Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Perfect Fall Apple Chips

OK, so it's almost 90 degrees outside here in southeast Iowa today, but it's fall in my heart!

And what says fall better than apples? Here's a quick and easy recipe for apple chips that will give you something fun and different to do with all those autumn delicacies.

Use a mandolin to make evenly sliced apples. You can make them as thin or as thick as you like, but these pictured here were almost too thin. A little thicker would have been perfect.

Then mix your favorite combination of cinnamon and sugar together in a plastic baggie. This makes it super easy to get it all stirred up and yummy. I used the cinnamon we got in Des Moines at a great spice shop called allspice. They're fresh and wonderful and tasty, making this mix all the more perfect.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Then lay out your apple slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Bake them for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the thickness of your apple. Start with the shorter time and check them frequently.

Once they come out of the oven, just put them on a cooling rack for a minute and they'll be ready to eat! Try some caramel dipping sauce with them if they seem a little too healthy for your personal taste.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Scrappy Card

When you walk into your craft room, do you see more scraps than full sheets of paper? If so, not only does that mean you're being incredibly creative, it also means that you've got lots of leftovers to do something with.

Many times it's easier to start a new project with new supplies than it is to use up what you've already got. Herein lies the challenge to make use of all those scraps!

I'm finished making fall cards for the season, but I have TONS of bits and pieces left. So I put together this scrappy card in just a couple of minutes using those bits. I would probably never have come up with a layout like this if I hadn't decided to use my scraps instead of just throwing them out or tucking them away again.

So, are you ready to take the scrappy card challenge? Make an entire project using nothing but leftover pieces and see where your creativity leads you.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Weight of Your Words

I had the wonderful opportunity to help a friend at her craft show booth this weekend. She did really well and got her name out to a lot more people, and it was a great time of fellowship - just a really great day.

It was interesting, though, to just sit and people watch. There are several places that are perfect for people watching - airports, malls and amusement parks come to mind immediately. But this craft show was a new experience for me, maybe because I wasn't so stressed with selling my own things this time.

There was much to be learned from listening to the conversations floating around that day. Apparently people don't realize that you can be heard even when you're outside. I definitely wasn't eavesdropping - I had no choice to hear some of what I heard.

And to tell you the truth, I was a little surprised at what I heard. While I learned more about southern Iowa crop conditions than I ever wanted to know, I also learned how thoughtless people can be with their words. One moment a vendor was chatting it up with a customer, and the next minute she was mocking them for the things they said, wore and believed.

Other people were incredibly pushy, both selling and buying. I heard several customers around and about the building say they could do better, prettier, cheaper or nicer work than what they had just seen. And I know that if I was hearing it, other people were, too.

Our words are weighty, powerful things. This is good and bad - we can use them to uplift or we can use them to tear down. The choice is ours alone.

There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health. Proverbs 12:18

I don't know about you'd but I'd much rather be life and health that cause the piercing of a heart. We just need to weigh our words carefully before they come out of our mouths.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Choice To Be Happy

The other day, I walked into a store and there was a group of people talking in the checkout line.

One man said, "I decided at the first of the year that I'm not going to be angry anymore. It's been eight months now, and I'm the happiest that I've ever been."

A friend told me this weekend, "I pray: Lord, put a smile on my face until there's one in my heart."

These two experiences have rocked me to my core. I know I've let the joy in my heart slip a little recently. I know that I've been so busy that I can hardly keep my eyes open, let alone hold a smile on my face.

It's not easy to smile and be happy. The world we live in makes it very difficult to be pleasant and loving and compassionate. By the time our day is over, it would be understandable if our bottom lips dragged the ground.

But we have a choice. Like that man in the checkout line, we can choose to let go of whatever is holding us back. We can determine in our own hearts to set negativity aside and smile our way through the day. It's not an easy choice, but it's an amazingly fruitful choice.

I was actually told at work today that I was too happy - that I was being too nice to people when they call.

That's my choice.

And I choose, moment by moment and day by day, to be happy in the Lord.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Feeling Like Fall

The leaves are beginning to turn colors on the hill across the pond. It's just on the very edges and very subtle, but it's there! Autumn is almost here!

So to celebrate, we're filling our Etsy shop with tons of fall. There are pumpkins and leaves and fish and those really amazing autumn colors. If this is your favorite time of year, you'll fall in love with all the new cards and notebooks.

This is also the time to stock up on cards for guys. Fall colors are great masculine colors, too, plus there are some great fishing and outdoors themes.

If you're ready to move on to cooler temperatures and deep, cozy themes, visit our Etsy shop at www.stufffromtrees,

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Lemon Shrimp

Are you ready to make the most yummy shrimp ever - with just four ingredients and in about 20 minutes?

I made this lemon shrimp for Danny and his parents the other night, and I only had enough left for one tiny lunch the next day. It's just that good.

two bags of frozen shrimp, thawed
one stick of butter
one lemon, sliced
Italian seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. In a pan with sides, melt the stick of butter in the oven.

3. Place the slices of lemon in the butter to cover the bottom of the pan. (For an extra lemon kick, you can add a little lemon juice, too.)

4. Add the shrimp on top of the lemon slices and coat with a thin layer of Italian seasoning. (Or a thick layer - personal choice...)

5. Cook at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until all of the pink is gone.

Serve over rice or pasta or just dip in a little cocktail sauce.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Promises of God

In the middle of my deepest REM sleep Sunday morning - you know, that early time when you're sleeping better than you have all night - the power went out.

That wouldn't have been a big deal, except that half the electronics in the house started beeping, including the smoke detector across the hall. I was immediately awake and not incredibly coherent.

And then my mind kicked in full force. I had to get ready for church. Danny had to get ready for church. His parents had to get ready for church. And we all needed coffee. And I had to do my hair. How was all of this going to happen if the power didn't come back on in time?

It seems like a silly thing now, but I was laying in bed starting a pretty good panic attack. I just wanted a smooth Sunday morning, one in which we could get up in plenty of time, effortlessly get around and make it to services without sprinting down the aisle during the opening hymn.

The girls let me know that I needed to be up regardless - mostly to take care of their needs - so I said one more prayer and rolled out of bed.

And stepped outside.

There was a huge, dark, amazingly beautiful double rainbow right over our house. It was absolutely breath taking, and the girls and I stood there for quite some time just looking at it.

Then I took the girls back inside and I walked around the entire house taking pictures of it from every angle. The complete bow was there, starting over the big pond and ending right over the top of my favorite tree. I'm planning on putting a panoramic photo together so I can see the whole thing - something I wasn't able to physically do with the camera.

Imagine if I had stayed in bed and finished out that panic attack. I could very easily have stayed there and suffered until the power came back on. That would have been a wasted hour in light of the beauty that God hung in the sky for me.

 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature that is upon the earth. Genesis 9:16

That promise of love and protection is still symbolized with the rainbow. It was definitely the encouragement that I needed for the day. The Lord has everything under complete control. Nothing is going to happen today that hasn't first gone through His filtering hands. And He has plans to grow me and use me in ways that I can't even comprehend.

My home is under that rainbow. My family is there, my heart is there. That's worth getting out of bed for.