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DIY Building Blocks From Scrap Wood - A Work In Progress

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The last time we were at Living History Farms in Urbandale, I noticed these wood blocks in a room they had set up as a 1870s child's playroom. They were so simple, and the kids who played with them could really use their imaginations to turn them into anything. I quickly snapped a picture just in case I wanted to make something like this of my own one day.

When I spotted a few small pieces of wood leftover from a friend's new deck project, I could easily picture them as blocks like the ones I had just seen. She gladly handed them over, with a hug as her only required payment.

From there, I made my first set of house blocks! There are three large sides, so there will be houses and storefronts on each of them. I'm so excited to play with them already!


Because they were the rough cuts from larger pieces of wood, they needed to be sanded on every side. Please note: a belt sander can take off layers of skin in a heartbeat. While I have never experienced it for myself, Danny is…

Words For Wednesday

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Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Sticks

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As I sat at the table Friday night trying to figure out what to cook with the girls at our teen Bible study on Saturday, I was at a complete loss. We've been meeting for a year now, and we've already made many of the dishes and treats they'd wanted to do.

That's when Danny suggested something simple like French toast sticks, but using our cinnamon raisin bread instead of boring old wheat bread. Now how smart is he? (The answer is very smart.)

So the girls and I tried it Saturday afternoon, and they said it was "way better" than regular bread. They also liked having strips of bread so it was crunchy all the way around instead of soft and mushy in the middle. Here's how they did it:

Ingredients:
1 loaf cinnamon raisin swirl bread
1 egg
splash of milk
syrup or powdered sugar

1. Spray a cast iron skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium-high heat.

2. Cut each slice of bread into four strips.

3. Beat the egg in a bowl and add just a splash of milk, en…

Cutting Bait And Starting Over

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After our neighbors had great success fishing in our two ponds last week, Danny and I just had to go down and try for ourselves. We've been super busy with craft shows and our Etsy shop lately, so fishing took a back burner. This is a terrible problem since the ponds are just a 30-second walk away.

I hadn't been fishing very long when my reel wouldn't cast at all. I had somehow created the worst knot of fishing line I'd ever seen. It wasn't too tight to begin with, but the more I tried to untangle it, the worse it became. Soon there were two knots pulled so tight that I knew I wasn't going to be able to get them out.

Danny took a look and, after assessing the damage, decided it was time to cut bait and start over. He'd already pulled my line free from some under-water debris, and I'd freed it from the tree above the little pond, so I had no argument. It only took a couple of minutes for him to clip the line, remove the snarled mess and reattach the hoo…

Girls Reflect What They See In Women

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As I walked into the locker room at the gym this week, there were two middle-school-aged girls in front of the mirror taking duck-face photos of themselves on their phones. (You know the ones, where you pucker your lips and you end up looking more like a duck than flirty.) They just laughed and giggled the entire time I was down there.

When I came back through, the pictures had escalated from faces to other body parts. My heart broke as they were bent over taking pictures of places that didn't have any purpose being on camera. They obviously didn't have a problem with it, and I hate to think about where those pictures might end up.

By the time I got back upstairs after my workout, there was a group of teenagers hanging out in the lobby. I had to sit down for a few minutes while Danny finished up his routine, so I found a seat a little ways away from them. Within a few seconds I heard language coming from their mouths that I don't remember hearing from anyone this young be…

A DIY Planner For When You Can't Find One You Like

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I've had my eye on a couple of planners recently because I'm tired of the system (or lack thereof) I've been using. Once the newness wears off, I often revert back to a piece of paper and a pencil. This isn't very effective, though, so I started looking online for something amazing that would fit my needs. After realizing that there wasn't one that was everything I needed, I made my own.

My new planner is a 1.5-inch binder is the most beautiful, bright colors I could find. I'm pretty sure I won't lose it because of its size and the fact that it probably glows in the dark.

With school supplies on sale right now, it was easy to gather up everything I might possibly need to go inside the binder.

I printed off two sets of calendars from August through December and punched holes in the top for putting it straight into the binder. I don't want them in the page protectors because I'm constantly writing on them, and it's too much work to pull them in …

Crafts For Teen Girls To Make

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In our teen girls Bible study, we're studying our way through the Proverbs 31 woman and it's been such a blessing to me, as I hope it's been to them. Every month we spend an afternoon or an evening together studying Scripture, making something amazing in the kitchen and creating something that corresponds to the verse we're in.

Choosing the crafts each time can be a challenge for several reasons. It needs to be something they can completely finish (or do most of) because once they leave they're probably not going to work on it themselves - that's just the nature of teenagers. Remember?

It also needs to be a project that keeps they're attention, is age-appropriate and is cool enough that they'll want to keep it or give it to someone special. But hey, no pressure on the Bible study leader, right?

Here are just a few of the projects we've done together in the year we've been meeting.

* This month's craft will be the adorable cross stitch hange…