As 2016 comes to a close, I've been looking back on the year and finding some great memories. It hasn't been the easiest year, but it has been full of God's blessings, grace and love.
Our property is my favorite place to be. We have acres of woods, plenty of places to explore with the dogs and wildlife all over. It's fun to look out the window and see something new every day, just like this group of deer having a morning snack.
Another nice part of living in the country is the lack of lights. When the skies are clear, we can see the moon and stars shine so brightly.
I had fun learning lots of new craft skills this year, and this picket fence succulent planter was one of my favorites. Click here for the instructions. You can also choose the "crafts" category on the left side of this page to see everything I made in 2016, complete with tutorials.
Early in the year we had to put Bailey down after 14 amazing years of her life. She was my very first dog, so it was very difficult, but she brought us so much joy.
Sadie is also 14, and she's starting to slow down a little. She's had hip dysplasia in both back hips all her life, but she's never complained. She loves to walk in the woods and explore all the smells no matter her age or health.
And then there's Molly. This picture is her personality in a nutshell. She wants to be in the middle of everything and make sure you know she's there. Molly adores being with people, and she is definitely a 130-pound lap dog. Especially when you have popcorn.
Along with time spent with all our family and friends, we were blessed to have Danny's parents stay with us for a few weeks this year. We love them so much, and it's great to be their first and last stops when they're back in the states. We're looking forward to seeing them again next summer.
There have been many opportunities this year to stretch my creativity and grow in my home decorating and crafting skills. It's also been a chance for me to live a little more frugally, learning to take care of our home and still be a good steward of the money God has given us. To see all 12 wreaths I made, mostly from upcycled and dollar store embellishments, click here.
I think I've been more adventurous in my cooking explorations this year than ever before. Instead of getting stuck in my comfort zone, I've branched out into new cultures, ingredients and spices. It's also fun to find new blackberry recipes every year to make the most of the acres of wild blackberry bushes we have on the property.
I praise the Lord for the ways He has blessed Stuff From Trees this year. I have had many new customers in the online shop, had invitations to several local shows and met so many people who were interested in my work. I branched out into gift packaging this year, which received recognition from the Faithbox founder.
One of the highlights of 2016 was our church's Ladies Retreat - He Leadeth Me. We were blessed to host Mina Ogelsby again this year, who has always been an help and inspiration to me. It was so wonderful to spend the weekend with ladies from all over the area and learn how to be a better follower of our Lord and Savior.
One of my favorite culinary projects of the year was Danny's birthday cake. He sent me a picture of what he wanted, and I was so excited to give it a try. The inside is cut and stacked to look like his plaid shirt, and the outside is decorated with swirled icing and Flake bars to look like a tree stump.
Apparently it was perfect!
I pray you have a warm and cozy new year, filled with special blessings from the Lord. Let's prepare our hearts for everything He has planned for us in 2017.