Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting Ready For The Craft Show

As you read this, Danny and I are getting ready for Walk on Art Street, Ottumwa's outdoor arts and crafts show, which is this Saturday. I've done several craft shows in the past, but this is the first time we've done this show and the first time we've done a show together.

I've put our Etsy shop on vacation and pulled out everything I could possibly find and spread it all out on the kitchen table. I'm going to display the cards in baskets with one or two kinds per basket - special occasions together, sympathy, thank yous, praying for you. I've been trying to get 20 of each category in the shop, but I didn't realize just how many cards I had made.

 There are plenty of other paper crafts ready besides cards. I've got altered board books and paper bag albums. I found several different kinds of notebooks and journals, and there are magnets and drink mix gift cards - those are the coffee cups on the right hand side of the picture.

There seems to be something that I'm missing, but Danny thinks I have plenty. I just want to make sure we have a variety of samples of our work so people who don't know us can really see what we're all about.

Danny's been working hard on animal puzzles and Christmas ornaments. I love these little chairs - they're perfect for my Boyds bears. All of them can be made to order if someone sees them at the show and wants something similar but special.

What I love about our work is that it's all one of a kind. If you get one of Danny's pens or one of these altered binder clips, you can know there's not another one like it anywhere. 

Think good thoughts and pray lots of prayers that we'll have a great Saturday at the show. We really just want to connect with people and share our faith with the community. Pray that the Lord will give us the opportunity to do both.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Crunch Brownie Bars

This recipe combines several of my favorite words: quick, easy, sweet, salty, peanut butter, chocolate, peanuts, brownie.

If this sounds intriguing, you'll love this peanut butter crunch brownie bars. If you don't eat the whole pan by yourself, you'll make those you love very happy when you share them.

1 box chewy brownie mix
8 peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or as directed on the brownie box. Spray 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare the brownies according to the box directions and pour into the 9x13 pan. Bake for 5 minutes less than the directions say - the top shouldn't be solid yet.

3. Sprinkle the top with chopped peanut butter cups and peanuts. Cover it as thickly as you'd like. Return the pan to the oven for 5 more minutes.

4. During those five minutes, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a small pan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the cereal and immediately pour over the brownies. Spread to cover it evenly.

5. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Store in an air-tight container.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Study To Be Quiet

We live in a loud, noisy, busy world. We're surrounded by ringing alarm clocks, buzzing phones, car horns and loud voices. Short of stuffing your fingers in your ears, there's little you can do to shut them all off.

So if we want to have some peace and quiet in our lives, the choice is to make ourselves quiet. This can be difficult for some women because we've been taught to be heard above the noise. "If you want people to pay attention to you, you have to be louder than everyone else." Or so the myth goes.

What would happen if we followed the words of Paul to the Thessalonians instead?

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

This verse is about an inward change that eventually becomes an outward display. We'd all love to have a calm, peaceful soul, and Paul says all it takes is the ambition to be so. "Study" here means "be ambitious," striving and desiring to be calm and quiet in mind and soul.

Imagine walking through a hurried, scattered world, unaffected by the drama and emotional tornadoes around us. One of my favorite quotes along this thought is "Sometimes God calms the storms and sometimes He calms me." The outside circumstances of life affect us, but they don't have to steal our peace.

And Paul goes on to give two ways we can be focused and maintain our peace: do your own business and work with your own hands.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But how often do we start listening a little to that conversation over there? Or "help" a little with someone else's project? Before we know it we're too busy, too involved in other things and pulled in every direction. And of course, we did it to ourselves.

This verse of Scripture reminds us that while the devil and the world may try to get us all stirred up, we are ultimately in charge of our own peace. Keeping our eyes in line, our ears in check and our thoughts in submission will keep us from straying too far from where God would have us be. If we're busy serving the Lord in the ways He chooses and not tip-toeing through someone else's tulips, we might be surprised at how much peace He will fill us with.

Spend today centering your life around God's peace. Study to be quiet, strive to present an undisturbed nature and choose words that reflect a calm heart. Show the world that we don't have to conform to the whirlwind they call life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

This is an amazing recipe for two reasons: it's a Louisiana staple that my husband loves, and it's a quick slow-cooker recipe that's perfect for a Sunday morning while you're in church. By the time you get home, it will be all ready for you.

four boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
dirty rice mix

1. Mix all the ingredients except the rice in a slow cooker on Saturday night. Refrigerate until Sunday morning.

2. Fix the rice according to the package directions. Refrigerate until Sunday at lunchtime.

3. Sunday morning, put the slow cooker insert in the cooker and turn on high. Cook on high until you're ready for lunch, about 4 hours.

4. Add the rice and stir, then let it warm up for about 15 minutes.

5. Serve with some sliced bread and a salad.