Many of us are downsizing and de-cluttering. Some because we have the time on our hands and it’s enjoyable, some preparing to move to a smaller place, some because kids/families are growing and we don’t need/fit the items anymore.
At this same time, many of the places we usually drop off our de-cluttering donations are not accepting donations at this time, and indoor Free Swapping activities are mostly on hold. Where can we put all our de-cluttered stuff?
How about a Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swap? For an example, we live in a walkable neighborhood where there is lots of foot traffic. I’ve strung a line between our street trees and have been hanging up clothes I no longer need/use love, with a ‘free’ sign. I also have a large cardboard box in the parking strip with a ‘free’ sign. It’s fun to watch neighbors walk by and look through the goodies, and see the joy on their faces as they take things they can use/repurpose. If you are in a more rural area, having a ‘free neighborhood swap’ might do the same thing by having families bring items they have decluttered to a central location.
My husband and I go on evening walks through our neighborhood. I’ve noticed that more neighbors have started putting out ‘free’ boxes in their parking strips now. Some have hung clothes from the branches of their trees. Others have laid items out on their front lawns with free sign and arrow. It makes walks through the neighborhood feel like a scavenger hunt! It also keeps usable items out of the landfill, and occasionally allows some social distancing neighborhood visits.
Right now it’s beautiful, sunny, warm weather. However, when it gets rainy, cardboard free boxes and clothes hanging in trees won’t work. But this fun activity can last longer if we bring in the items if rain is in the forecast, and put them back out when it’s sunny. As long as neighbors are walking their dogs, walking in the neighborhood, then this will work. When we are in our homes keeping dry and warm will be the time to pack in the idea. Maybe by then there will be a Covid vaccine and we can begin inside free swaps again?
Many of us have appreciated the added free frugal entertainment of Neighborhood Outdoor Free Swaps during this strange time, having something simple we can do together that combines community building, de-cluttering, and treasure hunting fun.
For more details on Free Swapping, check out the Swap Positive blog.
Ikea is developing a prototype of refugee shelter that is easy to put together, is insulated, has a solar light so people can cook/sew/do homework when it gets dark, and other simple yet practical features.
Ikea is getting feedback from refugees to improve upon the concept before they roll out the final design. They also plan to include a system of health care, education, and more so refugee families can not only get stabilized physically, but get all members of a family back on their feet in body/mind/spirit as quickly and respectfully as possible.
Tennessee is considering using lottery money to fully fund community college and technical school for all high school grads. Since cost is the biggest hurdle to getting a higher education, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam is on the right track to make higher education truly attainable – without all the hoops. Read more here.
What do you do if you’re a small tree chipping company and you don’t want to spend your money on dumping fees? What do you do if you’re a city planner trying to keep your landfills from filling up so fast? What do you do if you’re a homeowner who wants to do some sustainable and frugal landscaping pathways?
A new website in Portland Oregon solves this three way problem with chipdrop. You open an account and give your address, and whatever local tree chipping company has a load of chips they need to dump, they drive it to your house and dump it free in whatever location you mention. It helps the tree chipping companies because otherwise they’d have to pay dump fees. It helps the homeowner because you get free wood chips delivered to your door. It helps the city because it doesn’t get it’s landfills full of woodchips. Everybody wins.
We took advantage of this new service and created front and backyard pathways! Our load, we were told, was mostly douglas fir, so the whole yard smells wonderful, and it’s safe for our backyard free range chickens.
Even though I don’t have cancer, many of my friends have walked that road. So I thought reading this book would be enlightening.
In the book A Cancer Therapy, Dr. Max Gerson gives a foundation to understand how cancer can best be framed so that it can be cured. According to Dr. Gerson, studies show that cancer is a degenerative disease that takes a long time to develop. So when we find a lump, that is the culmination of years of degeneration, so much that the liver has finally grown too weak to fight the cancer. This book is a summary of thirty years of clinical experimentation by Dr. Max Gerson M.D. from the 1930’s-1950’s. He successfully took advanced cancer patients that traditional medicine had written off, and figured out how to heal the majority of them.
Dr. Gerson said that there is no magic pill that cures cancer. Yes, if you remove a large cancerous lump, sometimes that takes enough of the toxins out of the body where the liver can resume to clean the rest itself. But many times there is still so much sickness left in the bone, blood, and organs that’s just not showing signs yet, that the cancer ‘returns’. Dr. Gerson’s therapy was developed to treat not just the end symptoms (the tumors etc.) but the many causes – such as toxins from our pesticides and poor soil nutrition, using food and rest medicinally, detoxifying gently and slowly so the body doesn’t go into shock, etc.
This book was first published back in 1958. Today, as then, this research seems to be the last resort for those with advanced stage cancer who have been told they will die. So they get this book, find out about the Gerson Institute where they can get updated information on how to treat their disease at home, or go to a clinic where it can be treated for them. The regime is currently a little less intensive then what was written originally in the book, but it is still a slow, steady, time-consuming walk to healing. While the typical person prefers a faster more heroic rescue to a slow personal climb, if you’re willing (or desperate) to see results, this book is a fascinating read.
I found some healthy concepts I’d like to use/modify for use in my own life. The suggestions list of potassium rich veggies and fruits (many I already enjoy, some I want to buy and try out) look like a delicious and easy addition to my diet. And the detox ideas are ones I may explore in the future as well.
So I’m wandering the haircare aisle looking for a shampoo that won’t strip the oils out of my dry hair, isn’t full of toxic type chemicals, doesn’t cost a fortune, doesn’t pollute the environment, and is in a skinny enough bottle that it will fit on the side of my tub. I spied a tiny little package – the only bar in the shampoo aisle. I’d never heard of a bar shampoo so took a closer look. This is J.R. Liggett’s old fashioned bar shampoo. It has no synthetic oils, no chemical concoctions, no plastic bottle, no detergents, so this shampoo won’t strip the natural oils from hair, is good for our water (from bathing in streams, to city showers because it travels well and doesn’t pollute!)
It sounded interesting, and seemingly fit all my criteria and more. The ingredients are mostly oils such as olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, a little bit of New Hampshire spring water, sodum Hydroxide (a binder) and essential oils for fragrance.
Since it was cheaper than most regular shampoos, I bought a bar to try it out. It doesn’t have a noticeable smell, so I can’t tell what essential oils were used. I rubbed the bar shampoo around in my wet hands to make a lather, and shampooed as usual. I can’t say my hair came out looking salon like, but it looks and feels CLEAN, and it’s not as dry as when using regular bottle shampoo with no conditioner, so probably all those oils in the bar soap are doing a good job of moisturizing.
I used it on my guinea pig and it lathered up and rinsed out fast and complete ( a plus when bathing animals!). My husband tried it with his short hair and said he barely used any at all and it was effective.
I think J.R. Liggett’s is a keeper:)
I got the wire chair as an attempt at a soap dish, and it seems to work well to keep the shampoo bar dry. I think the bar would melt into a sloppy mess if it didn’t have a place to dry out between uses.
What looks like a toy, works like a charm, and corrects clubfoot in children … all for $20? This new invention by Stanford students is a game changer for the 1 in a thousand children born worldwide with clubfoot each year. These kids currently wear heavy ill-fitting braces with attached boots that are difficult if not impossible to walk in – that is, IF their parents can afford the $300-$700 price.
These new braces are lightweight, designed to look and feel like a child’s toy, children can stand and walk in them, and they cost $20. Instead of boots attached permanently to a metal brace, this new technology features shoes that can be removed and worn separately, so it’s easier for parents to fit them on wiggly toddlers.
Learn more about this new clubfoot brace and see a video of happy kids using the technology here.
Toby dressed as the ‘Repair Wizard’ at Mac PCx on Halloween 2013
My high school senior is chomping at the bit ready to move on after 14 years of classroom education. He’s going to high school part time and working part time at a computer store diagnosing and repairing computers. His past resume includes volunteering at Free Geek where he learned to take apart and put together computers, then trained others to do so. As a high school sophomore he took computer classes in C++ and other programming languages. He’s currently studying on his own to get CompTA+ certified, and through a school class learning to write code and design his own website. He’s been saving up his work money and when he turns 18 plans to purchase professional design software and begin his own software company on the side.
As a parent, I’m getting bombarded at all sides by society telling me my son MUST get a college degree or he’ll never get a living wage job. My son tells me “I know what I want – to work with computers and design computer software. Why spend 4+ more years in a classroom and be thousands of dollars in debt before I do what I want?”
He’s got a point there.
He says a company should pay to train him in what else they might need because he’s a fast and motivated learner. He also said that computer technology is growing /changing so fast that what he’d learn in a classroom would be practically obsolete by the time he got out of college, so taking courses now and building on those courses as he works makes more sense than spending his money/time on PE 101 and introduction to Lit classes. He is studying and problem solving on his own to be on the cutting edge, and expects to be paid for his work (he feels he’s already done the internship route and proved himself). He is calm about this. He is focused. I’m the one freaking out inside. I’ve heard my whole life “Everyone needs a college education to get a good job”…yet many people in their 20’s (as well as older adults) who have expensive university educations are looking for work that pays a living wage.
My child has his own vision. I trust my son and support his wisdom. And if in a few years he decides that a college education would be beneficial to him, he’ll have the money saved up, or the contacts made, to create a path where he doesn’t have debt. That’s pretty amazing planning/thinking for a 17 year old.
Using free internet plans, your local 3D printer, and less than $10 for materials you can make your own hand prosthetics (what currently cost $20,000 ready-made). Here’s what curiosity, collaboration, and a little love can do.
Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, is a book of fun and practical ideas written by a frugal French mom living in America with her American husband and 2 boys. While several of her ideas I already have in practice (she details composting, de-cluttering, simplifying), I found many new ideas such as a simple multi-purpose balm, techniques for waterproofing leather, and special towel folding techniques to carry food to picnics and wrap gifts. So far I’ve tried her cocoa powder eye shadow, where I brushed cocoa powder on my eyelids. I then asked my 17 year old son what he thought. He was like “Mom – it makes you look old and wrinkly!” I put on my glasses and sure enough even though I liked the color, this is a tip for someone much younger…but it was fun and simple to try!
Bea gives a list of houseplants that clean the air, tips on travel, recipes, stories from her own family, decorating, cleaning, wardrobe, gift wrapping, simple home building/craft projects, holidays and more. It was a fun read, a cross between homesteading and housekeeping, humor and practicality, simplicity and relaxation. Instead of making me feel overwhelmed, she made me feel comfortable and curious to try new ideas.
Check out Zero Waste Home By Bea Johnson from your local library or bookstore.
FallingFruit.org is an an urban harvesting map that brings together community and city data bases from all over the internet/world. Find, add, and edit information on the wild edibles growing in your neighborhood. Check out http://www.fallingfruit.org/ to find and share free urban fruit that otherwise would go to waste.
The library is one of my hero organizations, and here’s yet another reason to love it: Free online tutoring. That’s what the Multnomah County Library in Portland Oregon is offering to it’s library card holders.
Get free online homework help from Tutor.com — all you need is your library card. Live one-to-one help is available from 2-10 pm daily in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. This service offers writing help and academic support in math, science, English and social studies. It also provides resume review, certified career tips, college prep, GED and Citizenship test help. So now all those questions your kids ask you that you don’t know, you can have them call the library. Or you can call the library yourself.
This is not a genetic hybrid, but created with the age-old method of grafting by hand the top of a cherry tomato plant to the roots of a white potato plant, so that a single plant produces both tomatoes and potatoes at the same time.
UK Horticulture company Thompson and Morgan states that the Brix (sugar content) of the TomTato’s fruit is higher than most supermarket tomatoes, and the potatoes are fine for boiling, mashing, or roasting. At this time the TomTato is only available in the UK, but the BBC reports that another such plant has been released in New Zealand, made by the company Incredible Edibles, and known as the Potato Tom.
Can’t wait for the US to develop such a plant – I’ve always had good luck with cherry tomatoes, but never with potatoes. Maybe if I had a plant like this I could easily grow both on my little city lot – or better yet in a pot?
With electricity becoming more expensive, here’s a way to save resources and get free lighting. The Moser Lamp, invented by Alfredo Moser, is simply a clean empty plastic bottle filled with water and a little bleach. Using the natural science of refraction, the lamp puts out the energy of a 40-60 watt bulb depending on how strong the sun is. In areas where power outages are common and in areas of poverty, Moser Lamps are becoming a great way to provide light to homes cheaply and efficiently.
How much energy do Moser Lamps save? Since plastic bottles are recycled/up-cycled from local communities, there’s no energy needed to gather, manufacture, or ship new bottles, whereas it takes 0.45 kg of CO2 to manufacture one incandescent bulb. Plus, a 50-watt light bulb running for 14 yours a day for a year has a carbon footprint of nearly 200kg of CO2…whereas Moser lamps emit no CO2 at all! Even in first world countries, this would be a fun idea for playhouses, garden sheds, pump houses, etc.
Having your own website, analytics, social media, etc. is a great resource if you’re looking to start your own business. With wordpress.org, not only can you get a website free, but the e-commerce plug in is free, so you can make money off your site immediately as well.
If you’ve got more time than money at the moment, why not download a few free themes and play around with them? There’s plenty of youtube videos on how to create your own customized website with these free tools. This is a great resource not only for current business owners looking to upgrade their sites, but also a resource for hard working people who just happen to be at the moment unemployed or underemployed. This free technology helps level the playing field by bringing more people back into the game.
Voice Talent and co-owner of the Hughes/Taylor audio production company.
Encouraging thought leaders (those with innovative and sometimes odd, simple, practical ideas) through Better Ideas Now.
Creating Free fashion, frugal fun through Swap Positive.