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: