Tuesday, April 29, 2008

greenstarstudio: shop and save lives

buy handmade and help support the American Cancer Society!

on the heels of such success last month (sponsoring the MD SPCA), greenstarstudio is OFFICIALLY sponsoring a different charity each month and donating 5% of the profits from all etsy profits to the chosen cause. The charities will be listed along the side bar, with opportunities for people to donate anytime they want, directly to the cause, long after the designated month ends.
as an artist and a small business owner, it makes me proud to know i can make decisions and rally for change in a way that big chains and factories can't. i make art to change lives, simply put. And now, you can purchase art, to change lives.

and its with that, that i introduce the May cause of the month: the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. i'm not sure i know ANYONE who hasn't lost a loved one to cancer; who hasn't helped a friend with their own battle; who hasn't been affected, in some way, by this disease. I am choosing to support this cause, and this relay team in particular, because my brother-in-law, Bob, lost his mother, Connie, to ovarian cancer when he was in high school. and because the first funeral i ever attended was during my 7th grade year; my best friend called my house in tears in the middle of the night because her mother had lost her battle with breast cancer. and because it's the only way i know how to help the survivors and those struggling and fighting their own battle--- i can't cure it, by i can sure as heck help raise money for the those who might be able and all those who need them to.

from now until June 1st, 5% of ALL etsy sales etsy will donated to Carrie & Bob's team.

I've just completely re-vamped and stocked the etsy shop... so go ahead and UN-STOCK it!

If you'd like to skip the purchasing part and just make a donation directly, please go here: make a donation

thank you so much.
peace, health and lots of love.
xoxo, danamarie

Monday, April 28, 2008

we have a winner!

Emilie from Baltimore was the lucky winner of all of this great Baltimore loot! We will be posting our next giveaway soon, so if you want a chance to win, sign up for our mailing list now!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

B.E.S.T. at Eco Fest!

What a gorgeous day, and we met some lovely people! Thanks to SweetPepita, JenyGwen, and TheBrokenPlate for hanging out with me!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Finds- green gardens

aside from going to EcoFest, we're going to be spending some time in the garden this weekend... and here are some things i'm going to need...

a chime from recycled dinnerware to make soothing music... from dinnertimechimes

this fantastic birdhouse from barnwood, for our numerous bird friends.... from baconsquarefarm

and this guy to keep me company once my husband and daughter get bored and go inside - he's made from a recycled sweater and apparently he loves garden peas, so we'll get along just fine... from pogoshop

happy gardening, everyone!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Hmmmm.... What to do this weekend...

Join BEST members JenyGwen, JenMenkhaus, Miscelena and SweetPepita at the EcoFestival in Druid Hill Park! We'll be celebrating Baltimore Green Week and selling eco-friendly goodies for you and your family. Prepare yourself to fall in love with our park on a guided hiking or biking tour, discover how delicious and extraordinary vegan meals can be with fare from Yabba Pot, and just relax! Listen to music, enjoy art displayed in green space and maybe even learn a little something about how to take better care of your world.

And if that's not enough, this Sunday, April 27th, Bowerbox Press will be at the Day of the Book Festival in Kensington, MD. The fair is from 12 to 5, rain or shine. There will be authors, publishers, book artists, craftspeople, musicians and more!

Information is available at dayofthebook.com

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Confessions In Verse

Do you have something you need to get off your chest? Can you make it sound poetic? I think you can. Check out the Broken Plate Pendant Company's Random Poetry Break Contest and you could win this Diana Fayt pendant. You may have heard about this beautiful collaboration on Craft.

So now what you have to do is fess up. Go on, now. It's totally worth it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

making greenstarstudio a little greener

... and a little easier to hug.
loving a Knitimal™ is easy to do.
loving a Knitimal that has already been loved, uses existing reclaimed fabric and is STILL made without any new electricity or machines? SO much easier.

while i love knitting, and the process of generating a piece of soft sculpture, completely from scratch, there is something to be said for working with materials that have already been produced are in need of some good lovin'. see, i have this sweater... well, i HAD this sweater, and i loved it wholly. wear and tear wore and tore the dear thing until wearing it wasn't an option anymore. it was either put patches all over it (easily a dozen would've been necessary) and hope that knit wool defied its natural tendencies to unravel, OR scrap it. with all the trash piling up, that hardly seemed an option.

...making a brand new kind of Knitimal out of it, however, seemed the only option.

As a consumer, i try to be as environmentally savvy as possible--- i buy local and handmade whenever possible, i re-use water bottles, recycle everything, use bio-degradable doggie waste bags and such. As an artist, i am trying to be as aware as possible of my footprint and perhaps more important, my artwork's footprint. i create new things in a world that already HAS a lot of things... so i try to balance the scales a little. with the Knitimals, i hand knit and hand sew the pieces and i already don't use a sewing machine (the only electricity i need to work is a lightbulb in my studio... and it is energy efficient). i buy yarn locally and in massive batches, so i don't have to drive too often to get it; my 2D work is primarily collage based and i keep and use scraps of everything... so why not apply that to the art dolls as well? exactly my point.

and so, in honor of Earth Day, i am happy to introduce "re-nay", the first (of many) Recyclimals (Recycled Knitimals). one beloved sweater, cut up and pieced back together by hand, stuffed with clean, reclaimed soft poly filling and bits of old sweater. she's just as super soft as an original Knitimal, those soft sculpture sweeties made with only the finest materials and like all Knitimals, she was made without a pattern and is completely unique.

recyclimals, like knitimals are "art dolls"--- they make great gifts for new babies, art lovers, doll collectors and those-hard-to-shop-fors who love the one-of-a-kind. each knitimal comes with a hand drawn name tag (which features the 'story of the knitimals'), a 'caring for your knitimal' tag and a "certificate of auth-yarn-ticity™".

Do you have an old sweater that you LOVE but it no longer fits or a blanket from your childhood that you just cannot bear to part with? I'll turn your favorite old sweater into a handmade piece of art out of something you already love!

to adopt a Recyclimal (or any other earth friendly find, please visit me here
(and, to do just a little more good... now through June 1st, 5% of all my etsy sales will benefit the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life, the greenstarstudio May charity)

Monday, April 21, 2008

that's one GIANT mural!

i'm about to turn this...

into this...

or maybe it's the other way around... either way, starting this saturday, april 19th, I'll be painting my latest mural on the back side (loading dock area) of the Giant Supermarket in Waverly (off 33rd street). my panel is approximately 29' by 19' and i'll be working on it for the next couple weeks (if you want to stop by and bring me lemonade or a chiropractor). this mural project (there are 3 other artists working on 5 other panels) is kicking off the 2008 mural season and made possible by the baltimore city office of promotion and the arts, whom i love and i can't wait to see how they turn out! also-- for you local folks, we're supposed to get a fair amount of media coverage on saturday, so i'd like each of you to sign up for a different news station and/ or newspaper and comb through the sound bites and photos for any mention of me.... since i'll be painting and not so much able to watch tv. xoxo, danamarie

Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday (Recycled) Finds!

It was hard to pick just one frame to share from SecondLineFrames, a shop that constructs frames from salvaged wood siding after Hurricane Katrina.
You just gotta love Margaux Lange's use of recycled Barbie dolls in these orange eye earrings!

This large messenger bag from Reiter8 is made from recycled sail boat sails.
Life Underground collage by viviennestrauss was done on illustration board using paint, ink, and recycled science textbook illustrations.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Flower Power at the EcoFest!

Just got these done...thanks to the fellas over at Squidfire! And just in time for the EcoFest in Druid Hill Park next Saturday! Stop by our booth and check out some of BEST's participating artists!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Val Lucas - Bowerbox Press

I've always been an artist- my parent's house is full of drawings and paintings, ranging from second grade to more recent prints. My first art competition was in fifth grade, when I entered the Junior Duck Stamp contest at the urging of Mrs. Bourke, my art teacher. I think I got first place in my age group- and continued to enter through high school, getting firsts and seconds but never winning. Throughout school I drew all the time, painted, made little sculptures and projects nonstop. In junior year of high school I realized, hey I am an artist- since I spend all my time in the art room, painting and drawing, maybe I should go to art school! Before that I had not really thought about what to do- I was good in all my subjects- physics, biology (I loved biology- especially the insect collection project!), english, calculus- but I hadn't thought about college. After I decided to go to art school my calculus teachers were heartbroken. I started to concentrate on getting my portfolio ready for art school applications.

I ended up at the Maryland Institute College of Art, thinking that I would major in painting. However, being exposed to new techniques made me choose General Fine Arts as my major, and I tried a little bit of everything. Painting, drawing, ceramics, and printmaking- I fell in love with printmaking in my first screenprinting class. I began using a lot of bird and pattern imagery in my work, and learning more printmaking techniques such as etching, lithography and relief printing. (I remember once, after finishing a large linoleum cut, saying that I really didn't like relief printing and if I never saw a linoleum block again I wouldn't be sad. Now that has changed completely!)

After my freshman year the Duck Stamp entries came into play- I got a call from the Delta Waterfowl Research center in Manitoba, Canada, about doing an artist residency for the summer. I jumped at the chance and spent the summer living in a cabin on the shore of Lake Manitoba, painting landscapes and watching birds. There was a bird observatory where I got to help with banding and counting migrating birds, and the research station where I helped with duck research and learned about the diving habits of Spectacled Eiders. I had two small solo shows and came home ready to keep working.

During my junior year I was encouraged to apply for the study abroad program, and spent a semester in Aix-en-Provence, France. Along with a dozen other art students, I worked in a 17th century monastery in Aix and traveled around the south of France. Since our studio was not well ventilated, there was no oil painting allowed- so I began to track my travels with watercolor maps of remembered places. I made a painting for each day's journey, and later created books of a collected month. My time in France was definitely my favorite semester- I loved the different atmosphere, the crows that came cawing into the city at night, the new birds (flamingos, magpies, and pheasants) and the varied landscape available to me by a long walk or a bus ride.
I continued collecting my daily journeys when I returned, but also took my first letterpress class- I walked into the room full of cases of type, big old machinery and the smell of ink- and knew that this was for me. I also had an internship at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center, where I learned how to make paper and perfected my printing and bookbinding skills. I also returned to relief printing, after realizing that I could carve an image and print it along with the type on these presses.

After graduation, I rescued a hundred year old letterpress from a basement in Baltimore and spent 2 months fixing it up. I didn't have huge plans yet, I thought that maybe the press would be fun. Now, 2 and a half years after graduation, I have my printing business up and running (slowly), and I'm optimistic about the future.

Bowerbox Press is a way for me to keep doing all the things I love- I set type by hand, carve woodblocks of birds, and incorporate the imagery and text into cards and fine art prints. I'm working on an artist's book, as well as a line of greeting cards and stationery. I love the processes involved in printing- everything is dependent on every step of the way. I love to be able to be part of each step- making the paper, setting the type, cutting the image, printing each and every piece of paper by hand, binding the book. It makes my artwork unique and unrepeatable, and I can truly say, I made this. Every piece of it.

In addition to printing, I am teaching the occasional workshop on printing and presses. I'm helping Towson University get a letterpress shop together, and I also am keeping in touch with the people who've been printing all their lives- to keep their knowledge and skill alive in an increasingly digital world.

Post written by BowerboxPress

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Drink Up!

Looking for something to do After the SPCA's March for the Animals? Celebrate the tradition of home wine making in Highlandtown! After all, marching works up a good thirst.

Come and join the Highlandtown Wine Festival taking place this Sunday, April 20, 1 - 6 PM at Our Lady of Pompei Convent Garden at Father Petti Lane, around the corner from Conkling & Claremont Streets.

Grab a wine glass and sample the entries in the 5th Annual Homemade Wine Competition. And bask in springtime air among the newly renovated courtyard complete with new stone work and newly planted grape vines. Watch the pros perform in the Bocce Tournament, enjoy the food and rockabilly music by the Flea Bops. BEST member Tigerlillyshop will also be there selling a variety of her jewelry.

Tickets are available at Di Pasquale's Italian Market (3700 Gough Street, Baltimore 410-276-6787), Mastellone Deli & Wine (7212 Harford Road, Baltimore 410-444-5433), and at the door.

For additional information see www.highlandtown.com

The Highlandtown Community Association and Di Pasquale's Italian Market sponsor the fifth annual Highlandtown Wine Festival.

Post written by TigerLillyShop

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Make Your Own Homemade Natural Deodorant

Without doubt, anything that is natural is going to better for you and your skin when compared to something that is packed with chemicals and fillers.

Many commercial deodorants brands contain skin irritants (e.g. SLS, DEA), aluminum, synthetic fragrance, or other chemicals and can make your skin sore. Antiperspirants are even worse! Thankfully, there are natural alternatives to kill odor causing bacterias! Herbal deodorants are super effective since many of them have strong anti-bacterial properties.

Here a recipe for you to make your own natural deodorant that you can try if you have sensitive skin or if you would just prefer a natural method of deodorant. This natural deodorant will allow the release of perspiration, but will prevent odor by combating it with antiseptic essential oils, which kill odor-causing bacteria. You should be able to find these items in any health store or reputable supplies online.

You'll need:

1/2 cup cocoa butter

9 oz. beeswax

1 cup coconut oil

2 tbsp thyme essential oil

2 tbsp rosemary essential oil

1 Tbsp tea tree essential oil

2 tbsp lavender essential oil

2 tbsp castor oil

1 cup baking soda (Sift the baking soda to avoid lumps that are really hard to get out.)

Melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter and the beeswax in double boiler pan on top of stove, directly on stove top on very low heat setting or microwave it in a safe glass. Remove from heat and add the castor and essential oils and stir with a skewer stick. Pour into a new or used deodorant container and allow to solidify. This recipe will make about 12 tubes of deodorants. You may adjust the recipe to make less.

Other Oils for Deodorant Blends

Patchouli – sweet and musky, moisturizing to the skin, attracts abundance

Peppermint and Spearmint – cooling and purifying, clean-smelling

Eucalyptus – tonic to the skin, gentle and soothing, refreshing

Melaleuca – fight bacteria, astringent

Reputable Essential Oils vendor: http://www.edenbotanicals.com/

If you don’t feel like messing around with essential oils, waxes and butters, you can find natural and vegan handmade deodorants at Spa Therapy Works

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The V-Day Event Of The Decade

Eve Ensler, started a global movement when her play “The Vagina Monologues” hit the stage in the mid ‘90’s. Since then, thousands of grassroots performances have raised more than $50 million and financed more than 5,000 community-based anti-violence programs, supported anti-violence legislation and education as well as safe houses around the world.

V To The Tenth will take place Friday - Saturday, April 11-12 at the New Orleans Arena and Louisiana Superdome bringing thousands of women and men to the city to celebrate V-Day’s ten years of ending violence against women and girls, and to honor the women of New Orleans and the Gulf South.

The Superdome will be transformed into Superlove - a place to heal, gather, celebrate and activate to change the story of women. Superlove will feature two days of revolutionary speakers, slam poets, singers, performers, storytelling, astounding art, and love. Special wellness programs will be available free of charge for the women of the Gulf South including restorative yoga, massage, medical testing, makeovers, and more!

Tiny pink tacos from TigerLillyShop

As if all of this wasn’t enough, a star-studded performance will close the two-day celebration on Saturday evening, April 12 at 7:30pm. Together on one stage - Salma Hayek, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda (to name a few) will take the stage on this V-Day for a once in a lifetime benefit event featuring performances of The Vagina Monologues.

Post written by TigerLillyShop

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Another Kind of Green

Shopping locally does much more for our community than save the fossil fuels it takes to ship products produced in another country to the United States and then truck them from one cost to the other and back again. It keeps money in our neighborhoods.

It's pretty well known that local businesses tend to be good at giving back to the community by donating merchandise, profits and time to local charities. Already, in just one month, members of BEST have raised $476.70 for the animals at the Maryland SPCA. We've been super busy asking our friends and family for donations and giving percentages of our sales. There is still time for you to help, too!

You can donate directly through our pack page. Thank you so much for all of your donations and support!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Earth Alley in Hampden

I met Eva and her husband at Pile of Craft last year. They were busily preparing for the opening of Earth Alley, their new store in Hamden dedicated to supporting international crafters and local artisans that incorporate sustainable practices or just have a love for the earth. Since then, Eva has opened her store and it has grown into quite a little environmentally-friendly destination. She is a wonderful outlet for local artists and even hosts First Friday events where you can meet some of the artists she showcases. If you are in the area, please stop buy and say hello to Eva and see some wonderful environmentally-conscious & fair-trade items including jewelry from our own Allison Fomich of TigerLillyShop and me, TheBrokenPlate! To keep up with Earth Alley, you can check in with their blog, Eva is just getting started!

Megan of Van Wagoner Studios

Born in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, I grew up in a community filled with artists, musicians and lots of mid-west practicality. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to create things––bridges, buildings––I wasn't sure what, but I wanted it to be useful. It wasn't until I started my studies in engineering that I realized art was my calling.

After a year at Northwestern University, I returned home to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art. The ceramics department was a natural fit. I learned both the science and sociology of making pots and was inspired by the variety of expression I saw around me. As I became more interested in communicating, I added sculpture to my repertoire and began to branch out into other materials. By the time I completed my BFA I was working on two concurrent bodies of work––sculpture for the gallery, pots for the home.

In few years later I began graduate studies at the Maryland Institute College of Art in the Mount Royal School. Open-ended and encouraging of mixed-media exploration, the Mount Royal School is where I began actively using the computer to document my mixed media installations. After two years of study I graduated and began working as a graphic designer. Passionate about the value of aesthetics in our everyday lives, it was easy to become completely engulfed in the world of design. It took me a couple of years to get out from under my desk and back to a gritty hands-on studio.

In 2002 I started teaching––design workshops at Johns Hopkins University, then graphic design courses at the University of Maryland, and now ceramics at Montgomery College. For me teaching has become an integral part of making stuff and provides inspiration for actively experimenting in the studio. While themes run through my work for years at a time, I am always looking for a new way to express them and leave it to students to get you thinking in new and exciting ways.

Post written by VWStudios

Monday, April 7, 2008

Maps At the Top of the World

Our own Val Lucas from BowerBoxPress
Baltimore Memory Map
Acrylic on carved wood piece reconstructs a personal view of the city through memories of journeys and time spent living in Baltimore. The overall map reflects the areas that are part of her experience, leaving blank the areas where she never goes.

387 Feet Above

Opening reception, Saturday, April 12, 6-9:30pm (free admission this night!)

Top of the World Observation Level
World Trade Center Baltimore
Exhibition runs March 29 - June 8, 2008

8:00pm (a five sided improvisational musical piece organized by Geoff Grace and performed by Nick Barna, Jay DiLisio, Eric Franklin, Geoff Grace, Twig Harper, Yutaka Houlette, Marc Miller, Jared Paolini, Carly Ptak, and Jason Willet

Artists Kini Collins, Chas. Foster, Brian Garner, Geoff Grace, Sam Christian Holmes, Julie Jankowski, Lisa Lewenz, Val Lucas, C. Ryan Patterson, Craig & David Purcell, Lynn Silverman, Rachel Valsing

Curated by Gary Kachadourian

387 Feet Above is exhibition of new works that involve mapping Baltimore using views from the Top of the World observation deck. The artists have made works that are installed on panels on the perimeter rails of the space. Baltimore's Festival of Maps is a citywide event from March to June 2008 featuring unique exhibitions and public programs that celebrate maps throughout history - from the artistic to the scientific, from the ancient to the contemporary.

The visitor to the Top of the World Observation Level will see breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of Charm City, 387 feet above the Inner Harbor. Located in the world's tallest pentagonal building, the World Trade Center-Baltimore, visitors will be impressed, inspired and engaged by a bird's eye view of one of America's greatest cities. Learn about Local Landmarks that have created the dramatic skyline, Famous Firsts that have helped build the city, historic events that have shaped a nation and the vibrant people, cultures and communities that have contributed richly to the arts, science and rich historic lore.

More information here. See you there!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

april giveaway!

Here it is- the eagerly-awaited second BEST giveaway. Featuring an awesome kid's shirt from SweetPepita, made of a repurposed t-shirt and organic cotton; a printed dishtowel from JennyJen42 (why use paper ones?); a notepad from JenyGWen, pendants from Anapurna and GwenWalls, earrings from JillPopowich, headband and bow set from CookiesBowBoutique, a recycled plate ring from TheBrokenPlate, and a brooch from JenMenkhaus.

You know you want it, so sign up now for our mailing list! Winner will be announced on April 26th - good luck!

Crafty Casting Call (How to Get on TV)

Crafters get your 5 mins of fame! The producers of HGTV's "Creative Juice" are casting for a new show all about crafting! It will be guest based and I am suspecting you would be demonstrating your craft. But wouldn't it be great if it was challenge oriented like "Project Runway?" That would really pique my interest.

Imagine me, furiously firing my enamels in my kiln, down to the wire, my pieces keep melting because I am so distracted by the other contestants bickering, sawing, hammering, and constant whir of their sewing machines- cut to my confessional, where I break down sobbing pleading that "it's not my turn to go home."

And then the runway- or maybe it will be a booth display, it's between me and one other crafter. There is a guest craft buyer weighted down by her bags of purchases. Her gaze sweeps over my work, then she hesitantly touches one of my pendants, almost, almost she lays it back down and moves to the next booth.

Heidi Klum appears, and the familiar line is delivered, 2 kisses, and it's back to Charm City for me.

Sigh, but this is not for me, or for anyone over the ripe old age of 28- yep, that's right! That is the one outstanding pre-requisite. So all you young whippersnapper crafters "get your craft on" and apply, I am positively ancient and have "aged out." Now where's my cane, I've got to get back to work!

For more info on the casting call go to:

Post written by dandelionblu

Friday, April 4, 2008

Friday (recycled) Finds.

April showers pouch from ReFabulous.
Recycled Skateboard Belt Buckle from 2ReVert.

RED ROVER vintage flashlight dog sculpture from Artsy.

Pleasance the Bird from Cookoorikoo.
Slash ball ring from Poolballrings.

Spring Bags

Our very own JennyJen 42 in this month's issue of Baltimore Magazine! That's her super-cute Mr. Owl Bag on the left.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Pottock Wallpapers

Our houses are really our biggest ongoing craft project so it is important to make environmentally conscious choices when possible. When I discovered these wallpaper designs I thought I had to piggy-back on Sweet Pepita's post about home improvement. Designed by Pottock, these colorful modern wallpapers are hand silk screened wallpapers using water based inks, without chemical treatments and on recycled paper by artist Geoff McFetridge.

Spring Vision

As BlockPartyPress posted recently, the glory of spring has sprung and our creativity is as fertile as April flowers! After a long winter “idea slump” I’m been excited to have some new energy and fresh inspiration. Unfortunately, with so many ideas on tap, I’ve begun to suffer from idea-overload paralysis. What to do first?! Yikes!

So, on a recent sunny Sunday, I headed down to the American Visionary Art Museum for a long overdue visit and a different sort of inspiration. The thing about visionary – or outsider – artists is that they create because they HAVE to. They don’t make stuff in the name of profit, or creativity, or good design or even to have fun (all good reasons to make stuff, by the way). Rather, they are driven to create based on an internal need, or a higher calling. I’m deeply inspired by this just-going-and-doing-it kind of mentality.

The current exhibit, which runs through August, is called All Faiths Beautiful. While there are lots of great paintings and sculpture, there is also a bounty of crafty stimulation in the form of quilts (check out Chris Roberts-Antieau’s delightfully quirky textile creations) and some stunning mosaics. Additionally, Maryland’s own visionary, Frank Warren of PostSecret fame, contributed dozens of faith-related post cards for the exhibit. More inspiration for the spontaneity of “doing”!

For folks outside of the Baltimore area, PBS has your dose of visionary art inspiration with their production, Off the Map. Off the Map features the work of 10 visionary artists “who have transformed their world in rare and startling ways.” Wow. You better believe, I’m ready to go make some stuff now!

Post and images by StephanieCake

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

(Re) Build

We here at BEST are no strangers to rehabbing old houses. More than a couple of our members have brought geriatric homes back their dignity while embracing their history, quirks, flaws and all. Rehabilitation is no small task. Of course, going into it, everyone truly believes they'll be finished in a month or two. And if we didn't believe that, if our judgment wasn't clouded by crazy, we would never ever have even tried.

Fortunately for Baltimore residents, we have one amazing resource to aid us in our home improvement journey. The Loading Dock is a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing reusable building materials to our community. "You could build a house with what people throw away." Yes. Yes, you can.

The benefits to supporting and utilizing everything the Loading Dock has to offer are not only financial (we tiled our kitchen and bathroom with slate we found here for about $1/ square foot), but oh so environmentally responsible. I can remember waiting in line at their location on the West side, before they moved to their new warehouse, and staring at a poster that was tacked high up on the wall. It was of a toilet. I can't remember what it said exactly, but it was something like, "imagine how many years it would take for this to break down."

They also offer workshops on cabinet refinishing, tile and linoleum installation, masonry, and more. If you are renovating or rehabbing, go here first. You will be amazed by what you will find.