From across the world, this mom made me cry...

After the holidays died down, I received a review from across the world that made me cry. She put into words the core and heart of EcoMonster.  It was emotional because when you publish your passion for the world to see, you don't always know if you're doing it right or if anyone is listening to you.  You start to feel crazy and you kind of doubt yourself...  So for me, this email yelled at me that I was doing something right.  Thanks, Mascha <3

My review

I'm not into buying loads of or expensive presents for Christmas as to me that doesn't represent Christmas. Besides that I didn't want a real tree either, but was thinking about making one on the wall with masking tape. I searched the internet for ideas and stumbled upon several interesting sites, one which directed me to Ecomonster's Fun Packed Advent Calendar.

I was immediately attracted by the fact that it was 'recycled', didn't contain any sugary sweets, no brands/merchandise and the children got to do stuff! What better season than to spend quality time together and learn the children about recycling and making stuff and counting in the way than Christmas?

My only concern was that I was a bit late and the order had to come from the US (we live in Singapore), but I took the risk thinking if it was late I would use the envelopes after Christmas or open two on the same day. The package arrived on Friday December 6th, just when the boys were at preschool. I unpacked and hung them (one for each boy) on our windows with washi tape and string – looking like Christmas trees. It looked festive immediately!

Of course they saw them when they got home. I explained what it was and they were excited to open the first envelope. It held pipe cleaners and I helped them make the shapes they wanted – a spider and a star. By the end of the day they had been shaped in more than 10 different shapes and they ended up on the tree as decorations. So much fun with such a small thing!
From that day one the first thing in the morning they would ask was: 'What day is it today? Can we open our envelope?' That's why in all the pictures they are still wearing their pajamas ;)

Some things were very straight forward and they got on with it right away, some needed a bit more explanation and a couple of things didn't quite end up 'as meant' but we had fun! Try to let your child make whatever he/she thinks is possible with the stuff that's in the envelopes - they come up with the most extraordinary ideas!!

My boys are 4 and almost 3 years old and loved it. They go to a Reggio Emilia inspired preschool, so they are used to working with recycling materials and creating 'from scratch'.

I would definitely recommend this calendar to any parent who wants some original, sustainable and creative fun with their child while counting down to Christmas.

-Mascha from Singpore

Thanks to these boys across the globe for pushing me to ask myself, how do I make these calendars even better for the kiddos this year?  So, I'm excited to announce my: 

- 2 0 1 5 Crafty Advent Calendar for Kids -

RELEASE date for new version is November 12th, 2015

AVAILABLE only until November 20th, 2015 for purchase (full set for 24 day countdown) 

NEW - This edition includes a mix of shapes, sizes, and patterns.  This means I'm no longer limited to filling these advent calendars with diy's that can only fit into a flat 2x2 envelope.  Very exciting because I'm able to include so many more fun craft activities that did not fit before.  Up until my release date, I'll share sneak peeks and reveal what's actually inside some of these envelopes over on my Instagram @ecomonster.   

TIP: Join my Mailing Party (here) for giveaway deets & exclusive special codes only shared with my party goers ;)

Preorder Here -

DIY Egg Shell Candles by EcoMonster

Here's how to make egg candles with recycled wax and wick options.

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Materials you will need to collect:
a. candle thermometer
b. clean empty egg shells
c. old pot for boiling water
d. wick (or old birthday cake candles)
e. used candles (once melted, you can also reuse the wicks)
f. melting pour pot
You can purchase a., d., and f. at your local craft store.

WARNING: Candle wax is flammable so DO NOT use direct heat to melt it.  Keep flammable items away from the stove and never leave melting wax unattended. If the wax catches fire, do NOT douse it with water—use a fire extinguisher or baking soda.

candle wick options

You have three different wick options.  Brand new wire wick can be purchased from your local store however, I recommend recycling old birthday candles or wick from used candles.  You can salvage wick when melting down old candles.  Once everything is melted, you can extract the wick from the melting pot using a skewer or such.

egg shell candle prep
egg shell prepping

Egg shell preparation:
Crack the top of eggs with a spoon.  Break away carefully until the hole is large enough to poor content out.  Rinse your eggshells using hot water and run your finger around the inside of the egg.  Let dry.

WARNING: Candle wax is flammable so DO NOT use direct heat to melt it.  Keep flammable items away from the stove and never leave melting wax unattended. If the wax catches fire, do NOT douse it with water—use a fire extinguisher or baking soda. (Ed: It deserves to be said twice, friends! Be careful!)

Cover your workplace with newspaper for easy clean up since wax is not fun to clean off counters.  Boil water in a pot and then place your melting pot in.
Melt wax:
Place old, used candles into a double boiler setup and heat to between 125 and 150 degrees. Check the temperature frequently with thermometer and never leave wax unattended. Don’t let it exceed 250 degrees or the vapors could become flammable.

First pour:
Pour melted wax into eggshells three fourths of the way.

Let cool for approximately 10 minutes.  By now, the wax has slightly hardened so now is a good time to put the wicks in.

The wax at this point should be soft yet thick enough to hold your wick up by itself.

Second pour:
Now top off with more melted wax enough to create a smooth surface.  The first pour will create a concave around the wick so a second pouring will fix this.

Float them in a bowl of water!

Let us know in the comments if you try this and if you have any egg dishes to share!

    12 Days of Christmas For Your Guy

    Last year I decided to do 12 days of Christmas for Sutty.  Knowing him, I numbered the gifts clearly so that he would open them correctly and what does he do?  Opens two gifts on the first day!  He would go to the tree first thing in the morning to find his next gift, it's not just kids who get excited about these things.  I really enjoyed putting this together because it wasn’t all just for him… The gifts were a mixture of dates for us to do and only a few actual material items.  I emphasize on spending quality time with each other instead of getting engulfed with material things during the holidays.  My goal was to only give 1-2 item gifts and the rest were dates outings.

    12dates.JPG

    Below is a description of each gift I gave which will hopefully give you some ideas.

    Day 1: “Thanks for being a sweetheart.”  Wrapped up some candies.  I don’t encourage his sweet tooth so I would only give him a few and shared the rest with my coworkers, hehe.

    Day 2: “Movie date night :)”  You can either do this at home, go out to a theater, or even drive-thru if you have one in town.  Gift wrap a popcorn packets and movie candies.  

    Day 3: “We’re going on an ice skating date Friday night, dress warm!”  I got discounted tickets to a local ice skating rink.  I use Groupon, LivingSocial, and Goldstar but there are so many more out there!  This date was more for myself.

    Day 4: Favorite candies

    Day 5: Banana Republic Men’s Gloves – I wrote a note that said “These should come in handy for tonight’s date.”  This was our ice skating date night.

    Day 6: honestly can’t remember what I did here… but I’ll keep thinking about it.

    Day 7: A box of cookies.

    Day 8:  “Put this address in for tonight’s date.” I got discounted tickets to a local Christmas lights wonderland.  I thought it was going to be cheesy but it was surprisingly really fun. Again, I use Groupon, LivingSocial, and Goldstar but there are so many more out there!

    Day 9:  A candy cane.  I was getting lazy and brought candy canes in for work so left one at home for this guy.

    Day 10:  “Pack warm for a weekend in the city!”  We live an hour away from the San Francisco so simply taking a weekend trip up there during the holidays was magical. Plus, Sutty loves to shop so it made it easy for me–Union Square.  I planned ahead and told our friends we’d be coming up.  We enjoyed dinner, went shopping, and then our friends showed up as a surprise to join us for the cable car ride.  It was beautiful at night time with all the city lights.  The cable car drops you off right next to Ghirardelli so we had a delightful late night dessert.

    Day 11:  “You always make me melt.”  Box of chocolates.

    Day 12:  I made cuff links from rare Cambodian coins.  They’re subtle and classy.  These cost me around $7.

    Here’s another version of date ideas I saw on Pinterest you should check out, here.

    Please comment below if you have additional ideas!  I need to mix a few new ideas this year.

    Love,

    EcoMonster