weekend open thread – January 9-10, 2021

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Dreamland, by Nancy Bilyeau. In 1911, an heiress is pressured into spending the summer at Coney Island with her rich family and her sister’s highly sketchy fiancé. There are murders and intrigue and way too much money.

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

{ 1,201 comments… read them below }

  1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

    I’m looking for recommendations for brands that are made in peanut and nut free facilities.

    My mother has developed a serious nut and peanut allergy (got to go to the ER in an ambulance over Thanksgiving weekend, which was definitely something she’d like to not repeat), and her allergist has recommended that she not eat anything even made in a facility that handles nuts or peanuts right now. The issue is that she’s ordering all of her groceries online because of the pandemic, so she can’t always browse and read product labels the way she otherwise would.

    What are some good brands of packaged/convenience foods to look at that are made in nut and peanut free facilities? She is having particular problems finding sources of bread, crackers, or baking mixes.

    (She is also allergic to chocolate and soy, as well as a few other foods, but not so severely allergic that she needs to avoid facilities that even handle those, thankfully.)

    1. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

      Unfortunately I’m not able to help because I’m in the wrong country and don’t know anything about brands sold in your side of the Atlantic. But I have a little question, to help people know which options might be OK for your mother. When you talk about nut free facilities, do you mean that she can’t eat stuff that has a “may contain traces” warning but everything else is OK, or is it even more detective work than that? And another thing that I thought about is that would simply baking from individual ingredients be an option? I mean, I know that peanuts and nuts are absolutely everywhere in the US and a much bigger part of the food culture than in Europe, but it’s hard to imagine how they could contaminate something like wheat flour or sugar…

      1. Teatime is Goodtime*

        Hmm, I think you would be surprised. A facility that processes nuts, say grinding them or cooking them in some way, or even just transporting them, can’t really 100% guarantee that there won’t be cross contamination with anything else they also process there, be that flour or sugar or anything else. Some of this stuff can travel by air and settle, some of it might come from using bins to transport stuff, and some of it might just be a worker making a mistake. Maybe almost all of the time it would be just fine, but maybe not–and maybe that one time is enough to be a problem. For example, I have a family member who has a contact allergy to peanuts. So if one worker was handling something peanutty and then handled even the packaging to something else in the same facility, that could pose a problem for him.

        You’re right that peanuts aren’t everywhere in Europe like they are in the states, but the same is true for other allergens. I have a friend with very severe celiacs and she has to be careful about wheat processing in the same place as other stuff she might like to eat.

        Seven Hobbits: I’m sorry I don’t have great answers for you! I can bug my family member for some suggestions, but that might take a while. I’m hoping other people can come through for you faster.

      2. Batgirl*

        People with severe allergies have to have stuff made in x-free environments. So, I am merely wheat intolerant (not celiac) which means I can afford not to care about the kitchens or factory my stuff is made in as long as it’s not actually made of wheat. This is so lucky for me, because even a single ingredient thing like porridge oats will have been contaminated by wheat since they get ground down and processed on the same machines. My cousin who has a nut allergy has had reactions sometimes because “there may have been a nut in the room”. I know as well, as a gluten free person that baking everything from scratch gets.old.fast.

    2. Pennyworth*

      I don’t have any personal experience but the Children’s Hospital of Orange County (choc dot org) has a list of allergy friendly manufacturers. Just put ‘manufacturers’ in the search box.

    3. Venus*

      What part of the country are you? A lot of food is regional.

      Searching items online might be your best option, based on the experience of a celiac friend. She types in the food and gluten free, and the responses tend to be useful.

    4. Hi there*

      When kiddo had an egg allergy I would buy Enjoy Life cookies. I still think they are delicious. I think I might have seen some baking mixes by them in the store. I don’t recall how strict they were on all the allergens but it is worth a look.

      1. Blue wall*

        Yup was going to say Enjoy Life! They make a lot of products and I believe they are free from the top seven allergens.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Thirding. They’re not just free of, but they’re made in a dedicated facility in some cases.

          For those not in the US – our labeling laws are pretty minimal. “May contain” and “Made in same facility as” aren’t even required, they’re just “courtesy”. I’ve spent a LOT of time on the phone over this type of thing, or in some cases, even verifying things are okay when they’re not labeled as either “May Contain” or “Same facility”. Heck, I consider those at least warnings to put it back on the shelf!

          Also for Seven Hobbits and anyone else dealing with this – check out SnackSafely dot com. They do a lot of the research for you, and update their listings roughly every 4-6 weeks. This is because manufacturers are constantly changing things, and well, they don’t have to give advance warning or smack a big label on anything that says “New Recipe!” or anything like. Our biggest bugger was that up to some point, there was a Hostess cupcake treat that was nut free, peanut free, and otherwise “safe” for my Bug. Then about three years ago, THEY ADDED PEANUT FLOUR TO THE RECIPE. Why? Probably to save money on liability. But explain THAT to a 7 year old….

    5. Thunderingly*

      For bread, try nature’s own or Dave’s killer bread

      Crackers we like the wasa crackers

      Jiffy baking mixes or cherrybrook but honestly, especially with hospitals impacted the way they are right now, I make as much from scratch as possible right now.

      It might be helpful for you to look up support groups (I’m part of one for parents of kids with allergies on Facebook and people share brands they’ve contacted, since labels don’t necessarily include information on allergens in facilities).

      Good luck to you and your mother!

    6. Ali G*

      Try Thrive Market. They are a source for all stuff Whole30 which might help (no peanuts, soy, corn, etc.).

      1. Reba*

        I was going to suggest this or Vitacost. She may have better luck with a retailer like that, rather than a grocery store/instacart type option.

        Thrive is very easy to shop but requires a membership. Vitacost can be a lot to wade through but lets you sort by all kinds of “free of” options, and they list ingredients.

    7. university minion*

      Unless it’s a brand that specifically markets itself as catering towards the severely allergic, it’s hard to 100% know for sure. For example, I know the snack food brand I used to work for is nut free, but I wouldn’t have any idea about copackers they might use, except that the company’s food safety folks have been in there and they don’t screw around. As a rule, in food manufacturing, if you make foods where some contain allergens and some don’t, you run you allergen free products first and allergen containing ones last. If you don’t and you have to go from non-allergen -> allergen -> non-allergen, doing a wet wash to clean the line mid-run is a pain, is expensive and something you really, really want to avoid.

      Crackers are going to be tough unless it’s from a brand specifically manufacturing and marketing to allergy-free folks. There are two reasons for this. The first is that in many bakeries, the crackers are made and then sandwich crackers are assembled in the same facility (different floors, but same facility). They probably also do cookies. There will be dairy, peanut and maybe eggs there. Second, the easiest substitution when making gluten free crackers is nut flour. So… you’re going to have a hard time with crackers. On the bright side, crackers are REALLY easy to make at home. Once you make your own cheese straws once, there’s no going back to store-bought.

      I would stick with potato/veggie chips and pretzels, personally. Both tend to be run on equipment and in facilities that aren’t used for anything nut-containing.

      Not to say it could never happen, but I don’t know that there would ever be a reason for flour and peanuts to be processed in the same facility. Different commodities, different processes, different storage, minimal if any overlap in where they’re grown/processed.

      Bob’s Red Mill is the standard for flour & baking mixes – they’ve done small-run, limited ingredient and niche products for years and do it very well, but you have to read labels carefully, since they tend to do traditional and whatever-ingredient-free versions of the same product and I find the packaging/text a bit busy.

      1. TL -*

        If it’s packaged in a facility that handles one of the big 8 allergies, they have to disclose on the package.

        1. university minion*

          Not in the USA. A manufacturer must state if a food contains one of the big 8, but not if it’s present in the plant. As an example, the facility I worked in only handled dairy. Product containing a seasoning with dairy in it had a “Contains Dairy” label. The plain product did not carry a “processed in a facility that has dairy” label. It’s not required to. The plain product also didn’t say, “Dairy free”. All product was labelled “gluten free”, but that’s a marketing thing, not a matter of law. We did equipment and finished product testing for both gluten and dairy and could furnish records of that testing.
          When you see “Processed on equipment that handles x, y, z, p, r, q” or “may contain x, y, z, p, r, q” labelling that’s because it’s not practical for the business to get more specific or they have no way to guarantee that an allergen isn’t present (restaurants, small businesses).

          BTW, 7 Hobbits… the Neogen Reveal allergen tests are really easy to use and sensitive to 5PPM. Reveal is pricey but gives you results in 10 minutes.

    8. *daha**

      Consider Jiffy Mix Baking Mix. Their FAQ says “We do not use any peanuts or tree nuts in any of the products manufactured in our facility. No outside food is allowed in production areas.” They sell from their website. Good luck!

    9. MMB*

      Ener-G Bread products. Soy free, nut free, gluten free, kosher. You can buy them at ener-g dot com. I have to purchase for multiple people with a range of severe allergies and this is the one brand that they can all tolerate and like.

    10. LibbyG*

      By US federal law, anything manufactured in the same plants as any of the “big eight” allergens has to be labeled as such. So there won’t be many peanut/tree-nut free labels because manufacturers are already essentially doing that.

      I do recommend Sunbutter, though. I’d eat that stuff even without a nut allergy in my household.

      1. Thunderingly*

        You would think that would be the law, but unfortunately it isn’t. The law is that manufacturers must label for ingredients they intentionally add to their products. Labeling for possible cross contamination is done according to company policy.

    11. Jay*

      My niece has a severe nut allergy and then became a vegan on top of it. While looking around for foods she could eat on a very restrictive diet, we found something called Biscoff Cookie Butter. It seems to have no allergens and is objectively delicious. To the point that I can’t have it around my own home because the couple of times I tried, I ended up just sitting down and eating the entire jar.
      Also, some of the assorted Meal Plan type boxes have allergen free options, or so I’ve heard.

    12. Writer Mouse*

      We like the EnjoyLife brand which has a bunch of baking and sweets and protein bite etc. products for this allergen household (GF, DF, and the chocolate protein bites have sunbutter not peanut)

    13. TL -*

      You can usually find the allergen information online – it’s generally just a picture of nutrition info + ingredients, which are where allergens are. The bigger the brand, the easier the information is to find. You can call ask for products made in-store, or call the manufacturer if you can’t find it on the website.

      I’ve done online grocery shopping with allergies and it should limit her options only slightly if she’s buying from a decent-sized regional or national brand.

    14. Lindsay*

      I highly recommend Enjoy Life products! They make allergen free foods such as cookies, granola bars, chips, etc and are free of all major allergens and dairy and gluten, etc.

      1. Lindsay*

        I ate their stuff when I tried the low fodmap diet and it really helped me get through that time so I didn’t feel totally deprived lol.

    15. ThatGirl*

      I can’t speak to baking mixes but I can say for sprinkles, frosting, etc Wilton labels pretty well, so if peanuts are not mentioned on the label they are not in the facility (but not all of their facilities are nut free).

    16. MatKnifeNinja*

      There are no good brands that you can count on. This is coming from someone with a peanut/nut allergy.

      The only brand I would trust without checking the label is SunNut butter products.

      Bake goods are the absolute worse. I don’t believe there is one national company that is truly peanut free/nut free.

      If mom has to be this level of stringent, better to shop absolutely local. You can talk to a human and feel out if they are legit or not.

      Check out kidswithfoodallergies dot org. There is always someone there who is posting what companies are doing what. There MAY be a large commercial brand has baked goods/mixes made in that environment. Checkout Bob’s Red Mill. It’s been ages since I used them, but who knows?

      Mom is going to have to read labels. There is nothing easy about this. You might have to pick up/get delivered items from a local bakery. Or make up mixes from scratch from trusted sources.

      It sucks. I carry 3 Epi-pens. Good luck.

      ETA: Have mom call up that allergist and ask if they have any sort of company list.

  2. Job Carousel*

    Does anyone have experience with trying to sell their home during the pandemic? Any tips/tricks for keeping everyone safe during showings, picking virtually-savvy realtors, or otherwise adapting to the current trying circumstances? Do virtual showings predominante these days? Do you tend to get only more serious buyers coming on-site for showings?

    My current position ends in June and I’m anticipating a cross-country move around July, so I’m planning to list my place for sale around March in hopes of selling by July. I live alone, and thankfully by then I’ll have received both doses of a COVID vaccine (I’m a healthcare provider). I’m in a hot real estate market, so that should hopefully help things along…but I still worry about difficulties selling associated with COVID. Any advice would be much appreciated!

    1. Forrest Gumption*

      I just bought a house, and every realtor I encountered during the process was very vigilant about COVID. All showings are appointment-only with masks required, and disinfection was done between showings. Open houses are either non-existent, or strictly limited in terms of how many people can be in the house at one time. And you have to sign a COVID waiver (at least in CA) before a showing. All the signing of documents was done virtually, and all meetings were done by phone. So I don’t think you have much to worry about.

      1. Job Carousel*

        That’s really reassuring to know, thank you! (I have two easily-stressed cats and a small condo with not a lot of “hiding places” for them when they get stressed, so I was hoping to avoid open houses anyway!)

      2. voyager1*

        The market is still a sellers market. For your house to sell it needs 3 things:
        1. Show well
        2. Be easy to show
        3. Be priced right.

        If you or your realtor can’t do the first two, the last one will be irrelevant. Google and research your realtor. Don’t go with a discount brokerage. Good luck.

        1. Job Carousel*

          Thank you! I definitely won’t be going with a discount brokerage with COVID – I definitely will be looking for one that provides full service with high quality/well-lit photos, virtual tours, etc.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yup, this. Just be realistic about the price and at least kind of stage it (i.e., clean it and make it look like someone could live there) and you should be fine.

    2. KiwiApple*

      I was in a semi lockdown in the UK when I sold mine.

      I decided to get the agents to show it to viewers, so I needed to be out the house 10 mins before appointment so they could clean the touch areas and 10 mins after. I had the windows open for air flow. I also paid extra to do a 360 virtual tour in case no in person viewings could happen (as things change so quickly here). The agents I met with at my home were all masked, 2 out of 3 did not touch anything and 1 also wore disposable gloves. They all stayed at least 1m away from me and I had the windows open for air flow. There was no open viewings, it was 1 household/person per viewing and booked in advance.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you for sharing your experience! It’s nice that your agents did some cleaning and disinfecting before and after every viewing!

    3. Dwight Schrute*

      I’m not sure how relevant this is, but you said you’re in a hot market. I don’t even know if it will take two months to sell your home honestly. A friend of mine just moved and their house sold the day they listed it. Another friend is looking at buying and pretty much all of the houses she’s looking at are selling within days of being on the market if not hours. It’s a tough buyers market right now

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you! This is a great point I’ll bring up with realtors to see how far in advance they think I’ll need to list to realistically sell by July. While my area is very hot right now, my place is a 1 bedroom (+ tiny office/den) condo, so realistically I know that it’s only going to appeal to a smaller market segment (singles, couples w/o kids or elderly relatives at home) compared to a more versatile 2- or 3-bedroom place. When I was buying back in 2017, a lot of 2-3 bedroom homes were flying off the market the day they were listed, but the place I bought had been on the market for several months because of the more limited market appeal.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          You can also start looking at comparable homes yourself online, to get a sense of how fast they sell and how much they go for. This is definitely something a good realtor will be knowledgeable about, but you can also build your intuition by looking yourself. The conventional wisdom is that people tend to move at the end of the school year so the housing market is somewhat cyclical, but that probably wouldn’t apply to a 1BR.

          1. Job Carousel*

            I’ve been kind of addicted to Zillow for years for that reason! There are no other condos in my building (~100 units) for sale right now, but there are several in my neighborhood, though not a ton of 1 BRs. It seems like the 2, 3, and 4 BR condos sell pretty quickly! The listings seem to disappear within a month or two. Unfortunately my state isn’t one where final selling prices are publicly published and searchable online, so I’ll have to depend on my realtor for some more insight into a realistic price.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I live in Detroit proper which has a housing market infamously known for $500 houses…and even here, anything appropriately priced in a decent neighborhood (we do have those in the city–even really nice neighborhoods!) gets in a multiple offer situation.

    4. Coco*

      I sold my condo a few months ago. The market was less hot than it is now and an offer was made and accepted within a week. I had 1 open house that lasted for a few hours.

      The showing agent supplied wipes and sanitizer during the open house and I cleaned and disinfected before and after. There seems to have been no ill effects.

      I’ve been looking for a house for a few months and only 1 had to cancel showings due to covid and needing disinfecting. Because of the need for contact tracing, people are better at signing into open houses, viewings. Some open houses limit the number of people allowed in the house at a time to and there are lines out the door.

      If you have an appealing home and in a hot market it may have offers in a day or so. I’ve put offers on 4 homes well above asking price with no contingencies and have had them all rejected. One house I put an offer on had 17 others.

      Wishing you luck in your sale and move.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you Coco! Congratulations on selling your condo so quickly! It’s great to know that showing agents brought disinfectant.

        I live in a similar market to yours, it sounds like — here too it’s not uncommon for desirable properties to have many full-price or above-asking-price offers the day they go on the market, sight-unseen by potential buyers!

    5. Chaordic One*

      Just before COVID hit my sister bought a house in a (what was then) hot market primarily based on video and video phone walk-throughs while she was away caring for our elderly parents in a different state. She had a lot of trust in her realtor and had dealt with them when she bought her previous house. She also hired a home inspector to go through the house and send her a report, but she had not actually been in it or seen it in person when she made the offer. Many realtors are having virtual open-houses and using videos to weed out the looky-loos.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you, that’s really reassuring to hear! Both because of COVID and my cats, I really would rather not have to vacate my home for hours on end during open houses that attract the looky-loo type and not serious buyers. I’m definitely going to go with a seller’s agent who can offer videos and virtual open-houses as part of their package.

    6. Batgirl*

      I had a very ‘successful at waking me up happily’ sleep app on my phone which involved leaving your phone on the mattress. It would track your movements and choose to wake you at a moment when your sleep was at it lightest. I was stunned at how happy I was to get up, for a gentle twinkly alarm even if it woke me half an hour on the early side of the eight hour sleep I’d requested. Usually I am not really compos mentis before noon.. Unfortunately the sleep app was something like 30 quid a month.

    7. bunniferous*

      I’m a real estate broker (I don’t deal with buyers) but I can tell you that your local real estate associations are very prepared for selling during the pandemic. We are all given specific directions on how to do the job safely. I would call the agent you plan to use and ask them how they are handling the pandemic-I can tell you that a lot of tasks including signatures, etc can and are being done virtually. Your local real estate association is where I would start if I were you-they can tell you what they are recommending to local agents as far as best practices.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you, that’s a great tip! I definitely want to go with a seller’s agent who is able to do their job safely and works for a tech-savvy enough group that can provide virtual tours to reach potential buyers versus doing things old-school!

    8. Rick T*

      We closed on a house in November so we saw everything already mentioned. We chose to close in person but all 3 of us were masked the whole time even in the escrow agent’s office. All other documents were handled electronically.

      1. PT*

        We went to contract last February but closed in April, so half of the transaction was done under “normal” circumstances and the other half was done under semi-lockdown. It was just us and the lawyer in masks, and they apologized for not having their outdoor tent fully set up yet. They had an empty pop-up shade tent set up when we walked in. Apparently the plan was to kit it out with folding tables, and they would be doing all in-person transactions from there going forward.

    9. RC Rascal*

      I sold my mother’s home. It had condition issues and was As-Is, but in a good area. The house was empty when I showed it but still contained a few items that a person might need at a house. House was listed with a major national realty brokerage, shown by appointment only, and had an app controlled lockbox on it.

      The people who looked at the house was absolute animals. Here is what happened; all of this was done on appointments accompanied by buyer’s agents, who were supposedly supervising:

      House was vandalized; a large hole was torn in the asbestos linoleum floor that was otherwise intact. Hole was torn with a pry bar, this was no accident.,

      Felony burglary was committed; a 40 lb tool box was stolen as well as a 4 ft high garden tool that was heavy. These weren’t the kind of items that could be pocketed and slipped out.

      Fuse box was tampered with in order to shut off the furnace. (Furnace was pretty new). This was in early December; fortunately I caught that before pipes froze.

      I suspect the furnace tampering was committed by someone who made an offer in hopes to negotiate a better price. I ended up getting more than 10 offers, so no idea who it was who actually did it.

      This led to a dispute with agent and broker who claimed no responsibility for what happened in the house. After some Google searching I was able to confirm this is pretty much par for the course for client/agent/broker disputes.

      I would not show a house right now without installing a Ring doorbell and hiring a private security guard to be on premise representing YOU. The listing agent will NOT do that.

      I realize your current concern is primarily the virus but in my experience the current climate of lawlessness is spilling over into how your private property will be treated during showing.

      1. bunniferous*

        I sell foreclosures (which are as is) and unfortunately we do run into the types of issues you mention in a vacant house. You should be able to tell just who was in a house WHEN if you are using a Supra type lockbox, but your idea of a Ring doorbell is not the worst thing I have ever heard of. As to your particular situation if you are able to narrow down who was showing the house during the time period the damage happened you can contact your state Board of Realtors and file a complaint.

        1. RC Rascal*

          Thanks. It was a Supra box. There is a list of who was in it but law enforcement wouldn’t pursue.

      2. Job Carousel*

        Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry that you had that experience — that’s horrifying!

        In my case I am planning to still live in my condo when it’s up for sale, and when it’s being shown to hang out for 10-20 minutes in my condo’s common areas so I can return right away after showings to make sure my cats are OK and no obvious theft/vandalism has occurred. My condo building is pretty upscale and has many security cameras at all the major entrances, and you have to pass through those to get to and from any interior hallways where our condos are housed. I’m also hoping that in-person showings will be relatively few (I won’t agree to open houses while I still live here) and be limited to serious buyers who already viewed photos/virtual tours beforehand.

    10. Stephanie*

      I’ve been the person looking at houses during the pandemic. Main precautions I noticed sellers were taking were to limit or prohibit open houses and require that folks be masked up (I believe Michigan has a mask mandate anyway for in-person real estate transactions). Some people put out hand sanitizers and/or gloves. My realtor scheduled the viewings, but they did say there were intentionally large gaps between appointments.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Thank you, that’s good to know! We’ve got a state-wide mask mandate in all public areas, too — not sure if that extends to real estate viewings, but I’d hope so. As I mentioned upthread, my place is a 1 bedroom condo, so I’m expecting that interested buyers will probably be people living alone or couples without kids. So it’ll probably be 2-3 people at each viewing (including the buyer’s realtor), rather than huge groups, kids running around without masks, etc.

    11. Drtheliz*

      Spouse and I bought in November (well, agreed to buy in November. Paperwork is ongoing. Love you Germany.) All the viewings we did were 100% open-air – all windows and doors, don’t take your coats off. Most of the communication was by phone, and the actual contracts were mask-only in a ventilated room.

    12. SofiaDeo*

      I have air sanitizers that sanitize surfaces without touching anything. This tech was originally developed by NASA for the Space Station. I get them online hypoair.com. The company has other products at airoasis.com. too. One unit, the Boomerang, can cover up to 2500 square feet and has holes in the back so it can be mounted unobtrusively up near the ceiling (weighs 2.5 lbs), making it more difficult to carry off by a thief. The Air Angel has a car lighter jack as well as an A/C adapter; I keep this one in my car but can carry it inside a hotel, office, etc. Unfortunately its small size means a determined thief could put it in a pocket. There are units that can easily be installed into your HVAC/furnace if you have your own dedicated unit, no one could easily steal it & it is small and would easily pack/transport to the new place.

  3. Aphrodite*

    I have purchased a lovely–well, it will be lovely when the renovations are done–mobile home in a 55+ park. One of the renovations is that I intend to replace almost all the window coverings. Currently, they are heavy golden brown drapes. I considered shutters but the windows are too narrow to suit the newer ones with their depth. Now I am back to drapes but in white to match the painted ceilings and walls..

    I found Half Price Drapes and find I like their reviews and their offerings. I want the faux silk dupioni drapes for the living room, textured faux cotton or linen drapes for the family room, and special handpainted drapes from Society6 for the guest bedroom. (Master bedroom drapes are perfect as is. Smaller windows will eventually get sheers in white or green.)

    However, all window covering stores require that you buy your drapes from them if you want their staff to measure and hang.. This takes the pricing out of my range. It’s understandable, but what I need and am trying very hard to find is an independent person who would charge for measuring and, if desired, for installing drapes you get yourself online. The problem is–there is no one I can find.

    I have posted on two local websites asking if anyone knows any independent (non-store) experienced drapes person who might offer one or both of these services while I get the drapes at good prices online. So far, zero responses. So if any of you have that kind of experience this is a business opportunity looking desperately for an “owner.”

    1. Asenath*

      When I needed a new window shade, it was actually a local window covering store person who gave me the name and phone number of someone they sometimes hired to install them – even though I didn’t buy the shade from them. So in some cities at least, there are people out there who offer this service. I don’t know how you’d find one if neither the store nor websites can provide a name.

      1. Jay*

        You might also check with Home Depot or Lowes. They use independent contractors to various kinds of installations and they might be willing to help you. We have a couple of fabric stores that cater to DIY upholsterers and drape-makers and they also have people they can recommend.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      A sewing store might have directions on how to correctly measure a window in preparation to make drapes.
      I understand you are not making the drapes yourself, but the instructions on how to measure would still be useful. Perhaps someone in your pod can help?

      I have made my own curtains for years. I find cloth to be very forgiving if I make small mistakes.

      Now replacing the windows themselves is something I let other people measure. I did not attempt that one.

    3. Generic Name*

      Is there a reason you don’t want pre-made curtain panels? They are widely available and can be quite affordable.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I would call places that offer an adjacent service, and ask if they can refer you to someone. Places to start: commercial blinds/window covering businesses (like Hunter Douglas). Stores that offer “in home consultations” with buyers that do measurements, and then install the products you purchase (like Crate and Barrel or that ilk). Retail hardware stores, painters, etc.

      For all of them, I would ask to speak to the manager of the most relevant department, explain your situation briefly, and ask them if they know of any handyman, installer, or independent contractor who could assist you. A lot of those places subcontract work like that and have a list of people.

      Another option is Taskrabbit. You can select the skill-set you’re looking for, and read reviews of different providers.

    5. LALinda*

      Lots of great leads for your task. Another resource if you live in or near a big city—contact a real estate staging service for referrals. They probably have a list of contract workers they use.

    6. Melon*

      Nbi is a service that connects independent installers with homeowners. Blindinstallation dot com. The big DIY blind stores use their database when you need someone to measure.

  4. Skeeder Jones*

    I am a single person who lives in an expensive county of an expensive state and I’ve been working from home for a little over 3 years. My entire team is remote. My family used to live close by so that was some of the motivation for staying, as was a dislike of moving. But I have a studio apartment that I pay a lot of money for and with the need for a permanent office space, as well as a love of cooking, baking and crafting, it gets tight here. My money will go so much further in other places.

    I’ve been exploring my options for where to move and for a variety of reasons, I am close to deciding to move from CA to the Chicago area. I have some family there and I have close relationships with them. It’s really the one place left where I have a concentration of family members and the cost of living is so much less. It is one of the states where I can continue with my employer. I won’t be moving until June due to my current lease.

    I’m interested in hearing from other people who have made cross-country moves as a single person and specifically:
    • What are the things that made the move easier?
    • What would you do differently?
    • Did you encounter any pitfalls?
    • Is there anything you wish you had known before you started planning?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Job Carousel*

      I’m also a single person planning to move (hopefully back to around the Chicago area too, which is where I’m from) at around the same time this year too, so this is on my mind as well! Here are some pearls from my most recent cross-country move from a few years back:

      – it’s never too early to start purging/putting items into labeled boxes. If you’re obsessive about organization like me, you can go so far as to create spreadsheets on your computer/online that list what’s in each box, so things are easier to find when you arrive. This can also be a good chance to make a home inventory for insurance purposes. This may help you file a claim should big ticket items get damaged/lost during the move, and even if not, a relatively current home inventory is always a good thing to have.

      – it’s also not too early to buy/stock up items to help with your move. January is when a lot of storage bins go on sale (New Year’s resolutions, etc.), and during my last move, probably 70-80% of my items including clothes, kitchenware, decor, etc. (pretty much anything light) were packed into 20-gallon plastic totes. Similarly I saved up bubble wrap and other reusable protective packaging materials from online orders for a few months before my move to help secure breakable items during my move.

      – to protect yourself, you might want to take photographs of any big furniture you’ll be moving, as well as the floors and walls of your studio apartment, before movers arrive to load up your moving van. When I moved a few years ago, the movers on both ends unfortunately caused damage both to my home and my furniture. The worst was a foot-long, deep scratch in the hardwood floor of the home I was selling at the time. I witnessed the incident and took photos after the fact and complained to the moving company, who eventually compensated me (after much back and forth)…but my argument would have been stronger if I had a before photo as well.

      – it can take a surprisingly long time to get appliances delivered to your new place, if it already doesn’t come with what you need, so you may need to plan far ahead. For instance, I didn’t take my old washer/dryer set with me when I moved last, and the place I was buying didn’t come with them. I ordered my new set probably a full month before my move, so that I had time to shop around for good deals, but the soonest they could be scheduled for delivery was several days after I moved in. If you wait, you can still get fast delivery on an in-stock option…but it may not be the make/model/price you want.

      – similarly, it may take advance planning if you want to donate large furniture items that you’re leaving behind in CA. I remember during my last move calling Goodwill to see if they could pick up some used-but-in-good-shape furniture items from me the week before I moved, and they told me their next pickup window was weeks away. Unfortunately that meant my furniture ended up in the dumpster, which I felt badly about.

      – if you do donate items of value, keep track of what you donate (and document with photos/receipts), since that can potentially be a tax deduction (if you itemize rather than take the standard deduction). You can find value estimates of items on Goodwill’s website, on Turbo Tax’s ItsDeductible Online, and other places online.

      – my last two cross-country moves were self-funded, DIY affairs (I packed everything myself, hired movers by the hour on either end to pack up and unload a rental truck, and drove the rental truck cross-country myself, hitching my car behind it). They were such nerve-wracking experiences. I’m hoping this time around, my new job (once I get one) will pay for everything/most everything. Even if they don’t, I think I’m going to splurge and at least having a moving service/pod company do the transportation bit, for everything that doesn’t fit in my car. (There are even full-service moving companies that will pack everything for you in addition to transporting it for you…which despite my control freak tendencies sounds awfully appealing because I hate moving so much!)

      – make sure to fill out the USPS change of address forms before you move, so your mail gets forwarded. This service is free, and I believe USPS also offers extended mail forwarding for a cost. You can also be proactive and make a list of all the other places that have your current (billing) address — credit card companies, banks, online subscription services, online retailers, etc. — and proactively change them to your new address once you know it so you don’t experience delays in receiving auto-shipped packages. If you have paper checks, you can also order new checks with your new address in advance, or have checks printed with just your name/phone number and no address.

      1. Filosofickle*

        I second the spreadsheet idea! In my last move I didn’t do a spreadsheet but I did do a loose inventory where every box was labeled and numbered, and a basic description of every box’s contents was written down on a master list. I was doing a Chicago-SF move with a couple months of storage in the mix so if a box got lost or damaged, I wanted to have a record of what was missing for insurance purposes.

      2. Texan In Exile*

        You also might be able to find a local “Buy Nothing” group on facebook, where you can both give away things you don’t want and ask for supplies you lack.

        Look for “BuyNothingProject” on facebook.

        (I got rid of ten years’ worth of old magazines that my husband had been keeping in the attic. You would be amazed at the things people will take if they are free.)

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Yes, I will hopefully be getting rid of a bunch of stuff, though there is a lot of stuff I plan to take with me for a bunch of reasons. I’ll have to check out the buy nothing groups here before I go and there after I get there!

      3. Skeeder Jones*

        Thanks for taking the time and effort to provide so much information. It’s scary doing something I’ve never done before so it helps to hear success stories from others. That’s exciting to hear you are moving to the Chicago area as well. I get a little more excited every day that I sit with the decision.

      4. Lizzo*

        No specific advice, but I wanted to welcome both of you back to Chicago in advance. :-) #MidwestIsBest

    2. Well...*

      Seconding this question! I’m in the horrible predicament of needing to do yoga, hating yoga (but less than my hatred for other exercise), and the only time I’ve ever been able to consistently do yoga successfully is if I do it in the morning before work. But getting up early to do something I don’t like is the woooorrrssstt and does drain my motivation. I wish I could turn myself into a yoga morning robot and regain control of my executive function 1 hour after I’ve gotten out of bed.

    3. Blue wall*

      It’s super expensive to hire movers and a pain to rent a truck yourself. I moved this summer from the south to the mid-Atlantic; I ruthlessly sold all my furniture and many many many of my other possessions that didn’t make sense cost-wise for me to move. This took longer than expected. I ended up just driving my stuff up; it fit in two loads in my Honda Fit. So that was two trips back and forth (a month apart) with unloading into a storage unit, but the pricing on movers and even renting a uhaul for myself (and with the uhaul, figuring out how to move my car) wasn’t worth the value of my stuff.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I had a similar experience. I ended up just deciding that it was a good excuse to get a fresh start with new things. I didn’t want to deal with any of the movers horror stories I’ve heard and pay for the experience.
        About a month out I started selling stuff. Whatever I didn’t sell at the end and wouldn’t fit in the car went to one of those junk hauler charities.
        And, not much fit in my Subaru, lol. It was really nice to get such a fresh start and let go of things I’d been hauling around since my freshman year of college (I cannot describe the sheer joy at having a matching set of measuring cups to replace the ones I scrounged individually years prior).
        But also some stuff I wish I’d just put in a box and shipped to myself. Printers, etc ended up being way more expensive to replace.

        My friend who has an SUV did a pretty slick thing: loaded all her belongings into the SUV and paid to have it shipped cross country. Got on a plane and met her car there.

        1. More Coffee Please*

          Just wanted to share my experience with shipping a car twice – they said the car had to be totally empty. So shipping belongings in a car might not be an option anymore.

          1. Michelle*

            This was our experience as well. Nothing could be left inside and we had to drive it around until the gas tank was nearly empty before they would put it on the truck.

            1. Not A Girl Boss*

              That’s what I told her, that there’s no way they’d allow it, but the company she went with did. Sounds like it varies by company.

          2. HBJ*

            This will vary by company. I shipped a vehicle in the last six months. You could stuff it as full as you possibly could as long as there was nothing in the driver’s seat, and they could see the passenger-side mirror.

        2. ronda*

          I did a cross country move in early 2020.
          I did only bring the stuff I could fit in my car.

          I was suprised that ordering furniture took 6 weeks to deliver. This seemed to be standard for new furniture from stores. (it actually took a little longer due to covid)
          (the mattress people delivered right away)

          So if you use this method, you may want look into places where you can get furniture right away…. or rent furniture until you have time to select and have the new pieces delivered.

          I dont regret doing this, but if I had known…. I probably would have looked into renting some furniture.

        3. JobHunter*

          My dad offered to help me move cross-country, so we used his pickup to pull my SUV packed with my stuff on a car trailer. My new apartment was a studio. I put a loveseat and bike in the bed of his pickup. I planned on buying a bed and table at the new location. Clothing, irreplaceable books, electronics, a few dishes/pans, and 2 weeks of nonperishable food and other supplies went into the car. When I returned, I got rid of the big furniture and everything left fit in the SUV (and bike rack).

      2. Filosofickle*

        For me, the moving service was absolutely worth it. It’s been years since my last long-haul move, but that cost me 3-4K and there is no way I could replace my household for that. Recently a friend got a service to move just 6 important things from the west to east coast for $600 and ditched everything else.

      3. Skeeder Jones*

        I’ve been thinking about some of those pod moving things. I have no idea how the logistics will go in terms of getting me and my stuff to whatever place I land and the possibility exists that I may stay with family for a few weeks so a pod would be good for storage. I have so much to figure out but some of it I can’t figure out just yet.

        1. Lizzo*

          Friends used a pod for a move from California to New Hampshire. One pod was missing for a couple months. The risk of that never seemed worth it to me.

    4. Please keep your monkeys from my circus*

      Nothing to add to what’s been suggested here, but as someone from (and still in) Chicago, it’s delightful to hear of someone planning to move TO here, rather than from (which seems to be ask the local media can talk about). Welcome!

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        Thank you! Seems like there are a lot of Chicago AAM readers! I am thinking that after I get there, I might post a meet up location (like “Hey, I’ll be at the starbucks on x and y at such and such time if anyone wants to say hi” because I would love to meet some of y’all.

        1. Lizzo*

          Yes please! But let’s pick a local, non-Starbucks option. :-)
          Have you picked a neighborhood yet, or are you still looking?

          1. Skeeder Jones*

            Non-Starbucks option is easy enough to do! I have an aunt and 3 cousins there that will be the core of my local family once I move. One cousin and my aunt are in Oswego, one in West Chicago and one in Schaumburg so I was looking to find something out in the midst of all that. I would love to find a place in Chicago proper but I have some mobility disabilities and I am not well suited to “city life”

            1. Lizzo*

              Ah, you’d be looking in (far) western suburbs, then. All of those are about an hour from the city with average traffic. :-) The Wheaton/Glen Ellyn area is nice and in good proximity to the places you mention, with well-developed downtowns, commuter rail access to the city, good public library, access to recreation, etc. And not too expensive, relatively speaking (Elmhurst, which is along the same commuter rail line, is $$$$).

              There is an organization based in Chicago called Access Living that focuses on disability rights advocacy. They might be a good resource if you have questions about areas in/around Chicago that offer housing to meet your needs, though they’re very focused on Cook County, which is primarily the city and north suburbs. The west suburbs are mostly DuPage County.

    5. Holly the spa pro*

      The advice above was so good and comprehensive! I have made half a dozen cross country moves and the main thing ive learned is to purge/sell as much as possible if you can. Unless you have brand new or super high quality furniture, the cost to move it might be equal to its value (or added headache tax). Sometimes its mentally hard to part with things you worked hard for but it can also be pretty freaking liberating.

      If you are sure you want to keep all your big stuff (in a studio you may not have a ton) i highly recommend a pod from abf/upack. Even if it is not super full, i have always found it to be cheaper than driving out a uhaul.

      Movers are not always expensive if you just need them to load and unload and do the packing yourself. I recommend using thumbtack to get offers, ive found some great companies that way.

      I love chicago. Its crazy to think that that’s where people are moving for a lower cost of living now. California is out of control haha. Best of luck to you!

      1. Skeeder Jones*

        Yes, I was definitely thinking about those pod things. I have no connection to most of my furniture but I have a lot of non-furniture that I am especially attached to so if I have to move all of that, it makes sense to just move everything. Glad to hear you love Chicago! I think I’m going to love it too,

        1. Not Your Sweetheart*

          I moved from Cleveland to Seattle, and back again, using PODs both ways. They don’t advertise it, but if you can load and unload your pod at their facilities, its less expensive. I saved about $1,000 each way just by taking a couple of trips to their facility instead of having the door to door service. Depending on your locations, they may not even have the door-door option available (apartment buildings frequently refuse them).

    6. ten four*

      Yay I also moved from CA to Chicago (12 years ago now? yikes!). Love it here, A+ choice.

      I spent a lot of my youth moving around and my best tip is to pack a basics box or two you can live out of while you’re packing and unpacking – basically the last things you pack and the first things you open. A few dishes and utensils, a pot and a frying pan, the coffee maker and filters, the toaster, and some basic staples so you don’t have to drag yourself to the grocery store to get breakfast on day one. A few changes of clothes and a towel. Soap and detergent. Basic medications and toiletries. Toilet paper and paper towels. A set of sheets, pillows, and blankets. Your laptop and all your chargers. Flip flops or house shoes.

      The goal is to be able to unpack and arrange things methodically instead of realizing that you desperately need something to be comfortable and then having to root through a million boxes.

      1. slmrlln*

        Yes, packing a basics box (clearly labeled!) makes the first day or two so much easier. Definitely include a shower curtain as well as a towel and toilet paper.

        1. Nesprin*

          Our essentials box was toilet paper, dishsoap, towels, paper towels, a cooking knife and cutting board, boxcutters and scissors, and a jar of peanut butter and bread
          We had pbj sandwiches when we were too tired to go get food. They were delicious

          1. Not Your Sweetheart*

            PB&J is great! I always included a slow cooker and pasta/sauce. It could cook while I unloaded the car.

      2. Skeeder Jones*

        It’s been a while since I’ve had a move but I remember back in college moving every year and I did something similar basically setting aside what I’d need for a 2 week trip and then packing the rest. I’ve been sitting here looking around at all the stuff I can start packing now.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I wish I had done more de-cluttering earlier and given a bit more thought to what I love and need and to what is just extra clutter. I ended up packing too much, loading it into a moving truck and driving halfway across the country and then having to put it into storage.

      I really do love most of my stuff, but now that I’m middle-aged I realize that my relatives are not going to want a lot of it and I don’t want them to face the burden of getting rid of it. I find the Swedish death model of cleaning a lot more helpful than Marie Kondo. I’ve also visited several “estate sales” in my area and it made me cringe with the realization that something very much like this could be what my relatives have to do if I don’t do a better job of getting rid of some of my clutter.

    8. More Coffee Please*

      I’ve made several cross-country and international moves as a single person, but I was young and didn’t have many belongings. This made things significantly easier.

      As much as possible, I’d recommend minimizing the items you move. Now is the time to sort through old clothes, give away kitchen items that have seen better days, and decide how many books you *have* to keep vs. which ones you’d be happy to get from the library/Kindle if you really wanted to read them. Especially since you mentioned the cost of living is lower where you’re moving, you might have the flexibility to leave behind some items and get them new when you arrive. There are plenty of options to donate (Goodwill, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace / Buy Nothing Groups, etc.).

      A general moving tip I’ve used as well is to pack a suitcase like you’re going on a short trip (clothes, toiletries, a few snacks, etc.) before you pack everything up into boxes. That way when you arrive at your new place, you’re not tearing open boxes looking for the essentials.

      One thing I wish I’d known before I started planning was that, as overwhelming as a big move is, there will come a time when it’s over and done with. You’ll be sitting in your new place, all boxes unpacked, all your beloved belongings around you, drinking a cup of coffee and reading a book (or whatever your version of bliss looks like). Things will be normal again before you know it.

      1. Job Carousel*

        Seconding the books idea! Last time I moved I probably kept 200-300 or so books (a mix of reference medical textbooks, books I had bought and was meaning to read at some point, and even some favorite books when I was younger)….in retrospect this was way too many. Nowadays I do 95% of my reading via Ebooks/audiobooks (which is easy and free because my local library has awesome digital resources and will purchase almost anything I request!). One of my projects as I prepare to move again this year is to check whether there are Ebook/audiobook versions of the books I still have that I still want to read/refer to, and if so, to donate/regift the physical copies (if they’re still in good shape). This can also be a tax writeoff if donated to a place like Goodwill, but an easier option might be donating to free little libraries in your neighborhood.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          I have a ton of books. I’ve purged some over the years and I expect to purge some now but there are a lot of them that I plan to keep. I have a kindle, which is great for things like travelling, but I really love real books, it’s something about holding the book where I have a stronger connection so I doubt I will ever go full digital. But I think there are a bunch I don’t care about and I need to get rid of those.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        A note about the books. Not everything gets published to Kindle, and libraries sometimes deaccession things you’d expect to always be there.
        So if it’s one of your re-readers, buy the kindle book before you give it away.

    9. Undine*

      One thing to note about donations is that with Covid, you may need to do more planning or phone around more than usual, because not everywhere is open and accepting donations. Those place that are taking donations may be more restrictive about what they will accept. Things might be better in June.

      I’ve read that right now, so many people are moving out of the Bay area (for example) that there is a severe shortage of uhauls and other moving trucks, so if you do hire anything or anyone, go through an established company and schedule well in advance. A couple of months at least.

      If you have big things that can’t be donated (for example, mattresses) or just a lot of trash, in many places you can get your landlord to schedule a free bulky trash pickup. That usually only has to be done a couple weeks in advance but it depends on how responsive your landlord will be.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Finding places to donate right now is really hard – my Buy Nothing group is going gangbusters. And my town in the Bay Area currently has a many-month waiting list for bulky pickup with a dumpster. It’s 2+ months in normal times, you can imagine what it is right now :|

      2. Lola*

        I second this! It is a challenge to get rid of larger items, especially furniture. Definitely check and see what organizations are currently accepting donations and what local online platforms are the best for selling or giving away items for free.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I did move from Sacramento, CA to Chicago! I’m not sure what part of CA you’re in, but for me, the overall COL was actually about the same, just categories changed. Given that you want to be in Chicago, picking where is going to be important. Parts are way more expensive than others, and you’ll want to be closer to your family/friends probably.

      What I would suggest is start purging, or deciding what you won’t be moving. Long distance moves are expensive, so for a lot of stuff it makes more money sense to sell before you move if you can, then buy new on the other end. Also start working down your supply of pantry and cleaning products. You won’t be moving any of that type of thing. Food pantries can take unopened items. I was lucky and had a friend who was in a senior community, so I took pretty much everything over to her just before I left the state. She then distributed to people she knew, most of whom were on fixed incomes and were happy to take the random free food and cleaning products. Since she knew me (and how I lived) she could vouch for everything.

      1. Clisby*

        Second people’s advice about purging. We lucked up when we were planning a move from Atlanta to SC – our neighborhood was having a neighborhood-wide yard sale, and you could sign up to have Goodwill to take anything left over. We got rid of a ton of stuff and made about $400 to boot.

      2. Skeeder Jones*

        Hi Teapot! I currently live in Orange County in The City That Disney Built. I pay $1440 for a studio and the only reason it isn’t more is because of Covid and being in a city built on tourism, my apartment didn’t raise my rent this last year. There really isn’t anywhere in SoCal where I can significantly improve my quality of life to a degree where it is worth the effort. I don’t think you can find a property for sale here for less than 400K for a tiny dinky dilapidated shack. My money will go so much further in another state.

    11. Here for the Randomness*

      I did a move out of Chicago to the East Coast though not for wanting to leave Chicago but for a job opportunity. The cost to simply dispose of all furniture/homegoods and then buying new things at the new location was almost a wash for me. I got rid of most of my kitchen items as they were old or mismatched. I decided to keep my relatively new bed, my dressers, and a lot of books. I ended up getting the smallest size storage pod, so it could be stored for a couple of weeks until I found an apartment with limited risk of individual items being lost. I spent a week in a hotel while finding an apartment due to a short turn around from offer to move. I then had the pod delivered to the new apartment. Looking back, it would have been easier to do a purge and only take what fit in my car, but the pod system worked as long as you have a place to allow it to sit for a day or two to move into the new location.

    12. Stephanie*

      I’ve moved cross country about three times (maybe four). I agree with everyone about minimizing stuff and having an essentials bag for when you get there.

      If you just have household items, I like shipping via Amtrak. I wouldn’t ship some super rare, fragile item, but I found it was the cheapest way to move items across country. You have to drop it off at the origin station and pick it up at the destination station (I rented a U-Haul passenger van and dolly to do so).

      1. Reba*

        Unfortunately Amtrak shipping is suspended right now! (But I agree it’s an underappreciated resource)

        Skeeder, there have been discussions on the past 3 or 4 weekend open threads about moving, shipping companies etc. so you might want to give those a read, too.

        1. Skeeder Jones*

          Thanks Reba! I will take a look! I think there have been a lot more covid-inspired moves! I have been considering this for a while but changes made for quarantining have definitely taken away some of my objections (like “I’ll miss my friends” and now I only see them virtually or “I’ve been with my therapist 11 years, I can’t imagine finding a new one” and now we are doing phone visits anyway). I’ll have to bookmark some of those threads for later reference.

  5. Bethlam*

    Does anyone have advice on how to become a morning person? My husband and I are newly retired and I’ve made some retirement/New Year’s resolutions/goals. One is to get up early and get some things done while my husband is still asleep. The problem is, while I love BEING up in the morning, I hate GETTING up. 8:30 seems to be my natural wake-up time, regardless of when I go to bed. I have alarms on my Fitbit which I don’t feel or groggily ignore, and I turn off other alarms, roll over and go back to sleep. Has anyone else tried to adjust their body clock? Any success? What worked? Appreciate any suggestions.

    1. Courtney*

      I don’t want to discourage you from your goal, but as a night owl anyone who regularly wakes at 8:30am sounds like a morning person already to me. I’ve struggled with keeping a regular sleep cycle my whole life, and there’s a huge difference in my mental health and productivity between a day when I’m well-rested and a day when I’ve only had a few hours. I’m sure you have really good reasons for wanting to wake earlier, but I want to point out that having a naturally regular sleep cycle like yours is already an amazing thing.

      Which is to say that if you do manage to shift your sleep pattern, great! But if it doesn’t stick or if you start having other problems because of it, don’t keep trying to force it. While there are many good reasons for getting up earlier, there’s nothing inherently better about waking up at 5am instead of 8:30am, especially if all your extra productivity is spent on just making yourself get up.

    2. secret*

      Ha, I can’t believe you said you love BEING up, but not GETTING up. I used the exact same words and got nothing but confused faces before!

      Anyway, my tip is to make staying in bed as difficult as possible. I use an app on my phone as my alarm, it’s called Alarmy. Instead of just shutting off the alarm, you can set different “challenges”. There are a couple of “mental” challenges, such as solving a math problem, but for me it is imperative that I get out of bed to shut off the alarm. I therefore use their “physical challenges”, either scanning a barcode or re-taking a photo you have taken before. I usually make myself take a photo of something in my kitchen. It’s important to switch this up often – I find after a couple of weeks I get into a routine when shutting off the alarm, and it doesn’t wake me up enough to prevent me from returning to bed. I also make sure I prep my coffee in the evening, so once I shut my alarm off, I just turn on the stove and then coffee is ready within a couple of minutes.

      The second thing I make sure to do is have a list of things to do in the morning. When I get up early without having pre-defined tasks, I end up just being very slow at showering, having breakfast, etc. and I end up wasting my precious pre-work hours. But when I have a list of 2-3 tasks to do, it’s easy to dive right in once I have had my coffee.

      Using this system, I often get up earlier than my body clock. I wouldn’t say I’ve adjusted my body clock though – from what I read, this requires keeping a very strict schedule even on weekends, and that doesn’t fit with my lifestyle. I do find though that once I have forced myself out of bed, I’m awake and energetic, even if it is a couple of hours early than my natural time (assuming I have gotten enough hours of sleep).

    3. English, not American*

      What worked for me was training myself that an alarm going off = getting out of bed. Snooze is not an option, nor is turning it off and staying in bed. I stole this idea from a blog I read years ago, where they advised you literally practise setting an alarm for ten minutes in the future, getting cosy, then when the alarm goes off throw yourself out of bed. I didn’t do that, but I do throw off my covers as soon as the alarm goes off to make it a hassle to get them back so I may as well just get up.

      That said, if I didn’t have to get up early for work there is no way in hell I would! WFH during the pandemic has given me so much more energy just having an extra hour of morning sleep.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I read about bouncy alarm clocks, which mean you have to get out of bed to pick them up and turn them off.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I trained myself similarly to wake up as soon as my alarm went off. When the alarm went off, I had to sit up. I didn’t have to get out of bed, I didn’t even have to open my eyes, but I did have to be vertical. It wouldn’t take me long to get moving-sitting up in bed has none of the advantages of curling up under the blankets.

        It worked so great that I was absolutely incapable of going back to sleep for YEARS after I stopped following that rule.

      3. ThePear8*

        One thing I realized helped me a lot to get up back in high school when I had to be up at horribly early hours for extra curriculars (and, just, school in general I guess haha), was that I didn’t have my alarm next to my bed. It was across the room, and it had the most ANNOYING beep. There was no going back to sleep with that thing on, and since it wasn’t right next to me I couldn’t just roll over and shut it off and fall back asleep, the only way was to physically get up out of my bed and turn it off. So it might help if you have something like a shelf or dresser across from you or somewhere in your room other than right next to you that you can put an alarm clock?

    4. Lemonwhirl*

      A sunrise alarm clock can be really helpful for helping you wake up by gradually increasing the light on you, mimicking the sunlight. I use one to wake up, sometimes as early as 5, and nearly always manage to feel like I’ve woken up on my own, even though it’s down to the light. So say I set my alarm for 5, starting at 4.30, the light comes on and gradually increases in brightness. At 5, an audible alarm goes off, but I nearly always wake up before the audible alarm.

      Not sure whether or not it would disturb your husband though.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        This worked wonders for me, but yeah, I had to stop because it also woke up my husband who did not want to be getting up early. However, I started taking supplements of vitamin D and now pretty regularly find myself wide eyed and bushy tailed when my 545 alarm goes off, and usually before 6:30 even without an alarm like on weekends. (And even earlier than THAT, during the summer when the sun is starting to come up at like 4:30 :-P )

        1. Bethlam*

          I already do vitamin D, and it doesn’t help. But I’m definitely going to look into the sunrise clock. It’s tough getting up at this time of year when it’s still dark in the morning. And, as is common with people our age, my husband and I have separate bedrooms, so I don’t have to worry about anything waking him.

          1. allathian*

            I’m in my late 40s and I’ve insisted on a separate bedroom since our son was born, so it’s been almost 12 years. I’m a very restless sleeper and I slept alone most nights of my adult life until I met my husband, so once that first phase of being completely in love passed and our relationship settled into contentment rather than wild passion I insisted on a separate bedroom. His job also involves quite a bit of travel in non-covid times, and while I’m a morning person, I definitely don’t want to wake up at 3.30 or 4! I firmly believe that the sounder sleep that our separate bedrooms provide literally saved our marriage. It’s time to give up the stupid Western idea that spouses need to sleep together to be happy. It’s OK to be selfish about your need for sleep.

            A sunrise light is very helpful for both waking up and actually getting up. I intensely dislike being woken up by noise, so on the few occasions that I travel on business and don’t have access to a sunrise light, using the alarm on my phone is jarring. Because I live at 60 N, for a couple of months of the year it doesn’t get dark. So to get decent sleep in the summer, I have blackout curtains.

      2. ampersand*

        I’ve had mixed success with this alarm—the light wakes me before the alarm goes off, but I’m also 100 percent capable of going back to sleep with the light shining directly in my face.

        It’s definitely an improvement to gradually wake instead of being jolted from a deep sleep by an alarm. I still need to work on getting out of bed when the alarm goes off…that’s the hard part!

      3. Keener*

        I support the sunrise alarm clock. I still need an audible alarm but having the room naturally bright makes a huge difference. Only issue might be your husband. My ex was very sensitive to light and even with it on my side if the bed on a low light setting he found it blinding. (Whereas I was often still in a light sleep with it on full brightness)

        1. allathian*

          He should have used a sleeping mask, the kind you get on long-distance flights. Or simply slept in another bedroom… If one person has to compromise a lot on their preferred sleeping habits, it’s a relationship incompatibility like any other.

    5. I need tea*

      I’ve also been working on this and have seen quite a lot of success over the past couple months! My “early” is probably different from yours, but I can sleep 14 hours straight so even if I’m going to bed at 10, I’ve had issues with not getting up till 2pm, so getting up at 8 on workdays (when I work from home and start at 9) and up at 10 on the weekends is a major achievement for me (although I’d now like to work on getting up earlier than that, now that I’m managing it consistently).
      Things that have worked for me:

      1. Seconding the Alarmy recommendation – I have mine set so I have to get up and take a picture of something in the kitchen every day before the alarm will switch off, but there are other options too. Once out of bed it’s easier to stay up, but I’ve found it helps to have some specific motivation to stay up instead of going back to bed too (see 4 and 5 below).

      2. Making change gradually. If you go from getting up at 8.30 to getting up at 5, you may just end up tired the next day and end up oversleeping. Instead, work on getting up at 8 for a week or two, then 7.30, and so on – or if that doesn’t seem to be working, try 15 minute increments instead.

      3. Being aware it’s a process. The first day I get up at a new time I’m fairly useless for an hour or so – I’ve learned to just accept that, and focus on the fact that I’m out of bed at the new time and celebrate that, even if I don’t get much more done right away. I’ve found the first day is hardest for me, and I won’t be particularly productive that morning, but treating it as an achievement prevents me from getting discouraged, and usually the second or third day I’ll be able to get up and start being productive right away. If I feel like I’ve wasted time because I’ve gotten up but haven’t done anything, I’m far more likely to get discouraged and just go back to bed the next day.

      4. Have something that you can treat yourself with daily, first thing after getting dressed etc. I had a tea advent calendar in December and found that looking forward to the new teas first thing in the morning really helped – so I bought some herbal teas so I can continue to treat myself with new ones (I drink black tea the rest of the time).

      5. Have something you can do right away that you’ll enjoy. This could be journaling, it could be a morning walk, listening to a podcast or chapter of an audiobook, etc. Personally, I do calligraphy every morning for 15 minutes. Planning in time for this might mean you need to get up earlier than you otherwise would if you were going to go straight for the chores, but I’ve found it *much* easier to get up so I can drink nice tea and do some calligraphy than getting up so I can do the dishes.

      I hope this helps!

      1. Bethlam*

        These are really good. I’m definitely going to try 2, and 3 is really good advice. I tend to beat myself up if I do manage to get up then not set the world on fire. I need to appreciate that just getting up is an achievement. Thinking this way and combining it with the strategy in 2 might be very effective for me.

        1. Beatrice*

          Yes! When you’re getting up early, you’re making progress, cheer yourself on for the progress and worry about earlier productivity as a separate step.

      2. Jackalope*

        Seconding the gradual change but. Several years ago I came up with the idea of getting up 15 min early on a gradual basis to make the spring Daylight Savings Time change less of a shock to the system, and it helped. For me the best way to do it was to get up 15 min earlier every 2-3 days so I’d get kind of used to it and then at the end have 2-3 days where I was getting up at the new normal time. It meant some grogginess during those two weeks, but it was much better than having it all at once.

    6. Mx*

      I have a thermos of hot tea ready by my side so I have my tea in bed. That’s essential for me to start the day.
      Sometimes I leave my alarm across the bedroom so I have to get up to switch it off. And it’s so noisy and long that it would be unbearable to ignore it !

      1. Batgirl*

        This really reminds me of the old British “teas made” machines linked to an alarm! Which you can still buy and I occasionally get tempted.. My nana loved hers.

      2. Always Late to the Party*

        My version of this is a water bottle with cold water in it. I drink it while I’m in bed and it helps me feel more awake!

    7. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Hmm, I’m guessing this won’t be helpful, but the thing that made me more of a morning person was a baby and a cat. I’ve heard tell that dogs are good alarm clocks, too. There’s nothing like having something that needs taking care of RIGHT NOW to actually get me out of bed. Maybe there’s some way to hijack that idea for something else? So instead of fighting with yourself to get up out of bed, redirect your internal conversation to be about, I dunno, a plant that needs care, or a habit or thing that needs *doing*?

      1. Quiet Liberal*

        I was getting ready to make this comment, too! Our cats and dogs have always been the “secondary alarm system”. Our coffee maker is set to start brewing ten minutes before the alarm goes off (at 5 AM!) and they both know the alarm will be soon. There is no snoozing once the pets know the morning is started. They seem to adapt their routines to ours.

        1. Quiet Liberal*

          PS – Lucky you being retired! We probably will allow ourselves to sleep in until 6 when we retire.

      2. violet04*

        Yeah, I’m usually out of bed by 6:30 because of cats. I have five and there is one who starts his daily vocalizing around 6:15. Normally I would just close the door and sleep for a while longer, but I feed two outdoor feral cats who are used to being fed between 6:30-7. That helps me get an early start during the work week and I have time to work out and get ready before I have to log in. On the weekends, I come back to bed and sleep in.

    8. Bethlam*

      Thanks for all of the comments and suggestions. The different alarms are interesting. When I was a senior in high school (a looonng time ago), I took an elective English class, Semantics. One of the assignments was to invent a new product, then create various media ads for it: radio, billboard, and magazine. One of the groups invented an alarm bed. It was a raising bed, like a hospital bed, with technology attached that raised your upper body when the alarm went off. You could set it to raise slowly and gradually, or pop you up like a toaster! That’s what I need! Pretty clever invention for back then.

      1. Cats on a Bench*

        There are alarm clocks that shake the bed for Deaf people! Just search “bed shaker alarm for deaf” and you’ll get a variety of hits.

      2. ampersand*

        That’s funny—I’ve had the same thought: what if my bed just gradually tilted until I was upright? I need something to propel me out of bed—I also like being up early but the getting up part is nearly impossible (I wait until the last possible moment).

      3. Scc@rlettNZ*

        Ha, I’ve always said that the only way of getting me out of bed early is if the bed dumped me on the floor and then folded up against the wall so I couldn’t get back into it.

        I hate, hate, hate getting up in the morning. Always have and always will. When I first started working I tried putting a loud alarm on the other side of the room but all I did was get out of bed, turn the alarm off and go back to bed.

        Have I mentioned how much I hate getting up? I’m very impressed by the commitment many in this thread are making to cure themselves of their slovenly ways (taking pics in order to turn your alarm off? No, just no lol) but I won’t be joining you :-)

    9. LQ*

      Light. The absolute best thing for me to shift my schedule has been light. (My schedule was dark=bed, which is an issue in my latitude.) This would be harder with a spouse in the same room I’d guess. But I have lights turn on automatically and slowly over about 30 minutes. I wake up with few issues and I haven’t needed an alarm in a long time. I still like to lay in bed reading for a bit but I have that built into the lighting schedule.

      1. Bethlam*

        Yes, I find it’s easier to get up during the summer when it’s light early. What lights do you have that do the gradual brightening? I could use that because, as is common with couples our age, my husband and I sleep in different rooms.

        1. Come On Eileen*

          Look into the Philips wake-up light. I absolutely adore it and it makes getting up during dark mornings SO much easier for me.

          1. Reba*

            You can use a programmable bulb in a regular old lamp, too.

            I have light blocking shades in the bedroom, so a light that comes on with (or in my case a little before) the alarm is super helpful!

        2. LQ*

          I have phillips hue lights. But I also have a lot of lights in different places. (I’m in a studio apartment which makes a difference here.) The hall light to the bathroom is a hue bulb that starts low and brightens over time. I have a couple of plant lights that are in the kitchen so they are ambient for where I’m at but not bright. Then I have a light behind my tv that turns on, then the overhead light is a hue bulb that brightens over about 30 minutes. I like the Kasa plugs for the other lights.

          Hall, bathroom, closet, adjacent places first, then ambient floor lights, then overhead, then if I had bed direct lighting that would be on last.

          It’s so helpful.

    10. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I was going to suggest having kids, because that definitely made me change my sleeping pattern, but then I got to the bit about you retiring…

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      It might help if you give yourself a “morning gift”. For me, it’s a sunrise walk with my dog, but it could also be a special kind of tea or coffee, a TV show, podcast, reading a few pages of a good book or article, or anything else you really enjoy. I’m not a natural morning person either, but a lifetime of pet ownership has forced me to convert!

    12. Batgirl*

      I had a very ‘successful at waking me up happily’ sleep app on my phone which involved leaving your phone on the mattress. It would track your movements and choose to wake you at a moment when your sleep was at it lightest. I was stunned at how happy I was to get up, for a gentle twinkly alarm even if it woke me half an hour on the early side of the eight hour sleep I’d requested. Usually I am not really compos mentis before noon.. Unfortunately the sleep app was something like 30 quid a month.

      1. Batgirl*

        Actually just looked it up again – Sleep cycle and it isn’t as expensive as I remember! Hmmm.

        1. David*

          I use Sleep Cycle as well and would definitely recommend trying it out. For me it’s not a “magic bullet” that gets me up happily at any time, but it is absolutely a more pleasant experience than a regular alarm that goes off at a fixed time.

          It looks like the premium subscription costs $30/year (in the US), but I don’t pay for a subscription, I just paid a one-time fee of $1 which I think got me the ad-free version of the app.

    13. Me*

      Pets in the bedroom works for us. I start work at 6 am, and our 3 month old puppy doesn’t sleep past about 5 am.

    14. TextHead*

      Are you going to sleep at an appropriate time for your new, desired wake up time? I sometimes have to wake up much earlier for some work events and if I just try to stay on the same schedule and get up early, I’m a wreck. I always know about these in advance, so I start by adjusting bedtime, so I’ll be getting enough sleep still.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Here’s what I had to do:

      Move the alarm clock across the room. I have a dual alarm, the buzzer goes off first. And it’s set that the radio comes on after a bit. If the radio comes on I get really annoyed, it’s better to jump up and get that alarm rather than hear the radio and the alarm.

      Next. I had to let go of the idea of liking the time I got up. I was just going to hate it, period. Similar to other things in life, if I wait until I like it, I will never start.

      But life is a give AND a take. So the give here is allowing myself naps, giving myself free time before bed to just wind down and making stronger plans for each day. With the stronger plans I can see more examples of success because of getting started at my earlier time.
      I made the switch 25 years ago. And I am so happy I did. I do not miss those days of just trying to gather 10 more minutes of sleep over and over. That actually was not restful sleep at all, it was an illusion.

    16. bunniferous*

      Having to get up and go to the bathroom will do it for me. At my age, my bladder is my alarm clock! Once awake and up, get into bright sunlight-or if you have a lightbox or something along those lines. Eventually you will retrain your brain that you should be awake then.

      One other thing-I notice that if I get sleep in cycles of three-which means if I am not going to get a full night’s sleep try to sleep for 6 or even 3 hours at a time. Try to flow with your sleep cycles-if you try to get up in the middle of a sleep cycle it will be much harder.

    17. ....*

      830 sounds like a morning person to me! I’m a night owl and Rather than constantly fight against what my body craves I just accept it

    18. RagingADHD*

      There was a study in mice that suggested there is a secondary body clock linked to food and blood sugar, that can be manipulated by mealtimes.

      The study hasn’t been replicated in humans, but there’s a good deal of anecdotal recommendations of the method as a way to prevent jet lag.

      You decide on your desired breakfast time, and then fast for 14-16 hours beforehand.

      Set your alarm for 20-30 minutes before breakfast. As soon as you get up, get natural sunlight (or the brightest light you have) on your face for a few minutes, and then eat.

      Supposedly this will basically do a hard reset on your body clock.

      Haven’t tried it myself, because I haven’t mustered up the will. But I’ve heard people swear by it. And I have experienced waking up really hungry – it certainly eliminates my desire to stay in bed!

      1. RagingADHD*

        Oh, and in that fasting period, you’d go to bed about 7-8 hours before the alarm, as you might expect.

    19. MissDisplaced*

      I can MAKE myself become a morning person by setting my alarm and making myself get up at 5am, and then gradually going to bed earlier and earlier until I hit that 7-8 hour sleep.

      But I still HATE getting up at 5am! Every single time. I can do it if I must for work, for flights, and for fun stuff sometimes. But it will never match my natural rhythm of sleeping from about 12am to 8am which is more or less where I’ll naturally end up without any alarms or need to get up. I don’t nap either as it throws me off.

    20. Seeking Second Childhood*

      “Morning person” and “someone who wakes easily in the morning” are not 200% overlap. After a couple of years of starting work at 6:30 am to beat traffic, I have a hard time sleeping past 5:30am… but I’m not happy until coffeex2 or 9am.

    21. Anonymous Hippo*

      Leap straight out of bed. No snooze, not time to think about it. Leap out at the first beep of the alarm. Wash face, get dressed. Helps tremendously. Maybe put your alarm across the room so you have to get up to silence, and then immediately leave the bedroom area.

    1. Catherine*

      I swear by the following:

      The Normal Tarot, which is not actually Tarot, and reads me to filth in the most compassionate way.
      The Arcane Bullshit Oracle, which is a joke deck that is consistently really accurate (as in, have early warning about my friend’s reproductive health problems, which his doctor subsequently verified).

    2. slashgirl*

      I really like Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance cars and The Universe has your back cards.

      1. Anonawitch*

        I use the Crow Tarot by MJ cullinane which I like a lot. She also makes an oracle deck so that may be a good option.

      2. Rebecca*

        I second the Doreen Virtue’s Goddess Guidance cards if you’re looking for compassionate, encouraging readings.

        I can’t wait to check out the other recommendations.

    3. Nessun*

      I love the Illuminated Earth Oracle, which was a kickstarter but you can find online. I also like Starseed Oracle. Depending in what you’re doing with the deck (working in tandem with Tarot, for yourself or for others) can really change what works best, so I’d keep that in mind. Illustrated Earth, I love for helping with Tarot readings for others, Starseed I find a little more general use, and I have a an Oracle deck purely for my own readings about my own life.

    4. NaoNao*

      Okay this is SUPER silly but I have Magical Unicorn Cards by Doreen Virtue PhD, and they are **never wrong**. Best .50c I ever spent at the thrift store. Now, the buyer’s note is that they all have very vague positive phrases that can be interpreted in a variety of ways BUT when the question is serious, “the unis” as my household calls them, are clear. I’ve gotten two or three clear “YES” answers and if the question is not clear enough the cards come up with the “laughter” card or “seek the answer” heh. I use them really to reassure myself that I’ve made the right choice and to quiet a racing mind about upcoming eventful things like “will I get the direct deposit okay?” “well, unis said yes, I can stop worrying.”

    5. Amethyst*

      I have the Nature’s Whispers Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield & Josephine Wall. They are quite literally the most stunning deck I’ve ever seen. The only thing is that I wish the cards were a little smaller; I have a hard time shuffling because they are almost the length of my hand.

      Link coming up in a separate reply.

    6. RowanUK*

      I have…probably too many :) Some of my favourites are:
      The Starseed Oracle by Rebecca Campbell
      Work Your Light Oracle by Rebecca Campbell
      Archangel Metatron Oracle by Amanda Ellis (her YouTube channel is amazing too)
      Moonology by Yasmin Boland
      Keepers of the Light Oracle Cards by Kyle Gray

      I am now fighting the urge to investigate the other suggestions in the thread!

    7. Keymaster of Gozer*

      The ‘Dark Goddess’ deck. Not sure who it’s by as I lost the box, but it’s phenomenal and I really like how it’s got some of my favourite goddesses in it (like Nemesis). Warning to fellow arachnophobes though as there’s one card you may have to remove.

    8. Not Your Sweetheart*

      I have Inner Child Cards. They’re fairy tales (the real ones, not Disney) and I find I intuit their meanings easily. With most Tarot, I have to refer to the book/reference all the time. With these, I only use the book to get more detail or learn about the placement.

  6. Courtney*

    Any tips for clothes shopping when you hate shopping in general and have body image issues? I hate shopping because I hate having to sift through so much chaff to find what I’m looking for, because I get choice fatigue really easily, and because my skin gets irritated in the process of trying on lots of clothes. Body image issues are mostly that I feel like I’m wearing things that don’t represent me, but I don’t know what “me” is supposed to dress like instead. It’s like I have a vague mental image of myself, but nothing I see in real life ever matches it. Also, finding things that fit is a challenge. I’m overweight with a generous bust and behind, and I feel like everything either looks frumpy or too revealing.

    Right now I need some new winter clothes, so I feel like that should be an easier place to start, but I’d like to get some business casual stuff too. Or at least a decent interview outfit.

    1. Orange Banana Juice*

      Have you looked into any services like StitchFix? They send you clothing picked for you by a stylist and you can try on curated options at home?

      1. Courtney*

        Thanks for that idea. I’m going to look into it, but there’s a good chance I won’t be able to afford it.

        1. Betty*

          ThredUp offers a similar service with like-new secondhand clothes. Maybe that would be a more affordable option.

          1. Jay*

            This. I lost a lot of weight rapidly and had no idea what my style was going to be (still not sure I have one!) I used this service from ThredUp. As I recall, the box showed up with 15 pieces and didn’t cost more than $50.00.

          2. Coenobita*

            Seconding this – I really like the ThredUp “goody box” service. It costs a bit more than buying stuff straight off the ThredUp website, but it’s way less expensive than Stitch Fix. In my experience, the people who make the boxes really do pay attention to your instructions, whether that’s “I like my shirts on the longer side” or “please for goodness sake no big floral prints.”

            Another thing that I like about ThredUp in general is that they are good about posting the measurements of the actual clothes. So if you have one shirt that fits you really well, you can measure it and then look for other shirts that have the same dimensions, instead of guessing based on sizes.

        2. Anxious Cat Servant*

          I’ve had surprisingly good luck with Amazon’s personal shopper program. I’d tried Stitch Fit and gave up after three consecutive boxes with nothing I could wear in them. With Amazon, you get to preview the picks and choose which ones you want and even swap out colors. They have high-end stuff but they also have brands that are more attainable for me and my non-profit paycheck. Plus returns couldn’t be easier so that’s nice.

      2. Coco*

        I can’t say anything about other subscription services but StitchFix didn’t work for me.

        You pay $20 and if nothing in your shipment works, you are out the money. I tried it for 2 months and nothing in the boxes appealed. I read reviews of the service and other people had much better luck but it seems hit and miss based on the stylist that is assigned to pick your items and whether they read your profile.

        I had asked for items that don’t expose my arms and ended up with 2 sleeveless maxi dresses that were way too long for me.

    2. L*

      I am not sure if this is what you are looking for but I have myself being clueless in choosing clothes for myself and then I found Justine Leconte on YouTube. She is a French fashion designer and has a lot of interesting videos about finding well-fitting clothes for yourself. You might like some of these:

      Find your style – in 6 steps

      How to style a curvy body shape (Plus size body)
      (The whole playlist with body types/shapes is here: https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9e2viG3AuRML-wHc5hDJN-d7YwrSYLuE

      My style tips to dress a big bust (Bras, Tops, Dresses…)

      The right coat for your body type

      How to shop for clothes online & measure garments

      Major mistakes to avoid when shopping for clothes online

      Where to find good quality clothes online

      Which colors work for your skintone: method & tips explained

      Playlist: Body image & self-confidence (2 videos)

      Playlist: Style guide – what works for your body (10 videos)

      I hope you find at least some of this helpfull, if not feel free to disregard.

    3. Pennyworth*

      I sometimes have success at charity shops because there will be limited choice so I quickly know if there is anything I am even vaguely interested in trying on. I hate clothes shopping too.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. That is what I do. If it doesn’t fit or I don’t like it, I don’t care. I just put it in my donation bag and try something else. Why worry about something that costs a dollar or two? I try to pick out things that are more classic or timeless, as opposed to trendy. This means I clothes shop less because the garment stays wearable longer.

        I have had a couple of times where I picked up long winter coats for $2 at tag sales. These coats were in mint condition and probably sell for close to $200 around here.

        I should have done this years ago. It used to be a disaster if I got something home and decided I actually did not like it. Now, it no longer matters. I just donate it.

        I wash everything I buy before I wear it, but I do this with store bought stuff too. I try not to buy dry clean only items but the coats need cleaning and sometimes I find a cute sweater. For these items I use the home dry cleaning kits available in grocery stores.

        Oddly, once I changed what I was doing, I now have more clothes than ever.

      2. HBJ*

        That’s funny, I was going to suggest thrift stores for the exact opposite reason – there’s so much choice. There are tons of brands and styles to choose from instead of being limited to the few a given store carries. I will go to a thrift store and find much more that I like than if I go to a regular shop.

    4. Asenath*

      I go for comfort, so I am not often looking for even business casual – I did, still do, have one outfit I tucked away that was my “interview outfit”. I eventually resorted to ordering online, cautiously until I figured out which brands fit me best – I used Full Beauty a lot until the exchange rate made it expensive, and now I’m back to looking more randomly. I find it very nearly impossible to get clothing that even fits me locally, much less clothing I also like for the fabric and style. I also didn’t worry about whether my clothes represented me or anything like that, I focused on whether they were comfortable, practical, and in colours and fabrics I liked, although sometimes I compromised on even those a little. I hate shopping, especially for clothes, so even if stores featuring my kind of clothing were opening up instead of closing down, I’d have a problem. I also very rarely find anything to fit me in charity stores, so I don’t often go there.

    5. Washi*

      This may sound counterintuitive, but have you tried clearing your closet of clothes that you don’t like, for whatever indefinable reason? You don’t have to get rid of them yet, but even just getting them into a box might help.

      When I culled my closet a few years back, keeping only things that sparked joy, it was kind of amazing to see that there are specific colors that I strongly favor and I had no idea! Also I had the realization that although I think I look nice in lower-cut blouses, and fit-and-flare dresses, that’s not what makes me most comfortable, and I actually like more crew necklines and loosely structured items.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s funny/odd how what we think we look good in can be so different from what we are actually comfy wearing.

    6. Also hate shopping*

      Most clothes don’t fit me because my bust is so outsized compared to the rest of me and Shopping makes me want to cry. Nowadays I shop almost exclusively online and take the hit of paying to return items that don’t suit me or don’t fit. I look out for websites where customers can post their own photos and I can see what it might look like on someone with a body closer to mine.

      I also find choice fatigue less stressful when I’m just scrolling through pages of clothes whilst watching tv although you may differ there.

      As a starting point, do you have or can you remember any clothes that made you feel GREAT? Can you pin down what made them feel good? Did they fit particularly well, make you feel like a boss, did the colour or pattern feel ‘right’? Can you look for items which might be similar in some way?

      1. Jay*

        Depending on your price point, you might take a look at Universal Standard. Sized for a variety of body shapes with models in a variety of body shapes, really well-made (I love love love their fabrics) and free returns. They’re not cheap and I think worth the price, but I realize they are out of budget for a lot of people.

    7. MinotJ*

      I haaaaate clothes shopping. One thing that has helped me is finding a few brands that usually work for me and sticking with them. When I was younger and less financially stable, finding clothes that fit took forever because I would scour outlet stores and resale shops. But I decided a while ago that the monetary tradeoff is worth it to me – I’ll spend more for clothes that fit properly and that I actually like. So I have a few brands that I purchase online. I read the reviews on individual items to see how they fit, and sometimes order a few sizes. I own less clothing now but I actually like the items I own, and they fit me better.

      I just realized another change that happened at the same time, which makes my advice less universal. I work a job where scrubs are acceptable but not required. I switched over to only wearing scrubs at work. So now I have two completely separate sets of clothing, and none of it has to do double-duty as “almost kinda works going to the grocery store/almost kinda comfortable to wear to work”.

    8. Sooda Nym*

      Can you “reverse-engineer” your mental self-image? Find photos of people who look like how you would want to look and see what clothes they are wearing? I’m not saying to directly copy a specific person, and you have to be realistic about body-type, etc. but this really helped me when I was trying to find my own “style.” And I am a big fan of online shopping, as well.

    9. fposte*

      If you’re doing your shopping in brick and mortar, I’m another who suggests trying online. I hate shopping in stores (especially in my limited area) and love shopping online. There’s a bit of a learning curve, and it’s easier if you have enough financial flexibility that you’re okay waiting for refunds on returned items. I think of myself as being my own personal shopper; I’m selecting likely candidates for trying in when I order, not assuming I’ll keep them all, so a certain return rate is part of the process. But I’m trying them in my house and lighting and with various outfits if necessary.

      And I know you said you get choice fatigue, but I’m reminded of Edina Monsoon in AbFab—“I don’t want more choices, I just want nicer things!” I get less choice fatigue when I actually like the possibilities, and this is easier for me to achieve with online inventory.

    10. merope*

      Something else to keep in mind: good-fitting clothes are not available in stores. When you see someone on TV or in a magazine wearing clothes that fit well, they are likely wearing clothes that have been tailored to their shape. The idea is to buy clothes that fit your largest parts and have the rest taken in to fit. You might not be able to do this with all your clothes, but it might be worth considering with your interview outfit.

    11. Susie*

      I just want to shout out the brand Universal Standard. I think there are a lot of great tips above, and I want to single out this brand because they have photos of all the clothes on a model of the same size, which helps me better judge if the clothes will fit and look nice. The sizing goes from 00 to 20+. Also the clothes are so incredibly comfortable. I wear my Geneva dress weekly.

    12. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      One thing I enjoy when shopping is trying on ridiculous things. The dress so skimpy I’d never wear it in public, the garish neon print, the funky design that makes you go “what EVEN were they thinking?”, or just something totally not my style. I mostly shop in thrift stores, so there are always a variety of weird things. I pick one or two out when choosing clothes I’m actually interested in, then start by trying them on. It’s just fun to look in the mirror at yourself in something absolutely absurd and probably hideous to boot. It’s also fun to keep an eye out for strange things while looking for sensible work tops or whatever it is you are there for.

      If that doesn’t appeal to you, is there something that you would enjoy, that would bring some fun into the whole process?

      I’d also suggest keeping your shopping trips short. When you start to get tired out or your skin gets irritated, you can just be done. You can always go back tomorrow when you’ve rested and had a break.

    13. RagingADHD*

      I took up sewing.

      I don’t make all my clothes, but the experience of having made them at several different sizes gave me a completely different perspective on fit, and changed my attitude to numbered sizing because I could see how arbitrary it was, and how the cut of clothes made such a difference, separate from the bust/waist/hip measurements.

      I still don’t love shopping because I hate spending money, and it’s always too hot, too cold, too itchy, too loud, whatever. Yuck.

      But now it’s an annoying chore vs a dreaded one.

    14. NaoNao*

      Are you on reddit at all? Not to self promote but I mod a subReddit called r/fashionwomens35 (terrible name, I know) that specifically caters to the needs of over-35 women. All are welcome, and I really try to include fashions, bloggers, brands, and styles that are inclusive to women of size, women with disabilities, and older women, not just the conventional fashion model type!

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      I spent many years in a job where I was outdoors and my wardrobe reflected that function. When I got a position in an office where I had to up my game, I was completely overwhelmed. My situation sounds comparable to yours–I hated shopping, had sensitive skin, and was concerned about clothes that wouldn’t feel right. I didn’t know where to start.

      What helped me was doing my shopping having a friend go with me, picking things out for me they thought would work. Just having them make recommendations, ask for my opinion on what they picked out, and give me feedback on what I tried out was great. I did that twice with different friends. By the time I’d done that, I now had a few items in my wardrobe that I could use as reference points for what works for me, and was then comfortable shopping for myself. That was a long time ago, and I’ve been comfortable buying things on my own ever since.

      If that’s workable in the context of the pandemic, or if you can wait until later when it feels safer to do so, I really recommend bringing a friend to help. It’s wonderful to have a personal cheering section through what would otherwise be stressful.

      1. allathian*

        I only did that once, because I think I picked the wrong friend to go with me. She had a hard time accepting that I’d be happy to buy the first thing that fit, looked good on me, and was within my price range, and that I wouldn’t go to just one more store to see if there was something even better. The difference was that she loved shopping and I hated it, and still do. I just want to get it done. If I find a pair of pants or jeans that fit me, I’ll happily buy two of the same model and size, in different colors. Our dress code leans towards the casual end of business casual, so things could be a lot worse.

        That said, I don’t want to shop for clothes online either. As much as I dislike changing rooms, buying stuff only to return it sounds like a hassle. So I haven’t bought any new clothes for almost a year!

    16. Cedrus Libani*

      I don’t like shopping, I’m not interested in fashion, and I don’t want to think about my clothes – the fewer decisions I make before 10 am, the better. So I have a uniform. I found an outfit that worked for me, and I bought a dozen copies. Every few years, I have to re-buy (clothes wear out eventually). But I’ve done pretty much all the thinking I will ever have to do on the subject.

      I also have a shoe, which I replace yearly. And a haircut – I made a collage, with clear photos of this haircut from various angles, and I take it to the salon with me. Those of us with greater sensitivity to choice fatigue can just lean in to their ultra-boring selves…which I’ve done, hard.

      1. MissDisplaced*

        I agree with the idea of finding a “uniform” of classic pieces in neutral solid color basics like black, denim, gray, tan, white that all go together if you’re not into fashion or hate shopping.
        There are some custom online stores like eshakti but those will be expensive, so I’d hesitate until you really know what your style is before going there to order, say that Perfect White Blouse custom fitted.

    17. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’m similarly built and like the necklines on Woman Within’s “Perfect Short-sleeve Scoop-Neck T”. That scoop hits my generous bust just above the start of my cleavage without being so wide as to imperil my bra straps, the fabric is a very nice soft cotton that washes well. (I hang mine to dry so they’re a little rough when I put them on, but they soften up quickly.) Length-wise they cover my belly nicely and come to the middle of my rear/top of my thighs in front. I just buy seven or eight of them in different colors, wear them til they fall apart, then do it again. Most days I am wearing them with yoga pants and jeans, but they are good enough quality I would put them under a sweater with pants or a skirt and work in them.

    18. ..Kat..*

      Do you have a Nordstroms near you? They (and other stores too) have personal shoppers. If you get a Nordstrom credit card, this service is free. A good personal shopper will take into account your size/shape/preferences/style. Even if you have to pay, if you find one who works well with you, they will be worth it.

    19. Not Your Sweetheart*

      Ask around your community for a personal shopper. The best ones will work with your style (or help you discover one) and will find clothes with a cut, shape, and color to flatter you. I used to work for a retail clothing store- and I learned so much about what type of clothes worked for different body types. If you can’t afford a professional shopper, try a friend (or friend of a friend), or even a mid-range clothing store that still focuses on service.

      I’m tall, plus sized, and top heavy (why do clothing manufacturers think tall women must all be skinny?). For dressier women’s clothes, I like eshakti (eshakti.com). You can input your measurements and they will custom make the garment. They mostly sell dresses- but do have tops, pants, skirts, and the occasional blazer or outerwear item.

    20. Ciscononymous*

      For choice fatigue – what helps me is to shop for one thing at a time. Today, I am shopping for khaki pants and that is it, even if I also need a scarf and that one might be cute and maybe I’d be okay with navy pants but do my shirts match that and why is the navy a different size than the khaki from the same line…
      That overwhelms me quickly, so I just do khakis. I can look for a scarf next week.

  7. Pronoun Usage Questions*

    Hello all, I’d appreciate any help with correct pronoun usage:

    1. I read a Buzzfeed article in which they mentioned that Jonathan Van Ness is non-binary and goes by he/she/they pronouns. However, the article only used ‘he’ pronouns. A few comments said that the author should’ve used all 3 pronouns throughout the article and they misgendered JVN by only using ‘he’ pronouns. I was under the impression that if a person suggests multiple pronouns, we could use either (or all) of them interchangeably – please let me know if I misunderstood and the intention is to use all of the suggested pronouns.

    2. When using ‘they’ pronouns as singular, would the sentence be constructed as:
    a. They are going to the library
    Or b. They is going to the library (supposedly grammatically incorrect?)

    I apologise if this comes across as insensitive. I tried to google these questions but couldn’t get proper answers. Thank you for reading!

    1. Courtney*

      I am definitely not an expert on this, but I think some people are nonbinary in that they don’t identify as either gender, so they prefer “they”, while others are nonbinary in that they don’t identify as one gender specifically, so they’re okay with “they”, “he”, and “she”. Others change depending on the day and tell you what to use. My sister considers herself nonbinary in the sense that she’s not quite sure where she fits, but she’s okay with “she” or “they”. Some of her friends only call her “she” while others only use “they”. Since both terms are acceptable to her, she doesn’t care if they pick one and only use that or switch back and forth.

    2. PollyQ*

      Consensus on #2 seems to be pretty solidly “They are,” I guess on the general idea that “they is” just sounds wrong, and that if “they” can be singular, so can “are.” And it’s the same way that “you” works, so it’s not much of a change anyway.

    3. Orange Banana Juice*

      I don’t know the answer but I read that same Buzzfeed article (about JVN getting married?) and noticed the pronouns used (he) vs the ones listed (he/she/they) and wondered the same thing as you!

      I hope someone with extra insight has some answers.

    4. Morning reader*

      I wonder if the pronouns listed were incorrect? I’ve only seen preferred pronouns listed that were consistent, e.g he/him, she/her, they/them. What does he/she/they even mean? I would think it meant they didn’t have a preference at all. It’s possible this is a thing I haven’t heard of yet but it looks like a simple error.

      1. I need tea*

        Usually when someone uses multiple pronouns, it’s written using just the subject pronouns. Subject/object (e.g. she/her) works well if someone just uses one set of pronouns, but when someone uses two or more you’d end up with something like she/her he/him they/them, and that’s much more cumbersome, so usual practice is to just leave out the object pronouns, resulting in he/she/they. It feels ungrammatical (at least to me personally) so I can understand it looking like an error, but there is some reasoning behind it so I think it’s unlikely to actually be an error.

        1. Myrin*

          Which reminds me, I’ve been wondering ever since I saw it for the first time why the object pronoun is given at all. As in, wouldn’t using “she” automatically mean also using “her”? I can understand it if someone uses unusual pronouns in a way where most people wouldn’t immediately know what its object case is but I’d have thought that when someone states “she”, using “her” in the appropraite places would simply follow. Is there an angle to this that I’m not aware of?

          1. Anon Lawyer*

            No, I think it’s a holdover from when more people used unusual pronouns so it just because the way to indicate preferred pronouns.

          2. PollyQ*

            Every once in a while, I do see someone whose chosen pronouns “mismatch”, although it’s quite rare.

          3. Forget What Name I Used Before*

            Seconding Anon Lawyer- for people who don’t like ‘they’, there are a lot of different neopronoun sets out there and most people aren’t familiar with all of them, plus some of them have variants, so you really do have to specify whether you mean ze/zer or ze/hir.

            (Also, if you’re sharing pronouns out loud, it adds a layer of backup so you don’t have to ask people to repeat themselves if you didn’t catch the first consonant.)

      2. peasblossom*

        Nope! My pronouns are she/they. For some people, their relationship to their pronouns is fluid. They don’t consistently or rigidly identify with a particular gender. Terms that might apply to people like this are genderqueer, gender fluid, or some nonbinary people.

        As people elsewhere in the thread have suggested, that means I’m generally ok with either pronoun. Most people default to she/her because I’m pretty femme, but they/them is no less correct.

        1. peasblossom*

          Because I think this section of the thread was not ill intentioned but definitely jarred me, let me add that as a rule of thumb if you are a cis* person commenting on queer/noncis issues, it’s usually best to approach areas where you’re unsure by asking a question or googling (like op did!).

          *For anyone who needs it glossed, cis means that the gender you identify with matches the gender you were assigned at birth.

    5. Mx*

      I consider myself non-binary because I don’t believe in genders. But I let people calling me she/her out of habit. It is just a word after all.
      Plus I often speak in French, and it doesn’t work in this language !

    6. Zombie Bait*

      I know someone who uses both he and she pronouns and wants them used interchangeably. So in the same conversation, to be called both he and she because it acknowledges both genders. The article should have used all the pronouns that person goes by because just sticking with one ignores the rest.

    7. LGC*

      1) I can see the arguments both ways?

      It’s not misgendering JVN to only use “he” if they have said “he” is acceptable. Frankly, that’s inane – you have explicit permission from JVN himself to use “he.” But it’s not educational – a layperson who doesn’t know who JVN is is going to look at her and assume “he.” I haven’t read the Buzzfeed article, but if his nonbinary identity is a major part of it, they (the writer in this case) should show it.

      (And that’s why I switched pronouns myself! Although…it does make it a bit confusing when I switch that often who I’m talking about. Generally, though, I’d avoid using the option that most people would assume.)

      (I also find it amusing that I can easily switch pronouns, but if you ask me to type out Jonathan Van Ness’s full name, I can’t be bothered. To be fair, I did use her name a LOT in this.)

      2) They are. It’s the same when the subject’s gender is unknown – singular “they” is treated the same as plural “they.”

      1. Disco Janet*

        I agree. Also, I imagine that someone writing for a publication would need to be consistent so that they did confuse their reader as alternating pronouns throughout one article likely would.

        1. LGC*

          Looking back at it…yeah, switching pronouns is confusing (and it confused me as well). I switched to prove a point, but it’s also terrible writing.

          I guess normally, if I was talking about JVN or someone else who had a similar gender identity (NB but doesn’t have a strict pronoun preference), I’d default to “they.” Although it depends – one of my friends is transfeminine and has settled on “she/they” for now, and I usually call her “she!” (She’s made a point of being femme, so she feels more like a she.)

      2. Zooey*

        I believe JVN normally uses male pronouns but is equally comfortable with other pronouns so the particular choice of which set to use makes sense here. I agree that I’d normally make a different choice in print just to acknowledge the non binary status.

        In real life, this is the kind of thing that is worth checking in on periodically. I have a few friends whose comfort level with different pronouns has changed over time so while they might stay in the general space of ‘any of these can be fine’ the one that feels most consistently appropriate can change over time.

      3. Roci*

        (1) was super confusing to read, and as you point out that last “they” refers to the writer, not JVN. The whole point of pronouns is to use a gender-based shorthand to refer to a known person, so if you can’t tell who is being spoken about then you’re going to run into trouble being understood.

        Also it is patently ridiculous that someone must use all pronouns interchangeably when referring to a person–what if I exclusively use she and they for JVN, is that misgendering? Or 60% he, 30% she, 10% they, is the imbalance OK or is that misgendering? If someone is OK with multiple pronouns then what is wrong with picking one of those for clarity?

    8. ThatGirl*

      My understanding of JVN specifically is that he’s fine with any pronouns and the main thing to remember is that he’s not a cis man, he’s non-binary/genderqueer.

      Personally I find it easiest to stick with one set of pronouns throughout because it can get confusing otherwise but I would always put respecting someone’s identity above my own preference. And They singular is still used with a plural noun (they are going to the store).

    9. Emily*

      1. I think that it’s generally fine to use any of the pronouns that someone has said they’re okay with (and not necessary to use all of them at the same time). However, if it’s someone you have a relationship with or are writing/talking about more than once, I do think can be good etiquette to vary the pronouns you use for them. (This is very person-dependent, obviously! But I knew one assigned-female-at-birth nonbinary person who was at one point okay with all pronouns but eventually started preferring “they” or “he” because some people in their life were only using “she” and it felt like those people weren’t really acknowledging that they weren’t a woman.)

      2. Usually people just use “they are”!

    10. Always Late to the Party*

      A method that really helped me use “they” pronouns correctly is to think of it like you’re talking about an unknown stranger.

      “Oh dear, someone left their jacket on the bus! They are probably pretty cold right now!”

      It’s interesting how we will use thy singular in this way without realizing it, but when the “they” is a known entity it seems to get more confusing. Practice helps!

    11. Not So NewReader*

      Probably it would have made the article too confusing to read if the author used both he and she. Especially if other people were also mentioned in the article.

    12. Cats on a Bench*

      I think it’s very dependent on what the person feels about it. If JVN expects that all three be used in any given situation, then yes, they were misgendered. But if they don’t mind which one gets used, it doesn’t matter. Also some non-binary people use all three, but prefer specific ones depending on how they are feeling that day. For example, if JVN was feeling particularly female that day, then she would have been the most appropriate. It really depends on the non-binary person’s experience of themself. If they weren’t clear which pronoun should be used when, then the reporter should’ve asked. And maybe the reporter did and used the correct pronoun but just didn’t explain that in the article.

      I tend to default to “they/them” pronouns when I don’t know and can’t ask. That could be a mistake, but I feel like it is the least gendered one to use until I am told which one to use. I have begun introducing myself with my pronouns, even though it seems obvious to most people. My hope is that it normalizes people clarifying that information and might make someone who is trans or non-binary more comfortable in sharing their preferred pronouns. I found the books The Transgender Teen by Stephanie Brill and Lisa Kenney, and The Transgender Child by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper to be incredibly helpful. Even if the person you are encountering is not a child or teen, these books do a great deal to help educate people in general about the correct terms to use and the most respectful and supportive ways to interact with someone who is trans or non-binary. Another good resource for pronoun use and gender inclusive language is mypronouns dot org.

    13. RagingADHD*

      Everyone I’ve personally known who offers multiple pronouns intends it to mean they are all acceptable.

      Singular “they” is used with a plural verb as a matter of grammar: “They are.” It has been used this way for hundreds of years, it’s not new.

      The only new(ish) aspect of using singular “they” is applying it to a known individual, rather than a hypothetical or unknown person.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, this. As is the “themself” form, which I’m still getting used to. Emily Dickinson used it in 1881, so it’s not a new form either, although it largely disappeared from use in the decades since.

        Pronouns are important. At work I don’t really have to consider them, because my main working language is Finnish, which doesn’t have any gendered personal pronouns at all. In spoken language, everyone is pretty much the equivalent of “it”. There is a pronoun for human beings (that some people also use when they refer to their pets), but that’s mostly used in formal spoken language and in writing.

        I’ve never run across a person who switches pronouns depending on the day or their mood or whatever, and I think that if I did, I’d just stick to “they” all the time. I’m not a mind-reader, and I’m just not willing to put in the work to use their preferred pronoun that day (if it changes, it’s not the correct pronoun but the preferred one), at least not unless they make it very obvious. I mean, if someone I hypothetically worked with in a gendered pronoun language would make it very obvious that they were a she by wearing a dress, high heels and full makeup one day, and then the next switch to a man’s suit, tie, and male grooming, I’d probably have no problems switching to male pronouns, but the switch would have to be very obvious. I do want to treat everyone decently and see their humanity regardless of their gender identity, but daily changing pronoun usage is just asking too much of others. YMMV.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I was brought up that it’s rude to refer to someone in the third person when they are present, anyhow. So I wouldn’t think the whole daily/momentary gender switching would really come up much. It would just be “you” or their name.

          And obviously anything in writing is going to reflect a fixed point in time.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, that’s a fair point! In English, at any rate. As I said, in my native language it doesn’t even come up, because there are no gendered personal pronouns in Finnish. Still, it’s possible to refer to someone in the third person in their hearing. Say when you’re looking for someone, and they’re just around the corner. “Have you seen Kim today? I tried to call him/her/them, but my call went to voicemail.” Using the wrong pronoun would be embarrassing, or at least I would feel embarrassed if Kim was in earshot.

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      I don’t think you’re being insensitive at all! On the contrary, you’re making an effort to be respectful toward people who are nonbinary by asking for clarity around pronoun usage. That’s a thoughtful thing to do.

  8. Might be Spam*

    I’ve been looking for a therapist. So far, only recently graduated therapists are available for new clients. If I look for one closer to my age, they would end up being close to retirement and I want someone for the long-term.
    I had a younger therapist who didn’t seem to have much life experience and couldn’t seem to relate to what I am going through, even though my situation seems pretty common.

    Can a therapist who is less than half my age really be helpful?
    How important is it to have a therapist with life experience?

    1. Nela*

      Young therapists can be effective if they’re trained well, but I would not work with someone completely inexperienced. They don’t have to go through the same situations in order to help you, but they need to at least have helped other people in a somewhat similar situation so that they know what is likely to work, although not all things work for all people.

      While therapists are supposed to be empathetic, they are not required to personally relate to every situation the client is going through. A childfree therapist can still help a parent who has a difficult relationship with their children for example, on the condition that they are a good therapist.

      But I’ve also worked with one therapist who experienced the same issues with family that I was trying to solve (only 20 years earlier), and our sessions were not only regular therapy but also a lot of their stories of how they resolved it, which I found pretty helpful. So… It really depends, you may need to try out several therapists before you settle for the right one. If your therapist can’t relate, maybe talk to a friend who can share their own experiences, and get the benefits of both approaches.

    2. Lena Clare*

      I do agree that a therapist of a similar age to me makes a difference. I don’t think it matters so much about the life experience – in fact, I’d say it might be even more helpful if they don’t have the same issues as me so they’re not distracted by their own stuff in the session, although a good counsellor will be able to deal with that appropriately.

      So I think – find someone close in age to you or older, then chat with them to find out if you can work together.
      Don’t assume that because someone is a certain age that they’re close to retirement though. Approach them and explain what you’re looking for. They’ll tell you if they can accommodate that or not.
      And fwiw, younger therapists stop counselling for all kinds of reasons – it’s best to work with someone over a period of time, yes, but ultimately you’re not in control over the length of time you get to work with them. Lots of stuff can come up for the counsellor that means that they might need to stop working with you. They’re human too :) but good luck with finding someone who can help.

    3. Jennifer*

      I found a therapist that’s newly graduated but got into the field later in life, so she still has about 10 years on me. I think life experience is pretty important. She drew on her own experiences to empathize with me, which was great. Just remember recently graduated doesn’t necessarily mean super young. But on the other hand, there are young people who have lived through extremely terrible circumstances. It’s possible that you just had a bad experience with that therapist. Looking for a therapist is almost like looking for a spouse. You go on a few bad first dates before you meet the one. I hope you don’t lose hope and keep searching.

      1. Filosofickle*

        It’s true that they aren’t necessarily young. My partner is getting his master’s in counseling and will enter the field at 50.

    4. Zombie Bait*

      I’m in my 30s and was recently looking for a therapist. I wanted someone at least a little bit older and it was frustrating that everyone taking new clients was my age. I just kept hunting and eventually found someone who fit the bill. So just keep looking!

    5. Jay*

      I’m 60. My current therapist is about 20 years younger than I am. My long-time previous therapist was probably 20 years old than I was – she retired in 2016. I have found them both helpful in different ways, but then I needed different things 25 years ago than I do now. So yes, I do think a younger therapist can be helpful. Also – not all newly graduated therapists are in their 20s. A friend of mine will graduate in June and she’s 50. Unfortunately, the only way to know if a therapist is a good fit is to go for therapy and see how it feels, which can be an exhausting thought for people who are already suffering. Good luck.

    6. infopubs*

      Having had several therapists over the past 30 years, I’d say it depends on your experience with therapy. If you are new to therapy, a younger counselor is probably fine. But if you already have been through it before, the wisdom of someone with more experience will likely deepen your results. Does that make sense?

      Of course, some therapists are just better at what they do, and some are a better fit with your personality. You might need to try several before finding the right one.

    7. Reba*

      I think it depends a lot on the style of therapy that you are pursuing. I don’t think a therapist necessarily needs to “relate” to a situation to help you with it, although I don’t deny that it helps (even if it doesn’t feed into the treatment directly, it is amazing how much it matters to know someone else who has “been there.”). I think you need someone with experience at their therapeutic modality, not necessarily experience with similar phases of life.

      I wonder if it was just more a provider personality or style mismatch than age per se. Age is not a guarantee of match. You could find someone with the perfect profile, at the peak of their career and a healthy two decades from retirement, but you might still have to break up with them for whatever reason.

      Best wishes finding someone, I know this is really hard and it sucks.

    8. ThatGirl*

      A good therapist shouldn’t just be relying on similarities to their clients to be able to help them. That said, I can understand wanting someone who isn’t fresh off their masters program. Look for someone with LCSW or LCPC after their name – that indicates they’ve been practicing at least long enough to get a clinical license (typically takes 5 years or so?).

    9. Thisismynamefortoday*

      I don’t know about life experience, but I’d prefer a therapist with more clinical experience than a recent graduate. My son was able to fool his interning therapist into believing he was mentally healthier than he actually were. And my resident therapist referred me for a serious mental health evaluation because they misunderstood something I said. And they really had no perspective on my OCD symptoms and good treatment ideas.

    10. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      It sounds like what you need is a therapist with experience and/or training in working with people with your specific issue(s). Someone who has been practicing longer will have more experience, but that experience might or might not be relevant to you. Sometimes that’s more obvious than others: you aren’t looking for a child psychiatrist, and probably know whether you want a family therapist.

      Can you contact the people who are taking new clients and ask them what/how much experience they have dealing with clients like you, for whatever aspects of “like you” matter here? There might be someone out there who’s only been practicing for a couple of years, but has relevant training and experience.

    11. anonforthis*

      I don’t necessarily think being a similar age or having similar experiences is important in a therapist as long as they are good at their job. The best therapist I ever had was a 70+ year old man when I was in college. They don’t have to relate to you – they just have to accept your experiences and feelings as real. The only extent to which the relatability thing might be important is if it impacts your ability to open up to them.

      1. anonforthis*

        I should add, my answer is regarding the relatability portion of your question. However, other commenters make good points about the importance of clinical experience (as opposed to life experience in general).

    12. AnonToday*

      A friend of mine is a therapist. Their advice is to look for someone with at least 7 years of clinical experience. Because the experience does matter, in their opinion. And, by year 7, a therapist has already had to figure out how to avoid burnout, and is then less likely to leave the profession early.
      And also to look for someone with the right license- in our state (WA) they recommend looking for “Marriage and Family Therapist” (instead of, for instance, a degree in social work) because of more extensive training.
      This does not reduce the work involved in selecting a new therapist, but whittling down the possibles made it feel less labor intensive?

    13. cleo*

      I’d say it depends on the therapist and the issues you want to work on. I’ve had quite a few therapists over 30 years. In general, I’ve found that therapeutic experience is as or more important than life experience.

      One recent one was about half my age – or at least 20 years younger. There were some things that she was excellent at and that I don’t think I could have gotten from someone my own age / generation. In particular, I found talking with her about lgbtq issues really helpful – I needed a different perspective. Plus it was quite gratifying to me how horrified she was by some of my stories of being bi and coming of age in the late 80s/ early 90s.

      Good luck!

  9. Hstrylvr*

    I need podcast recommendations. I have finally given in to listening to podcast, and need to know some good ones that I can try out. Right now I am listening to Behind the Bastards, In our Time, Throughline, Stuff you missed in History class.

    I am not interested in Self help podcasts, don’t know why but they give me anxiety lol. I love learning about things from the past, as can be seen from what I listen to right now. I love nerdy and geeky stuff, even if its not apart of a fandom that I love. I am open to anything just want to know what its about and if its reputable :) Learning about other cultures, religions and History would be amazing also.

    If it helps I love marvel movies, Supernatural, Criminal Minds, any kind of apocoplypse and disaster movies, all the Stargate series, Outlander, etc. If anyone wants some great foreign tv shows Kingdom and Signal are amazing dramas on Netflix. I am a sucker for Who dun its and zombies

    1. English, not American*

      I’ve never been able to listen to podcasts myself (I drift off far too easily and stop listening), but my partner raved about “The Magnus Archives”. It’s fiction, kind of Lovecraftian creepy-horror, told as a narrative of people reading archives of supernatural events (I think, I’ve only heard snippets). Might be up your street?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My boys love Welcome to Night Vale, which is a similar type of fiction as I understand- I am also not a podcast person myself :)

      2. MHA*

        The Magnus Archives is fantastic! The basic premise is that the main character/narrator is cataloguing the titular archive of statements from people that have experienced supernatural encounters, but the show does have an actual underlying plot as well as character development, reveals, etc.– it’s not just episode after episode of disconnected creepypastas.

    2. Just a Guy In A Cube*

      Some current events’y – Reveal, Code Switch, Marketplace, Make Me Smart, Our Body Politic

      Some historical context limited miniseries: The Uncertain Hour (Marketplace diving into how specific regulatory moves play out in social impact in the 20th century), 13 minutes to the moon (BBC series on the moon landings. Season 1 takes you through the audio of the moon landing to explain all the things that are going into it, season 2 dives into Apollo 13), Louder than a Riot (NPR series on Hip Hop and mass incarceration), Living with the Gods (BBC series examining items in the British museum as a window into historical cultural and spiritual practices)

      Harder to categorize – Flash Forward (take a trip to a possible future, think about how it could happen), Out of the Blocks (interviews with residents & businesspeople in Baltimore, 1 block at a time, Ear Hustle (produced in partnership with a team of incarcerated people in San Quentin State Prison), Backlisted (discussion of old books … best of this genre I’ve ever heard), PCHH (NPR daily pop culture discussion podcast)

    3. Bobina*

      Bad Science – looking at science in movies/tv shows and critiquing it
      Lingthusiasm – podcast about linguistics/language
      Roads & Kingdoms: The Trip – general discussions on culture/politics/lifestyles from people around the world, often through the lens of food. Roads and Kingdoms was originally a website with great articles that are also worth reading.
      Rice to meet you – its a comedy podcast hosted by two Asian comedians. It varies by episode, some focus more on the discussions about culture, some focus on just the comedy/life aspects more – but I’m really enjoying this one at the moment.
      Sex Power Money – discussions on the history/psychology of how these topics intersect, with a kind of feminist bent as well.

    4. Emily*

      Hi there! I would recommend “You’re Wrong About” for your interest in history (it’s two journalists who talk about past events/people who have been misremembered, like Monica Lewinsky, Princess Diana, and events like the Y2K Bug) and then “Binge Mode” for your interest in fandom (I particularly love their season on the Harry Potter series, but they also did one on Marvel, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones)

      Hope that helps! Just a heads up: both podcasts do have some cursing and adult content, in case that’s not your thing!

    5. slashgirl*

      Stuff They Don’t Want you to Know (A lot of conspiracy theories but the hosts are very down to earth and with most topics, consider all aspects, even some of the whackier stuff–some historical stuff and current day, too); Ridiculous History (hosted by two of the hosts of the above podcast); what it says on the tin and usually runs about a half hour–sometimes with two part episodes.
      Stuff to Blow Your Mind–a lot of interesting topics (again some historical topics) and they also have started doing a weekly (I think) episode about cult/classic horror movies–and usually do a lot of horror movies during October.
      Beach Too Sandy, Water Too Wet–hosted by a set of siblings, they read 1 star reviews in a dramatic fashion. Title of the podcast is from a review of a resort which claimed the beach was too sandy….basically, making fun of Karen type reviews.
      Case File: true crime, many set in Australia but they do have some from other countries
      They Walk Among Us: UK true crime
      Dark Poutine: Canadian true crime/strange stories.
      Most of these podcasts are adult in topic if not in nature.

    6. Something Blue*

      I really enjoy History of England by David Crowther. He goes chronologically and started the series way back in the mists of time and is now up to Elizabeth I.
      (I’m looking forward to the Stuarts bc so many history shows seem to just stop with the Tudors!)

      History Extra is from a magazine of the same name and covers a lot of topics.

      For pop culture, Coffee Klatch has several podcast series for different tv shows like the Magicians, Westworld, Game of Thrones, etc.

    7. Dino*

      You Must Remember This helped me love movies more by making me more knowledgeable about early and classic Hollywood. Would highly recommend! I’m relistening to the series in the blacklist right now and it’s very good.

    8. PostalMixup*

      My go-tos are:
      Imaginary Worlds – breaking down SciFi & fantasy to explore what makes them believable (or not).
      Switched On Pop – a discussion of pop songs by a musicologist and a songwriter. Again, what makes them work, or not. It’s aimed toward those who haven’t taken music theory.
      Criminal – about crimes ranging from poaching of Venus fly traps to identity theft to arson to murder.
      Spooked – an offshoot of Snap Judgement, ghost stories and spooky tales told by the people who experienced them.

      1. PostalMixup*

        Also, PodCastle, EscapePod, PseudoPod. Short fiction fantasy, SciFi, and horror, respectively. PodCastle (which is the one I listen to) sometimes does classic fantasy, but also has great stories by less well known authors (although some, like NK Jemison, have gotten that way).

      2. Nope*

        Scam Goddess – Laci Mosley
        Hear to Slay – Roxane Gay and Tressie McMillan Cottom

        These are both amazing. If you want a distraction from covid and coups, the recent scammer Hilaria Baldwin scandal is a fun rabbit hole. Waiting for Scam Goddess to do an episode on her (it’s coming) but you could also search for a topic, like “Hilaria Baldwin” or “insert your favorite movie” on a podcast platform and find episodes on your topic.

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      I always suggest Stuff You Should Know because it’s my all time favorite, but you may also enjoy The End of The World with Josh Clark, Movie Crush with Chuck Bryant, 99 percent invisible, ephemeral, The Dream or
      Judge John Hodgeman. Hope you find something you like!

    10. Reba*

      Ologies, 99pi, and You’re Wrong About.

      I also like to listen to limited series investigative stories, like the Dream and The missing crypto queen.

    11. Ranon*

      In extremely science-y This Week in Virology is great and they’ve dialed down the very technical stuff a hair since Covid started. Every time there’s a new Covid headline I look forward to listening to the next episode to hear what the science behind the headline really is.

      In lay person science Ologies is awesome. Dig: a History Podcast is good for history. Disability Visibility does what it says on the tin, very interesting interviews with a wide range of folks working and advocating in different areas.

    12. Belle*

      The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps is pretty good it gives you a neat overview of how philosophical thought develops. They also have a spin off podcast where they talk even more in depth about Eastern Philosophy.

    13. Me*

      I really like Sawbones. Their subtitle is a marital tour of misguided medicine. Each podcast is a deep dive into a cal topic and she really researches her topics from a historical perspective. (She’s a doctor, her husband is not).

      Sometimes the topics are relevant to current times, like her podcasts on Covid.

      1. MHA*

        In addition to Sawbones, the husband (Justin McElroy) also has several other podcasts with his brothers! Since Hstrylvr mentioned loving nerdy stuff, I would definitely recommended The Adventure Zone, which is about said brothers and their dad’s Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Start all the way back from episode 1 (which is now categorized at episode 1 of the Balance arc, since they’ve had several more storylines since that one ended) and settle in for the ride– it starts pretty lighthearted and goofy, but over time the players all develop their characters amazingly and you end up getting super, super invested despite how silly things can get at times.

        They also have My Brother, My Brother and Me, where the brothers answer wacky questions from Yahoo! Answers with even wackier advice. This one’s pure comedy, so it might not be up the alley of folks who need their podcasts to be either educational or narrative in some way.

    14. MCL*

      99 Percent Invisible, Criminal/This is Love, This Day in Esoteric Political History, History of the Crusades, and the Marketplace suite of programs (Marketplace, Make Me Smart, This is Uncomfortable, The Uncertain Hour…) are some of my faves. I tend to like the stuff on the Radiotopia and NPR podcast networks! History of the Crusades is made in Australia by Sharyn Eastaugh, and I find her quirkily entertaining, but she’s very thorough.

    15. Oxford Comma*

      99% Invisible – focus tends to be on architecture and planning but it’s not in a traditional sense. Always interesting to listen to.

    16. Aealias*

      My list is obvious, but no-one else has mentioned them yet…

      This American Life: long-running podcast investigating mostly current events (not always what’s in the NEWS, just stuff that’s happening) with a variety of viewpoints and takes. It’s Glass has a particular voice, but while he hosts he rarely leads a segment, so don’t let him be the reason you decide for or against it without listening. There’s also a very reasonably priced app which lets you access the back-catalogue.

      Snap Judgement: short stories, some fact some fiction, very personal-experience oriented. The host dominates the segments a bit more.

      Critical Role (how has no-one mentioned this yet?!) – close friends who are actors play D&D for your amusement. So very, very geeky. It’s long-form improve in a fantasy/adventure world. There is an active and passionate fandom. IMO this is a great introductory D&D podcast (and my gosh, there are a lot of them) because of the quality of the character development and role-playing. Actors can act, who’d have guessed? Some people dislike it because individual episodes can run VERY long (3 and 4 hours is not at all uncommon) but I love long-form for my long highway commutes.

    17. Little Swan*

      I listened to chunks of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History podcast, which is in-depth, many-hours studies of specific historical topics. I listened to WWI and Mongols, and they were both great.
      I also recommend suspending disbelief and checking out Joe Rogan – 2-4 hr conversations with all sorts of people, not just political, and almost always interesting (except when it’s fitness or martial arts people).

    18. Cats on a Bench*

      Wondery has a number of podcasts that fit with your interests! I especially like American Scandal and American History Tellers. Also Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell is good. It’s not revisionist in a “the holocaust didn’t happen” kind of way… more like stuff we didn’t know from historical events we all learn/know about.

      I also listen to Radio Lab, This American Life and The Moth regularly.

    19. Lady Alys*

      The History of English Podcast – English language starting back with the Indo-European roots, by Kevin Stroud
      Motherfoclóir – “a podcast about words, Irish, Irish words, and words from Ireland.” I randomly caught an episode mocking the use of awful fake Irish as the default language in Extruded Fantasy Product(TM) novels and have been enjoying the heck out of it ever since.

    20. SG*

      UNCIVIL is perhaps the best podcast I’ve ever listened to. I wish there had been episodes released. Mind-blowing.

    21. LGC*

      You said Behind The Bastards, so…Evil Genius? Basically, the host and a panel of comedians decide whether a figure from history (like – say – Margaret Thatcher or Michael Jackson) is either evil or genius.

    22. DistantAudacity*

      Also, +100 to your recommendation of Signal, the Korean police series (with a twist!) on Netflix. It was truly great, anf I wish I could see it again fresh.

    23. Usernames are hard*

      You’ve gotten lots of great recommendations. I’ll chime in to recommend You’re Wrong About and 99% Invisible and as someone with a lot of overlap with your interests I’ll submit 10 votes in favor of Welcome to Night Vale (start from the beginning).

      Here are a few that weren’t mentioned: The British History Podcast is a long running deep, deep dive into the history of the British Isles. How deep? It’s 9 years in and is just now up to the 1040s.

      Unobscured is a show that does season long deep dives into a single topic. So far they’ve done the Salem witch trials, the Spiritualism movement in the US, and Jack the Ripper.

      David Tennant Does a Podcast is very interesting as well; he does conversational interviews with actors, writers and politicians.

      If you like music, there’s a fascinating show called Music From 100 Years Ago. The host plays songs from the early 20th century, up to about 1950, and is very knowledgeable. The episodes generally have a theme of some kind (example: songs with a color in the title, seasons of the year, etc) and run the gamut of genres and styles. I’m actually a pretty casual music listener but this is one of my favorite shows.

      1. ADHDAnon*

        I don’t listen as much now that I am work from home – but when I had a 2 hour commute I was always on the lookout for good podcasts. Very interested in some of the above!

        My tastes run towards facts, interviews, personal stories and things that make me laugh. Oh- and things with a lot of archives.

        Betty in the Sky with a Suitcase – a flight attendant’s collected stories. Listen from a couple of years ago at least – the pandemic stuff isn’t quite the same, as you might expect.

        Judge John Hodgeman – if you know who he is and like his humor, you’ll like it.

        My Dad Wrote a Porno. NOT safe for work or children- this British guy’s dad wrote a terrible 50 shades of grey-esq book and he reads it out loud to a couple of friends. Just incredibly funny. In the later seasons they interview celebrities who love the podcast – Daisey Riley, Rachel Bloom, Emma Thompson(!) among others.

        No Such Thing as a Fish – fun facts told rapidly and like you’re hanging out with friends

    24. Donkey Hotey*

      It’s a few years older, but if you haven’t listened to the limited series “Wolf 359” – it’s freaking amazing.

  10. Jessie*


    I need advice on how to deal with insomnia. I’ve been a bad sleeper all my life. One I was 25, I developed insomnia and the doctor prescribed me sleeping pills. I took them for 9 years. In 2014, a few months before I was due to get married, I decided that I wanted to stop the sleeping pills because I wanted to try for a baby right after the wedding. I did something stupid and stopped cold turkey. Of course, my body was used to the pills, so I could not sleep for three months. I couldn’t even dose off for a nap. It was horrible. I almost had a nervous breakdown. After that, my body adjusted and I started sleeping without pills. For five years, I slept really well. Beautiful deep restful sleep. It was amazing.
    When my second child was seven months old, my insomnia came back. My daughter turns two next month, so, its been almost 18 months of insomnia. That’s my longest bout ever. In the summer, I decided to go on the pills again, even though I swore I would never use sleeping pills after what happened in 2014. But I was desperate. However, the pills didn’t work, which shocked me. Usually, the pills would knock me out, but this time, they had zero effect. It was scary.
    After a couple of months, I stopped them, since they were useless. And I don’t know what to do about my insomnia. I am just exhausted.
    I just want to go to bed and not feel anything like a normal person. It’s not as bad as in 2014, because I am able to sleep for two three hours per night. However, I need so much more than that. I sleep little and am semi conscious the whole night. I can hear my son if he coughs, my daughter if she sneezes, my husband when he gets up to use the bathroom. I feel the passing of the night slowly, I feel my room getting lighter as the sun comes up at dawn. Then finally, I give up and get up to make tea. I am just exhausted. All I want is to sleep. I’ve talked to my therapist about it, but he’s really not able to do anything. Sometimes, when my daughter naps, I try to nap next to her. A couple of times, I felt myself getting drowsier and drowsier. I get to the point, where I’m almost 98% asleep, but then suddenly I find myself wide awake again. I don’t know what is wrong with my body, that I can’t even dose off for a few seconds.
    I would like some advice. Did anyone have severe insomnia and got better? Any tips?

    1. English, not American*

      This may be no help to you at all and I’m sorry if that’s the case, but it helped me a little when I was suffering from medication-induced insomnia. My therapist advised reframing “a night’s sleep” to “a night’s rest”, and acknowledging that even if you can’t sleep, laying the dark and dozing/meditating is more restful than worrying about sleeping or getting up and doing something. Of course I had the option of stopping the medication, but taking the pressure off “failing” to sleep did make the waking nights feel more restorative than they were before.

      Insomnia is truly miserable, I hope you manage to find a solution.

    2. PollyQ*

      It doesn’t sound like you’ve seen a doctor about this since that 1st one that prescribed the meds? I recommend you get a referral to a sleep doctor, because this seems like it’s gone beyond a self-help situation. (Which is to say that it sounds fricken awful, and I’m so sorry you’ve been suffering with it so long!)

      1. Jessie*

        I talked to a psychiatrist last summer and was prescribed sleeping pills. I’ve never seen a sleep doctor, but could do after the corona situation eases.
        But I was interested in hearing other people’s stories. I want to know that this could be overcome.

        1. ten four*

          Start making calls now! Perhaps they can do online appointments, and if they can’t then you’re going to want to make an appointment now because they will fill up.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        PLEASE see your doctor and get a referral to a sleep specialist. Insist on a complete workup which might include an MRI to diagnose the problem. Keep using your health care ’til you get an answer.
        I’m really, really hoping you’ll get answers and solutions soon.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sleep doctors now have equipment you can wear home to sleep in your own bed to eliminate a lot of the other variables. Might be a lot less potential exposure than you realize.
        I have sleep apnea, and I can tell when it’s time to replace disposable components because I don’t stay asleep.

    3. Morning reader*

      I don’t know anyone whose insomnia is as severe, but marijuana edibles have been effective for 3 regular insomniacs I know, at least for getting to sleep. Takes a bit of trial to find the right kind. Besides that, sounds like a sleep doctor is in order. They can do quite a lot via telemedicine and I believe there might be a way to do an at home sleep study.

    4. Doctor is In*

      Insomnia is very difficult to treat. Counseling with a therapist for insomnia may help.

    5. Venus*

      Are you in the US? There is a new medication for insomnia within the past year and it works really well for someone I know with severe insomnia. Let me know if you want the name of it.

          1. Venus*

            And Dayvigo apparently just became available in more countries outside the US. A longer half-life than Belsomra, but better than other meds my friend has tried.

    6. Sleepyman*

      Caveat anecdote: I’ve had sleep issues since I was a kid, tried a bunch of stuff but during COVID it got really bad. The over the counter sleeping pills either didn’t work, or I’d not sleep through the night. I went to the doctor and got ambien which was like magic. Given the stories I’d heard about ambien, I didn’t want to take every night, so I didn’t sleep well every night.

      But then, I was talking with my dad and how he took a b-complex daily, and I had been feeling run down and thought “what the heck, I’ll give it a go” and it was like night and day. While I’ve still needed the ambien here and there, now just not very often — maybe once every two weeks instead of every other day.

      It could be a post hoc ergo propter hoc (after, therefore because) conclusion to say the b-complex did it, but I did read somewhere that b vitamins can affect sleep, so :shrug:.

      1. Julia*

        Careful with B vitamins – for me, they have the reverse effect and cause me sleep issues. I have to take them very early in the morning if I want to take them anyway (I have to sometimes), anything closer to my bedtime will result in restless nights with creepy dreams.

    7. nep*

      I feel for you. Lack of sleep is pure hell.
      I don’t mean to say that your issue is all down to what you eat, but I will say that when I cut out anything sugary (and I’m not a big sweets person/don’t eat cookies or candy–I mean things like Larabar bars), the number one greatest impact I noticed was sounder sleep.
      I hope you’ll find solutions. Wishing you all the best.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, that helped me a lot also. Start cutting back on caffeine if you like coffee or chocolate especially in the afternoon. Part of my problem was mineral deficiencies. I can just see me taking all the sleeping pills in the world and still be wide awake all night. Mineral supplements helped so much. Vitamin D will help.

        It could be that you need some B vitamins. It’s cruel and ironic that we actually need energy to sleep. If we have no energy we can’t sleep.

        A good general thing is to hydrate properly every day. Proper hydration levels encourage organ function and in turn a body that is working correctly is more apt to go to sleep at night.

      2. Jessie*

        I was on a health plan the last three months and have been eating really well. I reduced sugar to just one fruit a day. But unfortunately in my case, it didn’t help.

    8. Purt’s Peas*

      I had a briefer bout of insomnia than it sounds like you had, but I really liked Say Good Night To Insomnia by Jacobs & Benson. It’s a CBT-style thing and it really, really, really helped me. The other thing that helps me a lot is meditating before bed—I get into bed and do some breathing so I can feel all the anxiety or racing thoughts and get em over with before it’s time to sleep.

      1. Purt’s Peas*

        Other things: I never talked to my doctor about my insomnia but it’s probably worth it for you to do so given the scale of the issue. And if you take melatonin, it’s important to take a small amount a few hours before sleep instead of messing around with your dose.

    9. Sleepy*

      I don’t have any suggestions, but I strongly recommend a book: “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walkers. (I’m not affiliated or related to the author). 100% scientific facts and explanations about sleeping mechanisms, it might help you to understand the problem better and seek for the right help.
      It brought great changes in my life (but I don’t have severe sleep problems).
      I’m really sorry you’re dealing with all of this and I wish you all the best.

    10. Squidhead*

      Nurse here to say that there are a lot of different meds to help people sleep and they work in different ways. So if you are willing to try a different medication to see if it works, talk to your doctor. In my experience as a night shift nurse, the difference in effect is staggering…like one patient will sleep easily with a tiny dose of X and another patient will take 4X and still be wide awake…but if we can switch them to a different med then the “normal” dose of the new med works fine. Obviously I can’t recommend a particular med…your provider needs to take into account your medical history…but I think it’s worth another conversation with them.

    11. Mx*

      I use an app to play nature sounds, like the sound of the wind, of a river, of birds…It generally works.
      Other thing I have done with more or less success is reading in bed (not on a screen as the blue light will make things worse) a paper book. The book shouldn’t be too exciting.
      A friend have solved her insomnia with hypnotherapy sessions. This didn’t work for me, but it works for some people.

      1. MCL*

        I was going to say, I am a light sleeper sometimes and noises will wake me easily. We have a fan in the bedroom providing white noise and I have a white noise machine when I travel. Would that help with the nighttime noise?

      2. Jessie*

        I used ASMR videos for a while. They were very helpful. But it’s not effective this time around. They make me drowsy, but I still can’t sleep.

    12. Girasol*

      I like to listen to favorite stories from Audible. I pick books read y calm sounding readers, load them on my phone, and wear a light headset in bed. When I’m sleepless I turn off the timer and run the player all night. It takes away that sense of frustrated boredom. In the morning when I look at the player I realize how much of the story has gone by unheard as I dozed with it on and feel better knowing I got some sleep. It’s not as good as a good deep sleep but it’s better than feeling like I got none at all.

    13. TextHead*

      I’ve had a slew of sleeping issues throughout my life that have only started getting better over the last year. I had a sleep doc and had 2 nighttime sleep studies and one daytime study, none of which resulted in helpful actions from the doc. Seeing a naturopath is what finally moved things forward for me and it’s been a lifesaver. We’ve had to work on a lot of different things, but my sleep and energy are definitely improving.

      Some general tips that help me:
      1. Avoid screens at night. I hated being told this as screens were part of my routine, but reading instead is really helpful.
      2. Use some sort of white noise machine if sounds bother you. I’m super sensitive to sounds when sleeping. I once woke up from a power outage because I stopped hearing a fan lol! For me, I play rain sounds.
      3. Get a sleep mask if you’re light sensitive or make sure to block out lights in your room. My phone charger light is much brighter than I would have thought!
      4. Don’t eat too close to bedtime, especially anything heavy.
      5. If your mind is ruminating in bed, sometimes getting up for a few minutes breaks that cycle and I can lie back down to sleep.
      6. Keep your room cool. You sleep better that way.

      I also have an Oura ring. It’s a sleep and activity tracker. It gives me a sleep score each night and shows factors like being restless, high heart rate, lack of REM, etc. You can add tags to start tracking things that lead to high and low scores.

      Sleep issues suck and I wish you all the best!

      1. Jessie*

        Thanks for the tips. I’ve never heard of an Oura ring. I think something like that would be very helpful for me.

        1. TextHead*

          It’s totally been worth it for me. I only got it for the sleep aspects of it after my naturopath recommended it, but it also tracks activity and readiness and I’ve gotten a lot of value from that too. I’m more active with it as it sets active calorie burn goals and also tells me when I should lay off more intense activities. I ignored that once and was exhausted for the rest of the day – now I listen lol!

          In terms of size, they sent a ring sizing kit and it matched that. They don’t have half sizes unfortunately and I tend to fall in between, but I got a cheap ring adjuster from Amazon that works well with it.

    14. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I had insomnia during and after pregnancy. My doc put me on an antidepressant (instead of a sleeping pill.) It works well for me. Officially, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression even though I wasn’t unhappy, I just couldn’t sleep.

      1. Belle*

        This. Postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety could also be at play. I had postpartum anxiety and the only symptom insomnia. My OB GYN was able to help me find a medicine to deal with the anxiety and I suddenly was able to sleep again. I would recommend you also talk to your doctor to see if this could be a factor.

    15. pieforbreakfast*

      I’ve had sleep issues with insomnia my whole life that were amplified with peri-menopause (and will probably be even more so with menopause if I can go by my older sisters’ experience). My gynecologist recommended acupuncture and it helped. It took a few sessions. Your experience with rebound insomnia after your second baby makes me wonder if it’s hormone related. Another reason to talk to your doctor/gyno/endocrinologist.

      1. Jessie*

        Yeah, I always wondered about that. Nothing specific happened at that time to trigger it. Maybe it is due to a hormonal issue. It was right after I stopped breastfeeding as well.

    16. ronda*

      when my mom was very ill and near the end of her life, she was not sleeping. She would drop off and wake up a few minutes later with the idea that she had work to do.

      her oncologist put her on anti anxiety med. It seemed to help.

      1. Pennyworth*

        I had a long spell of anxiety-induced insomnia. One of the things that worked for me was listening to a podcast or anything I really wanted to hear, and my contrary mind would put me to sleep before it finished. Some things I still don’t now how they ended even though I listened to them repeatedly. Not knowing the end made me realise I was actually falling asleep at some time and made me feel better. Calming noises don’t work for me because my mind can still think about other things.

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          I do this too. Something that works well for me is gaming streams, particularly MTG / DOTA drafts. It’s just interesting enough that I listen, but it’s also very low-stakes and very episodic, so it’s OK if I’m zoning in and out. “They could pick A, for reasons, or B, for other reasons. Ah, they picked C. Maybe they want to pick D next…” Zzz.

    17. KoiFeeder*

      My CPAP has saved my life, and I’m not even sure this is a joke. I didn’t realize that I was having chest pains at night until they stopped happening. I probably wouldn’t have nightly panic attacks any more if I went off my antianxiety meds, but that I’m not testing.

    18. chi chan*

      How about trying to sleep alone. It seems that you can’t relax with your kids and husband moving. Are you all in the same room? If you haven’t slept for weeks try to send the kids and husband out for a drive and see if you can sleep with a silent house in the morning or something. Other than that there are different sleep meds, also sleep disorders like apnea or something can be interfering. You need to see a doctor, like a sleep specialist or internal medicine that takes a holistic view of everything. If you can notice what is happening when you try to sleep. It will give you things to discuss with the doctor. Are you anxious and thinking? Are your muscles tense, jaw, shoulder? Ask if your husband can massage you for a while.

    19. KeinName*

      There is a British training programme for it, in which you only use your bedroom for sleep and get up when you cannot sleep and always wake up at the same Time, there is a Guardian podcast about it Valley A Cure For Insomnia

    20. Koala dreams*

      I don’t have the same type of sleep problems as you, but I’ve had my problems for a long time.
      My tips:
      1. If you try a treatment and it doesn’t work for whatever reason, book another appointment, ideally with the same provider, tell them what happened and ask for help. Usually doctors (around here at least) assume that “no news is good news”.
      2. Sleep issues can be treated by different professions, not just doctors. Perhaps you need a combination of medicine, therapy (physical/talk/occupational) or something else. Don’t give up if the first person can’t help you, try someone else.
      3. Now with corona many providers offer tele-appointments or phone meetings. I find them hard to navigate but many people think it’s much easier than traditional visits to a clinic.

    21. kelimac*

      I have found guided meditation to be useful when I struggle with insomnia. I like the podcast “Meditation Oasis” which is free on Castbox. The hosts voice is calm and soothing and there are specific meditations for sleeping, anxiety, stress, grief, etc.

    22. B*

      I’m sorry you are going through this. Sleep impacts so much.
      First talk to your doctor.
      I will say after children my sleep has suffered. I find earplugs help. Any noise or suspected noise can pull me out of sleep.
      Some good supports: CBT-i is a free app by the va. It’s good. Yoga nidra (google will pull up a bunch). Also there are good podcasts that support sleep. “Sleep with me” is good. Basically it subs the space where rumination would be to boring narrative.

  11. Potatoes gonna potate*

    I hope this is ok to ask here? I’m looking for recommendations on groups for interior design for smaller spaces where renovations are limited? Not really looking for blogs or ads but a place I can post pictures and ask for advice.

    I’m in a few interior design groups online but it seems like the vast majority of them cater to people who either custom build their own home or have the budget for massive renovations. Like, huge custom designed homes and expensive designer furniture, each and every detail examined… people bickering over baseboards and shiplap…Just not the right fit for me. I don’t like blogs or ads and prefer the interactions of groups. TIA.

    1. Courtney*

      Have you tried reddit? A lot of subreddits show up on a search for interior design. r/designmyroom looks closest to what you’re looking for.

    2. TechWorker*

      Have you tried Houzz? There’s an app which I quite like and people happy to give advice.

    3. Geraldine*

      The subreddit r/homedecorating seems to be ideal for this sort of thing. Some people share what they’ve done, and others share pictures of their space and ask for input. Doesn’t seem like a lot of them have massive custom houses or anything, although there’s definitely a range.

    4. Disco Janet*

      Reddit has an interior design Reddit, and one for apartment design (helpful in general for small spaces. I bet if you posted in the interior design subreddit asking for small home design inspiration that doesn’t call for massive renovations, you’d get a bunch of advice and pictures. People love sharing what they’ve found or put together there, and you can be specific about what you’re looking for. Attracts a younger crowd than Facebook, so smaller spaces and budgets are more common.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        I’m a little scared to join and participate on that site but I’ll check it out thanks

        1. Drtheliz*

          I’ve found that Reddit varies hugely by sub, so by leaving anywhere that makes me uncomfortable and having zero qualms about the “block user” button it’s been a positive experience.

          (Though I’m getting a lot of ads for intermittent fasting at the moment, which makes me cross, but… Eh.)

    5. Batgirl*

      I’ve been looking up interiors on Pinterest and the standard result was “buy a mansion and paint everything white”. OK then.

    6. Melon*

      If you’re just looking for furnishings, an e-design service is probably your best bet. Pay a low flat fee and get layout and furniture suggestions. If you’re looking for more overall advise from a hive mind, look at Emily Henderson’s paid group – lots of like minded people with Opinions.

  12. TikTok Newbie*

    I’m getting started on TikTok…and have no idea what I’m doing?! Do you have any resources for learning how to make great videos?

    Basically I need an AAM for TikTok! lol

    1. LGC*

      So wait, what kind of videos are you trying to make? That’s probably the starting point – have an idea of what you’re trying to do.

  13. Kitten parent*

    I know there’s lots of cat owners here. For those who sleep with cats in the bedroom, is there any solution to avoid being woken up at 6am or is that just the deal :) ?

    If need be we can shut them in one room overnight (which has food/litter/water and access to the outside, although cat flap is only scheduled to open around dawn), but my partner doesn’t like doing this, and nor do I really, they whinge a bit and it’s faff before we go to bed to make sure toys are moved in there and to get them in there if they’re napping elsewhere. We can’t just shut them out of the bedroom because they claw at the hall carpet to get in… so the current state of play is they’re in the bedroom with us. This works fine until around 6 (varies a bit obviously) when they decide to jump on the bed, miaow for food etc. (They do often have a bit of dry food left so they’re just needy :p). My partner went through a phase of always getting up to take them downstairs (and says he’s ok with doing so cos he’s the instigator of ‘cats in the bedroom’) but I’m a lighter sleeper (especially at the moment due to some medication) and at the moment they seem to be disrupting my sleep more.

    If I do motivate to get up and take them downstairs to feed them/shut them in then I normally get another hours sleep, but when I’m half asleep I’m often like ‘oh maybe I can sleep through this’… and then I don’t and I’m tired cos I’ve had less sleep than I want! Urgh. Any suggestions/advice/experience welcome.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was adamant that there would be no cats in my bedroom for pretty much what you describe. (My husband is a cat person and I am not.) we prevented the hallway carpet claws by putting a plastic runner under the door that went a couple feet out into the hallway, and that worked a treat. After a couple weeks they stopped bothering the bedroom door.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Same! No cats in the bedroom at our house. He learned to stop when we never opened the door for him.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          One of the cats occasionally darts in during the day if we open the door, but universally, she runs in and under the bed, we roll our eyes and close the door behind her, and within ninety seconds she’s all “NOOOO I’M TRAPPED” pawing at the door and mewing to get back out, after which we’re safe for at least a month. :-P

          1. Dwight Schrute*

            Yes! My guy goes in during the day and he will occasionally try to dart in at bed time but he knows he can’t stay in over night

      2. Sylvan*

        If you’re thinking about trying the mat, maybe give it a trial run by taping down a piece of tin foil. Most cats don’t like touching it.

    2. Flower necklace*

      Maybe try a timed feeder? I have one that opens around midnight. My situation is a little different because my cat mainly eats wet food, so some dry food in the middle of the night functions as a snack and means he’s not hungry super early.

      Since yours already have food, maybe you could set it to open up at the time they would normally wake you up and break their routine that way.

    3. Grim*

      Cats ok to 6am? Sounds heavenly as my boys need chow at 3 to 4am every day. They eat can food that I put out at 10pm and they both agree that what’s left in their bowls is too stale to eat and they need can-fresh chow.

    4. Doctor is In*

      Pets in the bedroom are a common cause of lost sleep. Only real solution is to shut them out. We put our two cats in the finished basement at night.

      1. Jackalope*

        This was my solution. One of my cats spent years pawing and scratching at the door in the middle of the night and not taking no for an answer even when I ignored him. We moved to a place with a basement which is the new kitty palace at night, and now he is fine. In fact, since we feed them right before they go to bed, they’ll usually run downstairs and nudge us towards the basement purring to get their basement time. (Note that they eat mostly kibble, so they still have food in their bowls, but even if their bowls are full it is still required that I come downstairs and touch the bowls, or swirl the kibble around in the bowl, etc., so they feel like they have been fed and will eat from their already full kibble bowls…).

        1. Jackalope*

          Forgot to mention that if we come downstairs after basement time starts, say because we need something, the cats will give us a Look as if to say, “This is cat territory only at this hour; why have the humans invaded our space?” It’s pretty entertaining.

    5. mreasy*

      You may be able to “sleep train” the cats to wake you up later, at your regular wake up time. Basically just do not get up until your usually wake up time. This means that for a few days or a week, you will have to live through their meows, swipes at your face, laying their entire 17-lb body on your head…YMMV…but eventually they will likely get used to the new time if you stick it out. You’ll just have a rough week or so.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        I did this simply by subjecting my cat to a “compulsory cuddle”. I curl right round her, and hold her down and stroke her back to sleep. She’d been waking me for breakfast at 3am and I’d given it to her because she had lost a lot of weight and was generally under par. Once she’d put her weight back on I started on the compulsory cuddling. Within a few days she was waking me up much later. I would stroke her to sleep and we would both go back to sleep together, it’s really quite blissful.
        She’s now 16 yo and a bit doolally: she’ll be sleeping happily between me and my partner (so getting warmth on both sides), then she’ll get up, run upstairs (where there are only three closed doors, nothing for her to do) and yowl like she’s in horrific pain or being tortured. She doesn’t seem to hear me calling, so I have to go to get her and bring her back. This is apparently par for the course with very old female cats, so OP, if your cats are getting on, prepare for more sleep disturbance.

        1. I'm A Little Teapot*

          Sounds like kitty dementia type stuff. Dealt with it. It got a lot worse when the cat went deaf!

      2. comityoferrors*

        This is what we did, too, plus making sure they have enough kibble to last until we get up. I also noticed that when we got blackout curtains, both cats are more content to be quiet and rest. They get up to use the litter box and eat a morning snack and then go back to snoozing.

        Cats hate change but love routines; if you can handle the rough transition period, they’ll adapt.

      3. Not So NewReader*


        I adopted someone else’s cat. I knew what time they got up every day because the cat told me.

        I would answer the cat’s sounds/motions with the word “bedtime” and I would roll over to go back to sleep. This went on for a week, maybe two weeks, but it was not long.

        If you get up when they tell you, then they will just keep telling you.

        Optionally, you could consider kicking the cat out of the bedroom when it acts up. You may have to do this 2 or 3 times then they get it.

    6. YrLocalLibrarian*

      I’m a door open person and can’t sleep with the bedroom door closed, so my cats have the run of the house including our bedroom. When we first got a cat I read advice to feed them at night, before bed, after a good playtime. Supposedly this mimics their natural hunt, eat, sleep patterns. This worked like magic, even when we got a second cat. They pester us in the evenings sometimes in advance of their meal, but that’s really no bother when you’re up and about.

    7. Me*

      Upthread someone asked about how to become a morning person.

      Pets in the bedroom is the solution.

      Honestly it doesn’t bother me to have them in there because I start working at 6 am. We currently have a 3 month old puppy that sleeps in the kennel on my side of the bed for a few hours and then sleeps between us on the bed for the rest of the night. Our cat sleep on the other side of me (outer edge of the bed). We were joking last night that our lives would be more complete if our 90 lb dog would only join us too.

    8. MCL*

      Our cats are not allowed in the bedrooms. There are baby gates shutting them out (they’re old and overweight). We have a timed feeder. They do just fine. I have gotten used to the gates, but if your cat can jump them then other solutions needed!

    9. Generic Name*

      Do you feed your cats in the morning? When I got my current set of cats, I decided that I would give them their wet food in the evening rather than the morning. They seem to start asking for their dinner about 1.5 hours before the time I normally feed them, so I’m really glad they aren’t used to getting fed in the morning. Maybe switch to putting their food out in the evening and see if that helps? It will probably take a while for them to get used to the switch.

      1. Kitten Parent*

        They’re 9 months and honestly we’ve got into the habit of feeding them small portions very frequently (which we’ll have to break if we go back into the office). So they get fed in the morning, throughout the day and before we go to bed too…

        1. Sylvan*

          I’m sorry to say that if they’re that young, they’re probably going to be active at night for a long time. But you can try playing more in the day and feeding them just before bed to help them feel sleepy at night.

    10. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Well, YMMV, but I don’t close the door completely. The cats can wander in and out. However, they are trained that if they’re noisy in the room with me, bad things may happen (mostly asleep me will shove them off the bed or throw the kleenix box at the them).

      If they’ve been trained that breakfast is at 6, then breakfast is at 6 even if you want to sleep in on the weekend, so just get up and feed them. If you need to adjust what time breakfast is at, then you need to consistently feed them at that time and give them absolutely no attention until that time. They’re like toddlers. Negative attention is better than no attention.

    11. Yellow Warbler*

      You need to be consistent. They whine and rip the carpet because it works.

      No pets allowed in our bedroom, ever. They know it, and don’t bother crying anymore. They sit quietly on the landing and wait for us to get up and make their breakfast.

      Gird your loins, lock them out, and wear earplugs. Do not open the door to move them, or shush them, or interact with them at all. Both negative and positive attention is a reward. Shut the door, ignore. They will give up with 2-3 weeks of consistency.

      1. Kitten Parent*

        Hahaha I think the problem is we’re way too soft. (My partner moreso than me). Thanks though, may have to persuade him that we should be tougher to train them to get up later!

    12. Cats on a Bench*

      You could try an auto feeder. Ours wanted to be fed at 4am. That was a no go for us and just ignoring it didn’t work. Instead, I got an auto feeder. And programmed it for the time they were bugging us. It has a function that calls them to come eat with my voice. Once they were trained that when they heard that call they were getting food, I was able to move the time incrementally to 6am so that they didn’t have to go so long before the next feeding time (because they were bothering me at a bad time of day too).

    13. tangerineRose*

      I keep some dry food in the bedroom so they always have some food. I’ve got a tupperware container with food in it and a bowl next to it, and I try to make sure there’s enough food in the bowl at night. Seems to help.

    14. Rebecca Stewart*

      We have one cat who will sleep with us all night, but once she goes to sleep in the crook of your legs, you better not move. She grows roots into the mattress.
      We have one who has a focus on woolsucking on my blanket and kneading me painfully and thoroughly before she settles down to sleep, and when she wakes up in the night will do another round of woolsucking. And we have a three month old kitten, who thinks that feet under covers and wrinkles in blankets require pouncing, and the only thing more fun than that is to pounce the other two cats, which occasions much screeching and hissing.

      So no one sleeps with us. They’re used to it, and it’s the way it is, and they have the rest of the house to do stuff in.

    15. Cedrus Libani*

      The cats want to be in the bedroom. The humans object, because the cats take up valuable leg space, and also they wake up before the crack of dawn and start pouncing on feet, purring on heads, etc.

      We use a “Ssscat” device to keep the cats away from the door at night. They do still yowl in protest, but they don’t scratch the door all night, so that’s good enough. Pro tip: the official refill canisters are way overpriced, but the device is compatible with ordinary cans of compressed air.

    16. Suzanne*

      Self feeder. And you have to IGNORE them. Because any movement from you and that teaches them that you can be woken up.

      My cat just waits until I get up to feed her. I’m an early riser anyhow. If I’m sleeping in I’ll get up and feed her and then go back to bed. I generally wake up at 4 am (sleep maintenance insomnia) so I feed her then. If I’m going back to bed I’ll read for a bit first so I can fall asleep. But when I’m working I’m usually up at that time. She rarely has the opportunity to wake me up!

    17. Sc@rlettNZ*

      For this very reason our cats have their own bedroom. I would love to have them sleep with us at night (my childhood cats slept with me, as have previous cats) but one of ours is a total PITA at night and there is no sleep to be had if Klaus is on the loose.

      He scratches on the shower door of the ensuite, he gets up on the chest of drawers and bangs the wooden bead on the end of the roman blind cord against the wall, he knocks everything off the bedside tables, he gets behind the roman blind and makes a heap of noise, he gets up on the drawers and bangs his paws against a fairly expensive oil painting which hangs in our bedroom. If we shut the bedroom door he spends the entire night rattling the doorknob and singing us the song of his people. In short, he’s a nightmare.

      His brother just curls up and goes to sleep. If he leaves the bed during the night, he sees no reason to involve the humans. We could let Elijah stay out and sleep with us but I know that my partner really, really, really doesn’t like sleeping with cats so he gets put to bed with his brother.

      When we put them to bed, they get fed. This has resulted in Klaus unilaterally deciding that 8 – 8.30pm is bedtime and annoying my partner until he gives in. I’m less easily annoyed so Mr Klaus is in for a rude shock this week as my partner is away and I’m in charge of cat bedtime lol.

    18. Anonymous Hippo*

      I have found you can train them to pay attention to the alarm. I use an alarm every day, even weekdays, just change the time. I don’t get out of bed or play with my cats or dogs until after the alarm goes. If they bug me after that I just ignore them. Takes a little while for them to figure out when they are new, but they’ve all adapated. Now, when my alarm goes off, everybody comes running for morning snuggles.

      1. Anonymous Hippo*

        I’ve also never fed on demand. I feed everyone at the same time (currently 2 dogs 1 cat) whenever I get around to it. Depending on the day, morning feeding can be anywhere from 630am-930am, evenings 5pm-8pm. So they don’t get demandy and expect food unless they see me pick up the bowls to fill, and then they all get super excited.

  14. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Writing thread! How’s everyone’s writing going?
    As usual, this thread is not limited to fiction writing.
    Still mostly work for the Thing That Shan’t Be Discussed In This Thread, but I’m hoping to get back to my fiction soon.

    1. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Argh, still stalled out, even on the editing. I’ve been working full steam on another hobby, and that has been all consuming. But I miss writing! Basically, I just want more hours of the day…

      I’m rooting for the other folks who post here, though! I always read, but don’t always post. Go you, you writing people! :)

    2. Jennifer*

      Been having a tough time lately. Can’t concentrate. What I do write is just terrible. But maybe it’s okay to have a crappy first draft.

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        Honestly I’d argue a first draft is kind of supposed to be crappy. That’s what editing is for, after all :).
        Also someone on Twitter once asked how to plot a book and Neil Gaiman’s response was “write down everything that happens in the story, and then in the second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along”. This may or may not work for you, but honestly I wouldn’t worry about first drafts *too* much.

        1. fposte*

          In Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird (which I highly recommend), she has a whole chapter devoted to the importance of shitty first drafts.

          1. Teatime is Goodtime*

            I LOVED that book! It was such a fun read, far beyond the “I want to actually write something” thing. :)

      2. Queer Earthling*

        Can I throw No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty into the recommendations? It’s specifically about the NaNoWriMo process, but it’s also invaluable for just…encouraging you to keep writing and not worrying about if it’s good or not.

    3. Writing Research*

      I have a writing question.

      I have an idea for a story that requires background knowledge a regular person would not have access to, but that I could get access to, using a work contact. Nothing secret or dangerous, just an obscure specialized product that requires attending customer classes.

      Would it be out of line to request to join a training class for this product, assuming the class is already going to happen, and I wouldn’t be costing them any money by joining in? I could justify it through my job, though it probably wouldn’t happen organically without me pushing the issue.

      1. fposte*

        Does otherwise cost to attend the classes? Then I think it’s tricky to request free access. Either way I think you stay as transparent as possible (“I’m a writer working on a fiction project and I really need info about widgets—is there a chance I could audit the class?”). If you’ve been published, that’ll help, so list your credits or at least a few major ones. I wouldn’t push for access through your workplace as your interest is for your side gig.

    4. Rebecca Stewart*

      I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about the novel and the characters. The more of that I do the more the characters will just naturally interact and tell the story without a lot of strain on my part.

    5. TechWorker*

      I have always loved world building and creating stories, but my actual writing is terrible :) (stilted, I can imagine conversations but no one wants a book that’s entirely a set of conversations it would read like a soap opera script..). Very much a background hobby rather than something I ever intend to take seriously, but how do people get better at writing? Is writing something bad and then trying to edit it into something better a place to start or ought I try to learn more about the mechanics of writing first? (I haven’t studied English since I was 16, I did perfectly well in it then but it wasn’t challenging and didn’t really focus on fiction writing anyway).

  15. A.N. O'Nyme*

    Gaming thread! What’s everyone been playing this week?
    As usual, this is not limited to video games or console/PC games, feel free to talk about anything you wish. Also feel free to ask for recommendations or help identifying a vaguely-remembered game.
    I’ve been playing Super Mario Odyssey and after some difficulty (either misjudged a jump or ran into a tiny pool of poison) finally beat the boss in the Flower Garden. Also continuing my adventures with Sherlock Holmes, I’m about halfway through vs Jack the Ripper now.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We just picked up Ring Fit Adventures yesterday and so far it’s the first video game since to original Plants vs Zombies to hold my attention for more than like five minutes at a time. So that will hopefully be a thing for a bit :)

      1. A.N. O'Nyme*

        I play Ring Fit as well and honestly, I love it. Definitely makes it a lot easier for me to stick with exercising.
        I’ve learned I mostly need to work on my abs ^^’.

      2. DistantAudacity*

        I also just started with RingFit, after someone recommended it here recently :)

        Very enjoyable!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yeah, I saw it here first and then two friends also mentioned they’d started using it recently, so I hopped on board :)

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      I bought Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for the Switch since it was on special offer, and have mostly been playing that (with a bit of Animal Crossing: New Horizons). I’ve never played any game like Breath of the Wild before so it’s a bit of a learning curve, but I’m starting to get the hang of it. Just need to get the hang of killing this Stone Talus now!

    3. anon24*

      I’m still plugging through AC Odyssey on PC. I really like it but it is hard to focus sometimes because there is so much going on and my brain can’t decide which direction I want to run.

      I also keep going back to Synth Riders on VR. It’s a rhythm game where you are standing on a moving platform flying forward in a tunnel and you punch colored notes in rhythm to a song while occasionally dodging obstacles and “grabbing” rails in midair. It’s a blast and I like it a little better than Beat Saber, which is the most popular VR rhythm game right now.

      And I just got invited to join a DnD group online. I’m super excited but really intimated. I’ve never played DnD before and don’t know anything about it but I think it sounds really fun.

    4. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      Animal Crossing! First video game and system I’ve ever purchased for myself, and I’m having a blast. Playing with my young adult kids has been a great way to stay connected while we can’t be in person.

    5. Dr. KMnO4*

      I am hooked on Hades! It’s a rogue-lite game, so if you die before the final boss you have to start over from the beginning. You do get ways to get permanent upgrades which makes things easier for subsequent runs. The story and gameplay work very well together, and the art and music are amazing. I beat the final boss on my 44th run. It was frustrating at times, but I always felt like I would be able to succeed eventually. There’s also a mode that makes things easier every time you die so that you can experience the story even if you are struggling with the combat. There are so many cool things about this game, and even though I’ve beat the final boss almost 60 times now, I haven’t seen everything it has to offer.

    6. Jackalope*

      So two games: I got the board game Mage Knight Ultimate Edition for Christmas, and have been working on learning it. It’s got a pretty steep learning curve, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where I sort of know what’s going on enough to have fun with it. One of the things that made me excited about it was that it has a 1 player option for nights when I really feel like playing a game but no one else is interested/available.

      And to the people who recommended Fire Emblem: Three Houses to me, thank you, thank you, thank you! I also got that game for Christmas (yes, my theme for Christmas presents this year was, “Things I can do in the middle of a pandemic!”), and have played about 60 hours since then (I was off last week, so a lot of it was then, but I got in a fair amount this weekend as well). I’ve been having so much fun with it! Just finished the Expansion Pass plot last night, which was harder than I’d been expecting, but I enjoy the new characters and it was fun. I am currently working on recruiting every single person possible to my house; I have everyone recruitable now except Mercedes, and I’m confident we’ll get there soon with her too. Started this play-through with the Black Eagles, which has been fun.

    7. Nynaeve*

      I’ve been playing Wordscapes, which is just a free phone game that’s kind of a combination of Boggle and crossword puzzles. It is the right kind of distraction I need right now – not too complicated, but just complicated enough to focus your attention and give you a little dopamine hit when you solve it.

    8. ThePear8*

      I FINALLY booted up the Nintendo Switch my friend sold me in October and that I haven’t touched thanks to being busy with school, and now I can play Mario Kart with my sister and it’s awesome!

    9. Anonymous Hippo*

      I got completely obsessed with Settlers of Catan over Christmas break. My siblings and I played it a week straight during the holidays, and I’ve just got the expansion (5-6players) plus the seafarer version that I’m dying to break out as soon as they get back from mom’s.

      I also played nearly 100 hours of Cyberpunk 2077. It wasn’t everything I was hoping, but it’s a pretty good game nonetheless.

  16. Jennifer*

    Hi Everyone – Looking for advice from anyone that has had to quarantine due to Covid. My hubby was exposed to someone who tested positive at work. I am getting tested Monday. I have a dog that needs to be walked twice a day. How did other people handle quarantine with pets? I don’t have a backyard so I can’t just let her out to do her business.

    1. Elf*

      I don’t think you are endangering anyone if you wear a mask, take your dog out for a walk, and are conscientious about staying FARTHER than six feet from people. You are also probably not under an official quarantine order, and will not be until/unless your husband tests positive (he is the one under quarantine because he was exposed).

      Walk your dog and stay away from people

    2. nep*

      I don’t have a dog, but what immediately came to mind when I read your post is exactly what Elf and I edit everything are saying. 100%.

    3. Anonosaurus*

      There’s a website called borrow my doggy in the UK which matches dog owners with people who want some dog time but can’t/don’t want to own one. If there is an equivalent where you are, maybe you could find a walker and do a contact-free and masked handover at your door?

      1. Jennifer*

        What a cute idea! I didn’t see anything like that in my area, but I hope it’s available here one day.

        1. TechWorker*

          Idk how active it is where you live, but ‘nextdoor’ is a social network esque thing that shows posts from people who live very close. Folks round here have been asking for dog walkers or help collecting food/medicine when they’ve been isolating and got loads of offers – people working from home may well want more time exercising, so may be a way of finding someone if you decide you can’t go out (or actually get sick).

          1. Jennifer*

            That’s a good suggestion. I need to do a better job of getting to know my neighbors since I may need to rely on them.

      2. Bagpuss*

        Are there any community assistance options? Also in the UK and I know that there is an official helpline which coordinates volunteers with people needing help – I think initially it was aiming to help people who needed food and medicines delivering, and things like that, but I think it has expanded, and then there are lots of more local voluntary options – I remember getting a flyer from my Parish council early on with numbers and e-mail addresses for people coordinating locally, which you could contact either to ask for or offer help, and info on the village facebook page too.

        Even if there is nothing like that, would you be able to contact a local dogwalking service and have them pick the dog up – perhaps they could phone or text you when they arrived and you could then take the dog and tie his leash to the door handle, and they could wait until you were back inside and then untie and walk him, doing the reverse when they brought him back so you don’t need to come into contact .

        I think here, going out to walk the dog would be breach if you were supposed to be self-isolating – the guidance certainly says it should be walked by someone else in those circumstances, although in practice of course that may depend on your location – if you like in a remote rural area you can probably go out safely without coming anywhere near anyone else. In a city you probably can’t, unless maybe you go or a midnight walk…

    4. Choggy*

      Yeah, others can only contract Covid if they are exposed for long periods of time with infected people. Being outside, walking your dog, masked up, keeping distance, should be perfectly fine. It’s necessary for the dog, and will probably provide you with some much needed fresh air. My husband is a nurse who has not only been exposed to Covid while working (three of his co-workers got it), but was never told to quarantine and expected to go back to work (masked, social-distanced, etc.). He has always taken Covid seriously, and even wore a mask on our flight to FL back in the beginning of March (I did not, but did when we came back two weeks later!) He gets tested every week, and has so far been negative, and just got the first of the two vaccine shots this past week. I think you are a very low risk for exposing others by walking your dog.

    5. KiwiApple*

      I would also walk your dog at less busy times if at all possible so you are avoiding less people.

    6. Jennifer*

      Thanks for the suggestions, y’all! I’m just a Nervous Nelly about this stuff. The coast looks clear outside so I’m about to take her spoiled highness for a walk now. The fresh air will do me good.

      1. Sleepy*

        Thank you for being so conscientous! For walking, I think it depends on where you live. If it’s a super dense neighborhood or a crowded apartment building, you may need someone else to walk your dog. Otherwise, I agree with everyone else that walking is totally fine. I’ve had some scares and I always kept walking bc where I live it’s easy to stay 20+ feet from people while walking

    7. anon24*

      You can walk your dog. I’m in healthcare and constantly around people with Covid, albeit with proper PPE. We don’t need to quarantine, I’ve just been socially distancing and mask wearing throughout the pandemic. I had a Covid scare in October (and ended up getting it and quarantining a few weeks ago, but got vaccinated this week, woohoo!) and when I was getting tested for it the first time the nurse told me that I could still go out and take walks as long as I was diligent about avoiding other people. Fresh air is one of our best tools in stopping the spread! The chance of spreading it to someone while passing them outside is almost none – you need to be in close quarters for over 10 minutes.

    8. allathian*

      In my area, walking the dog is specifically mentioned as being allowed even when you’re in quarantine.

  17. I edit everything*

    I have two questions:

    1. We need to replace our kitchen stove/range. We’d much rather support a local store than a big box store, but they have many fewer options, particularly available now, and they’re all lower-rated. Do we go big box and get a better appliance? Or go local and get an adequate-ish one? There’s also a company that does free delivery anywhere in the US. I forget the name. Has anyone done that, and what was your experience?

    2. I have a couple pieces of antique furniture to sell. What online marketplaces have you used with success?


    1. Elf*

      Much as I also prefer to support local businesses, this is a major appliance, which means it is a major expendiature that you will have to live with for 10+ years and which will have significant impact on your quality of life. Get what you actually want.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes, I agree with this. A stove is something that will be used everyday (usually), maybe more. Although I went with a big box store, I really wish I’d shopped around much more, as two of the features of my stove drive me nuts: the grates are rough, not smooth, which makes cleaning them really annoying; and it’s black, which shows EVERYTHING. I’ve never had a black stove and rough grates before, and hopefully never will again. I kind of want to sell it and get a different one.

    2. WellRed*

      Did you ask the local store if they can order something for you? With a local store, you’ll get better service down the road should you need something fixed. But it’s a big purchase so get what you want, even if it’s big box.
      As to selling, I’ve had great luck with FB marketplace, but haven’t sold anything high end.

      1. Sam I Am*

        I agree, ordering through the local shop is a great option. If there’s a price difference you can ask about them meeting the big box number.

    3. lapgiraffe*

      I am so anti big box on major appliances due to my old landlord always using them but then I’d be the one having to actually deal with delivery, removal, and service, all of which are outsourced. When I bought my place I went with a higher end local option that is known for its service department as much as it is their sales and selection. I do live in a major city, though, so it could be that maybe extending your search to “independent retailer” rather than just strictly local in case your town doesn’t have a robust offering.

      While there were only a handful of options compared to a big box I was still able to find great options I was happy with. I also did pay more, and they offer an extended warranty I swear by, and with any issue they have jumped to make things better. If I had bought these at a big box store I would have been 1) waiting on an appliance guy to call me back and then waiting to get him here 2) paying him $125 just to show up and tell me what’s wrong 3) paying more hundreds to fix or even more hundreds to replace. 4) rinse and repeat on the appointment .

      With local place I 1) got an answer to my phone call immediately 2) had someone at my house within a week (it was not an emergency) 3) paid nothing to have it fixed. I consider paying more up front as a way to buy me convenience and time down the road and confidence that if anything goes wrong I can call a local human immediately who will work to fix this with me AND the peace of mind that doing so isn’t money flying out of my pocket that like beautiful emoji.

    4. MCL*

      We use a local appliance store for our purchases, and they’ve been great. They are often able to help you get something that needs to be ordered. Call them and ask if they can help.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Second this. I have been working with a local appliance dealer every since I purchased a dishwasher from big box and they refused to perform the purchased installation because the building was old and it was going to be harder.

        A quality appliance dealer can order you anything you see at big box. I ended up with very similar prices plus advice.

    5. Sparkles McFadden*

      A good local store should order what you need. In my experience, they’ll work with you to be sure you’re getting what you want, and handle delivery and installation in a more personal way. It may take a little longer…or maybe not. With a big box store, things may seem better up front but then there will be out-of-stock problems or other delays.

    6. Jay*

      It took us years but we finally found a local appliance shop with excellent customer service and a decent selection. We found the options at the big box store more limited because they’re tied into specific brands. The local place was willing to order something for us if they didn’t usually stock it. We found them through a contractor, so if you know anyone who does kitchen remodeling, it’s worth asking where they refer their clients.

      1. creapy arms*

        Do Not get a Samsung stove. I had one delivered in Sept. the oven was 50 degrees off. The second delivered in Nov. was the same. They have NO repairmen to service the appliances. Go with GE.

        1. Three Pines Visitor*

          We are having to replace a malfunctioning, can’t-be-repaired 23-year-old GE wall oven, so slightly different situation but FWIW:
          Our repair tech advised not to pay for a premium model of anything “because none of them will last more than 10 years, but GE is the worst” since they sold their appliance division to Haier a few years ago. YMMV, of course. Based on that, and good experiences with a local appliance chain, we’re replacing the old GE with a Whirlpool

    7. Anonymous Hippo*

      You local store can probably order whatever you want, even if they don’t have it in stock.

  18. Rev That Engine*

    Does anyone have experience, or has heard tales of someone with experience, with driving for food delivery apps like Uber Eats or DoorDash? To get some space from my roommates during quarantine, I’ve been going for long drives in circles around my county. It occurred to me that I could sign up to drive for one of those apps so getting some breathing room from my roommates would at least have purpose, and maybe get back some gas money. My parents never wanted me to have a food delivery job as a teen with a car, I think because they were worried about young, blonde, female me getting grabbed by a creepy person during a drop off. But most of the apps have switched over to contactless delivery so I’m thinking of doing it. Anyone have experience on the delivery side of things, rather than just receiving?

    1. nep*

      I don’t have experience with those, but I did Shipt for a while pre-COVID and for the most part really liked it. Independence, grab a job when you want, occasionally decent tips, and I’m moving a lot (unlike other side gigs like transcribing).

    2. Chaordic One*

      I have a co-worker who used to supplement his income by being an Uber driver on weekends before COVID hit. He really enjoyed it and did a good business driving slightly tipsy people home from bars and night clubs on weekend nights. Luckily, he never had anyone throw up in his car.

      After COVID hit he started working for “Uber Eats,” but he quit because he had so many problems with customers who were upset about missing items and incomplete orders that he was getting from the restaurants he going to to get their food orders. He said that he always asked the restaurant if the order was complete and they always assured him that it was, but that there were an awful lot of the orders that were not and the customer would be disappointed and angry and want him to go back and get the missing items. My friend refused to do so and so made the already unhappy person even more upset, but it wasn’t his fault that the order was incomplete and going back and making a second trip cut into the time he would have to be available for other delivery orders and he would have to pay for the extra gas and wear and tear on his car. My friend couldn’t take it anymore and quit.

      I guess my advice is, “Beware.”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For what it’s worth – as a customer, when I’ve complained to restaurants about incomplete orders they tell me that it’s the delivery driver’s responsibility to make sure the order is correct when they pick it up.

        1. WellRed*

          Passing the buck. But yeah, when I could eat at my local, the drivers checked the orders, they didn’t ask if they were complete. Is the restaurant gonna say “no?”

    3. Come On Eileen*

      There are several sub-reddits (Grubhub, Doordash, etc) for people who work for these services. I follow them because it’s an interesting glimpse into this kind of work. I’m sure those folks would have thoughts and advice for you!

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I like reading those too, and it gives me more understanding as a customer. One thing that seems clear is that the experience is very locale-dependent, so I’d encourage Rev to focus especially on reports in the area they’d be working.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I also (pre-pandemic) found videos on YT that do ride-alongs & take you through a shift for delivery services. I found those when I wanted to learn how it worked from a customer perspective. There are probably more recent ones that would show the new reality.

    4. lapgiraffe*

      I have a friend who is “dashing” (doordash) for that exact reason, to get out of his apartment and get some space from roommates. So far he seems to like it but it’s not without stress, jury is still out on whether it’s “worth it” financially. I think it’s 1099 work, I don’t know if it’s going to be so much money it will be a huge tax issue but something to consider.

      To me another concern is how much time he has to spend in and out of these joints, it’s one thing to work for a restaurant that you know takes public health seriously, it’s another to bounce around to a couple dozen different places with all sorts of different approaches to covid. I know, for instance, that he’s had to wait not insignificant amounts of time in a restaurant for an order to be ready and it not be a comfortable situation. The trade off for being able to pop on and off of the app as you feel like working is loss of control over who you get to work with.

    5. MCL*

      I deliver meals on wheels to seniors every weekday and it’s great. I can get some mileage reimbursement but I don’t.

    6. Javaguy*

      My daughter has done very well with insta-cart delivering groceries. There’s no getting the order “wrong”, or being late, etc. Customers specify the items, and the store. If an item is not available, she just enters that in the order. She’s been doing it since March and has had no issues at all. Seems to pay pretty well. I think there are a couple of other grocery delivery apps as well.

      1. WellRed*

        Ha! I’m happy with IC but orders can be wrong. This week I got grapes I didn’t ask for and I’m guessing the person who ordered grapes got my salsa.

      2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        There is getting the order wrong–I specify the store and the items, but don’t always get what I specified. The most annoying mismatch was ordering cucumbers and getting zucchini.

        That said, given how this works, being careful will mean that your daughter, or Rev that Engine if they start shopping through Instacart, will do better, since most customers tip, and will tend to tip more for good service, or less for bad. (That’s not guaranteed, of course–as with any job that pays partly in tips, some customers are more generous than others, and some are pickier.)

    7. ronda*

      I am volunteering this year to help with tax aide. uber drivers are some of the clients they expect us to help.

      So from a tax perspective…. this will make you need to file a schedule for self employment income with your income taxes and you can have expense offset the income (mostly milage, but only from work to work location, not from your home, so 1st and last trip not included, you must keep records in case you are audited)

      So if you decide to do it…. take the time to document your expense to help you out on your tax bill.

    8. *Marie**

      A friend of mine and her husband do this full time and pay almost all their bills with the income. They love it.

      As someone who frequently (about every other day) uses some sort of delivery service (food, grocery, delivery, etc), I am super grateful to anyone who drives for any of these services. We’ve had our fair share of unfulfilled orders missing an item or more, but only once was it the drivers fault (they didn’t get all the bags for the order). Anytime an order is incorrect, I know to call the company, and that the driver can do nothing about it. Any and every delivery is dropped off on our doorstep, so we have very little contact with any drivers.

      With all that being said, I say Go For It. You’re already driving, and this would be for fun in your spare time. Worst case is if you don’t like it, quit doing it, and you’re back to enjoying a long drive on your own. (Try a podcast or audio book, at that point lol)

      Good luck to you!

      1. Kate, short for Bob*

        2 people are doing this full time and can’t cover all their bills? I’m not sure what’s to love about that?

    9. Blomma*

      Before signing up to do this, check in with your auto insurance company/agent to make sure your policy allows you to use your car for making deliveries (or ride sharing). Some don’t allow it at all, some will let you purchase additional coverage that complements whatever coverage is provided by the company (Uber, etc.).

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Second this comment. My husband delivered pizza as a side job through college and somehow his insurance company found out and told us our plan would increase by $1100 or they would drop us!

  19. OperaArt*

    I had my first lucid dream last night. It was fairly mundane as dreams go, but still fun. Do any of you have lucid dreams? Do you do anything to help them happen?

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I used to be REALLY into lucid dreaming; I got a kick out of it, and it was a rare source of recreation/entertainment during the days when my job usually had me working 14-to-16-hour days. (I was decently paid and liked the work, but this meant most weeks were just sleep and work and a quick grocery run.)

      I’ve fallen out of the habit as I have developed a real work/life balance, but as I remember, there are a whole bunch of techniques of inducing lucid dreams. Some people can go from falling asleep directly into lucid dreams with practice (I never quite got the hang of it), and other people use repetition before bed to prompt their brain to notice they’re dreaming (this worked well for me). Writing them down in detail seems to improve recall and awareness. A few hardcore devotees develop constant “reality checks” that they perform multiple times every day and are meant to tell them whether they’re looking at reality or not, such as trying out lightswitches constantly or trying to float a few feet off the ground. I never experimented with that – I didn’t find a signal that mapped one-to-one onto “clearly a dream” versus “clearly not” for me, plus it demands a lot of time and attention, and I’m already susceptible to developing unhealthy obsessive compulsive routines.

      People have various stories about help from substances, too, but YMMV depending on which substances and what’s legal and safe where you are, etc.

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      I have had lucid dreams all my life, but no idea how- it just happens! I did notice, years ago when I used nicotine patches to quit smoking, that the dreams got even more lucid. I could see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. Odd but usually fun experience. Sometimes frightening, depending on the dream subject. Nowadays my dreams are “dreamy” enough to easily recognize them as dreams as they are happening. If I focus my thoughts as I’m falling asleep, sometimes I can steer myself into a specific kind of dream. So, for example, if I concentrate on something that happened in real life when I was a child, I end up being a child in my dream. If I think about a specific person, they often show up.

    3. Beancat*

      I tried to teach myself to lucid dream because I have moments of lucidity within dreams before they snap back to being regular dreams. The single time I was ever able to lucid dream, I was so excited. “I can do whatever I want!” I realized. “I’ll make myself a pickle.” A large claussen pickle appeared in my hand, and I was so disappointed with how small I was thinking that I woke up.

      I’ve been trying since then!

    4. Sparkles McFadden*

      I will often manage to take over a dream by making myself float or fly in the dream. So, while falling asleep, I will methodically relax muscle groups and think about “making myself lighter.” I don’t even know if that really works or not. My lucid dreams often happen when I don’t like a particular dream and, rather than wake myself up, I change the dream.

      1. TechWorker*

        I have done this precisely once and it was super weird! Interesting to know others do it regularly.

    5. Nela*

      I have them occasionally, and there was a phase in my life when I was interested in inducing them and ended up having them regularly a couple times a month. There are many techniques, you can look up the Castaneda technique of examining your hands every night before sleep (that one didn’t work for me), reminding yourself as you’re falling asleep to look for a digital clock in your dream (usually the numbers are messy and that can trigger lucidity) etc. My trigger is light switches. They never seem to work in my dreams, and whenever it happens I become lucid. For others it may be something else.

      1. Nela*

        The book “Lucid Dreaming: Gateway to the Inner Self” by Robert Waggoner is really good if you’re into Jungian psychology. It explains various techniques for inducing lucid dreams, but also suggestions of what you can do to get more insight into your psyche and work on some issues.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I induced them for a while when I was younger. I don’t recall using any specific technique other than keeping a dream journal consistently on waking.

    7. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve had lucid dreams all night every night for as long as I can remember, so I can’t really help you here.

    8. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      As a young adult I could do it somewhat intentionally by laying on my back to fall asleep and imagine myself as floating. I got really good at it. I’m only able to have lucid dreams while laying on my back but I’ve also had sleep paralysis (no hallucinations thankfully) while on my back and that’s been terrifying so I’ve avoided trying for decades now.

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, yeah, that’s a good point- I have lucid dreams every night, but sleep paralysis is also so normal for me that I don’t even get scared by it. I just have to make sure not to open my eyes until everything else works.

        1. allathian*

          That’s really interesting. The only time I’ve had a lucid dream, I also experienced sleep paralysis later that same night.

          1. KoiFeeder*

            Honestly, I’ve experienced sleep paralysis even before my brain’s finished falling asleep. I’m awake, but my body isn’t.

            It took me a truly embarrassing amount of time to realize that this wasn’t normal.

  20. ThatGirl*

    Can we talk about skincare? Any general recommendations/discussion as well as my question below…

    I am going to be 40 in March. I am very light-skinned and use a daily SPF moisturizer in the morning and an eye serum, vitamin C and Olay Regenerist at night. So far I still look pretty good but I’m wondering if I should add/swap one out for a retinol now? I keep seeing that as a must-do, but I’m not sure. Also, any good eye cream recs?

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      My mom and I were big believers in all the fancy ($$$) creams and soaps, but kept getting drier and more clogged skin, particularly for my mom as she aged.

      Then, I read a thing about using tallow (yes, rendered grass fed beef fat) for your skin. And now my face is flawless and so moist. Tallow is supposedly more biologically similar to your own skin so it’s absorbed faster. It’s also micronutrient rich and antibacterial. I know I sound like a crazy person. But I finally convinced my mom to try it too and she is also obsessed. She said her skin is much “plumper” these days.
      I usually get it on Etsy.

        1. Not A Girl Boss*

          No real smell. Tallow is very pure. You can get some scented with essential oils, I do that for body lotion, but for my face I get unscented.

    2. Msnotmrs*

      IMO a moisturizer with sunscreen in it isn’t enough. You need a dedicated, standalone sunscreen. This doesn’t exactly answer your question, but it sounds like you’re interested in preventing future damage, so that’s my personal advice.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I appreciate the thought, I do put extra/dedicated sunscreen on when I’m spending significant time outside (not just walking to the car). I also use mineral makeup that provides some sun protection- but I’m open to a sunscreen that’s good for combination sensitive skin that doesn’t feel heavy or greasy.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          Ive been using zinc-it-over suncreen and its awesome if you want something with a more matte finish. It is also designed to be able to use over makeup so you can refresh throughout the day since you are supposed to reapply any sunscreen after 2-3 hours. If you are happy with your spf/moisturizer you can use the spray as a booster.

        2. Zooey*

          La Roche Posay do brilliant facial sunscreen that’s very light and non greasy. I forget the name but it comes in a little square bottle and is very liquid. Even using generously one bottle lasts ages so although it’s a little pricey it’s worth it.

    3. A313*

      I wish I had started a retinol earlier (I’m older than you). One I like is LaRoche Posay Pure Retinol Face Serum with Vitamin B3. It’s formulated to not cause irritation. It may seem a little pricey, but the bottle lasts a long time, since you only use a little at a time.

    4. Chaordic One*

      It certainly wouldn’t hurt to start using a retinol now. Be sure that it isn’t too strong for you. If it leaves your skin slightly red, then it is. I’ve had good luck with Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair products with retinol and also ROC Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer and Night Cream. I agree with Msnotmrs about sunscreens. That said, I’m still looking for good ones. None of them really absorb very well and you have to be careful when applying them because so many of them will stain clothing or rub off on furniture (or on the driver’s side door armrest of your car). I’m starting think that solution is may be hats, long sleeves and gloves.

      1. Holly the spa pro*

        Check out my comment about the sprayable sunscreen above!

        Usually its the zinc in sunscreen that makes it hard to rub in or rub off on stuff which makes sense as its meant to be a physical barrier. Most face spfs are broad spectrum, a physical component like zinc abd a chemical one like oxybenzone. You might be happy with a spf that has a higher chemical component and less physical.

        If you are really sensitive or prone to redness then chemical spfs can make you more red because the chemical reactions turn the uv rays to heat.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Thanks for the info about sunscreens in general and the recommendation about Zinc It Over sprayable sunscreen. It seems a bit spendy, but might well be worth it and I see it carried in local stores such as Walgreens, Ulta and Sephora.

          1. Holly the spa pro*

            It is a little expensive but i have used it for about a month and it still feels totally full. If you decide to go for it make sure you shake it really well and dont over spray or it will feel tacky. I use three sprays over my face and neck.

    5. More Coffee Please*

      From what I’ve read recently, the key things seem to be: vitamin C and a dedicated SPF (not SPF/moisturizer combo) in the morning. Vitamin C enhances the protection of SPF. Then, in the evening, retinol. Exfoliation is also recommended for older skin I believe, but I’m not there myself yet. Other than these ingredients, I don’t think there’s much tangible anti-aging benefit to other ingredients or products (including eye creams).

      1. ThatGirl*

        Hmm I could switch the C to the morning, interesting. I do use a washcloth for gentle exfoliation and an AHA scrub a couple times a week.

      2. Olive Hornby*

        Seconding all of this, especially Vitamin C in the morning and a separate sunscreen to go with. You don’t want to use retinol and Vitamin C at the same time. I’d also cut down on the exfoliating for at least a couple of months after starting the retinol–an AHA scrub (which sounds like it also includes some physical exfoliants?) plus washcloth plus retinol can easily lead to irritation and overexfoliation.

        1. ThatGirl*

          Yeah, it’s a blueberry scrub from Trader Joe’s, I can certainly stop using it while I adjust to a retinol, thanks :)

    6. mreasy*

      Huge retinoid fan here! I’m your age. I use Curology at night, since it’s harder to get a clear answer on the strength of OTC (but I did use ROC night serum for some time and that was a good introduction for my skin) – it’s actually pretty reasonably priced vs “fancy” skincare brands. Vitamin C is great for daytime brightening. I also use oils, but my skin tends toward the dry. Most of my products are Kiehls which are on the pricey side but nowhere near the Drunk Elephant/etc lines. I also like Kiehls because instore and online they offer samples, and have small sizes, which enables you to try things for a meaningful amount of time before investing in a larger product. I do a toner, day/night eye creams, serums (retinoid for night, lighter for day, then moisturizer (light with SPF for day, creamier for night) and an oil. That’s a lot more than you’re currently doing – but I think the serum addition could be the most meaningful in terms of skin texture and fine lines, per my experience.

    7. Batgirl*

      I’m obsessed with my skin as I have psoriasis and can’t wear makeup. Everything has to be super gentle. I personally love retinol (a few years older than you). I would say start slow. Pixi’s retinol tonic is a nice beginner. Caroline Hirons has a good cheat sheet explaining retinol types on her page. The hands down best advice I got from her though is to use a non foaming cleanser plus hot flannel (washcloth) before putting anything on your face. Game changer. She compares wipes/muslin clothes/splash off products as being too flimsy to prepare the skin properly, too “suitable for a camping festival” and any products put on an unprepared face will “sit on the top unabsorbed like butter on cold toast”

      1. ThatGirl*

        I cleanse morning and night with CeraVe (at night with the washcloth). My skin looks pretty good right now (occasional breakout aside), but as I approach 40 I’d like to keep it as healthy, undamaged and wrinkle free as possible!

    8. Coco*

      If you have access, seeing a dermatologist may be helpful. I see mine for eczema but my doctor also has given me product recommendations at all price points (drug store, luxury) and a prescription for retin a. It has been worth it for me.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I do see a dermatologist, mostly for mole checks, but she seems to like to prescribe things to me when OTC would do.

    9. anonforthis*

      I recommend retinol or Retin A. It’s one of the few proven anti-aging ingredients to work. Continue with sunscreen and sun protection in general (hats, sunglasses etc). I also recommend adding Vitamin B3 to the mix in the form of a moisturizer or something. I’ve heard vitamin C serums are finicky and don’t always work.

      My skincare routine looks like this:

      Oil cleanser, acne treatment (which also happens to be retin A) at night, and CeraVe moisturizer at night and sunscreen during the day.

    10. Holly the spa pro*

      Retinol: yes! Do it, its great. Depending on the strength you might start it every other night and increase to nightly once you see how your skin does. If you are worried about over exfoliating use an enzyme since enzymes can only ingest dead skin cells, its not as easy to over do it.

      Eye cream: what is your eye skin like or what appearance are you wanting? Dark circles, puffiness, fine lines, hydration?

      1. ThatGirl*

        Dark circles mostly, and I want to fight off fine lines and saggy skin as much as possible.

        1. Holly the spa pro*

          For dark circles, you want to look for something that is plumping or vasoconstricting since the darkness is just blood that becomes more visible as the eye skin thins. Look for collagen or peptides as ingredients. Also doing gentle massage circles from the inner to outter eye will help to stimulate the circulation in that area.

          For fine lines and sagging specifically, i love the neroli eye serum from Eminence. It has flash tightening and doesnt feel/look heavy under makeup so i use that during the day and a heavier eye cream at night (im trying the Eminence snow mushroom eye cream now and i love it but she is heavy so i use at night).

          Also with the neroli the amount you get in the bottle is insane so i massage it into my other fine lines as well or id never use it all before it expires.

          Eminence actually has a lot of awesome, versatile products. A little pricey but the amount you use is tiny because there is no water in it and you can thin it out with water to make it the consistency you want.

          CAVEAT: be careful where you buy Eminence products. It is one of the most bootlegged brands. They dont sell through amazon. Personally, i wouldnt purchase any skin care online if you can help it unless it is direct from the manufacturer. You dont want stuff sitting in a hot truck/mailbox and you wouldnt believe some of the crazy stories ive heard about counterfeit skin care products. Even some big retailers will buy up expired or nearly expired product or lord know what else. Most brands have store locators on their sites. Sorry for the mini rant, ive just seen many people get burned trying to look for better prices online.

          Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

  21. Lifelong student*

    Yarn craft thread- what’s on your hook, needles, or loom this week?

    I finished a super easy- but kind of boring short sleeved cardigan. I wasn’t really liking it but was surprised by how nice it was when it was done! Now doing a bavarian stitch rectangular lapghan/baby blanket.

    I often make things that I have no current goal for- but found a good home for two large afghans last evening. My neighbor shovels my walks and often mows my grass just to be nice- so I gave him two largish afghans that I made for no real reason.

    1. Belle*

      I’m working through the Marly Bird- My First Sock Youtube video knit along. As these are my actual first socks to make, I’ve been really glad to have a very thorough step by step process to follow. My great commitment of 2021 is to not buy any sewing/knitting supplies until my stash can be contained by my stash boxes.

    2. AGD*

      I finally sat down and redid the absolute mess I made of a hem on an improvised knitted skirt. Originally, I’d experimented with making it lacy and giving it a stretchy bind-off. Neither of these things satisfied me. The lace was a huge visual distraction that didn’t match the rest; the stretchy bind-off served as an accidental purl ridge that very stubbornly folded about half an inch of the bottom up, outwards, and that looked terrible. Anyway, I finally undid it all and replaced it with a basic bind-off on larger needles. Not very stretchy, but on a pencil skirt it doesn’t matter much, plus this looks a whole lot more elegant.

      Next up is a general session for finding my tapestry needles and dealing with the yarn ends on three separate projects that are otherwise done. It’s rare for me to have any backlog in terms of the finishing steps, but let’s just say that someone has been knitting a lot during Zoom meetings.

    3. Wishing You Well*

      I started a knitting project a couple of days ago. The published pattern made no sense. Starting with 20 stitches, the next row had either 16 or 22 stitches in it with no explanation as to why. Sheesh. How can a published pattern be so wonky? I ditched the pattern and made up my own. It’s going great now.
      Happy Needlework, y’all!

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m just working on a pair of socks for my mom. -Or a couple of pairs, actually. She sent me a photo of sleep socks she’s had forever and asked if I could make something similar. I found two patterns that might work, and I’m just going to make one pair in each pattern.

      I was watching a YouTube and a video of the Tunisian crochet knit stitch came up. I will probably try that, but I will need to get a new hook with a cable since I want to make a striped blanket. KnitPicks has the interchangeable crochet hooks that will work with the cables I already have. That project might take a while to start because I just placed a KnitPicks order, and I can’t justify another one right now (I will only order from them if I can justify spending enough to get free shipping). If only I had seen the video one day sooner.

    5. No Name Yet*

      I’m working on finishing up a good-sized-for me project, a penguin pillow cover, and trying to decide what to make next. I think I want it to be a semi-fancy project for me, but not sure what…

    6. New Bee*

      I’m knitting a tree skirt. I started it on Christmas to give me 365 days to work on it, lol. I’m worried the radius isn’t long enough, but I like the pattern and am 100+ rows in, so hopefully the final product turns out.

    7. Drtheliz*

      I’ve just found out I’m pregnant (planned but still quite “!!!”) so I’m looking at making a handkerchief-sized prototype quilt for a baby blanket.

    8. Not Your Sweetheart*

      I’m about to start crocheting a vine. I decided I needed some kind of garland for over my closet door, but store-bought ones are really cheap looking and/or expensive in cost. So, I’m going to make one. I asked my friends via Facebook and emails to make me flowers (their choice of style, colors, fabric) that I can stitch onto the vine. I just asked 2 days ago, so haven’t received any yet, but there were a lot of positive responses to my request.

  22. Insurance Nerd*

    My question is actually for Allison or those who know her well. Are all of these weekend thread posts your cats? Because if so, that is a lot of cats. No judgement, just an observation :P.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      They’re all Alison’s. I think there are five although I don’t think I’ll get the names all right. Olive, Sophie, Wallace (S&W are mother and son, a rescue pair), Hank, and Shadow (or is it Laurie?) (H&S are brothers I believe, a “failed” foster). Alison’s husband takes the nice pictures.

      1. tangerineRose*

        She has 6 cats, and they are adorable! I always look forward to seeing the kitty picture on Saturday.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Six! Four are foster fails.

        The only one you missed is Eve. Laurie came to us as Shadow, but since he didn’t seem to respond to his name, we changed it to Laurie, after the boy in Little Women. (And he does respond to his name now.)

        1. Crowley*

          I mean, you call them foster fails, but if the point of fostering kittens is to get them into homes where they’re happy and loved, I personally call them foster successes :)

          …. having said that, you probably shouldn’t foster any more ;)

  23. Goose*

    Woof, whirlwind few minutes! I was talking with UPack and they managed to get my quote down to where it might make sense for me to use them, but then we realized they don’t service my zip code :(. Back to selling all my belongings and sticking the rest in the mail!

  24. Partial Luddite*

    How can a photo be included in a post or comment? I set up a flickr account but can’t figure out how to get the link to post.

      1. Partial Luddite*

        Ok- did that- but when I pasted it just comes across as text- there is no html option like when I paste things into word? The comment does not show so I assume it is in moderation- but if it is approved will it come out as a picture or at least as html?

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          That’s normal. When I add links to the comment box here, it just appears as text rather than a link you can click. That’ll change when/if Alison lets it out of moderation. It won’t come out as a picture but it will come out as a link.

        2. HBJ*

          You’re asking if you can post an actual picture so the image itself will show up in the comments? No, you can’t do that.

        3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Commenters cannot post visual images in comments, only links to images hosted elsewhere.

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If you’re asking about the little user ID pictures, those are Gravatars – the pictures are set up through a third party, and accessed when you enter your email account in the posting box.

      You can’t post gifs, etc, in the comments. All links to other sites go into moderation to prevent spam – if you’re including a link to something people often add it as separate post in reply to their own post, so their first post shows up immediately. Alison may have turned off the link in user name part because people were abusing it to get around the moderation of links.

  25. Anna*

    People with long hair: what’s your care routine?

    I usually keep my hair cropped short (just below the ears) and have done for many years, but I haven’t been able to get a hair cut for over a year so now it’s down past my shoulders and I’m so not used to it.

    1. Me*

      I wash it every other day right now since I’m wfh. I use a cream product that helps hold some wave along with a moisturizer to keep it from being too frizzy. I comb it after putting that in while my hair is wet and then let it air dry.

      And.. that’s it. Super simple. Don’t go to heavy on the conditioner in the shower.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      This may depend on the type of hair you have but I shampoo, and condition every few days and always apply a leave in conditioner at minimum since I have fairly curly hair. I air dry and shower in the evening because I despise morning showers.

    3. Reba*

      The specifics of products and techniques depend a lot on your particular hair type (coarse or fine, wavy, curly, etc).

      I have very long hair, and I think that once it’s to the shoulders the conditioner becomes really important! I wash (mostly just the scalp) + condition (mostly just the length and ends) every other day. I like to use a deep conditioner once in a while (or use the regular one and just leave it in for several minutes) and I also use a keratin “repair” product regularly. By the time the hair reaches the mid-back, those ends are old and probably showing some wear, so these kinds of products help keep them smooth-looking and to break less.

      I also got my spouse to give me a basic trim recently, which helped.

    4. sswj*

      My hair is long enough to almost sit on when not braided (which it mostly is), and is pretty thick as well. I wash it 2-3 times a week, depending on time of year and my activity level. I also have bangs and those I rinse almost daily or they start to look funny.

      I mostly shower in the evenings, so I wash and condition (currently using Dove cucumber, I think), then roll it in a towel draped over my shoulder for and hour or so to absorb as much moisture as possible. Then I braid it again, sleep on it, and comb out in the morning. It gets re-braided for work because it gets in the way – I work retail with lots of bending, stooping over, lifting, etc.

      FWIW, I’ve never colored or treated it in any way (and I’m almost 60) so other than split ends from brush-abuse when I’m in a hurry it’s pretty healthy. And now getting some natural … ahem … highlights too :p


    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I wash once a week (or even ten days sometimes, depending on the weather and my activity level) – my hair gets angry if I wash it more than that, and in between washes it’s up in a bun 24/7, so it’s not getting into anything. During the summer if I’m being active, I rinse it with just water more often, and occasionally shampoo just my scalp in between normal washes, but my hair does not like the extra washing. I wash in the morning, then let it air dry in a braid, which takes most of the day. And … that’s it. Heh. I trim the ends myself every couple of months.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is what I did when I had lower-back length hair. I only used conditioner if I went swimming.
        If your hair is straight like mine & you decide on a trim, look for one that curves at the bottom. That follows your natural hair growth and will require fewer trims.
        Also, be careful with metal barettes–some can damage hair especially when worn in the same place frequently.

    6. Batgirl*

      I would try braiding it damp with a leave in conditioner or moisture spritz on any dry ends. Keeping the ends moist is half the battle when haircuts are verboten. If you do two braids (assuming your hair takes a curl) the wavyness when you unbraid can pick up the length and shape quite a lot (as well as using curlers and pin curls) Even if not, keep it braided and you can tuck the bottom of the braid under and pin it, or pin two braid tales together around the back of your head and you have a nice updo.

    7. Yellow Warbler*

      I have a V-cut with wavy hair, so the longest layer is at the center of my back. If I pull the waves straight, that hair hits my waistband. I cannot WAIT to get a haircut. Even with fine/thin hair, it’s so heavy. When it’s fully wet in the shower, it takes noticeable effort to hold my head up.

      I cut down on washing per the advice of basically everyone, them ramped it back up. Turns out that some people (it’s me!) do better with more frequent washing, because scalp build-up clogs the follicle and causes hair loss. I’m still growing back my thin temples and crown.

      Quitting heat, though, was my absolute best move by far. I haven’t used a dryer or a styling tool in over a year. I thought I was too old for long hair (feasibility-wise, not fashion-wise) but it turns out that it was just damaged and breaking.

      IMO one of the most important factors for caring for long hair is balancing protein with moisture. Hair needs both, though your texture and porosity will determine the proper ratio. You can look things up like “hair float test” to start learning the best mixture to keep your hair strong.

    8. Redhairedrunner*

      Don’t sleep with it tied back in a ponytail or similar, it will cause your hair to break off. A lightweight leave in condor hair oil definitely helps keep my ends moisturized.

      1. TechWorker*

        I mean… maybe this is true for some people but I’ve slept with my hair in a ponytail for about 80% of the time, my entire life, and never and this problem :p

    9. anonforthis*

      I mean, it depends on what type of hair you have. I have thick, coarse, wavy hair with a tendency to frizz. I shampoo and condition once or twice a week. Before washing my hair, I put coconut oil on my hair for an hour. I only use sulfate free and fragrance free shampoos because I have dandruff. I let my hair air dry.

    10. tangerineRose*

      I’ve got long, curly hair. What I should do is condition it every day, wring the hair dry, then comb it (with a hair pick) and let it air dry. In reality, I skip the conditioner many times, because no one sees me most of the time and who cares right now, but when I do condition it, it tends to look good.

    11. ....*

      Wash every other day, conditioner, detangler, air dry 90% of the time otherwise blow dry with no additional product. Olaplex and Oaui are brands I like for shampoo and detangler. From the drugstore L’Oréal and OGX are good affordable options

    12. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I’ve had long hair for a long time now (last got a hair cut in the 1990s). Leaving it braided most of the time, particularly when sleeping (if you sleep on your back do a braid on each side, if you sleep on your side do one braid in the back), is really helpful since it keeps it from tangling. When I was leaving the house regularly I’d wash it twice a week, but now that everything’s on Zoom I go for once a week. I don’t use any products except for shampoo and occasionally conditioner.

    13. KoiFeeder*

      Back when my hair was waist length, I just washed it daily, used shampoo/conditioner as needed, and it worked out fine. My hair is also apparently an obligate carnivore, because it would regularly eat small animals, which I do not recommend.

    14. Rebecca Stewart*

      My hair is to my ischium. (Aka sit bones) Very straight white girl hair with a few greys.
      I wash it once a week with shampoo only on the scalp area and let it air dry before brushing. I don’t find I need conditioner. I wear it up in a crown bun to sleep. During the day I usually put it in a chignon or braid or knotted bun low on the back of my head. This is easier on it than leaving it down.

      I honestly don’t think about it much; I put it up in the morning, and take it down in the evening and put it up again. I used to just braid it at night but now the braid keeps winding up under my body and ow, not sleeping on a lump.

    15. Workerbee*

      I have fine, mostly straight hair that reaches the middle of my back. I shampoo & condition every 2-3 days, use a wet/dry brush after, then let it air dry. Because it’s fine, it doesn’t take long.

      At most, I’ll apply an anti/frizz smoother where needed and perhaps a touch of hair spray. But in this age of work from home, I mostly don’t!

      If I want it to be wavy, after it gets mostly dry, I coil it up in two loopy pigtails low on my neck for the day and often overnight. In the morning, instant new style. ;)

      (I’ve never colored it, but did go through a torturous spiral perm phase in school as well as long layers. And bangs, oh, the unflattering, somehow-heavy bangs! By now it’s mostly all one length and I haven’t had bangs or a perm for decades.)

    16. lily*

      I shampoo and condition everyday, it feels weird if I don’t and it seems to work for my hair. I let it air dry, I never heat style. I think I’ve blown dry it once in my life and had it curled once. Brush it almost every time before I shower, sometimes after or the next morning. I used to sleep with it in a bun, now I try to sleep with it down most nights.

  26. Book Question*

    Probably a long-shot, but: can anyone recommend a general survey book on the history of Portugal? Like, Age of Exploration through 20th century, or something that covers a substantial swath of history. I had been planning on going to Spain and Portugal this year, but that’s not happening, and so I figured I might as well learn about it in lieu of going. I know a bunch about Spain (one of my favorite profs in college specialized in Spanish history) but Portugal is relatively unknown to me.

    1. Dr. Anonymous*

      I can’t, but this is a great question to call a library with. Reference librarians usually love a substantive question.

    2. Cats on a Bench*

      You might see if there’s anything on coursera.org. You can take many of their classes for free by auditing them and you can go at your own pace too.

  27. Dwight Schrute*

    Cat question! So my cat is about 4 years old, he is FELV positive, and has stomatitis. He had the surgery to remove his teeth about a year ago and ever since he has been pulling his hair out in clumps when he grooms himself. He has been medically cleared by two vets who seem to think it’s a stress reaction to the surgery. Any ideas on how to reduce his stress? He gets enrichment, attention, and brushed regularly. It also seems as though his stomatitis is making a return and the surgery to remove his teeth didn’t fix the problem long term. Has anyone else dealt with this before?

    1. A313*

      Regarding the stomatitis, I took my cat to veterinary dentist (yes, they exist!). She explained that she does X-rays before and after to ensure everything is removed; otherwise stomatitis can return. Also, she had me give him interferon for some period after his surgery. IIRC, it was a liquid and easy to administer. This was over a decade ago, so medical knowledge/advice could have changed some, but maybe a place to start.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Yes! He had x rays done and was also given meds post surgery, but I feel somewhat at a loss for what to do now that he seems to still be stressed a year after surgery and the condition is returning.

        1. A313*

          Would it be worth having X-rays done again, just to check that all of the roots were removed, and maybe through a veterinary dentist? The over-grooming could be a way your cat tries to make his mouth feel better, but I’m not a vet. And maybe ask about the interferon. I’m so sorry for your kitty — this can be such a painful disease for cats!

    2. Aurora Leigh*

      One of my cats was doing the making bald patches while grooming thing after she was spayed. My vet gave her a steroid shot to help with the itching/licking/balding loop she was stuck in and told me to get another cat — some cats just can’t handle being only cats. It worked!

      I’m sure you could work with a shelter to find another FELV+ cat if you think it would help.

    3. Yellow Warbler*

      My cat with hair-pulling turned out to have a grain allergy. Once we switched her food, her skin wasn’t so inflamed/itchy and she stopped yanking at herself. We were surprised to learn she was actually a long-haired cat, because it never had the chance to grow to its full length before.

      My other cat has stomatitis, and she has never pulled her fur out, but she obsessively grooms the carpet. She will eat anything she can find on the rug (hair, crumbs) and when I realized that and ramped up the vacuuming schedule, she resorted to eating the carpet fibers themselves.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        Thank you! I’ll see what we can do for him! The stomatitis just sounds so awful for them. I feel so bad

      2. violet04*

        Yes, check with your vet about food allergies. You can try a special diet for a few months to see if a change in diet helps. I had a cat with overgrooming issues and my vet recommended Royal Canin Hyrdrolized Protein HP dry food and a half tablet of Zyrtec once a day. I also tried Omega 3 fish oil. I got the Nordic Naturals brand from Chewy. He had a flare up last year when he started getting scabs from grooming too much and a course of steroids helped.

        If it’s not a food allergy, there are calming medications that could be used. One of my cats had some issues peeing outside the box due to stress, and he’s on a 1/4 tablet of Paroxetine.

        Good luck! Hope kitty feels better.

          1. violet04*

            Hm, I’m not sure. I’ve never had a cat with stomatitis so I don’t know what other types of issues that could cause.

            My kitty’s allergy started a few months after he joined the family. His only surgery was getting neutered. My vet did a process of elimination with trying the special food, allergy meds, etc.

            Someone upthread mentioned seeing a veterinary dentist, which might be a good idea in case he is still having dental issues. Another option would be a veterinary dermatologist.

            The vet who treated my cat had a foster who severely overgroomed and she started her on atopica (cyclosporine) and saw some good results since using steroids long term can have negative side effects.

            It’s so hard treating animals when they can’t tell us what’s wrong. My thought is to rule out as much as possible with the stomatitis and possible allergy. If those come back clear, then it may be a stress issue which could also be handled by medication. CDB oil is a possible option too to help calm him.

    4. Dino*

      I’ve had good luck with giving mine something else to groom. She loves licking feathers and real fur cat toys (she carries them around like kittens).

  28. Teapot Translator*

    Exercise thread!
    What did you accomplish? What do you want to accomplish this week?
    I’ll post about me in a reply.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      For various reasons, I haven’t really exercised since late August and then we hit the darkest months of the year (November and December); I was in a slump. I didn’t feel like exercising at all, and I’m someone who’s motivated by signing up for classes and going out (but pandemic!)
      But I finally signed up for a remote yoga class with a teacher I like before the holidays. And that led me to sign up for virtual classes with the YMCA this week and this morning I did a dance workout with no jumps (I used to have issues with my foot and I don’t want them to come back) on YouTube. \o/
      We’re starting a stricter lock-down where I am and I needed something to get me through this winter. I’m crossing my fingers that I can keep this up.

      1. WellRed*

        I accomplished nothing but did order a warmer parka and some lined hiking boots. I did well walking outside the first several pandemic months than dropped off when it became the hottest summer on record here. Also may look for a few online videos.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          I also want to take up walking again. Because of my foot issue, it hasn’t been a fun activity in a while, but I like it.
          It makes everything relative. “It’s 4 km away? Ah, I’ll walk, it’s not even an hour away!”

    2. lapgiraffe*

      I was super impressed by a friend who posted about hitting 10k hours on her peloton last year and thought I’d give myself the same goal but for general exercise activity. I got a rower in the fall and have been doing 15-30 minute programs on that, also got in a nice walk yesterday in the neighborhood which has a nice big steep hill on the final stretch.

      Next week I’m hoping to play tennis. Our club is closed down due to city regulations but suburban clubs are not and the league is still ongoing. I don’t love tennis in a mask but it’s better than no tennis.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          Hah, when I saw your comment, I said, “Really?” And I used the calculator on my phone. And I was like, “Huh, now I know there aren’t 10,000 hours in a year!”

            1. Potatoes gonna potate*

              10k sounds amazing. Unless my math is off I think it comes out to roughly 27 minutes a day? Keeping that consistency is amazing.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Hmm, I should try this time goal. Maybe set a goal for January, then more for February, etc. I’ll have to think about it.
        Is it tennis inside or are you somewhere where you can do that all year around outside?

        1. lapgiraffe*

          Tennis is inside, with limit of 4 people per court and also extra ventilation (garage size doors open with big industrial fans) when possible, so sometimes it still quite chilly despite being inside. The facility is in effect a huge warehouse so I’ve felt totally safe in the space along with knowing who I’m playing with and their own precautions. I drug my feet on joining an indoor club for so long because of the expense but now that I have I realize it’s actually cheaper than the gym, it’s just that most is required up front. (And in non covid times they do have a small gym area, nothing fancy but something)

    3. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I got out for a walk, and did some of my PT exercises, on January 1st, to start the year as I hope to go on.

      At this point my main goal is persistence/consistency: don’t go several days in a row without exercising, and make sure almost all of the exercises get done sometimes. I’m not doing as mcu as I’d like, the last few days, but I keep records on my computer to reduce the chance of accidentally omitting things: I can look at the file and see oh, right, I need to do shrugs, or it’s been a week since I walked a significant distance.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m going to try that, monitor how much I exercise on a file. What do you use? Something like Excel or something like Word?

        1. fposte*

          I’ve used Excel, but I’m influenced by just liking Excel—I can make it all pretty and set up colors for streaks, so it’s a reward in its own right.

          1. Workerbee*

            I am going to do this! I use MyFitnessPal but have been denying their subtle hypnosis to buy the premium version, which seems to include exporting your stats. No reason why I can’t do it myself. You have inspired me.

    4. fposte*

      I am two weeks in with a new physical therapist and wow, what a difference! I’ve been pretty mobility impaired for much of the year and got nothing from a steroid injection, so went for PT again with a new recommendation. Now I have permission to go back on my elliptical for five minutes, tops, so I try that today.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        A good physical therapist is hard to find. I have an issue with my shoulder (seriously, my body is not made for exercise) and I finally found a physical therapist who was able to pinpoint the problem and give me exercise for it. The issue is keeping up with them. :( I’m no good at that.
        I hope you keep getting better!

    5. Ali G*

      We started a 12-week long exercise/diet program back in Sept which ended right before our 2-week break. We did great and took 2-weeks off and just started back up on Monday. It was slow going, but I am proud of us for picking it back up on our own (we had a coach (virtual) and guided workouts).
      I only gained a pound over our break, but somehow hubs lost 3. MEN!

        1. Ali G*

          We have a similar meal plan, but different proportions, but very different workouts. His is more strength training and mine is more weight loss (esp. around my middle). But we take a morning walk together 5x a week which is the only time we work out together.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      For Christmas, I bought a rowing machine that came with a one year family membership to iFit. While running on the treadmill, I usually watch at 45 minute show on Hulu (Cutthroat Kitchen, usually), but the last couple of weeks I’ve been casting the iFit app to the TV. This week, I hiked up the Schwarzee Trail in Switzerland. I had to manually adjust speed and incline, but that wasn’t too bad.

      Last week, I got an email from a local club advertising adult beginner tennis lessons. Once a week for four weeks. I signed up, and the first lesson was last night. It was fun, but I felt like an uncoordinated fool. Hopefully it gets better over the next couple of weeks.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I liked rowing in the past (back when we could go to the gym and see people ;_;), but I have no space for machine.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a trial for Fitness+ going – so far, I’ve tried treadmill, cycling, and rowing workouts, enjoyed all of them, and I want to try HIIT or dance sometime this weekend too. We also bought Ring Fit Adventures yesterday and I’m enjoying that as well. Basically my goal is to get 20+ minutes of movement in every day.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        That sounds like a good goal. I (like a lot of people) don’t move enough and it’s gotten worse with the pandemic.

    8. Susie*

      I’m doing Yoga with Adrienne-she has schedule of daily practice for the month of January. Today I was finally able to get through the first one…pandemic life makes it much harder to get time to myself. The next ones are shorter so fingers crossed I can stick more closely to the calendar.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’ve been meaning to try Yoga with Adrienne for a long time! People on here like her. Maybe in February.

    9. Bethlam*

      I’ve been walking 2-4 miles every day (yay retirement!). This week, my goal is to have a perfect Fitbit week. I’ve had my Fitbit over a year and never had a perfect week. Work interfered and, though I retired in October, then it was cold and sometimes snowy or icy.

      But I made some NY’s resolutions and one is to have a perfect Fitbit week. I generally don’t have trouble meeting the total daily steps and mileage, but the calories burned goal requires extra effort, and you really have to pay attention in order to get all of the hourly steps.

      I’ve had a couple of weeks when I _almost_ made it, but I’m giving it a serious go this week.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ve been doing Nike Training Center workouts since November, focusing mostly on strength and mobility. I started a new job this week where no one really starts doing anything until 9am and I will eventually set my own hours (previous job wanted butt in seat at 8:30), so I decided to stick to the longer workouts whenever possible. I did a lower body burn workout that was HARD but satisfying. Looking forward to keeping that up.

      What stinks is that I have certainly gained weight but I do think certain things are looking better. My glutes in particular.

      This week I’m hoping to keep it up, but we move later in the week so it will be tough. At least I know that moving is a good way to get steps in!

    11. anonforthis*

      I can now hold a plank for a full minute without breaks! I’m not super fit so this is a near miracle.

      1. Bethlam*

        Wow, I’m impressed. I can do 3 for 20 seconds each with a rest in between and it’s hard! It will be awhile before I work up to a whole minute for 1.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      I live at the foot of a hilly neighborhood that has beautiful views, but until recently I always got in my car to go to places to hike. Despite living here for many years, it wasn’t until the pandemic and sheltering in place that I realized I could take aerobic walks from home and be able to have expansive views. There’s very little traffic, I enjoy looking at beautiful old houses there, and the other walkers I encounter along the way are nice people. With working from home, it’s been a nice break mid-day. On the days I’m feeling less energetic, I walk on the flat along the bay, and that’s lovely as well.

      I definitely feel better in stressful times when I’m getting exercise outdoors. There’s lots of research about the mental benefits of time outside.

    13. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I joined a gym on NYE and went yesterday. My plan was to start on 1/12 to avoid the New Years January rush (if it was going to happen) and just continue the routine I had in physical therapy.

      Well I ended up walking 12 minutes on the treadmill at a 2.0 pace without tiring out and getting back pain. It may be nothing to some and past-me warmed up at higher speeds for HIIT but this was a huge thing for me. It was Friday afternoon so not a lot of ppl and didn’t feel like I was being stared at. Although the worry is certainly always there (esp bc I was on my phone ordering Popeyes for my husband — the irony is not lost on me).

      My goal for this week is to continue with the treadmill. 20 minutes at a slow pace is still better than 0 minutes sedentary for me.

    14. Yellow Warbler*

      My parents are getting rid of their treadmill and replacing it with a more back-pain-friendly device, so free treadmill for me! I have several exercise machines that I have not been using due to a bad wrist sprain that never healed properly. Being able to just walk, without bringing my hands into the equation, is going to be fantastic.

    15. LGC*

      Got some of the most mileage I’ve done in the past few months in this week! Also, I had a pretty good tempo run Thursday morning – I didn’t look at my watch until I got back, but I felt great and my times were good.

      So I’m feeling pretty good about my running lately. I also physically feel good, which is the best sign.

      My goal nowadays is to get out the door and run five-six days a week, and to work back up to being able to handle the amount of training I was doing in 2018 and 2019. I hurt myself after the NYC Marathon in 2019 (what eventually broke me was pacing a half marathon less than three weeks later), so I was not running well pre-pandemic. I’ve been trying to make the best out of the pandemic and not worrying about specific races and specific times like I used to (in my case, automatic qualifying times for major marathons).

    16. DistantAudacity*

      I was out cross-country skiing this morning, and it was really beautiful out with snow on the trees and the sun peeking through! It’s such a great exercise if it’s available to you.

      The winter and weather gods have finally aligned in my city, so the conditions in the forests aorund us are excellent right now.

      It is very popular right now due to everything being closed, but I was out early and so was able to avoid parking difficulties at one of the many access points. People are also very good at NOT using public transportation to get access to the woods this weekend – there were crowding tendencies last weekend but media attention on it has sorted it out. (Everything is in accordance with local covid regs – there is a lot of forest!)

    17. The Other Dawn*

      I tried doing wall ball for the first time since my back surgeries. The 10 pound ball was a little too much, but the 8 pound ball was perfect. It felt a little light, but combined with the squat and upward throwing motion, it was just right.

      I also started using a six-foot 30 pound barbell for overhead presses. My husband it for me for Christmas, but unfortunately it didn’t arrive until last week and the package was absolutely destroyed. He ordered a small rack for it over a month ago, but the order got cancelled by the vendor last week saying it’s “out of stock.” He ordered a different one last week, which hasn’t even shipped yet and still no refund on the first one.

  29. *daha**

    What’s wrong about freezing coffee? I keep a large bag of whole bean coffee for daily use in my cabinet, but I also have a small bag of ground coffee that I only use when I don’t want to wake my partner with the noise of the grinder. I keep that one in the freezer. Now every package of coffee you can buy anywhere says to use two full tablespoons per 5-ounce cup, and to never ever store the package in the freezer. But why not? How is it going to harm my experience?

    1. ThatGirl*

      Coffee can absorb odors from the freezer, and the low humidity can also cause it to dry out. Bottom line it won’t taste as good. Better to put your ground coffee in an airtight container in a cool, dark place (cabinet, pantry). How often do you use the preground? Might be easier to just grind a few days’ worth?

    2. Reba*

      I think the concern is about moisture? But Serious Coffee People on the home-barista forums tested it and found no difference in performance/taste. But it seems they have opinions about when to freeze (we are talking about extremely freshly roasted beans, not off the shelf beans).

    3. GoryDetails*

      You could try doing some taste tests to see if you can tell the difference between fresh-ground, ground and stored in a cupboard for a few days, and ground stored in the freezer; could be a fun little experiment, and will give you some data as to whether the different storage methods really matter to you or not.

      FWIW, I generally buy bags of ground coffee, which last me a couple of weeks at one cup per day. I leave the bag on the counter, and the coffee seems about the same at the end of the bag as at the beginning. It’s not the same as fresh-ground but it’s perfectly adequate for me.

      If you want to freeze coffee, I do suggest putting it in an airtight container. The bags at the store have a valve that’s supposedly one-way, letting CO2 out, but if it doesn’t seal perfectly the coffee could pick up odors from the freezer and/or could dry out. Using a suitable freezer container should help minimize that.

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      Agreeing with the others who have mentioned that freezing (or refrigerating) ground coffee will create moisture that will change the structure of your coffee. The moisture will cause you to lose some of the oils that give your coffee flavor. You can just store it in an airtight container in your pantry and be fine.

    5. fposte*

      I’m not a coffee person, but I think if this works for you and you like it fine it’s perfectly reasonable to keep doing it. Not every cup has to be optimized.

    6. allathian*

      Coffee should be stored in a cool, dry place and out of the light. The aromatic compounds are complex and should be stored in room temperature. People sometimes think that it’ll keep for longer in the freezer, but that isn’t true. The key is to minimize exposure to oxygen, which activates some of the aromatic compounds.

    7. AcademiaNut*

      If it doesn’t bother you keep doing it! If you taste those cups and think “eww, something’s off” then you need to change your routine. For preventing freezer odors, though, you could store it in a sealed ziplock bag.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I keep coffee in the freezer. As long as the container is airtight I’ve seen no problem. Metal and glass great, plastic less great, bags that’s where I’ve gotten ‘defrost cycle’ taste.

  30. Sunflower*

    I got a medical bill this week that was more than expected and I’m just so bitter over 1. healthcare in general(I’m in the USA) and 2. unexpected expenses that come up. It’s days later and I’m still angry over it to the point it affected my productivity at work and is putting me in the dumps mentally today. As much as I know ‘life isn’t fair’, I just can’t help but this think ‘gahhhh this isn’t fair!!!!!!!’ and I’m having a hard time letting this go. Any advice?

    FWIW I am working with the dentist to get the ‘unexpected additional’ costs down and I am actually able to get free legal advice through my EAP because my work while necessary, wasn’t covered under insurance. I’m also very lucky I can dip into my cash savings and wipe out my HSA to pay for the entire bill. I can’t even imagine how it is for people who had major medical stuff come up and are thousands(and maybe hundreds of thousands) in debt over it.

    1. AGD*

      I lived in the U.S. for a short while a few years ago and had a similar experience. This is not particularly helpful, and I’m going to try not to make this overly political, but my sense is that people over there should be this angry about the cost and inequitable access when it comes to healthcare in the U.S.! Any country that has humans who have bodies has to contend with the fact that maintenance/repair is a thing. Restricting that to any subset of humans, let alone a subset defined by income, is inhumane. Also financially inefficient. Many other countries have a system that serves more, that allows many more people to deal with their health proactively rather than only in dire emergencies, and that costs less per capita, as I understand it. I wonder if joining a group demanding change, or writing to new elected officials, otherwise putting that anger to good use, might help the most.

    2. fposte*

      That sounds like a perfectly appropriate reaction! It also sounds like it was dental work, which is a very different kettle of insurance fish. (My first dental insurance didn’t cover crowns at all, just because they were common and pricey. Really it should probably have been called cleanings and fillings insurance.)

    3. Wishing You Well*

      Yup. I have a health care plan in the U.S. that CAN’T tell me how much something is going to cost before I have something done. (Believe me, I ask.) Then, weeks later, I get a surprise bill in the mail on top of my monthly premium. This is nuts. No other business is allowed to work this way.
      My condolences and commiseration

      1. Chaordic One*

        It isn’t completely the health care plan’s fault (although I’m no fan of health care plans or insurance companies). The bills the plans get from the hospital, the doctor, and all the affiliated and associated services are so random and unpredictable that they CAN’T tell you how much something is going to cost before you have something done because they don’t know. And there can be unpredictable complications that can add to the cost. It would be nice if they could tell what something is going to cost ahead of time, but their inability to do so isn’t all their fault. Still, if insurance companies were replaced by something else, I don’t think I’d miss them very much.

      2. MatKnifeNinja*

        Just paid off a $400 COVID-19 that allegedly was supposed to be free.

        Getting my vaccine shot (when it happens) at the county health department. They don’t tack on service charges/handling fees.

        I’ve put off so much health care because I can’t “just absorb” a $200+ bill, plus they are so quick to sell them off to bill collectors now.

        I hear you and the whole health care system in the US is really a privilege, not a right.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          I argued with Blue Cross (I spit on them) about a vaccine and the definition of “covered.”

          The customer service rep told me the vaccine was covered. But only the vaccine. Not the cost to put it into my body.

          I hate BC.

      1. Dr. Anonymous*

        It basically addresses out of network fees from providers, say, associated with teh hospital where you had your surgery but mysteriously the anesthesiologist is not affiliated with your insurance so we’d like $10,000, please. I don’t think it prevents all the nasty surprises.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m so glad I saw this! I posted down-thread about exactly this…but my bill is $66k! Needless to say, I’m in a panic.

          1. Firefly*

            After I broke my arm and needed surgery, my insurance paid for it. A year later the insurance company did an audit and took the money back from the hospital leaving me a $40k bill. The insurance company accidentally had me in the wrong plan and wouldn’t fix it even though it was their mistake. Most hospitals will negotiate a lower price, but not the one I was at. Afterwards they sold most of it to a collection agency, for $3,000 which I could pay. I wouldn’t recommend doing it this way because it was super stressful, but it did end up saving me over $25k after making my other payments. It dinged my credit score, but not as much as I expected. I did have an excellent credit score to begin with.
            Good luck. You may be able to negotiate the bill.

    4. MsChanandlerBong*

      I completely understand. I was hospitalized in December, and my big plan was to use our stimulus payment to pay for some of the bill. But guess what? The IRS isn’t sending us a payment. No reason provided, just that my payment status is “unavailable” in the Get My Payment tool, and if your payment status is unavailable, you’re not getting a check/deposit–you’ll have to file for a credit on your 2020 return. That is not going to help me when the $2,500+ bill arrives. I know there were issues if you used a tax-prep service and did one of their refund anticipation loans, but that doesn’t apply to us. We gave the IRS our direct-deposit info in the spring, we had no problem getting our first payment, and there haven’t been any changes in our banking info.

      Then there’s the annoyance of having to use every lunch break to call and argue with billers about incorrect amounts, claims not filed, etc. The hospitalist group sent me a bill via TEXT MESSAGE the other day, and they didn’t even file a claim with my insurance yet. I think they were hoping I’d be dumb and just pay them almost $1,000 without asking any questions.

      1. Fish*

        I had the same status on the Get My Payment tool on Friday morning, but the stimulus money was available in my bank account Saturday morning. (I just checked and it still says that my payment status isn’t available, despite me definitely having received the payment.) So, there’s some hope!

  31. Mimmy*

    For those who have had gallbladder surgery, what was the recovery like? I’m particularly interested in hearing from those whose surgery was unexpectedly complicated. I’d also like to hear about post-operative diet experiences.

    My husband had his gallbladder removed on Tuesday and has been really struggling. It was recommended by his weight loss surgeon (weight loss surgery was Nov. 2019) that he get it removed proactively because a one-year post-op ultrasound showed gallstones.

    We went into this surgery thinking it’d be a breeze as he had no gallbladder symptoms. The surgery was laparoscopic. Long story short, his gallbladder was a MESS; what is normally a 15-minute surgery took over an hour. Since Tuesday, he’s had two bouts of excruciating pain; the first time it happened, the doctor attributed it to trapped gas. Yesterday during the second bout, he started having fever and shaking chills. He went to the ER last night to get checked out. Tests showed nothing immediately concerning but there is still trapped gas, which normally would’ve resolved by now. Hubby has already spoken with his surgeon, who is perplexed but doesn’t seem concerned about any immediate dangers. He still has some pain and cyclic fever & chills.

    Hearing your experiences with gallbladder surgery recovery and diet would be really helpful. Yes, we know to seek medical attention if symptoms persist or get worse.

    I think I’m done with 2021 already :/

    1. TMI, Medical Anon*

      I had my gallbladder out because I was having excruciating bouts of pain. I guess +-150 gallstones will do that to you.

      I too had laparoscopic, though the gallbladder was such a mess, with so many stones, that it nearly became traditional surgery. Then I had a problem with the anesthesia and ended up spending the night at the hospital instead of getting to go home right away. The first three days were pretty rough, but the fourth was better and I was back at the office (moving gingerly) on the fifth day after surgery. I probably was helped by the fact that the recovery pain was more bearable than the gallstone pain.

      Even without many complications, recovery takes much longer than you might expect. After seven-eight weeks, I still could feel that I had the surgery when walking, etc.

    2. Josephine Beth NotAmy*

      I had emergency gallbladder surgery because mine had nearly ruptured (did rupture during surgery). I had liver and pancreatic infections and spent 5 days in the hospital. I felt awful, and my appetite didn’t return for several weeks. Having been told by many that it’s a simple surgery, I was pretty surprised by how long my recover took. Probably several weeks before I was doing anything even remotely like my typical activities.

      1. Mimmy*

        Hubby found out from the doctor this morning that they had to take out a bit of his liver on Tuesday; his gallbladder was perforated into his liver (and I think colon? I forget) so maybe it was infected.

        1. Anono-me*

          I would be upset at how this doc is communicating important medical health information and try to get a second opinion from an unconnected doctor.

          I don’t have experience with complicated gallbladder surgery. But I suspect that a significant factor in your husband’s pain is the fact that his doctor isn’t communicating well about what is going on.

          I’m hoping for improved communication and a speedy recovery.

    3. TextHead*

      I had mine out in my late teens (family history and a foster parent who thought fast food 3 meals a day was fine) after having terribly painful attacks. No issues during the surgery except for struggling to come out of the anesthesia.

      I remember it being hard to find a comfortable position to sleep in for the first few nights. I only took the pain meds for about half the time prescribed, as the pain wasn’t too bad after that point and I’d rather deal than take those.

      I sometimes have phantom pains (nothing like a full on attack) when I eat meals that are too fatty – that was more frequent closer to the surgery and has lessened over time. Taking digestive enzymes can be really helpful. Overall, I don’t need to be too careful with my diet in relation to my surgery. My digestion was tested recently and is doing fine. I was pleasantly surprised as I typically hear the opposite for folks without a gallbladder.

      Not sure of any of this helps, but sending my best to your husband!

      1. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, yeah, I get phantom discomfort too. It’s not really painful for me, but I can tell something’s up. Digestive enzymes help with that? Do you have any recommendations?

        1. TextHead*

          They do! I take one called Complete Digestion from Enzyme Sciences. You take it right when you’re starting to eat.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      I am very sorry your husband is having this level of trouble. I hope he gets better soon!

    5. Myrin*

      (Have you asked about this surgery when it was still upcoming, by any chance? I distinctly remember replying to a comment like this by a commenter whose name I recognised but I have zero memory of who exactly it was.)

      I had my gallbladder removed in April 2019. I had five or six stones but what was truly remarkable was the fact that it was apparently absolutely enormous. For months, I would feel this weird bulge on the right side of my stomach when lying down, but I honestly (and dumbly, really) thought I was just having weird bouts of gas because I didn’t have any symptoms or trouble whatsoever (I did, however, realise later that I must’ve had a colic about half a year before that; it was without doubt the most painful experience of my life but I actually thought I might have food poisoning). When I finally went to the doctor, she had trouble at first actually recognising which organ this massive thing could possibly be, it was that bad.

      After the surgery, where the surgeon himself proclaimed his shock at my enormous gallbladder and how it was apparently a downright miracle that it hadn’t ruptured by now, and during my three-days-long stay at the hospital – I’m not in the US and that is customary here – the general area of my stomach, from below my breasts to below my navel, hurt a lot when moving and I had a lot of trouble getting up, but it got better steadily and was gone after at most a week.

      I honestly didn’t change my diet a lot but I do try to eat smaller portions/the same as before but less. I’ve been a downright glutton with a huge stomach all my life so that was and continues to be not easy for me but I try my best. So far, I haven’t found any particular kind of food that’s giving me trouble especially, not even any of the usual suspects like onions, garlic, beans, or cabbage.
      What I absolutely under any circumstances can’t do anymore, though, is eating a warm meal after five or six in the afternoon. Which isn’t a problem because where I’m from, we eat a big, warm lunch and just some bread or so for supper, but on the rare occasions where I went out to eat for an evening invitation, I’d have to basically fast for the whole day so that I could literally stomach the dinner or else it would all come up again shortly after.

    6. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I had mine out in 2017. I ended up having a lot of gallstones in there to the point where the surgeon poked his head in after surgery and said “well that was nasty”. I do believe I was told I could take Gas-X for a couple days recovering at home with regards to the trapped gas. It’s not just in your abdomen but can travel up to your shoulder blades and it’s highly uncomfortable and painful. I was also very swollen and bruised from the laparoscopic surgery. It took a lot longer than I expected to recover. it was also important that I take the painkillers as prescribed the first few days and also get up and move around as prescribed.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      I had mine out in 2018. (It was emergency surgery, as it was in the process of bursting.) The surgery and recovery were fine; the post surgical pain was so much less than the gallstone pain, and I was back to nearly normal activities in about a week. The part I hadn’t anticipated was that I still have to watch what and how much I eat. According to my doctor that is not very common. It’s inconvenient when, for example, I want to drown my frustration with current events in Ben and Jerry’s, but it does force me to stick to a healthy diet!

    8. Dr. KMnO4*

      I had my gallbladder out almost 8 years ago (when I was in my 20s), and while the surgery went well, the aftereffects on my life have been…less than ideal.

      I have a family history of autoimmune disorders, which means I was genetically predisposed to develop one or more at some point. They can show up as a result of some sort of illness or trauma (I know someone who developed Type 1 diabetes in their 20s after being in a car crash; they did have a family history of T1D). Post-surgery, I developed celiac disease.

      I also am now much more sensitive to fatty foods. I can’t eat ribs or pulled pork without deeply unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms. It was definitely trial-and-error for the first several months, trying to figure out which foods were safe, and how much I could reasonably have. Diet-wise, I’d recommend taking it slowly when it comes to foods with a high fat content.

      I hope your husband recovers soon!

    9. KoiFeeder*

      Well, that’s the complete opposite of my experience. I started doing dishes the day after the surgery because I’m a terrible patient who can’t sit still.

      I had a bit of discomfort from trapped gas, but that was about it.

    10. MsChanandlerBong*

      I had an easy recovery despite having to have adhesions removed from my diaphragm and the neck of my gallbladder before they could remove it. My surgery was scheduled for 10 a.m., but there were delays, so I didn’t go to the OR until after 3:00. As a result, I had to stay overnight. They gave me Vicodin for pain and sent me home the next morning. I took it easy for a few days, but I went out for dinner with friends on Friday after having the surgery on Monday. I did have shoulder and back pain for several days, sometimes severe, due to the gas they used, though.

      My surgeon told me that whatever triggered your symptoms would continue to be trigger foods after the surgery, and I have found that to be true. Turkey is one of my worst triggers, so I avoid it completely, and I very rarely eat anything fried or greasy because it triggers my symptoms.

    11. Chuck*

      I had emergency gallbladder surgery a couple of years ago. I’d had chronic gallstones attacks of escalating severity for the year leading up to it but doctors didn’t seem overly concerned and just told me it was probably going to have to come out eventually. A weeks worth of projectile vomiting and pain led to a visit to the emergency room. My emergency surgery took about five hours in total because my gallbladder had necrotised Afterwards I was NIL by mouth for over a week as the bile duct was blocked and they were waiting for a specialist to perform an endoscope to remove the blockage. I was jaundiced and bright yellow.
      That being said the post hospital recovery was comparatively easy. I remember having to change my sleeping position and being sore when sitting or standing up. About a month after surgery I remember being at a concert and feeling conscious that I still couldn’t dance too hard. In terms of diet I find I can eat pretty much anything without ill effects which is a big change from pre-surgery where an attack could easily be triggered by a range of foods, mainly meat and animal products.

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      An extreme/uncommon incident from a casual acquaintance in pre-laparascopy days has stuck with me even though it is one of the side-effects that laparascopy avoids. So I’ll ask–he’s digesting & pooping already right? If intestines get twisted, it can require a follow-up surgery to untwist & repair damage.
      Again this is hopefully not the case with his less-invasive surgery.

      1. Mimmy*

        He is pooping, yes. He’s been eating mostly liquids (soups, jello, etc.; this morning he had some scrambled eggs) but so I’m guessing he’s digesting properly. He might’ve overdid it on Friday, though (cereal, Smart Ones enchiladas and a peanut bar). I’m watching what he eats like a hawk.

    13. Mimmy*

      Thanks so much everyone for sharing your stories!

      He is still feverish and has some abdominal pain but the pain isn’t at the level it was on Friday evening. He’s seriously considering going for a COVID test though since it can sometimes manifest with digestive, rather than respiratory, symptoms; his doctor did recommend getting tested if the fever/chills continue. Which means *I* probably have it too, though I’m not experiencing any symptoms (I am coughing a bit but I tend to get “phlegm-y” so that’s not unusual for me).

    14. Sister Michael, Judo Blackbelt*

      I had my gallbladder removed in 2018 unexpectedly after about 6 months of what felt like awful acid reflux. Turned out my gallbladder was so swollen and infected that my surgery took longer than expected. I was admitted on a Monday, surgery on Tuesday, discharged on Thursday, when I was told pre-op I’d probably get to go home Tuesday night. The first week at home was a very quiet week of simple diet (applesauce, rice, lots of water) and slow movements. The second week post-op I felt more comfortable, was able to start diversifying my diet and more moving around. I felt so much better during the second week post-op compared to the pain I felt the weeks leading up to the surgery.

      The surgeon said I might have issues with fried/heavy foods, so I started back into those slowly. I’ve found more issues with spice than with fried foods – my tolerance went way down after I had my gallbladder out. Slow and small introductions to foods was helpful for me.

      My dad has COVID, and his symptoms manifested all as digestive, not the normal cough/smell/taste symptoms. So it might be helpful for peace of mind/treatment to get a test if some of these symptoms continue.

    15. Laura Petrie*

      I had my gallbladder removed just over 3 years ago. Apparently it was a real mess but I was diagnosed by chance. I had to go for a kidney scan and it picked up my gallbladder issues.

      I was fine immediately after surgery and went home the same day. Unfortunately a few days later I ended up in a different hospital with extreme vomiting and diarrhoea. I had x rays and scans and was told my stomach was distended but they didn’t seem to be able to figure out the cause. They suspected a bike leak but then seemed to rule it out.

      I had to spend the night on a medical assessment ward (meant to have a private room due to my symptoms but nothing was available). The consultant decided to shove a tube up my nose and into my stomach, which was one of the worst experiences of my life. I got my revenge by vomiting bright green bile all over him shortly after he insisted I couldn’t be sick because of the tube.

      Apart from that experience, the operation has honestly changed my life. I’m ok with most foods although I ate low fat at first. I do get discomfort if I have too much fried or rich food and get heartburn a fair bit. I carry Gaviscon tablets with me everywhere and have the liquid at home.

      One thing to look out for are B12 levels, I was already deficient but my levels really dipped after my operation. PPI medication given for gastric issues can also affect B12.

  32. Puppy!*

    Thank you everyone!
    We have been practicing “ go to your mat” and stay. She is there right now.
    And the dog puzzles are amazing!
    She is so, so smart.
    Also as if she knew I was going to report my failure to get her to sleep past 5,5:30 am. Today …
    She slept until 6:30!
    Shocked, shocked ,I tell you.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Amazing! Go to your spot is a life saver! We use it with our dog frequently! Another fun thing to look into is something called “it’s your choice”, basically helps teach the dogs impulse control around food too! It’s a fun game and
      My dog loves to play it

      1. Puppy!*

        I have been feeling a big puppy parent failure-
        re: leash walking and crate training and coming when called.
        One of the puppy’s afternoon friends reminded me that I am bringing my work perfectionism/workaholism to the experience and “lighten up”
        To enjoy this time.
        So- I downloaded Dogtraining 101- there was a sale. and I will knit and watch.
        counting the successes-
        potty training- huge win
        knows her name- win
        no bark- win
        sits and waits for people to pet her-win
        sit/stay/leave it- big win
        trade/drop it- big win
        In/out – up /off- big win
        touch it- a lovely surprise win
        socialization- big win- loves people, plays well with others
        differentiation- what helpers will tolerate from her and what I will allow-(for me- no mouth, no jumping, no rough play) for them- I am just grateful and they get to be the “grandparents”

        Goofy and makes me laugh- big win.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh my you are doing GREAT!

          Mine is 12. He cannot do sit/stay yet. But he can do, “Go to the window and watch for company. Let me know when company is here.” LOL.
          One time my friend was delayed. I estimated the dog would have a 5 minute wait. Because of the delay the dog sat there for 45 minutes softly crying in frustration because no one was materializing. I am more careful now about saying that.

          While mine is so-so on learning, yours sounds like a great learner. You can probably teach him names of places such as the kitchen and other rooms;[names of friends] houses; and “store” or “bank”. They can connect a given place to the expected behavior, such as waiting patiently at a bank drive through window or Susan’s house with the large back yard means lots of play.

          My old dog learned that “ouch” and “OOOOh” meant he jostled or bumped someone and he was not supposed to. I also taught him, “it’s okay”, which fits in SO many situations. That covered kids playing outside, a minor earthquake and a fire in an adjacent field. All things that were out of the norm and that he was concerned about.

        2. Cat and dog fosterer*

          Thank you for this! You have an accomplished list. And an even better reminder, to enjoy them.

          I have managed:
          – potty trained (arrived trained at 14 weeks, but we continue to do well)
          – knows name
          – learning to lay down and relax to “Quiet” command – HUGE win
          – learning to sit for strangers and not always jump
          – sit
          – down in progress
          – gentle taking food
          – crate for an hour every day – lots of whining, yet a big improvement
          – sits ‘like people’ in my lap so pup can join my online work meetings in future and pretend to be me

          I think I need to remember to enjoy the training, and it isn’t about a list of commands but rather how pup behaves around others. Pup behaves pretty badly on leash, by grabbing the leash, growling and tugging at it, which is exactly what I work to retrain with older dogs. Yet pup is good in so many other ways including perfect with strangers (friendly and confident yet submissive), and I get a good laugh out of the tugging behavior, and I can also let pup off-leash most of the time due to very food-motivated recall.

          Lots of laughs, and that is most important! Thanks again for the point of view.

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      How delightful! The days are long but the years fly by with a puppy. All the time you’re investing now will be repaid ten fold.

  33. Coenobita*

    Thank you to everyone last week who told me to take the covid vaccine when I’m offered it, even though I felt weird about it because I’m a low-risk logistics volunteer and not a “real” healthcare worker. When I was volunteering this week, the clinic had some extra doses in the vial at the end of the day so they offered them to us volunteers, and I am pleased to report that I’ve now received dose 1 of the Moderna vaccine. I also arranged it with my day job so I can continue to volunteer one day a week for the next several weeks, which I am super excited about.

    Special shout-out to Grey Barrier Reef for their important reminder that I can have as many existential crises as I want, I just can’t let them affect public health. :)

    1. fposte*

      I thought of you this week as I’ve been seeing a lot of reports of various health systems’ approach to using the last bits of vaccine on all kinds of people rather than let it go to waste. I think you made the right choice.

      1. Coenobita*

        Yes, totally! A top story in our local news this week was basically “some guys got vaccinated because they happened to be in Safeway when the pharmacy closed.”

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I read that and hope that the pharmacists offer it to the cashiers any time there’s an extra dose!

    2. Blue Eagle*

      Glad to hear that you received the vaccine – – and as a result are protecting the individuals who you interact with in your volunteer work.

    3. Grey Barrier Reef*

      Thanks, Coenobita! You were not alone with these questions (or the existential crises) and I’m super glad you have dose one.

    4. Wishing You Well*

      YAY! Glad you got dose 1!
      I heartily approve of using every last dose in the vial!
      Rock on, Coenobita!

    5. OyHiOh*

      I’m glad you took the shot when it was offered!

      My gentleman friend was able to get his dose 1 this week too, as an in home care provider. Availability is so weird! He found out about a clinic for health care/home care providers a couple hours before it started. Was in line for more than an hour.

      I’m lucky in the sense of being of moderate age, in good health, not caring for vulnerable people or working in a high risk/essential job. I’m in the back of the line. If I get vaccinated before my birthday (first half of July) I’ll be shocked.

  34. A name is required.*

    I got a foodi ninja (like an instant pot plus air fryer) for Christmas. I have a 4 lb pork center cut and would like to cook it in it. Googling is giving me a variety of time suggestions for pressure cooking it – any thoughts?

  35. mreasy*

    Does anyone here follow a FODMAPS diet and have ideas for meal starches? I do oatmeal, rice, potatoes, and the occasional corn tortilla, but there truly aren’t a ton of options. Overall I eat pretty healthfully and very little meat (also affects my IBS) – and my brain is such that I can’t do a no-carb or low-carb meal – but I am getting a little tired of the options I’ve found. I haven’t gone with polenta yet (though I should, yum) – any other suggestions? Thanks!

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      No experience with FODMAPS, but there are a lot of ways to eat corn besides tortillas. Hominy, grits, 100% corn cornbread or muffins (try it with strawberry jam), spoonbread, cornmeal griddlecakes, Indian pudding,and of course all the varieties of polenta/cornmeal mush.

    2. AGD*

      Yeah, I’ve been mixing up the rice and corn options. Polenta is versatile (sliced or homemade – e.g. Google ‘crispy polenta balls’ and add pretend cheese), cornflakes or crushed cornflakes can go into a bunch of things, gluten-free freezer pasta can be decent (or not, but the ones that have potato/egg in them are surprisingly convincing). Japanese rice cakes have a very different texture and can be steamed or fried, and there are a billion different kinds of rice noodles. I also find that really mixing up the sauces helps. FODY makes some low FODMAP ones that are pretty good, and Japanese/Chinese/Korean stir-fry sauces and the like keep things from getting boring (I’m still learning the many uses of miso). I also eat a lot of soy protein bars, and snack on imitation bacon bits (salty, savory, protein-y).

    3. frenchtoast*

      I’ve been on FODMAPS for a while now, (it’s more relaxed now after doing reintroduction). For starches, in addition to what you’ve already listed, I do quite a bit of gluten-free breads. I’ve found some great frozen gluten free pizza crusts to make homemade pizzas, gluten-free or sourdough bread for sandwhiches, grilled cheese, and gluten free buns for burgers/salmon or chicken burgers. As another commenter listed – rice noodles or gluten free noodles also open up cooking pasta options :)

      I also do gluten-free baking mixes (pancake, muffins, breads). It’s kinda trial and error as some of the gluten free products upset my system, but NEVER as badly as regular FODMAP foods. I wish I could give up starches and carbs, but I just can’t seem to live without them ….

      Oh – and I completely agree with AGD the fody foods make everything so much more flavourful and exciting. The garlic and shallot infused oils and the chicken and veggie stocks are my go-to items.

      If you haven’t already, check out the Monash fodmap website – lots of resources and recipe ideas. The app is also a godsend. The site is: monashfodmap . com

      1. mreasy*

        Thank you all so much for your input! I had entirely forgotten about quinoa and love the idea of a Southern style flourless cornbread. Agreed on the Monash app, it is SO helpful!

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Millet and buckwheat appear to be low FODMAP. Millet can be used as a mix-in with steamed rice, as a grain by itself, or as a porridge, and millet flour is used in African cooking. Buckwheat works well in salads, as a porridge, or as the basis of a pilaf. Also consider whole oats, which cook up as a fairly sturdy grain. Look for different rice varieties (red or purple rice, glutinous rice). I don’t know if coix seed/Job’s tears is low FODMAP (it’s a type of seed), if it is, it’s very tasty and cooks up much like large barley, or even beans for the unpolished version. Oh, and rice cakes! Japanese one are soft and sticky when cooked, Korean ones are firmer. I like taking the sliced Korean rice cake, sauteeing them in a bit of oil in a non stick pan until browned (don’t soak them first!), and sprinkling with salt. It’s totally non traditional, delicious. And rice noodles, if you’re not using them already – they come in 100% rice varieties.

    5. Observer*

      You can get all sorts of pasta made from rice and spelt. Spelt does work better on a low FODMAP diet than wheat. Buckwheat also works well.

      Moderate amounts of sweep potato and yam should be ok, as well though I can swear to it.

      There is an extremely useful app from the folks who have developed the diet that includes a pretty comprehensive food guide.

    6. Cookie Monster*

      Since you can do potatoes, can you do other starchy carbs? Sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, delicata squash (basically, all the winter squashes), plantains, parsnips, rutabaga, etc.

  36. Nessun*

    Slightly different question about podcasts! I’m not looking for recs (everyone has provided lots in the past I want to look into – thanks), but I do have questions about how to listen. What do people use? Is everyone using their phone? Does anyone use a MP3 player anymore? What app or site do you use to download? Do people use YouTube and just listen through that?? There’s lots of ways to do it – what works best for you?? (And where are you using podcasts? I have different processes for listening at home versus while walking for exercise.)

      1. Lady Alys*

        Thirding Podcast Addict – I have various bluetooth speakers and earbuds around the house and use one or the other depending on whether anyone else is here and/or interested in listening too. I have a headband with speakers sewn in that I sometimes use at night – I find something boring and drift off to sleep to it.

      2. Double A*

        Love podcast addict. It has a ton of options and settings so it can take a little to fiddle with, but once I have it set how I like it’s awesome.

    1. Something Blue*

      I have a similar question to Nessun, if I may piggyback!

      I use the podcasts app on my iphone. For people who have an iphone but use another way to listen, is there a substantial difference between the iphone app and other podcasts apps?

      1. AnotherTeacher*

        It depends on what you’re looking for. I love Overcast because I can speed up the speed of the podcasts (up to 3x!) and reduce silences. You might read that sentence and think that’s the worst idea ever! But some podcast apps have features that aren’t built in to the native iPhone app.

    2. David*

      I use an app called Player FM which I think is fantastic. I pay for a subscription now, but I used to use the free version and it was pretty great. One of the things I like about it is that it’s cross-platform, so my collection of podcasts is accessible both in the phone app and on their website on my computer. It will even sync the play progress between them (so I can start listening on the phone and later switch to the computer), although that might be a premium feature.

    3. Sylvan*

      I use Spotify. I like having music and podcasts in the same app, but organized separately. It’s also good for making playlists and (with a paid subscription) downloading podcasts to listen to offline.

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Gave up using my MP3 player years ago. It’s much easier to use the podcast app on my iPhone.

      I listen through my car’s speakers (Bluetooth), JB’s clip3 (Bluetooth) everywhere in my house carrying it with me from room to room, and one Bluetooth earbud very occasionally while I ride my bike. I usually don’t listen to anything while riding, though.

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Luddite here. I never got in to mp3 players. Skipped straight from on-my-desktop to on-my phone. I know a lot of people use podcast addict, yet I find it frustrating. I use Pocket Casts and find the interface much more user friendly. Good luck!

  37. All the cats 4 me*

    Request for a link to the recent weekend thread discussion about air filtering devices that Alison contributed to?

    I did a search but haven’t been able to find it, if anyone could provide a link I would greatly appreciate it!

    I remember looking into the brand/model at the time and have a vague impression that there was some hitch with getting replacement filters (or that they were super $$) in western Canada (or perhaps the brand/model wasn’t available here?). Any other suggestions for products in western Canada that you have used and are happy with?

    Thanks all!

  38. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking? thread
    What did you cook this week or what do you intend to cook this week?

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I just finished preparing pizza dough (Budget Bytes recipe) and I’m cooking chicken so I can make a Broccoli Cheddar Chicken Salad (from Budget Bytes again). I’m trying the second recipe for the first time. I’m trying recipes that make me eat more vegetables. I don’t like vegetables. Well, it’s not true. I like some vegetables. But I never look forward to eat vegetables. Whereas bread… mmmmm

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I adapted a household favorite (the Halal Chicken recipe from Serious Eats) from stovetop to sous vide successfully, which means we can prep up a couple packets of the chicken in the freezer and have them on hand ready to go. I wasn’t sure it would work, because the recipe warns you not to marinade the chicken more than 4 hours before cooking, but the freezing basically pushes pause on the marinade time, then it goes from the freezer straight into the cooker and works out great. After sous-vide-ing it and chopping it up, I whack it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes to crisp up the edges and it’s excellent. :)

      Next week is going to be something with salmon (from frozen fillets), but I’m not sure what yet. My first instinct is teriyaki.

    3. Batgirl*

      I got some ‘gluten free on a shoestring’ books for Christmas and made buttermilk pancakes this morning. Stunningly easy. As a Brit I’ve never had buttermilk pancakes before and I might adore them.

    4. Michelle*

      This week I made the Herbed Parmesan Dutch Baby from King Arthur Flour and the Garlic Butter Steak and Potatoes from EatWell101. Both were very good and likely going on the rotation–maybe not every month, but every couple of months, as they make a lot of food for just a couple of people.

      On deck this week are Honey Garlic Glazed Salmon from Delish, Slow Cooker Creamy Tuscan Chicken, which was supposedly on fire on Reddit at some point???, and likely Cheese and Tomato Lasagna Recipe found on The Nosher (a reprint of a Cook’s Illustrated recipe).

      I also came across the Shockingly Easy No-Knead Focaccia recipe on Bon Appetit, which I am dying to try, but want to wait until we have company or something to help us eat up all of that bread!!!

    5. StellaBella*

      This week I made another pumpkin pie from scratch (roasted butternuts and pumpkins), and today I made a basic but good homemade lasagne that I have divided for meals for the next few days and had for dinner (hamburger, onions, basil, oregano, mozzarella, noodles, tomatoes, red pepper and spicy red sauce). I also made a ton of roasted sweet potato wedges and roasted broccoli for the next few days. I love batch cooking.

    6. Anon100*

      Planning to cook 2 things this week
      – Taiwanese beef noodle soup. My mom gifted me an Instapot for my birthday a week ago and… making beef noodle soup on the stove usually takes 2-3 hours to but my mom says it can be done in 45 minutes in an Instapot

      – Apple turnovers. I have the premade pastry, I have the apples, I just need to spend some time peeling and chopping apples, then make the filling. It’s been on my to-cook list for a week an a half now, but I just haven’t felt like doing any intense cooking since mid-December.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      I’m planning to try pastelon for the first time, but adapted to my low FODMAP and other dietary restrictions.

    8. Buni*

      I accidentally over-bought eggs so made a massive Spanish omelette – lots of potato for the bottom layer, full of cheese, leeks and red onions (turns it purple!).

      I over-baked at Christmas because I went into automatic mode – usually I’m baking for about 6 different people / households, and it hadn’t occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to see or even deliver to about 4 of those. Every time I open a container in my kitchen it’s got cake or biscuits in it, stuff I don’t even remember making – could have worse problems I s’pose!

    9. Bobina*

      Gonna try a pan roasted chicken thing tomorrow that I’m hopeful will be tasty and not too complicated. Then mashed potatoes and some cavolo nero to go with it I think.

      If I’m feeling super keen might make mac and cheese midweek. But I have to say, I seem to have lost a lot of my cooking enthusiasm after the holidays, mainly through treating myself to takeaways I think…

    10. GoryDetails*

      Balsamic roasted mushrooms (another Budget Bytes fan here!) – they came out very tasty indeed.

      Later on I plan to make a goat cheese souffle, though as I’ve indulged in some leftover fajitas I’m feeling pretty full just now. Maybe the souffle can wait until tomorrow.

    11. violet04*

      I made white chicken chili from a recipe my husband got from a friend. It was really good and I’ve been eating it for lunch during the week. This past week I made these recipes from food blogs I follow.

      Nam Sod (Thai Pork Salad) from Budget Bytes
      Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos from Cooking Classy
      Tender Pork Chops with Caramelized Apples and Onions from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

      I sat down to make a meal plan for the next week, but decided to check AAM first.

      1. Lore*

        I lost track of my beloved sweet potato taco recipe a while back and I think this is it! I’m so excited!

        Oh, and planning to cook a pork tenderloin with orange/wine/soy marinade and orange/ginger relish. It’s usually a salmon recipe but my partner doesn’t eat fish and since he’s the only one I’m cooking for anytime soon, trying to adapt it.

    12. Princess Deviant*

      Lately I have been making bahn mi, mushroom and smoked tofu stroganoff, peddler’s noodles, a chocolate cake (which was a bit disappointing to be honest. I’ve made it before and much preferred it the first time), and salted chocolate cookies using Nigella Lawson’s recipe.
      All really good, all vegan!
      I am autistic, and I have a thing where I will make a certain food or foods over and over again until I get fed up of them. I am fed up of the bahn mi now and don’t want to try the choc cake again anytime soon, but I’m still eating the stroganoff, the noodles, and the cookies.

    13. Chyll*

      A few weeks ago I mentioned getting a Dutch Oven and asked for some new recipe recommendations here. The Dutch Oven came early so I’m looking forward to trying some no-knead bread later this week as another commenter suggested! A tricky thing is that I’m celiac, so anything with gluten is a no-go. I’m going to try a gluten free version using Cup4Cup or Bob’s 1-1 baking flour and am looking forward to see how it works out.

      Also, another potential issue is that we’re moving into our new house on Monday and I’ll be baking this bread with a brand new oven…but in case it doesn’t work out I bought a couple extra yeast packets to try again ^_^

      1. Ali G*

        If you don’t have one I suggest getting a cheap oven thermometer. Temp is important with bread, so you’ll want to know you’ve made it hot enough. You can get one at the grocery store for like $5.

        1. Chyll*

          Thanks for the suggestion! That’s a great point, I forgot all about getting one. I’ll have to pick one up somewhere.

    14. Girasol*

      Winter stuff: Acorn squash stuffed with fried breakfast sausage and apples. Roast chicken with oven roasted root veggies. Cinnamon raisin bread and sticky rolls from the bread starter. Cream of turkey soup from Thanksgiving’s bird. Spaghetti made from our own tomatoes. We canned fruit last fall, froze the tenderer garden veggies, put the potatoes and squashes in cartons in the garage, and root cellared the carrots and beets in the big camping cold chest so we could feast from our own produce and limit grocery buying. Considering how small our garden is, it’s a miracle that we still have plenty of everything.

    15. Bethlam*

      We’ve been eating a lot of ham so I’ve been making different crockpot soups using the ham bone and leftover ham. The split pea was amazing, but today’s barley soup was eh. Too bland. Edible, but nothing to write home about. And of course, there’s a lot left.

    16. OyHiOh*

      Yesterday, I made one of the best meals I’ve done since life turned upside down in Feb 2019.

      Roast chicken (rubbed with garlic and salt), served with blackberry sauce, roast potatoes, and chop salad

      Blackberry sauce – juice from 6 oz blackberries, chopped cilantro, lemon juice/zest, minced garlic, a touch of turmeric, ground coriander, and fenugreek

      Chop salad – diced cucumber, tomato, red onion, dressed with salt, lemon juice, and olive oil

    17. Might Be Spam*

      I got a box of overripe pears third hand from someone who got them as a gift and hates pears. I peeled and cored them and threw them in a pot to simmer all day and ended up with a pot of very thick pear jam. Yummy.

    18. Emily*

      I cooked braised tofu with vegetables (silken tofu fried at high heat so that it develops a skin, then added to a stir fry – recipe is “Ultimate Braised Tofu” on The Woks of Life). I think it was a good recipe, but I had a few execution issues and don’t know if I’ll repeat it often, as the deep frying step seemed like kind of a pain.

      I’m planning to make kimchi for the first time ever! I hope it’s good, because my napa cabbage is massive – over four pounds. (Recipe: “Easy Kimchi”/mak-kimchi on Maangchi’s website)

      And finally, Wild Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie from Smitten Kitchen Every Day, which I have made before and liked!

    19. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I’m trying to clear out my pantry and freezer so whatever goes with what I have. So far the menu is:

      creamy shrimp & broccoli pasta

      chicken & broccoli in ramen

      panko crusted salmon & broccoli

      slow cooked marinated beef & rice

      tuna melt sandwich

      I went to the butcher this week and bought chicken “lollipops”… excited to make those.

      I also bought a new toaster oven. It has an air fryer option. I’m excited to begin using it!

    20. Ali G*

      I just finished my meal prep for the week:
      2 lb cod for lunch
      Tons of roast veg
      Egg whites
      Salad dressing
      Later I’ll sous vide chicken breasts for dinner all week.
      It’s not exciting but it keeps us on track all week and cuts down on the work I need to do too.

    21. Laura Petrie*

      I’ve decided to cook one new recipe a week this year. I feel like I’m stuck in a bit of a cookery rut and want to mix things up a bit.

      Last week was the Beefy Tempeh and Broccoli from Isa Chandra’s I Can Cook Vegan. I don’t like tempeh so used seitan pieces. I was going to make the lemon yuba with rice from the same book today but we were too full.

      I made my first loaf of bread in years yesterday, a mix of white and whole meal flour with dried garlic slices and chopped rosemary added to the dough.

      I’ve also been investigating Indian, Chinese and Japanese recipes after buying loads of ingredients online. I’m excited to try some new flavours and dishes.

    22. SarahKay*

      I’m making marmalade (with lovely chunky peel, yum!) but accidentally used too much water. I was making 2/3 quantities, and while I used the correct amount of oranges and sugar, I forgot to scale down the water :( Right now I have very tasty marmalade soup; having realised my mistake I’ll simmer it down tomorrow and hopefully get rid of the excess water that way.
      On the plus side, the simmering will give the kitchen (and probably the whole flat) a lovely orange-y smell.

    23. lily*

      I did thai curry and scallion pancakes, tacos (homemade corn and flour tortillas, caramelized onions, mushrooms, black beans, spinach, and homemade ricotta and caramelized onion ravioli with tomato sauce. I also made muffins, and a bunch of breakfasts/lunches.

  39. RMNPgirl*

    Intermittent Fasting…who’s done it/doing it, and can you share your experience?

    I’m thinking this really may be for me but I want to hear from people who’ve done it or are doing it. From what I’ve read I think the 5:2 method will be best for me but want to hear from anyone and what method you’re using and why.

    Have you felt healthier, what other positive changes have you had?

    1. Crowley*

      Oooh funny you should ask! I realised over the Christmas break that I tipped into obese (I’ve probably been there a while but was in denial) and I’m starting intermittent fasting again. I haven’t done it in 4 years or so but it was great for me back then – wasn’t hard once I was into the swing of it.

      I’m finding it VERY hard to get started TBH, particularly as everything is metaphorically on fire in the UK at the mo (literally it’s extremely cold, haha) but I’m believing that I’ll get used to it again!

      Also doing 5:2 as that’s what worked for me last time.

    2. fposte*

      I do 8:16 and really like it; I’m not sure I could manage a 5:2. My hours are basically 11-7. I do get hungry some mornings but I perversely like that—it’s not for very long, and it seems like a good thing to normalize. The effects I’ve noticed are a drop in my blood pressure and better gut stability (I have Crohn’smand some associated stuff). I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit with working at home but I still figure it helps some even if I don’t manage to do it every day.

      1. Mx*

        I noticed the 8:16 improved my gut too, but it might be also because most of my food was healthy and homemade, Do you eat lot of healthy foods or is it just the 16 hours/day fast that helped you. One could binge on crisps and pizzas 8 hours/day after all.

        1. fposte*

          Food was no healthier. It really is just skipping breakfast for me. I’m considering trying to throw vegan before 6 into the mix and if I pull that off the food will likely be healthier, as my snack overdoing tends to be a daytime thing.

          But if part of the effect was to make you eat healthier, that’s a double win!

    3. Susie*

      I didn’t know much about it when I started and don’t know if I followed a specific plan, but I typically ate oatmeal/fruit and drank coffee in the morning then didn’t eat till mid/late afternoon.
      I loved it. I was able to feel full with less food and I sustained my energy through the day. It is harder now that I’m at home all day, but I’ve sustained the weight loss. Now I’m just drinking coffee in the mornings and having a very late lunch. Days I had to stay later, I did bring a snack because I definitely noticed my energy lagging at a certain point. That was another benefit-I’m definitely more attuned to my body and how I feel after eating different foods.

    4. Filosofickle*

      I did it most of last year, fasting from 7p to 11a. I started it because I’d heard good things — I was hoping to lose a few pounds or at least keep from gaining and I’d learned that spacing all my meals just a few hours apart really curbed my hunger and made me feel properly full. Then I was good to go all night. But if I spaced my meals out I was always hungry and wanting to snack. So it seemed like a good fit for my body.

      Previously I wasn’t eating during that time anyway, but what had to change to fully fast was eliminating wine at night and cream/sugar in my coffee in the morning. Coffee was the hardest one to shift — the first time I tried I failed completely. But the second go-round it worked and I adjusted to plain coffee. (My partner doesn’t drink so that helped with the wine bit.) I didn’t lose weight but I didn’t gain and considering the pandemic that was likely the difference. I still tend to eat 3 meals though, one being a super small late breakfast (like a piece of toast). It really doesn’t eliminate any meals which is fine with me. It does help me limit snacks though. Having an ironclad rule — absolutely nothing after 7p — was surprisingly effective at keeping me out of the pantry.

      What made me stop was I was having more important morning meetings. I’m fine not eating until later, I’ve never been much of a breakfast eater, but if my brain has to be fully on I need to put something in there. I’m still fasting 7p-9a most of the time now but I’ve gotten more permissive at night and I’m gaining weight now so it’s time to get back on track.

      My partner has picked it up now, but he goes even longer without eating. Personally, I’m worried he’s not eating enough considering he’ll go on 10 mile hikes the next day without having eaten anything and he’s lost a lot of weight. He’s going as much as 20-22 hours fasting. But he says he feels great, it’s his body, and I’m keeping my trap shut for now.

    5. Yellow Warbler*

      I do 8:16, so I only eat between 1200 and 2000. I love it.

      I started IF because online GERD forums recommended it. Reflux is worse if you eat too soon after awakening or too soon before going to bed, so shortening my eating window was necessary. I was already about 70% finished with my weight loss, but wasn’t seeing the GERD improvement I’d hoped for, so I added IF as well.

      I subscribe to the “50 calories or less doesn’t break your fast” belief, because I drink a morning coffee that I refuse to give up.

      It has been magic for me. I want to lose a bit more, though my final weight will probably end up close to the same (goal is lose about 15 pounds of fat and put back about 10-12 pounds of muscle). It has been a godsend near the end of my weight loss, because as a very short woman I was struggling with my TDEE of 1200. It’s so easy to go over that, even without snacking. Taking an entire meal out of the equation is exactly what I needed.

      The combination of weight loss and IF made it possible to drop my PPI, which is such a relief because my doctor was worried about my kidney function from long-term use. Now, as long as I avoid my food triggers, I am mostly reflux-free without medication.

    6. Mx*

      I have done it. The 16:8 version, not the 5:2. I was only eating between 12pm and 8pm. Lost 17 kgs in 7 months (with exercise at least 3 times/week too !), I felt great physically and emotionally. I wasn’t hungry. But I stopped everything with the first lockdown in March, and gained back half of the weight !
      It is good if you keep doing it.

    7. Sometimes*

      I’m a big fan!
      I started to practice 5:2 because I was curious, and I ended up free from my terrible migraines!
      I stopped the fasting during Christmas time, and I got a big one again, so, at this point I’m convinced the diet has an impact (a very positive one!) on my condition.

    8. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I started beginning of November after a medical appointment where I was weighed. Ugh – it was bad and I had been in denial for some time. I am in medically-induced menopause and between that and not being able to really work out before August etc etc and its been some weight packed on in the last year.

      I do every day 17:7 and it has helped clear up the GERD issues I was having from medication in addition to helping me lose 5 lbs before my next monthly weigh in first week of December. I took my foot off the gas a little over the holidays and while I still lost about a half a lb, my indigestion really took off on a few days and I realized just how important the fasting had become to my system. So, back on the wagon for January.

      I do have a cup of coffee in the morning with a splash of milk, then its water until about noon (or later if I can manage it). Eat what I want until 7 then its a hard stop, regardless of when I started eating. Like tonight I just finished dinner at 705pm. I had notions of having a small square of dark chocolate but nope, its after 7. Once you get in the hang of it, though, you dont really feel deprived, since you know you can have it tomorrow. I guarantee you I will have forgotten all about it by then! :)

    9. anonforthis*

      I’ve always done it because weirdly it’s just how I eat. I don’t get hungry until 1-2pm, eat a brunch like meal (I love eggs, so egg wraps or bagel sandwiches are a must). I will munch on a snack and have some coffee or tea around 4pm, and have dinner right after work around 6-7.

      1. ....*

        Same, although it’s more like 11-9 that I eat during so not as short or strict. It’s not a rule but I barely ever eat before noon and have dinner somewhere between 7-9. Midnight snacks were just giving me acid reflux and making me chubby.

      2. KoiFeeder*

        Oh, same hat. fposte above mentioned that it’s good for crohns, so it might be because IF is good for my autoimmune gastrointestinal nonsense too.

        (Weight isn’t a concern for me, but that’s got nothing to do with my diet and everything to do with my broken intestines.)

    10. Theodoric of York*

      Like many other commenters, I only eat between noon and 8pm. I find it’s easier to maintain these boundaries than counting calories or grams of fat.

    11. Pam*

      I just started- just finished the first week. I’m doing 15:9. It’s helping me resist the late-night eating urge.

    12. Runaway Shinobi*

      I’ve been doing 5:2 for about six years, and it’s a way of life. I now feel blah if I don’t do it. We just have one 400-calorie meal in the evening. Yes, you get hungry but that’s not the worst thing in the world! It’s only for a few hours.

    13. bluemasonjar*

      16:8 works the best for me. I started in Dec 2019 and have done it for over a year now. It really accelerated my weight-loss (25 lbs along with working out 4-5x a week! If you can get past the hunger pangs of the first 2-3 weeks, it will be super easy after that :)

  40. Penguin*

    Does anyone know of indigenous grocers (in North America) who do mail delivery? Preferably (but not exclusively!) folks on the eastern side of the continent?

    1. fposte*

      I think the logistics of grocery shipping are such that a business has to be pretty large to pull it off, so you would likely have heard of such a company. You might have better luck with specialized foods, especially shelf-stable ones. I found a cool list of native-owned food businesses like that and I’ll put the link in followup.

    2. udon the day away*

      First Fish is a non-profit in Toronto that allow people in the city to shop online and buy arctic char and turbot from Inuit fisherfolk in Nunavut. They also sell at shops and farmers markets in the city.

  41. Crowley*

    Last weekend I posted about the wardrobes from hell that needed to be out of my bedroom, and then I cried and cried because I felt so stupid that I couldn’t get rid of them. Thanks to everyone who replied, I just went back and saw some other people had left comments after I stopped reading, all the comments really helped and I really appreciate them <3

    This is just to say that the wardrobes are finally out of my space and my bedroom feels SO MUCH BIGGER and a completely different shape and although all my shit is still everywhere and I still need to book the council to collect them, I feel so very much better. Thanks everyone, if I'd known all it would take would be £30 and a minor breakdown I would have done this nearly 3 years ago ;)

    1. Teapot Translator*

      Hey, sometimes we just need to share with strangers on the Internet to give us that final tiny push.
      And the fear of that minor breakdown is one reason that I haven’t done some stuff. :(

      1. Crowley*

        I would personally say getting it off your back is worth the minor breakdown!

        Honestly this community is just fabulous. I don’t know where I’d be without you all <3

    2. AGD*

      I had a very similar experience with a desk that someone else bought at a garage sale. I was about ready to freak out, because I couldn’t even lift it properly on my own. I finally paid a tall athletic guy to haul it out of there for me, and things got so much better after that.

    3. allathian*

      I’m glad it worked out, but just out of curiosity, where do you keep your clothes now that you no longer have the wardrobes?

      1. Crowley*

        One of my friends is bringing over a clothes rail today to tide me over until I can order a wardrobe and chest of drawers. Until then they’re all in bags, but that’s just a temporary measure! I’m not ideologically opposed to wardrobes in general, just those ones, haha.

        1. allathian*

          I hear you. I couldn’t live with just a wardrobe, a chest of drawers is essential. Ours are from IKEA, though. :)

  42. OTGW*

    Hi! So me and the SO are looking to buy a condo. This is the first time we’re doing something like this (we still live with out parents). I know there’s a lot of q’s about moving and stuff in past threads, but I’m wondering what financial info you’d wish you’d known when you first bought a place? Ie, should you have focused more on the monthly mortgage payment over the full price? If you had someone with you, were both your names on the mortgage or no and did that affect anything? Or whatever. Thanks for any help!

    (Also I’m about to head to work so apologies that I will not be able to reply.)

    1. Lifelong student*

      The most basic thing we learned when we first bought our home was that the monthly mortgage payment as given to us was only for the actual mortgage. It did not include the taxes and insurance which were required to be included in the the monthly mortgage payment. While those amounts should have been included in our actual decision on buying, because they would have been due in any case- it did affect our monthly cash flow. Real estate taxes are easy to determine and are not negotiable- but insurance is something one can shop around for.

      1. Your Local Cdn*

        Yep agreed – and for a condo specifically make sure to look at condo fees + ask about planned increases and special assessments. E.g. I bought a low priced condo but my condo fees is 50% of my monthly mortgage payment and you need to factor that into planning.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I … would think very very hard about purchasing real estate as a joint commitment/investment with an unmarried partner that I wasn’t already long-term cohabitating with, to be honest. And by “think very very hard” I mean I wouldn’t do it under any circumstances, because I’ve seen too many relationships fall apart after moving in together to risk it happening when there’s also literal thousands of dollars on the line.

      1. Grim*

        2nd this post. Very difficult to separate when one want to stay and one wants to sell after a breakup.

        I should know as I watch Judge Judy and these types of cases come before here and are usually dismissed without resolution.

      2. ThatGirl*

        Yeah, I’d recommend renting a place together for a year to make sure you actually want to live together!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Bingo. And beyond general lifestyle compatibility – for example, my husband used to be a “my friends are always welcome to come over whenever, I don’t even lock the door” type, while I pretty much wouldn’t answer the door to my mother if she didn’t call first and get my specific permission to come over and my front door locks itself automatically after two minutes, so that was an adjustment for him – you want to make sure your views on spending and saving money are compatible, and your views on housework chores are compatible – who does what, when, and to what level. Conversations are a good start, but not as useful as actually walking the walk for a while to see how it works out in practice. Finding out that someone doesn’t feel the need to see that the bills are paid on time or expects you to do all the cooking and cleaning because O’Lastname men don’t do housework, after you’ve signed a five or six digit financial commitment with them, is super awkward. (Super glad I never bought anything jointly with Mr O’Lastname. :-P )

      3. A313*

        Third this post. Marriage, in the legal sense, provides protections for both of you that cohabiting does not. (And even marriage can be messy to get out of.) Rent together first to get a view of how you each live and experience daily life. There can be both happy and annoying (or even deal-breaker) surprises when experiencing someone else on this level.

      4. Filosofickle*

        I would think hard as well, with less of a hard line about not doing it. There’s an org out of Seattle, I think, called CoBuy that has resources for navigating this and thinking through all the decisions that will be required for non-married folks to own, like how you’ll make repair decisions and what the ownership looks like if you put unequal amounts in. Get good contracts! Head off future problems with extensive discussions.

        My partner and I will probably face this at some point. We’ve lived together for 3 years and probably wont’ marry unless it’s to simplify stuff like this. I plan to buy soon but it’s going to be only me at this point — I’m the one with the money and I’m not comfortable with dual ownership for a few more years. I’m protecting my future. But we’re having really good conversations about we’ll pay for things and how it can eventually become his place, too, to protect HIS future.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I wouldn’t warn you against it anywhere near as emphatically since you’ve lived together for multiple years already :) I was in your shoes – my now-husband and I cohabitated for a couple years before I bought my house as a solo owner. (But he specifically doesn’t want ownership stake in my house, so our negotiations were slightly different.)

        2. allathian*

          Yeah, my sister and her ex rented for a year and then bought an apartment in a condo. They were engaged but they never married. In the end they broke up because she’s adamantly childfree and at some point he decided he wanted kids. But as long as they cohabited, my sister always said that having a joint mortgage was just as big a commitment as a marriage certificate. When they broke up, my sister had to get a new mortgage to pay him off because she wanted to stay in the apartment, but as far as I know, getting the new mortgage went very smoothly. It helped that she was in a stable government job.

      5. allathian*

        Rent together first before getting a mortgage. No matter how much you think you love someone, you don’t know if you’re able to live with that person in the long term until you actually do it.

      6. Clisby*

        Hard agree. Also, understand the difference between having your name on the mortgage (you are financially responsible for paying) and having your name on the title (you have at least partial ownership).

    3. Rick T*

      – Don’t buy at your mortgage approval limit so you can still have some cushion in your monthly payments.
      – Add a bit of extra principal payment each month if you can to accelerate your growth in equity.
      – Don’t forget to include condo association dues in your budget.
      – Escrow payments to account for property taxes and homeowners insurance may be convenient but they get free use of your money over the year, if you have enough equity in the property close the escrow account and pay directly. I am a bit OCD about bills so our two property tax payments are scheduled for electronic payment by my bank the week the annual bill comes in the mail.
      – See if you can get homeowners insurance from your car insurance company. We have USAA and pay monthly for all our policies, no big bill once a year for homeowners and every 6 months for car insurance.
      – Put aside some extra money for your own emergency fund every month. You can’t call the landlord to get the water heater replaced! Also, the association may do a special assessment for major items.
      – We are married so both our names on the mortgage was a given.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hard agree with this especially the part about not buying at your mortgage limit. I’d go around 66% of what they tell you. But I am conservative. Remember the mortgage place wants to sell you a mortgage and it’s the highest mortgage they can legally get away with. If my husband and I had went with what they said, we’d have lost the house a long time ago.
        Use in mortgage calc online. Plug in the monthly payment (I used our current rent); the term (I went with 30 years or 360 months) and the interest rate (I high balled that rate). Then solve for loan amount. I came up with a number much, much lower than the mortgage appraiser and we used that number instead of his. Because of the escrow account our mortgage payment was about 200 dollars higher than the paper work said it would be.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I had a very different experience in that my lender was very conservative in what they were willing to count as my income compared to what I considered my income to be and I ended up having to get a parent to co-sign as a result. I went with a credit union that keeps their mortgages in-house rather than a mortgage place that re-sells mortgages to investors, though, so they were probably a lot more conservative as a result since they’d be keeping the risk in-house rather than selling it on. (I used to work in foreclosure for a large bank, and it convinced me that I definitely did not want to deal with having a mortgage through a large bank. I’d also heard several unpleasant stories about people having to deal with new servicers with terrible customer service when their loans got resold.) In my particular case, because 25% of my job was marked as “temporary” on my pay stub, they would not count that money toward my income even though I could show two years of that level of income with that same “temporary” 25% on it. They also wouldn’t count any money that came from a stipend or other special line rather than base salary even though I could show the amount was consistent over a multi-year period.

          If possible, getting a loan through a credit union that services their loans in-house rather than through a mortgage broker that resells them is something to consider since you’ll probably get better customer service over the life of your loan that way. My credit union has very good customer service in general and I’d been with them for a long time before buying a house (I originally opened a savings account with them as a teenager, and added a checking account when I went to college), so in my case it was a particularly simple decision, but it’s something to think about even if you’re not with a credit union now. Not all credit unions do home loans, though.

          One other financial thing with home loans: you will probably have the option to buy “points” to lower your interest rate. Basically, you can pay more money up front to buy down the interest rate slightly. Whether or not this is a good idea depends both on whether you have the cash to pay the points and how long you plan to stay in the place (without refinancing). There will be a “break even” point, which the person selling you the mortgage should be willing to calculate for you (or you can learn how to calculate it yourself) of how many years you’d need to stay in the home before it’d be a better deal to buy the points. Think about how long you see yourself staying in this condo, and also on whether or not you’re likely to want to refinance later (possible reasons why: expecting to make more money later and thus be able to afford a 15 year mortgage rather than a 30 year mortgage 5 years from now, believing that interest rates are likely to go down in a few years, expecting to buy the other person out of their half of the loan) to guide that decision.

          It’s possible you will also be offered a choice between a fixed rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage. The adjustable rate will almost certainly have a lower interest rate and look “cheaper”, but the rate will change over the life of the loan. Interest rates are really low right now, but if they go up so will an adjustable rate mortgage. Look at the terms carefully and game out the worst case scenario (if rates rise as much as allowed by the contract terms – it’ll include both how much they can raise the rates by at a time and how often they can raise them, as well as what that rate is indexed to) to see what your payments would be like. I am a risk-averse person who likes predictable fixed costs, so I was not willing to consider adjustable-rate mortgages myself. If you feel differently, DEFINITELY do your research thoroughly first!

          If you have a choice between several different cities/towns/taxing districts, you will also want to understand how taxes vary between them and how those taxes are likely to go up or down with time. Some communities will pretty much always vote in favor school/park/library/etc. special assessments, and others tend to vote them down most/all of the time. This can have a pretty big impact on tax rates, which in turn changes how much it costs to live somewhere. (It also impacts how good those services are – I’m happy to live somewhere that’s willing to pay more for good libraries!) If utilities aren’t included in HOA fees, you’ll also want to get a sense of those for each place. For example, my current town includes a street maintenance fee on the water bill rather than through regular taxes for some local political reason or other (it was like that when I moved here, and I lack interest in reading old meeting minutes or newspaper articles to find out why we do it that way), which makes for higher water bills than otherwise.

          Condo-specific stuff: I’m a little fuzzier on this because I chose not to look at condos myself, so this is what I heard from other people when they were condo-shopping. There is some lending rule about what percentage of a condo complex can be rentals, and if the complex goes over that it becomes very difficult to get a mortgage. You will want to know if the condo rules prevent people from renting out their units, and if not how close the complex is running to that percentage now. It can make it quite difficult to sell your unit later if the complex goes over that percentage and you need to find an all-cash buyer. This can also make it difficult if you decide to move later and would like to rent out your unit rather than sell it since you may not be allowed to rent it out.

          This isn’t a financial point, but take a look at the parking situation. How hard will it be for you to park your own car(s)? How hard will it be to have friends over if they need to park? What about if you have a group of people over for a party?

          1. Batgirl*

            Oh my goodness yes to your last paragraph. If I’d considered parking when I bought my first place I would never have had to move. People get so bizarrely ragey about it too.

        2. Jackalope*

          That’s…. very discouraging. We are in an area where prices are shooting up, so the top of our limit is just barely enough to buy something. And it’s probably going to keep getting worse. We don’t want that sort of debt, but it’s the only way we will ever be able to buy (moving to another area is not a great idea for various reasons, including the jobs piece).

    4. Filosofickle*

      I used to be the owner & HOA president of a small condo building. I would never buy in a small community again, assessments had to be absorbed by too few people and it was impossible to raise more money fast.

      Beyond asking what’s coming up, I’d ask for copies of their meeting minutes and budgets. Look for what work they’ve done, what they’ve deferred, what the maintenance schedule shows. If any major repairs have been done lately — what else might that tell you about systemic problems that could still be lurking? Look HARD at the financials. If they needed a new roof, is the money there? Is there strong participation and record of owner payments? Is there good professional management?

      Know that legally they only have to disclose what they know, and you can “not know” and “not learn” a whole lot. For example, we knew about one problem area and repaired it, but were careful never to inspect the other areas — they probably had the same problem but as long as we never looked under those boards we didn’t “know”. The buyer needs to read between the lines and ask very good follow-up questions to get answers.

      Also, my last bit of advice is that condo inspections (at least here, in California) are studs-in, meaning only the inside of your unit. No one will look at the overall structure unless you pay extra for that. I’d get that looked at.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Also, find out how the Board treats non paying owners. Owners who refuse to pay monthly fees and assessments can be a huge detriment to a building ,and not all Boards have the moxy to go after them. My associate is currently dealing with a non paying owners and we have filed $12k in collections against him in the last year.

        Several years ago prior to my purchase in the building there was a non paying owner who sold and got away with not paying more than $10k because the then Board wasn’t willing to pursue the situation. Surprise, surprise, the building also had a history of financial issues.

    5. Anona*

      Closing costs can be expensive. I remember them being several thousand dollars.

      A 20% down payment is nice, but often people don’t have it. If you don’t have it you may have to pay something called private mortgage insurance (PMI) until you have paid 20% of the value of your home; this is different from regular home insurance. I believe you often have to request to have PMI removed, and it depends on your contract with your lender as to whether they’ll remove it early or not (like if you paid 20% earlier than the scheduled payments by making extra payments).
      Our contract did allow early removal; our house value went up, and we had our house reappraised (had to be done by an appraiser selected by our lender). We did that twice; the first time, the house value didn’t come in high enough, the second time it did. Each appraisal was about $500; it us about $200/mo to have the PMI removed.

      Some mortgages with less than a 20% down payment don’t require PMI, but often the interest rates are higher.

      1. Anona*

        And this all has to do with buying a house.

        I know condo stuff can be very different. I think my friend had to put up a higher down payment when she bought her condo.

        In addition to all that has been mentioned about condos, look at the rules of the HOA. When my husband rented a condo, there were some crazy rules. Like if he had visitors, he could only get 2 visitor parking passes a month for 2 days each or something. It made hosting friends for poker night a huge pain- we’d have to drop their cars off at a local shopping center.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Yes, read every word of the CC&Rs and decide if you can live with those rules. My parents’ HOA has rules that prohibit leaving garage doors open (ever, even if you’re working in the garage) and requiring all windows be covered with neutral drapes/blinds within 72 hours of moving in. Stuff like that. PITA.

    6. RC Rascal*

      Condo Board President here:

      Be sure and get copies of the budget going back several years as well as information on the building’s reserve account. It the HOA regularly runs behinds on budget or has inadequate reserve, expect you could be assessed for repairs and perhaps by a lot. Be sure and budget that in.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Check to see if the board president (not you I am sure!) insists on heating the outdoor pool through October at the HOA’s expense even if she is the only one using it.

        AKA Among The Things That Turned My Mom Into An Activist.

    7. Anono-me*

      If I was buying a condo or townhouse again, here is what I would do:

      -Find out how much is in the Reserves/Emergency fund.
      -Read the rules and bylaws, the minutes, the budget, and the outside financial audits. (If they haven’t had any outside audits. the past few years, I’d run.)
      -Find out what their big ticket maintenance plan and budget is. (For example, this year, chip seal the private roads, The year after that replace the soffits