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I’ve been loving making flowers from Deco Craft clay. Working with hardly any tools and just my fingers is a great break from digital tools, even thought I love them too!
I think sunflowers are my favorite to make. I’m going to try Hydrangeas next. This clay has a bit of polymer in it, so it dries really light and flexible.
Here are some other photos from this week, plus I couldn’t resist a bit of holiday clay fun.

For the latest on what we are learning to make,
check out our videos and our live webinars! 🙂

I have a bit of a notorious sweet tooth. Not just anything will do, of course! It has to be pretty 🙂 And, oh my goodness, these beautiful cakes by Leslie Vigil sure fit that bill!

When I first saw them, I thought they were indeed embroidered! But so yummy looking… could these be REAL CAKES???

Yes they are! She is genius coming up with these brilliant designs — would you have the patience?

Follow Leslie on Instagram for more oohs and aaahs!

For the latest on what we are learning to make, check out our videos and our live webinars! 🙂

I LOVE Tools 15

February 7, 2019

Time for I LOVE Tools, LIVE, February 27th, 7:30 ET.
Make sure and register to hold your spot and receive the recording, even if you can’t attend the live event.

Watch and learn about the latest tools for metal clay, polymer clay, the Silhouette Cutters and 3D printing from your favorite teachers!

It’s FREE.

Welcome Home

January 10, 2018

I’ve been a bit preoccupied.
I’ve moved, and I’m thrilled.
I don’t usually post personal thoughts that go past creative inspiration and ideas for new online classes.
But it’s a new year.
And tomorrow is my birthday, so it’s a new year for me personally as well.
A new exciting beginning.

I’ve shared with people, locally in the markets and stores the past few days, that I just moved.
In the snow storm no less.
Conversation starter for sure.

They would ask where from?

Without thinking, I’d respond “Manhattan.” 

An automatic response.

But Manhattan was a move I made 15 years ago. 
I didn’t say where I actually moved from last week.

My own response caught me off guard.

But I think it’s part of my healing process.

Where I lived before was anything but a wonderful experience, and I realized I was already wiping it from my memory.

Oh I have lots of dreadful stories and tales filled with upset and sadness.
But I’m not really interested in giving them the time or the space here to remember and relive.
They are being wiped from my memory card quickly.

Here’s what I learned.
It can be challenging to enter a community as the new partner/wife to someone who had lived there their whole life, has raised a family there and started a business there as well as gone thru the ups and downs of everything life brings you. 

There are so many preconceived notions thrown at you, you could drown.
I almost did.

But… and yes there’s a but.

I always look for the positive.

I believe in bloom where you are planted.
So I found like minded by using the internet.
I figured out a way to connect to the community I missed.
My business, CRAFTCAST, would not have been created expect for the passion and need of self expression and acceptance for my point of view.

That’s the silver lining to this story.

Like I said, I believe in bloom where you are planted.

But now, after years of gardening, I have learned that some plants need to be transplanted.
They might be too wet, or need more sun, or a place in the shade or more room for roots, and once they are planted in the right condition, they can grow and bloom to their greater potential.

This morning I went shopping at Trader Joes.
I love that it’s so close now. 


The woman at the cash register and I started chatting. 

She said, 
“Make sure to pack your bags so it’s fast to unpack when you get home. What if someone asks you to do something fun when you walk in. You don’t want to spend time unpacking and miss out.”
I liked her style.

I told her I had just moved here and the fun I’d be having was unpacking boxes.
She asked from where.
I answered,
Manhattan.
But I said I grew up near by. 
And how it was such a great place to grow up. 



Being close in age, we quickly exchanged stories of how little supervision we had as children. 
Basically be home at dinner.

We laughed at remembering the different ways parents would signal their kids to come home. Some rang bells, some clanged a triangle and some had their own personal call to the wild.

She then vocally demonstrated how her father would call for her to come home.
Right there in Trader Joes check out.
It was a mix of Carol Burnett’s Tarzan cry meets Homer Simpson’s laugh.
I loved her more.

We introduced ourselves to each other and then said our goodbyes.

As I was loading my car, I heard someone call out my name.
I turned and there was my new friend.
Her arms were outstretched, filled with a potted yellow tulip plant.
She handed me the plant then gave me a hug.

“Alison” she said, “Welcome home, welcome home.”

All my love for the best of new beginnings to all of you.
xo

Crack Candy

December 27, 2016

This is soooo easy to make and yet it looks so impressive and it tastes good.
What could be better.
Recipe:
1 sleeve of Saltines
2 sticks of Butter
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons of Brown Sugar
1 package of Chocolate Chips
Put foil on cookie sheet and spray with cooking spray. Layer crackers on cookie sheet. Heat butter and brown sugar in pot, bring to a boil for 3 minutes. stirring constantly. Pour mixture over crackers and spread evenly. Bake for 5 minutes in a 350 degree over. Sprinkle chocolate chips over crackers and cover with foil for 3 minutes. Take foil off and spread chocolate evenly over crackers. Place cookie sheet in freezer for 1 hour. Take out of freezer and crack into pieces. You can also add coconut or nuts on melted chocolate if desired.

Making Metal Snowflakes

December 19, 2016

I made these awhile back, and found them when I was reorganizing all the Christmas goodies.
Here is the how-to:
I used a sheet of screen door or other screen replacement material i found at the hardware store.

Next I drew with a marker the part I would cut out. It’s easy to cut with scissors.

I cut out a square to make it easier to handle.

Then I cut out where I had indicated with the marker.

Then I flattened the main piece with my rawhide hammer.

Next I cut out 4 additional snowflake arms to fill in and make the whole snowflake.

I folded over the top part of the additional pieces and flattened.

Next it was glue, glitter and some rhinestones.

Voila.

It’s snowing.

For more fun ideas and other crafting news and free tutorials sign-up here: http://www.craftcast.com

Modern families are everywhere, even reflected on some of my favorite TV shows.
Every combination exists.
You would need math skills I don’t have to figure out how many possible combinations are possible; steps, halves, X’s, adopted.

It’s no big surprise that the emotional skills needed to handle these new combos are causing a whole bunch of dramas. It’s like ordering a Pu Pu platter at Lucky Cheng’s for 6 when there are 12 hungry people with just as many food allergies and considerations. Not pretty.
I know.
I’ve had first-hand experience, not with the Pu Pu platter but with Modern Families.

I’m one of “those” optimists, meaning my friends count on me to have a positive point of view, to find that bit of positive in every situation. I like that role, but lately, it’s been severely challenged, but no worries, this story has a happy ending.

Half of my modern family consists of my husband, my son, 2 brothers, my sister-in-law, 2 nephews, my son’s father, my son’s father’s partner, the daughter of my son’s father’s partner, a daughter of my son’s father’s partner’s daughter, my son’s father’s paterners ex-husband, his wife and 2 grand dogs.
Yep. 

It’s a crew.

And I love them all.
Last Thanksgiving we were all together at a county club’s dining hall. We had a wonderful time together catching up and sharing stories, laughing and sharing. We were in no rush to leave.
When someone asked innocently how was my Thanksgiving, I’d share my enthusiasm of the celebration meal and also the list of guests.
“That’s not how it is in my family. ” accompanied with an eye roll was the most common comment.

My question back is always “Wouldn’t you rather have it this way?”
Again, another eye roll.


I’ve come to the conclusion that people don’t know there’s another way. 
Clearly they can’t be choosing a dysfunctional mess because they prefer that?

I’ve learned to ‘make a go of it’, as my British friends say, but everyone has to be on the same page, or at least the same chapter.



In my experience, everyone has to come from a place called “I WANT THIS TO WORK”. 



I don’t mean to yell with caps, but I think it’s an important point.

So what does it take?
I think it’s a commitment to the bigger picture, to the “meta” level.
(That’s a little computer code talk… 🙂

And that takes energy or what is sometimes referred to as work.
(Remember Manyard G. Krebs and how he would say the word WORK!)

There has been many a time when I’m ready to blurt out in a whiney voice, “Why do we always have to {fill in the blank}….” but I immediately remember the bigger picture of why I’m there with this group, and I do an immediate “attitude adjustment”.
And not because I’ve got it all together, I just know from experience that everything is so much more fun when I do.

It’s like my car.

If I’m running out of gas I don’t start yelling at my car and complaining about its needs.

I fill the tank with gas and all is well again.

But it’s not just that.

There’s a secret ingredient.
An essential ingredient.
And with my limited cooking skills, I’ve earned what happens when a seemingly small but essential ingredient is left out of a recipe.
Epic fail.

The ingredient is Generosity.

Generosity, in my experience, is the most important part to making it all work.

When you come from generosity there is little room for drama or exclusion.

I’ve had many different types of family combinations.
When people ask me about my family history, I ask the long version or the short version.
Let’s just say it’s complicated.

But, here comes the optimist.
I’ve learned what works for me and what doesn’t for me.

My definition of family:
1. We all share in a group with common people that we love. Period.
2. We all have each other’s best interests at heart. Period.

I couldn’t have learned any of this without experience of contrast.

I’ve experienced what happens when jealousy rules, or when creating gossip, rumors, and lies become standard operating procedure.
Where teams are formed and other people are “voted off the island”.


Where people operate from a feeling of “lack”.
Where the “fear of not getting their part of the Pu PU platter” causes great upset.
Where everyone is on a “different page”.
Where excuses instead of action are the norm.

And most importantly, where acting with a generous spirit is not done or looked at suspiciously.
Ugh.
It’s just not for me.
I just don’t have the stomach for it.

In all fairness, I’m sure some will read this and respond with “yeah but’s” or
“It’s not that easy” or “I’ve tried”……. or will start pointing fingers.
I’ve been there.
I don’t want nobody f**kin with me no more.



I know some will read this and want to highlight or red line each sentence and challenge with rhetoric and debate.

I totally get it.

But I’ve learned that will get more of the same old result.
Like that hamster wheel that goes round and round.

My favorite comic Eddie Izzard, does a satirical depiction of the Church of England fundamentalism, explaining how people would be shouting out “You must have tea and cake with the vicar or you DIE!
Throughout the routine, he asks the question over and over, cake or death?
Which will you choose?
Is it Cake or Death?

I choose cake.
I told you it would have a good ending.
🙂

YES, It’s back and better then ever. Join us for FREE, April 19th LIVE Online, right from your computer, tablet or phone.
Click HERE to register and save your seat. Then sit back and watch Barbara McQuire, Helen Breil, Robert Dancik, Robin Kramer, Tracey Spurgin and Wanaree Tanner demonstrate their favorite new crafting tools. PLUS lots of surprise special offers and coupons.
You must register to get the recording.
Don’t miss this one!

The BIG SNOW of 2016

January 24, 2016

Yesterday’s snow was really really fun. Of course I got to stay cozy inside with the fire place going.

I feel for those whose job it is to work outside in that type of weather, like Alex who plows my driveway. Thank you Alex. 🙂

Today is again spectacular with blue skies and clean white snow. I walked my dog and neighbors were out shoveling sidewalks and we all talked and were real neighborly. I love how weather can bring out taking the time to chat with each other.

I really enjoyed the snow day.
I rediscovered my kitchen and made cardamom cookies. I even ground my own cardamon! ( i was dying to use a beautiful mortar and pestle I had on the upper shelf!) And I have to say, grinding your own is so much better tasting than the kind you get in a spice jar.

I also got inspired to make a soup. Chickpea Misa Noodle Soup. One of my absolute favorites to eat and easy to make.
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
1T olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups vegetable broth + 1 cup water
1.5 cups cooked & drained chickpeas (1 can)
½ cup (uncooked) quinoa elbow pasta
2 cups chopped kale
a few squeezes of lemon
2 tablespoons white or shiro miso + a few tablespoons warm water
optional – grating of pecorino cheese
salt, pepper, to taste
Instructions
Heat oil in a medium sized pot over low heat. Add the chopped shallot and garlic, a pinch of salt. Cook for a few minutes until they slowly become translucent.
Add the broth and water and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Optional step: (for a very clear soup) strain out the shallot & garlic pieces.
Add the chickpeas, pasta, kale and cook until the noodles are tender and cooked through. Reduce heat to low.
In a small bowl, whisk the miso with a few tablespoons warm water until the miso is incorporated and not clumpy. Stir half the miso-water into the soup along with a squeeze of lemon. Taste. If your soup is not salty enough, add the rest of the miso water. Add more lemon, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve hot with crusty bread and pecorino cheese, if desired.

What the weather is doing is no longer dominating all media, both online and TV/Radio, which actually was a lovely break from what we normally see and hear.
I hope all of you who read this had a safe and lovely snow day as well.

I’m running a CRAFTCAST.com sale.
25% off your entire purchase.
Snow is a great excuse to spend time in your studio playing….. or at least that’s how i think.
There are so many amazing classes to choose from .
I’m working on the 3D wrap bracelet taught by Helen Breil
Happy crafting!
xo
ps. i wouldn’t mid a bit more snow. i really want to do Claire Mansell’s class too!
pps. i always keep a reminder on my work table that Spring is coming soon.

Let it SNOW

January 20, 2016

I’m well into the flow of the new year. 


All the Christmas decorations have been back in their storage homes for a few weeks. We leave the icicle lights that hang along the roof line up thru February. I love how they look. It’s a cosy welcome when driving up on a snowy night.

I had a fantastic birthday on the 11th. 
I even baked a cake. I hadn’t been in that part of the kitchen for so long I had to laugh as I searched everywhere for pans and measuring spoons. But the cake was great. It’s filled with cardamon and not too sweet. Here’s the link and if you love cardamon, you’ll love the cake.

So with the holidays past, I’ve been working away here in the CRAFTCAST studio. One of my favorite places to think, plan and create.

Nope.
The days just aren’t long enough to do all I want to do. So I make a list of priorities and check them off as I go. I’d be lost without lists. I have to capture my brain explosions of “new ideas” and “don’t forgets”.

I’ve also been working on a secret project.
The first CRAFTCAST craft kit. Not digital. Something you will use in your studio. I’m so excited to show everyone. That’s all I can say about it right now as the patent pending process goes into action.
Must have patience. Ugh.

I love what I do, I really love it. Matter of fact, i’ve always loved my work. So it’s easy to put in the extra hours. Sometimes I can’t tell where work stops and “non” work time begins. I adore all the people I work with as well as the people I meet who take CRAFTCAST classes. The need to create is a great common ground meeting place and I’m so appreciative.

If you know me, you know that I can be a bit obsessive…. I admit it…. but I tend to surround myself with like minded so obsessiveness… becomes the norm.

And without sounding too woo woo, I love the endless process of learning and creating plus the people I meet along the way.

My mother died when I was 15. She would have been 83 yesterday. I didn’t really know much about her but one thing is for sure, I am so grateful for her “getting me to the planet”.

Onward to a fabulous year of creating, celebrating and new possibilities.

ps. I hear we are finally in for a big snow this weekend. I’m stocked up with food and art supplies and I hope you are too. So… let it snow, let it snow….. let it snow. xo 🙂

Garden Video Tour

January 15, 2016

I took this video last October and just came across it. I wanted to share it now, since things are looking a bit grey outside. Most of the year, if I’m not in my studio at the computer I’m probably outside in the garden. This year I found blooms to cut and bring inside right thru November. It’s a work in progress and as much as I hate putting all to bed for the winter, I don’t mind the break from weeding and thinking about changes for next year. Here’s a video tour of my little piece of outside paradise.

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