Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How to make your kitchen smell fresh


Now that spring weather has finally arrived, I find myself itching to get some spring cleaning done.  I love for my house to smell fresh!  I haven't been able to simply throw open the windows, though, because the pollen has been so thick.  So I've come up with a simple little trick for making things smell lovely.


First cut a lemon into thick slices.  Then run some water in a Pyrex measuring cup, squeeze some of  the juice from the lemon slices into the water, and then add the lemon slices themselves to the water.


Now microwave the lemon water on high until the water bubbles.  Place a bamboo chopstick in the water; breaking the surface of the liquid allows bubbles to form more easily so the water can boil without boiling over.  The steam from the lemon water will make your microwave smell fresh and clean.

Next, pour the lemon water into a small saucepan on your stovetop.  Add a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract to the mixture.  Bring the mixture just to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.  Take care that your pot doesn't boil dry!



The combination of lemon and vanilla makes the kitchen smell fresh and clean and homey--kind of like the smell of a lemon meringue pie fresh from the oven.  A lovely smell for springtime!

What's your favorite way to make your home smell fresh?

Joining my friend Roxy at Living from Glory to Glory for her Encouraging Homemakers party!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Grace at Home No. 103


Hello friends!  Welcome to the weekly Grace at Home party!

Grace at Home is a party encouraging us to pause and be thankful for the grace of God--and to celebrate the ways we make our homes reflective of that grace.  So we celebrate all the ways we make our homes beautiful, welcoming, and loving!

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

Patti from Old Things New created a lovely spring topiary--and she shares step-by-step instructions of how she did it.


Tammy from The Colored Door stitched up this adorable #5 pillow.  Isn't it great?  I may follow her instructions and make my own!

DIY painted no. pillow - the colored door

Sally from Salmagundi shared her recipe for Cowboy Caviar.  Doesn't this look delicious?


I got to thinking about the springtime glory of God's creation, so I wrote a reflection for Earth Day and every day.



Misty from Beautiful Ashes shares her wisdom about divorce--a tough topic, and she writes about it with love and grace.

being-real-divorce
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 (the code is right over in 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.  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.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

For Earth Day and every day



It's a beautiful spring day in my home state of North Carolina--the kind of day that reminds me of Psalm 19:

The heavens declare the glory of God;
The firmament shows his handiwork (Psalm 19:1, NKJV).

Beauty abounds in my own back yard

Along with the written Word of God, the Bible, another great “book” is provided to us:  the "book" of Nature. As Psalm 19 says, "the heavens declare the glory of God." This is true! Taking a real look at the creation of God can do much to fill your heart with gladness and to and drive you to your knees in praise, adoration, and gratitude. This is good for your soul.
Now, simply reading the book of Nature without ever looking at the Bible would be a mistake.  It is quite possible to elevate the goodness of God’s creation to the level of worship-worthiness; doing this is certainly not good for your soul.

But just reading the Bible without ever pausing to drink deeply of the beauty of creation and to adore the God of creation would also be a mistake. “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made” (Romans 1:20). In the words of one of my favorite poets, Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
and ev’ry common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees take off his shoes--
The rest sit ‘round it and pluck blackberries.

Azaleas in my yard afire with God 
Do you see?  Do you see goodness and grace of God in the everyday beauty that surrounds you?  All Creation sings the praises of the Creator! 


Perhaps today you would benefit from stepping outside and considering the glorious testimony to God’s goodness provided by His creation.

This is my Father’s world,
And to my listening ears
All nature sings, and ‘round me rings
The music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world!
I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world,
The birds their carols raise;
The morning light, the lily white
Declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world!
He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass, I hear him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

If you aren’t seeing that all of creation proclaims the praises of the Creator, I urge you to make space in your life to look again.  Spend time considering the wonders of creation.  Allow the order and beauty of the natural world to stun you.  Let it sink deeply into your soul.  For the same God who created all this beauty still reigns.

This is my Father’s world,
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world!
The battle is not done:
Jesus, who died, shall be satisfied
And earth and heav’n be one.

Happy Earth Day!


Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is risen!





Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne;
Hark! how the heavenly anthem drowns
All music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Through all eternity.

Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o'er the grave,
Who rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of peace,
Whose pow'r a scepter sways
From pole to pole, that wars may cease,
And all be prayer and praise.
His reign shall know no end,
And round His pierced feet
Fair flowers of paradise extend
Their fragrance ever sweet.

Crown Him the Lord of love!
Behold His hands and side:
Those wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.
All hail, Redeemer, hail!
For Thou hast died for me--
Thy praise and glory shall not fail
Throughout eternity!
Matthew Bridges and Godfrey Thring

Happy Easter!



Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday


Today is Good Friday, the day that Christians stop to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. To be honest, it's easy to want to skip right past this day and get straight to the wonder and celebration of Easter morning. I've been thinking that this desire to skip the painful and go straight to the glory may be part of the story of Good Friday.

Special thanks to Gina Luker from The Shabby Creek Cottage for the beautiful crosses!

When I was a little girl, I was always horrified to think of the people who wanted Jesus to die. And I felt sorry for them. After all, they had been waiting for many years for the Messiah, and finally the Messiah came! Why on earth would they not accept Him?

Perhaps I've been too quick to question these folks. I tend to concentrate on how Jesus performed miracles, healed the sick, and even brought the dead back to life, and I wonder how anyone could disbelieve that He was the Messiah. But lately I've been thinking that, after all, Jesus was not exactly the kind of king I would have expected, either. Especially if I'd been living under the harsh rule of foreigners who had invaded my country and taken over the government. I probably would have been looking for someone who was much more commanding and regal, someone who exhibited traits of a strong and mighty leader, someone who displayed grand rhetorical skills. I would have been looking for a take-charge kind of guy. I'm afraid that, if I'd been looking for a deliverer, I would have sought a conquering hero, not a wise and gentle teacher.

I've always pictured myself as one of the few who remained faithful to Jesus. I've seen myself as one of the women who went to the tomb on Sunday morning, you know? One of the devoted friends of Jesus.  One who always believed. Good Friday looks very different to me when I stop to realize that, if I had lived 2000 years ago, I might have been part of the angry mob.

Even as I write these words, my heart protests, "Surely not! Surely I would have known that He was the Son of God!" I'd like to believe that, and perhaps it is true. But if I'm honest with myself, I know that I am often attracted to the grand and glorious rather than to the simple and humble. The more I think about the life and teaching of Jesus, the more I think that what God really wants from me is a humble heart.

I think of the story of Jesus's life. The Son of God being born in a stable? The Son of the Almighty becoming a baby whose first bed was a feeding trough? The Son of the Most High serving as an assistant to a carpenter in a peasant village? The Son of the Creator living the life of an itinerant teacher, without even a home of his own? The Son of the Lord of all creation allowing himself to be beaten and executed like a common criminal? Seriously??

Yes. Seriously. It's all true. And He did all that out of love and mercy for people who could, if they so chose, simply scoff at the story.

But the story is more than just a tale. It's the truth. Two thousand years later, we're still telling the same sweet story of the cross. The kind and gentle Savior still invites us to humble ourselves and believe it.

This, the power of the cross--
Son of God, slain for us.
What a love! What a cost!
We stand forgiven at the cross.

Stuart Townend and Keith Getty


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Grace at Home No. 102


Hello, friends!  Welcome to the 102nd Grace at Home party!  I'm so glad you're here.

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

Do you need some last-minute ideas for setting an Easter table?  Check out these from Barb at Second Chance to Dream:



Perhaps you need a few new side dish recipes for Easter dinner.  This is from me:


Or maybe you'd just like to be inspired with a space that's been beautifully decorated for Easter.  Check out this sunroom from Diane at An Extraordinary Day:


Another lovely room caught my eye.  Maria Elena at Our Home Away from Home transformed her living room on a very small budget.



And here's a very practical tutorial for you from Marian Vischer: "The Non-Guru's Guide to a DIY Photo Shoot."

diy cam shot w text
Thanks to everyone who joined last week's party.  And many thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway celebrating the 100th Grace at Home party.  The giveaway winner is:

Entry #177, Kathy Olson!  Congratulations, Kathy!


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 (the code is right over in 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.  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.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Side dishes for your Easter dinner


Planning a special brunch or dinner for Easter?  Here are three side dish recipes that are easy to make and mouth-wateringly good!  And these are all especially good with ham, so if that's on your menu, you may want to make one or all of these!



Potato casserole is delicious for a brunch or dinner, and this recipe is a little different from the usual--and it's the best I've ever tasted!



Another dish that's a little different but absolutely scrumptious is Baked Apricots.  These will have your guests coming back for seconds--and asking for the recipe!



And if you need something that's super-easy to make and foolproof, try this five-ingredient Holiday Salad.


Do you have any holiday meal favorites?  Do you have recipes to share?

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


Easy to make and delicious recipes at ImpartingGrace.com