Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Every year my husband sets up his mini Christmas village with houses, trees, people that he has been collecting for years.  Olivia, the cat loves to terrorize that little town.  Not really terrorize except for the fact that she is a giant cat sleeping on Main Street.  We like to call her Cat-zilla and actually she gingerly walks through the buildings, cars and people without knocking over a single item.  Now that is a Cat-zilla to be proud of!

My husband and I are still suffering from ear, sinus and respiratory infections and our kitchen table resembles a pharmacy.  Add in a few other issues and Holiday chores and I fall asleep almost as soon as I walk in the door.  Hoping that 2012 is bountiful and good to you all and the best year ever!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cough, sneeze, cough and wheeze...Merry Christmas!

Not complaining because I am truly blessed with the best family and friends anyone could wish for...just wanted the blogging world to know that Crystal is alive and well and just really, really under the weather.  I want to wish everyone a very Merry, Happy Christmas, Happy Hannukuh or Kwanzaa or just a wonderful day, and I will see you all hopefully no longer coughing and wheezing next year or should I say, just a few days.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Greetings

As Christmas draws near I would like to share with you my blogging friends and readers this poem by Edgar Guest.  It truly says what is my heart.  As I decorate my home with stockings hung by the chimney with care in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there I reflect on my many blessings.  I am grateful for snowman and flowers and truly good friends and family.
 The best gifts of all cannot be unwrapped in a box. I enjoy miniature villages and icicle lights. I am enjoy my ornaments and snow-globes and stars on the tree.  I am grateful for magical twinkling lights, nutcrackers and cookies.  And-- as I cough and hack with this awful Christmas cold, I am grateful for my cold medicines, pillows and beds.  See you all soon! 

A Friend's Greeting
Edgar Guest

"I'd like to be the sort of friend
  that you have been to me;
I'd like to be the help that you've been 
always glad to be;

I'd like to mean as much to you
 each minute of the day

As you have meant, old friend of mine,
 to me along the way.
I'd like to do the big things
 and the splendid things for you,

To brush the gray out of your skies
 and leave them only blue;

I'd like to say the kindly things
 that I so oft have heard,

And feel that I could rouse your soul
 the way that mine you've stirred.
I'd like to give back the joy
 that you have given me,

Yet that were wishing you a need
 I hope will never be;

I'd like to make you feel
 as rich as I, who travel on

Undaunted in the darkest hours
 with you to lean upon.
I'm wishing at this Christmas time
 that I could but repay

A portion of the gladness
 that you've strewn along the way;

And could I have one wish this year,
 this only would it be:

I'd like to be the sort of friend
 that you have been to me."
Thanks to Stacey from Magic Love Crow for the adorable baby crow aceo's!  I love them so much!!!  And thanks to my friend Heather from Rosehill designs for the wonderful Christmas card that hangs on the top of my Christmas card tree! 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Christmas Tale

The gift

He stopped at the store right after work and picked out the perfect present.  He held it in his lap admiring the skillful wrapping he would never be able to imitate. It wasn’t as expensive as he’d like, but he knew she would love it.  The last few month’s had not been easy for them.  First, it was the baby, then his job.  Things were definitely looking up now and he wanted her to know that they would be all right. He put the gift on the empty seat beside him as he checked his watch.  He slipped the pretty package into his coat pocket as the train pulled to a stop.

Everyone was in a hurry. They all needed to get home, and the crowd surged forward, pushing and shoving. He moved with the tide of bodies till he could finally see the exit. He smiled with anticipation. 

He walked briskly with a bit of a spring in his step. As he reached his destination he saw the Christmas tree twinkling through the window. He hadn’t felt this much Christmas spirit since he was a boy.  He entered the warm, cozy home and they embraced, their joyful tears mingled together once again.

He reached in his pocket to retrieve the gift—but his hand felt nothing.  The crowd the pushing, the shoving, somehow it must have fallen out. 

“I had a gift, and it’s gone!”  He moaned.

“You are a gift.” She replied with a smile.


May we all feel the true spirit of Christmas and enjoy the gift of love


Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingerbread boy and girl ornament gift cardholders

Gift cards are a great solution when trying to come up with a gift for the man, woman or child when you just can't decide on the perfect one.  The extra benefit is that usually after Christmas that gift you might have bought right before the holiday is now 50% off so the gift card recipient gets an added benefit of getting more for your money!  But to give a naked gift card is just plain, well, plain.  You could buy the fancy gift cardholders sold right next to the gift cards…or you can craft a unique one yourself for practically nothing.  As an added benefit, it doubles as an ornament!

You will need:

Tan embossed felt (you may substitute regular tan felt if desired)

White sparkle stiffened felt

Tacky Craft glue (I use Aleene’s quick grab)

6 inches of gold cord

Large seed beads in various colors

Gingerbread boy or girl pre cut felt shapes, optional snowflake felt shape

Cardboard for making a pattern, tracing paper


1.     Cut a piece of felt 7 inches by 3 inches.  Run a bead of glue down each long side and fold in half to attach.  You will have a 3 ½” pocket.  Use clothespins on the seams to hold until the glue is set.  Let dry.

Roof pattern.  Click on and print full size

2.     Using the roof pattern provided cut two from the stiffened white sparkle felt.  If it is easier, make a pattern out of recycled cardboard (cereal boxes are a great source) to use for tracing around.

3.     Choose one side to be the back of the house.  Make a loop out of the gold cord.  Add a dot of  glue to the top edge of the back and attach.

4.     Add some glue on the pocket back over where you just glued the hanging cord just on the upper edges being careful not to get any glue too close to the pocket opening.  It is easier to put the glue on the pocket and not the roof piece.  Do not get glue on each roof corner.

5.     Turn over and glue a roof piece to the other side.  This time, add some glue on the overlapped corner edges thus attaching both sides together with an opening at the top.  Be careful not to get glue to close to the upper edge of the pocket so that the roof will retain the opening.  Use a clothespin on each roof corner to hold till the glue dries.  Let dry completely.

6.     Glue some large seed beads in multi colors around the edges of the front of the house.

7.     Put some glue on the back of a gingerbread boy or girl and attach to the front of the gingerbread house.  You can add optional precut snowflakes to the front as well if desired.

After it is dry fill the gingerbread house with a gift card or any small gift and hang on the tree!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Blinded by the light…A Christmas story

Hand drawn Christmas cards

What is your favorite Christmas decorating chore?  I’d be willing to bet that stringing up the lights didn’t make the list!

Whether you simply put lights on a Christmas tree or decorate your home and yard ala Clark Griswald, this presumably simple chore will make any good person say words unbefitting of the holiday.

When we were kids the lights were big, giant multi colored bulbs.  They would break right along with all the super shiny ornaments that hit the floor with regularity—but they were easy to locate.

 Then came the mini bulbs on strings of a hundred or more, and when one bulb went out...they all went out.  Wouldn’t you just love to find the joker whose idea that was?  I doubt that he made it on Santa’s good boy list!

So you, like hundreds of others all over the country go on that futile search for the proverbial bulb in the haystack we are calling a Christmas tree.  The strings tangle, and as you spread them out, you plug in a new bulb in each slot hoping that the errant bulb will show it’s face. As you reach bulb number 99 you are hopeful…but you are out of luck.  Maybe the bulb you are using, as a tester is bad, or just maybe it’s the whole darned string. 

You walk to the trashcan and toss it out as you head to the store to buy yet another string of lights.  But wait, while you are there you decide to go the pre-lighted route.  It’s a new innovation for sure and one that will save the hairs on your head.  You buy it and go home and without profanity, you set up your Christmas tree. 

All goes well for a few years and then, without warning, as you plug in that tree you thought was your salvation from the condition known as tree light anxiety, you find that the whole center of the tree remains in the dark.  Something is wrong.  Now you have to check each light inside an already strung tree.  Impossible you say?  You are correct, so it’s off to the store to purchase some mini lights, and you my dear, are back where you started.

You wonder…should you go the LED route?  They are supposed to last a long, long, time.  There’s a rumor going around, however, that the designer is the same one who thought it was a good idea to share an on ramp with an exit ramp on superhighways.  You shrug it off and plunk down the cash.  HO, HO, HO

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Easy Felt Reindeer candy cane pocket ornament

This little ornament is so quick and easy you can whip up a bunch in no time flat.  They make great little party favors or package decorations. 

You will need:

Embossed felt in tan

Tacky glue (I use Aleene’s quick grab)

Wiggly eyes

Red Sparkle pom pom (you can substitute regular if you can’t find sparkle)

Six-inch scrap of gold cord

Rhinestone, button, or bauble, for covering where the cord is attached

Two Candy canes


1.     Cut a piece of tan embossed felt 2 inches by 9 inches. 

2.     Draw a line of tacky glue down the side of both edges.  Fold in half to attach.  Use clothespins at the bottom edges to hold together until the glue dries.  You have made a 4 ½ x 2-inch pocket.

3.     Put a dab of glue inside the top center and hold together till set.  This will guide the candy canes.

4.     Glue on two wiggly eyes and a pom pom close to the bottom for the reindeer face. (See photo for placement)  Let dry.

5.     Turn over and glue on a loop of gold cord.  Add some more glue and stick a Rhinestone or bauble to cover where you attached the cord.

Remember, if you want to win the Candy cane ornaments, be sure to say so in your comments.  I will be drawing a name this weekend and sending it out next week.  More Quick and easy projects are coming so gather the kids and get crafting!


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Candy Cane Mouse ornament…and a gift for one of my fantastic bloggy friends!

This is an oldie but goodie, a bit updated with supplies from the new millennium.  I used to make these by the box-load when my daughter was little and give one to every one of her classmates.  You can craft a ton in absolutely no time too!!

Mouse pattern, click on and print full size

You will need:

Foam sparkle sheet (not the sticky back)


Tacky glue

Wiggle eyes and a small jingle bell or pompom

Candy cane

1.     Cut the two pattern pieces from sparkle foam.  Cut the three slits, two vertical and one horizontal. 

2.     Feed the earpiece in and out through the vertical slits evenly. 

3.     Turn over and straighten the ears as shown in photo.  Glue on two wiggle eyes and a small jingle bell for the nose.

4.     Feed a candy cane starting from the front and continuing under the back section of the ears.  The crook of the cane will be at the bottom.  Hang it on the tree from the crook.

Now for the gift-giving…I think you all are the best and I would love to make a ton of these ornaments as I did for my daughter’s classes and give one to each and every one of you, but alas, the USPS is a bit pricey for that, so I will draw a name out of a hat and one of you will find a stick horse and a mousey in your mailbox very soon.  Oh, you need to leave a comment that says you would actually want it in that mailbox because I certainly wouldn’t want to send it to anyone who doesn’t.  Next week, I will draw that name.

Friday, December 2, 2011

It’s ornament crafting time for kids…and adults—Candy cane stick horse

These quick and easy ornaments are easily crafted with a few supplies and some candy canes.  Why not have some fun crafting with your kids today?  And be sure to visit Crystal Clear soon—because there is more to come!

Stick Horse candy cane ornament

You will need:

Sparkle foam (not sticky backed) available at craft stores or online


Tacky craft glue (I used Aleene’s quick grab)

Scraps of gold braid or ribbon, rhinestone

Wiggle eyes


Candy Canes

1.     Trace the horse head pattern and cut out two from sparkle foam. Hint:  It’s easy to trace the pattern on a piece of scrap cardboard from a cereal box and use it for tracing on the foam.   Make sure when you are cutting the pieces that you turn over the second pattern piece so that you have two pieces that line up together with the sparkle facing to the outside.

2.     Cut a 6-inch piece of thin ribbon or cord, form into a loop and glue to the top                        of the inside (non-sparkle side) of one horse head.

3.     Working on the same piece draw a thin line of glue around the entire inside edge leaving the bottom edge un-glued.  Attach the other head and secure with a clothespin till dry.  Make sure that both sides of the head are sparkle side facing out.  Trim any uneven edges.

4.     Decorate the horse.  Cut a piece of gold braid or ribbon 1 inch and another 2 and ¾ inches.  Glue the short piece across the muzzle and the longer piece across the head up the neck.  See photo for placement.  Glue a rhinestone where the two pieces meet.   Glue on a wiggle eye.  Let all glue dry completely.

5.     When placing the candy cane in the horse head, insert the crook of the cane in a horizontal position placing your finger in the head guide the cane to gradually straighten so as not to break the cane. 

Click on the pattern photo and print full size

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It makes scents to me

Pastel ACEO

What does your choice of perfumes and colognes say about you?  Do you like to smell like something fresh out of the oven or sickly sweet with a swarm of bees circling over your head? 

Perfumes and colognes make perfect gifts don’t they? Once I had a boyfriend who presented me with an expensive bottle of cologne that I absolutely detested.  Every time he came over I had to dab the vile stuff on, gagging as I did.  We broke up after a bit and I truly believe that the perfume had something to do with it. They no longer make it, so I guess i wasn't alone.

If you are considering buying fragrance for someone this Christmas (Are you listening guys?) before you do, perhaps you should check out the following list of choices and match them up with the giftee.

1.     Industrial strength.  This is the favorite of Grandmas everywhere.  While the scent itself is not too awful, it is so overpowering that it has the ability to cause dizziness up to a mile away.

2.     The way to a man’s heart.   Feel like a cookie, or some fruit?   This is the fragrance for you.  This one has the ability to cause anyone within its range to break a diet.  Fortunately perfumers haven’t come up with a meat loaf scent yet, but give it time.

3.     The bee’s knees.  This is any scent of a very identifiable flower.  Think gardenia or Easter lily.  Just make sure you have your epi-pen handy.

4.     Hippy heaven.  A flower child fav, Patchouli is an Asian plant with a very strong scent.  Right up there with musk and jasmine, it should bring back many happy memories of days gone past.  Use with caution or you may break out the flower printed bell-bottoms and fringed vests.

5.     France is best.  The French are fantastic perfumers, no question about it. But really there is no need to actually go to France to buy.  My brother visited France while I was in college and wanted to know what I wanted him to get me.  My answer--French perfume.  He returned with a tiny bottle of perfume I could pick up right here in the states.  And here I was thinking I would be getting something unique.  By the way, French perfumes often appear in the industrial strength category as well.

6.     The hiker.  Do you like the smell of rain on the grass?  If you do then you fit in this category quite well.  It’s wood-sy, and outdoor-sy and many other sy’s that are found in the open air.

7.     The Fan club. Sometimes wonderful, but mostly hype.  It always bears the name of some celebrity.

8.  The XX file.  I know, forgive me for the nod to an old TV show about aliens.  Women who love this fragrance like it to be a combination of scents--and unidentifiable.  Whoever’s listening, this is my fragrance of choice... :-)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

You can make a five dollar origami star

***The holiday has been exhausting. As a result, I have been a bit absent from the internet.  Cooking and entertaining for 15 people does that to a person.  And then there is the Nightmare before Christmas, otherwise known as Black Friday.  Not for me!  I was sound asleep in bed when others were pushing and shoving in order to get that deal.  Anyway back by popular demand...the instructions for folding an origami star out of five one dollar bills.***

I am posting these instructions by request.  Every Christmas I fold origami stars out of five one-dollar bills.  Sometimes I leave them as tips in restaurants.  Other times I give them as gifts with a string attached for hanging on the tree. Most people love them and think they are complicated to create, but if you can fold a paper airplane you can fold an origami dollar star. You can make them using one dollar bills but if you feel generous you can certainly make them with fives, tens, twenties, fifties…well you get the picture. A chopstick, butter knife or skewer makes it easier to tuck the pieces together.

1.     Lay a dollar bill with the ONE facing up on the table and fold it in half lengthwise.

2.     Open the fold and fold the top corner to the fold line.  Repeat on the other side.

3.     Turn the bill so the point is facing you.  Fold the point up to the edge of the circle on the fold line.

4.     Turn over so the folded edge is at the top.  Fold the right hand corner to the center fold line.  Fold again.

(Just like you are making a paper airplane.) Repeat on the other side.

5.     Turn over.  You have made a pointed flap.  Take the bottom edge and fold up under the flap.  Fold it again under the flap and repeat it a third time. You now have a star point with a tab on each side. The front will be the one with the flap and the back has a pocket.

6.     Make four more star points for a total of five.

7.     To assemble start from the back.  Tuck one of the folded tabs into the back pocket of another.  Then tuck the front tab under the flap on the front.

8.     Repeat this around for all the points.  The last one is the hardest but with the help of a chopstick you can easily tuck it in.  It stays together nicely. 
9.     Of course if you want to spend the money it’s easy to unassemble and spend!

front of point

back of point

back of star

Easy, easy and so much fun!  It is best to use crisp, new one dollar bills to fold since it makes a sturdier star.  You can easily ask your bank for new dollar bills and have fun, believe me... "you can't make just one!"
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