While visiting my dad recently I enjoyed a whole bunch of regional delicacies. Although I get irritated with those who claim it’s my job to uphold the economy by spending lots of money, I do believe in supporting small local businesses.

Or so I said every time I visited a South Jersey custard stand. Rationalization is a wonderful thing.


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A dead-tree update.

In a recent post, “The true and simple rules for house-sitting,” I wrote about how startled I was to come home to a nearly dead potted tree in my living room.

There’s more.


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I just bought $40 worth of Mexican food for the equivalent of $16.92. Or rather, I’ve arranged to buy the food in January, when I visit my daughter and son-in-law in Phoenix.

I’ve written before about social buying – the art of getting deep discounts on products and services through the power of bulk buying. In this case it’s $20 gift vouchers to a Scottsdale restaurant for $10 apiece.

Companies like Groupon and Living Social make daily deals available both at hot new businesses and well-established joints that you already love.

There’s no cost to join – and it sure is fun to spend considerably less on:


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E-mails you don’t want to get from your house-sitter:

“I’m leaving a month early.”

“Do you have a plunger?”

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Last week I got permission to pick grapes from a nearby fence. My first batch of jelly turned out a lovely wine-purple color and my apartment smelled like communion.

But it was a lot more work than blackberry jam: You pick, then crush, then simmer, then strain the pulp through a cheesecloth-lined colander, then add sugar and cook.

On Sunday I picked pretty much all the ripe grapes that were left. Yesterday I patiently pulled out the stems, made sure there was a one-to-four ratio of underripe to ripe fruit (I don’t use commercial pectin), washed them, crushed them, simmered them, and poured about half the results into a cloth-lined colander set over a bowl.

The yield was three cups of juice. I scraped out the drained pulp, poured the rest of the simmered grapes into the colander and walked away to do another chore.

And then.


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