A misstep in Manhattan.

th6 150x150 A misstep in Manhattan.The good news: I was reminded how nice New Yorkers can be. The bad news: I had to take a monumental fall near 31st and 7th to rediscover this.

I mean a full-tilt, face-down, wind-knocked-out-of-me fall. Damn curbs.


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th5 Why you can’t afford an apartment.If you want to find a place to rent, make sure you earn at least $18.92 per hour. Or so says the 2014 “Out of Reach” study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.  

That amount represents the “housing wage,” the hourly amount a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated fair market rent, while spending no more than 30 percent of salary for lodging.

That wage is more than two and a half times the federal minimum wage – and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. As study authors note, “in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent.”

Think that’s depressing? According to the Center for Housing Policy, 25.4 percent of working renters spend at least half their income on housing.


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th 1 150x150 In which I fight with Weird Al Yankovic.I have a huge geekcrush on Alfred Matthew Yankovic. Love his songs, love his videos, love his twisted sense of humor, and most of all love the fact that his parodies are equal parts silliness and intelligence.

Don’t believe me? Go watch the “Word Crimes” video. I love the fact that he included some of my own word-related peeves, such as “literally” and “I could care less.”

He’s a man after my own heart. As my friend Linda B. would say, I want him to have my children.

But while his parody of Pharrell’s “Happy” mostly made me giggle like mad, I also have to take issue with one of the lyrics. Watch the video and see if you can guess which one it is. (Note: It’s even funnier if you watch Pharrell’s original music video first.)


So did you guess which one it was?


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th1 150x150 Return of the Coffeehouse Cliche giveaway.I had every intention of making my next two giveaways about conference swag. Having been to three cons in the past three months, I have enough tchotchkes — some useful, some goofy — to create two medium flat-rate boxes of oddness.

But I’m getting ready to go out of town yet again, and the idea of sorting and listing all those things made me want to lie down and scream. Thus I came up with a compromise: yet another “Coffeehouse Cliche” giveaway with a couple of items from the Financial Blogger Conference. That is to say, the two easiest ones to grab.

This time around the notebook is a real conversation-starter: Its cover says “NerdWallet” in blue and lime-green.


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th4 150x150 Is orange and black the new black?Before I forget: Women can get a bunch of free medical tests from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11 (that’s today) at any Sam’s Club with a pharmacy.

Among them: thyroid, total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, glucose and blood pressure. You don’t have to fast for these tests. For more details, see my previous post on the subject.

Now: Back to All Hallows Eve. According to the National Retail Federation, just over one-third of U.S. adults plan to do the Monster Mash this Oct. 31, either at private homes or bars. Remember when Halloween used to be about kids and cavities?

That’s the main topic of my monthly gig at Retail Me Not. “What to buy in October: Look for boo-coup Halloween steals and denim deals” notes that while the Grinch may have stolen Christmas, adults have purloined Halloween.


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The boiling bag.

th3 The boiling bag.We had a marvelous soup the other night, based on a friend’s recipe for sausage-potato-kale soup. Ours utilized some of the kale we dehydrated last year (boy, has that stuff hung on), some potatoes freshly dug from our garden and some sausage bought months ago at a deep discount. (I love my freezer.)

It was supposed to have been kielbasa but spicy Cajun links were what we had. I sliced two links into coins and sauteed them until slightly crisp in a cast-iron skillet in which onions had already caramelized. Decided that a finely diced carrot wouldn’t hurt a bit, either.

The base was the real star, however — a rich homemade stock the likes of which we will never taste again. No two of our stocks ever taste exactly the same. That’s because the contents of the boiling bag vary every time.

The boiling bag is a bag in the freezer that receives vegetable scraps, bones and sometimes even bits of fruit. This batch had several apple cores and there was a slight sweetness under the richness of the other ingredients — which this time included beet and turnip greens and stems, onion skins, carrot tops, and both pork and chicken bones. Put it all in the slow cooker overnight and you wake up to a lovely, intriguing aroma.


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