Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Horse Trailer

 Several years ago, someone gave us an old, well used horse trailer.  It was barely usable but use it we did.  Tim as able did a bit to it here and there, always amazing me with his skill at figuring out what to do and how to do it and then doing it!

This weekend we are driving across the state to pick up a pony for the younger kids.  Tim has spent this week, along with his side kicks Emily, Lindsay and my Dad working to get it in proper shape.  We do not have a photo of what it used to look like as we did not want to commemorate that!  Now though I wish I had even one to show you for comparison.

 I guess the trailer used to be black with white but by the time we got it, it had faded to a dull navy blue.  Lots of rust and holes even.  They sanded it and primed it and painted it.  

 My Dad has worked on the wiring - they put new lights on and Tim put that new metal flashing on the front! 

 We think it looks kinda retro - we still may add its curved white stripe but it is not important for this weekend!

 We are all in awe - our pony is coming home in style!  And yes, it will have a tire before we hit the road on Sunday!

Blueberry Citrus Cake

A few years ago, one of the Grandmas of Hospitality Lane brought an amazing cake to one of our fellowship meals.  She is very casual when she speaks about her amazing cooking and said "Oh, I got it out of a cookbook I have had for a long time."  I began asking for the recipe!

She gave me the recipe earlier this year and finally, Wednesday, I had all the ingredients on hand and I made this yummy cake.  

 While I ran an unexpected errand this afternoon, Rachel made the frosting.  This cake can be made into a layer cake with this delightful frosting in between the layers as well....sigh!

I know you are all drooling onto your keyboards about now, so I shall share the recipe with you -

Blueberry Citrus Cake


1 box lemon cake mix
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup cooking oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 T. lemon zest
1 T. orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and lightly flour two 8 inch or 9 inch round cake pans.  You can also use a 9x13 pan.  Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix, orange juice, water, oil, and eggs.  Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, increase speed to medium beat for 2 minutes.  With a spoon gently fold in blueberries, lemon zest and orange zest.  Pour batter into prepare pans.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until something poked into the middle of the cake comes out clean!  Cool layers in pan for 10 minutes and then remove cakes from the pans, and cool them on a wire rack.   For a 9x13 pan simply allow the cake to cool completely.
Frost with Citrus Frosting.  Store cake covered in the refrigerator.

Citrus Frosting
In a mixing bowl combine 
1/4 cup butter (softened)
3 oz of cream cheese
Add 3 cups of powdered sugar
and 2 Tablespoons orange juice
Beat until combined.  In a small bowl beat 1 cup whipping cream until soft peaks, add to cream cheese mixture.  Add 2 T. orange zest and 2 T. lemon zest. Beat on low until combined.

This would be a great cake to serve with tea!  It is easy to make and delightful to eat!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Blinker Bob

 A few weekends ago my Dad's fire company had their yearly company dinner.  They decided to do a picnic this year.  A large percentage of the company is made up of Amish, who are very community minded.  

 Many of the ladies help with the monthly breakfast - all you can eat for $6.00.  It is a great breakfast.  The money from these breakfasts go to pay off the companies new fire truck. 

 The families often all where the same color, but there seemed to be several 'couples' who were dressed in the same colors.  That is pretty unusual, as they usually keep who their courting a secret.
 See the same color dresses?  This dad was wearing his fire company shirt.

The Amish are a friendly, warm people.  Each community is a bit different from each other.  There are two communities who serve with the fire company.  One of the bishops is a lot more strict than the other community's bishop.  And when they vote for officers they all discuss ahead of time and then all vote for the same person.  They really like my Dad and liked when he was the president of the company - in fact they asked him to run.  The head of the Amish with the company said to him "If you run we'll back you."  They knew that he would do things in an honorable way.

They also love to tease him that with our family being so close and the fact that they are going to add on to our house, that he must really be Amish!

The biggest honor he has received from the Amish community is that they have given him a nickname.  This is a big deal - it means he is accepted by the community.  The Amish use alot of the same names so they often use nicknames to identify who they are talking about.  A girl may be identified by her father's name such as "Levi's Mary"  or a guy may be "Smithy John."  

My Dad's nickname was given to him by one of the family's children - Dad always drops by and picks up this family's dad when they get a call and with his volunteer blue lights flashing the kids would always call out to their dad "Blinker Bob is here, Blinker Bob is here!"  Now he is known in many different communities as "Blinker Bob."  In fact when Dad and Lindsay go to a certain tack shop that is Amish owned he is greeted by them "Hey Blinker Bob!"  He also gets a deal on things.

This has perks for me too.  "Oh, you're Blinker Bob's daughter!  Well, you can have these tomatoes for less." 

This post was done today for my friend Jane who lives in Florida.  She is interested in all things Amish.  I was thinking of you today friend, and missing you.  Much love!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teatime Tuesday

 Welcome to Teatime Tuesday!  

Today I want to show you my most interesting tea cup.  It is a lovely soft aqua color and has really interesting details.

 Here is the marking on the bottom of the teacup - I've tried to Google this but am not finding it.  Any one familiar with this company?

 The saucer is just a bit darker in color than the tea cup.

 I think the details are really stunning - 

 It is very fine china - very thin...


I bought this teacup in Vermont about 2 years ago.  I don't use it often but I do use it.  It's just lovely.

I am having such fun getting to know new friends that love tea and all things tea related as well.

Thanks for joining me today - don't forget to visit Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage for Teatime Tuesday.  And Lady Katherine's Tea Parlor.  
I am also joining Trish at Lily-Rose Cottage for L.A.C.E.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What To Do With All Our Books?

The house has been in need of freshening up - you know trim that is nicked, or marked up, furniture in the same condition.  It just needs a fresh coat of paint.

There are many different areas that need this but this evening, taking advantage of the kids swimming at my parents house again, I painted the hallway trim, Kyle's closet trim, my desk, bookcase and armoire.  They all have been given a fresh coat of a soft white. 

Doing this has lead me to see the need for more bookcases, and some organization of stuff.  We have way too much stuff.  And many, many books.  Speaking of books, I have been researching home library programs for the computer, such as BookCAT. 
Do you use a computer program to catalog your books and other media?
I have a huge problem - I love to loan out our books, movies, homeschool materials - we are always happy to help someone out. The problem is that I cannot always remember who I have loaned things to etc.  I would love to be able to use a program like BookCAT that would use a barcode scanner to log in all the books we have and then I could check books in and out - it would also send and email to the person who borrowed it when the agreed upon time is almost up!  Love that!

This is a lovely problem to have, but it is one that must be solved soon!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


 Over the years I have been inspired by authors who have written about how we as woman can have influence in our homes; we can create atmosphere! 

 Atmosphere is essential.  How do you want your home to feel, smell, sound?  I love a comfy bed with fresh sheets -

 Fresh picked strawberries from our garden, hot soapy dishwater, 

 the birdbath filled with water after a rainstorm.  I love books read aloud, and read silently while we all sit around in the living room with oil lamps and candles burning - for atmosphere.

 What is the tone in your home?  Is there lots of yelling and chaos, or peace and order?  My home is all of those things sometimes!  But we are always working to check our attitudes and walk in grace with each other.  The atmosphere in our home is seen in home sewn skirts, kids sitting around the kitchen table working on projects and listening to Jonathan Park.  It is my husband calling us all together for family worship, trying to sing new songs, teenagers laughing and having fun with their parents and younger siblings.

 It's a sheet, or coverlet tossed over an old chair, and a family who loves to sit in it to read.  It is taking time to think through what speaks warmth and welcome to your family and guests.  It is music playing on my laptop while cooking in the afternoon.  It's welcoming a young woman into our home, and holding her in my arms when she is missing her mother. 

 It is learning about plants, and finding out how to use them both for health and for beauty, and encouraging my daughters to learn this as well.

 God is an awesome creator, and we being made in His image are creators as well.    I like to have nice artwork in our home.  I like to display the girls photography or paintings.  You can see some of their artwork by clicking here

 While my kids were away tonight, swimming in my parents pool, I vacuumed really well, and then mopped the floors.  I added Orange Sweet essential oil into the floor cleaning solution.   I love to do this and citrus is a good scent to use for the summer!  Lindsay mentioned when she got home that she could tell I had cleaned the floors because she smelled the citrus scent!

 I also had candles lit, and only the string of white lights over the cupboards on in the kitchen when they got home.  They all came trooping in to my room where I was talking on the phone to my sweetheart, who was at work.  I had no electric lights burning, only oil lamps.  Sarah sweet spirit responded to the atmosphere right away. "Oh, Mom!  It's so pretty in here.  I wish we could do away with our electric and just use oil lamps all the time!"  I smiled.  I knew it would speak to her.  I also know that when she is a home keeper one day she will be making a beautiful atmosphere in her own home.

It can seem overwhelming to a busy mom to take the time to do these small things, but I want to encourage you to give it a try.  Take the time to bake some bread or cookies, put music on, read books, talk together, watch a movie.  

I like my house to be clean, but it is often messy...books strewn, socks or shoes left under the table, knitting projects left on a counter, dog hair everywhere! We live in our house 24/7 - it is not just a place we sleep!  It is not a magazine perfect home by any stretch of the imagination.  But we try to keep it reasonably tidy, we all function much better in a non cluttered environment.

What do you want the atmosphere of your home to communicate?  What memories do you want your family to have of home?  Is your home a place where others are welcomed and included? Does your husband love to come home? I'd love to hear about the things that you do that are meaningful to your family, and make others feel welcome!  

Here is a list of books and authors that encouraged me.

The Spirit of Loveliness by Emilie Barnes.

First We Have Coffee by Margaret Jensen

Things Happen When Women Care by Emilie Barnes

Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer

What are the books that inspire you?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dirt Under My Fingernails

 I have been spending a bit of time, everyday, in the garden.  Today after weeding 4 veggie beds, I went out to my front cottage garden and did some dead heading and cutting back on several plants.  

 I took the opportunity to use my new clippers that my husband bought for me, to bring some flower beauty into our home.

 My hydrangea are so beautiful...all hydrangea is beautiful!  I saw an oak leaf hydrangea in someone's yard today and it was stunning.

 I love the way they look in this canning jar on my piano.

I love beauty, and have always wanted a lovely garden so I could have fresh flowers in my home as often as possible.  I love to learn and started reading books about gardens and visiting gardens, especially Longwood. I bought perennials thinking long term.  Annuals bloom longer but once they are spent you need to spend money to replace them - every year.

 Perennials bloom every year or every two years.  They can easily be divided and you double the beauty in your garden.  I have given shasta daisies away to many friends.  My daisies just keep growing and I keep dividing.  My Echinacea (Purple Cone Flower) are getting huge this year as well.  So this fall I will divide those too, and move some to other flower beds, and perhaps give a few away.  Echinacea can be used medicinally for building your immune system and helping to diminish the effects of colds.

 I have also learned about herbs and love to use them in my cooking and I love to dry lavender.  Lavender is really nice tucked into your linens and is known to help you to relax.

 I pick roses that do not require a lot of maintenance.  There are great climbers and knock out roses that have all the beauty with out the work.  Of course, once I can give some other roses some attention, I will likely do it.  I fell in love with these roses last night.  Aren't they amazing?

 Over the years I have received plants from my friends gardens as well.  This is the gift and beauty of gardening.

 If you don't have anyone to help you get started with your garden by sharing plants with you, try buying some seeds.  I encourage you to use heirlooms seeds so that you can save your seeds from year to year.  

 Also at this time of year, garden centers are starting to sell their plants at a discount - they are looking ahead to Autumn already.

If you want a garden, don't be afraid.  I didn't grow up doing this kind of thing, I read, talked with friends, and learned.

So can you.

Joining the Barn Hop today at Homestead Revival.

Linking up with Susan at A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teatime Tuesday

My dear friend Kelly from Cozy Comforts used to host a Teatime Tuesday which was very fun to participate in every week.  She has become very busy and isn't hosting anymore so I thought I would start it back up!  I discovered that there are a few Teatime Tuesday parties with link ups, so I won't be doing that.  I will link up with those and encourage you to do it too!

I am showing a photo taken early this rainy morning with my terrible point and shoot camera.  These are my Spode "Blue Room" teacups that I bought at a yard sale last year for a total of $2.00!  Yes, all four for $2.00!

Now on this rainy first day of Summer, I will go brew a pot of Yorkshire Gold and have a cuppa.

I hope you have a delightful day!

I am joining Sandi for Tea Time Tuesday at Rose Chintz Cottage, and Lady Katherine for her Tea Time Tuesday!

I am also joining Trish for L.A.C.E at Lily-Rose Cottage.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kyle's Blue Room

 Kyle's room is now a lovely blue - True Value premium paint in 'Pacific Starfish.'  You can see the color the room was on the other wall.

 Tim very kindly helped me with the cutting in between the wall and ceiling - I am usually the painter - we have different "styles" of painting...I have problems with my lower back and did not want to climb up and down the step stool.  Kay helped too, and I taught Sarah and Kyle how to roll...

It didn't take very much time at all.  He loves it and so do I!  It is so fresh looking with the white trim...

Linking up with Smiling Sally's Blue Monday!

Father's Day

 My Dad has served with his local volunteer fire company for 10 years. He is one of those people who head out day or night when the pager goes off.  Rain or snow or hurricane strength winds, they go out to deal with fire, accidents, downed power lines, and other things.  They do not get paid.  Not even those who serve as officers.

My Dad is the one who shuts down the roads and deals with rerouting traffic.  This is not a fun job.  People get angry when they are inconvenienced.  Sometimes it is hard to deal kindly with people who are cursing you, and are mad because they are stuck in traffic...yet you know that someone has just lost their life in an accident.  My Dad did duty for many hours the day of the Amish shooting - knowing that many of the Amish families in his fire company had likely lost family. He had to check press credentials as the world came to report on what happened.
My Dad was honored at their company picnic on Saturday.  They recognized the work he has done in the company.  He has served as president of the company for a few years also.  He received a really cool clock that has the fire company logo on it and his name and the positions he has held.  He was really touched.

I am proud of you Dad, and I love you!

 Happy Father's Day to my sweetheart.  You are an amazing man, and wonderful father.  We love you so much.


  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. We spent Saturday, doing things around the house, and then we swam. Kyle and Sarah left after that...