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Some Questions For Small Business And Home Business Owners

If you own your own small business or any of the home businesses available today, you understand what it's like to be your own boss. You can't pass the buck any higher because you are it. You're in charge of your own design, creation, marketing and shipping. There may be a lot of pressure involved, but it's also a great joy to see what you make and what you offer being used and loved by others.

When you're in the middle of every facet of your business, though, it can often be a little overwhelming. You probably just need a way to get all your thoughts on paper and take an inventory of where you've been, how you're working now and what your plans are for the future.

What follows is a long list of questions to read, ask yourself and take some time to think about. Print it out and answer a few a day or copy and paste them into a word document on your computer. Then you can use it repeatedly as a benchmark for your future performance. However you choose to use it…

Sweet And Hot Pepper Relish Dip

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This is one of my favorite weekend, eat-it-til-it's-gone snacks. Truth be told, it's perfectly wonderful any day of the week, so why limit yourself?

All you need to make this tasty dip are two blocks of cream cheese and a great pepper relish. I use the Jake & Amos sweet and hot pepper relish from Dutchman's Store in Cantril. I love the combination of red peppers and chili peppers it has, and it's just the right amount of sweet. Yummy! Your local grocery store probably has a relish like this, too, or you can experiment with what they have on hand.


To make the dip, use the paddle attachment on your stand mixer to beat the cream cheese blocks until they're completely smooth. Then add in the relish and beat on high speed until it's thoroughly combined.

It's great warm or cold, and you can serve it with pretty much any crackers or chips. I love it with our local Sterzings chips, but you could probably eat it on a piece of cardboard and you wouldn't care…

Words For Wednesday

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Little Golden Book Blocks

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Today I'm going to share yet another way to use one of the dozens of Little Golden Books I've collected to make adorable building blocks.

You'll need several supplies and a little bit of time to create these miniature works of art, but the end product is so cute that you won't mind at all. Gather some wood blocks of different sizes, paint, brushes, Mod Podge, a ruler, a paper trimmer and a children's book.

There are two different styles of puzzle blocks in today's tutorial - for one you'll want your blocks painted, for the other it's not necessary. I've painted both sets here just so you can see your options. 

While the paint dries, you can break the book down by cutting off the covers and separating the pages.

For the first set of blocks, we're going to put one picture on the back and a second picture on the front. The sides will stay blue. My small blocks are 1 inch square, so I cut a 3-inch square picture from one of the pages.

And then cut …

A Week Of Analyzing Your Core

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On our 33 acres of land, we have hundreds of tall, older trees and lots of small, newer trees creating an underbrush around them. It's fascinating to see the different generations of growth around the property and picture what it might be like 50 years from now.

Many of those older trees are now out in the open and exposed to the elements. In a recent wind storm, we lost a good-sized tree on the hill up toward the barn. From a distance it sounded like a pretty spectacular crash, and up close it was clear why it took the tumble.
The inside of the tree's trunk had been eaten away by bugs over a long period of time. There were several places where they had nested, creating weak points throughout the bottom of the tree. All it took was one giant rush of wind across the hill and it didn't stand a chance, literally.

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descende…

Spring Flowers For Our Corner Garden

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What a beautiful week we've had - perfect weather for clearing out the gardens and getting some beautiful spring flowers in the ground. I won't tell you about the sunburn I earned while doing this bed - that's a story for another day.

Part of my problem with this particular garden bed is the downspout right above it. One of the joints wasn't sealed properly, so anything I planted was flooded during the first good rain. My first plan of attack was to run to the local home improvement store and invest all of $4 in a tube of gutter sealant. Seriously. That's all it took.


The only plants that would grow in these harsh, water-logged conditions were wildflowers. Unfortunately, they took over the garden and then died as winter set in. The longest part of this entire project was getting all this old growth cleared away.


The change was instantly amazing. This was pretty enough with the new fertilized dirt in it that I almost wanted to leave it just like this. Almost.


You c…

Recovering An Old Card Table And Making It Usable Again

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This card table recover project has been on my to-do list for months. I've been using it as my workspace in the craft room for quite some time, and it sees a lot of abuse. Here it is now, with a neutral cover on it so I can take better pictures for my tutorials.

There were dents and dings in the old blue covering from metal tools.

And yes, I've used my embossing heat tool on it several times, leaving pretty good scars. The padding underneath the blue cover also made it difficult to keep paper crafts flat when adhering them together, so it was time for something new. That's where a simple vinyl tablecloth comes in handy.

The process to recover the table is pretty simple, but I learned a couple of lessons the hard way. I share them with you now. First, don't do this on any surface but a carpet. I tried it on the deck int he sunshine to get better pictures, but all it did was tear up the cover. Second, get a second pair of hands to help you keep the cover tight and you&#…

Cheese And Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops

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If you're looking for something simple and delicious for dinner this weekend, you'll want to try these amazing stuffed pork chops. Check your grocery store's meat section to see if they have pre-butterflied pork chops, or ask the meat manager to do it for you. It will save you a ton of time, and you'll save yourself a step.

Ingredients:
6 boneless pork chops, butterflied
6 slices Monterrey Jack cheese
1 small jar sun-dried tomatoes, drained
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Open the butterflied pork chops and layer cheese and tomatoes. Transfer them to the baking dish and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bake at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until pork chops are cooked through. Be careful not to overcook or the meat will lose its tenderness.

For the recipe for the roasted sweet potatoes and asparagus pictured, just click here.

Words For Wednesday

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Give A Cheery Get Well Packet

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I don't know what it's like in your family and church right now, but here we're passing around some nasty sicknesses. I can't remember the last time our whole church family was together, although I know it means job security for my nurse friends. Today's project will help you share your love and concern with those people who need to hurry up and get well soon and use up some of your paper scraps at the same time.

For this Get Well Soon packet, you'll need packages of dry soup mix, plastic spoons, coordinating paper, matching eyelets or brads and ribbon.

Measure out a rectangle of paper that is about an inch wider than the packet on both sides and half an inch longer on the top and bottom.

Cut two of these, one for the front and one for the back.

With both patterns facing up, fold the front sheet down about two-thirds of the way so you can see what is written on the packet.

Cover that exposed white flap with coordinating paper.

Then tack the flap down and seal …

Psalm 95 — A Call To Praise The Lord, Part 1

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At the top of this psalm, my Bible says "A call to praise the Lord." This simple phrase stirs us up and tells us the writer's exact purpose for penning these words. What better use of our pens and our voices than to give God the honor, glory and praise due Him?

O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. V1

The first thing we need to notice about this opening verse is that it's not one single person chosen to praise God. Us, us, our - these plural words make it obvious that as a collective couple, family, church, community, nation and world, we are to burst forth in song. This pleasure isn't reserved for someone smarter, more talented or more spiritual, but the desire to give praise and celebrate the Lord's goodness is for every one of us.

The second half of this verse is one we musicians think is ironic. Noise and music don't usually work in harmony, but "loud and unpleasant" isn't the definit…

Resurrection Morning

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Three Things To Do While You're Waiting

The day between Christ's burial and His resurrection must have been a cold, silent time. His disciples still didn't understand Jesus' words about His return, so they were in hiding, fearful for their own lives. Hope was in short supply, and the future seemed bleak because the fulfilling of His promises seemed impossible.

So the disciples waited. The women waited to anoint Christ's body with spices. The government officials, priests and scribes waited to see if there would be any fallout or backlash from this very public crucifixion.

Impatience is an addictive drug. It slowly builds and builds in your system, causing your mind to race, your pulse to rush and your temper to get a little out of control. You know the feeling - you're waiting in line or waiting for a phone call to be returned. The more you stare at the person in front of you or at the phone, the slower they seem to move and the tension grows. Soon you're making up conversations in your head and tapp…

The Message Of Good Friday

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Springtime Cookie Cake

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This spring-themed cookie cake was the perfect treat to take to our King's Kids program Wednesday night. We cut it into tiny wedges and most everybody was able to sample it. I even had people texting me after we'd gone home how much they enjoyed it.

Now to share a sweet secret - I made two of these giant cookies. One went to the church and the other is on our kitchen counter. With a chunk broken off one side. Now you know.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 cup pastel chocolate candies
1/2 cup pastel sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

2. Use a mixer to cream butter and sugar. Add in egg and vanilla.

3. Slowly add in all the dry ingredients. You'll end up with a thick dough that will wrap itself around the beater.

4. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in candy and sprinkles.

5. Press dough ev…

Words For Wednesday

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An Easter Dish Garden

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While I was on the hunt for napkins for yesterday's rose fold, I also knew I wanted to find the pieces to make an Easter garden for our dining room table. This beautiful reminder of Jesus' sacrifice for our hope of eternal life shows us every day that we have been bought with a price.

Finding the flowers was easy, as every store in America has pretty bouquets available now. I chose one large and two small pots. The fun part was looking for a container, and this metal tub was exactly what I wanted. It wasn't in the gardening section, but in the special summer aisles to be used as an ice bucket. Not for me!

We have an abundance of rocks in our outdoor gardens, so I put a single layer in the bottom of the bucket.

Then a layer of potting soil.

The largest plant goes in the back after I loosened the roots a little. They were pretty crammed in their little plastic pot.

The two small plants go in front, with a little space between them.

Then it's filled to the rim with more …