Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunburst Scrap Wood Art Feature

Last summer we built a deck on our house and, of course, we had a ton of scraps left over.  My husband wanted to burn them but my crafty side convinced him to let me keep some of them for a project or two.  Here is what I came up with:

 Since I spend a TON of time in front of the computer in the office I wanted it to be a space that I don't mind hanging out in, so I painted it a bright, cheerful purple (which happens to be my favorite color!).  Most of the art work in the room is done in shades of sunny orange for a dynamic pop.  

I started the Sunburst Scrap Wood Art Feature by sanding the rough edges off each selected board.  Then I painted each board.  I used five shades of paint that I got from a local hardware store.  I bought the small test pots of color that the store offered for a few dollars so that I wouldn't have a ton of paint leftover.  

Then I laid out the design on a flat surface.  It was a nice day so I arranged everything outside.  I was going for an organic, sunburst shape but I knew I would need the boards in the center to tie everything together.  

Then I pulled out the drill (yay! power tools!) and screwed the boards together.  I started with the five larger boards, screwing the bottom four into the darker large board. Then I connected the rays to the larger boards from the back of the project.  (Note: I didn't want screw holes to be visible so I screwed most everything in from the bottom side.  Only the top two center boards were connected from the top of the project.)  When I got done I only had to fill in one visible screw hole in the center of the top board.  I filled it with wood putty, sanded, and painted to match so that it is barely visible.

The final step is to hang it on the wall.  Here is were some strong help comes in handy.  The finished project weighs approximately 50 lbs because I  was going for a big statement.  Getting it onto the wall was a bit tricky because it was a dispersed, 
unwieldy weight.  My husband graciously helped with this portion.  I affixed a picture wire to the back of the piece that can be used to hold up to 100 lbs (just to be safe)!  And I attached the hook into the wall with a screw into a stud so that it wouldn't rip the drywall down.

This feature makes me smile everyday when I see it!

Creativity is only limited by people, so look around your house and be inspired! 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Lord move..... or move me.

I listen to Slacker radio throughout the day.  It seems I am more productive with some great background music.  If I am working on an assignment or project, I prefer to listen to classical.  I switch between movie scores and the classical greats.  )You know you listen to a lot of classical music when you start to recognize snippets of songs during commercials!)

However, when I am doing laundry or something else I enjoy listening to the Christian station.  As I was listening today FFH's song entitled "Lord move, or move me" came on.  The song lyrics are below:

Lord move, or move me

I can't find the words to pray
I'm a little down today
Can you help me?
Can you hold me?
I feel like a million miles away
And I don't know what to say
Can you hear me anyway?
What I need is for you to reach out your hand
You have taught me
No matter what you'd understand

Lord move in a way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

I've look every where to find 
A simple peace of mind 
I can't find nothing on my own
So I got to leave myself behind

Take up this cross of mine
Give away everything I hold onto
Lord I know the only way is through this
Lord I know I need you to help me do this

Lord move in a way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and a lock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move), or move me.

Out of this place of complacency
To a place of fellowship with thee
Cause I am weak but Lord you are so strong
And you know it's been way too long (been way too long)

Lord move in the way, that I've never seen before
Cause there's a mountain in the way and I'll knock on the door
I'm drifting away, waves are crashing on the shore
So Lord move (move)...


The chorus really struck a chord with me today.  I am such a control freak!  I like to (think) I am in control.  But in reality, this need for control is more frequently my way of getting in His way.  

You ever have those times when you want something and then while you are waiting and praying, it appears, that
everyone else ends up with what you are praying about?  

I remember in high school wanting that "insert label name here" pair of jeans...  Instead I am wearing Joyce Scherer originals (that's my mom).  Its amazing how something I used to be embarrassed about is now one of my most cherished memories...

Later it was the dream job.  Fresh out of college and hoping to conquer the road and no doors seem to open up.  But everyone I know is relocating, starting over, moving on, growing up and out. Then a window opens and I thought "here it is" but it was only temporary.  Multiple let-downs later and I ended up in back in school, which is something I love (most days).

Then it is baby-fever.  Start thinking about a family and then everyone starts procreating.  Everyone's facebook pictures start changing from their own beautiful faces to the faces of their plethora of offspring.  

Then there are the larger, more personal mountains.  The demons that creep into our thoughts and we don't tell anyone about.  Those voices that say you aren't good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, tough enough.... enough.  I may, will, never be enough but He is.

2 Corinthians 12:9 ~ He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

John 16:33 ~ “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

2 Corinthians 4:8-9 ~ We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 

Ephesians 3:20 ~ Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.

Somehow, deeply struck by the FFH lyrics and these verses, I realize that the issue is me, my perspective, and it needs to change.  His plan is bigger then my timing.  His plan has eternal timing in mind.  How grateful I am for that truth.  So today I pray, 'Lord move, or move me' so that I continue to see your hand in all aspects of my life, especially those that make no sense to this mortal mind.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Banana Bars

Around 3:00 in the afternoon I always need a snack.  In weaker moments I always grab for chocolate or potato chips.  Since I realize what a bad habit this is, I starting keeping apples, oranges, and bananas on hand for those afternoon cravings.  However, no matter how many times I buy bananas it seems I always have a couple that get overly ripe, embellished with those ugly brown bruises, and I no longer want to snack on them.  Well here is the perfect recipe for just such an occasion!  Banana bars are one of my husband's favorite treats! And since they are smothered in cream cheese frosting, well you know, nothing is bad with cream cheese frosting!

Banana Bars
1/2 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 c. sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 med, ripe bananas

  1. Cream the sugar and butter together.
  2. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat on low to combine.
  3. Add the sour cream and vanilla, beat to combine.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the dry ingredients.
  5. Add the bananas and mix thoroughly. (Note: The recipe calls for 2 ripe bananas but I had 3 on hand and used all of them.  If the bananas are overly ripe they will blend into the batter without having to chop them in advance.  If your bananas are not overly ripe, you can cut them up into a microwave-safe dish and heat them up first.  This will make them a paste-like consistency so they will blend nicely into the batter.)
  6. Spread batter into a greased 15"x10" pan. (Note: I used a 13"x9" pan this time because I have a lid for the 13"x9" pan and I find the bars easier to store this way.  However, baking the bars in a 13"x9" pan will take longer and the bars will end up thicker then if you bake in a 15"x10" pan.  My mom regularly bakes the bars in a 15"x10" pan with a 1/2" depth with no problems."
  7. Bake at 350* for 20-25 minutes (25-30 minutes if using the 9"x13" pan).
  8. Take out of the oven and let cool.  
  9. Smother with cream cheese frosting and enjoy!
I make my own cream cheese frosting with 4 oz. cream cheese, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 TBS. butter, and 2 cups powdered sugar.  These banana bars have a soft cake-like consistency.  The sour cream in the batter keeps them very moist.  They really are a great use of overly ripe bananas.  If you try them out, leave me a message, I really want to know how they came out!
See, they really are overly ripe and embellished with brown spots.  
 Oops, got a little messy adding in the dry ingredients!  
Be sure to add them slowly with the mixer turned down to low!
 Batter in the pan before baking.  
It is slightly thick so you will have to smooth it out before putting the pan in the oven.
 This is after baking.  You can tell its done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Also, the bars will turn golden at the edges and begin to pull away from the pan.
This is the consistency of the cream cheese frosting.  
It should be thick but spreadable.
 Yeah that is a lot of frosting. I ended up taking some off before I spread it out.
 Frosting all ready for its glamour shot.  When its family I leave the bars in the pan and cut them as we eat them.  But you could cut them into squares and put on a nice platter for a party.
 The final product!

Hope you enjoy this recipe!  Let me know how they turn out if you make them!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites

As promised, here is the recipe for the Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites that I took to the Tapestry potluck last week.  

I originally saw the recipe on the
Handle the Heat blog and knew I HAD to try it!

Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites
Note: I halved the recipe so it made only 15 Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites.  Since I knew there would be other food at the potluck I didn't need all 30).

  • 42 cream-filled sandwich cookies, such as Oreos, 30 left whole, and 12 coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Place 1 whole cookie in the bottom of each lined cup.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat cream cheese until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Gradually add sugar, and beat until combined. Beat in vanilla.
  3. Drizzle in eggs, a bit at a time, beating to combine and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat in sour cream and salt. Stir in chopped cookies by hand.
  4. Divide batter evenly among cookie-lined cups, filling each almost to the top. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until filling is set, about 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 4 hours (or up to overnight). Remove from tins just before serving.
 Now for the pictures! 
Cute cookies all lined up
 The above is the uncooked batter.  
 As you can see the cheesecake bites pull away from the sides as the bake (that's the easiest way to tell they are done).
Isn't it cute that you can see the print of the Oreo cookie through the wrapper?!
The final product!

These Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites tuned out great!  They were creamy and smooth. The cookie at the bottom gets slightly soft so you can bite through it without a lot of crumbs but the cookie isn't soggy.  I would definitely make these again!  Leave me a note if your try them, I would love to hear how they turn out! 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Swirl Cake Batter Sugar Cookies

Last week I posted about Cake Batter Cookie Stackers (you can read that post here).  The recipe came from and was delish!  I used this same recipe (find the recipe here), to make a swirled pink and white cookie for ladies group dinner I was going to.  Before we get to the pictures I want to put in a plug for Tapestry women's ministry at Grace Brethren Church Polaris.  Tapestry is a cross-generational women's group that is such a blessing in my life.  I didn't know what I was missing until I joined last semester.  The group meets  on Thursday nights and there is a time of singing, fellowship, prayer, and bible study.  The amazing discipleship that occurs when women get together can not be overstated.  In our short time together I have come to love and respect these women and the roles they play in their personal lives.  If you live in the Columbus area, you should join us!  We are gearing up for a new Tapestry session beginning in February and I would love for you to come and experience God's presence in a new way through this group.

Our Tapestry group from last semester met up for a dinner last week to reconnect after the holiday break.  Even though we will all be in different classes in the next Tapestry session, the ladies from the Philippians and Colossians course that I was in will always be close to my heart.  They had more of an impact on me they they will ever know.  As we gathered together for food and fellowship, I brought these cute swirl cookies.  

As I mentioned they are the same recipe that I had used for the Cake Batter Cookie Stackers but instead of forming smalls balls of dough to bake, I divided the batter in half.  The first section, it was white, I rolled out into a rectangle.  The second I tinted pink with paste food coloring (the same food coloring I used for frosting in the cookie stackers).  Then I rolled the pink section out to the same size as the white half of dough.  To make the rolling easier I chilled the dough first and rolled it out between two sheets of wax paper.  After chilling a second time, I peeled off the wax paper, brushed on a light layer of water to the pink dough, and placed the white dough on top.  I trimmed off the ends and then rolled the two pieces of dough together.  You don't want there to be any gap between the layers so you need to press and roll until the dough makes a solid piece.  Chill a third time ( I know it seems like a lot of chilling but I only chilled it for 10 minutes or so each time).  Then slice the dough into 1/4" rounds, place on cookie sheet, and bake.  I took the scraps that had been trimmed off and mushed (yes that is a technical term, ha!) together to make two marbled cookies.  I let my husband eat the marbled cookies before I left so that the ladies only saw cute swirled cookies.  

What do you think?

Check back tomorrow for the Oreo Cookie Cheesecake Bites recipe that I also took to this potluck! Mmmmmm!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome to the Winter Doldrums

If you are anything like me, the lull of dreary winter days can tediously stretch on and on.  The holidays are over, the decorations are put away, and the house looks very bare.  No more caroling stuffed animals, nativity, bright lights, and fragrant pine cones surrounded by candles.  (I really love those cinnamon pine cones!) As I work on my degree, I put in a lot of hours at home and in the home office.  Instead of lapsing into a mood that matches the gray weather, I decided that I needed some fun decorations to make this winter season more playful.  

One of the benefits of living in Ohio in the winter is the occasional bright red cardinal that graces the tree in front of our house.  He is bright, cheerful, lively, and vibrant.  On the backdrop of the leafless tree, dirty snow, and gray sky, he is a ray of hope.  A while ago my mom told me about the symbolism of a cardinal, and it was a story that stuck with me.  The cardinal is God's gift to people like me who struggle with bouts of depression in the winter months.  The cardinal is God's reminder that though everything may appear lifeless, isolated, and bleak there is still the presence of God's beauty, hope, and love.  

There are times that though I know this story, I still need to see that cardinal to remind me of God's presence in my small corner of the world.  Out of the symbolic story of the cardinal bloomed this wreath:

 I made it using a foam wreath form and feather boas from Jo Anne's.  Then it was adorned with a bright red cardinal.

 Here is the wreath on the front door.  Isn't it so cute against a red door?  Though it looks great in this picture, I would not recommend leaving the wreath outside because the feather boas may not weather well.

The cardinal wanted an up-close picture because he is the star of the this wreath.  

I actually have the wreath hanging inside our front door all winter long so that every time I come down the stairs I have the bright reminder of God's ability to bring beauty out of desolate circumstances.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cake Batter Cookie Stackers

We recently had friends visit us for a couple of days and they brought along their 2-yr old daughter.  She is truly the sweetest little girl!  Such great manners!  She and Brutus, our Chinese Shar-Pei, became fast friends.  Since I knew she was coming I wanted to make a cute dessert that would be fun for her but would also appease the adult eaters.  Now my husband will eat ANYTHING that you call dessert, but I wanted to make something new that was fun and tasty.

Did I mention that they were coming during my first week back to school, which included 20 chapters of reading and many tedious assignments?  So I needed something that was also going to be quick.  I ran across a recipe at for Cake Batter Cookie Stackers and it was love at first sight!  They were cake batter cookies made from a store bought sugar-cookie mix and a yellow cake mix adorned with bright, rainbow-colored frosting and sprinkles.  The inner kid in me jumped up-and-down with giddy excitement!  

I never make cookies from mixes because I am always in a hurry but since this recipe was Betty Crocker and added yellow cake mix, which is one of my favorite things, I thought it was worth a shot.  Let me tell you, this recipe was better than advertised!  I made the cookies smaller then the recipe called for because I didn't want each cookie stacker to be a full meal!

I changed the frosting slightly.  My family enjoys cream cheese frosting so I made a variation that included 4 oz. of cream cheese, 1 TBS of butter, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 TBS milk, and enough powdered sugar to make the frosting stiff but spreadable (about 2 cups).  Then I divided the frosting into four containers and colored each batch.  I used icing color gels, you could use Wilton gels but I used Americolor gel paste because my local store had the Americolor in the electric colors.  
 After separating the icing into four small dishes, I tinted one Electric Blue, one Regal Purple, one Electric Pink, and one Electric Yellow.  I know you can make any color from red, blue, and yellow but purple is a very difficult color to make using red and blue!  Anyway, I began frosting cookies and stacking them.  Then I took some of the yellow and mixed it with the remaining blue to get electric green (or a close enough color) and added the rest of the yellow to the pink to get electric orange.  Miraculously, I ended up with the exact amount of icing that I needed to frost each cookie!
Here is the final stack of cookie stackers! Aren't the rainbow colors so great?!
I used multi-colored sanding sugar instead of the color sprinkles because I had the sugar on hand.

  The details of the cookies was just to great to pass up!

They looked so cute and tasted great!  Most importantly they were super simple to make.  Oh, and everyone loved them!  I think the adults were way more impressed than the sweet girl I was trying to impress!  

Here are two more pictures from that visit.  I couldn't resist posting these since we were able to go to the zoo in January without freezing!  In Ohio, that is unreal!  
My hubby with sweet Aubrey 
Our mandatory self-portrait.  We went to the zoo on our second date and have taken one of these pictures every time since!