Showing posts from September, 2019

Consider The Ant That Is Right In Front Of You

Ants are definitely not my favorite of the creatures God has made. Puppies, yes. Kittens, yes. Birds, yes. Otters, yes. Turtles, yes. Ants ... not so much.
That’s why I’ve never enjoyed the passage in Proverbs 6 about how we are to consider the ways of the ant. Not my first choice, but that’s ok. I understand the symbolism. But until I saw these ants on the driveway this morning, I didn’t really think about how industrious they really are.
I’m not an ant whisperer, and I don’t know where they were coming from or where they were going, but they had a job to do and they were doing it. They didn’t stop for a drink or to take a quick nap. They were literally running from Point A to Point B to accomplish whatever they were accomplishing today.
Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sle…

Sunday Sketch

Nothing says fall like plaid, and the card I made using today’s sketch brings that point home! So let’s play around with plaid as we put this layout to the test.

For my card, I started with a card stock color pulled from the coordinating plaid decorator paper. Two small patterned blocks are matted on card stock to make them pop off the page!

I pulled out one of my favorite sentiment stamps to make the overlapping square in the middle, and then I attached it with 3D adhesive. The white acrylic dots make the perfect accents for this adorable card.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by picking a gorgeous plaid decorator paper and matting it on a card stock in one of those colors. Then utilize your scrap paper collection and match up two additional patterns to make the stacking blocks.

Choose a square or rectangular sentiment to make 3D and pull the whole layout together. A few tiny embellishments in the corners will balance it out perfectly.

Love this sketch and want some more in…

What Happens If You Do It Anyway?

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. this morning. It’s actually an hour later than during the week, but it felt so early. Maybe it was because we stayed up late last night, maybe it was because it’s the weekend. Either way, the snooze button was pushed repeatedly.

We had to get up and go to the gym before some other items on our Saturday schedule, and that meant getting up a little earlier than normal. And I. Did. Not. Want. To. Go. Work. Out.

Did you catch that? Just in case you missed it - I didn’t feel like getting up and going to the gym this morning. My mind and my heart weren’t in it at all. What I really wanted to do was sleep a little longer and then drink coffee while I read my Bible. During the week I never feel like I’ve read enough or studied enough, so I was craving that study time.

So you know what I did? I went to the gym anyway. I got my workout clothes on, grabbed my bag and water and went out to the truck. I groused and grumbled the entire way there, and Danny did an amazi…

Ain’t No Book Like An Old Book!

There’s nothing so wonderful in the world as an old book. Some people would say they’d rather have new books, but there’s something special about books that were written before you were born. I’ve always thought those books are a glimpse into a different world - a world without me in it!

So here are just a few of the “old” books I’ve been diving into lately. They’re amazing, they’re classic, and they’re filled with just as much good stuff as any new book written today.

Betty Crocker’s Party Book - 1960. I remember the kids’ version of this book fro when I was little. I read it so much that it’s falling apart. So when I found this one, the grown-up version, at a used book sale in May, I was thrilled! It begins with sections titled “What Makes A Hostess Famous,” “The Importance Of Planning” and “Variety Is The Spice Of Life.” From there, you pick the special occasion and they give you recipes and party ideas. The illustrations are so ‘60s, and some of the ingredients aren’t available a…

Chocolate-Dipped Maple Sandwich Cookies

Did you know that Oreo is now making a Golden Maple sandwich cookie?

Did you know that there Baker’s has microwave-ready bowls of chocolate wafers for dipping?

Did you know that Nestle makes containers of milk chocolate and whites chocolate curls all ready for you?

Did you know that you can get tiny sprinkles in any color combinations for any season?

Now you do. And now you can create these adorable fall chocolate-dipped cookies!

To make the cookies pictured here, I melted the chocolate in its bowl and dipped each maple cookie half-way up. Then I sprinkled them liberally over a large bowl to catch the extras. Then they went on a parchment paper-covered sheet pan to cool and harden.

For the other half of the package, I substituted white chocolate curls for the fall candies, which contrasted wonderfully with the dark chocolate.

What combinations of cookies, chocolate and toppings would you use?

Words For Wednesday


We Need A Little Christmas In September, Right?

I know, I know. I was just showing you all those fun fall projects I've been working on. So how could I make the jump to Christmas so quickly? Is that what you're asking? I could wax poetic about the changing of seasons and the passage of time, but the truth is that I used up all my fall-themed paper and I put everything autumn on Etsy. I was basically out of stuff. So bring on Christmas!

Honestly, I don't remember putting a whole stack of half-done Christmas cards in a box in the craft room. It was lovely to pull them out this weekend, though, and finish them up with just a little work. A very pleasant surprise, for sure.

I'll have these darling little note cards up in the Etsy shop in just a few days. They're strung with tiny Christmas lights, and I love them so much. There are six in the set, and they're perfect for putting in a stocking, purse or pew.

This Christmas animals Little Golden Book was one of my favorites growing up, and I was fortunate enough t…

Fall Calls Us To Remember

There is something beautiful and exciting about fall. We feel a crispness in the air, we see color swirling all around us and we can sense the changes that God causes to happen all around us.

There’s just something about the change of seasons.

But even as we’re looking forward to the autumn that is coming, God also encourages us to look backwards. Remember the former days, we are told in Hebrews 10:32, look back to the afflictions you’ve gone through with the Lord by your side. Our afflictions definitely don’t look like what the early church went through, but we have our own stories to tell of what God has done for us.

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. Hebrews 10:32-33

No one really wants to remember the trials and afflictions we’ve gone through - they tend t…

Sunday Sketch

I couldn’t resist doing a sketch of this adorable Christmas card. Yes, I’m already working on Christmas projects, even though I was just working on fall crafts a couple of days ago. Stay tuned for a couple of days to see more of the winter and holiday crafts I’ve got up my metaphorical sleeve.

For this card, I started with a very simple pattern and a few white squares. I knew I wanted to use some red and white punched circles and these amazing 3D peppermint stickers, so the color scheme was already coordinated!

The small sentiment worked perfectly in the center square in the bottom row, and the hand-cut gingerbread men fit perfectly. And I always have some glittered acrylic dots on hand ... you know, just in case.

Ready to make this sketch your own? It’s a simple design that can be used in just about every season and theme. What will you choose?

Measure out your squares first, then arrange them on a lightly patterned paper. You can always make the squares a little smaller and mat the…

Pulling Out The Fall Decorations!

It’s beginning to feel a lot like ... fall. Did you sing it in your head like I did? Maybe that’s just me. 
I’m working on my fall cleaning right now, and that includes the downstairs closet where I store my seasonal goodies and my bulletin board supplies. I brought up every single thing I could find that looked like autumn, and I couldn’t believe everything I’ve amassed over the years. 
In the midst of my cleaning and organizing, I actually found this stacked tray that I forgot I had. That’s like Christmas in September, when you finding something fun like this! So I disassembled a few old decorations that I’ve used repeatedly and layered them into the two trays. What I ended up with is this beautiful centerpiece that will work perfectly all the way through Thanksgiving.
So can you see everything in there? Look carefully and you’ll find: * two leaf garlands * a jar full of acorns * a bird cage candle holder * ceramic pumpkins * my favorite crocheted pumpkin pie slice * a deer shed * …

Diesel, Our Cuddle Doggo

This is Diesel Mac, our cuddle doggo. There is nothing he’d rather do than curl up next to me, for the sole purpose of being close. He leans, he pokes with his paw and he makes sure you’re fully aware that he is there.

Sometimes it’s because his sisters are already there. He doesn’t want to be left out of anything. Especially naps.

Sometimes he’ll just sit there and stare. It can be a little unnerving, but it’s also irresistible. How could you not look at that face and want to cuddle? It’s emotionally and physically impossible.

Other times Diesel wants to let his sisters know he knows that they know he’s close. He’s incredibly jealous, and he doesn’t want to miss out on anything. I can’t begin to tell you how many times he has sat on Callie, poked at her until she moved or raced her to see who could get something first. Totally pushy.

So, in summation, Diesel. Sweetheart. Cuddler. Occasional bully. Total goofball. Best boy dog ever. Just don’t try to take his space.

Easy Baked Pork Chops

It’s been a super-warm week here in southern Iowa, but I just had to make a fall-themed meal regardless. My body is in late summer, but my mind and my taste buds are already in autumn!

I had four beautiful, thick pork chops that were just screaming for good spice and a secret ingredient to make it super moist - lemon/lime soda! The little bit of Sprite in the pan keeps the chops tender and perfect. Yum!

4 boneless pork chops
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp seasoned salt
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup lemon/lime soda

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a small baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Toss each pork chop in the bowl until coated.

3. Arrange pork chops in baking dish. Pour soda between the chops, being careful not to remove any coating from the chops.

4. Bake pork chops at 350 degrees for 60 minutes or until they register 160 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Words For Wednesday


A DIY Gift Box Made To Order

When individuals and organizations come to our office asking for donations for their events, we love to help. We may not be able to donate money or large-ticket items, but we’re glad to give as much swag as we can. But when we were recently asked to help put together a gift basket for the grand prize of a contest, I said yes immediately. Pictured here is the end result of several local businesses and attractions pooling their resources for a good cause.

The only problem was that we didn’t have a basket big enough. But never fear - who needs a basket when you can make your own gift box? Our brand color at the office is teal, so we have tons of teal tissue paper. I found a box with an attached lid that was the perfect size to hold the American Gothic puzzle and wrapped it with the paper. (Yes, the American Gothic House and Center are just a few minutes away from here.)

It takes some taping and a little cutting to make it work, so I had to be more patient than I normally am when I cut. …

You Will Know That God Is Lord

Have you ever had one of those weeks when you spent more time praying than you have in a long time? You spent time talking to God about all the normal requests, but circumstances around you - and other people’s needs - brought you to your knees more often?
That’s what last week looked like for me. I was praying about a difficult relationship, specific needs in our youth group and several health problems within our church body. Being in a constant attitude of prayer took on a whole new meaning.
On days like these, it’s easy to question God’s plan and timing. Everything seemed to happen all at once, and in many cases praying was the only thing I could do about them. I know we often say prayer is the least we can do, but it is also the greatest we can do.
It’s definitely ok to question God, as long as it’s not a fist-shaking, foot-stomping demand to know what He is thinking. We have so many examples in Scripture of people taking their questions to God in a humble way and receiving an ex…

Sunday Sketch

I couldn’t resist making a card with this adorable fox playing in the leaves. Ok, I’m pretty sure there’s a whole fox in there - his tail is cut, anyway!

None of the papers from this fall set are full sheets anymore, so I created this sketch to use smaller bits of paper. All of the, are ink distressed, as are the card stock stickers. It’s those little details that really make this card look finished.

Combining embellishments is always fun. For my card I used a card stock sticker border across the bottom, six acrylic dots and baker’s twine on the card stock sticker sentiment.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Gather up three patterned papers, one coordinating card stock, a large die cut image, a sticker border and your favorite embellishments.

Cover the card with one of the more subtle patterns, then add a mat that is one inch smaller. Tear a paper border for the left side and overlap it on top of the center frame.

Then comes the fun part. Layer your embellishments for lots of great…

Our Dog Park Adventures Of The Day

All three of our dogs had to go to the vet's office on Friday. Molly's been licking a lot, and we needed to see if she is allergic to something. Diesel has an ear infection, which we only found out about when his sister was licking it all the time. And Callie ... she was just along for moral support. Afterwards we made a 30-minute stop at the dog park!

When we pulled into the parking lot, a couple in a truck were taking two tiny yippy dogs into one side of the park. So I pulled into the large dog area and unloaded our three big dogs from the car. The first thing the man asked me was how I got all three of them into my little Ford Focus. My response was, very carefully. They were chomping at the bit so I quickly opened the gates so they could run. They didn't want to play or sniff or talk to the other puppies - they just wanted to run off all that pent-up energy.

But then two more people were walking on the trail behind the dog park with their dog off leash. He came tearin…

Garlic Sriracha Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken has always been one of my comfort foods, and I’ve always been a huge fan of dark meat. Whenever we eat out and they have chicken, I pick through the pile to find the legs. Silly, I know, but those drumsticks make me happy.

So when we had a package of chicken drumsticks in our most recent Butcher Box, I adapted one of my favorite baked chicken recipes to make the most perfect garlic Sriracha chicken legs!

10-12 chicken drumsticks
3 Tbsp minced garlic
1/8 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp sriracha

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place chicken in a 9x13-inch baking dish. Add ingredients in the order listed above.

3. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip chicken and return to oven for 15 minutes. Flip chicken a second time and return to oven for 15 minutes. Flip chicken one last time and return to oven for 10 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and serve immediately with veggies and fruit.

What Can You Do On The National Day Of Encouragement?

We all need a little encouragement every now and then. It might be a tough day, a sudden complication or an illness. Or maybe someone you know is struggling with depression or anxiety, a terrible home life or a serious diagnosis.

What can you do to be an encouragement?

That’s the question many of us will be asking today - the National Day of Encouragement.

This shouldn’t be a one-day-a-year occurrence for Christian women, though. We’re called to edify and lift one another up every change we have. Is that what you’re thinking about when you’re going about your everyday life?

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Ephesians 4:29

So how can you be an encouragement today ... and every day to come?

1. Does someone you know make your life better just because they’re in it? Tell them!

2. Say hello to a complete stranger. Smiling makes this even more effective.

3. Ask someone how they’…

Words For Wednesday


Five Cards From One Sheet Of Card Stock

It may not be officially fall yet, but it’s definitely time to work on autumn crafts! This adorable card, tag and bookmark set is my latest project using some of my favorite fall finds!

Sets like this are my favorite way to use an entire piece of 8.5x11-inch piece of card stock. I need a 4.5x6.25 inch card, so I cut 6.25 inches off the left side of the paper, which gives me a big strip and a little strip. Then I cut 2 inches off the large piece, which gives me the card and a 2x6.25-inch bookmark. The short strip is cut at 4.5 inches and 9 inches. This makes two 2.25-inch square note cards and a 2x2.25-inch tag.

Seeing them decorated helps all those numbers make sense. It only took a few times cutting these dimensions to have them memorized and you can do them in your sleep. (Yes, some days I actually cut them in my sleep...) It’s a fun set, especially when you coordinate them all like this! Head to our Etsy shop to see more cards and wood gifts - you’ll get more inspiration, plus fin…

Renew Conference: A September Favorite

Over the past three years, the Iowa Regular Baptist Camp Women’s Renew Conference has been one of the highlights of my year. It’s two days of Bible study, workshops, fellowship, food and outdoor adventures - and it renews me heart and soul.

This year’s theme was It’s All About Who? Instead of making everything about us, we were called to put the focus back where it belongs, which is on Christ alone. In these days of hustle and bustle and looking for comfort and trying to excel at life, we often forget that the way we live has nothing to do with us and everything to do with the Lord Himself.

As always, we had an amazing time as friends and sisters in Christ. I love our conversations in the church van and planning how we’re going to accomplish every single thing on the agenda for the weekend. And of course, that means the pallet maze! Our arch nemesis from last year, we defeated it in record time this year, finding all four corners and both bridges in less than half an hour. Take that,…

Sunday Sketch

Is it getting cooler where you live? It sure is here in southern Iowa, which means it’s the perfect time for fall crafts. That’s the inspiration behind today’s sketch!

The die cut I used for the majority of my background had these three words staggered across the center. It’s exactly what I would have done if I was creating the embellishments from scratch, so I was able to use it just like it is.

The rest of the images are three-dimensional. The leaf ribbons are made from textured fabric, the acrylic dots have some height to them and the adorable little fox is made from a card stock sticker, so it has some dimension to it as well. Staggering them all across the sentiment blocks balances out the card design and makes it so much fun to look at!

Ready to make this sketch your own? You’ll need one color of card stock for your background and a dark ink pad to distress the edges. Then add a patterned paper and whatever you choose to use for your staggered sentiments.

From there, add some d…

Why I Love Teaching At Our Church

For some reason, our teens love art more than anything else. They enjoy lessons that have coloring pages with them. They color, doodle and create while we talk about some pretty heavy subjects. And they seem to retain information better when there is something art-centered to do while they listen and share. 

Which brings us to this week’s lessons. They were told to choose any pages they wanted to from several activity books, but on one condition - they had to be able to tell the Bible story that activity was referring to when they were done.
The page I chose was from the creation story in Genesis 1. First, a disclaimer: Danny is the artist in our house. He can draw anything in realistic detail. I, on the other hand, was not given drawing talent in that way. That’s why my drawings look like this. Those are fish at the top, swimming with an octopus, a star fish and a sea horse (not to be mistaken for an underwater duck). The bottom one has a cat and a dog with a spider, a rock and two …

Living Your Faith In The Workplace

It’s not always easy to share your faith in the workplace. Some companies frown on spiritual talk, while other offices are filled with multiple beliefs and religions. The coworkers around you may be open to conversations about faith and God, but there are even more who are completely unreceptive.

We may often feel like we’re not able to share our faith or discuss our relationship with God when we’re at work, but it is vitally important that we live for Him no matter what our job title or workplace situation.
And how can we do that? Try to incorporate at least one of these ideas into your work week and see how God can use you for His glory while you simply do your job.
* Meditate on Scripture. Choose a verse or two from your daily devotions and go over them all day. Write them out, study them and repeat them frequently in between tasks.
* Stay joyful and wait for someone else to start the conversation. People will see the difference in you and your attitude and want to know how you do…

Slow Cooker BBQ Beef Roast

Our Butcher Box subscription has been the most amazing investment we’ve made in our health in a very long time. Their grass-fed meat is probably the best meat we’ve ever had, and having it come right to our door every month is so convenient.

In a recent box, we received a 2.5-pound beef bottom roast, and the ideas started whirling. The fun part of this subscription box is that you never know exactly what cuts they’ll be sending. It’s kind of like a mystery road trip - someone else sets up your itinerary and you just sit back for the ride!

The recipe and timing is so simple. Turn your slow cooker on high and put just enough BBQ sauce in to cover the bottom of the cooker. Place the meat in fat side up. Add the remaining BBQ sauce to cover it. Then add 1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce and 1/8 cup honey on top. Cover and let it cook on high for 1 hour. Turn it down to low for an additional 6-7 hours or until the meat falls apart when you touch it.

At this point, I usually shred the meat with…