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The Crafty Coop Posts

In the News

The other day I was scrolling through Instagram (oh, come on, we all do it!) and happened to watch an Instagram story by the Kensington Royal.   It’s an Instagram devoted to stories about the younger royals.  Yes, yes,  I know.  I love stories about the Royal family.   I’ll blame that on my mom.  This story happened to feature the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange.

Now, why am I talking about a fashion show put on by the Royal family in London?  In this case, it’s because of their commitment and focus on environmentally friendly practices and handcrafts that brings it to my attention.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General and Eco Age (a marketing firm focused on sustainability) paired together designers and people around the Commonwealth to show the human potential of fashion.  53 countries were represented, with handcrafts and materials from those countries used in the finished products.

One of my favorite looks came from a collaboration between a New Zealand fashion designer and heritage artisans from the Cook Islands.  They used techniques in the fabric that they use in marriage quilts, which are made by families for brides.  The mixture of the old and new of so many of the pieces was really amazing.

The other reason I wanted to highlight this particular party was the use of so many sustainable items in the party itself.  They reused plinths from old BBC sets to put the mannequins on.  The mannequins had paper flower headdresses and those were made from recycled materials.  The mannequins themselves were made of sugar cane, which is biodegradable.

I enjoyed seeing an event with such a focus on a sustainable future!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away

This is Jared.

Jared is my husband, our 3d printing guru, and our own personal Kylo Ren.

In our house, Star Wars is a big deal.  Not just “we like Star Wars movies”.  More like–my boys want a Star Wars themed bedroom, my husband made his own Kylo Ren costume and we went on a Star Wars themed cruise a few years ago–big deal.  So it was only a matter of time before we were throwing Star Wars themed birthday parties.

This is Cedric.

His birthday falls in December, and a few years ago, just before the premiere of the brand new, much anticipated Star Wars movie.   And so, our first Star Wars themed party was born!

We booked his party at a local eat-in-theater, Chunky’s.  It’s a great venue for a kids party because you can really do as much or as little as you want.  They provide the food and cake, and obviously, the movie.  We decided to decorate up a bit and have some fun gift bags to take home.

One of the things we decided to do was provide an activity for the kids while they waited for food and the movie to begin.  We spent some time making these paper mache Death Stars that the kids could then decorate.

The party proved so successful, that Cedric, now turning 11 wanted to have a party to see The Last Jedi!  I made invites for the party with cutouts and stamping items.

This time I got my husband, Jared, involved in the project and he helped model and print out lights saber handles to make favors.

These were a huge hit with the kids at the party and fun to make!

It’s not every birthday party that has it’s own Kylo Ren.

 

 

Custom Bouquets

In our house we can’t have flowers. The cats eat them. When my daughter started participating in her school theater group I needed to come up with something non-floral to give her when everyone else was getting beautiful bouquets.

The first crazy bouquet (for my favorite “unimportant nun” in The Sound of Music) was made of stuffed flamingos and wooden roses:

Then Meghann asked me to make one for her daughter, Sophia, and we chose Goldfish Crackers as an inside joke:

The girls were in a summer program that did a kid’s version of Alice in Wonderland. Sophia was the Red Queen and Cara was the White Rabbit. They got coordinating bouquets with corresponding “red queen” and “white rabbit” plushies, wooden roses, Alice in Wonderland decorations, and in each of the silver boxes was a piece of jewelry:

Cara was part of the ensemble in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. For this she got her favorite flamingos again but in chocolate form this time:

Followed quickly by Sophia’s performance in Aladdin Junior with this chocolate genie and lamp bouquet:

Cara is currently rehearsing her ensemble songs for Mary Poppins and Sophia is a muse in Xanadu Junior. I need to determine appropriate bouquets for them and soon!

Eco-Friendly Events – Cutlery

One of our priorities at the Crafty Coop is to be as environmentally conscious as possible when planning our events. Our personal events have evolved as we’ve learned more about how plastic impacts us all on a global scale. Single use plastics should be the absolute court of last resort when doing anything – not just when hosting events. Are we perfect? No. But we’re working hard every day to learn more and do better. We will use this blog to help share what we learn along the way and hopefully inspire some of you to make simple changes with big impact.

When throwing events at home I’ve struggled with how to feed more people than I have cutlery for. I admit to using plastic cutlery for events in the past. You might even see photos from older events with colorful plastic cutlery. I made a simple change to eliminate that need. I went to our local Savers and picked up a variety of mismatched stainless steel cutlery to use when we have more guests than place settings. The second hand settings were inexpensive; I won’t be sad if an overzealous helper tosses one by accident at a barbecue. They are also far sturdier than even the highest quality plastic choices. I can dress them up to match any occasion with colorful (and compostable) napkins and paper rings or baker’s twine:

As consumers we need to make renting place settings popular again. Pay someone to wash the dishes at your local venue. My hope is the more we ask to use real cutlery the more venues will return to offering these services.

Sometimes there isn’t really any other option but to use something disposable. When that happens it is important to think about where your trash is headed after the party. I’ve been experimenting with my family and friends to get an idea of the products available and their merits vs limitations and these two are the best I’ve found depending on your circumstances:

Do you have access to a commercial compost facility? If you don’t know what that means then odds are you don’t. Not a lot of people do yet in America. We’re fortunate here in Haverhill. I have a service called Roots Compost that picks up my home compost weekly. Some of the most progressive cities in Massachusetts provide curbside composting but in light of the ban on food waste about half of the municipalities have compost sites available.

If you do have access to a commercial facility then I recommend this PLA cutlery. PLA is a plant based plastic, and what we use for our 3D printed projects, that breaks down in a commercial composting facility. This won’t break down appropriately if tossed in your regular trash and sent to a landfill or if put in your backyard compost. The cutlery is well made and if not for the “100% compostable” imprint on the handle – almost indistinguishable from its plastic counterparts.  They have an upper temperature limit so if you’re serving super hot foods these might not be an option. We had some break during use but not many. I’ve had similar results with typical plastic cutlery.

If you don’t have a facility for compost then consider this wooden option. They aren’t fancy but they are useful. They don’t have the heat limits of PLA. This form factor is sturdier than some of the ones modeled after typical cutlery. We didn’t have any breakage when we used these. The one complaint we heard was that it seemed like “eating with a tongue depressor.” Not all of my guests felt this way but it was a deal breaker for a few. We gave those people our everyday forks instead.

Kathy

 

A Crafty Birthday Story

I designed a few fun wreaths to make with a wreath form, stamped accessories, ribbon, and some clothespins. These wreaths were a hot trend in some of the crafty Facebook groups I belonged to. I held a few classes to teach others how to make these wreaths. One of those classes was on my birthday!

Meghann and I loaded up my car with all the supplies to teach the class and we headed out. Having a December birthday means the odds are good that there will be snow. I had a lot of childhood birthday fun canceled due to weather. Now that I’m an adult I get to make my own choices regarding weather and thought we’d be fine if we took the drive slowly.

We got to the Tobin Bridge and the car was acting off. I pulled off the road at the top of the bridge and got into a space where the work vehicles usually park. I thought perhaps a nice policeman might drive by and check on why there was a car where it should not be but that did not happen. We had a flat tire. The car was pretty new and I wasn’t sure where all the things were but I managed to find the jack, lug wrench, and spare tire. I got everything changed and we were on the way again. We’d left early enough that even with our mishap we were at class at the start time although I was pretty damp.

Class went really well and the ladies who came out loved their wreaths:

 

After class, Meghann and I went for pizza at one of my favorite pizza places, Town Spa.

Kathy

 

 

Nobody here but us Chickens

After years of planning out events for fun, we took the leap and took some official event planning classes. After getting our certificates we’re making it official and launching our own event planning business.

We’ve love a themed event and throw at least six a year just for the fun of it. We’re also not above being a little silly and we often have thematic head wear. Here we are ready for a Halloween craft fair:

Together, we have planned everything from small family dinners and birthday parties for all ages to non-profit fundraising events, wedding showers, and even a museum exhibit with reception. Here we are poking out of one of the photo op spots at the museum exhibit:

Why The Crafty Coop? Many moons ago we attended a fundraiser with our husbands and needed a team name.  As a joke we used The Sacrificial Chickens and the name stuck.  We now use chickens for everything!

What are you going to see here on our blog?  Updates on what we’re working on, party planning tips and tricks, pictures from some of our past events, and items from our Etsy shop!  We hope you will follow us on our new adventure and visit us here and on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Want some help planning an amazing event? Want some fun favors you’re not going to find on the shelf of a big box store? Need some hand made goodies for an event? Get in touch!

Meghann & Kathy