20 minute crafter-candy cane hearts for Valentines!

 I know, I know, it's barely January.  But.  I wanted to show you this before you threw out all those left over candy canes from Christmas.  You  know the ones...the extra box you bought "just in case" or the ones you hid from your kids to keep them from eating anymore candy.  Those candy canes.  Study this post and then pull out those candy canes for Valentines day.  Okay?  Anyone can makes these.  They are a 1 on the difficulty scale with 10 being those carvings made from pencil lead. 
 Here is what you need: 
Candy melts (from Micheal's) (I used 6-7 melts per mini candy cane heart)
Lolly pop sticks (from Micheal's)
Sprinkles (You can get them in the $1 bins of Target right now!!!)
Leftover candy canes in pairs
Microwave safe bowl
Wax paper
 Before you melt your candy arrange your candy canes and lollypop sticks like so on top of your wax paper.  I put my wax paper on top of a cutting board to keep from scalding the surface. 
 Melt your candy per directions on the bag.  I microwaved it for 30 seconds, stirred, microwaved for 30 seconds, etc until it had a pouring consistency. 
 Then, by the spoonful, I filled in the hearts made by the candy canes.  You can give your cutting board a gentle tap to settle the candy a bit.  Be sure to gently push your hearts back together in case they moved while adding the candy. 
 Load them up with sprinkles while still melty.  Or squinkles, as Aaron calls them. 
 Allow to set up completely.  I just left them on the counter but I'm sure you could pop them in the fridge. 
You can package them with a simple cellophane wrapper and a tag and you are DONE! :)

Yay you!

You are so awesome.

Go spread some love. :) xo
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a rally call to the tired and weary.

This is a letter to the tired and weary, on the first day of the NEW year. 
I write this to you with MUCH joy and hope for your future. 

You can consider this a letter to the past, to the me of January 1, 2011.  When I felt, indeed alone and lost and weary.  Beyond hope and full of despair.  I felt my dreams crushed and beyond my reach.  I felt isolated and in the dark.  

I was never suicidal, but this time last year, I was BEGGING for Jesus to come back.  Or to go to sleep and not wake up.  It was a tough, tough spot. 

And I know that chances are, with the traffic that comes through these "doors", that some of you reading this know EXACTLY where I was, because you are there.  This letter is to you. 

Dear sweetly broken girl,

I know you feel hopeless and "done".  I know you are tired of trying and want to give up.  I know that you don't know how you will get through the rest of the day, let alone another whole year that looms ahead of you.  I know you feel like your prayers fall on deaf ears...that God feels further than he has ever been.  Can I gently suggest that he may be closer than ever?  That the shadows that surround you may be the hand of God hiding you in the cleft of the rock protecting you? 

Exodus 33:22 says "When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by."

That means His hand is on you.  Protecting you from danger.  I know it doesn't feel that way.  Believe me, I know.  You have never felt further from His touch.  You feel punished.  You feel deserted.  But HE IS THERE.  Use this time to push towards Him.  When you are sad, read the Bible.  When you hurt, read a devotional.  When you feel alone, read the Bible.  When you are desperate pray...out loud...in a scream if you must.  Give it your all, He can take it.  DIG your heels in and refuse to let go.  Pull from every ounce of stubbornness you can muster up. Don't stop going to church, don't stop reaching out, don't give up on community.  Stick to your guns.  Go through the same motions that you would if things were "normal".  In some areas, I dare say "Fake it til you make it".  

Ask anyone who will listen to pray for you.   
Ignore anyone who tells you to get over it. 

God has not left you.  He is not punishing you.  He still loves you.  He has a plan FOR YOU.  It's better than yours.  I can testify to the fact that if we had gotten all we prayed for in January of 2011, that we would be in a world of hurt come January 2012.  

I can trace most of the steps of both answered and unanswered prayers from the last year and time has brought much confusion into focus, in a way that only time can.  I can tell you, that if God doesn't answer a prayer the way you would like, that He is either protecting you or has something better in mind.  Or both.     


I just don't want you to give up.  


There is good around the corner.  This time next year or in the future, you will be wiser.  And better.  More patient and more kind.  If you are seeking Him, you will be closer than ever.  You will fight for the presence that you have with him now because...    

He is close to the brokenhearted. 

Don't waste this chance to grow. 
Don't give up. 
Don't stop going to church. 
Don't stop reaching out.
Don't stop reading the Bible.   

I've noticed that people who do these things, do so at the least appropriate time in their lives, ever.  By doing these things, you are only doing the bidding of the enemy.  he wants you alone and isolated.

You are punishing yourself, not God. 

My pastor said something this morning that stuck with me...to HEAR God, you have to put yourself in His proximity.  You have to know Him and seek Him to HEAR Him.  It just doesn't work with wishing.    

I am just here to beg you to not give up.  It does get better.  

As I sit here, at the cusp of a new year, I feel like I am carrying around less "junk" than EVER in my life.  And I know it is by the grace of God and my stubbornness to BE JOYFUL.  I know that I am "better" than ever because instead of isolating myself, I rolled up my sleeves and said "Let's do this".   


My dreams have been restored.  And they gleam more than ever before.  Instead of pining that we are not home YET, I am making sure that every decision and action we take takes us closer to that goal.  I am restoring and reaching out and pushing forward.  I am enjoying THIS day and whatever it brings.  I am choosing to be thankful and focus on our blessings. 

It is a process to get from January 1, 2011 to January 1, 2012.  But YOU CAN DO IT!

I want you to know that you are not alone.  I believe that you can push through. 

I will leave you with this fresh thought, for a fresh new year.  One that YOU can choose to make awesome:

“Behold, I am making all things new.” Rev 21:5

And as our pastor pointed out...that is present tense, my friend.  

Much love and hope to you in this New Year of the new you,
Crystal
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one more Christmas recap.

I'm a little slow on the post Christmas recovery.  I apologize.  I was so blessed with an amazing amount of business this last year that I am STILL catching up on orders that were placed before Christmas.  2012 will hopefully find me doing things a little differently and in a way that will not burn me out...we shall see.  The bottom line is that I am blown away by all God has done for me.  If we could sit down and share a coffee I would tell you all about it...it's the kind of story that deserves that kind of intimacy.  But if you need some encouragement...please email me.  I would be happy to take some time to share a little with you. :)

But for right now....can you stand one more Christmas recap?  If for no other reason than when I publish my blog it will be included. :)
The first thing we did Christmas morning was light some candles and sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!  The boys love this tradition and it helps us to keep the focus first thing.  :)  
Moses was estatic with each and every gift...as you can tell from his reaction to a $1 coloring book. :) At one point during the day Uncle B asked him if he had a good Christmas and Moses replied "I will be thankful for what I got", with a smile on his face.  I will say, that with all the well thought out gifts the boys got...their favorite things?  $1 whoopie cushions. 
 We opened stockings and then tore into our traditional Christmas morning monkey bread.  Always a well received treat...Aaron kept telling every one "WE HAD DONUTS FOR BREAKFAST!!!". 
These two are the best.  I am thankful for really wonderful boys who are kind and are overall really good kids. :) It was a great Christmas.  But can I say?  I'm glad it's over.  It's so nice to see Doug more than 45 minutes in a day and it will be so great to go shopping without having to be a defensive shopper! :)  On to new things...
And this is something very new...something that I have been working on for some time and praying about for even longer.  My prints have done really well...I have been so blessed and I am so thankful for the boost in both my confidence and my business.  My plan is to, one at a time, "adopt" a family that is in the process of adopting a child, create a piece of art for them and give it to them to sell prints of to raise money for their adoption.  I haven't worked out all the details of it all yet but it is something I am praying for God to bless.  Just a little way to give back and show my thanks for the skill and blessings God has given to me.  Above is the very first in this series for a family I go to church with.  I'm not sure how I will go about finding the next family but I'm sure God does. :) 
Here's one of the pre-Christmas orders that I just finished up...it's become so popular that I have made a "made to order" listing in my shop. :)
And Christmas is officially gone in our house.  I took down all the things from many walls in my house, filled in the holes and touched up the paint.  The results are a crisp, clean and fresh mantle.  Made complete with a fun pom-pom garland.

We are ready for the new year...for Aaron's 3rd birthday, for a trip to New Jersey, a trip to Florida and plans for a garden this spring...some fun things that will get us through the next few weeks of bleary, gray winter. :)

I'm also working with Blogher and Best Buy to review and giveaway some really FUN fitness products.  It's going to be FUN! :)

Is there something you would like to see me try, share or conquer in the craft and sewing world?  Let me know in the comments and I will see what I can do! :)

Happy day to you friends!  
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good morning!

It's the day after Christmas and my heart is full to the brim with good things.  Our Christmas was beyond lovely, relaxed and wonderful and we leave it behind with much anticipation towards the new year. :)  We couldn't have asked for a better day...maybe more time off for Doug but we are also very thankful for his job.

I have so many great and exciting plans for this new year we are approaching...things I can't wait to share with you but first....

Today marks the day of one of my favorite parts of Christmas...packing up all the Christmas decorations and cleaning my house from top to bottom!  It has me wondering...when do you reclaim your house post Christmas?  Will you have your house back by the end of the day or will it look the same come Valentines?

Hope your heart is full and light! :)  
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Looking in the right direction...

With Christmas, as with, well, almost any day of the year for a lot of women, comes some sort of basic instinct type of competition.  Not for all women, but for many, they find themselves in the trenches of of hard core mommy comparison.  A joy stealing, confidence robbing sort of sport that leaves them feeling insecure and not good enough. 

I speak from experience here. 

Exactly a year ago today you would have found me in the same position.  Trying my best but not feeling nearly adequate.  Looking from peer to peer to see all the ways that I did not measure up.  It left me in a cold ugly place.  I am surrounded by amazing women...both friends and family.  At times my meager "stay at home mom" existence seemed puny in comparison. 

2011 was a bastard of a winter.  It came with cold temperatures and tough lessons.  Lots of digging out of decay and ugly from my soul and tilling of ground for new planting.  I hated it.  But I love it and almost long for it now.  I have never felt closer to the Lord than I did last winter.  I felt Him.  I heard Him.  I KNEW He was near.  It was a true beautiful mess.  I am grateful for it.  It left me as a person and a mom better equipped to look up and down and no longer to the left and the right.  I left comparison alone and cold in the winter of 2011.

I clung to the verse "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:5".  I got to work removing planks.  And trees and twigs and at times, what felt like log cabins.  And you know what?  If you concentrate on that...you will never have time to inspect anothers speck.  You won't have time to look to the left or the right at your peers. 

Imagine two identical cars.  Two cars that came off of the production line within moments of each other.  Identical in every way.  Give one to a 75 year old lady who goes to church twice a week and to the market once.  Give the other to a 16 year old.  Enough said.  Two identical cars.  Two separate and very different lives they will lead.  You would never compare the two cars after five years or ten.  You wouldn't expect them to be the same as each other any longer.  You can do the same with any two things...dogs, sisters, houses and even twins will live totally different lives from each other.  Wouldn't it seem foolish to expect the same results at the end of each life? 

Why, oh why, are we drawn to comparison? 

I dare say, it is because we are looking in the wrong direction.  The left and right direction.  The "what's my friend doing that is better than me" direction.  Even the "what I am I doing "BETTER" than so and so direction".  Each equally damaging.  I challenge you to knock it off. 

Look down.  See your children.  Are they happy?  Are the joyful?  Do they laugh and have fun?  Are they energetic and full of imagination?  Do others enjoy their company?  Are their teachers and peers saying good things about them?  Are they learning to love the Lord?  Are they full of tenderness and compassion for others?  Do they see you and your husband loving the Lord and each other?  Focusing on theses things will bring more peace than looking to the right and left will. 

Look up.  Find your saviors face in your mind.  Are you trying to please him?  Are you seeking his will for your family?  Is he number one or a number on a list?  Are you in the word or in the world?  Are you praying to him?  Are you praying for your family and kids?  Would you be happy to recount your actions to him?  Does what is in your heart bring him joy?  Are you doing what will make him proud or what will make people like you more?  Focus on these things to truly find joy in all things. 

It's always been my nature to get things done as soon as possible.  I would very nearly start the class project in college as soon as I read the syllabus.  Come the end of the semester I was done and relaxed while many of my friends were crazed with stress.  It never went over well with friends that I was done and they were not.  But more often than not, we would both come out with the same grade.  I didn't do things better, just DIFFERENTLY.  Different is OK.  Different does not make others less or more...nor does it make YOU less or more.  It's the comparison of the differences that brought and brings conflict and hurt.  Comparison steals Joy.   

Embrace what makes you different from other mothers.  No one has YOUR kids or YOUR husband or YOUR job or YOUR life.  It's OK that your kids childhood will be different than your best friends kids or your worst enemies.  In the end...

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't. Eleanor Roosevelt.  

And with that I am praying that YOU will only look up or down to get approval and to get your actions in check.  That you find joy in knowing that you are doing the best you can do.  Look down at the baby in the manger...helpless yet all the help we need...look up at the God who is preparing a place for you and have Peace this Christmas and all of 2012 and beyond.  
Love and Christmas blessings to you friends.  
I am thankful for you stopping by and sharing your time and hearts with me. :)
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Christmas times. :)

With finally being caught up on all pre-Christmas orders and Christmas gifts my creative brain has exploded into all the fun projects I have had on my pinterest boards for ages and I am having a great time pouring through them...rocks turned cute things was first on my list...
 followed by "make a glove into a bear".  :)
I've also had time to update one of my favorite items in the shop.  After Christmas you will be able to add either a name meaning or a date of birth to my ever popular name pillows. :)
And this year we had two Christmas cards made up.  Sara Luke, my all time favorite, made this one for us....
...and I bought this one from my friend Heather when she was raising money for a charity cause whose name is escaping me at the moment. :)  Both lovely and both sent out...some to some and some to others. :)
And randomly, Moses asked if he could go see "the pretend Santa" at the mall.  With him we have talked about how Santa was once a real person, who did good for others when he was alive, but how that was a long time ago, how people pretend to be him now, etc, etc.  Which of course, because of the stage that Moses is in, led to a whole conversation about how Santa died and where he is buried, etc.  So Moses prompted his asking to see this "pretend Santa" with "Remember when Santa died...well can we go see the one who pretends to be him and dress up like him?"  This is a HUGE milestone for Moses, who up until now has been deathly afraid of any adult in a costume. :)    
And here's what Porkchop has been up to...the arrival of our new Hokie nutcracker prompted a game of table top toy football...
 And the squinkies exacting revenge on our elf...
...Gulliver's travels style. :)

I hope this finds you a little relaxed...if not a lot...and enjoying some of the little things of this Christmas season. :)
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20 minute crafter-yoda peg doll

 I made these in less than 15 minutes...you CAN too...want to?  Here's how...
Here's what you need:
craft paint in light brown, yoda green and dark brown (or a brown sharpie).
Peg dolls.  I buy them from Goose Grease
a tiny bit of polyfil or cotton
a scrap of leather or stiff fabric
glue gun
Start by painting the body...everything below the neck.
Cut out some yoda ears...basically the shape of two leaves tip to tip...I used scraps of leather...but you could use card stock or a stiff fabric.
 Paint the heads and the ears green.
 Now to make his robe just add lines as the photos show using paint or a sharpie...line one...
 ...line two...
 ...and three...
 and four...
 ...five and some little details...
Here's what it looks like on a different doll.
 Add two little eyes with a black sharpie or a dot of paint. I like them low and wide. :)
Now hot glue your ears to the back of the head...low on the back. 
Here's what it looks like from behind...
Then add just the tiniest bit of wisps of hair (I used polyfil) using your glue gun.
 And you're done!
Cutest, easiest Yodas ever. :)
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custom order sunday and what i made for monday-easy caramel popcorn

Here's a double post for you...just so you know I have not given up on custom order Sundays or what I made for mondays...custom orders were still happening and treats are still being made. :)

Here's what I made for this Monday...

This is my friend lauren's caramel popcorn recipe.  This is a (very worthy) repost.  It's not too late to make this for gifts for friends and neighbors. 

 caramel popcorn
 3 bags of microwave popcorn
2 sticks butter; 
2 cups brown sugar; 
1/2 cup light corn syrup (Karo); 
1/2 tsp baking soda; 1 tsp salt; 1 tsp vanilla

pop popcorn and put it in a large roasting pan.
preheat over to 225.
melt butter on medium heat.  add karo, salt and brown sugar.
stir constantly and bring to a boil. 
then leave it untouched for 5 minutes. 
this part freaked me out the most...i was sure it would stick to the pan/burn on the bottom/etc...it did none of those things.
Remove from heat.  Add baking soda and vanilla.  Stir it up until it is all blended and caramelly.  

Once it is all well mixed together...pour it kind of evenly over your popcorn.  Don't worry if everything is not covered...it will get there. 
Put it in the oven for an hour.  Every fifteen minutes get it out and stir it up. 
When an hour is up...remove from the oven and spread out on cool cookie sheets.  Break up any large clumps.  Try to share some. :) 
And here's my favorite custom order of the week...a friend of mine asked me if I could make her daughters drawing into a 3d creation.  The result, I think, is something cute and fun that I hope her daughter will get a kick out of. :)

And here's what our elf has been up to...
 ...making a copy of his little buns...
 ...rolling with his gnomie...
 ...playing a game of scrabble...
 and playing hide and seek with the legos.
And because I can't get over it...please explain to me how we got to this young man stage on the right?

How's your Christmas season?  Crazy or awesome?  Peaceful or insane?
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