try to do it on Sunday morning, you will be late to Sunday School because it takes longer than you think. 

In my next post, I am going to tell you about a wonderful hostess! 

Friday, July 1, 2022

The New Sunroom

It was a long time coming, but I am finally ready to share our new sunroom with you! The work is finished, loose ends are tied up, and we have been enjoying our new space for a few weeks now. We couldn't be happier with how it has turned out! 

In February, I told you about our plans to convert our screen porch into a four-season sunroom. (You can read about it in ~this~ post.) It was (by far) our biggest house project of the year . . . and one of the biggest since we have lived at Pineapple House. It took months to find a contractor, more months to wait for materials, and then more months to wait for that one window that was the wrong size. And then after the contractor was finished, there was lots of painting, as well as some finishing touches that we wanted to add. 

Ron got started on the painting while Bekah and I visited Kati in March, even though that window was not in yet. On Ron's vacation week in April, his brother Max came to help paint, which was a huge help because Max is a retired school teacher who now has a painting business. Bekah and I also helped. So. Much. Painting.

The window finally arrived at the beginning of May, and our contractor came back and completed the job. Woo hoo!

When we returned home from our visit with Kati and family in May, we made a detailed list and we (mostly Ron) attacked those remaining items. There were many: hang the new chandelier and wire it to come on with the switch, hardwire the fans to take them off the switch, finish painting, make the countertop, modify a couple of corners we didn't like, add molding to the closet. But we were so ready to be finished and start enjoying the room!

It took about a month to tie up all of those loose ends, but we did it! 

Today, I will give you a look around. I hardly know where to start! 

Let's start at the general plan.

We wanted lots of light in the room, with as many windows as possible, as tall as possible. Our contractor recommended ten 5-foot windows. (If the windows were any taller, we would have had to get ones with tempered glass to pass code, which would have increased our cost significantly.) 

We chose double French doors. They are pretty, let in lots of light (are you sensing a theme here?), and can be opened wide if necessary. As a bonus, I like the sightline from front door to the back yard. 

Ron also asked the contractor to build six-inch walls for added insulation. 

We had a ductless mini-split installed for heating and air. I kind of hated to have it on the brick wall, but there was no other wall that could accommodate the unit. I'm getting used to it, especially since it does such a fabulous job of heating and cooling our sunroom quickly! 

Ron replaced the two small ceiling fans with two slightly larger but lower profile fans without lights. 

We painted the walls in Antique White (color match of an old Valspar color) and all that trim (around the ten new windows, the French doors, the door into the living room, the built in closet, the serving cabinet, the crown molding, the baseboard, and the picture window!) in Simply White by Benjamin Moore. It was a lot of painting, but I think I said that before. 

The Sitting Area

We kept our wicker furniture, but purchased new cushions. We chose navy (so they would not show dirt) Sunbrella® (to resist fading). We reused these ticking stripe pillows purchased years ago at Lowe's on clearance at the end of the season. I like how they look with the navy cushions. 

We also purchased a Ruggable area rug for the sunroom. We wanted something that would be easy to clean if there was a spill or a mishap because we plan to have gatherings and people (including children) and food in this room and we don't want to be overly worried about clean up. That said, I wanted something pretty to anchor the sitting area, and I was picturing an Oriental-style rug, so I chose this Verena Amber Red Rug in a 5' x 7'. I am happy with the choice. I love how the colors play off the navy cushions and the brick floor! 

This sitting area is Manzy's favorite! He enjoys the comfy loveseat, and he loves the deep window sills (Thanks, six-inch walls!) where he sits to watch the birds. 

The Dining Area 

We are happy to be able to use this table that has history! It is a table that Ron made using boards from his parents' chicken house.

Yes, the table has history. Not only did it come from family property, it was our kitchen table, our party table, our homeschool table, and our craft table for many, many years in The Farmhouse. Our kids grew up around this table! When we moved to Pineapple House, it wouldn't fit in the kitchen and we put our bigger table in the dining room (Ron made that one too), but we just couldn't get rid of this piece of family history, so we put it out on the porch. I'm so glad we did because it is perfectly at home in the new sunroom! 

One of my inspiration photos (you can see it ~here~, near the end of the post) made me envision a chandelier over the table in the sunroom. After much angst over exactly where to hang it (and after asking every person who came into our house for a couple of months), we hung it directly in front of the picture window into the living room and set the table below it. 

And speaking of the picture window, we decided to take off the large glass panel that covered it, remove the storm windows from the two smaller windows, and paint it all Simply White. It had been painted green because it was technically part of the exterior of the house, and I hadn't planned to change it. But it dawned on me that it would no longer be "exterior" and of course it should be the same color as the rest of the trim. It really opened up the room visually! 

The Serving Area 

First of all, I am so glad that we put a window in this area. We had considering letting that space become part of the wall, but decided that we'd appreciate the extra light in the serving area. And even though that ended up being the troublesome window that held up the show for several months, I feel that it was a good call. 

Because we went with six-inch walls, the rolling serving counter no longer fit into the original space. Ron cut it down by one-fourth and built a new countertop for it. We had planned for him to build a new countertop for the server, even if the room had remained a porch, so that was not a problem. He used the same chunky old pine wood that he had used for the kitchen table (and for the Farmhouse island), and I think it looks much better than before! 

The wall behind the serving counter had been vinyl siding. The contractor suggested that we make that area a traditional wall (again, thinking new interior space, not exterior). He and his employee spent most of a day taking off vinyl siding and clapboards and 1x6 boards. At the end of the day he told us, "Your house is built like a tank!" That's good to know!

I am looking for a pair of sconces to hang on either side of the window, but I am not in a hurry. 

We decided that the tall storage closet would look better if it had a more built-in look, so we sketched and planned until we came up with a simple design to bring the trim to the floor. 

Not technically the serving area, but near it . . . 

We painted the door into the living room Simply White. 

And we're still using the cabinet that was in The Farmhouse living room. Ron made it from old wood and I think it looks like an antique. We use it to store serving pieces, vases, and the like. I recently found the sailboat at one of my favorite antique stores. 

(Whew, this was a   l o n g   post!)

We are so thankful for this new room! It adds square footage to our house, but that's not what I care about. I am so excited to have added function and flexibility in Pineapple House! 

And if you have questions that I have not answered (although I feel like I must have told you everything!), feel free to ask them in the comments section.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...