Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I'm teaching Sing n' Sprout!

For more information on classes, or to sign up, please contact me!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Baseball Wreath

I just finished a wreath in time for the excitement that is spring training. Well, my husband's excitement, not so much mine.

- wire wreath form
- burlap from a recycled coffee sack/or 6" wide burlap ribbon
- hot glue gun/glue
- 8 old baseballs
- 2 wire hangers or heavy gauge wire
- pliers with a wire cutter
- vice
- electric drill with bit slightly larger than the gauge of wire/hanger
- fabric scissors
- bow or leather to make a bow if you want one like mine

I started by deciding on placement. I had 9 sections on the wire form and 8 balls. I decided one section would have a ribbon so I decided to center the balls over each of the remaining 8 sections.

Then I cut strips of the burlap sack. The strips were about 6 inches wide. Burlap ribbon would have been an excellent choice, but this was free!

I bubbled the burlap in each section twice and tied it to the wreath form in the center of each section. I used bits of tan embroidery floss to secure the burlap "bubbles." When I had gone around the entire wreath I adjusted the appearance of the bubbles or poufs to get a more uniform look

I went to the garage and set the ball in the vice grip and used a drill to drill holes through the balls. Don't drill through the center of the ball but through the side. To better explain, if you think of the baseball as a globe you want to drill from the USA to Southern South America not from the North to the South pole.  Then I took apart several wire hangers and used 8-10" long pieces of the wire to run through the holes and twisted the balls to the wire form at the center of each section (except the bow section) on the wreath.

Once everything was complete I used the hot glue gun to secure pieces of burlap to ensure all of the green wire form was covered.

I also used burlap to line the back of the wreath and keep the wires hidden.

Next I made a now out of some spare leather I had in my fabric stash. I secured it to the wreath with hot glue.

Here is is completed!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

For the love of a town

I realized the other day that I am in a love story. Not between me and my husband, or even me and my sweet daughter, although I most certainly am writing stories with them too, but between me and my town. It may seem strange. I'm sure it does, in fact. But I am finding that this life-long city girl is quickly becoming a small-town gal.

If I were asked to define exactly what it is that makes me love Huron it would be hard to pinpoint. It is all the little things, I think. The way the wind sweeps over the prairie grasses just before haying. Long bike rides down pitted roads and gravel lanes, shady oaks, elms and cottonwoods sheltering from the warm sun. Cool mason jars of iced coffee, sitting in a swing on our lawn with a friend. Brilliant pink peonies bursting at their seems, spilling over onto sidewalks. Neighbors slowing down their cars when they see your daughter playing in the yard. Fresh heirloom tomato plants in the garden. Getting the two-finger "farmer hello" from many cars you meet. Strangers in the store helping me pick out the perfect weed killer for that pesky wood vine. Friends who love you from the core of their being and want to truly do life together. Walking in the store and talking to people in not one, but three languages. The steady background hum of a night of drag racing at the fairgrounds. A certain neighbor pausing on her daily commute to peek at us through our windows (but she says she can't see anything). Neighborhood cats walking through our yard and entertaining us with their hunting antics. Silly rumors spreading around town (at least they care enough to talk about us) and the people that care so much they simply must know if they are true. Our sweet, tiny house, solid, beautiful and just the right size. Having guests over and realizing that the "bang" of cargo cars joining up at the depot doesn't even phase me anymore.

In the words of Kathleen Norris, one of my favorite authors, "It is not special, but absolutely ordinary. And that, too, is grace." (from The Quotidian Mysteries)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Review: Stuck Bible Study

I am involved in a bible study with an AMAZING group of ladies here in Huron. They are seriously AMAZING. And they are totally worth the gratuitous use of all-caps. Our group is very diverse. We have Baptists, Pentecostals, Presbyterians, Christian churchers, Missionary Alliancers, non-denominationals and Methodists. In addition to that we have three pastor's wives! It is a fun group with very diverse perspectives. I love it.

We recently reviewed the Stuck study by Jennie Allen. It is designed to be an 8 week study. We got the DVD study box set and then purchased additional copies of the study guides so that everyone had one. The study box set comes with the DVD, leader's guide, study guide and discussion questions. The leaders guide has suggested formats, but we usually shared prayer requests, insights from the homework and study guide, watched the DVD and then used the discussion question cards.

The ladies in my group really enjoyed this study. I enjoyed it, but I guess I was expecting more. I have a high sensitivity to any Christianease and I tend to be really turned off by it. This study contains quite a bit of Christianease and the DVD sermonettes get a little cliched at times both stylistically and content-wise. I know that Jennie Allen is sincere, but it feels a little youth groupy and not meaty and real enough sometimes.

I loved the study guide most of the time. There are great exercises at the end of each week and they really engage all learning styles. Sometimes she has you list, other times write, other times draw and even sometimes go out an do something. It is wonderful.

The discussion cards were amazing. We would pass the cards for the week around and let everyone choose their favorite question and then ask as many as we could discuss within the time we had. This study prompted amazing conversations and really drew us together as a group. I can't say that I necessarily feel completely unstuck, but it got me thinking, which is really what it is all about.

If you enjoy the Nooma video style from Rob Bell you will definitely enjoy Jennie's style on the DVDs. The book and DVD set have a young, hip feel which is great in a world full of middle-aged women's studies.

All in all it was good and I would recommend it to others. I give it a four out of five. Sometimes Jennie just felt a little forced in the DVDs like she was trying to make me feel an emotion instead of just telling a story. But, the discussions and study guide made it all worth it.

Note for Full Disclosure: While I do not receive any monetary compensation for my book reviews, I am provided with free complimentary copies of each book. That being said, this review is completely my own, and free from the influence of Thomas Nelson Book Publishers.

Book Review: Wings of a Dream

In Anne Mateer's book Wings of a Dream Rebekah Hendricks leaves her home in Oklahoma to spend time with her widowed aunt in Texas. Rebekah's boyfriend is attending aviator training for the military and with World War I in the picture, Rebekah needs a change of pace. But as Rebekah plans to see her Aunt Adabelle she prays that one day God will bring her and Arthur back together -- and it won't hurt being closer to him in Texas either!

When Rebekah arrives at her Aunt's she is disappointed to learn that the flu has taken over the town and her aunt is on her deathbed. In addition to this major devastation, Rebekah also learns that when her aunt passes she will be named the legal guardian of the four children that Adabelle was caring for while their father was away at war.

While Rebekah cares for the children she bemoans the fact that she is so tied down to them and unable to go visit her Arthur or even run away with him if he were to come for her. Yet, every day she spends with them she falls more and more in love with them and feels compelled to meet the man who is their father. And at the same time, the sheriff begins calling on Rebekah and complicating matters of the heart.

I loved this story. The characters are charming and real and the author was brilliant in writing a main character that grows and develops throughout the course of the novel. Five out of five stars!

Note for Full Disclosure: While I do not receive any monetary compensation for my book reviews, I am provided with free complimentary copies of each book. That being said, this review is completely my own, and free from the influence of Bethany House Publishers. If you are a publisher interested in having me serve as a reviewer, please contact me through my blog: www.lifeundivided.blogspot.com

Book Review: Spirit Wars

I was privileged to review Kris Vallotton's book Spirit Wars. It is a phenomenal book that explores the dynamic spiritual realm that we all live within, but often do not acknowledge. Kris shares a lot of his personal experiences with demons and spirits of fear and destruction. He tells personal stories about his struggles while maintaining a peacefulness in his writing rather than sensationalism. Many Christian authors can focus too much on the sensationalism of the evil one and this can be destructive to readers who are struggling with fear as it can increase their anxiety. Kris managed to tell his story while proclaiming always the sovereignty of God over his life and even those specific instances of demonic oppression.

I was profoundly interested in the book and found myself staying up WAY to late to read it. It made me much more aware of all that goes on in the spiritual realm right under our nose while we chalk things up to fate or chance or depressions, many times there are deep forces at work keeping us in bondage to the desires of the devil. But Kris presents the hope that can only be found through the blood of Christ. And he explains ways to put the devil back in his place.

It was so touching to read this book. There aren't enough words to say how much it has affected the way that I think about the world and my own struggles with sin and anxiety. I definitely recommend this book to any Christian who is struggling or has struggled with demonic oppression or knows someone who has (and if you are a Christian, you probably have struggled with this whether or not you realize it). This would be a great book to use as a bible study tool or for Christian counselors to suggest to their clients. This book deserves a five out of five! Thank you, Kris for proclaiming that God is sovereign and able to deliver us from the evil one!

Note for Full Disclosure: While I do not receive any monetary compensation for my book reviews, I am provided with free complimentary copies of each book. That being said, this review is completely my own, and free from the influence of Bethany House Publishers. If you are a publisher interested in having me serve as a reviewer, please contact me through my blog: www.lifeundivided.blogspot.com

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Turkey Stuffing Casserole

Some of you may know that Huron has a large turkey plant in town. Because of this they recently opened a storefront to sell their products at majorly reduced costs. I would have to check with Marc but we got a HUGE bag of sliced turkey for 10 dollars. Crazy. And it is delicious! But...you can only eat so many turkey sandwiches before you start to go crazy. And since we don't have a deep freeze like every other self-respecting Midwesterner, we have to eat this stuff pretty fast (in fairness we did freeze half in our tiny freezer). So I am finding myself at my wits end trying to use this stuff creatinvely. At my mom's suggestion I came up with this recipe. Feel free to try it out with chicken or turkey of your own. And if you live in Huron you have GOT to pick up some turkey from the market!

4 cups sliced turkey broken up into shreds.
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 (16 oz) bag of frozen veggies (I used an asparagus blend with sugar snap peas, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower)
16 oz. of reduced sodium low-fat chicken broth
2 boxes of turkey stuffing mix (6 oz boxes)
2 cups gravy (turkey gravy works great, made from scratch or mix)

Mix together all the ingredients. I used a HUGE pyrex bowl and just put it straight in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. Then add the prepared turkey gravy and bake for another 5 minutes or until hot throughout.

SO GOOD. Vera scarfed this down. She loved it. I don't even usually like stuffing that much, but this stuff is so delicious and not at all dry. Try it today and let me know what you think.

Sorry there are no pictures, I didn't even think of it until I tasted it and realized I had stumbled upon amazingness. ;)
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