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Words For Wednesday

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Mini Tags Wood-Burning Project

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In an effort to put some old craft supplies to use, I spent an entire morning playing with these wood tags. The words are wood-burned, they're decorated with beautiful colors and tied up with baker's twine.


It's been at least two years since I found these wood tags at Dutchman's. They're designed to be embellishments for canning jars, when you give them as a gift. That's not what popped into my head when I saw them, though. I see them as gift tags and ornaments.

I started by measuring the center of each tag and printing off words to fit in them. Then I transferred the writing to the wood with carbon paper. Yep...it's pretty old school.

I'm not as talented with the wood burning tool as Danny is, but I was so pleased with the results.

And since I wasn't in the mood to paint, I decorated them with permanent markers. If you'd like to see them for yourself, or have some made just for you, Stuff From Trees will have five arts and crafts shows in five…

Three-Ingredient Peanut Butter Squares

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Why buy expensive boxes of granola bars that probably have ingredients you can't pronounce? Instead, try this three-ingredient recipe - which contains things you probably have on hand right now - and feel good about what you're putting in your body.

Ingredients:
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
2 1/2 cups oats

1. Pour honey into a large microwave-safe bowl, then scoop in the peanut butter.

2. Heat the mixture in the microwave for about 60 seconds. It should be smooth and creamy once you stir it.

3. While the microwave is going, line an 8x8-inch baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick spray.

4. Add oats to the large bowl and combine thoroughly.

5. Immediately pour into the prepared dish. Refrigerate for an hour or until completely cool. Cut into bars or squares.

Keeping Your Eye Gates Pure And Clean

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Everything that comes through your eyes goes directly to your brain. Once there, you are able to think about it, meditate on it, bring it back up any time you want. So today I have two questions for you: What are your eyes sending to your brain every day, and what are you putting in front of them and allowing them to send?

We live in a society that is addicted to information - newspapers, television, magazines, books, the Internet - and it creates an overload to our system. It's like our brains are stalled in rush hour traffic all the time because there is so much going on around and inside of them.


What do you remember most from all the information you've absorbed this week? Can you name all the scandals in our government? Are you caught up on all the family news? Have you memorized the sports scores? Did you do lots of puzzles and games? Or can you remember the Scripture you read during your morning devotions? Whatever we spend the most careful time to soak up sticks in our m…

Prevent Heat Illness In Your Puppies

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Whether you have indoor or outdoor dogs, they're going to spend some time in the heat this summer. But before you have puppies suffering from heat stress, here are a few ways to prevent a problem before it happens.

* Look for the early signs of heat exhaustion: excessive drooling, increased heart rate, even lack of coordination. Personality changes can also happen.

* Have water readily available. Dogs don't sweat, and panting can leave them parched. A small bowl of fresh water - or an extra large bowl if you have a Great Dane like we do - will really hit the spot.

* Never leave your puppies in the car during the summer months. You've probably seen all the videos of how quickly the inside of a vehicle reaches more than 100 degrees. Just don't do it.

* If you're too hot, they are too. If the pavement is too hot for your feet, it's too hot for theirs. If direct sun is too much for your skin, it's too much for them too. Use some common sense.

* Work in more re…

Saving Time, Energy And Money At The Grocery Store

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One of my favorite times of the week is when I head to the grocery store. Some peoplefind it tedious and time-consuming, but I love being able to scan the aisles and find new and interesting food choices. Wouldn't it be fabulous if we could not only save time and energy when we go to the supermarket, but save some money, too?

The Bible says it is wise to be conscientious of your finances and take steps to be careful with all your earnings. This includes how you spend your money and what you spend it on.

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? Proverbs 27:23-24

Here's one way I've found to tackle the grocery store that only takes a little pre-planning. Any little changes we can make in how we use our money will be honoring in God's eyes, so let's start with how we buy food for our families.

The next time you go to the grocery store, take a piece of paper wit…

What's Powering You?

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One of the things Iowa is known for is its windmill farms. You can find the large, silver windmills dotting the landscape all along many of the state’s rural roads. The old wooden windmills seem like ancient relics in comparison.
It’s also neat to see them being transported down the highway to their new homes. Each blade is strapped to an oversized semi-truck trailer bed. And there is almost always a three-truck caravan coming down the road, so we always look ahead to see if we can see all of them.
Wind power is one of those natural energies that will never run out. As long as we have windy days, we’ll have this amazing source of power to harness. Our ancestors saw its usefulness on their farms, and technology has come up with even more efficient ways to use that power.
All thy works shall praise thee, O LORD; and thy saints shall bless thee. They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and talk of thy power; To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of …

Words For Wednesday

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Pecan Pie Fudge

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I’ve made fudge with chocolate and peanut butter. I’ve made fudge with peanuts and marshmallows.  I’ve made fudge with caramel macchiato candy corns. I’ve made fudge with eggnog and cinnamon. And now I’ve made fudge with heavy cream and pecans. This one is pretty amazing.
Ingredients: 1 stick butter, cubed 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup heavy cream dash of salt 1 tsp vanilla 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted 1 cup chopped pecans (or more to taste)
1. Line an 8x8 inch baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick spray.
2. In a large saucepan, bring butter, sugar, brown sugar, cream and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly so the bottom won’t burn. Without stirring any more, heat until a candy thermometer reaches soft ball stage (234 degrees). 
3. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool until the candy thermometer drops to 110 degrees. 
4. Stir the fudge while adding in the powdered sugar. Add nuts and combine completely.
5. Spread fudge into prepared dish. If it is too wet…

Heavy Traffic - What To Do And What Not To Do

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Two hours in downtown Chicago traffic at rush hour makes me appreciate the rush couple of minutes in Ottumwa. Small-town speed is much more my style.

As we drove through - I should say as we crawled through - we didn't talk much or look around much. Danny was more concerned with paying attention to the other drivers than with small talk.

We also didn't have music playing or the radio on. There were too many cars darting in and out that we had to look out for. It also meant no cell phones or other screens. Any distractions would have been disastrous. 

The funniest part, though, was the idea of "express lanes." The concept is that cars not pulling off soon can get in the far left lane, hurry down to the side and come back in when they need to. Unfortunately, this means another entrance ramp to slow everyone down. Weird.

There were so many accidents on the side of the highway - we were shocked, but not really. Paying attention to everyone around us was a full-time job,…

Words For Wednesday

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I Don't Have A Sister, But I Love This Sign

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As part of a custom order this week (we LOVE special orders, by the way), I made this beautiful wood sign. With the help of my very wonderful friend Joy, we turned an ordinary piece of board into a treasured gift. And that's what Stuff From Trees is all about.
I started by whitewashing the board and letting it dry overnight. To whitewash, just paint the board with white paint and then immediately wipe it off with a rag or paper towel. The board will have already soaked up some of the paint, so you'll be left with a light, wispy color.

Joy's amazing knowledge of how to set up phrases and images on the Silhouette made this project so much fun. We were able to mix and match fonts and colors of vinyl to give the sign the bright colors it needed.

I'm creatively adventurous, so I convinced Joy that we could transfer the vinyl from the cutter to the board in one big piece. Using the stickiest transfer paper we could find and lots of whispered prayers, we took the entire layo…

Life On The Property Before The Rains Came

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We've had a beautiful, hot week - right up until the rain started this morning! It was a great few days to get out on the property to get some work done, and to enjoy some relaxation, too.

The baby birds are growing by leaps and bounds. They're starting to go from fuzz to feathers, and I love those bright yellow beaks. 

This little guy is my favorite. I have named him George, even though I can't love him and squeeze him. Every time we go to the big garage, he hangs his head over the edge to watch us.

We got in several hours of fishing Thursday evening. Danny had already caught several before I got down to the big pond. Some of us have to work, you know!

I caught one on my first cast, and I quit keeping track after seven. Many of the fish we caught still had eggs, so it was a catch-and-release kind of day.

And, unfortunately, I had a close encounter with a burrowing spider. If you enlarge the photo, you'll see him on the right side of the burrow entrance. We made a pac…

Frozen Carrots As A Summertime Dog Treat

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Ready for a fun summer with your dogs? Throw a bag of mini carrots in the freezer, and you definitely will be! This is our puppies' favorite way to cool off after being out in the hot summer sun.

As if you needed more proof, this is Molly having a stare-down with the bag of frozen carrots. If she looks at it long enough, it might fall onto the floor so she can have it. Maybe.

Love Your Cat? You'll Love This Little Golden Book Album!

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It is absolutely thrilling for me to share this album with you today. It's been a labor of love (even though I'm a dog person) that took several days to complete. 

In case you aren't familiar with this Little Golden Book, it's the story of a mama farm cat who has a litter of four kittens. Each one has to find out which kind of cat it's going to be when it grows up.

When I tear down a book, I save all of the original illustrations and turn them into something new and different. In this album, for example, I only tack down three of the four sides of each picture so a tag can be slipped underneath. Here, the brown tag slides between the illustration and the page like an envelope.

The fibers on the tags then stick out the side for a beautiful rainbow of colors and textures.

 The embellishments are all punched from coordinating papers, and there is a paw print on every page. They're accented with tiny acrylic dots.

Perhaps my favorite pages of the album are the on…

Words For Wednesday

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Baked Panko Shrimp

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Love the crunch that fried shrimp have but hate the grease? Try baking them and see if your mood improves!

Set up a simple breading station with panko bread crumbs and you'll create the most addictive shrimp ever. You have been warned.

Ingredients:
1 bag (12-14 oz) raw large shrimp - peeled, deveined and tail off, thawed
1 cup flour
salt to taste
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and lightly spray with nonstick spray.

2. Set up a three-bowl breading station: one with the flour, one with the egg whites whipped until foamy and one with the bread crumbs.

3. Coat shrimp in flour, then egg whites, then bread crumbs and place on baking sheet. Keep one hand for wet ingredients and the other hand for dry ingredients.

4. Bake coated shrimp at 475 degrees for 7-8 minutes. Flip them all and bake for an additional 5-6 minutes. Bread crumbs will become golden brown - remove from the oven before they blacken.

On This Memorial Day

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If God Is All You Have, You Have All You Need

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We all have a difficult time admitting that we’re incapable of something. We want to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, which makes us self-absorbed. We’re convinced that we should be able to take care of everything ourselves with no interference. That’s what society has taught us, and that’s the conclusion we come to when pride gets in our way.
And if we’re not capable, then there must be something wrong with us. Or so we’re told. Just dig deeper, try harder and reap the rewards. Do more. Think more. Have more. Just a little more of something and everything will be ok.
Unfortunately that’s not how it works. Here’s the monumental news you’ve been waiting for: there are many, many times when you are not enough. I am not enough. None of us are “enough” enough to do what needs to be done. Reality hurts sometimes, doesn’t it?
I have a problem in my life right now that I cannot change. It is deep, it is personal and it is incredibly painful. There is nothing I can do to fix it or make it ri…

Bring On The Baby Birds!

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It's that amazing time of year when the nests on the property are filled with baby birds. Our favorite, by far, is the nest a mama wren built on top of our driveway security light. She comes back every year and has babies there twice.

We saw the eggs on Wednesday night, and by Thursday morning there was one sweet baby in there.

On Friday morning two more had made an appearance. At this point, it's hard to tell where one begins and another ends.

And this morning Baby #4 made its appearance. Now there is an adorable pile of fluff in the nest, just waiting for Mama to come back and love on them. I can't wait to see them grow up and fly on their own. But one step at a time!

Need A Cell Phone Stand In A Hurry? Try This.

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While we were at the IFDA convention last week, in a seminar about a completely different topic, I learned this amazing trick. Very few of us carry a tripod around to hold our phones steady while we take pictures ... right? Grab a plastic cup, and you're good to go!

Turn the cup upside down to start with. Using a pair of scissors, cut two triangle-shaped notches about a third of the way down on either side of the cup. Then connect the two by cutting out the strip of plastic across the bottom. This gives you a trough through the cup to put your phone in. It also leaves the buttons free to use and lets you see exactly what you're documenting.

Love this! The possibilities are endless when you're by yourself and need an extra set of hands to take pictures or video.

A Graduation Gift Explosion Box

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One of my favorite people is having her graduation party this weekend, and I have a very special gift to give her. This explosion box is filled with pictures from her graduation ceremony and the people she loves. I can't wait to give it to her!

 Explosion boxes are scrapbooks in a box. The lid keeps the 12 pages in place, along with a fun surprise in the middle - this time a fluffy bow in her high school colors. For my directions on how to make an explosion box, click here.

I arranged the photos in Pages and sized them 1/4 inch smaller than the pages they were made for. So for example, the pictures for the 3-inch square pages are sized to 2 3/4 inches square. Then I printed them on white card stock and cut them out, attaching them with double-stick tape.

Now she will have 12 photos in her explosion box, and the backs of the eight inner pages are blank so she can add more. 
What fun ways and occasions can you picture for an explosion box of your own?