Showing posts from January, 2020

Main Street Ottumwa - Such A Special Place

I’m always amazed when I walk into the shops on Main Street here in Ottumwa. As a big proponent of Shop Local, Buy Local, Support Local, it’s so neat to see what a small town shopping district has to offer. While looking for some fun and interesting pieces to feature in the CVB’s Valentine’s Gifts Instagram campaign, I found this 1958 Grundig Majestic Hi-Fi at Antiques & Uniques. It’s a beautiful mid-century console, and it’s looking for the perfect home!

If you know me, you know how much I love Ginger Snap jewelry. It’s interchangeable rings, bracelets and necklaces that hold brightly colored snaps. I have found some of the prettiest ones at My Chic Boutique, in addition to other vintage jewelry and accessories. Yes, that’s a whole wall of purses in the background. You’re welcome.

At Martha’s Nook & Cranny, I learned about a local craftsman who’s started making these one-of-a-kind industrial projects. They’re incredibly creative and the perfect gift for a guy this Valentine’…

Finishing Up Winter Cards Before Changing Seasons!

When it’s time to change seasons at Stuff From Trees, I always get excited. I’ve loved putting these winter cards together, and there are several new ones in our Etsy shop. But soon I’ll be knee-deep in Valentines, and that makes me happy, too. 

I was able to do some “pretend shopping” in my craft room and find some papers and embellishments I forgot I had. That’s always a fun surprise, and I loved coming across the striped and glittered die cuts in this Let Go & Let God winter encouragement card. 

And just because it’s a winter card doesn’t mean it has to have a cold theme. I turned this one into a Choose Kindness card by adding a coordinating card stock sticker phrase. This purple-red color combination is pretty amazing, too!

There’s something about gold metallic paper that just screams winter. I may be trading it for red and pink this weekend as I start new February projects, but these shining snowflakes are making me smile today. If they’re having the same effect on you, chec…

Words For Wednesday


Super Easy Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Not that I’m lazy, but I love recipes where I can dump everything into a single dish and let it do its thing. That’s exactly what this beef stew allows me to do.

A few minutes of prep work pays great dividends in the end, as every ingredient is poured in the slow cooker and allowed to mingle as it sees fit. And the end result is an amazing stew perfect for the chilly days of winter. Serve with some rolls, crackers and fruit for a complete meal.

2 lbs beef stew meat
2 envelopes dry onion soup mix
1 tsp paprika
5 potatoes, cubed
1 lb baby carrots
1 sm onion, diced
2 10-oz cans cream of celery soup
1 cup ketchup

1. Place beef stew meat in bottom of large slow cooker. Cover with all remaining ingredients.

2. Cook on low 8 hours. Stir stew and turn heat down to warm until ready to eat.

What Are You Holding On To?

One of the best parts of a snow storm comes a few days later. As the snow begins to melt a little, it begins to slide down the roof and create this amazing sheet coming over the eaves. This one over the bay window in our dining room is the perfect example. It even has icicles hanging in from it now, giving it a Polar Icecap kind of look!

This phenomenon is even more interesting when you think about the power of snow. No one wants to be caught in an avalanche because the weight and speed of falling snow crushes the human body underneath. Heavy falling snow can barricade doors, stop vehicles in their tracks and cause general shut down of life around us. Pretty powerful that snow, right?

But then we see this beautiful, slowly moving snow on our own rooftops. It hangs on for as long as it can, moving inch by inch instead of mile by mile in a fast-moving snow storm. If weather conditions are right, it may stay like this for days. It melts a little during the day, refreezes at night and cl…

My "Faith Can Move Mountains" Planner Layout

Sometimes I need a reminder that a full calendar and a completed planner aren’t the most important parts of my life. That’s why my planner layout for this week is full of biblical truth and that nudge I often need to think about why I’m doing all these things and not just when and how I’ll be doing them.

New mercies every morning!
Give me Jesus.
Faith can move mountains.
You are a child of God.

The journal blocks on the left page of my spread are Ready to be filled with prayer requests, praises and just a few of the reasons I have to be thankful. I can’t wait to see it at the end of the week, to be able to look back at God’s blessings from the week and rejoice in how He moves.

For some reason, this planner has the food columns labeled Sunday through Saturday, while the days on the right are set up Monday through Sunday. I’m having to come up with some creative ways to change the food labels, or, in this case, hide them and write in my own. Next time I won’t use my own handwriting, bu…

The Dog Days Of Winter, Which Isn’t Really A Thing...

January in Iowa means one thing - winter weather. And we get to experience it firsthand at our house while taking four dogs outside multiple times a day!

We were concerned about Parker, our Louisiana dog, getting too cold, so we bought him a winter coat to match the puppies' coats. (I will now let you insert a joke here about not being able to see the coats because they're camouflaged. You're welcome.) 

So on the coldest days, we bundle everyone up and head out. Diesel really doesn't care about the cold and snow, but the other three do. As soon as they're done, they're back at the door and ready to get back in where it's warm.

But the outside never stays outside. Callie and Diesel both love to eat ice, one of their favorite treats all year, so going out in the snow is like an all-you-can-eat buffet. And, of course, some of the snow has to come back inside with them. Of course.

And once we're back inside, it's all about the cuddles. They squeeze int…

The Animals' Christmas Eve Upcycled Little Golden Book

Did you ever have one of those projects that took longer than you imagined and you weren't able to finish it until after that season had passed? That's what this Christmas Little Golden Book was for me, but I couldn't be happier with the way it turned out!

When I have multiple copies of a Little Golden Book, I carefully disassemble two of them and turn them into an up cycled version of their former selves. This is especially gratifying when they're worn out copies that were greatly loved and not in the best condition anymore.

There are surprises and details galore from the very first page, which has a flip-open section for photos or journaling blocks.

The Animals' Christmas Eve is a darling counting book about the animals in the barn and their retelling of the Christmas story. I trimmed the pages down so they could be matted and attached to new pages covered in decorator paper. They are only attached on three sides so card stock tags could be slipped behind each o…

Studying The Story Of Moses Through A Child’s Eyes

Ok, I’ll admit that I’m pretty addicted to these Bible activity books right now. This is the third one I’ve gone through this year, and it’s a fun way to look at the Scriptures we read at the same time every year in a different way. This book about Moses corresponds to the Through The Bible In A Year schedule you’ll find on the left side of the website, so we’re right in the middle of his story now.

While I love doing the little games and puzzles on each page, I love having the open spaces for some study notes and journaling. I’ve written out Scripture in KJV in the margins of the book, plus notes that I’ve kept from studying my favorite commentaries.

Plus, who can resist stickers and mazes? Definitely not me. I’m always reminded of the handmade coloring and activity books I was given to work on during church services when I was tiny. I remember those like it was yesterday.

It’s also good for my brain to read the child-age story in the book, study it in my Bible and then add in what’…

Words For Wednesday


Hazelnut Spread Cookie Bars

There’s no better time of year to bake than in winter. (Ok, fresh-baked goodies are amazing all year. I admit it, but there’s something about the warmth of the kitchen while you’re baking that shuts out the cold of winter.

This is a great recipe to add to your baking repertoire, too. The crunchy crust that makes its base is wonderfully buttery and yummy, and you can’t go wrong with hazelnut spread as your frosting. You can use the name brand, though I used our store brand and it was pretty amazing. I may or may not have sampled some straight out of the container just to make sure.

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 small jars hazelnut spread

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with nonstick spray.

2. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, drown sugar, egg yolk and vanilla.

3. Slowly add in flour and salt. Mix until combined.

4. Scrape mixture into baking dish and press firmly to cre…

With Wings As Eagles

Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:28-31

My "Do Something Amazing" Planner Layout

I can already tell you that I’m going to need a lot of encouragement this week. Since taking this picture of my weekly planner layout, I’ve already written in a root canal on Tuesday followed by a board meeting and youth group on Wednesday.

Any one of those would be a matter of serious prayer, but back-to-back-to-back is a little more serious.

So it’s a very good thing that my “Do Something Amazing” planner layout is ready to give me the cheerleading routine that I’m going to need the next few days. With reminders like “Let’s Go Girl,” “You Are Enough” and “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans,” there are encouraging words in every margin.

It’s also super important to me to have spots on every layout to record my spiritual growth for the week. There is a block at the very top of the left page for a verse that means something special, a few words from God that lift me up and keep me moving. And at youth group we’ll be talking about obeying God and following His di…

The Property Turns White With Snow

While other people are complaining about the cold and the snow all over the Midwest this weekend, I'm thrilled! I adore the snow and the bright white of a winter storm. And when our backyard looks like this the morning after the night before, it's difficult for me to do anything but sit by the window.

 We have maybe 4 or 5 inches of snow on the ground, but it drizzled overnight, so now there is a thick crust of ice over everything. The babies have enjoyed running and breaking it, but Molly wants nothing to do with this cold winter stuff.

 Both ponds have frozen over, too, but Danny saw an eagle earlier this week. There have also been several hawks, which are so much fun to watch fly against the wind. This is also the best time to check out the animal tracks on the snow and ice, just to see what's awake and moving about in the cold.

Starting With A Blank Canvas

In what area of your life would you love to have a blank canvas? A perfectly clear spot where you can do whatever you need to do?

For me, it is a completely empty living room. I took down all our Christmas decorations, cleared out the furniture and attacked the carpet with no mercy. And yes, that's blowing snow outside the window. It was the perfect day for being inside accomplishing things.

There's something about an empty room, a blank piece of paper and clean plate that makes me smile. Not because there's nothing there, but because there is untapped potential. I can create to my heart's content, carefully arranging things and making a finished product I'm proud of.

In my living room situation, I rearranged furniture (one of my favorite pastimes) and cleaned everything I could get my hands on. With four dogs, it's so important to keep up with the dog hair and dust so we can stay healthy. Plus, the "Great Dane Glitter" gets on everything. The room f…

Pan-Seared Beef Flank Steaks

I’ve never been a huge beef eater. I usually prefer seafood or pork when given the option, and steak especially has never been on the top of my list. But we get a Butcher Box subscription package every month, and I’m teaching myself some new recipes and techniques for all that meat.
That’s how I’ve learned that I really do like beef. Not in large quantities, but when it’s cooked well it’s pretty amazing. Here’s just one of the ways I love to prepare our steaks, and I hope you love it too!
Ingredients:  2 10-oz beef flank steaks Olive oil Your favorite steak seasoning blend
1. Preheat your oven’s broiler. Move the rack to the highest position you can and still get a skillet in.
2. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil.
3. When pan and oil are hot, liberally season one side of the steaks and place that side down in the skillet. Sear for two minutes.
4. Season the second side of the steak and flip. Sear for two minutes.
5. Using a pair of tongs, sear the edges of the steak until…

Words For Wednesday


Being That Wise Woman Who Builds Her House

Have you ever had one of those moments when you open your Bible like you’ve done every morning, but this time a certain verse just slaps you in the face and pokes at your heart.

That’s exactly what happened to me this morning.

I’ve read Proverbs 14:1 dozens of times, written about it, taught on it and even included it in my book, The 12 W’s of the Christian Woman. I know this verse, I can quote this verse and I share this verse all the time. But today it resonated.

We’ve been battling health issues in our house over the past few months, including several trips to the hospital in Iowa City. We’ve not been sleeping well, we’ve had to miss some days of work and all that adds up. Unfortunately, the one thing that has suffered is the house.

Who wants to clean and organize and put away Christmas decorations when you don’t feel good? Or you’re watching your husband not feel good? Giving medications on time and staying quiet so he can sleep are much more important in the moment than dusting.…

Studying The Story Of Joseph With A Child’s Eyes

This is the second in a set of sticker activity books I found at the dollar store. Each one is the story of a Bible character, and they've been a fun way to study Scripture as I'm reading through the Bible in a year.

If you follow along with the Bible reading program here at Victorious Christian Woman, you're into the story of Joseph in the last chapters of Genesis. I have lots of notes in the margins of my Bibles, and I have several Old Testament commentaries that I use when I study. I've written some of them in on the corresponding pages as I play with stickers, color and work the puzzles.

Though it may seem silly and not a real way to study, there's something refreshing about using the eyes of a child to see Scripture in a whole new light.

Plus, I'm addicted to paper and stickers, so this is just an extension of me and the way my brain works. In about an hour, I work through the book, then I study the Scripture in my Bibles and commentaries. This can take a…