Posts

Showing posts from November, 2019

Shop Small, Shop Local, Shop Handmade

Image
It’s the busiest shopping weekend of the year. Whether you’re out in your community, traveling to a large city or staying home and shopping online, we’re all inundated with sales, specials and giveaways. Happy day after Thanksgiving, right?

While you’re doing your shopping today, I would encourage you to keep one very special thing in mind. This is Small Business Saturday, a day that we point the spotlight on small, local and handmade shops. They are the businesses on our Main Streets, run by our friends and neighbors and relying on our support to make them successful. They may not have a nationwide following or billion-dollar backers, but they do have us - and this is where we step up.

Owning our own handmade business, Stuff From Trees, we know how important loyal customers are. We do all we can to spread our name, share our talents and sell our products, but it’s the people who love us and support us 365 days a year who keep us doing what we do. It’s their purchases that help us pu…

Pan Seared Filet Mignon With Oven Roasted Potatoes And Carrots

Image
Our Thanksgiving dinner was pretty non-traditional this year, which translates to ... it was amazing! Two Filet Mignon steaks came in this month’s Butcher Box, and all I needed to add was the potatoes and carrots. Talk about easy and yummy all in one dish.

The ingredient lists below make a two-person meal.

For the Potatoes and Carrots:
8 baby red potatoes, quartered
2 cups baby carrots
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp honey
Steak seasoning

For the Filet Mignon:
2 6-oz Filet Mignon steaks
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp honey
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, carrots, olive oil, honey and seasoning. Toss to coat.

3. Pour potato mix into a baking dish. Roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, until all is fork-tender.

4. While potatoes roast, heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.

5. Dry steaks with paper towel and coat one side with salt and pepper.

6. When oil is hot, place steaks seasoned side down …

Thanking God This Thanksgiving

Image
This Thanksgiving, before the food, fellowship and football, let's take time to place our love and gratitude for God in its proper place.

When we read through the Psalms, we can’t help but see David’s heart of praise and thanksgiving. In everything he did, he looked for reasons to praise God. He didn’t tout his own strength or position or power, but gave all the glory and honor to his Lord.

I will praise thee with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise unto thee. I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psalm 138:1-2

Praise is as natural as breathing when we’re focused on the blessings of God in our daily lives. While there may be distractions and reasons to be bitter and ungrateful, we have so many heavenly gifts to be thankful for. Let’s put those gifts in the forefront of our minds and hearts during this busy holiday season.

I pray that today, and each da…

Words For Wednesday

Image

Words For Wednesday

Image

Sunday Sketch

Image
I’ve been in love with this textured flower patterned paper for weeks, and I finally found a way to put it to good use - as the background for a beautiful sympathy card.

Today’s simple sketch packs a big punch with a bright patterned paper, a simple embellishment and a powerful Bible verse. Combined, these elements create an eye-catching card that will help in someone’s time of need.

For this card, I started with a strip of green patterned paper on the right side so it would be seen behind my fussy-cut flowers and leaves. The printed verse is embellished with tiny acrylic dots and a 3D sticker word.

Ready to make this sketch your own? Start by choosing a great, bold pattern for the background. Then cut or tear the edge so you can put a light, simple pattern behind it.

Next you’ll need a small phrase and a small embellishment to stack along the bottom of the card. Their size will let you see as much of the pattern behind them as possible while still making the verse stand out. Mat the…

My New Favorite Advent Calendar

Image
Can you believe it's almost time to start using your Advent calendar already? This year has gone by so fast that December 1 is just two weeks away. If that doesn't bring you back to reality with a jolt, I don't know what will.

That's why I was thrilled to put the finishing touches on this Advent calendar. I've made, used and loved a lot of daily countdown calendars over the years, but this one may be my very favorite. I used a cardboard box calendar from Hobby Lobby for it, and having a blank slate like that was so much fun.

To start, I wrapped each drawer in thick decorator paper, adhering it with a tape runner. This was much stickier and more secure than any of the other adhesives I tried. I wanted to use a circle punch to cut out the finger holes, but I ended up having to cut them by hand.

Once I covered all 25 drawers, I added a matted number sticker, a punched circle of coordinating paper and a 3D poinsettia sticker to each one. 

Then I covered the back with …

Getting In Our Youth Group Harvest Party Before The Snow Hit!

Image
This picture makes me incredibly happy. When the youth group is at our house for one of our special occasion gatherings, this is what the entry way looks like. Every time. I can't help but smile because all of these junior high-, high school- and college-aged kids actually want to be with us. They want to spend time with us, and that speaks directly to my heart.

As with all teenagers, most of what we do at our youth retreats centers around food. For the harvest party, Danny grilled angus burgers and brats, and we had slow cooker lasagna and dirty rice. Everything gets set out on the counter, and we graze for the rest of the day. (Which makes for very few leftovers. They always take to-go boxes home with them.)

This was probably our last opportunity fish this year, so all the guys wanted to do a fishing derby. We're blessed beyond measure to have three brothers join our group this month, so they had never been down to fish in the big pond. Since it covers several acres, they w…

Creating A Perfect Grazing Platter

Image
One of my favorite parts of Danny’s birthday party three weeks ago was putting together my very first grazing platters. (You know, after celebrating half a century of my husband’s life, which was so amazing.) The platters were a huge hit, and we were able to share them at church the next day, too!

The savory platter featured three bowls of fruit, which was the perfect way to serve them. The juice all stayed in one place instead of leaking all over the other food. From there, I piled on deli meat and cheese, cut into bite-sized portions, and crackers to pair them with. There were several kinds of chips and munchies, and a bowl of nuts separated in case there was anyone with a nut allergy. My favorite nut mixes come from the dollar store, so I combined two different kinds in the center bowl.

On the other end of the table, close to where I was standing for obvious reasons, was the sweet platter. It was piled high with a variety of cookies and candies, including Danny’s favorite Pinwheel…

Words For Wednesday

Image

Let It Snow Winter Wreath

Image
The weather outside is frightful, but it's absolutely delightful to have a winter-themed wreath inside!

This mesh wreath is so perfect for a snowy day, and all the sparkle is just fun. 

I've had this snowy blue mesh for a couple of years now. I originally picked it up on after-Christmas clearance so I could use it for bulletin boards. It makes a great snowy backdrop. So I bought all 10 rolls of it, you know ... just in case. The wreath form is from the dollar store, so that was pretty great, too.

I started by cutting the mesh in half lengthwise. I didn't want the wreath to be overly thick, and this makes for twice the length without buying twice the mesh.

A small disclaimer - I have never made a wreath like this before, but I knew what I wanted it to look like. I created a technique that made that happen. So here's what I did: I tied one end of the mesh to the frame at one of the cross bars. Starting at one side, I pulled the entire length of mesh through the first op…

A Tribute To My Veteran

Image
Thank you for your service. Five little words that can have a huge impact in the life of a serviceman.
 As the wife of a retired Army soldier, I have seen firsthand everything that is sacrificed and given to our Armed Forces. My husband devoted more than 20 years of his life to the military, and it is with a grateful heart that I thank Danny for his service.
I love hearing stories from soldiers, where they served, what they did and how their lives and hearts were changed during the time they served our country. My heart is always blessed by the men and women who willingly offered their time and their gifts to make our military a better place. 
Today, and every day, I thank my family and friends who served. Freedom is not free, and your efforts have truly made a difference. Thank you for everything you sacrificed and for giving your all for the people of America.
On this Veteran's Day, I pray that we will all take time to thank all our veterans for their service. They deserve all …

Rejoice Because Jesus Passed By

Image
In the very first sentence of John’s account of the blind man healed, we read those amazing words: Jesus passed by. This is the third time in the Gospel we see that Jesus passed by someone and changed their lives.

In Matthew 20, two blind men were sitting by the side of the road when they learned that Jesus was coming their way. Hearing this, they cried out to Him in faith. When He asked them what they wanted Him to do exactly, these men both replied that they desired nothing more than to have their eyes opened.
So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed Him. Matthew 20:34

In Mark 2, Matthew (Levi) is sitting at his desk, minding his own business collecting taxes, when Jesus passed by him. And in a moment his life was changed forever.

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the receipt of custom, and said unto him, Follow me. And he arose and followed him. Mark 2:14

In both of these accou…

How To Make Number Cakes With Just Two Shapes

Image
For Danny’s 50th birthday party, I made number-shaped cakes in three flavors - vanilla, chocolate and spice. They also had three different frostings - buttercream, cream cheese and Nutella. You can click HERE for the Nutella frosting recipe. You’ll be glad you tried it!

For some reason, making shaped cakes has always seemed like something difficult and fancy that I could never do. I love decorating cakes and would do that part every day if I could, but to cut and shape and turn cake into something beautiful always felt a little out of my wheelhouse.

All you need to create fun, yummy numbers are two 8-inch circle cake pans and two regular-sized loaf pans. From there, choose your flavors and get to baking!

To make the five and zero pictured here, I started with two circles and two loaves. Using a small circle bowl as a guide, I cut the center out of each one. For the five, I cut a notch out of the left side of the circle, then cut off 1/3 of the first loaf cake, leaving the other 2/3 i…

Words For Wednesday

Image

Cold Weather Days Bring Out The Puppies In Our Dogs

Image
It looks and feels like fall in southeast Iowa this week. We even had a taste of winter last week with a day of snow! These cool, crisp days always bring out the puppy in our dogs, who are torn between playing outside and curling up inside where it’s warm. Over the weekend Callie learned that she can get up in the papasan chair and have some cozy naps.

Danny’s parents have been with us for the past three weeks, and their dog Triniti got to run with the big dogs. She was just as excited about running around outside as our puppers, but it was also good to watch the wildlife go by from the inside.

Cold weather means they want to play outside, but they really don’t once they get out there. Then we get these pitiful looks through the door, trying to stir up enough sympathy for someone to let them back in.

Our basement is always 10-15 degrees cooler than the main floor, so staying close together and under blankets becomes a necessity during the fall and winter months. Needless to say, that…

A Test Of Your Patience

Image
When was the last time you tried to make a line of dominoes so you could watch it topple? If you’ve not made a domino race since you were a kid, I suggest you try it now that you’re an adult. Not that age makes a difference, but it’s just as much fun!
There are several reasons this game is so difficult. First, you have to have steady hands, which some of us (me) do not. You have to be incredibly careful as you add the next domino so you don’t topple your entire creation before you’re ready. And you don’t want anyone even breathing in the vicinity of your layout or all that hard work will be in vain.
What makes it so difficult to be patient? Is it our need for immediate gratification? Our desire to hurry up and move on to the next thing? The feeling that we’ll miss out if don’t get a move on?
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. 2 Thessalonians 3:5
This letter to the church at Thessalonians was written just a few years after Jesus a…

Sunday Sketch

Image
I had a special order this week that was a little more detailed than usual. These two cards are for a friend’s war room, where she can see them and pray the truth of these verses every day. I love being a part of something this special and this powerful.

The difficulty in creating them, though, is there is a lot of text and she wanted a certain layout for both of them. It would have looked cluttered with printed-out words individually attached to the paper, so it was much easier to design them on the computer and print them out. Hopefully that’s not cheating because they turned out beautifully.

I used Canva for the layouts, a design program that I hope you’ve checked out from previous posts. They’re my go-to at work when I’m creating social media, it’s super easy and the results are gorgeous. Give them a try for the layouts I used for today’s post or use the program you’re most comfortable with.

When I print a layout, like the two cards above, I always mat them on at least two colors…

My Sweetheart Celebrates His 50th Birthday!

Image
My amazing husband turns 50 years old later this evening. I am blessed beyond measure that God has chosen this man for me and that we have celebrated another year of his life together. And what a year it’s been.


Danny is such a man after God’s own heart, and he makes everything we do so much fun. He also puts his heart and soul into his work, helping families when they need it most. He loves his job, his family and his church. I’m so grateful for the ways he shows all of us that we are his priority.

My prayer today is that God blesses my husband with another 50 years - at least - to work for Him on this earth. May the next half a century be as amazing as the first! I love you, sweetheart. Happy birthday!