Showing posts from January, 2018

Words For Wednesday


Beginning Our Sunday School Bible Timeline

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

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.

Enjoying The Break Of Dawn

One of the best parts of getting up early in the morning is to experience that one special moment when the darkness of night breaks into daylight. It's something I missed for a very long time because it was easier to stay in bed and let the morning just happen.

Being intentional about greeting the morning has become very special to me. I'm able to do some extra reading, spend time with Danny before he goes to work and get the puppies outside and fed - all before breakfast! My quiet time is truly that because I'm not in a rush to make up for lost time.

And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives. And all the people came early int he morning to him in the temple, for to hear him. Luke 21:37-38

I don't know what Luke considers early, but I do know the excitement of hearing what the Lord has to say. While I cannot be in the temple with Him while He teaches, I can sit in the early mor…

When Puppies Take An Afternoon Nap

The puppies' safe place is in their crate. We leave the door open so they can come and go as they please, and they've been known to nap there briefly before coming back out.

Both little dogs love the heat that comes out of the floor vents all over the house. It doesn't matter if it's on the hard wood floors or on the carpet.

On very rare occasion, Molly will let the babies sleep near her. This isn't quite what she had in mind, though, and she is quick to let them know where her personal bubble is.

Diesel is happiest in Danny's chair, where he snores like a chainsaw.

And Callie naps best when she's touching somebody. Or draped over somebody. Or cuddling up with somebody. Or pinning somebody to the chair.

The best times, though, are when they're all snuggled together as a pack. It doesn't matter if it's not really comfortable. It's all about being in the same 2-square-foot space for a while to recharge their batteries.

Facebook Posts To Ramp Up Your Business

For those of us with our own businesses, we rarely have a social media guru on staff. (Or staff at all, honestly.) That means all of our marketing content is our own responsibility. And while this is fun for a while, after a while we've used up all our great ideas and are desperate for more.

Here are a few tried-and-true posts that will get you through the brain overload times:

* Questions - like what's your favorite item you've purchased from us? What's your favorite new line we released? What would you like to see more of?

* Links to more information - a site with instructional videos, a supplier you use frequently, a website that makes you smile.

* Photos - your workspace, your pets helping you relax after work, a new technique you're trying. Anything except what you made for lunch. No one wants to see that.

* Links to your website or blog - super important if you're selling online.

* Testimonials from past customers - ask repeat customers to write a few se…

Seven Benefits Of Having A Clean House

Yes, it's a hassle to get out all of your cleaning supplies. Yes, it's a chore to scrub and dust and vacuum. And yes, it's probably the last thing you want to add to your already-busy schedule.

So why, after pointing out all these pains, would you be motivated to clean? Here are just a few reasons:

1. Removing all that dust, dander, bacteria and other nasty stuff will help your family be healthier.

2. A clean, uncluttered house translates to a clean, uncluttered mind.

3. You'll be more willing to open your home to guests because there's nothing to hide.

4. Clean, good-conditioned appliances, carpets and furniture work better and last longer.

5. Your body will (eventually) thank you for the physical activity.

6. Your brain will benefit from the sense of accomplishment each task brings.

7. This good habit can lead to a multitude of other new habits, changing the way you, think, act and live.

Words For Wednesday


Your Use Of Scripture Definitely Affects Others

As we walked into the restaurant, the black letters on the white board caught my eye immediately. The writing wasn't huge, taking up only a fraction of the available space, but the size didn't matter. The words went from my eyes to my brain to my heart.

I've been struggling with a couple of things lately - nothing big, just situations I'm unsure about. So when this verse from Isaiah showed up unexpectedly, it instantly calmed me.

God, speaking through His prophet Isaiah, reminded His people that they had never been abandoned and they never would be. Waters, rivers, fires and anything else they faced could never tear them away from the side of their Creator and Lord. In the King James, the details are even more powerful.

When thou passes through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. Isaiah 43:2

What truly blesses my hea…

A Simple Southern Pecan Pie

Who knew that one tiny ingredient change could turn a good recipe into a great one? Well, I do now. I read a suggestion the other day of making pecan pie with dark corn syrup instead of light corn syrup, and I knew I wanted to try it. The result is a richer, fuller flavor that compliments the pecans so well. Give it a try and see if you agree.

1 9-inch frozen pie crust
2 cups pecan halves
3 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Place the pie crust on a baking sheet and fill the bottom with pecans.

3. Combine eggs, sugar, butter, corn syrup, cinnamon and vanilla in a medium bowl until light and fluffy.

4. Pour the mixture into the pie crust, completely covering the pecans.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes, checking the crust at about the 20-minute mark. If necessary, wrap the edges of the crust in foil to keep them from burning.

Why Our Sunday School Class Takes Sermon Notes

On the very first day we started teaching our Sunday school class of 4-6th graders, we taught them how to take sermon notes. This was something new for all of them, and they were a little intimidated. But what a wonderful learning opportunity it has been for them and for us.

We've been convicted of several reasons our youth need to be paying attention during the service:

* They need to be attentive in the sanctuary.
* They need to hear the preaching, whether they understand it all or not.
* If they pay attention in church, they'll be able to pay attention other places, too.
* They will learn lots of new words.
* They won't be afraid to ask questions about things they don't understand.
* They are spending time with adults, which offers a multitude of benefits to young hearts and minds.

Taking notes during the sermon can be difficult even for adults, but imagine being 10 years old and now sitting in the congregation instead of going downstairs for children's church.…

Eagles Take Flight

Wapello County is one of 86 counties in Iowa where bald eagles can be found. These beautiful birds are protected under the Endangered Species Act, so no one is to touch them, provoke them or move them, especially when they are on their nests.

Bald eagles are prevalent in the state during the winter months, particularly in places with flowing water so they can find fish. It's a joy for us to have ponds here on the property because we get to see them quite often. The ponds flow into the creek, so there is a constant source of food for them here.

Here are just a few neat facts about bald eagles:

* They live 20-30 years and mate for life.

* They fly south from Canada for the winter, arriving in Iowa in September. They grow in numbers until January.

* They roost close to their food source, returning to the same places year after year.

* Their nests are added to each year and can be as large as 7 feet wide and 10 feet deep.

* They cannot tolerate human contact of any kind while nesting …

Save Money On Your Manicure - Try Decals!

When the Alabama football season began in the fall, I decided to do something I'd never done before to support my team. I found nail decals with several of the Alabama logos at AMnails. It was so much fun to do my own combinations of colors and images, saving tons of money in the process.

From there, I decided to try some other designs. My Christmas presents to myself were three more sets of decals - Christmas, silver swirls and snowflakes - from MissManiPediNailArt. I didn't realize that I loved mixing and matching nail colors and designs, so it's a fascinating experiment.

Never tried nail decals before? Here are a few tips to get you started:

* Choose dark polish colors to use with white and light decals. Just the opposite for light polish and dark decals.

* Play around with a couple of nails with decals and the rest with a second color of polish.

* Read the instructions that come with your decals carefully. Some need water to release the adhesive, others don't.

* M…

Twinkle Lights Brighten My Night

Most of our Christmas decorations are down now. Yes, it's a month past the holiday - don't judge me. All that remains are the outdoor decorations, and some of them are frozen into the ground. I should have pulled the stakes when it was 60 degrees last week. Oh well.

One thing won't becoming down, and that's our moving light show. Many people in town had them going on their houses during the holidays, but we did something a little different. We turned the machine away from the house and have it shining on two big trees in the driveway.

It's a magical display, and I love taking the puppies outside at night just to see it up close. You can see them from the dining room and kitchen windows, but there's something special about standing right underneath them.

And I can't help but think of John's comment: And the light shineth in darkness; John 1:5

A laser light show is breathtaking, but even more so is the light of Christ. This true Light lit up the world ar…

Words For Wednesday


My Newest Altered Little Golden Book Albums

Now that many of our recent projects have been given as Christmas presents, we're finally able to share them with you and not give away any secret presents. I had the honor of making three altered Little Golden Book albums for a friend - one for Mommy, one for a new baby and one for grandparents. Each is one-of-a-kind and just waiting to be filled with favorite pictures. 

Each book alternates pages from the original book and spaces for photos and journaling.

The large blocks are only tacked down on three sides so tags for more photos and more journaling can be tucked inside the pockets.

I'm so glad I had these books on hand to turn into some special gifts. Now I can begin work on the next one - and I only have about 130 to choose from! Oh, the possibilities.

Cinnamon Roll Fruit Cups

When I came across a two-ingredient recipe for this yummy dessert, I had to give it a try. How can you combine cinnamon rolls and candied fruit without creating something tasty? The answer is: you can't.

All you need are two cans of refrigerator cinnamon rolls and a can or two of pie filling. When we made them at our last teen girls Bible study, we used strawberry and apple pie filling. (It's also fun to get creative with the leftover pie filling. Danny added some of the apple to his morning oatmeal with brown sugar and evaporated milk.)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray muffin tins with nonstick spray. Then press each cinnamon roll into a cavity, making sure it goes as far up the sides as possible. A spoonful of chopped fruit filling goes in the middle, and you're ready to bake. Start with 14 minutes at 350 degrees, checking for browned edges and bubbling filling. You can put it back in for 18 minutes total if necessary.

Cool the cups in the pan for a few minutes…

Our Hope In Christ Alone

The new year brings hope: hope of new beginnings, hope of losing weight, hope of staying within the budget, hope of getting a better job ... the list goes on and on. But these hopes aren't the kind Peter wrote about.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3

As the body of Peter's letter begins, his words ring true so many hundreds of years later. Just as the early church was shown over-and-above mercy, they were led to bless God in an equally abundant way. Their hope wasn't an ordinary, everyday hope, but a hope that was alive and current. Their hope wasn't tied to anything temporal or worldly, instead being rooted and grounded in the resurrection of Christ.

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 1 Peter 1:4

No matter how good life on earth is, there is…

Essential Oils For Calm Dogs

This is what our home looks like on any given day. A four-year-old Great Dane and two seven-month-old Great Dane puppies make for exciting times. The pitter patter of tiny puppy feet is great ... until they become huge, pounding noises as they tear through the house.
It was this herd of elephants that convinced us that the puppies need more calm in their lives. Since the words "puppy" and "calm" don't normally go together in our house, we did what works for us when we're frazzled and overwhelmed: we pulled out the essential oils.

We use Relax and Peaceful oil blends in our diffuser all the time. The best ones we've found, and the ones that affect the dogs the most, are combinations of lemongrass, geranium and lavender, and tangerine, orange, ylang ylang, patchouli and chamomile. We put three drops around their collars and then rub it on their ears, towels and chest.

These last two pictures were taken just minutes after an essential oil treatment. They …

Teaching Teenagers About Finances

Our church's teen girls get together every month for Bible study, and it's such a fun time for all of us. We read our Bibles, study the Proverbs 31 woman, do some kind of game or activity and then they have complete control of the kitchen.
This month's verse from Proverbs 31 is She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Proverbs 31:24
We've already talked in previous verses and in previous months about how women of Bible times would make cloth, and we discussed how the merchants would make their rounds selling their trade. So with those subjects exhausted, this time we talk about money.
Finances are a difficult subject to talk to teenagers about because they're all on different levels. Some have their own jobs and bank accounts, while others still get an allowance and just do chores around the house. But starting at the beginning is a great refresher for some and a good foundation for the rest.
Here's how we're discuss…

A Reading Plan For 2018

Why am I showing you a picture of an empty book shelf? Because I want to show you how organized and clean our house is. It's so organized because I emptied everything out of the house and started over. See?

No, I really didn't get rid of everything in the house - that's just silly. But what I did do was empty these two shelves in our living room, which were once filled to overflowing with books.

And here's why: we have hundreds of books and I want to know exactly what I've read this year when December rolls around. I'm looking forward to the visual proof of what I've read along the way and which books helped me the most, gave me a few hours of pure enjoyment or convicted my heart of how I can be a better living sacrifice for the Lord.

If you're thinking about coming up with a new and different reading plan for the year, here are a few suggestions to get you started. Unless you like empty book shelves, too.

* Read a classic book you've never read be…

Words For Wednesday


Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

This could very possibly be the only frosting you'll ever want ... or ever need. It's peanut buttery, smooth, creamy and tasty on just about everything. And this is the voice of experience talking because I've tried it on just about everything.

One batch will cover about three dozen small cookies with a little bit left over. From there, I'll leave it up to your imagination.

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp or so milk

1. With the paddle attachment on a stand mixer, cream the peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until completely smooth.

2. Slowly add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until combined.

3. Pour in milk 1 Tbsp at a time until you've reached your perfect frosting consistency.

4. Spread, dip and savor to your heart's content.

Congratulations - It's Twin Puppies!

Two sweet new babies joined the Carrell Wildlife Preserve family this week. Renamed Callie and Diesel, these Great Dane-mix puppies were a bonded pair that the shelter didn't want to separate if they didn't have to. We were happy to take both brother and sister and give them a forever home.

First things first: Molly loves them. We wanted her to have a baby sister so she wouldn't be bored, but we hadn't planned on bringing her two babies. We didn't need to worry, though, as it was love at first sight. The three of them love to run circles through the kitchen and living room, which will be even more fun as they get bigger ... right? At least they all sleep well at night, and even stop moving for a moment or two like this photo proves.

And they're absolutely adorable when they fall asleep. They had been adopted together before, but the man got a new job and couldn't keep them. They were then fostered together before they were returned to the shelter the morni…

Stock Up Your Spiritual Emergency Kit

Winter weather has been an issue in southern Iowa lately, just as it has been in much of the nation. It's been so important to have extreme weather gear when we leave the house. Otherwise, a bad situation like an accident or car troubles can be disastrous in the bitter cold.

But an emergency kit isn't just for poor weather. The idea is to be prepared for any kind of accident, surprise and need. The things you place in it, for your home or your vehicle, will help you survive and stay safe no matter what emergency comes your way.

Here are just a few important items to have in your vehicle at all times in winter:
* knife
* waterproof box
* medicine
* cell phone
* change of clothes
* whistle or noisemaker
* important documents
* emergency money
* gloves
* candle/matches
* towels
* spare batteries
* multi-tool

Your own spiritual emergency kit needs to have some important items in it, too. When the circumstances of the day come upon you without warning, it's a good idea to know…

Maintaining A Cedar-Lined Closet

One of the nicest surprises when we moved into our home six years ago was finding a cedar wall in our master closet. The benefits of using this wood in your home are scientifically proven in addition to being incredibly popular.

* Cedar deters bugs, especially the ones that would normally feast on your clothes. Cockroaches, silverfish, moths and several other kinds of insects are repelled by the strong smell of cedar, so they steer clear of that room.

* Cedar prevents mold and mildew. It removes the moisture from the air, acting as a natural dehumidifier around your clothes.

* Cedar has a pleasant aroma, keeping the closet smelling fresh.

* Cedar has a natural red color that adds to the beauty of your home.

* Cedar requires very little maintenance - just a little cleaning and sanding every so often.

When your cedar walls lose their smell and luster, you can go through these simple steps to return them to their previous condition.

1. Empty the closet completely. If it's too diffic…