Showing posts from October, 2018

When Pulling Away Gets Too Difficult

Whoever introduced sticker bushes to the Iowa landscape should be tar-and-feathered. We spent all day Saturday wrestling with those stupid thorns while we were clearing the trails on the property. And we have a boatload of puncture wounds to show for it.

If you pull away from the thorns, they catch you. Each thorn grows at a diagonal, pointing back toward the stalk, forcing themselves into your flesh and clothing when you pull. This is their defense mechanism.

There is a secret, however, to not ripping your shirt and your skin. If you stop pulling forward and pull backward instead, in the direction the thorns point, you slip right off. Nothing gets torn, and you don't bleed. The thorn doesn't do any damage when you stopping tugging.

But isn't this what we do so often in our lives? Something painful happens, and we pull as hard as we can to get away from it. One hurtful situation panics us, and our sudden pulling rips us more, and we bleed emotionally and mentally.

And he s…

The Last Of The Fall Colors

The fall colors are fading fast. The trees are telling us winter is on its way. Here are just a few last-minute pictures to enjoy fall's final moments.

How To Network When You're An Introvert

Last night Danny and I attended a banquet for several of the city's partner groups, including the chamber of commerce, convention and visitors bureau and main street organizations. In a few weeks I will begin working part-time for them, and this was a great event to start things off.

That being said, the first half hour of the evening was the hardest for me. These events always have a social hour, and since I'm an introvert, this is a challenge.

On the bright side, there are several ways an introvert can be part of a crowded room without sweating bullets.

* Start on the wall, but don't stay there. Introverts generally don't like being thrown into the center of things, as we're not usually comfortable in new situations. Take a minute or two to get the lay of the land, getting comfortable and warmed up for the next phase of your plan.

* Find one person. While you're on the fringes, look for one person that you know or know of. Once you've found them, let go …

Three Fall Baking Treats

For this week's fall festival at church, we knew we would have about 20 kids, plus our teens. To make sure we had enough goodies for everyone (and for the adults who would wander through), I made three yummy, fall-themed treats. For the pumpkin patch, I made mini chocolate cupcakes. The grass is piped green frosting with a candy pumpkin on top.

I love the tiny cakes that come from my mini bundt pan. The depressions in the top are filled with pale orange frosting and topped with candy corn. 

And one of my traditional stand-bys. I partially fill a leaf pan with batter so it comes out thinner than normal. Then I spread a thick layer of peach-colored cream cheese frosting and make a sandwich. I used spice cake this time, and they turned out amazing!

Thanks to the generosity of our church congregation, the kids had loads of treats to snack on. And yes, the adults came through after prayer meeting to enjoy them, too. A good time was had by all.

Words For Wednesday


Showing Off Some Lumberjack Skills

We know it is fall on the property when it's time to cut up some of the fallen trees. This beautiful piece of hard wood came down in a storm a few months ago.

After work yesterday, Danny and I donned our safety gear and headed out to see how much we could get cut before the sun set. Hardwood is so difficult to cut, but Danny handles it like a pro.

The rings inside a tree never cease to amaze me. This tree has been here so long, and it's lived through so many things. Most trees don't add rings at a consistent rate, but each pair of light and dark rings - as a general rule - equal one year.

Danny did the cutting and I did the rolling. Sounds like pretty great teamwork to me! We won't talk about the one that rolled down the hill a few hundred feet and had to be carried out.

And this was our reward for working well after sundown. The almost-full moon through the trees, and some extra time with my sweetheart, made it all worth it.

Chocolate Caramel Banana Bread

This recipe will give you not one but two loaves of a sweet banana bread that everyone will love.  This recipe will give you not one but two candies inside to enjoy. And two is always better than one! The best part is that you can keep one loaf and give one loaf, bringing twice the joy and double the love.
Ingredients: 4 brown, overly ripe bananas 1 box cake mix, yellow or white 1/3 cup vegetable oil 3 eggs 1/2 bag mini chocolate chips 1/2 bag crunchy caramel bits
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two loaf pans with parchment paper. 2. Combine bananas, cake mix, oil and eggs in a large bowl until smooth. 3. Fold in chocolate chips and pour into loaf pans. 4. Divide the caramel bits and sprinkle over the top of the batter. They will sink to the bottom as the bread bakes. 5. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes. Edges will be light brown and a cake tester inserted all the way to the bottom of the bread will come out dry and clean. 6. Let bread cool completely before removing from the pans.

Operation Christmas Child's Shoeboxes

In less than two weeks our church will be hosting its Operation Christmas Child shoebox packing party! It's one of the highlights of the year, as we fill boxes to change life with the gospel story.

For those of you who don't know, Operation Christmas Child is part of Samaritan's Purse, an international relief organization. Through OCC, shoeboxes full of hygiene products, clothes, school supplies and toys are sent around the world. The most special inclusion, even beyond these small treasures, is booklets about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Churches, individuals and groups all across the country will spend the first part of November gathering needed items and packaging them in shoeboxes for travel around the world. They will be distributed by volunteers who teach about the love of Christ so children in need receive the greatest gift of all.

Every Wednesday night for the past few weeks, we've spent the first few minutes of our prayer meeting watching videos of children - …

Through The Bible In A Year - Starting The New Testament

If you’ve been following the Read Through the Bible in a Year schedule on the left side of your screen, you know that yesterday was the last day of the Old Testament. I pray that the journaling prompts you’ve been given have made you think, check your heart and draw closer to the Lord. There’s nothing that would make me happier than knowing you’ve changed because of God’s word.
Today begins the New Testament, and like I tell our elementary Sunday school class, the gospel is what the entire Bible points us to. Nothing compares to the story of Jesus’ birth, life, ministry, death and resurrection. It’s the essence of who God is, what He sent His Son to earth to do for His people. These words are literally life changing.
In the very first reading, we find so many stones of our Christian foundation:
the genealogy of Jesus Christ,the birth of our Savior,the arrival of the wise men,Herod’s conspiracy and slaughter,the ministry of John the Baptist,Jesus’ baptism,Satan’s failed temptations,the ca…

Puppy Personality Oozing Out All Over

Sometimes you can't tell exactly what a dog is thinking, so today I'm going to translate some of the faces and actions of our puppies' personalities.

Callie, while she often sits a little awkwardly, is usually a little princess. It's her way or the highway.

This is her "I'm not sure what you're doing, and I'm prepared to make funny noises like a Wookie" face. She always gives us a little warning like this before she breaks out in song.

This is how Diesel looks at Callie right before he charges at her. Off camera she's in a play bow, wagging her whole back end. He's more than happy to comply.

Molly's a pretty easy read. She's staring at me while I'm making their dinner, encouraging me to hurry in her very subtle way. I love her company, but I could do with a little less staring.  

And my little mama's boy wants his cuddle time every evening. He has such a soft heart, and that shines all over his sweet face. Maybe they aren&…

On My Bookshelf This Week

For some reason, it's been difficult for me to find a lot of extra time to read lately. Busyness in other areas of my life has made me feel like reading is a luxury, which has probably hurt my heart more than I know.

So a few days ago I decided to correct this problem by pulling out a handful of books and diving right in. They cover four different topics, and I've already finished two of them. Here's what I've been reading:

* Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Oswald Chambers. Our upper elementary school Sunday School class has just started the New Testament in its study through the Bible book by book. Originally published in 1960, this book covers Matthew 5-7 in great detail, which is perfect timing for our study. Chambers used amazing alliteration (see what I did there?) to show the connections between God's character and our conduct as believers. If you want to see Jesus' sermon in a different light, you'll love this book.

* How to Read a Graveyard b…

Words For Wednesday


Our Three Bucks

This fall on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve, we have so many deer that they're difficult to keep track of. There are several does, including those that have almost-grown fawns with them. But my favorites by far are our three bucks.

The bucks are like those high school boys that always go everywhere together. They're usually up pretty early in the morning, and they go looking for their supper at about the same time we do.

Our guys are still fairly young, so we're excited to see them mature and choose their does. Then, come the spring, they'll fill the preserve with fawns! And that's something we always look forward to.

Mini Cinnamon Roll Cookies

This amazing recipe is one of the cookies I sold at our garage sale/bake sale a couple of weeks ago. Yes, I held a couple of plates of cookies back because I knew they would sell quickly.

Whenever a recipe calls for cinnamon, I always double the amount. It's one of my favorite spices, and I want there to be no doubt that it's there. If you like less of a punch, just decrease the amount you add to your cookies.

1 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon

4 oz bar white baking chocolate
1 tsp honey
almond milk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar until white and fluffy. Add egg yolks, honey and vanilla. Mix until combined and smooth.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cream of tartar.

4. With mixer speed on …

Happy National Dessert Day!

Make today, National Dessert Day, special by serving some of your favorite treats at every meal!

So what are your go-to desserts? Do you serve something different when you have company? Does your family have certain sweet treats they request time after time?

Enjoy your National Dessert Day celebration!

Calvary Baptist Church Chili Cook Off 2018

For as long as people can remember, October has been special at our church because of our chili cook off. It's supposedly all in fun, although some people take it very seriously. All you win is a certificate and bragging rights for the upcoming year. Danny placed second in the hot category this year - I'm so proud of him!

By the time I got through the first chili line and over to the dessert table, this is what it looked like. The gym was packed with people, and I think many of them started with desserts while they were waiting. I'm keeping that in mind for next year...

There was a lot of conversation about what the best toppings are for chili. Some people swear by sour cream, while others won't eat it without cornbread. Crackers are always a staple, and the corn chips were flowing freely. The cheese bowl emptied quickly, too, so there were lots of favorites out there. What are your picks for the best chili toppings?

An Apple A Day Keeps Your Dog's Boredom Away

Normally when we give the puppies toys to play with, they rip them, tear them, shred them and just generally destroy them. We tried something different this week that is so shockingly simple that we can't believe we've never tried it before: apples filled with peanut butter!

If you don't have one of these hand-held corers, GET ONE! Yes, I'm being bossy on this one. In about six turns I had the core completely out, and the handle separates to push the core into the garbage.

Then they get packed with peanut butter. I said this was simple.

All three dogs loved them, and they even cleaned their own peanut butter smears off the floor. These apples are safe, filling and a fun distraction for a while. The perfect combination, I'd have to say.

Stuff From Trees - Having Fun With Our Recent Projects

We've been having a great time already this fall, working on new projects and custom pieces. This purple string art butterfly is probably the most colorful gift I've made lately, and I love the color one of our Etsy customers chose for it. It was a joy to ship it across the country.

On the local front, we had three orders for custom thank you, encouragement, thanksgiving and Christmas cards. These fall-themed thank you cards made my day! Get it? See what I did there...? 

While picking out tree slices for the string art, I discovered that we had enough of them to make several more wreaths. All I have to do now is make their bows and make two more slices for that one wreath. It's like Christmas going through the craft room some days.

We've also finished another line of Christian cards for all occasions. Each has a Bible quote or Scripture on the front, and many of them are blank inside for your personal message. Come to our Etsy shop today and see everything Stuff From …

Words For Wednesday


The Beginning Of Fall Colors

Fall finally showed up this weekend at the Carrell Wildlife Preserve. There's still a lot of green, but the reds and yellows are starting to take over. Enjoy this glimpse at our autumn colors.