Showing posts from August, 2019

When You Wonder If The Sun’s Still Up There

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

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


Fall Mini Journals Upcycled From Dollar Store Notebooks

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.


What Goes Up Definitely Comes Down

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

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 - …

Dogs: What They’re Really Thinking

It’s been more than two years since we became a three-dog household again. With a Great Dane and two black labs in the mix, there is so much personality to see and experience every day. Let me caption these photos so you can see exactly what they’re thinking. Diesel: I notice you have snacks. We also like snacks. And I also notice our bowls are empty. Please remedy this situation as quickly as possible.

Callie: I was about to fall asleep in yet another uncomfortable position, but then I heard Daddy come in. Now I will be awake for approximately 2.4 seconds before I doze off again.

Molly: OK, so we’re finally outside. I will now search this small patch of grass where I found a baby bunny the other day. I will spend approximately 10 minutes search this patch of grass, just to make sure it’s not still there. Although I can clearly see it is not still there.

Callie: If I pick on my brother from underneath this blanket, he’ll never know it was me. And he won’t see me coming! Diesel: Um, M…

Words For Wednesday


Relax and Learn With A Youth Group Game Night

One of the most difficult responsibilities of youth group leaders is to balance learning and fun. Too much teaching and our teens get glassy-eyed and restless. Too much fun and they see it as a social hour.
Our Wednesday night schedule is pretty unique - we meet at 6 p.m. for crafts or games that are going to tie in to that night’s lesson. It’s always amazed me how much our youth love having a few minutes with a coloring page and some colored pencils. Then we go upstairs for the song service with the adults. At least one of them will request a hymn every week, which absolutely delights my heart.
After that 15 minutes or so, we go back down to the teen room for the real meat of the lesson. We all have our notebooks and pens, and we let them use the Bible programs on their phones for reading Scripture out loud to the group. Some youth group leaders refuse to let their teens have their phones, going so far as to put them in phone jail until the end of the evening. For us, though, we’ve …

Breakfast Cereal Ice Cream

Summer may be winding down, but there is absolutely no reason for the ice cream to stop flowing! In fact, adding a little something special to it can make ice cream an everyday event.

Here are two ways to make breakfast cereal ice cream your new go-to sweet treat.

The next time you go grocery shopping, pick up a carton of ice cream. Choose something that doesn’t already have mix-ins like chocolate chips or strawberry chunks. One of the fancy vanillas will work perfectly, but you can pick your favorites. Let it soften to the point where it’s soft but not runny and it still holds its shape. Scoop it out into a large mixing bowl and stir in 2-3 cups of cereal. Immediately. Spoon it back into the container and return it to the freezer.

This way is probably more fun, and it can easily involve the younger members of your family. They still make the individual-sized boxes of cereal, like the ones you find at a hotel’s continental breakfast. At the grocery store, pick out your favorite cerea…

Words For Wednesday


Whatever Your Hand Finds To Do...

The verse jumped off the page at me as though it had a flashing neon sign on it. A woman had journaled this verse in her Bible and illustrated it in such beautiful letters, then posted it on social media with a passage from Charles Spurgeon.

But it was those words from Ecclesiastes 9: Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, do it with thy might...

Whatsoever means just that - whatsoever! Whatever I do today, whichever of the many hats that I wear I have on at that moment, I have a God-given directive to do it with all my might.

With all my might. With all my heart. With all my strength. With all my mind. With all my being.

There are many things on my daily to-do list that I don’t enjoy. They’re menial, sometimes trivial, often strenuous and all necessary. And I am to do them all with my might. Not just to get them done and get them checked off the list - but with my might.

What does that look like in real life?

When I’m preparing meals for the week, I should be planning and grocery shopp…

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Just a stone’s throw away, out in the countryside, is the grave of Chief Wapello, our county’s namesake. In 1838, Chief Wapello and his Fox tribe settled in the land that is now Ottumwa.

The memorial park is beautiful, and there is a building there featuring the story of Gen. Joseph Street, the Agency man who worked so closely with our Chief. They are now buried next to each other with their families.

The details of Chief Wapello and Joseph Street’s lives live on through this memorial and the historical narratives saved over the years. Anyone who wants to learn about what they said, did and accomplished has access to the story of these personalities of our local history.

How do you want to be remembered? For being a great daughter, wife or mom? For being a pillar of the community or the church? For what you’ve done, been active in or accomplished? Those are all good things, but there’s something much better than that.

There’s a wonderful song out right now called Only Jesus. The word…

Sunday Sketch

My goal for the next few weeks is to use up every single scrap of paper I have in my craft room before I buy any more. This seems like a lofty goal, I know, but cards made from sketches like today’s will help tremendously.

For my card, I ink-distressed the edges of two colors of card stock and three pieces of decorator paper. I also distressed two die cuts - the flowered ribbon and the Thinking of You sentiment.

I matted the fabric-looking white paper on the textured card stock and ran the spotted paper down one side. Then I cut the flower die cut and matted it on coordinating card stock. The flower-patterned paper is the same size as the sentiment block, which is accented with acrylic dots, as are the corners of the card.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by choosing coordinating card stock and decorator paper. You’ll also want a nice, square sentiment and some small embellishments.

From there, you can create your own background, focusing on the strip running down the left h…

Why More People Think Iowa Is Amazing Than Ever Before

Over the years I’ve seen many states, lived in many cities and been to visit the other side of the world. All these places are beautiful and fascinating, but Iowa will always be home. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.

Iowa has received national recognition lately as a great place to live and work - something Iowans have known for several generations! No longer just a fly-over state or a pass-through on the way to somewhere, Iowa is seeing a resurgence of interest in what makes it so great.

Here are just a few reasons you should be interested in Iowa:

* Our pace of life is slower and more relaxed. While the big cities bustle like anywhere else, there are many smaller towns and communities where it’s easy to live in the moment and take time to know the people around you.

* You’re going to meet kind, happy people everywhere you go. It’s been called Iowa Nice, but it’s really about wonderful people and creating connections with those around you. This is the place to be if you want stor…

Books Are My Tribe

There is very little in this world that I would rather do than read. I love words, and books are definitely my tribe. There’s rarely a time I don’t have one with me, have one started or am just finishing one. Want to know the way to my heart - yep, books. Today may be National Book Lovers Day, but that’s every day for me.

One of my favorite stories from my growing-up years was attending a kindergarten friend’s birthday party. When we got to her front door, she introduced me as “Laura. She reads.”

And this sums up my life in three words.

But I’m also incredibly choosy about what I read. I don’t want gore, sex, bad language or questionable situations. If the story doesn’t catch me from the beginning, I probably won’t waste time on it.

On the other hand, if I find a book I like, I read it many, many times. I never dog-ear my pages. Every book I read has its own bookmark. If it’s a Bible study book, I frequently and abundantly use my yellow highlighter. I rarely write the answers down if…

Wild Blackberry Butter

In just a short time the wild blackberry harvest will be over and I’ll have to find other ingredients for my favorite recipes! But until then, let me share this yummy blackberry butter with you.

You’ll definitely want to use a stand mixer for this one. Put four sticks of softened butter (2 cups) into the mixer bowl and beat it until it’s nice and smooth. You want it to be creamy and a little fluffy, so keep scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Once the butter’s ready, pour in two cups of fresh blackberries. With the mixer on a medium speed, mix in the berries until they’re mostly mashed and the butter turns a bright purple.

When the berries are mixed in, spoon the butter into an air-tight container. Store it in the refrigerator like you would plain butter, and soften it as you need it.

Words For Wednesday


Turn Your Paper Scraps Into Mini Cards

I’m going out on a limb here, but I would guess that if you’re a paper crafter, you have a stash of scraps somewhere. You feel terrible just throwing out those little bits left over from a really great project, so you put them in a box, bag or stack somewhere. Am I right? Today we’re going to pull out that collection of bits and pieces and put them to good use in these tiny cards.

As you may remember from THIS POST about how I make several projects out of one piece of paper, I end up with stacks upon stacks of 2.25 inch-square mini cards while I’m making larger cards because of the way I cut them. These become the card stock for my sets of mini cards. All I need to do is gather up colored card stock, decorator paper scraps, small embellishments and some fun fibers.

Then I decorate to my heart’s content. It’s so nice to have the card stock already cut, so all I have to do is the creative part. And with a tiny square as my canvas, I get a real sense of accomplishment as I finish each l…

Are You Tending The Fruit Of The Spirit?

If you plant an apple tree, what do you expect to pick in a few months? Apples!
What if you plant a grapevine? You expect to harvest grapes!
And if you find a wild blackberry bush? You’re looking for blackberries!
Whatever you planted is what you expect to see growing, and it’s what you look forward to harvesting at the end of the season.
The same goes with our Christian faith. The Holy Spirit plants some seeds in us that He looks forward to seeing grow and develop over the course of our lives.
In Galatians 5:22-23, some very familiar verses, Paul describes nine different fruit of the Spirit that should be growing in us. If they are, you’ll see them developing and getting bigger and stronger. If they’re not, we’re not helping tend the garden of our hearts. Imagine what the fields would look like if an Iowa farmer didn’t water his crops, pull the weeds and give them all the sunshine they need to grow strong and healthy. The finished crop would be all tiny and shriveled up, of no use to anyo…

Sunday Sketch

Today’s sketch will put you in a lovey-dovey mood - or any other mood you’d like to create! All you need is a tag and a few small embellishments to make your theme go a long, long way.

For my card, I started with the tag and worked my way back. The kraft paper tag is ink-distressed on the edges, and then it’s layered with six different bits: two sticker hearts, two punched flowers, a die cut love and a 3D Sweet Love sticker. All together, they make an adorable, one-of-a-kind focal point.

From there, I created my card with textured card stock and two pieces of decorator paper. I used the wood plank pattern to match the Sweet Love embellishment. Six tiny acrylic dots finish out the sweet, heart-felt card!

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with your tag and make the rest of the card coordinate. Look through that collection of embellishments you know you have and find four or five that will create different layers on your tag. Use some 3D adhesive if you need some added dimension…

Hosting A Youth Group Bonfire Party

Last night was our end-of-summer/birthday bash for our youth group. It was the perfect night for it, with warm temperatures, no rain and plenty of bug spray. We make our s’mores in two varieties: with Hershey’s chocolate bars or with Reese’s peanut butter cups. Either way, they’re an icky, sticky mess, and it makes me glad there’s a water pump up by the burn pile.
I thought about entitling this post How To Take A Picture When There Are Teenagers Involved, but I’m not really sure that I have any secret answers about how to do that. Our plates and napkins were from this month’s Confetti Collection subscription box (Which you have to check out if you haven’t heard of them yet. They’re amazing.), and I wanted to get a quick picture of the teens and the fire and the s’mores stuff so I could post it. That’s when this happened. 

I could also have entitled it How To Herd Cats. That would have been just as appropriate. 

There’s a corresponding video that I’d be happy to show you. It documents…

Take Me To The Trees

There’s nowhere I’d rather be than in the trees. Our property is two-thirds woods, and it is definitely my happy place. You can have your beach, your snow-capped mountains and your busy city streets. Take me to the trees!

We support the Arbor Day Foundation, for obvious reasons, and these were the stickers that came in our last package. I quickly cabbaged them, and I’ve put them on one of my planner layout spreads so I can see them for a whole week!

On the Carrell Wildlife Preserve, all the good stuff happens in the trees. The prayer bench Danny made for me when we first moved onto the property is down by the big pond, surrounded by trees. The very best fishing spots are under the overhang of the trees. (But that’s a secret. Don’t tell anyone.)

The blackberry bushes are surrounded by trees. There are trails cut through the trees. All of our wildlife live beyond the tree line. And the ponds drain into a creek that is deep in the woods. Everything that we have out here is connected to …

Creating A Business Idea Book

Part of my job at the convention and visitors bureau is to plan and create social media posts about Ottumwa, its attractions and its events. So much of my day is spent reading, writing and thinking about how to show people, many of whom have never been here, what’s so great about our town. That’s where this idea book came from - because we all need a little inspiration ever now and then.

The book is filled with posts, pictures and captions that I’ve seen on other people’s sites and absolutely fell in love with. I cut them out, label and mark them up with wsays I want to make them my own, and then decorated ... just because I can. It makes me happy.

I have this fun notebook that came in one of my Confetti Collection subscription boxes, and I’ve already filled it with pictures, quotes and ideas. On those days when I’m struggling to come up with ideas of my own, I just open up this book, do a little reading and then create something fun and new to showcase what’s happening locally.