Happy 2014!

From our family to yours, Happy New Year!  I've got big plans for 2014 and they include you!  Get ready......

My absolute best,


DIY Barrettes to Ring in the New Year

I can't remember the last time I knew where my hair barrettes were in our place.  They must be hiding with all those socks that are eaten by our dryer.  

In efforts to replenish my stock and from inspiration from this blog post here, I decided to DIY it.  I mean, I have all those barrette blanks I bought at years ago.  Time to actually use them.  Does anyone else stockpile craft supplies?

I've been a bead collector pretty much for half my life.  It was time to put those vintage African trade beads to use.  See?  I used leather to attach the beads to the barrette and black embroidery floss to weave in between them.  The floss added extra security to keep 'em from moving and shifting around.

Since I keep all my fabric scraps, I thought I'd make a bigger barrette and have this barrette be more fluffy -  like a party on your head.  I literally just cut scraps of fabric and knotted them onto the barrette blank.   I know she is my daughter, but could Lil O's hair be any shinier or prettier?  

This last barrette is my favorite.  I love typography.  For this, I used a scrapbook embellishment "journey," brown embroidery floss, a few beads, and some chunky twine-like string at the end.  I should mention, I don't even scrapbook.  Where do I get this stuff?

This one feels very outdoorsy to me.  It has a totally Colorado-let's-explore-the-west feeling.

Now, that I've made a few simply using the supplies I had on hand, I think DIY barrettes would make great birthday gifts for friends and family in 2014.  Plus, this is a very kid-friendly project.  The sky is the limit!

Almost 2014,


Oh, Hello

Hello.  How are your holiday celebrations so far (if you celebrate them)?  Have you done anything fun?  Are you taking time to relax and replenish?

I'm the worst, sometimes, at replenishing.  Are you?

Thankfully, I'm nestled in the Rocky Mountains, taking ski runs, and hikes/walks with Jedi, so I have plenty of time to relax, replenish and think.  Maybe too much time to think.  I don't know about you, but sometimes thinking isn't relaxing or replenishing.  It means the hamster is running full steam on its hamster wheel of my mind.

Hmmmm.  That hamster needs to pipe down.

As you can see from the photos above and below, my family and I have been keeping a full schedule. What you may not know about us (or me) is we like to play hard, but then we retreat and keep pretty low-key.  The three of us are true ambiverts.  Make that the four of us.  Jedi is an ambivert, too, which is another reason he was meant to be in our family.

As you can see from the photos, I am falling more deeply in love with Colorado.  I mean just look at the scenery, will you?  So beautiful this place.

If you need or want more captioning for the photos above, head on over to Upcycled Education's Instagram account. I've got all the photos captioned there.  I'm just lazy (or is that efficient?) and like to quickly make these photo collages on my iPhone.  In case you want to make your own quickie-collages, but don't know how:  I just take a screenshot of my images in their grid formation and crop out all the junk.  Voila, an instant photo collage to share here.  Nothing fancy.



Yay, Happy Holidays!

It hasn't stopped snowing in Breckenridge, Colorado today.  We skied this morning and then, took off to run errands in town.  Plus, Jedi needed a stop at the dog park as evidenced here.  Being a dog in Breck is truly the life.  Our tree is decorated for the holidays; I am totally in love with the fabric garland I made.  We decided to wrap it around the tree.  Next year, I will make another to wrap the tree even more.  Like the "I need more cow bell" phrase.  "I need more garland, please!"

Santa is due here tonight.  We are leaving him our favorite ski bars - chocolate revel bars.  You can find the recipe here.  They are a family favorite for skiing as they are chocolatey and energy-packed. We have reservations at one of the tastiest restaurants in town.  I am already craving their ramen noodles.  Yummmmmmy.

I will be taking a few days off from blogging to enjoy the holidays with my family.  Two things....

1.  Thank you so much for reading Upcycled Education.  The internet is so big and having us connected this way makes it feel more small and endearing.

2.  Have a great holiday - whatever you celebrate or not!  2014 is coming.  I wonder what treasures it will hold for you and yours. 

My absolute best,


Life Updated: The Mother Land

If you know me at all in person or from this blog, you know I adore Colorado.  Actually, adore isn't strong enough of a word.  My soul lives for Colorado.  It is born from it - figuratively (as I am a native Floridian as I've mentioned before).

We spend at least ten weeks a year in the state usually at our place in the adorable town of Breckenridge - which cannot be any cuter.  In fact, on the 26-hour drive, I had a wild idea (actually, I had more than one wild idea; a 26-hour drive can do that to you).  I should start a summer camp for adults in Breckenridge.  There is so much to do here and everyone who visits us has the best time.  You can read more about the summertime in Breckenridge here.  Is my summer camp idea for adults crazy or what?  Would you come?

Most people think Colorado is all mountains, but the eastern section looks more like this.

You see those "poses" above?  I think each one of those poses represents each of their personalities.  Jedi, always looking for something to play with, chase or enjoy.  Mr. UpCyclist, level-headed, rational and should-be-sponsored-by-Patagonia.  Lil O, fierce and colorful.

I plan to blog a bit while in Breckenridge.  But, in case the skiing, hiking, enjoying Main Street, working at Kim's awesome soap store  and falling more deeply in love with Lil O, Jedi and Mr. UpCyclist overtake me....


Your support means so much to me.



PS - You know that photo up above - the Colorful Colorado one?  I am going to open up PicMonkey soon and clone out those speed signs.  They are bothering me.  New to cloning?  Read more about cloning here.

Duck Tape Gift Tags - Awesome!

Photo from Mod Podge Rocks
Amy from Mod Podge Rocks is so clever.  I love this easy-peasy duck tape gift tags.  

Here's to the holidays,

Gratitude Gift {from Under the Sycamore}

Two things....

I love reading this blog, Under the Sycamore.  I read it daily.  I would say it is one of my favorite blogs.

I love Ashley Ann's free printable to encourage gratitude each day.  Lil O and I will share one for 2014.  I think it will a lovely bonding experience to be grateful together.

Photo from Under the Sycamore

You can print one yourself and keep (or gift to a friend) here.  Plus, how cute is Ashley Ann's wrappings?

Clever woman and neat soul,


TEDtalks You Must Watch {for Tech Tuesday}

You know how much Upcycled Education appreciates TEDtalks, right?  Remember this post here?

Today, our student (yes, student) guest blogger, the amazing KH, is here to share her must-see favorites.  Have you seen the three talks listed below?

Welcome, amazing KH!

Amy Cuddy's Power Pose

I think what Amy Cuddy presents in her TEDtalk is something very useful that doesn’t need a lot of resources to change your life.  Plus, what she talks about is very true: 1.) many judgments are based on nonverbals, 2.) we are influenced by our nonverbals, and 3.) our bodies change our minds, our minds change our behaviors, and our behaviors change our outcomes.  And I think these are very valuable things to remember in the classroom (and life) because students/people might base their judgments on how we present ourselves in the classroom.  The 2-minute a day power poses, Cuddy describes, can change not only how others think of us but how we think of ourselves.  If you go into a classroom feeling vulnerable, or into a meeting feeling insignificant, you can practice these 2-minute power poses and instead of faking it ‘til you make it, you can fake it ‘til you become it.

Jane McGonigal's Superbetter 

I absolutely love this idea of Superbetter (Ialready downloaded the app!).  In the game, you are given "power ups" that boost four types of resiliences: physical, mental, emotional, and social, and if you spend one hour a day boosting these resiliences, studies have shown that you can add ten extra years to your life.  So how can you incorporate this in your classroom? So many ways!!  You can actually teach your students the game.  Have a special "Superbetter Board" where you can post different types of power ups, quests, and bad guys.  This way students can try and complete the missions on their own time.  But for me, working with young kids, I thought these would make great focus activities.  Before starting the day why not give your kiddies some paper and tell them to write a short thank you note to someone they love to boost their social resilience, or tell them to jump up and down for 30 seconds to boost their physical resilience, or even give themselves a hug or pat on the back to boost their emotional resilience.  So not only are you adding time to their lives, but you're helping them to stay connected and in touch with people in their lives, themselves, and their environment.

Shawn Anchor's Happiness

Basically what Shawn Anchor is saying that the world has reversed the formula for happiness. We think that if you work harder you will be more successful, and if you are more successful you'll be happier.  But this is backwards because when your brain is at a positive, it functions better than at negative, neutral or stressed.  So if we as teachers, train our students to think more positively, not only will they use better work ethics but they will generally become happier.  And to train them to think positively we can use a series of exercises.  For 21 days, you can ask students to write down three gratitudes and by doing this they will begin to scan the world for positives first rather than negatives.  Journaling is a great tool used in most classrooms already, and by asking them to journal about a positive experience they had in the last 24 hours, they can relive this experience and receive the same positive effects it has on their brain.  Exercise, meditation, and random acts of kindness are also activities you can use with students to focus their brain on happiness and allow them to function better and more efficiently in the classroom.

Thank you, amazing KH!  She really is amazing, by the way.  These TEDtalks seem so appropriate to this time of year, too.  Each of them is like a mini-New Year's resolution.

I love TEDtalks and I adore my wonderful students, like KH!



Use Those Old Textbooks for Gifts

What else were you going to do with your old textbooks now that the semester is over? Plus, thrift store books make great charms and magnets, too.  Find the original tutorial here for the charms and for the magnets, here.

Happy gift making!


Life Updated: Coffee Shop Edition

There have been a few consistent things this past week....
  • Making holiday garlands and infinity scarves as presents.  I am not a seamstress, at all, but I can sew a straight line.  Maybe I should write a book, Straight Line Crafts:  For Those Who Own a Sewing Machine, But Don't Really Sew or Know What the Heck They Are Doing.
  • Holing up at local coffee shops to work.  Did you know you can listen to the hum of a coffee shop at Coffitvity?  Apparently, that hum boosts creativity.  You can read this article for more info on that study.  I took a Skillshare class once and the guy who came up with Coffitivity was in my class.  
  • Playing with our new-old typewriter.  Lil O is mesmerized by it.  I know now where to buy old-school typewriter supplies and ribbon.  Thank you, Mr. Internet.
  • Reliving my Etsy moment.  I want more of those.
  • Hiking and trail running in the snow with sweet Jedi.  Mr. UpCyclist and I were concerned his paws would get too cold and snow would cake on them.  Alas, that is not an issue at all.  Maybe he really is part husky.
  • Staring out my holiday card from our second lady, Dr. Jill Biden.  After meeting her in 2010, I always get a holiday card from her.  I noticed this year, their German Shepard - Champ - was featured on the front of the card.
Jedi wants a play date with Champ.



Etsy Moment

I recently made this holiday garland and had an Etsy moment.

You know an Etsy moment.

When you make something that turns out better than you thought it would and you actually think others would buy it from Etsy.   Have you had an Etsy moment lately?

Side note:  Why is our buffet so crazy red?  It really isn't that red in real life....But, you can see the garland in action.  I'm still deciding on a home for it.  I think it will live at our place in Colorado.

The inspiration:  I saw this paper craft from Paper Source and thought how cute it would be in felt. Using the cheap sheets of felt from Michaels, I hand cut the holly leaves and berries, then sewed the leaves and berries together on my sewing machine.  Here's a close-up....

It was an easy project to sew though it took some time to hand-cut all the leaves and berries - maybe an hour to do the cutting?  Plus, I wanted it pretty long; I think the garland is almost 8 feet.  I envision it double-backing over our huge magnetic board that you can see me here creating.

I love it.  I had my Etsy moment, which I almost had with this artwork.  I love DIYing.

But you totally knew that.

Happy day, Upcyclists.....

Instaport {for Tech Tuesday}

I recently needed to have access to all my Instagram photos for a holiday project.  Since they aren't downloadable from Instagram, I used this handy-dandy tool, Instaport, to download them.

It was  a total snap to do.  After opening Instaport, I just logged onto my Instagram account.  Chose my date range to download (you can also download by #hashtag, which is soooo cool and another good reason to use hashtags).  Then, click on "start export."  It took under a minute to download my Instagrams and now, I have all of them saved to my computer.

Ready for fun projects.  Hurrah!

Happy Tech Tuesday!


PS - Are you making any cool holiday projects this year?  I'd love to hear about them.  I've been uber-busy making holiday garlands.  #garlandaddict

Update: Stamp Shop Closes 12/8 at Midnight


Please place your last stamp orders by midnight December 8th, 2013 for the holidays.

You know, stamps make great stocker stuffers or teacher gifts :)



Holiday Chalkboard Art

If you are a sucker for subway AND chalkboard art, you should treat yourself to this free holiday download and printable at Smile Like You Mean It

Which can't be a cuter name for a blog, in my opinion.

You can also find last year's adorable subway art here.  Need a gift idea?  Either printable would be an adorable gift framed :)



Sound of Music

My calendar is totally marked this week.  The Sound of Music Live on Thursday, December 5th, 2013.

8pm-11pm.  Which is waaay past my bedtime, mind you.

I loved the original movie growing up.  This version with Carrie Underwood is going to be a remake of the theater production, not the movie (so, if you are a movie buff, heed this warning:  There will be some differences).

Lil O and I completely enjoyed the 45 minute special about the "making of" this rendition.  It shows how they found and casted the children, have been practicing in NYC for weeks and how Carrie Underwood has needed to change her country inflection for the role.  If you missed this "making of" special, click here to see the whole thing online.

Poor Mr. UpCyclist is stuck with me for a few more days while I run around our house belting out my own renditions of all the songs.



Life Updated: The Not-So-Tech Tuesday Edition

We interrupt Tech Tuesday to bring you Life Updated.....

Are you sad?  Are you missing our usual Tech Tuesday?

Forgive me.  

After such a full Thanksgiving weekend, I felt like I needed a chance to reflect.  Yes, me.  Sometimes I have to put myself first.

  • For Hanukkah (we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas over here), Mr. UpCyclist and I took Lil O to see a local production of Annie.  The lead gal - a homeschooler in fourth grade - was SO good.  I mean, really good.  After the first song, Lil O gave me the double thumbs up and said, this is going to be great.  She was correct.  The night and production were lovely.
  • Do you see all those sets of sparkly earrings and necklaces above?  As you might remember, Lil O is a budding fashion designer, so I totally let go of the reins and encouraged her to design all the items you see.  I did the making.  She did the designing and I love her unique color combinations and use of beads.  In just about every instance, I thought, I would have never put those beads together - yet they all came out awesome and stylish.
  • Jedi turned two years old!  We packed his day full of fun - hiking, a playdate with his doggie BFF, chasing remote control cars, yummy meals (of egg noodles, real chicken and broth) and fun new squeak toys.  I seriously don't think I could love a dog anymore than I love Jedi. Do you feel that way about your pets?
  • News flash:  Lil O got a new bike AND it is nicer than mine.  AND she has clip-in pedals.  AND she has brand new clip-in shoes.  The bike doesn't arrive until early 2014 and I am seriously going to get schooled by her.  #helpme
  • Another 5K....for two years now, our friends meet us at a local trailhead and we run our own Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.  We did it again and ran 3.7 miles.  Woot!  I love when kids run long distances.  The beam with pride after, don't they?  Heck, I was beaming with pride.
  • Did you see our chalkboard covered in math....again?  Wait until I share some other math chalkboard photos with you another day.  PS - Aren't Lil O and friend, K, too cute?! Those two are industrious when they are together.
  • Truism:  Everyday Mr. U and I pack a love note in Lil O's lunchbox.  We've been doing that for a good five years now.  Guess it must be genetic.  My mom left me a lunch note, too, recently.  I was surprised and thought, ahhhh...this is love.
  • I have a bird brother named Sebastian.  He is potty-trained.  Seriously, he is.  Jedi likes to like his feathers.  He keeps nipping at my fingers, but mark my words - that bird is going to adore me one day.
  • Recently, my mom found a vintage typewriter in her attic.  I took it back to Maryland and have been obsessed with it every since.  It isn't the one pictured above - that is my mom's friend's  typewriter from 1917 - but, you can see a photo of my 1960s typewriter here.  I'm in the process of ordering new ribbon for mine.  If right now you have no idea why a typewriter would need ribbon, then.....
We need to talk.

Cuz' it means I'm getting old.

Speaking of getting old, I meant to reflect on Thanksgiving and then, it completely slipped my mind. #seniormoment  Thanksgiving weekend was lovely - lots of good family, outdoor, and craft time, plus, I coached my first teen!  You know how I've been coaching folks, right?  Well, I've been wanting to practice on a teen and I did.  AND.....I think the teen and I both liked the coaching experience.  I may set a new goal - coach ten teens in ten days.  Try saying that ten times fast......

Feeling fulfilled,