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Showing posts from March, 2017

Organizing Your Filing System

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Hopefully you have everything gathered for tax season, which is just around the corner. If not, take some time for that this weekend. Then it will be a weight off both your mind and heart.

If you are ready, now is the perfect time to get your filing system in order. It may sound like a long, tedious task, but it will be worth it in the end.

Today I want to share how our filing system is set up, as well as a couple of tips for doing it yourself.

And if you'd like to turn your boring, outdated filing cabinet into a pretty piece of furniture like ours pictured, just click here.

Our filing is set up by month to begin with. I started this two years ago as a way to save my sanity. I am not a big fan of filing each individual piece of paper in a separate folder. That is a waste of my time and energy, not to mention brain power, all of which are often in short supply.

Instead, all of the filing for the month goes in an individual folder labeled with the month and year. This has proven in…

BBQ Country Style Short Ribs In The Slow Cooker

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This quick, simple recipe will let you enjoy the pride of Iowa's pig farmers with some fall-apart pork ribs. These thick, BBQ sauce-covered delicacies will melt in your mouth and have you coming back for more.

Ingredients:
4-6 country style pork ribs (bone in or boneless)
salt and pepper to taste
1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp minced garlic
dash of liquid smoke
1 bottle honey BBQ sauce

1. Set slow cooker to low. Spray the inside with nonstick spray.

2. Place ribs in an even layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Salt and pepper tops of ribs to taste.

3. Layer onion slices on top of the meat, then add garlic and liquid smoke. Pour the BBQ sauce to completely cover all the other ingredients.

4. Cook on low 6-7 hours, until meat is cooked through and falls apart. Enjoy with roasted sweet potatoes and mixed vegetables.

Words For Wednesday

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Wood Burned Beads For Rustic Jewelry

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Since the beginning of the year, I've been trying to finish all the projects in my craft room that I started and tucked away for some reason. I am distracted no more, but focused on accomplishing some fun things and sharing them with you. That's where these wood burned beads came from - OK, so they came from a tin in the garage, but you know what I mean.

Since Danny upgraded to a new burning tool and gave me the old one, I can't stop using it. I have so many wood pieces that can take on new life in just minutes, and it's fun to learn new techniques and research ways to use all the wood pieces I have stored away.

One of the best techniques for working with small items, like these beads, is to thread them onto a toothpick and holding that instead of the bead itself.

It makes turning the bead as you work easier, and it steadies those of us with shaky hands so the details can be much more minute.

And now, onto my beads. I tried some fun patterns like alternating and offse…

The Four Failures Of Saul's Army

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From the time we were little, we heard the story of David and Goliath. As tiny little people we learned about being courageous, fighting the enemy and giving God the glory for our victories. What better way to encourage children than with the story of a young man who faced death in the name of the Lord?

In the midst of the drama and tension of the fight scene in 1 Samuel 17, the actions and reactions of the Israelite soldiers often sneak past us. Their actions - or lack thereof - should be just as important a lesson as letting God guide the stones when you let them fly.

About one-third of this chapter describes the army and its shortcomings, and there are four very distinct F's that became chinks in their armor.

1. They forgot. How many times do you read between Genesis 1 and 1 Samuel 17 that God had given them the victory? How often did He tell them that the battle wasn't theirs, but His? They had witnessed His power for themselves so many times, but here, in the heat of bat…

A Week Of Waiting For Rain

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This week we had a good, soaking rain. It came out of nowhere, drenching the ground for the better part of an hour. Molly and I sat at the window and watched, mostly because it had been so long since we'd actually seen rain.

Southern Iowa has been parched of late, which is clearly seen by the layer of grime on my car. After driving on gravel roads to interview a source for a magazine article and just going up and down our own driveway, it's clear that we were in much need of a cleansing rain.

Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. James 5:7

We have a choice while waiting for the rain - we can wait patiently or we can be impatient. Think about it this way: will a lack of patience make the rain come more quickly? Will any amount of anger, bitterness, frustration or grumbling bring rain drops from the clouds?

Make this…

Dogs Need Mental Exercise, Too

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Is your dog ...
whining? pacing? ignoring you? staring out the window? eating less? barking at nothing? running from window to window?
When Molly started doing all of these things, we realized she needed a little more mental exercise than she was getting. After going from three dogs in the house to just her, she's been a Velcro dog, needing a little more time and attention.
If your dog is doing any combination of these, here are some ideas that might work that busy brain in there.
* Command training. This should be a frequent event anyway, regardless of how old they are or the training they already have. Teaching and reteaching commands activates a dog's brain the same way doing a puzzle affects ours. Plus, you'll have a better behaved dog for your efforts.
* Take time every day for play. No matter how busy we are, it's so important to spend 20-30 minutes of playtime with our puppies. Even the laziest of dogs can use some interaction, and high-energy dogs need it to w…

Two Alphabet Workouts

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If you're like me, doing the same workout routine every day gets incredibly boring. And when I'm bored, I give up and move on to something else - usually something non-fitness in nature.

Here are two simple and fun ways to do your workout without doing the same thing over and over. Pick the one you like best, and the one that fits your fitness level right now, and follow the instructions for increasing the difficulty level as you go.

For the first workout, see how far you can get through the alphabet before you can't go any further. Start with twice a week, then three times a week. After three or four weeks, increase the number of each exercise as your body adapts.

A - 10 crunches
B - 10 jumping jacks
C - 10 bicep curls
D - 10 squats
E - 10 push ups
F - 10 lunges
G - 10 upward rows
H - 20 second reverse plank
I - 10 alternating leg raises
J - 20 second plank
K - 10 river jumps
L - 10 tricep kick backs
M - 20 second wall sit
N - 8 crunches
O - 8 jumping jacks
P - 8 bicep c…

Making A Mechanical Slider Card

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There are some days when I'll stare at a blank piece of card stock for hours and never see a finished card. Then on other days, like one this week, when I see something I've never seen before. That's how this beautiful slider card came to be. For this special card, you will need: card stock, decorator paper, eyelets, fibers, beads and adhesive.

Step 1: Cut and fold the card stock. I have a certain size of envelope that I like to use, so my cards are all cut to fit that. It's easier for me to make the card fit the envelope than find an envelope to fit my card.

Step 2: A simple patterned paper as a background.

Step 3: Cut another decorator paper slightly smaller than the card.

 Step 4: Choose an image that fits nicely and cut out a frame slightly taller and much wider. This is the space the image will move back and forth in.

 Step 5: Set eyelets in the sides of the image.

Step 6: Set eyelets in the frame in the middle of each side, even with the eyelets on the image.

St…

Words For Wednesday

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Strawberry Cake Mix Bars

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There are so many magical things you can do with a box of cake mix. I love making some basic cookies from them. You can always add ingredients to make special cookies. They make cute little cake loaves. And you'll enjoy the baked donuts you can make.

Here's one more to add to the list: cake bars! I love the cherry and strawberry cake flavors, but this will work perfectly with whichever flavor you like best.

Ingredients:
1 box strawberry cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 bag white baking chips
1 container pretty sprinkles

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and vegetable oil. Stir in about 1/4 cup of white chips and a few of the sprinkles.

3. The mixture will be stiff and sticky, but you can still spoon it out and press it evenly into the baking pan. Add another handful of white chips and more sprinkles.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 14-16 minutes, or until the edges have just turned brown.

Note To Self...

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A Week of Identifying Your Walls

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Up at the top of the hill by the big barn, there is a large circle of native grasses. It stands about 7 feet tall, and it's especially pretty when it moves in the breeze. 
But upon closer inspection, not all of the grass is standing up tall and pretty — in reality, it's just the outside ring. Inside, the grass has all been trampled and broken, leaving it to lie on the ground and whither away.
The outside doesn't match the inside. Seeing this plot from a distance, it would appear to be healthy and flourishing. It's pretty for pictures and seems to be growing strong. It's not until you peek inside that the true condition is apparent.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the LORD weigheth the spirits. Proverbs 16:2
God sees beyond the walls we put up around us and knows exactly what's on the inside. He is fully aware of how things inside us have gotten trampled, broken and bruised. We can put on a good front and make those walls look vibrant, but w…

Homemade Peanut Butter Bacon Dog Treats

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Ok, I need to admit what happened while I was making these peanut butter bacon puppy treats. I'm not proud of my weakness, my lack of self control. I almost feel like I've failed as a puppy mommy.

I gave Molly raw dough.

I know. I couldn't resist.

But I also assumed that if she liked the dough, she'd love the finished treats. She did, and she does. As if you couldn't tell by the look on her face.

Trust me, the face she gave me before I snuck her raw dough was much more pitiful. I have a feeling your puppies will love them as much as Molly does.

Ingredients:
1 egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 water
1 cup flour
1/2 cup quick oats
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup bacon bits

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until a stiff dough forms.

3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into rectangles, pinch the middles to look like a bow tie and transfer to…

King Solomon's Advice For Your Business

King Solomon was known as the wisest man who ever lived for a reason. His God-given understanding gave him the advantage in ruling the nation, making good decisions and profiting from his time and effort.

If part of your Bible study every day is to read a chapter of Solomon's proverbs, you may have already noticed the business advice he gives there. Whether you own a business, work for a corporation or have an online shop, God's word - especially the book of Proverbs - has everything you need to know about to succeed in the workforce.

Here are a few examples:

* Diligence in your work will bring rewards. Proverbs 21:5

* In contrast, laziness brings ... well ... not much. Proverbs 20:4

* Have a plan for the direction of your work. Proverbs 6:6-8

* With both coworkers and customers, think before you speak. Proverbs 29:20

* Lay aside your pride and ask for others' insight. Proverbs 15:22

* Look beyond the money to what's truly important about your work. Proverbs 13:7

* Nev…

Children's Book Themed Memory Game

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This was not the craft that I intended to share with you this week, but it is a fun and creative one. I have a stack of about 30 Little Golden Books in my craft room, and they keep calling my name. Books in general do that, but this call has been pretty strong. Because I finally had duplicate copies of one book, I was able to make a fun Memory game from them.

If you don't remember Memory (pun completely intended), you place all the cards face down and jumble them all up. Then you start flipping them over two at a time, trying to make matches. The object is to remember where each image is so you can pair them up and clear the table.

The supply list is fairly simple: cardboard, decorator paper, scissors, a ruler, a craft knife, scissors and adhesive.

The first step is to break down the books. There's a great tutorial for that here. You'll have two sets of inside pages and two loose covers.

Then cut 3-inch squares from the cardboard.

I had enough pages to make 24 cards, 12 f…

Words For Wednesday

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Stuffed Crescent Rolls Two More Ways

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Over the past few years, I have offered you several different ways to utilize crescent rolls:
Meatball crescents and s'mores crescents Wild blackberry crescents Italian chicken crescents
Today I have two more for you to try: taco crescents and chocolate peanut butter crescents. Grab two cans of crescent roll dough the next time you're at the grocery store so you can try them both!

For the taco crescents, I had some leftover cooked ground beef, so I added some tomato sauce and Mexican seasoning. I put a heaping spoonful of the meat mixture onto the wide end of the unrolled crescent, then covered it with a sprinkling of Mexican blend cheese.

They get rolled up and placed on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake as directed on the package.

While the dinner crescents were heating up, I used the other can of dough to make dessert crescents. A thick layer of your favorite peanut butter will hold the mini chips in place along the entire length of the unrolled dough.