{my life} :: family

when it all boils down to what's important, it's not my crafts, it's not my house, it's not my clothes or what i'm having for dinner or how far i'll run today. it's why i get up every morning and what i think about all day long. my husband, my kids, my mom & sister, my extended family, my friends that are like family, my friends that are friends.

it's people, people!

you can't take the rest with you. if it's a good day or a bad day, being able to give a hug or a kiss to my family is what makes life worth living. i have this on my fridge ::

much as i hate to admit it, God has my days arranged ahead of time. i'm not in control. but i can control how i treat others, and the choices i make every minute of every day.

so, without beating myself up about the past, i'm going to tackle this week with lots of compassion, love and tons of hugs. the girls won't like it, but i hope they'll remember their crazy mama and how she couldn't keep her hands off her kiddos because she loved them so much. who wouldn't want to hug and kiss these beauties?

have a great week, friends. do something you love. let someone you love know how much they mean to you. life is precious.

xo, anne


{my life} :: what to eat?

you're probably going to laugh at this, but i have a recurring appointment on my outlook calendar for every sunday at 3pm. every sunday at 3pm, i am reminded to plan this week's meals, make a grocery list, and print my calendar for the week. every sunday at 3pm, i want to get organized for the week, so i'm in a good place when monday morning rolls around.

now, the time & day are relatively random, but the idea is simple. take 30 minutes (or so) to get it together for the upcoming week, so you can start the week off on the right foot. you'll know what you're going to eat during the week, you only have to shop once, you've got rides covered, activities figured out and you're just going to kill it & be uber-productive!

in theory, this is fantastic. and, truly, the weeks i actually do this, i am more confident, organized, and much less scattered, harried & stressed. so, why don't i do this every week? well, life gets in the way. today is monday, and i'm going to make my list and meal plans right when i'm finished writing this post. why monday and not sunday, after that whole diatribe above?

i was here yesterday at 3pm ::

my 10 year old had two soccer games in steamboat springs, co, yesterday. gorgeous, right?! so, after my show on saturday, i unpacked my crafts, packed up the soccer gear & headed out on a 3 hour drive to possibly one of the most beautiful spots in colorado. after the games yesterday, we headed home & arrived in denver about 9pm. i was too pooped to plan my meals then. anyway, i digress.

what do i use to plan my meals, you ask? well, let me tell you. a few years ago, i stumbled upon this meal planner ::

you can get it on the project girl's blog. it is perfect for me, because i can write my meals on one side, add my shopping list on the other & have everything in one place. notice how someone wrote candy & a puppy at the top of the list? she does this every week. gotta admire her persistence!

i use a lot of recipes from martha stewart's everyday food magazine and website. they're tasty, easy & don't require a ton of ingredients. i also try to make one crockpot meal each week, usually on our busiest day, so there's something for everyone, no matter what time they make it home.

and, without further adieu, i'm off to plan my meals for the week. tell me, what are you cooking at your house?

xo, anne


{what I made} :: curb appeal.

hi, friends!

ok. this could be the easiest way to spruce up your entry way and make where you live look oh-so-cute before anyone even walks through the front door. check out this cute door mat.

i bought the mat for $2.99 at ikea. you could use something you have on hand or buy something inexpensively just about anywhere. this doesn't have a lot of pile, but i've seen pictures of really thick door mats that are painted.

your next step is to find a stencil you like. for obvious reasons, i chose the F, but you can use just about anything as your design. i was lucky enough to have my friend kristen cut out the letter from an old usps box laying around, but you can print out something from your computer and cut out with an exact-o knife or just freehand a design.

then, i just laid the stencil on the mat and used this, my go-to spray paint color. love. it's called 'eden' by rust-oleum and i use it on practically everything for {afd}!

i sprayed lightly to see how the paint would soak in. worked well, so i kept going until it was nice and dark and i couldn't really see the mat through the paint. when i took the stencil off, though, i could see where some paint made its way to the edge of the mat. that's when i decided to free-hand the border.
then, i looked at the reverse part of my stencil, the actual F. i thought i'd give that a spray & it looked really good. originally, i had the idea to glue wine corks to it to give it a 3d look, but i liked this well enough, so i stopped there. 

i have the blue frame on my door most of the year, and try to change what's in it seasonally. i just punched a hole through the cardboard, put some twine through, and tied it to the frame. easy. this was perfect, and i love how the colors work together.

and, there you have it. a quick, less than 30 minute craft that gives curb appeal a new name.

i was happy it didn't take long, because about an hour after i finished, i hosted a happy hour for 40 great gals.
here's hoping you have a happy weekend! see you next week. xo, anne


{what i love} :: helliemae's handcrafted caramels

every wednesday, I'm going to tell you about something I really love. our first installment of {wilw} will introduce you to my friend ellen, or can we just call her the queen of caramels?

i'm pretty positive that when I try to describe Helliemae's caramels, I will fail miserably. they're just that good. mix a lot of butter and cream together with some incredible flavor combos, and you've got these intense amazing treats that I'm sure people have gotten into brawls over.

Ellen Daehnick owns Helliemae's Handcrafted Caramels. she specializes in dark, rich, intense caramels - slightly bitter treats that pair well with colorado's local beers & spirits. her background certainly doesn't scream food business. before Helliemae's, her only experience was waiting tables at an all-night diner as a teenager.

after an MBA and time as a consultant and in the tech industry, a nudge from her husband got her to launch Helliemae's in 2010. Right at the intersection of food and craft, Helliemae's products are made by hand in tiny batches, using the best ingredients, including organic butter and cream. the yummies are packaged in recyclable, compostable hand-stamped boxes, and wrapped in either wax paper or cellophane.

Year-round, Helliemae's makes four varieties: Classic Salt, Cardamom, Coffee, and Chili Palmer, as well as salted caramel sauce and other confections. And, Helliemae's offers limited-edition caramels tied to the seasons. Right now, Apple is available until 10/31, and Candy Cane returns 11/1.

Why "Helliemae"? Growing up in the Houston in the 70s and 80s, it seemed like Beverly Hillbillies reruns were on all the time (at least when the UHF channels weren't showing The Jeffersons), and people would call Ellen "Ellie Mae", which she didn't love. But put an H on the front, and it just seems right: a handcrafted sensibility that draws from the past, with a touch of post-punk DIY.

here's how to find ellen ::

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/helliemaes
Twitter: http://twitter.com/helliemaes

check in with her. you'll be glad you did!

now tell me, friends, what do you love this wednesday?

xo, anne


{my life} :: show pics

my life monday posts will be a hodge podge of ideas, because, well, my life is a hodge podge! these posts will be a bit of this and that. make sure to subscribe to my posts, so you don't miss anything important, or fun!

since I started {afd} two years ago, I spend a lot of my weekends peddling my wares at artisan sales and shows in the Denver area. this weekend was no exception.

my partner in crafting crime, lexis from LexisWorks, and i were at the ridge at 38 event in wheat ridge, co, helping the city planners launch a rejuvenation of a great street with cute shops and fun restaurants.

other than the fact that my tent leg snapped in two (thankfully at the end of the day), we created a great shopping space on a gorgeous day!

enjoy some snaps of our booth, and have a wonderful Monday! if you have time, leave a comment & tell me what you were up to this weekend. xo, anne


{what i made} :: bloom OR close call :: almost a craft fail

happy friday, friends!

well, here goes my first kind-of tutorial/almost craft fail. let's see how i do. i'm sure you've seen all the really cool canvas projects that have been floating around pinterest. this project really struck me ::

you take a canvas, mod podge a background to it, & stick some letter stickers on. then you paint over the whole thing & when it's dry, peel the stickers off to reveal the background.

it's really that simple. so, i tried one. my kids tried one. they all were totally different, completely cool & they all worked. next things you know, i'm hosting workshops in my denver studio. so cool. i know everyone walked away happy with their new piece of wall art. {i'll show you some of these pieces in a future blog post}

anyway, i digress. the other day, when i was at the thrift store, i ran across this cool piece of art.

it's hard to see, but the frame, so to speak, was made of linen tape of some kind. it definitely was vintage. i loved the colors and thought it would make a cool canvas. for $5.99, i thought i'd give it a go. plus it saved me the somewhat time consuming step of creating my own background on the canvas.

once i got my lovely.little.piece. home, i noticed how dingy and stained the canvas frame thingy was. never fear...bleach to the rescue!

  i just dabbed full strength bleach on the canvas tape with a terry cloth towel and all the stains were gone! 

so, on to the fun part. (this is where you join along & start to make your own)

first, the letters. i bought mine at michael's. these are 3" tall, but they have a variety of sizes and fonts. if i were using a longer quote or phrase, i'd go with the 2" letters.

make sure your letters cover up the part of the art that you want to see at the end. the letters are literally protecting the art from the paint. well, they're supposed to. more on that in a bit.

i forgot to take a picture, but i also added a little scallop trip at the bottom cut from a vintage dictionary page. you can barely see it on the finished product.

next, the paint. i chose turquoise. just a plain ol' acrylic paint from michael's. (good thing there's one just blocks from my house!). i used a foam brush from you-know-where and painted it til i thought it was thick enough. i used a dry brush.

when i taught the workshop at my studio, people experimented with a wet brush, a dry brush, squirting the paint directly on the canvas, using a light hand, using a heavy hand. you get the picture. this project is yours, and you really can't mess it up. a great comfort to the perfectionist in all of us!

i waited a few minutes for the paint to dry, then peeled off the letters, expecting to see crisp clean lines, the bright colors of the flowers underneath and pretty much, a finished product. instead, here's the reveal ::

it's not pretty, but here's a closer look ::

you can see the lines from the stickers, but somehow the paint seeped underneath. yikes! now what? a couple of years ago, i would have trashed the whole project. but, what fun is that?! you still could see the floral background, and after a few minutes, i decided that the uneven lines looked kind of cool and gave the piece some character. so, what to do next?

i looked around my studio and decided that i could make my own definition. with what, you ask? just a plain black sharpie! yay! look how defined the letters are now. all i did was outline around the sticker indentations. much better!

done, right? wrong. i thought my 'bloom' looked a bit lonely in that sea of bright blue. so, i looked around again & found my favorite vintage dictionary and ripped out a page. if i liked my freehand lettering style, i would have just used my sharpie & written out the rest of my saying. but i don't. so i stuck the dictionary page in my printer, found a font i loved, typed the words in microsoft word, and hit print. then, i cut them out and mod podged them right on top of the paint.

i took the picture while the podge was still wet but trust me, it dries clear. oh yes, the garland at the top. i just added that on a whim, because i thought the whole thing looked a bit unbalanced with all that blue at the top. and if my photo was centered, you'd see a little dab of blue paint on my wonderfully white frame (you can actually see it in the all blue picture above). wait til you see what i did to cover that boo boo.

i podged a flower right over it. kind of goes with the theme, i think.

and, that's all there is to it. here's the finished product ::

i'm quite happy with the finished result, even though disaster loomed a few times while i was crafting! if you try your hand at this quick, fun craft, please post a photo of your finished product. i'd love to see what you've been up to. and, if nothing else, know that if things don't always go your way, just drink that lemonade!

have a fantastic weekend! see you next week.

xo, anne


update on {flowers for aurora}

hello & happy wednesday!

some of you may be wondering what's the latest on the {afd} project we launched last month, where we were selling these beautiful necklaces we dubbed {flowers for aurora}. for each necklace purchased, {afd} promised that half of the purchase price of $15 ($7.50 each in case you're math-challenged like me) would be donated to givingfirst.org, and specifically to benefit the victims and families of the aurora theater shooting that happened on july 20.

the great news is that we sold 75 necklaces! i am so thrilled and beyond grateful that we have collected over $550 to donate to this worthy cause.

well now you might be asking, "well, why hasn't she gone ahead & donated the funds?" great question! if you live in denver, you've probably heard on the news that the families of the victims have not been 100% happy with the community first foundation's disbursement of the funds. the families have asked to be involved in some of the decision making of how the funds are spent/given, and to my knowledge that dialogue is happening.

so, we're going to keep our money safe & sound, 100% earmarked to help the victims of the shooting and their families, and when we get the all-clear that the families are getting the money when and how they need it, and the money is being spent responsibly, we'll head on over & donate the whole shebang.

i feel it's important to wait until the misunderstandings have been cleared up. i don't want YOUR money to go toward administrative or other costs not related to this tragedy. i think you'd agree. or at least, i hope you do.

here's the final tally. the {afd} community is absolutely incredible, and i'm so grateful to be able to work every single day at what i love and meet and get to know all of you!

 thank you again, from the bottom of my heart for your incredible generosity. i'll let you know as soon as the money is donated.

xo, anne


{ flowers for aurora }

{flowers for aurora}
flowers for aurora necklaces, available in 10 colors, $15 each at www.annefranklindesigns.com

i woke up on july 20th and it was the last straw for me. after an on-duty police officer (and a single mom) was shot and killed during a jazz concert in a denver park, after so many devastating wildfires that burned so many homes in colorado, after more-than-usual summer violence, we woke up on the morning of the 20th to learn of the worst shooting in history at the aurora movie theater just miles from my home.

i felt like i had stood by and watched the horrible events as they occurred earlier in the summer, and the helpless feeling of knowing i really couldn't do much to help the victims of these tragedies was too much. the next day, on a run (where i come up with most of my ideas), i knew i had to do SOMETHING. even if it wasn't much. and with that, the {flowers for aurora} initiative was born!

it's simple. during the month of august, {afd} will keep 50% from the sale of each {flowers for aurora} necklace ($7.50 per necklace) and on september 1st, we'll donate to givingfirst.org, which is a colorado-based community foundation whose mission is to improve quality of life by increasing community generosity and involvement. our donation will benefit the aurora shooting victims, and the groups and organizations directly affected by this tragedy.

our goal is to sell 100 necklaces by the end of august, so we can donate $750! and you can help. head over to our website, and purchase one (or ten) necklaces. you'll have some cute gifts on hand, and you'll be making a difference at the same time. also, PLEASE TELL YOUR FRIENDS! simply forward this post or share our facebook status with your online friends. if you spread the word to just a few people, it will make a difference.

please and thank you.


{insight...and, our winner}

hello, again!

as i've been thinking about this blog, why i'm writing it, and what you might want to read about, i've come to the conclusion that i'll give you a snapshot in to my life :: how i juggle my schedule with three kids, a husband who travels, running my own business, what i do to {try to} stay balanced. now, i'm the first one to admit that my life is NOT that exciting. i'm sure each of you could write a similar blog.

over the past year, as i have struggled with what to write, i needed to define why i wanted to write, so that my time, and yours, would be well spent. i know that writing my blog will be as much for me as it will be for you. so, once a week, i'll give you something. a picture of a craft or my latest product i'm developing for {afd}. a way i stay organized. a recipe. something beautiful i saw. who knows. what i do hope is that you'll stick with me, offer me feedback, ask questions. after all, it's all about engaging.

yesterday, our family celebrated easter. i hope you celebrated something, anything, this weekend. there's a lot to be grateful for! for me, family is what it's all about. you can't take the rest with you. 

what's most important

recently, i made the seemingly monumental decision to move {afd} into a real studio workspace. partly, it was because our small house was being overrun with my crafting supplies. i didn't have a craft room, so every room became a craft room. i often joked that michael's and joann's threw up inside our house. the clutter was beginning to paralyze me. 

but, really, what made my decision to move was that i wasn't present for my family. instead of relishing the time i had with my kids to talk, reflect, laugh and break up fights, i was constantly checking my email, tweeting from my phone, or sitting down to try something at the sewing machine. when your 10-year-old says, "mom, you're always on your phone. you don't listen to what i'm saying," i stopped. i listened. i felt guilty. then i got the heck out of dodge. or, at least, i separated my business life from my home life.

and now that i have rent to pay each month, i'm more motivated than ever to make {afd} a go! but, that's another story for another day.

i've made you wait too long for our winner. last week, i shared a wonderful line of pendants that are a collaboration between lexiworks and myself. we call our line 'lovely.' and it truly is.

all you had to do to enter was leave a comment at the end of last week's post. and, 32 of you did! random.org helped me to choose comment number 3 . congratulations annemarie ! you win the lovely.collage.necklace. of your choice. email me by 8am tomorrow and tell me which one you choose! and, thanks to all of you for entering, reading, and being part of our growing community.

have a fantastic week! xo. anne 


{ giveaway }

why, hello!

it's been quite a while since i've posted here, so we're kicking off the re-launch of the {afd} blog with a fantastic giveaway.

lovely. a new line of jewelry from {afd} and Lexisworks

 if you're part of our facebook community, you'll know that we've teamed with denver artist Lexis Krieg, of Lexisworks, to create an amazing line of six gorgeous pendant necklaces. taking her beautiful, original mixed-media collage art, we've collaborated to make these great gifts, which come ready to give in a cute metal tin. 

the artwork is mounted on a vintage style copper colored backing and finished with a lovely copper chain. trust us, it will complement absolutely anything you've got hanging in your closet!

each necklace comes ready to give, packaged in a metal tin.

the line is simply called 'lovely.' and these designs are available for sale on our website, {anne franklin designs}, for $25 through april. from may until we launch our next six pieces, the cost will be $32.

live the life you imagined.

however, because you're here reading this, and because you're part of the amazing {afd} community, we want to give you an opportunity to win the lovely.little.piece. of your choice!

joy. collaged owl pendant.

all you have to do is visit our websitetake a peek at the new pendants, decide which one you can't live without, and leave a comment at the end of this post telling us which is your favorite. that's it!

find your adventure.

we will select our winner with the help from random.org next monday, april 9 at 8am MST. make sure your comment has a way for us to contact you if you're the lucky winner!

have a fantastic week. and, please, continue to tell your friends about {afd} and this lovely.little.giveaway.

xo. anne