Chocolate Caramel Brownies

This week in our weekly email at work, we featured the perfect picnic spots around Ottumwa. It was fun to put together some places and recipes that would be fun for a picnic, despite the rain that’s keeping everyone from going outside.

My favorite recipe was submitted by Quincy, the events manager at Bridge View Center. These brownies are absolutely amazing, and I couldn’t resist making a batch to share.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt together 1/3 cup milk with a 14-oz bag of caramels. Stir until combined and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine 1/3 cup milk, 3/4 cup melted butter and 1 box German chocolate cake mix.

4. Spoon half the batter into the prepared dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes.

5. Remove dish from oven and pour 1 package dark chocolate chips over the batter, then cover with the melted caramel. Drop remaining batter on top of caramel.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for an additional…

My Geocaching Adventures

As part of the Outdoor Moments To Remember Instagram campaign we’re running at the CVB during May, I downloaded a geocaching app. One post was dedicated to getting outside and try finding some caches as a family.

If you’re not familiar with geocaching, it began with the first global positioning satellites. The scientists wanted to make sure that it was going to work, so they hid a tracker and let the satellite search for it. Then they could adjust the programming as necessary.

What does this mean for us? It means we can use an app like Geocaching to find fun treasures hidden in our communities. Pictured above is the first cache I found after we created the CVB profile. It was hidden in the railing of one of the bridges - no spoilers ... you have to find it for yourself.

The app will give you a map of caches that have been registered in the area. Just click the Navigate button and you’re off! It will also give you a Log button to share your adventure of finding this hidden gem. Take a…

Pressing On Toward The Mark

When you stand at the bottom of a rock climbing wall and look up, it can be quite daunting. You can’t tell exactly where you need to put your hands and feet in order to make it all the way to the top. You know the goal, you just don’t know the path to get there yet.

The same can be said of our spiritual lives. After salvation we know we’re to walk with the Lord, but we don’t know what that looks like for certain. That’s how we build trust in God, as we listen to His guidance and take one more step. And one more step. And one more step.

Does our Christian walk look daunting from down here? Of course it does. You’ve never walked this path before, and the journey can be pretty terrifying when you’re not the one doing the planning or holding the map. What a test of our faith, when we put our steps into the hands of God. We definitely don’t want to misstep and fall off the rock wall part way up. If you’ve ever hesitated to move your hands from where they are now because it’s safer over he…

Sunday Sketches

Ready for a big, bold sketch of the week? Find the tallest, most colorful embellishments you have and combine them to make a card they’ll always remember.

For my card, I used a tall, vertical candle  for my 3D embellishment. I punched out the letters with the largest circle punch I have, and they fit perfectly in the space next to the candle.

Need something else, though, right? In those little spaces between the image and letters, I tucked in different sizes of acrylic dots in a contrasting color. All put together, it’s a bright birthday card that anyone would love to receive.

Ready to turn this sketch into a card of your own? Let’s get started.

Begin with a solid color for your background, coordinating it with the embellishments you choose. You’ll want something tall and skinny, then mat it on another color of card stock.

Punch out your letters and stack them on the opposite side. You can use stickers, rub-one, die cuts, computer prints or something written by hand.

Then choose some…

Are You Ready To Get Outside?

After this long, cold winter, it’s about time to get back outside and enjoy the weather. There may be rain in the forecast here in southeast Iowa, but 60 degrees and a little precipitation is better than being snowed in, right?

At my job with the Greater Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau, we’ve just started our Outdoor Moments to Remember Instagram campaign, and it has been so much fun to create. We’re sharing as much information as we can about what Ottumwa has to offer outdoor enthusiasts.

We’ve worked with Parks and Recreation, physicians, trainers, bikers, walkers, experts in a dozen fields and people who just love being out in nature to give you all the information we can pack into 31 days. If you love it and it’s outside, we are probably featuring it one day in May.

So head over to the @GreaterOttumwaCVB Instagram page and follow us. You’ll get a daily dose of where to go, what to try and a few surprises you probably didn’t know were out there! Then post your own photos and…

Where Two Or Three Are Gathered - National Day Of Prayer 2019

Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:18-20

What a precious promise from our Lord that our prayers of faith will be answered. In a day and time when evil and corruption and horrendous acts are growing more and more prevalent, we may be tempted to doubt whether our prayers are making it past the ceiling. How encouraging it is to read Jesus’ own words that it shall be done.

On this National Day of Prayer, individuals and groups all over the country will be dropping to their knees today to join together in prayer. Millions of prayers for forgiveness, blessing and reconciliation in a devastated and discouraging time. Ou…