My Office At Christmastime

"While the cat's away, the mice will play" has never been more true than in our office last week. While my boss was out of town for the holidays last week, I decorated the Convention & Visitors Bureau for Christmas from top to bottom. At this time last year I had only been working here for a few days, and the office was already decorated, so this year I dove right in.

Here's a before picture of our already-beautiful office in Bridge View Center. It's like an empty canvas just waiting for the brush strokes of Christmas!

And here's the after! I started with a wreath on the door, complete with red plaid ribbon and burlap bow. I grabbed more of that thick ribbon to use inside.

I needed it for the swag on the front of my desk. The burlap flowers you see are designed to hold the swag together, and they attach to the wall to keep it secure. What a great idea! I added some plain green garland and some floral picks to add more color and embellishments.

And, of co…

Decorating With Vintage Christmas Ornaments

I had to smile when I walked into one of our local stores, Antiques & Uniques on Main Street. They had this beautiful display of vintage Christmas ornaments right inside the door, and I really didn’t want to go any further.

Some of them were very familiar, as though we must have had them when I was growing up. Others were new to me and absolutely lovely! I really just wanted to sweep them all into a bag and rush them home.

So what do you do with all those beautiful, classic ornaments once you get them home? Here are just a few ideas to get your decorating creativity jumpstarted.

* Fill a glass jar or vase with ornaments and tie on a pretty ribbon.

* Hang ornaments from ribbon in a antique picture frame with the glass removed.

* Attach them all around a greenery wreath.

* Decorate a small Christmas tree with all vintage ornaments.

* Fill a cupcake stand with antique tree ornaments and balls.

* Display them in a glass dome set in a circle of greenery.

* Tie them on presents with th…

Bringing Good Tidings Of Great Joy This Christmas

Yes, it really, truly is December. This year has gone by so quickly that it doesn’t seem possible, but we’re now in the Advent season. It’s time for all of us to slow down and refocus on the importance of Jesus’ birth in our Christian faith.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:10-11

Not just some ordinary tidings that will bring a little happiness into your lives. Not a spoken word here and there that might make you smile. Good tidings! Great joy! The best, the most amazing and the greatest news we have ever heard!

That’s something to rejoice about.

But what about those who have never heard the good tidings, so they don’t have the great joy? Those who are spending the month of December shopping and giving Santa their wish list. Their happiness isn’t joy, and it’s definitely fleeting. Once December 26 rolls arou…

Sunday Sketch

It’s full on Christmas mode at the craft table these days. I love combining those classic holiday patterns and colors to make something amazing to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior. That’s where today sketch came from, that desire to make a card that is beautiful and bright and absolutely perfect for Christmas.

To make the stars, I lined up several lengths of metallic washi tape on a piece of white card stock. Then I traced the star shapes from a stencil and cut them out by hand.

And now for the really pretty part, the two metallic papers! I started with back textured card stock, then matted the gold metallic paper on top. The patterned gold paper is matted on the same card stock and cut to fit. A sweet nativity scene and a small phrase complete this one-of-a-kind layout.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by choosing two washi tapes and two coordinating patterned papers. From there, you can make the two large accents by lining up several lengths of washi tape and cut…

Shop Small, Shop Local, Shop Handmade

It’s the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Whether you’re out in your community, traveling to a large city or staying home and shopping online, we’re all inundated with sales, specials and giveaways. Happy day after Thanksgiving, right?

While you’re doing your shopping today, I would encourage you to keep one very special thing in mind. This is Small Business Saturday, a day that we point the spotlight on small, local and handmade shops. They are the businesses on our Main Streets, run by our friends and neighbors and relying on our support to make them successful. They may not have a nationwide following or billion-dollar backers, but they do have us - and this is where we step up.

Owning our own handmade business, Stuff From Trees, we know how important loyal customers are. We do all we can to spread our name, share our talents and sell our products, but it’s the people who love us and support us 365 days a year who keep us doing what we do. It’s their purchases that help us pu…

Pan Seared Filet Mignon With Oven Roasted Potatoes And Carrots

Our Thanksgiving dinner was pretty non-traditional this year, which translates to ... it was amazing! Two Filet Mignon steaks came in this month’s Butcher Box, and all I needed to add was the potatoes and carrots. Talk about easy and yummy all in one dish.

The ingredient lists below make a two-person meal.

For the Potatoes and Carrots:
8 baby red potatoes, quartered
2 cups baby carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp honey
Steak seasoning

For the Filet Mignon:
2 6-oz Filet Mignon steaks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, olive oil, honey and seasoning. Toss to coat.

3. Pour potato mix into a baking dish. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until all is fork-tender.

4. While potatoes roast, heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Dry steaks with paper towel and coat one side with salt and pepper.

6. When oil is hot, place steaks seasoned side down …

Thanking God This Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, before the food, fellowship and football, let's take time to place our love and gratitude for God in its proper place.

When we read through the Psalms, we can’t help but see David’s heart of praise and thanksgiving. In everything he did, he looked for reasons to praise God. He didn’t tout his own strength or position or power, but gave all the glory and honor to his Lord.

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psalm 138:1-2

Praise is as natural as breathing when we’re focused on the blessings of God in our daily lives. While there may be distractions and reasons to be bitter and ungrateful, we have so many heavenly gifts to be thankful for. Let’s put those gifts in the forefront of our minds and hearts during this busy holiday season.

I pray that today, and each da…