Thursday, March 23, 2017

Grace at Home No. 242


Hello and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.

Here are some links from last week's party I thought you'd enjoy. Springtime is finally here, so I was especially inspired to see lots of outdoor projects.

Shannon from Belle Bleu Interiors is on top of her springtime decorating game. Check out the way she decorated her front porch for spring. She even provides a step-by-step tutorial for making that beautiful swag.

Ash from Just Measuring Up showed us how he made a picnic table in one day–for less than $200! What an awesome project.


Tarah from Grandma's House DIY showed us how to build an outdoor grill station. This is brilliant!


Tehila at Women Abiding shared some compelling thoughts on three phrases we use all the time–but really need to change!


As for me, I've been slowly (VERY slowly) easing into springtime. I like to start with my front porch, and I shared one of my best tricks for transitioning a space from one season to another.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Easing into springtime


We've had a teaser of a spring in North Carolina. She appeared really early, only to be replaced with brutal winter just as the flowering trees were at their peak. But now she's back, and it looks like she's here to stay!

The warmer temperatures and longer days make me want to hang out on our front porch again. I updated it last spring, and here's its warm-weather look:


I changed it for Autumn simply by switching out accessories:


And again for Christmastime:


When I updated the porch last spring, I chose a neutral fabric for the loveseat and chair cushions. I'm so glad I made that decision! I think the neutral fabric works well with all the different looks. (Read this post to see why I'd highly recommend Sunbrella fabric–I have no affiliation with the company; I just think the product is exceptional.)

Now that it's time to decorate for spring once again, I'd like to show you one of my household tricks.

Last fall, I stitched up new covers for the outdoor pillows using this easy method and simply put them right on top of my spring pillows. I'm pretty good at sewing straight seams, but I'm not very good at hand-sewing the pillow closures. Instead, I use a glue gun to finish the pillows. So now that I'm ready for spring again, the metamorphosis of the pillows is as easy as 1-2-3:

1.

2.

3.

Most of my pillow covers opened up with a firm pull. One was a little stubborn, so I just warmed the glue with a hair dryer until it pulled open easily.

Now I can just fold up the autumn covers and store them until October. It's time to make lemonade and enjoy the long evenings on the porch!

Do you have any decorating tricks for easing from season to season? I'd love to hear!

Joining these fun parties:

Thoughts of Home on Thursday

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Grace at Home No. 241


Welcome, friends! Can you believe it's already the middle of March? The frigid temps have reminded me that spring is not officially here yet, that's for sure. But I'm glad you're here for the Grace at Home party.

Here are some links from last week that I thought you'd enjoy.

Penny from Penny's Vintage Home always wows us with her beautiful, Victorian-inspired spaces. This week she shared her updated laundry room. Even this space is in keeping with her lovely home!


Kathryn from The Dedicated House just moved into a new house. Here she shows us all the spaces in her old house and includes lots of tips for staging a home to sell. Here's one of my favorite spots in her home.



Debbie from Debbie-Dabble inspires me with the way she decorates for each holiday. St. Patrick's Day is no exception. Check out this fun display!


Ronja from Abounding Grace shared a beautiful, inspiring story about how children can encourage our faith.

As for me, I shared a super-easy recipe for making pie crust. Seriously, this crust is delicious and SO easy to make! (On Pi Day, I made this yummy quiche for dinner; you can find that recipe in the same post.)






Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Easy-to-make delicious pie crust


Today is Pi Day. In case you've forgotten your math classes, pi is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.

When I was studying math, pi was usually expressed as 22/7: that was back when we did our calculations by hand rather than with a calculator. Pi is 3 and 1/7. Now that calculators and computers do the math for us, pi is usually thought of as 3.141592, or 3.14 for short.

I've read that Pi Day was first celebrated back in 1988, but I'm not certain of that. I imagine that math students have thought of March 14 as Pi Day for many years. For certain, though, the idea of people across the country celebrating a number is a fairly recent development.


What's more important to me is that Pi Day is a perfect time to make a pie, which is one of my favorite things to do. I have a confession, though: until recently, I never made my own pie crust.
My mom was a proponent of Pillsbury's All Ready pie crusts, and I inherited from her a love of their convenience. It just didn't make sense to me to go to all the trouble of making a homemade crust.

I can now say with complete confidence that I was wrong: partly because homemade crust really is much tastier than pre-made crust, and partly because making homemade crust is MUCH easier than I ever thought it could be. 

The secret weapon? My food processor. Pie crust purists might scoff, but trust me: this works.

Here's the recipe I've developed for making a delicious pie crust with my food processor. I hope you enjoy it!

Food Processor Pie Crust
(Single crust recipe)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons butter, cut into cubes (I always use salted butter, but your choice is fine)
4 Tablespoons (1/4 cup) shortening, cut into small pieces
3-4 Tablespoons ice water

Directions

Chill the butter and shortening. I like to cut the butter and shortening into cubes and place in the freezer for a while so that the cubes are very cold.

Place flour and salt in food processor with regular blade attached. Pulse a few times to incorporate salt throughout the flour.

Add chilled butter and shortening to food processor. Pulse a few times, holding down the pulse button for a couple of seconds per pulse, just until the butter and shortening are mixed with the flour enough that the mix resembles coarse crumbs.

Then, with the food processor running, pour the ice water into the bowl. Start with just 3 Tablespoons of water, adding a bit more if needed. All you need is for the dry mixture to become damp enough to stick together a bit. You don't want it to form a big clump. (Resist the temptation to add more water!)

Dump the mixture onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Gather the corners of the plastic wrap and press on the outside just enough to form the dough into a ball. You can refrigerate the dough for a bit if you like.

Tear off two sheets of wax paper about 15 inches long each. Place your dough ball between sheets of wax paper and roll out to your preferred size. 



Y'all, this whole process takes just a few minutes, and the resultant crust is light, flaky, and oh so tasty. 



And if you want to turn your delicious crust into dinner, try this super-easy quiche recipe:

Ingredients

Unbaked pie shell
6 whole eggs
1 1/2 cups cheese, grated (I like half cheddar and half Swiss or Gruyere)
3/4 cup cup milk or cream
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
salt and pepper to taste
bacon, ham, or sausage, or any combination thereof

Directions


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 


Cook meat of your choice and drain fat. Cut or crumble into small pieces.


Beat eggs with baking powder. Add milk; mix well. Stir in grated cheese and meat.Pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until toothpick insert in center comes out fairly clean. Do not overbake--the quiche will continue to cook some from residual heat after you remove it from the oven.

Have any pie favorites? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Grace at Home No. 240


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party! I'm so honored that you are here.

Here are some links from last week's party that I thought you'd enjoy.

Marty from A Stroll Thru Life turned a plain Jane office chair into a beauty--for just a few dollars and a little elbow grease! Read her post for the step-by-step instructions.


Rebecca from Mary and Martha's House shared some thoughts about keeping a "hospitality pantry" as well as a recipe for a cheese ball that can be prepared three different ways. Yum!


Christina from Penny Wise shared an easy recipe for Irish Soda Bread–just in time for St. Patrick's Day!


As for me, I've been pondering why we need the season of Lent. I'd love to know what you think.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Why we need the season of Lent


The season of Lent officially began with Ash Wednesday.

But I don't attend a liturgical church, and we don't have an Ash Wednesday service. My faith upbringing was non-liturgical–even anti-liturgical, if there is such a thing–so my thoughts don't naturally turn to Lent.


As I've gotten older, I've grown to appreciate the various observances of the "church calendar," although I still wince a little bit at that term. To put it very simply, this calendar arranges itself around events in the life of Jesus. So the year begins with Advent, the season leading to the birth of Christ. Then comes Christmas on December 25, then Epiphany, which is a celebration of the manifestation of Jesus as the son of God.

We have no record of the actual dates for any of these celebrations. The Bible doesn't tell us the date that Jesus was born to Mary. The earliest records we have that the birth of Jesus was celebrated on December 25 was the year 336, when Constantine was emperor. But the birth of Jesus is certainly an event worth celebrating, isn't it?

After Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany comes the beginning of "Ordinary Time." Until fairly recently, I had no idea what that term meant. Contemporary English speakers usually think of "ordinary" as meaning routine or nothing special. Our word ordinary is derived from the Latin word ordinarius, which means customary or usual. The root of ordinarius is ordo, which means series or arrangement. It's easy to understand that our English word order comes from this root, and it might be helpful to think of "Ordinary Time" as "Orderly Time," which is another way of saying "counted time." These are days when there's no particular holiday, so in that sense I guess they're "ordinary" in as we usually understand that word. But these are most of the days of our lives, so we do well to mark them, to understand that they're important.

Ordinary Time is interrupted by the most important season of all: that of the death of Christ on the cross and his resurrection from the grave. This is the one time we can mark with some certainty, although it doesn't occur on the same date every year. The Bible tells us that Jesus and his followers went to Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, the Jewish celebration commemorating the exodus from Egypt. This was the time when the enemies of Jesus demanded his crucifixion. Passover is still celebrated by Jews, so the dates of everything on the Christian calendar related to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus derive from the date of Passover.

And that brings us to Lent. Lent is the season of the 40 days (not including Sundays) that lead up to Easter. The Lenten season begins with Ash Wednesday, a day on which some Christians may participate in a service that involves having ashes placed upon their foreheads in the form of a cross. That imposition of ashes upon one's head is symbolic, of course, but what a powerful symbol! With the placing of ashes on one's head may come the entreaty: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you will return," echoing God's words to Adam in Genesis 3:19, or "Repent and believe in the Gospel." 

The word "gospel" is important. Its literal meaning is "good news": the word gospel is derived from Old English god (good) + spel (story or news). The very best news of all time is that God loves us, so much that Jesus came to earth to give his life for us. The Gospel accounts in the Bible (the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell us that Jesus went everywhere announcing the Kingdom of God. "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," Jesus said (see Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15). I love the way my friend Dallas Willard summed up the message of Jesus: "Re-think how you're living your life in light of the opportunity to live in God's Kingdom today and forever."

How do we avail ourselves of the opportunity to live in God's Kingdom? By putting our confidence in Jesus. We trust that our sins are forgiven because of his death of the cross. We trust that what he taught was true. We trust that the way of living he explained and exemplified is the best way to live. 

And we remember that we are dust. Just a short time of trying to live like Jesus will demonstrate to us that this task is beyond our human abilities. So we trust the strength to become more like Jesus will be supplied not by our own power but by the grace of God.

We welcome the days leading up to Good Friday and Easter as days to ground ourselves once again in the truth that we are in need of what only God can provide. 



As a symbol of penitence or an aid to thinking of our need for a savior, some Christians mark the season of Lent by some form of fasting or self-denial. You might hear of what a Christian has "given up" for Lent. 

My favorite suggestions of what to give up for Lent came from the mother of a dear friend of mine. Like me, this lady came from a non-liturgical church background. She first learned of Lent in her late 80's, and here are her suggestions of what to give up for Lent:

  1. Give up grumbling. Instead, in everything give thanks.
  2. Give up 10-15 minutes in bed. Instead, use that time in prayer.
  3. Give up looking at people's worst points. Instead, concentrate on their best ones.
  4. Give up judging by appearance and by the standards of the world. Instead, learn to give up yourselves to God.
Aren't those wonderful? Yet even these simple things I can only accomplish with help from God. 

So I am once again brought to my knees in gratitude for the good news. I don't just believe the gospel; I am thrown upon it. 

And in these weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter, that's a good place to be.

I'm joining Jennifer Dukes Lee for Tell His Story.


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