Showing posts from August, 2020

How Does Your Light Shine?

If I had to guess, I’d say you know this verse. It comes from Jesus’ first sermon as He teaches about salt and light. Being a light in the world isn’t a covert action, He explains, but is glaringly and strikingly public. No hiding your candle under a bushel, people. There’s darkness to light up!
The world teaches that light should be like a spotlight - bathing us so we can be seen, loved and appreciated. The light doesn’t come from us to be given to others, but shines toward us to make us feel good and important.
But Jesus Christ says the purpose of a Christian’s light in this world is never pointed back at themselves. Even the Son of God said this life wasn’t lived to do whatever He pleased, but to please the One who sent Him. If that’s the example Jesus has left us, it must be incredibly important.
Want to know the truth? It’s not about us. It’s never been about us. It’s all about God. It’s always been all about God. When God’s people have put Him first and themselves last, their lives…

My “Make Goals And Keep Them” Planner Layout

You may not have realized it, but it’s just a few short weeks until the first day of Fall. In a year that has been crazy from the beginning, though, just add it to the list. So my first two planner layouts for the month are full of falling leaves, pumpkins and the cutest bear in a scarf I have ever seen. I just found these stickers, along with the coordinating papers and sticker book, at my favorite scrapbook store in Branson.
There’s something about the colors, textures and feel of Fall that just makes me happy. And I like this spread because I need plenty of space each month to make notes to myself and keep them all in one place. It may be 90 degrees outside right now, but it’s a crisp Autumn day in my planner!

I already know that this is going to be a challenging week, full of meetings, appointments and special to-do things that are a little different than normal. That’s why I chose this bright, bold sticker collection - so that it lights up my day every time I look at it. Plus, I’m …

My Grandma’s Baking Dish Cookie Bars

Sometimes the best recipes are the ones you grew up with. You know what I mean - those special treats that transport you back to childhood with just a smell and a nibble.
That’s what these cookie bars do to me.
I stumbled across this recipe completely by accident. And I haven’t had these cookie bars for at least 20 years, but they are exactly as I remember them. They came from my grandma’s special recipe card stash, held together on a clothespin stand she had much longer than I was alive. Just reading the typewriter letters on the stained recipe card was enough to make me choke up a little. And hearing her voice as I read through it was just icing on the cake.
It did my heart good to share these bars with the youth group last night and to tell them a little about my grandma and who she was. It led to other stories about their families and things that had been passed down over the years, and that was such a blessing.
It’s the desire of my heart that you will find a recipe that means someth…

Words For Wednesday


My “Hustle And Heart” Planner Layout

Stuff happens during the week that we can’t always plan on. No matter how many lists we make or times and days we keep track of, things will happen that we didn’t factor into the equation. That’s when we need the perfect combination of hustle and heart: hustle to get done what we need to, and heart to leave some spaces open for the unexpected. That’s what this week’s Hustle and Heart layout is all about.

One of my favorite parts of my planner are the journal blocks on the left hand page. I love seeing exactly what needs to happen and check it off when it does. I like knowing what we’re eating for the week, what the priorities at work are and what needs to be done around the house in those in between times. That’s the hustle.

But there also has to be plenty of heart, grace and love mixed in. I understand that our youth group lesson is now a two-parter because we had so much fun last week with our game and didn’t get through much of the lesson. In my planner I made places to write down th…

Fall Colors On The Property - REALLY???

When I walked out onto the deck and saw this patch of brilliant yellow leaves, I just about dropped my coffee cup. In all the bright green leaves and in full view of the summer sunshine, there were two branches that screamed “fall!” I almost screamed, too. 

Please tell me it’s not just me. In a year that will be remembered forever for its weirdness, the shades of green that summer brings were an anchor in an otherwise indescribable season.

This is what summer in Iowa means to me. The thick green grass, trees full of leaves and sunlight reflecting off the pond.

So for the moment I will focus on the summer side of the property and wait a while to enjoy the fall colors. It is Iowa in August, though, so that will change soon enough. Yes, I know you’re there, autumn leaves, just don’t hurry to get here. It will be your time before I know it.

Making Your Own Box Of Sunshine

We needed an incredible thank you gift for a friend. It couldn’t be anything trivial or mundane, and it needed to be something fun and inspirational. What better way to show our appreciation than with a giant box full of sunshine!

So what goes into a box of sunshine? Oh, just everything yellow that you can possibly find! I included snacks, school supplies for this teacher-to-be and a few special treats. When you have a color in mind, like our yellow sunshine, that color will pop off the shelves as you shop, practically climbing into the cart themselves. Try it ... you’ll see!

The best way to finish off a gift box is with lots of pretty, sparkling things. I found these fun yellow bows and used them as both filler and decoration on the top of our package.

And because I was upcycling a shipping box for our box of sunshine, I covered the writing on the top and sides with personal notes. Someone special, who does very special things, deserves a special thank you gift. What color would you cho…

Simple Card Layouts For Those Large Images

Custom orders are some of our favorite projects at Stuff From Trees. Right now I’m working on a set of sympathy cards for a friend, and I’m using lots of large images on each one. Usually there are several cards like this in our collection, and there are so many layouts that spotlight these images. Sometimes all you need is an image and a sentiment.The more detailed images are perfect for a background paper.

A bright, bold image just needs a color-coordinated mat to make it stand out from the background paper.

When matted and arranged just right, larger images make a beautiful quilt block layout.

And a fussy-cut image is the perfect embellishment to accent a great sentiment. What have these layouts inspired you to create today?

Words For Wednesday


Words For Wednesday


Seasoning Choices For Your Slow Cooker Chicken Drumsticks

When you have a dozen chicken drumsticks in your freezer, you immediately want to find a way to cook them up. Ok, maybe that’s just me, but the drumstick has always been my favorite part of the chicken. Yep, I’m a dark meat kind of girl.So when our Butcher Box had drumsticks in it as part of our chicken order this month, I pulled out the slow cooker and got to work. Chicken drumsticks only take about 6 hours on low to get cooked all the way through, which is perfect for Sunday lunch after church. Put them in when you get up Sunday morning and they’re ready when you get home.That’s the basics. Now for the fun part - seasoning! Just put the drumsticks in a large plastic bag, add the seasoning and shake. Then dump them in the slow cooker and add about 1/2 cup of chicken stock around the edges. Here are just a few seasoning combinations that will knock your socks off.* salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and parsley* salt, garlic powder, turmeric, oregano and pepper*…

Death And Life Are In The Power Of Our Words

This is one of my favorite verses in Proverbs, just after the Proverbs 31 Woman. Words are incredibly important and indescribably powerful, but we rarely stop to think about the effects our words can have on other people and on everyday situations.
In Sunday school yesterday, we gave the teens a single sentence and told them to say it in certain emotions. My example was “Did you see the ducks on the pond?” Then I read it like I was happy, sad, angry, confused, worried and disappointed, changing my voice inflection each time. Well, they were off and running with it. I haven’t laughed so hard in ages hearing “I have five things to do today” spoken with confusion, “The grocery store was busy today” read painfully and “The dog’s name is George” with disappointment. 

After this fun game, we talked about what our words should and shouldn’t be. We each picked a word that sounded intriguing, looked up the verse and explained it to the group. It’s eye-opening to see how God uses both direct comm…

My “Grace Upon Grace” Planner Layout

There are some weeks that we need a little more grace than others. To remind myself that it’s about God’s grace and not about my being perfect, this Grace Upon Grace planner layout will be a daily reminder of how much I need grace - unmerited favor, giving what I don’t deserve.
For the background anchors of both pages, I layered pink and aqua washi tape and accented it with my favorite tassel garland washi. There’s something about that garland that makes me incredibly happy. I had several stickers that spoke of grace, so they serve as journal block toppers. The menu planning section is accented with the same heart stickers, and I coordinated the sticker letters with that pretty pink.
I’ve been writing a little bit more on the right hand page of my planner, so I’m trying to be more sparse in my decorations. Here, I still have the words and phrases I know I’ll need to hear this week, but they’re accented with some beautiful yet simple hearts. Our teen Bible study this week is either going…

Dogs, Please Just Shake!

All I wanted was a set of photos with each of our four dogs shaking hand and paw. That’s not too much to ask is it? Callie refused to sit, and when she plopped herself down, she refused to actually participate. She slapped her paw into my hand and looked away. Molly did something similar, but when she looked away it was as if the queen on her throne was allowing me to kiss her paw. Which I did not. I simply shook it and she accepted that. Believe it or not, Diesel is my problem child. He gets this look on his face like I have committed the most heinous crime. Shake my paw indeed... But, to be honest, Parker’s shake photo is my favorite. He wanted absolutely nothing to do with this silliness. And his look says as much. I have never seen a dog squint his eyes in frustration the way he does, and with me he does it quite frequently. And how can you not smile when you see this? I hope it brightens your day like it did mine.

Two Kinds Of Natural Sunshine For Your Friday

We could all use a little sunshine in our lives, right?

How about a field full of sunflowers? And some bees doing their pollinating thing? Pearson Park is a food park, usually filled with sorghum, soybeans or corn, and maintained by Wapello County Conservation. But this year they were gifted with sunflower seeds. And we’re gifted with the crop.
For the week or two, the sunflowers will be bright and beautiful. Pearson Park is located two miles west of Ottumwa on Eddyville Road (West Second Street) at 160th Avenue. I pray you’ll enjoy these rays of sunshine on your Friday!

Use Those Paper Scraps On Some Fun New Cards

When I make cards for Stuff From Trees, I have enough card stock left over from each one for two mini cards, a gift tag and a bookmark. With all the cards I make, I have so many of those tiny tags. That’s where these three layouts come from - using those scraps in fun and unusual ways. For this Caturday card, I covered four of them with the same striped decorator paper and used them as mats behind my 3D kittens. They’re the perfect way to add an extra layer for texture and not just slap a sticker on a piece of paper.

By mixing and matching colors and patterns, you can create a one-of-a-kind background with your paper scraps. I used four handmade papers to make this card, alternating the flowers and leaves and raising the verse on 3D adhesive. This combines some of those little bits you have left over to make something textured, creative and unique.

  One of my favorite ways to use scraps of patterned paper is to turn them into a fun border. These three rectangles overlap down one side, …

Words For Wednesday


Fresh Blackberry Donuts

I’m such a donut girl. I grew up having donuts with breakfast every morning, and they’d still be my daily go-to if I had my druthers. Those baker’s dozen boxes at the grocery store call my name, and I’ve worked very hard to ignore that calling ... otherwise I’d probably be shaped like one!
I’m also quite fond of blackberries, as we have acres of blackberry bushes on our property. If you’ve read my posts from the past few days, you saw how heavy many of our bushes still are with berries that still need to ripen. That means tons of new blackberry recipes going through our kitchen!
So ... put the two together and you’ll undoubtedly get fresh blackberry donuts! Top them with a thick glaze made of powdered sugar, melted butter and milk for the perfect touch of sweetness to start your day.
Ingredients: 1 cup flour 1/2 cup sugar 1 tsp baking powder 1/2 tsp salt 1/3 cup vanilla almond milk 1 egg 3 Tbsp butter, melted 2 tsp vanilla 1 cup fresh blueberries (tossed in just enough flour to coat them)
1. Prehe…

Doubt Has No Place In My Blackberry Bushes Or In My Heart

One of the best parts of my summer is going blackberry picking. I love tromping around the property and finding every single bush and harvesting every single blackberry I can find. It makes me so happy to bring a full container into the house, wash them up and figure out what I’m going to make with them. If you check out the Cooking tab on the side of this page or plug “blackberry” into the search bar, you’ll find dozens of recipes I’ve created to use up our blackberry crop every year.
This year has been weird, though. Usually I’d have harvested several times by now, but we still have more red berries than black ones. This is good because it means we’ll have berries for weeks to come, but it also made me put off going out to pick them this year. I’d casually look, see that they were red (or even still green) and figure I had plenty of time to get out there.
Over the weekend I went to three spots on the property that are known for their plethora of fruit. Along the driveway, there were a…