Showing posts from May, 2010

Organizing A Craft Closet

It's such a huge blessing to have one whole room for our computer and my craft supplies. It's even big enough to have a folding table up for my workspace. The best part, though, is that I can have the entire closet organized for scrapbooking bits exactly the way I want them. There's no before picture because you probably wouldn't read the rest of the post if you saw it! The top shelf is mostly for things I use very sparingly. There's a couple of paper trays for paperwork I need to have handy. My envelopes and note pads live up there, too, along with bags of needlepoint and seasonal crafts. I use the computer for my scrapping and stamping, so the manuals and software are in plain sight. In order to keep as much in view as I can, I have a small book shelf and a wheeled set of drawers that will fit inside the closet when the doors are closed. Books and magazines go on top of the bookshelf, ink pads and my grandmother's sewing box are right below and the hot glue g

Practice the 3 P's - A Little Time For Me

After several days of going full speed ahead, I realized that I had not spent any time doing the things I really wanted to do. Sure, I had cleaned the house, worked on my etsy website, done my blog, taught piano lessons and gotten many other things accomplished. But where in that list was quiet time for myself? Does this sound like a familiar story? Women have a habit of packing the days full of activities that will help everyone, but neglect themselves. There are still 24 hours in a day, but there's plenty of time in there for some personal time if you practice the 3 P's of time management: Prayer, Planning and Preparation. 1. Prayer - If I don't start the day in conversation with God about His plans for my day, I feel like I'm just flailing. I can plan, chart, dream, wish and have the best of intentions, but without the Lord's leadership it's all just wood, hay and stubble. Spending time in prayer first thing in the morning can set the pace for the rest of th

Lost Kitty

One day last week I couldn't find my cat - it was to the point that I was running around the house with the treat bag calling her name like a crazy woman. I even sent the dogs after her like bloodhounds ...which they are not. I was panicking , thinking perhaps she had gotten out the back door and gone for a tour of the neighborhood. She doesn't ever go outside, so the thought of her wandering threw me for a loop. She wasn't in the back yard and she still wasn't coming when I called. She finally came wandering out to the living room a couple of hours later, looking at me like nothing had happened. That's when I started doing some research to find out what to do if she ever really did get lost. Shudder . The most important thing we can do for our pets is make sure they are micro-chipped . If they end up wandering into a neighbor's yard, they can take her to the vet and be scanned for a chip. Your contact information is registered nationally so that wherever she e

Think About Money Like A Kid

Sometimes I feel like we're so worried about saving, spending and investing that we don't see the financial forest for the greenback trees. Perhaps it's time to go back to the mindset we had when we were given our first allowance and go from there. 1. Separate wants and needs. As children we saw everything as something we just had to have and couldn't live without. As we age our mindset doesn't always change. Distinguishing between the essentials (tithe, bills, food, gasoline) and the extras (movies, music, books) can truly illuminate where your money goes. 2. Give yourself an allowance. Sit down and figure out exactly how much those essentials cost you each month. With whatever is left, set aside a portion for savings and a part for the extras. This simple plan will help you establish a clear savings plan, plus put you on a budget for your extracurricular spending. Don't go over what you set aside, or you'll deplete that all-important savings plan. 3. Set a

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

This is perhaps the easiest slow cooker recipe in the history of slow cooker recipes. Combine three-ingredient recipes with slow-cooker recipes and I'm there! Pork ribs were on fantastic sale this week, so I threw eight of them into the slow cooker with a combination of 1 cup of ketchup and 1 cup of cola. Three ingredients - two of which you probably have in the kitchen right now. I usually set the cooker on high for the first hour and then turn it down to low. This lets you get to temperature quickly and safely. For this recipe I did that, then left it on low for about 3 more hours. It doesn't take very long, but the results are tasty! With a side of potatoes, veggies and fruit this is a great way to cook a sensible meal without using up half the staples in your cupboards or all of your time and effort.

Easy Personalized Candy Wrappers

I've been craving chocolate for days - just my sweet tooth working in overdrive. Danny gave me a candle holder a few weeks ago that says: Prayer and chocolate...I can't get through the day without them! Really says Laura, I guess. So to curb my craving (translate: eat my work), I put together some handmade candy wrappers. They're perfect for special occasions because they can be customized for whatever event you need. They're also great gifts: fill a bag with something special for someone special. All you need are: Nugget candies - the kind shaped like a brick Rectangular address labels Your favorite stamps, ink and embellishments There are hundreds of different ways to decorate these, so here are a few ideas. 1. Random stamp your image over the sheet of labels. If you want something different on each one, just rip them into individual stickers. Peel it off and wrap it around the candy, meeting on the bottom. Think doves or hearts for a wedding, mortar boards for gradua

Patience - Part 4

Some days I think I know everything. The very next day I feel like I don't know anything. Circumstances, people and emergencies try my patience to the very last nerve. When everything seems to be whirling out of control, I turn to the Scriptures. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. Lamentations 3:24-25 It's not about me. It's never been about me. Those words echo in my head once again. My hope and my patience lie in the Lord and His plan, not in the lusts of the flesh or the random thoughts of my human mind. I have been blessed with enough up to this point to keep me content for the rest of my life. Impatience comes when we look ahead and take our focus off the moment. When we take ourselves out of the equation and look for God's purpose in each activity of the day, we won't have time to look forward with frustration. There is no secret to developing patien

Staying Healthy While You Travel

Travel season is officially upon us and we'll be headed on our own trip soon. Being on the road can destroy the healthy lifestyle that you're trying to maintain, with all the fast-food restaurants, lack of exercise, germs from a variety of places and weird sleep schedule. Making an effort to stay healthy while traveling can be a huge challenge. Temptations and "vacation sickness" are everywhere. How can we enjoy our trip and still keep up our plans? 1. Drink plenty of water before, during and after. Staying hydrated will allow the body to keep functioning properly and you to enjoy your trip. Remember that if you're thirsty you're already getting dehydrated. 2. Pack your own snacks. While liquids still aren't allowed on planes, you can pack serving-sized snacks. Think mixed nuts, mini bagels, fruit and veggies and granola bars. Don't forget a little chocolate just for a treat. (And nothing that smells too strongly...there are other people on your flig

Five Minutes Here And There Add Up

As I have stated on more than one occasion, I hate cleaning bathrooms. I'm not terribly fond of cleaning out the refrigerator. And I really don't enjoy cleaning the mud room floor. You probably have several areas around your house that frustrate you in the same way. Have you ever actually timed yourself to see how long those dreaded chores take? When I cleaned the bathroom today it took five minutes to clean everything outside the shower, and then another five minutes to clean the shower and tub themselves. That got me thinking...if we took five minutes here and there, what could we accomplish around the house in a day? Don't think about the whole house right now, just think about five little minutes - we can do anything for five minutes, right? In just five minutes you could: * Clean out your purse. * Fill a basket of things that belong in other rooms. *Wipe down all the kitchen counters. * Change and make the bed. * Gather up laundry and start a load. * Clean the fingerpr

While The Humans Are Gone, The Pets Will Play

We're getting ready to go on vacation soon, and we've already talked to the girls about it. I know they understand some things like packing suitcases and loading the car, and I think every time Bailey puts her backpack on she thinks we're all leaving. Unfortunately they're staying here while we're gone - two black labs and a calico cat on a plane for a five-day vacation doesn't make a whole lot of sense. (Not to mention the trauma to the poor baggage handler who would have to remove them from under the plane...not a pretty picture. So we're getting a house-sitter instead. We have a friend whose wife is going to Mexico for the exact same days that we'll be in Colorado...thank you Lord! He has agreed to live here with the girls for that long weekend so we don't have to worry about boarding them. I'm always concerned about how much outdoor time they get and whether they're eating right, so having someone we know living here takes a load off our

Spring Clean Your Finances

At this time of year we all get geared toward spring cleaning our homes. We want to throw open the windows, clear out all the dust and sort out all the stuff that's collected over the winter months. Have you ever thought about using that same technique on your finances? They get stuffy and cluttered, too, and that makes it difficult to be good stewards of the money God has given us. This is the perfect time to take a look at your spending, saving and investing to see what needs to be cleaned up and what needs to be throw out. 1. Analyze your money flow. Sit down with your husband and all of your monthly bills. Prayerfully consider where and when your money is leaving the house and when pay checks are coming in. If you go over your finances with a fine-toothed comb, you'll find plenty of ways to plug up leaks. And working together as a couple will strengthen your marriage and allow you to discuss some money issues that you've never addressed. 2. Organize your files. This m

Lemon-Blueberry Trifle

One of the joys of summer is being able to pull out all of those great hot-weather recipes. I had been waiting for a warm, steamy day for ages to make this Lemon-Blueberry Trifle, a favorite in our house. One of my dear sisters in Christ gave this to me several years ago and it's been a go-to recipe ever since. There's really no recipe, just a list of ingredients. 2 cups of fresh blueberries 1 can lemon pie filling or two boxes of lemon pudding mix 2 - 6oz containers of lemon yogurt 1 baked angel food cake, cut into squares 2 containers of Cool Whip, thawed Mix the pie filling and yogurt together. Layer cake, filling, blueberries and then Cool Whip. Repeat the layers, ending with the Cool Whip on top. Sprinkle with the last blueberries. The cake will soak up the filling rather quickly, so eat fast - or store it in a tightly sealed container for a day or two. Trust me though, you'll go through it quickly, it's that good!

Stamping - Not Just Pretty Flowers Anymore!

As embarrassing as it might be to admit, I am fascinated by stamping. There are so many designs and so many options - you can be creative all day long and never duplicate what you've made. When stamping first started it was all wood-mount stamps and a handful of flowery designs. Now there is such a variety that you're sure to find something that you love. For example, this older Close to My Heart wood-mount stamp is one of my favorites. Once stamped and cut out, you make one slice, two folds and TA DA...a tiny sticky note holder. I stamped this one on the back with, When life is too much to stand...kneel. It has a little glittery resin flower on the bottom corner for something special. The note pad holder and large tag stamps were two of my first stamp purchases and have been used numerous times. Stamps like these make it easier to coordinate with your cards and pages because you can stamp directly onto the decorator paper and not have to search the aisles of the craft store fo

Patience - Part 3

Last week I let the girls out the back door like normal and couldn't help but notice this giant butterfly on the screen. Its size and beauty drew me in, so I had to go get the camera. Surprisingly, it waited patiently for me to return. Its color caught my attention first, and then I noticed that it had definitely been through the storms of life. If you'll notice on its right wing there is a small curl at the very bottom. The one on the left side is missing. I wonder if she caught it on something, or maybe it was ripped off by a predator. I can't begin to imagine what she must have been through in her tiny little life. So I carefully opened the door again so I wouldn't scare her. I took a picture from a pretty safe distance away so she wouldn't flutter off. She just waited patiently while I got a little closer, took a picture and then got a little closer for another one. She endured my curiosity like a trooper and I was blessed with several precious pictures of her.

Fleur de Lis Napkin Folding

We had very special company over Friday night and I wanted something different on the dining room table. I placed the seashell centerpiece out (see last Wednesday's post for details) and needed something else creative. I found a napkin fold that I liked, but I couldn't get my silly napkins to do what they said they should be doing. So I took the first two steps of their fold and made the rest to do what I wanted. Step 1: Fold the napkin in half diagonally. Step 2. Lift the middle of the napkin up to make a pleat. Step 3. On either side of the large pleat, make one pleat halfway between the large pleat and the edge. Step 4. Gather the bottom of the three pleats together and tuck them into the napkin ring. Floof (technical term, I'm sure) the top edges so they fall into the Fleur de Lis shape.

Just For Today

If you're like me, you're already planning the upcoming week. There is much to do, and it seems like less time to do it in. Just for tomorrow, just for Monday, keep this list handy and see how much you can complete. Yes, it means adding some more to our already-busy schedule. But print this out or keep it handy, just for today. Just for today: ___ As soon as you wake up, say a prayer of thanksgiving to God. He's kept you alive for one more night! Thank Him for His grace and mercy. ___ Get up a little earlier than normal. ___ Spend time early in Bible study and prayer. Take the time to listen and understand God's plans for your day before you speed off. ___ Write one quick note of encouragement to someone you know needs to hear it. ___ Pray for your husband as he heads off for work. ___ Make healthy food a priority of the day. Your body and your mind will thank you. ___ Whether you have a job outside the home, you work from home or you keep your home all day, dedicate on

Have A New Kitty By Friday

Now, does this look like a cat who would pounce on the bed at 3:00 in the morning, pound on closed doors or bat at the blinds to wake you up? No, she just looks like a sweet, sleepy kitty without a mean-spirited bone in her body. Well, thanks to some drastic measures and a little patience, she's not quite that bad anymore. Just a couple of weeks ago she had me on my knees in prayer, sobbing, because I was so tired and so frustrated. Cayenne is a typical cat, nocturnal and very pushy. She is very vocal with her demands and will sit in bed each morning with her nose against mine until I wake up and take care of her. The noises she makes otherwise - pounding on doors and strumming blinds like a harp - are just as nerve-wracking when you're trying to get your beauty rest. So I did some research, got some ideas about correcting kitty behavior, and started some serious trial and error. I never realized how labor-intensive cats could be (she's my first, and I'm a dog person by

Married...With Money?

When we get married, we promise to be there for better or worse, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer...and that's the one that can often get dicey. Two separate people with two separate ideas about finances come together under one roof. This could be a recipe for disaster unless God is in the middle of all decisions. While decisions about spending, saving, investing and giving must be made as a team, there is one Biblical truth in all things. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Ephesians 5:23 Before women everywhere throw up their hands and run screaming from this blog, the financial implications of this verse are simple. Christian women are not to make major decision in the home without their husbands' input. They are the head of the home, not us. Going against this principle goes against Scripture, breaking our relationship with the Lord. Working together to make financial choices stre

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

When I first heard about hummus it seemed like some fancy- schmancy food that only vegetarians or lovers of organic foods would eat. It wasn't until I tried it at a local pizza place that hummus became a staple on my favorites list. Ingredients: one 15.5 oz can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained 6 oz (1/2 jar) roasted red peppers, chopped slightly 1 tbsp chopped garlic 1 tsp paprika 2 tbsp onion powder 1 tbsp course-ground black pepper 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil pita bread for dipping Combine first six ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add in olive oil. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving, or until firmer consistency. Serve with slices of pita bread, preferably toasted.

Seashells From The Seashore

When we came back from Myrtle Beach a few weeks ago, I took the pocket-full of seashells I had gathered and dropped them into a box with some others. As I closed the lid and turned away, I felt bad that no one else would see those pretty shells I'd found. Instead, I rescued them from their sad little box and gave them a place of honor in the middle of the dining room table. After cleaning them really well (use a weak bleach/water solution), I tucked and layered them into a bowl of teal glass marbles. Now they look like they're floating in the surf at the beach again. As summer approaches and you have some opportunity to gather shells yourself, or want something to do with the ones you've already collected, think about finding special places around the house for them. * Arrange them in sand around the base of a candle. * Fill a glass lamp with sand, marbles and shells. * Adhere some shells to the edge of a tray or picture frame. * Pile them into a small basket, then place on

Patience - Part 2

I have had one particular prayer request in my book for ages. I have bathed this request in prayer. I have talked with my husband in-depth about it and we are praying together. A couple of my closest sisters in Christ are praying with me about it. For months this prayer has gone before God's throne from several different lips. I have prayed, listened, waited, prayed about other things, gone about my daily walk and prayed some more. And still this particular request remains in my book, not crossed off or updated. My flesh says to forget about it, to accept that God doesn't want this request to come to fruition. It would probably be understandable if I moved on and used my energy for other things. And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer: and while they are yet speaking, I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 When I think that God's not listening, or perhaps has His machine on and will get back to me as soon as possible, I read His Word. The omnipresent God we serve

Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Technology?

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Red Cross with Danny while he gave blood. I have extremely low blood pressure so they don't let me within several yards of a needle. So I made a pit stop while I was waiting. While in the bathroom stall, I heard someone come in talking very loudly. She was deep in conversation about something terribly important and going to the restroom wasn't going to stop her. I heard another door shut and lock and then there was a pause in the conversation. And then she asked a question... And then there was a pause... And then she answered a different question... That's when I realized that she was talking on the telephone in the bathroom! Now I have bathroom phobias anyway, but that completely freaked me out! I had heard the Cathedrals' bass singer George Younce tell a similar story. I've even heard that someone I know does this on a regular basis. But it was the first time I had experienced it in person. There is no limit to where technolog

What Is Your Time Worth?

Have you ever considered your time as a precious, valuable commodity? There are only 24 hours in each day and the choices we make in how they're spent is super important. I've been thinking about this topic a lot lately, especially as I'm choosing prices for the items I sell on etsy. Not only do you consider how much your supplies cost, but you think about how long it took to make your item and how much your time is worth. It's not about pride. It's truly about the effort put into something someone would like to purchase and own. For example, if you needed your house cleaned, what would you pay someone to do it for you? How much is being able to use that time doing something else worth? If you needed some Christian greeting cards, what would you pay for someone to make them exactly like you wanted so you wouldn't have to search everywhere for them? (Go to and let me know!) So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto

That Noise On The Roof

Since the weather has been so warm and pretty lately, the girls and I have been spending on a lot more time outside. Danny made the neatest gate for the front porch so we can all sit out there together without chasing dogs around the neighborhood. Sometimes when I'm cleaning I'll send the girls out to the front porch so I can actually get something accomplished. (Though I do get extra exercise dancing around dogs lying on the floor.) So this week I sent them out like normal and let them wander around on the front porch for a few minutes. I had only been inside for a minute when I heard Bailey growling and Sadie barking like crazy. I automatically assumed that there was another dog walking past or the mailman had driven up. So I went out to lay down the law about being obnoxious. But when I got out there I saw Bailey just standing there like this. Sadie was dancing around the front door trying to get my attention while her big sister was fixated and making terrifying noises. So

The Benefits Of Being A One-Car Family

If you had told me a little over a year ago that we would be a one-car family, I would have laughed. There was no way we could survive without two vehicles. Then came the day that Danny's truck died in the parking lot of the funeral home. (Great irony, huh?) And then just a few days after that, the car refused to start, and we found out it needed a new engine. Needless to say a 10-year-old car wasn't worth a new part that serious. So both of our vehicles were gone and we bought a new one. We contemplated getting two used ones but finally decided we were more comfortable with a new one. One. Just one, not one for each of us. And this totally changed my thinking about a lot of spending matters. Being a one-car family has been fabulous for a number of reasons. 1. We've cut back to one car payment, one insurance payment and one vehicle registration. 2. Our budget for gas and car repairs has been cut in half. 3. We're more diligent in taking care of this car, saving money on

Can It Be Healthy And Taste Good?

Last week my wonderful loving husband did the most special thing I could ever ask - he took me to a grocery store I'd never been to. Several miles from where we live is a tiny local market with its own deli and many aisles of fresh and organic foods. Unfortunately I was not allowed to live there indefinitely. Fresh? Organic? Does that mean it's all green or brown with no taste? Look at this gorgeous spice cake and you tell me! It's made from a Namaste cake mix - completely free of gluten, wheat, soy, nuts, potato, corn, dairy, and casein. For someone with allergies (or just wants something healthy) this is the perfect option. This cake was the most moist, spicy dessert we've had in ages. I mixed in a large jar of mandarin oranges to up the health factor and it was the perfect combination. I ate two pieces the other night all by myself - does that negate the healthiness of it? I sure hope not! It's so important to take care of your body by being careful about what yo

Mulberry Paper Techniques

Last week I got adventurous and started digging through some old bags of scrapbooking supplies. It was like going to the scrapbook store and not spending a dime! There were so many things in there I'd forgotten I even owned! Treasure trove! One of the best finds of the day was a bag full of mulberry paper that I've had for at least six years. Mulberry paper is a handmade paper that shows every single fiber it was made with. The best characteristic of this special paper is that it is designed for tearing, not cutting, and it feathers its edges when torn. It's the perfect specialty paper for heritage or wedding pages, or when you want an extra touch for a layer on a card. To tear mulberry paper, all you need is a little water. Dip the tip of your first finger in water, then draw on the paper where you plan to tear. Once the paper is damp, put your hands on either side of the new "water mark" and pull away. The mulberry paper will still be a little wet, but the fibe

Patience - Part 1

Have you ever noticed that when you pray for patience, God will put you in situations where you need an abundance of patience? We just want the blessing of answered prayer - let us do what we want when we want, Lord, and we won't even have to worry about patience at all! We can't begin to imagine God's purpose behind having us wait on Him. Whether it's staying calm in busy traffic. being patient around cranky people in the checkout line or waiting to see where your walk with the Lord will take you, finding patience in today's world can be a challenge. Fortunately, God's Word has the answer to all our questions and can fulfill all of our daily needs. Even in the most frustrating of times, Scripture reminds us that there is a purpose for this moment, too. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 We often take this verse for granted and think that God will bless whatever

Unique Jewelry Storage

Last week I got frustrated while untangling some of my favorite jewelry. I knew the boxes I was keeping them in weren't big enough, and I had too much in them. I don't have a lot of space in our bedroom for any larger jewelry storage pieces, but I did have an empty drawer. These five little glass bowls came from the thrift shop and after cleaning them up I lined them up in the drawer with a handful of smaller boxes. The best part of these jewelry holders is that I can organize by color and style, and I can even hang my earrings from the rim of the bowl. They're all in full view and I browse quickly and easily in the morning. Try using matching glass pieces like I did, or combine a hodge-podge of different tea cups. Use both the cup and saucer to organize even more. If your dishes slip and slide in the bottom of the drawer, adhere a small piece of fabric or non-skid material to the stand of the bowl. Use your imagination to choose your favorite dishes and combinations of je

Choosing How You Spend Your Time

How do you choose how you'll spend your time this week? Do you balance your work time and your play time? Are there activities you participate in that you don't really enjoy? There are hundreds of choices for ways to spend your time in the upcoming seven days. You really have to make some decisions when you go beyond those wonderful and necessary activities: * Church * Work * School * Housework * Family together time * Relaxation Think for a minute about how you'll plan the rest of your time. What errands, meetings and gatherings do you have scheduled that you would rather not be doing? I'm not talking about the ones that you don't particularly like but are responsible for doing. I want you to specifically think about the things you do willingly without really knowing why. * A bowling league that you play on because someone asked you * A weekly lunch with someone who frustrates or aggravates you * Watching television or movies with no redeeming value * Volunteering

Cutting Your Dog's Claws Safely

When I got a pretty good scratch from one of the girls this week (her name will remain unspoken), it was time to trim some toe nails. It had been several weeks since we'd done this task, so it was beyond time. With 55-pound labs, it's not something I can do by myself. I can't wrestle, trim and be all pleasant-sounding at the same time. Danny, on the other hand, can lay them down, soothe them with his voice and be done clipping before they know it. So on Friday I ran the girls through their baths and then sat with them on the front porch while Danny did the actual trimming. (Such a blessing!) We put the girls on blankets for comfort and for easy clean up. We use the "guillotine" style of clippers which make a clicking sound as they cut. Sadie's not too fond of that noise, but Danny can calm her right down with his soft voice and a quick belly rub. I'm always afraid that I'll cut into the quick on their precious little toes, because you're supposed