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Where do Mon-stors come from? Tacky jammies!

For today’s magical transformation, I’m sharing this funky leopard print nightgown turned radical and adorable Mon-stor! Yup, I converted this discarded nightie…

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Into this mega adorable Mon-stor toy storage bag! How cute is she?

neat laundry toy storage monster bag for kids handmade in asheville

This month, I have been hard at work turning other textile discards into cute monsters, and I am stoked to be turning my textile recycling efforts into a fun keepsake monster project launching soon, called Memory Monsters!

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I still need to make a few more prototypes from various materials (Tee shirts! Receiving blankets! Sweaters!) before I am ready to launch, plus figure out what sizes of clothing I can feasibly turn into monsters (just in, newborn sized sleepers are too small to cut monsters from!). But be sure to follow along on Facebook or Instagram to check out the prototypes as I post them, and sign up for my newsletter to get an email when they launch, so you can send me your child’s special article of clothing or lovey blanket to be converted into a monster!

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Monster Mash! Easy Peasy Monster Halloween Costumes & Accessories

This year, I had the honor of collaborating with Opposite of Far for a monster themed Halloween photo shoot done by the lovely Qiana K! Opposite of Far launched her Monster Masks, which are fun, colorful, and when paired with basics from Primary.com & monster trick or treat totes or stuffies from my shop – make the cutest simplistic monster costumes ever!

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Aren’t these little monsters the cutest you ever did see?! Hurry to place your monstrously awesome Halloween orders – it’s spooky how soon it will be here!

 

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What Mon-stors are made of – how many monsters can I make from a robe?

It’s been a hot minute since I did a transformation post! I’ve been stockpiling before and after images but with baby on the way, sewing non-stop, babysitting 2-4 days a week… I just haven’t had it in me to sit down and work on blog posts. But this morning baby Z woke me up around 5am so I thought I’d get some blogging done!

So, today I’m sharing my latest transformation! From salvaged robe into…

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A big AND a small Mon-stor! Oh, and…

handmade green monster trick or treat tote

A trick or treat tote/library book bag! AND!

Two mini stuffed monsters!

I was actually really surprised with how many monsters I was able to make from this one robe! Generally there’s some stitching, stains or holes that get in the way but this one was perfection!

I used the smallest scraps from it to make horns and features for other monsters, too.

small mini stuffed monster made from recycled fabrics in Asheville NC

Keeping textiles & scraps from monster production out of landfills is a challenge, certainly more work than just heading to the craft store and buying fabric off the bolt – but it’s so much more sustainable and rewarding to give new life to textiles! Saving the world, one monster at a time!

All of these cuties are currently listed for sale in my monster shop – since I do only use upcycled textile discards, that means each monster is one of a kind – so pop over and snag one before they’re gone!

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10 ways to save money, raise nature loving kids & live a more sustainable life

I get asked a lot about our efforts to live a more eco-lifestyle. Being on a budget it makes it surprisingly more difficult to live an eco0friedly lifestyle, post move and divorce, but I’m slowly finding eco alternatives for daily staples like soap and shampoo, dish soap and even coffee, here in WNC – which is luckily a very earth friendly, sustainably minded place! We are always trying to find ways to reduce our impact on the Earth with our consumption & every day habits, plus opting for ecofriendly alternatives to hobbies.

For all of you who want to start making easy changes with your children, teaching them how to protect Mother Nature, but aren’t sure where to start, here is a list of ten ideas for some easy habits to eco things to do even on the tightest budget that are good for you, your bills, the Earth & your family. Some I’ve blogged about before, but they are worth reiterating here. Enjoy, and feel free to add your eco-life tips in the comments! Together we can be like a superhero team all saving the world together all at the same time, which would be pretty rad!

3418c-10562963_10203220525292133_2713131494612030695_n1. Grow a garden! Not only is it great family time together outside building beds, prepping pots, planting seedlings, weeding, picking and preparing, it teaches your children about earth sciences, compassion for nature & how fun mud and bugs are! I have a Pinterest board for gardening tips and ideas here, including lots of container planting for small spaces!

No matter the space you have, you can save a lot of money growing your own food – even if it’s just a staple item in your house in a pot on your porch, like a few pepper plants or beans if you use them a lot. Pre-move, we had a vegetable garden each year with some staples like cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes, beans, and peas. We also had blackberry bushes & blueberry bushes. Now that we rent and can’t totally invest in a full size garden, we have a small bed with cucumbers and green beans, and also volunteer at my mom’s house helping in her garden, which has potatoes, onions, peppers, corn, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, grapes, blueberries & a few other staples. My sister in law also grows a huge garden, plus has pear & apple trees – come crops, we will all work together and swap food, meaning an entire fall & winter’s worth of stock piled dried fruits, canned apple sauce and vegetables, veggie soups, frozen veggies to add to dishes, jams, jellies and canned fruits – all just for the cost of weeding once a week!

2. Take a (biodegradable) trash bag and go for a hike through your local trails, a park or the woods to pick up litter so existing vegetation can thrive. Make sure to put on some bug spray & wear (reusable) rubber gloves! Use two bags – one for trash, for one recyclables, and use this unplugged family time to teach your children about the importance of recycling & protecting water ways and natural habitats.

3. Shop from thrift stores & consignment shops whenever possible – not only do you save loads of money but you also prevent air pollution, energy use & landfill waste from the creation of new products when you purchase gently used items. It also keeps money directly in your community instead of funding international trade for cheap clothing & home goods, which creates a ton of emissions and consumes lots of fuel. By shopping locally at community thrift stores you are directly supporting people who live in your city while having an positive impact on the environment, while saving a boat load of money. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm & fuzzy inside?!

4. If possible, let your kid ride the bus to and from school rather than driving them. This reduces a ton of exhaust pollution from the commute and idling in the pick up and drop off lane. If you can, arrange to have them carpool to after-school activities with friends or volunteer to be the carpool driver! If you live close enough to school, the park, a store, or any place you frequent, walk or ride your bikes whenever possible for some unplugged, active family fun!

5. Reduce the electricity you use & encourage your kids to do the same! Turn off your heat/air and open the windows on days when the temperature allows. Open the curtains rather than turning on lights. Unplug things that are not in use – this alone can account for up to 40% of your electric consumption! Turn off your computer & unplug it when you aren’t using it. Instead of drying bedding in the dryer, line-dry laundry, especially heavy linens. This will greatly reduce energy consumption plus give your linens that sunshine fresh scent.

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6. My first option is to buy products with little to no packaging. Beyond that: Recycle or reuse whenever possible –  paper, plastic, glass bottles, cardboard, and aluminum cans. This conserves energy and reduces air pollution & electricity consumption from production. Before you recycle something, make sure you can’t reuse it first. Don’t spend money on mason jars when glass jars from pasta sauces & pickles are perfect for drinking glasses at parties or simple vases, pen holders or containers in the bathroom to hold cotton balls, tooth brushes & other items. Hit up Pinterest for tons of great idea for upcycling & repurposing items. If you can’t reuse something, see if you can compost it. Most paper & cardboard (even toilet paper & paper towel rolls) can be composted. Even paper towels that have been used to clean up water can be composted! Jenelle of TN2T has several awesome boards on Pinterest for upcycling & creatively recycling items.

7. Also, on composting… Did you know that 20% of human produced methane that damages the ozone layer comes from food in landfills? This shocking number is hard evidence of why every home should compost! All raw vegetable & fruit waste can be composted, along with coffee grounds, grass clippings & leaves that typically end up on the curb for trash pick up. So skip the “all-natural” plant food and go for the truly all natural plant food. Leaves can be used as mulch around your garden & plants year round, too, providing nature-intended nutrients for plants that eliminates the need for chemically saturated fertilizers, so it’s a double whammy of Earth saving goodness and saves you money because then you don’t have to buy mulch! Yay! There are so many good resources for composting out there. It’s so easy to get started, it greatly reduces landfill waste & has a huge impact on the environment. Give it a Google & see how you can get started! Kids will have fun watching the process of foods decompose & learning how bugs, worms and mold help break down the organic matter.

8. Purge. Make it fun and reward the kids with one new item or special event (like a trip to the movies) for purging unused toys, clothes, games. Get rid  of (donate, sell or give to a friend) anything you absolutely don’t need or use. Since we are living in very tight quarters, I purged more than half of mine and my son’s clothes  & all but a few linens – now everything has a purpose, plus less laundry to do means less water and electricity used! Fewer toys in my son’s room means more space to play with things he kept, like Legos and Nerf guns.

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9. Use all-natural cleaners – Apple cider vinegar is an amazingly versatile cleaner and at less than $3 a gallon, is a super cheap alternative to expensive, chemical laden laundry soaps, floor cleaners, surface wipes and more. We use it for laundry and our floors! Stop using dryer sheets full of harmful chemicals – Nerd Felt makes reusable dryer balls that soften your laundry for hundreds of loads. Infuse them with essential oils to add a lovely scent to your laundry!

10. Build a backyard haven. A small investment up front for major savings and fun in the long run! Get a trampoline, swing set, pool, whatever tickles your pickles and fits your budget. Don’t forget to check FreeCycle and CraigsList for items before heading to the big box stores! Build a fire pit and pull up seating for relaxing evening fun. Spring through Autumn (or even in the winter, snuggled under blankets with cocoa while it snows around you!). Create a space that’s just as fun as the local park, and invite friends over! You’ll save a ton of money not going out, your kids will want to spend more time outside, and it’s about time we return to a life of having neighbors over for coffee on the porch or beers by the fire. Building a home filled with functional spaces you love & inviting others to enjoy it with you is a great way to build community, foster friendships and have free, ecofriendly fun!

These are just a few of the ways I try to live a more sustainable, ecofriendly lifestyle while on a super tight budget. Do you have any eco-budgeting tips for home life, activities, or shopping? Please share them in the comments!

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What’s a Mon-stor? Plus Six Places to Use Them!

I’ve been making Mon-stors for 7 years now. I’ve made THOUSANDS of Mon-stors, and as vain as this sounds, they are probably my most favorite thing ever. I actually use them EVERY DAY in EVERY ROOM in my home! I’m definitely not someone who pushes a product I wouldn’t use – as a mom, not the maker, dude, these storage solutions are such space savers and so easy to get my son & the kids I baby sit to use! That is WHY I started making them all those years ago, when we lived in a tiny basement apartment. That’s why I’ve loved making them for so long & why I know other moms will enjoy them too – fun toy storage kids like using? Heck yeah!

As my audience has grown, I thought it would be fun to do a refresher for everyone who is new to Mon-stors! So I put together this post with some examples of their uses & lots of fun fan photos (to prove I’m not the only mom who loves these guys!).

Mon-stors are made entirely from textile discards (fabric that would otherwise end up in a landfill), so they’re sustainable storage solutions that are mega cute & fun for kids to use! I’m pretty sure you could find a purpose for one in any room of your home, whether you have kids or not! But here is six quick examples of Mon-stors in action, ready to gobble up messes and keep your home clutter free!

kid’s room

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Laundry, toys, books, stuffed animals, dolls, costumes & blocks can be gobbled up by Mon-stors! They can hang from the door handle or bed frame, so even toddlers can have easy access to them, or they can be hung in the closet! Kids will love to “feed” their Mon-stor each night before – and parents will love that their children are actually enjoying picking up each night!

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bathroom

No more wet towels or dirty clothes on the floor! Kids can “feed” their Mon-stor their laundry and then it’s easy  to haul the Mon-stor to the laundry room to empty! Small Mon-stors can also be filled with fresh shampoo, soap, towels and toiletries for house guests and hung in the bathroom as well to make entertaining overnight guests even easier!

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hallway/mudroom/entryway

Use a Mon-stor to hold mittens, hats, scarves, umbrellas, jackets, bathing suits, outside toys or even shoes right on the back of the door – no more tripping on clutter on your way out in the mornings, plus all your outside gear is right by the door!

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I would say to hold plastic bags but I know you are going to go green & use this cutie to store your reusable bags instead, right? 😉

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living room

No more losing the remote! You can also use them to store video games, controllers & charging cords, as well as coloring books and craft supplies so that they are easily accessible – and quick to put away! They are also great for storing diapers and wipes in the living room cause moms, let’s face it, we rarely venture all the way back into the nursery to the changing table to change every diaper, right?

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car

They are great to contain small toy, books, DVDs, a change of clothes for the kids or diapers & wipes in Mon-stors to keep car clutter under control! They can also be used to keep bottled water and snacks hand during road trips, or bathing suits, sunscreen, bug spray and hats handy in the summer!

Where would you use a Mon-stor?

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500 Monsters in 2016: Update 4

Whew! I am actually really excited about this week’s numbers & the amount of work I got done!

I am using Craftivity to help me track my progress by setting measurable goals, and according to that web app, I am already two weeks ahead of schedule! Woot woot!

I have made 76/500 monsters so far! That’s 15.2% My goal for January was to get to 15% and I’m so excited to have it that already. I hope I can keep up this momentum!

Here is the pictures I have of the cuties from the past two weeks!

If you don’t want to miss out when I stock my shop, be sure to sign up for my newsletter – Mon-stors typically sell out within an hour or so, so if you want to get your hands on one you have to act fast!

I’ll be taking a brief break from making so that we can move into our new home! Hooray! I’ll resume Mon-stor making full tilt the moment we are settled into out new place. 🙂 It shouldn’t be more than a week and a half from now – keep sending me all your positive vibes! Until I actually move into a place it won’t feel real!

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500 Monsters in 2016 – Update!

So I totally failed at the weekly updates, oops! So here is my 3.5 week update, haha! Between custom ordered Mon-stors (get yours here!) and working on lots and lots of stuffies for a huge promo launching next week, I am up to 24/500 Monsters. Not where I want to be but I do have 20 stuffies and some Mon-stors on my table in various stages of production – waiting on tags so I can complete the majority of them! I’m at just about 5% of my goal which is no where near where I want to be right now, so here’s to the hustle! I’m hoping to get to 15% of my goal by the end of February. Wish me luck!

And for a visual update – a goody-goody gallery of monsters!

There is ONE surprise mini monster missing from this count because I didn’t photograph it before I sent it off to it’s new home. Oops! But other than that, there’s the cuties from this month!

I’ll post another update soon! (hopefully, in one week, lol!)