Showing posts from January, 2014

Words for Wednesday


When All You Need Is A Cookie

What's a woman to do when she just NEEDS a cookie?

She could go buy a whole package of cookies - and then eat the whole package of cookies. Or she could go without a cookie - and that is a sad place to be.

Better yet, she could make a single cookie in a cup in just a couple of minutes. That sounds like a plan to me ... and much less tempting than having a whole package sitting around.

1 Tbsp melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

1. In a bowl, combine ingredients in the order they're listed.

2. Transfer cookie dough into a cup. Microwave for 60 seconds.

3. Eat as is or add some lovely toppings.

You Are Loved So Much

Every woman has moments in her life when she feels about two inches tall.

Maybe it's feeling unappreciated, put down or neglected. People can poke at us, prod us and drive us insane with their words and actions - or lack thereof. There are some who do it unwittingly while other are purposely trying to crush our spirit.

Some days it's dealing with angry people at work. Other days it's friends and family who mean well but step on more than just your toes. Or complete strangers say and do the things in their hearts, not realizing who and what they're breaking.

These hostilities make us wonder if there's anyone out there who loves us. Sure, people say the words, but we often wonder if it's really true.

Are we all alone? Is there anyone left who loves us completely?
Without question?
For all eternity?
to the ends of the earth?

Take a few minutes to read and you'll soon discover the truth, the truth that will set you free:

You are SO loved ... John 3:16
You ar…

Sunday Sketch

One of the characteristics of a great sketch is its flexibility. A good sketch will work for a card or two, but a great sketch can be used time and again in different themes and colors.

This is the perfect example of such a sketch. Imagine, if you will, a basic background that can change color for your event or holiday. The main block is an image that gives a clear picture of the theme. Behind that is a strip that gives more punch and six small images that can rotate through all of the typical thematic elements.

For my card, I prepared for the season of love in true Valentine's style - there's no mistaking this theme. The background is double matted in dark pink and a light pink pattern. Subtlety is important when layering patterns of similar colors.

The banner in the middle is simply a card stock phrase mounted on a long strip of white. The ends each have a triangle snipped out, creating the banner look.

Each pattern is very specifically Valentine's Day - the hearts, rib…

A Weekend Of Attention

At this time of the year, the deer in our woods are much more alert than normal. It's quieter because of the snow, so they're much more careful.

If you watch them as they walk, they are very aware of the world around them. Their adorable ears are constantly moving and their big eyes take in everything they can. No detail goes unnoticed.

And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction. 1 Corinthians 7:35

Make this a weekend of attention - attention to the Lord without distraction. There are enough little things happening these two days that could easily draw us away from our time with God. Instead of charging through the weekend, let's be just as attentive as these deer. Focus on the important things - time with the Lord - and see what blessings He has in store for you.

Savior, Like A Shepherd

No one knows the sheep of the field better than their shepherd. He knows what's best for them, what their individual personalities are and what they need to keep them safe and happy.

Another shepherd could come in, but the relationship would be totally different. They don't know each other or trust each other because there is no foundation to build upon.

I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15

As the sheep of God's field, we are protected and led by the Good Shepherd. He knows us personally and knows us better than we know ourselves. He has known us from the foundation of the world, and He knows every hair on our head - what a magnificent and soothing thought.

Jesus Christ knows us so well that He knows what blessings we need and when we need to be poked a little. Just like the shepherd in the field, there is a balance between tender affection a…

Three-Ingredient Berry Cobbler

When it's cold and windy outside, there's nothing more comforting than a warm berry cobbler. Add a couple of dollops of ice cream and you're set!

Better yet, this cobbler uses just three ingredients and takes just about 45 minutes. So within an hour, you'll have a dreamy dessert to fight off the chill.

two bags of frozen berries (I used a bag of basic mixed fruit, plus half a bag each of raspberries and blueberries)
one box of your favorite cake mix (I used french vanilla)
a 20-ounce bottle of Sprite

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Pour a single layer of frozen berries into a 9x13 inch glass baking dish.

3. Evenly cover the top of the berries with the cake mix.

4. Pour the Sprite over the cake mix, making sure it all gets covered. If any mix is sticking out over the top of the Sprite, it will remain uncooked and powdered. Stir it a little bit if you need to.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until it's all bubbly and browned on th…

Words for Wednesday


Preparing For Trials

Trials and difficult times come out of nowhere. There is no sign or warning or time for preparation, letting us know that a trying time is coming.

It's often difficult to think or reason when you're in the middle of a crisis. Time moves too fast or too slow - your mind becomes jumbled just attempting to function normally. You may even be physically sick or mentally exhausted. The key is to be learning, studying and growing now before the trouble comes.

You wouldn't sit down in a classroom and take a test without studying, just assuming you'll pass on blind luck. You spend countless hours reading and memorizing and learning so that when the day of the test arrives, scheduled or not, you'll have all the resources you need to be successful.

The same principle applies to tests in your personal life. The more preparing you do in God's Word now, the easier it will be find victory over the obstacles set before you.

Here are just a handful of verses to get you started…

An Afternoon Walk In The Woods

There's nothing better to do during a heat wave than go for a walk in the woods.
And by heat wave, I mean it was 45 degrees - an actual heat wave in southern Iowa right now.
It's a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon in January.

A walk in the woods means we let the girls off their leashes and meander behind them as they traipse through the 33 acres of woods surrounding the house. Along the way, we test the ice on the pond, look for tracks and see what else might be left behind by animals walking through the snow.

It is absolutely gorgeous in the woods right now. The sunshine hasn't melted everything up there yet, so there are plenty of smells for the girls and plenty of sights for Danny and me.

We've got some ideas for springtime, things we'd like to add and change and take out of those trails. It's so much fun to talk and dream and think and walk and enjoy the girls.
And you can tell our ages, too. Bailey turned 12 right after Christmas, and she's sta…

Sunday Sketch

I absolutely adore this sketch. It's so versatile and easy to be creative with. It's very, very simple, which makes it full of possibilities.

The lefthand side is a border - a border of whatever you'd like. It could be lots of different sizes of the same image, many colors or shapes, or maybe just a layered paper border of a pattern.

Like I said - it's full of possibilities.

The phrase or focal point is in the bottom corner, accented with one more of those embellishments. This leaves the upper righthand corner empty, drawing the eye down the side and across the bottom.
In my card, I used coordinating shades of blue, including the images along the side. This was the fun part - finding everything in pretty shades to go together. I also ink-distressed all of the edges so they would stand out from each other.

The second background layer also has two rounded corners for a little added interested. Now that I look at it, I would probably make this top layer a lightly patter…

BBQ Chuck Roast

I've been in a meat kind of mood lately. I'm really making an effort to cut out all the sweets and extras we've been eating in our house and do some great, tasty meals.

This BBQ chuck roast is the perfect way to do that. It's fairly effortless and is just full of flavor. Choose a roast with some good marbling and you're set! Plus, it's an easy slow cooker recipe, so set it and go.

4-5 pound boneless chuck roast
Montreal chicken seasoning
olive oil
1 can root beer
1 can red chile enchalada sauce
3 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1/4 cup water or milk

1. Heat 2-3 Tbsp olive oil in a cast iron skillet. While it's heating, coat the roast with Montreal chicken seasoning. Sear the meat on all sides.
2. Place the meat in the bottom of the slow cooker and turn it to high.
3. Mix the root beer, enchalada sauce, Worchestershire sauce and hot sauce in a bowl. Pour mixture over the meat and cover.
4. Cook in slow cooker…

Words for Wednesday


Taking On A Wood Burning Project

I've been up to my ears in special orders for Etsy over the past few weeks, and it's been phenomenal! I love getting to be creative and make some special cards for some very special people.

But after a while, I can't focus on paper anymore. I'm a self-described paper addict, but I have my limits some days.

So I wandered out of my comfort zone and into Danny's. I asked him to cut me some wood rounds, the coasters you get from slicing a large branch, and teach me how to use his wood burning pen.

Now, I've seen him use it many, many times. And he's made a lot of amazing wood gifts for people by wood burning. I, however, have never tried this before.

He readily agreed and walked me through how to use it safely and effectively. I didn't realize how intricate it can be to use or how easily you can ... ummm ... change your project mid-stream.

But it's so much fun. I've been practicing on some easy patterns, like snowflakes and writing, but there are s…

The Dangers of Overplanning

Lists are wonderful, beautiful organizational tools. They make life simpler and keep us from having to remember and rehearse things in our head. Or at least that's the idea, anyway.

I'm a list-maker. I love seeing everything that I need to do or get or see all in one place, and I love to cross things off my list when they've been accomplished. There is personal satisfaction in that to me.

But, like anything else, too much of a good thing can be destructive. As much as I love lists, I'm learning that relying on them too much - and going overboard - can actually make things worse.

On Friday morning, I made a list that would get me through the entire weekend. On the Saturdays and Sundays that Danny has to work, I close myself up at home to get some major things accomplished. It's my time to be productive and do some things that I've been putting off.

So here is this entire weekend ahead of me on Friday. My list included getting caught up on some blog posts, method…

Sunday Sketch

A card doesn't have to be intricate and time-consuming to be special and beautiful. A simple layout and gorgeous colors make all the difference - not slaving over a craft table for hours on end.

This sketch is basically three layers for the background - two solids and a pattern - and then three coordinating blocks behind the focal point.

For each piece, you want to make sure there is lots of layering to add depth and color all over this card. Without that technique, you've got boring paper on paper, which seems a little silly.

For my card, I used a coordinating set of blue papers. Starting with the back aqua layer, I matted my way up to the light blue patterned background.

I'm not big on measuring, mostly because I don't like numbers, so I eyeballed the three panels in the middle of the card. If you're more of a perfectionist, you can always measure the space, divide by three and subtract the margins. Yeah, I'm happy making my best guess.

The verse I chose is on…

A Weekend of Finding Forgiveness

If you're like me, you've failed this week.

Not to be depressing, but I've failed over and over again. They weren't huge, end-of-the-world failures, but I still feel terrible about how I've fallen short of God's expectations.

Keep me as the apple of the eye; hide me under the shadow of thy wings. Psalm 17:8

God is always waiting to forgive and move on. Imagine yourself as the apple of His eye, a special child that He loves to love. The shadow of His wings covers, protects and comforts when you've strayed away.

Make this a weekend of finding forgiveness. Whatever it is that's kept you from being everything you need to be, get rid of it. Ask forgiveness from God and forgiveness from those around you. Then turn your heart back to the Lord and find the peace that only He can give.

I pray we'll all purge our lives of anything that separates us from close fellowship with the Lord.

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Pecans

After playing around with several different versions and recipes, I've finally figured out my favorite cinnamon sugar pecans. And the biggest surprise, to me anyway, was that I ended up liking brown sugar on my pecans more than regular white sugar. I never would have guessed the difference brown sugar would make.

What you'll need:
1 egg white
3 Tablespoons ground cinnamon (I used my favorite Indonesian Korintje cinnamon.)
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 pounds pecans

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Generously spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. I used a 9x13 cake pan and it worked really well.

2. Beat the egg white in a large bowl until it's all foamy. The add the cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and water. Mix it all together until it's smooth.

3. Add in the pecans, stirring until they're all completely coated. Spread on the baking sheet and pour any leftover syrup over the top.

4. Bake in a 250-degree oven for an ho…

Words for Wednesday


Sunday Sketch

It's so much to do things outside of your comfort zone - especially when you're doing paper crafts!

Numbers and measurements scare me. I like words and I like eye-balling things. That's what makes something look wonderful and homemade.

But a sketch like this doesn't have to be intimidating. And you don't HAVE to measure, although it helps sometimes. The quilt blocks make this an incredibly pretty card, and you can use a variety of coordinating patterns and colors to tie it all together.

Start with one block in one corner and use that one piece to measure out your other ones. That way you don't have to start adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing ... shudder.

To make my card, I actually started with the bird on the "Polaroid" in the middle. Then I was able to make the blocks behind it in the right proportions. And that made the bottom two blocks easy because I just had to use the leftover space and mat my phrase inside it. Sometimes working bac…

A Weekend of Making Tracks

One of the great things about living in the country when it snows is that you can finally see what's in the woods around you. We don't have night vision goggles, so the tracks left in the snow and on the ice give us a little glimpse into who's out there.

Their snow prints show us a little bit about who they are, where they're coming from and where they're going. The little ones coming up to the back door this morning don't excite me very much (Danny says it's just a cat, but I think it's polar bear), but the ones on the ponds fascinate me. They're large enough that I can see them from the upper deck.

Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:10

Just like those animals walking through the snow, we're leaving a trail behind us, too. Every day that we walk through life as a daughter of the King, we're making impressions on the people we meet. The question…

Kitchen Storage Revamped

Now that the holidays are over, I'm rearranging the furniture.

And it's a chain of events. Moving one piece meant moving something else which led to rearranging another piece and finding new places for something else.

So here's the first part of the chain. I needed a place to put all of my cookbooks ... and there are a lot of them. (I'll explain why they had to be moved in another post.)

But in order to have this entire cabinet available, I had to rearrange half the kitchen. Maybe I'm the only one who's ever done this, but when we moved in, I just unloaded boxes and put things where I assumed they would be handy. Unfortunately, that's not the case two years later.

So all of the kitchen bits that I had on these four shelves found new homes. And they're homes that make a little more sense. That meant I had these super-deep shelves to put my cookbooks. On three of them, there are either more cookbooks behind them or some kitchen equipment that I rarely us…

The Carrell Dessert Competition

A few days ago, I challenged Danny to a dessert competition. We each had a spice cake basket shell that I made with my new cake pan.

The  challenge was to create the best dessert using that shell and anything we had in the house - no going out and getting more. Hmmm...

For mine, I put in two scoops of vanilla ice cream and added mini chips and a chocolate syrup drizzle. I was so pleased - it looked pretty and smelled so good. I'm a sucker for a great spice cake.
And then my husband showed me what he made.

First, he put a spoonful of frosting into the bottom of the shell and heated it up. That way, when he put the ice cream in, the frosting would be all melted and flow over the edges. On top of that, he added candy raspberries, mini peanut butter cups, mini chocolate chips and chocolate syrup.
I know when I've lost. And yes, I stole a couple of his ideas the next night!

Words for Wednesday - Happy New Year!