Artist of the Month: Michelle Sasscer, Babus Toys

IMG_8997The following post is by Michelle Sasscer, owner of Babus Toys, Herban Lifestyle’s April 2014 Artist of the Month.

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Women have traditionally learned their crafts from their mothers and other family elders, and Michelle Sasscer is no exception – her mother taught her how to knit, albeit over the phone, 3,000 miles away, while Michelle was laid up with a broken leg in a 3rd floor flat in San Francisco.  It was very slow going at first, and she timidly moved from basic stitch swatches to washcloths to eventually scarves.  After a multi-year hiatus, she returned to the craft in earnest in 2011, relishing the opportunity to nestle into an easy chair with gorgeous yarns and new patterns.

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But it wasn’t until 2006 that she learned about felting, and when she finally started to experiment with the technique, she was immediately, completely hooked.  Something about the smooth, fuzzy, warm wool texture and apparent magic of all of those stitches melding into one thick solid material, was irresistible.  And not coincidentally, this all came about while she was making toys and decorations for her newborn son, Nicholas (who was nicknamed “The Babus”, in utero, just like his daddy had been).  The moment she saw Nicky’s reaction to his first set of felted wool teething rings, Babus Toys was born, at least in her mind.  Many years later, Michelle has created toys and treasures for babies as well as children of all ages.  Using choice, sustainably produced yarns from Michigan and Peru, as well as an organic line from Australia/US, Michelle makes every piece by her own design and with her own hands, from that original Gnot teething ring to nesting finger puppet sets, to mermaid dolls, even ornaments (once she even made a bride and groom squid couple as a wedding cake topper). Oh, and her mom Ruth is still helping her out, doing yeoman’s work as a supplemental knitter.  Michelle works out of her home in downtown Silver Spring, MD.

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Babus Toys can also be found in Michelle’s Etsy store, on Facebook, and at Eastern Market in Washington DC.logo

Join Us at Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh, PA!

HA_2012_600x320The following post is by Katie Perugini, Herban Lifestyle’s Creative Communications Strategist.

As the holiday season falls upon us we hope you will join us this weekend in for a handmade holiday shopping experience in a beautiful city – The Handmade Arcade in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Now in it’s 9th year, the Handmade Arcade is Pittsburgh’s first and largest independent craft fair. This weekend, it returns to downtown Pittsburgh at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on December 8 from 11am to 7pm with free admission.

Herban Lifestyle is excited to be a vendor in The Handmade Arcade for a second time and first time in the Holiday show. If you’re in the area or making the trip, please stop by and say hello! We will be at booth #91.

Remember to visit the shopper info page to get all the information you need to maximize your Handmade Arcade shopping experience!

I also compiled a short list of cool things in Pittsburgh. This is by no means an exhaustive list, just a few of my favorites. See you there!

Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens- Founded in 1893, the conservatory currently has thirteen rooms with different themed gardens featuring various exotic plants. I visited the gardens a little over a year ago was impressed by the commitment to sustainability, environmental education for the community and stunning photo ops.

Mount Washington -The view of the Pittsburgh skyline is as breathtaking as seen in the pictures. I had the opportunity to view it for the first time while sitting on a bench on top of Mount Washington in addition to riding on the Duquesne and Monongahela Inclines–which are the oldest continuous inclines in the world. Although it is definitely a “cliché” Pittsburgh activity—the experience is definitely worth it.

The Cathedral of Learning – Despite being a Penn Stater, I couldn’t help but stand in awe next to the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning. Not only is it 42 stories and the second tallest university building in the world, the inside looks like something straight out of a Harry Potter movie. It’s so beautiful you wish you had the opportunity to study in this building.

The BridgesPittsburgh has an incredible amount of character and its bridges are undeniably a big part of that. Pittsburgh has hundreds of bridges within the city limits, practically begging you to get out of your car and take pictures every where you go.

Thank you, from Herban Lifestyle

Pie pumpkins and butternut squash to be cooked for Thanksgiving!

This Thanksgiving, we have a lot to be thankful for. It would be virtually impossible to list every single person and organization, so we’ve attempted to list our top 10 in no particular order. We hope you enjoy the list and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

1) Friends and family, who support us in every way.
2) All of our customers, fans and supporters who make everything possible.
3) Writers and bloggers who have generously featured Herban Lifestyle.
4) Craft Show organizers who were kind enough to welcome us to their shows.
5) Our amazing suppliers who are committed to organic, Fair Trade, all natural, recycled and other earth friendly products and practices.
6) Katie Perugini, our Creative Communications Strategist, for making things look shiny and new.
7) Our long-suffering, always-smiling Postal Service, UPS and FedEx delivery workers.
8) Our non-profit partners who are working hard to make the world a better place.
9) Sustainable and Small Business organizations that provide support and resources for all of us small business committed to sustainability.
10) The rabbit for her unconditional love.

Join us on 11/10 for our 3rd year at Crafty Bastards!

The following post was written by Katie Perugini, Herban Lifestyle’s Creative Communications Strategist.

Between the weather, the elections and Herban Lifestyle being super busy, it has been a crazy fall. And we’re more than ready to have some serious fun!

That is why we are so incredibly excited for Crafty Bastards return on Saturday, November 10th for it’s 9th year in Washington, DC. With temperatures projected to be in the 60s, over 140 vendors and an estimated 30,000 attendees, it is guaranteed to be an amazing show!

We are super honored and excited to have been chosen to be a vendor for our third year in a row! It’s not only a great place to be a vendor; it’s also a dream-come-true for the shopper looking for unique, high-quality handcrafted gifts. Typically the show is held in October but this year’s November date makes it ideal for holiday shopping.

You can take a look at the vendor gallery to get a preview of the who will be selling what, then download the official Crafty Bastards vendor map so you can make sure you find us and all your other favorites!

It’s also important to note that Crafty Bastards is showing a different hip DC neighborhood some love this year with its move to Union Market, located at 1309 5th Street NE in Washington, D.C., and accessible via the NoMa-Gallaudet University/New York Ave. station on Metro’s Red line.

If you are in the DC area this weekend, come visit us at booth #16 and say HI! In addition to everyone’s favorite fuzzy soaps, we’ll also have a variety of beer soaps, men’s grooming products, curiosity soaps and gift sets.

The show will be held from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Admission is $5.00 and 2-for-1 tickets are available for sale through tomorrow.

We hope to see you there!

Wordless Wednesday: What I Did on Mother’s Day

One of my Mother’s Day traditions is to spend time in the garden. It feels almost decadent to have a full day of unstructured time where I can work with my hands in the fresh air. And last Sunday, the weather couldn’t have been more perfect for such a thing.

We went to the gardening center and picked out flowers and vegetables

Then I turned over the dirt in the raised-bed garden that my husband dug last year

then I added some peat and manure

and I mixed it all until it was evenly-blended

And here is my raised-bed garden, complete with veggies and shade plants. In the background, you can see a flower bed where my husband planted the colorful flowers in the first photo.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Art Alley, Rapid Falls, SD

I came across this street art sculpture in Art Alley, in Rapid City, SD. Every inch of the alley is filled with paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Anyway, because I view art as creation, and creation as an expression of love, I wanted to share this image with you.

I’d also like to share my recipe for heart-shaped onigiri (Japanese rice balls). It’s perfect if you are looking for a simple, not-your-typical Valentine idea.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Join Us at the 2011 BUST Holiday Craftacular & Food Fair in SoHo!

If you’re in NYC this weekend (December 10th and 11th), I hope you’ll stop by the Herban Lifestyle table at the BUST Magazine Holiday Craftacular and Food Fair Holiday 2011. We’ll be at 82 Mercer St. in SoHo from 11am to 8pm on Saturday and 11am to 7pm on Sunday.

There will be over 200 vendors selling handmade crafts and food. Plus, there will be demos, DJs and more. Admission is just $3, and the first 300 shoppers each day will receive a FREE goodie bag filled with amazing gifts.

BUST Magazine founders and co-publishers, Debbie Stoller and Laurie Henzel, will be signing copies of their new book The BUST DIY Guide to Life. They will also be offering classes on fun DIY projects like how to make your own tiny terrariums, snow globes, and more.

On Saturday, Jay McCarroll, winner of Project Runway season one will be selling affordable bags and scarves from his current line.

Visit the BUST website for a full list of BUST Magazine Craftacular and Food Fair vendors.

Join Us on 12/1 for the West Elm + Etsy Handmade Holiday Workshop & Mini-Market!

On Thursday, December 1st, West Elm stores across the country will be featuring gifts from local Etsy sellers, and Herban Lifestyle will be representing at Tyons Corner, in McLean, VA! At the Handmade Holiday Workshop & Mini-Mart, guests will have a chance make a holiday craft with an Etsy team and support a local charity. The Capital Region Etsy Street Team (CREST) will be at the Tysons event, and handmade ornaments and gifts donated at the event will benefit Jill’s House, a Vienna, VA non-profit that provides respite for children with intellectual disabilities and their families in the Greater Washington, DC area.

If you live somewhere other than the DC area, you can visit one of the other 37 West Elm locations to participate in the festivities, and contribute gifts and decorations to local charities chosen by each store. For more details, visit the West Elm website or RSVP on the Handmade Holiday Workshop & Mini-Mart Facebook Event Page.

So, I hope to see you on December 1st, from 6pm to 9pm!

West Elm
7866 L. Tysons Corner Center
McLean VA 22102

CARBON Hosts Eco-style Event to Benefit Fairfax Non-profit

On Saturday, November 19 CARBON, DC’s eco-boutique, will host a fun event to help raise money and awareness for FACETS, a Fairfax-based non-profit serving homeless families and individuals. We will be collecting toiletries and food for the families – bring a donation and receive a coupon good for 10% off at Carbon. There will be food, drinks, giveaways, and a portion of proceeds from the sale of both Herban Lifestyle products and Melissa Lew will go to FACETS.

image copyright Melissa Lew

On the 19th, I will be offering a special day of pampering, with free demos of my line of natural and organic certified cruelty-free bath and body products for men and women. The day will also feature a special collection by eco-friendly jewelry designer, Melissa Lew.  The Virginia-based designer combines elements of nature and architecture to inform her collection of refined recycled silver necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and Vitality, a unisex series of necklaces featuring Chinese symbols such as Peace, Trust, and Happiness.

November 19, 2011

Noon to 6 p.m.

CARBON

2643 Connecticut Ave., NW

Washington, DC  20008

(Woodley Park-Zoo Metro Station)

CARBON is committed to reducing your carbon-footprint by offering fashion-forward sustainable clothing, shoes, accessories, and handbags.  We carry small, independent designers and companies both locally and internationally who operate from a corporate social responsibility mission.  Several of our designers create hand-crafted and fair trade products.  CARBON is generated by 100% local wind turbines, implements the 3 Rs religiously – reduce, reuse, recycle – and supports local environmental and human rights initiatives.  CARBON also offers wardrobe consultation and personal shopping.

Join Us at DC Craft Mafia’s Monster Craft Mash on 10/29!

[October 29, 2011, 12:55pm – the organizers of the Monster Craft Mash have announced that the show is being cancelled due to predicted snow in DC tomorrow. They will be organizing another Spring Fling in a couple of months, and I will be participating, so please stay tuned for more info!]

I hope you can join us at DC Craft Mafia‘s Monster Craft Mash! It will be held on Saturday, October 29th, from 11:00am – 5:00pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, at the corner of 15th St. and P St., NW, Washington, DC.

There is an amazing list of vendors, offering a wide array of crafty goodness from gorgeous jewelry, to beautifully designed accessories, unique home goods, exquisite paper goods, delicious bath and body products, and so much more.

For more information, visit the Monster Craft Mash Facebook page, or DC Craft Mafia’s website.