Archive for March, 2010

Swap-bot: Ostara Traveling Altar with Matchbox Shrine

This swap was my first large, multi-item swap for a group called “The Green Witch”.  It required an altar cloth, offering, Ostara decorations, letter about one’s path, and something special from receiver’s profile.  I decided to crochet a place mat for the altar cloth, which worked up pretty fast. I also made a crocheted egg, two rooster sickle feathers, two small candles I made years ago, some lavender, a bit of earth from my back yard,  and a matchbox shrine.  The dirt from my yard was something my partner requested. She’s collecting soil from around the world for a peace spell.  The only thing I bought to make this was some yellow cotton yarn, and I’m very glad because it was rather pricey to ship to Sweden!

Ostara Traveling Altar

Ostara Traveling Altar

Ostara Match Box Shrine

Ostara Matchbox Shrine, Font

Ostara Matchbox Shrine, Back

Swap-Bot: Ostara Handmade Postcard Swap

Here’s the latest postcard I made for swap-bot.  Just out of curiosity, if this postcard was for sale, would you buy it and for how much?  I’ve also been experimenting with Matchbox Shrines, I made a shrine to “The Green Man”  for a friend… to be posted soon.

Ostara Card

My Ostara Card made for Swap-bot

Barter and Trade In the Internet Age

Barter and trade are a pretty quaint way of getting the things you need or want or getting rid of your surplus. (Like my eggs.)  Here are some websites designed to facilitate the barter and trade of goods and services. Not all have a local focus but some can be organized for a local focus.

PaperBackSwap I’ve been a member of this site for several years and love it! I’ve gotten rid of many books I wanted to read. It’s not locally focused, and you do have to spend money on mailing out your books, but to request a book is free to you. You earn book credits when your requester marks your book as received. Costs are kept down by using media mail. And it’s not just for paper back books, its for any book, including audio books, which cost 2 credits. Recently they have added the sale of books where you can use your credits to lower the price.  If your the kind of person who is terrible at returning library books, this is a great alternative, if  you don’t mind the postage.  Oh, and just to let you know, it’s USA only, sorry! The same people also run DVD Swap and CD Swap. This is a neat site where people can trade in groups for just about anything! Mostly crafty people use it to make works of art of all kinds to swap.  I’ve done some hand made post card swaps, and crocheted item swaps.  Some people swap things in their crafting stash that they don’t want anymore. Some swaps are very specific and some are as vague, but all members have a profile that includes their preferences: things they collect, wish lists, and things they don’t like.  It’s a typical practice to send extra goodies in with the required swap items.  This site does have potential for local community building because you can form private swaps and private groups, based on a region. Once you join a swap, the site organizes and matches swap partners, and keeps a rating system to let people who when people are dishonest and join a swap without sending out their items. Of course you can avoid this by having private swaps and private groups. I think it would be fun for a large extended family spread all over the country to make a private group and exchange holiday gifts, one partner per family member, with a cost limit on the gift exchange.  The possibilities are really endless with this extremely flexible system.

Babysitter Exchange I just found this site and I love it! You can create communities of local people you know to exchange babysitting with. You start with a certian number of tokens and use them to “pay” for requested services, like babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, carpooling and other errands.  Groups of 5 or less are free. Larger groups have a paid premium membership. You can also have multiple communities, so if some friend live to the north, and some to the south, you can organize separate groups, though members in the middle can belong to both.  I’m always hurting for some childcare, and looking for someone to watch my chickens when we are away, so I’m really looking forward to using this service.

FreeCycle This is an email list where people can give just about anything away, as long as it’s free. You can also post “wanted” adds. It’s organized locally and the receiver picks up the item, no mailing.  The premise is that we should reuse old things instead of filling up our landfills.  If you hating getting a ton of irrelevant mail, you might not like this group, but you can always choose the no mail option and just read posts at the web site.



Cookbooks for Localvores, Slowfoodies, and Gardeners

I think the biggest barrier to people eating locally grown food is that we have forgotten how to cook! There are several cookbooks that focus on cooking from the garden, and here are the two I’ve gotten my hands on:

Simply in Season published by World Community Cookbooks is the book recommended by my CSA, Provident Organic Farms. When you join the CSA the first year, you also purchase this cookbook, and it’s been a real inspiration! It’s organized by season, and color coded so you can flip to the right seaon easily. The main veggie ingredients are listed on the sides in bold print, so it’s very easy to find what your looking for.  There is also an “All Seasons” section for cooking beans and breads with several make ahead mix recipes. Many recipes are vegetarian, but there are meat dishes as well, so something for everyone.  Each recipe has a little spiritual story that goes with it, that relates to food and our connection to the divine, from a Christian point of view, but as a Unitarian Universalist,  I can easily translate into something I’m more comfortable with.  At the web site, there is an intergenerational study guide for use in a church or Sunday School setting, which I am going to look into more.

The Greenthumb Cook Book by Anne Moyer is a new book my mom found for me used. I think it’s out of print, but you might find it at or ebay.   It’s organized by vegetable in alphabetical order, and features 61 different vegetables.  I’m looking forward to exploring it this growing season!

And last, but not least, my favorite online cookbook is Recipezaar! They have an excellent search engine where you can search for the ingredients you want or don’t want, and special things like crockpot cooking, or even “make ahead” meals. I listed my burrito recipe there, check it out! The recipes there also print out very nice. I have mine in a three ring binder.

And if you are still having trouble finding local food, don’t forget Local Harvest!