Tag Archives: Frugal

Aronia: The North American super berry with cancer-fighting properties | Fox News

Aronia berry clusterAronia Berries, also known as Choke Cherries, are a native American fruit.  They are full of antioxidents and make great juice.  So why don’t more people grow them?  Well, for one, they taste puckery/mealy if you eat them fresh.  The juice stains your skin. They don’t cook down all that well because of the tiny bitter seeds and skin, and they are terrible dried.

So what do you do with them?  I enjoy them two ways:

1. I wash the berries, take off the stems, and put berries in the blender with about 1 part berries to 3/4 parts water.  Then I strain and keep the juice, composting the remaining seed/skin sludge.  After the juice settles I strain it again to get the second smaller wave of sludge off.  I do this over the sink wearing an apron so I don’t stain anything (the stains scrub out of the sink and off your hands eventually). I put the juice in bottles in the fridge and Continue reading

RentTheChicken.com lets you practice raising backyard chickens

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If you like the idea of having fresh eggs straight from the backyard, but aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit, RentTheChicken.com lets you rent some chickens!

Here’s how they pitch their service:

Thought of Raising Backyard Chickens? Every spring, thousands of chickens are sold at local farm supply stores. Often these chickens die before they are ready to start laying eggs (16-30 weeks). Children quickly realize that chickens are not as fun as the Xbox and parents find out that chickens cannot be house broken! The costs quickly start becoming more and more, then chickens are “sent to the farm”. Other people think about chickens but think they don’t have the space, worry about regulations, or just don’t know what they need. Do you build or buy a coop? Do you buy peeps? How do you raise an egg-laying hen if you buy a peep? Did someone tell you about a heat lamp? It can all be overwhelming and we take the guesswork out of all of the questions by offering a portable coop, the food & supplies, and the egg-laying hens!

RentTheChicken.com is based in Continue reading

Orchestra instruments made from garbage

This creative community created instruments out of garbage found in their landfill…and created an orchestra called the LandFillHarmonic.  Give a listen.

What kinds of creative ideas can we generate from what our society deems as garbage?  Can this same loving creativity help us see people in a more valuable light as well?

My son, the tech guy/philosopher

1st day of senior yearToday is the first day of senior year for my son.  I’m so excited for what this school year holds for him:  a computing systems class, helping one teacher by community mentoring Algebra, and helping a second teacher by making photocopies/classroom assistance, plus a college probability and statistics class and a government/economics class.  He’s got early dismissal to continue his paid job working part time at a local computer store.

At this time he doesn’t plan on going to college, but has a thick IT training manual he’s reading and plans to take the certification test.  He also has good job and volunteer references from various paid and unpaid computer and tech places.   As an honor student he’s got colleges offering him partial academic scholarships, but he doesn’t want to start his work life with college debt – he wants to make money, and when he has money he can decide if and when it would be advantageous to gain more education.

My son is flying in the face of societal norms.

He’s got a clear idea of what he wants and how he plans on reaching his goals.  He wants to be a software engineer, and he’s got buddies he’s been creating computer games with for several years.  He’s taken classes for fun in C++ programming, taken online computer badge courses, volunteered at Free Geek, has built computers from scratch, and taken business and marketing classes.  He’d like to someday start his own company and sell downloads of his games.  But he knows that to get where he wants to be, he needs to work hard and learn programming, learn coding, mentor at businesses, be helpful, be open, and enjoy the life he has while creating the life he wants.

My son is unique. He is smart.  He is wise.  He is kind.  It’s amazing watching his mind work to sort things out with his thoughtful, practical demeanor. He’s like a combination tech guy/philosopher.

Plushy snuggly bathrobe, fun slippers and pj’s

Margaret bathrobeWith colder weather around the corner, here’s a snuggly warm submission from contributor Margaret Kumma. Plus, she’s got creative uses for some of these items that go beyond sleeping.

The bathrobe is a plush robe in pink.  The fabric is 100% cotton.   The brand is Hotel Spa Collections.  I purchased it from Amazon a few years ago in the winter.  What I like about it is that it’s very warm for those cold winter nights.  I also like the mid-thigh length.  I love how soft and comfortable Continue reading

All five tastes in one berry: Schisandra Vine

Schisandra VineThe Chinese name for Schisandra is wu-wei-zi, which means “five taste-fruits” or “five flavor herb” because the fruits contain all five flavors: sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and salty. Sucking on a dry fruit is an interesting experience because of its many flavors. Chomping into a fresh one you don’t quite get the ending sweet note, so are left with a funny look on your face due to the mouth gymnastics.  But the after effect is a zing of energy, at least for me.  Maybe it’s just because my taste buds get a good work out.

Since I’m working towards an edible landscape, and this is a berry/vine that grows in the shade, I’ve got it growing next the north side of the house in full shade on a wooden trellis.  It’s an easy-care vine, and likes well-drained soil with Continue reading

Tarp provides rainwater for drinking, plus hammock cover

Here’s a tarp that can be set up that provides a hassle-free way to collect pure drinking water when camping.    The surface can be used not only as a backpacking tarp to add weather protection for your hammock, but it also has a rainwater retention system made up of rain gutters and a suspension system to siphon water out towards the four corners where bottles are attached.  When the bottles are full, they pull down the tarp, providing even better protection for the people below.  The fabric includes both waterproofing and a heat reflective coating, so if it’s cold and stormy, the tarp can be set up with the reflective side on the bottom, and the dark rain retention side on the top to collect water.  If it’s warm and sunny, the tarp can be set up with the reflective side out to help shed some of the heat from the sun.  The total system is now available through Kammok.

Thanks to Continue reading

Milk crate toilet and other urban living/farming ideas

This urban farm in LA shows how one couple is growing their own fresh vegetables and fruit trees, raising chickens, and composting.  They also have a solar food dryer, show how to make your own outdoor emergency toilet using a milk crate, and how to make a stove. Since they live in earthquake territory, these items have been used in the past when the city systems have been down.   Many of these ideas can also be used when camping.

Thanks to Upworthy for this article.

10 tips to a zero waste household

Our family has worked the reduce/reuse/recycle mantra and gone from weekly to bi monthly garbage collection, and we were feeling pretty good about that.  When a neighbor friend of mine said that she has been able to whittle down her family’s garbage collection to only once a month, I was impressed.  But thanks to Yes Magazine, this story tells how a family was able to pare down their yearly solid household trash to fit into one quart size jar, plus gives 10 tips to a zero waste household.

Tops designed to flatter women 40+!

pauline covered perfectlyPRACTICAL is the operative word for this new clothing company, and ATTRACTIVE is the operative word for these new tops!  Covered Perfectly is a clothing company started by Pauline Durban, because she couldn’t find clothing that flattered her body.  She wanted tops that covered her arms and that were long enough to go over her belly.  She wanted comfortable soft fabric, and styles that made her feel good about herself.  So she designed a line of tops that ‘covered perfectly’ and made them easily available.

Covered Perfectly launched on May 5th 2013, so this is a brand new company with lovely clothes at reasonable prices made of fabulous fabric (the main fabric is a natural fiber, MicroModal, with a touch of spandex, which is super soft and luxurious and drapes wonderfully).  Pauline listens to the opinions of her customers – by popular demand she’s in the process of adding plus sizes to her collection, which should be in by the end of September.

Check out the Covered Perfectly website and see these gorgeous clothes for yourself.  For our readers at Better Ideas Now and Over 40 Fashions, use the discount code OVER40 and get a discount of 20% off your first order!  You’ll support a women-owned American business making a positive difference in women’s fashion, AND you’ll get fabulous fitting tops at a great price!

Purple/blue crinkle top flatters curvy figures

Margaret purple floral top and skirtMargaret Kumma talks about clothes she loves from her own closet that flatter her curvy shape:

What I love about this blouse are the colors, the crinkle fabric, the shape, and the pleated front and 28″ length.  I also love that it’s very roomy! I’m fairly sure my shape is Apple because I seem to be pretty much round!  The Crinkle Georgette Blouse color is listed as Blue Multi-Floral, but really it’s a sort of rose background with multi-colored flowers, which are mostly blue, and there are purple and white as well. The fabric is 100% polyester, the brand is Only Necessities, purchased from Continue reading

Free Swaps in action – what a 16 year old with a video camera can do

Ever wanted to see what a Free Gift Swap or Free Stuff Swap looks like in action?  Here’s a video my daughter, then 16 years old, created to show how a Free Gift Swap works:

Aubrey summerMy daughter Aubrey is now a junior at university majoring in Environmental Science.  Yeah, I’m pretty proud of her:)  She’s always been very concerned about helping people and the environment (she is a big supporter and helper at the free swaps she’s able to attend), and her university experience has given her a new and exciting window on the world.  If you want to help support Aubrey’s education, check out her photography prints for sale here.  For more about Free Swaps, and how you can start one in your area, click here.

Learn simple jewelry repair for free

I like learning new things, especially for free.  I was researching online about how to repair jewelry and came across a website by Esslinger, a company that sells watchmaker and jewelry supplies, explaining how-to tips for beading, identifying your birthstone, do-it-yourself jewelry, watch repair and more.  This site is full of tips about gems and jewelry for the curious and frugal.

For example, here’s a video that shows how to change a watch battery:

According to the website, Esslinger has been around 90 years, which is pretty darn impressive.  You can learn more from their ‘about us’ page.

Food Forest tour – plants change people

Why have brown grass when you can be feeding people?  This gentleman planted a food forest in the parking strip in front of his house.  Neighbors come by to walk the paths.  What a great community builder, sharing food, peace, and care. Here’s Ron Finley talking about the Food Forest in his yard:

Thanks to Upworthy for this story.

Every person can make a positive difference to benefit all

SI_at_Friendly_House_(6)_for_webThe Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages believes that every person can make a positive difference for the benefit of all.  They celebrate and support everyday people who in small ways are making a positive difference in their communities.  To celebrate, they have monthly free Sharing Ideas meetings that give individuals a chance to tell how they got involved/created their community strengthening idea, and how others can duplicate their template, allowing individual passions to encourage and inspire others.  To support, they provide free tools and resources on their Continue reading

Body heat powered flashlight

This body heat powered flashlight was invented by Canadian 10th grader Ann Makosinski.  Using no batteries, electricity, or cranking, just the difference between her warm hand on metal and the colder air flowing through a hollow plastic tube, the heat energy difference (thermoelectric effect) lights up the LED bulbs.

Ms. Makosinski is a finalist this year in the worldwide Google Science Fair.  Take a look at her simple and practical flashlight design.

Thanks to Gizmag for this article.

Pay-it-forward free gym in Portland

Gym_Beastfit_Nation_Pays_it_ForwardA new business model – Beast Fit Nation –  offers free grueling workouts with one catch – you have to promise you’ll do three random acts of kindness after you leave.  Local sponsors pay for the gym.  If you’re not from Portland, they’ve got free workout videos on their web site, music playlists, sports news, and more for you to enjoy.

Thanks to the Good News Network for this story.

Bouncing provides exercise and fun

TrampolineWhen our kids were upper grade school they squirreled all over the place – including climbing up the doorway frames and doing flips onto the couch.  My sister suggested these were gymnastic moves.  So we signed the kids up for a gymnastics class and the rest was history:  both kids LOVED it.  The kids had dabbled in the usual kids sports, but neither of them liked the competition/stress felt in traditional sports.  The gymnastics classes were held in a place called The Children’s Gym, and focused on learning, not competition.  Both kids developed self-confidence, body awareness, and no fear when having their head below their body (such as Continue reading

Little free libraries!

Littlefreelibrary1On a walk through our neighborhood yesterday, I saw a cute wooden box, and inside it was a little free library of books!  If you like little things, and you like to read, you might like the idea of installing a little free library near your house for the neighbors to enjoy.

The mission of the Little Free Library:

  • To promote literacy and the love of reading by building free book exchanges worldwide.
  • To build a sense of community as we share skills, creativity, and wisdom across generations
  • To build more than 2,510 libraries around the world – more than Andrew Carnegie–and then more.

If you’d like to join in the fun, here’s how.

Comfort takes center stage for casual activities

Here’s a favorite spring/summer look from my friend Lita:

I ALWAYS dress for comfort.  This outfit takes me where ever I need to go:  volunteer work, shopping, gardening or chaperoning for school or church groups.  It is practical, comfortable AND affordable!

100% Cotton, Faded Glory V-neck t-shirt in sage green from Continue reading