Category Archives: Upcycle

Create a beautiful upcycled wind kite from a tin can

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Hiya Creative Monkeys,

Thanks for your recent participationwith our rice and thought experiment. We have completed the project and our video and currently we are finetuning and editing the “BIG REVEAL” video and hope to send it out to you verrrrrry soon.

In the meantime, we wanted to share our latest Monkey Chi Monkey Do togetherness project: an upcycled Tin Can Wind Kite! Weeeee!!!!

♥ a large can with both top and bottom removed (large tomato cans work well)
♥ decorative paper
♥ assorted ribbons
♥ craft glue
♥ rubber-bands & scissors
♥ fishing line or string
♥ drill or hammer and nail to make holes
♥ optional Outdoor Modpodge (helpful to promote outdoor longevity)


Select and cut your ribbons and attach loosely to the bottom of can with an elastic-band.


Once all your ribbons are in place, carefully lift the top of each ribbon and apply glue to the can and ribbon and secure the elastic-band on top of ribbon to hold it in place. Move to next ribbon after holding for a few seconds being careful they don’t slip. (This bit can be tricky and sticky, so for younger monkeys you may want to help.)


When the ribbons are glued down, select your decorative paper and cut to fit. (You may need to cut another piece to cover the entire can.)


Glue the paper onto the can.

Sparkle and I chose to leave our paper plain; Twinkle decorated hers with stickers.

We left the elastic bands underneath the paper to hold the ribbons in place. Once the paper is glued on and decorated, you may want to completely coat the paper with Outdoor ModPodge or another decoupage medium. This is not necessary, but it may help retard color fading of the paper.



Once dry–which may take a day if you use ModPodge–, drill two opposing holes and tie fishing line or string through the holes to create a hanger. 

We made a few of these for our garden but these also make excellent gifts! We are enjoying  watching them blow in our warm Carolina Spring breezes.



Are you going to make one? Let us know … we’d love to hear from you.








Wishing you creativity and total presence with someone you love,
♥♥♥Becky, Twinkle & Sparkle♥♥♥

P.S. Please join us on Facebook and share your ideas and post pictures of your creations!

2011 Memory Bank: a real investment for your future

“The only gift is a portion of thyself.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson (my hero)

When my daughters were babies, a dear friend gave them a beautiful ceramic piggy bank. For months I looked at it in their room, wondering when I’d be able to make some deposits–coins or dollars–for their future. Other than a few pennies, the dollars never came.

Fed up, I created a new possibility for the beautiful pink swine: a Memory Bank. Whenever my children did something exceptionally funny, loving, or remarkable, I’d savor the occasion by writing on scraps of paper and labeling them with the child’s initial.

Twinkle (my 9 yo) found the piggy memory bank the other day and started pulling out the old notes. She reminded me of the time she crammed a teeny doll’s nail polish applicator up her nose, and my Hubby and I had to stick tweezers up her nose to remove it. (I taped the evidence to the memory; a relic for later amusement.)

I read about Sparkle’s (my then 7 now 10 yo) philosophical questioning of the purpose of war:  “Do we want to be the only ones left on the planet?” she asked. Mmmmmm. Yes, that’s why I often declare my children my teachers.

Twinkle and I read together about the time she and Sparkle were cuddling in bed with me and she unintentionally bit her sister’s finger, as an expression of love, or so I had documented on the scrap. (They say there is a time in a toddler’s life when biting is a natural loving response, and they should know, shouldn’t they.)

Precious memories. Significant moments. Joyful tidbits of our family’s history that my now 41-year-old brain has been unable to consciously retain.

Rediscovering this collection led me to this next Togetherness Project: Our End of the Year Family Memory Bank.

♥ a large jar, box, cylinder, tub, or an empty piggy bank
♥ paint, stickers, ribbons, glitter and anything else you have to decorate
♥ ample scraps of paper to record the memories

Together (without distractions), decorate the container and talk about different things you’d like to remember about your life together the past year. Cut small pieces of paper to record the memories. Leave the Memory Bank, crayons and pens, and the paper prominently on the dinner table, so EVERYONE can write whatever memories they have from year 2011, and deposit into the bank.

Encourage everyone to keep writing the 2011 memories as long as you like, days, maybe weeks, then replace the cap and keep on a bookcase, as you would a photo album, for easy access to soon-to-be-last-year’s memories. At the end of every year, create a new memory bank, then you’ll have one for every year. Imagine the stories and new memories you’ll make from the old?!

The older my darlings become, the faster it seems the years goes by. This is a precious way to invest in and send your love into the future. I hope this will become an annual tradition at our house AND yours!

Wishing you love, blessings and many happy memories  ….
Becky Jaine

P.S. Today I heard an amazing radio program … I had to share with you. Dr. Pier Forni a professor from Johns Hopkins and author of the book The Thinking Life discussed the importance of (and I’m paraphrasing) focused thinking, without distraction of technology. It was such a phenomenal interview, and thankfully the show maintains an archive of programs for free. Here is a linky to interview. Click on “LISTEN” link  at top of page, and IF you do, PLEASE e-mail me! I’m just bursting to talk with someone about the brilliant thoughts he shared.

Upcycle your old crayons and go treerubbing

Hiya Beautiful Creative Monkeys!

Maybe you’ve hugged a tree, but have you ever rubbed one? This togetherness idea combines Upcycling with an inside favorite –crayons— and an outdoor creation … tree rubbing wrapping paper.

Upcycling is a new term–not yet mainstream–that Webster’s Dictionary should consider as a new word for their next edition. Purposeful alike recycling, upcycling is a way to take something used or broken and transform it into something new and useful. This concept appeals to the creative monkeys at our house as I constantly find cut up tissue boxes, toilet paper rolls and other assorted would-be-recyclables, stashed under my daughters’ beds.

This week’s projects can be done in two parts, or combined for a nice full afternoon of togetherness. Upcycle some old crayons into new colorful ones, and then get out in your garden and rub your trees and you’ll end up with some really pretty wrapping paper. 


♥ old crayons

♥ aluminium tinfoil baking cups

♥ Exacto or sharp knife (or you could skip this step and peel the wrappers by hand)

♥ baking tray

♥ preheat oven to 250° F/120° C

♥ paper for tree rubbings

As we constantly make crayons at our house for our craft fairs, we’ve got crayon prep down to an art, so I’ll share some special Monkey Chi Monkey Do secrets that will make your crayons turn out magnificently.

Ready? Ok, Turn off ALL mobile and electronic devices, ignore your home phone, and BE completely present with your loved one(s). Your full presence and undivided attention is a true gift to yourself and your monkeys, a present you all deserve.

Shhhh, here’s Monkey Secret #1: Put your crayons in the refrigerator for a couple hours ahead of project time. This will shrink the crayons a little and simplify wrapper removal.

When you’re ready to peel the crayons, preheat your oven to 250° F/120° C.

Using an Exacto knife, er wait, what’s that noise? EeEeEeEe—(Cue the announcer.)


Safety Monkey says, “EeEeEe … Safety First! Be careful and pLEeEeEeze… ADULTS ONLY should use Exacto knives! Monkey Chi Monkey Do projects should never wind up in the EeEeEemergency Room. EeEeEe, thanks.”

Got that? Ok, back to the fun stuff.

BeEeEe careful!Using an Exacto knife, CAREFULLY cut a straight line along the crayon wrapper seam. Pass crayons to your buddy to remove the wrappers. (Oooh and SAVE THE WRAPPERS! We have a future upcycling project that will transform these colorful little bitsies of paper into something beautiful.)

When the crayons are shivering, arrange several tinfoil cups on a baking sheet. Snap crayons in pieces and cover the entire bottom of cup–at least two crayon widths deep–to make nice chunky-sized crayons.

We sometimes sort by color, all greens in one cup, making one swirlywhirly green crayon. Experiment and have fun. Lay out an entire rainbow in one cup cover with another layer of color on top for a surprise crayon.

Monkey Secret #2: Preheat your oven and then SWITCH IT OFF when your crayons go in. This helps to reduce color and paraffin separation. (Sometimes when crayons melt, the color pigment and wax separate and you end up with a white film across the top of the crayon … a film that will not color. If you let too much heat out, you may need to turn the oven on again, but don’t leave it on above 200 otherwise crayons may smoke. (If you end up with a little film, not to worry, just take a veggie peeler and peel the edges down to the colorful part.)

Old crayon friends ready for melting? Okeydoke, now quickly place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven (250° F/120° C) and TURN OFF THE OVEN. This is more fun than watching grass grown, so stay near your crayons and watch them melt. It will take just a few minutes depending on your oven’s heat intensity, but do not leave them longer than necessary otherwise they may smoke. Once the crayons have melted and you no longer see any of the original shapes, carefully remove from oven and place somewhere away from oven to cool. If the monkeys are getting restless, you can place them in the fridge once they’re not burning hot to cool them faster (Abbey asked me to clarify  after posting this …. put the crayons in the fridge NOT the monkeys). Once cooled completely, they will easily pop out of the cups.

Dump them out and admire the new precious jewels YOU JUST CREATED! Good for you, you Upcyclers!

Here’s part 2. Grab some paper and head outside to start the treerubbing part. Place paper against tree trunk, grab crayon and rub the flat side against the tree. We also recommend hugging the tree too, it adds good Chi (energy) to the whole experience! When we went tree rubbing, we didn’t stop at trees. I think everything except our Jackson, our dog, was rubbed in our back yard, the picnic table, swing set, trees, leaves, toys.

We ended up not only with a gorgeous batch of colorful crayons, but a stack of beautiful paper that can be used as wrapping paper or source material for our next batch of thank you cards.

Next time, we’ll try colored paper, larger sheets, and also paper that’s already been used on one side—oh again with the UPCYCLING. We are so trendy!

What do you think of these ideas? Don’t you have a stash of old crayon friends just begging to be reborn as jewels? Are you going to use the word Upcycling in your everyday conversation? How bout tree rubbing … gonna give it a try? Come back and comment to let us know how it goes.

Oh, and if you just found our blog, you can receive new ideas in your Inbox by entering your e-mail addy in the box at the top right-hand side of this page, then check your e-mail to confirm. We send one Monkey Musing per week, and –Monkey Promise– we won’t spam and will never give your e-mail to anyone else!

Sending you LOVE and wishes for a wonderful happy CREATIVE togetherness experience!

Becky and the Monks