Showing posts from 2019

Sunday Sketches

Let's pick a fun pattern for this sketch - it's going to be the focal point of your card, so get creative!

I made a travel-themed card with a map background paper and a sweet sentiment. The 3D heart has glitter around the edges, and the map marker is raised on 3D adhesive for some added dimension.

The sentiment is broken up into four lines: three lines of writing and one heart image. This makes the sentiment more interesting to look at, especially if you make similar cards over and over again.

For your version of this sketch, start with a solid background color that coordinates with your pattern. Then cut your patterned paper down by a quarter of an inch on all four sides.

Have fun with how you make your sentiment. You can use alphabet stickers, printed letters, rub-ons or hand-written words. Whatever style you choose, pull out one word and recreate it as an image, like the heart in my card.

In the bottom corner, pick a coordinating embellishment with your chosen pattern. This…

Happy National Puppy Day!

Happy National Puppy Day! In honor of this special occasion, I will show you pictures of our puppies doing what they love best - napping! Oh, they’re energetic and enthusiastic, but they’re so cute when they’re asleep. And so quiet.

I hope you’ll spend the day loving on your favorite puppy. Play games, cuddle and run around outside. I know we will be ... once they all wake up.

Sunday Sketches

Today's sketch is a great way to use up some scrap paper and create a versatile card. You can mix and match the colors, patterns and images for any occasion or theme.

For my card, I chose the striped paper first, then added the coordinating colors. The watermelon image went with them all perfectly, and I used a contrasting blue for the gemstones.

I also like to use Scripture on the outside of my cards, so this one refers to praising the Lord for the provision of our food every day - perfect for the watermelon.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with a patterned paper, two or three coordinating card stock colors and a fun image. If you mat each one, they'll stand out even more.

Then add some tiny embellishments that will stand out against your card stock colors. The sentiment will overlap the other blocks in several places, so it's a good idea to use a larger sentiment or one with several lines.

When you've made your card with this sketch, I'd love to see it!…

Usher In Spring With Floral Arrangements

Are you as ready for spring as I am? It's time to lift our spirits, get rid of all the winter colors and focus on the light and airy feel of spring. And these floral arrangements are a great way to start!

A quick trip to the dollar store, or perhaps to your storage bins at home, and you'll have the few supplies you need to create a spring arrangement. I used the flowers, jar and pebbles shown here, plus a jar and pebbles I already had.

Pour the pebbles in the jar to the desired height and break apart the floral stems.

To make the tall, thin arrangement, I took the blue hydrangeas off the stem entirely and tucked them into the mouth of the jar. The glittered onion grass filled the middle of the jar.

I trimmed the white flowers to different heights so they would add some variety through the onion grass.

And the pink ones are arranged to cascade around the others, creating a little movement, too. I did much the same for the square one, using the leftover flowers. Having two brig…

I’m Otter-ly Loving Him, But He Has To Go...

So we’ve had otters around the big pond for the past few weeks. Having not seen any here before, I had to do some research to find out more about them.

Otters were once practically extinct in Iowa until the 1980s when they were reintroduced. Now there are thousands of them, and they can be found in all 99 counties.

They often take over another animals burrow once it’s left, and we have some beaver holes that would be perfect for otters. We haven’t seen babies yet, but the mama otters will use the underwater entrances to raise their babies. We haven’t seen babies, but I’m sure they’re there, too.

I didn’t realize how big otters could be, either. The DNR says they can be as much as 5 feet long, and a third of that is their rudder-like tail.

They’re completely adorable and I love them, but they have got to go. This absolutely breaks my heart, but there’s a very important reason they can’t stay. They are carnivores - they eat meat - and their favorite is fish. Our fish. Lots of fish. If …

Words For Wednesday


Protein-Packed Sausage And Egg Muffins

The more I read about women’s nutrition, the more I understand how important protein is to our bodies. And if it’s spread out during the day, that’s even better. These handy sausage and egg muffins are the perfect size for breakfast, especially if you’re in a hurry in the morning. They freeze incredibly well and can be reheated in the microwave for 60 seconds. If you’d like to substitute freshly cooked bacon, that would be great, too.   Ingredients: 1 pound Italian sausage 2 cups flour 1 Tbsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1/3 cup butter, melted 6 eggs 3/4 cup milk 8 oz bag shredded cheddar cheese 2.5 oz bag shredded bacon pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.
2. In a medium cast iron skillet, brown the sausage.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Add butter, eggs and milk to the dry ingredients. Combine well.
5. Stir in cheese and bacon.
6. Spoon mixture into muffin tins.
7. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

What Does The Ground Of Your Heart Look Like?

If you’re going to do a study on Jesus’ parable of the sower, you probably need to eat dirt cups while you write, right? There’s something about the combination of chocolate pudding, crumbled cookies and gummy critters that makes Bible study easier.

The parable of the sower is found in three of the four Gospels, and it is one of the few that Jesus explained verse by verse and line by line. And if He is that detailed in His explanation, we are meant to pay special attention to it.

Jesus told the parable while sitting by the sea, surrounded by a multitude of people who wanted to hear Him, see Him and just be near Him. In Matthew’s account, Jesus detailed four times the sower went out with his seeds:
* on the wayside where the birds ate them
* on stony places where there was little dirt
* among thorns where they were choked out
* on good ground where they grew fruit

The disciples first reaction after hearing this parable was to question Jesus - interesting, isn’t it? Their question was …

Sunday Sketches

After all these cards covered in snow and snowflakes and snowmen, it's time to pull out some spring cards! This blue and purple card got me in the warm weather mood, so let's talk about how to put one together.

For my card, I pulled out three coordinating decorator papers and two colors of card stock. I love using big patterns in blocks like this because they offset the smaller prints, tiny embellishments and simple verse.

The two smaller patterns are perfect for bands across the width of the card, as they would be way too busy to use as a background.

Ready to make this sketch into a card of your own? This is a great opportunity to use up some paper scraps you have stored away, especially long, thin ones that would be perfect for bands and borders.

Choose a small sentiment for this one, as the focal point is really going to be the large decorator paper block. A few coordinating embellishments in the bottom corner will really balance this layout.

When you get your card done, I…

Understanding The Personality Of A Great Dane

Thinking about getting a Great Dane? Already have a Dane but don't quite understand how her brain works? Just want to be supportive to your friendly neighborhood Dane owner? Here are a few insights into the Great Dane personality.

As opposed to popular belief, Great Danes know exactly how big they are. They'll throw their weight around when they need to, but for the most part they are gentle giants. And they don't really eat that much more than smaller dogs, which is also a misconception. 

Protective should be every Dane's middle name. (Molly's is Jo, but you get the idea.) I firmly believe that we will never be burgled because they'll hear her coming and head for the hills. Danes know that they have a home and property to protect, and they do it to the best of their ability.

They may nap frequently throughout the day, but Danes are definitely not lazy. They just conserve their energy for the important things like chasing squirrels, walks in the woods and the …

My “I’m So Ready For Spring” Bulletin Board

Yes, it’s snowing again. Snowing. Again. It’s pretty from inside, but definitely not necessary at this point.

So to make everyone feel a little warmer and look forward to spring days, I put together this joyful bulletin board in the Sunday school hallway. The Scripture reminds us to praise God no matter what the weather is like, and the spring tree is just a hint of what’s to come.

The background blue is from a roll of paper that lives in the church copy room. It’s my go-to paper when I need a blue sky. The dark blue border is a different shade of blue to keep the theme going.

To make the tree, I cut a piece of brown mailing paper in one long strip, then trimmed it to fit under the bulletin board frame. A few thinner pieces make the perfect branches.

I used 3D bird and flower stickers from the dollar store for all the accents, and I punched out leaves from green textured paper.

For the verse, I created a text document in a fun font and cut them out as squares. They’re matted on sever…

The Great Blueberry Cake Competition

Danny had last weekend off, and we both got the urge to bake! So, just for the fun of it, I suggested a bake-off. We would make two versions of blueberry cake that we had found and see who could make it better.

His response was, let's just bake together.

So we just baked. I made mine Saturday evening and he made his on Sunday morning. When his came out of the oven, Danny's exact words were "I win."

We took them to church with us for treats in Sunday school and as dessert at the potluck lunch. I let the ladies in the adult Sunday school class know that Danny and I had each baked one, but they could decide for themselves which one they liked better.

Danny's won hands down.

Many of them said it was because his was still warm. Yes, I can see the unfair advantage there. But it was also SO good.

Here are the links to the two blueberry cakes we tried. We'll let you make them and decide for yourself which one you like the best. Have fun!

Blueberry Butter Cake

Words For Wednesday


Passing On Our Sunday School Room

In March 2018, almost a year ago today, we turned our Junior Sunday School classroom from an ugly, beige, flood-damaged cement room into a fun place to learn and study God’s Word. It was a project of love, for sure, and we have 50 weeks of great Sunday School memories in this room.

But this weekend we were able to trade rooms with the tiny people’s Sunday school class - the 3-year-olds up through third grade. It was sad to say goodbye to the room, but there are so many younger kids in our church that they were literally overflowing out of their old room. It was such a joy to move their furniture over and see how much it belonged in there. Everything is miniature and absolutely adorable.

And now we have the opportunity to update another room on the Sunday school floor. We've already chosen the theme - something totally different than this one - and we're excited to get started. There are about 27 different ideas floating around between the two of us, and the tiny room isn'…

Three Ways To Change Your Prayer Life Forever

Whether you are in a spiritual battle right now or you are resting in the grace of God, prayer is still at the center of everything a Christian woman does. Our heart longs to reach out to God when we're surrounded by the trials of life, just as it does when we sing His praises.

There are three very specific ways we can change the way we pray forever. It's my personal prayer that you will be able to learn from my story of life-altering prayer and apply it to your own situation today.

Praying Scripture
During one of the most difficult times of my life, I read through the book of Psalms so many times. There was something about reading David’s words of suffering and all the prayers he prayed that struck a chord in me. I didn’t know exactly what to pray for myself, but I found the words I needed in David’s psalms.

In my prayer closet, I taped the words of Psalm 143 to the wall. I read it to myself, prayed it out loud and had most of the 12 verses memorized. It became the anthem to my…

Sunday Sketches

This sketch is one of my favorite card layouts of all time. It’s incredibly versatile, and its simplicity has so many possibilities. Like last week’s sketch, I’m sticking with the “oh my goodness, it’s cold” theme.

I used two coordinating patterns, two colors of card stock and two embellishments to create this fun design. The sentiment is the perfect size for the open space on the card, and 3D embellishments really make it pop.

For your own version of this layout, mat a patterned paper on your background, then make a fun border with a pattern or card stock...or both. Ink distressing would be fun on this layout, too.

Your two sizes of embellishments will be fun to match up - a large one up top and a small one on the sentiment. Whether you stamp a sentiment or use some type of pre-printed words, mat them on a coordinating color to make them pop off the page.

When you’re done with your take on this sketch, show us how you tweaked this layout!

In Honor Of Read Across America Day

I don’t need a special day to prompt me to read. With a healthy book addiction, I’m always working through two or three books at any given moment. And knowing a huge local book sale is coming up in just six weeks, I’m immersed in some older books to make room for the new ones.

So in honor of Read Across America Day, here are four books on my bookshelf right now:

* A Journey Into Prayer - Devotional Selections from Evelyn Christenson. I loved this author’s book What Happens When Women Pray, and found this lovely little devotional. With a great prayer-related Scripture and just two pages of devotion each day, it’s a good, simple read to start the day with.

* Whispers and Wildflowers by Sarah Beth Marr. I learned about this amazing writer on Ann Voskamp’s website, A Holy Experience. Sarah Beth Marr is a ballet dancer, and her beautifully descriptive writing have me looking forward to devotion time. I don’t like the mix of Bible versions she uses, but I have my Bible on hand to read the …

For Peanut Butter Lovers Day - Peanut Butter Snack Bars

Happy Peanut Butter Lovers Day! Yes, that’s really a thing, and it’s an amazing thing!
In honor of this peanut-buttery day, here is a simple energy bar that celebrates everything wonderful about this concoction. You can trade out some ingredients for your favorite mix-ins, making it even better.

1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 cup quick oats
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup coconut flakes
Sliced almonds
Sea salt caramel baking chips

1. Line an 8x8-inch baking dish with wax paper.

2. Combine all ingredients through coconut flakes in a large bowl, mixing until combined.

3. Scrape bowl into the baking dish. Press firmly with the back of a spoon until evenly packed in.

4. Sprinkle top of bars with almonds and baking chips. Press into the top. None should move when you tilt the dish.

5. Refrigerate for at least three hours. Remove from dish using the wax paper. Cut and place in a n airtight container.

How Do Your Succulents Grow?

My collection of hen and chicks succulents is very special to me. They were a gift from someone thinning out their garden, and I’ve doted on them ever since.

I’ve tried decorating with them and had them in several locations over the years, but they don’t grow outdoors nearly as well as they do in the dining room sunshine.

When I needed something to put in our picket fence planters at our craft shows last year, I immediately thought of these succulents. People loved the size and how easy they are to maintain. I was happy to share some of the larger hens with them, knowing they would produce some great chicks for them.

During the winter months I’ve been thrilled to see the hens grow up and out. When they were outside, I felt like their growth was really stunted. It’s fun to see the pink under their top layers of leaves, something I could never see when they were in the corner garden. The chicks are also taking off, and they’ll have to be trimmed so they can be replanted. I always love …

Words For Wednesday


How To Design A Great Winter Card

It’s stupid cold in Iowa today. There should be a point where cold is just cold, and I think we’re there. We’re so obsessed with the frigid weather that it’s spilling over in my papercrafting. I pulled out these great cards today so I could sent warm winter wishes to some friends.

What are the best ways to create a beautiful winter card? Start here:

* Mix textures, like sheeer ribbon and gemstones with torn paper and punched shapes.
* Snowflakes are a classic, but update them with some sparkles.
* Several shades of blue on the same card will simply capture the feel of winter.
* A subtle snowflake-patterned paper can be used as a sentiment and embellishments.
* Find creative ways to use papers that aren’t obviously winter in fun, new ways.
* Any sentiment or Scripture can be paired with the winter theme by using cool blues and purples for the text.

Do you have favorite techniques for your winter paper crafts? What would you add to this list?

My New Walking Routine

I am blessed beyond measure to have this wall of windows outside my office at Bridge View Center. It looks out over the Des Moines River, and we have eagles who fish there every day. We’ve named them Vegas and Victoria, in case you want to call them by name.

The main reason I’m showing you this picture, though, is to highlight my new walking routine. One loop around the lobby is 1/4 mile, so my starting goal is two laps in the morning and two laps in the afternoon, for a total of a mile.

I can’t believe the difference this (relatively) short distance has had on me. Physically, I already have more energy in the evening. Mentally, I fell like I can focus better on my work. Emotionally, my mood is better later in the day than usual. I can also get a few emails and a blog or two read.

Please pray with me that I’ll be able to keep this routine going and that I’ll be able to increase my distance each week. This is totally doable, and I want to take advantage of the space available.

So if y…

Sunday Sketches

Since it’s been so bitterly cold in Iowa for ... well, months ... the next few Sunday Sketches will be created on the winter theme. For today’s card, two wintery decorator papers combine to bring in the snow!

I used white card stock for the base, then made a dark blue textured card stock the background. The first decorator paper is matted on top and the second was cut down to make a cute left hand border. I cut the snowman out of another piece of decorator paper, and finished it off with a hand-stamped phrase to balance the card.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Choose two patterns and a couple of coordinating card stock colors. Use one pattern as the background and mat it on the background card stock. Trim the second pattern to create a left hand border. Both of these pieces can be matted on the coordinating card stock.

Then add a large image overlapping the border. The sentiment should be matted on a coordinating color and placed in the upper right corner to balance the layout.

10 Reasons I Love My Library

If it was up to me, I would live at the library. No chores, no responsibility, no work - just books. Lots and lots of books. That’s my definition of heaven on earth right there. Books.

I remember the day that I moved up to the adult book section from the Children’s Room at our library. I had been reading since I was 3 years old, so I was still in elementary school when the world of the second floor opened up to me. I’ve been there ever since.

Here are just a few of the many reasons I love our library. What are yours?

1. The wide variety of titles, from classics to new releases.
2. Reading areas to burrow into.

3. The architecture and history that goes with a Carnegie Library.

4. Amazing, knowledgeable librarians.

5. Library patrons have access to music, magazines and databases on the library's website.

6. Writing groups for all ages.

7. They have weekly and monthly book clubs on a variety of themes.

8. The History Room, where you can do family genealogy and in-depth historical re…

Here’s What Happens When Teens Play Silly Games...

Our youth group time on Wednesday nights is divided into three parts: activity/game/catch-up time, the song service upstairs and our lesson for the evening. We’ve set it up this way on purpose so the teens (and Danny and I) can unwind for the first 45 minutes, sing and get our hearts focused on God and then have our Bible lesson.

So, as you can guess, the first portion of our evening together can be pretty hilarious. A room full of teenagers who’ve been at school all day makes for some memorable moments.

One of my favorites is a game we saw all over the Internet called Don’t Eat Pete. The idea is that you have candy lined up on a grid and one of them is named Pete. One teen leaves the room and the remaining ones bestow the title of Pete on an unsuspecting piece of candy. When the player comes back in, he can eat every candy on the grid except Pete - only he doesn’t know which one is Pete!

The strategy is to give false clues, make him question his choices and generally be a disruption…

Avocado Shrimp Cup Appetizers

What do you make when you have a bag of shrimp in the freezer and an avocado in your pantry? Avocado shrimp bites, that’s what!

A little bit of shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream and a whole-grain chip is all you need to dress up the main ingredients and create a cute little appetizer that packs a flavorful punch.

2 Tbsp olive oil
12 large shrimp, peeled and devained
1 avocado, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup shredded Colby jack cheese
12 whole-grain scoop chips
Old Bay seasoning

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small skillet, heat olive oil and add shrimp. Sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning and stir until pink and heated through.

3. Line up chips on a baking sheet. Place a small dollop of sour cream in the bottom of each chip.

4. Layer cheese, avocado and shrimp into chip. Sprinkle with Old Bay to taste.

5. Place baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees, until heated through and melted. Serve immediately.

Words For Wednesday


5 Things To Remember When Taking Winter Photographs

If you know anything about Iowa weather, you know that this winter has been especially brutal. While we’ve been spoiled over the past few years, the cold settled in for several months and hammered away. It was a good time to hibernate, for sure.

The truth is, it’s probably not over yet. Our region’s forecast is notoriously cold in February and March, and we’ve even been known to have snow in April. But I’m sure you don’t need that reminder.

One of the blessings of the season, though, is the stunning winter photography that results from an arctic blast. I work in a building with walls of windows, many of which I can see from my office. I enjoy a sunny day like everyone else, but there’s something about freshly fallen snow that makes me inordinately happy.

So how can you make your winter photos shine during the next bout of winter weather? Start here:

* Know when the next snowfall will arrive and be ready. Have your camera cleaned and handy, and have extra batteries on hand as they wil…