Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Sketch

I love how today's sketch looks like a man's tie laying on his dress shirt. You could definitely use it like that, as it even has the tie clip on it, although I'm not sure what the string tied around would be for.

I never claimed to be an artist with a pen.

Instead, this sketch combines two patterned papers, the top cut into a decorative panel. A bow tied around the top and a banner phrase give you an amazingly detailed focal point.

Depending on the size you make the panel, you can add other embellishment to fill in the empty space.
For my card, I started with a pale blue background and matted a soft, striped patter on top. This combination will keep you from having two busy patterns competing for your attention.

The panel is from a coordinating paper with the bottom corners cut at a diagonal.

A satin ribbon at the top tied in a bow and a card stock sticker phrase complete the panel.

Since I had a little room on the right side of the card, I added three blue gems to the bottom border.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit today for more great ideas and the perfect gift for yourself or a friend.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Weekend Of Rewards

In order to get through my daily to-do list, I often give myself little rewards as I check things off. I might have a Healthy Bite, or maybe a cup of cappuccino - something small that will motivate me to keep going.

And no, adding things I've already done to the list just to check them off doesn't count.

On a much more serious note, I've been studying the Sermon on the Mount in the book of Matthew for the past couple of weeks, and it is quite convicting to see the differences in the rewards Jesus spoke of.

And when thou praise, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. Matthew 6:5

Three times in the first 18 verses alone, Jesus says these hypocrites, the scribes and Pharisees, have already received their rewards. They would pray and fast and give just to be seen, to receive some type of applause and notice from men. How completely different that heart-condition was from the one Jesus wanted His followers to have. He says they've received all they're going to get because they were looking for the wrong acceptance.

God's rewards for the things we do for Him are more precious and lasting than anything we could ever receive from the crowd of people around us. We focus in on the immediate gratification and miss out on something more wonderful that the Lord has in store for us. How disappointing it would be to know what we could have had, but we settled for what made us feel good right now.

Make this a weekend of distinguishing between rewards. Is the effort you're putting forth completely for the glory of God, or are you trying to impress someone else? He knows the condition of your heart, and He knows the special rewards He has ready for those who labor for Him.

So which would you rather have - a momentary pat on the back or a lasting reward that will never fade away?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Walk On Art Street Preparation

We've received our invitation for this year's Walk on Art Street, sponsored by Main Street Ottumwa. We had an amazing time at last year's show, which was the first one Danny had ever done. It was quite the experience.

The show is Saturday, Sept. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year it will be in the 200 block of Main Street, and we're excited to actually have it outdoors this year. We're praying for perfect weather.

Since receiving our invitation, we've been going through our inventory and deciding what we want to make more of this year. I kept last year's list so I know what sold well, and we have lots of new pieces to bring. For some examples of Danny's work, check out our Etsy shop. 

As for me, I'm working on a variety of projects. There are paper bag albums ...

... memory verse cards ...

... CD albums ...

... notebooks and journals ...

... altered board books ...

... sticky note holders ...

... and bookmarks just to name a few.

We're also working on some great new displays, so the next four months are going to fly by!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Told For A Memorial

Memorial Day, once known as Decoration Day, was originally a day to honor Civil War soldiers who died in battle. It has expanded and changed some over the years, but is still a special day to remember those who have died in combat.

Many people will spend today visiting cemeteries, sharing stories of their loved ones and spending time with family and friends. These are precious moments that remind us of those who have gone on before us, giving their last full measure of devotion for our country.

Memorials are very important to God, as there are more than 30 references to them in the Bible. Most of the 28 mentions in the Old Testament were about remembering what God had done for them. Piles of rocks, books of the law and Aaron's ephod were all called memorials, setting in plain sight the mighty acts of a great and powerful heavenly Father.

Two of the New Testament mentions of memorials, however, were about a woman. Matthew and Mark both tell the story of Mary anointing Jesus in Bethany. Her alabaster box of precious ointment was poured over His head, preparing Jesus for His burial instead of selling it for profit. Jesus quieted the nay-sayers, telling them that she had done a wonderful thing, a kindness that would not be overlooked.

Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her. Matthew 26:13

This act of love by a devoted woman would be recorded for all time. Jesus Christ Himself spoke of her, preserving this moment of faith for all to read.

Mary didn't walk into the room hoping for fame and popularity. She did was her faith led her to do, and because of her love and respect for Jesus Christ, she will be rewarded throughout time. These are the lasting memorials in the kingdom of God - moments when love and faith take precedence over self. The Lord takes delight in preserving and presenting these moments to the world as an example and as tribute.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Sketch

Today's sketch is a simple card with an impactful focal point, or several focal points, down the middle of the card. The size and shape of your centerpiece will let you know what kinds of patterns and embellishments you can use.

Double mat the card with two colors of card stock or a card stock and a decorator paper. If you have room, you can add even more - layers are lovely!

You can stack three words, three parts of verses or three images in the middle, slightly overlapping each one. If you flip the sketch to make it a tall card, you'll have more room up and down, but less width. This will work best if you have more than three words or images.

In honor of Memorial Day weekend, this is the card I made. I changed the sketch from a rectangle to a square, and double matted it with black textured card stock and a glossy BDU patterned paper.

To keep with the stacked blocks down the center, I cut two words out of another piece of patterned paper and ink-distressed them. In the middle is my Bible verse, double-matted and ink-distressed.

For a little something extra and to fill up blank space, I punched stars out of patterned paper and adhered them to each corner.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and wood gifts, is available in our Etsy shop. Come visit today for more inspiration and some great gift ideas.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Weekend Of Closed Doors

Every single door in our house is different. Some have windows, some are solid. Some are colored like our red front door while others are plain wood. Some are sliding glass and others fold up as you open them.

Regardless of what it looks like, the job of a door is to allow you to go in and out while still keeping things out that you don't want in. And keeping things in that you don't want out. The hinges keep it moving freely, and the locks keep us protected from unwanted guests.

And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. John 20:26

Jesus came to the disciples when the doors were shut, bringing a message of peace and love. The doors didn't matter to Him because He was coming in no matter what. He brought peace with Him, despite the doors.

Make this a weekend of paying attention to those closed doors. Are they actually protecting you, or have you closed yourself off from the world around you? Do you need to throw the doors wide open and see what God has to offer you?

Or maybe you've had the doors open too much, and too much of what's out there has come in. You may need to take some time this weekend to close yourself in and spend some much-needed time with the Lord.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Babies On The Property

I need to update a post from a couple of weeks ago. I showed you pictures of Molly and a bunny checking each other out over breakfast. 

The first clarification I need to make is that this is not a he bunny, but a she bunny. Yes, she was eating breakfast, but she was doing so over her brand-new nest.

 Right outside the sun room window was a tiny, warm, dry nest. She had four babies, and they are the sweetest things ever. The eventually grew too big for the nest and hopped around the corner of the house to the fawn pen. It has tall grass i it, so they felt safe there. It's empty now, so we're hoping they've found new homes elsewhere on the property.

We also have another nest over the security light on the big garage. Part of it fell down during the storms last fall, so we pulled the rest down. She rebuilt it very quickly, and these are her first babies of the year. She'll have another set later in the summer. It wouldn't surprise me if they flew away over the weekend.

And, of course, the ponds are full of baby fish and tadpoles. That means lots of baby frogs soon, singing away all day. Ah, spring on the property is so much fun!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Homemade Protein Bars

For a healthy change to your normal snacking, try making your own protein bars. Not only are they fun and easy, but you'll exactly what's going into your food. Plus, they taste amazing.

Note - the first batch I made was very dry and powdery, as this recipe calls for quite a bit more dry ingredients than wet. Adjust your wet ingredients accordingly, and add some almond milk if you need to add some more moisture.

2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup honey
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup protein powder
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries

1. Spray an 8x8 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

3. Press mixture into the baking dish evenly. Refrigerate to help them set and firm up.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You Are My Sunshine Centerpieces

 We had an amazing day Saturday at our church's Mother/Daughter luncheon. We had an enormous salad bar and lemonade bar set up for lunch, and several of our ladies spoke about what they had learned from their mothers and grandmothers that they're passing down to their girls.

Then all of the young girls sang You Are My Sunshine for their moms. It was the cutest thing ever, and they held up big yellow sunshines to complete the picture.

And our speaker, Sandi Nihart, was such a blessing to our hearts. She spoke about how God is our sunshine, but we're also a sunshine to Him. It fit in so perfectly with our ladies Sunday School lesson the next morning and Pastor's message in the morning service that we wondered if they'd all been talking together and planning it.

Our You Are My Sunshine theme was perfect for decorating in pink and yellow and lemonade. These were the center pieces we used on the tables, which were covered in pink and yellow tablecloths.

Start by slicing a lemon in half, and then make three or four thin slices. You want to leave a good chunk of the end.

You'll use that end to make "florist foam" that you don't have to cover up. These flowers were four for $1 at the dollar store, so we were able to use two per goblet.

Once in the goblet, you can push them in further, so the stems come out the bottom of the lemon. Then just arrange the lemon slices around the edges and fill it with water. They were absolutely beautiful on the tables, and we put several of them out in the sanctuary for Sunday services.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

A Weekend Of Comforted Hearts

Has anything happened lately that got your heart racing? Something that caused your heart to skip a beat or feel like it was going to pound out of your chest?

Whether it's anxiety, surprise, fear, over-exertion, worry or just plain old uneasiness, our heart gets put through its paces every day. We don't treat them very kindly as we hurry and worry and fill our thoughts and days with more.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Paul is praying here that as God has promised them eternal consolation, He will now give them comfort and comfort abundantly. He prayed that they would find themselves grounded and established in their current situation and all that was to come. They had been promised comforted hearts, and now Paul was reminding them to find the pleasures and joys that God was showering on them.

Make this a weekend of allowing God to comfort your heart. Whatever has your pulse racing, lay it at His feet. Trade your pounding heart for a heart full of peace and comfort - two blessings that can only come from God Himself. This is where His perfect peace comes from, and a comforted heart is a joyful heart.

Friday, May 15, 2015

When The Wall Falls Down

The one project I wanted to complete last week was getting the corner flower garden by the big garage dug up and replanted. I found two packages of Iowa wildflowers that I very much wanted to use, and the weather was going to be perfect.

But when I went outside to get started, a corner of the retaining wall fell down. I felt very much like an inhabitant of Jericho as stone after stone let gravity have its way. 

So before I could do anything else, Danny had to take down the entire section of wall and start over. It wasn't the project we had intended for the day, but it greatly needed it. Over time, the dirt had settled and pushed some of the blocks out of place. All we had to do was dig them out, level the ground and put them back in.

It took close to three hours, but the wall looks wonderful once again and I was able to get my garden dug out at the same time. I got my seeds in place and even have a few little sprouts. I was so proud of that, and I went running in to tell Danny. When he went to get the truck out to go to work the next day, he couldn't help but laugh. "You know that's grass growing in there, right?" We'll see.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Dressed Up Yogurt

Are you tired of yogurt and granola? Do you want something different but still want the protein of Greek yogurt?

With just four ingredients that you already have in your pantry, you can dress up your yogurt and make it something to look forward to.

This will be very sweet, so adjust the amounts to fit your taste.

1/2 cup or small pre-packaged container vanilla Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp peanut or other nut butter
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp mini chocolate chips

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Garnish top with a few more chips.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Treat Bag Topper

We're in the last few days before our church's mother/daughter luncheon, so we're down to the last-minute details. Our theme is You Are My Sunshine, and everything is covered in yellow and pink and lemonade. It's absolutely adorable!

At each lady's place will be several goodies to take home, including this "sweet" little candy bag. Filled with Lemonhead candies, it's quick and easy to put together and is perfect for our theme.

The average treat bag (the one slightly smaller than a normal baggie) is 6.5 inches wide. I cut my decorator paper into 6.75x4.5 inch rectangles, then folded them in half. The decorator paper is 6.5x2 inches, just smaller than the front panel so it will mat neatly and show a little bit of color.

Then I stamped and cut out happy little lemons. The final touch is the thank-you phrase, which I printed off on the computer and double-matted on yellow and pink.

I alternated pink and yellow card stock and decorator paper so there will different patterns on each table. The toppers are then attached with double stick tape to make them easy to get into.

I'll show you more details next week after the event, so stay tuned! It's going to be a wonderfully sweet day for some wonderfully sweet ladies.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Evening, Morning And At Noon Will I Pray

Thursday was National Day of Prayer, and I spent some time on social media Friday to see some of the comments. I was only on for a few minutes when I had to turn it off.

Prayer is such an important part of my daily life that it's very shocking to read negative comments and non-believers' comments. It's also discouraging to read Christian's posts that say "I know I should pray every day," "My goal is to pray," and "I pray whenever I need to."

Scripture tells us exactly how we are to pray, so it's difficult to understand why where, when and how to pray are even questioned.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice. Psalm 55:17

David prayed at three specific times every day, and probably more that weren't exactly scheduled. This is how Daniel prayed, too, and it was obvious from the Bible's description that this was his habit.

Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime. Daniel 6:10

Even Sunday School children know how Daniel's prayer life led to a miracle in his life.

Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. Daniel 6:23

Not even a den of lions could touch a praying and believing man. That's just one example of the power of prayer.

While a national day of prayer is a wonderful idea to stimulate corporate prayer, prayer isn't just about gathering on a certain day or with a certain group. It's about meeting one-on-one to communicate with our heavenly Father.

But thou, when thou praise, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to the Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Matthew 6:6

Your prayer closet doesn't have to be an actually closet, though that would definitely be a secret place. It could be the corner of your room, out on the deck or tucked in your bed before you get up in the morning. Anywhere you can be alone and undisturbed with God can be your prayer closet.

As we begin our week, my prayer is that we will make every day a day of prayer. There are so many needs and so many blessings to be thankful for, that we should never run out of things to talk about with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 has new meaning in this light: Pray without ceasing.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Sketch

The name of this game (today's sketch) is layers and panels. Two tall pieces of decorator paper are layered on top of backgrounds of solid colors.

Think curtain panels and window dressing.

This would also be a wonderful sketch for a scrapbook page - just choose two coordinating papers and place your focal point photo in the center. You'll have lots of space for embellishments and other photos in the corners.

For my card, I chose two background colors - black and red - knowing that I wanted to use a red and black decorator paper on top.

The focal point is the bouquet of roses, which is tied up with satin ribbon. If you're going to place just one image on this sketch, make sure it has some dimension to it, not just a sticker on a piece of paper.

Instead, think chipboard, ribbon, gems and 3D adhesive. I added red gems to each corner and the center of the roses, giving the eyes a direction to travel.

This card, along with many other cards, paper crafts and wood gifts, can be found in our Etsy shop. Come visit today to get more ideas and the perfect cards and gifts.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Weekend Of Getting Grounded

On a recent walk down by the creek, we couldn't help but notice all of the fallen trees. They were obstacles to crawl over, under and around from one end to the other. And I've learned that I'm not the most graceful climber in the world.

Along the banks, there are more trees that look like they could topple over at any moment. Their roots are showing above the ground, the result of the waters flowing by over the years. While they might not fall over this week, this much loss of ground around them makes their tumbling inevitable.

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is names, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

Make this a weekend of getting grounded. Scripture tells us that Jesus set His face like a flint, and we are called to the same grounding. By maintaining a constant and secure relationship with God, we'll have a rock-solid foundation that is eternally unmovable.

If we aren't settled and established in all knowledge of God's love, we'll topple just as easily as a tree whose roots are exposed. We don't want to be washed away with each little wave, so having a fixed position in the Lord's perfect love is of vital importance.

So get grounded this weekend. Put down your roots in God's love and nothing will move you.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Exercise With A Great Dane Puppy

Hi Molly! Ready to go outside?

It's so much fun to exercise with a 17-month-old Great Dane puppy. She explores absolutely everything, giving me time to catch up with her. She's much lighter on her feet than I am.

Walks mean checking out her favorite spots, like where the beaver is trying to barricade the water flowing from the big pond to the stream. When she pauses, I hurry to catch up.

And then comes the hill. This spot is amazingly photogenic, but it's also a bear to climb. I trade my walking shoes for waders when we're down by the pond, so that makes for a little extra effort.

But the top of the hill is totally worth it.

Molly's not even winded yet, which means we either loop around one of the trails or head back down and go up the other side of the big pond.

Mommy? Are you still back there? Come on!

There's lots for a puppy to learn about when we're out on our walks. Here she's exploring a mole hole. The trail went along the entire side of the pond - they keep very busy.

And the treat at the end of a walk is always sticks ... for Molly anyway. Even if they're longer than she is.

Keeping her exercised and worn out has been a great way for me to be more active, too. And the view doesn't hurt, either.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Wild Berry Cheesecake Cookies

I love recipes that combine the things that I love - chocolate and peanut butter, cheese and pasta, sushi and more sushi.

This cookie recipe combines cream cheese and muffin mix to create an amazing cookie that's so much better than store-bought.

Try them. And then see if you don't end up making more before the week is over.

Yes, I speak from experience.

4 oz cream cheese (half a box, so you can actually make two batches)
1/2 cup Crisco, butter flavored
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 packages muffin mix (7 oz of your favorite flavor, I used wild berry)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
half a package of white chocolate chips (or more, depending on your taste)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Trim parchment paper to fit your cookie sheet. (This is super important. Don't skip this.)

2. Cream the cream cheese, Crisco and brown sugar together until well incorporated. Add the eggs and the vanilla, combining thoroughly.

3. Stir in the muffin mixes and the flour. Fold in the chips.

4. Place dough onto parchment paper-covered baking sheets in large, rounded spoonfuls. Bake at 325 degrees for 15-16 minutes. The tops will still look a little wet, but trust me, the bottoms are crispy and brown.

5. Place the tray on a cooling rack, without removing the cookies, until they're cool. They'll fall completely apart if you try to move them too soon.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

An Altered Basket Wall Hanging

 I get very tired of reading instructions for craft and DIY projects that require you to buy 27 things, take hours of work and force you to take out a second mortgage to put together. I'd much rather put something together with bits and pieces I already have and wouldn't use otherwise.

That's why I made this altered basket wall hanging, complete with one of my favorite Scriptures. I have used the basket for many different things over the years, but it's been in the top of a cabinet for several months. I bought the burlap for my tree slice wreath, and the flowers are from my Easter bulletin board at the church. I printed out the verse on paper I already had, and I pulled out my glue gun, which was fully loaded.

Three easy steps ...

... and four pieces later, I have a beautiful hanging for the dining room.

I wove the burlap through the bottom, and I was completely surprised that exactly four widths fit through. Couldn't have done that if I'd planned it.

Then I hot glued three flowers into the corner, making sure there was plenty of glue holding it in. You have to be even more diligent when it's hanging up - thank you, gravity.

I printed out my verse and matted it on heavy blue card stock and attached it with 3D pop dots. One strategically placed nail and it's exactly like I pictured it.

And without spending a single penny. I like that.