Calm and Comforting Holiday Hosting

Baby James is a month old today, and oh how sweet this first month has been! He is getting little rolls and nothing cold make me happier! I will be sharing his birth story soon, but I seem to be having difficulty finding enough uninterrupted time to write it : ).

We shared five simple ways to prepare for all your holiday hosting here, and since we’re all gathering in our home for Thanksgiving again, I’ve been doing a little more putzing around the house than usual. Moving a few things from room to room and picking up a couple new, inexpensive items help me savor the joy of preparing for guests. Tasseled throws, velvet pillows, candles that delight the senses, and specialty maple coffee help to warm up our home and make it a place of comfort.

Although keeping the décor and the traditions simple is key during this busy season, I try to make an effort to maintain enough routine and tradition that it’s motivating and inspiring to me and those that share our home. This special season of gathering with those we love is the perfect time to find joy in arranging cozy, spaces that are lovely and inviting.

We’ve all been most giddy and filled with excitement about cousins, siblings, grandparents, and great-grandparents gathering in our home for the upcoming feast. We’ve also been taking time to write down reasons we are thankful and sharing gratitude to the Lord for his steadfast love fills our hearts and home with contentment.

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
On the day I called, you answered me;
my strength of soul you increased.

All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth,
and they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly,
but the haughty he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

– Psalm 138

With love, Damaris

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10 Favorite Thanksgiving Books

We’ve been reading about pumpkins and the changing leaves, busy squirrels and migratory paths. But apple harvests coming to an end and busy little squirrel friends storing away for the winter means it’s time to get out a new set of story books!

We purpose to make Thanksgiving a very treasured day, and enjoying these sweet books with the children is part of the anticipation and celebration of the holiday. These are the days to clasp a mug of warmed cider while cozied on a quilt in the living room with a stack of books.

Some of the books we recommend are from our own shelves – we visit them every year, and some are newly borrowed from the library.

The First Thanksgiving: A Counting Story moves along very quickly because it’s written in lively rhyming verse and vivid illustrations. The book explains the story of the preparations for the first Thanksgiving feast while counting 1-12. There are hidden surprises in the art and a bold turkey on every page! Do you have a sharp eye?

Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a collection of paintings set in the 19th century that exude familial affection. The simple rhythmic four-line verse mirrors the ease in which this family works together to prepare their special Thanksgiving Day meal.

Saying Grace: A Prayer Of Thanksgiving is a journey back in time to the hardships and blessings of some of the first settlers. It’s the most delightful story of a young child’s faith and prayer as she recognizes God’s bounty.

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet is filled with historical facts about the special holiday. The plentiful scenes are painted in rich fall colors. Children will learn a treasure trove of details about the English settlers of 1620. Everyone will delight in the descriptions set to each letter of the alphabet.

The Story of the Pilgrims is a nice simplified version of how Thanksgiving started. The text is clear and plain which helps the little ones follow the story while focusing on the illustrations. Perfect for the preschool-aged children!

Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving is a favorite of the boys at our house! This book captures the remarkable and providential true story that so few people have ever heard. This book clearly depicts Squanto’s Christian faith and the religious roots of the holiday. The illustrations are realistic renderings which all ages will enjoy.

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration offers the basic history behind Thanksgiving then explains how the holiday sill has meaning for us today. Recounting the difficulties of the Pilgrims and their gratefulness to God. The illustrations are old-fashioned with a wood-cut feel. A wonderful teaching tool! This Thanksgiving story is a classic read-aloud. It is a little long for one sitting, but certainly a cozy read. A great non-fiction introduction for little ones!

Molly’s Pilgrim is the heartwarming modern story of a Jewish family who have immigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. Anyone who has had to move to a new place will understand the difficulties that Molly faces. This book has been the girls’ favorite read-aloud! They love glazing at the penciled illustrations! With a powerful message to live in peace an safety, this is a wonderful book for the Thanksgiving season!

A Cranberry Thanksgiving is a lighthearted and maybe silly story set in New England. It’s a cold and lonely cranberry farm at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving, the house is warm and full of tradition. It’s a fun holiday read and includes Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread recipe!

Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember is our family’s all-time favorite! We read short portions of this book at the dinner table everyday in November. This book refreshes our memory of the courage and sacrifice that the Pilgrims made and of God’s provision for them. It is a moving account of the Mayflower crossing and the first winter in the New World. This book will help you establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another at home. It encourages families to build a legacy of memories and thankfulness and celebrates faith, family, and freedom.

Every year we discover a new gem! What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books? Leave a comment sharing yours!

with love. Damaris


Life Lately

Pumpkins, acorn squashes, buttercup squashes, and butternut are adorning the inside and the outside of our house. Slowly they make their way into the oven, meanwhile, we still have a fall harvest farm stand. We have small decorative pumpkins for sale too!


Doesn’t fall inspire you to get in the kitchen? Butternut cream soup, snickerdoodle bread, maple pumpkin pie (here’s the recipe), beef stew, homemade chai lattes, fresh apple cake…Ahhhh. Our tummies are warm and full. Baking season is in full swing in our farmhouse kitchen, and no one’s complaining. I’ve been putting some muffins and sweet loaves in the freezer for when the baby comes. A little prep will come in handy : )


The crisp air is uplifting, and since the evenings are shorter, we’ve done a couple day outings with Nathan. Even the flower colors are stunning! We hope to get out a few more times before the northern frigid temps settle in.


The older five children are in fall sports. It’s really low-key, but it’s so fun to get out there and kick the ball on cool Saturday mornings! They play a game of soccer followed by flag-football.


Just throwing in a delicious baby eating doughnuts, because he’s irresistible : ) Nothing speaks fall cozy like waking up on the weekend to enormous doughnuts Nathan’s picked up fresh from the bakery!

with love. Damaris


Maple Pumpkin Pie

This week is proving to be the quintessential autumnal weather. Outside my window, the wind rocks thin branches with tawny leaves and weathered edges. The air current through the room made us all reach for a cozy pair of socks this morning! Certainly a season of inexhaustible flavors and tastes, cool fall evenings require creamy pies for warming the body and soul.

No better way to kick off October than with maple plus pumpkin in a satisfying pie dish.

As soon as there’s a chill in the air, I crave the textures and flavors of pumpkin. And here it is, our first pumpkin pie of the season. The addition of maple to the silky pumpkin adds a soft and subtle flavor. This maple pumpkin pie recipe is so simple, you’ll be putting this fall favorite on your regular dessert rotation.

For a pudding-like option, skip the crust and bake the filling in a lightly greased dish or individual ramekins.

The ingredient list is so wholesome, you may just want to have a slice of pumpkin pie as an afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea…every day until Thanksgiving : )

Maple Pumpkin Pie

  • 1 15oz. can pumpkin puree

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 2/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (maple sugar or coconut sugar would be perfect!)

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 eggs, well beaten

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • CRUST: use your favorite pie crust recipe, I recommend this one. Have it premade in the fridge (or store bought) for a faster way to enjoy your pie!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Roll your pie crust onto a pie plate. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until fluffy and add all other ingredients. Stir until combined and smooth. Carefully pour filling in pie crust. Bake in the middle rack for 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let it stand 30 minutes or more before cutting. It’s delicious slightly warm, but you might enjoy it best after it’s chilled in the fridge.

That’s it! To serve, sprinkle toasted pecans, drizzle a little maple syrup, or maybe whip up a little cream for a silkier, richer treat.

Let me know how you like it. Can’t wait to hear how you enjoyed it!

with love. Damaris


The Joy of Having Them Home

We now have over a month of completed schooldays, and there are so many things I am pondering.

I adore this season! I’ve been loving this September weather with chilly mornings that turn to warm afternoons. The leaves on the maple outside the schoolroom will be glowing golden soon enough. Even though I love the apple orchards, the sweaters, the colorful leaves, and the hot cider, I mostly love what this season represents – a fresh start. The intentions, goals, vision, and perspective that come with a fresh beginning.

This summer was a fun-filled adventure, as summer should be! However, I’ve been good and ready to inch back into a flow of more home-days of learning. This last month of homeschool has brought that rhythm, and I have to acknowledge the delight it brings to my soul. Taking care of our home and the people in it while consistently schooling is a daily act of worship. These are a few of the reasons that having the children home bring me joy:

I am grateful to be their encourager.

Many layers of learning concur while we spend our day together at home. There is emotional, spiritual, physical, and intellectual training that happens not only in the children, but in me as well. I find great delight in encouraging them and hearing them encourage each other. I love to see them learn to serve one another even in the little things like buttering toast at the breakfast table.

I love the time to get to know them, and they get to know me.

The multiple opportunities for discipline and correction are truly a privilege. I am able to see the problem, address it, and pray with them for forgiveness and God’s merciful help. I get to know the kids, and just as important, they get to know me. The moments reading Scripture, praying, confessing our sins, eating every meal, and just being gathered in the same room is a joy.

I thrive in the satisfaction of completing a task.

As I think about these last few schooling weeks, I smile because I love the routine – the early morning coffee, the quiet rooms (everyone working), and the reward of tasks accomplished. Perhaps these are more superficial joys though gratifying none the less. As much as I admit to embracing simple and slow, I love to work hard and get things done. I gravitate towards productivity, so the fulfillment of giving a spelling test, finishing the first phonics book, completing and grading math lessons, working through two diagrams, and reviewing the memory work by lunchtime makes me very happy.

With love, Damaris


Autumn in Poetry

If you need a little fall inspiration, I hope you enjoy these seasonal selections of lovely poetry.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

by Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,

Her hardest hue to hold.

Her early leaf’s a flower;

But only so an hour.

Then leaf subsides to leaf.

So Eden sank to grief,

So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.

September Midnight

by Sara Teasdale

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,

Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,

Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,

Ceaseless, insistent.

The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,

The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence

Under a moon waning and worn, broken,

Tired with summer.

Let me remember you, voices of little insects,

Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,

Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,

Snow-hushed and heavy.

Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,

While I gaze,

O fields that rest after harvest,

As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,

Lest they forget them.

October

by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,

Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;

Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,

Should waste them all.

The crows above the forest call;

Tomorrow they may form and go.

O hushed October morning mild,

Begin the hours of this day slow.

Make the day seem to us less brief.

Hearts not averse to being beguiled,

Beguile us in the way you know.

Release one leaf at break of day;

At noon release another leaf;

One from our trees, one far away.

Retard the sun with gentle mist;

Enchant the land with amethyst.

Slow, slow!

For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,

Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,

Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—

For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

The Beautiful Changes

by Richard Wilbur

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides

The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies

On water; it glides

So from the walker, it turns

Dry grass to a lake, as the slightest shade of you

Valleys my mind in fabulous blue Lucernes.

The beautiful changes as a forest is changed

By a chameleon’s tuning his skin to it;

As a mantis, arranged

On a green leaf, grows

Into it, makes the leaf leafier, and proves

Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows.

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says

They are not only yours; the beautiful changes

In such kind ways,

Wishing ever to sunder

Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose

For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

Ode to Autumn

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease;

For Summer has o’erbrimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,

Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all its twinèd flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barrèd clouds bloom the soft-dying day

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river-sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

With love, Damaris


Family Currents: Novelties

November winds have blown the leaves off all the trees, and, if Michigan had a rainy season, I’d say we’re smack-dab in the middle of it. Yesterday barely got above 30 degrees! Needless to say, we were chill even in the house! Baking a couple custard pies did help warm up our tummies and the kitchen. Baby Samuel has been living in this one-piece ever since they days got colder. I love the hood for a little extra warmth at night or when head outside, but the 316 snaps on the bottom are no joke- ha! Carter’s has a huge sale right now, and I have my eye on this one for him too!


Recently we came across this great find at an estate sale! This 12-inch cast iron skillet was rusty, but that was easily solved. I still remember my Yayas (both my grandmothers in Spain) using their large cast iron skillets when I was little! I do love how good the food tastes and how low maintenance they are!

There’s no denying winter’s sending it’s warning chill, and we were grateful to find a few more thrifted sweaters. The girls’ corduroy skirts and cat tights will be perfect with them!


The kids came in from turning over the compost pile, and William (our treasure finder) was holding a large seed that had sprouted a tree. On closer inspection, it was an avocado pit that had begun to grow in our compost pile! For the last month, Alexander has been nurturing it in the basement and took this picture of it for you to see how it’s thriving. Completely accidentally, but we may be enjoying guacamole someday, friends!


Shortly after we shared our news of Larry the llama joining our farm, we saw this promotion from World Market. We couldn’t believe it! The kids have really enjoyed looking through it, and these are my favorites from their Llama-Rama Collection. They have over 50 llama items ranging from pajamas to tea towels, lamps and wrapping paper – yay!

Isn’t the little golden llama trinket dish darling? Even if you don’t have a real llama, you can still feel like you went on an exotic trip to Peru!

with love, Damaris

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Family Currents: Everyone Cleans Up For Fall + A New Recipe!

It’s late in the season to be harvesting honey, but Nathan was happy for a sunny day to finally get to it. He and William pulled the frames from the hives this weekend, and now it’s in a couple tubs in the garage. They will spin the frames to extract the honey soon, and that will be our 2017 honey harvest! Sometime soon, we’ll write a full post on our adventures in beekeeping.


I’ve been making beef stew on the stove top since we first got married. And…it was time to try something new! I found this recipe several years ago, and it’s the only stew we all love – LOVE. Beef and Stout Stew is wonderfully wholesome and very hearty nestled in buttery mashed potatoes. This flavorful, full-bodied stew is the most warming addition to your next week’s menu. When you open the lid, you’ll have everyone running to the table! Please tell me you’ll try it!


We all knew he’d look older when we did it, but Samuel had been needing a haircut for quite awhile. Eva provided him with Daddy’s watch, cellphone, pager, ID badge, and finally a sucker to help get the job done. His strawberry blonde hair is gone!

with love, Damaris


Family Currents: Roadtripping History

This last week we had the privilege of hitting the road for a historically-inspired tour through New England! We’ve had a blast and just returned. Here are a few snapshots of our two thousand mile journey. God gave us safety and grace the whole way through, sunshine & rain, harbors and cupcakes, fall foliage and Atlantic surf!

a thought from Nathan


10 Favorite Thanksgiving Books

We’ve been reading about pumpkins and the changing leaves, busy squirrels and migratory paths. But apple harvests coming to an end and busy little squirrel friends storing away for the winter means it’s time to get out a new set of story books! We purpose to make Thanksgiving a very treasured day, and enjoying these sweet books with the children is part of the anticipation and celebration of the holiday. These are the days to clasp a mug of warmed cider while cozied on a quilt in the living room with a stack of books. Some of the books we recommend are from our own shelves – we visit them every year, and some are newly borrowed from the library.

The First Thanksgiving: A Counting Story moves along very quickly because it’s written in lively rhyming verse and vivid illustrations. The book explains the story of the preparations for the first Thanksgiving feast while counting 1-12. There are hidden surprises in the art and a bold turkey on every page! Do you have a sharp eye?

Sharing The Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story is a collection of paintings set in the 19th century that exude familial affection. The simple rhythmic four-line verse mirrors the ease in which this family works together to prepare their special Thanksgiving Day meal.

Saying Grace: A Prayer Of Thanksgiving is a journey back in time to the hardships and blessings of some of the first settlers. It’s the most delightful story of a young child’s faith and prayer as she recognizes God’s bounty.

Thanksgiving Day Alphabet is filled with historical facts about the special holiday. The plentiful scenes are painted in rich fall colors. Children will learn a treasure trove of details about the English settlers of 1620. Everyone will delight in the descriptions set to each letter of the alphabet.

The Story of the Pilgrims is a nice simplified version of how Thanksgiving started. The text is clear and plain which helps the little ones follow the story while focusing on the illustrations. Perfect for the preschool-aged children!

Squanto And The Miracle Of Thanksgiving is a favorite of the boys at our house! This book captures the remarkable and providential true story that so few people have ever heard. This book clearly depicts Squanto’s Christian faith and the religious roots of the holiday. The illustrations are realistic renderings which all ages will enjoy.

Thanksgiving: A Harvest Celebration offers the basic history behind Thanksgiving then explains how the holiday sill has meaning for us today. Recounting the difficulties of the Pilgrims and their gratefulness to God. The illustrations are old-fashioned with a wood-cut feel. A wonderful teaching tool! This Thanksgiving story is a classic read-aloud. It is a little long for one sitting, but certainly a cozy read. A great non-fiction introduction for little ones!

Molly’s Pilgrim is the heartwarming modern story of a Jewish family who have immigrated from Russia to escape religious persecution. Anyone who has had to move to a new place will understand the difficulties that Molly faces. This book has been the girls’ favorite read-aloud! They love glazing at the penciled illustrations! With a powerful message to live in peace an safety, this is a wonderful book for the Thanksgiving season!

A Cranberry Thanksgiving is a lighthearted and maybe silly story set in New England. It’s a cold and lonely cranberry farm at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving, the house is warm and full of tradition. It’s a fun holiday read and includes Grandmother’s Famous Cranberry Bread recipe!

Thanksgiving: A Time To Remember is our family’s all-time favorite! We read short portions of this book at the dinner table everyday in November. This book refreshes our memory of the courage and sacrifice that the Pilgrims made and of God’s provision for them. It is a moving account of the Mayflower crossing and the first winter in the New World. This book will help you establish a tradition of sharing your gratefulness with one another at home. It encourages families to build a legacy of memories and thankfulness and celebrates faith, family, and freedom.

Every year we discover a new gem! What are some of your family’s favorite Thanksgiving books? Leave a comment sharing yours!

with love. Damaris