A Birthday Surprise

balloondividerzSir Beads-a-Lot and I have an occasion-filled few weeks between the end of July and the end of August. First it’s his birthday, then it’s my birthday, and then it’s our wedding anniversary – all within a four-week span of time!

He’s a very thoughtful guy and I’ve received some wonderful gifts in the 38 years that we’ve been married, but none of them meant more to me than what he came up with for my birthday last month . . .

It’s been a very busy summer this year, and when all of a sudden it seemed as if my birthday was only a few days away, I told him not to fuss – that I didn’t need a gift this time.

He took me at my word – sort of. When he came home from work on my birthday, he put this on the table.


I protested that I didn’t need a gift this year. He answered that it was “just something small”. So I admired it unopened as we ate dinner, and then suddenly a card and a 2-person birthday cake appeared!


The card shows Mickey and Minnie (who have always been our favorites!!!). They’re looking at the stars, arm in arm, and the verse is: ”I thank my lucky stars each night . . .” Well of course I loved that!

If you read this blog, you know that I also love ornaments (See the story here). I was delighted to open the gift and find not only a new ornament but also to discover that it was Mickey and Minnie!


Seeing it immediately brought me back to 1971 – our first Christmas as a married couple and the year we bought our first special glass ornament together. It was a little Mickey Mouse that we found during the Christmastime bustle at a department store in downtown Boston. Ever since then, we carefully put it on the tree each year, and then carefully pack it away after the holidays – it means a lot to us.

So I must give Sir Beads much credit for tying some of my favorite things together with some of our most treasured memories, and creating such a nice surprise for my birthday!

You can probably guess what’s coming next . . .

I just can’t resist! 😉

Birthday Card – a few dollars

Cake – 5 dollars

Hallmark ornament – 16 dollars

Choosing the perfect array of thoughtful birthday gifts for your wife –


Sir Beads, if you are reading this, I thank my lucky stars each night, too! 😀



Christmas Ornament Fever

My name is Crystal, and I’m an ornament-a-holic.

There, I’ve said it.


Although this may be news to most of you, it will come as no surprise to my family, and to the friends that happen to live nearby. I’m actually a little amazed that they haven’t gotten together and staged an intervention for me years ago. But then, maybe they’ve been enjoying the festive ambiance of my ornament fever??? 😉

christmastreestarThis “fever” began right after I got married. I had always loved Christmas but that year, as a new bride, I was decorating a tree in my very own home for the first time! It was so much fun to shop for colorful strings of lights and boxes of glass and satin ornaments (satin was so “in” then). And during that time, I remember reading an article in a women’s magazine that recommended buying one very special ornament every year so that eventually your tree would look amazing. I absolutely fell in love with that idea! From then on, each summer, we’d begin to look for that year’s “special ornament”.


After our daughters were born, we began collecting an ornament per year for each of them, too. Our thought was that they’d each have a fairly sizable collection by the time they were out of the nest with trees of their own! I should mention that when that time eventually came, Mama Bear was very surprised how hard it was to say goodbye to those ornaments! After all, they had been on our family tree for so long, they were old favorites! I remember when the girls wanted to take the ornaments to their college dorms and I said “Ohhh, well, yeah, ummmmm, but don’t you want to wait until you have your own apartment?” LOL They were sweet enough to humor me for a few more years . . . but I digress.


So all of this ornament collecting sent us in many directions. We bought some breathtaking glass ornaments. We received special ornaments as gifts occasionally. We’d always hit the after-Christmas sales for our favorite Hallmark ornaments. However, the ornaments I cherish most are the handmade ones. We found a few at craft fairs, but my daughters and I made most of them! (Click here and scroll down the page.) The girls began making simpler styles when they were quite young, but as they grew a little bit older, they were stitching tiny treasures that would melt your heart.


After a while, there was no way that all of the ornaments would fit on our tree, so we began to have a different theme each year. One year it would be all glass ornaments; the next it was just the Hallmarks; the year after that – all handmade. Then there were the times we would just do a blend of all the styles we had, but only our very favorites from each style.

christmastreestarYou’d probably think that by now, the novelty of buying new ornaments would have worn off, but I still love to find a new ornament for the girls when I can. I also buy a new one – or three – for their father and me. (I have to make up for all the ones the kids finally did take, ya know!) And I still enjoy making ornaments, so I usually try to add a couple of those each year, as well.

By the way, have you noticed that the Christmas ornaments are on display in the Hallmark stores now? If anyone is looking for me, check there first! 😉


Friday Favorites

I know, I know! We’re a week into the New Year already, so why am I showing something Christmassy for this week’s Friday Favorites?

Well, just before I close the holiday posts, I thought you might like to see my favorite gift given this year!


This Christmas version of a money tree was lots of fun to put together for my Mum & Dad. Every year it becomes harder and harder to figure out what to give them. They have 6 grown kids buying gifts for them, so the good ideas are dwindling. They don’t need any more knick-knacks!


This year, I decided to give them money, but I wanted to do more than just put it in an envelope. Money trees are nothing new, but I thought a Christmas money tree might be fun and a little out of the ordinary.


I found this pretty tabletop tree with the idea that they could re-use it as a holiday decoration in the future. It’s showy but doesn’t take up too much real estate when in storage!

We gathered an assortment of bills in different denominations, rolled each one, and tied them to the branches with gold curling ribbon. As you can see, a dollar coin with little green bows served as the tree topper! (Yep, that’s Lady Liberty holding her torch.)

For the final touch, I printed a small hangtag that read: “Sometimes money does grow on trees!”

Actually, I wanted to show this to you right after we put it together, but that might have spoiled the surprise for Mum & Dad – they’ve been known to stop by the blog now and then! 😉


Christmas Ornaments Part 4


Here’s the 4th and final part in the series on handmade ornaments that my daughters and I have made over the years.

Category 4: Mixed Media


There’s a real smorgasbord of styles and techniques in this group, including applique, embroidery, beading, plastic canvas, general crafts/glueing, and knitting! The icicle, candle, and lollipop were made by my girls when they were in grade school. The mini stocking – one of my favorites in this group – was knit on regular knitting needles, and then transferred to “tiny needles” made from round wooden toothpicks and beads! Notice the little red bird with a strand of the yarn in his beak.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series as much as I have enjoyed presenting it. I encourage everyone to make a few Christmas ornaments each year. It’s amazing how quickly your collection will grow! There’s no need to make complicated designs. Simple is always beautiful. Before you know it, you’ll have a “family heirloom” kind of tree!

In case you missed the earlier parts of the series, here’s a quick photo recap . . .

Part 1 Cross Stitch


Part 2 Embroidered Felt


Part 3 Fabric Ornaments


Part 4 Mixed Media


Merry Christmas!