Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thrifty Fashion Fridays

You'll notice on my right hand sidebar, a new feature called Thrifty Fashion Fridays. It is the brainchild of my friend, Susan Tuttle. Susan and I have been collaborating and inspiring one another for a long time.  She and I bartered when she helped me create my blog's banner (if I remember correctly, I made her a pie?).  Now her love of thrift and fashion come together in this weekly project. Find out more on her blog:  and read her post for Friday, March 9th. I know I will want to participate, and I am hoping that by putting the button here on my blog I will encourage you to participate too. Or at least sneak a peak?  I think I will need to take it up a notch with my thrifted fashions. The XXL down jacket that I pulled from Bin #2 last winter, cinched so elegantly with Bristol's dog leash, paired with Bean boots and topped with my handknit cowl may not be the type of outfit Susan has in mind. Will the riches of the Barn of Opportunity let me build a worthy outfit, complete with accessories?  I'll have fun trying.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Barter Starter and Starter Barter

Maybe it is Dr. Seuss' birthday last Friday that has me in such a rhyming mood.  I simply could not resist the title of my blog post. Here's what it is all about.

I had a lovely shopping experience at Shift the other day and came home with a book of recipes for making my own cleaning supplies.  I want to create a class for the Long Branch School on that topic.  The owner of the store was friendly and helpful and interested in my project.  But the real jolt of joy came at the check out when I read a flyer taped to the counter...Join us for the first annual BARTER FAIR.  Oh, how very, very great.  1st annual? They are hoping to have others? So this would make the first one the barter starter.   Here is the description from the Shift website.

Brunswick Barter Market, Coordinated by Merrymeeting Permaculture and Transition

March 10th, Saturday
Time: 3:00-5:00
Please join us for our new, monthly Brunswick Barter Market swap event! Barter Markets are free and open to all, and anything can be brought to trade: preserved and fresh food, handmade items, seeds and plants, books, tools, your time or skills — whatever it is you’d like to share with others and exchange for things you need or want! Inspired by the Portland Trading Post events facilitated by Portland Maine Permaculture, the guidelines are the same, namely:
  • No cash changes hands
  • Don’t start the swapping until everyone’s there and has a chance to look around at what’s on offer.
  • You can swap with someone or simply “gift” things to each other without taking a return item. Your choice.
  • Make sure you’ve found a home for all your stuff before you leave (or take home what hasn’t been gifted).
  • If you bring a food item with multiple ingredients, please label.
The idea is to create a space that exists outside the cash economy, practice non-monetized exchange, circulate surplus within our community, and have a gosh-darned good time doing it. Even if you think you have nothing to offer, feel free to come and check it out! The more people, the better!  Keep your eyes out for more details on the Merrymeeting Permaculture and Transition Meetup site.

 I really hope to check it out after I close the library on Saturday.  If anyone plans to go, will you comment here?  All that made me think about the most excellent barter of my own a few weeks back.  Teaching rag rug making at the Long Branch School, my students were talking about fabric that they would use to continue weaving  the rugs that they started in the class. 

A student asked if perhaps I would like to barter for some of the fabric scraps that I had. 
"Sure!  What's your currency?"  I asked.  
"Well, do you like bread?"  Heck ya.
"Do you like Sourdough bread?" Indeed I do.  So we met a week later and traded fabric for home baked bread.  We both felt like we got the good end of the deal -  the sign of a good barter.  The kicker?  She added a pint of sourdough starter, which I have wanted to try baking with for a long time. So there it was, the ultimate Starter Barter. 

I'm enjoying trying to bake all sorts of breads with it.  If you might like to experience a bit of heaven on earth, try baking the Sourdough Carrot Cake from King Arthur Flour Cookbook.  I'm off to have a slice right about now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Plastic with your latte?

A snowy Thursday is keeping me away from the Barn.  Grumble. Time to blog.

Back in December I had it in my head to make stuff out of discarded gift cards.  How many of you received one of these at holiday time? I did!  With no shame, I asked the people at the local Starbucks if they might hold on to the otherwise discarded cards when customers use up their card's balance.  They said "sure", inspired perhaps, by the mini notebook I showed them, made from two cards? This photo shows just a portion of the cards they collected for me in a few short weeks.  That's a lot of plastic.

Say what you want about Starbucks. They save their grounds for me in the springtime for my compost.  And you will agree that they have some great artists who design their cards.

This is my favorite.
Holiday themes abound.

So over Christmas vacation I hauled my newly acquired plastic pretties along with jewelry-making supplies on a visit to our pals in New Hampshire. You remember my young pal Talia from an April post? She is always up for a craft with me.  She jumped right into it, and within an hour she was sportin' some cool Starbucks earrings.

A Google images search, and a Pinterest search showed me oodles of creative folks making stuff from these pieces of plastic. Here are a few of my favorites.

Pick up something called a Pick Punch and make a ton of these beauties for your next jam session.
Bryan Berg, known as the Cardstacker, built a city skyline in celebration of Earth Day, from 22,000 recycled gift cards (although he usually stacks playing cards). 
  If you go to his site you'll see an entire hotel room that he created from hotel key cards.  

 Back to the realm of realistically-try-this-yourself, you might want to try making your own fancy paperclips or bookmarks by following the tutorial at Instructables.  I found them not easy to cut with an x-acto knife and I'm too lazy to get out my Dremel drill right now.
An etsy artist named Kim Baldwin at Lifeaccessories made this nice bracelet out of my favorite Starbucks card.  Swoon.
So, you've read THIS far down in a very long post, and you shall be rewarded.

 In  honor of my 1st Blogiversary, I will make a tiny notebook out of 2 recycled gift cards for each of you who leave me a message here on my blog. No, not on Facebook. No, not via email, but right here on the Barn of Opportunity comment log. Please celebrate the Barn of Opportunity by joining me in my first giveaway. While supplies last... which should be around my 2nd Blogiversary!