Art in Tubac, AZ

I got out of the house a bit yesterday and visited the little artsy town of Tubac.  Lot's of galleries filled with Arizona artists.  So many lovely colors. 

I probably should have taken more photos!  What do you like to do when you travel, shop, hunt history, or see sights or all three?



How an Overwhelmed Mom with Four Kids Under the Age Six Still Managed to Read to Them Everyday

As a mom, nanny and caregiver, one of my favorite activities is reading aloud.

All it requires from me is a comfy chair, a book, and a bit of my time.  It is one of the easiest things to do.

But I know some people are not confident in their read out loud skills.  I once met a young mom who needed ideas on how to bond with her son.  My first suggestion, my go to answer, was to sit and read out loud to him.

She said that he wouldn't sit still.

I explained that a trip to the library where they pick out short easy books together would help with his seeming disinterest.

She later confided that she didn't really like reading out loud. She wasn't a good reader and didn't like doing it.

I am not a great reader.  I slur and stumble over words when I am tired, and add words to sentences that are not even on the page.  I mispronounce words.  I lisp my th's and spit my sh's. You know those books that some kids want to read over and over so much everyone in the house has them memorized?  I am not that parent.  Repetition does not actually mean memorization for me.  No matter how many times I have read Goodnight Moon - and it's in the hundreds, I still can and do mess it up.

All this is very frustrating to me, because I know I should do better. But, the reading out loud is not about me.

I don't read out loud because it is good for ME.

I read out loud because it is good for the little person in my lap, or it is good for the person next to me.  I read to children of all ages, but I also read to the elderly, who are older, and can better judge my lacking skills.  The thing is, even those older people, who know I'm slurring, stumbling and mispronouncing my way through the chapter, are blessed by having someone take the time to sit and read with them.

I can not understate the power of sharing a book with someone.  It's like sharing a hug.  At the very least you are teaching a whole load of things to kids when you read out loud.  There are people with masters degrees who can better explain to you all those things, but two of them are obvious.

Children who are read to become readers.

Children who are readers do better in school.

And here I have a confession. As a Nanny, I read to my charges at night.  But as a parent, I did not read to my kids at bed time every night. 

 In fact, I missed more than a few nights.

Bed time reading is a fantastic, wonderful ritual.  It is a bonding and loving time.  It can be an integral step of the nightly going-to-bed. But it can also be hectic and overwhelming and anger inducing.  My four kids are pretty much stair step children.  The largest gap is two years, and that is in the youngest two.  I did not have the fortitude for bedtime reading.  Many parents make it work.  Sometimes my husband did the reading.  But mostly I read to them at nap time, or during the day.

We'd go to the library and get a pile of books.  A great activity for rainy days.  I'd read books at the library to my kids, and then bring them home and read them again.  We'd work through our pile of books, (it was always a pile. I love picture books and love picking fun ones for the kids) and then return them for more.  I do regret a little that I was never able to make those beautiful touching bedtime movements happen every night. Occasionally they did, but not enough to be an actual routine.

In place of nighttime reading at night the kids had books on tape.  They listened to Frog and Toad as two and three year old's.  The listened to Nate the Great, Hardy Boys Mysteries, Bible Scriptures, Children's Poetry, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Song of Hiawatha, Treasure Island, The Giant Jam Sandwich and more.  In fact, they still listen to cd's at night.  They listen to dramatized stories, and merely narrated stories.  And although they kids didn't get that significant bonding love that happens from reading aloud at night, or the important ritual of a nightly book and snuggle, audio books did foster a love of reading in my four children.  It improved their vocabulary.  Added to their knowledge.  Widened their tastes.  Instead of only reading age level books, they were treated to books beyond their years.

7 Keys To Reading Out Loud

1. Read to your babies. Start with something short.  There are millions of short books, some which are just a picture and the word name of the picture, some which are poems,songs or actual four page stories.  Take five minutes and read something to your child everyday.  If it is at night or nap time, that is a great time, but it is more important to just take the time, anytime, of the day and share a book. With babies, I will sit to read for short periods several times a day.

2.  For the child who "won't sit still" read just three pages of a book.  Make it fun. Interactive.  "Do you see that goofy mouse?  Where is the goofy mouse? Is there a mouse on this page too?"  Try to read a book as often as you can.  Pretty soon the child will not only sit in your lap and listen to a whole book, but will soon start picking out favorites. I have never seen persistence fail to work.

3.  Read what the child likes.  If your toddler loves cars, get a book with cars.  If your preschooler like's princesses get a book with princesses.  Money is no object.  The library is free.  Have no nearby library? There are online options and online library's. You can now check out books on most smart phones.

4. Read what you like.  That's right.  Pick books that interest you too.  You might find a gem your child loves.  I am forever pulled to picture books because of the art.  It's like hitting a jackpot when a child likes what I like.

5. Don't worry that your are not a perfect reader.  There is a reason first and second graders are asked by their teachers to read out loud as homework.  Fluency and accuracy improves with practice.

6.  Get audio books.  My local library has a fantastic selection.  They have cd's, some cassette tapes still, personal listening devices, and these nifty hand-held video's called Play-Away-Views.  I also found places online; currently I am streaming Jane Eyre from LibriVox.org.

7. Read when you have time and energy.  Lunch breaks and snack times (read before or after the actual eating) are a great time to break out a book and interact with younger children. It will reinforce the idea of a family meal and offers away to interact with the child without feeling repetitive or ridiculous.  Nap time, morning wake up, while waiting for older kids to be done with activities, break out your phone, your laptop, your bag of library books and read.

There are so many ways to read through out the day. Do you have a favorite book ritual? I'd love to hear about how books get read in your family.

previously published 
updated for this post


6 Takeaways From Tucson Festival of Books

I was only able to attend the Festival for about two and a half hours - but here are my observations. Held once a year for only two days, the festival is a fun activity for families. There is an entire area devoted to children. There are also classes, lectures, and talks with a lot of authors- from very well published, popular authors to some you may not have heard of, authors of children's books, print books, fiction stories, poetry, religious viewpoints, non-fiction, hard-back authors, paper back and self published authors.

Here are my takeaways from my short time at the event. 

  1. Self-publishing and self-promoting your own books is HARD. Depending on the kind of book you write, it's not very profitable either. However, it is worth the risk.
  2. There were many, many booths with authors selling their own books.
  3. Illustrations matter as much as the words when self-publishing children's books. Children's book writers should not expect to pay illustrators less than what they themselves hope to earn. The cover and illustrations are the first selling point for your book.
  4. The Tucson Festival of Books is a positive, worthy event for writers and readers.  If you can, it's worth any of the expenses of attending and taking your family. For the most part it is a FREE event.
  5. There is a lot to learn from successful writers and many of them are happy to share.
  6. I didn't see very many big print publishers (if any)- The Tucson Festival of Books is not a job fair for writers, but there are networking and learning opportunities.  

Someday I want to be a writer.
Wait - I already do that.
Someday I want to be a published writer.
Wait - I already do that too.
Someday I want to get paid for my writing!  
There, that is the goal I was going for.

I know I spend a lot of time on this blog telling my story, but someday I'd like to write stories for little people.  I have a few in the works, waiting for their day in the sunshine.  As I step out of my comfort zone more and more often in the creative realm, I feel like I am getting closer to making the writing goals more "real."  There just happens to be a lot of hoops required for publishing and no room for errors.

I tend to make a lot of errors.

So just getting a story finished and then developing the pitch or "query" is quite the challenge for me.  

On the road to that day of sunshine, I am trying to do a lot of learning and exploration.  
While here in Arizona working as a live-in caregiver, I had the wonderful opportunity for a couple of short visits to the Tucson Festival of Books.

I could have easily found things to do at the festival for all of it's opening hours.  There were lectures, interviews, classes and networking opportunities everywhere.  Family entertainment and family activities could be found around every corner. The Arizona State Campus is huge, and it was filled to the brim with booths.

I came around the corner and found this packed tent. Everyone was laughing.

Everyone was listening to three successful authors: J.A. Jance, Catherine Coulter, and Julia Keller

Advice from the writers to writers.

"Write for the room."

People are looking for "courage to live their dreams...."

"A writer is someone who has written today."

"Write scene by scene."

"Reduce unknowns."

"Produce new pages daily."

Bad advice: "Write what you know." Instead the panel says, "Write what you don't know. Write to discover."

Even if my time was limited, I had a great experience festival. How could I not love being surrounded by books and booths filled with everything to do with books? If you have explored the festival or any kind of writing conference, for that matter, let me know in the comments.  I always enjoy hearing about worthwhile experiences. This is my first sort of book festival, and I'm convinced that I need to attend more events like this.


Tag it Tuesday, Kraft Shaak Design Team and #kscmar15

Traditionally, today may be St. Patrick's day, but craftilly (I made that up, put it in your dictionary and tell'em Dapoppins said so,) It's Tag it Tuesday with Sheri over at Cards and More by Sheri.  The challenge this month was, "steam punk tags".  I was totally all over that one.  

Steam Punk, Tag, Dapoppins, Tattered Angels,

You will notice a little bit of fabric on each tag because, the Kraafters Kommunity Challenge was "use fabric with or on something."  So I combined the two challenges cause I am Krazy like that.

Steam Punk, Tag, Dapoppins, Tattered Angels,

Steam Punk, Tag, Dapoppins, Tattered Angels,

To get these great colors and textures on the tags I used Art Anthology Paints and a stencil as the very first layer on the top two and ...oh help me I can't remember what I used for the "sandy" texture on the bottom one.  It will come to me...maybe...in a few days.

But the colors are all Tattered Angels Paints.  I mixed and matched and played with with the paints to get some really great results.  I think.  Don't you think?

Your wondering what colors and kinds I used, aren't you?  Well, I CAN'T tell you.  The Tattered Angels are at home while I am in a different state posting the tags I made in early March and while I did awesome by making the tags ahead of time, I did not do awesome by writing down what I used.

Just curious, but which is your favorite tag?

While you are  deciding I thought I'd leave you with some exciting news:  I am so pleased to have had my name picked from the famous Kraaft Shaak Bowl.  That's right folks.  After being judged purely on all my multiple talents and blogging merits, my name was added to a bowl of all the other design team submissions and WOW!  My name was picked!

Ha-ha.  All of the submissions were really wonderful and I imagine it was really hard to choose.  I am so glad I wasn't the one choosing.  It's always a little bit of a risk to submit work to something like this - to risk rejection.   But I decided last year to start face that risk, to move forward and to try.

Not trying gets me nothing.  Not trying changes nothing.  Not trying achieves nothing.  

When I submit something, what is the worst, the very worst that can happen?

I might be told "NO."

I tell my children "No," all the time.  I tell other's people's children, "No," all the time.  

I'm over forty-five.  I can put my big girl pants on and risk someone telling me, "No." 

Because the other side of No, is pretty AWESOME! 

The biggest perk of being on a design team is the STUFF!  I get to make stuff with awesome stuff that comes in the mail.  

Mixed Media, Kit, Kit of the Month, Craft Kit, Paper Arts Kit
photo owned by the Kraaft Shaak

Now available at the Shaak, these kits come with ephemera, paint, a gel medium, samples of glitters, a pretty napkin, a surface, metal parts, and SO MUCH MORE.  This is one of the best selections of fun that I have ever seen.  There are even choices available!  (I'm yelling I am so excited about this kit.) Click on the photo to see more.  (I'm not getting paid for this, or required to do this.  I just think it is a really cool kit.  All I get from you ordering one is the total satisfaction of making a good recommendation.) 

As apart of the design team I get one of these boxes to play with.  That risk of being told NO is completely worth the blessing of getting a box in the mail.  I am so blessed and grateful to apart of this team.  

And I am so excited to be getting a Mixed Media Kit from the Kraaft Shaak in the mail!


It's Tangle Time- Using Tattered Tangles Papers

And what happens when I doodle while talking on the phone....

There is this really cool kind of doodling known as "Zentangle," which combines art with meditation. Maybe you have seen it around or done some yourself?   

There are lots of how-to books and classes on this doodle art that can be done with a Sharpie pen - or a fancy pens and pencils. I gotta say that the fine point Sharpie has been one of my favorite pens since high school - it's my doodle tool of choice.  

Some folks love the complex designs of Zentangle, and some not so much - but it is one of those art forms easily adaptable to all skill levels- I've tried my hand at it a couple of times. 

Tattered Angels came out with a line of papers named Tattered Tangles that are an awesome starting place for this kind of doodling. 

Printed on a plain white, slick surface (one perfect for Sharpie's!) called, "leather paper" for a mistable surface, these paper's are great for adapting and altering to my own style.  I really love that the Tangled pages are a starting point for creativity.  Recently (last week) there was a designer challenge at the Canvas Corp Brands Creative Studio to use these papers, and I spent some time playing with them. 

 I cut up a 12 x 12  page and used Mod Podge to glue it down to some chipboard I had purchased at Scrap.  (I'm going to have to blog about  the Scrap Store in Portland.) 

I added some personal touches and Tattered Angels Paints.

And then I did another one...the same way.  

I messed up a bit on this one - if you can't tell it's supposed to say, "Life is better when you laugh!"  Because it is.  Life is better when I don't over think it, don't sweat the small stuff, and laugh at my own mistakes.  

These pages are so fun to play with.   And there are so many things you can do with them.  I was checking out some of the other designer's projects - you gotta check them out too! Oh Crafty Goodness! The Fearless Creativity is off the charts.  Some of these designers- just - WoW.  From the simple to the sensational, The Canvas Corp's Creative Crew really preformed.   If you want inspration to try new things and new doodle ideas, go HERE

Here are a few of my favorites - 

You can see the full line of papers here:

You can see the full line of mists, paints, sprays, and glazes to colorize the papers here. 

Have you ever tried Zentangle?  Do you find it relaxing?  Do you doodle when you are on the phone? (This may or may not be why I made the mistake on the "Laugh" page.) How would you use these pages? 

 (Posted while on duty in Arizona)


25 Days Working Away From Home

25 Days Working Away From Home
The nearest towns

25 Days Working Away From Home
the Front Yard

25 Days Working Away From Home
The View

This week I fly out of Portland, Oregon to go to Arizona where I will be working as a live-in elder caregiver for the next 25 Days.

It didn't sound like a long time when I signed up for this.

It sounds like a really long time as I write this.

My husband (who was just hired for a 30 hour a week position that he LOVES) and my four babies (okay, they are all in the double digits now) will be home kicking along without me.  I will (hopefully) talk to them every day and see them everyday via Google Hangouts.

Deep Breath....Deep Breath.  I am grateful for this opportunity.  Grateful for my awesome family which will be find and dandy without me.  Grateful for provision.  Grateful for sunshine.  Grateful for opportunities to write, explore, and serve the family in Arizona.

I am grateful. 


Oh My Steam Punk Heart!

 Photo Heavy Post and Slow Load Time.  Please Be Patient.

As a girl who grew up reading fairy tales and fantasy, I've always been partial to art that not only tells a story, but is part of a story.

That's kind of why I like the  grunge, gear laden, steam punk style, because to me it feels like those pieces came out of a story...

Two weeks after I decided to answer the Kraaft Shaak Design Team Kall - I figured I should come up with the required design project.

Good thing this box was slowly taking shape.

If you don't know about G+ groups let me tell you right now, it is one of the best forums for today's crafters,  way easier and more fun than facebook groups. People don't just post and run.  The Kraafters Kommunity G+ group has the best interaction by far because the moderators (and owner of the Kraaf Shaak) is a tec savvy lady who does weekly interactive shows.  If you've been watching the Prima Channel on U-stream -this is much better.  More friendly, more funny and real, more real time, more joining in.  It's just better

. To Join the Kraaft Shaak Design Team Kall you have to be apart of the Kommunity, I believe, and also replace are your C's with K's.

Because that's how we roll!

I have been gathering charms, gears, and what-not for some time, building up my craft stash.  As anyone knows who crafts, it's nice to have a little stash to choose from- mixed media uses a lot of different materials.  And gathering those materials takes time (unless you have a great, inexpensive resource or a significant other with very deep pockets.) I finally feel like I have some (if not most) of what I needed to make a heavily layered and embellished piece.

The Kraaft Shaack now carries some of the really cool Finnabiar Mechanicals in the shop.  They are a little bigger than the largest Tim Holz Ideaology gears and have some really unique shapes.

I started this box last month. It was meant to hold something positive, dreams, not secrets, hopes, not disappointments.  What shape those things take I have no idea, but despite the dark coloring, I wanted the piece to have a positive feel.

 It's an old cigar box winch I painted red, then black then gold and black again with acrylic craft paint.  I used some of the Prima Copper Crackle Texture Paste and the Finnabair Checkered stencil..  This took me about three or four days, just because of overnight drying.

 It was at this point I realized that I would have to be patient.


So I started working on the Gratitude Box (pictured here)  at around the same time because, I am not a patient crafter.  Is there even such a thing as a patient crafter?  ( this is an ongoing discussion in the G+  Kommunity)

I was super excited to start building up the heart shape.  I wasn't exactly sure how it would work , so I kept layering until I felt it was looking like I wanted.  I used Tim Holtz gears, Finnibair Gears, Leaky Shed Studio Chipboard Gears, buttons, beads, micro beads and metal findings.  It was very hard for me to cover up things that I thought worth seeing, but I also couldn't stand it when the heart felt uneven.  So things got covered up...

The heart is painted in a few places with Tattered Angels Gold High Impact paints.  One reason is because my gel medium was not drying the way I thought it should.  It seemed cloudy and clumpy.  It was taking forever.  I couldn't stand it anymore.  So I painted over it.

Once I got started with the whole altering process it was hard to stop.  I added gears from real watches also.

Before this box was finished I knew I was going to need to make another one...really, I need a help group.  I've already found myself searching e-bay auctions at 1 a.m. for watch parts.  This should not feel like  the most  urgent priority in my life right now.  I do not need another steam punk decorated box - but the craft habit is the monkey riding my back! Oh Lawd, help me!

The raised gold you are seeing is embossing enamel.  I loved the texture it added.  I think I used every metallic color I had on hand (except silver) to add highlights and variations to the color.  I used a  little Tattered Angels Aqua Stained Glass Paint just here and there also. 

I didn't worry too much about being exact as I glued and painted.  I'm not a planner.  I don't sketch out ideas or plan ahead when I craft.  It's all "gut art"  I just start and try out ideas.  This usually means that I'm not totally happy with the result.  There are about twenty things (at least) that I would do differently now that I feel like I'm finished with this project.

But if my goal was a prefect project then I would probably have given up before I started.

The feet of the box proposed quite a problem for me.  It's just a cigar box of thin wood.  I was afraid nails and screws wouldn't hold up very well.  But at the same time I regret not using them.  I feel like the box is more fragile than it should be.  The feet are basically glued on, and I wrapped them in wire and glued down the wire for a little added strength. I used black micro beads on two of the feet and left the other two feet free of it.

Sometime in the future I wouldn't mind creating something with working gears. (Maybe one of the really awesome guys at the Kraafters Kommunity would help me put together a box with moving parts?)

I had a great time making this box.  I can't wait to start the next one.  Unfortunately I will be out of town the rest of the month...but that will give me plenty of time to hunt for new interesting bits to put on the next box...