Thursday, February 11, 2016

Homemade Heart Marshmallows

Made as either a special Valentine's Day gift or a fun project to do together, these homemade marshmallows are an extra-sweet treat.

Ingredients
nonstick cooking spray
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water

1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Spray a 9x12 baking dish with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and spray again.

2. Spray the bowl of a stand mixer, with nonstick spray, then combine water and gelatin in the bottom. Allow to stand about 5 minutes.

3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, making sure to stir and keep the sugar from burning.

4. Stir mixture until it reaches soft-ball stage, 238 degrees, on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove it from the heat. If any of the sugar burned and hardened, carefully and quickly spoon it out now.

5. Stir up the gelatin mixture to remove it from the bottom of the bowl, then turn mixer on low. Pour in the hot syrup, letting it run down the side of the greased bowl. Increase the speed every other minute until it is on high. Beat for a total of 10-12 minutes, until it is white, fluffy and at least twice as much as in the beginning.

6. Add vanilla and beat on medium until combined.

7. Spray a large rubber spatula with nonstick spray and scrape marshmallow mixture into the prepared pan. Spread the top out smooth.

8. Wrap the pan in cling wrap and allow to set overnight.

9. Spray a small heart-shaped cookie cutter with nonstick spray and begin to cut out marshmallows. Re-coat with spray as necessary so the marshmallow won't stick. Store in an air-tight container or bag.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Have A Pun-ny Valentine's Day

Tired of giving a store-bought card and a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day? How about giving the gift of humor instead?

You could give any of the following gifts with these notes attached:

* a banana, "You're my favorite of the bunch."
* a package of apple slices, "You're the apple of my eye."
* a pear, "We make a great 'pear.'"
* teddy bear-shaped crackers, "I love you BEARY much."
* an orange, "'Orange' you glad we're in love?"
* a box of crayons, "You color my world with love."
* a package of candy, "You make life a little sweeter."
* a pizza, "You've stolen a 'pizza' my heart."
* a stick of margarine, "You're my butter half."
* a loaf of bread, "All you 'knead' is love."
* cup of coffee, "Words cannot 'espresso' how much I love you."
* a stuffed rabbit, "No bunny compares to you."
* a pencil, "I think you're just 'write.'"
* watermelon, "You're one in a 'mellon.'"
* strawberries, blackberries or blueberries, "I think you are 'berry' special."
* a package of light bulbs, "You light up my life."
* a baseball glove, "You're the perfect catch."
* socks, "We're a perfect pair."
* chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers, "Every day I love you s'more."
* a jar of pickles, "You're kind of a big 'dill' to me."
* a box of donuts, "I wouldn't be 'hole' without you.
* a stuffed sheep, "I love 'ewe.'"
* a pair of sunglasses, "You are 'spec'tacular."
* a pack of gum, "Won't 'chew' be mine?"
* a box of paper clips, "You hold me together."
* a bottle of glue, "I'm stuck on you."
* a bottle of honey, "'Bee mine.'"
* reading glasses, "I only have eyes for you."
* a can of root beer, "You are the 'root' of all my happiness."
* a package of trail mix, "I'm nuts about you."
* a bicycle, "I 'wheelie' love you."
* a paper airplane, "You make my heart soar."
* a toy sailboat, "You float my boat."
* a pair of shoes, "I love you from the bottom of my 'sole.'"
* a box of breakfast cereal, "I 'cereal'sly hope you'll be my Valentine."
* birthday candles, "You blow me away."
* coffee beans, "I love you a 'latte.'"
* a cactus, "I'm sticking with you."
* friendship bracelets, "I would 'knot' be the same without you."
* a thimble, "I 'thimbly' can't do without you."
* a portable fan, "You're fantastic."
* a jigsaw puzzle, "I love you to pieces."

Monday, February 8, 2016

Love God First

It feels like one more thing to check off your to-do list.

Something else accomplished today in a day full of things and more things and then some more.

We've heard the words all our lives, but they often seem robotic, rehearsed, rigid.

"Love one another."

Love is supposed to be this happy, giddy, gooey word. It's supposed to stir up feelings and emotions and pretty things.

This week before Valentine's Day, it's vibrantly displayed in advertising, in stores and in our conversations. What are you giving? What are you getting? Wow...you must love them a whole bunch.

But love isn't about puffy hearts or sparkling gems or boxes of chocolate.

Love is a verb. It's an action that we choose to make on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis.

Love is when a woman honors her husband, serves her family and makes home a wonderful place to be.

Love is when a man leads his home, treats his wife with respect and provides all the things a house needs to be a home.

Love is when church family come together to worship, help one another and give support in the midst of messy, real-world problems.

These are all acts of love, but perhaps we've put the cart before the horse.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Before we can truly pass on pure, unadulterated love to any human being on earth, we have to love God. If our motives are anything but obedience to the Lord and treating one another as Christ would if He were here right this moment, it's not true love.

It is a joy for husband and wife to demonstrate love for one another, but it means nothing if God is not in the midst.

It is sweet for church members to reach out to one another, but it falls short if it's not a reflection of their love for the Lord.

We see things and heart things and feel things that come from God's love for us in a much different light. We could never imagine what His love could do when it is passed along. Human love is no match for the great and mighty love of our heavenly Father.

The Spirit reveals these treasures to us, we finally understand that our love for God was just the first step. By placing Him first and waiting for the time of revealing, we're blessed beyond measure by things we didn't even imagine He could give.

He has prepared something special, something amazing and awe-inspiring for those who love Him. As we grasp this love, we can't help but pass it on. It's a gift that we just can't keep to ourselves.

And what a wonderful Valentine's Day gift that would be.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sunday Sketch

A few simple papers, a fun image and a great sentiment will help you knock today's sketch out of the ballpark.

Instead of running a banner of decorator paper all the way across your card, you're going to cut a chunk out of the middle and mat each one on coordinating card stock. This gives the focal point more emphasis and hopefully breaks you out of the routine of creating the same parts and pieces every time.

Choose two colors of card stock for your background mats, or maybe one card stock and a very subtle patterned paper. You don't want to draw attention away from your circled image until they look down at your all-important sentiment.
For my card, I started with a pink card stock that matched the pink in my focal point - a 3D Valentine image. Then I matted the pink with white so my colors would stand out even more.

I used a circle cutter to make backgrounds for the stamp, and then used a pink and yellow patterned paper that matched the stripes in the stamp itself.

Before cutting the strips of striped paper, I applied the rub-ons at the bottom so there would be plenty of room. Then I was able to center the stripes int he remaining space and make them wide enough for the stamp and circles to fit snugly inside.

For more great ideas, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find hundreds of cards, plus lots of paper and wood gifts. You never know, you might walk with some ideas plus a gift or two!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Weekend Of Making A Joyful Noise

There's a joke among church musicians that we're all just making a joyful noise - with an emphasis on the "noise" part. This is often how we laugh off any mistakes or finger fumbles.

This play on words is actually referencing Psalm 66, but we don't usually get past the fourth word, let alone the first line.

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious. Psalm 66:1-2

The word noise here doesn't mean something that sounds awful, like we would describe it in today's terminology. Instead, it means to shout, raise a sound, cry out or give a blast. It's specifically used to describe a war cry or alarm of battle. In military terms, it would be their battle cry.

Make this a weekend of making a joyful noise. Be one of those making a joyful noise, letting the songs of praise to God be our battle cry in a lost and dying world. If we don't lift our voices, who will? Even if it's quiet or a little off-key, it will still be a shout of war against the evil all around us.

That sounds like a beautiful noise to me!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Does Creativity = Messy?

There's something to be said for neat, tidy, organized workspaces.

Others would argue that being so rigid kills all their creative vibes.

Want to guess what the right answer is?

It's not really a secret - it's whatever works best for you.

If you were to spend an entire day being as creative in your craft space as possible, what would it look like? Would it be straightening things up first, organizing projects and collecting all the supplies you need into one place?

Or is it using the disorganization as inspiration? You might stumble (literally, perhaps) over something you forgot you even had. This could lead to the most brilliant idea you've had all day!

Don't try to fit yourself into someone else's mold. Personally, I am much more creative when things are neat and tidy. Clutter makes me confused and anxious, so sorted, dusted shelves clear some room in my brain for new ideas.

You might be exactly the opposite, and that's just fine. Work with one pile at a time and have fun with it. You might create ten new pieces out of a tornado that would drive other people crazy. And that's wonderful.

Maybe you're trying to go from being a Messy Mable to something a little more workable. This is a great aspiration - if it's actually doable. Don't change everything about how you work just because you think you're supposed to be organized. You might miss out on some great ideas because you were too focused on the room around you.

Creativity and organization are both gifts from God, so use them exactly the way He has spoken to your heart to use them.

And have fun!