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Archive for 'arts ‘n’ crafts'

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Summertime craft suggestions, anyone? (Contest)
Tuesday, May 10th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Brenda A!

This summer, we’ll have four kids underfoot. The two older ones have part-time jobs and driver’s licenses, so I’m not so worried about keeping them occupied. The 13-year-old and 8-year-old will present tougher challenges. I was thinking of maybe trying to get them excited about some crafty projects. Maybe tackle one every couple of weeks. I’d love to pass along my “craft bug” to someone!

Something my dd and I did a few years ago was make soap. We tried just one recipe, and it actually turned out very, very nice! It was an oatmeal-honey-goat’s milk recipe, and we added some essential oils for scent. The project didn’t take more than an hour to put everything together, and after we stuck it in the fridge while it hardened, we had lovely bars of soap!

This was us putting together our ingredients before sticking the measuring cup in the microwave to melt the mixture.

We found some cheap, basic molds on Amazon. All we did after stirring our hot, melted mix was pour it into the mold.

And we had pretty, nicely scented, smooth-as-butter soap!

So, I’m going to hunt for my old molds and purchase ingredients to be ready!

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, share your ideas for crafty summertime activities!

While the world is in chaos… (Contest)
Sunday, March 6th, 2022

UPDATE: The winner is…Elaine Howell!

A note popped up on my phone, telling me how much my time spent on the device has increased. My Twitter time has risen dramatically. No surprise there. I’ve been watching the news out of Ukraine incessantly. It’s hard not to. So many harrowing and uplifting stories. Today’s favorite was the story about a woman in Kyiv who took down a drone by flinging a jar of cucumbers at it from her balcony.

Writing hasn’t been easy or particularly productive, which is worrying since I have a book I have to upload by the 18th. I’ve been doing edits, because it doesn’t take as much brainpower—usually.

I’m still trying to make time for the #100DayProject art challenge, but I’m falling behind. Again, too much time on my phone and spent in front of the TV. I have to manage my “need to know” a little better. I made a bookmark earlier last week and didn’t realize until I was done that, subconsciously, Ukraine was still on my mind…

Another tweet prompted me to do this in response to whether I supported the Ukrainians. My answer ten minutes later…

I’ll keep with the challenge. It makes me experiment a bit. This picture was made using oil pastels, with which I have no experience (obviously!), but it was highly enjoyable giving it a try…

This one is more in line with what I usually do. Just a repeated pattern. No thought. Just paint and doodle. Very relaxing.

So, my question to you for a chance to win my Ukrainian sunflower bookmark is…

How do you find balance while the world is devolving into chaos?


Getting in the Halloween Spirit! (Puzzle-Contest)
Saturday, October 16th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…rita!

It’s been a hella busy week! I began a new book that’s due this coming Friday. I’m almost halfway there, BUT I had to spend yesterday and today at the Art Festival! Pesky festival had to fall right in the center of my deadline hell! But oh, it’s fun!!

We’re set up in tents all along Main Street. My stall faced the sun all day, and it was hot—until it was stormy. Then my pictures, in their frames with glass, were flapping on the grid walls from the wind. But it was fun. And validating. There are 35 artists showing. I’m a newbie, but people stopped in because the bright colors caught their eyes. A few, even a couple of art teachers, were surprised by the saturation of color I get from watercolors. “Nice work!” And, even better, I sold some!! I’ll be back there today, so again, no writing, but I’ll be having fun.


Getting ready for the art show put a dent in our Halloween preparations. We have some major catching up to do after this weekend. We have costumes ordered, makeup planned, but we haven’t started our Halloween movie nights!

Solve the puzzle then tell me how you get in the Halloween spirit for a chance to win a download of your choice from my backlist of books!

Monday, Monday… (Contest)
Monday, August 16th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Angel Shaw!

Da-dah, da-da-da-da… Is the song in your head now? You can thank me.

We’re excited here. Three of the kids are back in school today. We’ll see how long that lasts! Thankfully, our school enacted a mask mandate. For now, the house is quiet, and I’m hoping I’ll have more “me” time to do all the things I need to do…like write a dang book by the end of the month, edit four projects, and make some art.

I’m one of the “artists” (cough, gag) who will be showing in town in October at the art festival. Still don’t know how they selected me. I mean, we have some seriously good artists in this area. I hope to fill up my 10×10 space inside my tent with pieces people might like to hang in their house (I’d be thrilled to appear in someone’s bathroom!).

I have some older pieces I can use, but I’m trying to produce more. It’s been very slow-going. Like, only two new pieces so far. Want to take a look?

I made this one last night. I love it. Yeah, it’s all beige-y, but it works for me. It’s a water-doodle (watercolor and pen).

This one was done with soft pastel sticks.I had so much fun with it. Working with pastels makes me feel like a kid in kindergarten making a big mess.

Anyway, this is what I’ll be doing in the evenings after I finish work for the next two months.

Do y’all have any big projects in the works? Answer for a chance to win a hand-painted postcard from me. 🙂

Bye-Bye March. Here comes April! (Contest)
Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Mechelle!


March was… It’s hard to describe. Crazy busy, super annoying. Big happy wins and crotchety pain-in-ass (literally) setbacks.

On the health front… I started the month still recovering from a busted tailbone, but by the third week, I sat comfortably (with a donut, still). My hand (last September’s fall) is still wonky and I met with the ortho guy who said the continued tightness and swelling are all normal, and if I keep doing my hand exercises, I should, someday, be able to curl my fist again and open a damn jar. Good news on the medical front? I had my second COVID shot and my dd had her first! Now, we have the 16 and 17-year-olds scheduled, too. We’re slowly getting there, but still masking and distancing, and will continue to do so until they have vaccines for the little ones.

On the work front… I finished writing Hardman and published it! Woot! Thanks to everyone who read it and left a review. Reviews are so appreciated! I also completed 5 editing projects, two of which were loooonnng. They kicked my ass, but they are out the door! I got the rights back to some old books I published through some traditional houses a while ago, so I added them to my work schedule because they need a refurb, and one set of stories needs a readthrough because I want to write more in the series. To say the least, I’m super stoked.

On the art front… I am still slogging through the #100daychallenge, although I’m about ten days behind. Here are some of my favorites so far…


I completed my April calendar yesterday, and it already needs some fixes. I think April is going to be that kind of month—one where I have to be fluid and roll to evade the bombs and sinkholes. The big thing in April is that I have to write a book and publish it. Yeah, I haven’t written page one, but I generally do best when I’m running on adrenaline, and a hard deadline gooses me into creativity.

That book is Hot SEAL, In His Memory, and it’s going to be a hard one for me to write because it deals with the loss of a friend and a husband. If you haven’t pre-ordered your copy…

Hot SEAL, In His Memory

Pre-order your copy here!

As for editing gigs, I presently have two scheduled, but I had that many scheduled for March as well, and look what happened! So, I’m hoping I’ll have the first couple of weeks pretty free to dive into my new story.

On the homefront, I’ve begun work to get the green scum out of the pool. That’s always a weeks-long thing. I can’t wait to swim!!!!! And my dd is putting in a garden. We’re hoping it does well and that we have a summer full of lettuce, cucumbers, strawberries, blueberries, peppers, and more! I love admiring the “fruits” of her labor, but diggin’ in dirt is not my thing. I’ll maintain the pool, thank you very much.

And I plan to catch up on the art challenge, too. I’m getting better at it, I think. But the purpose is to connect with my creative center. Writing has become a job in my mind. I need to find that spark again.

So, I’d love to hear whether you had big wins in March and plans for April! Chime in for a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Not a lazy Saturday… Contests ending, and a new contest… And who’s your new book boyfriend? I have a suggestion…
Saturday, March 27th, 2021

UPDATE: The winner is…Alison Hutfelter!

It’s Saturday, and I have some ground to cover this weekend to catch up on my schedule! Why did I fall behind? It’s kind of a mash of post-COVID-shot-malaise (there was a bit of fatigue associated with the shot, nothing big), plus the post-book-release-exhale (which is a real thing for me, folks!), but it’s time to step it up because I have a new book to whiz through this month, plus several editing projects. It never ends, and weekends aren’t weekends when you’re self-employed!

So, today, I will be editing and starting the new story. As well, I’m behind on the #100daychallenge, which is an art challenge I take on every year to get my creative juices going. I’ve been posting my paintings online, which is nerve-wracking because some of them look rushed and slapped together, but some of them…? I really like this one. I think it will earn a frame. 🙂

And I still have to promo Hardman, which is my latest release if you didn’t already know. It’s a fun, action-packed story with two very deserving-of-each-other characters. The story was a joy to write because my heroine is a “prickly pear” of a woman. Only Hardman can see her soft inner self, which is as it should be when he’s her perfect match…

Is your weekend book boyfriend Pierce Hardman?

Remember, the book is out there now!

Click on cover to get your copy now!

Today’s Contest

For a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card, tell me what your weekend looks like!

Open Contests

Enter while you still can…

  1. Melanie Jayne: The Sad Song Playlist (Contest)Ends tomorrow! Win a FREE book!
  2. Because we all need a dreamboat… (Puzzle Contest)Ends soon! Win an Amazon gift card!
  3. 2nd Shot! And Open Contests! (And New Contest) — Win a FREE book!
  4. Definitions of Me: Lazy, Indolent, Slothful, Work-shy… (Puzzle Contest) — Win a FREE book!
  5. Michal Scott: The Pleasant Surprise of Florence Price (Contest & Excerpt) — Win an Amazon gift card!
A. Catherine Noon: Why Weave?
Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

I probably don’t have to tell you that there’s a pandemic going on, particularly if you live here in the States. Our response has been lackluster and has caused trauma for countless thousands of people here – families directly affected, communities shuttered, jobs lost, and a constant barrage of bad news. It makes it hard to write. Sometimes, it makes it hard to do anything creative.

I don’t have any big solutions. I’m not sure there ARE any right this second. What I can say, is that, sometimes, when we can’t solve something, we have to think outside the box about how to sit with the discomfort and dark emotions we’re feeling. Avoiding them isn’t helpful. There’s a saying in trauma recovery: there are two traumas – the initial event, and what we do with it. And that latter point can make all the difference.

If you’re feeling that you or someone you care about has had a negative outcome from trauma, whether from coronavirus or some other cause, there is help. Seek out a licensed mental health counselor and get treatment. Psychology Today has a great therapist finder, here.

One solution that is highly effective for people experiencing Post Traumatic Stress is mindfulness. It seems like it’s everywhere now – meditation courses, articles, advertisements for apps. But mindfulness is more than just sitting still and counting your breaths (though that is immensely helpful all by itself). It’s about being totally engaged in the present moment, focused on whatever’s immediately at hand. And weavers have known this for centuries.

Getting into weaving isn’t difficult and doesn’t need to be expensive. Yes, purchasing yourself a countermarch loom will set you back multiple thousands of dollars. But that’s not a beginner’s loom, not by a long shot. There are very affordable rigid heddle looms available and a growing body of books and online courses regarding how to make some really cool stuff with them.

But my favorite for when I’m too stressed to even count, let alone work on a larger loom, is the pin loom.


Popular in the 1920s clear up to the 1940s, pin looms are generally small. This one is a modern version called a Zoom Loom, made by Schacht Spindle Company. They create a fully finished piece of fabric, in this case four inches by four inches. These squares can be pieced together in countless ways – like quilting, for example, or to make clothing such as shawls, jackets, and sweaters; purses; and even little plush toys.

I inherited two pin looms from my mother when she died. I don’t recall ever seeing her use them, but I went through a very intense period after a cross-country move and started to play with them. I found a group online that focused solely on pin loom weaving (which is different than potholder looms, those plastic toys we played with as children and that have had a resurgence probably for similar reasons as the Zoom Loom).

I find it calming because to weave a basic square requires no counting or extra concentration. If you want to make textured patterns it’s absolutely possible, but that does require extra focus. And sometimes, I just can’t bring myself to focus that hard. It’s like my brain is overwhelmed from other outside events, and it’s enough to just wind the yarn onto the loom and to weave a little square.

And sometimes, it’s by weaving ourselves back together using simple tools like this that we begin our own process of healing. Trauma is intense. Healing is possible.

I am making the Fox Purse from a book called Zoo Crew, by Deborah Bagley. Check it out, there are some seriously cute projects in there.

About the Author

A. Catherine Noon is a bestselling author, writing instructor, and creative entrepreneur based in Bellevue, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not writing, she’s weaving; and when she’s not weaving, she’s knitting. And when none of that happens, she likes to blog. Join her all month for “Self-Care September” – a blog series dedicated to using creative tools to solve the quarantine blues. | | |


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