Dec 27, 2012

Flowers Fade Friday: Flourish

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am in love with God's Word. His Word is so powerful and has changed my heart in more ways than I can express to you. Even on days when I don't feel very eager to read Scripture {yes, those days do happen}, I never regret afterward that I took the time to read the Word of Life for at least a few minutes of my day. 

What about you? Do you read the Word? And when you do, are you growing as a disciple of Christ? I recently read this article that talks about why many Bible studies leave the heart thirsty for more...

My hope is in 2013, we can be women who flourish from reading the Word. It's my prayer that we would study the Bible with diligence covered in grace and watch with joy as God transforms us from the inside out. He has promised it. And His promises never fail.

Below is a list of some of my favorite Bible reading plans. I am copying the list I posted last year, but adding a few new ones to it that I've discovered during 2012.

If I could ask anything of you, sweet friends, it would be to pick a plan. Choose one. If not from this list, from somewhere else. Dive in to those life-giving waters of Scripture. Commit. Grow. His Word is our very life. His Word became flesh and dwelt among us...

* * * * *
Two Year Bible Reading Plan - This is nice because you read the whole Bible, but it's spread out over two years instead of crammed into one, which can be overwhelming. There are also "catch up days" built into the schedule in case you get behind because your toddler gets sick or whatnot. :)

For the Love of God - I am currently doing this one, but I've spread it out over two years. You read through the whole Bible in a year following the M'Cheyne reading plan {M'Cheyne was a Scottish pastor in the mid 1800s who came up with a Bible reading plan for his congregation that has since become the most-used plan in history.} Basically it's 3-4 chapters a day from different places in the Bible. Then D.A. Carson wrote two devotional books to go along with the plan that have been transferred to the For the Love of God Blog. You do your reading for the M'Cheyne plan each day and then you read a short devotional on the blog that pulls the different texts together and shows how the Gospel works together in all of them.

Slackers and Shirkers - This is a super easy Bible reading plan. Basically, it just breaks up the year into days of the week, and then under each day there is check box with a few passages of Scripture next to it. You read for the first Sunday, check it off, and when the next Sunday rolls around, you do the next reading and check it off. Then it does the same for each day of the week. And each day of the week is a specific genre, so Sundays might be the Pentateuch and Mondays might be the Epistles and so on. Here a pastor explains why he likes it.

Checklist - This plan basically allows you go at your own pace. You can make up any reading plan you want, and this checklist has every book of the Bible listed with its number of chapters. You just cross them out as you go. My only fear with this is that it's too open-ended and might be hard to stay on track. But then again, the freedom is nice and it will make it easy to honor the Bible instead of idolizing the schedule!

ESV Study Bible - Not sure if you have an ESV Study Bible, but here are a bunch of reading plans to go with that. When I read through the Bible in 2010, I also read all the ESV study notes with it and I have never learned so much from God's Word in my life!

YouVersion - Do you have YouVersion on your iPhone? This list has all the different reading plans {some with devotionals} that you can do on YouVersion, and you read the Bible right on your phone!

Solid Joys - Desiring God came out with a new Bible app a few months ago that has a devotional reading from various John Piper books along with Scripture. This is what I plan to do in 2014 after I finish the Love of God blog.

She Reads Truth -  What started as a handful of female bloggers holding each other accountable to read Scripture this past summer has turned into an international movement where women are studying the Bible together all over the world. God's grace and goodness have been so evident in the whole ordeal. Now you can follow along with the current She Reads Truth plan through YouVersion on your phone.

Chronological Bible - The first time I ever read through the whole Bible, I used the Chronological Bible. It puts all the chapters of the Bible into their {most likely}chronological order instead of the order in which they are traditionally published. For example, when you read about Saul trying to kill David in the wilderness, you also read the Psalms that David most likely wrote, crying out to God, when that trial was occurring. The only difficult thing about this Bible is that you don't get to the New Testament until September! But the awesome thing is that you will read the Old Testament with new eyes and gain so much understanding of the Gospel throughout history.

I hope this helps you choose a plan. Clearly, there are many options out there, but these are the ones I have researched. Please let me know if you choose one! And feel free to pass this on if you hear of anyone else looking for a reading plan for next year. Praying that God blesses you through His Word in 2013!

Dec 26, 2012

The Best of Australia {2012}

Driving on the left...

Max Brenner hot chocolate...

The breathtaking view of the Sydney Harbor from Taronga Zoo...


And peacocks too...

Wearing my floppy hat at Manly Beach...

Flat whites everyday...

Wild kangaroos...

The koala hospital...

Devouring a novel...

Byron Bay Lighthouse...

Renting electric bikes on Gold Coast...

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef...

Watching kite surfers in Noosa...

The South Bank of Brisbane at night...

Dec 20, 2012

Light of the World

Hello Arizona Russum readers! I'm Veronica and I blog over at Passion, Pink and Pearls where mostly I write about the daily blessings the Lord grants me, aka everyday life. I've always admired Jen's sweet writing, and I've felt so refreshed after many of her posts. I'm so honored to be a guest post for her today.

With the Christmas season upon us, Jen asked for some Christmas appropriate posts. What better Christmasy post than one about the tree? A quick history lesson for you, did you know long ago people decorated their trees with items you'd eat like fruit? It wasn't until the 18th century till the tree started to have lights, by candle. The earliest record of a tree is back the Renaissance area in Germany, where children would gather to snatch a sweet treat from the tree. There's a lot more interesting facts you can read about here.

Well this craft was originally brought to you by Hayseed Home Makin' blog, but I discovered it where else{?} but pinterest. I thought it was be a sweet, fairly simple and inexpensive way to dress up our first Christmas tree. Especially since we don't have many ornaments.

Matthew 5:14-16
14 "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Mallory Jane, did a pretty good explanation of her process but I edited it a bit for our use.

-Christmas lights (2packages of 100 count it what we used), the green colored strand if you're going to use it for a tree.
- 2 yards of Tulle, any kind will work, I chose a white one with a bit of sparkle ( hope onto JoAnn's and snag a coupon before you hit the store to make it extra inexpensive).
-scissors, preferably sewing scissors to make your cuts smoother.

Job 33:28
 He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.
Definitely enlist help!
How To:
- Mallory cut big pieces because she used them as decor on their own...I cut smaller squares. I ended up with about 8cm squares (centimeters happened because I accidentally read the wrong side of the ruler when measuring and turned out great at this size though). I'd recommend maybe cutting a little bigger squares. Cut up a ton of squares but don't use all the fabric up.
- Grab someone to help ( I snagged my husband), snap on a Christmas movie (we chose Home Alone) and get to tying. We tied one by every light bulb.
-Once you get all the way through the strand put it on the tree!
-You'll likely have some squares left, we used those extras to fill in on the strand where the tree looks a little sparse.
-Finally, if you chose to leave enough out, use the last big of tulle to tie a big bow for the top of the tree. There's lots of tutorials on line for tulle bows, I kind of looked at a few and made up my own.

- Note: unless you're super anal about it, you won't have every square be perfectly square and all the same size...and that's okay.
-Mallory put some lace in with one of her tutorials. That would look pretty too, I imagine there's all kinds of variations you do on this.
-Have some fun...oh and take some better pictures than me! ;)

That's it! Not too hard really, and we love the final product! Since it's our first Christmas, we don't have many ornaments so this was a perfect solution to try and fill up our tree without having to hit up Walmart for tons of colored balls. Hope you enjoyed this simply DIY and click on over to my blog for some more Christmas DIY. Many thanks to Jen for letting me take over her sweet blog today and good luck on your packing!

Matthew 5:16
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Dec 19, 2012

A Christmas Scrapbook

Hi! I'm Ashley, the wife and mama behind the blog Pencilled Daydream.

Today I want to share one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Every year, like many families, we send out a Christmas card with a family photo. And one way I love to document our family is by saving those family pictures in a scrapbook. I love the idea of scrapbooking! There are so many cute ways to frame photos and so many adorable stickers that can go with any theme. But you should notice that I said I like the idea of scrapbooking, not actually doing it. I will confess I've never actually made a scrapbook. I am busy taking care of two babies and need a little help which is why I love this little book so much. A sweet friend gave this 
to me as part of a wedding shower gift.  This scrapbook is wonderful because all you have to do is add photos. Now that is my kind of scrapbooking! This is a great book because of how easy it is, but also because of the tradition that goes with it.


Each year I make a Christmas card that has a family photo. A great tradition is to keep one Christmas card from each year (or to take a family photo around Christmas) and place it in a pre-made scrapbook. It becomes a family album and it is so fun to see the changes every year. Mark and I have had a significant change that is visible in each picture. The first year we had a wedding picture as well as a picture we took in Bethlehem. The second year a baby bump made an appearance in our card. The third year Elias was born and the fourth year Owen made his way into the picture.


What You Will Need:
A pre-made scrapbook
A new family picture each Christmas

    Dec 18, 2012

    Homemade Eggnog!!!

    This is Jen.... Micah is going to be obsessed with this recipe. He will also challenge you to an eggnog chugging competition any time of year. And he will win. It's gross. Just FYI! :)

    * * * * *

    I'm so excited Jen asked me to join y'all today! My name is Beth and I blog over at dot in the city about faith and food, sprinkled with social media tips, DIY projects and thrifty finds for you and your home.

    Do you have a favorite Christmas recipe? I love to bake cookies and make other sweet treats this time of year. A few years ago I had my first taste of homemade eggnog. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised and it's a recipe I like to have in my repertoire for holiday gatherings I may host/attend (especially if everyone else already has to sweets covered).

    (recipe adapted from Alton Brown)

    1 pint whole milk
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    4 eggs (raw and separated)
    1/3 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon
    3 oz. rum (optional)
    pinch of pumpkin pie spice

    In the bowl of stand mixer, beat egg yolks until lighter in color
    Gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and beat until dissolved
    Add milk, cream, rum and spice and stir to combine
    Remove mixture from bowl, set aside
    Place egg whites in bowl of stand mixer and beat to soft peaks
    While mixer is still running, gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar, beat until stiff peaks form, whisk egg whites into the mixture, and serve chilled

    Thanks for letting me share this fun and festive holiday recipe! I hope you'll take the time to catch me on Twitter. I also love to connect via Facebook and Instagram, so feel free to reach me there too.

    Dec 17, 2012

    Second Honeymoon?

    We just spent two days in Byron Bay and wish we could have stayed longer. I highly recommend it for a honeymoon spot FYI! I took my surf lesson and survived. At first, it was rough because my instructor, Gaz {short for Gary here, isn't that weird?}, made me go with my right foot back. Usually I am goofy foot {left foot back} when I snowboard and wake surf {neither of which I am good at and don't do often, so don't get any ideas that I am super athletic or coordinated... because that's sadly not the case}, but Gaz insisted I would never reach my potential as a surfer if I insisted on going goofy foot.

    My real question is: do I really have any potential as a surfer either way? I mean, I'm 30. Micah and I want to start a family in the somewhat near future {no comments from eager grandparents-to-be please}. And again, I'm not naturally that athletic. If I can go surfing on a long board a few times a year and get up at least 50% of the time, I'm happy. I don't think going goofy foot is going to inhibit my future professional surfing career.

    Nonetheless, Gaz insisted on changing my stance and my first few waves were rough and involved me falling awkwardly each time and possibly bruising my tailbone on the ocean floor. Finally, I started to get the hang of it {eyes on the beach to surf; eyes on the water to swim} and I will say I improved a little from my first surf lesson in Waikiki on our honeymoon.

    Maybe I'll give it a go again in a couple years.

    Now we are in Surfer's Paradise on Gold Coast. Rumor has it this place gets pretty crazy on weekend nights, but on a Tuesday during the day, it seems pretty tame and pleasant... just a big city with skyscrapers right up on the shore of the ocean. Today, Micah and I were walking back from breakfast {or brekkie as the locals would say} and we saw electric scooter rentals for super cheap - $20 for two hours. On a whim, we rented two of them and road them along the beach all the way north of town, where we arrived at a jetty called "The Spit." From there we could look back and see they city skyline right along the beach a few miles south of us. It was pretty spectacular. And the bikes were really fun. I think I want one to keep...

    This afternoon we have a long drive ahead of us to the Town of 1770. Tomorrow we are taking a ferry ride to Lady Musgrave Island where we will snorkel the southern tip of the Great Barrier Reef. The sad news is that we lost our underwater camera in Byron Bay. The wrist strap on it broke and it was swept out to sea. The good news is that we are about to see the Great Barrier Reef with the naked eye, which is so much better than through a camera lens.

    Just enjoying a Tim Tam. Honeycomb is the best kind, in case you were wondering. // Port Stephens.

    Byron Bay Lighthouse.

    Tallow Beach {Byron Bay} at Sunset.

    Main questions of the trip: 1) Is Hungry Jack's more like a Burger King or a Jack in the Box? Answer: Burger King. We finally went there today and discovered a Whopper on the menu. 2) What is the best Australian candy bar? BOOST is the answer! We've had three so far, but I see a few more in our near future.

    Cruising Gold Coast. Don't worry, we wore our helmets when we weren't posing for pictures...

    I know some of you are adamantly against coffee Instagrams, but I need you to know that I am going strong on my daily vanilla flat white... in case you were worried about my caffeine intake down under. On the right you will see, not a burrito, but a big bundle of fish and chips. One of the best and most affordable meals we've had so far on our trip!

    DIY {faux} Grain Sack Tree Skirt

    Hey lovelies,

    Today, I am delighted to introduce my friend, Ashley, to you. This woman is kind of a big deal in my life, because she is the first person who got me interested in blogging, which made start researching mommy bloggers, which made me change the concentration of my PhD.... and now I am going to write one of my dissertation chapters about her. No joke. Anyway... Ashley is fun, funny, and crafty to the max, like I'll never be. She scours Craigslist on the daily and turns free junk into treasures. In fact, she just opened a new Etsy shop and I definitely think you should check it out! She didn't ask me to say that... I really think you should hop on over there. You won't be disappointed!

    * * * * *

    "Hi Arizona Russums readers!  I'm so glad that we have all have so much in common - we love Jen!  She's amaze balls, and the real life highlight of my family's regular Arizona visits. I always try to jump at the opportunity to share some fun stuff with you guys whenever she offers, so here goes!  And make sure to jump over to visit me at Dirt Stains and Paint afterward!"

    * * * * *

    Christmas is here! And I've got some fun projects to share that I've been working on!

    First up:

    I was originally inspired by this cover photo on this year's Souvenir Magazine - Christmas edition.

    Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

    I just love the vintage charm that it adds to the Christmas decor.

    So I headed to Home Depot, and picked up a simple 5'x5' drop cloth to start.

    The steps were pretty simple, and I'd recommend just popping on some good Christmas tunes to keep you company.

    Let's get started...

    Step 1:
    1.  Layout your drop cloth and iron out the wrinkles.  I put my iron on the lowest setting, and made sure to put a towel underneath so as not to sear anything to my lovely hardwood floors.  Husband would not have been too happy about that. :)

    Step 2:
    2.  I used our previous tree skirt, as seen under the tree yesterday, as a pattern. If you don't have a tree skirt to measure, you can simply use your math skills and measure out a circle to be your desired diameter.

    Step 3:
    3. Cut out said drop cloth following traced pattern.  Easy enough.

    Step 4 & 5:
    4.  Use a ruler, I determined the halfway point on the skirt, which happened to be at 11", and knew that would be the center of the thickest stripe.  I marked 11" all the way around the skirt because I'm terrible at eye-balling, and have always been a "color in the lines" type girl.  This stripe was 2 inches wide all the way around.

    5.  For the smaller ticking stripe, I simply measured about an inch below the thicker stripe, and marked that all the way around the skirt.

    I originally had marked off two thinner stripes, like the photo, but painting the stripes in took longer than I anticipated, so I bailed.  An additional thinner stripe probably would look a little better if I'm honest.

    Step 5:
    6.  I simply grabbed a small sponge brush and painted in my stripes all the way around.  The red that I used was Behr's Regal Red.  It happens to be the perfect Christmas red for my home this year, and I'm using it all over the place!

    That's it!

    It adds the perfect amount of vintage charm to the tree!

    Not too shabby for $5.99!

    Are you having a vintage Christmas?  How do you add vintage charm to your home without dropping a lot of money?

    To see more of our Christmas decor click here.

    Dec 16, 2012

    The Cutest Christmas Bunting! {Part II}

    Hello TAR readers!  This is Erin Kimbell, Independent Consultant with Rodan and Fields, sometimes blogger at The Simply Fabulous and a stay at home mom.  I was thrilled when Jen contacted me about writing a guest post while she is on her adventure Down Under!

    I am a huge fan of the bunting trend.  So much in fact that today I am bringing you a burlap Christmas bunting tutorial.  I love the look that bunting brings to a party or home decor.  I created one out of simple black and white buffalo check for Halloween and was so sad when the time came to take it down.  So, I thought, why not make another for Christmas!?  This burlap bunting reads "Noel" which derives from Old French meaning Christmas and day of birth in Latin.  Such a beautiful way to remind us of the reason for the season.  Every time I see it I break out in singing "The First Noel."  One of my all time favorite Christmas hymns.

    White Cardstock
    White acrylic paint
    Ruffled ribbon, Ric Rac, or contrasting ribbon
    Sewing Maching

    For the pennants on this bunting I used natural burlap that I bought at Hobby Lobby.  This is such a small project, so I only used about 2 feet of fabric.  Begin by cutting the fabric into pieces that measure approximately 6 inches wide by 8 inches tall. 

    Cut a "V" in the center of each pennant by folding it in half lengthwise and snipping on the diagonal towards the center.

    For this tutorial, I simply printed out my phrase in my desired font and traced the letters onto the burlap.  This worked well because of the loose weave of the fabric.  You can also use a cutting machine if you have one, or as I have done in the past, use an Exacto knife to cut out the letters individually and use as a stencil.

    Then, using a small paintbrush, paint your letters with acrylic paint.  I used what I had in my crafting closet and don't think the brand particularly matters.

    Using your sewing machine, stitch your desired trim along the top side of the pennants to hold it all together.  I spaced them out about an inch and a half but use your own judgment here! I love this pleated ribbon from Hobby Lobby but I have also created beautiful buntings using lace, grosgrain ribbon, and Ric Rac.  I left about 2 feet at each end of the bunting to use for hanging.  

    What do you think?  I love how it turned out!  My Christmas decor is naturally festive with lots of faux greenery and a touch of metallic sparkle.  I even have a ruffled monogrammed burlap tree skirt!  So this darling little Noel burlap bunting is the perfect addition!  I tried it in our entry with my sweet little snowmen and on the mantle with our stockings.  Which to you prefer?!

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