Meet Kari Way

This month I interviewed Kari Way, a trained vocalist and world traveler. When she’s not helping to run the family business, she is traveling the world for business and pleasure. She loves exploring other cultures and connecting with people across the globe. On Sundays she sings as the lead female vocalist on the worship team. She also enjoys inductive Bible studies, gardening, and making her own tea blends with loose tea she collects on her travels.

Tune in here Saturday for our audio interview on creativity.


The most magical month is almost here! For December our Word is and our creative focus is Music. We’ll explore creative expression through music. Here’s what’s on the docket:

Audio interview with vocalist and world traveler Kari Way

Spotlights on an elementary music teacher, a piano teacher and composer, and a male vocalist

A list of my top favorite musical artists and songs


Christmas Gifts

This month some fabulous hand-crafters and their businesses were Spotlighted here. So much creativity! My hope in featuring these entrepreneurs this month is that they would give you some great ideas for Christmas gifts. Please consider supporting these creative businesses by purchasing a special hand-crafted gift for a loved one. Here’s the list:

Quills For You by Jayden Yamamoto:


Little Cloudfetti by Amber Lundberg:  Etsy shop Little Cloudfetti IG: @littlecloudfetti 


Aly & Noe by Christie Dunlop: Instagram @christiedunlop


Lathing by Nathan Burtnett:


Faithful Friends Dolls by Trudy Toering: Etsy Shop: Faithful Friends Dolls


Fresh Coat by Christy Rice & Abby Palmer:  IG @fresh.coat


Julie Ryver Designs by Julie Ryver: IG @julieryverdesigns FB Julie Ryver Designs

SPOTLIGHT: Trudy Toering

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Age: 66

Business: hand-sewn dolls

Info: Etsy Saithful Friends Dollshop: F

Facebook: Faithful Friends Dolls



When did you decide to start your Etsy shop?

First, I have always loved dolls. I am the oldest of five and would get dolls from thrift shops, clean them up, and redress them for my younger sisters. In my 20s I started making cloth dolls. I would take them to work to show my friends and they wanted to buy them. I was thrilled that someone wanted to buy my dolls! My husband would also take them to work and sell them for me. After I retired, I got serious about making and selling them. 

I was doing a number of craft fairs yearly. I was also doing farmer’s markets weekly. Someone at one of the markets told me about Etsy. At first I opened my Etsy shop without a lot of success. My niece was starting to make items at home and also started an Etsy shop. She listed my dolls in her shop and they started selling. After awhile, I started doing my own listings again and had much better success.

What do you love most about sewing and making dolls?

What I love most is bringing dolls to life. Making the body then stuffing it and watching it turn into a real doll. I then decide on the hair color and style. Sometimes I use a doll wig that is already styled and sometimes I make my own wig from yarn. I also love making their outfits. I get to choose the fabric and style of the outfit. All my dolls are my own pattern and design. I make them in two sizes and also make boy dolls. I recently started making bunny dolls.

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SPOTLIGHT: Julie Ryver

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Age: 55

Business: Julie Ryver Designs

Facebook: Julie Ryver Designs

Instagram: @julieryverdesigns



How did you come to start your business?

Arts and crafts have always been part of my life. From 2005-2010 I had a store-front business called JR Designs–all things paper crafting. I would design and teach classes as well as sell products. Projects included scrapbooking, wall decor, and hand-made albums. In 2010 my mom passed away and the recession hit. I closed the doors and for one year I didn’t create–anything. Then one day I stumbled upon a You Tube video showing the process of mixed media, using paint, paper, stamps, inks, etc. on canvas. I certainly owned all of that from my paper crafting days, so I pulled out some supplies and started to play on canvas. A few girlfriends noticed and wanted to make their own canvas. So we set up in my dining room and it began. From there, word spread.

Typically, I teach at least one original class each month, usually holiday/season themed. Class size ranges from 10-20 people. Obviously, I have outgrown my dining room. In addition to that, I teach at local private schools and homeschool groups, company work retreats, church groups, private in-home classes, and at the Vocational Training Center. I also teach hand-lettering and calligraphy. 

What’s your favorite thing about your work?

I love the creative process, playing with color, texture, design. I love being around people–teaching allows me to connect and make new friends. And I love how each student, while given the same supplies and instruction, creates something unique. They leave with something they can be proud to place on their wall or give as a gift. 

Are there other areas in your life where you exercise creativity?

Music has always been a big part of my life–involved in singing groups since high school. Art, Bible and prayer journaling are a part of my daily routine. Also, while I wouldn’t think the two go together, I am a mad organizer–that requires creativity. It’s a balance with a business. There is the fun side of making things, and then there is all the tracking of class registration, payments, supplies, class materials, and simply finding what you’re looking for in your studio. You will always find my paints in ROYGBIV order! 🙂 

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SPOTLIGHT: Nathan Burtnett


Age: 17

Business: Lathing


How did you first get introduced to lathing?

A friend in our church was unable to use his lathe anymore so he left it to us. Another friend first taught me how to use it to make a pen. So I made some pens and made a couple of wizard wands for friends. I learned from many sources, trying to make the best product I could not only because I wanted other people to enjoy it, but because I enjoy making the best thing I can from some of God’s creation. 

What do you love most about it?

I would say there are two aspects I love about my hobby: first, that I am making a piece of beautiful wood/other material into a practical and useful object like a pen. Second, that I am overcoming challenges; whether that comes through learning the business aspect of this hobby, or whether is is difficulties with the machining process, it is not always enjoyable in the present, but it builds my skill and love for the hobby. 

Are there other areas of your life where you exercise creativity?

I work a lot with children and it makes me happy to make up games for them to laugh and play. I also love to organize my room and any other place that I spend a good amount of time in, and make it eclectic and practical. 

Any aspirations for your lathing hobby?

I hope to grow beyond just lathing, although I would still like to challenge my skill. But I would love to learn how to make many more things and tools. I hope to learn other skills similar to lathing so that I will be able to creatively solve everyday problems and needs by making things with my own hands.


SPOTLIGHT: Christie Dunlop

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Age: 34

Business: Aly & Noe

Info: Instagram @christiedunlop




How did you come to start your business of dreamcatchers and macrame?

So the fluffy reason: My sister-in-law and I were shopping in downtown Santa Barbara during Christmas and there was a local artisans pop-up shop. In the window was an incredible dreamcatcher that was full of character. We both exclaimed “we could totally make that!” which is a long-time running joke between us. We adore figuring out how to make things, and draw inspiration every time we go out together. So we bought supplies to make our own dreamcatchers. The deeper reason: I started making dreamcatchers shortly after having my daughter. She is the sweetest gift, but the pregnancy was very challenging. After she was born I was fortunate not to be hit with post-pardom depression, but I became somewhat manic. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t wind down at any point in the day, least of all at night. I threw myself into weaving and knotting. I found this to be a relaxing outlet that focused my never ending need to be “productive”. I was mama and part-time nurse, and to wind down my day I would spend my evenings wrapping and weaving and creating. It was my favorite therapy.

What do you love most about it?

Aside from the obvious therapeutic results, it is never ending in its options! No piece is the same and I have no desire to replicate them. Each one takes on its own character and reflects a different style and mood. I prefer creating wherever my inspiration takes me, but I also enjoy getting custom order requests because it allows me to be open to other’s visions and collaborate my style with theirs. It’s a great challenge.

Are there other areas of your life where you exercise creativity?

I truly don’t want this to sound self-indulgent, but I feel that nearly my entire life is creative. I can’t help but recognize that creativity oozes in every area where I am truly loving and caring for others. My career as a nurse uses creativity. Every patient I care for needs science and medicine to cure them, but there is the tangible art of nursing that requires improvising, multi-tasking, and bluntly put, a fair amount of acting to be therapeutic and effective in helping them and their families. And can I get a shout-out from other parents? I mean, hiding spinach in a smoothie for you kid is expressing creativity! Finding a way to entertain my kids in those witching hours of 4-6pm before Daddy gets home is darn near magic in the games we find to play! Creativity is such a gift and I encourage everyone to explore what sets their hearts on fire, no matter what outlet that looks like for them. 

SPOTLIGHT: Amber Lundberg

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Business: hand-made felt ornaments and garlands

Info: Etsy shop Little Cloudfetti

Instagram: @littlecloudfetti 




How did you first start making felt things and start your business?

It all started with a little cloud and raindrop mobile I made for my son’s nursery. I’ve always loved crafts, and DIY most of my decor. Then I started making the cloud mobiles for friends’ babies and eventually opened a shop. Which is where Little Cloudfetti’s name come from. And that morphed into ornament making, play donuts, and garlands.

What do you love most about it?

I love coming up with new designs or donut ‘flavors’. And flat lays! Setting up a photo for a new donut flavor is probably my favorite part of the behind scenes work.

Are there other areas of your life where you exercise creativity?

Oh for sure!  I worked in a plant nursery for 10 years before having kids. I planted, did displays, and dabbled in landscape design with a friend. I also ran a small baby quilt business with my mom for a short time before starting Little Cloudfetti. Now I stitch for my business in the “in between” moments of momming. I still enjoy gardening, gluten-free baking, DIY projects around the house. Really, if I can’t be creative in something then I’m not really excited to do it.

SPOTLIGHT: Jayden Yamamoto



Age: 17





How did you get into quilling?

On my parents’ anniversary last year I went to the Hallmark store to get a card for them. I noticed a small shelf of cards that stood out to me. Each card, intricately designed with different animals, was flat enough to slip into an envelope but still had a 3D effect. I picked out a turtle card for them as I read the back of the card. It had a few details about quilling and its history. I got interested. A few days later, I decided to try quilling for myself. I looked up a few videos and found new techniques to experiment with. Now a year later I am a self-taught quilling artist and have recently started a small business.

What do you love most about it?

I love that it’s a way to express myself artistically, although my tendencies are more mechanical. Each small coil or simple line is a part of a bigger, more intricate creation. Each piece adds to the full picture. Each creation is unique and personal, none exactly alike. One simple coil might look more vibrant and noticeable than another, or one spiral more curly than the next. Quilling gives me the opportunity to create 3D art in a way that is suited to my structural tendencies, but artistic in the eyes of others. Quilling is also versatile, allowing the artist to create not only her own desired designs, bus also personalized masterpieces for the customer to enjoy. 

Where do you get inspiration for your designs?

Everywhere! Besides seeing previous creations from fellow quilling artists on the internet, I like to imagine what pieces or designs would create joy and happiness, whether is is given as a card or hung up in a room. It is always satisfying to know what you do makes at least someone happy or a little bit brighter. Because of the few boundaries that quilling has, I can create a personalized name frame theme towards a person’s liking, or an ocean scene for the boy longing to be a scuba diver, or even a fairy tale land with a princess. The possibilities are endless.

SPOTLIGHT: Christy Rice & Abby Palmer

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Ages: 36, 37

Business: Fresh Coat


Instagram: @fresh.coat




How did you get into refurbishing furniture?

We had been refinishing pieces for our own homes for quite awhile. A fun and budget-friendly way to give our homes a brand new look. Someone nudged us to start a business selling furniture we had done. We looked at each other and laughed, brushing off the idea. Later that night, we texted each other and discovered we both were thinking of that. We made the decision that night to go for it. We went into business together as Fresh Coat.

What do you love most about it?

The feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment as we stand back and look at the finished piece after the last brush stroke of paint or wax. The satisfaction of breathing new life into an old, tired piece. The joy of making a client’s vision into reality. Painting, for us, is like therapy. It calms the nerves and helps us focus on an attainable end goal in the midst of a sometimes chaotic world. Besides, who doesn’t have a deep love for a good “before” and “after”?!

How do you use creativity in your work?

A piece of furniture is often like a blank canvas. The creative possibilities are endless. There are so many colors, textures, stains, handles, and knobs, and other options that are not limited to the piece of furniture sitting in front of you at the beginning of the process.

Are there other areas of your life where you exercise creativity?

Christy: I’m also a photographer, which allows for so much creative freedom. God has blessed me with a wonderful business. I photograph mostly families, kids, couples, and high school seniors. I’m always looking for fun and unconventional angles and lighting. I also love staging photo sets and taking photos of our Fresh Coat furniture. Music is another great creative outlet. I have played piano since I was a young child. Singing has also been a passion of mine for most of my life. I sing on the praise team at our church. Music has always been a way for me to express myself creatively, emotionally, and in praise to God.

Abby: I’ve always enjoyed putting together outfits and using my creativity to pair jewelry or shoes and try them out. I also love decorating and redecorating different spots in my home or helping a friend figure out how to arrange a room in their house. I love “playing” with splashes of color, whether it’s with clothing, arranging plants/landscaping, painting frames and other accessories, etc. I also have a bit of the party planning bug, so I enjoy organizing parties and hosting friends. Like Christy, music is also an impactful, creative outlet. 

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