Monday, April 24, 2017

First Nature Walk of The Season and Some Helpful Resources

Heading out for our first adventure.

Last Thursday was such a lovely day, perfect for our first Nature Study walk.  It was partly sunny and warm.  It was a bit windy, 30mph winds.  We didn't really have a specific goal, just enjoy being outside.  Everyone ran, played on the playground, climbed trees and tried to steer clear of the Spring mud.

When we got home we did a little nature note booking. The pages are from the Handbook of Nature Study Spring challenges.  We did a Tree Study, Bird Drawing and Weather Observation.  Spring weather is so crazy that we observed twice that day because the weather is so different from the morning till evening.  

We have been working on learning our neighborhood birds.  Yes, I think I could be a crazy bird person that hangs binoculars around her neck and carries a field guide at all times.  I downloaded a Bird matching game (I'm sorry I can't remember the source), covered them with contact paper and then cut them out.  It is fun to match them up with our Audubon birds.   

Thanks to my sister, I came across this great outdoor website.  There is some great info and videos on feathers.  Fun for all of us :) 

Follow Sunshine by Channon's board Nature Study: Books & Resources on Pinterest.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sharing Freedom And An Apology

I can't tell you how many times I pulled up my little blog to post something.  I just sat and stared.  I wanted to write something, share a photo, share a craft, say something witty.  Anything.  But, for the first time I didn't know where to begin.

I used to feel pretty confident about who I was and what I wanted to share.  I was a homeschooling mom of a large family that was fully entrenched in a Fundamental Baptist Church.  I firmly believed in my political positions, as well as my opinions on social media... and TV in general.

I knew how I felt, and didn't have a hard time sharing it freely with others.  I knew what was best for our families, as well as others.  To be fair, people would ask me "How do you do it with all of those children!"  "How can I get my child to do ______?"  When you have that kind of an audience, it is hard not to oblige.  But, I really believed what I was saying was the truth.

But, along the journey I began having doubts.  Doubts that came from my own heart, but also doubts from watching those around me.  I just wasn't buying into the things I used to accept with out question.  What was really truth?  What was God's Word and not just a tradition, an opinion, or a denomination?

I wanted to know if what we were telling our children was the truth... not just propaganda and guilt.

Was what I was teaching them (even turning our backs on friends, family and strangers) the "Christian" thing to do?

And then there was the fear.

Fear that if we left what we had been taught, we would become the next sermon illustration of 'what not to do'.  Fear that our choices would negatively affect our children and their future.  Fear that the people we knew would look down on our family and our decisions for not wanting to be a part of what we just didn't believe anymore.

Fear, coupled with guilt, can be a powerful thing.  A power strong enough to have a family...even a church... question everyone and everything that doesn't believe the way they do.


When you can put that fear and guilt aside, you find that there is so much good out there, things that had been taboo before, weren't at all.  You realize that God isn't something that you keep in a tiny, tidy box.  But, something that is way beyond what we can imagine, and so much bigger (and more important) than ourselves.

We have met wonderful people, from different faiths and religions.  Our children's lives have been enhanced from realizing that you can't always judge a book by their 'well dressed' cover.  They have friends that are very unlike themselves, and yet, not really all that different.

It has allowed me to look at history, politics, and social issues through a different pair of glasses.

So, what is the point of sharing all of this?  Maybe it is just the idea of writing it down and clearing out some much needed real estate in my brain.  I know for sure that it is a letter of apology to those I may have hurt with my words and my actions because I thought that I was doing the right thing.  It is an apology to those I treated snidely because their choices were different than mine.  It is assuredly an apology to all those that visited the church and I ignored.  Being on the other side, as a visitor, I am embarrassed by my actions.

I am grateful for many things in our past... but it has been an eye opener to know that much of what we believed was to make other men happy.  To find favor more in the sight of man than of God.

I can't guarantee that our decisions are right.  But, if I am to be honest with myself, I couldn't have guaranteed them before.

I am still a homeschooling mom of a large family... but now I am wearing a different pair of glasses, and that's where the similarities end.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Felt Food Goes Down On The Farm

My felt food got all fancied up and hopped a plane to Arizona for this adorable photo shoot.  The talented Qiana from Qiana K. Photography put together this fun photo shoot with a wonderful group of artisans from Instagram.

I wanted to share the photos with you, along with the links so you can check out all of these great crafters for yourself.

Imaginative Play

Sunshine by Channon: felt food and toys

Two Tiny Sunshines: adorable felt campfire sets

Opposite of Far: felt animal masks

Pretty amazing.  So many talented people out there! Thank you Qiana, for a lovely photo shoot.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Crafty Interview with Avalon Sunshine

When we first moved from Ohio to the Chicago area, about 7 months ago, one of the first ladies I met was Erica from Avalon Sunshine.  We met at Starbucks and talked about our Etsy shops, our children, and just our daily lives.  It was a lot of fun, and it really helped me feel a little bit more at home in this huge suburb of Chicago.

As I was working on getting my blog up and running again I wanted to connect with other Makers.  I loved the idea of adding 'Crafty Interviews' to my space, and of course the first person I thought to ask was Erica!

Thankfully she loved the idea and graciously answered my questions.  She even went one step further and offered a fun giveaway from her Etsy shop.  Details are at the end of this post (don't skip ahead)! I hope you enjoy reading her answers as much as I did.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m Erica, the maker behind Avalon Sunshine.  I live in the Chicago area with my husband and two boys, ages 7 & 9.   I have always loved making things and trying out different types of crafts and DIY.  Creating is what makes me feel alive and puts the sparkle in my days. 

2. What made you want to start Avalon Sunshine?

I worked a very high-stress job as a project manager with long, long hours.  When my kids were in preschool and 1st grade, I hit a point where my heart was hurting so much that something had to change.  They were growing up too fast and I wasn’t there enough. When I was physically there, my mind was so distracted by stress that I wasn’t mentally present.  I knew these were the years that my kids would build habits and values to carry through the rest of their lives, and I needed to be there for them.  So, with my husband’s support, I took a huge leap of faith and quit my job to start an Etsy shop.

3. Where do you find inspiration for your items?

Everything that I sell in my shop is something that I originally made for my own kids or as a gift for someone I love.  I put a lot of thought into gift-giving and celebrating special days in my own life.  Putting these treasures out into the world is a very exciting thing for me.  Only the very best items make it into my shop because I want my customers to know that they can find that perfect “little something special” in my Etsy store.  

In raising my two boys I have often found myself craving a step back to simpler times, away from technology, big plastic toys and the latest cartoon characters.  So my products tend to have the vibes of a simple childhood, inspired by creative play and imagination.  

4. What do you love most about owning your own craft business?

So many things to love!!!  I love the freedom that I have to design my own schedule.  I love the getting to make things every single day.  I love getting to help moms with party details and special gifts for their little ones. 

5. What does a typical day look like for you?

Once the kids are off to school, I head to my craft room in the basement.  In my house where I’m outnumbered by boys, I painted the walls bubble gum pink and it’s my favorite place in the house!  First, I answer emails and Etsy convos then get to work on my pending orders.  Almost all of my orders are personalized, so there is a pretty constant flow of new work to be done.  Once orders for the day are done, I spend the rest of my time working on new projects or growing my business until the kids get home from school.  

6. Where do you see your business going in the future?

I love selling on Etsy and will continue, but I also want to start my own website where I can sell my products and share some other mama-fun.  

As a mom, I know how easy it is to let kids entertain themselves with technology.  But limits are important and there is no substitute for the playful interaction between parents and kids. The playing and laughter build trust and it lets your kids know that they are loved and worthy of your time. That relationship will become even more important as kids grow older and make more of their own decisions.  I started sharing some easy play ideas on Instagram and want to expand this when I start my site.  These are not the Pinterest ideas that need 5,000 supplies and make an explosive mess.  Simple. Silly. Fun. (search #AvalonFunshine on Instagram to see the ideas that I have already shared and passed the fun-test in my house).

7. Would you share some of your favorite resources and shops?

There are so many resources on the Internet for handmade business owners and Etsy sellers, but finding people who you can trust and have a proven success record can be tough.  I listen to a LOT of webinars and periscopes and these 3 biz ladies know what’s going on and are fabulous teachers.   

Danielle at The Merriweather Council teaches handmade business owners how to optimize their online businesses and make the best decisions to lead to overall success and profitability.  I have purchased multiple courses and e-books from her that have been so valuable.  And, she has tons of free content on her website and periscopes that are worth checking out.  
@merriweatherc on Instagram
Merriweather Council @merriweatherc on Periscope

Nothing has made a bigger impact on my Etsy success than improving my SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  This means using the right key words that people are actually searching for on Etsy and putting them in the correct places in titles and tags so that people can easily find you.  The source that I used for this was a webinar from Dalia at Etsy Seller Mastermind.  She is an expert on this topic and teaches this in the simplest steps that anyone can follow.  And, she is on Periscope every single day discussing various topics for handmade business owners.
Dalia Abdalla @EtsySellerMastermind on Periscope

Shunta at Because of Zoe started a business selling bows and has been able to quit her job as an attorney to make a full-time career from her handmade business.  Now, she’s teaching other women how to create a successful handmade business.  She is on Periscope every day talking about a different topic.  I love that she puts a big focus on self-care (we need to remember to take care of ourselves too while we’re running a biz) and she’s a mom, so she gets the family-career balance that we all want.
Shunta @becauseofzoe on Periscope

8. Where can we find out more about your wonderful creations?

My favorite place to play is Instagram (@avalonsunshine) where you can see the fun custom orders that I make and see my new projects as they unfold. You can shop with me on Etsy at

9. Do your children play a part in your business?

I love crafting with my kids and they have found a huge love for perler beads (melty beads). When I was preparing for a Christmas craft show at the kids’s school, my older son wanted to make things out of perler beads to sell.  So, he got busy with a lot of Minecraft designs and we put them on backpack clips.  He made about 25 of them and has sold out 2 years in a row.  It’s been a fun learning experience for him to create, talk to customers, pay for the supplies and enjoy the profits. 

Thank you so much for your time, Erica.  I can't wait to check out her favorite resources.  If you have any questions for, please leave them in the comment section.

Erica has been very generous to offer a giveaway 
from her shop Avalon Sunshine.  

Click on over to her shop and take a look at the cute cake toppers.  The winner can choose any color combination and any personalization up to 25 letters.  I am doing a rafflecopter giveaway, so just follow the prompts.  Winner will be chosen and notified by email.  Contest closes May 1, 2016.  Good luck :)  If you need one sooner, place an order with her today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(contest is closed)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Shop Update 4/13/16

What a great few weeks I have had on the blog and in my craft studio.  It is a huge blessing when you are able to get an idea in your head to actually have it come to fruition.

That happened for me last week.  I was looking for a logo to add to my felt food packaging I was preparing to ship off to sunny Florida for Shoppe561.

As I was 'googling' I came across the Creative Market and the wonderful digital artist ssstocker.  It is like she was able to get inside of my head and create exactly what I was looking for.

Labels, avatars, shop banners, blog headers were all changed immediately to accommodate my new logo.  I hope you love it as much as I do.

I will be adding Springtime Candy to my felt food collection in a few weeks.  They remind me of salt water taffy... only of course not as chewy :)

I love the color scheme, they actually match the Springtime Teabags that I already have in the shop.  I am looking forward to working on a Summer set in the next few months.

 It seems like as soon as I feel like I have a little bit of inventory stocked up it needs to be shipped off to Utah, Arizona or Michigan... and what a wonderful problem to have!  I will happily continue sewing and sharing with you.  

The pretty butterflies in the middle photo will soon be made into dainty felt cookies.  This will be my giveaway for May.  Stay tuned for the announcement so you won't miss the chance to enter and win.  I only have one set of 6, so don't miss it!

I am so excited to introduce my first Crafty Interview this Friday with Erica from Avalon Sunshine!

'Simple touches to add to your birthday party or special event to make it a memorable occasion. Unique gifts for kids that foster creative play.  Give a gift that will be played with and enjoyed.'  

Join us to learn about her wonderful shop on Etsy, as well as learn about some of her favorite resources to get your handmade business up and running.

Erica graciously agreed to provide our giveaway for April!

You can win one of her adorable Cake Toppers.  

Come back on Friday to read the wonderful interview and enter the giveaway.