Showing posts from January, 2019

28 Reasons We Love Ottumwa Instagram Campaign

Have you ever lived in Ottumwa, been to Ottumwa, know someone who lives in Ottumwa, been through Ottumwa or heard of Ottumwa?

That’s a long, drawn-out question, right? What I really want to know is, do you have pictures of the people, places and events of the Ottumwa community? They don’t have to be current - they could be from last week, last year or a few decades ago.

You do? Awesome! You can help the Greater Ottumwa Convention and Visitors Bureau put together an amazing digital photo album of what life is like in our community.

The CVB will be sending Love Notes to Ottumwa during our 28 Reasons We Love Ottumwa Instagram  Campaign. Using the hashtags in the picture above, we’ll post a picture featuring the businesses, special events and great people who live here, have lived here and have visited us. By the end of February, we’ll have an online collection of photographs that show Ottumwa from a variety of viewpoints and perspectives. Not only will it be fun for Ottumwans to have ph…

Words For Wednesday


Rocky Road Fudge

One of our favorite food memories was when we made our own Rocky Road ice cream. We had so much fun mixing it up, but the best part was eating it together. That memory is the inspiration for this amazing fudge!
With just five ingredients and 20 minutes of your time, you’ll have a sticky, gooey pan of sweet goodness. Feel free to share it with someone you love ... but you don’t have to. 
Ingredients:  12 large marshmallows 1/2 cup butter 2 bars baking chocolate 1 Tbsp vanilla 2/3 cup peanuts, divided
1. Line a square baking dish with wax paper.
2. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan.
3. While the butter melts, cut the marshmallows in fourths. This is a sticky job, but someone has to do it. Run warm water over a pair of kitchen scissors and have at it. Fill the bottom of the baking dish with marshmallow.
4. When the butter is melted, add in the chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vanilla. Then stir in 1/2 cup of the peanuts.
6. Pour the…

What Has God Given? A Word Study

As a woman addicted to words, Bible study is fascinating to me. You can choose just about any word that means something to you, do a search in your Bible program or concordance and then sit in awe as you read how they’re alll interconnected. God’s word truly is quick and powerful.

Let me show you what I mean, and I pray it will encourage you to do a study of your own. The word I chose for today is “give.” I did a search of the word give in all its forms: give, given, giveth, gave ... and here are just a few of the uses I found.

* God gives us the Holy Spirit - John 3:34
* God gives us life - John 6:33
* God gives us peace - John 14:27
* God gives us the increase - 1 Corinthians 3:7
* God gives us the victory - 1 Corinthians 15:57
* God gives us things to enjoy - 1 Timothy 6:17
* God gives us grace upon grace - James 4:6
* God gives us our abilities - 1 Peter 4:11
* And one day, God will give us His light in heaven, and there will be no need for the sun, moon and stars.

If you’ve neve…

Sunday Sketches

I've often said that I don't want people to remember the words that I write - I want them to remember God's words and take them to heart. That's the sole purpose behind this card layout. Scripture goes front and center.

For my card, I used three colors of card stock and a piece of coordinating decorator paper. The vellum phrase is matted twice and accented with acrylic dots.

Ready to try this sketch for yourself? Start with a large, bold sentiment and make it the centerpiece of your card. A simple pattern behind it will accent the phrase without taking away from its impact.

The embellishments should be fairly subdued, too. Choose some coordinating colors or something small that will fit in the open spaces of the layout.

Want more inspiration or to make this card your own? Come visit out Etsy shop, and you'll find paper crafts and wood gifts in all shapes and sizes.

After The Snow Comes The Plow

With two rounds of heavy snow in southern Iowa, Danny has spent quite a bit of time on the tractor. Without the plow blade on the front, we would never get up and down our driveway, which is just over 1/10th of a mile long. He does amazing work, and I am so appreciative of all he does.

Looking from the bottom of the driveway up, you can see why snow and ice are a problem. Danny's truck climbs really well, but my little Ford Focus has some trouble getting traction on the curve. I feel like a race car driver, trying to drift my way up.

Down toward the highway the piles get bigger. Gravity helps with that for obvious reasons, as it's easier for Danny to push the snow down instead of up. He let me pull the tractor out of the garage the other day. I'm hoping he'll let me plow a little someday soon. We'll see...

And the sun makes it look deceptively warm. It's absolutely beautiful reflecting off the snow, but it's still incredibly cold. I like to think there'…

A Trip Back In Time

As part of my job at the Convention & Visitors Bureau, I get to take tours of some amazing places in town and meet some wonderful people. This week the new director of the Wapello County Historical Museum took me through their building to see some of the new exhibits they're planning and working on.

Some displays and pieces I remember from the numerous times I toured the museum as a child. For obvious reasons, I fell in love with the piano and the stacks of sheet music.

But there are also some mysterious pieces in many of the rooms. For example, do you know what this is? We posted a picture of it on the CVB Facebook page and asked for guesses. We got so many fun responses, like a water heater, a street lamp and "no idea." It's actually an Icyball made by the Crosby Radio Company. Through chemical reaction, it could be put in an insulated chest and used to chill perishable food. No, history is definitely not boring.

One of the newest additions at the museum is th…

Slow Cooker Italian Chicken

Now that we’re juggling two work schedules in our home, having meals ready can be a challenge. It doesn’t help that both schedules can change during the day, and sometimes our time at home just overlaps a little.

That’s why the slow cooker is one of our best friends. This chicken, made with just two other ingredients, fits in so perfectly here. Serve it on top of salad, or with rice and veggies. Either way, it’s totally worth adding to your weekly menu.

2 pounds frozen chicken breasts
1 red pepper, diced
1 jar pasta sauce (I used garden)

1. Set the slow cooker on low. Spray the inside with nonstick spray.

2. Layer the chicken in the slow cooker. Top with diced pepper and pour pasta sauce over everything.

3. Put the lid on and you’re done! Leave it in there for about 4 hours and then enjoy!

Words For Wednesday


Faith Charm Tassels

At our youth group gathering last weekend, one of our girls and I made these adorable charm tassels. Keep scrolling to see how to make one of your own.

Start by wrapping embroidery floss around the largest part of your hand. You'll want to use the entire skein, so have a second one handy.

Carefully remove the floss from your hand and lay it on the table. Cut a long piece of floss from he second skein and slip it through your loop of floss.  Then tie it in a double knot.

After you've knotted the long piece of floss, cut the bottom part of the loop to make the tassel-y part of the tassel.

Cut another long piece of floss to wrap around the tassel to hold it together.

Double knot it tightly against the tassel. 

Add the charm and double knot the floss again. Now you can trim the ends the same length as the tassel and they'll blend right in.

And lastly, trim all the ends so they're even. You can add a ring or a clip to the top, or you can just use the thread to tie it in pl…

The Bible: Living And Breathing

You’ve no doubt heard it said that the Bible is a living, breathing book, but you can’t fully believe that until you experience it for yourself.

When you use a reading plan to read the Bible through in a year, you’re reading the same passages at the same time you did a year ago. The difference, though, is your spiritual growth since then. You definitely aren’t the same person you were 12 months ago, and the Bible isn’t either.

The Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture that we need today. A verse or passage you read last year ddidn’t stand out because your heart didn’t need it then. That’s why we joke that this verse wasn’t in my Bible the last time I read it!

This happpened to me last weeekend when I read this passage in Exodus 13 about the seven days of unleavened bread. Moses told the people that when their children asked them why they have this tradition, that they were to remind the younger generation of how God brought them out of Egypt. It was a memorial, and honoring of the Lord b…

Sunday Sketches

Everyone likes things that can be used for multiple purposes. This card layout can be made two different ways from the same sketch. One is the way it's shown here, with everything attached to the front of the card. The other is to only attach the right side of the circle image to the right piece of decorator paper. Then you can make the wrap-around fold out like hinges.

For my card, I started with pink card stock and matted white card stock on top. The rub-on phrase in the bottom corner determined the size of the decorator paper panels above it.

The 3D postage stamp embellishment is centered in two circles of card stock and attached to the decorator paper panels.

Ready to make your own cards from this sketch? Start with the two-color background. Then add your sentiment so you know exactly how wide your decorator paper panels can be.

Want to make the panels fold out like a gate? Only attach them on the outside and give them a good crease. Adhere the circle embellishment on one side…

Frightful Weather, Delightful Icicles

The recent snowstorms have been difficult to weather (see what I did there...), but the results have been some amazingly beautiful icicles. Here are a few pictures from around the property I just had to share with you today.

When Your Puppy Just Won’t Grow Up

The babies are a year and a half old now, but they sure don't act like it. We try to remind ourselves that our practically perfect Molly dog (uh huh) took a while to grow up, too. But I don't remember her goofing off in the bathroom while I got ready in the morning.

This is what we call "spring butt mode." They never lay all the way down but keep their backends up in the air. This way they can take off at jet speed at a moment's notice. And they're so fast. I think Callie broke the sound barrier the other day.

For a few days we tried leaving them out of their crate while we were gone for a few hours. We thought being a year and a half old they were ready ... but they're not. After directing part of the footstool, they turned on their own bed. Don't let that innocent look fool you - Diesel was the instigator, I'm sure. So now they don't get to have a bed in the living room and they don't get to be out alone for a while.

But then, at the en…

Explain Your Faith Story Bag

Have you ever put together a story bag? You find a multitude of little bits from around the house and put them in a bag. Then you get a group together and make up a story. Each person gets to add a few sentences to the story.

As the next person begins their portion of the story, they have to close their eyes and pick a single object from the bag. Their story addition has to include that item somehow, somewhere.

This is a great activity for a group of kids, letting them use their creativity and giving them a little inspiration along the way. You’re not directing them in any certain direction, just helping them think of things they might not have considered before.

That’s the idea behind the Explain Your Faith Story Bag. Perfect for the teens in our youth group, the bag is filled with sometimes random, sometimes purposeful items. As you can see in the picture above, some of them are specifically spiritual, while others can have spiritual applications.

Now, with the youth passing the ba…

Words For Wednesday


They Sent The Email, I Tried The Recipes

Every day I get recipes from Pillsbury and Better Crocker in my email inbox. I am not affiliated with either company, I just love their recipes. I've tried several of their newest recipes since the first of the year and they were all a huge hit. When I read about Pulled Pork Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, I knew that was a keeper. 

The Italian Meatball Crescent Buns were a little time and labor intensive, but they were SO good. We'll be making this one again, for sure.

And most recently, we made the Poblano Shrimp Flatbread. I adjusted a few of the ingredients to suit our taste, but we ate the whole flatbread in one sitting. This recipe works no matter what you love to put on it.
I encourage you to stretch your cooking wings this week and find at least one new recipe to try. Signing up for a food company's email is a great way to get recipes, or you can look on social media while you're there. Just be adventurous!

The Power Of Prayer

In the past week I’ve taught two lessons - one with the youth group and one with our junior Sunday school class - about the power of prayer. It’s been an amazing time of study for me because I always feel like I need to be prepared for any and all potential questions.

They are kids, after all.

With the teens, we had them use the Bible programs on their phones to look up any time Jesus prayed or talked about prayer. They wrote down the verses they thought were most important, and then got back together as a group. We went around the circle and told them to choose one verse (or passage) and explain how Jesus is our example for how, when, where and what to pray.

So many questions came from these mini lessons, and afterwards they said it was one of the best times they’d ever had at church. Any time they actively participate, especially when they are leading the lessons themselves, they give it a huge thumbs up. Now we have to study even more, since we know they have all these questions s…

Sunday Sketches

Do you have card stock? Oh my, yes.
How about decorator paper? Check.
Got fibers? Yes.
And tiny embellishments? Of course.
Then you can put together an adorable, 3D layout this week.

I made this magnet from today’s sketch, and it’s so cute. Coordinating paper helps when you want to match colors, but get creative and add in some shades and hues that you might not normally use.
When you tackle this week’s sketch, put your card stock and decorator paper background together first. Then make the ENTIRE rest of the card before tacking it down to the background. This will allow for you to wrap and tack ribbon the back easily.

The side border is one of my favorite parts of this sketch. If you use a patterned paper, you can add some accents to it, and you will have several color options to play with. Glue stuff, hang stuff and wrap stuff. Stuff is good, and the sentiment will be accented with all these lovely bits of goodness.

As The Sun Slowly Sets...

Driving home to Ottumwa from Iowa City this week, we were treated to an amazing sunset. The photos don’t do it justice, but I just had to share them with you.

The closer we got to home, the deeper the pinks and oranges turned. I felt bad for the drivers who could only see it in their review mirrors.

This is another one of those reason we love living in Iowa. It doesn’t get any prettier than this.