3 New or Noteworthy Things with Freecycle.org: Growth, Mobile Access, and Browser Plug-ins

Posted on June 7, 2009. Filed under: Home & Garden, San Francisco Bay Area, Software & Technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

freecycle_logo

Freecycle.org is a “globally local”  online network helping millions of people to recycle and keep stuff out of landfills. This nonprofit gifting movement enables individuals to gift items in their local communities rather than to throw them away.  If you’re not already familiar with Freecycle™,  I wrote an article back in July, 2008 about how Freecycle works.  Here is a very cute Flash slide show about using Freecycle (click on a slide to advance it)

So what’s new and noteworthy with Freecycle.org?

1. The Growth of Freecycle

According to Freecycle.org, it has now  expanded to more than  6.5 million members and over 10,000 volunteers who devote their time and energy to this worthy cause.  Freecycle creates a circle of giving in each of its local communities around the world.  Members are gifting over 20,000 items every day.

The Freecycle Network™ is currently growing at the rate of over 45,000 new members each and every week.  In 2007, Yahoo first noted that Freecycle became the third most searched environmental term on the planet just behind “global warming” and “recycling” and ahead of “earth.”

2.  Freecycle.org Has Gone Mobile – “No Computer Required”

In May,  2009 Freecycle announced it is now available to use on mobile devices following an agreement with Nokia, the world’s largest mobile device company.  The move expands the global gifting network beyond the constraints of the computer to
people’s mobile phones in over 85 countries around the world.

Founder, Deron Beal states that, “The goal is to make it easier to give an item away than to throw the item away, thus keeping good stuff out of landfills and helping Mother Nature. Nokia’s design and support of our new mobile phone functionality makes it easier than ever – no computer required!”

You can access Freecycle’s mobile website simply by typing mobile.freecycle.org into your mobile phone’s browser.

3.  Freecycle Now Has Support for Browser Plug-ins

These plugins are free software which make it easier to use Freecycle groups and get your messages right the first time. There are two versions of this plugin for the two most common browsers: Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox. You can find out more and download the plug-ins on the wiki page here.

The project is a collaboration between Edward and Nigel Mundy,
moderator on Eastbourne Freecycle.

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Meetup.com – Connect with Like-minded People

Posted on June 3, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment, Low Money Fun, San Francisco Bay Area, Software & Technology, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

Meetup.com is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.  Meetup leverages online technology to allow like-minded people to self-organize to get together offline.

Meetup groups exist in over 4000 cities and 100 countries, making it a truly local and global phenomenon.  Other key statistics as of this posting:

  • Monthly visitors: 5 million
  • Members: 4.7 million
  • Monthly RSVPs: 1.7 million
  • Monthly Meetups: 102,000
  • Local groups: 46,315
  • Meetup Topics: 4,916

Meetup members are creating impact in their communities via activism, volunteerism, social interaction and just good clean fun.  Meetup is free to join and if you don’t see a group focused on what you’re interested in near where you live,  you can start one or join a waiting list.  Categories and example types of groups include:

  • Arts & Entertainment (Book Club, Dance, Movie Fans)
  • Business & Career (Networking, Entrepreneur, Small Business)
  • Community & Lifestyles (Personal Growth, Vegetarian)
  • Culture & Languages (Law  of Attraction, Spanish Language)
  • Health & Support (Meditation, Fitness)
  • Hobbies (Travel, Dining Out, Scrapbooking)
  • Internet  & Technology (Web Design, Digital Photography)
  • Parenting & Family (Stay at Home Moms, Play Groups)
  • Pets & Animals (Dog Rescue, Small Dog Breeds)
  • Religion & Beliefs  (Spirituality, Metaphysics)
  • Science (Alternative Energy, Consciousness)
  • Sports & Recreation (Adverturers, Hiking, Mountain Biking)

Depending on the nature or location, some group get togethers and activities might cost money, some are free.  For example, if you join a movie buff group, and the group is meeting to see a new film, you would be expected to pay your own admission at a theater.  If you join a Board Gamers group,  they may meet at a local restaurant (so there may be a minimum dollar order required for use of the space) or meet in a host’s livingroom  (where snacks or refreshments may or may not be served, BYO or something to share).  If you joined a local women’s clothing, shoe and accessories swap group, you’d have to bring gently used items or that NWT outfit, two sizes too small that you never wore to swap.  Gotta love that closet shopping.

Maybe I’ll see you at one of the Meetups!

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Smithsonian FREE Museum Day: Saturday, September 26, 2009

Posted on June 1, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment, For Parents, Low Money Fun, No Money Fun, San Francisco Bay Area, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Save the date!

The participating museums around the country are not listed yet, but once again, Smithsonian is sponsoring a FREE museum day, on Saturday, September 26, 2009.  Check back here for more details and how to get your museum pass.

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Target sponsoring FREE Admission Passes to Museums Across U.S.

Posted on May 31, 2009. Filed under: Entertainment, Low Money Fun, No Money Fun, San Francisco Bay Area, Travel & Leisure, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Free Admission Passes To Museums Across The Country
Target is sponsoring free entry to select museums and activities on certain days in Arizona, California, Colorado, D.C., Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington

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Coupon code for 5 FREE games, books, and activities from KidThing!

Posted on May 28, 2009. Filed under: Babies & Children, Education, Entertainment, For Parents, Low Money Fun, No Money Fun, Software & Technology | Tags: , , , , |

kidthing is a secure internet-based global learning platform for children, parents, teachers, family and friends. This is an awesome program to keep kids busy over the summer.  kidthing is kind of like iTunes for kids.  You download the free digital player onto your desktop from www.kidthing.com and then once you start it, you just go to the store and add the products you want.

If you put the code ktpromo-summerfun into the search field of the store,  it’ll bring up 5 free products – just add them to your cart, and then go through the checkout process – you won’t be charged for them.  If you check back every week through the summer, they’re going to have new products each week.

One Mom I know says, “My son loves kidthing – he asks to go on it all the time – and I think we’re going to be able to build up a really good stock of games and activities for him this summer – all for free!”

kidthing’s proprietary distribution, publishing, and social networking platform provides a safe, ad-free, environment that insulates young children from the Internet. kidthing’s free, downloadable, digital media player integrates purchased content from the kidthing online store with personal media in custom mixes that can be shared. Parents can preview and purchase learning and entertainment content, create custom mixes of kidthing and personal content and make their children the “star” with content that can be personalized. Children can play kidthing content offline. Personalized content and custom play mixes can be shared among friends and family through private sharing communities in the kidthing environment.

“Today’s children are growing up in a high-tech, connected world, and are exposed to the Internet at younger ages than ever. The Internet is a part of everyday life, but it isn’t a safe place for young kids.” stated Larry Hitchcock, kidthing’s CEO. “kidthing is Internet technology, but it isn’t browser based, nor a white-list tool. It’s a secure, safe environment for kids to explore, learn and share; and parents can be confident that their children aren’t one click away from the open Internet.” kidthing’s professional open publishing platform enables content owners, authors and publishers to offer their digital content for sale throughout the world at the kidthing store, allowing kidthing to offer a wide variety of learning content available in multiple languages including digital books, games, videos, and music. kidthing content is inexpensive, starting as low as $0.99, making kidthing accessible to a broad international audience.

About kidthing:

kidthing delivers the next generation Internet-based learning environment through its proprietary distribution, publishing and social networking platform. kidthing provides a safe, ad-free, global learning environment that insulates children from the World Wide Web. Parents and teachers can purchase, customize and personalize content for kids and can share this in private sharing groups. Publishers and content creators around the world can make their works available in the kidthing store in an enhanced electronic format.

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Create Your Own Printable Personalized Coupons for FREE

Posted on May 27, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Entertainment, Holidays, Low Money Fun, No Money Fun, Pets, Shopping, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Select from the coupons here to send or print out and give as a gift.  There are many cute ideas  for low or no money fun and thoughtful ways to show someone (romantic or platonic) you care whatever their love language:

Acts of Service –  like Personal slave for One Night coupon or offer to walk their dog or run personal errands

Quality Time – like a romantic dinner prepared or enjoy a FREE concert coupon

Touch – like a FREE foot rub or back massage

Words of Affirmation – how about a FREE advice or Win An Argument coupon?

Gifts –  FREE  shopping coupon or FREE tickets to a ball game

Just in time for Father’s Day!



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Recipe for low cost, low calorie Thai Yellow curry with Shiratake Tofu noodles and vegetables*

Posted on May 26, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating | Tags: , , , |

There is a noodle house near where I live that makes a delicious but high calorie yellow curry with thick Shanghai noodles and vegetables. The entree comes in a large bowl and is about $9.00 (before tax and tip).  So I made up my own version of the recipe that is very tasty, healthy, low calorie and low cost  (about the same price as in the restaurant, but you get approximately 6 generous servings.)
Ingredients
1 13.5 oz can lite coconut milk (280 cals for the entire can, .99 cents)
1 T red curry paste  (I use Thai Kitchen – 25 cals/T)
2 T fish sauce
2 large cloves garlic minced
2 T minced ginger
1 can 99% fat free chicken or vegetable stock
1 T vegetable oil (e.g., canola)
1-1.5 lbs boneless breast of chicken cut into bite size pieces (optional if you want to stay vegetarian/vegan)
1 cup of sliced onions/leeks/scallions (your preference)
3 8 oz. packages  Tofu Shirataki noodles, spaghetti or fettucini style (An entire package has only 40 calories. That’s only 20 calories per 4 oz. serving, and it is low carb and vegan.  I bought mine at Whole Foods for $1.39 each.)
2 cups chopped bok choy or baby bok choy (shredded Napa or Chinese cabbage works well too*)
2 cups green beans chopped into bite size pieces
2 cups sliced red, yellow and/or orange pepper
1/2 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you like)
1 large carrot sliced
1 large zucchini sliced
1-2 large sweet potatoes cut into chunks
fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, chopped for garnish/to add on top
* you can add or exchange with almost any vegetable you like that is in season/on sale, e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, yellow summer squash, etc.
Cooking Instructions
1.  If you’re making this with chicken, chop and brown the chicken in 1 T vegetable oil. Then add the onions, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes and sautee.  I like to make this recipe in a wok.
2.  Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, stock and let simmer.  If you like a little more sweet with your heat, add 1-3 tsp of sweetener to taste  (honey, sugar, agave nectar, splenda, etc.)
3.  Add the root vegetables that need a longer cook time. Then add the other vegetables.
4.  Rinse the tofu noodles very well under cold running water and let drain in a colander.
5.  Add the noodles and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
6.  Ladle into serving bowls and top with fresh chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
This recipe makes 6 good size portions at only about 300 calories per satisfying serving.  Enjoy!
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Article from EverydayHealth – Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!)

Posted on May 7, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Health & Beauty, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Top 10 Budget-Friendly Foods (Healthy Ones!)

Tightening your belt these days? You don’t have to cut back on healthy foods as you’re trimming your family food budget! Here are 10 top picks for economical and delicious healthy foods

1. Oats

2. Healthy Frozen Mixed-Vegetable Blends

3. Fresh Fruit: Bananas, Apples, and Oranges

4. Lentils

5. Beans (Canned or Dried)

6. Peanut Butter

7. Canned Salmon

8. Fat-Free Yogurt

9. Eggs

10. Sweet Potatoes

I’m happy to say these are all a part of my regular diet, though I should try to eat beans and lentils more often.

For the complete article, click here

(more…)

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The Oprah Winfrey Show/KFC Grilled Chicken Two-Piece Meal Coupon

Posted on May 6, 2009. Filed under: Cooking and Eating, Entertainment, No Money Fun | Tags: , , , , , |

The Oprah Winfrey Show/Kentucky Grilled Chicken Two-Piece Meal Coupon

Kentucky Grilled Chicken

Get two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit!

Limited Time Download
Coupon download available from 9 a.m. CDT on May 5, 2009, to 11:59 p.m. CDT on May 6, 2009. Coupon is redeemable at participating KFC® locations in the United States from May 5, 2009 to May 19, 2009—excluding Mother’s Day, May 10, 2009.

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How My Friend Elyse Stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in Jamaica for FREE by Teaching Yoga Classes

Posted on May 5, 2009. Filed under: Health & Beauty, Travel & Leisure | Tags: , , , |

I met my friend Elyse about 15 years ago at a health club in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  She was my aerobics instructor and we also became workout buddies.  Her warm, friendly personality clicked with mine and when I found out Elyse also had a career in high tech marketing, I knew we would become good friends. I was even a bridesmaid at her wedding.

Elyse has her own PR consultancy.  One of the things I have long admired about Elyse is her ability to juggle and balance all the aspects of her life – her busy career, her husband and two kids, her extended family and friendships, and time to take care of herself.   She is very organized and efficient so she finds ways to combine her lifestyle and interests whenever possible.  For example, she teaches yoga and spinning classes at her local healthclub in the suburbs a few days a week and her entire family of four enjoys a free club membership.

In February, Elyse went on a fabulous week long vacation to Jamaica with her family without spending a lot of money.  They were even able to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort in Rose Hall for free.  How, you ask?   Elyse signed up at a website called http://www.fitnessprotravel.com which facilitates the exchange of services between specialty professionals and numerous all-inclusive resorts and vacation destinations.  Resort locations currently include the Caribbean, Brazil and Mexico.

The website helped match her skills as a certified yoga and fitness instructor with resorts that offer teaching opportunities in exchange for a comped (i.e., free) room for Elyse and one guest (kids under 12 at no additional charge).  In this case, she also received a $150 daily food allowance which they usually used for dinners. Another way they saved money was by shopping at the local market and using the fridge in their room.  They were also able to use frequent flyer miles for 3 of the 4 tickets to Jamaica.

The teaching contract was for 3 one hour classes a day, 7 days, Sunday – Sunday. Elyse taught 2 classes each morning, a core training for abs and and back, and then a vinyasa flow yoga class and was done teaching by 10:00 am.  She also taught another yoga class at 5:00 pm.  She had the bulk of each day to spend with her family.  Elyse was able to swap classes with another visiting instructor to have a full afternoon free to go on a longer day trip, to  Ocho Rios and Dunn’s River Falls.  They saved money on the day trip by negotiating a flat fee with a local taxi driver and hired him for the day, which also gave them much greater flexibility over the tour bus option.

Elyse said it was one of their best family vacations  and the first one she has taken where she ate really well but didn’t gain any weight.  Click here to see photos of Elyse teaching her yoga class outside overlooking the beach and some from their vacation in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Kind of inspires me to want to go get certified in something.  You should register on the fitnessprotravel.com site if you are any of the following:

CEC Provider Chiropractor
Club/Studio Operator Dietician
Fitness Enthusiast GFI & Yoga Combo
Golf Pro Grp Fitness Inst.
Health/Fitness Biz Masseuse
Nurse Personal Trainer
Squash Pro Tennis Instructor
Yoga / Pilates
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