Monday, December 28, 2009

My Crafty Resolution, Part Two - Free Basket Pattern Links

Time for basket weaving needs to be factored into my Crafty Resolution for 2010. Below are some links to FREE PATTERNS for some of my favorite "must weave" projects for next year.

Basket Maker's Catalog has a lot of free basket weaving patterns. OK, they're not just patterns, many of them are complete tutorials with very detailed instructions and lots of pictures. Click here for the free pattern for the "Simple Gift Basket" pictured above.

There are tons of FREE patterns for beautiful baskets at Suzanne Moore's NC Basketworks - I love the Summertime Wall Baskets (free pattern here), and will definately be weaving these. Don't you love the colors and embellishments?

These sweet teacups were made by my blog friend, Juliana Deen at "A Handwoven Life". These have a high priority on my weaving list, as I'd really love to give them as Mother's Day gifts to my mothers-in-law and Aunt Judy. (Click here for free pattern.)

I, of course, can't forget to mention some baskets I intended to weave in 2009 that were posted by my "real life" friend, Nancy Jacobs at Basketmaster's Weavings. The first is this awesome and useful Recipe Basket. I'm going to weave two of these... One for "tried and true" recipes, and one for new recipe clippings. (free pattern here)

I also want to weave a collection of Nancy's Kitchen Counter Baskets (free pattern here). I think that if I modify the dimensions a bit, they would be perfect to store my "keeper" magazines like Cook's Illustrated and A Taste of Home.
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Oh... Nancy has a YouTube Channel with amazingly detailed and simple-to-follow video tutorials of how to weave several different baskets, including the recipe basket pictured above. Please visit her here for more weaving inspiration.
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Until next time...
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Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Crafty Resolution / Linky Love - Part One

2009 is coming to an end, and what an amazing year it has been! I've collected links to a bunch of projects I am going to find time to craft in 2010. (Seriously, I have so many grand ideas that it is not realistic for me to think I'm going to be able to complete them all in a year.)

One of my "resolutions" for the New Year is to find/make time to craft. This can be a challenge, so in my efforts to make this an attainable goal, I am going to commit to completing one new project per month.

I'm excited about sharing some of what might be on my "craft plate" next year... And I will keep you updated on each of my monthly projects.

See below for some fun ideas and tutorials. More links will be posted soon.

Hugs, blessings, and Happy New Year!
~~~Anne



Cute, cute, cute! I have to make this one in several colors... But first I need to figure out how I'm going to make and attach wings :-) Check out Q.D. Patooties for the easy-to-follow tutorial.

These Hedgies were made with car wash mitts from Dollar Tree. I think my Barkley would love playing with them, but I am certain the pom-pom nose would only stay on for a minute :-) Please visit Darling Petunia for the tutorial.

I'm loving these water balloon luminaries from candletech.com. The tutorial they provide makes this look like a fun and affordable project, with tons of possibilities.


Amazing punched tin butterflies from Gingerbread Snowflakes. Yes, Pam provides a full tutorial, and if you browse through her site, you'll see a bunch of other suggestions for punched tin ornaments, as well as a bunch of other fun projects.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Mexico

Feliz Navidad! No... I'm not spending Christmas in Mexico, but I have met a new blog friend who shares all things Mexico. Her name is Angie, and her amazing blog is called At Home in Mexico. Angie is an educator who is very excited about sharing details about her life in Mexico. She posts amazing pictures of the country, churches, celebrations, and food, as well as providing very detailed an colorful explainations and commentary.

Below are just a few pictures from her posts about December celebrations in her country:
December 12 - The Celebration the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe

A A beautiful young lady with traditional embroidered attire and decorated braids.

Scenes from a marketplace selling figurines for Nacimientos (Nativity scenes). I love how Angie explains that people continually add to their collection each year. I also enjoy that in Mexico, the true spirit of the season is celebrated... If a family has no money for a Christmas tree, they still have a Nacimiento. Beautiful!

How cool is this? The Holy Family made out of corn cobs! The 5th grade girls at Angie's school had to make Nativity scenes from any materials they chose. Click here to see some very creative ideas. Great job, ladies!

Oh... One more thing. Angie hosted a giveaway for a bag she made and a scarf from Mexico. What do you see on the slips of paper that were the winning draws? Yup, that's me, third one down. I can't wait to post pictures of Angie's generous gifts when they arrive. Thanks, Angie!
Merry Christmas!
~~~Anne

Monday, December 21, 2009

Candy Cane Cake and Tiny Gingerbread Houses!

Wow! Christmas is almost here and I've been so busy that I've not been able to do much along the lines of crafting this month. (I can't really complain, though. Kumon has been really busy, which is definately not "normal" for December!)

I was able to find time to make a "Candy Cane Cake" (Betty Crocker's recipe here) for my staff Christmas Party

I baked a Cranberry Apple Pie with Vodka Pie Crust and will be posting the recipe later this week. I also made peppermint truffles, dipped pretzels, and Fire Vodka so I guess I'm OK in the holiday cooking/baking category :-)

Wait! I'm not finished yet... Below is one of the cutest and most original Christmas ideas I've seen in ages...


Tiny gingerbread houses that sit on the rim of a cup! I know I'm out of time this year, but I am totally adding this project to next year's Christmas "must do" list! For complete instructions and a pattern, please visit Megan at NotMartha.org.

If you do make these sweet little houses (you know you want to!), please leave a comment/link so I can live vicariously through your creativity...

Merry Christmas!

~~~Anne

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Wolves

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is Evil - It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good - It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Memory of my Father (Dec. 1928 - Mar. 1997)

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you every day.

Just to let you know... I created a Kumon scholarship fund in your and Mom's names. I wanted to honor you and your commitment to childhood education. This fund will allow children whose families are not financially able to participate in the Kumon program, the opportunity to enroll in and benefit from our services. We already have three worthy (and grateful) participants!

I know this makes you happy. I also know that you and mom are smiling upon me in my successes and (and supporting me in my challenges) in regard to my Japanese-based (thanks Mom) self-owned, educational business (thanks Dad)!

I would not be the woman I am without you.

Quietly, tearfully, lovingly, and respectfully~

~~~Anne

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Congratulations to Ed and a Reminder to Sign Your Donor Card

Woo hoo! We just recieved a call from my husband's longtime friend, Ed. He has been on the national donor list for a long time, and finally recieved a kidney AND a pancreas today!!! (If any of you have listened to TJ Trout's morning show on 94Rock, Ed is a frequent contributor who goes by "Spesh Ed". ***Sorry, but he came up with the name himself***)

Our heartfelt thanks go out to the individual who agreed to donate his/her organs to help improve Ed's life. Our eternal sympathy is with the loved ones of the person who lost his/her life. All of you will be in our prayers forever.

If you are not currently an organ donor, please become one. It could make a difference to someone you love.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sparkley Sugared Cranberries

SUGARED CRANBERRIES



Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar

1 1/2 cups water

1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries

3/4 cup superfine sugar (or grind your own using regular sugar in a food processor)



Directions:



1. Rinse and drain cranberries. Remove any mushy berries and discard.



2. Cook granulated sugar and water in a medium sized pot over low heat. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring frequently.



3. Add cranberries to hot liquid and stir. Pour berries and sugar water into a large bowl and refigerate overnight. (Use a small saucer on top of the berries to keep them submerged.

4. Drain cranberries in colander over bowl. Reserve the syrup for later use.

5. Sprinkle half the superfine sugar on a foil-lined baking sheet. Dump the cranberries in the sugar and shake the pan to coat. Continue adding sugar and shaking the pan until all berries are coated.

6. Allow to harden for a few hours and then serve and enjoy. Berries are best within a day or two of preparation... But they're so addicting I've never been able to test out whether they'll last any longer!

Happy Thanksgiving!

~~~Anne

Monday, November 23, 2009

Send a FREE Card of Thanks to Our Military Members

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the holiday season, please take a moment to visit www.LetsSayThanks.com .

Once there, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a an American soldier who is currently serving in the Middle East .

Though you can't select who recieves your card, it will go to a member of the Armed Services who cannot be home for the holidays.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send at least one card of appreciation!!!

Sending a card is FREE and the process is simple and fun. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our soldiers received a bunch of these cards of thanks?

Regardless of your feelings about the current "war situation", our soldiers need to know we are behind them and support their efforts 100%.

Sending a card takes just 10 seconds and is a wonderful way to say thank you to our dedicated military members.

Please take the time to send a card and then pass on a link to this post so others can do the same.

God Bless America and Happy Thanksgiving.

~~~Anne

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We Whisk You A Merry Kiss-mas!

Are you looking for a simple, inexpensive, and original gift for the ladies in your scrapbooking club, bowling league, or for your children's teachers? Head over to your local dollar store to pick up the supplies for this sweet gift.

Materials:
Cloth kitchen towel
Metal whisk
Hershey's Kisses
Clear plastic sandwich bag
Bow

Directions:
Put a generous handful of Kisses in baggie. Open the loops on the whisk and tuck in the bag of candy. Wrap the towel around the whisk and secure with a bow. Add a little card that reads "WE WHISK YOU A MERRY KISS-MAS!"

What are you doing to prepare for the holidays? Please head over to Basketmaster's Weavings to share your projects and recipes on "What We're Working On Wednesdays". I can't wait to see what everyone is doing :-)

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Friday, November 13, 2009

How to Make a Ristra


Okay, I’m totally late for Nancy’s “What We’re Working on Wednesdays”, but better late than never, right?

I, once again, had a hard time sleeping last night. I finally decided to get out of bed at around 4:30 this morning. I put on a pot of coffee and cleaned up around the kitchen for a bit (I was already miserable, so why not add to the pain!). Anyway, I noticed that the last huge pile of peppers from our chile harvest were ripening at an alarming rate, right there on the counter in my(now clean) kitchen. “Lazy Anne” thinks they’ll make a good addition to the compost bin. “Crafty Anne” knows she can absolutely do something fun with the chile. “Crafty Anne” thinks a lot faster than “Lazy Anne”. Guess who began making her first-ever RISTRA at 5:00am???

It was actually an easy project. Tying all the knots was strangely relaxing, and knowing I’ll have plenty of dried chile pods to use this winter made the process that much more satisfying.
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Want to make one of your own?
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Ready, set, go!
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Gather your materials:
- Chile peppers
- Twine
- Scissors
- Raffia

Cut a long length of twine (l-o-n-g, about 10 feet or so.) Double the twine and tie a knot at one end. Begin making a series of slipknots with your doubled “rope”, as pictured above. Try to make the knots fairly close together, but don’t worry about the placement too much. You’ll fill in any “holes” later.

Begin poking the stems of your peppers into the slipknots. Tighten each knot as you add more peppers.
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After about every third pepper, weave the twine around the stems several times and knot to make a cluster.

Continue the process until you have a “foundation” for your ristra. The length of your foundation depends more on your personal preference and the number of peppers you have. (I had a lot of peppers! My ristra is about 22 inches long.)
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Cut more pieces of twine in lengths of about 6 inches. Begin attaching more peppers by simply tying double-knots to secure them to your foundation. Snip off the ends of twine to about ¼ inch. ( I have also tied in some raffia in the picture above.)

Hold up your ristra often to check for gaps. Add more peppers as needed, attaching to the foundation AND the stems of already tied-in peppers. (Always include the twine part of your foundation when adding more chile.)

We’re getting there, but you can still see “bald spots”. Add more peppers. As your ristra becomes more fuller, you’ll have to dig around a bit to get the ends of your string through your arrangement. Don’t worry. If your knots are tight, your ristra can withstand quite a bit of manipulation.
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Tie in more raffia for decoration and texture.
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Whew! We’re almost finished. We need to add a loop so we can hang our ristra.

Wrap and tie tightly the remaining end of your doubled twine around the pepper stems at the top of your ristra. Wrap until you are left with a loop about 2-3 inches long. Attach raffia to the top of the loop by knotting. Wrap the raffia around the twine, and finish by tying the raffia into a bow. Add additional raffia or other embellishments, if desired.

Here is my finished ristra. Not bad for a project I finished before the sunrise! Not too bad at all. (Okay, really. I totally LOVE it and am feeling very impressed with myself right now!) I’m thinking I may have to get an earlier start on making ristras next year. They’d make awesome and unusual Christmas gifts for family and friends who don’t live in the Southwest.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Recycle a Light Bulb into a Reed Diffuser

My friend Nancy over at Basketmaster's Weavings has started a new meme called "What We're Working On Wednesdays". Just in time for the holidays, it gives us the opportunity to share our current projects and recipes with the blog world. Please visit Nancy for more details on how to participate in this fun project.

OK. On to my Recycled Lightbulb Reed Diffuser...

I'm going to show you how you can get from this:
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To this:

Ready, set, go!

Mix Your Diffuser Fragrance:
In a bowl or jar, mix 20 drops of essential oil or other fragrance with 6oz. high-proof vodka or grain alcohol (100 proof or higher). Add a couple of drops of food coloring if you wish to tint your fragrance. Set the mixture aside. (I used Christmas Forest Fragrance Oil from Bramble Berry and a couple of drops of green food coloring in this project.)

Create Your Diffuser:
***Wear protective eyeware and rubber gloves for the first step.***
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Wrap your lightbulb in a towel. Smack the end of the lightbulb with a hammer to break the seal and release the filament and innards. (You’ll try to be gentle at first. Don’t be. Apparently, lightbulbs are not nearly as delicate as they look!)

Pull out the innards with needle-nosed pliers and rinse out the lightbulb with water.

Attach feet (I used clear glass “vase gems) with glass-friendly adhesive.

Cover the neck of your diffuser to clean-up the look. You can wrap it with raffia, ribbons, fabric, cork… I used a bit of embossing copper on the project pictured.
Glue on embellishments, if desired. Fill with fragrance mixture and insert reeds. Enjoy!

Hugs and blessings~

~~~Anne

Friday, October 30, 2009

Carving a Pumpkin to Look Like My Dog


OK. I was not going to carve a pumpkin this year. But last night, Dave hauls in a good sized pumpkin from the garden, plops it on the table, and trots away. I did my best to ignore this orange beauty, but she's absolutely begging to be carved. "No. Back away from the pumpkin," I tell myself. "Go to bed." I went to bed and both the pumpkin and I survived the night.

What do you know? The very first e-mail I received this morning had a bunch of pictures of dogs posed next to pumpkins that had been carved into their liknesses. The one above is the spitting image of my 4-legged baby! Are you kidding me??? I, of course, have to carve this design into the pumpkin! So I set off to find a chihuahua pattern. Lo and behold, I hit the jackpot of FREE dog themed pumpkin patterns!

Here's one for Nancy and her sweet Cindy:

Here's one for Miyuki's precious Dachshund:


And one for Miss Yo-Yo's little Jack Russell:
Do you want to carve a pumpkin in the image of your own 4-legged family member? The free patterns are available here at BHG. There are many different breeds available and the pictures they have posted are totally sweet. I especially love the pumpkin carved like a pug!

Happy Halloween.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Berry Basket Pattern from Basketmaster's Weavings!

My friend and "mentor basket weaver" Nancy Jacobs has generously posted another free basket pattern and tutorial on her website, Basketmaster's Weavings. Even better... She has created a video tutorial to guide you in the weaving process! Click here to visit her on YouTube.

I've not had time to weave for a few months! This sweet "beginner" basket might just be the thing to get back into my "weave".

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How To Make Gift Bows From Old Magazine Pages

How cool is this idea? Making your own gift bows from old magazine pages has got to be one of the best "upcycle" ideas I've seen in a long time. There are so many different scrap materials that could be used for this project, right? (I'm thinking my staff members are going to be receiving Christmas presents decorated with bows made from old Kumon worksheets!)
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Please visit Jessica at How About Orange for her simple tutorial. Be advised that simply viewing the directions for the project might cause you to stop what you're doing and head off to find some glue dots and a stapler!
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Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October is National Book Month - Be a Reading Role Model

The latest word from educators is that reading aloud to kids may help them in school and later in life. That’s because children who are read aloud to often become readers themselves.

Experts say reading aloud makes reading more fun for kids and, therefore, something they’re more likely to do on their own.

The more a person reads, the better he or she becomes at it—and students who read the most tend to stay in school longer and achieve more.

I strongly encourage families to read together as much as possible. Here are some tips for parents to become reading role models:

Make it a family thing. Set aside time to read at lease one night a week as a family. It can be after dinner or homework or right before bedtime. Join your local library and make family trips on a regular basis. Talk with your children about their books so that they will see you’re interested.

Make your home reading ready. Create a reading area in your house that has comfy furniture, good lighting, and most importantly books. Stock this area with books that your family will enjoy, such as how-to books, mysteries, comedies or fairytales. You’ll be surprised how often you and your children read when the materials are immediately available.

Do it together. In addition to reading as a family, invite your children to read with you. Show them how we use reading in our everyday lives by asking them to read the back of the cereal box, street signs, or the synopsis of their favorite movie on DVD. These simple activities work anywhere and will show your children that reading is an essential life skill.

Read on the go. Next time you take a family road trip, encourage your children to open a book along the way. If your children get carsick or are too young to read on their own, audio books are a safe and educational alternative for everyone. This will ensure a quiet and entertaining trip for the entire family.

Do you need help selecting books that appeal to your child’s interests or reading ability? Kumon offers a free Recommended Reading List, which includes a range of 350 titles for any reading level. Parents can select books to read aloud to children that help build pre-literacy skills. Students can find books on anything from sports to science or adventure books. Ask your local Kumon Instructor for a copy, leave your request as a comment on this post, or e-mail me at barksmommy@gmail.com.

Hugs and blessings~
~~~Anne

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Kumon Booth at NMJACL Aki Matsuri 2008

It's 7:30 in the morning, and I'm off to host a booth at NMJACL's 2009 "Aki Matsuri" (fall festival). Kumon of Rio Rancho proudly donated the first place prize for this year's raffle, and will also be conducting drawings every hour for Kumon books and gift certificates. All of the profits from this event go towards building a Japanese Cultural Center in the Albuquerque metro. If you're in the area, we'd love to see you there.



You're looking at pictures from last year's event, but I'm sure I'll have a bunch more from this year's Aki Matsuri to post this week.



Hugs and blessings~

~~~Anne























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