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Showing posts from May, 2018

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?

Words For Wednesday

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Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake Pie

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Nothing celebrates warm, sunny days like the combination of fruit and cheesecake. At least in my world nothing does. And I like it in my world, filled with fruit and cheesecake.

With just five ingredients - two of which are remade for you - and about 20 minutes, you can slip a beautiful pie into the refrigerator. The red and white just screams summer, doesn't it?

Ingredients:
1 premade, frozen pie crust
1 8 oz block cream cheese, softened
1 8 oz container Cool Whip, thawed
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 21 oz can strawberry rhubarb pie filling
1 can whipped topping for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, or as instructed on the package.

2. While the oven is preheating, whip the cream cheese with a stand mixer until smooth. Add Cool Whip and combine completely. Pour in sugar and mix until sugar has dissolved and the mixture is creamy. Set aside until pie crust is done.

3. Bake pie crust according to package directions. Allow to cool completely.

4. When crust is cool, pour in cheesecake bat…

The Library Book Sale And The 6 I'm Going To Start With

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This was the weekend I’d been looking forward to since last May. Every year our public library asks for donations of books, puzzles, games and music to hold a fundraising sale. Last year they raised thousands of dollars thanks to the generosity of the community - and everyone who bought those thousands of books.

Yes … that means me. Several times over.
At noon on Friday they open the doors, and everyone follows the hand-drawn maps to their favorite genres. Nothing is priced more than $2, and the smart shoppers bring their own bags and boxes. I filled three bags on the first day and another bag on the second. I call Saturday “Regret Day” or “the day I go back and get the books I regret not getting on the first day.” Catchy title, huh? Sunday is 1/2-price day, which is always a winner in my book.
So this is the investment to my library from this year’s sale. I’m thrilled with all the amazing books I found, though I did have to finish a book I was already reading so I wouldn’t feel guilty a…

Iron Sharpens Iron

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Watching Danny work in his shop is one of the most fascinating things ever. He has the tools he needs, he knows how to use them and the finished product is always a work of art. And sometimes I even get to help — handing, holding and running for things as necessary. I'm a great assistant, if I do say so myself.
One of my favorite tools is the sharpener. (It may have a more technical name, but please forgive me for not knowing it.) The sparks fly and the loud noise lets Danny know that the blade he is working with is losing that dull edge. Soon it will cut like a knife through butter, and he will be able to cut more effectively.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17
We’re always telling the teens in our youth group that you will become the people you hang around with, for better or worse. They (and we) have to be so careful about the friends and acquaintances we spend time with because they will and do eventually rub off on us. 
In the …

All Those Puppy Personalities

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When we walked into the local animal shelter back in January, we hadn't planned on having two black labs again. We went with the sole purpose of looking at a Great Dane mix puppy. Our plans were thwarted, though, when that puppy turned out to be lab/German Shepard mix twins. 
In the days and weeks since, we've seen our big girls - Bailey and Sadie - reflected in our new labs. Diesel is very much like Bailey in every way, especially in his possessive, protective nature. And I call Callie by Sadie's name at least once a day because she looks and acts so much like her. Here are a few pictures to help you understand how blessed we are with these babies.





What About Those Two-Thirds?

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At a recent conference Danny and I attended, we were given some cold, hard facts about Iowans and their church attendance. Our view has always been that we should be in church every time the doors are open. Apparently we are in the minority.
One of the convention speakers gave us these statistics: 1/3 of Iowans say they don’t attend church at all 1/3 say they attend church 1-20 times each year
1/3 say they are regular church attendees
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, but I was. I can't imagine not worshipping God with fellow believers. I can't imagine not knowing our church family's needs so I can pray for them. And I can't imagine not being spiritually fed multiple times during the week. If I have to eat food to be physically healthy, I also have to hear God's Word preached and taught to be spiritually strong. 
Let us hold fast to the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unt…

Words For Wednesday

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Happy Chocolate Chip Day!

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Today is National Chocolate Chip Day! What a wonderful reason to celebrate for an entire 24 hours, I'm thinking. (By the way, National Chocolate Cookie Day is in August. Be prepared!)

To make some adorable little ice cream sandwiches featuring those little chips of chocolate, grab a package of miniature chocolate chip cookies, a pint of your favorite ice cream and some appropriately colored sprinkles.

Use a melon baller to get the proper size and roundness of your ice cream - I used cookies and creme. Then squeeze the two halves together so ice cream just barely smooshes out the sides. Pour the sprinkles into a shallow dish and roll the edges of the sandwich to pick them up.

Put the ice cream sandwiches in the freezer for a few minutes to harden back up and they're ready to eat! Here's wishing you a very happy Chocolate Chip Day!

Bible Verses To Share With Your Graduates

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I went to my first graduation ceremony and reception last weekend, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried through the entire event. It was a small gathering for three homeschoolers, and even though I only knew one of them personally, their parents' words of love and encouragement to these young men were amazing.

Since it's been a while since I graduated from anything, I had to study for a little while to find appropriate Bible verses for the next phase of their life. I wanted something that would speak of God's gifts of growth, transition and change. Here are just a few that would touch the heart of any graduate.

* Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:17

* For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

* Study to show thyself approved unto God, a wo…

5 Ways To Jumpstart Your Creativity

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Being a very practical person, I love lists. Give me a place to cross things off and I'm tickled pink. I don't do well with abstract thoughts or vague ideas. I like everything in order and in its place.

But when my creative well has run dry, there's no practical way to get it back.

When I asked a group of friends on Etsy how I could jumpstart my creativity, I wasn't sure what responses I would get. These are some of the most creative people ever, and I was excited to read what their solutions to my problem were.

The five suggestions they had blew me out of the water. They weren't focused on reorganizing, reading a particular book or listening to a certain podcast. From their own experiences, these were the ways they wanted me to get plugged in to the Source of creativity Himself.

1. Read the Bible under a tree, take a walk in the woods or sit outside by a fire pit and pray.

2. Hit reset by returning to the simple ways of life. The pressures of the world come down …

Upcycled Window Dry Erase Board

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Did you ever have one of those ideas that floated around in your head for weeks or months or years, but you were never sure how to make it happen? Of course you have! That's what this widow frame-turned-dry erase board has been for me.

First of all, I needed a window. And it needed to be large enough to actually write on. Do you know what a challenge this is? Of course you do! So on a trip to Martha's Nook and Cranny, there it was. A big, beautiful - although slightly worn - double-paned window. The small one on the left is another project for another day ... stay tuned.


I fell in love with its size first, but the more I looked at it, the more I fell in love with its story. I have no idea where this window came from, but it has an old-fashioned hook pin that reminds me of the house I grew up in. I was also tickled to find multiple layers of paint, letting me know that it has been through several refurbishes over the years. 

I couldn't bring myself to remove all those lay…