Showing posts from July, 2019

Words For Wednesday


Creamy Blackberry Dessert Dip

Nothing says summer like fresh blackberries! We have several acres of blackberry bushes on the property, and the heat of summer means they’re ripe for the harvest now. So it’s the perfect time to fill a bucket and make some amazing, fruity treats.
This cream cheese dessert dip is a sweet, cold treat that you’ll want to make again and again. With just five ingredients, most of which you already have in your pantry, all you have to do is add blackberries! Pair it with some lemon cookies for dipping, and you’ll have your summer snacking well in hand.
Ingredients: 8 oz cream cheese 3 Tbsp sugar 1 Tbsp cinnamon 1 Tbsp vanilla 1 cup fresh blackberries
1. Using a stand mixer, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
2. Add sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat until smooth and creamy.
3. On low speed, mix in blackberries until the mixture is purple and the berries are mostly broken down.
4. Serve with your favorite dip-able treats. Lemon is a great pairing flavor! Refrigerate leftovers, if the…

Do I Really Believe “All Things New?”

It was 42 years ago tonight at 6:10 p.m. that I became a brand-new person in this world. It was 14 years ago in July that I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior and became a new creature in Him. July is a pretty amazing month in my book!

But do I really believe that all things are made new? Am I completely new? What part of the old person is gone, and what I am supposed to do with the new? 

In one of our recent Sunday School classes, we talked about 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new

We talked about how a caterpillar becomes an entirely new creature when it changes into a butterfly. The butterfly can’t decide it wants to go back to being a caterpillar. It doesn’t take its wings off and refuse to flutter by. It’s new, all the way to its core.

It’s easier to explain new creatures when you’re talking about butterflies because most kids have seen caterpillars, cocoons and butterflies. It…

Sunday Sketch

I am honestly and truly in love with this card. I’m not usually one to swoon over chickens, but this little girl made me smile. So she gets to be the focal point of today’s sketch!

For my card, I started the layout with the background paper, which I usually don’t do, but I loved these funky stripes. Then the chicken and flower images matched the colors in the paper and voila - everything I needed for a sweet card! This verse fit perfectly across the bottom of the card, and it’s finished off with some coordinating acrylic dots.

You’ll notice that all the papers are ink-distresssed, one of my favorite techniques for dressing up a card. Lightly and quickly swiping the edge of the paper with an ink pad will give it a little bit of color and a slightly worn look. Too much ink, though, can be a problem, so try it very lightly at first.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Gather up a patterned paper and three coordinating colors of card stock. You’ll also need two small images and a sentime…

Some Days I Feel Like A Disney Princess Out Here...

I think I know what Disney princesses feel like. You know those scenes in the movies where the birds fly across the princess’ path, the bunny rabbits throw flower petals in the air and the deer circle around her? I get that. Out here on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve, something similar happens on a daily basis.

We have so many different species of wildlife that call our property home. Right now we have about a dozen baby bunnies that dance around the yard every day. Then there are the assorted chipmunks, squirrels, beavers, otters and muskrats. Many of our young deer have gone off to find territory of their own, but we still see some around the ponds on a regular basis.

We also have more different kinds of birds than ever before. The turkeys are always around, and you could easily cross off many species from your bird book in a short walk around the property. Plus, we often have cranes, owls, eagles and other larger birds stop for a visit. You never who you’re going to meet every day!

On My Bookshelf This Week

To be totally honest with you, it’s been quite some time since I just sat down and read a book. There’s been so much to get done lately that any real reading I do is for Bible study. So that’s the majority of what’s on my bookshelf right now.

That and one of my favorite Christian novel sets. They’re the kind I can read quickly because I already know what’s going to happen. And I’ve read them so many times I could probably recite several sections word for word.

Please tell me you do that, too. Please.

So here’s what I’ve been reading lately.

* Stuck by Jennie Allen. This book and the next were great finds at Pages for Pennies, our local fundraiser for the public library, so they only cost me $1. Stuck is a study about identifying the hindrances that keep us from living the victorious lives God wants us to have. It’s eight lessons that include study questions, journal prompts and spaces to write out Scripture. Loved this one!

* Dressed To Kill by Rick Renner. This is an amazing book ab…

Words For Wednesday


Pulled Pork Nachos

When you have amazing meat in the freezer, you want to do something amazing and different with it. So when we thawed out some boneless pork loin from Butcher Box, the first thing I thought of was pulled pork nachos!

So I pulled out the slow cooker, put a little bit of barbecue sauce in the bottom, layered in the pork and covered it with more sauce. And that’s it. It cooked on high for about 5 hours and practically fell apart. That’s what I was looking for!

If you want to do something a little more hands-on, you can make the dry rub version I used for my Pulled Pork Street Tacos. It’s pretty amazing, too.

From there, you can go wild with your nacho toppings. We used smaller, bite-sized chips, shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, peach salsa and bacon crumbles. You could use any combination of these and then come up with your own favorites.

10 Ways To Fight Against Negativity

We all know that one person who never has positive, upbeat things to say. Ever. It’s not just that the glass is half empty. There’s a chip in the glass, it’s an ugly color and there are probably a billion germs in that water. And look out if there are multiple negative people in a room together. What an unpleasant situation for everyone involved.

Or maybe it’s your own attitude that stays in the negative zone. Everything is difficult, no one cares and something terrible is probably about to happen. What is there to be positive about? No one understands, anyway.

We live in a world that fosters negativity. We can grouse on the phone, complain in person and pour anger and frustration into almost-anonymous social media platforms. There are so many avenues to vent our negativity into the world, and many of us do so without even thinking.

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are…

Sunday Sketch

Let’s pull out some gorgeous patterns and colors for today’s sketch. Then we can hang a beautiful image from a pretty ribbon and wrap it all up with the perfect sentiment.

There are actually two focal points for this sketch - the hanging image and the large sentiment beneath it. While you could use a smaller, longer phrase at the bottom of the card, this space just screamed for a large word.

Ok, it doesn’t really scream because that would be incredibly spooky.

Here’s the secret to hiding the ends of your ribbon: wrap it around the back of the torn card stock before you attach it to the card. This works perfectly for thin ribbon, and you don’t have disguise the ends in some weird way.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by choosing two solid colors of card stock and a pretty pattern. One color will be the background of the card, and the other will be one of the torn layers at the top. Tear the patterned paper and cut it to fit the width of your card.

Before you attach the banner…

Homemade Blackberry Muffins

The blackberry harvest on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve is in full swing! The bushes are in various stages of ripeness, so we’ll keep bringing them in until we can’t bring in no mo’! Grammatically incorrect, I know...

Finding great ways to use all these wild berries is the fun part for me. I’ve posted many of them here before, so make sure you check them out, too. Just do a “blackberry” search at the top of the page.

Today’s blackberry muffin recipe has three things going for it: 1. It’s super simple. 2. You probably have all the ingredients you need in your pantry right now - minus the berries. 3. You can make 16 muffins with these measurements, so you can share the blackberry love!

2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with nonstick spray or muffin papers.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add…

Our Puppies Are Growing Up!

A few weeks ago we started leaving the puppies out in the living room while we were gone for short periods of time. Up to now they’ve been crated in Molly’s oversized crate together because God forbid they’re not together. Molly hasn’t been crated for years, but we just hadn’t been able to leave the babies out yet. They have too much interest in ripping the stuffing out of ... anything.
It’s only been in the past couple of weeks that we’ve left them out for three or four hours at a time. They’ve had a few behavioral problems, but they’re things we’re really working on.
The first, and possibly most expensive, is their addiction to the ottoman. It no longer has fabric or stuffing around the bottom panel, and most of the wood is now exposed. Yes, that’s a very happy face Diesel’s sporting in this picture because he is incredibly proud of himself. “Yep. That was me!”
I hate admitting that our dogs are still struggling with basic obedience. They’ve grown up so much, though, and I have to …

Words For Wednesday


An Insight Into My Creative Process

If there were just one thing I could do for the rest of my life, it would be making greeting cards with Scripture tucked inside. I love everything about the process - from choosing papers and embellishments to moving all the pieces around to make the perfect layout. It helps to be addicted to paper and stickers, but that’s a story for another day. 

When I’m ready to sit down and put a batch of cards together, I start with paper. I have a box of card stock and a bag of decorator paper scraps that I start with. I’ve always liked to used up the bits from other projects before I tear into new, full sheets. Two patterns and two colors of coordinating card stock can make an amazing card.

Then I stack those papers together, match up the embellishments (which live in another basket) and choose my Scripture verses. It takes up a good chunk of space for a while, but it keeps my brain clear and focused to have these steps already done.

Then I’m ready to sit down and make a batch of greeting car…

My God, He Is ...

David was well acquainted with God’s many characteristics. This man after God’s own heart had seen God be and do so many things during David’s lifetime. As we read through David’s life story, we can’t help but notice all the references he made to who God is and what He does in a believer’s life.

Our daily readings for the past few days have been in the book of Psalms, and these songs and praises are filled with David’s testimony of the Lord working in his life. How many of these have you experienced for yourself?

My God, He is...

My shield, my glory and the lifter of my head. (Psalm 3:3)

My portion. (Psalm 16:5)

My rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my God, my strength, my buckler, my salvation and my high tower. (Psalm 18:2)

My shepherd. (Psalm 23:1)

My light, my salvation and the strength of my life. (Psalm 27:1)

My shelter and my strong tower from the enemy. (Psalm 61:3)

My rock, my salvation and my defense. (Psalm 62:2)

My help and the shadow over me. (Psalm 63:7)

Which of God’s ch…

Sunday Sketch

Summer calls for some bright colors and gorgeous patterns! Today’s sketch will let you combine the two and make a stand-out card!

For my thank you card, I started with two colors of textured card stock and two coordinating patterns. The flowered patterned paper is from the same set, one in black and white and one in pink. This is a fun little trick you can use when you don’t feel like deciding if patterns go well together.

To make the trio of tags on the right, I cut down a die cut sentiment, then made a pink and a black square to match. An eyelet through the corner is tied up with pink floss. I adore the way this card turned out!

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with two colors of card stock and two coordinating patterns. The two patterns will be used to make three building blocks on the left side of the card. Matting the middle one on coordinating card stock will help it stand out from the other pattern.

For the three right hand blocks, center your sentiment on a square of…

Ways to Keep Your Cool This Summer

Iowa is notoriously hot and humid in the summertime. Many people plan to stay indoors during the hottest times of day, or they go from air conditioned building to air conditioned building as much as they can.

But there are some great, fun ways to keep your cool no matter where you have to be this summer! Here are just a few:

* Fill silicon ice cube trays with smashed berries and water to add a little flavor as you hydrate.

* Host Water Wars by finding a place in the shade to set up the sprinkler, some garden hoses and water balloons.

* Since your basement is probably much cooler than anywhere else in the house, set up downstairs for a picnic and a movie.

* Make pretty paper fans out of card stock and decorator paper. They’ll be fun to make, and you can use them as party favors at all those summer gatherings.

* There’s no need to turn on the stove or oven when it’s terribly hot outside. At the coolest time of day, do some batch cooking and meal prep so some meals will be done and read…

Breakfast For Dinner Street Tacos

Yesterday I shared my recipe for pulled pork street tacos, one of my new favorites! We subscribe to Butcher Box, a company that ships organic, grass-fed meat to your home every month. We can’t believe the difference the meat itself makes when it comes to flavor and quality.

So today we’re switching from dinner to breakfast. Or breakfast for dinner, which is really amazing, too. For these scrambled egg street tacos, we’ll use the same mini taco shells as the pulled pork version. They’re super soft and have an amazing flavor. You’ll find them in the same aisle as the regular sized tortillas.

When I make scrambled eggs, I always add a good splash of almond milk to the beaten eggs to make them nice and fluffy. This time around I used a refrigerated mix of cooked sausage and bacon, making it much quicker to make. If you want to start fresh and cook the meat yourself, have at it!

Top them with a great shredded cheese blend and you’ll have the most amazing breakfast street tacos! Serve them…

Pulled Pork Street Tacos

Today and tomorrow I’m going to share two street taco recipes that we’ve enjoyed recently. They’re tiny tacos that pack a huge punch of flavor!

First up is an incredibly juicy pulled pork street taco. The meat only takes about 3 hours to cook to tender perfection, making it simple to prepare and a delight to eat.

If you don’t have birch beer or pomegranate apple cider vinegar available, you can substitute regular beer and cider vinegar or create your own basting sauce.

2-3 pound pork butt
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup birch beer
1/2 cup pomegranate apple cider vinegar blend
1 Tbsp liquid smoke
1/2 cup BBQ sauce
Small street taco tortillas
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend

1. Whisk together the dry rub ingredients - paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder and cayenne pepper. Completely coat the pork with the rub, then wrap and refrigerate overnight.

2. Preheat ov…

Words For Wednesday


Sunday Sketch

Let’s celebrate with color for today’s sketch! A big, beautiful splash of color will help turn any card or page into a statement piece.

My card started with this striking flower die cut. On a background of pastel stripes, it’s incredibly eye catching.

The question then is, how do you lay out the rest of your card without being overwhelmed with too many colors? The answer is, use patterns in black and white that make the pink stand out even more.

A few coordinating acrylic dots, a strip of self-adhering ribbon and the phrase matted on coordinating card stock bring the whole layout together. And tucked inside is the perfect Bible verse!

Ready to make this layout your own? Start by finding a big, bold image to be your focal point. From there you can choose some coordinating patterns and colors.

To balance the big-ness of the image, use a small sentiment and small embellishments so the finished piece isn’t too overwhelming. You can use just about anything for accents here - acrylic dots,…

Diesel ... Not A Morning Dog

My sweet Diesel dog is such a Mama’s boy. There is rarely a time that he’s not sitting next to me, touching me or making sure he can still see me from wherever he is. He’s incredibly protective and fiercely loyal - great qualities in a pupper.

The only time this closeness is not the case is first thing in the morning. The dogs and I usually go outside at around 6 a.m. Diesel wants to be close, but he’s never completely awake at that point. He’s been known to stare aimlessly at nothing, or just stand there staring at me with a blank look on his face.

My sweet boy has trouble waking up. And no, he’s not getting a swig of my coffee. A dog jacked up on caffeine is the last thing any of us wants.

Yesterday morning was a great example of his brain fog early in the day. Normally if there’s anything walking, running, moving or breathing around the yard, he’s usually the first one to get a whiff and take chase. That’s definitely not the case before the sun’s all the way up.

There are several l…

A Morning Walk On A Summer Day

It’s the hot and humid season in Iowa, but you can beat the heat if you get up early enough. That’s what I did this week so I could go check on the blackberry crop. Many of the trails are shady all day, so it was relatively cool at the top of the hill.

Many, many blackberry bushes grow wild on the property, and it won’t be much longer before they’ll be ready for harvest. Right now, though, they’re still small and green. Even the wildlife won’t eat them right now.

The berries are densely packed into several acres of the wooded areas, and I’d like to clean up some of the other growth around them this year so they’ll be easier to reach and pick. However, I will not be touching (or even looking at) the poison oak. There is quite a bit running through the woods, and I am incredibly allergic. But I will have to admit that those fresh, juicy berries are almost worth it. 

Our Prayer This 4th of July

In the midst of our 4th of July celebrations, let’s not forget to pray for our nation, its leaders and its people.

* Pray for unity where there is division, peace where there is hostility and comfort where there is pain.

* Pray for our president, lawmakers and judges, that they will put allegiance to God over their political promises.

* Pray for our city and county governments, that they will see the needs of the people and do everything in their power to make their quality of life better.

* Pray that Christians across these 50 states will seek the Lord and follow His word more diligently than ever before.

* Pray for the pastors, their wives and their families, that they will continue to lead their flocks with strength and boldness, standing on the truth of God and calling us to greater holiness.

* Pray that God will strengthen families, giving them everything they need to withstand the attacks of the devil, because if he destroys families, he destroys the church.

* Pray for our law …

Words For Wednesday


They’re Caffles — Part Cake, Part Waffle!

If you have a waffle maker, especially if it’s one like they have in hotel breakfast rooms, you can have amazing cake in just minutes!

They’re not just cake. They’re not just waffles. They’re caffles!

I made these 4th of July treats for Danny and the youth group, and they’re so much fun. We have one of the waffle makers that you pour batter into, rotate and wait until the Ready light comes on. No timing, no measuring, just waiting for the light. How easy is that?

Just whip up a cake mix as directed on the ox and you have everything you need!

I much prefer decorating to baking, even if the steps are simple, so turning these caffles into patriotic caffles absolutely made my day.

All I did was spread soft frosting on the corners and cover them in red, white and blue sprinkles. You can also melt the frosting in the microwave, stir it until smooth and then dip the caffles into the frosting. It’s a little more labor intensive, but it’s totally worth it.

I always store away several kinds of…

Add Sparkles To Your 4th Of July Crafts!

Yesterday I showed you the sketch I used for this patriotic card. Click back HERE is you missed it. Today I’ll show you a fun way to create the sparkling fireworks.

To start my card, I heat embossed the sentiment. Yes, when it’s 95 degrees outside, I enjoy using a heat embossing tool. It’s just fun to be hot inside and outside.

Then I stamped the large fireworks in several different colors and mixed in a few little ones for good measure. Then I drew over the large fireworks with three different colors of Stickles glitter glue. I haven’t used these in ages, but I accidentally found some at the craft store recently and I couldn’t resist.

They dry in a couple of hours, and even though they pucker the paper a little, it smooths back down when you attach it to the card. The clear glue lets you see the colored ink through it, so you get a different look with each firework stamped. Oh, imagine the possibilities!