Showing posts from 2018

Words For Wednesday


Iowa: Where Even The Weeds Are Pretty

Despite the heat and humidity, it's a beautiful time to be in Iowa. Here's just a sampling of what's growing wild on the property in early August.

Guest Post: I'd Rather Have Jesus...

My mother-in-love has a wonderful and unique opportunity in her life as God lays out a new path for her. After more than two decades as an Army officer's wife and almost 20 years as missionaries to Mongolia, she is now in another phase of her journey with the Lord. Here is her story. Have your Bible handy.
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ ... I press on toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ. Philippians 3:8,14
My honey and I are in preparations of starting on a new journey/adventure of the Lord's direction. It will mean starting over again in a new location (wherever He leads us), new home (whatever He provides) and getting rid of "stuff" (another way to say "down-sizing"). The Lord put me in remembrance of the Pilgrims leaving their "every-things&…

What To Do With Your Garden When You Hate To Weed

I finally figured out what to do with our corner garden space. This little plot of ground has been the bane of my existence since we moved in, and I'm not exaggerating. Weeding is my least favorite thing in the whole wide world, so the prettiness never lasted and there was little to show for my hard work. This beautiful rock garden is now my perfect solution.

Part of the problem was that I planted a package of wildflower seeds in it three or four years ago. This was a huge mistake. It was impossible to keep it looking healthy, and it was mostly green blades of weeds. So this is what it looked like a week ago.

After I pulled everything out and turned up the dirt, I put down a thick layer of newspaper. The "experts" say that this will block the weeds from coming up and will decompose over a matter of time. I'm interested to see how well this works.

New, fresh dirt. I'm not sure that's the technical way to say it, but that's what it is. The dirt already the…

Words For Wednesday


Lessons From The Fiery Furnace

For the past several months we've been walking our junior Sunday school class through the books of the Bible. It's been a fun challenge to create lessons for third- through sixth-graders, presenting topics that we don't always understand as adults.

This week we started our lesson on the book of Daniel, beginning with the boys standing up for God's choice of what they would eat and drink, and moving on to the fiery furnace. We had prepared Daniel in the den of lions, too, but that will have to wait until next week.

I've found that I study topics more deeply when I'm going to be teaching them to young people. We have upper elementary students on Sunday mornings and teenagers during the week, and they all ask probing, challenging questions. So, to not look like a fool, I try my best to anticipate what they might ask, although they have a habit of surprising me.

There were two major points from the story of the Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace that we wanted them …

The Best Chocolate Glaze Ever

Want a chocolate glaze that you can put on absolutely everything?

Want a chocolate glaze that hardens a little after you spread it on?

Want a chocolate glaze that you can easily change to be thick or not so thick?

Me too. That's why I created this one.

With four simple ingredients and a little water, you'll be glazing everything in sight. I'll leave the details on that up to you.

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
5/8 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup water (though you may not use that much)

1. Whisk powdered sugar and cocoa powder together in a large bowl.

2. Add in corn syrup and vanilla, mixing thoroughly.

3. Pour in water, a little at a time, until the glaze is your desired consistency.

4. Dip, spread or drizzle this amazing glaze. Store any leftovers (yeah, right...) in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Mama Deer's Happy, Healthy Fawn

Several weeks ago, Danny noticed that one of our does had broken her front leg. She had a fawn at the time, but we assumed neither one of them would make it if she was injured. Today we were proven wrong when they were both at the pond to cool off.

The fawn is in amazingly good shape, which is such a blessing to my heart. She's healthy and alert, completely aware of me when I quietly moved outside to take her picture.

We affectionately call our property the Carrell Wildlife Preserve, and today I feel like we've lived up to that. This doe kept her baby here, knowing that they would be safe. Now this baby girl will have the opportunity to grow up healthy and strong and find a mate of her own. It's exciting to think that she may come back in a couple of years with a fawn of her own.

Yes, We Make Our Own Dog Food

It all started with a Facebook post that someone found metal shavings in their dog's food. It was a popular brand-name bagged food, and the pictures were scary. I took a minute to look at our food supply, and I found one piece that had metal in it, like a thick hair but hard and sharp.

The consequences of this contaminated food were eye-opening, too. The metal was tearing up the dogs' digestive tracks, sometimes to the point of bleeding to death. There was no way we would expose the dogs to something this dangerous, so we made the immediate decision to stop giving them this food and make our own.

With three big dogs, buying in bulk is mandatory. For one batch of food that lasts more than a week, I combine a 28-ounce bag of mixed vegetables, a 5-pound bag of chicken (that I grind in our food processor), a bag of fresh lettuce or spinach and about 5 cups of cooked brown rice. This balances out their nutritional needs, and I can store it in the refrigerator or freezer, thawing a…

How To Be The Perfect Craft Show Shopper

Hopefully you're going to be attending a local arts and crafts show sometime in the upcoming weeks. From July to November is generally considered the busiest time of your from artists, crafters and vendors, and we'd love to have you come visit us!

Do you have what it takes to be the kind of craft show shopper sellers like? (Say that five times fast...) Do you want to make a positive impact on those of us putting our hearts out there on those tables? Here's how.

1. Come ready to talk, not just shop. We all have a story about why we do what we do, and we'd love to share it with you. Engage the sellers by asking about a certain piece, how long it takes to make something or what their favorite styles or techniques are. Buyers who glance around the table and walk on are pretty boring.

2. Come ready to shop, not just talk. How can I put this? We're not a museum. We're not a reading room. What we are is the perfect place to buy local, handmade gifts for your family, …

What Is Your T-shirt Advertising?

Danny and I love to people watch. Sometimes it's fun to just sit and watch the people go by. Places like airports, restaurants, malls and any outdoor venue offer up thousands of people to watch from afar. You're not judging or making fun; you're just noticing and talking about things.

When we did this at our recent craft show, it struck me how many people wore shirts that said something. They were all advertising in one way or another, whether it was intentional or not.

Think about all the shirts out there:

* sports teams
* your hometown
* a school activity
* a community event
* a company logo
* civic groups
* a place you've visited
* favorite animals
* music groups

And there are many more that I could have listed. So every person that walked past was wearing a shirt that advertised their own life - who they like, who they support, who they work for. You get the idea.

But my absolute favorite was a teenage girl's. it simply read: It's not religion. I'm for…

Words For Wednesday


Peaches And Cream Shakes

Peach is one of my all-time favorite flavors, so for my birthday this weekend, Danny made peaches and cream shakes. He always creates the best combinations of ingredients, and I could probably drink a gallon of this one.

Hey, it's my birthday. I'll drink as many shakes as I want. Or as many as Danny makes.

Here's how he did it:

vanilla ice cream
1 large ripe peach, chopped into small pieces
sweetened condensed milk
whipped cream

1. Combine ice cream, peach, milk and sweetened condensed milk in the blender and mix until smooth and combined. I wish there was some magical ratio to Danny's formula, but there really isn't. His advice is to start with three scoops of ice cream and add the two milks slowly until you get the consistency you like.

2. Pour into tall glass and garnish with whipped cream and cherries.

If you'd like something other than sweetened condensed milk, you can also make sugar peaches to use in your shake. Cut the peach …

A Year Of Grace

Last night at 6:10 p.m., I turned 41. I praise God for the blessings of the past year, and I thank Him for protecting me and loving me beyond measure. I am humbled by all He has done for me and continues do to through me.

As my birthday approached, I asked God to give me a word to study for the upcoming year, from now until July 29, 2019. The word that kept resonating in my heart was grace.

There are 159 verses containing the word grace, and the majority of them are in the New Testament. Grace is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. This terribly long and complicated definition requires more study, and I'm looking forward to diving right in.

But he giveth more grace... James 4:6

What do I hope to learn from this study?
* What grace is and how God uses it.
* How God's grace has affected and changed me.
* Why grace is such an important scriptural focus.
* When grace is most obvious in my life.
* …

Happy Birthday To Me!


Thank You For Supporting Stuff From Trees!

We just had to thank everyone who attended the Oskaloosa Sweet Corn Serenade last night. It was an amazing event, and we were blessed to be a part of it.

In addition to the friends and church family who stopped to see us at our booth, we met so many new people, making new friends and customers along the way. Sharing our personal and professional testimonies is the most important and biggest blessing we have through Stuff From Trees.

And the fun continues as we complete our new custom orders and add some customer-requested items to our upcoming displays.

Our next show will be Ottumwa's Walk On Art Street on Sept. 15. More details will come as the day gets closer, to check back frequently!

Again, thank you. We are blessed by your love and support.

Our Little Backyard Miracle

Praise the Lord that our part of town wasn't in the path of the terrible storms yesterday. We had tornado sirens and strong thunderstorms for the better part of an hour, but we were blessed with almost no damage.

Other people in the area weren't so fortunate, and we keep them in our thoughts and prayers during the recovery and clean-up efforts.

The bright spot here on the property was a tiny baby rainbow in the backyard. The sun came out in the middle of the torrential downpour, and a half-circle rainbow went right over the grape vines. Hopefully you can see it here, though pictures don't do it justice. It was just a little promise from God that everything is going to be ok. Thank you, Lord!

Words For Wednesday


Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

Sheet pan meals are the best, and these chicken fajitas are incredibly tasty. Plus ... next-to-no cleanup! Mix up your own combination of spices so it's as spicy - or not spicy - as you want.

When you go to the store to stock up on ingredients for this great recipe, look for traffic light peppers: red, yellow and green all in one package. The store will often pick the best quality veggies to put in these combinations, choosing pretty and fresh peppers together for simple prep.

2 lbs chicken breast, cut into strips
traffic light peppers - red, yellow and green - cut into thin strips
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis, drained
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
fresh ground pepper to taste
salt to taste
tortillas, warmed for a few seconds

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

2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat. Pour mixture onto prepared sheet pan.

3. Bake …

String Art Tree Slice Ornament DIY

I absolutely adore the newest line from Stuff From Trees - tree slice string art! (Say that five times fast.) They're a blast to make, and this small size makes them perfect for gifts. And you'll probably want a set for yourself, too.

I used the band saw to cut slices from a medium-sized branch, the belt sander to smooth both sides a little and the drill press to make the holes for the twine. Having the right tools makes a huge difference in efficiency and productivity. Plus, I just really like using power tools.

Using a shape template, I marked tiny dots where I wanted each nail. 

Then, with a pair of pliers to hold the nails, I used a small hammer to set them. For an inch-thick tree slice, I chose 3/4-inch wire nails. When they're that tiny, pliers protect your fingers from getting smashed. Huge bonus.

With six-strand embroidery floss, I tied a knot around the bottom nail.

There are a couple of different ways to outline the shape with thread - either run it along the un…

Praise Ye The Lord!

For a musician, very few scriptures resonate as clearly as Psalm 150. Throughout the Psalms, the writers have played the same melody: praise to the Lord. In every situation, in all voices, at every occasion, praising God is always appropriate and vitally necessary.

Our omnipotent God is to be praised in His sanctuary - in the tabernacle, in the temple and in the church building. This is where we find the foundation of His power. He is to be praised among the congregation of believers at every opportunity. This includes singers and musicians, but it should also encourage testimonies, teaching and times of public prayer.

Our omniscient God should be praised for knowing exactly what we need every moment of our lives. We look behind us and see His hand at work in our past. We rejoice in the way He moves in our present. And we praise Him now for the excellent greatness in His future plans for us.

As the psalmist mentions specific instruments, those of us involved in music ministry can hea…

The Blessings Of Rain

After several days of oppressively hot temperatures with intense humidity, it finally rained in southern Iowa. It lasted most of the afternoon, and you could practically hear the ground slurping it up. 
Think about your reactions the last time you woke up to a thunderstorm or were disappointed because an event was canceled due to rain. Did you think about how important rain is and the blessings it brings?
* As human beings, we need a fresh water source to sustain life. Water flushes our bodies of toxins, and hydration keeps our energy up while transporting oxygen and nutrients through the body.
* All living, growing plants on earth require rain. It is absorbed through the roots and dispersed to the stems and leaves. Without healthy plants, we would have no oxygen to breathe.
* Rain affects the oceans by creating currents. Many of these currents are directly responsible for rainy and dry weather conditions.
* Both domestic animals and livestock need fresh water, just as humans do. A lack of…

God Reigns And The Son Shines Church Bulletin Board DIY

I absolutely adore decorating our church bulletin boards. I try to plan ideas for each season, plus designs for specific scriptures. This one, our board for the summer months, is one of my favorites.

The easiest backgrounds for a bulletin board are plastic tablecloths and wrapping paper. Both come in a variety of colors and patterns, and they're easy to staple in place. This is a white tablecloth folded in half.

Between my downstairs closet and the teacher resource room at the church, I can always find some beautiful borders. In an instance where you need a thicker border, you can overlap them the way I did here on the sides. 

The letters are printed from the computer and hand-cut. Arranging them is always the hardest part of the board for me because I have absolutely no depth perception. Tacking them up with double stick tape before stapling or pinning them on makes rearranging them much easier.

To attach the flowers, I use long yellow sewing pins. (And to my sweet friend who kn…