We have a peculiar phenomenon in my neighborhood which I have dubbed the “driveway discount program.” Here’s how it works. You take an item you don’t want, and put it at the end of your driveway. Sometimes people feel the need to place a sign on the item stating “FREE” but usually, especially for seasoned driveway discount “shoppers,” it’s implied that the reason the item is at the end of the driveway in the first place is because it’s, well…free.
Some people might claim this could be construed as littering, but honestly, in my rural neighborhood, good driveway discounts rarely last more than two or three hours, depending on traffic volume. However, there is a limit on what can be considered legitimate driveway “merchandise.” For instance, bagged trash is never going to fly, and even if you wanted to get rid of an empty garbage can, it’s unlikely that it would be snapped up either.
No, driveway discount items have to have a certain appeal. And that doesn’t take much, because, after all, they are already free. I myself have participated in many driveway discount pick-ups. Two items I am especially proud of include an old desk which I refinished, and a perfectly functional high chair which I gave to my neighbor when she was expecting her first baby. However, over the years I have seen a wide variety of items in the discount driveway program. Everything from lawn mowers to couches, bird cages to lamps, deer mounts to shoes and lots more. Once I even saw a huge flat screen TV while on my way to our little neighborhood store, and on the way home it had already been snatched up.
However, I’m not sure the driveway discount program is so popular in other areas. Recently a friend told me how he wanted to get rid of an old dresser. I told him about the driveway discount method, which he thought was a good idea. I even helped him lug the thing to the end of his driveway.
A couple of days later he called to inform me about his driveway discount experience. “After a day that dresser was still there, so just to be a smart aleck I put a sign on it that read ‘For sale $10,'” he said laughing. “And you know what? Someone stole it!”
Well, you really can’t bust your mind trying to figure out human nature, but I found it kind of ironic that about the time I was thinking that maybe an appropriate New Year’s resolution would be to eat healthier and get more exercise, an old exercise bike turned up in the driveway discount program up the road from my house.
I’m not a big believer in these resolutions because rarely do I keep them, but I have vowed in 2012 to eat better and exercise more. In fact, I have been closely watching for more nutritious recipes to not only try, but also make a habit of including in my daily routine. I figure these types of small steps will develop into bigger successes as the year wears on, and I’ve included some of those recipes for this week.
But the exercise part of the equation has always eluded me. In the summer it’s not problem. Gardening, mowing grass, swimming and just being all around more active seems to keep me fit, but I have no discipline during the winter months. I thought maybe an exercise bike, placed smack dab in the middle of the living room floor, might give me the incentive to hop on it every once in a while. And so when I saw one in the driveway discount program, I was intrigued.
I pulled over, and despite the fact that snow was coming down at a steady and blinding pace, I hopped on this ancient model to try it out. As luck would have it, the morning school bus went by just then, and in an effort to appear like I did this every day and not like the idiot I was actually portraying, I gave a hearty wave to all, only to be rewarded with laughing faces, gaping mouths and pointing fingers.
However, as I started to pedal, I could tell this was going to be one rough ride. I believe the model I was on was the first ever made, and as the seat bore into my butt like a pointed rock, the pedals turned as if they were mired in molasses-laden sand. I couldn’t get off fast enough.
I am glad to report though, that when I returned home that night, the exercise bike was gone, proof that the driveway discount program really does work, at least in my neighborhood. So much for that New Year’s resolution though; unless maybe something else intriguing comes up in the driveway discount program. And honestly, it always does.
Morning Wake-Up Smoothie
1 apple, cored, peeled and sliced
1 lemon, peeled and seeded
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup ice
2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and crushed
Place ingredients in a blender. Blend on low until smooth.
10 carrots, scraped and sliced
11/2 Tbs. sugar
2 cups water
3 Tbs. all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
4 cups fat-free milk
2 Tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
In a large saucepan, heat the carrots, sugar and water. Cover and simmer until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Drain the carrots, reserving some of the liquid. Set aside. In a separate saucepan, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and milk. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until the white sauce thickens. In a blender or food processor, add the cooked carrots and white sauce. Puree until smooth. Add reserved liquid to desired consistency. Ladle into separate bowls and garnish each with 1 teaspoon parsley. Serve immediately.