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Showing posts from February, 2016

What Your Life Story Really Says

Your life is the story of what God can do in a woman.

God knew everything about you before you were even born.

Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, Jeremiah 1:5

He gave you your first breath, rejoicing in the miracle that was you.

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. Job 33:4

He watched you take your first steps and led you down the path of His perfect will.

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

He has rejoiced with you in good times.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. Psalm 16:9

And He has strengthened you in bad times.

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that a ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:13

There has never been a single moment …

Sunday Sketch

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Just like the crossing guard sash you wore in elementary school, today's design includes a slash of pattern that will  make your card stand out in a crowd.

A single background color will make the patterned paper pop, making it the real focal point of the layout.

Choose a long sentiment that will run alongside the diagonal border, something thin to break up some of the white space.

Tiny embellishments in the corners will help the eye travel across the entire card.
For my card, I didn't use a color at all, choosing instead to use the plain white card stock that I always use as my base for the background.

Then I matted the rose petal paper on a slightly lighter pink decorator paper. The right edge of the new border starts in the point of the upper left hand corner, which the left edge hits the bottom right hand corner. This makes it level and straight from corner to corner.

A vellum phrase and six white gems complete this dramatic design.

You can find this card, along with many …

A Weekend Of Studying To Answer

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I was never a very good test-taker in school. If you asked me to explain what I knew rather than regurgitate information, I did much better.

It has never been easy for me to just recall details at a moment's notice. Studying at the last minute was futile, but experiencing it and talking about it made more lasting impression.

The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked pouter out evil things. Proverbs 15:28

Make this a weekend of studying to answer. As you do your daily Bible reading and study, pay special attention to the truths and promises that you've experienced in your life. You may be the only Bible some people will see this weekend, so knowing what God expects from you will be vitally important when the time comes to share your faith. Each verse that you commit to memory or mark for future use will be a gem in the treasure of your heart.

Having this knowledge and wisdom will make you an effective vessel for sharing the gospel with your fami…

Transfering Ink To Wood With Just Water

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When I put together my welcome sign for our entryway, I used the wax paper technique to put the lettering onto the wood. The details can be found here. Then I heard about an even more simple technique for lettering that just requires water and a paint brush.

Print your word in a word processing program and flip it horizontally. The easiest way to do this generally is to put it in a text box, click on Arrange and flip it horizontally. If this isn't an option in your program, just do a search in the help section.

With the ink side down on the wood, use a slightly wet paint brush to damped the back of the sheet of paper. This gets the ink wet through the paper and transfers it to the wood. Don't use too much water or it will just run and ruin the letters.

This technique worked best for me using thick, bold letters. It's a very weathered, aged look, which is absolutely wonderful. Instead of working hard to wear the letters down to look decades-old, this is a simple solution …

BBQ Baked Chicken

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Chicken has been on sale several times lately at our local grocery store, so I've been able to stock up several times and buy several different kinds of chicken.

Most recently I was able to get four chicken thighs for $3, so I bought two packages to make some BBQ chicken on a grill pan in the oven.

It's definitely a recipe we'll be repeating.

I doctored up my own BBQ sauce, so I've included that part of the recipe as well.

Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup packaged BBQ sauce
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp cinnamon-pear balsamic vinegar (or whatever you have on hand)
2 Tbsp Sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Heat the olive oil in an oven-safe grill pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, reduce heat to medium.

3. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and sear two minutes on each side.

4. Place the grill pan with seared chicken in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until cooked through.

5…

Words For Wednesday

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Cute Baskets From Leftover Denim

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If you remember my tutorial on how to make a craft show apron, you'll no doubt recall the amount of denim I had left in that pair of pants. There was no way I was throwing it out.

Since the apron used the waistline and pockets of the jeans, both legs and much of the seat were left. Using those two sections I was able to make an adorable set of denim baskets.

I started by cutting off the bottom part of each pant leg, one at 10 inches and one at 12 inches. This number will vary based on the width of the jeans: wide pant legs won't stand up if the basket is too tall, and thinner legs won't hold much if they're too short. Eyeball it and adjust accordingly to the style and fit of the jeans you choose.

Now you need a little math - but just a little, I promise. You need to find out how big of a denim circle you will need for the bottom of your basket. Use a tape measure to find the distance around the bottom seam of the jeans leg. (Mine was 20 inches.) Divide that number by …

Watching What Happens When You Promote Other People

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One of the greatest parts of having an Etsy shop is the community that comes along with it. Teams are open to shop owners interested in sharing tips of the trade, helping promote each other and taking an interest in what other people are selling.

My favorite team, Spiritual Elegance, is made up of Christians from all over the world. In addition to the promotion side of owning a business, they also have several boards to discuss Scripture, give prayer requests and offer praise for answered prayer in their lives.

Etsy also has a fun way to search for new and interesting items called Treasuries. Anyone can make collections of themed items, each one from a different shop. You then just let them know that you've loved and featured their item, then tell the world about all the neat pieces you just found.

I recently made a treasury made up of items exclusively made by the Christian shop owners in the Spiritual Elegance team. I called it "Words Of My Faith," and it was so uplif…

Sunday Sketch

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Today's sketch is a great opportunity to use up a bunch of those scraps you have stored up. Don't try to tell me you don't have any scraps. I know better.

The background of this sketch is a solid color, but it's made much more interesting by combining three patterned papers into a row of panels across the back. Cut one to fit on the left hand side of the card, then use it as a template to cut the other ones.

Run a sentiment and a fun image across the bottom, and choose three tiny embellishments to balance the page.

For my card, I matted two solid colors - black and teal - to make my background. (I love layers.)

Then I cut three panels of coordinating decorator paper. All of the edges are ink-distressed in black to stand out from the teal background paper.

I printed out the word and double matted it to run across the bottom and under the three punched circles. Three pretty gems down the side and it's a one-of-a-kind coordinated card!

For more card layouts and some …

A Weekend Of Strengthening Your Hands

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Take two minutes and think about all the things you do with your hands each day. Without them it would be difficult to type, play the piano, give a thumbs-up, hold something tight in your grip and use utensils to feed yourself. It could be done, but you would have to put in a great deal more effort.
Nehemiah knew that strong hands would be needed to repair the wall around Jerusalem. As he explained the call of God on his heart and the support of the king, the people’s hearts were stirred to join him in this endeavor.
Strong hands, stirred hearts.
Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king’s words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. Nehemiah 2:18
They were not only strengthening their physical hands, they were strengthening their resolve and the dedication of their neighbors to get this work done. 
Make this a weekend of strengthening your hands - both literally and spi…

Don't Let Your Mind Give Up Too Soon

I looked at today's workout plan and almost laughed. It was the day to increase both reps and sets, and the list in front of me looked much too daunting. Is weight loss and a healthy body worth fainting, throwing up or just keeling over dead?

Ok, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it's what my mind was thinking at the time. Each exercise, let alone all of them - one right after another, seemed like climbing a mountain. It was just too much ... wasn't it?

Well, I decided not to do all of them, just the first one or two. Then I'd go get my protein shake and move on with my day. After more high-knees than I'd ever done at one time before, crunches didn't seem so bad. My core was on fire, but I could switch to biceps and triceps and let my lower half rest for a while.

Once my arms were screaming, squats were a welcome respite - if there is such a thing with squats. My heart rate was up and my breathing labored, but so far it wasn't nearly as bad as it loo…

White Chocolate Stuffed Blackberries

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This is more an idea than a recipe today - but a tasty idea none the less.

As anyone who loves food will tell you, fruit and chocolate make a wonderful combination. But a presentation like this one - or lack of presentation - falls flat.


Take it one step further, take just a few minutes and take a bite of a beautiful combination.


I believe strawberries, raspberries and blackberries were designed specifically to hold wonderful sweets inside.

Strawberries hold cheesecake filling in a lovely way. (Click here if you don't believe me.) And the holes left from the stems of raspberries and blackberries are the perfect size for a single chocolate chip.

Pictured here are blackberries that I took to church fellowship recently, and each one has a creamy white vanilla chip tucked inside. Needless to say, I didn't bring any home.

Play around with the combinations you like best, as there are dozens of chips and berries to choose from. You may need to cut a small slit in some berries just b…

Words For Wednesday

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Spring Lattice Card

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As we sit through another cold, snowy winter, our thoughts turn to spring sunshine and beautiful gardens. Let's run with that idea and put together a beautiful lattice cover for a handmade card.

Start by cutting white card stock down to a square card - any size will do, so mine is 5.25 inches square. (Because I have a new package of 5.5 inch square envelopes. Then cut a slightly smaller square out of the front panel - mine is 4.25 inches square.

Cover the front of the card with decorator paper, then trim the edges and cut out the window.

Cut 10 strips of white card stock to make your lattice boards. Mine are 1/2 inch wide, so you'll want to cut in proportion to the size of your window - there are five for each direction.

Weave the strips together, alternating over and under, spacing them out and taping them together as you go. Double stick tape is best for this project, but feel free to experiment with whatever adhesive you have.

You don't need to adhere every single join…

Why You Shouldn't Pray For Life To Be Easy

We feel devastated when things change - after all, we’ve found stability and safety in the way things are right this minute. They’re familiar and comfortable, and we know how to act and react there.
If we prayed for everything in our lives to be easy, we would stay in that stable, comfortable place. We’d feel exactly like we do right this minute, and we’d know what was coming in the future because it would be more of the same.
Do we really want more of the same?
When I taught fourth grade for a year, we didn’t welcome the students on the first day of school and promise them that they would leave in nine months the same child they were when they walked in. No, we told them about all the things we planned for the year - topics, field trips, activities that would help them learn new and wonderful things. It was exciting to see their faces light up with all these amazing new possibilities.
If we had promised no change, no growth, no improvement and no increase of knowledge, their parents prob…

Sunday Sketch

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Sometimes just changing the shape of your finished product can trigger some hidden creativity. So this week, instead of using a rectangle, let's be square.

Start with a lightly patterned paper in your chosen theme, and then two coordinating patterns for the two sizes of circles. Use a punch or circle cutter to make this easier.

Find a sentiment or verse that will overlap both circles, tying them together, and some small embellishments that won't distract from your patterns.

I made my card from an 8 1/2x11 sheet of white card stock, cutting it down to 5 1/4 inches square. (This isn't an arbitrary size - it actually fits a new package of envelopes I found.)

I chose three coordinating patterned papers, using one for the matted background and two for circles.

In my Valentine's Day bag of embellishments I found this wonderful 3D sticker and matted it on two colors of card stock. Three red gems finish it off.

For more great ideas and a gift or two, come visit our Etsy shop.…

A Weekend Of God's Love

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Did you know that there are 281 verses in the Bible with the word "love" in them?

Some of them talk about romantic love between a husband and wife. Others are about treating a neighbor with respect. And many describe that happy feeling that's a little more than "like."

The most frequent, though, talk about what God feels for us. Then, in return, we can spread that love far and wide.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:9-12

Make this a weekend of love. With Valentine's Day tomorrow, this may seem like a no-brainer, but let's love with a different kind of love. Instead of lovey-dovey love that comes with a stuffed …

Valentine's Day Heart Napkin Fold

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Make your Valentine's Day table a little sweeter with a beautiful, yet incredibly easy, heart-shaped napkin fold.

Open your napkin out flat. If you're using cloth napkins, you'll want to have a hot iron close by to crease the folds in.

Fold the top edge down to meet the bottom.

And then again, creasing the edge tightly.

Using the center fold as your guideline, bring each end up on the diagonal make the top edges match. Be careful to crease these folds well.

Flip the entire napkin over with the point at the top. 

Fold and crease small corners oo the two square ends. This will create the "rounded" look when you flip it back over.

When you turn the heart over, you can work the layers a little and make all your edges match. Crease everything one more time so it will stay in place.

Homemade Heart Marshmallows

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Made as either a special Valentine's Day gift or a fun project to do together, these homemade marshmallows are an extra-sweet treat.

Ingredients
nonstick cooking spray
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water

1/3 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

1. Spray a 9x12 baking dish with nonstick spray. Line the pan with parchment paper and spray again.

2. Spray the bowl of a stand mixer, with nonstick spray, then combine water and gelatin in the bottom. Allow to stand about 5 minutes.

3. Combine sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, making sure to stir and keep the sugar from burning.

4. Stir mixture until it reaches soft-ball stage, 238 degrees, on a candy thermometer. Immediately remove it from the heat. If any of the sugar burned and hardened, carefully and quickly spoon it out now.

5. Stir up the gelatin mixture to remove it from the bottom of the bowl, then turn mixer on low. Pour in the hot sy…

Words For Wednesday

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Have A Pun-ny Valentine's Day

Tired of giving a store-bought card and a box of chocolates on Valentine's Day? How about giving the gift of humor instead?

You could give any of the following gifts with these notes attached:

* a banana, "You're my favorite of the bunch."
* a package of apple slices, "You're the apple of my eye."
* a pear, "We make a great 'pear.'"
* teddy bear-shaped crackers, "I love you BEARY much."
* an orange, "'Orange' you glad we're in love?"
* a box of crayons, "You color my world with love."
* a package of candy, "You make life a little sweeter."
* a pizza, "You've stolen a 'pizza' my heart."
* a stick of margarine, "You're my butter half."
* a loaf of bread, "All you 'knead' is love."
* cup of coffee, "Words cannot 'espresso' how much I love you."
* a stuffed rabbit, "No bunny compares to you."
* a pencil, &qu…

Love God First

It feels like one more thing to check off your to-do list.

Something else accomplished today in a day full of things and more things and then some more.

We've heard the words all our lives, but they often seem robotic, rehearsed, rigid.

"Love one another."

Love is supposed to be this happy, giddy, gooey word. It's supposed to stir up feelings and emotions and pretty things.

This week before Valentine's Day, it's vibrantly displayed in advertising, in stores and in our conversations. What are you giving? What are you getting? Wow...you must love them a whole bunch.

But love isn't about puffy hearts or sparkling gems or boxes of chocolate.

Love is a verb. It's an action that we choose to make on a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis.

Love is when a woman honors her husband, serves her family and makes home a wonderful place to be.

Love is when a man leads his home, treats his wife with respect and provides all the things a house needs to be …

Sunday Sketch

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A few simple papers, a fun image and a great sentiment will help you knock today's sketch out of the ballpark.

Instead of running a banner of decorator paper all the way across your card, you're going to cut a chunk out of the middle and mat each one on coordinating card stock. This gives the focal point more emphasis and hopefully breaks you out of the routine of creating the same parts and pieces every time.

Choose two colors of card stock for your background mats, or maybe one card stock and a very subtle patterned paper. You don't want to draw attention away from your circled image until they look down at your all-important sentiment.
For my card, I started with a pink card stock that matched the pink in my focal point - a 3D Valentine image. Then I matted the pink with white so my colors would stand out even more.

I used a circle cutter to make backgrounds for the stamp, and then used a pink and yellow patterned paper that matched the stripes in the stamp itself.

Bef…

A Weekend Of Making A Joyful Noise

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There's a joke among church musicians that we're all just making a joyful noise - with an emphasis on the "noise" part. This is often how we laugh off any mistakes or finger fumbles.

This play on words is actually referencing Psalm 66, but we don't usually get past the fourth word, let alone the first line.

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Sing forth the honor of his name: make his praise glorious. Psalm 66:1-2

The word noise here doesn't mean something that sounds awful, like we would describe it in today's terminology. Instead, it means to shout, raise a sound, cry out or give a blast. It's specifically used to describe a war cry or alarm of battle. In military terms, it would be their battle cry.

Make this a weekend of making a joyful noise. Be one of those making a joyful noise, letting the songs of praise to God be our battle cry in a lost and dying world. If we don't lift our voices, who will? Even if it's quiet or a little of…

Does Creativity = Messy?

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There's something to be said for neat, tidy, organized workspaces.

Others would argue that being so rigid kills all their creative vibes.

Want to guess what the right answer is?

It's not really a secret - it's whatever works best for you.

If you were to spend an entire day being as creative in your craft space as possible, what would it look like? Would it be straightening things up first, organizing projects and collecting all the supplies you need into one place?

Or is it using the disorganization as inspiration? You might stumble (literally, perhaps) over something you forgot you even had. This could lead to the most brilliant idea you've had all day!

Don't try to fit yourself into someone else's mold. Personally, I am much more creative when things are neat and tidy. Clutter makes me confused and anxious, so sorted, dusted shelves clear some room in my brain for new ideas.

You might be exactly the opposite, and that's just fine. Work with one pile at a…

White Chocolate Peppermint Hearts

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With just more than a week until Valentine's day, you'll want to add this adorable little edible gift to your "I love you THIS much" list.

You'll use miniature candy canes and two bricks of almond bark (one of my all-time favorites). Add a few sprinkles and you're all set.

Start by unwrapping all the candy canes and pairing them up on a cutting board or baking tray covered with parchment paper. Choose canes that are approximately the same length or your love will be a little lop-sided.

Put the two bricks of almond bark in a microwave-safe dish and heat for 30 seconds. Store and put back in for 30 more seconds. Continue until it is soft and runny. Then use a small plastic spoon to pour in a small amount of bark. Start in the largest opening and use the spoon to smooth it out and up into the rounded parts of the canes.

Quickly, before it cools and starts to harden, add a few Valentine-themed sprinkles. Tuck the whole board into the refrigerator until the cand…