Free Stuff at the Curbside Boutique!

Mom, Totem Pole, Holly & Lucky
One of my more exciting Curbside Boutique finds, after quite a bit of renovation

Besides people spring cleaning and putting things in the alley, many communities have organized curbside pickups on Saturday mornings. That means Fridays draw people like me to pick up treasures. This saves the cities some work and means more is salvaged and less gets crushed in the jaws of garbage trucks and goes to landfills. Junking is definitely becoming cool, so if you’re ready to try your luck, here’s my advice.

First, a couple of cautionary notes. Before you start, think safety. Children, rescuers, and haulers are vulnerable to broken glass, sharp metal, moldy or contaminated garbage. Yes, there IS some real trash out there with the treasures, and it belongs in closed containers. Let’s not scatter it and give authorities a reason to ban the practice of salvage—it’s a win-win if done right.

If you’re the one with things to discard, don’t assume everything useful will be rescued—it won’t. Check your community’s Green Guide or contact for organizations that will pick up donations and leave a receipt for tax deductions. What a deal! If you use open boxes or clear plastic bags, rescuers won’t open them unless they see something they want. Appliances? Attaching a note about whether or not it works is extremely helpful and appreciated. Salvagers—please don’t cut the cords. Give it a chance to be used or repaired, or recycled by the city.

Now for the fun! Bring gloves and some tools. You may find a great thing attached to a not-so-great thing by a few screws. A measuring tape helps with large items as well as those jeans—(you don’t have to pay high prices for holes and fringe!) since there won’t be a dressing room out there. Of course, if you pick up all the good clothing and bring it to a homeless shelter, you’ll feel even better than when you find something for yourself.

Go ahead—invite your neighbor with his SUV, and provide a day of “meaningful” work for the much-maligned vehicle. My multimillionaire friend offered to take me in her brand-new truck, and we had a ball—both cruising and talking about it later. I still have the marble table we found—thank goodness we had four hands and a 4×4!

found fence 600 px
This year’s favorite find: a nicely weathered fence, (cut into pieces for easy transport) which I will re-connect around my compost pile


This is a great place for the waterless hand cleaners, but I also bring my water bottle and an old towel. A few snacks and a fitting soundtrack adds a picnic flair to your outing, but keep the volume down. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the new, healthier and truer American mindset: you’re not cheap—you’re resourceful—saving money while saving the earth.

The most important tools of all? A smile, a sense of humor, and gratitude. Take these and I can almost guarantee you some good stories. But leave your judgment at home. If you’re willing to accept this manna from heaven, accept that the angels who put it there have any number of reasons for living the way they do and letting their lives spill out onto the curb.

© 2014 Holly Jorgensen, Northern Holly Creations

(For more on the Curbside Boutique, read my article, Oh, the things you’ll find at the Curbside Boutique)

Thank you, Minnesota Women’s Press

for including my essay in your April issue. You also gave me the incentive I needed to get my website up and running!

Here’s the essay, and the link to it in the Women’s Press e-edition. Read it there, or here, or pick up a free print copy at your library or other news stands.

Frugally Rich and Green – Minnesota Women’s Press, April 2014, p 31

I relish the deep freedom I’ve found – from debt, worry, and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses
–Holly Jorgensen

Frugally Rich and Green
Holly Jorgensen

Other little girls learned to scream at the sight of spiders, but I was lucky. My father pointed out the beneficial beauty of a black-and-yellow spider catching bugs in her web.

When we stayed at a rustic little cabin, I fell in love with the rough wood covered in vines and surrounded by quiet. As a teenager canoeing in the Boundary Waters, I was awed by the stunning attire of loons and formed friendships with fellow paddlers, which disproved the importance of fancy clothes and popular styles.

Now, living on a tiny lake, I swim through water lilies that keep it clean; I find tiny fawns among wildflowers; I am blessed daily by the gifts of Mother Nature.

It’s not surprising that I strive to live lightly on the Earth, so as not to destroy what I love most. Growing up on rummage sales, I became an expert scavenger. I relish the deep freedom I’ve found – from debt, worry and the pressure to keep up with the Joneses.

Decades of observing “trash” have helped me see the incredible waste inherent in our consumer culture – the resources that go into the gazillions of things that build profits but that contribute little to our well-being, quickly ending up in landfills.

Sitting on the high, tiny deck I call my “tree house,” I feel the breeze of wings on my cheek. A hummingbird hovers at my feeder, fueling up for its thousand-mile journey to survive the winter. I marvel at its efficient use of a bit of nectar. But I can’t ignore the community of ants inside the feeder, drifting in various stages of sugar intoxication, blind to the warning from the dead bodies floating around them. The irresistible abundance of the sweet life seduces them; they find themselves drowning in their own gluttony and fouling their beautiful world.

We can do better.

By saying “Whoa!” to the cult of accumulation and “Aah, yes!” to simplicity and sustainability, we can become more truly ourselves, rather than cogs in the wheels of consumption and waste. Resting gratefully in the bosom of sufficiency, we can revel in the treasures of nature.

Holly Jorgensenspeaks on “Saving Money, the Planet, and Your Sanity” and is writing “Free, Green, and Frugally Rich-Scenes From a Joyful Life.”

Welcome to my world

Thanks to Carol Gillen for taking this photo of me and the latest stray kitten.

            Thank you for visiting my site! I’ll keep this first post simple, and hope you’ll explore the pages and give me your thoughts.  

I just had a lovely walk around my little lake in the winter wonderland left by the snowstorm. Beautiful! It recalls the card Mom and I made and sent for the holidays this year.

holiday card 2013








Seasons come, seasons go      

Time to rest, time to grow        

Secrets hidden under snow            

Bless us bye and bye        


Beauty and blessings to you in 2014