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TBT: Ditch the BMI and Find Your Hot Spot

This post features Miss Platnum's 2007 hit "Give Me the Food," a delightful anthem for this pandemic time. In all seriousness, food insecurity is a big thing right now, so consider checking up on your friends and neighbors with children or those who may be struggling to stay nourished. Mobile food pantries are popping up around towns to serve those in need, but many families are afraid to go out, deterred or excluded by the need to drive a personal car and wait in a long line, or ashamed of seeking help in the midst of so much need. But there's no shame, ever, in keeping yourself and your family well nourished. It's one of the best ways to express love, for self and others, during this time. My family is eligible to get into one of those lines and pick up weekly trunkloads of food from our school district, but we have not participated yet. We are grateful to have maintained stable income so far. (My husband's hours are reduced, but we are receiving unemplo

$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

TBT: Milk it! Is Dairy Good or Bad?

Since I wrote the post below in the 2000s, the conversation has shifted more toward whether we should be drinking dairy at all, and if not, which vegan alternative is best. More scientific data about the nutritional values and risks of dairy has come out since the 2000s. We know now that pasteurization doesn't have a huge effect on nutritional value (despite what the foil-helmeted raw milk militia may have told you!) and that skim milk is actually an inferior nutritional choice for most people, especially for kids, that in creases the risk of obesity. So is dairy good or bad for you? That depends on you. Humans digest and respond to dairy in a variety of ways based on genetics and other factors. It's great that we have choices at the grocery store, because there is no best kind of milk for everyone. If your health involves complicated problems, it may be worth consulting a nutritionist. But for most of us, all we need to do is pick out the milk we like the best, which doesn&

$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