weekend open thread – February 5-6, 2022

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: All This Could Be Yours, by Jami Attenberg. A family deals with the impending death of their very difficult patriarch.

 I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,092 comments… read them below }

  1. Ayla*

    Can well-behaved older siblings be at a pregnancy ultrasound, generally?

    I didn’t want my son to be at the scan, but all three of the childcare providers we trust are sick (two with CV-19, one with flu) and I’m not comfortable going without my partner. I’m not sure what we can really do other than bring him along.

    1. Double A*

      I wasn’t allowed to bring anyone, including my partner, to any of my prenatal visits for my pregnancy in 2021 (baby was born 8 months ago). My OB made a comment about being disappointed that my husband and daughter couldn’t be there because of covid protocols, from which I inferred that in normal times, she would have been allowed (she was 2). So I would think it really depends on your doctor and you’ll just have to ask them. I don’t know how much protocols have changed in the last 8 months, and different places have different ones.

      1. Ayla*

        Thank you for this information. My normal OB hasn’t had any problems with my daughter being there for checkups, but this scan has to be done at a high-risk clinic and I don’t know their protocols. I’ll send a message to the nurse. I guess I assumed if a support person wasn’t allowed, they’d have mentioned it; if my partner can’t come I’ll have to cancel the scan so I guess I’d better find out ASAP.

        1. It's Growing!*

          If your pregnancy is being monitored by a high-risk clinic, it is absolutely necessary for you to get this scan regardless of whether or not your partner can come with you. Wanting them there is one thing, needing them there is another. If your discomfort is so great that you’d skip the appointment rather than go without them, that is something you need to address.

          1. Ayla*

            I have talked with my OB who is willing to do it locally if necessary, because she agrees the result of my PTSD being triggered while alone in a completely unfamiliar space would be a bigger risk than missing the slightly more comprehensive information we would get from the other clinic. I have weighed my options and am working within a situation that I know better than others. I am neither reckless nor stupid. Do not scold me.

            1. Jules the 3rd*

              Good for you, Ayla. Set that boundary and stick to it. You know your situation best, and are the best judge of what works for you.

              Best of luck with the scan and pregnancy! And if people tell your their birth horror stories, here’s my anti-horror birth story: I had a little party and it was fun. I got inducted at 12:30am because of gestational diabetes and a really busy day. I fell asleep for several hours. Around 6, I woke up. I got an epidural because with induction you can’t do any of the walking / pain relief, so heck with it. My mom, sister, and sister’s wife were around, with my husband holding my hand. My mom cut the cord, my husband is Not Comfortable with mess. Our kid is a teenager, and totally awesome.

              No lesson, just hope that your experience is good in your own way.

          2. C*

            Plenty of places have you do scans at the “high-risk clinic” because that’s who has the ultrasound machine. You’re not her doctor.

          3. HannahS*

            Wow, congratulations on knowing more about a stranger’s pregnancy than she does, and deciding that you should reprimand her about it. Real, uh, feminist of you.

    2. RagingADHD*

      As long as your partner is there to watch him, I can’t imagine they’d have a problem with it.

      I had to have a couple of checkups with #1 in tow, and at least one where she basically sat on my head during the ultrasound because my husband was working and I had nobody to watch her.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Yes, mine was long pre-covid. My area gave up on everything except masks in healthcare settings so long ago, I forget that protocols are still going on.

    3. allathian*

      I guess it depends on the Covid protocols in your area. When they were at their strictest in mine, you were lucky if the father of the child was allowed to attend the birth, and for a person who didn’t live in the same household as the pregnant person, no question of being allowed in the birthing room. This was very hard on professional doulas and their clients.

      When I was pregnant with my son 13+ years ago, my husband attended the ultrasounds I had at 10 and 23 weeks. They had signs posted that older siblings weren’t allowed under any circumstances. I’m not sure what they would’ve done with a single parent who didn’t have any other options, though.

      I guess I’m glad that my son wasn’t present when I learned that I’d had a miscarriage at 7 weeks, when I should’ve been at 10 weeks. My pregnancy symptoms were so mild that I suspected that something was wrong, but I still burst into tears and sobbed loudly.

      1. Ayla*

        This is why I so badly wanted to find childcare for the scan. I’ve had multiple losses, certain issues run in my family that tend to be discovered at the anatomy scan, and I’d prefer to be able to process that without having to be in mommy mode. But I also can’t afford to expose my child (and by extension, myself and the growing baby) to illness. It’s not great.

        I’m sorry for your loss.

        1. allathian*

          Thank you for your sympathy.

          I hate to say it, but the safest and simplest option may be to just go in for the scan by yourself, as much as you’d like to have your partner there.

          Elsewhere on this thread Sarah Bordner posts about her experiences. Talk to the clinic where you’re having the ultrasound about your options, and if they’re allowing children to be present, make your decision based on whether you need your partner’s presence more than your child’s absence, or vice versa.

          Good luck with the scan, whatever you decide.

        2. Middle Aged Lady*

          Good luck with your pregnancy and having a new family member on the way. I am sorry such an exciting—and nervous—time has the extra stress of COVID added on.
          Birth horror stories are the freaking worst! Why people do this, I do not know.
          You have good medical care, you are smart and know to take care of yourself. Wishing you every happiness.

    4. Teatime is Goodtime*

      I’ve seen older siblings attend, but it does depend on the COVID protocols these days. I think my doctor’s office aren’t exactly happy about it, but are aware of the realities of parenting, so let it slide.

      My concern would also be about receiving bad news in front of the child, though. But needs must, it sounds like you also don’t have much of a choice (and bad news is unlikely!)

    5. Sarah Bordner*

      My then-two-year-old went to most of my ultrasounds/BPPs. We wanted him to be as involved as reasonably possible to ease the transition to being a big brother. The first time he was a little scared; he seemed worried about me. Of course he had Monkey and Koda with him. (His stuffies.) After talking him through it though, he was excited to go see the new baby and would point at the screen saying, “Sissy!”

      The fetal echocardiogram was similar, but took a lot longer, so he started to get restless. Fortunately, I had packed Goldfish and a new car and new book, so my husband just brought those out one at a time which occupied him.

      My OB encouraged my kiddo’s involvement. (Baby was born in March 2020, so this was all pre-COVID.) Ultimately, you know your kid best. How do you think he’ll do? Prepare him as best as you can. Your partner will be there for him if there’s a problem. Good luck and congrats!

    6. Jules the First*

      Every time I went for mine, I was told that siblings were strictly prohibited…and the only time I saw them make an exception was for an almost-teenager who was translating for his mum. As a solo mum, there are lots of situations where children typically aren’t welcome but I bring mine anyway (including hospital appointments), but a pregnancy ultrasound is not one of them. I suppose if your partner is there, they could take your eldest outside if it turns out to be bad news, but that still leaves you processing the news on your own.

    7. Richard Hershberger*

      Reading the first sentence, I was wondering why you would possibly want your brother at your ultrasound.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I learned I had lost a pregnancy on an ultrasound scan. As tough as it was (my partner was on a business trip to a different continent), the fact that my 3 year old was with a neighbor and 8 year old at school were one small bit of relief as I struggled through the doctor explaining what was wrong and handling my own grief-shocked reaction.

      I’m sorry. That’s not something I would normally share with someone pregnant–unless they specifically asked about bringing young kids along for what is usually, but not inevitably, a fun chance to see the baby. Insurance covers this because it’s a diagnostic tool, and while usually the diagnosis is “everything looks great, and here are the toes” it’s not the only possibility.

    9. Macaroni Penguin*

      I could only bring one person into my ultrasounds. This occurred during the summer and fall of 2021 ( Canada). Maybe call the clinic and ask about their protocols?

    10. Jen*

      My OBGYN just sent an email stating they aren’t allowing anyone into appointments other than the patient.

    11. HannahS*

      If your medical provider is ok with it during covid (mine did not allow any other people to join me at appointments), then sure, bring them along. It’s not an issue if your partner is there to watch them.

    12. A Simple Narwhal*

      My OB currently doesn’t allow anyone in besides the patient, so check with your practice before making a decision.

      1. Sarah Bordner*

        Still? Do you mind if I ask where you live? What state? Maybe because I live in Missouri and we never really went into lockdown, some of us protocols seem a little counterproductive. (Obviously masks are required in all medical settings. Though, just surgical masks which don’t really do anything.) Especially with everything we know now. Not everyone reported it, but John’s Hopkins released a study saying lockdowns only lowered mortality rates 0.2 percent. But as we know were terrible for the economy and terrible for mental health.

        Sorry if that sounded judgmental. It wasn’t intended that way. I also didn’t start out planning to write a whole report. Simply curious that OB’s are still not allowing partners at appointments. Especially when positive experiences during pregnancy (like sharing a scan with the father) lead to better outcomes. The OP sounds like having her partner there is necessary. Though I got the impression her doctor understood and was being accommodating.

        So my post just evolved I to stream of consciousness…

        1. Mary Connell*

          The lockdown was successful in important ways: it limited transmission while the scientific and medical communities developed technologies and treatments.

        2. fhqwhgads*

          In the US the “lockdown” wasn’t ever really a lockdown. So they didn’t do much. In Australia, I’d argue that has been very effective…until omicron.
          Given the extra risk to pregnant people, I’m not surprised OB offices would still have more stringent policies than even other medical settings. They really don’t want extra people.
          That said, every practice is different, and things are going to differ by location. I initially couldn’t go with my partner to appointments at the beginning of 2021. Starting around May, I could. Still can but the office was clear the policy was based on current data and could change at any time.
          They also don’t allow bringing children to appointments, and don’t allow bringing more than one person with you, but that policy was not covid-specific. But again, I’ve seen/heard way too many variations on these policies to count. So the only way to know is for OP to find out from their own Dr’s practice.

    13. Homebody*

      My area goes from 0-1 visitors with an appointment depending how COVID is fluctuating. I don’t know how your clinic is, but a lot of places will allow an extra nurse or caretaker if you request it into the ultrasound room. Depends on your level of comfort, I don’t know if having a second stranger would make it better or worse…but I hope you’re able to work something out.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Same – at my OB’s office partners are allowed at the initial appt to confirm pregnancy and the 20-week scan, that’s it. I don’t believe they’re currently allowing any children in the office. But the only way to know for sure is to confirm with wherever you would be having the scan, as you mentioned upthread. Good luck and I hope it’s only good news for the rest of the pregnancy.

        1. NotRealAnonForThis*

          For comparison w/ “way back when in Normal Times”, I was cleaning this weekend and found the folder I was given with child #2, listing the policies at that time (Child 2 is a tween, and we’re US as far as location, and yes, I apparently need to weed out paperwork more frequently):
          Partners are permitted at appointments unless requested otherwise by patient.
          Siblings are permitted only at anatomy scan, with another adult present to monitor said sibling, and with doctor’s permission. We will schedule these at the end of the day if you wish a sibling present.
          We reserve the right to restrict partners at appointments during flu season
          Please know that the hospital with which we’re associated has restricted visitors and support persons during previous flu seasons, if you are due to deliver between January-March.

          It sounds as it’s more a case of no other option, and I have oodles of sympathy for you there. I also understand the NEED for your partner during fraught medical things very well, and it sounds as though your care team is on board. I’m going to hope it all goes smoothly and well for you, with the older child, the childcare situation at large (i.e. your trusted carers all recover soon and fully), and that everything pregnancy related is “boring”, because its best to be boring from a medical standpoint.

    14. Hannah Mae*

      I brought my daughter, and then my son and my daughter to their sibling’s ultrasound appointment with no problems. Your doctor may have different rules though.

    15. Despachito*

      If you say “I’m not comfortable going without my partner”, do you mean “I am not comfortable making the journey/driving without him” or rather “I am not comfortable being alone in the scanning room”?

      If it is the former, I’d make him and the child accompany me to the clinic and wait outside.
      If it is the latter, I’d basically suck it up because the wellbeing of the child would trump my momentary discomfort.

      But I’d check with the clinic first, because it is possible that they have no problem with it and you will be fine. And if they do have a problem with another person being present at the scan room this will probably extend to your partner as well (and then I’d either let him at home watching the kid or go with me to the clinic and wait with the child outside, thus minimizing the time you’ll have to be alone).

      Best of luck either way. When I expected my second tagged my first everywhere with me, even to the obgyn, but this was long pre-covid. My fingers crossed for you!

      1. Usually a Lurker*

        The OP said above that they need their partner there because of PTSD and their doctor agrees. “Suck it up” is not useful advice.

        1. Despachito*

          Oh, you are right, it was not in the original post but now I see it in a subsequent comment. I am sorry, and I am taking back the “suck it up” part.

          In such a case, I’d think that the partner’s presence is medically necessary,as the OP would not be able to undergo the scan without it, and if there is one more person present, I’d think that the presence of the child would not matter that much (I assume the partner will keep an eye on him).

          Anyway, I’d ask the clinic and explain the situation, and I hope that they will be understanding.

  2. Wink the Book*

    I am making beef stroganoff this weekend. But, I am curious. What is everyone’s favorite noodle dish and recipe?

    1. AcademiaNut*

      If I’m going for classic pasta, I do like a good pasta puttanesca – tomatoes, garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, made with a short pasta that catches the sauce, like shells. Tangy, savoury, salty, garlicky goodness. Pair it with a simply cooked protein, and a garden salad.

      For comfort food – cheesy taco pasta. Ground pork, sauteed until browned, with taco seasoning, sauteed onion, red bell pepper, zucchini and garlic, some diced tomatoes, black beans, diced pickled jalapenos, hot sauce, all tossed with pasta and grated cheese. It would be good topped with crumbled taco chips and toasted in the oven; I usually do it stove top. This is basically a meal by itself, and usually for the next day too.

      If I’m feeling ambitious, homemade lasagna. Marcella Hazan’s bolognese sauce, layered with homemade noodles and a bechemel sauce with parmsesan cheese, topped with grated mozarella before sticking in the oven. The bolognese sauce takes a minimum of 6 hours to make, and it’s a fairly dry sauce, so I parboil the noodles first.

      1. Jules the First*

        Cheesy taco pasta sounds brilliant…going to have to try that one!

        My fave noodle dish at the moment is fusilli tossed with good basil pesto and topped with crispy chickpeas.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      This recipe is a favorite as much because it has childhood memories as for its taste and ease to make. I boil macaroni noodles briefly before they’re fully done, put them in the same enamel and iron baking dish that my mother used when I was a kid, layer sliced cheddar cheese inside and on top, and pour a can of crushed tomatoes including the juice over the top with all the juice. I add salt, and bake the whole thing covered so the noodles absorb the tomato flavor. My very favorite macaroni and cheese dish. For someone who is a major fan of pasta and dislikes cooking in general, this dish with plenty of leftovers is heaven. And I’m going to bookmark this thread because noodles noodle noodles.

    3. Lena Clare*

      Dan dan mian (peddler’s noodles)
      I use vegan mince but obviously traditionally it’s made with meat: fry it in sesame oil, garlic and ginger, then add spring onions and some dark soy sauce.
      In a bowl I make a paste of tahini, sesame oil, chilli oil, and light sauce sauce, then I toss the noodles in that. Add stock over the paste noodles, then top with the mince and more chilli oil, spring onions, and sesame seeds. It’s so delicious.

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m American and I thought mince(meat) was a pie filling with nuts and dried fruits? Is mince something you can buy premade? I’m loving these new to me recipes. :)

        1. Generic Name*

          Did some quick googling, I’m thinking you mean it’s typically made with finely chopped or ground meat. Is that accurate?

          1. Lena Clare*

            Yes that’s right! As UK dancer says, it’s ground meat. I think the original recipe used ground pork.
            We always call mincemeat, mincemeat, to differentiate it from mince (which is actual meat), sometimes called minced meat. LOL.

              1. UKDancer*

                I think the pie filling originally would have contained meat alongside the dried fruit and spices. I know I saw a 16th century recipe which did on a TV show about the Tudors once. I guess the name stuck even though the ingredients have changed. If I’m making mince pies I tend to use Mrs Darlington’s mincemeat as that’s the best in my view.

                1. Barbara Eyiuche*

                  The recipe my mother used came from her English ancestors, and the pie filling had dried fruit, sugar, minced beef (ground beef), and suet. I’m now wondering just how old the recipe was.

                2. UKDancer*

                  @Barbara Eyiuche I’m guessing that would be a pre 20th century recipe. I use my grandmother’s recipe which is from the 1930s (and came from her sister who was in service) and it doesn’t contain meat.

                  I did a brief google and nobody appears to know precisely why the recipe changed to remove the meat but the general consensus appears to be that it was at some point during the 19th century.

        2. UKDancer*

          I think what we call mincemeat in the UK and some other places is what in the US is called ground beef. We tend to call it minced beef or mincemeat but we mean basically a meat that has been put through a mincer. It’s usually beef but can be turkey, lamb or pork. Or indeed a vegan equivalent. You can mince it yourself or you get it already done.

          That which goes into mince pies is also called mincemeat but it’s mixed fruit and citrus peel. You can make it from scratch or you can buy a jar. I tend to do the latter.

          Usually the context indicates what is required.

    4. UKDancer*

      I made a lovely Thai duck stir fry last night which I had with noodles. That was lovely and very easy. I stir fried the duck strips with garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, red pepper and onion and used soy sauce, oyster sauce, sweet chili and stock to make the sauce.

      Another favourite is tagliatelle with chorizo. Very easy, boil the water and mostly cook the dried pasta. Then fry the cubed or sliced chorizo with green pepper and onion. Drain the pasta retaining some of the water in a mug and add pasta to the frying pan. Add some of the water if you need and some pecorino and some rocket. Stir until well mixed and serve with more parmesan and bread.

      I also have a recipe for chicken arrabbiata bake which I usually serve with penne tricolore. This thread reminds me I’ve not done that in a while.

    5. Dear liza dear liza*

      Baked ziti, bc I don’t have the patience to make lasagna layers. Rao’s tomato sauce, ricotta, browned sausage, a little parm, mixed with penne pasta, covered in mozzarella, baked- so delicious. Garlic bread as a side to mop up the leftovers, yum.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Got Rao’s for the first time this week, as I was going to make baked arancini and their marinara was on sale. Really great!

        1. Jay*

          I introduced my folks to it a couple of years ago because it was my favorite jar sauce. When looking back where they lived they discovered that it was remarkably diabetic friendly, which is important for my Dad.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      From Smitten Kitchen, Martha Stewart’s Macaroni and Cheese. Everything you want in a homemade mac n cheese. Sadly my starving teenage athlete discovered he was allergic to dairy, so I don’t make it often anymore.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Two more from Smitten Kitchen:
      Corn, Bacon, and Parmesan pasta is one of the best ways to eat summer corn. A quick easy stovetop dish.

      Parmesan Oven Risotto is now my go-to risotto. You bake it rather than stirring constantly or simmering any second stock pots, and it is delicious. This I made last week, and then the leftovers into baked arancini with marinara sauce.

      1. Pippa K*

        Yes! Someone mentioned the oven risotto here recently, I tried it, and I may never make risotto any other way again.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      homemade mac and cheese with bbq pulled pork mixed in. Yum yum.

      I also just did a chicken pesto pasta this week that was super easy and quick — melt together equal parts of cream cheese and pesto (I used about 6 ounces of each and came out with six servings) with 1/2-1 cup of chicken or veggie broth in a big pan, then throw in a box of cooked pasta (I used bow-ties but whatever), a bag of baby spinach leaves and a pound of cooked chopped chicken, toss together and cook until it’s heated through and the spinach is wilty.

      Every time I go to Costco, I buy a couple of their rotisserie chickens and then when I get home, I rip all the meat off and we chop it up and put it in portioned packets in the freezer, exactly for this sort of thing, so I just used that for the chicken. But if you were starting from raw chicken, you could easily just cook it in the pan, then huck everything else in on top of it.

    9. Cranky lady*

      Umm…everything? I love noodles…baked penne with ricotta, tomato sauce, and mozzarella; fettuccine with mushrooms, garlic, Parmesan and lemon; Korean japchae (sweet potato noodles with vegetables); and Cincinnati style chili over pasta.

    10. Charlotte Lucas*

      I love the Hot and Sour noodles in the Vegan Vittles cookbook (from Farm Sanctuary). But I also love lasagne, too.

      A few years back, Milk Street published a recipe for asparagus with soba noodles & miso butter. It’s become one of my go-to spring recipes.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      I just made linguini with sauteed chicken, broccolini, rosemary, lots of garlic, olive oil, white wine and parmesan. It was wonderful!
      I can’t wait to make the recipes above. They all sound fantastic!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Sure! So:
          3 or 4 big garlic cloves peeled and sliced thin
          4 T olive oil
          6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bit sized pieces
          2 bunches broccolini, chopped to 1 inch pieces (approx 4 c total?)
          Salt and pepper
          dried rosemary crushed up (about 1 T)
          1 to 1 1/2 c dry white wine
          grated Italian parmesan (probably 1/4 c for the sauce and then more to pass at table)
          1 package linguini that you cook toward the end of making the sauce

          Saute half the garlic in half the olive oil until the garlic is lightly browned. Remove garlic from pan and reserve. Add broccolini to pan and saute over med high heat, maybe adding a bit of water if necessary, until almost done. Remove broccolini from pan
          Add rest of olive oil and garlic to pan, cook until garlic is lightly browned, remove garlic from pan, add chicken and cook over med high heat, adding salt, pepper and rosemary. Once pretty much cooked, add broccolini and rest of ingredients, including reserved garlic, except pasta and cheese. Cook until cooked through and melded, then add the cheese and simmer over low heat, stirring until all combined.
          Serve sauce over pasta and sprinkle with parmesan.
          You could make this as a cream sauce and it’s divine, but I’m trying not to eat stuff like that!

    12. Holly the spa pro*

      My go-to is a shrimp pasta with a light garlic butter sauce. It’s so versatile since you can add anything to the base to change up the flavors like capers, artichoke hearts, broccoli, etc.

      I’m also a sucker for a tuna noodle casserole, such a comfort food. My husband has been into making home made Mac and cheese with different flavors/components each time. Im getting a little fluffy but hot Noodle dishes are such a comfy winter food.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I love mac-n-cheese variations :) Pizza mac, taco mac, pulled pork bbq mac is the BEST, I did a spinach artichoke mac with chicken and bacon a couple times, chicken bacon ranch mac.

    13. Charlotte Lucas*

      First – this thread makes me hungrier for noodles than I normally am on a Saturday morning.

      I just remembered another one. A local pizza place makes a “Drunken Ravioli” pizza. Hand-tossed crust, vodka sauce, mini cheese ravioli, mozzarella, & asiago. It’s pretty amazing.

      I haven’t had it in a while, as I started making homemade pizza once a week & only need so much pizza in my diet.

    14. Elle Woods*

      One of my all-time favorites is a creamy shrimp and corn pasta with tomatoes and spinach. When I saw the recipe on Pinch of Yum my first thought was “corn in pasta?” But it really works. I also love any sort of Asian noodle dish with pad Thai and pad see ew being my favorites.

    15. the cat's ass*

      This is a blast from my childhood in MA, where American Chop Suey (no idea why it was called that) was a thing: brown 1lb each ground pork and beef with a chopped onion, add oregano, S&P and add tomato sauce (i go with a jar of TJ’s 3 cheese tomato sauce), and then add in most of a package of cooked rotini. Even better the next day. This makes a LOT, and I will frequently make half the sauce without pasta and freeze it for later use. I’ve also made it with ground turkey and that’s not too bad either. I bring this to work for lunch and people alway want to know that it is, and now i make it for our potlucks (or i used to, pre panini).

      1. GoryDetails*

        “American Chop Suey” sounds a lot like the “goulash” my mother would make – mostly the same ingredients, but she used spaghetti and just the ground beef, no pork. Added a chopped green pepper, I think. I really liked that, but it wasn’t until I got out of college that I discovered that it bore no relationship at all to traditional goulash recipes!

        1. NeutralJanet*

          Sounds like your mother was making American goulash! There’s American goulash and Hungarian goulash–I have no idea why they have the same name, they really aren’t similar at all other than both having beef and tomatoes, but there you go.

          1. UKDancer*

            That’s fascinating and explains why in a book I read recently, the dish being called “goulash” was nothing like the one I make. I was wondering why they were using minced beef and noodles. My goulash (using a BBC recipe) involves stewing steak, peppers, onion, tomatoes, paprika and wine cooked very long and slow. I tend to serve it with rice or new potatoes.

            I’m not sure my version is very authentically Hungarian but I like it which is the main outcome of cooking in my view.

        2. the cat's ass*

          definitely the ACS is a regional thing in my neck of southern MA! I’ve heard it called american Goulash too and the addition of a green pepper sounds awesome.

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Yup, near Boston native here and ACS (but not called Goulash) was definitely a thing growing up!!

            1. KimmyBear*

              Grew up eating ACS in CT. But my mom’s college roommate was from Boston so she may be the source.

      2. Love me, love my cat*

        Quick, someone help me up! I just fell off my chair. Actually cooked something today and settled in with a heaping bowl and AAM to keep me company. It’s a big bowl of….American Chop Suey. Especially weird since I don’t make it very often, even tho it’s so good!

    16. Monty and Millie's Mom*

      I like Poor Man’s Lasagna. I make our into a hotdish because I prefer it, but it’s supposed to be layered, like a lasagna.
      *2 boxes mac ‘n cheese, prepared
      *1 lb. hamburger, browned and drained (with 1 onion, optional)
      *1 jar spaghetti sauce
      *shredded cheddar cheese, about 2 cups or to taste
      Mix everything together in a pot and heat through, top with a little extra cheese. (For the “right” way, layer the mac ‘n cheese in a 9×13 pan, then layer on the hamburger, then the spaghetti sauce, then top with cheese. Bake in oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes until heated through and cheese melted. )
      I’m not a fancy cook, but my food usually tastes pretty good, is relatively cheap, and can be made quickly!

      1. Anono-me*

        I do a ‘lazy lasagna’ that you might like.

        1 family size or 1 1/2 – 2 normal size bag/s of stuffed ravioli
        1 jar of pasta sauce
        1 bag of shredded Italian cheese
        1 box of thawed and well drained frozen spinach (optional)

        Mix everything, but 1/2 of the cheese, together in a large baking dish. Bake for about 30-45 minutes at 350 °F. Top with the rest of the cheese and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

        1. Clisby*

          I do what we call “slacker’s lasagna.”
          Assemble all the ingredients for lasagna. Except don’t bother with lasagna noodles, they’re a PITA. Cook ziti/shells/penne/something like that al dente.
          Make a meat sauce by browning ground beef and adding a jarred sauce (I like Paul Newman’s and Rao’s.)
          Mix sauce, pasta, a couple of beaten eggs, ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan.
          Put into a greased casserole dish. Put more mozzarella and parmesan on top. Bake until done.

    17. NeutralJanet*

      I like to make an oven roasted ratatouille, cooking it a little extra long so that it really breaks down, and then mixing that with noodles. I usually add sundried tomatoes, and sometimes sausage or chicken. I really just love eggplant and am always trying to find more ways to cook it.

    18. GoryDetails*

      I enjoy many types of noodle dishes, from the very simple – flat noodles with butter-toasted breadcrumbs, for example – to various types of mac and cheese (Buffalo mac-and-cheese is a special favorite) and onward.

      1. TinaTurner*

        I’ve got my occasional craving for “Golden Lasagna” — just lasagna w/o tomato or meat, using ricotta and lots of melty mozz. on top, w/sweet oniion and garlic.

        I’m adding Mascarpone I have on hand to smooth out the grainy ricotta.

    19. Girasol*

      Mom’s special company dish was Graham Kerr’s chicken breasts on linguine. Saute chicken in butter, then take the chicken out and add to the buttery drippings a half pint of heavy cream and several tablespoons of liver pate. Put the chicken on top of a plate of linguini and douse it all with the cream sauce. The first time I made it I thought I’d copied the instructions wrong. Eww, liver! But somehow the combination is heavenly.

    20. Slinky*

      I recently made a dish that was basically udon with carbonara sauce. It was delicious and we’ll definitely be making it again! Recipe to follow.

    21. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      I have two: One uses bow-tie or similar size pasta, and while that’s cooking, stir-fry pre-cooked sun-dried tomato sausage slices until browned, remove from pan, add a little olive oil and lightly stir-fry sliced zucchini and summer sausage, add color pepper slices pathway through. Remove, add more oil if needed, then lightly stir-fry grape tomatoes. Drain pasta when done, add sausage and peppers, vegetables, and tomatoes (can also add black olives and or cooked mushrooms), and fresh basil, plus a drizzle of good olive oil. Toss together, breaking up some of the tomatoes. Add cubed fresh mozzarella and toss again. Can add garlic and onion if you want, but I like the fresh flavors by themselves.
      The other isa Hungarian dish. Cook egg noodles, and while that’s going on, stir-fry chopped cabbage in butter until the edges start to brown and it’s tender. Drain noodles, add to cabbage, add salt, pepper, and ground caraway. Use as a side dish,or add sliced, browned smoked sausage for a hearty main dish.

    22. YUM!*

      Beef stroganoff is my all time favorite noodle dish. Or really, any dish. We lost mom’s recipe years ago and I’ve not found a good substitute. Would anyone share theirs?

      1. Wink the Book*

        I really enjoy the Budget Bytes one pot recipe. I always add a bit extra garlic and black pepper and make sure to get the good Polish egg noodles.

    23. Marion Ravenwood*

      Good old spaghetti bolognese or macaroni cheese for me. If I’m going out, then I’ve always got a soft spot for spaghetti alla vongole.

    24. Nerfmobile*

      One of my favorite low-prep meals, and easy to adjust to your personal preference:
      – a bag of mixed frozen veggies (12-16 ounces to serve two) or could obviously prep your own fresh
      – spaghetti or other long thin noodles
      – jarred tomato-based spaghetti sauce (or other sauce of your choice)
      – roughly 4 ounces of soft fresh goat cheese

      Start water for the pasta and put noodles in when boiling. Meanwhile, put veggies in a large skillet and sauté til soft. Add sauce – you’ll want enough to coat the veggies and the noodles and stir, bring to low. When the noodles are ready, drain and add to skillet. Reserve about 1/4 of the goat cheese for garnish and stir the rest into the veggie/pasta/noodle skillet. This will turn the sauce creamy. When cheese is melted and mixed in, dish out skillet content into large bowls or on plates. Top with reserved goat cheese (crumbled or in slide rounds depending on the nature of your cheese).

    25. Professor Plum*

      Oh the power of suggestion. I have mushrooms that need to be cooked. I have a zucchini to spiralize into zoodles. Had to go to the store for beef, sour cream and parmesan. Thanks for tonight’s dinner idea!

    26. Owlgal*

      I made goulash…. well, my own version. Ground beef, elbow noodles, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, half an onion, half a package of spaghetti seasoning & half a package of chilli seasoning. Brown the beef & drain. Chop the onion. Boil the noodles. Combine everything & mix. Serve with shredded cheese & garnish with green olives.

    27. The Other Dawn*

      I got this recipe from the Epicurious website years ago. It’s my favorite tune noodle casserole recipe. When I visit various relatives out of state and I’m staying with them for a few nights, I usually make it for dinner one night. The bread crumb topping is the best part of the whole thing, in my opinion, so make them fresh. Super easy–just toss the bread in the food processor.

      Changes I made: I never add the mushrooms, since my husband and a few other people don’t like them. I usually use two cans of tuna. I like more tuna, plus it replaces the mushrooms in terms of bulk.

      Tuna Noodle Casserole
      Makes 4 to 6 servings

      1 medium onion, finely chopped
      4 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
      10 oz mushrooms, trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick (4 cups)
      2 teaspoons soy sauce
      1/4 cup Sherry
      1/4 cup all-purpose flour
      2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
      1 cup whole milk
      2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
      1/4 teaspoon salt
      1 (6-oz) can tuna in olive oil, drained
      6 oz dried curly egg noodles
      1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (from 3 slices firm white sandwich bread)
      4 oz coarsely grated Cheddar (I just use shredded cheese since it’s easier)
      1 tablespoon vegetable oil

      Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

      Cook onion in 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with a pinch of salt in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to moderately high and add mushrooms, then sauté, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms begin to give off liquid, about 2 minutes. Add soy sauce and continue to sauté mushrooms, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Add Sherry and boil, stirring occasionally, until evaporated. Remove from heat.

      Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and whisk in flour, then cook roux, whisking, 3 minutes. Add broth in a stream, whisking, and bring to a boil, whisking. Whisk in milk and simmer sauce, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in mushroom mixture, lemon juice, and salt. Flake tuna into sauce and stir gently. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

      Cook noodles in a 5- to 6-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain noodles in a colander and return to pot. Add sauce and stir gently to combine. Transfer mixture to baking dish, spreading evenly. Toss together bread crumbs and cheese in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss again, then sprinkle evenly over casserole. Bake until topping is crisp and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 30 minutes.

    28. Bluebell*

      Over the pandemic I’ve gotten really good at improvising pasta with a cheese sauce. But if I want to make more effort, I love two Smitten Kitchen recipes: pasta w eggplant Ragu (also Uses cherry tomatoes) and sheet pan chow main, which can use a lot of different veggies.

  3. WoodswomanWrites*

    This isn’t seeking advice about The Place We Don’t Discuss on Weekends, just providing context for my question. I have multiple pieces of original framed artwork that used to be on the walls of my office. I subsequently left and started a new role where I’m working from home, and likely will never have my own full-time professional space.

    I like the art but live in a small space where I’ve already got a set-up with one piece of other existing art on each wall. The artwork I had to bring home, five pieces including one large woodblock print, has been sitting leaning against a wall out of the way ever since. I just don’t know what to do with it.

    I’ve seen other homes where people have walls with multiple pieces hung close together and they work for their decor. I wouldn’t know how to go about doing that when the pieces don’t naturally cluster together. Some are paintings and some are photographs, and with my small apartment I’m wondering if they would make the space feel too cluttered. I enjoy the pieces themselves and they have meaning because they depict places that are special to me, including one that was a gift from the photographer. I’m not ready to part with them and may eventually have more wall space when I eventually retire and move in a few years.

    Has anyone else arranged a mishmash of artwork in a small space? Or decide you were okay with just storing some of it until you could display it later?

    1. Really*

      There’s no reason you can’t just try hanging them all and seeing how you feel about it. As far as grouping goes I don’t think there’s just one ‘right’ way to do it. Maybe there are related or contrasting colors or similar frame styles (you could replace some). Or even just what fits together in the space. Or just how a group makes you feel or invoke memories.

    2. RagingADHD*

      The search term you want is gallery wall, I think. There are a lot of design blogs that give different approaches to choosing and arranging pieces, that all seem to look good.

      1. Jen Erik*

        Also worth searching ‘salon-style’. When my daughter was hanging a mix of pictures, we found that yielded more practical advice – with both search terms you get to see a lot of good practical examples, but the latter explained the how-to better.
        We did do the thing of cutting paper to the sizes of the pictures and arranging them on the floor, but the thing that worked well was her husband taking pictures of the pictures and then virtually arranging and rearranging them on a photo of the actual wall on his ipad. (I don’t know how he got everything to scale – young people and their technical wizardry.)
        It does look really well now.

        1. Jen Erik*

          Just to say, when I thought about it, he probably took a picture of the cut-to-size blanks on the wall, then photoshopped the actual pictures on to them.

    3. I take tea*

      We have one wall with several art works on, and I like it. Took some tries to get a good mix though. Try laying them on the floor or a bed to see how they fit together. We also have put up art in some less conventional spots, as over the door frames or inside a book shelf. But our home opt for cluttery but cosy generally.

      I know some people who rotate them, as KateM suggests, but it feels stressful to me.

      1. Sue*

        Yes to less conventional spots!
        I prop large pics against walls. I hang art on doors. I have some tiny pictures on a big mirror.

    4. mreasy*

      I love the look of different pieces hung in clusters, and we do it on a few of our walls. The best advice I got was to try it out on the floor first, then sketch it out so you can replicate the arrangement you like on the wall. You might be surprised at how good things can look once you rearrange them a few times!

    5. Siege*

      I’ve done both. I function best with a LOT of visual noise, so there are multiple art pieces on every wall of my home except one in the kitchen which I covered with tile stickers. :)

      One way to make a gallery wall work is to limit your number and style of frames. I bought a bunch of Etsy prints last year and put almost all of them in very simple black, white, or neutral wood frames from Target. Pay attention to the spacing, and do not skip the step where you make paper mock-ups of your pieces’ size and tape them up. I initially got 31 pictures into a slice of wall but they were too close together and putting six on other walls helped.

      Go off your eye-line. I hang a lot of art low (like, a couple feet from the floor) or high, but you can’t do that if it’s the only piece on the wall. The more you mass art, the less an individual piece is the focal point so you can start doing stuff that’s not recommended for single pieces.

      Fill in with smaller sizes. I really like 4×6 and 5×7 printables from Etsy for this. If you put up pictures in multiple sizes you can direct the eye where you want it.

      And I do have a couple of large, framed posters that are stored because I have no room. Because I have no room, they’re behind the cat tree, turned so they don’t get light. I’m unlikely to rotate them in because they’re poster size and most of my spaces aren’t, but I have them for if/when I change my mind.

      1. Siege*

        And to revisit the gallery wall – the art in mine is totally unrelated and ranges from floral macro photography to night skies to a pencil drawing of a Bharatanatyam dancer. Keeping the frames related means it doesn’t matter what’s inside them. They go together because they mean something to you.

    6. fposte*

      I rotate, but I’m also planning a little more grouping soon.

      IMHO, taste rules on this; if it looks good to you together, it’s fine. If you want to get fancy, you can get new frames/mats that bump up the coordinating even more. For a lot us, we’ll gravitate towards visual styles with some commonality anyway, so it’s often pretty easy to get a theme going or work in a melody/harmony kind of way.

    7. Lady Danbury*

      I had a gallery wall in my last apartment and it worked really well. I used the same types of frames (color/style) on all of the pieces to add an element of cohesiveness. Try playing around with placement by laying them flat on the floor. You can even map out the dimension of the wall using chalk to get a better feel for how they’d fit in the space.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I am a big fan of well-done gallery walls. It sounds like you are talking about that. Mine–I have one in the living room and one in the master bedroom–are composed of various types art, including three-dimensional pieces. There is no theme per se but they are all there because I love them. They all mean something to me.

      Admittedly, I have a strong sense of design so I never plan how to do them but just add items one by one as they come into my life. My first one took four years to complete. Here are some links that can provide good ideas for you but I would say the most important thing by far is that whatever you include should be, in fact must be, things you love.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Links:
        If you go eclectic then use a limited hand on other walls in the same room. Keep it simple so you don’t make the entire room look cluttered and/or messy. Make the gallery wall the star and everything else in a supporting role. You can also go with a theme like sailing or cars or rain or anything you are passionate about but still keep the variety in textures, sizes, frames, etc.

        Houzz: https://www.houzz.com/photos/query/gallery-wall
        Apartment Therapy: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/search?q=gallery%20wall
        Laurel Bern Blog: https://laurelberninteriors.com/?s=gallery+walls
        DigsDigs: https://www.digsdigs.com/?s=gallery+walls

  4. Poodle wants*

    I would like some advice from the dog owners amongst you about my 5 month old miniature poodle. He wakes very early wanting to pee (no problem) but also be feed his breakfast. If he doesn’t get his breakfast he will get increasingly antsy, escalating to full barking. This has been happening earlier and earlier and he’s been waking at 4am lately. I’m refusing to feed him until 5am. Previously I held out until 6am but it has slipped back to 5am because the barking is too much. Once he has eaten, played and toileted (around an hour) I take him back to bed and he does usually snuggle in and go to sleep for another hour, as do I. It’s not a disaster as I now go early to bed but I’d rather he didn’t want fed at 4am. He seems ravenous at every meal although I feed him the recommended portion size. He is on dry kibble. Does anyone have any advice. I’m getting a lot of “don’t let him be the boss of you” and “just tell him in a stern tone to go to sleep” type chat from my family and, well …. it doesn’t help. Is there anything else I should try? Thanks.

    1. Cedrus Libani*

      You sure he’s not just hungry? Recommended portion size is a decent starting point, but some critters just have a fast metabolism, same as people. It can also vary by season. My kitties are on a portion control feeder, but they do understand that one yowls at the human when the feeder isn’t working, and I’ve found that it takes ~15% more food in winter to prevent early-morning complaints.

      1. Poodle wants to eat early*

        Thank you! It may be that simple. I will increase his portion sizes and see how I go. His meal times have become earlier across the board, i.e. he now has dinner at 5pm ( again … barking) so I will try making that later again to help him stay full all night. I realize I have been treating the portion size recommendations as gospel.

        1. Bagpuss*

          It may be easier to push the evening feed back later, when you’re up and can focus on training and not rewarding barking etc, and that might help with the early mornings as well. Maybe feed a bit more in the evening, too.

        2. Dear liza dear liza*

          You can also give him a sizable snack at bed time. My large breed dog, who is 4, still gets about 1/4 cup of food and a cookie at night.

        3. Missb*

          Yeah our vet always told us about how her lab puppy would need 12 cups of good quality kibble a day.

          Our lab mix- definitely twice the size of a lab- would only eat max 4 cups as a pup (1.5 cups as an adult).

          Up the food amount! But keep in mind that’s not the lifetime amount.

    2. Dwight Schrute*

      Ooph yeah thats rough! I would slowly shift the breakfast time. He likely is hungry! Puppies need to eat A LOT initially. So instead of feeding at 4 am, feed at 405 for a bit, then 415, then 430, etc. eventually you can shift it to a later time.

    3. The Dogman*

      How often do you feed him?

      Does he get any treats or chews before bed?

      I would try giving him a little more food before bed for a bit, and if that doesn’t help then maybe a tiny snack bowl once he has been out, then breakfast at the normal time after a snooze.

      He is young, so it could be he is just hungry cos he is growing fast.

    4. sswj*

      When you come back in from his pee break, give him a chunk of carrot, a cookie, or a pinch of his regular food. Not a full meal, just a little. You could also splash some water on the kibble to add more initial volume to his stomach.

      Give him his treats BEFORE he starts barking. If you give in to his noise he’s learning that he just has to keep being loud to be fed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Check with your vet. Sometimes kibble does not cut it. They are carnivores and do need meat. Mine eats 7 ounces of meat at every meal. I came to this number by trying different amounts. With 6 ounces he lost weight and with 8 ounces he gained weight so 7 ounces is his magic number. He is a high energy dog and he burns those calories right up. (He is about knee high and weighs 60 pounds. The vet says he looks great and at age 13 he can still out run me.)

      While you are waiting to talk to your vet, give him more to eat at night. His food is not staying with him for whatever reason so he needs more food to carry him through to breakfast. You can also work in whole food treats. I switch each week- but my dog will eat carrots, pieces of apple, peas in edible pods and similar things.

      Once you have tweaked his diet and you are satisfied he is in a better place, then you can start to deal with the behaviors. But I am almost guessing the behaviors will melt away.

      Oh yeah, one more thing. My dog does not drink much water at all. So the vet had me add a 1/2 cup of water to each meal. Your dog would need less water than that because of relative size. It’s winter and the heat in the house causes my skin and hair to dry out, my little buddy has to be feeling similar things.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        I have also cracked an egg in my dog’s bowl to add a bit more protein, when I wasn’t able to get his usual XXL food for a week due to supply chain issues.

    6. Dog and cat fosterer*

      I tell adopters to never feed their new pet when they wake up, and you are the textbook reason for this!

      First, I would switch now and feed the pup later in the morning, when you are dressed and fed, and after his walk if that’s possible. He will bark a lot at first but that’s going to happen either way at this point. The amount of food mentioned above is a good thing to consider, as I start with the guide and then feed them more if they are ribby. My adults are sleek so I don’t overfeed, and I judge amount of food based on their ribs which is harder with fluffy fur. I’m used to labs that are often missing the gene to turn off hunger, and they don’t bark constantly so yours has a learned behavior. He may be hungry, but he doesn’t have to bark constantly in the morning about it.

      I feed my pups, adults, fosters and mine by scooping out the daily amount each morning, and feeding them bits throughout the day. Returns from walks are the bigger amounts as they are better scheduled which helps with toileting, and also a few kibbles for random little training sessions and good behavior.

      You can try a special chewing toy as part of your early morning toilet break if that will keep him busy. I would have suggested a frozen kong with treats but in this case I don’t know if any food would be helpful.

      You’re right that your family advice isn’t helpful!

      1. Generic Name*

        I am very proud that I did then when I got my current set of cats. I feed them their wet food at 5pm ish (when I get home for work). I did not want to awaken me early in the weekends, and they don’t! Of course, they’ll start meowing right food at 3 pm, but much better than 3 am.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think he’s just a hungry, growing boy. I agree with the folks saying to push the night feed as late as possible and increase the portions. And don’t worry! Just because he’s doing this now doesn’t mean he’ll do it forever.

      1. SnowedIn*

        Maybe he needs to eat more often? Not more overall but smaller portions more often. We have a poodle mix and she has a sensitive stomach and would throw up bile if she isn’t fed often. So we switched to three feedings a day. This works out because I WFH full time and can do a meal around 2:30. Good luck!

          1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

            Yes, this. I feed my adult dogs kibble 2x a day with a snack at noon. Once my last hound puppy reached adult weight (75 lb), I reduced her noon meal to about 3 oz of canned food frozen into a Kong.

            1. Sloanicote*

              Question: does this make your adult dog toilet more often too? I’m not keen to be picking up 3-4 x a day now when it used to be 1 or 2x a day. Considering shifting back to feeding twice a day.

              1. Dog and cat fosterer*

                For me no. I give small bits as mentioned above and one big poop for one dog, and 1-2 poops for the other, and 2 for another, almost always on our walks

              2. Stunt Apple Breeder*

                Not that I have noticed, mine go for a walk right before or after a meal, so there is a ~10-min or so walk for each meal and another 30 min walk to work off the day’s napping when we get home from work. Good quality food with less filler tends to make less to pick up. The small amount of canned food in the Kong doesn’t seem to increase *ahem* output.

                Disclaimer: Hounds are both large and high energy, so if you have another breed your experience may differ.

    8. Assorted Ability*

      Miniature pups can also have low blood sugar. Some folks will put a little corn syrup in their water. A treat when going back in might do the trick as well.

    9. Sloan Kittering*

      So, not like this will solve all the issues, but I wanted to throw it out there because it was SO useful to me: apparently the ideal time to feed a dog is 30 minutes after you *want* him to wake up. I was doing this all wrong and getting annoyed with the dog for not sleeping in, but I wasn’t really working with his biology correctly. They will always want to be fed a little sooner and a little more than schedule, but this might at least give you a sense of what to aim for. (As I said thought obviously this isn’t the crux of your question and hopefully others will have good advice).

    10. Poodle wants to eat early*

      Thanks so much to everyone who has commented. This is so, so helpful and reassuring. I’ve already started increasing his portions and will try some other ideas you’ve suggested. Thank you!

    11. LemonLyman*

      Admittedly all my rescues have been adults so I have never had a puppy but I have found couple of things that have worked for me.

      * I always take my dog out for a pee right before bed. And there’s no water where the dog sleeps. This prevents accidents and the tank is empty so they don’t have to pee in early morning. Then I give the dog a treat when we come in so my dogs have quickly realized that if they run in to their bed and wait, they’ll get a bedtime treat.
      * The kibble serving amounts are a starting point and guideline depending on activity level of your dog, not a hard and fast rule.
      * Puréed pumpkin (found in a can just double check ingredients that you’re not accidentally buying pie filling) is an excellent way to bulk up a meal without adding a ton of calories. Maybe mix in a bit with each meal to help puppy feel a little more satiated.
      * Dogs learn routine very quickly so if you give in to the barking, puppy will think that to get food, he needs to bark. You’ll want to nip that in the bud quickly or he’ll do that for all his meals.

      1. Sloanicote*

        “Dogs learn routine very quickly” ugh struggling with this so hard right now. My boy (recently adopted) seems to really want things to be the exact same every day, and I find that such a difficult thing to deliver. It makes me not want to do nice things for him because I’m afraid he’ll seize on it and start pestering me for that exact thing at that exact time forever and ever amen. Sadly my work schedule varies, and my mental health gets quirky when things start to feel like groundhog day with no deviation ever. I’d like him to work with me and be a bit more flexible on the timing of his walks – and sometimes give me a break when it’s raining or an ice sheet (I have a large fenced in yard so he’s not like deprived of exercise or the opportunity to relieve himself).

        1. Dog and cat fosterer*

          It can be hard with some dogs. The two I adopted are okay with any schedule because fostering can make my life unpredictable, but some of the fosters can be difficult. I’m not sure how to address that easily. Now I’m going to be mulling that for a while!

        2. SofiaDeo*

          Try praising him after a short time of him lying quietly. If yours loves routine, and learns that lying quietly will get praise and some petting, I bet he will do it more often. But I think you will have to do it hourly (maybe more initially) to get him in the habit. Even if you have to command him to “load up” or “go lie down” or whatever initially before the praise.

          1. Sloan Kittering*

            Yes, I’d be fine if his routine was settling down next to me in his nice warm bed until I tell him it’s time for his walkies!! I’m trying to establish that routine … he has a different routine in mind so far : D (he’s a senior dog and a generally calm, mellow breed so I’m hoping he will get there).

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              He’ll get there! My rescue dog gets two outside times in the morning, plus breakfast. Then I say “Let’s go to work!” And he rushes to the office, usually grabbing whichever toy (or his daily cucumber. Yes, really) to bring with him. He lies on his bed, I tuck him in and we’re good to go for a few hours. And he’s pretty young.
              Just have commands for the various things you’re doing. And dogs do like schedules overall. Try not to take his personality personally. You guys are still getting used to each other! It will all work out!

            2. Dog and cat fosterer*

              Rule of 3s
              It takes:
              3 days for a new animal to calm down a bit
              3 weeks to get into a routine
              3 months to feel at home

              Some animals take a bit longer. But you get the idea, that things will settle! Your experience is extremely typical

    12. Unkempt Flatware*

      An automated feeder on a timer is the only way I sleep in. I can feed three meals with mine on a timer.

    13. Owlgal*

      I’ve got a Yorkie. We feed after pottying in the morning. Late afternoon. Before bed. He also gets snacks of those little carrots in a bag. He’s a small boy at 10 lbs (but big for a Yorkie despite a sleek appearance). With small dogs, you’ve got to watch calories because they can gain weight quickly.

    14. SofiaDeo*

      When my dog was a puppy, I did a “modified free feeding”. He always had kibble out as a puppy, and I measured it/logged it daily to verify he didn’t have a sudden drastic change of intake. While the amount he ate varied a bit, I was warned to watch for sudden severe drops in food intake that could indicate illness. I did the same with water, always available but measured to see if there was a sudden decrease in intake. Puppies need to eat more often than older dogs. I noticed mine would play, eat nap…..and repeat, several times a day, his first year. He developed the habit of generally eating “almost” everything now, always leaving a bit in his bowl, like a tablespoon. When it’s time for the refill, I just add it to the bowl. There were a few times my dog was sick (teething, and giardia infection) and I knew almost right away, he stopped eating before showing other symptoms.

      As an adult, he is not a piggy dog and is more on the “slender” side. The vet is happy with his weight and Ive never needed to put him on a drastic diet. He still leaves food in his bowl, I still do this modified free feed. My partners dog, who only got fed X amounts as a growing animal, is a pig who will eat anything and everything. I now have the problem of the other dog cleaning out my dogs’ bowl when we aren’t looking, and I have to put bowls away away overnight.

      So IMO yours is likely waking up hungry. As others noted, the feeding guidelines are guidelines only, and amounts can vary. As long as ypur vet isn’t concerned with your puppy gaining way too much in between visits, extra food should be fine.Also, (sidebar) there are studies out indicating the higher quality of food our pets get early and throughout their life, the fewer health issues and vet visits occur later in life. So also make sure you are getting the highest quality you can afford. Excessive “hunger” in dogs and other animals occasionally is a specific nutrient craving. The dog overeats in an attempt to get enough of nutrient X. If you’re buying the very cheapest kibble possible, this may become an issue at some point.

    15. Gnome*

      In addition to the comments below, you may want to consider crate training if you haven’t already. It is handy for things like this, but also for when great aunt Mildred who is terrified of small dogs comes over (or you are having carpet removed and the workers need to leave the door open).

    16. Clisby*

      Oh, “just tell him in a stern tone to go to sleep”?
      Yeah, sure. That worked like a charm with my 5-month-old (human) babies. (Not.)

  5. Now or later*

    I can use advice about a financial dilemma. I’m about to purchase a used car from a relative. The car is not very old with low mileage and in great shape, and it was her idea because she know my old car died and she wants to help me out. We get along very well, and she’s definitely saving me a lot of money by selling it for less than she could get otherwise. Years ago she loaned me money when I bought my last used car, which was a lot older and cheaper, and everything went smoothly with my paying her back. She’s leaving it up to me to decide the down payment and how much I want to pay in monthly installments, including varying amounts each month and taking as long as I need.

    It’s taken me years to sock away my savings, and my monthly bills are currently manageable. If I give her an amount that is at or near the amount of what’s in my savings, it will mean my monthly payments are smaller but it will leave me without savings that will take a long time to build back up and have for any emergencies. The other option is to provide a smaller down payment but be saddled with monthly payments that will be a stretch because I don’t want to be owing money on this car beyond three years based on my winding down my years in the workforce. I welcome suggestions.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think it depends on the size of your emergency fund. I go by the common recommendation to keep 3-6 month’s expenses in savings. If you don’t have any extra saved for the car, I wouldn’t recommend blowing your emergency fund on it.

      If your choices are wiping out your savings or being in debt long-term, maybe this car isn’t affordable for you? Your relative might be offering a good deal, but that doesn’t necessarily make it the right deal for you.

    2. Berlin Berlin*

      If the arrangement is just between you and her, can you agree a smaller down payment, and a monthly schedule that would work out to eg 5 years, but that after maybe 2.5 years you’ll use your savings to pay her the entire remaining debt (like a second down payment)? If she’s happy with a longer repayment plan she should also be happy with that, and after a couple of years presumably you’ll have built up your savings appropriately (if this would wipe you out then anyway, then the car presumably isn’t affordable).

      1. Berlin Berlin*

        Should have added: I know you specifically mentioned strength training, and I’ve found it effective for strength too.

    3. Bagpuss*

      Since she is willing to be flexible, would it make sense to set repayments over more than 3 years but hope/plan to overpay?
      You could perhaps aim to put money aside each month (the difference between the agreed payments and what you would pay if you were doing it over 3 years) then pay her a chunk of that every 3 months or so.
      That way, you’d be able to pay it off over three years if all goes well but would have a bit of leeway for emergencies, and even if there are a couple of months each year where you are too stretched and can’t put the full amount aside you should wind up with much less still to pay at the end of 3 years.
      That said, it is also worth thinking about whether it is right for you or whether a smaller/cheaper car is better (or possible!)
      I would not totally drain your savings but look at the figures- maybe there’s a middle point where you use a bit more but not all of them?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Don’t give up your savings. This week alone I shelled out $200 for a battery and $600 for brakes.
      The system I used to handle my mortgage is what I call erring on the side of caution. I refi’ed. I opted to set myself for a smaller monthly payment with the idea that I could pay ahead when possible. It worked out very well. I will be paying off a 30 year loan in about 16 years. I am a big fan of building in some slack for unforeseens.

      In your setting you might even consider a modest down payment and using your savings to pay ahead a little each month. I think the key thing is to set a monthly amount that you will easily meet with no problems each month. Get that part nailed down.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I had to do the same thing, $200 for battery and $600 for tires, two weeks ago :( and mortgage too — I aimed for a smaller monthly payment, but pay additional to the principal every month that adds up to about 4 extra total payments per year.

      2. Now or later*

        I hear you about savings. I had an unexpected four-figure expense last year and because I had savings, I didn’t need to go into debt to cover it. I like your idea about the smaller monthly amount and getting ahead if I need to. I’ve been debt-free for a long time and I’m realizing that’s where my inclination to pay it off quickly came from. However, my relative has no requirement for when I pay the full amount, and I’m thinking now it makes sense to extend the timeline to make the monthly payments more manageable while keeping my savings intact.

    5. Numbers-minded layman*

      As I see it, the only real financial variable here is the interest rate. Well, that and inflation. If it’s an interest-free loan, you pay back the same number of dollars in the end, period. It doesn’t matter at all whether you make a big downpayment up front or just keep that money in your own bank and give it back to her over time: In either case you start with the same cash in your bank, earn the same paycheck over time, and pay back the same amount of dollars in the end. It’s more of an emotional decision whether you want to feel like it’s paid off but have less cash on hand, or want to keep more of your savings socked away in your bank for emergencies.

      The interest rate is the big variable, which isn’t mentioned in your description of the loan arrangement (and is very much a missing piece if you haven’t discussed it with her). If you owe interest on the loan, then the more you pay upfront the less total money you’ll spend on the car: Everything not paid up front will be paid back with interest (and interest adds up — google for a loan calculator). So then it’s more of a financial balancing act whether you want/need cash in the back and are willing to spend more over time (in interest) in order to not have to pay a big sum now; or whether you want to pay less in total by making a big down payment and then having less to pay back over time. They length of time of the payments also matters here — if you’re going to pay it all back really soon, interest doesn’t amount to much, but if you’re going to pay it back over a loooong time, that interest accrues every year on the money you haven’t paid back yet!

      And then, level II: Inflation is a thing. It works like a negative interest rate on the loan. Dollars buy less stuff in the future, and so in reality you come out ahead by borrowing money at a tiny interest rate and paying it back with future dollars that are each worth less to you (the NUMBER of dollars you have to pay back is the same, but because of inflation each of those dollars becomes less and less useful to you in the future so it “feels” like a smaller amount to repay).

      If the interest rate is the same as the inflation rate, the lender recoups the same “value” they started with, once the loan is repaid. If the interest rate is lower than the inflation rate, the money the lender ended up with after the loan was repaid doesn’t actually buy as much as it did before they loaned it out (and the borrower comes out ahead). And of course, if the interest rate is higher than inflation, the lender effectively makes a profit on the loan — that’s often why people lend money. And that’s how we intuitively think of loans working: the borrower has to pay money for the privilege of using somebody else’s money for a little while.

      I hope you find this helpful, rather than arcane, but the point is that inflation and interest rate both determine your advantage for paying now or later — and similarly, whether your relative comes out either behind or ahead once all is repaid. Of course, they just want to help you, so it may not matter to them whether they “make” or “lose” money selling you a car for below-market value, but it’s worth noting, and it definitely can influence your desired repayment plan.

    6. Not A Manager*

      Keep your savings. Set up a payment plan for the 3 years, even though it means a stretch. This is someone who is willing to work with you, and obviously you are very conscientious, so if something arises to make it hard to make a few payments, it sounds like she would be fine extending the payment schedule if necessary.

      If everything works out, you’ll have paid off the loan within the 3 years and maintained your savings for other needs. If you hit a glitch, you’ll either extend the payment terms or you’ll dip into savings at that time.

      What this boils down to is, if you give up your savings and have a sudden need for them, you don’t have a backup plan. If you set up a 3 year payment plan but hit a glitch, you have a built-in backup because your relative is willing to work with you.

      1. tamarack & fireweed*

        Yes, this.

        If you don’t dip (deeper than you are comfortable with) into your savings *now* you still have them in case you need to later.

    7. Now or later*

      Thanks, everyone. My relative genuinely is fine with whatever I come up with, including varying how much I pay from month to month and taking as long as I need to pay everything off. There’s also no interest.

      Your comments are helping me realize that the three-year payment period, which has been my own idea, is arbitrary and a reflection of my wanting this to be over with sooner than later. In reality, my relative has assured me that I can take as much time as I need to pay off the car. I think that by extending the period for payments, that will allow me to keep substantial savings and make monthly payments that aren’t a burden.

      1. Numbers-minded layman*

        One more element is credit reports — I have never done this but I think it is possible for a private loan to (somehow) be reported to the credit-report agencies, so that your timely payments on this private loan can help build credit the same way payments on a bank loan or standard car loan would have, if that is something you’re interested in. That can help with any future bank lending you might be interested in for any other purpose.

  6. Batgirl*

    This is a fitness question. Does anyone have any good advice for strength toning at home? Before moving into my new place I was going to the gym daily because my interim place was cramped in the morning. I was surprisingly pleased at the results I got just from using the tricep/bicep machine and ab machine on low weights. I’m a bit too far away from the gym now, but I liked having the habit and wondered if there was a way to duplicate it at home.

    1. Berlin Berlin*

      I really like 12 Minute Athlete (free app and online resources/workouts with a paid option). It’s what it sounds like, high intensity fairly brief workouts (eg you might do 3 rounds of 6 different exercises for 40 seconds each, or you might have to complete 5 rounds of 20 push-ups/20 squats/20 sit-ups as fast as possible, that kind of thing). Mostly body weight exercises (some of the workouts use a pull-up bar which is great if you can get one, but you can just substitute something else if not). You can get a good workout in a surprisingly short time if you’re pushing yourself, it’s great for cardio fitness, and it doesn’t wreck you (I love Spin, but sometimes it leaves me depleted for several hours!).

    2. The Dogman*

      Kettle bells.

      You cannot go wrong with them really, and lots of guides on exercise routines are online and some on youtube are really good to follow.

      You can pick them up fairly cheaply usually, and second hand ones will be fine, they are just lumps of steel with a handle anyway!

    3. mreasy*

      My husband uses resistance bands and loves it – he started when the gym closed for COVID. There are workouts available online specifically for them.

    4. Cubicle_queen*

      I use Get Mom Strong, which is a paid program, but you can find workouts on her Instagram. She uses mini-resistance bands (wrap around your thighs, legs, and ankles for different lateral movements), long resistance bands (use for arms and upper body; you can even loop it around something stable at hip height or overhead and use a dowel to imitate a rowing movement), and a Pilates ball for core work. Also hand weights for the usual variety of lifts. You can gets lots of burning and muscle-building with just these pieces.

    5. Jane*

      I bought some free weights in a range at my level of fitness and follow along to workouts on YT. I like Caroline Girvan, Juice & Toya, and Mad Fit. But there are so many to choose from. I know others who fully committed to buying the machines, but I’m guessing if you wanted to do that you wouldn’t be asking here, haha!

      1. cat socks*

        I also have dumbells at home and use the strength training workous from Fitness Blender on YouTube.

        1. Longtime Lurker*

          seconding Fitness Blender – great filtering to find just the right level, focus, and duration. If you’re newer to working out with them, I do recommend using the newer videos – advice has evolved over the years and some of the things they say in the oldest ones are not quite true anymore…

    6. J.B.*

      I do better going to the gym, mainly because they have a wide variety of stuff to use with body weight. There’s no reason you couldn’t replicate that at home and I love the suggestions for kettle bells and resistance bands. I would also suggest looking into TRX and medicine balls, then googling different exercises you can do with each.

    7. fposte*

      There’s You Are Your Own Gym, for a great slate of bodyweight exercises. I think the app might be free or low cost. exrx dot net also has a ton of exercises; click on the “Exercise Directory” link to browse.

      FWIW, I splashed out a few years ago on Bowflex adjustable weight dumbbells, and I’ve really liked having them. They’re not perfect for everything (I keep a few smaller hex dumbbells for lighter weight stuff) but they go up to 50 lbs apiece and store compactly, with each having about a 10″x18″ footprint.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I use an exercise ball and a mat for ab work (and legs and arms too). Combined with some exercise bands and simple isometrics, I keep in shape without even using free weights anymore. I used to use them, but I was getting some stress injuries in my wrists and forearms so I gave them up and haven’t missed them.

    9. NeutralJanet*

      I like Alex Crockford’s channel on YouTube! He has some videos with 15 minute dumbbell exercises that have been really great for me to do at home. If you don’t have any equipment at all, he does also have a bunch of bodyweight videos–I’ve only ever tried his upper body bodyweight video, so can’t vouch for the rest, but the one I did was great!

    10. Tacocat*

      You might like a TRX or similar device. It allows you to do bodyweight training at varying levels of difficulty. There are tons of workouts online and you can work from those or do your own thing. It’s relatively cheap if you go the off brand route and stows away nicely if space is limited.

    11. Aly_b*

      I would take a look at Casey Johnston’s Ask a Swole Woman column (now a newsletter) and don’t shy away from some adjustable dumbbells (easy at home) or moving towards a barbell (a little more infrastructure for home use but worth considering). Weight training is the best way to build strength and muscle. She’s got a Couch to Barbell program and e-book out that is a great resource with clear explanations of exercises, and a specific program and set of exercises and progressions to follow.

    12. Searching*

      To my great surprise, I’ve enjoyed the Peloton app (which I use with Chromecast to watch it on our TV). I did a 60-day free trial first, and now gladly pay the $13/mo. I still had some dumbbells but bought a few more to round out my collection. What I like about the app is the variety of classes and instructors. I now find myself doing all kinds of strength training, yoga, some cardio (when weather or travel doesn’t allow me to run outdoors), even occasional meditation. Until I discovered the app, I thought Peloton required that expensive bike or treadmill. I’ll never invest in that kind of equipment, but the dumbbells and yoga stuff have been well worth it. Of course it’s never as good (or as expensive…) as real life classes where instructors watch your form, but so far the classes I’ve taken included decent form pointers.

    13. Kuododi*

      If I am traveling, I throw a couple of resistant bands in my purse and while we are on bathroom breaks for “His Majesty the Royal Daschund” (Genuflect in his presence!!!), I’ll get in a few minutes with the bands as well as walking with the King.
      At home, I use light hand weights as well as different sizes of can goods for strength training.
      YouTube is a fantastic resource for exercise videos covering all skill sets. (beginner to expert.) Best regards Kuododi

  7. Orange Crushed*

    Has anyone ever lived somewhere and they found radon? I lived in the basement for 10 years at my parent’s house and when they sold it, they found radon and had to have a mitigation system put in. Sort of freaking out because of reading about it online. (ie: lung cancer)

    1. Anon scientist*

      Environmental scientist here. I live in an area where radon systems really should be in almost all basements, but I would guess that less than 5% actually have them. If the floor was intact (no big cracks), that lowers the risk. We have far lower risk tolerance than we used to (radon, arsenic/lead/radon in well water), which is good! But many, many people grew up with those as risk factors and turned out ok. You’re also at lower risk in general if your exposure was as an adult or older kid.

    2. Miel*

      This is completely anecdotal, but my mom grew up in southern MN, where probably every house should have radon mitigation systems, but in the 1960s probably none did. I don’t know of anyone on that side of the family with lung problems: two of her siblings are hardcore athletes at age 60, and her parents are 90 years old.

    3. Jen*

      So it’s important to conceptualize risk. Something might double your risk of getting cancer, but it raises the rate from something like 1% to 2%.

      Mitigating that risk is a good thing, especially from a public health perspective where you’re talking about millions of people more who get cancer. But it also doesn’t mean you individually are that likely to get that sick from the exposure.

      A lot of things like that are a paradox. Just because something is definitely harmful and should be prevented doesn’t mean you individually are that likely to get sick from it. So while mitigation is 100% something that should be done, it doesn’t mean you should feel that anxious about it.

      1. Generic Name*

        Right, and one of the reasons to mitigate is because it’s pretty cheap and easy. It’s generally less than $1000 and takes less than a day.

        1. A Feast of Fools*

          Can you expand on the cost, Generic Name?

          My next-door neighbor bought a real-time radon reader and said that the levels were in the 6-7 pCi/L range. We have pier-and-beam houses, so she had her husband put an industrial fan in their crawl space, to blow the air out of the air vents.

          The fan is LOUD and keeps me up on nights when it’s cool enough to open my windows. They’ve told me that radon remediation is in the $10K to $15K range and they’re saving up for it. I think they plan on having foam sprayed on the underside of their floors, sealing the house off from the air in the 2-3 foot high crawl space.

          FWIW, I bought a couple of the mail-in radon tests and my level is a smidge below 4 pCi/L. Their house is maybe 20-30 feet away from mine, so I have no idea why their reading is so much higher than mine.

    4. Generic Name*

      Yes. Both houses I’ve owned in Colorado I’ve installed radon systems. I mean, you can’t go back and undo the past. As an adult, I found out the house I grew up in was on the very edge of an area were houses had high lead levels in the yards due to a nearby steel mill. It was disconcerting, but I don’t seem any worse off for it.

    5. Malarkey01*

      Yes I grew up and live in an area where radon is in every house and no one worried about it when I was a kid in the basement bedroom. Now we have mitigation systems installed as a warranty condition with each house we buy, but that’s still somewhat unusual. Not downplaying the risk but a huge part of the central US where people have basements have also had radon and the risk is still pretty low.

    6. Anonymouse*

      Wondering if anyone has had experience with getting an IEP for a gifted elementary school student. My 3rd grader could be classified as gifted (was reading at 2.5, doing double digit addition in her head in KG, etc). She is bored and frustrated to the point of crying every night, hiding in the bathroom during certain lessons, tuning out during class, etc. Our state (NJ) doesn’t mandate IEPs for giftedness. Obviously we have talked to her teacher and principal with no meaningful effect. I know some people don’t see it as an issue, but as I see the mental health toll on my kid, it really is.

      1. MyFirstComment*

        I don’t have advice about how to get the school to do the right thing. But I was this kid and I want to validate your perception. The toll it takes is lifelong and real. I hope you are able to find a solution and commend you as a parent!

  8. JustForThis*

    Last week I asked for recommendations for fantasy novels written by women. Thank you so very much to everyone who commented! The thread developed into such a rich treasure trove that I consolidated the recommendations into an alphabetically ordered list with comments and commenters’ names here:

    https://etherpad.wikimedia.org/p/female_fantasy

    (I may have overlooked some titles in last week’s long thread — apologies!)

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Thank you for this! I started reading your post and thought “oh, I need to go back and find that” and here it is all organized!

    2. Abaso*

      oh wonderful! yoink!!

      If you’re still looking for recommendations?
      – Anne Bishop’s ‘Black Jewels’ and ‘The Others’ series
      – Patricia Briggs ‘Mercy Thompson’ and ‘Alpha and Omega’ series
      – Andre Norton’s everything
      – Jennifer Roberson’s ‘Tiger and Del’ series

        1. Abaso*

          welcome! awesome :)

          I should probably add that Andre Norton _really_ straddles the line between science-fiction and fantasy a lot of the time. The various ‘Witch World’ series are fantasy but have some sf elements and the sf ones often have a good dose of fantasy.

          1. JustForThis*

            Oh, that sounds intriguing — I enjoy this kind of genre-bending a lot. I’ve added your comment to the list, so that people get a feel for what to expect. Thank you!

        2. Abaso*

          this list keeps reminding me of authors I love :) a couple more:
          – Rebecca Roanhorse’s ‘Sixth World’ series
          – Lilith Saintcrow’s ‘Jill Kismet’ series

    3. JustForThis*

      Just to add: The first novel I picked up from the list was Elizabeth Moon’s _The Deed of Paksenarrion_, which weighs in at over a thousand densely printed pages. Reviews on goodreads tend to be either five stars or one, and I can see why: many descriptions are incredibly detailed (Were you ever interested in the logistics of a mercenary company’s marching order over muddy country lanes? Read this novel!), and people either feel invited into the world, get immersed and soak it all up or feel excluded from the plot.

      The protagonist starts out as a sheepfarmer’s daughter from some out-of-the-way farm, and our understanding of the world is as limited as hers, while it becomes clear from snatches of conversations that there is much more going on. I’m only about halfway through, and I for one enjoy the slow unfolding of a complex, many-facetted world. I was just becoming uncomfortably unsure why a task which she was given was never mentioned again for at least a hundred pages, asking myself whether the author had dropped the ball or I had misunderstood something — and just when I was about to google whether anyone else had noticed, a convincing explanation turned up. An ultimately very well executed and satisfying play with my attention, I thought.

        1. JustForThis*

          I think this was the first time I ever encountered that specific dynamics, and I thought it was cleverly done.

          I very much enjoy the novel, even though much of the second part was rather bleak. I’m at the start of the third and things look slightly more hopeful for Paks now, though I somehow suspect it won’t last.

      1. UKDancer*

        I loved the first book in the series and really enjoyed the military logistics parts. The author is, I think, ex military herself and it really shows in the realism of some of the campaign organisation. I like books where the world building makes logical sense and the world would actually work in real terms. I didn’t enjoy the second and third books very much as Paladin training wasn’t as interesting to me.

        Now you’ve reminded me of the series I must read her other books about Gird.

    4. Claire*

      This is so great! If you’re still looking for suggestions, I like Trudi Canavan (I started with her Black Magician trilogy).

      And if you don’t mind fantasy geared more towards high school, but still a good read, Tamora Pierce and Cinda Williams China. I started with the Song of the Lionness quartet and the Seven Realms series respectively.

        1. JustForThis*

          Thank you! A recommendation for Tamora Pierce on one of the weekend threads several months back got me back into reading fantasy and eventually making this list — so your posts resonate with me!

      1. UKDancer*

        I love Tamora Pierce. I grew up with Alanna and thought the books were brilliant as a teenager. I then rediscovered her in my late 20s and found she’d written other books so I started enjoying the other characters. I think I will always like Alanna the best though.

    5. Ashkela*

      I love that I went to the list and found every single person I wanted to recommend! I love when my favorites are uplifted. And I found some I didn’t know.

      I’ll say that Andre Norton and Mercedes Lackey did a trilogy together (Elvenbane, Elvenborn, Elvenblood) before Norton passed. It was supposed to be a quadrology, but Lackey chose not to finish it alone. It does stand as a trilogy though.

      1. JustForThis*

        Oh, that is wonderful! And thank you for the bittersweet story about the co-authored trilogy. This sounds special, and I added it to the list.

    6. Boop*

      I noticed Sherwood Smith isn’t on this list – LOVE her Crown Duel duology. Great female characters, very light romance, some very complex worldbuilding.

    7. Anonymous Luddite*

      In addition to her more standard fantasy Grisha-verse series, Leigh Bardugo also wrote a (currently) stand alone urban fantasy called Ninth House which I adored.

      I’ll also add Erin Morganstern’s Starless Sea. It’s like Neil Gaiman and Charles deLint collaborated to write Myst.

  9. WithADeee*

    Hoping this is okay for the weekend thread, as it is really more family than work:

    My husband has been offered an amazing opportunity on the other side of the country, and we are going to pursue it. I will be staying put for now (with our 3 children – two teens and a pre-teen), as for various job and schooling related reasons it is best for us to wait 6-12 months before we follow him and set up new lives there.

    Has anyone done something like this before? I’m a touch daunted by the prospect of solo parenting whilst working full-time. There will be opportunities for my husband to visit home for a weekend/us to visit him around once every 4-6 weeks.

    What are things I should be thinking of, or trying to set up now, to give us the best chance of making it through this period without putting too much pressure on the family unit? I’ve got a few ideas but I’m particularly keen to hear from anyone who might have done this before.

    Thank you.

    1. Bagpuss*

      I don’t have personal experience but I think there was a thread a couple of weekends ago from someone who was going to be doing the same, but with an overseas post, which may be worth your checking out.

      I would suggest specifically that when he comes back you aim to build in some time for you as well as family time- if you are going to be parenting solo in between, then being able to leave the kids with him and have time for yourself could be really valuable, and it probably won’t happen if you don’t deliberately build it in.

      Also try to budget for some child care so you get some time ‘off’ during the times he is away.

      1. Elf*

        She said 2 teens and a pre-teen, she doesn’t need a child care budget to go out without them!
        That being said, definitely plan for both family time and couple time.
        You should also consider housework/chores while he’s gone BEFORE he goes, both for the two of you and your kids. If things were pretty well split between the two of you, now is a great time to get your children doing a solid share. Try to have the teaching/transition for that happen before he goes so you aren’t doing all the teaching and enforcement. (At a minimum, everyone should be doing their own laundry, making their own non-dinner meals, making at least one dinner a week, and cleaning their own space, plus either giving ownership of a household task like taking out trash or having a rotation for everyone on those tasks). Consider also hiring cleaning/landscaping to make your life easier. Consider who has been doing which paperwork tasks and consider having your husband pick up some more of those remotely.
        Be really clear about standards for chores (for example, what should the kitchen look like after they prepare food)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not a parent but I have done a lot of elder care. My go-to is to build a support network, these are friends/family who agree they will help in some manner. I remember a family member who made arrangements for one or two of her children to go with a relative for a weekend. It gave the kiddo and parent time out from each other and the relative got quality time with the kiddo. Teens can be a little tougher but if an adult does a Cool Activity, a teen might buy-in to a plan like this in order to go do Cool Activity with the trusted adult.

    3. Richard Hershberger*

      I was raised a Navy brat. What you describe is what I thought of as “normal.” From the kids’ perspective, they will adapt. They are plenty old to understand the situation and how it will resolve. From the Mom’s perspective, Navy wives acted as a support group. I didn’t really see this as a kid, but I came to understand it as an adult. I have no practical ideas on how to go about it, but any local support group you can cultivate would help.

      1. Pippa K*

        Also grew up a military brat. Even though that’s not your situation, OP, I wonder if it might help your kids to find it less stressful by contextualising it as “this unexpected but relatively common thing that lots of families do temporarily” – not to minimise the logistical and other burdens that come with it, just to frame it as mostly awkward and inconvenient. I agree with Richard that kids tend to do fine (but to be fair, military kids have the advantage that this is a fairly normal thing that happens to lots of people they know).

    4. BookMom*

      I stayed behind with the kids for several months on our last move. I’d recommend:

      PLAN some fun things to do when your husband is home, preferably with input from the kids, so the visits don’t just turn into cramming in home maintenance or dentist visits or other to-dos when he is home. It doesn’t have to be expensive. It could be as simple as catching up on episodes of a TV show you all like to watch together.

      Let friends help you with carpooling or whatever else you need. Of course you are a superhero but you don’t have to be all the time.

      Video chat instead of just voice call or text. There have been studies with deployed military parents that this is very helpful. (Don’t have the citation but I heard a wonderful CBC program (programme :) ) about it.

    5. Not A Manager*

      My advice is to bring the kids into the planning. When there are big life changes, teens in particular can really push back against top-down planning that “happens” to them as passive participants. Try to make a list of concrete issues that are going to arise (dad used to drive carpool, who will watch the pre-teen after school, everyone needs to help with meal prep, etc.), then sit down with the family to discuss possible solutions. Of course you will have a few backup plans in mind, but you might be surprised at how thoughtful and cooperative your children can be if you loop them in.

    6. so far, not the best day*

      How much parenting/homework help is your husband doing now, and how will that continue? If your kids do something serious, and you want to give a punishment, how will that work? Can you enforce it? How is your husband organizing to have one-on-one time with each kid, so he keeps up with their lives?

    7. University Schlep*

      Not across the country but a significant period where dh was working 16×7 so might as well have been. Literally only home to sleep and change clothes.

      If you have the budget, now would be a good time to work in a maid /yard service.

      Also if your kids do not already do the dinner prep, now is a good time. We started one of the meal kit services at the beginning of covid and kept it for about 9 months. The biggest benefit in that time was that the pictures and the instructions made it easy for my young teens to really follow and by the time we decided that we were finding it too repetitive, they were expert cooks. I started with them just doing all the prep work, I bought a bunch of little bowls and I would come home to mise en place and it made it so easy. Now even though we no longer use a meal service, I menu plan and shop grocery pickup and they do all weekday meal cooking.

      Keep the recipe cards of anything you really like, we have about a dozen recipes we regularly use now.

      Put effort into finding people you can swap rides with for kids activities. This was my hardest piece.

      1. HoundMom*

        I did this for three years. My kids were a bit younger and my husband was able to come home every weekend. I found he was lonelier than I was which was hard. He wanted to talk in the evening and I was busy with kids, dogs, house stuff.

        Have an honest conversation about that. It made a difference if we showed how happy we were when he came home.

        For my own sanity, I lowered my expectations about meals. Soup and bread one night a week sufficed.

        It is tough on both partners in different ways. Treat each with compassion as both of you will feel the distance in different ways.

    8. WithADeee*

      Thank you, everyone, for taking the time to give such thoughtful replies. I appreciate them all, but especially the reminder that I don’t have to be a superhero all the time (something that I’ve fallen prey to before!).

  10. Nora without an h*

    I keep seeing these videos where someone suddenly realizes that their hair is wavy, not straight, and start to embrace this with a lot of products. They usually say that their hair is wavy when it’s wet before they comb it out.
    Is this a thing? Is my hair secretly wavy because when I get out of the shower it’s messy and wavy? I thought that’s just how fine wet hair looks.
    When I dry it after combing it (gently), it’s straight. I love the luscious waves they create in these videos but I’m vary of even trying because they seem to put so much stuff in their hair.
    I know close to nothing about hair styling (as you can tell) so would love to hear your opinions and experiences.

    1. Batgirl*

      Embracing wavy hair is an off shoot of the curly girl movement. Most of modern hair care, and particularly what hairdressers do is aimed at straightening hair – stripping it with sulphate shampoos and smoothing it with silicone conditioners. It’s a spectrum of how much this applies to you. I have wavy hair and I use lo-poo, because no-poo still left my hair greasy, however full sulphates do dry me out and create frizz. Not having silicone was the big difference for me in not weighing down hair. My curl /wave pattern is very irregular so I need to braid it wet to give it shape. I use barely any product to avoid weighing down my hair. A pea size of kinky curly custard, or Umberto Gianni gel mixed with water.

    2. Batgirl*

      You say that you dry it? The drying method is pretty key for whether your hair dries straight or not. Blow driers create straight air flow, diffusers create curls. I air dry mine or use a hood.

      1. LemonLyman*

        +1! And to add to this, if you want to experiment with seeing if your hair is wavy, I suggest trying a curl cream. You can even buy sample sizes as most beauty stores (ie Ulta) or the hair/travel section of Target or Walmart. Wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner as normal and comb out your hair in the shower. After turning water off but before you get out (while hair is very wet) add curl cream into your hair. I add a decent amount. Use a clean cotton tshirt to scrunch it into your hair. Air dry or blow dry with a diffuser. If you use a diffuser, you need to commit to drying fully or it will frizz. Try not to fuss or touch your hair too much while drying or it will frizz or fall flat. Also, don’t brush/comb it once it starts drying!

    3. mreasy*

      My hair is wavy if I don’t comb/brush it and for me it’s all about the cut. I don’t comb, just run my fingers through, use one product only, and scrunch while it’s wet and air drying. I get really fantastic waves! But my hair is pretty short and I don’t think it would work beyond about collar length for me.

    4. La Donna*

      I think it’s less so a “marvel” and they already knew but never styled it that way. My hair is naturally wavy and the more product i put in the more wavy it is (after drying it with a diffuser).

      If I dried my hair like you did with a comb, it would be pretty straight but still have a bit of wave to it, especially at the ends.

      I don’t use a lot of products anymore because I’ve upgraded the type of products I use and it would be expensive to style my hair like that. I use this type of hair protectant spray and a volumizing mousse, the mousse is from Moroccan oil and the protector is from Alkali and it’s called unicorn milk (both smell divine).

      The key to wavy or curly hair is to never ever brush it when it’s wet, outside of when you shower (I brush mine when I was out the conditioner). I put the products in, scrunch my hair a bit, then let it air dry a little then go back and diffuse it dry.

      It’s waviest day 1, then I brush it day 2 and it’s wavy but less so, day 3 is a half up half down day and I wash my curtain bangs and style them.

    5. WellRed*

      I have fine wavy hair and yes, it’s straight if I blow it out. I feel like if you have wavy hair you’d know that? Does it have some natural bounce or is it stick straight? What happens when it air dries? What was it like as a kid? What does your stylist say? Wavy or straight, don’t pile on the products. Fine hair is so easily weighed down.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Agreed! I have fine, thick hair that is wavy in some places & straighter in others. If it air dries, it’s wavier, but product can really weigh it down, or make clean hair look greasy, etc.

    6. ecnaseener*

      What does it look like if you let it air dry without combing it? You should see some waviness there if your hair is wavy. (I don’t know if that’s sufficient for sculpting nice defined waves, I’ve never tried it, but it’s a minimum necessary condition.)

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yeah, I admit I’m a bit confused by this question but I say shower, comb it, gently scrunch it to towel-dry (technically the curly hair people will tell you no towels but to be honest I find them a bit tedious) and then leave it alone and watch what happens. Does the result have any wave at all, or is it stick straight. If there’s wave, you can say you have “wavy” hair if you like. If not, I think there’s lots of techniques to *cause* wave in naturally straight hair, with like, curlers, gel etc. So either way you can achieve this if you like!

    7. Tib*

      I had fine, very straight hair and then it became wavy/curly. I’m very lazy about my routine and how much product I use, but this does affect how much curl I get.

      The easiest way to start is with shampoo and conditioner. I like Ogx and Maui brands right now. I shampoo at the very beginning of my shower, put my conditioner on very wet hair and rinse it off at the very end. You could use a wide tooth comb in the shower to detangle and spread the conditioner through. Then dry your hair with a couple old tee shirts. Instead of rubbing your hair, scrunch the water out. Then let it air dry and see what you get. You can gradually add other curl products and techniques as you go.

    8. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Statistically, straight is the most common hair type. I agree that if your hair is wavy, you will see waves when it air dries and it will probably become wavier over time even if you dry it straight with a blow dryer (mine can become straight briefly but humidity or sweat and it’s wavy again).

    9. merope*

      I am going to go against some of the other commenters here about product. I have fine wavy hair. To get to the obviously wavy stage (as opposed to gently wavy or not quite straight), I typically use a leave-in conditioner plus two different gels. My hair is not weighed down or greasy, and you cannot tell by touching it that I have about 2 tablespoons of gel in it. It really depends on the formulation of the products, as I have used some that did make my hair limp and lifeless. However, I’d argue that application technique is equally important, especially no brushing/combing after conditioner/curl cream (it disturbs the waves) and being sure to scrunch in your product so it’s evenly distributed. It’s not hard, just different but it will take more time (I started doing this last summer, so I guess it’s my sourdough starter substitute). You say you’ve watched some videos, and I would recommend Swavy Curly Courtney. She has some good advice for beginners if you want to try out the techniques without spending $$$. Most importantly, have fun with it, if you can. Happy waving!

    10. Charlotte K*

      It’s going to depend on your hair type, curl pattern etc. Some people will find their hair is wavy this way, others won’t. If they’re having to do lots of styling and use lots of products to keep the waves, their hair is probably not actually that wavy. What does your hair look like when you let it dry naturally, without using heat or styling products? You could try the plop method, where you let it dry wrapped up in an old T-shirt (or similar) to enhance the natural curl, and see how it looks that way. The Naturally Curly website has a tutorial on how to do this.

    11. Swisa*

      In the pandemic I’m only of those people. My hair has always been prone to frizziness/poofiness. Using a hairdryer, like I’ve always done, makes it straight but poofy.

      I realized it’s because it has natural waviness. Air drying helped with this discovery. And using the conditioner kinky curly knot today (it’s a leave in but I rinse it out). And I’ve stopped brushing my hair, since that brushes out the wave and makes it poofy. Instead I comb it in the shower with conditioner.

      Once I figured out that part, I’ve added a few other steps (gel emulsified with water while the hair is soaking wet, and also using a continuous spray bottle with mostly water + a little bit of the conditioner to revive the waves on days I don’t wash my hair). And I’ve started getting my hair cut shoulder length and shorter, with layers, so the waves aren’t weighed down.

      But air drying and not brushing were probably the biggest things to start.

      1. Swisa*

        Oh and when combing in the shower, I use a wide tooth comb. And when I get out of the shower, I scrunch my hair a bit loosely using my towel, but then leave it alone. Messing with it too much (vigorously drying it with a towel), disrupts the waves.

    12. Overeducated*

      I’d be very interested in hearing how people with wavy *and thin* hair deal with it. My friends with true ringlet curly hair say stuff like “it must be so easy to have straight hair like yours!” And i respond “you’re either seeing it less than two inches long because it curls beyond that, or you’re seeing it blow-dried and heat-straightened.” I just have never figured out a way to let it dry wavy without looking super messy. When you see attractive pictures of people with wavy hair, it’s pretty much always very thick. I got an amazing haircut that helped once, but it was in another country and very expensive.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Ugh I have notably curly hair – yes it will make ringlets when it feels like it – but it’s thin (both the strands themselves are thin, and I don’t have that much overall). A lot of the classic curl suggestions don’t work well for me because product quickly overwhelms my hair, even though it’s dry as most curly hair is. Basically, it wants to be frizzy and poodle-y. I accept that it’s probably not my best feature what with the constant flyaways and the frizz and that most people with my hair would probably straighten it daily or use one of those permanent straightening treatments. It *can* look nice if I shower every morning and waste a lot of time mucking around with it, but I can’t be pressed to do so. But I prefer to just pull it back most of the time.

      2. cat socks*

        I have wavy and thin hair. When I let it air dry, it has a noticeable amount of wave but it’s also sort of flat and not smooth in some places. I usually blow dry it and then use a flat iron. Or I use the Revlon one step dryer. It’s a lot easier for me to straighten my hair then get it to look good wavy. I considered looking into the curly girl method, but I’m not interested enough to pursue it.

        My hair is long now, but I used to have short chin length hair. At that length I used a diffuser and I could coax better waves/curls out of it.

    13. Emily*

      I think that wavy hair is pretty common, but there’s a lot of variation in how wavy or curly people’s hair is. Especially if it’s fine-textured, the ways you wash, dry, and style it can have a lot of impact on how visible the waves are – some products may weigh them down, while others may help hold or define them. For me, humidity and environmental factors make a big difference too.

      I’ve known my hair wavy at least since puberty (even on days when it’s relatively straight, it will still fluff a little or curl at the ends). The surprise for me was how much curlier I could make it look by adopting parts of the curly girl method.

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve got eastern European Jewish hair that if left uncombed when wet is lots of kinks and friz. I don’t want to put products on my hair or fuss with it, and what I’ve found works best is putting it into two braids when it’s wet until it dries. If I want wavy ringlets, I don’t comb it after I undo the braids. If I’m okay with it being more straight, I comb it out. I don’t own a hairbrush, just a wide-tooth comb.

      What I’ve also discovered is that my hair has a totally different personality in more humid climates than where I live in the San Francisco Bay Area which is relatively dry. I grew up in Michigan where I was obsessed with straightening out the friz as a teen. It was a revelation the first time I spent time in the desert and my hair was three inches longer and vertical instead of going sideways. But if I’m out in the rain or in the fog on the coast for a few hours, my hair is once again kinked up and sideways.

    15. Gnome*

      My hair won’t curl or wave without professional help. My daughter’s is wavy, but if I brush it out (especially when dry, for some reason) it is almost completely straight. It might be sheer volume… She has LOTs of hair and its long and rather thick… And the waves are mostly very loose.

  11. GingerSheep*

    Looking for Switch games recommendations ! My household consists of myself (F40) and my 8-year old daughter. We are both beginners in video games, and are looking for games we can play together that are not competitive – cooperative are best, but other two-player is fine as long as we are not pitched against each other.
    Indie games and/or cheap games welcome!
    We’ve LOVED Unravel 2, liked Untitled goose game (finished both games), and found both Overcooked and Moving Out tons of fun but quickly found ourselves blocked in our progression due to our general incompetence. Daughter likes Animal Crossing but I find it very boring. I also like point-and-clicks but have not find any that could accommodate two players.
    So, what would you suggest?

    1. Anima*

      Is Stardew Valley out on the switch? I need to look that up.
      I played solo at first and it was fun, but it’s so much more fun together. It sounds like animal crossing in the beginning, but Stardew Valley gets quite different after a short while.
      There is also a soft combat section in the mines which might be okay for an 8 year old, but I would avoid the lower levels at first. And stay clear from the skull cave, this thing is hard for casual players!

      1. Anima*

        It is available for switch!
        I think you both will enjoy a leveled up Animal Crossing that is Stardew Valley, you might want to become a miner and your daughter a farmer and together you can have a wonderful time!

      2. Sapphire (they/them)*

        Oh, Portal 2 has a co-op puzzle campaign and looks to be available for the Switch, that might be a good one!

      3. GingerSheep*

        I’d heard about Stardew valley and wasn’t much interested at first – it sounded too much like Animal Crossing to me (games that seem more like work than play! ;). But now I’ve read everybody’s recommendations I’m definitely going to give it a second look! Thanks!

    2. Purt’s Peas*

      Here are some hard games to play if you want to do a challenging platformer game—by nature they’ll require retries, but you might enjoy the kind of play and practice involved: Rayman Legends, Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze.

      Mario Odyssey is super fun; one person plays Mario and one person plays his hat!

        1. kmd*

          Rayman Legends is Fantastic! You won’t regret it!

          Kirby and Yoshi games are both usually really great gor cooperative vs competitive play. Or just standalone, when the daughter goex to bed. :)

    3. Zett*

      A super fun game is Death Squared. You have to cooperate and solve puzzles together. It can be very frustrating though! My husband and I can no longer play this game together (haha), but I LOVE to play it with my siblings when they come over.

    4. Holly the spa pro*

      Also recommending stardew valley! The co-op is fun because you can work on the same tasks or do your own things.

      Rogue heroes:ruins of tasos might be another option. It’s a Zelda like game that has co-op. It can be a but challenging but not unapproachable so.

      Don’t starve together is also really fun in co-op. It’s probably a little more challenging than the other two but it’s fun to experiment with different characters to see how far you can get. If you go into it knowing that you will die a lot and just try to get a little further every time, its fun to see how well you can do and working together makes it a little less stressful. High recommendation for playing as wendy if you decide to try it. I feel like she is most approachable for new players.

    5. Forensic13*

      They did a remaster of the Katamari Damacy, which I love. The premise is that you are a tiny alien that has to roll up increasingly large balls of stuff to replace the stars your dad accidentally destroyed. (It’s a VERY silly game.). You start by rolling up things like stationary and candy, and eventually progress to rolling up whole islands! It’s very fun.

    6. Raboot*

      The Lego adventure games would bw great for coop with a child – Lego Star Wars, Lego Harry Potter etc.

    7. GlowCloud*

      I really enjoyed Luigi’s Mansion 3 – it has 2-player puzzle-solving using Luigi’s gelatinous doppelganger, Gooigi, and is pretty easy to complete, while each level was varied enough to keep me amused.

      The LEGO games are also really good for Co-Op mode.
      I played LEGO DC Supervillains recently. Each level has a Story Mode, where you play through with just the characters you’re given, and then that unlocks a Free Play mode, where you can use different characters to solve more puzzles in the level, so you effectively get twice the play-time out of each level. There’s a ton of mini-games you can play to unlock extra characters and vehicles, and you can create your own custom characters, so there’s plenty of fun to be had.

    8. KoiFeeder*

      I’ve been enjoying Baba is You, but I don’t think that’s co-op (feels like it should be, though).

    9. SparklingBlue*

      If you want to try getting your feet wet in open world games, but find Zelda or Skyrim too intimidating, Pokemon Legends: Arceus fits the bill very nicely.

    10. ildrummer*

      “It takes two” is a fantastic cooperative game that my wife and I really enjoyed, and she isn’t a gamer. We played it on the Xbox but it may be available for the switch

    11. clover*

      Snipperclips is a very fun cooperative puzzle game. You play as pieces of paper who snip each other into different shapes to solve puzzles.

    12. GingerSheep*

      Thanks everyone for the recommendations ! There were so many I’ve stopped replying individually, but you’ve all given me many paths to explore, and I’ve just downloaded a whole bunch of demos. Daughter and I are going to have a great time trying them out this afternoon !

    13. MEH Squared*

      I’m late to the party per yooz, but I have two games to suggest. One is Spiritfarer, whose tagline is ‘A cozy management game about death’. You play as Stella, the titular spiritfarer who ferries people to the afterlife. You also gather resources and build things on your boat, plus loads of other things–and it’s hand-drown and gorgeous. It’s poignant and gentle, but I’m not sure if it’s age-appropriate for an eight-year old. There is candid talk about death, mental health issues, and many other issues, but it’s not graphic in any way. Stella has a cat, Daffodil, and that’s where the co-op comes in. You can play as Daffy (as I call him). I played it on PC, but it is on Switch. It’s one of my favorite games of all time.

      The other is Hades, which is a roguelike. It’s bright and colorful, and highly addictive. You play as Zagreus, the son of Hades, and you’re trying to escape your father’s realm. There are over 300,000 words of dialogue and all of it is great. There is so much to do and so many NPCs to talk to! It’s bright and colorful, and no grim material here. I also played this on PC, but it’s on Switch as well. This is also one of my favorite games, but there is no co-op.

      1. A Wayward Spirit*

        I was hoping to see Spiritfarer on here! I just bought the game yesterday and I’m having such a good time. I was looking for something along the same lines as Stardew Valley and it’s really scratching that itch for me! Another one that I just tried the demo for is Phogs, and I think that might be a good one for OP to try as well! It’s about a duo of dogs on a captivating, puzzle-filled adventure. Linked by a stretchy belly, you’ll need to bark, bite and bounce your way through obstacles set across the themed worlds of Food, Sleep and Play, in co-op or single-player. Forage through Food World, teeming with tasty treats. Copied from the Wiki in case I need to say that!

    14. Grilledcheeser*

      I love love LOVE “Sky: Children of Light”. The game is so lovely, the art is beautiful & the music so well made. You get to fly! (And run & skip & walk $ swim). So it’s you flying and coasting around beautiful worlds collecting candlelight and reliving memories of spirits past. You can play entirely solo or you can hold the hand of a friend and fly around together. Some doors and other things in the game will need more than one person but strangers help each other out all the time. There is no fighting, there is no war. There are some bad mean monsters about 75% of the way into the game, but all you do is try to avoid them. You don’t fight them – they can bean you if they spot you, & cause you to lose some candle light, but you can’t die, and you just go back & re-collect what you lost. The game is all about friendship, sharing, helping, having fun. Old-timers help newbies (“moths”) all the time. It is easy to start & play all by yourself.

  12. Loopy*

    I am in dire need of help! This is embarrassing, but I think I have a body odor problem. My husband has kindly but consistently told me when I smell (at my request) and I am at my wits end. I show daily with bar soap and use the strong version of Secret anti-perspirant, and don’t really engage in any heavy exercise. I also have good dental hygiene so I don’t think it’s a breath issue- and I just went to dentist yesterday without any mention of that. I do tend to bundle to the point of being warm indoors however.

    Right now I do not think it’s medical and am not looking for help identifying the cause here, but I am looking for products that really, truly work to eliminate body odor. Soaps, deodorants, anything. I’ve seen a lot of natural products out there and that’s great but right now, I am more concerned about an ASAP solution so I am open to whatever works. Especially as I will be traveling to stay with a friend in a small apartment in a few weeks and really don’t want this issue following me there.

    I also really like the idea of smelling nice once I get rid of the odor. I don’t want to layer scent on top of it, but welcome any product to enjoy a nice smell (lotions, maybe sprays that aren’t perfumes?) once the problem is solved. Fortunately I don’t work in an office where this would cause anyone issue :)

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Keep the kidneys and intestines clearing themselves out. The formula I use is I take my body weight, divide that number by 2, the resulting answer is the number of ounces of water I drink per day. If you are no where near close, work your way up slowly over a period of weeks.

      You might gain some traction by adding yogurt in to your diet on a regular basis.

      A few things to check:
      Sometimes clothes get musty because the closet they are stored in is musty.

      I read a story of a man who keep going to the doc for a body odor problem. It took quite a bit to figure it out- it was his RING. He never cleaned his jewelry that he wore all the time. Likewise, clean your glasses or anything else that you wear daily- hair accessories, anything.

      Another odd thing to check is your laundry detergent. Don’t pour in random amounts. Too much laundry detergent builds up and then all kinds of odd things happen. While we are on laundry check your washer and dryer to see if odd smells are coming from there.

      I prefer to use natural products but for deodorant I use Mitchem and I will not change that. I need something that works reliably for me.

      And this last one is a bit woo-woo but I tend to find some credibility to it. Body odor can be tied to a a lack of a sense of belonging, a sense of connectedness. If you are floundering in some way that could be a contributing factor. Floundering causes stress and guess what stress does? sigh. Take a look at your stress levels, are they UP when your husband cues you that a problem is going on?

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I don’t think it’s woo-woo, stress-sweat is absolutely a thing. I can totally smell the difference on myself and my husband between a normal day and a stressful day.
        But – while stress hormones do change your smell, it’s also worth considering what lifestyle changes may be accompanying that stress too. Eg: are you drinking more coffee to get through your day? More alcohol to unwind? More takeaway because you don’t have time to cook? That can also impact your BO.

      2. A Feast of Fools*

        Oh, man, I spent a few months last summer despairing because no matter how much I showered, washed my clothes (brand-new washer, delivered in May), washed my bath towels, etc., I smelled moldy / mildewy. It was the smell that, say, towels or clothing get when they’ve gotten soaking wet and left in a wad or inside a zipped and closed gym bag or laundry bag.

        It was my 14K byzantine-style bracelet!!

        I wore it all the time: mowing, gardening, washing dishes, taking a shower, sleeping. Sure, it got wet when I washed dishes and my hands, and when I showered, but I always toweled it dry.

        Yeah… no.

        The outside of the gold was dry but the inside of the twisted, interlocking links wasn’t.

        I ended up soaking it in a glass with dish soap, then scrubbing with a soft toothbrush, then using a hair dryer to fully dry it out. I had to go through 2 or 3 iterations of that to fully get the smell out (by finally killing all the smell-generating bacteria!).

        I no longer wear that bracelet 24/7. And, when I do wear it, I clean it thoroughly afterward with jewelry cleaner and a toothbrush, and bust out the hair dryer to fully dry it.

    2. Daisy Avalin*

      One thing that I know has been mentioned on previous posts about this issue is your washing machine – is your clothing/bedding the source of the smell or holding onto body odour after washing, rather than your body? Of course, get checked out by your doctor to make sure it’s not a medical issue, but maybe a washing machine clean might help, or a stronger washing powder? Maybe a medicated talc or similar, to use after washing, might help? Other than that, I’ve no advice, I’m afraid, but I hope you figure it out!

      1. WellRed*

        This us is what I was coming to say. Check your clothes. And just generally, I would probably NOT try the natural products route right now but I’m sure others will disagree.

        1. Generic Name*

          I used natural detergents for years. I decided to try tide, and I’m embarrassed to say my clothes are much cleaner now. The natural stuff just doesn’t work that great…

          1. Juneybug*

            I don’t usually have a smell but using a natural laundry soap caused me to start having more and more of a bad odor over time. It was gradual until one day, I couldn’t stand my smell (it was bad!). Asked others about it and honestly, I smelled like BO per close friends/relatives. They thought I had changed my meds, wasn’t bathing as often, etc. I had not changed anything other than my laundry soap.
            Once I went back to Gain laundry soap, my odor started disappearing. It took awhile to wash all of my clothes and linens (I would use them and then wash them with the Gain soap instead of the natural).
            I had never had anything like that happen before. It was strange.

      2. Wilde*

        Ooo yes to this! If you’re not already, starting doing laundry with warm/hot water also as this is much more effective at cleaning. Think of it like doing dishes – I don’t know anyone who washes their plates in cold water with just a tiny amount of detergent expecting them to get clean. But so many people do this with their laundry?

        Although, if it is your laundry routine, I’d expect your husband to be equally smelly. Good luck, I hope you find a solution asap!

        1. Wilde*

          And if you do think it could be laundry or the washing machine – a bit of diluted bleach will work wonders.

      3. MissCoco*

        Agreeing with this! My partner is naturally not as sweaty/smelly as me, and even with an identical laundry routine my clothes end up getting stinkier than his. Also I wear more synthetics, and they definitely hold on to odor a lot more aggressively than natural fibers like cotton.

        If you do notice armpit sweat (especially stress-related) I like to do a quarterly (or so) armpit deep cleaning of my clothes, especially base layers. A little dish soap and a small amount of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to make a paste which I let sit 15-30 minutes before washing — this isn’t great for fabrics so I do it sparingly, but it keeps my underarms smelling clean.

        I also use prescription anti-perspirant in the winter when I need sweaters + layers to stay warm

    3. La Donna*

      I am a stinky pit person, always have been! I actually started scrubbing my armpits with a loofah or wash cloth for 20 seconds each and that helped WONDERS. Before, I would just lather with my hands. There are also some armpit masks you can buy that are made from clay that supposedly help pull some of the smell out.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Try diluted apple cider vinegar directly on the armpits. I dampen a cotton ball, then add ACV. It has worked amazingly for me.

    4. Batgirl*

      We found Perspirex super effective. You put it on at night and only need to apply it every five days or so it’s that strong. It stings going on, but I have a sensitive skin condition and have been fine with it. My partner used to soak through his clothes and this stopped it entirely. I found it useful because I am outdoors a lot, so I am bundled up, but my job is moderately physical so sometimes I can’t get through the day on ordinary deodorant. One thing I will say is that if you’re fairly physical in warm clothing that the “clothes only need to be washed in low temperatures nowadays because of modern detergents” isn’t really true. It only applies to barely soiled clothes. I found I didn’t have body odor, I had clothes odor once the detergent fragrance wore off.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        I use CertainDri, which sounds similar. I only apply it every few days but I rarely have to use regular deoderant. It’s more expensive per bottle but lasts for a really long time. There was an adjustment period where I found it extremely itchy but once that passed it helped tremendously with odor and amount of sweat.

        And clothes odor is definitely a thing! Fleece and workout clothes/”technical” material are the worst, but cotton t-shirts can also get unpleasant. I use unscented detergent generally but recently got an odor-controlling liquid (Oxyclean brand but there are multiple options) that you add to the detergent which has a mild scent and that seems to help. I’ve also done the vinegar soak for workout clothes and that helps. I think there are specific detergents for workout clothes that are supposed to help with odor control but I haven’t tried them.

    5. Anon scientist*

      In addition to the laundry: are you wearing natural fibers in your clothing? For me, nylon/rayon whatever really hold onto smells in a way that cotton doesn’t. I have naturally acrid sweat (thanks, Dad!) and if I’m having a particularly anxious/stressful day, my “flop sweat” is particularly stinky. Synthetic fibers will hold onto the smell through multiple washings. Finally, check the armpits of your clothing to see if you have deodorant residue – that will also make things work. You can Google “removing deodorant from clothing” for ideas.

      1. Cormorannt*

        Same! I switched to wearing mostly natural fibers near my skin. Also, try switching to powdered Tide detergent. If you have a front loader you can put it right in the drum with the clothes. It works much better than liquid detergent for getting smells out of synthetics – I had a rep for a sportswear company recommend it over the specials “sports” detergent. It’s cheap, too!

    6. And so it goes*

      Any chance you’re in perimenopause? Suddenly, I’m stinky! Menopause forums report this is just one of those hormonal joys. I now shower before AND after work, and keep an extra deodorant at work to reapply as needed.

    7. Daily reader, rare commenter*

      I know people who regularly use lemon or lime instead of anti-perspirant and swear by it. They rub the peel under their arms, but I’ve also heard of people who use the juice. I’ve tried the peel a couple of times and it seemed to work, but haven’t used on a regular basis.

    8. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Any possibility you could be experiencing a food intolerance of some kind? As an example, a friend of mine used to have a persistent B.O. issue until they identified a correlation between eating dairy and particularly eye-watering episodes of B.O. It was different than the usual, temporary kind of odor you get in your sweat after eating a lot of garlic. It was more constant and more unpleasant. Eliminating dairy pretty much got rid of it.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Seconded. I discovered as an adult that I had a food allergy. My personal ‘aura’ varied by the day, correlating roughly with the amount of that food I had eaten that day or the day before. My teenage years might have been less angsty had I known then!

    9. Armpit Anon*

      Does your Secret deodorant say “clear” or “invisible” on the label? I found that the Secret clear/invisible deodorants react strangely with my body and result in odor. At least in the stores near me there is just one remaining Secret deodorant variety that’s not marked clear or invisible, and that works for me.

    10. Claudette Anon*

      I can relate. I’ve been sweaty and self-conscious about odor since my teen years. Mitchum is the only product that works reliably well for me. It seems heavy duty, and I worry about long-term side effects, so I don’t use it daily. I save it for when I’ll be away from home and around other people. And I buy the unscented version because most perfumed products smell gross to me. For days I’m just at home, I use Native brand if I bother using anything. (In my experience, the “natural” brands don’t work reliably well.) I also shave my underarms and scrub them with a washcloth and soap and water (then rinse well) any time I catch a whiff of weirdness. In the hottest weather, I may do that twice a day. But I’m mostly home these days, and my husband doesn’t notice or care like I do. I really do feel for you; it’s an awful, pervasive worry that I may unknowingly stink and offend others. It helps a lot to take the steps I outlined above, and I can mostly relax.

    11. Tib*

      I have a pretty sensitive sense of smell and I can tell when my husband needs to change his bath towel. I can smell the sourness on his skin. But only from really close. It’s not something a stranger would be able to detect. Since you’ve tried so much already, I’d get really scientific. Take 2-3 days, journal everything that makes sense and have your husband report on your smell at regular intervals throughout the day. This could be key, because if he’s only telling you when he notices, there may be times he’s not telling you because he’s busy or forgets.

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Switch to a new deodorant. After a while your body gets used to the same brand/formula. I use Dove, myself. Nutrium or whatever they call it now. Started changing it up when it just stopped working.

      1. The Face*

        This and also switch up your body wash. Also, I found that using my shampoo on my pits every once in a while really removes the odor. I don’t know if it’s because it’s shampoo instead of my sensitive skin body wash, or if it’s just using something different to the usual, but it works. Temporarily.

      2. Quoth the Raven*

        I was going to say this! I just switched to a new deodorant because the one I was using wasn’t really working much anymore and it made a world of difference.

    13. Purt’s Peas*

      How bad is the issue? Husbands can put their noses a lot closer to one’s armpit than friends can.

      And—not expecting answers posted here, these are intimate questions—is it a sweaty smell or an old nasty smell? Does your husband like it at all? Beyond worrying about your stank cloud, do you kinda like it at all?

      This is all to say, if you’ve got a bit of added human musk for some reason, that isn’t truly bothering anyone but your own brain, try switching deodorant brand. And remember that sometimes humans do smell like humans! Even when you add perfume it’s intended to smell good alongside your natural scent; otherwise it won’t produce an overall good smell!

      If there’s some worse smell or much stronger smell, try wearing a new shirt made of natural fibers, without washing it in your machine first—is that any different? Maybe there’s some odor baked into your clothes, or maybe your washing machine is mildewed. Synthetic fibers really, really hold on to smells—I have some awful workout shirts around :)

      For your bundling up, if you bundle to the point of sweating indoors, that might be an issue, especially with synthetic fibers—not getting aired out!

    14. Siege*

      Check your detergent. My partner had this terrible odor periodically that it took ages to trace back to the detergent he was using at home. Turns out, my nose does not like most detergents (unsurprising, I have scent allergies) and this one, while technically unscented, was giving his clothes and body this weird, unpleasant funky smell on his skin that didn’t go away with showering and seemed to be organic because it smelled a lot like garlic and we don’t eat all meals together so it was plausible it was food. He’s switched to unscented Tide and his skin smells great now. I do occasionally get blasts of the old smell, and it’s always clothes he doesn’t wear much so hasn’t washed lately.

      He also switched to a cinnamon toothpaste because mint doesn’t smell good on him for some reason and my morning goodbye kiss was knocking me over. There’s just something about his body where mint isn’t okay, and it’s not personal preference; I have a long history of kissing people who use mint toothpaste and being fine. It’s something about him.

    15. Victoria, Please*

      I like Lume soap and their enzyme cleaner that will remove built up gunk on clothes. Fairly fast fix.

      Good advice from others about staying hydrated and scrubbing for 20 seconds, I am going to try those myself.

      1. Ampersand*

        I also suggest Lume. Their biofilm spray for clothes/laundry is amazing (it’s worked on every single item I’ve used it on, including years-old running shirts that I could never get completely clean, until now), and their soaps, deodorant, and lotions are great. I just stocked up on their products again recently. They’re worth a try—I’ve found that their products live up to the hype, and that’s rare.

    16. Chauncy Gardener*

      Totally agree with all Not So New Reader’s suggestions and will add another plug for Mitchum.
      Has your husband told you which part of you smells? That would be a good clue to have.
      Do you shave your armpits? If that’s the area that smells, it could help
      Also, do you take a probiotic? That could help if your gut is out of balance.
      Good luck!!

    17. A woman with smelly armpits*

      All great suggestions. A few more. If it’s coming from your underarms and perhaps permeating your clothes — put white vinegar on the underarms of your tee shirts after you wear them while they’re waiting for the wash. You might have to get rid of tops faster, too, sometimes the smell gets in there. Counterintuitively, I actually use natural deodorant — I love Native and they have a plastic free model too. I found with very perfume-y antiperspirants I had trouble smelling when I smelled bad (but others could) and the mixing with the hard core deodorant smelled worse than my sweat would. If you don’t shave your underarms, doing so can help.

      If it’s not coming from your underarms specifically (and even if it isn’t), I agree with the hydration and diet recs about avoiding onion/garlic– I’d add cumin to the list to avoid, too.

      If it’s not a typical body odor scent but more like a fishy scent — there is a medical condition: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/trimethylaminuria/

    18. fposte*

      Oh, that’s no fun; it’s good to have a spouse that will tell you, though.

      I agree that it’s worth having him check out different parts of you to see if he can get more specific about where; it might also be useful to try different times of the day. I definitely agree to check out your washing machine and bath towels. I’ll add to check your masks, if you’re out and wearing those, since I recently bought ones that fit like a dream and smell like fish.

      I would also consider enlisting a good friend for a second opinion. Some people are just supersmellers, and you may smell just fine to most of the world.

    19. Public Health Nerd*

      Great suggestions in this thread. I agree that it would help if you/your husband can narrow down what parts of your body are stinky when, that will help. I used to feel more stinky in my groin at the end of some work days and would have to come home, clean up my leg pits with baby wipes, and then change. Turns out the culprit was a combo of a weak pelvic floor (helped with yoga and panty liners) and non synthetic pants during the day most of the time. And some days, I wash up and change (gah, hot summer days).

    20. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      When my husband uses a scented deodorant, he ends up smelling really bad. Try an unscented deodorant (along with these other great ideas) arm and hammer has unscented deodorant.

    21. Piano Girl*

      I would suggest that you look at any medications that you take. Metformin makes me smell like a fish sometimes.
      I will often switch deodorants. For some reason, Secret will stop working, do I switch to Mitchum. When I switch back, everything seems to work better.

    22. Deodorant options*

      For me, heavy duty antiperspirants caused armpit buildup in my shirts that contributed to odor. I now use Certain Dri roll-on liquid *at night* a few times a week and some kind of natural deodorant (lavanila, megababe, whatever) during the day. For me, this keeps the antiperspirant on my armpits, not my shirt, and works better than daytime Secret or Mitchum ever did.

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

      I would also suggest you get a second, third and fourth opinion from different people. If it’s only your husband that smells the odor, it might be a him problem…phantom smells from a nasal infection, neurological problem, psychosomatic…

    24. CatCat*

      The crystal deodorant works really well for me. I use the solid crystal. They sell a travel size too, which is handy for on the go. It’s not an anti-perspirant though if that’s important to you.

      As for scents for after you solve the issue, I don’t use a lot of scented products, but I love LOVE Origins “ginger souffle” body cream. It has a very pleasing light, fresh scent.

    25. Paris Geller*

      I sweat quite a bit–not to the point where it’s medical (I’ve talked to doctors about it), but just a little more than the average person. Here’s what I’ve found personally helps:

      1. Running a cotton pad with glycolic acid on it under my arms when I get out the shower
      2. Switching to an aerosol deodorant (hate that this works so well because I know they’re not good for the environment, but this is the 1 thing that has made a difference for me) I use degree but I’ve also found Mitchum works. Stay away from Secret and Dove.
      3. Putting some sort of body glide/drying cream under my breasts before I put on a bra–I’m a well-endowed woman and I definitely find the under breasts area can be a big sweat factory.
      4. Spraying my feet with a foot-odor spray (I like the ones with tea tree oil) and switching out my shoes since I normally wear flats.

    26. Malarkey01*

      Some great points on here. Do you smell after a shower? Do you smell when naked? Can you ask husband to pinpoint where exactly you smell (which embarrassing but having someone smell around you for stinky parts and doing mole checks is one of the prime reasons to get married!)? Try to see if he notices it when you are outside the house too since sometimes a musty smell in the house can make it seem like a person smells worse.

      One other culprit I didn’t see mentioned- how old is your mattress? They hold on to smells and skin and yuck and most people don’t replace them often enough.

      Shoes are another potential spot. You can try inserts and spray or try rotating them more to let them air out.

    27. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      My problem was onions! Cooking them got into my hair, my skin, my clothes, the clothes in my closet, towels, furniture upholstery, EVERYTHING. And once I ate them, the smell was in my system for days: onion pee, onionpoo, onion perspiration. So see if there are any foods that make it worse.

    28. tangerineRose*

      When I feel stinky, I spritz myself with a mix of white vinegar and water, let it soak in for a minute or so, then wash with soap.

    29. Cardboard*

      Ok I don’t know if this is common knowledge but I only found out a few weeks ago that the most effective way to use anti perspirant is to put it on at night, right after a shower before bed. Doing this has completely changed my life lol. I never smell bad anymore!!!! Apparently it takes 6-8 hours for antiperspirant to absorb and block the sweat glands and it’s made to last 24 hours. So if you put it on in the morning it won’t have enough time to work, and also your glands sweat a tiny bit overnight which means you wake up already having Having some odor.

      1. Janne*

        Why would you recommend that?
        I would not take antibiotics if I wasn’t sure that I had a bacterial infection. Needlessly taking antibiotics contributes to bacterial resistance and it hurts the healthy bacteria that you have around (gut, vagina etc). You could even get infections caused by this, such as vaginal yeast infections or C. difficile infections in the gut — these are caused by the healthy bacteria being knocked out by antibiotics. If you need antibiotics to get rid of a disease, of course take them, but why take them if you don’t have a confirmed bacterial disease?

    30. Homebody*

      Passing along some tips that my dermatologist gave to me:
      – When you’re in the shower was your smelly areas with Panoxyl or another brand of face wash with 4% benoxyl peroxide. It will kill odor causing bacteria and usually get rid of the smell almost immediately.
      – Get rid of “natural” deodorants or anything with essential oils. Very popular from a marketing standpoint right now but they can cause irritation and make smells worse.
      – Wear loose fitting, cotton clothing.
      – If sweating/odor is new or worsening don’t be afraid to make an appointment with a PCP or a derm, who can help to determine if a medical issue is causing it.
      Hope this helps.

    31. Lady Danbury*

      Underarm BO is caused when your natural sweat mixes with bacteria. Both benzoyl peroxide (BP) and AHAs/BHAs help fight that bacteria. Before I shower, I apply a basic BP face wash like oxy clean under my arms and let it sit while I do any prep like brushing my teeth. Shower as usual (including using a poof or salux all over my body) and then when I get out I apply an AHA or BHA product (usually one of the ordinary’s products, you can experiment to see which works best for you) and let that sit while I apply lotion. Rub it in so that it’s dry and then dry my pits thoroughly before applying regular deodorant (works best on dry skin). I used to have issues with a slight funk clinging to my underarms even after washing and this has completely eliminated the issue.

      I would suggest starting with either BP or AHA/BHAs only a few days a week and gradually building up your skin’s tolerance.

    32. Sparking Stardust*

      Also wanted to add that I found out I have worse body odor on days that I drink caffeine or feel more stressed.

    33. Observer*

      Right now I do not think it’s medical and am not looking for help identifying the cause here, but I am looking for products that really, truly work to eliminate body odor.

      I hope someone suggests something that works for you, but what you want may not be possible. There are many situations where the odor cannot be masked or gotten rid of by products.

    34. Lasslisa*

      Check your clothes. See how they smell fresh out of the wash, but also, change them more often if you can – I remember a study looking at, basically, how bad did people smell in olden days, and frequency of washing was much less significant than frequency of changing their underclothes. (And for modern dress, anything except a coat is probably equivalently close to your body as their “underclothes”!)

      So if you’re re-wearing the same pants or long underwear or bras, try changing them more or at least giving a sniff test before you put anything back on.

    35. Loopy*

      I am amazed by the level of response I got here and really appreciate this community. Unfortunately I have a busy Sunday so I wont be able to reply to everyone, but I do have a sneaking suspicion now that clothes are playing a role in holding on to smells- and I wear a lot of synthetics/blends. Recently we’ve been also using off-brand, cheaper detergent which may also contribute. I am going to switch.

      I am going to also try some of the products and techniques suggested as it can’t hurt though I appreciate everyone helping me realize it may be beyond just that as a solution. I am open to trying various things. Off to do some shopping today to see what I can get started on!

      1. Anonie*

        Good luck with shopping. I exclusively wear natural fibers, avoid blended materials (I can’t stand pilling), and have no luck finding that at mainstream stores, like Loft, Target, H&M, Express, Madewell, Banana Republic, etc.

        If you’re at all looking for advice on natural fiber clothing… I’ve mentally transitioned myself to “investment” pieces and bit the bullet on buying expensive clothing but far, far less frequently. I’ve had great luck with Allbirds (they have clothing now), Sezane (material and quality are A+ – they are amazing with returns and have the BEST customer service I’ve ever experienced), Cuyana (they have a fantastic slim crewneck tee that is almost always out of stock), Everlane (their quality is hit and miss these days and tend to read the bad reviews before I buy anything), Alex Mill, St James clothing (French stripes), and sometimes J Crew.

        I use liquid detergent for sensitive clothing, wash on delicate cold, and hang dry everything. Nothing of mine goes in the dryer.

        1. moss*

          I’m obsessed with cashmere and silk and I buy my clothes at Poshmark. You can get great natural fiber clothing for not much money. Currently wearing a yak/wool cardigan from Barney’s New York that I got for $26.

    36. cityMouse*

      I use a deodorant called Element Botanicals, my favourite scent is Potion (a mild lemon vanilla). It’s a bit chalky but it works wonderfully! What I like is that I can still sweat BUT no stink. I find if I wear an antiperspirant, I stink within an hour, not sure why, body chemistry, maybe? So I suggest trying a “natural” deodorant. Another good one is Dom’s Deodorant. Tried and true, both of them. The key ingredients are zinc and baking soda in the Element. For me, it works very well, and I work in close contact with other humans. No one has complained yet!

  13. Invisible Fish*

    Looking for recommendations: the best noodles to use in homemade soup.

    Issue: noodles tried so far absorb too much of the stock, leaving it more of a casserole than noodle soup.

    Suggestions?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What kind of soup? I use egg noodles in chicken/veggie soup (broth-based). Don’t cook your noodles in the soup– prepare separately and add later.

      1. Invisible Fish*

        Chicken noodle soup! My partner has decided he must master it… so I need him to hurry up and figure out how to keep those noodles from taking over the soup! ;)

    2. The Dogman*

      AvonLady Barksdale I thnk has hit on it…

      You need to prep the noodles first in plain water, then add to the soup once they have absorbed all (or almost all) the water they can.

      Else, as you have found out, you end up with soup flavoured noodles!

    3. Squidhead*

      We make the soup and the noodles in two separate pots and then combine them in the serving bowls. If we’re making soup that will last more than one day, we only make enough noodles for one day at a time.

    4. beach read*

      My Mom always made the chicken soup without the noodles and then when ready to eat she’d cook some fine egg noodles. She would cook them as she was reheating the soup.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I like whole wheat egg noodles and cook them in the soup rather than separately. However, I do find that they are more “thirsty” than the white-flour kind and can make the consistency too thick.

      I solve this by using less noodles, or a higher proportion of liquid in the soup, and only putting them in for the last 10-12 minutes.

      1. SnappinTerrapin*

        That’s the solution that occurred to me.

        But I’m too lazy to use two pans for one batch of soup.

    6. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I prefer orzos or dot noodles in soup, they get less soggy than flat or egg noodles. And agree with everyone else – cook and store the noodles separately, combine them in the bowl (hot soup will easily heat up cold noodles). You can boil the noodles in broth or salted water, strain them when cooked, and put a bit of oil or butter to prevent sticking.

  14. Bibliovore*

    I need distracting tv watching.
    What has worked
    Great pottery showdown , Mandolorian, Loki, the British version of Ghosts, After Life.
    I have Paramount plus, Disney, Hulu, Netflix and Prime.

    1. Chili pepper Attitude*

      Wheel of time, foundations.
      People love hate the sex and the city reboot, maybe watch so you know what all the love hate is about?

    2. Doctor is In*

      The Americans. Just got hooked. For lighter fare, Queer Eye. Those guys help out people in all aspects of their lives and it’s heartwarming.

    3. The Dogman*

      Yellowstone?

      Kevin Costner being a grumpy old man and rancher… lots of swearing and fair amount of violence involved so don’t watch if you don’t like that sort of thing… but if you liked the Mando you should be fine.

      I describe Yellowstone as “Dallas or Dynasty if it was cows instead of oil and action/drama instead of soap/cheese”.

    4. Swisa*

      Queer eye (Netflix) is like a warm hug. I love watching it when I need a pick me up.

      Great British bake off (Netflix) is similar to pottery throwdown, and is very cozy.

      I also love the Mindy Project (Hulu). I didn’t really find Mindy kaling’s character on the Office that funny, but I heard an interview with her and it made me want to watch her stuff. The Mindy Project is a comedy following her life in NYC as a single woman. Episode are short (20 minutes), and funny. After that, I’ve become a huge fan and watch whatever she puts out.

      1. Swisa*

        And I should say that the Mindy Project is all fictional! It’s just following a single woman character.

        1. Jen*

          I will say that (avoiding spoilers as much as I can) a certain character became very unlikable, probably because the actor became less available, and I really struggled with the show after that.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Have you seen What We Do in the Shadows?

      I liked both the British & the American versions of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

      1. Cj*

        I tried watching what we do in the shadows after a guy was telling me about it I have a lot in common with as far as what shows we enjoy. I can’t get into it at all

        I did start watching it from the beginning, so figuring out what is going on should not have been an issue. Do I just need to give it more time, or what?

        1. Nela*

          Eh, if it didn’t hook you from the start, I wouldn’t bother. You either dig that kind of humor or you don’t, I think. I liken it to Red Dwarf – it’s very silly, occasionally dirty or grim, and all the characters are barely competent. I like it, but it’s not for everyone.

          I second Dirk Gently, it’s weird as hell but I loved it.

    6. Jen*

      Book of Boba Fett basically turned into the Mandalorian the last couple episodes.

      Seconding Wheel of Time and Bake Off.

      Tossing out a random one: Mozart in the Jungle. Definitely had some flaws but a lot of great music and a lot of silly.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, seconding the Book of Boba Fett.

        Lots of Marvel shows on Disney+. Loki’s certainly my favorite of the ones I’ve seen, but I’ve also enjoyed WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, What If…?, and Hawkeye. My only gripe with Hawkeye is that we watched it too late, it’s very Christmas themed. Although if you don’t celebrate Christmas, it doesn’t really matter when you watch it.

    7. Charlotte Lucas*

      I know 2 different people who have used a similar question as an icebreaker at meetings. I think a lot of people are in the same boat.

      I use my local library’s recommended lists to find new things, too. But my household loves documentaries, so that makes a difference.

    8. fposte*

      Have you ever tried Letterkenny, Bibliovore? It’s on Hulu, and it’s like Aaron Sorkin wrote a comedy about young Canadian rural folks (they’re self-termed as “The Hicks”). It’s very sweary but, IMHO, delightfully inventive with it, and it’s the only show I’ve ever watched where I rejoice in scenes where people fistfight.

      Many Letterkenny fans also love Schitt’s Creek; I haven’t yet gotten into it (I’m told it can take a season to get into its groove).

      Oh, you should absolutely have a look at Joe Pera Talks with You. That is just the nicest, smartest, most gently paced show ever. It’s on Amazon, though you may need to purchase to watch; clips are available for free at adultswim dot com. As another upper Midwesterner, you might appreciate that it’s a small-town Yooper story.

      1. Aneurin*

        Seconding Joe Pera Talks With You, it’s such a sweet & good-hearted show. I saw Joe Pera described online as “the youngest-looking 90-year-old you’ve ever seen”, and it’s very true: gentle grandpa vibes all the way.

        1. fposte*

          It’s the Mister Rogers of comedies; it sounds sappy but it’s brilliant. I wasn’t sure where they could go with the third season but it’s just lovely.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Blown Away on Netflix: Competitive glass blowing. Similar to GBBO in the sense that it’s focused on the craft over the interpersonal dynamics.

      Welcome to Earth on Disney (Nat Geo): Really good exploration of interesting, extreme environments on Earth. For example the sound episode has free diving when studying whales, so there is no sound of the tank or bubbles to alarm the wildlife. Infrasound at the edge of a volcano. The sound of land tides, the Earth expanding and contracting in response to the moon.

      If you liked Leverage (which to me has some Loki vibe), I recommend Leverage Redemption on Amazon. If you never saw Leverage, I’d start with the original series (Amazon) and see if the first episodes resonate. (It’s one of those shows where a random episode I saw seemed silly, but when I later watched them in order and knew the characters and hit that episode again, a lot of stuff landed differently.)

    10. TV shows*

      Cat People on Netflix. I’ve watched 2 episodes of it and find it absolutely delightful and adorable. It’s about people who love cats and embrace their quirky selves to pursue their passions. I find it very uplifting plus the bonus of lots of cute cats. If you don’t like cats, maybe skip it then.

      Book of Boba Fett (agree with the other poster that the last 2 episodes were basically the Mandalorian).

      The Dragon Prince on Netflix if you enjoy anime.

      School of Chocolate on Netflix. I feel a bit conflicted about suggesting this one. I really enjoyed the creations on the show (way cool) but did not enjoy the very American reality TV presentation of the show (lots of bitchy interview monologues). I much prefer the style of the great British bake-off. But watching for the creations can be quite distracting.

    11. Let me dark and twisty*

      I’ve been watching Murderville on Netflix. If you haven’t heard about it, it’s a procedural comedy but the guest star isn’t given the script so they improvise everything. It has some funny bits, especially when the guest is trying not to break and laugh. The guest star is required to solve the murder at the end of each episode. Sometimes they’re right.

      It is more a screwball comedy than a serious procedural. If you like improvised sketch comedy, this might work. Episodes are about 30-40 minutes.

    12. Double A*

      I went into The Umbrella Academy (on Netflix) with no expectations and was completely hooked. It’s got some of the most incredible art directions I’ve ever seen in a TV show; I literally couldn’t look away. If you’re in the mood for a comic book series, it’s great. And I think of you liked Loki it’d be up your alley.

    13. Melody Pond*

      The Expanse!!! On Amazon Prime. It’s got a really compelling and interesting story, fantastic characters (several well-developed female characters in particular), and it’s one of the most realistic-science sci-fi shows out there. I can’t recommend it enough. The 6th and final season just wrapped up in January 2021, so the entire series is available.

      We’ve introduced several people to it, and I will caution you, they always have a hard time with the first 1-2 episodes. The first episode in particular throws a lot of people and a lot of political background at you, and doesn’t make it as clear as it could be, who are the main characters you need to care about. But the show figures out how to do its storytelling within a couple episodes, and it’s really, really good.

      It will help a lot if you watch this ten-minute youtube video before starting the first episode, for a deeper explanation of the worlds, and who the main characters are (there are no spoilers in the video). And of course you can always come back to it whenever you need a reminder.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNjrI0YvZYA

      But I always recommend – stick with it through the 4th episode of season 1 before you decide it’s not for you. The 4th episode has the first battle between spaceships, and it’s something that the show and the writers do extremely well. My husband was in the navy, and explained to me how all of the three primary types of weapons work (missiles, PDCs, and rail guns), and how they are weapons we either have today in the navy, or are currently developing.

      Everyone we’ve introduced to the show gets really into it by the 4th episode, and now we’ve got several new #ScreaminFirehawks (the name for Expanse fans on Twitter) in our social circle. :)

      1. Melody Pond*

        Whoops, I meant the final season wrapped up in January 2022. I can’t keep up with new year changes. >.<

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Warning, I walked in on one episode and right out — infectious disease plot line was just too close to home.

    14. The New Wanderer*

      I’m rewatching Monk on Prime – I watched the original run on TV years ago and have been enjoying it again.
      Seconding The Expanse (Prime) , although it helps to have read the book series (explains a LOT of the background and while there are minor* changes in the plot/characters it’s pretty faithful). *usually minor!

      On Netflix, Schitt’s Creek, Good Place, Arrested Development, Kim’s Convenience and Grace and Frankie – good comedies with multiple seasons. Blacklist was pretty engaging for a typical action/drama show, same with Lucifer.

    15. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Cooking show competitions are popular in my household, especially Master Chef (and Master Chef Junior), Worst Cooks in America, Beat Bobby Flay, Chopped, and Iron Chef.

    16. Squirrel Nutkin*

      The ’70s British comedy “Are You Being Served?” is still very funny all these years later! You can find a lot of episodes on YouTube.

    17. SofiaDeo*

      I’ve been bingeing Castle on Hulu. Also downloaded Pluto TV (free, but commercials and some dead time) and am bingeing various channels on there, especially Britbox Mysteries.

    18. Excited Law Student*

      Don’t know if you have already watched these, as they are older, but my favorite distracting TV shows are Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Brooklyn 99!

    19. Cj*

      The British version of Being Human. I first saw it on the BBC channel of DirecTV, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it available on Hulu or prime also.

      There is more recent us. version, maybe it is okay also, but after seeing the British version it was just too different and I couldn’t get into it.

    20. the cat's ass*

      Have really enjoyed The Mandalorian/Book of Boba Fett
      yet another call out for Ted Lasso, too.

    21. Spearmint*

      Lucifer is great. It’s a good mix of comedy and drama, and has weird (in a good way) characters. Interesting worldbuilding as well.

    22. sequined histories*

      One of the highlights of my pandemic has been watching Merlin on Amazon Prime. It does end with the death of Arthur, as per the source material, so if that feels like too much, don’t watch season 5–not that I would have missed it for the world

  15. Let me be dark and twisty*

    Did anyone else watched the Olympics Opening Ceremony yesterday? Any thoughts about it?

    I didn’t like all the high-tech graphics that they used. Maybe I’m old-school but I felt like the graphics and all the technology was more to impress for the audience at home watching on TV rather than for the people who were actually there or about the games, as I spent more time wondering what the people in the arena were seeing. Or maybe it was just NBC and the decisions they made to streamline the ceremony for prime time broadcast that made it seem so techy and the livestream from earlier yesterday morning when the ceremony was actually happening would’ve been better.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Not watching the Olympics as a protest due to the human rights abuses that occur in China.

    2. The Dogman*

      The Olympics opened yesterday?

      Missed that entirely, odd cos even a “no” news person like me usually hears that sort of thing is happening…

      I do find it hard to care about the Olympics since it is so clearly a corporate cash grab event now, all about the branding and sponsorship really, and I hate that professional athletes can go “amateur” for the duration and then back to professional immediately after, makes a mockery of the whole “amateur” concept anyway.

      We should just pay the athletes to compete at the Olympics, since the corporations are making out like bandits the ones who do the actual worthwhile work should be getting paid.

      1. allathian*

        The whole amateur concept is a mockery already. There’s no way amateur athletes could compete against the top pros in most sports, and it’s the top names who are the crowd pullers. The whole amateur sport concept is elitist in the extreme, because to be able to succeed, you need to train pretty much full time, and that requires sponsorship (corporate or government).

        The IOC isn’t paying the athletes, but successful athletes will get bonuses from their sponsors for any medals they win.

        That said, the IOC is corrupt, just like FIFA, and the rest. I’m really tired of them giving big championships to countries like China or Qatar, with their poor human rights records, but I’m not blaming the athletes for that.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          To be able to succeed, you need to train pretty much full time, and that requires sponsorship (corporate or government).
          Or independent wealth. A games of trust funders.

        2. The Dogman*

          Quite correct, the pretense is what bothers me.

          The athletes are making billions in profit for the corporations, the athletes should be getting paid millions in compensation for their time and efforts, and they should all be “professionals” in that sense.

          Same with the USA’s “college slave” sports like baseball, basketball and handegg.

          Getting billions in earnings with zero in out going pay to the teenagers and young people who do all the work and take all the risks is immoral.

      2. Person from the Resume*

        The Olympics aren’t just for amateurs and haven’t been for a long time. Per a quick google the word amateurs was removed from the Olympic charter in 1971 and in 1986, professional athletes were given permission by the International Federation to compete in each sport of the Olympic Games.

        For example I know off the top of my head, Shawn White is a professional snowboarder and makes his entire living from snowboarding completions and related endorsement.

        And also the men’s basketball and hockey team (usual) are full of top tier professionals and have been for quite some time. The NBA and NHL (usually) take a break do their players can play.

        Feel free to be mad that the Olympics changed their rules but nobody is claiming all the athletes are amateurs and they haven’t been for over 30 years.

        It takes full time training to be at the top of your sport in the world. The only athletes not being paid for their sports are in sports that don’t make enough money to live on.

    3. Dog and cat fosterer*

      It’s a pandemic thing. There is effectively no audience in the stadiums, and they didn’t want piles of people in close proximity as performers.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Was going to say, the pandemic would seem to dictate an opening ceremony aimed at television viewers and not live, close-packed audience members.

      2. Let me be dark and twisty*

        This is where I settled with my final decision during my armchair quarterbacking of the night. I did realize there was definitely a ton of limitations in place by the pandemic (and also the fact that it’s winter and verry cold out) so I’m curious what the team would have done had it been “regular times” or the ceremony completely indoors. I imagine it would be more like in 2008.

        But it still felt strange to me, like it missed the mark and was underwhelming. I blame NBC for that, personally. There was a lot they cut out from the prime time broadcast.

    4. WellRed*

      It’s a tremendous accomplishment for the athletes of course, but I feel like the Olympics are waning or should be. Corporate hoo hah, countries spending billions to host.

      1. WellRed*

        And like Dogman points out, letting the pros compete? When the us basketball team was basically a lineup of NBA all stars is when I lost what minuscule interest I had. The Grateful Dead donating team shirts for a team from a poor country? That’s the spirit.

    5. Victoria, Please*

      I am hoping not to watch the Olympics at all, I’m tired of them. No high minded protest, although yay for those who are skipping for that reason. I’m just annoyed by them every two years. I live in LA and I think I may have to take a long trip somewhere else in 2028.

    6. Elle Woods*

      I had it on in prime-time last night mostly as background noise. I’m sure NBC cut a great deal from the actual ceremony so they could fit it in in 3 hours with commercials. The whole thing was really underwhelming. Cool graphics, that’s about it. The music choices they played during the parade of nations were strange (Pomp & Circumstance? ballet tunes?). The biggest oddity to me was the final Olympic flame. No cauldron? Just a torch? Weird, IMO.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      I also was very “meh” with the opening ceremonies.
      My favorite opening ceremonies recently was Rio’s in 2016 – it was so low tech compared to other opening ceremonies, but everyone participating just looked so happy to be putting on a show.
      But I’m excited to see many of the events and hear the Olympic stories, particularly the obscure ones.

    8. GoryDetails*

      Just wanted to add one of my favorite Olympic-related things this year: the “Jurassic World: Dominion” ads featuring CGI dinosaurs wandering onto the ski runs or peering at skateboarders at the top of their loops. Makes no logical sense at all, of course, and the movie doesn’t even come out until summer, but I get a kick out of seeing the athletes reacting to their surprise visitors.

    9. matcha123*

      It reminded me of the Tokyo Games this past summer. The way the volunteers waved and jumped to greet the entering countries; Bach’s attempts to use Chinese; use of technology on the stadium floor to create a 3D-like experience.
      I noticed the men standing behind Bach during his speech were doing their best to keep a smile on their faces.

  16. Lizy*

    Anyone else just wanting to know when the Jamaican bobsled team competes? Because let’s be honest – that’s the only thing that matters.

  17. Anon…*

    My toddler tested positive for COVID yesterday. We are so safe. The only indoor public places we go are Walmart and the grocery store. In the last two weeks, his only close contacts have been his daycare provider who is vaccinated and boosted, her toddler which was just tested 10 days ago because he got exposed he was negative), and two other toddlers both who had COVID within the last 60 days.

    He must have gotten it either in Walmart or the grocery store. He wears a surgical style mask (KN95s are too big for him). However, most people in my area don’t wear masks. I am so pissed. My family hasn’t met my son in person because I didn’t think the risk was worth traveling internationally. I haven’t eaten in a restaurant in over 2 years. We have made so many sacrifices, only for him to catch COVID, because someone else couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask in a store.

    1. Jen*

      Don’t beat yourself up, Omicron is crazy contagious. My kid’s daycare has strict protocols and had no cases for over a year then omicron hit and every single class has had a case (no apparent transmission actually at school).

      1. Anon…*

        I feel absolutely horrible that it’s spread in his daycare. I mean the only silver lining is that are all getting it over together so hopefully (and so far symptoms are mild), we won’t need to close again. My daycare provider is vaccinated and boosted as is her husband and the other parents, so it’s really just our kids that don’t have protection.

      2. Squirrel Nutkin*

        I agree. I have been superdupercareful over the last two years also and basically under self-lockdown again since this Thanksgiving, and STILL apparently got Omicron from spending two minutes getting the mail in my building wearing an N95. It is very frustrating, and I do believe it is because my @#$@#$ neighbors will not wear their masks in our shared public spaces.

        I hope your kid is doing well, and please don’t blame yourself — you were trying to be as responsible as you could in a situation where people were being incredibly selfish and not looking out for others’ health.

        P.S. I think I’ve read that they do have child-size KF94s if that would help.

    2. Overeducated*

      I’m so sorry. Toddler parents stand with you in rage. I hope it’s very mild and out of your household ASAP.

      1. Jen*

        I’m a mom to a preschooler and I’m just so tired. Like the moms earlier this week I’ve had to burn leave for daycare closures and sicknesses.

        I 100% support the measures but my kid getting excluded and requiring a COVID test for any cold symptoms is really hard. I had to be on hold with my kid’s pediatrician for close to two hours just to make an appointment and then wait for the test. Other clinics simply had no spots.

        The system is totally overwhelmed too. When my kid had a more urgent issue (ear infection) we struggled to find anyone that had appointments and eventually just begged a favor from a friend of a friend who is a pediatrician because otherwise we were looking at the ER just to get his ears looked at.

        I’ve heard the 6 months-5 vaccine might be here soon and here’s hoping that it’s effective.

        1. Anon…*

          I mean part of why my son ended up spreading it in daycare was that he had a cough. A cough that was intermittent and primarily when he was napping and shortly after his nap. I couldn’t take off work for an intermittent cough. And, my daycare lady wasn’t going to send him home over an intermittent cough.

          The only reason I even got him tested was because there was a second symptom thwt popped up, an I had to insistent on getting him tested.

      2. Anon…*

        Thanks. He has also infected my pregnant daycare provider and her 1 year old as well. So far my son and my daycare lady only have mild symptoms and my daycares one year old is symptom free. I’m praying everyone stays that way, and that if I’m going to test positive that I test positive soon.

        1. tangerineRose*

          Does it help to think that by being careful, you managed to keep him safe long enough that there are vaccines, and Omicron is sometimes less serious than previous versions of the virus? At least the symptoms are mild. Sorry you’re having to deal with this.

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so sorry. Honestly, this virus is so contagious. I have one friend group who is older (70’s plus) and they are all vaccinated and boostered and every.single.one.of.them has gotten omicron. They’re all fine but it’s so interesting that they all caught it this year and not last year when they all weren’t vaccinated yet.
      My husband and I got it last year before we were eligible for the vaccine and we have NO idea where we got it.
      I hope your little guy is OK!

      1. Jen*

        The reason everyone got it this year is the new variant is exponentially more transmissible than the variant circulating a year ago. We’re really lucky this more contagious version wasn’t around before the vaccine as a lot more people might have died. The vaccine doesn’t seem to prevent people from nevessarily getting omicron but it does appear to be very effective in keeping them out of the hospital and dying.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Also incredibly fortunate that the far more contagious variant has milder symptoms, rather than worse symptoms. That didn’t have to be true.

      2. Generic Name*

        Yeah, I recently had it and I’m fully faxed and boosted and wear masks. I’m just glad it was mild.

    4. Jules the First*

      Oh honey, I feel you. My little (6mo) and I got Omicron on new year’s day at a gathering where everyone attending was double jabbed and boostered. Everyone (bar my sister) also got sick, though we were sickest and honestly it was not nearly as bad as the daycare lurgy we currently have. (Silver lining: once you guys recover, you should have a short period of full immunity, so that would be a great time to book a trip to visit the grandparents…)

      1. New car blues*

        That’s because the vaccines likely do not do much to prevent spread but rather a hospitalization and death (per CDC). Let’s hope we are near end. Hang on!

      2. Anon…*

        Sadly, grandparents are in Europe and I am now out of any time off to see them. I suspect I won’t have enough to go until 2023 or even 2024.

      3. RagingADHD*

        Lurgy, a great word. We have had several bouts of random lurgy, and having to go get tests is so disruptive. For a while there, you had to go in person to an urgent care to sign up, and then come back to wait when your slot was close, and still wait 3 hours to be seen. Burned a whole day when you just wanted to be in bed.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I am sorry your little guy is sick and hope he’s better soon.

      If it makes you feel any better, millions more people than we even realize have caught it, despite taking all precautions, because there are so many asymptomatic cases.

      When there’s community spread, unless everyone is constantly being tested every day, you have to assume that a lot of people are unwittingly walking around with it. He could have caught it from someone who *was* wearing a mask. Unless you were being tested constantly, he may have caught it from you, and you could have cleared it before he tested positive. It’s so unpredictable!

      We are all going to catch it eventually. Fortunately, the vaccinations have turned the odds in our favor.

    6. And so it goes*

      I’m so sorry. I understand the rage. I tested positive last month, even though I’m vaccinated, boosted, and never go anywhere without a mask (surgical or better.) I missed about 2 weeks of work, and feel so lucky I have enough PTO that it’s do-able. Hope your little one recovers quickly and uneventfully.

    7. Cambridge Comma*

      It’s just as likely that one of the other toddlers had delta in the last 60 days and now has omicron.

    8. pcake*

      All my friends and their families are vaxxed and boosted, but in the last 5 weeks, many of them have tested positive – more than during the entire rest of the pandemic – Omicron is that much more contageous. Your child could have gotten it from daycare from someone asymptomatic, and absolutely could have gotten it at Walmart or the grocery store.

      For future reference, there are some KN94 masks at Amazon that are more fitted than a surgical mask and available in a child size.

      Btw, tests are less effective with Omicron. One of my friends tested 4 times before getting a positive, and several tested more than once, and all were positive.

  18. Overeducated*

    Any advice on living with and getting past regret? I made a bad career decision a couple years ago, and now the consequences are starting to become much clearer, and it’s absolutely staggering me how much better off I could be not just now, but in the long term, had I made the other choice. (Trust that I’m not comparing to a hypothetical.) This will impact my career for years at a minimum, or the whole shebang, but I don’t want to feel this upset for years. How do you live peacefully with bad decisions as they shape your life?

    (Posting on this thread because I think it’s a feelings question, not a work advice question, but sorry if I misjudged!)

    1. Victoria, Please*

      Since it was only a couple of years ago, is there any chance of a reboot? I have a similar regret and the reason is that it simply never occurred to me to try again (at the time. Many many years ago).

      If there is no chance, then counseling. Also know that you are not alone in making major mistakes, it’s just that this one had perhaps more tangible consequences than some people’s.

    2. Sooda Nym*

      I have a few things that help in these circumstances:
      1. You can’t ever truly know how that other situation would have worked out. Maybe you would have been hit by the proverbial bus on your way to/from work or school had you made the other choice. You just don’t know. Or maybe there is something unexpectedly good waiting for you down the road you are on now, and you just don’t see it yet. You just don’t know.
      2. We often fail to give ourselves credit for the good choices we did make. Take a little time and think about times you made a good decision that has made your life better. One single decision is not the story of a whole life.
      3. In the words of Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.” You did the best you could at the time, that’s all you can do. But, that also means your job is to do your best now, and spending time mired in regret is not doing the best you know.
      4. Take time to “grieve” what it is you feel you’ve lost. Telling yourself you shouldn’t feel like this isn’t going to make yourself not feel it. You’ll end up piling guilt on top, and that just doesn’t help. Acknowledging that it sucks, and you have a right to feel bad about it for a while, and then working through those feelings can be really helpful.

    3. Sloan Kittering*

      So, I don’t know if this will help, but two things: 1) if you made the best decision you could with the info you had, you can work to forgive yourself for making the so-called “wrong” choice, Picard style (“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not weakness, that is life.”). There are many circumstances where luck plays a greater role than good decision making, so I make a point of noting them as I go through my day. Even in something dumb as wordel, I’ll try to note: oh, I played the word “Frame” and won, but “Shame” would have also fit the facts and if I’d played it instead, I would have lost. Would I have been a “worse” player in the latter case? No, it was arbitrary. So now I’m proud of myself for winning, but it was also still arbitrary. (No spoilers here – frame was not the winning word – and sorry if wordel is not a good example for you but it applies to anything). 2) I try to be proud of myself for risk-taking. It is easy to stay in the same old same old and muddle through without taking any risks. But you limit what is possible by doing so. Even though risks by their very nature imply that you may be unsuccessful – see point number one.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I like the wordle example–once I had the last four letters by midway, but there are more than six English words that end with those four letters and I didn’t guess the right one.

        Living with regret: I really agree with what people are saying about knowing what you knew at the time, and also being the person you were at the time. We change, right answers for us change. Try to forgive yourself for not being now-you two years ago.

        Wrestling with regret: Is this a broad character trait, like you took the cautious root and you always take the cautious root and then frequently have regrets and so you’re mad at current self? If this is really drowning you because it feels like the most serious in a string of similar bad choices, I’d suggest therapy to try and identify and break patterns.

    4. Generic Name*

      I’ve been talking to my teenage son about making mistakes and moving on from them, and I think this fits with dealing with past regret. We make decisions based on the information we have at the time we make them. We normally make choices with good intentions (most of us). And then we get more information and we learn and grow. Hindsight is 20:20 as they say. As the great Maya Angelou told us, “When you know better you do better”. Don’t beat yourself up for making a “wrong” choice.

    5. Wishing You Well*

      First, do all you can to change your future.
      Second, since this is bothering you 2 years later, please consider going to a therapist – temporarily, just to fix this one issue. They have many techniques for this. You’ll need to experiment to find the one that works for you. One technique I tried was to write my regrets on a piece of paper and burn it. That didn’t work. So before I turned into a raging arsonist, I quit that one and tried the next technique: imagining the issue was a balloon and watching it disappear into the vast cosmos. That one worked for me. You might need a different technique.
      Hope you find peace on this issue soon.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      1) Look around with fresh eyes. What opportunities do you have here that you would not have if you took The Other Road? This is an on-going exercise that gives your mind something to do other than beat the heck out of you annnd it could work into some advantages for you in current time.

      2)The friend rule. If you can’t say it to a friend, then you can’t say it to yourself either. Here’s the tricky part, no one is going to police you on this. Either you do it or you don’t. However, your negative self-talk WILL become apparent to others over the long haul. When I supervised, employees who cheered themselves on did much better than employees who beat themselves up. And so it goes in life. Be a good friend to you.

      3) Trust that you are where you are supposed to be. I hope you smile knowingly: So years ago, I was standing here as a young widow, with a stack of medical bills, a mortgage and an elderly dog and NO job. (The thing that concerned me the most was the dog. The innocence of animals and children, right?) If someone said, trust that I am where I am supposed to be, I probably would have slapped them. I did decide that nature abhors a vacuum.
      I decided that if I made an attempt, my life would fill up again but this time with different things.
      Trust that where you are needed most in this world will become apparent shortly. Look for the day where you catch yourself saying, “Gee, if I had taken the Other Road, I would not have X or Y right now!”
      Our lives fill up, maybe not in the way we planned but that is not the same as saying we won’t have a rich and full life. This one is a function of time and not a quick answer.

      4) Forgive you. I seen it written that we cannot truly learn to forgive others until we forgive ourselves. This one may involve a few sessions with a counselor. Or it may involve a good hard cry. The real truth is not many of us get through this life without having one or more serious regrets. This ties right into my 5th point.

      5)Part of your own treatment plan here may include outlining how to make decisions that you are less apt to regret later. This one sent me down a rabbit hole. How do we decide things? There’s the idea of making a list of pro and cons, that some attribute to Ben Franklin. This is very time consuming and how do you know when you are done???? An article caught my eye that was about making decisions in a fast paced world. Under this method we are supposed to find one Very Strong reason for doing./not doing something. I like this method a lot. And I feel good about decisions made under this method, because when I hit that very strong reason it usually jabs me between the eyes and I say “ah-ha! This is my solution!”

      6) Now this one actually annoys me. My mother used to say that most of life is an illusion. Unfortunately we react to what we THINK we see and what we THINK things are. We react to our perception of what is going on and sometimes (most times) there is more to the story or we have the wrong story entirely. Don’t make the same mistake twice. Look over your setting with eyes wide open. Did you really mess up? Did you really mess up as bad as you think? If you can find trustworthy and objective minded people to talk this over with, it might be worth your investment of time. Sometimes our biggest hurdles exist only in our minds, the real life hurdles are actually smaller. Don’t wait another ten years to find out that you missed key points about this situation right now.

      I wish you the best on this. Once I churned through some of this stuff I found that subsequent mistakes were not so gut-wrenching and heart-wrenching to me. I realized I survived Old Thing X and I would probably survive New Thing Y, also.

    7. ODM*

      I thought I’d offer a different perspective than the other commenters, in case it’s helpful to you or anyone else. My default response to feelings of regret or perceived mistakes is to try to argue with negative thoughts, analyze past decisions, and plan better actions. This response turned into a kind of struggle that made me feel worse, and more and more drained as time went on. I’ve recently found the approach of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) helpful, which recommends acknowledging and working to set aside negative thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to disprove or replace them.

      If that sounds at all relevant to you (and it may not!), The Happiness Trap is an introduction to ACT that my therapist recommended. I should mention that it’s mindfulness-based, but I’m not at all New Age-y (or one for self-help books usually), I just found it useful.

      1. Still*

        Yeah, I feel like when it comes to regrets, it’s really hard to try to feel differently about them, it never feels good trying to reason with myself.

        These days I just say to myself: yep, that’s a thing that happened, I regret it, I’m sad and ashamed about it, it sucks. And somehow my brain seems to accept that that’s all the acknowledgement it needs to move on to other topics.

    8. small town*

      If you have a moment, Google up the Cherly Strayed as Dear Sugar column called the Ghost Ship. It is about making choices and possible loss, beautifully written.

    9. A Feast of Fools*

      I am 55 and have only $75K in retirement savings.

      Had I made other choices in my life, I would have 10-20 times that amount.

      But I made the best choices I could at the time with (1) the information I had, and (2) who I was at the time. The things 55-Year Old Me can step up and do are things that caused 25-Year Old Me to crumple into a useless lump of chronic depression.

      If I could have stepped up and made (and sustained) 55-Year Old Me decisions, I would have. But I was literally doing the best I could do at the time, and I have trouble faulting myself for that. [I mean, I still have the occasional 2:00 AM panic wakeup where I suddenly regret, deeply, everything I’ve ever done “wrong”, but that’s not my day-to-day way of thinking.]

    10. Public Sector Manager*

      The thing to remember is that the future is never static. Early in my 20’s, I made a couple of really bad decisions, both personally (financial and romantically) and professionally. Much like you, I felt that there was no way I could ever recover and I had doomed myself to a certain life. I spent about 4 years saying “if I had only done this differently, I’d be happier, richer, more fulfilled, etc.”

      What changed? Things I never could have anticipated 4 years earlier started happening. It took my life in an entirely different direction for the better. So to answer your question, the only way to get past regret is time.

      One thing that helped me realize that the future always changes from what we think will happen is the story of Thomas Henderson. He was known as Hollywood Henderson when he played with the Dallas Cowboys. He started his NFL career in 1975, and it was all over by 1980. By 1983 he found himself in prison because of drug use and sexual assault. He got sober in prison. He became a motivational speaker when he got out. He made amends for his past, he gave back to the community where he was raised. In 2000, he won $28 million in the Texas Lottery.

      Tomorrow is always a blank slate. Past regret is just that–living in the past. Life can change tomorrow, and it’s not always for the worse. If I could go back to my younger self, I would tell me to make tomorrow a different day and don’t get in a rut of self-doubt. Just because you think tomorrow will be one way doesn’t make it so. You honestly have the power to change everything about you.

      Best of luck to you. I’m pulling for you.

  19. Expiring Cat Memes*

    How do you navigate mismatched attitudes about gift-giving with your friends and family?

    I am not a gift-giver. Partly because I don’t enjoy shopping; mostly because I am anti-junk and wastage. I prefer to do other things that show I care, like treat them when we go out, host their celebration, cook them a special dinner, or contribute help (financial, time or otherwise) when I know they could use it, rather than just buying a thingy to gift-wrap because it’s an occasion.

    I also hate receiving gifts. They’re seldom anything I actually like or want and I hate that fake social appreciation dance that I’m expected to do, only to find somewhere for the unwanted thing to rot until enough time has passed to throw it out. My friends and family all know this about me, yet here we still are several decades later having awkward one-way gifting on special occasions.

    I know that for some people, the act of gifting is important because it makes them feel good to give. But even though I’ve been very clear about not wanting “things” and giving them other alternatives, I’m inevitably ending up in situations where they gift anyway, they can see I dislike it, get a bit upset, and I feel terrible while having to explain yet again that I don’t want “things” and won’t use it.

    I guess it’s ramping up at the moment as we’re settling into our new home and everyone is so excited for us. It’s sweet and well-intentioned, but I know from experience that if I’m not brutally direct I’ll just end up with more and more useless stuff for landfill or charity.

    Interested to hear the different takes on this.

    1. Batgirl*

      Are you saying that you dislike getting gifts “because it’s not what I want”, or are you very firmly saying “no gifts at all, I don’t want to unwrap anything and I don’t like having new things”. If it’s the former, people are still going to feel compelled to get you something, but just think they could do better. If it’s the latter, they still have a social quandary but they are clearer on the situation. I had a lot of success this Christmas with “let’s not do any gifts” because everyone was broke, but the previous Christmas everyone agreed to Secret Santa. We used an app where people chose the things they actually wanted and we exchanged way fewer gifts. You could also make a gift list of experiences or vouchers, or tell people they could treat you to a spa day or to lunch at your favourite restaurant. A new house is a perfect opportunity to deny gifts: “We are living out of boxes and still deciding what we want to do with the house. You’d be doing me the greatest favour if you didn’t get me any more stuff/take this back.” And stick to it.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        It’s always been “no gifts at all” and lately it’s “again: no gifts at all, ever, and also, I do not want that thing so please keep or return it”. We’d agreed (again) this Christmas that only the grandkids would get gifts, yet there I was (again!) with a heinous wicker planter basket and a huffy mother.

        Now, weirdly, it’s starting with a friend who we moved closer to. She keeps buying me all this random stuff, and plants that I either don’t like or am years away from being ready put into the ground. My house and garden are very personal to me – and out of everyone she knows that quite well, so I’m surprised by it.

        1. Batgirl*

          You’ve been clear and they’re the ones making it awkward! Though possibly your friend thinks plants don’t count.

      2. Sloan Kittering*

        I have also had good luck redirecting the gift impulse into something more acceptable. We’ve done “please don’t bring a gift but a bottle of your favorite wine would be welcome” or “a dish to share” or even flowers, which at least don’t hang around forever. Something you can re-gift without guilt, like a bottle of wine, is good I think.

      3. The Dogman*

        Ask for socks…

        People always need socks so you can re-gift any that are the wrong pattern or colour.

    2. Buni*

      About 10yrs ago my mother suggested / issued a blanket family rule that amongst the over-18s all gifts had to be ‘consumable’ – basically food & drink or lotions / bathroom stuff, very generic vouchers, or maybe flowers for lesser celebrations. The only exception has been good socks. All our lives are immeasurably better.

      1. Constance Lloyd*

        This is basically what my family does as well. Consumables, experiences, or the occasional handmade functional gift. (I knit sweaters, and a sister likes to gift canvas shopping bags she’s embroidered.)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m still grateful to the brother-in-law who formally proposed stopping Xmas gifts on that side of the family.

      3. Elle Woods*

        My family has mostly switched to this too and it’s been really nice. We’ve mostly given each other tickets to a sporting contest or gift cards to favorite retailers and restaurants. We’ll occasionally give each other really nice warm socks or earrings but it’s mostly experiences.

        1. Sloan Kittering*

          I would like this so much but first I need to shift the family away from “opening gifts / watching others open gifts” as the main way we celebrate the occasion. The times we’ve had nothing to unwrap the event fell a little flat because that’s the traditional activity. Ugh.

      4. Coenobita*

        Yes! At a certain point my grandma (now 95 years old) was like, “I am old, I don’t want anything new unless I can eat it, drink it, or use it up.” I think that’s a good guide for most people, even if you are not 95.

        Also, there is ALWAYS someone in my neighborhood Buy Nothing group who will take unwanted food, lotion, soap, etc. I think consumables are generally easier (and guilt-free-er) to give away or regift compared to other types of stuff.

        1. Suprisingly ADHD*

          My grandmother declared for her last 5 or so years “Anything you give me, you’re getting back when I die!” She held to that too, we mostly got her little figurines that she liked, and we did get them back. It’s nice to have pretty things we associate with her.

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I enjoy choosing & giving gifts, but I live in a small place so totally sympathize. I prefer gifts to be useful or meaningful (or both).

      As everyone has gotten older and had less need for “stuff”, my family has moved to more food gifts, which I appreciate. And just ordering gift crates of local specialties takes me less time than regular shopping. Do you think you could at least move your family to something like that? (Since I am also now the main “keeper of family recipes” for both sides, it gives me more time for my holiday baking, which they’ve made clear is their real interest.)

      I also know families where gifts are only for the kids during the holidays, and the adults pool their money for charitable giving.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As a gifter, the notion of deliberately disregarding the wishes of someone who has specifically said “please don’t get me gifts” is sort of appalling. I can’t even wrap my head around why someone would do that. Are they … assuming that just because you’re saying it you don’t actually MEAN it or something? It sounds like this has been going on long enough that that shouldn’t be the case, but … cannot fathom.

      1. Expiring Cat Memes*

        LOL, it got very awkward with my Mum this Christmas because I was long out of f–’s to give by the 24th. Essentially it boiled down to her “needing to give gifts because that’s what’s important to her even if I don’t appreciate it! *sniffffffff*”. And I had to say, sorry I don’t, and I’ve been telling you that every year for 20 years Mum. Hope you have a spot for it or a receipt. (But of course, IATA)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          A friend of mine at one point, for actual gift-giving occasions, started saying “For (Christmas/my birthday/whatever) this year, I want gifts for (charity). Anything anyone gives me for my birthday, without exception, will be donated to that organization. If you really want to give something and need some guidance, their wish list is located at (link).” Maybe you could try something like that? That way if what’s important to Mum is to give a gift, and she doesn’t much care about the recipient, then she can pick out gifts for a youth shelter or an animal rescue or whatever cause is near and dear to your heart?

        2. Batgirl*

          So, does she actually take it away when you ask her to? Also, would she be receptive to a list of things you’d be okay with receiving? Something like your favourite brand of shampoo or a gift card? I am getting vibes though that she’s just a shopper who like to pick up stuff on wild impulse regardless of other people’s preferences. I told my future MiL last night that “crystal wasn’t really my thing” because she really wants to buy me something for my dressing table and she keeps suggesting things made out of crystal. Cue: “Oh but you have to, because you’re going to inherit all my crystal animals!” Well… if I have to!?!!

        3. Malarkey01*

          My trick with a mom who cannot seem to NOT get me “something” is to take it, say a neutral thank you, and then I throw it out before I get home.
          I had to really struggle with the throwing away because it’s SO wasteful but I realized a lot of my reaction was centered around the oh man now I have to deal with this thing and have to take it to the thrift store/store it/find someone who wants it and I was resentful that they had thrust that on me. I now have no guilt about thrashing it, they knew you didn’t want it so it’s on them if they ask to see it after the fact, and I don’t even bring it into my home.
          For the friend with the plants I’d be more blunt and say “please don’t give me anything, I cannot accept it, and then when they hand you something say “no thank you”. If a friend can’t respect that basic boundary it’s not your fault their feelings are hurt (moms seem to be a different situation since they birthed us).

      2. Venus*

        My father is a controlling asshole and assumes that buying nice gifts will force us to love him. He’s atheist and celebrates christmas as an elaborate gift-opening ritual. I kept talking about giving away some of the gifts every year and mine slowly reduced until a few years ago it became a donation to a charity (food bank) and I am so much happier. I don’t do gifts with the rest of my family except for consumables.

        I tried doing the list of things that I needed but it was always wrong (frying pan please, no other pans as I have too many of those… oh look! A pan but no frying pan)

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          I’ve also found with doing the list thing that eventually you get to a point in life where you’re very particular about the size/shape/brand of frypan and that can totally suck the joy out of shopping for the gift-giver. Or, they keep forgetting that you’ve already been given a frypan, so fast forward a couple of years and you have eleventy frypans you don’t know what to do with.

    5. Sooda Nym*

      I always think of gifts as someone spending their money in a way that makes them happy, not something where anyone should expect reciprocation. But that also means once a gift is given, it’s no-strings-attached: if the recipient wants to throw it in the trash or donate to charity, so be it (there are exceptions – if someone gives you something with sentimental value, you’d truly want to try to return it to them vs. putting it in a dumpster). Sounds like you feel obligated to hang onto things for a while, so you see the gifts as a burden.

      Maybe instead of trying to convince people not to give you gifts (which is not working anyway) you can accept that they are going to give them, because it makes them happy, and figure out responses that work for you, and help you be happy, too. Instead of thanking someone for a gift you don’t want, thank them for thinking of you (assuming that you are truly happy that they think enough of you to get you a gift, this is expressing a true emotion, not just faking gratitude). I think it’s fair to mention if you won’t use something, but then just accept the item, move the conversation on to something else, and dispose of the item later s you see fit. Maybe it would work to say “Thank you so much for thinking of me. *I’m not sure I will use this,* would you like it back, or would you like me to keep it?” (*Or, I don’t have a place to store it, or I can’t eat that type, or I have one already…just a generic truth that fits the gift). Use a completely pleasant tone to convey the gift isn’t a good fit, put the ball in their court, and if they want you to keep the item, then you’ve got your answer, and can do what you want with the gift without guilt.

      1. Batgirl*

        I wouldn’t like to give someone a disposal job though, just because I like to give gifts? There’s something quite unfair about that and you don’t have to gift “stuff”.

        1. Sooda Nym*

          Ideally, yes. The people who are being asked not to give gifts should realize that the “best gift” in that situation is no gift at all. But that’s not happening in this case. You can’t change other people, you can only change your own behavior in response.

          1. Batgirl*

            But surely the best way to help them realise is to go: “Oh you just enjoy that yourself, I wasn’t being coy, I’m fine and really didn’t want anything”, rather than “Aww, thanks you do know better than I do about what I like!”.

    6. fposte*

      Sometimes it’s easier to redirect rather than stop the impulse. Housewarming may be tougher because it’s nonreciprocal, but then again unpacking in a new place makes the “overwhelmed with stuff” narrative pretty understandable for most givers. One possibility would be saying you just can’t cope with stuff, but you’d love a photo or a note (you can set up a Google page if you want to keep it digital) about your friendship or a happy shared time you enjoyed.

      But does your dislike of gift giving mean that you’re also resisting giving gifts to people for whom that’s important? Then it sounds like a parallel where both sides are sticking to their own way of doing things, and I might just shrug and call that one a draw.

      1. Sloan Kittering*

        Yes I could probably get out of receiving gifts but never out of giving them, as there are a few people in my family who take such joy in being given items. I try to have some go-to gifts from small businesses I really want to support, and I buy stuff when I travel that hopefully supports the local economy and also sends a “look, I thought of you on vacation” message. It is hard though I’m not as good a gift-giver as others in my family, and it tedious to buy, at last count, twelve gifts a year, each lovingly wrapped and mailed on time.

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        I still give gifts, but it’s more random and unexpected than on a predictable event schedule. Eg: I didn’t show up at the hospital with a gift for my friends when their baby was born, but I gave them a hefty gift card several months prior when I knew they had to buy all the baby stuff. That kind of thing.

        1. fposte*

          That still sounds like giving gifts the way you want to, not when the recipient might most enjoy it, though.

          To be clear, I don’t think that’s a horrible thing. I have friends of various gift-giving stripes, including not at all, and it’s all fine (I suspect it matters less to many of us the older we get). But nobody’s righter than anybody else, so I’d focus on mutual tolerance, abetted by strategies for redirection to something you find less burdensome.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Yep that’s fair; I am insisting on doing it my way perhaps at the expense of their enjoyment. I guess I’ve always figured that for the recipient it’s about being given something, and I want that something to be meaningful or helpful to them. But maybe I’ve got that wrong! Maybe it’s the ritual that’s important, not the thing.

            I guess what logically follows then though, is that if I perform the ritual to make them happy, how do I keep it one-way? Because my concern is that we’ll devolve back into ‘Cat Memes gave me a birthday present, therefore I have to get her one too even if she insists she doesn’t want one’. I don’t know if there’s necessarily a workable middle ground there. But it’s interesting to consider anyway.

            1. fposte*

              Heh, that’s the tricky bit, so I don’t know that I have a perfect solution either. It is very human to think that other people want what you do, and for them to take your doing it to them as enthusiasm for them to do it to you. Or you could end up with an Abilene paradox where neither of you really care about exchanging gifts but you each think the other one does so you carry on with it forever for no reason. (I also don’t think it’s the end of the world if you keep doing what you do now–I was just noting there was a bit of an inconsistency there. I definitely don’t think anybody needs to turn themselves inside out to give the exact gift the exact way that the recipient will enjoy.)

              If you can do it, it might be worth having an open conversation, especially with a good redirection ready if they ask you what you like in gifts. It’s easiest if you can just open up the topic sometime when nobody’s birthday is on the horizon, or well in advance of an holiday gift season. You can go deep if you like, and it might be an interesting conversation: what does getting gifts mean to you? What about giving them? What’s the best part of the experience? Is it important for every occasion and gift (I am a sucker for a pile of wrapped packages, but I’m completely satisfied by one friend who loves to create those)?

              The other complication is that if these are coming from people you don’t feel you know well enough to have those conversations with and don’t see often enough to have a sense of what matters to them, giftwise. For those it might make a lot of sense to stick to your current lack of reinforcement, maybe with occasional mentions of how important it is to you to move away from more stuff and instead donate money to the food bank or wherever. Just don’t do it the moment you’re handing them a scented candle to add to their collection :-).

    7. Nicole76*

      Since it sounds like your mom isn’t going to stop with the gift-giving, would it be possible to direct her to an online wish list so at the very least she can buy something you’d actually want/use? I could see this being particularly useful for your new home – “We set up a wish list of items we could actually use in our new home”. It doesn’t guarantee people will buy from it, but at the very least it gives them ideas on what you like.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I’m seeing two possible issues in your post. The first is, some people in your family express love through giving and receiving gifts. The other is, people are violating your boundaries.

      If you really feel strongly that you don’t want to give or receive gifts, and it hurts your feelings that people are ignoring your clear wishes, then I think you need to draw a line in the sand. The issue isn’t that you open the gift and it’s not something you like and then you don’t perform adequate gratitude. That makes it seem like maybe if people keep buying you stuff then one day they will get it right and find something you love (and thereby prove to you that you do like gifts after all). The thing that seems to be making you feel bad isn’t the bad gift, it’s the fact of the gift.

      If this is true, then I think you need to literally not open it. Will this be hard and cause a ruckus? You bet. But after one or two times of handing the unopened gift back and saying, “I know you love me, I’m sure this is very thoughtful, but I Do Not Want Gifts and I hope you can give this to someone who will enjoy it,” I’ll bet the gifting will stop.

      I am in a similar situation. I don’t like to receive gifts, I don’t like to give gifts (at specific prescribed giving occasions – I love to spontaneously see something that I know a loved one would truly enjoy and pick that up). Some of my family is similar and some are decidedly Not Similar. But I don’t feel the same sense of boundary violation that I’m getting from your post, so my response is different. I think that I’m more of an outlier in not loving gifts, than they are in loving them, so I try to compromise. People know I’m not much of a gift person, so they extend me some grace by giving me a wish list, or accepting my somewhat-generic and not very thoughtful presents and hopefully seeing the fact of my trying as evidence of love. Similarly, even though I don’t really like getting a bunch of stuff that I won’t use, I try to see the gifts as little boxes of love, and I express my appreciation in that vein. Then I just donate the things I won’t use.

      1. Bona v Bubba*

        Ah, this makes sense to me! It is harsh but clear, and it makes it explicit that it is not about the item itself and that you are unwilling to compromise in any way on the issue.

        Usual caveats about being willing to accept social fallout of insisting on your way in its entirety, but if this is your hill to die on then this action makes your position unmistakable.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      This kind of thing is so frustrating for everyone involved. We finally had to impose a gift limit for our kids and while some family members have been fine with it, a couple keep finding excuses to ignore or get around the rules. I’m so sick of having to remind them every time (including for like, Thanksgiving which is not usually a gifting holiday!) but I feel like it’s the only thing keeping them from giving even MORE stuff.

      Ultimately you can’t change other people’s actions so adjust your own – the biggest one is that you don’t have to keep crap you don’t want for a polite timeframe! That shit goes straight to a donation bin. Or if you know where it was purchased, exchange it for something you do want. Or if you can, just “forget” it at the giver’s house or explicitly tell them you’re leaving it there. It feels extremely rude but you’ve set this boundary many times, so no one should be surprised when you reinforce it.

    10. Bona v Bubba*

      We have met in the middle(ish) over time. I ask for consumables or for specific things that I actually want. They understand that I am not going to be as proficient at gift giving as they are. I have worked on learning to give thoughtful gifts, including things that are within my comfort zone such as consumables or things that I am confident will be put to good use.

      This is a love languages thing, so it’s not like one side is right and the other wrong. If you love these people, try to work with them toward mutually agreeable solutions.

    11. Bumblebeee*

      Amen. I agree with all that you say. This is the family culture I grew up with. But I married into a family where every birthday and Christmas means dozens of gifts per person. I struggled with everything you mentioned in your post, but particularly the waste it created. My MIL I’m sure also felt upset when she realised I was getting rid of a lot of what she gifted me or for the children when they were very young. But I truly did not want all this ‘stuff’ and hated the clutter it created in my home.

      My husband and I had many debates about this over the years and we’ve come to a place of compromise regarding the number of gifts. I also recognise gifts being an important and fun part of his family tradition and kind of go along with it as best as I can tolerate; but my in laws know not to get me a gazillion gifts for me. It’s totally fine for you to be brutally direct about not accepting gifts. If that is your strong preference, it’s selfish for others to insist on giving you gifts. Gifts being such a strong social practice, though, I do think you will need to have the conversation repeatedly and forcefully to stick.

    12. Anon for this*

      Oh, I feel for you – my family is like this. One of my siblings is a minimalist who loves not having too much stuff around, and one of our parents is a wildly enthusiastic gift-giver, because they are very generous and this is a big part of how they look out for everyone (“Are you sure you don’t need an X? What about a Y? Can I give you this Z?”). I am somewhere in between; I also love not having too much stuff, but I also like finding objects for other people, so I can see where everyone is coming from. It’s caused tension in both directions, because the sibling in question really resents having objects pushed on them all the time, and the parent in question keeps feeling as if they’ve been asked to stop caring about one of their adult children. I’ve ended up having to explain each of them to the other repeatedly. I think it’s starting to work, though, and my sibling in particular is very grateful.

    13. Olivia Oil*

      I’m in a similar boat but honestly I don’t really have a solution. I’m very much an “experiences, not things” kind of person. I have clearly communicated before to people something along the lines of “you having drinks and spending time with me on my birthday is more than enough, don’t worry about buying anything.” But at the same time, if someone really wants to give a gift I’m not going to die on that hill. I will also give gifts to people who I know will appreciate them, even though the process of selecting gifts stresses me out lol. Sometimes it’s more about the gesture than the thing. I mostly gift consumables – they are more likely to get used and won’t end up abandoned in someone’s garage. And if I get something I don’t end up using I donate it.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      I think you need to be clear and be willing to repeat yourself over and over.

      I relate to the dozens of gifts per person that one commenter spoke of. We brought the van to bring the gifts home. It was just too much.

      It was interesting that we were the last couple in the group to set up housekeeping but we were the first couple in the group to say, “We do not need more THINGS.” It was interesting to watch the gift lovers process this news. It was sudden hearing loss for these folks. Some of these folks were very interested in displays of expensive name brands and so on. Once I caught on, I found more and more ways of talking about excessive gifting. “We don’t have the space.” “I don’t have time to take care of all this stuff, so I don’t want any more.” “We can’t use it because there’s too much stuff in the way.”

      I think that open and on-going conversation is the route to go. Let them get tired of hearing you saying it, so they can realize how you feel about dealing with it. Tell each person involved that you will stop once the deluge stops.

      Be forewarned. Once the gifting stopped so did the get-togethers. I suspect this was a group of people who did not actually like each other that much.

    15. Calm Water*

      I suck at giving gifts and also don’t want things. Every year my mom asks what I want for Christmas. And every year the answer is socks. Boring socks. Not ‘fun’ socks. She doesn’t like it.

      With a few friends we exchange consumables. One friend and I have it down to chocolate coffee and wine. It’s amazing. Once her kids met me at the door and asked did you bring me a present? Their grandparents tend to spoil them. I looked at the preschooler and said do I ever bring you anything? No. It may seem a little harsh but these kids have plenty and they still like me because I play, we read, I introduce them to age inappropriate music – it’s great!

    16. Sleeping Late Every Day*

      The thing is, it’s supposed to be about what the recipient wants, not the giver. So not giving a gift is inflicting your beliefs on the other person. You may not like what you deem as junk, so you want to withhold gifts just to prove a point? Books aren’t junk. Food items aren’t junk. A nice beverage isn’t junk.

      1. allathian*

        Precisely. But after years and years of receiving unwanted gifts because that’s how the giver shows they care, turnabout is entirely fair play.

        Buying gifts is a burden for me. I’m so happy that I’ve mostly not had to deal with it for years. My dad used to show love by buying lots of gifts, some funny, others thoughtful, for Christmas especially. But as he’s gotten old and frail, he actually suggested that we stop giving presents among adults in our family. Now only our son gets a few Christmas presents, last year it was a new cellphone, some virtual money for his PS5, and clothes, and he was perfectly happy with that. Among adults, we stick to consumables like chocolate and coffee, and our traditional Christmas flower exchange. When we still exchanged gifts, we’d have wish lists of mainly books, and it got a bit ridiculous because we’d either shop online, or buy from a bookstore, books for each other that we could just as easily buy for ourselves.

      2. Despachito*

        ” it’s supposed to be about what the recipient wants, not the giver. ”

        Exactly this.

        I hate surprise gifts. I had a friend who loved surprise gifts.

        I think the ideal thing would have been for me to give her surprise gifts (because this was HER preference as the recipient), and for her to ask me precisely what I wanted (because this was MY preference as the recipient).

        I think the problem with the “no-gifts” rule is that people do not believe you are serious (and perhaps think “she SAYS she does not want anything but if I comply she will be hurt-.) So I think if you redirect their need to get you something to things which are acceptable to you, be it consumables/experiences/a dinner in a nice restaurant, this is most likely to succeed .

    17. Suprisingly ADHD*

      I got really lucky in that regard, the rule for my family was “send me a link to that thing you want and I’ll buy it for you,” or “I will take you out to lunch and shopping where you want,” paired with “don’t buy yourself things in December if you asked for them for Christmas, or before your birthday if you requested them.”

      If you’re dealing with housewarming gifts or similar, can you ask for gift cards? Maybe even for your favorite grocery store or restaraunt? You could use the line “we still haven’t sorted out what we need but we know we need dinners!” Or some snack you like but rarely get for yourself? Alternatively, if you DO know a few things you need, can you make a gift registry so they at least get you what you want?

      But if they won’t stop giving you useless (to you) things even when you say to stop, there’s unfortunately nothing you can do if they want to be offended by it. Just be matter of fact “we’ve discussed this before, and I’m being very literal when I say I will not use gifts because I have what I want already.” You can add “I have asked you to only bring me ___ (some treat or snack you like), why won’t you get me this thing I really enjoy?” If you’ve been very clear and specific, it’s up to them to stop.

    18. Lucy Skywalker*

      Tell your family and friends to make a donation to a charity in your name, rather than giving you a gift to open. If they persist in giving you a gift, i.e., “But it brings me so much pleasure to pick out a gift for you and watch you open it!” remind them that gift-giving is for the benefit of the receiver, not the giver. Tell them that if giving is so important to them, maybe volunteer at a local food pantry.

  20. Pocket Mouse*

    Insurance preauthorization question: if a medical provider submitted for preauthorization on a procedure and my insurance approved it, would it cause problems if I try to get that procedure done with a different provider before the preauthorization expires? Or, if not problems, will there be anything to sort out or update with my insurer in order for the procedure to be approved/covered with the new provider?

    I merely asked a question to the financial team at a provider’s office about how insurance billing/payment would work on a procedure—to be honest, in part because I’m trying to figure out whether I want to pursue it at this provider or try my luck with another provider when the time comes. I say ‘when the time comes’ because I have not even confirmed I wanted this procedure, the doctor I saw cannot provide it until additional steps are taken, and everyone agrees I’m not ready for it… but the financial/billing team just went ahead and submitted for preauthorization. While I’m glad to know where my insurance stands on it, I’m not thrilled with losing agency in the process and will be distinctly unhappy if it throws a wrench in what I decide is best for me. There are enough hoops to jump through as it is.

    1. Doctor is In*

      Usually an authorization is with a specific provider and location/hospital/surgery center. No guarantee that a different provider is even really in network.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Assuming another provider is in network, would they (or I) run into issues with the insurer when they submit for authorization themselves?

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      Definitely call your insurance company and provider. The auths are usually for a specific provider, but can often be reassigned. (Easier if everyone is in network.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Ask your insurance over us!

          But my experience matches Doctor Is In’s–the authorization is for that provider. Or looked at another way, that provider didn’t go to all the paperwork involved for you to say “Kthnxbye” and hand it to someone else.

    3. Really*

      I know for dental there wasn’t an issue. Look at what the preauthorization letter says. More importantly there is usually a time limit for how long it’s good for. After that you would need a new one anyway.

      1. HoundMom*

        A medical procedure pre auth only applies to the doc who did the paperwork. You may have to have the first doc rescind the request. The carrier will not have two pre-auths out there.

    4. FACS*

      I’m a surgeon. The prior Auth us for one provider at a specific institution, period. No real point in getting it until you will definitely proceed and they are time limited. Hope it is not a way to press you to move forward.

  21. Overeducated*

    I think you can’t entirely rewrite how people engage with a widespread social practice on the basis of individual preference. (This is not a statement that you *shouldn’t* be able to or your preferences are invalid, and I agree that lots of gifts ARE wasteful crap; I just don’t think it’s going to happen.) So I say accept this rather than trying to change people. Accept the gifts graciously for what they mean to the givers – a symbolic way of showing care – and find a quiet way to offload them without adding to a landfill if you can. Buy Nothing, Freecycle, and free stuff Facebook groups are pretty good depending on where you live.

    Also, regarding the “fake social appreciation dance,” emphasize the “social,” not the fake, it is a ritual that helps maintain relationships and that is definitely not meaningless. I also think making dinner for someone instead of a gift is based on your own preferences, rather than theirs, and you’d probably like to be recognized for the care you do show rather than have them be upset that you didn’t get them something wrapped instead. There’s a bit of give and take on both sides here.

  22. WellRed*

    Thx to commenters last week for the weed smoking discussion. It’s helped me reframe somewhat. I live with a pot smoking roommate for the first time in years and she’s really ramped it up lately.

    1. Traci*

      Very good point. It’s something professional related that I saw on her LinkedIn profile. You’re right. I can easily nudge the conversation into her professional background and what attracted her to her current position. Convo would feel a lot more natural that way!

  23. YouTube recommendations?*

    My YouTube feed has gone haywire and I think I need to add some new channels to shake things up. What are your favorite YouTube channels?

    1. Jen*

      Bernadette Banner – sewing and clothing history
      Jill Bearup -analyzes fight scenes from a stage fighter perspective
      Binging with Babish – makes the food from movies/TV. Has branched out into more general cooking instruction.

      1. UKDancer*

        I love Bernadette Banner, her choice of language makes me laugh and even as a not sewing person I love hearing about what she’s been working on.

        I also like Reading the Past for history (very entertaining insights from an historian, mainly Tudor and Stuart).

        I like “They Got Away with Murder” and “Brief Case” for classic crime cases from the 20th century and before.

        I also like Emma Kenney’s true crime channel. I don’t always agree with her views but I do find her interesting to listen to. Her choice of crimes can run to the more graphic and detailed so perhaps not for the more squeamish.

      2. Pippa K*

        I love that this list gives the impression you’re working your way through YouTube alphabetically :-)

        1. Very Social*

          +1 to Bernadette and Tasting History! Also Morgan Donner if you like the historical sewing stuff!

    2. fposte*

      I like Baumgartner Restoration, watching paintings get restored as the restorer explains what he’s doing and why. Life in Yakutia is run by Marie, whom I find utterly charming, and who introduces viewers to life in the Russian Arctic. zefrank1 is gorgeous footage about different kinds of animal with informative yet highly comedic narration. I also subscribe to First We Feast but I only watch Hot Ones (“the interview show with hot questions and even hotter wings”), where celebrities eat wings with increasingly hotter sauce while they get some pretty detailed questions thrown at them and end up with some of their most spontaneous interview moments ever. (Plus it’s fun to see who is unexpectedly an absolute beast when it comes to hot sauce tolerance–who would have guessed Elizabeth Olsen, for instance?)

      1. Windchime*

        Seconding Baumgartner Restoration. It’s a great channel, I learn a lot, and it’s really well done technically. Others I like:

        Alexandra Gater
        The Sorry Girls
        Fresian Horses
        DIY Danie
        Tyler and Todd (two young men who are creating an off-grid homestead in Nova Scotia…..this one is really good)
        Cupcake Jemma
        Just Get it Done Quilts

        Lots of Canadian’s represented here. They seem to have a very strong You Tube game.

    3. Elle Woods*

      – Pasta Grannies: Italian grandmothers show you how to make a huge variety of pasta dishes
      – Postmodern Jukebox: musical group that reworks pop hits into different vintage genres, especially blues and jazz
      – Charlie Berens: because I love his Midwestern humor and relate to it 100% (except that I’m a Vikings fan, not a Packers fan)
      – The Small Things Blog: great for hair and makeup tutorials

    4. GoryDetails*

      I like Dr. Hope’s Sick Notes – he hasn’t posted as often lately, but I really enjoy his mix of “life at a hospital” and “a doctor’s commentary on the likely injuries suffered by movie characters in over-the-top fight scenes”. (Also his recaps of anime series “Cells at Work”!)

      Caitlin Doughty’s “Ask a Mortician” videos – there are historical ones about early funeral or embalming practices, modern ones about new options for burials, quirky ones including a recent post on books bound in human skin… OK, not for everyone, but I find her posts fascinating, often quite funny, and sometimes very touching.

      Cinema Therapy: a therapist and a film maker comment on the psychological issues of movie characters, with a mix of humor and in sight – and occasional goofy video-clips. They have a set on “heroes” and a compare/contrast on “villains”, including a Marvel-universe comparison of narcissistic characters – Loki-version and Ironman-version. Oh, and a really sweet look at “My Neighbor Totoro” as an example of exemplary family dynamics. The guys are affable and funny, and not afraid to get teary when talking about their favorite scenes.

    5. Bobina*

      Haute Le Mode (fashion critiques but with loads of analysis/context as well)
      Ancient Recipes (cooking ancient recipes)
      Dont Trust The Internet (basically one show, Julies Top 5 where they try to rank the Top 5 songs from an artist/album and it feels like fun debate with friends).

    6. Emma2*

      Such a good question! I am interested in seeing what others say.
      Some channels I like are:
      Brown Girl Reading (I find that Didi’s book recommendations generally work really well for me, she often highlights books I had not heard about elsewhere – and she has really disliked some of the same books as me, which was part of the reason I first started to follow her recommendations)
      Dr Octavia Cox – she is a professor who discusses literature, the largest proportion of her videos discuss Jane Austen’s work. I find her really enjoyable to listen to and she has added insights to my own reading of these novels (and I do love Jane Austen)

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Tasting History with Max Miller has become one of my favorites. He cooks and talks about historical dishes. He’s very funny too (he has a running gag about hardtack that cracks me up every time). He does a lot of research and gives interesting tidbits about ancient ingredients, etc.

      Somebody mentioned Baumgartner Restoration; I like that one too (and Julian’s voice is very ASMR).

    8. RussianInTexas*

      Legal Eagle for entertaining legal opinions.
      Good Mythical Morning for some silliness.
      Cold War for history.
      Doug DeMuro for entertaining car stuff.
      Stephen Colbert’s night show, it’s too late for me to watch IRL.
      Jill Bearup.
      Biograpics/Geographics/In to the Shadows, all hosted by the same host.
      The Take – examining various TV and movie tropes.
      Honest Trailer and Pitch Meeting – different channels, but both poke fun at movies.

    9. The Dogman*

      Forgotten Weapons. A very interesting delve by Ian (Gun Jesus) into various old, unusual, obsolete or just interesting guns and assorted ancillary weapons like bayonets and swords etc. He covers everything from mainline battlefield weapons to guns built into belts and watches, his channel covers almost anything that goes, or once went, BANG!

      I like the Channel4 8 out of 10 cats clip compilations, some are a bit rude for some folks, but usually very funny.

      Anything with Guy Martin, Fred Dibnah, Jack Hargreaves for info on mechanisms and the UK countryside.

      Bondi Rescue, full episodes on the official Youtube channel.

      AprilWilkerson has a some great carpentry stuff.

    10. Turtle Dove*

      travelers and adventurers:
      Beau Miles – an Australian who thoughtfully creates his own wacky adventures
      Kinging It – a Welsh couple and their converted bus named Custard
      Downie Live – a Canadian train lover with loads of positivity and enthusiasm

      cooking shows:
      Pro Home Cooks – a home cook who makes cooking feel approachable
      Kitchen Sanctuary – another home cook who inspires me
      Great Canadian Baking Show

      I’ll second Stephen Colbert’s shows, and I’ll add my all-time favorite: The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson. What an intelligent, funny man he is! The Jayleno Fly channel has bunches of his old shows.

    11. WoodswomanWrites*

      My favorite channel is Friesian Horses. It’s run by a woman in the Netherlands who shares day to day life at a breeding farm for a beautiful breed of black horse, the Friesian. She typically posts five days a week and I’ve been watching every time there’s a new post for several years. For anyone who is interested in human-animal behavior, it’s great to see how kind the people are, and how friendly and happy the horses are to interact. And it’s just a lovely, relaxing escape.

      And when I just need a blast of something funny, I rewatch this YouTube video: “Cyclists chased by an ostrich. The funniest thing you’ll see today.”

    12. Beagles Bark A Lot*

      Cecilia Blomdahl about living on Svalbard with her boyfriend and dog
      James Hoffmann all about coffee that even non-coffee drinkers find interesting. Watch his video on the Brad Pitt coffee maker commercial

    13. RagingADHD*

      Tom Scott, Smarter Every Day, How to Cook That, Absolute History, Adam Savage’s Tested, Last Week Tonight and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah are all great.

      I probably spend more time watching uploads of UK game shows and talk shows though, no specific channel on those.

    14. Suprisingly ADHD*

      Townsends – Lots of 18th century cooking
      Dylan Hollis – Recreates old recipes. Mostly reposts his TikTok vids but has a couple of long-form videos specifically for youtube.
      How To Cook That – Ann Reardon is a chef, baker, food scientist, she makes amazing cakes, tests “hacks” from viral videos, and crazy kitchen gadgets, and advocates for dangerous DIY vids to be removed.
      Lockpicking Lawyer – He picks locks, especially padlocks. Repetitive and soothing.
      zefrank1 – True Facts about various animals, silly and often NSFW but nothing untrue
      Kurzgesagt (In a Nutshell) – Animated explanations for complicated science, especially space and health
      jablinskigames – Jack Black’s channel. Some vlogs, some silly sketches, and his early videos included his kids and actual computer and physical games.

      And the “mad scientist” side of Youtube:
      Cody’s Lab – Things like “recovering platinum from roadside dust” and “hey check out this old mine on my property” plus gardening and other random stuff about chemicals and metals.
      NileRed – He built his own lab and experiments with chemicals. Fascinating but not very rigorous.
      NightHawkInLight – Dangerous experiments with electricity and fire, but detailed warnings and safety instructions.
      PhotonicInduction – He blows up electronics by overloading them. He’s an expert, with serious equipment. Recently back from a hiatus but posts sporadiacally.
      Stuff Made Here – Builds robots and codes the programming to do things like paint a giant mural, make a bow that can’t miss the target, or carve foam with a chainsaw. Few videos but worth watching.

    15. Might Be Spam*

      See Jane Drill is one of my favorites. She’s a carpenter and has the knack of explaining things well. She covers a lot of different crafts besides woodworking and explains tools and products and how/when to use them.

    16. Same old me*

      my current favorites

      emmymade : she tries different recipes
      sheepishly me : Sandi Brock sheep farmer in Canada, love the new lambs
      The sheep game : sheep farmer in Scotland, beautiful scenery
      transcend furniture: giving new life to old furniture

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Li Ziqi who does food & culture demos in Sichuan Province, China.
      Andy Philips, woodturner
      Kittosaurus
      And all sorts of street food vendors.

    18. I take tea*

      For feelgood:
      The Dodo (rescued animals, warning, sometimes distressing pictures of neglect)
      The Owlkitty (short clips of classic movies with inserted cat, really well done)
      Shirley Şerban (a New Zealander who does songs with new lyrics, she began with Covid but has since made other themes too)

      Interesting:
      Broken Window Theory (urban explorers, really quite fascinating. The videos are in English, though you hear them speak German sometimes, but it’s all subtitled)
      Passion of the Nerd (interesting analysis of Buffy and Angel and some other series)

      1. Anima*

        Oooh, I forgot Broken Window Theory! These guys are from my dad’s hometown, they do speak German but do subtitles well (that’s really what they say).

    19. Anima*

      Seconding Bernadette Banner. Also Cathy Hay, although she has a thing with her voice (I believe there is a video about that) and her voice is not everyones cup of tea.
      Ready for some wholesome weirdness? Rachel Maksy! Crafting content that is funny, and she has a dog and a cat who make appearances sometimes.
      I also like Tom Scott, the original channel, short bits about wonderful things around Europe.
      Tim Traveller is seriously underrated, it’s Tom Scott but better, also pay attention to the music here!
      Jago Hazard – makes “Tales from the Tube” meaning the London Tube and much much more, it’s not only trains but also infrastructure. Even if you are not into trains, ist interesting to watch. Also, fine British humor.
      MemorySeekers, also totally underrated. The production value of those videos is insane. Good cinematography, nice audio. It’s about landmarks, mostly in the UK and like virtual tours.
      Rare Earth – just watch it, it’s amazing! Video essays about humans and human life all over the world. Had a big break the last two years but is back better than ever.
      Total weirdness? Map Men/Jay Foreman! It’s bonkers and so funny!
      If you like animals, Clint’s Reptiles and Snake Discovery, but there will be gross things like the vinegaroon, so be warned. (It’s my cup of tea, I like to keep animals with too many legs a pets, but it’s not everyones cup of tea.)
      If you want to widen your horizon further Beyond Ghibli – yes it’s about anime, but mostly art in relation to human life and also rather video essays than anime rating.
      Oh wow, I watch a lot of YouTube! Seems YouTube has been my panini saver, ha.

      1. Anima*

        Forgot Cari Cakez, she makes Seoul vlogs. Nice cafés, cute dogs and and occasionally a cake made in a rice cooker. Cari also has a book channel, Cari can read, but I don’t watch it always, too much young adult fiction.

    20. StellaBella*

      I have a few:
      SUNDAY MORNING JAZZ: Sunny Jazz & Bossa Nova to Chill
      A new one I found on Umbria Italy life Colina in Umbria
      Cafe Music BGM channel
      Monterey Bay Aquarium
      RSA (Uniting people and ideas)
      Acid Jazz Records

    21. Frally*

      I love Aurikateriina- she’s a young Finnish lady who cleans depressed people’s apartments for free. These places are filthy and absolutely full of garbage, but she loves it. She’s so sweet and upbeat, a genuinely kind person. And I’ve gotten some good cleaning tips from her, she really knows her stuff.

      YouTube suggested another Finnish vlogger: Emmi La. She shows her life in Finland. No talking, just subtitles and calming music. Very enjoyable.

  24. Elle Woods*

    – Pasta Grannies: Italian grandmothers show you how to make a huge variety of pasta dishes
    – Postmodern Jukebox: musical group that reworks pop hits into different vintage genres, especially blues and jazz
    – Charlie Berens: because I love his Midwestern humor and relate to it 100% (except that I’m a Vikings fan, not a Packers fan)
    – The Small Things Blog: great for hair and makeup tutorials

  25. goldengrove*

    I know that part of living with roommates involves dealing with other people’s annoying habits, and I’ve had my fair share of roommates who won’t do the dishes/leave hair in the shower/etc., and I’m normally okay with having the awkward conversation about keeping common areas clean. But my current roommate (a subletter who started in December) is taking this to another level.

    Our kitchen table and coffee table are covered in rings from spilled beverages (I literally never use coasters, but I’ve also never left behind so many marks!). This morning I stepped in what I’m hoping was peanut butter that was left on the floor overnight. I am constantly finding puddles of spilled food/beverages that just… haven’t been wiped up. There have been times that I have deep-cleaned the kitchen only to find it covered in food and clutter again within hours (how???). Our bathroom surfaces are constantly covered in assorted toothpaste/soap stains, and there are towels stained with menstrual blood (we’re both women; I know accidents happen; but we also have in-unit laundry so… why????).

    When I tried to have a “We should probably clean the apartment” conversation, she agreed, and then I watched her take a paper towel, wet it with water, and wipe down the toilet and sink without any cleaning products. She was surprised that I wanted to sweep the kitchen floor. I am just truly flabbergasted — this isn’t just someone who is messier than I would prefer, I legitimately think she somehow made it to nearly 30 without understanding how cleaning works (I get the sense that she’s from a fairly well-off family, but so am I and I still understand the concept of soap!).

    I’ll be moving out when our lease is up in June because I am truly at my limit. But in the meantime, I don’t even know how to begin to address this. This isn’t just, “Hey, can you please make an effort to do your dishes within 24 hours so they don’t pile up.” How do you tell a grown adult “If you spill something, please wipe it up” and “can I please teach you how to use Clorox”?

    1. Reba*

      I mean, I think you can say those things and it sounds like you need to! Like, she agrees with cleaning but needs that follow up, “so, ‘cleaning’ means…” I wonder if you could gently but firmly bring it up again and say something like, “look, this is awkward and I don’t want to come off like I’m nagging you, but I’ve noticed that you don’t seem to know how to use the cleaning products we have or how often those tasks should be done. I’d like to just get things more clear between us about the frequency and type of cleaning we need to do. Spills should be picked up immediately or they just get worse (examples).” And show her some of the basics? “When we notice it’s time to clean the bathroom we should use X product on a sponge for the sink/counter, and Y product which is a spray” etc. etc.

      Maybe share some old Ask A Clean Person columns? Make a chore schedule?

      IDK it is perplexing, but if you tried to have this conversation, at least you would be doing all her future roommates a favor.

    2. Purt's Peas*

      How about a conversation like this: “I’m kind of worried about this conversation, because it feels like I’m about to be rude, but I’m really uncomfortable with the spilled food and drinks around the apartment. Like here, and here. I’m worried about bugs, and it’s making me feel unhappy in our shared space. I’m happy to show you the cleaning products I use, but definitely at a minimum I’d like you to wipe up spills as soon as they happen and to sweep the floor after doing stuff with food.”

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      As someone who likes a clean space but is cleaning averse, I feel both of you. (I consider myself messy but not filthy – there is a difference!) But she sounds truly awful. And this sounds like a difficult conversation. I recommend my old friend, the to-do list. A detailed one, listing the room & each task associated with it. But I don’t understand how she’s creating so much mess in such a short period of time. Is she really a set of clones? Time warp?

      1. goldengrove*

        The quick mess mostly comes from attempting elaborate cooking/baking feats and then just… not wiping up when flour ends up all over the counter and some of the batter drips onto the stove.

    4. Charlotte Lucas*

      Also, thank you! I was trying to get myself motivated to get around to some of the chores I need to do around the apartment, & this helps!

    5. Generic Name*

      Maybe give her a tub of Clorox wipes and say, “here, use these. I find these are easier to clean with.”

    6. Not A Manager*

      The easy way is to suggest hiring cleaning help on some schedule that you can both afford, and splitting the cost. It will make the next 5 months much more bearable.

      The harder way is to shift the burden onto her. Literally make a list of cleaning chores that need to be performed and when, with a breakdown of what that means. Tell her that she either needs to do those chores reliably, or she needs to hire someone to do them.

      I vote for the first option because I am conflict-averse, but if necessary I would do the second one. Of course if she won’t cooperate you will have a huffy roommate and a dirty home, so you’d need to be prepared to basically abandon the common areas after that and just live in your bedroom.

      1. UKDancer*

        I would definitely recommend having a cleaner if you can afford it. Mine significantly improves the happiness of my life overall. I just have to do a bit of light cleaning and tidying in between her visits and I have the joy of a clean place. I realise this may not be financially viable but if it is I’d definitely recommend it.

      2. Anon in IL*

        Another vote for a cleaner, as a former messy person who has shared living space with other messy people. Even if she wants to change, a tidiness habit takes a long time. You can have a conversation, but if she is only there until June, I don’t know how much progress you will see. Or you could offer to do the cleaning yourself if she pays you.

        1. TinaTurner*

          I once had two roommates and was sure which one left garbage in the sink. But neither would admit it. It’s hard to deal with denial like that.

      3. goldengrove*

        I wish a regular cleaning service was in the budget, but there’s a reason I’m still living with roommates. I am planning to hire one on a one-time basis before I move out, because I want my security deposit back!

    7. Bumblebeee*

      I judge your roommate. Unfortunately I don’t know if anything you say will make a large difference. She might clean a spill or two when prompted; but she sounds like she’s just not in the habit of cleaning up after herself and likely won’t do it unless constantly nagged. And even then she probably won’t clean to an acceptable standard because she seems clueless. There isn’t really a good solution here beyond moving out because you’ll either be cleaning up after her or monitoring her cleaning on a daily basis. Not sure which is the less unpleasant option for you.

      I would be tempted to resort to mild forms of violence as this would drive me crazy. This is why parents need to make their kids to chores.

    8. MJ*

      I recently came across the blog “a slob comes clean . com” (remove spaces) where the blogger (“Nony”) explains that she just *doesn’t see* messes that normal people do. She has learned that some routines absolutely have to be done every day – whether or not she’s in the mood – in order to keep her home out of chaos.

      Something that might help your situation – Nony did detailed checklists when she started teaching her children to clean bathrooms. They go through step by step exactly what needs to be done. I think she has a bunch of info on how to teach children to clean.

      I would approach your roommate with a “We obviously have different cleaning styles, can I show you what I need you to do so I’m comfortable in our home?” attitude rather than “I can’t believe you’re comfortable living in a pigsty.” Approaching her collaboratively is more likely to get her to listen without getting her back up.

      As unbelievable as it may seem to you, if no one has ever shown her how to clean properly she might not realize it’s an issue. Or she may be embarrassed about being clueless and not want to ask for help.

      I know you said there is no budget for a cleaner right now, so I will highly recommend factoring this into future share rentals budgets if possible. It causes so much less resentment when you know your home will be clean on a regular basis! (Though it is also better when everyone does at least a minimal wiping up after themselves.)

      I hope you can get your roommate to improve a bit so your next few months aren’t unbearable.

    9. SofiaDeo*

      I had a horrible roommate once. I would walk in the door through 4-6 sorta empty beer cans with cigarette butts in them, because she was incapable of carrying the can back into the kitchen with her.

      What finally helped was first warning her, then following through, on dumping any large messes on her bed. If Imhad to move something before I could cook, or use the bathroom, or walked through something, if I had to physically move it, it got moved onto her bed. Since she rarely made it, this meant she had to do some sort of cleanup before sleeping. It took mmm 2 weeks? for her to FINALLY realize she wasn’t the only person living there, that it was a shared space.

      Although my current partner has a lot of “I never learned to do this as a child, and am resisting learning it/doing it as an adult, regardless of consequences.” He came from a “full time housekeeper, never had to do any chores At All” background. So IDK if what worked with my “more normal, taught responsibility” former roomie will work with yours, if they are more like my current partner.

    10. Chuck*

      I’ve been the tidy housemate in every share I’ve lived in and I wish you the best of luck in this endeavour. Saying “we should clean” is far too passive, if you want them to clean tell them directly.
      In our case we made a Google document of every imaginable chore broken down in detail, divided the house into zones/chore groupings and asked our housemate if there were any chores he couldn’t or wouldn’t do and excluded that from his rotation. You could also try having the cleaning supplies set up for your housemate eg, asking them to mop after you vacuum and having mop, bucket and cleaning solution ready to go. You could assign chores based on preference like if someone hates scrubbing toilets but doesn’t mind vacuuming their go-to job is vacuuming. You could prioritise chores by what absolutely has to be done and give your housemate lower priority chores.
      In case none of that works, my advice is to maintain your own room as an oasis and resign yourself to doing whatever other housework needs to be done to prevent the house from sliding into filth. Maybe see if there are any other options to get out earlier like finding someone to take over your part of the lease

  26. Travel FYI*

    Just a heads up to anyone flying into the USA in the near future. Please consider a laboratory covid test seven or eight days before the date you want to fly to the US.

    To fly to the USA, my airline is requiring a doctor’s medical clearance letter dated six days after an Official Laboratory positive covid test. Then a ticket can be booked for the next day. A doctor’s date of diagnosis based on symptoms and a diy home test was not acceptable to establish a start of quarantine date. (It makes sense, but I didn’t find the Offical Laboratory Test Date requirement on the airline website or 800# so I just had an unpleasant surprise. )

    FAQS – Travel due to complicated family situation from a rural area with limited local medical testing laboratories. (Hence the home tests.) Vacine, 10+ days past unofficial start date and symptom free. Stuck, but not stranded in a bad situation.

    1. Miki*

      What airline is it?
      I’m flying Lufthansa in the summer (code share with United) but haven’t seen any specific demands about testing yet.
      I hope you and the family are feeling better.

      1. Travel FYI*

        My experience was not with either of those. I don’t want to ‘bash’ anyone here, so I wont be saying anymore about which airline it is.

        Hopefully you will be negative the at the time (and always) and won’t need to worry about the medical clearance letter at all.

        Thank you. We have been fortunate.

    2. Tali*

      That’s an unusual requirement. Last I heard from the US embassy you needed a negative PCR test 24 hours before your flight departure (with complications like if you fly from Country A to Country B and then to the US, it needs to be 24 hours of your departure from Country B).

      I also heard that you need proof of vaccination if you are not a US citizen. I am not sure how they are enforcing anything at the ticket purchase stage, however.

      Hope you can get where you need to go soon!

  27. Teapot Translator*

    What’s everyone reading?
    I read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers this week and now I’m finishing up Excellent Women by Barbara Pym. There’s something I don’t get about Excellent Women (the Wikipedia article says it’s supposed to be funny). I don’t find it funny, but I’m enjoying reading it, so it feels like I’m missing something.

    1. fposte*

      It’s been a long time since I’ve read Barbara Pym, but I found her very quietly funny, in that it’s the turns of phrase and sharp observations about the kinds of people her characters are that makes the humor. She’s been likened to Jane Austen because of this. A line I remember decades later is a genteel woman horrified that someone suggested solving a problem (dealing with a leak, maybe?) by using a bucket, and her thought is “Really, did one look the sort of person who would have a bucket?”

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Ok, that is funny!
        I am enjoying reading the book, but I can see I wouldn’t have enjoyed it in the 20s. I will definitely check her other books.

      2. Emily*

        I wasn’t aware of Barbara Pym, but this description is making me want to give her books a try! I love getting unexpected book recommendations from AAM readers.

        I’ve found that for me, some works are more obviously funny (like Shakespeare, or Jane Austen) when they’re read out loud or performed. I saw more comedy in Pride and Prejudice after watching the BBC miniseries.

        1. fposte*

          I may have asked this before when I was contemplating doing this, but anybody had any experience with digitizing the family photos? I’m going to at least try to do them at home, so there’s going to be a two-scanner approach–one the fast feeder, another the flatbed for glued-in album pages. The hardware has been a bit of a saga in its own right, since there are unmentioned accessories that need to be bought and apparently flatbed makers gave up on Macs several OSes ago. But it should be together next week, if I’m lucky, and I’ll start with the side of the still-living nonagenarian aunts and uncles so they can see the old stuff ASAP. But with the fast scanner it almost seems easier just to run all the photos through and sort them digitally rather than to curate 5% or whatever out pre-scan. Anybody have a thought about that?

    2. GoryDetails*

      Several books in progress, as usual, including:

      THE READERS’ ROOM by Antoin Lauraine (translated from the original French): about a woman who works at a publishing company where the manuscript-readers discovered an amazing new talent – but the author of the discovery is reclusive at best, and possibly sinister. Very quirky book so far, lots of humorous bits about the publishing industry, with hints as to what’s going on re the manuscript and its mysterious author – and the copycat crimes that may have been inspired by the manuscript.

      BEHIND THE MASK: a speculative-fiction anthology themed on superheroes and supervillains, with contributors including Seanan McGuire. I like seeing different spins on the masked-crusader/mad-scientist tropes.

      PENGUIN GENTLEMEN by Kishi Ueno: This one’s a manga with a quirky premise – a host club run by penguins masquerading as handsome men. So far it’s as much a treatise on different varieties of penguins and their traits as it is on the business proper; will find out whether there’s an actual plot as I read on!

      JAM by Yahtzee Croshaw: this is a re-listen of the audiobook, narrated by Croshaw himself. It’s a dark-comedy/horror novel about a swarm of flesh-devouring strawberry jam that demolishes Brisbane, with a handful of survivors attempting to avoid being consumed. Lots of humor here, especially regarding the “how would you behave in a science-fiction apocalypse” issues; one character’s eager to lead the charge into starting a new post-jam-pocalypse world, another is insistent that it’s a local phenomenon and they should wait for rescue, a third goes along with whoever he’s talked to last, a fourth wants to document everything at all costs… and then there are the mysterious Americans, giving their names only as X and Y, who clearly know more than they’re telling. [Oh, and Mary, the Goliath Bird-eater spider!]

    3. Charlotte Lucas*

      I like Pym, but her other books are funnier (that’s just considered her best). Assume a wry sense of humor, though. More thoughtful than laugh out loud.

      If you like Pym, I recommend E. M. Delafield’s Provincial Lady series, starting with Diary of a Provincial Lady. They’re fictional, but based on her life.

      I’m reading Murder at Teal’s Pond, about the unsolved mystery that inspired Twin Peaks.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          But it did take me forever to realize that “inappropriate articles of bedroom ware” in 1929 was a reference to chamber pots, which older houses like hers would still have.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! The book is available at the library so I’ll pick it up tomorrow. And I will definitely try other books by Barbara Pym. I do enjoy her writing.

    4. Turtle Dove*

      Like you, I didn’t find Excellent Women funny, but I did enjoy it. Maybe it reflected the humor of that era; it was first published in 70 years ago.

      I’m reading the second book in the Joe Gunther series by Archer Mayor. I really enjoyed Open Season, the first one. I’ve also been rereading my favorite Dick Francis books.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Just finished “Yolk” by Mary H. K. Choi, it was good but I didn’t enjoy it as much as “Permanent Record.” The MC makes a lot of choices that are so self-destructive it’s difficult to read at times.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I just recently finished Matthew Reilly’s Jack West series, which is sort of Indiana Jones, if he brought his whole family and all his friends along, saving the world? I don’t know how to describe it, but they were very much the kind of thing that Dan Brown was aiming for (puzzles, conspiracy theories, history/antiquities, one guy against the Establishment) and didn’t manage. I really enjoyed the series.

      Currently I’m on a biography of Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine (which is also the title of the book), and that’s fascinating.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Finished the last Murderbot book. I adore Murderbot, a highly lethal android who hacks its governor module, pretends everything is normal, and spends its time watching the Netflix back catalogue interspersed with needing to rescue the humans around it. Fast paced, unusual protagonist.

      Rereading the second Scholomance novel.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I’m patiently waiting for the first Murderbot to become available at my library. I have plenty to keep me occupied in the meantime, but I am looking forward to discovering this series.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          It’s lovely. And while each story is self-contained*, I was glad I read them in order. The first four novellas form a connected narrative, with a full adventure in one location with separate cast for each.

          * I really hate reading a book that builds up to “And with the cave collapsing around them… tune in a few years from now when the sequel comes out!”

    8. E. Chauvelin*

      I’m reading Dolphin House by Audrey Shulman when I have easy access to my home desktop, where the protected e-galley lives, and The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker when I don’t, both very good. I completely failed to realize that I’d already read another one of Audrey Shulman’s books several years ago when I requested the e-galley.

    9. Jackalope*

      I’m in the middle of multiple books right now. I’m almost done with The Menopause Manifesto by Jen Gunter; I strongly recommend it for anyone coming up on or in the middle of the menopause transition (I’m in my early 40s so still have awhile to go but it’s nice to have an idea about what will be coming up).

      I also finished Courtney Milan’s Once Upon a Marquess last night (something of a bad life choice; I should have known that, “I’ll just start this book an hour before bedtime, I’m sure I’ll be able to put it down and go to sleep,” was me lying to myself!), and had fun with it. It’s the first book of a series of hers that I haven’t read yet, and I was glad to be able to start it up. (Plus, I’d previously read a short story about this book’s main character’s best friend, and the main character from this book made some appearances that were somewhat cryptic to me. I went back and reread that story [now hours after my bedtime] and enjoyed understanding them for the first time.)

      Lastly (or at least I’ll leave it here for now), I’ve been reading Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys quartet, and I finished book 3 this week. I have book 4 and haven’t started it yet but I’m planning to… early next week, perhaps? I love this series and I enjoy her writing, but I find it’s not the kind I can binge read even when I’m truly adoring it. The characters are all so quirky and real, and I like them all. Even the obnoxious ones like Ronan, whom I pretty thoroughly disliked at the beginning.

    10. Emma2*

      I am reading Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body by Rebekah Taussig. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I cannot recall the last book I read written by a person with a disability (have I read any? I remember reading Jean Little’s works as a child, but cannot think of anything since then). I am finding the book interesting and engaging, and there are definitely moments that make me stop and think about how I might act and respond in a situation.

      1. Bluebell*

        Read Golem Girl – excellent autobiography by a disabled artist. I liked sitting pretty too, but Golem Girl was fantastic.

        1. Emma2*

          Thank you! Golem Girl was not on my radar, but I just looked it up and it looks really interesting. I have added it to my TBR list.

          1. Bluebell*

            Also- it’s fiction, but I just finished How Lucky by Will Leitch and it was terrific. Main character has SMA and is in a wheelchair.

    11. My Brain Is Exploding*

      Jazz by Toni Morrison. I received four of her books for Christmas. Her prose has a style that has taken me a bit to get used to, but she’s drawing me in and teaching me.

    12. the cat's ass*

      Pym can be sort of … austere. One of her contemporaries, the late great Mary Wesley is tons more accessible and is great fun. Her biography (“Wild Mary”) is also great reading.

    13. LadyHouseOfLove*

      I’m reading Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison. I fell in love with her worldbuilding skills in the Goblin Emperor. She did an equally amazing job with this paranormal universe where Sherlock Holmes is an angel and where angels can cause a nuclear blast when they Fall.

    14. Sparkly Librarian*

      Once Upon a River, by Diane Setterfield
      I needed something “Gothic” for a reading challenge — in this story, the looming thing isn’t a house, but the Thames. There’s an eerie cast over it — an unnamed child who doesn’t speak and might belong to one of a number of families who have lost a child, pre-telephonic age spreading news via word of mouth and newspaper advertisement.

      Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All, by Laura Ruby
      Haven’t finished this one. It’s a ghost story, apparently (narrator is revealed to be dead very early on), set at least in the beginning in a city orphanage during the early 1940s.

      The Growing Summer, by Noel Streatfeild
      One of those charming midcentury novels of plucky British children left to their own devices, with shades of E. Nesbit. I appreciated that this one called out a lot of “mother’s work” that was largely (expected to be) invisible, such as how going on a “caravan holiday” meant that Mother did all the same cooking and cleaning work, only with more bother and less familiar surroundings, rather than being able to relax and have fun. When the kids were left alone in the house, they had to work out laundry and shopping and cooking and washing up between them.

      Duma Key, by Stephen King
      I’m a big Stephen King fan, and this is a big Stephen King book. I realized partway through that I’d never read this one! I think I must have skimmed or started it and never finished, because only the first chapter seemed vaguely familiar. Definitely some creepy points, but it mostly explored the relationships of characters, significance of (geographical) place, and how the narrator handled recovery from an arm amputation and traumatic brain injury. It could also have fit the Gothic category.

      The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′ 4″, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian, by W. Kamau Bell
      I couldn’t get through the first full chapter. The whole introduction seemed like he assumed everyone wanted to know how he got to where he is… but I don’t know any of his work. I picked up the book because he’s a local author, the title was amusing, and I thought a comedian’s memoir would be funny. If you’re not already a Bell fan, I recommend Samantha Irby’s We Are never Meeting in Real Life instead.

      Birdie and Me, by J. M. M. Nuanez
      Middle-grade fiction about siblings finding family support. Big sis Jack looks out for her little brother Birdie, whose fabulous sense of style is not appreciated by his classmates or teacher. Recently orphaned, they bounce between uncles who aren’t much like their mother and either don’t connect with them or can’t handle the responsibility of raising kids.

      The Kitchen Front, by Jennifer Ryan
      For fans of Home Fires, Land Girls, or Wartime Kitchen and Garden: a well-researched novel that pits four English women of varying circumstance against each other in a cooking contest that could change the winner’s life. A war widow with three sons, her estranged sister whose well-to-do marriage is strained, a timid kitchen maid (and the cook she sees as a mother figure), and a chef evacuated from London are all jumbled together in a WWII slice of life.

      Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers: The Definitive Anthology of Space Opera, edited by Bryan Thomas Schmidt
      Another slot in the reading challenge is “space opera”. I’d planned to re-read some of the Honor Harrington series, but came across David Weber’s short story in this anthology while putting those on hold. Short story collections can be hit-or-miss, but at least the boring ones are over soon. Still working my way through and enjoying it.

    15. Slinky*

      Grotesque by Natsuo Kirino. Kirino is a great writer but tends to focus on the darker side of humanity. This book is no exception. I’m also reading Surviving a Borderline Parent at my therapist’s recommendation. It has been enlightening.

    16. Noxalas*

      Shady Hollow by Juneau Black. A cozy murder mystery set in a small woodland community populated by anthropomorphic animals. The main character is a fox named Vera Vixen who works in an old-fashioned newsroom, and a big portion of the town is employed by the local beaver lumber magnate. It was quick and light.

    17. Good Golly Miss Molly*

      I received a copy of The Green Rider by Kristen Britain for Christmas. It the first book in a series. It is fantasy and I’m enjoying it so far.

    18. Jamie Starr*

      Just finished “The Electric Hotel.” It uses the history of film, starting with the Lumiere brothers, as a framework. I thought it was kind of boring.

      I’m about half way through “Songbirds” (Christy Lefteri), which I’m enjoying so far.

    19. Double A*

      Barbara Pym is one of my favorites! She’s not like laugh out loud funny, but she is humorous in an observational way. My favorite thing about her is that she writes about everyday people who don’t do anything exciting. I actually was introduced to her in college and loved her in my 20s. I’ve read almost all her books; my favorite is Quartet in Autumn. That one is more melancholy than most of hers, but it’s so lovely.

      Also I loved that Becky Chambers series; I’m waiting on the last book from my library. The next book in the series, A Closed and Common Orbit, is my favorite so far.

      I just finished Klara and the Sun, and it was lovely.

      I’m finishing up Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson; I read most of it a few months ago but the ebook for yoinked before I finished so I just got it again. It’s nice to read a book with a vision of how humans could realistically deal with climate change.

      I’m also re-reading Middlemarch; I’m reading it on between other books or when I’m waiting on library books. I’ve read it enough times I can dip in and out, but even so often times I just want to keep going! It gets more compelling every time I read it.

    20. Marion Ravenwood*

      The Windsor Knot – essentially the Queen investigates a murder at Windsor Castle. It’s not quite as light as I was expecting and the humour is perhaps slightly more wry, but I am enjoying it so far.