Helping You Help Yourself #22

feature image via shutterstock

Last time in this column, we talked about Writer’s Block, an app that won’t allow you access to anything on your computer until you’ve reached your writing goal. Since y’all seemed interested in that, two more things for you to check out: The Most Dangerous Writing App, which forces you to keep on writing no matter what because it will delete everything you’ve written so far if you stop, and EditSaurus, which promises to “highlight potential pitfalls in your writing and encourage good habits” by pointing them out if you copy/paste your text into it. (It’s a little like Hemingway Editor, although I guess that has a more specific aesthetic.)

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The Most Dangerous Writing App

It appears to be a week for talking about slow cookers on the Kitchn! Which is great, because slow cookers are a great option for people who are busy, work or study long hours, don’t have a ton of cooking appliances, and/or need to cook food for many people/cook enough to freeze for leftovers. Here are five tips for slow-cooking, how to adapt recipes for small and large slow cookers, and whether it’s really okay to leave it on all day.

Apartment Therapy claims these are the five best things you can do for your home, based on their long experience with making homes better.

EverUp has some ideas on negotiating medical bills (which, in the US, are often exorbitant even with insurance). Not all of these will work and not for everyone, but if it saves you even a few hundred dollars, it’s worth it!

Nine DIY projects meant to help you stay organized.

An infographic from Business Insider about when to use credit vs. debit vs. cash.

Peeling, chopping and otherwise preparing vegetables, from Lifehacker! Seriously, knowing how to do this stuff efficiently saves SO much time when cooking, and will make recipes that previously seemed too tedious to try much more approachable.

A truly comprehensive roundup of things that will wake you up in the mornings, from innovative alarm apps for your smartphone to highly advanced physical alarm clock options. I want to try some of the apps, like the one that won’t turn off til you’ve gotten up and scanned a barcode somewhere else in the apartment.

A weekly cleaning schedule aimed to guide you through what to do each day of the week to keep your living space sparkling. Seems like it would be a good fit for people who are into Unfuck Your Habitat’s habit-based, 20-minutes-a-day philosophy but could also use a liiiiiittle more hand-holding and/or something that’s more room-by-room.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I’m just here to say Crockpots are great, all hail crockpots, My Country ’tis of Crockpot, Crockpot for President 2016, etc.

  2. My best writing app is Simplenote. I use web app on any computer I happen to have access to + the iPhone app. It has a super simple interface and can be used on basically every platform. It’s not really practical for editing, but for drafting and just putting down words its unbeatable :ok_hand:

    • I love simplenote, too! And will never understand why Apple made such a terrible notes app.

  3. We gave my mom a crockpot for her birthday and since she’s used it to make beef stew, she’s trying to crock pot all the things. LOL. Lasagna sauce, bone marrow soup, A WHOLE CHICKEN..veggies, potatoes. A WHOLE CHICKEN YOU GUYS. I told her we should crock pot a cookie like on Buzzfeed; she doesn’t believe me.

  4. I came here for the crockpot,
    I stayed for the cleaning advice!
    And yes, this is the glorious life,
    Past thirtyfive!

  5. Anyone have suggestions for vegetarian crockpot recipes? I’m not actually a vegetarian, but I’m also not into eating big chunks of meat all the time, which seems to be the bulk of crockpot recipes.

    • my slow cooker has a constant rotation of dried beans. Mexican-ish black/pinto, Greek-ish giant lima, curried chickpeas, split peas with rosemary and mushrooms and onions, navy beans many ways… either hearty veg or just toss in frozen veg just before eating.

      not that any of these are actual recipes.

    • Big chunks like a roast or what?

      Nothing like a stew or soup where the meat gets spread out in the rice or liquid?
      Bummer and not cost effective.
      The same cut of meat that’s used for roast beef can be used for ropas viejas which is served over rice and if mixed with rice sparingly can last many meals. Also you can add green peas, potatoes, onion and peppers. Anything that can stand a slow moist cook.

      Eventides brought up beans in general; #’s 20,26,28,29,31,39,40,42,44,45,46,47,48, and 49 from Rachel’s roundup look pretty meatless. Maybe one or two of them require chicken stock or what for flavour. But really beans baked or barbeque beans dude just mmmm. A Southern legacy that is worth some pride.

      You can make tomato sauce from scratch with a crock pot. The bitter red sauce that gets called marinara and the sweeter, darker tomato gravy. But I’ve never made the “gravy” one before and suspect it might be Louisiana Sicilian Creole exchange thing that the internet recipes screw up or confuse with something. Like when they make a jambalaya into a stew.
      Oh yes zucchini you can add that into the last part of red sauce’s cooking time or even use it for pasta.

      Um I don’t have precise recipe for red sauce more like some guidelines
      Diced tomatoes or fresh
      In order of strength garlic, basil, oregano and thyme
      You can go with real McCoy, canned or powder if desperate, but be sparing with the thyme and don’t let the oregano over power the basil. It’ll come out the wrong kind of bitter.
      Onions are what my people fight about, but it can be agreed they should not overpower the garlic. And there’s a ratio for bay leaves something like 2 for serving size that’s a meal and sauce for later date. 7 cups-ish:2 bay leaves.

  6. I’m too busy graduating this semester to do any housework, so the very top item on my ‘Make your apartment better’ is burn it ground in May and start over somewhere new, lol.

    Thanks for this, Rachel!

    • i’ll look for some links on legal defenses re: arson to include in the column for you!

  7. I just need to tell you how much I love this column. The animal pics at the top always help.
    This week’s links are especially relevant to my interests.

  8. Wow, this is all so relevant!
    1- that dangerous writing app looks really fun!
    2- the crockpot is hands down my favorite kitchen appliance. I like the suggestion of pre-heating it, though it will be hard to stick to the do-not-overfill rule, due to its small size.
    3- those alarm clock apps look brilliant, especially the ones that force you to get up and move. I’ve had an early morning (up at 4:30) schedule for nearly 2 years, but I still am naturally a night owl, and I don’t think early mornings will ever feel natural.
    4- I would like to add another box for cash-only on the infographic: you take busses, go to farmers markets, or do laundry. Actually, the first and third just apply to quarters. I’m convinced that quarters are by far the most useful form of cash. ATM Machines should have a quarter dispensing option.

  9. This is all so relevant to my life right now. I even got a slow cooker two months ago and have recently started using it! Thank you, Rachel.

    One question – I think you forgot the link for peeling/chopping/preparing vegetables. Where can I find that?

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