weekend open thread – July 3-4, 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: The Killings at Badger’s Drift, by Caroline Graham. A detective in a small British village must solve the murder of a kindly 80-year-old woman who saw something she shouldn’t have. This is cozy and delightful, like if Barbara Pym wrote a murder mystery.

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

{ 1,249 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Some reminders of the commenting rules for these weekend threads:

    • The weekend open threads are for relatively light discussion.

    • We cannot give medical advice here. (Please don’t ask for it!)

    • Comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are also fine. But I ask that people not post “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts.

    I’ve removed a few below that don’t follow these rules. (If I removed yours, sorry! But these rules keep things in the realm of what I can moderate on weekends.)

  2. RagingADHD*

    It took me a minute of wondering why the title sounded so familiar, till I realized this series is the original source material for Midsomer Murders.

      1. RagingADHD*

        And considering the amount of people who have knowingly or unknowingly procreated with their siblings and parents, a surprising lack of genetic consequences. One would expect the county to be entirely populated by haemophiliacs with webbed toes at this point.

      2. Anonariffic*

        There’s an excellent article to this effect called “YOUR GUIDE TO NOT GETTING MURDERED IN A QUAINT ENGLISH VILLAGE” on Crimereads dot com

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I lost it at “If the historian tries to show you something, you punch them right in their dumb research-loving face and flee.”

        2. identifying remarks removed*

          Lol – applicable to Miss Marple mysteries or episodes of Father Brown I’ve been watching recently.

    1. Wishing You Well*

      With 22 seasons of Midsomer Murders and often multiple murders in an episode, I’m surprised anyone still lives in that fictional area! The survivors would’ve all hitchhiked to the safer streets of back-alley London!

    2. Clisby*

      I tried to check this book out of my county library, only to get a message saying the book was so damaged they could lend it out any more. ??? Maybe I should buy a copy. The first episode of Midsomer Murders is based on this book.

      1. Clisby*

        One of the weird things about this (first) episode of Midsomer Murders, is that two of the main characters , who both get killed, appear in a later episode playing relatives. That is, the actors playing those 2 characters (Iris Rainbird, and her son Dennis) appear in a different episode.

        1. Identifying remarks removed*

          I’ve been watching Murder, she wrote on Hallmark and it’s funny how many actors reappear across the series as different characters.

          1. Clisby*

            My husband and I have been re-watching the entire series of Columbo, and the same thing happens there.

            1. Pool Lounger*

              Original Law & Order too. Jerry Orbach plays a defense lawyer in an early season ep!

              1. identifying remarks removed*

                There was an interesting documentary – The Paley Center Presents Law & Order: Before They Were Stars. Mentioned how a lot of now famous broadway actors appeared on the show and the production was flexible about working around the timing of their stage commitments.

        2. Onthetrain*

          Those two are an extreme case because they play relatives of their original characters, but there are _loads_ of actors who have been in MM twice (or more!)

          Perhaps everyone having a doppleganger in Midsomer is the consequence of inbred genetics?

    3. Nessun*

      The book is not the same as the show, imho. Both very good, but I wasnt quite prepared for the sexuality in the book, which is odd given the show I know. I also prefer Troy in the show, but YMMV.

      1. allathian*

        I have one book in this series, not the first one, though. But I had a really hard time finishing it, because Troy was so unpleasant in the book.

    4. SnappinTerrapin*

      The Chief Inspectors Barnaby handled more murder cases than Marshal Matt Dillon.

    5. ProducerNYC*

      Yes! I am a devoted fan of MM- will watch them whenever they’re on (PBS, Netflix, Acorn, etc). Badger’s Drift was quite the start, and I enjoy them greatly.

  3. MangoTango*

    Favorite potato salad recipe? I love a good potato salad – mayo based, vinaigrette or other. Anyone have a really good one to share this 4th of July weekend?

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s my favorite kind :) I also sometimes mix bacon crumbles into it.

        1. Liane*

          I need to try this. Husband makes perfect hardboiled eggs that I can devil. Wonder if my dad’s apple addition (just posted below) would work with this.

    1. Virginia Plain*

      For me, potato salad is very very simple. Baby new potatoes (the kind you don’t have to peel), snipped chives, and salad cream. I’m not sure if there’s a US version of this although it’s made by Heinz which I believe is a US company – it’s a creamy coloured egg-based salad dressing/sauce with similar texture to ketchup but a tangy taste from vinegar. Maybe you could approximate it with mayonnaise with a little white wine or cider vinegar mixed in.
      Google informs me the US equivalent is Miracle Whip but that looks thicker and judging by the ingredients (high fructose corn syrup) is probably quite a bit sweeter (salad cream does have some sugar though).

      1. not_salad*

        I have a recipe that mixes half mayo, half sour cream, then another part mustard plus white vinegar.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Sounds like it would be wonderful wtih the lovely baby potatoes I had in Denmark!

    2. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      Jamie Oliver’s one from Jamie’s Dinners called ‘Smoked Trout, Horseradish and New Potato Salad’.

      Most potato salad recipes are too heavy and creamy for me, but this one is satisfying while still being light, fresh and enjoyable on a hot day.

      1. Angstrom*

        I make one with olive oil, tinned smoked herring, garlic and capers. No mayo. I like the flavor contrasts.

        As one food writer suggested, if you think “salad of potatos” instead of “potato salad” it opens your mind to more possibilities.

    3. Buni*

      Caramelised shallots, roasted red/orange/yellow peppers and more mayo than you thought humanly possible.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      For a different twist, I’ve made one with homemade basil pesto and lemon plus whatever other veggies are on hand like peas.

    5. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Allison Robicelli at The Takeout suggests making it with gnocchi. Link in reply. Looks intriguing! I think I’ll try it sometime this summer.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I was going to cite the gnocchi-potato-salad recipe too! I’m iffy about gnocchi myself – some of the gnocchi I’ve had is just too dense and pasty for my taste, while other versions have been delightful – but I wanted to try the German potato-salad version, and offer it to a friend who adores gnocchi in all its forms.

    6. MissB*

      I generally use baby potatoes, green onions or chives, pimentos if I have them, hard boiled egg, black olives if I’m feeling them, diced dill pickle and some cubed white cheddar.

      Roughly equal parts sour cream and mayonnaise, some Dijon or stone ground mustard, dried dill, salt and pepper. Mix it up and cover the salad then sprinkle the top with smoked paprika.

      Literally no recipe, just throw it together.

    7. Meh*

      I love a Japanese potato salad made in the instant pot (if you Google that that one I use is at the top) but you boil the potatoes with vinegar and then put them on a sheet pan to cool with another sprinkle of vinegar. It has that slightest tang when complete, a little “hmmm what is that” quality that makes you keep eating

    8. Liane*

      My dad added apples to his & it was amazing.

      *Peel, cut up & boil potatoes until done. Drain.
      *Wash, core and cut up 2 or 3 apples (unpeeled).
      *Mix apples and potatoes in big bowl.
      Mix in mayo and some prepared mustard to taste.
      *Cool thoroughly.

      Sorry there are no amounts but that’s how he cooked. The master carpenter who read complex blueprints, drafted his own building plans, and routinely measured down to 1/16th inch, insisted he “couldn’t understand” recipes. (Sound FX: my eyes rolling)

    9. BRR*

      Kenji’s on serious eats. There’s also a corresponding article that gives you the reasons the recipe works.

    10. Not A Manager*

      My favorite is a Russian salad. There are a million recipes. We don’t put any meat into ours – it’s potatoes, eggs, boiled carrots, chopped pickles, scallions, frozen green peas, mayo and lots of dill. When I make it for a party there are never leftovers.

    11. I take tea*

      This is something I call German Potato Salad, because I learned to do it in Germany.

      Boil potatoes in their skin. While still hot, peel them and dice or slice them. Pour over a mixture of vinegar (here I use the kind that has no taste, that you also can use for cleaning, but you do you) and hot water half and half, seasoned with some salt and maybe black pepper and mix. Add a lot of really thinly sliced cucumber (I use a cheese slicer) and some capers, if you like them. Spring onion/scallion or leek is optional, I usually skip them. Let cool.

      I don’t like the creamy ones, but this is fresh and easy, and keeps for a while in the fridge.

      A version is boil new potatoes and whatever other new greens you like, pour over a tasty vinaigrette (can be any vinaigrette you like here), let cool. Add halved cherry tomatoes, maybe spring onion and feta cheese or some tasty tofu or other similar in cubes. Onions or capers add some saltiness.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Austrian potato and cucumber salads both use a mixture of oil and vinegar. I especially like apple or cider vinegar.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        My German grandmother would have insisted that it’s not German potato salad without bacon. :)

      3. Aurora Leigh*

        Miracle whip, mustard, and pickle juice! Sometimes we sub macaroni for the potatoes for a quicker prep. Salt and pepper to taste. I’m always disappointed when I have someone else’s recipe and it turns out to be full of sugar.

    12. the cat's ass*

      wicked plain-mayo (kewpie is excellent, thinned with a little red wine vinegar), thinly sliced shallots, Yukon Golds, salt, pepper and celery powder.

      Hope everyone has some great time off!

    13. Biel*

      My favourite is my family recipe:

      Waxy potatoes (kipfler or similar). When the potatoes are still hot, mix them with the dressing – which is simply very good quality extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice that have been whipped together. Season liberally with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper at the same time, and mix in a large amount of very finely diced garlic (fresh and not from a jar/tube), and sliced scallions and parsley.

      1. Biel*

        *the potatoes are prepared by boiling them in their skins in salted water. Once cooked, they’re peeled hot ahead of mixing in the dressing.

    14. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Smitten kitchen’s Roseanne Cash’s potato salad. Creamy but not mayonnaised to death and sharp from pickle juice. If you have time to read the comments there are some great modifications as well.

    15. Chaordic One*

      I’m astonished at how much sugar is in so many potato salads and their recipes. The same with a lot of pasta (macaroni) salads. For me, pretty much any recipe without sugar. Of course, they are easy to make it without the sugar and, while it does affect the taste, it is usually for the better without the sugar.

    16. Sleepless*

      Yukon Gold potatoes and a few eggs, boiled and cubed. Mayo, mustard, and celery added while everything is still warm. Topped with paprika because when I was a kid going to Southern Baptist covered dish dinners, the ladies with extra cool points always added paprika to theirs.

      This is the most basic potato salad recipe in the world to me, so I have no idea how I’ve become The Person Who Everyone Asks To Bring Potato Salad to family gatherings. Including my mother, who compliments me on it every time and asks me what’s in it. I make it exactly the way she showed me how to make it 40 or 50 years ago, and she is not having any age-related memory loss. I don’t get it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s my favorite, too, including the paprika on top. Very simple. Although I don’t like actual celery in it so I’ll use celery powder if I make it myself. Maybe a little onion powder, too. (I’m of the firm belief that potato salad and macaroni salad–and tuna, chicken, and egg salads, for that matter–should not crunch. :) ) But I very rarely make my own anyway. I tend to eat it only during the summer at a family picnic or something like that.

    17. Overbooked*

      No-mayo family favorite: potatoes, lightly steamed or blanched green beans, thinly sliced red onion, kalamata olives, flat-leaf parsley, your best vinaigrette. It’s pretty, vegan (if you leave the anchovy out of the dressing, which I don’t), and can stand at room temperature.

      Cover the sliced onion with ice water as the first step, drain and fold in as the last. Keeps it from becoming too pungent. If you use a big bowl you can shock the beans in the same ice water.

    18. Astor*

      I don’t have a particular recipe, but I hate mayo and don’t like most dressings so my favourite is one using (roasted red pepper) hummus as the binder! There’s lots of recipes online that go in different directions, but I tend to just make it for myself out of leftovers so I don’t have a useful recommendation other than the idea itself.

    19. Elle by the sea*

      My favourite is with a little bit of mayo, more kefir, a drop of apple cider vinegar, a drop of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Exquisite, in my (weird) view at least.

    20. Aster*

      for creamy: red potatoes, boiled with the skin on, fresh dill, diced red onions or finely chopped scallions, sour cream or yogurt, salt and pepper to taste…and obviously anything else like bacon that you might want. we never did mayo growing up, so creamy potato salad always had sour cream or yogurt as a base. really thick greek yogurt, like Fage which doesn’t have a tangy taste, is really great.
      I also saw on lifehacker a recipe using shelf stable potato gnocchi instead of potatoes! blew my mind! https://thetakeout.com/easy-german-potato-salad-recipe-with-gnocchi-1847175942

    21. LPUK*

      My Mum’s recipes – incredibly simple but always a great hit events…mayonnaise plus enough tomato puree to turn it pale pink. Tossed into hot baby potatoes, well seasoned with chopped mint and as an option, chopped boiled egg. We use a only a little dressing – enough to coat the potatoes but not to hang around in the bowl, and it really is best while the potatoes are still warm in my opinion.

  4. Aphrodite*

    Alison, that is the cutest picture yet! How funny and wonderful to see all of them enjoying that toy. I wonder how they’d like the flopping fish. Did they play with this for long? (Never too old to be a kitten, I guess.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They love this. I think they’d play with it for hours if we didn’t turn it off after a while. (They did not like the flopping fish at all though! It was … a flop. I will see myself out.)

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Oh that it just absolutely adorable! What a gorgeous picture too. They look like they’re settling in for a seance. ❤️

        1. Amity*

          I was just about to say that. Watch out Alison, I think you may have a cat coven in your house!

      2. Cat question*

        How many cats do you have Alison? I didn’t realize you had so many. [Not that it’s a bad thing. I currently live in a 500 square foot single window studio so pets aren’t an option right now].

          1. Windchime*

            I believe you are Exhibit A example of “Foster Failure”. Not that I would do any better. (By the way, “fostering” is how my daughter-in-law sneaks new pets into the house. She works in animal control and has brought home 3 dogs over the years. Initially as “fosters”, because she knows that she can get her husband to fall in love with them and then they get to stay.)

      3. Voluptuousfire*

        I have the same toy (different brand) and my cat loves it. I used it this morning when she wanted to play and I wasn’t in mood to play fetch. Put this on and she was happily engaged for 45 minutes.

        It’s like putting on a Disney movie for a toddler.

        1. Jenny20*

          We have this toy too and our cat also loves it. She is a bit too slow (or the toy moves a bit too fast) to be fully satisfied from playing with it, but it’s still one of her favourites.
          It definitely does not stop scratching… But it does help her expend energy when she has ants in her pants!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It is this.

        It has decidedly mixed reviews but all six of our cats wholeheartedly recommend it. We have some other motorized toys that they tend to lose interest in but so far not this one.

        1. Jean Pargetter Hardcastle*

          Does it indeed “stop clawing and scratching” as promised? Because that is a feature I (and my favorite chair) could really use.

          1. alas rainy again*

            I wholeheartedly recommend double-faced tape to preserve surfaces from cat claws. Works a charm on rattan furniture and velvet sofas. I can’t vouch for esthetics, but cats 100% hate icky surfaces.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Bad reviews of the toy tend to be from enthusiastic cats as it isn’t very durable. Bigger cats who like to grab and kick are better off with a catnip kickstick. For the average cat who likes to bat at things a bit, it works well.

    2. Generic Name*

      I agree, hilarious picture! My son loves picking out “high tech” toys for the cats. He goes straight to anything with batteries and is outlandishly expensive. Sadly, our cats don’t appreciate the fancy toys like yours do.

  5. Annie the second*

    My SO and I are in our mid 30s and at some point in the last couple years we’ve made the transition from throwing big “the more the merrier” parties to wanting to socialize with smaller groups when we invite people over. We have one friend who does not seem to have made this transition with us and who keeps coming over with plus-1s (sometimes plus-2s) when we invite him to dinner / drinks / etc at our home. We can’t really say ‘we’re looking forward to catching up with you one on one’ because these are usually small groups of friends. Sometimes his guests are people we know, sometimes it’s not. It’s even harder when it’s people we know because I can’t find a good way to tell him ‘we want to see you but not this other person we know even though we don’t dislike him.’ Sometimes it’s a been a big issue like when we have to scramble at the last minute to feed an extra person at a sit-down dinner, other times it’s easy to accommodate but I’m annoyed on principle because we should be able to decide who we’re inviting into our house. I think we probably haven’t been direct enough but he’s a sensitive guy and I want to find a way to say it that doesn’t leave him feeling bad. Advice?

    1. RagingADHD*

      He hasn’t “made the transition” because you keep putting up with it. Why should he bother, since you are more than willkng to do the work of accommodating his buddies?

      The next time you issue an invitation, just say, “Please don’t bring anyone else along. Our guest list is set.”

      If he ignores that, stop inviting him. He’s not clueless at that point, he’s just being a jerk.

    2. PollyQ*

      I think you can use the “small group” to your favor, e.g., “We’re keeping this gathering small, so please don’t bring anyone along.” And yeah, for a lot of people that would be a little blunt, but really, Friend should have noticed by now that he’s walking into a house that has a table set for a certain number of people, and that you’ve had to scramble to deal with his extra guests. The first time that happened should have been a trigger that he should quit bringing along +1s. (2 is right out!) If you say it matter-of-factly, his feelings shouldn’t be too hurt, but even if they are, your feelings count too. Why is it that “sensitive” people are so often only sensitive to their own feelings, and not sensitive to the effect of their actions on others?

      1. Princess Deviant*

        Why is it that “sensitive” people are so often only sensitive to their own feelings, and not sensitive to the effect of their actions on others?

        Yes, this should go both ways!

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Seriously! If you don’t notice your host scrambling to get the spare chairs out of the garage and cutting 1/6 off everyone’s beef wellington to feed your tagalongs, then it’s not an issue of sensitivity – it’s an issue of entitlement.

          1. Ana*

            I would have been so embarrassed as that plus one! I would never have come again without a direct invitation from the host!

          2. Observer*

            If you don’t notice your host scrambling to get the spare chairs out of the garage and cutting 1/6 off everyone’s beef wellington to feed your tagalongs, then it’s not an issue of sensitivity – it’s an issue of entitlement

            Or obliviousness. Especially if the host pulls if off well.

            Which is why I’m for ONE conversation – a SHORT conversation where the OP lays it out.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Because focusing entirely on yourself and your own feelings makes you hyperaware of any possible slight or criticism. And
          being genuinely interested in and empathetic toward others makes you more resilient in your own emotional life.

        3. ampersand*

          Yes! This is so true and a great reminder that we shouldn’t have to tiptoe around other people’s feelings.

      2. Workerbee*

        Your last sentence is what I was thinking!

        Also, your phrasing up top wasn’t blunt at all. It was an instruction, same as people receive for other areas in their life (assuming the sensitive guy went to school, has a job, etc.).

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Yes. Most people, the second time they show up with two more people and no one else brought extras and a hunt for chairs has started while the hostess considers the lamb chop situation: They feel embarrassed and resolve not to repeat this behavior, and lo do the negative emotions do their work of guiding you toward behaviors where you don’t feel them.

        He’s ignored the cues and so needs a blunt explanation. Needn’t be unkind–your tone can be upbeat and cheerful as you say “We’re keeping this small, so please don’t bring anyone else.”

        1. Pennyworth*

          He is also offloading his entertaining by expecting someone else to provide dinner for his friends, repeatedly.

    3. Barbara Eyiuche*

      I would spell it out for him. The next time you invite him, tell him it is a small dinner party so you are just inviting him and a set number of others, and to please not bring anyone else. He may be thinking that an invitation includes a plus one.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      “I know we used to do bigger anything-goes type parties but we’ve found we really prefer having a pre-determined guest list so we can focus on catching up with just the people we’ve invited. Thanks for understanding!”

      But honestly, I would probably just stop inviting him to events where “bonus” guests are a problem (even if this means never inviting him at all)

    5. Princess Deviant*

      “It’s just a small gathering with a set number of people so please don’t bring anyone else”.

    6. Virginia Plain*

      Who does this? Who brings an extra person to a dinner party or even a bigger party without at least checking it’s ok? Well evidently Annie’s annoying friend but still. Even when I was in my twenties and all parties were just massive free-for-all’s, there would still be a conversation like, “oh my friend’s staying over that weekend, is it ok if I bring her along?” “Oh yes of course.”
      Anyway.
      I think it would be quite easy to be clear when inviting by indicating who else is attending – “it’ll be great to see you; Tangerina and Bob are coming too, and my friend Wakeena from work, so we’ll be six.”
      And as someone says above, he keeps doing it because you let him get away with it. If he brings someone and it’s awkward for you to rearrange, don’t hide it or cover for him because he caused it. I’m not saying be passive aggressive but if you genuinely need to set another place at the table, ask your spouse to please fetch the office chair downstairs and put it at the table, or pop next door to ask to borrow a food or drink item to make dinner go further, then do it. I’m not saying he should be shamed or feel mortified, but he does need to feel a tiny bit embarrassed to teach him that what he’s doing is impolite and inconveniences you. I feel like an adult should know that already but maybe I am a bit old fashioned!

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        It is a cultural thing. For my partner from the Middle East, if someone turns up at your place as you’re about to go out, even if they’re making a surprise visit, you either cancel your plans to be hospitable to them, or you take them with you.
        It comes from the times when water was scarce: someone who needs a glass of water should never be turned down even if they’re your enemy. But now it’s become an total imposition. Of course the women are more likely to be at home, so there’s also the expectation that their time is expendable, they have nowhere important to go, so any jerk who turns up can expect to be entertained.

        I personally don’t mind if one or two extra people are brought along, we always make far too much food anyway… although thinking back, there have been several extras that I’ve wanted to throttle, like the one who brought a half-consumed bottle of wine and was clearly already drunk on arrival: she broke a cup, laughed and walked past me with a dismissive gesture as I handed her the dustpan and brush, called us bohemians and claimed to be bourgeois then proceeded to throw her paper napkin over her shoulder.

        1. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

          I didn’t know Satan was inviting themselves to dinner parties…

        2. Observer*

          It is a cultural thing. For my partner from the Middle East, if someone turns up at your place as you’re about to go out, even if they’re making a surprise visit, you either cancel your plans to be hospitable to them, or you take them with you.

          I’d have to say that this is an EXTREMELY unlikely explanation of what’s going on. For one thing, what are the odds that this is happening EVERY TIME HE HAS A PARTY at the OP’s place. For another, in the (not so common) cases where something like that happens, you either CANCEL YOUR PLANS or you APOLOGIZE and explain the situation. That’s not what’s happening here.

          I personally don’t mind if one or two extra people are brought along, we always make far too much food anyway

          Which is nice, but not relevant. The OP is clearly making events where that’s not the case. And to be honest, they also to have a right to decide who they invite into their home or not. And the OP should not need to explain this to anyone.

          although thinking back, there have been several extras that I’ve wanted to throttle,

          Which goes back to the idea that YOU get to decide who visits you, not an acquaintance – especially not one who has shown themselves cavalier about your hosting.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I had a friend who did this ALL THE TIME. Even after I asked her not to. She was massively self-centered. We’re no longer friends.

      3. Observer*

        If he brings someone and it’s awkward for you to rearrange, don’t hide it or cover for him because he caused it. I’m not saying be passive aggressive but if you genuinely need to set another place at the table, ask your spouse to please fetch the office chair downstairs and put it at the table, or pop next door to ask to borrow a food or drink item to make dinner go further, then do it. I’m not saying he should be shamed or feel mortified, but he does need to feel a tiny bit embarrassed to teach him that what he’s doing is impolite and inconveniences you.

        What you are proposing IS passive aggressive, even though you say that that’s not what you are proposing. And to be honest, it’s far from a slam dunk that trying to embarrass the guy is going to work. On the other hand, you are almost certainly going to embarrass the guest who may have had no idea that they were not supposed to show up. That’s not something to do deliberately.

    7. Asenath*

      I think you’re going to have to be a bit more direct – someone who has, more than once, not noticed that bringing an unannounced extra guest to a sit-down dinner is not going to take a hint. Say specifically “This is a sit-down dinner, and I can’t seat any additional people so please don’t bring an extra guest.” Or even “Please ask me if you want to bring along a friend because I’m only planning enough food for the people I’ve invited.”, “or Please don’t bring along…..”. Really, someone who doesn’t realize you don’t bring along extra people to any social event that isn’t a “Come one Come all” informal barbecue or something similar is going to need clear instructions.

    8. Green great dragon*

      If you don’t make any reference to previous invitations, I don’t see why he should feel bad since he’s apparently oblivious to the others being unwelcome. Clarify in the invitation – ‘we’re keeping numbers limited so this one’s just for you please’.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not gonna lie, if people show up at my house with guests that I didn’t invite, I don’t let any of them in. My brain weasels have very specific requirements for me about hosting obligations, so as a result, I’m very very particular about who crosses my threshold, because I only subject myself to my hosting brain weasels with conscious effort and a lot of planning. This sounds worse than I personally think it actually is – mostly it just means that hosting people is stressful for me, so instead I just suggest to my friends that we hang out at pretty much anywhere that isn’t my house, OR if I’m having people over I plan for it way in advance, and the people that I DO invite to my house know me well enough to know that I do not tolerate uninvited or surprise guests, this is not (or should not) be a surprise to any of them.

      In your shoes, I would probably start with something like “Hey, please don’t invite people to our house – as the hosts, that’s our job, haha.” And then maybe get more serious from there?

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If someone was so obstinately oblivious to how inconsiderate they’ve been to me, I’d stop inviting them to anything at my house, and maybe just see them at a restaurant or movie or something, where it wouldn’t matter who they brought.

    11. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      It sounds like these extras are not his SO or date? I could see if you are inviting someone to a dinner where everyone has a partner but your one single friend, it might be a kindness to let him bring a date. But if he’s treating your dinner parties like a kegger for his bros, just be direct and tell him you’d love him to come but don’t have room for any additional guests.

      1. lapgiraffe*

        But there is something to this, perhaps he’s the only one not coupled up and just wants any kind of partner so as to not feel like “the only one here who can’t get a significant other.” I am in no way condoning the behavior, especially as a dinner party person who legit may only have enough quails for the six expected people (true story), but when I’m trying to figure out how to approach a difficult conversation I always try to figure out what’s driving their decision making.

        If you’re at the age where you’re doing dinner parties with guest lists then you’re probably also at the age where there’s going to be some lone singles in a sea of couples. I’m ok with being this amongst my coupled friends, but another close friend calls me in tears after having to be at (what feels like) a couple thing alone, and would definitely prefer to have an ally sitting with them even amongst her oldest, closest friends. Maybe extending this guy a plus one or inviting a second single friend he would likely bring would help with this.

        1. Observer*

          But there is something to this, perhaps he’s the only one not coupled up and just wants any kind of partner so as to not feel like “the only one here who can’t get a significant other.”

          That would make some sense if he only ever brought ONE person. But he’s brought more than one on occasion.

    12. Annie the second*

      Thanks everyone who responded! There’s some good language in here that I think I can use. I don’t know why I didn’t think to just say ‘we’re keeping this small so please don’t bring anyone except yourself’!

      1. Pennyworth*

        Can I suggest you also prepare a firm ‘no’ if he asks to bring extras? I know a guy who thinks that ask = receive, as in “They wouldn’t let me smoke inside their house even though I asked first.”

      2. lasslisa*

        I’d suggest you also have a conversation about the baseline expectation. “We’ve noticed you often invite additional people to our events. We’d prefer if you don’t do that in the future, please.” (Or, if sometimes you would be cool with it if they had just told you, “don’t do that without checking with us first, please.”

        Otherwise he’s likely to think only this particular event is a no-guests event and that he can expect a heads up any time guests aren’t ok, which isn’t what you want.

        1. another Hero*

          yeah, I agree with this. “we’re keeping this small” will sound like you’re just talking about the one night. some comments above offered other broader approaches and I think it’d be sensible to go that route

    13. Observer*

      I’m annoyed on principle because we should be able to decide who we’re inviting into our house. I think we probably haven’t been direct enough but he’s a sensitive guy and I want to find a way to say it that doesn’t leave him feeling bad. Advice?

      First thing is you need to change your goal. I don’t think there is any way to have him not feel bad. If he’s a decent guy, anything effective you say will make him realize he’s been acting like a bit of a jerk, and that always feels bad to decent people. On the other hand, if he’s too oblivious for that to register, he’s going to feel bad with any boundary you draw. Three is nothing you can do about that.

      Have ONE big picture conversation with him about this where you tell him that you think through your guest list and his bringing people along causes problems – some of them significant. Don’t get into justifying whether the problems are big “enough”. These are problems, and you need him to stop causing them. It could be useful to explain what some of the issues are – but EXPLAIN, do NOT *justify*. So, you explain to him and if he starts arguing that it’s “not a big deal” or something, cut that off and make it clear that you are not ASKING him for approval. This is the situation and that’s what needs to happen going forward.

      Then, when you invite him start reminding him that he can’t just bring a plus one. If he keeps doing that, stop inviting him. Perhaps start with dis-inviting him to the events that cause the most trouble, like a sit down dinner.

      1. Jasmine*

        “It’s a sit-down dinner and all the seats are taken. Don’t bring extra guests!”

        If he doesn’t get that don’t invite him the next time!

  6. Destruida y cansada*

    TW alcoholism.
    I just wanted to update on the situation that I asked for advice about last week. I’ll put my update in the responses so if people want to, they can skip right over.

    1. Destruida y cansada*

      Thanks all for your advice. I haven’t blocked the mother of my ex partner but I basically have not responded to any of her attempts to to get our mutual friend to get me to contact her either. And she has been using my friend to do that (because I ignored her call I guess).
      She’s told my friend to get me to ring her, for example, and – I cannot believe this! – demanded that we arrange the eulogy and the music because she “just couldn’t”. My friend has chosen to write the eulogy, but I haven’t responded to any of this.
      I also asked my friend to stop passing messages on from her.

      I am unfortunately seriously thinking about not attending the funeral. Even though I would love to say goodbye to my ex partner and feel like I have some closure, at the moment I feel like being with his mother would create problems so I will have to see how I feel nearer the time.

      I’m feeling sad, and angry too.
      But I’ve learned that being a Boundary Boss is awesome… And now I can’t stop practising it! I feel grateful that this awful situation led me to an important realisation about the way I interact with others.

      1. WS*

        Is there another way you can say goodbye to them? The funeral doesn’t sound like a good way to do that. I was out of the country when my grandfather died and couldn’t get back in time, so I went to the kind of place he liked (a shallow, pebbly river on a sunny day) and said goodbye to him there.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is a pretty neat idea. When my father passed for a few days afterward, I’d look at the woods off in the distance from my house and “talk” to him. It was easy to picture him enjoying those woods, even though he had never been there IRL.
          OP, the idea does not have to make total sense in order to feel some level of relief. My idea about talking to my father while looking at the forest was not totally logical, yet it really comforted me and made me smile to think of him exploring a new-to-him wooded area.

      2. Querious*

        I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It is entirely reasonable to find your own way to say goodbye and protect yourself from someone who will add to your pain. Go with your gut.

        My LTR with an alcoholic ended recently. He’d been sober for several years but I suspect he’s starting back up. I wonder if his parents would reach out if something happened to him.

      3. Observer*

        I also asked my friend to stop passing messages on from her.

        As bad as the rest is, this really stood out to me. Your friend should not have been passing on these messages to you in the first place. If she doesn’t start respecting that boundary, it may be time to start thinking about the friendship altogether.

        On the other hand, your becoming more in charge of your boundaries may be the thing that puts the friendship on a healthier basis if she realizes that she needs to respect your boundaries now.

    2. Destruida y cansada*

      That’s a lovely idea! And the more I think on it, the more I think it will make sense to do that when the time comes. Thank you all for the clarity x

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        I missed the earlier discussion, but I get the gist.

        I sympathize. Mourning is always bittersweet. There is no reason to add to your pain by being with someone who will hurt you.

        Do what is best for your own healing. Peace and blessings for you.

  7. Kiwiapple*

    This week I read one of those books that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page. I’m sure you know the type.
    It was “Before you knew my name” by Jacqueline Bublitz and obviously I highly recommend it.
    Please share your books that stuck around long after you finished them.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      A book like that for me is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver, with memorable characters and a compelling story. To this day, I’m struck by how much the author conveyed about the main character–telling her story in first person–by what she didn’t include as much as what she did.

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        Almost all of her books! The Bean Trees, The Poison wood Bible. Prodigal Summer grows on me more each time I read it.

        People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks is another one.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The Poisonwood Bible was one of the first books that had this impression on me. It’s been probably twenty years since I last read it and I still think about it sometimes

        2. Kuododi*

          DH was in the Peace Corps (87-89) and was stationed in Liberia. He reported that reading the Poisonwood Bible was too close to his Peace Corps experience with local missionaries and set off his lingering Trauma responses.
          Best regards
          Kuododi

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        I’m right with you, Woodswoman. Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven are also on my “reread often” list.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I loved those two and also the Poisonwood Bible. I think Animal Dreams holds meaning for me partly because it was the first novel of hers that I read.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy.
      It usually takes at least three attempts to get you properly into it. You only properly understand once you get to the last page. I couldn’t stand the fact that it was finished, so I just turned straight back to the beginning to read it a second time. Life is good knowing that I can read it again any time I want.

      1. Blue Eagle*

        This books sounds interesting. I just put it on reserve at my library (where it has a 4.9 out of 5 star rating with 21 rates).

      2. Dusty*

        Shogun was like this for me. At the last page, I turned back and started right over – the reason being, at the last page, I realized the book wasn’t about Richard Chamberlain; it was about Toronaga… Wil try yours now!

    3. Empress Ki*

      The house of Spirits by Isabel Allende.
      The characters are so interesting and it gives you an insight of Chilean culture of the time.

      1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

        ah yes it’s a wonderful novel, very rich, and the characters are all beautifully portrayed, especially the three women, Clara, Blanche and Alba.

        (Forget about the film though. The cast is fantastic, but they stripped the novel down to its bare bones, glossed right over all the anti-capitalist stuff. Blanche’s husband (the poet who sang about worker’s rights in an allegorical song about foxes and hens) is squeezed right out. And all the touches of fantasy were edited right out too.)

        1. SG*

          Oh yes, Eva Luna, that was the best! Her book “Paula” was breathtaking. Sad, but so powerful.

    4. CJM*

      Praise the Human Season by Don Robertson, recommended here by Astoria in February. I love its themes (road trip, random interactions, life review, and mortality), and I think about it often.

      1. Sleepless*

        Yes! I just read it a few months ago and I find myself picking it back up and reading a page or two here and there.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Two recent ones, I think they were recommended here:
      The Ten Thousand Doors of January, by Harrow, about a young girl who finds that she can open doors between worlds. She needs to learn how to control her power, who are those who would seek to control it, and about how this ties into the story of her past.

      Dread Nation and Deathless Divide, by Ireland. I wouldn’t have thought “another zombie story” a selling point, but this breaks lots of new ground and delivers great storytelling. The Civil War gets diverted when the dead on both sides rise and start eating people. Slavery is ended, but black people are still the ones out on the end of the stick to combat the zombies, or to test people’s ideas about zombie defense. And of course there is a revanchist movement of white people who still have money and power, but want to return to the good old days when that felt more secure and of course this whole thing is all the fault of those non-white people anyhow. (I was reading this book on 1/6.) Really gets into the constant calculations made by Jane, who is training as a ladies’ bodyguard, based on the power of everyone in the room. The second book jumps forward in time a few years and catches up on how the main characters have changed and adapted.

    6. heckofabecca*

      The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde changed my life. I first saw it while waiting in line just after midnight in Barnes and Noble for the last Harry Potter book at age 17ish. I read the first chapter of TPoDG while winding through the tables in front of the register. I finished HP7 in 3.5 hours at my friend’s house, and then when I got home in the morning, I told my mom, “I need The Picture of Dorian Gray please!”

      Before reading it, I was quite obstinate about not caring about how I looked. I didn’t want to look like a slob, per se, but I didn’t care what people thought of how I looked so much. After reading it… I reconsidered, and I am a much more aesthetically-driven person today than I was. And I enjoy that! So I might have gotten entirely the wrong message out of the book, but at least now I have art on my walls that I’ve chosen myself. And prettier clothes haha

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Adult: Life of Pi, The Poisonwood Bible, The Handmaid’s Tale
      YA: The Giver, The Book Thief, Code Name Verity

      1. SarahKay*

        Seconding Code Name Verity; I found it absolutely gripping and every so often I find myself thinking about different bits from it.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I’ve re-read it yearly since I discovered it (as an adult, albeit one who reads a lot of YA) because once I’m reminded of it I have to read it again! It feels so different from most of the WWII historical fiction I’ve read and I love it.

    8. No Sleep Till Hippo*

      The Eleven Million Mile High Dancer by Carol de Chellis Hill. It’s a wild blend of science, fantasy, fiction, romance, and adventure. It covers everything from Shrödinger’s Cat and subparticle physics, to political corruption, to deep-space travel, to the subtle (and not-so-subtle) effects of misogyny, to the power of love and being true to oneself. It’s one of a small handful of books I’ll re-read over and over, and I try to always have an extra copy on hand to give to a friend. Truly cannot recommend it highly enough – though, sadly, I think it’s been out of print for some time and is getting harder to find…

    9. Sleepless*

      The Kite Runner. I couldn’t get my head out of that one for weeks, and I will never forget it.

      1. Frally*

        Oh I forgot about The Kite Runner. One of the few books that has actually made me cry.

    10. SarahKay*

      The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy by Ursula K. Le Guin. An adult friend lent them to me when I was eight, and they were just so different to anything I’d ever read before. I absolutely loved them, and I still reread them every couple of years. I love all her writing, but I feel like those first three in particular are just written into my life.
      More recently, The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie was incredible, and very clever. I quite literally got to the end and started reading it again to see all the bits that I hadn’t noticed before I knew the whole story.

    11. I can never decide on a lasting name*

      Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead trilogy as well as the Justice trilogy of Louise Erdrich. I must admit to mentioning these as often as I can in book threads!

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m not a fan of fantasy and science fiction but I read The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk because I knew people acquainted with the author. I remember staying up in the wee hours reading it because I was eager to know what happened next. I live in the same geography where the book takes place, which brought the story and characters to life, and decades later I remember them well.

    13. SG*

      The Warmth of Other Suns
      The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
      The Warmth of Other Suns
      Did I mention The Warmth of Other Suns?

    14. SG*

      Someone else mentioned Eva Luna by Isabel Allende, and I did love that book, but the one from Isabel Allende that really stuck with me is “Paula,” a nonfiction account of her relationship with her adult daughter and the daughter’s illness. Wow. Just Wow.
      Also, two books of short stories:
      – Will You Please Be Quiet Please by Raymond Carver (His story “Fat” is one of the best things ever written)
      – The Watch by Rick Bass
      – My favorite ever short story that has stuck with me so much, that I’ve read many times, and think about all the time: A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

    15. Pug Mom*

      The Diary of Anne Frank

      I read it when I was a child and I have revisited it numerous times over the years. I always learn something every single time I read this. I think reading it at different ages of your life with a different perspective makes it new each time.

  8. BonzaSonza*

    I am in the final stages of designing a home with a builder, and we hope to begin construction in September.

    We have included raised ceilings, double-glazed insulated windows, upgraded our air conditioning system (temperatures range from -4 to 44^C here), upgraded to 3-phase power, and an external water tank. We’ve added extra downlights and power points, extra storage in the laundry, and upgraded to a glass splashback behind the cooktop.

    Before we sign the dotted line on the contract I’d love to hear your own experiences – if anyone has built their own house please share the things that you are glad you included (or wish that you had)!

    1. Kay*

      My childhood house had the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms. It sounds weird but it was so convenient to not have to lug all the laundry up and down one or two flights of stairs all the time. My parents said it was great when we were small and it was definitely helpful to them as they got older. If I ever own a house I’ll do the same thing.

      1. Lizzie*

        Picture rails, so that you can hang as many pictures as you like and move them around as you fancy, without any messing about putting holes in the walls!

      2. TimeTravlR*

        I once had a house with this set up. It was the best! Now I am back to a basement laundry room and the bedrooms are two floors up. I’m getting too old for this stuff! LOL

        1. allathian*

          Sounds like you could use a dumb waiter, a small elevator that’s big enough for a laundry basket but not intended for transporting humans.

          Our laundry room is in the basement, but so are our bedrooms. They have full-size windows because our house’s built on a slope and the laundry room is half-underground but the bedrooms aren’t.

      3. Generic Name*

        My laundry room is on the second floor with the bedrooms. There was a problem with the plumbing and the lead caused thousands in water damage to my home and led State Farm to drop my homeowners insurance coverage with 30 days notice. But other than that problem, it is convenient. :)

        1. RussianInTexas*

          This is one of the reasons I am glad that my laundry is on the garage, even though 9 months out of the year it’s an oven there. And it’s far from the bedroom. But the garage has sloping concrete floors, so if the washer explodes, no water damage will happen to the house.
          Now we get water damage the normal ways – through old windows and leaking roof. And a lot of rain.

      4. Clisby*

        We had that too, for the 7 years we lived in our Atlanta house, but I would never accept it in a new build. It was convenient, but it also was a disaster waiting to happen. Just like the 2nd-floor water heater. For pete’s sake, put these as low as you possibly can. In our current house, they’re all in the basement.

      5. Pennyworth*

        We had friends with a fancy house with a laundry chute from upstairs level straight down to the laundry. We thought it was the best thing ever, possibly because we used it ourselves to drop down into the laundry.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          We used to like yelling down the laundry chute from the second floor to the basement. Sometimes we would make spooky noises or pound the metal sides to freak out whoever was in the basement.

          Now I’m in a second floor apartment with a laundry chute down to the basement. If I leave the hatch open, I can hear when the laundry load is done.

        2. Doc in a Box*

          This is a plot point in Anne Lindbergh’s children’s book “Three Lives to Live”

      6. Observer*

        My childhood house had the laundry room on the same floor as the bedrooms.

        There is a reason why as many tanks as possible are generally put as low in the house as possible – Leaks can be absolutely devastating, and the more floors your have between the leak and the bottom of the house, the more damage you are likely to see.

      7. LPUK*

        Yep I live in a 3 story townhouse and have my washing machine in a bathroom on the middle floor – makes so much more sense and keeps laundry out of the most used/most public rooms!

    2. TimeTravlR*

      The only thing I can recommend you include is an expectation that it will take longer than they builder says. And yay for you! Building a house to your specs is great!

      1. Wishing You Well*

        It will take longer and cost more than you plan, so a rule of thumb is to prepare for at least 20% over the estimate. Also, keep your budget top of mind. My aunt and uncle started adding too many upgrades to the house they had built and were shocked when the bill came in.
        With planning, you can have a wonderful home when it’s done.
        Congrats!

        1. allathian*

          Yup, that’s Cheops’ law, no building project is ever completed on time or within budget.

    3. There’s probably a cat meme to describe it*

      The colour of glass splashbacks can look very different in your home vs the showroom. They’re surprisingly expensive to replace, so I recommend getting a sample piece, waiting till the kitchen is painted and holding it against the wall where it’ll go to make sure you’re happy with it before you commit. Light and neutral colours especially.

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      We just moved in to our new build last month! We got lighting going up the stairs so you can keep it on like a sort of night light all night long and that is one of the best things we did and it wasn’t expensive to do at all. Also don’t skimp on recessed lighting, we have found it to be totally worth every penny! Another thing we did was put in a pot filler and I absolutely love it and am so glad we did that.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yes! I actually added stair lighting to my house, with LED strips along the baseboards with motion detectors (on the inside strip, the detector is at the top of the stairs, and on the outside one it’s at the bottom, so one of them activates whichever end you’re coming from), but having it built in would have been super nice.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          It really makes a huge difference! Also something I forgot to mention is get central vacuum! It’s life changing!

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The only real experience I have had with a new build is from my late teens. My father was building a house and in the middle of it he became sick. It kind of all fell to me to keep an eye on things. Fun times. NOT.

      The number one thing that was missed was drainage. And because we missed that point, what happened after the house was built was epic. The story ends with the entire house being jacked up, the old foundation removed (because it bowed) and a new foundation put in. The entire house was raised up to a new permanent level in the process.

      If you are building on a hillside, there will be on-going water flows. Water comes down hill in rain storms and spring thaw can be unreal. Even a house on a lot with good soil and nice drainage can still eventually have problems. Stuff always flows down hill. Something needs to be put into place to divert the water around the house and prevent it from flowing through the basement.

      So my lot here is flat. You’d think that means I escaped drainage issues. But noooooo. It’s clay soil. Even in 90 degree heat I only need to water the veggies and flowers every other day. Water retention is very high here. This brings other problems with molds and rot and certain types of destructive bugs that enjoy damp areas.
      Again with the drainage, pipes, stone, etc. But this time it took a super discerning eye to figure out how the water was moving in order to figure out where to intervene and redirect the water flow. (Under ground waterflows in clay are tricky as they can suddenly change direction- so that is an added wrinkle.)

      My suggestion is to go look at your lot in a rain storm. The heavier the storm the better. Take pictures. You want to pay attention to where you see water puddling up and where you see water just running across the surface of the earth. Last caution warning: If they dig for the foundation and they find themselves in standing water of any measurable amount, pay very close attention. It’s easier to deal with it now rather than later. If I ever rebuild my garage I will look into putting it on a concrete pad for this reason.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Years ago I added network jacks where we have our TVs, and while wifi has gotten fast enough to handle streaming now, I’m still glad I did, as streaming video has very little tolerance for lag or interference, so Ethernet is still much more reliable. And if your home is a decent size, you’ll really be glad to have network jacks on the top or bottom floor, or the opposite side of the house as the router, as you can put in an access point there and get better wifi coverage for your phones and laptops.

      1. LD*

        Also think about extra outlets and include USB charging outlets in some places. Of course you can always find the extra plugs to use, but it’s nice to only have to think about the cords.

        1. Owler*

          Yes for extra outlets, but it’s ok to not have the USB charging outlets. Modifying an existing outlet to be a USB charging one should be a fairly easy modification independent of a construction project. I say “easy” although I was not the family member to do the work; spouse had the 14yo do it under his guidance, which is why I say it wasn’t too challenging.

        2. LPUK*

          Twice as many plugs as you think you’ll need – I have 14 in my living room and it still isn’t enough. Plus outdoor electric sockets and colder water taps at both front and back. Also if you are a Christmas light freak plan ahead for those sockets – if you want lights round the window or on top of shelving etc
          Proper loft access – getting a sturdy built-in ladder transformed the amount of times I went into the attic and made it a more accessible storage area.

          For me, built in bookshelves in every room! and yes, ethernet cables to ensure Internet signal its good on every level of my house…

          And my favourite ( and really cheap) gadget – a remote control button for the shower. I have a large walk in shower and I can press a button on the outside of my ensuite, and the shower comes on and lights flash when the water is at the right temperature – no more getting wet when you read in to turn it on and none of the scalding/freezing under the showerhead

          Finally a couple of really tiny things I wish I’d had done before I moved in – smoke alarms with the battery compartment on the OUTSIDE, rather than wrestle with the cover (it always defeats me). If your roofline is high uPVC soffits so they don’t need to be maintained – I’ve been in this house 21 years and the soffits have never been painted because its incredibly expensive and faffy to do and I can’t get anyone to take on the job

      2. Cookie D'oh*

        We did the extra network connections when we did our new build. Definitely a good decision. My husband wanted to set up a speaker system so he ran speaker wire before the drywall went up so don’t have wires snaking around the room.

        1. allathian*

          My husband’s a hifi buff, and in our movie room he did the same thing. We have RCA outlets in the ceiling.

    7. Invisible Fish*

      How’s the pantry? Really easy to see everything at once? Everything easy to get to?

      Ceiling fans- you have one in every room, right? We live in Texas, and I don’t know how ppl who live in hot areas survive without them.

      Linen closets- have enough space?

      Built in shelving, specifically for books? Is that something you could use?

      Plenty of switches to control all the lights in a room from one central wall outlet?

      Does the ratio of porch/patio to yard seem like it will work well with your lifestyle?

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        My aunt and uncle have tons of pull-out shelves in their kitchen cabinets and it is marvelous. So easy to see everything and get at the thing at the very back.

        My mother has always yearned for a generous mudroom with a utility sink, but that would only be helpful if you are outdoorsy people likely to come in covered in mud.

      2. MissGirl*

        My sister had electrical outlets put in her walk-in pantry so that’s where her mixers live on the same shelf as her baking ingredients. I have a pull out cabinet for my garbage and love it.

        1. super agree!*

          Oh my gosh, yes to the pull out cabinet for the kitchen trash and recycling bins! We love ours being hidden away but still super convenient to get to.

    8. LD*

      We updated our kitchen outlets in our previous home and added a touch-less light switch for the light over the kitchen sink. We loved not having to touch the switch, just wave your hand in front of it. But don’t install that switch near some thing you will use often! We had to move our knife block because it was too close to the switch and would occasionally come on (or off) when we pulled out the knife closest to it. Not a big deal, but something to think about.
      We also added a lighted switch for the overhead lights in the garage to make it easier to see.
      My MIL and FIL had light switches on their walk-in closet doors so that when they opened their closets, the light automatically came on when it was open and off when the doors closed. (They built that house in the 7o’s!) They had the same thing done for other closets that had interior lighting.

      1. allathian*

        We have a light near our front door that’s activated by a motion sensor. Very handy when you come home late in the evening in the winter with all the grocery shopping.

    9. ampersand*

      Power outlets in the floors of larger rooms can be really nice. We have hardwoods in the living room and a power outlet in the middle of the floor, so we can plug in a lamp, laptop, etc as needed. It has a cover on it so it’s not exposed.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        More than one power outlet in the master bathroom. I only have one now and it’s a PITA – especially with hair tools, two electric toothbrushes than need occasional charging, partner’s electric shaver that needs charging, etc.

      2. 964f21f1@opayq.com*

        Speaking of power outlets, one in the bedroom hallway (or more than one if the hall is long). Generally they aren’t designed that way; the plugs in the bedrooms are considered to cover the hallway.
        If you’re vacuuming bedrooms, it’s nice to be able to plug in only once or at most twice and do all the bedrooms instead of plugging in for each bedroom, and unplugging to move on to the next. It seems such a trivial point, but it lightens a tedious chore (if you don’t have a robot to do it for you).

      3. Sue*

        If you can plan your furniture, you can place the floor outlets in the appropriate places to avoid cords all over.
        We have a laundry chute from the master closet to the utility room downstairs and also a wall mounted ironing board in that closet, both handy.
        Also have appreciated the central vac we put in when we built 30 years ago. Still works great.

    10. Rebecca Stewart*

      Based on my parents’ remodel, how will it work if life goes differently than you planned?

      When my parents remodeled, they had both my mother’s sisters living locally, and Grandma had just died; we’d always had the big family get-togethers at her house. So, Mom set up a plan that had a massive greatroom with tons of natural light, new master suite with same, and a basement with full bath that she could use as a guest suite, and remodeled the kitchen to open concept.
      But her sisters moved to Tennessee and to Georgia (We are in Indiana) to be near their grown kids, my sister unexpectedly moved out and married, Dad developed dementia and then my sons moved in as teenagers to both get them away from town and to help Mom when she ruptured a disk in her back. The house is too big for her, now, and it sits on two acres of land that she really can’t maintain any more (the boys do minimal maintenance, but the land and fruit trees and garden was Dad’s hobby.) At least one of Dad’s falls was due to there being no grab bars in the shower area and another was due to there being no way to gate off the stairs due to the architecture.

      So life changes a lot.

    11. Rachel*

      Our house has fire sprinklers inside. If it’s not required by the building code you can still add it.

    12. Rick T*

      We are about to start designing our house and here are some things I’ve thought about:
      – If they are used in your area add a Heat recovery (energy recovery) ventilator: This device allows you to bring in outside air but runs it thru heat exchangers with the inside air going out to nearly match the inside air temp instead of dumping frigid or baking hot air. They allow fresh air in without a huge heating/cooling bill
      – Use a Ground-coupled Heat Pump for air conditioning/heating: uses pipes in the ground below the frost line as the dump for AC, can be much more efficient than traditional air to air AC
      – Have the toilet behind a door even in the master/main en-suite bathroom (my wife’s request)
      – At the bottom of your water tank add a capped fire hose coupling that the local fire brigade can use in an emergency
      – Wire the house with more circuit breakers (one for each bedroom, dedicated entertainment area, dedicated office, etc.)
      – Wire the main service panel with an access plug and transfer switch for a backup generator
      – Have you considered installing a solar system with backup battery? Note that you need a battery to keep the lights on if the grid goes dark, pure PV systems are required to shut down to protect electrical workers.
      +1 on getting Ethernet wiring run where you can, 100m from the switch to the device can cover a lot of ground and makes it easier to add wireless access points for better coverage.
      Build on a single level with no interior steps so it is elderly-friendly.

      My cousin and her husband have a house west of Melbourne in the hills and they have a lot of rainwater storage tanks on their estate.

      Good luck!

      1. allathian*

        In my area I can expect temperatures of between -20 C/-4 F and + 25 C/77 F every year while -25 C/-13 F and +30 C/86 F are unexceptional. We have a geothermal heat pump for heating, but because it’s connected to an underfloor closed circuit water heating system, it can’t be used for cooling. We currently use a movable AC unit for cooling, but I’d really like to replace that with a heat pump, which would be more efficient and less noisy.

        1. allathian*

          We also have a heat exchanger and ethernet wiring all over the house. We do have wifi as well, but that’s for our smartphones. Everything else is connected to our wired LAN.

      2. Observer*

        Wire the house with more circuit breakers (one for each bedroom, dedicated entertainment area, dedicated office, etc.)

        And make sure that the circuit breakers are properly labeled! It’s a small thing, but can save a lot of aggravation down the road.

    13. Anono-me*

      More outlets.

      A timer on the bathroom fans.

      More outlets.

      Glow in the dark light switches.

      More outlets.

      If it is not to late, the ability to have ground level living if needed. ( On the ground floor have a study/guest/dining room that can be converted into a bedroom and a half bath with a large closet plumbed to convert to a shower.)

      More outlets.

      Extra hose spigots, atleast one on each side of the house and one in garage.

      Tons of outlets in the garage, including several plug ins in the ceiling, for garage door opener/s.

      Retractable extension cord in the center of the garage ceiling. (If you do DIY, an air hose too.)

      More outlets.

      Just before the sheetrock/plaster goes up, tour the house and inspect everything. Also take a couple of tape measurers and take pictures of everything with the tape measurers showing where all the wires, studs, pipes and gas lines are. Save them online and print up copies for your house book.

      Have a house book. Put all details about your new home in the binder:
      measurements, paint colors, carpet and tile info (brands and product numbers), Appliance info,(receipt, warranty, measuments, specs, and instructions) light fixtures, bathroom fixtures. So if you need to replace, upgrade, or add anything, you can.

        1. Anono-me*

          Thank you. I feel like most homes never have enough outlets.

          I realized that I forgot to suggest keeping a few bigger leftovers of everything, carpet, tile, siding, trim, laminate flooring etc. It is much easier/cheaper to patch with the original materials than replace something due to a small but noticeable amount of damage. Also depending on the kitchen counter top material, you may want to ask if the sink cutout bit can be trimmed up to use for a cutting board/trivet.

          Speaking of sinks, they make bathroom countertops with the sink built in. No more grout seam to keep clean!

      1. All about the outlets*

        Kitchen outlets! Instead of having them in the middle of wall breaking up the look of the backsplash, we had an angled power strip mounted under the cabinets. So we have lots of outlets up under the cabinets and the backsplash looks FABULOUS! for the island we have a small wine fridge under it and tucked a power strip on top of the fridge/under the counter so you can’t see it but its there when needed.

    14. JM in DC*

      These are all great. I grew up in a custom built home and other things i thought about when buying our current home (which we hope to own beyond retirement). Do you use lamps etc in the living room? Think about dedicated outlets and switches for that. Maybe you dont need it now but have ready the ability to install handlebars in all the showers/tubs in the future. (Look up accessible housing design which includes wider door and hallways, bathroom doors that open out, etc.). Pocket doors! If you have lower level laundry, laundry chutes! Have all lights on dimmers. After my husbands mom lived with us for a year we thought a lot about aging in place – we made sure all of our main living in our home was single level. Think about the trim, finishing touches, etc. – for me use of quarter round on the floor drives me nuts. Does it bother you? Communicate these things to your contractor. Use materials etc. that make the house, kitchen, bathroom easier to clean (smaller grout lines where needed, etc). Have everything visible when you open a closet (double doors, not sliders, that open if a closet that takes up the length of a wall).
      Enjoy your new home!

      1. Observer*

        Pocket doors!

        I think those tend to be more likely to break and also tend to be harder / more expensive to replace.

    15. Owler*

      A splurge for us during our bathroom remodel was a heated floor. It blew our budget back then because we had no idea what we were doing, but now any future (shower or bath) bathroom I do will have heated floors.

    16. Ariaflame*

      Are the walls/ceilings insulated? Do you have any thermal mass (I’m presuming northern hemisphere so controllable shading should be on the south wall, so windows and awnings there as much as possible) in the floors in front of the southern windows for that bit of extra warmth in winter. Are the windows openable to allow for breezes? Will breezes cool all the rooms if necessary? Raised ceilings is going to make it a bit chilly in winter but if you’re reasonably insulated it shouldn’t be too bad. Ceiling fans can help in summer.

    17. Observer*

      It gets hot enough where you are that it might make sense to think about solar panels – perhaps couple with a large storage battery.

      If you have a garage, I’d also think about doing solar specifically for the garage. It seems to me that EVs are the way of the future, and it would surely be nice to have the ability to charge you car(s) overnight at minimal cost.

    18. CarCarJabar*

      I love my SweepoVac in my kitchen- I
      Wish i had one in every room with hard floors. And the laundry room on the same level as the bedrooms if your house is multistory.

    19. All Monkeys are French*

      Bidet. When we remodeled our main bathroom I insisted they install an additional outlet near the toilet to allow for a bidet toilet seat and it was the best decision I made.
      We scrapped the heated floor for budgetary reasons and I’m sad about that. Tile is cold.

    20. Policy Chick*

      One of my favorite details of my old houses (well, two of the three) was a laundry drop. If your laundry room is in the basement, having a chute from the upper floors to drop laundry into a waiting basket next to the washer is very handy. And it’s oddly satisfying to watch the linens swoosh down the chute!

      One drop was in the upstairs bath, and the other one was actually the center pedestal/upright of the staircase.

  9. WoodswomanWrites, looking for sunscreen*

    For a couple decades, including years when I worked outdoors, I’ve used the same sunscreen that is no longer manufactured. My final tube, full of toxic stuff that might be banned soon by the FDA, is nearly empty. For the life of me, I cannot find something else that works.

    I have pale skin and burn easily. I react to scents so I have to have something without a fragrance. I love the idea of mineral blockers rather than chemical ones but after trying four or five that haven’t worked, I’m stumped. They’ve felt like grease on my face, made me look like white chalk, left me with a sunburn despite reapplying, and required lots of scrubbing in the shower to get them off.

    I hope there are others out there who have solved this conundrum. I’m willing to splurge for expensive stuff if it works, it’s unscented, and doesn’t result in feeling like I’m caked in white gunk all day that won’t wash off.

    1. Princess Deviant*

      I’ve used the Green People’s sun screen before to good success after I had a few years of getting heat rash after being in the sun for even 5 minutes (I’m so pale is like a joke – I’m like vampire-pale), but I don’t know if you can get that in the US.
      It might be worth googling vegan sun screen to see what comes up that way.

    2. Derivative Poster*

      I like Paula’s Choice Hydralight. You might want to check out the reviews for the different Supergoop sunscreens also. Good luck! I am also looking to replace a favorite discontinued product and it’s no fun.

    3. Pregnant during COVID*

      I love the supergoop stick for my face – clear and so easy to apply. For my body I use the Trader Joe’s clear spray-on and it works really well (tested so far at beaches and pools). They have a new mineral-based spray there but I haven’t tried it.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      I really like Bare Republic’s sunscreen. We got it for Hawaii where most chemical ones are banned. It does have a slight scent to it, but it’s more “this is what the ingredients smell like” rather than a perfume. IMO it smells a bit like coconuts? Doesnt feel greasy or tacky, Also worked well— protected two pasty nerds in Hawaii!

      (The specific product is Bare Republic SPF 50 Mineral Sunscreen Lotion)

    5. WS*

      I am very pale, burn easily and react to scents. I like Invisible Zinc – it does leave a faint pallor on the skin, but it washes off okay and is very effective for about 4 hours.

    6. Golden*

      I love Australian Gold! I am pale too, and use the tinted 50 spf. It seems to fit all your requirements, plus is on the more affordable end for a facial sunscreen.

      1. Reba*

        I just started trying this one (mineral) and I found it pretty good! It’s affordable, smells decent, and not too white.

        The Supergoop stuff is very nice if in the budget. For my face, I use Japanese sunscreens exclusively.

        1. Polyhymnia O'Keefe*

          I’m pretty picky about SPF moisturizers and I love the tinted Australian Gold, but I find that it’s a little thicker than I like. I’ve usually mixed it with primer, and this year, I’ve been using it with Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen. I think it’s my perfect combo.

    7. J.B.*

      I’m not sure if you have tried baby sunscreens. Water babies has some of the white chalky stuff that I find much easier to rub in than others, and it’s pretty solid.

      Otherwise I don’t worry too much about mineral sunscreens. Spray stuff works and is easy.

    8. Sunscreen avoider*

      I hate the sensation of most sunscreens so much that I’ve started to make a point of wearing UPF clothing instead, no matter the heat. Long-sleeved shirt, floppy hat, long pants (good in case of ticks anyway) with shoes and socks. I also try to time my yard work with the shadows on our property. Everyone seems to sell some lightweight UPF clothing these days…I saw running shirts at Target; my shirts came from Columbia outlet, etc…

      If I have to wear a cream I choose the Neutrogena Ultra-sheer dry-touch broad-spectrum stuff, but it doesn’t sound like it will meet your needs: The active ingredients are Avobenzone, Homosalate, and Octisalate and it lists”fragrance” as an ingredient.

      1. Sunscreens give me rashes*

        I used the Neutrogena for years & then developed an allergic rash to it. Now use Sun Bum for faces although it may contain too many chemicals for OP. The worst chemical culprit for rashes for me & friends is oxybenzone.

      2. Wishing You Well*

        I use the same Neutrogena Ultra-sheer sunblock. It has a slight smell but dissipates quickly. My husband doesn’t object to it at all and he’s VERY sensitive to smells. We’re very happy with it.
        Hope you find a workable sunblock!

      3. OtterB*

        +1 to the Neutrogena Ultra-sheer dry-touch. A quick look online says Neutrogena has a “sheer zinc” product as well, so you might check on that.

      4. WoodswomanWrites*

        That’s a great strategy. I cover up as much as I can for sun protection when I’m hiking. I’ve got the wide-brimmed hat and wear long lightweight pants, and I have a lightweight long-sleeve button up shirt designed for sun protection over a wicking tee shirt. And no hiking in sandals. The shirt is the one thing I ditch if it gets hot so I’m just in my tee shirt. I can vent the pants because they’ve got zip-off legs to convert to shorts. I keep them as pants but create airflow by opening up the zippers part way and th

        I spent many years in the sun and still do. I know a lot of people who eventually developed skin cancer, easily treatable fortunately. I am extra careful about my face, neck, and ears.

    9. LD*

      Check out the article on Travel and Leisure about reef-friendly sunscreen. Perhaps one of their products listed would be suitable. Good luck.

    10. Dwight Schrute*

      I’ve had good luck with neutrogena and cetaphil for sunscreen but I’ve also heard great things about supergoop and elta md

    11. HannahS*

      It’s a chemical sunscreen, but I use Shiseido Urban protect. It’s light, non-greasy, and works.

    12. ampersand*

      Had to throw out my Nutrogena for the same reason—I was quite disappointed! We use Baby Bum Fragrance free Mineral 50 on our kid and I’ve started using it myself. It works, isn’t heavy, is good for sensitive skin (which I have) and absorbs well. Far as I know it doesn’t contain benzene.

    13. Redhairedrunner*

      The secret to getting mineral based sunscreen off is using an emulsifying oil cleanser before regular soap.

    14. Whiskey on the rocks*

      Of all things, the walgreens brand in a green tube works really well for me (also very pale and have burned sitting in shade). It’s not super heavy feeling but I still only use it when I’m In The Sun. My every day sunscreen is Coola brand. Very thin so rubs in easily without a greasy feel.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      I got Supergoop face sunscreen (invisible something or other), and for the first time ever my face did not break out during a beach trip.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      I’ve done well with La Roche Posay, a moisturizer with sunscreen my daughter put me onto. Otherwise I use Neutrogena sunscreen.

      Also will share that right after buying more sunscreen at the usual price at CVS I stopped at TJ Maxx to buy socks, and they had lots of sunscreen for like a third the cost. Stacked near the checkout. So if anyone is looking to stock up, maybe give that a whirl.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        Came here to say the same. I just bought La Roche Posay sunscreen spray because I keep hearing it recommended by people and I actually like it a lot. Very non-greasy and there isn’t a strong scent. I was out all day at a water park using it and didn’t get any burns at all. I normally do.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I use La Roche Posay’s sunblock, as well as some of the other skincare products.

    17. Voluptuousfire*

      I started using a baby sunscreen by Pipette on my face. It’s a mineral sunscreen that has an SPF of 50. It’s all natural and non-toxic. The third ingredient is plant derived squalane, so I use it in a place of moisturizer in the morning.

      It does take a bit to soak in and can make your face a little greasy, but that’s fine for me. I also use Target’s mineral sunscreen, SPF 50 on my body. It’s pretty cheap.

    18. Chauncy Gardener*

      Elta MD. It says it’s spf 46, but I swear it’s better than that. And it NEVER makes me break out. Also the Banana Boat baby formulas are really effective.

    19. JustEm*

      I use the Elta MD physical blocker sunscreen on my face (I get the tinted one but there’s a clear version too), and it’s the only one I’ve found that doesn’t irritate my rosacea

    20. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for all the suggestions, very helpful. It’s great to have so many options to look into.

    21. RosyGlasses*

      I’m also a redhead with fair skin that burns easily. I have started using Supergoop glowscreen on my face and it has worked so well thus far. I have also used Alba on my body and it is free of toxins but very effective ( and they have up to 50 spf). Epionce is also a good brand with a 50spf sunscreen that works for face and body but is a bit more expensive which is why I switched to separate face and body creams.

    22. Esmeralda*

      Neutragena pure and free baby. Can be thick, I put the tube in the sun (or a tall cup of hot water) about ten minutes before I need to apply it. I’m gonna cry if they ever stop manufacturing it.

    23. LPUK*

      La Roche Posay Anthelios sunscreen – French pharmacy brand works really well for me – I use Factor 50 facial sunscreen for sensitive skin. Its a light lotion that rubs in really well

    24. MissCoco*

      “I’m Safe for sensitive skin” is my current one and only.
      SUPER easy to apply, and no white cast

      I’m not usually fragrance sensitive, but the ingredient list doesn’t include anything I recognize as fragrance, and there isn’t a noticeable scent either.

      Downsides: it’s not waterproof, and it’s only 35 SPF, so I usually feel I need to reapply in the afternoon

    1. Edie*

      Sorry, this was supposed to be a reply to WoodswomanWrites. Skinnies is an excellent sun gel!

  10. I miss my cat*

    I’m going on vacation today and boarding my cat for the first time. Super anxious about it. I’ll be gone 8 nights. No real question, just asking for reassurance, I guess.

    If you’ve boarded your cat, how do you deal with being away from them?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve never boarded the cats – ours are low maintenance enough that we just have someone in to check on them daily or every other, if we’re all gone – but when I board my dogs, they text me pictures and confirmation that everybody is doing okay every day.

    2. Arya Parya*

      I board my cats about once a year and it always goes well. They post pictures on Instagram regularly, so I can see how they’re doing. I also gotten to know the owner and some of the employees, which helps with trusting my cats are in good hands.

    3. WS*

      My parents board their cat frequently and the only problem they’ve had is their cat expecting them to play with her all day every day when she gets home, like the people who run the boarding facility!

    4. MissB*

      I use my vets office to board my cat when we are gone. The vet is wonderful- she usually sends me at least one photo and text updating me. She’ll take my cat into her office in the evenings when she’s catching up on paperwork, so the pics are often of my cat on her desk or hanging out on the cat tree, looking out the window at the people passing by.

      So i would suggest asking if they’d be willing to do a quick email or text update for you.

      My cat is pretty much glued to me (as opposed to my DH) but she’s not bitter or bothered with her vet vacations. I know she’s fed each day and gets some attention otherwise, so she is one less thing I worry about when I’m gone.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      One thing I told myself was if the cat sensed I was afraid then the cat might be more inclined to be afraid. I had to remind myself that I had to be that confident, reassuring adult.

      But yeah. It was tough. And in the end my solution was to not be gone as long and to hire someone to come to the house.

    6. LD*

      I always feel guilty when we leave the cat alone for several days (meaning we are not there, not that he’s all by himself). I felt worse when I took him to board, but the places I’ve used were always super friendly and caring and texted an occasional photo. Now I use a service and schedule someone to come into the house every day when we are away. I have been very happy with that kind of service and you might look into it for your next time away. Either way, the cat will be fine. Mine is usually super-friendly and cuddly the first day we are home, not his usual stand-offish self. Just know that the guilt is normal and don’t dwell on it. Have fun!

    7. Queer Earthling*

      The place where we board sends photo updates daily, so that helps a lot, to see how much fun they’re having and how much attention they’re receiving. Is that an option for you, to relieve some concern? (Our cats are also pretty gregarious so they adapt pretty well to hanging out with strange cats all day.)

    8. Rebecca Stewart*

      The only time I’ve boarded mine was over our move (within the same town) so we didn’t have to worry about cats getting out during the move or getting into anything during that first weekend of initial settling in. We boarded them about a week, and while we missed them, we were falling into bed physically and emotionally exhausted every night due to the demands of the move, so we got through the time, and soon enough it was time to go get them and introduce them to the new house. Complete with a 14 x 20 sunroom for them to enjoy bird and squirrel watching from!

    9. Cookie D'oh*

      Several years ago, I boarded three of my cats because I wasn’t able to find a reliable pet sitter in my area. See if they will send you updates and/or pictures. The place I used had web cams where you could log in and watch your pet. Even when I leave mine with a sitter, having updates helps ease the anxiety.

    10. Gatomon*

      The hardest part for me is falling asleep. My cat usually uses my lower leg as a pillow (I guess I have comfy calves?) and we settle down together. I usually give myself extra time to fall asleep and download a comforting show or two to my phone in case I need it.

    11. tangerineRose*

      I boarded my kitties with a boarding place that was associated with (and next door to) a veterinary center, which helped some – I figured if there were any issues, they had help nearby.

    12. Cats. What else would they be called*

      My cat ignores me for a day once I get home (punishment?), and it’s a wonderful place. Then she’s all happy again. I guess don’t take it hard if that happens to you.

    13. Bucky Barnes*

      I board at my vet’s office. And usually once or twice, I’ll call and speak to the kennel to see how he’s doing.

      My cat likes to have a little alone time when I bring him home so he can reacquaint himself with my apartment. Then he’s a snuggle bug.

  11. Loopy*

    Day dreaming about taking our next big vacation. It’s just two of us adults, from SC probably to San francisco. Feeling like it’s too early to book everything for a trip mid-Dec. Just curious. how far out do folks usually book domestic week long vacations? I think we were aiming for booking early Sept.

    What are other’s habits/advice for timing?

      1. Loopy*

        My husband operates on that timeline usually but I always feel it’s on the late side! Maybe just because I’m patient to plan something fun though!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I start looking at options for things I want to do pretty much right away, so that for things like Alcatraz, which we really really wanted to do and requires booking in advance, I can make a note on the calendar (they book I think it was 90 days out) and make sure we get the reservation booked promptly so it’s all set up and out of the way.

      We went to San Francisco for an anniversary trip in early September a couple years ago and it was lovely – like, I brought extra layers and a heavy jacket because we expected it to be chilly and damp, and I actually ended up with my first sunburn in years because it was 80 and sunny the whole time we were there. (But I understand that the chilly and damp is more likely for that time of year.) We really enjoyed the zoo as well, and took the red bus city tour which included a back-and-forth over the Golden Gate Bridge. I wanted to get over to the Disney museum, but we didn’t manage to fit it in. I think our collective favorite stop was the California Academy of Sciences, if you’re museum-y types.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        oh, derp. You’re looking to BOOK in September for a December trip. Misread, sorry! Everything else is still applicable, but in December, DEFINITELY bring some warm layers.

      2. Loopy*

        Yes, unfortunately winter is the only time my husband can get off! Alcatraz is on his list so thats definitely good to know. I’m usually super keen on early booking for flights and hotels and I can wait a little longer for all the fun stuff.

        My husband tends not to want to go literally anywhere for more than five days so museums will probably get cut from the list (I’m okay with this) but I appreciate the recs!

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          Alcatraz tours have always booked up a long time in advance. They only recently resumed after the pandemic shutdown, and they’re offered at reduced capacity, so I wouldn’t wait on buying your tickets. YOu can book your tickets and shape the rest of your trip around that.

          1. Rara Avis*

            I got off-season (February) Alcatraz tickets 24 hours ahead of the day I wanted them. It’s really cold on the boat and not a super-popular winter activity.

        2. lemon meringue*

          This isn’t really what you asked, but if you’re planning to go to Alcatraz in winter, you’ll want to wear really warm clothes. I went in August and both the boat ride and the island itself were freezing.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Honestly, it depends. But usually about 3 months out, though we started booking our August trip in March (wishful thinking at that stage, thankfully we’re both vaxxed). That was just flights and car, though– I did hotels last month

      My mother and I are planning a trip for next May already, but that’s highly unusual and involves some complicated maneuvering. So I guess the more straightforward the trip, the less time you need to plan.

      1. Loopy*

        I think I need to remember I don’t need to plan this early, I think I just *want* to! Travel is pretty easy for us within the US, fortunately.

    3. Max Kitty*

      We book pretty early, usually as soon as we decide to go. We already have (cancellable without penalty) reservations for the end of January 2022.

      If you need a rental car, keep a close eye on that. Prices are hugely expensive now, but hopefully will come down as rental agencies are able to add more cars.

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks- I hadn’t considered the rental car aspect. Hopefully that gets better in the next 6 months. We will definitely need one. I also like to start booking as soon as I get it in my head to go.

        1. zyx*

          If you’re planning to stay in SF the entire time, it’s worth thinking about if you really need a car or if you’re comfortable using public transit and Lyft/Uber/taxis. Parking is expensive in the city, and it can be frustrating to find a place to park. Also people may parallel-park super close to your car—that’s the polite thing to do here since parking is so scarce, but it’s sometimes stressful for out-of-towners.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I second this recommendation to skip a rental car if you’re staying within the boundaries of San Francisco. It’s easy to get around, parking is tough to find, and car break-ins are rampant.

    4. LD*

      Start early for flights to get the best timing and the best prices. Now is not too early to start looking at options for flights. Might be early to book, but not too early for research on which airlines have the best options for prices, baggage restrictions, shorter flights, fewer stops, better times for departures (are you an early morning person who doesn’t mind getting up at 3 to make a 6 a.m. flight? or a later person who prefers to start and arrive later?) and returns (again, how early can you get up and make it to the airport? how late can you get in and still feel comfortable driving home?). My first visit to San Francisco we didn’t stay in the city the whole time and on our last day on the way back to SF there were so many events in the area and traffic was so heavy we didn’t make it to the airport on time and missed our flight! That said, the anticipation of a fun trip is almost as good as the experience! Good luck and have fun making plans!

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks! This is great advice as I realized I don’t even KNOW what a good price for cross country airfare is! Right now I’m seeing some flights for as low at 310 each but I dont yet have a sense of it thats a jump on it price or not!

        1. Owler*

          I would say that $310 is good. Even just four years ago, for me to go between California and Chicago, I would jump on anything below $425. Who knows how things will go now with the bulk of Covid hopefully behind us.

          1. Decidedly Me*

            Kayak will tell you if they think you should buy or wait. You can set alerts for flights too.

    5. Fulana del Tal*

      I booked my Christmas time vacation in May, but I’m flying to a small airport that only one major airline goes to. I’m glad I did because by June to fares had almost doubled. My main concern will be the car rental, checking and i’ll probably book early for that too.

      1. Loopy*

        Im glad people are mentioning car rentals! I haven’t booked one recently and it wasn’t really on my radar to keep up with prices for that like I do with flights!

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Such a huge range. I booked our eclipse travel 51 weeks out, and promptly learned I should have been thinking 100 weeks out. (Online reservation systems don’t understand more than a year lead times, so I naively thought a year minus a day was going to count as early planning.)

      BUT! The wildfires meant that our initial lovely airbnb was in an area that evacuated, and so on the plane over I was frantically trying to find a new place. And I did! Just south of totality but we figured we could get up early and drive north. (We watched the eclipse from a llama ranch.) And the new airbnb was really lovely, one of our favorites rather than “well at least it has walls.” The owners had been renovating it and had just listed it.

      Also it really helps that I am now at a point in my life where throwing money at a problem is a viable way to solve it.

    7. Pool Lounger*

      We book hotels and plane tickets as far in advance as we can, especially if we’re going to a small town or anywhere in peak season. I’m a planner and prefer to just get it done. Restaurants that aren’t Michelin starred often don’t take reservations more than two months out, but I’ll make a list of where I want to go so we can make reservations when the time comes.

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I usually book as early as the hotels and airlines, if applicable, will allow. I’m going to Las Vegas in February 2022 and my hotels and plane tickets are booked. I’ll be booking a rental car soon, too. I noticed prices already going up on the plane tickets so I jumped on them. And for the hotels, Vegas is doing a lot of “book by X date for travel by Y date in 2022 and get 25% off (or some other deal).” That allowed me to book nicer rooms since we’ll be there for a week.

  12. Park ranger*

    Does anyone need any help with backpacking/camping/hiking topics? Need gear recommendations, have questions about getting started in backpacking or backpacking solo, want to run itineraries, gear lists, or food ideas past me or others? It’s my favorite stuff to nerd out about, and I currently have too much time on my hands where I can be online but not physically active. :)

    1. No Tribble At All*

      What’s your favorite thing to cook over a campfire?

      We used to go camping a lot when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of sausages wrapped in homemade biscuit mix. We’d also make burgers for breakfast because it was fast, and have pancakes for dinner because you had to mix them up first.

      1. Park ranger*

        Ooh those all sound delicious!! I actually don’t cook over a fire much, but probably the fave is foil packets of veggies, sausages, lots of butter, and spices, nestled in the coals for a little while.

        1. Whiskey on the rocks*

          Try pizzelles (Italian waffle cookies) instead of graham crackers, dark chocolate instead of milk, and then put a piece of cooked bacon on it!

    2. AnonToday*

      This is a fun question! I’ve never truly done any of those things, but went for an ‘extended nature walk’ before covid with my camping-obsessed cousins and had a great time. Feel free to answer none or just some of these, I asked a lot.

      If you were to add up the cost of all the basic supplies (not top of the line, but not something that will break after one use), what is the financial barrier to entry for camping? How about for hiking? Is it OK to buy used?

      Also, this is a niche question, but if you remember that viral news story a while ago about the man who fainted getting out of his shower from a cold allergy; I have that too. My lower limit is about 65 and breezy before I start to get itchy and lethargic. Where/when in the world is a good place for someone like me to camp, but also not be miserable in the heat? Thank you!

      1. Park ranger*

        I love that you had a great nature hike and are pondering future adventures.

        For financial barriers/cost question – first, absolutely YES to used gear! You can often find great items at resale shops like Goodwill – wicking shirts, jackets, etc. Places like REI will also have sales of gently used or repaired items, or you can find things on Craig’s List or Facebook Marketplace, or for affordable gear online, check out Steep and Cheap or the Clymb or Sierra Trading Post or REI Outlet sites online.

        For day hikes, all you really need is a comfortable, reasonably sturdy pair of shoes with decent socks – you can buy a couple pairs of awesome, long-lasting wool socks (darn tough is a good brand) and a pair of trail runner shoes or decent hiking boots for $75-$150 total, that will then last you a long time. You’ll then likely want a small pack/bag, a water bottle, maybe a raincoat or poncho, and comfortable breathable clothes (preferably not cotton, but if all you have is cotton, I certainly wouldn’t let that stop you from hiking!) (If I’m hiking somewhere that’s pretty remote/wild, even if it’s just a day hike, I’d also bring a map or a fully charged phone with a GPS app, a lighter, a headlamp, and extra snacks and water. (And tell someone your plan ahead of time!) This most likely isn’t necessary for an afternoon hike in a busy state park full of amenities or something like that.)

        For camping, you’ll need more gear of course! Many places offer rentals, if you don’t want to buy your own things – check your local university or your local REI to start. For car camping (camping in a site you can drive into) you can get away with cheaper, heavy gear – if you want to try backpacking (hiking into sites carrying all of your gear on your back) prices will be higher, because you don’t want to lug a 50+ pound bag, plus you’ll need a good pack, plus you’ll likely need things like a water filter, camp stove, bear canister, etc that you may not need at a well-stocked car campground. For folks who want to start backpacking and don’t have gear, I recommend starting by renting equipment and/or borrowing from friends, and slowly building up your personal gear over time, whether you get things used or new! If you think you may want to backpack eventually, and are investing in a tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad now, look for lighter-weight items.

        Minimum gear to start car camping with a tent: tent; sleeping bag; foam or inflatable sleeping pad (necessary for insulation from the ground as well as comfort – don’t skip it); water bottle(s); headlamp (much easier than a flashlight); lightweight dishes (could just be plastic tupperware and plastic ware honestly! although there are also all kinds of pricy items you can buy). A camp stove, or you can cook over the fire, or eat things that don’t need cooking. If you’re camping somewhere undeveloped that doesn’t have filtered water pumps, you’ll need some kind of water treatment system. I think that’s really the NEEDS for camping – plus food, clothing, toiletries, and whatnot.

        So interesting on the cold allergy!! Planning trips in late spring and early fall is probably a great bet – are you okay in colder than 65 at night if you’re bundled up and in a good sleeping bag?

        1. SP*

          My favourite camping dish is a sandwich container! When empty it holds my cutlery, but you can use it to store your pre-prepped lunch in as well.

        2. Stevie Budd*

          On the cold issue, I tend to run cold, particularly with any breeze whatsoever. For camping, keep in mind that the temperature rating on the bag is for survival, not comfort. Add about ten degree for normal person comfort, and if you run cold, maybe another 10 degrees? I’m still figuring that part out, I tend to not push it and camp when it is fairly warm. Also, the temperature rating assumes your sleeping pad is providing some insulation, so keep that in mind as well.

          1. Pomegranate*

            Good point on the comfort vs survival ratings. For women, I’d say add +10-15C for comfort. I got a -12C bag and can sleep in reasonably comfort to frost levels if I’m wearing enough layers.

      2. uncivil servant*

        I started camping on an extreme budget. I wanted to do longer hikes in a park that was a good two-hour drive from home and I just didn’t want to drive home and back over a weekend. I found I really didn’t like camping by myself so it was just a way to stay safe and get some sleep. I bought the smallest tent and lightest sleeping bag at the local Walmart (well, Canadian Tire but the quality is similar), a small cooler and a lantern-style flashlight. I put my sleeping bag on a yoga mat and folded blanket and it was very uncomfortable, but it worked. I think the cost wasn’t too much over $100.

        When my husband and I started car camping together, we went back to Canadian Tire and spent around $200 upgrading our supplies. We got all the normal stuff like a tiny propane stove, an air mattress, and camping chairs for sitting by the fire. And an axe for chopping firewood. That elevated it from “not sleeping outside” to enjoyable camping. But we still haven’t bothered upgrading to higher-end brands because it’s just not worth it for us. You don’t have to spend a fortune for car camping.

    3. Mary Lynne*

      Yes! Wow, you popped up just in time!
      The end of October I am scheduled with a women’s adventure travel company to hike down into the Grand Canyon, and then back out again. I am 56, I am reasonably fit but have a lot of work to do. I’m trying to figure out what clothes to get. We are carrying 30 to 40 pounds each, and our personal gear needs to be light as possible. The guide says to plan on wearing the same clothes for four days, and layer because there can be temperature extremes. I will also need some thing for in the water, because we can get in the river when we get to the bottom. Also I have a $200 REI gift certificate to use, so I’d like to get good stuff. Right now I have decades of accumulated camping stuff from clearance or passed down from my sister. What is the minimum clothing you would bring for something like this, and then what Would you add if you could just get the perfect combination? Thank you so much!

      1. SP*

        Oh, I love lightweight merino for trips like this! Quickish dry, but doesn’t get stinky like some of the synthetics so it’s more comfortable to wear for multiple days. I also like quick dry convertible pants/shorts if you can only bring one pair. Make sure you have a couple of pairs of socks. If you want to be super light you can just wear your sports bra and quick dry shorts in the water.

      2. Beth_P*

        Hi Mary Lynne! OMG I just did a guided rim-to-rim hike of the GC at the end of May. What an amazing trip! I am also 56 btw. We did wear mostly the same clothes for 4 days – I changed shirts 2 days in because 105 degree weather!. I changed to bathing suit bottoms (left the same shirt) for the water but everyone else I was with just went in as they were. Again, temps will be different for you in October (slightly jealous of that!) and everything we were wearing dried in 20 mins with the heat. Teva type sandals were great for around camp and wearing right into the water. I highly recommend the lightest but cushiest sleeping pad you can find. I hated the ones they supplied us with and would bring my own going forward. I did not do enough training with pack weight which slowed me down. I still kept up with the group and had an amazing time, but if you can get plenty of training with good weight on your back do it! You will have an absolutely incredible time – every turn brings you to another gorgeous vista. I would do the whole trip again in a hearbeat!

      3. Park ranger*

        That trip sounds amazing! I’m so excited for you!! I definitely agree with the suggestion for merino and for quick dry, convertible pants. I’d really recommend lightweight long pants even if it’s really hot, for sun, bug, cacti protection. I have some Prana hiking pants for this that I love that have served me well for several years now. I’d probably bring those, 2 lightweight merino Tshirts or similar, a thin pair of leggings or long underwear for sleeping at night, 2-3 pairs underwear, 2-3 pairs wool socks, and another warm layer for night – how cold will it get down to when you’re there?

        Also, I bet you can definitely keep your pack to under thirty pounds before water – but in the Grand Canyon your water will be the biggest weight factor!!

      4. Park ranger*

        Oh and I normally just swim in underwear and a sports bra when backpacking and then lay out in the sun until they dry, but you could bring a bathing suit too; they’re so lightweight. Also – the prana hiking pants double super well as a camp towel. :)

      5. Reba*

        Just on the clothing part, I just bought the rei brand upf hooded long sleeve shirt and I strongly recommend!

      6. And I sweeeaaar*

        One thing I never skip is bringing enough pairs of underwear for each day. I don’t mind wearing socks, bras, shirts, pants, etc. for several days in a row. But a couple pairs of socks is good in case they get wet (rain, creek crossing, sweat).

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      Oh what a lovely idea, thank you!

      I used to camp a lot with my dad when I was a kid, but repeating that that seems unrealistic now for a number of reasons. I hope that changes in the next few years, but we’ll have to see.

      In the meantime, one thing I have been dreaming about that is more realistic would be some sort of walking tour. I’d want to stay in hotels or B&Bs overnight, and I’d likely not be way out in nature off the grid just based on where I am and where I would want to go (Europe). So I guess it would be like a more urban version of backpacking? Does that even count?

      Are there any resources for that kind of thing that you can think of? I’m way at the beginning, so I have nothing in terms of gear or maps. But Im not even sure I need that kind of thing at all, since I would be in places that have shops and infrastructure.

      Has anyone else done something like that? Just…walk out the door and go somewhere on foot?

      1. GraceC*

        I can’t remember where you’re based, Teatime, but Interrail and Hostelling International are good resources if they’re in your region – Interrail has pre-set route ideas that always look pretty tempting

      2. Gan Ainm*

        The Camino De Santiago – it’s called The Saint James Way in English, it’s a network of pilgrimage routes all over Europe that all end at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It’s a walking / hiking path, but you end in a city or town each day. The best one for you would probably be the ruta Francés, which is the most popular route and has easiest options for hotels and hostels, there’s also companies that will bring your bag from city to city if you do it this route. It’s quite long, the one I did would take about two months to do all at once, but you can jus pick a section that appeals based on the cities you want to see and do that.

        Alternately, not related to the above, if you’re a cyclist it’s easy and common to just pick your own route and go in France, netherlands, belgium, etc. it’s pretty flat (obviously stay away from the alps in France, go to the flatlands) and many towns are very close together. Check country customs but in many in Europe it’s common to be allowed to camp wherever you like as long as it’s a wooded patch and not somebody’s front yard basically.

        1. Camelid coordinator*

          There are walking pilgrimages elsewhere too. We did a pilgrimage to Canterbury in 2018 and used a British company called Walk Awhile Walking Holidays. I think most people who use this company aren’t religious. They make hotel reservations, provide maps, and move your luggage every day to the next place. Your job is to walk (the hotel reservation comes with breakfast) and figure out lunch & dinner. (We found figuring out lunch especially challenging. We also had trouble integrating going to church services with the schedule they had set up, which is why I think most customers of that company are not religious.)

          1. c-*

            I don’t know about Canterbury, but in the Camino and Lourdes pilgrimages people often pray as they walk (using hand- or finger-rosaries to count prayers, like these: https://www.todocoleccion.net/antiguedades/rosario-mano-madera-recuerdo-covadonga~x159370494; https://www.aquedah.com/productos/orfebreria/anillos/anillo-rosario.html) because you often don’t have time to attend services if you want to get where you need to be before sunset. In some church groups, some of the pilgrims are priests and celebrate open-air services wherever and whenever it’s convenient to stop. Finding a local church group to make the pilgrimage with could be an option if that’s an important consideration. :)

        2. c-*

          Seconding the Camino (it’s absolutely gorgeous, especially around Galicia), but please be careful! It still requires training, preparation, getting up before sunrise, and carrying water, a first-aid kit (blisters on your feet can become huge, infected, and very painful), money, a cellphone, and power banks. It can get quite remote (distances on foot are much more difficult to cover than one might think, especially at first) and it’s no fun twisting an ankle or getting sunstroke and having to wait for rescue by a kind passer-by in the middle of nowhere.
          I don’t know about the rest of Europe, but I can tell you that the Camino is safe in Galicia in the summer, because so many pilgrims do it then, so people and towns are prepared for them. But still, accidents happen which can ruin your holiday, so prepare as much as you can before embarking on something like this.
          If you want something a bit more small-scale, lots of European cities have free or low-cost walking tours in English, where a local guide takes you around the city on foot for 2 or 3 hours and explains interesting facts to the group.

      3. Park ranger*

        This sounds SUPER fun, and I definitely know nothing about it. I’ve never heard of something organized like this in the US – has anyone else? – but it does seem to be more common in Europe.

      4. Isobel*

        I really want to do the Dales Way. I love the idea of walking out of my house and finishing in the Lake District. There are lots of companies in the UK who can help with itineraries, booking B&Bs and transporting your luggage eg Hillwalk tours, Great Britain walks, and Inntravel have European routes too. The thing about hiking in Britain is that you’re unlikely to be hundreds of miles away from shops and pubs, so you don’t have to be as self sufficient as if you were doing the Pacific Crest trail or something like that.

      5. Sarah*

        My mother and I did a bunch of walking holidays like the one you describe and we have a lot of good memories from them.

        We did some in the UK initially (where we’re from), identified a specific route we could do and then booked our own accommodation, so each day walked from one place to another, carrying all our stuff on our backs. For that, the equipment we bought as I recall was:
        – proper rucksacks, designed for walkers, with metal frames
        – Camelbak or similar hydration systems (so, like, a bag you fill up with water and a tube you can suck it from – takes up much less space than bottles and easier to sip from on the go)
        – proper walking boots (not super-high end, but bought from a specialist shop, and taking time to check fit)
        – waterproof trousers
        The routes we chose to do were quite well-known and there was info online about them (e.g. from tourist information centres), we also bought maps and I think my mother sometimes found guidebooks. The tourist info and guidebooks were of, uh, varying use. Some were great and detailed, others were not.

        It definitely wasn’t on the same level as US-style trail walking, we knew we would get to a place to sleep that night and be able to buy dinner there – we definitely had some times where we hoped a village might have a shop or place where we could buy food and they did not. So we carried a fair amount of snacks!

        Then we did some elsewhere in Europe, and we chose to book all those through holiday companies. They would plan your itinerary, book the accommodation, give you maps and route guidance, and transport your luggage. I always felt very proud of being able to transport all my luggage on my back when walking in the UK but it was definitely less tiring having it sent on!
        This was generally easier in terms of planning/admin. Potential disadvantages:
        – not being able to find a company that offers a route that works for you (like, the distance doesn’t suit, or it doesn’t go to the places you’d like to see)
        – no say in what accommodation you end up in (though ours was generally all fine, just sometimes amusingly bizarre)
        – if there are several of you all booked on the same trip, it can become more of a group tour – you see each other on the path, are staying in the same places, etc – which may be a feature or a bug depending on how you feel about that kind of thing
        – instructions and routes were sometimes less helpful or more strange than expected, even with a professional organising it (we definitely did some walks that were probably slightly beyond our capabilities. Or involved getting lost on the side of a mountain and me sitting down on the ground and crying)

        Overall, though, we both really value the trips and are so glad we did them (we stopped because my mother’s got mobility issues now that make it impractical, not because we weren’t enjoying it).

        Doing a search online for “walking holidays [country]” was I think how we found the companies we went with!

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Thank you! I love threads like this.
      I’ve only been car camping, but I would love to go backpacking some day. I have three kids (9, 4, and 1), and while I think the nine year old could go, I’m thinking I might have to wait until the others are older.
      Any thoughts or suggestions for going backpacking with kids?
      What would you say is your favorite non-essential piece of camping gear- something that gets you a lot of bang for the space it takes up?
      And what is your favorite essential, but not obviously so piece of camping gear?

      1. Generic Name*

        Do your kids love hiking and camping and the outdoors? It sounds obvious, but if a kid doesn’t absolutely love all those things, they won’t enjoy backpacking. My ex really wanted to take our son backpacking, but he didn’t account for things like my son’s ability or comfort, so the attempted trips weren’t very successful. I would start small and have small expectations. Like hike for a mile to get to the campsite. Or if you are hiking for longer, plan for your child to carry no more than a daypack.

        A not-obvious essential for me is a length of paracord. You can use it to help construct a shelter, to tie stuff to your pack, an emergency dog leash, a clothesline to dry clothes, etc.

      2. Park ranger*

        Check out the Facebook group “Backpacking with Babies and Kids” if you’re on Facebook! It’s insanely helpful and full of responsive folks. And 4 and 1 year olds can absolutely go backpacking if YOU’RE up for it! I just had my first baby a month ago, so I don’t have a lot of personal experience with kiddos yet, but have learned a lot from that facebook group and am planning her first camping trip for when she’s seven weeks old. : ) My basic ideas – don’t do more than four miles a day – even one or two miles in would be perfect.

        Favorite non-essential gear for backpacking – a collapsible water “bucket” like the Sea to Summit “Kitchen Sink.” You can use it to collect water for filtering at a comfortable spot, or water to pour into your gravity filter. Or you can use it to wash dishes in. Or you can use it as a water bowl for doggos. Or you can use it for little kids to splash and play in.

        Absolute favorite piece of gear for backpacking – a good gravity filter. SO much better than a pump or squeeze filter, or using a chemical treatment that adds a weird flavor. I have the platypus 4-liter gravity filter and it’s amazing.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            Yes, a really good headlamp is a must. They are so lightweight and free up your hands so you don’t have to hold a flashlight. I like the ones that have an infrared option so you can watch wildlife in the dark without frightening them with the white light.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          My trekking poles are essential gear for backpacking. They take so much strain off my knees, keep me from falling, help me move more smoothly and quickly, and are fantastic for balance crossing creeks or on steep downhills.

          I used to backpack a lot more including trips in the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Britain. After a knee injury and eventually a knee replacement, I’m planning my first trip in many years. If it’s not too smoky from wildfires in September this year, I’m backpacking in Olympic National Park, a favorite place.

      3. Wandering*

        Lantern.
        – We read aloud at night, & took longer books. (Gulliver’s Travels was a fave.) It was a rite of passage to be elevated to reader for the fam.
        – Parents could more easily see to tend to individual kids in the pile.
        – Easier to play games in the tent on rainy days.
        – bring at least twice the batteries you expect to need for it.

      4. polka dottie*

        Do you have a partner that can stay with the other kids? I’d totally do 1-nighters with the 9 yr old and 4 yr old, together or separately. I wouldn’t take a kid till they were out of diapers, mostly because I don’t want to deal. Other suggestion for taking kids: bring your patience. Think of lots of word/talking games they can play, lots of stops, and candy. And other, extra-special candy, for when you’ve only been out an hour, and there’s longer to go. I started taking my daughter backpacking when she was 8 or 9. The shortest backpacking trails around here are 6 miles one-way, so I had to counter-act the boredom.

      5. Fellow Traveller*

        such good points! I am feeling inspired.
        We actually just got back from a 3 night car camping trip. It was me, the 3 kids, and my 75 year old parents. My husband has said repeatedly that he will not camp with diapers, so he stayed home. I had a great time and would have stayed more nights, but the campsite was booked. I think the kids had a great time too and it was really great to have four days screen-free. Sleeping was kind of a mess, though, because we went somewhere in the Western part of our state and the sun went down an hour later than we were used to.
        I did buy us a hammock for this trip, and that got a lot of use.
        I once read a story about a couple who hiked the AT with their 9 month old, and for a while I was really inspired to do the same thing. But then the logistics of doing it (diapers! again) really overwhelmed me.

    6. LD*

      Most important for a long hike? Shoes and socks! I didn’t hike down the Grand Canyon, but we hiked the rim and worked for a few months in advance breaking in the hiking boots we planned to wear by going on local hikes and long walks in our neighborhood. Get the most comfortable shoes or boots you can afford and use the advice of the folks at the store. Even better, the place we went had an incline ramp to try on our boots to see if our feet slipped forward and touched the front. They explained that we’d end up with bruised toes and a miserable hike if that happened. It was very valuable advice and helped us choose the right boots.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes! Good shoes are a must! I wear oboz hiking shoes with wool socks and my feet are as happy as a clam. I hiked much further than I intended once (14 miles instead of 5 or 6, long story don’t ask….) and someone I told the story was like “oh, your poor feet! How bad were your blisters?” And I didn’t have a single one!

      2. Park ranger*

        Yes!! A lot of people seem to think that getting blisters is just inevitable – but it’s really not! If you get high-quality, well-fitting shoes and socks, and take care to keep your feet dry (and/or change your socks if your socks get soaked), it’s super possible to not ever get blisters.

      3. I take tea*

        It really pays to splurge a bit on proper hiking socks as well as hiking boots. I used to just use whatever socks I had, even though I had good shoes, but for longer walks it really makes a difference with good socks!

    7. Llellayena*

      I just got back from a camping trip where the brand new air mattress lost way too much air every single night (double height, I wasn’t quite touching ground by morning but it was close). So…recommendations for a double height quality air mattress or alternate sleeping option for someone who needs the height to be able to stand up in the morning?

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        I *only* car camp with mattresses lol Blow up the mattress before your trip, or first thing when you set up. New ones or one you haven’t used in awhile need to stretch out. Colder nights also cause them to lose some air. Putting down a liner, like a blanket under, can help some. But the best thing I’ve bought is a cordless pump. It looks a bit like a dust buster. Makes it easy to pump the mattress a bit right before you go to sleep. Also, if you have space to carry it, a small folding step stool is really helpful as it can give you some leverage to get out of the mattress and also is a side table or a seat to put on shoes, etc.

        1. Llellayena*

          We did test-sleep the air mattress for one night ahead of the trip, but it was a rush purchase since when we were test-sleeping the previous air mattress ahead of the trip an inner support blew out. We filled the air mattress every day and at different times of day including when it was already cold. We also did put a blanket down under the bed. We just seem to have gotten a crap air mattress (the less expensive double height one at Dick’s, don’t remember brand).

          1. Whiskey on the rocks*

            Ah, that’s annoying. My double height queen is an Intex, I want to say $40? Sometimes even the new ones you just get one that’s got a leak somewhere.

          2. acmx*

            I am currently sleeping on a Coleman double height queen from Target. It would have been one of the cheaper options $49 maybe? $39? It lasts me overnight. I usually top it up because it’s the only sitting surface I have and I move around all night.

    8. fposte*

      Oh, what a helpful post! I’m looking to do some more hiking (gentle, especially at first) and I am looking at hiking shoes. I have wide feet and a double-broken metatarsal that kicks up a fuss sometimes, and I fare better with light footwear than with heavy. L. L. Bean has some hiking shoes in wide that look plausible–do you have any thoughts about going oversized and double-socking to get even more cushion (I’ve yet to find a cushiony insole that’s cushiony enough, so I’m trying to pad via socks)?

      1. Park ranger*

        I have super wide feet myself and for outdoor gear I always buy men’s shoes/boots in a small size – they run wider and they’re always more comfortable and fit me better than women’s hiking boots/trail runners. (Although perhaps you are a man/already buy men’s shoes, in which case this is not at all helpful.) I worry about the going oversized thing, because if there’s extra space between your toes and the tip of the shoe, your toes are going to keep sliding forward and getting banged on downhills and it gets painful.

        1. fposte*

          Thanks! Yeah, I think I’m at a bit of impasse there, in that to get enough padding under my foot I need more space in the box. Some of my chosen socks are padded all around and not just on the sole so they will help fill, and I might also try heel cushions to fill in a little too, since like many my wide feet don’t have wide heels. (That’s my problem with men’s shoes, is that my heels pop out of them.) I may just have to resign myself to some experimentation to determine least worst.

          1. Park ranger*

            Man, I wish you luck! I hope you can find something comfortable!

            I mentioned this brand below too – they’re very expensive, and not lightweight – but Asolo boots have been the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. Maybe worth a try?

          2. WoodswomanWrites*

            Here are a couple suggestions. Try Hoka One hiking boots, well known for their thick cushion for sensitive feet. Like you I need a wide toebox. I’m the opposite in that I need a more support due to an arthritic toe, and I love my lightweight Vasque Breeze boots in the wide size. My heel stays put and they are comfortable right out of the box. Check the REI website and you’ll see dozens of positive reviews for both manufacturers. A great thing about REI is tha, you can return anything you buy and have used for a year and get a full refund.

      2. I take tea*

        I have wide feet too, as has my partner, and we’ve both had good luck with Meindl.

      3. Philodendron*

        If you can, absolutely go into an outdoors shop and ask for a boot fitting. I used to work in one (in the UK) and staff have a whole lot of expertise in assessing people’s feet; knowing their range and the particular attributes of different products; troubleshooting particular problems; advising on how to combine shoes/boots with particular socks, insoles, and so on; how to assess which footwear will be best for the particular activities you’re planning and the environments you’ll be in; and other factors too. When I was working there, if you gave me a set of parameters like you have I’d be able to come up with a shortlist of options that would likely work for you and guide you through what to check for as you tried them on. An experienced assistant can be invaluable. If they’re unable to find something that will work well for you in their range they should also be able to give you pointers to other brands or whatever.

        I haven’t worked there in a few years so my knowledge isn’t current enough to give recommendations – sorry!

    9. Jules of the River*

      What’s the youngest you’d take a child camping? I’m pregnant and camping trips are one of the things we’re going to miss when the baby comes along. I’ve been thinking that planning on a longer trip with an RV might be doable but I’m pretty unwilling to contemplate diapers + lack of running water.

      1. Park ranger*

        I just had my first baby a month ago and we’re planning her first tent camping trip for when she’s seven weeks old! (Although we’ll bail if overnight temps are predicted to be 80 or above because we don’t think we can keep her cool and comfortable enough.) We’ll be in a wooded campground near a beach with bathrooms that have flush toilets and running water reasonably close by. From what I’ve read and researched, I think the biggest limit for how early is too early is just up to YOU and when you feel physically and mentally ready – then also avoiding extreme temps and elevation until the babe is better able to regulate themselves. Check out the amazing Facebook group “Backpacking with Babies and Kids” for great advice.

      2. Jackalope*

        I’m told that my first camping trips were when I was under a year old. I was still little enough that my parents buckled me into my car seat to sleep and it was safe and normal and cozy for me. I would actually recommend something like that so the baby can get used to camping from an early age and it won’t be odd when they are older. I’ve stayed at campgrounds that have showers and bathrooms with running water, so I know it can be an option. It does limit the campground choices a bit but it’s totally doable.

      3. Fellow Traveller*

        I went car camping when my second was seven months old – it was at a campground with water and a bathhouse, so nothing too rustic. I feel like for me what made it challenging was the sleep – we had a travel crib that we put in the tent, but he didn’t like sleeping in that, and ended up in my sleeping bag. And the first night I tried to put him down at his regular bedtime and it was kind of disastrous. And then he was always up with the sun. If you have a backyard, I would suggest having a few back yard sleepovers in the tent just to see how it goes first. But other than the sleep, I found camping with a baby pretty easy since he wasn’t terribly mobile – he either hung out in the baby carrier with me, or sat on cloth on the ground and ate dirt. I just got back from camping with my 1 year old and that was much more difficult because she gets into everything so I had to watch her more carefully. Also, I will say, we often go camping with friends and that’s great because there is always someone willing to watch the baby for you, or as the kids grow older, they will go off an play together and you don’t have to worry about entertaining them.

      1. EngineerGal*

        Just rinsing with hot water and then leaving the top open to let it dry should be good enough.

        But if the bladder has gotten gross-moldy or something-throw it out and buy a new one. You can buy just the bladder.

        It’s impossible to really get the inside clean once it’s contaminated-was putting gatorade in my camelbak a good idea? No no it was not.

      2. Park ranger*

        Yeah – I agree, if it’s got a very strong funk or clear mold, time to replace, sadly.

        You can store it in the freezer for a bit after using it, to kill anything off (after you drip dry it for awhile.)

        REI has these recs but I have never done any of this… https:// www. rei. com/learn/expert-advice/how-to-clean-a-hydration-bladder.html

        Also, I often lay mine out in full sun to drip dry – my idea is that the UV kills things off, but it might also damage the plastic long-term. :-/

      3. Philodendron*

        Hot water. If you want to sterilise it, use Milton or similar – the kind of tablets that are used for baby bottles. Dry it hanging upside down with the mouth wedged open.

        1. Honoria, Dowager Duchess of Denver*

          Yes, Camlebak will try and sell you sterilisers that are so expensive, but baby bottle cleaners are just as good :)

    10. llamaswithouthats*

      Wow I was just thinking about this yesterday and you totally read my mind!

      I’m someone who wants to start hiking (I’m talking leisure type hikes not climbing). I could use all the beginners tips but I guess I will start with, what hiking gear should I get and where should I get it from? Specifically shoes because I suspect I don’t have them unless sneakers count!

      1. llamaswithouthats*

        Er I should have read the previous replies regarding the shoes and gear. Will pour over those now!

      2. Park ranger*

        Yassss hiking! Where in the world will you be mostly hiking? (Ecosystem/climate.) And what times of year?

      3. Jackalope*

        My favorite piece of non-shoe gear is my hiking backpack. I get them with waist straps like with the overnight backpacking backpacks so the weight can rest on my hips and that makes them a million times easier to wear and less tiring for my shoulders. Always take more water than you think you’ll need – I take two liters with me at minimum. I also have a tiny whistle I keep in my backpack all the time, a metal box with matches, and a small flashlight. A few years ago I got stuck on the trail overnight unexpectedly and we were really cold, so I keep a lightweight emergency blanket (one of the aluminum ones in a tiny plastic pouch), and also a tiny first aid kit (mostly bandaids and antiseptic wipes). I also keep a granola bar or two in my backpack all the time so I always have a bit of food. I get my gear from REI but you can go anywhere that has good quality stuff. Shoes and backpacks should be good quality; the other stuff it doesn’t matter as much. But try out your water bottles first to make sure they don’t leak at all before putting them on your bag.

        1. Jackalope*

          https://www.osprey.com/us/en/product/mira-32-MIRA32_126.html

          This is more or less the backpack I have (mine was from 7 years ago or so, so it’s a slightly different version). I have loved it. Two caveats: if you are a woman, get a pack made for women. It’s helpful in so many ways, including things like the chest strap being at a height that doesn’t hit you in the wrong place, and proportions that are better fitting. Also, for day hiking you don’t want a huge pack, but you’ll want more space than you think you do, so don’t go for tiny.

          1. I take tea*

            Go to a real shop, not online, to buy a backpack, when you have decided to buy a proper one. It can be used, no problem, but you need to try it out. Bring something heavy (as a bag of books) to get a feel for how it sits on your hips. In a proper outdoor speciality shop the staff can help to get all the straps adjusted, there’s a lot of them, not all obvious. I had owned my backpack for several years when I learned that you can adjust the height of the straps (hard to explain, but that is what the straps in the middle of the back are for). It made my backpack so much more balanced!

            1. Philodendron*

              Seconding going to an outdoor shop to get fitted! For a day pack it doesn’t matter so much, but for anything over about 30 litres it makes a really significant difference. As well as adjusting the straps on your particular pack (and explaining what they do), they’ll be able to identify ones from their range that will fit your body. Different packs fit different back lengths, frames, shoulder shapes, and so on. They also make the packs in different sizes – so the same one will come in small, medium and large to fit different bodies (don’t buy a pack from a brand like Osprey or Lowe Alpine pack without checking this!) Different bags also vary in how adjustable different elements are – some will have a more generous waist strap, for example.

              A good shop will also have weight bags, so you won’t have to bring your own, or will let you stick a tent or something in the pack while you try it on.

    11. Forensic13*

      Oh fantastic! I’m treating myself to good hiking boots once I get to a weight loss goal, and I’ve never actually bought good hiking boots. (I am a nervous, cheap buyer.). But I want to do it right if I’m going to do it at all. I have, annoyingly, small feet with narrow heels but relatively wide toes. Any suggestions for brands to try?

      1. Park ranger*

        Yes! What a fun treat! I’m not familiar enough with different brands to give you an expert answer, but my own feet are shaped like little swim paddles – wide toe boxes that narrow to the heels, so maybe we’re similar? I’m a woman but always buy men’s boots because they run wider and fit my foot shape better. The best hiking boots I’ve ever had were Asolos, which are stupidly expensive but lasted me for years (years in which backpacking heavily was my profession.) They were so, so comfortable, super strong and long-lasting, super waterproof. There is, however, the stupidly expensive part (although if you want something that you might not ever have to replace, literally, I think they might do the trick.) My current pair of boots are by Mammut, and are also very very comfortable, a little more affordable (although still pricey) and very sturdy/made to last. They don’t handle WET quite as well as the Asolos, but still do really well. These are both pretty heavy boots, and many people prefer something lighter weight. Merrell hiking boots are also super popular and recommended a lot. A lot of folks just buy a really nice pair of trail runner shoes – they don’t give ankle support and aren’t waterproof, but the idea is that they train your ankles to be stronger on their own pretty quickly, and they dry much faster (if the Asolos or Mammuts get wet on the inside, for example, they can take days to dry.) I wear trail runner shoes if I’m doing really long miles on low or medium rugged trails – I take the heavy duty boots for really rugged trails, long trips with fewer miles per day but a heavier pack, or when I was working (and might need to do some light trail work, etc.)

        My biggest piece of advice is just to try everything on – and when you try them on, walk a good chunk in them, including on steps and inclined surfaces. Don’t buy shoes/boots online!

      2. Philodendron*

        My go-to options for feet that shape are Salomon. I’m not sure how available they are in the US, though!

    12. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Do you have suggestions for a water purification system that’s reliable & lightweight that actually makes water taste good? We’ve had problems on trips (camping & otherwise) where taste of the local water kept me from drinking enough. And even after adding flavors I’d have issues. We tried bleaching the water in one particular western Pennsylvania camp, and then letting it sit overnight — and rust precipitated out. That can’t be good, so we switched to purchasing water in jugs. That would never work for hiking which I’m hoping to do more of!

      1. Park ranger*

        I’ve always used a water filtration system, rather than a chemical treatment or boiling, and I’ve never noticed a lingering flavor – but it’s possible you’re more sensitive to tastes than I am! A good <0.2 micron filter though should eliminate most flavors. I am a very big fan of gravity filters – gravity does the work for you! – but pump or squeeze filters work well too. What systems have you been using?

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Haven’t used anything really–we’ve always been at places with potable water source. But potable is not the same as ‘water I’m willing to drink enough of to stay hydrated in heat.” That trip we tried a household Brita filter and it couldn’t fix the flavor even though the reservoir turned red from the iron it removed.

    13. WoodswomanWrites*

      Former park ranger here. I just love this thread! Geeking out chatting about outdoor topics makes me very happy.

      1. Park ranger*

        : ) I’m so glad! Me too! Which parks did you work for? I worked in northern California for a season, then three years on Isle Royale, then a year in western Colorado – no longer a park ranger, but still working in an adjacent field and getting outside all the time.

        1. WoodswomanWrites*

          I was in the West and later worked for a nonprofit park partner. I still have my grey and green uniform and my flat hat, and I’m pretty seriously considering seeking out work as a seasonal when I eventually retire from full-time work. Like you, I’ve continued in an adjacent field. Connecting people to the natural world remains my passion.

          Isle Royale, what a place to be a ranger! I did a backpacking trip there once and it was an incredible place. I’d love to hear stories. Should you want to connect directly, you can check out my blog with the same name as my handle.

        2. Camelid coordinator*

          How great, Isle Royale was where we were planning to go next with kiddo (pre-pandemic). I hope we can go sometime before he graduates from high school in a few years.

          And on the question of how to start the kids in camping and backpacking, we took kiddo out in the backpack carrier when he was still a baby and encouraged a love of hiking and the woods when he was a toddler. I like to remind hubs and kiddo that the first time the kid slept in a tent was with me when I took him to a campground next to a kid’s amusement park (Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, in case you are curious). There were bathrooms, showers, a huge number of RVs, and four little tent sites. Definitely car camping! Maybe he was 6?

    14. I take tea*

      Thank you so much for this thread. How generous of you to offer!

      I’d like ideas for vegan food options for hiking, please. I feel like I’m a bit in a rut. Also, to make it complicated: no nightshades. That is tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell peppers and chili.

      1. Park ranger*

        Great challenge! I’m not sure if you mean lunches/snacks for day hikes, or meals for overnight/backpacking trips, but here are my go-tos that also meet your criteria – I don’t get particularly fancy though.

        Breakfasts: Instant oats with nuts and dried fruit, or instant grits with salt and pepper (could also add fake bacon bits)

        Lunches/Snacks: Obviously trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, carob m&ms, sesame sticks, whatever else you want to throw in there); fruit leather; dried mango and apricot; snap peas (reasonably lightweight, crunchy, last a couple days unrefrigerated); roasted and spiced chickpeas; clif bars with peanut butter on them; roasted edamame; pb&j on bread or tortilla; Somersaults crackers; dehydrated hummus that you can add water to on trail with crackers or the snap peas.

        Dinners: I usually make my backpacking meals out of things I find at ordinary grocery stores – e.g. instant rice/pasta meals that I add some dehydrated veggies or protein powder to; ramen or similar, bring some peanut butter and chili paste and more dehydrated veg to stir in; packets of Indian curries that you can just heat in boiling water; instant mashed potatoes combined with a dehydrated soup as “gravy”; tortillas with dried or dehydrated beans and instant spanish rice and little hot sauce packets from taco bell. Dehydrated veggies and protein powder or textured vegetable protein can be added to anything!

        1. I take tea*

          Thank you! Right now it’s mostly day trips, but hopefully there will be more longer trips again. I’ve usually gone with red lentils, they cook fast, but I needed more ideas :-)

  13. Something Blue*

    I’ve been clearing out stuff and looking through things I thought I needed to save, some were useful, many were not. So I was wondering:

    What do you wish you kept from earlier stages of your life? Or conversely, what did you keep and now wish you’d disposed of years ago?

    This can be anything from old medical records to your favorite toys from elementary school age!

    For example, I didn’t need to keep paycheck stubs from the 1990s.

    But I’m glad I found handwritten letters from a college friend.

    And I found my original Rubik’s cube that immediately fell apart when I tried to use it!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I found out that when I tossed out my old checkbook records I had totally lost any record of some life events, such as when we got our new pup or when I got that job at x place. I wish I had just made a little journal of each year. Even if I did not write down everything, I would remember odd stuff such as I bought a car the year I got the pup. I could link things together in odd ways and remember which years I did what thing.

      I also tossed a lot of income records. Now, 30 plus years later, my memory of what I earned and what we were working with at that time is no longer clear.

      For the most part, I am okay with what I have tossed out. Eh, I know I could not keep everything and I am happy with how things are now, so I think that makes a difference for me.

      1. Gray Lady*

        I didn’t keep up with it, but I used one of these for a while (link in next comment) and it would be a great way to record the big events without having to devote the energy of “keeping a diary”.

      2. Lifelong student*

        For the income records you can get a copy of your reported social security wages from the SSA. They are lifetime records. Of course this does not include things like investment income or other income not subject to social security. Fascinating information. I put mine into a spreadsheet and have done various analyses on them. Set up a MYSocialSecurity account on-line- easy-peasy.

        One thing I did was compare the amounts paid over my working years into social security and medicare to the benefits received. Eye opening amount of benefit!

        For income tax information- you can get transcripts from the IRS- I haven’t done this. I think this is more complicated.

      3. LD*

        I tossed all my old income tax returns after reading that you only need to keep about 7 years worth. I wish I’d kept the copies of the returns and just discarded all the supporting information. It would have been interesting to share how little I made in my early work life with the kids when they complain now about salaries! (Yes, I know, COL and no real wage growth, just interesting information.)

        1. Girasol*

          I’m not sorry I tossed the old tax returns. They were taking up too much space, and while it was fun glancing over the old ones and remembering when, I’m not sorry they’re gone. I took five or six bales of tax confetti from the paper shredder to the trash.

    2. twocents*

      It’s not so much my own stuff, but I’ve had a conversation with my parents that the bulky furniture they’ve been hauling around for generations is, at no point, making its way into my house. I genuinely do not understand the appeal of extremely heavy, but also oddly fragile, furniture that exists only to display stuff that you don’t want to actually use (given the fragile nature of the cabinet). Even the “it’s been in the family for generations!” thing is weird to me.

      I think I’ve gotten through to them, and even Mom conceded that selling it to someone who actually wants it is a better next phase of its life. We had a conversation earlier this week where I could see it dawning on her of “crap, now that my first disposal plan is out the window, how will I actually dispose of this thing?”

      1. Generic Name*

        Yeah, my mom totally see my and my sister’s houses as repositories for her old stuff. Erm I mean family heirlooms. The thing is both of our houses are already furnished with furniture that we like, and neither of us wants to ditch our comfy and modern sectionals for a wood and cream colored upholstery couch that has springs poking into your bottom when you sit on it. Or the rickety Victorian revival dining set with uncomfortable chairs. I love my mom and our family, but they are just things and the memory of the people doesn’t go away when the object goes away. I do like to keep old pictures, though.

        1. Windchime*

          My mom has this antique dining set that she wants one of us to have. It’s extremely formal and fancy, and it’s also delicate. The chairs are not sturdy and are definitely made for small, light people (not the hearty peasant stock that is my family). She has carted this thing around for years in the hopes that one of us will want it.

      2. WellRed*

        My mother is now mostly the opposite. After My dad died she started purging stuff they’ve had tucked away uselessly for years so I won’t have to deal . (She had been picking away at it but stepped it up). Of course, she brought my grandmother’s wedding China to me unannounced. Sigh.

      3. RussianInTexas*

        I’ve read that this is a big generational divide right now. The younger generations: X, millennials, and younger, don’t want their parents furniture, china, art, and consignment stores don’t want this stuff either, because no one is buying it.

        1. Nika*

          That means it will probably all be desirable in 30 to 40 years, lol. Just like the very clean lines 50s stuff is desirable now, but in the 80s and 90s everyone wanted to get rid of it.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            ^^This^^ I knew someone who after an early 1970s divorce bought the cheapest sturdiest secondhand furniture he could find for his new house. A couple decades later visitors were astounded at the houseful of priceless original-maker Mission style furniture. He was adorably smug.

    3. Generic Name*

      So my mother never throws anything away. She actually just brought boxes and boxes of old stuff to me and my sister with express instructions to not throw anything away. Sure mom. It was kind of fun to look through old letters and photos, but I definitely tossed a 40-year-old plastic bib and some ancient party streamers.

      I’m more the opposite. I tend to purge things. I did a massive, awesome, cathartic purge when my ex moved out. The most satisfying thing I purged was a huge box of hundreds of feet of coaxial and hdmi cable.

      I got rid of a pair of Tevas that I hadn’t worn for years that I sort of regret donating. I wish I still didn’t have my ex’s childhood bed, but we use it as a guest bed now. I do have a plan for offloading it in the near future, though.

      1. the cat's ass*

        I am the last living member of a family of people who didn’t throw much out, so it was liberating to sell that house and have a huge estate sale and watch happy people carry their treasures away! I kept a few pieces of art, family pix, jewelry that i liked. Everything else got ditched or donated. No regrets.
        I’m having a year sale next weekend at the house i’ve lived in for 25 years as part of a pre-retirement purge and after talking to my kids as to wether they want this thing or that thing. I don’t want them to have to spend the time and energy doing what i had to do.

      2. give it all away, just get it out of my house!*

        Oh boy, I feel you on the “ex purge” lol. I had very little left after getting rid of all the stuff that wasn’t my style, was weird (7 jars of noxzema that he kept purchasing despite no one in the house ever using that product???) or had unpleasant memories associated with it, but wow, was it a great space afterwards! :-D

    4. toes*

      I keep my first & last pair of pointe shoes. Haven’t used them in 40 years, but ballet was very important to me as a child, and they are not big bulky items. I have them on a bookshelf.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      I just recycled all my old essays, notebooks, etc from college and high school last year… I graduated more than a decade ago. They were in a box in my childhood house so it’s not like I’ve been hauling them around this whole time but jeeeeez.

      I’ve been going through other boxes at that house and discovered that the childhood toys I would’ve liked to keep did not fully overlap with the ones my parents wanted to keep. There are a few things I wish I could see again, but overall I’m finding that I’ll be getting rid of a lot of stuff they kept for decades, even ones I did really like, because I just don’t feel a strong need to hold onto them.

      The one thing I really miss is a specific letter from my mom when I graduated from high school. I know EXACTLY where it had been because I kept it separate from all my other cards and things, but my room got rearranged when I was in college and that’s the ONLY one that disappeared.

    6. RagingADHD*

      My mom and aunt both had tabletop, portable hood hair dryers from the 1950s or 60s. Now that my tween loooooves doing vintage hairstyles with pincurls, etc, I’d love to have one of those back.

      In my 20s I splurged on a pair of very nice handmade cowboy boots, and wore them enough that they fit like a glove. I honestly don’t remember whether they disappeared in a move or I deliberately got rid of them, but I have had many occasions when I missed them.

      I kept my Barbie dolls way too long. I carefully packed them up in my teens and stored them, and of course by the time I had kids I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of them being indoctrinated by Barbie and they weren’t really interested anyway.

      1. WellRed*

        Not Barbies but I was oddly pleased to discover my brother had kept all our original Star Wars figures (from when the first movie came out).

    7. Keepsakes*

      I wish I hadn’t held on to my wedding dress. When I got married, it was a big deal to have it cleaned and sealed in a box to “preserve” it. 20 years later I am not really sure why I did this, and what I thought I would do with it. I can’t look at the full dress because it’s in a box. I can’t wear it again. I had a son, not a daughter, so he won’t use it. I guess maybe I could try selling it, but I’m sure wedding dress styles are completely different now. I feel like it would have been better to sell it after the wedding so that it could have gotten another “life”. I feel like I got duped by the wedding industry.

      1. Whiskey on the rocks*

        Everything comes back around. When I wore my grandmother’s wedding dress, we took off the sleeves altered the neckline, and added loops to hold up the train. There is a shop in my town that tailors previously worn dresses for proms and weddings to resell very reasonably and does it beautifully. See if you have a place like that, if you’re ready to let it go?

      2. Generic Name*

        My mom recently sold my old wedding dress from 20 years ago. It was a big poofy ball gown with a beaded/sequined bodice and cap sleeves. She said the woman who bought it was elated to find it. I have no idea if she is going to upcycle it into another style or will wear it as is. Try to sell it and if you can’t, you can always donate it. A friend of mine bought an old wedding dress at goodwill and reconstructed it for her own wedding dress.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        If there are crafty people in your family, I have heard good things of using the old wedding dress in a quilt. Something people can use every day.

      4. Sleepless*

        I did the same thing, and I felt kind of dumb about it. My mother moved a few years ago and made me and my brother take every single item of ours that we had marooned at her house, so my box with my preserved wedding dress was firmly handed back to me.

        So I decided to commit the sacrilege, and I OPENED IT.

        And it was really great! I can’t fit into it any more (not even just weight gain; my ribcage was never the same after my second pregnancy and none of my fitted dresses from before then will ever zip up again) and my daughter even less so…but it was wonderful to see it! I remembered it being overly ornate and kind of cheap-looking. It was not. It was a bit more ornate than most dresses are now, but it didn’t look very dated. It was incredibly beautiful, high quality stuff. I kept looking at the beautiful beaded fabric. I still don’t think anybody will ever actually wear it, but it didn’t hurt anything to take it out and look at it.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I kept mine basically because I wasn’t sure what to do with it yet. It stayed in my parents’ house for 10 years before I finally claimed it and got it cleaned/stored. I still feel a little silly keeping it but it was nice after a decade to see it again and show it to my kids. However, the box they put it in is HUGE and they put it on a plastic torso with a window on the box so you can like… display a replica of your own upper body? It’s hilarious and creepy and I’m glad there is an outer box with no window because I would be regularly terrified of the headless legless ghost in my closet without it.

      5. Chauncy Gardener*

        SAME! And when I tried to donate it to various organizations, even though it was in pristine condition and not one of those out of fashion trendy 80’s styles, nobody wanted it.

        1. Windchime*

          I had been divorced for 10 years but was still hauling my bagged wedding dress around with me from one home to the next. Finally one day a truckload of kids from the high school came by and were collecting items for a yard sale/fund rasier and I donated it. It was super dated by then but I thought that maybe if they didn’t sell it, maybe the drama club would use it. At least I got rid of it.

      6. NoRegularPosterName*

        I was married in the 70s & did the same with my gown. It is sitting in my attic still. Neither of my daughters were interested in it. Not sure where it will end up when it’s time to purge.

      7. Something Blue*

        I’ve heard of fundraising events where people wore their wedding gowns or bridesmaids dresses to a ball. That always sounded like fun to me! Plus a second use of the gown.

        1. Zooey*

          I wore my wedding dress for my anniversary last year! It was lockdown so we weren’t going anywhere and I thought what the hell. It was a joy! I sat in our back yard in my full ball gown glory.

      8. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        For a reason I don’t know, my aunt kept her wedding veil hanging on the inside of the upstairs hall closet door. When I was little, I always liked seeing it when I opened that closet. On reflection, I’m not sure why you’d keep something you’ll never wear again in a practical spot where you’d normally hang your coat. But I find it oddly endearing in hindsight. Maybe my aunt liked to look at it, too.

      9. Owler*

        My teen and her friends want to be horror movie brides for Halloween, so we are starting to watch Goodwill for cheap dresses. I wish I could gather all of the wedding dresses you all are hoping to get rid of!

    8. Girasol*

      We downsized to a house half as big, not so much because we needed money as because I got tired of all the vacuuming and cleaning and painting and maintenance on that big old place. (That house owned me!) But stuff had accumulated to fill all the space, so it meant a lot of throwing out. I got rid of a lot of kitchen gear and furniture that I thought I couldn’t live without, my best school papers, souvenirs, favorite books, and tons of memorabilia that I looked at lovingly for one last time and then into the bin or donation box it went. That was hard. But it’s five years later and I don’t miss a bit of it. The few special items that I just couldn’t part with are hiding in various drawers but they haven’t been touched since we moved. I’m finally learning that memories are as good as memorabilia but they don’t take up space or need dusting.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I moved to another country at the age of 21, so I basically have nothing from “before”. I have some photos that I scanned, basic documents, and that’s about it.
      I’ve noticed over the years that I am not a sentimental person at all – I don’t display photos, don’t keep Christmas and birthday cards (I don’t send them either), and only keep records that are needed – medical, tax, financial.
      I am not a minimalist in general, and keep some travel keepsakes, but otherwise I am quite ruthless with stuff, much to my partner’s chagrin. We are currently in the stalemate over stuff displayed on the fridge. From Christmas of 2019!

    10. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Years ago I had a barbell set. We sold it before a move (we were going to live on base with a nice gym). Would have liked that during the pandemic!

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

      I kept the art supplies i bought in college for over 25 years, taking them with me at each move…prismacolor pencils, fancy acid free sketch books half used, charcoal, sketching pencil sets with different hardness leads, watercolor sets, paint brushes, clay sculpting tools, bulldog clips, french curves… I finally purged dried up marker sets and acrylic paints at my last move 5 years ago, but i still have my gray tackle box full of art supplies i haven’t used in decades.

    12. llamaswithouthats*

      This is specific but I’m glad I held onto books I liked when I was younger. Rereading them over last year was a really nice form of escapism.

      1. SarahKay*

        My grandma got rid of quite a lot of my Mum’s books when she thought Mum had grown out of them (the Chalet School series springs to mind), much to my dismay as I discovered various series growing up and had to buy / borrow them from the library rather than being able to read Mum’s old copies.
        As a result I wouldn’t let Mum throw away any of my books, and while I have now purged a number of the less-good ones, I’m delighted to still be able to reread the others, especially if I’m stressed and need a familiar easy read.

    13. Pocket Mouse*

      I keep all my IDs, library cards, membership cards, etc. I enjoyed looking at my dad’s old IDs when I was a kid so wanted to be able to share mine down the road. It’s tough at times to figure out how to get a new drivers license, for example, without surrendering my old one, but I think it’s cool to see teenage me on a card style that has since been changed and remember other things that happened the day that photo was taken.

      As part of this I’ve kept my old insurance cards, which came in handy recently.

    14. Might Be Spam*

      I was 12 when we moved and Dad told me to pack my toys. I packed my favorite toys first. When we got to the new house my toys were missing. Dad got rid of the boxes without telling us, because he decided that we packed our least favorites first. I still feel bitter that my stuffed black cat Chester is gone.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Similar story here … I was a clutterful kid and Mom told me whatever I left out might just get thrown out.
        But then she decided to purge shelving and got rid of toys “I never played with anyway.” She figured if it was never out, I never played with it — but those were exactly the things I cared about enough to put away every time. In the early days of ebay, one of my nieblings spotted something from one of those sets and got it for me for Christmas and I darned near cried. My mom was perplexed.

    15. matcha123*

      I wish I had my elementary school yearbooks in one place. It’d be nice to look at my growth over those five years.
      I also wish I’d held onto my paystubs from my first part-time job. I get a lot of people who think I’m lying when I tell them how old I was when I started working. Not hard labor, but a very typical job that kids do, which is weird.

      It would have been better to go through my stuffed animals and choose ones to keep, toss, or donate.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      I wish I’d kept all the rock band memorabilia I collected when I was younger. I have no idea what happened to it all. Now that I have a house where I have room to display it, I really wish I still had it.

      I don’t have much from my parents–just a few items, like a hutch, a desk my grandfather built, a German bayonet my grandfather had, and all the old family pictures. I really want to scan them all, but it’s a lot and I lost interest pretty fast. Oh and some Corningware baking dishes. One of my sisters, on the other hand, has a TON of stuff from my parents. Mom died in 2008 and Dad died in 2017. My sister moved in with him around 2015 and she’s a packrat. When it was time to clean out and sell the house, she wanted ALL the stuff, even though the place she was moving to was half the size of my parents house. She took most of it along, but, yeah, her house is absolutely packed.

      My husband wants almost nothing when his parents pass away, especially not the house (we think they’re borderline hoarders). The only thing he wants is his mom’s old Victrola. If there hadn’t been a fire a couple years ago, he would have wanted his baseball card collection, which numbered in the thousands. Also, his Army gear. But the fire destroyed it all.

  14. Mary Lynne*

    Yes! Wow, you popped up just in time!
    The end of October I am scheduled with a women’s adventure travel company to hike down into the Grand Canyon, and then back out again. I am 56, I am reasonably fit but have a lot of work to do. I’m trying to figure out what clothes to get. We are carrying 30 to 40 pounds each, and our personal gear needs to be light as possible. The guide says to plan on wearing the same clothes for four days, and layer because there can be temperature extremes. I will also need some thing for in the water, because we can get in the river when we get to the bottom. Also I have a $200 REI gift certificate to use, so I’d like to get good stuff. Right now I have decades of accumulated camping stuff from clearance or passed down from my sister. What is the minimum clothing you would bring for something like this, and then what Would you add if you could just get the perfect combination? Thank you so much!

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Most can usually figure out where the post was supposed to go! You’ll likely get some good suggestions still. Have fun!

  15. 2 cats, different diets*

    I will have to go back to the office in person a few days a week and I had some cat questions. I have 2 cats, and typically I would leave dry food for them during the day. However, one of my cats is having kidney issues so is supposed to only eat wet food; good thing is he likes wet food. My other cat however strongly prefers dry food. Is it feasible to just feed them in the morning and at night when I can control what each of them is eating? If I leave the dry food my cat with issues will eat it. I’m just a bit concerned about the long day with no food available. Perhaps someone has experience with this?

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        I have also fed 3-4 times a day: before leaving for work, return home from work, and before bed, with on wakeup as an option if needed but that can cause problems as they can decide to wake you up.

      2. curly sue*

        We just got one of these to keep the senior cat with allergy issues out of the food of the elderly cat with kidney issues, and it works very well. It took Kidney Cat a couple of days to get the hang of it, but now it’s just part of the routine.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You can totally feed them once or twice a day, though if they’ve been free-fed it may take them a bit to get used to it (so I would start now). Put it down for them, separated if necessary, and pick it up again after, mm, 15 minutes or so? Start by doing that maybe three or four times a day while you’re home, and then ratchet it back to morning and evening. But no, they’re not going to starve in one day :)

    2. Workerbee*

      We always fed our two cats just twice a day and they were perfectly fine; though I understand your concern about the different dietary needs.

    3. GraceC*

      My cats used to generally have three feedings per day – wet and dry when the household wakes up (first thing anyone does in the morning), then half a handful of dry food around the time the humans eat in the evening, and then another wet and dry around 10pm as people go to bed.

      After we lost both our older cats and realised the younger one had been gaining weight – we’d been feeding whenever the older ones demanded it* since they were old-skinny and we were keeping weight on them by any means possible – she got fed twice per day, early morning and then evening. She’s absolutely fine! We’ve never free-fed, and it’s never been an issue – we lost our older two at 17 and 21 respectively, and my girl now is about 13.

      The one bit of free-feeding we do let them have is a treat ball to roll around if they want a snack and are willing to work for it – although we put normal dry food in it rather than treats. That might be a chance for your dry-food lover to get a bit of a snack during the day, if you don’t think your kidney-issues cat will be motivated to go to the effort to get it.

      (*still not free-feeding in the sense of leaving dry food out during the day – just that if we were home and they were bugging us, we’d give them a bit of food)

    4. MCL*

      I am in the same boat. Kidney Cat gets a serving of wet food 3x per day, the other mostly eats dry from our auto feeder. Sometimes Kidney Cat eats some dry, sometimes the other will snack on a bit of wet food, but it’s all mostly going to the right place, so I’m not stressing. I add a few tablespoons of water to the wet so he gets more liquid, and his meals are early morning, late afternoon when I get home from work, and evening before bed.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Can you leave only wet food for both of them? The one with kidney issues won’t get the wrong food, and the one with the strong preference won’t starve whether or not he decides to try the wet food.

    6. Flower necklace*

      My cat eats mainly wet food, except for a little bit of dry at night. I’m a teacher, so during the school year he doesn’t get fed while I’m at work. I’ve been doing that for a few years and it hasn’t been an issue so far. He’s pretty adaptable.

    7. Come On Eileen*

      I feed twice a day and have for years with no ill effects. Each cat is different, but assuming you introduce meal times consistently and give them time to adjust, they’ll likely be just fine.

    8. Cookie D'oh*

      When I used to go into the office, I only fed my cats twice a day and they were fine. If I leave dry food, I have some chunky boys who don’t have any self control. My cats sleep a lot during the day.

    9. mreasy*

      I feed my cats in the morning before work and upon getting home. They will get used to the new system – just make sure they’re getting a reasonable amount of food.

  16. Movies!*

    What have people watched recently?

    I saw No Sudden Move last night. I loved everyone in it (Soderbergh always gets great casts), but it didn’t really make sense. I can usually follow plots pretty easily, but I was lost ten minutes in. GREAT production design, though.

    1. Dino*

      I also watched that and thought the same thing. Nonsensical twists and turns, but at least it’s kind of fun?

    2. GoryDetails*

      Am watching Carousel on TV – some nostalgia from when I first saw it, on the big screen, but also a lot of “what the ” regarding the abusive-relationship issues and how they’re handled.

      On HBO Max, I’m nearing the end of the Korean horror/mystery series Son: The Guest, in which a cab driver, a priest, and a police detective join forces to battle a demon that’s been causing a series of possessions and murders over the years. It has buddy-cop and even some comedy aspects, but for the most part it’s quite unnerving and involving, with the performances – from the main characters to the child actors – being excellent.

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh – I’ll put it on my list!

        In a similar vein – Beyond Evil just showed up on Netflix. It’s a Korean serial killer – small town – police show, and I found it excellent. So did a lot of other people, apparantly, because it won Best Drama (and Best Actor) at the 2021 Korean TV awards (Baeksang).

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Chinese Web series called “Guardian”. It’s an alternate modern world with non-human sentient peoples and various forms of magic. Mandarin with subtitles. Bromance alert, it’s a standing for the actual romantic interest that had to be eliminated to pass China’s censors.

    3. CatCat*

      We started watching Lupin on Netflix. It’s a French series about a man seeking justice for his father who was wrongly accused of a crime decades earlier. It’s got drama, but also a lot of fun as the man commits complicated heists and capers and employs disguises. His inspiration is a “gentleman thief” from French literature named Lupin. It’s actually made me want to brush up on my French after 20 years so maybe I could read those novels!

      1. Nessun*

        I’m in the middle of this! Great stuff – all the best elements of heist movie content but sooo much cooler (all of which I expected, given the source material).

    4. Fran Fine*

      I just watched the Fear Street movie on Netflix yesterday since I loved the book series as a kid. It was pretty decent (the opening was…unexpected – I don’t remember the books being quite so graphic), and it made me want to go back and re-read the series since I realized I don’t remember much of anything from it.

      1. Fran Fine*

        Oh, and I also watched Sex/Life on Netflix, which was a total waste of time. The cheating leads had no onscreen chemistry that I could see (so I wasn’t surprised when I learned they’re now together in real life) and there was barely a plot. Netflix is turning into Skinemax, and I’m not loving it.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      I am watching The Rookie. It’s a total propaganda for LAPD, but Nathan Fillion, so he is charming and funny. I am at the end of season 1, and it’s starting to slide in to the “too much drama”.
      Keeping up with Loki and The Bad Batch.

      1. Windchime*

        I found it terribly depressing, also. I’m still not sure what all the fuss was about.

    6. Kuododi*

      DH and I watched Liam Neesons Ice Road. Scenery was magnificent and the story was such every time a new character came into view I was wondering who would pull the gun and try to sabotage the mission next. Non stop tension and energy following the three trucks hauling critical equipment to rescue trapped miners at a Canadian diamond mine.
      Enjoy
      Kuododi

    7. I take tea*

      Re-watching Good Omens because Really Bloody Excellent Omens News on Neil Gaiman’s blog this week! I actually squealed.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      City of Ghosts on Netflix is a great short animated series ostensibly for kids, but adults will probably get the most out of it.

  17. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking? thread!
    What did you cook this week? What are you cooking for next week?
    I’m going through one of my phases where I don’t want to cook and I’m tired of eating (I still get hungry, but I just want to eat to fill the hunger, not really to enjoy the food). So, I don’t know what I’m cooking this week.

    1. balanceofthemis*

      Creole shrimp in the slow cooker, it was excellent, served over cauliflower rice.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oo, recipe? I tried a creole shrimp recipe a couple months back and even quadrupling the spices in the recipe, it was still too bland even for me who orders my spicy food at negative two stars, let alone my boys who keep a dozen varietals of hot sauce on hand.

    2. Beth_P*

      I spent an hour watching Linda Miller Nicholson (@SaltySeattle) do a red/white/blue ravioli demonstration yesterday. So I’m finally busting out her pasta cookbook and planning to spend a day trying to make natural colored pastas into pretty shapes! And then eating them of course ;) May mean I eat pasta all week though.

    3. HannahS*

      I tried smitten kitchen’s zucchini butter pasta, but made it with olive oil instead of butter. It was spectacularly good and so easy.
      I also love Japanese food, but there isn’t a solid restaurant in my neighbourhood for it. I can get most, but not all, of the ingredients that I need. My friend suggested substituting Chinese tofu puffs for aburaage, and I used them to made a version of inariage (the pockets for inari sushi). And after THAT I made kitsune udon with it. So satisfying! Just One Cookbook is my source for Japanese home cooking. Now, if I can figure out how to make those little fish cakes that go on udon…

    4. tab*

      I made a batch of Eatingwell Magazine’s Italian Pesto Chicken Salad. It’s delicious, light and refreshing. We have enough leftovers for another dinner or a couple of lunches.

    5. Girasol*

      We canned cherries yesterday and froze some in maple syrup. Currants are coming in this week and they’ll be going into jelly. For fourth of July I’m making a s’mores ice box cake with grahams, chocolate pudding, and vanilla whipped cream.

    6. Coenobita*

      I made a batch of commenter Mid’s frozen breakfast burritos (the recipe is posted in the June 12-13 open thread) and they ROCK. I have made and frozen burritos in the past but it never occurred to me to do a breakfast version despite the fact that eggs are basically my favorite food. I love them! Thanks, Mid!

    7. DonnaMartinGraduates!*

      We’re trying to reduce our meat intake, so I have been investigating vegan recipes.
      One really great one is Farro Salad:
      Cook farro on stovetop (Trader Joes has a 10-minute version)
      Meanwhile roast some grapes (any kind, but seedless is best and take off stems) and halved shallots (or red onion) on a low oven until lightly caramelized–about 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Keep an eye on the grapes as you don’t want them to burn.
      Toss everything with some baby spinach or greens. Dress with your fave dressing (I use Lemon balsamic from Nuvo Oil company.)
      Easy, delicious and filling!

      1. DonnaMartinGraduates!*

        p.s. Add some finely chopped fresh rosemary (or dried) to the farro while cooking.

    8. DonnaMartinGraduates!*

      Another suggestion — investigate a food service such as Purple Carrot (vegan). They deliver all the food in correct portions and then you cook it per their instructions–usually takes about 40 mins.
      We get the delivery once per month and it’s been fantastic for adding more vegan meals to our repertoire.

    9. Bucky Barnes*

      Broccoli rabe provolone melts! Soooo good. Boil the broccoli and then shock it. Sautée garlic in olive oil, add the broccoli, a little lemon juice and a bit of salt. Broil a couple of slices of buttered crusty bread, flipping until they get toasty. Add the broccoli mixture to each, cover with a slice of provolone and broil for another minute or two. Delish!

    10. Seeking Second Childhood*

      We precooked a lot of Italian sausage in the InstantPot this week and have been using that as fast protein in other dishes. Last night I learned that you can boil pasta on the Sautee setting. Before it was totally cooked, I drained most of the water. Added loose frozen spinach, sliced sausage, shredded mozzarella, and spaghetti sauce. Put it back on low and it was getting nowhere; raised it to high & it stuck to the bottom–but tasted really good so will try again.

  18. Some Saturday*

    TW suicide attempt, addiction issues in my daughter. I’ll post more in the comments.

    1. Some Saturday*

      Hey all, I’m realizing I am struggling and will reach out to my therapist. But part of the problem is that I don’t feel she “gets” how deeply affected I am by my daughter’s suicide attempt and ongoing mental health and addiction issues. I feel like I could use a group meeting/community of other parents who are going through similar issues and I haven’t been able to find anything.

      In September my 17 year old daughter attempted suicide by overdosing on medication. She told me however, and we got her to the hospital in time to save her. This event uncovered the depression, anxiety and synthetic marijuana addiction that she had been struggling with.

      Things started out promisingly (even though it was hell to go through) with her in an inpatient program for a few days and then intensive outpatient. She stopped smoking and was clean when she completed the program. However. Since then she has started smoking again, isn’t taking care of herself, her room is full of dirty dishes and trash everywhere, has lost all her friends. I can’t express the heartbreak of seeing her like this. 

      On the flip side, she has been able to graduate and apply – and get in to  – many colleges. She is planning to go to college in the fall. She says she  is working with her therapist to stop smoking again. We are working with a psychiatrist to get her medications dialed in. So, there is hope.

      If anyone knows of any groups for parents, I would appreciate the information. Many that I had found (through NAMI, etc) have been put on hold due to the pandemic.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin*

        Since there are some substance-abuse issues here, maybe try Alanon or Naranon, even though they are not exclusively for parents? They have a bunch of zoom meetings, and you will very likely find parents there who can relate to your struggle over a child who is hurting and who can support you in taking care of yourself well in this difficult situation. Good luck, and hang in there! <3

        1. Squirrel Nutkin*

          Another thought — the college where she winds up going likely has some student mental-health services/support groups available. You can’t really nag her into going, but you can mention that those resources are available if she wants them.

          1. Some Saturday*

            Thank you @Squirrel Nutkin – good recommendations and thanks for your kind thoughts!

      2. Wishing You Well*

        Try the (U.S.) National Suicide Hotline, suicidepreventionlifeline dot org, at 800-273-8255.
        They should have all sorts of good recommendations for you. Make sure to take care of yourself, too. You can’t help your daughter if you’re exhausted, too.
        Interhugs, if you want them.

  19. Green Octopus*

    I’m having a weird thing occur, and I’m wondering if anyone else is experiencing this. Maybe it’s a pandemic thing?

    My brain seems to be pulling up more embarrassing memories than it used to. Like, sometimes everyone has those moments where they’re trying to fall asleep when some random incident from the 4th grade pops up and makes them cringe. But in the past few months, it’s seemed to become more common in my brain.

    To be clear, it’s not really interfering with anything. I’m not looking for medical-grade advice. I’m pretty happy day-to-day, my relationships are going well, my career is going well, etc. “See a therapist” might be a good thing to do, but it’s not something I’m going to bother with.

    I wonder if this is some knock-off effect of the pandemic. I’m no longer so stressed about the pandemic itself (since we have a vaccine, and I’ve been able to see my family after over a year), or politics, or the market. But things aren’t normal yet – I’m not socializing with people a ton, I’m not working in the office, I’m not making new memories at pre-pandemic rates yet.

    Maybe my brain is just trying to analyze *something*, and this is all it can latch on to? Anyone else experiencing something similar?

    1. llamaswithouthats*

      I think it’s a pandemic thing. I was one of the people who was very socially isolated during the pandemic and one of the side effects of the lack of social stimulation was my brain started accessing very obscure memories! It was a combination of positive and negative memories (like shame/cringe memories). I also got more intrusive thoughts. Usually the types of memories that popped up aligned with my mood at the time, so if you have residual stress and anxiety it makes sense you get more negative memories.

    2. Not A Manager*

      YES! I was thinking of posting on here about this very thing. I’ve been remembering a number of cringeworthy events in my life, but one in particular is popping up with such regularity that it’s intrusive. I’m not going to see a therapist for this one issue, but it’s super weird.

    3. Querious*

      Your theory about the brain wanting to latch on to something is a good one. Beyond not having new memories to be weird about, consider these old memories are also a handy brain distraction. Your brain may have created an anxiety outlet to fuss over so you don’t notice the bigger pandemic and politics stuff. My brain loooooves to torture me with stuff like body image and old memories when there are harder, more important things that I really should be looking at but don’t want to.

    4. German Girl*

      Absolutely! It happened to me too during the lockdowns. Thankfully my brain is mostly back to normal now that everything is opening back up.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes this stuff happens because we have reached safety. From a safe space it is okay to look back at these things to revisit and reframe them in our mind’s eye.

      Using the 4th grade example, Young You would cringe definitely. But how does Adult You think about this situation now? Don’t answer here- but one thing to think about is how you handle things differently now that you are older. Personally, I do stuff that helps avoid some embarrassing stuff that can happen. And in other cases, I have realized that true adults will accept my apology when I offer it. Many things have changed since those days.

    6. Wishing You Well*

      Yup, I have this. It’s normal.
      If you have just a touch of OCD, it’s common for useless memories to crop up, especially when under extra stress. I dismiss the thoughts with a wave. (There’s nothing to analyze.) It’s also common for this is happen when you’re trying to fall asleep. I recommend daily de-stressing activities and having good “sleep hygiene”.
      Your thought about making NEW memories is wonderful! I hope we all can get out there again and make some great ones!

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

      I’ve had this happen even pre-pandemic when something about the memory is triggered by something current. So when I’m stressed about my current work, for instance, i suddenly remember all the frustrating or embarrassing things that happened in my first job when I was a teenager, and play them over and over, until I consciously acknowledge and process the current situation. If you’re remembering something embarrassing from childhood, it could be current feelings of helplessness, frustration, or embarrassment are in play.

    8. allathian*

      Yes, when the pandemic was at its worst, I didn’t have this problem, but now that things are opening up again and I’ll get my 2nd shot in 3 weeks, I’ve had something similar happen. It’s not so much intrusive thoughts in my case, but rather unusually vivid dreams, and specifically dreams that take me back to some embarrassing or humiliating incidents in my past.

      For me it’s just something odd to note, rather than anxiety-inducing.

    9. Seeking Second Childhood*

      A friend was looking into sensory deprivation chambers which seem to do something similar but more intensely. I’m just claustrophobic enough that I cut the conversation short–but there might be articles worth reading.

      1. allathian*

        Ouch, I would nope right out of that one.

        I’m somewhat claustrophobic, I hate crowds, and I’m not overly fond of heights either. My worst nightmare would be being stuck in a crowded scenic elevator on a high-rise building.

    10. Tib*

      My brain does this a lot, but for me it’s a long-term symptom of my diagnosed anxiety disorders. It tends to center around my wanting to be liked and feeling like I’m socially awkward which would cause people to not like me. And there are also some themes they tend to center around. I assign these thoughts to brain trolls. I like the association with angry people who write mean messages on the internet and I like to tell my self to not feed the trolls. I also sometimes mentally yell at them or scold them like a bad dog, which is surprisingly helpful.

      I wonder if your body has become accustomed to the chemical signature of stress and now that the outside sources are diminishing, it’s trying to create it’s own. Sort of like when grocery stores ran out of yeast and people started making their own sourdough starters. How do you react to these thoughts? Is there a theme behind which events you remember and when? Do you feel anxious about returning to a ‘normal’ level of socialization? The best things to do are don’t try to stop the memories when they’re occurring, and don’t feel like you have to take them seriously. It also helps to fill your day with good chemicals like the ones you get from meditation and exercise. These memories are just thoughts. You can read a broader meaning into them if you want and try to address that. But you can also just let them pass.

    11. Green Octopus*

      Thanks for all the replies, folks! I’m glad that this is in line with other people’s experiences.

      To respond to some of the comments below: I do think I tend to be on the more obsessive side (not clinically OCD, just a little more obsessive than average on the personality spectrum). I do think sleep and stress are involved, and I also think the *lack* of stress (after being so used to stress for so long!) is involved. As Tib said, I don’t feel like I have to take the thoughts seriously. This has mostly been an interesting observation (slightly concerning, but only slightly).

      It sounds like the events of 2020 have left a lot of people’s brains a bit out of sorts, so I’ll chalk it up to that, and wish us all a speedy back-to-normal!

    12. Cj*

      It’s so bizarre that you bring this up, because just last night as I was trying to fall back asleep the same thing kept happening to me. Something would cross my mind and my stomach would drop and face flush like it just happened and I was embarrassed by it.

      I’m under a lot of stress right now dealing with my father-in-law going to a nursing home and trying to get him on Medicaid and getting everything out of his house that has been sold in two weeks from now. I have no idea what that would have to do with old memories, though, since it’s not my childhood home.

  20. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    My garden is doing really well! I ate a few potatoes yesterday, and raspberries. There are piles of green tomatoes and some tomatillos. The peas are starting to grow well. I built another raised bed yesterday, for more tomato seedlings that I hadn’t yet planted. Feels good to be outdoors these days, as I have a big tree for shade.

    1. Allie*

      I’m trying to net my blueberries because the birds are leaving me none. I had a different bet before but I took it off after a bird got stuck in it. I’m trying a different net (mesh).

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      my dahlias and gladiolus are blooming, so I have these tall spikes of orange in my front yard!! The tomatoes are laden with green, though we had to remove about half the Romas because some of them were turning kinda yellow-orange and half-rotted on the vine. We had a mess of Japanese beetles on my raspberry bushes last week, but they seem to have moved on I guess, I put up beetle traps and now I don’t have beetles either in the trap or on the bushes, which is a-ok by me. Last night, my brother-in-law randomly brought me a big clay pot full of sedum. It looks super healthy, so I’m going to leave it as is for now – I have a different sedum variant in my front garden already, so the pot will look nice on the porch or I may set it down into an angle of the garden maybe.

      I sent a friend cuttings of my Purple Heart tradescantia last weekend – started them rooting in water a couple weeks ago, then wrapped the root ends in damp paper towel and plastic for the mailing. They were delayed by a couple days, and I kept saying “it’s fine, tradescantia thrive on neglect,” and when she finally got them and unwrapped them last night, the darn thing had literally grown its roots INTO the still-damp paper towel and was looking perfectly healthy, haha.

    3. Choggy*

      Sounds like your gardening is paying off! I just have to ask, what *is* a tomatillo and how do you use them in cooking?

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Salsa verde!

        Tomatillos look sorta like a green tomato but are covered with a husk.

      2. Venus*

        I asked that myself on this page a week or two ago! They are a more sour / acidic version of a tomato, and are good in salads and salsas. I’m not a big fan of salsas, and I grew the tomatillos as a friend gave them to me, so it will be a learning experience…

    4. BlueWolf*

      My cherry tomatoes have started ripening! Also, the plants are about 7 or 8 ft tall and branching out all over so I had to spend some time yesterday trying to corral them a bit. There are probably hundreds of little green tomatoes. I planted too many plants, so I’m definitely going to be roasting and freezing like crazy and probably giving some away.

      1. Venus*

        I’m jealous! Mine are 2 feet high and I thought that was good.

        Feel free to give extras to friends and family, but if you are struggling with too many veggies then you can always ask your food bank if they take local produce. Ours does, and it is an easy way to rehome what you don’t need. I know some people complain and worry about too much zucchini, and my response is that there is a group that would be excited to help you :)

    5. Teapot Translator*

      Some of my geraniums are doing really great. Some of them are not. And some of them have just given up because they’ve been overrun by another plan (a pretty plant, but still). My garden is a mystery to me!

    6. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I planted a tomatillo this year for the first time. Any tips? I’m not sure how to tell when they are ready to harvest. I only have one fruit so far but lots of flowers.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re tomatillos: wait until they’ve filled out the husks, ideally making the husks split. But you might want to get a second plant if you can – from all I’ve read, they don’t self-pollinate well. (You could try hand-pollinating your flowers to see if that helps.) If they don’t pollinate, you’ll see the husks but the actual fruits won’t grow.

        1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

          Thanks for the tip – I will have to see if the nursery still has any in stock

      2. Venus*

        I read the same about tomatillos, so I got two of them. One plant is doing really well, and the other is struggling, but at least the second one has flowers so it is doing a good job of helping pollinate the healthier plant.

        I asked the same question of my friend who gave me the plants, and it was the same as GoryDetails. Wait until the husks dry and split a bit.

    7. Llellayena*

      My peppers are starting to turn orange! I harvested one and there are two more with orange streaks. They should be good to go in about 2 days.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Southern NH: just got out of a heat wave (not as bad as the ones in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, but still very hot) and am now in the middle of a cold and rainy weekend. My tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant have been loving the weather, with fruits setting on all of them and a couple of the early tomatoes starting to ripen (which means I need to wrap the plants with chicken wire before the chipmunks start “sampling” the fruit).

      Cucumbers, okra, summer squash and Swiss chard are also trucking along, though thanks to the placement of the garden and some fast-growing trees they don’t get quite as much sun as the main veggie planters do.

      Perennials: my swamp azalea bloomed – too quickly, thanks I think to the heat wave – and I almost missed my chance to enjoy the fragrant blossoms. Day lilies are kicking in, though, a lovely note of color, and more or less immune to dramatic swings in temperature.

      Alas, the weeds and vines are also immune to the weather, and are happily devouring my side yard, and between the heat and the rain I haven’t been able to get out and deal with them. Should have scheduled a massive yard-clearing before now… ah, well!

    9. CatCat*

      Lots of flowers on the tomatoes, but no tomatoes yet. Squash flowers galore and now squash are appearing practically overnight. We’ll be ready to harvest the first one soon (my first EVER) and it looks like harvest the next one million shortly thereafter.

      One of the bell peppers has got peppers coming in, the other is just about to flower.

      Our lemongrass is getting big and I’m going to make some lemongrass tea from it.

      The most pathetic jalapeño plant in all the land has a flower so cross your fingers. The plant has stayed really small and then a caterpillar got to a bunch of the leaves. It’s still hanging in in there though.

      1. Venus*

        Sometimes tomatoes have trouble pollinating on their own, so if you have had flowers dry up without getting tomatoes then give them a little shake, as they pollinate with vibration. A friend told me that the best thing is to take an electric toothbrush and hold it against each stem for a few seconds.

        1. WellRed*

          I’m not an experienced tomato grower. Just bought a plant. Should I buy it a friend?

          1. Venus*

            Tomatillos (very different plant) need a friend. Tomatoes are fine on their own! It’s likely that the tomatoes are just a bit slow in blooming, and if the squash are growing well then you likely have all the pollinators that you need.

            If anything I might give your tomato plant a few (5?) tiny shakes back and forth, just to get maximum pollination, but it’s really not critical. You will likely be overwhelmed with tomatoes soon without trying!

    10. Girasol*

      The veggies are coming along nicely – beans, tomatoes, eggplant, melons, squash, beets, carrots, potatoes – but the corn is dry and tasseling out at three feet high and a month too soon. It’s unseasonably hot and no amount of water seems to help. But it seems like every year there’s one dependably productive veggie that just gives up, and it’s always a surprise which one it will be. We’ll get plenty of everything else so it’s okay.

    11. Campfire Raccoon*

      My garden is mostly dead until monsoon season. I’ve ripped out the big garden and will probably need to rent a backhoe to get through the caliche/dig in a few tons of mulch and manure. (The big garden is on a previously neglected plot of land.) The smaller gardens are drowning under the crab grass, but they’re under shade cloths. I’ve decided to count the grass as mulch. I usually get a good ratio of pepper plants that over-summer under the grass and then produce fruit all winter.

      I spent an hour this morning putting part the old compost on top of the new compost. The new pile is mostly corn stalks and horse turds. It’s SO hot and dry I’ve got to water it and seal in the moisture if I want it to cook down by October 1st planting. I may spend some time today cleaning off the plant-starting rack, sanitizing seedling soil, and prepping for my 7/15 seed-starting date. It’s all prep work for the next few weeks, I’m afraid.

      1. Campfire Raccoon*

        I should say that I am getting peppers, eggplants, some cukes, and luffas – but not much survives the extreme heat. My herb garden is chugging along under the shade cloths, but now that I’ve mentioned it, I’ve probably doomed them all.

    12. German Girl*

      I have a super small garden but I have 20 rose bushes instead of a fence and this year they’re absolutely brilliant. I thought I’d killed them all when we had -20°C the weekend after I had pruned them, but they all survived and have been in full bloom for the last four weeks – and there are at least 60 new rosebuds on them, too.

    13. allathian*

      I’ve picked the first wild strawberries that I wrote about last week. They’re delicious. Unfortunately our blueberry plants have no berries, although they did flower in the spring.

    14. Seeking Second Childhood*

      The slug war has begun. I thought we were going to have less of a problem this year, but then we had a week of rain.
      The raspberries are loving it, but unfortunately so are the slugs.
      I have true lilies in bloom for the first time in years. A few wildflowers came up in the pot that I didn’t know had viable bulbs in it. The ones in the garden, not so good. One of them, I had abandoned out by the ‘projects I may never get to’ and are climbing up to sit in a cast iron chair to be restored.
      We have figs forming on a couple of the little trees!

    15. Pam*

      My sister’s tomatoes covered the kitchen table. So far, we have had bruschetta, tomato sandwiches, lots of tomato/cucumber salads, and we just made the feta/tomato pasta sauce. Plus, of course, lots of tomato snacking.

      The next harvest may become salsa and jam.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    A PSA for anyone who’s moving: don’t forget to forward your mail! And change your address where applicable, especially for important things! I’m just annoyed because we keep getting mail– time-sensitive, official mail– for the people who previously occupied our apartment. When we first moved in, the mailbox was stuffed with their bills, letters, and even something that was probably an important certificate or diploma. Yet apparently they never set up forwarding nor bothered to call building management and make arrangements to get their stuff.

    This happened in our last city because our landlord also failed to forward his mail, but at least I could tell him we had it. He was kind of… not bright, so I just rolled my eyes and gave the stuff to our mail carrier. Now I’m starting to think people don’t know this is a thing you can do that, in the US, takes two minutes and one dollar online and two minutes and no money in person.

    I know the USPS is full of issues right now, and my forwarded mail has taken forever to get to me, but at least I’m getting it and it’s not clogging someone else’s mailbox.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      We wound up having to sue the sellers of our first house, they were really shady. So when their mail showed up for years afterwards, I just wrote “no such addressee” on their mail and dropped it in a mailbox. That is, if I didn’t just “accidentally” think it was junk mail for me and dump it in the recycle bin. So don’t forget to forward your mail AND do observe Wheaton’s Law. ;)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          It’s an apartment, so the mail carrier goes by unit, and it’s one of those big blocks of boxes. Not worth it to bother, and she’s busy enough that I don’t think she’d notice and I wouldn’t blame her.

          1. AcademiaNut*

            Is the carrier actually allowed to not deliver mail based on the name on the envelope? That seems a bit dicey – you could get mail addressed to your maiden name, or a nickname, or a visitor, and have it not delivered.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              She delivers by unit, so as long as the unit number is on the envelope, I get the mail. That’s the case with all mail– it gets delivered by address. This is the root of my annoyance, that she delivers even though these people don’t live at my address. She’s doing her job– the former tenants are not.

        2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          In my experience, putting our names on the mailbox helped with getting our own mail (especially when we lived in a large apartment building), but we still get other people’s. The letter carriers treat the names on the box as “Gollux and Zorn live here,” but not as “only Gollux and Zorn live here, take mail for other people back to the post office.”

          1. Observer*

            The letter carriers treat the names on the box as “Gollux and Zorn live here,” but not as “only Gollux and Zorn live here, take mail for other people back to the post office.”

            Which is the right way to handle it. The problem Avon Lady is having has nothing to do with the mail carriers, but with the prior tenant and possibly the post office.

        3. Generic Name*

          This only helps to an extent. I’ve also noticed that our regular carrier knows who lives here, but if there’s a sub we’ll get former resident’s mail.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Definitely make sure to change your address with places. I think most know you can forward, but then forget to update (forwarding only lasts a year I believe). The previous owners of our house forwarded, but we still get some of their stuff a few years later from places they didn’t update their address with.

    3. Liane*

      You may have problems if yours is a new address for the USPS. In January we moved onto property belonging to Husband’s family, which never had an actual address although other places on this road did. (Very rural area and before we put our mobile home on it in December, there hadn’t been a house there for decades.) Back in November 2020, in preparation for our move, Husband got an address from the County 911 head, the procedure here, and turned in USPS change of address form. Local post office, utility providers, county assessors, Amazon, UPS – none of them have had trouble with using the address. BUT only in the last month – 6 months post-move! – has it made it into the USPS databases, causing problems. Nothing has been forwarded from old address, ever. Plus the issuer of a card I’d had for years stopped allowing purchases or transfers because my updated address “couldn’t be confirmed with USPS.” Yes, they still took payments :p

    4. lemon meringue*

      Is mail forwarding really free in the US? In Canada, you have to pay something like $60 for the first 4 months, more if you’re moving out of province. I always assume that’s why not everyone does it.

      1. zyx*

        Yup, in the US it’s free if you fill out a physical form at a post office or $1.05 if you submit online.

      2. Anono-me*

        It is free in person at the USPS and a $1 online for identification purposes. (Lots of scam companies will gladly file the forwarding forms for you for a measly $50 or $75)

    5. Clisby*

      We still get mail addressed to people who lived in our house 20 years ago. I just toss it.

      On the more benign front, we sometimes get mail really intended for students or faculty at the college down the street. It’s usually pretty obvious who it was meant for, and I deliver it to their post office.

      1. Clisby*

        Although, once it was a wide-screen TV. I was out, and my son texted me in astonishment to ask, “Did Dad buy us a TV?”

        I responded, “That sounds nothing like your father.”

        When I got home, I figured out it really was intended for a new volleyball coach at the nearby college, and he came to pick it up.

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

      If it’s an apartment, can you hand it off to management? That’s what I’ve always done at apartment complexes I’ve lived in. The next thing is to keep writing, “return to sender” and dropping it back it the outgoing mail. The post office probably won’t update their records, but the sender might.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        We do! Hasn’t made much of a difference, I’m afraid. I think management even got in touch with these people, but I still get all of their brokerage-related and alumni mail, among other things.

    7. Rara Avis*

      We’re two years in and still getting mail for former residents. (The renters before the renters before us, so they moved more than three years ago.). Tried a note on the mailbox, but our mail carrier said they weren’t allowed to not deliver. I finally called the local high school to say their truancy letters weren’t getting to the kid’s parents and could they please call her into the office and ask her where she lived. Several people mentioned tossing mail -I think that’s technically illegal, so we dutifully mark “unknown/return to sender.” We did learn that they won’t take magazines back, so I called the magazines and had the subscriptions cancelled.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      Before we actually moved out and moved in to the new house, my husband had set up mail forwarding. Really easy process.

      When we moved in, we occasionally got mail for hte previous owner. Once, a huge box from Amazon came and he drove all the way here to come get it. He was really apologetic and nice about it though, and I told him how to change his address on amazon.

      Honestly, if it’s been months and time sensitive things keep coming and attempts were made to reach them and they didn’t act, I’d just put them with the junk mail and discard them. It’s their responsibility to get their mail, not mine to chase after them.

      1. Potatoes gonna potate*

        Well nevermind after the comment above mine, I had to google this — I’ve always known that opening someone’s mail is illegal but I did not know that tossing/destroying it is illegal as well. That’s…..bananas.

        1. Observer*

          Well, it’s easy enough to mark it “return to sender” or “no such person here” and put it with outgoing mail.

    9. Marion Ravenwood*

      I’ve been in my flat for four and a half months now, and I still get mail not only for the previous owners, but also for people who lived here before them. I’d say most of what I get is junk mail but occasionally things that look important (though I never open them because that’s illegal).

      What always baffles me is there doesn’t seem to be a way for me to stop it. I write ‘not known at this address – please return to sender’ on the envelopes and stick them back in the postbox, but still keep getting the letters. Part of me is occasionally tempted to open the envelopes, ring the companies up and say ‘look X doesn’t live here any more, please take them off your lists’ – I don’t because of the legal reasons, and the letters aren’t frequent enough to be more than a minor annoyance, but I can’t help feeling it might be more effective.

    10. Esmeralda*

      We still get mail from the person who owned our house before the people we bought it from. And not just junk mail! She lived here 28 years ago.

  22. Not My Picnic*

    I’m a new transplant to the Southern US and have ants in my home. I’m told this is typical of southern summers: the temperature rises, the ants come out! Anyone have effective, natural remedies? I don’t want to use chemical pesticides. I keep a very clean house, have tried sealing cracks, etc. but to no avail. Thanks for any suggestions!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Terro. You’ll see MORE ants at first, but they’re bringing the poison back to their anthill. I wish there were a better way, but as you’ve seen, nothing else really works. It’s just sugar water and borax, which is pretty harmless and you would have to drink bottles of it for it to be toxic (and you only need a few drops to get rid of each colony).

    2. Ant queen*

      Google how to make a vinegar spray. And the Terro ant baits are often effective, but idk if that meets you preference for non-chemical. I discovered that the all purpose cleaning spray from Trader Joe’s kills my ants upon impact, so I spent a few days spraying and wiping up with paper towels. Also ensure you’re not leaving dishes in the sink, crumbs on the counter, standing water splashed about- tricky to do when life is busy and everyone’s in the kitchen all the time but essential for easy cleaning and removing anything the ants would be looking for (food/water). Good luck!

      (Honestly though, I spray Raid outside the doors and windows where I see the ants coming in, and the ant hill if I can find it, but only where the pets can’t get harmed.)

    3. Holly the spa pro*

      Calcium carbonate, lavender oil, or cayenne pepper used around entry points. Those things dont kill the ants but they hate the smell or it confuses their smell. Straight white vinegar will kill ants so you can spray their hills as well.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Another vote for Terro! Put them everywhere, including on the counters. Don’t bother with other baits or traps. I clean only with vinegar anyway, but it wasn’t enough to keep the ants completely away.

      Weirdly, the absolute best thing that worked for us was leaving on vacation for a week. Plus Terro. :-) We moved to the south, into an old house, had never seen anything like it.

      1. fposte*

        If you have the option to put the Terro bait just *outside* of where the ants enter the house, that’s even better.

    5. llamaswithouthats*

      Coffee and lemon helps, but on some level you have to get used to the ants I think haha. Start keeping your sugar bowl and other sweets in the fridge.

      1. Admiral Thrown Rocks the Blue*

        I live in Florida. I keep it all in the fridge. Either it’s ants, and/or items go bad quickly from humidity.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I’d recommend Terro or the diy version (borax and sugar). I also find that cleaning with formulas that have real mint in them seems to discourage creepie crawlies more than other smells.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Also, frankly, you may need an exterior perimeter spray. I know you want to avoid insecticides, but there’s only so much you can do without them. I draw the line at palmetto bugs.

    7. Ali G*

      We have a similar problem. I put down Diotomaceous Earth for a few days and then just clean it up. I have to do this a few times a year.
      I don’t like the poison traps because then you kill the nest (which isn’t in your house). Ants are beneficial to the environment (unless they are fire ants – then have at it) and I prefer to not kill the entire nest, just the ones that come in so they don’t get their friends to join them. If the ants that get into your house don’t find anything to eat and die and can’t alert their friends, more ants won’t come.

    8. Redhairedrunner*

      If you know where they are coming in peppermint oil works great. Just put a few drops where you see them coming from. Lasts about 12 hours. Do be care if you have pets though as essential oils can be very irritating/toxic to them.

    9. CatCat*

      I know you don’t want to use chemical pesticides, but having fought this battle myself, Terro baits are the only way to go. Solved the problem in less than a week after my months at attempts to block entry and use things like diatomaceious earth and wiping them up with vinegar spray.

    10. Girasol*

      They tend to quit using any ant trail that’s wiped down with full strength pine ammonia.

    11. Laura H.*

      Just because it’s a house and region new to you, I’d get an exterminator or pest control out for an all over home inspection- there may be other types of bugs that you’re unaware of beyond the ants.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I had this problem last year and tried a whole bunch of different things. I tried Terro and and Borax and there would be trails of dead ants, but more would keep coming back. Although I hate using chemicals, I finally broke down and bought and used “Ortho Home Defense” which I sprayed around the edges of my linoleum-covered kitchen floor. (Just the kitchen, because that’s where the main problem was, although there were a few ants in the adjacent living room and even a couple in the bathroom that buts up against the kitchen.)

      There was some odor, so I opened the windows in my house and it quickly dissipated. It dried quickly and left no residue. And after that, no problems. I washed the floor as usual about a week later. That was last year, and I haven’t had any problems at all this year. The most annoying thing was that it only came in a large-size container (about a gallon or so) and I really didn’t use that much of it and now I have a whole bunch of it sitting under my kitchen sink.

    13. Might Be Spam*

      Once it dries, it’s safe for pets. Our house was on a concrete slab ants came up through cracks so we sprayed once a year and had no more ants.
      I also sprayed “Ortho Home Defense” on window screens to discourage mosquitoes and flies.

    14. Esmeralda*

      Welcome to the south!

      Find where they’re coming in. Often around a window frame…caulk it up.

      Repeat, repeat, repeat…

  23. Crackerjack*

    Anyone have any tips, or maybe just some solidarity on what I think I’m calling frugalitis? Or maybe idiopathic miserism? I’m not sure quite how to define it, but basically I find it very difficult to use the ‘nice’ things because they’re special, for special occasions. I have crockery and glassware for best as opposed to everyday – I think that’s fairly normal. If someone gives me a ‘pampery’ type product, e.g. bath salts, lotion, perfume, I will put it in the cupboard for a time i want to treat myself, so it doesn’t go to waste by being used up on ordinary days, and then in the end it will be wasted anyway. I just looked under the bathroom sink and there are gift set boxes of toiletries that have moved with me from house to house, unopened – I think I remember being given one of them when I was a teenager (I’m 34). They are probably unusable at this point. I have a wardrobe full of nice clothes that I never wear because they are too good to get ruined, and I have two children and often end up smeared in banana by mid morning.

    But… I am starting to get impatient with all this. It feels like my life of enjoying all the nice things is on hold until some nebulous future when it will be ‘worth it’ and not a ‘waste’ to wear the good clothes, or the nice perfume, or drink the nice wine, or eat the expensive chocolates. BUT THIS IS MY LIFE NOW, it’s made up of ordinary days, not special days and I don’t want to miss it!

    So does anyone have any tips to force myself out of my don’t-waste-it automatic mindset? I have always been this way, a hoarder of nice things, though it’s only since I had kids that my usage of the nice things has dwindled to zero.

    1. Choggy*

      Can you give in to your impatience and wear the nice clothes (bananas be damned), and heck, wear the perfume, eat the chocolates, and drink the wine, they are all enjoyable and make the most ordinary days special. I guess it all comes down to that old addage, you won’t regret the things you’ve done, only those things you haven’t done. So eat, drink, and be merry because you CAN. :)

    2. WellRed*

      I get this, I really do. The best related advice I can offer is wine glasses (or whatever) are meant to be used. And yes, things might get broken on occasion. That said, when I broken my grandmother’s second to last wine glass (vintage 40s) I was heartbroken. And I don’t touch the last one.

      1. Crackerjack*

        I feel this so hard! I have some lovely wedding present items from my wedding 14 years ago – not many left – and because of their sentimental value as well as actual beauty, I cannot bear the thought of them being broken!

    3. Max Kitty*

      For the pampery items, or special foods, can you set yourself a “treat” day, like every Friday, or Sunday, or the first Saturday of the month, or whatever, and use something “nice” for that day?

      People who give you things are happy to think of them being used and enjoyed. Doing that is not “wasting” them; it’s fulfilling their purpose!

      1. RagingADHD*

        This was my thought as well: designate an official “special” day when it is time to use the special stuff.

        For things like clothes and dishes, now that things are opening up, you can plan special outings to dress up, or invite special people over for dinner (even if you eat hot dogs).

        As Po’s dad wisely said in Kung Fu Panda, “It’s special because we make it special.”

      2. Querious*

        I like this idea! I struggle with underusing special things as well and it seems like there’s no magic to it except to do it. I just have to make something a special occasion. Gretchen Rubin talks about this in The Happiness Project; she calls it under-using. She tells the story of a woman who dies never having used her special wedding table linens because she was always saving them for a special occasion. That story haunts me.

        Clothing is one I have the best shot at changing. I don’t wear something because it’s too nice or too special then four years later I realize I’ve worn an amazing dress only a couple of times and now it doesn’t even fit anymore. Trying to retrain my brain to wear something NOW because it may not fit or suit my style later. When I feel that pull to wear something then start talking myself out of it, shush that inner critic and wear it anyway. A few years ago my “word of the year” was ANYWAY. Do it anyway. Wear it anyway. Go anyway. That helped.

    4. Gan Ainm*

      I accidentally stumbled on this method – I got rid of everything except the best / favourite / “good” items and then you have no choice but to use them! For me , my definition of “best” wasn’t fancy or expensive, it often meant functional, multipurpose, well-fitting, cleans easily, but also stuff that I thought looked nice, was pretty design, well made, good quality. Your definition of “best” will be different.

      Another mental trick is to think of it as eco friendly and economical, instead of thinking of it as a treat you’re saving or don’t deserve to use yet. Ie, don’t buy more body wash when the old bottle of dove runs out, use the good stuff you’ve been saving first. I have a one in one out policy now for toiletry items because they are my favorite thing to try out and previously I had accumulated a million bottles of various lotions and things, now I don’t buy new things until I use up the ones I have, it saves me money and I’m consuming less plastic.

    5. BlueWolf*

      Can you have a set day for it like Fancy Fridays or something? Just pick a day each week or month or whatever interval works with your life to be a special day to dress up or use some of the nice things. Maybe even put it on your calendar so it gives you something to look forward to and feels like a special occasion. You could even get the kids involved. Maybe you plan a nice dinner and the whole family dresses up and sets the table with the nice dinnerware. I don’t have kids though so I don’t know how feasible it is for your situation. As for the fancy perfumes or lotions or other types of body care products, are those things you genuinely enjoy using? If so, I would say do the same thing as above, just schedule a “self care day” to pamper yourself just because. Personally, I’ve never been big on those types of things, but they can be a sort of default gift for women when people don’t know what else to get. If you don’t actually enjoy using them, I would say cut yourself some slack.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Replying to all – thank you!
        I like the idea of a treat day (maybe once a month… At least for the lotions.) You’re right, BlueWolf, that a part of it is that I have more of those body care type things than I would ever buy for myself. I do like the way they feel, look, smell, but putting makeup on or having a long bath takes time that to be honest I’d rather spend reading or sleeping. So maybe I need to throw some of these things away and just keep my favourites for a regular treat day.

        I’ll be honest, I know another big part of it is that I feel sorry for the ‘everyday’ things, so I will put on a crummy old t-shirt which fits badly and is faded because I know it’s coming to the end of its life and I don’t want it to feel left out… Need to get a grip on my anthropomorphising tendencies, clearly.
        I do this with food too – for example, last month was my daughter’s birthday and my own, in the same week. Both of us had a cake. Hers tasted horrible, in my opinion, because of all the colour I had to use to make the design she wanted. Mine was lovely. But because it had been made first, I felt I had to ‘eat hers up’ first so it wouldn’t go bad. It was massive though so unfortunately I choked down most of hers and then had to throw mine out before it was it’s turn. Which is clearly madness.

        1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

          Can you turn that around, and tell yourself “keep this old but still sort of usable shirt in the drawer (or in a box), rather than wearing it out completely so it will have to go to the dump”? And think of using the newer or fancier things as paying attention to them, rather than neglecting them?

        2. Still*

          Hi! I actually think the answer might be just getting rid of more stuff, especially of everything that you don’t actively enjoy.

          First, the things you don’t actually like. The cake you don’t like, the ugly t-shirt… I get that you have a hard time throwing things away but your body and your life are not a trash can! If you choke down that cake without enjoying it, you’re essentially still throwing it away, just… inside of your body. So not only does the cake not get to be enjoyed, you feel bad, and other, better cakes, go bad! If you can, just start throwing out / donating / recycling anything you don’t like. If it helps, you can put it in a box for now and throw it out after a month or whatever.

          You say that you have a lot of stuff that’s probably not good anymore, because it’s decades old. Check the dates on everything and throw away anything that’s out of date, you’re not gonna use it anyway.

          As for what’s left – the fancy stuff that is still good to use – how about you put it in a basket somewhere easy to reach, pick a date in the not-too-far future (maybe half a year from now?) and tell yourself that if you don’t use it by that date, you need to throw it out or donate it. Either you get use out of it, or it doesn’t stay in your home.

          I feel like the alternative to using stuff shouldn’t be keeping it forever, it should be getting rid of it. Then you’re way more likely to use it. Or if you don’t end up using it anyway, maybe it just doesn’t fit your lifestyle. Personally, I love the idea of lotions, bath bombs and perfume, but I never use them, so they have no place in my home, no matter how cute.

          How about regifting the stuff that’s still good?

        3. Overeducated*

          One idea that I loved from the Marie Kondo craze was the idea of thanking things you were getting rid of – instead of seeing that as a rejection of them, giving thanks for what they brought to your life. I think you’re right that these emotional obligations to “things” are real and this idea of gentle acknowledgement helps move forward. So maybe just saying thank you to the worn out t shirt in the drawer before putting on the nicer clothes might help.

        4. I also believe things have feelings*

          I have officially given myself permission to throw out all the grape jelly beans from the assortment pack because I hate the flavor. I’m not calorie-conscious but there is literally no reason to consume *those* calories! I still have the problem you describe with the fancy jams and salts and other things people give us that feel like we should save them for special occasions, but I’m counting the jelly beans as progress and if you need permission to do the same I hereby give it to you!

        5. RosyGlasses*

          You might see if there is a local Buy Nothing group on Facebook where you can gift any items you don’t want/ won’t use.

          I used to be really attached to things – particularly items from family or gifts – whether I liked them or not. I was starting to feel buried under stuff. I read Marie Kondo’s book (also a really good show on Netflix) and began the purge and kept only things I actually loved. If it was a gifted or family item I wanted to remember but didn’t love, I took a picture and wrote a little journal entry; and then gifted forward to someone who would truly find joy in it. It is a mental shift for sure because I’m in a generation that was taught not to waste (food, items, etc) but I think that is a really unfortunate mantra that is not helpful. I feel so much lighter and less bogged down by “stuff”.

    6. fposte*

      I think you are really wise to see this pattern now and look to change it–it takes a lot of people much longer than their 30s. A couple of thoughts: can you reframe their value as lying in their use rather than the items themselves? That basically clothing, toiletries, etc., are all essentially as perishable as those smeared bananas and you don’t get any prizes for never touching your bananas? Can you have some kind of use budget/calendar involving a treat day once a week for using a nice thing? That way you could preserve that “special” sense while still getting use out of the items. Depending on the items, you can also consider finding other ways to use them. “Good” china is great for holding random crap on desks in attractive ways, for instance.

      It may also be worth considering chucking some of it out or donating it, especially the toiletries. Don’t let the sunk-cost fallacy sink you. Maybe you can start to think about space as something you value instead of the things in the space, and you’d rather use it on something other than a case of bath foam from twenty years ago.

    7. Nicotene*

      Ugh I fell into this because my mother always gives me these family antiques that are super fragile (glass bowls, fancy plates, cut glass decanters etc). I live in fear that I will break these heirlooms even though they might not actually be that old / that long in the family and it’s unclear the newer generation will want them either. My only solution was to buy a big glass sideboard to display them in, so I can enjoy them as objects of art rather than ever risk touching / washing / using them where they would probably end up broken. That has not stopped her from continuing to try to give me more than would fit in the case though. My home is going to end up a museum.

      1. Reba*

        Re: heirlooms and “heirlooms” — an eye opening moment for me was helping to clean out my grandparents’ home. They had closets full of untouched things that were too nice to use.

        And then the things that the family was most attached to were things like the faded old tablecloth from roadside picnic lunches (i.e. the ordinary things that did get used, so that you actually formed memories with it).

    8. twocents*

      I’ve gotten over it by reminding myself that a “don’t waste it” mindset is actually wasteful, because I’m not using the thing for its designated purpose. Wear the fancy clothes! Use the fancy cookware! Take a fancy bath!

      It’s just an expensive dust collector otherwise.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Yes! I know I need to keep this front and centre in my mind. I have a seriously strong instinct not to waste food, and so will finish off dishes/leftovers even though I’m not hungry to avoid them going to waste… Took me until the age of 30 at least to realise that if it is food my body neither wants nor needs then it is wasted just as much being in my body as being in the bin.

        1. Still*

          This, so much! Your body is not a trash can. You should be way more picky about what you put into your body than about what you throw away. Nobody gains anything from you eating the leftovers, the only outcome is that you undermine your health and sense of wellbeing.

          1. Crackerjack*

            Yes, I need to get out of the mindset that things are more important than me, I think – that clothes are more important than my comfort or leftovers more important than my health. They are not. They are not. Thank you!

        2. Observer*

          As @Still says “your body and your life are not a trash can”. This is 100% true. Chocking down food, eating food that doesn’t agree with you, wearing stuff that makes you look bad or is inappropriate to the occasion is just a bad idea. And it’s MORE wasteful than chucking it in the garbage, because not only is is not doing anything useful, it is keeping you from doing useful things and using useful things in an appropriate way

          I know that this is not an easy mindset to get over but telling yourself this REPEATEDLY actually does help.

          It might, however, be worthwhile considering working with a CBT type therapist to shift your mindset. Because this sounds like it’s really getting in your way.

          Also, I’m a bit concerned about how this could affect your kids.

    9. OyHiOh*

      If it were me – and this was me a couple years ago when my kids seemed trapped forever in the smeared bananas and frosted with peanut butter phase (they weren’t stuck, just had 3 kids in 6 years, the difficult phases seemed to last forever . . . . ) – I would make an effort towards creating special times to use things. I would use the toiletries daily, because the few minutes you get alone in the bathroom might be the only “me” time you get on some days.
      I would schedule time weekly for you to go somewhere, do something wearing your nice clothes and perfume, even if that’s just an hour at a coffee shop or a week day movie matinee.

      NPR did a piece earlier this week about low level mental health issues, basically to the effect of if we feel like we’re missing something in our lives (they used feeling joy as the example) sometimes we have to really work at creating that thing in order to feel it regularly.

      1. Crackerjack*

        I think this is true. It started out as no biggie, I’ll wear scrappy clothes today, because my day is minding toddlers and scrubbing the kitchen floor. But after 1460 days like that, I felt like a hag who looked like a bag lady all the time. I was constantly shocked when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

        It doesn’t matter what I look like, I was dressed for my day, etc etc but actually as it turns out I guess my sense of value is tied up a little bit in how I present. I never thought it was when I was working, but that is because I had smart clothes for work that I had to wear, so if I had a bag-lady day I knew that wasn’t me. Now it is me, every day. So I think I need to create occasions to wear good stuff even if it is not the occasion, and even if it gets ruined.

    10. Jane*

      When I was a child, I would stand in front of my grandmother’s china cabinet and stare at her set of china. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I don’t know if she ever used it. After she passed away decades later, and my grandfather asked if there was anything I wanted, I said I wanted her china. When he passed, I inherited the entire set. It was shipped to my parents’ house (I didn’t have my own place at the time) and even though I eventually became their live-in caregiver, it stayed in the packing box. My mom recently passed, and we were going through the estate, and we found the china (I knew we had it, but hadn’t actually seen it).

      I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it. I didn’t want to risk breaking it, but I realized that it’s been sitting in a box for nearly 15 years. I have loved this china since I was a little girl. My mother died very suddenly and unexpectedly, and I know that there are no guarantees in life. I could die in a similar way, too, and the one thing I’ve loved so much in all the world would still be sitting in a box and I would never have gotten the joy of using it. So I got rid of my mother’s everyday dishes, and I now use my grandmother’s china on a daily basis. And maybe I’ll live to be 96 and break 2/3 of the collection between now and then. But, as you said, this is my life now, made up of ordinary days. And I love that every singe day, I see and use this beautiful china.

      1. Generic Name*

        Yes! I love this story. Objects are meant to be used, and I’m sure it would make your grandmother happy to see that the China brings you joy.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        I love this! My uncle gave my grandma a set of nice china intending her to use it, and the only time it ever came out of the box was when she took it out to show me my future wedding gift. They are not at all my style so I’m keeping one set to display and giving the rest to my aunt, who will probably also keep them in a box because they’re too precious to use. I guess just having them and feeling like she had something fancy to pass on was how they gave my grandma joy but I wish she had just let herself use them!

      3. Squirrel Nutkin*

        My mom finally came around to this way of thinking as well — she used to hide her good silverware in the basement because she was afraid of thieves and it was only for special occasions until her therapist convinced her to bring it upstairs and enjoy it.

        Reader, she enjoyed the heck out of that silver every day until the end of her life, and then my dad used it every day too until he passed. I didn’t personally want the silver and gave it to another family member who did, but I did appreciate the implicit lesson that we should enjoy our nice things while we have them — that’s what they’re for!

      4. Querious*

        I’ve been mulling this over recently. I’m really tired of the daily dishes I’ve had for 20+ years, and I have two sets of china from my mom and grandma. I love them both! Neither is well suited for the dishwasher, okay for occasional runs after a dinner party but regular dishwasher use would kill them. What if I just used them anyway? What use are TWO sets of china that get used once a year at best? Otherwise I need to get rid of one. The one I’ve loved since I was a little girl is highly collectible, I could release it to people who will love it more. Option 3, throw loads more dinner parties like I used to before I had the china.

        1. fposte*

          Or run them through the dishwasher anyway. Most of them will probably survive. I say this as somebody who hates washing dishes, so I really won’t use stuff I can’t run through the dishwasher. I’ll make an exception for gilt adornments, and I’ll track the effects (I had one mid-century bowl whose glaze turned out to be weirdly unstable, so I’m keeping the rest of the set out of the water). But mostly I’d rather use them more often and deprioritize preservation.

          1. Querious*

            Oh, yes, that’s what I meant by use them anyway! Run them through the dishwasher, and if they die they die. One set is Candlewick, and the little glass balls would probably suffer. But that’s the set I’d use because the other has a silver rim that can’t go in the microwave.

      5. Squirrel Nutkin*

        My mom eventually came around to this way of thinking as well. She used to hide her good silverware in the basement because she was afraid of thieves and because it was only for special occasions until her therapist convinced her to bring it upstairs and enjoy it. Reader, she enjoyed the heck out of that silver every day until the end of her life, and then my dad used it every day too until he passed. I didn’t personally want the silver and gave it to another family member who did, but I did appreciate the implicit lesson that we should enjoy our nice things while we have them — that’s what they’re for, and we deserve to feel special!

    11. Generic Name*

      I feel this on a deep level. My granny was a child of the depression, and I’m from the Midwest where wasting food is a Mortal Sin, so a lot of my miser ways stem from what amounts to generational trauma. I think another piece of it is low self worth. Like I’m not “good enough” for nice things. But as you’ve pointed out, your life is happening now, and by not using your nice things you are basically wasting them. Instead of focusing on how things are “too nice” for everyday use, think about the person who gave you the gift. They gave you the lotion or whatever for you to enjoy and to express their love for you. Let them love you and use the gift. I know I find it easier to do nice things for other people than it is to do nice things for myself. It’s a hard mindset to change.

      1. Crackerjack*

        Yes, I did not grow up with hardship or scarcity but my parents did. I think that is at the root of a lot of my worry about waste. Hard to set aside that cultural programming.

    12. NYC Redhead*

      When struggling with this issue, I think of the Erma Bombeck essay with the line, “If I had my life to love over…I would have burnt the pink candle that was sculptured like a rose before it melted while being stored.”

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Thanks for sharing this piece of Erma Bombeck’s writing. She was great!
        Quick threadjack to quote two other bits of her work that have stayed with me:
        – title of one of her anthologies, “When you look like your passport photo, it’s time to go home”
        – phrase about people having different superpowers, “I can drive on the highway, see [or “be surrounded by”] nothing but cement, sniff the air, and announce, ‘I smell a sale.’ “

    13. Dark Macadamia*

      I have a bottle of fancy perfume that I got in like, 2007 and it’s still mostly full. I distinctly remember on Christmas morning my sister asking if she could use some and I was like “no!!! I haven’t even used it yet!” I only used it for special occasions but eventually it ended up in a box when I moved and now here I am not wearing it because I’m worried it’s gone off and strong scents give me a headache now anyway :/

      Try to give yourself permission to use the stuff you like and get rid of the stuff you don’t! Maybe use the anthropomorphizing to your advantage and give those items the opportunity to finally fulfill their destiny?

    14. Not So NewReader*

      You know you can spend a lot of time analyzing yourself OR you can just use the stuff.

      I agree with so many of the insights here. I have started using the nice stuff or selling it. I pour the cash from sales into other stuff that I want to refurbish and keep.

      Stuff that sits unused is wasted money. Sure, you like it or even love it, but if you don’t allow yourself to use it what good is the item? It’s wasted money. Ironic, eh. in effort to be frugal we end up being even more wasteful.

      With some of the “good” stuff I had I found that I privately really did not like the item. I had all these soaps and lotions that I did not use. They are a PITA to me for [reasons]. Superficially, I could say, “Oh that’s a good thing and I have to save it for something special.” This excuse was a CRUTCH. I did not think about the item in other ways. It allowed me to keep things that I did not even like and would not use. Hint: If years go by and you never even look at it, it is very possible that you actually just don’t care/want the item.

      I also changed my purchasing habits. Things that need too much TLC no longer come into my house. All my curtains go into the washing machine, not to the dry cleaner. Likewise with most of my clothes, very little needs dry cleaning. As the knick-knacks break I do not replace them. I questioned myself every time I felt the supposed rule that “I have to keep this, yet not use it.” WHY?

      Gifts were the worst, especially obligatory gifts. This is the endless parade of mugs, tree ornaments and other crap that we feel we have to keep because a Loved One gave it to us. I have a use it or lose it rule now. In extreme situations I can put a gift directly into the donate pile after unwrapping. (Because some people just buy loads of stuff and do not consider what I will do with it or how I will be able to store it.)

      Interestingly, because I started insisting that I use gifts, my household spending went down. I used the super nice mugs instead of buying everyday mugs and so on. I decided if my own possessions have elaborate rules, then I do not own these possessions but rather these possessions own ME.

      Children are just a cover story. I can grind banana into my good work clothes on my own. I know how. Because I have pets I always have Nature’s Miracle around. I spray the garment and life goes on. I can also break dishes on my own too. You do not need children to help with these things.

      In the end, I changed the way I thought about money and the way I thought about what “ownership” actually means. I set aside “obligations” to find what I actually cared about. And I found parts of me that I did not know I had.

    15. Wishing You Well*

      When my grandmother died, my mother said it was a waste that Grandma had these nice linens in her cedar chest and never used them. I thought maybe it wasn’t a waste if Grandma was happier with wonderful, pristine things in her treasure chest than if she had used them. We’ll never know what Grandma felt about it.
      My feeling is: Use your good things or not; do what makes you happier.
      (Personally, I’d use them but to each their own.)

      1. Crackerjack*

        I think what I am struggling with now (and this is not a huge source of anxiety or anything: just an internal conflict) is that I was previously happy to have the nice things saved for a special occasion, to know they were there, perfect, when wanted and so it was uncomfortable for me to use them in un-special ways and comfortable for me to save them. That was fine. But now I am feeling uncomfortable saving them because they are never being used, but the discomfort of using them also remains. So they are niggling at me.

        I will try some of the suggestions here – the one in one out on products, not replacing my everyday things with new everyday things when they wear out, having one day where I dress up in the good clothes and perfume. Just try to shake up my waste mindset a bit.

    16. Gloucesterina*

      Just about the clothing piece you mentioned – Does it make sense for you to take the time to explore nicer versions of clothing that talks to your day to day life and help you walk the happy medium of pleasure and function? I don’t know what kind of “nice clothing” you have packed away (cashmere? tuxedo? cocktail dress?), but I feel like there’s a vast style spectrum in between wearing stuff that is, say, dry clean only and intended for very narrow occasions and wearing stuff that is totally worn out!

      Especially with kids and work to juggle, I could imagine this could involve committing to some big online shopping trips and making peace with the chore of ordering things in different sizes, styles (and returning what doesn’t give you happiness). Of course this all depends on having time and pocketbook, etc, etc. . . .

    17. matcha123*

      I get where you’re coming from because I’m the same way. I have been working on changing that mindset because with gifts, the friends spent money and want me to enjoy using the item. If I never use it, then it’s a shame. Plus, I’d want them to use something I bought for them.

      For clothes, I grew up on hand-me-downs and thrift store clothing that needed to last forever. I try to take care of all of my clothes, especially the nice ones. But I’ve been thinking that if I never try to wear the nice ones, and I end up in an accident and can never wear them, I’ll be sad. What I do now is I set aside some days as special occasions to wear the nice dress. Or I will dress up a bit while working from home. Last year I wore fancy clothes and drank the expensive whiskey on my birthday because I can spoil myself.

      Maybe try setting aside some days to be “special” days, even if they aren’t birthdays or holidays?

    18. Potatoes gonna potate*

      I can sort of relate to this but I’m also a shopaholic sooooo I end up with a lot of things I don’t necessarily need. I think for me a lot of it was cultural b/c there’s very much a “do this after [life event].” mentality for certain people.

      Of course as a jaded 30-something now, I don’t believe in a lot of that anymore. A long time ago I decided that I was going to treat myself every day; use the good dishes, good soaps, etc. What’s interesting is that it changes the definition of “treat yourself” to me. General advice for “treating yourself” that includes all of the above or eating a nice dish, dessert, what have you, doesnt’ seem to cut it anymore when that becomes the baseline. So

  24. MissGirl*

    Up all night with my sick 10-month-old puppy who at one point was pooping every 30 minutes before throwing up. Emergency vet says they may not be able to do a giardia test until after the holiday but can’t treat her unless she’s positive (she’s had it before). They want $700 for a full work up, which I don’t want to do if it’s giardia.

    Waiting for morning to call more places. So, so tired. She has such a sensitive gut and gets bad diarrhea every few months but not like this. I’m feeding her rice and chicken with a little pumpkin. Any other thoughts for gut health?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup. We used to get raw fermented goat’s milk at the pet store. Yogurt is good too, but that stuff had the benefit of being stinky enough to entice my bud to eat.

        1. Trixie*

          Goat’s milk, I was wondering where to find this. I’m curious if its also calorie-rich which would help my senior cat with sensitive gut maintain or gain some weight.

    1. Dwight Schrute*

      Fortiflora from Purina may be helpful to add to her diet. Hope she feels better soon!

    2. MissGirl*

      Update, I was spraying her throw/up with a hose and found a piece of a sock wrapped up in my hair. The last few months she’s pooped out a paper towel, a piece of a sponge, and a torn up toy.

      Secondary question, how do I keep her from putting everything in her mouth. I’m really careful but she’s super sneaky.

      1. Call me St. Vincent*

        In that case, you should get an x ray in case there is an intestinal blockage from something she ate that she wasn’t supposed to. Ask me how I know :)

        1. MissGirl*

          Thanks. I’m in wait and see mode as she hasn’t had an incident since 3 am and before that it was ever 30 minutes to an hour. I’m hoping beyond hope that was the problem. She’s her usual self but if it changes will definitely do an x-ray. I’d found the sock several days ago and threw it all out but either I missed a piece or it took a long time to cause an issue.

          1. Jean (just Jean)*

            Or else you only found *one* sock (because the puppy ate the other one)…
            Good wishes for a continued recovery for both of you!

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I had an old recliner that I actually hated. So when I found pieces of the upholstery in the dog run my only concern was for my dog, not the chair. Yep, it went all the way through her system.

            You can keep vinegar in a spritzer and spray things that you can’t remove from her reach. The good news is that vinegar is tame, the bad news is you will have to re-do it.

            On the give side of the situation, make sure she has dog chewies you can give her when you are home. They chew, they can’t help it. The best we can do is redirect all that energy and try to tire them out a bit.

            I am betting the sock explanation is your answer.

  25. Alice*

    Any suggestions for quick midweek meals? I’m getting tired of my usual rotation. It’s just me and I don’t have any restrictions aside from no cheese (unless it’s mozzarella, the only type of cheese I don’t hate).

    1. Holly the spa pro*

      My husband has gotten really into japanese cooking lately and a ton of popular meals come together really quickly and make good leftovers. His go-to is gyudon (japanese beef and rice bowl). He has the meat counter cut chuck or sirloin thinly (like youd get for philly cheese steak) and that saves a ton of time. You dont have to do fancy dashi broth or anything, it can be super basic and still taste amazing and reheats so well and is healthy.

    2. fposte*

      If it’s peach season near you, my summer no-cook go-to is sliced ripe peaches with mozzarella slices and prosciutto strips on top.

    3. twocents*

      I’ve been in a funk lately with not wanting to cook, but understanding that takeout is a bad alternative. So I’ve relied heavily on veggies in bags I can steam in the microwave, pre-cut fruit, canned sauces, pre-cooked meat. It’s pretty easy to mix and match and get something reasonably healthy in the mix.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve done similar with premade tuna, precut salad veggies etc during a recent heat wave.

    4. L NLN*

      We love polenta and it is super easy! While the cornmeal cooks (about 15 minutes), I sauté onions and whatever vegetables I have on hand. Add a little salt and pepper and a dash of white wine or dry sherry. When the cornmeal is cooked, top it with the veggies and some mozzarella.

    5. Redhairedrunner*

      Single serving pizzas! Top with whatever you want and they only take 15ish minutes to cook. I freeze single portions of dough so it’s just thaw, proof and bake.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I love anything cooked in tomato sauce. I don’t care for jarred sauce, so I make a sauce with sautéed garlic and whole canned tomatoes. You can add other stuff, but that’s the basic. It freezes easily so I keep a few portions frozen for super-quick meals, although the sauce itself only takes about 15 minutes to make anyway.

      Lately I’ve been thawing the sauce in a saucepan with some white wine, and then adding a frozen fish fillet. It doesn’t have to be thawed. Cover and simmer on very low heat until the fish is cooked through and starts to flake easily. (If you want to be fancy, add a bay leaf and a strip of orange peel while the fish cooks, or put in some herbs de Provence and some capers and briny olives.)

      Serve with any starch you like – a slice of sourdough bread is excellent on the bottom of your bowl, or make some couscous which takes literally five minutes.

      As I said, I’ve been making this with fish but you can poach chicken breasts in the sauce, or steam mussels or other shellfish. Basically any quick-cooking protein.

    7. Chaordic One*

      If you can plan ahead, cook some pasta and/or rice and stick it in a container in the fridge. Then during the week use it to make salads.

      Create a salad by combining the rice or pasta with fresh or canned veggies, cheese shreds or cumbles, and dump in a can of tuna, or ham, or chicken meat. Or use pre-cut salad mix instead of the rice or pasta.

    8. Clisby*

      Since you like mozzarella, how are you with caprese salad? Interleave fresh tomatoes, basil leaves, sliced mozzarella with balsamic vinegar sprinkled between the slices.

    9. Imprudence*

      Look out for Xanthe Clay, who has a great book of meals to cook in 10 minutes. I think she has a YouTube channel too. All the recipes I’ve tried have been easy to follow and delicious, although she sometimes generates rather too much washing up.

    10. Pamela Adams*

      We had tomato sandwiches yesterday- good bread, mayonnaise, sliced tomatoes. A cool meal on a hot day.

    11. Alcott*

      Lately I’ve been frequently draining a can of white beans or chickpeas, throwing in whatever vegetables looked good at the market that week and topping with vinaigrette or other dressing and calling it lunch.

    12. Tbubui*

      I quite like making quinoa salads. Quinoa is easy to cook and keeps in the fridge for at least a week in my experience. Cook a big batch, chop up whatever fruit or veggies you like, and add dressing (homemade or a store-bought vinaigrette works well). It can be pretty diverse, depending on what spices you use. I like my Mediterranean style one the best since it has red onions, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese. But I tried a Thai-style one (no cheese so perfect for you!) the other night that was very good.

      I also like quinoa because it’s very filling. If you need extra protein or fibre you can also throw in a can of chickpeas to the salad as well.

  26. Blue Eagle*

    Reading thread

    Just finished another book by Ijeoma Oluo published in 2020 titled “Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America”. It is fascinating reading and addresses a part of history that never gets into high school history textbooks (e.g. how women and black men have been pushed down or to the side in college education, the workplace, politics, college and pro football, the civil rights and women’s movements, etc).

    While some of her writing is editorial in nature, there are extensive footnotes and citations to support her writing. When I mentioned the part about Bernie Sanders to my niece, she said she was aware of his stance and one of her older co-workers said that he is just another ma