One of the things I love about Etsy is always stumbling across great finds! While the weather is decidedly dreary at the moment, here are some things to brighten up what’s been a rather cloudy, blustery Friday:

1. Just came across this adorable green bow bag when I clicked onto a bag treasury. How perfect is this? It makes me want to actually get out of my PJ’s and go somewhere…almost πŸ™‚

2. How about this gorgeous garden collage necklace? I love the way everything seems to come together even if it wasn’t initially made for that purpose. Upcycling rules!

3. Check out these sweetly upcycled ankle boots from DivineRagz. Off for a jaunt in the forest now, with that green bag!

4. Dandy up your patio with these mood-setting mason jar solar lights . Moonlight dinner on the patio anyone? If it ever stops raining that is…

5. Add some flutter to your step with these fun butterfly hairclips . In another life they were old magazines!

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Ok, ok…long hiatus from the blog, BUT, my dissertation is in!!!! And now I get to spend a bit more time on craftiness without feeling guilty. So, last time I left off with a post about wedding season, and I promise I have more to say, but for now I just want to share some of my favorite springtime Etsy picks because there is oh so much beautiful springtime craftiness going on.

(Pause typing for sweetly meowing kitten who needs some lap-time cuddles. Kitten on lap, resume typing :)).

So, here are a few of my recent favs:

1. These sweet crocheted wrist cuffs are just begging for a spring tea party or something equally romantic in the warmer weather!

2. This wonderful vintage garden frock would look lovely with the cuffs!

3. Make your rooms bloom with these daffodil light switch plates made from recycled plates. Cute!

4. Add some more wearable art with this reclaimed cotton peony brooch — I love peonies. And daffodils. And ranunculus. I suppose this list never ends really…

5. And finally, you can’t do without this Peter Rabbit purse ! It’s been upcycled from a vintage copy of Beatrix Potter’s classic tale. I adore this green cover πŸ™‚

I think we’re starting to get into wedding season. I’m never really sure though – it seems like people get married all year round nowadays, but maybe there are still seasonal times to tie the knot. Does anyone really know?

Anywhooo, I think weddings are a perfect topic to address in the context of upcycling, eco-friendliness, and budget-friendliness. When P and I got hitched, we were pretty proud after the clean up cause we only had 1 bag o’ trash for 40+ people. If you’re looking for some ways to green up your day, check out these tips.

We also did everything for less than the cost of most wedding dresses (YIKES)! According to the president of the Association for Wedding Professionals International, US weddings average $21 to $24,000. That’s more than my graduate stipend…GULP.

My take is that you really have 2 options here:

Pay the money for someone else to take care of things for you OR rein in some of that DIY spirit and get to work!

I chose the latter when it came to my dress (a $40 vintage beauty I bought on Etsy and upcycled!!), plus there are a few more brilliant ideas floating around out there that crafty guys and gals should totally check out.

Here are some neat crafty ideas to inspire for your wedding flowers ‘n things. Fun bouquets, boutonnieres, and corsages made from everything BUT fresh flowers are all the rage right now.

Check out some cool options like this tutorial for making amazing folded paper flowers for a very DIY bouquet!

Be inspired by some of these handcrafted eco-conscious bouquets, like this sweet pink and green bit from Hundreds of Buttons, or this chic paper flower bouquet made from re-purposed magazines!

For all your suits, how about these classy black and white button boutonnieres?

Don’t forget about Moms and Grandmas! Make them feel special with these cool paper rose corsages or (shameless plug), these upcycled flower corsages
by Yours Truly! These make great gifts and they can be re-used for other special events because they are everlasting blooms.

Here’s to DIY wedding inspiration! Stay tuned for more possibilities… πŸ™‚

There are so many cool and crafty people out there making neat eco friendly things that I’d like to take some time to appreciate what they are doing to make the world a little greener. Here are a few of my favorite picks for the month of February:

Check out these adorable clutches from Elegant Green — a mother-daughter team that uses upcycled fabrics like old blouses and pillow shams to make their wares. Cute!!

Or how about these awesome bottle glasses made by bottle crop. In an earlier life they were blue sky vodka bottles, and now they are totally cool kitchenware for you!

Need something comfy to tide you over until spring? Snuggle up in this beautiful butterfly coat made from recycled sweaters , so you’re ready to dash out the door whenever the snow finally melts (I wish, I wish, I wish!!).

Finally, my last favorite pick at the moment: Get your garden tools ready and add a little upcycled whimsy this year with these hand-stamped garden markers made out of vintage silver spoons, by Vintage Garden. (LOVE these!!).

What are your February Favorites? πŸ™‚

So as you know, my mission for the next year is to explore the terrain of eco-possibilities in crafting! I am slowly realizing all of the different things that can go into this (supplies, packaging, shipping, gifting, etc, etc). For this post I’m going to focus on beads and sparkly bits that make for oh-so-pretty craftiness.

Where do our beads ‘n things come from and how can we make sure we are sourcing them fairly and sustainably? I know that I use a lot of beads and crystals and other accents when I craft, so this can be a major aspect of crafting to think about in terms of eco-options and human/animal friendliness. I imagine that a lot of beads can be sourced back to factories that don’t have fair or quality working conditions for laborers and companies that don’t necessarily have eco-friendly policies. So what is a crafter to do? Here are a few tips for making your craft-habit a bit more green and friendly:

1. Hunt through the thriftstore for great vintage finds or use items that have been salvaged from vintage treasures, like these great finds from Etsy supply sellers:

Beautiful golden freshwater pearls salvaged from vintage jewelry.

Amazing pistachio vintage beads salvaged from a broken necklace. These make me hungry!

An awesome butterfly pendant reclaimed for a second life. There are some really great possibilities through salvaging!!

2. Find a crafting supplier that makes or upcycles their own beads or other pretties, like this delicious beach seaglass (these make me think of spring jellybeans…), or these funky rolled paper beads. I’m pretty sure the paper beads I made in Girl sScouts forever ago did NOT look this cool!

3. Try your own hand at making beads.

See here for a great tutorial on making beads from plastic bottles. Ok, that’s pretty ingenious…

This blogpost by Blisstree has all sorts of neat-o links for DIY bead-making.

Finally, if you’re brave or more experienced (and a grown-up!!!), there are also tutorials on making your own glass beads. P would NOT like this – he gets very nervous when my crafting involves fire…or blowtorches…

Happy eco-crafting! I’m waiting for all my salvaged treasures to come in the mail :).

OK, V-Day is just around the corner! I know, I know, I wrote my last post about it too, but I figured there were so many fun things out there that I needed another place to showcase them!

Now I’m not really a gift-inclined Valentine person (note the avocado in previous post), but some of these crafty things are begging to have a reason for gifting. Need some sweet eco-friendly ideas for your Valentine? Check out a few of these babies:

Score some points with this lovebird necklace (made out of vintage recycled metal!!).

Snuggle up some love with Carson , the eco-friendly pogo pal made out of repurposed wool. Ok, SO cute! What exactly is a pogo?

Pretty up your house with this Sugar and Spice Valentine banner made out of vintage and upcycled fabrics! I’m starting to adore all of these things that can hang around my house…Yes, it’s a problem. πŸ™‚

Gratuitous plug for my own V-day craftiness (!)…check out my little wool heart pins upcycled from a felted wool sweater that was left in very sad shape at the thriftstore:

http://www.etsy.com/listing/66114863/my-little-wool-heart-pin-green-and-blue

 

Finally, for all you people who will boringly propose to your guy or gal on Valentine’s Day (yes, you know who you are) at least liven things up with something like…

A cool ring made from an antique spoon !

Or a steampunk ring made out of a vintage mechanical watch (neat-o!!).

So…maybe try to be a little sweeter to the earth this year on V-Day without having to be less sweet to your Valentine :).

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Yet another major consumer holiday!! I’m not particularly attached to V-day, but there is something nice about all the sweet little heart shaped thing-a-ma-bobs that show up around this time of year. So, I want to think about two interrelated things for a moment: 1) how much consumption occurs on or around V-Day, and 2) how we can do things a little bit differently.

CONSUMER-RAMA!!!
Ok, some consumption facts from Green living tips :

1. Apparently V-Day ranks #2 in global card sending (just behind Christmas) at a whopping 1 billion cards sent annually!!! (Yikes, except, of course those who a) forget (guilt, guilt, guilt) or b) decide you hate everyone too much to send a card).

2. More than 36 million heart-shaped chocolate boxes are sold annually (groan, that’s a lot of chocolate, esp so soon after the winter holiday indulgence).

3. It’s the #1 day for sending cut flowers around the country.

So…wow, V-Day has a lot involved: cards, candy, flowers, food, jewelry, the list goes on! And, in the meantime, we already know that not only does it cost a lot, but it creates a lot of waste, excess, and not-so-nice things in the process (i.e. blood diamonds? hmmm).

How can we rethink V-Day? Make it a little more sweet, a little less excessive? A little more eco-friendly, planet-friendly, human/animal-friendly?

A few years ago, P gave me an avocado and a Marzipan bar -oooh boy! Love those avocados – and they’re good for your heart. But, I guess not everyone was thinking quite so green…So, here are some alternatives:

Still planning to send cards? Try an e-card! Of course, there are those who are resistant to sending/receiving e-cards and those who don’t have e-access, like all of my grandparents. If that’s your situation, try a card made from recycled paper . This is super cute and simple!

Want to give something sweet to your sweetheart? Try these Valentine almond nougat bars from Have It Confections. Made with local, natural, and organic ingredients!

Still thinking about sending/giving flowers? Think outside the florist shop with these
sweet little recycled paper blooms .

So, go forth and spread a little V-Day love! And P, if you’re reading this, I’d really like another avocado this year… πŸ™‚

Today as I was riding the bus into campus I realized I was wearing a hat that my mother crocheted some years back, a set of mittens that my sister knitted me for the Christmas I went to Spain, and a beautiful knit scarf from an old childhood friend. Not to mention that my oversized parka was a hand me down from my grandmother’s closet.

I sat there thinking a bit about how much items we produce in the world can connect us to other people. For instance, I know that the three women who gifted me my winter apparel took the time to make something they thought I would like and to use their creative skills to put a smile on my face. I know that every time I wear that jacket, I think about my grandmother, bustling around in it, never sitting still.

The people and stories behind the items is what actually makes them something meaningful that we can appreciate. That’s why I think it’s important to take a moment (or a lifetime) and consider where all of the “things” in your life are from. Do you know who grows your food? Do you know who makes your clothes? Do you know where your dishes and lamps were made?

It seems like it’s impossible to know where everything in our lives came from. Also, part of the cool thing about our globally widening worlds is that we can share a bit of material culture back and forth with people across the ocean, but we also have to be cognizant of how our connections and consumption can make both positive and negative impacts in the world.

Part of my mission this year is to be more conscious about my crafting and gifting. I love creating beautiful and relevant items for the people in my life, but I also want to become more aware of the connections to other people that I am forging when I make my items. Where are my fabrics coming from? Who makes the beads and crystals that I like using? How can we craft in sustainable, human/animal/planet-friendly ways, that make enduring, caring connections rather than exploitative ones that might be invisible if we don’t take the time to look?

These are the questions I’m realizing more and more that I need to ask myself and other people.

This post is dedicated to crafters who:

1. love making crafts for their furball pals

2. love buying crafts for their furball pals

OR

3. have furry critter friends who like to help with craft time!

With 2 gray-striped critters running around the house, there are plenty of snuggle patches to be sewn, yarn to be braided, new catnip toys to come home, and, as P likes to say, lots of “kitten help” whenever I go into my crafting lair. Anyone else’s cats go crazy for piles of tulle and sewing patterns? Or are mine just weirdos? πŸ™‚

Regardless, if you have a critter friend in your life, you will no doubt come across something crafty for pets that’s just begging to come home with you! So, without further adieu, here are someΒ  sweet (and eco/budget friendly) ideas for that special furry someone in your life:

Use up some of your fabric scraps to make a toss toy or something else fun-filled (i.e. catnip filled) to chew on!

Make a ready-to-travel snuggle patch out of an old suitcase

OR a packing crate !

These look WAY comfy, even though my cats will sleep on just about anything. Little Roo is really partial to napping on paper…

Fancy up your furry friend with one of these upcycled flower collars !

It’s possible that my two gray-striped little things USED to have the sweetest little black and white bell collars, but they were frequently removed during the night by collar bandits…

And, for the grande finale…what’s cuter than a little pup with monkey ears? I’m impressed that this picture was taken on an actual puppy! πŸ™‚

http://www.etsy.com/listing/61623140/monkey-pup-hat

I will admit, for all the “kitten-help” I get, on days when they’re too snoozy I do miss them plowing through my craft piles and trying to eat my thread. In fact, here comes my Boo-boo now, demanding to be let on my lap πŸ™‚

If you sew or are crafty in any way then you probably end up with LOADS of scraps lying around staring at you. I have bags and bags and bags of scraps sitting around waiting for some inspiring use. I just discovered a bag recently that I haven’t opened since P and I moved in together (unusual for me since I love opening all of my boxes after moving – it’s like Christmas!!!).

I always keep my scraps because they just seem so useful! But…you know you have a problem when half your fabric supplies are itty bitty scraps. So what can you do? Well, my first thought with super small scraps is to use them as stuffing for other projects. I recently stuffed a small pillow for the chair in my office.

*WARNING: this is not the best idea unless you are fond of lumpy and slightly weird pillows…

If you are not fond of lumpy, weird pillows and other lumpy things, what else is a girl to do?

Well, if you have time, patience, and skill, there seem to plenty of ideas out there. Or if you know someone else who has time, patience, and skill, donate your scraps to them! Here are some of my favorites that I am SO doing…right after I finish writing my lecture and revising that dissertation chapter…

You can use your little bitty scraps and make them into cute embellishments to jazz up your throw pillows .

Or make a whole pillow cover piecing together larger scraps, like this sweet vintage scrap one.

You can turn them into little fabric flowers, and put them on EVERYTHING!!! Well, maybe not everything, P might not be so pleased with that idea…

You can turn them into something like this super cute wreath to fill your house with a bit of cheer all year round (LOVE this!).

Or zip them up into a sweet patchwork bag.

Got any more fun ideas for little scraps and big scraps and scraps of every color? Let me know! Or, I can always fill the world with lumpy weird pillows…:)

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