Thursday, July 30, 2009


I've decided to move all future recycling/reuse related posts to my personal blog, Painting Bunnies. Please visit me there for more crafty recycling fun!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Made by hand: napkins

Thank you for your patience as I get back to life in the blog-o-sphere post-wedding! Everything was grand and we had the lovliest time. Here is one of my favorite shots by our incredibly talented photographer Kelly Lorenz:

Now that I am back at work, its on to the very exciting world of making books, crafts, and re-use...

I thought I'd start by posting about a few of the handmade projects we worked on for our wedding. We wanted to be as environmentally responsible as possible, do a lot of reusing, and keep throw-away stuff to a minimum... so we decided to hand sew napkins for the table settings, and then make an extra set to give away to guests as a gift. That way we wouldn't be throwing away a lot of paper napkins, and people would have a nice memento from the day (that in turn would encourage everyone to choose cloth over paper).

At first I thought I'd recycle fabric from thrift stores, but couldn't find enough of any one fabric for the job, or a mix of patterns that went well together. So instead I did some searching around online and ended up falling in LOVE with Amy Butler fabric. Her color palettes vintage inspired patterns are so so lovely. I ended up buying a yard of about 30 different designs (though I wanted a whole apartment full).

I estimated about 6 napkins per yard for a 13 x 16" size when hemmed. Finished and folded the napkins looked like this:

How did I have time to do all that sewing before the wedding you ask? I didn't! My mom pitched in and did the bulk of it, thank goodness. She is a much better and faster seamstress than I will ever be.

Once they were done I assembled my lady friends and we put them all together, tied with a bit of ribbon.

It was fun to see them all laid out- our color palette for the wedding was shades of yellow and blue and green...

Most of them went into a basket for the gift table.

And the rest went on the dinner tables (the runners were sewn by hand too, with fabric from Ikea).

They were a big hit; the basket was emptied and most of the table napkins went home with folks too! But we do have a nice set left to use and remember the day by.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gettin' hitched!

I'm headed to get married this weekend, will be back blogging shortly thereafter!


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

SHOE for summer reading

Wat Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? was just recommended for summer reading on this Education Hobbies blog, thanks guys!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

More recycled goodness

Thanks for your patience as I settle into my new digs. Just a quick note today with some fun recycling ideas from Etsy...

Bottle cap jewelry!

Marble cuff links!

A teacup lamp!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Moving moving moving

Hi all- Please forgive my lack of posting this week, while I am busy moving out to Northampton, MA. Back with more recycling fun next week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What can you do with a 50 Cent T-Shirt?

I recently visited an after school program in Roslindale, MA to read from Old Red Shoe and do one of the activities in the book. Each kid brought in an old T-Shirt and sewed it into a pillow. I loved how at first they were all "I thought sewing was for old people!"... and then these tough inner city kids got totally involved in making their projects. 50 cent pillow anyone?

Monday, May 25, 2009

What can you do with old sheet music?

I recently read this post on Once Wed, a wedding blog that features many DIY projects. I can't help but think of what else you could make out of old discarded sheet music! Paper cones, mobiles, collage...

Friday, May 22, 2009

What can you do with an old glass jar?

Why, make a moss terrarium of course! I just came across these sweet and creative uses for old glass jars and containers on etsy.

Click here to see more from Green Briar!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Old Red Shoe school visit

I recently visited a school in Virginia to do a program about recycling and how I made Old Red Shoe. The school did an amazing job of preparing the students and following up with art and writing projects afterwards. Here is some of their work:

I drew this character from the book during our visit (this is Ben the bear who recycles his worn out T-shirt), surrounded by quotes from the students:

And finally a character that the kids made up for me to draw, a soccer playing bird named George!

More RED SHOE reviews!

A just discovered this review in Kiwi Magazine. click here to read. The Post-Bulletin posted a lovely review as well, read here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What can you do with a plastic bottle?

A friend recently forwarded me this picture of a window display at Anthropologie. Those flowers are crafted from painted plastic bottle tops. Amazing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What can you with bits of old crayon?

I was recently invited by author/illustrator extraordinaire Daniel J Mahoney to The Albany Academies first annual Children's Book Festival. It was a lovely day and a fun trip, made better by meeting Dan's adorable son Ryan. He is a natural when it comes to recycling and I was honored to sign a copy of What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe? for the little guy.

Not long after I got these sweet pictures of Ryan and his dad doing one of the activities in the book; recycling used up bits of old crayons. Could he be any cuter?

First you peel the paper off the crayons and put them in a bowl:

Then you ask your dad to put the bowl in the oven to melt the wax so he can pour it into some ice cube trays:

Next look closely at the ice cube tray:

Put it in the fridge:

Then get drawing with your newly recycled crayons!

If you have pictures of your kids doing any of the activities in the book I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Another nice review for SHOE

"This attractive children’s book is full of creative ideas for reusing old materials: make a stamp out of a flip-flop shoe, a planter pot out of an old red shoe, a small pillow out of an old t-shirt, use an old beloved blanket to make a handkerchief, and patch holes in a pair of worn pants. Colorful pictures created with acrylic paint illustrate simple instructions for these easy projects, although some recommend the assistance of an adult. The author encourages her readers to “share in the responsibility of taking care of our world” and suggests other ways that children and their families can reuse and recycle around their homes. A couple of 'hand-sewing tips' are provided: how to sew a 'whipstitch' and a 'running stitch'."


Click here to see the original post!

Monday, May 11, 2009

What can you do with a broken teapot?

I was asked recently how to reuse broken dishes instead of throwing them away. I thought I'd share the answer with you- here is what I like to do!

A few weeks ago my sweet little teapot cracked. Not all on its own mind you, I sort of dropped it in the dishwasher. You can't really see it here, but there was a thin crack down the side that kept it from holding water.

Sad as I was to do it, I got out my hammer and broke it up into little bits. This is not really an activity for kids, but a good way for grown-ups to get out some tension.

I put the bits into a flower pot to help the soil drain,

and filled it with marigolds.

My poor teapot is no more, but at least these cheerful marigolds now have a home!

Friday, May 8, 2009


The Examiner just posted a lovely article about my book, and how it might be used at children's birthday parties. Click here to read!

Why is "going green" important for young kids?

This is a guest post I wrote for Katie's Literature Lounge when I visited her blog during Earth Week, I thought it would make sense to post it here as well!

I was recently asked why Old Red Shoe is aimed at young children, when they are not able to make much of a contribution to our environmental predicament. Why teach them that their contributions make a difference, when in reality there are far greater changes that need to occur to really impact the direction our environment is going in? This question got me thinking about how we got in the situation we're in to begin with.

We live in a culture that values stuff. We work hard to make stuff, to buy stuff, to collect stuff. We sometimes measure our success by how much stuff we have accumulated, and who has more of it. Growing up in our culture, you can't help but be affected by these values, try as we might to teach kids that caring for others, generosity, and kindness are far nobler attributes.

I made Old Red Shoe not because I thought that kids turning cans into lanterns would change the world, but to make a simple truth plain and clear to its readers: we are responsible for the world we live in. The book is meant to be used as a tool to explain that concept and to get kids to think twice about what they throw in the trash and where it goes. It is meant to show them that we are responsible for our stuff.

I think you can't be too young to learn this and I hope the book introduces the concept in a useful way. We all know that many kids learn best hands on... rather than lecturing about the importance of the environment, I think showing kids simple things they can do makes more of an impact. I am thrilled to see other books for kids taking the same approach (see this round-up of environmental books for kids), its an honor to be included among them!

Some additional tips for kids and families (from the book):


* When you make a drawing, use both sides of your piece of paper, instead of two separate sheets.

* Use a lunchbox instead of a paper bag to carry your lunch to school.

* After you use a plastic bag, rinse it out and let it dry so that you can use it again.

* Save styrofoam food trays and wash them thoroughly. When they dry, use them as paint palettes, a surface to draw on, or turn them into stamps.

* Write to companies that make products with packaging that is not recyclable and ask them to change how they package their products, so that they can help the environment, too.


* Buy recycled products, such as toilet paper, stationary, and computer supplies.

* Avoid prepackaged food items, especially if the packaging is not recyclable.

* Take a cloth bag with you when you go shopping so you won’t need plastic or paper bags.

* Use plastic or glass bottles to store drinks for kid’s lunches, instead of juice boxes. Also, get reusable storage containers to hold the food in their lunchbox, rather than using plastic bags or aluminum foil.

* When you go to a restaurant, bring a reusable plastic or glass container to bring home your leftovers.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What can you do with an old license plate?

I recently discovered Fun in the making, a "green" crafting web site with sustainable living tips. Check out this great recycling activity idea for what you can do with old license plates here!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kids have the best imagination

At a recent event I handed out these activity sheets from the Old Red Shoe web site (you can download them for free by going to the teachers page), and the kids came up with the best ideas for reusing tin cans. I especially loved these!

Tin can stilts:

This is a "recycling robot" (!):

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A busy week for SHOE!

The past week has been a whirlwind! Earth Week brought a flurry of activity around What Can You Do with an Old Red Shoe?... here are a few highlights.

First of all, when I found out that USA Today was going to include the book in their Earth Day section I pictured a nice, small mention in a round-up of green products... maybe they would include the book cover. But when I managed to find a copy of the paper on Wednesday, I was shocked to see a full half page article! Pictures, excerpts, and all! I've never gotten press like this, so it was really a thrill. You can read the article here.

But that wasn't the only chance to celebrate SHOE, I also had a lovely event at The Wellesley Booksmith where we made our own shoe planters. I brought in a stack of old, worn out shoes I collected, and some cheerful marigolds:

Here are some of the kid's planters:

The next day I visited the Wenham Museum and gave a presentation on how the book was made in coordination with their exhibit "Soul of the Shoe". Unfortunately I couldn't take pictures in the museum of the amazing collection of shoes they had on display, but I did get these pics:

I finished my presentation by drawing some of the characters in the book, then hung them up for kids to color. A very focused brother and sister team got to work right away:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Last week's blog tour

In case you missed my visit around the kidlit blog community, here are some links to some of the places where either my book or myself paid a visit:

The Miss Rumphius Effect
Wild Rose Reader
Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
A Patchwork of Books
Katie's Literature Lounge: guest post
Katie's Literature Lounge: review
A Year of Reading

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Recycled notebooks by Martha

I just found this sweet craft on the Martha Stewart Show site- a great way to find a use for the extra paper scraps you have laying around the house (I know I always have tons left over from various book projects).

Its similar to a project I did with some kids during an art workshop a few years ago, where we hand bound notebooks (only instead of decorative paper on the outside, we marbled paper with shaving cream). Here is a picture of the notebook covers:

I'll post the directions for making them soon!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Other Earth Day books

There have been a number of great Earth Day book round ups that I've been honored to be included in, check them out here to read reviews of Old Red Shoe and find out about other green books for kids:

The Spokesman-Review
Dakota Moms
Mcdowell News

Recycled crayons from SHOE

I originally posted this on my blog Painting Bunnies back in December, when I recycled some crayons a la Old Red Shoe and sent them out as holiday gifts. I thought I would repost the process here for any readers of the book who want to see what the crayon craft looks like...

First I gathered up my bits of crayons from past art classes taught, and melted them in my oven. Then came the fun part, splattering them into ice cube trays:

Here is the result, in their imperfect glory:

I got some little envelopes from Paper Source and covered them with my web site stickers:

Then packaged up the little guys so they were all ready to go:

This is what my ice cube tray looked like after: