Showing posts from August, 2019

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.