weekend free-for-all – November 21-22, 2015

IMG_4021This 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 no work and no school. 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:  Brick Lane, by Monica Ali. It’s the story of two Bangladeshi sisters, one in an arranged marriage in London and one in a “love marriage” in their Bangladeshi village, and I loved it.

{ 981 comments… read them below }

  1. just laura

    Cat people, help!

    On 11/4 I noticed my indoor cat had fleas. Took her to the vet who gave her a dose of Revolution. The initial fleas died off so I thought great, we will keep the rx going and we are in the clear.

    About ten days later I noticed her scratching again and sure enough, lots of fleas on the flea comb. I know there is a life cycle so they are hatching, jumping back on her, and dying once they bite her (right?). We started vacuuming daily at this point and cannot do a bomb. It’s been about 5 days doing several flea combing sessions and daily vacuuming. I always find live and dead fleas when I comb.

    What else can I do? How long will this take?! It’s been a total of two and a half weeks since we gave her the rx. But it’s exhausting and gross. When will we be done and when will all the fleas be dead? It appears they are just on her, not jumping in our rug or anything mega-infested. We can’t do anything aggressive bc of kids in the house. Thanks in advance!

    1. AnotherFed

      My experience is with dogs, not cats, but it usually takes about 2 months for us if one of them picks up fleas before they’re really gone for good – the initial round will die off, but more always hatch and then have to die. One thing you can do to help make sure they really aren’t also in the house is to buy the flea spray (the one we use looks almost like a febreeze spray bottle, and is safe for pets and kids as long as they don’t drink it straight) and spray down beds and other favorite spots to snooze or hang out. That’ll kill fleas in those spots before they have a chance to hatch and start another cycle to live through. We also do baths with the flea and tick killing shampoo, but somehow I doubt that you can do that with most cats!

      1. Brandy

        We had the problem with a dog not a cat but we bleached and hot water washed his dog bed, then he spent a lot more time than normal outside (fenced yard) and was confined to the kitchen and dining room only. He got advantix and they died off pretty fast.

    2. periwinkle

      Diatomaceous earth is your friend. Pick it up at Home Depot, garden center, organic co-op, or pet supply place. Just make sure you get the food-grade version and NOT the pool-grade one which isn’t safe for consumption. Sprinkle it anywhere fleas and flea eggs might be (if you have carpet, try to get it down to past the fibers as much as possible), let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum thoroughly. It kills eggs and live fleas by drying them up. Totally non-toxic but do not put it directly on the cat (because it’ll dry up her skin, too).

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        When our flea problem wasn’t going away quickly enough with meds alone, we started sprinkling diatomaceous earth on the carpets. We also vacuumed twice a day, storing the vacuum bag in the freezer between uses to kill any fleas that were picked up.

        1. Meg Murry

          +1 to freezing the vacuum bag or disposing it immediately – otherwise fleas can escape back out of the vacuum. If bagless, emptying immediately. If you don’t want to do that, I’d suggest storing the vacuum outside between uses.

          Can you rent or borrow a carpet shampooer? That can also help. Don’t forget to vacuum and/or shampoo the couches, chairs and anything else upholstered

          1. skyline

            +1. Also, remember to launder any bedding (cat or human) where the flea eggs might be. My main memory of the one time I had an infestation was doing tons and tons of laundry.

          2. LM

            You can also buy an el-cheapo flea collar and put it in the vacuum bag to take care of the critters that get sucked up.

          3. Sammie

            I had a terrible infestation two years ago. I found steaming my carpet everyday–and then vacuuming after it dried helped alot.

            Oh–and Frontline doesn’t work at all for my cat.

        1. blackcat

          A much cheaper, though slightly less effective method is just using salt. Cover a carpet with salt, wait a few hours, vacuum.

          When we had a flea situation get really bad (in our apartment, they seemed to come through holes in the wall. A neighbor absolutely refused to treat her dog), we decided to go all out and bug-bomb the house. You want to do this when the weather is good (if possible) so you can get out all of the pesticide afterwards. We took the cat to the vet and told them to bathe the cat while we bug-bombed. They have flea baths that are more effective than the topical medications when done correctly. It was a huge pain due to the cleaning needed before/after (eg all cookware/plates/etc was packed up and placed in the fridge or removed from the house. ALL food went in the fridge, which was taped shut), but it was the only thing that really worked.

          1. Judith

            +1 on using salt – cheaper, easier to obtain, and seems less of a hassle. I’ve used the salt treatment for sand fleas (living at the beach comes with it’s own set of problems!) as well as dog/cat fleas, and it has always been effective. The salt desiccates the eggs as well as the young fleas. I applied the salt at night, after kids were in bed, and the SO vacuumed in the morning. Done daily for a week and – no more fleas!!!

      2. Allison Mary

        Make sure it is FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth, though – the stuff that is used for pools can have other toxic ingredients which are potentially dangerous to cats. I bought a 10 lb bag of food grade DE on Amazon forever ago, and it’s lasted me a long time.

        I’ve never tried doing this personally, but I know you can apply the DE to your cat’s coat directly. The only risk is that I’ve read it’s bad for humans or cats to inhale the DE powder, so I’m not sure how you’d avoid this.

        Here is a website that was incredibly helpful to me in researching the toxicity of different flea/tick treatment options: http://www.simplesteps.org/greenpaws-products#/h/+/+/+

        You could also ask your vet about Comfortis – it’s a pill that your cat can take (with food, it’s kind of hard on tummies), which basically kills the fleas as they suck your cat’s blood. It’s worked really well for our cats in the past, but I probably wouldn’t use it on my elderly, almost 18 year old cat, just because it’s kind of rough on their tummies. It’s great for younger, healthier cats, though.

        Good luck!

      3. SRB

        +1 to the diatomaceous earth.

        We just now are finally multiple weeks without seeing any fleas. This, along with their topical treatments (and lots of laundry) is what we did. When we leave for Thanksgiving we’re going to lay it down in the carpet again for a few days, and against over Christmas, and keeping the flea medication up for a few more months. Fleas are resilient little jerks!

    3. ZooNerd

      The fleas don’t live on the cat (or dog). They just jump on for meals. The rest of the time they are somewhere in your house. That could be bedding, carpets, etc, or in an old house sometimes even between the floorboards or in the cracks along the walls. Usually the treatments they give the animals these days make them essentially poisonous to the fleas, but that means they have to jump on and get a bite to eat before they die. (I know, right?) They are very effective, but for a bad infestation it can take awhile to get them all. If you can spray some of the areas that are out of reach of your kids, that should help.

    4. Elder Dog

      Look under your baseboards, down in the cracks between the seat and the back of chairs and couches, and so on. You’re not looking for fleas, but the larvae, which eat skin cells and dust mites. Clean the cracks really well, especially in and under places your cat sleeps or watches the windows.
      I could never get rid of fleas till I cleaned all the tiny places where larvae hide.

    5. Not So NewReader

      The last time I treated my carpets/floors I used Borax. It’s in the laundry detergent aisle. I found a shaker container and used that to distribute it all over. My vet said to let it sit for 2-3 hours. I let it sit for over three hours. I vacuumed it up and got rid of the vac bag immediately.
      The results were amazing. I did it again later because I did not do the first application thoroughly and I know what it is like to have fleas until February.
      Borax has lots of uses so if you do not use it all up, you will find other things you can use it for.

    6. Katie the Fed

      Despite being treated with Frontline, my dog brought in fleas this summer which got on the cats (also on Frontline). If they’re on your cat, they’re in your house. The eggs are falling into the carpet and sofa, and they’ll hatch again when she’s nearby. It’s a pain.

      One thing we did was get Capstar in addition to Advantage II – it kills all the fleas at once on the pet, but only lasts 24 hours, so when the cats were scratching a lot it get them all off and made a big dent in the overall population. We did Capstar about every 3-4 days on all animals. Expensive, but I think it helped. Then lots of vacuuming, flea sprays on the couches and pet beds, frequent laundering of sheets, etc.

      After 3 months they’re finally almost all gone.

      Next year I’m going to treat the yard with nematodes which kill flea larvae.

    7. Ruffingit

      My experiences are with dogs, but when we got our little Lucy, she had been wandering around our apartment complex for who knows how long because someone dumped her there. We found her and she had fleas of course. We bathed her then took her to the vet and got her put on flea meds and heartworm preventive (she was HW negative thankfully). Anyway, I’ve had my older dog and now Lucy on Trifexis and have never had a flea problem with either of them.

    8. Pennalynn Lott

      Food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE). It is the ground up skeletons of microscopic marine creatures (diatoms). The crushed skeletons are like millions of tiny moisture-absorbing knives. So an insect comes in contact with it, it pierces the exoskeleton, and then basically dehydrates (dessicates) the insect. But it’s totally harmless to big critters like mammals. (Hence why it is mixed into animal feed). Sprinkle it on EVERYTHING. I’ve even dusted my cat with it. I know rescue groups that will dust kittens who are too tiny to have toxic chemicals put on them. Just make sure it is *food-grade* because there is a kind of diatomaceous earth that is used in swimming pool filters. Pool-grade DE has been heated to a point that it melts a bit, turning it into silica (which can cause silicosis). This isn’t an issue with food-grade DE.

  2. RunnerGirl

    Does anyone else have a significant other that talks A LOT and goes into a gazillion details no matter the topic? If it bothers you, do you do anything about it? My hubby can go on and on and on and on….and if I ask to change topics, his feelings get really hurt and he thinks I don’t care about what he has to say. I DO care. A lot. I can just only talk (I mean, listen) about the same thing for a certain period of time, and then I’m just D-O-N-E. And that never ends well. We’re completely wired in a different way when it comes to the amount of detail each of us needs/wants. Has anyone ever used a tactic like a code word? Something that both people know means “I’m interested in what you have to say, but let’s move on?” but without having to say it. Any other suggestions?

    1. Happy

      It might help to have a conversation about your communication styles. For example, I had to explain that sometimes I need the main point first bc I kept trying to figure it out and got lost 1,000 times. So we have that as a baseline now– “Hey, what’s the main point? Ah, okay, go ahead.”

    2. Hattie McDoogal

      My husband does this sometimes. The other day, for example, he was going on and on about the ‘Doom’ engine, and I *was* interested, I swear, but he kept talking for ages after I’d last asked a question or had any input and it turned into less of a conversation and more of a diatribe.

      Anyway, my solution was to fall asleep. Probably not the best solution for you if your husband’s feelings are easily hurt, but I do sympathize.

    3. The Expendable Redshirt

      Mr.Expendable Redshirt can go on lengthy, epic topic discussions. When it gets to be too much, I just switch the topic to the latest Micheal Bay movie.

      Guaranteed shift in focus. Mr. Expendable Redshirt will then start ranting about the ghastly director skills of Michael Bay for the next twenty minutes. The original discussion is totally forgotten in the past. Perhaps this strategy could work for you?

    4. Dan

      Let’s be honest, do you really care what he has to say at the point when you’re ready to move on? Because actually changing topics is a pretty strong indicator that you’re not interested in what he was telling you.

      TBH, it’s ok if you aren’t. Let’s face it, sometimes we’re just not interested in things people are telling us. With your husband, you may be better off having a conversation about overall communication styles, at a time where neither of you are on the defensive.

      My ex had this strange ability to talk a lot without really making any points. When I couldn’t stand it any more, I’d straight up tell her that I’m having a hard time keeping track of all of the details, and that I need her to tell me what the “punch line” is first. Once I know where the story is going, then I can work out the details. That didn’t help matters, but I thought it was more polite than telling her that I was done listening. And when I would say something like, “Can I have some quiet time while I get dinner on the table? I need to focus, and can’t give you the attention you deserve while putting out a good meal.” Well that was like starting world war III.

      So sometimes you can’t. If you find his ramblings painful, google something called loghorrea. There’s not much known about it, but excessive rambling can actually be classified as a psychological disorder.

    5. Future Analyst

      Over the years, my husband and I worked out a system where if I’m getting tired of a particular story, or just want to talk about it later, I either say “short version,” or “I’d love to hear more about xyz later, but I just need some quiet right now.” This has greatly improved our relationship, but does have the caveats that a) I don’t do it all the time, and b) he doesn’t get his feelings hurt when I do say it.

      1. Myrin

        I feel your caveats are really important here. Both me and my mum can be quite the talkers and while we don’t generally go into all-the-details-land, we just somehow manage to talk about anything and everything (so it’s more about the length and frequency of the talking, not the details). We do the “short version” thing you mention and are both comfortable saying straight out “Faster!” or “Just get to it!”. However, I feel it’s crucial that neither of us are feeling hurt when the other says this. It would probably be different with some random conversation partner being outspoken like this but we’ve got a good relationship and know it’s not meant in a mean way so there’s never been any problems around this.

        I wouldn’t really know how to handle a situation like this with someone who will absolutely feel hurt by someone stating they can only listen for so long but I do know that I wouldn’t want to be “held hostage” by something like this – you don’t have to endure hours of talk about something you’re not horribly interested in just so your SO’s feelings won’t get hurt. I feel like it’s his responsibility to manage his feelings here? I don’t know, I mean, obviously people can’t help how they’re feeling and other’s really can’t dictate one’s feelings but at the same time… I feel like someone feeling hurt because of their partner not wanting to listen to every. single. detail about everything needs to aim to be a bit more realistic? I have no idea if maybe I feel this way because I personally don’t have a problem not talking extensively about things I’m passionate about but, I don’t know, isn’t it just a fact of life that not everyone shares your passion and wants to hear all about it? As long as your partner isn’t dismissive of what you’re saying or reacting to everything you say by not wanting to hear even a bit about it I don’t see a need to feel hurt about this (or, as I said above, show that hurt to your partner; you can’t help feeling hurt if that’s how you’re wired but it’s also not cool to make your SO feel guilty about not wanting to listen to your stuff for hours on end).

        But yeah, communication. Like others said, communication is key.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian

      My husband can go on for weeks when he’s researching some special new accoutrement for one of his various hobbies. I really am interested, to a point, and I’ve learned a lot from him about things that I wouldn’t have explored on my own.

      However, we’ve developed a humorous code word for when it’s enough, already: “sprockets.” If one of us declares that the other one is talking, say, bicycle sprockets or kayak sprockets, then we know to drop the subject for awhile. His sprockets, to me, are bicycles or kayaks and the endless parts that one can purchase a la carte to continually upgrade them. My sprockets, to him, are China patterns and new dishes pieces that I want to collect, and all the clothing pieces that I’m interested in showing him that he’s not interested in seeing.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I love this sprockets thing. And anytime someone says that word, I think of that old Mike Myers SNL thing “I AM DIETER AND THIS IS SPROCKETS. LOVE MY MONKEY! KISS MY MONKEY!” So this would be perfect for someone to say to me, because I do like to yap and it would make me laugh.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Yeah, we totally lifted the “sprockets” from that SNL skit. We use it to mean anything that someone else is avidly talking about that isn’t quite as interesting to the listener.

    7. Aussie Accountant

      When my partner does this I have a certain tax concept I start explaining to him in detail that he doesn’t understand. It’s become our code for I don’t understand your topic and I don’t really care to so please stop.

    8. SusanPNW

      My husband does this all the time. If you haven’t already tried it, have a discussion about this completely separately from when he is talking on a subject. Explain what is happening and how requesting an end to the explanation does not mean you aren’t interested. That way you aren’t interrupting him at the time and he won’t be reacting in the heat of the moment.
      It has helped that for my husband and me is that he truly understands that he goes on at too much length (for me) sometimes and understands when I say lightly that it is enough for me. Fortunately my husband has a sense of humor about it and we actually are able to joke about it. There was a scene from Brooklyn 99 where Jake mentions a topic Charles dearly loves (paella) and Charles takes a deep breath and launches into a very detailed discussion on the 10 ways to make paella. Jake holds up his hands and says, “No, wait, stop. I changed my mind. I’ve made a horrible mistake.” That is our current code phrase.
      I will also interrupt him at the beginning of an explanation and ask him for a time estimate if it sounds like it might be a long one. For instance when he starts describing for me the advantages of one programming language over another. I have been a programmer, and I can understand what he is saying, but I just don’t care the way he does. This reminds him to summarize the most important points quickly rather than give me the historical background, the different programming environments, the detailed points about defining arrays, etc.

    9. Jenniy

      From the other side of the fence here…
      It is hard. I wanna share all kinds of details about things with my husband. He doesn’t wanna hear half of it. He will finally give me “the death look” (this conversation is killing me), which I know means get to the point already.
      I also know partly it’s that I jump around (“oh and did I mention x,y,and z?” Or “wait let me back up cuz I have to explain this other part for this next part to make sense”)
      In the back of your head, just remember that your S.O. does it because they want to share something that is important to them -how they feel and what they think. Not making excuses, just sharing an alternate perspective. :)

      1. Not So NewReader

        I think the sharing thing is key. If I listened to three hours of my husband’s job I felt he should listen to three hours of my job. Great. This puts us at 1 AM.

        I do think setting time limits on some topics such as work can be helpful, if you dress it up as “US” time. Time for the two of you and NOT jobs, broken cars, insurance scams, etc.

      2. PhyllisB

        I can relate, because I love to go into a lot of detail and make a good story of it. My mother and daughters are the same and we can merrily prattle about nothing for hours. My husband, on the other hand, is a cut to the case kind of guy, and it is a special kind of hell for him to listen to us. So when we get together I give him a pass to escape to the TV.

        UNLESS he’s talking about one of HIS special interests. I know way more about knives and how to sharpen them, compound bows, and hunting rifles than I ever want to know. (Used to be golf and fishing) however, I listen because I love him, and usually read this blog while listening and try to ask a question or sayng uhhuh once in a while so he knows I’m listening. The only thing we can equally go on about and have the others’ full attention is food and cooking.

    10. Ruffingit

      My ex used to do this. If you asked him what time it was, you’d get a litany on how the watch works. I’m not sure of the answer to this, but as others have suggested, you can discuss your communication styles at a time when both of you are calm and he’s not involved in his topic as it were. Just let him know that 10 minutes (or however long you deem acceptable for you) is all you can do on a particular topic so you’d appreciate it if he’d keep it to that length and also that you’d like to have some time to discuss things that are important to you. It’s a hard conversation, but a necessary one.

    11. misspiggy

      With my husband (and his mother) I mostly force myself to engage by asking questions, which means I can make sense of the topic and I can get an angle on it that’s interesting to me. And it shows I care about the topic, even though I only care because it’s important to someone I care about.

      Occasionally I will say my brain is full and I can’t take on any more information, but I’ll need a quick change of topic handy or they’ll find it difficult to get off their verbal racetrack.

    12. OrganizedChaos

      My husband and I are the same way when it comes to topics that we are passionate about. We decided to ask each other, when we felt we were getting close to enough, “How important on a 1-10 scale is the long version to you and to the story?” This works well because it reminds us to stay on point and sometimes we will begin a conversational topic with ” This topic is a 3 so I will make it brief, or This is going to need to be an 8-9 so do you have time to discuss it right now?” and eventually you will find that if you use something like this you will automatically give the topic a number mentally and it will help you keep the length of conversation where it needs to be. As we are not perfect, there are times when a 3 topic becomes a 8 topic inadvertently and you sometimes just need to put your hand up to halt the conversation and say “I respect that this topic is important to you but I don’t feel the same passion, can you wrap up what you want to say in a few mins so we can move on?” These work for us because we took the time to communicate with each other how we listen and how we talk. Good luck reader!

    13. on Vaca in the city of sin

      My experience is my ex could talk an hour and a half about a one hour meeting. It was nerve wracking. I felt like I was living her life, minute by minute, after I got home from work. Big part of why we split up. You can’t fight that kind of narcism.

    14. mander

      My husband is like this sometimes. It’s one reason why I firmly believe smartphones save marriages, because I have developed the ability to do frivolous surfing while listening to him give me extremely detailed explanations. Usually I’m a little bit interested but not fascinated, but he doesn’t always have the ability to give a short version (he is mildly autistic, so that’s part of it).

      It has become a sort of joke that sometimes I’m not really listening, but we are open enough that if he is clearly waiting for a response beyond “uh-huh” then I can say “wait, I wasn’t listening — say that part again!” and it’s fine. After we had been together a while I told him (very gently) that sometimes I really just wanted the short version, and that he didn’t need to give me the background information every. single. time. he gave me an update on something. It helped to discuss what our preferences were.

  3. Anne

    we have been looking at engagement rings and haven’t really found anything I like. Any suggestions? Also we have a family ring that we are considering using the diamonds from…has anybody had any experience resetting diamonds into a new setting?

    1. Gingerbread

      Have you considered custom engagement rings? I know Zales offers that service. I’m not sure how much they charge though.

    2. the gold digger

      I got a trash can instead of an engagement ring, but I am weird.

      We did take the diamonds from my husband’s wedding ring from his first marriage and reset them into earrings. There were seven small diamonds and now I have a set of drop earrings with three diamonds strung out on one earring and four strung out on the other. They are different lengths and I love them.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Someone I know got a dishwasher instead of an engagement ring. They didn’t see the point in spending a lot of money they didn’t have on something that essentially served no real purpose. Different strokes for different folks!

    3. danr

      First decide what the shape of the stone should be. Find a shape you like, then go for a setting that shows it off. If you’re going to have stones reset, you’ll want to work with a jeweler that you know and trust, not the cheapest one in the big city.

    4. Future Analyst

      A friend’s fiancé reset his grandmother’s stone in a new ring for her, and it struck the perfect balance between tradition and something particular to her. You can pick the setting and any additional stones you want added to the ring. The only question would be if you need the ring soon: custom ring settings tend to take a while. :)

      1. Anne

        No rush in needing the ring.

        I am concerned about resetting just because I wont know exactly what it will look like until it is finished.

    5. Jenniy

      No experience with resetting, but do check out blue nile. They are still the same quality diamonds, but lower overhead because they are online only. Did a report on them for marketing class – really good deals for really good quality

        1. Jenniy

          Also you can go to any jeweler and ask them to size you. They have a set of rings to find your size. I’ve never seen it off more than a half size

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict

            You can–it’s just generally not recommended to do it more than once. You can stretch it, which is not recommended since it weakens the gold, or the jeweler can inset a bridge into the bottom of the ring (basically, they cut it open and insert a new “bridge” to expand it, then solder it all together again). It’s really hard to do it for more than two sizes or so, though, so it’s a good idea to get sized before buying anything.

    6. Sunflower

      Are you just not finding THE ring or are you looking at rings and not liking anything about them? If it’s the first part, go with a custom ring and take inspiration from other rings. If it’s the second part, maybe a traditional wedding ring just isn’t your style? Or maybe a ring in general isn’t your style?

      1. Thinking out loud

        This was my thought. What do you think of non-diamonds? Or my friend has a channel-set band that is very pretty and about a quarter of the office of my modest ring – I kind of wish I’d asked for something like that one!

      2. Anne

        I want something small and not too shiny..just like 3 stones and nothing else crazy on the band like no other tiny stones that so many rings have

        1. Natalie

          Have you looked at the semi-custom rings at Gemvara? Basically they have a gajillion patterns and you can pick your own metals and stones (including tons of non-diamonds). They have lots of small simple options.

          As far as shininess goes, just remember it will get less shiny as you wear it and it gets dirty. So don’t get it cleaned. :)

        2. Amy Farrah Fowler

          Everyone has such different tastes. I was very into designs engraved into the band and small stones, but you have to find what you like. As far as finding things that are small, not over the top, maybe it would help to look at promise rings. They’re usually meant to be smaller and less flashy.

    7. blackcat

      My ring is a custom design with an heirloom stone in it. I found a local jeweler where we were living at the time who came highly recommended. They did a lot of custom work. We showed up with sketches and the stone. 5 weeks and a couple of wax versions later, we had a full set of rings. They’re beautiful and it was nice to support a local business. If you go this route, the way to think of it is as commissioning a piece of art. It is not cheap, but the results can be great if you go with the right people.

      And they did not find it odd that we showed up with the stone, particularly since it is quite obviously (to them, anyways) old, because it was cut in a very old style. The gem-expert actually wanted to hear what I knew about the stone’s origin since it was extremely high quality (it’s basically flawless and pure white) and cut in a style she had only read about in books. She was all excited, in part since there is a modern trend to opt for size over quality of stone. She also returned it cleaner than I ever thought possible.

      It was fun to work with the artist (a different person) and meet someone who was basically the world’s biggest gem-stone nerd. I’m happy we did that, and I’m happy to have worked with an independent business. Oh, and I insured the crap out of the rings. Because custom art + flawless stone means $$$.

      1. Lindsay J

        This. One of my best friends has a sapphire and it is gorgeous.

        My Etsy engagement ring list is full of moonstones, and Alexandrite.

        (and mossanite and old art deco rings and old mine cut diamonds).

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict

        I have a sky-blue sapphire with a diamond on either side. I get SO many compliments on it! (Although I do also get questions of the “Is that an engagement ring?” variety because apparently to some people, it’s not a real ring if it isn’t a diamond.) My favourite was the woman who told me she had always wanted a sapphire but her husband had picked her out a diamond, so on their twentieth anniversary she bought herself the big sapphire she’d always wanted instead.

    8. Christy

      I was going to be both picky and expensive, so I just don’t have an engagement ring! Neither does my fiancée. But if you’re going the custom design process, some things to consider: diamond shape, if you prefer clean or intricate ring design, the quantity of metal used (my friend’s custom engagement ring has a LOT of platinum and so it’s both heavy and expensive, and if her fiancé had chosen a different design, it would have been both cheaper and more comfortable for her), if you want one stone or multiple, how you feel about millegrain, and any other design motif questions.

    9. Alicia

      My engagement ring is very much the general trend now. High set, four-pronged and white gold. I love it, and what it represents, but if I had thought it through more thoroughly, I’d have gone for a lower setting due to me using lab gloves on a daily basis.

      That said, I have a gorgeous ring from my Mom’s engagement ring from her first marriage (not my Dad). She took the solitaire, reset it, added 4 smaller sapphires and 4 smaller diamonds to make a flower/cluster. As someone else said, the quality of the stone is so much better than a lot of the diamonds sold these days where it’s quantity (size) over quality.

      My best friend has a purchasable ring from a smaller, more niche jewelry store versus the big box locations, but they went custom for her wedding band. It’s gorgeous, matches her engagement ring perfectly, and wasn’t much more than the typical diamond band many get from the big box stores. It did take a few more trips, and a longer lead time, but I know she is extremely happy with the result. Nice mix of both.

    10. AVP

      If you just have unique taste in jewelry, I love the lines from Catbird’s wedding store in Brooklyn, and In God We Trust.

    11. SanguineAspect

      I have no advice on re-setting stones, but I’m pretty anti-diamond. I found a gorgeous solitaire garnet ring on Esty, from a seller who specializes in custom-setting gemstones. We paid less than $500 for my engagement/wedding band set and I love it so much. I get so many compliments and it was really cool that I got to work with an artisan.

    12. Lillian McGee

      Late response here, but I had heirloom diamonds reset into a totally custom design! I googled around until I found a local jeweler who had a designer on staff who did custom designs from scratch. She used AutoCAD to design and I could see her work every step of the way. It would have been quite expensive if I hadn’t traded in the gold from the old rings, but with it it was pretty much what I expected to pay.

      When I met with the designer she asked me what kind of jewelry style I liked and what my other interests are… when I told her I loved a particular style of art she took that and ran with it and the result was something I really love! I guess the designer liked it too because about a year later I got an email from them advertising my ring as a mother’s day gift!

  4. The Expendable Redshirt

    Clothing advice!
    I like to wear 1950s style dresses. Where I live is rather cold, so the dresses are always worn with leggings. The problem is my dresses tend to “bunch up” in front when I walk. Probably due to the mysterious interaction between friction and clothing fabric. Anyone know how to solve this? I’d like to not unbunch my dress every six steps.

      1. Jazzy Red

        That was my first thought. I was a child in the 50’s, and we always wore slips under our dresses and skirts. They work!

        1. Nother Name

          Most dresses actually “fall” better with a slip (materials like denim and canvas are the exceptions); it makes a world of difference. Also, Static Guard helps with the static cling that you get in cold areas. (Probably not what you want to hear, but dresses in the 50s were also designed to be worn with foundation garments, no matter how slender you are.)

          A full slip will work better with a dress, and a half slip is better with a skirt.

    1. Elkay

      Wear a slip/petticoat and thick tights instead of leggings. It’s probably the cotton in the leggings causing the problem so you either need something between leggings and dress or non-cotton leg covering.

      1. The Expendable Redshirt

        Ah! New clothing item discovery….the slip….
        That is a Thing!

        I shall have to experiment.

        1. OK

          It has always been A Thing, especially in that time frame.

          Try half slips if you cant deal with full ones.

        2. A Non

          I have a half slip that belonged to my grandmother, and I still wear it when I need an extra layer to keep cling problems from happening or to make sure the skirt isn’t see-through. I’m not sure why they ever went out of style, they’re very useful.

          1. Jazzy Red

            I remember when slips, garter belts, bras with conical cups, and panty girdles went out of style – it was the Swinging Sixties! We wanted to get rid of as many rules as possible, and restrictive clothing fell into that category.

            Although, now that I think about it, we started wearing pantyhose during that era, so we basically traded some restrictive clothing for different restrictive clothing.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I remember my mother saying that pantyhose was so much better because with silk stockings you had to make sure the line (seam) in the back was straight. It was considered sloppy to have a seam that was not straight. ugh, ugh. I won’t even start on the discussion of girdles. I wonder how many women died prematurely because of girdles…

              1. Nother Name

                Except during WWII, when silk was rationed. Women would use eyebrow pencil to draw the lines and early versions of fake tan makeup to mimic the color of hose.

    2. GOG11

      I’d try a slip as the others suggested. I find it helpful to rub a dryer sheet on the skirt and my tights when I have static cling issues. It works really well, and I can put one in my purse and touch up when I use the restroom if needed. They even make unscented and dye free sheets now, so it works even if you dislike or can’t use traditional dryer sheets.

    3. Stephanie

      I’ll add to the chorus of a slip (I can’t believer in saying that given how much I hating wearing those damn things as a kid). I’d also look for dresses that are lined.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        I remember when social pressure dictated that one couldn’t wear a dress without wearing a slip (and pantyhose) underneath. Slips were a wardrobe staple when I was a girl; now it’s been years since I’ve even seen one.

        /nostalgia

        1. Not So NewReader

          I always wondered how people could tell if you were not wearing a slip. And what the heck were they doing checking for a slip anyway?????

          1. Nother Name

            Because sheer material is see-through when back lit. A sunny day lets you see who does and doesn’t have a slip or lined skirt. Also, a slip helps get rid of VPL in a clingier fabric.

      2. Nina

        Same. I thought my mother invented the slip just to annoy me because I didn’t know any other girls who wore one!

        Can’t remember the last time I’ve seen a slip. I do think dresses have more lining in them nowadays to make slips unnecessary.

    4. Aussie academic

      You can also get a spray (at least in Australia) that you spray on the inside of dresses, and it removes the static cling

      1. The Expendable Redshirt

        This is very interesting! I was forced to wear dresses as a toddler (with tights) and HATED it. Since this early rebellion, dresses did not enter my closet for the next twenty years. Somehow I can tolerate leggings. And I missed the education session that slips were A Thing. Hope it works!

    5. Aloe Vera

      An alternative to a slip is pettipants. They’re like a slip, except they have the added bonus of preventing your legs from rubbing together!

  5. AnotherFed

    Anyone else very interested in how the Anonymous vs ISIS campaign goes? I have to admit, I’m fascinated at how two trans-national, net-centric organizations are going at it – this seems like a very new brand of international conflict.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Oh, I think this is very interesting. I have been kind of keeping an eye on it. But we have had other times in history where random groups would offer to help with an issue. so the overall concept is not new. What is new here is that no one can really tell Anonymous “no, stop.”
      Maybe they will figure something out, who knows.

    2. Observer

      One area that they might actually be useful in is interfering with IS social media and net based outreach and training. Considering that IS apparently uses these tools fairly heavily, it could actually be useful.

  6. SandrineSmiles (France)

    The France situation is getting a little weird. Oh well.

    The personal situation is… not so good. Break-up is official and I think I may have lost my youngest cat, Daenerys. I have no idea how she did it since I watch those cats like a hawk, but I haven’t seen her in over 48 hours now, and she’s is no where to be seen in the apartment. Flora and Marvin have figured out that Daika, the dog, doesn’t like them so they make do (though, being cats, they like to provoke that poor dog).

    I’m at Mom’s, pretty much have next to zero intern et since I have to use my phone or my sister’s phone as a modem (still haven’t figured out the wifi problem – and because of bad weather the phone’s data thingie is malfunctioning again too -_- ) … and I’m slowly going crazy. I don’t care about speedy internet, just stable internet, that would be cool.

    Oh well. Please wish me luck. I feel quite lost right now. Thank you community.

    1. Dan

      On the one hand, sucks about the break up, but OTOH, and I’m not just trying to make you feel better, but it’s so much better to find out now that it was not the right relationship for you then to get married and find out later. The longer it goes on, the harder it is and the more it hurts.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      The cat might stay close to the house. I can’t tell if you’re staying at your mom’s or not, but if you can stay at your place (I realize that might not be an option), it might make it easier to find her!

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)

        I’m actually at Mom’s with them. And there is a husky in the “house” (apartment on two floors) who doesn’t quite seem to like those cats. I can’t go back to “my” place as ex-BF is keeping the apartment (it’s easier and I can’t afford the rent on my own anyway) so there’s that, too.

    3. Stachington

      I lost my cat for about 2-3 days (she escaped from the house when I opened the door). I finally found her when I started looking around for her specifically during twilight hours, which is when cats are most active. I found her right as the sun was about to go up, just a couple houses up the street, hiding under a car.

      1. GOG11

        I second this. My boyfriend and I like to spot cats on our evening walks and we see so many more around twilight than we do during full day light (or at night, though they’re probably still out and about and we just aren’t seeing them).

    4. Audiophile

      Sorry about the breakup. Cats are strange creatures, ours tend to hide during changes (they notice those things). I hope you find her soon.

      Is there anything she likes food-wise that you could put out somewhere?

    5. Mimmy

      Glad to see that you are safe, but I’m sorry everything is so rough right now :( Hope your cat comes home soon!

    6. knitchic79

      Oh what a week. It truly stinks when everything just piles on. As for Ms. Daenerys, definitely try looking for her in the evening. Not just at mom’s but at the old home too. It takes animals several weeks to reset their internal gps. So if she was out and got startled, when she calmed down it’s possible she got confused and headed for your old apartment. Hope things start to calm down for you. Sending love

    7. Not So NewReader

      Sounds like you guys need some spritzers of water to keep those animals in line! ha! Is that the husky on your FB? I wanted to say that dog looks so much like my guy it’s uncanny. Is he smart or is he a wise guy? Mine is both.

      I am so sorry so much is crashing at once. I am glad you can be with your family. I deeply hope that good changes come your way shortly. I hope your kitty turns up soon, too.

    8. Elizabeth West

      *hug*
      All the luck I can send is on its way to you, Sandrine, mon ami, in the form of good vibes.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    9. BuildMeUp

      I second the suggestions to look around twilight. A couple other suggestions: google “reddit” and “how to find a lost dog” – I’m not sure if this would work for a cat as well, but it’s a method that apparently works really well for lost dogs!

      The second suggestion is a bit more of a long shot, but when I was younger we moved from one town to another about 5 miles away, and one of our cats disappeared soon after the move. We got a call from the new owners of our old house, and she had shown up there! We never found out how she found her way back, other than that cats are weird, magical creatures. If your place is close enough to your mom’s that this is possible, you could check there.

    10. Belle diVedremo

      So glad you checked in.
      Sorry that things have changed so fast in short order. Hope that they begin picking back up for you, and that your Daenerys turns up, soon.

      Please let us know how you’re doing next weekend.

  7. Merry and Bright

    Sorry to hear everything seems to be piling on this week. Really hope something gets better soon.

  8. Gingerbread

    Would you hire a personal trainer that isn’t in shape? I finally took the plunge and set up a PT session today and the trainer I talked to is out of shape. The gym that he works at offers the best prices I’ve seen, but I don’t think I should ask to switch trainers (all of the other trainers there look like body builders) because that seems rude. Am I horrible for taking the trainer’s weight into consideration when looking for a PT? I guess I shouldn’t assume that a trainer isn’t dedicated to fitness if s/he is overweight, but I can’t help it.

    1. Myrin

      Is the trainer already a bit older, say, middle-aged? I’ve worked in a gym for many years and in most recent years my boss (the owner), who was a bodybuilder when he was younger, seemed to gain weight despite working out just as vigorously as before. Looking at the other patrons in the same age range, I’m pretty sure his weight just “shifted” (IDK how to say that; like, it moved somewhere else on his body?) because of age but he actually isn’t significantly less fit than he was ten years ago. If you base you assumption of your trainer being unfit solely on his appearance – as it sounds like you do -, don’t let it discourage you! And even if it isn’t an age thing, some people just don’t look athletic even though they are (and vice versa) and I’d guess he wouldn’t be able to work as a personal trainer if he were as unfit as he might seem. Now obviously, if he turns out to actually be unfit… IDK, it still doesn’t mean he was always unfit or doesn’t have the knowledge of how to train someone. Unless there are other reasons you don’t want to train with him, I really wouldn’t let this issue stand in your way.

    2. Ruth (UK)

      I obviously can’t see the person you’re describing so I have no way of knowing if they’re actually unfit, or fit but heavier than you were expecting, so my answer changes depending:

      Would I have someone who is unfit be my personal trainer: No, except in some particular circumstances. For example, one of my rowing coaches was not very fit but the circumstance here was that he used to be. He used to be a very fit and good rower and a combination of older age and other things meant he wasn’t as fit as he used to be. He still knew a lot about training, technique, etc and he was still great. It would be different if he was someone who had never been fit.

      So the other answer is that if your trainer is heavier than you expected a trainer to be, but is otherwise fit. Not all types of being fit will mean you’re a slim person. If you’re into weightlifting, playing some of the positions in rugby, and some other things, it’s highly possible to be very fit for the sport you’re training for, without having the more traditional ‘fit’ look. If THAT is the case, then there is no reason not to stick with that instructor, as long as the types of exercises you want to do and the type of fitness you want to achieve is in line with what they’re able to help you with…

      Basically, there are too many unknown quantities for me to give a real answer… in short though, if a trainer is unfit (not just heavy) and has no mitigating circumstance (eg. see example of my rowing coach) to mean they’d still be good, then you should find a better trainer.

      (My experience comes from rowing competitively for 6 years, as well as competitively taking part in a number of other sports (particularly endurance related) and a lot of fitness training in general. I used to run a circuit training session and have created the training plans for a rowing team I was part of in the past. I have a shape/build etc that makes me look very ‘fit’ in the traditional sense, but I have totally been out-strengthed and enduranced by people who don’t ‘look’ as fit as me).

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

        Any chance he could be winter bulking to get shredded for spring? Some serious lifters will purposely out on 50 pounds so they can cut better. I wouldn’t mind a personal trainer that didn’t appear to be in the best shape as long as they had a firm grip on the whip they’d need to keep me going.
        On the other hand, ain’t no one with bad eyebrows waxing mine.

      2. Lindsay J

        Also, someone can have the knowledge about what you need to do to get fit without being currently fit them self.

        My middle school track coach was way overweight. She had done track in high school and college but was no longer able to run anymore because of an injury. However, that didn’t mean she wasn’t able to come up with training programs for us and teach us and help us be successful.

        Also I think it depends on what you are looking for out of a trainer. If you’re just going to do a couple sessions with a trainer so they can put together a program for you, show you how to do the exercise, etc, I think she would be fine.

        If you’re planning on this being an ongoing relationship where you train with them on a regular basis/rely on them to motivate you to get to your workout and put in your best effort the whole time I could see it being more of an issue.

        FWIW, personally I would give her a shot either way. And then, if it’s not working for you I see no reason not to switch. I don’t think it would be rude at all; she’s not a friend doing you a favor, she’s a professional providing a service. People switch hair dressers all the time when they get a haircut that doesn’t work for them, or therapists when things aren’t “clicking”. A personal trainer would be no different. And at that point you’d have experience working with her, so your reason for switching (if you were pressed for one) wouldn’t be “she’s fat” but something more concretely to do with the training, or you could go with something vague like, “it’s just not working out for me.”

    3. FutureLibrarian

      Well, I think you should totally give it a try and see how you like it before you determine anything, especially if the price is good! :)

      If you realize he isn’t offering the type of program you’re interested in (for whatever reason, his weight included), then I would just switch and not worry about it. Sometimes people just don’t click, and if he asks, just say that Other trainer is more your style of training!

    4. Sherm

      I sure would. I would also hire an obese dietitian or a therapist whom I suspected was pretty nutty. Some people give great advise but don’t follow it themselves. Or they can’t, or something about them (including biology) makes the advise no applicable for them, but perfect for you.

      1. CrazyCatLady

        Agreed – you can be very good at giving advice or knowing your $hit, even if you don’t follow your own advice.

    5. Mallory Janis Ian

      One of the best strength trainers I’ve ever had didn’t *look* for. She was a little heavy and her figure had shifted due to aging. But, man! She kicked our butts in weight training class! She would use heavier weights than any one else could, and she could simultaneously do the exercises and talk us through them without sounding winded at all. Most of us couldn’t have carried on a conversation at the same time like that. I was in the best shape of my life from that class. I’d say, see how effective their training is for you; if you’re seeing improvements to your body, it doesn’t matter so much what theirs looks like.

    6. nep

      In my view, depends on why you want to work with a trainer / what you want to get out of it.
      I worked with a trainer on some specific techniques she knows well. She’s no longer in the best shape (age, some health issues, other), but she’s very knowledgeable in things I wanted to learn about. It was quite worth my while (and money).
      Agree that it’s probably worth giving it a try with this trainer to see (by committing to just a few sessions at first) — it might bring great results for you, who knows.

    7. Trixie

      You are not horrible, and should not feel guilty or rude about switching. That’s like seeing the same hairdresser repeatedly when you know you hate the cut and it’s not getting any better. You might try this person once or twice to see what happens, then try someone else. See who provides a better workout or who you feel more comfortable with.

    8. Oryx

      I don’t think you’re horrible, but it should be pointed out that you can’t actually tell a person’s health or fitness level based solely on appearances. If you actually worked out with him and didn’t like his approach, that’s one thing. Sometimes people make really really excellent coaches, trainers, instructors, etc., without looking the part.

    9. Yetanotherjennifer

      Absolutely! Trust the gym; they hired him. Assume he knows his stuff. If he isn’t a good fit personality-wise or program-wise then you can switch trainers knowing you didn’t judge him based on his appearance. (And btw, you’re judging those other trainers by appearance as well by assuming they’re better at their job.) Kudos to the gym for hiring him because it is not common to have an overweight trainer. It would seem to me the gym is trying to branch out and attract a broader range of clients. Some people will feel more comfortable with a less fit-looking trainer. Being in good shape isn’t always about weight and you don’t have to have muscles to understand physiology and proper technique.

    10. Aisling

      Remember, being fit does not always equate to being thin. Muscle weighs more than fat. I got a personal trainer last year, and I’ve gained 10 pounds since then, but my body fat percentage is way down. Plus blood pressure is better, and a number of other things have improved but you can’t see just by looking at me.

    11. Anonymous Educator

      Is the trainer not in shape or is the trainer in shape but heavier? “Overweight” doesn’t necessarily mean “not in shape.”

      That said, even if the trainer is actually not in shape, that doesn’t mean anything. The person (my high school cross-country coach) who whipped me the most in shape had never run competitively, and he was quite out of shape. He knew a hell of a lot about how to train runners, though!

    12. Elizabeth West

      If he knew his stuff but was no longer as fit because of age or illness, sure. It’s the knowledge that you want. Look at elite skating coaches–some are older and don’t even go on the ice anymore but they coach skaters to the Olympics. We had Ricky Harris come do a choreography seminar at our rink a few years ago. I had a lesson with her and she was amazing. She stood in the hockey box and fixed the beginning of my program. Which I went on to skate at a local competition and won a medal with. :)

    13. AnotherAlison

      A former trainer I worked out with did not look like she was in good shape when I worked with her. She was a bikini show competitor and it was her gain season. She was a good enough trainer, I suppose, but it wasn’t a fit for me because she really worked better with people working on their appearance rather than health.

      There was another trainer there who was an 40ish woman, and overweight. She worked with a lot of obese women and older first-time exercisers, as they were very comfortable with her. I think different trainers fit with different people. That trainer may not be the best fit for your goals, but that doesn’t make them bad at their job in general.

    14. Gingerbread

      A couple of you asked if he’s a bit older, but no, he’s probably in his late 20s/early 30s. You all make a good point–he doesn’t have to practice what he preaches. I’ll try one class with him to see if it’s a good fit for my fitness goals. Thanks for the advice!

    15. Elsajeni

      I would, for sure! But that’s partly because of what I’m looking for in a coach or trainer — I’m a beginning powerlifter. Great lifters in my weight class don’t look “fit”; they look muscular, but they often also have a gut, or a big round butt, or are just generally big. So I’m happy for my coach to look like that, too; I just want to see evidence that he knows how to do what I’m asking him to help me do, which is “lift lots of weight”. But if losing weight or changing the look/shape of your body is a big part of your goals, I can understand wanting a coach who looks more like what you want to look like — it’s the same deal, you’re looking for someone who knows how to do what you’re asking him to help you do.

      1. AdAgencyChick

        Nice! The world needs more powerlifters.

        Our best lifting coach looks much as you say — a bit of a belly, but he can bench 300+ like it’s nothing. I’m a gal who can bench her own body weight thanks to him.

        1. Elsajeni

          Nice! I just broke my own body weight on deadlift last week — benching my own weight is a long-term goal for me. (It would also be in the neighborhood of a state record, so… very long-term indeed, probably.)

    16. Beck

      I would look at their background and qualifications more than their appearance, though an unfit outer appearance would encourage me to do more due diligence than a fit appearance. How long have they been training others? What is their styles? What feedback have they received from other clients? What sports or athletic activities do they regularly (or used to regularly) partake in? What is their education in personal training? What certifications do they have?

      You should be able to ask the front desk or sales person these questions.

  9. Future Analyst

    Anyone have eye-shadow they love, that lasts? And mascara that doesn’t smear over the course of the day? I’ve been using the same brand of shadow since my early twenties, and it just creases and disappears over the course of the day. And my mascara ends up all over my lower lids (even though I only put it on my upper lashes), so by lunchtime I look tired and disheveled. I don’t need stage makeup quality, just something that doesn’t make me look like I’ve been out all night. Thanks!

    1. Gingerbread

      Do you put anything on your lids before applying eyeshadow? I find that my eyeshadow stays put longer when I apply either a primer or translucent powder before the shadow. NYX has a good eyeshadow primer and I use Dermablend translucent powder. As for eyeshadow, I love the Tarte Tartelette palette. It’s about $45, but there are 12 neutral shades so it’s all I use. Plus, the shadows are matte, so I can wear it during the day without looking like a disco ball.

      1. SL #2

        Hmmm… I’m using NYX primer and it creases in a few hours–but I get a full day, if not more, with my NARS primer. But I have oily eyelids, so that’s probably affecting the wear time a bit.

        1. kimmyontheinternet

          Urban decay primer potion is the only thing that prevents my eye shadow from creasing. I also have very oily eyelids.

            1. Windchime

              I just bought the Naked 2 shadow palette the other day and I love it so far. I looked at the Naked 3 and it was so pretty, but very pink so I felt that it would look a little too old for 50-something me. I did get a couple of sample packets of primer and I have to say that I don’t really notice my shadow lasting longer with the primer, sadly.

              1. kimmyontheinternet

                Regarding the primer–I find with the UD Primer Potion, less is more. I use just a dab on each eyelid. I also set it with powder before putting my eyeshadow on over. That seems to work best for me!

    2. Myrin

      My Manhattan eyeshadows are the only ones I’ve ever found which actually stay on all day (it does sometimes migrate into the fold of the lid if you really wear it all day, like, from six in the morning till eight at night). However, they seem to have changed the formula a year or so ago, at least for some of them because I got a new black one and it was absolutely horrible! I was able to find the old one I’d used for years on ebay and it still works like a charm but I’m now wary of the newer products (although a silvery one I got at around the same time is the same great quality as the old ones).

      I use this mascara by Maybelline and it’s great and has never been greasy or smeary.

      1. Windchime

        I’ll have to give your mascara recommendation a try. I know a lot of people recommend the Maybelline “Great Lash” in the pink tube and that is very smeary on me. I currently buy some kind of fancy, expensive mascara from Sephora (don’t remember the name, but it has a brush that’s adjustable from fat to long). I don’t think it’s any better than the drugstore mascara, though.

    3. Claire (Scotland)

      I use Urban Decay eyeshadows exclusively, and always wear UD primer potion underneath. My eyeshadow looks as good when I get ready for bed as it did when I put it on at 6.30am. Also make sure you are using good brushes to apply your shadows (don’t use those awful sponge applicators!), and blending well.

      I also wear their mascara – either Supercurl or Perversion. But I don’t usually have mascara smearing problems. You could look into tubing mascaras, they usually don’t have those issues.

    4. Lady Bug

      I’m a huge fan of the Tarte primer. It keeps my shadow on for 12 hours instead of the 2 I get without it. A good primer will keep even the cheapest shadow on all day.

    5. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      Seconding the shadow primer! I’m a big fan of Maybelline Great Lash for drug store mascara. For a fresher look, I sometimes will use clear mascara and there is absolutely no dark smudging with it. My all time favorite mascara is Chanel…but at $32 a tube, is just an occasional treat.

      1. Oryx

        I’ve been wearing Great Lash since I was about 15 and it was the only thing I could afford. 20 years later, I’ll sometimes try other things but always go back to GL

    6. Sunflower

      I use ELF eyeshadow primer which helps a lot. It’s only a couple bucks and I have no idea if it works better, worse, or the same as more expensive ones.

      I use Benefit ‘They’re real’ and Diorshow mascara(they also make it in waterproof). They are pricier($25 per tube) but I love them. I believe mascara primer is also a thing so maybe try that?

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Smashbox 24-hour Shadow Primer, Stila eyeshadows (I like their palettes), good-quality brushes (mine are from MAC), and my eyeshadow never goes anywhere.

      Benefit’s Badgal mascara was my go-to for a LONG time, but I’ve been experimenting with some really decent drugstore mascaras from Rimmel and Maybelline that stay and stay and stay.

    8. Sourire

      MAC or Laura Mercier over urban decay primer potion. I think it’s moreso the primer potion than the eyeshadow. I sometimes work 12 or 16 hour shifts and not even a crease at the end of the night (unless I rub my eyes from being tired which is not really the makeup’s fault). I’ve never had an issue with smeary mascara so no help there.

    9. AlleyKat

      So by accident I found that concealer is an awesome primer. I use bare minerals foundation and clinique shadow/mascara, but even cheap drugstore shadows last with a dab of concealer on each lid.

        1. Violetta

          I was part of an online community that SWORE by this a couple years ago, haha. You couldn’t get it where I lived but I fondly remember everyone raving about putting chafing gel on their face.

    10. Future Analyst

      I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know that shadow primer was a thing, so I’ll start there. Thank you all!

    11. Elizabeth West

      Somewhere on Buzzfeed, there was a makeup tips article where they asked for commenters to leave tips. Someone said they put on regular mascara and then waterproof ON TOP of that. It stays on all day but then you can wash it off. I tried it and it worked!! I use Rimmel for the waterproof, but the regular mascara I splurge on and get Mally Volumizing mascara. It’s $20 at Ulta but I looooooove it. Damn my sister for getting me hooked on it.

    12. Nina

      I’m not a makeup fiend by any means, but Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer is incredible. My face can be an oily mess by the end of the day, but my eyeshadow (regardless of the brand/type) will still be on like I had applied it that morning.

    13. matcha123

      This might depend on your eyelids? Mine get pretty oily, but everything mostly stays on.

      I’ve tried mascara for the first time this year, and while they didn’t smear, I felt like they were thinning my eyelashes. The one I did like was a sample I got from Bobbi Brown: Smokey Eye Mascara.
      For eye shadow, I’ve been using Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier’s eye shadow sticks along with Chanel. They stay on pretty well and have lasted me months.

    14. Coffee Ninja

      I swear by Too Faced’s Glitter Glue primer. It’s described as a base for glitter shadow, but it’s worked wonders for me & my oily eyelids (my glitter eyeshadow days are behind me).

    15. AVP

      For the mascara, it depends on your eyelashes – I had the same problem but it was because my eyelashes were very long and I was using “lengthening” mascara that I didn’t really need. A make-up artist friend recommended Maybelline Full Lash instead, which is good for darkening and thickening but doesn’t add length. So maybe try that one, or go to Sephora and ask them to rec something specifically for you? Lashes are basically just hair on your face so, the same way it’s hard to recommend hair products without seeing someone, I find that magazine/internet recommendations are hit or miss.

      For eyeshadow, I really like Bare Minerals even though it’s a bit messy.

    16. ginger ale for all

      Try going to Beautipedia for makeup reviews. That site really helped me out with choosing the right formula of foundation for my skin type. Also, it steered me to a Cover Girl mascara, I forget the name right now but it has an orange tube, Lash Blast?, that I love.

    17. Professional Merchandiser

      It pains me to say this, because one of the items I merchandise is Cover Girl cosemetics, but I just discovered Almay eye make-up. They have eyeshadows, liners (pencil or liquid) and mascara grouped for your eye color. They have every-day neutral, party brights and evening smoky in the shadows. (Party Brights was perfect for me) The package gives instructions on how to use. These are AMAZING products!!! I put on my make-up Friday morning at 5:30 AM, and at 6:30 PM I still looked perfectly made-up. I went to a rehersal dinner without having to do a single touch-up. Just gently blotted my eyelids with tissue to get rid of a bit of oily shine and I was good to go.

    18. Algae

      I usually just use the Maybelline Great Lash because I’m cheap and don’t like to spend a ton of money on something I’m replacing every 3 months (but I’ve splurged on the Star Wars collection for my next tube…and the one after that because I’m a sucker for Light Side vs Dark Side). But, I also subscribe to Glossybox and a couple of months ago, they sent Manna Kadar Lash Primer and that stuff is amazing. It makes my mascara look so much better; they look longer, the mascara stays put better, it’s amazing.

      Also, for smearing on the lower lids, try curling your lashes before putting it on. I mean, you might have already heard that tip, but I find it does really help.

  10. Anxiety issues

    Hi everyone!

    Can anyone recommend some good anti anxiety books? I’m current seeing a counsellor and using CBT, but think maybe extra resources could be helpful.

    Thanks so much!

    1. fposte

      I haven’t read them, but I know people who swear by the work of Claire Weekes. It’s seeming to be lastingly popular fairly long after her death, and it’s available inexpensively, both of which look like good qualities.

    2. A Non

      Check out Brene Brown’s writing. She writes more about the human condition than anxiety disorders per se, but it’s all about vulnerability and believing that you’re okay if you’re not perfect. It’s really challenging, compassionate stuff.

      1. Florida

        I second Brown’s stuff. She has a ton of interviews and speeches online. Google her name and you’ll find them. Check those out. If you like them, get the books.

    3. argyle

      My psychologist-in-training husband recommends Get Out of Your Mind and into Your Life by Steve Hayes or The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook by Davis, Eshelman and McKay.

      1. misspiggy

        Please thank your psychologist-in-training husband for me for the Steve Hayes recommendation. I read the ‘look inside’ bits of it to my husband before ordering it, and he said it helped him feel better about a particular situation already. Very much looking forward to the book arriving.

    4. Come On Eileen

      Not necessarily just for anxiety, but I just finished an eight week course of therapy called ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy). There’s an easy to read book called The Happiness Trap that sums up ACT pretty nicely, and I found it really helpful. The general idea is that when we feel like we HAVE to seek happiness at every turn of life, we end up disappointed and stressed and unhappy. So instead, we need to accept that uncomfortable emotions — sadness, anxiety, fear, resentment — are a part of life, and make space for them. There’s a lot more tools like learning how to diffuse particularly uncomfortable emotions, and also a focus on moving in a direction toward the things we value most in life. Anyway, the Happiness Trap is a great book that sums it all up really well and I’d recommend it.

      1. Lindsay J

        Hmm I’ll have to check into that. My therapist never mentioned the book but a lot of my therapy was about using mindfulness to acknowledge and accept my feelings for what the were. And to acknowledge that some of my negative feelings were situation based – of course I was going to feel badly when underemployed and struggling to make rent, or anxious when I wasn’t sure I could afford to replace my damaged car, etc.

        1. Lindsay J

          (And that, in my case, my negative feelings about my job situation were in a way a good thing – that they were pushing me to make changes in my life so I could become more financially stable/comfortable, rather than stagnating in a bad situation).

    5. Katie the Fed

      I don’t have a book recommendation, but you might want to look into Buddhist mindfulness techniques. My therapist was a bit of a hippie and I wasn’t doing well with CBT and as a last ditch effort, he taught me about mindfulness and it helped a TON.

    6. Suz

      If you’re up for an app, I’d recommend having a look at Beacon, which is run by an Australian uni. It lists available apps mainly for mental health and then has a ratings system to show how well evidenced a particular app is. I’ve heard good things about MoodGym
      https://beacon.anu.edu.au

  11. Gene

    The new windows are in, except for the bathroom, he forgot to order obscure glass. The contractor did a great job.

    1. it happens

      Window film is your friend. You can even get fancy designs and change every few years, if you’re super bored.

  12. Unexpected

    Anyone have any words of advice for a non-smoker (feels immediately sick when exposed to smoke and second-hand smoke, highly sensitive to smells etc.) who is head over heels for someone who happens to smoke? Has anyone been in either of these positions and was it a dealbreaker in the end for the relationship?

    1. Amber Rose

      I’m like that too. It is absolutely a deal-breaker for me. I hate it so much I generally don’t even have smoker friends, the smell just sticks to everything and is unbearably vile. And I can’t help but judge them. Like, they could be a great person and I’d just be there thinking “how can this person be great and also so incredibly gross?” Just taints everything.

    2. Florida

      If the only way it will work is for the person to quit smoking, then don’t date them. It’s not fair to date someone who has a major “flaw” and expect that they will change to accommodate you.
      However, if you decide you can tolerate the smell, then go for it. But be really sure you can tolerate it. If you are going in thinking, “Maybe once they decide they love me, they will decide to quit smoking,” that’s a recipe for disaster. It’s not fair to nag.

      1. Florida

        I should add that it is possible that said person will quit smoking for you – that happens. But assume it won’t.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Amen to this. I have several friends who married (MARRIED) men who smoke and then started bitching about it after all was said and done. They knew their husbands smoked and they just expected the men to quit. My boyfriend got a little tipsy one night and gave one of these women the, “You married him like this” lecture, and I was ever so proud.

          But anyway. Treat his smoking as part of him, something that will never change, and decide if YOU can handle it. You can only control your own self. You can explore quitting with him, but if that’s not something he’s willing to do (either now or in the future), then the decision to pursue this has to be made with his smoking as part of the package.

        1. Random citizen

          Ugh, that would be awful. But sometimes it works. I have an coworker who smokes, which I only know from seeing him smoke, because he wears a cologne that somehow completely masks the smell. I’ve never smelled smoke on him, and the cologne isn’t very strong either (I knew him a long time before I realized that he was wearing it). OTOH, I’m not overly sensitive to smells, so that may just be me not noticing smells. I definitely notice the smoke scent on other coworkers/friends though.

    3. Aussie Teacher

      I’m sorry – unless they are willing to quit smoking for you, I think it has to be a deal breaker. Otherwise if you are just hoping they will quit (“if they really loved me, they’d quit”) then you will grow resentful when it doesn’t happen etc. I don’t think any good can come from it. Why not be completely honest with them and see what they say.

      1. AlleyKat

        I hate smoking. Married a smoker who promised he’d quit. 10 years later, still smoking, still married, but it’s been a huge struggle. The smell is such a turn off I don’t want to be intimate. If you can’t accept it, don’t marry them. Every time he lights up I feel like he’s cheating me and the kids, it’s a lot to deal with. And all my friends say well, you married him! Yeah… that just makes me feel worse.

      2. Treena

        Yep, this. My dad used to smoke 2+ packs/day and when my parents started dating, my mom essentially gave him an ultimatum (super early on) that if he wanted to date her, he’d have to quit. He went cold turkey, they just celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary, and he hasn’t smoked in all that time. So it’s definitely possible, but that’s the exception instead of the rule.

        I think a heartfelt conversation where the phrases “head over heels for you” and “feel immediately sick when exposed to smoke and second-hand smoke” are used is all you can do. If they don’t quit (or at least start the process of quitting), there’s not much hope, since they will literally make you sick when you see them. The more plausible outcome is that they’ll be trying to quit for many years and it’ll be a struggle for a while before they get a handle on their addiction.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      I had a crush on my spouse well before we got together and at one point (also before we got together) she was a smoker, and I hated it, and she knew I hated it. Eventually she quit (not for me). But if she hadn’t, that definitely would have been a dealbreaker. I know a lot of smokers who genuinely want to quit… who can’t quit. So even if the desire is there, you can’t guarantee that person will quit.

    5. The Expendable Redshirt

      Mr. Expendable Redshirt was a smoker when I met him. In the beginning, I’d walk upwind of him if he smoked. He figured out pretty quick just how sensitive I was to the smell of smoke. Of his own choice, he tried not to smoke on the days he’d see me. Eventually Mr.Expendable Redshirt quit entirely. If he hadn’t been able to accomplish this, it would have been a deal breaker. We just wouldn’t have been comparable.

    6. Num Lock

      I have to second the calls for it being a dealbreaker. I haven’t dated a smoker, but I grew up with my father smoking weed in the house. Mom started smoking cigars by hanging out of the door a few years before I moved out at 18, so the smoke just blew in behind her. At this point (26), I can’t even visit them. There is no amount of allergy medication that makes it a bearable experience, no hepa filter powerful enough. It may not be so bad if they are careful about smoking outside and not letting the smoke blow back in, but it sounds like you are sensitive and that really only gets worse with exposure. The smoke will cling to them and rub off on your furniture, on your bedsheets, etc.

      Unless this person commits and immediately begins to stop smoking for you, I’d let them go. Some people can do that, but many can’t.

    7. Elizabeth West

      I don’t, because I used to smoke–not just casually; I was a tobacco addict. It took me ages to quit and I don’t want to start again. If I were to date a smoker, I’d be right back on it. It’s absolutely a deal breaker for me. I would not even go out with a guy if I knew he smoked.

    8. Observer

      If you are that sensitive, it needs to be a deal breaker. You don’t really have a choice. Think about it for a moment – what’s going to do to your relationship when a major part of your feelings when you part from each other has to be relief that you can breath and stop being sick?

    9. Pennalynn Lott

      In my early 30’s I fell for a guy who held off smoking in front of me until he was sure I liked him. Then, on what could have been considered our first “date”-date (like, the first outing we went on alone after we’d acknowledged an interest in each other), he lit up a cigarette. I was glad I’d driven my own car to meet him at the venue, because when he didn’t put the cigarette out immediately (I asked him politely) I got up and left and never looked back. Smoking is an absolute, hard-line, deal-breaker for me and I never would have agreed to the date if I’d known he smoked. (And I’m still surprised, all these years later, at how angry he got at me for not wanting to date a smoker).

      1. Observer

        It sounds like you inadvertently screened out a real jerk. Smoking has to be a deal breaker for some people, and I don’t blame people for who choose to make it a deal breaker. But, smokers by and large are no different otherwise from other people. The fact that he hid it from you, then acted the way he did when you asked him to stop around says he’s a jerk.

    10. katamia

      Huge dealbreaker for me. I hate smoking and won’t date a smoker. Unless he’s willing to quit, but don’t wait forever for that, either–work with him to come up with a reasonable deadline (as defined by the two of you) and come up with some things he can do to minimize the effect on you while he’s working. And then if he hasn’t quit, you’re probably better off going your separate ways.

    11. matcha123

      I’m a non-smoker who hates smokers and smoking. But, my current and previous boyfriend’s have been smokers. Honestly, I hate it. And if I were back in the US, it’d be a deal-breaker. Living in East Asia means that the majority of men are smokers.

      The first guy was the best about it: He’d shower before he met me (we usually met after work, so it wasn’t that hard…I think), he wouldn’t smoke around me at all and he’d brush his teeth before we met so I didn’t have to deal with smoker breath. At times I could forget he smoked, and I’m very sensitive to the smell. What’s more, he did all of this without me pushing him to.
      My current boyfriend doesn’t understand anything and so I mostly avoid him and when we break up his lack of sensitivity towards the smoking issue will definitely be one of the main reasons.

    12. Jazzy Red

      Deal breaker for me.

      I saw my brother “live” through 10 years of lung disease before he died, and now I simply can’t tolerate anyone who would deliberately commit decades-long suicide.

      1. Lindsay J

        Ugh yes. My grandfather was dying of lung cancer in the hospital and still lighting up. I couldn’t watch a spouse do that to them self.

    13. Natalie

      Gotta echo everyone that you shouldn’t pursue this if they still smoke. I have 2 stories:

      My cousin’s husband smoked when she met him. Smoking is a super deal breaker for her for health and family history reasons, so fairly early on she just explained the situation and he decided to quit. They’ve been together for 5 or 6 years now, married 2, all is well.

      My best friend, on the other hand, is a sometimes smoker dating someone who hates smoking and won’t let it go. They argue about it a lot, they both lie to each other in that well-meaning way of someone who *wants* X to be true, and it’s a pretty significant wedge between them. But they’ve been together for long enough that they have a pretty strong sunk costs thing going on, and apparently he’s going to propose, which… Oy.

    14. Belle diVedremo

      What has allowed you to have enough time together to get the point of being head over heels for this person and are those conditions sustainable long term?

    15. Sharon

      My sister started dating a smoker and she is one of the most anti-smoking people I’ve ever seen. They’re coworkers, and she said to him when they started discussing mutual feelings was “I know you smoke, but I won’t date you if you smoke. I know you’d like to pursue this, and honestly so would I, but I’m not going to if you smoke. It’s not fair to either of us.” He suggested he give vaping a shot, and my sister finds that tolerable. In fact, I think he ended up liking vaping better than smoking cigarettes.

      I say float this idea past your person and see what happens. :) Good luck!

  13. Sandy

    This might be a long shot, but does anyone have Morocco tips?

    Hubby and I are sneaking away, sans-baby for a few days in Marrakech next month.

    1. the gold digger

      I have been to Morocco three times. I have to say that Marrakesh was not my favorite – the vendors in the square are really aggressive (one of them said, “F*** you!” to me when I wouldn’t eat in his restaurant.)(Not super prim – just don’t want this post thrown into moderation.)

      Our favorite place was Essouaira (sp)? by the sea. There is this great fish market/restaurant where you pick the fish you want and they cook it for you and you eat at a picnic table while the cats roam looking for handouts. (Don’t let them charge you tourist prices! Prices are set by law – it’s by pound, I think – there is a sign in French in front of the market.)

      We also liked Fez a lot.

      We stayed in Rabat with our friends, who were working there at the time. Rabat is OK, but not a tourist place like Fez.

      The food was fabulous. We ate the street food and were fine.

      My friend advised me not to buy a rug in Fez but we did and we overpaid way too much. If you are going to buy a rug, do your research and know your pricing before you go because man, they are masters at bargaining and if you are not from a culture where bargaining is done, you will lose!

      1. the gold digger

        PS Here are the posts about the fish and about the rugs.

        http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-which-we-eat-lot-of-fish-but-not-35.html
        http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-which-we-eat-lot-of-fish-but-not-35.html

        PPS Morocco is a great place to get leather goods repaired – I could not find anyone in the US to do this repair, so took my purse to Morocco. Really! Take your shoes and purses there – they can fix them!

        http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2012/01/in-which-we-eat-lot-of-fish-but-not-35.html

        PPPS And then there is always the drama of dating a Moroccan Millionaire. Don’t do it. That’s my advice.

        http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/04/in-which-i-tell-you-embarrassing-story.html
        http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/05/in-which-i-iron-gomezs-shirts-dont-hate.html

        1. Lily in NYC

          Wow, I was engaged to a Moroccan Millionaire! But I have nothing but good things to say about the dude (we only broke up because he was an orthodox jew and his parents could not handle my heathen existence).

    2. Eva G.

      I’ve been to Marrakech twice and there are two restaurants I can warmly recommend (with the caveat that it’s been two years since I was last there): Libzar (currently #10 on Tripadvisor) and Souk Kafe (#59).

      Enjoy your getaway!

  14. Real Estate Rookie

    Why won’t anyone sell me a house? :(

    I’m a first-time home buyer. I have no contingencies, have a sizeable down payment, and have already secured my financing. You would think I would be attractive to most sellers.

    Earlier this week, I made an offer on a home. The home was at the top-end of the neighborhood (which I now realize was a mistake and that I won’t make again). I made a very fair offer based on the neighborhood and the home itself and the buyers rejected it. Not only did they reject it, they relisted it for significantly more! It’s been on the market for about 40 days, had a ton of people look at it, but my offer is the only one they’ve gotten so far. I really doubt they would have got the original asking price for it (again, very top range of the neighborhood – probably the most expensive house in the subdivision), so I really don’t understand asking even more for it.

    I found an even better house later in the week, for the exact same original asking price as house #1,but it was in a MUCH better neighborhood, 1,000 more square feet, newer construction etc. It had been on the market for 4.5 months. I made an appointment to check it out and “magically” the seller’s agent says they actually already have an accepted offer on the property and they just haven’t gotten around to taking it off the MLS.

    I’m so frustrated. My lease is up at the end of March and I’m freaking out. I know I probably shouldn’t be, but I am. Inventory is low and I’m praying that more will come on the market in January and February. Plus, I know I shouldn’t be, but I’m so disheartened by what happened this week.

    Whew – that was a lot. Thanks for listening to me type-vent.

    1. overeducated and underemployed

      Do you live somewhere with an intense market? I know in my city, people are getting offers rejected because others are buying houses in CASH. If you’re not in NY/Boston/Bay Area, it might just be waiting for the right match to come, just like job searching :( Good luck!

    2. danr

      Keep at it. Keep your eyes on that other house. Sales fall through all the time and you might have a second chance.

    3. Colette

      Well, in the second case, I don’t think they mark houses as sold until all conditions have been waived – so if they have accepted an offer but the buyer hasn’t been approved (not pre-approved) for a mortgage or the home inspection is next week, it will still be listed for sale.
      This is one of those situations where it’s better to get it right than to close quickly, so i wouldn’t recommend rushing just to buy something.

      1. Natalie

        Yep, it’s still listed as “for sale” until you actually close, although they generally denote that they accepted an offer.

    4. Florida

      Most sellers think their house is worth more than it is. If you were the first person to make an offer on the house, they probably won’t take it because they think a better offer will come along.

      Have you ever had a garage sale? It you have an item that is probably worth $5, marked at $10 and I come along and offer you $5 early in the morning, you will likely turn me down. You are convinced it is worth way more than it’s really worth. But by the end of the day, you’ll be willing to accept $5 or even $3 for it. Selling a house is the same thing.

      Also, the most expensive house in the neighborhood is never worth what the owners think it’s worth. The neighborhood bring the value of that house down, and owners never want to accept that. So definitely do not offer more for that one.

      1. Real Estate Rookie

        I love the garage sale analogy. I think that’s what’s going on here. Plus, the sellers have lived in the house for 20+ years, put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into making the house the best it could be and I think it’s emotional for them (which is entirely understandable). My realtor said she wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they come back a few months from now and ask if I’m still interested. If that does happen, I’ve already decided not to pursue it because I’ve found that I can get a nicer home in a nicer neighborhood for a very similar price.

      2. Sourire

        “Most sellers think their house is worth more than it is. If you were the first person to make an offer on the house, they probably won’t take it because they think a better offer will come along.”

        Yep, I was the first offer on a house and they did accept, but the home inspection revealed the roof was in terrible shape and had to be replaced yesterday. I changed my offer due to this as the listing specifically said it had 5-10 years left on the roof and the seller wouldn’t budge (I heard from my agent later they were sure since I’d made an offer others would too and they’d get the same if not more) so I walked away. I periodically checked on it and it remained on the market for quite a while, and finally sold for less than what my counter offer would’ve been. So they lost money on sale price and carrying costs.

    5. Corrupted by Coffee

      If it makes you feel better, you’re not the only one. We’ve made offers on three places now, all at least 20k over asking price. We got outbid for all of them.

    6. Yetanotherjennifer

      What’s your plan b if nothing comes up? Maybe if you figure that out and set a deadline for implementation you’ll feel less panicky. Good luck!

      1. Katie the Fed

        That actually makes ME feel better, because our condo was on the market for 4 months and we finally pulled it off to re-list in spring. I am not enjoying paying two mortgages right now, but buyers just weren’t out in late summer/fall.

      1. Real Estate Rookie

        Yes, I am working with a realtor. She has been very helpful – I think we’ve just run into some bad luck and some unrealistic sellers. The inventory is just low right now in the areas I’m looking in.

        My plan is to go month to month at my apartment, even though it will run me about $300 extra a month.

    7. Natalie

      Deep breath.

      First, most important – this isn’t personal. Trust me. People lost their houses and don’t sell for all sorts of reasons, and you can’t avoid running into those people. Just metaphorically shake your head at them and move on.

      Second, are you working with an agent? It sounds like you might not be. There’s really no downside – they get paid by the seller and they have access to a bunch of information you probably don’t. They’ll also see new listings before you do. Frankly, you don’t want those people that have been on the market for weeks – either there’s something really wrong with the house or the seller is deeply unrealistic about the price.

      Third, if I were you I’d come up with a contingency plan for your apartment. Can you go mo th-to-month? Can you sign a short term extension? Can you renew your lease and break it later? I did the third on and I felt so much better, even when it turned out I only stayed 2 months past my lease. I just considered the lease break fee part of my moving costs, and it was money well spent for peace of mind.

      1. Natalie

        That first paragraph should say “list” – people list their houses and don’t sell for all kinds of reasons.

      2. Christina

        I disagree about not wanting the places that have been on the market for awhile. The place I ended up buying had been for sale for nearly 6 months. The pictures looked fantastic so my realtor and I were wondering what was wrong with it. Turns out he put on the market in late fall, which is a slow time to begin with, had one offer that fell through, dropped the price, had another offer where the buyers just disappeared, and by then it was spring. The place turned out to be amazing and pretty much the best thing a first time home buyer could ask for (he even had it cleaned and left me a bottle of champagne!)

        1. Natalie

          Fair enough, it probably depends on your market. In my city, something that doesn’t get snapped up in a month is unusual, so generally a bad sign.

  15. Sunflower

    Any advice on buying used home-ware stuff on craigslist? Other places I should look for used/cheap stuff besides craigslist? Items I am considering buying used:

    Window air conditioner, Microwave, Crock Pot, Kitchen table, Comfy lounge chair, Kitchen table+chairs, Kitchen cart, Bed Frame

    This stuff is somewhat temporary since I’m not sure how permanent my new home will be and it most definitely is not forever furniture so the point of buying used is to save money. I am mostly concerned about the electrical stuff.

    1. nep

      You could check estatesales.net. Often at moving and estate sales you’ll find items like that fairly new or at least in pretty good condition.
      Re CL, goes without saying but bears mentioning — good to take someone along when going to see items from a CL ad.

    2. Trixie

      Check for local neighborhood Facebook group pages. Or throw something out on your FB page and see if anyone has any ideas.

    3. Delyssia

      No advice, but would you happen to be in the DC area? If you are, I have a window air conditioner and kitchen chairs I’d be willing to give away. The caveat is that the window air conditioner really needs to be taken apart and cleaned–there’s dark gunk of some sort visible in the air vents, and it’s a pain to take it apart to where you can really get in and get it cleaned. (I did that on the window AC unit I still use in the bedroom and it was enough hassle to convince me that I really only need the one.)

      1. Sunflower

        Thanks so much! I am a couple hours north of you in Philly but I appreciate the offer! Side note- should I get the air conditioner now or wait til closer to summer?

        1. Delyssia

          I wouldn’t make a particular point of trying to get one now, but you might be able to get something cheap now, when people are done with it for the season. As long as you have a place to put it, I don’t see a downside to keeping an eye out for a good deal now. Good luck!

    4. it happens

      Especially if you think these things are for more-or-less temporary use, Craig’s List is fine. And look for a local freecycle group – when people move they just want to get rid of stuff.

      1. WinterE

        I’ll second freecycle. I got an entire full bed (frame, box spring, mattress) from freecycle, and the person giving it away also threw in some lovely flannel sheets, which are great for winter. You’ll find a pretty random assortment of stuff on there, but it is all, as the name implies, free, which is very nice if you’re not looking to keep stuff long term.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        My local freecycle group disbanded because the list moderators got tired of dealing with all the whackos. Which is a bummer because it was a great way to get rid of stuff I’ll never use again.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I lasted almost a year on the local one here, but then I couldn’t take it any more. It wasn’t so much the no-shows, it was the outright greedy. Someone posted about how they wanted several name brand, very expensive items, like a Roomba. I laughed out loud because the request was so ridiculous. Many other people obviously agreed and replied asking for much more outrageous things as jokes, until the moderator stepped in and stopped it.

    5. Jenniy

      Crockpot – go to big lots, get a new one for 15$ and skip the whole issue.
      Ollies will have them for a good price come spring.
      Either has good prices for microwaves

      But also check thrift stores for all this stuff. They usually have some good tables (I found an amazing butcher block table with 4 chairs for 50$) as well as the rest, and anything that plugs they will test/let you test. Plus goodwill or Dav (and others) go to good causes :)

      1. Lindsay J

        This was going to be my recommendation.. I’ve seen everything listed (except for the air conditioner) at thrift stores pretty regularly. (and the places that I don’t frequent like the habitat for humanity re-store may well have air conditioners all the time).

        I use my $4 thrift store stone wear crock pot more often than my fancy ninja brand one.

      2. Sunflower

        Thanks! The thrift store down the block is having a black Friday sale and everything is 50% off so I will be heading there this week to make a list.

        Do you know if the thrift stores test electronics before they take them? I’m worried about buying something and then discovering it doesn’t work.

    6. Arjay

      And be careful to check upholstered, plush items like that comfy lounge chair for bedbugs. So many places are having outbreaks and those are not something you want to bring home along with your bargain price.

  16. overeducated and underemployed

    A classic holiday season discussion question: what do you get for people who “have it all,” or at least really don’t need stuff that takes up space? Any homemade favorites or good gift “experiences” (especially for the budget-conscious)? I often go for books but I feel like maybe I should be less predictable.

    1. Amber Rose

      I just bake honestly. A cute tin full of sugar cookies, Nanaimo bars and rum balls have yet to disappoint.

      Alternatively, and this is location dependent, sometimes there are services where you can pay for a personal chef for one dinner. Husband got me that once. It was pretty fun.

      1. Nother Name

        I bake, too. If there is a particular family favorite recipe, that’s always a good choice. Especially if the person who used to make it is no longer capable of doing so (due to age or just plain not being around). One of the best compliments I ever got was when my grandmother told me that I made her specialty cookie just like hers.

    2. Real Estate Rookie

      Ah, yes – it is that time of year again.

      My mom falls into this category – she pretty much has every thing she needs, doesn’t like too much clutter, and is very particular about jewelry, clothing, and accessories so I don’t dare pick anything out for her.

      Magazine subscriptions or Hulu/Netflix subscriptions are big hits. I’ve given movie tickets to her before. I also like to get her “consumable” stuff that I know she likes (i.e. fancy candles that I know she won’t pay the money for, expensive spices from the specialty store she likes). I gave her a gift certificate for a massage that she seemed to like. If I’m really stuck for a gift idea, I give her useful gift certificates from her local hair salon, Walmart (she lives in a tiny town), the local grocery store, or Aveda or Sephora (she only buys her hair care and skin care stuff there).

    3. Colette

      You can make layered cookies or soup in a jar, or bath salts. Basically something nice but consumable.

      You could also do a gift basket of treats – if they like movies, maybe it’s popcorn + a new release. If they like tea, get an assortment with some cookies. The key here is to personalize it based on their tastes.

    4. Sourire

      Consumables for sure. You can find them to work with any budget and go the homemade route like suggested above with baking/recipes in a jar etc all the way up to gourmet cheeses/chocolates/etc. I love consumables as gifts because my house is rather small, I have most of what I need (and have very specific taste) and love food, so not only is it usually something I actually like, but once it’s gone, it doesn’t take up any space like a normal gift would.

      My go to secret santa type gift lately has been cute mugs, fixings for hot chocolate, and a redbox gift card/promo code. It’s always gone over very well.

      1. Lindsay J

        This is what I did for my last secret Santa and going to do for the one at my work this year.

        A cute mug, hot chocolate, marsh mellows, cookies, and a cute fleece blanket. Can be had for under $20 at Walmart, and great for a chilly winter day.

        (And all the ones I do are the white elephant style so if anyone on a diet or who is diabetic or otherwise couldn’t use it got it I’m pretty sure someone would steal it from them.)

    5. Anon the Great and Powerful

      I usually donate in their name to a charity they support. Fancy chocolates are also a hit.

    6. it happens

      I’ve been playing with infusing alcohols to give as gifts – ginger rum, apple cinnamon whiskey, etc. Lot less work than baking;) and can do ahead of time. (I infuse for about two weeks.)

    7. AvonLady Barksdale

      I tend to send my stepfather a fruitcake. He likes them, my mother can’t or won’t make one, they usually come in nice tins. Done. (PS We don’t celebrate Christmas and fruitcake is not something we dread.)

      I wish I could just send everyone jars of homemade sauerkraut or something, but my family is too far flung. Also, my kimchi is better than my kraut, and my family probably wouldn’t touch it.

      1. Nother Name

        As someone who grew up on homemade fruitcake, I find it delicious! (But not the stuff that you get in most grocery stores – fruitcake needs that good soak in brandy. Apricot brandy in my family’s case.)

    8. Soupspoon McGee

      Homemade granola! My mom made it all the time when I was a kid, so store-bought stuff just doesn’t taste right, and it’s expensive.

      There are lots of recipes online, but this is what I did:

      Use a roasting pan or large baking pan. I used coconut oil, so I scooped about 3/4 cup into the pan (on a low burner) and let it melt, then stirred in honey, stevia, and brown sugar (about 3/4 cup of sugary things, more if you like things sweet). You can use other sweeteners, but honey is the most flavorful. In go the oats (6-10 cups), nuts, seeds and spices. I ground flax seed and stirred that in, along with hemp and chia seeds. Add a few tablespoons of water and stir. Bake that at 300• F for about 40 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes or so. When it starts to brown, take it out and stir in coconut flakes and dried fruit (or whatever else you want).

    9. Sunflower

      How close are you to them? I like to look for vintage items on eBay. It can be collectibles, books, albums, concert tee shirts

    10. Stephanie

      I always make candied nuts and stick them in mason jars. Easy and nuts ship pretty well.

      I live in the Southwest, so I’ll sometimes send friends in other parts of the countries dried chilis or other spices from the Mexican grocery.

    11. Stephanie

      Oh! I just thought of one. If they’re a runner, gift them a race entry fee. Your city’s marquee marathon might be pricey (if you’re not buying it way in advance), but you should be able to find some cheaper races you could cover an entry fee for.

    12. mondegreen

      Baked goods are a sweet idea if you know they’ll ship well, as is a mason jar filled with dry ingredients and a handmade label with instructions. Coffee and tea are less likely to run afoul of dietary restrictions or preferences (but more likely to run up against brand loyalty).

      I’ve had good luck with gift certificates to a local hair/nail salon or favorite restaurant: because they’re specific to the recipient’s location and tastes, they feel a little less impersonal than Amazon or chain-store cards. Subscriptions to music or TV services are good, because even if the recipient has Spotify and Netflix, there are lots of popular shows and albums that aren’t on those platforms.

      In theory, tickets to a movie or performance would be perfect, but I’m 0 for 2 in that category. One person bought their own tickets shortly before the holiday, and one I basically had to tell what their present was so they wouldn’t waste the money. There’s a fine line to walk between something that’s out of a person’s wheelhouse and might be unappealing, and something that’s so much in line with their interests that they’ll see it right away.

      (Oh wow, I’m wordy tonight. Sorry about that–procrastinating on work by gift shopping and reading AAM.)

    13. matcha123

      I don’t “have it all,” but I can’t spare space. I also have a few friends in a similar position (ie- living in large cities where space is limited). When I buy things for them, I try to buy treats they would enjoy, but don’t have easy access to. Or, if it’s a thing, then I try to look for a thing that I know they will use for a long time and enjoy.

      A lot of times we look for a present to fill the role of a present. Sometimes that’s fine, but in this kind of case, even a box of nice chocolates/tea/coffee/etc. is a great gesture.

      1. Heartlover

        Depending on where you live (and how severe your winter’s are), I’d get them gift certificates for a car wash. You could get a book for a series of washes or one certificate for a complete detail to be used after winter is over. I’ve had great responses to this. I’ve also given car emergency kits as gifts.

    14. Katie the Fed

      I bought re-usable produce bags – they’re great and a good gift for anyone with an environmentalist bent :)

  17. Carmen Sandiego JD

    Does anyone else have teeth particularly sensitive to the cold? (Not achy, mind you, but merely, well…sensitive?)

    This week, there’s been a noticeable temperature dip. Also, I had an apple (acidic) and black coffee (also acidic), used a different rougher toothbrush, and whitener toothpaste. I switched to a gentler toothpaste/brush, sip coffee via straw, and stopped having apples for awhile, and it’s (sensitivity) slightly lingering for the past 4 days. I do tend to grind teeth on occasion, but I haven’t been stressed lately (*knockonwood*) but I do wear a retainer/guard.

    Advice/tips/suggestions?

    1. acmx

      I use sensodyne pronamel rec’d by my dentist. I tried Colgate’s version but it wasn’t as effective.

      You might want to visit a dentist, though to see if it’s something more serious.

      1. Nina

        This, on both fronts. I’ve used Sensodyne for years and it works great. And they have a good range of products (whitening, gel vs paste, etc). But my dentist also told me that my teeth are particularly sensitive right now because they need to be cleaned, so it never hurts to check first. :)

    2. Canadian Natasha

      I live in a place that gets pretty cold in winter (average of -25 celsius plus this lovely thing called windchill which can make it effectively 20 degrees colder) so I’ve had the occasional cold-related tooth sensitivity. But mostly I find it’s the whitening products to blame- even the gum that supposedly whitens your teeth gives me pain issues. It took a week or two to wear off after discontinuing use. No tips, really, (sorry) just commiseration. :(

    3. Aam Admi

      My tooth used to be sensitive most of the time (not just to cold) and I traced the cause to whitening toothpaste and asthma inhaler (steroid one). I stopped using the whitening toothpaste. Once I started using a spacer with the inhaler, the tooth sensitivity is gone. I wear nighttime retainers once a week but they do not seem to cause the sensitivity.

    4. Stephanie

      Yeah, I do. Less cold and more sweet things (but sometimes really cold things are painful to drink). Like acmx, I use Sensodyne products. I avoid any products with whitening capabilities. Definitely make sure you’re going to the dentist regularly to see if it isn’t some deeper nerve damage. You might just be “lucky” and have particularly sensitive teeth.

    5. Pennalynn Lott

      I have used Gel-Kam (stannous fluoride) off and on over the years when my teeth get sensitive. It’s a gel that you brush on (using your toothbrush) and then let it sit for one minute before spitting it out (no rinsing). It kinda hurts when it first goes on, but by the end of the minute it feels like my teeth have been embraced in a warm hug. :-) That, plus brush gently and use Sensodyne.

  18. A Non

    My husband’s job at a museum involves working with teenage volunteers, and all the adult volunteers bailed today, so I’m keeping him company. I love that the museum is for an era when women needed chaperons for various things, but here I am chaperoning my husband. The burden is now on men in positions of authority to avoid compromising situations, not on young women to restrict their activities. Yay!

    1. Thinking out loud

      I like that. I had a teacher in junior high who would refuse to be alone with students and it took me years to understand what he was doing.

      1. Stephanie

        I went to office hours for the class I’m taking. I was about to close to the door and the (male) professor is like “Knowing you, I know you’re here to talk about class stuff. But just to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, I always keep the door open, especially with female students.”

        1. Elizabeth West

          Yeah, the first time I ran into this, I was really surprised. But I went to school first during a time when nobody really did that. #old

          I understood it, of course, but it was still a little weird.

  19. Texas day trip?

    I’m in San Antonio for a week for a conference and will have a day and a half after the conference ends to myself. I think I’ve explored everything there is to do here. Any recommendations for day trips elsewhere in Texas? I could hire a car (although am a little nervous driving on what would be, for me, the wrong side of the road), but places you can go by public transport or do tours would be great too (& perhaps easier/safer). Thanks!

    1. the gold digger

      “Public transit” and “Texas” are not words you hear much in the same sentence. :)

      In the Central Texas area, there are a lot of neat places, but you will need a car. The LBJ ranch is very interesting. Fredericksburg is a cute little town. Enchanted Rock is nice. Austin is great, but the traffic there is so overwhelming now that you might not want to tackle it. (But it looks like you can take a bus from San Antonio to Austin – from there, you could take the city bus around, although my brother says that sometimes, it takes him an hour to get to work on the bus – but maybe that was just during SXSW?)

      In Austin, here is what we do:

      1. Fiesta grocery store just because it’s fun
      2. Eat at Chuy’s or at Threadgills or at Green Mesquite BBQ or all three.
      3. Go dancing at the Broken Spoke on South Lamar
      4. Tour the capitol building
      5. Walk around Town Lake
      6. Watch the bats come out from the bridge over Town Lake at dusk
      7. Watch the sun set from the Oasis on Lake Travis
      8. Go to Central Market and sample your way through

      I am making myself homesick.

      Have a great time!

    2. Tex

      Austin is fun! Live music capital. South Congress, 6th street at night, 4th street for a less crazy experience. Broken Spoke if you want to dance two step (they have lessons first, not sure what time); don’t need a partner, just ask people if they want to dance. Warning: it is an older crowd with some hipsters intermingled, but it was on that list of 1000 things to do before you die. 365 things Austin has a whole list. Beware if it’s game day at University of Texas (a lot of traffic and a lot of burnt orange clothing).

      Eat along the barbecue trail…must line up at 9am in some places. Google for the most popular places.

      Hamilton Pool and Enchanted Rock for easy hikes. It’s not the season to go tubing in the river, unfortunately. Central Texas is beautiful and full of little towns settled by German and Czechs. I’m not sure if they have Christmas markets. If you want to do (serious) outlet shopping, then San Marcos outlets are big….as in 4 mall sized areas on two sides of the freeway.

      If you had more time, I would suggest west Texas, what most people imagine all of Texas looks like. I love Marfa, but it takes awhile to get there.

      Pick up a copy of Texas Monthly magazine at a grocery or bookstore; it will have up to date happenings (festivals, etc) in there. If you mean you will have time this coming weekend (Thanksgiving), a lot of places might be closed for the holiday, crazy traffic all around.

    3. Aisling

      Also remember that you can drive for a day and still be in Texas! If you’re doing any research on your own, make sure to check the driving time to any areas. For example, Amarillo and El Paso would be too far away (both are 7.5 hours from San Antonio). Austin would be great!

    4. TL -

      You can also pop down to corpus Christi (traffic will be much lighter!) and check out the Lexington, the Texas state aquarium, north padre, the small art museum that I can’t remember the name of.
      It’s not as cool as Austin but there’s enough for a day trip and the traffic will not be awful anywhere.

  20. Amber Rose

    I deliberately did not go to either of my doctors appointments this week. I’m done with “smart” people who have all the humanity, empathy and sense that my toaster has. No, I’m actually not ok with the “I dunno, let’s cut you open and look around” method of diagnosis. FFS.

    Facebook is full of racism. The news is full of despair. The weather is cold and miserable. I’m always in pain. Christmas is a non starter, as I’ve had negative dollars in the bank for two months and it’s not changing soon. Is there anything to feel happy about anymore?

    1. nep

      The AAM community.

      Sorry to hear you’re having such a rough time. Here’s hoping for better days ahead.

      What has helped lift you up in the past?

    2. Future Analyst

      Yeah, Facebook has been terrible the last week or so. I’m trying to steer clear and do something productive instead. Don’t know if this is an option for you (don’t know how much pain affects this), but when I start to get down about the world and the cold, I try to get my apartment organized and cleaned up. There’s something soothing about clearing things out, and I inevitably find things I can donate, which helps with feeling like everything isn’t terrible.

      1. catsAreCool

        Sometimes I unfollow people who are too political. Really makes facebook more relaxing!

        Do sites with cute animal pics make you feel better?

        Sounds like you’ve had some tough luck with doctors. There are better ones out there, but they’re not always easy to find.

    3. knitchic79

      Awww hugs hun. Yeah the book o faces has been especially grim the last week. I’m sorry things are so rough for you right now. Pain management is such…well a pain, my MIL deals with this and this time of year is always tough.
      I honestly don’t know how to just find happy…but if you’re open to good things I do believe they will find you. I’m pulling for you, and I’m sure everyone else here is too.

    4. Clever Name

      Oh honey. *hugs* We’re moving into the darkest time of year. Lots of people feel this way, so you’re definitely in good company. Doctors are only human, and some humans are jerks. There are doctors out there who are nice people.

    5. misspiggy

      Cute Overload is a failsafe short term cheering- up option.

      Longer term, I think having as many treats as possible is important when life is tough. Almost anything can count, especially if it’s slightly outside your normal routine, and you focus on appreciating the experience for itself, not thinking about past or future. I love a seasonal treat, whether it’s watching fireworks videos in November (UK) or saving up spoons for an hour’s blackberry picking in September. These also help remind me that natural cycles and human culture have survived terrible times.

  21. nep

    Anyone in / around Houston going to the world weightlifting championships? I’m watching bits live here and there when I can. Great stuff.

    1. the gold digger

      I was just in Houston for my college reunion last weekend and in the same hotel, I think, with some of those people. There was some kind of weight-lifting training camp going on with participants from eastern Europe, Turkey, and Egypt.

      They all smoked like chimneys! We would walk out of the hotel into this cloud of smoke! Maybe athletes from that part of the world train differently from here?

      1. Anon for This

        Probably not – you don’t need to be in the greatest cardiovascular shape (or really cardio-shape at all) to be a phenomenal and strong weightlifter!

  22. Road Trip

    Going on a long road trip and need recommendations for prolific authors. I enjoy pretty much any mystery/sci-fi/fantasy. So far I’ve read all the Poirot novels (seriously, all 90+ of them), Sherlock Holmes, Peter Whimsy. Sci Fi wise I’ve read all of Asimov, Bradbury, Vorkosigan, Liaden, and Ender series. Fantasy I only recently got into and have gotten through Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, ASOIAF, and LotR/Silmarillion.

    Sorry for the super long list but any help would be much appreciated!

    1. Magda

      Alexander McCall Smith and his Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series. A bit of mystery and lots of humor. Very prolific author, literally dozens of titles to enjoy!

    2. Elkay

      Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant novels is good. A policeman who works in modern day London dealing with magic and supernatural crimes.

    3. Delyssia

      Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series comes to mind–21 books available. She also has another mystery series I haven’t read.

      1. Alice

        I love Pern! Thanks for reminding me. Dragonflight was my first, it and Dragonquest are the ones I always recommend for my friends who don’t know Pern. Also Dragonsinger/song/drums are a fun trio for a quick read.

    4. AnotherFed

      Glen Cook – he has a fun fantasy detective series about Garrett, P.I., as well as The Black Company series, which is fun epic fantasy that’s got entertaining characters. He’s got a ton of other novels in smaller or stand-alone universes. People who like Glen Cook tend to like Stephen Erikson, but I never got into Erikson’s books.

      If you liked the Vorkosigan books, try Bujold’s fantasy works, especially the Chalion series.

      David Weber is another fairly prolific sci-fi/fantasy author. His stuff is also characterized by memorable characters, but I’d tend to say they’re more beach reading – you remember Bahzell because he’s kind of nuts, not because he makes you seriously think about racism, even though that’s a pretty strong theme in the book. You can also get a lot of his ebooks for free on the Baen website.

      L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is another good sci-fi/fantasy author with a large number of books.

    5. Aussie Teacher

      Rosemary & Rue, One Salt Sea etc – bunch of awesome fantasy books by an Irish author whose name I forget (just google her).

      1. Penelope Widdowson-Bonefat

        Seanan McGuire — she’s American, actually! And incredibly prolific; if you start with #1 in the October Daye series, Rosemary and Rue, the writing takes a sharp upturn in quality after book 3-4, and just gets better from there. (Alas, skipping books 1-4 is doable but a lot of plot points are set up there, and seeing them pay off later in the series is immensely satisfying.)

      2. skyline

        That would be Seanan McGuire! This is her Toby Daye series. My usual disclaimer is that the first book is okay, but nothing special, but it just gets better and better as it goes on. You do have to read it in order since each one builds off the one before. McGuire is one of my few auto-buy authors. She also writes science fiction/horror under the name Mira Grant. I have a soft spot for the Newsflesh series that starts with Feed, but her Parasitology series is excellent as well.

        If you like epic fantasy, try Kate Elliott. All the epic scale of series like ASOIAF, but with complex women characters and especially layered depiction of cultures. I usually recommend that newbies start with her Crossroads Trilogy or her Spiritwalker Trilogy.

        Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. I don’t recommend starting with the first one, The Colour of Magic, since it’s one of the weakest. I’d suggest starting with Mort or Guards! Guards! to get more a feel for the world.

    6. knitchic79

      Wheel of time…starts out by Robert Jordan and after he passed Brian Sanderson finished it. I’m on the last one (14 books akkk) and it’s just a wonderful story.

    7. bassclefchick

      Well, if you want prolific, you really can’t go wrong with James Patterson. LOL. Love his stuff. He has several series (Alex Cross, NYPD Red, Private, and many more) and lots of stand alone books. He’s a really fast read for me (like, if my husband leaves me alone I can start AND finish one on a Sunday), so I’m glad he’s prolific! I just started his Confessions series, which is really Young Adult, but I’m enjoying them.

      And I’ll never get tired of recommending Outlander. I know several people here can’t get into this series, but if you want an adventure story that you can’t rip through in an afternoon, you can’t beat this one. LOVE me some Jamie Fraser!

      Laurell K Hamilton (Anita Blake) and Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunters) are also pretty prolific. Though the Anita Blake series is a bit (OK, a LOT) on the kinky side.

    8. LizB

      Terry Pratchett – fantasy/humor, 40-odd novels
      Neil Gaiman – fantasy/horror, 10-ish novels and tons of short stories (I actually like his short fiction better than some of his novels)
      Jim Butcher – urban fantasy series with 15 books so far (although I and many others recommend skipping the first 2 or 3), history-inspired fantasy series with 6 novels, just started a steampunk series
      Robin Hobb – fantasy, 15 novels in a shared world
      Scott Lynch – fantasy, only 3 novels so far but they’re so good I have to recommend them
      Barbara Hambly – 60-odd novels, spread among sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction, and mystery; I especially recommend the Benjamin January series (historical mystery) and the Windrose Chronicles (fantasy)
      Sheri S. Tepper – 30-odd novels, far-future sci-fi that sometimes feels like fantasy because it’s so far in the future
      John Scalzi – 12 novels, good light sci-fi (I love him as airplane reading)
      Lois McMaster Bujold – you’ve read Vorkosigan already, but I also like the Sharing Knife series (fantasy), and hear good things about the Chalion series

      1. Lindsay J

        Also, if you like audiobooks I really enjoy the audiobooks for Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. James Marsters narrates them and he has a very pleasant voice.

    9. Elizabeth West

      Emile Zola! He has a twenty-novel cycle–Les Rougon-Macquart series. I am still trying to get them all. The French Naturalist style is not difficult to read, and Zola liked lots of vivid detail. My favorite and the first one I read was Nana,, about a courtesan who destroys everything she touches. My auntie loaned it to me on my first trip to London (there was a show on the telly of it too) and I read it constantly on the tube.

    10. Saucy Minx

      Jasper Fforde’s series — any of them. Start w/ The Eyre Affair, first in his Thursday Next series. He is inventive, well-read, & so funny I laugh out loud when reading his books.

      1. Nother Name

        This! Also, since he’s a British author, I found some new things to read that I had overlooked as an American. (How did I not read Rebecca before my 30s?)

        He also has a short series on the Nursery Crimes Division, which I find highly amusing.

    11. catsAreCool

      I mostly read cozy mysteries. I have read most of Agatha Christie’s books and liked most of them.

      Here are some cozy mystery writers that I recommend:
      Donna Andrews writes fun mystery books with bird themed titles. Krista Davis has a Diva series and a series with animals, which are both fun.
      Emily Brightwell, Jessica Beck, Laura Bradford, Sheila Connolly, Carola Dunn, Betty Hechtman, Sofie Kelly, Joyce and Jim Lavene, Amanda Lee, Richard & Frances Lockridge, Virginia Lowell, Jenn McKinlay, Sofie Ryan, Leann Sweeney.

      1. Brandy in TN

        I loooove the cozy genre. Most people don’t get it. And when I was in Books A Million last time I was asking where they moved the cozy books to and they looked at me like I was crazy. My favorites are Krista Davis, Dixie Lyle and Christy Fifield. looove them

    12. kimmyontheinternet

      Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy is amazing and science fiction-ey. Book 2 was a bit of a slog but 1 and 3 are absolutely incredible.

      Also, William Gibson’s Neuromancer is one of my favorite books ever. The first ever cyberpunk novel, and I feel like I get something new out of it with each reading.

    13. FatBigot

      For sci-fi/fantasy I suggest Charlie Stross’s Laundry series. Another novel of his which is very good is Rule 34.

    14. oranges & lemons

      I’ve really been getting into Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series lately. It’s a series of mysteries set in a small village in 1950s England featuring a dark-minded 11-year-old chemistry protegee. Very funny and entertaining–I think there are about 7 books in the series so far.

    15. Belle diVedremo

      If you like Hercule Poirot and Peter Wimsey, have you tried Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books? They’re set in 1930s NYC, Wolfe is a gourmande detective with a passion for orchids, and has a side kick named Archie Goodwin. One of Archie’s lady friends is Lily Rowan, who posts here sometimes.

        1. Nother Name

          I just started reading Gladys Mitchell’s work. She was about contemporary with Christie (about 10 years younger). It’s a little darker, and some of the psychological explanations are a little “off” from a modern perspective, but I’ve been enjoying them. The Saltmarsh Murders has a narrator who is clearly a tribute to PG Wodehouse.

    16. Algae

      I listen to a lot of audiobooks, so here’s some suggestions for good to listen to.

      I discovered I like a lot of books narrated by John Lee. Two of my favorite books are narrated by him and they’re very different. Jasper Fforde’s Shades of Grey and China Mieville’s The City and the City are two very different novels, so listening to him do both was neat.

      Have you read any Connie Willis’? To Say Nothing of the Dog is hilarious. It’s the second in her Oxford Time Traveling series, but very different from Doomsday Book.

      I just started The Lady Darby mysteries by Huber – there’s about 7 of them. Early Victorian murder mysteries about a woman who is shunned by society because her husband was an anatomist and forced her to be his illustrator. Needs to solve the murder to show she wasn’t the murderer as everyone suspects…

      And, not prolific, but the audiobook is great; The Martian is fantastic.

  23. Florida

    Alison, I have a comment about the new website feature. I like that it remembers to collapse the comments. I prefer them to be collapsed, so the old way sometime frustrated me.

    In the new way, if I am reading a comment that is about 50 comments down, and I post a reply to it, the website will take me back to comment #1. I think it used to keep the screen down at #50. Is there a way it can stay where you were in the comment reading? I know this is very nitpicky, so if you can’t do this, I understand. Thanks.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Yeah, that’s the drawback! It can’t take you back to a mid-thread comment because in the collapsed format, those aren’t visible. They’re not displayed on the page, so it can’t bring you there.

      Because of that, I’ve made it optional. If you don’t mind that side effect, you can check the option to have the site remember your preference, but if you hate it, you can leave that unchecked.

      1. could be anyone

        I like the new option as I prefer the comments collapsed. While a little annoying to go back to the beginning after commenting, for me it’s not a lot different then commenting and then going back up to collapse all and then have to look for where I was.

      2. Florida

        Darn it. I guess we can’t have everything the way we want it. I’ll have to try the new way for a few days before I decide if I like the new way or the old way better. Thanks.

  24. Audiophile

    AAM travelers: is it easier/cheaper to book a flight directly with the airline or are the deal sites (expeidia, booking.com, etc) better?

    Thinking about going to see my best friend in Fort Myers in January. Dates would be 14-18, plus/minus a day or two.

    1. Lore

      I generally do research on the aggregator sites and then once I’ve figured out options, check on the airline sites. Sometimes it’s cheaper but I haven’t yet found it to be more expensive. If you’re also booking hotel or car then Travelocity has advantages but for flights alone I have been told the airlines are much more inclined to help if there are any delays or missed connections if you’ve booked through them.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I usually find Orbitz (I almost exclusively use Orbitz) to be about the same as the airlines, and my credit card gives me 2% cash back from Orbitz anyway, so bonus for me! Anyway. I don’t know where you’re traveling from, but get those tickets NOW. January in southwest Florida is “the season” and flights can be quite pricey.

    3. Sunflower

      Any deals I’ve found on these sites are the same prices the airline lists. I think once or twice I’ve found something insanely cheap. If you think something might come up that would cause you to have to make changes to the flight, book through the airline. I’ve canceled many flights within 24 hours of booking(these are outright fully refundable, no questions asked) and every time the airline has told me that if I had booked through a third party site, it would be 100x harder to do this.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Agreed, I had a flight get cancelled and had booked through Expedia and they could not (or would not) help me. I ended up calling the airline anyway and got charged $200 to reschedule even though they had cancelled it. Thanks so much, United, whom I don’t fly anymore. :P

        1. Lindsay J

          Yeah if you book things through expedia, priceline, etc, the hotel, airline, etc literally cannot help you.

            1. Lore

              Although I will say, the one time I had booked a package through Travelocity and had to cancel because of Hurricane Sandy, Travelocity’s customer service was utterly fantastic and dogged at pursuing reimbursements for me. The airline was fine with reimbursing Travelocity to reimburse me because, well, they canceled the flights and all the airports were closed for some time. But the hotel wouldn’t budge–Travelocity stayed on them for a solid week, until I finally told them to give up because I’d spoken to the travel insurance company and they were prepared to write me a check without any hassle at all. (It was a total fluke that I’d purchased travel insurance–I had a family member who’d been ill a few months earlier and I was worried something else would go wrong–but boy, did it turn out to be a good call. So, if you’re going with one of these sites, you might think more seriously about purchasing the insurance. It was less than $100, I think, and it got me $700 back almost immediately.)

              1. Elizabeth West

                I’ve never used Travelocity, but for both UK trips, I definitely purchased insurance. Especially the autumn one, with all those train tickets. Lucky for me I didn’t need to use it. If I go to Europe next year, I will do the same.

        2. Violetta

          That’s so weird! I recently rescheduled some flights with United after a mistake by another airline caused them to cancel my flights – and they didn’t give me any trouble about it even though I booked through another agency and it wasn’t technically their mistake.

    4. Noah

      I would always book directly with the airline if I have the choice. If you book on an alternate site the airline can and often will treat it as a travel agent, which is fair because the site is generally receiving the travel agent commission. In irregular ops, like bad weather delays or a cancelled flight, the airline agents can tell you to call your travel agent and work it out with them because the airline has paid them a commission and part of that deal is that they have to do any rebooking.

      I’m still a gate agent part time, and I’ll generally tell the people booked on travel agent itineraries to step to the side and call their travel agent. If they can’t get in touch with them or can’t get it worked out through them I will help them once I work through the line of people in front of me.

      1. Noah

        I like to use google.com/flights to look for flights but once you select the flight it will take you to the airline’s page to buy it. The only annoying thing is you have to check Southwest separately. Although I generally avoid Southwest for a variety of reasons.

    5. SL #2

      Book with the airlines directly, but use matrix[dot]itasoftware[dotcom] for price comparisons. It’s a flight route aggregator from Google that gives you every available flight/combination of flights to get you to a destination, along with real-time prices.

      1. Audiophile

        Google Flights is interesting. I’ve been tinkering with it. The biggest obstacle is I want to leave from Westchester (HPN) rather than go to the city. (I live upstateish and going to the city would mean taking the train down city). Last time I took this trip I left from HPN at 6:30pm, had a layover in Atlanta of an hour (which of course wound up being longer with the plan getting off late after taxing on the runway) and didn’t arrive in FL until midnight. I’d prefer to go nonstop but that means leaving at an ungodly hour of 6:30 in the morning.

    6. kimmyontheinternet

      I almost always use Kayak or Momondo because they help me decide when the best time to buy is. I’ve never had trouble with airlines when I’ve booked this way, but you can go directly to the airline’s site via the aggregators if you’re worried about it.

      So, I’m actually a travel blogger and do a fair amount of traveling, and just finished a series about budget travel and knowing how to get the cheapest airline tickets. Hopefully some of you might find these useful, as I shared some of my tips with friends and they were like, “No way! We didn’t know about that!” :)

      Using flexible dates to get the best prices: http://www.plethora-etc.com/travel/traveling-on-a-budget-be-flexible/

      Using the Explore map to travel anywhere in the world for cheap: http://www.plethora-etc.com/travel/traveling-on-a-budget-ready-set-explore/

      Using fare prediction to decide when to buy: http://www.plethora-etc.com/travel/traveling-on-a-budget-know-when-to-buy/

      Hope this helps!

    7. Kimmy Gibbler

      I usually use Orbitz or Expedia, because when booking airline plus hotel you can often get a very significant discount vs. booking flights and hotel separately. But, as others have said, the downside is if there is a flight issue. Also, sometimes you can’t choose seat assignments in advance if you don’t book directly through the airline. I just got back from a trip to Europe where I was smugly happy with my Expedia savings, until I ended up paying a lot of extra money directly to the airline in order to be able to select/secure aisle seat assignments in advance (not upgrading or moving even to economy plus seats, just for the privilege of saying “I’ll take seat 33C” b/c I desperately didn’t want a mystery middle seat on transcontinental flights). Wiped that smile right off my face!

      1. kimmyontheinternet

        That’s so weird! It wouldn’t let you choose the seat during check-in on the airline’s site? That’s what I usually do after booking through Kayak or another aggregator. Or was it that it wasn’t far enough in advance and by the time you could do that, no good seats were available?

        If you’re willing to risk it and wait until the day of, oftentimes you can go up to the flight desk and ask them to switch your seat to a window or aisle on the day of, or try calling as well. I’ve had fairly good success with both (and have never had to pay any money for it.)

  25. Sourire

    This is why you don’t make holiday plans with people you just started to date. Ugh…. (I hate dating around the holidays). So if any of you remember, I have been really questioning the physical chemistry with the new guy I’ve been seeing the past few weeks. I’ve now decided I’m done. It’s just not going to happen… However, we had thanksgiving plans and he seemed so touched when I initially brought it up that I feel like I have to at least wait until after that to break things off. So now I’ve been in this holding pattern and will be for about another week and it stinks.

    Should I just do it now? Either way I’m so not looking forward to it. He seems so into me/excited about this whole thing and I feel guilty/like a jerk and am super stressed out about it. I feel like if I say I just want to be friends that seems cliche, but in this case it’s really true. I like everything about him/spending time with him, except that there’s just nothing there chemistry-wise.

    1. danr

      Keep Thanksgiving … and an open mind. You might be surprised. Or not. If you were just friends, you could still share Thanksgiving, but it’s easier this way.

    2. Soupspoon McGee

      Oh, I know the guilty/jerky feeling!

      Talk to him now. I’ve done it the other way, holding off until after a holiday or birthday or sad bump in his road. It just made me feel more unhappy or even resentful, and it made for a crummy (or not awesome) time. And he figures it out. It’s okay to tell him how you feel and offer to keep plans as friends or take a breather.

      And if you need a script, I’m still friends with the guy whom I told, “I think you’re a great guy, and I’d like us to be friends, but I don’t feel the romantic relationship is working for me. It’s me, not you!” It still sucked, because he was hurt and disappointed, but because I could point to specific things I really did like about him, it felt a little less personal.

      Besides, he can spend Thanksgiving commiserating with friends/family/Netflix and get over the heartbreak sooner.

    3. Pennalynn Lott

      I agree with the advice to break it off now. Or to just tell him how you feel and let him decide if he wants to do Thanksgiving as just friends.

      I once broke up with a guy with whom I just wasn’t “feeling it” a day or two before Valentine’s Day because it was clear (A) the holiday meant more to him than me in terms of our relationship, and (B) he was planning something big. Years later he thanked me for that, because it kept him from making a fool of himself [his words]. He was going to give me his grandmother’s pink diamond ring. (Not as an engagement ring, but just as a gift because I’d admired it). I’m so glad I didn’t just try to grin and bear it through the holiday because it would have been much more awkward if he’d presented me with the ring.

    4. catsAreCool

      Carolyn Hax tends to recommend being honest about it when you’re sure. If he finds out later that you went through the whole Thanksgiving thing waiting to break up with him, that might make it feel worse.

    5. Sourire

      Thanks so much to everyone so far. I’ve been so stressed about this it’s literally making me sick. My stomach has always reacted very badly to personal stress – it’s rather ironic really since I have a crazy stressful job and that’s fine. So I suppose for both our sake’s it’s better to do it sooner rather than later. It’s just hard, hard anyway but moreso because we have a lot of mutual friends/acquaintances and the like, and so if he doesn’t take it well things will be awkward for a while… Anyway:

      Danr: Regarding the open mind- I did try that for a couple weeks. Hoping it was nerves, or possibly being scared a commitment or some such thing, but it hasn’t gotten any better. It’s gotten worse. I dread kissing him and can’t wait til it stops, so clearly this is not fair to him at this point.

      The others saying I should break it off now: We don’t actually have plans to see each other in person before thanksgiving and I feel like this is definitely an in person kind of conversation. Do I have to make plans just to break up with him? :/

      1. misspiggy

        I’d agree with the others saying end it now, which means a phone call. That’s fine if you can’t meet up in person. If he then wants to meet to talk it over, you could do that once.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          I agree, I think a phone call is fine. I have always preferred that method because it allows me to save face. The other person doesn’t have to watch all the emotions cascading across my face, and I can start crying (if I feel like it) the very second I hang up the phone. (Instead of having to hold it together for awhile longer if I’m in a public place).

  26. Cool Bean

    Hi everyone!

    I’m going to Disney World and Wizarding World next week (yay!!). Any recommendations of fun stuff to do for someone who hates roller coasters?

    1. bassclefchick

      Most of the cool things at Wizarding World are roller coasters! But Diagon Alley is really cool to wander through and see all the shops. Really get the park to park pass so you can ride the Hogwarts Express in both directions! Worth the price of admission just for that!!!! In Hogsmeade they have a ride that goes through the castle. You can just do the castle tour and skip the roller coaster part, you just have to tell the attendants that’s what you want to do. The butter beer and pumpkin juice were AWESOME!!!!! Really, if you’re any sort of Harry Potter nerd, you can’t go wrong here. My husband I and mostly skipped the rest of the park and just did the Harry Potter and the Simpsons stuff.

      The world showcase at Epcot is probably my FAVORITE part of the whole place. I could spend hours there. Spaceship Earth isn’t a roller coaster. It’s still a ride, but it isn’t a thrill ride.

      Hollywood Studios is more about shows than rides. As someone who LOVES roller coasters, it was a bit boring for me, but it will probably be perfect for you!

      Downtown Disney has all the shops and restaurants you could possibly want. And most of the restaurants there will accept your wrist band if you’re on the dining plan.

      Just a brief overview for you, but I hope that gives you a start. Enjoy your trip!

    2. Nicole

      For what it’s worth, I hate roller coasters but really enjoyed Disney’s, even the intense Aerosmith one at Hollywood Studios. The coasters at the Magic Kingdom are much tamer, though. You might be pleasantly surprised how fun they are (I highly recommend Big Thunder Mountain Railroad).

      But if you really would rather not give them a try, these rides are fun –
      Teacups at Magic Kingdom
      Toy Story Mania at Hollywood Studios
      Test Track at Epcot
      Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom

      Non-ride related fun – watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks and electric water parade from the beach at The Polynesian Resort (if you’re staying on Disney property you can resort hop to any other resort). The Polynesian is really nice and picturesque, particularly at night.

      Have a great trip!

    3. catsAreCool

      I enjoyed walking around Hollywood Studios, looking at the set up. Epcot Center is amazing. Animal Kingdom is also very impressive.

    4. Liz

      I live at Disney, so I can definitely provide advice there.

      The best thing about Disney is that is is a show, and has some of the best shows there are.

      Magic Kingdom–
      Dream Along with Mickey – a 20 minute stage show in front of Cinderella Castle. There are about 6 performances a day and it is amazing.

      Festival of Fantasy – the 3 o’clock parade. My favorite thing in all of Disney World.

      Main Street Trolley Show – right now it’s the holiday version. Before noon down mainstreet. Very fun.

      Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom – an interactive card game that takes place around the park. A good way to pass some time between rides.

      Then there are the non-coaster rides: Haunted Mansion, Little Mermaid, Small World, Peter Pan are my favorites.

      Show-attractions: Tiki Room, Carousel of Progress, Hall of Presidents, Philharmagic, Monsters Inc Laugh Floor.

      And of course there is Wishes, the fireworks show.

      Hollywood Studios–
      Very light on rides, but several shows. A great atmosphere park. And you will be there at a great time to catch the Osborne Lights in their last year.

      Epcot —
      The most grown up park. Future World has Soarin and Test Track as the headliners, and then Mission Space (skip if claustrophobic) and Spaceship Earth (the giant golf ball)

      World Showcase is a great way to spend an afternoon. Different countries featuring local foods, shops, and entertainment. The path around the Showcase is just over a mile, and there is a bunch packed into that area.

      Illuminations is an amazing nighttime show which showcases the history and future of the world.

      Animal Kingdom–
      Lots of people think this is a half-day park but I absolutely love it. There is a safari, exploration trails with different animals, 2 stage shows (Festival of the Lion King – the best show there is – and Finding Nemo), Dinosaur is a fun ride but very shaky, plus the different themed areas of Africa, Asia, and Dinoland.

      If you are wanting to shop, check out Disney Springs. They are in the process of expanding and have a ton of Disney and niche shops.

  27. Fosterama

    I’m the almost-foster parent who’s question was posted the other day. A few people wanted to do a free-for-all chat about foster care. I’m happy to check back and answer any questions I can.

    1. Little Teapot

      Hi you! I got chastised (rightly so!) the other day so let’s keep it here! I forget what I asked haha. So have you been told about the foster to adopt? Is that common? What’s the strike rate? I only ask if someone went into fostering with that frame of mind in Australia I’d be all HA GOOD LUCK as that *does not* happen in Australia at all.

        1. Little Teapot

          Right well I didn’t mean to come across that way. As I said I am not familiar with the USA system and the way it was described sounded a bit racist to me. But absolutely made sense the way Alison described it. Additionally I was curious about fostering to adopt as that doesn’t happen in Australia either. It’s incredibly hard to adopt here (either locally or internationally) and if you signed up to foster, that’s what you be doing – fostering. Nothing else. So again I was just seeking information and asking

          1. ivorygirl

            Little Teapot, you might find this link helpful: http://www.adoptuskids.org

            Some context is that non-relative domestic adoption is (I understand) a lot more common in the U.S. than it is in a lot of other First World countries. Why this would be, I don’t know, but I’ve seen extensive discussions about how that is the case. Also, adoption of infants who are voluntarily placed by their parents is typically handled through private organizations such as adoption agencies and attorneys — government agencies are typically placing “children who have become wards of the state for reasons such as orphanage, abandonment, or abuse” (to quote another Website). Birth parents who are voluntarily surrendering their children typically get to choose the adoptive parents who will raise those children. These private organizations generally charge quite a bit to facilitate adoptions — in tens of thousands of dollars. Adoption through the foster care system (in which the government is typically initiating the process to terminate the birth parents’ rights) is considerably less expensive and typically has a much shorter wait time than adoption through private entities (in addition to providing the opportunity to give a home to a child who really needs one).

            There are foster parents in the U.S. who focus on fostering children — some are open to adopting them, some less so. But there is somewhat of a push in the system to avoid keeping kids in foster care indefinitely if it looks as though their parents of origin won’t be able to get their acts together, especially if said parents have issues that spill over into the criminal justice system. Not sure how that compares to Australia.

            Full disclosure: I have not adopted anyone myself. My spouse and I did wrestle with infertility, and I spent quite a bit of time researching our options, including adoption; however, we decided to hit up the scientists first as a faster option, and they came through for us. I hadn’t realized until I started doing research and reading blogs from around the world how distinctive the U.S. foster/adoption system is — it’s interesting how these things evolve.

            (Sorry, Fosterama, didn’t mean to step on your toes…)

          2. Nashira

            It is not racist to try and place children of color in homes of the same ethnicity. It’s about ensuring that the trauma of losing your birth home isn’t compounded by losing your entire culture too. You might benefit from investigating the experience of transracial fosterees or adoptees.

            1. fposte

              Though it’s probably not historically accurate to *separate* racism and adoption, either. Adoption’s been a very complicated thing culturally, and there has indeed been emphasis on some pretty weird degree of ethnic matching in the past, especially with infant placement.

              1. Little Teapot

                Hi Sam, thank you for that link but as I mentioned on the original post I work in social services and am well across the Stolen Generation – it’s a pretty core part of any social work degree in Australia, as well as culturally-sensitive practice models and in-house training at work so I’d like to think I know a little more in-depth than Wikipedia!

            2. Anon and on and on

              It sounds like Little Teapot originally interpreted fostermama’s comment about her ethnic background being “highly desirable” as the government saying “People of this ethnicity are better parents than people of that ethnicity,” which of course sounds racist. A more correct interpretation is that children often do better in homes with similar ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and the American foster system has a high volume of children from certain races and ethnicities. So parents of certain ethnicities are more desirable because the need is greater, not because the system actually prefers one race/ethnicity to another.

              Nationally, only 42 percent of foster children are white, while the majority of foster parents are white. So I would imagine that black and Hispanic foster families would be in demand in most communities, and some communities might also have a special demand for Asian or Native American families. It’s all about the population being served.

              1. Little Teapot

                Anon and on and on, that’s exactly what happened, thank you for identifying it! And for more clearly explaining what Fosterama meant. :D

            3. Little Teapot

              Absolutely, I wasn’t aware that was the background information, I was just going by the original comment which didn’t have that further clarification.

              And I totally agree with you.

              In Australia for example we try and place children of Aboriginal decent with Aboriginal carers to foster that cultural connection however that’s more often than not possible due to high numbers of Aboriginal children in care / low numbers of Aboriginal foster carers.

            4. Little Teapot

              Hi Nashira, as Anon and on and on commented down below I did in fact read what Fosterama said the wrong way, and I have admitted that.

              I am fully aware that its almost always the best to try and place children with the same cultural background that they are. :)

          3. Fosterama

            Your argument was that race shouldn’t be a factor in adoption placement. But your concern isn’t that Black or Native people are being passed over to adopt white kids, right? Your concern is that Black or Native people (Aboriginal in AU) might get to jump the line ahead of white people to adopt kids who share their ethnicity and culture.

            It’s not racist that Black or Native parents may have a shorter wait than white parents, it’s simply a recognition that it is often in the child’s best interest to be parented by people who share their culture and can raise them to understand the racism they will face in their lives.

            1. Little Teapot

              I wasn’t talking about adoption placement when I said this:

              I am also wondering about you being a ‘highly desirable’ home for children. As I said I don’t know the USA system so are you able to explain that to me? You said its due to your ethnic background – does that mean for instance USA services decides that say all Italians are highly desirable? What ethnic background are you if you don’t mind me asking? I am curious and wondering what that means! Is it a thinly-veiled way of saying social services is racist? I mean, as long as you pass all the checks and so on, surely it wouldn’t matter WHAT ethic background you are…

              I was talking about being ‘highly desirable’ in general to foster, and I apologize if that wasn’t clear. I merely meant that as long as Jane and Joe Smith pass all the checks and such surely it wouldn’t matter WHAT race they are – as in, what’s the theory behind ‘highly desirable’.

              But as you aptly described, of course there are more in-demand types of carers. I apologized if I missed that point initially.

              As I mentioned in another comment further down, I wholeheartedly agree with you. For example in Australia we try and place children of Aboriginal decent with Aboriginal carers to foster that cultural connection however that’s more often than not possible due to high numbers of Aboriginal children in care / low numbers of Aboriginal foster carers.

              At the end of the day, you’re doing a wonderful thing and hopefully this thread will encourage others to look into fostering too.

      1. Cristina in England

        FWIW, Little Teapot, I didn’t think your questions were rude. You stated several times that you didn’t know the US system and were asking because you didn’t know. I think questions about race are often perceived as rude by Americans when posed by non-Americans, who have completely different experiences of race. It is one of those cultural miscommunications I think (says an American abroad).

          1. Little Teapot

            Thank you so much ladies! I certainly wasn’t trying to be rude, I was just curious about another system.

            And you’re right, questions about race are often highly emotive and looked through with a different lens.

            For what it’s worth I applaud the fact that USA has seemingly higher adoption rates and there is this program in place. On the flip side, it often means in Australia that children are bounced from home to home for years with little stability when adoption could offer that. This is something our leaders are looking into – whether they can make it easier to adopt – but its great that’s already in place in the USA.

    2. jmkenrick

      I would love to hear more about the process! I very much would like to adopt from the foster system one day, but I’m afraid I’m kind of ignorant about the process…and I really don’t trust the way it’s often portrayed in the media. I’m going to pepper you with a few questions if that’s alright!

      – Is the process expensive at all? I know “traditional” adoption can often be very expensive, but I’m not sure how that fits into fostering.

      – Do you have anyone within the system who works with you and who helps makes sure you understand potential challenges, etc? Or is it a more bureaucratic process with lots of different departments and forms?

      – Do you know anything about the process of being “matched” (for lack of a better word) with the foster children? I’m wondering how much the system takes into account the environment and the families when deciding where to place the children. I’m also wondering if you have the power to specify, for example, that you’d be happy to take in a sibling pair, or that you’re not ready to adopt a 16 year old but would happily adopt a 8 year old.

      – Does the child have any say in the situation? I imagine an, 11 year old, for example, would have a lot of thoughts about if they wanted to join someone’s family or not. I’m wondering how their feelings are factored in.

      – Generally, how long is a child with you in a “foster-to-adopt” situation before the adoption goes through?

      1. sarag

        This isn’t exactly about fostering kids, but about adopting kids currently in the foster system. I’m nowhere near a point of either fostering or adopting, but a link came up (I think as an ad?) for the local adoption association and I was interested in reading about it because it specifically talked about adopting kids who are waiting to be adopted. My mum was adopted as an older (for the time) child, so the idea of it has always intrigued me. It might be worth looking into if your area has a similar program for kids waiting for an adoptive family.

        https://www.bcadoption.com/node/5180/

      2. Fosterama

        Adopting children from the foster care system can be done either as a traditional foster family, where you adopt a child who has been in your care and becomes legally free, or as foster-to-adopt, where you qualify as a foster family with the specific goal to adopt the child/children placed with you.

        Foster-to-adopt is generally free if you work directly with the state (at least in my state, they even pay the attorney fees to finalize), and very inexpensive if you work with a private foster/adopt agency for licensing and placement. The advantage of working with an agency is that they act as the go-between with the state, so the foster parent doesn’t have to sift through every inquiry.

        Trainings emphasize that the primary goal of foster care is to reunite children with their families. Unless a child has been declared “legally free” there is a risk that they could be reunited. Foster/adopt families can decide how much risk they’re willing to accept. Social workers can’t make promises, but they are pretty good at assessing that risk.

        Foster families can specify age, race, special needs, siblings, challenges, etc. Families who can take sibling pairs or trios are in high demand. Regarding race, foster training emphasizes the challenges that kids of color face and how foster and foster/adopt parents need to take steps to meet those challenges. People who say that they’re colorblind/don’t see race are discouraged from adopting children of color, because they will be unable to help a child face racism that their parents don’t recognize.

        Older children (13+) do get a say in their foster placement and adoption and have their own attorney.

        Time in foster care varies, but once the child’s case “goal” changes from reunification to reunification or adoption, I hear the average time is about 1 1/2 years.

        1. jmkenrick

          Thanks so much! It’s been interesting to read everyone’s comments around the issue. Best of luck with your new placement!

        2. Little Teapot

          Thank you that was very interesting! And very different to Australia. It seems we have something to learn to increase our adoption numbers.

    3. PearlyWhites

      I’ve never commented before on AAM (devoted reader), but your situation compelled me to– thanks for answering questions! Me and my fiancé are very interested in fostering/adopting/foster-to-adopting but are very new to the entire process. I don’t have any particular questions, I guess I’m just interested in what your experience has been so far, how you knew what was right for your family, etc…

      For background, me and future-husband are both still pretty young (26), white, living in the second largest city in the US, and are about 5-7 years away from being emotionally and financially ready to be parents. I have always had an interest being a mother, but am ambivalent about pregnancy and babies. For that and a million other reasons, me and future-husband feel like we might be really good candidates for foster parenting …but we’re clueless about where to start…any insight is appreciated!

      1. Fosterama

        For a first step, find a foster-adopt agency in your city and go to an orientation. Or look into becoming a CASA volunteer (someone who meets with and advocates for one child during the court dependency process – often the only person who stays with the case the whole way through.) Or look for other volunteer opportunities, like gathering clothing and toys for kids (YMCAs often run these programs at Christmas) or tutoring or Big Brothers/Big Sisters (not foster care focused, but still awesome). There are tons of ways you can help before you feel you’re ready to parent.

  28. Mimmy

    Can’t believe it’s almost the end of 2015 already!!! My class has another 2-3 units to go, and I have two papers coming up – one that’s 12-15 pages and due in about a month, and a 4-6 page paper to be assigned in a couple of weeks.

    Heading up to Boston on Wednesday for Thanksgiving weekend with my 19-member family. Thank goodness my sister has a large house!! (DH and I will be staying in a nearby hotel though – we don’t like all that noise 24/7, lol). Looking forward to seeing everyone though. My family has a lot to be proud of this year, and I want to celebrate that.

  29. Little Teapot

    Cat people – spraying for unwanted behavior. It seems half the Internet is for and half against. What say you, wise AAM community?

    My cat is 11 and I’ve had her 1.5 years. Lately, in the last few months, she is attacking me left right and center. Some is my fault ie if I touch her belly for too long she’ll bite or claw me. But other times for no reason at all. Take 10 minutes ago. I was in bed, hung up my phone and was adjusting my phone alarm. She’s sitting half a foot away and for some damn reason decided to attack me. I have a huge scratch on my middle finger which is about a centremeter above ANOTHER scratch on that same finger she did last week. It hurts so much! I am so sick of it. I have a scratches on my chest, my arms, hands, fingers, feet. She’s a typical old and crabby cat (all she does is sleep or hassle for food, doesn’t like toys) but this scratching and biting is out of control.

    My next idea is a spray bottle (water only). Thoughts?

    1. Trixie

      Has she been in recently for check-up? If she’s feeling crappy, it may manifest in grumpy behavior. Or more grumpy than usual. Or is she eating enough, or maybe mix up her diet with more canned food? Both my cats will be more aggressive when they’re hungry. AKA, hangry.

      1. Little Teapot

        She’s been to the vet four times in the last three weeks – definitely not a health issue :)

      2. Little Teapot

        Oh, I can’t change her diet. Medicated food for crystals. But she likes it – her only complaint would be larger quantities!

    2. Allison Mary

      If you have Netflix, or TV with the Animal Planet channel, I highly, highly recommend the show called My Cat From Hell, with Jackson Galaxy. You can also search for some of Jackson Galaxy’s books and I think he has a website somewhere devoted to this kind of stuff.

      1. catsAreCool

        That’s a great show.

        Maybe your cat wants more playtime? Cats can act aggressive when they are really trying to play.

        1. Allison Mary

          True! Aggressive often equals a need to hunt something – this is something I learned from Jackson Galaxy, as mentioned above. :)

        2. Little Teapot

          I like that theory but she just hates that. I’ve purchased so many toys over the last 1.5 years and most gather dust under the couch. She is just not interested. And on the rare occasion I get her interested in a bell/feather on a stick, she plays for 1 minute then gets bored and walks away. I do wonder about boredom in general but I don’t know how to combat that if she isn’t interested! I even tried a ball with holes for treats and she was not interested. At all. Didn’t play with it once despite me playing with her with it, showing her the treats inside etc. You’d think she be motivated by the food but no!

    3. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t think spraying is going to work for that kind of behavior (and I’m not a fan of it in general). I’d actually recommend clipping (not de-clawing, which is hugely inhumane) her claws. If she’s not amenable to nail clipping, there’s a little trick my spouse and I just recently came across where you can use a hairclip to clip the scruff the neck, and the it makes the cat go a bit limp and be a bit better about clipping.

      1. Little Teapot

        I always get the vet to clip whenever we go, but they’re still sharp and grow back so fast! I tried once, about a month ago, but accidentally cut too deep and made her bleed :/ not doing that again. Plus trimming is prime for her to attack you!

        1. WinterE

          Do you have a scratching post for her? That can help wear them down some. But even with that, you’re going to have to get her claws cut more frequently. It’s not too hard not to cut too far, you can see on the claw where the blood starts. And if you’re really unsure, just take off a small amount. As for attacking, my cats hate having their claws cut, and are always trying to bite me when I do it. So what I do is I try to get them when they’re at their most sleepy/docile, and cut as many claws as I can before they get sick of it. Sometimes that’s five and sometimes that’s one, but eventually I get them all. Another thing that can work, if you can get someone to help you, is to scruff the cat, which will hopefully stop her moving for the course of the cutting. That works wonders on my mom’s cat, but it doesn’t work for everyone (my cats are weirdly scruff resistant.)

          But if you’re not willing to learn, can you get someone else, maybe a groomer of some sort, to do it for you? I addition to causing you main, the claws getting too long can also cause problems for your cat, as she’ll start catching on things as they get sharper and more hooked. And the claws can also grow so much they can dig into her paws, which is quite painful.

          1. Little Teapot

            She doesn’t like scratching posts! I’ve purchased several in different shapes and stuff and she doesn’t look at them at all. Hates them. I would pick her up and plonk her on one and she would bolt. I’d encourage her to lean against it and scratch and again, she would run away. She claws at the carpet currently (which is fine, we are in a rental which is going to be bulldozed for apartments at some point in the future so she can ruin the carpet if she likes).

            I tried to clip last night while she was asleep and I managed to get majority of her back nails! And no bleeding! But I couldn’t touch her front :/

            1. fposte

              Sounds like she’s a horizontal and not a vertical scratcher–that’s pretty common. I’d consider getting her some nice scratching mats, especially if you ever expect to live anywhere else with her.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      Huh, I never knew it was controversial. I always heard that it was better to use a water gun so that they don’t know that it’s YOU that’s punishing them, they just associate the undesirable behavior (e.g., scratching the furniture) with something they don’t like, but it’s hard to get that separation if you’re talking about aggression.

      I find that a combination of reading their signs and caution usually keeps me from getting scratched, but if I had a cat that started attacking randomly I’d probably hiss or clap really loudly, those both work well, too. But if this is a recent change, is it possible she’s not feeling well? Our cat started hissing at us when her knees hurt.

      1. Little Teapot

        That is great advise for when I am annoying her ie too much belly rub. Her tail will flick. She never hisses or anything. But the random attacks, like when I was on my phone, I have no warning. It’s just me doing a normal activity and BAM she’s there. A week ago I was *getting into bed* and as I lifted my leg up she pounced. It’s so frustrating. Sometimes I admit if I try to rub her belly or otherwise harass her I understand she gets shitty. But when she’s otherwise just sitting and chilling, and im keeping to myself, there’s no way to predict.

        1. Trixie

          I had another senion cat that would behave kind of similar. If he was on teh bed I was trying to make and I straighttened the sheet or covers, he’s growl/attack my hand. If he was layign on my lap and tried to move, he would become aggressive so I learned to slide away in a certain way he didn’t find threatening. And I absolutely wouldnt’ think of touch his belly, just those previously approved areas and even then, there was a time limit.

          1. Nashira

            One thing that can help with the covers/sheets is teaching them a codeword. I started getting my cat’s attention, then clearly saying “going for a ride!” before slowly adjusting the quilt. Now I can make the corrections more quickly, because she knows what “going for a ride” is – she actually will adjust how she’s laying so she doesn’t feel off-balance while the quilt moves, or she’ll dig at the moving wrinkles.

    5. fposte

      Ouch. I’m wondering if there’s a risk of it making things worse, though; if she’s feeling defensive, which would be one reason for that kind of behavior, that might convince her she’s right to feel that way.

      What’s her demeanor when she does it? Is she hissing mad, playing out of control, something in between?

      1. Little Teapot

        She doesn’t hiss. If it’s a random attack she’ll either jump away and run after or be pushed away by me. Sometimes she comes straight back for more other times she walks away and when she returns is 100% calm and happy. It’s just the strangest thing. Fair enough if I provoke her by rubbing her belly too much – in which case her tail starts swooshing in that ‘I’m getting angry’ way cats do – but most often it’s zero to 100 in two seconds for seemingly no reason.

        1. blackcat

          Zero to two seconds could definitely be a play/pounce type thing. My cat does this to some of his toys* and it seems to come out of no where. He suddenly runs, jumps, attacks, and runs away.

          *The “toys” that are out and around the house are hair elastics and zip ties. He loves both. So very much. Typical “toys” aren’t his thing, with the exception of a very few toys like Da Bird (my earlier comment referenced how great many recommendations on amazon are), which require a human to use them. He randomly attacks hair elastics and zip ties, which is great for getting out energy. So maybe you can try to find “toys” that she likes that may be random household objects. Jackson Galaxy talks a lot about how sometimes, you need to accept that you live in a space that a cat also lives in. Along those lines, we have these “toys” everywhere on our floor. We do clean up before guests, but we live with a bit of a mess that makes the cat happier.

    6. Not So NewReader

      Just my opinion, but if my animal routinely hurts me, it’s going to get rehomed. Because of my strong belief this way, I am willing to try anything that is reasonable to curb the undesirable behavior. Yes, spritzers of water. Definitely. (I have not rehomed one yet, and it’s been over two decades of animals. Here’s to spritzers!)
      And please, get a check up for this animal. Explain the behaviors to the vet. If the vet comes up empty, then maybe consider an animal intuitive. Don’t continue to allow yourself to be scratched up by a animal, when you have no idea how they are infecting you. Not trying to be scary but this is not something to leave unchecked.

      1. Little Teapot

        I don’t know if I could do that :( but I get where you’re coming from. I am so sick of being mauled for no reason. I would understand if I was constantly harassing her but 90% of the time I’m not! I’m just sitting minding my own business and she attacks.

        She’s been to the vet heaps over the last month and she’s fine. He suggested pushing her off the bed or whatever to demonstrate its not okay. But that’s all his ideas. And I do that but it doesn’t do anything.

        1. Not So NewReader

          It doesn’t do anything because she thinks you are playing or rough-housing. Of course, I like my spritzer idea- I never squirt them in the face. I aim for a butt or a leg. It does not take long and they see me pick up the spritzer and the behavior stops. However, if the spritzer idea still does not set well with you, how about clapping your hands? I like this one because I don’t have to run and look for the spritzer. I can just clap my hands the very moment it happens.

          TBH, I am not a fan of your vet’s advice in this instance. We don’t teach other beings to be gentle by using force. (Important point- don’t skate by this. Animals tend to copy us.) I cannot see where pushing her away is going to help her learn how to be gentle. I have a malamute mix here, who was a very rough pup when I first got him. I dunno, it’s in his breed? I used calm moments (they were few and far between) to teach him how good it feels to sit together and cuddle. It took months and months and months….. I found out he LOOOVED having his “arm pits” rub. Who’d thunk. This wild child dog would fall asleep while I rubbed his arm pits. Then I learned that he would take a nap with me if a tiny corner of my afghan covered a part of him. (The weight of the blanket? Not sure.) Weird stuff worked. It took a lot of sorting to get to where we are now.

          One of the bigger helps I found was to bring him to a vet who practices Eastern Medicine. They have a variety of herbals that are very effective in calming. And your animal does not have to stay on the herb forever and ever. She also told me not to feed my dog chicken. OH BOY! That led to such improvements!

          I am really concerned about the scratching leading to a health issue for you. Please take care of you, also.

      2. Nashira

        I would strongly recommend Jackson Galaxy or another animal behaviorist, and their reams of science, over someone claiming to be a pet psychic. One of these groups of people can help and the other can’t. Plus, Jackson is a pretty engaging guy.

    7. Cruciatus

      What about trying something like Feliway? It’s a pheromone that’s supposed to help chill cats out with all sorts of behaviors. If something is stressing her out (and with cats, who knows what it is. Maybe the house smells “weird”, maybe the coat rack is scary looking. Who knows?), maybe it will help. Our vet gave us a sample wipe once though I think it normally comes in a diffuser.

    8. blackcat

      Does she have places that she can hide, either down low (blanket under a bed) or up high (cat tree with ramps, since she might not be able to jump)? Do you play with her regularly?

      My current cat is a sweetheart and on the very rare occasions he looks like he’s going to attack, it’s that he gets to aggressive when trying to play. All I have to do is wiggle a toy and BAM he pounces on that instead of me. He’s not young (9ish), but he needs significant amounts of play time each day (~20 minutes of actually running around). If he doesn’t get that, he’s more likely to get cranky (like me, when I don’t exercise). So perhaps boredom/lack of play is a problem for her. I know you said she doesn’t like toys, but have you tried many different ones? Amazon is great for this–I’ve bought the best selling cat toys (in particular “Da bird”) and had great luck with them (you don’t need to buy from Amazon–you can often find the same stuff in local pet stores. I just rely on the reviews). A final suggestion is to give her puzzle feeders for her dinner. Again, you can find a bunch on Amazon. I have one called the fishbowl that my cat really likes.

      1. Little Teapot

        Yep, she LOVES my wardrobe and will often hide in there, particularly if I’m vac’ing the floor as its noisy and it scares her. She’s also found that sweet spot directly in the centre of my bed, under it, where she can be and I can’t reach her haha. She also enjoys the windowsills.

    9. skyline

      How much do you play with her? If you don’t play with her regularly, or play with her on a irregular schedule, you might try setting up a very regular play schedules where you interact with her with a wand toy like Da Bird. If there’s a time of day when this behavior happens, I would schedule the playtime for that time! Your cat may need an outlet for energy and aggression, and playtime will give her something she’s allowed to attack and bite.

    10. Cat person

      I’m going to say this in the nice way possible, which still isn’t vey nice:

      If your cat is behaving this way, it’s because you’re doing something wrong. In some way, you’re failing as a pet owner. You don’t seem to be taking responsibility. Instead, you’re blaming your cat. If you can’t be a good pet owner, give your cat to someone who can. Not a shelter, because that’s equal to putting them down. If you think you’d like to try improving as a cat owner, get advice from a vet.

      Sorry to be harsh; I just hate when people fail as pet owners and blame an innocent animal.

      1. Allison Mary

        I see where you’re coming from, and I think I agree with where your heart is at, but in the interest of motivating the OP with compassion, I would phrase it slightly differently:

        To OP: If your cat is behaving this way, it’s because she’s having a need which is not getting met, and she needs you to figure out what it is and resolve it for her. If she could talk, she would probably ask you to be patient with her, and to keep working with her, and to stick with it, even if it seems frustrating. Remember that she is an individual, with her own personality and her own needs, and she is completely dependent on you to get those needs met.

        I know I’ve commented on this thread a couple times already mentioning Jackson Galaxy, and a few others have as well – and he’s really the way to go, because he tends to talk about misbehaving cats in this very way. He approaches them with compassion, understanding that they’re simply needing something they don’t have the power to articulate themselves, and he helps their humans understand what that need is.

        And be patient with yourself, OP. So long as you’re continuously trying to understand your cat and what her needs are, you’re definitely not failing. :)

        1. Allison Mary

          Oh, and I hope it’s obvious that when I say “OP” I’m referring to the original author of this comment thread – “Little Teapot” :)

        2. Little Teapot

          Thanks Cat Person and Allison May. As I said I’m not going to give her up or quit trying; this is me asking for help! I am mystified at this behaviour and am trying to sort it out. As I’ve mentioned previously on this thread she doesn’t engage/enjoy play so I will admit we don’t play that often. And that’s not for lack of trying; I do, she just doesn’t enjoy it. Whenever I’m home we engage almost all the time, if I’m on the couch she’ll curl up beside me, or when I go to sleep she’s spooning me, curled up in my stomach while I lie on my side. Then she bats me to wake me up in the morning haha.

          Cat Person, I appreciate your candour. People who feel strongly for animals rights are top in my book! It’s important to give those a voice that can’t do it themselves.

      2. Perse's Mom

        As someone who worked in an open admission county animal shelter for 6 years: No, and then no again.

        Cats have brains. They can be ‘wired’ wrong just like people. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes behavioral training, sometimes both, sometimes neither. OP’s cat may be manageable with some work, but it doesn’t automatically make the OP a terrible owner if the behavior is either unmanageable in the long run or the OP just can’t handle it.

        And I sincerely hope your opinion on shelters is due to this particular cat’s behavior (random aggression is indeed not going to bode well for Kitty’s chances at anything but a no-kill shelter and those are unlikely to take a cat with a history of aggression to begin with) and not an opinion that shelters = death sentence in general.

        OP: If kitty was to the vet 3 times in the very recent past, was it all for this new behavioral problem, or is it related to something medical? If for the behavior – well, not all vets are created equal. Might be time for a second opinion. Sudden changes in behavior could be associated with something medical the first vet hasn’t considered (neurological problems)?

        Some dogs get destructive if there’s no appropriate outlet for their energy – maybe try to tire Kitty out? Try Feliway – it doesn’t work for every situation, but there are people who swear by it. Kitty prozac is a thing that exists, also.

        1. fposte

          Agreeing. This is an animal that had ten years of life and habits before she joined Little Teapot’s household; what seems like something new to LT may just be Cat reverting to ten years’ standard of behavior. It’s not about innocence or guilt; it’s about whether we can work together to effect a desired outcome. (I also think vets are a crap shoot on behavioral advice.)

          I umpteenth the suggestion to test-drive a buttload of different toys. You might also exaggerate your pain response when she gets you even the slightest bit–really yelp and back up. Cats generally learn to calibrate based on responses; even after ten years she might figure out that she’s being too rough.

        2. Little Teapot

          Perse’s Mom, thank you. Yes she had a whole other life before me. She had a friend (who obviously was separated from) and enjoyed a quiet outside life whereas now she is an indoor cat. From those respects, she seems to be handling the change remarkably well.

          Dropping her at a no-kill pound is the very last option, I am no where near that place yet. If that’s 100, I’m hovering at a 5. I am recognizing there is a problem and I’m trying to solve it.

          My cat had a full blood/urine check at the vet and then a few days later randomly stopped eating. So we went back, and then I had to force-feed her for a few days until she started eating again. The vet wasn’t sure why she stopped eating as she had a full clean bill of health merely a few days prior. The aggression has been no worse since the medical checks – just an ongoing issue.

          I might try Feliway:)

    11. Harriet

      I have never tried water so can’t comment on that. I’d second Feliway and also and hissing at her when she hurts you though, to see if that helps. I once read that hissing is how kittens let each other know that they have hurt each other when play fighting, and it works like magic on my cat when she goes into attack mode.

      1. Windchime

        Cats are a lot smarter than many people think. They can learn the meaning of words. My old cat knew quite a few; NewKitty knows: No, GetDown, [his name], ComeHere, and Supper. He is only three years old, so I imagine he will learn more as time goes on. No, he doesn’t know as many as a dog but he still can learn.

        I think OP’s kitty sounds like she needs to hunt more. I can tell when mine isn’t getting enough “hunting” playtime because he starts stalking me….hiding behind curtains and doors and jumping out at me when I pass by. I had to google “Da Bird”, and discovered that this is the toy my cat LOVES. The bird flying through the air sounds like a real bird. He needs a good 10 or 15 minutes of really active play with this toy at least several times a week. I think this sounds like it would help your cat.

        Also…don’t rub her tummy. She is telling you that she doesn’t like it.

        1. Little Teapot

          Hahaha she enjoys a good tummy rub – but this can go for a ten second session before she’s over it or I can absentmindedly rub it for a whole duration a TV show while I watch the TV. It just depends on her mood.

          I will look up Da Bird!

          It’s funny though, she doesn’t typically care about chasing animals. Sometimes if there’s a moth or spider or fly or whatever I’ll try and encourage her to get it but she just doesn’t care. I’ll pick her up, plonk her in front of it and be all LOOK AT THE FLY KILL IT FOR ME! and nothing. She wanders away. Meanwhile my sister’s cat can’t get enough and will full on stalk and kill a spider/fly and enjoy every second of it.

          1. Windchime

            Cats are so funny, aren’t they? Some really enjoy the hunt and others don’t care at all.

            She sounds like a really interesting character :)

    12. lfi

      hmm – does she have toys or other items she can get her aggression out on? kitty scratcher? (if you have a trader joes near you mine love the double wide cat scratcher). A pouncey toy or something like a feather on a wand for her to jump around?

      now if someone has an end all fix all for my cat who won’t poop in his box.. then we’d be set. ;)

  30. AvonLady Barksdale

    US-based AAMers! What are your Thanksgiving plans?

    We’re going to Florida to have dinner with my cousins. I am SO excited, because last year (at my bf’s parents place) was a damn disaster. My cousin’s wife has been asking us to come for Thanksgiving for three years, so we’re going. My parents and grandparents will be there too, and there will be excellent food and amazing wine. My cousin’s wife emailed me four times asking me to tell her what bf’s favorite beer is, despite my insistence that she not go to any trouble. She is lovely.

    I have also been swamped at work, so Thursday cannot get here fast enough. Blerg.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I should also add that we have POST-Thanksgiving plans– every year we go to Whole Foods and raid the post-holiday sale section, where I can usually get vegan stuffing mix at a huge discount, among other things. I make a Thanksgiving-style meal with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes… it’s a lot of fun.

    2. Stephanie

      My grandmother and great-aunts are going to cook. They aren’t very good cooks (not much into seasoning things), so I may pre-eat before we get there. My grandmother’s knees are also getting way worse–she needs knee surgery, but won’t get it for various reasons (some valid, some not-so-valid). My mom has tried several versions of “You really don’t have to!” to no avail.

      I might do a turkey trot that morning (although there isn’t much worry of overeating, ha).

      And then I’m working Friday and Saturday because yeah (you guys know where I work).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Can you sneak a packet of good salt in with you? Or a mini bottle of Tabasco? You poor thing.

      2. Stephanie

        Oh hi, incomplete thought. I meant to say, my grandmother’s knees are getting way worse, so it’ll also be a little cringeworthy to watch her hobble around the kitchen, preparing dinner (I’ll try and help out as much as she’ll let me).

        1. Clever Name

          if it won’t sound absurd (as in you’re not an expert cook already) ask your grandma to teach you how to make her recipes….while she sits down and you do all the work. ;)

          1. acmx

            I like this idea! Even if Stephanie is practically a gourmet cook, this is a good bonding time – plus she can sneak in some seasoning.

    3. Mimmy

      Spending Wednesday till Saturday in Boston – my oldest sister has been hosting Thanksgiving for about the last 10 years, so my parents, my siblings and their families, and me and my husband all go up. All 19 of us!!! My sister has a large (awesome) house, though, so it works out really nicely. DH and I usually stay at a nearby hotel – no room, plus we both like to have time to ourselves away from the noise (more for me, though, because i’m prone to sensory overload).

    4. Elizabeth West

      I’m not going anywhere, so I will be doing the things listed below:

      –Skating (Christmas show is Dec. 12)
      –Finishing my dress for the Christmas show, if I haven’t already by then. It’s cut out, just not sewn.
      –Writing
      –Eye appointment on Friday so I took the whole day :)
      –Random cleaning/decluttering, and I MAY put up some holiday lights, though probably not the tree

    5. danr

      My wife and I host our family Thanksgiving. We’ve been doing it for about 10 years and have fun. We took it over from my parents when it became too much for them to handle. We have anywhere from 10 or 12 to 17 people. The family has grown in kids and spouses, but now some are starting to alternate with other families. Our menu is simple, turkey, either a pot roast or a rib roast for non-fowl eaters, a green bean dish, stuffing (all cooked outside the bird this year) and garlic parmesan mashed potatoes. A salad and cranberry sauce, desserts and stuff. Sometimes someone will bring another side. We say, yes!

      1. Not So NewReader

        heee-heee. I think I remember ALB posting about this. It was not. good. at. all. I am chuckling because it’s great to hear that she has a good plan for this year! I love it when people decide not to put up with bs.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Aw, shucks, and thanks! :)

          Basically, my bf’s stepmother treated us like complete crap. She didn’t greet us when we arrived. She yelled at us for talking in the kitchen with his sister. She said the most passive-aggressive “grace” I’d ever heard. Also? The food wasn’t great. And she refused to serve the wine we’d been asked to bring– wine we were really looking forward to sharing with his family during his (my bf’s) first Thanksgiving with his family in a very long time. Then we found out during Thanksgiving that his father didn’t intend to spend Christmas with us and hadn’t bothered to tell us until I (I, ME, the girlfriend) happened to ask what our (collective “our”) plans were for the holiday. We found out later that because her son hadn’t called her all morning, Stepmother decided to take it out on us. It wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever experienced, but it sure wasn’t fun.

          I am willing to put up with that kind of stuff for Christmas– my family doesn’t celebrate it so I don’t have any comparisons (though Chinese and a movie is a pretty fulfilling tradition). Thanksgiving? HECK NO. My family might be neurotic and ridiculous, but at least our food is always good.

    6. StillHealing

      This will be my first Thanksgiving Day in all 52 years of my life, I’ll be alone. I’ll probably just sleep all day.

      Still not divorced but hoping it will be wrapping up in the next 4 weeks. Son needs to work on Thanksgiving. Daughter is hosting Thanksgiving at her house on Saturday and I was invited to do Thanksgiving with friends out of town the day after Thanksgiving. So, I do have options. Thought about going to a nice restaurant by myself on Thanksgiving Day but should probably save my money.

      1. Not So NewReader

        When my husband first passed, I volunteered at a community dinner. I liked it so much I go every year now. What started as just something to keep me bumping along, has turned into something I actually enjoy each year. It’s a very cool group of people that is what makes it for me.
        What I am trying to say is- this is your year of firsts, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, all that. This is tough stuff. I hope you are able to build simple but doable plans for each holiday and I hope in years to come this gets easier for you. And I hope you have some nice things happen for you this Thanksgiving.

        1. StillHealing

          Thank you so much for this. The thought did cross my mind to volunteer but physically I’m struggling and can’t be on my feet long. Just got a Disabled Parking Pass. I have resisted getting it for years but after a recent and bad fall, I decided to go ahead and get it.

          I definitely want to build some happy memories this holiday season. Start something new and/or just be spontaneous. I find my mind is once again dealing with the absurdity of a year ago and how my husband swore he stopped all contact with that old girlfriend and how he reassured me our marriage was solid and all. My brain is re-thinking everything that took place. Something was “Off” as soon as the old girlfriend tracked him down and began emailing him. The holidays were very weird. Husband did not want to put up our tree for the first time other than one year when we went to Florida for Christmas. My brain kept telling me, ” he’s behaving like a man who is having an affair” but then he’d be so reassuring. If I had trusted my gut and looked at the cell phone bill sooner, I’d likely have kicked him out before Christmas. Oh well…..

          I will make this year special for my son and stepdaughter.

    7. Noah

      I’m going to my parent’s house. I’ll be flying on Thanksgiving day, leaving at 6am (ugh). I’m excited to see everyone but hoping it not be a disaster of a holiday and weekend. My parents are having money issues, so my sister and I have conspired on how we are going to control the annual Black Friday shopping tradition with my mom. My sister is separated from her husband, so I’m not 100% sure if her kiddos or him are coming. Should be a fun time.

    8. fposte

      I’m going with family to a restaurant–it does a big Thanksgiving buffet deal, the people-watching is as good as the food, and it minimizes the travel and work for us.

      1. Elizabeth West

        When I lived in Santa Cruz and was alone on Turkey Day, I would go to this restaurant called Adolph’s–they did this HUGE buffet and I would stuff myself with ravioli. Loved it.

    9. Pennalynn Lott

      I’ll be spending T-day at my next-door neighbor’s house, just like I’ve done every T-day for the past 16 years. :-) They’re a 2nd family for me, and much of *their* extended family will be in town so there will be a huge crowd (30-40 people). This year Boyfriend and I will be making baked jalepeno poppers and from-scratch (no boxes!) stuffing.

    10. mondegreen

      No time to travel this year, but I’m going to Skype my parents and might put together a meal with some friends. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll get Chinese takeout and marathon West Wing episodes while getting some high-time-commitment, low-brainpower work tasks done. This year sounds kind of lonely on paper, and it is, but the sacrifice is temporary and worthwhile.

      When I was growing up, we had a big family gathering on Thanksgiving where Grandma served (amazing) chili and cornbread in lieu of traditional turkey-based dishes. We set up party games and treasure hunts with small prizes for the youngest generation, and the more creative minds would surprise us with skits or funny poems. I’d love to create an annual ritual like that someday.

    11. Perse's Mom

      Still not sure. Only just found out when the fam is scheduling dinner, but it’s tricky this year. Perse just went back on 2/day meds, so I can’t do the usual drive-up-spend-the-night routine (bringing her along is not an option). Which means I either don’t go at all, or I drive hours up, have dinner, and drive hours back… in the dark in deer season in the Midwest. My sister’s hosting for the first time this year, so I feel extra bad if I decide to opt-out… but she has more of an aging pet population than I do, so she’s not going to be judgey about it.

    12. Lily in NYC

      My mom is too far away, my sister is almost too far and has inlaws visiting, and my closest family is 2 hours away and annoying. So I fibbed to them and told them I have a friend in town and am just going to enjoy a 4-day weekend doing whatever the hell I want. I won tickets through work to sit in the bleachers for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade but I gave them to a coworker who is really into parades. I think I’m going to strip paint off a metal door, don’t be jealous!

    13. Emily

      I’m not sure! Either my aunt will invite me to their Thanksgiving (she hasn’t contacted me yet), or I’ll try to have a nice day with some friends who are also without Thanksgiving plans.

      I’m not opposed to option 2, but I feel like it’ll be hard to turn my aunt down if she does invite me, so I hope she says something soon.

    14. Persehone Mulberry

      We host DH’s family every year, 10-13 of us altogether. This would be the 10th anniversary except for the one year we didn’t because our stairs had become too much for DH’s grandma. We do the turkey/potatoes/stuffing and everybody else brings whatever strikes their fancy. I really should be cleaning my house right now rather than reading AAM.

    15. Menacia

      Just me and hubby cooking dinner together. We are always invited somewhere but I just wanted a really quiet, no driving, no dealing type of Thanksgiving this year. Christmas may turn out the same way. My relatives all live out of state, and so driving anywhere to see them on a holiday is my version of hell on earth. I drive all week on a very busy state highway, and so HELLS NO, I won’t do it when I’m off unless I absolutely have to. This after YEARS of always being the one to travel. If people want to see me, they can come here. Hubby and I don’t have kids, so we’re usually the last place anyone wants to visit, I guess adult conversation is beyond some parents. Fine by me.

    16. Mallory Janis Ian

      We’re going to have my brother and his wife and kids over for a 6:30pm dinner. We usually eat around 2pm, but muy SIL just started a retail grocery job and didn’t get off work until 5pm. I want to give her tune to get off work and get home and change clothes or whatever without feeling rushed.

      I tried to play Thanksgiving chicken (holding out on inviting them to see first if they’d invite us to their house), but I lost. I wanted it at their house because they have a small, rowdy child who would have his own room and toys at his disposal at their house. Our children are teenagers, so we don’t have a little-kid set-up any more. Plus our cat took a dislike to him when he was too high-energy in her vicinity one too many times, so now we have to be vigilant that she doesn’t bite or scratch him. She usually forgives people who irritate her and doesn’t carry over animosity for the next visit, but she has a grudge about him.

    17. brightstar

      My boyfriend and I are spending our first Thanksgiving together, so I am cooking and it will be just the two of us. I’m looking at recipes now, we probably won’t have turkey since it’s only 2 people and we aren’t big fans of turkey.

    18. Lindsay J

      I am meeting my boyfriend’s parents for the first time and having Thanksgiving dinner with them. I’m extremely nervous.

    19. hermit crab

      We’re having family Thanksgiving on Saturday this year because of my cousin’s college break schedule. Any suggestions for things to do on Thursday would be appreciated!

    20. Lady Bug

      At home with hubs, mom, 2 adult kids and their friends who stop by, and football football football!!!!!!!!

    21. Nashira

      We’re doing a partially store-bought Thanksgiving with my in-laws, so a whopping four people. I’m debating getting a card or board game to take with us, since Keep Talking And Nobody Explodes isn’t out on the PS4 yet and his folks can’t computer game.

    22. OfficePrincess

      I’m working Thursday morning, then coming home and eating …something to be determined with my husband. Friday I’m working a couple hours and then heading up to visit family. We’re having a big dinner with about 20 people Friday night. Saturday will be just visiting people most of the day and then my husband’s band has their album release concert that night. Sunday morning is a birthday breakfast for my grandmother and then we make our drive back home to make it to work Monday. This is crunch time at work so unfortunately time off is a challenge.

    23. SanguineAspect

      We’re doing a small Friendsgiving at our place for all of our city-dwelling friends who aren’t headed long-distance home for the holidays. It’ll probably just end up being 5-6 of us. We’ll do stuffed leg of lamb, a roast chicken, and some other odds and ends. I’ve very much been enjoying the “small holidays with my husband” thing since we’ve been together, when we can get away with it.

    24. Ada Lovelace

      Thanksgiving at my in-laws and a Potluck Friendsgiving/Game Night on Friday. It was supposed to be 6-8 people but 15 people have RSVP’ed and only 4 have responded with what they will bring. I am in the process of freaking out.

      1. kimmyontheinternet

        Sounds like it’s time to start sending good old-fashioned reminder emails (or Facebook messages)! I know what you mean, though. I hate it when people wait until the last minute to let me know what they’re bringing. :/

        I love board game nights and friendsgivings, though, so it sounds awesome!

  31. LizB

    I pretty much don’t wear makeup, but I’ve been thinking for a while that I should learn a bit about it and find some products that work for me so I have something to wear for fancy occasions and when the urge strikes me. I’m thinking about going to Sephora or a department store makeup counter and asking them to find me some good options and show me how to apply them — have any of you lovely commenters done that before? Any suggestions, tips, warnings, etc.?

    More background on my makeup collection and knowledge: currently, I have a powder foundation that provides very light coverage, loose powder eyeshadow + an angle brush that I use for eyeliner, one neutral eyeshadow that I like, and one lipstick that’s okay… and that’s it. That’s my whole look. Things I would want to ask about:

    – Blush. I don’t know how it works or what shades would look good on me, but I want to learn so I don’t look like a ghost if I put on too much foundation (I’m very pale).
    – BB creams/tinted moisturizers — I think they would be a good foundation option for me, but have no idea how to find one that matches my skin tone.
    – Lip color — I have no idea what shades would look good on me. I am intrigued by lip stains, but don’t want to pick one that looks awful.

    1. Stephanie

      I went to Sephora when I got my first post-college job. I wanted to look more polished. It was pretty helpful just because I had no clue how to do everyday makeup. I had to wear makeup for color guard in high school, but that was stage makeup.

      I’d say:
      -First, don’t be scared away if the makeup artist has seven shades of eyeshadow on. They like to play around with it, but anyway halfway decent one will be able to give you something that isn’t overly dramatic.
      -Be clear what you’re looking for and how much of a routine you’re willing to put up with. Be somewhat specific like “I’m looking for an everyday routine and a sort of natural look.”
      -They’ll try a bunch of stuff on you, but don’t feel obligated to buy all of it. You can just say “I only want the lipstick and blush, thanks” (be firm!). That being said, while the makeover’s free, I think there is the implied understanding that you will buy something.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        I went to Sephora when I was on holiday in the US a couple of weeks ago, and the deal is that the full custom makeover is $50, but that’s redeemable on product (so if you buy $51 worth of makeup, the makeover is free).

    2. Mimmy

      You’re WAY ahead of me!! Generally, I just do blush and lipstick for more casual meetings and events, and will also use foundation for evening or professional events. I just guess on what colors look good, lol. I don’t wear any eye makeup, though, because of my thick glasses.

      My now-husband got me a makeup lesson for Christmas years ago, and I remember it being helpful. However, she tried to sell me over $200 in makeup, which we were not anticipating. We felt so bad for walking out without buying anything, but we were naive at the time. Also, I lost the sheet that had all the color and makeup suggestions, and I’ve been back to square one ever since, lol.

      They say that you can watch YouTube videos for these types of things–my husband is always ragging on me about that–but I don’t find them helpful at all because I like to do something myself while someone is there making sure I’m doing it right. But you’re not me, so you may find YouTube videos helpful for you.

    3. Clever Name

      I like Bobbi Brown. She has modern shades but she really espouses a natural look. I love makeup, but I just can’t wear heavy eye makeup. Her blushes are nice and sheer but great colors

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      BB creams and tinted moisturizers are great to play with because they’re usually very sheer coverage and tend to “melt” a bit into your skin tone. There are lots of options to play with that work on many different skin tones, so you can find one that works with your general skin tone “family” and it should be fine–it doesn’t need to be an exact match. Sephora or Ulta are the best places to look at a whole bunch of different ones, or if you google “BB/CC cream” and whatever your skin tone is, “light,” “medium,” “olive,” and so on, usually a bunch of good suggestions will come up. There’s a beauty blogger out there with your skin tone, for sure.

      Lip colours are a ton of fun to play with! The most fun thing about them is that you’re almost never going to go totally wrong as long as you wear it with confidence. Lips are a lot about what kind of image you want to portray: a bright pink lip is going to be fun and playful, a deep red is going to be vampy and retro, a dark berry or dark colour is going to be kind of grungey and 90s, a nude lip is going to be more high-fashion-y, a bright classic red lip is going to be, well, classic. If you’re very fair you may want to start off with lips that are a tiny bit more understated if you’re anything like me and your lips naturally fade into your face, because a really bright lip can be a big change. But it’s one that can totally transform your face and your look!

      I’m going to link some things in the next comment. You don’t have to spend much money, either! If you fall in love with something expensive, google the name of the product and “dupe” and there’s almost always a reasonably-priced drugstore alternative.

    5. AlwaysAnon

      I would definitely recommend going to Sephora over a one brand beauty counter that way you are exposed to a variety of products. Have you thought about maybe looking at videos on youtube to get a general idea of makeup? I would recommend Lisa Eldridge if you feel like peaking around. She is a professional makeup artist and has a lot of simple tutorials that could help give you a general idea of things or what you may want to look for.

    6. Sourire

      If it’s fuller coverage foundation, match to your neck. If it’s lighter like tinted moisturizer or BB cream, you can get away with matching your jawbone area. Do not trust anyone who tries to match it to your hand/arm/etc. Run from that counter. Run as fast as you can.

      It would also be helpful to figure out if you are a warm, cool, or neutral undertone to your skin. Cool means you have more of a pink or blue tone to your skin and your veins look more blue. You tend to look better in crisp white and silvers. Warm means you have yellow or olive tones to your skin, your veins appear more green than blue, and you look better in creams and gold. A lot of brands have foundations that are specific to undertone so knowing this helps (though a good MUA (makeup artist) should be able to figure it out as well). This will also help with lipsticks, as you can see which shades veer more cool or warm. If you’re cool, blue reds would look better than orange reds and so on.

    7. Ultraviolet

      I went to a couple department store makeup counters when I was first getting into makeup. Both times I asked for a natural look but I really hated what I got–I thought I looked kind of fake and plasticky. The second time I followed up by asking for a bolder eye, but the consultant wouldn’t do it because she said I wouldn’t like it. (A second consultant caught me as I left and gave me a bunch of free samples, which was really nice and kept the whole thing from being a negative experience.) After that I decided to just get a bunch of drugstore makeup and try it out. That ended up working for me, and I now wear makeup most days.

      I’m not totally sure how I could have avoided being so unsuccessful at the makeup counter, but I suspect it would have gone better if the rest of my look had been more pulled together. I had little interest in style at that point either and my clothes didn’t fit great and my hair wasn’t cut well. I think the consultant thought she was wasting her time with me.

      I have tried a few lip stains, and a few balm+stain combos. For me, the stains tended to be a really different color on my lips than I had guessed from the packaging. They also ended up pretty dark even when I tried to apply them lightly, and that’s not my favorite look. The balm+stain crayons have worked really well for me though. The Covergirl versions are my favorite (I’ve only tried drugstore ones).

      I’ve heard that the color of the inside of your lip (what you see when you look in a mirror and pull your front lip down and out) is usually a good lip color for you.

      Don’t forget that most places, both drugstore-level and higher end, will let you return opened products. I’ll reply to this post with a link to an article I just found listing the return policies for a bunch of different retailers.

    8. Bekx

      Make sure you ask Sephora to Color Match you! They’ll put this scanner on your skin and then email you your shade and what your color is in different brands of foundation. I then go to findation.com and type in my results from that and find out what my color is in drugstore makeup.

      You’ll also want to find out what type of skin you have, if you don’t know yourself. Dry, oily, combination or normal skin. That will help decide what kind of makeup to wear. I have dry skin, so powders are pretty much out for me.

      I did the $50 makeover, and I really liked it. Ended up buying the Naked3 palette (making the makeover free). At my Sephora they only had one woman allowed to do makeup that day. You do want to make an appointment online, especially around the holiday season.

    9. Sunflower

      I went to Nordstrom- went to the Bobbi Brown counter and Nars. I chose to go to Nordstrom because they have a very lenient return policy and I wanted to be sure I could take anything back if I didn’t like it. Other stores might have similar ones but I would check before you go/buy anything. I also think it’s a good idea to try out multiple counters. A lot of people swear by MAC makeup and it doesn’t do much for me.

      The makeup artist shouldn’t just sell you things- they should be giving you advice and recommendations. For example, they shouldn’t just say ‘X lip shade is for you’, it should be more of a ‘Lip shades with orange/coral/deep reds work with your skin’. I love Bobbi Brown(esp tinted moisturizer) because the line is all about the natural look. I also have a Nars multiple stick that I love. I use it mostly as a highlighter on my cheekbones but it can be used on eyes, lips, face- anything!

      Notes:
      – PAY ATTENTION TO THE TECHNIQUE! I write this in all caps because I never do it and then I come home and put on the makeup and it looks nothing like it looked in the store. So make sure they explain to you HOW to apply the makeup, not just what to use.
      – If you go to a makeup counter you are expected to buy something but you don’t have to buy everything they use on you. In fact, you shouldn’t. Pick one or two items you really loved and buy them. You can always return them later if you change your mind. Plus they are pricey(the tinted moisturizer is $44)
      – Just because it’s high-end doesn’t mean it’s the best. I don’t wear a ton of makeup but my collection is a mix of high-end and drugstore.
      – If someone tries to sell you finishing powder- Beware! It makes your makeup look great but it can come up white in photographs so proceed with caution

    10. kimmyontheinternet

      Foundation: I really like MAC-brand foundation, and I think they recently came out with a BB Cream. I find it has great lasting power, and they won’t charge you at the counter if you want to get a color match from one of the employees or have them apply some on you.

      I also really like Everyday Minerals for a powder-based mineral foundation. It’s buildable coverage, more opaque than tinted moisturizer, but still subtle and doesn’t cake up. You can order it online (www.everydayminerals.com), and if you’re just starting out you can get a $1 custom sample kit so you can try the different consistencies and colors that you want.

      Blush: MAC’s cream-based blush is also really fantastic, sheer at first but buildable, and blends in like a gel rather than sitting on top of your skin and looking cakey like some powder blushes. The staff at the counter can help you figure out the best color for your complexion.

      Lip color: Some lip stains can dry your lips out a lot, and MAC’s definitely feel like they suck the moisture out of my lips. One of my favorite YouTube personalities (Grace Helbig) recommends Too Faced Melted Longwear Lipstick for a moisturizing, long-lasting option that lasts through eating and drinking. The “Melted Peony” color is apparently a nice pink. I haven’t tried it yet, but intend to!

    11. LizB

      Holy cow, thanks for all the replies, everyone! So much good advice and insight. I’ll take it all into consideration and report back in a few weeks. :)

    12. Stephanie

      Oh, another thing I just thought of. Not sure of your ethnicity, but I find the higher-end lines and stores have more options if you’re on the swarthier side. Probably obvious from my avatar–I’m black and couldn’t find a brown drugstore foundation that actually matched my skin tone (options were usually limited to Light Skinned/Biracial, A Medium Tone That Is Too Reddish, or Nubian). I’ve heard similar complaints from very fair-skinned friends (that the palest foundation was too tan).

    13. Mando Diao

      A lot of people like the Glossier skin tint. I personally think it’s the best option if you’re going the BB cream/sheer coverage route. The tint doesn’t have a bunch of weird ingredients that make it oxidize orange (my main peeve with BB creams and cheaper foundations). Glossier does exchanges if the shade isn’t right.

      I would suggest experimenting with filling in your brows. It’s a subtle change that does a lot to make you look more polished. I use a waterproof eyeliner pencil I got from Ulta when they had a 3/$9 sale. Think about whether you’d prefer a pencil, brow powders, or a gel pot/paint product. Sephora tends to push the Anastasia brow paint, so decide ahead of time if you’d rather test out other things.

      Since you’re pale, I’ll straight-up recommend Benefit’s Dandelion blush. It freshens you up but somehow doesn’t look like you’re wearing blush at all. L’Oreal’s Blendable Blush in Baby Blossom is almost identical and about half the price, if you like how Dandelion looks in Sephora. I apply with a fan brush, not a normal blush brush. It helps me to think of it as a highlighter, not a blush.

      As for lip products, I’m partial to Revlons balm stain crayons. They don’t smudge or feather, even when you eat and drink. My favorite shade is Smitten.

  32. Anonymous Educator

    Anyone else binging on Jessica Jones on Netflix? It’s very different from Master of None, but I’m hooked!

    1. Kate M

      Just finished episode 3! I love it so far. It’s dark and film noir-y, which I love. And I love Krysten Ritter. And David Tennant. And I love seeing him as a bad guy. A lot to love with this, so far.

      1. Allison Mary

        I just finished episode 3, too! I agree with everything you’ve said – I’m totally accustomed to Krysten Ritter playing the giggly “Gia” from Veronica Mars, but I really like her as this darker, haunted character. And, as a die-hard Doctor Who fan, I’m thrilled to see David Tennant in this, especially as the bad guy. I think he’s going to be absolutely brilliant!

        1. Ada Lovelace

          Oh I binged the whole series Saturday night. It is good. Everyone talks about how the Netflix shows are much grittier than the MCU but I find Jessica Jones to be much more realistic in a world that is constantly under attack. Also Tennant kills me. He is still charismatic but an uncaring sociopath and they use him well. His presence is there, a shadow over the whole series. Someone reviewed the series and mentioned Killgrave is what would happened if the Doctor turned evil ala John Simms’ Master/Michelle Gomez’s Missy.

    2. Bekx

      My first thought upon reading the description on Netflix was “So….Gia’s trying to be Veronica Mars?”

      It looks interesting though, and people seem to like it so I’ll probably check it out! I’m about to finish Gotham on Netflix and need a new binge watch show.

    3. skyline

      Haven’t had time to binge yet, but have watched and loved episode 1! I even re-started my Netflix subscription so I could watch it.

    4. Nicole

      Yes! Currently watching episode five. Very good so far! Already finished Master of None which was quite entertaining. Hope there will be a second season!

    5. LBK

      Watching episode 9 now. Loving the show, much more than Daredevil, which I couldn’t finish. Killgrave is such a creepy villain but not in the usual way comic book villains are creepy, which is refreshing. Jessica’s a great protagonist and I really like all the supporting characters, too – I especially enjoy the way they organically weave in side plots about the rest of the characters in a way that fleshes them out without distracting too much from the main story.

    6. SanguineAspect

      My husband JUST finished it; he’s been binging while I worked this weekend and he SO highly recommends it. I’ve only been able to catch snatches, but I’m LOVING Tennant as a seriously evil bad guy.

    7. NacSacJack

      Watched Ep #1 & #2 yesterday. Not exactly happy with how dark it is. Why is everything new so dark? Gotham, Arrow, Jessica Jones, Bionic Woman reboot? And why aren’t we seeing more of her power? She’s Marvel’s most powerful mutant. She can fly. Why aren’t they showing all her powers?? Thrilled they got Luke Cage in there!!! That was totally cool.

      1. LBK

        Is she supposed to be that powerful? I thought she just had super strength and used to be able to fly but can’t anymore since she’s out of practice (at least according to Wikipedia). Either way, I kinda like that she’s not uber powerful since it means every episode doesn’t basically boil down to “figure out which person we need to beat up, then go beat that person up”. She fights a lot more in self-defense and uses her powers mostly to break into buildings.

  33. Treena

    Advice for non-tangible Christmas shopping!

    I’m looking for US-based websites that sell experiences meant to be given as gifts. I’ve posted before about how to convince people to not give us “stuff” as gifts, and the resounding advice was to set the example, which I ‘m really excited to do, but it’s been difficult to find them.

    Groupon was my go-to, but a lot of the activities have black-out dates, and other restrictions that I don’t love. If you got a Groupon as a gift, and it had date/time restrictions, would that bother you?

    1. LizB

      It depends how restrictive the restrictions are, I guess — if I work M-F and the activity can only be done on one Saturday a month because the rest are blacked out, I would be annoyed. If it’s more like I can’t go on Thanksgiving or between Christmas and New Year’s but any non-holiday days are fair game, that would be fine.

      I’ve gone with LivingSocial and Amazon Local (which is sadly shutting down) for these kinds of gifts before, as well as just getting gift vouchers through the business/organization that provides the experience. You have to know what kind of experience you’re looking for, but if you google something like “Paint and Sip [City Name]” or “Wilderness Adventures [Region Name]” you should find plenty of businesses that offer those services.

    2. Stephanie

      It’d bother me if it were restrictive. I also always feel a little guilty/cheap using a Groupon (I can’t explain why). I’d also make sure it was convenient to your recipient–if the restaurant or whatever is in some far flung neighborhood or town, it might be a hassle to the recipient.

      Personally, if you see something you like via Groupon, I would call the business and see if they give gift cards or package deals. I know a lot of those places offer Groupons just to get more business, so they may be willing to work with you directly to avoid Groupon.

      1. Treena

        Yes, that’s the other part of it. I love Groupon for myself because Deals! But it feels like giving someone something with the red sale sticker still on.

        Good call on calling directly, that just may work!

      2. Noah

        Many places will give you the same, or nearly the same, deal as Groupon if you call them directly. Saves them from having to pay Groupon their percentage.

    3. Ruffingit

      I love stuff like candles myself. They are tangible, but not in the sense that once they burn, they’re done. But, if you’re looking for experiences, how about finding something interesting in the person’s town that they might not think of doing? For example, here in Houston, they have tickets at NASA to lunch with an astronaut. And it’s not expensive at all. Or, a sunset lake cruise or couples massage or something like that.

    4. Curious

      Maybe cloud9living.com

      Or you could look at gift card for restuarants, as mentioned, or golf courses, or maybe travelzoo voucherse.

      As for as date-time restrictions, that wouldn’t bother me if the thing seemed fun.

    5. Hellanon

      If you’re in SF or L.A., a company called Verlocal sells experiences – classes in art or cooking or blacksmithing (I really want to do this). Lots of small cooking schools offer short classes, local artists or craft guilds may do the same, restaurants may do tasting menu-type dinners….

    6. kimmyontheinternet

      I really like giving cooking classes as gifts, and if it’s a gift certificate the gift recipient can use it whenever they want! Other ideas: writing classes/workshops, sewing (or other crafty) classes, glassblowing, etc.

      If you aren’t in the area where the person is located, you can use Yelp to find well-rated places in their area that offer classes such as these, and then you can gift them an experience without being limited by a Groupon or Livingsocial!

  34. Stephanie

    Well, so my crap luck with laptops continues. I posted a few weeks back about the cracked bezel on my old laptop. I got a quote on fixing it and it was nearly the same cost as a new laptop. That laptop was about 2.5 years old, so I figured it was just better to replace it.

    And then the LCD cracked on the new laptop. I don’t really know what happened–I think my sister may have knocked it onto the floor while I was sleeping? Hard to say. I woke up and the glass was cracked. The screen itself and computer are fine. I got a quote today on replacing the glass. The cost is nearly the same as a new laptop.

    So ideas?

    I could
    (1) Just pay to have it fixed (although this doesn’t sound particularly cost-effective).
    (2) Try to find the part online and fix it myself. (I watched a couple of YouTube videos and it *seems* straightforward, but I could easily see this going awry.)
    (3) Go get a new computer and trade-in the busted one (or try to sell it on eBay). Guy at the repair shop said he’d guess $200-$250 at best for a trade-in for their program.

    I am also just tempted to get a desktop, but I unfortunately have zero space for one (and will probably move in the next few months).

    1. WinterE

      Did you buy it with a credit card? Some credit cards will pay for any damage within the first 90 days after purchase. I cracked the screen on a laptop a few years ago, totally my own fault (I stepped on it), and Discover paid for the entire roughly $250 repair because of their purchase protection. I know the Chase Visa credit cards also do this.

      But if you don’t have that option, yeah, I don’t think replacing the screen is generally worth it. That same laptop that I got fixed once with the credit card protection, I later cracked the screen on again, and I ended up not fixing it because of the cost. If you have a lot of this sort of problem, it might be worth getting an accidental damage warranty in the future. My current laptop is a Lenovo, and they have a great warranty. I have a three year in home accidental damage warranty from them, and I believe it cost something like $160. It looks a bit more pricey right now, but it does go on sale, and totally worth it if you often have issues. (Assuming you are buying a laptop worth enough for that; obviously that’s a bit pricey for a $300 laptop, but for a $900 laptop, I think it’s worth it.)

      1. Stephanie

        Oooh! The credit card is a good idea. I will look into that.

        I got it at Costco, but used a credit card. Tried calling Costco, but their warranty doesn’t cover physical damage. Actually, my laptop is a Lenovo. If I end up getting this one fixed, I’ll look into the warranty.

    2. BRR

      Can you do some investigating and shake down whoever broke it?

      How badly do you need a laptop? Could you just buy an external monitor?

    3. GrittyKitty

      My sister ( a poor school teacher at the time) replaced the screen herself on an HP. She watched the video online, ordered the part & followed the video. About $75 total.

      Can you get your sister to cover the cost of the part (if she broke it)?

      1. Sunflower

        It’s a hassle but I’d agree with this. Or ask around and see if you know anyone who is good with computers. I’m not sure where you got the quote from but I know when I took my virus infested computer to the Geek Squad, they told me it was gonna cost $300 to wipe it clean and close to $500 for data recovery with no guarantee of what they would get. My friend fixed it for free and got all my data saved in a couple hours. My friend fixed her iPhone screen herself in a couple hours and it cost $35- the price of a kit off Amazon. Some places really take advantage of people not being computer literate. So yeah I would vote for some sort of option like this.

  35. WinterE

    I just bought some Sorel Joan of Arctic boots today, and now I’m having a bit of buyer’s regret. I walk a LOT in the winter, and I’m worried that they’ll both be too uncomfortable and also won’t last long enough to make the price worth it. I walked three miles in them today, and I did feel the ankle rubbing problem reviews described, but not to the point of excruciating pain. But I do worry about the future. I really need them to last at least three winters to justify the price. Anyone have any experiences with them?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I have a pair of Sorels (not the Joan of Arctic, the classic Caribou), and they were an absolute beast to break in. They’re very stiff, which is great for being sturdy, but they definitely take a bit of wearing in and getting used to. You can try blasting them with a hair dryer to soften them up before walking around in them, that can loosen up the leather a little bit. Moleskin on the part that’s rubbing can also help a bit until things are broken in a bit. I think all Sorels tend to be heavy and hard to break in, it definitely takes some getting used to. Mine are great now, but I sure didn’t think so at first!

      1. Stephanie

        If you use the hair dryer, make sure you wear one or two pairs of thick socks during the process. Also, flex your toes. Sounds weird, but it’ll help stretch the shoes out.

      2. WinterE

        Thanks, that’s good to know. I might try to soften them up a bit. And maybe until they are broken in, buy some thicker socks.

    2. Lillie Lane

      I’ve got them and love them, no problems with breaking in. You might just have different feet, though! Mine are super big (11).

    3. Sandy

      I wore (or tried to wear) my Joan of the Arctic boots for four years, and that stupid ankle rubbing never went away. I finally sold them to someone else.

  36. Holly

    Anyone have tips for battling single-person fueled winter loneliness? Actively dating is out because I just tried that for a while and it was a nightmare. However, “date yourself” stuff is getting stale too (been doing that for three years!) Maybe extra cat snuggles? Idk.

      1. Holly

        I definitely do what I can with my friends – one is out of state, but we talk almost daily. Another I hang out with at least once a week. Another, with a new baby, I see periodically. I’ve done gaming groups with strangers here and there too, just to meet new people (plus going to concerts alone and talking with random people, etc.) I’m trying to find a balance between going to new activities and needing lots of social recharge time.

    1. Not So NewReader

      How about a winter time goal list? I pick stuff that I would only do during the winter when things are slower. I make a list longer than I need to carry me though the winter. This year, I think I will put the list on my fridge, I intend to concentrate on it more than in previous years.

    2. Sunflower

      Trying a new activity?
      Maybe get a jump start of the New Year resolutions?
      Speaking of New Years resolutions, joining a new gym? Does your city have Class Pass? It’s a monthly membership that gives you access to tons of workout studios and classes all over your city.
      Get more involved in work/career networking groups?

  37. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

    Wanted to pop on and see what this thread is like since I’m normally just popping in and out during the week. I don’t hate it. Ya know what I do hate? That I spent 2 hours and 20 minutes of my life watching the new Hunger Games movie.
    Did some shopping today too. Broke down and bought a bunch of shape wear, after loosing ’bout 200 pounds things aren’t so shapely and Ive got chronic pulled muscles in my ribs from the pulling of he extra skin. I stuck to madden form because it was on sale and I have no idea how it hold up to daily wear. Do any of ya’ll wear shape wear? Any brands to steer clear of?

    1. Noah

      I have to watch the new Hunger Games movie because I’ve seen all the others. I don’t know why, I’ve read the books, I know what happens. Something similar happened with Twilight. The person I was dating at the time drug me along to the first one and then I had to watch the rest, never read those books though.

    2. StillHealing

      I haven’t seen the new movie but without spilling spoilers, what disappointed you the most about it?

      I don’t wear shape wear but wanted to say congratulations on your weight loss!

      Do you think the problems caused but the excess skin will help you qualify to have insurance cover skin removal? Do you need to wait a year or so to see how much will firm up on it’s own?

      I’m curious to hear about shape wear on if it will help the skin tighten and help relieve the pulled muscles and pain.

      1. YourUnfriendlyPhlebotomist

        the ending was lame and predictable.
        I wont qualify for surgery because my insurance company requires that the patient have rashes for 3 straight months not cleared by antibiotics- I get everything but rashes.
        Hopefully it will help with the pulled muscles, other people do it. nothing is going to help the level of loose skin I have.

    3. Lily in NYC

      I was thinking about watching it today but am just not feeling it. But I feel obligated since I’ve seen the other ones (they were all “meh” to me, including the books, so maybe I won’t force myself). It just hit me that you wrote that you lost 200 pounds. You are incredible! What an amazing accomplishment!

      1. Windchime

        I liked the new Hunger Games movie. Once again, they stayed very faithful to the book. I thought it was pretty good. I went with a couple of friends to one of those theaters where you have to be 21 or over, and they bring you food and drinks during the meal.

    4. Mando Diao

      The Hunger Games franchise is so odd to me. It is absolutely valid to have a story’s central character be a powerless pawn, but I guess I don’t understand how Katniss is meant to be perceived. I found the “propaganda” stuff to be hokey.

        1. FiveByFive

          Zero degree windchill here in the Midwest! The tree branches are covered in ice and snow. Very pretty.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          We have freezing temps here, too, and my cat wants to take fifteen minutes to sit in the doorway and consider her options before she’ll go out or come back in. We’re not heating up the whole neighborhood, dammit!

    1. Holly

      Best: went to see my favorite band in concert for the second time this year(!) and they were amazing. I got to be right against the stage and I felt super connected to the band, the music, the people around me…it was so much needed. Went alone, but the people surrounding me were there alone too so it was like.. solidarity.

      Worst: Sick. My post-conference illness reared its head, as predicted, and I had to go to the doctors. It’s just an upper respritory and ear infection, but it’s been dragging my energy all week.

      1. Mimmy

        Was it a General Admission show? As scared as I am of the idea (I’m fine when there’s assigned seats), I’ve always wanted to do that with one particular artist I follow. She’s done GA shows, and in reading others’ accounts, having that connection with the performer sounds like a really incredible experience.

        1. Holly

          It was GA, yeah. I prefer ones with assigned seats, just because I tend to go to rock/punk shows so GA means having to keep myself from getting shoved or pushed all the time, which sucks. However, I’m sure it’s not as… physical with other genres? If you really want to keep out of the crowding, stick to the sides of the stage (versus the center) or, if it’s indoors, by the walls. You can still get a great experience without being in the front or center.

    2. Mimmy

      BEST: On Tuesday, I got to see this really cool dance company comprised of people with and without disabilities. One guy uses a wheelchair, one was missing half of one arm, and the other two had no apparent disability–they put on an absolutely beautiful performance. It seemed like the entire disability community in my state was there.

      Honorable mention: My eye doctor’s office FINALLY submitting a corrected eye drop prescription to the pharmacy after THREE ATTEMPTS. I have an appointment with the regular doc on Tuesday….not looking forward to that conversation :/

      WORST: Nothing really, just not liking that it’s starting to get cold.

    3. knitchic79

      Best: Shared the rental of a carpet cleaner so now the floors look much less terrible. Made our totally awesome neighbor, who lost his mom earlier this year and thinks his dad is going downhill now, some of my chocolate butterscotch rice Krispy treats. Got an amazing pair of boots, with bright purple laces, with the birthday money my mom and MIL gave me.

      Worst: My helper in my section at work screwed the pooch bad. Our big boss was ready to talk to him for me, but it’s my section…my responsibility to have to hard talks first. He got defensive, I thought it was me. But later our supervisor we talk to if big boss isn’t there told me it was definitely not…without me asking even. She was unimpressed that he was so unapologetic over his mistakes. Told me I handled it just fine and not to beat myself up.

      Tl;dr – work is drama

    4. UF-Ugh.

      Best: annual review – supervisors were all praises.

      Worst: Sibling suffered a personal loss this week and is miserable, while I’m just angry because it was preventable, but pushing-30 Sibling is somehow not adult enough to figure these things out.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Best: I was told, albeit secondhand, I was doing a good job at work (even though I don’t feel it).

      Worst: Still feel depressed. If my current antidepressants don’t kick in I’m going to be switched to zoloft.

      1. Holly

        Also depressed person giving a fist bump of solidarity.

        I’m on Zoloft right now and it’s been really helpful for me, though I know it’s different for everyone.

    6. Elkay

      Best: Finally cleared the bookshelves that have been a general dumping ground for far too long.

      Worst: Mystery stomach pains put paid to most of Saturday.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Best – Bought a small (plastic) Christmas tree which looks very realistic.

        Worst – I was going to go to Brussels this weekend but had to cancel. It is rather scary to see places you know on the news, and not for good reasons.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian

      Best: Rearranged my bedroom and figured out how to assemble the extra, unused metal under-the-bed supports that came with it twenty years ago all by myself. Our footboard broke awhile back, and that end of the bed had been propped up on upturned plastic storage containers until we get a new one. Now that I put the extra supports under there, though, the plastic bins are not needed, so it just looks like we have a headboard only, and not like we’re sleeping on a broken bed frame.

      Worst: I still haven’t gotten up the courage to talk to anyone about my feelings of depression and anxiety, or to talk to my husband about taking those eight free sessions of marriage counseling through my work’s EAP that I mentioned in last weeks open thread.

      1. knitchic79

        Mallory, would someone from your EAP help you talk to your husband? I ask only because when my depression hit a real low ( bad enough the EAP rep was thinking of having me hospitalised) she offered to help me tell my spouse how bad things were. Call them again…it was the scariest thing I’ve done, but the best thing for me. Don’t let the depression lead you so far down that dark road that you shut everyone out. I’m pulling for you…I know you can do this. *HUGS*

    8. Nashira

      Best: Husband finally put a new filter in the furnace! (I can’t easily, due to a seveeeeere dust allergy.)

      Worst: Trying to navigate when all the media I see reminds me of post-9/11 DC, when I was a kid. Cute Overload is the only safe website, I swear.

  38. Bekx

    My new car was hit today.

    I was walking out of the UPS store and noticed what looked like a long scratch. Turns out it extended from the right edge of my drivers door to the right edge of my rear door. There was also scraping around the part of the car that the wheel is and a horizontal dent in that wheel part (the strip between the door and wheel). Paint was flecking off and it looked pretty rough.

    Went home, washed it…still looked bad. I was pissed. I just came back from vacation and the only places my car has been is work, home and the post office (3 minute visit). A lot of my coworkers have big trucks and I just KNEW it had to be one of them. How rude to not leave a note!

    Well, I texted my dad about it. He came home from work and I said “Some a$shole hit my car! I think it was at work!” and he goes “Um….I hit it.”

    In a way I’m relieved no one hit my car and ran. Insurance will take care of both of our cars…but I feel bad that my dad has to pay. Money is tight. But dammit Dad! The car isn’t 6 months old yet!

    1. Ruffingit

      Geeze and he should have told you right when it happened so you wouldn’t think someone else did it and could call insurance right away. UGH.

      1. Bekx

        Well, he was on his way to work and he didn’t want to ruin my day. It was also dark when he left, so he didn’t think the damage was that bad (plus, my car is filthy due to my workplace having construction going on, so it wasn’t obvious that any damage was done). He also didn’t think I’d be using my car today.

        I don’t blame him for not telling me. He wanted to wait and assess the damage when it was light out/when he wasn’t trying to get to work.

        1. Mimmy

          I see where your dad is coming from, but I personally would’ve called/texted you just to give you a heads up, even I didn’t see whether or not the car was damaged. To me, that’s just common courtesy. But it sounds like it’s all good :)

          1. Bekx

            Yeah, I would have appreciated it. I think he just felt guilty because he’s my dad and did something wrong. He looked like a kicked puppy when he told me.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I was following along and I was surprised when you said your dad hit it. Not the answer I expected. Aw, crap. Isn’t it supposed to be the kid hits the parent’s car? Am shaking my head, this stuff happens. I watched my father back the tailgate of his truck into a phone pole…. right after I said, “Watch out for that phone pole!” ugh. Some how these things tend to level the playing field in parent-child relationships. So that is something there, at any rate.
      I hope your car gets fixed quickly.

  39. Ask a Manager Post author

    1. I think I’m getting sick. I desperately want to get into bed and sleep, but my niece’s flight arrives tonight at midnight and I’ve been elected to pick her up and bring her back to sleep at my house since no one else is up at that hour, so I must stay up.

    2. The new car, as reported on the last two weeks: I’ve decided to like it, since that seems like the best outcome. So I’ve started liking it. It turns out that there’s plenty to like. I am loving the rear view camera thing.

    3. Hue Lights. These are programmable lights that turn all sorts of colors and you can control them from your phone. I like them more than I thought I would when my husband bought them:
    http://www2.meethue.com

    4. Speaking of controlling things with your phone, I just installed a smart thermostat, and I’m loving that I can adjust the house temperature from bed or wherever I am. (Yes, I am lazy.) What else can I connect to my phone and control from wherever I am? (Really lazy.)

    5. Stuffing. Is it possible that Stove Top stuffing is actually better than all other stuffings? I am normally very pro making things from scratch / not using things from boxes, but I think Stove Top might win all the stuffing awards. Agree/disagree?

    1. Bekx

      4. How exactly does that work? I’m buying a condo in the next year or so…and this appeals to my lazy side (and the thought of a toasty house when I wake up is ideal). Can you just install it without needing expertise in heating/cooling? Or do you need to hire someone to install it

      1. Noah

        I bought mine at Home Depot. It was a Honeywell brand. I was looking for a programmable one and ran across the WiFi option. It was reasonably easy to install. The instruction manual came with little stickers that you attached to the wires before you removed them from your existing thermostat. I also took pictures before I removed the wires so I could reconnect them exactly as they were if the new thermostat didn’t work.

        I can’t see any reason why you would need to hire someone unless your HVAC system is super complicated or something. I’ve installed mine in two different places now. I rent, so I just install the old one again before I move out. One place was an electric heat pump with AC the other a gas furnace with AC. The connections were a bit different but neither one was difficult.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          I’ll caution that your system has to be compatible — you need to have a C wire to power most wifi-enabled thermostats, whereas most of the more basic (non-backlit, monochrome LCD) ones can run on batteries alone. BUT, there’s no reason you can’t buy one and try it yourself, as long as you are careful. If you seem to be missing a wire you’ll probably need to call a professional about upgrading the wiring.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        I was planning to install it myself, but when I bought it from Amazon, they offered me an option to have someone install it for $75 more, so I took it. I ended up glad that I did, because it took them a while to do it and it looked complicated … which I think was something about my wiring, more than the thermostat itself.

        1. Bekx

          That’s what I’m concerned with. Especially in a condo where I imagine everything is hooked up to each other one way or another. Thanks!

        2. Colette

          I replaced a thermostat once (after knocking the previous one off the wall.) The most difficult part was, first of all, finding a thermostat that could handle the right number of wires (because they don’t mark that on the package) and then figuring out that the wire marked RW in one thermostat was R on the other and the one marked R was something else altogether.

    2. Noah

      3) I bought some of the Hue lights to try with my Amazon Echo. It is a bit gimmicky buy cool to tell Alexa to turn on the lights in the living room.

      4) I have a smart thermostat too. I like it because when I travel I can turn the temp up or down when I land at my home airport and by the time I make it home the house is at the right temperature. I’ve considered getting the Nest smoke detectors, but I can’t really justify why. I think I’ve set of the smoke detector maybe twice since I started living on my own 10 years ago. Not sure why I think they need to be connected to an app. I can start my Jeep and lock and unlock the door with the phone app. Useful when I lock my keys inside.

      5) I like to make cornbread stuffing from scratch, but it is generally way too much work to bake cornbread and chop up all the veggies. Stove Top is hella tasty and way easier.

    3. knitchic79

      1: Sorry you’re sick! I make a ginger, tumeric, honey, and lemon tea that seems to help if you catch it early. Teaspoon of the first two (I use ground), juice of a half a lemon, and honey to taste.
      5: Right there with you. I love to cook from scratch but stovetop is my guilty pleasure. It’s really yummy!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      4: other than thermostats, most of the rest of what you can do with home automation is just controlling outlets, which usually would be to turn lights on or off, but that can be fun, too. Some of them will let you set a schedule, which is nice for when you’re away but you want your home to look occupied. You can also use your phone as a remote control for a lot of newer home theater equipment, like Rokus, TiVos, and audio devices like Sonos speakers. I personally don’t like to use my phone as a remote except when I’m searching, in which case the phone’s keyboard is SO much easier than hunting and pecking an on-screen keyboard with a remote control.

      You can also get wifi-enabled locks for your doors, even control sprinkler systems or pools or waterfalls…and, of course, security cameras.

    5. Observer

      #4 Locks and garage door. Anything that can be turned on and off by plugging / unplugging. Security systems.

    6. Nicole

      As soon as I start feeling sick I begin sucking on zinc lozenges. They won’t prevent a cold, but are proven to reduce the length if you start within the first 24 hours.

      I’d love a smart thermostat too but can’t justify the cost. Controlling stuff from your phone is the best! I’m quite jealous.

      I have to agree about the Stovetop Stuffing. I’ve tried different brands in the past and I always end up going back to that one.

    7. Pennalynn Lott

      5. I’m not a fan of Stove Top (or other boxed stuffing) because the salt content is so high that it actually hurts my mouth to eat it. But I remember loving it years ago when I still ate a lot of processed food. So I do remember that it had the best flavor of all the boxed stuffing mixes.

      1. Sourire

        They actually make low sodium stovetop, which I tried because I do every once and a while get a craving for it (even though I love my homemade sage sausage stuffing) and hate how much salt it has, but unfortunately it’s terrible :/

    8. Swoop

      2. I very much want a rearview camera in my next car, they look very useful
      5. nope! sage & onion rice stuffing until the end of time :)

    9. Lily in NYC

      #5 – Alison, you monster! Stove Top is not better than homemade stuffing. I make really good stuffing. But unlike cranberries in a can and that vile green bean casserole with the onions on top, I don’t mind eating boxed stuffing – it’s a decent enough substitute. (hope you feel better)

    10. Natalie

      Controversial stuffing opinion: all stuffing is terrible.

      I really want one of those tstats. Ours isn’t programmable at all (why didn’t you get a free one from the gas company when you replaced the heating system, prior owners?) and it’s annoying as fiancé would prefer it be 50 in here. So we turn it up and down a lot.

      1. Windchime

        My ex mother-in-law used to make a terrible, wet and sloppy stuffing. It was the consistency of thick oatmeal and about as tasty. So gross. I have been dedicated as the stuffing maker at our family thanksgivings and I make a much drier, fluffier stuffing that is full of yummy things like celery, onions, and apples and seasoned with sage and butter. Mmmmm. I always bake it in a big pan outside of the turkey. It always gets completely eaten up with no leftovers.

    11. Mallory Janis Ian

      Agree about the Stove Top! I dice up some onion and celery in mine (and sometimes add some browned, ground sausage) to make it seem more homemade. It is my favorite thing of all the other Thanksgiving foods, and I love it beyond all reason.

    12. Not So NewReader

      Stove Top. I always thought it was the better stuffing out there. I fiddled with stuffings for years and I kind of landed on it’s the seasonings in the Stove Top that I liked. I just never got around to figuring out the right mix to make it on my own. If you know a chemist maybe they can analyze it for you and tell you what it is. Not that I would know that from chemists around here doing that…. noooo…….

    13. Elizabeth West

      1. Aww, I hope not. Rest as much as you can and drink lots of fluids.
      2. Yay!
      3. That sounds cool. :)
      4. That REALLY sounds cool!
      5. YES YES I AGREE. My mum makes stuffing from scratch and she always puts loads of celery in it. I HATE celery. Stove Top also just tastes better, probably from all the salt, but oh well! :)

    14. Soupspoon McGee

      It’s not as good as my mom’s homemade cornbread stuffing, but I like Stove Top. Unfortunately, last time I looked, it’s made with chicken broth, so it’s not vegetarian.

    15. Dan

      #3

      I *love* the Hue ecosystem. I have $800 worth of products in my apartment. I’m particularly thrilled with the light strips more so than the bulbs, I don’t think the color settings on the bulbs are as accurate or rich as the strips.

      They have a “2.0” version of the strips, I haven’t used them yet. The bloom is pointless, you can’t change the angles, so unless you have the “right” spot to put it, it’s just awkward.

      #4

      Are you familiar with the Sonos audio system? It’s a wireless audio system that streams all kinds of music from the internet, and is controlled via an app. You can link speakers in different rooms together, so that you can play the same stuff perfectly in synch. This is particularly useful in my apartment, where my living room and kitchen aren’t fully separated from each other, but the quality certainly suffers when I’m in the kitchen away from the main setup. So I can throw a pair of smaller speakers in the kitchen and link them to the living area.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        In what kinds of ways are you using the strips? They look really cool, and I’ve been trying to figure out where I’d put them.

        I will check out Sonos! I live with a hard-core devotee of B&W speakers though so it may be fruitless.

        1. Dan

          If your husband likes his B&W speakers, look at something called the Sonos Connect. I think it’s designed to give you a lot of the functionality but let you keep your own speakers.

          With the hue, in the common areas of my apartment, I only have three ceiling lights — the kitchen, dining room, and a hallway light. In my living area, I have nothing. I have strips behind my couch, my TV, and my kitchen. In the dining area, I put in two floating glass shelves, one for glassware and the other for my liquor bottles. I ran a strip under each shelf.

    16. kimmyontheinternet

      Regarding #3: how are you using the Hue lights, specifically? I’m always intrigued, but they are SO expensive! They seemed really silly to me at first, but I know a lot of people love them–so, I’m curious to know in what scenarios you find them useful.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        You’re going to laugh, but …

        My husband is obsessed with the entire A-V experience, and has been trying to make our basement as perfectly suited for movie-watching as possible. He set up the Hue lights as home theater lighting, and he’ll adjust the color and brightness based on what we’re watching. (I just asked him to give me a recent example and he said when we watched The Last Samurai, which is based in a very lush region of Japan, he chose a a blue-green, heavy on the green, to complement it.)

        Aside from that, I like to be able to play with the color just for ambience.

          1. kimmyontheinternet

            Oh, how interesting! Thanks for the response, I can definitely see where that would make it a more immersive experience. I saw on their site that you can somehow get it to sync with your TV to change colors as well, which is intriguing not only for movies, but also video games.

            I… am still hesitant to spend the money right now, but can see my resolve crumbling in the next 6-12 months. ;)

            Do you find that the bulbs ever burn out?

      2. Dan

        I like them in the TV area because I can leave them on while watching a show, and when I turn the TV off, it doesn’t go to pitch black, and then to hurt eyes when you turn on the big overhead lights.

        In the kitchen, it’s nice to have soft lighting if I want to go grab something and not turn on the big bright light.

        It’s also nice to put on some nice colored lights, put on some good music, and grab a glass of wine.

    17. Amy Farrah Fowler

      Have to disagree with you about stuffing! Now my mother in law does use box stuffing as a base and adds in her own onion, celery, etc to jazz it up, but I still love my grandmother’s stuffing recipe more… cornbread, biscuits, all kinds of carbs crumbled up… there’s something nostalgic and comforting about the traditional thanksgiving meal. I love it.

      That’s not to say that I don’t eat stove top. I actually do throughout the year. Chicken & stuffing is a staple in my house, one of my husband’s favorites and the easiest dinner on the planet to make.

    18. FatBigot

      32 replies and no-one has mentioned security? The Register has regular reports on how terrible the security on some of these “Internet of Things” devices is. Often there are tales of hard coded admin accounts, or it can leak information about your wi-fi setup in surprising ways. Worse, what if someone decides it’s a good idea to set your heating to max when your on vacation for a week?

      The other issue is longevity. A lot of these things that you can control from a mobile phone are routed through a server operated by the vendor. If that server is taken down for any reason at all, you loose all that functionality. Of course, the other problem with a vendor’s server is that if it is hacked then someone knows when you are out of the house, and just has the problem of tying that up with a physical address (which may not be hard).

      1. FatBigot

        Some links:

        Trouble brewing as iThing coffee machine seems to be hackable

        The same team of security researchers who discovered that the Wi-Fi iKettle from Smarter blurted out wireless network credentials have found cause for concern over a Wi-Fi Coffee Machine, and iKettle 2.0, from the same manufacturer.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/10/19/bods_brew_ikettle_20_hack_plot_vulnerable_london_pots/

        A humorous take on the whole thing:
        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/11/20/love_your_iot_gadget_but_could_you_keep_the_noise_down/
        (Warning: profanity right at the end).

  40. Noah

    UPS delivered my Leesa mattress on Friday. Alison did a sponsored post awhile back about it, and I used the code so I hope she gets some sort of kickback. I debated for a long time about buying a mattress online, but I’m glad I finally did. It is so comfortable and I slept so well on Friday night. It is strangely both soft and firm, you kinda sink in a bit but it feels really supportive. Maybe that’s how all foam mattresses are. The mattress I had was a spring one and about 6 years old, but it was super cheap from Walmart of all places. It served me well, but it was time for it to go away.

    I spent all afternoon today binge watching The Man in the High Castle on Amazon. It sucked me right in and I made it through episode 5 before I decided I needed to get up and do something else for awhile. It is strangely intriguing and unsettling at the same time. However, it is not a fun or light series at all.

  41. knitchic79

    EDITED BY ALISON TO ADD: SPOILERS IN THIS COMMENT! DO NOT READ IF YOU DON’T WANT DR. WHO SPOILERS

    Anyone else here a Whovian? I’m in literal tears over tonight’s episode. That impossible girl grew on me more than I realized.

    1. Noah

      I haven’t watched any of them with Peter Capaldi. I need to catch up and start watching again, I miss it.

      Donna Noble’s departure had me literally crying. I almost stopped watching the show totally after that and what happened to Ianto in Torchwood: COE.

      1. knitchic79

        I went into the Capaldi episodes with an open mind. He’s been incredible. Reminds me of the little old man who seems so mean and grouchy until you realize he’s just sad.

        Lol I watched River’s entire time line with Matt Smith before I saw Silence in the Library. Watched it on the bus, people thought I was nuts.

      2. Nashira

        Oh god, Ianto. I did give up Who for a long time and Torchwood entirely after CoE, because Ianto and the general plot of CoE was so painful for me. I had nightmares to be honest.

    2. Pennalynn Lott

      ACK! SPOILERS!! I haven’t been able to watch any episodes this season because of school. I plan to binge-watch over winter break.

      1. Allison Mary

        SPOILERS! >.< Same here, I haven't been able to watch the last two episodes yet, actually – going to watch them tomorrow with my sister.

    3. Cristina in England

      I know you can’t go back and edit comments here, but I would consider this comment a major spoiler alert and any specific developments should NOT have been mentioned in the initiating comment. I haven’t watched it yet and am pretty annoyed! Even though her general future was reported in the news, it isn’t cool to mention a major plot point like that without warning.

      Obviously I haven’t read any of the reply comments so forgive me if I am repeating what someone else has said.

  42. house mouse

    Anyone here into calligraphy/hand lettering? This is something I’d really like to learn more about!

    1. Colette

      I did a little, a long time ago. The basics aren’t super difficult if you have the right pens, but of course becoming an expert is a lot more difficult.

    2. KarenT

      I bought a learning calligraphy kit off the Internet. It came with a calligraphy pen, an assortment of coloured inks, a bunch of tips, and a how to book. I don’t have a particular talent for it but I did my Christmas cards with it last year and got tons of compliments.

    3. eliza

      A little late to reply, but I’ve been getting into calligraphy a lot recently. There is a surprisingly active community out there. A good place to start is The Postman’s Knock blog. It has a lot of good information on calligraphy supplies and styles (especially modern calligraphy), with an emphasis on pointed pen/cursive styles. If you have Instagram, it’s also a great place to look for inspiration. I particularly like the work of Linda Yoshida (@lindayoshida, also on Tumblr) and Nina Tran (@anintran, also anintran.com). Once you get down the rabbit hole, it’s hard to get back out!

  43. SL #2

    Brownie mix cookes did not turn out as good as I’d hoped. Taste-wise they’re fine, just not very aesthetically pleasing… and I’d promised to bring some of said cookies to work on Monday. I was hoping they’d look a little prettier…

    But on the other hand, I had a great day shopping with my mom for Thanksgiving today. I’m a Cartwheel addict, so we saved a ton of money at Target, took advantage of some in-store sales, and now we have everything we need! It’s so nice to not have to travel more than 30 minutes to get home for the holidays for the first time in 5 years…

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          Most people, including post people, will just be happy to have cookies, even if they aren’t ‘pretty’.

    1. danr

      At my old job a colleague always brought in the ‘mistake’ cookies from her holiday baking during Thanksgiving. They were delicious and no one ever paid attention to how they looked. I joked that they had less calories since they were not perfect.

    2. Sunflower

      I just screwed up a batch of cookies but I had promised to bring them into work on Friday. Everyone said ‘omg they’re so good!’. Can you add some icing to pretty them up? I don’t think anyone will care too much about how they look.

  44. Allison Mary

    There have been a couple cat-themed posts on this thread this week, and I’m feeling excited about my own feline accomplishments, so I decided I want to share.

    Some quick background – I grew up from age 7 with the world’s most wonderful gray tabby cat (her name was Precious). After college when I got my own place, I was her primary caregiver for the last three years of her life. When she died, it was super duper sad, but it motivated me to continue adopting and caring for senior/elderly cats, since I had spent so much time learning to live with and manage Precious’ main health condition (chronic kidney disease).

    About five months after Precious died, I decided I was ready to adopt, and I adopted an almost-17-year-old cat named Louise from the local county shelter. Well that was a little over a year ago that I adopted Louise, and I’m just really proud of how she’s doing. She has somewhat early stage CKD, and she went to a new (holistic) vet recently – the vet commented that Louise was better hydrated than a kitten she’d just seen in a prior appointment. I’ve been making homemade raw food for her with a meat grinder and a myriad of necessary vitamins and supplements – and it’s specifically tailored to her CKD needs, with veterinary assistance/approval. She’s also got a bunch of holistic herbs and other things from the vet that get added into her food, her appetite is strong, she finishes pretty much all of her food within a 30 minute period (that was always a struggle with Precious), and her energy is amazing. She jumps up to impressive heights for her age (easily 2 or 3 feet from the ground), and her coat is shiny and beautiful and smooth.

    There’s still some work to do – in another three months, I’ll take her back to this new vet to re-check her blood work and kidney values, and if they look good, we may talk about whether it’s safe to think about general anesthesia for her, so that she can get some much-needed dental work (her mouth is a mess, poor thing – it was like that when I got her).

    But overall, I’m getting a strong sense from her that her biggest needs are getting met, and that’s incredibly fulfilling and satisfying for me. :)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Aw! Older cats, as I’m sure you know, are usually hard for shelters to find homes for; everyone wants kittens, and older cats can spend a long time waiting for a home. I love that you adopted her and are giving her such a good home.

      1. Allison Mary

        Thanks for saying so, Alison, I find that very validating! :)

        Yes, that’s pretty much my whole motivation. Most people, when they hear that I want to stick with adopting elderly cats, they say something about how they could never do that, or how I should think carefully about whether I can actually handle that emotional stress – but for me it’s more about meeting her needs than about meeting my needs. And as you pointed out, it’s way harder for older cats in shelters to find homes – but that doesn’t negate the fact that they need a home, whether someone wants them or not.

      2. Pennalynn Lott

        I have six cats. Through the years as one dies and we add another one (or two), I have tried to adopt adults but my existing pack comes unglued. The fur literally flies, along with blood on occasion. (And, yes, I’ve done the slo-o-o-o-ow introduction, one time as long as three months, and it never works). So, instead, I adopt special needs kittens/teenagers. One of my kitties came to me with cataracts (from physical trauma) plus a heart condition and an abdominal hernia, another has lymphoplasmacytic stomatitis, another only has three legs and had a triple-bacterial lung infection that was expensive to diagnose and treat. One was the runt of the litter and rejected by the mom cat, and isn’t cuddly in the slightest. Another didn’t have any chronic health issues, but was found starving and emaciated (with a BB lodged into her back leg and her tail chopped off) at a campsite.

        I, too, have had elderly kitties with CKD and learned a boatload about managing cats who have chronic conditions. It comes in handy when the special needs kitties become ill or elderly. I’m grateful to be able to put all that knowledge to good use. I think being able to poke a cat with a needle is a skill every cat parent should know how to do. Giving sub-Q’s at home, or being able to inject erythropoietin or Cerenia on your own, is so much less stressful on everyone than dragging the poor kitty to the vet every time.

        1. Allison Mary

          This is a fear of mine that I really need to find a way to push past – I’m awful with needles, and have been too scared to deal with it at home myself. I tried learning once, while Precious was still around, and I wound up breaking down in tears. :(

          But that was in a stressful situation, and maybe if I tried to learn it now, while the pressure is lower, it’d be easier.

          1. Pennalynn Lott

            The cat I learned it on, Fred, was 17 when he was diagnosed with CKD. Trips to the vet were so stressful for him that he would quit eating for a couple of days and develop massive, uncontrollable diarrhea. Taking him in every single day (or even every other day) for sub-Q’s would have quite literally killed him. I shook and cried the first few times gave him sub-Q’s, but then I saw how much better he felt (especially without the stressful car ride) and I calmed down. He never loved being poked with a needle, but he settled into the routine once I did, too. He lived to be 20 years old, and his last three years were very good ones.

            I still get kind of jittery-nervous whenever I have to stick one of the cats, but knowing it’s best for them helps me get over it and do it. Because the only one it’s traumatic for is us. :-)

    2. Harriet

      Well done! That is incredibly impressive and such a wonderful thing to do. I always planned to adopt older cats and have spent the past few years caring for my kitty with CKD who I adopted when sick. We are now very close to the end, she will likely be making her final journey to the vet next week. It is so agonising that I think my next cat will need to be younger because I just don’t think I can go through the end of life stage in another few short years (I am aware that is somewhat irrational because even younger cats can get sick). I am in awe of you and your strength to choose to continue to care for the cats who need it most.

      1. Schmitt

        Same – two years ago, we lost two cats within six months (one to CKD/tumor, and the other to an immune disorder – she was only 7) and are hoping our young cats will be very healthy for a very long time. I’m only now to the point where I can talk about CKD without choking up.

      2. Allison Mary

        Thanks for that! :) I’m conscious of what I get myself into, and when I adopted her, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to “fix” her. That’s not my goal. My goal is just to provide her the most comfortable and loving home possible for the last few years of her life – because otherwise, there’s a good chance that she’d spend the last few years of her life in the stressful environment of a shelter, which would almost certainly cut her remaining life even shorter. With me, she’s probably going to have a higher quality of life, and I’m going to do my damnedest to make her health as good as it can be, considering her age and CKD.

        If anyone wants to nerd out about homemade cat food recipes, or hear about the CKD adjustments I made to her recipe, I’d happily participate! :)

        1. Belle diVedremo

          Yes, please. My 17 year old girl has some kidney issues and I’d love more ways to help her.
          =^.^=

          1. Allison Mary

            So first I should say that I’ve had my holistic/naturopathic veterinarian look over my recipes and give me feedback and input – if there’s a holistic or naturopathic DVM near you, I’d definitely encourage you to check them out, because they’re going to be way more supportive of homemade recipes and they will likely be able to give you assistance in tweaking it to suit your cat individually. Many traditional/conventional DVM’s receive various economic incentives/kickbacks from manufacturers of commercial pet food, and so many of them are strongly opposed to anything that isn’t commercially made.

            Other things to consider – when I got Louise, she was already almost 17, and I’m pretty sure she’d never been given raw food in her life. She was very interested in it right away, but it gave her diarrhea and vomiting, probably because her gut didn’t have the good bacteria built up to be able to process that kind of food. So I stopped that and started with baby food (just turkey blended with water, or chicken blended with water), and added taurine supplements to it, because cats will go blind without taurine. Then after she was stable on that and was eating it all up regularly, I went to a cooked-meat version of the raw food recipe I would normally use, with lots of other supplements added to it. Then I slowly started mixing raw meat into that recipe, serving by serving. During this time, I also got her on a probiotic supplement called Fast Balance, so that her gut could adjust to processing the raw food (she hated the taste, so I had to start with tiny amounts and work up slowly to the full dosage).

            So then I had her on a good raw food recipe for a while (entirely meat-based), but her kidney values kept getting worse, and I most recently switched to a modified version of this recipe here: http://tcfeline.com/reduced-protein-cat-food-recipe/

            One thing I want to point out here is that if you’re super committed to this, it’s worth it to invest $200 in a good meat grinder (there are several good ones on Amazon), so that you can grind meat at home. Pre-ground meat at the grocery store often has gross non-meat stuff in it, and its bacterial load is way higher than a recently-killed fresh mouse carcass would be. I did some math, and mine will pay for itself in under 2 years.

            So I’m using a slightly modified version of the recipe I linked above. I double it when I make it, so it currently looks like this:
            – 4 lbs of boneless chicken thighs (grind up in my own meat grinder)
            – .75 lbs of chicken heart
            – three 15-oz cans of pumpkin puree (provides carbs, fiber, and some extra potassium/vitamin B’s, which CKD cats have a harder time retaining, due to poor kidney function)
            – 3 cups homemade, unseasoned bone broth OR 3 cups just plain water
            – 2 tablespoons psyllium fiber powder (older CKD cats are at higher risk for constipation, especially if they’ve been fed grain-based diets their whole lives – the fiber here will be needed, even though they might not need it if they’d grown up feral/wild)
            – 2.5 tablespoons of calcium carbonate (can be found on Amazon; helps block phosphorous, but provides calcium which cats would otherwise get from raw bones of their prey)
            – 8000 mg of taurine (I buy 1000 mg capsules from Amazon and just pull them apart)
            – 800 IU of vitamin E oil (got a huge bottle of 400 IU capsules from CostCo, melt them in a small bowl of boiling water)
            – 800 mg of Vitamin B complex (tastes strong, had to slowly work up to the full dosage, so she’d get used to it)

            And then in addition to that homemade recipe, she currently gets the following things added to each meal:
            – 1 pill of Renafood by Standard Process, crushed/ground up into a powder (seems to make her food more palatable for her?)
            – a mixture of Chinese herbs from my holistic vet, meant to support renal function – can taste bad, I worked her up to it slowly
            – between 500 and 1000 mg of salmon oil – learned from my vet that there has been recent research linking this to improved kidney function

            WOW that’s a long post, sorry guys! For anyone who is interested in trying this, I definitely recommend 1) working with the supervision of a holistic veterinarian, and 2) introducing new things to your cat SLOWLY, knowing that she may need a probiotic supplement to get her system used to dealing with the raw meat.

            1. Belle diVedremo

              Thanks very much for this. I’m not ready to go raw, but am always looking for more information. Haven’t found a good holistic vet around here, but do keep looking.
              =^.^=

    3. Windchime

      Bless you for adopting a senior cat! I had my previous cat from kitten hood until he died at the grand old age of 19, and those last few years were among the best. He was so mellow and loved his heated bed. He was such a gentle old guy and a great companion. Yes, he needed extra care and sometimes that was expensive, but he repaid me by being such a gentle old friend. Even though NewKitty is great, I still miss OldKitty.

  45. Ollie

    Does anyone have any experience with Uhaul’s Uboxes? We moved to Colorado on the 19th, boxes were supposed to be here the 20th, and now it’s the 22nd and customer service can’t track down the driver. I’m fuming. We’ve been sleeping on the floor and now my fiance can’t get a good night’s sleep for his first day of work on Monday. I almost hate living here now, but that’s probably the stress and lack of good sleep talking.

    1. nep

      Can’t track down the driver? Damn.
      No experience w Uhaul/Uboxes so can’t help there.
      Hope you’ll have your belongings in your home soon. Keep us posted.

    2. Rebecca

      I don’t, but a quick google search brought up a website called measuredup, and no one seems to have a good word. Apparently they don’t have any way to track the boxes, and the person’s complaint I read said the boxes didn’t ship on the day the company said they did, and the 5 day delivery time was really 7 days, and it goes on. It sounds a lot like what you’re going through.

      I’m really sorry. I hope you get your stuff, and watch out for extra charges (again, referenced in the complaints).

      1. Ollie

        Yeah, I should’ve paid more attention to the reviews when we were ordering the boxes. My fiance’s new company paid for the relocation, so we were trying to maximize the bonus as much as possible and went with the cheapest option. Now thinking I should’ve gone with Pods…

        1. Spice for this

          Ollie – Hang in there! I hope your box is delivered soon. You have moved to a wonderful state.

    3. Mimmy

      Oh that is awful :( I hope the boxes come soon. Yes, please keep us posted! Is there any way you can file a complaint – I mean beyond calling to track down the driver?

  46. endlessdaze

    Does anyone have any advice (or just moral support) for job hunting when depressed? In my case it’s lifelong chronic depression combined with being autistic or something similar, which means my job history is also rather spotty. Lots of short term positions and gaps between them. Lots of people I’m too embarrassed to ask for references.

    I’m finding it really hard to write a cover letter like “I am skilled at [blah] and very excited about the opportunity to [blag]” when my actual internal state is “I comprehensively suck, and hate everything that isn’t sleeping”. It’s even harder at a job interview when I have to do it in person and on the fly- I’m terrible even at white lies.

    (Currently teach ESL in an Asian country, but I am not suited for teaching at all and have been trying to move into something like translating/copy writing/proofreading for the last few years. Though recently I have lost all enthusiasm for that as well and now I have no idea what to do with myself)

    1. Colette

      Job hunting is hard, even when you aren’t dealing with depression or other health issues. Be kind to yourself.

      Would you be more comfortable asking your potential references for feedback about how they found working with you? If they have positive things to say, you can ask for a reference. If they don’t, you’ll know what to work on or avoid in future jobs.

      Realistically, though, I think your first step is to get help dealing with depression, if you’re not already doing that.

    2. Observer

      No job hunting advice. Some sympathy, though. And a question – are there no treatment options for the underlying issues?

    3. Mando Diao

      Could you go back to school for a short certificate program? Your professor/or advisor would be your primary reference when you started working in that field. It would be a good fresh start. You could also take an internship. It might be demoralizing, but again, it’s a good way to work for a short amount of time and rack up a reference or two.

  47. Anon for today

    Having lots of challenges the past couple of months. I really want things to change and positive stuff to start heading our way.
    I have family member battling major health issues since 2013. I think he is done with all the treatments and just wants to be left alone by the doctors and well meaning family members (family members offer advice without really having the right information).
    I left extreme TOXIC full time job a couple of months ago to work part time and go to school (for a career change). One month later was told by landlord that he wants to sell the condo we are renting and so our lease will not be renewed (we have 4 months left on the existing lease). We have rented for a couple of years and we were planning on staying for 2 more years before we either move or buy a home.
    Then in the same month my spouse was told that his job is being eliminated as of Jan. 1st!
    UGH!!! We really need some good vibes sent our way!

    1. Jean

      Anon for today, this is also a response to endlessdaze:

      Sometimes life is very hard. (Without going into lots of details, I’m also having a difficult time.) The best thing to do is to take care of yourself physically and mentally/emotionally/spiritually. Try to get enough sleep and eat healthy food rather than keeping erratic hours and subsisting on a diet of comfort/junk food. Find small good things to appreciate: a garden, happy animals or children, interpersonal kindness. Exercise as a way to relieve tension, not as a way to become the next Olympian. Keep your home tidy enough to be comfortable, not to reach some arbitrary standard of interior design and/or housekeeping excellence, but because it’s easier to be optimistic if you’re not surrounded by clutter and mess.

      None of these actions will in themselves heal ailing relatives, secure employment or lift depression, but together they can create an environment in which it’s easier to take one step after another to gradually subdue and eventually solve the problem. I’m about to go take my own advice by tackling laundry and a messy kitchen. Good luck to all of us.

      1. Jean

        P.S. It doesn’t have to be your own garden (or animals, or children). I often walk through residential neighborhoods to admire whatever is growing in the yards. (I admit I do have a small strip of land in a community garden, and nurture several blooming indoor plants at my workplace.) When I get wistful about not owning a home I remind myself that I also don’t have to find the time, energy, and funds for upkeep and repairs. Nobody minds if I let my section of the community garden become overrun by the annual flowers or perennial herbs!

        1. Anon for today

          Thank you Jean – we have been doing some of the things you suggested. It is always good to hear advice from others who are going through challenging times.
          It is sometimes magical how being outdoors can transform my outlook.
          I hope things get better for all of us.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Many, many good vibes heading your way.
      This is tough stuff and it’s hard to remember to keep looking for opportunities. Expect opportunities to pop up at any moment. I’ve reflected on some of the bleaker moments in my life and realized there were little opportunities here and there that I never even noticed because I was fighting the “bleakness”.
      What we chose to do when the chips are down can make or break the next years in our lives. I never realized how much so. It’s tempting to make decisions that ease problems now, but cause more problems later. While you are looking around for those opportunities, picture your long term goals. Try to find solutions now that mesh well with your longer term goals. I did some of this and I wish I had done more of it. Maybe with all this upheaval there is an opportunity to move more toward those longer term goals that you might have.

  48. OutlawedArts&Letters

    I finally started a blog for my art, instead of just posting it privately for friends on Facebook.

    It’s pretty basic right now as I decide on lovely things like format and gadgets. …Anyone have any experience with AdSense? It seems like there are a lot of unwritten rules about how you qualify for it. I suppose I’ll spend my weekend (MON/TUE) doing research on it instead of adding to my backlog of works to post. :)

  49. nep

    Interested in hearing about people’s experience with humidifiers. For me, with the cold weather comes dry, cracked hands and waking up parched. Will a humidifier help considerably with that? Suggestions? Drawbacks?

    1. Dynamic Beige

      Yes, it will to a certain extent. What kind of heating do you have in your home? If you can do it/stand it, try turning the heat down a little. I would also recommend finding a moisturiser you like and putting it on before you go to sleep. In the winter, I have problems with dry skin on my feet, I’ll put on some moisturiser then socks to keep it and it works, I have some cotton gloves for the same purpose. Drink some water before you go to bed (which you probably already do).

      Here is the thing about humidifiers — a lot depends on what kind of water you have. We had a humidifier that didn’t have a filter and quickly found that with our hard water, a layer of dust quickly coated everything. It was the minerals left over from the water evaporating. So I got one that had a wicking filter in it, which stopped the dust build up but the filters were not cheap and we went through them pretty fast. Then I had a water softener installed and that helped a lot of things, including dry skin in the winter.

      There are also several kinds of humidifiers — cool/warm mist, wicking. Get a cool mist one if you don’t want to deal with wicks. The warm mist are more for when you’re sick, IMO. My sibling took our warm mist one one winter into their room and the ceiling was repeatedly coated with water to the point it was dripping. That lead to the paint getting cracked and flaking off and that was a nightmare to fix — I had to strip the whole ceiling down to the plaster and repaint.

      1. kimmyontheinternet

        For the dry mouth issue, I use and love this cold mist humidifier (the bright green color is adorable!)

        http://www.amazon.com/Crane-Ultrasonic-Humidifier-Gallon-output/dp/B005PK7RW4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448255368&sr=8-1&keywords=crane+cold+mist+humidifier

        Cleaning isn’t too bad, usually just some white vinegar and water once a month run through the whole thing to give it a good cleaning.

        For the dry hands issue, I generally slather on some good hand moisturizer before going to bed and put on gloves to keep it from getting on the sheets. It also helps lock in the moisture and you wake up with your hands feeling soft and wonderful.

        I love Mane and Tail for this–it’s the only thing that really keeps my hands in good shape during winter, and has done wonders for my brittle nails. A close second is Borage Therapy, if you’re looking for something more natural and unscented.

        Moisturizer gloves: http://www.amazon.com/Aquasentials-Aqu-4649-Moisturizing-Gloves/dp/B001BKFF76/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448255485&sr=8-1&keywords=moisturizer+gloves

        Mane and Tail moisturizer: http://www.amazon.com/Mane-n-Tail-The-Hoofmaker/dp/B000GCR668/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1448255453&sr=8-3&keywords=mane+and+tail+moisturizer

        Borage therapy: http://www.amazon.com/ShiKai-Hand-Cream-Fragrance-Ounce/dp/B00014EGE6/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1448255522&sr=8-5&keywords=borage+therapy

        Hope this helps. :)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      A humidifier can certainly help– I love mine in winter. However, they can be a bitch to keep clean. You have to stay on top of them because bacteria, mildew, and mold will build up very quickly. I think that’s less of a problem with newer models, though.

      One other thing I’ve done with a humidifier is add a few drops of lavender oil to the water, which helps us all sleep, even the doggy.

      1. nep

        Sweet. Thanks.
        I’ve heard of people just leaving a bowl/pot of water in the bedroom overnight. Anyone tried this?

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I think the thing with a bowl or pot is that you’re going purely off of evaporation, which takes a long time. With a humidifier, it’s being misted directly into the air, so more water is being thrown up there faster.

          Also, if you’re going to keep it in your bedroom, get one that says it’s silent. Even the wicking ones usually have a fan in them. You don’t want to be kept up by whirring all night long!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            Other side of the coin: white noise. :) I love white noise when I sleep. But the bottom line is, know which you prefer and make sure you get a humidifier that doesn’t do the opposite.

    3. fposte

      I’m toying with a bedroom one myself. I will probably choose based on the reviews at thesweethome dot com, which does a good job of reviewing and also summarizing other reviews for all kinds of household stuff. As Dynamic Beige notes, there are several different mechanisms for humidifiers (I think I counted five), so there may be individual preference on which kind, too.

      1. nep

        Yes — I’ve seen a couple of articles laying out the advantages and disadvantages of the various types.
        Thanks for the infos/input.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It could be me, but no, a humidifier did not help me with dry hands and thirst. And it’s true they are a bit of work.
      What helped my hands was three things- increasing my water intake, working good oils into my diet and changing over to an organic dish soap*. The regular soap was doing a real number on both of us. My husband’s hands bled. (* Any organic dish soap seems to be okay, I try to get the cheaper store brand.)

      For adding moisture to the air, I have a drying rack for my clothes. I take the clothes from my washer and put them on the drying rack in my bedroom. Sounds weird, I know. It adds just enough moisture to the air, it saves on the utility bill and my clothes last longer because I don’t throw them in a dryer. It’s a bit extreme and not an idea that would suit everyone but it might help to think of options for your own setting.

      Since I have made these changes, I use hand lotion maybe four or five times a year. A bottle lasts forever, now.

      1. Swoop

        +1 for oils – even just remembering to take an Omega 3-6-9 every day or so during the winter has stopped my feet from cracking

      2. nep

        Thanks for this.
        I am not drinking nearly enough water lately — a culprit for many things, I’m sure, including recent breakouts.
        Thanks for the reminder that for many, many reasons I must get my water intake back up. I know how much better I feel (and look) when I drink it consistently throughout the day.

      3. Dynamic Beige

        Aside from the water softener, you just reminded me that I also changed soaps. I have a weakness for nice soaps now. I like the shea butter ones from Occitane they seem to have just enough moisturiser in them without being too oily or perfume-y.

    5. Observer

      Humidifiers can be hugely useful. Cold water mist works well for most people, and they are less likely to get contaminated by growth in the humidifier. But, both types do need to be cleaned, and some people really do need the warm humidifiers.

    6. Stephanie

      Yes, it definitely helped me when I lived in a house with giant radiators. I also use it constantly out here since it’s super dry.

      Cetaphil makes a moisturizing cream that’s the consistency of Crisco. It’s one of the few moisturizing products that helps me in the desert. It’s also fragrance-free if fragrances bother you.

      I also really like the Hempz line of lotion. It’s kind of gimmicky (there’s a marijuana leaf on the bottle), but I found it’s a really good moisturizer.

      You can also put coconut oil on your feet at night and put socks on to help with the cracked feet.

  50. Colette

    Anyone have thoughts on books for pre-teens? Specifically, they’re 12 (or almost 12). Girls, so female main characters are a plus. They loved the Vampire Academy series. One liked Percy Jackson, the other not so much. One liked The Fault in Our Stars and If I Stay. Harry Potter was ok, but they didn’t love it.

    They’re kind of past the books you’d find in the 9-12 year old section.

    I’m thinking of Divergent but am open to other suggestions. (I also might go with older books like Lois Duncan or Monica Hughes.)

        1. Elkay

          The Tracy Beaker series and The Illustrated Mum are the two I remember but she’s written over 100 books and was the children’s laureate for a while.

    1. fposte

      That’s a little broad, but here are some possible authors to look at: Rosemary Clement-Moore; Maggie Stiefvater; Hannah Moskowitz; Frances Hardinge; Sherri Smith; Lish McBride; Jandy Nelson; Sarah Ockler; Michele Jaffe.

      Might also be worth considering storyteller-type nonfiction, like Candace Fleming’s The Family Romanov.

      1. Colette

        I’ve never heard of most of these authors, so I will look them up. A few years ago I got them books from the Lettes From Canad series – fiction books about historical Canadian events – and they liked those, so that’s a good idea.

        1. fposte

          I was going for good storytellers with a sense of humor, some on the fantasy and some on the romance/adventure side–maybe they’ll be promising another time if not now, too.

    2. Cruciatus

      I’m sad they didn’t love Harry Potter so they may not like these suggestions either, but a bunch of us (waaaay older than preteens) loved Pendragon by DJ MacHale. It is a male main character though. I also enjoyed the Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. Again, another male main character, but the females are depicted as strong and smart (same for Pendragon). In both of these series, I think I liked that the characters were smart and sometimes had to make hard choices and they didn’t base it on silly things. I could understand their thought process on things. I can’t always do that with certain books so I really appreciate the ones I can. If they liked them, it would last them a little while as there are quite a few books in each series, though I would say Ranger’s Apprentice would be faster as the books are shorter.

      What about going in the way back machine….The Baby-sitter’s Club? I didn’t want to admit to people I liked them (tomboy) but I did! So much! Our local library still has nearly all of the books so they are around out there.

      1. Colette

        I’m pretty sure what they didn’t like about Harry Potter was that too many other people like it, so I would rule out that type of book. Thanks for the suggestions – if nothing else, now I want to read them!

        1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

          Tell them to read Diana Wynne Jones, because Rowling owes a lot to her and she was sadly so little known until the Harry Potter revolution came along. Howl’s Moving Castle is a real feminist thought-provoker.

    3. Allison Mary

      Look up the CHRONOS Files on Amazon – there are three full length novels, and I think three shorter “novellas” that take place in between each novel. They’re about time travel – the author had a friend who was a historian, and the friend was expressing a wish that she could travel back in time to research historical issues and witness them directly (all while staying out of sight and not impacting history, of course). That got the author thinking – what would actually happen if that were possible? These books are the result. :)

      I really enjoyed them – the first book won an award for something like “best breakout new author” on Amazon.

    4. Sunflower

      I used to love Babysitters club but can’t remember who they are geared to- I think middle school?

      A lot of YA books I read might be better suited towards teenagers(like gossip girl) but I think Sarah Dessen books might be good for that age. I also love Jessica Darling series and I believe Megan McCafferty just released a prequel that is geared more towards pre-teens.

      1. Colette

        The babysitter club books are a little after my time – I think my slightly younger sister read them – but I think they might be too young. I think these girls are getting into more teenagery books.

    5. katamia

      Have they read the Vampire Academy spinoff series? It’s much weaker than the Vampire Academy books IMO, but they still might like them. Tamora Pierce’s books. Start with Alanna: The First Adventure–it’s her first book and the start of one of her better series. I also loved David Eddings’s Belgariad books at that age.

      Also, depending on what they liked/didn’t like about Harry Potter (if you know specifics, I might be able to get a better sense of whether or not they’d like these), they might like the Skulduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy. Female main character, and they’re VERY similar in tone to Harry Potter, but the plots are less cliche and also darker.

      How mature are they regarding violence/sexual content? The line between YA and adult was a little bit grayer and thinner when I was that age and I had parents who paid no attention to what I read, so in thinking about what I read around that age, it might be more than what they’re ready for/what their parents think they’re ready for. But if there are relatively few to no restrictions, I should have more recommendations.

      1. Colette

        They’re pretty unrestricted, book-wise. Really Vampire Academy is not a series I’d recommend for that age, but they loved it (and for one of them I think it’s the first series she really loved).

        I think they didn’t love Harry Potter out of sheer contrariness, but the lack of female characters probably contributed, too. (Hermione is great, but she’s sometimes not around for chapters at a time.)

        1. katamia

          Ah, okay. Well, Skulduggery Pleasant does have a female lead and at least one other important female character (it’s been awhile since I’ve read them, and I haven’t read them all, so there might be some I’m forgetting).

          They might like Mercedes Lackey, too–her Arrows books might be a good place to start even though I’m not a huge fan of them. I started with Magic’s Pawn when I was young, but that one is almost entirely male-populated. If they like fairy tales/stories based on fairy tales, they might like Lackey’s Five Hundred Kingdoms series too.

          1. Tara R.

            Mercedes Lackey can be pretty racy. I read the Last Herald-Mage at 13 or so and I was somewhat scandalized by the sex scenes. And then very, very alarmed by the gangrape scene that finishes off the trilogy (although I read TKAM at 10 and was completely unbothered, so who knows).

            1. VintageLydia USA

              I was reading Laurell K. Hamilton at 15ish (NOT recommended for 12 year olds at all, or 15 year olds for that matter, btw) so Mercedes Lackey was really tame for me. The Arrows books has a couple implied sex scenes and other characters talk about sex and having sex but nothing explicit. The bits that made me blanch were the torture scenes in the third book. The torture itself is not really described but the resulting injuries absolutely are. The series in general does not shy away from violence, including a suicide attempt (spoilers, but I think it deserves the warning.) It’s very clear that main characters have a dangerous job and beloved characters DO die.

              I mostly like them because romance is a part of the story, but it’s not central. It is chock full of female characters, almost all of them strong even with their flaws, or despite them. It’s also has prominent gay and lesbian characters and I think those relationships are handled pretty well, especially considering the era in which they were written. They describe war and battles in ways that isn’t glorifying, but still allowing for bright moments and heroes to emerge.

              I have most of the Valdemar books and I read them through once every 2ish years or so. I’m in the midst of a reread right now so this is all relatively fresh :)

    6. Finny

      Perhaps The Dark is Rising Sequence by Susan Cooper? The books are, in order, Over Sea, Under Stone, The Dark is Rising, Greenwitch, The Grey King (won the Newbury), and Silver on the Tree. Mostly male main characters (the main protagonist is an eleven-year-old British boy), but several of the books do have a female main character.

      They are my favourite books ever, and I first read them around age eleven or so, though I started with The Grey King, as I didn’t realize it was a set, at first.

      Over Sea, Under Stone has a bit of a different tone than the others, as it’s more a straight mystery, since it wasn’t originally written as part of anything, but as a standalone.

      All the books deal with Arthurian myths to some degree, with one of the major adult characters being a version of Merlin.

      I’d advise to stay away from the movie version, The Seeker, of the second book, released a few years back. It’s nothing at all like the book.

      Other books I liked at that age, when I wasn’t reading John Grishim, Michael Crichton, etc., were as follows (and I frequently reread them even now) :

      The House with a Clock in Its Walls and anything else by John Bellairs

      The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

      The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts

      The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

      I’m sure I can think of lots of others, too, if needed.

        1. Finny

          Also at that age (and now.. Yeah, I’m weird) I loved the Trixie Belden mysteries and the Meg mysteries. I know they reelected some of the Trixie ones a few years back, but I don’t know about the Meg ones. There’s about 40 Trixie Belden books, but only six Meg books.

          1. Kerry (Like the County in Ireland)

            I loved Trixie Belden. I actualy have the whole series and some extra copies. I am saving them for my niece.

    7. CG

      The Hunger Games and The Selection are similar to Divergent (I think the Hunger Games is the best of the three).

      Eleanor and Park is supposed to be great (I haven’t read it, but I think it’s similarish to The Fault in Our Stars).

      I loved The Witch of Blackbird Pond when I was that age, and I just finished reading The War that Saved My Life which was awesome.

      The Princess Diaries series is also really fun.

      1. Sara

        Eleanor and Park is amazing, although it’s got some domestic abuse stuff that might not be suitable for 12 year olds. Fangirl (also by Rainbow Rowell) is also great. It’s YA but the characters are college freshmen, so there is discussion of underage drinking. I’d suggest reading them first, both because they are excellent books and to determine whether they’re good choices for the pre-teens in question right now. (And if they’re not right for right now, keep the titles in mind for when they’re a little older.)

        1. Jillociraptor

          I also loved both Eleanor and Park and Fangirl. One of my best friends is a middle school librarian and she mentioned that Eleanor and Park seems to resonate more with people who can feel some nostalgia/distance from high school rather than people who are currently in it. OP’s girls are a little younger, so maybe it will still appeal?

          “Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray was really fantastic. It’s about a bunch of pageant competitors whose plane crashes on a deserted island. It’s campy and goofy, but there’s a really diverse cast of characters (in many ways), and lots of story that navigates the competitiveness and solidarity of teen girl culture.

          Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles) and Scott Westerfield (Uglies series) are both authors whose books I would have devoured and loved when I was in middle school, but as an adult I find them less intriguing.

      2. Colette

        Thanks for the suggestions! I’ve been considering The Hunger Games, but one of the girls picked it up this summer and didn’t get into it, so I’m afraid she wouldn’t be interested. The other one might like it, though.

    8. Amber Rose

      I’m personally a big fan of the Song of the Lioness and Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce. Both are fantasy YA series about girls who want to be knights, so the one who liked Percy Jackson would probably like them.

      I also encourage everyone of every age to read Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series. It’s not much like Harry Potter though it is about kids who become wizards. There’s no school or anything, just a manual and the willingness to fight the forces of evil. It’s slightly sci-fi, there’s a lot of off world travel and aliens and parallel dimensions.

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell

        Seconding Tamara Pierce. I’m 27 and just started reading the protector of the small series and they are too charming not to read through.

        I like them much more than Divergent, which I quite after the first book. I also heard the relationship dynamics in the second book are a lot more problematic with the boyfriend becoming very controlling and taking on much more of the hero stuff while she stands aside. Didn’t read it myself so I don’t know for sure.

        1. kimmyontheinternet

          Thirding/fourthing/fifthing Tamora Pierce. Those books were *pivotal* to my adolescence and are amazing portrayals of young women. I like the Wild Magic series as well, by the same author.

          Also, the Abhorsen Trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen are the names of the three books) is absolutely phenomenal and really unique in the YA category. I go back and re-read it regularly even now.

          Lastly, the Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede are great, including a strong-willed princess protagonist with a fantastic sense of humor. The books are hilarious and have lovely characters.

    9. Belle diVedremo

      Love Robin McKinley’s work. Seconding Tamora Pierce. Both have strong girls as protagonists. Both generally write fantasy worlds.

    10. Veridian Dynamics

      Long-time reader, first-time poster and lover of books!

      I remember stumbling across Sabriel by Garth Nix back in early high school and I still love his entire Old Kingdom series (currently at 4 books). Great, strong female characters.

    11. Colette

      Thanks everyone. The site is not cooperating today, so I’m giving up on individual replies, but I appreciate the suggestions! You’ve given me a lot to look at.

    12. Blue_eyes

      – Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech (still one of my favorite books of all time and she has many other books they might like as well)
      – Children of the River by Linda Crew
      – Beauty by Robin McKinley (I see others have recommended her, I’ve only read this one, but it was a favorite as a teen)
      – The Sevenwaters Trilogy by Juliet Marillier (there’s actually 6 books in this “trilogy” now)

    13. Sparkly Librarian

      Tamora Pierce! Especially the Protector of the Small quartet. Also the Trickster series and the Bekah Cooper books (I think the first one is Terrier).

    14. Mando Diao

      I think I read my first David Sedaris when I was around 16.

      I loved the Wrinkle in Time books when I was a tween. Meg was the only literary character I related to for a long time. In retrospect, there’s a lot of bonkers stuff in those books (vestiges of the ’60s, I suppose), and a lot of the religious overtones went over my head, but I think they’re great reading for young girls.

      Rachel Cohn does great YA protagonists, if you’re okay with some PG-13 content. Gingerbread is adorable, and Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a cute romance (and a great teen movie).

  51. Mimmy

    Another cat post!!

    We took our cat to the vet on Friday to get her a checkup and updated shots, and to see why she’s been having diarrhea. The vet gave her a couple of prescriptions, including a liquid medicine that you have to administer by syringe into her mouth. Oh she haaaaaaaates it!!! I actually have to hold her down while DH gives it to her. Yesterday, she vomitted it back up. Crossing fingers she keeps it down today. The vet did say that, as cats get older, they start having problems like this – she is 14.

    She was supposed to also have bloodwork done, but she’d gotten too agitated from waiting around and getting poked and prodded, so we go back tomorrow to get it done.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’m going through this with Sam right now, with liquid medicine (he’s had a long-term cold). The first time I gave it to him, he immediately threw it up. I called the vet, and she said give it in smaller doses. So now I give half the syringe, wait for him to swallow it, then give the other half. That seems to work.

      The other thing that has helped: I get two cat treats, and let him smell them. Then I give him the medicine, then immediately the cat treats. I think knowing they’re coming makes him more tolerant, and eating them right afterwards helps with the taste of the medicine.

    2. Allison Mary

      Do you feed her wet food that’s high in protein? If not, I’d definitely suggest moving her over to a good quality wet food for a couple of reasons:

      1) Cats are descended from desert animals and they don’t possess the natural instinct to drink enough water to combat the lack of moisture in dry kibble. They would normally get almost all of their hydration from eating prey – muscle meat, blood, etc. Many cats who are strictly on dry kibble diets can have issues with their urinary tract, and I believe the dry kibble is also harder on their kidneys.

      2) As she gets older and you have to start giving her more meds and supplements, you can ask for liquid versions of most of these meds (or crush up pills into powder) and you can mix them into her food. One thing I’ve learned from Jackson Galaxy is that most cats simply Do Not Like Change of any kind – so the trick to this is going S-L-O-W-L-Y. I’ve been able to get my 18 year old cat to take anything I need to give her, simply by starting with barely-detectable amounts of the medicine (two or three drops of liquid) mixed into her food, and then SLOWLY increasing that over time, until I’m finally giving her the full dosage amount.

      There are tons of books and websites I could recommend about holistic cat food diets, if you’re interested. I actually bought a meat grinder a while back and make my own cat food (it’s cheaper!), but I know not everybody is up for that. I just wanted to make the point that quality food is often the best medicine, especially for older animals – and conversely, poor quality food can be the cause of many health issues, as I’m sure you’re already aware. :)

      1. Not So NewReader

        Great point about the water. My vet told me to add water to my dog’s meals. Sure enough, he drinks all the water I put in with his food (1/2 cup, 60 pound dog). I was concerned about him not getting enough water and she gave a similar explanation as what you are saying here.

  52. Coffee Ninja

    Gift help please! 2 different conundrums:

    1) My boss is having a holiday party for her direct reports at her house. I was actually looking forward to it, because I don’t get to spend as much time with these coworkers as I would like. However, we’re doing a gift exchange too (UGH). Price point is $25, the attendees are late 20s to late 30s, all women except for 1 guy.

    2) My mom. She is SO hard to buy for – she doesn’t like household items (like kitchen gadgets, or something) as gifts; she doesn’t have any hobbies (she doesn’t read or do crafts or anything). PLUS her birthday was a couple days ago so I already used up one of my good ideas. I got her tickets to a museum near us that’s exhibiting Vatican stuff, because we’re Catholic & she had mentioned she really wanted to go – museums usually aren’t her thing either. Last Christmas I got her a canvas print of a picture of her & my grandmom when my mom was a kid, with “Love, Mom” in my grandmom’s handwriting. (It was from the etsy shop HandwrittenSentiment, and it was amazing!) I’ve also bought her nice makeup kits before but she won’t use them. She doesn’t wear much jewelry, but I leave that one for brother :)

    I’ve been reading here for years and know you all are much more creative than me :) Thanks for any help you can give!

    1. Chocolate Teapot

      1. Gift exchange as in a Secret Santa? If I don’t know the recipient so well, then something edible. Last year I gave a Swarovski crystal keyring and some chocolate, so even if it wasn’t so personal, the keyring could be regifted. I wear scarves and have received those as gifts before.

      2. Dvd boxed set of a favourite TV show or film?

    2. Dynamic Beige

      Office gift exchange: nice bottle of wine. If the person who receives it doesn’t drink, it is an excellent thing that can be re-gifted.

      As for your mom, dunno. Some malls have gift card/certificate programs that work for every store in the mall. I mean, if money were no object I would say package tour to Rome complete with guided tour of Vatican City… but maybe a new/special rosary? Donation to her church?

      1. Coffee Ninja

        Good call on the office exchange! There is a really good local winery near my house, and I don’t live anywhere near work, so it will be a new thing to my coworkers. They have some seasonal wines so I could go with one of those.

    3. Cruciatus

      For #1–last year a bought portable chargers for a few people (including myself). I bought the Anker brand one and it comes in pretty handy when you need to recharge your phone/camera/whatever and you’re away from an outlet at home or your car. They were only about $10 each. Maybe something like that will work. Gender neutral and most of those people probably use something that would fit the charger.

      For #2–I’m in a difficult situation with my sister but it’s because she buys what she wants when she wants it. She would technically be easy to buy for if she didn’t do that. Are there other experiences you could buy your mom? A food cooking class, one of those Color and Cocktail sessions (that’s what they’re called where I live–where you paint something an artist sets up on canvas and, well, drink). Maybe an “of the month” club (either for a year or less. You can usually get them in 3 or 6 month intervals)–maybe some sort of food one–steaks, desserts, or cheese. This stuff would only be temporarily around the house (in case she doesn’t want more “stuff”). Restaurant gift certificate for a place she wouldn’t pay to go herself? A massage? A certificate to her favorite salon?

      A few years ago I bought my mom an internet radio and now she wants another one for downstairs (even though they are portable!). But this way she can listen to classical music whenever she wants (because our local PBS radio station keeps lowering the amount of time they play it on air and her CDs get too repetitive after a while). Is there something your mom has complained about like that that has a solution you could provide?

      1. BRR

        Ooh I love my Anker charger!

        Also gourmet hot chocolate/tea/coffee is good all purpose gift this time of year

        1. Elizabeth West

          Oh, me too! I saw an Anker charger in a Buzzfeed post of things you must have and it was half off on Amazon. So I bought it. It’s WONDERFUL!! I will never go anywhere without it again. :)

      2. Coffee Ninja

        So, I think I’m going to by one of those chargers for myself :)

        I really like the “of a month” idea! I just have to think of something she would like…

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            That is effing brilliant. I’ve been trying to figure out what to get my parents and grandparents… maybe an “of the month”. Hmm.

    4. FutureLibrarian

      1.) Agree with the alcohol comment. I am in that age range, and at my last gift exchange, everyone did alcohol (except for me, as I don’t drink…awkward haha). However, I kept the fancy beer I was given and my lovely sister drank it when she came to visit. No alcohol to purchase, which saved me money!

      2.) My mom and sister, both of whom have disposable income and can buy what they like, love the wine and paint classes. They are more artistically talented than I, but they love them!

    5. Brandy

      $25 bottle of wine. If you want to be more creative, disguise it in a non-wine looking package.

      If you want to go the extra mile, do a $18 bottle of wine + cheese to pair with it

    6. ginger ale for all

      Could you get your mom a gift certificate for a maid service for one day or a yard service? My parents are getting to an age where it is a nice luxury for now but it will become a necessity within a few years so it might be a nice toe dip in the water for the future to see what was liked and not liked about the situation.

  53. Dynamic Beige

    Someone was commenting last week(? might have been longer) about fleece lined… tights? Leggings? I had no idea such a thing existed and I keep thinking about them. In order to save money on heating, I don’t have the thermostat turned up and these might be a new way to keep warm. Where are they available? Are they a reasonable price? Thanks!

    1. fposte

      Can you order from Sierra Trading Post up there? I have another tab open with baselayer shopping, including fleece tights, and they’re usually a good place for minimizing price hit.

    2. Coffee Ninja

      I just bought some from Sierra Trading Post and I loooooove them. They are insanely warm and comfortable (except for the fact that the waistband comes up past my belly button, but I’m just about 5’2″ so that a problem I run into often!). I think I paid $21 +$3 shipping

      www[dot]sierratradingpost[dot]com/avalanche-wear-mogul-fleece-base-layer-bottoms-for-women~p~3228t/

    3. sarakg

      I got a pair from Roots and they’re amazing! They’re like a cross between leggings and thin sweat pants. So they’re elastic waist and have sort of thin cuffs at the bottom, but I’ve worn them under a loose tunic/dress with boots and they looked nice enough for the money I spent ($40ish). But they’re also thin enough and fleecy inside to wear under pants as an extra layer if needed. Would seriously buy another pair if the weather were cold enough to warrant it!

    4. Belle diVedremo

      Warm – layers. Our place is always cold in the winter.
      Silk or high tech (or wool, if you’re comfortable with that on your skin) long johns and camis/undershirts.
      Fleece or flannel lined jeans. Thick tights or leggings.
      Tops with standing collars (turtle necks, quarter zip fleece, etc) to keep your neck warm and protect it from sweaters, etc (so you don’t have to wash the wool as often, or have an itchy neck).
      Down or similar vests you can pull over a lot of things.
      Assuming you have a sweater collection. If not, thrift stores often have wonderful ones. I’ve been collecting cashmere cardigans (at ~$5 each) from them for years.
      Hats!

      Lap cats are another great warming system.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I bought some lined jeans last year and they are awesome. Have more sweaters and fleece jackets than I want I think about — it’s in the bottoms department that I’m lacking. I have one pair of silk long johns but meh… I like the idea of leggings because I could get up, throw them on and they would be warmer than PJs. I have a couple pairs of sweat pants… guess I’m just looking to mix it up.

        Unfortunately, my cats are not of the lap-sitting variety. They will lie on top of me if I’m lying down, but not when I’m sitting up. They also don’t like cardboard boxes. If they didn’t purr and bathe so much I would wonder if they are cats.

        If they sell these leggings at Roots, I can stop by and check them out! Thanks! They might also have something at SAIL, which seems to be similar to Sierra Trading Post.

    5. ginger ale for all

      WalMart has them in my area. They also had fleece tights and they had basic colors and some milder looking patterns.

      1. ginger ale for all

        Also, to save on heating costs, look into microfleece sheets. I got them for an ex years ago and this should have been a big clue but that was the most exciting thing that happened in that bedroom. I did learn though that you can’t wear microfleece pajamas with microfleece sheets, it’s like a weird Velcro experiment, you cannot easily move around. But those sheets were awesome! I really need to get a set for new boyfriend.

    6. Nicole

      Do you have a Meijer where you live? I just bought a pair of fleece lined leggings there that were on sale for $7.50. I hope they are as comfy as they look! The brand I bought is Capelli New York and I found them by the socks.

  54. Hypnotist Collector

    I was on the phone last night with my BFF from high school, and we got online and got tickets to see James Taylor and Jackson Browne at Wrigley Field next June (she lives in Chicago area, I live in Colorado). This is a very fun thing to look forward to! Yes, it will be a very grey-haired boomer audience (we’re in that demographic) and we’re in the middle-price seats, but Jackson Browne at Cubs Field in a real city…. it’ll be a reminder all winter that summer WILL come.

    1. Coffee Ninja

      That sounds like so much fun! It should be a great concert, and I love Chicago (only been once, but I need to go back!).

    2. Elizabeth West

      Cool! I inadvertently saw James Taylor at the Hollywood Bowl, at one of the John Williams concerts I went to. He substituted for Morgan Freeman who was supposed to read from The Reivers while the music played. Then JW was all, “You know you could PLAY something….” and they found him a guitar and he played a song. Pretty cool. :)

    3. Searching

      We saw James Taylor perform with MoTab (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) a few years ago and it was fabulous. Tickets were free but you had to enter a lottery. I made my daughter do the lottery too to increase our chances (she lived elsewhere at the time) and it was her entry that got us the tickets. Yes, lots of gray-haired boomers but we actually saw all generations there.

  55. OrganizedChaos

    Question: How do you get family to understand that although you celebrate Christmas you do not want to be given gifts or participate in family gift exchanges.

    Backstory: With a semi-large (8-10) size family, Christmas gift giving has pretty much been a gift card exchange even if we try to have people list three things they would like, they simply list stores to get gift cards. Earlier this year my husband and I decided that we no longer wanted to participate in GC exchanges and advised both of our families that although we will be at our family celebrations, we will not be exchanging gifts and ask that we not be given them either. Both families had apoplexy and have since (in so many ways) made it known how selfish my husband and I have been because “It is not about the gift but how giving makes the gift giver feel and I should just let them feel good if I cared for them” but the reality is, none of the people involved are truly that selfless and do not expect something in return. I have even suggested that if they truly felt that they needed to give and didn’t expect something in return then they could donate to a charity of their choice in our name. That seems to actually offend some family members.

    My husband and I are givers; givers of time to homeless shelters, animal rescues, nursing homes and hundreds of letters each year to those who have or are currently serving in the military; givers of money to several charities; givers of food when we walk into local grocery stores that have the $5 bags of food for the food banks and we drop a couple of hundred dollars just on those $5 bags. Or will use coupons to be able to buy more of the things that the food banks needs… things such as this. So to experience pettiness when it comes to asking not to receive gifts nor participate in gift card exchanges causes us to resent the family members involved because though we try hard not to judge, we do not see them “giving” to people just for the sake of giving but giving only to receive.

    It is discouraging and causes us to feel that we want no part of being around family at this time of year.

    Thank you ahead of time for your thoughts and responses.

    1. Colette

      Well, there is value in giving to people you love, and I think there can be a feeling of rejection if you show and receive love through gifts and the person you want to give to isn’t interested. However, once you’re exchanging gift cards, I’m not sure how much that applies. (I have nothing against gift cards in general, but to me the joy of getting someone a gift is in finding something they’d love. If you’re buying them the gift card they asked for, that’s not rewarding IMO.)

      But I think that regardless in your families’ motives, they are feeling rejected, so I’d approach it from that perspective.

      Could you suggest an activity for all of you to do together, either in lieu of gift giving or as your gift to the group? My family did laser tag a few years back – everyone from the little kids to the seniors enjoyed it. You could do a cooking event (maybe one of those places where you assembling freezer meals), a charity event (sorting food at the food bank), something outdoors (skating and hot chocolate, if you live somewhere that’s feasible), a movie day, whatever – the key is to make it clear you’re not rejecting them.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I have nothing against gift cards in general, but to me the joy of getting someone a gift is in finding something they’d love. If you’re buying them the gift card they asked for, that’s not rewarding IMO.

        See, I take issue with this, because I have people who are all about finding THE PERFECT GIFT and wrapping it like Martha freaking Stewart and it ends up being something I can’t even use or wear or that is completely not my taste at all. They buy what they think I would like and don’t ever bother to ask what I actually want or need.

        So if they actually asked me, “Hey, what do you want?” and I said, “An Amazon gift card,” and I got that, I’d be about a thousand times happier than to open a box full of junk I don’t want. I’m guessing you don’t think it’s rewarding for YOU, but trust me, if I ask for that gift card and I get something else, I’m going to figure you aren’t thinking about me at all. Giving a gift isn’t about how it makes the giver feel. That way lies feelings of obligation, agendas, etc. Anyway, gift cards are great–it’s free shopping for me to get whatever I want. I got a gift card for my birthday and with it, I was able to purchase a Zuca bag for skating that is much more durable and useful than what I had.

        I do love your ideas of a family activity. That is a really terrific suggestion for adults, and as people’s kids get older and become adults themselves, it also becomes less about presents and stockings, etc. because they end up buying what they want for themselves anyway.

        I only wish I could get my family to realize this.

        1. Colette

          Don’t get me wrong, I think a gift card is a fantastic gift for someone who is saving up for a purchase, or for whom money is tight but they would love to go shopping, but for someone who can go out and buy what they want when they want, it’s more of a chore than a gift. And if a gift exchange is nothing but people buying each other gift cards they ask for, they might as well each save their money and buy themselves what they want.

          1. Elizabeth West

            I see your point, but that’s what they’re asking for. So if you’re going to participate, why waste your money on something they don’t want?

            However, if the OP doesn’t want to participate, he/she doesn’t have to. I’ve been trying for the last several years to get my family to confine our family get-together gifts to the kids and leave the adults out of it. What they do at home is their own business.

            I still think the activity thing is brilliant.

        2. Shell

          Tangent: I’ve always been mystified at why culturally it’s fine to gift gift cards but not cash. The latter has no expiry, store limitations, or regulations! And it’s as easy too.

          But I’m Asian and giving money is a very normal thing. I still find the whole thing baffling.

          1. Felicia

            Interestingly, here gift cards that are for a monetary value cannot legally expire, which makes sense to me.

            I don’t know if that’s the real reason, but my theory is that for gift cards, to get one that the person likes, you have to know at least something about them, and have to somewhat thoughtful in thinking of their interests. Cash is still awesome, but you don’t need to know anything about the person, so perhaps gift cards are a weird way to prove they’re the most thoughtfulest evar, because they require a certain knowledge of the person that cash wouldn’t.

            I’d still totally take and appreciate a cash gift though!

    2. fposte

      Oh, I’m sorry that went that way; that sounds unpleasant. I think it can be really hard for people to not hear a unilateral withdrawal as a commentary on their gift-giving practices and the subtext of exchange, and it sounds like that’s how it was taken (it also sounds like that’s how you felt it, so maybe it’s fair for them to have read it that way).

      So what do you want to do? Do you want to change your mind on your decision? Do you want to come up with another way to demonstrate that you’re still wanting to feel involved in the sharing but in a different way–like a big shareable gift rather than checking off gift cards? Would you be okay with bowing out on family entirely for holiday stuff at this point, and would you be considering ways to compensate for that at other times or is that a fair indication of a drift you’d be in favor of anyway?

      I do think that both sides here might be emotionally overloading what happens in the gift exchange when a lot of it’s not about the gift exchange. So you could consider what this is saying about how you want to relate to your families and deal with it accordingly–or you could say if it’s not really about the gift exchange, you’ll collect the gift cards and donate them on with joy. (My impression is that you don’t want to call back that sailed ship, but I thought it was worth mentioning.)

    3. Luisa in Dallas

      Please stand by your decision. Your families are being unreasonable in the extreme to criticize you for not wanting to participate in the gift exchanges. (And, I would still think that even if they all exchanged actual gifts instead of gift cards.) Misplaced priorities on their part. What about the pleasure of just getting together?

      If I were you, I would be very, very tempted to pass up any holiday get-togethers with them, at least for this year. If I did go, I would make my attendance contingent on their agreement to shut up about your decision, even if they don’t agree with it.

      Maybe by next year, any family members who secretly agree with you guys will get the courage to sit out the gift exchange as well, or at least the courage to defend your decision.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I am trying to figure out how this works. So, let’s say you and I are sibs. I give you a $100 gift card and you give me a $100 gift card. umm. Just not feeling the holiday spirit here. We could just take the $100 and go by our own gifts and call it a day. It’d be more to the point, I think.

      I totally get where you are at.

      Maybe you could tell them that you want donations to x, y and z charities, if they are so bent on giving you something. You know, privately I have always thought that is the ultimate in wealth when your friends and family make donations to charity in your name. You have ARRIVED, you are a very wealthy person. Not wealthy in a monetary sense, though. It’s a different kind of wealth.

      They don’t get it. So you may have to give them gifts because the fallout is too much to bear. OR maybe this year give them all some ducks or chickens (Heifer International) donated to someone else by you. Or tell them that you want gift cards like Mastercard or Visa that you are donating to your fav charity, X, this year. That is, wade into this with them.
      If you chose to go any of the routes the first year will be rocky. The second year will not be a lot better but at least they will know what is going to be your request.
      A friend of mine wrestles with this in her fam. They just don’t get it. Her family is wealthier than she is by a lot. My observation here is that once you start this, it is quite a while before you get them to hear what you are saying. Gear up for the long haul.

      I have thought about doing this in the past. I got sick of all the stuff I was bringing home. I had no place to store it and it would be decades before I got around to using it. I know first hand this is not always a “holier-than-thou” thing. It’s just an “I am sick of it all” thing. I worked a full time job plus other commitments left me very little time to deal with all this stuff. I ended up just donating the gifts instead because,as you can guess, I did not have time for the argument that would follow because of trying to make such a change.

    5. Amy Farrah Fowler

      So sorry you’re going through this. Gift giving (and receiving) is definitely an emotionally charged thing. I get frustrated with some of it as well, especially with my in-laws. Perhaps you could suggest that instead of each person purchasing gifts for everyone else (that end up only being gift cards anyway) that you could do a white elephant or secret santa so you would only be responsible for one gift instead of several.

      I know the goal is to get out of it entirely, but this might be a suitable compromise that doesn’t make everyone else so angry…

    6. misspiggy

      I like to give and receive gifts because they involve careful thought about the recipient. In any family, individuals can really value that kind of attention because it makes them feel seen and appreciated for who they are, rather than just being Aunt, Sister, Cousin etc. Characterising yourselves as givers to those who need it, and not wanting to give to your family, could give the impression that you’re not interested in your relatives and you don’t think they’re worthy of appreciation.

      I don’t think it matters that everyone has devolved to gift card exchanges because they don’t actually know each other’s preferences that well – the rest of the family wants to at least pretend to give each other individual attention and appreciation. Your decision has stripped away the polite fiction that everyone gives each other carefully thought out gifts, and has shown up the silliness of the whole process – but most people are silly, and vulnerable.

      Could you do something to repair the hurt feelings, as well as fixing the gift giving process so that it works better for you? If you dislike having to spend money on others, and them having to spend money on you, could you go with small but personal handmade food or craft gifts, and in return ask for either charity donations, or no gift worth more than $5? That minimises the cost but still allows you to show personal attention to each member of the family. It also gets you out of being seen as not wanting to do nice things for your relatives.

  56. Key to the West

    Has anyone ever spent Christmas alone?

    I have two weeks off over the holidays and am seriously considering spending them alone.

    I have just returned to my parents house this weekend and it is not good for my mental health, while I enjoy being back to catch up with friends being with my parents isn’t healthy.

    The only thing stopping me from definitely staying away at Christmas is how lonely I will get – I have no friends where I live and I’m quite fragile at present.

    1. Colette

      I haven’t, but honestly I think I’d be fine with it. If you epdecide to do it, I’d suggest making it a day filled with things you love – make up yourself a fancy breakfast or spend the day watching your favourite movies or whatever will bring you joy.

      Or volunteer somewhere for part of the day. Doing something nice for others is fun.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Cannot speak highly enough of volunteering. I have been on my own for a few years now- just the way the cookies crumbled in my life. My cousin said, “Don’t make lemonade out of those lemons, make sorbet instead!” Yep. I agreed. I do volunteer for one holiday and it is a blast. I have a full day, I am so busy that I have no time to think about life stuff. Then when I get home I am so tired I just want to sack out. Perfect.
        I do the same thing each year so I see the same people each year- this is very cool.

        Yes, the first year you go it might not be easy to get yourself into the swing of it. So think of it as an investment. You’ll work into it and in years to come you will be happy that you did.

        1. fposte

          Where do you volunteer, NSNR? I’m looking into the possibilities around here and would love to know what has worked for you.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I work with an incredible group of people cooking a community dinner at a nearby fire house. Their work ethic is exemplary. They have streamlined the whole process in such a manner that we do a tremendous amount of work with relative ease. There are two seatings (meals) and we do take out orders. Volunteers drive the meals to the recipients. Last year we did just over 300 meals total.

            Everything is volunteers and donations. Everything. It’s not income based, it’s open to everyone and there is no charge. So you know what happens. People slip twenties or larger bills to the people who run it to help pay for everything.

            Interesting part: This whole thing started years ago with a bunch of friends who got together and said, “Let’s see if we can do this.” And that might be a key for you, if you can find a group who started as friends and grew their event together, you might find a gem. I gotta say. It’s a privilege to work with these folks.

            1. fposte

              Oh, that sounds really cool! Thanks for the overview. It’s something to think about around here, that’s for sure.

    2. nep

      I did a couple of times while living overseas. New Year’s Eve too. By choice. I really really like my alone time, so it has never been much of a negative for me.
      It can be really great if you take the time to do things you know will be gratifying, relaxing, rejuvenating — whatever you feel you need that time to be.

    3. fposte

      Yep; several times. I enjoy it. One of my best Christmases ever was on my own in London.

      But. You’re worried about being lonely and you’re feeling fragile. I would definitely consider taking Colette’s advice of volunteering, or finding some other activity involving people, to get out of the house during the day and see some humans. I’d also create some undemanding plans in-house for food and entertainment. Is it frozen pizza and movies night? Great. Or you could head out to a Chinese restaurant, where all the non-believers will be eating. Make it a thing you’re doing, rather than a thing you’re not doing.

      1. Today's anon

        “Make it a thing you’re doing, rather than a thing you’re not doing.”
        This, exactly; so well worded.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Yes. Many times.

      What I do is make the day completely about me. I watch what I want, eat what I want, and make myself a nice dinner. I do the same if I’m alone on T-Day. Usually it’s ham because I do not like turkey, and while I’m eating it, I congratulate myself on not having to eat turkey, LOL. My family have alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving get-togethers and last year, it was Thanksgiving, so I spent Christmas here. I made my first Yorkshire puddings and they were fantastic. :)

      If you want to be with other people, you can volunteer as some commenters have suggested, or look around for gatherings / events in your area where people come together on the holiday for a concert, a small meetup, etc. Look before the holiday, because for some things you may have to sign up.

      If I’m still alone next year (dear Universe, I really hope I’m not), I am going to travel. I’ve always wanted to spend Christmas in London; it’s the only season I haven’t experienced there. I have family there so I probably wouldn’t be completely alone anyway. Or maybe I’ll go to Europe finally. I don’t know.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Yay for Yorkshire puddings!

        London at Christmas is a bit special. Bring your skates though (depending on flight allowances) – awesome ice rink locations such as Somerset House, The Natural History Museum and Hampton Court (on the edge of London of course but so worth the trip).

        1. Elizabeth West

          I know, right? How can such a simple food item be so delicious!?

          Auntie lives in Surrey; she’s fairly close to Hampton Court. :)

          This will not happen this year, dammit. *sigh* Maybe next year. :( And maybe I won’t have to go alone either.

    5. Today's anon

      Yes I have. What works for me to not feel lonely and like “the only person alone during the holidays” is to actually plan things that are please me. Not intense, necessarily but something. See the latest at the museum, or a movie that is out now, go walk in that nice park or a part of town you don’t know. I would not recommend only streaming binges because at least for me, I need to go out at least some of the time, or I’ll just feel more isolated. Usually I try to pair things – movie and a meal; museum and a cup of coffee/pastry at the museum; things that feel a bit like treating myself (even if they are cheap in terms of money). I’ve also one year, cooked a really nice meal from scratch; it was not all seasonal (I did not cook a turkey) but something that was a bit more special and took longer than I might otherwise. And got some fancy sparkling water (with cut-up lime!) and laid the table out etc.

      The thing that happens to me sometimes, esp. if I am feeling fragile, is that on the day of said planned activity, I will not feel like it. What helps me then is to remind myself that these are things I selected because I enjoy them and I can take myself out and have a great time, acknowledging at the same time that there might be some loneliness, but being kind to myself. Isolating at home is not kind to myself.

      Finally (sorry this is long), you say you have no friends, but if you know someone who is also alone, I’ve had amazing results being the one who checked to see if that other alone person I knew wanted to do something on said day, from going to a restaurant to the movies or something else.

    6. Windchime

      I have spent several Christmases alone. The first one was right after my divorce and I knew it could be a really, really bad day since the kids would be with their dad. So I prepared ahead of time. I checked two or three really good books out at the library (this was pre-Kindle), made sure I had a lot of good holiday snacks, and just settled down with my snacks and my book and decided to have a cozy, book-reading day. I made it through and it wasn’t nearly as sad/bad as I had anticipated.

      I also took the opportunity to remind myself that Christmas is really just another day. TV and stories and songs tell us that it’s supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but honestly that’s a big old marketing pitch. Yes, it’s a day when lots of people get together with family but a lot of those people are dealing with crummy family dynamics, drunk relatives or screaming, cranky kids who are all hyped up on sugar.

      Honestly, I usually just try to make the best of it when it happens that I’m alone. Good food, a book or a movie or a knitting project and I’m good. I would seriously even consider going to a movie by myself (which I have never done!), if there was something that I wanted to see.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I listen to people’s stories of their holidays and think “I’m good here”. Some of the stories are really awful. Being with some people is WORSE than being alone.

    7. Mando Diao

      I usually spend the week between Christmas and New Years alone. I “save up” my movies and see them all that week. I house sit for my mom while she visits her dad out of state. I drink wine and enjoy her nice shower. I do some winter-walking on the boardwalk. This year I might have a friend come over and marathon Outlander on demand.

      Look up restaurants in the area and see if there are any specials. Use your days off to check out weekday deals like brunches or lunch combos.

  57. BRR

    I’ve had a great week with recommendations from AAM. I started the Americans (downloadable from Amazon Prime) and it’s amazing. I also got a shark vacuum and it’s great and as fun as it looks in the commercials.

    Now speaking of AAM recommendations, we are in the market for a new couch (really an entire living room set but need a couch first) and I’m looking for advice. I’ve searched online for general tips and read a lot of great advice but I don’t know where I should look for the actual couch.

    I’m hoping to upgrade from the cheap category. We have a crate and barrel outlet near us but it’s really hit or miss with what they have. I was looking into west elm but my friend has a couch from them and says it’s not great quality. Any thoughts?

    1. Coffee Ninja

      I don’t know if you have one in your area, but my couch is from Macy’s (their actual furniture store) and I love it. I’ve had it for 6 years now and it has stood up wonderfully to daily use. I forget the actual cost but it was definitely a 3 digit price, not 4.

    2. Deni

      They aren’t the cheapest, but we got our two couches from Simplicity Sofas, http://www.simplicitysofas.com. We wanted something that was pet-friendly and comfortable; now our cat sleeps on the couch and there is no shedding whatsoever. Plus, the variety of sizes is great and you can sample free color swatches to see what works in your living room.

      1. BRR

        ooh this reminds me off joybird and thrive. Kind of like the online mattress ordering. Those two sites have many pieces that are my taste.

    3. Lillie Lane

      No advice for the couch, but glad you like the Shark! I remember when you asked for vacuum suggestions.

    4. Windchime

      I bought a sofa from Bassett a couple of years ago. It’s just “ok”. It has held up really well but it’s not the most comfortable thing. My sister bought one from La-Z-Boy and it’s really nice.

      I love the look of the Pottery Barn stuff but I’ve heard that they don’t hold up so well.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      My sofa is a Rowe. They’re sold by certain retailers (I think you can find them on the Rowe website). The sofa is about 5 years old and has held up enormously well, though the back cushions need some restuffing. Mine is a pretty basic two-cushion microfiber, but the microfiber is great quality (and a cool micro-herringbone pattern) and has stood up to my eating in front of the TV and my doggy, who doesn’t lie on the sofa blankies as much as he should. The price was reasonable– a few hundred less than a similar one from Crate and Barrel– and there were a ton of fabrics to choose from.