Good News Monday, Feb 24


Welcome to the last week in February can you believe March will be here Saturday?  I have a mixed bag of good news for you today.  Before we hopefully say goodbye to winter I was able to get out this weekend and have a few winter pictures to share with you.  When you look at the pictures keep in mind I took these after 3 days of warm weather and rain so a lot had melted.

First up, while I try to keep politics to a minimum here I can’t help but cheer at the news coming out of Maryland.  Maryland a state many of us see as an extension of Washington D.C. is attempting to stand up the the National Security Agency and prevent the NSA from spying within its borders.


Last week I asked for ideas on how to upholster my free loveseat. The discussion that followed showed me that I am not the only one looking for a healthier materials for the home.  Then I was sent a link by a reader which I enjoyed enough that I continued on to read the comments when I came across Making the Bed. I know how I will be upholstering the loveseat and thought I would pass it on to anyone who wanted to make their own mattress as the instructions are very simple to follow. I may one day take on the bigger job of making my own mattress. :-)


The Less is More Festival in Perth was a roaring success, check out the pictures. Classes offered included making toothpaste and deodorant, bread making, a community gardens workshop,  and a sewing workshop to just name a few.  In some classes there were so many interested people had to be turned away.  It’s good to see people taking an interest in learning about sustainable practices.


In Bogota, Columbia what started as a single car free day  and continued for 14 years has now become a car free week.  The first ever car free week of February 6-13 was a success.  If a city with a population of 7 million can go car free for an entire week for the health of the planet couldn’t more cities follow suit?


What can you do with an abandoned World War II air raid bunker?  Besides tearing it down you can produce clean energy, provide educational visitors area and even a cafe. What once was idle for decades now produces energy for 3,000 homes and has enough power to provide services to an additional 1,000.

That’s my good news for the week, what’s yours?

20 thoughts on “Good News Monday, Feb 24

  1. OK… so I’m wading in on the stuffing discussion here. Please forgive my roundabout and blathering comment…

    I had a disheartening day where I set off to do some experiments with old sheets trying to see what might work as a slip cover for my couch and love seat, and ended up nearly knocking myself unconscious as I bashed my head on the underside of the stairs trying to haul an old trunk of linens out.

    At that point CatMan intervened… well, to be fair, I called him in an inconsolable pile of tears as I was dizzy, nauseous, and not sure if I needed to go to the emergency room or not – I was also really pissed off that I didn’t have anything that was gonna work, and was gonna either have to drive all over to various thrift stores looking for something or buy some new sheets or something.

    Long story short… he managed to convince me that if making slip covers was gonna result in hundreds of dollars of medical bills and/or trips all over town in a pissed off fury, it really didn’t qualify as a “simple” or “frugal” project, and that my mental state about the whole thing indicated to him that I really shouldn’t be trying to take on any major projects right now… Yeah, I kinda knew that, but sometimes it takes hearing it from somebody else for it to sink in.

    Soooo… a few Google searches later and my birthday present is on its way – a matching set of slipcovers for my chair, love seat and sofa… and no more concussions.

    Anyhow, with that as a backdrop, I’ve sorta decided that perhaps now is not the best time for me to be trying to re-build my featherbed/mattress that we use for movie nights. But the thing really, REALLY needs to be dealt with.

    So now to the point. I’ve been looking at what I might be able to replace it with and have stumbled upon all cotton futon mattresses. They apparently make futons mattresses of all varieties – some have foam, or even coils, but some are all cotton – so I’m kinda thinking this might be the concussion/tantrum-free solution to my little dilemma. I can’t find much information as to whether they have flame retardants in them or not, so more research is warranted, but I thought I’d pass along the tip as perhaps it might work for your sofa situation.

    Once again, sorry for the long comment – I think I needed to vent.


    • p.s. I LOVED the homemade bed post… and if I were in a different place mentally, I think I might actually try to go that route. But clearly, I don’t have it in me for a big project right now!


    • Cat, I love your comments don’t apologize. I hope you are feeling better now. What a day you had. I think a matching set of covers will help in a big way to make the changes you have been wanting to make around your home.

      I’d like to hear more about your cotton futon mattresses. The way I understand it, per US regulations no mattress is allowed to be sold commercially in the country unless it has flame retardants in it.

      To make a long story a bit shorter, flame retardants were some thing the cigarette industry pushed for because smoking was seen as a danger after fires were started when people fell asleep while smoking. Leave it to them to not only make and sell a dangerous product but to add another dangerous chemical to our homes to protect their industry.


      • You are correct… all of my research indicates that everything is treated with boric acid these days. Good lord… it just shouldn’t be so difficult! I guess I have to do some research to see how much I care or not about the boric acid – there seems to be some controversy about how toxic it is. I mean all of the green blogs advocate using Borax to make homemade laundry detergent – so I’m not sure what that means. It’s OK on clothes but not mattresses? Sigh. Anyhow, don’t EVEN get me started on the tobacco industry.

        Anyhow, what I did discover was that the REALLY bad stuff is the PBDEs that are used as flame retardants in foam. BUT apparently that practice wasn’t started until 2007 so a bed made before then is generally considered to be less toxic than a new one. Sooo… maybe that’s another vote for not replacing the bed until you absolutely have to!


        • Cat, there is a change in opinion about borax for laundry. I gave up using it when one day the dust caused me to have an asthma attack. I thought anything that affected my lungs like that can’t be so wonderful. Here’s a link you may find useful:

          Yay! I’m good with my mattress as it was given to me (new) in 2001!! The only thing I have to worry about is the mites and possibly the breakdown of the foam I’m guessing is inside it.


  2. lots of interesting links. sure do like the one about the bed.

    thought of mentioning this before, and thought it might be too weird, but…..
    one more suggestion (ok, two) to use for the “stuffing” if you make your own..

    hair off of a long haired dog…. this can be cleaned and “combed”, or spun into longer strands, or worked into “pads”, or crocheted into sheets/afghans.. (I only know this from reading about it)

    horse hair….(I think), this is from cut off tails/manes. long ago, I recall reading about folks saving this, and using horse hair to stuff cushions/mattresses/ well as spinning it into yard/weaving it into blankets.

    I can tell you, from first hand experience, it makes an incredibly durable/long lasting stuffing for a couch (so might also truly be great for a mattress).

    I have a lot of allergies, so I wouldn’t have “chosen” this, due to concern about it maybe breaking down/ attracting “critters”, however, I came to own a horse hair stuffed couch, sort of by accident.

    I was at a auction, for quite a variety of old goods. happened to be sitting in front row, and the room had a hard cement floor. the auctioneer was tough, and every thing went very pricey. much more than I had to spend.

    finally he came around to this old/ very dirty looking couch, which was directly in front of me. I had gotten chatting with the lady in front of me, and we looked it over, and after giving it a kick (when no one was looking) to see if it was sturdy (it was on old wheels, and we wanted to see if indeed it was heavy, therefore made of solid wood, etc), we were shocked at how heavy it was. We both agreed it was very very old, but VERY dirty. She also said she wouldn’t bid, as she had no way to get it delivered. We both assumed it would go high…

    However, I had recently learned of a furniture restore place which offered free pick up and delivery, regardless of how much work they did.

    the bidding started. no one bid (it looked very dirty). finally the auctioneer was muttering he had been told this item MUST go, regardless of price. ( I could hear as I was very close). I got it for a few dollars, and phoned the furniture place, asked them to pick it up, and let me know costs, would the stuffing need redoing, cover need re doing , etc.

    got a call from the furniture place. they too loved old furniture, and were apparently VERY honest.

    he advised me to only have it cleaned, as the fabric was good under the dirt.

    also, to NEVER restuff it, as it was stuffed with horse hair, and in perfect condition.

    in the end, I paid to have them clean it, and re tie one or two springs. I think it came to about fifty dollars.

    then they delivered it to my home.

    ten years later, is still good.

    so, …horse hair…for your stuffing may indeed be a durable option..

    (oh, this couch is about 120 years old…could be much more, the furniture guy wasn’t sure at all)


    • Lynn, what a deal you got! I can picture it by your description of being on wheels. You were lucky to have an honest person look it over for you.

      I should have thought of horse hair as it was used extensively around these parts. Most of the older homes even have walls that were plastered with horse hair mixed in to make it hard and last forever We lived in a home with horse hair plaster when my oldest was 17. He was upset one day and as he was walking up the stairs I saw he was getting ready to punch the wall. Before I had a chance to warn him he hit it and paid a price for it. That wall was like hitting concrete. I finally broke him from punching things that day. :-)


      • ouch for your son, however, I read once that lessons hardest learned are longest remembered (gee, I too am a Mom…)

        re the horse hair..oh what fun that you are in an area with such a history of it…

        maybe you will run across someone who actually used it/knows lots about it. if so, I would love to hear more.


  3. Lois I enjoyed reading making the bed. When I googled making a natural mattress I was shocked that many used foam rubber or egg crate as a core. It is another example of how most people have been misled about what is natural. Just because it is wrapped in wool does not make it natural. The tying off process reminds me of my quilting days. I never did this but I remember watching a quilting show on diy TV that talked about quilting bees with the quilt on a frame and the children sitting under the frame catching the needles to pass back through for tying off. I bet your grandchildren would be eager to help. This is the kind of project that would lend itself to a group effort gathering family and friends to help. I believe the TV episode was looking at Navajo quilting. They also made the long needles out of something homemade, I will have to dig that up. Maybe bicycle spokes? I know that some South American Indians knit with bicycle spokes. There are some breeds of sheep that are adapted to desert conditions. As I have said before it is possible to get wool for free since you don’t need it to be spinning quality. Maybe post on craigslist for wool from pet sheep. Sheep need to be sheared but if the wool is not being sold for spinning it may be cut with regular shears then burned or thrown away. I used to spin as well as quilt. I still knit. I do know some things about sheep. They are susceptible to certain parasites and diseases that don’t affect us but they are “dipped” in various things as treatment,so if you are able to get free local fleece check on what they are treated with, natural or artificial dips. You can make your own wool batts. We forget that people have been working with natural fibers and wool for millennia before machines. For thousands of years all cloth including sails on ships was made of fiber that was cleaned,carded,spun and woven by hand. Even spinning wheels have only been around a few centuries. So it is possible to take raw wool from sheep to batt without a lot of equipment. The hardest part is cleaning and washing raw wool but you have energetic grandkids to help. When the weather warms up I would put them to work. If you need info check with your local hand spinners guild or I can pass along any info I have. Shearing season will be coming up soon as spring nears so if you hope to get some free or low cost wool I would start making inquirys.
    I don’t have good news to share, we are waiting on many things. I doubt the offer on our rental property will come through, they are offering too little, we have come down some but we are selling for much less than what we bought the house for over 11 years ago, we have never broken even on rents making mortgage payments and expenses so we have invested more every year. We will likely not get back even the down payment which was my husband’s inheritance from his parents’ will. His parents loved the ocean and the beach, my husband spent summers on the Jersey Shore in a rented cottage and the summer before she died we had rented a house on the beach in the Outer Banks on Hatteras Island. We shared expenses and my husband’s sisters, brother, their spouses and children all came so we had a great time. The next summer we rented again and scattered his parents’ and his grandmother’s ashes in the ocean with 13 family members present. We bought the rental house so we could go to the beach 3 or 4 times a year but also investing in real estate was safer than other options at the time. It was also a remembrance of my mother on law, a wonderful woman who I hope I can emulate for my children’s spouses. I tease my husband that he married his mother, we have the same first name and of course once married the same last name. It is hard to sell the house but with the kids grown and gone we do not go as often plus it is no longer a good investment. Much of our timetable of what we do and when depends on whether my husband gets the position at work he is up for. If my husband gets the new position he will be traveling more but our larger concern is that they may require him to relocate to the town where corporate HQ is(2 hours from our present home) and that he come into the office daily. The bizarre part is that his boss the VP of QA has no issue with him working from home every day, he says Steve gets much more work done from home than anyone he has had working in a similar position who came into the office Monday through Friday. He cares about results not that it is a different way of doing things. My husband was not even going to consider this promotion because it would mean more travel and more time away from me but I was enthusiastic about the chance for him to have some recognition for his hard work in revamping and streamlining the documentation and reporting system of a huge international medical device company from each plant and each country using their own forms and systems into a universal document system enabling tracking and reporting problems to be faster so they can be fixed more quickly or avoided entirely before product is even shipped out. Thus he keeps people working who are otherwise laid off while manufacturing issues are addressed and he safeguards patients from being given products that could be defective by making sure all preconsumer testing has been done correctly and thoroughly and any problems found are tracked forward to block further delivery and backwards to find the source of the problem. This is an American company started and owned by Americans and headquartered in a town in upstate NY. Sadly they have been forced to lay off a third of their workforce in the last 3 years and move more manufacturing to Mexico due to high taxes in NY and the US. They cannot cut costs on materials to use substandard so they have to find cheaper labor. There are many knockoffs of their products being made in China that are cheaper but have a much higher failure rate. To pay for the new healthcare system, medical device manufacturers are taxed a percentage of each device made(not sold) plus they are told what they are allowed to charge. Even if they sell more devices, if each one can only be sold for less than it costs to manufacture, the company cannot stay in business. This is family owned and we are not talking profits,we are talking survival. Even if my husband gets the promotion there is no guarantee the company will stay in business. We are fortunate in that we can afford for him to retire, but other people will lose their jobs who are less fortunate than we are. Not much good news for good news Monday.


    • I like the idea of the little ones helping me to sew the cushions for the loveseat. It would be a good introduction to quilting for them and of course the loveseat would become their favorite piece of furniture as a result. Everyone would hear the story of how they made it. :-)

      I may look at using raw wool to make a mattress at one point, my mattress is getting pretty old, but the thing holding me back from using that method now for the loveseat was reading it has to be opened, wool removed fluffed and more added every few years. Most said 10 but once I get it together I am not sure I would ever get the energy to take it apart. Plus I have no idea where I will be physically in 10 years.

      I have been making a lot of changes lately in the materials I use. With a new grand-baby on the way I have done research on natural yarns, from wool to hemp. And I am teaching myself how to make my own clothes, starting with smaller items for the children. I have been seeking out vintage fabrics for clothes. And thanks to another blogger I am planning to make my first pair of shoes from natural materials.

      I hope your husband can help to save the business I’m sure he has grown to love. The changes which are coming at us due to the new insurance law is ridiculous. With most employers moving to part-time, minimum wage jobs families are struggling, doctors are giving up and leaving practices, and now a business is being taxed on what they make, not what they sell? With that in place there is very little incentive to continue hiring and producing. Plus R&D will be cut as a result. I wonder where all this will finally lead to. I hope families and small businesses have time to make the changes they will need to prosper in the new economy.


      • I had wondered about about how wool stuffing would stand up over time. I would worry that body heat,sweating and movement could cause the wool to felt over time. It is used as quilt batting but that would be thinner. It might be worth making a pillow and using it for a while to see how it stood up to use,use it as a backrest or sit on it it a chair or ask the kids and grandkids to use it on a regular basis to get an idea of how it handles. Talking to the Amish or Mennonites about what they use is a great idea. I am a big fan of not trying to reinvent the wheel and the Anabaptist sects are a window into how things were done in the past before as many synthetics were available. My dil came from a Mennonite background. She dresses modern and played soccer in college but her religious beliefs, her lack of dependence on material things and her love of cooking from scratch(she bakes her own bread, makes her own granola and soup never comes from a can) probably stem from her background. My son is impressed and proud of his wife’s skills but he is no slouch in cooking, he does his share too. My children learned household skills early due to my long hours. If they wanted something washed or ironed they did it themselves because mom was sitting with a labor patient. We had a full time sitter who lived in when she wasn’t caring for her mother with Alzheimer’s but we stressed that she was not a maid, she was more of a grandma. The kids were responsible for cleaning their own rooms,doing their chores and participating in meal preparation and cleanup. Too many young people never learn the basics. I was shocked when I went to college how many people could not do laundry or cook a simple meal.
        I made a fair amount of baby and kids clothes. I used to have a jumper pattern for my daughter I used over and over. If I saw a material I liked I knew if I had a yard of it I could whip up a jumper in less than an hour. If your new grand baby is on cloth diapers I have become a big fan of wool soakers. They are a fantastic replacement for plastic pants and they are easy to make whether you knit or crochet. I have made lots for my grand baby. They live in Florida so there are not a lot of things I can knit for him. He has just started to get hair so I have made him lots of hats. Wool is a wonderful fiber because it keeps you warm when it is cold(even when wet) and breathes when it is hot. I would knit running socks for my son who loved them and wore them in all weather, they are much less likely to cause blisters. If it was over 90, he switched to a wool bamboo blend. Bamboo is a nice knitting fiber that wears well and is cooler. Bamboo is fast growing and not as rough on the environment as cotton. Cotton takes a lot of water to grow and even if grown organically can cause water supplies to be drastically depleted. Cotton does not wear as well either plus it soaks up and holds water and can contribute to hypothermia. I used to be a distance runner and backpacker before my injury and learned a lot about fibers from that as well as from spinning, knitting and crocheting. I have been collecting baby patterns again since I found my daughter was expecting our first grand baby,I would be happy to pass on anything I have you are looking for.
        The health care situation is sadly unnessesary. If health care workers had been involved in the planning from the start many problems could have been avoided. A program designed by bureaucrats and politicians who have no idea or experience in providing and delivering healthcare is based on polls and special interest groups not science and reality. Anytime the government would implement some new program it always meant more paperwork,red tape and denial of care and benefits to patients. There was no preparation for how care will be provided to the people who will now have coverage. There was a shortage of doctors and nurses already before 40 million previously uninsured are provided coverage. I have seen something similar in workman’s comp,while you may be eligible and approved for care but you cannot find someone to provide it, it saves money while the system can point to the stats to say that the care was approved. One of the saddest things is that there were programs already in place that could have handled the problem of the uninsured if they had been made available on a sliding scale to those who made too much to be eligible for assistance rather than start from scratch. The billing rates,procedures and coding would be in place and years of political infighting avoided. Politics and healthcare should be mutually exclusive. I am not a fan of politicians of any party, in my opinion they have become an elite who do not feel that they should have to follow the same rules the rest of us do. My opinion, which counts for nothing, is that a congressman’s salary should be the same as that of the average citizen of their district, with the same health coverage, vacation time and holidays as the average citizen. They should not be allowed to vote for their own benefits or salary. Their pension and retirement benefits should be commeasurate with the length of their term and again consistent with that of the average citizen. Of course they are the ones in charge of making laws and will never change anything. It would take a grassroots uprising to make changes. But since they are in control of the armed forces and surveillance plus have disarmed most law abiding citizens both figuratively and in actuality and have been able to distance themselves from the great unwashed masses as they view us so there is little hope to change the system. I am sorry to sound so bitter and political here but I dedicated my life to taking care of people and I can see a major disaster coming in healthcare that could have been avoided. People are going to suffer needlessly. In the last 10 years I have struggled through one of the worst health care delivery systems, set up and run by governmental bureaucracy and even with having dealt with that system for two decades as a physician it is nearly impossible to get care. Plus there is no real appeal process just as in the system they are now shoving down our throats. If you don’t like it too bad, there is no appeal or opting out. We have had our choice taken away. You can keep your old plan except the old plan has been deemed by the government to not meet their standards so they got rid of it through the back door. Thank God people are starting to realize the glaring flaws in this system though it may be too late.


        • Maryalma, you are a fountain of information I didn’t know. I have to thank you for the information on the mattresses as it has led me to a plan for an inexpensive yet healthy upholstery method for my loveseat.

          No, unfortunately my grand-babies have all and will all use disposable diapers.I’ve rubbed off on my daughters-in-law in many areas but not this one. but a soaker is a good idea for those potty training moments when they need to leave the house.

          As for the insurance, I quite agree with you. Programs like medicare and medicaid could have been extended with a sliding scale for those who didn’t fit the requirements of the programs and doctors already knew how to handle the paper work, although a more timely payment to doctors would be necessary. My understanding is this was a way to increase taxes without calling it a tax. I too am not a fan of politics or politicians. Our founding fathers saw government jobs as civic duty and not a way to become rich. They should not have better pay and benefits than the rest of the population.

          Oh, and my boys. I had met one man who couldn’t do anything for himself. Not boil water, do laundry etc. I refused to allow my boys to grow up and search for a woman to take care of them. They worked around the home on repairs with me, assisted in car repairs, and learned to cook, sew, iron and do laundry. I felt any parent that didn’t teach their child to care for themselves wasn’t fulfilling their responsibility to the child.


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