Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Weekend Of Spring Cleaning

I'm three weeks into spring cleaning. It feels like three months, but only because so much is getting accomplished. I have a dear, sweet friend who has been helping me with the big tasks, and then it comes down to the detail work.

What details? No one can help me file paperwork, sort my closet or organize the craft room. While I'd like to delegate the scrubbing of dog bowls or the cutting out and organizing of more than three years worth of newspaper articles, it still rests on my shoulders.

After a full day of work inside, moments like the one pictured here make it all worth it. My home is clean (or getting there), it's welcoming and it still has the most special place in my heart. Cleaning and organizing make you see your home through new eyes —  in a way you would never experience it if you weren't intimately aware of its every nook and cranny, for better or worse.

She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Proverbs 31:27

Make this a weekend of spring cleaning. I suggest this for two reasons, the first being that it probably needs it. (No offense.) After being closed up for the winter, it needs to breathe and get all pretty again. Secondly, you can only appreciate your home at the deepest level if you are right there, cleaning, straightening and organizing. Staying on top of things and being proactive in the way your home is run gives you the most amazing perspective on your house and the people who live there.

You'll see things that need fixed, replaced or painted. You'll be aware of what's broken and needs attention and what's dirty and needs cleaned. Use these two days to really pay attention to what your home needs and then give it the TLC it deserves. The house, your family and your cluttered brain will thank you for it.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Candy Surprise Snickerdoodle Cookies

Snickerdoodle cookies are an amazing treat by themselves, but add a candy surprise to the middle and they're out of this world!

They're best eaten warm, so don't worry about how to pack up the leftovers. I think you understand what I'm trying to subtly tell you...

1 bag Snickerdoodle cookie mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 package of the tiniest chocolate/peanut candy you can find (like Snickers)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

2. Pour cinnamon/sugar mixture from the cookie package into a bowl and set aside.

3. Combine all ingredients except the candy and the cinnamon/sugar mixture in the cookie package.

4. Wrap each piece of candy with just enough dough to cover it completely, pinching the edges closed. This will keep all of the obey-gooeyness in.

5. Roll the cookie dough ball in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and place on the baking sheet.

6. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies have a slight crust on the outside.

7. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Leave cookies on the sheet for a minute or two to finish hardening, then remove them to the cooling rack. If they last that long...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Faux Tile Backgrounds For Handmade Cards

Why have a boring background for your handmade card when you can make a faux tile look on any patterned paper in just a few minutes?

Depending on the pattern of your paper and how strong you make your "tile grout," it can be a subtle look or a very dramatic one.

Start with an embossing mat, metal ruler, embossing stylus and your chosen paper. If you don't have an embossing mat, you can easily make light pencil marks on the edges of your paper and erase them when you're done.

Flip your ruler over and use the flat side to line up equal measurements across your paper. Use the largest embossing tool you have to make bold lines, or the smallest to make subtle ones.

Too subtle? There's an easy way to make them stand out more.

 Dab a small amount of chalk in each intersection of lines, then smooth it out and blow off any excess. 

 This will give some dimension to your new tile pattern and make the lines pop off the page.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and gifts, can be found in my Etsy shop. Come visit today for more great ideas and maybe a gift or two!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Are You Asking The Right Questions?

When you do your daily Bible study, are you asking any questions like these?

Am I done yet?
Do I really need to know this?
Why is this even in the Bible?
Does God really mean me here?
Have I read enough for today?
How is this important in this day and age?

If these are your questions, you're probably not getting too much out of your devotion time. It's easy to get distracted and rush through when you know yr to-do list is waiting for you. And besides, you've read this passage a dozen times and know it by heart? Why really study it again?

Well, for starters, the Bible is a living, breathing book inspired by God. You are my the same person (mentally or spiritually) that you were the last time you read it, so God is prepared to reveal new truths and meaning this time through. What a waste it would be if you hurried to get done and missed out on the blessing He had all ready for you.

Also, Bible study isn't just about you. It's about absorbing all you can and hiding it away in your heart. You may think you'll never use that verse, but by tucking it away, God may have just the situation in mind where you can share it with someone else. If you haven't learned it, He can't use you in the same way for His glory. How terrible it would be to miss out on being a blessing because you wanted a few extra minutes for yourself.

So what questions should you be asking as you study your Bible today?

1. What jumped out at you as you read these verses? Was there something new or different that touched you like never before?

2. Do you understand its message well enough to summarize it? Do you know it well enough to explain it to someone else in just a sentence or two?

3. How can you apply this Scripture to your life today? Can you find the truth here that crosses generations?

4. Are there more questions that came up as you read this passage? Do you know where to look to find the answers?

If you take your time, give your heart over completely and search for God's messages in your Bible study time, you'll be amazed at how He speaks to you? I pray today that you will fall in love with the Scriptures as never before, and that you will be encouraged to keep digging into His word to find His plan for your daily living.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Some craft ideas and techniques are completely out of my comfort zone, and that's why I love them. I'm never satisfied doing the same layout or the same color combination over and over again. I want the interesting, different, unique products and designs to spark my creativity whenever possible. That's what today's sketch did for me.

It's simply a combination of two background papers, four images or embellishments and a sentiment. For a girl who loves layers and the little details, this was rather difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

But when I did, it was so much fun to play around with it. Use the diagonal line across the card to pair up papers you wouldn't normally put together. Choose and theme, then find some large images that will balance the card and take up the vast amount of space.
For my card, I chose a patriotic theme, as I'm just beginning to put summer cards back into the shop. A blue card stock and red patterned paper, matted in slightly to show the white edges, start the card.

Then I used three stars on the diagonal, flipping the middle one so they would all look exactly the same. I added a flag for the upper corner, since that's where you hang a flag, right?

And an amazing Scripture completed my patriotic package.

This card, along with many other cards, paper crafts and gifts, can be found in my Etsy shop. You'll find lots of great ideas for your own projects, and you'll probably find a gift or two that you just can't live without.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Weekend Of Overflowing Cups

I started doing spring cleaning last week, getting rid of the dust and the dog hair that has accumulated over the winter. It's been wonderful to open up the house, air things out and really do a deep cleaning of our home. Until you're really in the thick of things, you don't realize how a little bit of dirt and clutter quickly spread.

Part of the process for me has been getting rid of things we haven't used since we moved back to Iowa, paring down things I have duplicates of and organizing everything that is left. I truly believe that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered mind, so with how cluttered my brain has felt lately, apparently this needed to be done.

But when I attacked the kitchen this week, there was one cabinet I couldn't thin out. This isn't the only cabinet that has coffee cups in it, but it's the one with the most coffee cups in it. The problem, I think, is that they each hold a memory — they are places we've been, people we knew and moments we want to remember. I don't mind giving up a cabinet if it makes me smile when I open the door.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anoints my head with oil; my cup runeth over. Psalm 23:5

As I pull out my favorite mug in the morning, I'm often reminded of David's prayer in the 23rd Psalm. He speaks of God in such a personal way, using "I, Me Mine" words throughout. And when he gets to the fifth verse, his heart is so full of praise that it spills over into a victory anthem. The Lord had provided for David in every situation, both for his body and his soul. It wasn't almost enough or just enough to get by — his cup was filled so full that it ran over and flooded the cup as well.

Make this a weekend of overflowing cups. Even if you're in the midst of a heart-breaking trial, God is still blessing you in countless ways. If you'll look at the saucer under the cup of your life, you're sure to find plentiful provision, not just a scattering here and there. You may need to write all the blessings down, just to make sure you remember them all. Get a book — a BIG book — and make note of the ways God has made your cup overflow with His love, mercy and grace.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Baked Cinnamon Donuts With Cinnamon Sugar Topping

I've been making an effort lately to clean out the pantry and use up what I can before they reach their expiration date. (And save money by using what I already have on hand.) Many three- and four-ingredient recipes still require some out-of-the-ordinary item, so it can be difficult to make things from scratch.

But donuts are not this way. Donuts — lovely, scrumptious, perfect donuts — may have a number of ingredients, but they're all ones you already have in your kitchen. Plus, if you bake them, they're quick, easy and slightly healthier.

But who wants to be healthy when they're eating a donut?

1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
half a stick of butter (4 Tbsp)
1/2 cup sugar (I used vanilla-flavored sugar)
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 stick of butter (8 Tbsp)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pull out two non-stick donut pans. (No need to grease or spray them.)

2. Combine dry ingredients — flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt — in a large bowl.

3. Combine wet ingredients — milk, vinegar, vanilla, egg and beaten egg — in a small sauce pan. Heat over medium heat, stirring continuously, until butter has melted.

4. Slowly pour wet mixture from the sauce pan into the dry ingredients bowl. Stir until combined.

5. Spoon dough into donut pans. There will be enough dough to make 9-10 doughnuts.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-11 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7. Remove from oven and place entire pan on a cooling rack.

8. While the donuts begin to cool, melt a stick of butter in the microwave, beginning with 30 seconds. Stir and continue until completely melted.

9. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.

10. Invert the pans and remove the partially cooled donuts. Dip them first in the butter, then in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Return them to the cooling rack. Eat as many as you'd like, share what you want and store the rest in an air-tight container for 2-3 days.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Single Cup Coffee Pod Gift Box

If you're looking for something small to make that you can give as a thank you present, birthday present or gift for any occasion, you'll love these single-cup coffee boxes. They're a miniature version of my explosion boxes.

Start with a 6-inch square of card stock. Choose any color - I chose white so it would stand out for you.

Score it into nine squares.

Then cut out each of the four corner squares.

This is what will make the bottom and sides of the box.

To make the lid, cut a square just over 3 inches square. Score around the edge to make a 2.25-inch square in the middle.

Going around the box, cut one side of each tiny corner square to make tabs.

These tabs fold in to make the edge of the lid.

When you put the lid on, it will fit loosely, holding the sides of the box in.

Now comes the fun part! I cut squares from spring-themed paper to mat on the outside of the box and the top of the lid. Each one is 2 7/8 inches square so there is a little white showing around the edges.

Then I put coordinating paper inside using the same measurements.

You can choose whatever sentiment fits the occasion and add some great 3D embellishments to the lid. I even tied some baker's twine around the edge of the lid so there wouldn't be so much white showing.

Last but not least, use some double stick tape or loop of regular tape to adhere the coffee to the bottom of the box. What a neat project and fun surprise for someone who loves their morning cup of coffee!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Where Does Your Power Come From?

When I first got my poison ivy three weeks ago, one of the first things I had to do was give up working out. I've been on quite a roll, and I've lost quite a few much-needed pounds. But once I was sick, itchy and medicated, I knew there was no way I had enough strength to exercise, and it took quite a few days before I started back up.

And boy, could I tell the difference. After more than a week of not lifting weights or doing yoga, I felt as weak as a baby. I had increased my dumbbell weight just before I got sick, but I had to go back to the starter weight to be able to lift them. And I couldn't hold some of my yoga poses as long as I could just a few days earlier.

Talk about a blow to my ego!

I've slowly increased and improved during my workouts again, but I'm still not back to where I was before. I hoped I would just bounce back - and be even better - but that wasn't the case. Losing some energy and strength is just part of being sick, though it's hard to be patient.

John the Baptist preached about strength and power when he spoke to the people about the coming Messiah. The crowds were pretty comfortable with the way John was doing things, baptizing in the water and calling men to repentance, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. So when he spoke of being just a herald for the coming Christ, not being that man himself, the people were curious about who he described.

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Luke 3:16

From before they were even born, John was chosen to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ. John leaped with excitement in his mother's womb just being in the same room with Mary when she came to visit her cousin Elizabeth. He was full of the Holy Spirit, designed from birth to be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord.

Unlike most men, though, he never attempted to be more than he was. John didn't sit under a tree somewhere and ask God why he couldn't be the Messiah. He didn't have bitterness in his heart because someone more important was going to come along behind him. And he definitely didn't shed any tears over having to decrease so that Christ could increase, as Paul would write years later.

Instead, John was filled with hope and joy over Jesus Christ's imminent arrival on the scene. So when the people began to question whether he was that Anointed One himself, he was quick to deny it and set them straight. His calling in life was to make the paths straight for the Christ, and he did it with humility.

John would preach about many truths from God's word, but Jesus would do them. John would baptize the people in the water, but Christ would baptize with the Holy Ghost and fire. John would warn the people of the greatness of their sins, but Jesus would sacrifice Himself for those sins.

The one who was mightier than John, the Son of God Himself, was coming soon. John knew that while he had been blessed beyond measure and chosen by God, the true power and might in this lost and dying world was Christ, and Christ alone. There was no doubt in his mind that Jesus was the mighty one, and he was more than willing to play the servant's role every single day of his life.

Even while he was imprisoned by Herod, John was still pointing people to Jesus Christ. A little change in location wouldn't stop him from praising His holy name and serving Him until his dying breath. John had stood in the very presence of the Son of God and was willing to take a back seat to Him in a heartbeat.

John knew of Jesus' might, His power and His strength and couldn't wait to be on the receiving end. The one mightier came into John's life, He came into our life when we got saved, and He's coming again to take His people home. No one but our Lord and Savior has that kind of power.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Find the largest embellishment you have and get ready to make a dramatic card with today's sketch.

While it doesn't have to be a flower, you'll want to choose a vertical image to fit a vertical card. Think buildings in a cityscape, the tower of a castle or a tree with spring buds.

Then you'll do two sets of double mats. The back two will be a solid color of card stock and a subtle pattern that won't detract from the image. The top two will frame the image on white with a coordinating mat behind it.

Add a horizontal sentiment across the whole card and you'll have a beautiful card ready for brightening someone's day.
For my card, I started with the beautiful purple iris and worked my way backward. I matted it on white card stock to make those colors pop and then added a medium purple mat. By starting with the image, I was able to cut everything else in the right proportions, which might not have happened if I started with the background.

I chose a light purple striped patterned paper, the same color as the flower, and matted it on a deep purple card stock.

The "thank you" was printed from the computer on white card stock and matted on a coordinating purple card stock. Then to tie everything together, I matched the stripes of the patterned paper for a strip across the entire card.

This card, along with many other paper crafts and gifts, can be found in my Etsy shop. You'll find lots of great ideas and maybe a gift or two!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Keeping The Thief Away

If you leave your front door unlocked at night, you're giving a burglar an engraved invitation to come take your stuff.
If you leave your car windows rolled down, you can bet that the car will be empty - or gone - when you return.
If you leave your purse unattended at the grocery store, don't be surprised if you end up paying for someone else's groceries, and possibly an overseas vacation.

These scenarios may sound ludicrous, but this is what we often do to our hearts and minds, giving the devil open access to our lives.

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy... John 10:10

In the tenth chapter of John, in the midst of Jesus' message about being the Good Shepherd, He reminded his followers that there truly was an enemy out there. The thief only has two things on his mind - making the sheep miserable and drawing them as far away from the Shepherd as he can.

The enemy would love to:

Trade your faith for fear.
Steal your joy and replace it with depression.
Sneak in and take your trust in God.
Make off with your peace, leaving anxiety behind.
Kill your faithfulness and give you doubt instead.
Destroy all your relationships and leave you alone.

This is no way to live, but it's the result of letting the devil get between you and God. He will exploit your weaknesses, fill your head with lies and then drop you like a sack of potatoes when you're at your lowest. He knows which buttons to push and what will trigger the response in you that he's looking for.

Pretty scary, isn't it? But it happens every day to varying degrees. Satan would love nothing more than to destroy your family, kill your dreams and steal everything that is important to you. And what does he use? You.

If the enemy can get you to self-destruct, make poor choices and drift away from God, he's happy to sit back and let you do all the heavy lifting. Why should he work hard to steal, kill and destroy if you're a willing participant?

... I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The way Jesus completed this sentence gives us our hope and our motivation. We are no longer slaves to sin, but we can rejoice in the abundant life we have in Christ.

Our tears of sorrow become tears of joy.
In our weakness, we see God working.
Through the dark times of our life, we can better see His light.
While we can and will face many battles in our life, we are already victorious through Jesus Christ.

The calling we're given each new day is to battle the enemy in prayer and not give him an inch of ground. Fight his lies with God's truth. Ignore the temptations he lays in our way. Find our joy, peace and identity in Christ.

Are you ready to keep the thief out of your life? Then spend as much time as you can in prayer and study. Learn new scripture and keep it close to your heart. Stay as close as you possibly can to the presence of God, know what He asks of you and understand His truths. Only when your mind and heart are consumed with the Lord will you be able to distinguish Satan's lies and misleadings.

Don't give the enemy an inch. Don't let him take what belongs to you and God. Pray him out of your life, your home and your family. Fight every minute of every day to bring glory and honor to God, and He will reward you with peace and rest like you've never known.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fourteen Years Of The Bailey Dog

Over the weekend we had to say goodbye to our sweet Bailey. She was 14 years old and was starting to get sick, so we knew it was her time to go. 

Bailey was the very first dog I'd ever had, so she was very special to me. She loved to be nearby no matter what you were doing, and she would watch carefully, waiting for you to drop something so she could investigate it.

When we lived in town, she would wear her backpack on walks. It helped her work off a little more of her energy and gave her a job to do while we spent those precious morning hours together.

She and Sadie were inseparable from the moment they met. Sadie is four months younger than Bailey, so she doesn't remember a time when Bailey wasn't around. They were truly sisters and hated to be away from each other. We even had them put in the same kennel when they had to be boarded, just so they wouldn't be apart.

 Bailey was a water dog all her life. Whether it was in a pool in the backyard or diving head-first into the big pond here on the property, she always wanted to splash and swim until she was exhausted.

She was also incredibly curious. She would stare at something for ages just to see what it was going to do, and she always had to keep track of everyone, counting noses to make sure everyone was accounted for. I can't imagine what she would have done with a flock of sheep!

Her eyes would melt your heart in an instant, and her raised eyebrows always made you smile. She was very sensitive, and her loyalty and friendship blessed us on so many occasions.

Her temperament was so sweet and loving. She was the calm, cuddling puppy in contrast to Sadie's pushy-ness. She could say more with one look than if she could speak in long sentences.

We buried Bailey here on the property, at the top of the ridge. The very first time we brought her here, we let her off leash and that's where she ran to, so we thought that would be the perfect place to keep her. So now in the evening when the sun sets behind that hill, we can look up there and remember what a wonderful 14 years we had with our Bailey dog.

Monday, April 11, 2016

There Will Be Showers Of Blessings

The word "spring" always makes me think of cool spring rains. You sit back and listen to the rain drops on the roof, then rolling down the rain spout.

For some people rain means dreary days and dodging puddles. For me it means spring days, trees turning green and new life coming up all around.

This is the same image that I have in my mind when I read Scripture about rain. There are so many passages where God promises rain for faithfulness and drought for those who stray from His presence. He uses rain to heal, to quench thirst and as a picture of His desire to bless us in so many ways.

And I will make them and the places round about my hill a blessing; and I will cause the shower to come down in his season; there shall be showers of blessing. And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them. Ezekiel 34:26-27

In this terribly descriptive book, written during the Babylonian captivity, Ezekiel writes in prophecies and symbols. While he's preaching repentance from heir sin, they are squarely placed in the middle of punishment. Many of the descriptions are ugly and bloody, speaking of abominations, destruction and death.

Then, tucked into chapter 34, are these words of peace, compassion and rain. God tells Ezekiel that the filth of this world will eventually be washed away by a shower directly from heaven. His desire was (and still is) to fulfill the covenant of peace with His chosen people, driving away the enemy, providing an abundance of food for their physical needs and showering them with His many blessings.

If you're going through a dark, dirty time right now, this promise is for you, too. God has the same compassion for you that these two verses speak of - a time of peace, rest and cleansing. His showers of blessings will revive and wash away the filth of the world that presses in on you.

And He delights to send the other benefits of a good rain storm: fruit, grain and provision beyond compare. His promise is that He will not only provide for you physically, but He offers a safe haven, deliverance from the enemy and so many other blessings that we can't even imagine today.

So if it rains at your house this week, turn your umbrella upside down and catch all those showers of blessings!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Sketch

Today's sketch is a great opportunity to create your own backdrop using your favorite paper craft supplies.

After double-matting two colors of card stock, use stickers, stamps or a fun patterned paper to create a sweeping background. Going from corner to corner, you can draw the eye from one edge to the other.

Then position three small images across the swirls, adding to the movement of the design.

A small sentiment in the bottom corner will add balance, especially when it's made in coordinating colors.
For my card, I chose to use simple black and white. I started by double-matting black and white card stock, finishing with the clean, white background.

Then I used textured swirl stickers to draw the eye from the bottom left to upper right corner.

I stamped two dragonflies and a butterfly on textured, white card stock and matted them on black to make them stand out even more. Arranging them randomly on the swirls helps them "fly" across the card.

The card is finished off with a double-matted sentiment sticker in the bottom right corner.

For more great layout ideas, or to find the perfect Christian cards and gifts, come visit my Etsy shop. With hundreds of cards, journals and paper crafts, you're sure to get some inspiration and a gift idea or two.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Weekend Of Healing

After having a cold, sunburn and poison ivy all at the same time last week, it's no wonder our medicine cabinet is bursting at the seams.

Yes - it was a rough week.

And your stash of over-the-counter medication probably looks very much like this. We stock up on whatever we think will get us through this round of illness, just hoping we'll survive with all our body parts intact.

But what are the choices when your hurt goes deeper?

Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely ... He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. Psalm 147:1, 3

You can have all the bandages, lotions and lozenges on hand that you want, but when your heart is hurting and bruised, there is no overnight fix. You can't pop a pill and have instant relief. But praise the Lord, the psalmist wrote, that our heavenly Father can heal the broken heart and bind up every wound.

Make this a weekend of healing - not the kind a throat drop or muscle liniment can fix, but the slow, secret aches that only God knows about. The great Physician can put all the pieces back in place, sew up the ripped edges and provide the tender loving care you so desperately need. Take personal, one-on-one time with Him this weekend and rejoice at how He knows right where it hurts and how to heal it completely.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Three-Ingredient Breakfast Cookies

With three ingredients you probably already have in the pantry, you'll be able to serve a quick, healthy breakfast treat tomorrow morning.

2 large bananas, mashed (the riper the better)
2 cups quick oats
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Mash bananas until smooth. Add in oats and combine. Gently stir in chips.

3. Drop by rounded spoonful onto parchment paper.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 11 minutes. Remove immediately to a cooling rack.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cardboard Building Squares

 One of my goals for the new year has been to use up a lot of the old craft supplies that are taking up space in the sun room. I'm ashamed to say that I still have many things (like paper, embellishments and stickers) that I purchased the very first year that I started stamping and scrapbooking. If there was a support group for addicted crafters, I would join in a heartbeat.

So in this effort, I came across a bag that simply had cardboard in it. I'm guessing they were in packages of scrapbook paper, but to be honest, I don't really remember.

Why have a bag full of cardboard when you can have a huge stack of cardboard building squares? Doesn't that sound like much more fun - for kids and adults alike?

Making the building blocks is almost as much fun and playing with them. All I did was take a handful of pieces of cardboard ...

... score them with the paper trimmer ...

... and cut out the squares.

Now comes Creative Part 1. Each square gets random notches cut out. Some have one notch, some two, some three and some enough to make a paper snowflake.

More variety means more ways to build.

 Then set forth your challenge: Build as high as you can. Build as wide as you can. Try building in a circle or in a triangle. Make it a timed build and race to see who can build the highest in five minutes. Challenge the adults to harder tasks than the kids and see who really has the right stuff!