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.