Showing posts from February, 2019

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…

Here’s Exactly What The Lord Requires Of You

Have you ever wished God would just sit down next to you and tell you how you’re supposed to handle a certain situation? That He would spell out “Do this, this and this, then that and that” so you wouldn’t make a wrong choice?

When the people of Israel had finished wandering in the desert for 40 years, they were ready for some direct instructions - although they ignored all God’s directions before. Moses shared God’s very specific, very simple commands for how they were to live from this moment on.

And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, To keep the commandments of the LORD and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Deuteronomy 10:12-13

While these were commands specifically for the Israelites, we can still apply the truths of them to our lives today.
Fear the Lord: Stand in awe of the Lord and reverence H…

Sunday Sketches

Here’s one last look at Valentine’s Day before we work our way into spring. I can’t remember how long it’s been since I made this card, but I love its simplicity and its general cute factor.

I hand-stamped the background paper, the large heart and the kitty image, then colored all of them with colored pencil. Then I wrapped the corners with what is possibly my favorite fiber of all time. It’s the tiniest of cotton balls on white thread. Adorable!
So for your sketch today, you can use decorator paper matted on top of card stock, or you can use only decorator paper the way I did. Stamp it yourself or find a beautiful pattern that you’re absolutely in love with.

You’ll need two images and a sentiment. Coordinate their colors and themes, and layer them in the middle of the card. My sentiment was already in the large image, so that’s a couple of bonus points for me.

Then choose a fun fiber for the corner wraps. Secure them to the back of the decorator paper before you adhere the paper to …

You’re Not A Train, But Your Engineer Is Still In Control

The train tracks run right through the middle of town, parallel to the river itself. You can hear the whistle blow from anywhere you are. Passenger trains, coal trains, box cars carrying things from one coast of America to the other - they go through Ottumwa every single day.

Once you figure out the train schedule, you know when you can and when you can’t cross from the north side of town to the south. If you don’t time it right, you’ll be stuck sitting at the crossing, waiting for the long string of train cars to end. Count them if you like, but it won’t make them move by any faster.

If you take a look at the steel rails the train rides on, they’re strong and they’re metal and they’re made to last. They don’t allow for any deviation from the course because that’s how trains derail and destroy. The purpose of those tracks is to hold the train in exactly the place the engineer wants it to go.

Life lesson: You are not a train.

Common sense, I know. If you are reading this, you are not …

My Husband, The Bullrider

I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since the Bullriders of America Finals competition. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year, and we had so much fun this year. We volunteered to help with the kids’ activities Friday night, which meant Danny got to help run the bucking bull ride. Talk about a workout!

As always, the cowboy breakfast was amazing. Chef Bob Newell at Bridge View Center creates the most wonderful menus and amazing dishes. New this year was Breakfast with the Bulls. Tables right next to the arena gave us an up close and personal view. Luckily all the dirt he threw over the fence went into the stands and not onto our plates.

From the first year the BOA held their finals in Ottumwa, the cowboys have always been so gracious to their fans. They take time during their competition days to say hello, answers everyone's questions and be available for media, photos and autographs. That means a lot, knowing the pressure they're under to compete each night.


Happy Valentine’s Day!


Words For Wednesday


DIY Eraser Valentines

If you're looking for a fun, last-minute craft for a class or group, make these adorable little Valentines with just three supplies and a little adhesive. 

To make these cute cards, all you need are some love-themed erasers, self-stick hearts and some scraps colored paper.

Cut two pieces of card stock - one slightly larger than the heart and the other slightly larger than the first piece.

Then use double stick tape to adhere them all together. The tape is strong enough to keep them together, but not too strong that you can't get the eraser off. Make a set of these and have fun passing them out to everyone you see!

Combine National Friendship Day And Valentine’s Day!

Love isn't reserved for one day each year, and it's definitely not saved for that one special person. Love is a gift that comes directly from the lord Himself, and all those amazing people in our lives can share in that blessing when we're willing to share it around.

Today is National Friendship Day, and there is no better time to celebrate our amazing friends that the week of Valentine's Day.

One of my favorite stories about friendship is found in 1 Samuel. From the moment David and Jonathan met, their hearts were knit together. They fought for each other, protected one another and stayed friends through some incredibly difficult times. And when the moment came to save David's life, Jonathan was right there in the thick of things.

King Saul, Jonathan's father, knew David had been anointed king, and he hated David for it. After attempting to kill David several times, Jonathan knew he had to get David out of the kingdom. Pretending to be out for target practice…

Sunday Sketches

One of my favorite projects I do for Stuff From Trees is creating custom orders. It's such a blessing that people trust me to take their special Scriptures and turn them into one-of-a-kind handmade cards. This sketch came from my latest custom order.

I absolutely adore this flowered paper, but the pattern was so big that it needed a larger sentiment that wouldn't get lost on it. Tiny, contrasting accents in the corners were all the card needed to stand out in every way.
Ready to use the sketch for a card of your own? Cut a patterned paper slightly smaller than your card and tilt it corner to corner. Mat the sentiment on a coordinating color and adhere it in the center.

For embellishments, choose something small that will stand out from the patterns and the color combination. It doesn't have to be bright and busy to pack a punch.

Like what you see here? Get more inspiration and fall in love with our handmade cards and gifts in our Etsy shop. When you make this card for you…

Don’t Stress Over Stuff This Valentine’s Day

Have you racked your brain, spent hours doing research or wandered the stores aimlessly looking for ... a Valentine's Day gift for your husband?

It may sound a little far fetched, but sometimes find that special something for your special man can be difficult. He gets himself things he wants, some gifts are way out of your price range and nothing just screams "He'll love this!" It's frustrating, right?

Here's my foolproof solution to the gift problem: don't get a gift.

Before you shake your head and walk away, hear me out. Does your husband really need more stuff? Do you have a copious amount of space to store this stuff? Does he need another 3-in-1 whateverthatthingis? My guess is that the answer to all three of these questions was NO.

So what do you do instead? You don't want to pretend like it's not a special day or just gloss over it. In fact, my suggestion is quite the opposite.

Don't buy stuff - collect experiences.

Instead of going out…

Puppy Love Really Is An Actual Thing

Our twin babies spend all day, every day together. When they're crated, they're crated together. When they sleep, they sleep together. When they eat, they eat together. When they get the idea. You'd think puppy love would wear off after a year and a half, but they can't stand to be apart. Even when they can't stand each other.

This puppy love spills over to their big sister. Yes, she can be a bit bossy, but the puppies love to be around her. They clean her ears while she tries to sleep, they cuddle close when they can and they follow her from room to room. I'm sure they're taking mental notes of some kind, keeping track of what she's doing. 

It's always the two of them. For some reason, I think Callie was the runt of the litter. I think she stays as close as she can to her brother because he's the only constant in her life. They had been in a couple of homes before they came to us, but he was always right there beside her.

Even when…

You Too Can Make Tons Of Tiny Valentines

Don't you dare go to the store and spend money on Valentines. Just stop. Right now. Grab a few of your paper craft supplies and make something special, handmade and totally you. 

The best part of making your own cards is you can use up the extra, spare, overstock and leftover bits and pieces you have saved up. Remember when you said you'd keep that because you might need it some day? Well, today is that day. Yay!

Make your cards tiny, using the card stock you cut down for another project. Make them with some paper that just doesn't go with anything else. Use up part of your sticker collection. Part with some tiny die cuts. Be ruthless and make someone else happy at the same time. Add you personal, hand-written message inside and you're sure to make someone's day so much brighter.

Words For Wednesday


Strawberry Valentine’s Day Cake

Valentine’s Day-themed treats don’t have to take tons of work and loads of time to create. The right flavors, colors and decorations can make all the difference in whether you actually make a recipe and then want to share it with those you love.

So, for example, take a fun twist like this soda pop-inspired cake and make it all lovey dovey. You might be surprised by the number of recipes you already have that could be romantic with just a little tweak here or there.

1 box strawberry cake mix
12 oz Sprite
1 can strawberry frosting
1 package of love-themed cake decorations
(Yep, that’s really it.)

1. Combine the cake mix and the Sprite and stir until combined and smooth. Pour into a 9x13 baking pan.

2. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

3. Cool completely. Frost and add sprinkles or other decoration as you see fit.

I wish there was more to this recipe, but that’s really all there is to it. What recipe are you going to have fun with next?

Love Is Shaped Like A Cross

When many of us think of the love of God, this is the first Scripture that comes to mind:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have every lasting life. John 3:16

And this is one of the most amazing verses in the entire Bible. It encompasses the entire gospel in just a few words, and it quite simply shares the depth of God’s love for us.

Digging deeper in the New Testament, though, we find dozens of passages that detail the love of Christ.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. John 15:9

Reading Jesus’ own words, I am struck by His command of the way we are to love. His love for us and in us is to force its way outward to everyone we come into contact with. As Jesus loved us, we are to love others. This gives us no excuses or grumbling - if we love as He loves, those people will see Jesus living through us.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him t…

Sunday Sketches

One of my favorite things about sharing these Sunday Sketches with you is that I get to do some playing around of my own. So often I use the same layouts over and over, but having a weekly post like this gets my creative juices going.

So this week's card is the result of just such a challenge. I combined some great denim paper with the cutes little chickens you've ever seen. Three special things about this card: the center banner is raised on 3D adhesive, the images are encircled with punched shapes and it's accented with acrylic dots. Too cute!

For today's sketch, you'll need two different papers, three images and a handful of embellishments. Combine coordinating patterns to make them stand out, and attaching the center banner on 3D adhesive will give it some extra dimension.

Punch out your  circles, then trim your images to fit. You could also alternate patterned paper if you only have one or two images small enough. And there's no wrong way to use embellishm…

Valentine’s Day Flower Arrangement From Dollar Store Supplies

If you were to do a thorough investigation of our downstairs hall closet, you would be amazed at the bags of flowers, tablecloths, garland, die cut images and other miscellaneous bits you'd find there. Most of the collections are from church bulletin boards in years past, but they're useful for those days I get the whim to make a centerpiece like this one.

From two such bags I cabbaged a few stems of valentine-looking flowers, a bag full of heart picks and a block of floral foam. We have a boatload of tissue paper, and I reuse the votive holders and wood tray for so many different projects.

I started by cutting three blocks of floral foam just smaller than the votive holders. Then I wrapped them in tissue paper so the green wouldn't show.

The three largest flowers became the foundation for the arrangement. I had to trim the stems fairly short since the votives are so shallow.

Then I spaced the flowers evenly throughout the remaining space and tucked the hearts into he ope…