Friday, July 29, 2011

Picking Fruit For Free - Nationwide

This is a great concept and one that is spreading rapidly across the country. Neighborhood Fruit helps people find and share fruit locally, both backyard bounty and abundance on public lands - 10,000 trees nationwide and counting! Fruit shipped from across country is certainly not as nutritious as fruit picked locally. What a great family event.

Here's what they say about themselves:

Neighborhood Fruit was created to make use of the abundant fruit growing in our urban environments. Currently, the bulk of fruit grown in backyards and in our cities goes to waste, while the fruit we consume is grown in water-intensive orchards far from our homes.

We envision a different future, where the bulk of backyard fruit is utilized and shared between neighbors and our diets replete with home-made goodies. Join us in creating a future where the food we eat is truly fresh, seasonal and local!


Get more information at the NeighborhoodFruit.com website and find a place near you ... or register your own.

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Pay Nothing for Overseas Calls

Make use of Freephone2Phone.com. Look up a local access number on the service's website; dial it; listen to a 10-12 second ad; then call any of 54 countries (mostly landline numbers) for free for a 10 minute conversation max. They also have options for long distance within the USA.

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Revival Of Train Travel

Historical and awe-inspiring, trains helped make the world what it is today. In India, trains are still a very popular mode of travel for all economic classes. There’s no better way to see the beauty and diversity of Europe than by train. For the United States, rapid expansion into the West wouldn’t have been possible without trains.

When it comes to transporting goods, trains are still big business. Virginia’s Norfolk Southern recently spent $97.8 million of its own money (along with $83.3 million from the federal government and $9.8 million from Ohio and Virginia) to raise the heights of nearly 30 tunnels along an old coal train route. Why? To run a direct path from an international shipping port in Norfolk, Virginia to a transfer station in Columbus, Ohio with double-stacked cargo containers.

Popular in just about every country except the United States, high-speed trains are more fuel-efficient than airplanes and cars and often require less travel time (depending on the destination).

Billions of dollars have been approved by the U.S. government for high-speed rail projects across the country. Current estimates show nearly the entire country connected by high-speed rail by 2030 (with traditional-speed trains filling in the gaps). Read the entire article.

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Summer Fun - Make a Field Guide For Your Yard

The guide can be about birds or butterflies or plants—anything natural you find in your yard. If you don’t have your own green space, visit a local park or a schoolyard.

Outdoor activities include exploring, observing, drawing, or photographing plants and animals. Indoor activities include research, writing, and the creation of your book. You can work on your project for an hour, a day, or throughout the year.

Your pages can be simple or more descriptive to include the time, date, and location you discovered the animal, what it was doing, and information you research on the web or at the library. Get started now with these tips to create your own field guide.

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Friday, July 22, 2011

Extreme Heat and Power Outrage Survival


We’re to the part of the summer when the heat seems to be one of the big news stories. Conveniently, everyone seems to forget that it gets hot EVERY summer, so it makes good news.

Along with heat comes power outages, primarily from increased air conditioner use. Several cities are experiencing localized and/or regional brownouts and blackouts this week including Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and hundreds of smaller cities and towns.

The media loves this time of year. They can interview hot people, talk about where power is out and when it will come back on, and talk about all the people dying and being hospitalized from the heat.

As our population and electrical infrastructure ages, this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue. Throw in a local or regional disaster, and it’s an issue that almost everyone needs to have a plan for.

I want to start with heat related deaths and say that for the most part, they are a creation of the media. It actually makes me mad when I hear talk about people dying from the heat. It’s not only inaccurate, but it plants the idea in people’s heads that they might die simply because it’s hot out. In the majority of cases where people die from the heat in urban areas, the deaths are completely unnecessary and avoidable. It’s much more accurate to say that these people died from a lack of knowledge, rather than from the heat and a power outage.

Do people die when it gets hot out? Yes, but ask anyone who has deployed to the sandbox, done manual labor throughout the summer, or the millions of people who live in Africa and the Middle East without air conditioning and they’ll tell you that hot weather alone won’t kill you. Read the entire article.

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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Do Those Fuel Additives Work?

By Todd Kaho at Mother Earth News

I have a friend who swears by those gasoline additives that claim to increase your gas mileage. I think they’re all worthless. Am I right?

You can understand why people want to believe this type of product works. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could pour an additive or pop a pill into your gas tank at each fill-up that would significantly increase your car’s gas mileage?

But fuel additives — both commercial and homebrewed — are almost always a waste of money. With one notable exception (keep reading), these additives simply will not increase your car’s mpg. If you really want better gas mileage, your best bet is to drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, and drive it frugally. Read the entire article.

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Alternative Pesticides for Ants, Mice and Mosquitoes

From Sid Kirchheimer at AARP.org

Q. This summer I would like to avoid the toxins that are found in many commercial pesticides. What are some safe, effective alternatives?

A. Many stores sell 'all-natural' products. You can also throw together your own. Here are some tried-and-true methods against common pests.

Ants: Spread cinnamon, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salted cucumber peels or leaves from mint tea bags near their point of entry or along baseboards.

Mice: Place cotton dipped in peppermint oil, or used kitty litter, near problem areas.

Mosquitoes: When you barbecue, throw some sage or rosemary onto the coals.

Carpenter ants: Mix 3 cups hot water, 1 cup sugar and 4 teaspoons boric acid. Soak cotton in the mixture and leave it near places where ants are found.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive.

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Little Steps for Teaching Young Ones Frugality

From The Simple Dollar

This morning, as my children were waking up, I was inspecting their dresser drawers looking for clothes. I pulled out clean underwear and socks for both of them, but rather than continuing through the drawers, I started digging through their clothes hamper, inspecting the clothes right in front of them.

I’d examine one garment, say “This is dirty,” and throw it in one pile. I’d look at another, sniff it, and then decree “This one’s just fine,” and put it in a second pile. I invited them to join in, too (though I kept an eye on the items they were passing judgment on, especially ones they decreed to be clean).

Soon, the hamper’s contents were sorted, leaving two piles. I threw the dirty pile back into the hamper, then began folding the clean pile. As I did this, I also described what I was doing: “Many of the shirts and pants and dresses you wear aren’t really dirty unless you get dirt or other stuff on them. You can wear them again.” To illustrate this point, I let them choose their clothes for the day right out of the clean pile. Read the entire article with other tips.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Plantain: A Wild Green You Can Eat

With grocery prices going sky high, we all need to be growing some food ... even if it's the kind you don't have to plant. Our yard has plantain in many places and many varieties of it. I knew its medicinal qualities, but didn't know it could be used as a vegetable. How cool! Don't get this confused with the one that looks like a banana in a grocery store.

From Mother Earth News:

One of the most common and plentiful of urban wild vegetables is a weed known as common plantain (Plantago major), which can grow from almost any patch of dirt. Common plantain is not only hardy enough to sprout up from cracks in asphalt and concrete — even gravel roadsides — but it can thrive in any climate.

Nutritionally, plantain is equally amazing. Related to spinach, plantain leaves are rich in iron and vitamins A and C. Plantain may be eaten uncooked, but adult leaves tend to be stringy, and seedpods are a bit tough.

Preparation is as simple as boiling washed plants until tender, then serving the leaves as you would spinach, or the seedpods as you might green beans or asparagus.

A little apple cider vinegar helps enliven the taste of cooked leaves, and I personally like them served hot with butter, salt and pepper. Seedpods are good in stews, soups and stir-fries, or with melted cheese over them. Read the entire article and get out there and look for plantain in your yard or a wild area nearby.

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10 Tips For a Tiny Balcony

By Robyn Griggs Lawrence at Mother Earth News

Today I’ve been very busy being inspired by Apartment Therapy’s “100 Ideas & Inspiration: Small Spaces,” which offers a wealth of great ideas on everything from smart ways to divide a room to working with small kitchens. Because I’m sprucing up my back garden right now, I was particularly taken with “10 Ideas for Tiny Balconies.” Making good use of my outdoor areas is a great way to expand my small townhome’s living space—and I want to have everything ready when the weather decides to get warm.

Apartment Therapy says that if you have a balcony, you have the potential to create a small garden or tiny hideaway. The article offers these great tips for making it happen. Read the entire article.

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Alternative Pesticides for Ants, Mice and Mosquitoes

From Sid Kirchheimer at AARP.org

Q. This summer I would like to avoid the toxins that are found in many commercial pesticides. What are some safe, effective alternatives?

A. Many stores sell 'all-natural' products. You can also throw together your own. Here are some tried-and-true methods against common pests.

Ants: Spread cinnamon, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, salted cucumber peels or leaves from mint tea bags near their point of entry or along baseboards.

Mice: Place cotton dipped in peppermint oil, or used kitty litter, near problem areas.

Mosquitoes: When you barbecue, throw some sage or rosemary onto the coals.

Carpenter ants: Mix 3 cups hot water, 1 cup sugar and 4 teaspoons boric acid. Soak cotton in the mixture and leave it near places where ants are found.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about consumer and health issues. Have a question for Sid Kirchheimer about a new product, a new kind of bank account? Check out the Ask Sid archive.

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

8 Ways for Engaged Couple to Save Money

One of the first things you realize when you become is engaged is that it can be quite expensive to plan a wedding. You want to save money where you can, and that means some careful planning. The good news is there are plenty of ways that a newly engaged couple can save money. Here are eight things you can do to save money for and on the wedding.

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Make Your Own Essential Oil Diffuser

From Mother Earth News

Former Natural Home & Garden stylist Susan Wasinger’s super simple instructions suggest using repurposed jars and thin peeled tree branches, woody cuttings from a bush, hollow or spongy weed stems or dried grass stalks, which are engineered by nature to draw liquids upward.

Instead of paying $15 (or more), I will dip into my old bottle and jar collection and pick a few stalks during my afternoon dog walk to make a more unique diffuser with tons of character. I’ll use floral, relaxing lavender essential oil for the bedroom diffuser and invigorating clove in the bathroom. Read the instructions.

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Do Programmable Thermostats Really Save Money?

it turns out programmable thermostats aren’t the miracle device we’ve believed all along. In fact, sometimes using a programmable thermostat costs more than not having one at all. But the fault doesn’t lie with the thermostat.

According to the Energy Information Administration, about 42% of home energy costs go to heating and cooling. A lot of these costs come from heating and cooling empty (or unused) spaces, including heating and cooling while people are asleep. In plain English: People spend a lot to heat and cool their homes, and they’re not good about turning things off when they’re not needed.

Some folks think it uses more energy (and thus costs more) to turn the thermostat down at night and then re-heat the following day. They’re wrong. Read the entire article.

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"Simplicity of living, if deliberately chosen, implies a compassionate approach to life. It means that we are choosing to live our daily lives with some degree of conscious appreciation of the condition of the rest of the world." Duane Elgin

"Do what is good with your own hands, so that you might earn something to give to the needy." Ephesians 4:28