Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Sketch

I've only done cards with "ribbons" on them a couple of times, but I really like they way the paper strip looks on this sketch. (Please don't mock my drawing this time - I'm not the best draw-er of ribbons in the world.)

On this sketch, you'll have a solid color as the background and a busier print pattern on top. The paper strip will have a notch cut out of the bottom to make it look like a ribbon and will be made from a lighter color so the phrase stands out.

Let your imagination run wild with the embellishments. You'll want them to be a little bigger than normal so they'll stand out against the busy patterned paper and the plain-ness of the paper strip.
For my card, I used a very neutral color for the background and a textured autumn decorator paper on top of it. The paper strip has some texture to it, too, and has a notch cut out of the bottom to make it look like ribbon. (Just cut a square of paper and use it as a template.)

I used vellum stickers for the greeting, so the paper had to be a little lighter for it to stand out. Then it's accented with several paper flowers, layered and attached with black metal brads.

This card, along with many other cards, paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit us at

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Weekend Of Much-Needed Rest

By the end of the day, most of us are beyond ready to sink into a nice, comfy bed. The pillows call your name, and thinking about wrapping up in warm, fluffy blankets sounds wonderful. Oh, sleep. What a lovely notion, right?

So why is it so difficult to sleep well? Do you feel as tired when you get up as you did when you went to bed? Do you have difficulty falling asleep and then even more difficulty waking up? Or do you find it difficult to make time for sleep at all?

Society has conditioned us to forget about rest. Do more. Have more. Be more. Think more. Plan more. Enjoy more. You can't do anything of these things if you're resting.

In the busyness of our lives, we neglect the one thing that will actually keep us going - rest. And not just a power nap, even though that sounds amazing right about now. You are actually craving the rest that covers mind, body and soul.

Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest. Exodus 34:21

Yes, this is a verse about keeping the Sabbath day holy, but the second portion speaks to you today and each day of your busy week. Even when there is work to be done, like the planting and harvest seasons, rest is necessary. It's hard to be productive or efficient when you're too tired to think. When it seems like there's more to do than hours to do it in, even then it's necessary to rest.

Rest is not evil, it's not lazy and it's definitely not just something else to add to your to-do list so you can cross it off. It's about recharging your internal batteries and spending some much-needed time in the arms of the Lord.

Make this a weekend of rest. True rest. Do whatever it takes for you personally to recuperate in all aspects of your life. Make time to restore your relationship with God. Reintroduce yourself to your family. Shut your mind off for just a little while. Wind your way through your Bible reading at a leisurely pace.

You'll find that rest can make all the difference in the world.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Before You Go Autumn Home Decor Shopping ... Read This!

 Many stores in our area have autumn home decor out now. Of course they also have Christmas decorations, too, but that's just wrong.

Before you go shopping for new home decor for fall, do what I did - go on a scavenger hunt in your own house. This morning I emptied a closet and boxes in the basement to see what I already had. Why spend good money on something when you probably have something similar already. It's weird how that works.

And goodness, did I hit the jackpot. In just two boxes, I found a table full of autumn home decor that i forgot I even had. There were miniature hay bales, lots of fall flowers, leave and moss, plus several baskets and candles.

I also found some scarecrows, flower pots, a Boyds bear and some vase fillers. My cornucopia was still mostly put together from last year, and I found a pumpkin with thanksgiving Scripture on it. It was like Christmas, only it was autumn and I already owned it. Even better!

So the scarecrows and vase filler went into glass candle holders in a basket in the bay window of the dining room. I showed you how to put together the coordinating flower arrangement next to it in a post last week.

On the dining room table is my cornucopia - one of my favorite pieces. I wrapped it in fall leaves garland and filled it with more garland, flowers cut from their stems, pine cones and battery-operated tea lights.

The mini hay bales are on the hi-fi with an apple candle in the candle warmer, a glass vase full of rocks and another tea light, plus some tree branches Danny made into chairs. You'll also notice baskets everywhere - some are filled with books while others have kindling and flowers.

You might be surprised at what you have tucked away in drawers and closets that you can use for home decor. Go on a scavenger hunt of your own before you head off to the store to get stocked up. You can save tons of money by reusing and repurposing the things you've used in years past.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

When People Show Their Anger

They're everywhere - people who are just plain mad. If you work any kind of job, you'll meet them every day. You did - or didn't - do something and now they're ready to tell you that.Strongly. In no uncertain terms.

So how do you deal with these people? Hang up on them? Yell back? Glare at them until they melt into the floor?

Hopefully you would never go to these extremes, but the feelings are very real. Here are five ways that you can diffuse the situation and find a more peaceful resolution.

1. Pray. Even if it's just a couple of words to ask for wisdom for yourself and peace in the other person's heart. Prayer should be the first resort in any situation, not the last. This small act will calm you down and keep you from acting in a way you'll regret later.

2. Be kind. Ultra-kind. Extra-kind. It's tempting to meet fire with fire, but that just creates more fire. Only you can control fire - choose your words carefully and watch your tone of voice. What comes out of your mouth at this moment can make all the difference in the lives of two people, you and them.

3. Learn something. What worked in the confrontation? Were you able to say something in particular that diffused the situation? Did your tone of voice change things? How did God answer your prayer and how does He want you to move on from here?

4. Breathe. When we're in a tense situation, we're not really paying attention to the little things. In the heat of the moment, we'll hold our breath until we know what's going to happen next. Unfortunately, that makes us even more tense because our body actually needs more oxygen to function in a difficult situation. So the first opportunity you have, breathe. In for four counts and out for six. Always breathe out the bad longer than you're breathing in the good. You'll automatically relax.

5. Clear your mind. Don't replay the conversation over and over again in your head. Don't play out scenarios of what you should have said or could still say after the fact. Control your thought life instead of constructing fantasies - which is all they are - about being smarter or quicker or wittier. You'll only work yourself up and feel worse in the process.

While we can't control someone else's anger, we can control how we react. It can be a scary, tense and frustrating experience when we're faced with anger, but we can strengthen our testimony by dealing with it in a godly way and not reacting in equal anger.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Fall Paper Crafts For Upcoming Art Show

It's an exciting time around our house right now. We're going to have a booth at Walk On Art Street in mid-September, and we're crafting like crazy to have it fully stocked.

Danny's going to have his handmade pens along with lots of Christmas and other Christian-themed wood crafts. There are some gorgeous Christmas tree ornaments that will just knock your socks off.

And as you know, I'm in a fall frame of mind. And with the art show just before the first day of autumn, the timing works out perfectly.

So I've been putting together lots of pieces with a fall flair. These colors and textures are my favorites, so it's not like work at all. You'll recognize one of them from last weekend's sketch.

My favorite, though, is the first of several autumn notebooks. This one is a prayer journal, and there will also be praise journals and plain notebooks, each with some great Scriptures on the covers.

We'll have quite a variety of cards and gifts in the booth, but it will be nice to start off the fall season with something special.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What Overcoming An Obstacle Does For Us

This weekend I was able to attend the Ottumwa YMCA's Survivor 5K Challenge again. I absolutely adore this event and hope Danny gets to run it next year. He had to work this weekend or he would have been right out there doing this totally awesome mud run.

You notice I didn't say I would be running it. I hurt myself just trekking across a field. It wasn't pretty.

As if a 5K isn't challenging enough, they add nine obstacles along the route. This year they ranged from a tub filled with 1,000 pounds of ice to a muddy swamp that had to be traversed. At one point they carried logs, and later they had to belly crawl under barbed wire. Watching from the sidelines, it seemed like a great race spoiled by extra effort, but that's just me.

I was covering the race for the paper, so I talked to several of the runners afterward and was surprised to hear one conversation. One runner happened to mention that he was starting to slow down until after the huge wall. He got his second wind after that, he said, and many others agreed.

There was something about conquering each obstacle that gave them the oomph they needed to get to the next one. And the next one. And so on until the end of the race.

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3-5

As we run the race of life, we're going to get tired and we're going to face obstacles. Scripture tells us that not only will we not face them alone, but we will overcome them by the grace of God. Scaling one obstacle and leaving it in our dust gives us the confidence to go on and face the next one. With God help, we'll get through that one, too. And the next one. And so on until the end of the race.

So run the race the lord has set out before you. When you reach the next obstacle, know that He is there to cheer you on, to give you a leg up and celebrate with you when you're on the other side. And that will motivate you to never give up and keep on running.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Sketch

Here's a chance for you to stretch your creativity a little bit. You probably look at this sketch and wonder where the rest of it is. Everything you need is right there - the rest is up to you.

All I'm giving you is a background, a stripe and a focal point. What more do you need?

Think about color combinations, a great image and something special to tie the whole thing together.

Where does your imagination take you?

I'm in an autumn mood right now, so my example is my tribute to fall. All of the papers are textured, which really makes it pop.

Plus, my focal point, three die cut leaves, are tied together with a small piece of thin twine. adding lots of great dimension.

The something extra is a verse, accented with a die cut acorn. It fit perfectly in the space while keeping everything in balance.

Have fun with this one!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Fall Flowers From The Dollar Store

I'm beyond ready for fall. It's been a fairly cool summer, but it would still be nice to feel that chilly bite of autumn first thing in the morning.

Fall is my favorite time of year. I love the colors and I love all the things that happen in nature when it starts getting cold.

I started my autumn decorating this weekend with a very simple floral arrangement - and it's even better because everything I used in it came from the dollar store.

If you're choosy, you can find some really great bargains at the dollar store. The home decor section is one of them, but you really have to pay attention. The flowers themselves can be a little beaten up because they're made of lower quality fabric. They look great, so pick ones that aren't bent or misshapen. Also make sure everything is intact and accounted for.

For my arrangement, I picked out three flower stems, each one with two different kinds of flowers on it. They're a mix of plain flowers and some berries and leaves. Look for those instead of plain flowers because they're better for mixing and matching.

I also got a metal bucket and some moss. I already had some floral foam at home, so I just broke it up and put it in the bottom.Then I put a layer of moss in and started with my flowers. I always cut them off the thick bottom stem so I can do more with them. There's nothing sillier than a stem of flowers stuck in a vase.

So this adorable little autumn floral arrangement cost me a total of $5. I love it!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Grumbling And Complaining

Please, Lord, forgive me for the times when my response to your prefect will is complaining. Instead, instill in me a heart that sees your hand moving across everything that happens in my life.

There are days when I wake up bitter and with grumbling in my heart. Make those the days that I seek you from the very moment my eyes open. Help me cling to you when bitterness seems easier.

Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

It's easy to murmur, Lord, just as it was for the people of Israel in the desert. Please remind me of how toxic complaining is and how that must be removed far from me to ensure close fellowship with you.

Help me not to allow grumbling and complaining to ruin my testimony.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Strengthen me and give me wisdom, Lord, to turn my complaining nature into one of rejoicing and praise. There are more blessings in my life than I could ever list, simply because you delight in me.

Make the first thoughts I have each day be of you - how you have provided, blessed and worked in great and mighty ways once again. This is the moment that you have given me - I will rejoice in it.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11

The desire of my heart, Lord, is to purge my heart of grumbling and complaining and replace them with joy and praise and laughter. You delight in me - I want to delight in you.

Your promises are new every morning, and I will rejoice in how you make them come to pass.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A Weekend of Recognizing Your Blessings

There are people in our community that don't have a home. I know because I read the public records every day as part of my job. There are children who live in shelters, their family car and the park instead of a house. There are people living under bridges and those who don't know where they'll sleep tonight.

Right here in our own backyard.

This makes me acutely aware of the blessings God has given me. I have no right to take my home for granted when others have none. I have transportation, food, clothes, lights, heat and air conditioning. All of my comforts are taken care of, as are all of my needs. This is simply by the grace of God.

Beyond that, I have more good health than many people I know. I have been blessed with family while others are alone. God has given me more than I could ever have asked for and more than I ever deserved.

For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring: And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. Isaiah 44:3-4

Make this a weekend of recognizing your blessings. We are blessed beyond measure by a God Who is able to do exceedingly above all we could ask or think. When you're tempted to be discouraged or complain, take two minutes to look around you and name the blessings the Lord has rained down on you.

It will change your perspective on everything.

God is good. All the time.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Standing Out In The Crowd

While at a meeting last week, someone raised the shades on the window. Glancing out into the bright, sunshiny day, this tree grabbed my attention.

And you can see why. It's taller than the others. It's a different shape and completely lacking what all the others around it have - leaves!

I don't know if anyone else in the room noticed this tree, but I definitely did. It stood out in the crowd like no other could.

Someone else might look at it and say it's just a dead tree. It does look much like the Charlie Brown tree in that classic Christmas show. They might even go cut it down to make that area look prettier and more well-kept.

What is there in you that makes you stand out in the crowd? Nothing naturally. That's why the world is so intent on looking like everyone else - so you won't stand out, be ridiculed or noticed. Just blend in. Be like your friends. Be careful not to be too different.

That's a sad way to live when Scripture tells you you're special.

And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldst take them out of the world, but that thou shouldst keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. John 17:13-18

When someone is different, they stand out. When someone has something different, they stand out.

You and I have something inside us that is completely different from the world - Jesus Christ. That's why we can't fade into the wallpaper or blend into the carpet. We will be noticed - not because of who we are, but because of Who lives inside us.

I don't mind looking like the giant, bare tree in the middle of the green forest below. As long as my Lord is the One being reflected, it's alright to be front and center.

Then I can give Him all the glory and honor and praise. He is so worthy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Amish Cinnamon Bread

I saw this several times on Pinterest recently and had to give it a try. It was pinned by several people from several different websites, so I'm not sure who to credit - but thank you!

This is an incredibly easy, incredibly tasty recipe. It's moist and sweet - the perfect combination. Serve it just slightly warm and you'll probably make it through a whole loaf before you realize it.

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
4 cups flour
2 tsps baking soda
2/3 cups sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans.

2. Cream butter, sugar and eggs. Add milk, flour and baking soda.

3. Mix 2/3 cup of sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

3. Put 1/4 of the batter in each loaf pan, then split 3/4 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture between the two pans. Split the rest of the batter between the two pans and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mix.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

5. Cool in pan for 20 minutes before removing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Get Ready for Back to School Crafts

We're in those final few days until school starts. Everyone is stocking up on supplies, getting in one last vacation and picking out the perfect back to school outfit.

You can also put some back to school touches on your paper crafting now, too. Choose some really great themed elements and make them front and center.

Patterned paper can make a great background or it can be used for just a touch of color. Some strategically placed letters will make any card school-themed.

What are your students favorite parts of school? Use them to make a special, personalized card just for them. Include favorite classes, lunches, friends and activities as the theme for your card.

And you definitely don't have to stick with cards. Decorate a notebook for them to take to school. Wrap up a pen and pencil set. Coordinate all their school supplies or make a special, one-of-a-kind piece.

The cards and notebook here can all be found in our Etsy shop. Visit for more cards, paper crafts and wood gifts.