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Words For Wednesday

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A DIY Gift Box Made To Order

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When individuals and organizations come to our office asking for donations for their events, we love to help. We may not be able to donate money or large-ticket items, but we’re glad to give as much swag as we can. But when we were recently asked to help put together a gift basket for the grand prize of a contest, I said yes immediately. Pictured here is the end result of several local businesses and attractions pooling their resources for a good cause.

The only problem was that we didn’t have a basket big enough. But never fear - who needs a basket when you can make your own gift box? Our brand color at the office is teal, so we have tons of teal tissue paper. I found a box with an attached lid that was the perfect size to hold the American Gothic puzzle and wrapped it with the paper. (Yes, the American Gothic House and Center are just a few minutes away from here.)

It takes some taping and a little cutting to make it work, so I had to be more patient than I normally am when I cut. …

You Will Know That God Is Lord

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Have you ever had one of those weeks when you spent more time praying than you have in a long time? You spent time talking to God about all the normal requests, but circumstances around you - and other people’s needs - brought you to your knees more often?
That’s what last week looked like for me. I was praying about a difficult relationship, specific needs in our youth group and several health problems within our church body. Being in a constant attitude of prayer took on a whole new meaning.
On days like these, it’s easy to question God’s plan and timing. Everything seemed to happen all at once, and in many cases praying was the only thing I could do about them. I know we often say prayer is the least we can do, but it is also the greatest we can do.
It’s definitely ok to question God, as long as it’s not a fist-shaking, foot-stomping demand to know what He is thinking. We have so many examples in Scripture of people taking their questions to God in a humble way and receiving an ex…

Sunday Sketch

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I couldn’t resist making a card with this adorable fox playing in the leaves. Ok, I’m pretty sure there’s a whole fox in there - his tail is cut, anyway!

None of the papers from this fall set are full sheets anymore, so I created this sketch to use smaller bits of paper. All of the, are ink distressed, as are the card stock stickers. It’s those little details that really make this card look finished.

Combining embellishments is always fun. For my card I used a card stock sticker border across the bottom, six acrylic dots and baker’s twine on the card stock sticker sentiment.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Gather up three patterned papers, one coordinating card stock, a large die cut image, a sticker border and your favorite embellishments.

Cover the card with one of the more subtle patterns, then add a mat that is one inch smaller. Tear a paper border for the left side and overlap it on top of the center frame.

Then comes the fun part. Layer your embellishments for lots of great…

Our Dog Park Adventures Of The Day

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All three of our dogs had to go to the vet's office on Friday. Molly's been licking a lot, and we needed to see if she is allergic to something. Diesel has an ear infection, which we only found out about when his sister was licking it all the time. And Callie ... she was just along for moral support. Afterwards we made a 30-minute stop at the dog park!

When we pulled into the parking lot, a couple in a truck were taking two tiny yippy dogs into one side of the park. So I pulled into the large dog area and unloaded our three big dogs from the car. The first thing the man asked me was how I got all three of them into my little Ford Focus. My response was, very carefully. They were chomping at the bit so I quickly opened the gates so they could run. They didn't want to play or sniff or talk to the other puppies - they just wanted to run off all that pent-up energy.

But then two more people were walking on the trail behind the dog park with their dog off leash. He came tearin…

Garlic Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks

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Chicken has always been one of my comfort foods, and I’ve always been a huge fan of dark meat. Whenever we eat out and they have chicken, I pick through the pile to find the legs. Silly, I know, but those drumsticks make me happy.

So when we had a package of chicken drumsticks in our most recent Butcher Box, I adapted one of my favorite baked chicken recipes to make the most perfect garlic Sriracha chicken legs!

Ingredients:
10-12 chicken drumsticks
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place chicken in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add ingredients in the order listed above.

3. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip chicken and return to oven for 15 minutes. Flip chicken a second time and return to oven for 15 minutes. Flip chicken one last time and return to oven for 10 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and serve immediately with veggies and fruit.

What Can You Do On The National Day Of Encouragement?

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We all need a little encouragement every now and then. It might be a tough day, a sudden complication or an illness. Or maybe someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, a terrible home life or a serious diagnosis.

What can you do to be an encouragement?

That’s the question many of us will be asking today - the National Day of Encouragement.

This shouldn’t be a one-day-a-year occurrence for Christian women, though. We’re called to edify and lift one another up every change we have. Is that what you’re thinking about when you’re going about your everyday life?

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

So how can you be an encouragement today ... and every day to come?

1. Does someone you know make your life better just because they’re in it? Tell them!

2. Say hello to a complete stranger. Smiling makes this even more effective.

3. Ask someone how they’…

Words For Wednesday

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Five Cards From One Sheet Of Card Stock

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It may not be officially fall yet, but it’s definitely time to work on autumn crafts! This adorable card, tag and bookmark set is my latest project using some of my favorite fall finds!

Sets like this are my favorite way to use an entire piece of 8.5x11-inch piece of card stock. I need a 4.5x6.25 inch card, so I cut 6.25 inches off the left side of the paper, which gives me a big strip and a little strip. Then I cut 2 inches off the large piece, which gives me the card and a 2x6.25-inch bookmark. The short strip is cut at 4.5 inches and 9 inches. This makes two 2.25-inch square note cards and a 2x2.25-inch tag.

Seeing them decorated helps all those numbers make sense. It only took a few times cutting these dimensions to have them memorized and you can do them in your sleep. (Yes, some days I actually cut them in my sleep...) It’s a fun set, especially when you coordinate them all like this! Head to our Etsy shop to see more cards and wood gifts - you’ll get more inspiration, plus fin…

Renew Conference: A September Favorite

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Over the past three years, the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp Women’s Renew Conference has been one of the highlights of my year. It’s two days of Bible study, workshops, fellowship, food and outdoor adventures - and it renews me heart and soul.


This year’s theme was It’s All About Who? Instead of making everything about us, we were called to put the focus back where it belongs, which is on Christ alone. In these days of hustle and bustle and looking for comfort and trying to excel at life, we often forget that the way we live has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the Lord Himself.

As always, we had an amazing time as friends and sisters in Christ. I love our conversations in the church van and planning how we’re going to accomplish every single thing on the agenda for the weekend. And of course, that means the pallet maze! Our arch nemesis from last year, we defeated it in record time this year, finding all four corners and both bridges in less than half an hour. Take that,…

Sunday Sketch

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Is it getting cooler where you live? It sure is here in southern Iowa, which means it’s the perfect time for fall crafts. That’s the inspiration behind today’s sketch!

The die cut I used for the majority of my background had these three words staggered across the center. It’s exactly what I would have done if I was creating the embellishments from scratch, so I was able to use it just like it is.

The rest of the images are three-dimensional. The leaf ribbons are made from textured fabric, the acrylic dots have some height to them and the adorable little fox is made from a card stock sticker, so it has some dimension to it as well. Staggering them all across the sentiment blocks balances out the card design and makes it so much fun to look at!

Ready to make this sketch your own? You’ll need one color of card stock for your background and a dark ink pad to distress the edges. Then add a patterned paper and whatever you choose to use for your staggered sentiments.

From there, add some d…

Why I Love Teaching At Our Church

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For some reason, our teens love art more than anything else. They enjoy lessons that have coloring pages with them. They color, doodle and create while we talk about some pretty heavy subjects. And they seem to retain information better when there is something art-centered to do while they listen and share. 

Which brings us to this week’s lessons. They were told to choose any pages they wanted to from several activity books, but on one condition - they had to be able to tell the Bible story that activity was referring to when they were done.
The page I chose was from the creation story in Genesis 1. First, a disclaimer: Danny is the artist in our house. He can draw anything in realistic detail. I, on the other hand, was not given drawing talent in that way. That’s why my drawings look like this. Those are fish at the top, swimming with an octopus, a star fish and a sea horse (not to be mistaken for an underwater duck). The bottom one has a cat and a dog with a spider, a rock and two …

Living Your Faith In The Workplace

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It’s not always easy to share your faith in the workplace. Some companies frown on spiritual talk, while other offices are filled with multiple beliefs and religions. The coworkers around you may be open to conversations about faith and God, but there are even more who are completely unreceptive.

We may often feel like we’re not able to share our faith or discuss our relationship with God when we’re at work, but it is vitally important that we live for Him no matter what our job title or workplace situation.
And how can we do that? Try to incorporate at least one of these ideas into your work week and see how God can use you for His glory while you simply do your job.
* Meditate on Scripture. Choose a verse or two from your daily devotions and go over them all day. Write them out, study them and repeat them frequently in between tasks.
* Stay joyful and wait for someone else to start the conversation. People will see the difference in you and your attitude and want to know how you do…

Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Roast

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Our Butcher Box subscription has been the most amazing investment we’ve made in our health in a very long time. Their grass-fed meat is probably the best meat we’ve ever had, and having it come right to our door every month is so convenient.

In a recent box, we received a 2.5-pound beef bottom roast, and the ideas started whirling. The fun part of this subscription box is that you never know exactly what cuts they’ll be sending. It’s kind of like a mystery road trip - someone else sets up your itinerary and you just sit back for the ride!

The recipe and timing is so simple. Turn your slow cooker on high and put just enough BBQ sauce in to cover the bottom of the cooker. Place the meat in fat side up. Add the remaining BBQ sauce to cover it. Then add 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce and 1/8 cup honey on top. Cover and let it cook on high for 1 hour. Turn it down to low for an additional 6-7 hours or until the meat falls apart when you touch it.

At this point, I usually shred the meat with…

Words For Wednesday

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How Can I Use This Giant Paper Punch?

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One of my favorite things about fall is the leaves on the trees. They’re turning colors already, and they’re going to be an explosion of colors soon. I even love the sound of them as they rustle in the wind. I’m telling you, just take me to the trees and I’ll be happy.

So it should be obvious that my favorite paper punch in the entire craft room is a giant leaf. I can use it in spring with all the shades of green, but it’s just not the same. I would much rather use it in fall when it can create a rainbow of autumn colors.

Here are just a few ways I use this large punch. If you have one in another shape, you can use it in much the same way.

* Punch solid colors and ink-distress the edges for a worn look.

* Punch patterned paper that will coordinate with your background and accents.

* Tuck them behind your focal point to create a frame.

* Line them up on a strip of paper to create a themed border.

* Tie several of them together to create a 3D embellishment.

* Make decorations by layeri…

The Lord Your God...

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When Joshua knew he didn’t have much longer to live, he gathered the heads of all the tribes together and shared some important thoughts with them. I’m always amazed that in the last days of his life, Joshua only wanted to tell the people a little more about God. Of all the last words he could have said, he chose the Lord.

Once again, Scripture repeats a phrase in Chapter 21, showing that it’s an incredibly important idea. In just 16 verses, Joshua uses “the LORD your God” 13 times. Why would this phrase, of all words he could use, be repeated for Israel and now for us?

Joshua’s instructions, some of his last words on earth, took the people back to the first miracles of God they ever saw. God fought for them - the Lord their God was there. He drove out nations from before them, He gave them the land He had promised them, He defeated armies right before their eyes. This doesn’t happen when men are in charge, but only when the Lord Himself fights for you.

The warnings were the same: cl…

Sunday Sketch

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Raise your hand if you’re ready for fall! Mine went up, just in case you didn’t see it. I’m a sweater-scarf-falling-leaves kind of girl, and I admit it proudly.

That’s why the cards and journals I’m working on right now are all covered in plaid and leaves and all the images that make you think of autumn. Today’s sketch is from one of those journals, and it can easily be adapted to a card or a scrapbook page.

The two center panels and the background pattern are from the same set, making them automatically coordinated. I’m all for projects that help me not think. A textured leaf ribbon runs down one side as a one-of-a-kind border.

Overlapping accents - card stock stickers, die cuts and wood leaves - give the cover of this journal some added dimension.

Ready to make this sketch your own? You’ll need at least three coordinating decorator papers and two coordinating card stock colors. Layer them for the background of your card, matting the panels on contrasting card stock.

Next, create a …

When You Wonder If The Sun’s Still Up There

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On a cool, dreary day, the sky was covered with dark gray clouds as far as the eye could see. After almost a week of warm days and bright sunshine, the cloud cover seemed completely unnecessary.

Bright sunshine gives us warmth and energy. We feel better, think better and function better on the beautiful days. It’s easy to see the sunshine on days when the sky is clear and bright blue.

But what about on the days you’re not so sure the sun is really up there. It’s blocked out by rain clouds that are filled with thunder and lightning and rain. Hour after hour goes by, and that’s all it takes to work ourselves into a pretty good funk. Our brains convince us that this is it, it’s all over and we’ll never enjoy the sunshine ever again. (Yes, our brains can be pretty dramatic.)

(For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 2 Corinthians 5:7

This verse is from Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth, and he was making the point that death itself shouldn’t cause terror or dread in the heart of a…

Propagating Stretched-Out Succulents

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Succulents are one of my favorite things. It’s as simple as that. There’s something about them that just makes me smile. And coming from someone who once killed a cactus, that’s saying a lot. When I brought some hen and chicks plants in a few months ago, they were lacking sunlight so they stretched out. They looked so silly that I decided to propagate them in new containers.

It’s fairly simple to propagate a succulent, which simply means you’re cutting up the old plant to make several new ones. If you take the leaves off a succulent and place them on top of nutrient-rich soil, they’ll grow new roots in a matter of days. You just have to keep them well watered and in good sunlight.

So I started roots in about 200 tiny succulent leaves and cut the tops off half a dozen of the stretched out plants. They’re all doing amazing well, especially after I planted them in fresh soil specific for succulents. The leaves that haven’t rooted yet are in a separate dish, and I’m looking forward to ge…

Words For Wednesday

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Fall Mini Journals Upcycled From Dollar Store Notebooks

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I am SO ready for fall! For the last couple of year’s we’ve been cheated out of the actual spring and fall seasons, which is completely unfair. I’m a sweaters-scarves-and-coffee kind of girl, so I plan to cherish every moment of this year’s autumn. And I got a head start by creating some adorable little notebooks this weekend.


They started out as plain little note pads from the dollar store, but I could totally see their potential. I also love that they have their own pens attached. So cool!


The first step for all of them was to cut two patterned papers as mats for the background. I found a fall paper pack that I fell in love with last week, and they were the perfect colors to coordinate with the three journal covers.


And then comes the fun part - embellishments! The paper pack had a sheet of card stock stickers in it, so all I had to add were the wood leaves and the acrylic dots. It was so much fun - and quite motivational - to be able to complete a fun, quick project like this.


The…

What Goes Up Definitely Comes Down

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On our way home from Louisiana last week, we stopped in Branson for a day. It was an amazing end to a great vacation week, and we had some much-needed relaxation time. And I got to do something I’ve always wanted to do - zip line!

The zip line we chose starts right underneath the observation deck at Inspiration Point. It’s about half a mile long, and you end up going about 50 miles an hour once you get underway.

I had zip lined once before, at our yearly ladies meeting in Ventura, Iowa. For that one, though, it’s just a harness instead of a seat like this one, and you have to step off all by yourself. I ended up sitting down on the platform and scootching off the edge. Whatever works, right.

On last week’s zip line, we were all fastened in at the gate, then the doors sprang open and we were on our way. I only screamed for a moment, and then I laughed the rest of the way down. It was absolutely amazing! The view was incredible, and going so fast was exhilarating. It was even fun to be…

Sunday Sketch

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One of my favorite things about creating handmade cards is finding fun color combinations. Today’s sketch is a result of putting together some very vibrant colors and building the card around them.

Each component of this sketch is incredibly important. I started with the two patterned papers and then coordinated the two solid card stock colors for the matted background. Thank goodness for a huge box full of scrap card stock!

I knew I wanted to use the vellum sentiment with these specific patterned papers, so that was a no-brainer, plus it is just adorable with its washi tape. Then, just for the fun of it, I pulled out this huge pink flower die cut. I love the way the pink and yellow matched up. And then I finished it off with glittered acrylic dots to fill in the open spaces.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with a card stock base and then layer on two colors of solid card stock. Then cut blocks of two patterned papers to go in two opposite corners.

Now comes the fun part - …