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Bunny boots: Don't leave Nome without 'em

Bunny boots: Don’t leave Nome without ’em

(Note: This was written Saturday evening. Thanks to a tech glitch, it wasn’t published when it should have been. Oops.)

It’s snowing, finally – just in time for spring equinox. About seven inches are on the ground right now and it’s still coming down madly.

Earlier today the neighbor across the street had a pair of preschoolers working on the front steps with little kid-sized shovels while he attacked the driveway with a snowblower.

The children loved it so much that once the steps were clear they were out in the front yard, shoveling paths to nowhere. Just being able to fling the snow around was fun, I guess. It’ll be interesting to see if they find it fun a few years down the road or whether they’ll be moaning and griping: “I shoveled the steps last time! It’s his turn!”

Me, I’m just happy to be sitting upright. On Wednesday I came down with the intestinal bug that’s been making its way through (as it were) half of the city. Today I was able to tolerate solid food (rice, dry toast, yogurt, applesauce) during the day. In a little while we’ll know for sure whether I’m healed, because I had some of the turkey that DF roasted: hot, juicy and deliciously worth the relapse risk.

So far, so good: I’m sipping tea and watching thick curtains of snow silvering the night sky. DF is lying on the couch, also watching the picture window as though it were the most engrossing movie in the world. He was so hypnotized by the weather that he almost forgot to preheat the oven for the bread he’d left to rise.

A few days ago it was in the mid-40s and yards, while not green, were at least not white. Today it looks like December, not March. If this keeps up the Easter Bunny will have to wear bunny boots.

 


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thThis time last year I tried something completely different: creating an online course. It turned out to be an education for me as well as for those I hoped to teach. (In a good way.)

To celebrate the first anniversary of Write A Blog People Will Read, I’ve decided to give away a copy.

You may be thinking, “But I don’t have a blog, so why would I care?” However, the course will help you become a better writer in general – even if all you do is an annual Christmas letter.

 


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thGiven that my most recent giveaway had 243 entries, I’m guessing you guys like to win gift cards. That’s why you should all head over to my daughter’s website, because she’s giving away a $100 Amazon gift card.

Well, she isn’t. DollarDig is. Abby’s just the host. The cash-back site is sponsoring the giveaway of the gift card and will also donate $100 to a charity of the readers’ choice (and 10 T-shirts in addition to the Amazon scrip).

That’s not the only site you should visit, though.

 


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thThis year I’m not taking the advice from my friend Liz Weston, who says you should treat yourself with 10 percent of any windfall and then put the rest where it will do some good. My 2016 income tax refund will be deposited directly into savings and there it will stay.

Some people believe that tax refund = an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. Personally, I think a refund makes sense for those who don’t have the discipline to save. Let me define that further: It makes sense if they use the refunds in smart ways.

Here’s an example of a not-smart way: Friends of my daughter’s planned to buy a race-car bed for their toddler son. This despite the fact that she didn’t work and his profession (drywaller) left him unemployed off and on.

A race-car bed. Sure, it would be fun to give that to your kid. You know what else is fun? Not having to worry about how you’ll feed him during during periods of little to no work.

 


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thHoly cow — a month has gone by without a giveaway! Work plus travel plus seasonal ennui can do a number on even the best of intentions.

Although I have a handful of books begging to be re-homed, I don’t have it in me today to do the careful write-ups they deserve. (Tomorrow’s not looking good, either.)

 

Thus I’m taking the path of least resistance and proffering an Amazon gift card. Easy for me to send. Easy for you to spend. I’d call that a win-win.

 


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th-2A whole lot of people approach retirement with a serious misconception about credit scoring.

A recent study from TransUnion indicates that almost half of Baby Boomers think that credit scores don’t matter as much after age 70.

Guess what? They do.

Generally speaking, seniors aren’t applying for mortgages or refinancing existing ones in their eighth decades. But a low credit score affects insurance premiums, auto loan interest rates and, maybe, getting accepted for long-term care.

Folks edging toward retirement with moderate to poor credit – or no credit – need to think about how they might handle any financial surprises. Even if you think that Social Security plus pension/retirement plan will let you live a cash-only lifestyle, you’re better off owning and using credit cards.

Life does tend to throw curveballs. Suppose during retirement…

 


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Keeping it real online.

thYesterday I read a long, painful and moving essay on the LoveLifeEat blog called “When you can’t be the person the Internet wants you to be.” It affected me so much that I wrote to its author, Felicia Sullivan.

Short form: I told her that writing about the dark places in her life make her honest, not self-indulgent.

I also said that her words matter. By daring to tell the truth about life, i.e., that sometimes it is horrible, she has helped and will help an unknowable number of people.

Some readers will be bolstered by the fact that they aren’t the only ones dealing with depression, unemployment, the loss of a parent, a difficult relationships with the surviving parent, the search for meaning. I’d bet my next freelance paycheck that her essay encouraged some readers to examine their own dark places and get help for them.

What a refreshing change from the everything-is-awesome drumbeat that makes up so much of the Internet. So many blogs resemble a never-ending, humblebragging stream of fake Christmas letters: Look at me! Look at me and my perfect life!!!

Riiiight.

 


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th-1Feels like I just got here. Where has the week gone?

Tomorrow (Saturday, Feb. 27) is the Surviving and Thriving meet-up at the North Point Mall food court in Alpharetta, Ga. I’ll be hanging out there with my laptop from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

But I’ll definitely put it aside if you drop by — and since I don’t have a smartphone to stare at  you’ll have my undivided attention. No checking e-mail or tweeting about the soft pretzels. I promise.

What will we talk about? That’s up to you.

 


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th-3A recent freelance experience suffused with mega-micromanagement left me teeth-grindingly irritated and wondering, “What if I just quit?”

Pipe dream, at least for now. I’m too young to collect Social Security and not quite far enough along in my personal retirement savings to stop contributing.

It’s not that I don’t like what I do. Writing is as natural as respiration. Even if I quit writing full-time I’d likely freelance here and there. Lately, though, I’m viewing time as more important than money, and resenting the hours spent on non-life-enriching stuff.

We now interrupt our regular broadcast to check our privilege: Plenty of people in the world don’t have the freedom even to consider such a choice. They work until they die, and with their last breaths apologize for not contributing more to the family and for costing so much money to bury.

I know that I am in a pretty benevolent place: I can work from home, the job is interesting and lets me help people, and I get to see DF for lunch every day.

Which brings me to the main reason I want to retire.

 


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th-1I figured that might get your attention. The headline is semi-disingenuous: What you’ll be doing is preparing 10 to 12 meals in an hour or less, but not actually cooking them until you need them.

Specifically, you’ll be turning 48 to 60 minutes’ worth of kitchen work into a dozen future dinners by using Erin Chase’s new FreezEasy meal plans.

Recently I wrote about her Grocery Budget Makeover plan. Chase is the founder of $5 Dinners and a series of cookbooks, and also the co-founder of “The $5 Meal Plan.” This time around she’s created a series of meal plans, shopping lists, kitchen prep tips and videos to churn-and-burn future meals (both meat-based and vegetarian).

Since I know her in real life, I can attest that she dreams up recipes in both the exotic and everyday realms. (Hint: She has four kids.) However, her recipes share several attributes: They are affordable and they are simple to prepare.

Beta testers report that Chase’s plans takes “the overwhelm” out of the equation. You know, that feeling of “What are we (or what am I) going to eat today, tomorrow, next week…?” that can ruin your day – and, maybe, your budget. It can also create an unhealthy relationship with food.

 


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thEarlier this week I was stumping for a Seattle breakfast buddy (or lunch pal), because I’ll be at Sea-Tac on Tuesday on my way to Atlanta. There I’ll be visiting the lovely and talented Beverly Harzog and hanging out with some other writers if we can swing it.

Generally I like to do reader meet-ups when I travel, too. So who’s available on Saturday, Feb. 27?

 


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th-2Planning to do your own paperwork this year? Tune in on Thursday for some free advice from Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Person Financial Advisors.

Experts from both will answer your questions via a live webchat between 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Eastern. You can access the chat via live.kiplinger.com or follow along with the Twitter hashtag #MaximizeMoney.

They’ll be offering expert opinion on some pretty essential stuff, including but not limited to:

 


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