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Showing posts with the label habitat

$Monday: Work Out(side)!

I love finding ways to get richer and healthier while saving time, and doing manual labor outside is one of those ways to kill lots of birds with one stone (figuratively! We love the birdies). I've never had a gym membership or an indoor exercise machine, but I've always had a push-reel lawnmower! I figure, why not get a serious, sweaty, HIIT-style workout while getting my daily doses of fresh air and sunshine and saving money on gasoline and/or lawn care services? Ha! Like I'd pay for lawn care services. We're not fancy lawn people, as you can probably gather from my photos. My other "backyard," though... I try to keep it strong. Hauling firewood up a hill is excellent strength training. My husband and I used part of our pandemic stimulus to invest in an electric log splitter. Now we can finally clear up some of the wood that's been piling up since the Epic Ice Storm of 2013, when many big trees around our property were damaged or felled o

$Monday: To Give or to Keep Your Stimulus Check?

My heart has been warmed by all the stories of generosity that have followed the federal stimulus payments. The news tends to follow reports of people behaving badly--angrily, selfishly, dangerously--but the reality is that the vast majority of people are responding to this global pandemic with heightened compassion and a wish to help. People are reaching out in every way they can, from sewing masks and volunteering for food banks to passing along their stimulus checks. This is beautiful and gives me hope for the future. And it also gives me pause. Is this kind of personal generosity always in the best interest of the community? We all know that warm feeling of being able to make a contribution. My family is on a very humble budget, but last year, I received a raise at work, and my daughter's school received a federal grant for all children to have two free meals each school day. Little changes make a big difference to a tiny budget, so I found myself able to give a four-figur

TBT: How to Get Your Own Personal Bailout

Since the Great Recession, I've learned how to take charge of my personal finances. My money life was kind of a dumpster fire after quitting grad school, and now my household is in great financial shape--even though our income remains very modest. I've learned to do a lot with a little, and I've learned to be proactive and find myself the best interest rates and discounts for long-term savings. Now, in the time of corona, there are suddenly a variety of resources rolling out to help regular people and small business owners to weather the pandemic. If you haven't received your stimulus check yet because you don't file taxes, you can probably speed up the process by entering your bank account information on the IRS website here . Each American citizen (who is not someone else's dependent for tax purposes) is eligible for $1200 plus $500 for each dependent minor child, unless you are rich, in which case you might get less or nothing, but that's okay, you'

$Monday: Minimize Necessities, Maximize Luxuries

Minimize waste, maximize taste. Cancel your bills, indulge in your thrills. Lower your maintenance but raise your standards. Live a little like Grandpa John. During this global crisis, when danger comes not just from the virus itself but from the boredom of the bourgeois who are already threatening to riot over their right to golf and jet-ski ( organized by far-right domestic terrorists who are trying to use this crisis to scapegoat Asians, Black communities, and women to build support for the Trump 2020 campaign ), I think of my late father-in-law, a.k.a. Grandpa John, and I wonder which of his witty, choice words he would use to comment upon all of this. Grandpa John survived plague, famine, exile, the Holocaust, child slavery, poverty and its related violence in Hamtramck, domestic violence, street violence (more than a dozen stab wounds with a rusty steak knife, for example), several strokes, and a car accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury that left him sometimes unable

TBT: Elitist Salad (Be a Carer, Not a Karen)

The politics of home gardens change as abruptly as the weather in a Michigan spring, don't they? I wrote the "Elitist Salad" post below during the reign of Michelle Obama, when opponents of Democratic women went ballistic over Mrs. Obama tryin'a tell people to eat der vegibles. Remember the screaming? The First Lady was compared to Marie Antoinette, and Hitler, and Satan, and the childhood trauma of your mom making you eat broccoli. Salad greens were labeled "elitist." Setting aside the obvious fact that Michelle Obama forced no one to eat a single vegetable, I found the outrage over elitism hilarious, as the granddaughter and great-granddaughter and probably thousandth-great-granddaughter of subsistence farmers, who... let's just say, were not elites. Now that we are in America's next recession, the outrage against a Democratic woman who is trying to keep people healthy is coming from... Karens? Karens who cannot bear to live without access to gol

TBT: The Freedom in Tribal Connection

Way back in the day, I dropped out of grad school. I was doing well academically but not, let's say, spiritually. I asked several people in my chosen field what we could do about catastrophic injustices in the systems we were becoming experts in, and I received the same answer several times: "Uh, you could call your senator." I was smart enough to know I didn't need a master's degree to do that, so I quit school and began my career working for social justice-seeking nonprofits. For six years, I worked for a statewide activist organization that sent me on some long trips to reach out and connect with people across county and state borders to work toward common goals. One summer, my boss and I took a road trip from the "palm" area of Michigan's lower "mitten" all the way up to the tippy-top of the beautiful Keweenaw Peninsula. We went into mostly rural areas and met with local church leaders and people of faith in humanity, and we gathered

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

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

$Monday: How to Make Do Without Hoarding

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

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"

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

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,