Showing posts from 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!


Words For Wednesday


Children's Book Page Banners

When I asked the church congregation for Little Golden Book donations, I didn't tell them why. All I said was the teen girls Bible study was going to use them for a couple of crafts. These adorable buntings were the first project - the second will happen in the spring.

There is a simple way to make these pennant banners, and it starts with breaking down the book. In order to save the covers, gently pull back the pages and loosen the staples. More on that here.

Once the pages are separated, cut a triangle of cardboard the same width as the top of the page. The bottom point is measured to the middle of width of the page and as far down as you would like. Move the template over the page so the best part of the picture will be used.

Then all you do is punch holes in the top corners of each triangle and run a coordinating ribbon through. A large knot at the ends will hold them in place. The bunting I made is from a children's prayer book and is hanging in the church nursery. 

Deep Waters And Flowing Brooks

Water is a focal point of our property. We enjoy the ponds from the window. We fish in them. We hike around them. And they're one of the main reasons we live where we live.

God has set nature up in a very special way when it comes to water:
The little pond empties into the big pond.
The big pond empties into the creek, despite the beaver's best efforts.
The creek flows down the edge of our property toward the highway.

The ponds are silent, not gushing and troubled waters. They calm the soul and lift the spirits. They aren't bottomless, but they hold enough water that they won't run dry in normal, everyday life.

The water from the ponds replenishes the creek, keeping it filled and moving. The creek is clear and fresh, always flowing. It flows naturally because there is always something good in it, because of the water that empties into it on a regular basis.
The words of a man's mouth are as deep waters, and the wellspring of wisdom as a flowing brook. Proverbs 18:4

A Week Of Counting Your Blessings

My favorite version of the hymn "Count Your Blessings" is to sing Ton By Ton instead of One By One. One by one sounds like a trickle of water from the kitchen faucet. That's not nearly the right word to describe the abundance of God.

I keep a praise journal where I list page after page of reasons to give thanks to God. In just a few months, I can write hundreds and even thousands of specific people, things and events in my life that come straight from the Lord. I have no reason to ever be gloomy or depressed because I can flip through those pages and thank God all over again for how much He loves me and how good He is to me.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Colossians 3:17

Make this a week, not just a day, of counting your blessings. If you take just five minutes a day and think of all the blessings God has placed in your life, you'll be able to sing Ton By Ton, too! And maybe a we…

What Does Home Feel Like?

What is that ultimate feeling you get when you finally get home after a long day? What is it that you long for when you're away?

Is it...

* seeing the lights as you pull into the driveway?

* your favorite plants, trees and landscaping outside the house?

* an entryway that welcomes you in?

* Scripture hanging on the walls?

* pictures and mementos of your family?

* piles of pillows and baskets of blankets?

* the aroma of dinner coming from the kitchen?

* the sound of loved ones' voices?

* prayers to end the day and looking forward to tomorrow?

Everyone has personal reasons they love their home and can't wait to be there. What are yours?

Words For Wednesday


Leftover Candy Brownies

Brownies are pretty great by themselves, but load them up with candy bits and you can take them to a whole other level.

If you have leftover candy from a party, fall festival or Christmas celebration, chop them up and add them in. It doesn't change the baking time, so get creative and make your one-of-a-kind dessert.

Follow the directions on a box of brownie mix, then add in at least 1 cup of chopped candy. Pour the mixture into a lightly sprayed baking dish and smooth it out.

Now sprinkle a few candies across the top and you're ready to bake. Follow the box directions for this part, too.

Serve warm - ice cream is a necessity, not an option.

Is Your Heart Thankful Today?

Yesterday was an exciting day as Danny and I began teaching the upper-elementary Sunday school class. We had so much fun cleaning up the room and getting the first of our decorations up, including this fun Thanksgiving-themed door.

While our odd-looking turkey is adorable, we wanted the message to be powerful. We've been entrusted with the hearts and minds of young children, and we want to fill them with thanksgiving to the Lord every time they walk in the room. Whatever is happening around them, they need to know that God is worthy of praise in all things.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

A simple verse, yet Paul gives us a profound message. In every thing, this thing you're in right now and the thing you'll be in later, give thanks.

Please pray for us as we follow God's leading and direction with these children. We want to see them grow in the Lord, bring their friends to hear the gospel and …

On This Veterans Day Weekend


Fall For All Your Senses

Stop whatever you're doing and think about fall for a minute. Here in early November, we often skip over autumn and Thanksgiving to go straight to Christmas. Don't do it. Don't even think about it for the next few minutes. Instead, think about how to experience fall with all your senses.

 With your eyes: * The changing colors * Animals storing their winter food * The lights inside as it gets dark earlier * The sunshine on the leaves

With your ears: * The crunch of the ground underfoot * Leaves blowing across the yard * Wind in the trees * Owls hooting at night * Coyotes in the distance

With your nose: * Cinnamon and sugar * A late-night bonfire * Cookies in the oven * Hot apple cider * Pumpkin pancakes with maple syrup

With your mouth: * Warm cookies * Cranberry sauce * Turkey right out of the oven * Your favorite potatoes * Pie in every flavor

With your fingers: * Dry leaves that crumble * Prickly straw bales * The skin of a pumpkin * Scratchy burlap

Sausage And Egg Breakfast Casserole

At our annual teen girls' Bible study sleepover, we made a yummy breakfast casserole that got them all ready for the day's devotion. It's so easy to put together, and it's super filling. We added a side dish of fresh pineapple and ate until we could eat no more.

2 1-pound packages of ground sausage
1 32-ounce bag of frozen hash browns
2 cups finely shredded cheddar cheese
8 eggs
2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Brown sausage in a large skillet. Move from skillet to large bowl, leaving the fat and juices in the skillet.

3. Pour hash browns into skillet and cook until browned and the juices are gone.

4. Line the bottom of the baking dish with hash browns, then layer the sausage and cheese on top.

5. In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over top of mixture in the baking dish.

6. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes.

Words For Wednesday


Tips For Mass-Producing Cards

'Tis the season for making batches of Christmas cards - it's only 48 days until Christmas, you know.

I love filling special orders for personalized cards. It's in those moments that I feel like I'm part of their celebration in some small way. At Christmas, it's even more special to be a part of the holiday season for families around the world.

The first order of Christmas cards at Stuff From Trees was completed this weekend, and it was such a fun way to being the holiday months. I was given the number to make and two images: stars and angels. From there, I was able to let my imagination run wild. I love orders like that!

And then for something completely different... This order came after a friend saw cards I had made for another customer. The phrase on the outside and the Bible verse inside were perfect, and I could do whatever I wanted for the color scheme. (Just no lady bugs!)

If you're thinking about (for lack of a better word) mass-producing cards this yea…

A Week Of Making A Change

For several days recently, the power company had workers on the property doing maintenance work. Every year they come through and trim under the power lines so they will be easily accessible in case of an emergency. This means lots of chain saws, men on ATVs driving up the ridge and back and one loud Great Dane keeping them all in their place.

"Work Area Ahead" signs were up in several places for a couple of reasons. First, the workers set up signs at the bottom of the driveway and at the first turn coming up so we'd know exactly where they were. They didn't want us to pull in or out of the driveway, possibly running them down in the process.

The second reason was so we'd understand why it was so noisy and the landscape was being changed. The first year they did this, we had no idea how much work they'd have to do. This year, though, there was much less new growth under the power lines, so the work only took about a week to complete. The changes will have ma…

Our Life In A Storybook World

We have said from the very beginning that we are blessed beyond measure to live on our property. At this time of year, though, it's difficult to step away from the windows. And now, we press the "release the wildlife" button. Prepare to feel like a Disney princess in a storybook world.

Our trio of geese are back this year, and they're joined by a dozen pairs of ducks.

This is the largest of the three bucks.

A crane or two are often walking along the banks of the ponds.

That silhouette in the center of the picture is a muskrat. A very large muskrat.

And we have a plethora of bunnies. I'm hoping one of them is the tiny bunny I kept Molly from playing with a few months ago.

And last but not least, we have a rafter of about 10 turkeys. I've named one of them "dinner" because I would love for him to be our guest at Thanksgiving.
That's the end of our wildlife tour for today, folks. Join us again next time when we hit the "release the wildlife&q…

The Greatest Gift You Can Give Your Husband

Today is Danny's birthday, and it's such a blessing to spend a whole day celebrating him! There are many fun things scheduled for the day - some he knows about and some he doesn't. The secrets make me happy!

But the best birthday present that any woman can give her husband is the gift of prayer. Whether his special day is coming up soon or isn't for several months, it's the perfect time to load him up with eternal blessings.

* Pray that he will have a desire to grow spiritually, in some way, every day.

* Pray for his strength and endurance when he's at work.

* Pray for God's guidance in making daily decisions.

* Pray that God will protect him from temptation and always show him a way out.

* Pray for his eyes to be opened to the joyful moments around him.

* Pray that his heart will be focused on God's will for your husband, your marriage and your home.

* Pray that he will live with integrity and share his testimony with those around him.

And that's j…

Happy 4th Birthday, Molly Jo!


Breakfast Cereal Cheesecake Bites

These cheesecake bites are a fun way to showcase your favorite breakfast cereal. They're sweet and crunchy all rolled into one amazing little package.
There are literally hundreds of candy molds out there, so you can create a holiday-themed treat or just something special for an ordinary day. Once you've made them with one kind of cereal, you'll definitely want to try more.
2 blocks cream cheese, softened 1 cup powdered sugar 1/2 cup of your favorite cereal
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar. If it's not sweet enough, add powdered sugar in 1/4 cup increments.
2. Gently mix in cereal.
3. Press mixture into a silicon candy mold. Freeze for 2-3 hours.
4. Once solid, remove the cheesecake bites from the mold, then refrigerate.

Words For Wednesday


Three Ways With Blank Labels

There is rarely a time when I go to the dollar store and don't walk away with a dozen ideas for new craft projects. Part of it is the incredibly low prices, and the other part is the ever-changing inventory. So when I saw these packages of blank labels, my mind went to work. There are between 50 and 60 labels in each package, so there are many options for decorating and creating something new and interesting.

One of my favorite ways to decorate labels is also a great way to use that huge rubber stamp collection. Combine phrases with sweet images for one-of-a-kind sticker labels. To stamp images that run over the edges of the label without them looking messy, cut masking tape to fit around the outside of the label lines. Then stamp, let dry and then peel the tape away. 

These darker labels are the perfect place for clear stickers with white lettering. It can be difficult to read white writing on many surfaces, and it can be hard to find background colors and patterns that make cle…

Words For Wednesday


BBQ Tuna Enchiladas

If you aren't a big fan of tuna, you'll want to try this amazing recipe. A little bit of BBQ sauce tones down the fishy flavor while giving it a huge boost of taste. You'll never look at canned tuna the same way again!

Using a grill pan for these enchiladas is possibly the most important part of the whole recipe. The ridges in the pan will make crispy marks on the tortillas, adding the perfect amount of crunch.

There are many variations of ingredients you can add to this dish, and I've chosen just one to share with you today. Once you've tried this one, create your own combination and share it here.

4 medium tortillas
2 large cans of tuna
1/4 cup honey BBQ sauce
1/8 cup peach mango salsa
1/4 cup plain kernel corn

1. Spray your grill pan with nonstick spray and warm over medium-high heat.

2. Combine the tuna and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Divide evenly between two tortillas on a plate.

3. Divide the salsa and corn evenly between the two tortillas and …

A Week Of Insufficiency

In a culture that emphasizes power, determination and self-sufficiency, it's impossible for a woman to keep up. Busy women are applauded, successes are celebrated and weakness is seen as something to be purged from our vocabulary. Higher - faster - stronger - louder is all we hear.

The problems that result from this mentality are worse than ever. We are exhausted, frustrated and cranky. We move so fast that we don't know if we're coming or going. And God forbid we take a break without feeling guilty.

The truth is that we are insufficient in and of ourselves. We've long believed the lies that we should pull ourselves up by our boot straps and reach deep within to keep moving, doing and thinking. It's no wonder we're running ourselves ragged because we're trying to do the impossible - function under our own power.

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God. 2 Corinthians 3:5

Matthew Henry once wrot…

Cactus Pear Scones

Whenever our local grocery store has something weird and wonderful in the produce section, we have to try it. This is how we learned about dragon fruit, rambutan and lots of other yummy treats. Grocery shopping really can be an adventure!

So when I came across cactus pears this weekend, I couldn't resist. You've probably seen them in pictures of cactus in the desert. They're all covered with spines on a tough skin, which is why they're also called prickly pears. When you buy them in the store, though, they've already been cleaned and had the spines taken off.

To make these yummy scones, I adapted one of my favorite pear recipes to work with cactus pears. Note: If you don't like seeds in your food, this is not the recipe for you. If you don't mind them so much, read on!

For the scones -
4 cactus pear, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter, diced very small
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Words For Wednesday


Ridged Scarf DIY Pattern

This year our church is again participating in Operation Christmas Child, a shoebox program that provides Christmas gifts and the story of Jesus Christ to children all over the world. As we gather small items to put in these boxes, I used a beautiful variegated yarn to make a girl's scarf.

I don't know much about how to crochet, but I know the two stitches required to complete this pattern. If you're like me, here are some basic instructions. For those of you who do this on a regular basis, the actual pattern is at the bottom of this post. Start with a chain of 10, then add one more to make the turn (a total of 11 chain stitches).

Single crotchet in the 10 loops of the chain, then chain one more to make the turn.

On this row, single crochet in the back loop only. This is what gives you the ridges. Then chain one more to make the turn.

Continue until it is the desired length or you run out of yarn, whichever comes first.

Weave the ends into the body of the scarf so they…