Upcycling Crayons

20 years ago, a term was coined that has become a part of our regular dialog.

The expression? UPCYCLINGcrayon

As opposed to recycling everything, which often begins with the destruction (downcycling) of the item,

a German engineer named Reiner Philz proposed in 1994 that

“what we need is upcycling, where old products are given more value, not less.”


Today, you can quickly and easily find a way to use almost anything you formerly would’ve been encouraged or tempted to pitch. (Just one more reason so many people love pinterest and Etsy!)

Upcycled clothing. Upcycled furniture. Upcycled music and art.

I’m not here to advocate holding on to all the “stuff” in your home. In fact, here (08/27/12) is a blog about just the opposite! Remember the questions “is it useful? Is it beautiful?”

However, giving old products more value… making them useful or beautiful… is a great thing!

A while ago, we did just that with our broken, cracked, and half-used-up crayons! If you need a project for a rainy day, you may want to give crayon pointillism art a try.crayon7

Pointillism art is simply a technique in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. Crayon pointillism art looks like this:





You can find all sorts of instructions and ideas on-line. I’m not going to share those here… just a few pointers for the beginner, from my own experience attempting this form of art with my kids:

  1. This is not a project to suggest to the kids while you finish scrubbing the tub. Adult supervision is required. You’ll definitely want to be involved! (Lit candles… dripping wax…you know.) So make that pot of coffee, if need be, put on some music, and get ready for some family-time!
  2. Make sure to peel the crayons ahead of time (or do this part as a separate project, on another day. Great dexterity work, right?).
  3. I think it works best to choose several shades of the same color for the art work. For example, if making a tree picture, use several browns for the trunk and a number of different greens for the leaves. Then group the colors. The 4 shades of blue in one container, the 3 browns in another. This is part of what makes the pictures so beautiful.
  4. One more crayon tip. For this event, the crayon needs to be fairly long or little fingers will get too close to the flame! Save the stubby crayons for another project (like the one at the bottom of this post!).
  5. Be sure to use a tablecloth that you can throw away OR cover the table with newspapers that can be tossed. Drips of melted crayon DO end up on surfaces other than the intended paper.
  6. Having an idea (or subject) ahead of time is helpful for some. My more naturally creative kids came up with an idea in their mind and just started dropping melted crayon in drips onto the paper, designing it as they went (a sailboat on the water, a nighttime sky). Others – especially the younger ones – preferred a simple pencil-sketched form to fill in (a tree on a hill, a rainbow). crayon2I think even a simple high-quality coloring page would work. You know, the ones that have only a large, happy dog on the page or a single plane in the sky. Not a fast moving Road Runner being chased down the road by the Coyote, smoke at his heals, a cactus bush and cliff looming in the distance… nope, too much detail! Simple is better (in life in general, and in this case!).
  7. If you have a perfectionist, be ready to encounter a bit of frustration if something doesn’t turn out just as they envisioned. Thankfully, this is one form of art where ‘mistakes’ can either be peeled off after they’ve dried a bit OR you can simply place another color ‘drip’ over the top of the ‘mistake’!
  8. Here’s a candle-hint. The longer the wick, the better. And it works best to have either a pillar candle or a tall candle that’s in a candle-holder (not a jar-candle). You want it to be steady! And one candle per person is best. The candles did go out from time to time so have the lighter/matches handy for relighting!
  9. My number eight tip… that should be posted as #1…. is to throw out your expectations and just have fun with it! For quite a while, the children worked so carefully and quietly, and the pictures were coming along beautifully. I was so pleased and impressed! And THEN one of them discovered how much fun it was to, after putting a drip on their page, get down close to the drip and to blooooow and watch it spread/splatter. This became the new technique for a few of them. And THEN the youngest decided that it was easier to just melt the crayon and draw/paint with it in the soft, wet form. And so, the art project continued… for quite a long time! Not necessarily ‘pointillism’, but definitely ART WORK! They had fun. Their pictures really were pretty cool. And, hey, we used up some of those formerly forsaken color-crayons! Score!!!

A quick search on-line with reveal many, many more ideas for those old crayons in your art box. More than you have time or energy to even attempt!

Here’s a project that Grandma worked on with some of the girls.

1. Peel the crayons and cut them into small pieces.crayon6

2. Place the chunks in a mini muffin tin and put them in a warm oven (use a very low temperature).

3. When the crayons have melted, remove the pan from the oven and let the crayons cool (and harden).

4. Remove the “new” crayons from the tin and enjoy!


Upcycling CRAYONS… what’ll we think of next!


While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

Here is a classic Christmas song that I just LOVE. This song is a celebration of the birth of Christ, one of the greatest events in all of history. Merry Christmas!


While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground;

the angel of the Lord came down, and glory shown around.


“Fear not!” said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled minds.

“Glad tidings of great joy I bring to all mankind.

“To you, in David’s house, this day is born of David’s line

The Savior, who is Christ the Lord, and this shall be the sign:


“The heavenly babe you there shall find to human view displayed,

All meanly wrapped in swaddling bands, and in a manger laid.


Hallelujah, Hallelujahshepherds

Hallelujah, Christ is born

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Christ is born.


“All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace;

Good will henceforth from God to man begin and never cease!”

Kids Weigh in on Love

Over the years, thousands of kids have been asked to weigh in on the subject of LOVE. And they’ve given some interesting responses…sometimes cute, sometimes funny, and often-times  downright TRUE!  Here are a few kidisms on love.

Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.

Love is hugging. Love is kissing. And love is saying no sometimes.

Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.

Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad… but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.love2

When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.

When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more.

Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.

Love is when mommy sees daddy on the toilet and she doesn’t think it’s gross.

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.

See what I mean? Cute. Funny. And true!

At this time of year, when people feel compelled to communicate their love to one another in tangible ways, see if you can put words to the subject of love (as those 5 – 10 year olds did). Reflect on how you express love throughout the rest of the year. In day to day living. How do those around you know that you love them?

I’ll leave you with one last quote from an insightful young child.

You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it.  But if you mean it, people will know it by how you live.

Soup’s On

January is National Soup Month! When the weather (or the tummies) say “hearty soup please,” you’ll want to be prepared with a delicious and nutritious recipe. Here’s one that tastes like it’s been simmering all day long in the kettle…. even though it’ll only take minutes to prepare.

This is my Turkey Wild Rice Soup recipe. Using leftover turkey and wild rice, it’s very easy to make. And it is so creamy and flavorful. Served with a slice of fresh bread on a cold winter’s night, it’s sure to warm you right to the tips of your toes!


½ c. butter

½ c. flour – GF if necessary   Turkey-and-Wild-Rice-Soup

1 qt. broth (** – see below)

2 c. cooked wild rice

2 c. cooked, cubed turkey

½ T. minced onion

1 t. dried parsley flakes

½ t. salt

¼ t. pepper

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Whisk in the flour. Slowly add the broth until it makes a creamy soup base, whisking as you pour. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes or until you’re ready to eat.

Enjoy January and the month of SOUPS! Try some new recipes. Pull out some old ones that Grandma used to make and give them a whirl. Whatever you do, learn how to make use of the leftovers in the fridge. You can do it! And your budget will thank you! Soup’s on!

P.S.   When I plan my menu for the week, I often arrange for a ‘soup night’ a day or two after a large meaty meal. Then, before serving the roast, chicken, turkey or ham meat, I cut some up and put it in the refrigerator with the broth to use in the upcoming soup!


**If you canned some chicken stock back in the fall (see my post, Stock Up (on Stock) for Flu Season!), you’re ready with great nutrient-packed broth. If not, you can use the leftover juices from the turkey you roasted or simply make/buy your own broth.

A Sneak-Peak Into a Newly Released Novel

There’s a new book on the market! And it’s been written by my husband, Scott! Simmer Down, Mr. C is a novel that you’ll be able to relate to if you’ve ever sat in a classroom. The book is being released today so I thought I’d give you a little taste of this great read. Enjoy!

As a teacher, Halloween takes on a whole different meaning. It went from being something I used to anticipate to something I dreaded. As the kids walked in that day, I could feel the tension in the air. These kids were wound tighter than a guitar string. Trying to get and hold their attention was becoming more and more difficult with every slow-sweep of the minute hand. Six boys already had their faces painted like vampires. Two girls came in wearing see-through fairy costumes, leaving little to the imagination. “Go to the office, girls,” I said. “There’s no way you’re wearing that in here.” They both rolled their eyes and left in a huff. By lunch, I had collected four sets of vampire teeth, two fake cigarettes, one pipe, three containers of white make-up, and six sword-like weapons. “You’ll get these back in June,” I said, knowing full well I wasn’t planning to keep them that long. What kind of a cruel tyrant keeps kids’ toys until June? I really wanted to, but knowing some of their parents would be here later in the afternoon to help at the party made me realize I didn’t have the guts to follow through with it…..

The party was supposed to start at exactly 2:00 with an all-school parade. Because this was a new experience for me, I told my kids to start getting into their costumes at 1:30. Huge mistake. It took exactly twelve seconds for most of them to get ready, leaving twenty-nine minutes of pure pandemonium. Even the most mild-mannered children were running around like they had hot coals in their pants. Kids screaming. Boys engaged in sword fights that involved gouging each other and trying to cut the other person’s head off with their plastic weapons. One kid took it upon himself to hide behind the door and try and scare everyone that walked through. The pinnacle of his success came as one of the classroom mothers came in carrying a tray of meat and cheese. As he jumped out, she dropped the whole thing.

For more information, go to http://scottbitelybooks.weebly.com/ or http://scottbitely.com