Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cornbread Made With Corn...

This seems like an obvious one, but this cornbread actually has real corn in it. It also has a little extra sugar, making it soft and sweet all in one.

We had this over the weekend with beans and rice, and it is now a weekly staple in our menu. It's a great money-saver, too, as there are so few ingredients, and you may already have them on hand.

2 boxes Jiffy mix
2 eggs
2 Tbsp sugar
1 can creamed corn

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Liberally spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Combine all four ingredients in a large bowl. Pour into baking dish.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. It's ready when the center is completely solid - give it a little shake and you'll be able to tell.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finally ... An Organized Craft Room

Several months ago, we moved all of our crafting and hobby supplies to the sun room. Then we added some shelves and moved the computer desk down to make it into my office and workspace for our Etsy shop. It's been a huge blessing to be in the middle of the house with lots of natural light.

Although the view can be a little distracting at times. Terrible problem to have.

The hardest part has been figuring out a schedule and an organizing system that works for me. If you go online and search for "craft room" or "home organization," you'll find all sorts of ideas - many of which are incredibly expensive or a little unrealistic. The key is finding something that works for you.

So this weekend I started from scratch. Everything came out, all the shelves and floor were cleaned and all of my supplies and inventory for the shop got organized.

The best afternoon ever!

Even Molly got in on the act, even though she had more fun playing with paper on the floor than doing an actually cleaning. Maybe that will be her next training session.

To start, I used some old mailing boxes to make a paper sorter. o I cut off the flaps from one end, taped them together and covered them with wrapping paper.

Please note: Do NOT use new post office boxes. Do NOT go to the post office and get boxes just for a project. This is a prosecutable offense (seriously) and just plain not cool. The ones I had were not usable anymore. They were going to end up at the recycling center, and that didn't seem very cost-effective. And you can use any type of boxes for this, all the same size. 

Here is my finished product, already full of projects. Yes, I have a lot of work ahead of me. But when you love what you do, it never seems like work.

So the back wall is lined with shelves and drawers. All of my paper products (cards, envelopes, journals and the like) are in boxes, baskets and brown paper sacks to keep the light from fading them. If there is no lid or box, they are covered with tissue paper.

The computer and printer are right next to my work table, so I can quickly print verses, get into our Etsy shop and check email. Since I have a rolling office chair, I can easily go back and forth between the two tables.

 My work table itself is usually cluttered, but now that I'm reorganized, everything has a home. My Thirty One round organizer has been a life-saver, saving me time and space. I put all my tools back into the pockets at the end of the day so they're handy the next morning. That actually encourages me to get started the next day, simply because the space is clean and clutter-free. (Cluttered life, cluttered mind.)

I even have room now for a photography station, right by the window for lots of sunlight.

I'm so excited to start the new week with a clutter-free workspace. Hopefully it's been an inspiration for you, too. Now, I'm off to work!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Power Of God's Promises

There are literally thousands of promises in God's Word, some for Israel and many for us today. We could spend a lifetime studying and looking for the promises He has tucked away in Scripture and still not learn them all.

Here on earth, we're accustomed to making promises, being given promises and seeing them broken. But with God, they are written in stone for us to rely on.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Not only are they sure, God's promises go above and beyond anything we could imagine in human terms. They are exceeding great and precious, making them special and valuable. They're what get us through each day, see that our needs are met and assure us of a heavenly home.

For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20

When God makes a promise, it is for our greater good and for His glory. They aren't passing fancies or made on some whim, but carefully thought out and planned by a Heavenly Father Who loves us so much that He wants to make things happen in our lives. By outlining His promises in His Word, we're not left wondering what He's thinking and planning. He wants us to know what to expect from Him, even if we might not know when or how.

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

The promises of God reveal His heart. He delights in us, loves us, protects us and provides for us. These Scriptures are powerful, personal and straight to the point. In His truth, He will never break a promise, change His promises or amend them over time. Our never-changing God is too faithful and too reliable for that to ever happen.

As you do your Bible studies this week, pay special attention for God's promises. You'll find them in so many places that you might want to keep a notebook handy to start recording them. And remember that they're written especially for you, specifically to strength and encourage you. You can rest confident that God's promises will hold you firm, lift you up and envelope you no matter what you're going through today.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Are you ready for a banner day? That's what this sketch is all about!

A hand-cut banner made from coordinating paper balances out the circle-framed focal point of this card. to make the banner, use the corner of a piece of card stock to show you where to cut. Then you can mat it in coordinating paper, if you'd like.

A small phrase or another image can be added to the bottom corner.

For my card, I started with two layered of blue card stock for the background. For some reason I usually mat the darker color in the back, but I reversed it this time, and I love the result.

My banner is cut from plaid decorator paper, then matted on a very light blue.

A circle cutter let me make the perfect sized circle around my chipboard little horse toy, and then it's matted on the same blue as the background.

A card stock die cut phrase and three blue gems balance out the right hand side of the card.

The perfect verse inside completes the card - for this one I used 1 Samuel 1:27.

You can find this card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, in our Etsy shop. Come visit for more great ideas or to find that perfect gift.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Weekend Of Standing Out

As spring takes over, green is the predominate color. But it spreads very slowly, often one tree or bush at a time.

That's why, in the middle of a forest that still seems to be asleep, there is a bright spot of glorious green. This light, cheerful color is a welcome sight after so many months of brown and then white.

It's easy to spot this lone green tree, because it is a completely different shade from those around it. Even on the far side of the pond, it seems to sparkle among the dark shades around it.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove which is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Make this a weekend of standing out. In a dark, dreary world, the light of Jesus shining through us should be a blinding beacon. It's nothing of ourselves, but our Lord Himself makes us different, makes us stand out from those who don't know Him. We should be like a new green tree in the middle of a brown, dormant forest.

When we allow God to use us as He sees fit, when we've offered all that we are as a living sacrifice, He will make us stand out. We'll be useful and moldable and open to whatever He has planned for the weekend. How exciting to see how He'll use us and make us stand out in a crowd.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Property In Spring

Spring is an amazing time in southeast Iowa. After many, many weeks of cold and brown everywhere, everything is finally turning green.

I love the florescent green that pops out this time of year. The big pond has lots of algae around it, and this is one of the spots where the fish are spawning. We've already had some great fishing.

The trails are ready to be cleared out, as many trees have fallen during the winter and our first few spring storms.

Looking back across the big pond, you can see more of the trails.

There are all sorts of wildflowers out, catching the sunlight.

We're blessed with so many acres of trees, even if the beaver is determined to have his fair share of them.

This is his den. It's hidden down at the far end of the big pond.

Late afternoon is the perfect time to see how the sun hits the trees and the water.

And it's the perfect time to spend quiet time at my prayer bench. The view can't be beat.

Our pair of Canada geese couldn't agree more.

If this is what April holds for us, I can't wait to see what May has in store!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three-Ingredient Nutella Brownies

Here's a quick and easy brownie recipe that will fit all of your needs.

First, it's only three ingredients, so it's not going to break your bank getting everything you need.

Next, it's only three ingredients that you probably have on hand right now. No shopping needed.

Then, it takes about a minute and a half to mix the three ingredients together. Then you stick it in the oven and let it go. A no-fuss concoction.

Lastly, they're incredibly yummy and probably somewhat addictive. If the speed and ease don't get you, the taste will!

1 cup Nutella
10 Tbsp flour
2 eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x7 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Combine all three ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix until thoroughly combined and creamy.

3. Pour into baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sweet Succulents

 Spring has sprung with reckless abandon - and it's about time! Those of us who have been cooped up all winter are finally spreading our wings and enjoying the longer, sunnier days.

Spring also means the first trips of the year to the garden store. We have several in town, so there is a great variety to choose from. We're planning a couple of outdoor projects this summer, but first I had to do a little indoor gardening.

Now, I have an incredibly black thumb. In college, I killed a cactus. I think that explains it all.
But I love succulents, so planting some indoors was my first real act of spring.

You can plant succulents just about anywhere, so I pulled out a metal tea tin and one of my favorite cups. Now I'll have two amazing planters and one of my favorite Scriptures out all the time.

After filling them with potting soil, I broke apart the root balls on each succulent. They have a much better chance of surviving when their roots aren't all tight and knotted.

Read the tags on your plants carefully to find out just how much sun and water they need - each one is different, and it can make the difference between a plant that lasts a few weeks or many years to come.

So for now they're hanging out in our dining room bay window. Maybe they'll have some other little friends before the season ends!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Better-Than-Take Out Sweet Sriracha Chicken

We don't eat out very often, but when we do, we usually order something we wouldn't make at home. This amazing chicken recipe is one we won't be ordering at the restaurant, since we can make it at home. It's that wonderful.

It's made from several ingredients you probably already have in the pantry, and it only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.

1 cup water
2-3 Tbsp sriracha
5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/4 cup sugar
3-4 Tbsp honey
5-6 diced chicken breasts
1/2 cup cornstarch
olive oil

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Lower temperature and simmer.

2. Put chicken and cornstarch in a large bag and shake to coat.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet, adding the chicken to brown.

4. When chicken is cooked through, stir in the sauce, stirring frequently until heated.

Serve with rice, quinoa or veggies.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Year Of Memories Handmade Scrapbook

It took me several weeks to get this beautiful remade scrapbook together to put in our Etsy shop, but it turned out so wonderful that I just had to share it with you. 

I used papers from this all season decorator paper pack, so all of the patterns and colors are already pre-coordinated. I love that. I love not thinking overly much.

Here is just a sampling of the pages: January ...

April ...

August ...

and I love how November turned out. 

To make my own cover, I took two pieces of cardboard that came from calendars and covered them in decorator paper. I cut the cardboard just slightly larger than the page protectors that would go inside. Another piece of coordinating decorator paper covers up most of the seams.

Then I printed out my cover words on the computer and added two embellished dragonflies raised on 3D adhesive. Tiny pearls complete the cover.

Here's another up-close view.

 The whole thing is held together with small binder rings, wrapped in leftover pieces of ribbon from my ribbon drawer. I love how this finished product looks, and you can find it here in our Etsy shop.

Now that this project is done, I'm ready to start the next one.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Today's sketch lets you put a single panel in the middle of your card as a focal point. Where you go from there is entirely up to you.

A column of words is matted, then double matted on coordinating papers with a ribbon tied around the bottom of the middle layer. You can tie a bow or just trim the ends for a fun look.

There is enough space around the edges of the card to add other embellishments or images. Think about a flower in each corner, or double matting a matching patterned paper.

For my card, I started with a dark purple background, then matted a soft purple patterned paper on top.

My thank you phrases are vellum stickers, adhered to white card stock with three small gems underneath. The white is matted onto a darker purple decorator paper, with a loopy purple ribbon wrapped around it. I just trimmed the ends to look like a banner. This whole piece is then matted onto the same dark purple card stock as the background.

To add a little more sparkle, I put five silver gems in each corner of the card.

You can find this card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, in our Etsy shop. Come visit for more ideas or to find the perfect cards and gifts.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Weekend Of Building

Our sweet mama bird is back from her winter vacation, and she's on a mission. Last fall, part of her nest (which she built over our security light) blew down during a storm, and we took the last little bits down.

So she came back this week and had some work to do. Danny noticed her working away on Wednesday morning, and she's been at it ever since.

She's using a combination of moss, grass and leaves to build up the edges of her nest so her eggs won't fall out. She generally has five eggs, so it will need to keep in five babies in just a few weeks.

Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish placket it down with her hands. Proverbs 14:1

Make this a weekend of building - building your home, building your relationships and building your faith. This Scripture reminds us that we need to be constantly building. That's where wisdom lies.

So make that phone call, write that letter, play that game, read that book, cook that meal and pour over that Scripture. Each moment of your weekend will either build up your house or tear it down.

Only the foolish will neglect their home, husband and family. Make wise decisions about how you will spend your time this weekend. Make it a DIY weekend and build to your heart's content.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Owl Of The Carrell Wildlife Preserve

Normally when Molly barks, I ignore her until it's absolutely necessary. She barks at squirrels, turkey, deer, shadows, lights on the wall, her sisters ... you get the idea. She's an amazing protector dog, especially if there's movement somewhere around the house.

So when she started in yesterday morning, I didn't hurry too quickly to the sliding glass door. Expecting to see yet another fat little squirrel, I looked out to see the object of her fascination.

And that's when I saw it. We hear barred owl hoots every day and night. They're very loud, and they sound like "Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you?" That's how you can tell which owl is which. But this was the first time I had actually seen it. 

It was obviously breakfast time, as it was wandering down the ridge to find food. I was amazed at how big it was, since the ridge is a few hundred feet away.

After breakfast it went up into the tree next to the big pond and surveyed its territory. I'm thrilled that we have the dense woodland that they like to live in. And hopefully it will have another brood this year, just so we can hear a chorus of hoots from our wildlife preserve.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Easy Apple Dip

This will be the second week in a row that I've needed a sweet treat to add to my diet. We got a bag of the juiciest, most perfect apples at the grocery store, so what better way to enjoy them than with a sweet, creamy dip?

There's not a better way. I looked.

This recipe made plenty for the two of us and two apples, although we did sneak some right out of the bowl. Of course.

1 8 oz package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mini chocolate chips or toffee bits (you decide)

1. Cream the cream cheese and sugars together. Add vanilla and fold in chocolate chips.

2. Chill for about an hour before serving.

3. Serve with apples and any other fruits.