Showing posts from August, 2018

You Voted: 23rd Psalm Little Golden Book Journal

A couple of weeks ago I asked for a popularity vote on what the next Stuff From Trees upcycled children's book should be. And the book you chose is beautiful: the Little Golden Book of the 23rd Psalm.

The illustrations for this book are amazing, so I left them as large as I could. The text blocks are all used, too, with coordinating textured card stock behind them.

Each set of pages has text on one side and a journal block on the other. This will allow you to be part of the book, adding your own prayers, praises and thoughts.

I think my favorite part, though, is the 23rd Psalm song in the back of the book. I've never heard this before, but it is beautiful. How much fun would it be to give this book as a gift and teach them the song, too?

And the story ends on a simple but powerful Amen!

Our 23rd Psalm journal will be released at our next show - Walk On Art Street on Saturday, Sept. 15. We look forward to having you come visit our booth and see this amazing book in person.

Throwback Thursday: My Very First Blog Post

Nine years ago this week I started writing my thoughts here. This blog was going to be a way to share my faith and my little bit of knowledge with other women trying to live a victorious Christian life. Time literally flies when you're having fun, I have to admit. But time also flies when you're in the lowest of valleys, too. The last 108 months have held their fair share of both.

Today I want to remind myself of why I do what I do. And let you know that my heart is in the same place - right here with you. Thank you for your love and faithfulness.

September 1, 2009
I am committed to the notion that Christian women can be whole, happy, content and busy, all at the same time. There are times when we all feel overwhelmed by the burdens of everyday life, but our circumstances should never steal away the joy of our walk with God. We can live a victorious Christian life no matter what comes our way.

Psalm 51:12 says: Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy fr…

Words For Wednesday: Back To School Edition


Grounded And Settled: The Story Of A Mailbox

After living in our house for almost 7 years, we made a very significant change last week. No, we didn't remodel the kitchen or have all the landscaping updated.

We moved our mailbox.

The reason that this is such a huge, wonderful move is because of its former location. Our driveway starts right on the highway, at the bottom of a large hill to the north and a blind curve that splits into three lanes to the south. This made getting our mail incredibly dangerous because the box was on the opposite side of the highway.

To get the mail, we had three options: drive south and pull the car across oncoming traffic onto the opposite shoulder; pull out of the driveway to the north, park next to the mailbox and get out of the car; or walk across the highway. None of these solutions was safe by any stretch of the imagination, and I always felt like I was inconveniencing the traffic behind me while I was waiting for an opening to get across. I didn't want to be judging my safety every tim…

Baked Garlic Chicken Thighs With Rice And Vegetables

One of the least expensive meats in the grocery store is chicken thighs. This is wonderful because in addition to being easy on your wallet, they're also incredibly flavorful. You can mix and match numerous spice mixes to create your own favorite meals.

For this recipe, I added rice and frozen vegetables to make a complete meal in one dish.

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
3 Tbsp Montreal Chicken Seasoning (or your favorite rub and spices)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Spread garlic evenly over the bottom of the baking dish and add the butter to the center. Place in heated oven for 10 minutes.

3. Stir garlic butter and mix in the rice, broth and water. Cover with foil and return to oven for 30 minutes.

4. Stir rice and add vegetables. The mixture will be runny at this point, but that's ok.

5. Toss chicken thighs with seasonin…

Proper Dog Park Etiquette

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I took her son and our four dogs to the dog park for a play date. Molly met Tracy's dog Stark more than a year ago, but this was a new experience for our puppies. All the unfamiliar territory was exciting, and they romped all over the large, fenced-in park.

Other dogs and their owners came and went on the other side of the fence. I was pleasantly surprised at how well they greeted everyone else and were on their best behavior. By the time we were ready to head for home, we knew all four dogs (and probably the humans too) were going to have amazing afternoon naps.

Want to make your own dog park experience one to remember - for all the right reasons?

1. Make sure your dog will come when she is called. This can stop a slew of problems before they ever start.

2. Be up-to-date on shots and medicines. It's fun to share toys at the dog park, but it's not fun at all to share health problems.

3. Take a minute to consider your situation. Dogs who …

Love You Forever Children's Book Upcycle

Today we get to deliver an adorable upcycled children's book to a Stuff From Trees customer. We adore custom orders, and this one was so much fun to put together.

The card stock pages are covered with textured card stock in a variety of colors to coordinate with the illustrations. They go perfectly with the patterned papers and embellishments.

Hand-stamped journaling blocks and decorative shapes accent the original words from the book. There is also tons of room for photos and other memories.

Behind each illustration is a hand-cut tag designed for journaling or wallet-sized photos.
Did this upcycle give you an idea for a children's book you'd like us to make? Come visit us today in our Etsy shop and we'll start a conversation about it!

Not-So-Lemony Lemon Bars

Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy fruity flavors in your cooking and baking. So many amazing fruits are ripe at this time of year, and using them at the peak of their freshness just makes sense.

On that note, there is one fruit that I often get overwhelmed by: lemon. I love this citrus flavor, but not to the point where I feel like I'm drinking lemon furniture polish. Small doses are the rule of thumb for me when it comes to lemon.

That's where the down-played flavor of this classic dessert came from. If you like loads of lemon, you can make it the traditional way. If you want a hint of lemon, try it this way. You can also substitute 2 Tbsp lemon juice for the extract if you want a little kick.

1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp lemon extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8x8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. Mix flour, butter and powdered sugar unti…

Words For Wednesday


Iowa State Fair 2018

The Iowa State Fair is always a special time for Danny and me because it comes after his nine-days-in-a-row stretch at work. After seeing each other for only a few hours during that time, having one whole day together is always amazing. This year we saw so many new things, and we have so many new memories from the time we've spent together.

The mountain men demonstrated fire starting and hawk throwing.

Twin goat kids had just been born that morning.

The Isiserettes, a drill and drum corp from Des Moines, were absolutely amazing! If you're in the area, you'll definitely want to check them out.

The chainsaw carver is always amazing.

And, of course, we eat our way across the fairgrounds. This year we only tried new foods, from the list of new additions to the food vendors' menus.

Itty Bitty (yes, that's his real name) was the champion big boar this year. And he's thrilled with the title, can't you tell?

One of our favorite places to visit is the horse barn. …

A Narrative On Rocks And Snowflakes

While redoing our corner rock garden recently, I hauled bucket after bucket full of rocks from different places on the property. I was honestly surprised at how heavy they were and how many loads of rock it took to cover that small garden plot.

And because I handled each and every one of these rocks individually, I noticed something very interesting about them: no two were exactly alike. Sure, there were hundreds of gray rocks, rocks with red speckles and rocks with little holes in them. But despite being in the same category of rock, they weren't identical by any stretch of the imagination.

These rocks are very much like snowflakes. All snowflakes are hexagonal (they have six sides in the middle), but they are each slightly different. How boring would it be to see a sky full of the exact same snowflake falling? There's no room in our lives for cookie cutter snowflakes, right?

But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they w…

Our Youth Group Word Wall

We are absolutely in love with the start of our word wall in the teen room. They chose a handful of words that meant something special to them in their Christian walk, and we accented it with a few string art pieces.

The result? We want to do more!

Each of the string art boards was made by hand, pounding in nails and stringing them with embroidery floss. Again, we chose words and symbols that tell a story about how we want to live the life of a believer to the fullest.

For a step-by-step string art tutorial, you'll want to read this.

Danny cut 1/4-inch craft plywood into 6-inch squares for the Scrabble tiles. I created the letters and numbers in Pages on the computer and sized them to fit in a 6-inch space so they looked like the actual game tiles.

After sanding the boards down, Danny wood burned the letters using my patterns. I think they turned out absolutely perfectly, and they're just the right size for our wall space.
As we worked on each piece, we would play around with…

BBQ Chicken Crescent Ring

In the heat of an Iowa summer, the last thing I really want to do is turn on the oven. The stove is bad enough, but baking or roasting something turns our kitchen into a sauna.

And that's only good at the gym.

That being said, this amazing crescent ring is totally worth a few minutes of heat. After the chicken has been in the slow cooker all day, and the smells have been assaulting you, you'll be completely willing to suffer the high temperatures for a little while.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce
5 slices bacon, cut in four pieces
2 cans crescent rolls
1/2 bag shredded colby jack cheese

1. Place chicken and BBQ sauce in the slow cooker. Turn on low and leave for 6-8 hours.

2. Once it's cooked through, shred the chicken into a large bowl and set aside.

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

4. On a large baking stone, arrange the crescent roll wedges into a large circle using an upside down bowl in the middle.

5. Layer shredded chicken, chee…

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.