weekend free-for-all – November 11-12, 2017

This 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.)

Book recommendation of the week: The Wife, by Meg Wolitzer. The wife of a famous, and philandering, novelist contemplates their marriage.

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

{ 1,240 comments… read them below }

  1. fposte*

    I haven’t read The Wife, but I know Wolitzer’s a fan of Shirley Jackson–are there indications that Jackson’s life influenced the novel?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t think so — I didn’t know much about Shirley Jackson’s personal life but I just googled, and it sounds like the only similarity might be the philandering husband!

      1. fposte*

        Okay, thanks–if it *were* based on Jackson, I’d have moved it to the top of the queue because that whole thing fascinates me.

  2. Allypopx*

    I’m asking my boyfriend’s parents for a loan tomorrow. Wish me luck/any wise words are appreciated. I’m a wreck. Aside from $200 to make rent when I was first starting out, I’ve literally never asked anyone for money before.

    1. Dr. KMnO4*

      It’s normal to borrow money. There’s no shame in it. When you say you’re a wreck, I’m not sure if you mean that you feel guilty for having to borrow money, or that you’re somehow not a successful/adult person. But almost everyone borrows money at some point in their life, and it’s a completely normal part of life. And if you can borrow money from someone who cares about you, instead of a bank, that’s awesome. Good luck, but I bet you won’t need it!

      1. Allypopx*

        I mean I feel guilty. My pride is taking a huge hit. The idea is to ask them for a loan for the cost of my share of the rent because I’m quitting my job to go back to school full time, and won’t be able to pick up another one that’s part-time and comes close to my current salary. I *can* take the same amount out in student loans, but they’ve offered their support before (to our household more than to me specifically, hence the loan and not the straight ask) and they’re an option that doesn’t hit my credit. It’s a smart financial option! I’m just stubbornly, staunchly independent and it’s so hard for me to wrap my head around. This helps, thank you.

        1. nep*

          Completely get it. I have relatives who would be ecstatic to help me with some expenses I can’t handle right now. Would I ever ask them? No. So although I agree with all of what Dr. KMnO4 says above, I don’t practice it for myself. In a way it’s a sign of strength to be able to do it. Best of luck and let us know.

    2. Triplestep*

      I don’t know how much you’re asking for or the reason you need it, but I would advise that you get to the point of the conversation quickly, then follow with details such as your intention to pay them back on a fixed schedule with interest. Like, all in one sentence! Optimally you’d fill in the details while they’re absorbing that they’re being asked for a loan. Depending on the circumstances, they may forgo the fixed schedule and interest, but it would be smart to get it out there all at once.

      I have kids in their twenties and we lent money to one to buy a car. We agreed ahead of time on no interest, and that he’d pay us monthly via automated checks sent from his online bill pay system. This relieved us of any need to nag him about payment. Eventually we forgave the remainder of the loan when he started grad school, but that was our choice. The automated payments made us feel less like the “Bank of Mom and Dad”.

      The younger child has a bad habit of trying to ease entry into a difficult conversation by taking too long to set the tone. I have given her the same advice I spell out above (get to the point quickly, then fill in the details without hesitation) and she has yet to heed it. Her way tends to make me want to scream out “get to the point! what do you want!” because you can tell when someone is about to drop a bomb. I think there’s a way to be respectful with the quick ask, yet not totally blunt.

      Good luck!

      1. Allypopx*

        Also, as someone who’s been through this – I was going to offer to start paying them back at 15% of my post-graduate salary, whatever that may be. Does that make sense?

        1. Triplestep*

          To clarify, are you asking to not start paying them back until you get a job after grad school? If so, is there any way you can start to pay them back at a greatly reduced rate *while* you are in school? Even $20 or $30 a month will go a long way in sending the message that you are serious about paying them back. You could arrange it so that you don’t start paying them back until you start earning this post-grad salary.

          For example, we co-signed a student loan for my daughter, the younger child above with the hesitation issue ;-). She opted for the kind with lower interest because she starts to pay it while she is in school. Her payments will greatly increase once she graduates with no gap. (Many student loans give you a period after graduation before the payments kick in, but her lower interest loan does not.) So we agreed to make her first six post-college payments as a way to give her a chance to situate herself with a job after school. We offered to do this because she is making payments herself while in school, which demonstrated her seriousness about the loan in our eyes.

          1. Triplestep*

            By the way, if they are in a position to lend to you, $20 or $30 a month is going to be a drop in the bucket for them, but the point is that it would NOT be the same for you. This is more about intention than it is about financial equations, if you know what I mean.

          2. Triplestep*

            Sorry, when I wrote “You could arrange it so that you don’t start paying them back until you start earning this post-grad salary,” I meant that you wouldn’t start *the 15%* until you started earning the salary.

          3. Allypopx*

            Well I’ll be working through school, so if I’m gonna make tiny payments I’d rather do that on any school-related debt I acquire, and I’ll have *some* income post-grad even if I don’t fall right into a salaried job, which is why I’d want to set up and income-based percentage so it can be a little at a time if I don’t make much or more at a time if I do.

            Basically I’m trying to illustrate to them I’ve thought it out and have a plan.

            1. nonymous*

              It probably depends on the relationship with them and their own relationship with money. My Dad was pretty stern about not giving money to family (as in, he would gift payment of a bill but wouldn’t actually give a relative the cash to pay that bill), so I’m probably not the best person to soothe anxiety. In general, my observation has been that successful personal loans have similar terms to real loans – some way to track the balance, clear repayment schedule, etc. My brother expected his kids to have a good understanding of what opportunity costs the parents were sacrificing (e.g. how does the repayment rate compare to current CD rates?), how much was being gifted via lower-than-market-rate terms (e.g. student loans for grad school are often subject to compounding interest before repayment begins) and how likely was their projected income — inevitably his adult children’s willingness to risk parental money was higher than his own, and that was a source of friction in the process.

              My MIL for several years was (is?) giving hubby’s little sister and her husband a monthly check to help with expenses when they were both in school, but I am under the impression that both of them asked for money (or at least the daughter had a “pre conference” with her mom before the real ask). Can you and the BF ask as a team? From the other side of the financial equation, it’s a very different emotional consideration for them to invest in this person who is so essential to their son’s happiness/health/future.

        2. Undine*

          The problem with that is you might not be able to afford that much if your salary is tiny or if you move to a high COL area.

          1. Allypopx*

            Possible. True of any loan. I’m already in a high COL area so that’s already in the equation. I have a professional record I don’t think getting a decent-if-not-great salary will be too impossible, though I’m happy to work a couple jobs until that falls into place. I think if there were legitimate circumstances they would be fine with revisiting. In all likelihood they’ll forgive the loan once I graduate but I don’t really want them to/am not counting on that.

      2. Anono-me*

        Good luck.
        I’m going to suggest very carefully putting everything in writing down to the Last Detail.
        This will show them that you’re very serious about treating this like a real loan. And it will prevent hurt and hard feelings later, because no one will misremember or misunderstand a detail. ( For example: If the plan is that you will start paying them back as soon as you can. Does that mean as soon as you graduate or as soon as you get a professional job or as soon as you have enough money to buy good pizza? It doesn’t matter which one you both pick, as long as it’s the same one.)

    3. Bluebell*

      Good luck! I’d suggest you be very clear about your planned schedule for paying them back – that will show you have put thought into it.

    4. Oscar Madisoy*

      The first thing I thought of when I read this letter is the lyrics from “Hardwood Floor,” a song off the Doors’ 1972 album Full Circle (the second of two albums the band made after Jim Morrison died)…

      ♬ Well I went to see your daddy but he sure got sore
      ♬ He said you oughta be out there fighting the war
      ♬ I asked him for some money, he said what for
      ♬ I told him all we got to live on is a hardwood floor
      ♬ You know all we got to live on is a hardwood floor

  3. BRR*

    My in laws are already asking for our Christmas list. What are some gifts you’d like or are gifting others? I find this so hard as an adult.

    1. Gaia*

      I do not like Christmas lists. If I don’t know someone well enough to pick out a gift for them, I don’t know them well enough to be buying them a gift and the same is true in reverse. If people insist on asking me what I want (and don’t take “anything you think I’d like would be appreciated” for an answer) they get a list of charities I support.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Huh. I think you can know someone really well but still not know that they’re after a particular book or something.

        1. Gaia*

          But I don’t need to know that they want a particular book to know that they would like a book of a particular genre.

          Gift lists, in general, are an issue for me. It screams of asking for gifts and I was raised in a culture where this is Not Done. I can’t even get behind wedding or baby registries and I get the logic of those, at least.

          1. Allypopx*

            If I’m spending money on a gift I’d rather know I’m getting something they’ll like or want. I hate making lists, it makes me feel like I’m asking, but if we know we’re exchanging gifts and I know it makes the buyer’s life easier I just suck it up and do it.

            The lists always come with “no promises” caveats. My boyfriends mom asked me to make a huge list so she could get a broad sense of my taste, even if she doesn’t get me anything specifically on it.

            1. Fiennes*


              It would be nice to think that the people who love us automatically know our tastes, needs and wants—but this this isnt necessarily true. Many people feel a lot of anxiety about choosing gifts, too. I would rather give things I know will be used and enjoyed. For my part, I usually provide a list online somewhere; I’d never demand anybody only get me stuff on that list, but it’s there for whoever wants it. And how can it be “begging for gifts” when it’s only shared with those who want that list and presumably must be planning on getting you something already?

            2. OtterB*

              Your boyfriend’s mom sounds good to deal with in this context. My MIL, who was not a bad person in general, drove me nuts over this. She wanted a list of exact, precise things – and then would complain about how hard they’d been to find. This was in pre-internet days; it would be easier now when I could just send her a link to something online that I wanted.

              1. Allypopx*

                His sister was working at Anthropologie for awhile so she was like “get me a list while I can get a discount! And then I’ll use it to extrapolate your taste” it was so easy. I was dreading that process.

            3. Gaia*

              I think I was just raised with a very different gift culture. We don’t buy gifts for huge numbers of people – we buy gifts for people we are close with and people we know well. And we buy things that they will enjoy and the recipient, even if they wouldn’t have chosen it on their own, appreciates the effort that goes into it. I think we’ve gotten away from that and it is unfortunate.

              1. Ktelzbeth*

                In my family, the tradition is to exchange gifts with grandparents, parents, children, grandchildren, and siblings, whichever of those you have. They are all people I know well and it’s not a huge number. Since my youngest childhood, my grandparents and parents asked for a list. In your area or family, maybe it is new, but in my family it goes back generations. I guess it all just varies. We also know each other well enough that there are always some surprises that almost always hit the mark and are always appreciated.

                Out of curiosity, do you find any difference in how acceptable it is to give a list to someone who pressures you for one vs handing them out unasked? In the first sense, to me, it doesn’t seem as much like asking for gifts, since that person has already clearly volunteered that they want to buy -something-.

            4. Mike C.*

              To be honest, I think this is a talent rather than a mark of how well someone cares or knows someone. I’m not that great at it, but my wife is a genius.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                Anecdotally, I have heard someone describe their ex as a brilliant gift giver, the sort of person who always comes up with wonderful things you never even knew you wanted. But in lots of non-gift-giving ways, they were not at all thoughtful. Some people are really good at it, and some people freeze. (Another anecdote is the woman told years after her dad’s death that her dad had never bought her mom gifts–their first Xmas she saw him at the mall, frozen in terror, and so she took over that job. (She thought their kids should see her receive gifts from him.) They had a long happy marriage, he loved her to pieces, he was just really, really bad at figuring out gifts.)

                1. Elizabeth H.*

                  Yes! I too have an ex who is a fantastic gift giver. He was very thoughtful in some other ways as well, but NOT in some others (or at least, prioritized some ways of showing someone you care much lower than I do, hence the mismatch). My first birthday after we started dating he gave me this thing I had gotten all excited about when he mentioned it once in a conversation, and I had even planned that I would ask for it if he asked me what I wanted for my birthday (I didn’t expect a present but thought he might ask). It was amazing.

            5. Temperance*

              My mom used to ask us for a list and then would buy stuff not on it, or even really similar, because then it would spoil the surprise. LOL

          2. fposte*

            I kind of feel like that generally and culturally, but I was raised in a family that went beyond lists to print catalogs with the relevant page turned down and the number circled. My father would start bugging me for the catalogs in November. I think also he hated going to stores and rather enjoyed looking at the catalogs. So I have two competing traditions in me.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Ha. That’s how we’ve always done it in my family. Growing up, the Sears catalog was out on the coffee table, and everyone circled what they liked in there. Our gifts (and back to school clothes) would be some combination of things we’d circled. Now it’s the same thing at our house, but with the LL Bean catalog. If I ever want something not from LL Bean, I’ll have to find their print catalog, circle the item, and lay it on the coffee table with the page turned down.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Although I have let my husband know that I would like an instant pot, and once he learned what they were, he now wants one, too. So we might end up getting one of those as an “us” gift.

                Also, I’ve now circled everything I want in the Bean catalog and turned down the relevant corners.

                Christmas list accomplished!

                1. The Other Dawn*

                  I’m in the midst of creating my wish list on Bean’s website right now! I really, REALLY want a pair of Bean boots, as I’ve never owned a truly good, quality pair of boots before. I do have a pair of winter boots, but they’re really not sufficient for anything other than a few inches of snow. And I’ve yet to find boots that will keep my toes warm (same with gloves/mittens) while snow blowing. I also want a VERY warm jacket. I’m eyeing the 850 ultra lightweight down jacket. Since they are running 25% off and free shipping, I might need to buy myself a gift.

            2. dawbs*

              ha, when Mr. Dawbs was a tiny kid, that was the route they went–and they lived in the BFE, so most of the purchases were done mail order.

              So he would pay attention to the ‘shipping dimensions’ of his wish list, and sneakily measure boxes as they arrived on the porch, addressed to his mom, and decode what everyone was getting for Christmas.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                “So he would pay attention to the ‘shipping dimensions’ of his wish list, and sneakily measure boxes as they arrived on the porch . . . “

                How clever. My kid self would never have thought of that in a million years. I bet my husband would have, though. My anticipation for gifts was strong, but I also loved to be surprised on Christmas. My husband, however, has always been strongly driven to find out the gifts.

          3. Ramona Flowers*

            Interesting. I personally think the idea that people who know me shouldn’t need gift suggestions is a bit like a social fallacy. I’d rather have something I want!

            1. On Fire*

              Agreed. My mom knows I love to read, but she can’t possibly keep up with what books I already have (or what husband is getting for me). She asks each of us what the other wants, and it works out very well. That’s how I got a favorite biography, among other things.

            2. Gaia*

              Interesting. I’d rather have something someone thought that I wanted (even if I wouldn’t buy it for myself) than something I told them I wanted.

            3. The Other Dawn*

              I feel the same way: I’d rather have something I want. It doesn’t have to be specifically what I mentioned, but something in the ball park at least. Although my family knows me well, I often get things that I would never use in a million years. Or they like to buy me candy/junk food, even though I’ve had weight loss surgery and am very sensitive to sugar.

            4. callietwo...*

              I typically know what I might want to give to my husband, but he’ll inevitably go out and buy the damn thing a week before Christmas/Birthday because “You couldn’t possibly know I wanted THAT and it was a great deal!”… my father was exactly the same. So, now he has to give lists and he’s forbidden to buy those items.

            5. SRB*

              Yeah it also assumes you live with sane people who don’t say they want a really nice chocolate teapot in passing as a “hint”, then 2 months later complain on Christmas that you got them a very nice expensive dark chocolate teapot with a hand crafted design of a rabbit, but you wanted the *Godiva* brand of dark chocolate teapot and it had to have a turtle on it. And then complain the next year that no one got you gifts. :)

              Or that your parents (or grandparents) aren’t the kind of people who just buy whatever they want so when you ask “what doesgrandpa want?” And the answer is “the remaining $200,000 in his 401k so he can retire because he already bought all the wine and hobby stuff and golf stuff he said he wanted”. Then a list is nice…

          4. Claire (Scotland)*

            Thinking like that explains the numerous books I’ve received as gifts that I never wanted and will never read. Total waste of money. Liking sci-fi and urban fantasy does not mean I like or will read any book in those genres. My tastes are much more specific and nuanced than that.

            I prefer to buy people gifts they will actually like and enjoy. Gift lists are incredibly helpful for that and I love it when people provide them.

            1. Oryx*

              This. I’m a big reader in lots of genres, but that doesn’t mean I read or would enjoy everything in those genres. Just giving me a book at random because you know I happen to read fantasy or science fiction will end in me having a book I probably won’t read.

              1. Falling Diphthong*

                But you used books in a genre as a specific example of getting people presents because you know them well and know what they like. And like Claire, I immediately thought “But I don’t like all the cozy murder mysteries out there, even if I really like a few series in that genre.”

                1. Optimistic Prime*

                  Yeah, and I read a lot of romance novels…I definitely don’t want anyone else buying me those. I’m really particular about them, and also, just no.

              2. Claire (Scotland)*

                But the same thing is true for anything that I am actually interested in. I also like makeup and collect a lot of it, but anyone who just buys me makeup without consulting will most likely end up buying something I’ll never use and didn’t want.

                Most people are not good at choosing presents without some suggestions to guide them, in my experience. I just really like giving and receiving things that are actually wanted.

                1. Claire (Scotland)*

                  Out of nesting so I can’t reply to Gaia’s comment to Falling Diphthong directly.

                  Gaia, you said “But I don’t need to know that they want a particular book to know that they would like a book of a particular genre”. And we’re saying that this simply isn’t true.

                2. Gaia*

                  And I’m saying it can be true. I spend a lot of time choosing very specific gifts for specific people. If I truly do not know what they would like I don’t see how I am close enough to them to be buying them gifts. This comes from being raised with this mindset towards gifts. I’ve never received a gift I didn’t appreciate and I’ve never bought a gift for someone I didn’t know would appreciate it.

                3. fposte*

                  @Gaia–but I appreciate all gifts, because they’re from people who care for me. That doesn’t mean they’ll be the first thing I hang on the wall or read or eat–it just made me happy that they thought of me.

                  Now, I actually enjoy that possibility of a loved one finding something I love and didn’t know I’d enjoy, and for me that possibility is worth getting some stuff that doesn’t delight me quite the way it delights them–I like the gift process even more than the stuff these days. But I do think that if you’re in a gift group where everything you’re given is a perfectly brilliant encapsulation of your tastes in an unexpected way you’re probably luckier than most people :-).

                4. Falling Diphthong*

                  I’m buying gifts for my parents, spouse, and children. I do know these people well. And they can be hard to shop for, or have a hard time shopping for me.

          5. Blue_eyes*

            Eh, have you met my mother? Despite being her only child and the fact that she’s known me for 30+ years, she’s consistently terrible at buying gifts for me.

            There was the year she got me a journal because it looked like another journal I owned. But I HATE journaling and the other journal was from literally the only time in my life that I kept a journal (while traveling as a teen).

            Then there was the year she got me some earrings. They’re pretty nice, not totally my style, but inoffensive. Except she had bought me the EXACT SAME earrings two years before that.

            There are other examples that I can’t think of right now. So, while I understand your point about not wanting to feel like you’re asking for gifts, it’s not necessarily true that people who know you well will know what to buy for you.

            1. NaoNao*

              My mom just called me and among other things, said, with a resigned tone “Well, I’m off to buy Christmas gifts everyone will hate!”
              I was like “Um, why not shop off Christmas lists?”
              Answer: Well, it’s mid-November (it’s the 11th) and no one has given me any!
              The thing is, list or no list, she’s going to make the same mistake she makes every blinking year: shopping for stuff SHE would like.
              She once spent 70$ mailing me a series of four books I told her over and over not to send me, I had zero interest in (The Raj Quartet, a set of doorstoppers written over a century ago about British Occupied India). She sent me a Bible two years ago–she’s Christian, I’m very much not.
              She’s famous for being a terrible gift giver but refuses to take any steps to rectify it! Arg.

              1. MsChanandlerBong*

                Oh my gosh, this sounds like my best friend. I love her to pieces, and I don’t need gifts to keep our friendship going, but every time she gets me something, it is SO far from what I would personally like that it’s almost funny. She does the same thing when she is planning a yard sale. She’ll pick up old furniture from people’s houses and clean it up/paint it. The problem is that she won’t stain it with a nice natural stain that could fit in with almost any decor. She’ll paint a night stand in matte purple paint and then wonder why no one buys it. She uses colors and styles she would like instead of picking a color that would appeal to a broad group of people.

              2. FormerEmployee*

                This is beyond “terrible gift giver”.

                Who buys someone gifts that they clearly don’t want?

                1. neverjaunty*

                  People who are unwilling to understand that others are allowed to (and do!) have opinions, feelings and tastes different from their own.

              3. SeaMarie*

                The Raj Quartet’s first book was published in 1966. I don’t think that was a century ago yet! Great stories by the way.

            2. copy run start*

              +1 My parents have been wrong more than right for most of my adult life. Gifts don’t have to be a surprise or shock to bring joy.

          6. AliceBD*

            My parents can consistently get me things that I enjoy but would never ask for. They are nice, but I would so, so much prefer getting things I ask for. For example, for over a year I made it clear I would love a dust buster. No one got me one, despite getting me things during that time like a ceramic holder for glasses on my bedside. The holder is cute, but it cost the same as the dust buster and doesn’t materially improve my life at all and actually makes it more difficult because now I have to dust it. I only take my glasses off to shower or sleep so I never misplace them, so a holder is not necessary. My favorite gifts are ones I specifically mention I want and then my parents get me them — my dad is really good at this, so I have a digital tire gauge to make it easier to air up tires (why they always go flat when it is freezing and I am on my way to something I am late for wearing a fancy dress I don’t know) or an oven mitt good to 500 degrees F so I can take things out of the oven more comfortably.

            I can get my parents things they would enjoy but I really would prefer getting lists so I know I will be getting them something they will use daily.

            1. Parenthetically*

              YES. I have wanted but been unable to budget for a big soft hoodie of a particular brand for YEARS, literal years, and while my parents tend to go for practical gifts, they also buy me stuff I don’t want or need or can’t use instead of things I’ve specifically said I love.

              My brother and sister in law tend to buy me stuff based on my pop-culture likes, which is how I ended up with two Doctor Who travel mugs, three (!!) Doctor Who figurines, two Doctor Who t-shirts, and on and on, despite not ever using/wearing/buying “character merch.”

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              One of the nicest gifts my husband ever got me is a digital bedside clock with huge numbers, that I can read without first finding my glasses. And when the contacts corroded so it was impossible to change the time, he took it apart and fixed it, which was almost as good a present even though the occasion was time change. But he isn’t going to come up with something so perfectly aligned to thing-I-didn’t-know-I-would-bond-with every Xmas and birthday.

          7. Colette*

            I don’t see gift lists as a demand, just a sugggestion. And they’re particularly helpful when it’s someone you are close to but don’t see in person often. For example, I know my niece likes to read and I know the kinds of books she likes – but I don’t know what she read last week, so if I just buy something, it may be something she just read. I know my sister likes elephant stuff, but I haven’t been to her house in a couple of years, so I don’t know if she already has an elephant teapot.

            1. Optimistic Prime*

              Yea, for me a gift list is like “here is an idea of some of the types of things I would like.” My mother-in-law used to ask for them for years before we all just decided to do gift cards.

        2. Anon to me*

          I agree. And I always find that I buy gifts that end up sitting in a closet. I’d rather buy something that I know someone wants, than waste my money on something that seems perfect and then ends up sitting in a closet.

        3. Aphrodite*

          I tend to agree. I like lists from people because I like choosing among things they definitely want. They still won’t know what they are getting from me because I ask for at least six items on the list but whatever it is it will be right for them.

          I like seeing the joy on their faces when they open the gifts and tell me about them. It makes the shopping and wrapping extra fun and I love knowing they love it!

        4. Liz in a Library*

          Same. And money is tight enough with some of the folks in my family, that if we are going to exchange gifts, we really want to know that we are getting them what will be most useful and wanted. I love a good list of ideas.

      2. BRR*

        I’m usually more like this but my MIL loves gifting physical gifts and without guidance I would probably not be a huge fan of what she gets (although she crushed it last year with the instant pot which was a surprise).

        1. BeautifulVoid*

          This is me. I tried for years to convince her how awesome gift cards are to no avail. Now if I provide her a list, I’ll be more likely to get stuff I actually need/want and will use, rather than a giant pile that goes immediately into the trash or the donation pile. My 30th birthday was legendary in that she got me a giant gift basket – maybe a third of the contents were nice and usable, but the rest was junk. (Flip flops in the wrong size, a magazine for a hobby I have zero interest in, etc.) I just wanted a gift card so I could preorder a video game. :-\ At least she finally stopped trying to buy me clothes.

      3. INTP*

        Even my own parents ask me for wish lists. They know the genres of stuff that I like but don’t know every book or piece of cookware that I own, or which kind of sock I’m running low on, etc. My family is very practical though so we’d rather do this than buy things that get trashed or regifted. (There are gift receipts but realistically everyone isn’t going to return all the stuff they don’t like or already own during the busy after Christmas season.)

        1. Fiennes*

          When people guess what I’d like & get it wrong, I can still appreciate the thought. It’s when they guess what I *need* & get it wrong that I start wishing they’d stuck to a list. My dad in particular is bad at buying me kitchen stuff I already own or would never use, while ignoring my Amazon list of devices that I’d really value.

      4. Not a know-it-all*

        I know my partner pretty darn well. We’ve been together for over 25 years. I absolutely know her well enough to be buying a gift for her. But she’s into photography, and I am not. I like to buy her a nice piece of gear or something, but I don’t speak that language, and I have no clue what is quality and what is just something that earns the sales guy the most commission. I might hear her say “I wish I had a wider lens” and yet not know what that means, what of her current gear is “wide” and what she means by “wider”
        Thankfully, she is happy to give me a specific list of things she would like that suit her needs and are within our budget. You absolutely CAN know someone well enough to exchange gifts and yet find a list helpful!
        Sure, I know her well enough that I could pick out some clothing, or a book, or jewelry she would like, no problem. But I also know her well enough to know new gear makes her happier than any of those other items. I just need a list to help with the specifics!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Really seconding this. My son wants gaming headphones, my husband a new router, my daughter a charging case for her phone? I don’t know enough to separate wheat from chaff.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Thirding (?) this. My husband’s wishes for his hobby gear are very specific, and a general item from the same category won’t fit the bill. It has to be the right brand, and whatever other attributes, exactly as he writes on the list. If the exact spec of one item on his list isn’t available, I get something else from the list. It sometimes feels like meeting a list of demands rather than shopping for a gift, but he is happiest when he gets the very exactest thing ever.

      5. Ange*

        Ever since the year I got told off by my stepmother for not telling her what gifts my mother got me (I was 8) and she got me the same thing, I am highly in favour of lists.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m amused that you’ve said ‘already’ as I think it’s early but my sister in law considers November last minute!

      Things that can be nice to give: cookbooks if you know they’ll be appreciated, fancy food hampers, woolly stuff like scarves. I like receiving cosy things and books.

      1. Cassie*

        I never understood buying Christmas gifts insanely early. Return policies are a bit more forgiving at the end of the year, but not when you’ve shopped in August. I may plan early, but I’m always careful to actually make the purchase within the returnable window.

        1. Kit*

          My mom always had her Christmas shopping done by October, but she also kept a running list of things she’d heard people say they wished they had. I was often delighted to receive something I hadn’t told her I wanted but definitely did want, like the kitchen mandoline that was her last gift to me.

        2. Optimistic Prime*

          Shopping early is good for the budget if you have a lot of people to buy for. My MIL is one of those people who buys for like everyone’s kids, and she buys lots of little things over the course of the year to spread out the money.

          I’m 1) too lazy for that and 2) buy almost everything online since I don’t live geographically close to any of the people I shop for, so…*shrug*

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        TO me, it’s not truly last minute unless it’s Christmas morning. LOL.

        The Macy’s in NY on 34th St is open 24 hours for the three days before Christmas, and I have definitely been known to go there at like 2 am when no one is in there to finish picking up a few things.

        Also, I have been getting really into cookbooks!

    3. babblemouth*

      Socks. Dumbledore is right, you can never have too many socks. And by getting them as Christmas gifts, you can ask for the super soft and cuddly/ cute little patterns that you wouldn’t normally get yourtself.

      1. CAA*

        Since you mentioned socks and Dumbledore in the same post … have you seen Target’s 12 days of Harry Potter socks?

        1. babblemouth*

          I have and I’m dying for it, but live in a country they’re not shipping to :( I’ll just seethe in my envy over here.

      2. Ktelzbeth*

        So mad! They changed my favorite socks. I just ordered another bunch and they are not as good. /rant over

      3. Red Reader*

        And see, I’m super picky about socks, there’s exactly one style I tolerate wearing, so chances are very high that if anyone got me socks, I’d hate them.

    4. Julianne*

      I got my mom and sister oven mitts with maps of Michigan on them, and fancy coffee for my dad and brother. Everyone will probably get a book, too. We plan to ask for a blender and the Bread Toast Crumbs cookbook, and if anyone wants to get us a new vacuum (or money to put towards a new vacuum) that would be cool too.

      I do feel like gifting is hard in my family. We have really different interests and are all lucky enough to be employed in jobs that allow us some “fun” money, so even if I had a better idea of *what* to give anyone, they would probably have already bought it for themself anyway!

      1. Circus peanuts*

        I forget which northern European country it is that has a tradition of giving everyone a book on Christmas eve. It might be Iceland? It makes them one of the top markets for books in their area.

        Amy Dickinson of Ask Amy and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me advocates putting a book in every child’s stocking for Christmas eve.

        1. Daughter of Siggur*

          Yes, Iceland has the Jolabokaflod (Christmas Book Flood) tradition. People give each other books on Christmas Eve, then spend the evening reading. As a result, most books are sold in Iceland between September and December in preparation for this. There’s even a special book catalogue produced and distributed to people for them to choose the books they want.

    5. Allypopx*

      If you like adult coloring books there are also adult paint-by-numbers kits that are really cool, I asked for a couple of those. Books. I asked for a couple cookbooks. I’m quitting my job in December so I’ve asked for Market Basket gift cards so I can eat. Expensive alcohol/wine (Malfey gin is super good I got that last Christmas). Games – board games, video games, depending on taste. Cozy clothes/winter accessories. Anything homemade is sweet, I think I’m gonna make candles for everyone this year.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haven’t even thought about gifts for the family yet. My boyfriend and I are renting a house at the beach for Christmas week, so that’s our gift to each other. I really want a new pair of noise cancelling headphones (my old Beats are done), but I don’t feel right asking anyone to get me a $350 gift.

      I’m very good at getting gifts for people, even strangers. When I worked retail, this was my superpower. I ask a few questions and then I find something. I like to give people unusual things that they wouldn’t buy for themselves. My mother is impossible in this regard, because she buys herself anything she wants and she doesn’t have any real hobbies. I might get her and my stepfather a Zingerman’s something-of-the-month club.

      Speaking of, those “box” clubs are great. My boyfriend discovered the Gentleman’s Box a few years ago, and my mom gets him a 3-month subscription for his birthday and Chanukah every year.

    7. bunniferous*

      I know some folks call this the easy way out but I like gift cards. My mother gets me those but still drives me nuts asking me WHERE I want a gift card from….look, surprise me! It is not that hard! Heh.

      1. Nicole*

        I don’t exchange gifts with many people, and my birthday is two weeks after Christmas which means all the gift giving is compressed into a short period, so gift cards bum me out. I’d rather have a thoughtful gift that cost $10 than a $25 gift card.

      2. DDJ*

        To me, it can depend on the gift card. My friends and family know I like some of the fancy (expensive!) Starbucks drinks, but I refuse to spend that kind of money on them, so I’ll usually get a small Starbucks gift card or two during the holidays, and I appreciate it because it means I can go get something I’m really going to enjoy but would otherwise never buy for myself.

    8. anon24*

      I hate Christmas lists. What I did this year is create a public list on Amazon of things I want. It’s not even really a Christmas list, because when I have extra cash I purchase whatever item I want the most. It’s just my way of keeping track of personal wants and buying them when I can, instead of compulsively buying them all at once. So this year anyone who asks is being directed to my list and if they buy me stuff off of it that’s great, if not I’ll just get it later.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        See, to me Christmas list and amazon gift list is the are the same thing. I assumed that was what everyone meant….

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          Me too. All my family and friends do this. I do have separate lists for things I may buy for myself and things I’d like as gifts, though.

        2. anon24*

          I guess I just meant that I didn’t really make it special as a list. It’s my normal shopping list. I didn’t put any extra effort into it

    9. Janelle*

      Ok so I like ideas for adults but lists for kids. Kids can be difficult or get the same thing again and again.

      Don’t hate me but I just finished my Xmas shopping. I used to hate it and get stressed. Now I just bang it out before thanksgiving. Going to Target for esssntjals. Oh fist for cousin. Amazon sale oh gift for mom.

    10. Amadeo*

      I keep a Pinterest board throughout the year and pin neat things to it that I generally wouldn’t get for myself, but would like to have, and then pin some things closer to Christmas that I will get after the new year. It’s easy for me to curate because it requires only the Pin It button on my browser, my family is happy that there are a variety of price points to choose from there (there’s everything from cheap $20 necklaces to $100+ gallery prints) and they know now to just go there instead of asking me what I want.

      If I decide I don’t want something anymore or I’ve received it, I just delete it. It’s seriously the easiest Christmas ‘list’ thing I’ve ever done.

    11. Kj*

      I keep an Amazon wish list for myself and will share with my parents/in-laws if they ask. I don’t unless they ask though. It is mostly books for work, plus a few dresses though- nothing fancy. My mom always gets me socks or tights and books and my in laws tend to get me a sweater. All are nice. I tend to give books, hand-made jewelry, and spices (to my brother who loves to cook and lives in Alaska, far from a good spice store). Mom sometimes gets other sorts of art.

    12. Courtney*

      Well, it’s nice that they ask! My mother-in-law has never asked what any of us want for Christmas. Both us and the kids get whatever caught her eye in the clearance section or at garage sales. She even leaves the price tags on so we know what a good deal it was. Then her and my father-in-law will get each other news cars paid for in full.

      Anyways. Since that was a vent that totally didn’t answer your question. The suggestions I gave my husband and parents when they asked were: work clothes, a litograph scarf, a cast iron skillet, an Alex and Ani Harry Potter bracelet. And it’s me, so there’s certain stuff they always know I like – makeup, new YA books for my class collection, etc.

      1. Courtney*

        Re-reading this I’m realizing it sounds extra snarky because I forgot to add the detail that they’re generally passive aggressive gifts. Like, my boys’ favorite toys are ‘girly’ things, so they get toys that go with “boy” stuff they’re not at all into, and she knows it but thinks they should be. I get home decor items that she will say she knows aren’t my style but she thinks it’s so much nicer than ‘insert what we have here’. Etc. And my husband gets things like underwear, because what man in his thirties doesn’t want mommy to still buy his underwear?

    13. Aphrodite*

      I find it worth it to bookmark on my laptop things all year long that I don’t think of as gifts as much as things I think I need or want in all price ranges. They are all in a folder called “Buy” and there are often sub-folders such as Bedroom, Kitchen, Home Decor, Clothes, etc. What I like about the list is that I end up taking things off about half the time because once I have bookmarked and looked at them repeatedly I find I am not as enthusiastic as I first thought. But others come through like champs and eventually end up in my life.

      So when I get asked about a list I simply copy and past the item and its URL into an email. Last year my brother got me a set of percale pillowcases I want (I will likely need to buy the sheets on my own) .

      As for what I have now, it includes percale sheets (and more pillowcases and a couple of down pillows) from The Company Store, some antique/vintage maps or jadeite dishes on Etsy, broomstick skirts, white chocolate, kneepads since my knees seem to dislike being forced to scrub floors, LED candles, genuine sea glass, a litter mat for the cats, steak knives, a malachite pillow cover, a couple of prints for the guest bathroom, red lampshades for the lamps in the guest bedroom, maybe having them get printed some gorgeous free photographic prints offered online, and more.

      I really like using bookmarks like this because it avoids purchases I regret and lets me “hold” potential purchases until I am sure.

      1. Courtney*

        Yes! I totally have a bunch of bookmarks saved on my computer for this purpose. I know some people feel like it’s not as thoughtful to have a specific gift list, but I don’t really see why not. I get what I want, and my husband gets a stress-free gift shopping experience. It works perfectly for us.

        1. Aphrodite*

          And they still hold the element of surprise because when they get a list you don’t know what they are going to choose!

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Yes! My gifts are things that I’ve circled in LL Bean, but I’m still surprised because I circle a lot of stuff in there, and I still don’t know what I’m going to get. It’s nice to get something that I had forgotten I wanted and to be pleasantly surprised by it on Christmas morning.

    14. Epsilon Delta*

      I have a few relatives that are SO HARD to buy for. Generally men, as the women all have hobbies like knitting, adult coloring, coffee etc that are easy to get related gifts.

      What we do for those hard-to-buy-for relatives are family photos, winter gear (warm hats etc), and restaurant gift cards.

      1. ECHM*

        I have started a business writing biographies, so I am going to give my mom and father-in-law each a “gift certificate” for a free biography.

    15. Be the Change*

      Equipment or supplies for their hobbies (I would like a 20-lb soft medicine ball and an ab-mat, and a kettlebell…crossfit junkie. Also I looooove colored pens, coloring cards, journals.)

      Movie tickets — our local theater will sell you a book of like 30 tickets for a discounted price that are good for any movie.

      Possibly the best things I ever got: wicked good LL Bean slippers, an immersion mixer, a hand-tied broom, and 20 yr ago when my sister had literally no money, the BEST thing ever: she wrote little notes and quotes, and wrapped them around seashells, beach glass, and little pine cones and gave me a jarful (gulp sniffle, still have them all).

      For women, earrings are always a great fallback. For men…ya got me. A nice razor?

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      I am a fan of gift lists. If I have a fantastic idea, I can go off-list! It’s allowed. But if I don’t, then knowing that my son wants this specific style of headphones, or my dad this specific military history book, is really helpful.

      If you know anyone who lives where it’s cold, particularly if they find wool itchy: Lothlarian gloves, socks, and other clothing, made from a blend of wool with possum fur. I bought a pair of gloves when actually in New Zealand, treasured them for years, and was so thrilled when I finally found them online–all other wool items are just too itchy to tolerate unless they don’t contact my skin at all, but I can wear these socks all day long. I order them from Three Islands Co in NZ, and the shipping doesn’t strike me as different from if I ordered standard delivery in the US. Checked online, gloves are about $13 US, socks $18.

    17. The Other Dawn*

      Well, the things I want this year are not things that my family could afford other than my husband, so I’ll likely just buy them on my own. I don’t mean I’m looking for $500 items. It’s generally LL Bean items, like a good down jacket, Bean boots, and stuff like that. I’m making up an Amazon wish list for certain items that I need, like a replacement for my 3 quart saucepan that’s dented, warm mittens/gloves (my fingers NEVER stay warm while I’m snow blowing/shoveling), maybe some slipper socks and flannel.

      As far as gifting to others…I haven’t a clue yet. It’s kind of a weird year this year: my dad died in March and my brother died in July. I’m not sure if any of us (siblings) will be feeling the Christmas spirit this year. We’re just kind of playing it by ear right now. I do have some ideas for my husband, though. He’s mentioned a few things he either needs or wants, and I’ve been paying attention to what he picks up when we’re in the store. We’ve gotten pretty good over the last few years in that we really don’t need to make lists anymore. We do, but it’s really just a general guide and comes with the understanding that we don’t need to go by the list, and if we don’t get something, then we just buy it after Christmas if it’s something we really wanted.

      1. Anono-me*

        I got some gloves for people who ice fish at the local Farm Store. They’re my favourite gloves for outdoor winter tasks.

      2. Emmie*

        LL Bean jackets have gone on sale for 50% off for a few days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I highly recommend the sale and coats. They were amazing when I lived in a colder climate!
        I am so sorry about your dad and brother.

    18. Aly_B*

      I love gift lists. I didn’t grow up with them but it’s getting time for me to get this year’s compiled for my in-laws. They’re actually fantastic gift givers, and they will often come up with something we didn’t even know we needed (hello high quality oven mitts that are actually gloves with little grippy strips on them!) But our asks will be something like “earrings” or “wine glasses” and they’ll interpret from there so it’s still a surprise and their good gift choosing when I get earrings I actually wear a couple of days a week or fancy stemless wine glasses and an aerator. This year’s list so far but I will be keeping an eye on this thread: Wool mitts or gloves, single serve blender, earrings (again), and (on my husband’s/household’s list) instant pot.

    19. oldbiddy*

      Something fun for the barbeque fanatic or cooking geek. I got my husband a double probe meat thermometer for when he smokes stuff – it’s got a transmitter so you can check the temperature of both the meat and the smoker from the comfort of the living room. it will also come in handy if ‘m cooking two roasts in the oven at the same time, or being a geek and checking my oven temperature.

    20. kas*

      I asked my family to send me their lists like two weeks ago. I refuse to be a last minute shopper this year. I’m having the hardest time providing them with my list though, there’s nothing I need so I usually ask for money but it’s getting boring opening up envelopes.

    21. MsChanandlerBong*

      I struggle with this, too! What makes me happy is a Walmart gift card so I can buy groceries or an Amazon gift card so I can stock up on cat litter and paper towels. I have more jewelry than I’ll ever wear, I use the same tote bag all the time (and I have a separate purse for special occasions), and I am more into experiences than I am into stuff. There are some things I’d like for the house (wall art, rugs, etc.), but we may be moving within the next year, so we’ve decided not to spend any money on decorative items because we don’t know if we’ll be staying here. However, some of my relatives insist that gifts should be “frivolous” things you wouldn’t buy yourself.

      Do you like massages? How about a gift certificate to the local spa? An individual membership to your local zoo or botanic garden? Tickets to a show you’d like to see?

    22. HannahS*

      Generic things people get me that I like: socks, lip balm (I like to leave one in every bag I own plus one in the bathroom), hand cream, fancy soap to put in my bathroom, hand sanitizer to leave in every bag I own, small potted plant, stationary (for writing thank-you notes), tea + accouterments, travel mug, spice blends for cooking, tea towels (can never have too many), fun patterned rubber gloves for washing dishes.

      What I’ve given to others: my dad gets his favourite cookies, my brother either gets homemade frozen dinners or a cake, my mom likes flowers and a card. When buying for friends I try to get things that are consumable, like tea samplers or hand cream, and are one step nicer than they would buy for themselves. So if my friend buys her tea at the grocery store, I buy her a David’s Tea sampler box. In the past, I’ve also given a homemade gift basket–gourmet tea, a mug, a tea strainer, and homemade shortbread all wrapped up really nicely. Recently I bought iconically-patterned tea towels from Hudson’s Bay to give to someone who isn’t Canadian as a gift; something special from where I live.

      1. Grumpy*

        Lol! I came here to post this exact question, it’s that time of year.
        Love this generic list and Whole Foods has lip balm on sale so I’ll grab a bunch of them. Thank you.
        I always suggest Starbucks cards for me, seriously, I will use them and think of the giver every time I use it. (This just does not happen. I get clothes I would never, ever wear.)
        My dream gift this year is one of those chefs knives that cost as much as a car payment. Or a cashmere travel wrap. Or warm wool socks. Or wine.

        1. HannahS*

          Haha yeah after I wrote it, I realized I’m one scented candle away from being the most generic version of a Buzzfeed gift-guide for young women. And I’m with you on the gift cards. Even five bucks makes it like they’re treating me to a drink.

    23. kittymommy*

      This is ine readon i like Amazon wish list. While I use it really as a list for myself, it’s easy to point others there if they ask.

    24. Ruthie*

      More expensive: Instant Pot, Cricut or Silhouette, noise-cancelling headphones, Amazon Echo or Google Home, nice luggage (I bought a highly recommended carry-on from Costco this year and love it), grill.

      Less expensive: yard games or board games, a set of nice colorful pens (my family gives one person a $30 gift and I’m asking for a Le Pen set I saw an Amazon), a good kitchen knife, cast iron skillet, beach or camping gear.

    25. Maya Elena*

      Books and unnecessary but useful kitchen items, eg an egg slicer or blender.
      Things you wouldn’t buy yourself but would use if given to you.

    26. A. Non*

      I usually tell people tea now– anything decaf, because I can drink it at work or at home and it can be nice to try different kinds. If coffee is your jam, say coffee, or hot chocolate, or some other thing; otherwise, think of something small to mediumish that would make you life better or easier or a stressful time more comfortable. Even if you only use what you’ve given for a short time, you’ll think of them and it’ll be easy to say ‘thank you for your thoughtfulness’ and be genuine.

    27. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m super late to this party but I always ask for stuff for my house. This year I’m asking for a food processor.

      (On a related note my mom is AWFUL at buying presents for me so I usually send her a link to the exact thing I want.)

    28. Jules the Third*


      Eight of the last ten years, men’s black athletic socks, 4 – 6 pairs. One year, crazy knee-highs, the last year my sock drawer was full. I love Sockmas.

      I usually get a scarf or shirts for my mom, something odd for my dad. I’ve gotten lucky at consignment stores for my sisters and niece the last few years.

    29. DDJ*

      If there’s a particular liquor you like, let them know. Or even if it’s like “I like whiskeys, and I’d be interested in trying something new.” My husband’s family knows that bourbon is the way to go for me. I prefer consumables for gifts, and liquor gifts are usually the kind of thing where I’ll really enjoy it, but have trouble justifying spending the money. Those are great gifts, in my mind. If someone has something they really like but probably consider to be frivolous, those are the kinds of things I like to get. $25 gourmet hot chocolate mix for someone who enjoys hot chocolate. Ice wine-filled truffles. A really nice bottle of port can be a fun one. I find that thinking of someone’s “nice to have” and then taking it to the extreme can be a lot of fun.

      My favourite things to get are either cozy sweaters and socks, or booze. Personally. Oh, and fancy cheeses. If you enjoy this type of thing, tickets to wine tastings can be a fun thing to ask for.

      Or if you’re upgrading your life, those are nice things to ask for. New wine glasses, maybe? Or a serving tray? Or a nice roaster (le creuset?). My husband got me a new wallet for Christmas last year and it was such a thoughtful gift. He just figured that since I was working hard on integrating quality items into my life, that a wallet would be a good thing to upgrade. And he was totally right. But it’s not something I would ever have even thought to ask for.

  4. Gaia*

    It has been forever but: weight loss update.

    My two week trip has no morphed into a 10 week trip (I’m somewhere near week 6…I think) and the first several of those were spent in a hotel. I haven’t been very good with my food decisions and the lack of a gym has been hard but I’m doing what I can and keeping a positive attitude about it. My goal was to at least not gain back any weight and so far, I’ve dropped 7.8lbs while I’ve been here so yay!

    I crossed a big milestone this week and I’m down to 298.6lbs. I haven’t been under 300lbs in 3 years and I nearly cried. I’m not taking the medication any more. I didn’t have more than 2 weeks of it and it is banned here so I can’t refill it. I definitely notice a difference but I’m doing steady work on my own so I’ll keep up this route.

    Now if only I could shake this cold!

    1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Would you be willing to catch me up on what you’ve been doing? I don’t always read the open threads so don’t know the full story. What medication were you using? What eating plan? Etc.

      (Thank you!)

      1. Gaia*

        Happy to!

        I’ve found that I don’t do well with “diets” because they feel overly restrictive to me. I do better with large focus changes. So I did two things: I cut out candy, soda (I say as I drink a Coke Zero right now…) and fast food completely. No exceptions (she says as she sips her Coke Zero….) In addition, if food had sugar added I removed it or replaced it with a healthier alternative. Finally, I focused on moving more. I walk to work two times a week (1 mile), I walk for 15 minutes on lunch, I walk to the little grocery store down the road for dinner ingredients.

        To be honest though, most of this weight loss was started off by taking phentermine under doctor supervision for a little more than a month. I dropped 20lbs in 4 weeks.

        It is hard and it sucks and I (clearly) fail to keep my standards sometimes. But it is possible and really the number one thing that makes me keep going is accountability. I post here and I check in with my doctor. I have seriously unhealthy relationships with food and border on food addiction. Unlike other addictions, you can’t just quit food. Every day, a thousand times, I have to make a conscious decision to eat healthier foods (even if no “healthy” option is available) and that is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But I’m doing it. But I needed help.

        1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

          Thank you!

          I’m coming to the conclusion that I need help too, so I appreciate your sharing.

          1. Gaia*

            There is no shame in needing help. The reality is very few people can lose significant weight by just eating better and moving more. Those two things are critical to success but often people need help to kick off.

            Whether you do or don’t, I encourage you to try all of your options.

            1. Effie*

              Reading this thread made me realize I was full and had the option to stop eating (instead of clearing my plate – i’ll save it for later), so thank you!

              1. Gaia*

                Yay! That is such a huge thing and you should be really proud!

                That is the hardest thing for me. I was raised to “clear my plate” because we were food insecure and the idea of wasting it was obscene. Now, I’m not food insecure but as a consequence of my childhood (and, generally, poor impulse control) I have a hard time stopping even when full. If it tastes good I just want more. I stock pile food at home because I can and I don’t ever want to open an empty fridge again. It isn’t healthy.

  5. Merci Dee*

    It’s gonna be a great Saturday. Haircuts in a little bit, and then kiddo is making me breakfast for a school project. Should be fun!

      1. Merci Dee*

        My daughter’s in 7th grade, and the project was for Civics class. Since it’s November, the kids were assigned a project where they had to do a random act of kindness for someone in their lives to show how thankful the kids are to have them. I think it’s a very sweet project, and I’m especially excited that my girl chose to do something for me. She’s my angel!

    1. Sparkly Librarian*

      Yes it is! I slept until 10, then I have 2.25 books to read, and a small handicraft to attempt. Slow cooker going with lamb and carrots, and when my wife wakes up (she works overnights) we’ll have smoothies and maybe eggs and biscuits. Under a warm blanket topped with cats!

      1. Merci Dee*

        Ooooh, sounds nice! We were out the door before 10:00, since that was the appointment time for our haircuts. But I certainly certainly enjoyed a nap this afternoon, which also featured blankets and a cat!

        And I hope you had some delicious gravy to go with those biscuits for breakfast! Nothing like crumbling up steaming biscuits and slathering them with some good homemade gravy. Mm-mmmm!

  6. babblemouth*

    I’m trying to make my own Christmas decorations this year. I’ve found some pretty glitter paper to do pinwheels with and I’m so happy with them. I think I’ll cherish those way more than any store-bought decorations.

    Have you ever made your own Christmas decoration? What tutorials can you recommend?

    1. Melody Pond*

      I’m not super crafty, but when I was a kid, I remember my stepmom taking all the pictures in frames around the house, and wrapping them in Christmas wrapping paper (often adding a bow), and then putting them back up.

      This made it look like the halls were decorated with Christmas presents. And I imagine it was pretty cheap and very easy.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Ooh yes! I saw this at a bar/restaurant last year and loved it. They had wrapped some of the big screen TVs and the wall art in festive paper with big bows.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I just made an ornament wreath yesterday for work (I work for a family) and it turned out great. It’s a great project, especially if you have lots of extra ornaments. Tutorial here: https://retrorenovation.com/2013/11/18/30-tips-how-to-make-vintage-christmas-ornament-wreath/

      I also loved making these paper snowflakes as a kid. All you need is printer paper (but decorative paper would be lovely), scissors, scotch tape, and a stapler. They look so fancy and complicated but are really pretty easy. http://www.instructables.com/id/3D-Paper-Snowflake-In-Four-Easy-Steps/

      There are also a million ideas on Pinterest. Is there anything in particular you want to make? Table decorations? Wall decorations? Wreaths? Faux Christmas tree?

    3. Lightly-chewed Jimmy*

      paper chains (which would be awesome with glitter paper! I may steal that idea :D ), pipe-cleaner candy canes, and pipe-cleaner chains (like paper chains but made of the metallic pipe cleaners)

    4. MilkMoon (UK)*

      I’m planning to make a garland with dried orange slices :)

      I’m having to get more creative with my decor as we’ve decided to not put a tree up – we got a cat last year and I spent the entire festive season 2016 stressing as she went on a one-cat mission to DESTROY TOWER OF SHINY THINGS. It wasn’t the tree I was worried about it was her – batting fragile ornaments around that could smash, and the fairy light wires!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I made angels and Father Christmases out of cones of coloured card with a polystyrene ball for the head and then added cotton wool beards (for Father Christmas) and sequins and lametta hair for the angels. The important thing is to have very strong glue and somewhere to leave the cones and heads to dry.

    5. SongBird*

      I used to wrap my door in holiday wrap. I loved it.

      Also, salt dough is great for handmade decorations. https://www.wikihow.com/Make-Salt-Dough

      Or cornstarch dough: http://www.urbanblisslife.com/diy-bliss-baking-soda-christmas-ornaments/

      I like to make paper snowflakes – this tutorial shows you how to make 5 pointed ones! https://howaboutorange.blogspot.com/2010/12/how-to-make-5-pointed-paper-snowflakes.html

      I’ve also strung large bells on cord to make jingly garlands.

  7. Anon to me*

    I ran the NYC marathon last Sunday. I was very scared, but it was awesome and I didn’t hate my time

    1. babblemouth*

      You are AWESOME! That is an incredible achievement, no matter what your time is; so you get double congrats!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Congratulations!!! That’s an amazing accomplishment. Just think, your first marathon was in terrible weather, it will only go uphill (no pun intended) from here. :)

      1. Anon to me*

        LOL…well I’m definitely hoping the next one is drier and flatter! Although I didn’t think that it was that hilly.

    3. Alison Read*

      I read this as scared due to the terrorism threat? If so, thank you for overcoming that and winning that battle against the evil trying to control us. If I’m wrong – kudos are also deserved for getting out there and running a freaking marathon, a major one to boot. I am not a runner, never have been, so you guys are a source of awe to me.

    4. paul*

      Good on y’all :) A friend of mine was there (got in a bit under 3 hours I think). Y’all got some grit to finish a marathon!

    5. Grumpy*

      Me too. Congrats! That was amazing, no? Are you going to do it again?
      How are feeling? Did you do the death march for a poncho?
      Yay, Shalane too. We crossed the same finish line she did.

  8. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I overdid it last night at an outdoor event will a lot of walking and am now on the sofa with my knee elevated and in its brace. Recovery from injuries SUCKS. I’ve been making amazing progress and feeling so great, but then, you know, I have to actually listen to what my PT tells me and not walk on uneven terrain for two miles. Awesome.

    Because I’ve been so sedentary from this knee, I signed up for Weight Watchers again. I’ve been doing really well this week, but I don’t think I’ve lost any weight, and that’s really disappointing. The first time I did WW, I lost 5 pounds in the first week. I have to remember that I was also able to exercise a whole lot more that time. Harrumph.

    1. DC*

      Injury recovery is the worst! I highly recommend adult coloring books, or the little metal models for when you’re couch-bound. Good luck!

    2. Alison Read*

      Exactly! We must listen to our medical advisors and our bodies. This is why I hate! hate! hate! the new Ford commercial that shows an older woman being told by her doctor to take it slow (after a knee replacement?) – yet the next scene has her in the garage on an elliptical being cheered on by her daughter with a finale of some kind of race/run. That commercial makes me actually want to yell at the TV to STOP! Stop telling people to just bull your body into compliance and ignore the doctors!!! You can’t even do it safely when you’re young, my 18 yo two weeks ago was back at the orthopedist & PT because he’s overworked his shoulder. Currently our society seems to say ignore the experts, if you’re strong enough mentally you can overcome physical restrictions. Aaarggh! Please take it easy and be kind to your body!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that ad is so weird. It’s very clear that it’s some kind of post-surgery post-incident warning, and it would have been easy enough to write it as a clueless doctor who has low expectations of the old folks instead.

    3. Beaded Librarian*

      I can relate to the overdoing it at an event but for un unfortunately different reason. Don’t get in fights at concerts you will regret it. But yeah remembering to listen to your PT can be hard. I need to get moving more myself.

  9. Greece Travel Tips!!!*

    Anyone have any tips/advice for visiting Athens and Santorini mid-February*? We’ll apparently be there for the Carnival/Apokries – not sure what to expect in terms of crowds, etc., so any tips on that would be much appreciated!

    Also, we’re huge foodies so restaurant recommendations in particular are welcomed!

    *We’re aware that it is off-season and will not be warm enough for swimming/beach activities.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      This advice is from my honeymoon 27 years ago:

      Meteora, which I recall as being a reasonable bus ride from Athens. It’s a bunch of soaring stone pillars (natural; meteora = rocks in the air) with monastaries and nunneries–some large, some individual hermitages–scattered on the tops. Unique, cool, like something out of a fantasy movie.

    2. Cookie D'oh*

      In Athens, we liked the restaurant Tzitzikas Kai Mermigas. It’s near Syntagma Square.

      It seemed that most of the big tour groups were at the Acropolis in the morning. We went back again in the afternoon and it was less busy. The Acroplis Museum is a must-see.

      There are lots of stray cats in the area! We saw a nice man come by to feed them. They recognized him when he came on his bicycle and started following him. It was really cute. Unfortunately there’s no trap-neuter-return, so the car population is not controlled.

      We were only on Santorini for a few hours as part of a cruise. We ate at a seafood restaurant called Thalami. I ordered the shrimp and it came as-is with the head and everything. Not something I was used to seeing!

    3. MilkMoon (UK)*

      Well ALL of the museums, obviously.

      Wrap-up and take a cocktail at the A for Athens rooftop bar at sunset (or evening) – it has a stunning view of the acropolis, which is all lit-up at night.

      There are a LOT of food places so my only tip is to look at where’s busy with locals as a gauge for good, authentic Greek cuisine. Also they put oregano on EVERYTHING.

      The (rocky) ground at the top of the acropolis has been worn smooth over the centuries, so wear footwear you won’t slip in.

      Go shopping in the plaka, there’s a really nice jewellery shop called Kostis that in particular has lots of lovely silver & gemstone jewellery at good prices.

      The underground service is good but we walked pretty much everywhere. People will drive their mopeds on the pavement to get around car traffic so just keep your wits about you!

      There’s a lot of graffiti, particularly anarchy symbols, after their financial crash. Just mentioned so you’re not shocked by it! I have to say we felt very safe there.

      Have a lovely time!!

  10. Mrs. Fenris*

    Advice on travel to London with family? We are finally going to London next summer! It will be me, Fenris, 18 year old son and 14 year old daughter. I spent the summer there in 1987 so I do (or did) know my way around on the Tube/train. We are renting a flat near the Kilburne tube station. Any advice on must-sees, things to avoid, anything else I need to know? Day trips? I know this is very general.

    1. babblemouth*

      London museums are AMAZING. Take a day and walk around the Natural history Museum, the Science museum and the Victoria and Albert museum. They are all within 5 minutes of each other, and all free.

      One really cool thing I did this summer was going to a play at the Shakespeare Globe. If you’re ok to stand for the duration of the play, the tickets are amazingly cheap – 5 pounds a person. I hesitated a lot before trying as standing for 3 hours sounded exhausting, but with the right shoes it was ok in the end, plys the play was REALLY good, and it’s a really unique experience.

      1. babblemouth*

        Forgot one thing: on a warm-ish day, go have breakfast/brunch at the Lido in Hyde Park. One of the most relaxing things you can do in London IMO.

      2. Traveling Teacher*

        But reserve in advance! I didn’t and was gutted that every single play at the Globe was sold out for the two days I was there!

    2. AnnaleighUK*

      Check out The Clink museum – it’s a little different and really fun! And get Oyster cards for your trip, buses no longer take cash payments and it’s simpler than trying to buy tickets for the Tube. Also take a walk along the South Bank, there’s so much to see and do. Based on the ages of your kids they might enjoy a trip to Boxpark in Shoreditch or Camden. Enjoy yourself!

      1. Londoner*

        If you have a contact debit or credit card you can use that instead of an Oyster card. Just touch your payment card to the oyster reader. No need to pay the oyster card £5 deposit. And the daily spend will be capped at the cost of a one day pass, and the weekly spend is capped at the one week pass amount.

    3. Seal*

      The last time I was in London was 2006, but I had been several times before that. As babblemouth says, the museums are amazing. I’d add the Imperial War Museum to that list. Also both Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral are well worth the visit, as is the Tower of London. The one museum I’d like to visit the next time I’m there is the London Transport Museum; it was closed for renovation last time I was there.

      I’ve taken day trips to Stonehenge, Bath, and Windsor Castle and enjoyed them all. Part of the fun was getting to see the country outside of London.

    4. Greece Travel Tips!!!*

      Seconding V&A museum – definitely a must-see!

      I think the markets are also a ton of fun to explore, Borough Market and Camden Market in particular!

      1. Greece Travel Tips!!!*

        Also if you happen to find yourself in the Hampstead area, there’s an amazing crepe place: La Crêperie de Hampstead. My friend who studied abroad in Paris said it was the best crepe she ever had.

        Also the Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter was everything you’d hope for it to be.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            There’s also now a Harry Potter shop at Kings Cross – it’s called the Shop at Platform 9 and 3 Quarters.

    5. Kathenus*

      I loved the Tower of London and wished I had more time there. Second Seal’s suggestion of Stonehenge. If you go there, I highly recommend paying the extra for the tour where you get to go into the stone circle, versus just looking at it from behind a chain from a ways back. The London Zoo is great too, and I really enjoyed the Thames River cruise we took. The House of Commons allowed you to go in and watch the proceedings, so I did that one evening and it was pretty interesting.

        1. Londoner*

          The boat rides on the Thames are very good, you can go to Greenwich (great market) and on to the Thames barrier going east, or west to Richmond and Kew Gardens.

          Also, you are in a good place to get to Little Venice for a boat ride along the canal. Take any bus going south down Kilburn High Road (16, 98 and maybe 332. Get out at St Johns Wood Road (all buses are blind-accessible and announce all the stops) walk along the open stretch of canal to the boat basin. There are 2 companies that run converted canal barges to Camden Market (neat stalls and street food. It’s a teenage destination). If you like walking, then walk back along the towpath until you get to the first bridge into Regents Park. Keep going straight down the Broadwalk through the ornamental gardens. At the southern end of the park you can pick up the tube at Regents Park with an easy change at Baker st for the Jubilee line. Primrose Hill is just north of the bridge into the park and on a clear day there are good views of the City from the top.

    6. misspiggy*

      With kids especially, pick a neighbourhood for each day and do things within it. London is essentially a network of villages, and it can be exhausting zipping from place to place. Pretty much any location will have good museums, art, shops and food. Like, although Tate Modern and the Tower of London are only on opposite banks of the river, don’t try to do them both in one day. I’d do one indoor and one outdoor/street attraction each day, plus all the food, window shopping and wandering that come alongside. For example, the South Bank and Tate Modern can easily fill a day from morning to night.

      1. Traveling Teacher*

        Very good point about museums, although all of the national museums are free! So, don’t feel like you have to see everything in the museum. Look up what area you’d like to see or just wander til you’re tired of being in the museum and just…leave! Especially with kids, I’ve found that to be a very freeing part of visiting museums in England, :)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I’m such a museum nerd, and one of my favorite things about London is that there are so MANY. Little strange ones that aren’t necessarily free but interesting nonetheless. Then big cool ones like V&A, the British Museum, and the exhibits at the British Library, which is one of my favorite places on earth. I refuse to get rid of my expired reader pass because, ya know, nerd cred. ;)

    7. Traveling Teacher*

      If you’re tired and don’t know what to do, hop on a bus and ride til you see something interesting. Double Decker buses are great entertainment, and you get a great view of London. For transport, there are so many options, but public transit in London is mega-expensive compared to just about every other European capital I’ve been to! Look into getting Oyster cards and what the best deals are if you’re going to be there for long.

      One of my favorite things to do in London when I pass through on a train is to grab lunch then walk to Buckingham palace and picnic on the grounds outside. It’s a very touristy thing to do, but I LOVE it.

      1. Max Kitty*

        I much prefer riding the buses to the Tube just because you get to see stuff. I particularly like riding on the No. 15 from Trafalgar Square area to the Tower of London. Passes St. Paul’s Cathedral on the way. Traffic usually is terrible, though.

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        One thing to note here is that buses no longer take cash – you must have an Oyster or contactless card to pay for your bus fare. There is a £5 deposit fee to get one but I think you can turn them in and claim that back at the end of your trip (I’m not sure how that works, to be honest). There is a visitor one that gives you a few discounts (money off fancy restaurants, a free croissant at a coffee shop chain, some museums and galleries) but you can’t get your deposit back and you can’t put a 7-day or monthly season ticket on it. TFL will try to persuade you to get the discount one but you should be able to get one at any tube station. It’s also much easier to just top up an Oyster card (or use your contactless card if it will work in the UK, I don’t know if non-UK ones do) than to buy paper tickets.

    8. Max Kitty*

      The Churchill War Rooms is really great to learn about WWII. The audio tour helps you imagine the Blitz. It’s near Westminster Abbey.

      The National Gallery is on Trafalgar Square; free entry for some world-class masterpieces! St. Martin’s church next door has a nice cafe in the crypt (and an interesting gift shop).

      If you want to see a show and don’t have your heart set on something in particular, there is a discount TKTS ticket booth in Leicester Square for last-minute (same day, next day) tickets. They have a website so you can see what they’re offering before you go. (I got a ticket there for The Play that Goes Wrong summer before last, and it was hilarious!)

      1. Mrs. Fenris*

        They still do last minute tickets in Leicester Square? That’s cool. We did that quite a bit back then.

    9. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I would suggest planning what you want to see and then see what is “groupable”. For example you could do the Tate Modern +Borough Market (lunch) + Tower of London (its walkable – 20 mins on the Thames Path north side of the river) in a day and then take a river bus back (or the Tube). Actually, thinking about it, you may want to go Tower first (if you go a bit past the bridge you can see the Royal Barge moored in St Katherine’s Docks), then Sky Garden (see below), then Shoreditch in one day and instead go Kilburn-> London Bridge on the tube and start the day at Borough Market -> Tate Modern -> St Pauls.

      Greenwich is good fun – tube to a river boat stop (they take oyster or you can get a more tourist-oriented City Cruises one), boat to Greenwich which will give you a chance to toot past Canary Wharf, see the Observatory and the crazy good view from the park up there, Greenwich Market for food, lots of great, unique shops down in there that your kids will enjoy, Gypsy Moth pub, the Naval College/Cutty Sark/National Maritime Museum etc. Thats a good day out itself.

      If you want an amazing view, dont pay to go up the Shard or the Eye; go up the Walkie Talkie instead to the SkyGarden for either coffee or a cocktail (there is also a place that serves lunch). The garden is very cool and you can see for miles up there and its free to go up (security screen at the elevators). Its right by Monument station and the Tower, so its another thing you could potentially do in the area. (Checking the website it looks like they monitor numbers so you have to book a free ticket online and bring it with you – just be aware of that)

      You could also see what is on in terms of shows – there is always something on at the Royal Albert Hall and even a cheap gallery ticket will get you in to see the amazing architecture (group that with V&A and/or Science Museum/Natural History Museum). I also like taking random busses places just to ride around and see things, but I would encourage taking busses from time to time and sitting on the top deck and taking it all in!

      In the summer, however, be aware that it is going to be rammed with people, so plan accordingly. The Tower in particular is just HEAVING so hit any major tourist thing first in the day before its crammed and you are tired/over it/hungry/etc. Kilburn (I am assuming you are staying near the Jubilee line station, not the Overground or Kilburn Park) is ok but not my favorite area; Ive always felt safe and never had a problem but the high street can be a bit…. intense to put it. On the flip side you are also just a single bus/walk from heading up to West Hampstead where its a bit more polished, or you can take the 139 bus from West Hampstead past Abbey Rd Studios (watch the bus driver give no fux and practically gun the bus through the Historical Intersection in a passive-aggressive attempt to plow down errant tourists taking photos), Lords Cricket Ground and all sorts of landmarks to Oxford St/Marble Arch. Get off at Marble Arch and walk through Hyde Park and see Kensington Palace, coffee at one of the Lido cafes (there are two but the bigger one is nicer- you can also have a super posh coffee at the Serpentine Gallery), see the Albert Memorial, etc.

      I will also suggest that if any of your party are using cell phones to download the Citymapper App to help navigate and find busses etc. Also word of caution- in some areas of town (notably The City, parts of Shoreditch, more affluent areas) there are moped gangs/cyclists who will come along and pluck the phone out of your hand and keep on driving. Do not walk down the sidewalk looking at your phone if possible – move away towards the side of a building if you need to check something. They are mostly looking for iPhones, but Ive seen a gang grab a woman’s purse right off her shoulder so think of it as mobile pickpocketing :)

      Ah – one final thing, consider booking a minicab to get you from/to Heathrow (assuming you are flying in there) to Kilburn. Seriously, save yourself the hassle of the train/tube and luggage and pay £30 for the four of you (will probably work out cheaper than any other option incl. the Tube). Swiss Cottage Cars, Addison Lee, or the aggregator site Kabbee is a good one to pre-book (and you must pre-book) a minicab to the area. If you would rather do public transport then I would recommend taking the Heathrow Connect (NOT the Express) – its 2 extra stops but half the price, and the interchange Jubilee/Bakerloo at Baker Street is dead easy to get to Paddington.

      For day trips I would suggest Bath (out of Paddington) or Winchester (out of Waterloo) with a preference for the latter. Its just a lovely village/town, lots of great places to eat and drink, the cathedral is historic and the Round Table is stuck on a wall. Brighton would be a pretty good option too.

        1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          Sorry – one last thing – If you want to duck out from the crowds for a while and see a movie, the BFI on the South Bank is the best value. They show all sorts of random films (arty to popular to classics), but the theatres are gorgeous and super comfy. They have tickets on the day for £3 for under 25s, otherwise I think its about £8-12 depending on what is showing. Head for Waterloo and walk over, but stop at the market on the way or poke around the South Bank Centre known for its brutalist architecture (although try to avoid the insanity of the Eye area…) Lots of places to sit about outside the National Theatre under the trees. Eclectic shopping a bit further east at the Oxo Tower.

      1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        One New Change (a sort of shopping mall) is just down the road from St Paul’s and has a rooftop restaurant/cocktail bar that you can go up to in the glass elevator and get a nice view of St Paul’s and the surrounding area, plus they have a wide variety of chain type restaurants in there if you are tired and hungry and just want a place to sit down and eat that’s not too crowded with tourists.

        Also if you’re near Kilburn it’s only a few minutes’ walk to West Hampstead stations, where you can get on the Thameslink cross-London train line (it’s not a tube line so it’s not on the tube map) but you can take it straight to Blackfriars station, which is handy for the South Bank, Tate Modern, etc. You can use Oyster/contactless to pay for that, too, no need to buy national rail tickets every time.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      My daughter (a few years older than your kids) had a one day layover in London, and went to a Shakespeare play performed in the Globe Theater.

    11. Thlayli*

      Camden lock market – the teenagers will love it (make sure you check out Camden lock as there are other markets there), London dungeon or Jack the Ripper tour if you’re not squeamish, if it’s a sunny day a walk along the south bank is lovely and along there is the modern art museum (forget the name) and Shakespeare’s globe – definitely go see a play there it’s surprisingly cheap. There is also a lovely art museum by Trafalgar Square (I think).

    12. Ruthie*

      My finace and I were just there last month. We really enjoyed the cheap West End tickets (and we had a really good dinner before one show at a little Soho friend chicken place called Good Friend), but the highlight for us was splurging on afternoon tea at Cafe Royal in the Oscar Wilde bar.

    13. Lény*

      I haven’t seen anyone suggesting Soho – definitely something to do! I used to work in a restaurant there as a student and loved the vibe. Lots of old comic book stores, thrift stores, etc. And the people are weird – the nice kind of weird :)
      Definitely a nice area to see in my memories!

    14. HannahS*

      Oh, go to the Museum of London! It’s great for kids (and adults; I loved it). It’s got really visual exhibits that are super concrete, as well as full sized models of neighbourhoods and homes that you can walk through.

  11. Savannnah*

    Apartment hunting today in our soon to be new city, Portland! We went out last night to amazing Thai and walked around some neighborhoods trying to see different areas. So far we really like what we are seeing and are looking to live near to downtown for the first year while we look for a place to buy probably in the NE or SE part since we like the schools in the area.
    It’s also very strange to be in the US but off east coast time. I’m beginning to realize just how east coast centric my experience of the internet and news is- so that’s going to be a adjustment. Obviously not a huge thing but something I’ve not anticipated.

    1. Kj*

      Portland is lovely. The west coast is very different than the east in so many ways. I love it, but some people struggle with it. Since you are in the NW, I will encourage you to take time to visit all the natural wonders you aren’t that far from- the best thing about the west, in my opinion, is that we have everything, from rainforest to high peaks, to beautiful beaches, to islands, rivers…. Within a 4 hour drive from Portland, there is SO MUCH to do! Visit the Olympics! Crater Lake! Mt. St. Helens! Enjoy it all.

      1. Savannnah*

        Yes-we are only here for the long weekend but plan on getting out of the city and exploring once we are settled in feb! We actually just requested and got approved for my husbands company car here to have 4WD. We’ve had a lot of debate with where to live but since I’ll be unemployed and without a car for the first few months while my husband is traveling for work- downtown it is. Can you elaborate on what people struggle with? Or what you’ve noticed?

        1. Kj*

          I’m in Seattle, but in general, what I hear is many people miss the culture of the East coast, which is more formal, clothes are more dressy, people tend to be more reserved on the East coast. Then you get to the west coast and everyone dresses in REI, all the time. And business culture tends to be much less formal, which can throw folks. Things tend to close earlier, there is less ‘nightlife’ than in many east coast cities (at least according to some). NW culture is focused on the outdoors, the participatory arts (crafting) and books/reading/coffee. You can find pockets of other things, but those are big themes. Portlandia maybe a spoof, but there is more than a grain of truth there as well.

          I’d say the biggest mistake east-coasters make on moving to the west coast is playing the comparison game. We had a friend move to Portland from NYC and every word out of her mouth was a how Portland was not NY. It was weird and off-putting. Resist comparing! It is different here, but it is really fun too.

          Portland feels more small-town that Seattle. If you want a bigger city feel, Seattle is a short drive or train trip away. I love going the opposite direction and seeing Portland.

          Oh, and don’t miss the Portland Sunday market tomorrow. It is really fun.

          1. Savannnah*

            We are def going to the Sunday market! I’m originally from Vermont- lived there most of my life- so I’m hoping those types of city to city mental models won’t be there! I’ll be glad to get out of suits every day too. Thanks for the advice!

            1. Kj*

              If you are from Vermont, you should be fine. Bring a good raincoat. Locals don’t use umbrellas, weirdly enough.

              1. anomonon*

                Endless tiny misty raindrops + short wind gusts = raincoat works better. Some locals wear also shorts in winter because you dry faster.

          2. Anon anon anon*

            I’ve lived on both coasts. These are the differences I noticed:

            – On the east coast, people value direct communication. You know who does and doesn’t like you. On the west coast, there’s a, “Don’t be confrontational,” mentality where people are kind of indirect and vague – polite to the point of being hard to read. East coasters can struggle with that. Similarly, west coasters can find east coasters rude.

            – On the east coast, people tend to have close know groups of friends and stay in close touch with their family and childhood friends no matter how dysfunctional things are. On the west coast, there is a more relaxed and fluid(?) view of relationships where people kind of come and go and spend time together as they please, but there’s a different kind of respect for personal space and independence if that makes sense.

            – On the east coast, traditions like getting married and participating in religious activities are more common. On the west coast, a larger percentage of people are either against those things or see them as optional.

            – Politics. In larger west coast cities, there is a kind of taboo against conservative political views that you don’t see in other places. There are conservatives. Some are quiet about it. Some are vocal. But if you mention a viewpoint that’s associated with conservatism, people will react strongly in a uniquely west coast way. I’ve never lived in Portland, though. It might be different.

            I think those are the main cultural differences that can be challenging.

            1. Kj*

              We call the long-term relationships where folks never get married, but stay together “Seattle-
              marriage.” It is very common here. Religion isn’t unacceptable, in my experience, but it is 100% optional and no one is going to wonder if you don’t attend a service.

          3. Optimistic Prime*

            Yeah, I moved here from New York and I’ve heard the same things from friends who have moved here from the East Coast – especially the Northeast – and are struggling. They miss the ambitious, fast-paced, go-getter culture of New York et al.

        2. tigerStripes*

          It rains a lot in Portland and tends to be overcast a lot. The summers are beautiful though. The lack of sun during the rest of the year can cause people to feel sad (vitamin D helps).

          If you like to read, Powell’s Books is amazing – so big you can get lost in it. If you like animals, the Oregon Zoo has a great reputation for taking good care of its animals, and it has a lot of cool animals.

      2. Temperance*

        My husband would love to relocate to Seattle, but I’m terrified of 1.) Seattle freeze and 2.) the fact that I LOVE Philadelphia and miss it even when in a much nicer, cleaner, safer city, like Seattle.

        1. Emac*

          What is Seattle freeze? I’ve been trying to figure out for the last year or so how to relocate to Seattle. I know it would be different for me in some ways (I’m from the Boston area), but I’ve never heard of that!

          1. Kj*

            Seattle freezw= people are surface nice, but don’t want to be friends. Just be friends with transplants! We are nice. I don’t have any native seattlite friends.

          2. swingbattabatta*

            If it makes you feel any better, Seattle has been taken over by transplants, so the freeze is less of a thing now. Also, I don’t think the natives are unfriendly (ahem). I’ve always found people to be chatty and helpful. My transplant husband has had no issues with making friends, joining soccer teams, etc.

            1. Ursula*

              Yeah, the freeze is more that random people won’t try to befriend you or talk to you in any deep way. I much prefer it personally, I found people on the east coast to be invasive. That said, if people do have an actual reason to befriend you – you do an activity together, or work together, that sort of thing – they totally will. I think that because so many fewer people do formal religion here, and that’s a lot of people’s easy “get to know people” venue, people think it’s hard to meet people. Just do other kinds of activities.

          3. Temperance*

            It is a thing where people from the PNW are like surface friendly but don’t actually want to make friends with people not from the area.

            I have a few friends who moved there, and they all just make friends with other transplants.

          4. Emac*

            Interesting, thanks for all the replies! It’s funny to hear east coast culture described as ‘invasive’ and ‘intrusive’. I’ve always heard Bostonians, at least, described as reserved, and if people are also being uncharitable, unfriendly or cold.

        2. Kj*

          The freeze isn’t so bad- you just find the other transplants (about 70% of the city at this point) and be friends with them. I love Seattle overall. Seattle has its tough things- the weather is the toughest, followed by the unfriendliness of the natives. But the city has so many wonderful things- parks! coffeeshops! the Cascades! ferries! more coffee! – it is hard to be unhappy here in the long term, provided you want to be happy.

        3. Managing to get by*

          I think what people from other areas call the “Seattle Freeze” us locals just consider to be “minding our own business”. It’s not that locals will only be close friends with locals and that there’s some big friend network that’s not available to people from outside the area. It just takes time to get to know someone enough to be close friends, and it’s not automatic. And we value our personal time.

          I’ve also heard people complain when they move to the area that coworkers will be friendly and go to lunch but not invite new people to their homes. Maybe NW natives are more naturally independent, but it would never occur to me to be upset someone didn’t invite me to their home. I have people I’ve been friends with for years, and when we socialize we either go out to a cafe or do an activity together, like hiking. The only people I sit around the house with are my sister and one or two very close friends that are like family to me. And a friend of mine who moved out here from back east who will stop by on the weekends to visit. I’m afraid I might have insulted her last week when she texted to ask if she could stop by and I asked her to make it after noon rather than in the morning, but I was exhausted from a long week at work and needed time to myself before being ready to interact with anyone.

          The same goes for what people from the east coast consider to be indirect communication. If you’ve grown up in this culture, it doesn’t seem indirect. It’s just low-key. We don’t see a reason to get in someone’s face if it’s not necessary.

          When I go to the East Coast, in the cities I feel that people are intrusive, bossy and trying to insert themselves into my business. In the more rural areas, well I’ve never seen any type of freeze like what I experienced visiting a friend in a small town in Vermont. Even though it was her dream job, she moved back west after her initial contract was up, because he son was being shunned by his grade-school classmates, at the instruction of their parents, because he was new. Hilariously enough, they called him a flat lander, even though the highest “mountain” in Vermont is about the same elevation as our highway passes through our mountains.

          1. Savannnah*

            Haha this response isn’t exactly encouraging. I’ll channel my ‘it’s not better or worse, just different’ if you do too!

          2. Anon anon anon*

            Small towns can be really bad. In some places, people haven’t traveled much and think that people from other places don’t share their values, that we’re just like characters on sensationalized TV shows.

          3. Kj*

            I’m a native Texan and I find the lack of home hospitality here in Seattle frustrating. It feels VERY anti-social and very rude to someone from Texas, where we value sharing our home and food with others. I get needing time and space to myself (I’m pretty introverted/gatherings are mostly gaming-based), but never hosting anything, even after being invited to multiple gatherings is pretty rude in my book. I have stopped being friends with natives and when I learn someone is a native, I don’t bother to attempt friendship with them- it just ends in me being upset. It is a bit sad, but with the high # of transplants in the area from friendly parts of the country, it matters less now. My closest friend here is from the midwest and we both trade off hosting and it is so lovely to have someone to do that with, after years of never having that in Seattle.

        4. Optimistic Prime*

          I wouldn’t worry so much about the Seattle freeze. I have found it pretty easy to make friends here – most of my friends are transplants but I also have some friends who are native Seattleites. I don’t think it’s any harder to make friends here than anywhere else, and I actually find it easier than in New York. People actually call/text you back and want to do nice low-key things to get to know each other like brunch and board games (as opposed to bars and night clubs, which were cool when I was 21, and not so much at 31.

    2. Claire R.*

      Ah, I live in downtown PDX and my building has a vacancy, perhaps we will be neighbors soon. Good luck with your house search, the real estate market here is insane. The good news is that you’ll get the worst weather of the year out of the way as soon as you get here. A lot of people move here in the spring or fall when it’s lovely, and then get real depressed when January rolls around.

    3. Optimistic Prime*

      Welcome to the PNW!

      Getting adjusted to Pacific time and how ET-centric everything is took a bit of time for me, too (I grew up on the East Coast). Even many businesses list their times in ET times, and you have to mentally adjust and either wake up really early or remember to call before about 2 pm our time. Get ready to also wake up to something big happening and us just finding out as we’re getting ready for work.

      I love the West Coast, though, and after just over 2 years here I have zero desire to return to the East Coast.

  12. I was never even here*

    Has anyone ever contacted service providers directly rather than just blocking people. I’ve recently received several nuisance messages – with photos! I’ve blocked the numbers – I have no idea who they are – and I hope it’s done now. But I’m angry – I want there to be consequences eg their whatsapp accounts cancelled and that someone else knows what pervs they are. Or am I just over reacting and this kind of thing is to be expected as part of the digital age.

    1. fposte*

      I think if you’re getting them on Whatsapp, your chances of getting anything done are slim. Whatsapp messages are, I believe, encrypted even from the carrier, which is why it’s such a popular platform for that kind of crap.

  13. nep*

    Anyone use arnica oil for pain relief? I had heard about its effectiveness from a friend and others, but until last night hadn’t tried it. Wow. Within minutes felt marked relief from muscle pain. Almost unbelievable. But then oils are nothing short of miraculous in my experience.

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I don’t have the arnica oil, but I’ve been using an arnica gel (Arnicare) that seems to work really well.

      In other essential oils news, my eye doctor was selling me a foaming tea tree oil scrub that costs $20 for a small container of it. I read on the Mayo Clinic website that they recommend just scrubbing the eyelids with baby shampoo for my condition — much cheaper! So I got a bottle of baby shampoo for under $1 (generic brand) and added several drops of tea tree oil to it. Now I feel like I’m getting effective treatment without paying $20/month for eyelid scrub.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I use an arnica gel also, comes in a tube. It works good, it’s reliable.
      I have met people who are using essential oils to control Lyme Disease symptoms.Lyme is a big deal around here.

    3. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

      I have an arnica/st John’s wort salve that is great for bruises. Makes them disappear quickly because it’s a blood thinner. I’ve not tried it for muscle pain.

  14. Annie Mouse*

    I was inspired a few weeks ago to get some things for decorating my planner after the conversation in here. I currently have some tape, stamps and felt pens but also can get hold of some stickers. Except I don’t know what I’m doing and google hasn’t helped much!
    Has anyone got any advice or tips on using a planner as more than just a list of things to do each day please?
    I’ve got a filofax with a diary section that’s 2 days to a page and need to be able to write details of overtime and things down on days I’m working which is why I’ve gone for that design.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have been trying to get into the habit of using a planner. I don’t really need a day-by-day thing. I am finding weekly tasks is enough.

      What I do need is a place to write down that I need vacuum cleaner bags model #Ab-1234, so I remember to get them when I am out and I actually get the right ones.
      I also have a section for things to remember for next year or several years out. That is very helpful.
      I have also been looking at my bad habits. I write a contact name down on a scrap piece of paper and then, surprise! lose it. So I have a contact section in my planner.

      I own my home so I found that it was a good idea to have a home planner. This is something I write in for permanent info that I will go back to. I keep contractors, specialty products etc in one section. And I have a maintenance section so I can remember when I last got the septic pumped or got the furnace serviced. Currently I have a new furnace so I am tracking my oil bills to see how much money I am saving.

    2. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I scrawl in the list of things/places/birthdays in the planner, and have a separate notebook that manages my “task list” for the day, mostly the work tasks.

      And THEN I decorate with stickers corresponding to those things.

      Because I want my planner to reflect the year I’ve had, I will scrawl in highlights of the day, unplanned activities, exciting firsts (today it snowed or tried poutine! or went to the zoo!) and then I glue in evidence of those things, receipts or ticket stubs. I really want to add in polaroids, but I don’t want to buy a polaroid phone printer, haha.

    3. callietwo...*

      Check out “plan with me” video’s on youtube, and look for FB groups for shops of those that future stickers, clips, diecuts, and stamps that you gravitate towards.. Etsy has a plethora of shops dedicated to the planner world.

      My favorite shop for stickers for my planner on Etsy: The Smushed Peach, Sweet Ava’s paper co, and Lovely Planner Nerd, and out of etsy because they make me laugh are the Potty Mouth collection on Moore Avenue dot com. They all have FB and IG groups that offer regular discounts & sales.

      Yes, I am a professional and yes, I collect stickers. :)

    4. Persephone*

      I’ve gone to planning like you, and I’ve kept it fairly minimal – I pretty much buy stuff to organise my study and workload, and I’ve found Peaceful Mind Design on Etsy has some amazing things. I also use a Kikki K planner (brother bought me one, aunt bought me another), and when you buy the new planners you get a heap of stickers, and you can buy them on their own, too. I used to go OTT with stickering, but I now really just use stickers to mark important things (e.g uni deadlines, bills due, hours worked), and go for good ol’ pen and highlighter for other things.

    5. AngelicGamer*

      If you search for plan with me videos, I would recommend 2 things. 1 – search for a style like yours. If you only want to put down a few stickers, look for white space as one of the descriptions in the video. If you want a ton of stickers, try for no white space. Also, search for the type of planner you have. There are Filofax planners out there, but you should also look at people doing personal planners. 2 – use the filters on YouTube so you’re not seeing things from more than a month ago! Or even less. I usually just filter down to this week but I don’t think you’ll really want things from June unless you’re in Australia. ;)

      Good luck! Oh – and a shop plug – try out ThePlanningQueen on Etsy. Her kits are huge and possibly not what you want but I’m recommending her for her cute functional stickers. I’ve got a code there – planningwithlizzy20 for 20% off with no minimum. If you have an Instagram, feel free to follow me at planningwithlizzy. :) Good luck and happy planning!

  15. Come On Eileen*

    Any tips I can offer my older parents to help them fly cross-country the day before Thanksgiving? I helped them sign up for TSA pre-check so that hopefully their security line wait won’t be terrible, and I’m booking them a SuperShuttle to get them to the airport. Their flight is at 5:30 in the morning. I guess I’m worried that they aren’t as nimble as they once were, so I’m just trying to pre-think snags that might come up so that hopefully their travel day goes smoothly. What else can I do?

    1. Janelle*

      If you can change the super shuttle to an uber I would. Especially that early. I did that once on an LA to NYC early flight. They had me leaving at 2am and it was an insane amount of stops. The extra money would have made me a.) not sick to my stomach and b.) far less stressed.

      1. blackcat*


        My super shuttle experience has been wildly city-dependent. Downtown Sacramento? A+ both to and from! Boston? C- to, F from (driver inputted wrong GPS address, refused to correct it. I ended up in an Uber after being ditched in a strange part of Cambridge at 1am. F-ing super shuttle refused to refund me, only offered me future credit… which I would never use, because I’m never getting in one again…).

        I would not risk super shuttle early in the morning. Uber/Lyft or taxi is a much better plan.

    2. fposte*

      It depends on what kind of “older” we’re talking about, how familiar they are with flying, and what kind of travel. Are they prepped for the possibility of delays and reroutes? Are they going to need help with carryons? Will they be prepared to yank crucial stuff out if carryons need to go into checked luggage because the flight is full?

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Mid and late 70s. They fly a few times a year. I think I’m mostly concerned because the flight is super early in the morning and the day before Thanksgiving is notoriously busy. They can handle delays and carry small bags. They will likely check one larger bag, so I’ll help them remember it needs to be under 50 lbs and that their carry on can’t have large liquids.

        1. fposte*

          Even if the carryon is under 50 pounds, they may be required to check it if the flight’s full; I really would have them pack meds and valuables in a small bag within the carryon in case they have to yank the precious stuff out in a hurry. I would also take full advantage of any preboard they’re eligible for to get that sweet carryon space. It’s going to be super competitive on most routes.

        2. Aphrodite*

          This may sound a bit weird, but could they send their luggage to you ahead of time via UPS? Pack it up in a box or two and mail it and then they could fly with only their handbags.

          If not, how about their leaving all their personal item like shampoo, toothbrushes/toothpaste and so on at home and you buy duplicates and have it ready for them?

          1. Blue_eyes*

            There are services for this! Google “luggage forwarding”. Luggage Free and Luggage Forward are two of the main ones. You can set a pick up day and time and they will deliver your luggage to your destination by your arrival date.

            How are your parents with walking/standing? Would it help for either of them to have a wheelchair in the terminal? You can (and should) request it from the airline now and then they will have someone to push the wheelchair and accompany them through the airport.

    3. Anon for this*

      When you make an online reservation, you can request a wheel chair. Can also request one at check-in. It was hard to convince my elderly mother to use one, so on one trip I reserved wheel chairs for us both in solidarity. Now she sees it is not a weird thing and is not self conscious and always reserves one for herself. You should tip the wheel chair pushers. With her knees it is best that she is not standing in the TSA line.

      1. Alison Read*

        It doesn’t have to be a wheelchair – it can be one of those golf carts. Although, wheelchair assistance gets escorted to the front of security for the passenger and the rest of their party.

      2. Circus peanuts*

        I wouldn’t count on that as reliable. My octogenarian parents reserved two wheelchairs for a connecting flight through Houston last week and other passengers took them before they got to them. They had to wait for new ones and they missed their flight.

        My parents swear that they get better service when they both have their canes with them.

    4. Tennessee*

      Are they familiar with the airport? If not, many airports have terminal maps and I’ve always found it helps to have an idea of how to get from check-in to security to the gate areas. And a map for the arrival airport (to help with getting from the gate to where they meet you or baggage/taxi) and layovers too (for possible concourse / gate changes). Sometimes the pre-check lane is hard to spot; warn them about that. Have them check the arrival and departure screens for flight changes. That early in the morning, most airports are calmer, so that helps. Are they getting there well ahead of check-in? I love having a lot of extra time; I can always read or eat if I get there early and it’s better than having to rush through.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Would it be worth it to book them a hotel at/near the airport with a shuttle to eliminate the early morning transport risk? I know when I have an early morning wake up call I feel more stressed sleeping at home and sleep badly compared to essentially starting the journey the night before and be able the next morning to practically roll out of bed and into the airport terminal. This really only makes sense if they are going out of a major airport, however!

      The plus side is that with a flight that early there is minimal chance, short of weather issues, that their flight is delayed or cancelled due to earlier network problems.

      Is their luggage all pre-paid as well so there are no surprised on that end?

    6. Nana*

      Wheelchairs for both. No one 75+ has to remove shoes, but a wheelchair will get them through security faster and guarantee pre-boarding. They’ll have to wait on arrival (wheelchairs last), but it’s well worth it. Aside from using a luggage service, consider a flat-rate box (free at the PO), which costs less than $20 to ship up to 70 pounds. [no liquids or perishables]

    7. Call me St. Vincent*

      Make sure they have REAL ID Act compliant identification or a passport at the airport! Non-federal compliant drivers licenses are no longer accepted at airports as ID for domestic flights.

      1. fposte*

        About half of the states have an extension on that, so don’t panic if your state doesn’t do that–you’ll still be allowed to fly.

    8. Happy Lurker*

      My advice would be to see if you can upgrade their seats to more room seat (on Jet Blue it includes boarding early) or priority boarding, or something similar. Getting on early is easier to get settled, especially if they may need more time.
      I also second the overnight at the closest airport hotel. Eliminate the off chance that they hit traffic or construction on their way into the airport.
      Good luck and I hope you all have a great holiday.

  16. Anonymouse for this*

    Yum – just baked two loaves of bread – one regular wholemeal and one jalapeno cheddar wholemeal. Had to put one in the freezer otherwise I’ll stand at the counter and eat the whole loaf.

    Anyone have slow cooker recipes to share? I seem to use mine just for chili or chicken stew.

        1. Tau*

          !!! I make no-knead bread pretty regularly (about 1-2x a week) and for some reason I never even thought about adding anything beyond, like, sesame seed topping. I am totally stealing this!

          1. Anonymouse for this*

            :0) I love experimenting with it. I made chocolate and cherries loaves last xmas as gifts. Also made it with onion jam and blue cheese – looked a tad burnt due to all the sugar in the jam but still tasted good.

    1. Not That Jane*

      Slow cooker bean soup with ham: a whole ham shank, a cup or two of dry white beans, half an onion chopped fine, pepper, a little smoked paprika. Then fill the whole thing with water and cook on low for 8 hours.

      I like to cut up the ham about 5 hours in, to remove some fat.

    2. Annie Mouse*

      I need to get using mine again once I’m back on shift, it’s great for batch cooking, and cooking a meal overnight ready to take to work in the morning!!

      I make bolognese, casseroles (things like sausages/pork/chicken, a tin of tomatoes, stock, and herbs/seasoning work well, or just a gravy based one but that needs a bit more seasoning), goulash, sometimes a roast joint. I’ve got a set of recipes to try this winter as well.

    3. misspiggy*

      Take a couple of beef short ribs. Oil and season them, and leave them in the slow cooker for 7-8 hours. They can be eaten straight away, or you can slather a BBQ sauce on top and bake in the oven for 40 mins or so.

    4. Alison Read*

      I like to make a double (or triple) meatloaf and freeze the extra in the shape of my smaller crockpot. When I cook it in the crock pot I’ll put thick onion rings underneath so it is lifted out of the grease. You could do the same with a loaf shape in bigger one with a rack.

      Here’s the meatloaf recipe I’ve come up with:

      Dad’s Favorite Meatloaf
      1 1/2 lbs ground beef, 1/2 lbs Italian sausage, 1/4 cup finely chopped onion, 1/4 cup ketchup, 1 egg beaten, 2 Tbsp Teriyaki sauce, 1 tsp dry mustard, 1 beef bouillion cube, 1 cup crumbled saltines. Topping – 1/8 cup ketchup,1 Tbsp brown sugar,dash mustard,dash worcestshire sauce.

      Mix ground beef, sausage and onion in a large bowl forming a well in center.
      In a small bowl, crush bouillion cube to powder and mix with ketchup, egg, Teriyaki sauce and mustard. Work into meat mixture.
      Add crackers, working in thoroughly. Form into a loaf. Prepare the topping and spread over meatloaf before cooking.
      Cook on low for 8 hrs.

      We also like Yum Yum Paleo Chicken from Paleo Mom. It’s an Instant Pot recipe but works great in a crock pot. Also a recipe I make extra of and freeze for a super easy crockpot meal.

      We take these with us when we travel for sports tournaments and come back to a home cooked meal in our hotel room. Micro wave rice & microwave cook in bag veggies complete the meal. Sometimes I’ll cube potatoes for under the meatloaf for the starch when we travel.

        1. Alison Read*

          Yikes! Good catch. That’s for full size, non-frozen. Looking online 8-10 hrs seems to be the time for 2# frozen. Check with a thermometer for 165°, crockpots vary so much also. My travel pot runs hotter on low than my big one does. Longer is nicer because it helps kind of carmelize the topping. Writing out the recipe is making me sad I don’t currently have one stashed in the freezer! This is a really tastey meatloaf with the bullion and teriyaki. Oh! Major tip: do not overmix!!!

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      We are getting ours out for the first time for the season tomorrow in order to do a beef stew. I seem to have lost my prior recipe for it (lots of red wine) but any will work.

      What I DO have is my link to the recipe to make dumplings on top at the end of the stew cooking. Usually I will double it because I like dumplings, but then I compensate by eliminating potatoes and/or cutting them down significantly in the stew itself.


    6. Fiennes*

      I roasted a whole chicken in my Crockpot for the first time just this week, and it came out great. Just rub it down with preferred spices & some garlic, put a little lemon & garlic in the body cavity, and let it go. (It took about 5 1/2 hours on low for a 4 lb bird. But this may vary with size of crock.) Extra bonus: layer that chicken over carrots, celery and onion for deliciously savory sides.

    7. Anonymouse for this*

      Wow – thanks for all the great ideas – they’ll last me through Christmas. I want to get back into the habit of batch cooking and freezing meals – makes life so much easier and stops me plunking down on the sofa with a bag of chips and a soda for dinner.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I make this ramen twice a winter. It can be a lot of work near the end but for most of it it’s pretty easy. For ramen noodles I either use the instant ramen noodles (like ichiban – just toss the flavour packets) or the brown rice ramen from Costco. If the link doesn’t work, it’s the crispy caramelised pork ramen with butternut squash recipe from Half Baked Harvest. http://www.halfbakedharvest.com/crockpot-crispy-caramelized-pork-ramen-noodle-soup-wcurry-roasted-acorn-squash/

    9. Middle School Teacher*

      The crock pot ramen with caramelised pork and butternut squash from Half Baked Harvest. For some reason I can’t include the link (I’m a tech dough-head).

  17. AshK434*

    Is there any way to get out of an apartment lease without paying the termination fee? I moved into my apartment at the beginning October, and the neighbors who live below me are hellish. I didn’t know it was possible to make so much noise. They play video games or watch TV with the volume at full blast all night, constantly run in their apartment or making loud banging noise and their dog is constantly barking. They also have a huge extended family (like 10 people) who are over frequently which just amplifies the noise. It’s a cacophony of noise from sun up to sundown every day.

    My landlord is aware of the problem and literally warned me about these people as soon as I signed the lease which should of been a warning sign. But she’s been dealing with these people for 6 years and counting so I doubt she’ll do anything about it (this is a house and she lives on the ground floor).

    I’ve complained about these people twice, but I don’t think I can live like this for another 10 months. Do I have any options? In an ideal world, the landlord would evict these people but I don’t think she will. Can I get out of this situation without paying the lease termination fee?

    1. AshK434*

      I’m not sure if it makes any difference, but the landlord is also annoyed with these neighbors. When I’ve called to complain she’s always apologized and told me how frustrated she was too but it just seems like she doesn’t want to do anything because they’re a young family.

    2. anon24*

      It depends what state you are in. I live in PA and have major problems with my neighbors smoking. PA state laws say nothing about smoking, so I wrote an email to my state rep asking him to please consider the plight of those like me who have medical sensitivity to cigarette smoke and are basically captive in our own homes due to being too poor to buy a house or break our lease. I said that I knew he couldnt help my situation but to please remember this in future legislation. He wrote me a nice letter (an actual letter!) pointing out that while our state has no rules about smoking, it does have rules about the right to enjoy your home free of disturbances. I have currently chosen not to pursue this, but legally I have the right to sue if my I complain and my landlord does nothing.

      1. anon24*

        I understand this may not help at all since your landlord seems to be on your side, but I would do research

      2. Temperance*

        I’m asthmatic and cannot tolerate cigarette smoke. Not knowing which part of the state you’re in, I would advise you to talk to your landlord about the problem first to see if you can get him or her to set a “smoking area” on the property.

        I own now, but I rented for a long time, and my last landlord, bless her, made the property smoke-free because she, smartly, wanted to protect her investment.

    3. fposte*

      It’s an uphill climb, and it’ll depend on your jurisdiction. If you have a tenants’ rights org that’d be a good place to start. Are you sure your apartment is up to rental code for your area? Sometimes split houses aren’t and that might be a bit of leverage.

    4. Kathenus*

      Depending on your relationship with the landlord, it’s worth asking to be let out of the lease due to these neighbors. If it’s done nicely and respectfully you don’t have much to lose, at worst they’ll say no and you’ll be right where you are now. If they say no you can keep complaining regularly enough to be an annoyance, kick it up to corporate if there is one, etc. to see if they’ll reconsider. But I’d start with the friendly approach first, noting that she knows these people are a problem, and see if she’ll be reasonable and let you out of it. Good luck.

      1. INTP*

        Yep. She may let you out of the lease out of kindness or at least to avoid the hassle of dealing with continuous complaints.

      2. Alison Read*

        My knee jerk response is to be such a pain complaining she’s happy to be rid of you and let you out – but she’s living with this family’s noise, and tolerating it! Maybe you can negotiate something? Approach this keeping in mind the cost of turning a unit: Vacancy/unrealized rental income while it’s being prepared for a new tenant/tenants are screened, cleaning, leasing expenses such as credit checks, etc. If there’s an opportunity to mitigate or cover those, that might be an agreement you two could come up with. It sounds like this is an individual vs a management company.

        Keep up the complaints and keep a record too. Research what the actual law is, many times lease contracts are, particularly ones used by property owners vs mgmt companies. If it was just fulfilling the rent for the term of the lease, you’re protected if they re-lease the unit because (most) laws don’t allow for double rent.

        Since it’s only November it might be worth paying an attorney to review your lease. Most consults are free and may give you an angle to pursue on your own before going all out and using their services. Did she tell you about the noise before or after you signed? That could be an out.

        Is there a landlord/tenant agency in your area? They’re typically govt entities. As a former landlord I’ve kind of felt they are very tenant centric… although tenants may not agree!!! GOOD LUCK!!!

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      If the landlord acknowledges the problem, perhaps the two of you can work something out where you get out of the lease early, but she isn’t stuck with an empty apartment. Can you give more than 30 days’ notice, for example? Or even help her find another tenant (one who doesn’t mind noise… may be a tough order).

      In an ideal world, the landlord would evict these people but I don’t think she will.

      Depending on where you live, she may not be able to evict them just for being loud (seems ridiculous, but it’s true).

    6. AliceBD*

      You may (or may not) want to look at noise ordaninces in your city and see if you think they are violating any. If so, you can call he police non emergency line to report, if you want to.

      1. Thlayli*

        This. I had a noisy neighbour once and I printed out the relevant law and knocked round to the house to tell him what he was doing was illegal. He stopped – I think he genuinely didn’t realise how bad it was.

      2. akgb*

        This. It’s how we got our downstairs DudeBros to stop having their subwoofer on after 9pm. It will also give the landlord documentation for eviction.

    7. Nacho*

      Has anyone (you or the landlord) ever tried talking to these people? They might just not know how much of an annoyance they are.

      1. AshK434*

        Yes, but the wife is extremely argumentative and dismissive. Based on what the landlord has told me, the wife seems very combative and in denial about their noise level so she will not change her behavior.

    8. Anon anon anon*

      I hate to say it, but it might not just be them being loud. It could be the acoustics of the building. Maybe they’re making normal noises and the building is constructed in a way that amplifies it. That seems to be common with apartment buildings. Which doesn’t change things that much. But have you talked to the people? Or thought about putting in a noise dampening carpet? Or asking the landlord to pay for something like that?

      I’ve gotten out of leases. It depends on the state, but in most places, they’re not a binding legal contract. You just lose your security deposit and can’t use that landlord as a reference (in many cases). Sometimes if there’s an obvious problem, the landlord will just let you out of the lease. You could present it as, “Could you please either sound-proof the floor or switch me to a month to month lease?” That would be reasonable.

      1. AshK434*

        I get what you’re saying, but this is truly not the case. It literally sounds like a construction zone down there all day. And then you throw in their loud TV and all of their extended family talking over each other, it’s truly disruptive. Thanks for the advice!

      2. Optimistic Prime*

        Uh, I don’t think this is true in most places in the United States. I’ve lived and rented apartments in three separate states, and in all of those the landlord could hold you responsible for the remaining rent on the rental contract/lease if you vacate earlier than the date on the lease – in other words, if you signed in August and vacate in November, they can hold you responsible for rent from November through August 2018 unless they find someone to rent your unit out to between then. This was true even in notoriously tenant-friendly New York.

        I’ve never seen anything indicating that a lease is NOT a legally binding contract.

    9. JD*

      Only your lease can answer that. Call the police on them often enough for noise and eventually they will be evicted. I am baffled though that you’d sign a lease AS the landlord told you this would be an issue.

    10. Florida*

      I used to manage commercial property in Florida. If there was a tenant who constantly complained about a problem, I’d try to fix it but if it was an unfixable problem, I would never offer to them that they could break their lease. However, if they had asked me if they could break their lease because of unfixable problem, most of the time I would’ve said yes. It is easier for me to find a new tenant who doesn’t view this thing as a problem, then it is to try to take you to court over braking the lease.

      Also, in Florida, a residential tenant has an obligation to “behave and have guests behave so as not to disturb the peace of others.” If this tenant is not doing this, and landlord knows and is not doing anything, you have a right to break your lease. However, you would still need at minimum a strongly worded threat letter from an attorney for this to happen. In some cases, you might even need a judge. If you prevail, though, the landlord has to pay all of your attorney and court costs. (This is Florida. I can’t speak for other states.)

      I’d recommend that you talk to your landlord first. Landlord might be willing to let you out of your lease. Second step would be to either contact an attorney who represents residential tenants or to decide to live with it.

      Good luck.

      1. AshK434*

        Thank you all so much for your helpful advice!! I’m definitely going to talk to my landlord and see if I can work out breaking my lease early.

  18. Mimmy*

    Our kitchen is almost done!!!! There are still some minor things that need to be taken care of – those will probably be little weekend projects. But if all goes well, our appliances will finally be hooked up today. We should have our first home cooked meal this weekend – first one since the last week of September!!

    1. Happy Lurker*

      I have been absent from the W/ E posts…. obviously this has taken you a while. Do you have any sage advice for me? I am looking at signing a contract with the kitchen people this week. Loosely scheduled for end of January. I am a mess worrying about almost every aspect of it.
      And congrats! I bet it was worth the wait.

      1. Mimmy*

        A couple of things I suggest after our experience…

        -Make sure the contractors are properly licensed. There should be a license number in the contract – at least in my state, you can look up that number on your state’s consumer affairs website to see if the person or company’s license is up to date. Our first contractor’s license was shown to have been terminated because it had expired earlier in the year and was not renewed. Unfortunately, we didn’t think to look it up until we started having problems.

        -Be sure that you and the contractor are on the same page about what you want done. Try to be specific, within reason. There are some things we think our first contractor should’ve done, but it wasn’t spelled out in the contract, so we didn’t have a leg to stand on.

        That’s all I have for now, but I’m sure I’ll think of more later haha. Good luck!!

  19. Sera*

    Have you ever gotten to a point where you feel that you should call time on a long-term friendship?

    It’s something that’s been on my mind quite a bit recently in regard to a friend I’ve known for almost two decades (since we were children), and who I thought of as my best friend for maybe the last 10 years.

    We haven’t had a falling out nor is the relationship toxic in any way, but it’s just sort of… fizzing out. Increasingly I’m finding that we have less and less in common, our attitudes towards certain values seem to be diverging, and we’re not really spending all that much time together even though we live in the same city.

    Of course, I understand that friends come and go from our lives all the time, but two decades is kind of a big deal. Especially since we were so close during our formative years. We used to talk about sharing a flat when we moved out of home, and we’d make time to take holidays together. For a few years we lived in different cities and when we visited each other we could stay up all night chatting.

    I still feel happy thinking back on those times, yet at the same time I know it’s not a dynamic that’s going to come back. When we hang out now it definitely feels different, and I think we’ve just both changed to an extent that what we used to share isn’t there anymore. It’s not so much /her/ that I miss but the times gone by.

    Given that it’s sort of just fading away quietly, there’s no need for any sort of ‘breakup’ moment. After all friendships are not exclusive. It’s just one of those mindsets that that a while to change even after the logical side of you has accepted it. For instance I’d read something in the paper and want to forward it to her but then remind myself that she’s not going to be interested in this now.

    I know it’s all a part of life, and of growing up. Still can’t help but feel a little sad (sometimes) about it though.

    1. Sherm*

      Yup, you said it all quite well. I’m dealing with this now — I am frankly tired of one friend while this friend wants to be closer to me than ever. I’m also on the other end, in that one friend has not even responded to an invitation to my party, and I am not sure whether my life-long best friend is coming, either.

      Friends drifting apart happens a million times every day. I think we all do best by accepting it as part of life. One nice thing about friendships, though, is that, while an intimate relationship is more like a light switch — you are either together or not — a friendship more closely resembles a dimmer switch. You can choose to see a friend every day and share your deepest secrets, or you can briefly see a friend once a year. It sounds like you don’t need to cut your friend out of your life, but rather reduce the frequency and intensity of your interactions.

      1. fposte*

        I’ve been able to drift out and then back a decade later with a few friendships, too. None of this is a lifelong binding decision unless you want it to be.

        1. Allypopx*

          ^ Yep. People drift apart and sometimes they come back together. Just let whatever happens happen naturally.

    2. Courtney*

      Kind of. In my case, the person is actually my cousin so she’ll always be in my life to some extent. But growing up we were best friends, she was my maid of honor, etc. But in the last few years things have faded to the point that we only see each other at holiday family gatherings. No big blow up, like you said, things have just kind of fizzled. Since meeting her now-fiance her views have changed a lot and we just don’t have much in common. And it’s not the little things, it’s pretty fundamental stuff. It’s always sad to have that realization that if you met them today, you wouldn’t want to be friends in the first place. Blah. No answers there, but yeah, it’s sad.

    3. Amber Rose*

      Are you me? :O
      I’ve been struggling with this lately too. She’s been my friend since I was 15. But she’s into raves and pub crawls and drugs, while I’m a “boring” type who likes staying home with my husband and playing video games.

      I haven’t seen her in a couple months, though we have lunch plans later. I don’t want her out of my life, but she’s kind of a sometimes friend now.

    4. Red Reader*

      I did. Over the last few years we were friends, he had some pretty major behavior shifts in ways that were actively damaging my ability to continue to be friends with him. I told him that many times, and about every 3-4 months, he’d come back to me all “Are you mad at me, I feel like you’re mad at me?” And I’d reiterate the specific problems, and he’d go all “you’re right, I suck, you deserve better,” and nothing would change. Every few discussions, there would be a bonus “how come you never told me this before?” And, since the conversations were sometimes verbal but also sometimes via text, messenger or email, I was able to forward him multiple iterations of “I have, and this is yet another example of the problem.”

      Finally, after literally years of this, I cut ties with him when I moved. He’s not permitted to know my address, I sent him a “never contact me again” and blocked him on email and Facebook and his texts/calls, and I haven’t spoken to him in over two years now.

      Since then he has tried to get my friends to invite him to my gatherings “as a surprise.” He tried to get my housemate to give him the administrative username and password for my router. He still tries to contact me regularly. I saw him once at a public gathering where he spent the whole evening staring at me and telling stories that involved me, peppered with that “uh, I forget (random detail)” that pointedly suggests you want someone who knows the story to fill in, making it awkward enough that even the most oblivious people present were asking me why he wouldn’t leave me alone. And I hear through the grapevine that, to this day, he claims that he has no idea why I “ghosted” him.

    5. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Yeah – in the same boat. It just sort of fizzled out with a bit of a prompting issue but honestly, there was no big bang or angry fight or anything. Even more surprising is that I honestly don’t even think of it or her or our history all that often – not sure if its just we went in slightly different ways or moved too far apart or just different experiences. I like to think that its “on hold” because we went through a similar period during university for similar reasons.

      I figure its part of getting older and having different interests and responsibilities etc but is also healthy to recognize when a relationship isn’t meeting your needs anymore.

    6. Lissa*

      Yes, I will always take the “drift” over an official friend breakup, because I have found that for me, sometimes I’ll drift from someone for a year or two, then come back to the friendship later. I think the quiet fade away is sad, but understandable and doesn’t have to be a big Thing. But I get what you mean with hanging out feeling different, and it’s like there’s this unspoken awkwardness that you wonder if they feel too.

      I’ve got a few friends lately where I feel this kind of way, they’ve gotten very intensely into certain social/political issues and I really need to pull back and not talk about that stuff all the time, but it’s really really important to them, so…it’s hard!

    7. MilkMoon (UK)*

      It is sad when this happens, but now I’m in my early thirties I see it happen more often.

      I’ve had to let go of someone this year whom I’d been friends with since I was 13, but he’s been through some things in the last few years (albeit brought upon himself) and although I tried to keep the friendship going, he’s clearly choosing to break from everything & everyone he knew and start afresh. I’m okay with that, I understand and I release him with love and hope the next phase of his life is one of contentment.

      My best friend is currently upset that one of her long-time friends is doing the same – she’s just not taking it as well as me as she’s always taken friendship very seriously and with active commitment.

      People just go through phases in life, and people are ‘tribal’ in nature, we drift towards people/groups that are at the same point in life that we are – it’s natural! When you’re young you hang out with people who like the same stuff you do (music, hobbies), students hang with other students more than with friends who go straight into the working world, and then as people get older, long-term couples & marrieds drift together, and then if people have children that again affects their social circle.

      I got engaged last year and a few people have chosen to distance themselves since (I’m not a bridezilla and I only mention the wedding planning if someone asks! Haha), and I know it’s because they’re at a different point, by choice or not.

      It’s very sad, but I’m an advocate for letting people create the ‘spaces’ they need in life when they need them, for whatever reason. That includes the people within the space. Let them go, maybe we’ll be close again one day.

    8. Middle School Teacher*

      I get it. I’ve done it’s myself, partly the drift away and partly stopping making an effort. There were a variety of reasons but the big one was that she seemed to take my singlehood as a personal challenge and would not (could not?) stop commenting on it. The last straw really for me was after I came back from a trip to Europe, and I was telling her how much fun it was. She asked me twice if I met anyone (of course not; I was there with 35 students). I said how much I enjoyed being there, the places I visited, the vibe in a lot of the cities, etc etc and how I might take a year off and move there. Her reply: “with a man?” Boom, friendship over. I don’t mind being single ~much~ but I don’t enjoy being treated like it’s a weirdness disease. She’s been with the same guy since grade 11, so she definitely doesn’t get it. So after that I just stopped trying.

  20. just stop*

    What is WITH people whose first response upon being told someone has a allergy (or intolerance or whatever) to certain foods would be to try and see if they can trick that person into eating it?

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      Do they realize that some people’s allergic reactions are for their throats to close up and essentially die (without immediate treatment)?

    2. all aboard the anon train*

      Because a lot of people who don’t have food allergies don’t think they’re serious things or believe people are lying about them. The other reaction I get is people who say they’d be upset and annoyed if someone’s food allergy meant they couldn’t order a dish they liked and weren’t allergic to (as in, annoyed that some people have such severe allergies their allergen can’t even be on the same table). They’re jerks.

      I’m allergic to shrimp. My lips will swell and I’ll throw up. You would not believe how many people think I’m lying because I’m only allergic to shrimp and have no allergies to other shellfish. Or because I can eat foods cooked on the same grill as shrimp. I just can’t ingest shrimp itself. I have a friend who is allergic to white chocolate and people try to trick her into eating desserts with white cake or white chocolate ALL THE TIME because they don’t believe she can have chocolate, but not white chocolate.

      I once had a friend of a friend who seriously didn’t believe I was only allergic to shrimp. We had a holiday part a few years ago and she made a crab dip. Only she had cut up tiny pieces of shrimp to put in there because she wanted to “test” my allergy because she thought I was lying (apparently it annoyed her when we went on group dinners I had to tell the waiter I was allergic to only shrimp????). At least she was horrified when I started swelling and spent the rest of the night throwing up. None of us are friends with her anymore. She’s lucky I wasn’t deathly allergic. It’s a shitty thing to do to someone.

      1. Nicole*

        Geez. What a horrible person! Even if I thought the person was making up an allergy as opposed to just not liking something, I would still respect them and not serve said item. I can’t imagine why anyone would even try to test another person in such a horrible way!

        1. Bryce*

          A “fixer” personality. In my case the mother was overly-enthusiastic about assuming her daughter and I were dating instead of just friends, she’d spent a lot of my visit with a mother-in-law “iron out the creases in this guy” approach. That’s really the reason why I believe it was intentional rather than just a mistake in the holiday chaos.

      2. Bryce*

        One Thanksgiving at a friend’s place her mother kept trying to convince me that my nut allergies might be all in my head or I’d grown out of them. The next day prep for Thanksgiving was chaotic (it was one of those “pack a huge family into a single event” things), they were supposed to make stuffing both with and without nuts but there was a mixup and both had nuts in them. I didn’t have any (anxiety tends to kill my appetite anyway and I was definitely out of my element the whole trip so I just nibbled at some turkey), later I found out about the mixup, and ever since then I tend to just get my own food before any event where I’d need to coordinate my allergies with more than one person making the food in a nice calm setting.

        1. Bryce*

          The whole trip was no picnic, I couldn’t fit in with those folks at all and one of their cats threw up on me in the middle of the night. Worst Thanksgiving I’ve had, even worse than the one with my cousins where I got seasick on our way out to a fancy expensive salmon dinner/show and when I got back to college my bike had been stolen.

        2. all aboard the anon train*

          Ugh I’m sorry that happened to you. I’ve learned that if I’m at someone’s house where there’s shrimp being served, I usually just stick to anything that was store bought or packaged. Or I try to be the first one to get food because I might be able to eat food that was cooked on the same grill as shrimp, but I’ve learned the hard way that if shrimp is being served and people are picking it up with their fingers and then picking up veggies or other items with their fingers, I’m still going to get sick.

          Our work cafeteria does this whenever they serve grain bowls or pad thai or anything where shrimp is a choice. The cook picks up the shrimp with his gloved hands and them picks up the veggies with the same gloved hands and it contaminates everything.

          1. Bryce*

            Oof, yeah I’ve dealt with that sort of thing. Most folks try to do right by that sort of thing, but unless you actually have to think about it there are a lot of unconscious things that can mess up.

            1. all aboard the anon train*

              I appreciate when people try to think about my allergies, but I think it’s hard for people who don’t have allergies – or who don’t live with anyone who has them – to really understand how severe even the smallest thing can be.

              I will say that having an allergy has made me more aware of food preparation and cross contamination.

              1. Bryce*

                Yeah, my mom enjoys when I visit (for more than the obvious reasons) because we speak the same language in that respect. Not only did she need to learn all that stuff to take care of me as a kid, but she developed gluten issues a few years back. She can talk to me about frustrations without having to explain WHY they’re issues. We also joke that we both eat healthier when I visit, a lot of gluten-free stuff will use peanut flour or other nuts quite readily, so she leaves her snack things in the cupboard and we tend to eat salads and other nonprocessed foods.

      3. paul*

        That gets my goat.

        Yeah, I can eat4 something cooked in the same kitchen as peanuts. I eat one and I’m going to be miserable, my lips and mouth will burn and I’ll have digestive issues for hours. I’m not faking it, believe me. Or else I’ll try to make sure to ruin *your* bathroom instead of my own (yes I’m petty when I’m mad)

    3. Courtney*

      In my opinion, it’s general a dangerous combination of lacking empathy and being skeptical of modern medicine/doctors. Oh, and being a terrible person.

      Did you see the story this week where a three year old died because his daycare served him grilled cheese knowing he had a severe dairy allergy? Over half of the comments were doing their best to find a way to make it the fault of his parents or make it a conversation about allergies today. Like come on, have a little compassion!

      1. Wow*

        I know a surprising number of people that do not understand that cheese is dairy. They think it’s “just milk”.

        1. fposte*

          Though it gets complicated by the fact, I think, that people confuse dairy allergies with lactose intolerance; lactose intolerance won’t kill you and isn’t an issue with many to most cheeses.

        2. Jules the First*

          Also, the oddly huge number of people (my mother briefly included) who are convinced that eggs *are* dairy and panic when I eat mayonnaise or hard boiled eggs. (Strangely, these are often the same people who persist in putting butter in dishes because “it’s not dairy, it’s butter….”)

          And don’t get me started on the number of people who think that milk allergy = lactose intolerance and ask me why I don’t just take a pill for it. Sigh.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Even if you aren’t allergic, it’s still a crappy thing to do—like when someone says she’s vegetarian, and you prepare a meal for her and sneak in tiny pieces of meat she can barely taste.

      1. Sandi*

        …what is the point of doing that? Who is that benefiting? Are they worried the person who’s vegetarian isn’t getting enough protein or something?

    5. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m told some people are like this because they knew one person who said they were allergic when they just didn’t like something. But I don’t get it. Do they not realise allergic means you can die? Like, if you feed my husband this particular food you will actually kill him?

      1. Myrin*

        I’m told some people are like this because they knew one person who said they were allergic when they just didn’t like something.
        Which is a reasoning I’ll never understand because – so what? Like. What do I care if someone says they’re allergic to something they just don’t like?
        The “worst” thing I can imagine is that I make food for them myself and go to great pains to have no contamination and check every ingredient of everything and so on and then it turns out they simply didn’t like the thing. But even that seems like it would be a mild annoyance at best, not something that would make me forever believe allergies don’t exist or something.

    6. Cassie*

      People are jerks, but we also need better colloquial language for food issues. A respiratory reaction is generally considered a “food allergy” but people have starting using the term for other things, often out of politeness or privacy concerns. I call my issue a “crab sensitivity” because I really don’t want to tell a waiter “if I eat crab, my a$$ will explode in about twenty minutes”.

      1. fposte*

        Right; even on my medical forms I’m listed as having an allergy to a medicine I don’t, because there’s no other way to state that it’s contraindicated. Given that it’s an antibiotic, that’s a really dumb limitation that risks considerable confusion.

        I also think that some people don’t even realize the differentiation we’re making is a differentiation, and just call all bad reactions allergies. I can understand that it’s annoying if you work at a restaurant and sanitize a grill from all pork products because of an “allergy” and then see that customer eating bacon, but 1) you don’t know better than they do and 2) if you’re not a restaurant, you can feel free to say “Sorry, I can’t cook allergy-safe” and sidestep the whole problem.

        1. Cassie*

          Oh my gosh, medical forms–I could rant for days about the lies on those! My husband worked with at-risk kids and once broke up a bloody fight. Because he had an open wound at the time, he and I were both advised to get precautionary blood tests done. The glassbowl doctors coded the reason we needed the disease testing as “risky sexual behavior”. Now our medical charts have that on there forever. My husband’s complaining about it also got his chart labeled as him being “difficult”. *screams in rage*

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I see so much of this, someone makes a mistake, patient speaks up and then gets labeled as difficult. So much for “care”. (shaking my head.) I am sorry this happened to you guys.

      2. Oscar Madisoy*

        often out of politeness or privacy concerns. I call my issue a “crab sensitivity” because I really don’t want to tell a waiter “if I eat crab, my a$$ will explode in about twenty minutes”.

        With all due respect to any privacy concerns you, and others in the same situation, may have – maybe you need to be graphic in order to get your point across.

      3. Temperance*

        I never know the best way to explain my issue. I won’t have anaphylaxis if I eat certain kinds of peppers, but I will break out in hives, and a rash, and my face will turn red/eyes will run. It’s not a true allergy in the anaphylaxis sense, but the reaction is similar to other kinds of allergies.

        I can’t eat food that has been cooked on a grill with a lot of peppers, but I just order something else. When my work cafe has peppers as a featured item, I can’t eat from the grill that day.

        1. Bryce*

          That sounds like an allergy, not all allergies are life-threatening. The main issue is that we all choose our own risk levels based on how sensitive we are and the consequences, and if someone else says “oh I know a guy with that allergy and he can eat these fine if they’re cooked first” and decides they know us better than we do, things can get ugly.

          Information is the most useful thing you can give someone with allergies. Listen to what they’re asking you and answer it, not what you think they mean.

          1. blackcat*

            Right. I have an anaphylactic (hives, respiratory distress) reaction to plantains, but not to bananas (hives, vomiting) and I am 100% allergic to them both (and have the blood tests to prove it). Bananas aren’t going to kill me, just their cousins*. If some botanist can explain my strange allergy to this family of fruit, I’d be really interested.

            I am also severely allergic to tobacco. People thing I’m just making a big deal out of being sensitive to smoke, but no! If I so much as touch a tobacco leaf or even dried tobacco, I break out in epic hives. I think actually trying to smoke a cigarette might kill me.

            *Allergies can change over time. So one day, in theory, bananas could kill me. But I’m not paranoid about cross contamination.

            1. StubbornWombat*

              Blackcat, are you allergic to latex as well? That’s how I got allergic to bananas – cross-reactivity with latex. I don’t get anaphylactic but my throat hurts and I feel really sick. Cooking denatures whatever I have issues with so it’s just raw ones at least.

              1. blackcat*

                No, but I have been told by allergists that I am at high risk for developing a latex allergy later in life because of my allergy to strawberries (the two are highly correlated). My mom is allergic to both strawberries and latex, but not bananas/banana relatives.

                I’d be fascinated if there is also some underlying connection between a strawberry and banana/plantain allergy, because I’m allergic to no fruit other than these three. Allergies are weird!

        2. nonegiven*

          That’s an allergy, anaphylaxis is not the only symptom of an allergy.

          My husband is allergic to cantaloupe but it’s so mild the only reaction he has had, so far, is a little itching in his throat, usually during ragweed season.

          Also, don’t think it can’t get worse. I knew someone whose milk allergy went from taking Benadryl beforehand will control it, to anaphylaxis and 911.

    7. Temperance*

      One of Booth’s friends has decided that I’m just a picky eater who dislikes “spicy foods”, so he’ll try and do things like put sriracha on my food or sneak bell peppers in.

      I don’t have a true allergy, so my throat won’t close or anything, but I will break out in hives and a rash and my eyes will run like crazy if I even take a bite of bell pepper. I avoid all kinds of peppers as a result.

      He just … doesn’t believe it, because I’m “unreasonably picky”, because I don’t eat anything involving mayo or yogurt and the smell of either makes my stomach turn.

      1. Courageous cat*

        I am pretty sure breaking out in hives is still very much a true allergy. Your throat closing is worst case scenario.

      2. tigerStripes*

        I also think this counts as an allergy or something similar.

        Since he’s deliberately doing something that gives his friend’s wife hives and a rash, he doesn’t sound like much of a friend to me.

      3. ValaMalDoran*

        And he’s still Booth’s friend why?

        Even if you were “picky”, THAT’S OK. It’s ALLOWED. And no skin off that jerk’s nose.

    8. Lissa*

      I don’t get this at all. I hear about this happening all the time online, and just….cannot imagine what the reaction would be if someone did this IRL in my group with many allergies/sensitivities! This is one of those things that is apparently a huge problem that I never even realized until I started reading stuff on the internet about it – I remember reading something on Cracked about it years ago and was just so…WTF…by all the commenters saying it had happened to them!

      I mean, even if you do secretly in your heart of hearts think someone’s exaggerating/lying, what benefit is there to doing this compared to the horrible consequences if you’re wrong . . ?

      1. StubbornWombat*

        I have celiac, as do my younger sibs, and several cousins. So far no one has deliberately glutened me (other than lazy restaurants whose gluten-free menus aren’t actually gluten-free), but if someone ever did that to me I’d see red. Why don’t people take this stuff seriously? What does it hurt? It’s not like I enjoy my body freaking out over gluten- I miss good bread, but at the same time, I also really enjoy not having scurvy or a massive skin rash soooo…..

    9. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe it is a thing that has trickled down from another generation. My parents were part of the greatest generation. While this group of people had strengths that probably cannot be found anywhere else, they also had strange and sometimes harmful ideas.
      I remember my parents saying that allergies were for weak people and since we were not weak we did not have allergies.
      Looking back on their lives and their health they would have done better if they had avoided certain foods. I can’t unring that bell. But I can learn from it.

      But it’s my theory that disbelief about allergy comes from that era.

    10. ..Kat..*

      My father is like this. Besides just being a jerk, he is always right. Since he does not believe in food intolerances (which I have), he MUST prove to me that it is all in my head. This is just one of many reasons I don’t visit or talk with my parents.

    11. Jean (just Jean)*

      Cheers and thanks to everyone who has expressed awareness of and sympathy towards those of us who for whatever reason are now officially Picky Eaters–not because we enjoy it, but because if we ingest X or food tainted with X we will, honestly, suffer the consequences ranging from anaphlaxis to feeling horrible for days/weeks/longer to the digestive-tract equivalent of swallowing an enthusiastic team of demolition experts.

      We don’t want to cause drama or draw attention; we just want to fuel our bodies without, as the person who does not eat crab said, not having our a$$es explode (or enduring any other other disruptive & debilitating side effects)!

      I truly believe that there are worse problems than having the Digestive Tract from Hell. That said, life still becomes miserable if I cannot control my food-consumption choices.

  21. A.n.o.n*

    Usually the commentators here show a lot of sensitivity regarding domestic violence related issues. But the replies in the post earlier this week about co-workers misconstruing why someone was covered in bruises made me feel a bit sad. So many people wanted to tell stories about times when other people showed concern for bruising that happened in completely non-DV related ways, and they were told in a way that was meant to be amusing.

    But I can’t understand why anyone would find it amusing that we’ve come to a point where DV is the first thought people would have, or why you’d find it funny that others would show concern for something that could’ve been a very real threat, or that they’d leave out pamphlets that may provide help without being intrusive.

    Yes, it’s great (and surely hilarious to you) that this wasn’t the root cause of your injuries, but too often that just may be the case, and you don’t know if the people showing concern may be coming at it from a point of personal experience.

    1. fposte*

      I understand what you mean about the prevalence, and I did think that it might have been useful to have the weight balanced out with some people who had bruises observed at work that were from domestic violence and received help as a result.

      On the other hand, it’s a good thing we’re at the point that that is the first *thought* people have, when it’s always been one of the likeliest problems and it didn’t use to be addressed, and I don’t think people should be unable to tell their stories about those kinds of mistakes or find such a mistake funny, or even annoying when the attempt to intervene is overbearing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. I used to do a lot of physical work and I got bruised, all over. A couple people asked me if I was safe at home. And I did laugh while I explained. The laughter was relief, as in “that is one problem I do not have.” I had family issues going on and several other issues running in the background. The one thing that was going right in my life was my relationship with my husband. My home was the safest place I had ever found and to me that was a joy.

    2. Myrin*

      I actually didn’t at all get the sense that most of the anecdotes in that thread were meant to be amusing – certainly there were some comments that seemed untypically bewildered by someone assuming DV, but for the most part I read the comments who spoke about situations that resulted in bruises as a way to show the OP “hey, there are a gazillion reasons, both weird and not-weird-at-all, for why people get bruises in the strangest places so please don’t feel like your alternative explanation will seem incredibly far-fetched or unrealistic”. I actually saw many threads commending the coworker for being so sensitive and helpful, but I will go back and re-read stuff now, maybe I’m drastically misremembering or there were later threads I hadn’t seen anymore.

    3. Temperance*

      I’m one of those people who bruises easily and is clumsy, and I’ve been totally mortified when a doctor assumed abuse (especially because I had actually fallen down the stairs, which sounds ridiculous). The stories of how I manage to injure myself are admittedly ridiculous and funny, like when I slid down a staircase on my butt, punched a wall, and threw a water bottle with such force that it opened and sprayed everywhere.

      Abuse is the first thought most people have because the average person isn’t covered in large bruises.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        As a baby, my parents brought me to a doc. “Doc, she has bruises on her where ever we hold her!” He said, “Stop beating her and the bruises will probably clear up.”
        I am here to tell you that my parents were not beating me. My parents left and never went back to that doc. So I never got help with bruising until I got much older.

        1. blackcat*

          eeek! Bruising too easily can mean such serious health problems. I am very sorry that happened to you.

        2. Anon anon anon*

          Agh. We need a real wake up call on how to spot child abuse. Too often, things that are not signs of abuse get labeled as such and vice versa. Physical signs don’t mean much without behavioral context. Behavioral signs with no physical signs do mean something. (Generalizing, and I’m not a medical professional, but you get the idea.) I’m glad you finally got appropriate medical attention for the bruising.

    4. Lissa*

      Well…I do think we’ve “come to a point” where DV is the first thought not because domestic violence is more common now, but because there’s much more awareness in the past. Which no, isn’t amusing, but is actually a positive thing that people are aware of it instead of either thinking it’s normal or ignoring it as tended to happen before.

      I do sort of agree that the dozens and dozens of stories of people’s bruises/clumsiness did feel a bit weird in this context, though. I think it’s also kind of an awkward situation for everyone involved – because it’s so hard to prove a negative in a case like this. So the person who asked might always still kind of wonder and the person who was asked feels like their innocent partner now needs to be defended, which can spiral the whole thing…

    5. JD*

      Oh good grief. She was NOT being abused, that is the point. It WAS from something somewhat amusing. Unclench!

  22. Dr. KMnO4*

    Do you ever get annoyed by those overly enthusiastic self-help type people?

    I was at an event, which had to do with the thing that must not be named on weekends, and the leader of this event irritated me to no end. People were introducing themselves and talking about the previous few months and what they thought the next few months would be like. Many people said something along the lines of, “We had a good fall, we hope the Christmas season will be even better”. This, apparently, was just Not Okay, because the event leader could not stop following up on their comments. The Not Okay part? Saying that they “hoped” the future would be even better.

    The event leader said, more than once, something like, “You shouldn’t hope. Your future is within your control if you do the right things. You should think about what you can be doing to make the future what you want it to be. It’s all within your control if you do the right things.” Now, of course, I’m paraphrasing, especially with that last sentence. But his tone was so patronizing. These people were in no way saying that all the good things in their business happened due to sheer good fortune! They are working hard, and they know that their work has contributed to the positives they’ve experienced. But there is always an element of randomness. Nothing that involves other human beings is ever entirely under your control. If he felt he had to push back on people saying “hope”, I could deal with him saying it once. But every time someone used the word “hope” when talking about the future he reiterated his point. I mean, “I hope good things happen” is a very common thing to say!

    Maybe is just because I tend to be cynical and contrary, or maybe it’s because I’ve seen times where this personal responsibility stuff is just flat out false, but I can’t stand it when people are told not to “hope” for things because if they just worked for them they would get them. It seems willfully naive at best. Yes, people should work towards their goals. But it isn’t wrong of them to also hope that things go well.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s freaking reprehensible, to be honest; it’s just another flavor of the just-world hypothesis. It’s the kind of thinking that bakes inequalities into the system, because it’s people’s own damn fault for not having 100% control over their own lives and making everything awesome for themselves.

      1. Dr. KMnO4*

        I agree, and I think that’s what really bothers me about it. I’ve been in situations where, no matter what I did or how hard I worked, the outcome was largely out of my hands. I’ve interacted with people who work extremely hard and do all the right things, but will, through no fault of their own, never get to be rich or “successful”. This kind of “work hard and you will be rewarded” nonsense ignores the problems in the system, like biases in hiring, unequal funding for education, inadequate mental health coverage, housing discrimination, and all the other things that push out the less privileged. Sometimes, when you are working as hard as you can and it seems like you aren’t gaining ground, hope is what keeps you going.

      2. Overeducated*

        I absolutely agree. It’s an obvious lie to say the future is within our control if we do the right things, it’s cruel to people who are suffering, and it’s very hubristic.

        1. AnonAndOn*

          Thanks for sharing that. I saw that years ago but lost track of it. I now have it bookmarked.

          That comic hit a nerve with me when I first saw it and it still does.

        2. Jean (just Jean)*

          Another thank-you comment.
          The comic also makes me sad because one of its underlying messages is that we still have so much work to do to make the world a more equitable place. (Egad–run-on sentence.)

    2. The RO-Cat*

      I think it’s matter of confusing the product with the packaging, so to speak. I can confidently say that (a) I read more about how brains work than the average populaton and (b) I can read the messages beyond the message (as well the non-verbal) better than the average population, both by virtue of my line of work. Never have I seen a case of someone doing better just by changing the verbiage and thinking happy thoughts on command. That is why I hate the quackery of most of the self-help today, because I happen to have glanced into what “self-help” means deep down.

      If you want a truly happy life (and science says success follows happiness, not the other way around), you have to work your butt off changing your own mindset, altering your neural paths and doing things way outside your comfort zone, first. Verbiage and thoughts are a consequence, not a cause of inner peace and stability. Those poor sods are like children, thinking that if they purr like an engine they’ll run as fast as one.

    3. Temperance*

      I honestly hate people like that. I’ve had a rough past 18 months, due to nothing within my immediate control. A friend of mine has a seriously mentally ill husband, and I can promise you, SHE can’t make her future any better just by wishing really hard.

      It’s a disgusting amount of wacky thought and privilege to say such insensitive things.

    4. HannahS*

      Yeah, I’m really not a fan. I get hit up with that kind of thing a lot as I’m chronically ill/disabled (but don’t look it). So I’m always like, yes, I’m so glad that mindfulness solved all of YOUR problems and I’m so glad that YOU like yoga but for the love of G-D please leave me alone, I need lots of medication to function and yoga makes things worse (I’m already very flexible; it’s just too hard on my joints).

      1. The RO-Cat*

        I’m so glad that mindfulness solved all of YOUR problems

        If anyone told you something to that effect, I’m officially mad. I love mindfulness; it’s part of what kept me going when I was ready to call it quits; it’s given me a whole new life (literally and metaphorically); it helps people cope with or improve their situation in a plethora of conditions, from depression to living with chronic pain (scientifically researched and proved). Still, mindfulness is an instrument and that is why I only recommend it as a try-and-see (at most; usually I wait for people to start asking questions). It doesn’t solve problems; it gives you headspace to come up with your own, personalized solutions. This claim, that it solves problems, is the bane of my life as a mindfulness promoter and facilitator.

        Matthieu Ricard called that quackery, and the use of mindfulness as a stand-alone technique, “McMindfulness”. It’s a bunch of lies and gonflated claims that harms everybody (safe, of course, the mindful snake oil pushers). I regret it proved to be of no help for you, but no tool suits every need and I hope you already have the best arsenal of instruments for your particular situation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I do believe in watching our self-talk. But often times crap just happens. We get up in the morning and from out of nowhere appears a bunch of crap.
          I think the mindfulness promoters have never held a dying parent’s hand, they have never walked beside someone as they lose everything they own, they have never struggled to find a path to their adult child in prison for rape or murder… I could go on.
          Not everything has a happy-happy outcome, because there is no good outcome.

          Positive self-talk, positive outlook helps to a point but it is not an appropriate tool for all settings. Mostly people need practical advice that can be implemented TODAY and start to lessen their struggles today.

        2. HannahS*

          You know what, I think this is a learning opportunity, and an important one for you as a mindfulness promoter and instructor. I can tell from your tone that you’re genuinely trying to be nice and supportive, and I want you to know that I know that you meant well. But at the same time, argh! RO-Cat! I’m so frustrated with your reply! Why did you read what I wrote (which included the idea that I’m glad that mindfulness worked for you but please just leave me alone) and then want to reply to me with an explanation of what mindfulness and that mindfulness has been scientifically researched and proven?
          Did you assume that I have misconceptions about mindfulness that need to be addressed right now? Or that I must think it’s all a load of crap and need to be informed, right now, that it’s not? You could have just said something like, “I’m sorry to hear that people are being jerks to you. I love and teach mindfulness but I know it’s not the right fit for everyone” which would have been welcome. You could have felt upset or anxious or threatened that other people are giving this thing you love a bad name, and put a comment on the main thread about mindfulness that talked your own experience, which would have been totally fine because it would not have been addressed at me.

          But since you addressed it to me, I want to remind you that every other sick person and I know mindfulness. And yoga. And going gluten-free. And that medication your sister-in-law is on. We know what they are, we know that they work for some people, and we try them ourselves when our doctors tell us to. Then, they don’t work for us. Then, we get to hear about them ad nauseum, forever, from people who assume that if they don’t work, we must have been misinformed/doing it wrong, because this thing, it really works! Science shows it! It worked so well for me/my coworker/my next door neighbour! Which, like, ok, great, but it didn’t work for *ME.* I was talking about *MYSELF.* And I am so damn tired of having that met with the gentle implication that I must be wrong. And I know you didn’t mean to come off that way, because you said at the end that not everything works for everyone, which is such an awesome and important concept for everyone from yoga instructors to physicians to understand. So I know you’re not a thoughtless proselytizer. I think what happened is just that you meant to write something compassionate but felt a wee bit protective of mindfulness and then it all came out somewhat thoughtlessly. And then it managed to strike the exact nerve in me that it would likely strike in a lot of ill and disabled people, which is the nerve you knew you should try to avoid. Which, hey, it happens.

          1. The RO-Cat*

            Thank you. And I mean it in a genuine way. I never thought of all the implications you laid out and it is, really, a learning moment. I still have to work on my approach – there are some uncharted (for me) types of situations where I get it wrong, and your reply is truly helpful. And I appreciate your approach. It got the bulls-eye while remaining compassionate (another learning moment). Thank you.

      2. EDSer*

        You sound like me. Seriously, a week doesn’t go by that someone isn’t telling me how to “fix” my problems. My problem is genetic. I would love to go to that party, that movie, that meeting, that event. I won’t know until about an hour before how I will feel. I may say yes and push through and live to regret it. But really truly, no amount of exercise, PT or yoga is going to fix this. Not even your particular kind. really.

    5. Chaordic One*

      The prolific author Barbara Ehrenreich, probably best known for Nickel and Dimed wrote a thoughtful book on this subject titled Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking is Undermining America . It was really quite well done.

  23. Amy*

    What do you want for Christmas this year?

    I’m starting to work on finalizing my plans for everyone and I’m down to the cousins who I don’t talk to as much anymore. Leaning toward food gifts for them.

    1. Amadeo*

      I’ve gotten to the age where the gifts are fun, of course, but what matters more is that everybody hangs out for at least an evening and eats themselves sick. We tend to do that on Christmas Eve since my sister and her hubs go to his parents’ for Christmas Day.

      I’ve got soaping stuff with art stuff with special edition books and a couple of art reproductions on a list that my family can pick from. I think what I’d like most is a good plug in scale for weighing oils and that 5 pound mold, LOL. I’m always worried that the battery on my little $14 Walmart special is going to lose its mind at the worst moments.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I would love Harry Potter trivial pursuit, cosy socks and woolly things, bath stuff, notebooks, and more notebooks…

      And the new Philip Pullman book.

    3. Red*

      I really, really want one of those smaller blenders that make a smoothie for one person.

      I would also love some bumper stickers for my car, I can’t recognize it in a parking lot to save my life. I am being very serious here, I spent the better part of an hour walking around the parking ramp at work looking for my car. I had a panic attack, thinking I’d never be able to leave. The parking ramp employees nicely drove me around looking for it. I walked past it.

      Also, clothes are always nice. I sincerely believe the moment one becomes an adult is the moment one gets all sorts of excited to open up clothes on Christmas.

      1. Jules the First*

        We bought my mom one of those little disc things (a Tile, I think) and put it in her car. Now her phone will give her directions right to the driver’s door.

      2. Temperance*

        I bought my Magic Bullet for like $25 last Black Friday! I highly, highly recommend it.

        I honestly hate getting clothes as gifts, because the people who buy me clothes don’t understand my taste at all. It’s so frustrating!

    4. Anono-me*

      I would like a racing drone and a pair of pretty wool socks that are warm, but not scratchy, please.

    5. Kat*

      New trainers for running! Might get them for myself with my small work bonus, though.

      Probably books, otherwise… I always want books.

    6. paul*

      A macro lens so I can good shots of small bugs and a good telephoto lens for birds.

      fixed weight dumbbells from 85-125 lbs

      Fishing pole for me and my kids; going to try to each my oldest to fish

      I’ve got a few field guides for various regions on my list–I realized I’m *awful* when it comes to birds east of the Mississippi

      A good time with my folks and my in laws–no political fights between them please please please

    7. Kendra*

      My favorite thing to do is to take some kind of food and combine it with a pun. For my best friend’s birthday last year, I got her a bunch of mentos and wrote out a ton of cheesy compliments on little pieces of paper and called it all complimentos. This past year, I wrote out cheesy jokes and accompanied them with a bag of snickers. Next year, I’m going to write out encouraging little phrases accompanied with mint candy and call them encourage-mints.

      1. Kendra*

        Not actually what I want for Christmas, but it’s a way to give something inexpensive and not have it feel like you’re being cheap.

    8. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      My list is unusual so I’m no help. But if they just bought a house and are doing projects, gift cards to lowes/menards/home depot/visa can be very helpful. cause you never know when they need to buy all new smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, vent covers, curtain rods, etc.

    9. Merci Dee*

      I’ve asked for 2 things.

      My old, small George Foreman grill broke during the move in May, so I’ve asked for one of those in the next size up (4-person vs. 2-person). The small one was nice, but the only way you were cooking 2 hamburger patties at a time is if they were sized for dolls. The 4-person will have room for decent sized portions, and for quickly grilling chopped veggies.

      Last year, my daughter bought me a nice bottle of body spray from Bath and Body Works, so this year I’ve asked her for one of those pretty decorative body spray holders to put it in. It’s something nice but inexpensive to fancy up the top of my dresser.

      1. D.W.*

        And spices, specifically *quality* saffron, mace, and lavender. Oh, and a book on spices… The Spice Companion

        That is all.

    10. JD*

      I really want another Cartier Love Bracelet but know that won’t be happening this year. Hopefully I will get this new LV bag I have been eyeing and he CLB boots I asked for from the Mr.

    11. AnnaleighUK*

      A proper racing bike that won’t let me down mid-triathlon or a new gearbox for my current bike. Also anything Disney-related because I’m a Disnerd.

      Disney racing bike? Hmmm…

    12. Overeducated*

      I want pretty things. I am on a fairly tight budget right now so I don’t buy myself much, but I’ve lost a lot of earrings over time, I don’t have any big fashionable necklaces, I only have one lipstick, and my shoes are very out of style as well. So frivolous pretty stuff for Christmas would be nice, and not hard to shop for.

      Or if anyone wanted to spend big $$$…a road bike and rain gear to speed up my commute to work! That’s probably not going to happen but I might get new lights or a tire change kit for my current bike…

      Haven’t decided on many gifts for others yet. I tend to get people lots of books, especially ones I’ve read that I think they would like and I want to share, but that doesn’t work for everyone. My sisters in law are the hardest because I am not sure of their tastes.

    13. Loopy*

      Normally I never have anything in mind but I’d love books, books, and more books.

      Also, an engraved rolling pin.

    14. Pathfinder Ryder*

      My list includes a quilt (I’ve been admiring quilts made for charity for years), a few small kitchen appliances (though I’m hesitating because I’d have to figure out where in my tiny kitchen to put them), and a Playstation Plus subscription.

    15. Liane*

      Books. Lots of books, including some of the Star Wars role-playing notebooks I don’t have. And now that I have a custom lightsaber, I want one of the doublebladed ones from Ultrasabers. Help on my next Star Wars costume. Chocolates. Is there a pattern?

      I am going to get College Girl paperback copies of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson and Alpha & Omega series. Some might be from the used bookstore but she is cool with that. She and I may go in together to buy her brother, College Son, a lightsaber. No clue what I am getting Husband, but probably more RPG books.

  24. Myrin*

    Fun was had by exactly no one when my mum coincidentally found out that my little sister’s ex-boyfriend/rapist/the reason for her PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation is dating our neighbours’ seventeen-year-old daughter (and has been since May, apparently!). He is the only person I know in real life who I would describe as evil. He’s a psychopath who hides behind the façade of a perfectly polite, fun, cool, and cheerful son-in-law.

    We have a good relationship with said neighbours, so my mum went over and talked to the girl’s mum and grandma about it. They were understandably shocked and said they’d keep a close eye on both him and their (grand-)daughter, understanding that if they interfered, the girl would be much more likely to take his side.

    My mum had been going back-and-forth about talking to them or not for a day but I was adamant about it. The stuff with my sister happened five years ago and I will never forgive myself for not trusting my intuition back then, when I was the only one who thought that something isn’t right with this new boyfriend of hers. I know that we couldn’t have prevented anything but I also know that had someone told me about him and thus confirmed my suspicions, I would’ve spoken to my sister much earlier and could’ve done something to help her instead of standing by the wayside like an ignorant idiot.

    I really, really hope that we could help stop another girl and family from going through what my sister and our family did (and still does). I also really hope that my sister never finds out about this and doesn’t randomly see him at our neighbours’ one day.

    1. Kathenus*

      Kudos to you for doing that. I’m sorry about your sister but it’s really fantastic that you took immediate action to try to help someone else not have the same fate.

    2. Anono-me*

      This sounds like a really hard thing for your family to have to deal with again and a really hard conversation for your mom to have. As Kathenus said “Kudos” to your mom for having it and to you for supporting her.

      If there is not any way of getting an order of protection keeping this guy away from the block your home is on; I would reach out to your sister’s therapist for advice or an abuse hotline to see if there is anything more to be done and to ask if it would be better to warn her that the creep is in the neighborhood rather than risk her meeting him by surprise.

    3. Purple snowdrop is finally free*

      Oh Jesus that’s awful. I’m glad your mum was able to speak to them. Well done to her.

  25. Triplestep*

    I don’t know the answer to your question – and I hope someone here does – but I suspect it will have to do with the fact that the landlord warned you about this problem the minute you signed the lease. It would not only have been ethical to warn you ahead of time, it would have been a smart business choice. The termination fee she’d get if you moved out would probably not offset the costs associated with an empty apartment and finding a new tenant.

    It’s not surprising she’s annoyed with the second floor tenants; she has probably had a revolving door of third floor tenants because of them. Ideally she would have had some language in their lease about noise, and when they were out of compliance enough times she could have started eviction proceedings then. Or at some point in six years she could have opted not to renew their lease. I don’t think their being a young family is the problem – I think she’s a weak business-person who is daunted by the eviction process, which can be hellish for landlords.

    I hope you get to move out with minimal impact to your and your pocketbook. Maybe instead of trying to avoid the termination fee, you can find a landlord offering a discount to sign a lease during an off time in your area. Good luck!

    1. Triplestep*

      Oops .. so this is what happens when you leave a window open too long and then refresh before submitting, I guess. Sorry, it was originally a response to AshK434 above (Noise issue in apartment.)

  26. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

    When do you turn the heat on? Before this, all the places I’ve lived where I’ve had control of the thermostat (i.e., when I haven’t been living with parents) have been so warm that I didn’t have/need heat. I can’t sleep if I’m even the tiniest bit cold, so I’ve been leaving the heat on at night in my bedroom (the heat comes in through the floor and I can turn it on/off per room, which is SO WEIRD) and then turning it off during the day, although soon I might try leaving it on all the time and just keeping the door closed to keep the heat in.

    But in the rest of the apartment, it’s just kind of been as needed, so sometimes I’ll have it on all day in my living room, then I won’t feel like I need it for another three days, and then I’ll need it only for a couple hours another day. I know the general wisdom (at least if you have air vents like I’ve always had before) is that it’s better to leave the heat on the whole time, but it still feels a little early for that (most of the time it’s still in the 50s during the day here, and whether or not I need heat also varies a lot by how much sleep I’ve gotten).

    1. CAA*

      Do you have radiant electric or hot water heat in your floors? We have electric in our ceilings, and it gets quite expensive to leave it on in rooms we’re not occupying. On cold nights, I’ll turn it on in the bedroom about half an hour before we go to bed.

      1. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

        I’m maybe 80% sure the guy who showed me the place said it was electric heating, and I saw it when the floor was up in spots and didn’t see anything resembling pipes, so I’m going with electric. The expense is the biggest reason I’m so unsure–for air vents it makes sense, but it doesn’t feel right to me to leave something electric on (other than, like, the fridge) if I’m not actually going to be there to use it.

        If it makes a difference, I also have a glass door in my living room leading out to the backyard that I’m sure will suck out a ton of heat when it gets colder.

        1. Natalie*

          If your aversion to leaving the heat on while you’re not there is a waste issue, keep in mind that it is often less resource intensive to keep a steady lower temperature, rather than turning the system off to that the space cools down entirely and has to be heated all the way back up. If you’re leaving for more than an hour or two, can you set the temperature lower rather than shut off the unit?

    2. Kat*

      Do you have a timer? I use mine during the week so the heat comes on half an hour before I get up and then an hour during the time I usually get home. I can then decide, once I’m home, if it’s cold enough to keep it on or not really worth it. I’ve added an hour just before bed too so I can warm the bedroom up. And I turn down radiators in rooms I’m not using, so just now I have the heat on all day in the living room because it’s 4C and I’ve been home all day, but I turned it right down in the bedroom.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Timers are cheap now. We bought ours back when they were $100. Now I see similar things for about $25.

          I have the heat come up in the morning when I get up. Then it goes down for the workday. At night it comes back up while I am still up and working around the house. Then it goes back down one last time around 10 when I go to bed.
          I like it because it takes out all that debate about where to set the heat. The program detects that the room is below x degrees so it kicks the heat on.

        2. CAA*

          If you decide to get a timer, please have a professional look at your system first. Radiant systems are often (maybe always?) high voltage. Nest thermostats and similar timing devices are not compatible with high voltage systems.

    3. Nana*

      Nice you can do room-by-room. I’ve found that an electric heating pad to warm the bed is a big help. [Five minutes before I get in]
      As for the slider, can you cover it with plastic, bubble wrap, anything to make a barrier between window and room? I’ve done that in my (non-insulated) enclosed balcony, and it does help

    4. Kay*

      If I’m not paying for it, as soon as I get even slightly cold.

      Now that I heat a huge, drafty, 100 year old house in Vermont? November 1. Then it sits at 60 for the winter. I have entire closets full of sweatshirts and blankets.

      1. blackcat*

        This year, in New England, the Nov 1 threshold was 100% reasonable. My house didn’t get cold before then…. which I found unsettling.

        I was also displeased when, back in May, I went from heating my house (highs in the 40s) to cooling my house (highs in the 90s) in a span of 4 days.

    5. Thlayli*

      It seems that you turn the heat on only when you need it, but you worry that you’re supposed to have it on constantly?I’ve never heard of the idea that it’s a good idea to leave the heat on constantly. If I were you I would do a little research on that and unless I found some good compelling argument for having it constantly in I would just have the heat on when I wanted it.

      I have oil fired central heating and I have a timer thermostat (which also has an app so I can turn it on/off/up/down from my phone). I have the temperatures set so it comes on a half hour before I get up and then comes on only if the house cools down during day and then it’s off at night. The thermostat also emails me each month to tell me how many hours I had the heating on. It’s about 2 hours a day at the moment.

      I love living in the future.

      1. blackcat*

        Depending on the system, it absolutely takes more energy to heat a house back up vs keep it at a constant temperature. This depends a lot on your house/apartment and your climate.

        My friend’s apartment in San Francisco? Totally makes sense to turn in the heat briefly, as needed. They’re insulated on multiple sides (by other units), so they don’t lose nearly has much heat. My parents’ ranch style house east of the Oakland hills? Probably makes sense to constantly heat in the coldest part of the winter (when it does actually freeze) because SO MANY WINDOWS. My house in Boston? Heat is generally constantly on from sometime in Nov-sometime in March, no breaks. Because if I turn it off when it’s 15 degrees (F) out, my house rapidly gets cold. It’s a strain on my furnace to heat air that cold. My furnace is efficient and I have good insulation, so I’m not hugely worried about the cost of heating (highest bill ever has been $200/month when it was SO COLD in Feb ’15), but I am definitely worried about damaging the furnace (replacing that sucker would cost at least $7k).

        Plus, I have a cat. He gets mighty cranky in temperatures below 60. I keep the house at 62 in the winter, and it would drop below 60 pretty fast if there was no heat (generally an hour or two if we lose power when it is stupid cold).

      2. nonegiven*

        My husband investigates high bill complaints for an electric utility.

        If you have a heat pump with resistance heat for back up you want to be careful about lowering the temp when you aren’t there and turning it back up when you get home. Without a special thermostat designed for heat pumps, your resistance heat will kick on and it costs a lot more to raise the temp in your home that way than to keep it at the same temp while you are gone with your heat pump, alone. Normally, the resistance part just kicks on when it is too cold for the heat pump alone.

    6. KR*

      I’m from New England and usually lasted until December before turning the heat on (until I moved in with my sister and she decided to turn the heat on in her room without letting me, the electric payee, know). Now I live in the south west desert. We turn it on at night sometimes when it gets below fifty, but most days we can keep our windows open during the day and the heat is only used at night to make sure the house doesn’t get below 60 (we all use blankets, even the dog). When I lived in New England we had an electric thermostat that kept the house at around 62 during the day when we were at work and at night when we were sleeping, and then turned it up to 68 during the morning a half hour before we woke up and in the evenings while we were awake.

    7. Circus peanuts*

      I have had entire winters when I have never needed to turn on the heat. Living in Texas means that sometimes I have the a/c on nine months out of the year. So I have the flip of your problem. I usually see if there is a trend of a three days or more of being slightly uncomfortable and look at the forecast before I do anything about the temperature.

    8. Floundering Mander*

      My house is pretty easy to heat up because it’s not that big, so I turn the thermostat up as needed. I also have an electric fake fireplace (really just a fan space heater set into the wall) in the living room that I can turn on if it gets chilly in there, plus a couple of electric oil filled mini radiators that I can use in other rooms as needed. I usually keep the thermostat set fairly low and just use one of the others in specific rooms if it’s too cold.

    9. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      I like my apartment chilly and sleep best with cold room+warm blankets, so I’m not sure my feedback is the best for you, but what I do is keep an eye on the thermostat, and when the temperature starts showing at/below the level I want, I turn the heat on to the lowest temp I’m willing to accept and pretty much leave it there. In my case, it’s easy because I set it a couple degrees above my lease’s required minimum temp, and I don’t really have to think about turning it off when I leave.

  27. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    Eye recovering with mild eye strain. But it feels like paradise—no contact with toxic mom since this summer when she was bitterly ashamed of how I lowered my standards by dating SO. I showed her my ring design that month, and she pulled a sour face. She always seemed disappointed that I wasn’t dating someone “up her standards.” Quote: “what does SO have that I don’t”
    On a cheery note, SO bought the ring and is picking it up next week!!!!!!! I’m not telling my mom—she will scream, be hypercritical and controlling (she told me my wedding isn’t about the bride, it’s about my mom).
    My plan: announce to friends privately; social media with privacy settings. A month before the wedding, invite relatives, and neither uninvite her nor issue her an invitation.
    Anybody do something similar? I feel like a bad person and wish things could be different–but she never has anything nice to say to me or SO. Everything I tell her, she spins to make me/SO look bad. She uses me as a punching bag and then later says she didn’t mean it or she was just kidding–but I know she means it all. The only reason she’d go to a wedding is for appearances’ sake to look like a good mom. Thoughts?

    1. Courtney*

      I think you have a solid plan in place. At some point you’ll probably want to come up with a simple response for when relatives ask about why she isn’t there/was’t invited. And maybe consider if you could ask any of your friends to be on the lookout for her the day of and get her out of there if she shows up.

      I didn’t invite my dad’s mother or siblings to my wedding, but it was a bit more simple because at that point I’d been no contact with them for five years.

    2. Anono-me*

      It sounds like a good plan to me, and you know your mom and her reactions, so you are in a good place to plan accordingly.

      You may want to check out a wedding site, I know the weddingbee (in addition to lots of advice about flowers and dresses) actually had a specific area for posts about this type of issue. You might find it helpful to see what works for other people and what didn’t. It would probably also be nice to know just how common this is unfortunately.

      Congratulations on engagement proceeding to the next step.

    3. Bluebell*

      Congrats on the ring news! One thing you might add to your plan is to think about who would handle your mother if she did come to your wedding. That would probably help a lot and give you extra peace of mind if she did come.

    4. Tabby Baltimore*

      If you could explain her absence by saying “She’s been having a lot of difficulty talking to me with a civil tongue in her head lately, so I figured a wedding wasn’t the best time for a meet-up” without laughing out loud at how absurd it sounds, I’d say more power to you. Best wishes to you, and congratulations to your intended! I sincerely hope your nuptials are drama-free.

    5. tigerStripes*

      You’re not being a bad person; you’re taking good care of yourself by protecting yourself from a toxic person. I’m sorry you have to deal with this, but you’ve been doing a great job separating from her!

    6. Sophia*

      The website apracticalwedding.com has discussed this issue. It comes up periodically in the happy hour comments on Friday. I know there has been someone recently discussing it regularly. There may also be some blog posts.

    7. ..Kat..*

      I would recommend not inviting her. If you do invite her, I recommend having someone (or several someones – they can take turns so that they don’t have to do this for the whole wedding/reception) be in charge of her. As in keeping her away from you, blunting her obnoxiousness, escorting her out if she is too obnoxious, etc. Do you have any police officer or social worker friends? They can be very good at this verbal judo, not putting up with crap stuff.

      I hope you will post a link to ring pictures! I love to ooh and aah over rings, babies, etc.

      In the U.S., there is a standard line in wedding ceremonies where the official asks anyone who has any objections to the wedding to “speak now or forever hold your peace.” If you invite your mother, leave this out. Otherwise, you give her the chance to openly object at your wedding! My husband and I left this out of our wedding ceremony to avoid giving my parents just this opportunity. My parents very much objected to my marrying my husband. And, 22 years after the wedding, he is still the best thing that ever happened to me (we are still happily married).

  28. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    So, I’m trying yoga today because it is supposed to help with my anxiety and balance, and the classes are free at my gym.

    Only thing is, my gym is in the richest town in the state, so there are a lot of thin, plastic-surgeried women in these types of classes.

    I am kind of nervous about being such a schlub by comparison, but on the other hand…very cute butts!

    1. AnonAndOn*

      Hard as it is, do the yoga for you and don’t worry about those other women. Try not to compare yourself to them. Think about how the yoga can help with your physical and mental health.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      Focus on you and your body and how it feels. Also, don’t be afraid to try different classes and teachers. There are many styles of yoga and each teacher is different and can make a big difference in your experience in the class.

    3. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      …and, you know, don’t objectify the women in your class who just want to have a workout and not be ogled.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Hmmm, yeah, I’ve got to say that I wouldn’t be cool with that comment from a man here and I don’t think it’s okay coming from a woman either. We can do better.

        1. Alice E.*

          Hmmm. Alison, I notice you originally agreed with Helena’s post below with this exact same response. But now it is up here instead. May I ask the reason for the change?

      2. AnonAndOn*

        I agree with you there. I missed that part of the original post because I was focused on the part about comparing herself to the other women.

        The objectification of the other women is not cool.

      3. JD*

        Same. I have been called so many names and told I need to eat a cheeseburger so many times by bigger women. Doesn’t feel any less painful to say someone is too thin as it is when someone says someone is too fat.

    4. Anon anon anon*

      Yeah, give it a try! They might be nice. But if they aren’t – if they’re snobby or cliquish or whatever – it might be worth paying for a class with a friendlier atmosphere. If it’s within your budget. I hope everything works out! (No pun intended.)

      1. K.*

        In my city there are lots of yoga studios with “community” classes that cost less than the regular classes – same instruction, just cheaper classes. They’re usually in the $5 – $10 range. Might be worth looking into. My gym has yoga classes but I often supplement with those community classes just to mix things up a bit.

      2. JD*

        I have never even spoke to a person in yoga class. Who cares if they have a clique. Go, do yoga, leave. This isn’t HS, who cares.

    5. Kendra*

      If you can’t find a cheap gym and can be motivated to work out by yourself, there’s an app I like a lot called Yoga Studio that has a lot of different videos for different purposes and difficulty levels and lengths of time and so on, and it’s pretty inexpensive.

    6. TL -*

      Yoga is very much supposed to be about your own practice, not others. (More so than dance or most sports.) And you’ll probably find some parts relatively easy and some not so much: I have flexible hips and bendy ribs but stiff shoulders which is the opposite of a lot of people. So some poses I can get in to really deeply while others can’t and some poses I’m struggling to achieve at all. The only person who cares is me.

    7. Helena*


      Seriously. It just goes to show that even with all the awareness and more and more (brave) people speaking up, there is still work to do. If a man posted what you did, some would be calling for his head/for him to apologize. Your gender and sexual orientation are no excuse.

      Those women are people. They are there to enjoy a workout, not be ogled like a piece of meat. Please be respectful to them. I feel sorry for the women who attend that gym.

      1. Quaggaquagga*

        It’s fine to call out the gendered double-standard, but let’s not make the OP feel like a twisted pervert, either. This kind of comment is normalized in our society. That doesn’t make it right, but habits are ingrained and it takes practice to recognize and correct them. Let’s be kind to each other.

        1. Alice E.*

          I notice that Alison had posted here agreeing with Helena. But now that post is gone from here and has been moved upthread under a different comment.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Btw, please don’t post with multiple user names in the same subthread; I’m sure you didn’t intend it as sock puppetry but that can be the effect! Thank you.

        2. Alice E.*

          Racism and homophobia are still normalized in our society and at one time, even moreso than now. I doubt you would say the same about comments like those Quaggaquagga.

          1. Quaggaquagga*

            I’m not saying the normalization of any kind mindset is ok, but we only know the sea we swim in. It would be great if everyone lived with their hearts and minds open and ready to accept what they don’t know, but most people need to be guided towards a new way of perceiving the world. I’m not saying don’t move towards a better way of thinking, but I’m asking to use kindness rather than shaming.

        3. JamieS*

          I would argue that if we’re looking at it from the position of it’s ingrained as being okay in our society then it’s worse for a woman to say those things than a man because our society doesn’t encourage women to engage in or validate women for this type of behavior like it does men. Therefore if a woman says those things out of habit it’s not due to the society we live in, social pressure, or social acceptance. It’s due to her own moral compass or lack thereof.

          To be clear I don’t personally think it’s inherently worse for women to make those comments. For me, it depends on the specifics of the situation. However if we’re going to use “societal acceptance” as an excuse (which I don’t agree with doing) then women have less excuse than men.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      “They all look nice and I feel I don’t.” You can say it that way, OP. It’s pretty normal to question whether we would fit in with a group or not. I think you will find that you will fit in okay, just like you they are there to help themselves and improve their lives.

    9. Book Lover*

      I hope it went well for you. I think a lot of people feel that way, not wanting to go to the gym or whatever because they don’t ‘fit’. I think yoga could be a great choice for anxiety and balance for sure. It is hard and scary to start anything new.

  29. Kat*

    I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit low this last week (PMS-related depression always hits me hard) but I am proud of myself because this morning I really wanted to hide in bed, but I knew it wouldn’t make me feel better, so instead I went for a run in the sunshine. Cold but good! Now I’m aiming to enter a 10k next spring. Having a goal will hopefully help me to keep going and not give up too easily.

    1. buttercup*

      I’ve been feeling the exact same way. Congrats for making it out of bed! It’s more than I can say for myself.

      1. Kat*

        Nothing wrong with that! You have to do what’s right for you. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing! (And I’ve been on the sofa the rest of the day!)

  30. Jessen*

    Very heavy rant involving domestic violence coming on:

    I’m realizing I am in whats is essentially a domestic violence situation. Only the abuser is a parent and not a romantic partner. I’m making my plans and moves to get out, but I get so frustrated with people’s attitudes sometimes. I feel like the idea that adult children could still be abused by parents is largely unrecognized, and it’s very common to be stigmatized as “ungrateful” or “taking advantage” or something like that. There’s also still a very strong idea that an adult child can just move out, without recognition that (like romantic relationships) there can be many outside factors contributing to that.

    And it all just sounds so *reasonable* if you’re not living with it.

    1. Myrin*

      That’s aweful, I’m so sorry to hear that. I wish you all the best and that you may be in a better situation soon!

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      I’m so sorry to hear this. The reddit group r/raisedbynarcissists has a bunch of resources on getting out of a difficult or dangerous situation. I’m glad you’re making plans to be safe.

      Abuse doesn’t become less abusive just because you are older. i believe you.

      1. Jessen*

        Thanks. I think a lot of it is there is still the assumption that I would “just leave” if it were that bad. I think I did have a bit of learned helplessness issues. My family has always been very middle class and I’m realizing many, many people live in situations that don’t meet their standards of enough money. I’ll be ok in a cheap apartment eating cheap food and wearing cheap clothes. I’ve been out before, I’ll make it work. (Medical bills are being an issue, but I’m 90% sure half of them are stress-related anyway at this point.)

        1. blackcat*

          My mother has done this to my brother (no abuse, but teaching him to be helpless). He doesn’t see how he could survive living on his own making less than 100k/year. When I explained to him how much (or rather, how little) my household income was my first year out of college (~25k for two people), he just had NO IDEA how that was possible. It wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t that bad.

          It is okay to live in a place with holes in the walls and to eat beans and rice. I have learned that most “bad” neighborhoods are actually totally safe.

          You can do it! It may take some adjustment, but it’s totally survivable to live with waaayyyy less than the upper middle class standard of “enough.”

          1. Jessen*

            I actually like beans, helpfully. Never mastered rice. But I make an extremely tasty lentil soup, and I can do all sorts of things with noodles and with eggs. Feeding myself on the cheap is one skill I did get.

            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

              A good rice cooker is about $40 and a complete godsend. I’d never have survived my first year on my own without mine!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          When I moved out an on going health issue of six plus years just healed up and stopped. It never came back. You are probably correct in assuming your concerns will fade once you move.

          I have had great luck shopping for clothes at tag sales, consignment shops etc. The clothes were better quality than the brand new ones I used to buy. For food, I always check out the clearance table at the grocery store, I have gotten some great deals on good products there.

          Build yourself a support group, even if it’s informal and kind of loosely constructed. Maybe there is a coworker who can give rides to work if you have car trouble. Maybe you will have a good neighbor who will give random helps here and there. I found that once I learned to say Yes to people, my life got better. When someone offers something say yes where it makes sense to say yes.

          It’s a big step, but life can and does get better.

    3. Turtlewings*

      I haven’t been in your situation, but I definitely know it exists. You deserve just as much consideration and help as if you were running from a wife-beater. Very best luck to you, I hope you can get away soon.

    4. copy run start*

      Sending you strength and warm thoughts.

      As far as I know, there are no resources for DV victims that don’t fit the pattern of male SO as abuser, female SO as victim. When I tried calling DV hotlines to get away from my father, no one would help me because it was my dad, not my boyfriend/husband, and therefore I didn’t fit their program. I just got shuffled from one number to another until it finally came full circle, and the best I got was: you can go stay at the local Salvation Army, but after 10 days there’s a nightly charge. I had no job, no vehicle (in a car-dependent area), no savings and no friends within 1,000 miles to help. So I stayed, because at least my shitty situation still had a roof. This was 10 years ago, but I’m not aware of anything that has changed.

      1. Jessen*

        Eesh. I at least have a car and a job. Money’s going to be tight for a while, but I can do it. The only difficulty is because my job is on the night shift, it would be very hard to find emergency shelter. You have to keep to certain hours to use a shelter around here. But I think I’ll be able to get into an apartment.

        But I’m going through the same thing with “no one will help because I don’t fit their program.” The DV places refer me to child abuse places, and the child abuse places refer me to DV places. To make it worse a lot of my finan