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Showing posts from July, 2015

My Book Stack This Week - Or What Happens When You Go To Two Used Book Sales In Two Months

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I love book sales. I love to read the titles of every single book. I love to look for certain authors. I love to be surprised by books on subjects I love that I didn't know existed. I love that you never know what you'll find. I love that one man's donated book is another man's treasured book.

I love books.

So having two used book sales in two months in two towns has been a wonderful time for me. I found several books by my favorite fiction writer, as well as trunk-loads of study books and just-for-fun books. I don't think any of them are very new, and that makes them all the more fun!

Did I mention that I love books?

I've already read through many of them, and they have found a permanent home on one of the many bookshelves in our house. The rest are piled up on my end table, just begging to be read.

Here's just a sampling of what's on the stack right now.

1. Making Scrapbooks: Complete Guide to Preserving Your Treasured Memories. Published in 1998, th…

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Muffins

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I especially enjoy recipes that use up pantry ingredients. You know, those staples that you almost always have one hand. There's nothing more frustrating than finding a great recipe and having to run to the store because it calls for something out of the ordinary.

That's why I love these special oatmeal muffins. You probably have everything you need to make them right this minute in your pantry - go check!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup quick oats
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup milk (I used almond)
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups apples, diced

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a muffin pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients.

3. Add the milk, eggs, oil and vanilla. Stir until well combined.

4. Fold in the diced apples.

5. Fill muffin tin 2/3 full with batter. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

6. Cool muffi…

Happy Birthday To Me!

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Chalk + Stencil = Beautiful!

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 While digging through a drawer in the craft room, I came across a large container of chalks. I never found the other things I was looking for, but the colors showing through the lid sure got me thinking. I had to sit down and play for a while to get some of my chalky ideas on paper.

Most paper crafters have chalk in their collections but hardly ever use them. If you pair them with stencils, you can have a variety of patterns and shapes at your disposal.

A variety of colors can help you create your own background, coordinating specifically with the paper and embellishments you have on hand. Here is created a primary colored background paper for a birthday card. To make the chalk smudge-proof, just spray it lightly with hair spray.

You can use the same technique with a smaller stencil for a border. Here is chose the smallest circle I could find.


And it became the fall border I wanted for this encouragement card. I stamped the leaves in black so the color from the chalks would show thr…

Sunday Sketch

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Pick your favorite patterned paper and get ready for some fun with this week's sketch! With a small sentiment area and just a couple of embellishments, you can really showcase a beautiful set of papers.

Double mat the background using a solid color and your perfectly coordinated pattern. Triple mat with a coordinating solid if you like - the more layers, the merrier, I always say.

The area with your small sentiment starts with a matted strip in a coordinating solid color and a more muted pattern. Then add two embellishments on the corner and you're all set!
For my card, I started with a jeweled, textured card stock and matted one of my favorite fall patterned papers on top of it. Both of them are ink-distressed.

Then I matted a second pattern onto a lighter colored card stock so it would stand out against the busy background pattern. This is the secret to mixing patterns - contrasting colors and making sure they don't overshadow each other.

The phrase is hand-stamped and …

A Weekend Of Courage

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Three of his baby bird brothers had already flown from the nest, but he sat there on the edge. He would flutter his wings little and peer over the side, but he stayed put. There was a whole world out there for him to explore, but he sat on the brink.

It would be two more days before he summoned up the courage to fly to a neighboring tree. The rest of his family took off long before he did, flying to the sky before he was willing to let his little feet let go of the safety of the nest.

Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest. Joshua 1:9

We're all guilty of holding on to the edge of the nest a little too tightly. God is calling us to fly away into something that we're not quite ready for, so we flap our wings a little, sit on the edge a little and focus on how far away the ground looks if we don't make it.

Make this a weekend of courage. One of God's mu…

When Water And Gravity Mix

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It's been such a rainy, stormy 2015 in Iowa. We laugh that it always rains on Danny's day off, but that's been the truth for the past couple of months. It's difficult to keep up with work on the property when it's either storming or flooding. The ground is so saturated that it hasn't been able to keep up.

The other dramatic effect of the rain is what it does to our driveway. It's a pretty steep incline, and torrential downpours cause huge crevices in the gravel as it flows downhill. A car can make it up and down, but it's a jarring, jolting trip. It's pretty amazing to see how weather works, but it's not so much fun to get sloshed about trying to get home.

It always makes me think about the pioneer days, how they would have handled traveling through across the country with no roads at all. Their roads and land would have looked much like this after the rain, too, and wagon wheels would have had much more trouble getting through these ruts than …

Honey Cornbread

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There's nothing better with chili or beans and rice than warm, gooey, sticky cornbread. If this is your honest opinion, too, you'll love how easy it is to make honey cornbread by altering a box mix.

Use two boxes of cornbread mix, substituting one of the eggs with 1/4 cup of honey. Bake according to the package directions.

When it comes out of the oven, while it's still warm, serve it up and drizzle a little more honey over the top. It will soak in, making it the perfect, oozy-gooey texture.

You can also alter it even further by combining this cornbread recipe with this one for cornbread with actual corn. Drain a little of the corn juice out of the can before you add it in or it will be a little too wet and loose when it comes out of the oven.

Words For Wednesday

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Reversible Holiday Blocks

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A few weeks ago I told you about a wonderful collection of wooden shapes we had received from friends of ours. I've already made a few projects with them, but this one has to be my favorite.

One side is designed for fall and Thanksgiving ....

While the other side is all ready for Christmas!

 You could do this with any sized block you want, but these are 1 1/4-inches square. First I covered them with a coating of stain. You can see the difference between the finished ones on the left and the plain ones on the right. I think the stain makes them look like little cheesecakes, but that's just me.

Then I used a very light coat of ModPodge on the back of 1-inch squares of seasonal scrapbook paper to attach them to the wood. I let them dry overnight.

Finally, I added foam letter stickers to spell out the wording.
There's one more step after this, but it's a surprise. I'll have these at Walk On Art Street in September, so you'll have to stay tuned to see how I dress t…

We're In Combat Mode

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I made a special trip to a local sporting goods store recently to get a pair of shirts.

No, you won't find Danny and me dressed in matching outfits. Ever. Coordinating, perhaps, but not matching.

We needed something to kick-start a change in our lives. We realized we've become pretty complacent in our routine.

You know that a rut is just a grave with the ends kicked out, right?

So we are officially in combat mode.

For us, that means fighting the good fight of faith in every aspect of our lives. No matter what.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to st…

Sunday Sketch

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Can't choose between a great picture and an amazing phrase? Design a card this week that puts both your image and your sentiment front and center.

Lots of layers are lovely, and this is your opportunity to use them. A beautiful patterned paper is paired with a phrase and image, beautifully balancing each other out.

Layer two coordinating colors, then make a border of pattern on one side.

Mat your image. Mat your sentiment. Add any embellishments you'd like and you're done!
For my card, I chose a beautiful vintage flowered paper and matched it up with two colors of card stock, each ink-distressed. I also cut out an additional flower from he patterned paper as a little extra embellishment.

The block of patterned paper is torn to show the white core, making the definition in the middle a little more stark.

My phrase, Letters are visits when friends are apart, is stamped and matted near the middle, while the embossed image balances it out in the bottom corner.

This card, alon…

A Weekend Of Singing Along

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There's within my heart a melody - it's more than just the opening lyrics of a hymn. It's my heart.

If you're around me for any period of time, you'll notice that I'm always singing or humming. It's very rare for me to not have a sing going through my head - and yes, everything reminds me of a sing.

You've been warned...

There's probably a song on your heart, too. It's just another proof that humans are designed to worship the Lord.

But I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. Psalm 59:16

Make this a weekend of singing along with the song the Lord had placed in your heart. It may be a phrase of praise. Or a tune of thanksgiving. Or a melody of mercy. Or a line of love. Or a chorus of compassion.

Whatever it is, whatever that melody drifting through you is, sing it. Sing it loud and sing it strong. It's the song that God has placed there ju…

Planning A Grocery List That Will Save You Time And Money

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One of our local grocery stores recently rearranged its shelves. I understand their strategy because like items are now grouped together, but it's been a very confusing time for people.

I was actually able to help one woman who just wanted to know where the bread was. She said she felt like she was just wandering in circles, so I walked her two feet over from where she was looking. When she said she felt silly, I told her there was no reason.

It's a confusing time.

My grocery list is set up by aisle, saving tons of time, energy and money along the way. So when the store was turned upside down, I had to redo my list.

With a few spare minutes one afternoon while I was out running other errands, I stopped in to the grocery store. (Once they were done with their arranging.) Beginning with the right side - produce - and working my way to the left - the health market - I mapped out each aisle. This is the path I make when I shop, staying mostly to the outside edge of the store, so …

Baked Cake Mix Doughnuts

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There are about a hundred things you can do with a boxed cake mix, and these wonderful "cake" doughnuts are a great example. You can mix and match flavors and glazes to make something different every time. When they're warm they taste more like doughnuts, but cooled they taste more like cupcakes. When you eat them is entirely up to you...

Don't follow the instructions on the box or they won't come out as doughnuts. And don't overfill the pan or they'll turn out as cupcakes instead of doughnuts. (Yes, that is your example on the left there.) Instead, use the measurements below, and only fill the pans about half full.

It does mean, however, that there is a little well to hold the runoff of glaze. This is definitely a very good thing.


I took a batch of tiny doughnuts to the church picnic, and they were a huge hit. It's a good thing I kept a few at home or we might not have gotten any.
Ingredients: 1 box of your favorite cake mix 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1 …

Words For Wednesday

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Sea Shell Wind Chimes

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I sat with a box of sea shells in front of me. We're still doing some sorting and purging all over the house, and I really didn't want to get rid of these shells. They're the remnants of some amazing crab-stuffed shells, and I knew there had to be something I could do with them.

I decided to make them into wind chimes for the deck. I sit in the sun room for most of the day, so it would be nice to have a little natural music to work by.

After soaking them in water for a few hours, Danny drilled a hole in each shell. We used a total of 10 shells.

With the smaller of two sizes of twine, I tied a knot in the bottom of each strand and strung a shell. Then another knot and shell, and again, and again - I think you get the picture. 

There are three shells on each of the outside stands and four in the middle.

Then I took one of the many sticks that has blown down during the recent storms and broke it to the size I wanted. I tied the ends of each strand to the stick, triple-knotti…

7 Practical Ways To Cultivate A Spirit Of Encouragement

I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that you know what it's like to be discouraged.

At some point in our day ... week ... year ... life, circumstances beyond our control take over. Our expectations aren't met and the next thing you know, you're holding a pity party for yourself. It might take a while to shake yourself out of it, but eventually those feelings go away and your life returns to normal - whatever that looks like.

So if you know what it feels like to be discouraged, you should be able to easily recognize it in other people, right?

Maybe you can and maybe you can't, but often the problem is that we just plain don't.

God calls us to be women of encouragement. He very specifically wants us to lift each other up in troubling times and remind one another of life's blessings.

Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth;…

Sunday Sketch

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This week's sketch lets you mix and match patterns, while making your sentiment front and center.

For a fun twist, raise your matted layer on 3D adhesive for some added dimension. Match up the pattern and it will give it an amazing look.

Choose your patterns carefully, as they'll need to stand out against each other. Stay in the same color family, or use papers from a coordinating set. The less thinking the better, right?

A trio of embellishments in the corner and a centered phrase will complete your one-of-a-kind card.
For my card, I used two papers from a coordinating set - see, no thinking required. I matched up two pieces of striped paper for my background, then raised the top layer on 3D adhesive.

Everything is ink-distressed, including the cream card stock piece on top and the flourish die cut.

Three red gems match the color in the patterned paper, but you could use any embellishment here that you like.

And it's finished off with a card stock sticker thanks.

For mor…

A Weekend Of Following Directions

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As you drive your car from point A to point B, there are signs everywhere to tell you where to go and what to do.

• Stop
• Yield
• No right turn
• Pedestrians crossing
• School zone
• Railroad tracks
• Keep left
• No U-turn
• Children at play

If you're not paying attention to the signs, you can cause an accident, hurt someone or worse. The signs aren't there to hinder you - they're directing you in a careful way so everybody is safe on the road.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. Isaiah 30:21

Make this a weekend of following directions. God has promised to point you in His perfect path, but you have to be quiet enough to hear Him. He says your ears will hear a word behind you, not a shout from in front of you. That takes away the necessity for you to listen for the Lord. The signs are there - you just have to be paying attention.

If you're not hearing His st…

Store Your Outdoor Tools In A Handy Place

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 If you walk between our big garage and little garage, you'll think the mailman has a long way to go to deliver our letters. When we first moved here, the mailbox (which is down by the highway) was on its last legs ... literally. We replaced it and this one got lost in a pile of leaves and rocks for three years.

I came across it quite by accident when I was cleaning out the rock bed this spring. It's perfectly good, just a little rusty and its legs were bent and broken. So instantly I knew what I wanted to repurpose it for. 

It now holds all of my garden tools. Inside you'll find bug spray, my work gloves, some plastic bags for trash and my hand tools. Now the things I need for berry picking, gardening and other yard work is all in one place.
The first step was to clean it up, and I used a bleach cleaner since most pests don't like the strong smell. After I removed the snake skin from the back (seriously) and got it wiped out, it was ready to go.

One of the hardest pa…

Italian Chicken Pasta Bake

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We've been looking for a lot of simple, inexpensive recipes lately. We're both so busy, and by suppertime we're blessed to be thinking straight, let alone standing at the stove for long periods of time.

This pasta bake is a great solution for this. It takes abut 20 minutes to put together and 20 minutes to bake. Add a salad and bread and you have a complete meal.

Ingredients:
5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 box of your favorite pasta
1 jar chunky garden pasta sauce
1 bag shredded cheese (Italian mix or mozzarella)

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare the pasta according to the box directions, cutting the cook time by about two minutes.

3. Cut the chicken into bite-sized chunks. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet, then add the chicken and season with Italian seasonings.

4. When the pasta is done, mix with the chicken and pasta sauce. Pour into the baking dish and cover completely with the shr…

Words For Wednesday

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Walk On Art Street And My Magnetic Personality

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Good friends gave us several containers full of wooden shapes while they were doing some cleaning out and organizing at their house. It was like Christmas as I went through them to discover what all we had been so generously given.

Some were specific parts for specific projects, but the ones that caught my eye were the recognizable shapes. There were trees and leaves and several sizes of hearts and stars. The arrows (I think they were originally little houses, but they're the perfect little arrows) have tons of possibilities.

For the Christmas trees, I painted them dark green and embellished them with tiny colored, self-stick gems.

I love how the maple leaves turned out. After a coat of dark orange paint, I drew in the veins with a thin permanent marker.

We have 12 weeks until Walk on Art Street, and I think these will make great magnets for then. I also have special plans for the stars and hearts, which include larger pieces of wood, lots of glitter glue and Bible verses. I'…

Poison Ivy And Lessons Learned

More than three weeks ago I got a terrible, horrible case of poison ivy. Danny had poison oak from cutting down some trees on the property, so I was pretty sure that was what I had, but it was ivy not oak.

I wouldn't wish poison anything on anybody. Not only does it cause itching and fever, it hangs on for as long as it can, and there's very little you can do about it.

Truth be told, I was out berry picking when I got it. We have dozens upon dozens of berry bushes on our property, but the best-looking ones weren't right on the path, they were in the next section back. So after pushing and pulling and cutting my way through the closest bushes, I was able to get back to those really great berries behind them.

I employ the famous two-one method for berry picking - two for me, one of the bucket. Works for me, and there plenty to make a cake and some jam.

But within hours, I knew I had a problem. The itching and bumps came out almost immediately. It took two weeks of Benadryl a…

Sunday Sketch

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Here's your opportunity to match up some of those amazing patterned papers I know you have. They're the ones that you love, but you've never been quite sure how to use them to their fullest.

They're also the ones you're saving for a "special occasion." I know because I do that all the time.

For this card, you'll mat your favorite patterned paper on a solid colored background. Then find two more patterns that coordinate.

One will be the circle and the other will be the strip running across the width of the card.

A phrase and some embellishments round out this colorful card.

For my card, I chose a bright orange background and matted one of my favorite busy patterns on top. Both are ink-distressed.

Then I added a circle and banner in coordinating papers and ink-distressed them as well.

The card stock sticker phrase is accented with three buttons, each threaded with white fibers. Since coming across a large collection of buttons a few weeks ago, I've…