We LOVE freecycle. Here in Seattle, there is a very active community of freecyclers. It is amazing what random objects you can acquire and find new homes for, from the tiniest knickknack to the largest appliance. We all save money and prevent useful things from going to the landfill. It’s fantastic. If you live in Seattle, have a decent vehicle, and are willing to vigilantly watch your email all day, you could get away with never buying another piece of furniture, appliance, child’s toys, clothes, paint, building supplies, computers/electronics, decorations, books/magazines/videos, dishes, etc. for the rest of your life. Not only have we kept things from going to the landfill and saved money, but we’ve met some really cool people along the way.
Things we have given:
electric range/oven from 1950’s (fully functional but too big for our space)
car roof rack towers to car we no longer have
plastic toilet lid (came with our new toilet and promptly replaced with nicer one)
12 foot baseboard heater (still in box, age unknown, found in garage when we bought the house)
Things we have gotten:
queen sized nice wooden bed frame + thick futon mattress (several satisfied house guests served thus far)
electric oven/range (of modern era, fully functional)
bag of several nice pieces of wool fabric
set of Ikea drinking glasses
pair of vintage armchairs
roll-out tabletop keyboard (musical kind, not computer kind)
various interior and exterior paints
Other things we have found along the side of the road or next to dumpsters at our old apartment:
push lawn mower (spotted with “free” sign on the side of the road not one block from our house 5 minutes after discussing our desire to have one of these as an alternative to the noisy, leaky, gas-guzzler the former owner of our house generously left for us)
chest of drawers (a little worse for wear, but we took it anyway because it just happened to match the set we already had)
book shelves (later given via freecycle)
table (given to friends)
chest of drawers (given to friends)
good quality stereo speakers
Why waste money and resources manufacturing/transporting/selling/buying new things when there are so many perfectly usable things being discarded every day locally?
I found this homemade envelope in my card box a few weeks ago. I made a bunch of these years ago, and this one has remained in the box. I kind of love it so much that I haven’t wanted to let it go, even though I know it’s silly not to use it for its intended purpose. This one is pretty sweet though, since the inside is almost as beautiful as the outside. The birds flying over the waves make me catch my breath every time. I wish I had this photo in large format. I don’t even remember where it came from.
Ugh! I was already annoyed at myself for driving to work almost every day lately. And then I came across the above, which in turn led me to the blog of an amazing mom in Portland, OR. If she can run errands with 3 boys under age 8 without a car, toting them on this awesome bike and city buses, then I should be able to transport myself to work without a car.
She even transported a baby, a chicken, some veggies and who knows what else all in one trip! (Yeah, that’s a chicken in the pet crate.)
We limit our driving somewhat by owning one car between the two of us. We’ve never had more than one car and it’s always worked just fine. A few years ago, Matt was driving to work while I took the bus to school. Occasionally I would ride my bike. Now Matt buses to school and I drive to work. I know it doesn’t have to be that way. I just need to get back in the routine of busing.
Jerusalem artichokes, aka sunchokes, were unknown to me until a few years ago. They’re great roasted or in stews, such as the one Matt made last week. They’re fun to grow in the garden because the stalks get really tall really fast and they’re nice and leafy with some pretty flowers on top. But watch out ‘cause word on the street is that they will take over your garden if you don’t control them.
I was determined to send thank-you notes by the end of January. [I succeeded, but not in posting to the blog about it. I keep bugging Matt to contribute to the blog, but I am not in the habit of it myself. Matt’s in grad school, but what’s my excuse?] Anyway, I thought I had a bunch of thank-you cards in my trusty card box, but after reorganizing it, I found none.
Not to worry though, as the box contains an assortment of card making/repurposing supplies. I didn’t want to spend a lot of time, so I decided to go ahead and use some of Matt’s old (2002) graduation announcement cards which are blank on the inside and have his name on the front. [We are such pack rats, but occasionally you do find a way to reuse some random old thing you’ve kept forever, and it just reinforces the instinct to keep the next random thing. You would not believe some of the stuff I have stored away because it might come in handy some day.]
We wanted to make some gifts for Christmas this year (uh, yeah this post is kinda late, but this did happen before Christmas) for people we were going to be visiting over the holidays. We made and canned applesauce and baked two kinds of cookies. The almond crescent cookies were a big hit! They’re dusted with vanilla sugar, which is made by putting sugar in an airtight jar with one or two vanilla beans for a few weeks. There is so much left over vanilla sugar that I put it in the freezer and will have to make the cookies again soon.
I love DigginFood, a blog by a local gardener/cook/writer extraordinaire who is one of the weekly guests on the gardening show of our NPR station. I keep suggesting to Matt that we get rid of all the grass in the front yard and plant an edible garden. The grass doesn’t seem to serve any purpose, as we have a decent sized back yard that is quieter and more private, should we want to do anything that requires a patch of grass. I also think it would make a statement and maybe even inspire some of the neighbors to start their own gardens.
We live on a fairly busy street, and Matt wonders whether pollution from traffic could contaminate the soil and be taken up by edible plants. I know some people who may know something about this, as I have an MS in environmental health, which in case you were wondering is how the environment affects the health of people, not the health of the environment as the name seems to imply. I could do some research to see if there are any studies on this, but I doubt there is anything that would be specific enough to tell whether it’s of concern to us. The easiest and most straight forward thing to do would be to get our soil tested for heavy metals, which would be my biggest worry. Particulates getting on the plants themselves should not matter much, assuming we wash our veggies (with soap).