Showing posts from October, 2015

A Weekend Of Gladness

There are many things that make me happy.

The smell of cookies baking in the oven.
Seeing deer all over the property.
That first sip of cappuccino in the morning.
Just being in the same room with my husband after a long work week.
Cuddling with very large puppies.
Sunshine after the rain.

We can all name many, many things in life that make us happy. There is only one source of true, soul-cleansing gladness, though.

And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Isaiah 25:9

The grace and blessings of the Lord are the only experiences that bring pure gladness. We can accumulate all kinds of "things" in life, but they will never add up to the inner joy that waiting on the Lord for His touch brings.

Make this a weekend of gladness. Forget about money and pride and other worldly stuff for just one weekend and turn your eyes to the One who br…

11 Ways To Spark Your Creativity

Have you ever sat at the table and just stared at your workspace? Just stared at a blank page or an empty word processing document or brand new canvas?

That creative spark can be an elusive little thing.

Now that I'm running our Etsy shop full time, I often feel like I need to be creative all the time and creative on command. Some days the ideas flow and the cards don't stop. A great layout for a journal pours out, followed by two bookmarks and a magnet. Those are the very good days.

But they're not all like that. Some days the fount of creativity dries up and that blank page stays that way. For a while.

Does this sound vaguely familiar? You don't to be a full-time artist to have moments of ... nothing. Absolutely nothing.

So how do you spark that creativity and get back in the groove? Start with one or two of these and see what happens.

- Walk away. Walk far away. Don't look back.

- Take a shower. For some reason the best ideas come in the shower.

- Learn a new te…

Caramel Macchiato Fudge

If one wonderful taste is good, then two would be better, right? That's what my logic tells me.

Brach's has made an incredibly addictive treat for the fall season - caramel macchiato candy corn. By itself, it's great, but when you use it to top caramel fudge, it's even better.

3/4 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup butter
3 cups sugar
6 ounces (half a bag) vanilla chips
6 ounces (half a bag) butterscotch chips
1 cup marshmallow creme
7 ounces (half a bag) caramel macchiato candy corn

1. Line a 7x9 baking dish with aluminum foil. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a medium pan, heat milk and butter until boiling. Slowly stir in sugar. Add a very little bit at a time, stirring continuously until each portion is dissolved completely. (If you rush this part of the process, your fudge will be grainy.)

3. Lower heat to medium and add both kinds of chips, still stirring continuously. The mixture will become smooth and silky.

4. Remove pan from heat and add marshm…

Words For Wednesday


Miniature Pumpkin Tea Light Holders

As you probably already figured out, I love fall. These are my colors, my weather and my crisp air. I love changing our home decor from summer to autumn especially. I get to pull out the miniature hay bales from storage and scatter leaves all over everything. This year I added some miniature pumpkin tea light holders to the mix.

Ranging in size from 2.25 inches across to 5.75 inches. They're tiny and adorable and I love them. The battery-operated tea light candles are the perfect size for these tiny pumpkins, and you don't have to worry about getting wax everywhere.

I asked Danny very nicely if he would make holes in the top of each pumpkin so the candles would sit down in them. He used a forstner bit to hollow them out, so he was able to make them just the right size. If you don't have access to a drill like this, you can mark the edge of the candle on the pumpkin with a sharp knife and carve it out.
Let them dry for a few hours before putting the candles in or they'…

Are You Settled Or Settled?

Even those of us with a little wanderlust in our souls love coming home. It's where we're comfortable, and it's where we can kick off our shoes and relax. Home is a safe, comforting place that draws us back at the end of the day.

As retired military, we've learned not to get too settled. Had Danny not retired in 2007, we would probably have moved at least two more times since then. It's funny to think about it that way, since we've been here in Iowa for four years already. We don't want to get stuck in a rut, but it's quite nice to finally put down roots. Unless God shows us another path, we're here to stay.

Peter wrote in his first epistle about this very topic, but took it in a very different direction. Settled in his mind meant being made stable, establishing, being secured to a firm foundation. This speaks of the hand of God resting on us instead of us sitting back and refusing to go anywhere else.

But the God of all grace, who hath called us unt…

Sunday Sketch

If you look past my fourth-grade drawing skills, you'll see lots of layers for this week's sketch. This card is your opportunity to play with corners and borders, putting them all together to make an amazing focal point.

Start with one solid color and a pretty pattern for the background. Then find at least two more coordinating patters. They'll need to be a little less busy, as very little of them will show around the edges.

Pull out your corner rounders and other punches, as these will make each layer more interesting to look at.

Your sentiment and image will go smack-dab in the middle of your layers, and you can add any embellishments you like to tie it all together.

For my card, I chose Santa's milk and cookies as my theme. I started with a red card stock and peppermint candy-striped decorator paper. This gave me my color scheme for the whole card.

Then I picked out two more red patterns. For the first one, I used a circle punch to cut scallops in each corner. Then…

A Weekend Of Doing Heartily

One way to absolutely fall in love with your home is to clean it. When you deep clean, get down on your hands and knees and really get into your work, you notice things about your house that you normally take for granted. This is how you learn to appreciate what God's given you in so many ways and blessings.

So during my weekly deep-clean of the entryway this week, I noticed for the first time that there was a streak of muck along the steps by the wall - it's where the mop just pushed it away instead of picking it up. I took literally two minutes and wiped those spots up with a wet paper towel.

But while I was down there, I noticed that there were a few scuff marks on the wall. I grabbed my magic eraser and took care of those, too.

But while I was doing that, I could see a few paint marks on the doors from the last time I spray painted in the garage. They were gone in just moments, too.

But while I was doing that, I saw icky stuff on the glass of all three doors, so they got …

The 100 Item De-Clutter Challenge

There's a really neat challenge going around social media right now called the 100 Item Challenge. The idea is to "simply" find 100 items in your home that you don't need anymore and throw them away, recycle them, sell them or donate them. This frees up room in your house, helping you de-clutter and be a blessing to others.

So I dove right in this week and chose three places to de-clutter first: the coat closet, the kitchen cabinets and my clothes closet.

The results were pretty amazing.

Having a goal like 100 items gives you a little more motivation than just saying you'll do your best to sort. I tried to be ruthless, especially with all of my bags (which I love), and be honest about which ones I use and don't use.

So in the first day I piled up 45 items in the spare bedroom. (No, the puppy isn't included. She's helping - can't you tell?) Seeing them all in one place felt great. I was able to sort out some books, a handful of purses, several art…

Gum Drop Leaves

I love fall and I love spending time in the kitchen. Combine the two and I'll never leaf! (Get it? Leaf? Leave? Thank you ... I'll be here all week.)

In celebration of this beautiful season, I put together spice cupcakes with caramel frosting and gum drop leaf decorations. Tiny cookie cutters make the job quick and easy, and they're the perfect size for baking decorations.

To make the leaves, start with a large gum drop. (The small ones aren't quite big enough.) Just as you would use flour on your work surface when working with pastry dough, you'll want plenty of sugar on hand so the gum drops don't stick. Sprinkle it on your work surface frequently.

Use a rolling pin to smash them down. Roll both directions, then flip them over and roll a little more. You'll want plenty of sugar for this part, as the sticky part comes to the surface when they're smashed.

They don't have to be completely flat and thin, just large enough for your cookie cutter.


Words For Wednesday


Altered Game Board Books

I've been waiting to put this book together for ages!

I've been scouting out the area's thrift shops for months so I could make a game board album for one of my dearest friends. We both love Clue, so the best gift I could think of was a book made from the game itself.

It turned out exactly like I pictured it, and it's so much fun to read and to create.

To start, I asked Danny to cut each room out of the game board. I had three boards (just in case), and I ended up using all of one and parts of the second. The games also came with many of the original game pieces, along with the cards, score sheets and instructions. I was pleasantly surprised, as games often part ways with their pieces along the way.

Each page of the album has quotes from the old movie, and they're embellished with the cards. I love that there was plenty of room to see the colors and carpets behind them. Danny also drilled the holes for the largest binder rings I've ever seen.

I also punched ou…

Scrabble Letters Bulletin Board

Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21

Words are a powerful tool. They can break down, they can lift up and they can share the Good News in a lost and dying world.

How we choose to use our words shows everyone around us what is in our heart.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bright forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bright forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. Luke 6:45

So what words will you be using today?

Will you speak of your FAITH?
Will you PRAISE the Lord for His many blessings?
Will you tell someone how you've been FORGIVEN?
Will you find words to speak  of the JOY in your heart?
Will you tell of how Jesus HEALS even today?
Will you share His great LOVE?
Will you tell someone of the Bible's TRUTH?
Will you explain where your HOPE comes from?
Will you tell of God's GRACE in your life?
Will you …

Sunday Sketch

Sometimes it's the little details that give a card big impact. Three small embellishments are going to make this one of your favorite sketches to play with.

On the bottom edge of your focal point image, you'll add a small tab. This can be a word, short phrase or miniature image.

Then you'll loop ribbon in the top corner behind the focal point for some added texture.

And one more coordinating embellishment on 3D adhesive will tie it all together.

Make lots of layers in the background and find a great border to run down the left hand side.

For my card, I started with coordinating card stock and decorator paper backgrounds. The holly decorator paper was already in border form, so I just trimmed it down to fit the card.

My focal point is an adorable snowman image matted on two colors of coordinating card stock.

Before attaching the focal point, I cut two small pieces of white ribbon to put at the top and cut out a word from the matching decorator paper to make a tab at the bot…

A Weekend Of Self-Denial

We're taught from a young age to take care of ourselves. We aren't to rely on other people to make us feel good, be successful or be happy in life. We can handle thing all on our own, and we'll have ourselves to congratulate on the other end.

We've been told to honor our emotions, trust our own hearts and go with that gut feeling. If you want it, go for it. If you see something you want, just work hard and you'll earn it.

But what we've been told is in direct opposition to what Jesus told His first followers.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

Denying self means laying aside those feelings, thoughts and motivations that we've stored up. Denying self means putting God first and others second while doing what's in the best interest of someone other than ourselves. It means sacrificing time, energy and money and allowing the Lord to use us as He sees fit - not …

Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips

The men of our church had a campout a couple of weeks ago, spending the night at a nearby park. In addition to fall cupcakes and peanut butter cookies, I made them a bag of baked tortilla chips.

They're incredibly easy to make, and they're a healthier alternative to fried, fatty chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick spray. Then cut a bag of tortillas into triangles.

Lay the triangles out on the baking sheets and lightly spray them again. Sprinkle them with salt and cayenne pepper to taste. (Play around with difference spices until you find a combination you absolutely love.)
Bake the chips at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes, until the edges are brown and fold up a little. Serve with your favorite dip or salsa.

Words For Wednesday


Sunday Sketch

It's time to pull out those tiny embellishments and images, then line them up to show them off. This sketch will let you put a favorite theme front and center while combining some great colors and patterns.

Choose your theme first, then match up a single patterned paper and four small images. The images will be lined up across the card with a ribbon in the background to tie them all together.

Layers of colored card stock and the perfect sentiment will make this card a treasured keepsake for someone special.

For my card, I chose a beautiful snowflake pattern and four glittered 3D snowflakes. (Yes, I now have glitter all over everything. I sparkle!) Each one is matted on two colors of card stock with a third color as a stripe across the middle.

My card is made of white card stock, so I only needed one green piece for a background mat, and then I matted a subtle green and gold snowflakes patterned paper for the background. Don't go too bold with the pattern or you'll drown o…

A Weekend Of Fixing

There are several definitions for the word "fix." It means to repair or reassemble - the opposite of brake. In the South it means going to, as in: I'm fixing to head to the store.

And it also means anchoring and making steadfast.

My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise. Psalm 57:7

David knew the power of answered prayer, and while he prayed fervently in the cave for deliverance from Saul, he knew the joy and peace that God placed there.

This experience allowed him to say that his heart was fixed - anchored and steadfast - in the Lord alone. David was able to sing and praise God's holy name because he had these experiences of God's faithfulness to fall back on in days like today.

Make this a weekend of fixing. Fix your eyes and your heart on the One who is eternally faithful. Think back to those miraculous moments in your life when He answered prayer, moved in mighty ways and showed you His great works. He is worthy of all your pra…

No Bake Dog Treats

If you think all the way back to April 2012 (I know it's asking a lot), you'll remember my recipe for Healthy Bites. It's one of our favorite healthy snacks, and we make it all the time. They're filled with oats and peanut butter and honey and lots of other wonderful little goodies.

This is the puppy version of our favorite treats.

In a large bowl, combine 3/4 cup peanut butter, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/4 cup oats and 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture until it's all combined and wonderfully sticky.

Roll a small spoonful of the mixture into a ball. You want to keep them fairly small, or you'll end up with an overweight, waddling dog. (Very bad when you have a Great Dane, right?) From this recipe I can make about 30 tiny treats about the size of a shooter marble. If you're too young to know what that is, I'm very sorry.

You'll also want to make any even number so you don't end up with two treats and three dogs at the end. (Also very bad.)

There's …

Edible Chocolate Acorns

Apparently it's acorn week around here. I made painted acorns for decorating with earlier in the week, and now I'll show you how to make the edible kind.
They're both fun and easy - just don't forget which one is which when you're ready to eat them.

You'll need a box of miniature vanilla sandwich cookies, chocolate kisses and regular-sized chocolate chips. Melted chocolate will serve as your glue, and you can either use pre-packaged melting chocolate or melt a handful of chocolate chips in a bowl in the microwave.

Unwrap several of the kisses all at once, and then use your melting chocolate to glue them to the underside of the cookie. Once you have them all done, put them in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the chocolate harden.
Then flip them over and do the same thing with the chocolate chip on the flip side. You'll want to make sure your hands are fairly cool for this part, or the chips will melt as you try to hold and attach them. Put them bac…

Words For Wednesday


Painted Acorns For Fall Decorating

I have entitled this photograph "Glass Jar Full Of Ugly, Boring Acorns."

This is where we end up so many times when we're decorating for fall. Autumn often means bringing the outdoors in, and this is what we get - natural, neutral tones.

But that's not all fall is about.

After a few minutes in the oven to kill the bugs and dry them out and a little dusting off, you have the perfect work surface.
Now add a light coat of paint (or a heavy, bold one if you'd like) and cover with a little Mod Podge.
Half the fun is seeing nature up close and personal as you carefully paint an acorn no bigger than your fingernail.

And you end of up with a much more beautiful collection of acorns.
Now you're asking, "So what do I do with them now? All I have is a jar full of pretty acorns."
Here are my suggestions to start you off:
* Glue them to floral foam to make a wreath.
* For the ones connected together, tie them to a piece of ribbon for a napkin ring.
* Use them as…

21 Things Prayer Should Be

When we're in a middle of a crisis, prayer seems vital.

When times are going smoothly, we either switch to praises or stop communicating with God as we did when we felt we needed Him most.

When we're too comfortable in our prayer life, we use clich├ęs and pretty words to get through our prayers.

When we're at the end of our rope, we may not be able to use any words at all.

Prayer is a frequent topic through the Bible, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. They words prayer and pray are used hundreds of times in God's word, proving that it was an important part of daily life that we need to continue even now.

Here is just a sampling of what Scripture tells us prayer should be.

* Heart-felt - 2 Samuel 7:27
* Postured - 1 Kings 9:3
* Emotional - 2 Kings 20:5
* Enduring - Nehemiah 1:6
* Pure - Job 16:17
* Early - Psalm 5:3
* Honest - Psalm 17:1
* Believing - Psalm 66:20
* Repentant - Isaiah 26:16
* Determined - Daniel 9:3
* Remembering - Jonah 2:7
* Continual - Luke …

Sunday Sketch

It seems like Christmas already at our house. We're getting ready to add all of our holiday items into the shop on Monday, so the craft room looks like we've already opened gifts!

Today's sketch will hopefully share that feeling with you a little - if you're ready for a little Christmas spirit.

For this design, you'll be cutting out a shape from card stock to reveal the pattern behind it. It can be any shape for any season, as long as it's large enough to fill most of the space on the front of the card.

You can either us a die cut machine or go old school and cut out a shape from a stencil. Either way, you'll be able to use this idea for just about any event or holiday.

The sentiment is then centered on the bottom of the card over a piece of coordinating  ribbon.

For my card, I started with a background of aged stripes. Then I cut the green card stock to fit completely over the card. (It's really important to do this first so your cut-out image is cent…

A Weekend Of Pointing The Way

When people come to our home for the first time, we normally lead them to the sliding glass doors first. While the whole house is full of windows, this is the best place to see the beauty of the woods and ponds.

If we didn't show them where to look, they might still wander that way, but we'd miss out on the smile when they see it for the first time. And they might miss out on some special time with us, just looking at the property.

I like to think this is how the Samaritan woman felt after speaking with Jesus at the well. She had something amazing for the people of the town to see, and she just couldn't keep it to herself.

The woman then left her waterspout, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him. John 4:28-30

The men might have found their own way to Jesus, perhaps hearing about Him some other way or wandering around until the…

Cleaning The Waffle Iron

Everyone's looking for faster, easier, less-elbow-grease ways to clean. The less time we spend scrubbing, polishing and washing, the more time we have for something else.

So here's one very simple way to do just that.

I adore my waffle iron. Danny gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago, and it's the kind that rotates like the ones at a hotel. I use it for everything from waffles to cornbread to cake.

Did I mention that I love my waffle iron?

What I don't love is cleaning out all the grooves and notches. It is always greasy, and it's not as if you can just let it soak in the sink for a couple of hours. (Please do not attempt that. It's silly.)

Instead, take three or four paper towels and get them slightly wet. As soon as you've made your last waffle/cornbread/cake, unplug the waffle iron and lay the paper towel inside. Close it up and let it steam for two or three minutes, standing close by to watch. You don't want to burn the paper towel and make …

Upcycled Paper-Covered Cardboard Boxes

When I started a Faithbox subscription three months ago, I was very excited to be receiving a box full of books and treats that would not only feed me spiritually, but financially support organizations that feed people physically.
What I didn't think about was that I'd also be receiving a box every month. A sturdy, brown, wonderful box.

So you have probably guessed what I do with them! Instead of just recycling them, I upcycle them into some amazing reusable gift boxes!

I start by removing all of the tape and labels. Then I cut individual panels of paper for each side. I leave the edges of cardboard showing through because I love that natural look.

I haven't done a lot with Mod Podge except for my reversible holiday blocks, but it's incredibly easy. On cardboard, I applied a thin coat with a brush to serve as glue to hold the paper down. 

After it dried, just a couple of hours later, I brushed on another thin coat for sealant. Another couple of hours drying time and i…