weekend open thread – Jan. 28-29, 2023

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: L.A. Weather, by María Amparo Escandón. A Mexican-Jewish family in Los Angeles tries to navigate secrets, divorce, money, and guilt.

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

{ 961 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion — think dinner party or office break room — and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Please share what you’re reading this week, as well as any recs you want to give or receive.

    I just started the book Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo. I’m enjoying it so far although I’m discovering that I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened in book 1.

    1. sewsandreads*

      I’m about to start The Duchess by Wendy Holden — not sure what to expect but reviews looked relatively positive!

    2. Dovasary Balitang*

      I’ve been trying to find a copy of Hell Bent since it released, I’m envious! (Buy it online, you say? Ridiculous shipping costs, I say!)

      I’ve been reading Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans. The world building starts off a bit rough but it’s careening right into great characters and probably one of my favourite romances in literature. I don’t know how I keep unsuspectingly buying gay fantasy, but I’m so chuffed.

      1. KathyG*

        Try the public library, I say! You may still have to wait a while, but it’s the best bargain around.

        1. Donkey Hotey*

          I am 1000% pro-library. And at the same time, they have 21 copies and 116 holds. At the standard loan, it’ll be June.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I finished “Perfect Little World” by Kevin Wilson and I’m still not sure how I feel about it! I found it really unsettling but I think it was mostly trying to be wholesome? It didn’t really end up where I expected.

      1. AGD*

        This is how I felt about “The House in the Cerulean Sea.” I can tell it was intended to be sweet and profound and say a lot of things about prejudice from a novel angle. I really wanted to like it, but I mostly walked away feeling unnerved.

    4. ButtonUp*

      I just finished Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller (of radiolab/invisibilia) and I enjoyed it so much! I’m surprised it didn’t get more attention when it came out a few years ago. Well I listened to the audiobook actually which may have added to the enjoyment since the author usually makes radio pieces.

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I’ve had a lot of DNF books lately. It was quite discouraging. Finally ended up reading The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall. It was enjoyable!

      1. PhyllisB*

        I’ve had several DNF in the last couple of years. I used to ALWAYS finish books even if I didn’t like them, but I finally realized that life’s too short, and there’s too many good books to read. Of course, I don’t buy my books as a rule; I usually get them from the library or go to a thrift store to buy. If I was paying for new books I would feel differently.

        1. Teapot Translator*

          These are all library books. I love my library. I go there once week because I borrow and put holds on too many books.

    6. Filosofickle*

      Today I finished The Lace Reader. I liked a lot about it and wanted to keep reading, but not sure what I thought of the ending.

    7. Rosyglasses*

      Starting a bookstagram means I have to keep up on my reading, but also means my TBR list is getting unmanageably long!

      Right now I am reading:
      – Dinners With Ruth by Nina Totenberg (about RBG and other justices in the courts)

      – The Kingdom of Gods by NK Jemisin (sci-fi /fantasy)

      – Book 13 in the Bruno Chief of Police series

      – Just finished Ms Demeanor for some lighter reading; a fun lark about a NYC lawyer who gets caught having sex on the roof of her building and during house arrest starts a cooking blog and meets up with other neighbors and ends up falling in love, with hijinks ensuing when the lady across the street who reported her died suddenly.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Rosyglasses, who is the author of this book? I remember seeing a writeup in Goodreads when it came out and thought it sounded fun, but forgot to write it down.

      2. takeachip*

        I just finished Ms Demeanor this week! My first Elinor Lipman. I really enjoyed it and am now eager to sample more of her work. Have you read other novels by her that you would recommend next?

        1. Bluebell*

          Hmmm – after a while, the Elinor Lipman books blend together. I really liked The Inn at Lake Devine. Her first book, And Then She Found Me, is quite good.

    8. Office Gamer*

      I recently finished Tony, It took a village by Judy Brandon Gilley. its a quick read and the first book in an unfinished but in progress series. No shame, the author is my grandma and its published on amazon.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      I just started The Spare Man by Kowal for my book club. Haven’t decided yet if I like it or not. It’s supposedly Nick & Nora Charles on a spaceship. It doesn’t hit me as nearly so witty, but maybe it gets better. Or maybe that just isn’t an apt comparison.

      Having zipped through Into the West by Mercedes Lackey (waaahh, I want more!), I went back and reread the first Valdemar trilogy, Arrows of the Queen, and have started the Last Herald Mage trilogy. Both are available in omnibus volumes on Kindle cheaper than the original paperbacks totaled.

      And I finished listening to the 8th volume of Drew Hayes’ series about Fred the Vampire Accountant.

      My current audiobook (driving, knitting and exercise) is Agent of Change by Lee & Miller. It’s old, the first volume in the Liaden Universe, and I just discovered it was available from Audible.

    10. Melody Pond*

      I just finished Jade City by Fonda Lee, and immediately tore into the sequel, Jade War. Jade City was phenomenal, great urban fantasy, clan warfare type of story.

      I also recently finished Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, that was another five star read.

    11. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I have two books on the go.

      1) After She’s Gone by Camilla Grebe. So far, a very well constructed Scandinavian thriller with satisfyingly complex characters, and a mystery that’s proving tough to guess at. I hope it won’t disappoint as I get closer to the end.

      2) Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan. A very relatable nonfiction book written by a shy introvert who tries to step out of her comfort zone. She’s managing to convince me that some of the “extroverting” things she’s tried to make new friends can’t be that bad and that’s stuff I needed to hear.

    12. Camelid coordinator*

      I had the same issue, about a chapter into Hell Bent I decided to re-read Ninth House before going any further. I was glad to find it on kindle unlimited.

      Yesterday I finished up Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen and was surprised by how much it moved me. I loved the combination of coming of age story and magical realism. I choked up in the grocery store parking lot thinking about it afterwards!

    13. fposte*

      I’m trying to weed by prioritizing the books that were given to me in the work years when I couldn’t pleasure read. So this week I finally got to Helen MacDonald’s H Is for Hawk, which was fabulous, and now a friend and I are planning to go falconing (there’s apparently a place not far from her where you can pay for a couple of hours of training).

    14. Richard Hershberger*

      I am going through a Claire North phase. She is one of my favorite current writers. Ithaca, a retelling from Penelope’s perspective, was terrific, and the follow-up, House of Odysseus, is coming out next fall. In the meantime, I re-read the Games House trilogy of novellas.

    15. PhyllisB*

      Just finished A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I loved it!! Don’t know why I waited so long to read it.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        It took me a couple of tries to get into that one, but then I loved it. See below for what I just read this week, that reminded me of this one a great deal.

    16. germank106*

      I was laid up with some weird stomach bug this past week (not Covid) so I ended up finishing three books.
      “My friend Anna” by Rachel DeLoache Williams. A true account of the russian/german con artist and how she took people for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      “Lioness of Morocco” (german title “Die Loewin von Mogador”) by Julia Droste. I try to branch out from historical novels but I came across this one and it looked too good to pass up. Set in the mid 19th century it tells the story of a young english woman travels to Morocco with her husband and ends up building an empire.

      “City of Likes” by Jenny Mollen. A talented but unemployed copy writer finds herself a bit in a crisis after moving to New York with her family. Somewhat accidentally she becomes an Influencer and has to examine what is real, what is not and where to draw the line.

      I made the decision to branch out from my usual historical novels/suspense last year and always love coming here for recommendations. I still can’t get into Fantasy/Sci-Fi though.

      1. Bluebell*

        If you liked City of Likes, Wildcat also deals with the Influencer topic. I didn’t love it, but I haven’t read City of Likes. I think both were recommended by Maris Kreizman, who reviews books.

    17. Bluebell*

      Earlier this week I read When We Were Sisters by Fatimah Asghar. Three orphaned sisters are put in the care of an uncle who is only doing it for the money. Very sad, but some beautiful language. Balanced that with The Marriage Game by Sara Desai and From the Jump by Lacie Waldon. Next up is The Survivalists by Kashana McCauley.

      1. Ally*

        Oh I recently read half of When We Were Sisters in a library waiting for a bus and was super said to have to put it down and leave!! Great characters

    18. GoryDetails*

      Lots of nonfiction just now, including:

      THE NOVEL OF THE CENTURY by David Bellos, about Hugo’s classic novel “Les Misérables” from its inception through its many screen adaptations to the international blockbuster musical.

      POTTED HISTORY by Catherine Horwood, a history of “how houseplants took over our homes”, with some entertaining quotes from 17th and 18th-century letters and documents.

      STRANGE BEDFELLOWS by Ina Park, subtitled “Adventures in the Science, History, and Surprising Secrets of STDs” – interesting mix of history, science, and medicine, with touches of humor as well. [Fans of Mary Roach’s books might enjoy this one; the bit where Park’s kids are fighting over who gets possession of the giant-microbe plush toys of a syphilis bacterium is very funny indeed.]

      And the best of these so far, SWEAT by Bill Hayes, another of his marvelous biographies-of-things. In this case, exercise (with a section on the composition and function of literal sweat). So far it includes some truly delightful bits about his visits with rare-books librarians and archivists in New York, France, and Italy – in the latter, a by-appointment-only jaunt to a palazzo on Isola Bella to see the original drawings that illustrated a 16th-century book about exercise.

      In fiction, I’m nearing the end of the audiobook version of Dickens’ DOMBEY AND SON – and was pleased to find a charming example of a character coping with romantic disappointment and the dramatic reappearance of a rival in love with exceedingly good grace; he admits that his emotions are troublesome, bids a mannerly farewell to the people involved, and suggests to the trusted friend of everyone involved that for his own peace of mind he thinks it would be best if he could avoid meeting the romantic rival for a little while. Quite refreshing to see a fictional character coping without any melodrama, grand gestures, or painful scenes!

    19. English Rose*

      I’ve nearly finished Earthly Delights, the first book in the Corinna Chapman series by Kerry Greenwood (also of Miss Fisher). Pretty sure someone here recommended it last week, so thanks, enjoying it a lot. Will definitely be continuing with the series.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Oh, you’ve got some reals treats ahead in that series!
        Maybe I should reread them… Like I don’t have a couple dozen unread ebooks waiting.

    20. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Still reading The Red Scholars Wake. I’ve never seen a space scavenger x ship romance before.

    21. The OG Sleepless*

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt! If it hadn’t been set in America, I would have sworn it was by Frederik Backman; it reminded me of his writing. Lovely, satisfying story.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I belong to a group on Facebook (Women Reading Great Books if you want to join.) I’ve been seeing mixed reviews about this book. Of course, I’m one who likes to make up her own mind, so I plan to see if it’s at the library yet.

    22. Invisible fish*

      Andrea Penrose’s Wrexford and Sloane series- “realistic” mysteries set in late 1800s UK- very calm and thorough. I was surprised that I liked the first one enough that I was irritated there was a wait for the second novel in the series! (They’re realistic in that it’s murder for money, etc., not psychological things…)

      And on the psychological things side, the The Children’s Home series by Yrsa Sigurdardottir- I was again irritated that I’d have to wait on the next book in the series! :)

    23. DataGirl*

      Re-reading Moonheart by Charles de Lint. First time I read it was in college so 25ish years ago, and it was very impactful back then, but I’ve forgotten so much. I really like de Lint’s writing, it has a very artistic, ethereal feel.

    24. Polyhymnia*

      Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones. Feels like a lyrical combo of Goethe and Henson’s Labyrinth – I’m halfway through, not sure what I think yet I’m very interested to see where she takes this!

    25. Sigrid says Hey*

      I’ve recently finished a blitz reread of Sharon Shinn’s 13th House series and her Elemental Blessings series.
      Currently half way through My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

      1. Jackalope*

        The 12 Houses series is one of my all-time favorite series. I love the friendship between the characters and the ways in which she develops the world. And I too just finished rereading the Elemental Blessings series.

    26. Stephivist*

      I’m listening to Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World by Ann Stanley and absolutely loving it. I picked this one for nonfiction book challenge I’m doing this year. The prompt was to read a “book about a culture that is not your own.”

      I’m reading Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Science fiction is not my thing, but I’m really enjoying this one. My husband picked it out for me (and in exchange, I get to pick one for him).

    27. Girasol*

      I’m on March by Geraldine Brooks. It’s about the experiences of the father in Little Women in his chaplaincy in the Civil War. It’s quite good, though I wonder if a modern Black reader would view the interpretation of slavery in the eyes of a fictional young Connecticut man traveling the south from a different perspective.

    28. Other Meredith*

      I’m currently rereading Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, which is the 3rd book in the Graceling Realm series, because I discovered last year that she had written 2 more books! I really thought Bitterblue was the last of a trilogy when I first read it 10 years ago. I’m enjoying it a ton.

    29. Elle*

      I just started Less by Andrew Sean Greer. It’s a hoot so far. It’s what I needed after reading Leave the World Behind. I did not like that one at all.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        Working on Truckers by Terry Pratchett, somehow missed this YA series of his. My turn just came up at the library for The Comfort Book byMatt Haig which is up next.

        Just found out there’s going to be a new Murderbot book in November, can’t wait! I’ll probably start rereading them next while I’m waiting…

    30. nobadcats*

      I just binged the first three books of the Crone series by Lydia Hawke. Funny, full of myths, and scary in bits. It is nice to have an older main character too. The first book is called “Becoming Crone” and starts on Claire’s 60th birthday.

      I sent the author, who is a twitter friend of mine, a DM as I finished the third book, “What? August?! I have to wait til AUGUST for the final book?!”

    31. Not My Money*

      I’ve been reading a lot of hard science books and while some of them are really great (like Meteorite by Tim Gregory), others are just a slog. I’m not a science/math whiz but I can usually understand the basics of what’s being discussed – some of them are just… I don’t think a textbook would be that dry. I have a hard time putting down a book I don’t enjoy though and it makes it difficult to get through the pile. Anyone else try to push through a book you’re not enjoying? I’m trying to unlearn that habit.

      1. allathian*

        The older I get the higher my DNF book pile grows. I used to force myself to read stuff that I didn’t enjoy, but I don’t have the patience for that anymore. I’m a fast reader, so I’ll usually give every book 50 or 100 pages, but if it hasn’t grabbed me by then, I’ll stop reading and put it back on my TBR pile where it’ll stay indefinitely until I put it back on the shelf if it’s my husband’s book, give it away if it’s mine, or give it back half read if it belongs to my sister or my parents.

      2. Donkey Hotey*

        Last year, i only finished one book out of spite (Fan Fiction: a mem-noir by Brent Spiner). As the previous commenter said, the older i get, the more books i give up on. The difference is that i read at a glacially slow pace. Same rule though: 50 pages max. Life is too short to read bad books.

    32. Ali + Nino*

      The memoir, An African in Greenland. Which is somehow classified as “African-American” at my library, despite the fact that the author hasn’t set foot in North or South America. Maybe before the book ends…?

    33. Sparkly Librarian*

      This year I am aiming to read all of my TBR list, so threads like this are bitterwsweet — I am always finding good ideas, but it makes the list longer!

      I heartily recommend In Love by Amy Bloom, which is a memoir about her husband Brian’s early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis and his decision to end his life in Geneva (where assisted suicide is legal). Yes, it’s an intense subject. Yes, it’s sad. But it’s a beautiful snapshot of their love, and it prompts big questions about quality of life, when it’s time to call it quits, and the political/religious/social barriers surrounding that. What do you want to leave as your legacy? How might you cope if you get a terminal diagnosis? How would you go on if your life partner died? If you knew in advance the day of your death… what would you do now? What would you do that day? I found it fascinating.

    34. Ally*

      I just started “the evenings” by Gerard Rêve- I am in a new city and struggling to meet people, there is a book club next week which covers this book, and so far it’s pretty funny!

      Also one of the newer “Ladies’ Number 1 detective Agency” books- “The handsome man’s deluxe cafe”, I love this series so much. So charming and sweet but also very true to human nature.

    35. Ata*

      I just read The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison this week at the recommendation of the comments section in response to the LW who wanted books with characters to emulate at work (great question and thread by the way). I LOVED IT! Such a cool world and such a nice book. I think 2 people recommended it and I’m really glad they did. One note though – for what the original LW is asking for, I think the side character Csevet (absolute fav) is the best choice to emulate. I love Maia to death as a main character, but since my constant impulse is to give him a hug and make him take a nap I don’t think his persona is really what LW was looking for lol.

    36. Donkey Hotey*

      Currently reading The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon. Absolutely devouring it. Chabon’s prose is so rich and chewy, I’m reading slower to savor it all.

      Also struggling to finish Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty. Great premise but feels… Thin.

  3. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Please share any games you’ve been playing this week. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I played Mage Knight with a friend this week. It had been awhile and so I was a bit confused on how to play (and she’d never played it at all). I was glad to pick it up again, but seriously – I think the person who created the game decided at every turn when making a decision about the rules that they were going to be run by the motto, “What rule will lead to the maximum number of pieces possible?” So. Many. Pieces.

    1. Dovasary Balitang*

      I bought Persona 3 for the PS5. The portable version is probably my least favourite release of the game but I’ll take anything I can get. It’s very addicting, even with how much the gameplay and cutscenes have been ripped out. I will always love this weird, dark game.

    2. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

      FFXIV with the husband. Trying to finish making the endgame gear, but it’s So. Much. Grinding.

      Also, we’re having my students (senior design team) over for board games tomorrow so that should be interesting!

    3. Casper Lives*

      I played Boss Monster this week for the first time! It was a fun throwback to early Zelda-style dungeon games.

    4. Office Gamer*

      My gf and I just finished Stray on the ps5 today. we are also playing through the fallout games on my xbox. I just watched the trailer for forza motorsport 8 and i am very hyped for it.

    5. Porch Screens*

      Still plugging away on Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous and Spiritfarer! I’m really enjoying the contrast between the two games, actually – high stakes action & adventure vs. cozy chill errand-running and exploration. Might even double-dip and pick Spiritfarer up on Steam at some point because I like the game *that* much.

      1. Bookgarden*

        I get it! I got Spiritfarer through PS Plus Extra subscription a few weeks ago, but I’m thinking of buying it for the Switch because it’s sooooo good.

    6. Bookgarden*

      Okay, everyone this week so far is playing games I absolutely love.

      I’m hoping to finish up Midnight Suns this weekend. I’m also playing lots of Spiritfarer as well. I hope to play some more Death Standing and FFXIV as well soon.

      Also looking into the new Dead Space remake. I heard a rumour that they basically turned it into a Metroidvania which turned my interest up to 11. Polygon says it has optional content warnings and filters, which I am really curious about as I don’t really want to see graphic content every single time I have to restart.

      1. bookwisp*

        I loved Spiritfarer though it did make me cry. The characters really feel like fleshed out people.

        1. MEH Squared*

          I am loving all the love for Spiritfarer! It’s one of my favorite cozy games of all time. I agree that the characters felt fleshed out and I identified so much (probably too much) with Gwen, the deer. This game will always hold a special place in my heart.

          1. Saddesklunch*

            Thank you to everyone in this thread who talked about spiritfarer – I bought it on steam today and I absolutely love it!

    7. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Grinding bonds and business in Like A Dragon, torn between wanting to take my time and Do All The Things and wanting to move the plot along so I’ll finish before Ishin drops. I just saw the trailer with the cooking minigame and I cannot WAIT

    8. Don'tbeadork*

      I’ve gotten sucked into Disney’s Dreamlight Valley. No violence to speak of, tons of fetch quests and oddly compelling.

      And for contrast, a bit of Gloomhaven.

    9. The Dude Abides*

      Decided to take another crack at Diablo Immortal, and Christ on a cracker I love it. Got a Barb up to Paragon last night, and trying to grind up some better armor before taking a run at the endgame – I can do plenty of damage, but I can’t stay alive long enough.

      Magic – picked up some retro DMR foils, but still have a laundry list to pick up at some point (I have a list of 20+ cards I want the retro foil version of, and will need 3-4 copies of most).

    10. bookwisp*

      Finally completed my dex in Pokémon Violet so I have been shiny hunting this week. I generally throw on a podcast and get to grinding when I have free time.

    11. MEH Squared*

      I’m alternating between Nioh 2 (so so hard) and Scholar of the First Sin (Dark Souls II), the latter is along with other members of a Discord I belong to. We’re doing a Return to Drangleic, and I am trying to do a full hexer this time. We’ll see how long that lasts as I’m nearing the area where I can pick up my beloved pyro flame.

      It’s really hard to switch back and forth between the two buttons schemae. Nioh 2 is my challenging game and SotFS is my comfort game. I need both!

    12. epizeugma*

      I played a few hours of Immortality (2022 interactive film/mystery game) with friends and very much enjoyed it. Went in knowing nothing about the plot or game mechanics and it was really fun to figure out. Hoping to finish it next week!

    13. Generic Name*

      I learned how to play cribbage. Well sort of. I played a game, but the directions were repeatedly read. Lol

      1. Bart*

        My partner and I joined a cribbage league. We are the only pair who is new to doubles and new to a league. Most have done it for decades. Despite our needing to have things explained we are enjoying it and winning more than losing (so far). Cribbage is so fun and a great way to meet new intense people!

    14. Free Meerkats*

      I finally decided to play the latest WoW iteration, Dragonflight. Made it to level 60 fairly quickly, so off to the new content. Initially I found the new flying mechanics a royal pain, but I’m getting the hang of it. What I really want from Bilzzard is a set of flight instruments: artificial horizon would be nice, but really need an airspeed indicator and VSI.

  4. sewsandreads*

    Crafting thread! What’s everyone making?

    I’m finishing off a Freya Quilt and have dug back into my old hand sewn quilt project for some quiet evenings. Tbh, the hand sewing part is only because I want to make a constellation quilt and I know I’ve got to get the hexies done first!

    1. Not Australian*

      Still working on the Christmas Dinosaur quilts (a pair) for Project Linus: now on my fourth and last stegosaurus, with two triceratops left to do … and then the assembly phase. I had hoped to finish by the end of January but then got sideswiped by the flu and spent a lot of time in bed, so realistically mid-February looks more likely now. These are all hand sewn btw.

    2. Llellayena*

      I’m giving away a baby quilt today that I just finished the binding on yesterday! Fortunately baby quilts are not as time consuming as wedding quilts or the kid would graduate high school before I finished…

    3. Lifelong student*

      Making crochet chemo caps. Our local fiber group picks charities to make things for. I have 4 done so far this month.

    4. A Becky*

      I’m making steady progress on my Needlessly Ambitious Applique quilt for baby #2!

      The theme is “coral reef”, I’ve got the rocks and seaweed on as well as 2 fish and 3 seahorses. Still to go are four fish, two squid and a crab. It’s looking good, I’m pleased with it :)

    5. English Rose*

      I’m trying my hand at creating junk journals. There’s something so satisfying about finding a constructive use for all those pieces of paper, old books and ephemora that I’ve never been able to part with.
      Also, at the very start of my career many years ago, I was a legal secretary in the UK. Back then we actually hand-sewed legal documents together with red tape – hence the phrase – and the technique was very similar to sewing the signatures (groups of pages) into a journal. So that’s a fun trip down memory lane.

    6. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m still working on my cardigan test knit. I’m working on a section that’s just mindless garter stitch, and then I still need to do the sleeves and button band.

    7. DataGirl*

      Working on a crochet afghan for my dad. Periodically sewing clothes for my baby nieces. I made them dinosaur dresses and pajama pants the last couple weeks.

    8. Past Lurker*

      Baby blanket (crochet) and scarf to donate (knit.) My goal was to make one scarf per month this year so I could donate 12 in December but I’m already behind. I’ll still try to make as many as possible.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      I’m on the final repeat of my hooded scarf, finally. I have never frogged and ripped back so much in my life!

    10. Just Another Cog*

      I am getting ready to bind off (?-not sure if that’s what it’s called) my very first knitted piece! I used very large circular needles and chunky wool yarn. It went so fast once I got the hang of it. I had to pause and back up the YouTube video dozens of times, but I feel pretty good that I was able to get it this far. There are a few dropped stitches, but I will still wear it! I have been wanting to learn how to knit for the longest time. It was very relaxing once I got past the 6 rows of k1p1 for the ribbing.

  5. Elaner*

    Fostering thread! Anyone have any recommended readings for prospective teen foster parents? We’re getting started on our agency classes soon, but would like to make sure we have more view points and sources of information. Thanks!!

    1. Blythe*

      I will think about this— I read a few books, but none were that helpful in the end. They also contradicted each other (one advised absolutely consistency while another advised spontaneity, etc). The BEST thing for me was connecting with other foster parents— I definitely recommend looking for groups in your area!

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yay to fostering teens! When we were just getting started, I had a lot of trouble finding books about fostering that (a) focused on teens rather than younger kids and (b) weren’t religious. I found the info online more helpful. The advice I got that I think has served us well so far: Read everything you can find on trauma; parenting kids from trauma is different and you can’t use the same strategies. Look for information on TBRI; it’s a way of parenting kids from trauma that focuses on connection.

      One thing I found early on that I really appreciated was a blog by a woman fostering and later adopting a teenager in LA — it goes on for years and you can read all the posts in chronological order. The first one is here; as you finish each, scroll to the bottom and click on Newer Post and you can read it all in order. Some is heartbreaking. She’s an excellent writer. She starts out a bit naive in some ways (like everyone) but she has great insights, which develop as she goes. (I will say that it begins with some very weird events that apparently LA hosts to connect potential foster parents with foster kids that made me feel very icky — and bear no resemblance to anything I’ve encountered — but if you can get past that, it gets really interesting.)

      And I second the recommendation to connect with other foster parents. They will get it like no one else does and can be fantastic resources for advice and support (both practical and emotional). Your agency may be able to connect you.

      1. crookedglasses*

        A somewhat adjacent follow up – I’d love to hear recommendations for resources on learning about trauma and how to be trauma-informed. It’s something that’s been on my mind but “trauma” just feels like such a vast and daunting topic, I’m not even sure where to start with it.

        1. Saddesklunch*

          I really like Robyn Gobbel’s stuff – she has a podcast and lots of online resources for parenting kids with trauma histories. Also definitely seconding Alison’s recommendation of TBRI

        2. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          My entire life framework is Somatic Internal Family Systems.

          It is for big T trauma, little t trauma, and non-traumas. It is the most incredible approach I’ve ever found to life. Basically how you have roles within families (people pleaser, troublemaker, workaholic) except for your inner landscape (many of the same roles as in families! Plus inner critic, exiled child, and infinite possibility of others) The goal is to identify their needs and fears, and connect them to nourishment and meet those needs via an internal Self. Uses imagery as a user interface for your inner state like a keyboard/phone icons are an interface for the binary code in your computer or phone.

          There are some really good books and podcasts, and you could start with an audiobook called No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz.

          In addition, I have everything Suzanne Scurlock-Durana has ever published (also on audiobook) – getting back in your body, connecting to the earth or water or whatever feels most nourishing to you, and using that to nourish each of your cells. She then applies it to eating, to the brain, to everything you can think of. It is mind-blowing. The meditations are incredible and she has dozens of them.

          Sarah Peyton’s Resonant Language – omg. Basically the difference between empathy/compassion (good but insufficient) and precision resonance – naming/asking about the need (‘do you really want to be heard right now?’ ‘Do you need someone to acknowledge just how angry you are/how bad that was/how relieved you feel’) and then affirming it (‘of course you feel that way! Makes perfect sense’) as opposed to well intentioned but mis-attuned comforting (‘it will be okay’) if reassurance that it will be okay is not what they need, but they needed permission to be angry (for example).

          My Grandmother’s Hands by Resmaa Menakem. Racism through a somatic experiencing and intergenerational trauma lens. Holy moly. He says the USA will never heal from racism without a somatic approach, considering how it affects us in our bodies, and he is SO right. This is an intense book precisely because he makes you do the somatic experiencing exercises (how does your body react to various people) as you go, you can’t just read past and do them later, they’re an integral element of each new piece of knowledge. How racial trauma is stored in all of our bodies. It looks at racism from (and then proposes healing work for) black bodies, white bodies, and police bodies. 11/10.

      2. Sloanicota*

        Wow, reading this the process of matching is … so strange? I didn’t realize how much goes into it. I wonder how the matching works in other jurisdictions.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          As far as I can figure out from reading her blog, she was working with a local nonprofit that held those events for potential families and kids to meet each other. That’s not typical at all! (And I think it’s a good thing that that’s not common; there’s no way those kids weren’t aware they were being sized up by adults “shopping” for kids, and then in most cases getting rejected.)

          Generally what happens is they match kids and homes based on who’s available who will take that age group (and that set of behaviors if there are behavioral issues, which there often are because trauma). If it’s babies or little kids, they’ll usually have more than one home to choose from, and then they’ll pick based on things like location (proximity to family is a plus, keeping them in the same school district is a plus), other kids in the home (some kids do better with other kids in the home, some do worse), foster parents’ schedules (for example, for a child with lots of medical needs, they might prefer a home with a stay-at-home-parent ). From what I’ve seen, it’s rare that they can match based on much more than that (like personality types, interests, etc.) although it’s great when they can. With teens, they usually won’t have as many choices and it’s often based on nothing more than finding the one home that says yes to the kid; we were paired with a teenager last year where we were literally the only home in the state that said yes, and that’s not unusual with teenagers.

          With emergency placements, there’s no meeting ahead of time; you say yes and a social worker brings the kids to you and you’re meeting each other the day they move in. With non-emergency placements, when they have the luxury of more time, they’ll try to do a meeting or two ahead of time so you’re not complete strangers to each other (sometimes over Zoom if that’s the only option), but it’s common for there to be no time to do that.

    3. Social Worker*

      Oooh, I’m a therapist and TBRI Practitioner, and it warms my heart to see this discussion here! There is a podcast about TBRI, and it has a couple episodes specifically about TBRI and teens, though a lot of the episodes would be relevant to teens. I second that Robyn Gobbel’s work is amazing. For books, I’d suggest Dan Siegel’s Brainstorm and Katie Malinski’s How to Talk to Your Teen About Anything. They are not specifically about foster care but are trauma-informed and very relevant to parenting youth in foster care. Also if you are open to accepting transracial placements, please seek information about needs in transracial placements and how to support your child’s racial identity. Unfortunately this type of education is something a lot of agencies are very bad at, but it’s so important.

    4. Annie Edison*

      There’s an account on instagram called fostertheteens that has a lot of good info. She has a bunch of recommendations for books on trauma informed parenting and ideas for working with teens if you look at the links in her bio

    5. Jackalope*

      I have a related question. One of the things I’ve heard from foster parents of littles is that they often get taken away and bounced around, and I’ve heard that that happens less with teens. Does that ring true with what everyone else has experienced?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It doesn’t align with what I’ve seen! Teens get moved around a lot too, often because the homes they’re in decide they can’t handle them (even just because of normal teen behavior) and put in their notice (basically kicking them out) and they are often in and out of group homes (which are generally awful, but used a lot because there aren’t enough homes for teenagers in foster care). The goal for kids who can’t go back to family is what the system calls “permanency,” meaning adoption or a long-term home where they’re not moved, but a lot of kids never find that and are moved a bunch and then age out with no support. From what I’ve seen in the past year, the system is practically designed to set them up to fail; the stuff that’s allegedly supposed to help doesn’t and very often makes things worse. It’s an absolute tragedy and really infuriating. (And if we put the amount of money we spend on the foster system into services for struggling families in the first place, a lot of kids could remain with family and would have much better outcomes.)

        1. Anon for this comment*

          IMO, the resource issues with state agencies will never go away because it’s not politically popular to actually allocate and dedicate the resources necessary.

          Whether it’s resources for foster parents, caseworkers, or back office support, it just isn’t there and isn’t coming any time soon. The legislators in a position to actually do something care fuck all about what is actually needed and are more focused on either currying votes or taking potshots at the other side.

          Source – I work for Illinois DCFS. A simple google search will show you how much of a dumpster fire it is

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I totally agree. It won’t happen because the political will isn’t there to do it and god forbid we increase benefits to poor people, despite what problems it would solve.

            1. Anon for this comment*

              IMO, the number one issue is the churn of caseworkers. In Illinois, half are gone within two years. They’re overworked, underpaid, and the systems in place are incredibly arcane – in our trust system (I oversee the unit that manages SS benefits and child support for eligible youth), if I request a check or a historical report, I don’t get anything until *the next day*.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I definitely agree that’s a huge issue … but even aside from that, the system is terrible for kids who get stuck in it. I have the greatest caseworker in the world (I truly love her) and she is hamstrung by rules and policies that are clearly making kids’ situations worse and she doesn’t have the power to change that.

                The thing that I’m really struggling with lately is that there’s a bunch of research showing that kids have better outcomes (better mental health, less chance of being homeless adults, less likely to become pregnant as teenagers, far less likely to end up in the justice system, far more likely to hold a job) when they remain with family, in all but the most severe cases of abuse. If the government is taking kids away from their families, you’d expect it would be to move them to a situation that would actually improve their lives in the long-term. But it doesn’t! The current system makes their outcomes worse. The whole thing needs to be torn down and rebuilt from scratch (but will not be…).

                1. BadCultureFIt*

                  This is the thinking behind Lumos, the nonprofit that JK Rowling started (before she was terfy). Their goal is to end the existence of orphanages worldwide by redirecting funds and training into families and communities so that children can remain with family.

                  HBO had a documentary about them a few years ago for anyone who’s interested — Finding the Way Home.

        2. Anonymous cat*

          Could you give an example of something intended to help but makes it worse? (Real question, I have no personal knowledge of this.)

          But systems practically designed to fail are so heartbreaking!

          1. Anon for this comment*

            I will share my experience – as I alluded to in a different comment, I manage a unit that manages SS benefits for eligible youth.

            Most caseworkers for youth receiving survivor benefits do not realize that we are receiving funds on their behalf that can be spent on their behalf.

            When a youth ages out at 18, if they leave DCFS care entirely, then we remit those funds back to SSA. If the balance is significant, I will reach out to the caseworker to let them know that the youth needs to contact SSA about getting that money.

            I’ve lost track of the number of conversation I have had with caseworkers and parents about the funds and stories I’ve heard about what could have been done with the money had they known it was there to be spent on behalf of the youth. I’ve authorized several dozen checks in the range of $10-40k going back to SSA once youth leave care.

              1. Anon for this comment*

                I’ve been trying to correct this as much as I can from the inside – any time I have a breakthrough moment with a CW or a supervisor, I stress that if they ever have questions on this subject, I ain’t hard to find.

              2. Anon for this comment*

                I’ve been trying to correct this as much as I can from the inside – any time I have a breakthrough moment with a CW or a supervisor, I stress that if they ever have questions on this subject, I ain’t hard to find.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Here’s one example. If your own biological child struggled with self-harm as a coping mechanism, with no suicidal intent, you probably would not institutionalize them. You’d lock up the knives and other sharp things, you’d have them in intensive therapy, and you’d try to look for ways to support them that allowed them to safely stay at home (assuming you and their therapist agreed that was in their best interests). You would probably not take them to the ER every time they engaged in mild self-harm (like, say, scratching themselves with an object but not causing real injury).

            If you have a foster child in that situation, you would be legally required to take them to the ER every time it happens (even if it were relatively mild, like the example above). After a certain number of ER visits, the bureaucracy in charge will decide the number of ER visits — which they themselves required — indicates that the child should be in a residential care facility … where they will be essentially warehoused, with terrible effects on their mental health (in part because a secure, stable attachment with an adult who cares about them is key to kids’ mental health, which is why we want to put them with a family in the first place). This will happen even if their therapist says remaining at home is in their best interests, because the legal liability for the agency is too high otherwise (that’s also why you were required to take them to the ER every single time; if something happens, they don’t want to be blamed for telling you that you didn’t have to seek medical care). So now the kid is institutionalized even though their care team believes it will be harmful to them — the rules require it. And so this kid who was already facing so many challenges now has to deal with institutionalization on top of everything else (and the lack of the secure, stable connections of living in a family).

            That’s not setting kids up to succeed. It’s just covering someone’s ass legally.

    6. Sparkle llama*

      When a friend of mine did foster care I asked the worker for book recommendations for me as someone who would be supporting the family. She recommended Bruce Perry’s books (boy raised by dogs and born to love) which were an excellent introduction to trauma.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        I’m not a foster care but I come from trauma myself and am a teacher.
        Bruce Perry has stuff online too, he’s very approachable to read and I appreciate his commitment to understand kids and their needs instead of forcing them.
        And he warns of unhelpful/dangerous stuff like holding therapy.
        Maybe a good idea to familiarize oneself with less than helpful approaches, so you can fend them off for your teen.
        All the best for your journey!

  6. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

    I have a hair question. I have hair that is either frizzy or oily, but never in between unless it’s damp. It’s moderately wavy-minimally curly, and I’ve worn it waist length for years until recently (layered, shoulder-length cut), as it’s started thinning (due to hormones). During the pandemic, I tried to go with the Curly Girl method, and do still to some extent, but my hair is frizzy within a day and it’s driving me nuts. Any ideas?
    Additional notes:
    1) I don’t use heat; I don’t own a curling iron or a blow dryer.
    2) I can’t stand looking at myself in the mirror, and I’m terrible at creating a morning routine (or any routine!), so I’m particularly fond of products I can put on once/day and just let be.
    3) I use a really light conditioner, and a sulfate-free shampoo
    4) I’m not set on wearing my curly, necessarily, but I do need some volume because it’s thin up top.
    5) I’ve used both mousse and gel; gel is typically too heavy, and mousse is fine until the 1-1.5 day mark, and then everything is just…. dry. Putting more on seems to make matters worse.
    6) I’d be most likely to stick with solutions that don’t cost much more than a standard shampoo/conditioner/product.
    7) I don’t have split ends, really; I only comb my hair with my fingers in the shower.

    1. Anon for Bras*

      Do you use a conditioner before putting in mousse? It sounds like we have similar hair types.

      I condition only (shampoo once / month), put in two pumps of shea moisturizer going from ends up to roots, put in mousse, and twist.

      On day 2-3 when frizz starts, I spritz with water to dampen. Then I add either a sprayed moisturizer or liquid serum and retwist. It works most of the time.

      1. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

        I do use a conditioner beforehand. I can’t use conditioner only, or I get the dreaded oily frizz, and my hair gets impossibly limp, hence the shampoo. Granted, if I’m wearing my hair curly, I can go 5-7 days without washing, but straight it’s only about 3 before I have to do something.

        When you say you twist, what does that entail?

        Also, when I spray my hair with water, it just… sits there, unless I smooth it in, which introduces stringiness. If I scrunch it, it gets really frizzy. And either way, when it dries in 2-3 hours, it’s frizzy again. I’m really wondering if the twisting is key here!

        1. Anon for Bras*

          Unfortunately, everyone’s curly hair is different! It took me a long time to find what was best for my fine, thin, mix of 2C/3A hair.

          This is the twisting technique. I’ve got hair slightly past shoulder length so I don’t have issues with the curls weighing down. With your hair length, you’ll want to make sure you lift your hair overhead to twist on top. I air dry but I can get tighter curls if I twist & diffuser dry.

          I hope this helps! https://youtu.be/MbQ_Kt8_xFg

        2. Anon for Bras*

          I said mousse above but I actually switched to curl crème a while ago. Mousse made my hair crunchy.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I definitely marvel at people who suggest mousse or gel but also don’t shower with shampoo. My hair looks good for one wearing with these products, but it’s definitely going to read as dirty the next day if I don’t wash those products out. Leave-in condition I can do.

    2. AY*

      Have you experimented with leave-in conditioner at all? Hair care for curly hair is just a lot of trial and error!

      1. Rosie*

        Towel drying, scrunching, then putting in regular conditioner (to leave in) was the magic combo for my frizzy mess of hair to become lightly curly!

        1. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

          I wonder if I should apply additional conditioner after I squeeze the dropping water out. Because i usually do it before.

      2. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

        I do use a leave- in conditioner. I’ve found one that’s light weight enough not to drag things down, but I’m kind of wondering if it’s too light weight.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Instead of mousse or gel, I bet a leave-in light conditioner or spray would work better, as well as twisting your hair. (Literally just twist strands as it dries.) if you have a stylist you trust maybe ask them for a product rec.

    4. Emma*

      Have you tried refreshing your hair on a non wash day? I use a continuous spray spray bottle (Pattern makes a nice one that you can get at Target), and fill it with 1/3 conditioner, 2/3 water (the ratio recommended by JVN on queer eye). I give everything a spritz and scrunch it a few times. It kinda reawakens the gel. I use kinky curl knot today for the conditioner, which is my regular one.

      1. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

        That’s the conditioner I use! I’ve tried to refresh but I always seems to make things worse. I was also using a curl creme from Love Beauty and Planet but it wasn’t on the shelf the last time I tried to buy it.

      2. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        I’ve been looking for a fine spray mist bottle. I just ordered the Pattern one at Target and can’t wait to try it. Thanks for the recommendation.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I think we have some similarities; I have to do low poo because even though I only need to wash once a week with low poo, because it’s greasy otherwise, I can’t use heavy conditioners or products without getting weighed down hair, yet my frizzy hair seems to crave some kind of heavy balm. I particularly struggle with frizz in humidity and it’s been humid in Britain since, ooh October. Nevertheless I do have some tricks up my sleeve. I think it’s really relevant that water sits on your hair – it seems to me to be very hydrophobic and I know that my hair is particularly unhappy and will frizz out looking for moisture unless it’s had a good long drink. There are a few ways to do this: 1) sometimes I braid my hair wet and let it dry like that (the tension of a braid prevents frizz tendrils just like twisting does and it slows down the rate of your hair drying so your hair can drink), 2) squish to condish: this method involves tipping your conditioner covered head upside down and squishing handfuls of water into your conditioner instead of just rinsing it out. Somehow the conditioner gets more and more diluted and more absorbed into the hair along with the water. You can get away with richer conditioners this way because they don’t just sit on top being greasy any more. I do follow by rinsing it all off, but YMMV. I can’t always be bothered, but it’s better when I do this. 3) Emulsify your products with water to thin them out and increase hydration. I struggle with most leave on products being too heavy or dry, but the closest consistency I’ve found is Umberto Gianni’s curl friends jelly. It’s very light and mixes well with water. If I apply it when my hair is dripping wet, then I can lock in some water and prevent frizzing. 3) Smooth some oil into wet hair and wrap a hot towel around it to increase your hair’s hydration from time to time.

      1. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

        I do “squish to condish” with my leave-in, but I’ve not really done the same thing with my rinse-out conditioner. I do let it sit (in a shower cap) while I shower. I’m going to look at twisting because with my layers a braid starts looking like a bristle brush and I don’t like the look of my hair after braiding; I lose all volume up top and the combination is reminiscent of a cocker spaniel.

    6. E*

      Try a silk pillowcase! (Or a head wrap /bonnet but I couldn’t find one that worked for me). Hair gets much less frizzy /tangly after sleep. They say it also helps distribute oil better – not sure there’s any real evidence for that but my hair has been able to stretch a lot longer between washes lately (but that could also be finally getting used to washing less)

      Use a light conditioner to keep it moisturizer but not heavy. Don’t put conditioner on scalp, only bottom half of hair so it doesn’t weigh hair down.

      Maybe try a less drying shampoo too?

    7. Sloanicota*

      Your hair sounds a lot like mine. Thin, curly, and frizzy. It’s not the most common combination so a lot of classic “curly” products are too heavy for us. I have best luck with leave-in conditioners or even oil applied generously to the ends of my hair, where it’s the driest (never the top), and then “scrunching” with spray gel. I also wonder how on earth I can possibly be breaking it when I don’t use heat, don’t brush, don’t even towel it vigorously, sigh. I think just wearing it in a ponytail may be enough to damage it.

    8. PhyllisB*

      I don’t have curly hair, but my daughter who used to be a hair stylist says the best thing you can do is find a stylist who knows how to cut/care for curly hair. She says when you find one, ask her for tips on care. She said if you’re not sure how to locate one, if you see someone with curly hair that looks good, ask them who does their hair.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do agree it’s just as likely to be a cut problem as a styling product problem. My hair is thin and I prefer it at least shoulder-length but I acknowledge it would probably be healthier-looking in a shorter cut. I just can’t be bothered to go back so often and I usually dislike the result … it’s an unfortunate combination of my face shape and my hair type, for me.

    9. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Top 4 things that have improved my curly hair over the years:

      1) No shampoo, ever. Instead, once or twice a week I deep condition with a silicone-free conditioner. Most days I let it get damp in the shower and gently comb out afterward.

      2) Silky-satiny headwrap at night. Satin pillow or laying a silk or satin scarf over the pillow doesn’t seem to be enough, and tends to give me acne, anyway.

      3) Frequent maintenance haircuts on the ends, even if it’s just a tiny bit once per month. The more I let the gnarly ends build up, the worse my hair appears. The hairs get caught up with each other at the ends and won’t lay flat and slide by each other, as straighter hair will. (It seems to me that straighter hair is more tolerant of less frequent haircuts than textured hair is, but that’s just my impression.)

      4) “Protective” hairstyling most days. Generally I braid my hair to keep it still and avoid too much exposure to sun and wind. If I’m out and about on a particularly windy day, I’ll slap on a bandanna or hat and even tuck my hair down into my shirt, too. In the winter, I keep it tucked inside my parka. This will keep the ends from blowing around and will also prevent the shorter, newer hairs from being pushed out of the braid and rubbing around, which leads to a fuzzy look.

    10. MissCoco*

      I have fine hair that’s prone to being both frizzy and oily. I prefer a low-poo over no-poo, I try to only really shampoo my scalp instead of my hair. Right now I’m shampooing every 2-3 days. Once every week or too I use either t-gel or nizoral and give my scalp a really thorough but gentle scrub (I use a little silicon scalp scrubber). You also may want to experiment with a dry shampoo to use on your roots

      My favorite leave in product is “it’s a 10 keratin leave in conditioner” I use about 10 sprays and scrunch into my hair while wet. I also “plop” my hair for 10-15 minutes after a shower, which helps with volume at the roots and curl definition.

      Also, if you hair is really not happy with any type of products, you might want to consider a little heat as an additive to help with hold without adding more products. Obviously it would add some prep time, but I notice I get a lot of benefit from 10 minutes of blow drying with a diffuser.

    11. nobadcats*

      Kaleidoscope!

      I have always had very fine hair, wavy hair which is now thinning because of menopause (grrr!). A friend of mine recommended the Miracle drops (https://iluvcolors.com/collections/miracle-drops/products/copy-of-miracle-drops), and I just started using the leave-in spray conditioner (https://iluvcolors.com/collections/all/products/miracle-drops-leave-in-1). Don’t buy it from Amazon, she only sells it through her site and Target.

      I only wash my hair every other day or so, using the shampoo and conditioner from the same line. My hair stays soft and sleek all day. I also use only silk pillowcases, which are easy on my skin and hair, no tangles in the morning.

      1. Fuzzy Wuzzy is my head*

        My hair has thinned drastically and become much finer than it used to be due to POI (basically premature menopause). I just…. hate washing my hair. Every other day just seems like so often. But the more I try to figure out something that works for me, the more I think I’m chasing unicorns.

        1. nobadcats*

          I hate washing my hair too. Admittedly, I’m more down to once or twice a week, or just a quick cold water rinse in the sink.

    12. Junior Dev*

      Do you protect your hair when you sleep? Look up “hair bonnets for sleep” on a site like Etsy. I started wearing one and it made my curls stay curly for days longer. I’ll add a link to mine in reply.

  7. Anon for Bras*

    Hi all! The letter earlier this week had some discussion of where to get inexpensive bras for larger-chested people. Does anyone have recs for inexpensive, decent bras for 36H size?

    Anon as I don’t want to announce my bra size to the world. This is a serious request. I looked up the $8 bra someone mentioned in the thread but that doesn’t go near large enough for me. It’s really expensive. I’m overweight now, but even when I was smaller, I couldn’t get a bra in the VS store.

    1. Anon for bra reply*

      This feels like a very basic answer, but the best deals I find on bras are at Kohls. Coupons + discounts make them a lot more reasonable. It’s a frustrating problem that larger sizes easier cost 2-3x as much.

    2. Ranon*

      Nordstrom Rack sometimes has quite good deals on bras and they carry brands that will go up to your size. If you do Reddit r/abrathatfits may have suggestions and r/braswap if you’re game for buying off random strangers. You can also find new with tags for good deals on eBay and Poshmark.

    3. Rosyglasses*

      I have used Caralyn Mirand (on Instagram) as an inspiration to find the best fitting bras for my size. She always has recommendations on her blog for inexpensive up to investment purchases and has a ton of recommendations on how to properly be sized – whether you do it yourself or have a virtual consult or go in to a shop.

    4. mreasy*

      Bare Necessities on sale was my go-to in my 32F pre-reduction days. Unfortunately, in my experience it’s near-impossible to find truly bargain-prices bras for much larger chests, or even just anything above D or DD. I would only ever have 3-4 bras in rotation and always a couple in the only weird color/pattern that would be on sale.

      1. Anon for Bras*

        Haha I know what you mean about the unique sale color. I’ve done that. I think I used to buy what I called “Bali bullet proof vest style” from there. I’ve been leaning toward differently shaped bras but I’ll circle back to them.

    5. Belle*

      I usually buy my bras at Lane Bryant when they run their semi annual sale (more than 50% off). I am an H cup too and find the bras fit well and hold up for a really long time. They also have one without a wire that keeps things in place.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      Not the cheapest, but if you can get a sale at Lane Bryant, their Cacique brand had pretty much all sizes. They normally run $40-$60 ish, but they have regular sales.
      I am 42H and that’s the only place that I can find my size with certainty. I like their balconnets, back smoother, full coverage.
      Most of the brands that advertise heavily on social media and tout “inclusive sizes” are not in fact inclusive at all.
      Victoria’s Secret is notorious for not going above DD and then trying to stuff you in it.

      1. Anon for Bras*

        I’ll look out for sales there, thanks! It’s been years since I walked in a VS. The assistant measured me and honestly told me there was none of my size in the store. I was an embarrassed teen at the time. Looking back, she was being kind.

    7. Voluptuousfire*

      Torrid is another option. They’ll quite often have really cute bras on clearance (just bought one to replace another Torrid bra that but the dust after almost 4 years of use. I think I paid $19.99?). The back smoothing 360 T-shirt bras are the best, IMO.

      I switched to Torrid’s bras after being a LB/Cacique fan for 15 years, wore their bras exclusively. I think LB sized me wrong the last few years. The band size was fine but I think I needed to go up a cup size and the last batch of bras didn’t fit. Torrid’s sizing was bang on. Overall I find their sizing is more accurate than Lane Bryant’s.

      1. Princess Trachea-Aurelia Belaroth*

        Not sure if it’s still going on, but I was just at Torrid buying bras and their clearance was Buy 1 get 2 Free, and they frequently have big sales. The bras are cute too, not just the black/white/beige you usually get in department stores at large sizes.

      2. Anon for Bras*

        I appreciate it! I got excited looking for cute bras on their site. Unfortunately, they don’t go above a DDD for my band size. They’ve got many options for larger band sizes. I’m reminded of when I tried to shop at Torrid 10 years ago. They told me I was a “tweenie” who wouldn’t fit their clothes. I also didn’t have clothes available at most other stores for being too large.

        Everyone can struggle to find clothes. I know my bra size is unusual but I’m still frustrated the cheapest bra I can find is $50.

    8. Helen of Illinois*

      The Paramour line at Target.com costs $25 each (the Paramour lines at different stores are more expensive). I love the Auden line at Target.com at $20 each but they don’t have your size (I’m 40G). As far as I can tell, it’s impossible these days to get an inexpensive bra in a large size in-person. You can find more expensive ones in-person either at department stores like Macy (I think worth the $50 price) or those specialty bra stores that have every size (I think not worth the $100 price).

      1. Anon for Bras*

        Thanks! I bought my last bras on a ThirdLove cyber sale. They’re more expensive than I like, even on sale, but they fit me well.

    9. 80085*

      I am a 30K so similar smallish band, massive cup. What I do is go on Amazon and Zalando every couple of years, filter by size, sort by price, and find a brand like Freya or Triumph. I always find some kind of end of the line bra for €12 which would have been €90 new. I order one of each type, and if they fit fine, I go back and order all that are left. It works for me as I’ve been this size since I was 15, probably not worth it if you have any variation.

      1. Anon for Bras*

        That’s a good idea. I’ve settled into this size for a few years now. I don’t tend to fluctuate much, maybe 1 band size down.

    10. ThatGirl*

      It’s worth noting that, to a degree, you get what you pay for. Cheap clothes are often made cheaply. I know it sucks to pay a ton for underwear but generally it’ll be better quality and last longer.mI agree with the Lane Bryant and Torrid recs, they frequently have sales and coupons.

      1. Anon for Bras*

        I appreciate the thought. Most of those listed don’t go up to my size. Maybe there needs to be a definition of “large breasts” in these articles.

        I’m serious when I say I appreciate the thought. I’m just frustrated with these kinds of articles because they never seem to apply to my size

        1. Roland*

          I feel you so hard. It’s so often large band, never large cup. It’s hard to explain to my friends than anything in s/m/l/xl will never ever fit when they try to give suggestions.

    11. Generic Name*

      I’m on the larger-busted end of the spectrum. It is very expensive. I got a Nordstrom credit card and I use it to buy groceries and gas and spend the points on bras (and other stuff). So I’m able to get expensive bras for free.

    12. WS*

      I won’t give a store rec since I’m not in the US, but I have found that non-wired sports bras are the longest-lasting, best fit bras once you go above an F cup. They’re actually designed to hold everything, they stand up to repeated washing, and the band lasts a lot longer. I have some in Goddess and Glamorize brands.

    13. epizeugma*

      Figleaves, Bare Necessities, and sometimes Asos can have good sales in that size range. I used to wear a 32/34 F/G/H (depending on brand, style etc) and Freya and Panache were my favorite brands. Even on sale they are never exactly cheap, but they’re good quality, and with careful maintenance (hand washing in cold water, drying flat, never wearing more than one day in a row so they can rest between uses, etc) they can last for years.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I’m basically the same size as you and I also love Freya and Panache! OP, not sure how you feel about Amazon but I sometimes find Freya and Panache there for $30-50 in my size (and less for swimwear).

    14. NaoNao*

      eBay! I’m a 38DD or E depending on the brand and I find NWT options on eBay frequently enough to very much make it worth my while. If you aren’t squeamish, you could go to your local thrift store and buy your size or what you think your size is in various brands, wash with Oxiclean and then try them on to verify fit before going for the full plunge on eBay.

      Brands I’ve had success with is Chantelle, Natori, DKNY, Freya, and Wacaol.

    15. A*

      Brastop is great for ordering online. You have to pay for shipping from the UK to wherever you are, but there’s a big selection, prices are reasonable, and you have a long window to return things.

  8. MaybeHouseHunter*

    The letter from the bakery manager who was resentful of her wealthier employee got me thinking. I live in a big city, and want to remain here most of the time, but especially since the pandemic I have been craving fresh air and space. So I have been seriously looking into buying a weekend home in an area a few hours outside the city that has, like many such areas, seen a huge increase in home prices due to a lot of people moving there or buying second homes in recent years (which only became more pronounced during the pandemic). I would probably end up splitting my time between the city and the second home. I MIGHT consider Airbnb’ing it from time to time, but this would by no means be a money-making endeavor, nor would I buy anything I couldn’t afford without relying on rental income.

    Some of the commenters seemed to think that while the manager could not fire Jane for being wealthier than her, they still felt that Jane was somehow wrong for coming in and helping drive up home prices/gentrifying the area. Is anyone who buys a home in this scenario – either as a primary home or second home – basically a “bad” person? Is it wrong to buy a “non essential” house in an area where that might contribute to higher housing costs? Is there any way to do it responsibly?

    1. AnonForThis*

      Fundamentally, it’s a philosophical question about what to do when there is a decision or action that would make your life better, but hurt someone else. It’s a very, very common issue (do I buy cheaper goods that exploit people, or pay a lot more money for something that’s ethically produced? Do I take my kids out of the poor local school and put them in private school, which benefits them, but ultimately leads to a public school system that (badly) serves only poor families?)? A lot of these issues have the additional problem that one person doing it isn’t a big deal but when it’s a trend the damage can be large.

      Some questions to ask for this sort of question – “What are the relative benefits/damage involved? How practical is the alternate choice? Is this something that is necessary, or a luxury? Can I do something to compensate? How does this fit in with the balance/costs of my overall lifestyle?

      For the housing thing – I can think of two ways to compensate. One would be to set aside a significant amount of money in addition to the purchase price that you could donate to organizations in the vacation area which deal with homelessness, the other would be to actively help campaign and vote for things like the building of more affordable housing, and things like higher property taxes on second/vacation/AirBnB homes – things that might make your life more expensive/less easy, but will benefit society as a whole.

    2. Outside Earthling*

      There are parts of the UK where second home ownership is a real problem. In parts of Cornwall, for example, young people can’t afford to live in the county they grew up in because Londoners are buying up available properties to use as holiday homes. And they can afford to pay over the odds so prices get pushed up and up.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        See also: Whitby, North Wales.

        This is also a problem where I live in NZ – one area in particular that I know of has people who can’t even afford to live on their ancestral (coastal) land because people from a nearby city are either moving there and commuting or renting through Air B&B.

        This is basically a moral question, and it’s not really one anyone else can answer. But I think it’s extremely sad when locals get forced out through other people’s greed. I’m not saying this is OP – the area could be completely different – but it’s definitely a moral dilemma.

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      My husband’s family owned a summer cabin at Lake Tahoe that was on Forest Service land. (His family owned it since it was built, sometime in the 1960s.) The Forest Service don’t want people to live there year-round, so the cabins aren’t fully winterised (ours had no central heating), garbage isn’t collected and the roads aren’t cleared in winter and access is limited from October to May. (You could probably try to live there in winter, but it would be very cold, logistically difficult and a total pain since the main road is a mile away.) Since the cabins aren’t suitable for year-round use, you’re limiting the number of people who can use them for any reason, which is the purpose of the rules.

      There was a lot of Forest Service bureaucracy, so I’m pretty certain they would prohibit these properties being rented out – only family and friends used our cabin. The proliferation of holiday rentals is definitely a problem in the year-round residential neighbourhoods in the Tahoe area and in some cities there are restrictions on the number of days a year that you can rent out a property. So I think having a second home is only ethical if you can minimise the impact you’re having on locals to the greatest possible extent – in our case, the Forest Service rules meant that you are unlikely to be taking housing away from locals. I would never buy a second home, but was happy to use the cabin and pass it along to another family member when we left the country.

      Full disclosure: I do have to rent properties if I go on holiday. My food allergies mean that I can’t eat in restaurants, so I need access to a full kitchen – and hotels which have rooms with kitchens and also take dogs don’t seem to exist in the UK. However, I don’t use AirBnB and never will.

      1. Anthea*

        I agree that it’s complicated and impact-mitigation needs to be part of the equation for anyone seeking a second home—context really matters. Maybe two illustrative cases:

        Growing up, my family had a vacation home in a rural area of New England. That town, at least at the time, largely benefited from the owners of second homes: these were primarily three-season lake cabins, built in considerably denser proximity to each other than the year-round housing, and producing a tax-revenue boost for the town that funded things like the school and environmental/cultural projects, etc. You could not easily live in these houses year-round, so the vacationers didn’t really infringe on housing availability or drive up prices. There were definitely downsides for the locals, like traffic and the part-timers attracting bears through poor waste-disposal, but the part-timers mostly lived in balance with the existing community, providing economic stimulus and not draining other resources from the local community.

        Fast forward to 2020/later, and the context there has really changed, in ways that alter the old symbiosis. Outsiders have been purchasing year-round homes in that same town, instead of three-season cabins, and at such a rate that driving up prices to the extent that the children who grew up in that town can no longer live there, and long-time residents are being taxed out of their homes. The volunteer fire-department is having trouble operating, since part-timers aren’t as tuned in for intensive volunteering like that (or present enough to make a meaningful difference to rosters). On the flip side, some locals have bought the now-less-desirable three-season cabins and list them on Air BnB, and are doing well from that, and local carpenters/tradespeople have never been busier doing renovations on the year-round second homes. So, some locals have become winners, others losers—but there’s no longer community symbiosis.

        This is just an anonymized story about one town, but I think it does highlight the unintended consequences that purchasing a second home can have for those in the existing community. I’m personally not against people buying a second home period (and this town has some great examples of part-timers who became full-timers and mainstays of community volunteering), but morally I firmly believe any second-home purchaser should think through those potential consequences fully, and find ways to mitigate them—whether that’s donations or active affordable housing advocacy (as another reader mentioned) or becoming a very intentional, consistent volunteer in areas of community need.

    4. mreasy*

      Second home ownership is a major problem for locals in desirable areas. I do not think it is a moral thing to do.

    5. Hiring Mgr*

      I don’t think it’s wrong at all personally. Even in the letter the other day the person who sold the house to Jane is presumably a local who benefitted from the sale so it’s not as simple as it might seem

      1. Sloanicota*

        The fact is, I think only OP can decide what’s wrong for herself in cases like this. I mean, I flinch when people talk about only buying their books from second hand stores, but I do eat produce that isn’t organic. My friend paid top dollar for a pure-bred dog, while I’m a fosterer. We’re all deciding what we can and can’t live with here.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t see any ethical issue with someone buying a primary home anywhere, ever.
      Secondary home – that depends on many circumstances.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        I think this is where I land, too. If it’s going to be your primary residence, I think it’s probably fine to go anywhere. But a secondary residence, especially if it means some people might then not be able to afford a primary home in that area? That’s got more factors to consider.

    7. TPS reporter*

      You could try if available a multi family property and keeping the rent controlled for tenants. Or if you really are committed to the fresh air part, buying in the least popular or outskirts of the popular area that is less likely to be subsumed by gentrifiers.

    8. Reading recs*

      Look, we do things every day that compromise our ethics, there’s no way to live a perfectly moral life in the world (see: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) So if you go out and buy a second house, it’s not a massive change from how the world works.

      But (and I say this as someone who will likely never be able to afford a home) no, I don’t think second homeownership is ethical, not in a rapidly gentrifying area. And Airbnb’ing the place would actually be a money-making endeavour. The money might go towards taxes and upkeep on the place, sure, but you’re literally making money that sustains a second-home lifestyle, by keeping a rural property off the market.

      1. Rosemary*

        I have friends who have a second home, and they airbnb it occasionally, but only when they are not planning to be there anyway. So the house is already a second home/off the market as a primary home anyway. The difference is, when it is rented, there are people there who are likely spending money in the town at shops, restaurants, etc – which would not happen if the house was empty.

    9. Spearmint*

      My view is people who buy second homes like this shouldn’t feel bad, because ultimately the issue is bad government policies leading to housing shortages in many areas (policies such as restrictive zoning). In this situation, what you do as an individual probably doesn’t make a high difference one way or another. Even if you don’t buy the second house there will still be so much demand that prices will remain very high.

      1. Spearmint*

        Now, I should say you shouldn’t feel bad if you’d actually use it, like spending a lot of time there, and/or renting it out or doing AirBnB. If it just sits empty 95% of the time, that’s simply a waste.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        For just this reason, I have come to cast a very wary eye at any “What you as an individual can do to address this large systemic problem!” Specifically that the original awareness campaign was paid for by the astroturfing wing of a large entity that benefits from the current system.

        1. MissElizaTudor*

          I fully agree that individuals acting alone can’t solve systemic problems, but there’s value in acting in a way that aligns with your ethics, though, even if it doesn’t fix the systemic problem.

          I’m wondering, do you also cast a wary eye at the idea that voting is an important thing for people to do as individuals to address systemic issues?

          They’re very similar to me (except that your vote is actually less impactful than buying/not buying a second house), but it seems like a lot of people think they’re different points.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I think voting is important. (Each election cycle, we come out with a “huh, did not expect that race to be so close”–you have to actually have the election to know how it will come out. My far left Alabama relatives managed to elect a D Senator.) I also think voting as a civic good is predicated on things like working toward the collective good and institutions operating in good faith, which have been getting shakier. (But also were never some platonic ideal, no matter how much people romanticize whatever decade they were in elementary school as a time when things were simple.) Were I trying to accomplish something at the polls, I’d much rather be aligned with people who vote because it is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, than with people who first need to feel super inspired to vote–just as a practical matter.

            Other countries take other approaches to voting, which I think we could learn from, just like I think we could learn from their national healthcare systems.

            I don’t plan to buy a second house, but I plan to soon buy a different house and sell this one. And no matter where I buy, I feel confident someone will condemn that choice as obviously morally wrong–I shouldn’t have moved to the lower cost area because that pulls up prices; I shouldn’t have moved to the higher cost area because that cements divisions; etc.

      3. TPS reporter*

        Good point, and if you do buy the home you could commit yourself to lobbying government to build more lower income housing

      4. GlowCloud*

        I don’t agree that we should just shrug and say “Well, the system allows me to do this, so I can and should, until the system changes.” See also: purchase of fireworks, lawful tax avoidance, and half the bad managerial practices that people write in about on here.

        Anyone’s excess directly deprives others of their fair share. If you take an extra house off the market and make it unavailable for other people, you are directly driving the scarcity of affordable homes, unsustainable consumption of resources, and urban sprawl as developers move in to build more and more homes to meet demand – not of the people in need of shelter, but solely the demands of the bourgeoisie.

        Campaign for fresh air and space within the city – raise the standards of the urban environment for everyone. Channel money into green spaces, cleaner public transport, and reduced air pollution. Be a force for better environments. Otherwise, you’re just creating more urban density hell a little further out from the centre.
        The scourge of modern human life will follow you, because you are it. We all are.

        Quit trying to flee the disaster, and start fighting it.

        1. Spearmint*

          I don’t see this as analogous to, say, being a bad manager. If an affluent person doesn’t buy a house in a highly in-demand area, it’s not like the house will suddenly go down 20% in price and be bought by some local, instead it will be bought for very slightly less by another affluent person.

          And here’s the thing, I’m against sprawl as well, but (the right kind of) development is the tool to fight sprawl. More high density construction in high-demand areas will reduce the amount of sprawl that is built, and reduce prices by meeting demand. I would argue fighting development actually helps the bourgeoisie, because they are the homeowners who get wealthier when housing shortages lead to rising home values.

          More parks and greenspace are great! We should have more! That’s not inconsistent with more density. Many European cities have a huge portion of land devoted to greenspace and parks AND are denser than most American cities.

    10. Person from the Resume*

      You’re stuck with the “one person doing it is fine lots of people doing it is a problem.”

      MaybeHouseHunter buying or not buying won’t fix the problem, but if they buy they contribute to the problem.

      A while back someone said something about looking at the block (for a gentrifying neighborhood problem) and if she would be one of the first white/wealthy homeowners she wouldn’t buy but if the block had already tipped over to 50% gentrified she would buy. There’s a little logic here that if everyone followed that advice gentrifying would stop. People rarely follow such a rule and it’s not stopping and locals are being priced out. Long time homeowners who own their home outright and maybe inherited it from parents and grandparents are being priced out because of taxes and insurance costs!

      But I do have to admit a second/vacation home is a little different because Maybehousehunter doesn’t need a second home and would be contributing to pricing people out of their first and only homes.

      I come down on not a great thing to do morally, but also not immoral. It’s taking advantage of the system which favors the wealthy and white and does nothing to support and protect those not in power. But an individual cannot change the system.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Perhaps OP can consider a currently-less-popular town where her dollars would be more of a boost to the local economy? Particularly if you get a fixer-upper and commit to hiring local help. I liked the suggestions above about donating money to local food banks and homeless shelters too. Perhaps there’s other ways to support the local region, like volunteering in the schools, starting a TNR program for feral cats, etc etc.

    11. PostalMixup*

      How much time to do intend to spend at this vacation home? Could this be a situation where a timeshare actually makes sense? Many people sharing a vacation home would have much less impact on the local housing market than the same number of families each buying a vacation home.

    12. marvin*

      As someone who lives in an area with a major housing crisis, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult/impossible even to afford to rent here, this is an urgent problem, and I wouldn’t feel right about contributing to it (if I were able to). Framing it as a choice between being a bad person or a good one seems overly simplistic to me, and focuses mostly on your feelings rather than the impact on the community. It is tricky to act ethically when the benefits to yourself are clear and the harms to the community are more nebulous and uncertain, but based on your question, it sounds like something is telling you this choice would not be in alignment with your values.

    13. PoolLounger*

      2nd homes are such a big problem in several cities I’ve lived in, including NYC. One way to look at it—what will you be willing to contribute to the community where you’re buying a 2nd home? Will you donate, volunteer, help with mutual aid, make friends, go to community spaces? And is this a town where people who are born there can no longer afford homes? Could you buy a second home that’s made to be one, like a 3-season cabin or house that’s further in the boonies than most people want for daily life?

    14. MeetMoot*

      If you have the capital to spend on a house, maybe spend that renting a cabin or cottage or whatever for the two days of a weekend rather than taking a property off the market? Might not be as personalised as your own home but if it’s only two days a week (and even then, do you expect to be there every single weekend of a year?), it’s probably not a big deal if the furnishings aren’t exactly what you’d choose for it.

    15. JSPA*

      Having double the built footprint ( And the minimal heating and cooling costs associated with keeping the building in decent shape) will always be less ecological, and will intrinsically drive up prices (unless it’s a situation like some of the abandoned villages in Europe, or you’re fixing up a house that nobody, locally, can afford to pay back taxes on and then fix up… but that’s a huge endeavor.)

      If you really only want weekends and the very occasional week, is it potentially possible to work out a home swap? Plenty of people love to go into the city for just the weekend, and perhaps a week once or twice a year. You’d each have the modest extra cost of keeping your place cleaner and tidier, the bother of timing the swaps, the risk of an occasional weekend exchange falling through, due to illness or family needs, And you’d need to vet each other with the care that you’d use for a housemate. But compared to the cost of renting or owning two places, it’s a reasonable option.

      1. JSPA*

        Adding, what doesn’t usually work as well as you might hope is to find someone local who will reliably stay in your place (and make sure the pipes don’t freeze, or your local climate-specific equivalent) during the week, and then “just” stay with friends or family on the weekends. Even if they’re staying free, as a caretaker, not as a renter, or are legally dealt with as housemates, things can get complicated.

        Not to say it never works, but the power differential sets up a whole lot of bizarre dynamics that are less in play with a swap.

    16. Second Home Owner*

      Goodness, if you want a second/vacation home, buy a second home. I grew up in Florida, where probably 40% of the houses were owned by snowbirds, probably an even higher percentage now.

      As a country-preferring person who lived in a big city by necessity for career reasons, I bought a so-called weekend home for my sanity, and spent every second I could there. I paid taxes on it, shopped here, used local services, etc. and otherwise contributed to the local economy for 20 years before being able to move here permanently. I took nothing away from anyone.

  9. New Mom*

    Looking for recommendations of places to go and stuff to do on family vacations when there is a combination of one family that is child free by choice and doesn’t really like kids and another family that has two little kids (3 months and 2.5).
    The players:
    My parents – mom loves kiddos and is happy to do kid related activities. My dad is fine with kids and is probably willing to do one kid activity a day.
    My brother – single, kind of indifferent towards children and also prefers to send time alone (like long solo hikes)
    My sister and BIL – child free and prefer to do things that are not kid friendly, like drinking on vacation, going to bars, or excursions that aren’t really for kids.
    Me – married with two little children.

    My sister and BIL want to go on a family vacation, and I’d like to do something everyone can enjoy but it’s tough. I was thinking if there was a place near a beach and park that had little bungalows or a hotel we could all stay in separately so the loud drinking didn’t wake up the kids, and the loud early riding kids didn’t bother the people who want to sleep in. Does anyone know of a place that would work for this group?

    1. Rosemary*

      I would consider getting an Airbnb/renting a house in a place (like a beach town) where the house could be a home base then people could do their own thing. Alternatively, what about an all-inclusive resort? Several years ago me (single/no kids), my mom, and my two sisters (both married, each with 3 kids) went to an all inclusive in the Dominican Republic. It was perfect because the kids could play in the pool/beach all day, and the adults could relax and have drinks all day :) We did not take advantage, but there were excursion outside of the resort that might appeal to the child-free members of your group. And while I don’t think there was a raging bar scene or anything, there were definitely bars on the property (and probably off) that childfree adults can enjoy.

      1. Decidedly Me*

        I was also going to say the Dominican Republic! I was at an all inclusive there that had a family side and an adults only one.

      2. Quinalla*

        Yes, an all-inclusive that has pool/beach access is great for everyone here. Everyone has their own hotel room, etc.

        Somewhere that you can go and rent out small cabins (Hocking Hillis in Ohio has lots of hotels with cabins or just cabins to rent) might work too so folks can go hiking, you can have your cabin be the quite night/noisy morning cabin, your sis & BIL can have quite morning/noisy-drinking night cabin. And you can still participate as much as you like with a baby monitor if the cabins are close to each other, maybe even go out one night with everyone and your Mom or Dad stay with the kids if they are willing? And plan some days where maybe you have a more kid focused activity and and more adult-focused activity. Don’t try to do everything together, but also plan some activities everyone can do. Meals are usually good for this as are kid-friendly hiking (some trails are ADA/stroller friendly even), areas that have a playground near something adults want to do – bar, hiking, frisbee, etc.

        I think if you go in with clear expectations that hey were are going to do these group things together, these things separate and the cabin/room setups, could be a really great family trip! We’ve had some great ones with our extended family and some not great ones. The not great were ones where it focused almost 100% on just one group in the family (just the grandkids, just the folks without kids yet, etc.) and those not in that group were bored, overtired, disappointed, etc.

      3. Not your typical admin*

        I would suggest a cruise. There’s tons of activities for all different age groups.

        1. JSPA*

          Depends if the baby will be old enough to be vaccinated (for any of the many things that circulate in enclosed spaces) and/or already well- exposed through daycare. I’d also be leery of norovirus risk, As babies and toddlers are particularly vulnerable to the effects of dehydration and additional serious complications.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      Two hotel rooms, or adjacent condos near the beach would be a good option. I’ve done family vacations like this near temperate beaches, and it worked really well – it will shield the non-kid people from the kid vacation chaos, but you can easily spend time with each other. Having a kitchen was nice – we handled our own breakfasts and lunch, and each took a turn handling dinner.

      If your budget is higher, an all inclusive resort with babysitting and kids activities could work. That way the people with kids could also participate in less kid friendly activities.

      I would advise having an honest conversation among the participants about expectations before booking, though. You may end up spending entirely parallel vacations without much time together, if one set doesn’t want kid-friendly activities, and another has an infant and a toddler who aren’t old enough to be sent off to play on their own.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree about the big-picture conversation. I was definitely disappointed when we tried to do family vacations because my sister really didn’t even have time to talk to adults, dealing with the kids. There was really no point in them coming because the kids were miserable (the pool was unfortunately closed unexpectedly) and the adults didn’t get any time together anyway. All we did was torture everyone for no reason haha. My sister liked to stay at their house when the kids were small, because she knew things were kid proofed and they could keep the routines. We’ve had good luck with beach trips, but people have to be willing to tolerate the kids being around and underfoot – as well as earlier mornings than they might like – or I wouldn’t suggest it.

        1. New Mom*

          Yeah this is what I’m afraid of. We went to a Great Wolf Lodge when we only had one kid, and I love swimming and water so we had fun (as much fun as you can have when traveling with a toddler) but I think my dad, brother, sister and BIL would hate a place like that. My sister can also be pretty controlling and rigid about vacations (in MY opinion, I’m sure she doesn’t see it that way) and we got in a bit of an argument a while ago when she wanted to join us for a trip but kept trying to pressure me into promising ahead of time that we do certain things. I kept reminding her that I had a toddler and couldn’t predict how things would be and that it would only work if she was willing to be flexible and she huffily decided not to attend. It ended up for the best because my poor sweet toddler ended up getting bronchitis, and there ended up being no childcare available from either in-laws or where we went so I think my sister wouldn’t have had a good time.

    3. Travels with kids*

      This sounds like Bend, Oregon to me. Beer, hikes, combo of accommodations, super kid-friendly. Or on the other coast someplace like Hilton Head? The kids are so little it sounds like you just need a playground or pool and someplace to nap?

    4. AY*

      Some of the national parks have really built-up towns around them that could work well: Banff, Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone. You could all join together for a couple of family activities: a boat ride, a really short hike, putt putt, etc., and split up for everyone to pursue their own interests.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      If your kids stay in your room at this point, a four bedroom AirBnB would serve. We stayed in a nice one on the Outer Banks in NC–there was a large common gathering space with view of the ocean, and two bedrooms to each side so everyone could retreat into their own space. Walking on the beach, taking jeep tours to see the wild ponies, and easy to take hang gliding lessons. I’ll also second Bend Oregon as fantastic, with lots of hiking for your brother and breweries for your sister.

      I really like the pattern where in a diverse group, people split up for part or all of the day and reconvene at dinner, with stories to share since everyone wasn’t doing the same thing.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        As the one without kids, I have to say that separate bedrooms in a single AirBnB isn’t that much of a retreat. Kids make a surprising amount of noise if you’re not used to it, and while I’m personally fine with my own bedroom and earplugs to sleep, someone who isn’t comfortable around kids could easily find it less than relaxing.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Have you thought about an airbnb or hotel in the Boston area? There are great beaches on both the North and South shores, Boston has nightlife and good food. The Boston Harbor Islands are easily accessible by public boat service. There is the New England Aquarium, Children’s Museum, the Science Museum, the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a merry go round and sprinklers. Tons of shopping and many food options. And Boston itself is very walkable.

    7. AliceBD*

      Warning that this is based on 25-year-old memories but my family basically did this when my brother and I were the tiny children. We went to a resort in Vermont and my parents, brother and I stayed in a little cottage. My brother and I spent a good portion of our day in the on-site childcare. The extended family, including child free adults and grandparents, stayed elsewhere on the property. Sometimes my brother and I ate with everyone and sometimes we ate with the kids program. I don’t know what the adults did all day but I think it involved relaxing, golf, spa, excursions etc? Your baby is younger than we were but I was 4 and my brother was 2 the first year we went.

      The specific place we went is Basin Harbor Club in Vermont; haven’t been back since the mid-90s so can’t vouch for it nowadays, but giving this story as an idea of the type of resort you may want to look for.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Pick a location that works for both groups. Go as a family, but rather than everyone does x, plan up front that you with the kids will be doing abc, and others are welcome to join or do their own thing, with a few combined activities. And if possible, find a babysitter while you’re there so you can leave the kids behind and the adults go to a show or whatever.

    9. Lynn*

      We did this once with the extended family and invited a younger friend with less money to join us. The deal was a free vacation for her (she had her own room) in exchange for having the kids a few hours each day. That gave us a once a day option to do adult only things, and it wasn’t so many hours that she didn’t feel it was a real vacation. It helps if this friend is also friendly with the other adults so they have happy options for company when not babysitting.

    10. EJ*

      Cruise! Especially once baby is 6 months or so, easy babysitter service on the ship and lots of variety of entertainment for everyone. You can even book sitters for a port day if you want. Pick a schedule with stops that have something for everyone. My favorite extended family trips are on cruises bc everyone can mix and mash with their interests both on and off ship, and then come together for dinner to discuss the day. (And no cleanup!)

    11. Kiki is the Most*

      I realize that you asked for location recommendations but I also wanted to suggest setting up a small ‘norm’ for the family once the location was decided. I’m not big on strict rules but when I travel with my family and/or friends, we still try to figure out the one event we’ll ALL participate in, who’s cooking/cleaning up (if in a rental), meet up times each day for a check in, etc. It takes the anxiety and resentment of who-is-doing-what and we each feel like we get the vacation we expected.

  10. An unexpected air fryer*

    Recommendations wanted for what to cook in an air fryer if you don’t care for breaded or deep-fried foods. I just got a new microwave oven that has an air fryer setting and related hardware. I’ve never air-fried and didn’t expect that I ever would, but I’d like to figure out a way to use it.

    My 2-person household wants to eat food that’s healthy and tastes good. Our dinner mains are mostly legumes, non-gluten grains, stir-fried or steamed vegs, with the occasional roasted or sauteed chicken. Can I get some use out of the air fryer setting?

    1. Rosemary*

      I do not have an air fryer but am thinking of getting one (thought mainly for breaded/deep-fried foods LOL) so I don’t have any advice, except to say that my friend recently posted a pic of air-fried, non-breaded shrimp that looked delicious.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I don’t know how this differs with a microwave, but air fryers as standalone appliances are tiny convection ovens. So anything you might roast or cook in a toaster oven might work?

    3. AcademiaNut*

      Vegetables! They’re honestly my favourite in the air fryer. Roast mushrooms – cut up your mushrooms, toss with a bit of soy sauce, melted butter and garlic powder, roast for about eight minute at a high heat. Roast cauliflower with cumin and paprika, roast root vegetables (beets, carrots, etc). Broccoli, green beans, okra. You can do roast potato pieces fast enough to make it a weeknight dinner.

      The air fryer also does really nice grilled fish, particularly stuff with skin on it (crispy salmon skin…). Chicken skewers are also good.

    4. Happily Retired*

      Roasted potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower or broccoli. Air-fryer chicken, skin on or off.

      1. Happily Retired*

        —also, I don’t know if this falls under healthy for you, but I use a recipe from skinnytaste called Air Fryer Cajun Shrimp Dinner (it’s mostly vegetables) that is amazing, and no, it doesn’t stink up the house! :-D

        I’ll post the link in a reply, but if it gets hung up, you should be able to google it from what I posted here.

    5. Bazzalikeschasingbirds8*

      Boiled eggs at 130C or 266F for 15 minutes. I do this when having eggs in salad, if you’re eating straight away less time. I love this method, I tend to forget about eggs when cooked on the stovetop.

    6. mreasy*

      I use mine to roast veggies and to make crispy tofu. I was super skeptical of the thing but now we use it constantly.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, beets. And kind of sturdy vegetables. Toss them in olive oil, soy sauce, wherever spices you want. I like cauliflower with cayenne. Sweet potato fries in Cajun seasoning turn out good too.
      Last month I made mushrooms in mine: slice them, toss with soy sauce, garlic, rosemary, Parmesan, air fry at 380 for about 12 minutes, shaking once.

    8. fposte*

      I think I’m still on a learning curve with mine but I find it more useful in hot weather than in cold, since I can do lovely oveny things without heating up the kitchen. And if it has a dehydrate setting that’s brilliant for leftover little tomatoes, which you can then freeze if necessary and pop in salads or other dishes as you like.

    9. YNWA*

      You can totally use the air fryer on chicken. I use mine for chicken wings, chicken legs, etc. It’s great for roasting chick peas, tortellini, and a slew of vegetables.

    10. Alex*

      I have the ninja foodi which is a pressure cooker and air fryer combo. I made the healthiest dinner the other day that was easy as pie. I tossed broccoli and cauliflower in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then had a frozen flounder fillet that I put on top of a few lemon slices, brushed wtih olive oil, and sprinkled with some seasonings. Nestled the vegetables next to it, and air fried for 12 minutes. I hear you can do this with chicken breast too (but would take a bit longer and you wouldn’t want the vegetables in the whole time).

    11. Random Bystander*

      Here’s a recipe that came in the book with my air fryer that I like (recipe makes 4 servings).
      They called it “Inside Out Dumplings”

      Preheat to 400

      Ingredients:
      1 lb ground pork or beef (could do ground chicken or turkey–I made it with beef)
      4 oz water chestnuts, finely minced
      3 T panko breadcrumbs
      1 T soy sauce
      1 t sesame oil
      1 t ginger, grated or finely minced
      1 t garlic, grated or finely minced
      1 large scallion, minced
      1 egg, lightly beaten
      1/2 t black pepper

      Mix all ingredients together. Form into 1-1/2 inch balls. Spray the basket/crisper tray with a non-stick cooking spray. Cook 10-12 minutes (may need to do in batches).

      Serve over noodles or rice

    12. An unexpected air fryer*

      Thanks for all the great ideas! Now comes the major hurdle that I have with new gadgets and appliances … I have to overcome a huge amount of internal resistance before I can start using them, or fully using them, because there are usually so many unknowns.

      So, your collective suggestions are super helpful for me both for the specific ideas and also because they are encouraging me to just jump in and try it. I have a head of cabbage on hand, and I’d like to roast cabbage wedges. What’s the worst thing that could happen? I guess I’ll find out. Fingers crossed!

      1. EJ*

        Preheat!! That is my #1 tip for the air fryer lol. Most people seem to skip it, but it will improve results dramatically

    13. First Timer*

      So many great non fried non breaded things to try!
      – toast nuts and save them for salads and yogurt (careful it is quick!)
      – grilled cheese sandwiches (ok not healthy but comfort food!)
      – toasted seasoned chickpeas
      – salmon
      – quick dry brined chicken breasts
      – reheated pizza or other leftovers that you don’t want to be soggy
      – roasted veggies of any sort
      – roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes
      – mini meatloaves
      – meatballs – brown before tossing in sauce
      It’s great to use when you don’t want to use the oven in hot weather and I adapt oven recipes in mine often.
      Have fun and enjoy!

    14. Seconds*

      I discovered that the air fryer makes frozen veggies taste excellent. It’s so convenient to keep frozen veggies but they usually aren’t that appealing, but in the air fryer I really like them!

  11. Decidedly Me*

    I was also going to say the Dominican Republic! I was at an all inclusive there that had a family side and an adults only one.

  12. 80HD*

    I have ADHD and autism and I’m trying to decide where the line is between pushing myself too hard and making improvements I’ll actually enjoy in terms of lifestyle stuff, mostly with things like chores and beauty upkeep.

    For example I love making my bed every morning, but it was a conscious thing that I worked for months and months to develop. I also finally got my eyebrows in shape, but that takes *work,* and some days I find myself not wanting to deal with it and then they get bushy again, and I lose the outline, and I find myself wishing in hindsight I’d kept up with them.

    I guess I’d like to know how you found a happy medium or a way to sus out what you enjoy vs. what’s just going to be an unsustainable slog. I feel like my burnout/refusal/executive dysfunction threshold is super low for committing to anything lately.

    1. Double A*

      I’m neurotypical as far as I know and I definitely ebb and flow in terms of how on top of things I am. To me the answer to your question is super individual. Like, I’m on top of my laundry because I watch TV while I fold it. I like TV and folded laundry is satisfying to me, so I keep a consistent routine about it. On the other hand, I don’t like cooking and yet have strong feelings about eating nutritiously, and I haven’t found a way to feel like I’m on top of that consistently. Some weeks I’ll cook varied meals and then like this week we got lil colds so ended up having frozen pizza 3 times.

      The trick is figuring out what you really want vs. what you’re just telling yourself you *should* want but actually don’t care more than the amount of work it would take.

      I guess one way to sus is out is asking yourself if the following statement is true: I would feel better if X.

      So like, I would feel better if my laundry is done weekly, enough that I will do that work. But if my car was cleaned weekly, it’s neutral. If I have to do the work, then it’s negative (I wouldn’t turn down a visit from the car cleaning fairy, but I’m not interested in making myself do it).

      Something I just started using this month and I’m loving it is a chore chart that’s broken down by days of the week, then quarterly tasks, semi-annual, and annual. So the stuff that I feel better if done weekly (or sometimes just must be done no matter how I feel about it) I schedule for specific days. Then I don’t have to think about when I’ll do it. And if I miss a week, it’s not a huge deal because I know I hit it the previous week and most chores can act go 2 weeks. I also printed an annual calendar and cross of each day I more or less do my chore.

      Having the schedule frees up a lot of mental energy. No more trying to figure out if something is gross enough to need a clean, and I also can give myself permission to ignore stuff because it’s day is coming soon. And the checked off calendar can help me see if I skated the the task the previous week(s) so maybe now it is getting critical. And I can edit the schedule if it’s not working for me.

    2. Vio*

      It can be very difficult, honestly I think I’m still struggling with that balance constantly. There’s a lot of things I need to do, a lot of things I want to do and not a lot of time to do them all in. On top of that is the Holy Trinity of Mental Energy, Physical Energy and Free Time all required to align…
      I try to work out priorities starting with the Need vs Want. Everything I need or am needed to do (eg: sleep, eat, shower, work) is quite overwhelming so I try to split that into Really Need (sleep, eat, drink) and Probably Should which makes it a bit more bearable. I mostly get all the Need and Probably Shoulds done but it’s often comforting to know in advance that I’ve given myself permission to miss a Should or two once in a while.

      In some ways the Wants are harder to manage. There’s a lot of things I enjoy doing and some that I may not enjoy but know are good for me but they’re not quite important enough to fit into Needs. So now we have Wants (hikes, socialising, gaming) and Not Quite Needs (gym, decorating, cycling). I try to balance them between each other and the Needs so that each week gets a good balance while including some Just Relax time… I also find that the occasional afternoon nap is helpful, but of course takes yet more time…

      All the while I remind myself that the most important thing in life isn’t to make the most money, work the most hours, get married and have kids… it’s to make my life and the lives of those around me as enjoyable as possible without making anyone’s life less enjoyable.

      It’s hard. But also very rewarding. Every smile helps.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      I don’t know that I have an answer. I am always pleased when I enter the kitchen in the morning and my counter is not a mess and dishes are done from last night. That feeling is my motivation to do it, but my evenings are sometimes busy or I’m tired or I eat late or I end up binge watching when I meant to get up at the end of 1 episode and when I go to bed the kitchen is still a mess and I’m dismayed when I see the kitchen the next morning and I have to clean up a bit before making breakfast.

      My one suggestion is not be rushed. It’s easier for me to do it when I’m not rushed so don’t add it to morning routine if you’re already scrambling to get out the door in time. Or your night time routine if that’s the last thing you do when you’re already tired. Find a place/time in your schedule that has room for it.

      Or pay a professional. I get my eyebrows waxed every 3-5 weeks – whenever I start to look shaggy – and I’m happy with that.

    4. Healthcare Worker*

      I try to frame things in my mind that my current self is being kind to my future self- so I envision how good I’ll feel in the morning when the kitchen is clean, which helps my current self do the dishes even when I don’t want to.
      And this is sort of silly, but I put a specific emoji on my calendar when I do something I don’t want to do ( ex: exercise, eat healthy); its the same as giving a sticker for a kid, but it helps me!

    5. marvin*

      I think I likely have ADHD and/or autism as well (still trying to figure things out) and I struggle with this too. I tend to be really black and white about the habits I develop–either I feel obligated to do it exactly the same way every day or I quickly give up or forget about it. I’m trying to work on checking in with myself about whether these habits are giving back more than they’re taking. I’m also working on prioritizing my time more intentionally and not letting my anxiety drive what I spend most of my time and energy on (this is a work in progress).

    6. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      I have read some of KC Davis via her website Struggle Care. Haven’t read her book How to Keep House while you’re Drowning yet.

      It really helped me to hear that housework is morally neutral and to really try to focus on that little thing/hack can you do now in order to be safe/healthy/well.

      I’m struggling to keep up. It’s precarious in good times and stuff gets out of hand every time my little daughter brings home a cold from preschool.

      1. 80HD*

        I have mixed feelings about her. I appreciate and agree with her big picture ideas, like housework being morally neutral, but I’m uneasy about her method because she has so much stuff, she always seems overwhelmed, and I just personally don’t want to live like she does.

      2. epizeugma*

        I really liked her book! It’s an easy read and is streamlined for people who can’t or don’t want to make it through a dense book.

  13. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

    OK, so apparently I (50) am officially in menopause. For me, this means YAY! I’m also lucky, per the doctor, that I’m having none of the horrid symptoms that accompany menopause so as of now, no HRT. She said if I haven’t had the symptoms by now (nearly 5 months since last birth control pill), I should be good. Which WOOHOO! My question is, if any sort of symptoms have snuck up on you, was there any effective OTC, vitamins, or other thing (i.e. cardio exercise) that helped alleviate them? I will call the doc at the first sign of an actual hot flash, but also would like to help myself in the meantime. Thanks in advance!

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Come on in, the water’s fine! I didn’t have much of an issue with hot flashes or real night sweat but I had some sleep disruption that improved with a fan. We have a small fan on a bookshelf across from our bed that is pointed at me. I run it all year long. I’ve seen ads for fans that fit under the top sheet – never needed to do that. I also got a lighter weight blanket (luckily my husband is always warm at night so he had no objection).

    2. Dodubln*

      I, too, was officially in menopause at age 50, and it was also a YAY! for me. I am now about to turn 54, and the only symptom I had, and it only lasted about two years, was extremely mild hot flashes/nights sweats. Nothing I felt the need to go to a doctor for, and I had already decided I was going to avoid prescription HRT (like Estradiol) if at all possible prior to beginning menopause for various reasons. I did buy some OTC Estroven at Costco, but the bottle sat unopened, and I ended up pitching it because it expired at some point. This past year my doc suggested I start taking 2000 IU of Vitamin D for calcium absorption reasons, so I started doing that. I feel extremely fortunate that my journey through menopause has been as easy as it has been, and I hope you continue to remain symptom free!

      1. Clisby*

        I think I was “official” at 53, and knew it only because the doctor did an estrogen level test. I had my 2nd child at 48, then almost a year of Depo-Provera, then a Mirena IUD until 53. I mean it when I say my only symptom (aside from no menstrual periods) was my hair somewhat thinning, and for all I know that was age rather than menopause.

        I still remember when I went in to get the Mirena, the ob-gyn said something like, “You know, your chance of getting pregnant is about the same as a 25-year-old on birth control pills.” I said, “Given that I had a baby less than a year ago, I think I’m not counting on that.”

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      On a previous thread someone suggested the OneADay multivitamin for women over 50 (classic orange bottle) as having a good balance that had helped with various things cropping up. I’ve been taking it and it seems good.

      My temperature regulation is still a little off, but improved. And sleeping well helps.

    4. fposte*

      I had hot flashes bad enough that I did HRT for several years. They’re better now. They also are at their best when I lessen the sugar, carb, and caffeine intake. This makes me bitter as I enjoy those things and it also sounds like food puritans are right, but it’s true.

      I didn’t have anything else that counted as a symptom, so it was kind of a nonevent otherwise. There were a few surprises about what the loss of estrogen meant to other stuff in my body, like my skin and body hair, but they weren’t symptoms, just changes.

    5. The butler did it*

      I’ve learned so much about menopause, sigh. Estrogen interacts with so many parts of our body! I don’t yet have hot flashes, but I’m much more sensitive to heat. I used to be like a lizard, looking for a rock in the hot sun to bask in. My sleep pattern is disrupted- I often wake up at 2 am. Anxiety, brain fog, and a change in body odor are also common for women in menopause. I hope you are fortunate and stay symptom free, but it’s good to know if these creep in, could be menopause related.

      My obgyn, who belongs to the North American Menopause Society, urges her patients to start eating Mediterranean, exercise regularly (esp weight bearing), and cut out alcohol before menopause as it will help limit side effects. I know a number of women who cut out sugar.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      I found that raspberry leaf tea helped me with all the symptoms, especially hot flashes and irritability. I had one to two cups per day, either hot or iced.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      Apparently, estrogen plays a role in cholesterol levels. Even though my diet didn’t change much, my cholesterol went up. I have had to dramatically change what I eat – tossing the bacon grease and replacing it with olive oil, eating a lot less red meat, trying to replace milk and cream in my coffee with oat milk (that was the sacrifice I was not willing to make). My cholesterol did go down, so it worked. And I am still not eating bacon grease or even bacon. :(

      My bladder irritation increased. I don’t know if this is estrogen related or not – how would we know, when women’s health issues are barely researched? (Yes I am bitter.)

      If you find that you feel like you have frequent UTIs, they might not be UTIs – it might be interstitial cystitis (IC), which I did not learn about until last year. (Chicago Med, however, mentions it in a Season 6 episode that I just saw last week.) (My doctor has never mentioned it to me, despite many visits re the bladder pain.)

      The solution for me with the IC is again diet – acidic foods (lemon, vinegar), hot foods, red food dye can all trigger the pain. (But only if I eat them in the evening. It’s so weird.)

      AZO does get rid of the pain, although you really do have to drink an entire glass of water with the pills to get the pyridium into your bladder, which means that now, you don’t have the pain but you will be up peeing all night.

    8. hot chick*

      Late 50’s, I’ll just sit here in my corner by the fan, sipping iced tea and being jealous of y’all. I had sleep disruption so bad I went on HRT. When I aged out of that my doc wanted me to try SSRI’s. Those didn’t agree with me, so I’m back to waking nightly at 4. It’s amazing how precise it is. I totally rock the sleeveless shirts in my cube at work, when everyone else is wearing sweaters. Layers are my friend.

      1. juneybug*

        I had to go on hydroxyzine for my night sweats. Otherwise I was a zombie with no sleep. I took HRT for all of the other symptoms (either I was crying or angry, had mental fog, heavy cycles, etc.).

        Also had to start wearing deodorant for the first time due to body odor. Had to make sure I kept myself shaved, showered, and clean clothes. Sometimes showered twice a day due to night sweats (full shower at night, quick rinse in morning). It faded away after a few years.

        Few years was no fun with menopause side effects but I wish I could describe how nice it is not to deal with heavy menstrual cycles, cramps, bloating, moodiness, etc. I love where I am at in life (late 50s).

    9. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yes! I had a yeeterus surgery and it was much welcomed but also, hot flashes!

      Things that helped me:

      – weighted blanket with glass beads! The weight gives you all the benefits (increased oxytocin and I think serotonin) without the heat, because glass beads don’t retain heat. I got a bamboo duvet cover for it so that it is moisture wicking.

      – Whole foods and plant-based foods. This is my biggest thing. I feel so miserable now when I eat otherwise.

      – good mix of cardio, HIIT, resistance/weights, and mindful movement (yoga, tai chi, somatic conditioning, or even regular stretching) is absolutely irreplaceable.

    10. Choggy*

      I also did not have anything horrid, I always did run warmer but never noticed any hot flashes per se. I’ve been in menopause about 3 or 4 years now, started in my mid-50s, and nothing has changed for the worse. I have been getting more active, just joined a gym that has personal training that I’m going to start to keep me motivated and hopefully meet some like-minded people. I rarely drink alcohol, and don’t smoke, or take any type of drugs, I dabble in vitamins every now and again, but nothing that has really made any difference one way or another. I think the biggest thing for me was not dwelling on being in menopause, I never talked about it, and not even really with my doctor since I had no symptoms other than the blessed no more periods! Of course everyone is different, so you just have to do you.

    11. Girasol*

      I glided through very fortunately. No HRT because Mom had reproductive cancers. All I needed was an occasional ice cold drink to chug in small sips until brain freeze killed a hot flash. But I just read an article that said drinking alcohol can exacerbate menopause symptoms. I’ve been alcohol-free for years because alcohol appeared to be a factor in Mom’s cancer. Wonder if it that and not luck that made it so easy for me.

      1. hot chick*

        No, it’s luck. I’m also alcohol-free, and had been for years before menopause, and I’m in year 8 of sleep disruption, anger/irritability and hot flashes. When I started HRT, I hadn’t had more than 10 decent sleeps in a year.

    12. Figgie*

      Menopause was pretty much a non-event for me. I had a few hot flashes at night and dealt with them by wrapping one of the little blue cooler freezer blocks in a washcloth and tucking it under my ear and then sleeping on my side. That took care of the hot flashes.

      I did find that about 12 years or so in, that I was having problems with vaginal atrophy and burning pain during urination. No bladder infection, just that dryness. This was solved by using estrogen cream. It didn’t go away immediately, but it is gone after about 3 months or so of starting the estrogen cream.

      Other than that, I find that my moods are much more stable without the hormones. No irritability or brain fog or other issues. I just feel better without having all of those hormonal ups and downs. :-)

    13. nobadcats*

      I’m five years out from a total hysterectomy due to massive fibroids and had menopause thrust upon me quite suddenly. No HRT for me, but menopause symptoms affect people differently, I’m still working with some.

      Night sweats have been the worst. I’m frequently either dying from my own body heat, so I throw off the sheets, then I’ll be freezing. I found that silk or eucalyptus sheets really help. Plus, I have a bunch of soft gel packs in the freezer that I can put on the back of my neck and a wee air conditioner/mister that sits on my nightstand for summer nights.

      Not being able to sleep the whole night through, so that I have brain fog on and off during the next day. Thank goodness I WFH now, so I can just go take a nap when I need to.

      I started taking pre-natal vitamins, which has helped a LOT with my anemia and lack of vitamin C.

      Hot flashes were the worst when we were still in the office because of the southern-facing windows. They would start on my scalp and then shiver all the way down my body. Thankfully, there were only three other women in our section of the office, two of whom had already gone through menopause and would be helpful/offer advice. None of them minded when I had to strip down to a tank top or t-shirt. I kept a little USB fan on my desktop for really flashy days.

      My migraines came back, which totally sucks. I got them all the time in my 20s, til I got my wisdom teeth removed. Menopause welcomed them back. I’ve read that this is pretty common. If you didn’t have migraines when you were younger, you might get them after meno, and vice versa.

      I’ve found that soft, slow yoga really does help with the aches and pains, and also helps clear my brain.

    14. Kiki is the Most*

      Also 50, and done with menopause. Didn’t have much of the usual symptoms that impacted daily life BUT I think the stress of my job added to a few other health issues while in menopause. I suggest making sure your doctor checks thyroid levels (a problematic thyroid can, but not always, affect your internal temperature), cholesterol levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.

      1. nobadcats*

        Very good point! Checking the thyroid is so important. It being off balance can also affect hair growth and loss.

    15. Salymander*

      I slept with an icepack for awhile, and now I sleep with fans on and zero blankets, only sheets. That seems to help with the night sweats.

  14. Blue wall*

    Inspired by last week’s discussion of how your life is different than younger you would imagine – what would younger you think of your life now? Or multiple younger you’d st different ages?

    1. Double A*

      I think younger me, from teenager on up, would think some things are cool: married to a cute, moody, sweet artist type (like, pretty sure teenage me would have been very into teenage him though probably not vice versa), have cute kids, have a cool house. Twenty-something me might be kind of appalled that I live in the country, but once I explained to her that she did all the partying I need and once we were ready to settle down and have kids it made sense, I think she’d get it. My job is one I always considered so I don’t think young me would be surprised.

      Probably both of them would fine me kind of boring but that’s okay.

      1. Double A*

        Oh, but teenage me would be shocked and appalled how close I ended up to where she lived, because she got the heck out and stayed gone for over a decade! But I have a totally different perspective on this area now. And it’s also gotten much cooler than in the late 90s.

    2. Data/Lore*

      My very younger me would be appalled that I was no longer an artist and dancer. My teenage me would be surprised and possibly very interested in how the turns of my life events led to a career that checks all the off the wall boxes all the career aptitude tests we took in high school highlighted that stumped the adults (turns out, having a broad range of aptitudes on those silly tests is a very useful thing when you get into analytics). I think teenage me would be satisfied with how everything has played out, and how so many things from back then make sense in the broader perspective of my life now.

    3. Jackalope*

      Younger me would be SO glad that I didn’t go back to the town I finished high school in. One of my teachers said once that she heard all of her students saying they would get out, and many did for a spell (college, etc.), but most came back. I hated that town so much and I spent years being afraid that she would be right. Now I’ve had a) some family move away from there so the pull there is less, and b) marriage to someone who also wants to live somewhere else and doesn’t like it. So I’m pretty sure I’m safe.

      (I may think of other things too but that was the first that occurred to me.)

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Teenage / early 20s me would be delighted that I live in the big foreign city she always dreamed of, that there are cats in the house, and that I have a long-term partner this wonderful (she was sure she’d always be living alone, and had completely sworn off men at one point). She’d be happy that her troubled relationship with food has evolved into my loving every bite and becoming a more than decent home cook.

      She’d be disappointed that I don’t work in a creative field and that I’m nowhere near finishing a novel draft. She was far less of a procrastinator, and had a lot more faith that she’d prove capable to achieve these things, than I do now. On the other hand, the job that pays my bills now didn’t even exist back then, and she’d think I’m making a lot of money (I’m not, really, but it’s far more than my “dream” job in publishing would pay).

      She’d be puzzled that my circle of friends is so small, because it’s something she hoped would improve with moving away and maturing as an adult. But I think she’d realise this is a good life, and leaving the hometown made things infinitely better, though in different ways than she’d have expected.

      1. Double A*

        Oh yes, the cats! We didn’t have cats growing up and I always wanted one. Then again, teenager me handled that; I got my first cat when I was barely 19. But we’d be pleased to know the cat collection is going strong.

    5. Anima*

      17 year old me is surprised that we are still here. I was a bit suicidal at that age (got therapy later in life and I’m fine now!). Teenage me had no plan that went further than 21 of age (she believed we wouldn’t be here after that anyway) and that threw me off later on, I’m a bit flailing around, but accepted it – no one knows if any plan would have worked out anyway, ha.
      Teenage me would be very sad that I’m in my second marriage because she believed in the one true love… I learned love does not work that way often and am waaay happier now!
      19 year old me is so proud of me that I got through maths on university level – she had failed her high school maths and avoided maths ever since until older me tried again – and needed three tries but succeeded!
      What teenage me did not know but I realized in retrospect: I grew up poor. It took me 20 years to reach financial stability and I had no chance to do that alone, ever, because teenage me was artsy and choose the arts as a career. I’m now in a different field, after years of trying to make a living, and finally make enough to have a good life. Teenage me didn’t know she was poor, but I am so proud of me.

    6. Nap time*

      Not quite what you asked, but I remember several years ago seeing my husband fast asleep in a living room chair and above him on the wall a picture of him as a bright-eyed elementary schooler and wondering what Young Him would have thought of that.

      1. blue wall*

        Thanks for asking! And thanks to everyone for sharing- it’s so interesting to read about our visions and our lives.

        Young me would be very pleased with how much time I spend reading still. Surprised that now-me lives in a modern-ish apartment building instead of an older home, though that’s, god willing, temporary.

        Younger me would be shocked that I am in grad school and entering in a new career- not that I’m doing it in my late 30s, but what the career field is–I certainly had no interest or understanding that I could want to make a profession out of this area of study/life.

        I’m holding my younger self here because she’s sad that I’m not married and don’t have kiddos of my own, since she wanted to be living that life for a while now.

        1. blue wall*

          Also- younger BW would be surprised at how much I like to clean and at how little art/crafty/creative stuff I do now. I miss the days of a big trifold presentation for class instead of all the powerpoints and papers I create on my computer now.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Teenage me would not be surprised at my career – she chose that at 14 and was pretty determined. She would be surprised at the shape of that career since it includes some things she’d never heard of and I think she’d be proud. 14 yo me would be astonished that I have so many friends and never really lacked for male attention. She thought she was a social outcast who would always be alone. She still pops up in my head fairly often.

      College me would be glad I married the guy she started dating senior year and stayed married. Both teenage and college me would be surprised that I didn’t end up living where I grew up and would be very surprised that I spent years on the opposite coast.

      Teenage, college, and 20-something me would be most surprised about how strongly connected I am to my synagogue and at the role Jewish practice plays in my life. I grew up not quite secular – we were High Holiday service and Passover seder Reform Jews. I don’t think they’d disapprove.

      40-something me would be very surprised that I’m actively working a 12-step program. I think she’d be relieved and proud.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “the role Jewish practice plays in my life”

        Same for me! It’s influenced so many of my life decisions – whom to marry, where to live, where my kids go/will go to school. And I was not at all observant growing up.

        I think the biggest shock would be that I’m not living abroad, which was not even a “dream” – it was my definite plan – pretty much the #1 constant I saw when I envisioned my future. Surprise! And also, having and raising kids. Never thought I’d want that or be suited for it/capable of it (although, many days I still don’t feel capable of it…).

    8. Vio*

      Probably both amazed and disappointed. My life now is much better than I could have imagined but also very different from how I had hoped. I don’t have the wife and kids, the house and I haven’t travelled the world. I haven’t had any books published (haven’t even finished many stories long enough to try publishing, writers flood combined with social life makes for lots of unfinished stories). But I didn’t wind up moving far, far away and I actually have a fairly good relationship with my family who I can now see did their best even if they didn’t always get it right.

    9. fposte*

      I think young fposte would be surprised but pleased. She’d be especially delighted that I made my living writing and working with books and that I own my own house. (She’d be stunned that I managed to figure out budgeting and finance.) And funnily enough, my recent dive back into playing music was prompted by my love of Renaissance recorder music in my teens, so young fposte might be more like “What took you so long?”

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      This was unexpectedly a sad question for me, as I have been struggling back from physical ailments, very slowly, and my 20 or 30 year old self sure didn’t see that coming.

      I read a book recently where people can loop back in time to earlier memories, and a small detail that stood out was the “Oh hey, my knee doesn’t hurt!” kind of discovery when you’re back in a younger body. Slow changes that you barely noticed get transformed into an abrupt realization.

      Though I have always thought that not doing the job you envisioned at age 4, or 16, just reflects that small you didn’t know that much about possible jobs and about your own strengths, values, etc. Sometimes the job you get into at 40 didn’t exist when you were 20. Sometimes young you pictured a certain job as being only The Cool Part, and now that you’re in that role you realize that even the top people only spend a small amount of their day on The Cool Part.

    11. Sloanicota*

      I think about this all the time, actually. I think younger me would find it a bit sad that I never got married and had no kids, but she would think it was pretty cool that I own my house and published my novels. I worry sometimes that I’m not leading a “big enough life” – I have a friend who like, relocated to France a few years ago, and that sounds appealing – but also, younger me didn’t know a lot about the world, and I’m wiser now.

      1. blue wall*

        Sometimes I think about a “big life” vs/not vs but in the realm of thinking of “a deep life”. For myself I think I’m betwixt the two, and what I want to be moving towards now is a deep life- deep bonds, deep community, ties, etc.

        Years ago someone shared here Cheryl Strayed’s “the ghost ship” article, and the articulateness and clarity of that idea has allowed me to let go of the lives I am not living (who am I kidding, not all of them, I totally want to be married and I’m not letting that one go). In that vein of “what all is possible”, more recently Oliver Burkeman’s book “Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals” again helped me let go of ideals I don’t need to hold, like going to Iceland.

        Congrats on your home ownership and publishing your novels- what awesome accomplishments!

    12. Irish Teacher*

      I think younger me would be both pleased and absolutely unsurprised. Well, maybe a little surprised that I am teaching secondary school instead of primary, but otherwise I am basically living the life I always planned to. From the age of 8 or 10, I was saying I would be a teacher and I would never marry.

      Actually, she’d also probably be fairly pleased that I have generally learnt to control my temper (I’m actually starting to wonder if that “temper” was actually meltdowns, but either way, it was what preteen me most wanted to change).

    13. ecnaseener*

      Child me would be disappointed that I’m neither a professional actor nor an astrophysicist. (And that I haven’t done any theater, professional or otherwise, since college.) Teenage me would I think be relieved to know that I’m in a job I enjoy reasonably well and didn’t crash and burn upon leaving school – maybe still a little disappointed that the job isn’t more impressive.

      Both would be surprised that I enjoy living alone. And glad that I’m managing my adhd so much better (not that child-me knew about that). And probably disappointed that I’m not dating.

    14. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Teenage Apple would probably shrug and accept Older Apple’s lifestyle without comment. She was an easygoing kid who let a lot roll off her back. It frustrated her attempted bullies and ingratiated her to many of the adults in her life who dealt with teenagers a lot. She was game to try (most) anything once. Young Apple seemed to lack focus because of this tendency and so drifted from one cool thing to another. It’s how Older Apple ended up where I am today. ;)

      The younger Apples would probably be disappointed that Older Apple no longer has horses or plays their favorite sports. They would be pleased about having lived in their favorite state for a little while even though COVID messed up those plans.

    15. londonedit*

      Teenage me would be super impressed that I live in London and work with books. She’d be appalled that I don’t own the massive house in Notting Hill that I assumed every Londoner had by the age of 25, but you can’t have everything!

      She’d also be utterly shocked that I actually willingly do exercise and – horror – go to the gym three times a week.

    16. The OG Sleepless*

      Teenage me would be aghast that I live in the suburbs and not the country! She’d be delighted that I work in my dream field, though in an aspect of it she would have never expected. She’d be a bit nonplussed that I got married and had kids, with a guy who wasn’t really my type back then. She’d be relieved that I’m much healthier than I expected to be in my mid 50s, and fitter than I was back then.

    17. Broken scones*

      I think younger me would be amazed and perplexed at the same time. Teen me was very creative amidst all turbulence of that time (family and friendship drama) and she would be surprised that I let my creativity go by the wayside. She keeps yelling at me to get back to writing and I will, I promise!! It’s just that being an adult is so exhausting. No one told me that my bandwidth would shrink lol. But she would also be super happy/impressed that I found the time to try out martial arts…and that my friendships are much better now than back then. Teen me wouldn’t be surprised at my career choice, but she’d be like DUH why didn’t I think of this sooner?!

    18. Girasol*

      As a teen I was sure I was destined to die young because, as a boomer girl in the bible belt where firm gender stereotypes were drilled into us at school, I couldn’t even imagine being a grownup with such a miserably constrained life. But I grew up in the first wave of feminism and had all sorts of opportunities for great technical jobs and adventurous pastimes. Younger me would be amazed at how much a girl could grow up to do.

    19. Sigrid says Hey*

      Teen me would have been amazed at how long I spent living in apartments in urban situations. She would have been thrilled that I lived in 4 diverse and distant parts of the country. She would have been so excited by the international travel I’ve done and wondered why I haven’t yet done much more. She would be smug that I married my crush from when I was 15, but shocked by how long that took to happen and that there were other boys/young men that I was happy to date and consider as possible life partners in the interim. She’d be surprised that we, eventually, returned home and built a life on the farm with our siblings being a major part of our social connection. Career wise she would have assumed that the education piece and first 15 years went pretty much according to her plan, then she would have been horrified by the change of direction I took for the next 20 years. She would have loved who ended up being my core friendship group and very surprised about who made the cut and has lasted as a very close supportive friend since 5th grade. She would have been surprised and proud of the wilderness skills I developed and the adventures I’m continuing to enjoy into my 60s.

    20. Frankie Bergstein*

      I think teenage me would look at my life and say…. “DOGS?! STABILITY? SCIENCE? RUNNING? GOOD FOOD? NO PARENTS?! HELL FUCK YES, HERE I COME MIDDLE AGE!”

      Thanks for this question :)

    21. Firebird*

      Good question, thanks for asking this.
      Teen me dealt with a lot of fear of the future. I feared being alone and poor and couldn’t picture how I could even exist. She would be relieved that I am content with my life in general and that I have a stable income and friends.
      Me in my twenties would be surprised that I seldom travel, because I really enjoyed it then.
      I’m not as brave or adventurous as I was in my twenties, but I’m working on it. I think both Younger Mes would be proud of me for finally standing up for myself and getting a divorce. You can improve your life at any age and I’m not beating myself up for waiting so long.

    22. carcinization*

      My teenage self would be surprised that I do a lot of/know a lot about cooking and baking these days, but not surprised that I have only a handful of friends and many more acquaintances (unless the surprise was that I even had a few actual friends!). It depends on what part of teenagerhood we’re talking about as to whether my profession would be a complete surprise… I’d decided on the broad field I work in by the second half of high school. As for how I dress and what I like to do for fun and that type of thing, most of those things wouldn’t be surprises beyond some unfortunate physical limitations. Though I guess I do go to sporting events by choice these days whereas I didn’t back then… but I also didn’t really get the chance to go to hockey or rollerderby in those days.

    23. Blythe*

      Hm, kid-me would have been surprised by some things (tattoos, pink hair, nose piercing), mostly unsurprised by others (I’m a teacher– kid-me would have expected elementary school, but I teach middle school), and TRULY SHOCKED by the fact that I neither have nor want all-the-time kids (I foster, but I have no interest in having bio kids or in adopting). Kid-me would have also been surprised to find that I’m not married– not because I ever liked dating, but because it seemed like The Grown Up Thing To Do. Kid-me would have been pleased with my pet situation (1 dog, 2 cats, 1 bearded dragon, 1 rabbit).

    24. Old Plant Woman*

      Little plant girl would have been shocked and thrilled to have known she would grow up to have a happy productive boring life. Naw. She wouldn’t have believed it at all. She was a mess, figured she wouldn’t live long, suicidal, dysfunctional, acted out. Or, if she survived long enough, she’d be a mad scientist, anarchist or live off the land in the wilderness. Current me has a loving husband, a very old house, two cats and of course a garden.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Sorry to hear Little Plant Girl went through such a difficult time, but glad you have such a happy productive life now.

    25. epizeugma*

      The whole “being trans” thing would be a surprise. Only a small surprise though.

      I am married to my high school sweetheart (started dating age 14) and I think Younger Me would be thrilled about that, although perhaps surprised at how much a relationship can change over ~20 years of adolescence and adulthood.

      Younger Me would be very disappointed that I don’t own a house, I spent most of my childhood moving from apartment to apartment almost every year and I’ve always craved a permanent place to call my own. I will never be able to afford to buy in my HCOL city unfortunately.

    26. Clisby*

      Younger Me would have been shocked that I eventually had 2 children. Granted, I had them at 42 and 48, so Younger Me’s influence lasted for quite awhile.

  15. Linda*

    I’m moving soon for the third time in five years and I’ve decided to just get rid of most of my possessions instead of toting them across the country again. Does anyone have any tips for best places to unload stuff on? Has anyone done something similar and really regretted it?

    1. Rosyglasses*

      I haven’t done a big purge like this, but I would recommend finding a buy nothing group either via app or Facebook, or if you have nicer furniture, trying to find a good consignment store so you can offload it and hopefully get some money. Buy Nothing (depending on area) tends to be more reliable than Craigslist – but as the name suggests, it’s not going to bring in cash for your goods. Facebook Marketplace is probably better for that.

      Good luck on your move!

    2. Podkayne*

      I sold my house and released most of my stuff about 12 years ago. What I did with stuff: 1. Gave family members generational, heirloom type household items to family members. 2. Had an estate sale (and called it that so potential buyers knew that it was more than a garage sale). 3. Sold some things individually via craigslist. 4. Donated the remainder. ,……… I have never looked back.

      1. WellRed*

        All this. There really are varying…classes of belongings and they can be divested if as such. For the stuff that gets given for free, it can bring joy to both giver and recipient.

      2. Kiki is the Most*

        I’ve done something similar and have only a few things that I move with now. (I move often, too!) Luckily while I was planning this, I had time to really go through the house and sort out everything. It was important to me to make sure that anything I didn’t sell wasn’t automatically dumped in the landfill; so, I made sure to donate ‘professional’ clothes to the non-profits that help people with clothing for interviews/jobs, small home necessities and appliances for DV victims starting out on their own again (donation drop points can be found online), electronics recycling, etc. It was a lot of work but it was nice to feel that some of my things would be of good use to others.

    3. AnonForThis*

      I’ve done this twice before international moves and didn’t regret it. I didn’t have anything particularly valuable and was mostly getting rid of large furniture items, appliances, and a purge of clothes/books/games/household items that I didn’t want anymore. Some tips –

      When you’ve getting rid of stuff, the first person who shows up with the necessary money and a method of transportation gets the item. Don’t save it for people who promise they’ll come, no matter what their story is, because the flake rate is really high. On a similar note, give yourself enough time to dispose of anything left over before you move. I had friends who had arranged for pickups of large items on FreeCycle, had a bunch of people flake at the last minute, and had less than 12 hours to break down and dispose of multiple furniture items before a cross country plane flight. Sleeping in a sleeping bag or at a friend’s house for a week is better than that sort of rush.

      If you’re posting stuff online, give pictures, dimensions for large items of furniture, and price stuff to go fast. If you’re a smoker or own pets, tell people in advance.

      Figure out what do to with the the stuff that doesn’t sell, and how to get it there. I ended up having to throw out a bunch of perfectly useful stuff because the cost of hauling it to the thrift store via cabs was too high, and any place that did pickups needed arranging weeks in advance.

      Check your social networks too – I lucked out one move because a friend knew someone who was moving into town shortly before I left, and was happy to buy most of my large furniture, plus things like TV and vacuum cleaner, for cheap.

    4. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I’ve found that refugee charities are often really grateful for larger items like furniture because they’re useful for people who need to set up a household but have nothing.

    5. MuttIsMyCopilot*

      I’m not sentimental and generally dislike “stuff”. I’ve never regretted parting with anything for myself, but have very occasionally felt terrible for parting with something that I didn’t realize someone else would’ve kept. If you have any family or relationship mementos, consider offering them to whoever might be interested.

      After dealing with anything worth the effort to sell, if you have a bunch of useful but not valuable stuff look for a group that sets people up at the points in life where someone has to start over. Groups that furnish places for people without safety nets (recently unhoused, ageing out of foster care, fleeing domestic abuse, returning veterans without family, etc) love functional goods like mismatched dishes, single end tables, older working electronics, etc.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I didn’t regret it, but I found it didn’t stick. I got rid of enough stuff that, barring a couple of UPS boxes, I moved across the country in a smart car ten years ago. I now have a full four bedroom house and regularly look around going “where did all this come from??” Heh.

    7. Sloanicota*

      I did it and it was great! If it didn’t fit in my (small) car, it didn’t make the move cross-country in my late 20s. That said, I pretty much only owned crap, so it wasn’t a huge loss. I started putting stuff out on the curb and pretty quickly my neighbors were lining up waiting for it. But it was that kind of neighborhood. The bad news is I have somehow accumulated plenty of crap again, some ten years later.

    8. nm*

      I use a site called Freecycle a lot! You make an account and then “join” your town/towns near you (i think the limit is ~10 towns) and then you can post items that you’re giving away. You can also make more general posts like “big lot of kitchen stuff on the porch today” etc

  16. Porch Screens*

    Community Supported Agriculture! I’m looking into signing up to a CSA program in our area but Mr. Screens has some reservations as to whether we’d be able to use all of the produce or not, even if we just went with the program’s 1/2 share option. They also offer eggs (weekly or biweekly) as a separate signup. The person in charge has been very responsive and helpful with questions but I’m curious to hear from other who’ve done similar. Was it worth it to you? Did you manage to use all/most of your shares each week?

    1. Casper Lives*

      I started getting a CSA share in November. I went for one every 2 weeks. So far, I haven’t had any trouble getting through the share. I’m not sure what options you have. My share allows me to pick & swap items from a list of available produce. That way, I make sure I get fruits and veggies that I’ll eat.

      I’ve started adding on their eggs. The price has risen to $7/dozen (ugh) for no known reason (no avian flu outbreak on the farm; seems to be raised to match the greed of corporate eggs). However. These are the best, most flavorful eggs I’ve ever eaten. They’re brown eggs from hens that free range over 10 acres. I can’t go back to flavorless mass farm eggs for anything but baking.

      1. LittleBabyDamien*

        I don’t know what things are like where you are, but where I am, the rising costs of fuel (farmers use it for all phases of planting, harvesting and shipping crops) and ingredients for fertilizer, as well as terrible weather conditions in the last two years, has caused feed prices to increase by about 30-40%. Avian flu has made replacement chicks harder to find, and more expensive.

      2. Missb*

        As a backyard chicken keeper, I will say that the cost of feed and straw has risen in recent months.

    2. mreasy*

      I have always managed to use up my share – and I would buy a 2-person share just for me. If you have a broad palate when it comes to veggies, you should be fine.

    3. Morning reader*

      You can probably set your amount for your usual consumption so check if they have different size shares. My CSA also allows quite a bit of customization. You can set your preferences so you never get something you never eat. Then weekly you can swap items for other available ones. As for can/will you use all of it, you probably can if you right size it. My experience has been that I’ve learned to enjoy stuff I would never have thought to buy myself. I didn’t even know what kale was 2 years ago. Collard greens ended up on my Do Not Send list. My first year I had a double share but I invited friends over weekly for a Big Salad and outdoor gathering.
      Another friend was doing the CSA on but she dropped it once her own garden was producing. I’m not much of a gardener so it’s perfect for me.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      My parents have been part of one for the last 10 years. They tend to eat more vegetables than I do, and you do have to sorta plan at least one-two meals a week around what you’re going to get. When I was still living with them, that meant Wednesday (CSA Day!) was usually pasta with greens lol.

    5. WellRed*

      This has been my concern. I’m one person and not much of a cook so getting a kohlrabi or such would be challenging.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        For kohlrabi specifically, that’s something I tried because my local farmstand had it. Quite good peeled and sliced up in salads. And kohlrabi’s are normally not large.

        Trivia: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and kohlrabi all descend from wild mustard.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          You can also cut it up & fry it in butter for an interesting breakfast hash. Or curry it. (Madhur Jaffrey has a nice recipe.) Deborah Madison also has some good recipes where it’s braised. But around here, people often just slice it & eat it raw.

      2. HBJ*

        Kohlrabi is actually really good raw. It’s great on a veggie tray alongside the broccoli, carrot, etc.

    6. RagingADHD*

      It has never been an overwhelming amount of food, but occasionally it has been more of some single ingredient than we wanted to eat in a week.

      But that’s what freezers are for.

    7. E*

      Ive done CSAs a few times intermittently. Overall I’d say whether it’s worth it depends on price, quantity, variety, and the other options for good produce around you.

      For me it wound up not being worth it and even as a veg who cooks a lot — it comes all at once and some organic veggies spoil fast so I wound up feeling like I worked on the vegetables’ time. I live in the northeast so in early spring it’s a TON of greens and not much variety, other than turnips which I don’t love. Summer and fall are more exciting with variety but I was sick of it by then. I also had to pick up rather than have it delivered, and when watermelon and squash came in, hauling it was a slog.

      Pros are it’s convenient, and urges you to eat more veggies and different kinds than you’d normally buy, and you are supporting local agriculture of course.

      I’d say, try it for a season and see what you think!

    8. fposte*

      I did a CSA for a few years and enjoyed it; I did a half share, and they just teamed me with somebody and had us do the split ourselves. We hit it off and became friends who’d go to dinner after getting our share, so that was fun.

      But it was not a good fit for the way I eat, or at least it wasn’t then. I’m a super-planner and I’d panic when faced with a bunch of unexpected highly perishable greens. I think with tools like Eat Your Books, which indexes your recipes, and more time now I’d probably fare better.

      I am, however, besotted with my flower CSA. Stunning flowers turn up at my door every week of summer; it’s great.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I found that over time my CSA membership had become this huge source of stress for me. I could feel those lovely vegetables rotting in the veggie bin day by day but I could only get myself together enough to put *one* big meal together, which always left me with a random eggplant or squash or something that I hadn’t figured out how to use. Even as a fraction of a full share it was probably too much for one person who isn’t great at pulling together meals and isn’t the most adventurous chef. But I had friends who happily prepared different stir fries every night and were thrilled, so it was definitely more of a “me problem.”

    9. CSA Fan*

      We got a CSA half-share last year, for just my spouse and I, and it was well worth it. Ours lets you trade up to two items for either other items in the share that week, or to use the equivalent dollar value in their farmstore. Our CSA also never gave you the same thing twice in a row, and even if you got lots of tomatoes thru the summer, they were always different varieties. So it never felt repetitive. The costs were also so much less than buying in the store. Because the veggies are so freshly picked, they last at least a full week if not longer – better than what you buy in the store. So we almost never had something go to waste.

      Once we got to late summer/fall, we started chopping up 3-4 types of veggies and roasting 2-3 pans full at a time with just olive oil, salt and pepper (combos like cauliflower, brussels, beets, carrots, etc). Then I would stir together and put into small containers, and froze many of them. They are great for quick meals like adding veggies into pasta, or throwing into a curry. We just finished the last of our freezer veg a few weeks ago, so the CSA definitely kept on giving into the winter.

      We just signed up again for year 2, we got a 5% discount for prepaying in January, so that helps a bit too with cost.

    10. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      I previously did a CSA. It was fun and challenging to cook and eat vegetables that I was not used to. The one I went to had a spot you could leave or swap items you didn’t want. There were weeks where I did not use up everything and some things went to waste.

    11. Bluebell*

      My CSA experience varied with the farm we chose. We were happiest with one that gave us coupons to get the produce, so we went light on early season greens, and indulged in corn and tomatoes. There were others that were challenging and times where I thought if I saw another green pepper I’d scream. It’s good to cultivate a few friends who might want your extras. Overall, though, I’m glad I tried it.

    12. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve done a CSA with the same farm for a little over a decade. I love it, & now that they have an option to choose your veggies the weekend before delivery, I love it even more. (Until shutdown, I would just give unwanted veggies to coworkers who liked them.)

      It can be a challenge to cook everything. (I also live in farmer’s market territory, which means buying extra produce is common.) And I wish I had a deep freeze in my small apartment.

      But I definitely spend less on organic vegetables & eggs than I otherwise would. And I know the vegetables are way fresher than I would get from the supermarket.

    13. Bibliothecarial*

      We split a share with our friends and it mostly worked out. Some weeks my partner had salad for breakfast because there was so much lettuce, but it was generally fine. Our CSA farmer included recipes for that week’s veggies, which helped.

      My local farmers association has been doing a frozen veggies CSA for some years now and it is awesome!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Our local CSA association publishes cookbooks. They’re nice because they focus on what is available locally & in season together.

    14. Another_scientist*

      We are on year 2 of a weekly CSA box. I like cooking and it definitely helped me to incorporate more veggies. While the glut of pumpkins in the Fall gets old, I feel that it’s honest to eat the things that nature will yield at this time of year in the area I live, and it’s something I’m willing to prioritize. Our box allows no substitutions, but you can order add-ons like eggs, and informally leave things at the pickup site for another member to take.
      It’s definitely a challenge to keep up with the weekly box, especially since we now work more outside from home and go out with friends more. Most weeks I just about manage. Sometimes a bunch of greens wilt on me. I love that we now eat a wider variety of produce than my go-to items in the supermarket.

    15. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Have enjoyed doing a CSA in the past, though I haven’t done it recently. Probably more reasonable for you to start with a half-share to see how you like integrating the produce into your meal planning.

      You might also read up on how to prepare different veggies for freezing. Stock up on those 2-cup size plastic freezer containers (e.g., Tupperware Freezer Mates), and plan for a little bit of time after you get your veggies every week to wash, blanch, pack, label, and freeze some fraction of your haul.

    16. Shiara*

      We get our produce share biweekly and we’re on our sixth year with the same place. It’s still an effort to not have it go to waste, and all meal planning for the week happens on delivery day to factor in what’s going to go bad first. “Simply in Season” and “Ruffage” are two cookbooks that I have found very helpful in working through our bounty.

      While each box has a lot of variety in it, there are definitely seasonal repeats. Right now it feels like I’m trying to sneak cabbage and turnips into everything. Sometimes it’s beets. There was one fall where I ended the season with over 20 cups of pumpkin puree in the freezer. Two years ago we were so flooded with peppers I filled 50+ jars with pepper jelly. It was delicious.

    17. Clisby*

      I was able to use up most of the CSA produce, but that was back when 4 of us were living here and now it’s just me and my husband. It was partly due to season – like early spring here is heavy on salad greens and light on, say squash and tomatoes.

      I really should look again and see whether there are any that offer half-shares.

    18. grocery store pootler*

      We did a half-share one year, and I don’t regret trying it, but it didn’t work so well for us that we kept doing it. My spouse is a little choosy about types of vegetables, and I didn’t like feeling that it was entirely on me to get through all the zucchini or whatever. There’s a limit! We did have extra food waste, and at least once left behind a cabbage at the pick-up point that we just couldn’t cope with on top of the previous cabbage we already had at home. I decided I would just go to the farmers’ market near us instead the next year (though I haven’t done that in a while).

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I now rely more on the farmers market here, and on a local store that carries a lot of local produce/meat/eggs. Farmers market tends to be the best, although at the height of summer if I can’t get there by 9 a.m., the heat is too unbearable.

    19. Snacattack*

      We did it for several years, a half share with two or sometimes three people. The vegetables were definitely fresh, but I would not do it again. Too expensive. Too many vegetables that went bad too quickly. Fall was full of root vegetables and root vegetables are fine but ultimately not different enough to be interesting. It didn’t help that my spouse had pretty strict dietary restrictions which required avoidance of some of the vegetables that were available.

      I like the idea and wish it had worked out—but it wasn’t for us. YMM obviously V.

    20. Samwise*

      We get a half share (every other week); when our son was at home we had a full share and every bit got eaten (ah, teenagers!). For the two of us, not everything gets eaten every time. I take things to the office to give away or give to our neighbors. I also will prep and freeze veggies. We will finish up the summer kale soon…

      Eggs: Unless you are big egg eaters, like a dozen a week for sure, I would not buy a share with eggs, but rather buy as needed if that’s possible. I have a few chickens— in season we get 12 to 20 eggs a week. It’s a lot for two people, and we do like eggs. Our neighbors and coworkers are appreciative…

      1. Samwise*

        We also do a half share CSF — community supported fishery. It’s fantastic! Again, more than we can use quickly, some weeks, but most of it freezes well. We eat the CSF seafood that day or at the latest the next, but we get an email in advance telling us what we’ll be getting and plan from there. Spectacularly fresh.

  17. Porch Screens*

    Cruises! Mr. Screens and I are in agreement that we’d like to take a cruise at some point, preferably within the next year or two. I’ve done some research but there’s a lot of information out there and it’s a little overwhelming! What we know so far is that we want to do a warm-weather/tropical cruise and that Mr. Screens doesn’t have any particular interest in actually getting off the boat anywhere. Any recommendations? Or perhaps any companies we should avoid? Mr. Screens has been on a cruise before but someone else in the friend group he went with handled the planning, so we’re both basically newbies to this.

    1. Liminality*

      If I may suggest it, consider an all inclusive land based resort? All the food, beverages, and warm sea breezes, none of the pitching and rolling of a ship.
      If there is no inclination for visiting the ports why invite sea sickness? (This is a me problem, but maybe not so much for your guys?)
      All that said, unless you’re actually planning on spending most of your time in your room I haven’t found it worth it to get port/balcony rooms, save your money for the beverage package. Look at the daily published activities lists. They have everything from casual conversation time for speakers of specific languages, to choirs, to cooking lessons, to art auctions, to dance and karaoke contests. Some cruise lines require guests to pre-register for the big entertainment shows before embarking, so be prepared that if you’re interested in that kind of thing. Also, if you do think you might get caught by the seasickness on board/landsickness after returning ask your general doctor about scopolomine patches. You wear them behind your ear and they do transdermal anti-nausea meds for several days per patch. (Just remember to take their warning about thorough hand washing seriously. I helped my sister put one on and then I immediately put in my own contacts. The topical application of scopolomine to the eye results in pupil dilation. I looked like I had a conussion for about a day and a half!)

      1. KatEnigma*

        I would never travel without a passport, but the one advantage of a cruse vs an inclusive resort is that you don’t technically need one for close loop cruises that sail and return to the same US port- you can travel with just your birth certificate and state ID. And if you live near enough to a port city, you don’t have to fly.

    2. Aphrodite*

      I don’t cruise but I really enjoy watching the YouTube videos from Tips for Travelers with Gary Bembridge. He is a well known blogger who cruises almost constantly and provides outstanding information.

    3. KatEnigma*

      If you are adults only, our dinner companions on our Disney cruise last month said they have been on all the cruise lines, and Viking is their favorite for service and food and just overall experience of the regular (non luxury) cruise lines. Pro tip: Virgin wasn’t the first adults only cruise line. Viking has been doing it for years.

      On the DCL groups on FB, it’s generally agreed that Carnival is just THE worst- the ships are poorly maintained, the service and food are not good, they nickel and dime you to death, and there are a lot of obnoxious guests running around who take advantage of the prepaid unlimited alcohol packages, and are WAY over served.

      If you were traveling with kids, the only really viable options are DCL or Royal Caribbean. DCL costs more, for normally acknowledged better service, food and entertainment. But not as much more as it first appears, because Disney includes things (like free fountain drinks) that RC makes you pay for.

      All the cruise lines go to warm pretty beaches.

    4. WellRed*

      If you need to fly to the port city build in a buffer so that airline issues won’t make you miss your cruise.

    5. Missing the sea*

      My partner and I have done 3 Eastern Caribbean cruises that include San Juan, St. Martin, Barbados, and St. Kitts. Each island is unique so we research what we might enjoy doing and then narrow it down to maximum 2 excursions per cruise (anything more for us infringes on relaxation time). Because the best time to be on the ship without crowds is when everyone else goes ashore! I do recommend a veranda/ balcony so you can sit, read, nap, etc. and watch the sea in privacy. Food is subjective onboard and most cruiselines have cut back in quality since the pandemic. We enjoyed Celebrity cruises because of its restricted smoking policy and fewer children on board. Haven’t been ona cruise since 2019 and thinking about trying it again in a year or two. Covid is still an issue.

      1. Just off a cruise...*

        I second Cruise Critic… the boards/forums tend to attract people who cruise a lot and are happy to answer questions. They have a “category” for each cruise line, that’s where you can find the most detailed info on the lines/ships. The caveat is, like a typical board/forum, the information is loosely organized, so it’s not necessarily the place to go if you just want the information “in a nutshell.” If you do “some” research to be comfortable selecting a cruise, then using the boards/forums on cruise critic to research specifically the cruise/ship/destinations that you have chosen it might be less overwhelming.

        Husband and I are just back from almost two weeks on a cruise starting in California and sailing through the Panama Canal. Have done 5 cruises in 10 years, with other land-based vacations sprinkled in. For us cruising is a good “option” but not the only way to vacation. Our last three cruises have been on Norwegian Cruise Line: their “freestyle” tends to fit our vacation style, and I find they are often overlooked. I have also heard good things about Celebrity which sometimes is also forgotten amongst the other more well-known names (Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Princess, etc.)

        Don’t feel like you have to choose an adults-only line just because you don’t have kids… lots of people cruise without kids (my husband actually likes to see kids around having fun, even when we travel as just a couple).

        Several cruise lines have “private islands” in the Caribbean that might be a good option if your husband doesn’t want to get off the ship. It gives you an opportunity to go ashore but still stay in the “cruise bubble” so to speak.

        Do be prepared for motion sickness – I get this on a cruise even though no other travel bothers me.There are lots of options for dealing with this (meclazine, scopalamine, etc.).

        Have fun planning and cruising!

    6. SofiaDeo*

      My first cruise, the agent spent a good deal of time asking questions about what we liked, etc. So go with an agent’s recommendations, instead of “oh I saw this advertisement”. My mother and I had a lovely time on Celebrity, we were foodies and more into adult activities. A few years after that, a friend who prefers quieter “adult only” settings somehow got onto a Carnival boat loaded with kids and adults wanting Las Vegas Casino style fanfare 24/7. IDK who does what nowadays, so I can’t recommend a particular company anymore. My only caveat for Any vessel: if you are a light sleeper, or want to nap a lot in your cabin, avoid rooms right next to a stairwell. They are noisier.

      1. KatEnigma*

        The noisier next to the stairs/elevator isn’t true on Disney. *shrug* I guess because they know it will be filled with noisy kids, they insulated them better?

    7. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I had zero interest in a cruise until I learned a favorite musician has a music-themed cruise every year, with a lineup of many artists. We went and had a wonderful time. Instead of sitting around eating, drinking, and getting sunburned, we spent the whole time going from one performance to the next in various venues on the ship. Some were outside, some inside. We got to know several artists we never would have otherwise. That particular cruise was to Jamaica, and we got off the ship for the day, but I could have done without it; If we do it again, I would probably stay on the ship. The cruise line was Norwegian, and I thought it was great. The food was good, the room was comfortable, and the service was good, too. We’ll probably go again in a few years.

      1. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        “Sixthman” is the name of the booking agency. I thought they did a great job, too.

    8. WestsideStory*

      I was new to cruises till I met Mr Westside, a veteran of the Caribbean ships. Some first timer tips:

      – I find I enjoy the smaller boats (less people and the staff get to know you

      – make sure the boat has an “adults only” pool area and consider going during the school year. When you want to chill you do not want other peoples kids running around your chaise

      – pack at least 2 swimsuits and something for a formal night if that’s advertised. We love our photos in tux and slinky glittery gown!

      – if you like more than the occasional cocktail spring for the drinks package. Much better to pay up front than get s bad surprise later!

      – the cabin with the outdoor private deck is always worth it. Sometimes you can upgrade prior to the trip for less money

      – pay attention to the instructions and where the life boats and life jackets are – don’t blow that off, you’ll feel more comfy.

      – last thing is if you can leave locally rather than flying to your departure port that makes a more relaxing experience

      – have fun!

      1. WestsideStory*

        Oh yea – tip the staff first day, and nicely. You will get more VIP treatment and your glass will never be empty!

    9. Can't wait to do it again*

      Whatever cruise you pick, check the registration of the company. If it is American you have a better chance of the medical staff taking your insurance if you get sick. We did not know that but was very happy we were on an American tour when I injured my hip and needed care for the last 5 days of a multiple day cruise.
      My husband called our insurance company and that was one of the first questions they asked.
      I ended up in a borrowed wheelchair, got pretty good pain meds, and completed the tour.
      They gave me enough pain meds to make it home. My husband was great! He pushed that chair everywhere!
      Current brain fog – can’t remember the name of the cruise line…let from Porta Rico and was 11 day 10 nights in the eastern Caribbean. Shore trips were great but so was the on-board entertainment…shows and activities each night all inclusive. Great food.

    10. EJ*

      I just booked an Alaska cruise out of Vancouver! If you want amazing scenery without getting off the ship that could be an option.

      I agree with carnival line having a las vegas feel with the decor and party atmosphere. I won’t do it again but many people love it.

      More than the cruise line, read about the specific ship. The entertainment and amenities can vary significantly ship to ship.

  18. Lunch Ideas*

    Lunches! What are you making to bring to work/school?

    I’m looking for more ideas for low effort, budget friendly lunches (and breakfasts!) that aren’t just lunch meat sandwiches and salads. For example this week sausage and English muffins were on sale by me. So I have homemade sausage McMuffins and English muffin pizzas. I’ve done “adult lunchables,” tacos, a tomato soup based pasta thing, etc. in the past. Not the biggest fan of soups/stews. I only prep for myself and usually do 3 days at a time as my schedule varies.

    So AAM community… what are your suggestions and go-tos?

    1. Emma*

      The budget bytes website has a ton of meàl prep lunch ideas. Just search budget bytes meal prep and you should see them!

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Look up Rukmini Iyer’s cookbooks (or recipes available online) and see if you like the look of them. They’re almost all recipes that call for throwing ingredients into an oven dish and sitting back until all is ready. I love them for speed and ease (when I don’t have much energy to cook a more elaborate meal), and they make batch cooking for lunches ahead so simple too.

    3. Stitch*

      I make a big batch of rice and beans and eat that over a couple days with whatever I have around (like tomatoesor leftover guac). I do work from home, however. Depending on thr toppings it could travel.

    4. E*

      What about grain bowls? I roast different veggies, make hard boiled eggs, chickpeas/beans, and quinoa or rice and a dressing. Then just assemble and they’re pretty portable if you have good Tupperware

    5. Puzzled*

      I eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. And often bananas (I peel them and cut them up to fit in my lunch container) or other easy to pack fruits that aren’t too juicy (like grapes, strawberries, tangerines, or blue berries). A lot of times I will put various types of frozen veggies into my lunch container (it’s divided into three spaces) and mix in some salt or a generous helping of shredded cheese.

      I eat a lot of hardboiled eggs for breakfast. Also Eggo waffles and pancakes, and low sugar cereal (like Kix or Cheerios).

    6. Sunshine*

      If you are a Costco person…. They have yummy soup. A two pack (each container is 2-3 servings). If there is a fridge at work you can just leave a container there.
      Also they have a couple good salads.

    7. Stunt Apple Breeder*

      Sometimes I make a batch of homemade mac and cheese and bake it in individual-sized Pyrex bowls. I would bet that chicken and rice casserole would work this way, too, if you used precooked chicken. Maybe you could change up the chicken casserole by using buttermilk biscuits from a tube or other toppings on each bowl?

      If you want to try a special-looking dessert, you could bake apple roses in smaller Pyrex bowls. I bought a pack of 6 half-cup sized ones that work perfectly. The recipe is called Baked Apple Roses at All Recipes dot com.

    8. BookMom*

      We’ve been on a kick with overnight oats for lunches lately. I make them the night before in a small thermos (to go direct into backpack) or in a mason jar (to go in an insulated lunch bag with ice pack.) 1/4 c steel cut oats, 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup fresh blueberries, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1 Tbsp sugar or sugar substitute. Stir and refrigerate overnight. I like a hearty lunch and this is filling, and a little different. Many variations possible.

    9. HannahS*

      I require my lunches to be basically no-prep. I used to make really gorgeous rice and salad bowls with tofu, shredded veg, peanut-lime dressing, but with a toddler it’s just not how I’m spending time right now.
      My go-tos:
      Bread/crackers, cheese, fruit
      Leftover lentil soup or chili, bread, fruit.
      My new favourite: bring two raw eggs in a glass container, cook with some cheese into a patty in the microvave, eat as a sandwich on bread or in a tortilla.

    10. Girasol*

      When I was commuting a long way to work I used to make a kettle of hearty soup on Sunday and pour it into five pint jars for the week, and make five jars of smoothie from milk, cottage cheese, fruit, and peanut butter, so I could grab a jar of each every morning for breakfast and lunch.

    11. Tiny clay insects*

      I’ve been eating the same lunch for 2 years now, and it’s kind of weird but it works for me. First I eat an apple and peanut butter (I don’t bother to cut up the apple first, I just slather it with peanut butter as I go), then I eat, mixed together, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame sticks and banana chips. I keep everything but the apple in my office.

    12. Long A*

      I have enjoyed using chickpeas in place of meat / cheese for sandwiches! One is very simple, essentially smashed chickpeas with mayo and sriracha (I keep out the cilantro). The other has smashed chickpeas, tahini, honey, mustard, sunflower seeds, onion etc.

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      99% of my lunches are leftovers, but my favorite low effort non-leftover lunch is kimchi Ramen in a Thermos. In the morning, i put kimchi, miso and hot water in my thermos, mix it up to dissolve, then I add dried Ramen noodles and some peas or edamame. By lunchtime, it’s all soft and hot. Depending on how much water you use, you can make it more or less soupy.
      I usually make a batch of tea eggs every week and pack one for lunch along with the ramen. (Though with the price of eggs these days…)
      Veggie wraps are another of my easy go to lunches. Hummus, cucumber, peppers, radishes. Everything bagel seasoning. All in a tortilla or flat bread. (And regardless of what i pack for lunch, I always bring two pieces of fruit, cut up veggies, and some mixed nuts to round out my lunch and for snacks)
      My other go to involves a bit of prep, but is super easy to assemble- kale salads. I make a batch of massaged kale, and roast some sweet potatoes. In the morning, I throw some kale and potatoes together with pepitas (or sunflower seeds), an avocado, dried cranberries and cheddar cheese. (Or whatever else I have in the fridge or pantry.)
      Dumplings/potstickers are also an easy lunch to prep in the mornings. Also put it in a thermos to stay warm til lunchtime.
      On days when I’m really rushed, my lunch is often an avocado sprinkled with everything seasoning or furikake, a tea egg, fruit, cut up veggies, and mixed nuts.

  19. Aphrodite*

    Do others find cooking tedious as you get older, sufficiently so that you are coming to depend more and more on prepared foods like TJ’s prepared salads or their “homemade” chicken pot pie?

    I love preparing and eating breakfast; it is definitely my favorite meal of the day but if I ever won the lottery the first (and one of the few things I’d change in my life) is hiring a private chef to do it all. I’d give her favorite recipes and foods but also tell her to go for it and surprise me a lot, with a few exceptions for stuff I cannot stand to eat or even look at.

    1. lam*

      Cooking is a necessary evil for me. Hiring a personal chef is also on my list if I ever won the lotto. I rely a lot on premade chicken breast from my grocery store (because I can’t even be bothered with the bones from a rotisserie chicken half the time). I can shred and doctor up… they just season with salt and pepper. It’s an expense I consider well worth it. If I’m feeling super lazy I’ll get their shawarma chicken breast and mix with a bag of Uncle Ben’s roasted chicken microwave rice and call it a day.

      (Second is a standing 2x week appointment at a hair salon for a wash and blow out. I hate washing my hair almost as much as I hate cooking).

    2. Rhiannon*

      I can so relate. As I age, household chores in general, including cooking, just seem so tedious. A big part of it for me is the cleanup after cooking; just so repetitive and boring. Don’t know where this has come from, so just wanted to say, I hear ya!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I have no idea what happened to me, I’m getting worse about housework, not better! Life just seems so short, and cleaning takes forever (because I’m not staying on top of it). I keep trying to remind myself that I am bothered by my messy house! Cleaning should be like self-care! (… ain’t happening yet).

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Definitely. It’s just me, so I tend more to snack than make proper meals. This week I bought a rotisserie chicken and stripped it to make an excellent chicken salad with a half of an apple diced up, slivers almonds and a mix of Greek yogurt and mayo. With crackers it was delicious. I don’t even really bother with bread since it usually goes before I even eat half of it. I even switched to longer life milk. It’s a little more expensive but I’ll usually use all of it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I buy a loaf of good fancy bread, bring it home, and immediately pop half of it in the freezer for toast later. It goes off too fast for me to finish it.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I’m the opposite. I’ve always liked cooking, but a lot of it was utilitarian cooking to feed my family. Eating out or buying prepared food was a change of flavors, and a treat.

      Now I feel like most restaurant- or prepared food just doesn’t taste as good to me or feel as good physically as food I prepare myself. Unless I pay a lot of money or really go out of my way, there aren’t a lot of flavor surprises out there anymore, and most of the “comfort” foods I used to order aren’t as exciting as they used to be.

      I almost never order in or buy prepared food anymore, and I like to eat out mostly for the experience of being in a restaurant with friends rather than for the food itself. Also, I really like craft cocktails.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The brilliance of my farm stand’s prepared meals was that they concentrated on things like casseroles–stuff that serves a lot of people and cooks for a long time, which are inconvenient when it’s just one of you or you want something fast.

        e.g. I love moussaka, but no one else in my family does. So buying one slice for my lunch is ideal.

      2. Pippa K*

        I’ve gotten like this with baking – store-bought cakes or cookies or rolls just don’t taste as good as the ones I can make, and I’ve come to enjoy it as a craft.

        Also with you on the craft cocktails, but we do a bit of that at home now too. Our beloved local bar/restaurant held a couple of barrel-aged cocktail classes a few years ago, and it was a lot of fun. A distillery would send a rep to talk about their liquor (and provide branded swag) and the very talented bartender would put together a recipe-menu of different cocktails and supply all the ingredients. Participants would taste and mix and experiment, then assemble a small barrel of a mixed cocktail to take home and age. Educational! Delicious!

    5. Sloanicota*

      I live alone and the effort of cooking fancy meals, or ESPECIALLY the cleanup, has really put me off cooking. I just try to eat healthy snacks, like whole fruits, hardboiled eggs, stuff like that.

    6. Courageous cat*

      I used to love it in my 20s and find it close to unbearable now in my mid-30s. It’s very weird. Past boiling water for pasta or something, I’ve probably cooked a total of 2-3 times this past year.

      It’s probably partially because I’m single too with a very small kitchen. I would do anything for a private chef. I’d be eating SO much more healthily too.

      1. rr*

        I love to cook and bake, but right now, by the end of the week, I usually don’t even want to get takeout/order delivery. I want to open a bag of tortilla chips, pour salsa on it, and be done. Unfortunately, I usually can’t manage to stay away from chips to save them for when I need them, so, no chips when I do need them.

        I haven’t figured out a good workaround for this, since it clearly requires better self-control than I have.

    7. Firebird*

      Cooking for one has become such a boring chore. I end up up with so many leftovers that don’t freeze well or take up too much space and I’m tired of doing dishes.

      I’ve been living on frozen burritos and tortilla wraps and salads for the last couple of years. Throwing extra vegetables and lentils into canned soups to bulk them up helps give me some variety.

      I would like to cut down on grain products, which means cutting out the burritos and tortillas, but I can’t think of anything easy to eat instead.

    8. Aphrodite*

      I’m so glad to hear there are others like me. I love looking through my speciality cookbooks because I can “taste” the food as I read the recipes. And oddly, when I look at a single recipe I realize it’s not hard nor especially timely but I can no longer make myself want to go to the trouble.

      I try to still eat healthy even if I am only partially successful. Ease is more important–and I agree cleaning up afterwards is a big part of that–so sometimes I try to find shortcuts while staying on the good side. One thing I do in the warmer months is stick to sandwiches for dinner. I like the round package of diced vegetables at TJ’s that I mix with their canned salmon (or tuna), add mustard, capers, scallions, mayonnaise, Caesar salad dressing, a couple of spicy sauces and maybe a gently sauteed egg or two (with soft yolk). This stretches the salmon to about three times what it would otherwise be and adds a hefty dose of vegetables to it. It’s some work but there’s no cutting of vegetables or cooking and mashing of salmon. For me, it seems to becoming all about convenience but hopefully healthy convenience. Same with tortilla chips to which I add the vegetarian ground round, canned beans and all the toppings for a great nanchos dish.

    9. marvin*

      It’s funny because having a private chef sounds like hell to me. I like to cook for myself in large part because only I know how to make things the way I like them (this often goes beyond ingredients into specific preparation techniques). I’m starting to wonder if this is a coping mechanism for sensory stuff for me. I feel you in the sense that it takes a lot of time and effort, but I’d much rather spend less time working so that I could enjoy cooking more.

    10. carcinization*

      I consider myself old, and cooking is now stress relief for me after doing it for decades. Even after coming home from work, as long as I’m only semi-exhausted and not completely exhausted, mise en place and making dinner calms me down, I’m assuming because it’s a far different type of task than my job duties. As for prepared salads, I might buy one for lunch once or twice a year from the grocery store, and… I’ve made my own chicken pot pie a few times but haven’t had one from a store since I was a child. I am afraid of grocery store rotisserie chicken because it gave myself and my husband horrible food poisoning the last time we got one (5-10 years ago), and my mom had a similar experience with one from a different store around the same time. I’d be willing to try the private chef experience, it sounds fun, but it’d be an occasional treat for me, not an always thing. Of course I realize that once I’m even older I may change my tune, there are physical activities I used to enjoy that I can no longer do, so I realize things can change over time!

    11. Not A Manager*

      On the other side of this: I’ve been staying at various friends’ houses for the past few weeks. They have been lovely, shared their meal with me and/or I’ve eaten out with people. Today I just checked into a chain hotel that provides a small kitchenette with the bedroom. The first thing I did was go buy dinner ingredients, and now I have a lovely chicken-vegetable soup for dinner with tiny pasta in it, and plenty of leftovers for the week.

      As I prepped the veggies and sautéed them, I could feel the tension escaping from my back and shoulders. And I feel so much more… secure? knowing that I have a meal that I will enjoy sitting the fridge for whenever I want it.

    12. Samwise*

      Nope, I love cooking, it’s fun and relaxing for me most of the time.

      The last couple of years I have been doing virtually all of the food prep, however, and so sometimes it’s exhausting have to figure out dinner (the prep is not the issue— it’s having to think about it and make decisions). Sometimes I announce that tomorrow’s dinner is fend for yourself. (And I make myself eggs in purgatory with a super spicy sauce and garlicky toast. )

    13. Fellow Traveller*

      After my brother and I left home, my parents started eating out a lot more. My mom said to me, “There are so many things I do better than cooking, and there are so many great restaurants near us, why should I spend time making food?”
      And they do live in an area where restaurants are cheap, tasty, *and* healthy.

    14. Chaordic One*

      I continue to enjoy cooking and I think I enjoy it more now than I did when I was younger. OTOH, I’ve noticed that elderly parents really do not like doing it any more and I’m worried about them. They seem to be relying more on frozen and supermarket deli foods. Part of it seems to be that they are having trouble taking care of themselves and are no longer as physically able to do so and they find cooking physically tiring. My sister and I each cook a dinner once a week, and we hired a housekeeper who cooks makes lunch once or twice a week, and who cooks dinner once or twice week.

  20. Data/Lore*

    I wrote last week about our district’s gifted program lacking a social studies component to replace the actual class mainstream kids weee getting. Our district is incredible, as within 2 days of us expressing our concerns the middle school rewrote the program and schedules for all the 7th & 8th grade kids to provide them with both gifted classes *and* a social studies class to ensure they were not entering high school unprepared. Our elder chaos gremlin was happy with the resolution (even if some of the other kids weren’t).

    Separately, anyone else out there suffering the side effects of steroids? First course in almost a year and I’m almost through it, but the side effects have gotten worse over time and I don’t know if steroids are a sustainable treatment for me anymore. Fluid retention has been pretty bad this time around.

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Dude, I am so sorry about the steroids. I cannot do steroids any more unless it’s a dire emergency (I am extremely allergic to poison ivy in that I start to have breathing problems if I get it on more than a very tiny area). I hate steroids, I get so agitated and cannot sleep at all, I have to be prescribed strong sedatives to even get through the day. It’s like restless body syndrome or something. I have not had poison ivy in a decade (knock on wood) because I so scrupulously avoid it in order to escape needing to be treated for it.

      I’m so sorry for the edema! I hope you find something that helps it move out fast. Maybe a lymphatic massage if you can swing one, and dry brushing (even with a dry washcloth or those exfoliating gloves if you have them) can help move things for you. Compression socks, elevation, avoiding foods that don’t agree with you? But I bet mostly what you need is to finally be done with this course of them.

      I knew a woman who’d had many lymph nodes removed for breast cancer, and had to do manual lymph drainage every day – except on the days she did aerial yoga! The hammock/aerial silks did it for her. I offer that as a potentially fun option depending on your access, interest, and ability.

      Good luck from a fellow steroid-sufferer.

    2. anxiousGrad*

      That reminds me of when I was in 8th grade and the gifted support class was scheduled at the same time as home economics. Good thing I already knew how to sew, I guess?

      As for steroids, I was just diagnosed with secondary adrenal insufficiency on Monday. The crazy thing is that I’ve never even taken oral steroids, but there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with my pituitary gland, so the cause must be that I’ve been on inhaled corticosteroids for asthma since I was 3. I’m really having trouble wrapping my head around getting a disease from the treatment for another disease. And I feel so blindsided by this, because I never knew that inhaled corticosteroids could have systemic effects. Anyway, I’m sorry you’re suffering, too, and I hope whatever you’re taking steroids for gets better.

    3. carcinization*

      I had a random old-person shoulder injury a few months back and was prescribed a steroid I’d never taken before (dexamethasone rather than prednisone). I had a pretty horrible experience with it that lasted for days after I quit taking it… hard to describe but it went way beyond chest pain and tightness, I really wasn’t myself in an extremely unpleasant way, and that was after going down to only half of the dose after the first couple of days. I talked to my primary care doctor about it afterward (it’d been prescribed by an urgent care staff member) and he said that one in particular tends to “dump a lot of adrenaline into the bloodstream.” So I’m never taking that one again!

  21. Merp*

    I’m curious about the experience of those who served on a jury.

    Do you feel that everyone took their duties seriously? Was there equal or at least equal-ish input from all jurors or did you have a dominant personality taking charge and exerting greater influence on everyone else? After being on a jury do you feel this is a fair and functional system to attain justice?

    Anything else you want to share upon reflection?

    1. Hiring Mgr*

      About thirty years ago I served on a Grand jury, which is a three month commitment that you couldn’t get out of (there was a bank president and doctor in my group) As you may know all a GJ does is decide whether to indict someone or not, and you hear only from the prosecution.

      Talk about a rubber stamp. In terms of taking it seriously, the first few days we were all at rapt attention, by week 2 we were reading the paper during the proceedings.

      But overall it was a cool and interesting experience. I had just graduated college and didn’t have a job yet so for me it was ideal :)

      1. Bibliovore*

        I had an opposite experience on Grand Jury in Brooklyn. I would say that 85% of the cases we declined to indict.
        The police testimonies were laughably false-
        Here’s some advice-
        NEVER change lanes or make a turn without signaling
        every-time you get in your car if you are a person of color driving at night take a picture of tail lights on.
        Almost every traffic stop was for a broken tail light.
        AND.
        If an officer asks you ANYTHING decline to answer.

          1. Bibliovore*

            Sir, do you have any fire arms in your car?
            Sir, do you have any illegal substances in your car?
            Sir, are you on any illegal substance at this time.
            Sir, may I search your vehicle? – ‘no’

            A broken tail light is not cause for suspicion to trigger a search.

            If a police officer asks you to step out of a car, do so.
            Decline to answer any questions without the presence of a lawyer.
            Be polite. Do what is asked.
            Do NOT speak.
            Of course this advice is only from the other side in one district of NY state.
            Keep safe.

            1. Clisby*

              There’s an interesting YouTube video called “Don’t Talk to the Police”, where a law professor discusses this very thing.

        1. Hiring Mgr*

          That’s interesting…this was in Boston in 1991 and we indicted 99% of the cases. As you might guess the VAST majority of cases were drugs/gang violence with minority defendants and the GJ, cops and DAs were all white (again, Boston..). The only time we didn’t, the prosecutors came back in and asked us to think it over some more – I don’t think that would fly today!

          1. Bibliovore*

            I am thinking that this was in the 2000’s post 911. A lot of security. A lot of waiting around. Most of the cases were drug busts and/or weapons that were found in vehicles (glove boxes) a bag of a “weedy substance”
            The saddest most interesting one was an old man who beat up another old man after he was asked to stop blocking a driveway to a parking garage.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      I would answer yes to most of your questions. Everyone took it seriously and did their best. Not everyone was gifted with the same amount of common sense, however.

      Ours was a case without any physical evidence. (But testimony was evidence, as the prosecutor reminded us.). We had a difficult time coming to an agreement. I felt that the defendant had an inexperienced lawyer (assume it was a public defender), and it bothered me that if he had a better lawyer we probably would not have convicted him, or had a hung jury at least. (The defense attorney signaled during voir dire that she wasn’t going to have the defendant testify, but she put two defense witnesses on the stand who came across as not credible. She then put the defendant on the stand and he was very not credible.). We all believed he did it but were divided on whether there was enough evidence for the prosecution to have proved its case. So if he had a different lawyer who did not have him testify we probably would have acquitted and that would have bothered me too, I guess. It’s a big responsibility and I found it quite stressful. I think it’s the worst system except for all the others.

    3. Manders*

      I was a juror for a murder trial about a year ago, and a robbery/kidnapping/assault trial in 2015. In both cases I would say that that’s a group of 12 people who will never, ever be in the same room again because they have nothing in common. In the murder trial, I was going to offer to be foreperson but a somewhat crazy lady beat me to it. The foreperson doesn’t really do anything, really. Like Old and Don’t Care said, everyone takes it seriously, but not everyone has common sense. We had 2 people that decided the person was guilty, and refused to discuss why. Like, at all. Just “I know he’s guilty”. We had 4 people who initially said guilty but after a bit of discussion switched to not guilty because there wasn’t really any evidence. I love being a juror and would like to do it more often. I think it’s a good way to be involved in the community and the judicial process, and it’s really different than my day job so it’s interesting to see all of that.

      1. Buni*

        We had a “He’s guilty because I’ve decided he looks guilty” in my intake; we reported him to the court and he was removed.

      2. Manders*

        I ran into one of the prosecutors at the Home Depot about a week after the trial, and we stood in the parking lot and chatted about the case for probably 30 minutes. He had lots of questions about the jurors, and was very surprised to hear who the two were who found in his favor – definitely not the two he assumed!

    4. AnonForThis*

      It’s interesting because I will never be on a jury (no defense attorney would ever let me on a jury because I interned for a prosecutor) but I’ve sat through voir dire and trials as a few times as a clerk and intern. The reality is the month long trials are super rare, even murder trials are usually wrapped up in a few days. People will say all sorts of stuff in voir dire and we would always pay close attention to how people reacted to things.

      I actually don’t know how most juries resist the urge to discuss the case and I’m also sure resisting the urge to Google the case is hard too.

      A friend of mine did end up on the jury for a long high profile case and it was really quite awful for her (4 months). I know she took it really seriously but it was draining.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I have a close relative who has worked in the court system for judges for decades and they get called for jury duty. Your intern stint wouldn’t matter at all.

        1. AnonForThis*

          My state also excludes licensed practicing attorneys from jury duty, so I’m excluded legally. But I also have two close family members who are prosecutors. The internship was all of 2L, I was set up to follow in the family footsteps but pivoted. I was a defense attorney, I’d strike me based on my biographical info.

          But again, I don’t even have to go. I just check a box that I’m an attorney and hey excused.

          Frankly I wouldn’t want to be on a jury because I think as an attorney I’d have to be very cautious of both not over influencing the jury and not answering any legal questions (those must be answered by the judge). It’s just ethically tricky. For that reason while I technically COULD waive the auto exclusion based on being an attorney I have no plans on doing so.

    5. the cat's ass*

      One of the things about my previous Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends was their support of Jury Duty, to the point that they paid for the time off from a separate fund! As an NP i mostly get dinged from cases, so when i was selected i was kind of surprised. And as they’re empaneling a jury, you’ve gotta sit there and watch folks desperately try to get out of it! I was then astounded to be elected the foreperson. It was a 2 week case for wrongful termination and we ultimately found for the employee who was in fact wrongfully terminated. I really enjoyed the process and paid close attention and took notes. A few of my fellow jurors did zone out a bit but i found the whole thing very interesting and am still in touch with one of my fellow jurors 20 years later!

    6. Elizabeth*

      I have served on two juries. The first ended in a mistrial before testimony was done, because the defendant had to be remanded to a psychiatric facility.

      The second was a domestic abuse case where I ended up as the foreperson (11 women, 1 man). I asked each juror to give us their thoughts about each charge prior to voting, and when someone started to interrupt another juror, I asked them to please hold that thought. I was the last one to speak, and then we voted. Guilty on 2 counts, not guilty on 2 counts, unanimous on each vote.

      We took it extremely seriously, because we watched a multi-generational family torn apart by the trial. It was hard for them, so it was important that we get it right.

    7. GoryDetails*

      (In the US): I’ve been called to jury duty twice – the first time I wasn’t selected at all, so I just spent a couple of days reading in the waiting room and an hour or two in the jury-selection room.

      The second time I did get chosen, and we sat through a day or so of testimony – relatively low-stakes case, stolen vehicle, no bodily harm. I found it interesting that all of us seemed pretty well focused on our duty-as-instructed: we thought the defendant very likely did commit the theft, but the prosecution’s evidence wasn’t at all decisive and there was a good window of opportunity for someone else to have done it, so we were prepared to acquit. And then the defendant took a deal and we didn’t have to do anything, so there was that!

      I don’t know how I’d have responded to a very long trial, or to one in which the crime was especially heinous and the stakes very high; I hope I’d have continued to focus on the evidence, but I can see getting exhausted to the point where I didn’t care anymore.

      Is this the best method of providing justice? Probably not, though if a trial-by-peers is accompanied by *effective* counsel and *fair* jury selection it’s probably better than most.

    8. Don'tbeadork*

      I’m not sure how my experience would compare to the others, as I served at a US District case. It was there because one of the parties was a foreign national. Not a criminal case, though — one person was suing the other for damages after a car accident. It was short — three days — and I felt everyone was taking it very seriously.

      We had pretty equal input, I thought. We ended up unanimous in our decision, although there was one person who held out a while. I think they weren’t really clear on our reasoning, but after a couple of people asked them some questions and clarified what we were thinking, they did agree with us.

      I think it can be very fair, but I also think it can pretty dysfunctional depending on the jury pool available. And I think we need to improve the jury duty pay so fewer people try to get out of the duty. If my choice is $16/day on a jury or my full hours (assuming I’m hourly), of course I’m going to try to get out of duty.

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      I’ve served on a jury twice, once in a criminal case and once in a civil case. I did feel that everyone on the jury took it seriously.

      The civil case settled out of court just before we started deliberations, so I never got to discuss it with the others, and I wish I could have seen how it played out. I thought the plaintiff was an idiot who had absolutely no case, but a couple of passing comments from the others as we were leaving made me think I was the only one. We had spent a few hours in the jury room talking about everything except the obvious, and I did think there were a couple of dominant personalities that might have taken over.

      The criminal case was really a positive experience. We were sent to deliberate after two days of testimony, and after the bailiff left, a silence fell over the room as I think it hit everybody what an important decision we were about to make. We acquitted. I made a mental note of the defense attorney’s name in case I ever needed one, because I was impressed. (Interestingly, that same day, they were starting voir dire on an extremely high profile murder case that you have probably heard of if you’re into true crime. We were technically still in the jury pool so we could have been in it! Yikes.)

    10. RMNPgirl*

      I served on a civil case when I was 20 that lasted a week. We had a 6 member jury for that and we all got along well and had no problems coming to a decision.
      I was called one other time and had to show up but was dismissed before getting to voir dire.
      Overall, I do think it can be a fair and functional system but there are situations and times/places where it might not be. But I’m not sure what would be a better system.
      I personally would love to serve on more juries, I don’t understand people who want to get out of it (except for cases in which it’s a hardship). I wish there was a way to sign up in a database as a “willing juror” that the courts could pull from.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I think it’s a hardship for almost everyone — loss of pay, transportation, childcare, work piling up while you’re gone — pretty much everyone I know who has been summoned is affected by one of those. And way too many people are barely making their lives work — the disruption of jury duty can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. (I’ve sat through the voir dire process twice, but both times the jury was empaneled before my name came up.)

        1. Sabine the Very Mean*

          I was once plucked off the street while walking to class when no one showed up for Jury Duty and the judge sent bailiffs out to force people to go to selection that day. The judge was angry and the experience was awful and having to serve again would trigger that day for me for sure.

        2. Mimmy*

          I definitely respect the process and, when done well, I think serving on a jury could be an interesting experience. My husband served on a federal criminal case a few years ago and said it was really fascinating.

          However, I agree that Jury Duty can be disruptive. First, sometimes you don’t even have to report (you find out the night before). This can be a pain when you specifically took time off from work. And that was when the term of service was one day. This past summer, I got a summons stating that my term of service was “1 week or 1 trial”, but you didn’t know what day you had to report until the end of the prior week (because of the pandemic, they wanted to spread things out so that there’s not too many people in the courthouse at one time). Because the program where I work is structured, we have to notify the assistant when we’ll be out so that she can arrange the schedules accordingly. Not knowing what day I was supposed to report was really frustrating. I ended up not having to report after all.

          Not quite related but I also don’t think the process is accessible for people with disabilities (I have both vision and hearing disabilities). When I was summoned in 2015, I wrote to the court with the accommodations I needed. One the day I reported, my number was called and found that the jury questionnaire was not in a format I could easily see. It was also very hard to hear when the case was being presented.

          1. Ginger Baker*

            Can I ask what would make the form workable for you? (I sometimes have to print similar things that groups need to see who may have visual disabilities I would not be aware of beforehand.)

      2. Nopity Nope*

        Where I live (New York state) you can ABSOLUTELY volunteer for jury duty. Try searching for info on where you live—you might be surprised.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      I sat on a jury once and it was a good experience. Everyone on the jury was really thoughtful and took it seriously and tried to be fair and follow the judge’s instructions.

    12. Clisby*

      I have served on 2 juries and been called for 2 other court terms but didn’t get chosen for a jury. These were in Ohio, Georgia, and SC. I think the jurors did take their job seriously.

      I also did not get the impression that the lawyers want unintelligent jurors. I’ve heard many times, “Oh, the lawyers don’t want smart people on the jury.” Yes, they do.

      In my area of SC, the drama of the Murdaugh Murders trial is going on – likely not familiar to non-USians, but this case has gotten a lot of attention. The judge went through two or three rounds of questioning jurors, and I think each time when he asked who had heard of the cases, everybody raised their hands. A prominent local defense attorney not involved in the case was interviewed, and he said, “I wouldn’t want a juror who hadn’t heard of this case. That would mean they probably haven’t heard of anything.”

    13. FashionablyEvil*

      I served on a jury in a criminal trial the better part of 15 years ago. Most people took it seriously, although there was one juror who dozed off at one point and had to be nudged to stay awake.

      I still think about that trial a lot—I watched the police lie on the stand (at the very best, all I can say is that their testimony was flatly contradicted by the physical evidence) and even though I do think the defendant was guilty (and I voted to convict), I really wish I hadn’t. Turned out that it was the guy’s third felony conviction, one of which was for stealing a car was 18, and this one, which was a rather clumsy attempt at armed robbery in which no one was hurt, and only a cheap cell phone was lost. He’s serving a life sentence and the police who behaved so egregiously are, I assume, still on the job.

      1. Manders*

        In the case I was on, the detective taped over the surveillance tape with an episode of Letterman (!). Then he arrested the wrong guy, perjuring himself in the process and he’s now a convicted felon for that. The wrongfully convicted guy spent almost a decade in prison. Fast forward 25+ years and the only evidence in all of this was a fingerprint on a beer can at the scene. Nevermind that there were 3 other sets of prints on this beer can in a public place. That’s it. That was the whole case.

    14. Glazed Donut*

      I served on a jury around 2019 or so. It was a car accident/injury case in federal court because the parties were from two different states. I hear federal pays more than state, and we had lunch provided each day, so that was nice.
      My jury was such a mix of individuals–I was in my mid-20s and the most educated but also the youngest. Some people (like myself) missed work, and others worked the night shift, so they were really tired. At least one man fell asleep for most of the proceedings, but no one said or did anything about it. Not everyone took it seriously. A few people entered the jury room and said “eh I’ll agree with what you all say.”
      The case asked the question: Is this person’s injury the result of a fender bender? It was hard because two doctors–from respected local hospitals–testified with opposite conclusions. In the end, we said we weren’t 100% sure that the injury was a result of the accident, and erred on the side of NOT having the person pay for the million dollars that was requested.
      I think the wildest part to me came after we decided she wasn’t guilty for the injuries. One person in the room was *adamant* that because the prosecution asked for a million dollars, we couldn’t just give a thousand (because that made us look bad??). I had to explain to him that “pain and suffering” isn’t itemized like a receipt and they just picked that dollar amount out of thin air (they could have said five million! or 100k!). We had her pay for the ER bill only.
      After the trial ended, the prosecution lawyer’s assistant messaged me on Facebook for feedback. That made me really uncomfortable; I left her on read.
      I’d definitely do it again (although I fear anything like a murder/rape/child abuse case; I don’t want to see evidence over and over again for those). I was really fascinated by the human aspect of it all, and it was interesting to interact with people I’ll never see again.

    15. Civic Duty*

      I’ve been on four juries, in spite of being an attorney at a law enforcement agency. One murder trial, one attempted murder, one wrongful termination (nine week trial!), and a criminal grand jury for 18 months. Our forepersons were responsible and reasonable. No one was a dictator; everyone listened respectfully to others in deliberations. Although the jurors were friendly and talked during breaks, we never discussed the cases. Everyone took their roles very seriously in deliberations and out. I was heartened to see that, and although I disagreed with the outcome of one trial, I did think the process fair and just. (Note: I only deliberated in two of the cases; in one I was an alternate, and in another there was a plea deal just before the case would have come to us.) I was eager to be on a jury at first, but I think after four juries I’ve done my civic duty. Also it can take an emotional toll on you. In one case everyone lied under oath, even the victim, which disgusted me. And for months after the murder trial, every stain on the sidewalk looked like blood to me. (Hung jury, btw; same result in the repeat trial. Defendant had been in jail so long by that point that she had served as much time as she would have for manslaughter, which it probably was, so they gave up.)

    16. Chaordic One*

      I’m not really sure if everyone took their duties seriously or not. I couldn’t tell. No was blatantly goofing off of behaving badly. The jury was a diverse group of people of various ages, genders, and races. I would say that about half of the jurors were actively engaged and talked about the case and asked questions of each other in the jury room, while the other half seemed interested and were paying attention, but they didn’t say very much. The case involved a fairly low-stakes petty crime with the caveat that person charged would be deported if they were found guilty. Several jurors brought attention to inconsistencies in the testimony of the witnesses of the crime. It kind of sounded like they (the witnesses) were making things up.

      Based on the questionable testimony of the witnesses and there being no security video footage, we, the jury, unanimously felt that there was reasonable doubt as to whether the accused did or did not commit the crime and we found them not guilty. It is possible that the person was guilty and, if so, they got lucky when the witnesses made up, embroidered or exaggerated their testimony. I don’t think the fact that the person would be deported if found guilty was a factor or not. I didn’t think it was for myself, but I can’t guess about the others.

    17. Anon for this*

      I was in a jury years ago. It started with selection of the chair, then somebody suggested that we take a quick “which way are you leaning” poll. That was agreed to. Most people were leaning one way, one or two were leaning the other. Chaos erupted. Yelling happened. “We are never going to resolve this!” Was shouted and somebody started urging “someone” to call the guy (bailiff?) Because we were clearly a hung jury. That all took under five minutes. The trial had been four days.

      I took over because nobody else was. I basically said, let’s talk about it. Do we agree X happened? If there wasn’t agreement I made people walk through other options. Anything was on the table for options. We walked through the WHOLE thing over about three to four hours with me going through every point, asking if there were other possibilities, if anyone saw anything else, etc. until we came to a verdict.

      It sucked. I hated doing that, but frankly, I was leaning one way, but wasn’t ready to say it WAS that way and I wasn’t going to make a hasty decision because of Drama Llamas, so I made everyone walk through my own logic. Some people stepped up and offered interesting points that hadn’t come up in the lawyers’ discussion points.

      That case I felt was fair. Had I not been there it probably would have been a collosal waste of time, money, and justice.

  22. Lcsa99*

    My husband and I are considering a VRBO in Ocean City, or North Ocean City MD and we’re hoping someone can give us an idea of just how crowded the beach and boardwalk are around the end of June. I am sure the summer will be teeming with people, but before the 4th of July is it still pretty crowded? Or do the crowds mostly come after the holiday?

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Crowded with high school kids on Senior Week. My husband took my daughter and a friend to Ocean City MD at the end of their senior year – I don’t remember if it was early or late June but definitely before July 4th. The beach is fine if you go in the morning – by midafternoon it’s pretty crowded – and the boardwalk gets more crowded as the day and night go on. My kid had a blast and my husband found a good seafood shop and cooked up a storm for himself. He did not spend much time on the beach or the boardwalk.

      If it’s all adults, I prefer Ocean City, NJ or Long Beach Island or Cape May. Less crowded and less attractive to teens. Don’t get me wrong – I love teenagers. I just prefer them sober.

      1. Lcsa99*

        Thus is helpful. Thanks. I googled and it looks like it’s May this year, so we’d likely be ok unless I got bad info.

        1. I don't mean to be rude, I'm just good at it*

          Not sure what you researched, but look for Philly, NYC and all the surrounding areas for senior week. Many schools dismiss at different times.

    2. Ali G*

      Since school will be out it will be pretty crowded. That’s just how it is on the east coast beaches in the summer. Once school is out, all the families got to the beach! I don’t think there will be much difference no matter where you end up. I would book soon, places will fill up shortly.

  23. Petirrojo*

    I just moved back to the US (East Coast), and am having a problem with my rented apartment–namely that the thermostat doesn’t seem to sufficiently “take into account” my bedroom’s temperature. Say the apartment is set to 65: the rest of the apartment, including my roommate’s room, is around that temperature, but walking into my room is like walking into a refrigerator (even though the baseboard heaters turn on at the same time as the rest of the house). I’ve been waking up shivering around 2am every night I’ve slept here–and that’s including three sweaters, fleece underlayers, three blankets, ski socks…I don’t know what the temperature in my room actually is, but I’ve ordered a thermometer to check and should know by tomorrow. But I bet it’s low.

    Once I know the temperature, I’m going to reach out to the landlord. But do you have any tips either as to what could be wrong in my room, what I should or shouldn’t expect the landlord to do, or what I personally could do to make my bedroom habitable? I’m a grad student and don’t have a lot of extra money to invest in this problem on top of purchasing furniture, getting set up, etc.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          Walk around your room with a lit candle or lighter and (carefully!) hold it up to things that could have a draft (edges of windows, baseboards). If the flame bends toward a place there should be no air current, you’ve found your draft.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes, I’m assuming you wouldn’t have specified if you have radiators but same idea. Make sure things aren’t closed off or down.

      2. MuttIsMyCopilot*

        Along this line, duct work can be damaged and leaking or partially blocked somewhere. If your room is furthest from the unit it could also just be that the system isn’t really big enough for the space.

        Depending on what you find and what the landlord is willing to do, insulating film and/or curtains for the windows are easy to install. A space heater or electric blanket, running only when you’re there, would help but increase your electric bill a little. Maybe the landlord would split the cost of something like that to avoid the more expensive investigation of the core issues? For some immediate relief, hot water bottles and microwavable stuffies and buckwheat sacks can be an inexpensive option.

    1. kina lillet*

      Your landlord will probably at max give you a space heater. It’s possible there’s a draft or no insulation, also possible that the baseboard heat was installed poorly and is working inefficiently.

      Definitely take the temperature and talk to your landlord. Provision of heat is taken pretty seriously in most cities in the northeast US.

    2. RagingADHD*

      If it’s a single-paned window, you could be losing heat through the glass even without an air leak. Plastic window film or thermal curtains will help.

      Do you sleep with your bedroom door open or closed? If the air in your room is not recirculating enough, it may not reach the thermostat or exchange heat with the rest of the home. Sometimes heating & cooling systems are calibrated to heat the whole space as one, and a room is shut off it doesn’t work right. Try leaving the door open and see if it helps.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Here’s a silly question, but do you generally keep your bedroom door open or closed? I prefer to sleep with my door closed, but if the room is mostly cooling off during the night, try keeping it as private as you want until you turn off the light, and then open the door as much as you feel comfortable.

      Also, as others have said, check to be sure that floor vents are open, radiators valves are fully open, and that there are no obvious drafts.

    4. just another queer reader*

      I’m so sorry! This sounds so stressful.

      I’d suggest just straight up telling your landlord “it’s [x] degrees in my room. Please come fix it asap.” It should be their problem to solve (both legally and ethically)!

      Also ask them to loan you an electric heater to use until they get the root cause fixed (I’ve had two different landlords do this when the heat went out).

      Check your state and local law about minimum temperature in rentals. In my area most cities set it around 65 or 68 degrees. Just have that knowledge in your back pocket.

      Finally: interim measures – I highly recommend an electric blanket, if you’ve can. It keeps me so warm and cozy. My friend prefers a heated mattress pad, so follow your heart on this one!

      Good luck!

      1. just another queer reader*

        Actually, you know, I wouldn’t wait till you know the temp to reach out to your landlord. I’d contact them right away. You already know it’s uninhabitable.

        The thermometer can be used to monitor progress and ensure that the temperature is in alignment with the law.

      2. AGD*

        Seconding all of this. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to fix it if you cannot safely/comfortably occupy the space. I hope solutions come quickly!

    5. Lemon Cake*

      Is there a thermostatic radiator valve on your bedroom radiator? What’s it set to?

      also have you tried bleeding the rad?

    6. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I live in a smaller building and have access to the boiler room and have had a similar thing. So let me explain what I experienced even though I don’t understand the technical side.

      If the thermostat is set to 67, the heating system basically turns off and the pipes go cold. Even if it’s 20 degrees out and room is in the low 60s. It takes putting the thermostat at or over 70 to trigger it to start working, or if it’s extremely cold (below 30?) it may trigger on around 68/69 degrees.

      In other words, it doesn’t trigger on when the room is one degree below the # on the screen. It takes it going way below that #. In my case, setting it at 65 is akin to turning it off

      1. Sandi*

        Depends on the thermostat. Mine is set to 69 and it kicks on the furnace as soon as the room dips to 68, and the furnace is shut off when it reaches 70.

    7. Alex*

      I have this problem in my bathroom–the ductwork there doesn’t quite work (I think it was a DIY job) and so basically the bathroom has no heat. I leave the door open all the time, and use a space heater when I want to take a shower (a special one designed for bathrooms).

      I’d first check to see whether the vents are closed, if that applies. I used to live in an apartment with the opposite problem, where the bedrooms got BOILING hot while the living room, where the thermostat was, was still cold. I solved this by closing the vent. Maybe previous tenants liked a cool bedroom and closed them.

      Then also, if you can sleep with your door open that could help.

      Also, this sounds obvious but happened to me in an apartment–make sure all your windows are fully closed and locked! My window had slipped down from the TOP, and I hadn’t realized. It was February. Why was my room so cold??? Oh…the f****** window was open..

    8. fhqwhgads*

      There could be less/no insulation on the exterior walls of your room. It’s pretty cheap to get an infrared thermometer online and check the walls. You can also get a pretty cheap multipack of digital thermometers and leave them in various rooms and see the actual temps at the same time.

  24. Bibliovore*

    Feeling a little overwhelmed and trying to take my time.
    The downstairs is empty except for construction stuff and I just realized I need to buy a couch.
    These first things doing alone are overwhelming.
    The vibe is midcentury modern. Light wood. Clean lines.
    A sleeper. (eventually I will be sleeping on it all the time)
    I like feathers and foam for the cushions.
    The last couch I bought was almost 20 years ago. Carlyle in NYC. (the sleeper part was great with a topper- I slept on it for a year after Mr. Bibliovore died)
    I was thinking of having that recovered and moved downstairs but I will still need one upstairs so I was thinking I should get a new one for downstairs.
    (Aging in place)
    I think it might be nuts to get another one- I live in Minnesota.

    So, do you have a sofa you LOVE?
    What do you love about it.
    Who made it and how can I get one?
    Did you buy a sofa and what were your regrets?
    Recommendations for dog proofing?
    If it matters- Queen size
    Tell me everything!

    1. E*

      I like my Article sofa! Mid century modern. Not too pricey, has held up pretty well (I’ve had it for 7 years now and one back cushion is starting to lose a bit of shape but otherwise good). They deliver. I do not have a sleeper but I think they make them

    2. Not A Manager*

      If you’re doing mid-century modern, we’ve gotten nice pieces at different times from Room and Board, West Elm and Design Within Reach. DWR has had some restructuring and they are now offering more frequent and more generous sales than they used to.

      I spent years sleeping part of the year on a sofa bed. The thing about sofa beds, in my opinion, is that usually they are either comfortable to sit on or comfortable to sleep on, but not both. To the extent that you can find one that is both a good sitter and a good sleeper, you will pay a huge premium. The best one we found at the time was American Leather. They didn’t have a visual aesthetic that we especially liked, but the sofa was the most comfortable that we found for long-term sleeping. Most salespeople would say things like, “this sofa is fine for the occasional guest,” which was not our situation.

      You know your own circumstances best, but I’m curious about your plan to eventually sleep on the sofa sleeper consistently. If you’re thinking that you will age in place and won’t climb stairs, wouldn’t it be burdensome to open and close the sleeper every morning and evening? And if you’re planning to keep the sofa open continually, then why not just put a real bed in when you need one?

      I understand about planning in advance, and not wanting to waste good furniture or have to take time and effort in the future, but if it were me I would buy the sofa that I actually like right now, and then looking into sleeping arrangements when the time comes.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I second the idea of putting a real bed in once you plan to sleep in it every night.

        You could “hold” the space for a future bed with a daybed (ideal for naps, works as a second couch). Then you aren’t reconfiguring all the downstairs furniture (which might have expanded to fill the space).

      2. Bibliovore*

        That’s exactly what Mr. Bibliovore would say!

        I am ambiguous? (if that’s the right word)
        I am 62 so my plan for everything is “in the next ten years”
        The downstairs is like an efficiency apartment- I have a porch, a backyard, the fancy new bathroom, laundry room that can have an electric tea kettle, microwave, and (airfryer)
        I have been Swedish death cleaning so as not to leave a mess for other people if something bad happens.
        (I have looked into 55 and older, step up to assisted living places. NO TUBS! yikes)
        If I end up sleeping downstairs area I probably would not open and close everyday but would like the option.
        The Carlyle was good for both and yes was spendy back then but we had lots and lots of guests when we lived in NYC.
        (no one wants to come to Minnesota, go figure)
        I priced a new one and the sticker shock with the shipping was a bit too much for me.
        I live near a Room and Board outlet so that might be a good choice. That’s where we got our bed.
        If I have to choose I would choose the one that is a good couch and an okay bed because I can always pile toppers etc on those.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Are there young people in your family? Because Murphy beds are endlessly fascinating and cool if you know them only from literature.

      2. Not A Manager*

        I like a Murphy bed more than I like a sofa bed, because it’s easy to open and you can use a standard mattress of your choosing. Sometimes you need to get a deeper Murphy box to fit a taller mattress, but otherwise any height mattress that will fit in your box will work on the bed. Also, there are a lot of design options out there, including both traditional and more modern.

        I have had trouble fitting *both* a Murphy bed *and* a regular sofa in the same space, but if your living room can accommodate it, I’d definitely do both. You could get the Murphy bed now for guests, or you could wait until you’re actually planning to use that room as a bedroom.

            1. Chaordic One*

              This is fascinating. I’ve never before seen such a thing. A bit spendy, but maybe worth it if you used it as intended.

              1. Lore*

                It’s really helpful for my parents because the room is a TV room 80 percent of the time and there wouldn’t be room to put a couch and open the Murphy bed if they weren’t combined, but the bed is about 20x easier to operate and more comfortable to sleep on than the sofa bed they had before.

    3. LBD*

      Perhaps customizing the cushions is an option if the couch otherwise works but doesn’t have the foam/feathers you prefer, either from the manufacturer or from a good local upholsterer.
      Firmer squared off back cushions (if those are separate) seem to hold their shape better than softer ones do. Either way, turning or rotating all the cushions helps them wear more evenly.
      Good luck and I hope your future holds many years of good sleep whatever furniture you sleep on!

    4. Rosemary*

      You say you prefer feathers & foam for the cushions – I thought the same, until I bought my current sofa. Pottery Barn, opted for the down cushions because..well, nice and cushy, right? The bottom cushions are fine, but the back cushions…OMG WAY too cushy. They are always smooshed down, don’t have any support, and always look sloppy. Not to say that all down sofas are like this – but definitely something to keep in mind (On another note – it drives me crazy that many of the furniture companies don’t have product reviews)

  25. Green Mug*

    In your experience, how long does it take an older cat to adjust to a kitten?
    We have a 7 year old cat and adopted a kitten a couple of months ago. I kept separated for about a month, fed them on two sides of a gate. I followed the steps recommended by the shelter. At this point, the kitten is free to roam. She is an absolute spitfire, probably the most fun kitten we have ever had. I love the kitten. But my cat…not so much. She still low level growls at the kitten and won’t snuggle with the kitten. Sometimes they bat at each other, but they don’t fight. On the positive side, the cat has a renewed interest in toys and playing and now snuggles with me. I love this cat, and she seems happy, just not happy about being near the kitten. It’s been several years since I’ve introduced a kitten into our house. When will the cat start playing with the kitten and curling up with her? Or, am I expecting too much? Did I just get lucky last time around?

    1. TPS reporter*

      I’ve only adopted adult cats and have had usually 2-4 at once in my house. Only twice did any of them approach snuggling together and that was rare and only between a male and female. The females have never warmed up to each other. They tolerate and they sit near each other, but never a cuddle or a play after years.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      You might have just gotten lucky. I’m in a similar boat with my dogs – when I brought the Ambassador home as a puppy, my Elder Statesdog (who has now gone beyond) was super chill and loved puppies, so they were cuddling within literally a couple of hours. But the Ambassador, who is the same age now that the Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond was at her homecoming, has not been NEAR so chill and happy when I brought a puppy home last spring. I knew that was likely due to her temperament, and at this point they get along about how you describe – they’ll play tug together and chase each other around the yard – but I do not get the puppy snuggle pics I had hoped for, because Senior Ambassador just doesn’t want to hang out with the Intern that much. (It also didn’t help that the Intern is now literally twice the Ambassador’s size at 11 months old, but.)

    3. Sloanicota*

      I’d say that snuggling up together / sharing a bed / sharing a food bowl are probably too much to hope for. It would be great it if happens but that’s up to the cats and can’t be expected. As long as they don’t fight, that’s pretty darn good! That’s what I would consider a successful integration; they’re willing to coexist without drama.

    4. RussianInTexas*

      My old lady cat has never warmed up to the Floof Boys.
      It’s been 5 years and she tolerates them, with an discipline.
      They are cats, and sometimes the best you can get is tolerance.

    5. GoryDetails*

      The cuddling might happen – or it might never happen. I had a pair of littermates once, who snuggled as kittens but grew apart as they grew up, and Never Snuggled Again! (Turns out one of them grew up to want to be Only Cat, and – many years later – she got her wish and was very happy to the end of her days.) Currently I have two snuggle-buddies and the Third One, and they’ll play tag and join in zoomies and occasionally give each other sneaky licks on the ear, but there is no three-cats-in-a-pile situation.

      I’d say it’s still early days for your pair, and the dynamic may shift as the kitten grows up. But as long as they’re cohabiting without fur flying, things seem pretty good!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I admit, as a kitten foster-er, I don’t always agree that “kittens always need to go off in twos” which some groups take as gospel. Not all, but many, many cats will play together when they’re young and then prefer to be solitary as adults. That’s often their lifecycle in the wild too. It’s true that you shouldn’t leave a newly-adopted kitten home all day with nothing to do, so I see the point, plus sometimes we’ve got a lot of kittens to get into homes.

    6. Casper Lives*

      That sounds like it’s going well. I know it’s not what you hoped but they’re coexisting peacefully.

      Whether the cats snuggle and groom depends on their personalities. I wouldn’t give up hope. I’ve got three cats: male 14, female 1 and male 2 years. The oldest hates kittens. He hisses and walks away from them. The younger two have great fun chasing each other and playing together.

      Recently, the 1.5 year old has calmed down enough that I’ve caught her and the 14 year old snuggling together. I saw him grooming her. It took over a year for her to stop having crazy kitten energy, pouncing on his tail, etc.

      I’m not saying yours will get to that level. But their relationship could evolve as the kitten grows up. Or they could stay at a peaceful coexistence.

    7. Rara Avis*

      After a year, Leo (5) tolerates Arty (2) but their relationship mainly revolves around wrestling until someone cries. They will sleep near each other but no snuggling. Our elderly cat, who died two years ago, never warmed up to Leo. (He just wanted to rest; Leo played too rough.). The closest they got was lying on opposite sides of a human buffer.

    8. Green Mug*

      Thank you to all. I feel relief that I hadn’t botched something during the introduction. Also, I love hearing your stories. It’s like I’m getting glimpses into my possible futures. Every future with these two balls of fluff and love seems to have a happy ending.

    9. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Oh you’re already doing so much better than our last attempt to get a big kitten and an adult cat used to each other! They refused to be on the same floor of the house for a solid 8 years. Now, at 15 and 17, they’ve decided that their love for me outweighs their shared indifference and will both sleep on the bed with us, but my god cats can be so stubborn.

      You did everything correctly! Sometimes cats just want to be people cats and not friends of other cats cats. Or maybe they’ll get closer once the kitten gets older and start to settle down a bit! Life with cats is full of surprises.

      (We’ve since figured out that the ultimate cheat code for introducing a new cat is adding her as a neo natal foster kitten and then foster failing – but that’s a rather specific circumstance)

  26. Puzzled*

    Does anyone have shoe brand recommendations for people who have small feet but need a wide toe box?

    For context, I am a petite woman who always wore boy’s shoes in size five until a few years ago. My shoes started to feel like they were squishing the small toes on my right foot at that point, and I’ve had horrible trouble getting shoes with a wide enough toe box ever since. (My feet are small, but I was told I have a high instep.)

    The last pairs of shoes I got were a pair of boy’s New Balance sneakers with a mesh upper in a 5.5 wide (not wide enough, but the soft mesh makes it less annoying). And a pair of black Sketchers women’s wide work shoes with a mesh upper in size 7 (they’re too big, but better than having squished toes).

    I need to replace my work shoes with all black shoes again, but I hate the Sketchers and don’t want to rebuy them. I just ordered a pair of black wide Women’s New Balance shoes in 6.5, 7, and 7.5, but they don’t feel wide on my right foot. (I think they might actually be more narrow than my boy’s New Balance shoes.)

    I found one pair of New Balance has men’s shoes in extra wide that comes in the same size I’d wear in boys. I also found a pair of women’s Saucony shoes in extra wide. I’ll try ordering them, but I’m afraid my feet will just flop around in them because the entire shoe will be extra wide, not just the toe box.

    Anyone have suggests for other shoe brands to try?

    1. Not A Manager*

      I need a wide toe box, and New Balance wides do work for me. I’d try the men’s extra-wide for sure. I also like Vans, but only very particular styles. I think the ones that don’t squish my toes are the Authentic line.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      A Facebook friend was just talking about how she loves her new wide toe box shoes from Groundies! Might be worth checking out.

      1. Reba*

        Yes, if you look into “barefoot” shoes you will find several brands making wide toe boxes, Vivo and Altra are a couple others. Usually they also have thin soles, possibly an issue if you need more cush.

        1. M*

          Seconding Altras. I LOVE mine. They are specifically designed to have a roomier toe area without making the whole shoe wider.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      Asics tend to have a roomier toe box. They have a shoe finder tool on their website that will help match you to a shoe.

    4. the cat's ass*

      I have paddle feet and Danskos are my go to for my normal heel and wide toes. In the box, they look like clown shoes, but they are heavenly as I’m on my feet for 10 hour days.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Seconded – I have narrow heels, wide toes, and my feet aren’t the same size, but Danskos always do well for me.

    5. Alex*

      Have you tried Keen shoes? My mom has extra wide toe box but a less wide heel, and has found Keens to work well for her.

    6. fposte*

      Another duckfoot here, though my feet are long enough not to fall off the shorter end of the style spectrum. New Balance aren’t, IMHO, truly wide; they just do the sports thing of having a wider last for the size than dress shoes and considering it wide. Clarks are the brand that have suited me the best over the years and it looks like they’ve got quite a lot of wide size 5s.

      I think in general it’s common for wider feet to be wider in the front and therefore sometimes have excess wiggle room in back. It’s annoying, but I’ve ended up considering shoe buying to be a shoe and sock decision, not just a shoe decision (especially since I now have metatarsal pads). So the shoes get tried with a variety of socks to see if there’s a category they work with and whether that’s a viable category to regularly wear with them.

    7. acmx*

      I wear a women’s 5 and feel like I have a wide foot. I wear a 6 in Brooks (for running). You may not nee to size up if not running.

    8. Brrrr*

      For casual sport shoes: Asics GT2000. I don’t have very small feet (ladies 8.5) but I have a narrow heel and wide toe box, cannot stand having my little toe squished, and these Asics are perfect.

      I’ve also had luck with Josef Seibel for nice, dressier short boots.

    9. Shooooooooes*

      I’m a long-distance runner, so this is my kind of question. :)

      Second those who say Altras. They’re known for their wide toe boxes, relative to the rest of the shoe. I have a pair and love them. You could also try Topos, which are styled like Altras. I wear both of these brands for trail running.

      For road running, I wear Mizunos, so that might also be something to try.

    10. E*

      This is me!!! Size 5.5 but wide. Not sure if they make all black but for sneakers I found Brooks (running company) to be the best fit

    11. Happily Retired*

      For athletic shoes, including light hikers: Topo!

      ALL their shoes feature their “signature wide toe box.” They also have a “low drop”, meaning that the heels are relatively low compared to the toe box (and they list the drop.)

      As someone with duck feet and spinal stenosis, meaning that I can never wear heels again, I’m theirs for life. Google topo shoes.

    12. Imtheone*

      I have short but wide feet. Extra wide is usually too narrow for me. I also have narrower heels, so in many shoes, my feet bounce out with each step.

      I have some Ziera walking shoes that are great, but pricey. The style is called All-Sorts.

      I also recently bought some from Cozy Feet,, from the UK, but with free returns to a U.S. address.

    13. *daha**

      I’m a big fan of Hitchcock Shoes. They are a web-based retailer that has super-wide shoes for men and for women. They carry their own line of shoes, plus many others. The big downside is there are no free returns for poor fit. You pay shipping for that yourself. They have a single brick-and-mortar store in Hingham, Massachusetts.

    14. Esprit de l'Escalier*

      My feet are very, very wide in front; I wear women’s US size 7.5 and I am almost okay in Hotter’s Extra Wide size which I think is EEE. They also have narrower widths, but are unusual is having a really wide width for some of their styles. No shoe is totally comfortable for my oddball feet but Hotter’s have come closest. However their shortest size is 6, so I don’t know if that would work for you. They are having a pretty good sale right now so it might be worth looking.

      They’re an English brand but have a US website, and they might have a few shops in the US as well as in the UK. I think their ideal customer is outdoors a lot walking her dogs in all weather, but also has an office job, and needs both kinds of shoes.

  27. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    Any ideas or commiseration for keeping my patience with my elderly mother? I know it’s not her fault and she’s doing her best under the circumstances. And I want to help her out (but also run far, far away.)

    1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      I feel this SO much. What I found to help is to have a safe release for all your emotions. Writing in a journal, talking with friends/family and/or seeing a therapist. I was talking with a friend yesterday (she went thru a similar experience and gets it) and I said that I started therapy since I can’t keep dumping on my friends, she said I could dump on her anytime. (SUCH a good friend! Who coincidentally I met as an annoying coworker! You really never know) What I didn’t say was that I needed a place where I could say anything and not feel that friends would think less of me. I tend to judge myself more harshly than I would if it were someone else in the same position. I’m learning to extend myself the grace that I would give to others.

      Find a safe outlet for your feelings and cut yourself a break. ;)
      You deserve it.

    2. Licorice Mint*

      I have a couple tips, but ymmv and it will always depend on the day/your mood and hers.

      1. Push yourself outside the interaction. Why are you getting upset/stressed?

      I have often found myself getting frustrated because she is not Doing The Thing the way I do it or want it done. Which, that is on me. If she wants it done a certain way, and we have the time and it is done to her satisfaction? Eh, it’s fine.

      2. Assess your own energy and advocate where is smartest for you.

      Do you need to help her do the thing, or do you THINK you need to help her do the thing? If she has a task she wants done, do you need to help with all aspects, or do you just need to be nearby playing Doodle Jump on your phone?

      3. Do some work to accept that this is how things are now.

      My mom lost a spouse earlier last year and has some health issues come up. I am it. She has me and her friends. I saw my mom be the support person for her parents, and so I had a short cut to just realize and accept This Is How It Is and How It Will Be for a long time. I am not all the way there, but there have been a few times where my frustration in the moment? Was absolutely my frustration at the shift in reality manifesting. Whiiiich, takes me back to #1.

      4. It is ok and normal to be frustrated. She likely is too. There is mourning for a loss (of independence, physical health, mortality, etc) going on there, and her behavior is likely Not About You. It might be a little, but it also might 100% not be about you.

      If there is anger/frustration coming FROM her, ask. Say “Hey. I am here to help with X. You seem really off and like there is something going on. Should we do this later, or is there something specific I’m not seeing? Because I want to help, but I am starting to get annoyed/hurt/done with this but I want to make sure you are ok.” Or similar.

      5. If your elderly parent is going through memory loss/dementia give yourself time to mourn them. No, they aren’t gone, but the Them they were is, or is in the process of leaving. That is HARD. Give yourself time and grace to work through that. I’ve had to do it for grandparents as an adult and it is no joke.

      Hope some of any of these might help. Overall, just try and be honest with yourself, interrogate your own feelings and reactions, and be willing to give her and yourself some space to calm down and react before trying again.

      Good luck!

    3. Firebird*

      Caregiver support groups can be really helpful for anyone with elderly relatives. I went to one run by a nursing home chaplain (open to public) that was pretty free form and focused on what people were going through currently.

      Another group I liked was run by my county Council on Aging and had speakers that took questions on their subject and also had time for general discussion.

      The groups are great for getting an outside perspective and letting you know when things are getting batshit bananapants, because it can be hard to tell the difference, when you are in the thick of things.

    4. Not A Manager*

      One thing that helped me a lot with my mother was actually to try to detach a bit. I’m reasonably kind and patient with elderly people who are not my parent. I take them for who they are. I would get impatient with my mother because I wanted her to be who she used to be, and she wasn’t, so she was continually disappointing my expectations. Once I detached from the situation and began to see her as a smart, funny old lady but not necessarily *my* smart, funny old lady, I was able to be a lot kinder.

      I know that sounds really all-or-nothing, and it wasn’t. When I say that she wasn’t *my* old lady, I don’t mean that she felt like a stranger or that I treated her like one. But she wasn’t my previous mother from earlier in my life, and she actually wasn’t the elderly mother that I had imagined and that I looked for. She was her own kind of elderly mother. Accepting her on her terms meant detaching from the person I wanted her to be. In the early stages of her dementia, I was able to form a different kind of attachment to the actual person that she was. I wouldn’t have been able to do that if I’d kept looking for the person that she had ceased to be. I was also much more patient with her.

    5. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Thanks for all the tips and compassion! It’s a difficult phase of life with all the worry and trying to help while still allowing your parent autonomy

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      I can empathize, for sure. My process has been thinking about all the annoying stuff i did as a child and that she managed not to light me on fire. In my mind, i have to at least have the patience she had. Anything beyond that is gravy. Good luck.

  28. I don’t post often*

    Has anyone successfully transferred their brain from being a night person to a morning person? My ideal work shift would be second- 3-11. But, I work in an office so, that’s a no go. In addition, my daughter age 7, is a morning person. It doesn’t matter what time she goes to bed, she is up at 5:45am. We have told her she must stay in her bed until 6am and in her room until 7am. She must go to bed by 8/8:30 or she doesn’t get enough sleep. I realize that even in a year’s time she will be able to stay up later but, not at the moment.
    I want to spend time with my daughter during her waking hours and around my work hours.
    I am just not a morning person though. By the time I’m really alert she is getting on the bus. When I would interact and play best (6-7pm) she is starting to get grumpy and tired.

    Sooo making my Brian into a morning brain…? Any advice

    1. AGD*

      As I understand it, this should be very possible unless what you’re dealing with is actual insomnia and/or delayed sleep phase stuff.

      Best advice might be to pretend you’re very jet-lagged after a long trip eastward and look for advice on how to alter your bedtime to adjust to match the locals. A little bit at a time (rigid bedtime 15 minutes earlier than the previous day for a bunch of days in a row) with high standards for sleep hygiene (resist the urge to just stay up, no screens in the hour before bedtime, good scale-down-energy routine, avoid bed except when sleeping or trying to sleep) should do it.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      I’m a much better morning person than I used to be, and the key for me is a really consistent routine and gentle waking. So, Alexa is good for a gentle morning routine like, soft classical music, having the weather report etc. The kind of alarm clocks that get generally brighter or a smart bulb that gets gradually brighter like a manufactured dawn are also good. You could also have the lights get gradually dimmer at night; if you’re anything like me, the proper bedtime you’ve decided on sneaks up on you without warning and you don’t want to go because you feel rushed. The lights are a reminder to get into relaxation mode. I can’t weigh in on the early morning kids thing too much, but my sister swears by blackout curtains. She also does pretty low key stuff with them in the morning like reading together; something that entertains them while also helping her wake up.

    3. Person from the Resume*

      Not quite what you’re asking but a sunrise alarm clock and room darkening curtains help me with consistency of my wake up times even as the sun rise shifted. Sunrise alarm clock can wake you gradually which may help. I always awake at least a little bit before the sound alarm starts going off.

      5:45 is early but is it possible your daughter is impacted by light in her room and you can convince her to sleep later with room darkening curtains?

      I’d recommend using the sunrise alarm clock for you at the time you want to wake and gradually go to bed earlier and earlier to get the amount of sleep you need for that wake up time. Expect to feel jet lagged for a while. Lay in bed in the dark listening to an audiobook or podcast trying to fall asleep and hopefully you will. (No tv or cellphone screen in bed.)

    4. Sloanicota*

      It happened to me, so have hope! I used to love 1, 2, 3 AM when the house was dark. I felt charged and creative during those hours. I also got more energy right when everyone else was getting sleepy. But as I got older I have gradually shifted to be someone who goes to bed around 11 and wakes up naturally around 7.

    5. Little beans*

      Sorry I don’t have a lot of advice but I commiserate! I am very much not a morning person. The only thing I would say is that we are not strict with our 2 year old’s bedtime, and he’ll sleep in. He typically goes to bed around 9:30, and wakes up around 7:30, so we get more time with him in the evenings and I have maybe a half hour to wake myself up slowly before he’s awake in the mornings. This is largely possible because I’ve been working from home most days, it’s tougher when I have to commute.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Like everything else in parenting, this works with some kids and not with others. My kid had to go to sleep by 7:00 until she gave up her afternoon nap at which point it had to be 6:30. And when I say “had to” I mean it. She woke up at 6:00 AM no matter when she went to sleep and if she didn’t have enough sleep she was miserable (and so was everyone in her vicinity). Her sleep requirement never really changed – she’s always needed at least 7 and preferably 8 hours – although once she got to HS she developed the ability to sleep later if she stayed up.

        1. allathian*

          Teenagers typically are more night owls than older adults, although not always, our son’s still reasonably happy getting up at 6.15 and he’s 13. His bedtime’s 9.30 during the week and lights out at 10, he likes to read in bed, like his parents. He has a gaming/schoolwork/tv room and a separate bedroom, and his cellphone lives in the gaming room. He seems to be getting enough sleep because he isn’t particularly cranky for a teenager, and never has to be dragged out of bed. He’ll sleep until 8 am during the weekend, though.

          I’ve always been a morning person, except for a while when I worked second shift. I’d get home around midnight, and then I’d spend a couple hours online before going to bed, and then I’d sleep until 10 or 11. When I switched to an office job, it took me about a week to adjust my schedule, but I took two weeks off between jobs. I’m not in the US, so I’m not dependent on employer health insurance.

    6. Manders*

      I have recently become a morning person. I now wake up at 5:30 AM whether I want to or not. But I have total flexibility as to what time I go to work, so I just get up and go into work around 6:30, then I go to the gym after work, home to prep for the next day, and I’m in bed by 9. It works great for me, and I never would have believed it a year ago. I think getting regular exercise and forcing myself to go to bed early are the two things that help. Also prepping my lunch, getting my clothes ready for the next day, all of that so that when I wake up I know that I don’t have to think about any of that stuff.

    7. Molly Malone*

      Natural night person here, who has had to adapt to mornings. You can’t wake up early by going to bed early because you won’t fall asleep. You have to force yourself to get up early. After a few days you will be tired enough to go to bed earlier. But here’s the rub: you MUST continue to get up early every day, even on weekends. It’s really easy to slide back into later and later nights that result in either later mornings, or feeling like a zombie from Monday to Wednesday getting up at the early time. Sorry to bear this news, I feel the pain.

      There’s also a drastic measure described in Ferber’s book ( Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems) for (mostly) teenagers who stay up until 2 am etc. you stay up 2 hours later every night and get up 8 hours later, eventually walking your schedule around the clock until it’s where it needs to be. But once you have the wake-up time where you want it, then you have to stick to the new schedule every day.

      Please no comments on the merits or criticism of Ferber’s method to get babies to sleep. Even if you don’t ascribe to that, the book also contains really interesting information about many different types of sleep disorders.disorders

  29. AnonForToday*

    I saw a discussion in the comments of another advice column recently about destination weddings. Some people were very heated and said destination weddings are rude and you shouldn’t expect people to pay all sorts of money to attend your wedding. Is it really rude? I get the sentiment if you’re expecting people to spend a week at some resort on a far away island, but what about a weekend at a domestic destination? My fiancé and I are planning to have a small wedding within the contiguous US, but everyone will need to travel. Our immediate family members are spread across the country – Midwest, Northeast, South – and we live in the Mid-Atlantic, so no matter where we have our wedding, some or all of our guests would need to travel. We decided on a city that is a popular tourist destination, but everyone will need to fly there. The actual wedding festivities will be pretty basic. We’re planning a short, simple ceremony, dinner at a nice restaurant afterwards, and maybe an after party at a cool spot. We don’t have any specific plans for the rest of the weekend. We figured we could figure out some other activities for the rest of the weekend depending on how long people were staying and who wants to participate. The destination has a variety of activities or entertainment options, plenty of flights, and lots of hotels. We also are trying to pick a date in a slower season when it will hopefully a bit less expensive. Still, I can’t help feeling anxious about inconveniencing everyone. Maybe people don’t want to take a weekend trip to this destination and would rather spend their time and money on a vacation of their choice (a common argument I saw). Are we being rude not hosting it near at least some family members?

    1. ecnaseener*

      It’s not rude to have the destination wedding, as long as you understand that not everyone will be able to come and you don’t get to guilt them about it. Plenty of people will be thrilled to come! But probably significantly fewer than would come to a local wedding, so you have to be OK with that.

      1. Clisby*

        +1.

        There’s nothing rude about having your wedding wherever the heck you want to have it. It’s not rude to get married there and invite no one.

        It would be VERY rude to react badly to invitees not coming to your destination wedding.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t think it’s rude just don’t be upset if people can’t come. Also, not everything is a “weekend trip.” I’m not able to fly from New England to Phoenix or Vegas easily, for example. Too far, too expensive etc. this could be a calculation for your guests.

    3. SofiaDeo*

      I am in the US. I spoke beforehand casually with a lot of family members, and everyone really liked a certain US destination. There were a number of nearby housing options at varying price points to the wedding hotel. There was lots of public transportation options or easy walking, no one *needed* to rent a car. And they expressed that it wouldn’t be a major inconvenience. Whereas a cousin simply “announced” hers on a rather short notice. It was at a really pricey secluded resort with zero other housing options, and everyone *had* to fly plus needed a passport. Few attended hers. So IMO the “rude” factor is if one *must* spend X large amount of dollars and Must use expensive air or boat travel (like a cruise wedding). If it’s a city like Orlando or Las Vegas or New Orleans that has multiple price points for airfare and housing, more on the Yes side. If it’s an allover pricey place like NYC/Manhattan or San Francisco, maybe no. See what the most beloved family members, that you really want to attend, think.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        P.S. the fact that I asked people sort of one-on-one, was major “not rude” points with one aunt. More of the “we really want to go here, and are hoping you can join, what do you think” versus the Bridezilla-esque “announcement”.

    4. Pop*

      There’s a big gap between “must stay at a specific $$$ resort for five days” and what you’re proposing. The general consensus on destination weddings from what I’ve seen is when you choose to have one, you just have to be okay with the fact that not everyone can go. Even if YOU think they have enough money, vacation time, etc, some people aren’t going to be able to. I also think that traveling for a wedding is fairly common as more and more people have friends and family spread out all over the country/world. So no, I wouldn’t say what you’re doing is rude, but it’s also not rude if folks decline to attend.

    5. Bibliovore*

      No matter what you do there may be people who have to travel and may not afford to.
      I was married in Philadelphia where my family is from. I chose a smaller wedding because Mr. Bibliovore’s family was in Minnesota. I limited my guest list to immediate family and 4 close friends and their spouses. My dad invited about ten of his close friends. His family that was able to travel was his dad and 2 of his three brothers and their spouses and about ten close friends of his and their spouses. His dad had a small reception in Minnesota a few months later for friends and family.

    6. YNWA*

      I only think it’s rude when there are extravagant gift expectations on top of travel. You don’t have to, but it’s nice, to consider the financial commitment of a destination wedding and that the presence of people may be all they can give you. Or, they skip the wedding and send a gift.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s never *rude* exactly, but I think it’s generous to offer lots of opt-outs. If you’re having a destination wedding, maybe you don’t require all bridesmaids to attend your travel bachelorette in order to stay in the wedding … or downscale the bachelorette, or whatever. Don’t create a situation where the people who love you the most have to shell out thousands of dollars or disappoint you.

        1. Rosemary*

          Or don’t have a bachelorette if it is going to require people to travel. Definitely don’t do a destination bachelorette AND a destination wedding.

          1. Clisby*

            Amen. And if you’re having a wedding in a particularly expensive destination, don’t even have wedding attendants. The 2 spouses-to-be are all that’s required, and invitees who want to come and can afford it can do so.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      It’s the expectation that makes it rude, not the destination. If you can accept declined invitations with good grace you’re fine. You can always celebrate with them over the photos another time! If there are some people who absolutely must be there, you might ask what their requirements and calenders are like. I honestly don’t think it’s possible to have an uncontroversial wedding a lot of the time. My sister in law was complaining the other day about about someone doing a midweek wedding because she can’t take time off, but that kind of wedding is cheaper and it may be the only way for the bride and groom to get what they want within budget. My friend had a very rude declined invitation where they snarked at her for not inviting children. I had my great aunt insist that she be able to come because my wedding was on her birthday. I barely know her, and I just said I only had the budget for my closest relatives. I would get comfortable now with the idea that you just can’t win. Instead simply try to go for what you want, try to include people who are very close to you and on the day make sure people are comfortable, fed and not left hanging around doing nothing. If you have those boxes checked, you’re fine.

    8. Courageous cat*

      It’s not rude as long as you are 100% fully prepared to accept, without any guilting at all, that some people won’t come. You are perfectly within your rights to choose where you want to get married and say “come if you can, no worries if not!”

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is my thing with kids, too. It’s fine to have a child-free wedding and it’s fine for people with children to decline to attend. The only difficulty is when there’s someone who feels like they should have been on the “essential” list, and are in fact on the “nice to have” list. This is awkward, but not exactly rude. If someone is truly essential to you in terms of a guest, obviously do not design a wedding they can’t attend, or at least offer to defray the costs and problem-solve with them, or whatever. But usually someone’s cousin or in-law feels they should receive this level of consideration.

        1. Random Bystander*

          It can also be difficult when you’re in the “there will be issues if you do not attend” category and would not have attended the child-free wedding except for being married to the brother of the groom.

          When my eldest child was two months old, exclusively breastfed, we were invited to a child-free wedding of my then-husband’s brother. It was one of the most awful experiences of my life–I leaked like crazy until my dress was soaking wet after several times of trying to do a “pump and dump” in December and by the time we left I was already running a fever. I ended up ill (mastitis) and it took me a week to get over being sick from the few hours at that wedding. But the bride absolutely would not bend on the “no children, not even an infant-in-arms” and the family of the groom would not bend on “absolutely must attend, you can just leave the baby with a sitter”.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Yeah, see, it was the inflexibility of the party that was the problem, not the child-free thing. It also should be fine for the husband, whose family this is, to go, and you to stay home if you didn’t/couldn’t get a sitter. It all needs to be fine and flexible!

            1. HannahS*

              I don’t think that Random Bystander was criticizing the choice to have the wedding be child-free; they were clearly objecting to the inflexibility of that choice that was rigid to the point of making them ill. People can have child-free weddings. They should not insist that someone with a two-month old come.

              1. Clisby*

                Agreed. And I have no idea why the mother of the two-month-old thought she was required to go. That would have been a hard no from me.

                1. HannahS*

                  Can’t speak for you, but I was not at my most self-actualized or empowered when I had a 2-month old. I was still recovering from the birth. I slept in 2-3 hour pieces. I can’t fault Random Bystander, honestly. Regardless, this OP seems more accommodating.

    9. AnonForToday*

      Thanks, all. Yes, we totally understand if some people can’t make it. And we have mentioned it to our parents and given a general date range (no set date yet) to confirm no one has other travel or commitments planned around then. I definitely wouldn’t expect gifts if people can’t do both, since we’ve lived together a while and have a house together and don’t need most of the traditional household gifts.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Unfortunately, people may not be able to accept your “no gifts” if they feel like it’s a social obligation of a wedding, whether required or not. Particularly people who don’t attend, will probably want to send something. Perhaps there’s another way to help people save some money if they’re able to attend, like discounting the room rate or renting transport from the airport or something.

        1. ecnaseener*

          It helps to offer a list of charities to donate to in lieu of gifts, so it’s less “oh don’t worry about gifts we don’t mind” and more “here is the thing we specifically want you to do for us.” That’s what my sister’s doing, not a destination wedding they just have enough stuff already. Remains to be seen how many people will ignore that and get a gift anyway!

      2. SofiaDeo*

        I liked “the gift of your company is all we truly want if you can join us” on the invitation also. No registry, no “cash donation” website. I already had everything I needed/wanted. Those who chose to still press checks/send gifts were thanked profusely. IMO in a small wedding involving only a few close family members, they know you well enough that if they truly want to give you a gift on top of the travel, know you well enough to have a bit of an idea of something you might enjoy. As others have mentioned, it is often more the appearance of “spend thousands to participate” PLUS a gift grab, is what is deemed rude.

        1. Rosemary*

          This. I think it is important to say it EXPLICITLY on the actual invitation. Not verbally, word of mouth. Spell it out. Yes there will still be people who insist on giving a gift – accept those graciously of course – but most everyone else will appreciate the “formal” request for no gifts.

    10. Emma*

      I don’t think a domestic destination is rude. People have to travel for many weddings. If they can’t make it work, they won’t come. But there’s a big difference between having a wedding somewhere in the US vs in rural Germany, where there is no “just come for the weekend”, at least not from the US. I don’t think that Germany (or the equivalent) is rude either, just that it’s less likely people will be able to come.

      1. Sloanicota*

        See, the remote destination wedding in Bali or wherever used to be predicated on the extremely small / elope plan – so you got married on the beach but maybe the witnesses were hotel staff or maybe just your parents could make it. We’ve shifted to “it’s remote destination, but I’m still inviting 120 people” more recently, I feel. 118 out of those 120 people may just say no. People may assume that’s a gift grab, although honestly most people my age aren’t interested in gifts and it seems like an unkind assumption.

        1. SofiaDeo*

          If your registry has all price ranges, and you don’t have the “help us finance our dream wedding trip” website asking for cash, IMO it’s less likely anyone will see it as a gift grab. Especially if the invite for an expensive destination wedding says something along the lines of “the pleasure of your company is the only gift requested.” Shifting from the older wedding model when people got married at a you g age, and the gifts were useful things in setting up a house. It’s often morphed into this “luxury items only registry” plus “website to finance the wedding” thing. I think that’s where the “gift grab” notion came from, anyway. When was the last time you watched Bridezillas? Some of those women got really really crazy and entitled, especially surrounding Destination Weddings with huge bridal parties and out of town Bachelor/Bachelorette Weekends. If you’re acting like normal people around the problems and logistics of this destination wedding, you are fine!

    11. Rhiannon*

      No, not at all. It’s your wedding, and you’d love to have them there if they can make it. If they can’t or choose not to, you hope to see them soon. It’s tough when people are scattered, so you do the best you can, although it’s lovely of you to think of your relatives.

      Meanwhile, congratulations!

    12. RagingADHD*

      It’s not rude to have a destination wedding.

      It is rude to get angry or passive-aggressive with people if your choice of venue excludes them. It is particularly rude to erect barriers of time or cost (or physical accessibility) to people attending your wedding, and then turn it into a litmus test for your relationship: “if they *really* cared, they’d make it work.”

      Not okay.

      It is also rude (in general) to express expectations or disappointment over the amount or value of gifts, or how many ancillary events an invited is able to or chooses to attend. That is always rude, but goes double if merely getting to the wedding requires significant expense, time off from work, or arrangements for care of dependents.

      TL:Dr Have the wedding wherever you want. Invite whoever you want. Just be gracious about it if anyone says they can’t come. And don’t treat gifts as an admission ticket.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      1) There is no answer that will please everyone on the internet. Possibly not everyone on your invite list, but certainly not the entire internet.

      2) My eye-roll at destination weddings is being upset that people don’t care enough to come. The “destination” aspect just means that everyone is eyeballing the cost of flight, hotel, etc. If those people live close to you, they are much more likely to be ticked than if they would have a 5 hour flight and a hotel for both the destination and one local to you but far to them.

      3) There’s a theory that you thus sort the guest list from people you must invite but don’t want (so Aunt Bertha will recognize that she should NOT book a flight to Spain and should just send you a check) and people you do want who will of course do anything to be there. My reading of advice columns suggests that people do not sort themselves neatly into your intended groups. (So Aunt Bertha shows up, explaining that her presence is her gift to you, while your college roommate lets mere money and vacation time dictate her travel.)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Now, it IS rude to invite people you don’t actually want to attend the wedding. That’s just weird.

    14. MissCoco*

      I don’t think it’s rude to have a wedding where you want, there is a type of destination wedding where a several day stay at a specific resort is required, which is probably best suited for quite small events where only the very closest people are being invited. That doesn’t sound like what you are planning.

      Something that reassured me a lot with various parts of our wedding planning was remembering, “it’s an invitation, not a summons.” Expect some people to decline, and accept it gracefully, but it sounds like your families won’t be surprised to travel. If you have any must-attend guests, you might want to have a conversation with them up front about their ability to attend

    15. Dark Macadamia*

      It’s only rude if you invite a lot of people with little communication/flexibility and then get mad at them for not coming. I feel like usually people do destination weddings with just a small group who are reasonably involved in the planning, and that seems really fun! I can see where if a family usually does huge local weddings and considers it to be a Big Family Event they would find it rude to be “excluded” but it’s not actually rude to have the type of wedding you want regardless of tradition/obligation.

    16. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What makes it rude is not exclusive to destination weddings, but it’s exacerbated by the “destination” factor:
      – Getting upset at/passive-aggressive with people who can’t come
      – Not providing solid information for people who will be traveling (will they need a car, is it a city that’s still very cash-based, are there places near the venue where they should stay, did you book a block of rooms, etc.)
      – Not providing any hospitality for people who must travel (this doesn’t have to be a lot, or extravagant, and you don’t have to entertain people every second, but if people are traveling for your event you should at least buy them a cup of coffee)

      I went to a destination wedding a few years ago where we basically had to go (partner’s family member). The destination was a tourist area that required a flight for everyone. We spent lots of money that we did not have to travel there and to stay, which was ultimately our choice. We were not given a schedule and the bride got mad at us when we showed up somewhere at 1pm, as she texted us, instead of beforehand. They didn’t provide any information on where to stay, nor did they inform their guests that they would have to take taxis everywhere (we enjoy walking and didn’t realize until we got there that you can’t walk on most roads) and the taxis charged per person, cash. We were invited to a rehearsal dinner and then informed we would be paying for our own food. After everything we had to shell out to get there, this was… not a good look.

      Try to make things as simple as possible for your guests. Book blocks of rooms. Provide a list of places/restaurants they can go to. Host a gathering the night before and/or day after (or have someone else host it as a gift to you). And, as everyone else has stated, if someone can’t come, be gracious about it.

    17. Prospect Gone Bad*

      IMO it depends on how the destination jives with the guest list. If you are in the LA/Miami/NY crowd, they may not feel comfortable or just want to put the effort into going somewhere new in the middle of nowhere Kentucky or something.

      If you’re family includes a lot of quiet folk who live in rural areas, they probably don’t want to travel to a big city of disney Land, they aren’t used to city driving and noise and the whole thing will be too much for them.

      this is just my experience, with who shows up and who excuses themselves. That’s why it’s probably best to pick a “neutral” place. My family had a reunion once in an ex-suburban area of Eastern PA and everyone showed, up, I think it was because everyone felt comfortable in that setting

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Wow, that’s a lot of assumptions about people that you’ve stuck in little boxes based on where they live!

        1. Prospect Gone Bad*

          I just said “in my experience” meaning my rather typical family and friends group. I don’t think knowing my relatives is making crazy assumptions

          1. Observer*

            I’m sure you are right about your family. But I would argue that perhaps your family is NOT quite so typical.

        2. RussianInTexas*

          Country folks come to the wedding in NYC, afraid of cars, hilarity ensues. New comedy, only on Netflix.

        3. carcinization*

          Yep, my “rural” friends/relatives go to big cities on vacations all of the time! I’ve never been to Vegas and they go on the regular, and they’ve been to NYC more times than I have as well.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        What on earth…? I am in the “NY/Miami/LA” crowd, I suppose, and I go to different/new-to-me places all the time, as does just about everyone I know. Do you actually know cityfolk or do you just assume we all live in giant skyscrapers surrounded by designer handbags? And we all just sprung to life out of cities and never grew up in rural places or went to college in small towns or explored small cities while on vacation.

        People who enjoy travel will travel. People who hate it will send their regrets. This isn’t a city mouse vs. country mouse situation.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I did what you’re describing. We went to Vegas and invited a handful of friends and family to join us, about a dozen folks did, and we basically treated it as a long weekend vacation where Friday night’s fancy group dinner was prefaced by a 20 minute wedding ceremony. I planned a couple of non-hosted events – group outings where everyone had to pay their own way but I was happy to make the arrangements/reservations – and people could opt in or out of those as they preferred. Otherwise, folks did as they liked for the weekend. It went well.

    19. Chauncy Gardener*

      I think destination weddings are an absolute pain. We live in MA and had to go to one on Cape Cod last summer. Height of the season. Three night minimum at all the hotels in the area. The hotel, plus meals, plus gift and it was the $5k wedding. And we didn’t have to fly! It was just an awful drive in summer traffic.

      I can’t think of anything I would rather do less again in my free time for all that money.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        6 years ago we went to a destination wedding in Austin. Now, it’s 3 hours drive from my location, and it was only Thursday through Sunday, and it still was $1100 in hotel (with rooms block), food, gas, for two of us. Last year 5 days in Dominican Republic cost only $3k flights included.
        That is really a lot of money to go to someone’s wedding. I now basically had a rule that I would only go fo a destination wedding if the location interests me in general.

        1. Clisby*

          I cannot imagine going unless it was one of my children getting married, and even then I’d think twice. (My husband and I got married at the courthouse with no one invited, and it’s fine with me if my kids do that too.)

        2. Chauncy Gardener*

          THIS. 100%. We hate the Cape, so the whole thing was just meh.
          That being said, we really wanted to support the mother of the groom and that’s why we went, so job well done, but I so, so wish we didn’t have to spend all that time and money to do so!

    20. HannahS*

      Weddings–like most community events–are inherently inconvenient, but people attend them joyfully (or at least willingly) because supporting the people we love is a value. If your family is spread out (and mine is spread across this continent and both sides of the Atlantic,) there isn’t a way to have a wedding that’s convenient for everyone.

      The annoyance against destination weddings is when the couple refuses to change their own expectation and behave as if their wedding is equally convenient to being local; someone gave the example above of refusing to allow a babe-in-arms but also insisting that the parents attend. Things like that.

      We planned a wedding where we lived, which was a city where none of our family lived. It was a destination wedding for everyone except one aunt and uncle who lived an hour away. We (us the couple and also my parents) mitigated the inconvenience by allotting a lot of our budget to being generous hosts, and when I say a lot, I mean that we eliminated a lot of traditional wedding objets (favours, flowers, centrepieces, band, matching outfits for the wedding party) and chose a free (rather ugly) venue that freed up thousands of dollars to spend elsewhere. My parents paid for my out-of-town relatives’ accommodation; we organized to feed everyone three times instead of just the wedding; we prepared lists of fun things to do in the city…and the COVID hit and we canceled everything and got married alone in a field without our families present. So, you know. Sometimes things don’t turn out as planned.

      You know your budget and your people. Be sensitive to the cost of attending an out-of-town wedding, and do your best to be a generous host.

    21. Rara Avis*

      My husband and I have families deeply rooted in opposite sides of the American continent. Exactly one person (his brother) from his side came to our wedding. We knew that many of them, including his parents) wouldn’t/couldn’t travel, so we held an other coast party about a month before the wedding to celebrate with his family and friends. On the other hand, my cousin had a destination wedding somewhere exciting and tropical and only invited parents and sibs. So I don’t think you need to feel anxious about doing what works for you and accepting that there will always be some people who can’t come.

    22. Jackalope*

      So this is more a philosophical take than answering your direct question (at least at first), but I found it super helpful when planning my wedding. There’s a ton of misogyny wrapped up in the notion of Bridezillas that is sometimes hard to pin down. Yes, some people do have overly rigid and demanding ideas about what they can expect from friends and family for their weddings, and some people can be true jerks about it. But for the most part…. A wedding is a huge life ceremony that unlike most ceremonies is expected in many cases to be planned entirely by the woman/bride. It’s emotional, can touch on a ton of difficult family issues (abusive families, people who can’t stand each other but you want to invite them both, parents who assume that they get to plan their children’s weddings and make it THEIR deal while ignoring what the people getting married want, etc.), and has a lot of fraught cultural baggage. It is also a huge logistical challenge – most people have little to no experience planning a large, catered party and making sure all of the details are taken care of from the huge overarching details to ensuring there are forks. It’s a complex process, with a lot of balls in the air, and potentially a lot of money being spent.

      And in the midst of all of this, all of the pressure is generally on the bride (obviously this is a stereotype and ignores same-sex couples, NB people, and so on, but that’s weddings for you; a TON of traditional gender stuff) to somehow navigate this morass of logistics, family, money, time, and her own desires/expectations as well as those of her betrothed, and she is supposed to get it perfect. If she doesn’t manage to pull everything off with warmth and aplomb, never losing her temper or breaking down, and managing to throw a wedding that is (classy, funky, hip, whatever) and a perfect representation of their relationship, then she’s failed. If she has any negative emotions about the process that she ever lets show, or if she does something that someone else disagrees with, has any expectations of the people around her (show up on time to rehearsal, RSVP on time, whatever), then she is a rude Bridezilla.

      I throw all of this out there to remind you that no matter what you do and how you do it, there are people who will judge you negatively for it. That can be difficult, but I found it freeing as well. Sit down and figure out what you really want and then how to make that happen. Take some time to think through how to be thoughtful of others – it sounds like you’re doing that already – and make sure you can figure out ways you can be flexible. (I would throw in here some options like making sure you have a location that is wheelchair accessible, including vegetarian and/or vegan food options, having places to stay nearby that are a range of prices so that’s less of a barrier for people, and so on) And then go for what you want. Be flexible with people when you can, set boundaries for what you need when you can. So in the case of a destination wedding, it sounds like what you would be doing is picking a location, saying, “This is where we are having it,” but then not guilt tripping people who can’t make it (which it sounds like you’re already doing). And then remember that as someone indicated below that your invitation is an invite, not a subpoena, and if people show up that’s because they wanted to.

      (On a related note, I read exactly one book while planning my wedding, and it was A Practical Wedding by Meg Keene. I loved it, and found it to be relaxed and refreshing, and very respectful of people planning weddings [the author recognizes that our culture expects that this will be the female half of a heterosexual couple, but my recollection is that she tried to be a resource for queer people as well, and I know her website definitely does that], and it was a lifeline to me when I was in the super stressful part of the planning. 5/5 stars, would recommend, would buy for friends who are also planning weddings.)

    23. RussianInTexas*

      If you have spread out family, you obviously won’t be able to host it near everyone, so yes, since people will have to travel.
      As long as you are mindful that you don’t know other people financial and vacation situation, and don’t get upset they refuse to travel, you are ok.
      And yes, I would, for example, not want to waste my very limited vacation on a destination I don’t find interesting, even if it does theoretically has a lot to offer. For example, a destination wedding in Florida would make me grumble.
      The rudest destination weddings in my opinion are the resort ones, in which the couple can only afford it if a while bunch of friends and family pay their share (resorts offer steep discounts if you bring a lot of guests). It’s rude to make your guests to pay for your wedding.

    24. fhqwhgads*

      Most of the time when I hear the “it’s rude” it’s the context of most or a significant proportion of the guests were local, or driving distance, but now everyone has to fly somewhere. If a significant chunk of the guest list were going to have to fly in anyway to attend, then changing where they’re flying shouldn’t really be that big a deal. Even if who has to fly/who doesn’t might change based on where it is, if it’s approximately the same distribution of “guests who have to fly there”, it’s no big deal.

    25. Dumpster Fire*

      I don’t think a destination wedding is necessarily rude, with some caveats:
      – obviously don’t be offended if some can’t make it.
      – during a slower season is a good idea, to have more hotel availability and lower prices
      – if most or all would need to travel anyway, why not make it somewhere lots of people want to go?

      I’m also going to make a suggestion which SHOULD be obvious but apparently isn’t to some: don’t pick a destination that has potential to be REALLY HARD to travel to or to be in, at the time of the wedding. For example, Alaska in winter, D.C. in the spring, Daytona Beach during spring break, Florida during hurricane season. You want people to remember your wedding fondly, not with “remember when we were stuck in for two weeks?”

  30. Hazelnut Bunny*

    I need security camera recommendations. I currently have the Blink Indoor/Outdoor systems. However, I find that things I go back to look for are usually triggering the cameras and I miss whatever I am searching for or the clip cuts out what I need. The outdoor system isn’t as much of an issue as my indoor. I like the cloud and cost. I was able to set up all myself and am fairly tech savvy.

    So looking for:
    -Reasonably priced
    -Cloud or long term back up solution
    -Continuous recording
    -Easy to Moderate install
    Bonus if I can view from my phone or remotely

    1. cat socks*

      We like Arlo. We have some set up inside to keep an eye on the cats while we’re on vacation. Easy to install/set up and you can use the app or computer to view clips.

  31. Prospect Gone Bad*

    What cream do you use to shave, if you have an eco-friendly brand? I’m becoming more hyper aware of the waste I am creating as I age and loath buying even one more shaving gel in a metal container with plastic lid that you can’t recycle because you can’t remove and separate all of the parts. Anyone else already solve this conundrum?

    1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Hair conditioner, any brand, no need for expensive ones.
      And it works better than shaving cream or gel.

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        +1 to this, I’ve used conditioner for years and it works so much better than anything declared to be officially for shaving.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I use the same moisturizing bar soap that I wash with. Works fine, no problems. If I feel like I need extra softening power, I’ll use hair conditioner.

      I have tried various brands of shave cream and I cannot see any benefit to it at all. Particularly when most razors have moisturizing bars around the blade.

    3. HannahS*

      If I don’t use cream, I use conditioner. You might want to look into men’s shaving soap, the kind that comes in a tin that you lather with a brush.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        OMG I totally forgot that type even exists. You are giving me hope. Thanks all for ideas

    4. Unicornucopia*

      I simply don’t use shaving cream, but I only shave my legs so idk if that’s an option for everyone. When I do use it I appreciate it but I don’t feel like it makes that big of a difference to me.

    5. Helvetica*

      I use the Gillette Venus with Comfortglide blades so the area around the blade is soft and lubricated, helping it glide really well. I just wash myself in the shower as usual and run the blade over soapy skin and voila! You do need to keep those out of the shower as the lubricated area otherwise runs out very fast if it is constantly getting wet.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I’ve used shaving oil, which comes in a plastic pump bottle (I like Tree Hut brand). It’s still plastic, but you can recycle the bottle. I liked it better than shaving with conditioner but YMMV.

    7. carcinization*

      An acquaintance makes lovely shaving soaps, Paintbox Soapworks is her website. I used to use a Lush product, called D’Fluff I think, but I looked for something else after hearing it was being discontinued. I was skeptical about using shaving soap at first but it works great for me!

  32. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Not a usual discussion topic here but let me try – has anyone else followed real estate of financial news for a long time? I have recently abandoned my usual outlets because I’ve noticed a stark change in writing style that has just made them completely unenjoyable or even maddening in some situations. I feel like there is a complete lack of ability to analyze or accurately report on negative information anymore. I notice it happening more often that outlets just don’t report negative data, or they find clunky ways to put a positive spin on it, even if it involves making stuff up. Like “home sales are down 50% but Joe Smith at some unnamed company says it’s going back up!” Or they throw in an obligatory “recession fears” to appear balanced but then debunk the idea even if, again, it involves loads of cherry picking.

    I’ve been noticing this new-fangled toxic positivity to be bleeding over into my work and social circle circle. “Business is down but a recession can’t happen” and upper middle class people acting like it’s normal they can’t afford basic parts of adulting as of a few years ago.

    I miss even just a few years ago where I felt the media and social media and people in general seemed more willing to take a piece of negative information, analyze it, and put it in it’s proper place. I am not on board with whatever the current trend is I am seeing of trying to rationalize a thing away before even grasping what the thing is

    1. WellRed*

      Not financial news specifically but in general I’ve noticed that our local reporters add lots of extraneous details that feel like an editor or jschool class told them was necessary. I don’t care that the victims house is tidy, with two cats in the yard and a long swing dangling forlornly from the oak tree and other random descriptors that don’t paint the scene. It feels inauthentic.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        LOL the NYT got bad with that in recent years. I used to love a Sunday times but in recent years have found myself either laughing outloud or getting perturbed at all of these fluff details. It makes you think, is the writer insinuating that all of these neutral unrelated items someone tie into the fact that the person is a criminal (or whatever the story is about)?

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m so fed up with all news at this point. We’ve actually been in a recession for an entire year now, but you’d never know it from the news.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Even if we don’t have one, I don’t get why the media is acting like they are things that are so outlandish to discuss, as if a 1% drop in GDP is such a mindblowing event.

        But one thing is for sure in my mind, I am completely convinced “highly qualified buyers” is a gross exaggeration. Sure, they aren’t giving loans without verifying income anymore, but the thresholds are still so low. Many of the people around me downright are scaring me, they are completely maxed out at the peak of their careers in a way I have never seen, yet from the outside still live pretty average lives. I think everyone is thinking “it’s not 2008 so everything is great” but don’t get that not every crisis needs to play out exactly the same. As if only low income people can default on a loan.

        One thing I think may happen, is if we avoid a recession and prices for things like homes stay so elevated, it’s going to drive wage pressure. More people demanding raises and job hopping for a raise, and that will end up driving inflation again.

    3. Silence*

      No recommendations just commiserations.
      When I was in school learning to write articles it was have an informative headline, summary paragraph and then details. Now everything is click bait where you have to go to the end to get to the meat of the story

  33. Bibliovore*

    I would love to hear about something you bought that surprised you.
    I will start.
    The grief counselor/concierge recommended getting a singing bowl. He had one in his office. Wanted me to try it. I didn’t like the sound. He said to try others.
    I try to do what he suggests (remember the air fryer- google my name on the site and air fryer)
    Nowhere close sells them so I went on line. One place had them with audio.
    I picked one.
    I bought one.
    I thought “this is ridiculous bullsh%#”
    It arrived last night.
    And yes it does seem to calm me down. I can feel a physical change. In my heart beat, in my breathing.

    So I ask you, is there a purchase you thought you would regret but it turned out to be a good thing?

    1. Sloanicota*

      This isn’t what you asked, but I do think it’s worth it to try and follow the suggestions of the person you’ve chosen to assist you for the period of treatment, if only to “get your money’s worth” out of the service, even if you’re not sure about the ideas (or otherwise, just quit). Obviously try to pick someone carefully and don’t end up with Dr. Lecter as your psychiatrist, but it’s just no help at all to pay someone and then second-guess them and ask for other advice all the time. I dealt with this and dog trainers recently.

    2. Rhiannon*

      Flickering LED candles! I am an anxious person by nature, and real candles amp it up (“The cats ARE going to knock it over, AND THERE WILL BE A FIRE!” kind of anxiety).
      LED candles with the flicker feature add a cozy feeling to my small apartment. I just wish they had a timer so they’d already be lit when I get home from work!

      1. anon24*

        I have LED candles with a timer! They have a remote with a timer to turn off (2 hours, 4 hours, etc) and we’ve found that if we turn them on and hit the timer button rather than just manually turn them off and on they turn on every 24 hours at the same time and then turn themselves off! I have mine in my bathroom and have them turn on around 6pm and turn off around 2am and they make great nightlights. I got mine off Amazon, just look for the ones with a timer remote or search for LED candles with 24 hour timer. I have a mix of 3 different brands (I wanted different colors and styles) and they all work great and the remotes are interchangeable.

        1. fposte*

          I use the tealight version of these a ton in things, like glass cups and whatnot, and at Christmas have rolled tubes of red and green plastic film that I drop over the plastic cylinders they come with and voila, Christmas window lights.

    3. Elle Woods*

      Oh. I love his suggestion of a singing bowl and I’m glad it seems to be helping you. You’ve inspired me to check them out online.

      One thing we bought and thought, “yeah, that’s probably just gonna wind up collecting dust in the closet” was a vacuum sealer. But we use it a lot. We buy meat in bulk at Costco and portion things out into packs for the two of us. It’s also come in handy when we’ve wanted to freeze fresh sweet corn, green, beans, strawberries, and more in the summer. It’s saved us money and helped us prevent food waste.

    4. Firebird*

      I was surprised at how happy I am that I moved to a larger apartment. It’s definitely worth the extra money to get an open floorplan and to get rid of my prior landlord. Every time I start thinking “EEK, the Money!” I look around and feel happy. I’m even happier to find out this week that my lease is only going up $15, especially since heat is included.

    5. Reading recs*

      Noise cancelling headphones.

      I resisted buying them for a long time, because people would say, oh, they only shut out droning sounds, like airplane noises. Which, I can do those okay, it’s the random neighborhood chatter and neighboring television noise and revving of lawn mowers and blowers that gets to me.

      They’re PERFECT. They don’t shut out everything, no (those dang leaf blowers). But they shut out 90% of what’s bothering to me and allowed me to reclaim my concentration and peace of mind. Quite literally life changing.

        1. Readings recs*

          Anker Soundcore. They were a bit cheaper than Bose, I felt better about spending the money without knowing for sure whether they worked for my needs. They worked. :)

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      We needed a new stick blender awhile back, so I bought a Braun one that comes with multiple attachments: the stick blender, a chopper with a bowl, and a whisk. We used it a couple of times…then a couple more…and then we went OMG THIS THING IS AWESOME. It’s easy to use, powerful, easy to take apart and clean. So I gave one to my mom for Christmas, and she was politely pleased. She called me about 10 days later to tell me that now that she had used it a few times, it was a really cool gadget!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Seconding this! My bowl broke and it isn’t worth replacing the whole thing (too old for spare parts, plus all the other attachments still work and I have a bigger blender). I still miss it sorely on an almost weekly basis, when making dips for two or needing to chop small quantities of nuts.

    7. Liminality*

      My small team is located in multiple-states and my first year with them we did a secret Santa. I made a small amazon wishlist for ease of shipping and threw an 8 inch Himalayan Rock Salt Lamp on it as a whim. That was what my Santa chose to send me.
      I enjoy it so much! I find the pretty pink glow to be peaceful and pleasant. It’s on my desk next to the stuff I use for 8- ish hours on weekdays. I turn it on in the morning and off when I’m done for the day so it’s also a nice bookend moment too!

    8. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I just bought a singular breakfast sandwich maker. I don’t know why. I thought it would be a stupid purchase. And I LOVE it. I’ve made 2 egg/ham/cheese english muffins in the last 3 days I’ve had it. Easy to make a ‘hearty” breakfast now with more protein!

    9. mreasy*

      Loop earplugs – I was sure they would get lost within a week, & skeptical that they would be comfortably in my narrow ear canal ears. I’ve had them for six months or so now, use the XS bud, and they’re a huge improvement over the foam.

    10. Kiki is the Most*

      I saw that someone said ‘noise cancelling headphones’, and I concur but I use airpods.
      …not just for listening to music in public but for WFH. I thought I would NEVER like them–would lose them, they’d fall out of my ears all the time, too much hassle, and lo and behold you’ll never get me to take them out (kidding, I do socialise!). Makes it easier to focus on my work and to also work around the house without music/podcast/tv blaring.

    11. MissCoco*

      A wax warmer (it was a gift, but I think a similar idea), I just didn’t think I would like it, I associate them with overly strong smells, because most people I know who use one are really into candles/smelly stuff. But it has such a nice glow, and I found a local wax melt seller on etsy who does more complex and subtle scents, and now I use it for an hour or two most evenings. Changing up the smell is kind of a fun little self care thing, and will pick smells based on my mood or how I want to feel

  34. Eurostar travel out of London*

    Hello! Looking for help from either the UK or recently-traveled-to-the-UK members of the commentariat. I’m traveling to Europe in the spring and I bought a ticket on the Eurostar to get from London to Amsterdam. I’m a little freaked out by articles I read in the Guardian and NYT this week about how much trouble passport control is having timely processing people. I’ve done the Chunnel several times before and since I don’t have an EU passport I always factored in extra time, but that was all pre-Brexit changes. Of course I booked an early train before I read about all this, so now I’m wondering if I should get a hotel closer to the station so I will only have to wake up annoyingly early instead of absurdly early to get there, or if I should just fly instead.

    Unfortunately the articles I read were both more “summary of chaos!!” and not “here is how it will impact you, future traveler,” so I can’t really get a sense of the actual experience, and maybe it’ll just be an extra hour of waiting and otherwise it’ll be fine! So I’d love to hear from someone who’s done this recently and what their experience is!

    1. American in London*

      I just took that train last week from London to Amsterdam. Got there an hour ahead of time and was through security and passport control in 5 minutes.

      I flew back from Amsterdam the same day so I can’t speak to passport control going the other way, but I think if you are there 90 minutes ahead of time you should be fine.

    2. Cordelia*

      I’ve done the London to Paris recently, first time since Brexit, and my experience was the “extra hour of waiting” rather than the “total disaster and I wish I’d flown instead”. Get in the queue as early as you can, before the gate opens – we were dawdling about the station having a leisurely breakfast and only went to join the queue at the time the gate opened, I think thats 90 minutes before the train. That worked fine pre-Brexit (lots of things worked fine pre-Brexit…) but was a definite mistake on our part, the queue was very lengthy at that point. Still better than flying though.

    3. Tiny clay insects*

      You will be fine. Yes, you need to get there early and may have to wait in some lines, but if you can do that at an airport you can do it at St Pancras or Centraal Station. I just did London to Paris on Jan 12 and took a group of 17 people thru (leading a tour), it went smoothly, if a bit boringly, to have to arrive early and all that. Then last week I had a client (I’m a travel agent) do Amsterdam to London and it went fine.

    4. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      Caveat: I have an EU passport.

      I did London-Brussels in September and the processing at St Pancras was very organised and orderly. Only thing that changed compared to previous years was that you really should show up the recommended 90 minutes before departure – I used to rock up pretty late and get through with barely a line in about 5 minutes. I wouldn’t recommend doing that anymore.
      Get there the recommended amount of time beforehand and plan on standing in line for a bit, but don’t panic – the staff when I traveled made sure everyone got through passport control and on their train in time.

  35. Person from the Resume*

    What can you do about a mail/package in the USPS system that seems to have gone missing?

    I mailed off my passport renewal WITH MY OLD PASSPORT as direct and put tracking on it as recommended. Unfortunately tracking has revealed it got stuck / went missing 1 stop from the passport processing center.

    It’s still marked as delayed delivery but should have been delivered 10 days ago. Do I go to the post office and ask about it? I realized that knowing it seems to be lost doesn’t help me get it not lost.

    If it doesn’t make it I’m stuck redoing my passport renewal through a more difficult and time consuming process because now my old passport was lost in the mail.

    1. YNWA*

      Go to USPS.com and file a report for it as a missing item. It’s amazing how many times missing packages have turned up after filing a report. You can also report it to the Postmaster General since it’s a passport.

      1. Puzzled*

        Came here to say the same thing. I had a package with medication in it that made it to a neighboring town and then there was no tracking updates for a whole week. I filed a missing item report online, and a day or two later the tracking was updated as making it to my local post office. Could be a coincidence, or maybe the missing item report got someone to look for it?

    2. Doc is In*

      Mail sometimes sure is slow. Mailed a graduation check and card to my niece in the same state we live in, and it came back in mail return 2 weeks later ( new apartment address probably explains it). Mailed it again to her parents who live nearby and it took 10 days. Hope it shows up!

    3. Healthcare Worker*

      I just sent off my passport renewal and didn’t realize I should have added tracking. I hope it’s delivered!
      And I hope yours is found soon.

    4. mreasy*

      I would go to the post office. They always find my missing stuff even if it’s been incorrectly filed or marked.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        Thanks! I’ll go tomorrow and I’m crossing my fingers that inspires the Post Office or universal karma to get the package found and moving.

  36. Dainty Lady*

    Related to the thread above about cooking, has anyone tried things like Hungryroot or Saccara (not sure if that’s spelled rightly) or such services to ease the tedium? How was it?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      HelloFresh has been the best overall. It gets repetitive after awhile but most of the recipes are pretty tasty, easy to make, and easy to replicate with regular groceries (my main goal for meal kits is adding something to my repertoire with minimal searching/planning).

      Marley Spoon, the Martha Stewart one, was kind of hit or miss. Some recipes were yummy but several were really bland, and I’m not an adventurous eater. Tons of options each week including a lot of vegetarian options.

      OnePotato – I tried this one because it’s meant to be kid friendly and wasn’t impressed. They have a lot of size options but not a lot of menu choices, and the portions were always weird. Like in the same box one meal barely had enough for two people and then another resulted in a week of leftovers? Packaging was also weird, and the recipes didn’t have quantities listed which made them hard to replicate later.

      AcmeBox – this one is local to the PNW and I really liked it, but they only have one size option (family of 4-6) so it wasn’t a good fit for our smaller family with young picky kids. I would definitely keep subscribing if they had a half size option.

    2. the cat's ass*

      I’ve done Hello Fresh (nope-things arrived late and had gone bad on multiple tries) and Blue Apron (kind of expensive and time-consuming, so not great when you work a 10 hour shift and arrive home exhausted). BA is great for the weekends, tho.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Dinnerly was terrible. The ordering and delivery process was mucked up enough that they had actually refunded my order before it was delivered, and then when it did get delivered it had already gone so bad that I could smell it without opening the box, even when it was only about fifteen degrees outside, so I didn’t even bring it in, just chucked it straight into the outdoor bin.

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      I really liked Hungryroot. To me, it’s more of a grocery service. I also do Blue Apron, but I might stop because the recipes that interest me are always sold out even though I pick my recipes the same day they open. I wasn’t a fan of Hello Fresh because all I was getting from them were one pot meals, which is fine occasionally but not as much as they were sending. It’s been a while since I used them, so maybe they’re different now.

    5. E*

      My sister did HungryRoot and liked it okay (with a lot of supplementation). I’m a pretty healthy eater but I found it tasted too “healthy” when I tried hers.

      Daily Harvest – I just ordered for a friend with a new baby and she said the meals were good!

    6. Roland*

      I use Acme which is a smaller company that does local delivery in the PNW, and picks up the previous box and icepack each time as well. I would really recommend looking for something like that where you live – I got a box from one of the bigger national brands exactly once wnd could not stomach the amount of plastic and icepack waste I’d end up with week after week.

    7. Clisby*

      My grad school daughter tried HelloFresh because a classmate who used it regularly gave her an introductory coupon – I think she got something like 3 meals for just the shipping cost.

      She liked the meals and said they were absolutely worth the shipping cost, but for her, not the total cost. She still makes one or two of those meals but just buys the ingredients at the store, which is way cheaper. However, she’s a competent cook and has been for some time. It easily could be worth it for someone who doesn’t like to cook or has very little experience cooking. She had no problem with the menus.

    8. Green Mug*

      I just started a subscription to HungryRoot. The food is easy to prepare. The portions are large enough that everyone has enough. My favorite part is not meal planning for the week. However, the food itself is not high quality. The rice is that precooked, microwave in a bag rice. Not sure if I’ll stick with it.

      We also tried Daily Harvest. We liked the food. You get actual fruit for the smoothies and chopped vegetables on the flatbreads. However, their plans required us to buy too much food. Everything is frozen. We couldn’t consume frozen food fast enough to use that service. The meals are flatbreads or bowls. There’s not a lot of variety.

  37. Housewarming gift ideas*

    Does anyone have suggestions for a housewarming gift? A friend recently left her husband and is starting over in a small apartment with her two kids. I’d normally get her a gift card because she needs so many practical basics, but I’ve lent her money already so what I’m looking for is more along the lines of a fun gift for her new place. The max I can spend is $100. She had mentioned that she wanted a “house hippo” (a ceramic figurine that’s supposed to bring good luck) so I’m considering that, but I’d like to get her something else as well. Anyway, any suggestions would be appreciated! :)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My default housewarming gift is homemade cookies in a nice container. That way the host gets a treat and, well, a container. Either that or a cozy throw blanket.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Sherpa throws are epic when you’re in a new place. Get cuddly on the couch, make a sofa that doesn’t match the walls yet look better, amp up the warmth on your bed if you’re making do with your summer duvet. I think the frontage of a house is the last place to get attention so a potted bay tree would be a cheery addition; possibly with some bulbs for spring? It’s considered traditional in some places to give kitchen gifts like bread, oil and salt and I also think it’s practical to give people a few staples they can pick at while unpacking, possibly as a hamper with a few kitchen tools added in.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Did any other Canadians feel immediately obligated to point out that house hippos don’t exist? (“Think about it!”)

      It’s a PSA commercial from the late 1990s that aimed to promote critical thinking in children watching TV: https://youtu.be/TijcoS8qHIE (it’s also v cute!)

      1. Sigrid says Hey*

        This Canadian kind of wanted to say that I love house hippos ever since my nephew was small and together, after watching the ad, we made up many stories about our house hippos. We also created nesting sites and left little piles of string and dryer fluff near by.

    4. Firebird*

      Definitely the house hippo and maybe a couple of stuffed hippos for the kids. She might also like a stuffed mama hippo of her own. During panini Zoom meetings, I found out there are sooo maaany adults with stuffed animals.

      The cookie mix (along with all needed supplies) would be a good family activity. I also like the Disney+ idea that others have mentioned.

    5. E*

      I’d get her something fun and indulgent for the kitchen that’s also returnable / exchangeable so she can swap for some other items she may need more if desired. I’m thinking something like a pasta machine (fun activity w kids depending on how old they are) or a nice blender?

    6. Janet Pinkerton*

      A custom painting of the new home. You can get them for under $100 on Etsy! I used ArtsybitsyCreations and was very, very happy.

    7. Housewarming gift ideas*

      Thank you all for these great suggestions! I just knew this community would have better recommendations than I was finding elsewhere. I appreciate you all!

    8. Chaordic One*

      Before “house hippo” became a thing, my mother received a ceramic replica of an Egyptian hippo artifact named “William” as a gift. “William” is one of her most treasured possessions and kind of like her own personal “house hippo.” I’m sure you can still buy replicas of William. Google him and see what comes up.

  38. Liminality*

    A house hippo sounds charming! :)
    I tend to be inclined toward useful gifts. E.g. mixing bowls, measuring cups and boxed cookie mix, or a battery organizer with an array of aaa, aa, and 9 volts, or maybe a digital gift like a year long subscription to netflix/disney+. Wind chimes can be a fun thing, or a sun catcher to hang in a window.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With munchkins, yes, Disney+ if she doesn’t already have it. Lots of good family entertainment there!

  39. Spearmint*

    I’m interested in hearing people’s experiences with being (or trying to be) good friends with one of their exes. I’m especially curious about people who remained friends with exes they had dated for a long time (say, more than two years).

    Did you have a period of no contact after the breakup? If so how long? What boundaries did you set once you started seeing each other as friends? Were future partners ok with it or did it cause strain in the relationship? Is there anything you wish you’d done differently?

    1. Double A*

      Yes, one of my exes is one of my best friends. We dated for about 3 years; though we could have gone the fully committed route, he wasn’t going to flex his life plan to include me so we ended up moving to different places. We had about 6 months with no contact that was essential to us transitioning to friends. But now I keep in touch with him more than almost any other friend who I don’t live near; it’s been 10 years. He gave a speech at my wedding. We get along like a house on fire, so I’m glad to still have him as a friend.

      1. Double A*

        To answer your other questions, I did have one boyfriend who was unsettled by my friendship with my ex, but when that boyfriend and I broke up he immediately went back to his last ex so that was a Him problem. My husband has no problem with my friendship.

        My ex and I moved to different locations so physical boundaries were easy. We did have a “benefits” period before we moved away from each other, and there was a brief moment when we could have had a fling between relationships but I told him that it was one thing if we did that after we broke up, but after I’d been in other relationships I didn’t want him to be the ex I slept with whenever I was single, and he understood and respected it. We refrain from flirting or sexual innuendo and don’t talk about our current relationships in intimate detail.

    2. Ginger Baker*

      My exhusband is one of my closest friends. It took a while for us to recover from the ways we (unintentionally) hurt each other during our romantic relationship. We did not have a no-contact period in the beginning, but did have a low-contact period much later, which I credit with us being able to heal and move forward as friends. I (a person who was very fearful for years that no- or low-contact would mean never seeing each other again) now STRONGLY recommend all people wanting an actual friendship with an ex to have a solid no- or low-contact period, and DEFINITELY to block (permanently or temporarily) each other on social media (friends who have taken this advice have reported it was very helpful).

      Personally, I did not have any post-marriage romantic partners who had any issue with me remaining close with my exhusband, but I also select for “very not possessive at all” in my dating and also consider “uncomfortable with exes being friends” a relationship-ending issue for me, so ymmv.

      I love my ex very very much; we made absolutely terrible spouses for each other but are EXCELLENT as friends. Almost twelve years post-divorce (we were married and otherwise together for over ten years before that), we are much closer in values than we were a decade ago, but I still (so freeing!) do not have to concern myself very much at all with those areas where we diverge – a true game-changer and as far as I am concerned, the very best gift of divorce.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I absolutely agree that a low or no contact period is important in resetting the relationship.

    3. Filosofickle*

      I’m very good friends with one ex. We never went low/no contact, we had no boundaries, and it was incredibly hard on me. That was a mistake! For years he was one of my best friends and many of his partners (women) had serious concerns about it, mine (men) less so. At some point I decided we were too enmeshed — his girlfriends were crying on MY shoulder — and I had to step back, but many years later we’re great. We have a lot of friends in common (including his wife) and it all feels normal and positive. I’ve often said it only worked because neither of us treated the other one badly — no yelling, no cheating. And our friendship was the best part of us.

      I’m still figuring this out for my last ex. We were no contact for…9 months? It didn’t feel like enough time, I wasn’t ready, yet if it had gone on much longer I likely would never have talked to him again. Now another year later we’re lightly in touch but keeping a fair amount of distance and I honestly can’t decide if I want us to be “good” friends or not. He’d really like to have me in his life. But the conditions are very different this time — our friendship wasn’t the best part of us, and he didn’t handle the end well. How hard do I want to work at this, especially knowing prospective partners may be alienated by it?

      It was easier for both of them because they are the ones who left. They were already over it, but I needed a lot of time to catch up. If one partner is in a lot of pain or still in love, be very careful.

    4. PoolLounger*

      I’ve been close friends with several exes for years at a time, though they eventually all petered out to just social media connections. Usually there was a period of very little contact, followed by social media contact, texting, then in-person hanging out. Later partners weren’t jealous, and I wouldn’t have dated them if they were. My current partner and I actually became good friends with one of my exes and his current partner, and we’d all hang out and spend weekends together. I always think it’s a good sign when a partner can be at least cordial with exes.

    5. just another queer reader*

      I’ve been friends with several exes until things petered out. Most significantly, I stayed very close with my First Big Relationship ex for about two years. We went no contact for a couple months then gradually got back to spending a lot of our free time together.

      In retrospect I think we were… low-key almost dating.

      It wasn’t an issue with other partners at all. But in the end I think we just weren’t a good fit as friends or as partners. While I value many parts of what our relationship was, I’m glad we’re not in touch anymore.

      I do know lots of other lesbians who are legitimately bffs with their exes! But not me.

    6. mreasy*

      I’m good friends with my ex – we were together six years and had quite a difficult breakup – but we did have a period of no contact. And even then it was a couple of years before we grew into friendship.

    7. allathian*

      I don’t have much experience with exes compared to most people, my husband is only my second serious relationship. My first serious boyfriend and I were ill-suited to each other, and if I’d had a bit more experience, I would’ve left him after 3 months when I realized it wasn’t working, instead of dragging it out to 2 years and 3 months.

      When we broke up, I had absolutely zero interest in staying friends, and so did he. It was a clean break, after which we never spoke again.

      I must say that I find it fascinating that so many people are both willing and able to remain friends after a breakup. When there are kids involved, obviously being able to coparent effectively is the most important consideration, but I really don’t understand why people want to remain friends after a breakup if there’s no real need to be on friendly terms?

      I do know that I wouldn’t like it if my husband remained friends with an ex, but since his friend are all men and mine are all women, it’s not an issue. I had lots of guy friends when I was in college, including some FWBs, but somehow those have all dropped out of my life in the decades since.

    8. Silence*

      I think captain awkward has covered this a lot so maybe search her archives.
      Also depends on if either of you hurt the other or were just incompatible romantically.

  40. Shoutout to The Prettiest Curse*

    Thank you, thank you — you recommended Peppermint Soda a few weeks ago, and it was a movie I’ve been trying to remember the title of for close to 40 years. (Well, maybe 35 years ago I would have still remembered it.). I have very sporadically tried to Google this film with no luck, and now, thanks to you, I’ve re-watched it, and it was lovely!

    Anyone else had a similar experience on AAM — not just a movie, but anything?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Wow, you are welcome! It’s a great film, so glad you enjoyed watching it again. And I’d highly recommend it to anyone else who likes French films or coming-of-age films told from a female perspective.

  41. Movies!*

    What movies have people watched this week! Anything in the Oscar nominations that have piqued your interest?

    I’ve already seen 4 of the 10 Best Picture nominees and plan to see at least three others – I’m definitely not going to see Avatar (never saw the first one; do not feel like hauling over to the Imax theater for the ~ideal viewing experience~). Triangle of Sadness apparently has a lot of puking and All Quiet on the Western Front is apparently a very realistic depiction of trench warfare, and I am squeamish! So TBD on those two.

    1. Elle*

      Banshees was so good. I couldn’t make it through Elvis. I’m hoping to get to Tar this week. The puking scares me about Triangle as well!

    2. Overeducated*

      Not this week, but I recently watched RRR and I absolutely loved it. Just a super fun, over the top movie.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I rewatched The Glass Onion recently. It’s fun to do when you know where it’s going.

      Also watched Bullet Train which was: Assassins on a train, including a snake*. Brad Pitt’s lead was engaging, and I enjoyed Lemon and Tangerine’s repartee, especially as someone who watched a lot of Thomas the Tank Engine. You can see it’s trying to do early Tarantino. I think The Little Prince character could have been recast, as people kept underestimating her based on appearing to be a young school girl, and she did not look like a young school girl to me.

      *Very early in the film there is a news report about the snake stolen from the zoo, so I feel like anyone familiar with movies was not surprised when the snake showed up mid-journey.

    4. Helvetica*

      I finally watched Glass Onion. It was fun! I did see through the twist very fast – mostly because I noticed the sleight-of-hand/false memory moment when it happened (don’t want to spoil!) – but it was still super enjoyable and well made.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I saw the original Avatar not long ago, and had low expectations based on everything I’d heard about it. But I actually enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t think it was as good as the hype, but it was far better than the anti-hype, if that makes sense.

      Then my family wanted to see the sequel. Oh, dear. In this case, I agreed wholeheartedly with the anti-hype. A big snooze.

      I really want to see Everything, Everywhere All At Once.

      I’m very surprised to see Maverick on there. I would expect that it would be a fun ride for fans of the genre or the original, but what brings it up to Best Picture level?

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      If you haven’t seen it, I saw Everything Everywhere All At Once in the theater last summer with my daughter, a music aficionado with a budding interest in film, because she’s a big fan of the directors. It was one of the most head-trippy movies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen some weird ones, but also very touching. Highly recommend.

    7. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed “The Menu” – dark, yes, but I found it quite entertaining. [Caution: it may invoke a serious yearning for a cheeseburger.]

      Not-a-movie but perhaps of interest: HBO’s fungus-zombie-apocalypse series “The Last of Us” – I watched the first episode and enjoyed it, though it’s clear to me that I’m much more interested in the 2003-era flashbacks to the origin of the plague than the 20-years-later grungy-post-apocalypse setting in which the issues are more political than zombie. [Side note: as an avid visitor of Little Free Libraries, I was immensely tickled to spot one – in front of the house of a neighbor of the protagonists in the 2003-era thread!]

    8. Rhiannon*

      I just watched “My Octopus Teacher” (which won an AA a few years ago for best doc.). I can’t begin to describe how so very good it is.

    9. Anono-me*

      ‘Triangle of Sadness’ was a huge disappointment for me. I didn’t care for how the ending was handled But even without that and all the puking; I felt it was mostly just about people being mean, petty, and superficial.

      ‘Elvis’ was incredible. Tom Hanks was wonderful. (I did find his costume distracing as it made me think of a 60s cartoon based TV show bad guy.)

      I haven’t seen ‘A man called Otto’ yet, but it seems like everyone I know has seen it at least once and loved it. Several have volunteered to go again with me. So it sounds promising. (I was a bit worried that they had changed it alot from the book, since they changed the title character’s name.)

      I am going to try to see almost all of the films, except ‘Avatar 2’ and ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ as I didn’t care for the first Avatar movie and I found Remarque’s book very very emotionally difficult and expect the film to be also.

    10. TPS reporter*

      Tar is amazing, I need to watch it again to take it all in.

      I recently also watched 45 Years and that blew my mind.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      Well, I’ve wanted to see “An Cailín Ciuin” or “The Quiet Girl” even before it did so well at the Oscars. It’s back in the cinemas now though so I might get the chance.

      I want to see Glass Onion too.

    12. allathian*

      We’re definitely going to watch Glass Onion soon. Just watched Knives Out over the weekend, and it was fun, in spite of Daniel Craig’s horrible fake Southern accent. I did get used to it in time, but it was very distracting at first.

  42. Emily Elizabeth*

    I’m starting to bake more this year and looking for recommendations for trusted baking bloggers! I know everyone has their own variations on staples like pie crust, basic breads, etc – hoping to hear about websites/cookbooks that deliver on their recipes consistently, as I’m certain to have many of my own learning errors, haha.

    1. Emma*

      Midwest Made is a great cookbook for baking! I’ve only had 1 recipe that I wasn’t wild about. Lots of tasty stuff!

      1. Reba*

        They also answer questions on the recipe pages and you can call them for help!

        Smitten Kitchen is a perennial resource for me — she posts her own as well as others’ recipes, and I feel like I have learned a lot from the way she talks about the adaptations she makes (not least, often using fewer bowls!).

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Love KAF. One of the few places on the Internet where I read the comments. Always my go-to when I’m looking to experiment with new recipes.

    2. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      Sally’s Baking Addiction has had really good cake/cupcake recipes, and she also has posts that clearly explain the “why” behind something (like why you need to have dairy ingredients at room temperature). King Arthur Baking has also turned out well for me.

      1. cat socks*

        +1 to Sally’s Baking Addiction. Once Upon a Chef and Mel’s Kitchen Cafe are food blogs, but I’ve tried baking/dessert recipes too.

      2. marvin*

        As a former cookbook editor, I will attest that Sally’s recipes are consistently reliable and well written. It’s on the short list of resources I’ll go to when I’m trying to learn a new skill.

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I love the blog called Patisserie Makes Perfect. Some of the recipes are aspirational for me (she experiments a lot with fancy bakes I don’t have the time or equipment for), but I’ll get to those one day, and meanwhile, there are many simpler recipes she gets just right.

      The honey and vanilla madeleines recipe is a gem (pretty much failsafe, I have no desire to ever use a different one), and I recently tried her cinnamon buns with chocolate chips, which were delightful.

      As for cookbooks, if you enjoy Middle-Eastern flavours, look up the Honey & Co. Baking Book. It’s from the chefs at my favourite London restaurant, and the recipes are very well written – every time I follow one I feel I’m in very good hands.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Not a blog, but any cookbook by Maida Heatter is the absolute BEST for baking. Her recipes are foolproof and she explains everything really well.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          LOL! My copy of her chocolate desserts book is covered in…chocolate. That is a stunningly wonderful cookbook if you like chocolate.

    5. Emma2*

      I would say anything by Dorie Greenspan – she is an amazing for baking recipes (she worked with Julia Child on “Baking with Julia” and Pierre Herme on “Pierre Herme’s Desserts”). I would suggest her book “Baking from my home to yours” – the recipes in that book are very much aimed at the home baker. The book is not new (it was probably published 10-15 years ago), but still well worth it.
      Dorie has a website so you can try out some of her recipes there to see what you think; she also has a newsletter.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      I really love The Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. I make a version of her lahmacun (basically a lamb pizza) pretty often and it gets raves. It’s also good for “So have you always wanted to try steak and kidney pie?” which I have not done yet, but it’s the sort of thing I might do.

      The cheese and potato hand pies are also excellent.

      1. Pippa K*

        Two of my go-to desserts are Nigella recipes: a chocolate-Guinness cake and her chocolate-tahini-banana pudding.

        If you like (savory) pies, there’s a great cookbook from about 10 years ago just called “Pie,” by Angela Boggiano. I use it often and have given it as a gift to a fellow pie-lover.

        And when it comes to scones, I think Mary Berry’s recipe should be in everyone’s repertoire!

        1. carcinization*

          Oh good lord, chocolate tahini banana pudding is definitely happening for a Valentine’s Day-ish dessert in my household now! I love tahini, my husband loves banana pudding, and both of us love chocolate!

    7. OxfordBlue*

      I have just bought Erin Jeanne McDowell’s latest book Savory Baking because I’m a big fan of her Bake It Up A Notch series on YT. A lot of Erin’s recipes are available on Food52.com which has a comment facility below each one which I find very useful. Other free websites which I find are very good sources of reliable baking recipes are Nigella, Delia, Good Housekeeping UK, BBC GoodFood, Sainsbury’s Magazine and the Guardian newspaper.

    8. Sunshine*

      Americas test kitchen is my fav. Their recipies are so researched and scientific. I love their pie crust with vodka ( people who don’t like pie crust have rave about it). Also they’re browned butter chocolate chip cookies. Mmmmmm.
      I also like Macrina bakery’s cookbook. I love their potato bread.
      Happy baking!

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Same!

        My go-to for bread baking is still Bernard Clayton. He passed away some time ago, but you can find his cookbooks easily online or at used bookstores. His instructions are clear, & he gives timings in the margins, as well as how to do things by hand, mixer, or food processor. I will earn you, he was writing before kitchen scales were common household equipment, so all his measurements are by volume.

    9. Brrrr*

      Smitten Kitchen makes everything sound so amazing that I just can’t wait to make it, and everything I’ve made has turned out well.

      For celebration cakes I used to love Sweetapolita. A few years ago she changed the layout of her blog and I don’t care as much for the new look, but most of the recipes are still there and they are very solid recipes. Her chocolate cake was my go-to for years, and I love her whipped vanilla frosting.

  43. Emma*

    And if you’re on Facebook, there’s a Food52 Baking Club. They cook through a different baking cookbook each month! You can see which recipes others like. It’s how I found Midwest Made!

  44. HannahS*

    Advice on keeping a toddler safe around dogs (or cats,) please! I did not grow up around dogs or cats.

    The specific situations I run into regularly are:
    1. We’re in a small park that doesn’t have an off-leash area. People have their dogs off leash. A dog approaches me/my toddler.

    2. My aunt’s brother-in-law brings his dog over to her house when we’re all invited for dinner. There are no little children in either home usually, and I don’t know the dog or the BIL. I’m told “Don’t worry, the dog is very gentle!” (This does not make me not worry.)

    So. What to do? My inclination is that my toddler’s interaction with animals should be pretty much hands-on facilitated by me, with the owner hands-on with the animal, to minimize the chance of anyone doing anything unexpected. As someone more experienced with children and pets, how do you gauge risk?

    1. Emma*

      I have taught my kid to always ask the owner if it’s ok to pet the dog (if that’s something kid is interested in) before touching. And then to just pat the body, not the face, feet, tail, etc. As kiddo has gotten older we’ve worked on petting with the grain vs against the grain.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Advice I got patting dolphins: You would rather someone pat you on the shoulder or back than between your eyes. Kids can probably identify with that.

      2. Chaordic One*

        With dogs, they will probably be curious, so let them come up and smell you. Usually they will be wagging their tails in a friendly manner. Let them smell around your legs and feet. (Hopefully, they won’t pee on you. They usually don’t.) Then slowly move your hand in front of them and if they are still wagging their tail, hold your had with fingers together and open palm and let them smell your palm. From there you can usually move to petting them by slowly moving your hand to their shoulder are or the back of their neck, or back of the head, back of the ears area. Be slow and cautious. You don’t want to startle the animal in any way.

    2. Bibliovore*

      you are right. its all risk.
      So.
      Dog is not familiar with the child.
      Niether is free range.
      It is okay to ask the homeowner to leash their dog inside to keep safe.
      Also the toddler should never be free-range around a dog they don’t know.
      Inside a house both the dog and the child are continuously supervised.
      Child is introduced to the dog on nuetral ground- not near a food bowl or their dog bed/safe place.
      Short introduction. child away from dog’s face.
      dog has an exit.
      Child is encourage to be gentle, gentle gentle.
      Everyone back to their own corners.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        All this great advice. Bottom line: ZERO unsupervised interaction between toddler and dog.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          And, don’t forget that there is risk your toddler could hurt the dog and then things decline from there. Once found an unsupervised niece (after much promising on the part of my SIL that she would watch her daughter non stop while I was trying to get a meal of the table) attempting to stick a pencil up my 80 pound pitbull’s nose. Clearly this dog was the most tolerant gal on the face of the planet, but if it had gone much further, I cannot vouch for the safety of anyone.

        2. Clisby*

          +1000. Even if OP had a dog herself, it should never be alone with a toddler. Dogs are friendly and harmless until … they’re not.

    3. MissCoco*

      There is a very good instagram page called dogmeetsbaby with a lot of information about dog body language, and safe dog-baby interactions. She has some free resources on her website as well.

      Dog approaching you/toddler would personally have me picking toddler up if I could, and possibly calling out to the dog owner a request to recall or leash their dog. I would definitely teach your children not to interact with strange dogs without permission from the owner and yourself.

      I would hold firm with SIL that even though you agree the dog is very gentle and wonderful, you aren’t going to let him be around your child unsupervised. This may not help much, but the fact is, it’s not up for discussion, and it might help to remind her that you aren’t commenting on the dog’s behavior, this is just your rule. “Fido is so sweet, but [insert boundary here]” Your toddler could hurt or upset the dog, or the dog could hurt or upset the toddler even if it’s the best dog in the universe, and the fact is, you get to have rules about your child’s safety, and no one else has to think they are good ones.
      Depending on actual behavior, relative size of dog and toddler, impulse control etc that might mean they aren’t in the same room alone or that there need to be 2 adults when they are in the same room, or that the dog needs to be leashed, or whatever makes sense for you.

    4. Sloanicota*

      sadly with approaching off-leash dogs – a hazard where I live too – my instinct would be to pick a small child up and back away, but our own dog’s trainer said sometimes dogs are more aroused by things being carried (“how’d it get up there? Can I get up there?”) , so I’m not positive that’s the right call.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My elder dog is that way – she’s fine with the cats until someone picks them up, at which point they go from the same cats she’s been hanging around with for eight years to Very Very Interesting and something that must be investigated.

    5. BookMom*

      No advice but commiseration that it’s crappy for people to have their dogs off leash in a public park that isn’t designated for such. A lot of people overestimate their dog’s safety level with strangers and children. My own kid was nipped by a family member’s overeager German Shepherd with a herding instinct while the kid was totally minding his own business and not provoking the dog in any way. (I was right there and would have swooped him to safety and taken the bite myself but it came completely out of nowhere.) Plus a lot of people are allergic/scared/not safe with how they approach dogs. I like pets, but I am not okay with everyone inflicting their dogs on everyone. I think it’s totally reasonable to ask people to leash their dogs but this may not be a comfortable option in your particular area.

    6. Double A*

      Anyone who lets their dog off leash in a leash-required area, lets their dog rush up to unknown children, or makes blanket statements about their dog’s behavior in novel situations has already proved themselves an untrustworthy dog owner when it comes to managing their dog around my kids. Thus, I assume the dog will bite and act accordingly. I pick up my child whenever a strange dog approaches and I don’t put them down until the dog has passed. If it’s not possible to pick up my kid, I keep myself between them and the dog. I just find that many, many dog owners have trained their dogs well and don’t have good control over them. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to think they do but their dog’s complete lack of response to their verbal commands when the dog is excited tells me otherwise…

      In your BILs house it’s a little trickier. I would approach it as you don’t want to set the dog up to fail, so you’d like slow and controlled introductions and supervised interactions. You trust the dog is generally gentle but a little person is weird for dogs.

      This is how we approached my Mil’s dogs (with her lead, actually, she didn’t want her dogs to hurt a grandkid). Now my oldest is 4 (and two of the dogs have died, reducing the pack to 3), we’re more relaxed about the interactions, though there’s still one dog that we keep an eye on. He’s pretty skiddish so he tends to give the kids space, but there will never be a time he’s not a bite risk because of his temperament and history.

      In terms of cats, most cats will give new kids a wide berth so the opportunity for damage is less. Most people who have a cat who will act friendly but turn if pushed the wrong way know this, and even the most gregarious cat won’t be insistent about interacting with a kid if you redirect it.

    7. What Is Sleep Even*

      No-one’s talked about cats yet, so I’ll go. (Credentials: cat owner who’s volunteered at a shelter making introductions between cats and people.) Cats vary a whole lot on how they like being touched and where, and what they will do when they don’t like an interaction. (I have also seen cats (not all cats) put up with a whole bunch of nonsense from small children that they would not tolerate from adults.)

      Very safe toddler-cat interaction: slow blinking. If you have a cat’s attention, blink at her slowly, and see if she blinks back. This is sort of a “hello friend” in Cat. (For most cats. One of mine missed the memo.)

      Also: treats. My cats are not wild about children, but love treats. I give visiting children dry cat treats and ask them to throw the treats for the cats. Cats chase treats, everyone is happy. (This may not work for cats accustomed to being hand-fed.)

      Absolutely supervise approaching and touching, ideally consulting with the cat’s owner. Slow approach and brief interaction is best in any case. Safest petting option is the back – behind the head to the tail. A lot of cats do not like having their paws or bellies touched.

      Cats may swat, or bite in order to end an unwanted behavior. They may swat without claws first, the way they would teach a kitten – this is still scary for a kid.

      1. Clisby*

        Yes, I commented above about never leaving a toddler alone with a dog, but it’s not a bad idea to follow the same rule for cats. At least in my experience, cats are more likely than dogs to respond to unwelcome attention by fleeing, but certainly a cat can bite or scratch a child.

    8. Invisible fish*

      As someone with both dogs and cats, I simply CANNOT with pet owners who just breezily say “Oh, it’s fine!! Fluffy is so gentle!” It’s not fine, and your instincts are 100% on the mark. Children don’t yet know enough about their environment and those they share it with in order to keep themselves safe. Pets are dependents who must always be supervised because their behaviors are not human behaviors. Your idea about you being in charge of interacting is correct – short, supervised meetings with close attention paid to how the animal is acting while helping the child learn how to interact with someone fluffy that doesn’t talk. Good on you and all the responsible people here!

    9. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      Going against the grain here… Do NOT have your child “pat” an animal on the body. Dogs and cats do better (in general) with more constant contact than with start/stop contact. They also do better with cheek/ear area scratches/pets than in the body. This is where friendly dogs/cats will sniff/lick – very different from us people!

      There are some great online resources for learning how to read dog and cat body language. I recommend you look at those because it will help you read any given situation! Think body language charts.

      Also, while most animals like treats, some can be aggressive around food, or unintentionally hurt a Wee One in excitement over food.

      (Sourcing: Fear Free Shelters online training and Animal Behaviorists at the shelter I volunteer at)

    10. Pamela Adams*

      With the off leash dog, I would get down on the toddler’s level, hold them close, and say in a loud firm voice “Go Away, Dog!”. With luck, this will both discourage the dig, and get the attention of the careless owner.

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      A bit more for preschoolers and elementary–there’s a level of abstract reasoning involved in taking a different point of view–I explain that dogs don’t understand English. If you make high squeaky sounds, that means you want to play. If you run, it means you want to play chase. If you use a very deep firm voice, that means “stop.”

  45. Girasol*

    I bought a Copper Chef non-stick skillet and it lasted one year. It’s wonderful for omelets. You can’t heat it empty, though, and I didn’t know that warming a tortilla qualifies as empty. One tortilla destroyed its surface. Its replacement is a year and a half old and omelets are starting to stick. Does anyone have a recommendation for a small skillet that’s free of forever chemicals and keeps its non-sticky nature longer?

    1. Ginger Baker*

      Personally I find a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is pretty much nonstick. But, ymmv (I do use a small amount of oil but it takes very little and nothing sticks – plus I can use all my regular forks on it, which to me is well worth it). Hopefully others have good nonstick-specific recommendations!

    2. BRR*

      Nonstick coatings don’t really last a long time. I would recommend cast iron or carbon steel. I’ve been loving my first carbon steel pan that I got recently.