weekend free-for-all – February 28-March 1, 2015

Olive in blanketsThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week:  The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Yes, this is the book that led to the mini-series of the 80s, and that might turn you off. But come on, it’s a love story between a priest and the woman he’s adored her whole life. It’s tortured and epic and full of people and families being torn apart. It is magnificent.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 981 comments… read them below }

  1. Madeye Moody*

    Please help! I need some tax software advice.
    Has anybody used the free TaxAct for E-filing? What is your opinion about it? It seems to include all schedules and forms in the free version. (I would have to buy an advanced version of the competitors software just to get a single form that I need which is not included in the basic version of these).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I concur, although full disclosure, I get a discount on TurboTax, so I’ve been using it for years. I do really like putting charitable contributions in ItsDeductible.com throughout the year and having it all pulled into TurboTax for me.

        I’d advise everyone to stay away from H&R Block, since they charged me extra for “expert advice” that turned out to be wrong, and I had to file a complaint to get a refund.

          1. Al Lo*

            I use TaxBot for my ongoing tracking of receipts and mileage. It’s great, and it keeps a running tally of your deductions on the app, so you can see how it’s adding up throughout the year.

        1. Anon Accountant*

          H&R Block is expensive too. Thu charged by the form used and by the number of W-2s entered. In 2 recent examples H&R Block clients had paid almost double what we charged them when they were referred to us.

          1. Anon Accountant*

            These were people who went into an office and had theirs done. No experience with their online software though.

      2. Stephanie*

        It’s only free if you’re filing a 1040A or 1040EZ, I think. If you need the regular 1040, it costs. (And state is extra.)

        I used one of the free e-filing programs (I met the income requirements) and it was fine. Interface was clunky, but it got the job done.

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve used Turbotax and H&R Block (paid & free). I’ve liked them, but this year I’m probably going to use a coworker’s tax guy. I’ve made out well, when I used a professional and gotten good refunds.

    2. acmx*

      I used to use TaxAct; I liked it. However, I just use the free fillable forms the IRS has on its site now.

      1. Madeye Moody*

        I used to use the free fillable forms on the IRS site too. Unfortunately, one of the forms I need to fill has continuation pages that are not supported here. This one form is the only reason I need to use a software to do my taxes.

        1. Bea W*

          I had to switch to paid programs after no longer qualifying for free submission, I think because I wanted to itemize deductions.

    3. Kelly L.*

      The last few years, I’ve used TaxSlayer. I used to do the free federal online and then send in my state on paper, but one year I had a complicated situation with multiple states and decided to just shell out for the state e-filing to keep myself from messing it up. It was so handy that I found it well worth the money to do it again this year, even though my situation is simpler. YMMV, of course, but it was worth it to me just to not have to deal with it. :D

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I so very much want TaxSlayer to be have a front end that couches everything in D&D terms instead of asking about your income and so forth.

        1. Barefoot Librarian*

          My husband works for Taxslayer. I’ll have to tell him about that. The programmers are all nerds and would love it even if the bosses wouldn’t go for it lol.

          1. Barefoot Librarian*

            I feel that I should add that their servers are named things like “Mines of Moria” lol.

    4. Is This Legal*

      Use TaxAct, much better and cleaner. I used to use Taxslayer but they always find ways to up sale you. I think you still have to pay for state filing if I’m not mistaken.

    5. ptrish*

      I am possibly insane, but I actually do taxes by hand since I think it’s easier than the software. I had a really unpleasant experience with TurboTax one year when I had some grant/scholarship money that wasn’t going to tuition–it was impossible to find the right place to put it in TurboTax…but with a pen and paper, it’s easy! The same is true this year, so I’ll probably do the same.

      What is it about software that makes it more helpful? I did grow up around bankers, so I generally understand the forms pretty well.

      1. Anx*


        I have never had a truly simple nor truly complicated return. And if there was a mistake, I wouldn’t owe much anyway because the most money I’ve ever made in a year was less than 13K.

        I am sure for some people there must be an advantage to using the software, but I have always found it easier to just fill everything out buy hand. Also, I’m not paying money to file my taxes.

        This year, though, I may go seek some assistance. I used the ACA tax subsidies in 2014 and ended up making way less than I anticipated when I applied for the credits. So I technically owe money back and and I’m not sure if they’re really collecting or not. Or if any money that was used to to offset the cost of insurance is going to come out of a refund or have to paid if I don’t have enough withheld to cover the subsidy (which I suppose at this point would be more of a loan).

        I also want to raise my tax burden higher this year so I can qualify again. It stinks paying taxes on money you’re not making but it gets me an advance of my health insurance premiums.

        (I live in a state that did not expand Medicaid and I lost my job over the summer).

    6. De Minimis*

      I’ve used TurboTax and H&R Block. I normally will do the free Efiling for the federal, print a copy of that return and then do my state return by hand and just mail that in. But my returns are usually fairly uncomplicated, at least in recent years.

    7. HR Manager*

      Might be too late, but I’ve used both TurboTax and TaxAct and I find both are fine for those with uncomplicated taxes. The fee structure is slightly different (more for state here, more for direct deposit there) but the tax filing piece themselves are quite similar in terms of ease of use.

  2. Librarian Barbie*

    Any advice on having your mom as a roommate? I recently started a job I truly love but the pay isn’t great (for now, raises are small and slow). My mom is going through money woes of her own and suggested we rent a house together (splitting everything, it’s not as if I’d be living “at home” {how I hate that phrase; where else would you live but at home}, with my mom paying for everything).

    It’d be bungalow style, with my own bathroom and the entire upstairs all for me. We’d only share the kitchen and basement.

    This sounds great, because we really do get along, but I’m concerned about how to create boundaries and any tips on living with your parent(s) as almost 30-year-old.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This sounds good to me. I think that discussing the division of labor in taking care of shared areas would be good. (Kitchen, snow removal if not included in the rent, heat and so on.) One thing I would want to have a plan for is “what do we do when we disagree on something”?

      1. JMW*

        Also what will happen when the lease is up: re-evaluation of the arrangement, decision to continue, option to not continue with no hard feelings.

        Also having friends over… when is it okay for Mom to hang out with you and your friends, and vice versa.

    2. TL -*

      Talk about paying bills (whose name, is one person paying and getting reimbursed at the end of the month, or are you both paying at the same time, ect..), splitting household expenses and food, and definitely seconding the cleaning and dating.

      Especially dating. You’re probably used to your mom’s cleaning standards, but dating may be a whole new ballpark for both of you.

    3. Artemesia*

      Sit down and explicitly review basics:

      1. privacy — including dating and having guests come by.
      2. bill paying — perhaps have an account for household expenses specifically t hat both pay into
      3. household maintance
      4. meals — do you eat together every night? if so how will cooking/shopping/cleanup be rotated (my husband and I have juggled this for over 40 years in a variety of ways, but one base rule is that whoever cooks, the other one cleans up.
      5. establish a time each week at first then each month to discuss household issues — so that there is an occasion and you don’t feel petty bringing up a problem that is driving either of you nuts.

      The biggest issue for me would be privacy especially around dating and hanging with friends. I’d draw a bright line on that. NEVER assume the other is included when social plans are made; always make explicit when you are including each other in a social event.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      I echo everyone else who has brought up dating. Specific, potentially awkward things to think about and discuss with your mom:
      1) How will either of you react if the other has an overnight guest? Are there ground rules for the person coming to breakfast etc.? Will either of you be able to have the house to yourself if you request it?
      2) How will both of you handle situations where one of you is out late? Will you tell each other your ETA (as many roommates do)? Does your mother understand that you are a grownup who does not have a curfew?
      3) What are your house policies on drinking and other substance use? Do either of you get drunk? Smoke? What are the rules for guests who drink, smoke, or use drugs?

      For whatever it’s worth, I loved living with my mom. We also both realized that (a) we were both adults with sex lives, and (b) we didn’t want to know any more than we had to about point (a). We were discreet about the more risque aspects of our own lives and we didn’t pry into each other’s.

    5. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Artemesia & Turanga Leela have hit the major points and DEFINITELY have a joint “household account” that you pay the bills out of!

      For me, when my mother & I moved into together as roommates after 20 years of living on our own, learning to make decisions as a “couple” was the hardest part. My mom’s been single since she divorced my dad and I’d been living on my own since college. It was hard for both of us to remember that we needed to consult someone else when we bought stuff for the house. I remember having a meltdown over something as insignificant as a hand vacuum. We both had to work hard at breaking the parent/child dynamic and treating each other as grown adult equals.

      Good luck!

    6. nep*

      Nothing’s personal.
      When you need space and privacy and alone time, it’s never about the roommate; it’s just what you want and need in that moment. It’s helpful when both people concerned really get this.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I freaking love The Thorn Birds. I think I read it for the first time in middle school, and I stole my mother’s copy. I only recently had to throw it away because it got so dog-eared and coverless. I think I’ve read it about 20 times. Love that book. It may be a cheesy, sunswept romance on the surface, but it taught me a ton about the workings of the Catholic church.

      You know who else loved that book? D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s mother. I was watching a Jets game with my boyfriend, saw the name, and IMMEDIATELY knew, misspelling be damned. It is my current favorite football fact.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I read it for the first time around that age too, and I remember being fascinated/excited toward the end of the book when her actress daughter Justine, a redhead, has some kind of freckle-removal operation. I was like, “Great! This is what I will plan to do as an adult.” And then I got to be an adult and discovered that is not actually a thing you can do. I’m still mystified about why she included that in a book that otherwise didn’t delve into Outright Lies.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          But it is a thing you can do! With lasers. Nowadays, not in the 50s or whenever it was that Justine got it done. I always wondered about that, but figured she had some kind of skin resurfacing done. Suspension of disbelief and all that.

        2. Merry and Bright*

          I remember my grandmother telling me that when she was a teenager in the 1920s and 1930s they were still using an old Victorian treatment based on lemon juice to make freckles fade and I have read since that this was a common “remedy”. Not sure what the acid would do to the complexion although the Victorians were big on using arsenic and lead in cosmetics and beauty treatments…

          The Thorn Birds is an old favourite of mine and I have read a number of the author’s other books. I added some to my e-reader a while ago. I don’t have room in my flat for so many books and I am gradually replacing them this way (paperbacks at any rate – some of my books I wouldn’t be parted from).

        3. TOS*

          The nun who taught World History assigned it to us in our honors class in the 80’s. Once the word got out about the book, we learned a lot about the history of Australia. And more.

          I’m catching up on Adiche’s fiction now, and it has a similar vibe for Nigeria. Plenty of pages, compelling writing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I recently learned that my friend Megan was named after Meggie (Meghann). It took all my know-it-all energy not to say, “So why’d she spell it wrong? HUH?” :)

      2. Valar M.*

        I was going to mention this – I know so many mother’s who named their kids for the same reason. I imagine it’ll be the same a decade or so from now when we have dozens of Daeneryses and Arias. I always think the book naming trends are interesting.

        1. Ellie*

          I just met someone the other day with a 6-week old baby called Arya! Yes, named after the character :)

    2. The IT Manager*

      A book recommendation: The End of Innocence: A Novel by Allegra Jordan. Inspired by the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at Harvard.

      At Harvard in 1914 (before America enters the war), an American Radcliffe freshman befriends a German Harvard senior and his English cousin. It demonstrates that the enemy is human too with hopes and dreams. In part 1 (the longest part) Jordan does a great job bringing 1914 Boston to life. I confess I believe that part 2 set in the trenches is ridiculously inaccurate. But part 3 is also very good although I did cry through it all.

      I used to read the sci fi more than any other genre, but now it seems like I’m reading more historical fiction than anything else.

    3. Muriel Heslop*

      I read The Thornbirds in fifth grade and am still suffering residual trauma. Not because the book isn’t awesome – I was just waaaaay too young! Parents: supervise what your kids are reading!

      I was definitely in my twenties before I pieced some of that book together.

    4. skyline*

      I read it in middle school and then worked my way through all the McCullough I could get my hands on at the time.

      I tried watching the miniseries later, but was appalled when none of the actors fit how I had envisioned the characters.

    5. Audrey*

      Do people here know that Colleen McCullough died recently? On 29 January in fact. And amongst the many tributes, the newspaper “The Australian” published an obituary that began as follows:

      “Colleen McCullough, Australia’s bestselling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”


      1. Swedish Tekanna*

        Yes, I read that comment from the Australian obituary online and thought the same. I thought we British were nasty enough about famous people online but I’ve never seen anything quite like that in an obituary over here.

    6. C Average*

      I tried reading it after I’d read her Roman series (I *loved* the Roman series) and was disappointed, because I’d been hoping for something more like . . . well, the Roman series. I should revisit it now that I’m an alleged adult. I’ll bet squeaky-clean, naive teenage me missed a few nuances.

    7. Windchime*

      The Thorn Birds is one of my all-time favorite novels. I even loved the TV mini-series of the same name; it really captured the heartbreak of the story. Love, love, love.

    8. Noelle*

      She recently wrote a new book, Bittersweet, that I’m writing now. So far it’s excellent.

  3. Treena Kravm*

    I’m on a real estate kick now. What are some features (either practical or aesthetic) that you would really want in your next place? What are the ones that are really popular, but you don’t care about?

    I really love older homes with features like crown molding and hardwood floors. I also would want laundry at least nearby, but I actually don’t care too much for dishwashers. I also don’t understand open floor-plans–am I missing something?

    1. Wolfey*

      Net-zero and passive-house are really attractive to me right now. I’d love to pay almost nothing for energy and heating. I’m also a huge fan of traditional architecture styles–none of this really modernist boxy business–as long as they aren’t cookie cutter.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I thought I wouldn’t care about where the laundry room was located as long as it was IN the house, and second-floor laundry was a crock. Now I have it and it’s seriously one of the best things about my house. I love it. I love that the laundry room is steps from my bedroom, I love that the room is big enough that I can hang up stuff to dry in there, I love everything about it, and it’s only going to get more convenient when we have kids. Thoroughly awesome, and I thought I wouldn’t give two craps about it.

      On a very tiny thing: I really wish I had a long, thin cabinet for cutting boards and cookie trays and flat baking dishes and stuff like that. We had that at our old place and it was SO convenient for stowing awkward things like that, and I miss it.

      1. Lore*

        That was the thing I most cared about when I redid my cabinets! And then I had to try to explain to the installers guys in Spanish that I wanted the shelf to be higher than they’d placed it, and I couldn’t show them a cookie sheet to explain because all my kitchen stuff was in storage. (Also, the pull-out faucet is possibly my favorite thing in that kitchen.)

        But I do wish there was laundry. Even in my building–we had a 24-hour laundromat next door and I got spoiled and then it closed. And it sucks. Living alone, I don’t miss a dishwasher much, but the laundry… Oh, and a coat closet. Or some sort of front-hall/common-area closet. My current apt only has bedroom closets and it’s annoying.

      2. Julie*

        I’m the same way. My last house had basement laundry but now I have a laundry closet on the 2nd floor next to my master and I’m in love.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          I have an older arts and crafts house and when we re-did the upstairs bathroom, the entire design revolved around keeping the laundry chute to the basement. I know I’d be thrilled with second floor laundry, but since I have basement laundry, I love my laundry chutes, fire hazard or not. There is something so satisfying about opening the little door and having the laundry disappear.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            Oh my gosh, my parents’ house (1960s) had a laundry chute that ran from the upstairs second bathroom to the laundry room/mud room off the garage. Unfortunately, it was poorly designed and had a random six-inch flat piece at the end, which is the exact space necessary for clothes to lose momentum and pile up. I think my mother used it for one week when they bought the house and never looked back. They blocked it off when they redid the bathroom and my mother was so happy.

            I love the idea of a laundry chute, though. It seems like such a fun and useful detail!

            1. the gold digger*

              My cousins and I used to climb through the laundry chute in the bathroom and slip into the basement at my aunt’s house. You had to grab a pipe to lower yourself to the floor.

              We also climbed out of the dormer window to get onto the roof.

              Parents today would freak out. :)

              1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

                My husband’s cousin got stuck in a laundry chute once and the fire department had to come and get him out. Ours is too small for a kid to go down but since the cat chases anything that moves, I always fear she’s going to hurl herself after a towel one day.

                My sister and I always laugh about our parents and the neighbor’s parents thinking it was A-OK to give three 12 year old girls a machete to clear some overgrown tunnels that someone else created in the tangle of blackberry bushes behind our house. It would never happen today.

            2. TOS*

              As a Rancher occupant, we looked into laundry chutes and were informed they were fire hazards :(

              So the dream house plan – when we win the Lottery – has a bedroom-area laundry room…our steps are at the other end of the house…

      3. Buggy Crispino*

        I’m the opposite about laundry room location. I have upstairs laundry near the bedrooms and I hate it. I tend to do laundry in the evenings while I’m watching TV, so I hate that I have to go up and down the stairs every time I need to do the next load, put things into the dryer, take things out, hang them, fold them, blah blah blah. Half the time I can’t even hear the end of cycle alert, so the things that need to be hung up immediately sit in a lump in the dryer wrinkling more and more as each minute ticks by. A laundry chute would be pretty cool if it led to a laundry somewhere downstairs closer to my family room.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I think some places are taxed by the number of walls, so the open floor plan might be a necessity.

      If I had it to do again, I would make sure that the lot that actually drained. Clay soil with a septic tank is not fun. I don’t know how I missed all those water loving trees when I first saw the house. (Willows and such grow next to water.) My “basement” is actually a pool.

      The other thing I would do is make sure the garage was bigger. A one car garage is enough for the yard equipment. The car sits outside. Twenty years later, I am tired of cleaning snow off my car.

      But of everything, I got what was most important- ease of use. It’s easy to live here. Everything is on one level. The layout is logical, it just makes sense. My laundry is next to my kitchen, I can cook and run wash at the same time without running up and down stairs 12 times.

      1. TL -*

        Open floor plans also keep the place cooler, so very popular in hot states.

        I like them because I hate feeling boxed in – less walls, more space leads to a much happier me. I know a lot of people on the house hunting shows like them because they can be working in the kitchen while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the living room. So a multitude of reasons why someone would want them.

      2. Jade*

        Totally agree on the one car garage front. We had been in an apartment before we bought our house and thought just having a garage was a luxury. Now the garage is full of workshop and yard equipment and none of our vehicles actually fit in it.

        1. Graciosa*

          Once upon a time, there was a tax on the number of doors. I found out when I worked as a docent in a historic home; one of the features we discussed were the very large windows that let you walk out of the dining room on to the porch without having to pay the door tax.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I really, really want a porch, preferably a deep wraparound one. I love sitting outside, but now I have to pull a lawn chair out or sit on the steps. I wish we had a place where I could leave an Adirondack chair or, better yet, a lounge chair.

    5. Marzipan*

      When I bought my flat, the things I wanted were: two bedrooms, a kitchen that wasn’t part of the living-room, enough room for all my books (2000+ at the last count), space for a dining table, and a bathroom with a bath in it (not just a shower). And it has all of those! The things I didn’t care about were parking (no car) and central heating (I was moving out of a flat with no central heating so I knew I could do without it; I can always fit it later to add value; and the absence of it really puts other people off so it meant I could potentially get a good deal). And lo, it doesn’t have those things.

      If I had all the money in the world, my list would also include a larder (had one once, it was amazing).

      1. Marzipan*

        And yeah, I don’t get open plan either. I’d rather have a dozen tiny rooms than one big one. I can’t do without wall space.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I do too. I don’t really get the appeal behind “open concept”. All that means to me is that I have to have my kitchen looking clean and perfect all the time, because my kitchen/dining/living room are all really just one big space.

          I live in a modern home now; one where all the outlets work and it’s energy-efficient and painted in modern colors. My previous home was built in 1929 and it was SOLID as a rock. Everything was plaster and lathe. It had a beautiful arch between living room and dining room, and there were built-ins in the dining room. There was an original crystal chandelier and crystal doorknobs. It also had weird, leaky bathrooms, plugins that were either dead or dangerous, and inefficient baseboard heat. I loved that house, but it’s easier to live in a modern house where everything works.

      2. Purple Dragon*

        I don’t get the open plan either – I need walls to put my bookshelves against :)

    6. Alder*

      Lots of sunlight is my #1 thing. I also love older built-in cabinets and such. My current apartment has a ’50s Wedgewood gas stove and the original 20s cabinets in the kitchen! I’m dreaming of a working fireplace someday…

      1. Alder*

        Some more things: nice street trees; near a park and a coffee shop would be wonderful; and it has to be close to where I work, because I’ve never owned a car and hope I will never have to. The smaller, older, and less updated the better, as long as the roof is not caving in. I’m looking to buy a house, and I’m pretty much looking for the smallest, cheapest, oldest house in my city.

    7. Lee*

      I don’t understand dishwashers! They just take up space that could be storage. Although, I have used them for storing cookie trays and cutting boards.

      1. BritCred*

        For me I do want a dishwasher but just don’t have the space for it in my new flats kitchen. Basically because of my health issues washing up can really be difficult when I’m in pain which is far too often.

        As to the thread starter question – I totally underestimated the effect of the size of my kitchen and the lack of storage. I’m slowly getting there to rearranging it and kinda didn’t realise how spoilt I was before with the rental flats kitchen…

      2. Camster*

        I agree about the dishwasher! I’ve never had one and they kind of freak me out – a dank, wet hole in a cabinet.

        1. danr*

          Then something is wrong… dishwashers should be dry after the cycle, whether you use the heat dry or not.

          1. Camster*

            To be honest, while I’ve used a dishwasher at other people’s houses, I’ve never had one of my own, so that’s how I picture them!

      3. Elkay*

        I love my dishwasher, I call it my dirty dish cupboard. I hate washing up and the rest of my kitchen is designed for maximum storage.

      4. Bea W*

        They are great for storing dirty dishes and mugs! I live alone and run mine 1x week, more if I am WFH or taking time off. I just give stuff a quick rinse and put it in there. I run it when it’s full. I hate having dishes in the sink but I also hate washing them in the sink.

    8. Lipton Tea For Me*

      My tastes tend to run in the exact opposite of 98% of the population. I love older homes with updated plumbing, electric, windows, insulation. I like the little nooks and crannies they used to have for say a telephone or the little ironing boards. I love the stain glass transoms, all the deep stained woodwork (to me it is a travesty when someone on HGTV paints over the woodwork)
      But I am also claustrophobic and totally hate the square footage all chopped up into little rooms, I prefer the open floor plans as it allows me to make my home the way I want it and not all chopped up into designated spaces that I have no use for.
      I would prefer an older quiet established neighborhood with older trees that provide shade in the front yard and space for a Japanese Zen sitting garden. I also will need space for a vegetable garden in the back that I can keep separate from my 3 marauding dogs. And I could care less about entertaining, I want space for me and my dogs and space to regenerate and just be.

      1. reader*

        I do like the older homes with the unique spaces. My grandparent’s (father’s side) attic was a nice place to play and I really liked the narrow turning stairway. The frosted oval window in one of the bathrooms was a nice touch. My grandmother’s (mother’s side) last house had a storage area off one bedroom that made a nice doll house and it had a large landing upstairs that was made a nice tv area for the kids. And it had 3 doors in the front. The house had started as a 2 story log cabin that had been added onto over the years. This made for an unique layout.

      2. Another Ellie*

        I hate painted over woodwork. It makes me scream “why did you do that?!” inside. Either it was horrible, in which case re-finish it or rip it out, or it was wonderful, in which case why would you want to paint over it?!

    9. reader*

      I really like the house I have now. If I were to build a new home it would basically be a slightly larger version of this one. An eat-in kitchen, large family room are a must. I am not a fan of open concept as I don’t want to see my kitchen when I’m not in it and usually translates to less overall space. Do not want stainless appliances, not worth the extra money to me. Laundry on the first floor, while many think it should be on the second because that’s were all the clothes are I don’t live on the second floor. The space should be big enough to hang clothes with an area to fold them. If possible have space for second refrigerator and pantry. Over sized garage. Most double garages are 20×20 which don’t give you quite enough room for the trash cans, tools, snow shovels or the kid’s sport’s equipment if you have 2 cars. A foyer is a must to me, I really don’t want to walk right into the living room and it limits what strangers see of your house when you open the door. Finished basement for the kids and friends and future grand children. And the ability to add on a bed and bath for when stairs are no longer my friend. Like having dining room and living as their own separate spaces. We use the living room as an office and have used the dining room as a bedroom. So having spaces that are flexible is nice.
      I do like the craftsman style and built-ins. Hardwoods are nice. Have a nice front porch but could be about a foot deeper. Like little touches that keep rooms from seeming like a plain white box. I have chair rails in the living room for example. And wall space. When we were looking at houses too many of them didn’t have a large enough wall to put furniture. Putting furniture below a window is one thing but I don’t want to be blocking half of it with a chest of drawers or a headboard.

      1. Lipton Tea For Me*

        Oh and I forgot, I love, love, love the wrap around porches. If it was warm here at the moment and not covered with that evil white stuff; I’d be sitting on the porch hanging with a book and the sun! I especially would love a porch that actually allowed walking room around said chair.

    10. Julie*

      I just moved this winter after house hunting for far too long. I moved from a midcentury Cape Cod house in the country to an Italiante-Victorian in St. Louis city.

      Things on my wishlist: An actual pantry, covered parking for 2 cars, a giant office/craft space, wood cabinets (not white) and lots of them in my kitchen
      Things on my husband’s wishlist: A dining room, a space for a mudroom, a basement/garage space for a workshop
      Things we both wanted: Location

      When house hunting we realized how much we loved awesome staircases, pocket doors, transom windows, exposed brick walls, double lots, stained glass windows, and 3rd floors. Our actual house ended up with the exposed brick, pocket doors, transom windows, dining room, the covered parking, workshop and studio spaces, wood cabinets, pantry, and the 3rd floor. A bunch of other stuff of course.

      But we ended up getting a bunch of things we didn’t know we’d love like gas ranges, a set of cabinets with a wine/coffee bar in the dining room, and 3 decks of outdoor space instead of more yard. What I miss most from my last house is actually having lazy susans in my cabinets since they hold EVERYTHING. But I got an Elfa system for my pantry and that helps a ton. My biggest regret is still no mudroom/foyer but I have ideas. Our house didn’t come with a single built in either so I have to build some things but it came with a jetted tub which I love. I ended up with an open floor plan on the first floor and while I usually hate them, this one is growing on me. The rest of the house was so perfect that I can overlook one crazy large room and its 12 foot ceilings with no furniture in it yet. To me, location was the biggest priority, with storage options as my second biggest priority, and the house having enough character that I feel like it reflects who I am. Everything else can be worked out.

      (But for the love of God home remodelers, make sure you put drawers in a house! We really only have cabinets with no inserts and I didn’t realize how much every cabinet and vanity can turn into black holes so quickly!)

    11. Lizzie*

      We are just starting the search for our next apartment, and even though we won’t move until summer at the earliest, I’m already chomping at the bit. My #1 thing is laundry; we have to have it in the next building, bonus if it’s in the apartment itself. (I am soooo tired of lugging stuff to the laundromat or washing it by hand in the bathtub.) A dedicated parking space is also a must. Things I would like but can live without if it comes down to it: dishwasher, hardwood floors, non-basement level, eat-in kitchen.

      Down the line, I’d like to have a second bedroom or office, a separate dining room, a porch, and a yard, but we’re not making that kind of money yet.

    12. Traveler*

      Do not care about fireplaces. At all. I cannot understand paying thousands extra to have one installed like they do on HGTV shows.

      Also don’t care about open floor plans. I’m hoping that backlash starts soon. I’d rather have a room for everything and a place for everything than a giant football field of a kitchen/dining/living room. Dishwashers are pretty useless – they never clean properly it seems, but I also really hate doing the dishes and they let me pretend I don’t have to.

      Likes… outdoor bar/grilling areas. Screened in sleeping porches.

    13. Noah*

      Here are my “must-haves”: kitchen open to family/living space, dining room large enough for at least 8 people, laundry in my home, high ceilings, lots of windows, and some outdoor space. My current apartment has all of these things, although the living/dining space requires a bit of rearranging to get the leaf in the table to make it for 8 people.

      My washer/dryer is actually inside the master bedroom closet, which I really like because I can fold clothes and put them right away, no midway stop in a laundry basket.

      I prefer carpet over hardwood, it is so much warmer and cozier. I wouldn’t hate hardwood, but I would put down a lot of rugs.

      I also love the keypad lock on my apartment door. You can use either a key or the code to get in. I love that I can leave my keys behind when I go for a morning run. Also nice to give visiting friends the code.

    14. Jeanne*

      I feel more comfy in a house with regular ceilings. Not the two story ceiling in the family room. I insisted on my own laundry machines. I have no basement or attic but has lots of living space. Do you like a flower bed? A formal dining area? I ended up paying for a garage which I love. Use it for your car, not storage. Be comfortable.

      Things like dishwashers may not mean much to you but it may help for resale.

    15. Camster*

      I rent an older duplex that has hardwood floors and I love them! I have cats who make it a point to throw up on anything that remotely looks like a rug, so I find it easier to clean up (and eventually replace) area rugs. I don’t think I would care to live in a place with wall to wall carpet ever again! Being out West, open floor plans are really big here – definitely helps circulate the air or heat, plus the rooms feel so “airy”. However, since this is an older place, I have a regular wall between the kitchen and living room.

      Oh, and I had a screen door installed last summer and I love it! Since our weather is usually mild, I have the front door opened most of the time (like right now!). I had to pay for it myself since the landlady refused (she thought the cats would be scaling the screen door like Everest, which they do not do). It was the best investment!

      1. Corry*

        Cats prefer to yark on carpet because there’s less splashback, I think. (We, too, have no carpet for a reason.)

        1. Bea W*

          My friend moved to a place that only had carpet in the bedrooms. She thought for sure her cats would just puke in the livingroom as usual but with hard floors it would be easy to clean. Her cats never puked on the hard floors. They would run into one of the bedrooms to do it every time. She ended up installing hardwood in the bedrooms several years later. It was a losing battle. As long as there was carpet, the cats would find it and puke on it.

    16. The IT Manager*

      Open floor plan! I like it. #1 – I can watch the TV in the living room while doing dishes/cooking etc. The exterior windows bring in light to more rooms with an open floor plan. I live alone, but I imagine it helps with family time/watching kids that the person in the kitchen can see/participate in what’s going on in the living room.

    17. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I prefer older houses, and over time I’ve found these things to be very important to me: hardwood floors, high ceilings (not atrium high, but Victorian house high), lots of windows, a long unbroken expanse of countertop in the kitchen, warmth — very important for me to be able to be cozy in the winter, gas range — can’t cook otherwise.

      Things that I didn’t know I would like so much — 36 inch counter on the bathroom sink (seriously, why are we bending over so much?) and a “comfort height” toilet. The architect of our 1926 bungalow wasn’t great, but the builder was — all the inside window and door trim pieces are screwed on with these largish black arts and crafts screws, so if you need to take the trim off to fix the window sash cords or get a refrigerator through the door, it’s so easy. We also have incredibly beautiful and well-fitting wooden storm windows and screens that install from the inside.

      Features that I would jump for joy if I could get — a mud room, a pantry or one of those unfolding pantry wall cabinets, and a serious outside-venting exhaust hood over the stove.

      Things I hate that seem either de rigueur or popular: Badly positioned islands. We are looking to buy in the next year, and I’ve seen so many older houses with stupidly positioned islands just to have an island. I’ve seen them blocking the work triangle, or positioning the counter seats so everyone’s back is to the view (I just looked at one where they jammed a little table in a corner so the occupants could sip their coffee and look out into the yard instead of sitting at the island). I really hate vessel sinks, too — not sure I could bring myself to buy a house with vessel sinks unless they dropped the price enough to pay for replacing them.

      1. Windchime*

        I think the vessel sinks are a fad. I don’t have any, but they sure don’t look very practical to me.

    18. Clever Name*

      Open floor plans are for people who love togetherness and who love shouting across the house at each other. For us, the bedrooms had to be on a separate floor from the kitchen and living area, and we wanted a western exposure so the patio is in the shade in the evening. Bonus is the driveway melts so much faster!

    19. StillHealing*

      A gas stove and oven. I have these where I am renting now and didn’t know what I was missing! I just don’t burn things like I used to and things bake evenly.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      If I buy another older home, I want one that someone else already updated. New HVAC, new electrical, new plumbing. There are two things you don’t ever want to hear “all original” on–houses and cars. I would definitely have a fireplace as well. That would have come in handy during the 2007 ice storm. :P

      A smaller yard. I don’t need one this huge.

      Better neighborhood.

      Wouldn’t do this by myself again. :(

    21. Dew E. Decimal*

      When I bought a year and a half ago, the realtor was very much upselling ensuite baths to me, which I had had in my old apartment. I do not like them, and this trend with new builds of having them is not my cup of tea. TMI, perhaps, but there’s something to be said for lying in bed reading and not having to hear the intimate details of your partner’s digest system. I prouldy own a condo now where I can’t hear a thing from the non-attached bathroom down the hall while I’m lying in bed.

      1. C Average*

        I wish all bathrooms everywhere were soundproofed as a matter of course. Or that we did as the Japanese do and have toilets that make various white noises.

        Actually, my ideal house would totally have Japanese toilets, with heated seats and white noise and bidets. I love Japanese toilets!

        My ideal house would also have a feature I once saw in a friend’s house: a mud room with tile walls and a drain in the floor. So you (or the kids, or the dog, or the kayaks, or whatever) could simply be hosed off in the mud room. It was really genius.

        That’s pretty much my wish list. I’d like to have it all on one floor, too. The house I live in now is huge and sprawling and frankly overwhelming. I’d love a cozy little house about half the size.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Yes, that’s the exactly the kind of mud room I want! Tiled far up the walls with a high pressure hose and a drain in the floor. We had something a bit similar in an old house apartment and it was fantastic for the dog.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          The house I grew up in had a small bath near the garage with a shower stall in it–that’s what we called our mudroom. You could come in through the garage from outside and ditch muddy/wet stuff in there. Later we turned the garage into a family room.

          I forgot something above–I want more than one bathroom!

    22. Eden*

      My house was built in 1940, and I love it, it has such charm. However, the one thing I would say to anyone thinking about an older home is, have a professional perform an energy assessment, and think about what you’re willing to pay for utilities. I live in NC, which is not very far north, with all-electric heat in an energy-inefficient home, and last month’s electric bill is $570. It’s kicking my butt, financially, and wasn’t one of the many things I budgeting to fix.

    23. VintageLydia USA*

      The one thing I really wanted but didn’t get for my home was a deep front porch. We have a decent sized side porch that works well enough, though the view is of my driveway and ugly rotting fence. We also have no coat closet (something I didn’t realize until we already moved in. It wasn’t a deal breaker, thankfully, but still.) We got an armoire and stuck it in the sun room (our main family entrance.) It’s not ideal but not bad, either.
      My floor plan is sort of open (big living room, smaller dining area attached with a giant archway that delineates the space without taking up room) but the kitchen and sunroom are separated from those two with pocket doors (house built in 1959. I’ve always loved pocket doors and we have THREE!) It’s great because I can make dinner and then close off the messy kitchen. I wish I had more counter space but if push comes to shove I can set something up in the sunroom.

    24. Girasol*

      I’m imagining my retirement dream home. I want 550-850 square feet (never own more than you’re willing to vacuum), room for a vegetable garden on a small lot (same goes for the mowing). Single story, nice neighborhood, as close as I can get to the city greenbelt/bike trail. Screen porch for sleeping would be a big plus. Insulation/energy efficiency must be good or at least doable as an upgrade. Maintainable. I wouldn’t mind redoing the paint, roof, and/or windows at the start, but if it’s a total fixer-upper with electric and plumbing and wood rot problems, not for me! Must be on a maintained road. No flood or mudslide zone. Am now in a large rural place on a dirt road. It’s been wonderful to have the solitude and the spectacular views of farms and mountains but I’m outgrowing the joys of house painting, repair, mowing, yard work, and issues with being snowed in. For a long time I loved owning a wonderful dream house in the country but somehow it’s starting to feel like it owns me, so I’m dreaming of a different house now.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        I’ve been visiting open houses this weekend, really just for fun, to get a feel of the housing stock in the areas I’d want to live (if I bought a home).

        I’m finding features I enjoy, such as: starter home-size (2 to 3 small bedrooms), dedicated spaces (not open plan), basement (don’t care if it’s finished), non-galley kitchen with gas range and decent counter space, bathroom with a tub. Everything else is just gravy.

        The starter homes in my area pretty much bungalow style built in the ’30s and ’40s, some of which have been very nicely updated. I’m enjoying the plaster exterior and plaster walls way more than I thought (I come from the land of vinyl siding and sheetrock) and can we talk about built-ins? I think they’re great. Hardwood floors and original wood mouldings are very nice too.

    25. Connie-Lynne*

      Connected to city sewage lines is a must for me; I will never deal with septic tanks again!

      Other things are — space for all our books, laundry hookups, and lots of street parking in the neighborhood. I hate getting home from a long day at work and having to park a half-mile or more away from my house!

      Hardwood floors, tons and tons of windows, and definitely open-plan. Other than that, just some kind of character, whether it’s an older home with weird little alcoves, or stained glass in some of the windows, or neato lighting fixtures … just _something_ to keep it from being a horrible grey box.

    26. Kyrielle*

      I have some very strong feelings on these things. :)

      1) I really really want a dishwasher, and a good one at that. I have two small children, and being able to put things in and just have them get clean is awesome. Pity we don’t have one for the kids! I mean, uh….

      2) Anyway, yes, washer/dryer, preferably in house.

      3) NO MORE OPEN FLOOR PLAN OH PLEASE. We have this currently and it’s beautiful and airy and spacious and it makes the whole idea of zoning your heat ridiculous, which is a pity because this house really needs it. Yes, it looks pretty and it makes the eyes go “ooo, open space”…but I want

      4) nicely zoned heating system so the different rooms, and especially if it’s multi-story the different floors, have their own controls and temperatures. It would be nice if I didn’t have to _broil_ the kids’ room upstairs to make the master bedroom resemble anything but a chest freezer with linens.

      5) Speaking of laundry, sufficient room in the laundry room for high-efficiency front-loaders. I have them now, and I love them, and it’s sure a good thing we keep the kitty litter at the far end of the laundry/utility room, and thus don’t _want_ the door to close.

      6) FEWER CARPETS. Seriously. Carpet the bedrooms? Yes please! Carpet the family room with a door that opens into the back yard? What were the previous owners THINKING? I’d prefer hardwood, or maybe recycled-glass tiles, but I could live with almost anything I could wash, without involving the words ‘steam clean’.

      7) Never again a walk in shower/tub like at our last house with the sliding doors, unless I check that the track is engineered well. It was at knee height and had distinct edges, and I barked my knee on it routinely. It can be done right – the lower tub in this house is fine because it’s nowhere at knee height – but never again that setup.

      8) Honestly, ideally I’d like a single-story house. I love a lot about this one, but the up and down and the heating are not my favorite things ever.

      9) Sufficient storage. Attic space should not be accessed via a door in one of the bedroom closets, though. (What IS it about this? The house I grew up in did it, too.)

      10) A kitchen like the one I have now, in terms of storage and facilities (gas stove, though electric is fine; double oven, though single is fine; microwave; dishwasher). It largely works, though had I realized the ovens were smaller than normal, I might have passed on this. (That’s not a problem in a future house, though! All my bakeware now fits. lol)

      11) Location. Near work. Either near shopping or out into the country, one of the two. (If I have to live with suburbia, I might as well have a handy supermarket.) Good schools.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Oh, and none of these are necessary but all would be positive: synthetic roof, fairly new (I am so tired of cedar shingle replacement); solar panels/solar energy; green engineering for heat efficiency, etc.; water recycling/grey water usage done appropriately; driveway that is flat rather than sloped; on a quiet road or a cul de sac; heat pump for AC/heating; in an area that gets good broadband of some sort, I have my preferences but so do most people I think; no HOA, or if it has an HOA, one with rules that make ‘HOA run amok’ difficult. (I don’t mind, for example, an HOA that collects dues and maintains a public pathway or park. I mind an HOA that regulates house color, landscaping, etc., because personal history tells me they can’t be trusted to follow their own rules.)

    27. abby*

      What matters most to me is direction of the street, placement of the house on the street, and location of the bedroom I will sleep in.

      I did not realize how important this is to me until the past decade as the part of the country I live in is heating up and getting more humid in the summer. We get fantastic ocean breezes in the evening, but our bedroom faces away from that direction, so our bedroom is hot and stifling all night long. No A/C, never needed it until recently. So in my next house, I will make sure our bedroom faces the direction the prevailing breezes come from, and will be on the back side of the house to avoid street noise and lights.

      I like an open floor plan (yes, I’m in the west). I tend to keep a pretty tidy kitchen, so am not worried about “seeing” things. When we entertain, everyone is crowded in the kitchen and it would be nice to be able to spread out and still socialize. When not entertaining, I feel isolated and closed off in the kitchen at the far end of the house and I find myself cooking less than perhaps I should, simply because I want to be part of the family in the evenings after work.

      I would love a big porch, preferably on multiple sides of the house.

      I would like a walk-in pantry. My current isolated kitchen has no storage space. If no room for a walk-in pantry, then at least a nice, spacious built-in cabinet with varying shelf heights and either slide-out shelves or lazy susans so I can reach and therefore efficiently use all the space.

      I like wood floors. Not laminate. Area rugs for bedrooms. I would love a radiant-heat floor; some friends have this and they never need to use their heater in the winter. Not a fan of forced-air heating, especially the systems where the vent is high up the wall, just below the ceiling (hello … heat rises).

      I don’t like en suite bathrooms. I prefer a separate bathroom, especially if one partner gets up much earlier or goes to bed much later than the other. Our current house is older and does not have an en suite bathroom, but sadly it seems this is the trend with newer homes.

      I prefer the garage to be behind the house instead of in front. Again, at least in suburbs in the west, the trend seems to be to place the garage up front so that’s all you see.

    28. HR Generalist*

      Reading through all of these, some of them made me giggle because you obviously don’t live in a sub-arctic climate (at least that’s how it feels!) like me! We’re house hunting right now, here’s my list:

      1. No flood issues. Preferably no basement. I grew up in wetlands and our current rental has a damaged weeping tile so we’re basically guaranteed a flood every spring come thaw, ughhh. Not being able to properly use our basement (as everything must be encased in plastic and raised off the floor) and worrying about our appliances (new washer/dryer and a chest freezer) is just not for me.

      2. Suitable heating. I’d prefer a woodstove for cost purposes (I trust the local guys who cut down trees to charge me appropriately than the hydro company), anything but electrical because that’s only rising in my area. I’d take natural gas or oil but ideally an outdoor wood furance or wood stove with electric backup (power outages/being snowed in are real possibilities and I loved the freedom of having heat as a kid when my friends had to go to emergency centres). This also means as little “open concept” as possible – I need to block off rooms I don’t use to save me from heating them.

      3. Going along with point #2, I’d prefer carpet over hardwood. Keeps the heat and feels cozy.

      4. Good bones. Decent electrical installed by an actual electrician and not somebody’s brother. Strong foundation and structure, no wood rot or plumbing/water concerns.

      5. Double garage. Preferably insulated and ideally heated. Must have electrical to plug in block heaters. After a month’s worth of -40 C weather I’m tired of our vehicles deciding when they want to start or not. We also both need to be able to fit our vehicles in there because partner’s is less predictable than mine so he would get priority and I’m so tired of brushing snow off my car!

      That’s basically it. I grew up in a converted hunt camp on a wetland/forest (100 acres worth) so my concerns are fairly minimal– I like to think I’m easy to please. If the house stands and isn’t damp, I will be a happy camper.

      I also like space – I don’t want to be able to see my neighbours and I don’t want the city bylaw enforcement to be able to just come in uninvited. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and was surprised to find out about things like building permits, pet registration tags, neighbour noise complaints, bonfire bylaws (seriously…. these should all not exist). I want to OWN my land in every sense of the word. I bought it, it’s mine, mind your business :)

      When I imagine my fantasy property it would be a small hobby farm where I could raise chickens, a few goats, do some beekeeping and have a SERIOUS garden. But that also probably means I wouldn’t be able to work a full-time job, so not very realistic.

    29. NacSacJack*

      I would like a mud room and a back door landing with room for two 90lbs labs and me while I am opening the door. A back staircase that doesn’t bisect the basement in half. A kitchen off to one side of the house with a hallway down the middle of the house to the back door and basement staircase rather than people walking diagonally through the kitchen to get to the back door and backstairs. All bedrooms up on a second story. An office or 10×10 room on the main level so I can work from home in sunshine. A pantry in the kitchen rather than downstairs. Basement floor in tile with a drain to make cleaning easier. No carpeting in the basement at all. I’m a big fan of hardwood floors. Radiant heating for the wood floors and basement floors.

    30. LCL*

      My must have list was:
      1. Flat lot- a lot of homes here are on lots that are elevated and the edge of the lot is retaining walls.
      2. No fir trees- a lot of homes here are surrounded by fir trees that drop needles constantly and drop limbs in windstorms.
      3. A fenceable yard, because I always have dogs.
      4. At least two bathrooms.
      The house we ended up buying only has 1 bathroom, we chose it because it met the other 3 criteria. Except both neighbors have fir trees and we still have pine needles and broken branches all over the place.

    31. Schuyler*

      I’ve been on a tiny house kick lately. I don’t know that I could go as small as some of these people–195 square feet on wheels or whatnot–but I love the idea of a home that’s 500-1000 square feet. Small and easy to maintain; easier mortgage. I love some of the ingenuity that comes in these homes. Staircase cabinets, storage in the floor, use of technology… I find it fascinating and exciting. It makes me think I might actually be able to afford a house someday; right now, I can’t imagine being able to purchase a home of my own.

      One of my favorites, though it’s probably smaller than I could comfortably live in, is this school bus home: http://www.reshareworthy.com/school-bus-tiny-house.

  4. Christy*

    Does anyone here live in Kansas City MO? My girlfriend is slowly job hunting there and we’ll move there when she gets a job. (She is a library coordinator now, and I can transfer my government job.) We live near DC now, and we’ve never lived in the Midwest before.

    How is KC? How is it different from the East Coast? How is it for LGBT people?

    1. Mal*

      I live near KC and will be moving to KC in May. It’s more liberal than other parts of Kansas and Missouri so it should be okay on the LGBT front.
      It’s a great city, small but not too small, lots of sports, museums, shopping, historical places, the scenery is gorgeous, and the weather isn’t bad. Humid and hot in the summer, winter varies but is similar to DC.
      As far as living there, I recommend north of the city in KCMO North, and south of I-70 on the Kansas side(Overland Park, Olathe, Mission,ect) or south of downtown around Ward Parkway and streets in the 80s. Definitely visit before moving and drive around, the city has some areas that are really rundown but generally it’s a well off city. Very low cost of living too!
      Oh and if you choose to live within KCMO city limits there is a 1% earning tax. Just FYI haha.
      And, early welcome to KC!!

      1. Christy*

        Thank you! I didn’t know about the tax, but I’m happy to pay taxes. (That’s part of why we’re almost definitely moving to KCMO and not KCK–prefer the politics of MO.)

    2. SystemsLady*

      I lived in an apartment in Liberty for an internship in north KCMO. I didn’t have TOO much experience with KC itself, but I say a couple of things.

      The food is delicious, so don’t worry about that!

      As an East Coaster, you might find public transport options in KC and really the Midwest in general to be somewhat lacking – only Chicago and Minneapolis have much of a public transport system, to my knowledge. I would keep that in mind if you end up looking for a place in the city itself.

      I can’t speak too much on the LGBT side, but I know some LGBT people who live in Liberty/KC and they haven’t mentioned running into significant issues. Not that you won’t run into public, passive-aggressive displays against gay marriage and whatnot – when I lived there during the Chick-fil-a counterprotest thing, for example, the Liberty Chick-fil-a was packed – but overall, it should be OK. Much better than the rest of KS or MO in any case.

      Minnesota and Iowa are actually fairly progressive on LGBT issues, if for some reason her search moves north. It’s probably similar in Illinois, too, but I haven’t spent as much time in that state.

      (I think the 1% tax gets charged regardless of where you live if you work in KCMO, by the way)

      1. Christy*

        Thanks for the tips! I’m fairly certain the Chick-fil-a in my Baltimore suburb hometown was packed too. :( oh well.

    3. edj3*

      Yes, if you work in KCMO, you pay the tax regardless of where you live.

      I live here now, moved back here from Boston (originally an East Coast woman). Things you will like for sure:
      ~Cost of living is low.
      ~Traffic is easy peasy, especially if you are coming from DC (or Boston as I did).
      ~Parts are very LGBT friendly, other parts not so much. But that’s true almost anywhere.
      ~As others posted, food and entertainment options are plentiful and the city is lovely.
      ~Quality of life is great, slower paced and all that.

      What you’ll struggle with:
      ~Unless you live in KCMO (and not all areas at that) and also WORK in KCMO, public transportation options are an utter joke.
      ~This is not a pedestrian friendly town. I live in Leawood and we have no–NO–sidewalks in my neighborhood. So walking is kind of unnatural here.
      ~If you like to travel (and we travel a lot, both for work and fun), the airport is way up north. It’s a great airport for getting in and out of but it’s not a hub for any of the airlines.

      I’ve lived in Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas), )verland Park, Kansas City, MO (Hyde Park to be exact, also Midtown), Shawnee, Lenexa and now Leawood. I haven’t lived north of I-70 or further east on the Missouri side. If you’re open to commuting, you might consider Lawrence. It’s far more liberal than the rest of Kansas and very LGBT friendly. Housing costs a bit more, thanks to the university. But it’s a great town too.

      I’ll check back on the thread tomorrow and see if you have other questions.

      1. Christy*

        I’m pretty sure we’re not open to Kansas at all–my girlfriend really does not want to live in a state that elected Sam Brownback.

        Thanks for the airport advice! Our families are on opposite coasts so I’m sure we’d be traveling fairly regularly.

        Do you mind sharing which neighborhoods are lgbt-friendly? If any come to mind?

        I appreciate all your advice.

        1. edj3*

          The Westport area and Brookside immediately come to mind. Brookside is pricier though. Might check out Waldo, too. Personally I’d avoid the suburbs or exurbs, the commute is long (although never truly wretched, just long–we have a lot of land in the Midwest, so we spread out) and that’s where you tend to find more cookie cutter living IMO.

          And yes, Brownback is a definite negative about KS. But it needs to bed said: don’t fool yourself. MO’s politics are pretty similar; you aren’t going to find that it’s wildly different in MO. You just don’t have Brownback.

          1. Christy*

            Thanks for the neighborhood info! And I believe you about MO politics, but my girlfriend has a particular issue with Brownback–something about the video game legislation he introduced in the Senate.

            (It’s rather arbitrary, but so is the reason we’re moving to KC–they have a great city Twitter and city open data program. So what’s some more arbitrariness?)

            1. edj3*

              Obviously we like it enough that we moved back after five years in Boston :)

              This might give you a giggle: my husband (who is not conservative at all) registered Republican just to work against Brownback.

        2. mdv*

          There are a lot of people who like Brownback, and people in Lawrence are (mostly) NOT them — it’s my hometown, and we once elected a frog for mayor (back in the early 80s) to oppose destruction of local wetlands… The local politics are so different from the rest of the state, I really think it is a mistake to write off a whole town just based on this one fact that doesn’t even apply to the town in question! But, yes, I am biased. It’s my hometown.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      No advice, as we left when I was seven, but it’s one of the Google Fiber cities. :)

      I live south of it. I hate it here. But that’s just me–I’m sick of the Midwest. Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, and it does have great shopping. The Plaza is awesome and so is Crown Center (if it’s still there). It has a lively arts scene as well. Oh, and fountains–lots of fountains. I remember one with horses on it but I don’t know where it is. I haven’t been there in ages.

      Weather–snow, ice, and thunderstorms. Get used to tornado watches and warnings and pay attention to them. Summers are hot and humid.

      1. Christy*

        Why are you sick of the Midwest? Just curious. I’m really sick of the MidAtlantic so I empathize.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m having trouble dealing with a place where this many people watch Duck Dynasty and don’t know who Stephen Fry is. -_-

          But seriously, it’s mostly weather (ugh!), attitude, and I’ve been here most of my life and I’m bored with it. It’s so white-bread and close-minded and tends to be a closed culture as well. I’ve never felt like I fit in. I lived in California for four years and didn’t have culture shock until I moved back. Same with going to the UK, both times, even though I was only eighteen the first time. Coming back is always weirder than going elsewhere, which I take as a sign that I don’t belong here. Thank God for my Doctor Who nerd friends, or I would go crazy.

      2. edj3*

        PARTS of the city are Google Fiber. Case in point, Leawood was on tap to get it and now we are not. Overland Park (which the OP won’t want for a number of reasons) will be last to get it if it ever happens (long story short, their city council got all pissy and Google said fine, we’ll take our toys and go elsewhere).

    5. DCtoKC*

      We moved from the DMV a couple of years ago. I just laugh when my coworkers complain about the traffic. Traffic here does not exist. Cost of living is really low. I was surprised at How much lower our car insurance. You can buy a very nice house for a very decent price. KC is a neat little town with things to do on the week end. Now, it’s not a very diverse area. I work with a lot of people that have spent their entire life here, college included. The airport is not convenient for international travels, but is great to travel within the US. Hope this helped!

      1. Christy*

        Yes, it definitely helped! I get insanely excited when I think about the lack of traffic. I metro to work now, but it’s almost hard to imagine an easy driving commute.

    6. Andrea*

      I never even check these open threads, but the one time I do, someone’s asking about KC! I live in KCMO, and in one of the most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods around (which also happens to be an absolutely beautiful area). I bet you will love it here. I sure do.

      Staying away from Kansas and the ‘burbs is the best decision we made. I bet you won’t regret that. We are thrilled with our lovely neighborhood full of classic homes and big trees and sidewalks. You’ll probably love Waldo or Brookside. These are both classic, close-knit neighborhoods right in the city, but you’ll have a yard (I have a very large one, which is great because I grow vegetables and herbs). Lots of lovely Tudors and bungalows here, homes with lots of character and lovely hardwoods, crown moulding, fireplaces, all that. Mostly homeowners but there are some rentals around (not sure if you’re looking to buy yet). These were the first neighborhoods to get Google Fiber (I’ve had it since Aug 2013). These are centrally located neighborhoods, very close or 10-15 minutes away from everything you’d want—the only places that are really inconvenient are the some of the farther-flung suburbs, not that I ever go there anyway. It’s also a great foodie city, and not just BBQ; I’m a vegetarian and there are some really awesome veggie and veggie-friendly places to eat, too. KC also has a lot of cultural events and arts and things like that; we love supporting the fine arts here, and we also love museums. And we do have great libraries, which I guess your girlfriend probably already knows! There are popular bars, restaurants, and shops within walking distance of my house. I could walk to my favorite grocery store, Cosentino’s Brookside, if I wanted (though I usually drive); Trader Joe’s is a 5 minute drive from my house. In the spring/summer/fall, there are two Farmers’ Markets within walking distance of my house. I walk my dog throughout the neighborhood, even at night. So does almost everyone else; dog-walking is big in my neighborhood.

      And I have several LGBT neighbors; some of them call this area a gayborhood. Let’s see, within a one-block radius of my house, there are 8 LGBT households (singles or couples) that I know of… there could be others that I just don’t know (I know most of my neighbors, though) or some that I forgot. Also some young families, lots of childless/childfree couples (straight and gay), and several singles and seniors. I feel very much like I belong in this community, and I love living among like-minded folks. (I used to live farther south and … living among people who believe repugnant things was very difficult for me, soul-crushing really, and I stayed out of Kansas to avoid that same stuff now.)

      I live just about on the line between Waldo and Brookside, technically North Waldo aka Tower Homes North. The nicest, most well-kept homes in Waldo are usually south of 75th, but that’s just a general guideline: There are some lovely homes in very safe neighborhoods past that line. There are some lovely (usually larger) homes around Tower Park, too. There are some really adorable bungalows between Gregory and 75th, west of Wornall. And it obviously depends on what you’re looking for. If you don’t care about having a yard and if you’re not all that much into the feel of a close-knit community, you might like living downtown/Crossroads in a loft or in the River Market; there are also Plaza-adjacent apartments/lofts/condos you might like. If you’re much cooler than me or an artistic type, then you might check out the areas around 39th St West (it’s a cool but rougher area in many ways; this neighborhood connects Westport to KCK and has a variety of shops, bars, restaurants not too far from residential areas). You might also like parts of West Plaza, much of which looks lovely (but I’m not as familiar with the feel of that neighborhood).

      Come visit. Look around. When you find an area you like, find a real estate or rental agent who specializes in the area you like and get them to help you find something there.

      What else do you want to know? How can I help?

        1. edj3*

          Yes we loved living there, had a house on Campbell just south of Armour. Ours was one of the “smaller” houses: built in 1905, three floors, two staircases and 3000 square feet!

      1. Christy*

        This is such a welcoming and thorough response! I’m sure I’ll have lots more questions for you but right now I’m just looking into the areas you mentioned. We would definitely be renting at first–want to settle into the city before we’d buy. I’ll be sure to see if my girlfriend has any questions for you once she’s awake.

        1. Andrea*

          Check out Volker, too, and Westport, which I thought I mentioned. (I wanted to buy in Westport but couldn’t find a big enough yard for my gardening addiction.)

        2. Andrea*

          I haven’t been commenting like I used to and am just getting back to it, but there used to be a KC librarian who posted here. Maybe she will weigh in; she might have some tips for your girlfriend, too.

      2. Christy's girlfriend*

        Someone mentioned diversity. How much actual interaction is there, among different groups? What do the people who live there think of the city government? If KC MO is part of four different counties how do those counties interact with the city? Does good Mexican food exist?

        1. Nashira*

          I live in Jeff City, but my father-in-law works as a trucker in KC. All the man eats during the week is Mexican food, unless his Colombian or El Salvadoran coworkers drag him out to one of their “tastes just like home” restaurants.

        2. edj3*

          GREAT Mexican food exists here! We have a large Hispanic population in the KC KS side of the city. My favorite Mexican restaurant is La Fonda, not a sign of Tex Mex in there. English is most definitely the second language and the food is amazing.

          There are a number of festivals around the city that celebrate different cultural heritages, although I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say we are a well integrated city. There was a lot of white flight south and west over the years, and the KC MO schools are mostly awful. You have to get out to Lee’s Summit and Independence to get better schools on the Missouri side.

          The city government is local to each city. Remember that we’ve got a bunch of towns stitched into the KC Metro area. On the Missouri side you’ve got Kansas City, Parkville, Raytown, Peculiar, Liberty, Belton, Lee’s Summit and Independence that I can recall off the top of my head. Then on the Kansas side, you’ve got Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, Prairie Village, Mission, Olathe, and Kansas City (the Kansas version). So you’ve got a bazillion city governments, I think nine counties and of course two states. That’s partly why we don’t have good metro-wide public transportation.

          Hope that helps!

            1. edj3*

              I was wondering where you were, other Elizabeth (I’m an Elizabeth also). No, I wouldn’t want to live in Springfield. Plus you’re close to that creepy Precious Moments place ::shudder::

  5. Come On Eileen*

    Did you watch the season finale of How To Get Away With Murder, and if so, thoughts? I’m conflicted in how they semi-wrapped up the story.

    What are you watching now and loving? I’m trying to get into Backstrom.

    1. Jen RO*

      Walking Dead, though the last two episodes have been kinda slow for me.

      Amazing Race – still entertaining despite the stupid dating twist. I felt bad for the first eliminated team and I was happy when the second one got eliminated.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I pegged the reveal about 15 minutes before it happened — though in retrospect they dropped a few hints throughout the series, I feel like they did make a point of ramping it up in the finale. And I’m really bummed about that ending, though it does answer my “how the hell are they going to carry on to season 2” question.

      Hubby is currently watching Outlander — it’s making me grumpy because I absolutely adore the books, but he’s really liking it.

      1. Lipton Tea For Me*

        The Outlander books were fantastic…she wrote that series from 1991 to the present. The Outlander series is great too and I cannot wait for it to come back on in April here in the USA.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m watching it now. Like, literally now. Multi-tasking!

      I started the new season of House of Cards yesterday. It’s…ok.

      We are big into Broad City and Empire right now. I LOVE EMPIRE. Cookie is the best character on TV right now, and Taraji P. Henson is unbelievably amazing.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I started HoC today. It’s straining credulity a bit more than in past seasons. But it’s rainy here (and this means possible flash flooding) and I strained my shoulder, so bring on Francis.

        1. Audiophile*

          I started HoC on Friday and made it about 15 minutes in before, my ISP and Netflix decided it wasn’t worth my time. I’ll get back into it at another point.

          I agree that it’s less credible this season. When it “accidentally” leaked two weeks ago and I came across a spoiler, I questioned it’s credibility at that point.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      The middle dragged on and on, but I admit the end did have me shrieking “Whaaaaaaaaaaat!” at the TV. I was wrong about whodunit, and kind of “oh, duh” at the reveal. I don’t know that I’m going to pick it up next season, the annoying things outweigh the high points.

    5. Mimmy*

      OMG, that season finale was IN. SANE. I thought it tied things up pretty well and had some crazy twists. But……there is definitely something weird between Annalise and Wes!

      Up next….House of Cards!

    6. reader*

      Watch How/Murder. I keep wondering what they plan to do next year. Do they do it all again with another class? What will happen to this group? I did get to the point I just wanted to slap all of them and get to over with. I’m sure that I wouldn’t want any of them for my lawyer.

    7. Trixie*

      Similar thoughts with The Mentalist. Everything about it I really enjoyed, and then they made Lisbon pregnant. Felt so thrown in there when she’s never talked about kids but usually the job she enjoyed so much. Maybe it wouldn’t have felt so clumsy if instead they had been looking at the house renovation plans, and she asked about an empty room for guests. Or whatever.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Waiting for Broadchurch and trying to avoid trailers. Watching The Walking Dead. I saw a headline in passing online “Will Daryl Die in Season 5?” and I was like, “THEY BETTER NOT!!!”

      I am an entire season behind in Agents of SHIELD. I think I may have to just give up. Stupid Netflix takes forever to get anything. :(

    9. Turanga Leela*

      I found the reveal about who killed Lila underwhelming. A friend suggested that because you only see one side of the phone call,* and it’s cryptic, the call might have actually been to someone else or about something else…? I think ultimately, though, it’s just kind of a boring twist.

      Loved the ending, though. That character has been so unsatisfying that I’m happy with this twist.

      *Yes, I’m being coy.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        * Oh, interesting…I never considered that the call might not have been to the killer directly, which means there’s only one logical way the “twist” could have happened which means…innnnteresting. I admit I like this theory.

    10. Stephanie*

      I’ve fallen behind on How To Get Away With Murder due to my work schedule. Would you guys say it’s worth catching up on all the episodes?

      I had to give up on Scandal this season. It just got too ridiculous. I’ve heard this happens with Shonda Rhimes shows, but it still hurt when it took up permanent residence in Crazy Town. I miss Season 2 Scandal.

      1. Audiophile*

        I haven’t watched any of Shonda Rhimes’ new shows. Long ago, I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy and in the few instances where I’ve caught a re-run on Lifetime, I stand by my decision.

        I tried to get into HTGAWM because, come on, it’s Viola Davis. But I couldn’t get into it. I may give it another shot.

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        Ooof, this is a toughie. Honestly, the only reason I kept up was because I like watching them before reading the recaps on Go Fug Yourself. Without those as motivation, I probably would have dropped off. (I almost gave up when the took that break, but I figured I’m in it this far, I might as well see how it ends.)

      3. Nina*

        I gave up on HtgAwM, too. I tried keeping up because I love Viola Davis, but they’re all such awful people and I really didn’t care what happened to them. And the writing is just too over the top for me.

    11. the gold digger*

      I watched season one of “Borgen,” which just reinforced my opinion that I want nothing to do with a life in politics.

      Then I started “The Bridge.” My library does not have the original series, but does have the US remake set in El Paso/Juarez. Excellent so far and making me miss Texas.

  6. Jen RO*

    Dryers are not a thing here (yet), but I just got one. Any advice for a newbie? What can I dry, what can’t I dry? I’ve only tried it on some sheets so far and I’m kinda afraid I’ll kill all my tshirts!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I put everything in the dryer. I even have a washable silk shirt that I tumble dry on low. If they’re tee shirts with print on them, get in the habit of turning them inside out when you take them off, or go through your laundry and turn them all inside out before you wash them.

    2. Sunflower*

      I must admit I am not a big laundry person but I never dry my bras or bathing suits in the dryer. Anything cotton is fine. There are items that you can dry but people prefer not to. Denim jeans are one of those items- dryers will shrink them a bit so they can be a hassle to get on afterwards but they won’t perm. shrink and you’ll be able to get them on.

      I’m much more cautious about what I dry over what I put in the washer. If I have clothes from Forever21 or H&M, I usually don’t put them in the dryer just because they are made cheaply and they tend to last longer if I don’t.

      Just to be safe, read the tags on everything except 100% cotton. Often times there are small amounts of other material in clothing that make it not dryer safe. If I’m ever not sure, I just opt to not dry it.

      1. Sunflower*

        Also you’d be surprised by the things that are dryer safe. Almost everything from The Limited and Loft aka all my work clothes are dryer safe!

      2. Jen RO*

        At least half my wardrobe (though it’s probably more around 75%) comes from H&M and the like. I’m gonna try out drying the very basic stuff first, the things I won’t be too sad to see gone… and then move my way up!

        1. Sunflower*

          Oddly enough most of H&M’s stuff says not to put it in the dryer, even the 100% cotton items.

          1. Jen RO*

            So I was not home today and my boyfriend dried everything – the H&M stuff survived!

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Don’t do bras or pantyhose/stockings, I find it ruins them really quickly. Almost everything else (unless the tag specifically says don’t tumble dry, like a few of my fancy dresses do) gets tossed in the dryer happily.

        1. TL -*

          I put everything in except wool and super expensive nice things that specifically say don’t tumble dry and most of my clothes last probably 7-10 years. (Except jeans but I’m really rough on jeans).

          I’m also super good about separating, using delicate cycles, and reading clothing labels, so I think that helps.

      1. TL -*

        I dry my bras and they last years and years! But – dry on low or delicate, in a good quality dryer, and make sure they’re hooked.

        1. Jen RO*

          Hooked? As in, at the back?

          (To be honest I don’t take care of my clothes a lot, if the dryer takes a year or two off their lives I don’t care! I just don’t want to take something out and see it’s three times smaller or destroyed.)

          1. TL -*

            Yeah, hooked on the back.

            (One should do this for the washer, too, honestly.)

            Oh, in that case, just don’t put wool in the dryer- wool shrinks but most other fabrics are pretty resilient – even silk can survive a few oopsies. If you’re worried, just put on a delicate low/no-heat cycle.

          2. Ann Furthermore*

            Yes, I always make sure mine are hooked before I put them in the washer, so they don’t get caught on anything else while they’re being tossed around. I started doing this years ago when I opened the washing machine at the laundromat once, which had this kind of metal mesh stuff on the inside, to find that the hooks on all my bras had attached to it, and they were all hanging down, like it was some kind of bra garden.

            Also, for anything with a drawstring (hoodie, sweat pants, etc) I gather and tie in a sort of half-bow….hard to explain, but like tying a knot, but making a loop with the end of the string instead of pulling it through. Anyway….doing that keeps the strings from getting caught on anything, or wrapped around something else.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I wash and dry my boss in a lingerie bag, on the delicate cycle. My dryer has a “air dry only — no heat” setting (lower than the delicate setting), and I use that for my bras and very delicate items.

            1. C Average*

              I would sometimes like to dry my boss in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle.

              True story: my mother once turned on the dryer with our cat in it. She’d left the dryer open to passive-aggressively remind teenage me to fold the laundry already. The cat thought it looked cozy and climbed in. My mom shut the dryer and turned it back on to fluff up the laundry. Thumping and yowling ensued. My mother crossed the room in one step to turn off the dryer–I’ve never seen ANYONE move so fast. The cat was fine.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I would sometimes like to dry my boss in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle.

                Ha. Me, too. I think the slip was Freudian.

          1. Swedish Tekanna*

            It is probably my UK English holding me back here, but what is a boss? I tried googling but no luck yet.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              a person in charge of a worker or organization.
              “I asked my boss for a promotion”
              synonyms: head, chief, director, president, principal, chief executive, chair, manager; More

              1. And then the Boo Keeper blushed at all the talk of (fill in the blank)*

                Thank you. I missed the joke but oh well. Pleased to report we have bosses in all shapes and sizes this side of the Atlantic too.

    4. Wolfey*

      My 2 cents: I tend to hang dry all thin or lacey things–chiffon tops, underwear, t-shirts with bling–because I think they last longer. I use the dryer for sheets, blankets, towels, t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, etc. DON’T put wool in the dryer. And if you have a stain that didn’t come out in the washer, putting it in the dryer will set it and make it harder to get out.

      1. Jen RO*

        T-shirts with bling – if the bling doesn’t fall off in the washer, does that mean they’ll be OK in the dryer too?

        1. Wolfey*

          I turn them inside out in the washer and generally don’t take chances in the dryer, but more for the elasticity reasons other people have mentioned. Dryer heat kills elasticity and most of my shirts have some stretch in them that I try to preserve with hang drying. But if the bling doesn’t fall off in the washer it could probably survive the dryer.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I turn blingy t-shirts inside out and put them in a lingerie bag. I hang them to dry, though. Not sure I couldn’t just dry them on low, but . . . habits.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have a dryer, so I am not saying this to be negative- but dryers set stains. You cannot get the stain out after you dry it in the dryer. So watch your clothes as you toss them in the dryer.
      Dryers can also kill elastic. It could just be me, but I think clothes wear out a bit faster if you dry them constantly.

      So what I do, is I put heavier things in the dryer- jeans, towels, blankets, comforter, etc. If I have the time, I do not dry them all the way. I just get them part way dry. I like my jeans and towels to go through the dryer, I don’t like stiff jeans/towels- ugh. I also use my dryer for emergencies, like when I get up in the morning and realize, “Gee, I don’t have anything to wear to work today.”
      I don’t use it a lot, but I would not want to be without it, either.

      1. TL -*

        I’ve gotten a few stains out after wash/dry cycles, actually. Some I can’t, some I can (and some I don’t care about). But it takes some doing with stain removers and hand washing to get them out.

          1. TL -*

            Just a stain remover spray – the one in a red bottle?

            But I’m exceptionally stubborn and will scrub at stains for 20+ minutes and go multiple rounds with them over a period of days. I think one time I handwashed a shirt 3-5 times over 3 days, with at least 10 minutes for each washing period. Mostly hardheadedness.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I know what you mean. I do a similar thing with the stubbornness.
              Red bottle. I instantly thought of that carpet cleaner. hahaha.

              1. TL -*

                Oh, yeah – I know the carpet cleaner! No, I just have a bad tendency to borrow my roommates’ stuff for stains – I mostly don’t have a problem with them, with the exception of bleach stains, which I can’t get out anyways.

                But they use something in a red spray bottle that works fairly well.

          2. Stephanie*

            WD-40 is good for getting food/grease stains out. I would try this on anything super delicate, though.

          3. dangitmegan*

            Felt Naptha gets almost everything out even things that have gone through the dryer. It’s the most amazing stuff…just wear gloves because it will dry your hands out. Pretty much every Wardrobe Sup I know swears by it.

    6. NZ*

      We found that clothes made in countries where people do not typically use dryers are more likely to shrink in the dryer, because the fabric is less likely to have been pre-shrunk. When we moved to NZ, we could dry our American Tshirts fine, but learned to buy larger NZ and Aussie shirts if we planned to put them in the dryer. We also took to tumbling clothes that were dried on the line for 10 minutes in the dryer to soften and remove a lot of the wrinkles. We also found that our NZ dryer did not get as hot as our American one did.

      1. Jen RO*

        Huh, ok, I wouldn’t have guessed. Most of my stuff is made in countries like Bangladesh and sold all over Europe… I hope they don’t shrink because I buy everything in my size, not larger.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

          Stuff from like H&M will usually withstand the dryer (except for wool and other shrinking fabrics, obviously). Drying will make them wear out faster, as mentioned upthread, but they shouldn’t shrink.

    7. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I don’t put my delicates in the dryer, and never anything that is silk, linen, or wool. Be careful with cotton — sometimes it’s not pre-shrunk, sometimes it’s okay, sometimes (with denim with a bit of stretch), drying is necessary to get jeans back to the original fit.

      Be very serious about cleaning the lint screen every time. I know someone with a lot of rental properties and they’ve had more than one tenant start a house fire that originated with the dryer.

    8. A Teacher*

      Don’t dry sweaters!!! I also hang dry all of my bras and most of my shirts. I “dry low” for most of my other clothes, but that’s just me!

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I dry t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans on medium heat with a dryer sheet and then take them out and hang them up. Makes them last longer.
      Make sure you clean your lint filter often and every month or two, take off the hose thing on the back and vacuum out all the lint in the hose and in the back of the dryer. You don’t want it to build up because fire.

      1. Jen RO*

        Um…what’s a dryer sheet? And my boyfriend was also telling me you can put *something* in there with your clothes to make them smell nice – something that’s not liquid like conditioner… any ideas what that might be?

        1. CoffeeLover*

          You can buy packets of dryer sheets (they look like napkins) where you get your detergent. Just throw one sheet in with your cloths. It removes static and makes the cloths smell nice (probably what your boyfriend was talking about… unless he was talking about fabric softener but that’s part of washing).

          Something I don’t think anyone has mentioned is black clothing. This is a mistake I make time and time again. Drying black cloths (especially on high heat) will FADE the cloths. As a result I find myself always having to replace my black essentials due to fading. :(

          A good general rule with dryers is be careful with natural fibers and don’t worry too much about synthetics. Natural fibers are the ones that will shrink, pill and pull. Especially wool.

          1. Nashira*

            And if one is allergic to fragrances, like I am, you can sometimes find these flexible balls (with soft spikes on them) by the fabric softeners too. They’re reusable, pretty gentle on the clothes, and help soften things quite well. They just sometimes get stuck in long sleeves.

          2. Natalie*

            You don’t want to use dryer sheets or fabric softener with towels, though. It makes them less absorbent.

          3. Jen RO*

            Ahhh, that makes sense! He was talking about “perfumed tissues” and that sounded wrong to me. I hope there *are* dryer sheets around here – I don’t know anyone else who has a dryer, so the market is probably pretty small.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              You can make your own dryer sheets by taking fabric softener and spilling a little on to a clean rag. Toss the rag in with your stuff to be dried. Some people feel it’s cheaper to do this, too. I do it occasionally and because I try to use natural cleaners it was easier/cheaper to use something I have on hand.

            2. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

              If not, check out Amazon, do they do free shipping to Romania if you spend over a certain amount? They used to do that for Belgium but sadly not anymore.

    10. super anon*

      if you like to buy clothes from fast fashion places (like forever 21, h&m, etc) don’t put them in the dryer – hang them to dry instead. i find cheap clothing lasts way longer when it doesn’t go in the dryer.

    11. Monodon monoceros*

      I grew up with a dryer and used to put everything in there, with really little thought to it. Now I live in Europe and don’t have a dryer and have found that my clothes are really holding up much longer. There are really only 2 things I miss the dryer for- towels (I’m getting used to crunchy towels, but I wish I could tumble them for a few minutes) and tumbling clothes to get dog/cat hair off! I bought a used condensing dryer here but it broke quickly and now I’m moving into a tiny place where I won’t have room for it anyway.

      1. Lizh*

        I very rarely use my dryer. Growing up, dryer was a clothes line, or in winter a wooden rack inside. My not using a dryer is more because of thrift. My electric bill is very low in non summer months when the ac isn’t running.
        I can count on one hand the number of times per year that I use my dryer.
        From about mid April to mid October, I put them outside to dry. My racks are on my lower level deck, tucked away from neighbor eyes and people who might report me to the HOA.

      2. Andrea*

        Have you tried putting vinegar in the rinse cycle, or running an extra wags or rinse with vinegar? I found it really helped my crunchy towels, but I suppose it could be detergent specific.

        1. Andrea*

          Heh. I meant extra wash cycle or rinse cycle. I think the vinegar changes the PH which makes the soap come out and the clothes softer.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          When I lived in Southern California, I line-dried pretty much everything, and vinegar in the final rinse definitely made my clothes less crunchy!

        3. Monodon monoceros*

          I will try that. I don’t use fabric softener with towels because I don’t think they are as absorbent but the vinegar is a good idea.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Please be careful doing this. There should be two filters on a dryer. One you should clean frequently. The other depending on how much you use the dryer should be cleaned a couple times a year.

          If these filters are not cleaned.. not trying to scare you… you could have a fire. It takes a lot to make it get that hot. But learn where the filters are and check them if you are going to use this to remove pet hair. Once you see where they are you’ll see it’s pretty easy to clean them. You just collect the lint/hair up with your fingertips.

          1. Jen RO*

            We did three or four loads yesterday and the lint filter was almost full :o And the clothes really did look a little less “furry”… win! I will make sure to clean it often!

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              yeah, I used to clean out the one filter after each load. The dryer is more efficient that way, too.

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          Yeah, definitely clean the filters often, but tumbling clothes in the dryer will remove a good amount hair.

    12. abby*

      Haven’t read all comments yet. I dry many things, but I avoid drying: 1) bras; 2) any clothing with UPF; 3) lycra-based stuff, like my bicycle gear; 4) anything I might have to iron afterwards- I am lazy; 4) clothes that might tighten up too much (this varies, I am a little pudgy now and some clothing is verging on being too tight- letting it air dry usually means a better fit).

      1. abby*

        A dryer is real handy when your washer breaks and won’t spin/drain the water out of the washer.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Beware, though, I did this once when my washer stopped spinning fully…I quickly burned out the dryer motor because the clothes were too darn wet. I learned the hard way that in that situation its better to hand wring them out and let them hang dry, then maybe finish them in the dryer after they’re as dry as they would be if the washer was working properly.

    13. Kyrielle*

      Check tags and see if they tell you – anything that says not to dry it, I wouldn’t put in the dryer. Anything that does, I’ll happily put in the dryer. It may take a bit of time off them, but enh, it’s convenient.

  7. Kay*

    Can we talk house-buying? What’s the one thing you wish you’d asked about the house you bought? What’s a deal-killer for you?

    We might be putting in an offer on Monday and even though I feel like I have every possible duck in a row I am terrified! So many zeroes on the dotted line!

    1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I wish I’d asked about modifications previous owners had made. Our house came with an in-built stereo/speakers in the wall of the kitchen, they’re great for bluetoothing Spotify through. Pulled out one of the speakers one day after moving in to see how big they are — and someone has hacked away at a load-bearing post with what seems to be a kitchen knife in order to ensure the speaker would fit in the right place O_o

      Deal-killer for me is BOTH an old bathroom and old kitchen. I can cope with one or the other, but at least one has to be modern.

    2. danr*

      Make your offer contingent on a good home inspection. You should really have one before putting in an offer. But be aware that they don’t find everything. When we sold our old house (the main part was pre-colonial) we had our own home inspection, a buyer who backed out had his own inspection, and the eventual buyers had their own. They were all different and you would have thought that three different houses were inspected. In the end there were a few items that needed to be fixed before the buyers moved in. We got estimates from local professionals that we dealt with for the repairs and after the sale put that money to the side in our attorney’s escrow account to be paid on presentation of a bill for the work. Everyone was happy. The sale went through, the work was performed at the buyer’s convenience and the buyers had local professionals to call on.

      1. blackcat*

        So I bought in a very “hot” market and waived inspection–I felt more comfortable because my agent was AWESOME and did serious snooping before hand.

        We did have a proper inspection after we closed. It was TREMENDOUSLY helpful–it was someone our agent recommended. He took 3 hours and showed us all of the quirks we needed to know or deal with. We got a 30+ page report, complete with pictures, detailing everything we went over. It was more than other options (all told, I think it was $600?), but so, so worth it, particularly as first time home buyers. If you’re in New England, it’s MKC Associates.

        A really good inspector is well worth the extra money.

      2. super anon*

        “Make your offer contingent on a good home inspection. You should really have one before putting in an offer.”

        i find it very interesting to hear how real estate works in other places! my boyfriend is a realtor and here you have to have an accepted offer first before you can do an inspection. after the inspection you can either remove subjects, update the subjects/price depending on what is found in the inspection, or withdraw the offer completely.

        1. Windchime*

          I think that might be what Danr was saying. I’ve bought three different homes (all in the US), and the way it has always worked for me is that I make the offer, but there is a contingency that I can withdraw my offer if the home inspection turns up a deal-breaker. The seller accepts (or counter-offers until we reach an agreed-upon price). Then comes the home inspection; if the inspector finds something, we either make a price adjustment, the owner agrees to fix it or I can back out of the deal.

    3. YWD*

      My first purchase was a garden style condo. I wish I had looked at it when the neighbors upstairs were at home because their floors were super creaky and I heard every step they took!

      My current house I have no regrets but there were a couple others that I put offers on that didn’t work out. I drive by them regularly and have noticed things I didn’t before and would not have liked about living in them:
      – traffic patterns on the street
      – lack of sunlight / too many trees on the lot
      – other houses in the area not well maintained

      Good luck!

    4. reader*

      Have you been by the house at varies times of the day, days of the week? Had a friend who only saw a house on the weekends. Didn’t really think about how much more difficult it was go to be to get in and out of the driveway on a work day. The road got a lot of traffic (and they only worked down the road). Also the noise level.

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      The state of the roof!

      Having had many repairs, leaks and mould issues due to a roof that has needed work several times and costing alot of money, I wish I’d known about it. All the owners (there’s 6 of us) have spent a heap of money on it in the past few years.

      I also agree with at least one of the bathroom and/or kitchen being modern.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      I wish I’d asked whether the basement leaked and how or whether it had been addressed. I also wish I’d dug more about how recently some of the updates (wiring, insulation) had been done.

      Also, I bought an older home from a couple who did a lot of work themselves. The upstairs shower had a small leak, and I was too naive to realize I could have contacted them via my realtor to have it fixed before shelling out $900 to fix a series of errors. I think the home came with a one-year warrenty, and I just didn’t understand how critical it was to use it.

    7. Soupspoon McGee*

      Go to the house at different times and days. Drive and walk the neighborhood. Explore routes to and from main roads. There’s a church and flea market down the road from us, and on busy days, parking flows into our neighborhood. I did not spot that until after I’d moved in.

      1. Windchime*

        Yep. I got burned on my first home purchase. The neighborhood seemed fine during the day, but it was teeming with drug-related traffic at night. I didn’t do my research. When I bought my second house in the same town, you’d better believe that I visited it several times during the night and on weekends to make sure that it was quiet. I literally drove down the street and parked in front of the house in the middle of the night to see what kind of stuff happened there at night.

        One thing I wish I had thought about more before I bought this house–what will be built behind it? My house was surrounded by empty fields and it was so quiet and pretty at first. And then the plat was sold and they built a bunch of gigantic, cheap McMansions behind me. So now my back yard is a fishbowl.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      I only did one inspection, and they didn’t do an awesome job. Next time, I’m doing at least two from different companies. I’d highly recommend that.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My parents-in-law hired my mother-in-law’s no- account brother to “inspect” the home that we later bought from them. He gave them two enthusiastic thumbs up and said there were no problems. Au contraire, mon frere! The place is a regular enigma of odd ( and not in a good way) construction. We should have had it reinspected by a real inspector.

    9. periwinkle*

      To reiterate what’s already been pointed out – visit the house (or at least drive by) at different times of the day. We just bought a house (moved in a week ago!) at the very end of the cul-de-sac. It didn’t sink in until after we started living there that the driveway access was narrow (our lot is basically a pie wedge) and the cul-de-sac didn’t have a streetlight. I leave for work by 6am and it’s challenging in the dark!

      And yes, hire a home inspector even if your lender doesn’t require it. Ours discovered that the water heater (newly installed after the previous owners moved out) wasn’t installed correctly. I made sure that our inspection contingency mandated that the seller bring in an electrician and do it right, and that they would have to purchase a replacement water heater if necessary. It was and they did.

    10. Barbara in Swampeast*

      For a home inspector, find one through these organizations.
      International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)

      American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI

      Go to the inspection so the inspector can point out things and explain them.

    11. Elsajeni*

      I bought my house in late spring, and I wish I’d given more thought to what it would be like in winter. We have a two-story living room that’s overlooked by the upstairs landing, and we noticed the temperature difference between living room and upstairs when we looked at the house, but we worried about it only in terms of “Is it always going to be hot upstairs?” Which it is, in summer — but the thermostat is upstairs, too, so turning it down when we’re up in the bedroom actually works to keep it cooler. No power on earth can make our living room warm in the winter — the warm air just comes out the vents, rises straight up onto the landing, heats up the thermostat and turns the damn heat back off without ever coming near the sofa.

    12. NacSacJack*

      Find out what house insurance will cost and when it is needed. Up front? At closing? Before closing? The stuff I found out after buying the house is stuff that the owner would not necessarily know or reveal, such as mice issue or the basement bathroom shower drain not hooked to the sewer system, but just pointed to the hidden floor drain.

    13. Gene*

      Is there a Home Owners Association?

      How active (nosy/intrusive/full of busybodies) is it?

      What are the dues?

  8. Sunflower*

    Anyone who cooks/uses coconut oil

    Just started cooking with it and am trying to use it more. What are your favorite dishes?

    Also I can NEVER get the jar lid open! Tried running it under hot water and nada. Banging the lid it with the handle of a butter knife kind of worked but so frustrating. Anyone have any good tips for how to keep this from continuily happening?? I’m using Spectrum unrefined organic.

    1. Madeye Moody*

      I use it to toast bread on a skillet, yummy!
      I had the same issue, and started storing mine in the cabinet right above the stove, I guess the heat from the stove keeps the oil on the rim from solidifying?

    2. Marzipan*

      If you’re having trouble opening a jar, wear rubber gloves when you open it. Gives you a much better grip.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I can’t help you with the jar thing, but I love coconut oil! We initially bought it because it’s good for doggies (1 tsp/day in his food helps his skin stay shiny and staves off the yeasty beasties), but I started cooking with it too. My current favorite is roasted sweet potatoes: melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in the microwave, toss it in a Ziploc with sweet potato chunks, salt and pepper, spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. SO GOOD.

      I also use it as my oil base for curries, both Thai and Indian.

      1. Revanche*

        Oh that’s a great idea, I’ve been thinking about how else to help the dog’s very dry and still fragile skin. Will have to pick some up. Where do you get yours?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          The supermarket! Just get regular coconut oil, but make sure it’s virgin and unrefined. It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way.

          My buddy also gets 2 pumps of salmon oil in his kibble every morning. (He’s 57 lbs.) It cuts down immensely on his shedding. Salmon jerky treats had the same benefit. He has a lovely shiny coat (he’s a mountain cur/hound mix, so short-haired).

    4. Revanche*

      I put a rubber band around the lid for grip. Even with my crappy hands that tends to work! The water under tap thing stopped working for me a while ago.

    5. Treena Kravm*

      I use it mostly in curries, and any Asian-inspired dish. I also switched to using it to pop my popcorn instead of canola/vegetable, and it’s delicious!

      I’ve also never had a problem opening the jar. It’s usually warm in my kitchen and mostly liquid.

    6. Stephanie*

      Popcorn! And I also have used it in a couple of vegan baking recipes.

      I also like it as a skin and hair moisturizer.

    7. blue_eyes*

      I like using it for granola, or in rice (it just gives the rice a slight coconut fragrance). My cousin uses it when making eggs and they are pretty good once you get used to the coconut flavor on eggs.

    8. oh anon*

      We have a gas stove, so we just turn a burner on & heat the edge of the lid for a few seconds while twirling it. The lid will come off easily then. I like to make pancakes using coconut oil, instead of butter or vegetable oil.

    9. AmyNYC*

      I just used some in banana nut muffins (in place of butter/canola) and also wiped some in the muffin tins. They turned out delicious!

    10. HAnon*

      I’ve been using it in place of other oil/butter to brown meats and vegetables on the stove. Works fine, doesn’t give off much of a coconut taste (to me). Do be forewarned that it does have a lower smoking point than some other cooking oils.

  9. The Strand*

    Ladies of Missalonghi is a great short novel by Colleen McCullough if you’re looking for something shorter than The Thorn Birds.

  10. Sunflower*

    Update on the dye stain on my shirt from the hair stylist. They didn’t call me back all of Monday which was annoying so I called Tuesday morning. She said take it to the dry cleaner and they’ll pay for it and we’ll go from there. So good news is it came out! I am obviously going to have them reimburse me for the dry cleaning but should I expect something else? I’d probably be okay if they wanted to give me a gift card or reimburse me for the service(it was only $25). But I’m really not sure if I’d want to go back there honestly…

    1. YWD*

      I didn’t read your original post about it so don’t have the whole story. I had that happen once and was reimbursed for the cleaning. Since then I usually wear an older shirt that I won’t miss if something happens to it.

      Many salons are closed Sunday and Monday so that could be a reason for the delay in getting back to you.

    2. Anonsie*

      I didn’t see the last post, but my (permanent) hair dye always washes out of fabrics for me just fine. I use white towels and it still comes out right regular detergent.

  11. Weasel007*

    I just fractured the top of my foot. Irony was that I was getting up to go get my previously purchased treadmill. This boot hurts.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ugh, I feel your pain. Almost literally– I broke four bones in my right foot last year and have had multiple stress fractures in both feet over the years. The boot sucks, but I highly recommend you pad very well around those plastic pieces– don’t let them cut into your skin. I developed bad abrasions which I treated with Neosporin and Aquaphor.

      In the realm of unsolicited advice… are you getting physical therapy? The best thing I did for my break was to see a PT– otherwise, it would never have healed properly.

      I wish you a speedy recovery!

    2. Windchime*

      Oh, ouch! I was in a boot for about 3 months last year. Things that I found helpful were to make sure that I didn’t have it adjusted too tight OR too loose. I also put a gel insole in the bottom of the boot because it was so hard. Finally, I would wear thick, comfy socks around my foot to add more cushioning.

      Good luck. It’s a pain in the butt to have to wear a boot. Hopefully you won’t have to be in it for too long.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        Yep, although hubby had to pull me out! It’s one of those old wicker armchairs, so now kitty has a new playground which she’s delighted by, and I’m sitting on the other armchair hoping it stays together ;)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Oh no!
      That happened to me with my old daybed. It was just old and had had enough. I have a futon for a couch now but I really don’t like it much. It’s too low to the ground.

    1. Josh S*

      And if you don’t know what Ingress is, you should start playing. Because it’s fun and awesome, and a great way to explore the world around you. Kind of a cross between capture the flag & geocaching, set in a video game that requires you to get off your couch and actually walk around in the real world (it uses your phone’s GPS to put you in your real location in the real world. Fun!)


    2. Ruth (UK)*

      I don’t play though I tried at one point before discovering my windows phone won’t let me. 2 of my friends play a lot and I am now glad I don’t.

      I think it depends on the player but in their case I don’t think it encourages them to walk around in the real world (as you mentioned in one of your follow up comments). We live in a historical city and it seems many portals are reachable from their house and mine. I think it instead encourages them to wander from room to room in my house, glued to their phone when visiting. It encourages them to be continually distracted from conversation when their portals are hacked.

      They don’t go anywhere different or new or change their walking route due to portals or looking for them, they simply keep their eye on their phone all the time because they’re looking out in case they can hack one.

      They got into a weird ingress-dual with their neighbour since a portal was in reach from both their houses so they’d just sit trying to hack the same portal all day.

      One friend’s phone started glitching and reckoned she was ages and ages from where she actually was. She ended up randomly hacking portals in whatever location her phone thought she was in.

      I guess it depends on how you play but in their case it’s just yet another thing sticking them to their phones.

      I can see how it can be enjoyable though, especially if you go about it in a way more similar to how people go about geocaching.

      1. Josh S*

        Yeah, I’ve been playing over 2 years, and there’s all kinds of types of players. I make a point of putting my phone down when with friends (unless they are also Ingress friends, around specifically to do Ingress stuff) or at work.

        Tell your friends that they can hack on the way to/from your place, but that when they’re inside they need to be off the app. Or else they have to recycle a Flip Card. (They’ll understand.) Problem Solved.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I think it’s like anything – it’s how you go about it.

          However, I can see the draw and it’s interesting that it’s a game that interacts with the world around you instead of being totally just… a phone game. You know what I mean.

          When my friends first discovered it, I was of course interested enough to try getting it on my phone too (but my phone wouldn’t support the app).

          It’s possibly better than being glued to solitaire at least! (honestly, I used to play a LOT of phone solitaire… oops)

      1. Jen RO*

        Ok, this looks fun, and I find it very amusing that one of the portals is the tiny post office nearby. (Yes I did join the Resistance, Josh.)

        1. Josh S*

          When the game first started, they seeded portals for public libraries, post offices, and a handful of well known landmarks from another service called Panoramio. Users can now submit portals as points of interest….there’s some definite creativity involved at times.

          Hope you enjoy the game!

          1. Jen RO*

            It looks fun! I’m at someone’s place and there is a thing across the street, but it’s trying to kill me.

    3. MJ*

      We have two portals at the library where I work. It is funny to watch people out the window, standing in the middle of this little circle of handprints in the concrete on our plaza. I keep expecting them to be beamed up or something.

      1. Josh S*

        I always wonder what Ingress players look like to people who don’t play, and if they know why people are walking around in circles staring at their phones.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          To be honest, most of the population these days walk around in circles staring at their phones so I don’t thin ingress would players stand out…

    4. Noah*

      Just downloaded the app and signed up. I joined the Enlightened because it looked like the smaller group in my area.

    5. Gene*

      Because of Ingress, in the last 8 months I’ve walked at least 600 km I wouldn’t have otherwise walked.

    1. danr*

      Use a frying pan with a little oil, and remove your smoke detector if one is close by. If you can’t remove it, set up a fan to blow the smoke away from it. Or, broil them in your oven. If you don’t have a broiler pan, use a roasting pan with a rack in it.

    2. Josh S*

      Preheat your oven to 325*F.

      Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat with a bit of oil/butter in it. Sear your steak in the cast iron til it’s browned on both sides, then put the whole thing into the oven to finish.

      Since you’re going to do a stir fry, I might even skip the oven. Just sear and then cut the steak into thin slices, cutting across the grain of the meat. Then take the (very rare) pieces of steak and stir fry them with your veggies and sauce. By that point you should be fully cooked through and safe to eat.


      1. Nashira*

        This is the One True Way to cook steaks. They come out really beautifully, with a little practice, and now I’m wishing it wasn’t finals week so I could make steak for dinner. Ah well!

    3. Algae*

      Bring to room temperature. Salt and pepper them and put some olive oil on them. Pan sear them on the stove, only about 30 seconds on both sides. Stick in an oven pre-heated to 500 degrees for two to three minutes, flip, give another two to three minutes.

  12. Audiophile*

    This is the last week of my comedy workshop class. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I’m hoping to do another open mic tomorrow. Our class show will be in two weeks, at the Comic Strip. Then I’m really on my own to try to get on stage as much as possible.

    I really need a better job, something straight 9-5. I’m tired of my current gig and my hours have been all over the place since I came back in August. We just had the new person quit, but they scheduled the person for overnight even though they were told this person was leaving. So now I’m stuck here, doing a double (probably a triple). I know that’s slight work related but…oh well.

    I’m excited to see where this takes me. I’ve gotten great feedback from my fellow classmates on my material and when I did my one open mic, I got laughs out of all my jokes. I’m headed in the right direction, I think.

    1. Stephanie*

      Oooh, that’s exciting! Friends have urged me to try standup for years. It’s definitely on my list of things to try. I did dip my toes into the comedy waters and did improv classes for about a year.

      1. Audiophile*

        You should. I’ve really enjoyed performing in front of my classmates. But I’m definitely itching to go do another open mic.
        Stephanie, you should definitely try it. Once I really started to think about my day-to-day life, I realized I have some decent material. I really wished I had forced myself to go up in the fall.

  13. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have had a cold for 10 days now. A bad one. I am constantly reminding myself that the common cold can last up to 14 days, and thankfully I feel a ton better than I did last weekend, but the stuffiness can go away now. This lingering cough is so awful. Several times this week, I dissolved into coughing fits that made me panic because they were so violent. They’ve mostly subsided, but this sucks.

    Any recommendations for this stage of the game? I’m going out tonight and planning to drink a Penicillin or two (bourbon, lemon, ginger), and really trying to get some rest, but does anyone have a magic home remedy for the tail end of a cold?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like vitamin D for coughs, from a natural source, not a synthetic D. For me it works better than cough syrup. Like you’re saying I was getting that scary coughing. I started using the D and I haven’t had that since. It’s been years. As you can guess, I have a bottle in the house just in case. May not work for everyone, though.

    2. danr*

      Mucinex for congestion and Mucinex DM for coughs. Just the regular strength pills and one pill every 12 hours or so work just fine for me.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oh definitely– I swear by Mucinex DM and have been taking it. I can’t imagine what the cough would be like without it!

          1. fposte*

            When I had the medieval cough last year and researched cough medication, research generally said nothing works much, but honey works a little, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to take than cough syrup.

            1. Nashira*

              My favorite is black tea with a bunch of honey and a sliver of fresh ginger or a pinch of dried. I add the ginger since, due to Reasons, coughing a lot tends to make me kinda nauseous and the ginger takes the edge off. Also, it’s delicious.

    3. Lore*

      I actually do find the bourbon helps at this stage! (And I too am prone to the scary coughing fits at the end.) Being really well hydrated helps with the coughing. Also hot tea but less hot than you’d normally drink tea–also with honey and lemon. Tiny sips when you feel the coughing fit begin. Stash used to make a particular Darjeeling green tea that was especially magical for this purpose but I haven’t seen it lately.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The funny thing is, I went with the bourbon at the beginning– I probably should have kept at it! The first two days of this, I drank bourbon, hot water, lemon juice, and grated ginger. It did nothing, but then, the virus won everything at that point.

        I’ll be sure to ask for extra bourbon in that penicillin tonight. :)

    4. Wolfey*

      If you have a sore throat I haven’t found anything more effective than boiling some fresh sage into tea. Doesn’t taste great, but it temporarily takes away pain better than other remedies I’ve tried. For coughs I dose up on Robitussin or Nyquil-I’d love to see what other people do.

    5. Weasel007*

      I recommend rock n rye whisky for this crud everyone has. You can find a recipe for a hot toddy that includes some honey, the whiskey, a half of a lemon squeezed and hot water. It chases out the cold, and lets you rest. The whisky is very very sweet already. I also found that throat coat tea helps and a humidifier right next to the bed. Best of luck recovering.

    6. Stephanie*

      Neti pot, hot tea, humidifier, and/or Mucinex to thin out the mucus. That will help with the cough.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I may have shared this here before but I swear this is magic:
      Boil some water. Slice some ginger and put it in the hot water and let it sit and steep for 10 minutes. Remove the ginger. To the water, add honey, lemon, and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Sip.

      I also became a Mucinex fan during a horrific cold last fall.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      A client of mine told me what they do in their family when they feel like they are starting to get sick. You need a good bottle of vodka that is not flavoured, like Stoli. She was very specific about that, the flavoured stuff doesn’t work. Put it in the freezer, it won’t freeze. Before you go to bed, pour a shot and down it in one go (or as close to it as you can, I can’t do it). I quickly brush my teeth before going to bed so I don’t have vodka mouth. I’ve done it a few times and it does seem to work. And yes, they are Russian, why do you ask?

    9. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests*

      My daughter and I argue over this whenever it comes up, but I’m a firm believer in Orange juice, and lots of it. Before, during, and after a cold. She’ll say “But yadda yadda yadda” and I’ll say “Show me your Nobel?”

      Also: this will be of limited usefulness, I know, but I’ve noticed that the cavity above one’s mouth (ie, above the soft palette) will tend to be swollen and will accumulate ‘stuff’ during the worst of a cold. Removing the ‘stuff’ seems to help the cold clear more quickly. Come to think of it, this may be what those Neti pot things are for?

    10. Turanga Leela*

      For stuffiness, take a long, hot shower. Turn off any vents in your bathroom—you want the steam to build up. When you get out of the shower, sit in the bathroom for as long as you can stand it. I’d have a bathrobe and a book waiting to make it more comfortable. If you hate long showers, you can get a similar effect by buying a face steamer.

      Also, drink lots of fluids, and try to wipe your nose rather than blowing it or sniffing. You’re trying to get mucus out of your face, and at least according to my family, blowing your nose pushes some of the mucus back up into your sinuses.

    11. Erin*

      My husband and I were just talking about this. We have an almost 6 year old, a 3 year old, and are about to have a newborn any day now. He loves 2 and a half to 4 the most so far, though he is looking forward to the sweet snuggly baby phase. I love newborns, but I find older babyhood challenging. Like you, I didn’t know what to do with a baby to entertain them. I found a book about activities to do with babies and toddlers that really helped!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Good, because I thought you were going to tell me that I should have a baby to help my cold, and I would have wondered how my mother found this site. :)

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thank you, everyone! I will put some of this in practice today. Maybe not the vodka… :) Last night, my favorite bartender at my favorite cocktail bar used me as her guinea pig for a few awesome citrus-and-ginger cocktails she’s working on, and damn if I didn’t feel better for a while. Still cough-y, but as there’s freezing rain outside, I have the available nap-time to drink hot liquids and try to feel better.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve got a terrible cold, too, and it has triggered an asthma attack. I think I’m going to run to the store for some Mucinex, Nyquil and ginger.

    13. Connie-Lynne*

      When I had a cough that wouldn’t go away for months, my doctor prescribed tessalon pearls. They’re like a wonder drug — my six-month cough went away after two days!

      Apparently they’re normally used to treat asthma but they can treat any kind of cough that is caused by the muscles spasming because they’ve forgotten how not to keep spasming.

    14. Nina*

      Co-sign on Mucinex, it’s pretty effective as long as you take it regularly. Also tea and plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and thins any mucus (ew, I know) in your chest. I had that same cold in January and even though the cold went away in a week, the coughing persisted for days. I was almost delirious from lack of sleep, so the doctor ended up prescribing an antibiotic (apparently the cough had infected my chest) and codeine cough syrup so I could sleep. You have my sympathies. I hope you feel better soon!

  14. Sandy*

    Are there certain ages/stages that you enjoy more or less in kids?

    I was a camp counsellor for years and a sailing instructor as well. I love the 8-12 age group. Old enough to be interesting and independent, not (usually) old enough to have crazy teenage hormones.

    We have a newborn at the moment (2.5 months) and I am completely stumped by her. Once she’s woken up and been fed and changed, I swear we just sort of stare at each other. Maybe babies just aren’t my ‘thing’.

    1. TL -*

      I completely dislike babies, even the ones I’m related to and love. They…rather bore me, unfortunately.

      But 2-5 yrs old – awesome! I love the toddler/hyperactive age. Not too fond of preteens in large groups, though individually they tend to be fine, and I get along great with high school kids.

    2. danr*

      Talk to her about what you’re doing and what you see. She’ll be talking back to you in no time, and then won’t be quiet. [grin].

      1. Artemesia*

        My grandchild is incredibly advanced verbally and I think it is because her mother talked to her from birth on and read to her from birth on. Kids really learn language early from the interaction with their primary caretaker.

        I loved babyhood and I loved the years between 7 and 12 when they still think you are the greatest and are also mildly sensible and self sufficient. For me the years from 2-5 were the most difficult.

      2. blue_eyes*

        Exactly! Tell her what you’re doing, talk about what you see around you, sing, read books, surround her with (age-appropriate) toys and other things to touch. It will feel silly at first, but have conversations with her. Treat what ever she is looking at, touching, sounds she’s making as her contribution to the conversation. “Yes, that is a yellow ducky. I see, it does make a squeaky noise when you chew on it.”

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My mom says that she used to read me and my sister the Wall St. Journal every day when we were babies, because she wanted to read it herself anyway and figured it would be good for us to hear the language. We both ended up as writer-y people, so who knows.

        1. Turanga Leela*

          I’ve heard that Chelsea Clinton reads the news to her baby, too. I love this idea.

    3. Lizzie*

      I’m not a baby person at all, and not much for kids under 5 in general. (I do partially chalk this up to lack of exposure though – I have very few friends with small kids where I live, and I don’t go back home to see my friends with offspring more than once every six months or so.) I’ve taught every grade from 1st-7th and like very different things about all of them, but I also think that I like that 8-12 year old group (so about 3rd-6th grade) best.

    4. MJ*

      I really enjoyed the 4-5 stage as well. They are gaining independence and becoming interesting conversationalists. They are very curious at this age and full of happy energy.

    5. Kimmy Gibbler*

      I have enjoyed my kids more and more as they’ve grown older. Babies are adorable but I so much more appreciate kids who can talk and share the amazing crazy thoughts in their heads. My boys now are 11 and 13, and I so deeply appreciate the independence they now have and to me this is such an amazing age as I can relate to them more as real verging on adult people with thoughts and opinions and awesome things to talk about. I had always wished for girls, but now that we’re headed into the teen years, I so, so appreciate the fact that I have boys. So many of my friends with girls at similar ages are filled with stories of mean girl drama.

      1. Windchime*

        I also had/have two boys (they are now adults). I loved the teenage years; it was so fun to see them develop into people with their own ideas and characteristics. I also loved having their friends at my house. I cooked lots of big pots of spaghetti and grilled a LOT of hamburgers during those years. I would buy 3-4 gallons of milk a week. Boys and their friends eat a LOT!

    6. Children's entertainer here*

      I am a children’s entertainer. My target market is kids age 3-8. My favorite age is kids that are 5-7. They are old enough to understand magic and tell me when I doing it wrong. (A big part of children’s entertainment is messing things up so the kids can correct you.) But they are also young enough that they like all of the silliness. That’s my favorite age.

      Also, they are very creative and uninhibited at that age. When I ask them to tell me a joke, they will make one up on the spot. The older kids never do that. The younger kids don’t care if it’s funny (or they are confident that it is funny), they are just proud of their joke.

    7. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests*

      I thoroughly loved my kids (girl and boy) ages 0 through 15 or so. Past that, they were sometimes “challenging”. They’re both in college now. I should be more thankful that they seem to be turning out well.

      (Don’t get me wrong: I still love ’em lots. It’s just that … it’s been a truism in my family for many, many years that I am smart, creative, and a HUGE pain in the ass. And surprise, my daughter and my son are like that, too. Only more so. And there’s two of them).

      One surprise for me was that I didn’t have any problem at all with diapers or vomit or any of the grottiness associated with childhood. With *my* kids. Other people’s kids – I can’t deal. But *my* kids poop sugar :)

    8. Ann Furthermore*

      I have enjoyed most of the stages with my daughter, while being amazingly frustrated by her at the same time.

    9. Jessica*

      Hoo boy, I hear you. I am a parent to a seven year old, the vast majority of that time as a single parent. I don’t think being single has that much bearing on this situation, except maybe that the extra stress I was going through at the time skewed my experience. I’ll never know.

      I’m not a baby person or even a kid person, really. It took me a long time to realize that was the case and that that’s OK, even as a parent. I adore my child and we have such a wonderful relationship; she is the most fascinating person in the world to me. However, I hate the idea that the mere act of becoming a parent makes everything about parenting “natural” when you’re really just thrown into it. I had a really hard time with the newborn stage, but when she started smiling and laughing, I couldn’t get enough. And then it was great for a while, then she went through a phase where it was rough again. It’s been like that for her whole life and far more of it has been awesome than has been bad.

      Like many people said, reading books aloud is a lifesaver. There will be plenty of time to read kid books when they are older. I used to read my daughter Stephen King. It was great. Darn her impressionable little mind now.

    10. Puffle*

      Definitely. I work with kids aged 4 to 15, and I struggle with children under 6 years old. I don’t know why! I just don’t find that I ‘mesh’ with them well, so to speak, and I get worn out after a little while around them. On the other hand, I get on great with the 8 to 11 year olds. They’re smart and funny and haven’t yet reached the awkwardness of teenagers (don’t get me wrong, I like teenagers an awful lot as well, but like the younger kids I find them a bit tiring to be around).

      No real advice on the baby front, sorry, but you’re not alone in preferring some stages!

    11. Anonsie*

      I love tweeny-aged kids. Like 8-14 is the best, I love grumpy little middle schoolers. People are always surprised when I say this because for some reason everyone hates grumpy tweens but I think they’re pretty cool, I don’t know why everyone hates it when they get to that age.

      1. Nancypie*

        Because when you’re their mother, they can be brutally mean. It’s painful when the little sweet child who thought you were the best starts to think you’re an idiot.

    12. C Average*

      Yeah, babies are basically just inert sacs of fluid who periodically erupt. They get more interesting and less volatile, thank heavens.

    13. Lulubell*

      As a fellow former camp counselor, I also love the, say, 10-12 age group. Like you said, old enough to be independent, but young enough to still be cutesy and huggy and think everything you do is the bees knees. I am a Big Sister to a girl who is 10, almost 11, and she is just that – old enough to do fun stuff with, but young enough that she hasn’t yet learned sarcasm, eye-rolling, and all the other stuff teenagers are associated with.

    14. Sunflower*

      i like the 8-12 group. Same reasons as you. I don’t care for infants much. Really anyone over age 5 I like. 5 seems to be the age where they start making things up and I can’t help but think the stuff is hilarious. My roommates are both elementary school teachers and the stories they come home with are so funny.

    15. Connie-Lynne*

      This is going to sound nuts, but I prefer teenagers! They’re old enough to have some really good conversations with and they’re just trying out the notion of having opinions different from Mom and Dad. They can usually entertain themselves for reasonable time periods, too, if you’re having to watch them.

      Plus, they’re so adorable when they think they’re being grownup.

    16. Kyrielle*

      I really thought I wouldn’t like the baby stage (no interaction), but it turns out that as soon as my oldest could smile when he saw me, or wave his hands, I was hooked. So far, my oldest is six, and I kinda prefer the 2-year-old phase to be honest (active, giggly, and -expected- to be off the wall … he still is, and it’s not as expected and we’re dealing with, but stress).

      I think I’m probably going to like 8-12 quite a lot when we get there, if I had to guess, but this weird in-between stage (and discovering that kindergarten is the new first grade) is not my ideal. (Don’t get me wrong. I love him, he is awesome, and his smiles and hugs light my world – but there’s more stress.)

    17. Clever Name*

      My son is now 8. Honestly, I think babies and little kids are a real snooze fest. Babies are just….there. I’m enjoying my son more and more as he gets older. We do argue every single day, but we can make each other laugh, and I catch glimpses of the young man he is growing into. I’m honestly looking forward to his teenage years.

    18. saro*

      The nicest thing my mom has ever told me is that you don’t have to like each stage. I personally loved the blob stage but am having a tougher time now that he is mobile but not verbal. He’s babbling away and trying to communicate, so I think we’ll be cool again soon. I love the 8 year olds!! They are so interesting and curious!

  15. Sunflower*

    So I have mentioned in the recent past about my dislike of my job and desire to travel and live a different place every couple months. I’ve been reading Nomadic Matt(thanks for the recommendation!) and just picked up his book ‘How to Travel the World on $50 USD per day’. I’ve come to the conclusion that traveling is really not as hard as people make it seem to be. Maybe it’s an American thing? For one, there’s a a large misconception here about hostels being dangerous which simply isn’t true.

    I’m all over the place though. Somedays I think ‘What the heck am I thinking traveling the world, this is nuts!’ and other days i think ‘what am I still doing here, why haven’t I left yet?!’ I can’t do anything until December when my lease ends. Regardless of what I do(whether travel or stay in the states) I’m not renewing it for another year because I definitely want to get out of the my city and don’t want to be held down by a lease. I’m 26 and the only thing I’m obligated to are my student loans. I’ve been applying for jobs left and right in other cities with nothing and feel like this is the time to do this. I go back and forth a lot but I know if I don’t do this, fir at least a couple months, I’m going to regret it.

    I’ve been looking into some different options.
    1. Find a remote job that will let me work from anywhere (thinking this will be tough)
    2. Cut most expenses, save a ton of money and pick up odd jobs to support me a bit when I’m moving around (leaning towards)
    3. Go through a program(maybe become an au pair) but I’m not sure how I’d feel about that. It would be great to have a ‘family’ while I’m away but living with them? ehh. I’ve heard a bit about a somewhat recent trend of au pairs living outside the household which I’d be okay with. Anyone know about this?

    Just looking for advice or ideas? Or anyone who has done something similar? Or words of encouragement? other travel blogs I can check out would also be great!

    1. TL -*

      My neighbor’s sister bartends, makes a ton of money, and then takes off to travel for a few months (lives frugally while she’s at her home base.)

      There’s a fair number of jobs that are flexible and pay well and if you’re more interesting in traveling than maintaining a day-to-day lifestyle of a certain level, might be worth looking into (but they’re not particularly career friendly, so there’s that.)

      Off the top of my head, bartending, bouncing, stripping, waitressing in a really nice place, construction, oil field work – all jobs where you can make a lot of cash really, really fast. (Construction and oil field are a bit more time based, but you can make really good money and chances are you’ll have no time to spend it.) They are generally very taxing jobs but they’re flexible and pay well.

      1. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests*

        bartending, bouncing, stripping, waitressing in a really nice place, construction, oil field work

        You forgot “dealing drugs” and “prostitution”. I have a relative who spent about a decade working as a waitress – and selling heroin and her youthful charms – in Lake Tahoe. Not a lifestyle I would recommend to anyone, but she’s in her early 70s now and has a number of interesting stories (she claims she knew William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac, and that she snuck into Cuba in the early ’60s and met Che and his wife Aleida – I have no idea if these things are true, but it was always a hoot when Aunt Patty came to Thanksgiving dinner).

        1. TL -*

          I tried to keep it on the legal side, though of course prostitution and dealing drugs also pay well. :)

          Like I said, there are some lifestyle/career sacrifices you make with these types of jobs. But the money tends to be good and they’re flexible enough that you can quit, travel, come back, and be almost guaranteed to find a job making similar money somewhere until you’re ready to travel again.

      2. Computer Guy Eli*

        You could almost audibly hear the screech when I scrolled back up to see this. I can get paid for bouncing?!

        I’m already a security officer, I’m trained. It’s never occured to me that bouncing pays well. Off to le goog!

        1. TL -*

          Oh, yeah, at least in the big cities. One of my close friends used to bounce and whenever he wanted extra money, he’d just work the door and accept bribes from people who didn’t want to wait in line.

          Mind you, he also had to work out a lot to keep a certain physique, had guns and knives pulled on him, was incredibly violent sometimes, and frankly, it took a huge toll on him. (He was hired as part of a group to clean up a really rough club and – well, they did it.) But the money was excellent and it gave him time to maintain a second job – if he wanted too, he could’ve worked over the summers and travelled in the winters.

    2. Wolfey*

      DO IT!!!!!

      I did this in 2013! Quit my job, picked up, and bounced around Australia on a backpacking visa for 7 months. A lot of countries have them until you turn 30. I Couchsurfed or did Help Exchange almost exclusively, so I didn’t pay for accommodation beyond a few nights in hostels (def not dangerous, but other people’s snoring drives me nuts!). Lots of people got service industry jobs there, which definitely paid more decently than the US. I also lived in India, where the cost of living is much lower in most places. No matter where I’ve been (Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, etc), I promise you’ll find a “family.” Travelers definitely look out for each other and locals are also usually really welcoming and I’ve made good friends through Couchsurfing hosts that put me in touch with other people. Through bad luck I’ve been in a few tricky spots, but on the whole traveling has made me so much more savvier, personally confident, knowledgeable, and optimistic about the state of humanity. It can only improve a person.

      The Professional Hobo and Legal Normads are also blogs I enjoy. I would also check out Help Exchange.

      Seriously, go for it! There is nothing more exhilarating than that feeling of freedom. I’d be happy to exchange info through Alison if you’d like to chat more.

      1. Wolfey*

        Also, your #2 option sounds like a good way to start. Opportunities like #1 crop up when you are already in a position to take them. I’d focus on paying down as much of your debt as possible before you leave. It will give you that much more leeway to do stuff while you’re off if you don’t have to worry so much about your payments.

      2. Sunflower*

        Hi I would definitely like to chat with you and exchange info through Alison!! I’m really interested in Greece which also happens to be pretty cheap. That would be my first stop and I’d want to stay there for a bit. Australia and Central America are also places I’d like to hang out for a while. Picking up service industry jobs is what I’d ideally like to do. Are most under the table type gigs?

        The thing that worries me is I’m a pretty on the fly person and I don’t make plans but I’ve always had a back up plan. The idea of being in a random city with no plan is very nerve wracking to me! Are you still traveling? Another fear I have is what happens when I come back. Will I be able to get back into work and living a regular, 9-5 life?

          1. Sunflower*

            how is the best way to do this? just post in discussions that I’m looking for wolfey?

        1. Treena Kravm*

          in Australia, those service jobs aren’t under the table, as long as you’re under 30. New Zealand is 35.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            Sorry, I should have been more clear. You’re eligible for a work visa in Australia until 30 and in nz until 35 years old. The economy there is so good you may even get a professional job, but can definitely get service jobs at the drop of a hat.

    3. Stephanie*

      Hmm, here’s my take on why Americans might travel less (I would definitely like to travel more abroad myself!):

      -Your standard white collar job doesn’t give a lot of paid vacation (at least relative to other Western countries). And plenty of jobs don’t offer any paid vacation.
      -The US is really big, so one can see deserts, mountains, oceans, plains, tropics, and tundra without leaving the country.
      -Tying into the first two, it can be tough to fly to places direct if you don’t live near a few of the really big international airports. I live in a big metro area, but the only direct flight to Europe from my home airport is to LHR, I believe.
      -Learning a second language isn’t really pushed, so I’m guessing that might be daunting to some once you get outside English speaking countries.

      Anyway, that’s my $0.02 as why there might be some view of international travel being difficult (but I think all of that is surmountable).

      1. Artemesia*

        Well international travel IS difficult and expensive for Americans. If I live in London, I can buzz over to Paris for the weekend for relatively little expense if I buy my Eurostar ticket early and on sale — from the US, it is a big expensive deal.

        Couple that with our ridiculously limited vacation allowances and it is no surprise Americans tend to be insular and provincial.

          1. fposte*

            But it’s also the culture, because it’s a lot farther for Australians and they seem to get everywhere.

      2. Artemesia*

        Exactly. And well international travel IS difficult and expensive for Americans. If I live in London, I can buzz over to Paris for the weekend for relatively little expense if I buy my Eurostar ticket early and on sale — from the US, it is a big expensive deal.

        Couple that with our ridiculously limited vacation allowances and it is no surprise Americans tend to be insular and provincial.

      3. Nashira*

        International travel is also difficult if you’ve got a couple of chronic illnesses, which many Americans do. If you need insulin, prescription pain medications (or just prescriptions!), or have something like my stupid ulcerative colitis, which can flare and require immediate treatment… traveling is awfully, awfully hard. Not insurmountably hard if you really want to do it, but hard.

    4. Treena Kravm*

      I think you could be actively pursuing both #1 and 2, at least until December. In an ideal world, would you rather be (A) traveling around (as in country-hopping) and working the odd jobs in order to supplement that, or do you want to (B) live in a brand-new place, and use that place and job you hold there to fund trips all over the surrounding areas? I can’t give you much advice on scenario A, because I’ve never done it and it’s too much risk for my comfort level. If B sounds good, then I can provide more info on it and tell you more about my current plans for my next stint abroad.

      In addition to other jobs suggested above, have you considered teaching English? If you are willing to live in Asia (think China or Korea), they pay REALLY well, and some places even pay for your airfare and provide a studio apartment on top of a generous salary. There are programs that arrange everything for you as well.

      In terms of au pairing, it’s just one of those things that can be amazing, but it’s really rare that you’re going to love your family. You’ll probably love the kids, but the parents will be a pain. I was a live-in nanny in the US for a while and it was a disaster. Ultimately, you’re with them *all the time* and they’re your boss. And your job is their children. Drama will happen. A lot of families expect you to provide cleaning services every second you’re not actively entertaining their “angels.” You’d have to screen really well and it’s tough to have choices when they’re providing your housing. I would strongly suggest figuring out any arrangements that don’t include housing.

      1. Sunflower*

        Ideally I’d like to live in a different place every couple months. I feel like I would enjoy doing A more but B appeals to me since it’s a much more secure option. I’d like to find a remote job and then move around every couple months. However, that seems easier said than done. Working a regular job is taxing enough and I feel like I’d get more out of experience by going with A. I’m not too keen on teaching English. I would do it to make some extra money on the side but don’t think I’d want to lock into a contract. The more I read up on au-pairing it seems like that would really be a last option. I think I’d only want to do it if I could work out not living with the family which kind of changes you from an au-pair to a nanny but I’ve seen it’s more and more common.

    5. soitgoes*

      My opinion of the “magical, free-spirited Traveling” that you’re talking about is that you can either travel or set up a home base, but not both. Only commit to traveling if you’re prepared to come home at 30 and be the only one of your friends who doesn’t have a resume-worthy career path and an adult lifestyle/living situation. It isn’t often said plainly, but extended travel is only possible if you aren’t yet responsible for your own living expenses. You’re either going back to mom and dad’s after each trip, or you have money from some other source.

      Judging by your username, I’m assuming you’re a woman. I’d be careful when following traveling guides written by young men. Women simply cannot safely hitchhike, sleep outdoors, or even be outside by themselves at night the way men can.

      1. Traveler*

        Only commit to traveling if you’re prepared to come home at 30 and be the only one of your friends who doesn’t have a resume-worthy career path and an adult lifestyle/living situation.

        This isn’t true universally speaking. I worked while I traveled, and my career is just as well off as my friends (in some cases better because I have a variety to speak from versus their one job for the last 7 years). I don’t know how you define adult lifestyle/living situation but I have everything my friends have that didn’t travel except for a house and kids, and that’s because I don’t want those things not because I couldn’t have them. Which is kind of the problem with this statements in general – not everyone wants the long term job/spouse/house/kids thing and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean they are not “an adult” it just means they’re living by a different script.

        “Women simply cannot safely hitchhike, sleep outdoors, or even be outside by themselves at night the way men can.”

        I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking or sleeping outdoors in general (unless you’re talking camping and I know plenty of women that do this without problems). You can be outside at night as a woman in plenty of places, and be safe. Its about being aware of your surroundings, knowing your limits, understanding the area you are in and the local culture. Some places are safer than others, but there are tons of women who travel solo. I’ve done it – and its actually pretty liberating.

        1. Sunflower*

          Part of what interests me so much about extensive travel is that so many of my friends are getting married, buying houses and it just doesn’t interest me. I think one day it will and that’s why I want to do this now but I have no desire to have anything by a certain age.

      2. Wolfey*

        I’m 26. I’ve never traveled extensively on anyone’s dime but my own, earned through careful saving and conservative financial choices. I also have had both a resume-worthy career AND am embarking on an even more resume-worthy career path, inspired partially by that travel. Perspective from traveling has helped me know what I want and what I don’t, probably more so than friends who fell into jobs and careers without getting the chance to re-assess. My friends’ careers are further along than mine–yes–but I was never going to stay in the career I fell into anyway and traveling has gifted me memories/experience/insight that my friends don’t have. Don’t let anyone make you feel like traveling is a childish or selfish choice.

        It is true that women have to be more careful when we travel. But it’s also important not to travel in fear! Start with the safest choices you can make until you feel more confident in your ability to scope out situations, then increase your risks if you feel like it. As long as you always have back-up options and have some thought-out ideas for getting yourself out of a situation that ever went south, I think you should explore however you want. Just keep in mind that if you’re uneasy, it’s better to listen to your gut and don’t worry about paying for whatever kind of transportation you need to leave.

      3. Treena Kravm*

        While this is very common, it’s definitely not a universal truth. Some people are able to work in professional positions abroad with visas, others work remotely for a company in the US, and others are professional travel bloggers. Either way, someone can easily save for a 3-12 month stint of travel–they do it all the time and it doesn’t require a total derailment of a career path.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          I have a couple friends who are welders/fabricators or heavy equipment operators and they get to travel a bunch by working on various large art installations and at festivals. Some of them don’t even have “permanent” homes, since they get enough work and housing that there’s rarely any need for downtime.

          Two other friends managed to make enough money doing IT consulting to travel during their off time — one even did consulting while he traveled, and eventually got offered a director-level permanent position at one of the places he’d consulted for.

          There’s all kinds of work you can do that will let you travel if you’re smart and talented, and not all of it requires you to put your career on hold!

    6. Clever Name*

      I have a friend who works in Antarctica for half the year and travels the other half of the year. Her photos are amazing.

    7. Puffle*

      A few years ago I spent 8 weeks travelling solo around Asia. I was 20 years old, I’d never gone on a trip alone, and as the plane descended over Cambodia I was absolutely terrified. It was fantastic, and I don’t regret any of it. When I told them about it afterwards, a lot of people thought that it sounded really dangerous and scary (20 years old, female, solo), but honestly I do think that the danger is overhyped. Sure, there were some sticky situations, and I had to keep my wits about me, but I think that if you do your research in advance (i.e. read up online about local customs, popular tourist scams, etc) beforehand you should be fine.

      I haven’t read Nomadic Matt, but in terms of money SE Asia is super cheap. As an example, in Laos I could get a private hotel room for $3 a night, pay about $2 a day for food, and transport was super cheap (though not particularly quick or straight-forward). If you don’t have a big budget, it might be worth looking up less expensive destinations and doing some research to see how far, say, $30 will get you in different countries.

      I’ve also done the third option that you’re considering. I currently live and work in Japan as an English teacher on the JET Programme, which is run by the Japanese government. My plane ticket was paid for by my employers. I rent my own apartment, I get a reasonably good salary and 25 days paid holiday a year, and so long as I take my trips during the school holidays my boss doesn’t care if I vanish for a week or two to go travelling. I’ve travelled all over Japan, and whilst I’ve been here I’ve also visited Thailand and S Korea. I know that there are also equivalent schemes in S Korea and China for English teachers. The basic requirements are usually a bachelor’s degree and a willingness to up sticks, and that’s about it. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worked out really well for me.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      “For one, there’s a a large misconception here about hostels being dangerous which simply isn’t true. ”

      I think that generally speaking, it is a misconception. I’ve stayed at hostels and never had a problem. But, I make sure to do research and pick one that has good ratings and good security but that doesn’t mean that other people haven’t had their packs stolen or had other issues. I’ve used http://www.hostelworld.com/ for all the ones I booked and I find that if it’s got a user review of over 80%, it should be OK. You want to review what each one offers and decide what features you need. You’ll need to pack a towel, flip flops for the shower and a good combination or padlock. A towel because some places will rent you one for an amount of money, others won’t. Same thing with locks. But the less of that you do, the more money you have to spend on stuff. There are also a lot of things in Europe that are cheap or free (or free on specific days) so you can really stretch a Euro if you’re careful.

      The first time I stayed in a hostel, I had asked for an all-female dorm but when I got there, they were full up, so I was put in a mixed dorm. The first night, I barely slept at all because I was afraid that someone would mess with me or try to steal my stuff (the guy at the desk had taken some degree of pity on me and let me have a bottom bunk which came with a locker underneath it, top ones didn’t have that). By the last night, I was over it. I got up that morning and stood up to find the guy who had introduced himself the previous night as being from Belgium was wearing nothing but shorts and all spread out over the bed and that’s when I went “They just don’t care. It doesn’t matter to them.” I think the social contract is different over there in regards to this kind of thing. It’s perfectly normal for 17 or 18 year olds to just bum around for a few months and no one cares. A couple of the guys on the next bunk over were 19 and from France (this was in Ireland). Over here, parents often go batshite insane at the idea that someone is going to backpack around Europe.

      Someone I knew bought a round-the-world airplane ticket and waitressed under the table in the various countries she went, she had a blast and never regretted it. I think that when you’re young and have no ties (mortgage, spouse, children, aging/sick parents), if you want to do it, then figure it out and go. It gets harder to just chuck it and go when you’re older.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It gets harder to just chuck it and go when you’re older.

        Yeah, that’s what I told someone when they suggested this to me. It would have been nice when I was twenty-something. Now it wouldn’t be possible unless I were moving to get married or something and had a definite place to go. I have stuff now.

        1. Sunflower*

          I definitely agree! At this point I’m not making much money, have no relationships, mortgages or anything. I’m already accustomed to living on not much and I know the farther along I get in my job and more money I make, the harder it will be to let that stuff go.

    9. Connie-Lynne*

      I have a couple friends who are welders/fabricators or heavy equipment operators and they get to travel a bunch by working on various large art installations and at festivals. Some of them don’t even have “permanent” homes, since they get enough work and housing that there’s rarely any need for downtime.

      Two other friends managed to make enough money doing IT consulting to travel during their off time — one even did consulting while he traveled, and eventually got offered a director-level permanent position at one of the places he’d consulted for.

      There’s all kinds of work you can do that will let you travel if you’re smart and talented, and not all of it requires you to put your career on hold!

    10. Ellie*

      I spent over a year backpacking by myself, and it was completely fantastic and highly recommended. I went with your option 2, and as I had a working holiday visa I worked in a call centre for a while, and actually managed a backpacker’s hostel as well so I have a very high opinion of them! I did stay in some places that weren’t that great, but I must have stayed in way over 50 different hostels (in mixed gender dorms in all of them) and never had any issues with theft. Whenever there was creepiness (I think only happened twice) I’d go tell the front desk and they either moved the creep or kicked them out.

      Also, whenever I wanted to stop for a while I’d look for a clean-for-accommodation deal at a hostel. It’d be a couple of hours cleaning / reception / whatever 5 days a week for free accommodation, and you could often get extra paid hours on top. There’d usually be a 2 / 4 week minimum stay, but you’d build a really nice little group of friends from the other hostel workers.

      I met a few guys who funded their travel by working on a building site or a mine for 3 months, then have enough money to travel the rest of the year. I have no idea if they would even give these jobs to women though, I only ever met men who had done this work.

      I found the gapyear.com forums useful, though they do tend to be geared towards a younger crowd. The Lonely Planet forums can be handy as well.

  16. Ruth (UK)*

    This could count as mildly work related in an indirect way, but I felt it’s more appropriate for the super open thread than the work open thread. I was talking to some kids (approx age 8) the other day who shared some extremely wise advice on how to handle and respond to criticism.

    (Also I swear sometimes kids of this age group are way smarter than most adults in a way)

    Criticism, according to children:

    Kid 1: If someone doesn’t like your story and you feel angry you should still be friendly to them
    Kid 2: And you should say ‘which bit don’t you like?’ because… because…
    Kid 1: Because then you can write a better story
    Kid 2: Yeah

    I just thought they had a great way of looking at it so simply and easily. :D

    1. nep*

      Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
      I was spending some time with my nephews one day and at one point I asked the then-eight-year-old: ‘Do you know how to get really great at doing something?’
      He said: ‘Keep doing the thing.’

  17. The Other Dawn*

    Well, the Summons was served on our tenants. Off to the courthouse Monday to file the papers and pay another 175.00 I don’t have. *sigh* At least I’m moving forward. Return date is March 6. That’s the date by which the tenant has to respond. If she doesn’t, then I have to go back to the courthouse and file a motion for default judgment. At least I don’t have to serve it; I can mail it.

    Gotta say, it’s aggravating as hell when my SIL texts me and says she saw the tenant walking back from the store with a cart full of stuff she bought. (SIL lives down the street and tenant doesn’t drive.) But I guess when you don’t pay your rent, you have money to burn.

        1. Artemesia*

          Would drive anyone nuts. For the next renters get a really big deposit — at least a couple of months.

  18. Revanche*

    Pardon the novel: it’s Rare Disease Day and there have been some very thoughtful tweets on the subject by @MortuaryReport and @snarkbat.

    I’m learning to talk about my own issues now after decades of hiding it personally and professionally for fear of showing weakness and being judged, so this is for any fellow Spoonies or people who wonder WTF chronic disease sufferers are going on about.

    I’ve lived with daily, unexplained, idiopathic severe pain for about 20 years now. I’ve been to dozens of doctors and homeopathic practitioners during this time, and there are no answers. It used to be like living with the fatigue and aches of the worst flu you’ve ever had, plus arthritis. Now it’s progressed to include weakness of joints and ligaments that don’t do their job anymore, along with random things like long term headaches, nausea, dizziness, chest pains, shortness of breath and so on. What this means is I’ve become a bit of a shut in. It’s not safe to drive if your hands or shoulders randomly lock up, if you can’t turn your head properly to look before you change lanes. Every moment of my life is governed by the disease: if I get dressed then I will be too wiped out to walk the dog, so maybe just pull on a sweatshirt over PJs instead or just risk the cold lest I overtax my hands, shoulders or back putting on the sweatshirt. If I pick up the baby now, I won’t be able to lift my arms in an hour but not picking hir up isn’t an option so plan to be laying down for 3 hours. If I cook a meal, then no laundry, vacuuming, dusting or anything else gets done that day. Every decision and every movement has to be weighed for proper priority down to the smallest thing.

    The kindnesses afforded to me during pregnancy: compassion and just being asked whether I’m able to take stairs or need to sit down nearly made me cry because I’ve never gotten that consistent sort of understanding or support for my essentially invisible diseases and that’s exactly what I needed.

    Instead of that simple much-needed support, many of us get a lot of armchair diagnostics from people who don’t know virus from bacteria, often complete strangers, or the well meaning family and friends who feel like they need to solve your unidentifiable problem with quick fixes. My family’s been both guilty of trying to push the most quack cures imaginable (“special ionized water” it’ll cure cancer! Never mind I don’t have cancer…) And dismissing it: “you’re OK right? Good, you’re fine.” It’s just easier to pretend that my “fine” (able to bite back the screaming from pain) is their “fine” (could run an obstacle course if so desired). I’m sure you can imagine that’s incredibly frustrating and isolating.

    And as bad as my issues are, I’m also aware that some friends have far greater challenges. I’m not playing a comparison game, it’s just such a sobering realization.

    I know most people don’t know what to say to us Spoonies (& I’m working on a blog post for this!), I get that it’s uncomfortable when it’s a bad situation but avoiding comments like “but you must love losing all the weight!” when someone’s been nauseated for months goes a long way.

    I hope that some of these off the top thoughts help should you ever encounter someone dealing with uncommon or “invisible” health problems. It’s still rare for me to offer that information but when I do, being treated not like a puzzle or specimen is hugely appreciated.

    1. nona*

      Wishing you the best. I also have a chronic illness (I don’t do the whole spoonie thing). It’s very hard to deal with, and sometimes the strangest things break through to you emotionally.

      1. Revanche*

        Thanks Nona, and all the best to you too! I did use Spoonie a bit liberally to encompass all of us with chronic things for ease of writing but you’re absolutely right not everyone identifies as such so please know I meant to include, not exclude.

    2. Turanga Leela*

      I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing—it’s so important to get voices like yours out there, especially since there are still people who think that any chronic, unexplained disease must be psychosomatic. :(

      1. Revanche*

        Thank you! It feels weird to share, still, but I hope that it helps shed light on the situation at least. On the subject of people thinking these unexplained problems are psychosomatic, I’m heartened to see that research is finally showing that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has biological causes, I know that’s definitely been a challenge for CFS sufferers to be treated like they have a legitimate issue.

      2. Nashira*

        As well as people who don’t understand that psychosomatic illness is, most importantly, illness. It KILLS me when medical personnel don’t get that, because the person is still suffering and still needs treatment. It’s just a different kind of treatment.

        …though you do sometimes get the converse where a doc is happy to treat you as though it were psychosomatic, when it turns out to have been two separate conditions the entire time: an actual nerve injury and an autoimmune condition. Not that, um, I’m pissy about losing most of my twenties to improper treatment, noooooo.

    3. LAMM*

      I had to Google “Spoonies” after reading your post. It was very eye opening. Thank you!

      1. Revanche*

        You’re welcome! Important to know, though, as nona noted above, not everyone who has a chronic illness identifies as a spoonie. It’s just one useful tool to describe the experiences of many.

  19. The Other Dawn*

    So, what can I do with a 5 lb bag of brown rice?

    I’m still working on my “eat through the kitchen” challenge. I’ve been to the grocery store a few times, but just for stuff like yogurt, milk, a few condiments, etc. I said I wasn’t going to buy any pantry items, like pasta and rice, but I suddenly realized I have lots of meat, but nothing to make side dishes with. So, I broke my challenge and I bought a 5 lb bag of brown rice because it was 2.99. The Rice-a-Roni I usually buy is 1.79 a box and I didn’t want to spend that on a couple boxes.

    I know I can season the rice with stuff from my pantry. Any suggestions? I would say I have most dried herbs and spices. I’d prefer not to have to buy fresh for now.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I make a huge pot of brown rice every Sunday and eat it through the week. I use it in salads for work, mostly. I find olive oil, lemon juice, and salt is enough. I also make fried rice for breakfast– butter, a little soy sauce, sriracha, and an egg. Kimchi if I have it, minus the sriracha and plus chili-garlic sauce.

      You can also do pilafs, just as you would with white rice, it just takes longer. Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil, add herbs like rosemary and thyme, maybe mushrooms if you have/want them. Add rice, stir to coat with oil, then add broth or water to cook everything.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          It’s so good. I am a bit hypoglycemic so I have to manage my carbs, fats, and proteins really carefully– I need all three to make it more than an hour without getting hungry. Rice is a great base. I do a ton of variations, including brown rice with olive oil, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, and an egg. There is always an egg. :)

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I made fried rice for supper last night and had the leftovers for breakfast this morning. I mixed four eggs with some soy sauce and cooked them until the were set (no stirring; I like a sheet of egg that I can cut into short strips, not a scrambled egg). I set the egg strips aside while I stir fried some shredded cabbage and sliced snow peas, then added the rice and some soy sauce. I stirred in the eggs and some green onions toward the end of cooking. Usually I drizzle on a little sesame oil at the end, but we were out. :-(

    2. Artemesia*

      We do brown rice with steamed vegetables on top and cheese grated over it every so often as a break from meat based dinners. The rice has a nice crunch and taste and with a variety of veggies and good grating cheese it is tasty.

      We like it mixed in egg and fried as a sort of pancake — which can be served with savory toppings or with butter and syrup like regular pancakes.

      It is good in a chicken rice soup.

    3. danr*

      Saute some onion with a little olive oil, then add rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Stir a bit then add the rice and cooking liquid. It makes a very nice side dish.

      1. Madeye Moody*

        Breakfast rice pudding!
        To cooked rice, add milk, cinnamon, a clove, raisins/dried cherries/apricots, dates , walnuts (or mixture of nuts), bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. It’s delicious.
        You can add some extra honey if needed.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          OMG I love rice pudding! Unfortunately I can’t stomach a lot of sugar anymore (gastric bypass) so I’ll have to go easy on the fruit. But thanks for this suggestion! I can’t wait to try it.

    4. Meg Murry*

      Toasting rice before you cook it really adds to the flavor. Cooking it with chicken or beef both (or even subbing out just had or a quarter of the water for broth) is great too. My family loves rice cooked in chicken broth with garlic powder and cilantro – tastes like the rice from Chipotle.

      As to toasting it, we love to make toasted raisin rice. I know you said you can’t have a lot of fruit, but even tossing in a few pieces of raisins adds an unexpected but delicious sweetness. Here’s the recipe:

      Raisin Rice: In a large skillet (nonstick recommended but not required), toast 1 cup raw rice over medium heat, stirring frequently, until most of the rice is brown. (Mottled appearance is desirable.)
      Stir in 1/2 cup raisins and 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (or broth, or broth water combo)
      Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

    5. Sunflower*

      hmm not sure if you have coconut oil but frying rice with it is delicious and doesn’t require much more seasoning besides a little soy sauce and salt/pepper.

      Also for some reason fried rice tends to fry better when it’s cold so cook and then put in the fridge to cool before you cook with it

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I love coconut oil! I’ve used to make cauliflower “rice” and it was great. It’s good for subbing some of the butter in chocolate chip cookies too. :)

    6. knitchic79*

      Add 1/4 cup of orange juice, if you can handle it post bypass. I’ll do that and some chili flakes to taste. It makes a nice lighty seasoned rice for a stir-fry.

  20. Ali*

    I wish I didn’t have to keep posting bad news here, but my mom just called (she’s out of town this weekend) and told me that they brought hospice care in for my 92-year-old grandmother, who’s been going downhill and generally not been well for the last few years. My grandmother has had bronchitis for a couple of days and is now said to be in early stage congestive heart failure.

    I don’t think anyone in the family is particularly shocked, and my mom did her grieving and acceptance already and knows that this is coming. And even though I knew for three years that my grandmother could be gone at any day, I never can quite deal with sick family members or grieving. I always get anxious and freak out over having to visit anybody in the hospital when they’re not doing well/on various machines (I went through this when my grandmother was hospitalized 2-3 years ago, as well as my grandfather back when I was a teenager), and my mom offered to let me go to the nursing home to see my grandmother once she’s back in town so I didn’t have to do it alone.

    I also know that this is so not about me, but I keep thinking ahead to logistics I’m going to have to deal with in my own life when something happens. I’ve read that grief can do some odd things to people, but I feel kind of weird wondering about canceling my trip for next weekend and dealing with the refund if I have to. I’m also feeling a little phobic about going to a viewing and that kind of thing. And I also wonder how my mom can just stay out of town and not rush home. (She says my aunts/her sisters are over at my grandmother’s nursing home.)

    Sorry this is ugly. I honestly have very little experience with death and grief. I know I’m fortunate, but that it’s only going to become pretty much routine as my other set of grandparents gets older, aunts and uncles age and so forth. I really don’t think of myself as self-centered or anything, but I know I’m acting like it.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Nope, you sound completely normal to me. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s scary to have to see people hooked up to all sort so tubes and machines, knowing there’s nothing you can do about it. And thinking about logistics is normal, too. Better to think ahead about this stuff than to not plan ahead and have a total meltdown when it does happen.

    2. danr*

      It isn’t ugly… Be sure to go see her as much as you can, and listen to the stories. My mother in law was in hospice care for a day, and an aunt for over a month. There’s no way to tell. As for the viewing, go up to the casket with someone, or don’t go up to it and just talk to the folks who come. A funeral is for the living and to hear all of the family stories. Don’t worry if you find yourself laughing and joking about stories. It’s normal.

    3. JMW*

      There’s nothing ugly here. It is all very natural processing of a a part of the life cycle that is new to you. Part of life is learning how to face and even embrace illness and death, to help make a fellow human’s transition from this life a little easier.

      When you visit your grandmother, try to focus on her current experience of life. Tell her the things about her that you are proudest or fondest of – let her know her life had meaning for you. Also focus on her comfort – hold her hand, warm her feet, get her a sip of water.

      I would encourage you not to wait till your mother gets home to visit your grandmother. Once hospice comes in,it could be just a few days. When your grandmother stops eating, she will probably have about three days left.

      Big hug for you!

    4. Amber Rose*

      When my mom died, I was unemployed. She was my best friend and the biggest influence in my life… but I had to fly to the other side of Canada to be with my dad and help out and I spent those first days worried about the impact on my job hunt and when or how I would get home. I spent hours mapping routes when we decided to drive back.

      Sounds heartless right? But the severe illness and/or death of a loved one is the ultimate form of helplessness. In the wake of being informed that something awful will happen and we can do nothing about it, we look for what we can control. This is normal. YOU are normal. It’s OK to be flustered. It’s OK to be self centered. It’s OK. You’ll be OK.

      Take care of yourself.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I totally get this. When I did not know, had not read up on grief it was incredibly awkward for me. Even now, after reading and having life experiences it still can be kind of awkward for me.
      I guess what I am saying is that there is always some level of awkwardness no matter what your back ground or stage in life.

      And YES! I felt conspicuous and very self-conscious around grieving people because I did not know what to do and my own emotions were all over the map. There is something so hard about seeing people upset and knowing you cannot do a darn thing to fix it. And in thinking all these thoughts it feels like “I am thinking all about ME.”
      Well, there is a learning curve and yeah, we do have to figure out where we are on that curve and how to maybe to inch ourselves through it a little. This means we have to think about ourselves.

      My theory is that death is supposed to make us stop and think. Think about a lot of things.

      A few general things:
      Crying is okay. Crying causes chemicals to be released in the brain that keeps the brain healthy. Crying is fine.

      Everyone grieves in their own way. Some people stop eating- they literally cannot eat. Other people chow down like crazy. Some people get mad at each other. That’s sad because anger is a grief dressed up in a costume. And if we are angry we don’t have to be grieving- or so some people think. Some people cling to each other and hold on. Sometimes people sleep too much or maybe they go the opposite way and they sleep too little. Some people have irregular heart beats- that is grief. Some people have to take control over the whole funeral and some people need someone to help them every inch of the way.

      Another angle is that there are all kinds of deaths and we can grief differently for each type. I have been to funerals where I did not shed a tear. It does not mean I am cold-hearted. It just means that this particular death hit me in a different manner than, say, a funeral where I cried a lot.

      Okay, I don’t want a wall of writing here. Come back and ask more questions… I will try to help and I am sure others will, too.

    6. Jen RO*

      This might be unpopular, but I didn’t see any of my grandparents in the hospital before they died and I have never regretted it. This way I can remember as they were at their best.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, it is a little selfish of me, bit I am happy my last (visual) memories of my grandmother are from a month or two before she died, as opposed to my husband’s grandmother where we were by her side for almost 2 weeks in the hospital watching her decline. I spoke to my grandma on the phone several times before she died, but my last memory of seeing her was when she was still well enough to hug me and know I was there and exchange I love you’s.
        Can you ask your aunts to call you when your grandma is awake, if she still has periods of lucidity, so you can talk to her? It might feel better to be able to know she heard you say you loved her.

        1. Ali*

          I appreciate all the insights here. My mom is coming home from her trip today, and as of right now, there’s been no further news. I am following the mantra of “no news…” for right now and hoping for whatever’s best. I was able to relax last night and enjoy the rest of the night with lighthearted TV and movies, especially since I noticed both my mom and sister still doing things and enjoying themselves. There’s really no use sitting around and keeping vigil when it’s out of our control, which is what my mom has really emphasized with me. No, she’s not saying don’t visit, but to just keep going on and living life. So I’ll do what I can to keep my normal routine and find distractions until something happens.

    7. Sunflower*

      Don’t feel guilty about having other things on your mind. It’s life and it’s normal. Honestly, when someone I know dies or there is a viewing I know I’ll have to attend, one of the first things I think to is the preferred date of it. It’s just natural thing. You said your mom has already grieved and accepted what’s happening and that’s probably why she is a acting a little more casually about this. You’ve known for 3 years your grandmother could be gone any day so your mom is probably just trying to keep her life as normal as possible.

    8. Clever Name*

      Everyone deals with grief in their own way. You don’t have to look at the body at all. Many prefer not to. The body is just a shell, and seeing it after death can be unsettling. Others find comfort in seeing a loved one one last time. There are no right answers.

  21. Mimmy*

    Continuing with the saga that is my online class!

    Wrapping up the first major paper this weekend. Final project proposal will be next.

    Unfortunately, our professor has been a bit MIA. She hasn’t graded anything in a couple of weeks and didn’t even put up a discussion board this week. The only thing I can think of was to allow us time to do our paper and start on our project proposals. A classmate from last semester had her in the fall, and she was same way then.

    So the question for the hive: Is this what most online courses are like? I might’ve said last week that this class has felt more like moderated discussions of assigned readings, as opposed to really learning anything new. Well, I guess you’re still learning, but it’s more about learning different perspectives on different topics rather than gaining concrete knowledge or skills. My class during the fall was a bit like this as well. That class was more close-knit than this one, though, so that helped.

    I have to say, though, I do miss the face-to-face classes I had in my Masters program. I think I learned more with those, tbh, because of the synchronous nature of F2F classes–the instructor is right there in real time clarifying, teaching, and facilitating great discussions. Online learning is a great tool as it offers access to more programs since you can take them from anywhere, anytime. But nothing beats the real classroom–it is the shared experience I like.

    1. The IT Manager*

      moderated discussions of assigned readings, as opposed to really learning anything new

      This is what my online masters was like except I’d call it a barely moderated discussion. I needed a masters as quickly as possible for a promotion at work so I kept at it, but overall my masters experience was very disappointing and it makes me very leery of all online masters programs.

    2. blueiphone*

      I’m in an all-online class too this semester (my first online class; 7 of 9 classes needed for my program) and my professor is a bit like this too. We’re up to assignment 5 now and I don’t think we’ve gotten grades back for anything beyond like assignment 2. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt because she probably has several classes, she was having Internet problems for a few weeks, etc. So I’m telling myself to just chill out for a little longer.

      The online class is a bit odd, because it’s a new experience for me. I like not having to drive to campus in rush hour traffic after a long day at work, and then drive home at like, 9:30 PM at night–especially this winter. But I feel like I actually kind of miss the whole “random socializing” you get from sitting in the classroom a few minutes before class with everyone else, or walking with someone else to your car, etc.
      But on the other hand: no driving in snow and ice :-)

      Good luck with your class, Mimmy!

      1. Mimmy*

        Ah good point about not having to deal with the winter weather!! Especially this year :/

    3. AnotherFed*

      I did a synchronous online masters program, but it had a lot of discussions board assignments based on assigned reading – it was just too hard to try to have 30 people in 20 locations have a conversation at the same time, even if we were all in a synchronous class. It was still better than totally asynchronous, because you could ask the professor questions during the lecture and the good professors would tailor their examples based on knowing what students did for their full time jobs.

      Concrete knowledge and skills can be really rough in a distance learning environment. I had to take a couple of stats classes and modeling and simulation classes – it is so, so hard to learn math when the only time you can have the professor walk you through how to do a problem is the 3 hrs/week of class time. The professors ended up essentially doubling the amount of class time by setting up ‘study hall’ sessions and going through questions and examples. It was really helpful, but it also meant double the class time for both the students and the professors!

  22. Sandrine (Huet)*

    I’m posting this here because I got the call this morning.

    I got the call that I reached the 2nd interview stage for a job! 1st was on Thursday, next one is on Monday.

    Another reason why I’m posting this here… easier access to nice sugary goods if I get the job as I’ll be a salesperson for a cookies/candy company.

    *jumps up and down*

      1. Sandrine (Huet)*

        I think that if some people had seen my first interview they’d be shaking their heads. It kinda looked like I was trying to audition for Comedy Central.

        Or maybe that’s my delusional self thinking I’m a good comedian :P

    1. Jen RO*

      Good luck!

      And I’ll be in Paris in a few weeks, what do I need to see that’s not super-touristy? I’ve done all the touristy stuff already (except the Catacombs where I hear you have too wait in line for 2 hours and I’m not doing that). I’ll be staying close to L’Etoile.

      1. Sherm*

        When I went to the Catacombs the line wasn’t nearly that long. It was a Tuesday in the late morning. And it was definitely worth going to!

        1. Jen RO*

          I’m traveling for work, so the only time I will have for sightseeing is on the Sunday when I arrive… But I did manage to get an early flight, which means I have more than half a day to explore!

            1. Jen RO*

              No to both, but I’m not a big museum fan… I saw the Louvre and I was pretty unimpressed.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhausen*

        The catacombs are cool! In the high season the wait is def long but I feel like in March it’ll be managable. Try to get in line before it opens.

  23. Shell*

    I’ve been driving for the last 2.5 weeks or so but now I’m loaning my car to the aunt I bought it from as she comes back into town (so she can deal with some errands and things, and then we’ll sign the exchange papers/money and the car will be in my name, under my insurance, et cetera; there will be no more loans in the future when she comes back to town again).

    I gotta say, the idea of not having the car and be back home in fifteen minutes after work is kind of disconcerting. Also disconcerting is how much my back and hips hurt now that I’m not walking around every day.

    I’m trying to work up the effort to go to the mall (need to buy stuff), which is a fifteen minute drive and a forty-five minute walk. I’d planned on walking anyway (I’ve done it before, not bad, and the weather’s nice) to get some much needed exercise in, but that was two hours ago and I’m still in PJs.

    I’m getting spoiled, truly.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you go when the mall first opens, there will probably be less traffic and you’ll find a spot close to the doors.
      I’ve studied this stuff! ;)

      1. LAMM*

        Mondays – Wednesdays around 8pm are also quite quiet in most malls. Plus then you have a time limit and cannot afford to wander around too much. When I need to get in and out without breaking my budget, I’ll often arrive at the mall around 8:30. Can’t do too much damage in the 30 minutes before malls close… right? That’s what I keep telling myself at least.

        Although this would mean walking to/from the mall in the dark.

    2. CoffeeLover*

      Living a no-car lifestyle is something I’m trying to make a big priority in my life. I haven’t had regular access to a car yet, which makes it easier since I haven’t had a chance to get used to it yet. I think having exercise throughout your day, as your forced to when you have to walk/bike everywhere, is healthier than spending 30min on a treadmill every so often. Long term I’m planning to move to Europe (from Canada), which will hopefully make my goal quite a bit easier.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    There is a Jewish holiday coming up, peoples, therefore there is BAKING to be done! Purim is on Wednesday– for those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s essentially the holiday where we commemorate the heroism of Queen Esther and how she saved all the Jews in Persia from this dude named Haman. We celebrate the holiday by reading from the Book of Esther, making a lot of noise, dressing up, and eating hamantaschen. These are little triangle-shaped cookies filled with fruit or nuts or poppy seeds and are meant to represent Haman’s ears. Or hat. Depends on who you ask.

    Anyway, I just made some poppy seed filling in preparation for baking tomorrow– the weather is supposed to be gross here, so it’s a perfect day to make some treats. I’m also using a fig-and-orange spread someone gave us and some apricot/peach/passionfruit conserves I just bought. When I was a kid, we made them with peanut butter and Hershey’s Kisses. What are your favorite fillings?

    1. Anon Accountant*

      Apricot is my favorite filling in anything. Lemon is another favorite of mine in any dessert.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        Apricot hamentaschen are the best! After that, raspberry. I’ve never had chocolate or Nutella, though, and I’m intrigued.

    2. blue_eyes*

      My husband’s great aunt always sends us the poppy seed kind in the mail and they are …not my favorite. We’re having a Purim party next Saturday and I’ll be making various flavors of fruit hmantaschen. A few years ago I tried making some with goat cheese and fig jam, and they were quite a hit, so those will probably be repeated.

      You forgot the most important part of Purim – getting drunk! (Just kidding).

    3. Kimmy Gibbler*

      We’re doing nutella hamantashen this year! (I’ve never been able to stomach the poppyseed ones)

    4. fposte*

      I’ve only had poppyseed or apricot–this subthread is an eyeopener!

      (Not a big fan of poppyseed stuff, in general–like eating sand.)

    5. Felicia*

      for hamantaschen, my favourite filling is prunes…stuff like chocolate or cherry or whatever i have never liked as much as the classics (i always considered the classics prune and poppy seed). Also i’m making some with my mom tomorrow.

      1. Grand Canyon Jen*

        Prune is my favorite, too, but it seems to have fallen out of fashion – hard to find at the kosher bakery.

    6. C Average*

      Slate had an amazing hamantaschen recipe a few years back. It’s complicated and takes forever (yeah, I’m selling it really hard here), but it is SO GOOD. I’ll post the link in a separate post.

      I had hamantaschen for the first time many years ago when I’d just finished running a long-distance relay with a bunch of friends. It had been a hard race in brutally hot weather. We got back to the house of one of my teammates (which we were using as sort of a home base) and his wife offered us iced tea and hamantaschen. So delicious. It’s one of those memories I can still taste.

  25. Carrie in Scotland*

    Thanks to everyone last week who suggested staging ideas for my clothes rail when selling my flat, they were far better than my original idea so I will be using some of yours when the time comes.

    1. ThursdaysGeek*

      I like it. But now I need to read The Magician’s Nephew again, because it has been too many years. It would make more sense if that book were more recent in my memory.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          The Last Battle is my favorite, although The Magician’s Nephew is number 2 or 3 for me. Time to read the series again!

  26. Anon Accountant*

    So I’ve taken the plunge and contacted 2 colleges to see about obtaining a computer science degree. Been tossing the idea around for years and will see how things work out.

    On another note next Friday I have a facial scheduled. We have a neighbor who does this out of her house and it’s $40 for 90 minutes. Completely licensed and legitimate. Last facial I paid $80 for a 45 minute one that wasn’t that great. All over Facebook her clients are posting how great so I can’t wait.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I love finding a good “at-home” service. I have a fantastic waxing lady and she charges about half of what others charge. Plus she has a very professional, private and soothing set up.

      Congratulations on the first steps to a degree!

  27. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    AAM Community Bloggers!

    In one of the threads this week (I can’t remember which one sorry, maybe Alison’s AMA?) we’d talked about all sharing our blogs here. I’d love to read what the AAM community has to say about all sorts of topics, so should we all advertise ourselves on this thread?

    I write at Project Sprog, talking about the conception and (hopefully!) pregnancy/parenting journey when your fertility is dodgy. http://www.projectsprog.com/

    What do the rest of y’all blog about?

      1. Felicia*

        I read other blogs that review and occasional trash YA fiction from the 80s and 90s, but only the contemporary stuff (at least, would have been contemporary in the 80s and 90s. Like Babysitter’s Club), so this is right up my alley and going on my to-read list

      1. Lipton Tea For Me*

        Kewl, am adding your blog to the other ones I read. Had gastric bypass in Aug 2012 and would love to swap stories and/or recipes, as the surgery sure changed things!

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Sure did! Congrats on your life change. I’m definitely not militant about my new eating habits, but I do tend to avoid pasta (wasn’t really my thing before anyway), I eat a very small amount of rice, and I don’t eat much bread. Maybe a 1/4 piece of toast with breakfast at the diner, or I’ll eat some of the bun if I get a burger. That’s not very often though. Crackers though? I have to be careful; I can go to town on those. I no longer drink soda at all, although once in a great great while I’ll take a tiny sip from my husband’s soda if we go out. Just enough to get the taste.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Mine is called Graphomaniac. It’s linked to my name and is my writing/main blog. I have another called Clerical Chick where I put the spillover work posts that didn’t fit on the main blog. I rarely post on it, but strangely, it got a huge number of views last year. Weird.

      If you want to see my UK trip posts, go on Graphomaniac and find the Britain 2014 category. :) I’ll be doing the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (www.a-to-zchallenge.com/) in April, and part of that will be from London again, so I’ll have to think of a suitable theme. Since it’s a writer blog, and I have research to do in London, I could blog about that.

    2. Nicole*

      My husband and I blog about finances, frugality, etc. We love sharing our methods for saving money and still enjoying life. The blog is linked to my name.

    3. TL -*

      I blog to do something with the massive amounts of photos I take, so mostly from getting out and about in New England. But I really enjoy it – link’s in my name.

    4. the gold digger*

      I blog about my husband’s parents, who give me a lot of material (ie, they told my husband not to marry me and that they were not coming to the wedding and it’s been downhill since then – the main reason my husband’s dad says he doesn’t like me is because I eat bacon wrong, etc.).

      My husband has also run for the state house and for Congress. I have blogged about what it is like to be married to someone who is running for office. (Spoiler – I do not recommend it.)


    5. Class factotum*

      I write about my marriage, my cats, and my job. I am very careful with what I write about work because I do not want to be dooced. Plus, I have a good job with a great boss, so it’s not hard to keep it upbeat.

    6. Sabrina*

      I have, in the past, blogged about geeky stuff from a female POV. I haven’t had the mental energy to do it in a long time.

    7. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands*

      I blogged for a long time about textiles and my original concept of Slow Cloth at Red Thread Studio (http://lainie.typepad.com) and occasionally (okay, rarely – full-time-plus job has eaten my life) blog about communications/writing at elainelipson.com and about art/craft at elainelipsonart.com. (And now I’ll have to change my username here if I want to post about work, now that I’ve outed myself!)

      I’ve been wanting to reboot my blogging but I don’t know how to integrate all my interests and things I want to write about without each thing alienating some part of my audience that isn’t interested. Do I just do one big “my blog” with some effective tagging or page designing to separate the topics?

    8. Cynthia*

      Un-anonymizing myself… usually it’s thoughts, food, how tos. My last post was on Minecraft if anyone’s into that kinda thing. :)

  28. Amber Rose*

    I throw up about half of my meals and have for months. Certain textures and flavors are killer. My doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong, but she was worried about heart strain and sent me to a cardiologist. So I went for a stress test.

    I was hooked up told to run five minutes. After that I was called to talk to a doctor… who said only five minutes was awful, worse than a small child, and my fitness levels were terrible. I wasn’t told to run longer though, I thought they were just measuring my heart rate… and when I said that he laughed at me. Basically at this point I’m so furious I’d rather die of my unnamed illness than see another doctor. I don’t need this in my life. I have panic attacks just thinking about that whole experience.

    My husband wants me to file a complaint but I feel like it would be a waste of time. Is there any meaning to it?

    1. LisaLee*

      Oh, I had something very similar going on for a few months (couldn’t eat in the mornings, threw up almost every day if I did, got randomly sick after meals, some flavors just made me ill immediately). I have Celiac disease, so I initially thought that maybe I was unknowingly eating gluten, but I looked through everything I was eating and found no suspects (it might be a possibility for you, though, especially if other food allergies or autoimmune diseases run in the family). I saw a nutritionist/naturopathic doctor, which normally I’m super skeptical of, and got tested for food intolerances. They found that I around 10 different ones ranging from mild to more severe, and advised me to not eat those foods for 8-12 weeks and then slowly add them back into my diet. I’ve been doing this for about a month now and while I’m not completely sticking to their advised diet–I’m really only avoiding corn and yeast and gluten at this point, and have cut way down on dairy–the nausea has completely disappeared.

      If my symptoms sound similar to yours, you could try:
      1. Buying magnesium, a probiotic and digestive enzymes to take. The nutritionist I saw put me on these before getting the food intolerance results back, and they made a HUGE difference (but did not clear it up completely). They support digestion, especially of fats and protein. Apparently many people just don’t process those things well, and it can cause lots of gastrointestinal issues. I take these digestive enzymes: http://www.amazon.com/Ortho-Molecular-Product-Digestzyme-Capsules/dp/B000UBIEZW# but I’m sure you could find a cheaper brand if needed.
      2. Try reducing the amount of dairy in your diet, especially if you have relatives who have lactose intolerance. I LOVE dairy, but I have to admit I feel much better only eating about 1 serving a day.
      3. Go to a nutritionist or respectable, food-based naturopath and see if your symptoms are due to food intolerances or a gastrointestinal disorder like celiac’s.

      And yeah, I think you should file a complaint against that doctor. There’s no reason for patients to be treated that way.

      1. Amber Rose*

        It’s not my stomach though. It’s my throat.

        I saw a nutritionist but it ended up being a waste of time.

        1. fposte*

          So have you had an endoscopy yet? A friend of mine had achalasia, which made her food not go down or not stay down. It took a while before they got to that diagnosis, but she eventually had surgery that absolutely fixed it for her.

          I don’t get why you haven’t been sent to a gastroenterologist. Can you ask to see one?

        2. Merry and Bright*

          I had a very similar problem (throat, being sick). In turned out that I am allergic to birch pollen. It is only a few things I react to – tomato, lettuce, apple, avocado and melon (although watermelon is OK and I am fine with cooked tomato and apple). The reaction is in my mouth and throat. Just another possibility. But I hope your problem improves.