Showing posts from September, 2017

Molly's Trip To The Vet

Molly had to go to the vet's office this week to get her yearly physical and shots. Getting her in the car was the easy part because she loves going for rides. She goes right to the back door and waits until I catch up with her, then jumps up and in with almost as much enthusiasm as when she's about to get a treat!

Since she's such a big dog, I can roll down the windows about halfway and she won't fall out, obviously. She loves the wind and the smells - I think she's probably wishing I drove slower so she could be a little more thorough in her air examination.

Molly is an amazingly well behaved dog at the vet's office. She's not terribly fond of the slick tiles floors, and if I were that tall and far off the ground, I wouldn't be either. Other than that, she takes everything in stride. She can see over the counter in the reception area, and everyone falls in love with her immediately.

And here are my answers to all those questions I hear:
Yes, she'…

Stovetop Honey Garlic Pork Chops

Were you wondering what we did with the other half of the pork chops from last week's recipe? I thought so. Today's stovetop pork chops are incredibly tender and juicy, so you'll probably have a difficult time deciding which way to make them first.

Either way you'll be glad you did.

5 pork chops
seasoned salt to taste
1/8 cup honey
1/8 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp minced garlic
lime juice

1. Heat a large iron skillet over medium high heat and spray with nonstick spray.

2. Coat both sides of each pork chop with seasoned salt.

3. Once browned, drizzle honey over the top of the pork chops. Let cook for a minute, then flip them over, honey side down.
4. Drizzle soy sauce over the pork chops. Add garlic and lime juice.

5. Once the glaze has caramelized, flip them back over and cook for one more minute, then serve.

Words For Wednesday


Upcycling Old Greeting Cards

Twice a month I meet with a group of church ladies to work on a fun missions project. Members of the church are asked to donate their used greeting cards, and we turn them into new cards, bookmarks and gift tags. They are then available to take home with a donation to the missions fund. It's a great way to use some creativity and help spread the Word of God around the world.

We create cards in a couple of different ways. The first way is to cut an 8.5x11-inch piece of card stock in half. It doesn't matter if it's not perfect, like the corner here, because the heavy card you're placing on top will smooth it out.

Some cards can easily be cut down to fit on these 5.5x8.5-inch blank cards.

Then the old insides become the new insides.

Another way is to cut the card stock into five pieces, which gives you a 4.5x6.25 inch card, a 2x6.25-inch bookmark, two 2.25-inch square gift tags and a 2x2.25-inch gift tag.

Here they are folded up.

This arrangement helps us use images both…

Never Doubt That God Is Aware

Even the woman who has been saved for decades has days when it feels like her prayers go no further than the ceiling. Something in her life keeps her from feeling close to God, and she wonders if He has left her alone on the path. She may know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it isn't true, but that doesn't dispel the feelings of loneliness and abandonment.

David knew these feelings well, and we read about his concerns, his failures and his pleas with God for His presence and His watch care. In Psalm 139, David's believing heart cries out to the Lord, thanking and praising Him for His awareness of everything in David's heart.

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knows my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3

Even during our darkest hours, God tells us in no uncertain terms that He is aware. His promise to never leave us nor forsake …

Sheet Pan Pork Chops, Sweet Potato, Apple And Asparagus

To celebrate the second day of fall, here is a great sheet pan recipe loaded with autumn favorites. Not only is this incredibly healthy, it's also an easy-cleanup meal. And we all love that!

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp garlic powder
1/2 Tbsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
6 pork chops
1 apple, sliced
2 medium sweet potatoes, diced
1 bundle of asparagus

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

2. Combine brown sugar, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place each pork chop in the mixture and turn to coat. Lay them down the middle of the sheet pan.

3. Toss the apples and sweet potato in the mixture and fill the edges of the pan with them.

4. Roast in the oven at 425 degrees for 20 minutes.

5. Toss asparagus with olive oil and the remaining spice mixture.

6. At the 20-minute mark, add seasoned asparagus to the sheet pan. Roast an additional 10-15 minutes.

Happy First Day Of Fall!

It may be hot and humid in southern Iowa, but the trees say that it's fall! We hope you enjoy a few pictures of the property celebrating the first day of autumn.

Words For Wednesday


Chalkboard Sandwich Board Signs

We're always trying to change things up in our displays when we go to art shows. Some of the display pieces get boring, while others are just out of date. The goal is to look more professional and more customer-friendly than the show before. With that in mind, last week we put together some adorable chalkboard signs to replace the folded pieces of paper we had been using.

To get started, I used a ruler to draw a rectangle with a notch removed for its little legs.

On the copier, I reduced the drawing to 75% and 50% so we would have three sizes of signs. Those copies were then turned into cardboard templates that we can keep and reuse.

From there we traced them onto wood and cut them out with the band saw and scroll saw. A note here: we used two hinges to hold the signs together. In hindsight, we should have chosen our wood based on the length of the screws. They were longer than the thickness of our wood, so we had to add a couple of steps to this process. More on that in a minute…

Facing Your Fears

Several years ago I had the opportunity to take a ride in an historic PT-19 airplane. The pilot took me all over town to take pictures and write an article for the paper. We even had time to fly over our house and see our property from the sky, which was incredible.
When we landed, I profusely thanked the pilot for taking such good care of me and returning me to the ground in one piece. Then I admitted that I have a fear of heights. After we had a big laugh, he said that I shouldn't have any more problems now that I had survived this flight.
I thought I was over it, too, until last weekend at a ladies retreat in northern Iowa. In between some of the most powerful teaching sessions I've ever heard, we had the chance to try several outdoor activities like archery, an incredible pallet maze and paddle boating. We even got to go out on the water in a pontoon boat and ride around the lake.
Right smack dab in the middle of the camp, though, was what I wanted to do more than anything…

Fall Fruit Crisp

Getting out of my comfort zone in the kitchen is a challenge for me. I rely heavily on the exact measurements of a recipe, and I need to know the specific number of minutes something is supposed to bake or cook. I trust the person who developed the recipe much more than I trust my own skills.

But when I read a recipe for an apple pear crisp that I apparently cut out of a magazine several years ago, I didn't like the way they made it. The ratios seemed weird and the combination of ingredients didn't sound good at all. So I did it my way, using the recipe as a rough skeleton.

When Danny tried it, he said it was wonderful my way and that I need to have more confidence in my own abilities. All this learning and growing from one crisp - who knew?

4 medium pears, diced
1 apple, diced
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup almond butter
1 cup honey and oats granola

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 2-quart …

The Life-And-Death Power Of Your Words

She sat across from me at the table, swirling the straw in her glass of pop. Her concerns poured out of her like water from the pitcher the waitress brought.

Once the words are out of your mouth, they can't be put back in.

The plates of food began to cool as she told me about the social media post she wrote, just to vent her frustration. She hit send without realizing it would be read by the wrong people. What was once a personal complaint turned into a topic of public conversation. Heat-of-the-moment words sliced into a heart that was never supposed to see them.

Now she was convicted of the power of those words. Her heart was broken for the heart she had inadvertently broken herself.

Why is it so difficult to control the tongue, one of the smallest parts of the body?

The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked. Proverbs 10:11

Poorly chosen words do violence wherever they fly. They demoralize, destroy and demolish everything in the…

Roasted Sweet Potatoes With Turkey And Cranberry Sauce

I know, this sounds like a Thanksgiving dish, right? Can't you picture sitting around the table with family and friends while feasting on turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce? It's pretty traditional and it's making me hungry to just think about it.

This recipe, though, doesn't have to be saved for the holidays. You can turn any day into a special occasion - that's the power of good food.

2 large sweet potatoes
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 pound ground turkey
1 can jellied cranberry sauce
1 jar chunky garden pasta sauce
Shredded cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Cut sweet potatoes in half lengthwise. Place them in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to coat.

3. Move the sweet potatoes to the baking sheet, skin side up. Roast at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. When you remove them from the oven, the skin should wrinkle and the insides will be very sof…

Words For Wednesday


A Week Of Living An Abundant Life

This quote hangs in the hallway of our local YMCA. As you're sweating and working and groaning at the stretching of your body, you read these words about confidently stepping out into life. I wonder how many people have actually read this sign and thought about what it says.

Too many people make resolutions, to-do lists and promises but never do anything with them. This can clearly be seen at the gym, as people often say they want to get their bodies whipped into shape, but they rarely show up or just sit at a machine and check their emails when they could be doing the workout they planned to do.

Beginning to live means bypassing the head-knowledge of what needs to be done and actually getting down to work. Someone can easily prepare for life all their life and never actually live. (No, I won't repeat that - I don't know if I can.) They'll never take that first step of faith that takes them outside their comfort zone and into the life they say they want.

The thief come…

Creepy Crawlies On The Carrell Wildlife Preserve

PLEASE NOTE: If you are squeamish about things that fly, jump or slither, please do not scroll through today's post. There are no pictures of anything fluffy or cuddly.

For the past couple of weeks we've seen quite a bit of animal activity on the property, but it hasn't been in the form of deer, turkeys or Great Danes like it normally is. We've been visited by a plethora of grasshoppers, wasps, ants and other creatures that surely serve some purpose in life, but I really don't want them near the house. Molly loves chasing the grasshoppers around the yard, playing with them like a giant puppy.

This gorgeous praying mantis was on our screen door early one morning. He was easily as long as my hand, and he didn't move even as I opened and closed the door. This is one of the few creepy-crawlies that I don't mind having around. We stared at each other for a while, I took his picture and he went on his way.

One day there was a baby water snake on the driveway try…

Roll Tide! A College Football-Themed Wreath

The official Alabama football website says it's 1 day, 10 hours, 48 minutes and 40 seconds until kickoff of the Alabama-Florida State game.
39 seconds... 38 seconds... 37 seconds... But who's counting?

In honor of the official start to football season, I made a red, white and black football wreath for our front door. When I finished I realized it was Ottumwa High School colors too, which is an added bonus!

 Believe it or not, this wreath is made from strips of plastic from a dollar store table cloth. I picked up one in three colors along with a wreath and a football for $5. That and a few hours of labor was well worth it! 

The 2-inch by 5-inch strips of plastic table cloth are simply looped around the four wires and pulled tight. Tip: be careful not to pull too hard or the plastic will tear.

Alternate colors in rows around the wreath. Tip: more colors make the finished product much prettier.

Throw in a contrasting color every few rows to break up the monotony. If our store c…