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Hello Kitty © by SomeDriftwood

A single-mom blogger who goes by “Mutant Supermodel” is stressing over the holiday. She’d saved to buy gifts, but when her husband quit paying child support she had to spend every dime to keep herself and her three kids afloat.

It isn’t that MS fears there will be no Christmas. It’s that she fears she won’t be the one giving it.

“My kids are blessed with a large, loving extended family who will surely shower them with gifts the way they do at every special occasion,” she writes in a post called “$tre$$.”

“I know they don’t need or even want more stuff but I want to give it to them.”

Yet she doesn’t want to become part of the “relentless consumerism that so deeply affects this country.” Her compromise: Make some of her gifts, and limit the children’s Santa lists to that old favorite, “something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read.”

“I think it’s better this way than a free for all,” MS concluded.

Me too – and I say that as someone who’s feeling the same contradictory clash of emotions.


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First USEME trashcan sighting in Ramoji Film City © by vincelaconte

When I lived in Seattle my under-sink trashcan was quite small. I could get away with this for several reasons: I lived alone, cooked frugally and took enthusiastic advantage of the city’s single-stream recycling program. Generally it took a week or more for the can to fill up.

Being an illegitimus frugalis, I never bought a single kitchen trashcan liner. Why should I, when plastic shopping bags were so ubiquitous? Even though I toted at least one reusable bag everywhere I went, the plastics had a way of accumulating:

I picked them up while walking home. (Once I also picked up some free ice cream this way.) 

People gave me things inside shopping bags.

Sometimes I bought so much (usually from the used-bread, used-meat or dented-can bins that the order wouldn’t fit in my cloth bag, so I’d have to accept an additional plastic one.

I gleaned them while on vacation. My relatives tend to use plastic with happy abandon. Folded-up bags take up practically no room in a carry-on.

Thus I always had at least a few dozen bags on hand. That is, until Seattle’s ban on plastic shopping bags took effect in July 2012.


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Which twin has the Toni?

The 2012 Talkeetna Bachelor Auction was the most profitable ever, and possibly the most raucous: a four-hour howlfest that had at least one woman literally swinging from the rafters.

I am not making that up. This was a late-30s/early-40s woman sitting in my row in the upper level of the Sheldon Community Arts Hangar. Several times she got so carried away that she grabbed hold of an overhead beam and swung from it.

When I say “carried away,” I mean “under the influence of alcohol.” But she was not alone. Let’s just say that a whole lot of red Solo cups got filled up — and emptied — that night.


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budget © by 401(K) 2012

A reader suggested an article on preparing for income reduction. Not layoff or job loss, but rather a partial loss of expected funds – salary reduction, an end to child support and the like.

“Where you still have a job, but really need to evaluate the ‘new budget’,” she says.

I’ve written on this subject before, calling it the “financial fire drill.” You figure out how little you can get away with spending – and you do it with an attitude of calm preparation, not fear of deprivation.

This baker’s dozen of tips will get you started.


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That’s “shooter” as in photographer, not as in hunter.

This week’s giveaway “Snap Decisions: My 30 Years as an Alaska News Photographer,” is more than just the moose-and-goose-in-the-spruce school of photography.

I do have to say, however, that the moose photo to the left is one of my favorite images ever published in the Anchorage Daily News.


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