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I decided last summer that I wanted a food dehydrator. I oven-dried some tomatoes and they were delicious, but it took about 3 days in the oven. I looked at about a million of them on Amazon and was about to order one recently when I thought hey – why don’t I place a ‘wanted’ on freecycle? Seems like the kind of thing someone might purchase with good intentions and never really use. I have given away a lot via freecycle, but this is the first thing I have taken.

Sure enough, the next AM I had an offer from someone who got one for a wedding gift 7 years ago and had never used it! I picked it up from the end of her driveway later that afternoon. It’s the Nesco FD-40 Snackmaster Elite. They don’t make it any more, but it’s similar to this, only without the timer and temp options. And mine is 400-watt, I think. It’s not that loud either, which is nice.

the beginning

The Beginning

This weekend, I finally gave it a try with some apples and bananas. Here’s what I did:
1. Washed and sliced apples. I used Golden Delicious since that’s the only kind of apple I like. I sliced them with my new mandoline that I am totally in love with. I used the thick setting and then sliced them lengthwise with a knife. The best bits are the end pieces with lots of skin, though.
2. Tossed the apples in a mix of a little lemon juice and some orange juice. This is to keep them from getting brown (if you didn’t know, you can do this for sliced apples in a lunchbox, too. I also tossed them with a little cinnamon and sugar, just to make them extra good.
3. Sliced banana thin and also dunked it in the lemon/orange mix, just for kicks.
4. Piled them in and dried on Saturday for about 8 hours. Turned it off overnight and gave them another 3 hours or so today.

The End

The End

They are SO GOOD. A little tart, sweet, and crunchy. They tasted good after being dried just a little (I’d grab one every now and then yesterday – you know, to check…). Today they are excellent. I could probably have dried them a bit longer, but since I know they’ll be gone by the end of the week most likely, I’m not concerned with them being 100% dry for long-term storage.

Had some on top of my cereal this AM and have been snacking on them all day. I bought some more apples and grabbed a giant bag or ripe bananas they marked down to 60¢ (for the whole bag! dried bananas and banana bread FTW), so I can make some more. I want to try different fruit as well, but nothing really caught my eye today.

Next I want to try other fruits (I’m wondering how something like beets might be, too…?), fruit rolls (it came with one fruit roll sheet), and maybe some jerky for the hubby. This summer, I can use it for tomatoes, herbs, and peppers as well. Kind of excited! Yay freecycle!!

Herb AlmanacFEBRUARY 28: Aspen trees bloom now. “Aspen tree, and may also be called Tremble, after the French name, considering it is the matter whereof women’s tongues were made (as the poets and some others report), which seldom cease wagging.”—John Gerard, Herbal 1633

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It’s that time of year when posts will be fewer and farer betweener. Yesterday we had a lovely typical Southern Maryland mix of cold rain, sleet, and snow – just enough to ruin plans to go to Bethesda for a friend’s housewarming party (it was snowing a lot more up there). It usually doesn’t get quite this cold quite this early here, but oh well. I emptied out the few remaining ceramic pots I had out and put them in the *now garden-only!* shed.

Today we pretty much finished the whole shed deal! I don’t think I’ve posted a pic of it yet – still have to do that. But hubby and I went through everything in the AM and grouped like things together, and then I made a BIG list of things to post to Freecycle. Whatever was not taken we’d take and donate somewhere. Well everything was taken!! Almost everything – I still have 2 small outstanding posts, but see this pile below here? ALL of it has been taken or will be taken tomorrow AM – plus 4 large lawn and leaf bags full of men’s clothes that were picked up before I thought to take a pic! And hubby didn’t have to take a darn thing!

freecycled!

How great is that? Everything from comforters to poker chips. I highly encourage you to check out your local freecycle or start one if there isn’t one. The goal is to keep things out of landfills and give people an easy way to reuse things. I still have not ever taken anything from freecycle (have seen and missed some good things though, and currently there are a lot of plants listed because people can’t take them indoors for the winter), but I have given away:
1. a riding lawnmower that didn’t work any more (engine problem)
2. a pile of scrap wood
3. lots of misc old sheets and towels
4. old clothing
5. old comforters
6. old kitchen stuff

…and lots more! Not only am I keeping stuff from the landfill, but finding someone else who can use it. And the fact that they pick it up makes it SO easy! Who knows how long that stuff would have been sitting in the shed if we had to find somewhere to take it ourselves. One person who took a few things even said that since she was going to Habitat for Humanity tomorrow, she can take whatever other random stuff I have left and donate it to them for me with her stuff – YES! Awesome! There were a few more boxes of random stuff I left for her with a big “thank you.” The lady who took the 4 large bags of men’s clothes told me that her nephew from Florida was unexpectedly going to be staying with them for a while, and he came with only shorts and flip flops packed, plus her hubby is the same size. A batch of the home-related stuff went to someone who just moved and didn’t have a lot to start out with. I gave some wedding gift bags and photo albums to someone last week who said her sister is getting married soon.

How does it work? Each chapter has its own guidelines, but for my local one all you do is pick to put up a new post and make the subject “OFFER: item desc, location” then type a brief description in the body of the email. You can post a list of items as well and indicate that in the title (I chose to do all my separately which was a bit of a clusterfark organization-wise for me, but I never look at the lists myself so I wanted other people to see all my stuff individually). People look at the freecycle posts and send you an email via the post – you can take first come first serve, fastest pickup, etc. At this time you can give the person your address and directions and any pickup instructions (after a certain time, will be on the deck, need to knock and ask for help, etc). After that you generally want to post a “PPU: item, location” post that tells everyone the item is pending pickup and you will move down the list if that person is a no show. Once it is taken, either you or the taker will should post a “TAKEN: item, location” post so everyone knows its gone (though you will likely still get a few take offers from people who haven’t seen it yet).

Most freecycles will also have days where you can post a “WANTED” listing. There are special rules about this, but the general idea is basically the same. Right now waiting on the deck I have a box of juniors’ size clothes that are for a woman who placed a wanted for winter clothes for her daughter last week. I just responded and said I knew I had some and would get back to her when I had a chance to go through them and pack them up for her, so we’ve been in contact all week and she should pick them up tomorrow or Tuesday.

And if it seems like a ton of messages, don’t worry. I just set up a rule in my email that all posts from my local freecycle posting address will go to a special freecycle folder (be careful – you don’t want all freecycle posts to go there, or you may miss people replying to your posts) – then I don’t look at it unless I want to!

You really can get everything on freecycle – as long as the offer is *free,* you can list it! There are plenty of kitties that need a good home, people who cut out coupons for baby formula and save them up, lots and lots of baby and maternity stuff, plants and bulbs for sharing, furniture – everything! Below, though, is my favorite freecycle post ever, from my local freecycle. I share this one whenever I can!
tater tots

So um yeah, you can even get tater tots! Do you use freecycle? What have your experiences been?

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