Designs from the Shed: upcycled feed bags

My mother-in-law gifted me with one of her original, upcycled feed bags this summer and it quickly became my favorite, always-packed beach tote. Aren’t these cool? She makes them out of old animal feed bags, like this one for bird seed, or for horses, goats, bunnies, etc. They have a woven polypropylene (think: durable, easy to clean) exterior and she lines them with vintage fabrics and adds thoughtful details like the bright green rim with yellow ric-rac. Fun!

Here are a few more details…

At this time Judy only takes custom orders for the bags. She will make you a bag based on colors/style/feed bag designs that you like. Contact her through the Designs from the Shed Facebook page.



sunhat AND a bib!

Lovelies, you’ve got to check this out. I wrote about Roen Design earlier this summer in regards to their Leelanau Peninsula kids clothing and Roen Design just released their newest product: a sunhat and bib in one! Not only is it pure genius, it’s a-door-bell too, isn’t it? I told Forest of Roen Design that I am not usually a bib-using Mom, especially when we’re out-and-about, but if it were built in to something else, then I would be more likely to use one (instead of relying on my stain stick…). Would you? Have you ever seen anything like this?

You can get your hat/bib combo right here.

Wren’s Play Kitchen!

I’m very excited to share this project with you, lovelies! I spotted the (ugly-as-sin) nightstand in a nearby alley well over a year ago with heartfelt intentions to make it over into a play kitchen for the little birdie that very day. I saw other DIY play kitchens like this by Vintage Songbird and this one by Vicki Howell made from old nightstands and was inspired to make one for Wren.

Chris snagged it for me, dragged it home and then it lived in our basement, awaiting a transformation. It waited and waited. What a patient nightstand! It was going to be a 1st birthday gift, then it was going to be a Christmas gift, and now (finally!) a 2nd birthday gift. Yahoo!

Here are some images and a few notes on the process…

First I hauled the nightstand outside and sanded everything down so the paint would adhere better then the real work began on making the piece of junk great alley find look like a kitchen.

Everything AND the kitchen sink. I found an old metal dog bowl at Goodwill for $.99: perfect for a little sink and perfect for the wallet too. Chris cut out the hole for me after I tried and failed to do it myself.  Meanwhile I sawed off the front of one of the drawers and discarded the other pieces. Then I spray-painted the wood pieces for the burners, knobs and faucet. The faucet is just an upside-down “J” that I saw on other play kitchens.

Then I painted the whole nightstand with about three coats of white paint. I hand-painted the burner coils with a Sharpie paint pen. Then glued them on to the cooktop area with some handy Gorilla Glue. That stuff rocks! I also screwed on a little coat hook on the side for a hot pad and oven mitt (on clearance at Michael’s for $.99, yesssss).

Next up, the backsplash. I painted the backsplash tiles orange, white and green. These are just simple $.29 wood craft tiles that were easy to adhere with the glue to the plywood board we attached to the back of the kitchen. I still want to add a shelf to the back of it because it looks a bit naked, but I haven’t done that yet.

I don’t have photos of the entire process because it was LATE the night before Wren’s birthday and it caused a near-divorce situation as I begged Chris to help me with “just a few quick things,” which of course turned into more than a few things. He was already really tired from installing our new fence, working all day and then I threw him his list, which included installing the hinges, installing the little cabinet magnet so the “oven door” would more easily stay closed, screwing on the handle, screwing on the knobs so they turned (washers!) and screwing on the faucet. Meanwhile I sewed the little curtains and fed them on a dowel, touched up paint and tried to stay out of harm’s way… Let’s just say it wasn’t a very pretty scene.

BUT. I think it was all worth it when the little birdie came down in the morning to greet her new kitchen. The funny thing is that she just got right to work, like she knew exactly what to do. Grabbed the tea pot, filled it up with water and served it up. Put the oven mitt on and checked on the pizza in the oven!

Day two and the party continues! Apparently, popcorn is a popular thing to cook…

Thankfully the little birdie loves her new kitchen and we’re proud of it too. The irony is that Wren’s kitchen is the best part of the entire kitchen. Case in point, Wren has an oven. Our oven hasn’t even made it into the kitchen yet! We’re still using our old one in the basement. Yeah, that’s convenient. Ahem. This project has inspired me to tackle the REAL kitchen, but where to begin?!

What kind of projects are you tackling these days, lovelies? What has inspired you to get moving on them? Do you need a deadline too? Ahh, to be only human.

a squirrely game

Have you seen this squirrely game? Too cute, right?! For ages 3-5 and runs about $20. I know a few wee (and big) ones who just might really like this… do you like to play games in your nest? Does this look like too many small parts to keep track of to you? Feels like we’re just coming out of the game-playing season and into the running through the sprinkler season, but perfect for next Christmas! Bookmarked.

spring break… in a box!

One thing that always helps me to get out of a woe-is-me funk is to cheer someone else up. So a few days ago I decided to make a “Spring Break… in a box!” for a good friend who also lives in the frozen, crusty, will spring ever come?, upper midwest. She just started a new job and you know what that means, lovelies: no vacation any time soon. So I shipped off this fun box to her this week and I can’t wait to hear her response. Hopefully she has a spectacular trip and sends me a postcard! Shhh, it’s a surprise!

Contents? The basics for a DIY living room Spring Break! Crank up the heat, pop in some cheesy music, throw the drink on ice… Relax!

  • a flowery lei
  • orange flip-flops
  • a couple shells
  • a fun cup
  • some tequila and orange juice
  • a few drink umbrellas
  • beach ball
  • and a coconut!

Full disclosure: I was inspired to make this gift from You Are My Fave’s Birthday in a Box idea. So cute, right?

P.S. Lovelies, don’t tell the USPS that I sent alcohol in the mail…

Gift Guide

Spread your love of the great mitten state this holiday season with some ode-to-Michigan gifts. Lord knows Michigan could use all the love we could give it…

1) Midwest is Best tote bag. Spread the midwest love while grocery shopping or a trip to the library. Or how ’bout presenting your gifts in these totes instead of wrapping paper?

2) For your favorite green thumb in your life, how ’bout a Midwest Seed Bomb? Make flowers, not bombs!

3) I love Fordite jewelry, like these Fordite earrings. Do you know what Fordite is? Fordite is multi-layered, automotive enamel. The original leftover paint slag, or “rough”, was made years ago by the old-fashioned industrial techniques used to spray-paint multiples of production cars in large Ford automobile factories. So unique, so Michigan, so beautiful, no?

4) A Michigan-themed gift box from Great Lakes Tea & Spice. This is the perfect family gift idea, which includes the classic Caldecott-honor book, Paddle-to-the-Sea, and several kinds of tea.

5) For the all-Michigan, all-organic foodie: the Cherry Supreme gift box from Food for Thought. Cherry Cabernet jam, dried cherries, Cherry Raspberry jam…, need I say I more?

6) Too young to eat the dried cherries? Bummer. How ’bout a wooden Michigan teething ring. So cute!

7) Strapped for cash this year, but still want to send a little Michigan cheer? Send one of these Michigan mitten notes! I love these, don’t you?

Dear readers, do you have any other ode-to-Michigan gift ideas? I’d love to share them in the upcoming weeks. Until then, a big shout out to our dear mitten state, woot woot!

Need a laugh?

Are you in need of a great laugh? Or looking for a good gift for a special Dad in your life? You’ve got to check out Awkward Family Photos, which is absolutely hilarious in a Schadenfreude kind of way. I’ve always loved looking at people’s family portraits. How ’bout you? I don’t think we ever had one taken. Are you in the same boat?

Here are a couple pics from Awkward Family Photos that make me laugh. A lot.

What a great gift at less than $10, right? Brilliant idea! Click here to order your copy of Awkward Family Photos now. Voila!

Tummy Tub, of course!

I’ve been asked a few times recently for gift ideas for new parents. There are so many great things out there and while handmade items are always trump in my book, the Tummy Tub is a unique, thoughtful, useful gift that we love to rave about. Shortly after we first brought Wren home from the hospital and looked at each other, like “now what?” we bathed her in a traditional tub and she screamed. Oops. Fresh from the womb, exposure like that is not fun. For anyone. But she took right away to her Tummy Tub. And so did we. How cute is a baby in a bucket?

We started using it shortly after she was born. According to the manufacturer (and we agree!), it’s “an easy, stress-free and safe way to bathe and settle your baby. Developed in cooperation with physicians, midwives and nursery nurses, the TummyTub eases the transition from the secure environment of the womb to the new world. The unique womb shape helps your baby to relax and become calm in the familiar fetal position. Surrounded by water, which stays warmer for longer due to the small surface area, your baby feels confident and secure.”

Here are some shots of Wren in her Tummy Tub. So cute and fun!

Wren first started pulling herself in her Tummy Tub and then we really couldn’t be doing dishes at the same time anymore… Damn!

Bonus, dear readers! It’s green. The ultimate green baby bath tub: saves water, energy, space, and is fully recyclable. Designed and produced in Europe with very high quality standards, the TummyTub is completely BPA, PVC, lead, Phthalate, and toxin free. Not to mention it has passed all worldwide safety regulations and testing.

Don’t you love those Europeans and all their great ideas? Cheers!