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Selling Jesus on Cyber Monday

Keepin' the Ho! Ho! Ho! in Oh, Holy Night; graphic by Jason Velázquez.

Is faith eternal? Maybe not within every individual, or even every family. The relics of piety do seem to be vectors of belief, however, as Sheila discovers while working her side thing.


Graphic by Jason Velázquez

Beyond the Witches: 48 Hours in Salem

For locals and tourists alike, Salem Willows has been the heart of Salem for generations; photo by Robin Catalano.

Over the centuries, Salem has managed to steadfastly preserve its history while transforming into a modern tourism destination—one with a penchant for festivals nearly every weekend of the year, a burgeoning dining and cocktail scene, and a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.

For locals and tourists alike, Salem Willows has been the heart of Salem for generations; photo by Robin Catalano.

Dried tomatoes: Summer’s bounty becomes winter’s secret ingredient

Juliete tomatoes on the vine; photo by Jason Velázquez

As you who follow my food rants know, I’m a big fan of the dehydrator. In mid-September mine has one major task—drying tomatoes. This year the fruit of choice is the Juliet grape tomato. A bounty of them will provide the special touch to the soups, stews, and pasta dishes of winter.

Sheila VelazquezSheila Velazquez is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in more than 100 print newspapers and magazines, including Grit, New Woman, the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, the San Antonio Express-News and Bay Area Parent.…

Green beans and carrots: Good individually, spectacular baked together

A ridiculously small space can yield massive taste and nutrition. Green beans picked right off the vine in your yard have a taste you'll remember — especially when you combine them with their BBF, the humble carrot, and some spices.

Green beans and carrots, ready to go in the oven; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

Savoring Homegrown Onions

A photo of a pile of assorted onions on a table: A treasure trove of oniony goodness; photo by Sheila Velazquez

Home-grown onions, like home-grown anything, have their advantages. In the case of my little garden, no heavy doses year after year of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Plus, the taste is always superior.

A collection of onions; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

The need to nurture: We all need somebody, or something, to love

Baby African Violets waiting to be separated from their mother leaves; photo by Sheila Velazquez.

What typically comes to mind when we hear the word “nurture” is a mother holding a baby. But nurturing is not a gender-specific activity, nor is it only applied to human babies. In fact, if you think of every instance when you viewed a scene or picture of a farmer cradling a lamb, calf, or chicken, that is what nurturing is—caring for a living being that often cannot express its thanks. The object of nurturing can be a child or other human, or it can be a puppy, kitten, apple tree, or flowering plant.…

Confessions of a prepper: Freeze it, dry it

There are a few things everyone can do to be more food secure, including learning how to plant a simple garden that bears enough to keep for another day (unless Peter Rabbit gets to it first...); photo by Sheila Velazquez

Climate Catastrophe: Why isn’t the poster child an actual child?

Mashup: Bangladeshi children; photo by Sadman Chowdhury; Antarctic Penguins on icefloe; photo by Jerzy Strzelecki, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the mainstream media feeds us a daily slop of pablum about the foibles of the president and the clown car of Democrat presidential candidates, the problem that won’t go away with an impeachment or an election is, for the most part, ignored. 

Very often, when you see a story about climate change/global warming, it is accompanied by a photo of a polar bear, an animal that most people have never even seen. By various estimates, the total world population of polar bears is between 20,000 and 30,000.…

Weekend Travel Pick: Hudson Valley Hot-Air Balloon Festival

Image of Hot Air Balloon. Caption: Ever wonder what a hot air balloon ride feels like? Why not treat yourself to a tethered launch? You might get hooked on the feeling! Photo by Robin Catalano.

A few facts you might not know about hot-air balloons: it’s hot—as in, skin-prickling hot—riding directly beneath their burners. Hot-air balloons also rise off the ground a lot faster than you’d think, and can vertically travel 10 feet or more per second.

To buy or not to buy, that is the question: Wary shoppers slow retail sales

Mannequins doing their best to incite consumer desire; photo by George Shervashidze, from Pexels

Quarterly financial reports often portend the future. The retail apparel numbers are out for the first quarter of 2019, and they aren’t pretty. Sales dropped by 24 percent, the biggest decline since the first quarter of 2008, when they were a bellwether for the last recession. People aren’t buying clothing. Maybe some of them read my article about how Fast Fashion is contributing to climate change. If not, they should.

Sheila VelazquezSheila Velazquez is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in more than 100 print newspapers and magazines, including Grit, New Woman, the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, the San Antonio Express-News and Bay Area Parent.…

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