Monday, December 30, 2013

Capturing December: Day 30 (A New Newsletter!)

Today I'm simply going to share with you the link to our Year-In-Review newsletter that we just sent out to our supporters.  Whether for yourself or your church, feel free to view, download, print, or share!  It's always encouraging to look back through the year and see how the Lord has helped and blessed in so many different ways!

Also, we are adding a new tab to the blog where you will be able to see all of our (past, current, and future) newsletters.  Check it out above!  We're really hoping to do better with our newsletter writing!  Michael and I periodically look at each other, shake our heads, and declare, "We must be the worst missionaries in history when it comes to writing timely newsletters!"  Seriously!  =)  Oh well, we are most definitely human!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Capturing December: Day 29

{ Bedroom Makeover }

After my quick trip to PA in October, I came home to our bedroom that had everything taken out of it and the walls primed!  And I guess since I was home now, Michael decided he could get back to his busy ministry schedule...leaving me to finish the paint job!  Okay, so he did help me some!  =)

If you remember our upstairs house tour post, we went from this... this!

We are loving the new gray wall color and the cooler feel to the room!  Our boys keep saying it looks like a hotel!

We added blinds and curtains to the window instead of the foil we had to block the sun out!  Of course, we're famous for strange window treatments!  We did something similar when we lived in Guanajuato.

And since we were on a painting streak...I decided to paint the headboards, doors, and trim an antique white!

Now I need some ideas for decorations!  The wall behind our bed is very large/tall and looks very blank at the present moment!  There are no Hobby Lobby's here  =)  so it would need to be something I could make (reasonably) with limited resources.  Any ideas?


An update on my sister:  after several ups and downs she finally seems to be taking a turn for the better!  Thanks for your continued prayers...they're greatly appreciated

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Capturing December: Day 28 (Fall Review 2013)

Fall 2013 Review

I will actually be posting our year-in-review newsletter here in a few days, but until then, here is the blog version of our fall 2013.

We started off September with a brand new homeschooling year.  Kyle began 3rd grade and Taylor started 1st grade.  This year, instead of me "teaching" everything, we decided to try the abeka dvd's.  We like them very much and our school year seems to be moving along much smoother!

Jacinda turned 1 in September - which I did actually manage to blog about here!  =)

October was a busy and interesting month.  I (Crystal), along with Parker and Jacinda, took a trip back home to PA for a surprise anniversary party for my parents.  They were quite surprised about the party and then were doubly surprised when I walked through the door!  It's a wonder my poor parents aren't totally gray because my sister and I sure do like to surprise them!!

(Jacinda enjoying the plane ride!)

It was also nice to spend time with other family members and friends.

(Trying to hold my wiggly nephew Wyatt for a quick photo!)

While I was gone, Michael was kept busy here in Mexico.  Besides the daily supervision of the boys' schooling and also preparing meals, they held a wedding here at our church in Tapachula in which Michael officiated.

In November, we held our annual camp meeting.  I blogged about that here if you want to read more information and see pictures.

I had a birthday in November too, but it's okay if we just skip right over that!  =)  I still feel young, so I guess it doesn't matter what my numerical age is, right?!

In December, Michael went to Guatemala City to attend the H.I.M. pastor's retreat.  He took along with him two of our men from Tapachula (who are acting as assistant pastors) and also our pastor in Santo Domingo.  Bro. Glenn Reiff was the retreat speaker.  Michael reported that they had a wonderful time together!

Two weekends after the pastor's retreat, Michael made another trip to Guatemala.  This time, he went to TacanĂ¡ to give the special music at their weekend revival.  The Lord helped in a gracious way even though the trip involved some pretty harrowing mountain roads!

And now my blog friends, I think we're all caught up to date on all the happening 'round our place!  whew!  Onward and forward towards the new year!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Capturing December: Day 27

So today, I started a new quilt blog!  Yeah, I know...I have a hard enough time keeping up with this one, but I decided I wanted this family/ministry blog to be separate from all my quilting/crafty posts.

Did I mention I'm very excited about this new venture?!  It's really just a small part of my dream to some day own some type of quilt business.

Feel free to click on the picture below to go check it out!  The link will also be in the sidebar for future reference.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Capturing December: Day 26

{ Daily Life }

For most of you, Christmas is over.  Don't you hate how the anticipation of Christmas, which seems to build over several months, ends in one day?  Well, I seem to be running out of "Christmasy" posts anyway, so I'm just going to show you this little creature we found out by our water pump!  Frog legs for dinner anyone?  =)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Capturing December: Day 25

Merry Christmas
to one and all!!

Above is our Christmas card.  To our family and supporters, you should be receiving one shortly!

 And then below, we have the annual Christmas-morning-in-front-of-the-tree picture.  Notice, we don't do the fuzzy Christmasy pajamas around here!  Our goal each day is to try and stay as cool as possible!

We trust you all will have an enjoyable day spent with family and friends.  And don't forget: Jesus is the reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Capturing December: Day 24

{ Christmas Eve Activities }

I spent half of the day yesterday and all day today preparing an American Christmas meal for our church people.  I made two turkeys, lots of mashed potatoes, gravy, mixed veggies, and apple crisp.

We had a very special Christmas Eve service tonight complete with communion here at our church in Tapachula.  Afterwards, we served this delicious meal to everyone!

Our Christmas packages still have not arrived, so we are looking forward to having a low key day of rest tomorrow!  And since we ate our "big" Christmas meal tonight, we'll just have chili tomorrow to keep things nice and simple!

(Please excuse this unflattering photo of Yours Truly...
but Michael and I were trying to dish out the food as fast we we could!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

Capturing December: Day 23

{ Daily Life }

Life is busy these days and I feel like I'm running out of ideas for these posts!  But can I just interrupt these Christmasy posts and share something personal?

My sister, Brenda, had surgery earlier today to have her gallbladder taken out.  What seemed to be a successful surgery, later turned into an emergency!  She had internal bleeding and they had to rush her back into surgery to try and fix it.  She is now in recovery once again, but this setback along with her other health issues, is still a scary situation (especially for her sister who is thousands of miles away in another country).  Please keep her and her little family in your continued prayers especially during this holiday season.  Thanks!

Brenda, baby Wyatt, and Josh

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Capturing December: Day 22

{ Christmas Tradition }

Something I always try to do each Christmas time, is to make chocolate fudge!  Yum!  My grandmother used to always make it, and since it is chocolate, how can I resist to carry on that tradition?!  =)

I follow the Original Fantasy Fudge recipe...with the exception that I use a bag of mini marshmallows instead of the marshmallow creme and I don't put in the walnuts.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Capturing December: Day 21

{ Community Christmas Lights }

The gated community where we live always puts up a lighted tree in the park every year for Christmas. They also have lighted figures of Joseph, Mary, and Baby Jesus at the base of the tree.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Capturing December: Day 20

{ Christmas Tree Topper }

I love things that are rustic!  So it's only fitting that our country Christmas tree is topped by a rustic star! I don't remember exactly where I bought it, but probably at Street of Shops in Lewisburg, PA.  I love that place!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Capturing December: Day 19

 { Crafts }

Since I had a "crafty" type project posted yesterday, I thought I would continue the theme and make today's post a review of different craft projects I've completed in the last year and a half that never got mentioned on this poor 'ole blog! 

* * * * * * * 

The Lone Starburst

Last summer I ran across the above pictured quilt block...and I fell in love with it!  It's classic and stunning all rolled into one block.  I saw it on the Six White Horses blog.  She has a free downloadable PDF pattern.  I actually haven't gotten any further on this project than this one block, but I thought of making two more or so and making a table runner.

* * * * * * *

Stars and Diamonds Quilt

Sometimes I'm a dreamer.  I imagine that I can create/draft my own original quilt blocks and that even someday I might have my own quilt shop.  Obviously, it's mostly wishful thinking, but last summer I did create this pattern and made a quilt!  And no, there's no tutorial, just some pencil scribbling on a piece of paper!  =)  Thanks to my Mom for quilting it!  The fabrics were from Joann's.

* * * * * * *

Bittersweet Bloom

This is a wall quilt (just the top, it's not quilted yet).  I saw the pattern for this "Bittersweet Bloom" pattern at a quilt show.  I did not buy the pattern then, but looked it up when I got home.  At the time, Calico Corner had written/published the pattern, but I can't fine it anywhere online now.  I simply looked at the pattern and then reproduced it in my own sizes.  The pretty fabric I used came from Joann's.

* * * * * * *

Tahiti Tote

So I keep mentioning the quilt my Mom made for Jacinda (which I really need to post about)...well, I decided to make a matching diaper bag.  I had bought this Tahiti Tote pattern at a quilt show and thought it would be perfect.  And it is...I'm still using it!

* * * * * * *

Cross Point Star

Another one of my "original" creations!  I created this block and then used it to make hot pads for a friend.  Maybe come the beginning of the new year, I'll post a downloadable PDF pattern for you!

* * * * * * *

Batiks Squared Quilt

Yep, another one of "my" quilts!  I had seen a picture online somewhere with the basic idea, but I added the star points and used two different colored sashing.  At this point, it's just the top...but maybe when I go home next I'll be able to use my Mom's fancy machine to get it quilted!  I used Tidepool Batiks charm packs by Moda to make this.

* * * * * * *

Nothing fancy here, I was just in desperate need of some new hot pads!

* * * * * * *

Since I enjoy sewing, I decided to try my hand at making a dress for Jacinda.  I used McCall's pattern #M6015.  I will admit to struggling a little bit.  I'm just a sewing enthusiast.  I'm definitely not well versed in sewing terminology and technique.  I usually just see something, create it, and make it work!  Case in point.  This dress is not perfect, but it's cute and wearable!

* * * * * * *

I currently have a quilting WIP (work in progress), plus lots of fabric and ideas for more quilts.  We'll see where all that leads in the new year.  I'd even like to start a quilting blog that's separate from this family/ministry blog.  But as I said, we'll see!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Capturing December: Day 18

{ Christmas Stockings }

We actually don't have any stockings hung this year...mainly because I don't have any here in Mexico and also because that's a tradition we usually only do with my side of the family when we're in PA.

But I did make Jacinda a stocking last year for Christmas.  And apparently the only pic I took of it was with my cell phone.

I used fabric from the quilt my mom made for Jacinda (fabric: Vintage Modern by Bonnie and Camille for Moda) and made the stocking in a chevron style.  I didn't use any pattern per se, but I looked at pictures to get the basic idea of how to construct it, and then I traced around another stocking that I had on hand to get the shape.  I also followed several online tutorials on lining it and for doing the cuff.  Sorry I don't have any other helpful hints to pass along!  =)  I really like how it turned out though!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Capturing December: Day 17

{ Christmas Presents }

This year, I'm doing something that I've never done before.  That little baby doll you see in the pic below shows the beginning of something new...yep, buying baby girl type toys!  And after three boys, I feel clueless!

The other packages in the pic?  They're from Book Depository.  And it's an awesome online source to order books because they offer FREE worldwide shipping!  Yay!  And their prices are very reasonable for such service!

Since we're spending Christmas in Mexico this year, I ordered most of our gifts online and had them sent to my parents house.  They in turn put everything together and sent down two boxes.  Now we're just hoping and praying that they arrive here in time!  Could you pray with us?  The boys are so very excited...!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Capturing December: Day 16

{ Outside Christmas Decorations }

This year I did minimal decorations on my front porch.  But really, it's better than the "no decorations" of most years.

Our poor front door.  It is in bad shape and desperately needs painted.  I just haven't felt like starting the project for fear I'll lose hope halfway through.  You see, to the sides of the door are a length of small windows divided by wood trim.  It seems quite time consuming to prime and paint all that!  And I'm a busy mama with not much un-interrupted time!  =)

I have a small tree and wooden sleigh in the corner of the porch.

I was also hoping to get some poinsettias to set on the porch, but alas, that hasn't happened either!  At any rate, the iguanas would probably eat them too!

I hung some LED icicle lights (and about knocked all the cement off in the process!)  I'm not really in love with the LED look, but they're up and there they'll stay.

And that's pretty much it.  Once again, we're just keeping things nice and simple.  We do live in a community where lots of people hang Christmas lights and decorations, so some evening we want to drive around and look at them.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Capturing December: Day 15

{ Holiday Music }

I love Christmas music!  We started listening to it several months ago, took a small break from it, and now it's back - full force!

This year, our favorites are probably...Your Presence by Sisters, It's Christmas by Ronnie Milsap, and our boys really like Warm and Fuzzy by Billy Gilman.  We also listen to a lot of David Phelps, Vince Gill, Josh Groban, and Sandi Patty.  What's your favorite Christmas songs?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Capturing December: Day 14

{ Our Christmas Tree }

It's nothing fancy...just a simple, homespun, country type Christmas tree.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Capturing December: Day 13

{ Family }

We've got a new family pic - just in time for Christmas cards!  And if you wonder at our expressions, it's really quite exciting to be looking at a camera on a tripod, waiting for the timer to go off!  =)

I'm in the process of creating our Christmas card, so if you would like to receive one in your mailbox, just send me an email at:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Capturing December: Day 12

{ A Beautiful Sight }

While we may live in the city, we are only 14 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  And there's just something relaxing about being able to sit along the beach and watch the waves roll in and feel the breeze on your face.  We have an awesome Creator!

Please enjoy the overload of ocean pics...I just can't help but take lots of pics every time we go!  =)

January 2011 

February 2011 

August 2011 

August 2011 

October 2011 

November 2011 

November 2011
Restaurants that line the shore - awesome places to eat!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Capturing December: Day 11

{ A Recipe }

It's that time of year again!  The cold, dark, wintry nights just beg for some slow cooked comfort food!    And chili is one of the best!  Of course, we don't mind eating it year 'round even when it's hot!  And I've even heard recently, that many people eat it for Christmas because it's no-fuss and enables you to spend more time with family!  We also like to make it for Sunday dinner.  This slow cooker recipe is perfect for putting it in the crockpot on low, leaving for church, and then coming home to an instant yummy lunch!  But for whatever the occasion, I hope you find it delicious!

  • Crystal's Chili

  • 1 lb. ground beef (the more lean, the better)
    1 cup diced onion
    3 cups water
    3 beef bouillon cubes
    * Boil the above ingredients together until the meat is cooked through. Transfer to a crockpot, then add:

    1 can (15 oz.) pinto beans (optional)
    1 can (8 oz.) of your favorite salsa
    24 oz. of tomato sauce
    2 tsp. worcestershire sauce
    1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

    Next add these spices:
    (which could also be made up into packets to always keep on hand)

    3 Tbsp. brown sugar
    3 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
    2 tsp. cornstarch
    1 tsp. garlic powder
    1 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. ground cumin
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/2 tsp. ground pepper
    1/4 tsp. ground cloves

    * Mix all ingredients well in the crockpot. Cook on low for 4-6 hrs. Top with shredded cheese and/or sour cream along with some oyster crackers. A side of garlic toast made from french bread goes great with this dish too! Enjoy!