Monday, December 26, 2011

Halloween to Christmas

Last I posted I was obsessed with turning this...

...into this!

 And then there was November.  In November, the volunteers of the Bowdoinham Public Library set their crafty minds to creating small bits of paper loveliness for the sale that we call "Treasures From the Library Attic".  We use books left over from the November Book Sale, added to those books we salvage from the Barn of Opportunity, and make ornaments, journals, bookmarks and gifts. We sell the items at the Bowdoinham Guild of Artisan's Show and Sale on the first weekend of December. Here are a few pictures, by Tony Cox, of our successful (first) show last year.

We had a great selection of ornaments.  Katie Smith's ballerinas were again the crowd favorite. Used canning jar lids make great frames for decoupage.

Stephanie Miller made beads from old book pages and strung beautiful necklaces.

Laurie Peavey-Ross covered cigar boxes with sheet music and old illustrations.

Magnet makers this year included the Kira Decker, Alison Berry, Larissa Decker and the Coker family.

This year's magnets featured Kate Greenway illustrations, cherubs from a 1800's poetry text, and the Peanuts gang.

The journals that I make from Reader's Digest Condensed Book covers sold like hotcakes. I'll blog about how I make them. Stay tuned.

With hundreds and hundreds of old circulation cards to use up, we search for new ideas to highlight those old signatures.

And yes, the light switch plates with covers from romance novels were popular items again this year.  If you go the the Barn and find paperback romances devoid of their covers... I'm the guilty thief.

Darcie Moore came to visit one of our paper crafting sessions in November and wrote a nice article in the Times Record.

It was a huge success again this year.  We topped last year's total by $400. I am thrilled and know that we have such a great thing going.  It is fun to share time and creative ideas among friends / volunteers, and to have the end result be a great profit for the Library.  Thanks to Katie Smith, Laurie Peavey-Ross, Allison Berry, Amy Decker and family, Kirsten Coker and family, Jayne Greely, Diana Mosher, Stephanie Miller, Heidi Balboni, Sarah Zell, Marlene Hensley and all of you who came and saw and purchased!

I am determined to be a better blogger in the new year.  For now I'll just wish you a Happy Halloween, a Happy Thanksgiving and a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ooooo, how I love Halloween!

 I do love the lead up to Halloween. It coincides with the end of summer and the beginning of my crafty season. I feel like locking myself inside, cooking large amounts of food containing squash ( or food containing large amounts of squash) and crafting my little fingers to the nubs.

And the Barn of Opportunity never fails to supply me with the inspiration nor the supplies.

Last year I read about this spider web idea on a Betz White blogpost and off I went to look for a doily at the B. of O.  Gotcha.  Had the rick rack, the plastic spider and the old embroidery hoop (What can I say? I hoard too much stuff).

I can't show you this year's Halloween costumes yet, so I'll show you a Halloween project from years gone by.

Gitsy Palmer came through for me several years ago when a friend wanted me to make a Bride costume for her daughter's Halloween costume. Gitsy decided it was time to bring second life to her own beloved wedding dress.  I converted her gorgeous dress to a version fit for an 8 yr. old princess.  It is modeled here by my friend Jorja, before it was sent off to Anna in Maryland. I loved making it, and Anna loved wearing it.

And these two Halloween goodies were BOTH found in Bin #2 at the Barn of Opportunity in the past few years.  (Modelled this week during storytime at the library.)  While the elephant mask is plastic, the bat hat is clearly handmade. Who, in their right mind would ever part with these gems???

I need to get back to the sewing machine.  I'm finishing up Olena's Rapunzel gown and my own costume... I can't give it away yet, but I must say... it's "practically perfect in every way."

See you in the parade on Friday... and Trick or Treating at the library Halloween night from 6-7:30 ish. I'll be handing out a few spoonfulls of sugar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lemonade, of sorts

I've been having fun playing with something called Pinterest.  It's like a virtual pinboard,or bulletin board, where you can "pin" images that you find online, and organize them on various "boards" of your own choosing. I like it so much better than a "favorites" list since it is all visual, and easier for me to organize. Clicking on a "pin" or image sends you to the original source post.   There is a social aspect too, where you can look in on other people's "boards" and "follow" people whose style you like.  This isn't a paid endorsement or anything, I just wanted to tell you how I came to see this little gem on a friend's Pinterest board she titled "humorous":


Well, this week the Barn of Opportunity brought me water, sugar AND lemons:

 My" lemons" came last Thursday, when I heard that someone had dumped a whole lot of canvas and webbing, and parts of LLBean tote bags in Bin #2 at the Barn.  I scurried over and indeed found some great bag handles.

Who was this mystery Bean employee?

Today my "sugar" came in the form of empty feed bags. Lots and lots of them, piled up at the barn, that Ramona was nice enough to share with me. I'm partial to the ones with nice barnyard animals on them.

 I took home a dozen.

And the "water" I suppose came in the form of a rainy afternoon, with some kids who occupied themselves, while I cranked out four upcycled tote bags in one hour!  If you want one, stop in to the Long Branch General Store. I know they sell real lemonade, too.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Love affair with a gadget

 At the risk of sounding a bit loony, I must tell you about my favorite gadget.  I am truly in love with a gadget.  It is the Foley Food Mill.

I have vivid sensory memories of Mom making applesauce with the Foley Food Mill. I am sure she made other things with it, but I mostly remember the applesauce.  When it was referred to in my home, it was always with its surname, the Foley Food Mill. As if there were other food mills in the cupboard? One other household item from my childhood has that same formal naming: the Scotch Cooler. I'm sure I'll think of others (or maybe my siblings will chime in).

You can only imagine my glee when I found my very own at the Barn of Opportunity gift shop years ago.

 I sped home and whipped up a batch of applesauce. Yummers.
And today, I made a small batch of my favorite roasted tomato sauce, just like Adelaida Gaviria taught me. This sauce is September ambrosia when the tomatoes on my counter get ahead of my capacity to eat them raw and my desire to process them in any fancy way. I cut them in big chunks, toss them with olive oil, add some garlic cloves and an onion, and slow roast it all for a couple of hours while I do something else, smelling the best-ever smell. Then a few spins in the Foley Food Mill and there it is, what I call Laida's Lazy Tomato Sauce.

I won't be winning any awards for food photographs here.  My son tells me these don't look appealing at all.  You'll have to take my word for it, until blogs have an aroma attachment.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to school with the Barn of Opportunity

I am very excited to be an instructor this fall at the newly established Long Branch School of Maine.  When I learned of the plans for this new school in Bowdoinham from one of its owners, Pete Feeney, I was hoping that I could find a course to teach that would fit with the school's mission.  From the school's website: 

The Mission of Our School is to:
    - provide people with skills they need to live sustainably.
    - rekindle the skills and lifestyles of our heritage in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
    - provide people a unique and fulfilling experience that builds community and re-localizes our economy
    - incubate and grow businesses that support a local, sustainable economy. 

I thought about the Barn and the many fiber things that I have made using salvaged materials.  Nanette Giacoma, another of the school's owners was enthusiastic  about a three part class teaching three fiber crafts.  We talked details and timing and I am pleased to promote "Upcycling" Fiber, which begins October 6th and continues October 20th and November 3rd.  You'll make items that will fill your holiday gift list.  I picked a Thursday morning to meet so that the class can travel to the Barn to collect supplies.

Rag rugs, jean skirts and wool hats, totes and toys... sound fun?
I do hope you will sign up and help me fulfill my favorite part of the mission, the part about providing a fulfilling experience and building community.  I sure can't do that by myself.

Friday, August 26, 2011

reduce, reuse, recycle ...REPAIR!

I'm lovin' my forth "R" today.  The forth R in the R's of preserving our planet's resources being repair. (The fifth "R" by the way is RENT but that will be the focus of another day's adventure)  Today I went early to the Barn of Opportunity on a pure drop-off mission. No time nor intention to look around in the Gift Shop, nor chat with neighbors and friends. Not a minute to admire the tomatoes nor pet Tuckah.  In and Out, I said.  Yet I managed to spot these fine three ladies and bring them right home.  They had the typical rotted webbing on the seats and clearly the former owners feared they might fall through.
 I knew that I had this massive roll of new webbing from my friend Brigid (you remember her from this post, I'm sure). When she comments here I'm sure she will share where she got this roll.  Anyway, I was really inspired by necessity since I am hosting a bit of a backyard event tomorrow and need more seating.

 I was happy to discover that the straps were individually attached by this simple piece of metal on each end, popped into a hole in the aluminum, and that I could take apart the old straps and replace them with new ones without any tools at all. Well, I needed scissors to cut the webbing but that doesn't really count, does it?
 The webbing on the white chair was a bit more challenging but still only needed a screwdriver to take apart and repair.  I skipped the machine rivet and just slipped the screw through three layers of webbing.

You'll see I didn't replace ALL the straps that could have used replacement (did I mention the rush?) but I'm sure no one will fall through the seat on my watch.
The whole project took me an hour or so. And I'm feeling mighty proud of the results. Didn't make a dent in Brigid's webbing roll, but I do have a few more things to repair with this awesome stuff before I give the roll back.

When did we begin to think that the term "disposable" was a good thing? And how can we turn that around? I know that I often think, "It's so cheap to replace these!", but in this case, cheap is not good for the planet. I sometimes think that my time is more "valuable" than the replacement cost and that the quick and easy replacement purchase is the way to go vs. the time-consuming repair job, but I am working hard to battle that decision and think of the value of my resources and my resourcefulness for that matter.

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Repair. and REAP the good feelings.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Before you Recycle this week's news...

...dig into the newspaper box to the Maine Sunday Telegram from this past Sunday, Aug 14, and pull out section A.  On page 11 there is a big ol' coupon from Hannaford, offering $2 off any "Close to Home" produce item.  Yup, that means when you are in the produce section of Hannaford (we don't need to be there much at this time of year, do we? I admit I still need my avocados and bananas... I digress) you look carefully for the nifty stickers under the item labels for another label that says "Close to Home" which alerts you to the fact that that item was grown nearby.  I'm not an extreme couponer but $2 off gets my attention.  And this time I used it to buy a beloved product: organic arugula grown 100 yards from my front door. Really.
 People know I love to exaggerate to make a good story but this time, when I say it's grown 100 yards from my front door, I am NOT exaggerating. I took this picture standing on my front step. That's my driveway, my lawn, my small patch of corn, berries and weeds, and beyond that, is the Locally Grown greens of loveliness. Maybe it's LESS than a 100 yards. I'm a football mother, I should know my yardage.
We love to watch the farmers till, fertilize, sculpt, plant, weed and harvest this product.  The bummer is that our local Brunswick Hannaford doesn't carry it consistently. I found this box on my way through Lewiston. So you'll need add the price of a drive to Lewiston or Gardiner to your price.  Normally $2.99, but for the coupon clippin' woman from Bowdoinham? .99. Not bad.
You can read an outdated but nice article about this farm here.

Now, what can I make out of that plastic box it comes in?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Book Group Tackles "How-To" books

My book group at the Bowdoinham Public Library is called Stitch and Pitch. We knit (or not) and pitch our favorite reads from the preceding month.  Instead of assigning a particular title, we agree on a theme and everyone reads whatever they want (or not) on that theme (or not).  We pride ourselves on being the guilt-free book group.  July's book theme was "How-To Books".  We were encouraged to try something new learned from a book. I don't need much encouragement to make a project from a book.  I've been squirreling away two new library books and I made a project from each of them.  The first is called The Perfect Handmade Bag by Clare Youngs.  It's got great recycled and repurposed fabric ideas and snappy designs for handbags and purses.  I wanted to start with the simple "Fold-up Shopper".  You know I am psycho about avoiding the plastic bag, so I try to carry handy, good-looking fabric bags and always have one "at the ready".  I thought this shopper would make a great teacher gift or a have-on-hand gift for ya-never-know-who.  I used a recycled sheet I lifted from Bin #1 at the Barn for the base fabric and added some new fabric with pretty rainbow kale on it. Thanks to my friend Deborah who made one along with me and figured where the pattern maker had made a small but annoying mistake.  If anyone takes the book out of the library, I'll be sure to share Deborah's simple correction.

 The next book I read is called The Reporposed Library by Lisa Occipinti.  If you came to the "Treasures from the Library Attic" booth at last year's Artisan Guild Show, you know that this book was made for me. I'm pretty excited when I can find a use for old books that don't sell at our used book sale.  This book contains 33 projects.  Several were familiar, and others I had never seen before.  I had recently received a slew of Reader's Digest Condensed Books and wanted to try my hand at using them for a book shelf shown in the book.  Please believe me when I say that condensed books DO NOT sell at the book sale and we end up hauling them to the Barn of Opportunity.  They do however, make lovely journal covers and, this time, a nifty shelf.  A trip to the hardware store for "mending plates" (who knew?), glue all around the pages, cut out a bit of pages and secure three books together end to end.

The brackets to hold the shelf were the fun part. When the banister in the Coombs School building was recently replaced, some old handsome (broken) metal supports were replaced.  Kevin Prout repaired them (solder?) and graciously let me have a few.

My plan is to hang this somewhere in the building so that we can all continue to admire these old metal pieces.

If a few of my book group pals would allow me to share, I'll post some pictures of their projects and inspiring books. Just say the word, women. We witnessed jam, crocheting, an impressive garden trellis, an RV waste management lesson, and a soldered pipe!  Please join us on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 in the library. August's theme: survival books.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I can't be trusted...

 ...with an electric iron.  Really.  Trust me with a library, a car, a group of children, a sharp object, or even a large group of children with sharp objects, but do NOT trust me with an iron. Back in this post I promised to tell you about the old rug's burn mark. Here's a closeup:

As you've figured out, I do a lot of crafts at my house.  I do my own version of multi-tasking that I now call "scattertasking".  That means I do many things at once and don't pay attention to the small details like turning off the iron when I'm done or putting it down where it can cool appropriately.  So bad things happen when I use an iron.With the rug incident,  I left the iron on and someone ELSE knocked it off the ironing board.  Team negligence.

Can you believe this one? I did this all by myself!

I rarely use my iron for ironing clothes but instead use it for melting stuff like plastic bags, or adhering sticky stuff onto fabric (like Wonder-Under or Craft Fuse or Misty Fuse) so that fabric can then be melted onto another layer of fabric.  All this melting and burning and sticky stuff leads to many many many ruined irons here.  This is where the Barn of Opportunity comes in. I never never never buy irons. They come to me in the Gift Shop at the Barn.  If my insurance agent is reading, please know that I now restrict myself to those irons with the Auto-Off feature.

I think a lot about planned obsolescence in these types of small appliances.  I learned a lot from Annie Leonard and her video (and subsequent book) called The Story of Stuff. Take some the time to watch the whole video and you may learn something new, but for now, here is a clip of the full length video that tells about planned obsolescence. With electric irons,  it may not be about fashion, or having the latest, greatest model, but how many of us think about having an iron repaired when it's so darn easy and cheap to simply go and buy another one?  I get around the issue by using someone else's cast off iron.

And at our house, when the sticky, burned, encrusted irons are no longer desirable to one person... they are used to melt wax either off or onto some other person's skis. 

I've got to go now.  I smell something burning.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

At long last, the Fashions

I haven't forgotten! Just a wee bit busy with a few other things. The Altered Couture fashion show at the Frontier on June 15 was pure entertainment.  There were designers who were 9 years old...
Designers who were teenagers, and designers who weren't teenagers!  There were drag queens and grandmothers. All of the artists spent $30 or less at second hand stores for their materials. A panel of local judges gave each design marks from 0-10.

 I loved this design, which had a sheer black fabric on top of a  hand-painted flower design.

 Susan Perrine created the incredible dress out of childrens board books.  Here is the artist with her model.

And the Bowdoinhamers: our friend Sara Cox posing after the show with her model, Georgia Ahlers.
You know when Sara's creations appear tame, that you are in a wild crowd.Head to toe, lovely.

And here is the show's host and creator, Christine DeTroy, with another young contestant.  I imagine Christine was pleased with the show.  The 25 designers:
Christine DeTroy, Rose Edwards, Patricia Boissevain, Angela Ann Alderete, Ruth Connelly, Shon Rivera,  Emily Weir, Elica Edwards, Donald Edwards, Hannah Herrick, Laurie Sims, Isaac Atkins, Kim De Vries, Catherine Worthington, Marji Greenhut, Molly Blaisdell, Susan Perrine, Aura Ever, Joe Swain, Sara Cox, Rebecca Hammer, Barbara Kay, Crank Sturgeon, Chana Boone.

And the winner was: "Crank" Sturgeon, whose creation appeared to be mostly made from camping equipment.  He stole the show. To watch a 4 minute video of Crank's runway moment, complete with amazing sound, check out this video from the Frontier Facebook page. ( If it doesn't load, try searching for Crank Sturgeon Altered Couture and you'll find it). Thanks, Brigid, for joining me for a very fun evening out. Next year... let's see some Barn of Opportunity fashions out there.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Altered Couture Tomorrow Night

It may be a bit mean to tell you about a great event for which tickets are already sold out.  I'm lucky to have two tickets to the Altered Couture Fashion Show at the Frontier for tomorrow night. It will benefit the ArtVan.  $5 to get in and then an auction for the fashions we see.  Artists were invited to design and create using no more than $30 worth of second hand or re-purposed clothing or materials from GoodWill or other resale stores.  Sara Cox of Bowdoinham has been "sewing for 2 days straight" and gave me this little glimpse of just ONE of her outfits that will hit the runway tomorrow night. 
 Fiber artist Susy Perrine blogged about her dress, (made from children's books!!!!) in progress here.  If they allow me to take pictures, I'll blog about afterwards. 
Now I ask you, isn't recycling the perfect vehicle for art?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Give & Go, Dump & Run...No matter what, it works

 Bowdoin College has been responsibly getting rid of its end-of-school flotsam and jetsam since 2002.  Back in the beginning, they called it the "Dump and Run" and a few local non-profits helped the Bowdoin staff collect, sort and sell the clothing, sheets, lamps, rugs and other detritus from the college students that would otherwise be thrown in dumpsters.  In return, the non-profits got a cut of the profits ($11 Thousand in the early days).  In 2003 I volunteered with the Dump and Run, to benefit a women's shelter where I did some part time work. I remember stacking reams and reams of paper and sorting lots of three ring binders in the old hockey arena.  As a volunteer, I got the golden ticket: early entry to the presale, the day before the public opening.  I remember bringing home some bargains: An extra long therm-a-rest pad, book shelves, and a remarkably clean rug. I paid $10 for that clean rug.  That once clean rug now looks like this:

(Don't ask about the burn mark, I'll post about that soon, I promise.)

So here it is 2011 and Bowdoin is still running their sale and still organizing a great volunteer effort and cleaning their campus in the process. This year's sale, called the "Give and Go" opens to the public tomorrow morning at 8am in Fort Andross, Brunswick.  This year I earned the golden ticket by volunteering with others from the Bowdoinham Community School's parent organization.  I sorted sheets and pillowcases for 4 hours. Yes, it was gross. And at this year's presale I bought another great, amazingly clean rug. One foot shorter, and $10 more than the 2003 version.

 The presale was a mad house, but I had a blast . Everyone was in a good mood, despite the muggy heat of Thursday afternoon.  Bowdoin faculty, staff and students got to join the throngs of volunteers.   Perhaps it was the heat that made me gravitate toward this outfit. 

 Who owned this? A college student? 
I really want to wear it at my library's Summer Reading Program with its "One World, Many Stories" theme.  I could just imagine reading Anansi the Spider in this outfit!  But here is the question.  Is it a man's suit or a woman's?  And what would be the appropriate head wear?

If you are going to the sale tomorrow, a few things:
 Get in line early, maintain a positive attitude, bring your own tote bags, and remember that it all goes to many many good causes.  But don't count on a large, green  African outfit for $6.  I got the only one.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Once upon a time there was a dump

 Long before the Barn of Opportunity and curbside garbage pick up, folks had a trash heap, or place out back where they would toss things no longer used.  My daily dog walk includes a stretch of Merrymeeting Bay shoreline which is the dumping spot for the adjoining 1800 farmhouse. The Bay was an easy toss out the front door. Low tide exposes lots and lots of turn-of-the-century trash.

This picture is just one 3 foot square (no, I didn't stage the picture!) which includes a belt buckle, a frying pan handle, some type of masonry with the letters MO pressed into it, pottery of several colors, china dish shards, old bottles and more old bottles.

I pick a little up each day, recycle the broken glass and save what is absolutely charming.

Some of it is not so charming.
If anyone remembers Royal Luncheon Cheese, please comment!          
   You have your chance to explore this stretch when Friends Of Merrymeeting Bay hosts their annual Bay Cleanup this Saturday. Anyone who wants to park at the Cutko house just needs to email us.  Or come and walk your dog with me before Saturday for the best pick'ns.

And then came the era of the Town Landfill. Bowdoinham had a town dump or landfill on the Ridge Road and another on the Carding Machine Road.  I explored the property on the Carding Machine Road last week with my dog, and enjoyed it very much.  The landfill was closed in 1992 and covered and capped off with some nice composted soil.  The vents and a nice grassy mound are all that is left of that era.  This land is still owned by the town.  I am told the landfill parcel on the Ridge Road was sold. 
The adjoining property on the other side of the unmaintained town road has been acquired by the State Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife and is a designated wildlife management area.  It is a beautiful parcel and Bowdoinham is lucky to have it protected.  The red post in the picture is the IF& W marker.  I'm told the road goes back to "Head of Tide" of the Abby River.  I'll save that for a day when I have boots on.  The ticks were heavy and I brought three home with me, but Bristol brought none that I could find (hooray for Frontline).
The access road is gated but there is room to park your car in front of the gate.  Dotty Baker at the Town Office showed me the tax maps so I was sure not to trespass on private land. The gate is on the righthand side of Carding Machine Rd, 1.7 miles up from River Road.  Walk down a short way and you'll see the old landfill mound on the left, and the State land is on the right.  See the bouquet in the third photo?  I wasn't sure what to expect at the site of an old landfill, but I was so pleased that the smell that hit me as I walked along the access road was Lily-of-the-Valley. Please share your dump memories with me!