Thursday, June 18, 2015

Once again, I question whether the MFA actually cares about the community

My family and I love the MFA. The place itself is just amazing; all this stuff that's thousands of years old and still looks brand new just blows my mind. The staff are knowledgeable and will answer questions, the layout and overall atmosphere of the place is very disability friendly, and something about how quiet and calm the place seems to discourage visitors from coming over and patronizing children with disabilities in the way that they do in most other public spaces.

However, there are some things that make me wonder how much they actually want the community accessing the place. I wrote before about how they have a low-income discount, but they illegally refuse to process debit card transactions for the reduced-price tickets (and were condescending about it).

Today, I went to sign up for some art classes. We have previously done some one-time children's art classes. They were $9-$10 per class, and they were great. But apparently in the summer, the only thing offered is these all-day camps, which are several hundred dollars per week. Now, I get that not everyone is blessed with multigenerational families and flexible work lives, and many people need child care in the summer, but how much sympathy can I really muster for people who are paying $600 per week for MFA camp when there are readily available, high-quality programs for as low as $50 a week at Boston Center for Youth and Families, Boys and Girls Club, and so forth? I'm not going to include people who attend MFA camp under the heading of "people who need child care."

The people who *need* child care, of course, are either at the community centers, the free meal programs that have all-day drop-in care, or at home with a relative who is keeping them safe but not doing much beyond that. These kids would love some art classes taught by world-class instructors in an amazing facility. But, nope, no $10 art classes for them. Only $600-per-week art camp. I shouldn't knock them though -- they do offer partial day camp for the low low price for $250 per week. *eyeroll* Have I mentioned that the MFA requires children under *14* to be escorted into the building by an adult and signed out by an adult afterward? So even if a child saves up the money for one of these classes, they would need to have an available adult to accompany them. This is another thing that makes me think the MFA builds their programs and policies around rich people; the age to arrive and leave independently at the community centers seems to vary, but is in the 8-11 range.

Oh, and financial aid isn't mentioned anywhere on the website. I'm going to assume they don't have any? The community centers all do. They apparently manage to stretch their tiny budgets to subsidize families who need it. But these ridiculously expensive MFA camps can't? Hmm...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Free films this summer in Boston

Listings are here. All are outdoors, so they'd likely be good for families with smalls or people with special needs.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Help a scraper out here: what are some good loan options in Boston?

A few years ago my water heater broke and I put the new one on one of those 0% interest cards, planning to pay it off before the promotional rate ended. My plan was working fine, but then my car broke. And the cat broke. And a relative needed some noncovered medical care. And I had to travel out of town unexpectedly. And one of the young folks living here got an amazing scholarship, but there was some payment required, and I couldn't bear the thought of passing up the opportunity. And so forth.

I managed to do fine making at least the minimums, and paid off a good chunk, but, well, I still have a ton of debt, and we all know those promotional cards jump up to 20% APR once the time runs out.

Since I've learned my lesson that life isn't stable enough these days to count on paying off a 0% card, I'm thinking my best option is to find a bank or credit union, either local or online, that will give me a fixed-rate loan or credit card in the 10% APR range. I own my home, credit score is in the high 700s (decent amount of debt, but no missed payments), have enough income to not miss payments on my stuff but I'm not rich and documenting my cobbled-together income is a chore.

Anyone have anywhere I should look?

Monday, June 15, 2015

What the hell do I do with this vegetable: okra and corn edition

The fair foods truck this week had okra, corn, onions, red potatoes, grapefruit, oranges, bananas, and iceberg lettuce. Amazing.

I grilled the okra, which is incredibly easy and in my opinion tastes pretty much the same as fried okra. Just cut off the ends, put it on a baking sheet, drizzled it with olive oil and some spices, and baked at 450 until it looked done:

Some of the okra we ate just like this. The rest, I used to make the fritters. I cut up about a cup or so of okra into small pieces, along with one small onion that I had sliced and grilled, plus the kernals from half an ear of corn, also grilled in the oven in the same way. I added half a cup of cornmeal, half a cup of flour, adobo, cumin, about half a cup of cheddar cheese, then enough milk to make it into a firm dough. I dropped it onto a baking sheet, flattened them out a bit, and baked at 400 until done:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

What the hell do I do with this vegetable: onions and red potatoes edition

Y'all didn't really need a blog post to tell you what to do with potatoes and onions in the middle of June, right?!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Awesome way to clean the house in a hurry with minimal effort

A friend moving out of the country gave me a crate of things that weren't worth transporting, including several cans of this 3M glass cleaner. I would never have spent $8 dollars on glass cleaner (I usually use all-purpose cleaning stuff from Dollar Tree or just use vinegar and baking soda), or bought something this chemically and in a wasteful aerosol container, but wow, this stuff is amazing. I'm hooked now. Sorry, environment.

I sprayed it on my cabinet fronts, counters, sink, stove, appliances, bathroom fixtures, waited about 30 seconds, then wiped it down with a textured cloth, and the stuff had dissolved everything greasy or sticky with no scrubbing. I literally cleaned my neglected kitchen surfaces to an acceptable state for having company over in about two minutes. It worked as well on the stovetop as those oven cleaners that are expensive and that I wouldn't use unless everyone was out of the house and the windows were all open. It smells slightly like ammonia or similar, so it's not completely non-toxic, but it doesn't have fumes or lingering odors, so I'm comfortable using it with kids and people with compromised health in the house.

It's available on Amazon, so while it's pricey, you can get it for free using Bing Rewards. And even if you pay for it, I think it's well worth it for something that cleans so ridiculously fast.

(Speaking of Bing Rewards, I saw tips on another money-saving blog about using bots to run searches on multiple accounts and rack up Amazon gift cards. Not something I'd risk myself, because Microsoft seems sufficiently evil to press charges or sue people, but I wanted to throw it out there as something that's apparently a possibility for those who might be broke enough to risk it.)

Friday, June 5, 2015

Nonprofit grocery store opens in Dorchester

I haven't yet checked Daily Table out, but it's on the agenda for this weekend. People who've gone, tell me what you've thought of it!

(And if you click through to that article, would you mind downvoting and flagging the comments that are poor-shaming and assuming a Black woman must be on public assistance?)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tropical Foods coupon policy

The coupon policy isn't listed on the website, so I emailed them. They wrote back and said they accept any manufacturer's coupon. They didn't say anything about limits of how many per transaction or per day or anything like that, so this may be a good place to use large batches. Stop and Shop is still likely the best deal in town most of the time though since they double them.