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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Wear it!" Wednesday

Whew-- finished with the the Gift Guide fun and back to Wear it Weds.!

And what better of a way to get back into the swing of things than with this little darling! Meet Jace. Jace's mother, Beth, has the super cool blog, The Fabulous Won. She recently was kind enough to review barley & birch. We loved that she gave her own shout out to the groups we love and support.

But back to darling Jace. Jace is "crazy, loud" and a stranger to no man! His mother also reports that he requests to watch the movie Cars at least 10 times a day and loves playing with his Hot Wheels and "Bear Bear" that he received from his Great Grandma.

Jace's smile goes from ear to ear and can truly brighten anyone's day with it.

Well, we think that that is just the perfect way to end 2009 dose of Wear It Wednesday-- with a happy darling little boy.

Thanks to Beth and Jace for the photos!

Friday, December 18, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 12th Day-- A Hug.

The holidays really aren't about giving gifts.

The holiday season is about sharing love with friends, family, and members of your community. Giving material gifts might help express that love, but the gifts do not validate or define it.
So this holiday, feel free to not give a single gift or donation to any of the causes listed these eleven days. Instead, give your giftee's a hug and sincerely tell them what they mean to you and that you appreciate their presence in your life more than they might realize. That is what the gifts are intended to do, but you will find that verbally expressing the sentiments communicates them much more effectively than giving a sweater. Or you could write a note. Or a poem. Sharing love and kindness with those around you is what the holidays are for, not gifts.

Thank you all for being a part of barley & birch's wonderful community. Each of us loves you all and we appreciate the opportunity to have connected with you once or every day since we opened our doors. Have a wonderful holiday season.

(Photo above is of Alia and I posing in a neighbor's yard. Wow, right?)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 11th Day-- Donation to their local library.

As the economy struggles to revive itself, one area that is still struggling is our public libraries. People are doing things increasingly digitally and I am told that libraries are becoming things of the past.
Well, I don't agree with that nor am I willing to accept it.

I loved, and still love, my local library (pictured above) and could spend whole days there just lost in all the neat books that those walls contained.
Do you know a bookworm? Make a monetary donation to the library in their neighborhood and you will give them the most meaningful gift you can give-- sharing the love of books with their community.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 10th Day-- Water.

"Right now, almost a billion people on the planet don't have access to safe, clean drinking water. That's one in eight of us."

charity: water is an incredible non-profit organization. Their tireless efforts to bring a source of clean water to developing areas all over the world are truly infinitely inspiring to me and everyone involved with them.

One thing I love about them is that 100% of your donation goes directly to serve the people you want it to serve, as the group's administrative costs are covered by other private donors.

I also love that they do great work in my beloved Haiti, where clear water is like gold.

charity: water asserts that $20 can give one person clean water for 20 years.

I love their gift section. For those giftee's that don't like a printed certificate or photo of what you have done to honor them, charity: water has bracelets, certificates, and DVDs explaining what they do and where the money went.

Giving the gift of water- something that so many of us take for granted- is a wonderful gift for absolutely any friend.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 9th Day-- Give to their alma mater

This is one of the most touching gifts that I have been given.

I give money away a lot. But its not my personal money, its that of barley & birch. So I forget to donate on a personal level. I, therefore, don't give to my alma mater, DePauw, very much. Last year for my birthday, a friend made a $25 donation to DePauw in my honor. I was absolutely floored. It was amazing. My heart was endlessly warmed and I will never forget it.

A donation to your giftee's alma mater is a touching way of expressing that you are thankful for the person their university (or high school or junior high school) made them and wanted to pay tribute to that.

Were they a soccer player? You could donate to the soccer program. Geology major? Donate to the geology field trip fund.

Giving a gift to a friend's alma mater is the gift to give someone you deeply respect who enjoyed their undergraduate (or highschool or junior high school) education.

You will warm their heart in a way that no other gift can.

Monday, December 14, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 8th Day-- Donation to local school.

I personally often fall victim to thinking too globally. I think of the people I lived with in El Salvador and their school that needed new books. I think of the schools in Haiti that had an unclean and inconsistent water source. I donate there. I worry about the schools there. Schools around the world consume my thoughts. I rarely remember to think of the school a block from my house.
But the reality of it all is that thousands of schools here are in dire need of just a little boost of support. A few gallons of tempura paint so the kids can paint rather than only draw, a years' supply of facial tissues (24 boxes or so), a big box of extra pencils, extra crayons, anything. Domestic public schools are often hurting for basic supplies. Have an artist friend? Call the public school close to her home and ask what the art teacher would like that they can purchase for $100 or so. Donate the money to the school there, so the kids that attend the school can have as enriching an education as possible. Have a musical friend? See if the music teachers has any kids unable to afford a recorder for the annual recital, unable to pay their membership into and after school music lesson, or unable to attend an upcoming field trip. Cover the costs in honor of your friend and let them now. Enriching your local schools benefits absolutely everyone in the school and community. And the U.S. as a whole. Give the gift of an enriched education this year. (Photo above is of my elementary school in small town Ohio. I can still sing my school song perfectly and am infinitely grateful for the education I received there.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 7th Day-- A chicken.

No, for real. A chicken!

Before you laugh too hard, I will acknowledge that this gift is not for everyone. But I would like to posit that this gift can be for more people than you might imagine. More and more of my friends and colleagues in the world-changing field are getting a pair or trio of chickens for their backyard.

Getting a chicken or two is easier than you might think. Build/buy them a little space and pen (say, your old dog house) get some feed, and you will have healthy, FREE, eggs for the lifetime of the chicken. You can take your chicken to your local butcher if you choose to eat meat, and buy some replacement chicks (or have your hens' eggs fertilized by your rooster or one loaned by a local farmer.) One of my friends recently told me that her local farmers market has a vendor selling a coop and a hen together, so you can just take it home and get farming!

Raising your own eggs is a great way to learn about, and likely find a new deep respect for, what goes into creating the food we eat. Such an education would also create healthy, well-rounded children who have an actual understanding of the food chain and can make their dietary choices accordingly.

The best part? You don't need to have acres of land to have chickens! Many websites, most notably Back Yard Chickens, provide information for urban chicken raising!

The most important thing for this gift is communication and education. Be sure that your giftee is in a position to successfully undertake the project and eager to raise their own eggs. Go chat up the employees at your local farm supply store or call one near you for tips.

Raising chickens is the next step, and hottest trend, for the darkest green of us.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 6th Day-- Heifer International

Heifer International is an awesome organization that use agriculture/livestock as the seed of global change.

You can donate a water buffalo to a Filipino family, who will then use it to plan more rice, haul goods to market for sale, and rent to neighbors for their own work. Or you can donate some honeybees, who will be a source of income through the sale of beeswax, honey, and pollen.

Don't have the funds to buy a huge animal?
There is also the option to buy a "share" in a larger animal. That way, you will still work to donate a heifer (because you want a family to have the benefits associated with one) but will not need to foot the entire bill yourself!)
You can also make a donation where is it most needed. Another part about Heifer International that I love is that they have a great woman-focused initiative. A donation to the initiative is a great gift to give your niece or goddaughter. As women, its important to help other women, as they make up the vast majority of people living in poverty.

This gift is great for your economics-loving friend.
The founding principles of
Heifer International are to give people around the world the tools they need to sustain their families' health and create a source of income to allow them to work their way out of poverty with pride and dignity. A gift of a sustainable income source, such as a llama to be used for fleece and fertilization, affects not only the family given one, but the entire community.

Giving a friend the gift of helping a family to make a living is truly priceless.

Friday, December 11, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 5th Day-- Donation to local SPCA or county animal shelter

One of my favorite gifts to give people is a photo of me holding a big bag of dog food.

While this might not seem like a gift you would like to receive, what it symbolizes makes a difference to the furry friends living at your (or your giftee's) local animal shelter.

Animal shelters are ALWAYS in need of food, money, and time.
This means that there are endless ways to give back and make a difference.

Grab a huge bag of dog food and donate it in honor of your babysitter or postman. Make a monetary donation to the SPCA in honor of your child's piano teacher that you know loves her kitties.

Don't forget breed-particular rescue organizations, either! Know someone who loves their Labrador? Make a donation to a lab rescue. Know someone who can't stop cuddling with their snuggly pit bull puppy (me!)? Make a donation to a hard working pit bull rehabilitation group in their name.

In my experience, this is the best gift to give someone who has it all and adores animals. It will touch their hearts infinitely and go a long way to serve a group of living beings so often neglected, abused, and unloved.

Many shelters often have the option of purchasing a brick in honor or memory of both people and pets. Our neighbors did that when our dog passed after 15 happy years. Inquire about an option if you know your gift recipient is mourning a recent pet loss.

Low on cash? Get signed up as volunteers, and go into the local shelter and volunteer for a day in someone's honor. Take a quick photo of yourselves washing those dirty dogs, print it out, and include it in a card explaining what you did for the giftee. Remember, the thought that went into it will blow your giftee away. And as with the other gifts, teach your little ones that volunteering in a thoughtful way can make people even happier than material goods.

Change the world one little kitten at a time!

(P.S. Photo above is of the newest addition to our family, Pit Bull/German Shepherd mix Theo. We love him just TONS.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 4th Day-- Membership in local CSA

One way to make a big difference in your local community is to purchase your food from local farmers.

Sometimes it's difficult to track down local food, though! Where are the best farmers' markets? What stores sell local food? One of my favorite sites, Local Harvest, takes all the sleuth work out of it! Just type in your location, and find farmers' markets, Community Supported Agriculture ("CSA") groups, food co-ops, U-Picks, and more! It's really amazing.

So, a great gift for a friend or entire family could be a share in a CSA! Find one near your giftee on Local Harvest, and give them a call! You will be supporting your local farmers and community as a whole. You pick the quantity of food to be picked up at a central location at your choice of time, and they get it. (For a price point reference, our CSA, which feeds 8 people, is $350/year. For a single person, you can find great plans starting from $50-80.)

What a great gift for anyone that likes to eat and loves their community!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 3rd Day-- TerraPass Car Offsets

This is admittedly a gift for at least a light green friend.

Everyone is trying to be eco-friendly in some fashion. Some are very light green and others are a deep, intense shades of mistletoe-esque green.

In these economic times, all shades of green as thinking "Well, I should probably do something to offset my carbon emissions, what with COP-15 going on in Copenhagen, etc. Wait, $75?! Ughhhh, I'll think about it."

So why not offset for them? Like a carbon offset angel!

TerraPass is a well-respected, highly accredited group that offers a year's worth of offsets for an average car, air travel, an individual, and a family of four.

We at barley&birch like TerraPass because they back up their claims. Their reductions are confirmed by a third party. Annually, they are audited to confirm that their final reductions reports are accurate. Essentially, you get what you see and what you pay for.

We LOVE businesses like that. (:

Do you love your light green friends? You should offset their emissions this year!


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 2nd Day-- Oxfam Unwrapped

I love

When I was in El Salvador, I worked alongside an Oxfam staffer for 2 weeks. 4 years later, the same volunteer is still there. She lives on nothing and works tirelessly-- and I really mean tirelessly-- for justice for the people in rural areas of El Salvador. She inspires me infinitely despite possibly not even remembering that I exist.

Regardless, seeing the impact that one limb of Oxfam can do in the seemingly most hopeless of situations, made a permanent impact on me and barley & birch donates to them often.

They have a neat way of helping, however, that lets you choose the area to which your money goes. It is called Oxfam Unwrapped and makes the most perfect gift.

Oxfam Unwrapped is my most gifted gift of all time. Ever. All occasions. Why? It's not just an honorary donation, it shows deeper thought.

You can give your nephew school books. You could give your sister a school lunch for a child for a year. Or give your mother-in-law a stove. Give your husband manure. And your brother a cow. I mean, really, when you look, can't you think of the perfect person for each gift?

The possibilities are truly endless and I assure you that this will warm the heart of the recipient, everyone in the room, and, of course, the beneficiaries all over the world.

Giving Oxfam Unwrapped is a great way of showing your children that you don't need to give the newest, trendiest gifts to make others happy in a very thoughtful way.

Change the world with your holiday gifts.


Monday, December 7, 2009

GIFT GUIDE: 1st Day-- Miriam's Kitchen

Well, if you know me at all, you know that I love Miriam's Kitchen. I volunteered there while I was doing my internship in D.C.

Needless to say I was instantly inspired.

What is so cool about them? They feed and support D.C.'s homeless.

Oh, and not only do they just feed their guests, they feed them DELICIOUS food that they put a lot of time and energy into, because every single staffer and volunteer believes that their guests deserve that respect and dignity. They provide case management services including mental health, medical and substance abuse services and assistance finding housing and employment.

Every single person there goes above and beyond to help the people that many overlook.

So for a gift this Christmas, we think it'd be really cool if you would support Miriam's. And the awesome thing is that you can SEE where your donations go.

With a $25 donation, you will provide the food for a healthy, homemade breakfast for 15 homeless men and women. A typical menu includes scrambled eggs with salmon, fresh sauteed vegetables, fruit salad and made-from-scratch biscuits.

With a $50 donation, you will provide transportation to doctor appointments and job interviews to 40 homeless men and women.

With a $100 donation, you will provide art supplies for our After-Breakfast Program's Art Therapy class. New paintbrushes, watercolors and canvases will provide our guests with even more resources to express their creativity.

With a $500 donation, you will provide one day of case management services to 80 of our guests.

Wouldn't a gift of art supplies for Miriam's guests be the best holiday gift to give your neighbors? Wouldn't it be neat to fund an entire Miriam's breakfast as your office gift? Or provide case management services in honor of your child's teacher? I think so.


You could make it a project for the kids, boxing up extra blankets and Daddy's jeans he never wears. To top it off you could swing by the store and get a few pairs of socks. For $15 you can make in immense difference in the lives of others while teaching your children what it means to give back to the global community.

Think about it. (:


Our Holiday Gift Guide- introduction

We are majorly loving the gift guides flowing about out there. They have the cutest stuff and tons are showcasing the adorably chic side of eco gifts. I've learned a ton from the gift guides I've already seen.

But I wanted to put together barley & birch's own guide. One that, like our products, can be your purely good and globe-friendly option!

post will follow daily for, you guessed it, 12 days! I hope you love it. (: Love, Kyle

(yes, that is me in the photo with my best friend Michelle who is dressed normally.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

2 truths & a lie: Amber from RockerByeBaby

Who: Amber

Owner of RockerByeBaby, a super cool rocker-y line of kids clothing, blogger extraordinaire.

Why we are obsessed
Amber is awesome. She is so fun to work with. We love them so much that we designed a graphic and tee for them! Amber is so REAL. Her emails are hilarious 100% of the time. We, oh and several celebs, are obviously drawn to her designs and take on kidswear. It doesn't always have to be trucks and ponies. Some kids were just born to be COOL. (barley & birch obviously can't pull off cool like RockerByeBaby can, but we are okay just settling with our neato Cactus.) We look forward to
Tweeting with Amber every day. (:

But Amber is going to LIE to you all.

She says:

"I just got married back in July and all weekend have been working on
photo albums... dvd's and all that Jazz... so while Im still riding
the wedding high, i think ill quiz you on that :) We had pretty much
the most perfectly punk rock chic wedding ever... Kyle Knows, i made
her look at all the photos :) I'm even tagging along two photos just to
really throw you for a loop :)"

1. Our entire wedding party wore Converse shoes, including me.
2. My girls wore stripper dresses.

3. My wedding dress was under $150.

Submit guesses below.

P.S. For the record, her wedding pictures are amazing cool. See evidence above.