Sunday, October 1, 2017

Nightmarish Night Class

  I fear there's something in the air...
 I experienced my most out of control class EVER last night... and yet it still ended up a success!  There were some students who needed no coaching whatsoever (until they did), and some who would have liked me to paint their Nightmare Before Christmas inspired scenes for them!
You know, one of the most boggling aspects of this get together was that the most talented artists had the most trouble with accepting praise for their talent... what reminder that when we let self doubt and negativity cloud our minds, we actually become unaware of our gifts, or unable to acknowledge the reality of how gifted we truly are.
I hope that on this first day of October, you are finding some joy in the color changes, falling leaves, and from the knowledge that you are magnificently formed by the most talented artist of all <3

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Hunt for Chestnut-ctober

 'The last three years, we have gone down the road to our pickin' grounds to see what we can forage from the underbrush. Poking about is so rewarding!" 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

My Library Peeps

 The Friends of the Key Center Library sponsored another #CraftWithAnna class on Monday and it was SO much fun! The theme was Faux Batiking, and the idea I had was that we would use bleach on fabric with wooden block stamps to create some unique impressions.
The images were decidedly not distinct, except in their originality! There was hardly any way to predict what would happen. Depending on the fabric, the amount of bleach and water ratio'd, the quality of the stamp and or the image of it, they all created something! I made sure to caution each participant that the most important thing to remember was that the goal was to experiment, and have fun, not to expect perfection, and to enjoy the process.
Judging by the feedback, I'd say those goals were achieved!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

MOPS Make and Take Mini Albums

My local MOPS group which meets up the street at the Lakebay Community Church during the school year contains some of my favorite people. As we gathered for our first get-together after summer, I was more excited than usual because I had the opportunity beforehand to assemble paper bag mini album kits for everyone.
 After a good bit of socializing over a provided dinner, and a tiny amount of business-ish information, we were all set to start gathering the precut papers and assemble our mini memory keepers. As I looked around at my friends intently glueing and cutting, my heart was truly full. In fact, I enjoyed commenting on everyone's joy so much that I didn't even sit down to make one myself!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

3-D Painting Inspiration

While doing some "research" on YouTube for a flamingo painting class I taught last week, I stumbled across a fantastic idea from Monte Mart; painting in 3-D. How did he do this? By literally opening the tube of paint and drawing with it on his canvas to create texture that sat on the canvas in the form of painted poppy stems. What a mind blow! Plus, who doesn't feel inspired when you hear that accent (swoon)?

While I didn't use this technique for flamingo legs, it did get my wheels turning... and then lo and behold, my online pal and Community Manager for, Jessica, sent me this awesome project for creating Salt Dough Paint. What a co-inky-dink! So, without further a-dough (!), here are the instructions Jessica sent me for how you can get busy getting funky as a flamingo yourself:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Push Weeks

About once a month or so, I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of planning I've compiled into one week. This week is definitely one of those "push weeks!"
Yesterday, I proudly took my first shipment of handmade greeting cards into a local vendor, Purdy Cost Less Drug & Pharmacy. I'm thrilled to be offering my one-of-a-kind greeters within my own neighborhood out here on the Key Peninsula. It's hard to believe I've been in the greeting card sales business for about three years now! But, I still love it, so what can I say, I'll stay in :-)
Tonight I'm hosting a CraftWithAnna fundraiser for the Red Barn in my booth at the Key Center Art Walk. It's my first time participating, and actually, my first time attending, too. Needless to say, I'm pretty excited. I had grand intentions of filling up my 80 card space rack and making a bunch of planner-journals to sell... well, that didn't exactly come to fruition! However, I've got lots of cards to display anyway, and a few other handmade things that I can offer up to interested shoppers. The most important part of tonight, for me, is getting involved with my community crafters and raising funds for more art classes at our local youth center <3 I love seeing what people make and knowing that in some way, I've inspired them! Paychecks of the heart are so much more rewarding, right?
Then tomorrow the girls and I will get to play with a large amount of our friends during a few hours of showers at a nearby park... with record setting heat to deal with, an outdoor shower would be pretty pleasant, but this one will be a baby shower for wee August, due at the end of October. I'm considering wearing bikini top and skirt, lol cause "baby," it's gonna be HOT! I can always come home and jump in the horse trough pool we cleaned out last night though :-0
Friday I'll get a little break-maybe. We're in the process of shopping for an rv, and that's where a lot of our family time has gone over the last month or so. It's interesting to say the least. We finally put a deposit down on "the one," only to immediately reconsider, which is basically the story of our life lol. Perhaps by the end of the weekend I'll be figuring out how the heck I'm going to pull one of those busses into our twisting turning pot holed driveway though. I'm pretty sure the air conditioner unit being below the floor would be a bonus, considering the amount of low limbs we have around here and my inability to clear them while preggers! "Whoops" is not a refrain I want to adopt when driving a big rig, you know?
Saturdays are reserved for fun, and I'll be teaching a painting class this coming Saturday afternoon~  in my previous blog post, you can see an image advertisement for that. Should be a lot of fun, but I always try to test out my classes on my own children first, and thus far, I haven't squeezed that in... Hay, I've been a busy gal! Oh, well, we can't always work so hard, and after all, there are a lot of people who don't get to spend their time making as much art as I do, so I'm not complaining. I have complete access to enjoying my family, healthy snacks to consume when I'm getting low, and not many of my friends get to go about their work in their bathing suits!  Besides, Saturday night I'll get to unwind with a round of karaoke, celebrating my mom's birthday with a large glass of kombucha, my new go to for when I feel like I need to have a festive beverage.

So what's taking up your last month of summer (gasp- did I really just write that)? I hope it's something fun... even better, something crafty!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Mini Me's

Well, baby is growing by leaps and bounds, and my heart was leaping with oohs and ahs when I reviewed these sweet pictures taken in our midwives office at the Birthing Inn of Tacoma. Aren't Sunday and Ray just the spitting images of each other? From their expressions, you can almost hear them saying, "Mom, you can keep dreaming of having a baby that looks like you, but we know better!"
Well, one can dream at least :-)  and really, what better option is there while I fill my time, #waitingforAugust <3

Friday, July 14, 2017

A New Wrap On Kids Activities

We have been raising poultry for about the last three or four years at our house, and you know what? As a result, we have a TON of feathers floating around the yard. Whether it's by unfortunate bird snatchings by coyote, dive bombing by ravens, or just plain molting, birds tend to shed feathers the way toddlers shed clothing; here, there, and everywhere, and especially when you've just gotten them cleaned up :-)
Feathers hold a certain fascination for me. As a craft embellishment icon, they are wings down one of my faves. In fact, I rarely use them, and just look at how pretty they are still in the packaging most times- gah! Native and First America cultures have long used feathers for symbolizing a connection to Nature, and even adorn  their outfits and costumes with Spirit Animal representations of their strength and power
Figuring on my desire to inspire others and get more kids interested in artistic expression, my internet friend Jessica Lightle, Community Manager for,   sent me this amazing post to share with you, and lo and behold, it puts to use all those beautiful, fancifully enticing feathers!


Branch Weaving

Kindergarten Science Activities: Branch Weaving

What You Need:

  • Twigs
  • Leaves
  • Rope, or raffia
  • 1 Liter bottle, clean and dry
  • Optional - feathers or beads

What You Do:

  1. Ask your child to hold a twig in one hand and line it up with the mouth of the bottle. Tie the twig to the bottle using the rope. 
  2. Holding the twig and bottle with one hand, ask him to hold another twig up to the bottle, lining the base of the twig to the mouth of the bottle. Help him tie this twig in place, weaving the rope in and out of the previous twig.
  3. Repeat this process with at least one more twig, or as many twigs that will go around the bottle.
  4. Encourage him to add in feathers and leaves into the rope weave, adding more rope as needed.
  5. Tie additional rope at the top of the twigs for hanging his branch weaving from a tree.
Ta-Da! You've just created a masterpiece! Adorn your front entry way, line your driveway, or give them away as dream catchers to your older kids heading off to college.  However they turn out, you'll have a few less floaties around the house to pick up this summer <3 Thanks, Jessica!
If you enjoyed this activity and want to see more incredibly inspiring projects to keep your kids busy this summer, follow THIS LINK ...and let the creativity abound!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Yum

Do you ever try on an outfit for the day and then say to yourself, I really ought to save this for (insert special occasion here)?  I do this. Constantly! I also do the opposite; try on an outfit that I've pictured so fantastically in my mind, and then look in the mirror and say, Hmm, that's not what I expected! I guess whichever of those choices you feel most inclined to identify with, the fact is, we are human- or at least, I am- and with humanity comes CHOICES.

Many of us learn at an early age that there are parts of our body not to love. What plants that in our forming mindset? The careless phrase of a parent? A more intentionally demeaning comment of a peer? Mental comparisons to the influx of imagery on tv, in magazines, movies, etc? And there are so many parts of our bodies, again we are presented with a myriad of choices about what not to love!

Well, there's one thing I'm loving about this third pregnancy: the "advanced maternal age" bracket I'm residing in has brought the wisdom to hear those negative self-image comments and completely disregard them as being total bullsh*t. Yep, my bras don't fit. Do I want a reduction? No, I want to feed my baby with the nourishing milk I believe I'll have the capacity to offer him. Oh joy, none of my pants now feature a non-elastic waistband. Do I wish I were thinner? Not if it meant my baby wasn't getting the nutrients he needs to live up to his full potential for the rest of his life. You see, I've embraced a new kind of attitude about what it means to be large and in charge :-) In charge of what I think about myself- what a concept!

Do I love it that my daughter's head bounces off that rounding tummy when she runs to give me a hug? Do I love it that I can no longer suck it in? Do I enjoy going through my closet and pulling out another round of "can't squeeze into that anymore" clothes? YES!

I tried to jog to get the mail the other day~ if you'd seen me the way I seemed to feel, you'd still be laughing. Half waddling duck stride, with lot's of arm movement, but only on one side cause I was trying to hold my boobs down. Oh yeah, cute! So, I'm taking a pass on anything more strenuous than strolling.

I tried to get past an chair sticking out into the aisle at a restaurant. Well, I thought for a moment I was stuck until I went up on tiptoe and lifted my belly over the top of the chair back. FUNNY! So now, I ask politely if someone can move their chair in a bit for me to get through.

Every time I stand at the sink to wash dishes, I seem to get Braxton Hicks contractions... well, I still haven't figured out a way to get out of that chore, but you'd better believe that along with my self-perceived body image verbiage, I'm working on it ;-)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Blueberry Hill

When Rainier was quite small and Sunday was even smaller, my mom and I started taking them to the little park across the street from my very first home. Blueberry Park contains hundreds of bushes loaded with berries that are free for anyone who wants to pick them... and seeing as how my family consumes a fair quantity of these anti-oxidant rich morsels throughout the year, we go! 
I love spending time here in the later day, with the setting sun piercing through the shadowed insides, searching for ripe or close to ripe berries with my family nearby. Listening to the chatter of other gleaners as they converse in multiple languages across the fields is soothing somehow. I think one of the best parts about this day was celebrating August reaching an official 6 months of gestation. And boy was it ever rewarding, bringing home that first batch of Yum like we did this afternoon.
I even had a new thrill on Blueberry Hill when I spied a ginormous dragonfly resting amongst the leaves I reached between. Lucky me, it stayed still long enough to show my whole family AND get a few cool pictures to remember the moment with.  Then off it flew, and Dad called out, "Forage on, family!"

Monday, May 29, 2017

Photoshopping in Hong Kong

This Memorial Day weekend was full of travel for our family. My younger brother got to join our dad in Hong Kong visiting our older brother and his family. My muse went to visit his parents and scout craft room relocations for yours truly in North Carolina, and even the girls and I enjoyed a day with my grandma and an overnight with theirs, followed by a day of play with friends at a local-ish swimming hole.
Being a big fan of travel via airplane, I couldn't help but to be a little bit jealous of my family who got to venture forth by air. So I channeled those feelings into a little app I like called PhotoGrid!
With a picture of my honey loving on our budding baby bump, two of my family hi-jinking around Hong Kong, and a few free downloaded sticker overlays, it looks like I saved myself about $1,000 of plane tickets and got a terrific family photo too!

Created on and then sent from my Verizon Wireless 4G LTE smartphone- a Note3

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tangled Try-outs

In April I was introduced to the simple but fascinating art of Zentangle. I have always loved to draw-by-instruction, and there are plenty of patterns to choose from on the now favorited site I found,, hosted by Linda Farmer.
After cutting a few cardstock squares, I grab a pen and go from there. Sometimes I am inspired to try the featured "tangle" from the free weekly email newsletter I signed up to receive, I'm not always impressed by my results, but often times, I am. My pen is not fancy, I've used everything from a blue Sound Credit Union handout to a pink Zig fine-tip marker to a red ball point, and the results are always the same... a small dose of creativity which requires me to flex my skills in a new direction.
I have found that the patience required to follow through with each step of the drawing can be challenging, as I generally prefer to spread my creativity over many projects simultaneously (I read more than 3 books at a time for the same reason- I get bored!)
I have found that I am more at peace with the possibility of a "mistake" than most. Score one point for the CraftWithAnna indoctrination table! For one thing, hardly anyone you present with a hand drawn item will notice, let alone comment on your boo-boo. Second, in a twisted mass of lines and shading, the distraction of an overdrawn line here or there is simply not relevant to the viewer. Heck, a lot of times, I can't believe I've drawn something so ethereal!
In a way, I don't really feel as though it is me that has done the drawing; I'm following the step-by-step patterns largely designed by others, my general array of tools are absent, and my mind sometimes successfully achieves the quiet and reflective mindlessness that Zentangle-ing should result in. Some cards, I can't wait to finish because I'm not enjoying the process, and other cards have to be extended as I just have to continue this adventurous form of  doodling :-) So, it's kind of like the internal, more inclined to follow directions to the letter instead of taking an idea and making it my own ME is at work on these little pieces of art.
With the support of Two Waters Arts Alliance, earlier this month I was able to take teach a Meditative Doodling class at my favorite spot to hang with the teens, Key Center's Red Barn Youth Center. Over three one hour sessions, we explored umpteen designs and created some really cool keepsakes including a birdhouse, flower pot, and picture frame. I encouraged the students to give their intriguing doodle-scapes away, but we all laughed about the suggestion each time it was made because, it is kind of hard to do. The overlapping scenes, organic flow of designs worked, rigid encapsulation of each expressed element; well they are all part of the our internal mind-flow, made visible. Except instead of being a jumble of unexpressed turmoil, these tangibly tantalizing tangles hint at the greatest executioner of artistic possibility that lies within each of us.
So go ahead, grab a moment, something to draw on, and a pen and try your hand at Zentangle-ing awhile. I can almost promise you, the moment will expand and fill you with a quiet rest that will reside in the future viewing of that attempt. And of course, if you happen to tag a pic of your try with a #CraftWithAnna, I'll be able to applaud you from afar!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Celebrating Spring!

 The sun was shining brightly enough for us to set up our lawn chairs and table with umbrella for an afternoon card making session this afternoon, huzzah!
Here's one of the messy cards we'll be creating in week two of my Seasonal Greeters cardmaking class at TCC's Gig Harbor campus. After embossing the Celebrate sentiment, we dragged it through a mix of Tim Holz Distress Inks misted with water. The watercolor effect around the edges is dreamy and I love how the raised image picks up those same variations in color. A spray inked back ground and washi tape borders and added punches of star shapes make this a fun and festive card just right for a summer birthday or wedding.


Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Bootlegged Besties Page

Making scrapbook pages for others has been a creative kick in the pants for me this year. From the pregnancy and newborn albums I assembled for my cousin, to the gift I'm sending overseas for my older brother next week, downloading other people's pictures from facebook and creating scrapbook layouts for them fills my heart with the same type of joy that committing my own family's memories does.
Since I never (ok, hardly ever) make two of anything the same, I've learned to enhance my satisfaction over creating for others by creating scrapbook pages without photos as part of the process. Not only does this leave room for additional photos I may not have on hand to be included, leaves room for the recipient to add their own journaling too, and sometimes invites some otherwise unconsidered cropping, but then I have a blank template to overlay my own digital images upon!

If you look closely at the background of this two page layout of my best friend and I at sleepover camp in April, you'll notice it is practically the same image, just rotated. In the picture on the left, I simply laid a piece of yellow-green polka-dotted paper that was nearby down on top of the grid background. I didn't have to use any adhesive! And it helped bring the photos I grouped digitally on top together harmoniously. The ink splatters I had adorned that single page with mimic the handholds on the climbing wall photos featured on the opposite side.
 Adding titles is a breeze, and mixing fonts in perfectly color matched hues is no problema- this one reads, "above all, relax reach & remain fearless." Good advice that is hard to follow once you step out of your comfort zone and start climbing a sheer wall of wood. I pushed myself to my limit and then gave into the cheering of my comrades as the shouted, "keep going! you can do it! don't give up yet!" Wow, that was like hearing my internal monologue in stereo lol. Although I was shaking, sweating and stammering, I did reach a little further and in a surging leap of faith upward, grasped the next hand hold successfully before repelling down to the graveled safety of the ground below.
Breathless, smiling with exhilaration, and warmed by the adventure and the friendly encouragement I'd received. Add the knowledge of a few photos taken for me to document the experience waiting for service to be sent, and I had all the makings for an inspiring rest of the day teaching others to play with paper and embrace their self-expressions.

The app I used was Photo Grid btw :-)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Unseen Gifts

With both of our daughters and myself sharing Easter as our day of baptism, I always feels a special sense of wonder and reflection amidst the commercialism of colorful eggs, baskets of goodies, and once-a-year attendance at church. Easter has long been celebrated by Christians and pagans alike in some form or another; as the story of Jesus' sacrifice and out of rejoice after a dreary winter's end.
This week I found myself pondering a new connection to my baptism; pregnancy. Say what? Well, the two subjects don't usually coincide- both of my girls were born at winter's end and were baptized as infants. However, as each year passes, I find my thoughts overlap in remembrances and bring about new reflections, so here it goes!

When I first made the decision to get baptized, I was 18 years old. Every Sunday morning I would drive to my grandma's house and together we'd walk next door to the Lutheran Church behind her house for worship service. I was too old for youth group, and too young to consider myself an actual congregation member; those older people were nice but I didn't relate to them. How could I picture their lives being like mine? At 18, living with my boyfriend, with a barrier of teenage angst between my mother and I, and with little to no money to throw in the offering plate. Without a routine life, there was never a consideration in my mind to don a choral robe and join in the worship service, although one time I did get to light the candles as an acolyte. Although I grew up with the idea that "God loves You," religion wasn't a hot topic at the dinner table, nor did any rules to follow extend beyond "do unto others as you would have done unto yourself," and, say a prayer before large, extended family meals.
At this age, and for many of the same reasons, I was in no way looking to become a mother myself. I didn't have any desire to hold a baby, let alone allow one out of my birth canal! If required to follow through with a pregnancy, I'm sure I would have loudly professed that I needed all the drugs allowed and a cesarean section too. Formula would have been mixed because, excuse me, boobs shouldn't be used for kids. I had no way to identify with Jesus' mother, Mary, and the pain that coursed through her body as her son passed away in agony before her...
Mi familia, 1981
I had no time to consider my own mother's dismay as she watched her bright light of a daughter slip into the abusive, drug selling lifestyle of a boy not much older than she'd been when she herself had become a mother. Hey, "I was 18, if I made it through this year without a kid," I thought, "I'd in fact have a one-up on her"; she sought independence even earlier than I and married at 16. She took me along as her private passenger as she headed towards her graduation ceremonies. Now, I can look back and think what it must have been like for, carrying around that knowledge, developing that secret bond that begins to form that unfathomable connection between a mother and daughter, during the stresses of a working teen's married life. I'm so glad that my grandmother spoke these words to me later in life when I tried to say I didn't ever want to see my mom again; "That's not what Jesus would want."
 with Grandma
 That absolutely changed me. Not all at once, no, just like reading enough through the Bible to pick out the principles of faith that I could relate to took many years, so has coming to terms with and being patient in those relationships that are most challenging to me. They are challenging because they are important; I love those people. Or animals. Sometimes we have intolerable connections we can't live without, and we endure. Bible texts can be quite challenging as well. Ever caught a few phrases from a King James version? Whew! I prefer The Message myself! Perhaps because the message is in fact so clear; do unto others as you would have done unto self.

The choice to get baptized seemed like a good one; I enjoyed going to church, and I didn't want to go to hell. Martin Luther proclaimed on the church door that "spiritual gifts come directly from God to the individual," in other words, one didn't have to talk through someone in order to communicate with God, and that sounded pretty good to me, although I did enjoy my Pastor's sermons. So a few days before Easter, I phoned a few of my friends and invited them to come to church and see this happen. And happen it did, with a new baptismal font and large seashells of water, much agreeing to love and watch over me by the congregation, and a lot of rebuking Satan later, there I was, a Child of God. Except, I didn't feel any different. I had the same troubles as when I walked in when I walked out those church doors that afternoon. I also had a new candle, a plaque of remembrance, and a beautiful handkerchief to remember the occasion by. It took me years to understand that my relationship with my spiritual beliefs was one that required diligence on my part. That God, the energy that is creation itself, is always there. Jesus, our example of saving grace, hears me. It is my own belief that these concepts exist that forms the base of my faith.

 together at the beach
 My Anchor
Meeting Ray and falling in love with the idea of beginning our family immediately has never been one I've regretted. While we didn't take a long time to come to this agreement, but that commitment to raising our children with diligence has manifested itself into two beautiful girls who anyone would say, are sweet, well-behaved, attentive children. But making sure they are in safe environments and regularly fed real foods, feeding their curiosity with solid but multi-faceted educational experiences, that all takes diligence as well. Ray works extremely hard to provide the healthiest options for us. For me. He takes the time to research and discover ways that we can be more thoughtful about our surroundings and what we ingest. For that effort, I am extremely grateful.  I have a beautiful house, the time to spend with our family, the best foods to prepare our meals with, and outlets for my creativity within a large space (read: the entire house) galore. Maintaining that feeling of respect for all that he provides in our lives, remembering the payments he makes daily with his body and health, takes steady maintenance as well.

wait for it...
does that say what we think it says?
You know, not one of my friends who hadn't actually attended my baptism would have known about it if I hadn't told them. You see, finding a way to God doesn't really show externally, it's more of an internal exhalation. Instead of feeling alone and fearful, there is a mental friend to voice concerns with. There is a satisfaction felt upon waking and thinking, "I'm alive! Praise be to God." There are beautiful moments that we thank the heavens for, and terribly painful moments that have us shouting, "help me get through this!" But for me, that hasn't been an outward exclamation. My introductory statements have more to do with selfish praise for my involvements than ones that involve my stance on faith.
Whenever I've found out I'm pregnant, there have been a lot of similarities. Although the knowledge that I'm growing a baby exists, nothing really changes right away. The house still needs to be cleaned, commitments still need to be followed through with, and no one can really tell anything is different just by looking at you. In fact, even your own spouse may not know you are carrying something besides waste products within you belly! So, not much really changes. Except, it does. No more going out for margaritas with the girls, no more blue cheese crumbles on salad, and no more lunchmeat sandwiches, either. It's almost always coincidentally been after a few good parties with heavy drinking and binge eating of crap food that I do find out I'm pregnant, so for me there are lamentations and worry mixed in with the wonder and joy filled thoughts in the discovery of new life within as well.

Then there are those quiet moments where I reach for my womb and shift my energy into an exchange with that being. If you hadn't guessed by now, for the past 2 months these moments have been filling my resting moments. When I wake in the early mornings, which of course with frequent bathroom trips happens pretty much all night long, so I mean early morning beginning around 12:15 am. I rest my hand on my changing abdomen and visualize my new baby's growth. My senses heightened, the responsive flexations of his kiwi sized body twitching within... well, that's actually just gas, I'm only entering my 2nd trimester :-)

blooming in North Bend
Resting and reflection almost lend themselves intuitively to speaking with my best self's highest power. Gratitude, worry, celebration and hopes for the future, remorse for past actions, and shining-from-within joy can all be expressed in sigh when communing with unseen forces. I listen closely for the word of God to fill my head and answer or reassure my heart, but then again, this is all prayer based on the faith that one not need God to do anything but be. Same as he asks of us. To live in each moment knowing that all can change in an instant. That sometimes sacrifices are necessary and for the good of someone more important than yourself.

In my walk of faith, I suffered many set-backs. I've had long periods of thankful, joyful living, with literal arm stretching to the heavens in gratitude. But, sadly,  I've suffered through and inflicted self-and-others damage with nary a thought to the consequences as well. This isn't an easy fact to live with, but it's the truth. And as I've heard, "the truth can set you free." One of my good friends, speaking at a ladies luncheon last weekend, spoke of this when she made the comment, You really have to be broken, at you weakest, and desperate, to lay your life down before Jesus and choose to walk with Him. I know the truth in that, for isn't it always at our most heart-breaking moments that we find it easier to reach for something of a higher power for guidance and protection from life's misery's?
This knowledge of my brokenness reminds me of the trepidation that stems from the experience of miscarriage; that constant concern in the beginning stages of, "will this baby make it?" The fear of, if I tell people, will I have to then share my grief if the pregnancy turns out to be unviable... So for a long time, introductions can only include visible members of the family. When asked, how many kids do you have, there is a little mental voice arithmetic-ing away the unseen child within before it's mentioned. Even though a pregnant woman is connected with another life in a way that others never have an opportunity to experience, there is a loneliness that accompanies the beginning of this pregnancy as I exalt in joy at the life growing opportunity I've been given, while commiserating on my sacrifices of food and drink and whatever emotional and physical changes will be endured in the coming months.

The mental image of one in prayer that was formed in my head as a very young girl was that of a person kneeling... and boy do I do a lot of that at the start of each pregnancy! I honestly do try to enjoy the constant nausea as a sign of healthy development, but those first few months are like surviving a death in the family. Well, in less dramatic form, an extended illness. The fog of stomach discomfort, the overwhelming emotions, the heightened sense of fatigue that can't always be addressed; they are like having the flu for two months straight. Then, lets add to that hormone-prone skin issues, and then every woman's favorite issue: clothes that get tighter and tighter with each washing. And all the while, you're supposed to be happy! But without telling anyone why.  I tell you, its secret keeping at it's unhealthiest looking. Even your family, who knows you have an excuse to look grumpy and unkempt, will accuse you of well, looking grumpy and unkempt!

Here's a particularly Easter-iffic visual: At MOPS a couple weeks ago, the pastor of Way Point church emphasized the story of Mary (not Jesus' mother) pouring an entire vessel of expense perfume over Jesus. While the men gathered around began to grumble, saying, How can you be so wasteful?! they are interrupted by the anointed who says that she is in fact preparing him for his death. If you can only imagine the vials of shea butter, the bottles of avocado oil and the containers of coconut creams that I've slathered on myself in an attempt to enable my skin to remain it's most elastic, you would think I ate the stuff like butter. There is no telling what will happen to a woman's body as it shifts during pregnancy and then rebounds into a new form following, I just rub a dub-dub and hope for the best each time.

Another thought I've had along the lines of being pregnant and being baptized has to do with talking to other people about it. If you mention you're pregnant, there are a lot of questions! When are you due? and What are you having? being the least invasive and most common, they are relatively easy to answer if you've been paying attention to your menstruation happenings. But then there are all the birth stories and predictions that strangers and friends and family all want to share; we can't help it really. Every woman who has carried and birthed a baby will want to share that experience with another, especially if she hasn't had the chance to do so yet, but also if she has. Sometimes the stories are heart warming, and sometimes you won't be able to help but cry over the details (remember, hormones are at an all time high)! At the pinnacle of every single birth I've witnessed- and I used to binge watch DVR'd episodes of A Baby Story- I've cried with joy at the miracle of seeing that new baby's tiny form emerge from it's mother. My favorites are the one's where the baby is born without drug intervention, in the water, like my Sunday was.
The same goes with faith declarations; some people wear their heart for God on their sleeve. Literally! Like, in tattoo form :-) And others include their declaratives on their facebook profile pictures, in meme'd prayers shared online, and through constant mention in conversation. When they find out you've been baptized, they are happy for you and want to know the details, What brought you to that choice, Where did it take place, and, Were you dipped or dabbled? They will want to share their own story, and sometimes they are mundane and sometimes those stories are powerful due to their apparent reconciliations. As tears stream down my cheeks at every single baptism I've had the pleasure of witnessing personally, the feelings of being part of something larger than what we see in this world are so intense by the time the babt-ee turns to face the welcoming congregation, I really do feel like I have committed to watch over that person in prayer. My favorite type of baptism that I could hope to see would be one where someone goes to a natural water source like a river or the ocean, and is submerged :-) So, Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

So that's it, my Easter take on Jesus and Pregnancy, and the big news that our family of four will be expanding to include a baby boy in October. With the same fortitude as his older sisters, he ought to be sitting up and laughing by the time his baptism at Easter rolls around next year, and just as he shared the same body as I and Rainer and Sunday have, he will be able to have the same shell dipping to sprinkle on his forehead water from the same baptismal font as we've had as well <3

(and they all sang,) Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!!!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Paper Bag Mini Albums

Oh my word, did I ever have an exhilarating time at this weekend's Woman's Wellness Retreat, hosted by the YMCA at local Key Center neighbor Camp Seymour. Along with various camp counselor-led activities like the climbing wall, archery, boating, and a ropes challenge course, there were camper/instructor-led courses on topics like creating your own makeup, bath bombs, henna paste, neck warmer/coolers... and of course, two opportunity for campers to CraftWithAnna!
I met women who attended guided meditations on non-traditional prayer, as well as ladies who learned information about how to "Make Change Stick," which, it turned out, was not the class I envisioned as I had read, Make A Change Stick lol. #Makers want to make change sticks! There was a book club discussion led by my cabin mate Scarlett on The Orphan Train. I got to know a vivacious lefty during what turned out to be an epically tall game of Jenga!
Now, about a month ago I led the teens at the Red Barn Youth Center through an easy to do project that is so customizable, it can be made for any occasion- and on the cheap! It's a class my friend DF developed, and she had even donated all of the class contents for the kids to use how they would. Of course, no two booklets were alike :-) I am always inspired by the creativity that is shown, and also by the amount of product they are able to cram onto small surfaces.
These books measure 6x6" and are made from paper lunch sacks. Yes, paper lunch sacks! By adding a few patterned papers and pieces of cardstock, these ordinary household items become unique memory keepers. I knew they would be the perfect project to teach at this weekend's Retreat... and it turned out to be an extremely enjoyed class for both myself as the teacher and for the students who took  time out from the great outdoors to make with me.
I saw a cat book made by a dog lover (?!), an album that was intended as a graduation gift, a "Kirk book" (turns out it was not an ode to Star Trek; Kirk was a meaningful marriage recipient), and even one or two that were for what I had in mind- camp memory keepers! To finish off our paper stash and kit contents, we even made some greeting cards that could be sent to loved ones we thought of while making our goodies... be still my heart!
Now, I've learned a few things in the course of my teaching career; first off, I should not drink wine before crafting with others if I plan to teach them how to do something :-) That wasn't a problem this weekend! Another lesson is that, if I start to make the same project at the same time as my students, I get kinda grumpy about helping others... and that is just not cool! So, during my classes I mostly walk around encouraging others and trying to be helpful when I sense someone not embracing their inner craft goddess. Plus, I get such a kick out of seeing what other's make, and I would miss that if I was all wrapped up in my own creation.
BUT, the next morning, I had the (brilliant) idea to collect a few cardstock momentos from campers whose company I enjoyed immensely. Paper momentos that I can now use to create my own unique- to- my- experience mini album- JOY! Double joy actually, with the potential for a soon third; reading those comments after my return home filled my heart with appreciative happy. The comments were truly touching, personal, and boosted my spirits- I will treasure the reading again and again. Once I've bonded paper to lunch sack myself, I can include those cards in the folds of my pages.

Towards the end of my appointed teaching time, I quickly ran through some simple ways to use leftover embellishments and trimmed off papers to make some greeting cards that could be sent out the old fashioned way- through the postal mail. Once I have my version complete, I'll do the same thing and send thank you's out to my new friends who shared their contact information :-)
To anyone reading this who I might have met this weekend, as well as my faithful blog readers~ thanks for stopping by today and Happy Crafting!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stampendous Trash to Treasure

I'm a hoarder. Not of all things, but many. When it comes to empty sticker sheets, I have the darndest time putting them where they belong once every sticker has finally been used. After all, some of these have been with me longer than my own children! That's funny, but it's not a joke, lol. 

So, this last year I have made a huge effort to a. not buy any more stickers, and b. use up as many stickers as I have available, especially those that have had like, two or three left on them for ages. And while I recently succomed to a small shopping splurge at Scrap That's closing sale, I have also made a considerable dent in the amount of space that all of these sticky bits need for keeping!

The only thing I found discouraging was my complete inability to throw away that empty packaging... so I needed to have a space for sticker sheets with stickers, and sticker sheets without. And that, my friends, is just ridiculous. Especially when space in any crafting area is at a premium... on Saturday, I finally did it.

 Upcycling Saturday 
I grabbed that considerable stack of empties and I dumped them into the garbage. I even crumpled it all into a big ball, so I'd be less likely to try to retrieve them later in the day. Like five minutes later. 'Cause this isn't the first time I've tried this method of disposal/effort!

But then, guess what? I went back to my craft space and stood marveling at that newly empty space, and inspiration hit- BLAMO! And back to the garbage can I went, to retrieve before mentioned ball of garbage to carefully smooth out and look at with a fresh gleam of creativity in my eye.

What if... I used the sticker backs on a piece on top of a piece of paper- let's say it's patterned. And then, what if... I used my new WeRMemory keepers stamping tool to fill in those "frames" with all of those stamps I have and also don't find much use for. I may have danced in my pants just thinking about the possibilities!

 This idea was...
What a fun project! Both kids were so interested in seeing how I was going about placing the clear stamps, picking out colors with me, and marveling at how easy it was to stamp repeatedly in the exact same place (most of the time). I know the clear acrylic block/clear stamp combo is supposed to make that an easy task, but my stamp skills are not all that terrific, nor do I usually care to be careful when I'm making a mess.

The best part about this process was that if I didn't love the results, I didn't feel the need to keep them. That is HUGE! So I gave them to the kids. What, you didn't think I'd actually throw them away, did you :-)

Trash to Treasure #318: Stampendous Sticker Sheets!

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Friday, March 17, 2017

Tender Loving Care Remembered

Today marks the unfortunate passing of one of my favorite relatives. Aunt Lisa was and will always be remembered as a warm, giving woman who gave generously to many her broad smile and genuine laughter. As a teacher, she touched the lives of many. As a cherished wife and dependable mother, she will always be missed. As my cousins continue to mourn her too-soon passing, we look to the moon and hear her voice, rich and full of love, saying as she often did, "I love you to the moon and back... and so much more."
Seeing Kaitlyn Hermson's vibrant photo posted on the Key Peninsula Facebook page one morning, I knew it would be the perfect pairing to a heartfelt outpouring of grief rendered online by Lisa's daughter just days before.
I chose to hide this journaling just as that anguish is often hidden by her family and friends; there beneath the surface but only accessible to those who seek to share the sentiments expressed.
Losing a loved one reminds me of the light of the moon, which shines both brilliantly in the night sky, illuminating our planet while remaining distant, out of reach, fading in and out of sight as time passes, so do those memories of our departed. Some are too lovely to even bear thinking on... texts, voicemails, personal effects, photos of a life well lived, and a legacy of love and laughter; each are reminders to live every day to the fullest.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

MOPS Painting Preview

    I love being part of a large family. With one side of my family tree spread out over the Midwest, and another grove with roots that extend all the way down to Mexico, I have so many cousins, so many links to life; it's a true blessing. When my family dreams out loud of traveling across country without the limits of public schools to hold us back, I know in my heart that there would be many, many stops along the way in various small towns and large to visit family from both my mother and father's side of my personal family tree.
I love the symbolism of the Mayan Yaxche Celia tree, the Tree of Life. With thick extensive roots, a long straight trunk and branches that extend all the way to the rainforest's canopy, the Yaxche tree represents life in the past, present, and future. When I think of my family, this is the image I have: all of my cousins, lined up amongst the branches of our lineages, "the same, same but different."
I've been having so much fun teaching at painting parties over the last year! My MOPS group has invited me back in May to lead them in a class, and I knew as soon as they asked, that the Tree of Life would be the ideal class to offer. First of all, Yaxche is a Mayan word, and the class is in May :-) and, it's on Cinco de Mayo, which in our country means going out for a Corona or a Modela Negro, but in the land of my Hispanic ancestors, represents so much more. Even my Norwegian cousins celebrate the first day of May!
Now usually, I practice teach my classes on my willing daughters, and I did this time too. I also had  the good fortune to be recommended to a MOPS group meeting on the outskirts of Lakewood who needed a crafts teacher at the last minute to go with their month long theme of Celebrating the Artist Within. I don't actually know if that's the name of their theme, but I was at their meeting to teach on Tuesday, we watched a video where a woman basically to do just that... she also said a lot of what I tell people,  that it is of vital importance to take- to Make- to time to explore your creative boundaries. To celebrate with what makes you feel good expressively. To not be bothered by the mistakes or mishaps you may encounter in your quest to achieve artistic perfection, because we are always learning along the way. And as my man Bob Ross always said, there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. 
Coming this April, I'll be spending time at the YMCA's Women's Wellness Weekend, a sleepover camp nearby, with my best friend of over 30 years. In between giggling fits, challenging rope courses, kayaking and bow and arrow shooting- yes, it's that kind of camp- there will also be craft classes. Or should I say, CraftWithAnna classes! Cause, yes, I managed to get myself invited to teach two classes during the three day weekend.
The director of programing I decided that my ideas of a mini album autograph/address book with accompanying greeting cards would be the perfect treasure for campers to put their photos, journaled memories, and contact information for people they meet and want to stay in contact with after camp ends (it's amazing how quickly friendships form). Then the greeting cards will be right there to send a quick note or copy of pictures inside to those new gal-pals.
And with my newfound love of teaching painting classes, the other class will be focused on trendy handwriting styles; we'll paint ourselves a little power word or phrase to focus on. Of course these will be set against vibrant backgrounds that reflect both our present and future self desires :-) And should any happy accidents occur, we'll simply paint over or incorporate them into the artwork!
Remember, I teach classes of many sorts to artists of any capability, ages 3 to 85-ish :-) Classes are usually an hour to 2 hours long, and range in price depending on how many supplies I provide, usually between $15-$45 a person.  I teach for Two Water's Arts Alliance, and coming this Spring I'll also be teaching for the Tacoma Community College through their Continuing Education program. I'm also available to teach for children's birthday party's, at in-home wine nights, and for office groups looking for a group experience. Prices range according to the size of the group and whether they are for or non-profit organizations. Remember, no two pieces will be exactly alike, or it just wouldn't be a CraftWithAnna class!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Continuing Education: Photo Fun With Mini Albums

Scrapbooking is a lot of fun, but ... take it from me, aftar awhile, those albums of 12x12 papers start to take up a lot of room! With over 35 albums stored around our home, looking for storage solutions is something that is a constant thought in my mind, especially when I start a new one.
There are times when I literally want to preserve every single picture from a trip, and while grid style layouts and smaller printed pictures do work in a larger format, I think it's a lot of fun to contain that vacation, family function, or school related event in a smaller, hand held version. Enter my friend the Mini Album.
Mini(ature) albums can contain as many pages as I'd like, and just as much ephemera. Often times I don't bother with protective sleeves, so I'm not limited by size constraints, either. This adds more variety to the overall look. With all the layers, page sizes, and "stuff" stuck on, I find it's a good idea to create with a theme of color to unify the contents and let the photos- the memories- shine.
In a few weeks, I'll be teaching a three week class all about Mini Albums at the Gig Harbor Tacoma Community College campus. You can follow this link: Photo Fun with Mini Albums, or search for class #5689 from the Continuing Education page. Meeting Wednesday nights for a couple hours, we'll create a binding system, choose a color scheme, and then add our photos and memorabilia for a finished keepsake worth sharing.
I'll also go over ways to store these dimensional works of art- but I'm warning you, you won't want to put them away! And you'll find it easier than ever to create a quick gift for a friend, like this birthday card mini album I made for my younger brother. You'll enjoy a fresh perspective on reserving your favorite sets of memories, and come to enjoy scrapbooking on a smaller scale :-)
Tacoma Community College
Gig Harbor Campus
Continuing Education
Photo Fun With Mini Albums with Anna Bradshaw
4/12/2017 - 4/26/2017
Wednesdays, 6-7:30pm

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Shobia Whoabie

Shobia first entered our family's life before I did; this Paint's proud owner Dave Sherratt has used Ray Bradshaw's horseshoeing services for years. We love looking out the back window to where he's boarded, his white spotted coat is easy to pick out of the forest patches that dot our acreage. Our little pony loves to tease him, and one of our goats relies on his underbelly for warmth during stormy weather, so we see his playful and protectiveness from or vantage points throughout the day.
It's when Dave comes to visit though that I get to see Shobia's true spirit shining out in the field. The time they have spent in the round pens on tours and during demonstrations of Pirelli-style natural horsemanship techniques is evident. Locked on to one another, a horse and his companion man dance a duet of communication through directive hand signals and reassurances.
Capturing the essence of one of history's favorite animals, one known and beloved by many, proved to be quite a challenge... and you, dear reader, may know by now, I love a good creative challenge. How about if I book myself to teach classes in horse painting? Check! Before I see if I'm capable of doing it myself... Check and double check!
I enlisted the help of some favorite YouTubers to guide my visualization and learned a lot along the way. Not only did one artists reference to "needing to paint about 5 horses to completion" prove true, before I reached a result I could be proud of, but I also learned that horses are a lot like people. In painting terms at least! Yes, the same basic foundational shapes of rectangles and circles will transform into forms resembling the subject matter, and yes, there is truly no two that will be alike. God simply didn't make carbon copies of anything out there :-)
Now, this month my locals will be able to take in a variety of my makings on display at Key Center's Blend Wine Shop. I've picked out a few sets of scrapbook pages, paintings, and collage ensembles that shine a spotlight on my childhood influences, current hopes, and ponderings on my artistic journey towards the future. Included next to some groupings are what I call story cards; they tell a deeper version of what's displayed on the wall nearby. Kind of like these blog posts, but tacked onto concrete :-)
And this summer, you too can learn to paint a favorite horse starring in your life story with me and a favorite beverage, out back of Blend en plein aire. All supplies will be provided, and no two paintings will be alike... After all, they will be CraftWithAnna inspired renderings!

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Another Lovely Batch of Fun-draising Cards

How does one go about creating a handful of cards to be made by many in an attempt to raise money for a good cause... well, if you're me, you just imagine what you would like to make if you went to said event and go for it! Or, more likely, you assess what you have in on-hand supplies, create away, and then leave the nest for a "needed" trip to Michaels :-)  Or, combine the two for a challenge and a shopping excursion combo win!
This is the third year my daughter's preschool has asked me to put together an evening of cardmaking for our parents to attend. I love helping other's, and fundraising has been a passion of mine for a long time, so of course I said YES! I know that most people don't create their own greeting cards, but they are much more fun to give out than the box store versions and often times cost less.
I knew my dad, Ed, would be in town, which meant my brother would also likely be in attendance, so I figured a Seahawks themed card would be more than appropriate. I've had my Aunt Lisa and her daughter Brianne on mind a lot this year, and their trademark shared phrase inspired my hand-drawn "I love you to the Moon & Back" card. Easter and Mother's Day are coming eventually, so I came up with a stained glass and heart motif that would last for a few more holidays. You can only give out so many Valentine's once you're out of grade school!
For my last card pictured here, I took a cue from the card I created for the Key Center Library's Second Saturday CraftWithAnna project and overlayed  a piece of vellum tied with twine on top of some stamped heart on the card base. A simple but wow! trick is to trace over your sentiment with some colored markers- hello perfect handwriting!
We will be at Key Center's Blend Wine Shop tomorrow night making this batch of goodies for your Valentine- stop by and donate $20 for your chance to make along side us. There will be couple extras for you over-achieving makers, too :-)
Speaking of over-achieving, this Spring, I'll be teaching a 3-week class in Greeting Card Making at the Tacoma Community College Gig Harbor campus through their Continuing Education program. We'll be making Mother's and Father's Day, & Birthday cards, Congratulations, Wedding, and a Holiday card too. From choosing a color scheme, to creating our own embellishments, to using our scraps to make more cards, I'll cover all the ins and outs of how I make a living! Keep an eye on this blog for more details to come...
Hoping you have a happy day full of love and laughter <3

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