Thursday, July 31, 2014

Chili And Cornbread

No recipe today, just a fun idea. I love making things other than waffles in my waffle maker. It's amazing how quickly you can cook or bake in it, and it's a multi-purpose tool in the kitchen.

So a while back I made some chili from a mix I found completely by random at the grocery store. Those are some of my favorite happy accidents - the ones you come across when you weren't really looking for. This chili was amazing - just add tomato paste and a little water. You could add meat if you wanted, but I didn't this time.

Instead of turning on the oven, waiting for it to heat and then being patient while the corn bread cooked, I made it in my waffle maker. It was ready in just minutes - and I have the waffle maker that spins and tells you when it's all done, so it was quick and easy.

The combination was amazing. I can't wait to see what else I can create in the kitchen that's a little unexpected.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What A Year!

Today, at 6:10 p.m. to be exact, I will turn 37 years old. Sometimes it seems like I've been around forever, and other times it seems like there's no way I could be in my late 30s yet. Regardless, I've been blessed beyond measure in each and every one of those years.

Over the past 12 months, I've learned a few very special things. It would be a wonderful birthday present to be able to share them with you today.

* God can be trusted in all things. ALL things. Leave your worry behind, have faith and trust the Lord to know exactly what's best for you.

* Your testimony is the most important thing in your life.

* It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks - it's what God thinks that matters.

* Don't put limits on God. He has bigger, better, more special things planned than you could every image.

* When you're stressed, overwhelmed or exhausted, it means that you're too far away from the Lord and too close to the world.

* Forgiveness changes everything.

* Just because you're uncomfortable doesn't mean you're not in the perfect will of God.

Celebrate my birthday with me today by saying a prayer that I will have a heart that craves God, a mind that centers on Him and a willingness to share the Gospel with those around me.

Who could ask for a better present than a sweet prayer?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Sketch

I love layers - they make a project look finished and thoughtful. There's nothing sillier than a single image on a piece of paper. But you'd never do that, right?

For this sketch, think two sets of layers, one on the outside and one on the inside. You can use the same solid colors for both sets or you can alternate them for some variety.

The two images at the bottom corner of the inside layers have so much potential - match the colors and theme of the patterned paper.

The phrase goes in the bottom corner, completing the pretty package.


For my card, I used four papers from a set - three solid colors and a pattern. The circle accents are punched from a coordinating paper with self-stick buttons at their center.

I love the possibilities here, as you can make the same card with different colors and patterns to make it look completely different.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Weekend of Walking the Walk

I love my workout shoes. They are UnderArmour, my favorite brand, they're pink and they're gray. They go perfectly with my workout clothes and they fit like glove - only for your feet!

Now, I have to admit that I don't wear them nearly as often as I should. (Translation: I'm not working out as much as I used to.) That's my fault, not scheduling as much time for exercise as I do everything else in my life.

I could still wear my workout shoes and look the part, though. No one would ever know that I wasn't working out every day - it would be easy to play the role of a gym rat. But wearing workout shoes doesn't mean that I'm working out.

This mentality works with my spiritual life as well. I can carry my Bible, be in church every time the doors are open and even write a blog on the Internet. But if I'm not walking the walk, I'm not the only one who would know.

Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. Deuteronomy 5:33

God gave His commands throughout the Bible for a reason - for us to follow. Walking the walk and actually obeying the commands we read takes us from simply wearing the shoes to actually getting a really great workout.

And when we do, we grow, we learn and we change from the inside out. That's how it will be well in our soul, as the verse above says. Just acting out a role won't change anything, but tying up those laces and putting in the work will change everything.

Make this a weekend of making sure you're walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

Friday, July 25, 2014

5 Ways To Painlessly Save Money

Let's say you have a financial goal - start small and dream big!

Maybe you want to save up for a vacation. Or you'd like to pay off your credit card before the end of the year. Perhaps you've got your eye on a new outfit and can't afford it right now. There's always something that you'd like to buy but it's just out of reach.

Here are 10 things you can do immediately to start setting aside some money, no matter how much you're trying to save up.

1. Trade eating out for eating at home. Make coffee, lunches and other meals at home, purposely planning on leftovers for the next day. Make every meal stretch.

2. Pick and choose what to spend. Would you rather have a latte from the shop next door every day this week or buy that new purse you have your eye on? Check out your priorities and work on your determination.

3. Reduce, reuse, recycle. The old age still applies - if you're looking to save money, start by reusing what you already have. You could probably find ways to recycle many things you've saved over the years, freeing up the money you would have spent buying them (or something like them but newer) again.

4. Save first, spend later. Pay yourself before you start spending your paycheck. Save a certain amount every week or from every paycheck and watch your savings account add up.

5. Turn the short-term into the long-term. Once you've reached your small goals, use the skills you've practiced to achieve something bigger. Yes, you know now that you can save a few hundred dollars in a short period of time. Now think about the grand scheme of things and save for something you never dreamed you could.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Key Lime Pie

Have you ever had a recipe that you wanted to try but were to intimidated to attempt? That's what happened with me and key lime pie.

It sounds like such a decadent specialty dish that only experienced chefs could perfect it.

But it's not!

Try this five-ingredient recipe and you'll wish it was summer all year round just so you can make this key lime pie again and again and again.

And by the way, I've learned that "real" key lime pies aren't green - they're pale yellow. The ones that are bright green have coloring added to make them more dramatic.

Ingredients:
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup lime juice
9" pie shell
fresh whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine milk, yolks and lime juice in a medium bowl, blending until smooth.

3. Pour into pie shell. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

4. When done, allow to stand for 10 minutes and then refrigerate.

5. Serve with whipped cream.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mini Coffee Cup Gift Card Holders

One of our Etsy customers asked me for a special order a couple of weeks ago, and it was a really great idea.

I have full-sized coffee cups in the shop that are large enough to hold a package of cocoa or tea mix. She wanted to know if I could make a miniature version that would hold a gift card.

My mind whirled - well, of course I could!

So I shrunk my pattern (let me know by email if you'd like one). Then I hand-embossed the white card stock that she was looking for and cut out 20 cups.

She wanted a coffee cup image, so I stamped and colored 20 of the images you see here. A little background color and it came out amazing!

Take a look at one of your crafts - one that you make all the time - and see if there's something new and different you can do with it. You might be surprised at what you're missing.

Come visit our Etsy shop at www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blessed Is...

Most people want practical, sensible answers when they read their Bible. It's not about feelings and nice stories, but learning exactly what God wants us to do with our lives.

So when I started a personal study on blessings, I was very surprised to see that God has once again spelled out in simple language what He expects from us.

Here are just a few of the answers to these questions:
* How are we blessed?
* Why does God bless us?
* What characteristics are there in people who are blessed?
* When are we blessed?

I've included the verses, and I encourage you to do some reading and studying on your own.

Blessed is:

- are those who are saved. (Psalm 32:1)

- are those who trust God implicitly. (Psalm 40:4)

- are those who are willing to learn. (Psalm 94:12)

- are those who are alert, listening and patient to hear what God has to say. (Proverbs 8:34)

- are those who are about the Lord's business. (Matthew 24:46)

- are those who are committed to God. (Luke 7:23)

- are those who are looking for Jesus' returning. (Revelation 16:15)

There are many, many more verses that have the "blessed is..." phrase in them. Do a word search or concordance study to find even more.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip

There's nothing better than cookie dough. Unless it's chocolate chip cookie dough.

Or chocolate chip cookie dough dip.

This is an incredibly rich, incredibly thick dip that is best served at room temperature. The cooler it is, the thicker and harder it is. So let it warm up a little before you try to dip.

I also recommend you put some of this in a bowl and put the rest in the fridge. If you don't, you'll end up eating the whole thing and you won't even realize it.

You've been warned.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved and it starts to simmer. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

2. Cream the cream cheese and powdered sugar, then add in the brown sugar and butter mixture.

3. Add chocolate chips. Refrigerate for about an hour. Then let it warm back up to room temperature before serving with animal crackers, graham crackers or anything else you want to make taste amazing.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Way The World Isn't

I read a quote the other day that was to be an encouragement to entrepreneurs: Don't see the world as it is, but as it isn't.

Without vision and without a mental picture of how things could be, nothing would ever change.

There would be no creativity, no art, no science, no experimentation. We would be exactly the same as we were yesterday.

Where's the excitement in that?

For we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is in God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

The spirit of the world says live for yourself. The spirit of God says live for the Lord.

The spirit of the world says do what makes you feel good. The spirit of God says do what pleases Him.

The spirit of the world says do whatever you have to do to reach the top. The spirit of God says to prefer others over yourself.

So if we decide to see the world as it could be, what would we see?

What would happen if we sent someone an encouraging card full of Scripture instead of patting them on the shoulder and hoping for the best?

What would happen if we stood up to the bullies of the world who put other people down to make themselves feel better?

What would happen if we used our time, money and talents exclusively to glorify God and His kingdom?

These are things created by the spirit of God, not of the world. Many of the people around us are so focused on themselves that they're not open to change or improvement. They're managing to get along just fine this way - why look at what's not happening in the world around them.

The power through God that Christians have to change the world is staggering - but we have to use it. We have to pray, take the steps necessary to enact the change and then step out of the way so God have full control - and then full glory.

Picture the way the world isn't and that will show you exactly where you're needed. We are each part of the body of Christ, each with our own gifts and strengths. God is working in our lives to make us the perfect tool for Him in the situations that arise in our daily lives.

So when you look at the world, do you see what is or are you looking for the way the world isn't?

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Sketch

Sometimes you need a simple design to make a big impression. That's the secret behind this week's sketch.

Choosing three small images or designs instead of one major focal point gives the card a very special, distinct look.

Mat everything on coordinating card stock for a finished look and some extra dimension.

Finish it off with the perfect phrase and a verse inside.





For my card, I punched three 1" circles and matted them on 1-1/4" circles of the same dark card stock I used for the background of the card. Using paper from sets makes this much easier - any time I don't have to think is lovely.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Visit www.stufffromtrees.etsy.com.