Showing posts from October, 2019

A Prayer For The Important Things

A very dear friend made this amazing sign for our youth group room. She told me that as soon as she saw this quote, she knew it would be perfect for our teens, and I would have to agree.

We’re trying to teach the teens that it’s not about us - it’s about God and our relationship with Him. The important things are the people in our lives, our communion with the Lord and the desire to lead others to Him. These four prayer nuggets will be a great way for our youth to focus on the things God says really matter.

* Eyes that see the best in people: In a world of negativity, it’s easy to judge, to hate and to respond in anger. But God says to see people the way He sees them - as souls He created for a purpose. When we trade our vision in for His, we will see the potential, not the present.

* A heart that forgives the worst: Forgiveness is one of those things that benefits us more than the person who has wronged us. When we forgive the worst things done to us, we free ourselves from that bur…

Words For Wednesday


Sunday Sketch

I love looking through my paper scraps to find combinations of patterns and colors that I wouldn’t normally combine. That makes every project even more fun, like the card I made for today’s sketch. None of the papers I used were full sheets, so there’s your challenge for the week!

For my card, I found two patterns and two solid colors that went really well together. I covered my white card stock card with dark green textured card stock, and the green swirls paper is matted on top. For the side banner, I cut a strip of the second patterned paper and matted it on orange card stock.

The tree die cut is also matted on card stock, and the sticker phrase is double matted and raised on 3D adhesive. Orange acrylic dots embellish each of the corners.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by going through your paper scraps to find two colors of card stock and two patterns that all coordinate. Mat the background and the left hand banner.

Choose a large image and a small sentiment to stack a…

Our Alumni Pupdate To The Animal Shelter

Dear Heartland Humane Society,

When we moved back to Ottumwa in 2011, we brought our two senior dogs with us. They were adopted from a shelter in Kentucky, and they were the most special dogs ever. They began to age, though, and in September 2014, we met our Great Dane Molly when Heartland had several dogs with them at the Alzheimer’s Walk at Indian Hills Community College. She became the perfect addition to our family.

It wasn’t long before we said goodbye to both of our older dogs, who were 14 at the time, and Molly was our only dog for quite a while. But we wanted her to have a playmate, so we went to Heartland again to see a little black female dog that looked so much like the ones we’d lost. When we arrived at the shelter, though, we learned that she had a brother, they were a bonded pair and the last of their litter. So that day we went home with two black lab/German shepherd puppies to add to our pack.

Almost two years later, we have three constant companions who love cuddles,…

Hazelnut Fluff Frosting

Yesterday I shared my special fall spiced cake recipe, complete with pumpkin nuggets baked inside. Today I’ll show you how to make the most amazing frosting and then use it to make an incredible layered dessert.

To make the frosting, you’ll need a 12-oz container of whipped butter cream frosting, a 13-oz jar of marshmallow fluff and a 13-oz container of hazelnut spread.

While the two layers of cake from yesterday’s recipe are cooling, empty the container of butter cream frosting into the bowl of a stand mixer. On low speed, cream the frosting for about a minute. Then spoon in the marshmallow fluff and cream it together for another minute.

When you add in the hazelnut spread, you can take one of two directions. For a completely brown frosting, turn the mixer on low and combine completely. For a swirl frosting, only let the mixer paddle circle six or seven times so you see both white and brown swirls through it.

Cover the first layer of cake with about 1/3 of the frosting. Then put the…

Fall’s Perfect Spiced Pumpkin Cake

Nothing says fall like spice cake, pumpkin nuggets and a variety of traditional candies. Put them all together and you’ll have a decadent treat to enjoy all autumn long.

When I saw a round tray of mixed Halloween candy at the grocery store, I actually saw the top of this cake in my head. It’s not often that what you picture becomes a finished product, especially in the kitchen, but this time it was absolutely perfect.

What’s special about this cake, in addition to its mesmerizing decorations, is what you’ll find inside. I used a regular boxed spice cake mix and sprayed this 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Then I poured half of the batter into the pan. Now for the plot twist - I covered the top of that batter with half a bag of these new pumpkin spice filled baking truffles. They are a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness that you can find in the fall baking section of your favorite stores right now.

Then I baked that half for about 20 minutes, until it was browned and pulling …

Words For Wednesday


Quick And Easy Meatloaf Muffins

It’s so amazing what you can do with a pound of ground beef. You can use it to make a meal from almost every culture and nationality. You can make a simple burger, add it to pasta or rice and you can even make it into muffins. Let’s just camp right there for the next couple of minutes - meatloaf muffins!

Grab a few pantry items and set aside just a few minutes to put this tasty and totally fun meal together! I served ours with  Green Giant’s sweet potato/cauliflower veggie tots, one of our favorite sides. (They’re not paying me to say that - they’re just that good.)

1 lb ground beef (we use Butcher Box)
1 egg
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp onion powder
2/3 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp stone ground mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.

2. Combine egg, milk, cheese and onion powder in a large bowl. Add the ground beef to the bowl, breaking up the meat and mixing it all together.

3. Form t…

Three Things I Don’t Understand

Our Through the Bible in a Year reading plan wrapped up the Old Testament this weekend, and on Sunday we began the book of Matthew. As much as I love the men and women of the Old Testament, the stories of Jesus and His life here on earth. The Gospel is filled with His exact words, His example for us and His sacrifice just for me.

No matter how many times I read the gospels, though, I always unearth passages that I don’t remember reading before. That’s the Scriptures being alive and movable by the Holy Spirit. And every time I read them, there are always questions that come to mind, things I am curious about. Here are just a few of them.

1. I don’t understand how these four men - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - must have felt being inspired by God Himself to pen these words. We know Scripture is the Lord’s breath turned into words by the Holy Spirit, but did these writers know as their pens were dipped in ink that we would be reading them 2,000 years later. Did the Holy Spirit come sof…

Sunday Sketch

When you’re making a card or scrapbook page, sometimes you have to let the sentiment speak for itself. You don’t want the layout to be so full and busy that the words get lost in the chaos. This sketch is a great way to make that one word or phrase pop off the page!

For my card, I chose my patterned background paper first, then coordinated the card stock and embellishments with it. That pattern is cut 1/4 inch smaller so you can see a small border of red around it.

The embellishments are my favorite part. They’re all 3D, they’re all jeweled and they all sparkle like crazy! The textured card stock behind them puts the spotlight on the sparkle.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with a beautiful patterned paper, then choose two colors of coordinating card stock. Cut the patterned paper slightly smaller than the card so you can mat it with a border.

Then come the fun decorations! Embellish to your hearts content, making it sparkling like I did or something a little more subtle to…

Let’s Make a Movie!

Just for the record, I have the best job in the entire world. I am the executive assistant for the Greater Ottumwa Convention & Visitors Bureau. It is our job to promote Ottumwa as a prime destination for both business and leisure travelers and offering our help and information while they’re here. And for the next few weeks, we’re turning into movie producers to create a video that will showcase what Ottumwa and Wapello County have to offer.

If you didn’t know, Wapello County is home to Ottumwa and several small towns and communities. And the famous house painter Grant Wood used as the background for American Gothic is just 20 minutes away from our house. It’s a huge attraction for the area and at the top of many bucket lists. We also have seven disc golf course, four within the city of Ottumwa itself. With 16 miles of trail system, hundreds of acres of parks and countless locally owned restaurants and businesses, we’ve been filming our groups video all over town - and having a g…

Five Ways To Really Live Like It’s Autumn

Iowa in October is so weird. One minute it’s cold and blustery, so you wrap up in a sweater and scarf. The next minute the bright sunshine comes out and you’re glad you have some layers to take off. Rain one day. Sun the next. Clouds to follow. And I won’t even talk about the white stuff, even though we’ve had that this time over the years. Won’t even go there.

So how can you make it seem like fall, even when you’re not really sure that it is?

1. Start your fall baking. Think spice cake, pumpkin, maple syrup and lots of grains and oats. (Maybe not all together, but you understand.) Use leaf cookie cutters, acorn baking dishes and serving trays covered in pumpkins.

2. Do a fall cleaning. Fix up the house the way you would for spring cleaning, but replace warm-weather accessories with autumn ones. Put away the light-weight blankets and pull out the pretty, chunky ones. You can create warm looks with candles, rich colors and just the right sprinkling of leaves and acorns.

3. Appreciate …

The Stories Behind Special Orders Make Me Smile

A friend ordered a dozen Christmas cards from me this week. Normally that’s nothing unusual because she’s one of my best and favorite customers, but this one is pretty special. And not just because I’m finally working on more Christmas cards. Yay, Christmas!

These 12 Christmas cards are going to a woman suffering with depression and anxiety. From what I understand, she doesn’t leave the house much, so these cards will be a way for her to connect with the outside world. A few hand-written lines in a handmade card can make all the difference in the lives of more than one person.

My friend also told me that she had tried to speak to this woman about God, without much success. So she asked me to put a simple Bible verse inside that could be a witnessing tool. So I chose one of my favorites: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

Glory to God. What an amazing way to start a verse of Scripture. Everything else in the Bible revolves around these thr…

Words For Wednesday


Single Serve Baked Apples

There’s no need to pull out huge baking dishes or use a large number of ingredients just to have this fall favorite - just make a single serving of baked apples!

This simple recipe can be made in a small, oven-safe dish in less than 30 minutes. So

1 apple, sliced
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup apple cider

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

2. Combine brown sugar, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.

3. Layer 4-5 apple slices in the bottom of the dish, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the sugar mixture.

4. Repeat a second layer of apples and sugars, then apples.

5. Before adding the last layer of sugars, pour apple cider over the entire bowl, stopping about an inch below the rim.

6. Sprinkle the rest of the sugar mixture over the top layer of apples.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or when the top layer of apples is crusted and brown. Serve immediately wit…

Bless The Lord, O My Soul

Fall came in like a lion this week. I know I’m mixing my metaphors and changing the season this phrase was written for, but trust me - it’s the truth. I think half the leaves on the property blew into another county over the weekend, and I even had to wear earmuffs in the mornings to take the dogs outside. That’s Iowa in October for you.

But despite all this, I have to ask myself if my heart’s in the right place. Am I more concerned about getting a few more minutes of sleep than getting up and doing Bible study? Do I mumble under a my breath as I take the puppies out into the cold, or am I thankful that we have three amazing companions? Heart condition and heart attitude are so important in every season, not just when the sun is shining and the temperatures are warm.

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Psalm 103:1

Between Psalm 103 and 104, we find the phrase Bless the Lord, O my soul five times. We don’t know if it was David who wrote Psalm 104,…

Sunday Sketch

Did you ever have a card or other paper craft that just absolutely fell together as you were creating it? That’s what happened with the card for today’s sketch. I had the gold metallic paper for the background and the velvet, textured paper for the strip down the middle and - ta da - this fun, simple sketch that really packs a punch.

For my card, I covered a 4.5x6.25-inch white card stock card with the metallic paper, using a little more adhesive than normal since the paper is thicker and less flexible than the usual paper. Then I matted a 4.25x6-inch piece of black card stock on top. The velvet paper is trimmed down to show strips of both gold and black along the sides.

I finally had the opportunity to use this beautiful Bible image, and it’s raised on 3D adhesive to help it stand out. Both it and the phrase are matted on the same black card stock.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with your two colors of card stock for the background of your card. Then cut a strip of patter…

Fall Begins To Appear On The Carrell Wildlife Preserve

Praise the Lord, it's finally fall! There's not too much color out here on the Carrell Wildlife Preserve yet, but you'll find some if you look close. This is my favorite tree on the property, and it's already get some gold around the edges.

The most vibrant oranges come out right around sunset, when the sun is almost but not quite down. If there's an actual break of dawn, I think there's one at dusk, too.

This fall we have half a dozen does and young deer on wildlife preserve. It's fun to see the yearlings that we saw when they were tiny fawns. I'm like a proud aunt watching my babies grow up big and strong.

We're trying to teach the puppies that we like deer and they don't have to bark at them. It's definitely a challenge when the deer are everywhere, but we want to make sure they stay here, too. All of them are healthy and beautiful like these two, which is such a blessing.

As we welcome cooler temperatures and more fall colors, I just pr…

What Do You Do For Yourself?

Early this week it was about 70 degrees at lunchtime, the sun was shining bright and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I had a very short amount of time to grab lunch because of a work errand, so I couldn’t go home, but that was ok knowing Danny would be there to take care of the puppies.

Do you know what I did on that lunch break? I’m sure the picture gives it away - I picked up a little sushi and went to Central Park. It was the perfect day, the perfect light lunch and the perfect way to turn off my mind for a few minutes.

Do you ever do anything special, alone, just for you? For a while there was a mindset going around that all your time should be taken up doing things for other people. If you took care of yourself, you were shortchanging others. If you wanted peace and quiet for 10 minutes, you were being selfish.

I never, ever, for one single moment agreed with that mentality. If I use up everything in my tank, I definitely can’t help anybody else. If I’m exhausted and have to go…

Use Up Your Scraps With Mini Cards

Imagine being able to brighten the days of 70 people with these tiny little note cards. They’re just big enough to write a couple of sentences and sign your name. And every one is different, making it great fun to figure out who would get each design and phrase.

A few weeks ago I showed you how to make five cards from one sheet of card stock. If you tried it, you’ll have two 2.25x4.5 inch mini cards to play with. I have literally hundreds of them from making cards for many years this way, and these adorable little ones pictured here help use up both paper scraps and leftover embellishments from other projects. Totally a win-win situation.

I always have so much fun combining patterns and images to make these tiny cards stand out. Can’t you picture tucking them in someone’s purse, pew or coat pocket? You can have so much fun with these! And you can follow my pattern to make them yourself, or you can find several sets in our Etsy shop available for purchase.

Words For Wednesday


Slow Cooker Lasagna

Love lasagna but hate the prep and the clean up? This slow cooker recipe will give you all the flavors you love without all the hassle!
When I made this for our youth group day last weekend, we came home with about three spoonfuls in the bottom of the dish. I’m honestly surprised they didn’t lick the bowl - they raved about it that much.
I used chunky garden pasta sauce and an Italian seasoning blend for the ground beef. Use your favorites for a personalized combination!
Ingredients: 2 Tbsp olive oil 1 small onion, diced 2 lbs ground beef 2 Tbsp minced garlic 3 jars pasta sauce  10-12 uncooked lasagna noodles 1 bag shredded mozzarella cheese Shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet. Add onion and cook until tender.
2. Add ground beef to skillet and season with Italian seasoning blend. Brown the meat in with the onion.
3. Add garlic to skillet and cook an additional 2-3 minutes.
4. In a large slow cooker, pour just enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom of the…

It’s All About The Little Things

One of the most wonderful days of the year is when our Sunday School prizes come in the mail. We fill a treasure chest with fun little trinkets that our 2nd-6th graders can take home with them for working hard in our study every week. They’re just tiny things, probably not valuable to anyone else, but our kids are always super excited to see what’s new and that makes it fun.

This week I chose a few sampler packs from a favorite online store, and then I waited somewhat impatiently for the box to get here. It only took two days, but I was still pretty antsy for that whole time. I like little things too!

So yesterday I took a new chest into the classroom, filled with lots of new toys and crafts inside. I especially love the rubber balls that say Smile - Jesus Loves You, and the flying discs that say Exercise Your Faith - Walk With God. I couldn’t wait for those four boys to see what all we had picked out for them. To say they were excited would be an understatement. As soon as the first…

Sunday Sketch

Today’s sketch is the definition of a rough draft - you’ll see the basic structure of your card or page, but the details are completely up to you! Talk about creative freedom, right?

For my journal cover, I started with textured, ink-distressed card stock wrapped around a small, lined notepad. Then I matted the yellow plaid, ink-distressed patterned paper. As a side note, the yellow plaid is wrapped around the top of the notepad to make it all coordinate.

My focal point is the large FALL in the middle, and it’s layered on top of four different scraps of patterned paper. The accents are completely and totally random, which is a great way to use some leftover embellishments from different sets.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start with a solid card stock and layer a light, small pattern on top.

Then choose your focal point sentiment to be front and center. Dress it up with several smaller scraps of patterned papers behind it. And then the finishing touches - the embellishments! Ma…

See Your Town As A Tourist Would

During Ottumwa's Amazing Town, Amazing Events Week, I learned so much about events and activities going on in our community. We always go to the Rotary Chicken BBQ, but I've never been able to leave my office every few minutes and check on progress at the grill. I haven't had the opportunity to talk to the grill masters and find out they grilled more than 2,600 chickens for this three-hour event.

And I can honestly say I'd never been inside the Oktoberfest tent before this week. Those volunteers work amazingly hard to make this event happen, and they have so much planned to make it a fun week of activities. I can't wait for this morning's parade downtown!

I've probably walked past the Old School Pinball and Arcade in the mall dozens of times - usually on my way to the Christian bookstore and the bakery - but never stopped to even look in the window. We did some promotion this week for their Galaxies of Gaming event, and it was so neat to meet the people wh…

What Are You Taking For Granted?

Last night’s sunset lit the sky on fire. I was busy working on a project, and Danny actually had to nudge me and make me look out the window. If he hadn’t, I would have missed these amazing cotton candy clouds.

There was once a time when I didn’t need to be reminded to look out the window and see the beauty of nature on our property. There was even a time when I would (gasp) go outside and experience it for myself! But then life happened, and I realize I’ve become numb to everything going on around me.

It sounds a little glum and maybe even a bit gloomy, but sometimes you need a little gloom to recognize the light.

I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life. And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift to God. I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him. Ecclesiastes 3…

The First Step When Bringing The Outside In This Fall

Fall is the perfect time to think about bringing the outdoors inside. With all the beautiful colors, shapes and textures in the world around us, it’s perfectly natural to want to decorate your home with these earthy pieces.

The challenge, though, is only bringing in what you want to bring in. Decorating with acorns, leaves and branches may look lovely, but it’s very possible that you’re bringing some unwanted guests inside with you.

So what do you need to do before you start working with outdoor materials?

* If there are holes or broken parts on branches or acorns, don’t bring them inside. They’re evidence of tiny critters living inside them. Take the time to find pieces that haven’t been turned into something’s natural habitat.

* Wash them thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially if it hasn’t rained lately. Leave them on a stack of paper towels to dry completely.

* A special tip for acorns: once they’re dry, put them in a 200-degree oven for about 2 hours, stirring them every…

Words For Wednesday


Set Up A Caramel Apple Bar

Caramel apples are one of the staples of autumn. Sure, you can make them and eat them all year round, but there’s something about apples and caramel and fall that just go together. So what better time to put a caramel apple bar together is there than the fall teen day at our church? There’s not a better time ... I was just testing you.

We slice our apples before putting them on the sticks, which makes them so much easier to eat. Plus, if they’re smaller pieces, you can have several with different toppings. We put each topping in a separate bowl and rolled the Carmel-covered apple slice in the bowl. For the most part this was effective - remember that these are teenagers. (wink)
We had so much fun seeing who could come up with the most creative apple slice. But mostly we just created, ate and enjoyed our time together. Added bonus: we had birthday fellowship at the end of teen day, so we used up most of the leftover toppings. Yay!