Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Special Bedtime Drink

After a long fall day, you'll love relaxing with this simple, tasty cup of warmth. Four ingredients and a couple of minutes combine for a soothing drink to wipe all your cares away.

Heat 1 1/2 cups of almond milk just until it starts bubbling. Stir in about a tablespoon of honey until it melts in. Then add a splash of vanilla and mix it all up.

Top it with a sprinkle of cinnamon and you're ready to go. Find a great place to curl up and enjoy this lovely fall drink.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Our Walk On Art Street Experience

We had an absolutely fabulous day at Walk On Art Street Saturday. The weather was a little iffy, so it was moved indoors, but there were still hundreds of people coming through to view all the different booths. We were so busy at times that we couldn't even talk to everybody.

I put our Etsy shop on vacation and took everything I had to the show. I marked each basket with the different categories of cards and put up one sign with all the sizes and their prices. I also had notebooks, journals and several kinds of magnets.

Having different levels for people to look at worked really well, too. Next year I want to make even more heights, like using a tiered structure of some kind at one end of the table. That will make it a little more interesting to look at.

On the other side of the booth, Danny made an amazing shelving unit out of pallets and edged it with leafy garland. From that he hung his scroll saw ornaments and put out his wooden puzzles. On the table he arranged his pens, carved chairs and a pretty amazing desk set.

For the next show, we'd like to have a little more variety of items so there is more reason to keep people in the booth longer. It's nice to have this experience under our belt so we can have even more fun at the next one.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hello Molly Jo!

Last Saturday I was the weekend reporter and was out at the college covering a fundraising walk. The Heartland Humane Society was there with dogs that were up for adoption. That's when I saw her for the first time.

With the name "Jade," she was the prettiest puppy at the event. She's a 10-month-old Great Dane-German Shepherd mix. I was in the middle of an interview when she came up behind me and poked me in the back. Yes - she's that tall.

Several people said they would take her home, but they just didn't have enough room. We do! I called Danny and we decided to go meet her. So within five days of seeing her, she was ours.

We changed her name to Molly Jo in the truck on the way home. Once out of her crate and on the driveway, she was already at home. She is about as tall as she's going to be, but she will fill out more. She was rejected by a couple of different families because of her size, and she has some scarring on her legs. I don't need to know the details - I just know she's going to be loved.

Despite her size, she is very much a puppy. We're working with her on her manners and how to treat 12-year-old black labs with respect.

The girls are getting used to her, though Bailey will still growl if Molly invades her personal bubble. Molly is much higher energy than the girls, so we're still getting used to that, too.

We're also having to puppy-proof the house to a higher level - literally. We can't leave things out on table tops because she's already very, very tall. Normally you can pick things up a couple of feet off the floor when you have a 10-month-old puppy, but with Molly it takes a little more.

But we're already in love. Puppy love. Molly Jo Carrell-dog love. She's home.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Getting Ready For The Craft Show

As you read this, Danny and I are getting ready for Walk on Art Street, Ottumwa's outdoor arts and crafts show, which is this Saturday. I've done several craft shows in the past, but this is the first time we've done this show and the first time we've done a show together.

I've put our Etsy shop on vacation and pulled out everything I could possibly find and spread it all out on the kitchen table. I'm going to display the cards in baskets with one or two kinds per basket - special occasions together, sympathy, thank yous, praying for you. I've been trying to get 20 of each category in the shop, but I didn't realize just how many cards I had made.

 There are plenty of other paper crafts ready besides cards. I've got altered board books and paper bag albums. I found several different kinds of notebooks and journals, and there are magnets and drink mix gift cards - those are the coffee cups on the right hand side of the picture.

There seems to be something that I'm missing, but Danny thinks I have plenty. I just want to make sure we have a variety of samples of our work so people who don't know us can really see what we're all about.

Danny's been working hard on animal puzzles and Christmas ornaments. I love these little chairs - they're perfect for my Boyds bears. All of them can be made to order if someone sees them at the show and wants something similar but special.

What I love about our work is that it's all one of a kind. If you get one of Danny's pens or one of these altered binder clips, you can know there's not another one like it anywhere. 

Think good thoughts and pray lots of prayers that we'll have a great Saturday at the show. We really just want to connect with people and share our faith with the community. Pray that the Lord will give us the opportunity to do both.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Peanut Butter Crunch Brownie Bars

This recipe combines several of my favorite words: quick, easy, sweet, salty, peanut butter, chocolate, peanuts, brownie.

If this sounds intriguing, you'll love this peanut butter crunch brownie bars. If you don't eat the whole pan by yourself, you'll make those you love very happy when you share them.

1 box chewy brownie mix
8 peanut butter cups, roughly chopped
3/4 cup salted peanuts
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees or as directed on the brownie box. Spray 9x13 pan with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare the brownies according to the box directions and pour into the 9x13 pan. Bake for 5 minutes less than the directions say - the top shouldn't be solid yet.

3. Sprinkle the top with chopped peanut butter cups and peanuts. Cover it as thickly as you'd like. Return the pan to the oven for 5 more minutes.

4. During those five minutes, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter in a small pan and melt over medium heat. Stir in the cereal and immediately pour over the brownies. Spread to cover it evenly.

5. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Store in an air-tight container.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Study To Be Quiet

We live in a loud, noisy, busy world. We're surrounded by ringing alarm clocks, buzzing phones, car horns and loud voices. Short of stuffing your fingers in your ears, there's little you can do to shut them all off.

So if we want to have some peace and quiet in our lives, the choice is to make ourselves quiet. This can be difficult for some women because we've been taught to be heard above the noise. "If you want people to pay attention to you, you have to be louder than everyone else." Or so the myth goes.

What would happen if we followed the words of Paul to the Thessalonians instead?

And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you. 1 Thessalonians 4:11

This verse is about an inward change that eventually becomes an outward display. We'd all love to have a calm, peaceful soul, and Paul says all it takes is the ambition to be so. "Study" here means "be ambitious," striving and desiring to be calm and quiet in mind and soul.

Imagine walking through a hurried, scattered world, unaffected by the drama and emotional tornadoes around us. One of my favorite quotes along this thought is "Sometimes God calms the storms and sometimes He calms me." The outside circumstances of life affect us, but they don't have to steal our peace.

And Paul goes on to give two ways we can be focused and maintain our peace: do your own business and work with your own hands.

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But how often do we start listening a little to that conversation over there? Or "help" a little with someone else's project? Before we know it we're too busy, too involved in other things and pulled in every direction. And of course, we did it to ourselves.

This verse of Scripture reminds us that while the devil and the world may try to get us all stirred up, we are ultimately in charge of our own peace. Keeping our eyes in line, our ears in check and our thoughts in submission will keep us from straying too far from where God would have us be. If we're busy serving the Lord in the ways He chooses and not tip-toeing through someone else's tulips, we might be surprised at how much peace He will fill us with.

Spend today centering your life around God's peace. Study to be quiet, strive to present an undisturbed nature and choose words that reflect a calm heart. Show the world that we don't have to conform to the whirlwind they call life.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Slow Cooker Jambalaya

This is an amazing recipe for two reasons: it's a Louisiana staple that my husband loves, and it's a quick slow-cooker recipe that's perfect for a Sunday morning while you're in church. By the time you get home, it will be all ready for you.

four boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes with chilies
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp Cajun seasoning
1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
dirty rice mix

1. Mix all the ingredients except the rice in a slow cooker on Saturday night. Refrigerate until Sunday morning.

2. Fix the rice according to the package directions. Refrigerate until Sunday at lunchtime.

3. Sunday morning, put the slow cooker insert in the cooker and turn on high. Cook on high until you're ready for lunch, about 4 hours.

4. Add the rice and stir, then let it warm up for about 15 minutes.

5. Serve with some sliced bread and a salad.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Falling Leaves Frame

This paper craft project was so much fun to put together. It's a simple frame that I made with two layers of textured, wood-themed paper. It's accented with punched circles of patterned paper of fall leaves. I had this frame in mind as soon as I saw this paper.

I love thinking about this project in different themes: flowers for spring, butterflies for summer, snowflakes in winter and bubbles for a baby shower. You could also add a phrase in the corner and make it a larger or smaller size to fit your frame.
To create the frame itself, you can use a couple of different techniques. I cut a 3.5x5.5 inch rectangle out of the middle of the lighter paper and laid the new frame on top of the 5x7 inch dark rectangle.

You could also cut the dark piece smaller and layer it on top of the light piece. This is hard to put into words: if you do it this way, the frame on top isn't a frame and the embellishments will lay on top of it differently. The choice is yours.

For many other cards, paper crafts and wood gifts, come check out our Etsy shop. Visit stufffromtrees.etsy.com and you'll find more fall crafts like this, including cards and journals.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Proverbs 31 Woman - What She Is and Isn't

The Proverbs 31 Woman is part of a lesson taught to King Lemuel by his mother. In its original language, it was written so that each verse began with each consecutive letter of the alphabet, making it easier for a young child to memorize.

This wise mother was teaching her son what to look for in a wife, and it's an amazing example for us as Christian women to pattern our lives after.

The Proverbs 31 Woman is:
- trustworthy (v11)
- thoughtful (v12)
- willing (v13)
- diligent (v14)
- productive (v15)
- thrifty (v16)
- strong (v17)
- industrious (v18)
- crafty (v19)
- compassionate (v20)
- protective (v21)
- considerate (v22)
- an influence (v23)
- entrepreneurial (v24)
- honorable (v25)
- wise (v26)
- hard-working (v27)
- God-fearing (v30)

All of this seems like a heavy load for us, though. I don't know about you, but this list of expectations can be a bit overwhelming.We look at this list and think we could never measure up. But we also need to look at the things she isn't.

The Proverbs 31 is NOT:
- perfect
- tireless
- a robot
- going nonstop
- SuperWoman
- always ... anything

She is an example for you and me - something to strive for in our daily lives. We aren't expected to use her as a checklist to make sure we accomplish everything she would do every single day. That would be both exhausting and unnecessary.

Instead, as she has been included in the cannon of Scripture for our learning, we can look to her as God's pattern for a godly woman. I pray that you will read this passage of Scripture often and pray that the Lord will show you where you can grow to be like her and show you the ways you already are.

The Proverbs 31 Woman should be an encouragement to us that we can truly be the women God wants us to be.