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Words For Wednesday

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Stuffed Spinach Pizza

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When Danny makes something special in the kitchen - which is every time he cooks - I just have to share it with you. The rest of this post is from him. Enjoy!

This is an amazing dish and is as delicious as it looks! There is a lot of “wow” factor and yet very simple to make. No stranger to the kitchen, I came up with the idea because I love pizza but wanted something more than just crust and toppings. I suppose you could say it is inspired by Chicago-style pizza pies.  Sorry New York fans, hahaha!  So, lets get started, shall we?

Ingredients:
2 canned pizza crusts
1-2 lbs italian sausage ( I prefer hot, but you can use whatever flavor you like)
1 jar pizza sauce
fresh spinach
shredded mozzarella cheese
shredded parmesan cheese
minced garlic
coarse black pepper to taste
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.In a large skillet (I prefer cast iron) brown the Italian sausage and set aside.Place one of the pizza crusts in a 10” deep dish pan and spread on some pizza sauce. I use just enough to cov…

The Skeleton Of A Tree In Winter

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It may sound silly, but I love looking at trees. This is probably a good thing because two-thirds of our property is wooded land. While most of us would say fall is the best time for tree watching, we can see the skeleton of the trees best in the winter.

This tree, one we can see from the dining room bay window, has always been one of my favorites. It was perfectly symmetrical and full of bright green leaves - until a storm came through and took out the largest branch on the righthand side. I still love it, it just looks a little lopsided now.

Some of our trees drop their leaves completely before winter, while others hang on to them all year round. The squirrels hang out in this tree a lot, using the leaves for warmth and the seeds for a little extra nutrition.

Do you know how to tell if the nest you're seeing is a bird nest or a squirrel nest? For the most part, birds make their nests from twigs and other thin material, while squirrels use leaves. Go check out your trees and see…

You Know You're A Puppy Mama When You Say...

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A Great Dane and two 8-month-old puppies in the house. It's not even 8 a.m. and I've already said...

* Seriously? Stop! * Diesel Mac! Stop chewing on your sister's leg! * We just got back inside - you don't need to go again. * Please don't bring sticks in the house. * Molly, the babies aren't chairs. Don't sit on them!

* It's a squirrel, not a burglar! * Oh look, I walked through pools of water around the dog bowls again. * We should have purchased stock in carpet cleaner companies. We'd be rich. * Off the counter. I don't care how cute you are. * Callie Dee, your brother is not a chew toy!

* Stuffing goes INSIDE the pillows! * This is the living room, not a demolition derby course! * Come here. Come here. HERE! * Now that my shoulder is dislocated, will you stop pulling on the leash? * We have the best puppies in the whole wide world.

How To Clean Your House After Being Sick

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There is so much sickness going around our area right now - and it probably is where you live, too. Unfortunately, many people are just passing it back and forth between their family and coworkers. It would be nice if we could just shut down the whole state for a week, let everyone get their illness out of their system and then try it again.

But since we can't, let's talk instead about why it's so important to have our homes as germ-free as possible and what steps we can take to stop sickness in its tracks.

When someone in your family is sick, there are going to be germs and bacteria everywhere. Not a pretty picture, I know, but it puts the spotlight on how thoroughly you clean. Spreading this nasty stuff is so easy, and short of wearing a HASMAT suit, disinfecting every way you can is the best way to fight back.

So what are some simple, practical ways to keep germs at bay during and after a sickness?

1. Wash the bedding. This includes on the beds, the couch and anywhere …

Words For Wednesday - Valentine Edition

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Mixed And Matched Valentine's Day Treats

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Let's make this Valentine's Day one to remember by mixing and matching our sweet treats. All you need are a few baked goods in contrasting colors and a variety of your favorite decorations.  

Pull out a couple of heart shaped cookie cutters, then cut your cake in half. Cut a heart out of the top half and use frosting or jam to seal them back together. These strawberry cake hearts have strawberry jam between them and are filled with sprinkles.

You can do this with cupcakes, too. Slice the top off right at the wrapper line and use a tiny heart cookie cutter to make the opening. Cover the bottom cake with frosting and put them back together. Then you can fill them with sprinkles or colored sugar - the frosting will hold it in place.

My favorite mix and match is to use cookie cutters on both flavors of cake and swap out the parts. A little bit of frosting will seal them together and hold on any tiny hearts you want to put on top.

DIY Simple Valentine's Day Floral Arrangement

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Beautiful Valentine's decorations don't have to cost a lot to be special. Put together this love-inspired centerpiece with just a few dollar store items, and you'll have a piece you can use for years to come.

Start by filling a clear vase with white pebbles.

Then cut apart two or three bunches of silk flowers, arranging them from largest to smallest.

Evenly place the largest flowers on the bottom and in the corners, then layer up and top with jeweled, sequined or sparkling hearts.

When Is A Tennis Ball Not A Tennis Ball?

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When it's a tool to keep your dog from eating too fast!

While the girls are a little more delicate in their eating (as delicate as a Great Dane can be, I suppose), Diesel is like a vacuum cleaner. He doesn't even stop to breathe, let alone chew before he swallows.

It hasn't been a problem for him health-wise yet, but it definitely could be. Unchewed food can expand in a dog's belly and cause indigestion. This is definitely not good for the puppy or the person who has to clean up after him.

One way to slow down a dog's eating is to put a ball in the food bowl. When we do this with Diesel, he has to push the ball around to get to the food. It's not a perfect solution, but it definitely hinders him enough to make him slow down. Hopefully it will help in the long run. Plus, his sisters will come get the ball out when they're done eating so they can play with it. Food and fun!

What does feeding time at your house look like?

Coming Soon At Stuff From Trees

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We're so excited about the new handmade pen and greeting card sets we'll be releasing over the next few weeks! Here's just a sneak peek from our most recent kit order. 

Think about Mother's Day and all those spring birthdays.

And you don't need a special occasion to show your patriotism.

And you can share your faith in so many ways.

We create more than pens - try a stylus, teacher's set or one of our other hand-turned gifts. You'll be the first to know as each set is released, so check back often!

Decorate Your Guest Bathroom With Washcloth Flowers

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This beautiful flower fold was in our hotel room the last time we traveled, and I very carefully unfolded it to learn how the housekeeping staff made it. It's adorable, and I'm putting them in all of our bathrooms!

Fold in the middle of one side of the washcloth, keeping the points standing up.

Repeat on the opposite side.

Then fold down the top, spreading out the petals. 

 And bring the bottom up, fixing the petals. Add anything you'd like to the center: a silk flower, a mini bar of soap or some other travel-sized treat.

Words For Wednesday

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Turn An Old Box Into An Upcycled Basket

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I've been saving boxes in the garage for months to be able to make baskets out of them. I'm not sure why it took so long, but it's an adorable upcycing project and so easy to put together. Just make sure you have a ton of hot glue on hand before you start. You're going to need it.

I started by cutting off the box flaps.

A thinner rope is easier to keep in place with hot glue, but it also means you need more of it to wrap all the way to the top of the box. Keep this in mind before you begin.

I cut a piece of leftover fabric large enough to fit loosely inside the box and overlap the top. As you wrap and glue your rope, catch the edges of the fabric to hold it in place.

If possible, keep all your end pieces on the back of the box. It took two rolls of rope for me to wrap it completely, so my four ends are all on one side.

 My box is big enough to hold plenty of ... stuff! I'm excited to see what you'll fill your box-basket with.

Grape Sorbet

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Looking for a healthy alternative to ice cream? This simple fruity ice offers a sweet flavor with nothing else necessary. A little almond milk can be added as you're blending to turn it into a sherbet.

Put a bunch of grapes in a freezer-safe bag for 12-24 hours. You want them to be completely solid.

Then grab your blender and add the grapes a handful at a time. Many blenders can only handle a little bit of frozen slushy in the bottom before the blades stop working, so clean it out as necessary.

You may also find that a little bit of almond milk makes for a smoother texture and keeps it from clumping.

Blend and enjoy!

Teaching Children To Honor God

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As part of our Sunday School lesson series memorizing the books of the Bible, we spent one morning talking about honoring God. This was the easiest way I could think of to discuss the concepts in Leviticus with 10-, 11- and 12-year olds.

We started out talking about Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from the Genesis lesson we had two weeks before, and then how the 12 sons of Jacob became the 12 tribes of Israel. The family of Levi, the third son, became the priests of the tabernacle. Their job was to see to the spiritual needs of the nation and care for the tabernacle itself, so knowing how to honor God was their sole purpose in life. Our Sunday school students picked up on this so fast - it was amazing.

So then we had to discuss what honoring God means today. While they turned the black-and-white picture into stained glass with colored pencils, we read the list of definitions for honor and how God wants to be honored.

To honor God means:
* to believe in Him.
* to love Him.
* to worship Him.

Why We Love Bullriders Of America!

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Several years ago, I was working at the newspaper when we learned that Bullriders of America would be holding their year-end finals competition at the Bridge View Center. This city girl knew nothing about bullriding, except that there were bulls and riding involved, but I was the reporter chosen to cover the event. Little did I know that it would become one of my favorite times of the year.

I had to start with the basics of bullriding to be able to write about it coherently, so I spent three days talking with everyone I possibly could - riders, the barrelman, the secretary, judges, the announcer, the bullfighters, even the stock contractor. By the time I was done, I was hooked. Since then we have been to the finals competition almost every year, and it's an event we look forward to each time.

This weekend we were able to take two friends of ours with us, and we had so much fun. Twenty-five bull riders attempt to ride four different bulls, trying to earn enough points to become the…

30 Things To Get Rid Of In 30 Days

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Seriously, why do we keep some of the things we keep? I'm not talking about a junk drawer in the kitchen. I'm talking about ... stuff. Just plain stuff that we don't need.

What would happen if you were to take the next 30 days and do a purge through your entire house? Not some heavy-duty cleaning, just getting rid of 30 little things that you have absolutely no use for. And you might find some things you forgot you had. Or never knew you had. Or thought were gone forever. How much fun would that be?

Start with these 30 things to get rid of and see where it takes you.

1. Receipts that are more than a year old
2. Magazines that are more than a year old
3. Anything in the kitchen with an expired date
4. Expired coupons
5. Nail polish that you don't use or has gone bad
6. Covers for cell phones you don't even own anymore
7. Old, worn-out bed sheets
8. Pillows that are stained or flat
9. Towels that you can't get the musty smell out of
10. Shoes that are falling ap…

Why Is Sticking To An Exercise Plan So Difficult?

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2 Easy Tips For Healthy Living
6 Friendly Tips For Starting And Maintaining An Exercise Program
10 Ways To Stay Glued To Your Weight Loss Plan
12 Weeks To Change Your Life
14 Day Fitness Challenge
30 Days To The Body You Want

Apparently there are many other women who have difficulties sticking with an exercise routine, too. I will ashamedly admit that I am an on-again, off-again exerciser. I'll get angry about my health and weight, dive back into working out and then stop again after a few weeks. And then this ugly cycle repeats itself.

Does this sound like you? I know I'm not alone in this. The headlines above prove it.

Why is it so difficult for us to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Here are just a handful of popular reasons:

— Lack of motivation
— Lack of results
— Lack of support
— Lack of information
— Lack of self-control

How do you combat issues like these that seem so insurmountable?

1. Pray for strength and determination. It definitely won't come from digging down …

Words For Wednesday

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Beginning Our Sunday School Bible Timeline

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The newest accent piece in our Sunday School room isn't furniture or even new paint. It's a long piece of newsprint running the entire length of the far wall. As we study our way through the books of the Bible, we need a way to help all of us remember the most important parts of each one. Adding our own pictures to the timeline is helping all of us be an active part of the lesson.

I've never seen kids so excited to draw on the wall.
Want to make your own Bible timeline? Break down each book into three or four main themes or parts. Talk about each one, showing the students from Scripture where each one happened and why it is important enough to include.

Then comes the fun part. Give each child crayons, colored pencils or markers and let them add their own illustrations to the story. (We're using markers, only because we'll be repainting the room in the next few months. Also, newsprint is a little thicker and doesn't bleed through quite as much. Keep this in min…

Strawberry Streusel Banana Bread

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Overly ripe bananas? Check. Beautiful red strawberries? Got them. A well-stocked pantry for the baking essentials? Yep.

That's all you need to make a moist, decadent strawberry banana bread that's absolutely delicious. Be prepared, though. You might need to make more than one loaf!

Bread ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk

Streusel ingredients:
1/4 cup flour
1/8 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 5x9 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt.

3. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, butter, buttermilk, vanilla, egg and egg yolk.

4. Add milk mixture to dry ingredients, stirring until combined.

5. Add strawberries and bananas.

6. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

7. For streusel topping, mix flour, sugar and salt. Cut in the softened butter until large crumbs form.