some days.

some days I just sit and read while the boys play in the back yard.  
currently I am the last person reading "The Shack". 
there are eight other books on my pile...I'll share those in another post.
some days dinners here are less than awesome.
doug and I ate pizza.  moses had cereal (in his bike helmet and rain boots) and aaron had waffle.
but we were eating together.  and that is the most important part to me.
some days I see a recipe that I HAVE to make immediately.  
this is one.  and I will have to make it again, soon.

strawberry tomato salsa
a pint and a half of strawberries coarsely chopped.
an equal share of tomatoes coarsely chopped.
(i used what was on sale)
a heaping tablespoon of chopped cilantro
2 tbl sugar
6 tbl olive oil
3tbl balsalmic vinegar (i used a pomagranate infused one)
1/2tsp salt
8 green onions finely chopped

mix together all ingredients.  chill and serve with chips. 
i ate it for lunch three days in a row.  and Doug liked it. :) 

 some days you come up with a design that is finally shop worthy. :)

some days you stay up way too late watching the finale of your favorite show ever...LOST. 
thankfully your darling husband gets the coffee pot ready for you faithfully each day so all you have to do is push the button.  

and some wake up to find out that you were featured on one of your all time favorite blogs...

and I nearly did pee my pants.  What a great way to start a week...

the walls between us.

A dear sweet friend of mine recently wrote a lovely post about all the things about church going that have changed over the years and how she missed some of the things that were long gone...or different. 

She wrote it my head it conjured up lots of yellow sunshine, picnics on the lawn. Laughter and true Joy.  Being with your family and worshiping God together.   

It got me thinking.  It got me a little jealous.  Her post was lovely...interwoven with wonderful memories of attending church with her family...of a remembering a safe and warm place.  My heart aches just a little at someone having those kind of memories...both of family church attendance and of having a down right lovely traditional church experience.  

It got me thinking about how I have never had a traditional church experience that was remotely lovely.  And it reminded me a little about why I get so nervous inviting folks to the kinds of churches that get ME excited for the Lord.  

Let me explain.  I grew up in the Bible belt.
There are churches on every corner...and churches in between those churches.  Many of them full of people who "go to church" but are not really part of the church.  Some go faithfully every Sunday and some only on Easter and Christmas. 
I did not grow up with my family going to church.  I have been in a church exactly one time with my parents...the day I married Doug.  I DID beg and plead to go to church with friends growing up and managed to visit several churches in our area that way. 

And let me tell you...every visit was the same.  Some say it would be best for each church to offer the same experience.  Well this is true of the places I visited.  I would go with a friend and I would stick out every time.  I was the one who never knew when to sit or stand.  Who knew none of the hymns.  Who did not have on a new dress.  Who did not know where to go or what to do and when.  

And with more than one glance or another I was made aware of all of this.  I was made to be aware that God had a set of rules that you had to follow and THEN He would have you.  First you have to sit in a hard, ninety degree angled pew.  Then you had to know the hymns and when to stand and how to be...and oh yeah, go buy a new dress and bring your parents next time. 
Dozens of church going experiences in my neck of the woods let me know that this is what I can expect of God:
me.  wall.  wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall. wall.  God.
And good luck getting through those walls.

It wasn't until I started going to college in Radford and fate (yes, fate) brought me to New Horizons.  The second I walked in the door I knew something was different.  People were in jeans.  There were drums and guitars.  The pastor hugged me and was not dressed in anything fancier than I was.  You could drink coffee and have your breakfast as the sermon started.  The joy and energy of the worship team was palpable and contagious.  People stood and sat at their own accordance during worship...whatever you felt led to do.  Some folks would be on their knees...some would move to the back to worship...some would sit and some would stand.  And not an eye would be rolled.  Doctors showed up in scrubs...workers in their students in the pj's.  And it was all OK.  Kids were laughing and having fun with their friends.  God was Joy.

There were no requirements.  Just Love.  

And you know what...God was still respected and revered.  He was still honored and Loved above all.  
I attended that church for several years and learned that this is what God is like:

No wall.  No rules.  No need to be good enough first.  I was good enough.  As I am.

But even now it makes me nervous to bring people to church.  Because I am still drawn to the type of church New Horizons is.  I attend a church much like it now.  I have brought people to churches that I love and been judged as I stood there beside them...could feel them praying for my salvation before the end of the service.  I have taken folks to church with me only to receive an email or letter or call later confirming their worry over my soul.  

Their argument being (essentially)..."how can God and a drum set really coexist?  I mean come on Crystal...the gospel doesn't permit relaxation or comfy chairs.  I'll be praying for you."        

Ugh.  I agree with the statement that the Gospel should be the same no matter what church doors you walk through.  I also believe that you have to have hundreds of different kinds of churches to appeal to the hundreds of ways that God speaks to us all.  Some hear God in a wooden pew and in the comfort of knowing when to sit and stand and knowing every word in the songbook.  Some hear God on a mountain or in a field of wildflowers.  And that should all be OK. 

I hear God in a comfy chair, with jeans on, singing at the top of my lungs cause the music is loud enough to drown me out...being infected by the passion of the worship leader and feeling the resounding Joy of the pastor.  
And if a sweet lady walked in, in a new dress and Sunday best hat, I would say 
"Welcome, Jesus loves you." 

And leave it at that.

it's a funk, it's a funk, it's a funk funk funk.

ugh...i was going along...ideas flowing and was just getting my sewing machine warmed up.  then i nearly trimmed the end of my pinky finger off with my rotary cutter.  
ouch.  it was a nasty deep cut.  
and apparently it let my mojo out.

because I can not get in gear. :)

i have managed to get the things done that i had started...and I am plugging away on custom orders.  but new things are at a halt.
this is my third attempt at a new design for a composition book covers.  i can't bring myself to show you the first two...they have a date with the seam ripper.  :)
i did add some cute new totes to the shop...
...and a sweet set of hoops. :)

And I have a guest post over at "In Your Words". 

And a sweet post about me here at "It's a Good Day".  

And there are others too...but my brain is not cooperating with me at the moment. 

I have several posts written in my head...hopefully I can get them out soon. :)

the point {of life?}

In my...ever so humble opinion...the point of life is to know I can do better...all the while growing closer to the One who makes it all possible.  

To consistently learn and grow and improve and BE better.  To every day, in some tiny way, DESERVE the blessings that I have been given.  Though I know and understand that a thousand lives where I live a hundred years each and spend 24hours a day doing "good" could never even come close to me "earning my blessings".  I just want, in my small human way, to show that I am grateful and thankful.  

I'm a fan of things that rock you...that shake me up and mess up my pretty world.  And I'm not talking about drugs or alcohol or crazy parties...I'm talking knowledge, information, know how.  And I don't mean "knowing it all".

Give me a good book...or documentary or factual story.  Anything that will change me for the take me closer to being the person God has in mind for me to be. 

I could give you a thousand examples of this in my life...little things that I have learned that have turned me this way and that...that have changed habits, or decisions or what I read or listen to.  All instances where I suddenly KNOW better...therefore (in my opinion) I expect myself to DO better.  Knowledge has led to all sorts of changes in my life...getting saved made me clean up my music (even if most of it was "good" in the first place)...knowledge of business practices keeps me out of some stores...information about certain businesses will lead me to certain brands and not others. 

And before you say it...I don't just take information at face value...I do my research, find (what I think to be) the truths and act accordingly to how I feel led to change.

Research on fast foods keeps me away from fast food.  Reports about restaurant quality will keep me OUT of certain restaurants.  I sanitize almost everything  my kids touch in my hope of saving them from a germ or two. 

My most recent big bulb moment involves our choices about the foods we purchase.  For some time now we have bought organic...mostly milk, yogurt and some other things here and there.  Honestly I did it mostly to avoid all the "extras" that get pumped into animals.  Lately my thoughts have turned...I have a drive to buy organic for more than just what is put into the food....but the treatment of the food before it is food. 

Don't get me wrong...I totally believe that animals are here for our eating.  I have no qualms eating beef or chicken or anything else that lives and breathes.   

But I am feeling less and less ok about eating things that were mistreated before they came to the market.  This kind of thinking has been on my radar for sometime...but I was without the push to change and DO better.  Then we watched Food Inc. 

Done and done.  I officially know better.  Don't watch that movie unless you want to change how you look at each purchase that you make in the store.  One part that really stuck with me was when a huge chicken supplier wouldn't allow cameras on their their pens...I can stop wondering...what don't they want me to see?... and do I want to support a company that isn't transparent in its practices?

Since watching we have made some changes...slowly but surely moving toward a larger organic lifestyle.  I don't want to make a million changes all at once...cause that is a recipe for failure...instead we are going slow.  Starting with most of our meat.  Now if it were just me...that would be another story...I could live on granola and yogurt and peanut butter and fruit and fresh bread forever.  Being 100% organic would be EASY for just me.  

I was in the grocery store today to buy bacon to make with waffles.  
And I could not bring myself to buy any of the bacon there because none of it was organic.  I couldn't stop thinking about the movie and clips from it.  I've been having the same trouble with chicken, beef, etc. 

I was annoyed.  I wanted to buy my bacon and go home.  Not buy the rest of my groceries...get in my car AND go to Whole Foods.  But I did.  Because I KNOW better.  And I felt like my convenience and saving of a dime was not worth compromising on something that I am feeling more strongly about every day.  I'm learning more and more that convenience and ease is often at the cost of more than I am willing to compromise.

So I got in my car and drove to Whole Foods.  And paid $2 more than I would have at the other store.  
Honestly...the whole time I was driving there and shopping and paying...I was thinking to myself "Stupid granola crunching conscience". 

But it was organic...from pigs raised on a farm where they see the sun and are treated with respect.  And I got some other things that I needed while I was there it wasn't a complete loss.    

My point I what's the point of learning and growing if it doesn't change us? 

I'm not at all saying that my choices are always right or best and that you should take up my opinion as a substitute for your own...and this is NOT a judgement on anyone who eats ALL non-organic or whatever...

but I hope we can all strive to wake up each day and learn a little we can do a little better.  

At least that is my goal. :)

20 minute crafter. how to make a wreath with fresh greens.

I can't take credit for knowing how to do this.  I have to tip my hat to four long years of "Art Club" in high school.  Yes, I was in the art club.  I even held offices.  And if you like that...I was also in the Ecology club.  Held offices there too.  That's right.  I'm good with it. 

We made these wreaths every year as a fund raiser.  Super easy.  And takes less than 20 minutes once you have your greens.   
Here is what you need:
a straw form wreath (any size 12in is about $2 at Michaels)
greenery.  evergreens work the best...pine, magnolia, boxwood, holly.
"helper" is optional.
greening/floral pins.  I think I got these at Joanns for about $2.

First, get your "helper" to trim your hedges and save the clippings.
Grab a few springs of greens, with the wreath laying on the ground, place them on top of the wreath...not the inner ring or outer one...the middle. a greening pin around the bulk of your sprigs...about two inches from the ends...
...smoosh it down...
...continue around the wreath...layering each bunch onto the other by a few inches...go all the way around...
...then repeat the same process on the inner part of the wreath...and then on the outer ring...
...and you're done.  I prefer this simple look...but you could add other things...birds, nests, feathers...whatever makes you happy...this wreath will last for weeks. :)
I hung it by wrapping a ribbon around the wreath and attaching the ribbon to the screen door hardware...but you could use a wreath hanger if you are fancy like that.
In case you were wondering...this is what that little sign on the door says.  We live in the Bible belt and in a neighborhood of kids who are rude to us unless they are selling something and people seem to ring the doorbell ONLY when my kids are sleeping. 

And somehow...even though there is a sign right inside my house that asks people to remove their shoes...somehow a lot of people thinks this DOESN'T apply to them.  This is my way of assuring them that it does indeed apply to them. :)

Happy wreath making...even if you wait until Christmas to do it. :)

getting my bum in gear.

I admit.  I am having a hard time recovering from vacation...I am slooooooowly getting my bum in gear again...I have a HUGE pile of "have-to's" to do before I can get to my "want-to's".  I am taking today as a fresh start....and am really going to push myself OUT of vacation mode and into getting stuff done mode!

Let's start with the winner of the Pleated Poppy is YOU!!!   
Send me a little email if that is your blog link up there...and we will get you to your prize. 

Check that off the list. :) 

Also, I have the Nothing But Net fabric in hand!!! I hope to start cutting it up by the end of the week...more on that and the ever lovely sponsor soon!

AND the batting AND shipping now has a sponsor too!!! WOO HOO!! :)

Check that off!

In between doing the custom order "have to's" I am working on some new bags (aka want-to's).
I also have a ton of other new things I want to do....

Sort of check that off the list...

Now this was not on my list...but apparently on his.
Check "wear underwear on your head during nap time off of your list".


Now I am off to check "second cup off coffee" and "tend to a diaper rash" off of my list.

What are checking off your list today?

an all in one {vacation} post.

hang in there for one long post...just figured I would get it all out there. :)

we are blessed that Doug's grandparents own a condo in Boca Raton that they live in during the winter.  even more blessed that our in-laws could be there so that Doug and I could experience vacation and not just childcare in another state. :) 

we got to the airport with TONS of time to spare.  
good thing because Aaron kicked off our trip by throwing up in the back of the car. 
and for some reason moms are cursed with the instinct of throwing their hands out to CATCH we had a lot of cleaning up to do.  and praying.

with that past us the worst was over.  the boys loved the airport. 
aaron slept for 1 1/2 hours of a 2 and 1/2hour flight.  
sweet.  three of my limbs slept too.

upon arriving in florida aaron commenced eating every fifteen minutes.  that is not an exaggeration, just ask doug or my mother in law.  no sooner did we feed him did we hear "nom?" which is his word for eat. :)  Moses was the same way the last time we went. 
we swam every single day.  it was wonderful.  Moses is a champ...completely fearless.
one of my favorite parts of Florida is the grass...this grass was just mowed...and Aaron is knee deep.
Moses, of course, was in love with the palm trees.  He hugged more of them than I can count.  Everywhere we went we heard "There's a palm tree!".   
Hoho wasn't much of a swimmer.  He didn't mind to get in the just interfered with his eating schedule.  I could get him to stay in longer if I fed him blueberries while floating in his ring. :)
This is the view from the condo...that is the ocean out there.  On ONE walk and within 30 minutes Doug and I saw two 5-6ft nurse sharks, one moray eel and two barracuda.  Pretty much ensured that I will never swim in the ocean again.
LOVE these little boys.
Both boys loved getting some good grandparent time.  Doug's parents are the best and the boys just eat them up.  Doug and I got to spend time alone EVERY day thanks to his parents. :)

 We went to this awesome park one day.  Aaron decided this was the best time to poop.  And I failed to bring a diaper bag.  The park was close...but far enough away that I couldn't just run back to the condo to get a I scoured the park for another baby...hoping to beg a diaper and some wipes from some mom who might take pity on me.  I was just about to give up when I spotted a little girl who looked just young enough to be in diapers...and spotted her mom...who offered me a princess pull-up and some handi wipes (which I rinsed out thoroughly).  Lucky for me Aaron does not discriminate and the day was saved by Ariel, Cinderella and Belle. :)
We went on dates.  And celebrated his birthday.  He is the best.  I love him.
  Moses took to his grandparents right away and had no problem going off on adventures with them.  Doug's grandparents are all from the condo is a photo of a large group of their friends who get together every year...picture a photo of 50-60 Norwegians sitting together.  One day Moses looks at the photo and asks "Are these all the people that love Moses?". :)  
Which is made even more precious by the fact that every night when we pray with him we end with "Thank you for all the people that Moses loves, and all the people that love Moses".  
At least now he has a visual. :)
After nearly recovering from our previous shark sighting...we decided to be brave and try to snorkel.  I worked up every ounce of courage I could...and convinced myself that it was no big deal.  We were knee deep with our masks and whatnot...ready to jump in and go for it...and what do we see? ANOTHER shark...close enough to step on.  I ran screaming from the water exited calmly and decided to take that as a sign from God that I was not to snorkel that day.
Did I mention that I loved the grass?
Florida agreed with Aaron's hair...ensuring that it will be even longer before I am willing to cut it.
Moses was in boy heaven...he rode a plane, train and a bus.  Saw tons of animals...played in sand, ran, played and had a blast.
We went to the West Palm Zoo...which may be one of my favorite zoo's ever.  Moses, again, loved it.
The boys were boys...eating up all the attention and fun.
I walked by the ocean every single day...never. ever. get tired of that.
Along the inlet was a favorite place to walk...most days it was like looking into a huge could see all sorts of bright fish...yellow, red, turquoise, etc.  Of course...Moses loved it. :)
We had a great time...we relaxed.  We spent time together.  We caught up with ourselves. 
I read a real book in five days...that didn't rhyme or have pictures.  I caught up in my One Year Bible.  

Then we came home...plane ride was OK...bus to the lot was OK...then it started to pour rain...buckets and the boys and I huddled in a leaky bus stop while Doug went to get the car.  Which didn't start.  Because during the crazy of cleaning up the vomit from the beginning of the trip...someone with little fingers turned on the interior light...draining the battery.  Thankfully, Dulles has a free jump service...and the car started right up.  Then a trip that took us two hours to...took us 4 1/2 hours from...but other than that....

The best part of this wonderful vacation ending...was knowing that I had a pretty lovely life to come home to. :) ...and there is always next year. :)  

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