Decades ago, when my mother ceded the role of chief cook at Thanksgiving to me, I was determined to serve a “from scratch” holiday feast. There would be no canned pumpkin in my pie, no store-bought cranberry sauce, and no creamed onions made with the boiled kind from a jar (even though that’s what my mother had always used). I was so gung-ho about the onions, in fact, that I decided to grow my own. Months of tending them in the garden led to a
I was all charged up last spring after attending an Earth Day event that urged people to recycle batteries - and thereby help keep dangerous chemicals out of our soil, air and water. Instead of throwing dead batteries in the wastebasket, I started setting them aside so I could bring them to the next hazardous waste collection event. Last month that collection day finally arrived - but it turns out my efforts were unnecessary, for this reason: All the batteries I’d gathered were the alkaline type.
A “Santa’s helper” scouting trip to the mall yesterday left me feeling glum: All the displays of gift items blended together into one generic muddle. But there’s an easy solution to that Grinch-like take on the holiday - the decidedly non-generic offerings you can find at holiday craft shows and fairs. Given the large number of artists who live in the Valley, the pickings are plentiful. Start your shopping this weekend with the open studio event at the Arts & Industry Building at 221 Pine St.
A visit to our attorney last week to update our will produced a useful bit of information about a recent change in Massachusetts property law: After my husband and I have departed for good, all our “stuff” - the cameo brooch from Aunt Julia, the ceramic dish from Aunt May, the vintage golf clubs from Uncle Dan, etc., etc., etc. - can be divvied up among our heirs via a simple memorandum separate from our will. Better yet, we can update the memo at any
Putting money in a flexible spending account via payroll deductions can be a smart move, since the money - which must be spent on health-related expenses - isn’t subject to federal income tax. Given that individuals can set aside up to $2,500 in a health FSA, the tax savings can be significant. But there’s been one big downside to FSAs: their use-it-or-lose-it feature. If you put $800, say, in the account, and then don’t use it all up within the calendar year (or the relatively brief
I’d been using the same cookie sheets for years, and scrub and scour as I might, decades’ worth of oh-so-slightly burned-on cookies had created a “patina” that I wasn’t happy about. So I decided to splurge on a new batch of cookie sheets - and lucked into what I now consider the gold standard (literally). From Williams-Sonoma, the GoldTouch Nonstick Cookie Sheet, made from aluminized steel, has a diamond pattern that produces even baking and a finish that allows cookies to slide off the pan,
Phishing - emails designed to elicit personal information from you, for possible identity theft - has been a problem for years, but in my Inbox, at least, it's getting out of hand. In the past month I’ve gotten bombarded with emails from Amazon, Target, Kohls, Petco and more that all look like the real deal. Generally they offer a gift card or some other enticement to click on a “survey” link within the email. But don’t do it - not until you’ve inspected the link
There's a right way, and a wrong way, to dispose of pills and liquid medicines you no longer need. The wrong way: Cavalierly tossing them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet. The right way: Bringing them to a collection event arranged by a law-enforcement agency. This Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is sponsoring its National Take Back Initiative. There are three drop-off spots in Hampshire County: at Smith Vocational High School in Northampton, at the
A couple of months ago I wrote about an identity theft scheme that targets an individual by sending him a small check in the mail, in the hopes that the person will deposit the check in his personal checking account. The check - sometimes sent as "thanks" for participating in a survey, for instance - is actually a way for scammers to obtain the individual's banking information. Doug Johnson, vice president for risk management policy for the American Bankers Association, told me that endorsing the
It's a frequent frustration among shoppers: You buy something in a store or online for full price - then discover that it's been marked down the very next week. Don't just grumble; ask for a price adjustment. Most national chains, and some smaller stores as well, will offer a one-time adjustment for an item that goes on sale after you've purchased it, as long as you request the adjustment within 14 days. Usually the store will offer only one price adjustment - but not always. This