Showing posts from August, 2017

Adding Dimension To Your Paper Crafts Without Adding Bulk

The last thing I want when I ship one of my cards or gifts to a customer is for embellishments to fall off on the way to their destination. It's difficult to add dimension to pages without using something with some bulk. Gems are notorious for slipping and sliding when they get caught, and buttons can get snagged and lost along the way, too. So what's a girl to do?

Secret #1 - layers of paper. Combining punched shapes and scraps of coordinating decorator paper add lots of dimension without the height. The pages stays relatively flat while the variety of patterns are pleasing to the eye.

Secret #2 - flat embellishments. I hate just putting a sticker on a piece of paper, so I'm always looking for embellishments that stick up, but just a little. My favorite are acrylic dots like these, which shine in the light and stay low-profile. 

Secret #3 - fibers. Thin fibers and flat ribbon can turn an ok project into something fabulous. They don't add a lot of bulk when used indi…

Words For Wednesday


Rooty-Tooty Fruity Pebbles-Crusted Chicken

This recipe is just fun. It's fun to make, it's fun to smell while it's cooking and it's fun to eat. It works with just about any type of cereal, so play around with your favorites and create your own fun!

We found that chicken tenderloins work best for this, as larger pieces of chicken cook more slowly and the cereal burns instead of crisping up.

Heat two or three tablespoons of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. While it's heating, start working on your chicken.

Pour about two cups of cereal into a plastic bag and whack it until it's a powder. When you put it in a bowl, it becomes the breading for the chicken.

In a second bowl, beat an egg and add a splash of milk. Dip the chicken in the egg wash and then in the cereal crumbs.When the oil is hot, put the chicken in the oil and cook on each side 3-4 minutes. The cereal cooks more quickly than the chicken, obviously, and will brown and then blacken. It's not burnt, just well-cooked.

More Than Rubies Ladies Conference

I was blessed beyond measure at the two-day ladies conference at Good News Baptist Church in Cedar Rapids this weekend. Their theme was More Than Rubies, taken from the first verse of the Proverbs 31 woman. It was a time of rejuvenation, sound Bible teaching and lots of fun fellowship. I left these lovely ladies with many nuggets of truth from God's word, and here are just a few.

Think of your words like a game of Jenga. You can either tear people down and remove pieces from the bottom so they eventually topple, or you can build them up and make them even stronger than they were before.

Maybe your words aren't hurting other people, but how are they helping? A commitment to use wise words makes you more aware of how you speak. God will give you His words if you'll just ask for them.

God's definition of beauty is the complete opposite of the world's definition. As Psalm 96:9 says, beauty comes from holiness and the desire to be Christ-like, not that obsession with l…

A Week Of Paying Attention

I almost walked right through it.

The largest spider's web I have ever seen and I almost destroyed it because I didn't see it. Molly and I were out for a walk, and the web was partially obscured by the tree branches it was attached to. It wasn't until Molly stopped to sniff a blade of grass that I looked up to find it a few inches away from my face.

Now, it wouldn't have been terrible if I had walked through it. It would have taken a minute to wipe it off and the spider would have to start over again, but in the grand scheme of things it wouldn't have been so bad.

Just a little icky.

On the other hand, there are many things we don't want to miss out on because we weren't paying attention.

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18

While it's totally ok to miss out on a spider's web in your hair and on your clothes, but it's a tragedy not to see the miracles and blessings of God in your life. When we don…

The Power Of Praise

Do you remember the old television show Hee-Haw? It was a sketch comedy show that also featured the most popular country music stars of the day. One of the songs they always sang, partnered with a terrible joke, went like this:

Gloom, despair and agony on me
Deep dark depression, excessive misery
If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all
Gloom, despair and agony on me

While it was funny to see a bunch of guys and a hound dog laying around on the front porch singing about their tough times, that woe-is-me attitude is so prevalent in the world today. I was deep in one of those moods this week, and it definitely wasn't a scene from a television show.

Everything was going wrong when it really wasn't. No one cared about me even though they really did. I would have to struggle through this when I really didn't have to. I thought this feeling would never go away though in actuality it could pass very quickly. It was all about my perspective.

I ended up sitting a…

Roasted Bratwurst And Peppers

Just because tradition says you cook a certain type of food one way doesn't mean you can't change things up a little. Sometimes the best way to beat the dinnertime doldrums is to do something completely different.

In our house, bratwurst are a staple when we grill. Burgers, steaks, pork chops and other goodies will rotate in and out, but you'll almost always find bratwurst. But what about on the days you can't (or don't want to) pull out the grill? Here's a great way to roast them with some peppers and stay inside the whole time.

6-8 bratwurst
2 cans chicken broth
1 cup apple juice
Mesquite grilling seasoning
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 yellow pepper, cut into strips

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a foil-lined baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. Place bratwurst in a medium pot and pour in broth and juice. The bratwurst should be completely covered with liquid, so add more of each or a little water to fill.

3. Bring the p…

Words For Wednesday


Is Your Craft Room Ready For Fall?

Now is the time to work ahead on your fall craft projects! Go ahead and dig out everything you can find that screams "autumn" and then get creative. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started.

This fall accordion album can be filled with photos, Scripture, journaling or just about anything else your heart desires.

Use up some of your scrap paper to make a personalized notepad.

Cover a child's board book in fall-themed paper and create your own altered album.

A paper bag album can be filled with lots of little treasures, too. Here's the instructions for a similar one.

Get a few extra composition books while they're on sale and turn them into great fall journals.

And use up all of those adorable embellishments by making piles of fall cards. With all of these autumn projects, you'll be wearing a sweater and drinking cider in no time!

Six Ways To Pray For Our Students

Many of our students are going back to school this week, some cheering and some moaning. This was always the best time of year for me because I love new school supplies. I still walk through the aisles of paper, pencils, erasers and notebooks just because I can. It makes me happy.

Regardless of what grade they'll be in, the young people in our families, neighborhoods and churches desperately need our prayers as they get ready for the classroom. They will be under pressure, stretched emotionally and going through mental calisthenics the likes of which we've never seen. Let's take them to the Lord in prayer as often as we can.

* Pray for their home lives. When they leave for school in the morning, they will still be carrying the weight of whatever is happening in their family. Ask the Lord to help them start the day with a clear mind and peaceful heart.

* Pray for traveling mercies. Whether it's by bus, car, bicycle, skateboard or their own two feet, we want all of them t…

A Week Of Welcoming The Trials

Iowa is in the middle of a terrible drought. We're most concerned for the farmers with corn and soybeans in the fields, though we'd love a good gully-washer for our yards, too.

Many people have noticed that when large thunder storms come our way, they've always gone north of us, south of us or actually split in two to go around us completely. We're to the point of celebrating when we get just a few drops of rain on the windows; we're that desperate.

Even when there's no rain in them, we still see the dark clouds coming our way. This was a cloud bank that rolled over the ponds while we were fishing this week. Instead of grabbing our stuff and running for the house, we just stood there and watched them go over. Something that we would have been worried about just a few months ago was a welcome sight now, as we hoped for a good rain.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worth patience. Jam…

What's On My Bookshelf This Week

Although it's been a busy few weeks around here, I still have several books going at the same time. A couple of them are study books, two of them Danny and I are reading at the same time and one is just plain interesting!

* Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William R. Maples. My undertaker has been reading this autobiography of a forensic anthropologist to me. Using skeletons - or even individual bones and fragments - he determines the age, gender and ethnicity of a corpse, then uses that information to help law enforcement agencies in their investigations. Danny shares some of the things he's seen as well, which makes the time reading this book even more fascinating.

* Believing God by Beth Moore. One of her books from 2004, she makes you question whether you believe in God or believe God Himself. Every single statement she makes is backed by Scripture, and she is very clear that the reader will have to make radical choices in her life if she wants to see God work in radical ways. T…

A Glimpse Of Life In 1892

When I was growing up, history was not my favorite thing. It was full of people that I didn't know, events I'd never heard of and a culture completely unfamiliar. Why should a kid care about people who aren't even alive anymore? It just didn't seem real.

The older I get, though, the more interesting history has become. As a retired newspaper and magazine editor, I am fascinated by turn-of-the-century periodicals and publications, especially the ones that focus on the little things in life that we no longer have or experience. I have a 1892 copy of Demorest's Family Magazine, a monthly periodical that is full of stories, photos and advertising from the period. I can sit and read these for days!

Each issue had the next month's calendar inside, loosely inserted so you could tear it out and display it. What a fascinating collection this would have been in your home.

It introduced every-day folks to the world of art through popular and historic paintings.

On the m…

DIY Building Blocks From Scrap Wood - A Work In Progress

The last time we were at Living History Farms in Urbandale, I noticed these wood blocks in a room they had set up as a 1870s child's playroom. They were so simple, and the kids who played with them could really use their imaginations to turn them into anything. I quickly snapped a picture just in case I wanted to make something like this of my own one day.

When I spotted a few small pieces of wood leftover from a friend's new deck project, I could easily picture them as blocks like the ones I had just seen. She gladly handed them over, with a hug as her only required payment.

From there, I made my first set of house blocks! There are three large sides, so there will be houses and storefronts on each of them. I'm so excited to play with them already!

Because they were the rough cuts from larger pieces of wood, they needed to be sanded on every side. Please note: a belt sander can take off layers of skin in a heartbeat. While I have never experienced it for myself, Danny is…

Words For Wednesday


Cinnamon Raisin French Toast Sticks

As I sat at the table Friday night trying to figure out what to cook with the girls at our teen Bible study on Saturday, I was at a complete loss. We've been meeting for a year now, and we've already made many of the dishes and treats they'd wanted to do.

That's when Danny suggested something simple like French toast sticks, but using our cinnamon raisin bread instead of boring old wheat bread. Now how smart is he? (The answer is very smart.)

So the girls and I tried it Saturday afternoon, and they said it was "way better" than regular bread. They also liked having strips of bread so it was crunchy all the way around instead of soft and mushy in the middle. Here's how they did it:

1 loaf cinnamon raisin swirl bread
1 egg
splash of milk
syrup or powdered sugar

1. Spray a cast iron skillet with nonstick spray and heat over medium-high heat.

2. Cut each slice of bread into four strips.

3. Beat the egg in a bowl and add just a splash of milk, en…

Cutting Bait And Starting Over

After our neighbors had great success fishing in our two ponds last week, Danny and I just had to go down and try for ourselves. We've been super busy with craft shows and our Etsy shop lately, so fishing took a back burner. This is a terrible problem since the ponds are just a 30-second walk away.

I hadn't been fishing very long when my reel wouldn't cast at all. I had somehow created the worst knot of fishing line I'd ever seen. It wasn't too tight to begin with, but the more I tried to untangle it, the worse it became. Soon there were two knots pulled so tight that I knew I wasn't going to be able to get them out.

Danny took a look and, after assessing the damage, decided it was time to cut bait and start over. He'd already pulled my line free from some under-water debris, and I'd freed it from the tree above the little pond, so I had no argument. It only took a couple of minutes for him to clip the line, remove the snarled mess and reattach the hoo…

Girls Reflect What They See In Women

As I walked into the locker room at the gym this week, there were two middle-school-aged girls in front of the mirror taking duck-face photos of themselves on their phones. (You know the ones, where you pucker your lips and you end up looking more like a duck than flirty.) They just laughed and giggled the entire time I was down there.

When I came back through, the pictures had escalated from faces to other body parts. My heart broke as they were bent over taking pictures of places that didn't have any purpose being on camera. They obviously didn't have a problem with it, and I hate to think about where those pictures might end up.

By the time I got back upstairs after my workout, there was a group of teenagers hanging out in the lobby. I had to sit down for a few minutes while Danny finished up his routine, so I found a seat a little ways away from them. Within a few seconds I heard language coming from their mouths that I don't remember hearing from anyone this young be…

A DIY Planner For When You Can't Find One You Like

I've had my eye on a couple of planners recently because I'm tired of the system (or lack thereof) I've been using. Once the newness wears off, I often revert back to a piece of paper and a pencil. This isn't very effective, though, so I started looking online for something amazing that would fit my needs. After realizing that there wasn't one that was everything I needed, I made my own.

My new planner is a 1.5-inch binder is the most beautiful, bright colors I could find. I'm pretty sure I won't lose it because of its size and the fact that it probably glows in the dark.

With school supplies on sale right now, it was easy to gather up everything I might possibly need to go inside the binder.

I printed off two sets of calendars from August through December and punched holes in the top for putting it straight into the binder. I don't want them in the page protectors because I'm constantly writing on them, and it's too much work to pull them in …