Showing posts from July, 2017

Wild West Paper Crafts

On August 5, Stuff From Trees will have a booth set up at the Albia Restoration Days celebration. The theme this year is the Wild West, and we have several pieces that celebrate that cowboy spirit. I love this quote from John Wayne, and it fits perfectly with this denim and leather stand-up sign.

Our altered journals are some of my favorite crafts we do, and the Wild West one is no exception. It's covered with words and images that are sure to take you out on the range.

The inside covers are covered in a metallic bandana print in both blue and red.

And the back is a gorgeous denim print with ropes and steer emblems.

As wonderful as those two are, this altered Little Golden Book is probably my favorite of anything we'll have at the show. Lasso the Moon is a book about two children who spend their night wrangling the stars and practicing their lasso techniques on the crescent moon.

I took the book apart, made my own pages and used the original book illustrations as pages and ac…

Mama Deer Takes On Triple The Responsibility

So a few weeks ago we had twin raccoons on the property, and we thought that was pretty cool. But it was nothing compared to this week when we saw a doe and three fawns by the little pond. They were absolutely stunning to watch, as they looked for their breakfast and had a romp in the water.

Two of them stayed very close to their mama, and we were able to see them nuzzle her and help her pull leaves off the trees. They enjoyed playing in the water a little and all seemed to be in great health. We would much rather see them this way than in a rehabilitation situation like we're used to.

The third fawn was larger and didn't stay as close to the doe as the other two. Our assumption is that this baby lost its own mother and had been adopted by this one. If so, that's one brave mama to take on three fawns all at once. We're looking forward to seeing them on the property and watching them grow to adulthood.

How Closely Are You Following?

My very favorite game on my phone is a racing game - I get to go as fast as I want and drive some pretty amazing cars. This is as close to any of them as I will ever be, and it's fun to pass other cars, tap their bumper on occasion and rack up lots of points for my great driving skills.

The only problem is this: I work hard to race my way from the last position up to the front of the pack. I breathe for a moment after passing 20 or so cars only to realize that I'm not in first place like I thought I was. There's usually one car in front of me (sometimes two), and the game shows me exactly who one of them is - Danny. He's raced more and is at a higher level than I am, so he's often way out in front of me and all I can do is follow. That little icon tells me where he is, because often I can't see him, and how far in front of me he is.

My lower level and experience in the game mean that I will not be able to pass him, yet, but I can copy his lines, see how he tak…

Craft Inspiration From Book Sale Finds

This is just a sampling of the paper craft books and magazines I've found at book sales this summer. When they're anywhere from 25 cents to $1 each, they're difficult for me to pass up. My addiction to books, as my husband politely puts it, definitely crosses over into my business life as well.

During one particular afternoon's creative jumpstart session, I saw this lovely card in one of the magazines. While I especially liked the sentiment in the center, the simple layout and beautiful color scheme really caught my eye. This spark of inspiration put a card in my head with this layout, but with my own spin on it.

For my card, I kept the same template, using spring rain and daisies as my theme. I chose a sentiment that would fit in the center of the card and matted it on distressed wood decorator paper. Instead of hemp rope, I used yellow baker's twine to set off the yellow in the flowers. For a finishing touch, I used two different sizes of pearls in place of a fe…

Words For Wednesday


My Two-Tiered, Plaid, Candy-Covered Birthday Cake

First, a confession. This is not the cake I intended to make last weekend. One of the dearest, sweetest girls in my teen Bible study turned 18 on Friday, and her mom asked me to decorate the cakes for the surprise party. I would much rather decorate than bake any day, so she brought the finished cakes to my house. I immediately stacked them in the oven because you don't leave anything important on the counter when you have a Great Dane.
Are you already sensing the impending doom? Yes, after I heated up the oven for supper that night, we noticed an odd burning smell. And yes, it was the cakes heating up in the oven. They were so warm by that time that they stuck to the pans and the cutting boards. They were salvageable for birthday cake truffles, so Plan B became truffles and four more cakes of my own for the party.

So here is how I made a two-tiered, plaid, candy-covered birthday cake!

I started by tracing the outline of each pan onto newsprint. (What good writer doesn't have…

Three Things That Made Me Smile This Week

There has been so much to rejoice over this week, but here are just a few of my favorites.

Grand Central Station on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve: I felt like a Disney princess this week, watching all the animals around the house. It started with two bunnies being chased by a ferret. The ferret caught one of them while the other thought he would escape across the field. Instead, he was captured by a hawk that was flying by. Add to this a congress of turkeys, a yard full of moles and several shifty-looking squirrels, and Molly has been beside herself trying to protect us.

OK, so somebody created light bulb and ceiling fan-shaped fan pulls. It's the littlest thing in the whole wide world, but it's also possibly the cutest! We're going to get them for all the light fixtures in the house, so everyone else can have a tiny smile, too.

In Molly's attempt to bark at every single thing that moves on the property, she's wearing herself out. She's been moving very slowl…

Rules Of Life From 1875

Living History Farms in Des Moines has always been a favorite destination for school groups. I remember going there in school several times, walking through the farms set up depict what life in Iowa was like in the 1700s, the 1870s and the 1900s. Farm life was very different then, and it has always fascinated me to see actors literally living on the farms from day to day, showing us what happened there on a daily basis.

The second half of the Farms is an 1870s town, complete with general store, church, dress shop, lawyer's office, dentist's office and printer's shop. All of the buildings are working shops, actually printing all the signage for the town, making period-style clothing and selling goods that would have been available in that decade.

Visiting a living museum like this as an adult is much different than walking through as a child. Everything makes more sense now, and I notice things I definitely don't remember seeing as a little girl. Walking into the schoo…

Too Many Pockets Altered Children's Book

Sometimes inspiration comes at the strangest moments. At one of our local book sales, I happened across this adorable children's book. It might not mean anything to most people, but my mind automatically thought that this would make an amazing altered album with a ton of pockets inside.

This week I finally sat down to work on it, and the result was an adorable little gift book.

Inside is the condensed version of the storybook. 

Every other set of pages is a pocket with tags tucked inside. They can be used for pictures, journaling or just about anything your little heart desires.

This altered album starts like all the books I make - the inside pages come out. This is a fairly easy process regardless of the type of binding.

Then I cut the cover into two pieces, a front and a back. Then I punched three large holes in the spine for the binder rings.

For the inside pages, I cut plain card stock just smaller than the cover, then punched holes in one side.

 The pages that will be from t…

Words For Wednesday


Baked Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs

Chicken is a staple in any great freezer, and it's easy to get it at deep discounts when you watch for sales. Some cuts are also much less expensive than others - I can often get a package of six chicken thighs at our local grocery store for about $2. This saves our budget and gives us a tasty meal every time.

I also like recipes that stay in one pan, and this chicken recipe fits the bill. It goes from stovetop to oven and back again, wrapping things up with an incredible sauce. Give it a try this week and see if you love it as much as we do.

6 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp soy sauce

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in an oven-safe, cast iron skillet. Brown chicken thighs on both sides with salt and pepper to taste, about 3 minutes per side.

3. Place entire skillet in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until completely cooked through.

4. When chicken is …

Big Dog, Little Dog

Molly and Triniti are basically two sizes of the same dog. It's so much fun having them in the house together, as there's always something interesting happening. We could probably just leave the tv off and enjoy watching them!

Their similarities:
* They bark at any unusual sounds.
* They wear dark mascara around their eyes.
* They lick anything within reach.
* They are great cuddlers.
* They enjoy walks on the property.
* They are both lap dogs.
* They get fixated by squirrels, birds, moles ... just about everything that walks or flies.
* They come running when they hear any noise from the kitchen.
* They consider naps an important part of each day.
* They go where we go.

Their differences:
* Um, about 120 pounds.
* Molly has four legs and Triniti has three.

And that's about it. They are much more alike than they are different. And most importantly, they are both loving and loved in return.

What To Do When You Really Love Naps

Several years ago I went through a sleep study to find out why I was so tired during the day and unable to sleep deeply at night. I spent the night at the sleep center and then spent the next day taking a series of naps, all while hooked up to numerous machines to track my sleep patterns.

In the end, all they determined was that I had excessive daytime sleepiness - which is why I went to them in the first place. I already knew that. Their solution was a stimulant in the morning and a sedative at night. This would get my sleep cycle back to "normal," although it would be something I would have to do for the rest of my life.

Needless to say, I didn't opt for this route. Instead, I began to rely on several naps throughout the day to recharge my batteries. This, combined with coffee and cappuccino, was how I made it through the day. And that was all I was doing - making it through.

Soon I learned that I really didn't need those naps as much as I thought I did. They were…