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Showing posts from March, 2020

$Monday: How to Get the Most Out of Your Groceries

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Many of us have, by now, stocked up on enough groceries to last us two or three weeks. If you're like me, you chose to save money and maximize health by purchasing mostly whole ingredients rather than heat-and-eat processed foods. Now, to make those groceries last as long as possible, the key is to minimize waste by controlling portions and consuming things in a logical order. If you're not used to cooking and eating this way, it will take some adjustment to accept that you can't just eat whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it. This is a great opportunity to learn old-school home economics and develop an appreciation for down-home cooking. If you commit to these habits, you will eventually get used to it and start to find real pleasure in the process, and these kitchen witchery skills will keep you healthier and wealthier long after the pandemic has ended . Yesterday, I had a hard decision to make. Our batch of Scharffen Berger chocolate chunk cookies dwin

TBT: The Home Atelier

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You may have heard about intrepid patriots and loving volunteers sewing face masks and donating them to hospitals during this time of shortage. This is a lovely phenomenon, although homemade masks do not provide the same level of protection as N95 respirators and other gear that some doomsday hoarder jerks have taken out of circulation, surely causing the deaths of untold numbers of medical professionals. (If this is you, my impulse is to tell you to burn in hell. But that wouldn't help either; instead, there is still time to repent and donate your hoard of N95 masks to your nearest hospital and then sit in your room for at least three weeks sewing your own cloth masks for yourself, in your own favorite colors and patterns.) Long, long ago, when I wrote about sewing at home, I planned to get a nice sewing machine and learn how to use it. And I did acquire a nice sewing machine, and my friend Lisa did give me lessons on how to use it. My first garment was a maternity dress. And t

$Monday: How to Make Do Without Hoarding

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As more of us stare down the possibility of weeks in quarantine, it's easy to understand why some people are panic shopping. There's not much else to do when most activity and gathering places are shuttered. And many people are terrified--if not of the coronavirus itself, then of the disruptions to daily life and supply chains. But hoarding is disastrous to society; crowding ourselves into grocery stores is a serious health hazard; and there's no stockpile of stuff big enough to last through a doomsday scenario in which--oh, dare I say it--coffee beans become unavailable for the long term. (Not that I believe that will happen, but...) What are we to do? We can take a lesson from our grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and start learning how to do without some of the things people didn't always have. Some of the things we consider "essential" are things which we can, honestly, live without. Here is a list of items that some people are hoardi

TBT: Staycations from Sea to Shining Sea

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During the Great Recession, I wrote about the joys of taking staycations or finding cheaper ways of taking vacations out of town. During this pandemic and economic shutdown, it's time to take it a step even further and think of fun ways to take a vacation from the news and the grocery store hoardapalooza--without actually leaving home. Here are a few soul-soothing ideas for those with planned vacation time this spring and nowhere to go. Below that, enjoy my old Staycations post with ideas for affordable fun when we are finally able to play together in person again. 1. Have a luau or beach party. At home. Indoors. In any season, including (and especially) winter. We've been to a December luau in a trailer park (wearing our bikinis or other beachwear over warm winter clothes) and to a family beach party in the winter at a church. You'll need a great imagination and some crafts or toys, like mermaid tails and fishing games and tactile sand and beachy tunes and lounge chairs

$Monday: Develop a Taste for "Il dolce far niente"

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By now you should have heard the cute stories and the dire warnings coming out of Italy, which is about two weeks ahead of us in the pandemic timeline. In Bergamo, there is now nothing left to do but try to enjoy " il dolce far niente ," translated as " the sweetness of doing nothing ." Unfortunately, Italian culture also has some of the same individualistic, I-do-what-I-want attitudes that the United States has, and that is why Italians are currently dying in their homes and in hospital corridors and parking lots because one of the best-funded health care systems in the world has collapsed. Within this catastrophe, which may not be prevented from happening here in the United States before Easter due to St. Patrick's Day idiocy and wannabe cowboys, there is opportunity. One of those opportunities is learning to let go of bad spending habits and bad health habits immediately. When I lived in Rome about 15 years ago, there was a saying I heard often in bo

TBT: Apartment Decor, Not Dorm Room Style

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Folks are spending a lot more time at home these days. Even before the pandemic--and presumably after it ends--millennials are choosing to stay in more often than other generations do. Whether you're quarantined or just introverted, it's a lot more enjoyable to pass the time at home when your habitat is beautiful and cozy. Back in the early years of the century, during the last recession, when my husband and I still lived in a dirt-cheap apartment on a low income, we used creativity--and one small theft from a Wendy's--to feather our nest in a way that made us and our guests feel comfortable and grown-up. The post below is for anyone on a tight budget who's ready to settle in and turn whatever living space they have into a real home. For fresh ideas on how to make a tiny, cheap apartment feel luxe and personalized and youthful, check out Alexandra Gater's wonderful YouTube channel . Apartment Decor, Not Dorm Room Style Your apartment may be tiny, plain white,