3.30.2011

Quotables: John Owen

"Sometimes truth is lost first in a church, and then holiness, and sometimes the decay or hatred of holiness is the cause of the loss of truth. But if either is rejected, the other will not abide."

- John Owen

3.27.2011

The Day is at hand...

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

- Romans 13:8-14

3.25.2011

In the Studio...

This week has been a busy one for me - I have been putting the final touches on a HUGE batch of new necklaces, and I was up until the wee hours of this morning getting them all loaded into my shop. Please stop by and check them out... With Easter baskets to fill and Mother's Day right around the corner, you may find the perfect gift for some special ladies in your life.... ;o)

Here's a little preview of what you'll find in the shop...


I am linking up today with Jennifer at Studio JRU:


StudioJRU

Have a lovely weekend!

3.23.2011

Quotables: Blaise Pascal

"Do little things as though they were great, because of the majesty of Jesus Christ who does them in us, and who lives our life; and do the greatest things as though they were little and easy, because of His omnipotence."

- Blaise Pascal

3.21.2011

The list that never ends: #201-210

Thanking God today...


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201. ... for a beautiful full moon.

202. ... for belting out old hymns with friends at Bible study, accompanied by a guitar and a washtub bass. I kid you not.

203. ... for working up the nerve to try a black Greek olive on some toast with cheese, and discovering that I actually liked it.

204. ... that Josh will be done with this quarter after Friday and will be home from school for the next couple of weeks for some much-needed down time.

205. ... for beautiful spring flowers and trees that bloomed out of nowhere over the past few days...




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206. ... for a productive weekend - look for some new jewelry in the shop later this week!

207. ... for my camera.

208. ... for a little walk down memory lane, poking around through old antiques and things with my Papaw in my grandparents' basement.

209. ... for Sunday dinners with family.

210. ... for sleep at night, and joy in the morning....



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Are you giving thanks today? Link up with us over at:




3.20.2011

Husbands and Wives

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

-Ephesians 5:22-33

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

3.19.2011

The Weekend Gallery of Miscellany

1. I've told you about my mouse issues before. Here's this week's installment...

On Monday evening I was sitting at my computer, minding my own business, when suddenly I heard the mousetrap go off in my kitchen. I always cringe when I hear it, especially since we had the "screamer." (You don't want to know, and I don't want to tell you.) Anyway, I gingerly walked into the kitchen to investigate. I opened the cabinet, suppressed a garbled scream (since it was late and people were asleep upstairs), and quickly slammed the door.

I have grown accustomed to the tail and two back feet that are generally visible protruding from the entrance to my hands-and-site-free mousetrap box. What I am NOT accustomed to, however, is the sight of a mouse's face, wide-open-inky-black eyes, and little front feet sticking out of the doorway to the trap. EEK! And that, is precisely what I had seen.

I paced around for a few minutes, hoping that either the mouse would magically disappear or turn himself around backwards in spite of being dead, that Josh would randomly come home from school in the middle of the week to rescue a lady-and-mouse-in-distress, or that the Rapture would happen at that moment and save me from having to deal with it. When none of those things were apparently going to happen just then, I knew I had to deal with it myself. I opened the door again.

The mouse didn't quite look...dead. But I was pretty sure he was, since he hadn't moved in the slightest since the first time I opened the door. But there was something in his eyes like.... awareness.... Fear.... Condemnation. It was creepy.

I slowly reached out and nudged the box, and dog-gone-it! The thing TWITCHED! EEK!

This led to a whole new round of door-slamming, pacing, and praying for the Rapture. I went and got a bucket. I don't know why.

Then I walked back to the door, opened it up, and picked up the trap and its inhabitant, trying not to make eye contact. I grabbed a flashlight on my way out the door, walked over to the woods, held my hand out as far away from my body and pant legs as humanly possible, released the lever, and dropped the mouse out onto the ground, fully expecting to see the lower half of his body severed or severely maimed or something equally horrifying.

He scampered a few inches, then froze, and sat there completely still, looking me right in the eyes. No blood, no guts, nothing. I bent down to examine him, and other than being slightly in shock (or just dramatically pausing to give me the stink eye and make me feel horribly guilty, which he did), he seemed fine. The only explanation I can offer for this unexpected outcome was that his body was so tiny (like, the same size as his head, if not slightly smaller), that I believe the trap just caught him by the tail, and he was simply stuck. I was really happy about that, because I certainly didn't want to have to clobber him with a log or something in order to put him out of his wretched half-severed-in-two misery.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to photograph any events from the above incident. However, I found a picture online that is almost identical to the mouse I caught. How do you walk when your head is bigger than your body???

Image Source

I am seriously considering going back to live traps. I don't think I can handle the rodent-stink-eye again.

2. Does anyone out there know how to get "Delicious" bookmarks to show up as daily posts in Blogger? I've got a widget with my links in my sidebar, but I'd really like to get an automated daily post of the links for the day going on my main page. If you know how to do this, please let me know! Thanks! (In the meantime, be sure to check out the links in my sidebar. I have linked to a lot of really great articles from other blogs and websites, and I think you'll find them helpful and/or entertaining.) If you're on Delicious and want to follow me directly, you can see my page HERE.

3. After a few days of going shampoo-less, I threw in the towel. After the first washing, my hair felt great. After the second washing, not so great.... I cheated on the third washing (since I was going to church and didn't want to have oily hair), but then I went back to the baking soda/vinegar routine for the next couple of days. I decided that I didn't want to have to go through the "transition" period in which your hair/natural oils adjust to the new regime.

Theoretically, it sounds like a great idea. I did like the fact that it's very inexpensive, easy to make, and doesn't require any ingredients you wouldn't already have. However, from my experience, here's the catch:

Because you're going from one extreme to the other (baking soda/alkaline to vinegar/acidic), it's important to get the ratio right. (WHAT??? RATIOS??? You mean people really USE those things in real life???) I'm no chemist, but I did discover that using more baking soda than vinegar made my hair feel drier. Using more vinegar made it feel oilier. Since both mixtures are diluted significantly in water, it's hard to tell how much of either you are using in the shower, especially since it doesn't give you the sudsy lather that traditional shampoos do. So for me, it was Russian Roulette on whether or not I would like the way my hair felt the next day. And since life is crazy enough right now, I decided this wasn't the time to experiment with strange hair routines.

Incidentally, it wasn't the time to impulsively cut my own hair either....but too late for that. Alas for what might have been...

Anyway. If you decided to go shampoo-less, I'd love to know what you're using and how you like it. I may try it again someday... but for now, I'm going with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," motto.

4. The situation in Japan has been heavy on my mind. It's hard to even grasp the scale of what's going on over there. On top of the loss of life, the chaos, and the sheer physical destruction of entire towns (not to mention their economy), the nuclear threat is particularly frightening. I am glad to know that I serve a God who is in control of even the most chaotic situations and who can work for good through the most tragic circumstances. My heart and prayers are with Japan. You can help support the relief efforts by praying and by making a donation HERE.

Koi Pond
 


I hope you have a lovely weekend... remembering what's important in life, and what's not....

3.18.2011

In the Studio Friday...

Meet "Toodie."


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Toodie is a needle-felted pet portrait, a custom item I offer in my Etsy Shop.




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This felted Toodie is currently en route to Australia to meet the "real" Toodie and new owner.... :o)

If you would like to learn how to needle felt yourself, be sure to check out my free tutorial.

I'm linking up today with Jennifer over at Studio JRU. Come on over to join in on the fun and show us what you've been working on this week!



StudioJRU

Meanwhile, check out my Etsy shop. I spent some time yesterday uploading a bunch of new prints, so go get 'em while the gettin' is good! I should have some new jewelry in stock next week as well....stay tuned!

Have a lovely weekend...

3.17.2011

It's not easy being green...

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Did you remember to wear GREEN today? (For instance, like an article of green clothing, or, alternatively, blobs of green paint on your face???)

After writing the above, I got a little curious as to WHY people wear green on St. Patrick's Day, and this is what I discovered (thank you, Google):

The Irish flag, which features three stripes of orange, white, and green, symbolizes the Protestants (represented by the orange stripe, coming from "Orangemen" or "King William of Orange," a Protestant), the Catholics (green, the color worn on St. Patrick's Day since only the Catholics celebrated Catholic saints), and the (theoretical) peace between the two groups (white) (...so long as we leave Northern Ireland out of it). That's one explanation.

Another explanation was that the supporters of the 1798 Rebellion in Ireland acknowledged their support by "the wearing of the green," or a shamrock stuck in the brim of their hats. And of course, the shamrock comes from the tradition that St. Patrick used the three-leaf plant to teach the Irish people about the Trinity, or the three-in-one Persons of the Godhead.



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Another explanation given for wearing green is, "So you won't get pinched." <Durf!>

As a Protestant, I guess I should be wearing orange today. But green has come to symbolize Ireland (the "Emerald Isle") in general, so maybe I'll wear a little of both. (I don't want to get pinched, anyhow.)

Does your house need to get a little green on? Check out the prints below.... (plug plug):


Sparrow's Nest
Sparrow's Nest
Watercolor on Arches 140lb CP Paper

Abandoned Nest
Abandoned Nest
Watercolor on Arches 140lb CP Paper

The King of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of Love My Shepherd Is
Mixed Media


P31 Ireland
Proverbs 31 Woman Series: Ireland

She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands....
She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. (v. 13, 18-19)
 
Acrylic on 3/4" Plywood

Shop for these prints and more HERE.

HAPPY ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

3.16.2011

Quotables: J.S. Bach

"The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul. If heed is not paid to this, it is not true music but a diabolical bawling and twanging."

-J.S. Bach

3.14.2011

The List that Never Ends: #191-200

Thanking God today...

191. ... for visits from family.

192. ... for antibiotics.

193. ... for the smell of garden soil.

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194. ... for seeds - tiny little pieces of potential.

195. ... for a streamlined closet and a box of excessive clothes to donate to people who need them.

196. ... for this nose, even when it's a little dirty.

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197. ... for a Sunday afternoon, some sunshine, a book, and a chair in the grass.

198. ... for a kind accountant-friend who helps me with my taxes.

199. ... for open windows.

200. ... for green/fruit smoothies.

Give thanks today along with us over at:


3.12.2011

The Weekend Gallery of Miscellany

1. Began a "shampoo-less" hair regime two nights ago. I read about it HERE on Simple Mom. I am liking it so far - my normally-limp hair has more body, is less oily, and feels softer than usual. Bonus: the recipes cost only pennies to make, and I already had the ingredients! Baking soda and vinegar are AMAZING! (Don't mix them together on your head though - that could do some damage. The human head wasn't meant to be a test tube for strange chemical reactions - outside OR inside. Follow the instructions on the link.) Anyway, I plan to try this for a while - I'll let you know what I think after a few weeks. I like the idea of using natural (and edible) products on my skin rather than a bunch of funky chemicals. Win, win, win.

2. I have been thinking about and praying for the people of Japan a lot after reading about yesterday's massive earthquake.
There certainly does seem to be a dramatic increase in the number of major "natural" disasters happening in the last few months. The Bible says that in the Last Days, this type of thing will happen "like birth pangs," which means (as you Mothers out there know) that they will occur with increasing frequency and increasing intensity. If you look around, that's exactly what's happening in the world today. These things are a sign that Jesus is returning soon. If you aren't sure where you will spend eternity, don't mess around. Repent of your sin and put your trust in Jesus. Read more HERE.

3. Got my taxes done yesterday, thanks to the help of my super-accountant friend. I am glad there are people like her in this world. I'd just as soon take a whoopin' as figure all of that out myself. Note to self: you have improved your record-keeping skills since last year, but you still have much to learn, young Grasshopper. I think Excel is amazing.

4. I scored a pair of furry-inside-warm boots yesterday for $5! Yippie skippy! I also got some rubber galoshes, about which I am terribly excited....now I just need to find some puddles. (Too bad I didn't have them last week when that RIVER was running past my front door!)
5. I have shampooed my carpet 4 times in the past month (once all over, the other times in strategic areas). Have I mentioned how much I love vinegar? Not only can you use it on your salad, on your hair, and on your countertops, but you can also use it on your carpet! Click HERE for the recipe - it's much cheaper than the store-bought carpet shampoo liquid, and I think it cleans just as well (or better).

"And just why," you may ask, "have you shampooed your carpet four times?" Let's just say that if I didn't love my dog and his furry cousins so much, I'd be pulling out a shotgun or building a dog house - I'm not sure which.

6. I am currently working on a custom needle felted pet portrait... I will hopefully have some finished photos to share with you next week. In the meantime, here are a few other animals I've created!

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7. Happy Anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law today... and happy birthday to my nephew yesterday!

8. Don't forget to spring forward tonight!

I hope you have a blessed weekend.... Remember to pray for the people of Japan and all the families who have lost someone. Life is a fragile thing...

3.11.2011

Booking It: March


Well, once again it's time for those of us participating in the Booking It challenge with Jessica over at Life As Mom to weigh in with our selections for the month. My selection for the past month has been....

*The Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follett

This was a Christmas gift from my husband, who picked it up on a whim from the Best Sellers shelf at our local bookstore.

I've got to confess, it's been a crazy month. In the midst of working on a mural project and several commissioned pieces, keeping up with my business and blog, being a bit under the weather, having family in from out of town, and trying to spend some time with my husband when he wasn't buried in the books, I've not had much time for reading over the past few weeks. The novel is rather a whopper to boot, weighing in at 973 pages, so it's not exactly an quick weekend read. I've only read about a third of it so far. I do plan to finish it (along with a shorter selection for next month) in order to be caught up with my self-imposed deadline in April. (UPDATE 3/12/11: I quit reading this book. Scroll down for explanation.) If I have any earth-shattering thoughts to share on this book then, I'll add it to next month's review. But until then, here are my thoughts so far...

First of all, the book is well-written - not in a Charles Dickens sort of way, but in a Tom Clancy or John Grisham sort of way. I wouldn't call it a classic, but it's decent writing. The plot is interesting and easy to follow. The characters, of which there are many, are well-developed and believable. Follett does a good job at creating a number of interesting sub-plots and then weaving them all together over the course of the novel (at least so far).

A brief synopsis of the plot, taken from the book cover, because I haven't finished it yet:
"The Pillars of the Earth tells the story of Philip, prior of Kingsbridge, a devout and resourceful monk driven to build the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has known... of Tom, the mason who becomes his architect - a man divided in his soul...of the beautiful, elusive Lady Aliena, haunted by a secret shame...and of a struggle between good and evil that will turn church against state and brother against brother. A spellbinding epic tale of ambition, anarchy, and absolute power set against the sprawling medieval canvas of twelfth-century England, this is Ken Follett's historical masterpiece."
Like the synopsis says, the focus of the novel is the building of this cathedral, and the plot lines are based on the lives and experiences of the characters who come together to make it happen. The story contains just enough intrigue and mystery to remind you that Follett is best known for writing thrillers.

Pros so far:

-Well-developed characterization

- Interesting plot

- Just enough intrigue, suspense, and variety to keep a 973-page book from becoming tedious.

Cons so far:

- Follett can be very graphic and crude. While his descriptions certainly paint a good picture of what made the "Dark Ages" dark, I think he takes it much too far. He uses foul language occasionally, and I have found myself having to skip over several fairly explicit inappropriate scenes.

- Follett also has his characters using expressions and slang that I just can't imagine 12th Century characters using. One example is a pregnant woman referring to her enlarged abdomen as her "bump," a term that I've only heard used in that context in the last few years (that's a new thing, right? Or am I just out of touch?). His language reads more like a modern thriller than a medieval epic.

- There aren't many very noble characters. Philip is the only one who seems to be truly honorable, at least so far. While some of the other characters are likable and interesting in many ways, I certainly wouldn't consider them as role models.

- The corruption of the Church in the novel is driving me crazy, although from what I understand about this period in history, Follett's scenarios are fairly realistic. While a few of the monks/priests/bishops come across as relatively devout, the politics, scheming, and corruption of many of the clerical figures is truly sickening. You can certainly understand why the Middle Ages are often referred to as The Dark Ages. It's depressing. The ignorance and carnality of the common people is pretty disgusting too.... which, of course, is what you would expect if they did not have access to the Scripture themselves and were being taught that they could "pay" for their own salvation by contributing to the cathedral building funds and such, rather than repenting of it and trusting in Christ. Anyway, that whole aspect of the book is maddening, but, like I said, sadly realistic for the 12th Century.

I hesitate to offer an opinion on whether or not you should read it, since I have yet to finish it. But I'm leaning towards the "skip it" verdict. While the plot is entertaining and well-developed, I'm not sure it will be worth having to try to skip over all the crude and inappropriate parts. I'll let you know my final verdict next month.

*UPDATE 3/12/2011 - Last night after reading a few more pages, I decided not to finish this book (which is rare for me - I am a compulsive book-finisher). I had hoped the two inappropriate scenes I had already skipped over would be it, but I began to realize that the trend was going to continue throughout the entire book. Frankly put, he's very crude, and he's very graphic. Although the plot is interesting and I would like to find out what happens, I've decided it's just not worth wading through all the garbage. Final Verdict: Skip it.

Incidentally, while I was working on my mural last month, I listened to the following audio books, which I downloaded for free from Librivox through itunes:

  • The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan -Read my comments on this book HERE.


  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson -Read my comments on this book HERE.


  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton - Read my comments on this book HERE.


  • Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton -Read my comments on this book HERE.


  • Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace - Read my comments on this book HERE.


  • The Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain - Read my comments on this book HERE.




  • Click on the links above for a brief review of each - but I will tell you here that I HIGHLY recommend all of them!

    I am also continuing on with my Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year plan as usual, and I have managed to stay current with that. Hopefully next month I will be back on track with my other reading.

    What have you been reading lately? I'd love to know!  

    3.09.2011

    Quotables: Thomas à Kempis

    "When anger enters the mind, wisdom departs."

    - Thomas à Kempis

    3.08.2011

    New Collage: George Washington

    I've been working on some commissioned pieces lately, and I can show you this one now (since the recipient has already seen it)...

    George Washington Collage

    I have two nephews who have February birthdays. One of them really admires George Washington, the other admires Abraham Lincoln (and shares a birthday with him). Their grandparents asked me to create collages based on these two quotes as birthday gifts for my nephews, which they received yesterday.

    Abraham Lincoln Collage

    If you are also a fan of these two great Presidents (or simply like these quotes), I now have prints and greeting cards of both collages available in my Etsy Shop. Hang them as a set in your own home, or give the set to your favorite history buff!

    I hope you're having a lovely week!

    3.07.2011

    The List that Never Ends: #181 - 190

    Thanking God today...

    181. ...for sunshine, and rain.



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    182. ...for getting to spend the day yesterday with 14 out of my 18 (+ 2 more on the way) sweet little-and-not-so-little nephews and nieces...

    183. ...for guacamole made with perfectly ripe avocados and lots of cilantro. YUMMY!

    184. ...for a husband who holds me accountable and makes me think through things.

    185. ...for kids who are interested in learning things.

    186. ...for the gift of Reason.

    187. ...for modern medicine (again).

    188. ...for feeling better today than I have in two weeks.

    189. ...that the river that was running right past my front door during a heavy rain last week stayed outside my door.



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    190. ...for my brother Zack.

    Are you giving thanks today? Link up with us over at...



     
     
    Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
    -James 1:17, KJV

    3.02.2011

    Quotables: George MacDonald



    "When I trouble myself over a trifle, even a trifle confessed - the loss of some little article, say - spurring my memory, and hunting the house, not from immediate need, but from dislike of loss; when a book has been borrowed of me and is not returned, and I have forgotten the borrower; and fret over the missing volume... is it not time that I lost a few things, when I care for them so unreasonably? The losing of things is the mercy of God: it comes to teach us to let them go. Or have I forgotten a thought that came to me which seemed of the truth? I keep trying and trying to call it back, feeling a poor man until that thought be recovered - to be far more lost, perhaps, in a notebook into which I shall never look again to find it! I forget that it is live things that God cares about."
    - George MacDonald



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    3.01.2011

    Going green...

    ...but probably not in the way you're thinking. I'm not replacing all my incandescent bulbs with those compact fluorescent monstrosities or buying carbon offsets or whatever.

    Nope.

    Just welcoming a little hint of spring green in...


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    ....and basking in the sunshine when I can...


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    ...and dreaming of spring and gardens and flowers and warmth...


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    ...while getting geared up for St. Paddy's (which is kind of a big deal around our house).


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    Even my prim and proper black and white shelves decided to get their green on...


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    ...and my shamrocks, which had been looking a little sad over the winter, are making a comeback... just in time!


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    And to celebrate all of this glorious greenness, I made another green wool buttercup bag....


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    ...that has a detachable green posy pin that can be worn as a brooch....

    ...and a green swirly lining with lots of green pockets...


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    ...but it's already promised to someone, so it won't be making an appearance in my Etsy shop.

    I will be shipping it out of Greeneville to its new owner soon...

    If you are feeling a little GREEN with envy, you can visit my Etsy shop, where you can order your own custom buttercup bag. I am an authorized seller of this fantastic design by Made by Rae.
    Are you going green too??? ;o)

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