Friday, April 29, 2011

Checking in...

I've been out of commission lately due to surgery so I apologize for not updating this blog personally. I am grateful for guest posts that allowed it to continue somewhat. Some of these guest writers are pretty good!

But everything else aside, it seems to be a time of disaster or potential disaster. For everyone affected by the severe weather in the south, my heart is with you. It's so frightening to see nature become violent.

Wednesday, April 27, marked another tragedy in that David Wilkerson, author of "The Cross and the Switchblade" and "The Vision" and the founder of the NY Times Square Church, died in a head on accident. The tragedy is as much in the fact that his passing was mostly ignored by the media, yet this man did more to change more lives than any politician has in centuries.

More and more it seems like we're living on the edge. I've been checking over my "bug out bag" and looking at emergency supplies. Earthquakes, tornadoes, personal tragedies... we can't control them, but we can be aware and prepared as much as possible.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guest Post: Five Tips for Mother's Day Shopping

If you're looking for great Mother's Day gift deals because you don't want to spend a fortune, the good news is – you don't have to. Following a few savvy shopping tips can help you land the best gifts at the best price. Here are five of those savvy shopping tips to help you get started.

1. Shop Clearance Sections
Clearance sections can be treasure troves of discounted items. Retailers will slash prices on old stock to make room for new. Some prices can be discounted by 75% or more off retail prices so this is definitely a do-not-miss area to check out.

2. Shop Ebay
You can find almost anything you're looking for on Ebay. Most Ebay sellers offer items at a cost far below retail value. Ebay isn't just for used items. You can find plenty of brand new items as well so it's worth checking out.

3. Gift Certificates
Even though a gift certificate may seem like an impersonal gift, there really are some great deals on them out there if you know where to look. Websites like Groupon will offer gift certificates to local area merchants at 50% or more off the retail value. For instance, a $100 gift certificate to a local spa may sell for $50 on Groupon – but you can still redeem it for $100 in services.

4. Book Trips Well In Advance
If you want to send your mom on a trip for Mother's Day, booking the accommodations months in advance will ensure that you get the best deal. Cruise lines, for instance, offer a savings of several hundred dollars off the price of a cruise if booked between certain dates. It doesn't have to coincide with Mother's Day. She can take the trip any time.

5. Err On The Side of Practicality
Instead of wracking your brain trying to think of something your mom might want, need or use – find out straight from her. Maybe she's been wanting her sewing machine repaired. Maybe the oil in her car needs changing. Maybe she wants to replace the curtains in her bedroom or buy new bedding. There may be something you can do for her that she wants and/or needs and it could cost considerably less than what you planned to spend anyway.

Todd is a writer for

Friday, April 15, 2011

Guest Post: Looking for a Cheap Mode of Transportation?

Due to the prohibitive prices of cars and gasoline, people all over the world are looking for cheaper ways to get around. Let's take a look at some practical (and not so practical) inexpensive modes of transportation.

Bullock Cart

Bullock carts have been used for transportation since ancient times in many parts of the world. People still use them today in areas where cars are too expensive or there isn't appropriate infrastructure for cars. They're still widely used in Malaysia, for example. The bullock cart is powered by one or several bulls. Did you know that in Mumbai the number of bullock carts registered in the city went up by 770 percent from from 2008 to 2009? Chances are you didn't!

Instead of buying an expensive 2011 Mercedes-Benz CL-Class automobile (MSRP $110,400, MPG - 11 city/17 highway), consider purchasing a 1200-pound Angus bull for about $2,500. If you're handy, make your own cart, buy some wooden wheels, and remember to stay off the freeways.

Auto Rickshaw

An auto rickshaw is a motorized, three-wheeled version of a traditional rickshaw. The popular air-cooled scooter has a two-stroke engine, with handle bar controls instead of a steering wheel. Originating from Thailand, auto rickshaws are widely used all over Asia. An Indian-made auto rickshaw typically gets 82 miles per gallon! They have a top speed of about 31 mph, so, again, stay off the freeways.

Llama Carts

If you and your llama are interested in getting a llama cart, there's an instructional video available that shows you how to train your llama to properly pull it. According to one expert (yes, there are experts on this subject), not all llamas are suited for pulling a llama cart.


Let your dog take you places in a dryland sacco cart! You probably shouldn't try this with a chihuahua.


Alright, time to get into some more practical alternatives! Buses are a cheap mode of transportation used all over the world. If you live and work in or near a city, buses or other modes of public transportation can bring you just about anywhere you'll need to go.


Scooters get a whopping 80 mpg or higher. A small 50cc scooter gets 100 miles per gallon and costs about $750. It has a top speed of about 40 miles per hour. A 150cc scooter averages about 70 miles per gallon, can go 60 miles per hour, and costs about $1500. You might feel silly riding one around town, but they are very cost efficient alternatives to cars.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that in 2008 it cost approximately 54 cents per mile to drive a medium size sedan, including gas. This number was based on a gas price of $3 per gallon, which seems like a bargain right now. Mike Mount, a spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Council, mentioned that it costs about 30 cents per mile to ride a scooter. Also, scooter insurance is significantly less than car insurance.


According to Allstate Insurance, the average motorcycle rider reports getting just over 56 miles per gallon, with some getting over 100. Automobile drivers, on the other hand, report an average of 22.4 miles per gallon. Also, on average, motorcycles cost less than cars. The list price of a Kawasaki KLR650, for example, is $6149 and it gets 60 miles to the gallon.


At a big box store, you can purchase a decent bicycle for about $100. At a store that specializes in bicycles, a good, comfortable hybrid bicycle costs between $300 and $600. You can cruise at about 10 to 15 miles per hour. Best of all, you won't have to worry about traffic jams anymore. A bike is a good alternative if your commute is minimal and you don't mind getting a little sweaty before work!

Electric Bike

After you start pedaling, turn the throttle and get a boost. You only have to pedal the bike lightly to keep it moving. U.S. law limits the speed of electric bikes to 20 mph, so in most states you won't need a special license, insurance, or registration. Some of the bikes using an internal combustion engine are powered without any need for pedaling.

According to, it only costs $0.10 on average to fully charge a battery. Given that, it costs less than a penny per mile to ride an electric bike. Retail prices range form $600 to $1100.

There are a variety of cheap modes of transportation out there. A llama and llama cart can pay for themselves if you're interested in selling llama fiber yarn! If owning livestock isn't really your thing, however, there are other options out there!

Besides being an "expert" on goat and llama carts, Brady Daniels also knows motorcycles. He writes feature articles about them for  Motorcycle Insurance Quote.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Odds and ends

I was cleaning out a file the other day and came across some interesting tips that I'd forgotten about. I could have used them, too. It doesn't do much good to have a lot of tips and good ideas if you forget about them when you need them, so these are going in a more current file so I can find them. I'll pass them on and if you don't have them, you can figure out how to keep them handy, too. ;)

Brass polish: One tablespoon of salt, one tablespoon of flour and one tablespoon of white vinegar. Mix until smooth and rub on brass with a cloth, then wash with warm soapy water.

Aluminum polish: Rub aluminum with crumpled aluminum foil to polish

Silver cleaner: You'll need an aluminum pan, a tablespoon of salt and a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix the soda and salt in a gallon of hot water in the aluminum pan and put your silverware, silver jewelry or other items in it to soak until it's clean. If you have access to raw milk, you can soak silver in soured milk. Pasteurized milk won't work - it has to be real milk that's soured.

Waterproof your leather boots or shoes with petroleum jelly. Rub it in and let it set overnight, then wipe off any excess.

If you have hardwood floors, you can give them a quick shine by putting a piece of wax paper on your dust mop and going over them with it. (It may take more than one piece of wax paper!)

Keep your bathroom fixtures shining by wiping them with lamp oil. Dampen a rag, splash a little lamp oil (this is processed kerosene)on it and wipe the chrome fixtures with it. I know it sounds strange, but try it, it really works.

Have you ever tried any of these?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Why we will experience a food shortage

Beyond the extremists and the survivalists, beyond those wanting to sell emergency food supplies and beyond those who blame the government for everything, there is a vague feeling of unease about food that has the potential to grow as the situation becomes more ominous.

At the end of this list is another list of links to articles around the internet. I've tried to omit the doomsdayers and find the true facts, but if you have anything to add, please do so.

Here's why I think we will experience a serious food shortage:

1. Natural weather disasters have caused more food production shortfalls than usual. We've felt the repercussions before when coffee and sugar production fell due to weather, but this is more widespread. Drought, floods, freezes and cooler than average or hotter than average temperatures have had devastating effects on crops.

2. Banks are unwilling to loan to farmers for fertilizer, seed, etc. The economy is taking its toll on farms that work like businesses in that they borrow working capital each year and pay it off when the crop comes in. Banks are not loaning anyone much any more and this includes farmers.

3. Legislation is making it more and more difficult for the small farmer or backyard food marketer to sell their produce. This will affect farmer's markets and roadside stands and limit your choices.

4. Developing countries like China are demanding more and better quality food as their standard of living rises and individuals are better able to afford dairy and meat. This takes grain to grow, which may be in short supply. See numbers 1 and 2.

5. Some nations are halting food exports to try to keep their own prices within reason. This leaves less on the market for other nations who depend on them and drives the price up.

6. The ever worrisome biofuel situation chimes in. Land that was once producing corn for feeding out cattle and hogs is now being used to produce corn for biofuel. As legislation, global politics and disasters push the price of oil up, biofuel beckons farmers with promises of making more money than if they were growing food.

7. Just a suspicion but I am in no way alone in this: Food reserves are down. Grains, dairy and other food surpluses are held by the government and released as needed. Food prices are at record highs for many of the reasons listed above... where are the reserves? Either we're being lied to about them or they're being withheld for political reasons. I don't know which I'd rather believe.