Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grace at Home No. 52


Would you just look at the title of this post?  Grace at Home No. 52?!  That's right.  I've been counting. We've been meeting here for this little weekly party for a full year.  How amazing that the first anniversary of this party would occur during Holy Week!

You know, I received some advice not long after I'd started this party.  I was told that the blogging community really didn't need another weekly party, but if this topic was really important to me, I should go ahead with it--not to be "successful," but because it was important to me.

To be honest, that was good advice.  This weekly party certainly has not made my blog "successful."  It doesn't generate all the things that bloggers might want from a weekly party.  It hasn't brought me increased page views or increased revenues.

But you know what it has done?  It has introduced me to some new friends.  It has introduced some of you to one another.  It has encouraged some bloggers to keep going.  It has provided a place for some really good work to be showcased, even if only on a small scale.

And it's helped me to stop and remember that grace is worth celebrating.  Grace is God's work in our lives.  We are the blessed recipients of God's amazing gifts, and we are privileged to reflect that in our own lives.

So here we are, right in the middle of our contemplations of God's greatest gift.  A fitting time to stop and celebrate grace, don't you think?

Here are a few of my favorites from last week's party:

From Embellishments by SLR, wonderful ideas for a spring breakfast table


From The Ferrell Boys and Me, lots of ideas for Easter activities with children

From Rosemary Thyme, a recipe for a scrumptious-looking Orange Sour Cream Pound Cake:


From Debbie-Dabble, lots of sweet Easter decor


From Carmen at Chairs from the Curb, a thought-provoking post about being in the presence of God
And from Nicki at Happiness Diaries: an encouraging post about being cranky--and getting another chance




Those are just a few of my favorites!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured this week (or in a previous week), feel free to grab the "I was featured" button from my sidebar.  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.  Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page, and please take a moment to include a link back to this party in your post.  And please visit a couple of the other party participants--link parties are great ways to find new friends!


Monday, March 25, 2013

For your holiday meal: Simple holiday salad


Can you believe that Easter is next Sunday?  This important date really sneaked up on me this year!

If you're like me, planning for a holiday includes planning a special meal.  I like super-easy side dish recipes that taste wonderful but don't require a lot of time to prepare.  This salad definitely fits the bill!



My mom always called this dish "Five Cup Salad."  Some of my guests over the years have called it ambrosia.  A sweet little girl who shares many of our holiday meals calls it "Marshmallow Salad."  Whatever it's called, it's the easiest side-dish recipe I know.  I make it for every holiday meal, so I'm calling it "Holiday Salad."

Holiday Salad

1 cup pineapple tidbits (small can, drained)
1 cup mandarin orange slices (small can, drained)
1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I use Baker's Angel Flake)
8 ounces sour cream
Stir ingredients together.  Chill and serve.
It doesn't get much simpler than that--and the results are absolutely delicious!

Is there a dish you make for every holiday meal?  Please share!

 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday


On this day and on every day:


Oh, Lord, give us eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to recognize Jesus for who He is.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Grace at Home No. 51


Welcome to the weekly Grace at Home party, where we pause to celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace.  I am so grateful for the community is forming through this little party!  I've been blessed by so many people who shared their hearts here!

Here are a few of my favorites from last week's party.

Kathy at Miss Grace-Filled Life wrote a beautifully inspiring and truly helpful post called Breaking the Power of Hurtful Words.   This post truly ministered to me; I think it'll do the same for you.



Gretchen at New Every Morning also touched me deeply with her post, When Being the Life of the Party Becomes Lonely.


Other posts that really caught my eye last week provided beautiful inspiration for springtime and Easter preparation!  Check these out:

Diane from An Extraordinary Day created a darling Easter egg wreath and shares a tutorial for making your own:

An Easter Welcome :: Pastel Eggs & Burlap Grapevine Easter Wreath :: AnExtraordinaryDay.net
Denise from Denise in Bloom made this beautiful spring blossom tree and teaches you to make your own for less than $10.00 and an hour's time:
spring blossom arrangement
Precious Shelia from Note Songs fashioned a lovely spring mantelscape and shares every element with us.  She also shares a beautiful hymn that'll put a song in your heart!

Those are just a few of my favorites!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured this week (or in a previous week), feel free to grab the "I was featured" button from my sidebar.  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.  Please take a moment to include a link back to this party in your post--that will be a great help to me!  And please visit a couple of the other party participants--link parties are great ways to find new friends!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

An important question


"What can I do? What can I do?"  That phrase ran 'round and 'round in my head as I pondered what I should be writing about.  Other phrases followed soon after:  "What gets tweeted?  What gets shared on Facebook?  What gets pinned?  What sells??"

Because, after all, that's what this is all about, isn't it?  We all want to be affirmed for our efforts.  We want to be appreciated for our contributions.  We want to be paid for our  work.  And there's nothing wrong with that.

But if the filter I'm applying to everything I'm doing here is whether it will sell, it may be time to change filters.



Honestly, I want to do work that will be valued.  In the world of buying and selling, it's easy to focus only on the market value of things.  In general, market value is based on the law of supply and demand.  The greater the demand for a product or service, the more resources people will trade to obtain that product or service.  It's a simple concept, really;  an item is valuable not because of its existence, but because people are willing to pay to obtain it.

But market value isn't the only kind of value.  Some things are valuable in and of themselves.  That's called intrinsic value.  Those things might not be marketable, but they're very valuable.  Many of the most important qualities of our lives really can't be measured in market value.  Thanks to the Beatles, we all know that money "can't buy me love."  But love is not the only thing money can't buy.  It can't buy peace.  Or joy.  Or goodness.  Or faithfulness.  If we have to sacrifice things of intrinsic value in order to obtain things of market value, we're making a bad trade.

To tell the truth, I'd be delighted to have commercial success.  I'd love for one of my posts to be shared thousands of times.  I'd love for one of my pins to go viral.  Who wouldn't?  There's certainly nothing wrong with that.  It's great to have that as a goal.  But there's something else to which I need to be more dedicated than to reaching my goals.   I need to fulfill my calling.  A calling comes from God: it's that work that God has in mind for us to do, that particular way we are called to serve, that special work in which we can both glorify God and serve people.

Now, some people are called to work that provides financial reward, and then they are called to glorify God with those resources.  I know a number of people like this, and they are such a wonderful example to me.  I praise God for their faithfulness.  But if I'm completely honest, I'll admit that it's easy for me to become a little jealous of their success--and that's not good.  I need to steer clear of that territory.

The bottom line for me is this:  If I can reach my goals within the context of fulfilling my calling, that'll be great.  If I have to sacrifice my calling in order to reach my goals, then my goals need to change.  I'm the kind of person who needs to stop periodically and assess how I'm doing with this.

Having a blog is part of my calling, I believe.  And within the context of blogging, my calling here is to impart grace--to reflect the love and goodness and generosity of God in everything I do.  That might not sell very well, but it's still my calling.

Is this something you think about?  What's your calling?

**I'm joining Amanda at Serenity Now for Weekend Bloggy Reading.**


Friday, March 15, 2013

Something I needed to read


My dear friends, I had grand intentions of writing a beautiful post for today--something that would make you so glad you'd visited here!  Alas, that didn't happen.  Instead, things like this happened:


Now, that's not my beautiful lamp.  It belongs to my friend Marian, better known as "Scooper" at a la Mode.  Marian wrote exactly the post that I needed to read today--a reminder of what's what, a post to help me keep my head screwed on straight.  A post called "Making Friends with Mess."

I'm guessing some of you might need to read it, too.  You'll be blessed by it, I promise.  Go on over and tell Marian her messy friend Richella sent you.




Thursday, March 14, 2013

Grace at Home No. 50


Welcome to the Grace at Home party!  I am thankful for this time to pause, give thanks for the grace God gives to us, and celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace--for our families, for our friends and neighbors, and for ourselves!  


Here are a few of my favorites from last week's party.

Sue at Ordinary Miracles gave us a tour of her living room.  Sue's home is so lovely, just like her spirit!


Gretchen at New Every Morning showed us some fun updates to her gorgeous farmhouse kitchen.  If you're looking for kitchen inspiration, you'll love this!


Shelley at Calypso in the Country created a spring vignette with a beautiful new lamp from Target.  I especially liked the way she showed four different looks she tried on the way to choosing a favorite.  Check it out!








There were some yummy-looking recipes linked up last week, too, like this Buttermilk Breakfast Cake from Moni at Zuhaus at Home. Cake for breakfast?? Yes, please!

Buttermilk Breakfast Cake


And here's a favorite of mine: an easy way to make perfect fried potatoes from Lil at Cottage Sweet Cottage.  I'm going to try this tip!



Those are just a few of my favorites!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured this week (or in a previous week), feel free to grab the "I was featured" button from my sidebar.  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.  Please take a moment to include a link back to this party in your post--that will be a great help to me!  And please visit a couple of the other party participants--link parties are great ways to find new friends!


Monday, March 11, 2013

How to make a beautiful bird's nest
for just a few pennies


Spring is in the air!  Here in North Carolina, the daffodils are in full bloom.  Although it was hard to get out of bed in the darkness this morning, it's wonderful to have long, light evenings again.  

I'm ready now to add a little spring to my decor.  I wanted a bird's nest for the lamp table on my front porch, so I made one.  It's so simple and so inexpensive!



I started with a couple of items from the dollar store: a coconut planter liner and a bag of loose moss.



I used a small bowl as a form.


I simply turned the bowl upside down my work surface, tore off a hunk of the coconut liner, and shaped the liner around the inverted bowl.   The coconut liner material sticks together easily.  You'd never know there was a bowl under there, would you?


When I turned it right side up, it looked like this:


Then I shaped and formed the nest a bit more, trimmed off some of the excess, and added some moss to make the nest look a bit more natural.



A couple of robin's eggs completed the project.


I also made a smaller, deeper nest to hold a single egg:


Making both these nests took me less than 10 minutes.  I reckon I can make at least half a dozen nests from one coconut liner and one bag of moss.  That would be 33 cents per nest!  I think I'll make several to decorate Easter lunch tables at church.

For now, I like the way my nest adds a bit of spring to the front porch.


What do you think?  Could you use a bird's nest in your spring decor?

I'm joining Beth at Home Stories A to Z for Tips and Tutorials
Marty at A Stroll Thru Life for Tabletop Tuesday
"The Scoop" ladies for the Mega Spring Linky Party

Friday, March 8, 2013

My book is available now:
A Spiritual Formation Primer


My dear friends, this is a big day for me.  I'm so excited to share with y'all the news that my book, A Spiritual Formation Primer, is now available!


Here's the description from the Renovaré:

Written by Renovaré Ministry Team and Board member Richella Parham, A Spiritual Formation Primer is a valuable resource that answers the question being asked by many today: "What is Spiritual Formation?" Richella clearly lays out the basics of Christian spiritual formation and does so in a cheerful and winsome way.  This highly approachable volume inspires its reader that transformation into the image of Jesus Christ is available, possible, and awaiting every believer who seeks it.

Some of the topics included in this book are:
  • defining Spiritual Formation
  • the centrality of Christ
  • God's grace
  • life in the kingdom of God
  • the process of change
  • the spiritual disciplines
  • the communion of saints
  • the fellowship of believers
  • resources for renewal
A Spiritual Formation Primer is perfect for new believers who want to dig deeper into Life with God.  It is also an excellent resource for personal and/or small group study as well as a “must have” for any ministerial leadership team.

I'm donating all the proceeds from the sale of this book to Renovaré.  Renovaré is a community of Christians seeking continual spiritual renewal in Christ. Founded in 1988 by Celebration of Discipline author Richard J. Foster, Renovaré (a Latin word meaning “to be renewed”) promotes personal and spiritual renewal. We are convinced that all people can enjoy a closer walk with Jesus, leading to a more vibrant and fulfilling Christlike life.  You can read more about the ministry on its website, www.renovare.org.

My book is available in as a PDF download or in a soft-cover paper version.  Click here to learn more.

Update:  Now there's a new edition of A Spiritual Formation Primer, expanded to include additional information and notes for study and discussion!  Here's how my book looks now:


The updates make it a more valuable resource, and I'm so happy to share it with you.

Thank you, friends, for supporting me and for being excited along with me.  Let me know if you have any questions!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grace at Home No. 50


Welcome to the Grace at Home party!  Here we are in March, which has come in like a lamb here in North Carolina.  Whatever the weather,  I'm glad for this time to pause, give thanks for the grace God gives to us, and celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace--for our families, for our friends and neighbors, and for ourselves!  


Here are a few of my favorites from last week's party.

First, a couple of posts to feed your spirit!

Becky Kopitzke writes wonderful devotionals at Time Out.  Her post "Why We Didn't Quit Ballet" is a great one.

Time Out: Devotions for Moms by Becky Kopitzke


My sweet friend Kathy from Miss Grace-Filled Life extended a kindness to a young woman for whom she felt great empathy.  That young woman just happened to be a princess.  Read Kathy's post to see what was inside this envelope!


St. Patrick's Day is fast approaching, and a couple of great St. Paddy's ideas were linked up last week.

Amanda from Amanda Jane Brown made this wonderful shamrock door hanger.  Isn't it the cutest thing?

Shamrock Door Hanger 5

Shannon from A Cozy Place Called Home created this adorable hanging sign using a free graphic from The Graphics Fairy.  



Of course, Easter is coming soon after St. Patrick's Day this year, so we're starting to see some great Easter decor.  I love these eggs that look like carrots made by Paula from Sweet Pea.

Carrot Eggs for Easter

One of the most clever DIY ideas I've seen in a while was linked up by Marty from Marty's Musings.  Check out her backsplash made from old fence boards!

Fence Board Backsplash from Marty's Musings

Don't you just want to get into that kitchen and cook?  And if you're looking for something yummy to make, I'll bet this Beefy Tortellini Soup from Our Southern Home would just fill the bill.  Doesn't this look delicious?



Those are just a few of my favorites!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured this week (or in a previous week), feel free to grab the "I was featured" button from my sidebar.  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.  Please take a moment to include a link back to this party in your post--that will be a great help to me!  And please visit a couple of the other party participants--link parties are great ways to find new friends!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Best Banana Bread



Mmmmmm.  Makes me hungry just to look at the photo!

My banana bread recipe came from my grandmother.  She was one amazing lady and an absolutely incredible cook.  With her recipes in my recipe box, I feel invincible in the kitchen!

When bananas get to this stage, it's time to make bread.  Peel the bananas and mash with a fork (or let your food processor or blender mash them for you).  If you don't have time to bake, throw the bananas (peels and all) into the freezer.  When you're ready to use them, just thaw and smush the banana goop right out into your batter.  You won't even need to mash them.



Here's my grandmother's unbeatable banana bread recipe.  

Grandma's Banana Bread

1 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ripe bananas, mashed
2 cups walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray.  

Spread nuts onto a baking sheet.  Toast in oven for a few minutes.  (This brings out the flavor of the nuts and makes them especially yummy in the bread.)  Chop nuts and set aside.

Mix together oil, sugar, and salt.  Add eggs, flour, baking soda, vanilla extract, mashed bananas.  Mix thoroughly.  Stir in nuts.   Pour batter evenly into loaf pans.  Set timer according to the size of your loaf pans--45 minutes for large pans, 40 minutes for medium pans, or 35 minutes for mini pans.  After time has elapsed, test bread by inserting a toothpick into each loaf.  Bread is done when toothpick comes out clean.  There may be a crumb or two on a toothpick--that's fine.  You just don't want any goop on the toothpick.  If needed, continue baking in small increments, checking for doneness every couple of minutes.  DO NOT overbake.  When fully baked, remove from oven.  Cool in pans for a few minutes, then remove from pans and cool on a wire rack.  Makes two large, four medium, or six mini loaves.  Recipe may be halved.  Bread freezes beautifully.

Click here for a printable copy.

What's your favorite thing to bake?


Monday, March 4, 2013

Thrifty tip for home decor


Last week I dropped off some donations at Goodwill, then popped into the store for a quick look around.  There wasn't much to see, but I did find two of these for $1.29 each:


Not the most beautiful pillows, but very well-made, and guess what was inside?



Wonderful goosedown inserts!  $2.58 for two!

I brought them home and popped them straight into the washing machine.  Hot water and bleach should take care of any unwanted critters. . . just in case.  Then I dried them in the dryer on high heat.

Now I have two high-quality down inserts to make new pillows--for less than the price of a bag of poly-fil.  I'm planning to make pillows for my new living room with this fabric (Scoma.519 by Kravet):


Next time you're in your local thrift store, take a quick look at the bedding!


Friday, March 1, 2013

Inspiration for March



I need this prayer every day!  How about you?