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, August 7, 2017

Gathering the Moments | July




It has been a rough summer. 

Filled with struggle. Filled with sickness. Filled with disappointment. Filled with stories that are not mine to tell, and yet they are stories that intertwine with our hearts and lives. 

As I have continued to paddle with one oar, I have prayed. I have pondered. I have wondered. I have asked for answers. I have felt a little sorry for myself. (Yes, I admit it. I am not prone to pity parties, but I've had a few this summer.) I started to "gather the moments" of July but I didn't have many photos and I didn't like many of the ones I had and I wasn't even sure what I would say, so I stopped. 

And then I read these words*

"Is our 'I' in the dust?" 


And I had to answer honestly. No. 

A pity party is all about "I." And while I will continue to pray and ponder and ask for answers, I am determined to put "I" aside and walk forward in trust. 


* from Edges of His Ways: Daily Devotional Notes by Amy Carmichael





And as always, there are so many blessings . . . so many moments of beauty if only we're willing to see . . . 


There were ordinary moments. A Sunday afternoon drive along the river. A kitty on an old quilt. A Sunday morning mocha. 

We were blessed to be able to gather to celebrate the July birthdays. (With all of the other things that have been postponed or cancelled this summer, I am glad that this was not one of them.)

Milestone birthdays for both of our July girls!

Eve turned ten, which means it was her year for ten presents and a special box made by Papa.

 Maddie is thirteen. Amazing.

Around the house,

July was the month for sprucing up the sun porch . . .


. . .  and for filling in a space that was made when we "shopped the house" for the library. (More on that in another post.)



 ♪ ♫  Take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.  ♪ ♫



Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Paddling With One Oar


Right after we "finished" sprucing up the sun porch, I spied something in one of our favorite antique stores: an old oar. 

Okay, maybe I'm not quite finished with my sprucing. Just this one last nautical touch. 

But, even though a sale tag dangled from it, the price was more than we wanted to pay for the oar, so we passed on it, deciding to think it over. I came home (now convinced that I "needed" an oar on the sun porch) and searched the internet market. Eek. Most were costlier than the one we had seen in the shop.

Oh well. We'll just keep our eyes out for an oar. Maybe we'll stumble on one some day . . . 

The following week, Ron returned home from a day out with his brother and brother-in-law at a steam show and flea market. "I have a surprise for you," he said. "Meet me on the sun porch."

He went out to retrieve my surprise and came in with . . . 

An old, weathered, perfectly gray-blue oar! 


I love it . . . even more than the one at the antique shop! It is prettier. It only cost $20. And it was a thoughtful gift from my sweetheart who not only noticed it in the myriad of items at the flea market, but bargained for it, and then had to drag the cumbersome thing around with him until they found a shuttle to my brother-in-law's truck. Priceless! 



Some women may want diamonds or expensive vacations. I am happy with my oar!




Have you ever felt like you were paddling with one oar? 

You get the picture? You're paddling as hard as you can, but with that one oar, your boat just keeps spinning around in circles and you're not making any progress? 

That's kind of how this summer has seemed.

So far the highlights (lowlights) have been driver's ed and dental surgery. Because that is what we have accomplished.

Two different beach outings? Cancelled. A "grand" summer sleepover? Postponed. Rescheduled. Postponed again.

Between our families, we have had strep throat, a Morton's neuroma, respiratory viruses, bronchitis, scarlet fever, hives, ear infection, and I may have left something out. Sigh . . .

Yes, it does feel like we're paddling 'round and 'round and not making much headway.

But . . . 

Is summer "fun" what it's all about?

Do we expect things to always go our way?

Are we learning and growing through our struggles and through our disappointments?

Are we depending on Him to direct our steps?

Are we trusting His goodness in our lives, knowing that it doesn't always look like what we pictured?

Can we accept the detours as readily as the anticipated route?

Could it be that when we think we are paddling 'round and 'round that we really are making progress, and that, in spite of our crazy paddling, the boat is moving closer to our destination? 





Dental surgery update:

First of all, thank you all for your prayers and your kind words! I have recovered surprisingly well! For the first few days, my jaws were sore and stiff and swollen, but the pain was manageable. Motrin, Tylenol, and ice were my friends. After mid-week, each day brought improvement. I have a big, ugly bruise to show for my troubles.

Even though I felt that I could probably do more, I gave myself permission to rest last week. Rest and healing go hand in hand, and it was refreshing both physically and mentally to put down the to-do list and the obligations. (I have to admit that I enjoyed my blogging break too.)

I am so grateful to the Lord for successful surgery and a smooth recovery! 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Blog Break


I am taking a little blogging break while I recover from oral surgery. My plans for the next few days include: 

Frozen coffees . . . 



Reading . . . 



Blended creamy potato soup (made on Sunday in preparation) . . . 



And ice packs. (Apparently, my pride was removed with my wisdom teeth or I'd not be showing you this no-makeup, no-smile, swollen-face photo.)


I'll see you in a few days! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

"You Are My All in All"


This song has been the prayer of my heart lately. And this is such a beautiful arrangement, interwoven with Pachelbel's Canon in D. I could listen to it over and over. (And I have.) 




Hope this summer week is off to a good start for you!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

One More Change on the Sun Porch


Yes, we did get a new rug for the sun porch


I must say, it's a good thing we made the changes when we did, because summer clearance is happening! We were able to snag a good deal . . . but another week and we may not have found a thing. 



I did a lot of browsing online, but when size and design and style and price were considered, we decided on this rug, which happened to be available for pick up in our local Pier 1 store. 


 Transformation complete! 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Pick Up That Cookbook! {Fandango Salad with Panera Bread Raspberry Vinaigrette}



Continuing with my plan to pick up a cookbook in my kitchen and try a new recipe every week . . .  



Ron bought The Panera Bread Cookbook for me when I was preparing to do my Bread on Tuesday series. Not only did I learn a lot about bread making in the introductory chapters, I also featured two different recipes from the book in my series: Three-Cheese Bread and Cinnamon Raisin Bread.




This time, however, I went to the "Soups, Salads, and Sides" chapter and chose a salad recipe to try. Good summer food!



FANDANGO SALAD 
with PANERA BREAD RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE

FANDANGO SALAD
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
3 cups field greens, loosely packed
1 cup romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces, loosely packed
1/4 cup Panera Bread Raspberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 tablespoons Gorgonzola cheese, crumbed
8 - 10 slices Mandarin orange

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Arrange the walnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast for 5 minutes, toss nts, then toast for an additional 5 minutes or until golden. Remove from pan to cool. 

In a medium mixing bowl, toss field greens, romaine, and vinaigrette until well combined. Place the mixture on a serving plate. Top with the cheese, walnuts, and orange slices and serve.



PANERA BREAD RASPBERRY VINAIGRETTE
Ingredients: 
1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons raspberry jam
2 teaspoons shallot, minced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except oil in a medium mixing bowl with a wire whisk. Once ingredients are combined, slowly pour in the olive oil while whisking to form and emulsion. 




When Kati and I made this salad, we took great liberties with the recipe!

First of all, this recipe says that it serves one. But we used one bag of romaine and one bag of a salad blend (I think it was a "spring mix" with green leaf lettuce, red cabbage, shredded carrots) and it seemed like plenty for the four of us. Of course, we were using it as a side dish; if it was the main course, we would have needed more.

Also, I bought fresh Mandarin oranges (clementines) because the recipe called for "slices." I found that I had to slice them before peeling to keep the slices whole. I later found that most online recipes for Fandango Salad use canned Mandarin oranges. Those would be fine, although I did like the presentation with the sliced Mandarins. 

I did not measure the Gorgonzola. I just covered the salad with what I thought looked proportionate, so I probably used more than the recipe called for. 

Kati chopped more than 2 teaspoons of walnuts (maybe 3?), but I think the salad could have used a bit more. 



Fandango Salad was so good! Fresh greens with a little tang, a little sweetness, and a little crunch made for a great summer salad. And we had about half of the yummy dressing left over. Not a problem! I'm sure it will be a good addition to other summer salads.


Coming soon . . . the recipe for this delicious panini that we paired with the salad! (We have already made these twice!)



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Changes on the Sun Porch


You homemakers all know how one thing leads to another, right? And how making changes in one room leads to changes in other rooms? And sometimes you just get on a roll and change something up just because? (Even if it had nothing at all to do with changes anywhere else?)

Well, that's me right now. In the midst of changing and tweaking and sprucing things up and considering this and that and the other. And one day, I looked through the living room window at the sun porch and thought, I wonder how it would look to switch the table area and the seating area.



This  is how it was arranged before, with the table as the focus, but the seating area felt a little tight.

With the new arrangement, the seating area feels spacious and inviting. But the table is further from the door and from the pass-through window. It's fine for the four of us, but we'll see how it flows when we have a larger group. It won't be as easy to extend the table (with a folding table) for more seating, although we could just set up the folding table separately, maybe even using the wicker chairs at the table. We'll see. 


Then, of course, when you rearrange, you see things with new eyes. And my eyes began to see a few nautical touches for the summer porch.











Now my eyes are seeing an outdoor rug to define the seating area. I wonder . . .

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Pick Up That Cookbook! {Barbecued Chicken}


Continuing with my plan to pick up a cookbook in my kitchen and try a new recipe every week . . .  



One of my favorite cookbooks is Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

I mean . . . "great food." 

And "fast." 

What's not to like, huh? 



The recipes in this book all appeared in issues of Everyday Food magazine. I still miss that magazine and kept all of my old issues! This is my kind of cooking: using seasonal ingredients to make delicious meals without a lot of fuss. We have made many recipes from this cookbook, but for the purposes of my challenge, I turned to the "Summer" section (recipes are categorized according to season) and chose one I had not yet tried. 

The barbecue sauce was easy to make, using ingredients that I already had in my kitchen. (I did have to buy some Texas Pete, but I'll bet many of you have that handy already.) And it is yummy! I'll be keeping it on hand for more summer grilling!





BARBECUED CHICKEN

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup ketchup

1 cut-up chicken (3 pounds)*
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for grates
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper


Directions:
1) Heat a grill to medium. Simmer the hot sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, mustard, garlic, and ketchup in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, 5 to 7 minutes.

2) In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the vegetable oil; season well with salt and pepper.  

3) Lightly oil the grates; place the chicken on grill. Cover the grill; cook, turning frequently until the chicken registers 165 F on an instant-read thermometer, 10 to 12 minutes. Uncover the grill; continue cooking, basting frequently with the sauce, until the chicken is glazed thoroughly, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve with remaining sauce.

I could not find a whole chicken cut into parts (nor did I want to do the butchering), so I used some bone-in breasts and legs.




We're finding some new favorites this summer as I "Pick Up That Cookbook!" Have you picked up one of your cookbooks yet? 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Summer . . . So Far




I could not get motivated today. A very busy week is coming up and I should have used the day to get my ducks in a row. Instead I used the day to be . . . summery? As in, summer vacation mode? Coffee with a long-ago friend with whom I have recently reconnected. A little reading. A trip to the store for last minute ingredients for supper. A load of laundry. Praying. Lots of pondering. Not much else. 




Summer is upon us.

It kind of sneaked up on me this year, probably because of the way our school year wound down. And we're still not totally finished! These past couple of weeks, Bekah and her friend have been taking driver's ed (getting up early . . . every day . . . eek!), but I am hoping that 10th grade will be completed next week.



We have been enjoying summer meals. I have another cookbook recipe (two actually!) to share soon. Are you eating summery foods? 




Just because Ron finished the library doesn't mean he has run out of projects! 

Last summer, he didn't garden at all. Having just moved to Pineapple House in late April, there was much to do and starting a garden wasn't a priority. This year, however, he built two raised beds and has planted tomatoes, peppers, and sweet potatoes. (He may add a couple beds more next summer.) He also created a little "entrance" to the garden area in the side yard. We are considering some sort of trailing plant to enhance the entrance: clematis, honeysuckle, wisteria? We are open to suggestions! 



There will be lots of coming and going the rest of this week. It may be a bit busier than I like it, but it is always a good thing to take time for people. 



What has your summer held so far? Projects? People? Pondering? Hopefully, you'll find a day or two to just be lazy restful.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Pineapple House | The Library



A few months ago, I told you about our plans to turn our fourth bedroom into a library. 

I am over the moon about what we accomplished in this room! 

  • I am thrilled that all of my books are now unpacked. 
  • I am happy that I no longer need to keep the door of this room closed. 
  • I am delighted that we have a cozy little library/office/school room/sitting room. 

And . . . we did it on the cheap! 

Really, we spent comparatively little money making over this room. We used our DIY skills, we shopped the house, and we found a few bargains to create a library did not break the budget. 

So today I'll take you on a little tour and show you how we accomplished the plans that we had made for this room. (I walked you through our four goals ~here~ and now I'll show you the results.)


1) Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves on one wall.


We did it! Or rather . . . Ron did it! 

We decided on staggered levels for the shelves, adding visual interest and also providing a few taller spaces for oversized books and/or collectibles. Floor-to-ceiling maximized the space. There's room for everything and even a bit of room to expand our collection. There are shelves for geography, world history, American history, science, biographies, children's fiction, adult fiction, picture books, and homeschool resources. I was even able to devote a shelf to my 26 years worth of homeschool record books. One of the larger shelves has oversized books and two baskets, one for board books and one for baby toys. (I love it that the toddlers go directly to these baskets and come out with books to read.) Ron added a few outlets, but, of course, I ended up putting the pencil sharpener on a shelf that didn't have an outlet, so we're going to have to drill a hole in order to reroute the offending cord.



This photo has a wonky angle because I took it from outside the window!

On this shelf, I have some favorites: our globe, my beloved Genevieve Foster collection, reference books, an olive wood camel my mom brought from Israel many years ago, and my Great-Aunt Minerva's school bell. 

I love having a home for my globe. As a homeschooling family, we have always needed our globe to be accessible, but its home in The Farmhouse was a corner. This is better.  



2) A desk/office area.


We definitely shopped the house for this space! 




This wall cabinet was the one that Ron built for The Farmhouse bathroom. We hung it in the dining room here at Pineapple House, but it felt off. (Having nothing under the cabinet made it feel like it was floating.) Now, however, it has a home. This is right. It hangs over the desk and holds envelopes, cards, and other stationery.

The desk was also at The Farmhouse, serving as a side table in the living room. (You can see it ~here~.) The crock lamp was in The Farmhouse kitchen. (It's ~here~.) An old crock holds pencils and pens. In fact, the only new item in this area is the little wooden mail tray I bought at HomeGoods. (Actually, it's not a tray designed specifically for mail, but I liked it better than the mail sorter things that I found.)


Ron is using the desk for household finances. I write out cards and notes here. Occasionally Bekah does her school work at the desk. And the mail . . . well, it gets to the tray some of the time. We're still working on that. 

3) A reading area.


This love seat was used hard in The Farmhouse kitchen, because that room was the hub of our home. It was the kitchen, the sitting room, the school room, the gathering room, the party room. The love seat has had a lot of use.  

We're not ready to have it reupholstered yet, but it needed an update. I found a very inexpensive throw on eBay, so I am using it to cover the back of the love seat. It certainly buys us some time. 

The love seat is the most comfortable piece of furniture ever! I find myself here a lot . . . having my devotions and morning coffee, blogging, and, yes, even reading! 
Pinky photobombed all of my love seat pictures. :) 


We picked up this Warren Kimble print for $25 at an antique shop! Score!


My daughter-in-law Sarah took this photo of me reading to the boys while the girls were having their piano lessons with Bekah. (I was in my glory.)



4) An overflow conversation area.


As I told you in this post, I was hoping to find a wing chair to expand the function of this space to include a small gathering/sitting room. I searched Craigslist for months, but I couldn't find exactly what I was looking for (the perfect combination of style, price, and location). 

I began to wonder if a wing chair would even work in the room at all. Maybe a chair would crowd the small space. Right after we finished painting, Kati suggested that we bring in the red-checked chair from the living room, just to see if it would work. Well, not only did we decide that a wing chair would work, we decided that we wanted this wing chair! Right size, right color, just enough pattern . . . no need for Craigslist! 

Shopping the house can be a good thing. 



Of course, to make a sitting area, you need to have a rug. And how are those little grands going to sit and play a game or do a puzzle if they don't have a cushy place to land? 


Wanting to keep the cost down, I began my search locally. What do you know? I found my rug in Walmart. It is Venetian Scrollwork in their Better Homes and Gardens line.  And it was $78, folks! Score again! It is not the quality of my living room and dining room rugs, but this is a low traffic area and I am happy with how it looks, so it is good.  





Now to give you a few more details . . . 

Paint colors

For the walls, we used the same antique white that we have used in all of the other rooms at Pineapple House. I am sorry that I can't give you the exact color, but it was an old Valspar color that Lowe's no longer carries, and we have had it color matched from an old can. It is my favorite shade of white -- not too white, but not yellowy or tan. 

The trim is a color from Olde Century Colors called Quaker Green. (We had it color matched in a Behr paint, eggshell finish, because we have always been pleased with Behr's results.)

Quaker Green is very close to the color we used in The Farmhouse dining room. Such a great colonial color! Although I prefer lighter, brighter colors in my main living spaces, a darker color like this works well in a room that is less frequently used. It also ups the "cozy" factor. :)


Window Treatments

I had planned to use a check to make a fishtail swag. But after deciding to keep the checked wing chair in the room, and considering the coverlet pattern on the love seat and the design in the rug, a check seemed like too much. Kati and I went to Hobby Lobby and we found a simple fabric that looks like linen (it isn't) that seemed just right. 




Ron also made shutters for the bottom sash. This allows us to let natural light in during the day, but we can also have privacy after the sun sets. (When I took most of the pictures for this post, the shutters were not finished, so I went back a took a few more after they were in place.)



Lighting

We wanted updated lighting for the library. I found this small bronze chandelier at Sturbridge Yankee Workshop. Not only was it the right size for the space, it was also the right price! It was on sale and I had a discount code. We paid just a smidge over a hundred dollars for this new light.





So there you have it: our library/office/sitting room! 

Yes, I am over the moon, because it turned out even better than I had imagined! It may not be on the cutting edge of home decor. But it is functional and cozy and it fits our style, and that makes it perfect for us!

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