Tap into the rich knowledge these authors share

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For years, my friend and I had a community garden plot. At the start, we didn’t know anything about gardening. We were excited about growing our own vegetables and herbs and we didn’t let our lack of knowledge or experience hamper our enthusiasm.

As it turns out, there’s a lot to learn about gardening —the best time to plant basil, how far to space zucchini seedlings, and how to cage tomatoes so they don’t collapse under their own weight.

We could have winged it. We could have learned by trial and error, planting different seeds and seedlings, and watching how they turn out. …

If you’re cooking more in 2021, I can help. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in a pandemic food rut for months. It’s time for me to dust off my cookbooks and try something new. If you feel the same way, here are 14 hacks, 7 ingredients, and 5 tools that will help you liven up your meals. Bon appetit!

Here’s how top writers add the perfect finishing touch

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You know how a lot of recipes say “salt to taste” at the end? That’s because a little bit of salt enhances flavor. When I make black-bean chili it tastes bland until I add salt — the salt is the perfect finishing touch. Salt takes something that’s good and turns it into something great.

The conclusion of an article is like that salt. It brings everything together in a satisfying way. It makes your message memorable for your reader.

I learned to write in the old-school, print journalism style, where everything critical got front-loaded into the beginning of the article. Back then, we expected readers to give up on articles that continued in some back section of the newspaper. Conclusions weren’t necessary. You said what you needed to say and when you were done that was it. No wrapping up the key points in a takeaway for the reader. …

Give one of these key goals your laser focus

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I get so ambitious at this time of year. A fresh new calendar! A clean slate! This is the year I’m going to organize my personal finances, take care of all those niggling tasks I’ve been putting off, and grow my business. And that’s not all! I’ll eat more vegetables! I’ll sleep better! I’ll practice gratitude!

That’s the wrong way to go about making changes, says Kara Loewentheil, master certified coach, and host of the mental health podcast, . …

Making prawn and chicken fried noodles at home might not be quite as good as a trip to Indonesia, but it sure broke the drudgery of my usual Monday-night dinners.

I interviewed Lara Lee, author of “,” about how she dishes up a little slice of Indonesia with the recipes in her cookbook.

I love how the recipe I tried was inspired by her grandmother’s recipe. It’s a tiny connection to a country I hope to visit in person some day.

Here’s what Lara shared with me, in .

I have an embarrassing stash of unused gift cards. It includes three partially used Claire’s gift cards from when my daughter was younger, a Visa gift card worth 86 cents, two gift cards for Boston-area restaurants (I live in Pennsylvania), and a credit for a free small fry valid only at a Burger King in New Jersey.

I’m not alone. Bankrate says there’s $20 billion out there in the US in unused gift cards and store credits. If you have a gift card you can’t use or don’t want to use, don’t just toss it. You’re throwing away real money. Here’s what I wrote in about what to do instead.

I write a lot about nutrition, health, and weight loss, but I have to admit I never heard about the Military Diet until late last year. Turns out, it has nothing to do with the military. It has that name because you need discipline and stamina to follow it.

That’s for sure. You eat a specific, low-calorie plan for three days, then whatever you want for four days. Repeat as necessary to meet your goals.

Dietitians? They’re not fans. Here’s what they told me for my article for .

I still vividly remember my first bout with impostor syndrome. I was starting my first job after college, in a fancy downtown Boston skyscraper. I stepped into the crowded elevator and the doors closed. In their mirrored surface I could see my reflection, with my brand-new work outfit and my shiny new shoes. I could see everyone else’s reflection, too.

And the impostor thought hit: “They all belong here, but I don’t. I just managed to sneak in here somehow, and someone will figure it out soon.”

I felt alone. But it turns out, impostor syndrome is common. Here’s what Divya Jot Singh, MD, a psychiatrist at in Scottsdale, AZ, told me:

My gym closed last March when the pandemic sent us all scurrying home. It opened back up three months later, and the BodyPump, Piyo, and yoga classes I used to take are back in session. I miss them. My at-home workouts just aren’t the same.

But cases in my county are at a record high 91 per 100,000, and I don’t feel safe working out in a room full of people who are all exercising and breathing hard. I reached out to two experts to get their thoughts about exercising indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what they shared with me:

If you’re overthinking, you’re wasting time and energy. And all that extra effort probably isn’t leading to better decisions — does your dog sleep any better on a dog bed just because you spent weeks choosing it?

But it can be tough to realize that you are overthinking, and even tougher to break the rumination cycle.

I talked to , PhD, a neuropsychologist at Banner Health in Tucson. Here, she shares:

  • Signs that you might be overthinking
  • Times you’re likely to overthink
  • Strategies that can help you get good solutions more quickly


Stephanie Thurrott

I write stories that make our lives better. I learn something with everything I write, and I hope you do too. Get my newsletter:

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