Missing the Point

We’ve all heard the term “rules were meant to be broken”. It sounds rebellious but when we get to the heart of things we find that rules were meant to protect and help people. When they get distorted and placed above people, they lose their value and they become an object of abuse to people rather than a source of protection.

1. Message: For every rule created there is a back story behind it. Behind the back story lies a misinterpretation and often an exaggeration.

2. Command: Honor God with our hearts by looking to the heart of his commands and how they affect the people they were written for.

3. Promise: Obedience from the heart leads to understanding the purpose of the law.

4. Warning: Every plant not planted by Heavenly father will be uprooted.

5. Application: As I read this I became aware of some rules that were made to care for people, but we have gotten the intent backwards and placed more value in the rules than the people they were created to serve. This leads to mistreating people for the sake of obeying the rule. My challenge today is that I would find the rules I have obsessed about and pay attention to the intent of the rules. Mainly, what the rules were intended to accomplish for people and not just a desire to check off an empty box.


  1. Message: No matter how much we plan things God is ultimately in charge. This has both a positive and a negative effect. Make plans but understand that our collective plans are part of a much bigger picture and God is the designer.
  2. Command: Submit our hearts to God and he will direct us into making the right plans.
  3. Promise: Commit your actions to the Lord and your plans will succeed.
  4. Warning: Pride goes before desctruction.
  5. Application: I don’t consider myself a full-blown “Type A” personality. I like to have a plan of action to get things done but I’m also a very easy-going spontaneous person too. As I read Proverbs 16 I saw a theme throughout it about making plans and recognizing that we are still at the mercy of God. I didn’t really think this was a problem in my life until I realized that plans are a lot more than a to-do list. I realized that often times the plans we make have more to do with becoming emotionally attached to a particular outcome to a situation. So much so that we have never entertained the idea of it going any other way. These are plans too and if I’m honest, I have definitely made plans like these and have been so convinced of the outcome going the way I planned it in my mind that I never stopped to question whether they coincided with God’s plans or not. In my mind my plans and ideas were the right ones and I have even had the audacity to pray out my plans to God as if he was following my command. The truth is I am usually surprised by the outcome God chooses to use and I rarely looks anything like the plan I had so perfectly concocted in my mind. I have had to learn to release my (false) sense of control  over the situations I’m praying for so that I don’t become a stumbling block standing in the way of the real actual plan that God has in mind. I’m not saying we shouldn’t make plans. It’s highly irresponsible not to make plans. I’m just saying I feel challenged as I read this to remember that my plans and ideas are penciled in to provide some structure, but God has the right and the authority to take an eraser to anything he plans to do differently. My plans are often good but God’s plans are perfect.

My Own Worst Enemy

  1. Message: The parables in Matthew 13 are all about those who heard the truth and for various reasons discarded or abandoned it. Because of this Jesus spoke in parables to the multitudes intentionally because he said “they look but they don’t really see. They hear but they don’t really listen or understand.”
  2. Command: “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
  3. Promise: “To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given and they will have an abundance of knowledge.” Matthew 13:12
  4. Warning: “for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them” (alsoMatthew 13:12)
  5. Application: All of the parables in today’s reading were about salvation. There is absolutely no question that this scripture means exactly what it means. Today as I read it I looked at something different within myself with these analogies. All of them were about people hearing truth and believing it at the moment they heard it, but either not retaining or not following though. The parable of the wheat and the weeds (again about salvation) made me think of all of the things that I hear and know are a good idea to do. Sometimes I think about starting, sometimes I start for a while and fizzle out and sometimes I go strong for a long time and then fall off the wagon completely. For me, a lot of this is in the area of discipline with my health, as well as some areas of disorganization in my life. I’ve heard enough truth in my lifetime and I’ve even lived it out faithfully for periods of time, but often times I separate the spiritual significance of following through and just see it as some things that would be good for me. When I read about the weeds growing among the wheat that the devil planted I thought to myself “you’re your OWN enemy!!!” My application today is to start taking steps that I can and will follow through in. I don’t want to be one who just hears truth but does nothing with it. I want to be one who follows through.

Monsters Inside Me

Today’s reading made me think of the show “Monsters Inside Me”. If you haven’t seen it before it’s about people who discovered they had a parasite. Many of them didn’t know for quite some time because on the outside everything looked well, but on the inside was trouble that was eventually discovered and brought on lots of damage.

  1. Message: We either produce good fruit or bad fruit and will be held accountable for every idle word.
  2. Command: Manage the contents of my heart because that determines the words that come out of my mouth.
  3. Promise: A tree that produces good fruit will be known and recognized for good fruit.
  4. Warning: We will have to give account for every word, and our own words will either acquit us or condemn us.
  5. Application:  Reading this passage scares me every time. We might be able to cover up our inner attitude in some company or for periods of time but if we have junk going on in our hearts it will at some point come out of our mouths. I know I have moments that I spew out all kinds of junk. That junk only comes out because it was already in my heart and even if I’m able to hide it from people I can’t hide it from God and I will be held accountable for it. There have been times I was shocked by some of the terrible thoughts that pop up and some of them have even come out during prayer. The application here for me is to pay attention to the thoughts rolling around in my mind before I have an opportunity to spew it out of my mouth. I need to let God work out those offensive thoughts and attitudes so they don’t take root and become rotten inside of me.

Spiritual Inoculation

  1. Message: We are accountable for what we know, and the things God shows us requires a response.
  2. Command: Repent and turn from sin.
  3. Promise: Come to me all who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest.
  4. Warning: Jesus began to denounce some of the towns where he had done so many of his miracles because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. He said that if Sodom and Gomorrah had seen the miracles these towns had, even they would have turned from their sin and not been destroyed. He was warning them (and us) that God’s chosen people who were supposed to be looking for the Messiah were hardened in spite of all of the miracles, but the Gentiles were convicted immediately and they repented and changed immediately.
  5. Application: As I read this I saw all of us in the body of Christ. We are full of biblical truth, miracles and opportunities but we have become completely inoculated by it all. We don’t have the fear of God like the people of Ninevah did when they immediately repented and turned from their sin and went into a time of fasting. We keep waiting for another opportunity, and another miracle, and another word, and another encounter, and another scare, and then we ask for more grace while we continue in our rebellion which we call all kinds of other things. For me personally, this means that the things I hear God talking to me about are to be acted on immediately. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing. I don’t get special permission to dismiss it. I am personally responsible for what God shows me and the time to act is now.

Called, Sent & Crucified With Christ

  1. Message: Jesus called his disciples to be apostles and he sent them out to reach only Israel – (Don’t go to the Gentiles or Samaritans) go to Israel, “God’s lost sheep”.
  2. Command: Go and tell them (Israel) the Kingdom of Heaven is near: Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure the lepers and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received.
  3. Promise: If you receive a prophet you will receive a prophet’s reward, if you receive righteous people you will be given a reward like theirs and if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers you will surely be rewarded.
  4. Warning: You WILL be handed over to the courts and will be flogged and whipped in the synagogues. You will stand trial because you are my followers.
  5. Application: There is so much more to pull out of this but what I see is the pattern of twelve men going through discipleship, walking closely with Jesus and then being sent out to reach people. Christians often get this backwards because we feel like this kind of “promotion” is to gain an elevated status or even respect. This was an example of sacrifice and Jesus was literally warning them that were about to go through some PAIN and suffering and that their lives would be threatened. They would not be treated with respect. They would be humiliated, taken to court, beaten and thrown into prison. This was par for the course and they went it to it believing that it was an HONOR to be treated this way because it meant they would suffer like they watched Jesus suffer. This didn’t even include the pain of living a life of discipline and obedience in their own lives. This was on top of their own self-discipline. For some reason when we go through some discomfort in our lives, or when we are suffering through working out discipline in our own lives we cry and beg for grace, we give excuses, we procrastinate and we beg for breakthroughs. We applaud ourselves for even thinking about change, but blame God, other people and the devil as we feel sorry for ourselves through our misery. I’m not saying that we should enjoy pain, just that we should expect it if we are really living out the gospel. When I look at these apostles I’m ashamed of my pampered self! This challenges me a lot because pain is not an excuse to stop moving. It’s as normal and expected as pain with a workout or training. The benefits far outweigh the suffering. We have a lot to gain from our salvation so “No Pain No Gain”!

Fun fact: *Did anybody pick up on the reference of Nimrod in the middle of all that genealogy in Genesis 10:8-10? Americans are the only ones that associate Nimrod as an “idiot”. If you Google this it seems we got the idiot reference from an old cartoon. The bible describes him as a skilled hunter and hero, and apparently so does the rest of the world!

Miracles & Deplorables

  1. Message: Jesus didn’t come to support the agenda of the religious. He came to reveal himself to his people through signs and miracles, and to invite the most deplorable of sinners into salvation. He’s still doing the same thing today.
  2. Command: Follow me and be my disciple
  3. Promise: Our sins are forgiven
  4. Warning: We should be confident in our salvation, but not comfortable in our state.
  5. Application: Those who were the most religious had generations of prophetic warnings that they were taught about but yet they didn’t recognize Jesus and they were not moved even when they saw the signs and miracles. They were blinded by their own ambitions, crooked politics and agenda. The “deplorables” were deep in their sin when Jesus called them out but they recognized his power and authority immediately. My personal application of this is to remind myself that all my devotion to church, my good deeds and my obedience to scripture will mean nothing if I become so complacent that I don’t recognize when God is moving in our midst. We could potentially become as blind as the religious Jews were while actively serving, going to church, singing our worship songs, quoting scriptures and pursuing a personal platform in the church world. We will not recognize him as long as we are focused on looking like Christians instead of paying attention to the miracles going on around us. God is calling the “deplorables” and they are responding to his voice. Wake up Christians!

Shrimp Pasta With Creamy Garlic Vodka Sauce

This recipe has become a family favorite lately and because it is a basic pasta dish, it can be made with so many variations. I am sharing this mainly for those who are newer to cooking or are intimidated by making sauces. My hope is that seeing how the basics are done might set you free to try something you thought was hard and allow you to find that it really isn’t. I hope you enjoy this recipe and feel inspired to change it up and make it your own too. Please feel free to ask questions, make suggestions, share your ideas or give feedback in the comments section.

This entry was posted in Recipes.

A Search For Authenticity

We live in a culture that is driven by image and appearance.  Where people strive to portray a life of flawless success in careers, relationships, hobbies, parenting and just about anything else that can be showcased. Social media is a brag list full of accomplishments, magazine-perfected images, and carefully selected highlights of daily life right down to the food we ate last night. Because of internet and social media, we now have access to information about all kinds of people we know, have known in the past or have never even met. We can instantly share information and connect with people in a way we have never been able to do before. We can follow our favorite celebrities on Twitter, like their Facebook fan pages and learn the juicy details of their personal lives- fictional as they may be. We can look up our old high school friends to see who got fat, who lost their hair and who married and divorced who. Where we used to have to wait for a class reunion once every decade to see how we measure up to our former classmates, we now have a window looking right into their lives. We also have a broad audience of people from all over the world to notice us with just a click of a mouse.

 All of this causes a temptation to compare, compete, and for some there is an overwhelming temptation to just withdraw and give up because they feel like they are the only ones struggling in a world of thriving success. In all of this mess of confusion there is a cry for something genuine and real. We keep hearing this word “authentic” get tossed around as people seek to relate.  To uncover what is real and expose what is merely a facade.

On one extreme, threre is a frustration coming from people who are tired of seeing these images of so-called perfection. They are angry about the way it makes them feel to see the constant display of “polished lives” while they are empty, broken and hurting so deeply in their own lives.  For these people, the images are a constant digging reminder of their perceived failures, shortcomings and their pain.  On another extreme, there are those who are stuck in the rat race of competition so deeply that they don’t seem to know what is real in their own lives, and they are missing the enjoyment of their own experiences because they are so busy documenting everything to impress other people. Are these images wrong and offensive? Maybe a little embellished? Are these people fake and phony? Are they insensitive? Maybe, and maybe not.  After all, everyone wants to put their best foot forward and show their best side for polite society. In spite of the trendy bed-bead and messy bun hair styles, most of us wouldn’t roll out of bed and go out into public without brushing our teeth, brushing our hair and for goodness sake, putting on some clothes! Interestingly enough, there are those who are willing to do just that… both physically and figuratively speaking on social media. They vent their every dislike, every frustration and exploit their own private family matters and intimate details for a mixed crowd of acquaintances, friends, coworkers, friends of friends and random strangers. Some would argue that they are just being “real” but is this really “real” or just real disturbing? 

Obviously these are two dramatically extreme examples So what is this word “authentic ” and what does it mean? According to an article on psych.com the meaning is “to come from a real place within. Authentic is when our actions and words are congruent with our beliefs and values. It is being ourselves, not an imitation of what we think we should be or have been told we should be.” If you think this definition rings familiar it is because the bible is full of scripture commanding this very thing. We were never intended to play the part or be anyone else. God loves us exactly as we are and he loves us enough to cleanse us so we can glorify him in all of our unique beauty. Authenticity is not posting your vulnerabilities, weaknesses and flaws for all to see. Those things are intended for God, who loves you and is for your good, and for the circle of people in your life who love you, hold you accountable and have earned the right to be an intimate part of your life. Authenticity is having the character to consistently display the same set of values internally and externally at all times and with all people. James 1:8 says “a double minded man in unstable in all of his ways”. If you want to be authentic, heed this warning and be the same person everywhere you go and when you are alone.

Embrace the Season

  1. Message: Sometimes we find ourselves trapped in close quarters with the stench of poop because of other people’s sin. The scenery doesn’t change and we go through a wild through the storm for a season. When it’s over, there is another season of restoration and recovery that often takes so much longer!!
  2. Command: Season 1-Build a boat, gather your family and the animals. Season 2- LEAVE the boat with your family and RELEASE all of the animals.
  3. Promise: “I will never again curse the ground because of the human race, even though everything they think or imagine is bent toward evil from childhood. I will never again destroy all living things. As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest, cold and het, summer and winter, day and night.”
  4. Warning: God will allow us to go through these kinds of storms but we can’t get anxious to end the season before it’s time. Imagine if Noah exited the boat and released the animals before everything dried up!
  5. Application: Don’t despise the boat. It’s close quarters, it’s smelly and it’s the same view for what seems forever, but it’s also our shelter and protection from what God has unleashed. I had never paid close attention to the fact that this chapter is about what God did to the LAND and not what he did to the people. The curse was on the land, but when they patiently endured he changed the landscaping and they eventually thrived. My personal application for this is to embrace the season I’m in and not to ask God to change it so quickly.

It Takes Two to Trust

This week I was listening to an audio book by John Maxwell when this quote about trust hit me right between the eyes! The funny thing is, this was a leadership book, not a relationship book per se, but John Maxwell is famous for discussing the important personal integrity qualities that equip us to lead, so naturally, relationships are involved. This quote caused me to contemplate for several days that there is something very dysfunctional and wrong with the way most of us process trust in our relationships. Not just intimate relationships, but also friendships, business relationships and even the trust we choose to give or take away in our hearts towards people in positions of authority that we likely have never even met face to face.

Most of the time when we think about trust, we place the majority of the responsibility of “earning” or maintaining our trust on another person, while considering ourselves the potential victim of what the other person may or may not do to us or for us. On one hand this puts us in a high and mighty sort of position when we believe we can be the judge to decide whether or not someone is “worthy” of our favor, support or continued trust. On the other hand, it also sets us up to see ourselves as a powerless victim of the outcome if things don’t go well. In other words, we are handing over a whole lot of emotional power to another person, and failing to take responsibility for much of it, if any at all.

To complicate things further, we also tend to tie in our respect with that trust so if we believe someone has lost our trust, they have most likely lost our respect as well. Since we are also somewhat skewed as a society on the topic of respect, the tendency is to observe behaviors (and/or rumors) and treat people accordingly. The problem with this is that we are not all-knowing so our system fails us when we mistreat or elevate the status or “value” of someone based upon our limited knowledge, or perceived experience of trust or reputation. Yeah, go ahead and re-read that! We don’t know the whole story, or the fine details about anyone or anything so we don’t have the ability to judge the value of a person based upon our experiences. This works both directions and we have all experienced the pain of being misjudged or even defamed by someone who simply didn’t know all of the facts. There is only one who knows all and he has placed his value upon every single human he created. Yes, even the ones who have done horrible, unthinkable things (-that’s all of us if you’re paying attention).

Most of us are familiar with 1 Corinthians 13:7 of the “love chapter” that says “love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things”. I struggled with the “believes all things” portion for a long time because it just sounded so naive! We all know of situations or have experienced situations where somebody believed someone that continually lied to them and they looked like a fool, were cheated out of, cheated on, taken for granted, abused or used. What I didn’t understand was that the bible wasn’t teaching a gospel of co-dependency and that this scripture passage is not about denial or living in a pretend world. How did I come to this conclusion? I read and read and read about the life of Jesus and I took note of how he handled people who loved him, as well as those who opposed him. I noticed that his only agenda was to follow the plan he and the father had purposed for him to accomplish on the earth. He was not swayed toward any other agenda- regardless of how noble it could have been. This often caused conflict for those who wanted to influence his purpose to something else. I watched his responses and found myself completely amazed at the things Jesus did, said, and often the things he didn’t say! I noticed that Jesus often didn’t feel obligated to answer “loaded” questions that were hurled at him and he usually answered those types of questions with a question of his own. This usually exposed the motive of the person asking, and sent them away in their own shame.

If you want to know how Jesus handled the issue of trust on a very personal level, read Matthew 26. Jesus had 12 disciples walking with him for his 3 years of ministry. They were a tight group and although he had crowds of thousands following him around everywhere, these 12 men were among his inner circle. They were always together and he always seemed to know what they were thinking- so much so that he often responded out loud to things they were only thinking internally. It should have been no surprise to them when they were eating the last passover supper together and Jesus announced to them all that one of them was going to betray him. I think it’s funny that none of them asked Jesus *how* he knew. Instead they were all shocked and concerned asking “surely it isn’t me?” So Jesus further explained the severity of the betrayal and said that not only was the betrayer one of his friends seated at the table and eating with him at that moment, but that the offense would be so bad that it would be better for that man to have never been born. Judas, who was in the middle of a betrayal deal with the chief priests and elders was at the table pretending to be as surprised as the rest of them. When they all started questioning Jesus “surely it isn’t me?”, Judas chimed in with the same question, trying to appear just as sincere and genuinely concerned as the other disciples but Jesus looked right at him and said “You have said it yourself”. Can you imagine what Judas felt at that moment? He was completely exposed! He had no way out of that and Jesus didn’t have to say anything else. Jesus simply pointed out the truth that somebody there was going to betray him, and allowed the truth itself to draw out the lie and the liar. What really strikes me here is that Jesus knew Judas was betraying him the entire time, but he still allowed him in the fellowship of the group and he treated him no differently. He didn’t secretly hold a grudge, or even keep a short leash of mistrust on Judas. He allowed the full vulnerability of the offense and treated him like a friend the entire time. He did, however, fully acknowledge the betrayal without pretending he didn’t know. This part is SO important!! This is what changes the situation from being one of co-dependent, enabling, “look the other way” naive, kind of denial relationship to a fully truthful, fully aware and fully vulnerable kind of relationship.

Jesus looked at that betrayal right in the face, acknowledged it for what it was and allowed the full vulnerability of it to happen without any self-preservation type of behavior.

I also find it interesting that Jesus didn’t make himself a victim in it. Obviously we all understand that this needed to happen in order to get to the cross, but this still would have been a painful thing for Jesus because he treated Judas like a friend in his inner circle for three years. When Jesus spoke about the severity of the consequences he talked about what this betrayal would do to Judas and not how hurt he was by the betrayal. This is a perfect picture of love. Later on when Judas showed up at the garden of Gethsemane with a large crowd armed with weapons, he gave Jesus the famous kiss of betrayal, and Jesus said to him “Friend, do what you came for”. This is more powerful than we realize. Jesus was not naive, he was not silent and he was not a doormat when he looked at Judas in the face during the very act of betrayal and still called him “friend”. I really believe this is why the guilt of this betrayal was so difficult for Judas that he returned the silver he was given to betray Jesus and ended his own life the very next morning.

Love is not love without full vulnerability and love is not love without full honesty. In order to fully give and receive love, we have to do it with the full acceptance of that vulnerability. If any of our relationships are struggling it is pretty much a guarantee that there is a deficit in the area of honesty or trust, but probably both. We can’t have love on any level without honesty and trust. Trust means that I take you at your word up to the very point that you betray me with it. When that happens I do not pretend it didn’t happen and I don’t make excuses for your betrayal. I love you in the face of it and allow you the opportunity to see it and make it right without overstepping my place by trying to devalue who you are because of what you did. You are still made in the image of God and the betrayal did not change your value. This is so important because the same scenario flips around when I am the one that is the betrayer in the relationship. (Notice I did not say “if”). Next comes forgiveness, and although this is a whole different topic, we can’t complete this relationship cycle without talking about it. We don’t have the luxury of holding back our forgiveness. We extend it, even when we don’t feel it and the responsibility of the betrayal (or offense) stays with the person that did the wrong.

We have to understand that withholding honesty, trust or forgiveness will not protect us from getting hurt. It will only ensure that we have no opportunity to experience real love and intimacy because we have denied the vulnerability that makes love valid.

By now you may be wondering how to apply this to something you have been going through for a long time. Me too! I want to be careful that I don’t portray this as a quick fix, magical remedy. Some of us have been managing relationships like this for years and years, and have developed, or learned a long pattern of co-dependent behavior. This pattern is not going to suddenly turn around with one honest conversation. This is going to have to be an intentional and very vulnerable choice made over and over again to reverse a pattern we made with not only ourselves, but with others.

We are the “other person” on the other side of our relationships, and we are going to have to be honest and vulnerable with ourselves and in our relationships without exception. This can only happen if the person that is face to face with us can trust us as well, and know that we love them enough to be fully honest and fully vulnerable in our relationship with them, even in the face of betrayal.

Spice Up Your Kitchen Organization

This summer I accidentally happened upon a genius find while grocery shopping one day! As I was browsing the kitchen gadgets I found some magnetic spice jars on clearance. I had never seen anything like this before and I couldn’t believe what an amazing solution this was to my ever frustrating problem of digging spices in and out of my cabinet every time I needed them! Naturally, I grabbed every single one of them and promptly went home to organize all of my spices. Originally, I had planned to chalkboard-paint  a cookie sheet or tray, pen a clever little quote on it, and display it on a mini easel stand on the counter top so my spices would be on display at hands-reach on the counter. I still think this is a super cute idea, but I just don’t have the extra space on my counter tops! I decided to “temporarily” put them on my refrigerator until I could work this out and I ended up loving it so they are still there. I labeled the sides of them but since most of the spices are recognizable through the little window I find it SO convenient to grab the few spices I plan to use each time and then quickly and easily put them back. I can’t believe I cooked for so many years with a complete nightmare of a spice cabinet! My only problem is that once I started filling the jars I was totally hooked and I realized I needed more! Yikes! They were a clearance item and I bought them all out! Amazon to the rescue and sure enough! I found them on there. For those of you would like to try these jars, here is the link!


Most Eggcellently Hard Boiled

So this summer I joined the electric pressure cooker craze. I promised my husband I would ditch my crock pot if I bought the pressure cooker. I did give up my extra large crock pot without looking back, but I did keep my smaller ones and so far I haven’t needed them. I’ve used the pressure cooker for all kinds of things and have been absolutely loving it! It still boggles my mind that a pot of beans that used to take hours in the crockpot can be done, (and very tender) in less than an hour. It almost feels like I’m cheating! As if I didn’t need one more reason to love this thing, I started hearing about people  steaming their eggs in them and getting perfect, easy to peel eggs every time. I had to give this one a go, and sure enough they were not only cooked perfectly, but the yolk was nice and creamy, and not at all dried out like sometimes happens when hard boiling them. With a quick rise under cold water, the egg shells slid off in large pieces like a dream. 

My pressure cooker is not the popular Instapot. Mine is the Power Cooker so the settings will be slightly different. Also, I don’t have a bottom steam rack. Mine sits toward the top and it fits 18 eggs perfectly. I was a little worried that the lid wouldn’t close or would smash the eggs, but it is a perfect fit. I found that 4 minutes cooks the eggs perfectly so I use the vegetable setting (of 3 minutes) and then add a minute on. It takes longer to build up pressure than it does steaming the eggs but it is SO worth it. What I always have to remember though, is that once the cycle is done the pressure cooker automatically switches to the hold/warm setting and will not begin to release pressure until you hit cancel. This means they continue cooking in there and may overcook if you forget about them. I have forgotten for a few minutes and not had any problems but I would hate to leave it on more than that. Now that I have discovered this I have been on a deviled eggs kick and I’m thinking egg salad sounds pretty good too!







Christmas Mason Jars

Mason jars are as old as the hills but they never seem to lose their popularity as a household item. They are not only great for canning and drinking from, but they are great for decor in every season and for almost any event. At our house, they are used for all of the above! Honestly, I’m a fan of jars of all types, but mason jars just have that appealing country home look. 

This week I chalk painted these jars and gave them a little festive Christmas look. If you would like an easy diy chalk paint recipe, you can find it here. Before applying the chalk paint I spray painted the outsides of the jars with a nice Christmas red color so that I could distress them later and bring out the red on the lettering. The spray paint I used also doubles as a primer, which not only helps the chalk paint stay on, but it gives it a warmer undertone. Since I already had the red paint out, I decided to go paint happy and paint the little bells deep red to match. A few more little wood pieces and some twine embellished these jars just right with one single wreath accent piece sitting on top. It was a cheap and easy little project for making in bulk. I made nine of them for our church coffee shop tables.

His & Hers Accessory Tray Project

I hate unorganized countertop clutter, but I understand the need to keep certain items out for easy use. I thought these fun little accessory trays were a great solution for the small odds and ends that end up on the bathroom counter. The best part is that it only cost me a few dollars at the dollar store and a few minutes to make my designs using my Silhouette Cameo 3 cutter. If you use a Silhouette machine and would like to make your own set you can download my design files below.

The items you will need are obviously, the two trays. I chose to use two different styles just for fun but it would also look cute to use matching trays of either style. You will also need the drawer liners. This is the foam type of liner and again, I thought it would be cute to use a feminine style for hers, and a more masculine looking one for his. The hardest part of this project was cutting the liners into the right size and shape (which was not that hard). I did this by flipping over the trays, laying the liner over them and following the indent lines with my scissors. You will probably have to trim and even out your shape, unless you are better at cutting than I am! The last thing you will need is to cut out the designs on some adhesive vinyl. You can grab the free download files below, or create your own.

His Design File Download

Hers Design File Download


American Flag Wood Wall Art

Wood Art Displayed on My Hutch

With Independence Day coming up I decided to make a wall art project to display some patriotic song lyrics that are not commonly known but are very powerful. The lyrics I chose came from the third verse of America the Beautiful. The picture I posted makes the art piece look a little smaller than it actually is so the words may be difficult to read. Here are the words:

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self, their country loved and mercy more than life. America, America may God thy gold refine. ‘Till all success be nobleness and every gain divine.” 

What I really love about this stanza is that the value of character is placed ahead of the value of acquiring wealth or success. Personal sacrifice is honored above personal gain or comfort. This is how our country began and the sacrifice made for the greater good of others is honored so well in this verse.

The project itself was so simple that I made most of it within an afternoon using very inexpensive items simply because I was feeling lazy and I didn’t want to have to go drive anywhere to buy anything. I used my Silhouette Cameo 3 to type out the words and cut it out onto sticky vinyl. If you don’t have a cutting tool but you have a steady hand you could do this with paint, a permanent pen, or paint markers.

The wood I used to make this project was just a package of shims I had in my craft room. If you aren’t familiar with shims, they are slats of wood used for all kinds of home projects. They are about 1/4 ” thick on one side and they taper down to probably a millimeter. I took two pieces going opposite directions and used Elmer’s glue to turn the two pieces of wood into one even piece. I would have used the Elmer’s Wood glue, but it was dried out at the top, and well, laziness continues. Since I knew I had nine lines to the stanza I would be featuring, I did this process nine times. Then I stacked all of the glued slats into two piles and tied the ends with zip ties to keep the glued slats pressed together while drying. I had to move quickly and even reapply glue on a few of them because as the glue was drying, the pieces wanted to start warping in the opposite direction. *This probably wouldn’t have been a problem had I used the wood glue 🙂 The zip ties did a great job of keeping the pieces pressed together and all of my slats dried evenly overnight.

The next day I took the zip ties off and divided the slats unevenly (since I had 9 pieces) to be painted red or white. I had some old bottles of acrylic paint in my craft room with the perfect dull, rustic shade of barn red I was after. Unfortunately, my white acrylic paint was dried out so I found some off-white spray paint in a satin finish that I had from a previous project. I high-fived myself for still not having to go to the store for supplies. Yes! Laziness prevails. I wondered if the white pieces would have more sheen than the red pieces and decided it would actually be kind of a cool effect if it did. It didn’t end up having more sheen. Not noticeably anyway. While the paint dried I went swimming, played with my dog and watered my garden. About an hour or more later I came back to my Arizona sun-dried slat pieces and they were ready to assemble. I had a wood art wall hanging that I had previously picked up from the thrift store. It was the size and shape of a painting canvas and the previous art was just glued on paper so I peeled it off and glued my painted slats on in a striped pattern with gorilla glue. As the pieces were drying I also began transferring the vinyl cut words. Yes, I’m impatient AND lazy but I was so close to finished and I just wanted to see it all completed. I’m pretty happy with my project so I plan to make some other cool wood signs the same way.


Repurpose a Pickle Jar For Dog Treats

My family kind of has a thing for pickles so we go through tons of jars of them. The jars are all great sizes so I never want to throw them away when the pickles are gone. I have an extra large one in my laundry room holding all of the socks that are missing a mate, we have jars with coins or hardware in them and I have used others to store sauces or other food products. The only problem is I still have an abundant collection of empty pickle jars sitting on top of my refrigerator just waiting to be repurposed in a project. After a while I get sick of the clutter so I tell myself I need to decide to do something with them, or just break down and throw them away. Since I already took the time to wash the jars and peel the labels off, today I decided to decorate one and use it for a dog treat jar.

To decorate my jar, I first took one of the clean jars and sprayed the outside with a primer. (Some people paint the insides of jars for decorative projects so the outside keeps it’s shiny appearance, but since I am putting food in this jar, this has to be painted on the outside. Primers come in several different colors so I like to choose a color that will look good coming through the paint when the jar wears and scratches. I like the worn look so on some of the jars I intentionally sand and scratch them to bring out the primer color underneath. This effect especially looks good on mason jars that have raised print on them. Since we are using pickle jars today we won’t go into that.

I love the look of chalk paint so I have neutral colors of homemade chalk paint stored in containers just for projects like this. If you are interested in the chalk paint recipe, you can click here.  I paint on two thin coats, letting the first layer dry before painting the second layer. You can put on as many layers as you like. Just make sure the layers are thin and dry in between each coat.

Next I used Mod Podge to glue some fabric around the lid. The easiest way I found to do this was to paint the glue onto the top of the lid, then lay the lid directly onto the piece of fabric. Then I cut around it giving just enough room to fold into the inside of the jar. I painted the sides and just barely over the edges, folded the fabric over and then screwed the lid on while it dried with the fabric pressed up against it. I created the graphic with my Silhouette Cameo 3 and used a stick on vinyl but if you don’t have a cutting machine to create with you could decorate your jar with scrapbooking stickers for fun. When you are finished, be sure to use a clear coat finishing spray to seal your paint in and protect it. Those come in different sheens so if you like the chalky look you can choose a flat or eggshell sheen on it. If you like a glossier look there are semi-gloss and full gloss sheens as well.

If your dogs are anything like mine, they want to be anywhere you are. This certainly includes my craft room and when I spend a significant amount of time in there they just find a spot to nap. Because of this I have a big dog pillow bed on the floor and a bench seat so they can nap while I work on projects. Now I also have an adorable treat jar for them in my craft room as well so you could say they have officially moved in!

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Keeping Your Furbabies Summer-Safe

Hot dog! It’s summer time! Summer plans, bar-b-ques, good times and baseball are all in full swing, and for most of us, the regular routine activities of life must continue as well. Despite the heat, healthy living enthusiasts can be found walking, running and biking as faithfully committed as they do throughout the rest of the year, but with a little added precaution. Living in the Arizona desert, heat safety education is constantly being promoted to protect people from emergencies like heat stroke and dehydration. These situations can escalate very quickly and can become fatal to even the most fit and healthy. We understand the importance of water intake, and we pay attention to which hours of the day are safer for exercise, play and laborious physical activity. We even adhere to heat advisory warnings for temperatures that are considered unsafe without the proper precautions. But what is considered safe for our furbabies?

What do I need to know to protect my furbabies in the summer heat?

Most of the conversations we hear about pet safety in the heat have to do with concern for the pads of their feet burning on hot surfaces, or the dangers of leaving them in a hot car. While this is incredibly dangerous- especially here in the desert, many people are unaware of other heat dangers. There seems to be a misconception that our furbabies have a similar tolerance for heat as we do, but so many loving pet owners don’t realize the risk (and the misery) they are unintentionally putting their four legged companions through.

How does my dog regulate his body temperature?

Humans sweat to cool off and because of this, we are able to tolerate not only being in the heat, but we can also tolerate a fair amount of physical activity in the heat, as long as we stay hydrated. Dogs, however do not sweat. They pant in order to cool down by circulating air through their snout, but even among dogs, not all breeds are as effective at cooling down as others. Dogs with shorter snouts are unable to cool down as well as those with longer snouts. So while exercise and playtime is vitally important to the health of our dogs, it can be dangerous for them in warm weather, and even more risky if they are a breed with a shorter snout and are unable to cool down.

How can I keep physical activity safe for my dog in the heat?

You may be able to run your dog for miles in cool weather, and you yourself may be able to tolerate running in weather upwards of 100 degrees, but for dogs, temperatures as mild as 85 degrees can be a problem if they aren’t able to cool down, or if they don’t have access to a source of water to drink and get their bodies wet. Young puppies, older dogs and overweight dogs are considered at risk and need to be watched for signs of heat exhaustion. Humidity level is also a very important contributing factor so even if the outside temp is in the low 80s, a high humidity level can make the temperature feel like it’s in the upper 90s. In these situations it’s very important to pay attention to the behavior of your furbaby and err on the side of safety. When it’s hotter than 85 degrees, try to choose water activities to exercise your dog. If you still feel the need to walk them, don’t go very far so that you can return home quickly if they get too hot. Carry a spray bottle to help cool them (and yourself) down and always make sure your dog has water to drink even if you are just sitting in the heat.

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How does my cat regulate his body temperature?

While you don’t typically see anyone walking a cat, (I know there are always exceptions) it’s important to note that they can also be at risk if they are left in the heat and are unable to cool down. Just like dogs, cats don’t sweat either, but their cooling process is actually very similar to the process that sweating works to cool down humans. Cats cool down by licking their fur and the evaporation process of their wet coat cools them down. Cats don’t pant to cool down like dogs do, but a cat will pant if they are in heat distress. Unfortunately, once they reach this point they are already in danger and likely require immediate medical attention.

Summer is a great time for outdoor sports, fun and family time. There are lots of fun things to do to beat the heat and many people enjoy bringing their pets along to enjoy the fun. Just make sure that everyone in the family stays safe in the heat!