weekend free-for-all – March 2-3, 2019

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 Age of Light, by Whitney Scharer. It’s a fictionalized account of photographer/model Lee Miller’s relationship with Surrealist Man Ray in 1930s Paris, and I was skeptical that I’d like it but I was totally engrossed. It’s about love and art and imperfection and figuring out what you have to say.

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

{ 1,569 comments… read them below }

  1. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    My cat keeps trying to help me by planting his butt on my laptop…

    1. Doctor Writer*

      I’m struggling to start again.
      Back in college, over a 5 year period, I wrote close to 900k divided in 3 novel length books and a multi book series’ worth of fanfiction, and considered it my ‘learning to write and storytell’ course (as much as it can be). It got great feedback, I made wonderful friends, family members enjoyed it, and I learned so much (internet rabbitholes of army veteran forums, trauma resources, and lighter stuff about camping, art and just about anything), I came back and edited earlier work and still love it, but during the last couple of years of my STEMS phD, everything ground to a halt.
      Now I’m all done studying (it’s been a few months), have a full time job, but when I do have time my brain groans and says ‘no effort!’, and I’m kind of scared I’ll never start again.
      I have 100k of a story in my notes which I’m proud of but deserves an overhaul to be coherent and finishable (it’s two stories so I need to resign myself to telling one at a time to keep the whole thing a reasonable 120k or so), and yeah, all this ranting is to self-motivate to get back to it^^

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I would suggest starting slowly, maybe choose a moment in the day (like 8PM) and try to write something – anything – for ten minuten or so, even when your brain doesn’t want to cooperate. After not all that long you’ll notice inspiration or the will to write automatically starting to come to you around that moment.

        1. Claire*

          What A.N. O’Nyme said. I’d only add:

          Pick the time of day that works best for you. Some writers do best in the morning, some late at night. I know one author who used his lunch hour to write. (That’s not always possible.)

          For your writing session, it sometimes helps to set a timer.

          Oh and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a session. Writing a novel is marathon, not a sprint.

        2. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

          This – I recently started writing again in a way to help cope with this awful job situation and now I have three rules:

          1) Write in the mornings, from 6.30-7
          2) If that’s not going to happen due to cirumstances and you need sleep, its cool, no beating self up
          3) This is fun time, not a death march (or work report. same thing). Let it flow and have a laugh!

          I put a circle on calendar every day I write. I started back up in february and the first weeks were a bit hit or miss but now I’ve got some consistency AND on days when I need to sleep in, I find myself wanting to write in the evenings after work. This is huge – I used to be way too tired (or thought I was) to do that.

          Baby steps approach and self forgiveness help a LOT.

      2. Foreign Octopus*

        I tell myself that I have to do at least 500 words a day. For me, if I focus, I can do that in 30 minutes and sometimes I keep going, and sometimes I stop.

        It might be helpful to have a low word limit to hit each day so that you’re forcing yourself to do it and then you might find that you just keep going.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, I know what you meant. Maybe try to find some writing prompts and write short drabbles based on those? That usually helps me.
        Anyone else have any advice?

        1. Lucy*

          It’s really tough – even writing prompts aren’t doing it for me just now. I think I need to give myself permission to write some absolute garbage like super derivative Mary Sue fanfic ha ha!

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            That works too! Go forth and write a Mary Sue!
            (Fun fact: my phone autocorrects “Sue” to “die”. Er…)

      2. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Oof, I know what you mean. Maybe try to find some writing prompts and write short drabbles based on those? That usually helps me.
        Anyone else have any advice?

      3. Shrunken Hippo*

        I find reading books I enjoy can help me get through writers’ block. Sometimes exploring someone else’s writing style can help my brain switch gears.

      4. Mashed potato*

        Total busy blocks here lol.
        Was spraying weed killer one weekend and then overtime for next two. I jot down idea on an app on my phone so I can still brainstorm at work :D

    2. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’m studiously avoiding the much-needed rewrite of the book I’m working on. Previously that meant writing other stuff, but this week I’ve done approximately nothing. At some point, I’ll get annoyed enough with myself to get back to it, but right now it’s sitting.

    3. Foreign Octopus*

      It’s going well but I’d like to ask the hive mind how to deal with negative feedback. I totally get that, as a writer, we need to be open to the feedback as it can be more useful than positive but I’m finding that for (proportions exaggerated) for every ten pieces of good feedback I get, there’ll be one bad one and I find that the bad one lingers in my mind more than the good.

      How do I accept the feedback whilst also not letting it fester it my mind and knock my confidence?

      1. Claire*

        I totally get this. For me, I keep a folder of emails that I call “Good News” where I save positive reviews/feedback/etc. It helps me keep perspective.

        Oh, and good feedback can be just as useful as the negative kind. We need to hear “do more of THIS” as well as “don’t do this.”

    4. Claire*

      Cats, the fuzzy little criminals.

      The pirate novel sequel is going very slowly, but at least I *am* making progress. I’ve enlisted some friends to nag me every three or four days.

      However! Copyedits for the first pirate novel showed up yesterday, so I’ll be spending the next week or two working through the CE’s comments and queries.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        And now an extract of his being very helpful.
        “The computers just <mkefbmkqjfeùlzkfjlkkljlk"
        To be fair to him, the computer did just go haywire as a result of a power surge. I very much doubt crime scene investigators would say it like that, however.

        1. Claire*

          LOL! Our old cat once managed to switch my spouse’s keyboard over to Arabic, just by walking across the keyboard.

          My Fig-Cat likes to sit between my keyboard and my coffee mug, looming over me like a demon.

    5. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’ve just started writing again. For now I’m focused on world building because I know the basic plot I want to go with but a lot of the specifics depends on world history that won’t make an appearance in the book (I think) but needs to be sorted out to keep things consistent. There have been many nights spent researching geological formations, farming techniques, river travel, horse travel, and a bunch of other little things. I am so glad that the internet exists because it makes finding answers to my questions incredibly easy, though I do often end up down rabbit holes.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah, one of my projects is a fantasy novel and it’s the one I usually work on during train commutes because world building is fun and I can easily put it aside when necessary.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Oh God this is me. What have I gotten myself into.

        It’s INSANE how much detail worldbuilding takes. And 90% of it won’t even be in the book, but if it’s in my head, then writing the bits that are is much easier.

        1. Shrunken Hippo*

          I’m always tempted to not worry about certain aspects of world building, but then I remember how annoyed I get as a reader when things don’t add up and I guilt myself into more research. Though I find world building fun because different cultures have always interested me so forming my own is fun.

          1. Lucy*

            World building and backstorying is absolutely some of the most important work, even if it never makes it on to the page – in fact it’s frustrating when the author is obviously stuffing as much of their research into the final work as possible!

            I’ve been struggling with writers block and I might give myself permission to back story some minor characters to make sure they have a unique voice. Thanks for the prompt!

    6. HannahS*

      I have a (teeny-weeny) craft blog that I love dearly, but the trouble is that I have very little time to do crafts and take good pictures of them. So I have a number of draft posts that are fully written with INSERT PIC written in where the pictures will be. It’s a bit frustrating.

        1. HannahS*

          Argh I’d love to but I have multiple pseudonyms in different parts of the internet and I’m nervous to cross streams. But thank you for asking.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            No worries, I understand. Hopefully you’ll find the time to make those crafts and take those photographs!

    7. MommyMD*

      Love your cat! Mine just knocks everything off every table. I was in journalism before medicine and also a little freelancing. I miss writing and love it and would love to combine writing and medicine but really don’t know how to. I’m not interested in research writing. Good luck to you.

      1. Nynaeve*

        You could look into narrative medicine! There are master’s programs and workshops on it, but even if you weren’t interested in more formal training, you could read up on it to get ideas of all the possibilities. Narrative medicine been covered in places like JAMA and Annals of Internal Medicine.

  2. StellaBella*

    A request for recipes… Do you have lunch recipes to bring for work lunches in containers? Limiting my plastic consumption and saving money by doing this is my goal. Any favourites to share? Mostly vegetarian but I do eat fish and sometimes chicken.

    1. Approval is optional*

      In summer I do a lot of cold rice salads: brown rice cooked with something like cumin or coriander seeds, seasonal vegetables stir fried or raw – depending on the vegetable, sauce sometimes lime and coriander, sometimes honey -soy, and nuts sprinkled on top. I take it in a glass container. In winter I take vegetable and bean soup, vegan mac and ‘cheese’, or a vegetable and bean stew – again in glass so I can zap it in the microwave easily.

    2. Namey McNameface*

      Ditto on salads. Super easy to make and lots of variety. I don’t want to do full vegetarian but eating salads means I consume significantly less meat. Any fish/meat left overs you can chop into small bits and throw into the salad the next day.

      I use whatever vegetables fresh or canned I have at home. Also started growing kale, spinach, celery, beetroot (beetroot leaves also great on salads), and various herbs like basil and parsley. Any kind of grain is yummy and filling. I have used buckwheat, quinoa, millet, list is endless.

      As for dressing, invest in tasty oil. Or hummus/lemon/mayo…anything really.

    3. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

      I do a lot of soups. Super easy to make, and easy to load with veggies and other good things. It’s only my husband and me, so when I make soup at home, I still do a full batch and then freeze the rest in individual containers to take with me.

      1. Chaordic One*

        There’s nothing like homemade soup. Many canned soups are high in salt. I have food allergies and have to be especially aware of avoiding soy (which is in almost everything, darn it!)

        You do have to plan ahead a bit, but you can can make a big batch and then freeze it into smaller lunch-sized containers that you can microwave at work. So much better than canned!

    4. Not Yet A Parent*

      I usually make a bigger dinner so I can put lunches in Pyrex glass containers for work lunch’s. So pretty much anything for dinner is fine to have the next few days. I like making chicken a variety of recipes. Taste of Home has a lot of ideas. Also Pioneer Woman’s blog. Good luck!

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      Hi there – I eat a plant-based diet and my husband and son do not, so I batch cook all my food and freeze in individual containers, so all my work lunches are brought in from home.

      My favourite is dal – if you google onegreenplanet Sweet Potato and Tomato Red Lentil Dal, you should find what I think is the best dal recipe ever. (I usually load mine up with extra veg – usually bell peppers, cauliflower, spinach – and tins of beans.)

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I feel so dumb, but I never thought to look at the rest of the site. Ha! Now I have a new source for recipes. Thank you for pointing out the forest I was missing because I was in love with a single tree!

    6. Marzipan*

      My office has a freezer, which is brilliant as I can make one big batch of whatever at the weekend, and then take a load of boxes of it in on Mondays. I can then mix and match all week! Plus my colleagues know they can help themselves if they want a lunch ever. So I’ll make vegetarian curries, lasagne, risotto, cottage pie… All kinds of stuff, really.

    7. Catherine*

      I do a lot of pasta salads with lazy tzatziki knockoff dressing or kimchi over rice!

    8. Anona*

      Budget bytes has a series of recipes devoted to meal prep. She also just finished a vegetarian month of recipes, so she’d be worthwhile to check out.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      Another vote for pasta/noodle salads. I have a couple of recipes I like for pasta salads – one that’s like a sort of knock-off carbonara with bacon, peas, spinach and ranch dressing (though you could probably swap the bacon for chicken), and another with frozen pre-chopped butternut squash, courgettes, olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and feta cheese. I also have a roast potato salad that I make with peppers, courgette, aubergine and Italian dressing which I really like.

      In terms of the noodle salads, I have a recipe for a Thai peanut salad which I make with rice noodles, carrots, spinach and peppers steamed in a colander (cook the noodles and veg, tip them into the colander, put a saucepan lid over the top) then dressed with feta and peanuts. The other one I like is more Japanese-influenced, with cucumber, peppers, carrots and sesame seeds. I make a similar dressing for both – lime juice, sesame oil and soy sauce, with peanut butter added for the peanut salad and ginger for the Japanese-inspired salad.

      I make a lot of soups as well – usually as an excuse to use up veggies that are past their best. Just mix them with a hand blender, a bit of cream maybe, some seasoning, then put in a pot and take to work the next day. Lots of soups freeze well too so it’s easy to make a huge batch at the weekend, portion it out and then put it in the freezer to eat throughout the week.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Cold peanut noodles are AWESOME. My husband takes them for lunch in the summer all the time — we make a big batch at the beginning of the week and it just gets better and better all week. I do lots of crunchy raw veg in mine, red cabbage, green onions, shredded carrots, etc. Great with edamame as well for some protein!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      There’s a lentil salad I’m trying to recreate from when I used to live in California. I’m still having trouble cooking the Lentils to done-but-not-mush, and I’ve never measured quantity. …but here are the basic ingredients :
      Cooked lentils. Finely chopped purple onions and red pepper. Balsamic vinegar. Olive oil. Optional salt, pepper, and sugar. I’m still messing with herbs&spices too.
      I also love tabouleh. Bulgar wheat. Minced onion & flat parsley. Chopped fresh tomatoes. Lemon juice. Olive oil. Optional salt, pepper, and sugar.
      Just not great for a lunch meeting because the parsley is as visible on teeth as broccoli or spinach!

      1. Fellow veg*

        Have you tried French green lentils? They’re smaller than most and hold up better without turning to mush.

    11. Kimmybear*

      Cannellini beans or chickpeas with whatever veggies I have around (tomato, cucumber, broccoli) and green or red onion tossed in olive oil and lemon juice or red wine vinegar. Sometimes add a bit of feta or serve over baby salad greens. Lots of fun combinations and you get a healthy dose of protein from the beans.

    12. Frustrated S.O.*

      I used to take a lot of stir fry. You can cook up all the separate ingredients on the weekend (rice, chicken, veggies, noodles) and then prepare your bowl daily. Super easy and customizable w/different sauces.

    13. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      This has become a weekday go to for me! I usually make this Sunday night and divvy it up ahead of time–she has meal prep instructions under the regular instructions. The only things I really do differently is 1) usually get chicken thighs instead, because they are cheaper and I think they taste better, and 2) I let the chicken sit in the marinade longer if I can. Like, at least an hour, but I like it best if I remember to throw it in that morning and really let it soak.

    14. fposte*

      I do homemade soups and stews that I’ve frozen in individual containers, and I do bento-style assemblages (no cute shapes, just a color array and a lot of different things). The latter take a little more time but not a lot, especially if you have leftovers, and they’re so much fun to open up at lunch!

    15. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      These are all great suggestions, but I’ll add a recommendation to keep several backup lunches in the freezer. My spouse uses a set of pyrex containers for work lunches and I usually batch cook something on the weekends so they’re ready to go for the week, but sometimes things come up. Having some emergency lunches in the freezer has been a lifesaver.
      Whenever I make something freezable, I set aside one or two portions in a wide-mouth 16 oz jar to freeze. We have a bunch of jars floating around so it doesn’t take any of the main lunch containers out of rotation, and they don’t take up very much freezer space. Chili, veggie stew (with lots of bean/quinoa/barley), leek, potato, and green chili soup, all freeze really well.

    16. Canadian Natasha*

      If you eat eggs, I sometimes like to make crustless microwave quiche. The key is to put it in a container with tall sides and rub butter on the inside of the container before you put the whisked egg and other ingredients in. (That lets the egg climb the container and get puffy). You can pick whatever herbs & veggies & cheese you want). It’s not one container if you bring along bread for toast and/or salsa to put on the quiche but I often do that as well.

        1. PurpleMonster*

          3 eggs, 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup self raising flour. The trick is to only just mix it so it’s still a bit lumpy as that’s what forms the crust. Anything goes – lentils, vegetables, whatever. I find cheese indispensable however. Bake at 220 Celsius for about half an hour.

    17. dbc*

      I like those freeze-dried sprouted lentils. Quick to cook, great texture, high protein and once they’re cooked and chilled are yummy in any combination. I use individual hummus packs (but that might not meet your preferred plastic reduction). I add mustard, hummus, rice vinegar and smoky paprika to any favorite salad dressing; I add capers and green olives, sometimes cooked pasta, frozen, leftover or salad veg of any kind. In winter I add those slaw mixes to the cooked lentils with some hummus and/or miso and heat with some water for a quick and crunchy soup.

    18. Nacho*

      For lunch I just store some deli meat/cheese in the office fridge and bagels/decent bread in my desk, and make a sandwich. Maybe lox and cream cheese if you want it to be pescatarian?

    19. cat socks*

      Here are a couple of soup recipes I make frequently. They keep well throughout the week.

      Senegalese Soup from Iowa Girl Eats
      Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato and Kale from Pinch of Yum

    20. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      This will be more appealing in warmer weather, but you can also pack a container of “salad” style filling to eat with crackers, wrap in a tortilla, or over mixed greens. It’s easy to make a week’s worth of egg or tuna salad ahead of time, and adding white beans or chickpeas and extra veggies makes it reasonably healthy. I especially like diced carrots and spicy radishes.

    21. The Happy Intern*

      Not a recipe but if you’re not one for big lunches, I have a sweet little container that lets me put granola or fruit pieces in the bottom compartment and a larger compartment on top allows for yogurt with a little ice pack that screws into the bottom of the lid so that the yogurt stays cold! I bring about a cup of yogurt with granola in the container plus some fruit and veggies to snack on and I’m set for lunch! It also works as a general container set up for bringing ingredients for other things that need to stay cold so it’s definitely something that I would recommend investing in! I got mine from a kitchen store for about $15.

    22. Rainy days*

      Search for New York Times Vegetarian Skillet Chili. Takes less than 30 minutes to make and there’s only little chopping because most ingredients are canned. Very tasty and you can easily customize to your taste.

    23. Sally Forth*

      I stole mine from a caterer. You can make this up and leave it in the work fridge, minus the almonds, then add a few for crunch at the time of eating
      1 bag of matchsticked carrots
      1/2 cup of dried cranberries
      1/2 cup of crumbled feta
      1 can of drained chickpeas
      1/2 c of slivered almonds
      1/2 c of any citrusy vinaigrette, but orange tastes best

    24. DrTheLiz*

      Chicken recipe, but I’m sure the chicken could be replaced with beans/lentils without too much trouble.

      Serves ~4
      500g diced chicken
      450 ml (1 tub) tomato passata
      2 large onions, diced
      1.5-2 red or yellow bell peppers, diced OR similar volume of broccoli
      1 heaping cup rice
      Herbs/spices to taste. I like garlic, paprika, a little black pepper, basil and rosemary.

      Put all ingredients into a pot, simmer on a low heat for 45-90 minutes. Serve!

      1. DrTheLiz*

        I suddenly recall that I also make a variant of this with halloumi instead of chicken. Fry the onion a little before adding everything else, use broccoli rather than bell pepper and for extra zazz add some balsamic vinegar right at the end.

    25. Kuododi*

      You mentioned you do still eat chicken and fish. I will sometimes make chicken salad out of leftovers on hand. (Another option is to buy a rotisserie chicken at grocery store and use some of the meat for salad and leftovers for homemade chicken noodle soup or chicken and dumplings.). Good luck !!!!

    26. Owler*

      Search for “Kenji Lopez Alt soup in a jar”. He made some instant soup recipes that are awesome. I really like his shrimp Thai soup, with a substitution of leftover diced chicken for the shrimp. I would eat it weekly if I were more organized (and if my family didn’t eat my stash). I’ve been meaning to try his other soups, but I haven’t gotten past the Thai soup.

    27. Drago Cucina*

      Lentil and barley salad with lemon juice, olive oil, and chopped parsley. Sometimes I add feta cheese, but it’s yummy without. The textures have a nice, satisfying bite. I need to make some for my Ash Wednesday lunch.

    28. Anonymoss*

      I found a recipe for baked cauliflower in a tahini miss sauce in Anthony Bourdain’s latest cookbook, Appetites. It’s insanely delicious. And the sauce is good on any kind of pasta or grain dish. It’s very savory and filling!

    29. NosilyCurious*

      I always have cooked lentils on hand, and I add them to salads, spice them up as sides, or make them my main dish. I cook a couple of cups, if not more, over the weekend with just a touch of salt and cumin and keep them sealed in a glass container in the fridge, and they’re great cold and easy to heat up as well. They are yummy with a bit of chopped tomato, green onion, and dill! I’ll have that as a side with some grilled chicken breast, for example.

      1. NosilyCurious*

        I should add that I usually make green lentils or brown, though the latter can get mushy if overcooked/overheated.

    30. Zephy*

      I do eat meat, but I’ve started meal-prepping my lunches on Sunday for the week. This week, I have baked chicken thighs with broccoli and sweet-potato mash. I also have a couple of clementines for a snack, and a yogurt cup for dessert (reusable: buy the big tub of yogurt and mix ~1/3 cup Greek yogurt + ~a tablespoon of strawberry jam together in a small tupperware, if you don’t want to buy the prepackaged ones).

      Thinking over some of the other things I’ve made and trying to vegetarianize them…

      I’ve made a riff on risotto with barley that holds up and reheats very well. Saute diced onion, carrots, bell pepper in your preferred cooking fat; add garlic and sliced cherry tomatoes. Once that all gets a bit of color on it and smells amazing, drop in the barley and chicken broth in proportion according to package directions. Season to taste with salt, pepper, maybe some herbs if you wanna get fancy. You can also change up the veggies for whatever you have/like. Simmer for however long the package says (varies depending on whether you’re using instant barley or not, I haven’t seen a difference in the finished product). I packed mine with some pork but you could sub in your favorite alternative protein. I wouldn’t recommend fish just because it should be a felony to microwave fish in a communal kitchen, but if you have your own office/microwave and aren’t inflicting your fish on anyone else, go for it. Salmon would go very nicely with this concoction, I think.

      Tuna salad and crackers is also an easy lunch to prep, but I’d do that about 2 days at a time, rather than prepping the week’s worth of tuna salad and letting that sit in the fridge all week. Building on that idea, you can do homemade DIY lunchables – crackers, cheese, meat if you want it (cold cuts or bits of cooked rotisserie chicken), maybe some snackable veggies like carrot chips, cucumber slices, celery sticks, with or without a dip to go with – hummus, cream cheese, your favorite salad dressing.

      I’ve also done DIY Chipotle bowls with cauliflower rice. Whatever your normal order at Chipotle is, it’s probably pretty easy to DIY. Rice (or cauliflower rice), beans, protein of choice, sauteed onions and peppers, and salsa layered in a container; pack sour cream (or Greek yogurt) in a separate container and add after reheating if you go for that.

  3. Jane Smith*

    Hi what’s everyone got planned for this wkend? I’m off now yay! Gong to catch up with some friends and try to do more exercise. Oh and I watched Isn’t it Romantic last night – it was hilarious!

    1. StellaBella*

      Well I am going to buy a new handbag, as last night I managed to shatter a full, 1L glass bottle of berry juice in my purse and all over the store floor as I was paying. I was, and am, so embarrassed. Only minor things were damaged but purse had a lot of glass flecks in it that were stuck into crevices so basically not salvageable. So, going to town shops to find a new handbag.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Oh, yes, I need to go buy a new handbag, too. Well, I don’t NEED to, but I WANT to! New job so I want to treat myself. I tend to be a one-handbag woman, which is used until it’s worn out.

        Good luck in your search!

        1. StellaBella*

          You too! I literally bought this bag in January and it’s not fancy, was about 20$ but I liked it. Just found more glass as I was cleaning the things that were in the bag. Ugh.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            It sucks when you find a nice bag–it’s hard!–and then something happens to it.

              1. Pippa*

                Me, too – and not that anyone asked, but last year I bought a kattee brand leather bag off Amazon when I was looking for something solid-but-not-too-pricey, and it’s been surprisingly great. Both the leather and the hardware feel like my much higher-end bags and it’s showing no signs of wear despite being in heavy rotation. Would definitely buy again!

        2. PhyllisB*

          Funny story about purse shopping: my husband and I were at an outlet mall and he told me he would buy me a new purse for our anniversary. I am usually not one of these shoppers who takes forever to pick something out, but we all know how hard it is to find THE ONE when you’re looking for a purse to carry everyday. (I too tend to be a one handbag woman.)
          Well, we went from one end of that mall to the other looking. Finally he picked up a purse, thrust it at me and said “Here!! Buy this one!!” It looked nice, so I was checking it out, and then I saw the price. I said, “This purse costs $200.00!!” He said, “I don’t care!! Just get it so we can get out of here!!” I didn’t, of course. In fact, I ended up going back and buying the very first one I looked at. He got off easy; that one only cost $35.00. And I used it for years. Now all I have to do is mention purse shopping, and he just throws his debit card at me and says, “Get anything you want, just don’t make me go with you!!”

          1. The Other Dawn*

            That’s funny! Yes, purse shopping takes quite awhile. After years of buying purses for looks and then not using them, I’ve realized it has to be an open top with just a middle snap. No zippers or button flaps. I like to just toss things in as I’m walking and not have to fool around with a zipper or any of that. Realizing what I like and find useful has made shopping easier and faster.

      2. Jane Smith*

        Yikes! Hope you find another nice bag and manage to salvage everything in it! I like bag shopping, despise clothes shopping.

    2. Cute Li'l UFO*

      Getting a job suddenly shifted my priorities so it’s a lot of cleaning that I’d normally do during the week basically tomorrow and Sunday.

      I do plan to get myself something fun for dinner. Maybe In-N-Out and a stop to finally try Cookie Dough Parlor for dessert, assuming I haven’t reached capacity from the earlier meal!

      1. Jane Smith*

        Somebody reminded me of the Unf*ck Your Habitat blog last week – I’ve been reading it this week and doing some of the challenges. It’s great for cleaning!

        1. Cute Li'l UFO*

          That blog is why I learned HOW to clean, not just move a pile out of my sight and then trip over it later! Everything stopped feeling so insurmountable and became actually doable. I like to play youtube vids or podcasts while I clean.

          I grew up with a really truly lovely mom who had undiagnosed OCD and serious cleaning rituals. I don’t put the blame on her, my way was just never “right.” I was always good at scrubbing toilets, though!

          Downside is that the visit to the consignment store I planned to take some of my nicer things to won’t be happening since I prefer to visit during the week to sell when they’re less busy. Guess I’ll stop being lazy and list them!

          1. Jane Smith*

            Yes! “Everything stopped feeling so insurmountable and became actually doable.” I so agree. I like to play epic cinematic music on YouTube when I’m cleaning:D

        2. Parenthetically*

          UFYH changed my life. I haven’t “needed” it in years, but the method/practical tips AND the kindness of the blog came at the right time for me and caused such a shift in how I think of cleaning.

    3. Lemonwhirl*

      Taking my kid to his acting class and then out to lunch today.

      Not sure about tomorrow – depends on the weather. I have a meal to batch cook and some veg to chop for snacks for the week. But I also want to do some prep work on the landscaping front. We also got a new board game recently so we’ll likely play that one afternoon. (And husband wants to watch A Bridge Too Far with our kid.)

    4. matcha123*

      I also happened to watch that last night and also found it funny and cute! I was like “Is that Thor?” but it was his younger brother!

    5. WoodswomanWrites*

      I was hoping to have a birdwatching outing or take a hike but it is still raining–and raining and raining–and flooding and slides have closed trails and roads. I’m definitely stir-crazy. On Sunday I’m looking forward to my friend and I attending an afternoon program on gratitude at the meditation center. That will be wonderful.

      1. Jane Smith*

        That sounds like my perfect weekend tbh. I like walking in the rain if it’s not cold too! It’s raining here and we’redue bad winds later so I think I’ll try to get out for a walk this afternoon.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I like walking in the rain, too. Not so good for bringing out the spotting scope for birds, though. The rain today has turned out to be light and the wind has settled down, so I think I’ll head out to the hills on the coast nearby this afternoon.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      My plan was to do some clothes shopping, but it’s snowing. I may venture out anyway, though, since it’s not supposed to be a big event anymore.

      I really need to buy some business wear/business casual for my new job, which I start on March 11. Luckily the new manager arranged lunch with my new team this week. I got a tour of the building while I was there so I got a sense as to how people dress, and it’s a mix of business/business casual. It’s going to be SO hard to go back to wearing business clothing after three months of jeans at the old job. (Bank was acquired and those of us that didn’t get job offers basically became very relaxed the last few months.) I have some business casual pants, so the plan is to stock up on tops.

      Other than clothes shopping, I really don’t have anything planned. I’ve only been out of work for a couple weeks and I’m SO bored! My big event is going to the gym every weekday. I would like to go look at gym equipment, so maybe I’ll do that while I’m out later. I plan to make a home gym and need to get more than just the kettle bells and dumbbells I have.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s snowing by you??? Oh crap, then it’s headed our way. A bit early isn’t it?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          It was supposed to start around midnight in CT, but when I got up around 2 am for the bathroom it hadn’t started yet. When I got up about two hours ago it seemed to have just started since there was only a coating. It’s coming down fast now, but small flakes, and we have a little over an inch I’d guess.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thanks for the update.
            We are supposed to get one storm a day for the next three days. I put in my order for spring, but I think it got lost.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Captain Marvel!
      My husband hates crowds, I really want to see it before I get spoilers, and my daughter pushed to finish h er weekend homework on Friday night (YAY) ..so we bought tickets for the morning show. Turns out that’s a $6.50 early bird price too, which more than pays for the buy-online charge.
      Hoping this gets a big opening weekend to quiet the trolls, too.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Hi Alison – I’m SO hoping you delete this — somehow I was convinced that the show opened last night. IT’s NEXT WEEK. I have tickets for March 8 not for today. WHOOPS!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Well okay you know what I’ll be doing NEXT weekend. Instead, we watched a DVD and moved snow around.

    8. Marion Ravenwood*

      I went for a drink with some friends last night, then parkrun this morning. This afternoon I’m moving all my winter clothes back into storage, before going for dinner with friends tonight. Tomorrow I need to do a bit of side hustle work and tidying up at home.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sounds like it’s a lot nicer weather where you are than here. I mean I like snow, but…

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Yep – I’m in the UK and it’s actually been really mild here for the last 10 days or so. Which was nice, but not so much when you think about why it’s 20C in February (hello global warming…).

      2. PhyllisB*

        Don’t put all the winter stuff up yet. We live in the South (USA) and I was thinking about boxing up some of my heavier things, and guess what? It’s going to go down around 30F on Tuesday. To some of you that may not sound very cold to some of you, but around here, that’s pretty nippy.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My lawnmower, which they told me would take 2-3 weeks to come up in the lawnmower tuneup and maintenance queue, apparently was finished on Thursday morning (that’s four days after I dropped it off) so apparently I have to go pick that up this morning. Also need to do my grocery shopping and pick up a prescription. Nothing super fancy :)

      I think I might start painting my spare room this afternoon though. It needs to be done by the end of the month so I can get the stuff that goes in there moved out of the guest room before my parents come to visit. It’s a pretty small room and has been painted a charcoal grey-blue with dark wood trim, so it’s felt positively claustrophobic. I’m painting it a light moss green, and replacing the battered old trim with white, so that should lighten it up a lot.

      And then I have to work tomorrow. Yeehaw! :)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I got halfway through the last (smallest) wall and ran out of paint in my tray :-P rather than pour more out, I decided to just wait and, when I do round two on Monday or so, finish the first coat and launch straight into the second. Very pleased with the outcome so far, the color is lovely and much more cheerful than previous.

    10. Overeducated*

      I need to clean my apartment and file some insurance paperwork. Both have been put off too long.

      Today probably going to see my sister in laws’ kids compete in their major extracurricular activity, since they have a meet 15 minutes away, but SIL still hasn’t gotten back to us with the time. Sigh.

      Otherwise, debating whether to ask my real estate agent to show us a new listed property, since homes sell fast here but I’m not sure we’ve fully resolved our questions about location. Basically, dealing with the realization that our budget means my commute will be over an hour, the schools will be so-so, and it will STILL feel like living in the suburbs and needing a car to get everywhere apart from work and school is kind of a bummer.

    11. Jaid*

      I’m still getting over my cold and just want to sleep in… But the rent’s gotta get paid, so cue me getting showered and dressed. Might take it a step further and driving to the grocery store…

      1. Jaid*

        Annnd I just realized the office is closed so I’m showered…and in pajamas again. I may go out later though.

    12. Miss Astoria Platenclear (formerly Waiting for the Sun)*

      I have big plans this weekend. I’m going to see the Chicago production of Hamilton. Going with family members, who are treating me. Excited and grateful.

    13. Jane Smith*

      So I was planning on going to a rope workshop this afternoon, but I went back to bed for a nap this morning because I didn’t get much sleep last night… And I massively overslept and missed it! I’m in the bath now and is nearly 3 p.m.
      Oops. Only got time to walk to the shops, and maybe buy a bag online instead ;)

        1. Jane Smith*

          It’s a tying peeps up BDSM kind of rope workshop:) A demo on how to do so safely, and practise-with-clothes-on workshop.

          1. Jaid*

            I figured it was either that or an exercise work-out using jump ropes.

            There’s a sex positive club in Tacony. Originally the neighbors were outraged, but as things progressed…well the club is still there, the neighbors chilled out and it turns out that people have better things to worry about in the neighborhood like opioid addiction and racist letters.

    14. cat socks*

      Currently trapped in bed with three cats. This is the first time all of them have been in such close proximity so I keep looking at them with googly eyes. One of them just started bathing the other. I might be stuck here all day.

    15. Slartibartfast*

      Big time slumber party fun. Got half a dozen teenage girls tee heeing in the basement.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      Not a lot–we’re expecting winter weather with snow to start tonight, 2-5 inches. I have everything I need except I forgot to top off my gas tank (still have half a tank). It’s supposed to be super cold too, so tomorrow may be a do-whatever day. I might bake something just to use the oven, haha.

    17. New Bee*

      We went to a Black History Month event–they had a career panel that was very cool. Going to a friend’s party and hopefully out to buy some pregnancy-friendly shoes tonight.

    18. PhyllisB*

      I have been trolling the internet for cars. My grand-daughter totaled her car last Wed. She hydroplaned and hit a tree. She’s fine, but the car….two that I found were sold before we got there, and the one we went and looked at was way over-priced for the condition it was in. In case you wonder why I’m doing this instead of her (she’s looking also) she’s only 17 and car was in my name so insurance issued payment to me. Wish us luck!!

  4. Grand Mouse*

    Mostly a vent but I am really stressed out! I’ve been hit with many extra bills for medical care (me and the cat) and I went into the ER yesterday so I’m dreading that bill. My paycheck was smaller than normal due to missing a day because of the snowstorm. I’ve also been trying to save up to see my fiance. In our 2 years together, we’ve only seen each other in person for week.

    (Minor aside but I also feel ugly recently due to face and hair stuff so I am really down in the dumps lately)

    Following up to a post I made a while ago about some gothy platform shoes at work, I decided against them and decided to get gold sneakers! Fila Disruptors if you want to look. They’re fun but pass at a casual office. I really recommend metallic shoes if you want to jazz up your look and be popular!

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      That sounds like a lot of life coming at you all at once. I’m sending you good wishes for the coming week!

    2. Frustrated S.O.*

      I’m not sure why, but January and February are always tough months financially.
      I’m hit with my auto insurance bill, heating oil, taxes and I broke a tooth and needed an unexpected crown. I don’t know if it’s just winter or timing, but it sucks.

      1. Grand Mouse*

        The winter certainly doesn’t help! There’s a lot of expenses at the start of the year, more likely to get sick, costs related to any bad weather etc

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I feel for you too, because you never know when a kitty gets sick and needs the vet. This can be as much as your own doctor visit.

    3. LGC*

      First of all, best wishes! (And I’m really hoping you’ll be fine at your job for the ER thing. You should be, though!)

      You’re also tempting me to buy some loud sneakers for work. I’m…slightly adventurous (my boss has not yelled at me yet for wearing maroon Pumas, gray Chucks, and Vans MTEs to work – in my defense, the Chucks are leather, and the other two are suede), but…you know what, I’m probably going to end up buying a pair.

      I will probably be posting in the open thread in the next couple of weeks about what to do when your boss tells you that you’re a role model and you can’t wear gold Filas to work on a day that’s not Friday, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

  5. Not Yet A Parent*

    I’m wondering what people with a pool would recommend for safety rules for kids and also pool safety features are good ideas. Or really any suggestions welcome! My spouse and I are applying to adopt an older child or siblings from DSS and our home has an in-ground pool. We don’t currently have any kids (other than fur babies) so I’m wondering what types of pool rules parents have for kids of various ages. Right now the fence around the pool goes up to the house but there are multiple sliding glass doors that exit to the backyard directly. I’m planning to sign up the child(ren) for swim lessons, looking at lifesaver flotation rings/a shepherds hook and probably will add a second fence around just the pool area. I’m thinking that rules would be 1- no swimming without an adult present 2- no running in the pool area 3- no diving from the shallow end. I feel like I’m sure that it will probably also depend on the child specifically and maybe their age/maturity level. I don’t know if it matters but I’m not sure if the child we adopt will be any age from 6 years to a teenager. We are so excited as well as a bit terrified! Life is about to change a lot! It’s going to challenging and also rewarding.

    1. Pool kid*

      Rules I had (I knew how to swim well, until then I guess I was always with floaters and my parents), No food, drinks (especially glass glasses) or running around the pool (hard surface that got slippery), no going into the pool without warning an adult first, no head first diving (obvious, considering the depth), keeping the noise/splashing reasonable, and drying off before going inside. Oh, and no touching the pool chemicals in the shed.
      We had floating fries and water guns, a few lighter balls and that’s it.

      The dog kept away from the pool so nothing to worry about there.
      I also had to keep an eye on baby bro (floaters belt until 6-7yo I think), we usually went together or not at all if parents weren’t in the garden until I was 10. If parents were out of the house, no pool until I was 13, and no pool with friends unless there was an adult around unless the friend was really familiar to my parents until I was 15 (and never more than 5 friends or so).

      The most important thing is teaching the kid to swim, to tell and keep it to daylight hours, and making sure they realize that hitting their head is dangerous, and being reasonable with ‘holding your breath’ games. As pool protection goes, a stiff roll-on cover worked very well for us (barriers don’t stop a determined kid over 5 years old).

    2. Rebecca*

      Maybe I’m a bit over the top, but I’d insist that access to the pool be locked. Even obedient and smart kids break rules some times, and this is a learning opportunity you don’t want!

      Also check liability laws in your area for what other access needs to be locked. In the town I was in on Canada, for example, if a neighbour kid got in, even without permission, and drowned, you could be on the hook. We had to be sort of mean about the neighbors playing on our climbing frame when we weren’t home in case one of them fell off.

      1. Mary Connell*

        There are special child-proof locks for sliding doors for exactly this scenario. A locksmith should know about them, I assume.

        1. just a random teacher*

          And keep in mind, as you set up your locks, that you want something that will keep little kids out but which will also let you, as an adult, get that door/fence/barrier open REALLY QUICKLY if a kid does get into the pool despite your preventative steps and you need to go in after them. (Also, elementary-age kids have feet that fit nicely into chain link fences and can climb those suckers really easily. Adults, not so much.)

          For me, I have a little pin that goes through the top of my sliding door’s frame to help slow down small children who want to get into the pool area rather than a key lock on that door (there’s also the regular latch lock on the sliding door, but that wouldn’t stop anyone from exiting), but I don’t have children of my own so it’s a case of trying to deter other people’s toddlers from ending up in the pool area when they’re visiting my house. It wouldn’t keep a determined small child willing to shove furniture around to get up that high and then figure out how to rotate the pin away from the pool, but it’s in a high traffic area of the house and for my situation it’s a good balance between keeping kids out of the pool while letting me, as an adult, out that door and into the pool quickly in an emergency.

          1. valentine*

            There are special child-proof locks for sliding doors
            I wouldn’t lock any necessary entrance/exit. You may be unconscious or otherwise unavailable when the child needs to escape a threat.

            Keeping the pool covered when not in use should prevent most injuries. I might go overboard with one adult per child or two adults always (one on guard duty, one who is also in the pool or can go into the house or take smaller children in to use the bathroom). If not in the pool, everyone stays in a particular section.

            1. child safety is hard*

              This kind of depends on the age and personality of the child. It’s reasonably normal to child-proof all exit doors when kids are really little (like, toddler age) to keep them from getting out the front door to play in the street as well as out the back door to play in the pool. This is particularly true if your particular child has shown a tendency to try and let themselves out to wander off. (I’m thinking mostly of my cousin’s particular kid here – he was a very busy bee at around 3, and would take off running in any direction that looked interesting without any regard for things like traffic or how far away adults were. He’s settled down a lot as he grew up a bit.)

              Once they’re old enough that that particular kid is less likely to wander off in an unsafe way like that, you dial that stuff back so that in case of things like fire they could exit without you. It’s a tough balancing act that depends on the individual kid.

              The thing that worries me about pool covers is that if someone does manage to get into a pool with a pool cover on, it’s much less safe than a pool without a cover since they can’t easily surface for air. I’d imagine that most kids that can figure out a door latch can also figure out how to unhook part of an anchored cover, and I’d worry that one of them might decide to only unhook part rather than all of it at that point.

    3. Anona*

      We don’t have a pool, but we were talking last night about how our rule when our daughter is around water is that she’ll always wear a lifejacket until she can swim confidently, and must put it on before she’s even near the water. It sounds like the kids you’re talking about are older, but my husband almost drowned at the beach when he was 2 or 3. It was when they first arrived one day, and he just ran in. His family didn’t even see him, and a passerby had to grab him after he’d already swallowed water.

      So I’d say swim lessons may also be huge.

      1. Anona*

        Also, congratulations on this foray into parenting! That’s wonderful, and I hope many good things for your family.

    4. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      A solid cover that can be secured might be in order… and motion alarm sensors in the water.
      Kids can be taught to avoid dangerous situations, depending on their age and temperament. With kids who did not grow up with you, there will be a lot of learning curves. Being “over safe” may be sensible.
      I would recommend phrasing the safety lessons so that they are YES messages, not NO ones. “We walk near the pool to avoid slipping” “Food and drinks near the pool need to be on the plastic food dishes, and always when sitting at the table.”
      Also, check with DSS. I bet they have guidelines for pool safety.
      Congratulations and enjoy the adventure!

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thanks! I’m going to research motion sensors. I hadn’t heard of them before.
        We did ask DSS and they had general suggestions but didn’t know for sure what the inspector would require. DSS had a three page sheet for most of home that was very specific but there was not a pool section on the list. The safety inspection is this month so we will find out soon.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No somersaults off the side of the pool. A friend did that and hit the concrete and wow that was a lot of blood.
      She needed stitches and was fine after that… the whole pool had to close for more chlorine or something.

    6. Book Lover*

      I understand the age of the child may be variable, but personally I think you need safety locks at minimum and potentially alarmed doors and pool.

      We have a fence around the pool – check your insurance and consider the attractive nuisance issues. We also have a lock on the only door to the back that requires a key that is kept in a separate spot.

      1. L’il Sebastian*

        I would be surprised if locks and an alarm weren’t a requirement when the home check is done for the adoption, so I second this. Many comments here are talking about what their house rules are/were with pools, but this is also about the legal requirements since your home must pass a safety check before an adoption will be approved.

    7. Epsilon Delta*

      The number one rule my parents had was that you do not ever, EVER say help unless you actually need it. If my friends or I said help while playing a game (unless it was in the context of a full sentence, like “help me find the toy”) we were kicked out of the pool.

      Swimming lessons and adult supervision were also mandatory until I was a teenager. And when I was old enough (twelve?) I had to help with the pool maintenance – mostly vaccuming and sifting stuff off the top.

      1. Nynaeve*

        Yes! I’m still a little salty about having to get a new cell phone years ago because my cell phone was in my pocket when I jumped into the pool to save a girl I was nannying who didn’t actually need to be saved. (To be fair, it was an old Nokia, so I probably needed a new phone anyway.)

        If they want to play at being rescued, they can have an innocuous code word so everyone knows nothing serious is happening. When my dad was a lifeguard as a teen, it was “lemon drop.” You could say that and the lifeguard could practice their rescue technique while knowing no one was really drowning (and the person got the thrill of being fake rescued).

    8. Someone Else*

      The agency will give you specific requirements around your pool to be completed for the home study. Is the fence you mentioned specifically a poolsafety fence? Or just a fence around your yard? Around here the pool needs either a hard cover or a fence that’s at least 4 feet tall that is self-latching (ie if you let it close behind you it will latch). That needs to surround the pool. So if the slider opens directly to the pool area, your pool doesn’t count as fenced currently. A motion sensor alarm in the water in some places is allowed in lieu of fencing or cover. Although I’ve heard animals can set those off so while they’re less expensive they can be annoying. Usually the regulations are not so much to make it impossible for a child to get at the pool without an adult, but making it difficult for the child to accidentally get to the pool. The actual regulations vary by locale, so it’s hard to give definite advice on requirements, but the agency will tell you.

      In terms of just house rules:
      No swimming alone. Ever. (not meaning 2 people in the pool necessarily but another person must be in the pool area)
      No running.
      No diving (and your agency might require you to have a no diving sign up too)
      No glass.

      Making sure they’ve had swim lessons and that floaties are around is good too.

    9. Sam Carter*

      I’m not a parent and I’ve never owned a pool, so I can’t pretend to know about that, but I have had friends with foster kids and some of those experiences are relevant. Many of the kids are completely “normal” but others may be coming out of traumatic situations. It’s critical to keep that in mind whether you’re talking about swimming lessons or other activities. Age is a factor as well. If your newly adopted kid is reluctant to try swimming lessons, maybe it’s not about swimming at all. Maybe being unclothed in a swimsuit during a private lesson with an unfamiliar adult reminds them of other trauma. I’m not trying to say you’re kid will have issues, I don’t know that, but it’s so important to listen to the child and hear the message behind their words or actions. If you can, try to let them have choice or control of some aspects of the lesson. That could help with them rebelling just because they are so fed up with having their lives so monitored, controlled, and changed at someone else’s whim.

    10. neverjaunty*


      Get a good pool alarm. In addition to a fence, safety rules, etc., it will let you know if anyone (or even an animal) falls into the pool.

    11. Jenny F. Scientist*

      Just as a general water and play rule we have for our kids: no playing games that are unsafe/ that the other person doesn’t want to play. So that rules out holding other people under, etc. (Generally applicable to life!)

    12. Anonymoss*

      I’m not a parent, but I am a childcare provider and extremely cautious about water safety. I agree with locked fences and other security measures. When children are in the pool itself, especially young children or ones that are not yet proficient swimmers, an adult needs to be designated to be watching the kids- this means NOT on their phones, reading, gabbing, or drinking.

      Good luck with your adoption journey!

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thank you! Adults definitely need to not to be distracted when kids are playing around water.

    13. Indie*

      I would assume that any rules are going to be broken. Older kids who you didn’t raise are going to be rules breakers. Their guests are going to be new to the rules. I would rely on locks/covers etc far more than rules. I am teaching a lovely boy who set off his grandmother’s panic alarm just to see what would happen, days after being told it would summon both cops and paramedics.
      We had a young toddler guest fall into my parent’s pond hours after explaining the hazard to everyone, including her parents, and blocking off the path to it. She went for it through some flower beds because water + child = magnet. Luckily we were all right there and it was shallow enough for her to get a footing. Id personally keep it covered/drained while you learn more about the kid and they learn more about rules. Not to mention that many looked-after children are going to be weird about nudity, water and defiance.
      It’s super exciting though. Another of my students had a vile early childhood and has blossomed with his new family.

      1. Not Yet A Parent*

        Thank you! Good points. Even kids you did raise are going to break rules. Becoming parents is exciting and scary at the same time. So glad the toddler was ok!

    14. Middle School Teacher*

      Have you checked with your city? There are probably very specific safety regulations you will have to follow that are clearer or better than anything we could suggest. A quick google search for my city says that any home with a pool has to have a fenced yard with a lockable gate and that the pool itself also must be surrounded by a fence, minimum height 6 feet, also a lockable gate. The gates must able to be alarmed, the pool cover has to be designed for the pool, can be secured and alarmed (so you can’t just throw a tarp on the pool).

      As far as swimming rules I think you’re on the right track, but as Rebecca says above, it’s a thing in Canada (at least parts of Canada) that if a child drowns in your pool you can be on the hook for that, so better safe than sorry.

    15. Vincaminor*

      Unless the pool is truly dinky, I’d suggest a reach pole along each side, so there’s one always to hand. Ring buoy with attached rope at the deeper end. If it’s a ladder in and out, rules about always facing the ladder climbing it. No jumping/diving unless it’s at least 1.5 meters deep (5 feet), or the depth of their whole body with arms stretched up. Nth the fence around the pool with locked gate when you’re not home. And yeah, learning to swim and almost more importantly, float and tread water.
      (Am lifeguard. I may be hyper vigilant, but no one drowned from being over prepared!)

      1. Quandong*

        One final recommendation: get a large, easily read, outdoor sign with the steps for how to resuscitate, and attach it to the pool fence / where everyone can see it.

        Even people who haven’t learned how to resuscitate can follow these signs when necessary to save a life.

    16. Sami*

      Growing up, my sister and I frequently played with a neighbor friend who had a pool. Her parents found a sign somewhere and immediately put it up. “Welcome to our ool. You’ll notice it has no p in it. Please keep it that way.”

    17. Nana*

      Remove the diving board. I didn’t realize it, too, was a kid magnet. In the shallow end with an adult friend and three kids…looked up and the fourth kid [a non-swimmer, aged 5] was bouncing on the diving board. [Happily, we walked back to dry land when asked…and DH took the board off that day.]

  6. GMN*

    This weekend I am prepping our apartment for sale as my boyfriend and I bought a house! We have a photographer coming Monday so it needs to be spotless by then. Just had a look at the other comparable apartments on the market here and got a little scared…any tips on selling and styling for a sale would be welcome!

    1. Not Yet A Parent*

      That’s exciting! Congratulations! I’d suggest taking any personal photos down and generally decluttering and cleaning. Have beds made, put any bathroom sink items out of sight (hairspray, makeup etc).

      1. StellaBella*

        Me Echo this – stage it as a model home – remove all personal stuff, all clutter, clear off all surfaces, leave one vase with fake flowers in a space/on a table as a centre piece. Clear off literally all surfaces and if you can make the storage in like cupboards in kitchen sparse (same for closets, etc). dust and clean everything – including closet floors and shelves, and tops of doors and frames, tops of bookshelves etc. if you have curtains, get them cleaned or wash them and iron them – or if you have blinds clean them well in the shower and rehang them. Scrub the floors (vacuum) and baseboards and dust the coving on ceiling if you have it. Do the windows inside and out. When I staged my house for sale I had the carpets cleaned as well as all of the above, and got new nice house plants in lovely pots (3 of them, placed to make the place look inviting). Finally also, air the place out or keep a window cracked open a bit if possible, to keep air flow going in the place, to make it welcoming and not stale. If you have a balcony or outside spaces clean the balcony floor/tiles, railings, etc and organise/clear off the furniture too. Good luck and yay for your new house – so exciting!

        1. Lcsa99*

          I also agree with opening a window and letting in fresh air BEFORE you have any possible buyers see it, but do not leave it open while they are there. It is March – if you have a window open in the middle of winter they will worry that you are trying to hide something – musty carpet smells, smokers in other apartments , or even in yours. It was something we worried about every time we saw open windows.

      2. Lcsa99*

        Actually I disagree. Do get rid of clutter but don’t take down personal photos. It makes it easier for the buyers to see themselves in a place that is more homey than in something that looks like a showroom. I wouldn’t leave enough up that the wall is essentially papered with photos, but don’t sanitize it of all personal touches.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          When my family sold my mother’s house, the realtors suggested art&photos that don’t show people. So they picture _themselves_ there instead of wondering about the people in the pictures.

          1. Marion Ravenwood*

            On that note, I’d suggest nothing with names or other identifying features either – nameplates on kids’ bedroom doors, any sort of artwork featuring birthdays/wedding dates/previous addresses etc.

        2. Marion Ravenwood*

          Agreed. I think there can be a level of personal stuff that’s too much – so not covering every square inch of space in knick-knacks or family pictures – but I wouldn’t remove absolutely all of it. When we were looking at houses, being able to see what it would actually look like as a home and how to use the space was massively helpful, and the personal touches helped with that.

    2. Brandy*

      Take out as much furniture as you can. Put it in closets or a storage unit. Clear all surfaces. This means tucking your microwave, coffee maker, toaster etc in a cabinet or closet.

      Take down all personal photos. Empty bookshelves except for a few decorative books.

      When we sold our first house (1000 sq ft, 2 BRs), we put an arm chair, two end tables, the top to our kitchen hutch, one of our two dressers and about 15 boxes of stuff (books, liquor, rarely used kitchen tools and appliances, off season clothes, seasonal decor etc) in storage. The photos came out amazing. Nobody could see that the dog bowls and bed were stuffed into a closet, that the microwave and toaster were hidden in an upper cabinet etc. made the whole house look enormous. FWIW sold in 2 days ;).

    3. Not A Manager*

      Seconding advice to remove personalizing touches. Buyers want to see their family in the house, not your family.

      When you live in a home, unless it’s some kind of super-architectural gem, pretty naturally the house recedes to become a background for your stuff – your art, your furniture, your tchotchkes, your clutter. When you stage, you want to reverse this. Everything in the space should be a foil for the space itself. You need just enough furniture in each room to convey the purpose of the room. Just enough art that the room looks inviting. Etc.

      Remove as many side tables, poofs, throw pillows as possible and then add back only enough to make the room look pretty.

      Clean out cabinets and closets as much as possible. Leave just enough stuff to convey the use of the space – literally one pretty bottle of olive oil, two cans of fancy tomatoes, and a box of pasta is enough for a small cupboard. Remove half your clothes from the closet, put all your remaining clothes on matching hangers, and sort them by color. It sounds bananas, but it looks great.

      The effect is that people subtly imagine that if they move in, THEIR lives will be well-organized and uncluttered. It makes a difference.

      1. ThursdayEveningChild*

        Yeah, when I was house hunting and saw clutter and personal stuff I always wondered whether they were serious about selling. But tricks like warming cinnamon in the oven to make it smell like apple pie and leaving a favorite recipe card in a holder on the counter were great touches in houses. Is there a better equivalent for a city apartment? Generic pretty things displayed and hung, not personal photos.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I am not a storage unit person for general life stuff, but this is a time it makes sense. Nothing makes your home appear uncluttered quite like hiding all the clutter in a separate location.

      1. just a random teacher*

        A storage unit also lets you keep anything of sentimental value out of harm’s way while your house is being shown. In general, you should not have anything in your house that you would be devastated to have broken or stolen while your house is being shown. Particularly think about anything fragile and attractive to children not being around if it’s something you care about. (It’s fine to keep something fragile that you don’t care about, like a non-sentimental vase with flowers in it, on display if it helps stage the house, just make sure it’s something that you won’t be upset to lose if something happens.)

  7. Ruth (UK)*

    I was thinking about how fears (often irrational) of certain animals develop, especially recently as I have a fear that doesn’t seem to be that common in the UK (dogs) but also am not afraid of certain things many people don’t like (snakes, spiders, ‘creepy crawlies’ in general).

    For me, for dogs, I think it’s partly lack of positive interaction as a child with dogs. My dad is quite allergic, and also generally not keen on dogs, and my mother had an aggressive family dog as a kid, and is wary. None of my close friends had dogs. So, through witnessing my parents’ behaviour around them and not getting much interaction myself, I think it became a fear. I have a few instances where dogs have jumped up at me as a kid etc and I was very scared (my mother cites one time in particular where I was knocked down, after which I became much more actively afraid, though I don’t specifically remember it myself). While most kids will get a dog jump at them at some (or various) point(s), I think for me it was also that it was in the context of me also not having any other (more positive) interactions. I’m not deathly afraid of them as an adult, but I am definitely nervous. I will generally never pet a dog, and if approached by an off-lead dog, I usually stand still and don’t look at it, and hope it goes away.

    I know 3 other people personally who are afraid of dogs. One was attacked (badly) as a child. The other 2 are from India, and one of them said to me that when she came across dogs in India, they were typically stray and possibly rabid, and that’s affected how she feels about dogs.

    Now… my parents had a pond in the garden when I was a kid, which attracted frogs – and also an occasional grass snake. My mother loves frogs, and also likes snakes. I used to catch frogs (and re-release them) a lot as a kid. To this day, seeing a frog will make my react like “awww” (ie. I feel they are very cute) and wanting to hold it – though these days I usually don’t unless it’s in a position where I feel I need to move it (eg. I had one in my tent one morning when I woke up last summer). I feel fairly neutral on the topic of spiders (we don’t have venomous ones here. I would feel different I guess about one that could hurt me. But the appearance/look of them doesn’t scare me. Same for snakes).

    I recently had a dog jump repeatedly at me while I stood very still and stiff, and said to the owner “sorry, I’m afraid of dogs”. “Oh she won’t hurt you!” the owner said cheerfully, not restraining the dog. It made me wish I could carry about a tarantula and put it on people and say “oh it won’t hurt you!” cheerfully back. Of course, I wouldn’t really do this (partly out of concern for injury to the spider).

    Also, I saw an off-lead dog go into a field of donkeys yesterday when I was out walking at lunch time. It jumped up at one and all the animals in the field (about 7 donkeys, and 2 horses) immediately WENT for the dog in full gallop. For the dog’s sake, I’m glad it got out of the field, but I hope the owner will learn to keep it on a lead around other animals like that. There have been some incidents recently with dogs and sheep in the local news… (also, the donkeys were LOUD as they went after the dog.)

    1. Sandy*

      I have a lot of sympathy for your Indian colleagues. I am a huge lover of dogs— in a North America and sometimes Europe. In the other places I have lived, non-domesticated dogs are usually rabid and the domesticated ones are trained to guard the house and go for the throat. Not a fan!

    2. Eleanor Rigby*

      Also UK…lots of people have a fear of dogs. It’s actually quite common so not as unusual as you think. At least a third of children are, and most likely, a significant amount of them will have it in adulthood also.

      1. WakeUp!*

        Yes, this is very mysterious to me. Many many people are afraid of dogs. It’s unclear if Ruth’s fear rises to a phobia, but if it does she wouldn’t be alone. It’s well-documented as one of the most common animal phobias.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I don’t think mine is a phobia. In fact, I think it’s maybe not even in the category of full fear but more a nervousness/wariness. I’m not blanket afraid of all dogs no matter what, but afraid when being approached by a dog I don’t know, especially when it’s not on a lead. It’s enough that I might make small adjustments to my behaviour in the moment, like pausing if I was out running, or giving a wider berth but not enough that I would adjust large parts of my behaviour / routine, like a avoiding whole areas / parks. I feel worried but not panicked.

    3. Lady Jay*

      I recently had a dog jump repeatedly at me while I stood very still and stiff, and said to the owner “sorry, I’m afraid of dogs”. “Oh she won’t hurt you!” the owner said cheerfully, not restraining the dog.

      Oh, I’m afraid of dogs (which is as weird in the US, where I live, as the UK) & this happens to me too. What’s also irritating is something that happened last fall, when I was out on a run: two big dogs (but fluffy, they weren’t mastiffs or Rottweilers or anything) ran up to me and in front of me. I stopped & stood still, hoped the neighbor would call off his dog–but he stood there, calling to them from the porch, and they didn’t come!.

      What bothers me about this is that dogs are so popular in the UK/US that people seem to forget they can do great harm, even unintentionally (I was knocked over as a child by a dog trying to play with me) and as a consequence, people don’t take proper precautions to monitor how their dogs interact with people, by leashing and/or training effectively. It’s assumed that the dog’s comfort in not being leashed & getting to run in the woods outweighs whatever minimal discomforts other people who don’t want to be jumped on feel, or it’s assumed that of course everybody wants to see and play with your dog!! Neither assumption is really accurate.

      (Now, I happened upon a couple walking two puppies over Christmastime recently & got to pet the puppies. I will take more of those dog interactions, please!)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        It bothers me a LOT when other dog owners dismiss fears. It doesn’t matter if my dog is friendly or the goodest boy who ever lived, if you’re scared, you’re scared. I appreciate it very much when people say, “I’m afraid of dogs” before we pass, because it gives me the opportunity to hold him off to the side, or give you a wider berth, or whatever, and it makes the interaction as calm as possible. My partner once chastised me for telling a scared child that I was holding on tight to my dog, because my partner thought that reinforced the fear, but I thought it was more important in the moment to reassure the kid, not try to fix him. But I have seen so many instances of, “Oh, but he’s so friendly!” and it doesn’t matter one iota to them that another dog may not be friendly, or may be leash-reactive, or that a person might be afraid.

        1. Anonforthis*

          Not to mention that many dogs have guarding instincts, so while they may be friendly to the OWNER, they may see other people as a threat.

        2. just a random teacher*

          I am so tired of the “but my dog is friendly” people. I have an elderly basset hound. She is a wonderful dog, but her vision and hearing aren’t great and her back will hurt if a dog jumps on her. She does not want to play with your dog, and she will nip at your dog if she gets startled or hurt by it. We walk her on-leash and do not take her to the clearly-lableled off-leash area. If we are stopped at the side of the trail with our dog on a very short leash, it is because we know OUR dog is not friendly for casual park encounters and I do not care that YOUR dog sees every creature on earth as a friend they haven’t met yet. (She does have doggy friends! We introduce them very carefully, with lots of chances for her to use her excellent sense of smell to figure out what is going on and not be surprised even if her vision and hearing aren’t giving her a lot of info, and not as random off-leash park encounters.)

        3. Venus*

          Agreed so much. “My dog is friendly” often doesn’t acknowledge that the dog may be slobbery, shedding a lot of fur, or dirty. I don’t want them rubbing up against me, or – even worse – jumping up! I have had large dogs run their head along my pants and had a wet slobbery spot for an hour.

          I have a dog who is friendly, in the way that he often ignores people but if there is a chance of food he’ll sit near them and look sad. So I know that this dog will not touch them, unless of course the person initiates (in which case he loves being pet). Yet I think it’s important to always respect other people’s space more than my dog’s. I wish more people felt this way!

      2. Bagpuss*

        It’s so rude and inconsiderate of people to let their dogs jump up on anyone
        – even if you aren’t afraid, not everyone will want to be jumped at, for a variety of reasons. I mean, I may not want to be jumped at because I don’t want muddy paw prints on my clothes, or for any number of other reasons.
        – if you are scared it’s irrelevant whether the owner thinks the dog won’t hurt you, both because fears are often irrational (I mean, I am terrified of ants, and they definitely can’t harm me ) and because they are often wrong – the dog which bit me did so as it’s owner assured me that it was friendly and wouldn’t hurt me, (and after I had asked them to please call it off)

        I think “please call your dog off” can sometimes be more effective that “I’m scared of dogs,” because it’s clear wht they need to do rather than why you want them to do it.

        1. Sam I Am*

          I was attacked by a dog I knew in a house I’m familiar with. I love dogs, but unknown, off leash dogs currently cause me to panic. I really like the language of “Please call your dog off,” as it puts the action on the owner; hopefully it means that I can hear the reassurance about how great their dog is after they have it under control.

          1. Venus*

            I occasionally meet up with dog owners who can’t read their dog’s body language when it threatens my dog (growling and snapping – sometimes people don’t see this as problematic, but I know that if my dog starts to growl then it’s his way of telling them that he’s unhappy and is preparing to defend himself).

            I use the wording “Please take your dog away now” and they usually look surprised and start walking away. It’s not great for initiating a conversation, but if they aren’t able to read obvious cues then I’m not keen to chat with them.

            The expression “call your dog off” isn’t prevalent here, and might confuse the situation as the owner might not know what to do. “Take your dog away” removes any ambiguity for me.

      3. Lissa*

        Yes, I agree especially with your third paragraph.. I understand that online it’s fun and trendy to say things like “all doggos are good bois!” and “dogs are better than humans!” but this shouldn’t translate to not taking people’s fears seriously or acting like they are monsters if they don’t like dogs. Or cats! Or anything really! The “I don’t trust people who dislike Thing I Love” is something people say casually but I think sometimes it does start to really permeate. Most animal mistreatment is committed by people who own pets, not random strangers who are scared of dogs, so that’s not really a reason to act like that either.

    4. Washi*

      I’m the same way! I had all kinds of little critters as pets as a kid and would often go out to catch worms and frogs, so I’m not afraid of rodents or creepy crawlies the way most people are.

      But I had limited exposure to dogs and on an instinctive level cannot tell the difference between an unfriendly or friendly bark. I don’t mind the jumping as much as I mind a dog galloping up to me while barking. I wonder if it is difficult to train a dog not to do that? I’ve had an issue more often in rural areas where the dogs are just running around off leash more often, and the dogs I see in the city seem less bark-y.

    5. Seeking Second Childhood*

      This makes me wonder if a dog training center could offer a “scareless exposure” event, with only a few cuddle-loving sedate dogs on hand to meet. Maybe just puppies and the ones trained & certified for hospital therapy visits. Teach nervous people how to run a trained dog through her tricks, watch some silly agility games, and if they’re comfortable enough, walk a dog who knows how to heel. Maybe even an “advanced” session with a friendly but bouncy dog so people can learn how to behave to get them to back off.
      I DID grow up with dogs, but I’ve been badly scared by crazy dogs off leash so I can sympathize. Would any of these ideas be something any of you would be interested in?

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        For me, not really. It’s not that I don’t think dogs can be lovely and when it’s a dog I know, it’s fine. But with strangers’ dogs, I have no way of knowing what they’re like, and stuff. I had a (not sure about breeds – maybe retriever?) bite onto my sleeve a few years ago and shake it all around. There are individual dogs I have liked, but I don’t think I’ll ever be happy with an unknown dog. I also am a morris dancer and when out in the kit recently (eg. bells on shins) a dog started barking and growling at me. This is not an uncommon reaction…

        The only thing that would truly help me would be for me to be able to know that if someone has let their dog off the lead, it’s because the dog is well trained enough that it’s fine – that it’ll come when called, and won’t jump up uninvited. However, in my experience this extremely -not- the case

        It’s not even about size. I have a friend with a very friendly and well trained Rottweiler, and another who, until recently, had a Great Dane – both of which I was perfectly happy to be around eg. when visiting their home. It’s about the unpredictable nature of a dog where I don’t know the owner and don’t know how well the dog is trained and what it’s been taught is ok and not-ok behaviour with humans.

        I think what you suggest would be fine if I had a truly extreme fear/phobia where I was scared just to be near -any- dog no matter what… to overcome that. But I mean, I still run in public places / parks where I know people will have dogs. I don’t freak out / panic when one approaches me, I just don’t like how unpredictable they are repeatedly proven to be (every time I start to think they might be ok after all, I witness another dog-thing somewhere that makes me go ‘nope, never mind’)

        1. Argh!*

          You might benefit from spending time with a behaviorist at a dog park. Ask them to point out body language cues in the dogs around you. There are specific signs that would signal danger, and others that fearful people misinterpret as danger signs. It might help you not be as triggered in the future.

          1. anonagain*

            It sounds to me like the dog owners are the ones who need dog behavior consultations, not Ruth. It doesn’t much matter if the dog that was jumping on her was friendly, she still has a right to not have a dog jumping on her. That is a failure on the part of the owner who has a responsibility to keep their dog under control in public places.

            I am a dog lover through and through and I can’t stand when people let their dogs off leash. I’ve seen dogs chase wildlife and each other. I’ve seen owners distraught because their dogs ran away. I’ve also nearly been knocked over by off-leash dogs, because I have a balance disorder and I am unsteady on my feet. On one memorable walk, the only reason I didn’t topple over when a dog carrying a branch ran into me was because an elderly friend was walking with me and she took the brunt of the hit.

            I saw a discussion once about dog phobias among a group of service dog handlers. Someone said something very insightful: she said that when she meets someone who is afraid of dogs, she never tries to convince them to like or trust her dog. Instead she tries to communicate that she understands that they are afraid and that they can trust her. A big part of that is showing that she has full control of her dog and that she isn’t going to force the person to interact with the dog.

            I think that’s the piece that’s so often missing in these interactions. Dog owners often want to make other people like their dog. They tell you that she’s friendly, when they’d really be better off saying, “Oh, you’re afraid/allergic/don’t like dogs? No problem. I have her on a leash and I will keep her right at my side so you don’t have to go near her.”

            1. fposte*

              Oh, this is a really good comment, anon. I really like the observations that dog owners want people to like their dogs, and that that’s what drives the interactions.

              I was scared of cats as a kid because of unfamiliarity and an early interaction with one of those cats who bites you when he’s tired of the petting he sought out. It’s true that what changed me is getting to know cats and understanding their behavior better, so they were no longer unpredictable to me. But if tons of people had dropped their cats on me saying that they were friendly I doubt that that would have helped things.

            2. Reba*

              So many dog owners seem have serious blind spots about their pets’ behavior/level of training, and sometimes like an emotional or ego thing about people liking the dog, too?

              And even if your dog is perfectly trained and never bites or jumps or whatever, even if she is the friendliest creature on earth — I don’t know that! I don’t know you or your dog from Adam! Finally, the friendliness of your dog in no way obligates me to enjoy being near it!

              (I love dogs and can’t wait until I can have one.)

              It really bugs me when people in my own family let their dogs off leash where they shouldn’t, because other people using these parks should be able to go about without being molested by 70 pound mutts who are very happy to see them, or worrying about the dogs or changing their route to avoid possible interaction.

        2. Book Lover*

          I think this is perfectly normal – if a person has a dog off leash in the US outside of areas where off leash is allowed, why would you trust them to have appropriately trained their dogs? Being concerned in that situation is normal. People shouldn’t have their dogs off leash in random locations and people who don’t love dogs shouldn’t have to hire a dog behaviorist in order to figure out how much danger they are in. I have small kids – i don’t take chances.

          1. tangerineRose*

            I love dogs and grew up with them, but I’m still cautious around dogs I don’t know. I think that’s just common sense. Some dog owners are careless about their dogs. I think learning more about dog body language and the body language a human should and shouldn’t use around dogs can be helpful, since we can’t fix careless owners.

          2. Sally Forth*

            A friend of mine was knocked over by a dog when she was out running. She went into a deep ditch and was quite badly injured. She did not have her dogs with her. Although she wasn’t terrified of dogs after that, she noticed that her dogs would get really nervous and protective when they were around other dogs with her, and NOT when they were with her husband. A trainer said her dogs were perceptive enough to sense her fear and helped her through it.

        3. Lady Jay*

          I’d add that while these ideas are good for full-blown phobias, as Ruth mentions, it’s important not to put all the burden of change on the person who doesn’t like dogs. It’s courteous and responsible for dog owners to step up to the plate and take the proper precautions, such as leashing and training.

          Like Ruth, my discomfort around dogs isn’t so much a phobia of the creatures as the unpredictability of the situation; and any discomfort is greatly lessened if the dog is (say) leashed. From my understanding, dogs prefer knowing what’s happening in a situation too, and may feel more comfort with a leash, especially if there are other dogs in the area.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You have a good handle on the chain of events that built your fear of dogs. This is how we get many of our fears, someone plants a seed, the idea gets reinforced and sometimes something scary happens that reinforces everything.

      I have heard a few people say, “Oh, I need to be quiet, I don’t want to plant seeds in that person’s head.” One time was my aunt taking her daughter for swim lessons. She wanted her daughter to grow up without being loaded up with fears. My cousin did fine in the water. My aunt who was viewing from the sidelines, not so much.

      For me it was big trucks in heavy traffic. My mother had been rear ended by a cement mixer before I was born. Every time we were in traffic and there was a big truck she would gasp. Every. single. time. Fast forward, I was 20 and I was afraid of big trucks in heavy traffic. It took me on into my 40s to quit tensing up.

      But you are so right, we teach each other. I got bit by my own dog when I was 5. I already knew the dog and loved her. My parents yelled at the dog then yelled at me. She was in time out for three days. (She had plenty of food and water and she was let outside,but she was not allowed to hang out with us.) I ended up feeling sorry for the dog. I got through that because I had so many people around me role modeling positive relationships with dogs.
      From there I developed strong opinions about handling dogs basically because of my parents’ missteps. We go out into public and my dogs are not allowed to even touch other people or their belongings without my permission. That’s a little strict but we don’t help others to feel safe if we don’t control our animals. And animals won’t have positive interactions with people when the animal has bad behavior. I do enjoy seeing my dogs have a happy exchange with other people.

      Now if there is a frog or a snake around, I am so done. I caught my dog playing with a frog. I somehow found it in me to shoo the frog away, before he tried to pick it up. I don’t like anything that flicks around. Bats are the worst for me. I saw a snake “run” once. I did not know they could move like that, it moved like a serpent in the sea humping up in the middle. This was not helpful for me. (It’s okay if you laugh at the running snake. We thought it was carrying eggs. Interesting but not really.)

    7. MissDisplaced*

      I’m afraid of mice! It’s because my brother used to terrorize me by killing them and hanging them over my bed.
      Some snakes can be poisonous here, so as kids you’re generally told to stay away from them, which instills fear of them generally. I imagine it’s similar for spiders.
      That’s funny about the donkeys. We don’t think of them as being aggressive, but they must’ve felt threatened by the dog to do that. I’ve never really seen that before except with feral horses.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        We do have some venomous snakes here – adders. But they’re rare and especially not found much in my area of the country. They’re rare enough that we generally do not have to teach children to be wary of snakes. Though having said that – a nest of them was once found on my school field when I was a kid!

        With the donkeys, I’ve also never seen anything quite like that, and I walk past fields of horses / donkeys / cows / etc many days of the week. I’ve not seen such a sudden and dramatic reaction from a whole group before.

      2. kc89*

        wow that was nasty of your brother!

        reminds me of my mom’s fear of snakes, she thinks it started when she was a child jumping on the trampoline and some neighborhood boys threw some live wild snakes on the trampoline with her

        1. char*

          Yikes! I love snakes, but I would still not want to suddenly find one on a trampoline with me!

      3. CatMintCat*

        I live in the Australian bush – in my part of the country there is no such thing as a non-venomous snake. We deliberately teach a healthy respect for/fear of snakes, and have cleared the playground more than once because of a snake (our school is surrounded by farmland, there are going to be snakes).

    8. Epsilon Delta*

      Loose dogs make me very nervous too, and I generally like or am neutral towards dogs. Especially if the owner is not in sight. I think it is fine to be cautious in that situation and tell the dog to sit if it approaches you. You need to keep your voice deep and firm, especially if you are a small woman like I am. Crossing to the other side of the road is sometimes an option as well.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Because of where I live, I’m often encountering dogs in areas of open field or wooded areas, or sometimes on path where I can’t easily leave (eg. I might be between a hedge and the fence of a field of eg/ donkeys), or often it’s when I’m running in a park or something. Actually, what freaks me out the most is hearing barking and then sort of vegetation-crashing noises (as though a not-small dog is running about close by) but not knowing where the owner is…

        The telling them to sit things is a good idea, I might try it. I kind of hadn’t thought about the fact that most dogs will know the words of commands like sit/stay (or also ‘no’) and might follow it (at least to some extent) if said by me.

        1. just a random teacher*

          Yeah, “sit” is a great “stop doing the thing you’re doing right now” command that most dogs know (since most things you want a dog to stop doing are hard for them to do while sitting). Iv’e had mixed results trying a sit command on random off-leash dogs that aren’t mine, but if a command from a stranger is likely to work, that’s the one they’re most likely to know.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        I am neutral about dogs, too, but a loose dog is a BIG problem. A near-attack from a neighbor’s dog taught me not to look at a loose dog for more than a couple seconds. Watch it from the corner of your eye and get some distance between you and it. Some friends carry mace because of loose dogs in our city. They’ve had to use it.

        1. tangerineRose*

          If I’m fairly close to a dog I don’t know well, I don’t turn my back on the dog, and I don’t run. But I also try to seem calm and not worried if I can. I do love dogs, and most dogs are sweet, but…

    9. LilySparrow*

      Here’s the thing – dogs jumping on people is social behavior (not an attack) but it is NOT friendly. It is the dog equivalent of a kid whacking you with a pool noodle. They are not trying to hurt you, they are demanding your attention in a rude and obnoxious way. But it isn’t affectionate or appropriate and you don’t have to put up with it.

      If an owner is not restraining a jumping dog, feel free to put your knee up to block them and tell the dog “NO” in a firm voice. It is startling to them but not harmful. It may not stop immediately, but it they are more likely to stop. And possibly it will shame the person into action.

      You are completely allowed to correct someone else’s dog from bad behavior toward you if they will not. Just like if their kid was whacking you – if the adult won’t do anything, speak to the culprit directly.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        See, here’s what annoys me – my younger dog is still jumpy, and I’m trying to train her out of it, but every damn person who comes in my house, when she jumps up and I tell her “No, down,” goes all “No, no, she’s fine!” and encourages her to keep jumping up. NO, SHE IS NOT FINE, THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR. >:-(

        1. Lilysparrow*

          Yep. Happens with kids, too.

          “Tell Auntie thank you.”
          “Aw, she doesn’t need to thank me, look at that smile.”

          *Gritted teeth* “Yes. She. Does.”

    10. Anonforthis*

      I have similar experiences with dogs. My parents are also from South Asia, though I grew up in the U.S. What didn’t help also was that my neighbors did not train their dogs well, and they would growl aggressively at me and sometimes chase me down the street. Unfortunately, people in the U.S. are very judgmental towards people who don’t *love* dogs, not considering cultural differences or differences in upbringing. Since moving up north, dogs here are much better taken care of and my fear has subsided a bit, but I will never be easy around huge dogs.

      As far as irrational fears go, I’m totally freaked out by lizards and frogs/toads. If I ever saw a lizard in my room growing up, I would freak out and leave the room until my parents chased them outside! I read somewhere that people inherit fears and traumas from their ancestors, and I wonder if one of my ancestors got attacked by an alligator or something, and now I’m scared of the entire family/species.

      1. Doggone*

        I was attacked by a neighbor’s overprotective dog when I was 12. Fortunately I’d had mostly positive interactions before and made a real effort to not be traumatized by it. But I always remain suitably wary. Once a dog rushed my hiking partner and I where the trail passed close to the dog’s property. My startle-response was to immediately impersonate a bigger and meaner dog– louder, deeper, “I’m not kidding” barking. I must have gotten it right because the dog turned tail and ran! Lost my voice, but worth it.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      Bill Bryson says that one of the differences between Americans and Brits is how they respond to the factoid “a number of walkers are killed each year by cows.” Americans wonder how you wind up in a field with cows ever, while Brits respond with some anecdote about a keen country walk that ended with feisty livestock with tramplin’ in their eyes.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        Haha, there are some routes around where I live where you would have to go VASTLY out of your way to avoid walking through fields of cows. I mean like literally having to have set off significantly earlier to get round the cow fields, not like ‘it’ll save me 5 minutes to cut through here’.

      2. Lilysparrow*

        I noticed this on a visit to Get many – our hosts just pulled over on a country lane and we got out for a walk. Not a park. Just across the fields and into some woods.

        We Americans were kinda shocked. Like, “is this okay? Do you know the farmer? Do we have permission?”

        They were like, “Who needs permission to go walking?”

        “Um, people who don’t want to get run off with a shotgun?”

        Total cultural divide.

        1. Wulfgar*

          I’m in America, and I grew up on a farm. We had random people hunt on our property. One person shot one of our Holsteins because he thought it was a deer. Holsteins are black and white.

          Some other guy was mudding and got stuck. He walked through our fields and asked my dad to pull him out. Dad said he would for whatever amount he thought was fair, and the guy completely freaked out. This moron was trespassing; he didn’t have any moral high ground.

        2. londonedit*

          In the UK you can only walk on public footpaths in the countryside unless you have the landowner’s permission, but there are huge networks of footpaths all through the countryside and most of them go through/around the edges of farm fields. So there will often be livestock! You just need to know to keep to the path/edges, keep dogs on leads, and walk calmly and steadily past any animals. And to close gates behind you and not drop litter!

        3. nonegiven*

          >“Um, people who don’t want to get run off with a shotgun?”

          People who don’t want to get charged by a bull.

    12. Lissa*

      Yeah, people are way more understanding of some phobias/fears/discomfort than others. It’s like “it’s more scared of you than you are of it!” when it comes to an insect/small animal – ok great but that doesn’t help! People fear all kinds of things that aren’t logically going to kill/hurt them – needles are one of the most common phobias ever for instance, but for some reason people take it personally when it’s about something they like personally.
      I have a mild dog fear but I think it’s reasonable honestly – dog attacks/bites are not all that rare and can be very serious. A loud barking dog sets off my fight or flight reflex – I’m a big walker and if I walk by a yard with a dog that suddenly starts barking its head off I can feel my heart rate rise. Smaller dogs or ones I know are OK and I don’t feel fear when I see a dog, but the barking makes me really uneasy.

    13. Indie*

      Bill Bryson is apparently attacked by dogs on a regular basis and he’s written a few times that the dog owner, instead of apologising, will get defensive or offended and say things like “you must have said something to him!” I think Bills comment was something like “That just knocks me out. What would I say to a dog?!”

      I love dogs but being afraid of unknown dogs, with inconsiderate owners is awfully similar to common sense.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        A friend of mine was bitten by a small dog while running in woodland recently and the owner denied the dog had down it… Despite the fresh bite mark and blood.

    14. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Growing up, I was terrified of cows and things that fluttered (birds, butterflies, etc). It was only later, as an adult, that I realized the cow thing was due to being chased by a calf who had escaped the barn at my uncle’s farm, while being dehorned (apparently that is a thing?). He had blood running down his face and was rubbing his head on the tire of the tractor on which I had taken refuge, but to my 5 year-old mind, I thought he was trying to climb up to eat me. The fluttering came to light while I was in m 30’s and happened to watch that Alfred Hitchcock movie, The Birds. Apparently I had seen it at a much too young age. Today I am happy to say that the only creatures I fear–and I don’t know if it is fear or intense hatred–are cockroaches. I would chase them around my apartment with a flame thrower, if I thought I could do it without burning down the place.

  8. Lemonwhirl*

    Y’all did such a great job helping me out with vegan recipes, hope you can provide similar advice on Gluten-Free cooking.

    We have a twice yearly tradition of inviting some of my husband’s college pals down for a long weekend, which is going to happen in a few weeks. I’ve taken to baking Nailed It-inspired cakes, because I love to bake but rarely get a chance and am very much at the Nailed It level. :) One of the pals has a new girlfriend, and she has gluten-intolerance.

    So a couple of questions
    1 – what’s the best flour substitute to use? Can I straight-up sub the flour for a different non-flour flour or do adjustments have to be made? I have a basic white cake recipe that I use for my nailed it baking but am open to recipes for GF cakes.
    2 – how worried do I need to be about cross-contamination and what’s the best way to avoid it?
    3 – Any recipes that can please/be adapted to please vegans, carnivores, and GF folks? I usually have a taco/burrito bar the first night then have a stir fry/curry the next night, both of which are easy to adapt, but I’m stuck for the third night.

    Thank you!

    1. Weegie*

      Gluten-free flour is mostly not that great, so a straight substitute, especially in cakes, usually won’t work. GF cakes generally use GF oats (they have to be GF oats specifically: regular oats are often contaminated with wheat or barley), ground almonds or rice flour and are often delicious! (caveat: some intolerant folks also can’t handle oats – best to check.)

      I’d advise googling GF recipes rather than trying to adapt existing favourites: the BBC Goodfood site has some great ideas – just Google ‘BBC goodfood gluten-free’ and see what comes up.

      Cross-contamination can be an issue – less so if the person is intolerant rather than coeliac, but it’s worth using a separate chopping board, utensils, etc during food prep.

      The thing people never think about, though, is to watch out for stuff that you don’t think has gluten in it but does! E.g. soy sauce, certain types of vinegar, pretty much anything that comes in a bottle, jar, or packet! Read all labels carefully every time.

      One final thing: check directly with your guest what she’d like you to do & if she’d prefer to bring some of her own food and/or help you with the cooking. I’ve lost count of the times people go overboard to try to accommodate me (without checking first) but get something wrong & then I can’t eat the food anyway. Everyone ends up feeling bad and I feel like a burden. Ask!

      Good luck!

      1. just a random teacher*

        Yeah, people with complicated food intolerances may really not want to eat homemade things made by someone they don’t know well, because it’s really easy to overlook some detail and end up getting sick. After you get sick a few times despite well-meaning people trying to accommodate you, you tend to just not eat in those situations anymore. It’s not about you, and please don’t have your feelings hurt if it happens. I HATE it when someone I don’t know well tries to make something special for me, since I’d really rather not be put on the spot about eating something.

        I would generally talk to such people before they came over, and offer to cook for them, suggest the location of a nearby natural foods store that I would also be able to instead buy premade things from (if they were going to be a houseguest I’d generally plan a grocery-shopping trip with them for the first day so I could be sure they’d have things to eat at my house), and let them know they could bring their own foods (as long as those foods didn’t contain my own not-in-the-house level allergen). Whichever they were comfortable with is what I’d do. Usually, after they saw me cook a few times (and knowing that I was a label-reader myself due to my own allergies) they’d be willing to try homemade things I’d cooked because they knew by then that I understood what they, specifically, could and couldn’t have and that I understood about cross-contamination issues and reading ingredient labels rather than just guessing, but it’s not something I’d push.

        (I am severely allergic to a vegetable that is also dried and sold as a powdered spice. I make a LOT of savory things from scratch as a result. I wouldn’t try to make food for celiacs in my kitchen just because I bake with wheat flour daily and it’s not worth the risk of even tiny amounts of cross-contamination from flour dust, but other issues I can generally accommodate once I’m sure I understand the parameters.)

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I would actually be so relieved if she just wants me to buy pre-packaged foods or for her to bring her own foods. I have an anxiety issue that tends to fixate on accidentally hurting other people. Grocery shopping together is probably not possible, given that it’s a short visit and we live in a very rural place, so going to where the best health food store is would eat up most of the day. But it’s a great idea if someone with a serious issue is ever going to stay for a while!

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Thank you so much. I just texted our friend to ask about his girlfriend’s condition and what she would prefer. I also appreciate the education on flour – I was using GF-flour to mean stuff like almond flour. I didn’t realise there was actual regular flour that was GF.

    2. Lucy*

      The Hummingbird Bakery classic chocolate brownie is very easily made gluten free if you remove the 130g plain flour and sub in 175g cornflour. Check labels of other ingredients but otherwise this is my go-to gf recipe as it’s completely delicious and the texture isn’t odd to gluten eaters. If you need it more desserty, serve with cherry pie filling and whipped cream for a Black Forest vibe.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Could also go for a straight-up flourless chocolate cake – they’re popular with GF folks and non alike :)

        1. Indie*

          I really like both flourless cake and pavlovas because a) it’s obviously gluten free and b) it’s less of a special accommodation and avoids everyone having to eat GF flour which is an acquired taste at best.

      2. Someone Else*

        Although if the recipe is for someone with severe celiac, corn flour (even certified GF corn flour that’s sure to not be cross contaminated) may not be acceptable. There are some studies that suggest some folks with very severe celiac have also had reactions to corn in general. So some people who have very severe reactions avoid corn across the board.

        1. Lucy*

          You definitely need to check the person’s full dietary requirements, yes! OP says “gluten intolerant” rather than allergic or celiac so I think it likely this recipe will be safe this time – it’s a favourite of a gluten-intolerant-with-many-other-intolerances-and-allergies-on-top family member of mine.

          1. Lemonwhirl*

            Don’t give me too much credence :) – I actually went with gluten intolerance because I wasn’t sure how to say celiac. I think it might be a full celiac issue, but again, I’m checking with our friend. I understand the distinction now (and would’ve treated intolerance and allergy as the same thing. I spent a large part of my life afraid of a certain food, and falling victim to people pranking me by putting this food into their cooking and then telling me after I’d eaten it. Which always felt very mean. So I always take people’s dietary requirements super-seriously and treat everything as “a cannot” rather than a preference.)

        2. one boring hapa*

          Severe and sensitive Celiac here, it’s not typically corn that’s an issue unless the person has other allergies (not uncommon). Our thing to avoid is possibly oats since it’s often contaminated with wheat.

    3. Marzipan*

      The thing to bear in mind about gluten is, it acts in an elastic-y sort of way. So, when you make a dough or batter or whatever, gluten is a big part of what helps it stay risen when it rises, and have the texture you’re probably expecting it to have. Gluten-free flours, therefore, generally won’t behave in the way you’re expecting flour to behave, if you just switch them for regular flour.

      Things like ground almonds can be great for making gluten-free cakes, although these will often involve eggs. I think the main advice I’d give is, go for (or come up with) a recipe where the textural aspect won’t be a big issue. Squadgy things like brownies, say, could work really well.

      1. Yum*

        Yes, I’ve made GF brownies with almond flour and I swear you can’t tell the difference. A thing to remember about cross contamination: do you ever try to limit how many measuring cups you dirty by first measuring the regular flour (for your own baking, not GF baking) and then take the same cup and plunge it into your sugar? Well, then you just got flour into your container of sugar. I’ve had to really try not to ever do this, since I don’t know when I’ll be baking for my GF boyfriend. And also things like, don’t make myself a piece of regular toast and then go cut up the GF treats. You have to wash your hands first because you touched regular bread. I haven’t really made GF cake since that seems pretty tricky, but cookies, blondies and brownies made with either GF white flour or almond flour or a combo of the two work really well. I’ve also been told that strainers are impossible to completely clean, so don’t drain GF pasta in your regular colander. You’ll need a separate colander.

        1. Kuododi*

          I have a lovely nephew who is gluten intolerant and my equally brilliant niece is allergic to peanuts. I have gotten pretty adept at baking treats GF & peanut free for the kids regular visits. I did discover that the almond flour is an excellent suggestion for treats, it is unfortunately quite expensive. So needless to say, if one is baking on a tight budget, better to go with a different flour. Best wishes!

        2. Lemonwhirl*

          Thanks for the tips for avoiding cross-contamination, especially on the colander. I’m fairly careful, but my kid isn’t always as careful. (And I’m trying to inculcate him with better habits because one of his close friends is allergic to wheat. But so far, for play dates, I’ve only been comfortable getting packaged snacks for this kid.)

    4. Anona*

      Budget bytes has a chicken chimichurri and rice that’s delicious, and was loved by a GF friend. You could do the chicken on the side for vegan folk.

      Ooh, budget bytes also has a recipe for Mediterranean hummus bowls. It would lend itself well to dietary restrictions, since like tacos you could do a bar with a bunch of options- ground meat, homemade hummus (so easy and tasty, if you have a blender or food processor), feta, olives, red onion, rice, lettuce, etc.

    5. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      Bob’s Red Mill makes a really nice 1 for 1 replacement GF flour. If you’re only “visiting” GF baking, I wouldn’t recommend navigating the balancing act of buying lots of weird flours and blending them yourself.
      You might be better off investigating a few good local stores who have GF products and taking your GF friend in the first day or so of the visit… then they can find the things that will work and maybe a few to try.

      Also, if it’s an allergy/ celiac… cross contamination is real.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        If it’s an allergy or celiac, I wouldn’t serve a person anything made in my kitchen. The risk of cross contamination is so great; I can’t guarantee that nothing will go wrong. I have a few friends who are very allergic to dogs and I will not drive them anywhere nor invite them to my house, and their allergies only give them watery eyes, sniffles, and hives! There’s just no way to get everything clean enough. I have one friend with celiac disease who I would love to invite over and cook for, but I won’t take the risk.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Yes, I’ve sent a text to find out how severe the issue is. If it’s really bad, I might err on the pre-packaged food side. I am a chronic worrier and I really don’t want to make anyone sick.

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Thanks for the tip – I’ve seen red mill flour before, so good to know that it’s decent.

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      When I went GF for a year (first step after asking dr about symptoms that might have been celiac), I found that baking was awful. I was much happier with flour-free desserts like ice cream, chocolate fudge, and sweet fruit salads.

    7. Madge*

      Use a King Arthur Flour box mix for the cake. They’re very good and they work. Plus you won’t have a bunch of flours to use up.

      How about a chili for the third night? Start with a vegan recipe and have meat as a condiment. You could bake a gluten free cornbread mix and use a flax egg and the nut milk of your choice to make it vegan. I like Bob’s Red Mill’s gluten free mix.

      Also, make your own taco seasoning mix. Most commercial ones contain wheat and other fillers.

      As for cross contamination, that really depends on the person. You’re best off talking to the girlfriend.

      1. Madge*

        Oh wait, the cake has to be vegan too? Do a test run of the cake mix. KAF mixes work best when you don’t mess with the recipe or the process so I don’t know how it will work with vegan ingredients. Otherwise I’d start with a vegan cake recipe and substitute KAF’s gluten free flour. And do a test run of that as well before your guests arrive. Gluten free baking just isn’t as fool proof as wheat baking.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Happily, the cake does not need to be vegan! I am plant-based for health reasons, not ethical reasons. I have to be careful with some stuff (like milk) because I’ve been off it long enough that it will make me sick if I eat it, but if an egg is cooked into a cake, it’s not a huge deal. The dinners need to be vegan or vegan-accommodating.

      2. Indie*

        Sweet potato wedges are great with chilli. I just coat the wedges in olive oil, oregano, paprika and cumin seeds before baking for 40 mins but any spice mix will do.

        A word on pre mixed spices though; it will contain flour! Why I dont know. So do stock cubes. When OP has her ingredients gathered on her countertop she should check labels, even on her standby things for baking because it’s sneaky. Single spice jars and jelly stock cubes are usually ok. Sub soy sauce for tamari sauce though.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I’ve seen gluten-free stock cubes, so I’ve mentally filed those away as one of those tricky things. Thanks for the tip on spice mixes!

      3. Lemonwhirl*

        Thanks for the tip on the cake mix – that brand does not seem to be stocked where I am, but the next time I’m in the nearest city, I’ll look for it in the co-op.
        Chili could definitely work – thanks for the idea. (And I’ve texted our friend a bunch of questions and told him he can give my number to his girlfriend.)

    8. HeatherB*

      Check out the vegan gluten free cake recipes on Minimalist Baker. https://minimalistbaker.com/1-bowl-vegan-gluten-free-vanilla-cake/
      (Also ton’s of other great vegan recipes on that site). I’ve made the chocolate and vanilla versions as both cakes and cupcakes for numerous birthday parties. I never tell people that they’re gf and vegan and one lady came up and said, “that’s the best cake I’ve ever had”. For what it’s worth I used to be a pastry chef in a high end resort so I’ve made a lot of cake recipes and these are consistently good and easy to make.

    9. Teatime is Goodtime*

      My favorite baking recipe for my gluten free friends is NY cheesecake. I love cheesecake anyway and the gluteny-bits are minor enough that substitutes are easy. For the base, I use store-bought gluten-free cookies and make it exactly the same way as I would a normal crust (sometimes I do go a little bit lighter on the butter, but YMMV depending on your cookies). For the actual cheesecake, I sub out any flour for thickening with the same amount of either corn starch or potato flour. Then the usual slow baking and chilling and you’re done!

      Of course, cheesecake doesn’t work for vegans. For that situation, I usually just make two desserts and eat both. :P

      My favorite vegan baking recipe is scones, I think, just because they’re so easy and quick and simple. The recipe I use is basically just flour, baking powder, a little salt, a little sugar and coconut milk. Serve with your favorite jam and you’re set! Might be better for an afternoon tea sort of situation, or even late breakfast, but I think scones are never a bad plan. :)

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Ha! Even before I took up a plant-based diet, I never liked cheesecake. But a dessert I can’t eat is probably better for me anyway. :) Thanks for the tip on GF cookie base – we have a brand of great GF cookies that everyone loves.

    10. Brandy*

      We had my daughter on a GF diet for a while and i initially tried ton”replace” gluten. GF flour and GF bread items weren’t great (rice pasta, yuck).

      Eventually we just started learning more about what just doesn’t have gluten. We swapped quinoa or rice for pasta. Used aborro to make risotto in lieu of Mac and cheese. Crustless quiche. Rice chex, lucky charms, Cheerios are all GF. Popcorn is GF.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Seconding that you will often get better results with things that just are gluten free (rice, cheesecake) rather than things that normally have gluten (pasta, cake) and have been rendered gluten free.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Not unlike where I’ve found it is best to just eat stuff that’s designed to be meat-free than to mess around with meat substitute products, which are expensive, hard-to-find, and often don’t taste very good anyway.

    11. I Work on a Hellmouth*

      Hellllooooo, I have some links for yoooou! I love baking and have a friend with celiac disease, so I am always on the lookout for treats that she can also eat.


      I think she has some other gluten free cake recipes, but those are the ones I have tried. They are tasty!

      I also have a few pretty tasty gluten free cookie recs if you want them. Just let me know! :)

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Thanks so much for the links! It’s always nice to know that someone has had success with a recipe! (Also, I remember the Hellmouth letter so totally feel like a celeb has answered my question. :))

    12. Feral Academic*

      If you decide to get really into gf baking, I strongly recommend Alice Medrich’s _Flavor Flours_. I really dislike the texture of gf baked goods, but one roommate is celiac and the other has gone gf for her own reasons, and the recipes in there are the only edible gf baked goods I’ve had. Plus she tries to minimize xanthan gum, which is good for me (xanthan gum upsets my stomach a small amount, plus I dislike the texture).

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Thank you for the recommendation. It’s possible that I might do more GF baking, so it’s good to have a trusted source of recipes.

    13. Jaz*

      Arepas might be a good adaptable meal idea, although I know that pretty close to a repeat of tacos. We also do a lot of baked potato bars at our house (we often have one GF, one low-sodium, and two vegetarian guests).

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Thanks for both ideas – I had to google arepas – they look delicious. (Also, when you said “baked potato bar” – my brain was thinking like potatoes baked into bars, like blondies or something. It took me a few minutes to realise you meant it like a salad bar. :D)

    14. DuPont Circle Travel*

      I have definitely done cakes and other baking by just swapping the flour to a GF all purpose (Trader Joe’s and Bob’s Red Mill are my go-tos) but it can be a lot drier than you’re used to if it’s not a specified GF recipe. It depends on the recipe for sure, some have been really dry, some you couldn’t tell it was GF. I have also bought pre-made graham cracker crusts that were GF, allergen-free, and I think vegan(?) at the grocery store, so that’s a good option – I found it in the GF section in the baking aisle.

      I haven’t done much vegan baking, so I can’t help there, but there’s a chocolate cake on the blog Hummingbird High that I sub in GF flour and it’s still the most delicious, moist chocolate cake I’ve made/had. Search for naked hibiscus chocolate cake and it should come up.

      As for cross contamination, definitely wash things thoroughly and plan baking/cooking order carefully. Other people on this thread already have much more helpful contributions on this topic! Good luck and have fun!

    15. cat socks*

      I reccomend the blog Iowa Girl Eats for a variety of gluten free recipes. I don’t need to eat gluten free, but I’ve made a lot of recipes from the site.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      If she is not allergic to peanuts, these are excellent cookies. I make them all the time for my allergy-free family.

      PB cookies:
      a bit under a cup of brown sugar
      1 egg
      dash vanilla
      a bit under a cup of peanut butter
      salted peanuts and/or chocolate chips to taste

      Whisk sugar and egg until smooth, add vanilla, add PB, mix until smooth. Add peanuts or chocolate if you are using. Scoop–this makes one large sheet–sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt if you like, and stick in the freezer to firm up while you preheat the oven to 350°. Bake for about 15 minutes.

      I’ll also recommend homemade pudding as a gluten free treat people rarely make themselves.

      For your point 3, I’d recommend a butterflied leg of lamb. (Can marinate or just salt and pepper.) Broil or grill the lamb–the weird shape should produce a variety of donenesses. Serve with some sort of vegan Mediterranean dish–I’m a fan of white beans with roast garlic. People can balance the lamb/bean mix to their liking. (I eat meat, but not a lot of it.)

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      One of the front page recipes on Smitten Kitchen is for molten chocolate cake, and she made it gluten free.

    18. London Jo*

      Speaking as a coeliac, who loves cake, I’d only feel comfortable eating a homemade gluten free cake, if I knew that the cook had opened fresh packets of all the ingredients to avoid cross contamination from earlier baking and had checked if the baking powder was gluten free. And also had lined the cake tin before baking. And all of that is a real pain for the cook, I know.

      I actually appreciate it more when someone serves a naturally gluten free desert, like good store bought vanilla ice cream and a homemade fruit salad. My go to special gluten free desert is … make some caramel in a saucepan, adding just enough water to dissolve it. Peel oranges with a knife and slice thinly. Arrange in layers in a nice bowl, pour over the dissolved caramel, add any orange juice left over after slicing and chill for a couple of hours.

      It looks like a lot of work went into it, but it’s super easy and tastes awesome with vanilla ice cream.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Thank you for the lovely recipe – that sounds delicious. And also thanks for sharing your experience. I am terrified of making anyone sick, so I appreciate hearing all of this.

    19. Thursday Next*

      My group dinner rotation includes a pasta bar: brown rice (GF) pasta, marinara sauce, various veggies to toss with the pasta and sauce, or with garlic and oil, or just eat on the side, Parmesan and vegan Parmesan, and meatballs (which I make but don’t eat—I’m a GF vegan with a weakness for cheese).

    20. one boring hapa*

      If you’re baking not-GF in your kitchen, do not make anything for the Celiac gf. Flour can and does sit in the air for at least 24 hrs and can cause a reaction in Celiac people. There’s not really a good way to avoid the cross-contamination.

  9. Pasha (she/her)*

    Three and a half years ago I went on two dates with this guy. We had a great time and I did like him, so I was a little sad/annoyed that he never asked me out again. But I didn’t try to contact him and I got over it soon enough. I started dating other people. It was all good.

    Last November I got a text from him saying he just suddenly thought of me and expressed regret in not pursuing me. He said he liked me and he didn’t know why he let me go. When we met, he was living in my country for work. He still works for the same company now, but in Europe. We exchanged pleasantries some more and that was that.

    Until last week, when he texted saying he’d just learned that he’ll be coming to my country for a week in a few months, for work. He asked if I’d like to go on a date with him. He asked if I was single. I am. He is too. He repeated that he did like me 3.5 years ago, that he thought I was engaging and funny and cute, and he would love to share a meal with me. But he did go on to reiterate, three different times in three different ways, that he’s not looking for a girl / anything serious / any complications right now. I figured, eh, I did enjoy his company, he’s only here for a week, he’s single (so he says) …so I said sure, let me know when you know the exact dates you’ll be here and we’ll go out.

    A week later and we’re still texting. Granted, nothing personal. To date, neither one of us has asked how the other is doing, he has no idea what I do for a living and doesn’t seem to care, we don’t know each other’s last names, and for all I know he’s not single. While he has asked if there was anything I wanted him to bring me from Europe, he seems to show little interest in me as a person. Apart from saying I’m engaging and funny and cute, he isn’t flirting with me, and I’m matching that also by being non-intrusive and platonic.

    Question: Is this a classic case of breadcrumbing? We didn’t even kiss 3.5 years ago and he knows that we will not be hooking up on his upcoming trip. (He knows I don’t have sex outside of marriage.) Is a fun date enough of a motivation for a guy to be breadcrumbing you?

    At this point I feel like I’m not likely to go out with him beyond the one time, because I am a LTR kinda person and he isn’t (right now), plus he doesn’t even live here, so why waste my time. I’m a firm believer in taking someone at face value so I’m not secretly hoping to change his mind. But if he were to ask me out again after that initial date – bearing in mind he’s only here for a week and theoretically I enjoyed the first date as much as he did – would it be worth going out with him again for the fun of it, knowing full well he ain’t it? I’ve never dated anyone for fun, and would love some thoughts.

    1. Namey McNameface*

      He sounds like a time waster.

      If he liked you enough, he would have gone out of his way to contact you 3 years ago.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        You’re not wrong. He definitely wasn’t that into me then and he’s probably just bored now. :)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          But I think that’s the right attitude on your part. If you figure he’s bored and it might be a pleasant evening, that’s a much better set of expectations than “He wouldn’t do this if he wasn’t feeling deep emotions for me–emotions so deep they scared him away 3 years ago.”

          1. valentine*

            I wouldn’t go. He’s trying too hard to reconnect and it’s a textbook hookup scheme. (Also, have you defined terms? Does he carry condoms, Plan B, and Ella?) Who does all this for a second first date years later?

            If you catch feelings, they’re almost entirely a fantasy. You’re not going to know him this soon, with such sparse and pointed communication.

            You can save yourself all this bother and both of you can just date new people.

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’m not sure what the point of this is for you.

      For him, it’s probably just to have something to do in your town other than eat alone and be in a hotel room.

      If you like playing random host for a tourist for the night, feel free to go out for dinner.

      Doesn’t sound like a date though and with how much headspace it’s already taking up for you, I’m not sure it’s in your best interest to see him.

    3. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      If you want to pass some time with someone newish, as a change from your routine, go for it. Try out a restaurant you’ve been hearing about, visit a few tourist spots.

      If you think all interactions with dating-potential humans need to be cogitated on to all possible relationship statuses, you may want to pass. You haven’t even shared last names or occupations, for goodness sakes.
      However, if you want to practice no-pressure dates with near strangers, then this is the guy for you. It could be a nice way to pass some time.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        No-pressure dates sound like fun. I’m thinking I could manage one… Just gotta make sure I remember I have standards/boundaries and not agree to a second date if he asks. I hate to admit it but I get attached very quickly. Knowing he liked me/remembering I liked him, possibly having a good time with him on this date…I could catch feelings. *gulp*

        1. Quandong*

          Given your propensity to get attached very quickly, I recommend that you stop contacting this guy pronto. Do not meet him at all.

          I think he’s setting you up as a convenient person to spend time with when he’s in your city, and it’s extremely likely he wants to hook up. Don’t assume he is uninterested due to the lack of interactions you’d expect from a person who wants to hook up.

          If you want to date for fun, find someone else to do that with.

    4. alex b*

      My dense self had to look up “breadcrumbing,” but yeah– that sounds exactly like what’s going on. I think he’s hoping you’ll change your mind and hook up with him on his trip. You take people at face-value, but he probably doesn’t and thinks he’s so great he can get you into bed despite your stated personal code (or possibly he’s forgotten that it’s your personal code).
      Do you think you’re going to go? Is he someone you can safely reject?

      1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        I guess that’s possible but it seems more likely he said to himself “I’m going to be in X town and bored… who can I have dinner with?”

        Assuming he’s trying to hookup is sort of attributing the worst possible motives. And Pasha said he wasn’t being flirty or personal – if he was trying to sext her, that’d be different.

        I still don’t think it’s a great idea though. He seems to be about finding someone to eat with and she’s thinking it’s some sort of complex dating situation. Seems like a mismatch in motives and investment to me.

        1. alex b*

          He asked if LW was single and indicated his singleness, sent 3-yr-late compliments including “cute,” and called the invite a “date.” Sorry that’s a booty call.

        2. Pasha (she/her)*

          I actually think he’s shooting for both a booty call AND someone to have dinner with. Getting me to go out with him accomplishes at least one of his goals. If he manages to charm me into bed as well, that’d be a bonus for him. :)

          Basically, if I do go out with him, I need to not forget that this is just a dinner and not to expect anything more…

          1. alex b*

            Yes– he’s advertising vividly that he’s not going to be your boyfriend. I’m not clear what you out of interactions with him, since you say you’re not into a fling or romp. Why would you see him?!

            1. Pasha (she/her)*

              …I guess I’m bored too and thinking that going out with a cute guy from 3.5 years ago would be fun. *sheepish smile*

              1. alex b*

                No shame in that! Go for it! Just be really clear on your boundaries and how to enforce them. :)

        3. neverjaunty*

          Thinking the guy is hoping he might get a hook-up is not “the worst possible motive” you could attribute to him, sheez.

          He’s probably figuring that it’ll be fun to hang with her and maybe he’ll get a hook-up and if he doesn’t, no harm in trying.

      2. Nicole76*

        That’s my gut instinct as well. Perhaps he’s just looking for something to do to pass the time, but I also think it’s likely he thinks he can charm you into bed.

        Personally, if someone wasn’t showing any interest in me as a person, I wouldn’t even want to have dinner with him.

      3. Pasha (she/her)*

        He hasn’t forgotten my personal code. :) I brought it up and he admitted that he was “not against the idea of hooking up, but not obsessed with it either.” So unless I allow myself to forget *my own* personal code, he knows all he’s getting is dinner.

        I haven’t decided if I’m gonna go, but if I do, it will be in a public place, and I will not go to his hotel room or anything. So hopefully there is no need to fear for my safety.

        1. Parenthetically*


          He’s 100% trying to get into your pants. He doesn’t know your last name, ask questions trying to get to know you, know or seem to care anything about you… why would you want to be FRIENDS with someone like that, much less go on a date with him? Especially when he’s pretty transparently trying to hook up?

          1. WakeUp!*

            Eh, I think you’re reading a lot into what OP wrote. It sounds like *neither* of them has asked the other any personal questions or tried to get to know each other. Which makes sense for what sounds like one date and a hypothetical one night stand. It’s not like she’s showing all this interest in him and he’s blowing her off.

            1. Parenthetically*

              Sure, I’m just saying, if she isn’t interested in a hookup, and he isn’t interested in a relationship, then what’s the point of going out at all, since he doesn’t seem to care about her as a friend and is pretty obviously trying to get laid?

              1. Karen from Finance*

                The possibility of a good time, I think. Which doesn’t necessarily have to involve sex or relationships.

                1. Karen from Finance*

                  I know, it actually is risky. I was trying to express that I guess why one would still have something to gain from the experience.

        2. neverjaunty*

          No, he doesn’t “know” all he’s getting is dinner. He heard what you said, and he’s choosing to ignore it because he wants to sleep with you. I mean:

          You: I don’t have sex outside of marriage
          Him: I’m ok with us having sex! but I won’t be obsessed with it!

          ….and when you’re only ‘hoping’ that a dude may not be dangerous that is a sign that you’re trying to talk yourself into ignoring a bad situation.

        3. Traffic_Spiral*

          Ok, so as a frequently-traveling expat, I’m gonna say that I do things similar to this pretty frequently. Generally not with dates that I’ve ignored, but if I’m going to a new city for a bit I will 100% look up anyone I’ve previously known who might be in the area and say “hey, wanna get drinks and catch up?” People do the same to me if they drop by my neck of the woods. These encounters have led to sex 0% of the time.

          I mean, I don’t know this guy and so don’t know what he’ll do, but I can say that it’s pretty common to look up old friends and acquaintances when you’re in a new town, and it’s generally not seen as a hookup thing.

    5. Traffic_Spiral*

      Basically he heard that he’d be going over your way and thought “ooh, maybe I can find someone to make plans with when I’m there – sitting alone in a hotel room sucks.” So he looked you up.

    6. Overeducated*

      I have never heard the term breadcrumbing, is that common?

      I have dated people just for fun while on longer work travel, and sure, it’s fine and fun if you’re both just in it for the company. The intercontinental thing makes it easier to draw boundaries and not confuse it with a potential serious relationship. But my experience didn’t involve extensive texting, I don’t think you need to engage in continuous conversations with someone you’ll see once if they feel pointless.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        Technology has made breadcrumbing easier and more common than ever. Like ghosting, it’s the millenial way of communicating. It’s dreadful. :/

        1. Overeducated*

          Ugh. I am an older millennial married on the younger side, and sometimes I feel grateful texting was still expensive enough you didn’t send random notes at the time….

    7. StellaBella*

      Hmmm. Take this as the advice of a single woman, who’s been there and dated maybe 15 or so men before the last one broke my heart 2 years ago. I’ve dated some wonderful men and a couple of not so wonderful men so you may think this is over the top.

      1. Get his real last name. Ask to see his drover license picture or something too in person. With that info that it is really him, and phone number, do some googling. Pretty easy to find out if he’s married etc.
      2. Find out what he does for work and cross reference his story about working in your town, the conference.
      3. Don’t go alone to his hotel.
      4. Tell at least one friend and about the date, place, him, etc.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        Thank you for the tips! Not over the top at all. It makes sense!

        I’m definitely going to try and see if I can find out his full name on a proper ID and also where he works. I know his occupation, I just don’t know where. Going to his hotel room is completely going against my personal boundaries so that’s not going to happen. Will stay in a public place. And, I don’t even drink alcohol (he knows) so the chances of him trying something funny via alcohol are slim. And defo going to give my best friend as much info as possible.

        I had my heart broken two years ago and am finally feeling okay to date again. I hope you’re okay too or at least on the way to it! :)

        1. Kuododi*

          Building on the issue of safety precautions:. Never leave your drink unsupervised…(alcoholic or non alcoholic). It leaves open the opportunity to drop something….”inappropriate” (so to speak) in your beverage. Be safe, but have fun. Know what you want going in, be upfront about expectations and stick to your guns. Best regards.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Everyone seems to be assuming it’s a date. It doesn’t sound like a date to me….

      If I were going to a town for a week, I’d look up someone I knew to have dinner and pass the time. Whether I was single or not…. it’s just dinner.

      Doesn’t sound like he is flirting.

      I don’t think he has complex motives – just a desire to not eat a burrito alone.

      I still don’t think Pasha should go since he’s just looking to pass the time and she seems way more invested…

      I hadn’t heard of “breadcrumbing” but I don’t think it’s that. Just a guy looking to have dinner with a nice companion. He seems like he’s being as explicit as possible about it not being a date as he can without being bluntly rude.

      1. Parenthetically*

        He said the word date, said he found her cute and charming, and said he wasn’t opposed to the idea of a booty call though?

    9. London Calling*

      *He asked if I’d like to go on a date with him. He asked if I was single. I am. He is too. He repeated that he did like me 3.5 years ago, that he thought I was engaging and funny and cute, and he would love to share a meal with me. But he did go on to reiterate, three different times in three different ways, that he’s not looking for a girl / anything serious / any complications right now.*

      It’s a booty call. He’ just suddenly thought of you’ after a couple of years and just happens to have your number to hand? riiigghhhht, sure he did.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Okay so you know there’s no LTR here. Is that okay?
      Do you want to go and just have fun? I have a male friend who is interested in this type of dating, go out have a good time, share it with someone and then go home to your respective houses. My friend is a good guy, I can see where a woman could get very interested quickly. I guess he will find a path through that. My thought there was “you don’t have to date people to share a fun experience”.

      Can you suggest to him that the two of you just hang out as friends and do some fun friend-type activities stuff together?
      Since my husband passed, I have managed to fall into a couple of good friendships with guys. It’s nice, everyone has something different to offer and that is always interesting.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        “Okay so you know there’s no LTR here. Is that okay?”

        I’m not used to going on dates knowing there’s no possibility of a LTR, so if I do go out with him I need to make sure I don’t forget that he has already stated ‘no LTR’ upfront.

        “Can you suggest to him that the two of you just hang out as friends and do some fun friend-type activities stuff together?”

        I can, as long as I don’t catch feelings first. If I do then I can’t see him again after the first date. Haha.

    11. Kathenus*

      My two cents on this. If you think it would be fun to see him and hang out a time or two while he’s here, then go for it. I’d suggest getting any confusion out of the way beforehand – such as saying, ‘It would be fun to see you. Just to be up front, you’ve been clear that you’re not looking for any type of relationship, and I’m being clear that I’m not interested in a fling. If you’d like to get together as friends during your trip, great. If you have other expectations, then let’s not.’

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        Thank you for that script! I really like it. I’m going to say it to him once he comes back to confirm the dates he’ll be here and also the night before we meet, just so we’re super, super clear.

        I do think it’ll be fun to hang out while he’s here. Well, it’s all fun and games until someone catches feelings, amirite? :P Note to self: He doesn’t want any type of relationship. He said it three different ways!

        1. neverjaunty*

          But you’re not hearing it.

          I’m not trying to be harsh here – but your comments are all over trying to talk yourself into something you know is not what you really want.

          This is a dude you don’t know who is clearly hoping for a booty call or at worst some fun short-term flirting with a stranger while he’s briefly in town. You’re someone who doesn’t want a booty call or a short-term thing and you’re worried about having feelings for him.

          Loneliness and boredom are not tools that can square a circle.

          1. Budgie Lover*

            Agreed. The OP has replied several times and keeps circling back to the idea of developing feelings for this dude and how awkward that would be. My sense is they’re already putting waaaaaay more mental energy into this thing than the other person and that’s not a recipe for a fun outing. The only reason to go would be chasing an emotional high from the uncertainty (“Will he try anything? How much? Is he secretly into me???”) and going through a catharthis when the dude inevitably vanishes again. Ehh, I’ve been in that dating rut too. But OP 100% knows this is a bad idea and was probably going to ignore any advice they got here from the start. Sometimes people go online more for the sympathy/validation.

            1. Pasha (she/her)*

              I did want to go for the fun factor and you’re not wrong in that I’m putting waaaay more mental energy than he is, which is not a recipe for a fun outing. But no, I didn’t actually 100% know this was a bad idea and come on here for sympathy or validation and with the intention to ignore advice. Surprise! Rest assured no advice is going to waste here. I have gained a lot of new perspectives and I’m going to consider all of them in my decision-making. Thank you for your input.

        2. Owler*

          Yeah, I don’t know why you keep referring to worry about whether you will “catch feelings”. That seems like a passive way of deciding that you don’t have any control of what happens.

          1. Pasha (she/her)*

            You’re right, it’s passive. It’s like I’m willing to go where the wind takes me. I’m not. I’m stronger than that.

    12. Jean (just Jean)*

      If you are really afraid you are going to be swept into bed by this fellow, build in some guardrails:
      have a reliable friend call you about 30 minutes into the date
      or have another friend (or the same one) call back an hour later
      or arrange for your friend to “run into you” at the restaurant
      or carry an Obviously Philosophical/Religious Book with you (“Hh, this is just what I’m reading at present”)
      or just don’t meet this guy, period.
      It’s been said before but I’ll say it again: under no circumstances do you go to his hotel room, or he to your residence (unless you live with a bunch of uninhibited extroverts all of whom are Certain to Be Home at that time).
      Go if you think you can stick to your choices even if he’s giving you the puppy eyes. Don’t go if you don’t want to put yourself that close to temptation. It’s fun to get those fluttery butterfly feelings. It’s less fun to look back and realize that you broke your own standards.

      Either way, don’t beat yourself up! Make a decision and move on.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Gah…apologies if my tone slipped from Determined into Downright Harsh. The latter was not my intention.

        1. Pasha (she/her)*

          I did not read that as harsh at all. Don’t worry!

          I appreciate your advice. Might do the first two. ;)

          I will not go to his hotel room no matter what excuse he might give to get me in there. It’ll be awful to break my own standards. Will endeavour not to let that happen.

          Thank you. :D

      2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        If she’s afraid this fellow will try to sweep her into bed despite a clearly stated No, then she doesn’t need to build in “guardrails”, she needs to not go out with this guy at all.
        If she’s afraid this fellow will sweep her into bed because deep down, she really WANTS to go to bed with him, and will respond to his flirting, then she needs to figure out WTF is going on with her own self before she dates this guy or any other, not have a moral babysitter check up on her every hour.
        If the question is not one of harassment, pressure, coercion, force, etc (again, DON’T DATE THIS GUY if there is) how else WOULD one get “swept into bed” by some fellow? Because they can’t resist his seductive flirting? Because they “caught feelings” and it was inevitable? Please correct me if I somehow read your comment wrong, because the only two situations I can see it applying to are 1. If Pasha thinks the guy will be pestering her for sex or 2. If Pasha thinks she will be unable to resist “temptation” and both of those are WTF situations that, if true, need to be addressed by NOT going on this date.

    13. LilySparrow*

      When I was dating, I did sometimes go on dates with guys just for an evening’s entertainment because they were good-looking and charming. We’d have dinner or see a movie or a show, talk a little flirty and hug goodbye at the train station. Not what you’d call Platonic friends, but neither was it going to go anywhere that night.

      If they were in town and called more than once or twice, we might do that once or twice. If it went on longer, then it had potential. Eventually I married one of them, when it did turn out to have “legs.”

      There was a memorable time I got burnt, when the guy was trying to get me emotionally invested in something long-term with a long dramatic phone/email correspondence and then showed his true colors after I’d put my heart on the table. But that can happen in any situation, whether it’s long-distance or right there in your town.

      I think this is actually a perfectly fine model for choosing a date. Just have fun, take the obvious safety precautions for going out with anyone you barely know, and don’t overthink it. An evening spent in charming company is an evening well-spent, in my book.

      When you know everybody’s going to keep their pants on, you don’t have to analyze things to death.

    14. Anon Anon Anon*

      If it seems off, I wouldn’t bother with it. Do a cost-benefit analysis. What would this add to your life and what are the risks? To be honest, if he’s acting a bit weird (which it sounds like), it’s a sign that there could be other issues – issues that could lead to other problems. I don’t know what breadcrumbing is, but it sounds like there’s something in this for him and he’s not thinking about you as a person. I think the no sex thing is a bit of a red herring. He might think he can talk you into having sex. He might just want to go on a date. But there could be other Stuff that comes with this (secret partner back home, asking to borrow money, wanting to be seen with someone to raise his social status for some reason, or something else sketchy). So if you’re feeling skeptical, trust that. If you’re feeling good about it, then go with that.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        +1 to Anon Anon Anon’s perceptive comment.
        Also + 1 million to the comments about watching out for your drinks. You aren’t safe from food/drink-tampering just because you don’t drink alcohol–I mean, if someone’s intent on slipping whatever-it-is into a person surely the dose can just as well be delivered via soft drink? or soft food (sauces, yogurt, pudding…?)
        I’m not trying to be a total scaremonger and I’m anything but hip to the current dating scene but if the possibility of spending time with someone brings up fear of being forced into bed against one’s will, AND if you don’t even know this person’s last name or workplace or anything, really…
        …the fact that you’re asking questions shows you’re less than 100% comfortable with the whole idea.
        And you’ve been trying all along to talk yourself out of having Feelings for this character.
        I’ve changed my mind and now suggest your evening would be better off spent with a good book and a cup of your favorite hot beverage. Date a nice guy who shares your values. Not a guarantee of no heartbreak never, but why not begin an interpersonal connection that has fewer challenges? It’s like a vegan trying to seek lifetime happiness with a barbeque devotee, or a believer with an atheist. Your values are worth fighting for, and better to battle when and where you’re safe (at home, via text or email) than out in some strange place with some stranger and possibly woozy from your own emotions or the stranger’s chemical interference.

        If he’s mature enough to travel alone he’s equipped to entertain himself alone, or survive a couple of lonely evenings in an unfamiliar town. Not your circus not your monkeys. Phones and email have two ends and his end has been inactive for **three years**. /end rant

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Don’t meet up. He’s telling you there’s no future in it, so please don’t waste your time. He says he’s single. Do you KNOW this? If I wanted to cheat, being out of my home country for a couple of days would be a perfect opportunity. I could leave a mess behind and never look back. Please don’t, but if you can’t resist, make it lunch and bring a couple friends along. No alone time.
        I’m on Team You.

      3. Athousandeyesandone*

        Yeah, I agree it sounds a bit weird. He contacts you after 3.5 years when the only time you spent together was a few dates?! I haven’t done much dating in the last couple of years though, but that’s what stuck out to me.

    15. Taking The Long Way Round*

      I don’t know what breadcrumbing is but I can guess – and it sounds like a classic case of avoidant insecure attachment. I would wish him well but leave him be.

    16. deesse877*

      My experience, as an observer of a friend’s dating life while she had similar personal principles, is twofold:

      1) many men, likely a majority of middle-class western men, genuinely believe that chaste women will break down and beg for it (possibly the idea comes from p0rn?). This can lead to awkwardness.

      2) my friend did exactly the same as you, spent a lot of time worrying about clearly unsuitable men, and especially her own possible feelings towards them…I think it’s probably a normal way to feel in the situation. But maybe better to let it die than feed it.

      1. Pasha (she/her)*

        “I think it’s probably a normal way to feel in the situation.”

        Thank you! Feelings are not cut and dry. You can go into something 100% sure you know what’s what (“he doesn’t actually like me as a person, he just wants to see if he can get me in bed, which he won’t, so all this worrying is irrelevant and I should not worry”) and STILL worry you’ll develop feelings. But yes, best to stick to my beliefs and not feed it.

        1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

          I’m not sure why you are so worried that you might develop feelings for this guy. Did you have especially strong feelings for him on those first couple of dates you had years ago, and are worried they might flare up again? Do you have a long buried crush, or a sexual attraction to him that has popped back into the forefront of your mind? Do you just tend to become attached quickly to anyone that you like, are attracted to, go on a date with? Something else?
          There are no wrong answers here, but as this is something you keep bringing up, I think it would be worth scrutinizing yourself pretty closely about it before you go out with this guy again. What are your motivations here? What are you hoping will happen? What do you really want/expect from both him, and yourself? Why do you keep emphasizing certain parts of this narrative above others?
          Since you’ve dated this guy previously with knowing each other’s last names etc I don’t have the same feelings of extreme caution/possible danger that some people have, of course I think you should take whatever precautions you normally would when going on a first time date; and don’t go out with him at ALL if you have even the slightest doubt/worry that he might try to pressure or coerce you (or worse.)
          If your worry is that you yourself might wish to get more physical with this guy than would fit comfortably within your personal moral framework, well, that’s a decision that only you can make. There really is no objective outside standard that would prevent you from making whatever decision you wish to as an autonomous adult, or incorporating that decision into your philosophy of life however you wish. There is no objective moral authority to preclude you getting any amount of physical with any consenting person you choose to, or to get physical with someone you are not in an LTR with. And you do not need to justify your choices to anyone other than yourself.

          1. Pasha (she/her)*

            Good questions. No to all, but you’ve hit the nail on the head with “a sexual attraction to him that has popped back into the forefront of your mind”. I’ve been single for two years now, and I’m a little lonely, so this attention from him (however self-seeking on his part) has been…nice. So yes, I’m a little bit afraid I might catch feelings – entirely based on fantasy, of course – and “accidentally” get more physical with him than I’m comfortable with. But you’re right that it’s a decision only I can make, and I do not need to justify my decision to anyone other than myself. Definitely gonna have to have a serious talk with myself.

            And FWIW, I actually don’t know his last name (and he doesn’t know mine), but I have zero worry of being coerced into sex, honestly. I want to say “he wouldn’t do it” but how many stories have we read of women being coerced into having sex by men whom they didn’t think wouldn’t do it, right? But I’m confident it’s not his style. Regardless I have to remember I barely know him, and will take all necessary precautions.

            Thank you for bringing up some great points.

            1. Pasha (she/her)*

              Typo (though I’m sure you got it):

              I want to say “he wouldn’t do it” but how many stories have we read of women being coerced into having sex by men whom they didn’t think **would** do it, right?

    17. Anonforthis*

      I agree with what everyone else is saying – he just want someone to pass the time with. If you are fine with a single meal/drink date to pass the time too, you can go. If that’s a waste of time for you, don’t go.

      I’ve actually met guys like this before through online dating, where they just wanted to hook up and nothing more serious. If they were good looking enough, I would just hook up with them casually but not expect anything more.

    18. Batgirl*

      Sometimes going on a wild goose date is still fun and is nothing more than flexing your flirting muscles and dating game. Go as a scientist looking for a new comparison point.

      A friend showed me a great article on the marrigebuilers website (coincidentally they are no-sex-pre-marriage types) while I was in dating mode, called ”choosing the right one to marry’ which basically advocated going on lots of dates (apparently dating at least 30 people is the magic number) with a very un-committed attitude. Dont keep exclusively dating the same person unless they knock your socks off. Trying people on for size, or for fun, is fine.

  10. Sandy*

    I travel a lot for work (by most people’s standards, I’m not at Up In The Air levels) and also for personal reasons, so you’d think I would be used to it by now.

    But I feel like my travel anxiety and general level of annoyance just keeps climbing. I have a 26 hour trip coming up this week (26 each way, UGH) and I am actively dreading it.

    The trips just seem to get more and more unpredictable and unpleasant. What new piece of clothing do I need to remove at security? Will I have to pay for seatback entertainment? Just how small have the inflight bathrooms gotten? Exactly how painful will US Immigration and Customs be?

    I know it’s not really a question, more a rant, but commiseration is welcome!

    1. Fey*

      I travel about 6 times a year for leisure and I get travel anxiety each time. The night before the flight I always ask myself why am I doing this?! “Oh yeah, I love travelling. -_-”

      Having not flown to the US for 10 years, I don’t know what US immigration is like nowadays. But in terms of clothing, just make sure you wear layers that can easily come off if necessary. Not just for customs but for the flight/layovers too. You never know when you’re going to feel hot or cold. Same with shoes. No laces. Slip-ons are easier. I usually bring my own earplugs and eye mask too (though these are usually provided). Having my own stuff means one less thing to worry about in case they run out of them (happened to me once on a 14-hour flight. I was so anxiety-ridden I cried. Haha!) or the airline ones are uncomfortable or not to your liking.

      If your flight is 26 hours each way, seatback entertainment is usually free. But I personally despise wasting time browsing looking for something I might like, so I like to download my shows beforehand on to my iPad. Knowing what I’m going to watch eliminates having to think/choose and allows me to get settled in quickly, which lessens my anxiety.

      Seat-wise, I like aisle, but in the middle section of the plane. That way, if the person right next to me sees I’m sleeping when they want to go to the toilet, they could theoretically come out the other way. But you know what I do if I want to sleep and I know my seatmate still hasn’t gone to the toilet? I tell them I’d like to sleep now and would they like to go to the toilet before I do? I don’t even care. :) I’d rather ask a somewhat personal question like that and suffer a few seconds of awkwardness than be woken up when I’m sleeping.

      Good luck!

      1. Nicole76*

        I think that’s actually very kind of you. As a person who has to urinate more frequently than usual when flying, I would appreciate you asking so I wouldn’t feel terrible trying to hold it and eventually waking you up to get past (although I try to sit in an aisle seat for that reason whenever possible).

        1. Fey*

          Oh, I’m so happy to know you think that even though I’m not so much trying to be kind or altruistic as I am just trying to get some uninterrupted sleep. :P

          One time, I was in the side section of the plane, in the aisle seat, and asked the couple next to me if they wanted to go. The woman went, but the guy (who was in the window seat) didn’t. And he didn’t go until I woke up nine hours later (it was a 13-hour flight and yeah, I can really sleep on the plane)! He honestly didn’t waste any time asking to be let out the minute he saw I was awake. I hope he learned his lesson to always go when the person in the aisle seat is offering!

      2. CrazyDays*

        I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder but have found that changing the way I think of things has hugely impacted my level of happiness. Instead of thinking of all the things I dread when I fly, I think of all the things I’m grateful for. I also invest in things that are going to make me comfortable and organized for travel. Little things like the right bags, sleep mask, pillow, etc… go a long way to making an experience more pleasurable.

    2. Blargity blarg*

      I’ve been home for four days before taking off tomorrow for a ten day trip. Yesterday I had to go to the doc because I was having crazy ear pain and it appears to be bulging but not yet infected. So steroids and afrin and all the decongestant drugs to get me through a four hour flight followed by a six hour flight. Of course the first flight is a red eye so the meds that will make my ear hurt less (ie Sudafed) will keep me wide awake.

      On the flip side, I should hit mid-tier FF status by June. So there’s that? My airline doesn’t have seat back entertainment but you can watch on your own device for free. Also, they give me chocolate for flying all the time. Teensy-tiny things that do somehow make a difference in work travel drudgery. Work can restrict expenses in many ways. But they can’t take away my chocolate.

      Anyway. Commiseration.

      1. FarmGirl*

        If you’re having ear troubles, be sure to get ‘earplanes’. They are plastic things that you put in your ears to minimize high altitude effects. You can find them in pharmacies. I spent two years traveling and it made a difference. You can take them out unless they are landing or taking off.

    3. Thursday Next*

      I hear you—I feel like airlines keep finding new ways to make us miserable. Smaller seats, Fuller flights, fewer amenities. I rely on downloaded videos and books on my iPad to distract me from the experience.

      My last US customs and immigration experience was in November, and it was really easy and smooth. And the TSA was super patient with my daughter last month, which I appreciated.

    4. Kathenus*

      I’ve found that if I expect the worst (crazy long lines at security/I&C/crappy movie selection/annoying seat mate), prepare to amuse myself (LOTS of books), and just completely acknowledge that this will be a very long travel experience, that the actual experience is usually better than I envision. Basically prepare and psych yourself for it to be bad and to just get through it, and then it almost always exceeds expectations. Sounds weird but it’s worked for me on some 20+ hour trips.

  11. WoodswomanWrites*

    I posted here a while back asking for advice about my upstairs neighbor’s dog with separation anxiety. His howling is so piercing when my neighbor departs in the mornings that if I try to sleep in, he wakes me up, even with earplugs. I feel sorry for the dog, who is clearly unhappy, and I’ve made sure she knows that. People here gave me some good suggestions about communicating with my neighbor, who had at that time just moved in. She indicated that she knew it was a problem and told me she was looking for a trainer to resolve the problem.

    Four months later, the situation hasn’t changed despite her asking me if it was still an issue a couple months ago and my affirming that it was. He’s an emotional support animal, and she told me that her therapist has been encouraging her to draw more boundaries with the dog.

    While my neighbor is well-intentioned and is otherwise considerate, my patience is wearing thin. I’ve been clear and direct with her about how the situation is a problem, not just hinting. I’m thinking about potentially sharing some do-it-yourself videos and instructions for dogs with separation anxiety that I’ve found online. Any suggestions for what to do next?

    1. Beadbed Librarian*

      Ooooff, I get emotional support animals and I definitely got emotional support for the pets I’ve had in the past but part of me wonders how much good it can be doing her one that front if the dog is stressed out if she’s gone. I wish I had some advice because that sounds rough.

    2. Reba*

      Sounds like the dog is the one who needs emotional support! I wouldn’t make the effort to share resources — your neighbor has just as much ability to google as you do, and an internet article won’t implant the will or discipline to solve this, which is what’s missing.

      Has she actually engaged a behaviorist, or just talked about it?

      Have you raised your concern with the landlord or condo board or whatever body is in charge of the place? It seems like it’s time to level up. It’s quite possible that they will do nothing, but they have the power to create consequences for your neighbor that you don’t. If it helps, remind yourself that your neighbor may be ‘nice’ but she’s being wildly inconsiderate to both you and an innocent, if annoying, animal.

      Sorry, what a pain.

      1. Wishing You Well*

        Yes, it’s time to involve the landlord. Make a recording for them to hear.

    3. Pippa*

      Some years ago I had a wonderful dog with terrible separation anxiety and the vet prescribed Clomicalm. I was skeptical, but it worked and vastly improved her quality of life. Your neighbor might consider talking to her vet as well as a trainer.

    4. WWF*

      Over four months? She doesn’t sound considerate at all. I’d take a long recording of the howling to your management company. And if the situation didn’t improve, I’d play it on a loop one day when she is home so she fully understands what you have been putting up with.

    5. Verona Recs*

      I’m visiting Verona, Italy next month with a friend and looking for recommendations for restaurants. Know of any you would recommend for the food, view, or atmosphere? Any tourist traps to avoid?

    6. WoodswomanWrites*

      I appreciate all these ideas. As far as I know, she’s taken no action whatsoever. I’m going to bring it up with her a final time, mentioning the suggestion of checking about medication with her vet, and saying that I’d prefer not to talk to our landlord about it but will do so at this point if nothing changes. Our landlord likes me as a long-term, responsible tenant. I almost never reach out to him about problems so if I complained, he would definitely have words with her that are less kind than mine. I’m certain she’d prefer not to have to deal with him, so I hope that will do the trick.

      1. Quandong*

        Please document both the frequency and noise level from the dog, and any communication between you and the owner about it.

        Where I live, the authorities in charge of noise complaints have a list of requirements for people in situations like yours, when they are trying to resolve them. It’s worth researching what steps you would need to follow if you don’t get satisfactory resolution from the neighbour, or the landlord if you involve them.

        1. Quandong*

          I meant to add, the authorities ask people to make a log of the noise / disruption, and to make sample audio recordings if possible.

          1. valentine*

            It may be neither she nor her therapist understand the dog. Therapist is weaning her off the dog or trying to wean the dog? But maybe the dog’s upset because they feel they’re not doing their job.

            I hope management can help.

            I was able to sleep through horrid construction banging with earplugs+noise-canceling headphones+Rainy Day.

      2. Venus*

        Separation anxiety in dogs can be brutal. It’s not easy to resolve, so if she has done nothing then I think you are well within your rights to push her – tell her that she needs to work on it otherwise you will tell the landlord. Resolving the problem with training often takes weeks or months, so she should have started *immediately*

        The best way to resolve the problem is with a crate, and a lot of training to get the dog to where it enjoys the crate and finds it safe. This starts with training the dog to go in there several times a day for a few minutes at a time, rewarding it greatly for a job well done (which is how you get the dog to repeat the behaviour and enjoy it), and increase the time spent by a few minutes each day to where it can be in the crate for much longer. This is best done in a bedroom or place where the dog can’t see the owner leave.

        Some people view crating an animal as punishment, but I have looked after many dogs and they almost always find it to be comforting (and if they don’t like the metal crate then a plastic one is an option, or keeping them in a bedroom with a closed door). The key is to make it fun, by filling it with towels and toys, and giving treats. I often cover it with a sheet, and put on the radio, so that the dog doesn’t know that it’s actually alone (and I start by doing it that way when I am there, so I can talk with it).

        I don’t intend for this to be a long explanation for the OP, as this is your neighbour’s problem, but it’s important that you appreciate it will likely be a long time before this can properly be resolved, so you need to be more clear with your neighbour now – for your own mental and physical health! Best of luck

  12. anonymiss*

    Going anon for this one…

    This week I tested positive for herpes. I was really upset (I had a painful cyst down below last year and thought it was a recurrence of that – although actually it wasn’t nowhere near as painful) and felt disgusted with myself for a couple of days. I think it’s the permanent nature of it, the knowledge I can never get rid of it.

    BUT I have done a lot of reading since and it seems manageable and not even that big a deal as long as you’re careful. Many people never get further outbreaks, and as my first one wasn’t that bad, chances are any others would be even milder. I feel lucky in that respect. It’s just UNlucky in getting it, loads of people have it and may not even know. It isn’t the best news ever but I’ve also calmed down a bit and looked at it more rationally. My friend even told me he has it too after I confided in him, and he made me feel better.

    I realise this isn’t a topic everyone wants to contribute to but if anyone is willing to share their experience with this with me, I’d really appreciate it. I’m on day 3 of 5 of Zovirax and it’s making my stomach feel icky.

    1. AnonyNurse*

      It’s more common than not, between HSV that causes cold sores and the one that causes genital symptoms. It’s easy to get down on yourself, for sure, but it it so so normal. Hopefully, you will not experience recurrent outbreaks, but if you do, be aggressive with the anti-virals and be honest with future partners as you wish had been done for you.

      As you get more used to this diagnosis, I hope you can normalize it for yourself — if more people were open about their experiences, it would reduce the shame and stigma people feel about it.

      Good for you for getting it checked out. It’s scary and you’re brave for taking that step.

      (On the stomach thing — can cause very divergent symptoms (ie diarrhea or constipation) so hard to recommend anything without more details, but switching up time of day of dosing, with/without food, etc may help. Be kind to yourself! You’ve earned it).

      1. anonymiss*

        I have two more days of the anti-virals and I have to admit I’m not enjoying them. My muscles are sore and I’m very tired and it’s playing havoc with my stomach (AND I have my period at this time, so it’s all fun and games in that area!). I take them five times a day so it’s quite a task to keep remembering!

        I’m going for more STI tests next week. I actually had booked that separately before I knew. I am a bit nervous now hoping nothing else shows up.

        The main thing I worry with this is I read that it can be very dangerous for the baby if you’re pregnant and get an outbreak. I’m not pregnant, but I may be one day, and that freaks me out a bit!

        1. AnonyNurse*

          It can be dangerous in pregnancy, BUT also manageable. If you have an outbreak or feel one coming on towards the end of your pregnancy, they’ll treat as appropriate. And if there’s any symptoms when your labor begins, you’ll have baby by c-section, which removes the herpes risk for baby.

          You’ll be gold! When you’re ready, it’ll happen. Best wishes!

    2. Epsilon Delta*

      There is an Adam Ruins Everything episode about sex and herpes. He talks a lot about herpes and how common it is, might be worth a watch.

      The premise of his show is that he busts a bunch of common misconceptions about a subject. The humor is very corny but I enjoyed watching the show. You can watch it on Netflix and I think also Youtube.

      1. Karen from Finance*

        Yes, it’s a good episode. Iirc he says on that show that like 90% of people have some sort of herpes.

    3. Sled dog mama*

      I can’t really relate on the down there aspect but I had shingles several years ago (same virus as Chicken Pox which is a herpes virus) and the medication for an out break does suck and did strange things to my stomach as well.

      1. anonymiss*

        My dad had shingles. It sounded pretty rough! Yeah, it’s making my muscles quite sore, I think, which is a bit odd, but it is one of the possible (less common) side effects, so…

    4. Johanna*

      I’m 33 and havent had an outbreak in way over 15 years. I used to get a prescription for Zovirax every year at Planned Parenthood, but never used it. I don’t ever think about having it unless I’m going over medical history/have a new partner.

      I would recommend looking up foods rich in lysine; I think they helped avoid breakouts. And personally I found eating nutritional yeast to cause a breakout (because I was eating a crazy amount I think, but that was my experience!)

    5. Anonyherp*

      Yes I was diagnosed after a very painful outbreak that also brought on severe fever. It’s true that it will never be that bad again. Mine was actually discovered to be HSV1 which is common cold sores. HSV2 is typically genital herpes. But mine only show up on my labia. I get an outbreak once per year, my partner never caught it, and I don’t think about it. L-lysine is the trick for me. I thought I’d be devastated forever but I truly never think about it.

        1. MysteryFan*

          I have both kinds of Herpes I guess, because when i get a “cold sore” (HSVI), it swells up to be Quite Noticeable.. I feel really sick; lethargic, feverish, just generally entirely awful. But when I get an outbreak in the genital area, it doesn’t make me feel bad all over. It’s just a small lesion; a bit painful and itchy for a few days. I take Valcyclovir (Valtrex) 1 GM tabs at the FIRST sign of the itchy feeling that presages an outbreak, and it helps a LOT. I was also told that the dosage varies for treating HSV1 and HSV2. My Dr. recommended taking 1 of the tabs( 1,000 mg) morning and evening for 3 days for an outbreak of HSV2, and 2 tablets morning and evening for 1-2 days for HSV1.

          I also found that you can get an ointment form of Acyclovir that I like for reducing the duration of “cold sores”. But the OTC ones like Abreva are also helpful.

          For me, the most important thing is to be aware of the tingle that signals an outbreak and jump on it Immediately!! good luck and don’t worry, the outbreaks almost always get fewer and farther between, and less sever as your body builds up it’s own immunity response.

          1. anonymiss*

            Yeah, the outbreak is as you describe yours, and so it really didn’t feel that bad. It definitely felt different from a cyst and I’m kind of annoyed the dr didn’t tell me he suspected it wasn’t, because I could have inadvertently passed it on during that time. 1000 mg makes sense now because I am taking 5 x 200 mg every day.

            I realise now that the weird sharp itchy pain I had one night that woke me up was that… I had absolutely no idea. I had a spot high up on my leg at the same time and thought it was that (no, that was just a spot!).

    6. the9thchevron*

      The podcast Sawbones did an episode about herpes called the Herpes Thanksgiving Special. Apparently all the stigma around herpes was invented by Big Pharma to sell drugs. The podcast is also very humorous and the hosts are endearing, so I think it might make you feel better.

    7. Captain Vegetable (Crunch Crunch Crunch)*

      The podcast “Unladylike” recently did an episode that dealt with living with herpes. I found it very compassionate.

      1. Anon Y Mousse*

        Yup, awesome episode. As a HSV1+ person, I will say that herpes of both varietes are common enough by middle age that most people in that age bracket think it’s a not very big deal when someone comes up positive. Maybe equivalent to divulging that you have a foot fungus in terms of awkwardness. I’ve seen this reaction in both polyamorous (all ages) and monogamous people (35+). I would say that it’s worth knowing before having babies, and worth trying to avoid sharing, but totally not the end of the world. People will still date you, life will go on.

    8. ..Kat..*

      I recommend always having a full course of anti viral medication on hand. When you feel an outbreak coming on, you can immediately medicate. The sooner you can take an antiviral, the less the outbreak will be. Always have a couple of pills in a container in your purse.

      I am sorry that this has happened to you. But, it is manageable. Please make sure you know how to prevent transmission to others.

      1. anonymiss*

        Yes, I have it already on repeat prescription so I can easily get more if I need it, and the doctor did me two prescriptions at the same time initially, so I even have one to hand to ‘cash in’ any time.

      2. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        I keep a full course of anti-viral on hand for oral herpes because the outbreaks I get (average 1 or occasionally 2 a year) are so bad. It’s made a huge difference in the severity, duration, and extent when they happen.

    9. ArtsNerd*

      I don’t have a herpes diagnosis but want to just say the moral stigma of it is total BS, in addition to being extremely illogical. Obviously there’s some ‘unlearning’ to do, but just another voice here letting you know it’s perfectly normal and not any kind of failing and nothing to be grossed out about.


  13. Annoyed Customer*

    TLDR: Should I complain about poor service? (NGL, this is going to be a rant)

    I’m a regular at the major bookstore in my city. It’s part of the oldest national chain of bookstore and publishing house, so I assume they have established standard (so they’re not a new company still trying to figure out things). The store itself has been in business for around a decade, so it’s not a newly-opened store either.

    The problem is that the service is very poor. The store has ~15 staff members, which should be enough for its medium size. But no. The only time you can see a staff member in the book section is when they’re stocking the shelves, Otherwise they all hang around in the stationery section. It’s gotten to the point where, if you’re looking for a book, you have a bigger chance of finding it on your own compared if you ask the staff.

    They’re almost as useless in the stationery section, despite consistently spending most of their time there. They spend their time chatting and ignoring the customers. Even if you ask them a question, they mostly just give a quick, vague reply before turning back and resuming their conversation. I can understand if it’s a slow day, but they do this even on the weekends, when the store is packed with so many people it’s hard to move (plus the staff tends to block the way, what’s with them standing in groups).

    So my question is, is this worth complaining about to the management? On one hand I understand they’re probably bored of standing for hours in the store. OTOH, it’s their job, and they presumably understand what the duties are when they sign up for it. People can dislike their job and still be competent. I’d love to just go to another store, but the nearest store is around 1.5 hour from where I live and the public transport is very tricky. And yes, I know there’s this thing called online shopping, but from the reviews the delivery service is not that great either. Plus my address is a bit hard to find, and the delivery people tend to get lost when they’re trying to find it, so online shopping is not really an option either.

    So, is this worth complaining, or am I making a storm in a teacup?

    1. matcha123*

      If you make a complaint, you should probably find a way to send it to the top. The management at the place you are visiting probably doesn’t care and may be part of the chatting group.

      1. Annoyed Customer*

        Thanks for the suggestion! It does seem very likely, so actually I’ve been thinking about writing a complaint letter to the local newspaper. Maybe I’m too cynical, but I feel like companies tend to take complaints more seriously if they’re named and shamed, compared to individual and private complaint.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          If you have social media, I would also potentially consider politely complaining there and tagging the company. Generally on the rare occasions I’ve had to complain, I’ve found that’s the easiest way to get a quick response (because it’s both out in the public domain and instantaneous, and can potentially become very widespread very quickly).

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      So I spent years (~10) working in retail customer service and I’ve been on the side of the retail worker.

      My advice is like Matcha123 and send it to the head office but also send it to local office as well: CC one of them in so that it’s not a surprise to local when head comes down on them.

      It’s very frustrating when customers come in and have to interrupt the workers conversations and I was always taught that you can have your chit-chat but when the customers come in, focus on them. The problem that some finding the line between helpful and lurking, thereby putting the customer off, but you are right, this is their job and their job is too help customers.

      So complain to local and head and hope it changes.

      If it doesn’t, I really recommended bookdepository.com. I know you say that the delivery drivers tend to get lost on the way to your house, but BD sends their books through the regular post (postage is free). I live in the middle of nowhere in Spain and I’ve never, ever had any trouble with BD getting to me but acres of trouble with Amazon who use special delivery services, so it might be worth checking out.

    3. WellRed*

      Contact the regional office. They would want to know that the store manager/s aren’t managing properly. Signed, former chain bookstore employee

      1. Lilith*

        Does time of day/day of week matter? I’m curious who is clustering around the stationery section. Teens, geezers etc.

  14. Marzipan*

    I have a stinking cold. Meh. Had to go home from work yesterday – and everyone else was either on holiday or called in sick as well, so my poor boss was left to do the work of six people.

    In other news, I had my WTF appointment with my fertility clinic this week. (Follow up appointment after a failed cycle. WTF means exactly what you think it does.) I wasn’t expect it to be anything much beyond ‘yeah, your cycle didn’t work, want to do another one?’, but actually my consultant was much more proactive and recommended immune testing and blood clotting testing before doing anything else. So on the one hand that’s a bit pants, but on the other it could show something useful or relevant, and it isn’t desperately expensive, so I’m getting blood tests dive next week.

    1. Quandong*

      I’m glad to hear the consultant is proactive, and hope the testing proves useful.

  15. coffee cup*

    Has anyone dated someone from a very different culture/background? I’m from the UK and have just started dating a guy from Nigeria. (I’ve actually dated a Nigerian man in the past, but this situation is a bit different and more likely to become serious.) He’s very sweet and cares for me a lot. The main things I worry about difference-wise are religion (I’m very much Not, he goes to church every week) and general humour/things in common. I know everyone is different, but I was just after other people’s thoughts. Obviously, not specifically about dating people from the UK/Nigeria!

    1. matcha123*

      I think being very clear about how you approach communication is key. Assumptions lead to more assumptions which lead to hurt feelings. He also has to be open to that style of communication, which can be hard for a lot of people. I have a lot of friends in cross-cultural, long-term relationships. The ones that seem to go well have very good communication.

    2. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’d say “how connected is he to his family, and how will they affect you?” Will he keep you a secret from them and then dump you for someone they approve of? Will he invite them over to stay with you for 6 months at a time?

    3. Reba*

      This is for a little later, when you know if it is looking long-term or not… but for me the most important thing would be expectations about family life and gender roles. Related question, how will you nagivate extended family and obligations? Obviously people from the same home society can have very different views on this stuff! But you want to be sure that both parties are giving it some thought, and not just proceeding on unspoken assumptions. At a basic level, are both you and he flexible, or are you more firm in the way you think?

      I have seen cross-cultural relationships (from the perspective of friends from African countries, and friends from the US) that have both lasted and not lasted, and often it hinges on this question.

      From personal experience, I have only casually dated outside my culture/nationality but it can be a fun chance to learn a lot.

    4. PX*

      Everyone here has given good advice: big ticket items are communicate about religion, family/in-law expectations, finances and children. I might also add gender roles here too. What is his take on those?

      Some things to consider – is he from Nigeria as in, recently moved to the UK from there? Or is he Nigerian as in, his family is Nigerian but he was born/raised/has spent a significant amount of time in the UK? The latter for instance might alleviate some of the fears about having things in common.

      One thing I would say is to ask him about how he grew up. There are often a lot of stereotypes about poor Africans, but you would be surprised by what a standard middle class life-style can look like in many African countries (hint: it can be a lot better than you get in some developed countries).

      I would also encourage you to do some research into where he is from, and try to get a better understanding of what his life might have been like. People often forget that due to Western media being pretty much everywhere, most people in the world have some idea of American/British/Western norms/culture/lifestyle/expectations (or at least the TV/movie versions of them), but it very rarely goes the other way. Learn a bit about his culture and history and you might find it helps you understand him better.

      1. anonymiss*

        He is definitely keen on kids at some point, I’ve had to be a bit firm in saying ‘er, no, not yet!’ He is actually FROM from Nigeria, but he moved here a few years ago, so he’s fairly used to what things are like here. I know a fair bit about Nigeria after dating my other Nigerian friend (we’re still close and he told me quite a lot about it) and I’m always interested and respectful. I’ve let him cook some Nigerian food for me, as I wanted to try it, and one was a definite miss and the other was pretty good!

        1. TL -*

          In my experience, it’s not the things like food and holidays, it’s things like how involved is extended family, what is wife’s job, what is husband’s job, what is grandparents’ job, how do you raise kids, how do you handle shared finances?

          One of my friends started dating a Mexican man (who was lovely) whose behavior I recognized as very much in line with Mexican gender norms. She didn’t pick up on that at all (because her gender norms were American/Russian) and even though she likes traditional gender norms to a point, when she talked to me about whether she should be serious with him, it turns out her ideas of gender norms were very different once you got past the really obvious staying home with kids and being a housewife thing.

    5. Emmie*

      Are you two different races? You should give heavy thought, and rehearse how you will handle a racist comment made by strangers, friends, family, coworkers, clients, and bosses. What are your hard lines? Are you prepared to end relationships with people if they make racist comments? Because you will have to when you have kids of that race. You two may feel differently at what constitutes a racist comment. How will you handle that? People may treat one or both of you differently. Will you resent your partner for this? How will family treat the other person? Have either of you dated someone of another race? Be very honest with yourself.
      I say these things from personal dating experience, and because I have a very diverse immediate family and friend group. These comments do not happen often. But they happen and it catches me by surprise. I have personally ended, or significantly distanced myself from people who’ve made racist comments. It’s sucks sometimes. I’m angry other times. I have no emotion about it during other times.
      I cannot stress enough that this doesn’t happen often to me personally. I found in my dating experience that we underestimate the differences we have when dating someone of the same race. It’s still important to the success of your relationship to think these things through.

      1. PX*

        This. I’ve seen this play out with some of my best friends who are an interracial couple, and it can be really, really hard on both parties.

      2. coffee cup*

        Yes, we’ve both dated people of a different race before. I think having kids would be harder because protecting them from that would be something of a different level, though.

    6. Rebecca*

      I am Canadian and the gentleman is French, or Tunisian descent. We met in Shanghai where we were both expats on an adventure, and I’ve moved to France to be with him and make my forever home here.

      And like: talk allllll you want now, but there is going to be so much that you don’t even know you need to talk about until it happens. I’ve been with him almost 4 years and in France for almost 2 and we still have days where I go ‘wait French people do WHAT?’ And France and Canada are both Western European based countries with similar cultures. His family drives me crazy, there is a language barrier with my in-laws and his friends, and I have a stepson that we have very different views about raising.

      We focused on our relationship outside the cultural and racial differences first, so that by the time we had to face those issues, we had a strong friendship and relationship to ground ourselves in when the differences got overwhelming. And they do – the first six or eight months I was here were not the romantic fairytale I was thinking they would be – it was hard!

    7. Courageous cat*

      My curiosity would be: why are you thinking it’s going to get serious if you worry about general humor/things in common? Is that not a big dealbreaker for you to not have those things with your partner?

  16. Bah Humbug*

    I’ve had a terrible week for multiple reasons and I hate everyone and everything. If anybody would like to tell me a joke or an uplifting anecdote I’d be enormously grateful!

    1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      Why did the turtle cross the road?

      To get to the Shell station!

    2. Eleanor Rigby*

      Disclaimer; not original, just saw it online.

      Two cats are awimming across some water. One is called “One Two Three” the other is called “Un Deux Trois.” Which cat survives?

      “One Two Three” because un deux trois cat sank! ;)

    3. Utoh!*

      Scene: Two fish in a tank. (scroll down for the rest)

      Fish 1 to Fish 2: Are you sure you know how to drive this thing?

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Oh, yuck for the terrible week. May it be a long time before the stars align again so grimly!
      How about some kid’s jokes? (I learned these when my child was in elementary school. They are simultaneously terrible and–for me, anyway–memorable.)

      Why did the turkey cross the road? It was the chicken’s day off.
      Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because chickens hadn’t been invented yet.

      What do ghosts like on their bagels? Scream cheese.

      The first two are urban legend/playground oral tradition. The last one I read in a paperback book of jokes for kids. Can’t recall the name or author/editor.

    5. Bah Humbug*

      Thanks everyone – you’ve made me smile!

      (I have also eaten a big bowl of rice and quinoa … and half a package of cookies)

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        I hear you on the cookies. Just devoured a [classified] amount of Oreos. Crunchy to relieve my grumpiness (it was a hard week for me also), creamy and sweet to relieve my discouragement. Yes, I’m the same person who just wrote above about Keeping Oneself Away From Temptation. Some times it isn’t easy to be consistent. Or human. Or both.

    6. Llellayena*

      I almost let a fox into my office a couple of months ago. I was just about to walk out the glass front door at the end of the day when a fox walked past not 2 feet away on the other side of the door! If I had opened the door the direction of the swing would mean the fox could have wandered inside! I hope this makes you smile!

    7. Grandma Mazur*

      How do you turn a duck into a soul singer?

      Put it in the microwave until its bill withers.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I like going over the Cake Wrecks dot com and reading about people’s mistakes. I can get to laughing so hard tears will be running down my face. I haven’t done it in a while, so maybe it’s time for me to check it out also.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Ah, memories. I used to get the same results rereading Flylady’s “Weirdest Things Flung” lists. People confessed to throwing out old bedsprings, nonworking kitchen appliances, taxidermy specimens, decades-old jars of home-canned food, and on and on. That and the Carolyn Hax Holiday Hootenannies (holiday meats overcooked into heaps of smouldering carbon/every window open in the middle of very cold weather). It’s even funnier at three a.m.

      2. Canadian Natasha*

        I’ll second this! Cake Wrecks is hilarious (and terrible)! Do Not look up the meatloaf baby. Just don’t. The Sunday Sweets epidodes are also nice: You get to see the cakes that actually are amazingly beautiful. :)

      3. Elizabeth West*

        OMG Cake Wrecks is the best cure for the grumps I can think of. I almost ALWAYS find a howler on there. Plus, the once-a-week posts with the beautiful cakes are so nice.

      4. Roy G. Biv*

        Yeeessss!!! Very few websites can make me howl with laughter, but Cake Wrecks dot com does every time!

    9. WellRed*

      How do you tell what a red hot chili pepper weighs? Give it a way, give it aeay, give it away now. Sorry, heard that one yesterday.

      1. bkanon*

        AHAHAHAHAHAHAH. Okay, that gave me a flat-out scare the cat belly laugh. I’m keeping that one.

    10. Canadian Natasha*

      I have jokes! (warning: they are terrible!)

      What did the god Poseidon say when his sea dried up?
      I haven’t a notion!

      So this snail was tired of being the slowest animal around. He decided to remove his shell to see if it made him faster. Unfortunately he was even more sluggish.

      The snail decided to get himself a sports car and painted a big S on the side of it. That way, when people saw him drive by, they’d shout, “Wow, look at that S car go!”

      This one is a wee bit rude:
      Did you know that William Shatner once had a clothing line? It was for women’s lingerie. But for some reason his company, “Shatner Panties” never caught on…

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        Cracking up for real over that last one! Hahahahaha!

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      I am also having an awful week, but you inspired me to go read some xkcd:

      E-bay comment: “Instead of office chair, package contained a bobcat. Would not purchase again.”

      And of course the essence of xkcd:
      “Are you coming to bed?”
      “I can’t! People are being WRONG on the internet!”

    12. Bluebell*

      My favorite of all time:

      Knock, Knock.

      Who’s there?

      Interrupting cow.

      Interrupting cow wh–MOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

    13. Catherine from Canada*

      Here are two jokes my son made up when he was nine. They still make me laugh.
      What do you call a boring shade of brown? Mediocre.
      What do you call a scary parrot? A Macabre.

    14. only acting normal*

      You matter. Unless you multiply yourself by the speed of light squared, then you energy!

    15. Cherry Sours*

      Not a joke, but I hope get a smile from the irony of the situation:

      A recent fall the resulted in breaking z limb occured as I was heading to get salt to spread on the ice. ;)

    16. WoodswomanWrites*

      A favorite source of laughs is the website KissThisGuy, which is compilation of people’s stories about lyrics they misheard. For example, for the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Bad Moon Rising,” there are a whole bunch that crack me up.

      Correct lyrics: There’s a bad moon on the rise.

      Misheard lyrics include:
      There’s a bathroom on the right
      There’s a baboon on the rice.

      Just looking those up now cracked me up. Hope your that your days are brighter soon!

    17. ArtsNerd*

      I feel you. People are terrible and also people are the best.

      Something that still makes me cry (in a good way) is remembering the time I came back from a visit to my terminally ill mom (it was awful) and found that my friends had stocked my fridge from top to bottom with easy-to-reheat, delicious, comforting food in individual portions.

      Feeding myself in a healthy way is always a challenge for me, so being cooked for is basically my #1 love language. And my friends knew that, and I will always be grateful.


      Before my depression was diagnosed I’d have awful crying jags I could not calm down from. Something that helped me a lot was the right music. (Something about music is SO effective at modulating mood — see: every soundtrack.)

      I put together a playlist that moves through validating my sadness and then gradually getting more optimistic–helping me come up for breath–and then energizing.

      Your taste is going to be different from mine, but here’s mine right now (which reminds me to update it with a bunch of rad stuff I’ve come across since putting it together):

      Sub Piano – Bonus Track // Max Richter
      Winters Love // Animal Collective
      This is the Way // Devendra Banhart
      We’re Gonna Make It // Little Miss Sunshine Soundtrack*
      Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard // Paul Simon
      That Right Ain’t Shit // The Books
      The Boy with the Arab Strap // Belle and Sebastian
      Sexfaldur // Amiina*
      Theme – Score // Jon Brian (Eternal Sunshine Soundtrack)
      White Winter Hymnal // Fleet Foxes
      Rain // Bishop Allen
      Huddle Formation // The Go! Team*
      Road to Nowhere // Talking Heads
      Wake Up // Humans
      Chinese Checkers // Booker T & The Mgs
      Run On // Moby
      Music for a found harmonium // Penguin Cafe Orchestra
      Be Good (RAC Remix) // Tokyo Police Club
      Green Grass of Tunnel // Múm*
      The Big Ship // Brian Eno*

      *Basically these whole albums work really well for me

      1. ArtsNerd*

        Oh and a FUNNY anecdote:

        My cat is getting a bit older and can’t make the (large) jump up to her favorite shelf at the top of my closet the way she used to. She wanted nothing to do with the stepladder I put in there, so in the interim, I trained her to jump on my back while i leaned over and then up. Well at first I tried to pick her up to put her up there, but I got tired of all the scratches that came with that.

        Now I have a side-table in there the exact same height as my back and it might as well not even exist. Only my back works! If she doesn’t jump on my back to get to her shelf she will surely perish. I’m sure it looks adorable but i live alone so there are no witnesses.

        I basically just lie forward on the table now.


  17. Aspiring Francophone*

    Hi AAM commenters! Longtime reader, rare commenter.
    Exciting news – I quit my job recently and decided to take a year (ish) to move to France! Always wanted to, and hoping the immersion will help me get to fluency.
    Any recommendations for not getting too lazy during the time off? I’m still in an online graduate program so I’ll have deadlines to keep, but the work isn’t usually more than 20 hours/week. I know a few people where I’m living, but not well, and as a natural introvert I’m worried I’ll keep to myself too often. Thinking I’ll try to take a class (art? Fitness?) to get out and about more often. Other ideas? I’m sure a lot of things will come up naturally to fill time, but would love any tips! Merci!

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          It should be lovely… I’m more familiar with the region around Bordeaux though. For me, because I’m a history geek, my fallback would be to find local historic sites that need volunteers. Having someone they can ask for help with visitors that speak your native language would be great for them. Historic sites are often also great for contacting people who do various crafts and their lands are often safe hiking spots.
          Good luck!

          1. Jenny F. Scientist*

            There’s an old fort in Annecy (outside Lyon, I think you can get there by train). Worth a visit!

    1. Anon Anon Anon*

      I would look for a volunteer job! And/or connect with people in a similar program of study there. That way you’ll have professionally oriented relationships with people there, which is not just good professionally but also helps to balance out the social side of things since social life can be more chaotic. But keeping to yourself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. There are many ways to appreciate another country.

    2. Middle School Teacher*

      You might teach ESL, or exchange English lessons for French lessons? That would help you too.

    3. Incantanto*

      Check out the local balfolk scene for friemdly people. Learn some local social dance

    4. Koala dreams*

      You can try a french class, if they are available around there. Also, see if you can find a language exchange partner. In my experience it works the best if you set a time limit for each language, and choose a theme for the next meeting (if you find it easy to talk without a theme you can of course ditch it later). My third tip is to listen to radio and watch tv in french. It’s so easy to find the news from home nowadays, but that won’t help you get fluent. Ask people you meet for recommendations!

  18. matcha123*

    Does anyone have recommendations for affordable pillows/body pillows?
    My bed is a lot harder than I’d like and I have a terrible time getting to sleep and waking up refreshed. I need neck and back support, but dislike pillows that are too hard or soft. Most body pillows or ones with “good” neck support seem to be over $100. I’m weary of buying one, even after trying it at the store, and finding that it doesn’t really work well for me when I sleep. Do I just need to suck it up and set aside the cash for a more expensive pillow(s)?

    1. Anona*

      Maybe a memory foam pillow? I don’t know if they make body pillows but my pillow wasn’t very expensive, maybe $20, and is very supportive and comfy.

      1. BRR*

        I have a shredded memory foam pillow and I like that I can throw it in the dryer to repuff it.

    2. fposte*

      What I did for a body pillow: I bought a casing for a body pillow and put two regular pillows down it lengthwise. It twists in the middle sometimes but is otherwise just fine.

      I’m wondering if a body pillow is what you want, though–if it’s to soften a hard mattress, I’d consider a mattress topper. Where I live you can get pretty inexpensive ones at dollar store type places, so you don’t have to commit to the $100 topper right out.

    3. Not All*

      I would NOT do a memory foam pillow (unless maybe the shredded kind)…they don’t let you move enough & feel like sleeping on a rock to me.

      Have you looked at options for softening your bed? In desperation, I did 2 layers of cheap egg foam on one of my mattresses & it made a huge difference. If you really want to splurge, the real sheepskin mattress pads are AMAZING (incidentally also great for hot flashes because they let air flow under you).

      1. Bethany D*

        We have two foam toppers and it looks a bit silly but OOOOOOOO does it feel loverly! Worth Every Penny.

        For pillows, I rotate between just using a new one; then when it has shrunk to medium-fluffy, I put an old flat pillow under it; then when they both are squashed flat, I buy a fluffy new pillow & start the cycle over again.

    4. Sam Carter*

      I’m weirdly obsessed with pillows and have spent way too much money buying all different kinds. Online reviews don’t always help since one persons too hard is another persons too soft. That said, here are two that I love!

      Cervical contour: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DMC7THH/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o06_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      Body/Pregnancy Pillow (awesome even if not pregnant, great for tv in bed): https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07GXPDBQ8/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        Wow that body pillow looks like something I never knew I absolutely needed!

    5. New Bee*

      If you have any friends with kids, maybe ask if they have a leftover pregnancy pillow you can borrow to try?

  19. LGC*

    Might as well get the running thread off to a…running start. (I’ll be here all weekend. Tip your waiter.)

    Wish me luck – it’s snowing (lightly), and I’m about to try to go out for a long run this morning. After that…the Tokyo Marathon! (Watching/tracking it at least.)

    1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

      I was planning to go out there later today and wasn’t expecting a snow event (for some reason, I read the forecast as rain this morning, not snow) so I hope it doesn’t turn to black ice. Guess I will find out because it’s my last long run before my half marathon in two weeks and running today is my only choice. Hope yours went well!

      Sidetracking here but I’m finding the weather this winter in NYC really annoying. Lots of wind and lots of snow “storms” that dump half an inch of snow — enough to be annoying but not enough to disrupt anything. I wish we’d just get one big storm with 15 inches of snow, get a day off work, and it just gets it all out of its system at once.

      1. LGC*

        I KNOW RIGHT

        It’s actually been hell on our work schedule – two times in the past month we had to close mid-day and things were very up-in-the-air. (And the local loop that I like has been disastrously icy for a large portion of the past month, which has kind of messed with training.)

        I actually ended up staying in this morning (because I’m a wimp) and I’m probably going to switch to tomorrow to go long. The problem was NOTHING was plowed, and it would have been…unpleasant. Hopefully things should be slightly better by now, since it’s mid-day.

        1. The Librarian (not the type from TNT)*

          I think waiting for today will prove to be a good call. I went out around 3 pm and the sun abruptly came out and it got warmer than forecast… nice, but I was overdressed. And the path I was running on was only partially cleared and there were lots of walkers out, walking slowly and several people abreast. I kept having to run into the snow (or slush by that point) to get around them. I got through the run, but I think I expounded as much mental energy as physical energy. It was exhausting and it was one of the rare times I was really looking forward for it to just be over!

          1. LGC*

            The other issue was that I misread the text and apparently they were running today anyway. (Which made it good that I stayed in yesterday morning!)

            The weather itself was pleasant, but kind of slushy when I went out yesterday. This morning was…surprisingly clear for getting a few inches of snow the day before. (And then it’s supposed to snow AGAIN tonight.)

    2. Marion Ravenwood*

      Good luck with your run!

      I did parkrun this morning – 5k in 32:34, my best time of the year so far and only 10 seconds off my fastest parkrun time ever! Just shows the difference running a flat course can make I guess…

      Plus I’ve got a new letter for my alphabet challenge, a B for Stayin’ Alive (three parkruns beginning with B and three with G) and a new time for stopwatch bingo. And technically this counts for my second medal of the year for my virtual running club! So overall I’m pretty chuffed :) My first in-person race of the year is in two weeks – also on a flat course – so I think this gives me a good target to aim for for that.

        1. Marion Ravenwood*

          Essentially a ‘virtual’ run/race is an event that can be run at any time, any day, anywhere in the world (though usually over a period of a couple of weeks, but at a time that suits you). You usually get physical medals, but some people just choose to do the run for the sake of it. The events are based around a particular theme, and some virtual races are also now introducing apps so as you run the race you get snippets of a story or bits of information at particular milestones.

          A virtual running club is then made up of the people who do a particular group of virtual races, often related to a certain theme or fandom. The one I’m in is Harry Potter-related, so all the races and medals are themed around the books. We also run for our houses using a particular app that raises money for charity depending how many miles we run, and each house has goals to meet – number of new members, getting to a particular amount of miles run, race sign ups etc – which give us ‘points’ for the House Cup (you don’t get anything for winning that other than bragging rights, but it’s still fun and I personally find it quite a good incentive to go out and run).

    3. coffee cup*

      Good luck! I am going to go tomorrow, if I feel up to it. I’m also trying to pick a 10k to enter. Someone asked me today if I was doing any this year, and I would like to… but not sure which yet! Maybe a flatter one than Edinburgh, anyway…

      1. LGC*

        Good luck to you as well! I remember you said that Edinburgh wasn’t great, so – yeah – you might want to look for a flatter course.

    4. Jayess*

      Gary Robbins liked my finish line Instagram photo. *heart eyes emoji*

      I came 4th female, 29th overall out of 194 in my 1st race of the season last week! Ended borderline hypothermic, but happy happy happy!

      Obviously lots of things go into a good race, but I strongly recommend the Outside Online “Sweat Science” podcast series, and Alex Hutchinson’s book “Endure,” if you’re looking for some cerebral inspiration about getting into the Pain Cave while on a run. My running partner has also been reading David Roche’s “Happy Runner,” and is enjoying it very much (although it sounds a bit twee to me).

      FKT attempt in slightly less than 2 weeks, which means 3 more days of hammering the training, and then finally, finally, finally rest days. It’s finally stopped snowing here, the sun came out, and while the ground is still icy, I can see it again. Everything is looking rosy!

      1. LGC*

        Holy cow, congratulations on all of that! Good luck on the FKT as well, and be careful! (I’m fine with a lot of things but ice is the bane of my existence.)

        I’m also going to start listening to the Sweat Science podcast (because I don’t listen to enough podcasts already).

  20. Lcsa99*

    Bed-and-breakfasts – if we don’t want to partake in breakfast and don’t want to socialize with other guests, are they an appropriate choice for us?

    My husband and I are planning to visit an area that doesn’t have traditional hotel/motel choices in the immediate vicinity. There are, however, several highly rated B&Bs, but we’ve been hesitant about them for a couple of reasons:

    –We don’t want to socialize with the other guests; we kind of want our privacy. It would be great if the innkeepers were hospitable, but we would kind of want them to stay out of our way.
    –We probably wouldn’t eat breakfast. I generally don’t eat breakfast at all and my husband doesn’t like traditional bacon-and-egg American breakfasts.

    Would an innkeeper generally be understanding of these things? Would the other guests? I’ve watched too many episodes of Newhart and have read too many books that have taken place in B&Bs, so my viewpoint may be skewed here. (If it’s not, we’ll stay in a regular hotel 40 miles outside the area, but we’re hoping to avoid that.)

    To be clear, we’re talking about *traditional* bed-and-breakfasts, not Airbnb. Thanks!

    1. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’ve stayed in B&Bs and never socialized with other guests. You get a room with a lock and mostly I am there or out and about. The innkeeper won’t care if you don’t want breakfast but might put together a “doggie bag” of food if you ask.

      You could look at reviews to see if the particular B&B is different but I haven’t found them to be any more social than a hotel.

      1. Lcsa99*

        That sounds great. And I like the idea of getting something to go – that would let them play host without the pressure of socializing.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      We recently stayed in one for the first time and I had the same worries. It was our anniversary so we wanted our privacy.

      Since a B&B is typically a home converted into an inn, it felt like staying in someone’s house, but with our own bathroom and a locking door. It had a game room with an 1800s billiard table (it’s a historic inn-1764), so people could socialize if they wanted to, but we didn’t run into any guests at all. People were either out or stayed in their rooms. They left cake and cookies in the dining room with very fancy plates and silverware. They had a mini fridge with free water, beer, soda and wine. They also had a community fridge in the kitchen where people could store anything they needed to store, like soda, insulin, whatever.

      The innkeepers didn’t stay in the inn. I believe their house was next door. The only time we saw them was at check-in and they gave us a tour of the house. We didn’t see them again until breakfast time. I don’t know if all inns are like that, though.

      We did have breakfast with everyone else. We thought it would be awkward, but it actually wasn’t. Maybe because we sat at the innkeepers’ table (they host the breakfast and mingle with the guests). The two other people at our table turned out to have much in common with us, so the conversation wasn’t full of awkward pauses. The other table tended to have the younger guests–we’re in our 40s and the others tended towards early 30s. Oh, and I loved how they set the table. It was their fanciest china, serving bowls, silver, homemade jams, crystal, etc. It felt so upscale.

      I would say the one thing that annoyed us was the noise from people using the deck outside to smoke. Our room was right by the door to the deck and we had people across the hall that arrived after 10 pm and went to the deck frequently that night to smoke. They also decided to go up into the attic, which was directly above our room. We could hear them clomping around and saying “this is so f***ing cool!” Since the house was built in 1764, it’s all historic hardwood floors, which means creaky floors and loud footsteps. But we have an old house, too–older than the inn–so we know that’s how it is. Still annoying when you’re trying to sleep, though, and you’ve paid to stay there. I made the suggestion to the innkeepers that they should add a lock to the attic door.

    3. Gerald*

      You can easily avoid other guests and not eat breakfast. My only suggestion would be to tell them, and maybe ask for something easy instead (“We don’t eat a hot breakfast but if possible would greatly appreciate an apple and muffin”)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, this. I forgot to mention that in my long post. The innkeepers specifically said, “We’ll have breakfast at 9 am. If your schedule allows, we’d love to see you.” Not pushy at all.

    4. Madge*

      You’ll be fine at the b&b. They usually aren’t the Newhart experience, they’re often just a homier version of a hotel. Inkeepers know to expect all sorts and the socializing is always optional. Some are big enough that there are lots of little tables for breakfast vs a big family style table. And there’s often continental options or a baked good you could grab on your way out.

    5. Lcsa99*

      This all sounds wonderful, and it’s exactly what we were hoping people would say! Thanks, everyone!

    6. Book Lover*

      I still have waves of embarrassment about a place I stayed in 20 years ago. Was told I could use the phone in the office during the day and when I used it later in the evening got told off by the owner because his kids were asleep and I was making too much noise :(. I am sure you will do just fine though.

      1. Brandy*

        That is definately an anomaly. I’ve stayed in more than 10 B&Bs. The only one that had kids had a separate house- kids were in the main farmhouse and guests were in the inn next door. Only knew there were kids because of the play structure outside and minivan in the drive.

    7. Alex*

      My experience at B&Bs is that you typically only socialize over breakfast–like, the host serves breakfast at a dining room table and people eat it there, and if you happen to eat breakfast at the same time, you chat with the other guests. I’ve never socialized with other guests besides that.

      But no one is going to force you to eat breakfast. You can just tell the host “Oh, we don’t eat breakfast” so they know not to expect you for it, and then just do your own thing.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, it’s best to be very clear about your preferences this is how the innkeeper will insure you have the stay you wish to have.
        It’s fine to say, no breakfast or doggie bag for breakfast or whatever. Just tell them up front so there are no surprises.

        Read the description of your chosen inn very carefully. Each sentence is there for a reason. “We are located next to a dairy farm.” This means expect farm smells. “We are right by the water.” This means there will be activity at the shore and safety equipment all over the place. “We are pet friendly.” If you don’t like pets/have allergies/whatever then this probably not the place for you.

        Inns do screen people, because not every inn is for everyone. That screen happens by way of describing what they are offering and what they are not offering. They want happy customers and they realize that they cannot bend enough to accommodate every desire out there. Being a small business they do not need hundreds of customers at a time, so this works out okay for them.

    8. Not All*

      I’ve stayed in a lot of them because work travel has a tendency to send me places where there isn’t much for traditional hotels. I’ve only run into the “we must socialize” and “we all sit down to breakfast together” a couple times, and it was early on when I didn’t know what to look for.

      Things I *always* verify now:
      -that there is a private bathroom accessed from inside my room (as opposed to from the hallway)
      -that breakfast (if I want it) is a buffet (more like continental style) that is available for a longer time period as opposed to “we will all sit at this long table together at precisely 9am”
      -many are set up with private entrances for each room as well
      -that there aren’t “hours”…I was absolutely shocked when one deadbolted the front access from 10pm – 6am!
      -double-check bed sizes. Anything labeled “historic” and “authentic” has even odds of only having full beds…find when I’m by myself but not good for couples or tall people!
      -check if each room has any individually adjustable climate control options (heat/cool); if not, verify what the thermostat is set to AND what the temperature is in each room since in historic homes those 2 numbers can have only a loose relationship!

    9. LilySparrow*

      You’re a paying guest. You don’t have any social obligation to the host or the other guests.

      The times I’ve stayed in a B&B, I just tell them the night before that I’ll only want yogurt and museli, or maybe a hard-boiled egg for breakfast. Or nothing, just coffee or tea. I get the newspaper or a book and drink my tea & read, then go out for the day to do whatever. Just like if I were in a larger hotel that had a breakfast buffet downstairs.

      I mean, I smile and am generally pleasant and polite in passing. But no need to socialize if you don’t want to. That’s just being an easy low-maintenance guest! No problem there at all.

      If there were other options, the question might be if a B&B was worth the cost. But in your case it sounds like the most reasonable choice anyhow.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      The guests and innkeeper will not care if you don’t want breakfast. (Though it’s polite to explain that so they don’t factor you into the French toast.) That happens all the time just for logistics like leaving early for a hike or meeting.

      I spent the day at a lovely B&B while my spouse and son went on an outing I physically couldn’t hack, and I alternately read on the porch and by the fire and then took a walk. No one talked to me more than they would if we were waiting together for the hotel elevator.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yes, I’d definitely let them know so they don’t waste food.

        I only stayed in one, in Cardiff. They had the family-style breakfast at one table. The rest of the guests were very nice–mostly older English people, so we had some nice conversations about old-timey post-war stuff and I got some details for that book I was writing. I really enjoyed having breakfast with everyone instead of alone, like I would have in a hotel. But it’s not obligatory.

      2. ToBeOrNotToB&B*

        I’ve had all levels of experience. Some that are listed as B&B function much like the anonymity of a larger hotel. Others are “needy” sorts of hosts who are depending on you for company and praise for their homemade artisan muffins. Some are just pleasant and I enjoy getting to know them, but others make me feel like being a guest is a job description (which it is–even with the fondest of family). I call it “guest overhead” and I prefer the anonymous places. If I’m paying them, I don’t want to work that hard being “on”.
        Conversely, even chain hotels at smaller locations can lay the smarm on a little too thick and try to get too cozy. One shortened my name to Mrs. B&B (when it’s correctly NotTo-B&B), and then said it 3-4 times per sentence!
        Hope you have good luck telling them what kind of stay you prefer and having them honor it.

    11. Wulfgar*

      We went to one bed and breakfast in Maine that didn’t even have a formal breakfast. They left a basket of muffins and pastries at our door every morning.

    12. only acting normal*

      I’ve stayed in loads of b&bs in the UK and all over Europe, probably more than hotels, and I’ve only eaten round a single table with other guests at two: one at breakfast, one at dinner (you supplied allergies + preferences in advance and the hosts made everyone who booked it the same gourmet dinner – v nice!). It’s really the exception rather than the rule (here at least, I guess the norm may be different elsewhere). Most have a dining room with lots of little tables, like a cafe. See if their website or trip advisor has pictures.

  21. A.N. O'Nyme*

    We bought a little drinking fountain for the cats (link in reply)! I wonder which one will use it first.

    1. Book Lover*

      Ours likes hers! I put it through the dishwasher weekly and change the filter regularly.

    2. A.N. O'Nyme*

      Update: my cat drank from it earlier, so at least one of them figured it out already

    3. lammmm*

      My mom got me one for our cats. One got freaked out cuz it made noise and refused to go near it. The other sniffed it, then went over to their regular water bowl. We left it out for a day or so, but the cats had no interest in it whatsoever.

  22. Laura H.*

    So Lent is coming and I have about half a bag of dry lentils that I’d like to use for a Friday meal or as a side (used the first half last year for lentils and rice as a Lenten Friday meal.) (yay for shelf-stable legumes!)

    But I don’t cook much. Anyone have a minimal labor lentil recipe that’s not too spicy/ the batch can be made bland and spiced to taste/ tolerance? Side or main dishes appreciated.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      If you Google “baked lentils” you’ll see a recipe on allrecipes (dot) com for baked lentils with cheese. I have basically the same recipe on my blog, which came from my SIL, and she got it from the More-with-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. Mine calls for double the cheese of the allrecipes version. If you don’t want to chop veggies, you can buy frozen carrots, peppers and onions. You can leave the celery out if you want, too. I always leave it out since I’m not a big fan of cooked celery.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Look back up to the request for lunch recipes, I just put one there. :)

    3. Overeducated*

      Mujadarra is tasty – the lentils are cooked with rice and seasonings (not spicy) and you put a ton of fried onions on top. It’s good with salad and yogurt.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That was going to be my suggestion! I make mujadara a lot and often serve it with roasted cauliflower and a yogurt sauce. That stuff is GOOD.

    4. Approval is optional*

      Lentil cottage pie or ‘bolognaise’. Mix the cooked lentils with a bland tomato sauce to start with.
      For the cottage pie, I thicken the sauce with tomato paste, add herbs/spices, add cooked chopped (often leftover) vegetables to the cooked lentils, put in oven proof dish, cover the lentils with mashed potatoes and stick under a grill (US broiler) to brown the top.
      For the bolognaise, thicken the lentils with tomato paste, throw in some herbs/spices and serve with pasta.

    5. D'Euly*

      For me, the key to lentils is not spice but acid. Boil till done with garlic and onions, salt well, then add a good slosh of balsamic vinegar.

    6. Llellayena*

      Lentil soup! It freezes very well so if you cook a big batch you can use it for multiple Fridays.

      1. the neighborhood autist*

        Seconded. Lentils + broth + veg + season to taste. The biggest labor is chopping, and you can even make it in a crock pot. My suggestion is to serve with some kind of bread product.

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        I made a good instant pot lentil soup but they cook so fast it doesn’t really matter.

        Approx recipe:
        Broth (or water)
        Diced celery/onion/carrot
        Salt and pepper
        Dried thyme
        Bay leaves (optional)
        Tomato paste (optional)

        Sauté veg until tender about 5 min. Add garlic and tomato paste and thyme for another 30 sec. Add lentils and broth – simmer until lentils tender.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          This sounds good. I may try to make it on the stove (I don’t have an instant pot).

    7. Middle School Teacher*

      I’m a big fan of lentil salad. Budget bytes has a really good one. No spice in it, as I recall, it’s more like a Greek salad

    8. Cambridge Comma*

      Fry onions. Dice sweet potatoes (maybe 500 g, is that a lb?) and fry for 4 minutes. Pour on veg or chicken stock to cover generously. Add 250 g dry lentils (if they are the orange or yellow kind). Cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes and lentils begin to fall apart. Turn off heat. Stir through a couple of handfuls of washed but not dripping fresh spinach. Serve with rice.

    9. Iron Chef Boyardee*

      “Lent is coming and I have about half a bag of dry lentils that I’d like to use for a Friday meal or as a side”

      So I guess it is, in fact, okay to eat lentils on Lent.

      (Harvey Pekar fans will get it.)

      1. Laura H.*

        I don’t understand the reference but the similarity in sound certainly made me giggle while typing the question.

    10. Anonforthis*

      I recently made a delicious lentil/daal veggie stew with carrots, cauliflower, and a dash of coconut milk to make it a little creamy. Spices included salt, pepper, and a little turmeric (I also used curry powder, but you might want to omit this or just use a little if you don’t like spice.)

    11. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      A little outside the box, but I really like lentil sloppy Joes. Saute some diced veggies (celery, onion, carrots, and peppers are good) until they start to soften. Add lentils and enough veggie broth, canned tomatoes with juice, or water to cook. Cover and let simmer until the lentils are tender. Stir in a can of your favorite sauce, and let it simmer uncovered for a few minutes if it needs to thicken.

  23. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Also I’m on a train and someone clearly never heard of earbuds. I can hear the bad acting from three rows away.

    1. A.N. O'Nyme*

      “Everyone thought it was good!” Well they definitely weren’t talking about your acting, that’s for sure.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Is…is this person watching porn on the train? Because that’s what it sounds like. Conducter is on the way, though.

        1. UN Owen*

          Won’t be surprised if they are. I once saw a post complaining about a woman who watched porn on the train. She used earbuds . . . but the glass window behind her reflected the screen, so people knew she was watching porn anyway.

          1. A.N. O'Nyme*

            There are times and places to watch porn. “anywhere in public” is not among those.

    2. UN Owen*

      Ugh, this is the worst. There’s always at least one person like that in my commute, so I feel you.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Yeah. it’s even more annoying to me because you choose to be inconsiderate. Headphones don’t have to be expensive, people.

      2. Marion Ravenwood*

        Same. For some reason in London it seems to always be the people listening to music with offensive/misogynistic lyrics as well…

    3. Traffic_Spiral*

      I’ve stopped suffering in silence for this and will straight-up say “excuse me, could you use your headphones?” They always remember to turn it off.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I still regret not saying something snippy to the lady who watched videos without headphones on the 50 minute shuttle to the airport.

    5. MissGirl*

      I was on the train yesterday sitting across from two seemingly drunk guys. I figured with it being 7 am, I’d give them benefit of the doubt they were just overly happy morning people. Until they passed the vodka bottle back and forth. Sigh, never been the recipient of so many fist bumps.

  24. Loopy*

    Reworking my budget this weekend and trying to find balance between savings and fun money. I’m fortunate to be pretty comfortable but also still want to be smart about my money- I have a significant fear of never being able to retire. For context, I’ve had a 401k since 25, have an independent IRA I started last year, but I think I’m still about 1-2 years behind where I want to be- I’ll be 31 in June.

    Right now, I’ve been spending a lot on baking, in impractical ways (buying expensive ingredients and lots of tools I’ll maybe not use regularly), but the fulfillment, excitement, and sense of accomplishment it’s resulted in has been far beyond any other hobby I’ve ever had. I really want to find a way to keep it up at the level I’ve been doing.

    On the other hand, husband is miserable at work and I want to be able to save now in case he needs to take a paycut for his own happiness and health. I know no one can tell me exactly how to rework my budget but has anyone else ever struggled with finding the balance? If anyone has any commiseration or wisdom its appreciated. I know it’s a good problem to have but also I do want to be smart and thoughtful about how I approach it.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I sympathise.

      I’ve had to rework my budget and my €40 years that I spent on books every month has had to be cut until I can get back to a decent level and it’s really disappointing, but since you’ve got all the fancy baking equipment, use the cheaper products for difficult bakes so that you can get the same fulfilment but it won’t be the end of the world if something goes wrong.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I live in Spain and I don’t much like reading Spanish books as it takes me forever, so no library cards for me sadly.

          It’s not as bad as it sounds, to be honest. I have a huge pile of unread books that will take me all year to read but I enjoy buying books for the instant gratification.

          1. Traffic_Spiral*

            I’m also somewhere without a good library and I’ve spent a good deal on books, so no judgement. Eventually I only let myself buy them used from flea markets and stuff. Now I just need to break my habit of liking to read on the balcony/patio of a nice bar that serves me wine, and it’ll stop being so expensive.

            1. ..Kat..*

              If your library has ebooks and you have a device that can read them, your library can save you money.

              1. Lemonwhirl*

                Yes +1 on this. I still have a library card from when I lived in the US. I am able to borrow e-books from the library in the US.

      1. Loopy*

        Ohhh I’ve done that. I used to have a monthly book budget and would buy at least a few per month. It’s hard to hear about new books you really want to read and not be able to run out and buy them, even with a pile of unread ones at home (I have such a pile and am still tempted to buy the new books I hear about). I have gotten used to it though. I have to limit how closely I follow the book community on twitter/my favorite authors, which is sad, but really helps with the temptation!

        Do you now ay fellow reader who would be interested in a informal book swap where you all trade books?

    2. Aspiring Chicken Lady*

      An easy first step is to do an automatic direct deposit of 5-10% of your paycheck into a separate savings account. Pretend the tax rate or health insurance just went up, and get used to the new amount coming home with you
      Then look at a typical month’s spending. Some credit cards even do a breakdown for you, but you could also scan through a few statements and add stuff up by store/category.
      If you love ridiculous cooking, don’t give it up — it can put into your fun budget or your eating budget. And maybe it gets shifted into exploring foods that can can be homemade lunch instead of takeout.
      Reduce costs on things you don’t love, but do anyway, or that can be replaced with something cheaper– library books instead of buying, coffee from home instead of Starbucks, consignment shops instead of the mall.
      Make it a joint project so that the two of you are working together on the goal of freeing your spouse from his work nightmare. Every dollar you reduce becomes another fraction of an hour that he doesn’t have to work.
      (When I calculate the costs of things by the number of hours i have to work to get it, and then assign it to the specific work day, it helps me rein things in. “This gourmet waffle iron will cost me one Tuesday afternoon.”)

      1. Loopy*

        Ah this is great advice but I already do put away money automatically into savings! That’s the issue, I’m basically already cut down close to the bare minimum in budgeting. I have a gym membership I rather should keep for health reasons, a modest amount for eating out per month (50 dollars) and a category for “Other” – which is a catch all for things I forget about or that surprise me (oil changes, birthdays, unexpected home purchases).

    3. Argh!*

      Check out the consignment & charity shops for kitchen stuff. A lot of the specialty / gift items wind up there after people get bored with them. If you are really into creativity in the kitchen, this could help you.

      Also, do you have a maker’s market where you could sell baked goods? We have one that includes a “Bearded Baker” and “The Pie Lady.” They both light up when a customer tells them how much they enjoy their products. They also have regular, loyal customers. I have no idea what the profit margin is, but it seems like a good way to enjoy a hobby while reducing the cost. I’m sure their families aren’t eating Wonder Bread & Hostess pies!

      1. Loopy*

        My goodwill is lacking sadly. Everything there is very beat up and the selection is minimal sadly!

        I dont think I have such a thing that I could get into but also selling to the public terrifies me- I couldn’t do it. I cook out of my home kitchen with no food safety certs, no licenses to be a business, and zero protection should something happen. And I’ve also been told that I’d never qualify to use my home kitchen to make things to sell because I have a pet in the home. Alas! But it would be the perfect way to fund my projects!!!

        1. Old Biddy*

          If you’re patient, keep an eye on Craigslist/garage sale listings. My mom is a hardcore garage sale maniac and most of my kitchen stuff is from garage sales. (FWIW I’m 50 and love to bake.) I have Le Crueset cookware in an astonishing range of sizes from her, for example. The only thing I asked her to look for that she hasn’t been able to find at a good price is a stand mixer.
          Depending on what you like to bake, you could also try to focus on technique-heavy recipes with inexpensive ingredients for a while (i.e. bread rather than pies) or give yourself a price limit of how much you’re willing to spend per recipe. If you have access to Costco or something similar, you can get butter, flour, and nuts for a lot cheaper than the grocery store.

          1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

            Seconding the Costco suggestion! One of my friends, an excellent cook who loves doing it, bakes THOUSANDS of (incredibly delicious) cookies every holiday season and buys those giant bags of sugar, flour, etc. by the cart full.

    4. purple otter*

      Yep, at some point, one has saved all they can without cutting into basics (rent, utilities, food) and really, the only way to save more is to make more money in the first place.

      1. Loopy*

        This is so true and probably where I am. But making more money in my field is impossible (my job pays the high end for what I do), and getting another income source would mean I dont have enough time to bake! Alas. But sometimes I need to be reminded of this.

    5. Alternative Person*

      I think you’re on the right track.

      It’s important to balance the long-term future with having fun along the way. I worked out tentative short and long term financial goals and figured out how to achieve them with some wriggle room. I’ve also made things like concerts/festivals/trips/nice things budget line items for a few years now, so it means I have money to have fun, but I have to prioritize what I want which really works for me.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks. I’m actually usually too frugal. Right now, I’m living on about 53% of my take home pay. I just get worried that it’ s a slippery slope if I stop being so strict on savings and I’ll regret it later when I’m out of a job/in a bind. The balance is definitely the struggle for me.

    6. Ali G*

      I’d start with looking at how much you want to save (in addition to your 401k and IRA) every month and work back from there. That way you can allocate to your savings first.

      1. fposte*

        Yup, agree with this. At 31, you have plenty of time, Loopy, but to make the most of that time, why not get some clarity about your expected needs now? You can start with the rule of thumb of aiming for 25x your annual living expenses in savings (if you’re eligible for social security or a pension, deduct the annual income from that from the annual living expenses before you do the 25x). Don’t worry about real or nominal dollars at this stage, and understand that a lot of those savings will come from compounding, not just direct contributions. Play with an online retirement calculator, maybe, like FIREcalc or i-ORP (you can Google for those).

        And because of compounding as well as inflation, the $100 you save now will be tons more valuable to you than the $100 you save at 65. If you’re saving well in your 401k and IRA at 31, you’re doing a good early start that you’ll be glad for later.

        1. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

          Thank you for this. I’m my non 403B savings starting now (at 62 – argh) but the i-ORP planning tool is great. VERY helpful.

      2. Loopy*

        Right now I think I’ve worked out that after deducting 15% for 401k I actually put away about 40% of my monthly income into savings, which sounds insane but my husband and I agree that now is when we will have the most disposable income because we don’t have kids or elderly parents to support and that very much may not always be the case. So it feels like we have this prime savings widow we should maximize because we are in a very fortunate spot and dont want to be blind to that and waste the advantage!