Hospitality, Friendship, Encouragement

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Seasons: Spring Has Arrived

Last night I heard the definitive sound of spring - the spring peepers!  They were singing away when I let Sadie out for one last chance to do her business before we go to bed.  The peepers weren't loud as they are sometimes, but this made me know without a doubt that spring had arrived.

We worked in the front flower garden yesterday.  Our home faces west and our neighbor to the west has a huge oak tree.  All fall and winter that tree loses leaves and they blow our way.  We raked in the fall but yesterday there was a ton more!  They also blow up the driveway and swirl around and land right by our kitchen door.  That all got swept out and those we allowed to get blown towards the creek!  It was a windy day yesterday.  Otherwise between cutting a few things back, pulling up some weeds and scooping up the leaves we had 3 wheelbarrows full!  

It is lovely to see the tulips poking up through the soil.   I wish they would be in bloom by Sunday but it will be several weeks yet.  We also need to mulch soon!

The birds are singing and busily going about their business in the front yard.

Soon a small bird family will make their home in this cute bird house.
 I may need to move this bird house.  I want to use 12x12 inch pavers to make a sitting area in this section of the garden.  It is in an awkward space and mostly gets weeds that must be pulled!  I can envision a small table and chairs in this space.  In the photo below, taken a few weeks ago at dusk, it would be down at the far end of the garden just past the front door.  It would allow for us to enjoy the flowers in this front garden by giving us a place to sit rather than just sit on the steps.

I love dreaming about ways to make our home a space that is warm and welcoming, outside as well as inside!

So, what is your definitive sign of spring where you live?

Monday, March 30, 2015

Hospitality: Preparing For Guests

The next few days are going to be fairly busy.  Tuesday is the start of Emma's Easter break from school, and she is bringing 3 friends home with her.  We're excited about hosting a few of her friends, and sharing our lives with them for the week.

One of the things we've done to prepare for their arrival is to rearrange Emma's bedroom.  It's the smallest one, so space is at a premium. By moving the bed to a different wall we opened up room for a mattress to lay on the floor, and either she or her friend Deb will sleep there.

The other two guests are young men and they will be sleeping downstairs in our literary cafe.  We'll slide the table over to make room for two twin beds, and we'll put a tri-paneled room divider up to give them a bit of privacy.

Today, we'll be airing the extra mattresses and finding just the right sheets, blankets, and pillows for them.  We are not wanting to 'impress' them, but we want them to know that their comfort was thought of and that we are pleased to have them with us.

All this preparation and fun will culminate with a giant Easter buffet here on Sunday.  Our whole family, our guests, my parents, our friend Denny, and Tim's brother Dan and his family, so we will be 22 people if I am counting right.

The food is easy, I am doing a ham, and green bean casserole, and maybe garlic mashed cauliflower.  Everyone else is bring food, too, which makes this very doable.  I've already purchased the napkins and some taper candles in a pretty spring green for the tables.  My friend Becky, who runs Good Neighbors Candle Company, sent some candles home on Saturday, after Tim and the kids helped them clear out their basement.  One of them is an Irish Moss candle in the same spring green I am using.  I had thought of asking her to pour me a few of those but had hesitated due to them having illness, and water issues in their basement.  It was so thoughtful of her.

 A sad thing is that this year, only two kids are old enough to do an egg hunt!  We will miss our Texas friends who've spent the last several Easters with us.  Her little guys will be egg hunting back in Texas this year!  Sigh.  Well, Kyle and Kamryn will make the most of it I'm sure.

There is nothing like guests coming to make you realize that your rooms need a bit of freshening.  You know how you get used to things looking a certain way, and say, "One of these days, I need to touch up the paint on that trim," or some such thing.  We'll be doing some of that kind of thing this week too.

I also will be pulling out our nicest towels and wash cloths for our guests to use.  We tend to use things until they really need to move into the rag bin, so it is often these kinds of situations where we may purchase a few new things.  We'll see.

Again, our goal is a warm and welcoming home, a comfortable place to sleep, good food to eat, and fun to be had.  

Today the outside will get a bit of tidying as well.  It has been a long cold winter and so not a lot has been accomplished outside.  We will be raking the dead leaves from the front garden and sweeping the front walk.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Love The Home You Have

 I am blessed to have an early copy of Melissa Michaels' first book, Love The Home You Have.  It was sent to me with no obligation to say anything about it.  But I must!

Melissa and I are blogging acquaintances.  She and I started blogging in 2007 and I came across her blog early in my blog reading.  She felt like a friend and still does.  I still read her blog every day, though I don't always comment.  We share a similar philosophy about our homes and how we think of them and use them.  I especially love her thoughts on creating a haven.

Her book is full of encouragement, and reminds me of Emilie Barnes books from the early 1990s.  Those helped me to love my home and to desire to make it a HOME for my family.  Melissa's book will do this for many, many women.

 There are really sweet graphics to emphasize certain aspects of the chapters.

The chapters are so helpful

 There is even a 31 Day Challenge in the back of the book!

I don't know if I've ever mentioned it before but I start libraries for my kids.  Books that have been meaningful to us as a family or a classic, or by a well loved author.  I also have books that I am buying for my girls to help encourage them when they have their own homes.  

This is one that I will be buying for my girls and for Kayleigh, as well.  I know that it will serve them well, when they have their own homes.

I hope you pick up this book for yourself, as a gift for a friend, or as an encouragement for a young mom.  You'll be so glad you did!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Your Work In The Home Is So Important!

Sometimes work around our homes can seem like it has no value.  We are just keeping a house clean, or washing clothes, or making meals.

Our culture has taught us that those things are not important, they're just something that has to be done.  We aren't taught how to  do these things well, usually coming to some sort of organization and 'way' of doing them, after we marry.

I like the way these look in the kitchen window, especially when the sun is streaming in.

I don't always want to do these things either.  

True confession.  

However, I have learned to enjoy making my home a place of beauty, and warmth, and welcome.  Not to "impress, but to bless" as my dear friend Cheryl says.  I like it to be reasonably clean at all times, while recognizing that we live in our house and we are busy with learning, art projects, cooking or baking, legos.  I want to be able to get things cleaned up in a reasonable amount of time.

My Mother Fern is thriving!

I mentioned to my friend Jennifer on Sunday that house work is Kingdom work, and that is really how I see it.  By keeping my home, and having my children here with me during the day, I am being given the opportunity to be light in my neighborhood, and in the lives of my children.  I'm able to welcome someone in for a cup of tea, or coffee, to chat and encourage them, or to give some kind of aid.  Today, a friend who borrowed Tim's truck came by, to exchange vehicles.  Tim had run to the store, so while he waited I was able to visit with him, and not be embarrassed by the state of my house.

Muddy boots in front of the cabinet that we moved up from the basement.  Mail on the table coasters and essential oil on the side table.  Real life.

Now, big disclaimer.  I am not embarrassed by a basket of laundry to be folded.  If we are having company, and we haven't had a chance to fold yet, I'll move it into my room.  Who wants to look at our laundry, after all?  But if someone just drops by, I don't fret about it.  I am not trying to set a standard of perfection that is unreasonable with a house full of people who live here 24/7.

I am able to walk beside my children everyday, talking about the Lord, and preparing them for the life God has for them.  As they go out into the world as adults, but also long before that, they will influence others by their lives, and in a sense, my work goes forward as well, and will continue into the lives of a generation I may not live to see!

So every time I wipe up a spill, wash dishes or walk by daughter through cooking a meal, I am doing the hard work of discipleship, and I am being 'exercised' by it as well.  The house work is just part of my work here at home.

What a privilege!  

I rearranged Emma's bedroom.  This gives a lot more floor space than the way it was previously set up.  I love making changes to improve the way our home works for us.

If you are an empty nester, your work in your family still goes on, even if it is not in a direct manner.  Your children are taking what you helped to teach them, and carrying that with them as they work, parent, and reach out into their communities.  The time you spend with your grandchildren is important, too.  They need your influence and love.  And you can still have significant ministry in the lives of your own parents or other family members, or young moms that need encouragement.  You get the idea!

We have been reading in the book of 1 Samuel and last week were reading about Nabal refusing to give food to David or his men.  David, whose men had been providing protection to Nabal's shepherds for no charge, was angry and set to ride to destroy Nabal.  Abigail, Nabal's wife, hears about Nabal's refusal and sets about to make a gift of food and provision for David.  She had her household prepared for the shearing season and the food needed to feed all the men shearing the sheep.  Abigail was able to easily gather the following -

1 Samuel 25 -
18 Then Abigail made haste and took two hundred loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five sheep already dressed, five seats of roasted grain, one hundred clusters of raisins, and two hundred cakes of figs, and loaded them on donkeys.

Because she had her home in order, and because of her wise heart, she was able to keep their household from disaster.  Her work in her home was important for the saving of the household, literally!

Be encouraged, friends, that the work of home keeping, and raising your families is of great worth.  The pay may not be great but the rewards are eternal.

I rearranged my sitting room space in the master bedroom.  It is a really good set up for this space and I am enjoying it very much.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Trim Healthy Mama: Weight Loss Update

Drum roll, please………

Today, I hit 40 pounds lost!  Woo Hoo!

This is a milestone for me.  I'm so thankful.

My last update was two months ago.  8 pounds in two months.  In my mind, that's slow weight loss.  For the last two weeks, the scale hasn't really moved, I've been hovering at 37 pounds lost.

I kept reading about the plan, and checking to make sure I was not doing crossovers.  I then read an article by a Trim Healthy Mama gal who had met her goal weight.  She mentioned a few things that could slow your weight loss.  I made a few changes. 

The first is that I started to eat more.  Yes, you heard that right!  I realized that I needed to eat more and add some snacks to get my metabolism burning!  So, I've been doing that.  The other thing I did was buy some Milk Thistle (Silymarin) for liver support.  Your liver processes all the fat that is in your body, not just the fat you eat.  It sometimes needs help so it doesn't get stressed.

I just said to my Mom yesterday, sometimes I can't even tell if I've lost any weight.  She said, "Oh, yes, you have!"  I think this was because I haven't dropped many clothing sizes.  Some gals lose 10 pounds but drop 4 sizes in clothes.  I am continually learning to not compare!

Okay so here in my progression in photos, I'm wearing the same sweater in all of them.

 Maybe 7 months before starting THM

 At 15 weeks on THM I'd lost 27 pounds.

This morning 30 weeks on plan.  40 pounds lost.

I don't know if I'll keep using this sweater.  I have it pulled back at the waist so you can see that I actually have one - the sweater is pretty baggy on me.  You can see it bunched up in the front, too.

A huge blessing to me is that a lot of friends and family have seen what's happening to me and are now doing the plan.  It is helping so many people.  My mom was having to see a risk specialist at her heart doctor's office and after her blood work and visit last week, the specialist said, "You don't need to see me anymore!"  Her numbers were all great!  Mom said that she talked about this eating plan with the specialist and it is really so close to how they want her (with some blockage in an artery) to eat!  

I am giving thanks to God for this whole plan!  It works, I am thankful to Him for the changes that it has made in my life!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Home Keeping: Canning Jars

Many of you know of my love for canning jars.  Yesterday while I was out I came across the purple Ball canning jars!  They are so pretty!

These jars don't go with my decor or any of my dishes, but they are very pretty!  I will likely use them not only for drinking, but as vases for spring and summer flower bouquets.
I like collecting something that I can use in my every day life.  

Monday, March 23, 2015

Monday Morning Ponderings

I've been reading a Young Adult fiction series.  It's really good.  It has caused me to do a lot of thinking about courage, fear, and trusting God.  I am going to do a longer post on it this week.

It's called The River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren.


I have been thinking about how God wants us to pray for our leaders so that we can lead quiet and peaceable lives in the land. (1Timothy 2)  I don't really do that much at all.  I tend to get irritated and angry about the choices that our leadership is making.  I do believe that God would have us pray, and then I believe He wants us to go about our daily lives, reaching out to our neighbors, loving one another, being kind, helping the poor.  We can trust Him for all the rest.


Easter is two weeks away.  I am thankful for what Easter means.  Hope, Love, Joy, Forgiveness, because of the Resurrection.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Happy Spring!

After a beautiful week of sunshine and blue sky, this is what greeted us this morning.

March came in like a lion and is going out like one too.  However, it is not laying on the roadways.  They are only wet.

Spring is here, though, and we are very happy about that!  I brought home a few spring plants to brighten things up around here.

 I go to our local orchard's market for apples and because I spent a certain dollar amount I got to pick a free spring plant!  They were only $2.50 anyway, so I bought two more!  After they die back I can plant them in my garden!  

I have them on the table in their paper wrappers still but I think I will use my wooden trough and make a centerpiece with them in it.

 I love the deep color of these crocus.

 The mini daffy's are so sweet!

 My Mother Fern ( I got on our anniversary, you can read about that here) is growing so well, I had to repot it already!

 Last night, my Mom, Rachel and I went to Hershey to see Chris Tomlin's Love Ran Red tour!  It was great!

We had really good seats straight in across from the front of the stage.  Here's a photo so you can see where we were sitting.
 A band from Northern Ireland called Rend Collective played first. They had a great celtic feel to their music!  They like to call themselves a worship or celebration band.  I thought their lyrics were so good.  All three groups - 10th Avenue North played as well, had mature lyrics to their songs and real truth about God.  I like that.

They highlighted a ministry, called Cure, last night.  They are doing great things for kids around the world.  Check them out at

So how did you celebrate the first day of spring?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Home Keeping: I Moved A Few Things

It all started on Saturday when I wanted to clean a bit in the kitchen.  I pulled everything off the counters and sprayed and wiped them down, Sarah dusted the walls behind them and the bottoms of the cabinets.  

The items we keep by the stove, cooking utensils in the red crock, knives in the knife block, salt and pepper all went back where they had been.  So did the jars of flour, brown rice and oatmeal.

But I decided to move the drink station.  I felt like it was so crowded.  So we moved the brew station and the electric kettle, and we moved the basket of teas.  

I was going to then move the plate rack under the cupboard where the drink station had been set up, but it was too tall.  Hmmm, what to do?

I decided to move my Ninja from the red shelves in the corner of the kitchen, to counter where the drink station had been and move the plate rack there.  So far it's working just fine, and the counter between the fridge and mostly clear.  It makes it nice for doing dishes now.

This then lead to me deciding to move my china hutch to the other wall in the living room.  

I like it and sometimes, it's just about making the change and trying something new.

Do you do this at your house?

Now to decide what to do with this area.  This is where the hutch was previously.  I have ideas, oh, yes I do!  We'll just see what we actually do!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Movie Review: Cinderella And How God Takes Care Of Us

The kids and I went to see Cinderella on Saturday.  I was intrigued by the trailer for the movie,  Lily James (Lady Rose in Downton Abbey) as Cinderella, and a few reviews by friends who LOVED the movie.

My verdict and the verdict of my girls?  We LOVED it, too,  here's why.

It is beautifully filmed.  The house that Cinderella grows up in is so beautiful - full of beautiful things, maps, a glass swan chandelier, gorgeous walls.  We see Cinderella and both of her parents.  When she is 10 her mother suddenly becomes ill and before she dies she tells Cinderella that two things will help her in every situation she may find herself in during her life.  The first is to have Courage and the second is to Be Kind.

Young Ella takes these two lessons to heart, and applies them all through her life.  Her father remarries, and her stepmother arrives with her two daughters, Drucilla and Anastasia.  Drucilla is played by Sophie McShera, who plays Daisy in Downton Abby.  They are more comical, though they don't think much of Ella and after a night of sleeping by the fire to stay warm, they begin to call her Cinderella. Her stepmother is played by Cate Blanchett.

 They think highly of themselves, and feel Cinderella with her romantic way of seeing life, is hopelessly old fashioned.  The stepmother is more manipulative than cruel, and because she has debt from her first marriage she is eager to see one of her girls marry the prince.

Ella meets the prince in the woods one day while horseback riding, and he passes himself off as an apprentice, not a prince.  She shares with him the idea of having courage and being kind.  He is quite taken with her.

His relationship with his father is a beautiful one.  They love each other and his father is very ill and on his deathbed tells him to marry the girl he loves, rather than a princess from another country.  The son curls up on the bed next to his father and weeps. I loved that they showed them really have a wonderful relationship.

I could go on and on but I'll end with this.  When the prince puts the glass slipper on Cinderella's foot and they are heading out the door, Cinderella turns and says to the step mother without any malice, "I forgive you."  And then goes off with her prince to marry and live happily every after.

I really liked the message of not feeling sorry for oneself and of having courage in hard things, and choosing to see beauty and love, in spite of circumstances.  I loved the freely given forgiveness.

Go see it even if you don't have any kids to take with you, I think you'll like it very much!

Yesterday, was a windy day here.  It caused some havoc with our horse pasture fence and while we were at church the horses got out.  Kind neighbors worked hard to get them back in and made sure they couldn't get out again.  We came home to an area of fence that was completely down as well as 3 fence posts.  This is due to old posts, windy conditions and water saturated ground. 

We also came home to a very flat tire on Tim's truck.  It had lots of small holes in it and he found a tack in one, so he is certain that when he was out doing errands on Saturday he ran over some tacks.  He was able to fix it and its just fine now.  Good thing, too, as Monday, while were were out, our vans transmission stopped working.  It seems to be a cellinoid as it would go again after being turned off - like it was able to reset itself for a brief time.  Thankfully we were able to get were we were headed and also get a ride home.   Thanks, Dad!

Tim worked his first work day at his new job, Monday.  We are praising the Lord for His watchful care of us, in all these crazy situations from the weekend, and today.  He KNOWS the why of it all, and will provide everything we need.  So thankful for this wonderful Friend, to whom we can take every need!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to ye all!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Rainy Saturday

It started raining last evening, and had continued this morning.  It looks as if it has stopped for the moment.

It's the perfect day for doing some spring cleaning in the kitchen.  For me today, this means clearing the counters off and thoroughly washing the countertops and wiping everything down.  Then the fun of arranging them - will they go back in the spots that they've been in or will we put them somewhere else?  I like to try new things, so I think we'll be changing it up in the kitchen!

Rachel is making bread for communion tomorrow, and I am repotting my Mother Fern.  Tim and Kyle are off buying some tools that time will need for his job.

I'm going to be putting an apron on as soon as I am done with this post.  I'll turn on my bluetooth speaker and play some good music while we get busy in the kitchen.

Later we are going to see Cinderella.  

What are you up to today?

Friday, March 13, 2015

One Week

It's one week until SPRING, but the signs are everywhere.

Even though the grasses are brown, and the trees are still barren, we live in such a beautiful place.

The starlings are visiting our neighborhood this morning.  You can see them in the side yard of our property.

We have yet to see what March will do but we have the hope of spring now!

How does it look where you live?  I know our 'down under' friends are moving into Autumn.  

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Polish Pottery

We are big pottery fans here at the cottage.  We love buying handmade pieces.  We have a pottery in our area that we really love.  It's just that we found that, too often, they broke easily.  We just couldn't keep paying to replace them.

One day I was shopping at my local Christmas Tree Shops and found that they carry Polish Pottery.  It's beautiful and it is made in Poland - they come with official stickers.  The colors and patterns are so pretty and at CTS the mugs are only $5.99.  Amazing.

I love the cobalt blue on these.  

As my friend jAne says, 

"Life's too short to drink from an ugly cup!"

I could me becoming a collector of these pieces.  What about you?  Do you like Polish Pottery?  Do you collect dishes?  What do you collect?

Information Friday, On Saturday

  Well, I was all set to do a post yesterday, but I had trouble uploading my photos. I really thought I'd get it done in the evening, bu...