things I like

Years ago, I used to do occasional round-ups of things I like. It’s been ages since the last one, so here we go.

1. This blanket. This is like fur, except it’s not actual fur. It’s ridiculously soft and cozy, and when you bundle up in it, you will immediately feel a profound inner peace descend upon you. It’s like several years of therapy, a cup of hot tea, and a back rub, but in blanket form.

2. Live web cams run by an amazing woman who fosters pregnant cats and their kittens (and then gets them all spayed and adopted). She’s been successfully socializing feral cats who are supposed to be far too old to be socialized, and she’s proving that they’re not. I thought I had special abilities with cats, but this woman is magical. Here’s an adorable video of what happened when a kitten from one of the older litters escaped and broke into the nest of one of the other mother cats who has much younger kittens.

3. Best Fiends. Periodically I get addicted to a game and spend way too much time playing it, and Best Fiends is that right now. It’s a free puzzle adventure game where you collect and upgrade characters by matching same-colored objects to defeat slugs. Yes, slugs. You can play without wifi, so it’s good for plane rides, road trips, horrid long lines at the grocery stores, etc., and there are a ton of in-game events and challenges. I’m on level 26, and you should try to beat me.

Also, because Best Fiends is nice enough to sponsor this post, the first 100 readers to download the game and get to level 10 will get $4.99 worth of gold and diamonds for free.

4. Holy Jolokia hot sauce. I had a terrible hot sauce experience in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago, in which I embarrassed myself in a hot sauce store by bragging about my tolerance for spice and then sampled a sauce that caused me to have TEARS pouring down my face for a VERY LONG TIME. This hot sauce will not do that to you. It is indeed quite hot and you want to use it sparingly, but it will not destroy your tongue and it’s layered, delicious, and goes with most anything.

5. The Crown. If you are going to watch anything on TV, it should be Netflix’s The Crown, about the early reign of Queen Elizabeth. It’s visually stunning, and it has just the right mix of history and gossip, and I love it. 

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Best Fiends. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

* I make a commission if you use these Amazon links.

{ 75 comments… read them below }

  1. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This just clinches it– Alison, you are our very own Oprah. I mean, you give advice and you recommend books, and now you have Favorite Things, so…

  2. Lizabeth*

    The Crown is going on my to watch list! Lots of good casting for this…Anne Bolyen AND Dr. Who? Willoughby? Thomas More? Fanny Dashwood? Mrs. Croft? I could blather on but…you get the drift!

    1. Sydney Bristow*

      It’s so good! My husband and I have spaced it out and watch one episode a week with our Sunday night dinner. This weekend is our last episode and I’m so sad it’s going to be over until season 2!

      John Lithgow is amazing in it. I had no idea he was such an amazing dramatic actor. Actually, the entire cast is fantastic.

    2. phil*

      It’s very good and it’s clear that the writer, Peter Morgan, who also wrote The Queen, doesn’t like Prince Phillip one little bit.

      1. Bryce*

        His behavior during the Kenya welcoming was exactly like Hugh Dennis’s parody of him on Mock the Week.

    3. Bryce*

      My parents and I watched it when I visited last weekend and we all loved it. Comments included “I finally understand how people can wind up binge-watching these shows” “It’s interesting to see stuff that happened in my lifetime. I heard the gossip but this is more of a take on it than I ever got.” and ” ‘That’s the last episode? But how do we know what happens?’ ‘Read a history book.’ “

    4. Redhead13*

      Besides the storylines for The Crown, the music is a character in this stunning piece that also deserves kudos. This series does not disappoint!

    5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I binged everything of The Crown I could when I was between jobs — and I struggle with sitting still to watch anything when I’m by myself! It’s so good.

    1. Sugar of lead*

      Seconded. I can almost feel how soft it is through the picture. I’m a very tactile person–I shop for clothes in thrift stores by feeling my way along the rack until I touch something soft.

      1. many bells down*

        I buy my fabric for sewing like this. I have to feel EVERYTHING in the store. The manager at the local store used ot make fun of me; “Are you sure you touched ALL the fabric?”

  3. ArtsNerd*

    Just downloaded Best Fiends. So far I really like it. How does one claim the gold and diamonds promo?

      1. Silja*

        I just won level 10, it didn’t say anything… does that mean 100 have already been claimed?

        1. smokey*

          What it did offer me at level 10 was $10 off a $20 package, but I kind-of assume that’s offered to everyone.

      1. Episkey*

        I was also given the $4.99 package for free — it just came up when I completed the level. I didn’t have to do anything else. I’ve now been playing this game for roughly 2 hours 0_O

        1. Silja*

          I got something at level 3 or 4 too (can’t rememebr how much it was), but that is fairly normal for most games, and it didn’t say anything about Ask A Manager, and wasn’t at level ten…. maybe they told Allison the wrong level?

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Okay, I’m thinking it should just happen if you download the game from the link in the post then! Silja and Smokey, any chance you saw a pop-up like that? If not, it may be that the first 100 were already claimed!

          1. BronzeFire*

            I just got the $4.99 promo at level 4, too. Thanks for introducing me to this game! I’ve been looking for something challenging, but casual.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Okay, yes, I just emailed with them to ask about this. If you use that download link, it will happen automatically when you reach level 10 or before. If it didn’t happen for you, it’s likely that the 100 discounts have already been taken — sorry :(

            1. Halpful*

              I didn’t think of needing the link until after I installed the app. *facepalm* but uninstalling and reinstalling did the trick. :) (and in CAD, that reward was $7.49, ouch.)

              also, waaaah, all google’s gamer IDs are taken, and they don’t let you use underscores or periods or anything. I ended up mashing the keyboard for an ID. I’m really glad they let you change them later.

              now I have to somehow escape both my computer and phone before I starve… ;)

            2. Gracie*

              I’m not sure if I should thank you or silently curse you cause this game is super addicting! I’ve been looking for a game like this forever!

              1. Cazkiwi*

                I just downloaded and played now…. And got the bundle (worth $7.49 NZD) so it’s still working! Awesome, love games like this

                Thanks for you link guide.. Love the game… And the kittehs!

      2. Gracie*

        Yeah it popped up after I finished lvl 4 and said here’s your free stuff worth $4.99. At level 10 I got the offer for 50% off ssomething

    1. Lead, Follow or Get Outta the Way!*

      Just downloaded it and still got the free package after Level 4, so it’s still working!

  4. Thumper*

    Loved The Crown! I ended up watching it around the same time Victoria was showing on PBS. It was interesting to watch a show about one woman while simultaneously watching a show about her great-great grandmother.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I LOOOOOOVE Victoria. The costumes are amazing and the actor playing Albert is so sexy. Signing up for PBS’s pay service so I could watch episodes of everything online allowed me to binge it all the way to the end of the season, before the last couple of episodes aired on TV. Heh heh.

      Of course now I have to wait!

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      I watched them at the same time too! I liked Victoria better than I liked The Crown, but they are so very different anyway.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      The reason we have Eve is because of TinyKittens. I was watching so much that summer that I decided we needed to foster some kittens ourselves, and then of course Eve could not be given up. She’s actually named after one of the mother cats there (well, my husband suggested the name for different reasons, but I agreed because of TK’s Eve, who was the first mother cat there who took on a litter that wasn’t her own.)

    2. heatherskib*

      It’s a great background noise for days when you want to kill someone. All the little kitten purrs and mews and playing kittens are very soothing.

  5. paul*

    bragging about your hot sauce abilities in NOLA is like bragging about how good at math you are while visiting with MIT’s grad students. It’s just not gonna end well

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ha, yes. It was quite a spectacle — I was gulping down water and nothing worked, until finally someone gave me a piece of their Kit Kat bar, which was amazingly effective at stopping the burning.

      1. JessaB*

        The cure for hot sauce is milk. Water and oils do not work together at all. The people who do the tests to determine Scoville levels of spice always give milk. So dairy is the key if you can eat it.

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Yes, this! Chocolate can of course work, too, but milk/soymilk/almond milk or yogurt, or even french fries—anything with fat instead of water—makes a huge difference.

          Once, when I was a kid, I ate something super hot and made the mistake of drinking soda to try to flush out the taste, and it was so so so much worse than drinking water. It amplified the “heat.”

      2. Astor*

        In case you need it for the future: milk, fats, and bread are your best options for countering the burning from spicy foods.

    2. Audiophile*

      I feel like the mark of a good hot sauce is tears, but maybe I’m just weird that way. I love spicy things, hot sauces especially. I’m addicted to that youtube wings shows Hot Ones and want to get a couple of the sauces on there. There’s a few on there that I desperately want to try, including their own brand of Hot Ones hot sauce.

      1. Cautionary tail*

        I couldn’t get a hot sauce that was hot enough for me so now I grow my own Carolia Reapers and slice them up for snacks. I went into a hot sauce store and had some of their 4 million Scoville Flashbang hot sauce and it didn’t faze me. The store clerk was amazed that I described the different flavors I could taste in it, but had no reaction to it,

        BTW, bread, fats, etc. do not work to kill the burn; they move it from your mouth to your stomach but only dairy has a chemical reaction with capcaisin causing a detergeant effect.

        1. Astor*

          Good to know! I always reach for dairy if I have it, but for various reasons it’s the one I’m less likely to have easy to access.

      1. Cas*

        And it doesn’t shed? That’s always been my problem with these kinds of comfy blankets – we end up with fluff everywhere!

  6. Elizabeth H.*

    Wait, I want to hear more about what you did in New Orleans! I have spent a bunch of time there this past year and have done all the stuff and now just give other people travel recs. Where did you eat/drink?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, we really went specifically to eat, so we did a ton of eating. The best place we ate was Brennan’s — one of the best meals I’ve had in years. I thought Commander’s Palace, which we had been the most excited about, was underwhelming. We also had psychic readings, did a ton of walking around (to the point that I had to stop and buy new shoes partway through the trip), and stayed in a haunted hotel. (Details on that are here: )

  7. Bad Candidate*

    Loved The Crown! Victoria (on PBS here in the US) was also good. It just ended a couple of weeks ago, I think you can download on iTunes or Google Play.

  8. Former Computer Professional*

    Orange cats have a mind of their own. Sometimes I think they don’t realize they’re cats and think they’re very small humans (not unlike toddlers). I had one years ago and I’ve been writing up his adventures, and there are many.

    I’m a fan of the Kitten Academy ( which is similar to Tiny Kittens. KA fosters either found kittens, usually (but not always) with mama cat, or pregnant cats and their resulting litters. When the kittens reach about three months they get fixed (KA calls it the “graduation ceremony”) and put up for adoption. At this point they’re fostering two families at once, all on a live stream.

    A couple of months ago they took in a pregnant mom cat and the birth had problems. They rushed her to a vet but unfortunately she didn’t make it and only one of the kittens survived, an orange boy. Another volunteer foster hand-fed him every two hours until he was about 6 weeks. By that time KA had another mom who had given birth 3 weeks before. They put the orange kitten in with the new mom cat and she took to him right away. He didn’t nurse (he seemed to try once, but wasn’t used to a living nipple), fairly quickly learned to eat kitten food, and many of us thought mom cat might have liked him best. All of those kittens and their mom have been adopted.

    Sorry to ramble. Kittens!

  9. Bryce*

    That is a wonderful blanket. I have a fuzzy blanket of my own that I just got from the local supermarket on a whim and it is SO warm and fuzzy and actually big enough for me to curl up in!

  10. Rebecca*

    Sigh. I’m now addicted to that game. Thanks, I *really* needed another time waster LOL.

  11. Elizabeth West*

    I should make a post like this.

    I tried Best Fiends and liked it, but it wants money after a while, and I just don’t want to keep paying. So I deleted it. I hate paying to actually play and finish a game–I don’t mind an initial outlay, but stop nickel and dimeing me.

  12. Bird Trainer*

    Love Best Fiends!! I actually heard about it on The Ellen Show a while ago… I want to say they were donating to fight malaria? I’m on level 591 now!

  13. Lei*

    I love TK and have been watching for a few years. Was thrilled to see you mentioned it on a post that used the name Neelix!

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