Saturday, November 3, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Leah from Crunchy Farm Baby

Let's all take a moment to get to know Leah of Crunchy Farm Baby on Etsy.  Her shop features adorable and functional upcycled items for children and grown-ups alike.  I've personally had my eye on one of the latest editions to her shop, crocheted reusable dust/mop covers for Swiffer mops.  She also makes beautiful clothing items and toys for the littlest members of your family.  Be sure to check out all the links at the close of this post.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I live with my husband, one year old son, and a menagerie of four dogs, two cats, two ducks, and eleven chickens on a small farm in South Pennsylvania.  My husband and I are both teachers, although I am currently a stay-at-home-mom. My Etsy shop, Crunchy Farm Baby, is a place for me to share some of my favorite homemade items that I've made for my son.  I also blog at, where I share ecofriendly tips and tricks.

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
I grew up in a family where we didn't throw things away if they had any use left in them, and that's carried over into the way I raise my family now.  Just because a shirt can't be worn as a shirt anymore doesn't mean that it can't be a doll, or a baby hat, or even rags for the kitchen!  It's such a good feeling to be able to use something for more than just its intended purpose.

What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
I love working with old sweaters.  Where most people see tattered and torn rags, I see baby pants, monsters, jingle balls, and so much more!

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
The biggest challenge for me has been realizing that you just can't have two items that are exactly the same.  When you're working with upcycled materials, you have to understand that there's going to be variations in each masterpiece that you create.  I love the uniqueness of each piece when it's finished, but it can be frustrating at times when working with it.

What is your current favorite upcycled item you have created?
I think I'd have to say that my baby sun hats are probably my favorite.  It might just be that my son models them so well, though!  Haha!


Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials:
Use your imagination!  Almost anything can be repurposed into something else.  It doesn't even have to be something super crafty.  Old yogurt containers are great for planting seedlings in the Spring for example.  Just don't be quick to toss something that could find another life!

Leah can be found online in the following locations:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Seasonal Fun!

When walking into any grocery store these days, you will easily find all you need for a fun, sensory/fine motor experience for your little ones.

Today we will be working with dried corn on the cob that is often used for decoration this time of year.  Along with the corn, you will need a small tub and some plastic cups or other form of small containers.

Begin by simply allowing your children to explore the corn.  With a little prompting from you, they will discover that the individual kernels of corn can be popped off quite easily. 

This task supports fine motor development in young children.  Sean was very devoted to removing each and every kernel from the cob. 

Once your children have liberated a good amount of kernels from the cob, you may introduce the plastic cups.  At this point it's great to simply stand back and let them figure out what to do. 

Isabel quickly discovered that the kernels made a tapping/rattling noise when they dropped into the cup.  She carefully began shaking the cup to make music.  For children not as careful as Isabel, closed containers may be beneficial for shaking opportunities.  Sean enjoyed the sound the kernels made as he dumped them from his cup into the larger tub.

This activity provides such a rich sensory experience, touching and feeling the corn, smelling the corn cobs and hearing them tap, tap against the plastic cups and container.

Unfortunately Isabel and Sean also felt the need to give this corn a taste too!  They quickly decided that it was not for them.  Isabel then discovered a new challenge: spitting the kernels into the cup.  She had great aim!

Take advantage of nature's bounty this autumn and introduce your children to this fun sensory experience.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Bring the Outdoors in: Leaf Prints

It's time to go collecting again!  For this month's activities, we will be taking advantage of the beautiful fall foliage.  To complete this activity you will need: leaves, paper, a flat working surface, tape and crayons with the papers removed.

Hand your children their collecting baskets and ask them to collect as many leaves as they would like.  Encourage them to notice the new colors of the leaves and the variety of shapes and sizes.

Once you are satisfied with your leaf collection, head indoors for this simple art activity.

If you are working with children under the age of 3 start by selecting a couple leaves and taping them to your work space.  Older children will be able to keep the leaves in place on their own.

Tape a piece of paper or two down on top of your leaves.  Now that your station is set up, invite your children to join you.

Demonstrate to your child hold to hold the crayon sideways to rub over the leaf.

Once complete, you will get a print that looks something like this!  They are great for framing and using for festive fall decoration about your home.

 Before or after completing this activity, here are a few great books about leaves and fall that you can read with your children:

Fall Leaves Fall

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf

Look What I Did With a Leaf
(This book has some other great leaf activity ideas!)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Kellie from The Indigo Forest

Let's all take a moment to welcome Kellie from The Indigo Forest on Etsy.  Her shop features beautiful items for children, parents and even a few things for your family pet!  I've sampled some wool dryer balls from her shop and have even converted my non-ecofriendly husband over to using them with some essential oils.  Be sure to check out the links at the close of this post to find Kellie online.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
My name is Kellie and I am the owner of The Indigo Forest on Etsy. I live in beautifully lush, central North Carolina with my husband, two little boys with another little one on the way!

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
Simply knowing that you can make something new out of something that someone else had discarded is inspiration enough for me. The possibilities are endless! I try to see something new in every bit of recycled material I find.

What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
My favorite upcycled medium definitely has to be wool. There are just so many different kinds of wool out there! For example, some are very soft - those types are great for stuffed toys for children.

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
Hmmm…I would have to say that finding my favorite material, wool, can be hard at times. Usually it’s only to be found during the colder months in my local thrift store.

What is your current favorite upcycled item you have created?
When I used cloth diapers for my children, my homemade wool longies were my favorite thing I’ve created to use! They work wonders with cloth diapers and they double as pants. You just can’t beat that.

Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials:
The best tip I can suggest is to check out your local thrift stores/garage sale/yard sales/etc.. I am very fortunate to have a truly amazing thrift store in my town. (one that I visit very often!)

Kellie can be found online in the following locations:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Bring the Outdoors in: Herb Potpourri

With our trusty collection baskets in hand, Isabel, Sean and I headed for our herb garden to collect the makings for an herbal potpourri!  Items needed: collecting basket, herb garden, small containers for potpourri.  Old baby food jars work great and are the perfect size for little hands.

Isabel and Sean got right to work picking as many herbs as they could.

They paused frequently the give the herbs a sniff.  As your child is taking time to, "Stop and smell the roses", be sure that you are identifying each individual herb they are smelling.  Thus extending their learning experience and expanding their vocabulary.

Once a suitable amount of herbs have been collected, it is time to head to your indoor work space.  There really is no recipe for this potpourri.  You can use whatever herbs you have on hand.  Hardy perennial herbs do work best though: Thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano, or lavender for example.

Encourage your children to begin tearing the herbs into small pieces to place into your potpourri containers.  We didn't have any baby food jars on hand, but really any small beautiful container will do.  Be sure to carefully supervise young children if using glass or ceramic containers.  This is an opportunity to help them learn about using gentle hands and treating fragile items carefully.

Isabel giving her completed potpourri, a final sniff test.

Once your potpourri is complete, find it a home in your kitchen, dinning room or bathroom.  It will add a beautiful scent to any space.  Guests arriving to your home will imagine you must be cooking up something tasty.  Once the potpourri seems to be losing its muster, simply pick a few more herbs to add in.

Christine can be found online in the following locations: Facebook, Blogger and her Etsy shop:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Michelle from Kissing Bunnies

Let's take a moment to welcome Michelle from the etsy shop Kissing Bunnies.  She creates a wide range of items for both children and grown-ups.  My children are currently both the owners of cloth diapers made by Michelle that they adore.  Once you've taken some time to learn more about Michelle, her craft and her passion for upcycling, please take a moment to visit her etsy shop, facebook page and blog linked at the close of this post.
Tell us a bit about yourself. 
         I am Michelle Triplett, I am from Tenino, Washington, a town that is so small we finally became a dot on a map in 1987. The united states army uses the map of tenino to teach it's map reading course (because it has all the major land features needed in one space) Although they don't know how to pronounce Tenino, I am sure not many people would be able to off the bat. Tenino is pronounced T-9-O.  I grew up so far out in the sticks of Tenino that we did not have electricity for a good amount of years. We finally did get it later, but it was quite the experience to learn to function without electricity. We raised horses and I became a horse trainer at the age of 14. I was very good at working horses and miss it terribly. I threw my back out when I turned 30 and have been nursing the back injury ever since. So no horses for me. I needed a new career and thus I picked up sewing. I had always wanted to have those awesome show clothes they have at horse shows and decided I would learn how to make them. If I couldn't wear them anymore why not be able to make them for others to look good in. Also to make them affordable too. Those clothes get so expensive. 
          I started sewing professionally at 32 and haven't looked back. My Etsy shop is really just things I have sewn too many of and have extra of. I would like to one day own a brick and mortar shop but I see that as something a long way off. Right now I do mainly custom orders, I can sew basically anything from show clothes, to curtains at huge horse shows, to diapers for babies bottoms. I really do enjoy sewing and am glad I came in to it when I did and now have a career that I can do and stay home at the same time.
           I am also a professional sax player in a band. We play big band jazz music. I never imagined I could accomplish this but it worked out perfectly. I couldn't be more happy. Our director is the curator of the band, he has had this band since he was 14 and is now 86 and still playing lead sax with us. True inspiration there. 
           At the age of 23 I was married, in the United States Army as a Truck driver, I had twins on my first baby. One twin passed. Then I had a second daughter Alexis who passed at 2.5 months. I got out of the army, tucked my tail and came home. Trying to figure out what to do with my life then. I became a single mom when my husband found the love of another woman. I learned a lot about myself during that time. I met a man 6 years later and we now have a little boy together. We are getting married this August. He allows me to stay home, mainly because I am nursing this back issue, but also to raise our son and heal my broken soul. He really is a wonderful man. 

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
          My biggest inspiration for upcycling  materials comes in the form of a short story. 
When I was young and wanted a fort to play in we didn't have money to buy materials so I would steal a panel off the side of the barn, and hoist it up in a tree with a Y branch. Just before my parents would get home I would put the panel back and hammer it back into place with a rock. We had built a 6 stall horse barn from the trees in the pasture. So that is how I knew the panel was there and easily taken off. I guess upcycling was just second nature to me.  The best part of upcycling is you can sometimes get two birds with one stone. When we built the barn from the trees we also cleared out room for an area. So two for one.
Let's take a moment to welcome Michelle from Kissing Bunnies on Etsy.  She creates a wide range of items for both children and grown-ups.  My children each currently own a cloth diaper made by Michelle that they adore.  Once you've taken a moment to learn a little more about Michelle, her craft and her passion for upcycling, be sure to follow the links to her shop, blog and facebook page found at the close of this post.
What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
          Anything I can find that someone doesn't want. I can literally see something in the raw form and think of what it is going to look like when it is done. I was taught that skill when riding horses. We would have to judge a horse on it's potential vs it's current form. I never had a horse more than a year as I was allowed to lease nags from the pasture. This started me in the diamond in the rough point of view I have now. I had to learn to see a horse for what it might become.

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
          I honestly think the only challenge I have encountered with upcycled material is sometimes I don't have enough and I can't go get more because that is all there was. 

What is your current favorite upcycled item you have created? 
          I made a horse a blanket out of old blankets, flannel, and scraps. I don't have a picture any longer but it was super fun to make. I hand sewed it together it took me almost all summer and autumn to get it done. It was super ugly though. It was just something to keep him warm. It lasted about a day and he had it in shreds then next morning when I went out to the barn. So to say the least he didn't appreciate it nearly as much as me. 
          I once pulled a dresser out of the dumpster and turned it into a hamster cage. Two stories for each hamster, so two hamsters total, and on top was storage for all the gear they use. And built in fish tanks. It was already painted a very nice teal color and worked perfectly in our house. Someone bought it from me for $200 too. That was after two years of use. I was really suprised to be able to sell it, I would of given it away but the lady really wanted to buy it from me. 

Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials.
          Dumpster diving is not a bad thing, it can be stinky so wear a different set of clothes, but sometimes you can find the most amazing things. Also the second hand shops are wonderful places. Or if you want you can visit with an older seamstress and conn her out of some fabric she will never get around to using. Grandma's are wonderful for this. Anyone with an old time sewing machine in their house will most likely be willing to part with some beautiful fabric.

Michelle can be found online in the following locations:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Haleigh from My Little Mookie

Let's all take a moment to welcome Haleigh from My Little Mookie on Etsy.  She is also one of the many talented crafters of the etsykids team.  Her shop features adorable, customized baby, toddler and even a few grown up items.  Stop on by her shop to take a look at all the beautiful appliqued and monogrammed items she creates after learning a little more about her here.  The links to her shop and facebook page can be found at the close of this post.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a stay at home mom and wife from Plano, Texas and I am the owner of My Little Mookie, a fun and unique baby clothing and accessories company. I have an energetic 18 month old that loves to help mommy create!

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
Here at our house we recycle everything! I had purchased some Toms that came with a cute fabric bag, I thought "How can I use this in my crafts?" It all started with a necktie applique, then a guitar, then a flower headband. I love it because you would not think this would work with babies clothes...but the bags wash beautifully and become very soft over time. I have made my son several other items not listed on Etsy and have been very pleased with them. I love taking something that someone was throwing away or my selvages and giving them a new life!

What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
Old sweatshirts make for perfect backing to bibs and of course the fabric bags that come with a pair of Toms. Anything I can get my hands on really.

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
I haven't had any challenges yet, but as I expand my line of products I am sure I will run into some. One challenge that I can forsee in the future is if Toms stops giving away free bags with their shoes! I am in the process of trying to make my own onesies out of vintage t-shirts.

What is your current favorite upcycled item you have created?
I love this fabric flower headband! It was so much fun to make!

Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials.
You never know if something is going to work until you try! I waste as little as possible. I have even made my own business cards out of cardboard and fabric! 
Haleigh can be found online in the following locations:

Thanks for helping reduce waste in the world all while creating beautiful one of a kind items!