weekend free-for-all – January 30-31, 2016

Eve and Olive sleepingThis 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: And Again, by Jessica Chiarella. Four terminally ill people are given genetically perfect, illness-free versions of their former bodies and have to figure out how to remake themselves.

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

{ 779 comments… read them below }

  1. Tiffany*

    Anyone on here from Minneapolis? I’m going to be there in a few weeks for the NHL Stadium Series game, but I’ll have a few extra days in town. Not really sure what to do on those days…anyone have suggestions for activities, food, etc.? If it makes a difference, I’m there on a Thurs-Tues and only have plans for Sat & Sun. Skiing is not an option due to a bad ankle injury that hasn’t healed :/. Oh, and I’m from Texas and really unsure about the snow thing up there, so inside stuff would be good to know.

    1. Jubilance*

      *waves* I’m in Minneapolis, been here a total of 10 years.

      I’m sure you’re aware, but it’s still winter here in MN, so be prepared – hat, gloves, scarf, coat, etc. I can’t tell you what the snow situation will be but boots with grip are always a good choice. I see the game is being held at TCF Bank Stadium (at my alma mater) – it’s an outdoor venue so cold weather gear will definitely be helpful there.

      As far as things to do, there’s a ton, it just depends on what you’re interested in, and if you’ll have access to transportation. There’s a ton of museums – Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Science Center of MN, MN History Center, Weisman Art Museum. Someone mentioned the Mall of America, if you’re a shopper it’s a good place to go, especially since there’s no sales tax on clothing here. There’s also a ton of restaurants there, along with an amusement park, movie theater, an aquarium, and some exhibits.

      The food scene here is huge, if you want specific recommendations I can give you a list. I suggest checking out this food blog (http://heavytable.com/) or Eater for great ideas.

      Also as you get closer to your trip, check out the City Pages website, which will have details on what’s happening the weekend you’re here. There’s always a ton of concerts/live shows, comedy, and other fun events happening.

      1. Tiffany*

        Thanks! Normally I’d have this mostly figured out by now, but work as been so busy I haven’t been able to really plan much…I don’t even have lodging figured out yet! (I’m just going to go through AirBnb probably).

        Yeah, the winter thing is concerning…but I’ve been researching and buying cold weather stuff. I thought about just getting one of those coats made for real winter…but I’d never use it again, so I’ve bought layers (Under Armour ColdWear shirt and pants, Fleece hoodie/leggings, Water & Wind Resistant heavy jacket). For the game days I’ve got some thingy that covers my face/neck/head and a really warm knit beanie, plus gloves and warm socks and all that stuff too. So hopefully that keeps me from freezing to death, lol.

        Food – I’m super picky but I like pretty much any Mexican, Italian, or American cuisine. I always try to find the best street tacos in every city I go to, so if you have suggestions for that, I’d appreciate it.

        Stuff to do – I won’t have a car or anything, so I’ll just be using public transportation as much as possible and Ubering with that isn’t an option. I’m not at all sure of where I’m staying, but I’m hoping to find something close to the stadium. I’m open to pretty much anything as far as museums and stuff like that. Everyone keeps telling me the Mall of America, which isn’t super appealing to me, but I’ll probably check it out just to say I’ve been there. The tax-free clothing thing might be useful if I get there and figure out I’m not prepared enough for cold weather!

        1. Belle diVedremo*

          If you haven’t lived in a winter climate, you aren’t prepared for sitting in cold weather. Sorry. And sitting is a *lot* colder than being active. Being really, really cold is entirely miserable.

          Layers is good.
          Less expensive additions might include a down vest, water/windproof warm (down?) mittens, and little single use hand-toe warmer packets (eg http://www.warmers.com/hand-warmers/) that provide heat after you bend them.

          The rule with down is that the closer to your skin you wear it the warmer it is. So down vest *under* the fleece, not the other way around. Water/windproof things retain your heat better than things that let the breeze through.

          More expensive options include silk or high tech long johns (tops and bottoms). Warm, windproof hat. Silk sock liners, and wool socks.

          Take something to sit on and to cover/wrap your legs.

          In some places you can find down vests and other items in second hand/Sally Ann type stores for small amounts of money – eg, here I’ve found them for $5. Amazon lists some, for reference, from $40-120. Some places are putting winter gear on sale already.

          Be warm and have a great time.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I’m from Southern California, mostly, and when I was going to be standing around in the snow in Chicago for a full day, I wore snow pants.

          My full regalia was:
          * Ear warmer headband, fleece hat, scarf tucked into coat, pashmina covering scarf and face.
          * Tank top, T-shirt, long-sleeve turtleneck, farm warmers, short fingerless gloves, gloves with fingers.
          * Long Johns, leggings, snow pants, long skirt
          * Thigh-high socks, thick boot socks, ankle boot socks, boots
          * Long sweater coat, hoodie, parka.

          I wasn’t too chilly except when the wind kicked up, then my face would get cold. And my feet still got kinda cold but not too cold.

          I cannot stress enough how wonderful snow pants are. I thought I would only wear them for the one skiing trip with my in-laws but instead I wear them all the time.

        3. TL -*

          The face thing is called a balaclava.

          Wool socks – knee high is good – avoid cotton entirely if you can, and if you can find a cheap down jacket, it’s worth the purchase. And bring fleece blanket to the game.

      2. hermit crab*

        Oooh, thanks for the Heavy Table recommendation. I’m in Minneapolis for the week and will definitely be making use of this!

    2. NicoleK*

      I’ll second everything Jubilance said. The Guthrie is also open to the public . American Swedish Institute.

      1. Petra*

        Yes, you can go up to a high floor of the Guthrie without being an actual customer of the theatre! There is an observation deck up there that has awesome views of the river.

        None of this will probably be helpful because I am super lame and thrifty and not really into food or music. Everything I do for fun is possibly incompatible with your ankle injury… If you are looking for somewhere to just go for a nice walk, go to the chain of lakes in Minneapolis (Lake Harriet, Calhoun, Nokomis, etc). If you’re interested in rock climbing, this local indoor climbing gym is called Vertical Endeavors and has good facilities in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.

        Speaking of that, don’t forget that there are TWO cities in the metro area… make sure to go see downtown St. Paul too! It has an entirely different feel from Minneapolis.

        If you’re into zoos, the Como Zoo in St. Paul is free. The Minnesota Zoo in Apple Valley is a lot nicer, but $18 for adults.

    3. Bibliovore*

      University of Minnesota has two spectacular museums- The Weisman for art and the Bell for natural history. The last time I was at the Bell there was falcon exhibit. The University also has a Raptor Center so if you are interested in birds, they have eagles, falcons, and owls that they rehabilitate and release in the wild. For theater there is the Guthrie and many smaller theaters. My favorite guide is in the Starr Tribune and it is called 8 days out- tells you what to plan for.

    4. LizB*

      People have pretty much covered my usual activity suggestions, so some notes on food and transit:

      My top recommendations for American food are Blue Door Pub (amazing burgers stuffed with cheese, also definitely try their deep-fried cheese curds) and Prairie Dogs (gourmet hot dogs and sausages). You could also go to either Matt’s Bar or The 5-8 Club for an “original” Jucy Lucy (the two bars both claim to have made them first). If you like beer, there are a gazillion breweries in the cities, with especially high concentrations in Northeast Minneapolis — there are also a couple of distilleries and cider-focused breweries, just for variety. There’s a section of Nicollet Ave in Minneapolis called “Eat Street” that has tons of cheap ethnic dining. I don’t know that you’ll find much Mexican that rivals what you can get in Texas, but Hola Arepa has fabulous Venezuelan food, and World Street Kitchen has great Latin/Asian fusion — both of those have both permanent restaurants and food trucks. Midtown Global Market is also a good source of food from all over the world. If you’ve never had Ethiopian food before, find an Ethiopian restaurant to try (I like Fasika in St. Paul) — it’s absolutely delicious.

      For transit, we’ve got reasonably okay bus service plus a couple of light rail lines. You can get a Go-To card (transit pass) at any Cub Foods grocery store, plus a ton of other locations (check out the MetroTransit website for a full list). You can load up your card either with cash value, or with a variety of passes; if you’re going to be making more than 10 bus/train trips during your stay, the 7-day pass ($22) may be your best best. Each time you pay for transit, your fare is good for 2.5 hours, so if you’re just making a short trip you can theoretically go there and back all on one bus fare — keep that in mind when calculating costs. In addition to public transit, both Uber and Lyft operate here — I tend to prefer Lyft over Uber for a variety of reasons, but I have friends who swear by Uber. I haven’t had great luck with regular taxis (they tend to be scarce and expensive and the drivers don’t know where they’re going), and a taxi from the airport tends to be VERY expensive due to airport fees the drivers have to pay, so be aware of that.

      As for the weather: layers, layers, layers. Multiple pairs of socks. Scarf, hat, gloves. Leggings under your jeans. Layers are everything.

      1. Bibliovore*

        emphasizing the taxi situation in Minneapolis / St. Paul… my experience is the taxi drivers DO NOT know where they are going. I can’t emphasize this enough.

    5. Sarah G*

      The Minneapolis Institute of Art is not only a wonderful museum but it’s FREE. Someone else mentioned the Weisman Museum which is small, but nice, and a very cool building if you like architecture (Frank Gehry!). Someone mentioned the Walker, which can be cool but is inconsistent, although the sculpture garden across the street is worth a visit!
      And I agree with what someone else said about not being prepared to sit outside in cold weather. I also second the idea of the single use hand/toe warmers. You really don’t want to be without a heavy winter coat! Borrow one, buy one at a thrift store, buy one one clearance online in an ugly color that is cheap b/c no one wants it, or whatever you need to do, but I would caution against planning on sitting in Mnpls in an outdoor stadium in winter without a winter coat, no matter how many layers you have! You may get luck and have 30+ degree weather, which even then is damn cold if you’re just sitting for a couple hours. And you want the warmest mittens and socks you can find, and if it were me, I’d double up on wool socks for the game, and wear gloves inside heavy mittens. (When you’re on the move, and going in and out of bldgs, it won’t be as big a deal).

      In summary – Get a winter coat, dammit!

      1. Tiffany*

        I’m a bit concerned about having room for a heavy coat in my luggage. I’m only taking a backpack because I fly Spirit and don’t wanna pay for luggage. So, my plan is if I end up needing a coat, I’ll just buy one at a thrift store or something once I get there and then donate it back to Goodwill or wherever. I really have no need for one down here and haven’t ever seen any at thrift stores. I think what I’ve bought so far will be fine for just wandering around and the only thing I might need the coat for is game days. Maybe I’ll get lucky and the weather won’t be terrible, lol.

            1. Sam*

              I’m used to it because I dress for it. There is no reason to wear anything other than layers, I promise. You can choose a heavy winter coat if you want, but if you don’t live in the cold I imagine it’s a waste – not sure why you believe this poster needs to spend money?

              1. Clever Name*

                Point taken. I guess I’ve been on one too many trips with my chronically cold mother where she somehow manages to pack all the wrong things and then I get to hear her complain about the weather the entire time. :)

          1. Belle diVedremo*

            Very true.
            You’re looking at a 30-50 degree drop in temperature between where you are in Texas and the temperature in Minneapolis. If it’s 60 in Texas it could be 10 in Minnesota, especially if you leave home during the day and arrive after dark. Also, most people arriving in Minneapolis will be carrying winter coats and boots, so you won’t be expected to fit both into a backpack but to carry those onto the plane.

            Something small and lightweight is a “space blanket” which you could take to the stadium. It’s noisy, though, if you move around with it wrapped around your legs but you could stuff it in a pocket when you get up and move around. example http://www.amazon.com/Outdoors-Original-Emergency-Survival-Blanket-/dp/B0047N2LMG/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1454288373&sr=8-6&keywords=space+blankets It will NOT replace a warm coat, but it could help a lot while you’re sitting.

            Some people handle cold weather really easily, and Sam may be one of them; don’t plan on being one of them especially with such a big change. Being miserably cold is just miserable. We want you to have a great time.

        1. Sarah G*

          You carry the coat on the plane, no need to pack it. I live in CA and often visit Minnesota and Chicago, so I do it all the time. They fit in the overhead after all the luggage is loaded, or can make a good blanket for a nap on the plane.
          And since you are flying Spirit, be VERY careful about their posted size limits for your “personal item.” Even a small, every day daypack that would easily fit under your seat is often a little larger than their limits, and they will make you pay for it, and the gate fees are much more expensive than paying online in advance. Be careful with that!
          And buying a coat at a thrift store (or even Kmart) once you get there is fine, but don’t put it off, make it a priority. Even a “warm” Minnesota winter day is too cold too sit outside and watch a game without a coat. Have fun!

      2. Clever Name*

        I can’t emphasize enough how vital it is that you have a warm winter coat. Maybe buy one when you get there. But seriously, having a real coat will make the difference from hating your life and having a miserable trip and having a nice trip. Being used to a warm climate will make the already brutal cold in Minnesota feel ten times worse. My sister lives in Minneapolis, and her winter coat is down and goes past her knees. You really can’t get by without a coat.

        1. Sarah G*

          p.s. I grew up in both Chicago and Minnesota, so I am accustomed to cold weather, and I would rather “waste” money on a coat that I was only going to use for a few days than galavant around on a midwestern winter day without a coat.

  2. Milton*

    Serious bra question:

    My left gal is quite bigger than my right one. The left ridge(?) of my bra always shows through my shirts! What the heck? Other than wearing a camisole every time, any suggestions? Could my bra still be too small? Too big?

    1. fposte*

      Do you mean like a seam in the cup or a wrinkle in it? If it’s a seam, can you look into seamless cups?

      1. Milton*

        I guess I would describe it as the top of the seam? Top of the cup really.

        I’ll def try a seamless one!

        1. Sunflower*

          Try an unlined bra. Not sure what size you are but I am bustier and have the same problem. Unlined bras totally fixed my problem.

      1. MegEB*

        Or the reverse – get fitted for your left side and then put some extra padding on the right side?

    2. Setsuko*

      If the left is larger and that is the one that is showing through your shirt then your bra is too small. You should always fit the bra to the larger side.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I’ve read the same advice about shoes. Part of the thinking is blood circulation, too.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Get a bra that fits the left side correctly and then get a cutlet or other padding to fill out the right side. Everyone is somewhat asymmetrical, but if it’s more pronounced then you really can need different bra sizes on each side.

    4. Shelby Drink the Juice*

      You should fit to the bigger size. Check out bedroom.com they have a lot of resources.

        1. Liana*

          I LOVE that site. Honestly, it’s completely changed my bra/lingerie experience. And they also have some great quality sports bras as well which are great for running and various other high-impact sports.

    5. Allison Mary*

      So I’m gonna guess that you’re right handed?

      Fun fact – the bigger/droopier boob is usually on the opposite side from your dominant hand. And the reason for that is that with your dominant hand, you’re engaging the muscles all the way up your arm and into your pectoral muscles MUCH more frequently than on your non-dominant hand. So… the stronger/more frequently used pectoral muscles on your dominant side typically result in slightly smaller/more “lifted” boob on your dominant side, as compared to your non-dominant side.

      Of course, this may not be the case for lefties who were forced to write right-handed as kids, and as such are a mix of right-handed for writing and left-handed for everything else. But generally, for those of us who have one dominant side for everything – this is often the case.

      (Weirdly, I read recently that this SAME thing happens for men with testicles! The testicle on the non-dominant side usually hangs lower – there was a clinical study about it, although I don’t remember whether they identified the cause, or what it was.)

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        Interesting, as that isn’t the case for me. True right-hand dominant with significantly larger right boob. It’s been that way since puberty…

        1. Allison Mary*

          Yeah, as with most things involving humans, it’s definitely not true across the board – but my understanding is that this is the case for a significant majority percentage of the female-bodied population. I thought it was funny/weird/interesting.

    6. Gene*

      One of my friends tweeted something like, “Mattel will have Barbie right when one boob is bigger than the other.”

  3. alwaysfrustratednopatience*

    im so interested in learning new hobbies/things but I get frustrated SO EASILY

    I wanted to learn crochet for so long and watched many videos before going out to get the supplies but after few tries I got so angry and gave up ! (I’m left handed and I feel this is part of the issue I cant figure out how to hold the rod even after watching left handed videos)

    I want to learn how to bake/cook/new language and have been interested for years but I know how frustrated I get

    1. Cristina in England*

      I have a low frustration tolerance too. Maybe start a hobby you can do with someone else so you can talk to an actual person and maybe work through tricky parts with someone. I get really frustrated if I can only turn to YouTube.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You should read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. She says that people have one of two mindsets: a fixed mindset, which views intelligence and abilities as fundamentally predetermined, or a growth mindset, which views intelligence and abilities as works in progress and being fundamentally the result of learning and hard work. People who have a growth mindset are more likely to embrace rather than avoid challenges and persist in the face of setbacks rather than giving up easily. Those of us with a fixed mindset … not so much.

      I totally have a fixed mindset — I feel like I’m either good at something or I’m not, and I tend not to want to take on something new if it ends up feeling really hard. Honestly, I think this comes from being a smart kid who got lots of positive reinforcement for being smart; I never had to develop a persistence muscle, and now that I’m an adult, I wish I had. I think lots of former smart kids are in this boat. But I do think it’s like a muscle and you can develop it if you work on it.

      1. Hypnotist Collector*

        I’ve found this book very helpful as well – and like you, never had family encouragement to work at things I wasn’t naturally good at.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I have a terrible mindset when it comes to stuff. I address things as, “Now how long will it take me to figure this friggin’ thing out???” But what has happened over the years of forcing myself through the learning curves, is that some of my learning curves got a lot shorter. I forget this, OFTEN. So I end up surprised by how quickly I get through something.

        I think there’s a lot of the middle of the road people like me who don’t believe they can take on a new thing and win. But they go ahead and try anyway, because what else is there? I have trained sooo many people. I would estimate that 75% of them have said to me, “I can’t do this.” Yeah, you can., more often than not, you can.
        I do believe we have natural abilities and some things come easier than other things. I also believe that it’s healthy to push ourselves into learning things that are strange/foreign to our usual stuff we do.

        I relate to our OP here, because for me it really has not been about learning the New Thing. It’s been about learning what to do when frustration hits at full force. I have not taken my tractor apart to see why it won’t start. But I will take the covers off my printer to see if I can spot anything wrong. I pick my battles very selectively.

      3. nep*

        Wow — very well put.
        Persistence muscle — great way to put that.
        Rarely did I go out for new things as a kid; thought if I wasn’t good at it from the start, I’m not participating. Understood only much later in life the beauty of learning something new such as a language or musical instrument…the beauty of persistence, of practice.
        Good to think about enjoying the process and the learning — not just fixating on mastering something right away.

      4. Cristina in England*

        I love Carol Dweck’s work! I saw her speak at an education conference in Glasgow once. I kind of wish she would write more books based on her research for a general audience the way Brene Brown does because it is something so many people struggle with without even realising it.

    3. Princess Buttercup*

      If you are interested in learning to cook, I suggest taking some recreational cooking classes (hands on, not just demo). That way, there is an instructor to help you through and fellow students in the same boat to commiserate with. The problem with trying to do it on your own with You Tube videos is it’s one sided, so it is easy to get frustrated if you are confused or feel like you aren’t getting the same results.

      Just make sure you take a beginners level course – you’ll just become more frustrated if you try to jump into something initially that is too far ahead of your skill level.

      You don’t have to start with a high commitment multi-day (or multi-week) course – local recreational cooking schools and kitchenware stores (like Sur la Table) offer 2-3 hour classes in things like knife skills, quick and easy recipes, etc.

      I am actually an advanced cook but still get frustrated sometimes, but by continuing to take classes, I rediscover my skills and love of cooking (I’m leaving in a few minutes to head to an afternoon class in making Dim Sum)!

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        Forgot to mention – the same would likely apply to other hobbies. With crocheting, perhaps a local yarn shop offers beginning crochet classes?

        1. Valeriane*

          My local library has crochet and knitting groups that include members willing to help new crocheters or knitters. You may want to see if your library or community center has anything similar. These groups are free (at least around here), which may or may not be true at a yarn store.

      2. Hypnotist Collector*

        Craftsy has excellent online classes in both crochet and cooking with the very best instructors. Some of the cooking classes are made in partnership with Sur la Table.

    4. danr*

      For baking, start with simple stuff. Bake a one layer cake. Follow the directions exactly and you should have success. If you don’t have the pans, just buy the one pan that you need. When you want to bake something else, and you need a different pan, buy that one. It makes for a lot less confusion. You do want to have a scale, a set of measuring spoons, measuring cups, a wooden spoon or two, a couple of spatulas and a mixing bowl.
      The other thing to remember is that what you bake doesn’t need to come out perfectly. No one else will know if you don’t tell them. I started baking by following the recipes on the Toll House chocolate chip bags.

      1. Honeybee*

        That’s how I did it. I just bought a new pan or a small set of pans whenever I was making something new. It also ensure that you don’t end up with a kitchen full of stuff that you never use.

    5. Jubilance*

      Can you try taking a class? Sometimes learning via video or trial & error isn’t the best method. You could need someone to help you in person. I’m a knitter and I know there’s no way I could have learned if I had just watched videos.

    6. Liz*

      Don’t give up on crochet! Yes, there are fewer left-handed tutorials out there, but the ones that exist I have been told are very good.

      I’ve been crocheting since I was about 8, and learned through videos (my mom crochets, but teaching is not a trait that exists in out family). It can be tough but the best way to learn is just by practice. Tension is what messes people up the most, but once you figure out your tension everything else is pretty simple.

      And even as someone who has been crocheting for 15 years, I still have to look things up and watch videos in slow motion for certain stitches.

      If you do decide to try again, I would start with a scarf, remember to count your stitches, and embrace any wobble that might appear

    7. Not So NewReader*

      It might be me, but I thought that crocheting was the hardest needle art to learn. I had done knitting, needlepoint, embroidery etc. I do them well enough to keep myself amused but not well enough give as gifts. I tried crocheting and it was unreal, I just could not catch on. I did not pick it up again until ten years later and then I caught on. I guess that ten years was a very long incubation period? So my thinking is if you picked to learn crochet, you picked one of the harder needle arts to learn.

      I found a book about antique crochet work. Crocheting is very similar to handwriting in that each person does their own thing. The book said that long ago in shops in Ireland (?) people could look at a crocheted item and know who crocheted it. What this says to me is that there are a LOT of variations on how stitches are done. When I am learning something new I do not like too many variations. Variations add to my frustration. No wonder I was having problems.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        My grandmother taught me how to crotchet when I was little (I used to make blankets). I was actually pretty good at it too. I wonder if I started crotcheting again as a stress reliever whether I would pick it up easily even though I haven’t touched crochet needles in nearly 20 years….

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it’s still there, you might need a few minutes to get reoriented/reacquainted but you probably still remember. I am saying this because you are saying you were good at it. Since you were so young you probably have some natural ability for it, so what you don’t remember you will quickly figure out.

          1. Doriana Gray*

            That would be so cool if I could pick it back up quickly. My niece’s second birthday is in August, and I’d love to make her a blanket since the one she carries everywhere is becoming worn and gross.

          1. Onnellinen*

            I had so much trouble learning to crochet after learning to knit – I found it so “lopsided”, since I felt like everything was in one hand!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              That’s it. I never thought of it that way but, yes, crochet feels like it’s all in one hand- which is not entirely true but compared to knitting it’s a big difference. And I did learn to knit first. I picked knitting up okay then along came crocheting and I did not catch on so well, at all.

      2. Rena*

        Flipside, I picked up crochet after trying most of the other fiber arts and after some trial and error though the basics, I found it by far the easiest and is the only one that has stuck. For most projects there are a basic handful of stitches arranged in various ways and you can easily go back to fix mistakes.

      3. Windchime*

        Knitting is the same way. People will tell you smugly that their way of knitting is “faster” or “better”, but the truth is that there are TONS of different ways to knit and each technique is capable of producing beautiful work. There is English, continental, combination, and all kinds of variations on those. I would imagine the same is possible for crocheting.

        I think I learned to crochet and knit about the same time. I personally found crocheting easier to learn than knitting, but now I knit almost exclusively. I’m lucky to be right-handed, so all the videos and tutorials look correct to me, but I would encourage you to go to your local yarn shop and ask for a lesson from a left-handed crocheter. I’m sure you will have success; sometimes it’s just easier to learn when someone is actually showing you (rather than learning from a book or a video).

    8. Andraste*

      I am an amateur/home cook who has never had a lesson, but it’s a skill I’ve been working at with a lot of diligence and interest in the last couple of years, so I’ve gotten pretty good! This year for Christmas my boyfriend got me J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s book “The Food Lab” and I LOVE it. It’s massive–over 900 pages–so not for the faint of heart, but it’s full of lots of great info on the technical side behind why certain recipes work, recommendations on tools and hardware, and tons of step by step pictures, which are so helpful! you can get the book on Amazon for under $30, so it’s not too much of an investment. Might be a good place to start. Good luck! you can do this. cooking like anything else takes time to learn, and you’re going to have to eat for the rest of your life. that means you have lots of opportunities to practice and grow :)

      (i swear this is not an ad I just dig the hell out of this book)

    9. Dan*

      “Learning to cook” can mean different things to different people. I will say that IMHO cooking and baking are two very different things. Cooking you can screw up and still save it most of the time. Baking? Once its in the oven, there’s generally no turning back.

      When you say “learn to cook” what do you want to do? Compete on chopped or cutthroat kitchen? That’s hard, I can’t even do that. TBH, I don’t do youtube videos or take any “real” cooking classes. I’ve taken single-session courses, where they prep things for you and you make a few different dishes, but I don’t find those too valuable. I’m more interested in taking a serious multi-session class where you can learn a particular skill well.

      Where to start? Get a couple of cookbooks that don’t have complicated recipes. One thing to keep in mind is that stocking a kitchen takes time and $. Cookware wise, I will suggest that you start with the cheap stuff, then figure out which parts aren’t working well and upgrade from there. If you go all high-end you’re going to go broke in a hurry and probably won’t use that crap anyway. Dry spices add up, and herbs aren’t cheap and I hardly use all what I buy in a bunch.

      One suggestion I have on the cookbook front is start with one that focuses on a specific type of food. This way, when you buy ingredients, most of them will likely be used in other recipes in the book. I made the mistake of buying a cookbook where pretty much every recipe used a different set of ingredients. When I was building my kitchen, it cost me like $20 for each recipe. Yes, I know I’m building up the kitchen, but it’s pretty discouraging when you’re on a budget and can go to Chik-Fil-A for half that.

      Also, avoid “celebrity chef” cookbooks when you first start out. I bought one from a guy with a well known seafood restaurant in town, and his book sorta mimicked his restaurant. He loved to serve dishes with complex accompaniments, so his “main dish with two sides” was really like making three separate meals all at once. Big time suck.

      Once you’ve built your kitchen and have some practice following recipes (and learning how to adjust the seasonings to your taste!) the next step is learning substitutions. For instance, for salt-based flavor enhancers, you’ll learn that fish sauce, worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce are interchangeable. They each have different flavor profiles, but if your dish is undersalted (or you even ran out of salt), any one of those will work well.

      Cooking is about practice practice practice. Start with easy to follow recipes, build up your confidence, and go from there.

      Pro tip on saving money on spices: Whole spices last longer than ground ones. Spices at ethnic stores (and ethnic sections in mainstream grocery stores) are much cheaper than the McCormick and Shmicks brand name stuff. Sometimes if I have a lot of spices to buy, I’ll make a trip to the hispanic market in town. They have most of the things I need, at less cost.

      Asian stores typically have much cheaper produce. Sure, some of it may be “lower quality” but often it doesn’t matter. You’re not going to buy stuff that is wilted or going bad, but often times, it’s just that X (such as shallots) happen to be smaller. If you’re just going to cut it up anyway, it doesn’t matter. (Now, if you’re serving stuffed green peppers, it may be worth getting big green peppers.)

      1. danr*

        The best cookbook that I found early on was Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Vol 1 is general cooking. You follow her instructions and at the end you have the dish. It was amazing the first time we made something. After a couple of times, you get a feel for what you’re doing. After many years of cooking we hopscotch through the cookbooks.

        1. Tepid Tea Water*

          The best cookbooks I have found have always been local ones created by a church or group. These are recipes that people have been enjoyed by families and someone wants to share.

          And if you are learning to bake, I would suggest buying either an extra measuring cup or set. My baking became a whole lot easier once I started using one set for dry ingredients and the other set for wet ingredients. That way when I missed an ingredient or the recipe was set up weirdly I wasn’t standing there washing the molasses out of a cup so that I could add more flour (which would stick to the wet cup no matter how well I thought I had dried it.)

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Thanks for the tip about soy sauce, fish sauce, and Worcestershire sauce! I have all of them on hand, but never equated any but the soy sauce as a salt substitute. I just used the Worcestershire tip in my chili tonight. Instead of heaping more salt into the pot, I added Worcestershire.

    10. Mike C.*

      I taught myself to cook by watching YouTube episodes of “Good Eats”. The way Alton Brown takes a single ingredient and looks at it from several angles really helps to understand how to use certain ingredients and how to improvise as well.

      1. Mike C.*

        I would also add America’s Test Kitchen to the list. The books are really great at talking about all the different ways they tried a dish with what worked and what didn’t. I will say that sometimes they will go to great lengths for a perfect version of a dish over a good version, but if you’re making a special meal this is exactly what you want.

    11. Honeybee*

      Why do you get frustrated easily? Is it because you’re so hard on yourself when you make mistakes, or because you like to pick things up instantly? Figuring out the source of your frustration may make it easier for you to figure out how to overcome it.

      For baking (which I love), you can take classes and I recommend them for the more advanced techniques, but depending on your own personal learning style there’s a lot you can learn from cookbooks, online recipes and videos.

      For language learning, often there are community groups that offer classes inexpensively. For example, I’ve always wanted to learn Japanese, and many cities have a Japan Society that offers those classes. Or American Sign Language is usually offered at at least one local community college in many areas.

      The other thing is that you should try one at a time. When I think of all the things I want to learn to do I get overwhelmed. When I instead focus on ONE thing at a time, and plot out how I will acquire that knowledge, it’s easier. That doesn’t mean you only have to learn one thing at a time; it’s just that you probably shouldn’t start them all at the same time.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        For beginner’s cooking, I started with a children’s cookbook. It might sound silly but simple, step by step instructions, with plenty of pictures really helped me.

    12. Stachington*

      I came here to ask the same type of question. I am not really doing anything productive on my time off. Part of the problem for me is that I travel during the week (auditing) and so when I’m at home I just want to enjoy being home. But now I’m bored. And I’m easily frustrated like you! I want to learn Japanese more thoroughly, create art, take dancing classes, and learn how to sew. But I can’t seem to get the hang of a sewing machine, and finding dance classes over the weekend (my only time off) is hard. But it’ll happen!

      As for cooking – I learned how to cook by doing a “weekly cooking challenge” with my boyfriend. You could also do this alone or with a friend. We chose one new dish a week to cook on a Saturday or Sunday. I usually used allrecipes to find a recipe. I learned various cooking tricks and seasoning basics with my experimentations. Sometimes my dishes turned out gross, sometimes awesome. Now I’m a great cook (but not so great baker, haven’t played with baking as much)!

      Good luck learning something new!

    13. Lora*

      I too am a leftie, and when I wanted to have my Mom teach me to crochet (right handed) I became very frustrated because I couldn’t get it. I ended up getting a simple instruction book made for left handers that showed pics step by step. I later found out that instead of sitting beside my Mom while she tried to teach me, I should have been sitting in front of her so that my motions could mimic hers without having to reverse the motions. So possibly that might have a bearing on why the video wasn’t helpful to you.

  4. Cristina in England*

    Bizarre house woes: there is water coming up through the kitchen floor tiles (adhesive vinyl ones which the previous owner had laid down haphazardly and in many layers). The base of the kitchen floor is concrete so we suspect the washing machine might be leaking, but the last time the washing machine leaked the water just poured out over everything and it was really obvious. This time the water is seeping through and making everything sticky (because of the adhesive?). Very strange and unpleasant!

    1. fposte*

      Can you access any of the plumbing for the washing machine to check? Even on a concrete floor, I would move pretty fast on this, because there’s too much potential for bad stuff down the line, so I’d call somebody on Monday.

      (If it weren’t a concrete floor, I’d call immediately, weekend rates or no.)

    2. danr*

      It could be condensation if the air is very humid and the floor is very cold. The house I grew up in was built on a concrete slab and all the floors had horrible condensation in the summer. My parents solved the problems by either putting down carpeting or adding a layer to the floors that was either cork or wood. Or, you could have water forcing its way up from below if the drainage around the house is running toward the house instead of away.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that last is definitely worth considering, given the drenching some of the UK has been getting.

    3. Nella*

      How high is the water table where you are. You could have a cracked slab and water is seeping through.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, it sounds like the water is coming up through the concrete from underneath, as opposed to coming in from the side or top.
        How is your yard outside the house, especially around where you see water in the house?

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      whatever it is Christina, I hope it’s cheap and easy to fix. (Did you ever sell your flat, btw?)

      1. Cristina in England*

        Thanks Carrie! Nope, we have had a few viewings but haven’t sold it yet. Fingers crossed that the spring is better. I haven’t been around for a few weeks (new baby), have you decided to move back or stay?

    5. misspiggy*

      How old is your house and street? Could be a number of things, such as problems with the foundations (newer places) or the damp course (older places), or leaking/blocked pipes inside or outside. One thing to try is turning your water supply off, mopping up the water, and seeing whether you get more coming up. But yes, call a plumber asap – although if you’re not well insured you might want to check your insurance, possibly upgrade it, and then notice the water ingress….

    6. Cristina in England*

      Thanks all for the suggestions. It isn’t a lot of water, which is why it’s so confusing. It looks like someone washed their hands and shook them off over the floor instead of drying them, but the drops replenish themselves. I don’t know about the water table, but we are partway up a hill, if that matters? We haven’t had any flooding here thank goodness.

      The last time the repairman came out he ran the machine to replicate the problem and did a diagnostic test with the controls, but he didn’t move the machine or anything. The plumbing is accessible (it hooks up under the kitchen sink, which is typical here). What should I ask him, since this problem took a couple of days to emerge? We haven’t run the machine since Friday, although I ran a slightly unbalanced load on Thursday and that was what caused the problem last time.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Just tell him what the problem is like you have described here. Mention that the proble took a couple days to emerge. Then ask if this has anything to do with the washing machine.
        Houses built on a side of a hill sometimes needs a water diversion plan which can be as simple as little trenches that direct the water to go around the house or it can mean underground pipes.

        If your repair person comes up empty, probably the next thing to do would be to talk to contractors. But you want someone who has experience with dampness problems. In the mean time keep an eye on the weather in relationship to the water on the floor, see if you notice any patterns. Water moves about underground, so a place that wasn’t damp five years ago can become a damp area, this happens especially if you are on clay soil.

    7. Marzipan*

      I had exactly that happen once with a washing machine and vinyl kitchen floor tiles. It took me ages (like, weeks) to catch on that there was even something happening; it was just like ‘is that tile slightly squishy?’

      In my case, it was a slow drip from the, whatchamacallit, the bit where the pipes connect to the plumbing under the sink. I pulled the washing machine out and it wasn’t immediately obvious, but it did get faster after a while. All it needed was a new valvey-connector thing and it was fine.

      Maybe try wrapping a bit of kitchen roll around those pipes and then coming back later to see if it’s damp? And also strategically laying some around the machine to see if there’s an obvious source.

        1. FatBigot*

          UK washing machines are normally connected to the incoming supplies (hot and cold water) by 1/4 turn miniature ball valves. I’d turn them off to check that there are no slow leaks in the machine. Is there any water in the drum of the machine?

          Standard procedure with any washing machine fault: When did you last check and empty/clean the filter at the bottom of the machine?

          Obvious other step: Inspect the plumbing and floor underneath all the kitchen units.

          Final option: dry the floor, and put down single sheets of dry newspaper, and see where gets damp first.

    8. Artemesia*

      Any change the people who did the lousy tile job also buried any water transport under it. We had a leak in a highrise caused by the idiot who lived here before putting a plastic hose under the granite tile to connect the water to the refrigerator water system. When it leaked as of course it would being plastic and not copper, it ran under the tile and popped up in the wood flooring in the living room as well as here and there in the kitchen. We just capped it off at the source since tearing up the granite floor would be expensive.

      I laughed because I have never had an ice cube maker in my refrigerators because I was concerned about leaks. We don’t use much ice and having a tray or two suffices. If we have a party we can pick up a bag. So the first time I have an ice cube maker that is connected, it does leak.

      1. TootsNYC*

        yeah, water travels. The leak may be one place, and the water will cling to something and run along until it falls off elsewhere.

  5. F.*

    Well, the chest cold I mentioned in last weekend’s Best/Worst thread turned into bronchitis and caused my asthma to flare up. Martyr that I am, I lasted four hours at work on Monday before giving up and going home to bed. By Tuesday morning, I got in to see the doctor. I got a new inhaler, and spent most of the rest of the week in and out of bed. I did make it to work for four hours again Friday. My husband has the same virus, but mostly in the nasal passages. I hadn’t been that sick in years!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, there is some weird virus going round that produces different symptoms in different people. It’s pretty nasty from what I heard. I hope you both feel better soon.

    2. Windchime*

      From a fellow asthmatic who had bronchitis last year, I feel your pain. I felt the worst I’ve ever felt when I had the two combined. Here’s hoping you are on the mend this week!

  6. Liana*

    I’m considering getting certified to teach English abroad, specifically in either Korea or Thailand. It’s something I’ve always thought was really interesting, but I feel like lately my life has been pushing me to make some changes. I’m really excited about making this happen, but I’m also SUPER nervous about it – I’ve never lived in another country before, or even spent any significant time in a country where English wasn’t the primary language. Has anyone done this before, or have any thoughts/opinions about it?

    1. Hattie McDoogal*

      I taught in Thailand but was looking into Korea before I went. In Thailand it’s pretty easy to find work when you’re in country, it seems like Korean schools recruit more from abroad. You’ll make way more money in Korea – I was pretty broke living in Bangkok and I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle at all. You’d probably do better money-wise in a smaller town, but there’s loads of work in Bangkok and if you’re nervous about being in a foreign country, a big city like BKK can take the edge off of that a bit (has public transit, lots of people speak English, big backpacker/tourist district if you want to hang out with other travelers, easier to find stuff from home).

      I think Korea takes care of a lot more logistical stuff for you (travel/visa arrangements, accommodation is often included in your contract) but I know a lot of people who got their TESL certification in Thailand before looking for a job in country. It sounds like something like that would make it easier, sort of ease you in a bit. I’d been backpacking around for 3 months by the time I settled in to look for a job so I was reasonably used to the country, spoke a bit of Thai, and was pretty happy to have the structure a job provided.

      1. Liana*

        Yes, from what I’ve read so far, Korea seems to be the place to go if you want to save money, but I keep getting drawn to the idea of Thailand. Saving money isn’t a goal of mine, although it would certainly be nice! I’m mostly looking to travel and see a totally different part of the world, and I’m looking to do something that I’m more passionate about than what I’m doing right now. Don’t get me wrong, I like my jobs. But neither of them have much room for advancement, at least not in a direction that’s even remotely appealing to me.

        Do you have any advice for learning the local language? When I went to Costa Rica I used Duolingo to help pick up some key phrases, and it worked surprisingly well, but I don’t think Duolingo has Thai, and even if it did, I would probably need something a little more in-depth.

        1. Hattie McDoogal*

          I don’t know of anything like Duolingo for Thai. I had a few books, and books on tape, but Thai is a hard language and there’s really no substitute for speaking it to an actual Thai speaker. It’s tonal, so there are probably going to be a lot of times you think you’re saying something perfectly right and the listener is just staring at you in bafflement, and finally goes, “Oh, did you mean __?” and says something that sounds exactly like what you thought you were saying. It’s frustrating. Do you by chance know any Thai speakers? Maybe a language school in your current city? Lots of Thai university students go abroad for a bit to study English, so if you could find some of them maybe they’d be willing to help you practice Thai in exchange for you helping them practice English.

          1. Liana*

            Hmm these are some really good ideas. I bet there are language schools around – I live in a major city with a lot of colleges around so once I get a bit farther into the application process I’ll take a look. Thanks for this!

    2. katamia*

      I lived abroad for some time last year. Not in Korea or Thailand, but in Taiwan. I cannot stress enough how helpful it will be to know at least some of the local language before you go, even if you’re not fluent. Basic greetings, direction words, and especially food words–it is SO hard to be in a grocery store or restaurant and try to order something when you can’t figure out what anything is. Reading is crucial, too, not just speaking, Taiwan was pretty good about having most important things like subway stops in English and Chinese, but there were a lot of things I couldn’t do because my Chinese reading skills were weak even though I’d studied Chinese before and spent time brushing up before I left.

      It was a really great experience, though, and I’m planning to move abroad again within the next couple of years. (Not to Taiwan–which is nice–but there are other places I want to go.) If it’s something you want to do, you should try to do it.

      I’m not sure if this is too work-related, but what certification are you thinking of getting? I wasn’t teaching English in Taiwan, but I do have a TEFL cert too.

      1. Liana*

        I’m getting a TEFL certification. I’ve been looking at this non-profit: http://www.greenhearttravel.org, as they place teachers in both Thailand and Korea.
        Also, I had figured it would pretty much be a given to try and brush up on the local language before I get there. Are there people that don’t?

        1. katamia*

          Ah, I’m not familiar with that organization. I have a CELTA cert.

          A lot of TEFL programs seem to emphasize the benefits of not knowing the local language for teaching purposes (can confirm there are benefits to at least your students not knowing you understand their language because it forces them to use English when talking to you), and I think some extrapolate that to “I don’t need to know the local language at all.” There might be places where you can get away with that, but I don’t know if Korea and Thailand are like that.

    3. Dan*

      I travel abroad for about a month at a time, speak fluent English, and a minimal amount of German. TBH, a big city anywhere in the world is going to have enough English speakers where you can “get by”. As in, not starve or get stranded. Smart phone translating apps help in a real jam.

      As another poster mentioned, learn how to read and pronounce basic types of food. It’s just going to make your life a lot easier.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I’ve never taught abroad but I did study in singapore and travelled most of SE Asia. I think it’s pretty easy getting around with just English, but I never had to deal with any bureaucracy.

      Some countries have stricter teaching requirements. Japan comes to mind but I also think Korea is starting to move in that direction where a lot of schools want you to have teaching experience or even a teaching degree. It’s worth checking in to. You can definitely find higher paying jobs if you have teaching experience.

      YouTube has a lot of videos of people talking about their experiences teaching in asia. I’m not sure if you’ve heard of eatyourkimchi. They’re a Canadian couple that went to Korea to teach and got pretty famous over there (stopped teaching to pursue their youtube channel). They have a lot of great videos talking about what it’s like living there and a few videos about their experience teaching (especially their older videos). They’re worth watching if you’re thinking about pursuing this.

    5. misspiggy*

      I got my TEFL qualification in the UK and taught English in China. It can be great. Learning how to become an effective teacher was the hardest thing, so I’d recommend getting as much practice as you can before you leave. Also performance practice of some kind – as a foreign teacher in many parts of the world you are a figure of interest, and it helps to get used to that feeling of being on display, both inside the classroom and out.

      I loved living overseas, particularly the licence you often get to be a little eccentric, and the ease of making friends. It helps to be part of an organisation or group of some kind, so that you can occasionally get together with other expat teachers and decompress. It’s also important to take health and safety advice seriously. You will have low resistance to local bugs, and you may not have the same risk radar as locals.

      1. misspiggy*

        Oh and the language issue was fine – it gets a lot easier to communicate when you’re immersed in a language, although a short course beforehand helped me.

    6. FutureLibrarianNoMore*

      Not sure if this helps, but there are a LOT of people on YouTube who post about their experiences teaching abroad. Some of the names I know:

      -Simon & Martina (used to be EatYourKimchi) (no longer teachers, but have old videos up)

      -Evan and Rachel (I believe they both still teach)

      -Kelly Elizabeth/Strawberry Mochi

      -HallyuBack (they both taught in Korea)

    7. Veridian Dynamics*

      I’ve taught in China and have been living in Thailand (Bangkok) for the past few years. I wholeheartedly second misspiggy’s advice to consider teaching with an organization if you’ve never been abroad before. Not only does it give you a group of people to commiserate with, but presumably you’ll have people who can help organize visas/work permits and someone who will look out for you in case the school tries to take advantage of or otherwise modify your teaching contract.

      1. Liana*

        I’m considering going through Greenheart Travel (I tried linking it in another comment but I suspect it’s in moderation). They’re a nonprofit that helps you get your TEFL certification and then places you in whatever country you’re interested in. I definitely like the idea of going through an agency. Thanks!

    8. Honeybee*

      Teaching English abroad was always something I wanted to do after college but didn’t. It is something I regret not doing. I studied abroad in college for a semester and I loved the experience of living in and learning a new culture, and I wanted so much more of it. I was in the Netherlands, where English is not the primary language but where most people do speak very good English, so I don’t have a great comparison. However, I did go to Spain and Germany while I was there as well and I’m an odd duck who loves the challenge of trying to communicate with people who don’t speak my language. I got my wallet stolen in Madrid and had to file a report with the police (they got it back) and it was such an adventure to me that I wasn’t even fazed about getting pickpocketed!

      But you do pick up language amazingly fast when you’re around it all the time and are forced to speak it to be understood. And Thailand and Korea are both countries in which most of those around you don’t know much English.

      That said, you don’t need TEFL certification to teach abroad, especially not in Asia. Many East Asian countries – Korea especially – are in such need of English language teachers that anyone with a bachelor’s degree who’s a native English speaker can go abroad. The most well-known of these programs is the Fulbright U.S. student program; you’re eligible as long as you have a BA but don’t have a PhD. They have an English Teaching Assistant grant program in both Korea and Thailand (and other Asian/Pacific Islander countries as well). I think the Korean program also has an option for you to arrive a couple weeks early to learn the basics of Korean language, and you are also placed in a homestay with a Korean family in exchange for some private lessons in English (often for a Korean high school student). You learn the language much more quickly in a homestay, although understandably that might not be appealing to you.


      There’s a program especially for teaching abroad in Korea called the English Program in Korea, or EPIK. They handle visa and placement stuff if you’re accepted to the program:


      CIEE also has teach abroad programs in both Korea and Thailand (as well as other countries). One minor catch with CIEE is that you have to pay some fees, but the fee is like $1,900 for two semesters and covers international insurance, visa assistance, placement, 24-hour support while you’re there, an orientation program, rent-free lodging in both locations, airfare for the South Korean program, national medical insurance for the Korean program, and – importantly – enrollment in a 150-hour TEFL certification course for the Korean program.


      A lot of people who go through these programs stay on for additional years to teach, either through the program itself or by moving on to another organization or school. A lot of people opt for the certification during the year or two that they are supported by a program like this and then find more permanent work abroad once they have the cert.

    9. StudentPilot*

      I moved to Russia (to study) and then to Ukraine and after Austria to teach. I loved it! I spoke minimal Russian (but I was there to improve that) but not Ukrainian or German (I could use Russian in Ukraine, but it wasn’t ideal where I was) and while it was an adjustment, it was well worth it. I loved it, and I learned so much about myself and the world doing it.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I’m always so delighted when something lost turns up. How did it resurface? I’m hoping for a tip I can try :-).

        1. Merry and Bright*

          It was completely by chance. It was in a stack of flower pots I was sorting out for my balcony. I cleaned it all up and it’s gleaming again. I only decided to revamp the balcony on a whim.

          Yes, it is a lovely feeling when something turns up.

    1. RKB*

      Best: failing (or passing) a pregnancy test (not pregnant)

      Worst: having to take that pregnancy test in the first place.

    2. K.*

      Best: I found a cashmere scarf on the street. A really nice basic black cable-knit cashmere scarf. It’s at the dry cleaner’s right now.
      Worst: I got a job rejection. It was a temp job through an agency – a maternity leave fill-in that they were very clear would not be made permanent. (I met the woman going on leave and she made it clear she’d be returning. Which is fine!) They said I was overqualified, which is true but I’d think that would matter less for a temp job with a clear end date. Oh well!

    3. StudentPilot*

      Best: oral surgeon was astonished that I look as good as I do after emergency surgery (no swelling or bruising!)

      Worst: I *still* can’t eat crunchy food. (And all I want is a massive plate of nachos….)

    4. LizB*

      Best: The community choir I sing in had a retreat today to work on music and socialize, and it was lovely and silly and low-pressure. I was barely even annoyed when people kept talking whenever we stopped singing, I was in such a good mood.

      Worst: My house is a mess. All the trash cans and recycling bins need to be emptied, laundry needs to be put away, other laundry needs to be done, my desk looks like a tiny tornado hit it… and I’m avoiding dealing with any of it. Ugh.

    5. Mimmy*

      BEST: Started my FINAL class yesterday!! (for a graduate certificate)

      WORST: Not sure why yet, but for some reason, the professor decided to post two announcements the day before the official start of class. That’s not so bad except that both were written as if it were the MIDDLE of the semester! It was really freaking me out. He has yet to clarify them. I’ll explain further in a separate post.

    6. Anonyby*

      Best: I made a fresh loaf of bread early in the week! Have been nomming on that all week, and it’s almost gone.

      Worst: Work and natural bodily stuff have been sapping my energy and making me take painkillers. These 6-day weeks are just grinding me down, plus I had one day this week when I was taking the max OTC painkillers that I could safely just to get through the day… and it was the busiest day for that office this month. Not to mention that that office starts so early that I’m just dead tired all the time.

    7. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: I’m really proud of Scotland/UK in the Australian Open tennis tournament and I have my fingers crossed that Andy Murray will join his brother in being a champion there tomorrow.

      Worst: Lack of job, money, support from my dad. You know, the usual.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Yes, my fingers and toes are crossed for Andy.

        Hope the “worst” stuff resolved itself soon.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: My minister’s wife works in the design school where I worked for eight years at the university before moving on to another job. She needed some pointers on how to compile and paginate a PDF document for a major accreditation report she’s working on. I spent an hour this morning in my old workspace helping her, and it just felt good to be there and to help. I still love that school, follow the successes of the students and professors, have dinners/drinks with many former coworkers. I feel like that place is more in my blood than my current department.

      Worst: I made a marriage counseling appointment, which is good and will also help me deal with anxiety I’ve been having, but I have to tell my husband that I’ve made the appointment and I’m nervous about it. The appointment is on Monday at six p.m. So I have to tell (invite) him this weekend. The counselor we were assigned is a man, so at least he won’t think I stacked the deck against him by getting a woman who might be more sympathetic to my “side”.

    9. Blue_eyes*

      Best: Finally got my official offer letter for NewJob! I’ve working part time for almost two years, so I’m so excited to get back to full time.

      Worst: Jumping nasty slush puddles all week. Thanks blizzard.

    10. Miles*

      Best: For the first time in a long while, I wrote something I was proud of.

      Worst: It was a cover letter for a position I would really want, but do not meet one of the desired requirements for. The job site they use has a filter that prevents anyone from ever seeing my application.

      Best 2: Somehow, despite all the pressure of my savings trickling down to nothing, I don’t mind. I’ll find another one.

    11. asteramella*

      Best: Beautiful weather this weekend (mid-70s and sunny). Just makes you cheerful.

      Worst: Still no luck on my job search. I’ve gotten a couple of rejections but just radio silence for most of my applications. Nothing to do but put my head down and write more cover letters.

    12. Vancouver Reader*

      BEST: Having an opportunity to have lunch with co-workers and getting to be a little silly on Friday at work because the bosses were at a workshop.

      WORST: getting a blister on my foot, have to keep weight off it all weekend, which means no chores are getting done.
      EVEN WORSE: M-i-l is dying, causing lots of stress to hubby.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      WORST: Falling at skate practice last Sunday and hitting my head and getting a big old whiplash. And spending the entire rest of the day in Urgent Care. Bluh.

      Like an idiot, I went to work Monday and Tuesday, and of course the second and third days were the worst. Because I landed flat on my back with my entire weight, every muscle in my torso hurt so much I could not sit up and could barely breathe. And my neck huuuurrrrrrrt oh boy did it hurt. I was really tired by Friday, and since it was kind of slow, I bailed at 12:30 and came home and just rested.

      BEST: My Wolverine-like healing powers have kicked in and I am much better. The spot on my head is still very tender, and my neck still hurts, but not nearly as much. And aside from a few residual aches and pains, I no longer have to roll off the bed/sofa to get up, though I still sort of have to roll in to lie down, since my neck is a bit weak yet. I did NOT skate today and will not be skating tomorrow!

      BEST 2: Both Jason Brown (skater) and the Curiosity Rover liked my tweets to them, heh heh. I love Twitter. Yes, I follow/tweeted at a robot on Mars. XD

      1. StillHealing*

        Ouch! Sounds like a very bad fall. Falling on the ice whether a skater or not, is one of the worst falls a person can have. Did you get a concussion too? Take Care, rest well and heal well.

      2. F.*

        Glad to hear you’re feeling better. Hope you didn’t get a concussion. That had to have been quite a fall.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It was. I’ve only gotten really hurt twice in all the time I’ve been skating, counting this time. Both falls were surprises. Usually I can tell when I’ve screwed up and am going to go down and can sort of aim how I land.

    14. Nashira*

      Best: I got a really excellent haircut today without, for once, having a stylist insist on making me look like a Midwestern soccer mom. :D It feels odd only having like a quarter inch of hair at the nape of my neck, but over all it’s exactly what I wanted.

      Worst: She used a great styling paste on my hair, but it turns out I am super super super allergic to it. (Stupid orange blossom allergy.) Oh well, my hair still looks fricking amazing.

    15. Jen RO*

      Best/Worst: A much-needed new employee started this week… and on the same day, someone gave notice. We currently have 4 open positions in our department of 16 and it feels like this will never end.

      Other best: I started German classes again, I had my second one yesterday, and I am happy to be back with my first teacher and a group of people who are nice. (I had stopped taking classes because I had ended up with a teacher I didn’t resonate with and a bunch of people I didn’t have anything in common with.) I’m the “new girl” (they have been taking classes together for a year), but they invited me in their Facebook and WhatsApp groups already – it’s nice to be included!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Best: Planning a weekend away.

          Worst: Having to prepare for an exam next week and that feeling of whether you have revised enough.

    16. Long distance*

      Best: Booked tickets to see my long distance guy in a couple of months.

      Worst: Waiting a couple of months to see said long distance guy…

    17. Rubyrose*

      Worst: computer system migration done last weekend that appeared successful is coming up with problems that the vendor says they cannot, despite my providing them screen shots and workflow.

      Best: infrared sauna and salt cave! I’ve been struggling with a cough for 9 months, which doctors have not been able to successfully treat. I went a a naturopath, who recommended the sauna. I had my first session yesterday and can already tell a difference.

    18. One Esk Nineteen*

      Best: Got to go see this fun 24-hr musical thing one of my school’s theatre companies does. You could definitely tell they’d put it together in a day (there was a lot of vague mumbling to the tune of whichever song was playing), but they were all clearly having such a good time it didn’t matter.

      Worst: The snow has melted…leaving behind mud. Lots and lots of mud. But at least the sidewalks are passable again.

    19. Ruffingit*

      BEST: Getting some needed things done at work.

      WORST: Feeling badly. Fever last night. Hoping to feel much better by tomorrow morning.

    20. GOG11*

      Best: Got invited to a lunch table at work I was secretly hoping to be invited to.

      Worst: Topics of conversation were clothes, diets, and celebrity diets. I really like the individuals, but I was hoping for something different (idk what, though).

    21. Overeducated and underemployed*

      Best: out of town job interview is over! I had to spend a lot of time prepping a presentation and boning up on an area I’m not as strong in, so I feel free now. Also, my partner and toddler came, and they put us up in a pretty wonderful place, so apart from the actual interview part, it was sort of a mini-vacation. We headed home Friday morning, so it also feels like a 3 day weekend.

      Worst: Still feeling fuzzy, tired, and with a persistently recurring sinus headache, even though I thought I was over the last virus a week ago (these are also common allergy symptoms for me, though). Taking Sudafed once or twice a day to try to drain my sinuses and keep from getting an infection, but now wondering if I should be switching to allergy meds instead, I just can’t tell if this is “sick”, “recovering,” or “environmental” in origin.

    22. Doriana Gray*

      Best: Just completed the last module in a 12 part exam and earned my seventh industry designation! I get to put in for my exam reimbursement and incentive bonus tomorrow, so I should be getting almost $850 in the next couple of weeks. Oh – and I did my taxes yesterday, so that nice refund check should be coming around the same time. I can finally pay off the biopsy I had done in August!

      Worst: I’m exhausted. I’m going to go to work tomorrow, get slammed, and be even more exhausted. I was hoping to be able to get back to some long overdue writing projects tomorrow after work, but that may not happen – my brain is fried.

    23. mondegreen*

      Best: I have four interviews this coming week, and I start an awesome internship!

      Worst: My foot isn’t noticeably better, and all my exciting new work activities prevent me from making an appointment before next Thursday. Luckily I can walk in heels without limping, so I won’t make a bad impression.

    24. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Best: having a volunteer atty gig, and meeting an atty friend for coffee

      Worst: mom tried to pressure me to help her with church folks at her house 2/14 Sunday overnight, she’s assuming I bought into her parental pressure and cut ties with bf…ergo I’d have no reason to say no to spending Valentine’s night with a bunch of over-60s folks (nice folks, but I hate spending time with her).
      …but bf and I are almost 2 yrs, and still going strong.

      And I don’t know how my mom and I are related. She’s so weird, she says messed up stuff’, and its almost as if she were trying to self-sabotage everyone else’s personal lives while narcissistically aggrandizing whatever is going on in her life because she was a female child in a huge family that favored boys over girls (ethnic culture). I’m surprised she’s gotten away with all the stuff she’s said/done to other people. I’m surprised karma hasn’t given her a mildly suitable thrashing, but it’s also me being annoyed at her for being so selfish all the time and being so dense. But karma might be haunting her, she’s had to get a scan of her arm because the pain won’t go away.

      (Sorry to sound bitter/weird, but if you have a mother like who I had, you’d be wishing far worse that what I would for her now. Her type of behavior is what drives young ethnics within the community (from their own parents) insane/depressed/horribly downtrodden/borderline suicidal and its a miracle I was able to push back somewhat and have a normal life. I don’t wish for her to have a long and healthy life, though that very well is what may be happening….ugh.. I look around at some friends/cousins recently diagnosed with cancer, and they’re so wonderful and kind. Then I look at my mom who insults people behind their backs, pretends my bf doesn’t exist, tries to tell me to cheat on him, and I wonder why *she* doesn’t have cancer). I mean, her personality is pretty cancerous. Whatever. Maybe she’s too poisonous for cancer itself. Lol. #darkhumor.

      Silver Linings:
      …And bf wants to go to the West Coast with me sometime to meet more of my cousins (he already met one). And we’re headed to a beach down south over early/mid summer ….thank God. Yesss…

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        My mother, while she wasn’t a saint, was a really good person overall, and was sweet to everyone she met. She died of cancer at age 73. Meanwhile, her next door neighbour, a cantankerous old cow, is still going strong in her 80’s. Karma’s a bitch.

      2. Revanche*

        I have relatives so like this and yet they’re still around and my mom’s been buried several years now despite being the rock and the provider for everyone for most of her life. There’s something incredibly unfair about seeing that.
        Though, kinda laughing at the idea that Cancer’s avoiding her because she’s that bad.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A friend and I were talking about famous people who died. Then she said “and so-and-so is still with us, what is up with that?” I said, “He has to stay here until he gets it right.”

  7. K.*

    I’m making some headway on the therapy front! I had an appointment with one this past week. Actually, two – I made an appointment with #2 before #1 got back to me, and then #1 got back to me so I just decided to keep both. #2 is more community-health-based (and cheaper); you make an intake appointment and then they assign you to someone, so I kept the intake appointment.

    It’s way too soon to tell if it’s helping (I made a second appointment with #1), but I’m really glad to at least be getting started.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Will you evaluate each one from your first couple of appointments and then decide which one to keep by getting a feel for which one seems more compatible?

      1. K.*

        Yes, that’s my plan. I was talking with a few different friends about it (a lot of my friends are in therapy. Some for years, some started recently) and a couple of them saw a few different ones at the same time before choosing one. If neither of them is a good match, I’ll go back to the drawing board.

  8. NicoleK*

    I need some book/author recommendations. I typically read thrillers. Lisa Gardner, Tess Gerritsen, and Brian Freeman are some of my favorite authors. Which authors/books do you recommend?

    1. MsChandandlerBong*

      I recently discovered Kevin O’Brien and promptly read eight of his books in a two-week period. I also like Wendy Corsi Staub, Stacy Dittrich, John Sandford’s “Prey” series, Jenna Bennett’s “Savannah Martin” mysteries (they are lighter than Gardner and Gerritsen’s books, but still pretty good), and Stephanie Bond’s “Body Movers” series (also lighter than Gardner and Gerritsen).

    2. StudentPilot*

      Kim Harrison has a new book out – The Drafter. Sort of thriller/fiction/sci-fi-ish. I’m enjoying it.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      I second Elizabeth Haynes.

      More psychological thrillery books: The Pocket Wife – Susan Crawford, Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little, You Should Have Known – Jean Hanff Korelitz, You – Caroline Kepnes (all excellent)

      More crime based: Belinda Bauer, Harry Bingham’s Fiona Griffith series (a very unique protagonist) Elly Giffiths, Camilla Lackberg.

    4. Sami Colorado*

      I like thrillers too. Some of my favorite authors are Harlan Coben, David Baldacci, J. A. Jance, John Grisham, Jonathan Kellerman, Patricia Cornwell (her first 10 or so books, her more recent ones I didn’t care for).

    5. Meg Murry*

      I accidentally got a Lisa Black book instead of Lisa Gardner (or maybe vice versa, I don’t remember) from Overdrive and thought their styles were similar.

      Karen Rose’s “Closer than you think” was a good thriller, if you don’t mind a heavy dose of romance as a side storyline.

      1. Evie*

        Laura Lippman. Either her Tess Garritsen series or any of her stand alone novels. She has an amazing way with language. I love to read her stuff.

        Dana Stabenow is also an amazing author. If you ever get a chance to see her at an author event, don’t pass it up. She is hilarious in person.

    6. bassclefchick*

      If you like thrillers with a heavy dose of real world science thrown in, James Rollins! Also James Patterson. I just started reading Michael Connelly and I’ve liked him so far. I also like Iris Johansen. Her Eve Duncan series is fabulous. Eve is a forensic artist. She does skull reconstructions. And, of course, if you like the TV show Bones, Kathy Reichs’ books are WAY better than the series.

        1. bassclefchick*

          That’s really cool! I have been resisting Twitter. And Pinterest. LOL I may get sucked in to both.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I finally caved on Pinterest, but I find I don’t use it that much. Maybe because it’s not really visible unless you’re logged in, and the layout is sort of annoying to me.

    7. skyline*

      Maybe Tami Hoag or Lisa Scottoline?

      Also, a helpful resource for quickie read-alike suggestions is Literature-Map. You type in an author’s name, and it will produce a map of similar authors. The closer the names, the more likely a reader will like them both.

    8. CAA*

      Lots of good ones have already been mentioned, but here are a few I don’t see listed yet.

      Carol O’Connell
      Deborah Crombie
      Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child — they both write separately as well, but I like the Pendergast series they write together
      Elizabeth George — especially her earlier books in the Lynley series
      Faye Kellerman
      Jan Burke
      Jo Bannister — Brodie Farrell series
      Kate Atkinson — Jackson Brodie series
      Kathy Reichs
      Linda Fairstein
      Marcia Muller
      Nevada Barr
      P.J. Tracy
      Sandra Parshall
      Tana French — her writing is just amazing!
      Thomas Perry — Jane Whitefield series
      Val McDermid

      1. one more*

        I agree about Tana French. Also, if anyone is still perusing the open thread, I just read In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware in less than a day. (Basic premise: woman wakes up in a hospital after a bachelorette party, someone’s dead, she can’t remember what happened but realizes she’s a person of interest.)

    9. MK2000*

      Great suggestions from everyone else. I’d add Lisa Jackson and, if you can handle grisly, Karin Slaughter.

    10. Felicia*

      The 2 book clubs I’m in are more genre specific, but I just read a book called The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, which I really enjoyed, and which I think would appeal to a wide range of people

  9. JulieB*

    If you get upgraded on a plane – say with a boss or parent – and they don’t, do you feel the need to trade seats?

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I would probably offer to either audience. My boss would politely turn me down, but I’d like my mom or dad to have the better seat.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      I wouldn’t offer with my boss, because most of the ones I have had over the decades (a) made more money than I did, and (b) had enough frequent flyer miles to purchase an upgrade if they wanted it. Plus, gifts shouldn’t flow upwards in business.

      But I would offer it to my parents, since they’re in their 70’s and likely to appreciate the upgrade more than me. (As in, I’d appreciate it, but comfort is an ever-growing factor for them as they age).

      1. Dan*

        Yeah, you’re right about the boss. It’s worth clarifying that if you “get upgraded”, it’s because you fly a lot and have status with the airline, the airline oversold coach and you have high enough status to get an operational upgrade, or presumably the company outright bought a first/business class ticket for you. Perhaps you used your miles to upgrade a coach ticket the company bought.

        My point being that upgrades generally aren’t like winning the lottery, in that you “just got lucky” that day, and your boss didn’t. No, if you’re sitting in an upgraded seat, it’s because of factors involved before you showed up to the airport.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I was on a flight that did a short hop — Orlando to Miami I think. Anyway, after the majority of people got off at the first place, the cabin crew got everyone to move up into first class for the short hop. Whether that’s standard operating procedure being easier to deplane at the final destination/keep an eye on the remaining passengers or we just got lucky that day, I dunno.

          Whether I would give up a bonus/upgrade, it would depend on the situation. But there would have to be really compelling reason as I don’t often get to sit in the comfy seats. I have flown with clients and they’re all up in the front, we’re in the back. I’ve had my clients say that it doesn’t look good for the “help” to be out of coach — but if I were upgraded, they can stuff their optics. There was some story about a man who asked someone to give up their paid seat so his wife could sit beside him in first. Uh… no. Andie McDowell doesn’t want to sit in coach? Life’s tough.

          1. ginger ale for all*

            But with Andie McDowell, she arranged and paid for both her and her dog to fly first class and was told to fly coach when she got on the plane. I would be mad too if I paid for something and didn’t get what I paid for. Even celebrities can get upset if they are ripped off or bumped from a flight. We all would.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I think Andie MacDowell’s problem was that she booked seat 1A, and she brought her dog. There’s no under-seat stowage in 1A, so the dog couldn’t sit there. Now, they should have switched her with someone or explained it better to her, but from what I can gather, there were communication issues on both sides.

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              I stand corrected… I meant that some celebrity/business person/other person who only flies first is getting bent out of shape because they can’t — not my problem and I’m not going to make that kind of trade to make your life easier.

              And in that case, it’s kind of weird that no one in first would switch seats with her… or that the attendants didn’t find somewhere to put the dog. I’ve been amazed when I’ve been up there just how much more room there is for everything. Coat closet. Extra huge overhead storage bins just for your seat. Depending on what kind of first, there isn’t really under seat storage. On a British Airways flight, there was just this little pocket that was large enough for a book (which I forgot). I doubt she booked her seat, there’s a peon out there who is in trouble.

          2. Nina*

            She paid the proper fare for her and her dog so I didn’t begrudge her that, but her referring to coach as “tourist class” just felt off-putting.

    3. Dan*

      No, but I’ll admit I’m more self centered than many, and also don’t have the “I owe people for my success” mentality.

      I travel a lot on frequent flier miles, which means it’s also cost effective for me to upgrade all my trans-oceanic flights. If you’re traveling with me, and you haven’t followed my advice, you’re riding in coach. Sorry, I’m not going to give up my seat. Also, I’m a big dude, so economy for international flights is uncomfortable. I’m simply not willingly giving up an upgraded seat to sit in the back. An hour long flight? Yeah, sure, I’ll go for the brownie points.

      Case in point: My parents and I are going to Europe later in the year. I told my dad, “pick up X credit card and it will be enough miles as a signup bonus to get both you and Mom over to Europe for about $20 in taxes. Pick up another, and you can fly business class.” Dad says to me, “no, one is enough. We’re good with coach.” Fast forward a few months later, when we book the flights, and dad says, “How much extra money for business class?” Uh, that ship sailed.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I think I’d offer only if it’s my husband, because he’s six inches taller than I am (but I would make him bring me back dessert or alcohol from first class!).

      My parents are too frail to travel by plane any more, and fortunately I can’t think of a situation in which I would ever be asked to do plane travel with my boss. (Clients rarely want to send more than one copywriter per trip.) In that case I would feel like I had to offer, but damn, I wouldn’t want to. (Especially not in my current situation, as *I* am considerably taller than my boss!)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      This has never happened to me and most likely never will. My dad doesn’t fly at all, and my mum claims she can’t sleep on a plane no matter what, but she’s never flown first class either, so I’d probably at least offer it to her. If she insisted I take it, I’d sneak goodies to her, heh heh. But it’s also very unlikely we’d ever fly anywhere together.

      As to a boss, I would imagine that my boss makes more money than I do (and has more frequent flier miles than I do) and could afford to upgrade if he/she liked, so you bet I’d take it.

      Come to think of it, Mum probably has quite a few miles from going to see her sister in England. She always flies American. I never get any miles because I fly what’s cheapest.

    6. Wo Fat*

      My problem is this, I’m male and my boss is female. I would feel obligated to give her the upgrade because it’s the gentlemanly thing to do.

    7. Connie-Lynne*

      Probably one of the reasons the CTO at a past company didn’t like me was, one time we both found ourselves on the same flight home, and I was one person ahead of him at the counter. We were both inquiring about upgrades. Neither of us got them at the counter, but I was upgraded later on the plane by the flight staff.

      He gave me a huge stink-eye when he spotted me in the emergency-row larger seat on his way back to the restroom.

      I’m a fat lady with joint problems and it was a 4.5 hour flight. No way would I swap with him, he makes enough to pay for upgrades.

      1. Revanche*

        I don’t care what rank someone is typically in a situation like this but sorry (not really), any C-suite can stuff their stink eye cuz they either make enough or have enough rank to book upper class. You want it, make it happen on your own. (I worked in more than one non-profit where no one in the C-suite made less than quarter mil, and we were not flush. I doubt that’s terribly unusual.)

  10. Holly*

    For the first time in over three years I’m seriously dating someone. Whoot! A huge barrier to dating has been my child free status – it’s very, very hard to find someone else who’s CF or even just ambivalent. The Guy says that he hasn’t really thought one way or the other about being a father, and maybe in 10-15 years (he’s in his 20s now) he might want to be, but right now obviously it’s a non-issue.

    Other CFers of AskaManager, if you exist: have you dated someone else who said “they hadn’t thought about it” or hadn’t formed an opinion one way or the other? How did it turn out?

    1. katamia*

      I’m CF and I sympathize, but I don’t think there’s any way to have the kind of guarantee it sounds like you want. I loathe the “Oh, you’ll change your mind” comments when I tell people I don’t want children and don’t expect I ever will, but I do have formerly CF friends who did, one who is now really happy with three kids and another who wanted to adopt (but as of yet, that hasn’t happened). On the flip side, I also know people who said for a long time they wanted kids and then decided against it. The only mind you can ever really know is your own.

      I’m single now (and have been for most of my adult life) and can’t speak to specific experiences dating someone who was ambivalent or who just hadn’t thought about it, but in general I am open to dating people who aren’t sure. It’s the default societal expectation that people will have or at least want to have kids, and a lot of people just don’t examine those assumptions much. I’m not going to fault someone for that, especially someone in their 20s.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I’m 49 now, still child-free, and would *love* to round up all those people from over the past 40+ years who told me “You’ll change your mind,” and say something smart-alecky to them. :-)

          1. regina phalange*

            I am CF and have no desire to have kids. I actually met someone with the same mindset and I was so excited until he went and ripped my heart out and jammed it into a paper shredder. Honestly, it’s hard for me to meet people in general, let alone get to the part about whether or not the guy has or wants kids. One guy mentioned he did on our first date, unprompted, so I knew off the bat that wasn’t going to go anywhere. One of my friends told me it is hard for her because she meets a lot of guys who DO want kids and she doesn’t. Sorry, I know this is probably not helpful. I think I am past the age where people haven’t thought about it. They either already have kids, want them, or don’t want them. I seem to meet the most guys in groups A & B.

    2. Myrin*

      That’s so interesting to read! I’d actually have thought it would be the other way around since I’ve only ever heard people who do have children say that many folks aren’t interested in dating someone who already has a child – it’s fascinating to see the other side of it, I’d never thought of this before.

      Oh, and congrats on the serious dating! :D

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My husband said he had not thought about it and it was not a major goal for him. I said that I’d probably have health issues and I really had no big interest. He said that was fine because he felt that the woman bore most of the load when it came to kids, anyway (this was in the 70s) and since he was ambivalent the woman’s vote was the deciding vote. Ha! I had to marry the guy.
      We were fine with our decision. It never came up in all the years we were together. We filled up our time with many other things. We watched other people have kids and we were happy for them. But it just wasn’t something we kept revisiting and wondering about for ourselves.

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        I always knew that I did not want children: I did not “change my mind” … ever. When I met my partner, we were both in our late 20s. He said something similar – “he had not thought about it and it was not a major goal for him,” and he assumed whomever he settled down with would want children. I’ve seen that ambivalence in friends. When they had children – either they became pregnant or their partner did – they’ve been great. I think the case would be the same for him, and he would have been a good father if it had happened. The ambivalence was a small red flag, because I have always been set in my decision. It has not been an issue for us, though, and at middle age, we’ve never regretted not having children.

        I think it’s something to look out for as you progress in a relationship. For us, I believe having family, friends, coworkers, etc. who were also without children helped. We have plenty of models of couples without children and don’t feel marginalized for our choices.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, we had a variety of people at all stages of life in our circle of family and friends. I think that helped us not to feel marginalized either. Everyone was just doing their own thing and they thought we were just doing our own thing.

    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      I had the opposite problem in my dating days. When I was in my 30’s, I was pretty sure I wanted kids some day, but I kept ending up with men who just assumed I didn’t, and neither did they. I wasted way too much time with people who did not want what I did, and then I aged out of having babies (I have older stepkids now, and they are wonderful, but they don’t go in for being rocked and cuddled). So, the only advice I can offer is to be clear about what nonnegotiable things you want (because I was not as clear as I should have been) and cut loose when you see you’re with a person who wants something different.

    5. NicoleK*

      I dated a guy once who was adamant about not having kids. Years later, he has a step son and a biological son.

      I went on a date once with a guy that never wanted to have kids. He was upfront about it. It wasn’t an issue because there wasn’t a connection there.

      DH always wanted kids and I was always more ambivalent. We don’t have any kids and we’re both okay with that.

      1. Artemesia*

        I know two situations where guys insisted on not having kids, the women wanted kids but wanted the relationship more, they hit middle age without kids — then the guys dumped them and married younger women and now have kids and are those kinds of middle aged fathers who act like they invented fatherhood. The level of bitterness of the women left behind having made that sacrifice is off the charts.

        Wanting kids is the most important thing if you want them. Pushing that down to marry a guy who doesn’t want them is never going to work out in the end. I also know women who married guys who didn’t want kids (one couple both were sterilized in their 20s because of his insistence on never having kids) and who are still together. Both of them regret not having had kids; for one it has been associated with severe depression in her 60s; the other is philosophical about it and satisfied with the bargain she made.

    6. Pennalynn Lott*

      Back in my 20’s, I don’t ever remember the topic coming up with guys I dated, even the serious ones where we had a multi-year monogamous relationship. I guess because I never wanted kids, it just wasn’t on my radar so I never asked. I assume that the “I-Have-to-Be-a-Dad-Someday” types self-selected out of my dating pool after a handful of dates, because I certainly never said anything about wanting to be a parent.

      I met current Boyfriend in my (our) late 30’s and was surprised that he was (a) child-free and (b) wanted to stay that way, because by then it seemed like every possible dating candidate already had kids or had their own biological clock ticking.

    7. Dan*

      katamia is right. You have no idea how you or anybody else will feel X years down the road. I’m not saying that *you* will change your mind, or even implying that you might. But for many, it’s an open question.

      For me, I know I don’t want kids *right now.* I’ve felt that way for 20 years (I’m mid thirties.) As I’ve gotten older, I haven’t really felt less strongly about it either. But on my dating profile, I put down “doesn’t have kids, may want them.”

      In some ways, I find this to be a difficult age to date. If a woman puts “wants kids”, the question becomes “how fast.” I can tell you that if the answer is “within the next two years” it’s probably best to cut our losses early. If they told me “within the next ten years” I might date and see how it goes. But they have to be prepared for the idea that I may never change my mind.

      I do find that I’m more comfortable if they put “no” and I don’t have to worry about that at all.

    8. Pretend Scientist*

      In my 20s, I didn’t feel that I wanted kids, but did still date men who either had kids or wanted some. I thought I might come around to it as I got older (though, with a heavy dose of skepticism). It didn’t happen. Once Mr. Pretend Scientist and I got together, he did not want kids, and it was a huge relief to me. Less than a year later, he got a vasectomy. Best. Present. Ever.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      I won’t say that I hadn’t thought about it or didn’t have an opinion either way, but I will say in the first few years my spouse and I were together, she was a lot more adamant about not having kids, and I honestly could have been persuaded to have kids.

      Now that we’ve been without kids for so long, I’ve really come to more of the “no way are we having kids” side, especially since a few friends of ours who have kids have confided to us that they wouldn’t do it again if they had the choice (not in front of their kids, mind you, and always with “I love, love, love [name of kid], but …” first).

    10. Sail On, Sailor*

      I let him know early on I was never going to have human children. He said he could go either way. We have been married now for 34 years and are both very happy with our decision.

    11. Shell*

      I am adamant about not having children. He was uncertain–some days he was plain ambivalent, some days he thinks he may want them in the future.

      I broke up with him eventually after a long and happy relationship. The children issue was one of the reasons why (though not the only one).

      1. Maya Elena*

        Hmm, have any of you met young people, nonreligious, who were the opposite way? I am alone among my friends who would have liked to have the children early, before career gto started, and to have energy for them later – after my parents’ model. (No luck so far for me though.)

        1. Honeybee*

          My cousin was like that, although how much if it is belief and how much was accident is undetermined. She always wanted to have kids and always wanted to have them younger than most, but she unexpectedly got pregnant at 19. She then decided to have a second one three years later because she wanted her kids to be close in age. So we’re 29 now, and the oldest is 9.5 and the youngest just turned 6 today. She’s firmly in the camp of having kids before 30, and definitely before 35. (Which is funny to me, because I am somewhat in the camp of having kids after 35 if at all.) It’s for the same reasons you said – energy for them when they are young and require the energy, plus her body physically bouncing back more quickly.

          We’re the same age and I don’t have any children, so now she occasionally nags me about how if I want to have kids I’d better get on it soon because my eggs are dying/ovaries are aging/how am I ever going to space my kids out correctly if I don’t have them soon. When I express ambivalence she’s basically convinced I will never have them because I haven’t made up my mind yet.

          1. Artemesia*

            I have a niece who had two children in medical school; she wanted kids and figured that this was actually the most flexible time to have them. If there had been problems, she could have dropped out of med school for a year and her assumption is that internship and residency would be a more stressful time to have kids. Her husband is also in med school; they seem pretty pleased with the decision and the kids are adorable.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I have a dear family member who insisted I was going to have a little girl. She even picked out the name.

            I said, “Oh, okay then.” And my life went on.

            I get a big kick out of wildly understated replies to stupid statements.

        2. Emily*

          I think that a lot of people do follow their parents’ example. My parents weren’t married until late twenties, and my mom didn’t have me until she was 32. She had my sister at 35. Everyone is different, of course, but my parents are still healthy and active into their late 50s. If I have kids (I’m currently undecided/leaning towards no), late twenties is probably the earliest I’ll start thinking about them.

          Meanwhile, some of my friends who want to get married and started on kids sooner than I do have parents who are younger than mine. :)

          1. phyllisB*

            Well, my mother had my sister at 18, me at 20. All I ever wanted was to be a mother and wanted to follow her example. What I wanted was, have two children 2-3 years apart, wait about five years and have two more (I know, what was I thinking?) Reality? I married at 25 and (after two miscarriages) had my first child at age 30. My second at age 34, and my third and last at age 36. (Hubby didn’t want anymore because he had one from his first marriage and thought that was plenty. So he made sure there would be no more.) The funny part: My youngest daughter, (my last child) was mortified that she had such an “old” mother; her best friend’s mother married at 14 and had her at 15. She would tell everyone I was 10 years younger than I really was. I wasn’t offended, but I had to explain to her that people would think it was me being vain and lying about my age; not that she felt like I was too old :-) Lesson to be learned? You never know what life will bring. I always liked the saying “We make plans, God laughs.”

        3. Laura*

          That’s me. I am turning 30 this year, no kids and no prospect of someone to have them with, and it is maybe the hardest thing in my life. I always wanted kids, wanted them young, still want them and feel like not being a parent yet is a great disappointment. My life is fine, objectively, but it’s not the life I want.

          1. regina phalange*

            I can totally sympathize, even though I don’t want kids, my life right now is not the life I want. And I am struggling trying to accept that some things I will not be able to change, and I should embrace what I have. I hope you meet someone who wants the same things you do, but in the meantime, just know you are definitely not alone.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I can relate to the part about “not the life I want”. I am so sorry, may your path change direction very soon.

        4. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I was mostly agnostic before I was an atheist, and I’ve always wanted kids, but not necessarily early. My wife and I both put ourselves through graduate school a few years after we got married, and so the original plan was to wait until we were both done with grad school. We decided to start trying after she finished because we weren’t sure how long it would take, and wound up with a toddler when I finished school. I think it worked well for us because we had longed commutes, less flexible schedules, and longer hours when we first got married, and by the time we had our daughter we were at a better point in our careers where we had more flexibility and negotiating power in general. And we’ll still be in our 40s when she goes off to college (although not when she finishes).

    12. Jen RO*

      No experience here (long-term boyfriend hates kids), but keeping my fingers crossed for you. I do wonder about this from time to time – if my current relationship were to end, how difficult would it be to find a CF guy?

      (I am also afraid that my body will go nuts one day and decide that it’s time for a baby! My brain definitely is against it, but I’ve met more than one person who went from definitely CF to pregnant to happy mother/father…)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We don’t know what thoughts people keep private. I always said that if I became pregnant NO one would ever know that the child was an oops. So although, my plan did not include children my priorities would have shifted with a child. It would have become important to me for that child to know it was wanted. And the ground work for the child to know this fact would start with me not letting on to anyone that the child was unplanned/unexpected. I’m not saying this is the context that “everyone else should feel this way”, I am saying it in the context that this would have been something hugely important to me. If anyone asked me about my change in plan, I would have just shrugged and said, “We changed our minds. We want a child.”

        We don’t know what people have decided to keep mum about.

    13. Princess Buttercup*

      In my 20s, I said that, if I hadn’t met the right man by 30, I would have a baby on my own. Then 30 came and I said “uh no, I’ll wait till 35.” Then 35 came, and I still wasn’t ready. Finally hit me in late 30s that I didn’t really want kids, I was just going with society’s norms.

      The more I thought about it, I realized I had never been “into” kids. When we were teens, my sister would babysit all the time and engage with the kids, play with them, etc. (she ended up becoming a teacher and having two kids of her own). I just wanted the kids I was babysitting to play on their own while I read or studied. I just did don’t connect with kids until they reached tween / teen years.

      Met my husband when I was 40. He had a 6 yr old and 14 yr old who lived with his ex but visited weekends & school breaks. That was fine with me. I did bond with his sons, but part-time was plenty for me. Now they are both grown (19 & 26) and I love them and am close to them. But I have absolutely no regrets about not having babies.

    14. Sunflower*

      I’m 27 and I’ve never really thought about it or asked anyone about it. I’m in a boat right now where a lot of my friends are getting ready to start families and I’m just not feeling it. I’ve never particularly liked children and I’ve always felt that one day I’ll just get the want to have them. I do find myself thinking babies are a little cuter than I used to- I’m still very much ‘ahh its crying and yelling get it away from me’. There are lots of reasons I have no interest in having children right now- I’m not financially secure, no partner. The biggest thing though is that I’m just am not ready to give up the freedom that comes with being CF. I feel torn because in one way, I can’t imagine not having kids but in another way, I’m not sure I want them. Will I feel this way in a few years? I have no idea. I wouldn’t bank on someone changing their mind but it does happen.

      I think women spend more time thinking about this than men do for obvious reasons. I also think it’s more socially acceptable for women to adopt or raise a child on their own than it is for a man so whereas a woman might be thinking ‘if I never get married, will I still want children’ a lot of men figure they will only have children if they get married. So hearing that he hasn’t thought about it yet doesn’t surprise me or mean much.

  11. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I want to talk about coziness. Coziness is one of my highest values in life, and I actually think one of the reasons I married my husband is that we bonded over that. I’ve been thinking about what I really mean when I talk about coziness, and to me I think it’s this list:

    * The obvious stuff: thick blankets to wrap yourself in, cozy places to sit, hot drinks (could be tea, could be a hot toddy — that is up to you), cats.
    * Things are reasonably clean, and there’s no clutter.
    * A well-stocked larder; you could be trapped inside for days and eat quite well.
    * A well-stocked everything else. I recently told my husband upon realizing there was no toilet paper in a bathroom that we hardly ever use, “You can’t be cozy when you know there’s no toilet paper in one of the bathrooms” and I think this is true. You have to feel like your house is taking care of you and your needs have been anticipated and met.
    * Unpleasant things are not hanging over you; there’s no pressing errand that you have to get up and run, or an irksome assignment that you have to write.
    * Weather ideally is cold, rainy, or — best of all — snowy. Dismal is good for these purposes, or any kind of extreme weather event that doesn’t involve high temperatures.
    * Your couch is not a mid-century Danish sofa or similar.
    * You may be wearing fleece.
    * For bonus points, you may have something cooking in your oven or on your stove that needs to cook for hours and smells fantastic.

    Agree/disagree? Do you have different items on your list?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      Yes to everything! I would also add a hoodie to the list, preferably fleece-lined. In winter I always throw on a hoodie as soon as I get up – even though I hardly ever put the hood on, it just feels nice while I’m having my tea and toast under a blanket and purring cat.

      Oh, and a well-stocked bookshelf / e-reader, and Netflix.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Ooh, and puzzle books! Nothing like spending a cozy rainy day flitting between books, puzzles, podcasts, and TV. I have a large stash of puzzle books – crosswords (cryptic and regular), sudoku, hanjie, and other logic puzzles.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, there must be a shelf (real or virtual) of unread books and old favorites to choose from. And I agree with all Alison has said about the other elements of coziness. And it’s best if I’m wearing my fleece knee-length gown with leggings underneath and no bra.

    2. LizB*

      Agree! (Except for the no clutter, that would take most of my house out of the running most of the time — I’d say well-managed clutter is sufficient. =P) I would add that in addition to fleece, you are likely to be wearing slippers, fuzzy socks, or something else nice and soft and warm on your feet. Also, there may be chill music of any genre playing in the background.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Oh, yes — the slippers! Agree on the eel-managed clutter, as well. I’ll never be truly clutter-free, but if everything is sufficiently put away and tidied up, I’m good.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Well managed, not eel managed. Maybe monkey managed, though. I did always want a monkey.

    3. Mimmy*

      I can’t stand being cold, but if it means I get to wear my super-warm snowflake covered pajama bottoms, I’m a happy camper because they are really cozy when I’m feeling extra chilly and/or wet (from rain or snow). I also love fleece blankets.

    4. Wendy Darling*

      My midcentury sofa is surprisingly cozy. I actually love it because it’s pretty but also really comfortable to sit on, and it has these high, thick armrests that I can put my laptop or tablet or drink (with coaster, ofc) on and work. I don’t think I can ever do a round-armed sofa after this thing, I’m too happy setting stuff on those darned arms.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I think this is a vile calumny against lovely furniture–there’s definitely some slick Italian stuff from that era that couldn’t be called cozy, but I have a lovely squishy velvet Scandinavian MCM sofa that’s hugely comfortable. And yes, I put stuff on the arms! Until you mentioned it I never realize how much I take that for granted.

      2. Marzipan*

        My sofa is a mid-century Ercol daybed (that I rewebbed, recovered and refurbished myself) and its wonderfully comfortable. My favourite thing about it is that it’s long enough to literally be able to use it as a bed, so you can lie right down on it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        YES! Nothing warms the way wood does. I can feel wood heat going right into the center of my bones.

        1. Mimmy*

          We don’t have a fireplace, but my parents do–I love sitting with them by the fire with wine glass in hand. One Christmas Eve, I think we were up with them until 2 a.m. That’s coziness!

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I wish, wish, wish that I had a fireplace. A fire is one of the basic elements of coziness.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too–I could have stayed in my house during the ice storm. I had hot water and a Sterno stove and an oil lamp, but no heat. Plus all that lovely crackling, mmmm.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Oh, god, the ice storm. We have all electric heat, so we were without great for several days. We kept warm by bundling up. Finally, one of my husband’s with friend’s power came back on, and he lent us his big kerosene shop heater. I’d like either a gas fireplace or a real wood fireplace.

      2. AnotherFed*

        Dogs can be very cozy. And there’s usually more volume to them to radiate heat at you from their spot on the sofa. As I type this, I have one pit bull keeping my feet very warm and one mutt keeping my side very warm.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        Ya know, since the ice storm a couple of years ago when I had to try and keep a fire going for about 4 days round the clock… I’ve kind of lost that lovin’ feeling towards a fire in the fireplace. I haven’t had one since. Maybe one day but… right now it brings up flashbacks of getting up at 3am to stuff the fireplace full of wood before the embers die. It was fairly easy to wake up, as I was sleeping on the floor in front of said fireplace, on a makeshift bed of stuff with 2 duvets on top. Good times.

      4. Windchime*

        Oh, I miss my real fireplace. I have a gas one not and it’s nice and cozy, but there is nothing like the snapping and popping of a real wood fire, plus I kind of like tending to the fire. In my old house, I wouldn’t go to bed until the fire was reduced to coals, so sometimes I would lay on the sofa in the dark and just kind of doze until the fire was low enough to allow me to go to bed. Heaven.

    5. katamia*

      I must admit I’ve never thought much about coziness, but I have to ask: what’s wrong with mid-century Danish sofas?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Ha, well, I think of them as stiff and uncomfortable and not very cushiony — like Mad Men style furniture — but now Wendy Darling above has me questioning all I hold true.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        They tend to be on the stiff and on the small side. There are ones out there that aren’t but they’re hard to find.

        1. fposte*

          I think they’re small by contemporary American standards, but to me that’s part of why they’re cozy–they’re easier to snuggle in. To me snuggling is cozier than sprawling, but maybe that’s a taste call.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          As someone who lives in little apartments, I love that they tend to be a bit small. A massive Pottery Barn sofa would take up my entire living room!

          1. VintageLydia*

            I just really like super deep seats and Mr. Vintage is 6’3″ and likes being able to lie down on them. Our home is mid-century and I’ve been trying to furnish with that aesthetic in mind. I have Danish teak tables and an MCM inspired rug and a few other things but my couches are leather recliners. They’re on the big side for my tastes and needs but I let the Mister pick them out. He just… really like lying down in the living room and thinks everyone else should as well. It’s his thing. He’s talking about getting another recliner for that room and I think I have to put my foot down.

            My grandma actually had the perfect MCM couch from the early 70’s (so the latter edge of it) and it was VERY comfortable but she had bladder issues later in life and it didn’t survive long enough for me to inherit it :/

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I dunno. I’m sitting on one now that’s 6′ long. I had a nap on it earlier today, with the cats and we were all fine. It could stand to be recovered, though.

        1. fposte*

          6′ is a compact sofa these days. (I just checked West Elm for the heck of it, and they call that a loveseat.) I got a 78″ and it was the smallest in the showroom.

    6. GreenTeaPot*

      A stack of good books: A mystery, a biography, a book about food or wine and a good novel.

      Soup on the stove.

      Fancy hot chocolate or tea.

      1. fposte*

        General agreement, but I’d also note that the hot chocolate or tea should be in a cup or mug that brings you special pleasure.

        1. Merry and Bright*

          Agree about the mugs. I own a matching set but the ones I really use are individual ones – ones I’ve bought somewhere special or I liked the design, or someone bought it for me.

        2. Wendy Darling*

          I am in the fortunate position of having an entire set of like a billion plain white mugs that make me deliriously happy. They’re so perfectly white! their proportions are so pleasing to the eye! Their lovely handles are the right size for you to not burn your knuckles when you’re carrying your cup of hot coffee to the sofa! They are a thinner material than the average coffee cup and for some reason that makes them more pleasant to sip from IMO.

          I just love them. Which is why I have eight. Long may they prosper and may Crate and Barrel never discontinue them or switch to a crappy supplier.

          1. fposte*

            Hmm, between the mid-mod sofa and the mug joy we may be related. I have some lovely German cups in beautiful colors and some wonderful Arabia mugs. They just make me happy.

    7. Amber Rose*

      Agree! And add soft music, orchestral or something, and dim lighting. Not super dark, but like a lamp instead of an overhead light.

      1. salad fingers*

        Totally second the lighting bit – that’s the instant switch from regular to cozy at my place.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Here, too! We actually call the switch from overhead to lamps in the evening “making the cozy house”.

    8. pleiades*

      For me, what’s essential:

      -Tea. Such a soothing ritual. My favorites are Bellocq White Wolf, Mariage Freres Vanille des Iles, and my big splurge is real milk oolong. Wowza. Also helps me skip dessert.

      – Something great to read. I have a New Yorker subscription and occasionally it piles up, which stresses me out, but a good issue is so satisfying.

      – Records. After years and years of thinking about it, I’m finally getting into vinyl and loving it. A fantastic way for me to ensure more serious contemplation of the entire album.

      – Scent. I know we talk about not using scent at the office a lot here at AAM, but in my own home, I do love a good candle. I don’t care for many of the large companies, but you don’t have to go super high end either – I found a teeny tiny local candle company that I’ve liked as much as Diptyque.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Talk to me about milk oolong! I bought some after it was recommended here, and I’m not tasting the milkiness at all. What am I missing? (I got it from the Republic of Tea.)

        1. pleiades*

          It should be more of a ‘sense’ of milkiness/creaminess, I think. A strange combination of rich yet delicate flavor. Looks like Republic of Tea does a bagged version – I think that could be disappointing. Reading some reviews, some people talk about a pineapple flavor and limited milkiness. To me, the creamy quality should be somewhat distinct. Maybe I’ve just lucked out.

          I say it’s a splurge, but the leaves actually do go a long way – this is a very good tea for re-steeping (I’ve done up to 5 times, possibly more).

          1. pleiades*

            The leaves should unfurl and be huge, so a steeping technique that gives the leaves plenty of space is useful.

            I am really happy with my Hario Tea Steeper (I also make pourover coffee, which uses the same stand/setup.) Lots of room for big leaves.

            1. pleiades*

              Here’s one more tea I’m SUPER into right now: Old Tree Yunnan Red from Song Tea. Really happy with this stuff. The tasting notes are pretty apt. Complex and fascinating, even for non-tea drinkers (I got my cocktail-loving friends pulled in with the sweet vermouth descriptor)

              I found it at Ceremony Coffee in Annapolis, which I mention because I think you are somewhere in the Mid Atlantic area.

    9. periwinkle*

      That list works for me. My home office is not cozy – it is a place to do my paid work and read academic journals and synthesize and write and PANIC OVER MY DISSERTATION TOPIC AAAAAAAH. It is not an unpleasant room, and there is generally at least one cat sleeping here while I’m working, but it is not cozy.

      Our living room is cozy. There’s a leather sofa and squishy foot rest, fleecy throws, a restful view through the patio door, and skylights. When we’re done with work stuff, the kitchen is tidied up but still smells a bit like roast chicken, the cats have settled who is going to curl up where for the next half hour, the drizzle spatters against the skylights while we’re watching Rifftrax shorts, and I can tuck my feet under my favorite soft fleecy blanket… that’s cozy.

      One advantage to living in Seattle is that the weather remains cozyness-enhancing for 8 or 9 months.

      1. Angela*

        Cozy weather for 8-9 months sounds wonderful to me! I’m in Georgia, where I’m trying to maintain the coziness when it’s 65 degrees in January. I have short sleeves and slippers right now.

      2. Honeybee*

        Hee, I made a similar comment about Seattle weather in my own comment. A lot of people don’t like it but personally I really like Seattle weather. Relatively mild winter, 8-9 months of coziness and then beautiful, warm, sunny summers. What’s not to like?

      3. Bibliovore*

        periwinkle- I am trapped in academic/tenure track/writing hell. Good news/bad news- I have release time to write. Bad news, lots of health stuff, no writing. Lets NOT panic together. I get being in the tt at an R1 is a privileged position but that doesn’t stop the anxiety that is crawling up the back of my throat. My home office is finally how I like it. Very cozy.

        1. periwinkle*

          There are times when I wish I had gone to the academic side, but seeing the white-knuckle publishing frenzy of my favorite assistant prof at an R2… yikes. Despite some major distractions in her non-academic life, she made tenure! Deep breaths, you can do it.

    10. Doriana Gray*

      A good book to read would be added to my cozy list. Oh – and either a big, fluffy robe or big, fluffy socks. And candles. And an abundance of chocolate.

      1. JaneB*

        A big fluffy robe AND big fluffy socks! (and a nice fluffy whisked up hot chocolate, and a toasted crumpet with butter…).

        Dogs are good at warming but they don’t purr, a purring cat on your lap or leaning on you is the cherry on top of cosiness…

        1. Doriana Gray*

          Ohhh….hot chocolate. I think I’m going to go make some now and melt pieces of dark chocolate to drizzle on top.

    11. Angela*

      I’ve now written down my own cozy list (really!) because it gives me a good reminder to do those tasks that would take away from my “coziness”. I like the idea of looking at laundry as an act of “Restoring the Cozy”. My list includes most of yours (with emphasis on hot tea, cats, and fleece), but I added:

      * Knitting (doesn’t get any cozier than yarn in my lap)
      * Good lotion within reach (I love the cold, but it dries out my hands)
      * The entire evening (or afternoon) before me

    12. Tris Prior*

      I like this list! I never feel cozier after a huge grocery run, especially when made in anticipation of a big storm.

      Also: Fuzzy socks. Or fuzzy pajama pants.

      Granted, I’m hard pressed to think of a time when I DON’T have something odious and pressing on my to-do list. (which is probably true of most of us unemployed/soon-to-be-unemployed/job-searching folks :( )

      Gray days are perfect for coziness, though I do disagree that snow is conducive to that state of mind. I might feel differently if I worked from home or lived in some place where you weren’t still expected to haul ass in to work even if there are 2 feet on the ground. Otherwise digging oneself out in order to get to work becomes one of those odious tasks hanging over one’s head. :) Rainy drizzly gray days though – perfect. No guilt for staying inside wrapped in a blanket – I love it!

    13. fposte*

      Thinking about the sprawl vs. snuggle thing made me remember I really like a nook. It’s not requisite, but it really enhances the coziness. I don’t think I could be cozy in an open-plan design.

    14. Carrie in Scotland*

      In addition to everyone else’s comments and suggestions, how about curtains that are longer than the window and duvets that are a size larger than the bed? (my mum always told me to do this so there’s enough to go around!)

      I’m also beginning to realise I don’t have much ‘cozy’ due to a horrible mattress that really need to be replaced and rooms with high ceilings (impossible to warm up).

      1. Princess Buttercup*

        I have a king duvet on a queen bed for just that reason!

        I also recently bought a twin duvet to use on the couch while reading or watching TV. Maximum coziness (especially with my little pug on my lap), plus allows me to keep the heater at a lower temp.

    15. danr*

      I’ll add a fireplace to the list for those snowy and cold, damp days. And plenty of dry firewood. A good stock of easy drinking wine if you drink. A nice liqueur. Plenty of fixings for hot cocoa.
      We joke that we could be snowed in for a month, but we might get tired of pasta and tomato sauce.

      1. Honeybee*

        Electric fireplace. I thought I wouldn’t like it because it’s not real enough, but I really like just flipping a switch and not having to bother with firewood and tending it.

      1. fposte*

        I was thinking about hygge, and gemutlichkeit, and wondering what other countries have cozy words and what elements make it work for them.

      1. Scandinavians know cozy...*

        And the Norwegian equivalent, “koselig”. I think Scandinavians really value this whole concept.

    16. Honeybee*

      I’ve never thought about it in terms of the word “coziness” before, but yes, this is a very high value for my husband and I too. We’re both burrowers – we love having a home that we can putter around in without having to leave, and our happiest weekends are often when we don’t leave the home at all and just watch movies or play games or read books.

      And all of these things are on my list! Warm fleece sweatpants, gray rainy weather,* soft comfy fabric couch, lots of throws and pillows in the living room, food and snacks in the pantry, no appointments. I hate errands. Also, soft memory foam fleece/wool slippers. We also buy our toilet paper and paper towels in big bulk packs. I also need access to lots of entertainment options right here – I always have a selection of half-read books on my Kindle, we have Netflix and Hulu and some on-demand shows on the television, I have lots of video games on my Xbox, etc. These are things I can generally do from my couch. I even selected my dog partially on the principle of coziness – while I really wanted a somewhat active and energetic lab I also wanted one who knew the value of snuggling quietly. And oh, does my Zelda know how to snuggle. Her instinct is if I’m on the couch, “let’s jump up and put our paws in mommy’s lap, or lay our warm body over mommy’s feet.” Yes, Zelda, good dog.

      *When I moved to Seattle, everyone warned me that the weather was gray and rainy for 8-9 months out of the year as if this was a problem. They genuinely didn’t believe me when I said that this would not bother me and was actually sometimes preferable. I actually really like Seattle weather.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Fleecy tracksuit bottoms/pyjamas and a fur throw I made for a fraction of the price of buying one.

        Large mugs of tea are also important.

      2. periwinkle*

        I’m a recent transplant to Seattle. Let’s see… in DC we had lovely but too-short springs, gorgeous fall weather, annoying winters, and hideous summers. In Seattle we have drizzly mornings followed by afternoon sunshine, except during the summer when it’s sunshine all day (and NOT HUMID) and well into the night thanks to our latitude. In DC it could get way too hot to enjoy having a lap cat or dog. In Seattle, pile them on! Winner: Seattle.

        Hmm. In the Seattle region, animal rescue groups have to import cats and dogs to meet the adoption demand, mainly from hotter climates (my two rescue kitties were transported from California shelters). We have cozy weather most of the year. Coincidence or correlation?

    17. Artemesia*

      One of the reasons I am so happy in retirement is that I have all this too. Comfort is high on our list. I live in a high rise with a great view. It is small but has everything we need including a galley kitchen where you hardly have to move to reach everything you need and one of the few pieces of kitchen equipment we kept and didn’t donate when we moved from the big house in the south to the condo in the north was the crockpot. The only big fail is no fireplace but the view makes up for that.

      Another high value for us is ‘walkable urban life’. We can walk to dozens of restaurants, to a movie theater, to the entire range of shopping, to grocery stores, to museums and parks and the waterfront, even a nice zoo. And if the walk is too far or the weather is icky, the public transport is great (not Paris great, but pretty close). We have kept one car, but when we have to give it up, we will still be able to get around fine. And one of our kids and our only grandkid are nearby which is a source of great satisfaction. Having strong cultural and social opportunities easily at hand is making our retirement the happiest time of our lives and we have had good lives.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s very much why I’m picturing moving from a house in the suburbs to a condo downtown somewhere when our daughter is off on her own. I want to be able to walk to a cafe or a bakery, or for one bag of groceries. And public transportation feels totally different when you’re out for leisure instead of heading to work.

        And I like that you mention the view; for me, a comfortable, relaxing place has to have a nice view, preferably of trees. Or water, but that’s usually more expensive. Even people-watching is relaxing, so a downtown condo with a view of a busy sidewalk would be OK, too.

  12. LizB*

    Ever since I started using YNAB, I’ve become very aware of how much I’m spending on eating out — meeting friends for happy hour, grabbing a sandwich for lunch, getting takeout on the weekends when I don’t feel like cooking, stopping for a coffee and snack on Wednesdays before I go to my second job… it’s adding up to way more than I ought to be spending on food.

    I never used to be this way — I was excellent at planning meals and more or less sticking to the plan. I think there are a few big things that have pushed me more towards eating out: 1. I now have a car, and it’s way easier to run out to a restaurant, 2. I’m making almost 3x as much as I was last year (I was on an AmeriCorps stipend), so I feel like I have ~so much more money~ even though it’s still not a ton, and 3. I’m living with my boyfriend, who is happy to get takeout or pizza whenever I suggest it, and is lukewarm at best about many of the things I want to cook (he’s a frustratingly picky eater).

    So I think I know what’s causing the problem, but I’m not sure what I should do to solve it other than grit my teeth and force myself not to eat out. Should I make a rule that I can only eat out if I’m with friends/only once a month by myself? Should I establish Takeout Tuesdays and make that the only day of the week we’re allowed to order food? I already do weekly meal planning for dinners — should I also plan breakfasts, lunches, and snacks? I’m not sure what’s going to be most effective. Anyone have tips?

    1. TL -*

      Stock your pantry with food you like to eat and that’s easy to access. That way, there’s no cook options or light cook options when you’re not feeling the cooking.

      1. pleiades*

        Yes. The only way to really set yourself up for success here is to make food that you’re pretty psyched about having. I’ve scrapped a lot of recipes because the leftovers (aka next day lunches, etc) just weren’t worthy.

      2. LizB*

        This is something I need to work on. Another difference I thought of was in the past, I did a lot of batch-cooking of freezer meals, so it was super easy to pull something home-cooked out and pop it in the microwave. I should devote some time to stocking up on those kinds of meals again.

    2. Elsajeni*

      I agree with TL — stock up on some low-effort things you can make at home. I always have a frozen pizza or two, a box or two of macaroni and cheese, some pasta and jarred pasta sauce, and some miscellaneous frozen veggies in the house. Those aren’t my healthiest dinners, but at least they’re cheap.

      For lunch/breakfast/snacks: I do a lot better at bringing a lunch with me when I have leftovers, so my husband and I tend to build leftovers into our dinner plans. We also always keep a bunch of stuff around that can be thrown in with a lunch or packed as a snack without much effort, and similar easy-to-prepare breakfast stuff. So I have either instant oatmeal, a toaster waffle with peanut butter, or a smoothie (yogurt, banana, frozen strawberries) for breakfast every morning, and my packed lunches usually look like one big tupperware with leftover lasagna or something plus a bunch of sides (a common example: an apple, baby carrots and hummus, a granola bar, a mini Babybel, and a brownie), which I’ll eat some of with lunch and some of as snacks during the day.

      1. LizB*

        Leftovers make great lunches! That’s another problem — cooking for two people instead of one has completely thrown off my leftover game. Dishes that used to feed me for three meals now feed us for one meal and maybe a snack. I need to start scaling things up so I have leftovers to eat.

        1. CAA*

          I just recently came to the same realization about leftovers. I got a great cookbook that’s geared for two people last summer, and I’ve been cooking from it a lot because I love the recipes, but I find we’re doing takeout a lot more because there are never any leftovers!

        2. Overeducated and underemployed*

          I am having this issue too! I recently got fed up and told my husband that since we started trying to stretch leftovers for more dinners and follow his lunch routine (pb&j, plain greens with dressing, fruit, and a salty or sweet snack), I have just been skipping vegetables entirely and eating extra cookies because I hate the combination of a sweet sandwich and such a boring salad. It is a cheaper way to eat, but I really missed having a variety of lunches based on leftovers, and having vegetables be part of the main dish instead of a separate thing you have to eat. Now I’m trying to someties make enough leftovers for two dinners for both of us and one or two two lunches for me, instead of three dinners for both of us, or be a little more creative with pre-prepped stuff (like spaghetti squash with canned tomato sauce and cheese).

      2. TootsNYC*

        My husband deliberately makes leftovers, AND he packages them as one-person lunches, instead of putting all the meat in one container and all the rice in another.
        That way, when it’s time to take lunch, we just pick up a container and go.

        He calls them “happy meals.”

      3. Artemesia*

        We mostly eat in; our eating out is almost always to socialize with friends which we do often and not because we don’t want to cook. We did the same when we were working although less socializing. Basically I got food on the table during the week as I had a flexible schedule and he did the weekends (more elaborately and often with leftovers I could use during the week) A crockpot is great for low stress planned left over eating. We are having our daughter’s family over today to help us eat up the giant pork shoulder/pulled pork I did this week. A pot roast is easy, yummy, ‘cozy’ and hot brown sandwiches with gravy from the drippings the second day is also tasty comfort food. A stewed chicken will give us at least 3 meals — I love chicken and dumplings and they are super easy.

        If even the effort of crock pot cooking is hard to manage all the time, having stuff you like and is easy helps. For many years we had a gas grill on the deck outside our kitchen door and we often grilled something for dinner — no kitchen mess and easy to do. We would grill a steak or chicken or sausage or pork chops and also a set of tomatoes and other veggies. Easy quick and tasty. And then there is always a nice bowl of cheerios when you really really don’t want to bother.

    3. AnotherFed*

      I also live with a very picky eater, which limits my cooking to when he’s not here. He cooks some, but we’re pretty bad about take out! To combat that (and to be a little healthier!), I’ve gone to planning breakfast, lunch, and snacks. That can be as simple as grabbing some breakfast bars, the stuff to make decent sandwiches and salads, and some of the single-serving size snacks at the grocery store. I plan in at least one day of being bad, because I know I’m going to cave at least once and decide that Chinese buffet is way better than the turkey sandwich I brought!

      1. LizB*

        I think planning a day of being bad is the way to go, at least at first. I get really bad cravings for things like brownies or fried chicken, so I can’t count on cutting them out entirely.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I make at least 95% of my own meals. My husband put up with it because restaurant food was doing a number on our health and we went through times where we really had to watch our spending also.

      Currently, I only eat in restaurants if a friend wants to, I don’t make that choice myself. I bring snacks with me if I go out and I keep stuff in the house to graze on. I did find that I enjoyed running into a store and grabbing something, regardless of whether I was hungry or not. So that was a little tough in the beginning and the amount of advertising that says “EAT, EAT, EAT” is jawdropping.
      I think that making rules that you will actually work with is more important that chasing some ideal. What makes sense to you? For a while, I liked to get a cup of coffee for the ride home on Fridays. Now I like a little snack on Wednesdays. If you make your rules too strict you won’t follow them at all. Better to have just a couple rules and follow them most of the time.

      1. LizB*

        “I did find that I enjoyed running into a store and grabbing something, regardless of whether I was hungry or not.” This really resonates with me — I’m a terrible emotional eater/boredom eater, and sometimes grabbing a snack is kind of a default activity for me when I just don’t have anything else to do or I’m feeling crappy. I need to work on that.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Two things that are important to keep in mind. Sleep and hydration.
          Sleep. Energy has to come from somewhere. If we do not get enough sleep we HAVE to eat more to keep ourselves going.
          Hydration. Thirst can masquerade as hunger.
          My thinking here is that if I am going to “deprive” myself of those Twinkies then I must have something in it’s place. It’s a good question to ask, “why am I buying and eating this thing when I am not hungry?”
          Unfairly, if we are low on sleep and/or water we can be prone to making more of those emotionally based decisions that may not be the best decisions.

          1. TootsNYC*

            “Sleep. Energy has to come from somewhere. If we do not get enough sleep we HAVE to eat more to keep ourselves going.”

            This explains why I always felt hungry when I pulled an all-nighter in college (and still, actually, though I’m not doing many all-nighters). I always thought it was that my brain didn’t know how to handle/signal the fatigue, so it used the “hungry” button.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Nope. Your body/mind are working correctly. The body sends a message to the brain, “Hey, need some fuel here, I’m getting worn out.” The brain knows there is no sleep or nap in the near future so the brain says, “EAT!!!!! The body needs more energy, it’s out of energy.”

    5. Aardvark*

      I think you’re right–you have to just grit your teeth and force yourself to not eat out. You might also think about when you tend to eat out (when you are in the middle of a giant project, near the end of the month, birthdays, etc) and budget eating out based on your expectations for the coming pay period. One of the YNAB tenets is that there’s no typical month, so some months it might make sense to spend $200 on takeout, and some months it might not make sense to spend more than $20.

      I think it’s also important to think about your food temperament–do you need variety? Crunch? Sweet? and cater to that when meal planning because you want to, not because you have to. When you have to, it’s easier (at least for me) to justify eating the same thing for five straight days. When you don’t, it gets a little trickier because there’s so much less guilt if you let the leftover pasta rot in the fridge and get a hamburger instead.

      Also…I wonder if there’s an emotional component to the takeout spending? You mentioned you’re working two jobs, at least one of which is fairly new, and planning meals with more constraints (the boyfriend, coordinating two schedules if he’s working a lot too). If that’s the case, it’s not surprising you’re opting for takeout more often! Your life *and* your eating habits have both increased in complexity, and that’s hard! If that’s the case (and it might be? It might not be?) I think it’s important to cut yourself some emotional slack while you tighten down on the budget. You aren’t eating out more because you’re a bad or wasteful person, but because things changed in your life and you unconsciously changed your spending habits to accommodate those changes. It might be helpful to treat your new budget as a stepping stone to getting where you want financially (emergency fund, vacation, bigger collection of books/more trips to the movies) rather than a punishment.

      With that in mind, when you shift money away from spending money to eat with friends, you may want to acknowledge that and ensure you build cheaper social time into your budget. Same thing with self-care (coffee after work, a sandwich at lunch). Are there ways, food-related or non-food-related, to make sure you are tending to your emotional well-being if you get rid of those? (Such as stopping by a library, calling a friend, or taking a walk between jobs, or buying yourself nice coffee and a french press or something to use at home). It’s probably a good idea to cut down on the food spending, but if there’s a reason driving it, it’s also important to acknowledge that and let it go or compensate in a different way.

      Also, how much of the meal planning and preparation falls to you and how much to your boyfriend in the relationship? It’s fairly typical (and not necessarily fair, depending on the division of other chores, errands, invisible obligations, emotional labor, and employment in the household) for that task to fall disproportionately to one partner in a relationship. I noticed you mentioned that he’s lukewarm about the things you want to cook, but not whether or not he suggests alternatives or modifications. If you are playing food guess-and-check with him before every meal, that’s not fair to you, and you may need to ask him to provide more input into meal planning and prep (and he could be a model boyfriend who is already suggesting these things, too!). If he’s not willing to broaden his horizons or help with the meal planning, perhaps he can chip in for a larger proportion of the weeknight takeout budget?

      You might also consider if is this the first time he’s had to cook for himself, or the first time either of you have cooked routinely with a partner? Is he also learning to adjust to eating on a schedule with another person? Those are also stressors that might be leading you to want to cook less. These all might be topics worth discussing as part of a larger budget discussion. (maybe over a low-stress takeout pizza :) )

      1. LizB*

        This is a brilliant comment — you’ve hit the nail on the head in a lot of ways. I’m definitely an emotional eater/spender, and I’ve had a lot of changes recently; I feel like I’m just now settling into a routine, even though I moved in with my boyfriend in July and started this job two month ago. As I build that routine, though, I want to make sure I’m building in habits that I want to keep, and that’ll have to include different kinds of self-care around food.

        I do 99% of the meal planning and prep — a situation I proposed, because in exchange my boyfriend does 99% of the dishes, which I despise with ever fiber of my being. Usually I’ll plan for the week, then run my ideas by him. He almost never vetos a meal, and he would never make negative comments about something I cooked, but I have a lot of weird feelings/guilt about cooking food that people don’t 100% love, and I know he doesn’t love a lot of the things I make. I want to cook lots of exciting things, with veggies and seafood and interesting spices and proteins other than meat… and he’s happiest on a steady diet of mac&cheese, corndogs, and quesadillas. I can’t eat like that 7 days a week and be happy about my life. The clash in our preferences is definitely a BIG stressor, and something that’s making it difficult for me to really enjoy cooking and want to devote time to it. It’s easier to say “eff it, we’ll get Popeye’s again” than worry about if he’s going to like these new rice bowls I desperately want to try. I’m not sure how to address it with him without making him feel attacked, though, because he has absolutely zero interest in broadening his horizons.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I had my husband help with the grocery list and shopping. I framed it as, “I have no idea what you have a taste for this week and it’s not fair that you have to eat the things I want all the time.” By then we were very aware that I would Never, Ever buy tomatoes for myself and so on. Show how it is to his advantage to participate.

        2. Aardvark*

          Aww, I think you and I are food/spending habit twins :) I’ve been on a YNAB kick and…have learned many things about my relationship to money lately. And six months/two months isn’t a lot of time! It takes a while to build a routine and that’s normal and okay.

          I think if he says he’s okay with something, you have to take him at his word that he’s okay if you cook varied things. It might be worth having a heart-to-heart about food even if it’s difficult–he sounds like a reasonable guy to talk to. He might not know how you feel, or he might be waiting for you to bring it up? (Of course, those conversations are much easier said than done…I’m putting off a relationship talk about a daily life preferences thing right now myself…) It sounds like some of the stress might be from not trying to guess what his expectations really are?

          On a more practical note, I know an omnivore whose partner is veggie. Sometimes they will do a basic meal with a meat add-in or have different proteins and the same sides instead of both eating vegetarian meals every time they’re both home for dinner. I wonder if a basic meal with an exciting option might be something to explore? Off the top of my head, you could do two quesadillas with a fun salsa/shrimp filling in yours, or fish stick tacos with a lime coleslaw for you and fish sticks for him, or pasta with pesto for you (and pesto sandwiches make great lunches) and with plain sauce for him. Or, you have a steak salad heavy on the lettuce with fancy peppers on top, and he has a steak salad heavy on the steak? My roommate and their partner do meals like that sometimes.

          1. LizB*

            Yeah, communication is something we need to work on, separately and together. He feels he’s terrible at putting his thoughts into words, I get stressed out at the slightest possibility of confrontation, it’s kind of a mess. I start therapy in two weeks, though, so maybe that’ll help?

            There are some meals where I can do the two-versions thing — I’ve done it with quesadillas, salads, and homemade pizza. The tension arises when the thing I want to make can’t easily be converted into something he likes — like a hash with sweet potatoes (which I LOVE and he HATES) where the sweet potatoes have to be cooked in with the dish, or anything involving any kind of beans. It might be good for me to find some more recipes that can I easily do in a his-and-hers version.

            When you say pesto sandwiches, do you mean with pasta in the sandwich, or just pesto sauce on a turkey sandwich or something? I’m intrigued!

        3. TootsNYC*

          “I do 99% of the meal planning and prep — a situation I proposed, because in exchange my boyfriend does 99% of the dishes, ”

          There is an inherit imbalance here. Meal planning takes WAY more energy than doing the dishes does. It’s incredibly proactive, and doing dishes is very reactive. This is not a fair balance.

          (There have been studies about the imbalance in chores in the home when divided on traditional male/female lines. The “distaff” side (food shopping, cooking, even a lot of cleaning) is something that is done repeatedly, every day. And it takes a lot of planning and creativity.
          But things like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or fixing things don’t get done as frequently, and some of them aren’t even as urgent, and they doesn’t take as much creativity.

          1. Andraste*

            That’s debatable, honestly, and I don’t want to talk them down from a system that works for them. I mentioned upthread that I LOVE cooking–meal planning is the least chore-like chore for me. I look forward to it–it isn’t forced.

            1. Andraste*

              Ehh sorry this cut off, the website froze up for me. Some of the ads giving slowdown.

              Anyway, what I was going to add additionally is that my SO and I split meal planning and cooking. We’ve lived together a year and a half and this works quite well. I usually take over the majority of cooking from about Thanksgiving through New Year because that’s when his schedule is crazy (he’s a retail manager), but otherwise the even split works well. He plans two meals, I plan two meals, and then we head to the grocery story. We each handle our own lunches. We keep eggs, cereal, fruit, etc. for breakfast. We tend to cook in batches big enough to make leftovers, and we eat out or get takeout every now and again, so we end up making a grocery trip every week and a half/two weeks, roughly. I get no say in what he cooks. He gets no say in what I cook. That way we both get an opportunity to make meals we like and want but the actual cooking duty is split fairly evenly. I’m sure if I didn’t want to eat his food or he didn’t want to eat mine we could opt out of a meal, but that hasn’t happened yet.

          2. LizB*

            I know it’s imbalanced, but if he did more of the cooking, he would make macaroni & cheese 9 meals out of 10, and the 10th meal would be quesadillas. That’s pretty much all he’s comfortable with. I do sometimes ask him to suggest dinners, and he’ll come help with the grocery shopping with no problem if I ask. But he doesn’t like cooking, isn’t very good at it, and isn’t very creative when it comes to food ideas. Plus, if he cooked, I feel like it would only be fair for me to do dishes that night, and it’s really kind of absurd how much I hate dishes (we don’t have a dishwasher, so everything has to be hand-washed).

            In addition to dishes, he also does most regular cleaning (vacuuming, picking up, 75% of taking out the trash) plus big-ticket stuff like scrubbing the bathtub. We do our own laundry, and alternate cleaning the cat’s litterbox. Even if I brought up the meal-planning imbalance, I’m not sure he would see how big the imbalance is, because if he were in charge of meals he would put waaaay less effort and creativity into them than I do. We have such different standards about food that I think it’s one of those “the person who cares more takes charge” things — he takes charge of cleaning, I take charge of cooking.

          3. Tris Prior*

            Hmmm, I think this really depends! I would much rather do all the meal planning in our house than wash one single dish.

        4. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Could you cook something he likes one night and make enough for him to eat it again a night or two later, and on that second night, you’d cook yourself something you like that he doesn’t want? So you’d still eat together, but he’d have the leftover mac and cheese (or whatever) and you’d have something more exciting?

          And/or have one night a week reserved for you each making your own thing?

          Really, though, he might just be grateful you’re cooking and be glad to eat whatever you make, even if it’s not his absolute favorite — you should talk to him and find out!

          1. Kate in Scotland*

            This is what I was going to suggest – I’m one of those people who will happily eat the same thing for days, and I’d much rather eat something I really like repeatedly than a variety of things that I’m meh about. So I’d suggest something like cooking 4 portions of boyfriend-friendly food on Sunday and Wednesday, and he can eat the extra 2 portions of each on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday which then become interesting cooking days for the cook! Then takeout on Saturday :)

          2. LizB*

            That’s an interesting idea! I’ll have to run it by him. He’s terrible about actually eating leftovers — even things he really likes, he’ll often forget about until they’re too old to eat. It doesn’t help that his work provides food for breakfast and lunch as a perk, so he never has to pack a lunch. Maybe I’ll ask what dishes he’d be most likely to eat as leftovers, and use those to cover nights I want to try something he doesn’t like.

    6. Dan*

      When I was married, I cooked in 6 nights a week. (Most of the time it was 3x with left overs.)

      As a single person, I can eat at Chik-Fil-A and chipotle for about what I’d spend at the grocery store. I’m a bit of a foodie, so my home-cooked meals are a bit more sophisticated than rice and beans. I mean, where I live, Rib Eye costs $12/lb. Granted, I’ll get two meals out of it, but the steak alone for one meal is going to run me $6. Everything else I’ll buy just as much as I would have if I were cooking for two. Cooking for one is so damned inefficient.

      So IMHO, *some* eating out is appropriate. Determine how much and when (like takeout Tuesdays.) Long term… keep an eye on the compatibility between you two on this one. It’s ok to go out every night and blow loads of money eating out if 1) You budget for it and 2) You’ve agreed that this is a priority at the expense of other things that you will do less of (which means you budgeted for it). If you can’t get on the same page, you have bigger issues than what to eat every day, and should resolve them before you take the relationship to the next step. That is, if BF *says* we will do less of X & Y so we can continue to go out regularly, but then he continues to spend the same amount on X & Y as he/you used to, then you have some choices to make.

    7. skyline*

      I vote for planning breakfast, lunches, and snacks. I batch cook on Sunday for the week–oatmeal for breakfasts, soup for lunches, etc. It’s so nice to know that I don’t have to figure out all my meals during my busy work week since I’ve already done the work!

      For me, good food is one of life’s great pleasures, so I’m not super strict on my dining out budget. But I do try to make sure it’s worth it. Mediocre takeout and random Starbucks runs generally aren’t worth it to me–I’d rather save those dollars and calories for meals with friends or food from really unique/great restaurants.

      1. LizB*

        Mediocre takeout and random Starbucks runs generally aren’t worth it to me–I’d rather save those dollars and calories for meals with friends or food from really unique/great restaurants. Ooh, I like this — reframing my thinking from “I can never eat out” to “If I pack my lunch instead of getting Jimmy John’s, I’ll have enough money for dinner at [cool new Thai restaurant] on Saturday.” That could be a great motivator for me.

    8. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Setting a budget, and then withdrawing cash and only using cash to eat out has worked for us. Once the monthly cash is gone there is no more eating out. : )

    9. Tomato Frog*

      Everyone else gave good advice, I just want to sympathize. I have the same problem for reason #2 plus the relatively recent realization that I don’t actually like cooking (always thought I did, then I started working full time and now I just want people to HAND ME FOOD) and also I really, strangely, hate meal planning. Tried to have my boyfriend do the bulk of both with moderate success — he cooks happily, but he couldn’t care less about whether we have a vegetable side dish or a nice mix of textures or interesting flavors (he is Hot Sauce Guy), so I end up back in meal-planning square if I want to eat food I’m excited about. I wish I could just pay someone a small fee and tell them the sorts of foods I feel like eating this week (like: “I’m feeling Vietnamese-y! Italian would be okay, too”), and they would supply a grocery list and recipes and a schedule and I could hand it all to my boyfriend and he would take care of the rest. And then life would be perfect.

      But, yeah, if you don’t hate meal planning, plan ALL the meals.

    10. Blue_eyes*

      Planned splurges. As in, give yourself a number of times you can eat out for the week or month. You can still get tasty takeout sometimes, so you hopefully won’t feel deprived, but you’ll also feel good having limits on it. In my first year working after college I would bring a frozen meal for lunch once a week (because they were easy and I didn’t have to plan for it) and also let myself order lunch OR get breakfast/coffee at Starbucks once a week. If it was a particularly rough week, I would get Starbucks AND order lunch. For me, that schedule was enough to feel like I was treating myself without eating too much junk or spending too much money eating out. Obviously your individual circumstances will dictate what frequency and kind of treats make sense for you.

      1. Tepid Tea Water*

        Ooh, I know what you mean, I started making more money and my budget for food increased more than it should have.

        What has been helping for me is a few small tricks. I swore I would add one more serving of vegetables to my diet each day – it turns out that going out to eat makes it hard to find a full serving of vegetables. And when I hang out with friends or family I just cut up a bell pepper at the end of the day.

        I cut back on store bought caffeine. A bunch of extra money was being spent because I take transit and the choices are either arrive 40 minutes early for work or 5 to 10 minutes late. So the coffee shop had become my friend and the sweets, fruits, yogurt, doughnuts, etc. Instead I have worked to make tea time at work enjoyable. Taking the time to boil the water, warm up your cup, steep the tea. By the time I had finished off my ritual I was ready to start my day.

        The thing about being an emotional eater is that creating new habits becomes so much easier if I am adding positive emotions to it. This week was working out a way to cook eggs I hadn’t tried before, so I scrambled them, added as many vegetables as I could get away with a baked it. Something simple but new. Then I cut the 9×13 pan into breakfast sized chunks and tossed it into the corner of my fridge.

        As far as The Picky Eater goes, I wish I could help you more. In my household it seems to balance out to half the time we could safe meals that will fill our stomachs. The other half I’m telling The Picky Eater to enjoy his sandwich since I want to play with my spices.

    11. AdAgencyChick*

      To all this, I would add: Buy some cookbooks with easy-to-make recipes and lots of photographs. (Or start reading recipe blogs that show step-by-step photos.) This can help with the gritting-your-teeth aspect — if you’re looking at a photo that makes your mouth water, you’ll be more motivated to cook that meal.

    12. Sibley*

      Personally, I prefer to not spend money on things that don’t matter to me, or don’t advance my goals. This doesn’t mean I live in a box, but I try to optimize my expenses to reduce costs so I have more money available for the things I do care about.

      I don’t like to eat out much, so I don’t. I like to read, so I get books from the library mostly. I’m learning to sew, so I use coupons to save money (optimizing expenses!). I want to buy a house, so extra money is getting put into savings for a down payment. It’s a matter of what YOU want, and finding a way to make it happen.

      Suggested reading: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com if you’re interested. Warning – he swears some.

  13. CPE training experiences?*

    I’m getting a fair amount of encouragement to get clinical pastoral education training, for atypical use (eg, not interested in pastorate, chaplaincy, or an MDiv). It’s not something I’d ever considered. https://www.acpe.edu/

    Have any of you taken it, and if so might you talk about what stood out for you? It sounds exhausting, especially if taking it as a summer intensive, emotionally and spiritually. What were you glad to have drawn out in yourself, what was particularly challenging, what would you want someone exploring this to know or to think about, and do you use this in a professional capacity?

    I’m often approached by individuals in my personal, professional, and religious life for particular types of personal support that might be better informed by this kind of training. I do plan to talk with the people running the CPE program at the local hospital about it, but thought I’d see if anyone here had explored this or taken the training too.

    Many thanks,
    Belle diVedremo

  14. Doriana Gray*

    So two weeks ago, I posted in the weekend open thread asking for recommendations for places I could buy petite pants for work. I researched all of the suggestions, and decided to try Ann Taylor Loft because the pants looked conservative enough, and plain enough, that people wouldn’t notice if I was wearing the same ones multiple times a week. I bought two pairs of pants and a pair of leggings online and wound up sending the pants back. I hated the way they looked in person! I bought the right size, but they just didn’t hang right. Why oh why don’t companies sell pants exclusively for my body type?! The struggle is real in these streets for short, bony people. I’m trying Express next, but if I don’t like those pants either, it’s back to leggings and tights under tunics and sweater dresses all winter. *sigh*

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      My best friend has a lot of luck with Banana Republic Petite. She’s very slim but has ample hips/butt and they seem to work for her rather extreme waist to hip ratio. If that’s your shape, give them a try. A bit more pricey, of course, but they sell a ton of basics that’ll last a while.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        Sadly, that’s not my body type at all, and I think Loft’s pants are built for that shape. I have a narrow waist, tiny booty, and really slim legs. Pants are either too big or too tight in the rear for me. Even the leggings I bought from Loft are a tad too big in the hips, but I wear long enough shirts that people won’t notice.

        1. fposte*

          Loft does the different-cuts thing–which cuts did you try? Might be worth trying the other one or two.

            1. fposte*

              It sounds like the Zoe is the one that would be likeliest for you, so if you tried that one, I think you’re probably right to move on.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                They didn’t have Zoe’s in the petite size 4 online when I was ordering, just Marissa’s and Julie’s.

                1. fposte*

                  Wow, it looks like they don’t do Zoe in the petites at all. I would think that that shape would be pretty much the petite go-to.

          1. skyline*

            I’d second this. As a petite curvy person, I’ve generally found J. Crew pants to be cut for straighter body types. You can look at J. Crew Factory for more inexpensive options, too.

            1. Doriana Gray*

              I’ll try and see if there’s a J Crew Factory near me. I may have to bite the bullet and actually go try the pants on in-store so as not to waste anymore money on shipping.

        2. TootsNYC*

          it sounds like you almost have a male shape!

          Have you tried on men’s jeans, or something, to tell you if the shape would work?

          You could get basic trousers (though the zipper would open on the opposite side).

          1. Doriana Gray*

            I actually don’t have a male shape though – I’m just very lean. Like I said in the other thread, I’m 5’2 1/2″, 121 lbs, with a 34″ bust, 27″ waist, and 34″ hips. My legs are skinny though, and that’s the source of my pants angst. I always feel like they billow out too much or they scrunch up at odd places (usually around the knee area). I’ve worn men’s clothes before and trust me – they look worse, lol.

            1. blackcat*

              I am a similar size/shape to you. I just got used to dress slacks billowing a bit (I wouldn’t tolerate scrunching). There’s always a lot of fabric around my knees/lower legs. I just call it a style and roll with it. *Other people* think my pants look just fine. I buy styles that are not supposed to be tapered, because tapering causes the weird “your pants are too big” look. The straight cut billows a bit on most people and just more on me.

              I do have a lot of Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor loft pants, but they’re all 4+ years old (I entered grad school and no longer wear dress slacks every day, so they get next to no wear and tear).

              1. Doriana Gray*

                Yes! That’s exactly what happens to me – the pants fit fine in the thing area, but there was too much extra fabric for my taste around my lower legs (and the waist was a little too big, but if I had gone down to a size 2, they wouldn’t have fit over my hips/butt).

                So the billowing effect will never go away? *sigh* Well, at least I now know it’s not just me. Still, I like crisp, clean lines, and the billowing/scrunching thing ruins it.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Maybe you could find a style of pants that you like except for the lower-leg billowing and have a tailor fit the lower legs for you.

                2. Doriana Gray*

                  @Mallory Janis Ian I’m starting up think that’s exactly what I’m going to have to do. I was trying to avoid tailoring (if I’m going to pay $80+ for some pants, they better fit right the first time), but that may not be an option to get the look I’m going for.

                3. TootsNYC*

                  You could probably have that billowing minimized. You don’t have to go all the way to tapering, but if you’ve got extra fabric, you can easily have the pants shaped the way you’d like.

                  Too much fabric in the leg area is easy-peasy to fix!

            2. AnotherTeacher*

              A few thoughts…

              Could you buy the Loft Zoe in your size – or a size down, I find, is sometimes needed – and have the length altered? I know petite isn’t only a height sizing issue, but it might be worth a try. I wear regular Loft sizes in pants but have tried the petite when the fits are odd. I’ve also altered Loft pants in length and/or ankle fit (for slim fits).

              I second the suggestion of Express. Some of their fits accommodate my straight, athletic figure. Generally, it’s easier to find pants and skirts in these “younger” brands that suit my body type and budget.

              Have you tried H&M? I can’t speak to their pants but have a few of their suit jackets for work. The quality between them and my jackets from J. Crew and Banana Republic is only slight, and the cost is much less. Maybe their work pants are the same, and the money you save on cost can go to alterations.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                If I can’t find any pants I like at Nordstrom or Express, then I might go back to Loft and buy the Zoe and just see if the tailor by me can take the pants in and shorten the legs because I did like the fabric of their pants (not too thin, very well made).

                H&M was a no go the last time I went in the store. All of their pants for some odd reason were high-waters and were shiny. I looked like Michael Jackson in the Billie Jean video.

      2. KateS*

        I agree; I would try the Banana Republic Sloan fit if I were you(although they tend to be ankle pants or slim, straight pants, not classic trouser style). They run really narrow and straight through the hips and waist in my experience. I always see the cute patterns and colors they have and try them out but they never work for me because of the general fit.

    2. BRR*

      I’m don’t know about the woman’s section but what about Zara? I know the men’s section seems to be made for men who are 100% petite.

    3. Allison Mary*

      Do you have the ability to go visit a Nordstrom (the full line store, not the Rack) in person? If so, you might consider making an appointment with one of their Personal Stylists. I understand shopping in person can be overwhelming and frustrating, and sometimes it’s nice to have someone who will put you in a dressing room, and bring you all sorts of different things to try, until you hit the magical combination.

      This was what I did when I was struggling to find a good quality suit for interviews during recruiting season in college (for the accounting field). I know that I really need to be able to try things on in person before I buy them, but shopping in tons of big stores with huge selections on my own, got pretty overwhelming. Having someone just take care of it all for me (for no extra fee) was pretty great.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        That’s a great suggestion. I typically avoid buying anything but tops, dresses, shoes, and purses in store because pants shopping always winds up frustrating the hell out of me (oddly enough, jeans are not a problem – American Eagle size 4 short skinny or boot cut jeans are my everything). I’ll try this before Express and will report back.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I have a male friend who is very slight, and he went for a consultation w/ a shopper at Macy’s. It didn’t cost him any extra, but the guy discussed all the fit problems, and zeroed in on brands, etc., that really worked fo rhim.

    4. Applesauced*

      I used to love Loft, but in the past year of two they’ve moved from young work wear to ill fitting “oversized chic.”

    5. Maya Elena*

      I have this problem always! Most places even if I get petite pants, i still need them cut short!
      As others have said, the cut really matters too – I can only get Curvy cut pants at Ann Taylor loft, for example and, they *sometimes* fit. and their sizing changes every few years… So explore the sale racks!
      I’ve also had luck with Macy’s charter club jeans and courduroys (which are ok if you work in a business casual environment, like me) but I hear Macy’s is discontinuing petites, which is depressing and unfortunate.

      1. Doriana Gray*

        I work in a business casual environment that’s also pretty conservative (though I sometimes like to push the bounds of that conservatism), but I also love to dress more business formal since work is the only place I go where I can get away with “dressing up.” Macy’s used to be a good place for me to shop (before I became a ModCloth convert), but I’ve noticed a slight decline in the quality of their dress pants. I wish I had stocked up on these great pair of INC pants I bought from them two years ago – they didn’t need to be altered in any way, and they were both chic and comfy. Alas, they no longer sell them.

        1. Alston*

          You might check eBay for those INC pants. Lee stopped making my favorite pair of pants in plus, and I’ve had luck finding them new (with tags on even) there. You can set an alert to keep an eye out for them.

    6. BSharp*

      Reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/43ht2i/ponte_pant_smackdown_which_brand_is_best/ may be more help. I’m short but not at all bony (thunder thighs!), and Express Editor was perfect for me, so you may want to skip that cut.

    7. Sunflower*

      Have you tried the Limited? My sister is built similar to you and has luck there. She also has a lot of luck at J.Crew

  15. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

    I have to share the thing I’ve been must excited about the past few months–I started a cookbook dinner club! Basic concept is we pick a cookbook each month, each pick a recipe, make it and bring it potluck style to the next meeting (we’re rotating hosting duties).

    So far we’ve done Around My French Table (Dorie Greenspan), The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook (Deb Perelman), and next up is Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Marcella Hazan). There are about 20 people in the group so far (I only knew about 10 of them when we started). It’s been a great way to meet new people, actually use the tons of cookbooks I have, try new recipes, and have a dinner party without the major expense/time of cooking everything myself. It’s been such fun and such great food!

    1. LizB*

      That sounds like so much fun! Are the participants all people who you were friends with already? If not, how did you find them/get them to join?

      1. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

        I first saw the idea on a post on Serious Eats, and commented that if anyone on Chicago was interested starting one to email me. I got about 5 people from that at the beginning (and have had a few more email me since), a handful of people I know through food blogging, plus a few of my friends I know like to cook. Since we started, a few people have invited their friends (or, in one case, a sister visiting from France) too.

        It’s worked out great because there’s a core of regulars (half of whom I knew, but considered more acquaintances than friends) with a few new people at each. One of the reasons I started this was to make new friends who are into food and that’s definitely happened!

    2. Blue_eyes*

      That sounds so fun! I have a logistical question – does everyone have to buy each cookbook? Or do people who already have copies swap them around throughout the month?

      1. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

        Nope, some people get the book from the library, some share/borrow the book, or just copy our the recipe they want to make. One of the other reasons I started this was so we could try a bunch of recipes from a book to see if it’s actually worth buying (a few people went and bought both of the cookbooks we’ve done).

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        If you can get away with something so “simple” I highly recommend the leek pasta from “Essentials of Italian Cooking”.
        Pure comfort food, especially if you can get good Parmesan (or Pecorino/Grana Padano).

    1. Audiophile*

      I’ve had a few Fitbits now, the Flex and the Charge HR. I much prefer the Charge HR to the Flex. My Flex band broke several times, I had it replaced once and the replacement broke quicker than the original, so at that point the HR had been released.

      A friend of mine has the Garmin, but I forget which one. I believe the Vivoactive.

      I’m looking at Fitbits newest release, the Blaze. I like that the screen is bigger and in color, it looks more like a typical watch and it offers more features than the Charge HR.

      If you just want a basic pedometer, you might like Fitbit’s One.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I have the Fitbit One. I clip it to my pocket or waistband and forget about it. I like that it’s out of the way. I find it to be pretty accurate except on super windy days when it then tells me I’ve climbed way more flights of stairs than I have. My friend has the Zip which is a bit cheaper (doesn’t have the sleep mode or the stair climber) and she loves hers as well.

  16. Wendy Darling*

    All my flatware is from Target. My current point of pride is that I have enough to have dinner guests and have it all match.

    However, I am currently obsessed with getting matching grownup flatware. The kind that comes in place settings, not in a set of six spoons ziptied to a piece of cardboard. The kind that doesn’t get weird tarnished stained spots in the dishwasher after two years because it’s 18/0 steel and kind of rubbish.

    To replace what I have now with anything better enough to be worth the trouble would cost me hundreds of dollars, and I’m unemployed! I don’t need to spend $300 on new spoons and forks!

    My dinnerware is actually very nice, though slightly dated and not really a match for the style of my place — when my parents moved, they gave me the dinnerware they got when they got married.

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      I got Waterford flatwear, enough for 16 place settings, for less than $150 at Costco (two boxes with 8 settings each, place servewear.) I got so many since my entire family lives out of town and I host Christmas, so I wanted enough not just for the main holiday dinner, but because they’ll be using it for all meals and 8 settings wouldn’t last a full day. It’s stainless, not silver, but quality and looks nice with my China as well as my regular dishes. Costco starts stocking the large flatware sets before Thanksgiving and it’s usually sold out by around Christmas.

      1. KD*

        I love my Costco flatware! I got it about 3 years ago and it has held up beautifully. I think I spent about $100 on 8 place settings with 8 extra teaspoons that came with the set. And as an unemployed full time college student I was definitely broke at the time.

        I actually bought nice flatware before I bought nice dishes because I got tired of accidentally bending forks when I was washing them. So I had about a year of feeling a little silly with my nice flatware and my $1 plastic plates but it’s been worth it for me.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I bought Oneida 30 years ago. It’s held up somewhat. I have never put it in a dishwasher though. The one thing I should have done though was to by one more set than I wanted. I bought service for 8. Of course, I lost a knife. Now I have service for 7.75. If I had bought one more set (I think it would have been service for four) that would have given me the wiggle room to lose a piece or two. If you are going to commit to a set for a while, you might want to consider buying a little more than what you want.
      I went to an outlet store to get my set. Now I think I would just shop online to get a good price. I ended up with my parents’ silverware so technically I can serve about 30… but I need about 22 more chairs.

    3. Jen*

      I am not going to help your cause as I personally covet a silver set that will set me back no less than 10k. And it comes in a chest.

      My backup plan is to scour estate sales. U til then I have hand me down Sears flatware from the 70s from my parents and in laws and nope, it doesn’t match. My husband and I earn a lot of money and we are just preferring by to care about this particular thing quite yet despite being mid 30s.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Maybe you should put out a request on Freecycle. Or Craigslist. or eBay (look up the listing for: Oneida Flight Reliance 40 Piece Flatware Silverware Stainless Steel Set ).

      It might not be your first choice of pattern, but it might be better than what you’ve got. Enough to tide you over until you get employed. And hey–maybe you’d find something just about as dated as your dinnerware, and it would feel cohesive.

      And then you can replace w/ what you want later, when update your dinnerware (in fact, it might be financially smarter to NOT get your dream flatware set UNTIL you get your personal choice of dinnerware).

      Also–consider registering (Michael C. Fina and Nat Schwartz have good prices), and telling everyone in your family that THIS is what you want for every gift-giving occasion. When a cousin got married, he & his bride registered for flatware (plus other stuff), but they didn’t get all the place settings. So every Christmas, I bought her another one. My MIL got excited after I did it the first year, so she did it too. And then, once she had the full set, I bought her iced tea spoons.
      You’d just need to pick a pattern that is going to be around for several years. You can call the manufacturer.

      I bought decent-but-not-top-of-the-line flatware at Macy’s in a boxed set.

    5. Sherry*

      Check estate sales and antique stores. Quality is generally better than thrift stores, but you can get great old stuff for CHEAP. Often old is better than new — they don’t make them like they used to!

    6. CAA*

      Try consignment stores — not the kind for designer clothes, but the ones that take furniture and household goods.

    7. Clever Name*

      Get married and register for nice stuff? I’m totally joking, but that’s how we got our Gorham flatware. Still looks nice 15 years later.

      1. Wendy Darling*

        I was actually joking to my mom that I almost wanted to get married so I could get flatware and dishes.

        That’s how my parents got THEIR Gorham flatware in the late 70s. They had to add several place settings about 15 years ago to accommodate a holiday gathering with unusually high attendance and you actually can’t tell the difference between the stuff that’s 15 years old and the stuff that’s 35 years old.

      2. BSharp*

        It’s terrible because it’s no longer quite the optimal lifestage for showering someone with quality stuff (first solo apartment might be? I could not yet be trusted in college) but I adore all the lovely things we were given. Vintage linens and vases, Royal Doulton everyday china, and yes flatware. We thought we were going for Gorham but chose unknown-BBB-brand Placid instead, because it was so nice to hold.

    8. NacSacJack*

      One Word. IKEA. I have flatware from them and I love it. I agree, buy one more set of four than you think you need.

  17. Meg Murry*

    Any recommendations for book club books? No specific guidelines except I don’t want pure “good literature” that is going to bore me to death – I never did well with classics.

    The group is all women, if it makes a difference.

    Any criteria that anyone has used to determine what might make something good for a book club, other than the general “this looks like something I want to read and looks like it will appeal to many different people”?

    I’m going to go back through Alison’s recommendations and see if any look promising for a book club, but feel free to re-recommend them.

    1. katamia*

      One of Jen Lancaster’s memoirs, maybe, or her fiction book “The Best of Enemies.” She’s very sarcastic and snarky, though, so if that’s not your thing, then avoid her.

      Any specific genres that you know most of the club likes or doesn’t like?

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’ve never been in a book club but some of the ones I’ve seen around do a mixture of modern classics and award winners e.g. something like Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life or something that won the orange/costa/other award.

    3. AnotherFed*

      The only book club I managed to stick with for long was one that focused exclusively on fantasy books, and explored a lot of the sub-genres of that. Can you pick a genre and do something similar for a while with your book club? Maybe let people vote or generally agree on what genres are interesting, that way you don’t get the person who loves historical romances stuck reading very bleak post-modern sci-fi.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I think that’s a really good suggestion. There are definitely genres I like and dislike, and I’d like to know what I was getting into beforehand. Plus picking a book each time will be easier if you have a theme.

    4. Algae*

      Rhys Bowen writes “Her Royal Spyness” about a woman (33rd in line to the throne of England) that stumbles into solving mysteries. I requested the book from the library and accidentally got the “book club pack”, which meant I got 30 copies of it.

      But, I find mysteries are good – Royal Spyness is fun because it focuses on being upper class but poor in England during the 1930s, so there’s some neat points to talk about there.

      Everyone I know that has read “The Girl on the Train” has ended up talking about it with me – that book brings out FEELINGS.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I liked that way more than I thought I would when I started.
        I ended up WAY more sympathetic to the main character, well before the end.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      Look into the author Jhumpa Lahiri. Particularly her short story collection Interpreter of Maladies.

    6. Christina @ My Homespun Home*

      I’ve been in a book club going on 5 years and what’s worked for us is to pick a theme and stick to that for a few books until a book inspires its to try something new, or there’s a book we all just really want to read. We started with crime fiction/noir (Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Father Brown), did a “place” theme for awhile (East of Eden, Claire de Witt and the City of the Dead, some Barbara Kingsolver), true crime (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, In Cold Blood), scifi (Martian Chronicles, The October Country, The Left Hand of Darkness, War of the Worlds, Journey to the Center of the Earth), and the last 2 books were about journeys (Warmth of Other Suns, Grapes of Wrath). We’ve also done current fiction (Gone Girl, Cloud Atlas, Carter Beats the Devil, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay). Sometimes we also do a movie night if there was a movie version (the book Who Framed Roger Rabbit? was the oddest one ever). Next up is Murder on the Orient Express!

      I guess that’s a long way to say maybe try starting with a theme just so it’s not lot of “well what do you want to do?” “I dunno, what do you want to do?” At each meeting, we decide as a group on the next book. We also have a running list to inspire us.

      If you want to take a look at what we’ve done, I have a pintrest board here

    7. peanut butter kisses*

      I have been in several. Some things that have worked out well are-

      Don’t get a new book that has just come out and is only available in hardback. Wait until it has had time to work its way to used bookstores, libraries, and in paperback. You don’t want to have cost keep people away.

      Keep an eye on the length of the book. I got my club to pick And The Ladies Of The Club and while I loved it, people with a lot going on in their lives were not happy with it’s page length of 1,400 pages to be read in one month.

      Don’t read one theme too much. We once had nine months of women overcoming terrible circumstances and inspiring others. Gah! I just wanted a light and funny book so bad at the six month mark that I just skipped the remaining meetings until we got one where the main character was not a rape victim, cancer stricken, or getting through a vicious divorce.

      If you have one person dominating the discussion and not letting other people participate, you need to nip that in the bud. We had a club for over 20 years that was poisoned by a woman who would come and just want to talk about herself and would freely admit to not even reading that months book. Two hours of listening to her talk about herself and having her get upset if you interrupted or said a word about the book was awful.

      During busy months, like during the holidays, consider picking two or three short stories by one author or with the same theme. You don’t always have to read a traditional book.

      If you all are in with this idea, look up what books are being made into movies, see if you can read the book before the movie comes out and then see the movie together. The you can discuss the movie versus the book.

      We voted on ratings for our books. We had a scale of one to five with five being the best. Sometimes giving the rating was the best part of the meeting.

      Keep a list of what you have read and your next books online so everyone can have was access. I found that facebook groups worked for one of my groups. The other one preferred e-mails and my gosh those e-mail chains got long and people wouldn’t always respond to the latest e-mail.

      Best wishes for your club!

    8. Cruciatus*

      My local library has book club kits. It may at least be a place to get started as you sort out what you want to do more specifically. You get a bag of the same book for a bit longer than normal book check outs. There are also questions included to guide discussions. There are lots of different titles. Older, newer, classics, regular fiction. Might be worth checking to see if something like that is available.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      Is non-fiction okay? If so, I’d recommend The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler, or Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film by Carol J. Clover.

      For fiction, I’d recommend When We Wake by Karen Healey, or The Slave by Isaac Bashevis Singer.

    10. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)*

      The American Painter Emma Dial
      Where’d You Go, Bernadette?
      Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willet

  18. Mimmy*

    So as I mentioned in the Best & Worst thread, I am on the LAST class in my graduate certificate program! I’m feeling bittersweet – I love this program in general, but the instructors have been less-than-awesome. Though, to be fair, I think a lot of it might be due to the course management system – we use Blackboard, and I don’t think it’s user-friendly. The program only began offering online courses maybe 2 years ago, and I have a hunch that some of the instructors–most of whom have many years of experience in the field–just aren’t grasping the technology.

    For example – when I started the class yesterday, it appeared that the professor never cleared all the discussion boards from the fall because they were all still there–fall dates and all! Also, the Announcements section have a bunch of old announcements, one written 3 years ago!

    Oh, and get this – on Thursday, he posted two announcements that were written as if we were well into the semester! One was a warning to students who were not doing so well and to withdraw before a certain date to receive a “W”; otherwise, they’ll finish with Ds and Fs. No it wasn’t a generic note – he referenced having emailed some students with this warning. I am not going to be the brave soul who asks about this in the “ask the professor” section, LOL!!

    I was considering applying for a separate masters in the same department, but it’ll all online, and I just don’t think they know what they’re doing. Besides, I am really beginning to crave in-person classes. No they’re not really convenient because I can’t drive, but I don’t like feeling this disconnected.

    1. periwinkle*

      The online experience depends on so many factors that it’s not easy to predict how much you’ll like or dislike a program. I think the toughest bit is the lack of immediate and direct interaction with faculty and fellow students; the knowledge exchange from those interactions is something you cannot replicate, in my opinion.

      My MS was online and the classrooms were set up in, of all things, Lotus Notes! They’ve since moved to Blackboard. The program had been delivering instruction online since the late 1980s and was transitioning from being offered both on-campus & online to being online-only. The (full time, tenured or tenure-track) faculty were comfortable teaching virtually, and they had a full-time staffer just to support the technology for students and faculty. Despite all that support, the real takeaways from that program came from talking regularly with a few other students – some of us set up an IM group chat while working on a project together in the first semester and kept it going until we all graduated.

      I’m doing a doctorate online – not in the least bit ideal, but I can keep working full-time and the company is paying for it. Class discussions are really awkward because the quality of students is so varied, and of course it’s difficult to build any rapport with them or the instructors.

      If I pursue another master’s (and I’m considering one in data analytics), it has to be classroom-based.

    2. Miles*

      I feel your pain with blackboard. At the school I just graduated from, it’s a little bit reversed… the instructors who understand how to work with technology hate blackboard and how much work it is to get anything done, while the ones who don’t are afraid to learn to use another system. Meanwhile the school is putting pressure on all of the faculty & requiring them to use it in ways that lets their classes be micromanaged.

      There is much better software out there, but the use is unfortunately governed by contracts and policies, which are exclusively written by people who will never have to use it.

    3. AnotherTeacher*

      That sounds like a mixture of LMS, IT, and instructor issues. The school should be archiving courses, so each new semester/term has a new classroom, without discussions from previous semesters/terms. I’ve used Blackboard and never encountered with issues you’ve noted with old content. But, we had very good IT support. I’ve used other LMSes with less IT support, too, and had to pay more attention to double-checking content.

      There are online programs that foster more engagement than it sounds like you’re getting; however, distance education is still not the same as being on campus and interacting in person, no matter how good the LMS and instructor.

      1. Mimmy*

        I just spot-checked and I think the instructor just left up the entire course “shell” (that’s what a classmate calls it). Normally, the semester starts off with just the first week’s Discussion Board plus a forum to ask questions about the class and a forum to post links and resources. Then each week, the instructor puts up a new Discussion Board (but leaves all the previous weeks up too). This time, this instructor just left up all the boards from the fall but without those old discussions and without changing the dates to reflect the spring semester. Two students already inquired about the dates listed, so hopefully he’ll clean it up. I might pipe up about the old Announcements too :)

        Oh I’ve seen plenty of engagement in my classes – I think it just depends on the particular group; some just gel better than others. But all of it is through written discussions. In the one class I felt really connected with, the instructor held optional online video chats every so often. I *loved* those.

  19. katamia*

    I’m hunting for more horror/true crime/creepy stuff. Does anyone have any suggestions for books, movies, TV shows, subreddits, computer games, etc. (anything but podcasts–I’ve never been able to get into podcasts)? I like Joe Hill but not Stephen King, I love Ghost Adventures (honestly don’t care if it’s faked; it’s entertaining either way) but find Ghost Hunters too dull, and I normally can’t handle it when dogs die in a book/movie/TV show. My interest in true crime is pretty new, so if you’re thinking of recommending something but going “Oh, she’s probably read that already,” well, no, I probably haven’t.

    1. Graciosa*

      Dean Koontz?

      Not really my genre, but I read a couple of his while visiting a friend when I was desperate for reading material.

      Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood.

      That probably exhausts my knowledge in this area – sorry.

    2. LisaLee*

      Reddit’s Unsolved Mysteries and Unresolved Mysteries are both interesting (you should look up the case of Lori Erica Ruff if you don’t already know of that). I also really enjoy the books that they sell in national parks and such about “Smoky Mountain Disappearances” or whatever. You can order those online probably.

      1. katamia*

        Those look really interesting, thanks. The Lori Erica Ruff thing looks bizarre. Definitely sounds like something I want to read more about.

    3. MsChandandlerBong*

      John Douglas, the FBI’s first full-time profiler, has several books about real-life cases. The one I liked best was “The Cases That Haunt Us.” It covers the Lizzie Borden murders, Jon Benet, Jack the Ripper, and other famous cases. He gives the background info, and then he gives an opinion on who might have committed the crime.

    4. asteramella*

      Have you ever played Yume Nikki? It’s a free game, a few years old now, gently creepy (a little bit of gore but mostly just unsettling imagery).

      1. katamia*

        I haven’t, but it looks really interesting. I’ll definitely download it when I have a bit more time (I work on the weekends, blargh).

    5. bassclefchick*

      For True Crime…the queen of the genre (in my opinion) is Ann Rule! She was very prolific and most of her books include several cases. She actually worked with Ted Bundy. The Stranger Beside Me was absolutely fascinating. She also wrote about the Green River Killer.

    6. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      Dead Before Dying by Kerry Schafer is a really scary paranormal horror/mystery, terrifying but with no gore. I got an early copy but it comes out next week.

      If you have a PS4 Until Dawn is a very creepy, scary game. I screamed so many times while playing it.

      1. katamia*


        No PS4 right now, but I’ll keep Under Dark in mind in case I ever get one or if it ever gets a PC version.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger*

      My wife is very into true crime shows, and she’s trying to get me into Killing Fields on Discovery. I’ve only watched part of the first episodes, and it’s quite cheesy at first, but according to her it goes easier on the “dramatic narrative” and focuses more on the investigation in subsequent episodes.

      As far as fiction goes, Hannibal is an incredible series about criminal psychopathology. Although everyone I know who watches it felt it got a bit too artsy in the second season, it was still very worth watching.

    8. Applesauced*

      The Memory Palace podcast – not all are true crime, but all are beautifully told history stories you probably don’t already know.

  20. Henrietta Gondorf*

    I’m plotting a two-week trip to Australia in October. I’ve got some flexibility in my schedule and but I’m overwhelmed by all my options. Suggestions?

    (I’ll be coming from Japan.)

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I was about to say two weeks is not nearly enough .. but if you are flying from Japan the plane ticket is a lot cheaper. I did the opposite trek a few years ago – Aussie to Japan. I went during winter to get a break from the Australian heat. You will be getting to Oz in their spring.

      What are you into? City trekking? Snorkeling? City life? Australia has it all. October could be a great season to hit the great barrier reef. It will not be nearly as crowded as the Australian Summers, yet Queensland is typically quite hot during that time of year.

      1. Dan*

        Two weeks isn’t enough for the whole country (a month wasn’t for me) but two weeks is long enough to see *something*.

        Coming from the US, the time zone changes and jet lag eat into things for a few days, but when one doesn’t have those issues, two weeks is enough to not just be wasted time.

      2. Henrietta Gondorf*

        Snorkeling, beaches, and hiking are all good. We like exploring cities but have no real interest in nightlife.

        I’m hoping to get my scuba certification this spring so possibly diving if I can.

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Port Douglas is gorgeous and you don’t need to scuba dive to get a lot from their reef tours. I was scuba certified and chose to snorkel anyway because the view is so great in the shallows. The hostel’s there are nice too if you are of that age and don’t mind sharing space with strangers.

          Cairns is south of PD and has things like museums and other more touristy events.

          Mission beach is south of Cairns and is gorgeous with blue beaches, nice restaurant and tropical jungle hiking. However I have not seen Mission Beach since cyclone (e.g. hurricane) Yasi. I heard that it tore MB up.

          If hiking/snorkeling is your thing. I recommend you spend your two weeks only hitting up Northern Queensland (QLD). You can land in Cairns, rent a car, and drive to PD and MB and easily use your two weeks. But don’t take my word for it, check out some travel blogs to see what you might like best.

          Other nuggets of wisdom (I lived in Townsville, Queensland for a year):
          Sydney is a waste of money if you do not like the night life. The zoo there is awesome, but everything else is super expensive. I preferred the capital, Canberra, to Sydney but I am not into drinking/clubs and there was not much else to do. I also went during the winter though. Maybe the spring has more to offer. It’s very expensive though!

          Canberra is weird – but I really liked it. Food there is more affordable then anywhere in QLD and if you like history and museums there is a lot of free entertainment . There are a lot of monuments and a decent botanic garden as well. It’s a lot of walking though, the streets are laid out oddly so be ready to get some steps in.

          Melbourne is my favorite city in Australia. The food is cheap, there are loads of things to do (natural history, art, science, and historical museums, botanic gardens, awesome farmers markets). I believe housing is expensive there though but I stayed with a friend. It has the best, most affordable food in all of Australia that I visited. So if you are a foodie worth a visit.

          The great ocean road could easily be your two week trip as well. There are so many stop offs for swimming, hiking, and touring small Australian towns. We spent 3 days on the GOR and I wish we had expanded it to 5 or more. The ocean down there is colder though, so a spring trip might be chilly for swimming. It also combines nicely with a Melbourne – GOR – Adelaide trip.

          Adelaide seemed nice but I only got to spend two days there. If you like port there is a vineyard with the longest established 100 barrel aged port. There are other nice ports there too. I bought one that I saved for 5 months and shared with family when I got home. Worth every penny! The hostels there were very nice as well. The botanic garden was nice, there are also a lot of fountains but sadly I was there on a work conference so I did not get to spend much time there at all.

    2. Dan*

      So you’re overwhelmed with all of your options, and are asking for more ;) ? Sure, we can make the problem worse!

      I spent a month in Australia a year ago April. What are you interested in? The reef is more or less a must, Ayers Rock is over-rated but worth it if you a do a multi-day trip with Kings Canyon, Sydney you can skip, Melbourne is worth a go. IMHO, the Daintree was a bust.

      My opening sarcasm aside, I understand your dilemma. Australia was probably the hardest thing to plan. There’s so much to do, and so little of it that is on the “obvious” tourist trail that you really do have to think long and hard. I think it’s also hard in that things are so spread out. Most places I go, while I’ve never thought about it this way, you can just pick the big spots on the map, plop there for a week, and there will be plenty to do there or in the surrounding area. So you don’t have to worry about it. Australia is so vast that you need to worry about arranging plane tickets and what not ahead of time, unless you are willing to take your chances with airfare.

      1. Neruda*

        I live in Australia. I wouldn’t skip Sydney! I imagine a lot of people enjoy seeing a couple of our most famous sights, the opera house and the harbour bridge in the flesh! I suggest considering what you want to see most. Eg: If you are keen to see the big tourist attractions then choose places around them. If you’re more into scenery, choose locations around that etc. Hope that helps!

        1. Dan*

          Depends on what you’re into. Remember, op is on a two week holiday, and has limited time to see a large country.

          Don’t get me wrong, if op wants to see Sydney, by all means go. But if she’s on the fence, I wouldn’t want her to feel like she “has” to see Sydney if it doesn’t already stand out to her.

          You also really need to know what you’re doing in that city, it’s big and not always easy to walk out your hotel room, and find plenty of food and drink. Let’s be honest, the circular quay is dead at night. The rocks has a couple of things going on, but if op is coming from Tokyo, Sydney is a quiet rural town in comparison.

          (To those who point out that Sydney is larger than that area, thank you for reinforcing my point that you need to know what you’re doing in that city.)

        2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          I’m with Dan. Sydney is overrated. Especially if you are not into the night life.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve never been to Australia, but I find this whole “skip Sydney” / “don’t skip Sydney” discussion fascinating, and I’m trying to imagine something similar with someone asking about spending two weeks in the U.S. (“Go to Los Angeles, but skip New York”).

      1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

        I think it depends on what you are into. The OP did say there like hiking, snorkeling, and has no real interest in nightlife. Sydney has little to offer apart from the nightlife and is terrible expensive and is not central to other cities with snorkeling/hiking.

        If someone told me they like city trekking, but are not into the nightlife I would hedge on NYC but say don’t bother with LA. I would highly recommend DC to a city trekker (since that usually means they are into museams/history/architecture as well).

        1. Suz*

          Sydney does have plenty of beautiful hiking and beaches as well though- see Blue Mountains and Jenolan Caves for examples of hiking and there are SO many beaches to choose from if that’s your thing.
          There’s also plenty of Aboriginal history to explore too, such as http://www.atnf.csiro.au/people/Ray.Norris/SydneyRockArt/public_list.htm

          Also, a great observatory in the middle of the city- so you could explore the city, Opera House, Bridge, etc during the day and then go to the Observatory in the evening and end with Pancakes on the Rocks for a wonderful 1-day Sydney main-sites trip!

    4. Treena*

      I have to agree with Dan that Sydney isn’t a must-see, unless you actually want to see it! Especially if you’re not into night-life, it’s just a big city with a few notable things to see. Don’t make it a priority just because you feel like you should.

      That said, I’d like to recommend Victoria! It’s got Melbourne, which to me is a unique enough city (the famous laneways) that exploring the city is interesting on its own with museums, best food in Oz, plenty to do. But beyond Melbourne, the Great Ocean Road offers an amazing coastal drive as well as bushwalking. Wilson’s Prom is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, with beaches, bushwalking, and intense hiking/trekking. Gippsland has rainforest (although not anywhere near the scale of Daintree and other options in Australia). Yarra Valley has loads of wineries and breweries. Healesville Sanctuary will cover all your bases in terms of Aussie animals. Phillip Island is stunning and has the world’s tiniest penguins. With a bit of a drive, you can get to the Grampians or other aboriginal sites. Maybe not as awe-inspiring as Ayers, but I like to go to aboriginal sights to learn about aboriginal culture, not just look at the pretty sights. Victoria does have some scuba opportunities, but you’d definitely want to combine Victoria with the Great Barrier Reef, and I’d think that would make the perfect 2 week itinerary.

      Victoria is often overlooked because it’s so tiny, but that’s exactly why I recommend it to people coming with a short amount of time–everything is super close together and you’re not wasting time with transit.

    5. Gene*

      If you’re a warm water diver, then Northern Queesnland/Great Barrier Reef is the way to go. If you’re comfortable in cold water, Tasmania is awesome. I’ve dived both and either is worth the trip. Contrary to popular belief, cold water has much more life, it’s just (usually) not as colorful.

      If you’re science oriented, the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope inland from Sydney is great.

      If you’re interested in rum, Bundaberg.

  21. Carrie in Scotland*

    So mid-February is when I’m moving back to my own flat and home city (the one with the downturn).

    I’m struggling with the fact that I have currently no job and several outgoings (such as mortgage, bills, loan payment etc).

    Several people have also viewed my flat and my agent sounds positive about them. Of course, this is her job so I’m not going too mad over what she’s saying. Positive feedback doesn’t translate into selling. If I pull it off the market then I have to pay an exit fee of £500. Everything comes down to money :( I’m just so tired of all the hard stuff being thrown at me all the time, you know?

    1. Cristina in England*

      I hope you have better luck in your home city, despite the downturn. If I still lived in your new city, I’d have you round for tea!

  22. Andraste*

    Any lactose intolerant/dairy-free folks here? In the last few months I’ve started having trouble with dairy and am phasing it out. My problem is coffee–I’m a big coffee drinker and haven’t really found a suitable replacement for the creaminess of half and half. I like the flavor of vanilla soy milk, but it doesn’t really have enough body to be what I’m looking for. I also just bought a carton of So Delicious Coconut Creamer, but it’s got an unpleasant grittyness to it? Any recs?

    1. katamia*

      Lactose intolerant here. I don’t drink coffee, but I like the consistency of almond milk much better than the consistency of soy milk. Maybe try vanilla almond milk?

    2. periwinkle*

      I tried the SoDelicious almond milk creamer and wound up just mixing it into my regular almond milk because I could barely tell any difference between them (except that the creamer had an odd taste I never quite identified).

      Cashew milk is worth a try. I enjoy Silk unsweetened cashew milk and think it works okay in coffee because it has a natural creaminess that’s lacking in soy and almond milks. Perhaps if you make your own cashew milk and use less water than the normal recipe, it’ll make a good half & half substitute?

      1. JaneB*

        Nut milks are definitely better than soy in my experience too. Oddly, soy milk is absolutely fine to my taste in chai tea lattes, but pretty disgusting in coffee. Keep experimenting and you should find something you like.

        cow’s milk intolerant here, turns out that many folks can tolerate goats and sheeps milk but not cows – I like goats milk in coffee but it does have a slightly different taste to cows, and is hard to get out and about. I’ve also heard good things about rice milk, but only used it to make rice puddings, not tried it in coffee…

        1. Doriana Gray*

          And see, I’m the opposite – I hate every iteration of almond milk I’ve ever tried and love soy milk in lattes/macchiatos, especially flavored espresso drinks. I feel like the soy intensifies the sweetness of the syrup (and is extra creamy after being foamed) while almond milk dilutes it and leaves a weird aftertaste.

          However, I’m not a fan of soy milk in regular brewed coffee. It’s very flat and watery for some reason. For this type of coffee, I use CoffeeMate or International Delight creamers since they tend to be dairy-free.

      2. Andraste*

        That’s the second tip I’ve heard for cashew today–had a friend tell me that they make a cashew whipped cream that is amazing! I live in a Mississippi town without a hippie/natural grocery store, and haven’t seen cashew milk in person, but I think making my own is within my skill set. :)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’ve made almond milk a few times, just because (I like kitchen projects) and it was soooooo easy. The worst part was time #2, when I overfilled the blender. Don’t do that. Otherwise, go for it with the cashews!

    3. Trill*

      I’ve been dairy free pretty much my whole life (allergic). I’ve never had real dairy cream in my coffee so I can’t really offer any comparisons, and I normally drink my coffee black anyway, but every now and then I’ll get Silk’s french vanilla creamer (its a soy creamer, not soy milk).
      If you need any non-dairy recommendations not related to coffee cream, I might be a little more helpful.

    4. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      Almond milk won’t be nearly as creamy as half and half – I tried switching to that a while ago to try and cut down calories before ultimately deciding my half and half in my coffee really wasn’t the problem.

      I think your best bet will be coconut milk. Don’t by a special coconut milk creamer – just by some coconut milk from the ethnic aisle. You probably want to get a mason jar or something so you can put the milk from the can into that and shake vigorously before adding.

      As an aside, I love coconut whipped cream! Just refrigerate a can of coconut milk overnight. Then spoon of the cream that has rose to the top. Whip on high with a little bit of sugar and … Voila! Vegan whipped cream.

    5. fposte*

      You know you can just treat the regular half-and-half, right? Get the lactase drops (drug stores don’t carry them anymore but Amazon does), dose the carton and give it 24 hours, and voila, lactose-free (or nearly) half-and-half. If you just plain want to give up dairy even with the lactose converted, that obviously won’t help you, but I think some people don’t realize you can treat the actual dairy substance and not just take the tablet.

      1. Sparkly Librarian*

        I am one of those who didn’t realize that! My lactase pills have been lifesavers, but I’ll keep an eye out for the drops — then we can buy regular milk for the house when it’s on sale, and not have to spend more for lactose-free. Does it keep fresh longer, after the treatment?

        1. fposte*

          I don’t actually know–interesting question. I know higher-fat stuff lasts much longer than lower-fat, so it’s not the fat going rancid. It’s possible my Lactaid milk lasts longer (I do just buy the the pre-done milk), but I think it’s also ultra-pasteurized, so that would prolong its life anyway.

      2. Andraste*

        I didn’t know that actually! I’m pretty new to the dairy-free stuff, pretty suddenly in December my body flipped a switch from “ice cream makes me gassy” to “oh this same cup of yogurt I’ve been eating for breakfast for years now makes me exhausted and sick, what happened?” So I’m still adjusting and learning all the tips. I don’t want to give up dairy entirely (cheese hasn’t really been a problem for me, and since I like to cook so much I don’t think I could ever give up cream in certain recipes), but I’m trying to cut down and find alternatives where I can. I’ll order a thing of these drops though! Appreciate the tip.

      3. TootsNYC*

        That’s interesting!

        And one thing you could do is eliminate dairy everywhere else, but if you can’t find a substitute, then treat the half-and-half.

        I’m waiting for the gluten drops and pills!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      It’s really tough to find a replacement for something like half and half. I have been avoiding dairy for a long time and I have never found anything. I do like the coconut milk ice cream, that seems rich to me. But yeah, I have tried soy, rice, hemp, coconut, almond, goat’s milk and a couple others that I have forgotten for my coffee. It just wasn’t the same. Like you are saying, these milks are watery compared to half and half. I now drink it black, just because it’s easier if I am at someone’s house.

    7. LisaLee*

      What about just canned coconut cream? That should be heavier and not made to taste like fake milk like the So Delicious one is.

    8. AcidMeFlux*

      500 to get OFF the list? Jeezbus. maybe you should do a career switch to real estate. What a scam.
      Whatever happens, I think you’ll do better soon; you’re on home turf, so you’ll have a better idea of how to cope.

    9. nep*

      No dairy here. I never thought I’d like my coffee w/o milk or creamer but today black coffee is One Of My Favorite Things. (Agree w the suggestion, also, to try vanilla almond milk.)

      1. fposte*

        Isn’t it funny how your palate eventually shrugs and says, “Okay, that’s good too”? We are an adaptable species.

      2. LizB*

        Same! I think one thing that helps, though, is investing in decent coffee — find a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans, and try their varieties until you find one that you really like. High-quality coffee is way easier to drink black.

    10. Cristina in England*

      Another vote for goat’s milk! The St Helens Farm brand sells cream, yogurt, ice cream, cheese and butter as well. It has a very mild taste, as old as cow’s milk. I don’t know what’s available in your area but if you don’t like the first brand you try, try another one if you can since the difference can be quite noticeable.

    11. MKT*

      Coffemate creamer is lactose free(the refrigerated kind). Check the back, I’ve only come across one flavor of theirs that isn’t!

    12. KateS*

      I mostly use unsweetened soy milk, personally. You have to experiment with brands, though; I’ve found that some store brands will separate and taste bitter if you pour them into hot coffee. Heating it up before hand does help. I used to use almond milk but for whatever reason, my taste buds changed and now it tastes horribly bitter in coffee. I’d also suggest trying goat milk too! I’ve only ever tried Meyenberg goat milk, but I really like it. Some people think it tastes grassy though.

  23. HardwoodFloors*

    Anyone have experience dealing with animal rescue groups in the Northeastern section of the U.S.? I have always stated that I have pets that come with names because I have ‘rescued’ animals from the dog pound for the last 25 years. My last large dog died from poor health (old age) at 14 years old more than a year ago and when I got him at age ten he was ‘the big black dog that nobody wanted.’ He had a good life with me for four years and I am looking for another pet/family member. In the area I am in successful spay and neuter programs have greatly reduced the number of dogs up for adoption. And (new experience for me) I have been turned down as a potential new pet parent. I think the reasons I am turned down are: 1) I have no fence on property (20 years of mixed breed German Shepard’s with no fence and no problems, they are indoor dogs and properly walked ) and 2) I have a cat. I have always had a cat and a dog. As life cycles go on the new pet is properly introduced to the current resident. The cat I have now has lived with two different dogs only one at a time. The cat is not going anywhere. So the cat and I and my family are looking for a new fur baby and I don’t know how to find a pet without going through all this rejection. I am not really a fan of the getting a pet that I have never seen before that is driven up from another part of the country from the fact I want to make sure the dog would not be a threat to my cat. Have others been through this?

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I ran into some very, very strict adoption shelters when we lived in New England. I don’t quite get it personally. I would say look around and maybe adopt from a shelter that puts animals down. I’ve found the shelters that are no kill are sometimes really weird about who they adopt out too. I am allergic to cats, and got rejected from 3 no-kill shelters … even though I already own a cat! The shelter that finally let me adopt our then 7 yo now 10 yo tortoise could care less. She was probably next on the list for being put down too – since she was so old and had been returned by maniacs over 5 times.

      1. Perse's Mom*

        No-kill shelters (I hate that term) have the option of super strict adoption processes because they have a hard limit on numbers coming into the rescue/shelter.

        Public shelters are generally the polar opposite, particularly if they partner with local animal control. You don’t get to say no in that situation, but you still have limited space, so you make the best adoption matches you can and hope the math works out on incoming vs outgoing. If it doesn’t, there are nasty choices to be made.
        *voice of experience*

        1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Still I think they go too far sometimes though. I mean a hard no on allergic to cats? Or not having a fence? Why not have a 10 minute conversation with the person instead. You are allergic to cats? (Understandable red flag).

          Oh you currently have a cat? How long have you had the cat? How are you dealing with the allergies? Then you decide if it’s worth adopting out to or not. I can understand being a bit more strict in those situations, I really do, but my experience was that a lot were very BW about it which I think harms more animals than it does good.

          1. Perse's Mom*

            It really depends on the individual rescue and their rules. I agree that it’s worth a conversation and it should be a case by case basis, but you also have to understand that sometimes people understate potential problems with their living situation/health and sometimes they just flat lie. People who work in animal adoption for awhile see a lot of both, which can make them skeptical of *every* adopter. Yes, it’s unfair to the honest adopters who know what they’re getting into and are prepared for a new fuzzy family member, but it’s an unfortunate side effect of the ‘people suck’ phenomenon.

        2. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

          Some of the no-kill (not sure what else to call them that’s what I have always heard them referred to as) shelters are not much better than being feral imo. My poor short hair domestic tom was in a room with 50, 50! other cats. It took him 3 months to stop gorging and vomiting up his food. And even then he would still run to the bowl, swipe out food and nibble up off of the ground for an additional two months. Despite being a kitten when he was brought in, he contracted feline herpes in the shelter and now has permanent immune system issues. I crush up vitamins in his food each night to prevent really bad infections : )

          They asked if I was allergic to cats after I bonded with the Tom so I lied and said no. I love my TomCat!

          1. HardwoodFloors*

            I agree with you some cats are living in deplorable conditions in ‘shelters.’ Going in to see dogs also sometimes causing seeing cats and I feel sorry for the cats. I have thought about, if I can’t get a dog, to bring home a cat but my cat HATES other cats. I have introduced new pets to old pets successfully, but I can’t see my cat adapting to another cat’s presence at her age and with her attitude. I think some poor cats get brought back because cats are not real good at dealing with change. One of my cats was given to me when her owner died of cancer (and I was between pets) and the cat hated me for a year. Blamed me that her owner was out of the cat’s life I guess, but after a year she warmed up.

          2. Perse's Mom*

            There’s not really a simple phrase to describe shelters/rescues that don’t euthanize on site without spelling it out like that, so it’s shorted to ‘no-kill.’ It bothers me for a number of reasons, but not really due to the convenience of the shorthand.

            I’ve heard horror stories about shelters that called themselves no-kill because either the animals were sent to another facility for euthanasia (so they died off-site) or were just left to die in their own filth (but they died on their own, so the collective conscience of the main facility could be left clear – this was actually relayed to me by a vet who had witnessed this directly).

            Some ‘kill’ shelters are no better, particularly if they’re so void of funding or donations that they can’t reliably vaccinate. All it takes is a bout of parvo.

            And then you have the ‘rescues’ that are really just fronts for hoarders or backyard breeders.

            The one feral-specific rescue I periodically worked with actually had a pretty nice setup and at least one dedicated vet. Another bonus to living in a relatively affluent and liberal area surrounded by farm country, I guess.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not a direct answer, but you should be sure to put the word out with your friends/family that you are looking for a dog. A friend of mine was able to connect her friend who wanted a dog to another friend’s friend. Yeah, that sentence doesn’t go down well. The person who wanted the dog was three degrees of relationship away from the person who had to get rid of a dog. The match up went exceedingly well.
      Some places have neighborhood forums where neighbors can post messages online. If you have a forum like that available, or if someone you know belongs to one that would be a good place to try.

      1. TootsNYC*

        This is the plan the next time I get a new cat. I want a cat that sits on your lap, sleeps on your head. So I want one w/ a proven personality. And I’m totally willing to take an older cat to get that. I plan to put an ad on Craigslist and at the vet’s: “Do you need to rehome your affectionate cat?” Because sometimes people do need to.

    3. Jen*

      Where in the northeast? I am in MA and rescues here can be super strict. If you are in Ma though let me know and I can share some of the more flexible ones (i.e. Don’t require a 6 ft fully fenced year and signing a contract to feed your dog an all-organic diet, not a joke…)

      Also consider local city pounds. I know in CT the Bridgeport and New Haven animal control have a ton of dogs, and are much less picky than some rescues. I would imagine other cities are similar.

      1. HardwoodFloors*

        I have just received good news. I am getting a dog. Perfect for me, she is an eight year old pup about 80 pounds and cat friendly. She is from a referral from my vet because her original owners caused her to be injured and then didn’t want to care for her. BTW I live near MA but not in MA and some of the rescue groups do want a 6 foot fence- what ? I should put in a 6 foot fence so I can leave the dog unattended outside?–not on your life!! I have to wait a little longer while the dog heals some more but this is going to be good for my new fur baby and us. And I wasn’t turned down for the fourth or fifth time, it was a matter of someone was so busy that they didn’t realize they were out of touch (for more than a week ) . Thanks for the comments and help.

        1. Jen*

          Congrats!!! I’m so jealous; we lost our dog last year and I really want a new one. It’s just the wrong time, with a toddler and a new one on the way. I went to talk to the local rescue about volunteering and nearly walked out with a dog, so there’s that.. Luckily we don’t have a full 6 ft fence so I am not a prime candidate ;).

    4. Ashley*

      Not familiar with New England, but I found my furbaby on Craigslist. Each city has a pets section on the Community pages, but you can also try searching “dog” or “puppy” in the for sale section.

      Just be careful of scams, they’re usually obvious because someone will be trying to mail you a puppy. And if they respond to you saying that you need to email a certain address it’s definately one.

    5. newreader*

      My experience in the northeast is that shelters/humane societies are less restrictive than rescue groups for adopters.

  24. Janine*

    Wearable fitness trackers: does anyone use them?

    Are they any good? Do they motivate you to lead a more healthy lifestyle?

    Also, there are so many of them on the market these days (over a huge range of prices too!) it’s hard to distinguish which one’s more suitable.

    1. Diluted_TortoiseShell*

      I work for one of those US companies that makes you use a fitbit to get a health insurance discount. It’s a huge pain.

      When I first got my tracker it motivated me to move more for about a week. Then I got tired of wearing it. Then it became mandatory for work. I would say it has not helped me get healthier. Top annoyances for me is that it does not count low impact activities very well. It also will not count steps if you are holding something.

      1. Butter Tooth Callahan*

        Wow, THAT sucks, and seems very invasive. If you _have_ to wear it can you switch to the Fitbit One, so you can clip it to your clothes rather than have to wear it on your arm? I think the Flex will still work if you wear it as a pendant, which will definitely get it off your arm, I’ve seen some acceptable looking flex tracker accessories that may make the thing easier to wear.

    2. Milton*

      I wear a Garmin 15, which I use mostly for running. It has a step tracker and tells me to Move! if I haven’t moved in an hour. After 200 steps the “move your butt” warning goes away. Every day it has a goal for how many steps you should walk. Today my goal is 7,346 steps. It bases it off of your average so the more you walk the higher your goal will be.

      This is my long winded way of saying, yes it motivates me to move more. Especially when I haven’t reached my goal yet. I’ll walk around in circles until I reach it. When I run I love seeing my pace and mile times and it helps me push myself.

      I haven’t met anyone that has lost 100 lbs or anything due to a fitness tracker, but if a fitness tracker can motivate anyone (even a little bit) it’s better than nothing.

    3. Butter Tooth Callahan*

      I’ve been wearing a fitbit flex for about a year and a half and I’ll admit that it doesn’t motivate me until I’m within a few hundred steps of the daily goal, before that I just don’t care. I was using the tracking tools early on to get a sense of my, distances, food intake and calorie burning, my interest waned once I knew what my averages were. I do use the silent alarm because I sleep with earplugs and found that I was sleeping through my regular alarms, (although inexplicably I hear my hubs’ alarm). I would like to get a newer style, the kind that tells you to get up and move, because that’s the kind of prodding I need from a tracker. I’ve had my eye on the Garmin Vívofit 2 and the Samsung Gear Fit because they also tell time. If I were an iPhone user I’d totally get an apple watch because it does all the things I want from wearable technology.

    4. Fleur*

      I’m enjoying my Garmin Vivoactive that i bought with my company’s discount. For non exercise use, it’s a decent smart watch that can give me phone notifications with good battery life. For exercise, I’ve only used it for running, but I like the GPS functionality, very accurate. When I start swimming again, it’ll be interesting to see how it does.

    5. hermit crab*

      I have a Fitbit Flex because my mom bought it for me as a present, last summer. I have been wearing it consistently so far and it’s an interesting experiment. I will definitely go for a walk if it’s the evening and I have embarrassingly few steps for the day. The social part is a big fact, I think — I find that I am really, really motivated to take more steps than my father-in-law. :)

      The Flex also lets you track your sleep, which I’m weirdly fascinated by.

    6. Cruciatus*

      Now, if you’re asking if it makes me want to put down the potato chips…then no. But it does make me want to move more. I’ve had the Fitbit One for nearly 3 years (in May). I find it to be accurate (except for flights of stairs on windy days as I stated upthread a bit). It just makes me more aware. There are now studies out there speaking against trackers because they can make exercising not fun anymore and make you a slave to the numbers. I haven’t found this to be too true. At least not exactly. A) I will never find exercise “fun” and B) I’m a slave to the numbers in that I try to hit my goal but I’ve learned that if I don’t it’s OK. The world doesn’t end. Sometimes you need a break. But some days I’ve only moved 2000 steps or something (with a typical daily goal of 12,500) and I’ll go and take a walk and feel more energized and sometimes I end up walking longer than I planned. It does motivate me to get off my ass most days, even for a little bit. Maybe that means I’m “a slave to the numbers” but it helps me to see how I’m doing throughout the day. I like the One because I clip it to my pocket and forget about it. Also, Fitbit’s customer service is second to none. My first Fitbit went wonky after 10 months and they were sending me a free replacement within hours of my email to them. I’ve heard many positive stories from others as well.

    7. skyline*

      My running watch has an activity tracking feature. That feature didn’t motivate me to be more healthy, but I was already committed to running regularly when I got it. Basically, the activity tracking feature told me that I met my fitness goals when I ran, and that I didn’t meet my fitness goals on my rest days. I didn’t need to wear my bulky running watch all day long to figure that out! I will say that having data motivates me to run more–I set mini goals like “100 miles for the month” or “new PR for miles in a week” to keep me interested between races.

      My friends who are motivated by their fitness trackers seem to get the most benefit from the social/competitive aspects. If that sounds like you, it’s probably a good idea to get a device from the same ecosystem.

    8. Pepper*

      I got a Fitbit Flex for Christmas and quickly got obsessed. It definitely makes me think more about how much I move and, since I have a daily goal, what I can do to reach that.
      The ability to enter challenges with other people is one of my favourite things about Fitbit; it taps into my (very, very) competitive side by turning the whole thing into a social experience instead of a solo effort!
      I stopped noticing the band after a week or so, but I have always worn things on my wrists so it felt normal.

    9. GOG11*

      I have a fitbit flex. I’ve been using it since May and it definitely motivates me. I meet my step goal most days. There was a period that I was ill and I didn’t get my step goal most days for a few weeks, but other than that I average 6 days a week meeting my goal.

    10. Noah*

      I have a Fitbit Charge. I like it and it does motivate me to get up and walk. This is especially true on days when I’m just sitting in the office. I like the Charge over the Flex because it also acts as a watch and you can see who’s calling without pulling your phone out.

      It sorta tracks your sleep too. The Charge figures it out automatically, the Flex you have to tell it when your asleep and wake up.

      It’s not perfect, the biggest issue is that it doesn’t track active minutes very well. Things like hockey and rowing don’t count because the movement is not quite like walking or running. Apparently the Charge HR does better with this because it takes into account heart rate.

      I also have the FitBit scale that syncs over wifi. Makes cool graphs of your weight over time.

      1. Vulcan social worker*

        The Flex has started figuring sleep out automatically too. I stopped bothering to put mine into sleep mode after I’d had it a month or so (last year), and I noticed maybe two months ago that it was tracking my sleep anyway. It’s not perfectly accurate, but for all of those months in between it didn’t track at all, and now it does. I guess Fitbit figured something out and added it to the last software update.

        I’ve used an old-school cheap pedometer, the feature on my phone, and the Flex. Sometimes I’d forget to put the pedometer on in the morning, and half the time I’d leave my phone on my desk when I went wandering around during the work day, and I never carried it around my home at night so I was undercounting until I bought the Flex. I like the Flex since the only time I take it off is to shower, and I just leave it on the bathroom counter and put it right back on again. I like that it tracks active minutes and distance. I don’t need much else. Steps are just a good approximation of distance anyway and I can check my progress during the day by the lights on the band. And, of course, I have the excited Pavlovian response when my wrist starts buzzing because I hit my goal.

        1. Noah*

          I know you’re supposed to take them off to shower, but I’ve never bothered. Mine still works after a year. I wouldn’t submerge it in a pool or bathtub but the shower doesn’t seem to matter.

          My biggest complaint is a bit illogical. I frequently forget to year it for a day or two when I put it in the charger. No good solution, they need battery power to work, that’s just my own weird quirk.

    11. mondegreen*

      I got a basic clip-on Fitbit for ~$40 and used it as an exercise tracker for about a month, then stopped because my clothes have no easy place to clip a little plastic thingy. The bracelet option was clunky and loose enough to be annoying when I tried it on in the store, and I wasn’t sufficiently sure it was useful to buy one and fiddle with it. Your bringing it up has motivated me to find a solution to the clip issue. Elastic band on my wrist, maybe?

      In that month, I noticed that I was walking 15-20,000 steps a day outside the gym in my normal life–a lot more than I thought, and it explained my end-of-day tiredness–plus a few more miles some days because I was competing with a guy who got one about the same time. He always hit >30,000 steps walking his dog twice a day (not just strapping the Fitbit to Fido and letting him loose in a dog park, I hope). The competitive aspect was fun and personally helpful, but not enough to overcome the inconvenience.

      Note: if you have a newish iPhone, that tracks steps and flights of stairs climbed. I’m not sure about its accuracy compared to specialized devices.

    12. Applesauced*

      I’ve had a FitBit One for about two years, it was a gift so no choice but I keep it because I don’t like the look of the wristbands. It’s motivated me to make small changes – I get off the train a stop before the one closest to my office, I take a walk at lunch instead of wasting time online (AAM isn’t wasting time!), walk to the further coffee area at the office… The social aspect and the fact that it feels like a game got me hooked at first, but now I just like moving around more.

  25. Grandma Q*

    My grandma (helped raise me, love her with all my heart and soul) hides her money somewhere in her room. She helps her niece a few days a week and her neice pays her. I’m estimating she’s saved anywhere from several hundred to a few thousand dollars. My mom wants me to ask her where it is in case of an emergency (read: my grandma is in her 80s and her health is fine, but what happens when the inevitable happens :( )

    At first I was like, no. When that day comes there are only so many places you can hide money so I will find it. But now I’m reconsidering because my mom has a good point. My mom and grandma have a mostly good relationship, but just like lots of mother-daughters they butt heads. If I did ask her, I would not tell my mom in order to remain the neutral party. And if you are wondering, my mom makes good money, will have a very pension, and I’m not concerned that she will take anything from my grandma.

    If I do decide to ask her, how should I ask? “Yo grandma, where you hide yo money?”

    1. katamia*

      My parents have hidden money in various places. My mom has told me where they are (only child, so I’ll be the one dealing with everything after they’re gone) because she’s heard stories of people who hid money in books, and then whoever was in charge of their estates sold the books without looking inside them because they didn’t know there was money in there. I’m sure that happens with other antiques, too–jewelry boxes, dressers, maybe even clothing. Emphasizing that might make your grandmother more willing to tell you.

      If your grandmother really doesn’t want to tell you, maybe she could write a list and put it in a safe deposit box or strongbox (with her keeping the key) of all the locations for you to look at once she’s gone.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        The guys who service my furnace told me a story about how they were called out to a house where the heat wasn’t getting into certain parts of the house. The owner was new, he had purchased it from people who inherited it. Turned out, the old guy had stuffed money into the heating duct, blocking the heat. Thousands of dollars. New homeowner was thrilled! After my grandfather died, I found about $100 in change in pockets of his clothes.

        In my opinion, you might just want to talk to your Grandma about what she feels like/what she fears. If she’s hiding money, she doesn’t trust something or someone, she fears losing her ability to be independent/to have her own rainy day fund/that someone will take it from her? You could make a present to her of a cash box that you can get at Staples as someplace secure she can put her money. If she’s hiding things and doesn’t remember doing it or becomes hostile or paranoid talking about it, that’s another conversation entirely.

        1. TootsNYC*

          the cash box is a good idea! With the Sentry firesafe ones, you can screw them to the floor from the inside, and then people can’t walk off with the box. And it won’t burn.
          That might be a thing to propose, because it keeps the money completely safe, safer than it is now, but it’s safe even from you and mom.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A friend’s apartment building burned to the ground. They found his Sentry Safe and it was fine. I had never heard of anyone who had experience with Sentry Safes until this friend. It made me feel better to know this.

      2. Artemesia*

        We found thousands hidden away when my mother died. I had my kids go through every book in the house but she didn’t put it there. She had poor vision and we had stressed that she should never give her ATM card to a helper or friend — even the excellent reliable neighbor — and if she needed money she should go to the bank and deal directly with the banker. The result is that she stockpiled funds so she had money for her needs without relying on others.

        I don’t think you need to know where Grandma keeps her money. You will find it But you could have one conversation about how you would find it if she were hospitalized and needed it or when she passes but don’t pursue if she rebuffs it. It is super important that it is not talked about and that casual acquaintances or neighbors don’t become aware of this habit. People have been killed because they ‘are known to keep money in their house.’

    2. fposte*

      Is the money needed in case of possible emergency, or does your mother just not want it to get tossed without you guys knowing? Because if it’s not needed, I would go pretty lightly and let the topic go if it’s not Grandma’s cup of tea. Maybe it could be a sideline in a conversation about what Grandma wants if she’s ill and who her lawyer is, so it’s not just about the money.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      She may not tell you. Or she may not even remember.

      I think I would focus on the real point, which is how are things going to be handled when grandma can’t do it herself any more. Why not ask her if she has a preference as to who helps her if she is incapacitated and cannot write checks anymore? She probably thinks about that, so you would probably not come across as insulting.

      IF she names someone, then ask if that person can come over and get the details from her so they know what she wants.

      TBH, if she has an emergency, a few thousand dollars might cover a week of out of pocket medical, that’s about it. So before you get really into this question it might be a good idea to find out what your mother really wants to know. I am thinking your mother is concerned about figuring out how to be take care of grandma’s bills- what coverage does she have, will she have to buy her own wheelchair, etc. But it could be that your mother is concerned about someone stealing your grandmother’s money if she is not home. So I would start with what is mom actually concerned about.

      FWIW, one family member who seemed pretty put together took her money and crumpled it up in little balls. She then placed the little balls randomly around her bedroom drawers and closets. And she seemed to be put together. Another family member who was a lot less put together- would grin, “Oh so you found that 40 bucks. I have more emergency funds stashed but I will not tell you where they are, you have to guess.” sigh. We did not bother guessing. Who knows how much money we tossed out because we did not realize it was hidden in something else.

    4. Jen*

      My grandfather did this. He ended up on his death bed trying to remember all the various places he had hidden cash, coins, and GOLD BARS in the house. What he disclosed:
      – false bottom in several planters (grandma knew about this; they put their valuables in it when going out of town)
      – secret area behind the fountain in the front entry way (truly Nancy Drew style) that had about $5k of collectible coins
      – code to the hidden safe inside the safe
      – fireproof hidden safe in the attic

      While emptying out the house to move my grandma, we found:
      -$100 hidden behind the laundry room
      – 3 $100 bills under the loose part of the counter in the laundry room
      -$50 rolled up and hidden in the seams of the bathroom curtains (we found this easily because this is also where he hid his cigarettes)

      And I am sure when grandma moved out, she left behind $1000 or more in cash. We did rent a metal detector to sweep the house before moving to check for coins etc.

      You could suggest that she write the location down and put it in a safe deposit box, then give a trusted family member the key, just in case.

      1. FatBigot*

        Apocryphal story:

        A famous London robber died. His children inherited his only asset, his house. They assumed that all the proceeds from his life of crime had been spent long ago. Only after the house had been sold did they hear that he had used the gold sovereigns from one job as curtain weights.

    5. Algae*

      Is this a new behavior for your grandma? I’m only asking because one of the first signs of my grandmother’s dementia was that she started hiding money.

      I would bet that the hidden money is not in one spot. If she’s like my Nana, take the drawers out of the dresser and look underneath and behind where they would have been for envelopes. Look in suitcases. Look in boxes of seldom worn clothes in the closet.

    6. TootsNYC*

      Maybe make it about, “Let’s get some information in place in case things get complicated later. We’ll plan now while you’re in GREAT health.”
      And ask about stuff like wills, insurance, long-term savings plans (my dad just pointed out to me that he has savings in a church-related fund, and I should know, because if he dies before he uses it…he’s 85, and he’s been saving $16,000), power of attorney, health directive (so that if she can’t speak, it can tell her doctors TO take heroic measures, if that’s what she wants–it’s not such a default setting anymore), and also, where is the cash, in case you need it quickly to use for her sake. Address book for who to notify if she moves to a nursing home, etc. Passwords for her Facebook so you can tell her friends how to get in touch with her.

    7. Mander*

      My parents once helped clean the garage of a relative who passed away. He had loads of unused notebooks, old magazines, etc. stacked up everywhere. They gave as many notebooks away to the neighbourhood kids as they could, and started a bonfire to burn all the magazines (this was in the days before recycling).

      After a few hours of this one of the kids came back over, with a parent, to give back the money they had found stuck between the notebook pages. When they checked, all the rest of the magazines and notebooks had bills of various denominations hidden in them. They have no idea how many hundreds of dollars they burned.

      Definitely try and persuade her to make a note of where her money is! She can keep it a secret but it could be very helpful in the future.

  26. Little Teapot*

    Small house hacks? I’m moving into a bungalow in the backyard Of some family’s house. Bed to the left (no BIR), kitchenette to the left & a bathroom. It’s pretty small – anyone got any space saving tricks?

    1. fposte*

      The house so small it has no right :-). Have you looked at Apartment Therapy’s Small Spaces section?

    2. Butter Tooth Callahan*

      Shelves attached to the walls with brackets, they’re visually lighter and more flexible than bookcase type furniture, and decorative boxes and containers are the two very useful and effective things that are easy to achieve. I live in a small space and have an art career, making the most of my space while not living in total clutter has been an ongoing process; I have also lived in a RV for an extended period of time, tricks that I found to work for me in the RV have translated well into my little house. Those back of the door, canvas shoe holders are super helpful, lots of little things can go into them, same goes for a shower curtain with pockets, super helpful. I made curtains with pockets and they’re great, once I established a system and knew where everything was, they’ve worked very well. Almost all of my furniture serves double duty as storage, my coffee table has room under it for boxes of stuff, same goes for the bed, my table folds and the seat I sit on is a storage bench. Everything tucks away. I don’t cook much and don’t have much in the way of kitchen gadgetry so my cabinets are filled with other things, books, clothes, my bike helmet, sewing machine, cameras, the stuff I don’t want in boxes.

      Once you get the hang of it, living in a small place is nice. It’s easy to clean! You don’t really have to give up all of your crap to live small.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Re: the shoe pockets: You can cut them down and staple-gun them to the backs of cabinet doors, sides of bookcases, etc.

      2. Doriana Gray*

        +1 to all of this. I initially balked at the idea of moving into my apartment (it’s maybe 415 sq ft), but once I did, and read every small space decorating book I could find, I had so much fun decorating the place and finding out how to make the most of very little. I may never move into anything bigger than 600 sq ft, I love these little spaces so much.

    3. Ultraviolet*

      Paring down your stuff is usually the biggest thing. Unfortunately that can be hard for some people (myself included).

      In terms of organizing what you’ve got, don’t forget to use “vertical space.” Like don’t settle for a 4ft high bookcase if you’d benefit from a 7ft one. Consider hanging things from the wall, like a potrack or hook rail for coats or magnetic strip knife holders. And shelves over doors, like TootsNYC says!

      I think it’s best to maximize the space under your bed for storage, even choosing your bedframe based on how much storage space you’ll get. That’s a controversial one though.

      Apartment Therapy can be a useful resource, like fposte says. The comment section can be pretty judgy though.

  27. Alice*

    Argh! I’ve having moving anxiety.

    I’m planning to move overseas in about a month, and it’s something I’ve been planning for about a year (and been thinking about for much longer!), and while I know it’s something I really want to do, now that I’ve started packing up/selling off my furniture and other belongings I’m starting to feel a odd sort of sadness.

    One thing that’s been happening is when people contact me about stuff I’ve listed for sale, I’m suddenly overcome with sentiment for that stuff! The other day someone came over to buy an old desk (and offered full listing price for it, which is more than I thought I’d get), and I felt so sad letting it go! It’s not something I can take with me, and also not something I’ve even had for /that/ long (so not a childhood memory thing), but for some weird reason I just felt sad when the buyer took it away.

    1. Colette*

      I’d imagine that’s pretty normal. It’s a life-changing time. Even though you’re excited about where you’re going, it’s normal to be sad that you’re leaving the life you know behind.

    2. salad fingers*

      I have no advice, just want to mention that I’m instantly reminded of the yard sale scene in Ghost World reading this. Probably a normal thing, moving overseas is a huge step. Good luck with everything!

    3. Sinjin*

      That’s a big change! When you start a new chapter in your life, it means that other things will be coming to a close. It’s both happy and sad at the same time. I think it’s completely normal to have all kinds of feelings, even for something you really want and have planned for.

      I recently sold my house and gave away 99% of my stuff so I could travel the world solo for a year. It took six months of planning, and it was something I really wanted to do (I’m a middle-aged female). There were so many times throughout that process when I’d have anxiety or get sentimental about odd stuff that wasn’t really very important to me. Whenever that happened, I’d always take a moment and ask myself: Do you want to keep going? Is this what you really want? The answer was always yes.

      Be kind to yourself and don’t get too caught up in what you think you should be feeling. Give yourself space to process whatever emotions arise and understand that different people process change — especially a big one like yours — in different ways. Maybe there’s a comforting routine or ritual that you can establish now that you can take with you wherever you go???

      Just know that everything you’re feeling is really, really normal.

      1. fposte*

        I’d love to hear more about your plans, Sinjin, if you’d like to share. That sounds like a really exciting adventure.

        1. Sinjin*

          It has been exciting!!! Almost four weeks into this new chapter. It’s also been challenging and emotional and weird given that my life has always revolved around work. That’s why I wanted to chime in. Even highly desired changes can bring a mixed bag of emotions. Often ones you never expected.

          I started in Japan and am now in Hong Kong. So far so good!

          1. fposte*

            Do you know people in some of the places, or are you making new connections or even just enjoying being solo?

            1. Sinjin*

              Nope! It’s just me. I love being solo because it challenges me on a level that I wouldn’t get if I was traveling with another person. I also like it because I’m so much more present with what I experience and tuned in to what’s going on around me. I learn more that way … about others, other destinations, and myself. Most of all, though, it opens up the possibility of connecting with strangers in totally organic, unexpected and wonderful ways. I had the best day today sharing an aerial cable car with three families. We all yelled hello and waved at every other neighbor cable car that passed, cracking ourselves up every time. Yesterday, I asked another woman which line we were standing in (it was confusing!), and we both ended up sharing a cab to the top of Victoria peak, a meal at the top, and a (steep!) tram ride down to the bottom of the peak. In the grocery store line, a woman behind me (I don’t speak Cantonese and she didn’t speak English) wanted to make sure I knew I could have my change applied to my transit card. I won’t see any of these people again, but their kindness is something I’ll always remember. I know I’m rambling, but I could go on and on! If you have more questions, I’d be more than happy to answer them offline if there’s a way to connect that way.

              1. Doriana Gray*

                That is so cool. My mom wants to do this, but I think fear is holding her back. Heck, now I want to do this!

                1. Sinjin*

                  There are so many wonderful blogs that offer information and help quell fears about traveling abroad or solo. There’s Nomadic Matt, Adventurous Kate, BootsnAll. There’s a private Facebook group called “Solo Women Travelers” (you can send a request to the moderator to join) filled with travel posts, information and inspiration. BootsnAll has a free e-course that helps you plan a ’round the world (RTW) trip step by step. Nomadic Matt has a book called “Travel the World on $50 a Day”. There are people who do this on just $10,000 a year and, of course, you can spend more depending on where you visit and how you like to travel. The book that planted this seed in my brain years ago and haunted me (in a good way) is called “Tales of a Female Nomad”.

                  I hope that inspires both you and your Mom to consider the possibilities. If you want to travel, there are a lot of resources to point you in the right direction!

              2. fposte*

                I’m mostly just looking for a taste, so that was lovely! And some of my favorite moments of traveling are when you surmount a language gap to work something out.

    4. asteramella*

      I get the same way. Letting go of stuff is hard. I remember when I bought the item, what I wanted to use it for, all the times I used it, how I hoped to use it in the future. Letting go of the item can feel like letting go of those hopes–I’m giving away these fantastic shoes that I used to wear out dancing, remember this night or that night when I went out and I did this and that, does this mean I won’t dance again, am I not the kind of person who can go out and dance anymore? And so on.

      For me, the sadness tends to evaporate after the item is gone and I forget about it.

      Best wishes for your upcoming adventure!

    5. nep*

      Completely understandable. And I can see how it strikes as surprising and inexplicable in the moment — making it all the more unsettling. All I can say, from similar experience, is that it eases with time (and as you start to settle in and make your home somewhere else). Not much help, but that’s been my experience.

    6. TootsNYC*

      This actually fits w/ something I read about decluttering recently.

      That every time you TOUCH something, you feel more invested in it. So you should get someone else to touch it.

      Search on this phrase: The biggest decluttering mistake you don’t know you’re making
      My Love For Words is the blog where I first found this idea.

    7. Treena*

      What works for me is imagining it being loved and used by the buyer. When I moved overseas, I was putting some things into storage, but I got rid of 70% of the stuff and storage was only for the things that were irreplaceable and/or hugely useful after the move back. A lot of things I really really loved but knew I wouldn’t need them or they were plain too bulky to justify going into storage. So I literally would picture the young single mom putting her things on my bookcase or the college kids enjoying the recliner. I had to let go of my favorite couch in the world but the couple that bought it were gushing over how lovely it was and it made me happy that they would love it as much as I did.

  28. Tennis*

    Is anyone here a tennis fan? I was up watching the women’s final last night and it was amazing! I’m not sure if I have nerves left to watch the men’s final now.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Meeeee! :)

      I posted upthread in best/worst. I’m only able to follow updates online/highlights from the BBC. Glad to see Kerber win – she seemed so lovely in her speech and very gracious towards Serena. And then Murray/Soares winning the men’s doubles. I really hope it’s 5th (or it is 6th – I should know this!) time lucky for Andy in the final tomorrow.

      1. Tennis*

        I was rooting for Kerber (support the underdog mentality I think) but I fell a little bit in love with serena when she was so gracious in her loss and seemed genuinely happy for Kerber.

        I think it’s Murrays 5th time in the AO final. There are photo compilations of him looking despondent during the other 5 trophy ceremonies, and I really hope he has a breakthrough, however unlikely it seems right now.

        1. Treena*

          I decided that after so many championships after so many years, Serena perhaps was happy to lose! You saw it right on the screen, she drank some water, made her speech, packed her bag and walked out. Done for the night. I’m sure Kerber was surrounded by press for hours.

      2. Merry and Bright*

        Me too! The last few years I was able to have a lovely Sunday morning watching the men’s final on the BBC but I haven’t got Eurosport so followed online instead. It was still fun though.

        But Murray and Soares did so well.

    2. Take Me 2 Atlanta*

      Me! On the women’s side, I LOVE Agnieszka Radwanska – such a creative player. I will root for her against anyone. So happy with the Kerber win as well.

      On the men’s side, I always root for Andy Murray. Crossing my fingers for tonight!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Oh Andy :(
        At least he gets to go home earlier to be with his wife. Fingers crossed for Wimbledon though.

        I don’t follow the women’s side as much as the men’s but I do like Radwanska, Azarenka and Sharapova (the last two with the sound down though!) and the British women.

        For the men, other than Andy, I like Rafa and hope he gets his 10th French Open and Del Potro who I hope can come back from injury.

  29. Languages!*

    To people who’ve learnt more than one foreign language as an adult: do you find you get the languages mixed up? Like if you leant both Spanish and Polish, then when you’re searching for a term or phrase in one language, the other one comes out? Like your brain is just telling you ‘pick a language, any language!’.

    1. katamia*

      Yep, although in my case it probably doesn’t help that one of the languages I learned as an adult (Hindi) is one I know pretty well (not fluent, but I can definitely hold a normal conversation although not a grammatically perfect one) and the other (Chinese) is one I’m still at a pretty basic level with. I lived in Taiwan for awhile last year, and I’m not 100 percent sure whether the reason Hindi kept coming to mind while I was there was because the two languages were actually getting mixed up or because I just flat-out didn’t know the Chinese word but did know the Hindi one.

      Non-native languages are stored in the same part of the brain, separate from native ones, so it’s not surprising to me that they’d get mixed up sometimes.

      1. Artemesia*

        I was once fluent in German but haven’t spoken it for over 50 years. When I was studying Italian in an intensive class in Florence, my German kept popping up. I was able to translate Italian phrases into German for a German fellow student when she had questions. Unfortunately the Italian didn’t stick but the German seems to be there below the surface and all the foreign languages seem to be stored in the same brain bin for me.

    2. Hattie McDoogal*

      Yes, totally. My brain seems to sort languages into “English” and “not English”. French I learned as a kid so I’m pretty good at keeping that one separate from the others in my head, but I took Spanish in high school and German in college so if I’m trying to construct a sentence in either language I’ll often get words mixed up. When I was in SE Asia, I would sometimes try to think of a word in Thai or Lao and Spanish would come out, because I seem to also have a sub-grouping of “travel languages” (have been to Latin America a few times as an adult).

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Yes, and I’ve heard that it’s common among adult language learners. . I started learning French at about eight or nine, which is still pretty young, and studied it for years and years. I studied Russian intensively in university. Even at the end of university after four years of studying Russian and not speaking French (beyond the extent that I lived in a franco-Ontarian region), I was still grasping around for a Russian word and coming up with the French one. Apparently it’s due to the way your brain organizes the different languages you learn–there’s a space for mother tongue/s, and one for adult language learning in a different “file.”

      For example, when I mentioned this to my husband, who was brought up speaking two different languages and didn’t learn English until he was about six, he looked at me like I was insane. He doesn’t have any issues with words popping up in the wrong languages, which I posit to the fact that they’re all sort of interchangeably native to him. I do think that if he picked up another language, he would start having that problem, though.

      1. Jen RO*

        Huh, this is interesting and makes sense (see my post below about never slipping into English – my second language – when I’m searching for a word). I started learning English really young (4) and other languages when I was older (20s), so I guess English and Romanian both got classified under “mother tongue(s)” and the other got filed under “adult learned”.

    4. Ekaterin*

      Oh goodness, yes! I used to sprinkle French into my Arabic and Afrikaans, and now I’m unsuccessfully using Afrikaans to bridge gaps in my Spanish. (As if my students didn’t already think I was weird enough!)

    5. nep*

      I can see this. Similar experience — I was once among some people who spoke a language I didn’t know — I kept going into another language I’d recently started to learn. Made no sense but that’s where my brain went. I reckon there’s been research along these lines. Good question for a linguistics expert.

    6. CoffeeLover*

      All the languages I’ve learned have been European and I find a lot of them have similar words which messes me up. I sometimes can’t remember if a word is actually from the language I’m trying to speak or from a different one. I even do it when speaking English and that’s my main language!

    7. Shell*

      I do this all the time, and I learned the two languages in question when I was a kid! I think it’s just a quirk of being multilingual.

    8. Dan*

      In other countries, their “English” may be a mix of English and the local language. Hinglish, for example, is a mix of Hindi and English.

    9. Jen RO*

      Always. English is my second language, but I speak it fluently (things just come out, I don’t usually have to think too much). I have also learned Spanish, French, and German, but I’m much better in Spanish than the other two. Whenever I have to speak [language-I-don’t-know-well] (i.e. French or German) and I have to think of a word… Spanish comes out. With French, it’s not that bad, because words are similar, but it really doesn’t work in German :P The funny thing is that I never accidentally slip in English, it’s always Spanish!

    10. blackcat*

      I learned French starting at age 10 and Spanish starting at 18.

      The first few weeks of learning Spanish were AWFUL. I was so used to just flipping my brain into foreign language mode and being able to speak fluently. I’d do that, and only French would come out (Duh. I knew no Spanish).

      The thing that made me finally able to separate the two was a 2 month immersion experience in Spanish (speaking it every day, all the time, no English speakers around).

      French & Spanish is a bit easier because if the word in one language comes to mind, it often cues the word in the other. Generally, my internal translation went from French -> Spanish when speaking and Spanish -> French when listening. My French was good enough that I did not translate French -> English or vise versa (I wouldn’t say that I was truly fluent, but solidly proficient. Being able to speak/read/etc without translating in my head was SO NICE. I wish I still had that).

      Now that my skills in both have deteriorated, I still often go to French first when I want a Spanish word. Eg, I think “What is the spanish word for work?” and my brain goes “Travailler. Trabajar.” That helps in part because there are patterns for finding the Spanish word from the french that I learned. In that example, the v->b, ll->j, and -er verb -> -ar verb patterns all appear. So French word + pattern works. But sometimes that fails miserably. For example, “to buy” is “acheter” in french and “comprar” in Spanish.

    11. AdAgencyChick*

      Sort of. I learned Spanish as a child and German as an adult. I’m really out of practice with the Spanish, so even though at one time I was actually bilingual (since I was communicating exclusively in Spanish with the couple who babysat me for several years), and took Spanish in high school, now when I try to speak Spanish I find myself putting German grammar into it, because I’ve had so much more practice with the German in the interim.

    12. Noah*

      Yes, I grew up around lots of Spanish and really learned it and Greek as an adult. When I’m searching for a word in one, sometimes the other comes out. Also took 4 years of Latin in jr high and high school and sometimes I still slip into that, especially with Spanish.

    13. Revanche*

      Oh yes. I learned a smattering of Spanish, Italian and Mandarin as a teen and frequently mix up my Spanish and Italian. It was a bit awkward when an old woman asked me for directions in Cantonese, in NY where I myself was a tourist, and all I could think to ask was “adonde vas?”

  30. LisaLee*

    Does anyone know of any good resources for learning Turkish? I’m looking to go abroad for about a year in the near future and need to acquire at least basic conversational language skills. I’m looking for something more like a textbook + audio course or an online course, not a “pick it up quick” thing like Rosetta Stone. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of resources for this language unlike Spanish or French.

    I get a tutor for one hour a week through a small community scholarship, but that’s it for in-person help. I’m sort of at a loss for how to even begin.

    1. katamia*

      Check out the FSI course for it. I’ll put the link in another comment.

      Also, watch Turkish movies, try to read news articles (especially on a familiar topic–the BBC is good for this because it has a bunch of languages available), and music. I listen to a lot of Turkish music, and I could recommend some specific bands/singers I like if you’re interested. You get so much good practice from just interacting with the language outside of the textbook, although I definitely understand–I like to learn languages out of a textbook when I’m first starting, too. But I learned Hindi very quickly when I started, and I think watching so many movies and listening to so much music helped me a lot with my fluency there.

    2. GraceT*

      At http://www.Italki.com you can find native Turkish speakers to chat with. You can get a language exchange partner, someone who speaks Turk and wants to learn English. You can teach each other. You can also buy very affordable online lessons. I use the site to learn sign language. I get private lessons over Skype.

      http://www.Fluentin3months.com is a good resource for learning HOW to learn a language. That blogger learned Turkish and recommends this resource: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0415427037

  31. Raia*

    Anyone have suggestions for a calendar app that syncs well across Android and Mac platforms? Google Calendar and iCal don’t like to talk I guess, and iCal has my primary google account as this ugly dark shade of magenta… I’m usually not so petty about the visuals, but this magenta is just not cutting it for me.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Google Calendar has apps for iOS and Android. You can get Google Calendar and iCal to sync, but it’s not great. I use Google calendar on my (Mac) laptop, iPhone, and iPad.

    2. LizB*

      I just use Google Calendar in the browser on my Macbook, and I have the Calendar app on my Android phone. I almost always have a browser open, so it’s not a big deal to click on my gCal bookmark when I need to look at it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        This is what I do. I avoid iCal like the plague and just use Google calendar in the web browser (MacBook Air / Nexus 5x user).

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think you can change the color of the Google calendar in iCal! Right click on the calendar name in the left sidebar and it should give you a choice of colors (if I’m understanding your issue correctly).

    4. Raia*

      I can change the colors in iCal of the more general things listed under iCloud, like work and home, but not the color of my actual Gmail account. I have a Windows laptop, iPad, and Android phone, so if I used the iCloud designation for events, it wouldn’t transfer to my gCal… I think.

      Perhaps the long term solution is to have all Apple products. But the short term solution is clear, thanks AAMers!

  32. ginger ale for all*

    It’s Girl Scout cookie time and I have only been approached by parents and not one scout to buy this year. Am I a crabby old woman by wondering if the good old days of having kids hoof it around the neighborhood or at the very least e-mailing me a query from themselves are gone? I had to sell them my self and my parents never helped out except for being a customer each year for a few boxes. I am now carrying around a $20 for the off chance that an actual child asks me if I want any cookies just so I am ready.

      1. Nina*

        Ditto. I’ve seen them setting up tables at the grocery stores and places like Target, but that’s it. Come to think of it, I can’t remember the last time I saw a door-to-door cookie seller.

    1. TootsNYC*

      They’re not going to be hoofing it around the neighborhood, and kid today don’t actually have as much free time or freedom to move around. And parents don’t have that much time to take their kids selling either.

      When do you actually encounter kids, in normal life?
      In my life, it’s pretty limited, actually.

      1. peanut butter kisses*

        I have been told to go to certain grocery stores at certain times only to not see a stand. My schedule is a single persons schedule and kids just aren’t a regular part of my life but my friends have scouts as kids and I am okay with them e-mailing or phoning me but each time I suggest that I would buy more if only their kid would ask me directly, I get no response. I never considered myself a scary person before but apparently I am.

      2. Dan*

        Yeah… I don’t answer my apartment door if I’m not expecting company. Besides, we have a no soliciting policy in the complex.

        It’s not like kids are going to come up to me on the street and say “hey mister, wanna buy some cookies?”

        I think times have gotten to the point where parents don’t let their kids knock on doors of people they don’t know, and people don’t answer doors when they aren’t expecting company.

    2. Tara R.*

      Girl Guide leader here.

      Typically, we try to get most of the girl’s selling done during blitzes– we park in front of grocery stores/banks, sell all day, and go through as many cases as we can. Door-to-door selling is all but dead. Parents don’t have time, kids can’t go alone, there’s less of a “neighbourhood culture” that enables that sort of thing, and people are getting ruder and ruder to the little angels they’re opening their door to. (“DON’T YOU SEE THE EFFING SIGN?” Well, I’m sure she did, sir, but I don’t think the 11 year old necessarily knew what “No solicitors” meant.)

      Since door-to-door is a no-go, girls’ selling is pretty limited (at least at younger ages). They can hit up any relatives they have who they see regularly, and maybe some family friends. That’s not enough to sell what they need to, so parents do the rest.

      1. Tara R.*

        I’ll add that even for those in the 13-18 age range, selling can have difficulties. I was selling at a blitz as a 16-year-old junior leader since the younger girls hadn’t shown up for their shift, and one middle-aged man told me he was only buying because I was so beautiful, and asked me on a date. Another guy told me he would buy a whole case if I performed sexual favours for him. The whole thing left me pretty shaken, and I’ve avoided selling since– and yes, I asked my mom to take my case to work with her every year afterwards. (I’m still baffled. Those uniforms are the most unflattering thing on the Earth! 16 year old me looked so young I was still being given children’s menus!)

        1. Elizabeth West*


          I sold at a table at the gift shop my parents owned when we were growing up. When buying, I usually got them from a coworker at Exjob whose girls sold them. She would bring the order form to work. It was way easier than trying to find a table somewhere and we could get a jump on the kind we wanted. I’ve stopped buying them, mostly because I’m trying to cut down on eating them! I can always support the organization in other ways.

          But I still won’t touch any Boy Scout stuff because of their non-inclusive policies.

      2. Ekaterin*

        I was a Girl Scout 20 years ago, and even then most of the girls in my troop weren’t going door-to-door to sell cookies. (The only doors I remember going to were neighbors who called my house, knowing I was a Girl Scout, asking me to stop by so they could order!) I participated in a lot of grocery store sales (we called it “tabling”) and sold to my relatives and the aforementioned neighbors. (My dad was a SVP at his company and didn’t want employees to feel pressured to buy, so no sales there for me.)

        A friend of mine lived down the street from the local college’s dorms, and would sell door-to-door to students!

      3. Colette*

        Yeah, my group goes door to door during a meeting, but that is because the leaders are supervising. Many people aren’t comfortable with their children going out on their own unless they know the people, and a lot of people don’t know all their neighbors.

      4. blackcat*

        Wow. I went door to door in my neighborhood with a buddy at around age 6. I was never more than 100 yards from a house with adults I knew. I guess that would get my parents in serious trouble these days…?

        1. Colette*

          I don’t think the concern is so much that the parents would get in trouble so much that some people don’t know their neighbours and don’t feel comfortable sending their child out unsupervised.

    3. edj3*

      I had to sell them myself too. My mom was a non-traditional college student and she parked me at age 6 at the main entrance to the student union with my boxes and boxes of cookies. I sold 75 boxes and naively thought that selling would always be so easy. Ha!

      As for nowadays, I’ve had two opportunities to buy from Girl Scouts. A co-worker, whose daughters are Scouts, brought them in to work and parked them in his cube. He’d sent out an email saying if you’re interested, stop by and his girls would talk to you about the cookies. And they did, they were well-mannered and knew their info.

      And then two days later, a couple of girls were out selling cookies, going door to door. Their parents were nearby, and it was daylight. So it happens, just not like it did when I was a Scout and Moby Dick was still a minnow.

    4. periwinkle*

      The new thing seems to be online sales. A friend and a co-worker each have daughters who are using the GS digital sales option – each girl has a website with a video sales pitch she recorded plus online ordering form. The local troops wisely set up shop not just at grocery stores but also at Petsmart. They know we pet owners are suckers. Mmmm, Tagalongs…

      When I was a Girl Scout I *hated* selling door-to-door. Loathed it. That was the reason I quit just after making Junior.

  33. Fleur*

    Anyone here have experience with jury duty in the US? My court apparently doesn’t allow personal electronics at all for prospective jurors, so I’m wondering what I should bring when me to entertain myself. Physical book recommendations that aren’t too heavy but will still last me potentially several days? Good snacks/lunch to take with me that doesn’t require microwaving? Anything else to improve the waiting experience?

    1. danr*

      It’s been a few years since I served, but jurors couldn’t take anything with them into the courtroom. Other than that, books and laptops were allowed into the jury waiting room. The laptops were locked in an office when we went to the courtroom to see if our numbers were chosen for the immediate jury pool. If you have to go, the first hour is spent in an orientation to jury duty, and then groups of potential jurors are taken to the court rooms for “voir dire”, the introduction of the attorneys and the questioning to see if the lawyers want you on the jury. You get to say something about yourself too. The judge will tell the jurors what the introduction should consist of. We were told not to bring food with us. We got about an hour or so for lunch. There may be a cafeteria and courts are usually in a town with plenty of fast restaurants nearby. I usually ate in a nearby sub shop.
      My duty was one week or one trial. It’s even shorter now, one day or one trial.
      As for the time needed, many criminal trials are short. I served on two and they took a total of two days.

      1. Fleur*

        Yeah, from what I’m reading the court I’m at doesn’t even allow electronics in the waiting room. And hmm, I guess I should just bring money for lunch then, and a few books. If I just have a book bag and my keys/wallet, they should allow that, right?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Security at the higher courts, such as county level, can be very tight. They may let you bring a tote bag with books and munchies into a jury waiting room, but they definitely won’t let you bring it in the court room. Don’t bring anything in that you would be upset if you never saw again. They should warn you of that. Even though the jury room is locked, that does not necessarily mean your stuff is safe.
      If you have time to go to see the court before the appointed day, that might be helpful. There should be a security guard or clerk that can answer some questions for you.

      1. Fleur*

        I think we get to call a number the day before to confirm stuff, so maybe I can ask my questions then. Definitely locking my phone in my car, but I’m really not used to being without music and any sort of electronics while waiting, so this will be quite an experience.

        1. TootsNYC*

          when you call that number the day before, it’s likely to be a recording. So don’t count on asking questions then.

        2. LAMM*

          When I had to call in for jury duty, it was an automated system where you called, punched in the number on your summons, and then an automated voice told you if you had to go in or not. I’m not sure if there was an option to get to a live person, but my instructions said to call after 5pm, so I’m guessing not.

          So I’d call before then just to be sure you can talk to an actual person.

    3. Mimmy*

      I think every court is a little different. I had my first ever jury duty experience last June at the county courthouse. I brought my iPhone and Kindle to keep me entertained while in the waiting room. If you were called upstairs to the courtrooms, you had to leave any personal items on a table at the front of the waiting room or you could have items locked up. I don’t remember if I had to leave my purse as well. I don’t know how it works beyond that because my group never got past the voir dire part because they couldn’t get an available interpreter for one of the Spanish-speaking litigants. We didn’t even get to hand in our questionnaires. Sat around for a good hour or two doing absolutely nothing (since we didn’t have our belongings with us).

      The court house I went to had a snack machine and was within walking distance of several cafes and a couple of fast food places.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      That’s tough, and it really varies from court to court so you may not even be sure until you get there the first day. When I had jury duty a few years ago they allowed electronics and even had wifi in the waiting room. I think we just had to put our electronics away when we entered the courtroom.

      I brought my knitting (bamboo circular needles with a plastic cable, definitely don’t bring metal needles) which turned out to be a great thing to do during jury selection (I even purposely brought my tiny blunt-pointed scissors so they wouldn’t get confiscated, but I forgot that I had another pair of pointy scissors at the bottom of my knitting bag, and I had to check them with security, then I forgot to pick them up at the end of the day. RIP knitting scissors). During jury selection you need to be paying attention somewhat to the questions they are asking the other potential jurors, even if you’re not in the box. So knitting was perfect because it was something to do, but I could still listen to the proceedings fully. The bailiff even complemented my knitting on the way out.

      If you can afford it, research lunch options nearby and pick something fun, it will give you something to look forward too and courts generally give you a full hour or more for lunch.

  34. salad fingers*

    Sorry if this has been asked here before, but favorite subreddits? I haven’t paid attention to reddit consistently ever, but recently stumbled upon TIL (today i learned) and am seriously enjoying. I’ve also been stalking the dentistry one for a couple weeks now because I am a crazy woman. And I read intersting AMAs when I hear about them. Tell me about all the fun stuff I’m missing so I can never leave the internet again.

      1. salad fingers*

        Nice, thank you! This scratches an itch very much like TIL. K-holed on it a bit last night.

    1. StillHealing*

      If you click on the “Random” link on the top, it will pull up different subreditts. I subscribed to several that I found by clicking Random. WHATISTHISTHING and OLDSCHOOLCOOL often have fun posts.

    2. Jen RO*

      A few from my list:
      AskReddit / AskMen / AskWomen – sometimes shit questions, sometimes entertaining ones, but good for time-wasting
      BestOf – links to good posts on other subreddits
      ExplainLikeImFive – explanations in simple terms for various things
      OddlySatisfying – well, oddly satisfying things, like things fitting perfectly in other things, color-sorted M&Ms, calligraphy… (I am still very frustrated that I can’t find the scientific term for this “oddly satisfying” feeling!)
      PowerWashingPorn – like OddlySatisfying, just with power washing befores and afters. I live in an apartment building, but now I really, really want a power washer.
      OutOfTheLoop – a place to ask for explanations of trending things you don’t understand. Recent popular posts: what is up with Chris Rock and the Oscars, what about Kanye West and butt stuff, etc. I usually find out I was so out of the loop I didn’t know there *was* a loop!
      ProgressPics – weight-loss (and sometimes weight/muscle-gain) sub. I am not trying to lose weight, but the transformations are wow!
      RedditLaqueristas – nail polish. (The missing “c” is not my typo, that’s the actual subreddit name.)
      ShowerThoughts – well, shower thoughts. (People have waaaay better ideas in the shower than I do…)
      FirstWorldProblems – what it says on the the box, just random first world problems.
      SeventhWorldProblems – I admit I don’t really understand it, but it’s like a very f’ed-up sci-fi/horror story.
      SubredditDrama – I love this and I am not ashamed. Buttery drama!
      TipOfMyTongue / WhatIsThisThing / WhatsThatBook – helping people remember or identify things.
      UnresolvedMysteries – mostly Investigation Discovery type stuff (unsolved murders, serial killers) and some random non-crime mysteries sometimes.

      Plus, all your favorite shows have a subreddit. I am subscribed to way too many… One of my favs was UnderTheDome, because the entire subreddit hate-watched the show, which resulted in hilarious discussion threads.

      1. salad fingers*

        Holy crap, yes, thank you. Pretty much love the sound of all of these, especially OddlySatisfying (you’re right – other than a sense of order, which only applies to some of the things on there, what is the oddly satisfied feeling called? Has an almost ASMR like quality to it). Goodbye friends and family, I’ll be sleuthing :-)

    3. Anon the Great and Powerful*

      My favourites:
      /r/guinea pigs – adorable guinea pigs, need I say more
      /r/language learning – for good language learning advice
      /r/frugal – for learning how to be cheap!
      /r/eatcheapandhealthy – same as above!

      1. salad fingers*

        Oooh, excellent, thank you. I feel like I could read frugality stuff forever and never get bored, though I’m super inconsistently frugal. Have you read Possum Living?

  35. Kate*

    I am hoping this post will bring the cat-loving AAM-ers to the rescue!

    A year and a half ago, we adopted a tiny kitten from the dumpster near my office. He was in ROUGH shape. He was being beaten up by a bunch of guys with sticks, kids were throwing rocks at him, he was covered in diarrhea and mud, etc.

    Over a year and half, he’s gotten to be in fantastic shape, although he does have seizures every couple weeks. We got him checked out at a cat neurologist (good thing those cheap where we live) and it’s not a liver thing or a blood infection. Either he was born with it (which may explain being kicked out of the litter initially) or he acquired it as a brain injury from the beatings.

    Anyways, either way, it’s not going away.

    Usually, he gets a kind of “aura” a few days before a seizure. He’ll start getting extra cuddly and attached, and he’ll poop outside his box. Wait a few days, he’ll have his seizure, and then go back to normal.

    Except that now he’s completely stopped pooping in his box. He’ll still pee in it, but he hasn’t pooped inside the box in two weeks. He doesn’t poop anywhere else in the house, just right beside the box. No change in environment, no change in kitty litter, no change in food.

    What to do?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No advice on your question (maybe your vet can help?), but I just want to say that something is terribly wrong with people that this happened, and I’m so glad that you gave him a loving home and he’s doing well now.

      1. Kate*

        I’ll definitely ask his vet the next time we go for his Valium- he gets a shot up the butt after every seizure, so they know us by name now :)

        He’s a genuinely fabulous cat. Very affectionate and cuddle, not at all like some of the stories of feral cats I’ve heard on here. Bonus, he’s great with both our dog and baby.

    2. Allison Mary*

      Hmm… are you familiar with Jackson Galaxy? I know this particular issue is related to your cat having special needs, but this is something I’ve seen him address at least a few times.

      If you’re not familiar with him, he’s on a show called My Cat From Hell. More than occasionally, there are episodes with a cat who has slight behavior problems like this, but they’re due to some kind of a medical condition. Perhaps there might be some helpful advice on his website, or you could start watching the show (the episodes were all on Netflix, last I checked a few months ago)?

      Also, I do second Alison’s comment. Those people were crappy human beings who deserve a very special level of hell, and I think it’s amazing that you brought him in and gave him the love and care he needs. :)

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        There was one show where the cat was doing something similar, it turned out to have some problem with its hips so it wasn’t able to climb up over the lip into the box. I think they cut out the front of a rubber maid tub and made him a new box he could just walk into without having to climb up and he started to use it again.

    3. Marzipan*

      My cat tends to get cystitis when he gets stressed, which causes it to be painful for him to urinate, which led to him blaming the litter tray for the discomfort and refusing to go in it anymore. During one bout he eventually succeeded in weeing on a plastic bag on the stairs, so for a long time would only go there, on occasions where he would previously have used the litter tray (he normally goes outside, but I keep him shut in when I’m eg away for the weekend). I literally used to have to spread a layer of bags over that stair! Our current compromise is that I’ve put the litter tray there, and now he’s prepared to use it again. We’re working on relocating it to somewhere less weird.

      Anyway, the point of all my rambling is, it sounds to me a bit like something (maybe the seizures?) has reset the bit of his brain where he stores ‘appropriate place to poo’ from ‘inside the box’ to ‘outside the box’. Right now, he probably just thinks that’s where you go. Dunno how best to convince him otherwise, but in the meantime I recommend plastic bags!

      1. AnotherTeacher*


        This is what it sounds like to me as well. Could you try a larger, shallow pan around the regular litterbox and fill it with a different kind of litter? That may slowly get him in a routine of covering his poop, and he may return to the regular box.

        Jackson Galaxy is a fantastic resource, too.

    4. Rebecca*

      I know this won’t solve the problem, but until you can figure out the reason why the poo outside the box is happening, maybe you could put a puppy piddle pad next to the box, or even place them all the way around the box? I did this when one of my cats thought that standing with all 4 legs in side the box constituted peeing in the box, and sometimes the pee went down the side. He’s gotten much better with practice :) but the puppy pads were invaluable during that time. I put the edges under the box itself so if he pawed at it, it stayed in place.

    5. Belle diVedremo*

      Have you talked with your vet about pre-emptive help if you can see an “aura” and recognize the pre-seizure state?

      Also, I got a length of flannel back vinyl (eg tablecloth vinyl) and set the (much smaller) litter box to catch mistakes. My girl has decided it’s a good place to barf, which I really appreciate.

      Thanks for giving your little guy a warm home.

    6. april ludgate*

      My cat started pooping outside her litter box last year, not as often as you describe but I googled it and someone somewhere recommended adding a second litter box. I took that advice and haven’t had an issue since! Apparently some cats are extra picky about not peeing and pooping in the same place, or they decide it’s not clean enough and want another option.

  36. Jen RO*

    I’ve been meaning to post this for a while – thanks for the advice on my work-crush! I think talking to someone (even if “someone” was people I’ll never see IRL) was just what I needed. Since then I’ve seen the guy in question socially a few times (in a group of coworkers) and everything has been fine and crush-free.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Mine went away when he got a haircut that made him look pop-eyed.

      (and years later, I found out he was behaving like a turd in his marriage)

    2. Super_UnderGround_Anon_ForThis*

      I am so happy for you! This is a tough situation I have been in a few times now. Why oh why do I constantly get 6’4” ripped Latino Gods as my co-workers and supervisors! Why????

      A few things that have worked for me:
      1. Look to see if there is anything in my marriage making me unhappy. Dry spell? I try to focus on that and re-ignite husband lust.

      2. Find excuses to distant myself at work. Starve the beast.

      3. This is probably TMI, and if so I’m sorry, but it has worked for me. If the first two steps fail – 1 or 2 bait sessions with crush as focus. Usually it eliminates all of the pent up desire and the crush quickly loses the appeal and forbidden fruit element.

  37. fposte*

    The front tuck. Apparently this became a thing when I wasn’t looking, and now it’s everywhere online. Do people here do it, or is it just for catalogues and Instagram?

    1. acmx*

      You mean where a person just tucks in either the front on their shirt or one side of the front of their shirt? Yeah, guys do it down here. Not a lot of women are wearing shirts that can tuck in, though.
      (Of course, I haven’t been out and about in a long time…)

    2. AdAgencyChick*

      Guilty! On occasion, anyway. I mostly don’t tuck, but sometimes I feel like front-tuck looks a little better.

      I misread this post at first and thought you were asking about tucking in the drag-queen sense.

      1. fposte*

        I wasn’t, but people shouldn’t let that stop them from volunteering :-).

        I’m intrigued to see people doing it even with sweaters–I would have thought that was more a woven-shirt thing, but I guess not.

      1. fposte*

        You tuck in just the front six inches or so of a shirt. Google “front tuck shirt” and you’ll see loads of examples.

    3. New Math*

      I read an article that referred to it as a faux tuck, designed to look effortlessly casual while in fact looking engineered. The author wondered if the next trend would be to only use one sleeve on our shirts.

      I find most shirts in shops these days are way too long for me, so it might be worth a try. In 20 years, though, we will probably laugh at ourselves the way we now do when faced with 80s photos of turned up collars!

      1. New Math*

        Also I will admit to a back tuck which must be hidden by a jacket. It keeps a long top from hanging below the jacket without completely tucking.

    4. Ultraviolet*

      I do it all the time! I like it because 1) having the extra material/texture right at my waistband makes me feel like my beer belly is less prominent, and 2) I think I look better over all when my shirt doesn’t cover my hips, at least from the front, and lately I’m not finding shirts I like that are short enough to do that without front-tucking.

      I do it with knits and wovens and sweaters. I don’t usually wear button-front shirts at all, but I haven’t really found that they work well front-tucked for me. I think the button placement really makes it or breaks it.

      I read a lot of fashion blogs and online catalogs. Pretty sure I picked it up from Loft’s styling.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I like it too–it’s comfortable. I like having the length, but in the front it can get in the way. I actually like how it looks.

        1. Ultraviolet*

          Yes, definitely!

          Another thing I like about it is that it shows your belt, which adds a little texture to your outfit. I’m not big on accessories in general so I appreciate making my belt count!

    5. Diluted_TortoiseShel*

      Huh. That was a thing in middle-school in the 90’s. Along with the popped collars. You had to wear a denim/cotton hybrid shirt to make the look work. Guess it’s coming back.

  38. Jberry*

    I deleted my Facebook account last night. This morning, the first thing I thought about was checking Facebook. I’m committed to keeping it deleted and being FB free, but I wanted to hear others’ experiences about living in a FB-free world.

    1. Dan*

      I never started one. I am out of the social loop though because of that. Many parties and what not get posted and I don’t know of them because people forget to tell me.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve thought about it many times–especially around election periods. :P But I have too many friends in far-flung places, and I don’t want to cut those ties. Facebook, despite its many many many MANY flaws, is the best way to keep in touch with everybody.

      1. Jascha*

        I’m the same. I wish I could leave Facebook, because I often find myself growing annoyed at what’s on my news feed, but some of my friends (especially those who are younger) don’t have any other connections to me. I wish it were possible to keep Facebook Messenger without having an actual Facebook account. (Just deleting the main Facebook app without getting rid of the account is no good; people will still use it to contact me.)

      2. Mimmy*

        I’m with you Elizabeth. I don’t drive, so it’s not like I can just pick up and drive to meet up with a friend or go to an event. I’ve connected / reconnected with a lot of people through FB – I get tickled seeing people I haven’t seen since grade school sharing pictures of their KIDS!!

        I do get tired of the politically-charged posts and some of the unnecessary stuff, like “Jane Smith was tagged in Bob Tucker’s post”. I don’t know Bob, so I don’t really care! lol.

        Facebook is addicting though, and I honestly cannot imagine being without it right now, sad to say. My sister gave it up for Lent last year, and I think she liked that.

    3. KR*

      I deleted my Facebook page sometime in 2014 and I haven’t looked back. Honestly I feel so much better without it and once you break the habit of always wanting to check it, it’s very easy to forget it.

    4. Doriana Gray*

      Deleted my Facebook when I was still in college (so like, 2008 maybe). I’ve never missed it, and I was on that thing all the time when I was in school.

    5. Older not yet wiser*

      I inactivated my Facebook page “temporarily” last July. Mostly because my feed was beginning to resemble emails from the 90’s-early 00’s. Just silly pictures and trite sayings/poems/essays. And the nasty political swipes. Also, I was ashamed at how much time I spent checking it, even knowing there was nothing worth seeing there. It was like an addiction. It was hard for a few days but I forgot about it after a while. I don’t miss it at all. It has forced me to contact my favorite friends and family members in other ways to stay in touch, which is OK! I may activate it again after the elections…but maybe not. I think I am less stressed without Facebook because I would get really upset with some of the stuff people posted. I was getting way TMI about casual friends and acquaintances.

    6. NicoleK*

      Technically, I’m not FB free. I don’t do much with mine (I barely post). I keep it active mainly to stay in touch with former colleagues and friends/acquaintances that I see infrequently.

    7. Mkb*

      My husband and I both deleted last January and LOVE not having it. It took a few weeks to get used to but I am so glad I deleted and will never go back. I was in college when it came out so I had it for a full 10 years and was so sick of it.

    8. KD*

      I’ve been Facebook free for 3 or 4 years now. And I don’t remember the actual time frame because it just isn’t important anymore. Either someone is a close enough for you to reach out and call them directly or they aren’t.

      I’d rather have 3 good friends in real life than 300 Facebook acquaintances.

    9. Allison Mary*

      I deleted my FB account around… 2011, I think.

      Yes, occasionally I have to ask people to send me actual emails of cool pictures they want to share and whatnot – but generally, it’s been a big improvement in my quality of life. It forces me to reach out and send an actual text message or make an actual call to someone I want to stay in touch with. And I generally find that to be a far more fulfilling connection than simply stalking their Facebook updates/profile.

    10. nep*

      I’ve never been on FB.
      I can see how it would take time to get out of the habit.
      I’m interested to hear what has you committed to being FB-free.

      1. Jberry*

        A couple of things. I didn’t spend that much time on FB, but it was an every day thing and I found that I would use it mindlessly. I also grew frustrated with spending time on activities that weren’t deliberate in nature. I felt like I wasn’t creating anything, that I wasn’t being productive, and that the choices I was making were done out of laziness or easiness. For example, using FB to maintain friendships or passively plan events.

        I started thinking about this over the summer. My thinking crystallized by the fall. I posted that I was considering deleting my page, and got some feedback from friends and family. Most of my friends and family live across the US and around the globe, so FB was a great way to keep in touch. Over the last year or so, I deleted about 90% of friends and was left with a core group of family members and high school/college/grad school friends. But the benefits were finally outweighed by negatives.

    11. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

      I deactivated my Facebook account for just over a year. It was really tough at first to not reach for the button to check it. Part of the reason I turned it off was that I’d just started working from home and it was too easy a distraction. I eventually went back on only because my friends use it to organize events and they would always have to copy and paste the details for me in separate emails, which they were kind enough to do, but i still missed out on things.

      It gets easier- I’d say after about 2-3 months I stopped thinking about it so much. (Yes, took me that long).

      Now that I’m back on, I’ve done 3 things that make it so don’t even want to check it very often:
      1. I use a Chrome browser extension called “Kill News Feed” that literally stops the news feed from loading. So I can still get messages and event invites from friends. But I don’t get sucked in to the feed.

      2. I prune prune prune my friend list – under 150 people. And even those, I change settings to never show posts from some (but even after time, i’ve just unfriended those ranty misinformed family members because who cares).

      3. I never post or like or comment on facebook. I’ll text friends if I like something they shared, etc. but the less activity I put into the FB, the less I need to check others’ responses to my posts, etc.

      Good luck and enjoy your new free time!

    12. mondegreen*

      I didn’t get one until August of 2015, and then only because everyone uses it for events planning and job postings. The admissions department (law school) strongly encouraged us to join the Class of 2018 page. I was definitely out of the loop before signing up, but now I have to make a conscious effort to keep it from taking more of my time than a daily check for events requires. There’s no time to even skim what everyone posts, and I feel guilty about that but there are far more urgent things on my plate.

      After graduation, I’ll definitely delete it. I’ve gotten ads (and suggested posting links, and suggested search terms…) for things I searched for and sites I visited outside the browser and account that I use *only* for Facebook, which is far more intrusive than I’m comfortable with.

    13. Rahera*

      I sometimes think about deleting the thing. Going through a tough friendship breakup at the moment and FB does not help. I unfollowed the friend in question so as not to do anything irreparable, and I try to have three days a week completely free of FB. I also tend to email friends I am also friends with on FB rather than IMing them, to remind me that if I did delete the thing, it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

      Good luck sticking to the deletion. I hope you find it very freeing :).

    14. Revanche*

      I have always been FB-free but I am quite active online under a pseudonym (blogging, twitter). I love that I’ve made some wonderful friends and my online experience is very tailored to be an enjoyable experience (I pick who I follow with no pressure about who to follow because of peer or family pressure.) I’m out of the loop on many social things and that’s how I like it. If someone wants me to know something, they’ll email or I’ll find out eventually six to twelve months later via word of mouth. Hasn’t bothered me a bit, honestly. The last couple of years have involved a little cheating in that the friends or family who are VERY FB active are told to friend my husband who will pass along any posts that are relevant to me. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. Works well enough for us :)

    15. StillHealing*

      I tried to do Facebook twice but it just wasn’t me. I got sucked into the Facebook games and felt I needed to respond to all the game invitations and requests. My narcissistic family of origin kept stalking me and causing problems for me. We knew a lot of the same people and had a lot of the same “friends”.

      My PTSD was triggered often. The High School Bully kept trying to friend me until I blocked her. She had not changed at all. She is now decades older, of course, but still an obnoxious and mean bxtch. There were people I was glad to be in contact with again but others who I was very uncomfortable with.

      The last time I deleted my Facebook account was over four years ago. I do not miss it. It has not caused me any issues at all. It actually helps keep my abusive family members out of my life completely. I feel better NOT being on Facebook.

  39. INTP*

    I’m about to do something that feels kind of crazy and irresponsible, and I need thoughts.

    So, I’m a person who loves to travel and needs adventure, and I spent my early-mid twenties living in a bunch of different cities and a couple of countries. I’m now living with my parents for a year (exchanging labor for board) or so while saving to buy a condo (and deciding where I want that condo to be, because I work remotely). I feel like every spare penny should be going to savings and paying off my (modest) student loan right now, both to get out of here sooner and because I guess on some level it feels like someone who doesn’t pay rent shouldn’t pay for luxuries either. But I’m also bored out of my mind and a bit miserable and feel like I have nothing to look forward to until I’ve managed to bank $30,000 for a down payment.

    Anyways…I’m about to pull the trigger on a trip to Belize. Seriously. I’ve wanted to go for years, and in a moment of boredom-googling I discovered that the airfare (on legit airlines) is only about $430 from here, and I can find a budget hotel with decent reviews for less than $50/night. I’m pretty sure I can pull it off for less than $1500 (conservative estimate) which I can definitely afford, it’s just $1500 less that will be in my savings at the end of the year. And around the same price as or cheaper than a domestic 1-week vacation, with activities I can’t do in the US.

    I should do it, right?

    1. NDQ*

      If you are actually saving/investing and paying down student loan debt then yes! Take a trip and leave that guilt behind. We all need joy.


    2. Jascha*

      Definitely! It sounds like you live life responsibly, and have an equally responsible plan for continuing in the same vein. But what’s all that responsibility for if you aren’t allowed to enjoy yourself every so often? You’ve gone to all the effort of finding affordable flight and hotel options, you’re financially able to do it with leftovers afterward, and it’s a dream you’ve had for years. This kind of life experience is what all that responsibility in other areas is allowing you to do!

    3. Older not yet wiser*

      Absolutely! That will push your timetable back – what – a couple of months? No big deal at all. Totally worth it. Go and enjoy every moment!

    4. Nella*

      Do the vacation. Travel while you can do the activities you want to do while your body is up for it. Also 1500 is cheap for a vacation. Me and my partner spent 25k on a vacation 2 years ago. It was either buy a new car or take a trip and we took the trip. I had major guilt after booking it, but once the trip started it was worth it. Now I have experiences that most people only dream about. We can also say done that, been there, and you should try to do this and yes I would do it again.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You banked 30k? Yesssh, do this, soonly.
      Part of running a budget and having savings is not to allow yourself to fall into a life of deprivation. There is no point to having savings and keeping a budget if you are not putting things into your life that recharge you or enrich your days. It’s about balance. If you were taking trips on a regular basis, I would say something else. But you are saying that you have been living a fairly strict budget for a while. Go have fun.

      1. TootsNYC*

        ($30,000 is the goal–she’s not there yet–at least that’s impression I got)

        But I totally think she should go.

        It’s important to not start resenting the savings plan. Even when my parents were coming back from Chapter 13, their counselor insisted they have a “fun” budget.

      2. INTP*

        Oh no, I need to bank $30k to make a 20% down payment on an apartment, but I’m less than halfway there. But I think the rest of your advice still applies, thank you.

    6. Allison Mary*

      I think if I were in your shoes, what would sway my decision is quantifying/calculating the actual number of days/months/weeks that doing this trip would set me back from reaching my other goals. And of course you personally have to decide what your own tipping point would be, and I’d imagine you’d do so by weighing the satisfaction/enjoyment of the Belize trip against the satisfaction/enjoyment of reaching your other financial goals within a certain time frame.

      For me personally, if the Belize trip was only going to set me back from paying off my student loans by a month or two, I would probably do it. If it was going to set me back by six months… ehh, that’s a little more of a time-sacrifice towards my goals than I’m probably comfortable making. If it was going to set me back by a year – I definitely wouldn’t do it.

      So my personal recommendation would be to do an intensive analysis of the numbers (TO THE SPREADSHEET-CAVE, BATMAN!) and try to weigh those numbers against the emotional satisfaction/fulfillment that’s at stake.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And, is there something else you could do that’s not as expensive as a full-blown vacation? Could you get a massage or sign up for some classes for exercise-of-your-choice? Have a day where you don’t get out of your PJs and just read trashy novels?

        Escaping can be good. But if it’s going to make it so that you’re in your parents’ place longer, is it really worth it? On the other hand, when you do have your own place, you may not have the money any more to just jet off whenever you feel like it because the mortgage, she is a bitch. In which case, you’re going to have to figure out cheap ways to escape/fulfill your cravings for adventure.

    7. Treena*

      Oh my gosh, yes do it! I did Belize for 7 days/6 nights for a little less than $1k per person, including flights (used points, so the flights were $75 pp) and $300 worth of activities per person. The rest was food, hotels, in-country transportation, and souvenirs.

      The way I see it, is you should be rewarding yourself every $10k. It sounds like you already saved the $10, and you should do another treat at the $20k mark!

    8. Tara R.*


      I did… two Mayan ruins, ziplining, cave-tubing, a howler monkey sanctuary, a few days in Ambergris Caye, some time in Belize City, snorkelling, and some other stuff that I’m not remembering right now. It was a ton of fun and I don’t regret the $3600 I could have spent on my university tuition even a little bit.

  40. Jascha*

    Does anyone have suggestions for healthy(ish) places to eat near LAX? I’ll be spending eight days in the area, but won’t have any transportation (though I’m happy to walk where I can) or much time to leave the immediate vicinity of the airport hotel strip. I’m trying to eat responsibly, but at the same time, going to Carl’s Jr 24 times and saying, “I’ll have the turkey burger with no bun” sounds pretty unappealing. Thoughts?

      1. Jascha*

        Oh, thank you for the link! There may be people around who are interested in carpooling, so I can perhaps use it as fuel for persuasion. I’ll look into UberX as well (I presume it’s something different to regular Uber, so I’ll Google for more information).

        1. regina phalange*

          UberX is just cheaper – it’s more like Lyft. You get a person in their car vs. a black sedan or SUV. It’s another option on the app :)

          1. salad fingers*

            UberX is the “regular” Uber right?

            A couple months ago I accidentally took the special one home from an very mundane but sort of (okay, very) drunk night at my best friend’s house. The driver kept asking me if I wanted bottled water or dried fruit slices and was sorta dressed up and I was like oh damn, this guy’s getting 5 stars, so much effort, bravo.

            And then I woke up in the morning to a 40 something dollar receipt (we live close — it’s usually $7) and felt like a total idiot. If I had known, I would have taken the freakin water and mango, damn it.

        2. Lulubell*

          There’s also Uber Pool, which is $5 flat rate I think but is a carpool service with other riders. I’ve never taken it but is a budget option.

          1. Jascha*

            There may be more than one of us in the same area, so that might actually be a good option! I imagine it’s more limited in terms of origins and destinations, though.

    1. Princess Buttercup*

      That’s a tough one. LA is definitely NOT a walking city, unless you are downtown or another neighborhood, and mass transit sucks. The area around LAX (walkable) doesn’t offer much, as it’s mainly hotels and the like (and the hotel restaurants have overpriced mediocre food). Better would be to Uber to a nearby area like El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Venice. I’ll see if I can think of some options for you in those areas…

      1. Jascha*

        Thank you! Yes, I’ve noticed both the mediocrity and the overpriced-ness of the hotel food. I’ve never used Uber and the publicity around it makes me slightly anxious, but I’m sure it’ll be a fine option. Everything I’ve heard tells me public transit is essentially not an option, so I suppose Uber is the way to go!

      2. Princess Buttercup*

        I’ve wracked my brain, but since I moved away from that area about 13 years ago, I can’t think of specific restaurants. However, the Abbot Kinney area of Venice had a lot of good restaurants (from casual to more upscale) at the time and it appears to still offer a good selection of options. You could just Uber over there (probably about 10 – 15 minutes if traffic isn’t bad) and have lots of choices.

        1. Jascha*

          Thanks! I’m getting the clear message that Uber is the way to go, so it’s great to have ideas for where to go once I’m in the car.

    2. CAA*

      When you say “near LAX”, do you mean you’ll be on Century Blvd west of the 405? I know there’s some fast food along the street, and maybe some smaller cafes or diners, but in that area, I’d probably look at the restaurants in the larger hotels. There’s a Marriott and either a Hilton or Hyatt along there.

      It’s hard to walk out of that area. Once you get north of Century, there are a lot of airport parking lots and light industrial areas until you get to Westchester, which is more residential. I would not feel comfortable walking across that industrial area alone after dark, so plan on an uber or something to get back to your hotel if you do go that way. If you are interested in local landmarks and mid-century roadside architecture, head over to Randy’s Donuts at Manchester and La Cienega; it’s one of those places you’ve probably seen the movies (although the donuts themselves are nothing special.)

      1. Jascha*

        Yes, thank you! I’ll be staying in that Marriott, but I’m familiar with their food options and they’re usually either limited or out of my price range. Perhaps I’ll try the restaurants in the other hotels along Century!

        1. KD*

          There are two Marriott hotels kind of in the area. If you are in the one off of Rosecrans there is a bunch of stuff within walking distance. Fast food like things (subway and some Japanese chain I can’t remember the name of) but there is also some more substantial options like Union pizza or Houstons. If you have the driving option and like seafood; I highly recommend the el Segundo fish market for reasonable prices (for the area) and great food. And for 2 meals for the price of 1. Express Chinese off of sepulveda is a great little takeout place. There is an In & Out in the same parking lot too. It has quite the following so it might be an interesting experience if you’ve never tried it before.

          I lived out of the nearby Hyatt house for 3 months. So I did some exploring but mostly I found the food in the area to be mediocre and overpriced.

          1. Jascha*

            I’ll be in the airport Marriott (Google Maps says it’s at 5855 W Century Blvd), but if all of that is in the general area, I’ll definitely have to try it out!

  41. New Math*

    Mama D’s Italian in Manhattan Beach. It’s maybe 8 minutes taxi. Uber was about $6 from the airport Marriott. Homemade spinach ravioli … delicious!

    1. Jascha*

      Thank you! That sounds like an interesting area to explore a little, too, so probably worth the taxi or Uber (and I might be able to convince others to join me).

  42. anon for this*

    My boyfriend just broke up with me and I am shattered. He posted something about it on his facebook page and his friends are now saying such cruel things about me. He was so wonderful to me while we were dating and he was a real gentleman to me while he was saying that we just weren’t right for each other and so reading what his friends are saying is awful. I shouldn’t have looked. His post was to the effect of ‘just to let you know we are no longer together but I wish her the best vein’. Now seeing the other comments and what his friends thought of me , how could I have been so blind to how poorly they thought of me? Ugh. The now ex is a great guy and seeing the comments – I don’t know what to think of how it all has gone down. I am having a hard time sorting out just what the heck happened. I would love to have him back but since he doesn’t want that, I have to accept it and go on.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      His friends are jerks. I’m really sorry that you’re going through this, breakups are always difficult. *hugs* take care of yourself.
      And maybe ‘hide’ your ex on fb or delete him.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed about FB, not only is it not helping but it’s definitely hurting more.
        Try, try to remember you weren’t dating his friends. You were dating him. You are well aware that you cannot control what your friends blurt out, so neither can he control what his friends say. Hopefully, he will look at that and decide to hang out with a better group of people. People will read those comments and say, “This is no one I want to be hanging with..”
        Turn off FB and focus on your own grief for your lost relationship. Cry when you need to and be very attentive to your self-care. This means putting good things into you- good rest, good foods. check in with a close friend or family member.
        I am so sorry.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Agreed with all of what NSNR said! Frankly, if I had friends who insulted someone I had been dating and broke up with, I would be quite upset about that and would get rid of those friends. Because essentially, by insulting you, they are insulting him since he chose you as his girlfriend. And also because they are just jerks. Breakups happen, but playing it out on Facebook with crappy comments is horrible.

          Hang in there. I’ve been through some monumental breakups and I’m not sure anything is worse except the death of a loved one and really, a breakup is a death of sorts. Do everything you can to take care of you and no matter how tempted you are, DO NOT call or text him. Doing so just keeps the wound open. BIG HUGS!

    2. Diluted_TortoiseShel*

      I also wouldn’t take anything they say at face value. I remember when I was young and naive (read 16) the first thing I said once I found out that my friend was broken up with was to call the Guy a D-Bag who did not deserve her.

      It wasn’t even true. He was the nicest guy I knew at the time. I was just trying to make her feel better and not feel like a loser.

      Hopefully you can take some solace in the fact that most of the posters don’t really mean what they are saying. They are just misguidedly trying to make their friend feel better.

    3. LizB*

      Hide that post, and if you can bear it, unfollow/unfriend your ex entirely. You don’t need to see that kind of crap. Your ex might be a great guy, but he obviously has shitty taste in friends — it’s incredibly rude to say nasty things about someone on a public Facebook post when that person can almost certainly see the post. Don’t give their opinions any weight.

      I think your instinct to accept it and move on is a good one, but also give yourself some time to grieve the relationship. Captain Awkward has some excellent posts about ways to take care of yourself after a breakup, and being kind to yourself is the first step. (The second step is unfriending your ex on all social media platforms, at least for a few months, because even if you want to eventually be friends with them, right now seeing their posts will just re-open the wound 99 times out of 100.) Check out her blog, and best wishes in moving on. You will get through this.

    4. Rahera*

      Really sorry to hear this. I suspect his friends might be jumping on the bandwagon and saying the kinds of things you say when your mate has broken up with someone rather than it being specifically about you, but that doesn’t make it any less horrible for you. I would seriously suggest unfollowing those people at the minimum, and unfriending them altogether if you can bear it. You don’t need to be reading trash talk of that kind.

      All the best to you. Captain Awkward has a lot of useful posts, and I hope there is something there that helps a bit. :)

    5. Jean*

      +1 to the advice from NSNR: be kind to and take good care of yourself.
      Best wishes in accepting what has happened and in going on.
      It’s always painful when one half of a couple thinks things are fine while the other half thinks that their pairing is a mismatch. It doesn’t mean that one person is right and the other is wrong. If it’s any comfort, he may be sad about causing you unhappiness even if he didn’t think that your relationship was going to last a lifetime. Ir sounds like he had enough character to end things kindly rather than lapse into cruelty, rudeness, or otherwise injurious behavior. This development is sad, but it doesn’t need to reflect badly on you or make you feel less of a worthwhile person.

      His friends sound like they need to become more mature. As others have said, they are probably trying in an awkward, ineffective, and uninformed way to be good buddies to your ex. Maybe they have never been through a breakup themselves and are thus clueless about the nuanced emotions that are usually involved. They aren’t your concern, however. Do your best to ignore them in real life and to forget about whatever they wrote on FB. (I don’t know FB well enough to make technical suggestions about blocking them, etc.)

  43. The Other Dawn*

    Didn’t have a chance to visit the open thread this weekend, but had to stop by and see the weekly pic of the kitties. SO cute! Oh, and I have a new addition to the family: Tiffany, a ragdoll mix and a diva. I’ll be posting it on my blog at some point this week.

  44. Colleen*

    I am a latecomer and therefore may not get a response, but I will try anyway. Earlier this week, we had a funeral for my brother and a friend and colleague of mine attended the service. She also left a card and a check for the family to use as part of our donations in my brother’s name. I know that this colleague is struggling with her finances to the point where $25 could mean the difference between going out to lunch with co-workers or bringing in leftovers (so, not incredibly poor, but someone who needs to watch every penny). I would like to return this $25 to my friend, but I do not want to offend her. Is there any way to do so?

    1. NewCommenterfromDaBronx*

      Don’t try to return it. Co-worker gave this donation from the heart as a way to support you in your grief. Accept it gracefully & thankfully.

    2. Jean*

      Seems to me she made a decision to do something meaningful to you (and to her) and yes, probably she would be offended. I would keep this friend and just treasure her. Life is long. Someday you’ll be able to repay her, or else you can pay it forward by helping someone else. It doesn’t always have to be an exact reciprocity.

      From what you said she made a sacrifice but it’s not to the point of endangering herself. There’s a big difference between having to bring leftovers to work for lunch and not having any food to bring for lunch.

      If she lives nearby, perhaps you could invite her over to share a meal and/or if your home is flooded with gifts of food you could offer her some of the leftovers so they get used before they spoil.

      Most of all, I’m sorry you lost your brother. Please adjust my advice if it’s not a good fit (e.g. right now you and your family want to be alone for a few days to process everything).

    3. Colleen*

      Thanks. I will take your advice. I was leaning that way anyway — I didn’t want to offend. Thanks for everything.

  45. ginger ale for all*

    First of all, I am sorry for your loss.

    I don’t think you can give it back to her without hurting her. Perhaps you can treat her to lunch or something? I just can’t see a way of giving it back without insulting her dignity and self. I have been in her place and people have tried variations of this to me and it is hurtful. I wanted to treat a friend who really supported me like no other and take her to lunch as a thank you and I chose a place I liked and could afford easily and she picked up the check. I almost cried. She knows you and her budget and she gave you that from her heart. Just write the thank you note and realize how much she wants to be there for you.

    1. Jean*

      >she knows you and her budget and she gave you that from your heart
      You said this much better than I did! Compliments to you and to NewCommenterfromDaBronx

  46. Chalupa Batman*

    Fergus, my office spider, hasn’t been back since I left the weekend I discovered him. I’d like to think he’s ok, but the fly population in my office is definitely up.

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