Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Sketch

When we were little, tearing things up, knocking things down and destroying hours of hard work was considered fun.

With today's sketch, it can be again.

With a torn corner, your card can combine layers of colors and patterns, while showing off what lies beneath.

Choose two or three colors of card stock and a coordinating pattern. Layer them as your background with two patterns as the top and bottom layers. This will give you a surprise peeking out from behind your card.

Add a corner embellishment and a sentiment for an adorable, unique look.
For my card, I chose three colors of card stock that coordinated with my two patterned papers. I started with the green, then matted one of the patterns on top of it.

Then I worked from the top down, tearing the top patterned paper first. I matted that on the yellow and tore it, then matted both on the red and tore that. This gave me enough room for enough of the back pattern to show through.

My top pattern already had the corner embellishment on it, but you could use an additional pattern, die cuts or hand-stamped images.

For more great ideas, come visit our Etsy shop today. You'll find cards, paper crafts, hand-turned pens, wood puzzles and lots of other great gift ideas.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

A Weekend Of Loving The Unlovable

Love is in the air! The store aisles are full of red and pink and candy and cuddly stuffed animals. Our thoughts are on how deeply we care, how that someone special has changed our lives and how bright the future looks because of love.

Ah, love.

It's easy to love someone who loves you back. It's simply to profess your love and be sweet on those special holidays. It's practically painless to reciprocate when someone shares their lovey-dovey feelings first.

What about when it's not so easy?

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. Matthew 5:44

That doesn't sound very romantic, does it? Enemies, cursing, hate, spite, persecution - I don't think we have a card in our Etsy shop for any of those.

Our natural inclination is to abandon those who wrong us and do us evil. "If they don't care, why should I?" In His sermon on the mount, however, Jesus told the people that these were the exact people who needed love - His love - the most.

Make this a weekend of loving the unlovable. Love the people who'd rather not be in a room with you. Be kind to those who don't care if they ever see you again. Exchange hateful feelings for those of compassion. Pray for the people who would rather use you and persecute you.

This may be the challenge of a lifetime, but it can also be life-altering.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Sneaking In A Workout

Do you not have an hour or two every day for a nice, long workout? You don't need one if you think "exercise" all day long.

1. Do things the hard way. We've made so many of our daily chores "easier" and they're not physically demanding anymore. Vacuuming, scrubbing and other cleaning can all be great, short exercises throughout the day. No more shortcuts!

2. Though it sounds cliche, take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far end of the parking lot and carry as much as you can safely handle while you're out running errands. Your body might balk at first, but it will thank you for it later.

3. Just because you're sitting in a chair all day doesn't mean you can't exercise. Leg lifts, cactus-arm stretches and seated twists can tone muscles and work out the kinks from a long period of inactivity.

4. Set your phone alarm to go off every couple of hours. When it dings, get up and walk around, grab your hand weights for a few curls or jog around the house a time or two. Having set times to move around will help you keep track of your progress.

5. Call a friend and chat while you walk. You should be walking at a comfortable pace so you can still speak but not just meander. It's a fun way to catch up and get in a few minutes of exercise - unless you're chatty and want to keep going.

6. Before you hit the shower in the morning, take five minutes to do sit ups, jumping jacks, squats and a wall sit. Don't take a break in between, just go from one to the other and you're sure to get your heart rate up.

7. If you don't feel too silly, you can throw a few exercises into your morning routine in other ways, too. Squat while you brush your teeth. Do calf raises while curling your hair. Wall sit while you're filing your nails. Consider it a personal challenge to multitask!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Pork Tenderloin Salad

When you live in Iowa, you're able to easily get a variety of pork cuts. We have the best hog farmers in the world, so we're blessed with amazing meat.

The tenderloin is a great, versatile cut of pork. With very little effort you can have a tasty main course dish that your entire family will love.

This salad is the perfect way to experiment with a pork tenderloin. Just grab a couple of extra ingredients and you're all set.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 24-ounce pork tenderloin
seasoned salt to taste
1 packet apple cider mix
8 oz warm  water

1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet. Slice tenderloin into 1/2-3/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle one side with seasoned salt.

2. When oil is hot, lay tenderloin slices into pan seasoned side down. Sprinkle other side with seasoned salt. Brown both sides of each slice, 2-3 minutes per side.

3. While meat is browning, mix apple cider mix into water. Stir to combine.

4. When tenderloin is browned, remove from pan. Deglaze the pan with apple cider, making sure to scrape off the browned bits. The cider will thicken slightly as it heats.

5. Add the meat back into the pan and finish cooking on both sides. Flipping the slices frequently will ensure they're covered with sauce.

6. Serve 3-4 tenderloin slices on top of a mixed greens salad.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How To Pick A Craft Project When There Are So Many Choices

Surely you've never had this problem: you feel like crafting, so you go in search of a new project. You open up your closet, walk into your craft room or sit down at the table.

And that's as far as you get.

With all of your supplies, idea books and mind full of possibilities, it can get a little overwhelming.

OK, a lot overwhelming to be truthful. The shelves and piles and projects seem daunting, and it's pretty normal to just walk away without doing a thing. It's easier that getting caught under a falling avalanche of craft supplies.

So what's a woman to do when she wants to start a project but there are too many choices? Here are just a few ideas to jump start your creativity. (And yes, I'm taking my own advice this week!)

* Straighten things up. As you organize your workspace, you'll come across supplies you forgot you had, or something little will spark an idea. Stop whatever you're doing and run with it!

* Work in a circle around the room, closet or table. Start at the door and complete the first project you see. Then the next one and the next one.

* Read through one idea book and pick one project. Don't get bogged down reading - just latch on to one really great idea and see it through.

* Ignore all the ideas in your head and work on a project that you already have all the supplies for. This isn't the time to make a list of what you need to buy in order to finish a project. It's an opportunity to use up some things you've collected - no money needed!

* Find something that you've never done before and learn a new technique.

* Find something you're comfortable with and use some of your favorite techniques.

* Make one thing for someone else, and then make something special for yourself.

* When you leave your craft space for the day, leave the supplies for the next project out on your workspace. Then you won't have to think the next come you come in - you're all ready to get started!

Monday, January 25, 2016

It Is "Snow" Secret What God Can Do

Some things are good secrets. Party plans, for example, and what's inside that gift bag. Surprise visits, personal information and a friend's words spoken in confidence are wonderful secrets.

There are also bad secrets. Pain, regret and holding on to a grudge are all examples of secrets that shouldn't be kept. These are the secrets that slowly eat away at you until all that's left is bitterness.

Jesus Christ told the people gathered one day that they had something inside them that they couldn't keep secret. It needed to come spilling out like a light in the darkness.

No man, when he hath lighted a candle, covereth it with a vessel, or put it under a bed; but setteth it on a candlestick, that they which enter in may see the light. For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither is any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad. Luke 8:16-17

It is no secret what God can do, and the truth of the true and living God was now in the hearts of Jesus' followers. The last thing they were to do, He explained, was keep that knowledge hidden away inside them. It wasn't meant for keeping to themselves, but shared with everyone they knew. Keeping the gospel from a lost and dying world was unthinkable to Christ, and this was a practical explanation that they couldn't miss.

So, here's an important question: are you good at keeping secrets or not? Can you hold out under penalty of tickles or do you let things slip at the first possible moment?

When it comes to the Word of God, I hope you refuse to keep secrets. You may be the only Bible someone sees today, and that would be a wonderful opportunity wasted. So let it all out! Don't let the miracles God can do in a heart and life be a secret.

Don't keep this one to yourself!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Find a pretty ribbon and a tag for hanging so you'll be ready to tackle today's sketch.

This is a great, versatile sketch that gives you several parts to change out based on your theme, colors and sentiment. Get creative and see how many different looks you can get from this one outline.

Start with a solid color of card stock, then cut decorator paper for a mat. Before attaching it to the background, add a coordinating panel across the middle, string up a tag and tie a pretty bow. Then it will be ready to attach.

A second image in the bottom corner and any other pretty embellishments you might choose will make this a gorgeous layout for someone special.
For my card, I started with a background of dark pink card stock. Then I cut a piece of decorator paper with slightly-out-of-focus diamonds (which I love!) for a mat.

Before attaching it to the background, I adhered a thin strip of pink feather boa paper across the card and strung the padlock image onto a white satin ribbon. Then I put all the pieces together.

My sentiment is actually on the key rather than the padlock, but this is just one example of how you can mix and match your embellishments in countless ways. Tiny white gems embellish each corner for a little more sparkle.

For more great ideas, come visit our Etsy shop. With hundreds of listings to browse through, you're sure to find some amazing layouts as well as cards and gifts to send.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Weekend Of Following The Good

This is what I'm used to seeing as I move around the house. Molly refuses to let me out of her sight - ever - and the girls think they're missing out on something, so they're right there with her.

Until you've had to shut and lock the bathroom door to keep two black labs and a Great Dane from following you, you've never really been followed.

Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 3 John 1:11

Make this a weekend of following the good. Anybody can follow - that's just a matter of getting behind someone and letting them take you wherever they want you to go. Unless you're following the good, God's good, you'll never know exactly where you'll end up. And that's no way to live life.

Follow the good. God's good is the only thing you can follow in this life and rest assured you'll be exactly where you need to be exactly when you need to be there.

Being in the center of the perfect will of God sounds like a good place to be, doesn't it?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Our Friendly Deer Population

 Molly has a very distinct growl that she uses when she sees something outside. It's different than her "chasing shadows" bark and her "I think I might have heard something. Just thought I'd let you know" growl. When I hear it, I drop what I'm doing and head to the window.

This week it was for a pair of deer. I always wonder if she thinks they look like her. Maybe they're long-lost cousins.

Then I realized it wasn't two deer, it was three. They were slowly working their way down the ridge looking for a morning snack.

While I watched and took pictures, another one came charging down the hill to join them, making four deer. And you'll notice, as I quickly did, that there's another set of hooves in this photo.

There were actually five.

They're all decked out in their winter outfits, which are so cute and shaggy at this time of year.

As you study this picture, though, start counting legs. Somewhere along they way they picked up deer #6. I had no idea that we had this many all moving together on the property, so it was quite fun to watch them interact. This is why I listen when Molly tells me things.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Red Potatoes

If you're looking for a side dish recipe that you can set before church on Sunday morning and have ready by the time you get home for lunch, look no further. Not only are they quick and easy, they're also incredibly yummy!

12 red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
olive oil
garlic powder
seasoned salt

1. After scrubbing and halving the potatoes, layer them in a large slow cooker.

2. Drizzle olive oil and stir potatoes until completely coated.

3. Sprinkle on garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper to taste. Stir again to coat.

4. Cook in slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

An Upcycled Rolodex Into A Scripture Inspiration Album

One of my decisions for the new year was to surround myself with as much Scripture as possible. This altered album is one more way to keep God's Word before me.

With just three things - an old Rolodex, scrap paper and verses - anyone can create these pages.

I found my Rolodex at the local thrift store for $1, and it really needed a good cleaning. All I had to do was take the pages off, soak it in my soapy dish water and let it dry. Pretty simple way to start.

Since I didn't want to have to re-cut the holes holding the pages in, I only covered the top portion of each page with decorator paper. This saves tons of time, paper and energy.

Each of the pages is now covered front and back, and the tabbed pages are covered in coordinating card stock.

Then I went through my collection of stickers and found tons of verses that I will probably never use on a card because of their shape, size or color. These instantly became the perfect embellishments for these pages.

Now I can have the Scriptures on my desk where I can see them while I work each day.

Do you have something you could turn into a Scripture display?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Be A Warrior, Not A Worrier

Our natural inclination as human beings is to worry.

Is the weather going to be terrible today?
Will we be safe on the road?
Is this illness terminal?
Did she really mean what she said?
Will we get through this?
Should I have done something differently?
What if ...?
How ...?
Why ...?

The mind is a terrible thing to waste, but for most of us this will never be a problem. Our thoughts crash into each other as we try to think through all the possibilities, prepare ourselves for the worst and figure everything out. By the time we go to bed at night we've probably thought more thoughts and worried over more worries today than we id yesterday. If that's possible.

Sounds exhausting, doesn't it?

And what makes it worse is that we know God never wants us to live like this.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

Change two letters and you'll make all the difference in the world.

Go from a worrier to a warrior!

Paul might as well have been speaking to you and me when he wrote this letter to the Philippians all those centuries ago. He warned them that being careful - being worried and anxious - would get them nowhere. They were wasting their energy trying to figure things out for themselves when God had a bigger, better plan for them.

Instead, Paul explained, swap out the "o" for an "a" and the "e" for an "o" to change that word. Two little vowels and the meaning is dramatically changed.

From a worrier to warrior!

And he told them exactly how to replace the negative, worried spirit for one of peace and calm: prayer, supplication and thanksgiving.

Does that sound too easy? So what? Stop worrying about it and determine to make a change.

The next time you start to worry - about your circumstances, your family, your future - stop everything you're doing and start praying. Praise the Lord for His goodness, confess your tendency to worry, thank Him for the many blessings in your life and trust Him to do what's the absolute best for you.

A prayer warrior can have an immediate, positive effect while a worrier just lets things snowball.

At the end of the day, which would you rather be?

And are you willing to lay aside your worry to be what God created you to be? If you'll let Him, He will turn you into a powerful warrior for His honor and glory.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Not until seeing this picture posted here did I realize today's sketch looks a little bit like a Christmas tree. That's an interesting idea - I'll let you run with it.

The actual design requires a patterned background paper and a random arrangement of embellishments, creating a visual treat for the card's recipient.

Or a Christmas tree. You decide.

Start with a subtle pattern for your first background paper, then find a coordinating and busier pattern to go on top. Leave the right edge straight or add a fun border with scissors or tearing.

Then highlight parts of the pattern with embellishments like gems, metal brads, eyelets and buttons. The sky's the limit with this one.

A small sentiment in the corner will tie the whole thing together.

For my card, I started with a green and white polka-dotted paper. The flowered pattern has the same green in the wheels, and the right edge is scalloped, allowing more of the green to show.

Then comes the fun part - there are a variety of colored gems in the centers of the flowers. Too much fun!

And a verse matted on another coordinating pattern overlaps the two patterns, tying them together.

For more great ideas, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find hundreds of cards and paper crafts, plus some amazing wood gifts.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

A Weekend Of Telling Time

When I turn on my iPad, this is the picture on my lock screen. Danny took this picture and set it up for me. Sometimes I just push the button so I can see this photo - not to actually turn the machine on or anything...

So I love checking the time on my iPad, even though we have multiple clocks in every room. When I want to see how slowly or quickly the day is progressing, I just hit that little button and find out the time - and see my husband's sweet smile.

That's definitely good motivation to check the time.

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:8

How wonderful it is to think that once we get to heaven, time won't matter anymore. Some days on earth feel like they're about a thousand years long, even though they're the same 24 hours as usual. The difference will be that we'll be so busy praising the Lord in heaven that the time is completely irrelevant.

Make this a weekend of telling time. Not the clock time, though that may be important tomorrow for getting to church in a timely fashion, but the eternal time. Lay up treasures in heaven today so they will be waiting for you one day down the road. Those busy-work things won't have any meaning compared to the thousand years as one day moments in eternity.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Great Dane Logic

 If you've never had a Great Dane, you might not be familiar with their logic.

They let you know they're there with quiet subtlety.

They love to help with yard work.

And with craft projects.

They need to have a view of everything in their world.

And naps in the sunshine are a must.

Once they get comfortable.

Sort of comfortable, anyway.

Whatever it takes to be comfortable.

And they know it's their job to protect the house from squirrels. And deer. And turkeys. And occasionally the wind.

But the most important Dane logic you'll ever know is that they love you unconditionally and just want to be close.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cinnamon Spice Cookies From A Cake Mix

Do you have a cake mix in your pantry right now? How about a little butter and a couple of eggs in the refrigerator?

If so, you have the makings of an incredible cookie.

That's right - not a cake, but cookies.

Starting your cookie baking with a cake mix, butter and eggs means you'll be finished quickly and have time left over to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Cookies of your labor. Something like that.

1 boxed cake mix (I used spice cake)
1/3 cup melted butter
2 eggs
1/2 package baking chips (I used cinnamon chips)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Mix cake mix, butter and eggs in a large bowl. Roll into balls and place nine on the cookie sheet.

3. Gently press the chips into the top of each ball, flattening it slightly.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 7-8 minutes. The bottom edge will be slightly brown and the top will bounce back if you touch it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Pull Out That Crimping Tool!

If you dig back into the furthest recesses of your craft tools collection, you'll probably find this contraption. It's a paper crimper, and it's just as useful today as it was the day you bought it. And now that you've found it, this crimper can give new life and dimension to your projects.

To put it as simply as possible, the crimper creates rows of raised lines that resembled corrugated cardboard. It will make your paper slightly smaller than the dimensions you started with, so take this into consideration when you measure your initial paper.

The paper is fed into the crimper, then turning the handle pulls it through, crimping all the way across the paper. Depending on the type and color of the paper you use, it will give either subtle or dramatic texture.

You can layer these shapes to create beautiful contrasts, like with this handmade paper and card stock die cut.

Here's I've put two crimped flowers together with a metal brad, and they're added to a crimped blue mulberry paper background.

Experiment with crimping different kinds of paper and see what results you discover. Too many layers make it difficult to fit into an envelope and mail, but they're perfect for gift tags, cards sent in a box or hand-delivered notes.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Selfish Attitudes To Avoid

The day that changed my life: when I was told not everything in the world revolves around me.

Don't we all get like that from time to time? "My problems are bigger, worse, more difficult and more emotionally draining than anyone else's." "You have no idea what I've been through." "Really? Well, when I went through that..."

We refuse to accept constructive criticism. We exaggerate our importance. We brag on our talents. We think we should have special consideration or respect, but then we get jealous when someone else receives the praise for their efforts.

Are you ready to examine your heart and make an incredible, life-changing realization?

No matter how wonderful we think we are, or how we've blown it, it's not about us. It's about God.

So how do we turn the focus off our selves and shine it on the Lord and on other people?

1. Consider others better than yourself. (Philippians 2:4-5)

2. Treat others with more honor than yourself. (Romans 12:10)

3. Strive to keep peace in all your relationships. (Romans 12:18)

4. Do all for the glory of God, not personal glory. (John 3:30-31)

5. Be patient and humble with all people. (Ephesians 4:2-3)

6. Follow God's instructions for how to live and love. (Colossians 3:12-17)

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Here's a fun, layered sketch that you can make as clean or as messy as you'd like. And if you're a creative soul, messy might be a little fun!

Start with a plain background, then cut a mat of the exact same color to go on top. You'll attach it with 3D adhesive (like glue dots) so it will be slightly raised from the background. This will give you a little shadow, which looks amazing with a variety of colors.

Then add two large and two small, coordinating embellishments, staying in the bottom right hand half of the card. The upper left hand corner will be blank, letting your color shine through.

A matted phrase in the corner balances out your creative card.
For my snow-themed card, I went simple - white on white with the top layer raised slightly with 3D adhesive. Before attaching it, I punched two holes in the top piece of white card stock and taped dark blue card stock behind each hole.

The snowflakes are punched from a light blue decorator paper to give just a hint of color. There are light blue gems in the center of each one.

The hand-stamped phrases is matted on the same dark blue card stock, and I used clear white gems to dot the i's.

For more creative inspiration, come visit our Etsy shop. You'll find hundreds of handmade cards and paper crafts, plus you might find a gift or two - for yourself or someone special.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Weekend Of Running To Jesus

It's easy to see wildlife tracks in the fresh snow. They stand out, even at a distance, and it's clear to see what animal it was, where they came from, where they went and how fast they were going.

The closer the hoof prints and paw prints are, the slower the animal was walking; the further apart, the faster.

It's easy to tell when the animal was running.

But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him. Mark 5:6

The maniac of Gadarenes immediately approached Jesus when He left the ship. This man had been filled with an unclean spirit, and he now dwelt in the tombs. The devil was so strong within him that no fetters or chains could hold him. He was wild, pacing and crying and cutting himself.

And then he saw Jesus. One glimpse of Christ and he ran. He didn't walk or stroll or get around to it eventually - he ran! The result was miraculous. Jesus ordered the spirit out of the man and claimed the victory over the devil once again. Before the man knew it, he was cleansed, clothed and in his right mind. Why would he have wanted to postpone this blessing when he could run and worship?

Make this a weekend of running to Christ. Whatever your burden, concern, fear or request, don't wait. Don't wander His way or take the scenic route. Run. Run to Jesus. Run so you can fall down at His feet and worship. Run so you can leave everything before Him. Don't walk. Run.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Utilizing Your Marketing Budget

Finding ways to market your business (whether it's a small storefront in town or an online shop and you're just starting out) can be draining to both your energy and your pocketbook. Word of mouth is great, sometimes a game-changer, but there's more to it than that.

Here are a few ideas to jump-start the marketing side of your brain:

* Carry your business cards with you - EVERYWHERE! You never know who you're going to talk to, and they might even pass some on to people they know.

* Pay attention to stores and restaurants that have bulletin boards out front. Carry a few push pins with you (since it's probably a busy place) and tack up a card or two. Check back often to see if it's still there and readable.

* Use, wear and display your product. If you knit scarves, wear them. If you make scrapbooks, give a few as gifts. If you design jewelry, show off a piece with every outfit. Then when people strike up a conversation about that scarf, scrapbook and necklace, you'll have business cards handy to give them directions.

* Utilize the wide range of social media options. Nothing is cheaper than free, and all it takes is a little time to decide what to post. A blog, Twitter and Facebook are great places to start, and you can always look in to others like Instagram and Pinterest.

* Start an email list. When a customer makes a purchase, ask if they would like to be added to an emailing list. Then only send out important, shop-themed information like sales, coupons and release of new lines. NO jokes or funny dog pictures.

* Spend a little time on blogs and websites (like this one). Read what other creative businesspeople are doing and see if that might work for you. You don't have to come up with tons of trail-blazing ideas on your own - read about what works and what doesn't work from an experienced seller.

* Remember that it's all about customer service. People will come to your shop if you invite them. They will buy if they like what they see. And they will come back and become repeat customers if you show them that they're important and appreciated.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

White And Dark Chocolate Trail Mix Bites

What happens when you combine chocolate with trail mix? You get a lovely little treat that will satisfy your sweet tooth without going overboard.

All you'll need is a bag of your favorite baking chips - I used vanilla chips and dark chocolate chips for these - and a package of trail mix. Yes, it's really that simple.

Pour a third of the bag of chips into a microwave-safe bowl. You'll heat them up 20 seconds at a time in the microwave, stirring each time.

While the chips are melting away, cover a cutting board or baking sheet with parchment paper. This is an incredibly important tip, so don't forget.

Once they're all melted and smooth, spoon the chocolate into small dollops across the parchment paper. They should be thick enough to not run all over the place. Quickly add a few pieces of nuts and fruit from the trail mix to the top of each one before the chocolate begins to harden.

Place the entire board into the refrigerator for about half an hour, or until they're cold and solid. Store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Then you can pack a few for dessert or a snack as you need them.