• Native Species Balcony Garden

    Virginia Creeper and Rock Pink

    I live in a condo on the fourth floor with two west facing balconies. (The light!) I have a small native species garden on each balcony. I grow what supports the local fauna. Doves and humming birds visit often. The Rock Pink blooms are closed in the evening and morning, but they open each day for the afternoon sun. The bees have found us!

  • Learning Free Software

    It is an indication of how uncomfortable I am learning new software that I am so late to this Google party. My Windows Office suite is set to expire and I didn’t want to spend $130 USD to renew it. I did a bit of research on free software (that is, I asked my kids) and learned that I already had access to all this stuff via my Gmail account.

    I could see some stuff lurking there: photos friends had sent me, documents I was to edit and return, but I didn’t understand how the whole thing worked. “Oh, it’s intuitive!” the kids said. Maybe for them. But for me, who didn’t turn on a computer until I was 40 years old, it is like learning a foreign language- very slow with a lot of mistakes.

    To the rescue: my dear friend, my local library. They have classes to teach those of us that do not find it intuitive. And they are free!

  • Life Cycle of My Shoes

    Bought some new shoes last week.

    When I was a kid I had school clothes and play clothes and usually one fancy dress for church. I was expected to change into my play clothes as soon as I got home from school. If I forgot, I would be reminded. That idea, that we kind of protect the nice clothes, so they stay nice for awhile is engrained in me. Here is how I use it with my shoes:

    New shoes (the black ones): worn to candidate forums, worship services, memorial services.

    Everyday shoes (the blue ones): worn to the library, yoga, grocery store, walks in the park if it is not muddy.

    Old shoes (I realize these don’t look bad on top, but the bottoms are worn through): used for river swimming, painting, gardening, i.e. messy jobs.

    They do eventually end up in the landfill, but they are full of holes by then, already beginning their decomposing journey.

  • Frugal Soup

    Homemade vegetable soup

    Vegetable soup made from the leftover bits and bobs that would become compost or science experiments before too long- what could be more frugal or delightful than that?

    It is like making stone soup out of your own rubbish! And it is different every time, so I can’t get bored.

    Tell me readers, what are your favorite “making something from nothing” ideas?

  • Cultivating Low Carbon Hobbies

    Walking with the family in nature.

    Sometimes we don’t have a lot of say so in the carbon footprint our work creates in the world. When I worked as a home hospice nurse, I drove hundreds of miles every week. I bought a hybrid car as soon as they were affordable. Still, that was a lot of emissions, even for a worthy cause.

    We do have more choice about how environmentally sustainable our hobbies are. I cultivate my interest in yoga, hikes in nature, repairing household items, reading. These activities bring me great joy and cost little. At the other end of the spectrum, imagine the cost and environmental impact of monster truck racing, golf and indoor ice skating.

    If you have a high carbon activity that you love, try to find some low carbon activities to even things out.

    If we hope to bring balance to the planet, we need to bring balance to ourselves.

  • Bolster Repair

    Some of the bolsters at my yoga studio were torn near the handles. I offered to repair them. The studio offered me a credit on my account. Win for me, win for the studio and win for the environment!

  • Wayfinding Signage

    My brief: create wayfinding signage from three separate parking lots to the event. My budget: 0. Using the available yard signs, zip ties, masking and packing tapes and a Sharpie, I made tents with directional arrows pointing towards our event space. All add-ons were easily removed afterwards, restoring the yard signs to pristine condition.

  • Partial Product Replacement

    The plastic container that came with my new blender five years ago broke recently. Rather than chuck the whole thing in the bin and head out to the nearest big box store to replace it, I did a brief online search and ordered a glass replacement container. I had to be a bit patient and go without my favorite winter soup while I waited for it to arrive. Benefits to waiting it out: replacing the container only with the improved glass version cost 30% less than replacing the whole thing and it kept the functioning part out of the landfill (or that back closet where things that are only half broken go to collect dust.)

  • Shameless Self-Promotion

  • Rules for Re-Gifting

    The rules for re-gifting are:

    1. Don’t ever, ever re-gift to the person who gave you the gift. Ever. If you can’t trust your memory, store the gift with a note stating who it was from.
    2. Don’t re-gift to people who are offended by the concept.
    3. Keep the gift in the original packing, with tags on, if this is possible.
    4. Put some thought in matching the gift with the person. You wouldn’t give a CD of Christmas music to an atheist or a leather belt to a vegan.

    Now go out there and have some frugal fun!

  • Handmade Christmas Cards

    I enjoy making a few Christmas cards by hand and sending them to dear ones. Here are some I made this year. As you can see, these are playful, not fussy or overwrought. Packet of ten blank cards and matching envelopes for $5 USD. First class stamps are now 60 cents. So a bit of snail mail joy to some special friends for $1.10 each. Plus I get to spend a couple evenings coloring!