Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Weekend Of Surrender

It's difficult to surrender when you have your heart set.

The weather in Iowa in February makes planning things a little challenging at times. Wednesday's snowfall canceled church services, for example, despite how much we wanted to attend.

I then had a choice: be upset and cranky because I couldn't do what I wanted or enjoy being snowed in with my husband and experience the beauty of an Iowa winter's evening.

I chose the latter.

Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? Romans 6:16

Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome, reminding them that they weren't allowed to sin simply because they were no longer under the law but under grace. Instead, he said, they had the choice to surrender themselves completely to the Lord and be obedient in all things or turn back to their fleshly acts. They had a choice to make.

Make this a weekend of surrender. When you feel the pricks of pride and flesh and self in your heart, turn them over to God and surrender all that you are to His will. Only when we yield to the Lord do we find the peace of abiding in His perfect will.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Buttermilk Pie

For some reason, there are certain recipes that intimidate me - not because I've read the steps and don't know what I'm doing, but just because the name sounds daunting.

That's how I felt when I first heard about buttermilk pie. It's a southern staple and very much like the custard pie that's been made in my family for ages, just with a little different texture.

I've been challenging myself to break out of the cooking box and learn some different techniques and dishes. Hence ... the buttermilk pie.

1 9-inch refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
1 stick butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 heaping tablespoons of flour
3 eggs
1 cup of buttermilk (the smallest container)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Ground nutmeg

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass pie pan with nonstick spray and unfold pie crust into it.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. It will become smooth and fluffy. I usually use a large slotted spoon for this part.

3. Add the flour and eggs, mixing well.

4. Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla.

5. Pour into the pie crust. Cover the top with nutmeg.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 75 minutes. A toothpick in the middle will come out clean.

7. Remove from the oven and allow at least an hour to cool before serving.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Candy Nugget Bible Craft

If you're looking for a fun, easy craft for a Bible school or ladies meeting, start with this lovely little Bible. You can change the words to fit your theme, and it goes together in just minutes.

It's made from two nugget candies, two pieces of scrap paper and a tiny piece of ribbon. They can all be cut ahead of time, too, if you'd like.

My background piece of black card stock measures 2x1.5 inches. I taped the candies together with double stick tape and used the same tape to adhere the ribbon to the middle of the paper.

The white paper is the width of the candies and the same length as the black paper. This allows it to fold in the middle and wrap over the tops of the round candy. I secured it with double stick tape and then tacked down the ribbon with a permanent glue pen.

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Spiritual To-Do List

If you know me at all, or have spent any time reading here, you know how much I love lists. I even have lists of my lists, if we're being honest. And now that I'm working from home full time, my lists have become even more important.

But all of the errands and chores of the day don't stack up to my spiritual needs in comparison. If my relationship with God isn't on solid ground, no amount of planning and list making will make things right.

If I was going to make a spiritual to-do list, it would look like this, for starters:

Pray - Matthew 6:6
Study - Acts 17:11
Meditate - Psalm 1:2
Guard your heart - Proverbs 4:23
Run with purpose - 1 Corinthians 9:26
Praise God - Psalm 61:8
Quiet time - Psalm 46:10
Love one another - 1 Peter 1:22
Work hard - Colossians 3:23
Be glad - Psalm 118:24
Tell the truth - Proverbs 12:22
Rest - Psalm 62:5

I challenge you to come up with a spiritual to-do list of your own. Strengthening your relationship with the Lord isn't something you cross off and move on, but something you cultivate daily.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Sketch

I've made it my goal this week to use up a sizable amount of the paper that I have before I buy any more. It's a difficult challenge because of how much I love paper, but I've been able to pull some out that I forgot I had. It's kind of like Christmas in February, and it's been stirring up some creative juices - which I also forgot I had.

For this sketch, you'll need three scraps of card stock, two scraps of decorator paper and a phrase or image. That's it, so start digging!

Mat your largest scrap with a dark solid color to use as your background. Then use a smaller matted piece on the side for a secondary focal point. Your image or phrase will be smaller in the bottom and matted on another solid color.

For my card, I chose a light background pattern on a very dark solid color. Then I matted my dandelion patterned paper on a light color. For a little fun, I put three sparkling gem stones in the upper righthand corner.

Then I matted my vellum phrase and added it, overlapping the dandelions.

You can find this large magnet, along with many other cards, paper crafts and wood gifts, in our Etsy shop. Come visit us soon!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Weekend Of Learning

The birds have learned my shopping schedule. They've figured out when I bring in groceries it means that there will be more bird seed in their feeder. It's kind of weird - I think Hitchcock did a movie about this.

In addition, a squirrel has learned that he can bully his way up to the bird feeder, scare the birds away and eat his fill. He's also learned the sound the door to the deck makes when I race out to chase him away. He learned quickly.

If the animals can learn, shouldn't we be learning all the more?

Show me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation. On thee do I wait all the day. Psalm 25:4-5

Make this a weekend of learning. God has promised to teach us all we can imagine if we'll just seek out that wisdom. It's there for the taking - we just need to come before Him with open minds and open hearts.

Do you remember when you longed for understanding and something new from the Scriptures? Find that passion and yearning again this weekend. I pray we'll all find it and learn all we can from the Lord.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Puppy Adventures

It's been a fun-filled few days around here with four puppies in the house. Who needs television when you have the never-ending adventure of dogs?

This is what I woke up to once this week. Molly's not chewing on her blankets nearly as much as she once was, but she still has this one with a gaping hole in it. And she looks like she woke up on the wrong side of the crate.

The evenings are equally as lazy. Molly loves using Sadie as a pillow, since she's all nice and fluffy. Molly can be pretty pushy, but Sadie doesn't seem to mind as much as Bailey does.

It's rare that all four of them are relaxed at the same time (Bailey is on the bed at the other end of the couch), but when they are, we all get some quiet time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Apple Cinnamon Bread

I love breads that don't require yeast or kneading. This apple cinnamon bread is a great example of how a simple recipe that you can whip together and bake in less than an hour can be amazingly wonderful.

2 medium apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1 3/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. Peel and finely chop the two apples.

3. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.

4. In a second bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Add in the eggs and vanilla.

5. In a third bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.

6. Add the dry mixture to the creamed mixture. Add the milk and mix until smooth.

7. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Top with half the apple and half the cinnamon sugar mixture.

8. Pour the rest of the batter on top, then finish with the rest of the apples and cinnamon.

9. Bake for 45-50 minutes, checking with a toothpick at 45 minutes.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Handmade Hand Sanitizer Gift Box

Did you ever read instructions for a project and wondered if they were in a foreign language? Or maybe you were a little foggier in the brain today than you thought you were.

This happened to me recently when I found a paper gift box for a small bottle of hand sanitizer. I read and reread, but the numbers and measurements didn't add up. Not this is a surprise to me - numbers and I aren't the best of friends.

So, using the picture, I made my own box using a strip of 12x12 paper. Your bottle might be a little different sized than mine, but the idea is still the same. Just modify the details to fit your bottle of hand sanitizer.

Cut a strip of 12x12 card stock just wider than your bottle. Crease a flap about 1/4 of a inch wide, then again at about 1 1/4 inches. Punch a hole in the middle to fit the top of the bottle through.

Make another crease at the bottom, about 1/4 of an inch taller than the bottle (mine was about 3 1/4 inches tall). This is what it will look like at this point.

Make three more creases to wrap up the back and over the top of the bottle. You can be exact if you want, but mine is a guesstimate. You know - me and numbers. It will be about an inch short, but that's OK. Make a face plate the size of the entire front of the bottle and it will cover that gap while making a solid surface on the front to decorate.

To close it up, I cut a piece of Velcro dot in half and adhered it to the flap.  

When all closed up, you can decorate it as you like and you'll still be able to see the bottle on the sides. Coordinate with the color of hand sanitizer and you'll have an adorable gift.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday Sketch

With all of these holidays in the past couple of months, it's no wonder that today's sketch looks like a wrapped package. I guess I just have gifts on the brain!

There are two ways you can approach this sketch - it's sort of an optical illusion. You can 1. put a solid color on the back and vary the patterns on top to make the lines of color between them, or 2. put a pattern on the back and put two strips of color as the "wrapping ribbon."

Either way, one large image at the junction of the papers ties it all together like a pretty package.

For my example, I used a large, square magnet as my background and covered with with a bright pink paper. Then I cut four different prints to make my building blocks.

The image is cut from a piece of the coordinating paper, which I might add, is a great way to find images that will automatically match everything else. This is one of those crafter's issues that always bogs me down.

Then I added a vellum phrase to the side and a sparkling gem in each corner.

You can find this magnet, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, in our Etsy shop. Come visit us soon!

Monday, February 9, 2015

'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

There is something sweet and peaceful about trusting in Jesus. Being able to cast all your cares upon Him and rest in His perfect will is a beautiful thing.

This will be my last week at my job. My fibromyalgia is out of control, and the stress of the newsroom is compounding the issue. I chose to take care of myself and my body by turning in my resignation, and Friday will be my last day.

This is a scary proposition if you don't know my God. Walking away from a steady paycheck can be daunting if you don't have complete faith that the Lord is in charge of your life. Leaving behind a career you've built over the past 20 years can be sad if you aren't excited about the path God is leading you down.

I'll be working from home, running our Etsy shop full time along with my blog and enjoying being a housewife again. It is so amazing to be back in the perfect will of God. There are so many possibilities ahead.

Please pray with me that I will continue to surrender my life to His plan for me. It's an exciting change, and I look forward to seeing what this path will bring.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Versatile sketches are the name of the game this week. A sketch like this, very basic yet easily transformable, can be your go-to idea.

Choose two patterned papers and a solid color or one subtle pattern and a solid. You're making a border across the bottom third of the card and adding an image on the righthand side.

There's also a space for a phrase, another image or some other fun embellishment.

The creative part of this sketch is mixing and matching colors,  patterns and images to make a completely different card each time. Then you can use the same sketch, but it will still look completely original.
I had so much fun playing with this sketch. I've got a new pad of paper that I'm using to make a set of cards for my mother-in-love, so I used some scraps to put this card together.

Already-coordinated paper makes things so much easier. Two patterned papers with a thick border in between and I had a beautiful card.

The butterfly image is a fussy cut from the same paper. Don't hesitate to cut up patterned paper to get the coordinating images you need that you might not otherwise have.

To make it even better, I added four sparkling gems and a card stock phrase. Lovely!

To find more cards like this, along with other paper crafts and wood gifts, visit our online shop, Stuff From Trees.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Why Art Thou Cast Down?

When you're struggling with sadness or depression, do you immediately turn to the Psalms? It's one of the most comforting and uplifting books of the Bible, where we can find answers and encouragement for the day.

Reading along through the Psalms recently, I came across a verse that I know by heart, but it shone in a new light this time.

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance. Psalm 42:5

I've turned to the Psalms for peace in my very soul, and this verse tells me I shouldn't be that way to begin with!

Imagine David sitting down to have a heart-to-heart conversation with his own soul. He knows he shouldn't be brought down low — you know that very felling, right? — because of the mighty God he serves. He questions his soul about where this feeling came from because it isn't from a holy place.

Then he explains the two reasons his soul should be glad today: hope and praise.

If we're hoping in the Lord — really believing in His guiding hand — we have nothing to be down about. Depression has no place in a heart that believes God has a perfect plan for our lives. Where there is hope, there is joy. And where there is joy, there is praise.

If we're praising the Lord for all He has done for us, we'll be too busy to be discouraged. Right this moment, I challenge you to think of five ways God has blessed you in the past hour. If this doesn't come easily, I encourage you to do this every hour on the hour until it does. 

With the renewing of the mind to focus on God instead of self, sadness and depression have no more room. They get pushed out of our heart, soul and mind by peace and joy and hope. Then come the praises that are a delight to God's ear. 

His countenance, His favor upon us, is a blessing beyond measure and a help in the worst of times. With this precious gift shining every day, we have no reason to be down and out — we'll be too busy shouting His praises and thanking Him for all He's done.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Snow On A Sunday

 What a beautiful day to be stranded on the property!

This was the overnight snowfall, and there's more coming down as we speak.

I'm full of praises to the Lord for His creation today. How about you?