weekend open thread – April 8-9, 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: Small Admissions, by Amy Poeppel. A grad student whose life is falling apart takes a job as an admissions officer at a private school and chaos and hilarity ensure. Her writing reminds me a lot of Elinor Lipman, who I love.

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

{ 922 comments… read them below }

  1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

    Can someone tell me I am not a failure because I couldn’t bring my 60 pound window ac unit up three flights of stairs by myself?

    I knew I could submit a request to my apartment complex to have them install the unit, but I thought I’d at least be able to bring it up to my place.

    But it’s huge. And heavy. And I do not have the equipment (like dollys) or another person to help me. So now maintenance is gonna have to bring it up and install it. And presumably they have both the tools and extra people (or can get them) to do this project. And I’m sure they’re more used to stuff like this, the fridges and oven and appliances had to get up here somehow at one point in time.

    But I feel so bad. I wanted them to install the unit because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle it on my own. And I feel so guilty that now it’s sitting in the lobby and they have to bring it up. If it were only about 10 pounds lighter, maybe it would be different. Usually not having an elevator doesn’t bother me, but now….

    1. Michelle Smith*

      Those units are deceptively heavy. And I’m not sure why you think you’re a failure for needing help, but you’re definitely not. I’ve always gotten my super to install my window units and I don’t even give it a second thought. And I’m in an elevator building!

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        They ARE deceptively heavy!!!

        And I’m just hoping the unit fits and I don’t have to worry about returning it, which means I’d need to bring it back down the stairs, get it into an Uber, and go to the store itself (and then repeat this process with the second, smaller unit). Hopefully a few pounds is just packaging and I could break it down and bring it in multiple parts? But I’ll cross that bridge when and if I come to it and I’m trying to not let anxiety get the better of me.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Did you measure your window before buying the AC unit? I hope so.

          And ACs don’t break into multiple parts to bring up the stairs. I don’t know if that’s what you meant, or if you meant just taking off the box and othe packaging.

    2. Countess Sardine*

      Dude, 60 pounds is a lot to haul any amount of distance, never mind up three flights of stairs. And you could have injured yourself or someone else if you’d tried. Good for you for not being too stubborn to ask for help.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        60 pounds is also a lot heavier than I thought!

        But yeah, even if I had people to help, unless I knew they were movers or people who move heavy things a lot, I wouldn’t ask. Just because like you said, the risk of injuring yourself is pretty high.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          60lbs is definitely a team lift category!! Especially up 3 flights of stairs!! Appliances are big and unevenly weighted. I’m so glad you’re getting professionals to do it. I know we all want to be Wonder Woman, but you only get one body.

        2. Sloanicota*

          Having tried to move these before, it’s not *just* the weight, it’s also such a big bulky shape to try and get a hold of or transport. I couldn’t get my arms around it or under it correctly to make any progress. Three flights of stairs is totally un-doable.

        3. Blackcat*

          I have moving straps because the people who delivered our washer dryer left them behind. They’re GREAT. They let you carry the weight of awkward heavy things with better parts of your body.

          Otherwise, a 60lb box is a lot. It’s a lot of weight to carry in an odd shape. Even if you could carry a 60lb backpack, a 60lb box is challenging for most.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Nope. I wouldn’t carry it in from my garage into the main level of my house, let alone up any stairs.

      (That said, for other folks who have a buddy and an occasional need to move heavy things around: You can get a set of straps that hook either onto your forearms or over your shoulders, between two people, to help carry large heavy and/or unwieldy things. Amazon has them for under $20 and it is significantly easier than trying to carry large loads with your hands alone. My husband refuses to move my treadmill around without them and I don’t blame him.)

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I’ll look into these straps, they might be good to have just in case!

      2. Jackie*

        hubby and i bought one in 2014! i just checked my amazon account–it’s called a “Pot Lifter” was $40 then, because I refused to help him keep moving the huge potted cactus. highly recommend-save your back!

      3. KatEnigma*

        We have a dolly/cart (the handles move) and a set of ratcheting straps so my HUSBAND can move things. It’s not weakness or whatever, it’s using the right tools for the job. If you don’t have the tools, it makes sense to hire people who do.

        I’m not even sure how OP thinks 60 lbs is so insignificant that they “should” be able to haul it up 3 flights of stairs.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I mean, that’s a lot of weight! And worse, bulky and unwieldy. I could carry 60 lbs of dog food, or better yet a child who can piggyback and do the work of staying on themself, up 3 flights of stairs. My thighs would be burning and I would be regretting my life choices, but I could do it. I couldn’t carry a 60 lb AC unit. They are too big and there is nowhere to hang onto.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I was thinking about that. Like, I’m sure I’ve carried 60 pounds of groceries up in one go. But that was in a backpack, and in multiple bags on my arms. I regretted my life choices in buying so much, and my thighs burned and I was partially crying by the time I got to my apartment, but I got it done.

        This is different, though, you’re right!

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Ah, yes, the “of course I will carry everything in one trip” syndrome. I am afflicted with it too. Because two trips would be too much work, even though they’d actually be easier.

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            Right?! It would be so much easier to do two trips, or more sometimes. And yet…. I don’t know a single person who would make multiple trips if they didn’t absolutely have to, even if that meant balancing a load of bread on their head!

      2. Lilo*

        Yes a 50 pound bag of flour (I used to work in a bakery) is way easier to carry than an equivalent weight AC unit because of the shape and uneven weight distribution of the unit.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          Yep. 50 lbs of flour was much easier to carry than a 50lb box of potatoes. My arms just weren’t long enough. I weep when I think of the muscles I had in those days. Restaurant work plus gym rat boyfriend who urged me to lift weights meant I was so strong in my 20s. Then came grad school and officr work.

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            :’) I used to work at a restaurant. I’m sure I never carried 60 pounds with of dishes, but I know I carried more dishes at one time than I should have. Trash too….

    5. RedinSC*

      The DIY is strong in many of us. BUT knowing one’s limits is also good.

      This is the kind of thing that is best left to the folks who do this kind of thing. What I’d worry about is the AC unit falling OUT that window and smushing something below.

      There is no shame is getting help! Glad you did.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Ngl. That is a large part of why I wanted maintenance to install the unit, so they can hopefully prevent it from falling out the window…!

      2. Rosemary*

        THIS. A/Cs should ALWAYS be installed by someone who knows what they are doing. NO shame whatsoever in asking for help. In fact, my building REQUIRES that A/Cs be installed by the building handyman so they can be sure it was installed properly.

    6. kina lillet*

      Hey, if you’re annoyed about the limitations of your human body, you’re in good company with the rest of humanity.

      Plus ACs are balanced very very awkwardly, and while you might be able to carry 60lb in some other grip, up the stairs with the huge awkward weight directly in front is tough.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Trueeee. At least I’m not alone. :’)

        I’m sure an elevator would have made it easier, but even with that I’m not sure I’d have been able to get it up to my apartment. It’s heavy and bulky and awkward!

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          What you don’t want is a pulled muscle in your back that, every time that spot hurts years later, you think, that’s from hauling that AC unit up the stairs.
          Care for your body. It’s the only one you get!

          1. No Bueno*

            I pulled a muscle in my back when my dog tripped me because when I fell, I twisted awkwardly so I wouldn’t land on and hurt him. That was almost 4 years ago, and it’s always the spot that hurts first when I’m tired or my back is acting up.

    7. Milo*

      I lift weights and while I can lift 65 lbs above my head (in a gym setting with a perfectly balanced bar and weights) I don’t think I could carry a 60lbs air conditioner up 3 flights of stairs. Air conditioners are unbalanced and really difficult to carry! And that’s a lot of steps! Definitely don’t feel bad about yourself!

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        This whole thread is making me feel better, slowly, but this comment helps. Like, it’s not that I’m not physically strong enough, the unit is just very awkward (and heavy). And I’m short.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          And if there is a turn on the stairs or landing you can do real damage to that little muscle on the outside of your spine that helps you turn. It’s critical muscle, about the size of your thumb. Don’t ask me how I know that!

        2. Double A*

          Center of gravity REALLY matters. If you can adjust something so it’s closer to your body, you can use leg and core strength to lift. If it’s farther away from your center, you’re needing to use all kinds of awkward, small stabilizing muscles that are not made or trained for that kind of weight. If you’re carrying the unit in your arms, it’s not going to be possible to get the center of gravity close enough to you. This is why carrying a 60 lb backpack sucks but is doable for some people. Even putting that back pack on your front is a totally different story.

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            See I love stuff like this!!! Thank you for explaining.

    8. Fish*

      Carrying things up stairs is the worst! I’m reasonably strong- I used to regularly have to carry my 70lb dog up the stairs (until we decided that maybe the elderly dog shouldn’t be allowed in the basement anymore.) I definitely don’t think I could have carried her up three flights of stairs, and she was a lot easier to hang on to than something awkward like an air conditioner!

    9. Ochre*

      Ours is probably 40 pounds and getting it up 2 flights to store in the attic is the most I can handle. They’re just unwieldy! If it’s in the maintenance contract for your building, it’s a totally reasonable ask. Also then you won’t have to worry about accidentally denting a wall.

      Other options if you are really bothered by this: consider buying a hand truck and a strap (only useful if you have room to store it and would use it a lot), or ask the super if they have a hand truck and strap you can use. (YouTube should be a good source for how to do stairs with a hand truck.)

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        So I did ask the building management well before ordering, and they said maintenance can install my unit and all I have to do is place a request in like I usually do. They’re good about getting things done within a couple days (not including the weekend). Unfortunately my unit will be hanging out in the lobby for a few days but hopefully everyone understands.

        I unfortunately don’t know if moving the unit is included/okay, but surely the office has considered that not everyone has the manpower/resources/ability to get heavy stuff upstairs…. I’m assuming they do have the resources to move it up, and if not I’ll hire movers to move it or something.

    10. anon24*

      I just want to chime in. I’m an EMT (not currently employed as one), I’ve carried entire human beings down multiple flights of stairs (with assistance) and also carried entire human beings short distances by myself. I had to be able to lift 150 pounds and haul all kinds of heavy equipment up 2 flights of steps to pass the physical for my last job, and I would absolutely not want to carry a 60 lb AC unit up 3 flights of stairs by myself! If maintenance has the equipment to do it properly, let them, there’s no reason to risk injuring yourself!

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Honestly I’m just assuming and hoping they have the equipment to move it up. (I feel like a hand trick, which I will be looking into for myself so I can at least provide some equipment, and another person should work. Maybe a single person could do it if they strap the unit to the hand truck and go slowly up.)

        Anyway. Thank you for your service as an EMT and I’m so glad to know a bunch of other people also wouldn’t move this unit up three flights!

        1. LilPinkSock*

          Honestly, if I had to carry a 60-pound AC unit up three flights, an EMT would probably be needed as well. :-)

          1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

            Same! That assumes I even make it to the third floor…. ;)

    11. KR*

      With appliances like that, a lot of time it’s the size/weight distribution more than the weight. I’ve had stuff that I feel like I should be able to lift, and probably could if it was shaped a different way or had a different type of handle/surface. For example, something about my vacuum is such a pain to get up the stairs and I struggle with it so much even though it’s relatively light. So idk, I hope this makes you feel better friend

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I totally get that! If I could, like, distribute the 60 pounds, it would be a lot more manageable. I could do in it multiple trips (if I had to). But this thing is so heavy and awkward, I can’t do it. And that’s okay (what I keep telling myself), hopefully they understand.

    12. JSPA*

      If something like that slips, it can crush your hand or foot, or throw you off-balance such that you tear something that requires months to heal. And at the same time, they’re increasingly flimsy. The two-person carry is 100% the way to go on this. If it were just a heavy box, you could probably do the slow roll up the stairs, but that’d be terrible for an A/C. So you’re making a wise choice.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I did try to see if I could push it up the stairs and that was a no go even at a snails pace. I’m also not a talk person. Anyway, yeah, I know I made the smart choice and hopefully that clicks in my head soon and everything works out and is okay in the end….

    13. DannyG*

      Easter 9 years ago. Was getting my late wife into the van to go to sunrise service. After getting her seated I decided to load the wheelchair into the back rather than using the lift. Had done this many times before. This time I felt a pop in my back. Got home, back to sleep, when I woke up I had no strength in my left leg and alternating numbness and burning pain. Dr said L3-L4 nerve pinch. I dodged surgery, but years later I still have occasional reminders of that experience. Lifting and turning at the same time caused the problem. Lesson learned. Discretion is the better part when you can avoid the ER and months of PT.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        I’m so sorry about your wife. And also sorry for your injury.

        Luckily this thing is heavy enough where I couldn’t even attempt to move it past the lobby, but I could see myself doing what you did.

    14. Shopgirl*

      I’m a powerlifter and I wouldn’t be able to do it. Feel no shame. They are also awkwardly sized and hard to hold. It’s not worth dropping it or getting hurt.

    15. FD*

      For context, jobs that regularly require people to lift more than 50 pounds usually say that because it’s not something a lot of people can do.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      You are not a failure! Window ACs are heavy and awkward and delicate. This is what maintenance people do — I’m sure it’s not the first time they’ve installed an AC. The last time I got one, I did it myself, but it was a tiny one. But before that, I had a bigger one and I absolutely needed help, and there weren’t any stairs.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        You’re right, this is what they do and I’m sure this isn’t the first AC unit they’ve installed either! (And I’m glad I asked management I’d they could help before I ordered.)

    17. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I stopped home brewing by age 40 because carrying 5gallon carboys up & down ONE story was just too much for me. And a carboy is easier than anbAC unit– no sharp edges, taller than wider, and no awkward off-balance weight.

      You’re just human — say thank-you, tell their boss(es) they did a great job, and tip if it’s standard in your country/building. Offer cookies if it’s not. :)

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Ooo I’m going to leave a $ for them! Not sure if they can even accept tips, but regardless I plan on letting the building manager know. Thank you for the suggestion! :)

        You’re right, I’m only human.

    18. RussianInTexas*

      I am not sure why you should feel guilty. If your apartment complex has a maintenance crew included in your lease, it’s their job. I wouldn’t do anything of the sort myself when I lived in apartments.
      Unless the unit is somehow against your lease.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        No, it’s not. I just felt bad because it’s so heavy, but that’s why they’re there. Surely they might assume that they’d have to move the unit itself up, that not everyone can.

    19. Epsilon Delta*

      Of course you struggled to move it yourself! I’m a little confused why you think you should have been able to do it yourself. My husband worked in construction for years as a mason (so, was paid to move 50-100lb loads for 8 hours a day), and that is the upper limit of what he would be able to move that distance by himself, even during his peak years. Now he would refuse to do it if he didn’t have a second person or tools like a dolly to do it safely.

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Yeah in hindsight idk why I thought I would do it myself!!! It looked a lot lighter in the photos and I guess I didn’t realize that it would still be heavy. Even if that 60 pounds is including the packaging, it’s still not something I’d feel comfortable doing on my own. And yet ….

    20. Quinalla*

      Some items take more than one person to carry without special equipment, you aren’t a failure! 60 lbs is heavy and a unit like that is awkward too so double ugh.

      I can’t even open a water bottle half the time, don’t feel too bad :)

      1. hypoglycemic rage (hopeful ex librarian)*

        Same, I had to get a rubber thingy to help me open jelly last week….

  2. Blue wall*

    What do you do for bedding if you share a bed with someone else? My partner and I have very different sleeping temps and a shared sheet and comforter isn’t working so great. What are other options?

    1. wkfauna*

      After years of dealing with this we now have separate bedding. We share the fitted sheet but nothing else. Works great!

      1. RedinSC*

        I was recently on a trip and the bed had separate bedding for each side, with one fitted sheet on the mattress. I LOVED IT! I am going to implement this at home now.

    2. Roland*

      If you mean fitted sheet, then you can still have your own if you put two twins together instead of using one mattress. For topsheets, blankete, etc, each person can just use their own, no real trick to it beyond buying twin sizes so there’s room for both on the bed.

    3. KatEnigma*

      Two separate comforters on our King bed for the last 10 years has been life changing! My husband makes up his half of the bed with extra blankets, as needed.

    4. Bluebell*

      Husband and I share a top sheet and light blanket or comforter depending on season, but then we each have twin size blankets. Mine is only used like half the time because I like to be cooler. We fold those blankets down during the day to make things looks nicer.

    5. HannahS*

      Bottom sheet, two duvets, as many pillows as each one likes. In many parts of the world, each person having their blanket is standard. I am a burrito-er married to a burrito-er and sharing blankets is a no from us!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      The king bed in my bedroom has one fitted sheet and two and a half sets of top covers. (I have a queen sized flat sheet and down comforter on my side, there are two queen sized light cotton blankets on the husband’s side, and a fleece blanket in the middle for the dog.) But due to our extensive incompatibilities in the area of sleeping, my husband also has his own entire separate bedroom adjacent to his office and he usually sleeps there these days. (We put it off for a long time and I wish we hadn’t. Total game changer.)

    7. MissCoco*

      We have an 8 sleep pod. It’s a mattress heater/cooler. It heats up my side of the bed and cools his, and we can still snuggle (we are both cuddlers, so didn’t like separate bedding/comforter setup). My husband can even turn my side to be warmer if I’m chasing him around and he doesn’t want to be cuddled. It was a big purchase, but we’ve had it for about 2 years now, and I definitely miss a temperature controlled mattress when we travel

    8. Rara Avis*

      I throw off the extra layers that make me too hot and my husband regularly adds an extra blanket to his side.

    9. AcademiaNut*

      Totally separate bedding (with the exception of the bottom sheet). My husband likes piles of blankets, neatly arranged over him, I tend to wrap myself around a single duvet. It also helps to figure out which side of the bedroom is cooler, and choose the side of the bed accordingly.

    10. Perpetua*

      I’m always surprised that separate comforters still seem like such a *novel* or revolutionary idea to so many, when it’s just common sense to me. No shame on those who enjoy sharing a comforter! It just seems to me that sharing the whole bedding is still held as some sort of THE standard, when in reality it should be that everyone does what works for them.

      And there’s no way that sharing a comforter/blanket works for me/us, so we’ve had separate ones since the very beginning. Shared fitted sheet on a king size bed, other than that, we each have our own blanket/top sheet/comforter.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        We tried it for a while by default, but within the first couple months, when I discovered that his trick of of “first steal all the covers and roll up in them like a burrito, then decide it’s too hot and throw them all off the other side of the bed onto the floor” was in fact a nightly show and not a special event, I was like NOPE. NUH UH.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Are you married to my husband? It’s the THROW ONTO THE FLOOR thing that killed me, since I didn’t have a chance of tugging them back. We even carry a lightweight fleece blanket with us, when we have to share hotel bedding.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            RIGHT?? GIVE THEM BACK IF YOU DON’T WANT THEM! (It’s the same face my dog makes when I throw her ball. “Mama, if you didn’t want the ball, you could’ve just gave it back to me, you don’t gotta FROW IT AWAY.”)

            Even before we split bedrooms at home, we got two queen beds when we traveled and each of us got our own — he kicks and thrashes and rolls around, plus he’s six-four so he prefers to sleep diagonally, haha.

            1. KatEnigma*

              Okay, “hotel bedding” is really “cruise ship bedding” unless I want to sleep on the couch bunk. Which I do not. LOL He’s only 6’3 though, so must be different husbands with the same habits. ;)

      2. Middle Aged Lady*

        We don’t sleep in the same bed. Problem solved! I know everyone can’t do this. We are childless and one of us sleeps in the guest room.
        People freak out about that, like we don’t love each other or something. No, he snores and I thrash and scream occasionally with nightmares. I am a blanket thief as well.

        1. Bathwater*

          Yup we also sleep in separate beds, in separate rooms. I honestly don’t understand how people associate sleeping in the same bed with having a healthy sex life. Like, for me those are two totally separate activities lol.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, this. My husband and I stopped sleeping in the same room when our son was born. I was so hypersensitive to his noises that I always woke up when he snuffled in his sleep, and it took me at least a quarter of an hour to fall asleep again. My husband didn’t wake up for every little noise and he could fall asleep in two minutes after his head hit the pillow. As our son grew, both of us realized that we slept much better in separate beds and continued the practice.

            I’m completely convinced that sleeping in separate beds saved our marriage and it certainly boosted my mental health.

            That said, sharing a bed is more common here than not, but I’ve never heard of couples sleeping under the same covers. It must be an American thing.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              THANK YOU. It was you mentioning this in the past that finally prompted me to have the discussion with my husband, it went way better than it ever had in my head (because brains do brain things) and I have slept better in the last month than at any other time in the last like ten years, and he says he has too.

              1. allathian*

                I’m so glad that my post prompted the discussion and that sleeping in separate beds works for you and your husband, too.

    11. Still*

      Oh, definitely separate. I sleep under one of those weighted duvets, he sleeps under a thin sheet because he runs hot. No way we could sleep under the same duvet and both be happy. Plus this way we can still cuddle because we’re both at our preferred temperatures.

    12. No Tribble At All*

      We have a queen size bed with one fitted sheet, and we each have our own duvet/comforter. I like to side sleep and use my duvet as a body pillow, and he likes to burrito. I also run hot, so I usually have a fan going, and he, again, burritos. We figured this out after moving in together where we each brought a bed to the house. Got a duvet for the “guest room” and realized we could just also use the blanket most of the time. Now we ask for a second blanket at hotels. Two blankets!! Embrace it!!

    13. JSPA*

      for heat differences:

      the one who gets cold is under the comforter, the one who gets hot is on top of their side of the comforter, with a spare sheet or pillow as a cover. One can still snuggle through the comforter.

      Option 2:
      two taco style (closed end of the tacos back-to back), with different weight comforters or a comforter and a sheet or bedspread (or for menopause-level flashes, layered waffle-weave towels).

      Option 3:
      I don’t love the pumped-coolant chill pad type mattress pads (I feel them, there’s whirring noise, there’s the risk of leakage) but if you can find one secondhand, they do cool and heat. You can creatively cover just half the mattress, or splurge on a two-zone option. I’d call it a “definitely least worst” solution for the peak of the flashes, if and when the other options don’t work.

      Option 4:
      euro-style double mattress and double sheet set and double comforters, inside a full size bedframe, or two side-by-side beds. The zone in the middle is not sexy, until you realize it’s a pretty OK place to tuck that pesky spare arm.

      Option 5:
      Cool person gets a single person size one of those gel toppers that are comfy in winter but so. freaking. hot. the other three seasons of the year. (If you want to have the surface level, the hot person can have a spare quilted mattress pad or something.)

      Option 6:
      cold person wears a touque and wool socks to bed.

      Option 7:
      warm person wears the hat and socks, but foregoes the comforter.

      Option 8:
      Learn to flip the covers off of your lower half onto the other person, in your sleep, and fish them back as needed. Takes…several months to a couple of years, maybe, for neither party to rouse, during the process???

    14. Autumn*

      I hate the tenting of a sheet going over both of us, so have added a single silk sheet just on my side that drapes perfectly over just me. The upper cotton sheet/whatever blankets or quilts are shared, but I usually end up pushing them off my side as soon as it starts to warm up – the silk sheet seems to be enough, with the added bonus that when it gets hot, the silk retains some coolness. Silk pillowcases on my side too, they just feel so good. Silk’s too slippery as a bottom sheet for me though! I’ve done a lot of experimenting, lol.

    15. Once too often*

      Friends have a heated mattress pad in their guest room. Each side has a control for temp, & time. Love it.

    16. Animal worker*

      In this case my partner is a cat. I have a full sized bed, but recently started using twin sized flat sheets so that I don’t disturb her as much if I’m moving around at night under the sheet. So separate top bedding for the win – pet edition.

    17. Imtheone*

      Look for European-size comforters. They are typically narrower and can fit on half of a queen or king-sized bed. Light weight for him (or blanket), warmer for me.

    18. blue wall*

      Thank you all for the comments so far! Much commiseration all around. I’m excited to have some options (many options!) to work with.

    19. *daha**

      If you can handle a shared bottom sheet, use separate top sheets and comforters/blankets. Buy them in twin/single sizes. If that doesn’t work for you, you’ll want to push two twin or twin XL beds together to have entirely separate bedding sets while still sleeping next to each other.

    20. Violet Rutherford*

      We each use a separate top sheet. I got tired of coming back from 30 seconds in the bathroom to find a burrito and no covers left for me. Plus he likes to use a blanket but I sleep too hot for one!

    21. Ally*

      We have two separate single duvets. It is great.
      I think in lots of European countries they arrange it like this. Now I’m unsure why I ever had a huge double duvet for two people, it now seems really strange!!

    22. Any old username*

      How about a single size electric blanket for whoever gets cold. I put mine on about an hour before I go to bed. My side of the bed is toasty warm but it doesn’t heat up the rest of the bed.

    1. Forrest Rhodes*

      Great expression on his face; my feline gets that too. In our case, it usually means “I’m waiting … patiently … for you to turn your back for just … one … second …,” and mischief ensues (which I’m sure he’s had planned for some time now).

  3. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading this week, and give or ask for recommendations.

    I’m currently reading Bitter Medicine by Mia Tsai. For the most part I’m enjoying it, although I’ve had a hard time sinking into reading this week. Just not focused for some reason. It’s a fantasy romance novel which is a niche genre that I get into a lot.

    I also finished The Bear and the Nightengale by Katherine Arden earlier this week. It was good, but I will probably not finish the trilogy, at least not right now. Maybe later.

    1. RedinSC*

      For my brain candy I’ve been listening to The Class 5 series on Audible by Michelle Diener. The first several are free. Scifi – light.

      Also started Still Life by Sarah Winman for my book club

    2. Seashell*

      I’m reading Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano for my book club. I have mixed feelings thus far.

      I am planning to reread Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret in anticipation of seeing the movie when it comes out at the end of the month.

    3. Tiny clay insects*

      I’m reading Madhouse at the End of the Earth, nonfiction about a failed journey to try to reach the South Pole, and it’s so good!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Seconding Madhouse at the End of the Earth – kind of an origin story for two of the most famous polar explorers of their era!

    4. Rara Avis*

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I figured out the plot twist before the octopus revealed it.

    5. Broken scones*

      I started reading The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo. So far so good! It is very easy to get into. I’m also planning on picking up Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim when I get a chance.

      Jackalope, both of the books you mentioned are on my TBR! :)

      1. Jackalope*

        I would recommend both of them. After more thought I’m kind of feeling like they might not be the right books for where I am at the moment (I read The Bear and the Nightingale for a book club and am reading Bitter Medicine at the moment since it’s a popular book and this is when I was able to get a copy from the library, but I wouldn’t have picked them for right now), and I would enjoy them more if I were reading them in a different frame of mind. That being said, they are both well-written, easily readable, have good characters, and otherwise check a lot of the boxes for books I would share with other people.

    6. Helvetica*

      Just started Bliss by O.Z. Livanelli, bought on my trip to Istanbul. I always try to buy and read something from the country I’m in and while Pamuk seemed like the obvious choice, I found the premise very intriguing. So far, beautiful imagery and harrowing circumstance of being born a woman in a small Turkish village.

    7. germank106*

      I’m in the middle of “The Radium Girls”. Set in the early part of the 20th Century, it is interesting how different company culture was compared to today.
      I just found out that there is a movie by the same name – not sure if I’ll watch it.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        I thought that book was so interesting but just couldn’t finish it! My bedtime reading brain wasn’t conducive to all the names and dates, I think, but fascinating history.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, by Shannon Chakraborty. Set in the twelfth century on and around the Arabian Sea, a legendary pirate captain comes out of hiding/retirement to help the family of an old crewmate.

      There are pirates! Demons! Genuine treasure maps! Fake treasure maps! Sea monsters! They get the old crew back together to pull one last job!

      Highly recommend.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Thanks for the rec! This sounds so fun. I just added it to my Libby hold list, can’t wait.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also won the book Starring Adele Allaire from Goodreads. Look forward to reading this; I’ve heard a lot about Fred, and of course Ginger, but very little about Fred’s sister Adele.

        1. Rara Avis*

          I was just rewatching Gaudy Night, and was curious about a reference to dancing like Fred and Adele. This would explain it!

      2. germank106*

        I just put it on hold at my library. I’m #29 with 2 copies in circulation. Might be a while before I get to read it.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      After a lifetime of avoiding Stephen King novels in favor of Jane Austen and the like, I am reading his new one! A neighbor I really trust thrust Stephen King’s Fairy Tale into my hands a couple of weeks ago and said I MUST read this! This is the most aptly named story – it really IS a fairy tale, with no horror elements – almost more like a Harry Potter-esque tale for grownups. I am captivated by it. It is opening my mind to consider books I would not otherwise choose. I am now committing to picking up at least one such book at the library on every trip.

      I lurked on Twitter for a while during the pandemic more to watch for alerts from our Governor than anything, but started to follow Stephen King there after many others mentioned his lively feed. I can hear his occasionally crusty self emerging now and then in the book in and around his magical descriptions. A neat and surprising read!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I am a huge Stephen King fan and just finally got around to Fairy Tale a couple weeks ago, and you’re right, it was lovely :)

        If you want another suggestion for a future try — Tick Tock by Dean Koontz. It’s a little scary, but it’s mostly a slapstick comedy with a really smart dog (which is kind of a Koontz trope – he loves his golden retrievers and writes them in as often as he can) and a hilarious heroine.

      2. specialK*

        I downloaded Fairytale yesterday after reading your post. About it third of the way through today and so far it really is delightful! Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      3. Lemonwhirl*

        Absolutely loved this book, as did my husband and my twelve-year old kid. (It’s quite rare that all three of us would independently read the same book.) And when we got a puppy a few months ago, we’d no choice but to name him Radar. :)

    10. Clisby*

      I’m about halfway through Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, which is not ordinarily something that would interest me, but out of curiosity I’ve decided to read as many as I can of the books some parents are trying to get banned from school libraries.

      So far I have no idea how this made the list, unless for profanity (Did you know high school kids cuss? Neither did I.)

        1. Clisby*

          The first one I read was Gender Queer; after Me & Earl is Go Ask Alice. (I’m really surprised that a 50-year-old book is on this list.) I had never read any of these before; there are some on the list that I have read, like The Bluest Eye, Lolita, The Kite Runner. Just going by the titles, it sounds like a lot of them are fantasy novels, which is one my least favorite genres, so it’s entirely unsurprising that I’m unfamiliar with any controversies there.

          1. Jackalope*

            So a couple of things. First of all, Go Ask Alice is a fictional book that was marketed as nonfiction. It was allegedly taken from a diary left behind by a young teen who died of an overdose; it was written at the height of the panic around drugs, and the author basically wanted it to be a moralizing tale about the dangers of hard drugs such as LSD and weed (yes, weed). I strongly recommend that if you read it, you also read Unmasking Alice by Rick Emerson, which talks about the phenomenon of Go Ask Alice – it was a huge deal. Especially if you’re working your way through banned books, it might be interesting to see what happened.

            You may feel better (given that fantasy isn’t your thing) to know that none of the others that you listed are fantasy novels. However, all of the ones you listed have been banned at least in part due to sexual violence, much of it against children. Just a heads up so you know what you’re getting into.

            1. Clisby*

              1) Yes, I am well aware Go Ask Alice is fiction. I’m curious about why it’s showing up on a banned book list.

              2) I didn’t think any of the ones I listed were fantasy. That’s why I started with them. I’m talking about books like City of Heavenly Fire; Court of Frost and Starlight/Court of Mists and Fury; Court of Thorns and Roses … ; Kingdom of Ash; Empire of Storms – books like that, where (to me, at least) the title screams “FANTASY!”

              1. Jackalope*

                Ah, okay. I missed the part where you said you’d already read the ones that you listed. I do believe that the others on your list are fantasy, so that makes more sense now.

                As for Go Ask Alice, I was told when I was growing up that it was nonfiction, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I learned that it wasn’t. Since it was marketed for many years as nonfiction, and in some places is *still* sold that way, I wanted to make sure you knew. (Either way, I still recommend the accompanying book that I mentioned, as being super interesting.)

                1. Clisby*

                  I was in either high school or college when Go Ask Alice first came out, and oddly enough, I don’t remember anyone claiming it was true. They might have, and I just wasn’t paying attention. I likely had the impression it was just more Reefer Madness nonsense.

                  What interests me now is its staying power on banned book lists.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I just learned that Sarah Caudwell’s delightfully snarky “Hilary Tamar” novels are being produced as audiobooks! I’ll be starting Thus Was Adonis Murdered as soon as I’ve finished my current listen.

    12. SarahKay*

      I just finished ‘A House With Good Bones’, the latest book from T. Kingfisher (with thanks to OtterB in last week’s reading thread for alerting me to it’s existence).
      I found it less scary than some of her earlier horror stories – this is not a complaint, mind you, as I’m quite capable of creeping myself out in the middle of the night without any extra help!
      Highly recommend, not least because Hermes is adorable, to the extent that having finished the book I went back just to reread the interactions with him.

    13. Bluebell*

      I finished Cathleen Schine’s Kunstlers in Paradise this week, and really enjoyed it. It takes place during early Covid, plus flashbacks to the 30s. Im about halfway through vintage contemporaries, which is lovely, especially as I am a fan of Laurie Colwin. However, I took a break in the middle of the week and read Hide, by Kiersten White. I think it was recommended here, and I loved it. Very creepy, and excellent abandoned amusement park setting, though some of the initial character development was pretty superficial.
      Just started Sea Change, by Gina Chung, which is another book featuring a Giant Pacific Octopus.

    14. GoryDetails*

      My current reading includes:

      The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly, a book-group choice; it’s got three timelines and at least half-a-dozen main characters, whose lives are connected via one elaborate English garden from its creation in 1907 through its peak in the 1940s and its abandonment/neglect until a 2020s effort to restore it. (The premise reminded me of the real-world “Lost Gardens of Heligan”.)

      A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow is a short fractured-fable story in which a woman who has the ability to move between fairytale worlds – aka stories, always variations of “Sleeping Beauty” – and who is juggling her own terminal illness and her reluctance to let her beloved friends too close – finds herself unexpectedly pulled into the “Snow White” story-cycle, where the Evil Queen (none too pleased at never being given a name!) is desperate to escape the red-hot iron shoes.

      The Scourge Between Stars by Ness Brown is a short science-fiction/horror novel, in which protagonist Jacklyn is the de facto captain of a disintegrating generation-ship that’s struggling to take its surviving crew and passengers from the failed planet-settlement back to Earth – while random attacks from deep space continue to plague them. And now there’s Something in the walls, and it’s devouring the crew…

      Least angsty of all, I’m re-listening to Pride and Prejudice, always enjoyable. This time through I was reminded that the habit of referring to all the married women as “Mrs. LastName” had led me to assume that Colonel Forster’s wife – who became Lydia Bennett’s “particular friend” and led to her trip to Brighton and ill-chosen elopement with Wickhkam – was actually barely older than Lydia herself (who’d just turned 16 in-story). So the “Mrs. Forster” who sounded like a more experienced married woman and a good choice as chaperone was actually another teenager, only a few months married, and whose friendship with Lydia was also of barely a couple of months’ duration.

      1. Budgie Buddy*

        On the subject of Lydia, I always wondered how much sex education she had. I sort of assumed some family matron gave engaged women The Talk leading up to the wedding night, and more circumspect heroines managed to cobble together an idea of the basics on their own. (Emma definitely pestered out of someone where babies came from.)

        They idea of Lydia running off with Wickham and zip in the way of sex education haunts me with cringe. Wickham seems to like them young and dumb so he must have a spiel, but available facts also point to him being a shitty lay.

    15. Middle Aged Lady*

      I am in a War and Peace bookclub and we are reading a chapter a day for the whole year. We meet once a week to discuss and it’s the best. We are enjoying the story, the writer’s craft, and the society/historical stuff we are learning is fascinating too. We have a shared google drive where we share links on stuff that comes up, like duelling and why did they gamble so much?

    16. PastorJen*

      I’m reading Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jessie Q. Sutanto. It has been very, very funny and heartwarming. It’s finally helping me break my reading slump.

        1. PastorJen*

          This is my first book by her and I like it so much I’ve already borrowed an ecopy of Dial A for Aunties.

    17. The New Wanderer*

      I read The Spy and The Traitor recently, by Ben MacIntyre. Fascinating true story of a KGB spy turned double agent for the British during the Cold War. I grew up on James Bond movies so it was very interesting to see what aspects were more realistic and not just movie devices. “Nobody ever leaves the KGB,” for example!

    18. Millie's Mom*

      I’ve been on a kick where I’m reading kids’ books lately. I’m currently reading the third in Amie Kaifman’s Elementals trilogy, Battle Born. Also re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books. Just needing some cozy, easy reading lately, but honestly, kids’ books are more fun and imaginative than adult books. :-)

      1. Millie's Mom*

        Oh, and I just finished Finding Junie Kim, but Ellen Oh. SO good – I cried multiple times. It tackles racism and mental health, in a mid-grade book.

    19. PoolLounger*

      Kelly Link’s new book if short stories, White Cat Black Dog. 5 stars! If you’re into contemporary fairy tales, magical realism, fantasy, weird tales, even sci-fi, Link’s got you.

      1. MEH Squared*

        I got this for my birthday! Except for the sci-fi, it sounds right up my alley. I can’t wait to dive in.

    20. the cat's ass*

      ‘The Kind Worth Killing’, followed by “The Kind Worth Saving”, by Peter Swanson. Not a reliable narrator in the bunch! Twisty fun.

    21. Sitting Pretty*

      I’m listening to the audiobook of “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” by Talia Hibbert and it is so much fun! The protagonist is a woman with chronic illness and she gets into a silly and delightful romantic entanglement with her very sexy building superintendent. The narrator is really great too. I am just laughing out loud listening to it.

    22. Ali + Nino*

      Finishing “How High We Go in the Dark” by Sequoia Nagamatsu, which is called a novel but really I find each chapter could stand as a short story in its own right, but characters and atmosphere/history are linked in interesting ways and drive the plot forward. I’m really enjoying it so far.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re How High We Go in the Dark: I loved that one, but boy, is it ever harrowing at times!

      2. carcinization*

        Loved the book, and have been recommending it to people recently if forced to recommend something.

    23. Ally*

      The Mountain Shadow by Gregory David Roberts, it’s the sequel to Shantaram.
      Only just started it, so no opinions to share yet, but I did like Shantaram.

    24. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I’ve been reading The Duke of Devastation, a historical romance. There’s a duke looking for vengeance and a spirited vicar’s daughter.

    25. Loves libraries*

      I finished The Diamond Eye about a female sniper during WWII in Ukraine. Great read.

    26. Decidedly Me*

      The Infinite Timeline series by Jeremy Robinson is my current vacation series and I read 4 of them this week – Tribe, NPC, Exo Hunter, and Dark – and will likely finish Mind Bullet on the plane. All fun reads in their own ways with Exo Hunter and Dark being my favs of this batch.

  4. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share any games you’ve been playing this week. As usual this is open to any games, not just video games.

    I got to run my D&D campaign this week. A couple of our usual players are out of town for a bit and so we didn’t play our normal campaign which is run by someone else. I’m kind of excited about the place we’re getting to; I’ve been planning it for well over a year. On the downside, we will be going back to the other campaign next week, which is great except that my brilliant and dastardly plans will have to be put on hold for a few more weeks (but we were right in the middle of something with the other campaign too and we all want to finish that up).

    1. MEH Squared*

      I’ve been playing Ravenswatch by Passtech Games. It’s an indie roguelike/lite in the vein of Hades crossed with Diablo and maybe a MOBA. Each character is a fairy tale characetr (it’s in Early Acess on Steam) so you start with The Snow Queen (my fave), Scarlet (Red Riding Hood who turns into a werewolf at night), The Pied Piper, and Beowulf. You traverse the fields and kill loads of enemies in a given amount of in-game days/nights. You have specials and an ultimate (have not unlocked that yet), then you go fight the first boss after a certain amount of time passes.

      It should be up my alley and I really want to like it, but it’s just missing for me. I feel weak no matter which character I’m playing and it’s a bit too damage-spongy for me. My BF is playing it as well, so maybe he and I can play together, which would probably make me like it more.

      So far, there is just the first chapter available.

      1. Jackalope*

        Questions for you: what does MOBA refer to? And what do you mean by “damage-spongy”? Does it mean that your characters take a lot of damage with each hit, or it takes a lot of damage to knock them out, or…?

        1. MEH Squared*

          What Cakeordeath (great user name, by the way) on MOBA. Games like Overwatch and League of Legends. I’m using it to mean a game in which you have different party members with distinct roles. Like tank (tanking damage and dishing it out) and rogue (stealth assassin). Damage sponge-y is in reference to the enemies. It takes a lot of hits to kill them, which makes me think the game is meant for a party of players and not just one person.

    2. Bobina*

      Oooh. I was looking for something simple to play yesterday because ever since getting past level 2000 of Candy Crush the hardness means it takes forever to pass anything and its just unsatisfying. Ended up downloading Colorpuzzle which is a hue matching game and I really like it! I suppose at heart its a sorting game, but its fun and I guess also trains your eye around colour and gradients – surprisingly enjoyable. Made me think of doing a puzzle a few weeks ago and trying to decipher if two pieces of sky went together or not!

    3. Porch Screens*

      I finished Paper Mario last weekend and then dove right in to Fire Emblem Three Houses. Ended up going with the Golden Deer and I have the impression that it’s probably the path that most people end up playing for their first playthrough. I’ve not had as much time to play this past week as I’d like but right now I’m on Chapter…7 or 8, I think – Battle of the Eagle and Lion. So far I’ve been enjoying all of the characters and (surprisingly) haven’t yet encountered any that I dislike or that rub me the wrong way. Since it’s my first playthrough I’m just taking a fairly leisurely approach; while I definitely check each month to see if I can recruit anyone new, I’m not specifically angling towards getting anyone in particular from the other two houses. When I do my next playthrough, though, I’ll probably try to get as many of the Golden Deer folks as I can since I’ll already know their personalities and how they do in battle. As far as the plot goes, I definitely have Some Questions and I can’t decide if Byleth/the PC is supposed to just be Super Serious or if they’re secretly an automaton or something…

      Can’t wait to play some more :D

      1. Jackalope*

        Three Houses is one of my all-time favorite games and probably at the top of the list in terms of how many hours I’ve spent playing it. I went Black Eagles my first run-through and felt pretty strongly that that was the best choice for me, but Golden Deer is definitely a favorite of many. (And I like GD too; it’s just that my heart will always be given over a bit more to the BE’s.)

        1. Jackalope*

          Just had this thought. If you do decide that you want to recruit someone in particular, I recommend inviting that person to be Byleth’s adjutant for the month. You can have them help out and then have them pair up with B, or if you don’t have adjutants yet then have them always fight right next to B so they can build up support. The more support you have with another character, the easier it is to recruit them.

  5. scientist*

    Does anyone have any favorite cocktail / liquor recommendations – for someone who likes very bitter, or tart, or smoky flavors? Definitely not overly sweet. My go-to is a Negroni or just a scotch on the rocks, but looking to expand my repertoire!

    1. RedinSC*

      You should explore the cocktail world of Mescal. Very smoky. You can make margarita-like drinks and many others. It’s fun and delicious. Food & Wine has a list of 12 mescal drinks if you just search for mescal cocktails. They look delicious and you can make them less sweet if some have simple syrup in them.

    2. HCTZ*

      I came here to promote Mezcal too!!! Resposado mezcals especially for even smokier flavor. Reposado tequilas can hit that mark too.

      An Old Fashioned might suit your taste too. My go to whiskeys are Woodford Reserve or Bulleit but there are smokier whiskeys out there. I always make sure to ask for it not sweet tho because some bartenders can go overboard with that aspect.

      1. Pippa K*

        Our favorite restaurant makes the best cocktail I’ve ever had: a tequila old fashioned, which involves añejo tequila, mescal, and aging in a small wood barrel. It is the perfect combination of rich, smooth, and smoky, with a little citrus from the orange peel. It just hits every note for me. Someday I will learn to replicate this at home.

    3. Ranon*

      Amaro Rabarbaro and any cocktails that use it for both bitter and smokey. If you’re serious about the bitter, stuff that uses Fernet is also a good bet. My spouse got into cocktails using either of those and an Islay scotch whiskey for extra smokiness.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Smoky mezcal. I’ve been having spicy margaritas made with smoky mezcal. I also like a mezcal sour – same as a whiskey sour, but with smoky mezcal. Also good with some jalapeño juice or Serranos.

      Pisco sour is good.

      I personally dislike bourbon and, to a lesser extent, rye, but I like scotch and Japanese whiskey. I know it’s blasphemy for some reason, but I like a scotch sour a lot more than a regular whiskey sour.


    5. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Can I recommend a soda, lime and bitters? Ok, so not a real cocktail in the truest sense, but it has the bitter and tart elements.

    6. Helvetica*

      Oh, those are my kinda drinks! If you like Negroni, then I would recommend Boulevardier or a Manhattan, which are both like variations on the theme of Negroni. Similar flavour profiles and you just need the same kind of alcohol in all basically. A classic dirty Martini is also my go-to in the category of bitter.
      For tart, can recommend Pisco Sour and Whiskey Sour and if you want to be fancy, French 75 is proper decadent, as long as you use pure lemon juice. A Gimlet can also be very good, if they stick with the sour notes.
      Most of those are classic but many cocktail bars make their own drinks, and I think often play in the tart and smokey categories. They are the best I’ve had but could not reproduce them myself, so if there is a bar near you that specialises in house cocktails, I would experiment there.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Came here to say Boulevardier or Manhattan! Or a Brooklyn which is a slightly more complex version of a Manhattan.

        Also: smoky Martini. Your regular gin Martini but with half a shot of the gin replaced with Lagavulin. (We make this also with smoke bitters.)

      2. Courageous cat*

        French 75s are one of my favs. Corpse Reviver too, along those lines (somewhat)

    7. Bobina*

      Like everyone else, Mezcal for smoky.

      For bitter, look into the more funky liqueur world. You might find them also called digestif’s or classed as ‘herbal liqueurs’ but examples would be suze, vermouths (can be sweeter or more bitter, so be careful!) etc

    8. Kiki*

      A Negroni was my go-to forever! What are your thoughts on an extra dirty gin martini? That’s been my new go-to. It’s booze-forward, like a Negroni, and the main taste is the olive juice. So not exactly tart, but briny!

    9. Bluebell*

      I really enjoy mezcal and smoky cocktails, though I avoid Campari. You can sip mezcal, or try the Oaxacan old fashioned, or an Ultima Palabra, which is a variation on the Last Word- gin , chartreuse, lime and maraschino. the Naked and Famous has a silly name but is delicious. I don’t know the amaros too well, but Montenegro is interesting. It’s not too bitter and has a pleasing floral note combined with its bitterness.

    10. Kathenus*

      I’m a gin and tonic drinker, and last year I discovered Pomegranate syrup – the type of syrups used at coffee shops – at a food service store. Now I’ve turned a bunch of people onto the joy of a pomegranate gin (or vodka) and tonic – adds a nice tart flavor to it.

    11. Llama face!*

      I like to make a variation on a drink I discovered while visiting Nova Scotia a few years back. (Kudos to Barrington Steakhouse in Halifax for their inspo recipe which they called the Irish Armchair.) I use 2 parts whiskey to 1 part amaro* liqueur with a couple drops of walnut bitters and then top it up with either club soda or tonic water to taste. I prefer club soda but I know some people like tonic water better. The original drink was sweetened with simple syrup but I skip that step.

      *an Italian herbal liqueur that has some bitterness to it. I like the Amaro Montenegro brand.

    12. Sally O’Malley*

      A classic martini—Bombay Sapphire gin, a tiny splash of dry vermouth, shaken. Two olives.

    13. Anon-e-mouse*


      My favourite cocktail is a modified sidecar for summer weather: 1 oz Cointreau, 1 oz brandy, the juice of half a lemon, soda water and ice. Add the first three ingredients to a tall glass, carefully pour in soda water so as not to de-fizz it, and then slip in a couple of ice cubes.

      We also like margarita mules with extra lime and ginger: 2 oz tequila, 4 oz ginger beer, juice of one small lime, plus ginger bitters to taste. I find ginger beer tasty but too sweet, so I add ginger bitters and sometimes top up the glass with a bit of club soda to dilute the sweetness of the ginger beer.

    14. Melonerz*

      If I see a smoky mezcal cocktail on the menu that involves grapefruit juice, I know I’m gonna be happy. A little smoky, sour, and sweet.

  6. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Any good games that can be played by 5 adults without running out and buying anything? My family is coming over for Easter tomorrow night and it would be nice to have something to do besides talk. I don’t own any board games, or even so much as a deck of cards (though I could ask my mother to bring one of those).

    I am totally none competitive, so something where winning isn’t the point would be ideal. As would rules simple enough the game can be enjoyed the first time would be good. (A lot of the classic card games leave me mostly befuddled as I try to figure out how the game play works and remember the rules.)

    1. Blythe*

      I love this game– I don’t know what it’s called.

      Each person gets a piece of paper and a pen. At the top of the paper, write a sentence.
      Everyone passes their paper to the person on their left.
      That person reads the sentence and illustrates it, then folds the paper over to hide the sentence.
      Pass the paper left again.
      That person looks at the picture and writes one sentence describing it. Fold the paper over the image.
      Pass the paper left again.
      Repeat until everyone runs out of paper, then unfold and enjoy!

        1. Rara Avis*

          You can also play an online version called Gartic Phone. My teen had to work really hard to sell their grandparents on it, but 5 of us in 3 generations ended up in hysterics.

    2. CanadaGoose*

      Are you ok with looking a bit silly? Standard household items typically feature in “minute to win it” challenges, which are often simple but ridiculous enough to do just for the challenge of trying it rather than doing it the best/fastest/winningest. Google “minute to win it” and choose whichever ideas you like and have the stuff around to try.

    3. kina lillet*

      Fishbowl is a classic party game (aka ‘nouns in a bowl’). Everyone writes a word or short phrase on a slip of paper—well, everyone writes out two or three such papers—and the papers go in a bowl. Everyone splits into teams. On the first round, you try to get your team to guess a word using taboo rules: you can say anything except the word. On the second round, using all the same slips of paper, you use charades. On the third round, you can only say one word as the clue!

      Another fun one is the exquisite corpse game. Everyone gets a piece of paper folded into thirds—everyone draws a head on the first fold. Then you pass that paper over, and without looking at the head, everyone draws a torso on the middle fold. Then pass again and draw legs. The fun is unfolding the pages and seeing what kind of creature has been drawn!

      And, another fun one is telephone. You draw a picture based on some clue, then pass to the next person who tries to write a clue based on just the picture. Then you repeat, and see how much the first clue and the last clue diverge.

      Finally—there’s always charades and pictionary, both truly very fun.

      1. MissCoco*

        Thank you! I played Fishbowl once years ago and it was so fun, but I couldn’t remember the specific rules OR the name to look them up.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I’ve played Fishbowl before and enjoyed it a lot, but I would have thought 5 people weren’t enough to play it properly? Or anything where you divide into teams.

        1. kina lillet*

          It’s plenty—you write down more slips of paper and you have one person who guesses for both teams. It’s a good role for someone who’s too shy to give clues—or if they want to give clues, everyone can guess, and the first team to get it wins the point.

    4. HCTZ*

      A dumb but fun game I actually got from the show Friends lol is trying to name all 50 states in 6 minutes. Lots of “Oh man, can’t believe I forgot that one!!” lol Fun hearing people’s strategies for naming (alphabetical, regional, etc) Usually can only play it once, but could be a good addition to other games you might choose to do.

      1. Pippa K*

        At a party we played a game where we had to draw a map of the US collectively, with one person adding a state as best they could, then the next person, etc. It was surprisingly fun and we produced a comically bad map – despite four of us being political scientists!

        1. MeepMeep123*

          My family played a version of that when we all had to draw the state of Texas. We all ended up with weird turnip-looking things and laughed like crazy.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Alas, I actually have all 50 states memorized, so it wouldn’t be a fair competition.

          1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

            No, I’m actually not familiar with that song. I have them memorized by first letter- 4 As, 3 Cs, 1 D and so on.

        1. OrdinaryJoe*

          So do I but it’s very hard to write down all 50 without accidently skipping a couple … somehow! I always think I’m being methodical but still typically end up in the upper 40s on the first go around.

        2. Pieforbreakfast*

          I do too, but I’m not sure I could draw them all. Especially East of Illinois.

        3. allathian*

          You could try something similar with other parts of the world, like Canadian provinces, European countries, Asian countries, African countries…

          Have you memorized all US state capitals?

      3. HCTZ*

        OMG Im so sorry, looks like I had a nesting fail but thanks so much to everyone for the tips/references!! im gonna check em all out.

    5. Ariaflame*

      With enough people things like ‘The Moon is Round’ can be played with any stick like object. Or the Open or Closed game where scissors are required. But 5 people might be a bit few for that.

    6. MissCoco*

      Space Team is a collaborative phone game that’s played in a group. Everyone has to download the app and be on Wi-Fi. Each person gets directions, but you need another person to execute the directions, things start out ridiculous and then escalate. It’s really fun and raucous, but I will say I’ve found it to not be very accessible for hard-of-hearing folks, unless everyone in the group is very disciplined about their own speaking volume.

    7. Not A Manager*

      Team charades. The classic version is each team writes a bunch of clues – movies, books, songs, TV shows, possibly plays. You put each team’s clues into a hat or a box or something to draw from. Then you give your team’s clue box to the other team. One person from a team draws a clue from the box provided by the other team, and has some time allotment to act out the clue according to the rules of charades. Their own team needs to guess. Hilarity ensues.

    8. Jackalope*

      So one option is The Quiet Year, which is a map-drawing game that uses a deck of cards (just a standard 52 card deck), a few 6 sided dice, and some tokens (beads, coins, whatever you have available). I’ll add a link to the website below and you can download the PDF that has everything you need. You and your fellow players draw an island or land mass where you’re living, and then you sort the cards by suit and each suit represents a season. You go through the year starting at spring and each person draws a card in turn. The PDF has a few questions for each card; for example, the 3 of hearts asks, “Someone new arrives: who? OR Two of the younger community members get in a fight. What provoked them?” You have at least two options to pick from, and then if relevant you can draw something on the map to represent the thing (for example, if the new arrival came from a nearby town you can add the new town on the map). I was skeptical when I first heard about it but it was a lot of fun, and 100% cooperative.

      As I mentioned earlier, I’ll add the link below. Click on The Oracle and they will take you to the PDF. It’s pretty simple, but if this isn’t the weekend for it, hold on to it for a later date.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      This is what we played for hours in a group of 6 last Christmas.

      Each player has a post-it note attached to their forehead, with the name of a person or character the rest of the group has picked for them (or, if it’s easier, pre-write lots of name cards and assign them randomly). This can be anyone, real or fictional. The important thing is each player can see the notes stuck on everyone else’s faces, but not what’s on their own.

      Going round the table, each person asks two questions per turn, to try and guess what character is on their note. The rest of the group answers the questions. The only rule is they must be questions that have a yes or no answer (“maybe” and “depends” are ok but no further elaboration!). Repeat for as many turns as it takes for everyone to guess.

      We had people of different ages who grew up in different countries, so all sorts of characters came up and it was great fun.

      Pens and post-it notes, or even just paper and sticky tape if you don’t have the post-its, are all you need for this.

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        Seconding this – I know it as ‘Who Am I’, and in our version you get to ask until you get a ‘no’ answer. It’s a favourite game in my Easter holiday friend group and I can’t wait to play it with them next week.

    10. Helvetica*

      So, there’s variations of this game in different countries – we used to call it Mafia but it’s also called Werewolf and if you know the computer game Among Us, that is essentially it. The rules are varied, so I suggest googling it but essentially, you need to weed out the villain by just using social skills and deduction. Five people is kinda edging on whether you’re enough but if you don’t assign additional roles, might be doable.

    11. A Girl Named Fred*

      Do you happen to have two six-sided dice and a smartphone? This one might be a little more competitive than some of the other options, but how competitive depends mostly on the people playing (when my boyfriend and I play, it’s MUCH less competitive than when we’re with his family, for example.)

      It’s a phone app called BANK!. Everyone sits in a circle and each person rolls both dice. For the first three rolls in a round, rolling a total of 7 puts 70 points in the bank, and other numbers add their amount. For each roll after that in a round, you add the number of points rolled, double the current bank total if someone rolls a double, and the round ends if someone rolls a 7. At any time in a round a person can say “Bank!” to add the current bank to their point total. If you don’t bank before someone rolls a 7, you get no points that round. Highest point total at the end of a set number of rounds wins.

      It’s a pretty fun push-your-luck game as long as you don’t end up playing with hyper-competitive people, lol.

    12. Bored Gamer*

      Shut Up & Sit Down (board game reviewers) did a series a while back called Card Games That Don’t Suck about fun games that can be played with a standard 52 card deck.
      You could also easily put together the stuff to play Skull & Roses (you could use playing cards). It’s a pretty simple bluffing/push your luck game that works well as a “something to do with our hands that doesn’t require much thought” kind of game.

    13. Girasol*

      We did Rube Goldberg once. (Google Rube Goldberg machine if you’re not familiar with the name.) Drop slips of paper with devices to build in one bowl, things that solve problems like an egg fryer or a mouse trap. Put slips with random objects in another bowl, things like spoon, pencil, comb, chair. Draw a device to build and then draw three objects that must be part of building that device. Then work together to draw on paper or a whiteboard solutions to building that device with those things. It’s a fun puzzle without winners and losers.

    14. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Thank you all for your suggestions, though alas we used none of them. By the time dinner was done and the food was put away, my toddler nephew was about done and ready to start melting down, so three of the adults had to leave early.

      Thanks anyway, and I will definitely keep some of these in my back pocket for future occasions.

    15. ThursdaysGeek*

      Two more for next time:

      Dictionary – from the dictionary, the person who is it finds a word no-one knows. The person with the dictionary writes down the real defintion, everyone else makes up a definition. Then the person who knows the real one reads all the entries, and each person says what they think is the correct meaning. For everyone fooled, the person who had the definition gets a point, and everyone who fools someone else also gets a point. Then the next person gets the dictionary and finds a word.

      Someone and someone went somewhere and did something and said something. This needs at least 5 people, paper and pens. Each person writes down someone’s name (living, dead, real, fictional, past, present), folds the paper back so it can’t be seen, and passes it. The next person writes down ‘and ‘ someone else, folds, and passes. The next statement starts with ‘went …’ and has a phrase about them going to a place. Next statement is ‘where they …’ did something. Last statement is ‘and said …’ and something they said. The paper is passed one more time, and that person opens it up and reads the short story. So, you might get a story like:
      and Peter Pan
      when to the Brooklyn Zoo
      where they ate caramel apples with nuts and sprinkles
      and asked “why are you wet?”

  7. HCTZ*

    Any good tips that have worked for you for reconditioning a reactive dog?

    Since I moved into this giant apartment complex, my 10 pound mini doxie is all types of reactive. She’s lived in a house most of her life and not seeing TONS of dogs day in, day out like in this complex. I’ve been trying some distraction techniques with treats (per the internets), just wondering what others have tried/had work. Thanks!

    1. Reba*

      If you have a friend with a dog who will help you train, or you can go someplace like a park where you can reliably see dogs but from farther away, you can increase your dog’s tolerance or threshold for reacting to other dogs *gradually*. This is of a piece with the treat thing you are doing, but ultimately the point is not to distract as such but to reprogram the doggy brain with positive conditioning. It takes a looooong time but does work!

      I have used the Spirit dog training videos and liked the method. One example, you go to a park and while far from another dog, scatter a lot of treats for sniffing and picking up off the ground. Later or next day, do same but a little bit closer to the trigger. Rinse and repeat. If the whole apt complex area is really stimulating, you might have to start somewhere more calm like a park, or the far end of the parking lot, or the parking lot of a big box store, and work up to the complex.

      The other thing we do is just pick the dog up if we can’t avoid other dogs or keep enough distance. 99% of the time she doesn’t react when she’s in our arms. She’s 40 lbs so I’m guessing that picking up the 10 pounder would be easier :) Until you can do some training it might be worth experimenting with picking up or other ways to try and just interrupt the reaction — the more times she does it, it will reinforce the reactivity to the neighbor dogs.

      Also, my experience has been that any training you do that rewards your dog’s attention being on you will be helpful to this in the long run, as you build your dog’s capacity to listen to you when outdoors. So you can do lots of funner games and stuff that will contribute to this particular training project as well.

      Good luck!


      I’d check out podcasts by Sarah Stremming- cog dog radio! She’s got some on reactivity and is a great trainer. Her behavioral wellness program has changed how I train dogs as a professional as I’ve seen big shifts in my own dogs following her methods. I’d also look into work by other R+ trainers like Leslie Mcdevit; Suzanne Clothier; etc

      Best of luck! It can be difficult to work reactivity on your own as finding the sweet spot where your dog is under threshold and still able to learn but is close enough to make progress can be challenging.

    3. Cat and dog fosterer*

      With the conditioning it is better to not distract but to have your dog look at the other dog then reward by looking at you. I’ll try to find a link to a relevant Victoria Stillwell youtube video and post in a reply (It’s me or the dog)

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Teaching Leave it with an object:

        It is a short video so know that it would have taken a lot more practice but the concepts are there.

        You are teaching the dog to acknowledge the other dog, not ignore it. I have used this with a reactive dog and it got him to where I could walk past other dogs on walks and he would look to me for a treat.

      2. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Here is one where she trains with a dog-reactive dog.

        Again, it takes a lot more training than a few minutes but you can see how it can evolve. The difference between distract and acknowledge-but-ignore is subtle but it has made a big difference in the reactive dogs that I’ve fostered.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I think a lot about this with my dog and I think you’ll get lots of good behavioral training techniques but I’ll also put in a vote for environmental techniques. My dog rarely barks inside because, due to the the way the windows and furniture are arranged, he can’t see the sidewalk from where he is. I’ve seen people use one-way mirror film or curtains to block windows or glass doors (sliding glass doors would be a nightmare for my mutt). If he’s triggered by the sound of dogs in the hallway, perhaps a white noise machine or fan.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My dog reacts to sounds, and what our trainer suggested was get or make a recording of the sound in question (her example was our doorbell) and then play it very very quietly, and reward the dog for not responding. Over time, gradually increase the volume, plus if you hear the sound naturally and the dog doesn’t respond, treats! She actually had one family that she works with use the recording of their own doorbell to train the dog to go to her crate when the doorbell rang.

    6. HCTZ*

      OMG Im so sorry, looks like I had ANOTHER nesting fail but thanks so much to everyone for the tips/references!! im gonna check em all out.

  8. Invisible fish*

    Those vacuum bags that compress bulky fabric items – yes? No? Useful or wasteful? If a good choice for storing winter items, brands and where to buy?

    1. Pop*

      Yes!!! We use them to store kid clothes (we have one and want another in a few years, so no use getting rid of things). Gets things to like 50-70% of their original size.

    2. Madame Arcati*

      I like them for changing over my wardrobe twice a year, putting away the heavy winter things in spring and the summer frocks in autumn. Then they go into under-bed storage.
      Honestly I’ve never bought branded ones just whatever is in the local household items/diy store (if anyone can tell me what the US equiv of Robert Dyas is – that!)’and they’ve been fine for a few years.

    3. Voluptuousfire*

      Yay. I used them for a trip to Los Angeles back in October for my underwear and a few other things, and it saved a lot of room in my luggage. I made sure to buy the set that came with the little hand pump so that way I was able to use it on my way back as well.

      I have a bunch of them and have a ton of winter stuff. I need to wash and sort out and I’ll probably use them to get them sorted for the season.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        +100 to the hand pump!
        I watched the couple camping next to me try to compress everything by squishing the bags manually, then sitting on them, then kneeling and pressing on them, and finally lying down and rolling on them. Much colorful language was involved.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          Delightful description: Much colorful language was involved.
          I hope they were highly inventive! It’s fun to learn new cuss word combinations.

    4. WestsideStory*

      We tried them and they were good for heavy winter coats. Everything else came out wrinkled!

    5. Professor Plum*

      I like using them for winter travel–really helps to reduce the bulk of fluffy sweaters.

      1. Imtheone*

        I have two types for travel. One set is plastic with a one-way valve. I put in folded clothes, then seal and roll, which squeezes out the air. The other set is cloth, with one zipper to seal and one to compress.
        The plastic set is more trouble when packing, but lets me greatly compress clothing.

    6. Maybesocks*

      I’m surprised no one else seems to have had trouble with the bags leaking. I’ve never had a bag work well except for one that worked well only ones. I think I’m doing everything right with closing them up and vacuuming.

  9. Vacation dreams*

    Wanna help me brainstorm a vacation? My MIL has a big birthday next year and loves the beach. She lives in New England and doesn’t drive, but gets to some NE beaches occasionally. However, I think it would be really nice to take her somewhere with warmer water, maybe even snorkeling. Some parameters: She does not have a passport, but a domestic flight is an option. (Husband or I would handle ground transport.) She is very frugal so I am drawn to the idea of an all-in-one resort (just eat what you want, Ma, it’s already paid for!). Florida is a no-go because politics. We’d be paying (not her) but I don’t know what to reasonably expect to pay for a resort package. (Maybe a VRBO is a better idea? We’re not unwilling to cook and we don’t drink much.) Her birthday is in April but is that a good time to go? With a year’s lead time we have some flexibility with work schedules. She tends to prefer things not to be too crowded. Does this sound like anywhere you’ve been? Please share & thanks!

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Hmm, I have a beach vacation for the Outer Banks partially planned (probably not going to happen this year, alas), so that was my first thought. It’s pretty much the northernmost part of the Atlantic that gets the warm water of the Gulf Stream. It’s been a good few years since I’ve been, but it was less commercialized than Florida, though still pretty touristy. Less crowded beaches, smaller town feel. I don’t think you would find an all inclusive. Water would still be pretty cold in April-I found a graph that said it averages ~60F.

      But my second thought, if you want to do something really special, is Hawaii. The water would be lovely and I’m pretty sure they do have all-inclusive places. Flights would be a lot more though. I’ve never been so someone else would have to recommend specifics.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh, and I usually start planning vacations that involve flights by finding a good deal on flights. When I have the two ends of the vacation, it’s a lot easier to start planning the middle. After that I either find a place to stay or some things I want to do, depending on which I find first.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      I will say that there aren’t really any true all-inclusive resorts in the U.S. There are 2 or 3 that sort of are, but they’re in Florida. If she did have a passport, I can think of several in Mexico that would be perfect, though!

      What about renting a place on the coast of South Carolina? Or Georgia, like near Tybee Island?

      As far as the time of year, I think it depends on where you’re going.

      Also, given that you mentioned keeping the budget down, I assume Hawaii is out? Because it’s obviously gorgeous and beachy.

      Another idea is Puerto Rico! She won’t need a passport.

      1. Vacation dreams*

        Hawaii isn’t totally out, but it’s a very long flight and a big time change. I think she’d get more enjoyment out of less time traveling and more time beaching! The other options are all intruguing!

      2. Clisby*

        The ocean will be pretty chilly in April in SC and Georgia. Today’s Charleston Harbor temp is less than 70 F, which is wonderful for walking around, but not so wonderful for swimming.

        I second at least checking out Puerto Rico. It’s in the US; it’s warmer than SC; and snorkeling in the Caribbean surely must be better in the Caribbean than the Atlantic. I live in Charleston, and I guess people might snorkel around here, but I don’t know how they could see much – the water is much murkier than in the Caribbean.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      With year-round snorkeling: US Virgin Islands. We’ve been to St. John a couple of times and loved it–very quiet and laid back. My husband hates crowds so if that’s a criterion this is a great choice.

      Nice ocean and beaches to gaze at from the shore in April: North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Last time (Thanksgiving a few years ago) we got an AirBnB right on the beach, and it was great. The wild horse tours are particularly nice if any of you are into horses, and there’s a museum at Kitty Hawk with the history of flight that also teaches hang gliding.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      I second St. John; it is gorgeous and has great snorkeling. Food is very expensive there, so that might bug her. I know you said Florida is out, but unless you’re completely avoiding it on principle, I’d consider the Keys. Good snorkeling, and the Keys are a pretty liberal place (Key West has been a haven for LGBTQ folks and drag queens for many years).

      The Georgia coast is one of my favorite places, but snorkeling is a no go there because the water isn’t clear. It’s not dirty, it’s just full of tannins from the plant life on the marsh side. Some people don’t like the way the beaches look on the GA coast and I always recommend looking at pictures before they go.

    5. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Isle of Palms off Charleston SC is my very favorite beach, and they have a complex with several different hotels, etc., at varying prices (ok, none really cheap, but…) It’s simply gorgeous, and you have Charleston nearby to do touristy things.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        I live near IOP and second it as a lovely beach! April starts spring break crowds for Charleston and the beaches keep filling up the later in the summer you go. If you aren’t necessarily seeking or needing to actually swim in the ocean, I’d recommend March or early April at least.

      2. Clisby*

        We lived there for a year and a half before we bought our house in Charleston – but I wouldn’t want to go swimming there in April, and snorkeling would just be a no-go – you couldn’t possibly see anything.

        If you just like to walk on the beach and look at the ocean – yes, IOP is a great choice.

    6. DataSci*

      Puerto Rico! No passports but it still feels “special” and is a LOT closer to the East Coast than Hawaii is. April should be shoulder season so not super crowded. I don’t know about all-inclusive resorts since that’s not really our thing. There’s also other cool stuff to do if you want a break from the beach.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      Maybe rent a house on Sanibel Island FL? It’s SO lovely there and the beach combing is epic

    8. EJ*

      A closed loop cruise currently doesn’t REQUIRE a passport, just a birth certificate and ID. Better to have one in case of emergency, but not required. one of my travel party just did this last week as their passport renewal hadnt come back yet! I did a Bermuda cruise from Virginia Beach/Norfolk area a number of years ago and it was divine! Didnt have to go thru florida, lol. I believe there is one from Boston or NYC etc.

      A cruise would give you the “all inclusive” feel.

  10. MaxKitty*

    Some friends just rented a house on St. John in the US Virgin Islands and had a fabulous time. No passport needed because it’s US territory.

  11. Pharmgirl*

    Baking help! I have a recipe for apple pie that has you par bake the crust (homemade dough). I’m feeling lazy and also trying to use up a frozen pie shell. Can I thaw the frozen crust and then par bake and fill per instructions?

    1. Reba*

      You can parbake it from frozen.

      That said, I don’t know what your preference is, but you don’t even really *need* to blind bake it — it can be good step, but if you really are lazy you don’t need to :) So the crust may be a little soft, oh well! I would say not to blind bake especially if your method is to fill the pie with raw apples, they will be cooking a long time!

      1. Pharmgirl*

        Ok I may go with this! It’s not for a special occasion, just find myself with a ton of apples and remembered I had the pie shell. Thanks!

    2. bright as yellow*

      My sister’s a baker, and she says you don’t need to thaw. You can directly par bake from frozen.

      1. Lilo*

        It actually might even be better from frozen because it’ll prevent the butter from melting out.

    3. BRR*

      Yup. If you’re feeling lazy you could also get away with not par baking and bake the pie on a lower rack in the oven.

      1. Pharmgirl*

        I’m thinking of doing this, the pie isn’t for anything special, just have too many apples!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Homemade applesauce is dirt-easy – you don’t even have to peel if you don’t want to! just slice/core, and fill up a crockpot and leave it on low for about 12 hours. You can add in other goodies if you want, other fruits (I made a killer apple-peach-pear-strawberry-mango sauce one time), cinnamon, vanilla, a splash of whiskey or brandy, but no sugar is needed. When you get to the end, if you like chunky applesauce just hit it with a potato masher or wooden spoon to break it up a bit, and if you prefer smooth, food processor or food mill will do the trick. Stores well in the fridge, and freezes well. Excellent on vanilla ice cream, and super tasty hot or cold.

  12. Teapot Translator*

    I need help planning my vacation in Portugal in September. I’ll be there around two weeks and I arrive in Lisbon and leave from Porto.
    I’ve found itineraries going North to South, but nothing the other way around. Anyone’s done it from Lisbon to Porto? I’m not renting a car, so I’ll be travelling by train (or bus).
    Regardless of which way you went, besides Lisbon and Porto, what are the main cities I should go to? I prefer to make fewer stops and spend at least two nights someplace.
    Is it worth it to spend two nights in Sintra instead of a day trip from Lisbon?
    What attractions would you recommend in Lisbon and Porto?

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I love Lisbon. If I could get myself to learn Portuguese, I’d even consider moving there.

      As far as sightseeing, my partner and I stuck to the main sights and enjoyed long walks around the city, so I’ll leave a couple tips for food we loved.

      1) My favourite savoury dishes were arroz de pato (rice with duck) and açorda de gambas (a thick soup with prawns and bread).

      2) Pasteis de nata are great pretty much anywhere you buy them, but if you go to visit the monastery in Belem, go have some at Pasteis de Belem. It’s the best known maker, and it’s for a very good reason – they were indeed the best of our entire trip. When we went, there was a huge queue for takeaway at the front of the shop, that we bypassed completely when we asked to get seats at the back.

      1) My favourite pastry of the whole trip was one called Rocha, that I could only find at one cafe in the entire trip (and not even at the very authentic Portuguese bakery near me in the UK). It’s a very dense dough with candied fruit and some kind of syrup brushed on top. I’ve been dreaming of it since that trip, which was many years ago now. I had it at a cafe near the Botanical Gardens, which may have been São Roque or Doce Real, but hopefully there are more around that make it.

      I’d say you can visit Sintra in a day, as it’s quite small, so perhaps one night is enough if you’re set on sleeping there? We went there as a day trip from Lisbon. I don’t remember the train ride being very long, and we saw all the main sights comfortably.

      The one thing we missed out on when I went to Lisbon, because we ran out of time, was a day trip to the coast. Cascais is the coastal town everyone recommends, so if I happen to be back in Lisbon, that’s one of the places I’ll see. We went in May, and it was maybe still too chilly to sunbathe and get into the water, but still nice enough that we’d have had a good stroll in the sun. I’d expect September might be similar.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thank you for all the advice!
        Just to visit the city itself, how many nights would you recommend staying in Lisbon?

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          I think our trip may have been 4 or 5 days including the day trip to Sintra. Aside from missing out on Cascais, it felt like enough :)

    2. Laura Petrie*

      We bought a Lisbon card (can’t remember the exact name) when we went just before Covid hit. It included entry to loads of attractions and public transport.

      We loved the city, there are some great viewpoints where you get fantastic views. Definitely get the vintage tram up towards the castle, it’s an experience.

      For pastel de nata, we were not keen on the ones in Belem. Our favourites were from Manteigaria. There’s one in Time Out Market and another not far from the Santa Justa lift

    3. Anonosaurus*

      Train from Lisbon to Porto is straightforward, I did it last year. Don’t have a brain fade like me and get off at a suburban station though! Wait till you get to São Bento.

      Personally I wouldn’t stay in Sintra, it’s a day trip location for me. Cascais would be a better trip within a trip.

      However it’s not possible to not have a wonderful time in Portugal! Take it easy, enjoy the food and of course the wine.

          1. Anonosaurus*

            I’ve been several times to Lisbon and I would say 4 nights is probably perfect but I have spent a week there too and not felt bored. Porto is similar, I was there for two nights which definitely wasn’t enough. Going back in fall for a week!

    4. Helvetica*

      Train from Lisbon to Porto is very easy, I’ve done it. I think we had something like a day ticket, so we also got off in-between at Coimbra for a few hours, which was lovely, and were planning on Aveiro but it was 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), which is a lot, so we just went on to Porto.
      Sintra is gorgeous and magical but a daytrip is fully enough; we saw both the main castle and the Moorish castle in a day.
      In Porto, you must have some port – there are many tours of port cellars and even if you’re not a fan of the drink, it is a great experience. We also join some of the free walking tours in every city we go to; did it both for Lisbon and Porto. It is a great opportunity to get a sense of the city with someone who’s local. In Portugal, we used Sandemans and it was delightful.
      In Lisbon, definitely go to the seaside and Belem area. We stayed there and it was super nice + that is where the pasteis de nata are from. Cascais is a lovely day trip from Lisbon, beautiful seaside town, as is Cabo da Roca, the Westernmost point of European mainland (you can take a bus from Cascais, if I recall correctly).

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Thanks! How many nights would you recommend in Lisbon and Porto? I don’t like to rush.
        I’m hoping it won’t be too hot in September. I was in Greece in August one year. It was challenging. :D

        1. Helvetica*

          I think we did 4 days in each, which seemed enough. The places I mention are great daytrip locations from both.

    5. tab*

      I loved my trip to Portugal. I recommend Sintra, Obidos, and Coimbra in addition to Lisbon and Porto. I recommend visiting Coimbra on weekdays when the students are in town. We took the train (and one bus) to visit all those cities.

    6. Pearl Grey*

      You will love Portugal! My husband and I went in November 2022. We arrived in Lisbon and immediately headed north in our rental car. We stopped at Castelo de Óbidos, Foz do Arelho, and then saw the big surf waves at Nazare before heading to the medieval university town of Coimbra. We spent one night there at the Hotel Astória which is an Art Nouveau flatiron building near the bank of the Mondego River. The next day we visited the Roman ruins at Conimbriga which we found fascinating!

      In Porto we stayed for 3 nights at a lovely Airbnb owned by friends of a friend. We parked the rental car in a nearby garage for the duration of our stay in Porto. Public transportation or walking took us everywhere we wanted to go. Porto highlights included: walking across Dom Luis I bridge to visit the wine lodges on the southern side of the river, the Fundação Serralves art museum, Casa da Música, eating fresh sardines in Matsohinos, and the Bolhão market. I can highly recommend a trip to the Duoro Valley, perhaps by train or boat if you aren’t renting a car. We spent one night at a guesthouse in the Duoro Valley (beautiful!), one night in Covilhã (lovely old town with lots of street art) then a day visit to Elvas, and one overnight in a lovely guesthouse outside of Évora. We finished with 3 nights in the Alfama district of Lisbon. We didn’t have time to visit Sintra on this trip.

      There is plenty to see in Lisbon. Castelo de São Jorge is a must! We also enjoyed the Se, the Pantheon, The Belem Tower, the Fado Museum, The Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (aka MAAT), and the LX Factory. If the weather is nice, take a ferry ride across the river to Cacilhas and stroll along the waterfront where you’ll see some amazing street art.

      We used public transportation in both Porto and Lisbon. In Porto, I would recommend spending €15 for an Andante Tour 3 card which gives you 72 hours unlimited trips on the Metro/bus system. €7 for a 24 hour Tour 1 card. This pass is only available at the Andante store at the airport or in certain Metro stations including Trindade, Campanhã, Hospital São João and Casa da Música. Lisbon has a similar card for multi-day travel on public transport.

      Enjoy your trip!

        1. Pearl Grey*

          If you have the time, I would recommend that you stay at least 4 or 5 nights each in Porto and Lisbon. Four nights translates into only three full days for sightseeing which is really tight, particularly if you don’t like to rush.

    7. Lore*

      I was in Lisbon in early October and it was a heat wave, so it’s definitely possible–not brutally hot and very pleasant at night but the sun was baking at midday. Lisbon is full of tiny single-subject museums–I was there for four days and could easily have filled three more. We didn’t even do most of the tourist attractions, but the marionette museum and the tile museum were personal favorites. I also really enjoyed riding the ferry (I am a person who will ride a boat whenever the opportunity presents itself). The famous tram was famously crowded so we didn’t even get to do that. I spent a lot of time at Livreria Bertrand, the world’s oldest bookstore. If you like gin, the Gin Lovers Bar is a must–worth it for the room alone; it’s in a converted palace that’s full of other fancy shops, but the cocktails were amazing.

    8. J Jonah Jameson*

      In addition to what’s been mentioned, a few other things I enjoyed when I was in Lisbon in 2013 were the Azulejo museum, the Carmo archaeological museum, and the aquarium. There are also some amazing overlooks, some accessible by outdoor elevator. And if you have a chance to go for dinner and fado, give that a try. I don’t drink, but my wife enjoyed a good port too. I did not run out of things to do in about a week just in Lisbon and Sintra.

      Agreed with others that a day trip to Sintra is fine and get the pasteis de nata in Belem.

  13. Ginger Cat Lady*

    What’s your favorite variation on chicken and rice? It’s something everyone in my house will eat these days, so I’ve been making a few different variations on it (a lemon/garlic one, an arroz con pollo one, a savory tomato & herb one…) but would love to expand my options.

    1. Not A Manager*

      Try Yotam Ottolenghi’s chicken with clementines and Pernod. It’s great with plain white rice.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Speaking of Ottolenghi, the chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice is also very good. The recipe is available online.

    2. bunny*

      I’ve been making a lot of fried rice lately. Cook rice & cool it, then fry in in pan, add meat (in your case), lots of veg and flavour with a touch of soy sauce and lots of sesame oil

    3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      I make an apricot chicken dish with a few very ripe diced apricots, squeeze of lemon, onion, capsicum, salt & pepper. It goes great with white rice.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      HelloFresh has a coconut curry recipe with chicken and bell peppers that I make fairly often. Super yummy but pretty easy to make

      1. HannahS*

        Yeah, I like that one! I simplify it–I just put the marinade on chicken pieces and roast them instead of pan frying. We just serve it with rice and salad. Very good.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We mix up the marinade and freeze the chicken in it, then put it straight from the freezer into the sous vide. It’s also really good on a salad, and then the white sauce makes a pretty good dressing, if you’re not wanting or able to do the rice part for whatever reason.

          1. HannahS*

            Oh wow, that’s such an interesting method! I don’t know anyone with a sous-vide. Sounds good, sounds nice and hands-off.

    5. Turtle Dove*

      It’s pretty junky by my current standards, what with three cans of condensed soup, but I love a childhood dish that was a big hit with everyone in the family. It’s called Jerry Hodak’s Chicken Rice Casserole. You can probably find it by Googling that name, but I’ll respond to myself with a link. Funny, I mentioned it to my husband just a few days ago as we discussed favorite childhood recipes, and I’d like to make it again soon. I leave out the butter and can personally take or leave the mushrooms. I’d like to experiment with a from-scratch substitute for the canned soups that might make it healthier.

      1. Meh*

        Cream of ___, rice and chicken was my comfort food as a kid. I always called it cheesy chicken as a kid – I think the creaminess made me think there was cheese in it? I’ve not bought a can of soup in decades but now maybe I’ll make some this week. Thanks for the memory!

        1. Turtle Dove*

          You’re very welcome! Now I’m craving chicken and rice. Sometimes I get my fix by ordering chicken fried rice, but you can’t beat childhood comfort food.

        2. RagingADHD*

          You can substitute a basic white sauce for cream of whatever soup. Season it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to start with. You can get it closer to the “whatever” by starting the pan with that incredient – mushroom, chicken, celery, or whatever it is.

          You can’t exactly replicate the flavor, because what you are tasting in the canned version is the highly-processed-ness. But the fresh version tastes so much better, you probably will prefer it.

          1. Turtle Dove*

            Thanks! I’m not much of a cook, but I can handle that. I bet you’re right that I’ll prefer that flavor profile.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s chicken curry is great. It’s in the flavor profile of chicken tikka masala.

      Also recommend her soy-glazed chicken as a simple dish that hits a lot of takeout chicken notes.

    7. No Tribble At All*

      For the brave!! 40-clove garlic chicken. The garlic roasts at the same time as the chicken. It’s sooooo good but should only be eaten with close friends, lol

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        I looooove 40-Garlic Chicken! It absolutely is worth all the time you spend peeling the garlic cloves!

        1. No Tribble At All*

          The real secret is to just not peel the garlic and squeeze it out whenever you want to eat it ;)

    8. Elle*

      Check out Half Baked Harvest’s skillet enchiladas. Very good chicken and rice options there.

    9. BlueWolf*

      The NY Times has an easy recipe for one pot chicken and rice with ginger that I liked.
      2 tablespoons neutral or olive oil
      1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin slices
      2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
      Kosher salt
      3 large garlic cloves, minced or grated
      2 cups jasmine rice, rinsed with cold water
      3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water, at room temperature
      3/4 pound quick-cooking greens, such as chard, kale or spinach, leaves removed from thick stems, if needed, and cut or torn into bite-size pieces (about 4 packed cups)
      2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more as needed
      2 limes, 1 juiced (about 1 tablespoon juice) and 1 cut into wedges
      2 scallions (optional), sliced
      1/4 packed cup cilantro leaves and tender stems (optional), roughly torn or chopped
      In a large Dutch oven or pot with a lid, heat the oil and ginger slices over medium-high until the oil around the ginger starts to sizzle, 1 to 2 minutes. Season the chicken with salt, then push the ginger to the side. Add the chicken to the pan and let cook, undisturbed, until the chicken starts to brown and easily releases from the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. (It’s OK if the pieces of chicken don’t all have color, as it will be crowded.) Stir in the garlic and rice, flipping over the chicken, and cook until the rice is coated with oil and starts to sizzle, about 1 minute.

      Add the stock or water, then raise the heat to high to bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up anything on the bottom of the pot. Cover and immediately lower the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until most of the water has been absorbed and the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. During the last 8 minutes, stir to make sure nothing is sticking on the bottom, then layer the greens on top, cover and finish cooking.

      Remove from the heat, stir in the soy sauce and juice of 1 lime. Fluff the rice and let sit for 5 minutes, covered. Serve as is, or pull the chicken apart into bite-size pieces. Season to taste with salt, the lime wedges and more soy as needed or serve at the table. Top with the scallions and cilantro, if using.

    10. Lilo*

      Chetna (from Bake Off) has a couple of chicken curry recipes on her YouTube Channel Food with Chetna that are easy too.

    11. wkfauna*

      Chicken biryani for sure. It’s incredibly comforting and my little one will even eat it…. sometimes….

      I use an Instant Pot to make it. My favorite recipe is on the Piping Pot Curry site. For me it strikes a perfect balance between complex/fussy and achievable on a weeknight. Also, the recipe on the Two Sleevers site is much simpler and still pretty delicious.

      1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

        That looks awesome. Do you really need saffron? The rest I can do but I don’t see myself buying that…

        1. wkfauna*

          No, I don’t think so. I went through the trouble of getting it last time and I personally could not taste it. I think it’s more of a visual thing as it does tint parts of the dish a nice reddish-orange color.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            You could probably get a similar effect with a little bit of turmeric!

    12. the cat's ass*

      Baked risotto-chicken-shallot-arugula. So painless and delicious. MyItalian friends shake their heads (baked risotto is a crime) but then eat it happily.

    13. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Cheesy chicken broccoli rice. I prefer the stovetop one pot version to the casserole version, but there a million recipes for both on the internet.

    14. Unicornucopia*

      I really like the Barefoot Contessa recipe of chicken with creamy mustard sauce served over rice. It’s very adaptable to whatever you have in your fridge or personal tastes. I also like honey lemon chicken over rice, lots of recipes out there for this. I don’t really have a lot of recipes where the chicken and rice are cooked together, I’m more likely to go for a chicken and orzo recipe, and there’s a good Half Baked Harvest sun dried tomato chicken orzo recipe that is pretty easy. Hope that helps!

    15. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Ifoodreal has a Ukrainian chicken and rice for the instant pot. It’s hands off and basic but tasty flavor profile. I like it if I’m running errands before dinner because of the IP keep warm feature.

    16. Elle*

      Two Peas and their Pod has a sesame ginger rice salad with chicken I’m going to try for lunch this week.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Ever since packets of the sauce paste were on offer in my local supermarket, I make Nasi Goreng, which is Indonesian fried rice, and can be made with chicken or other things such as prawns.

    17. carcinization*

      I’m sure I could make a huge list here, but I’m just going to look at my bookmarks… I make Budget Bytes’ Yellow Chicken & Rice Skillet fairly often, it’s way better than the recipe looks. Averie Cooks also has a one-pan Baked Teriyaki Chicken and Rice that I’ve enjoyed. I think you already have a bunch of other great suggestions as well!

  14. Fun puppy tricks*

    Puppy training.

    Looking for some fun and easy tricks my kids can teach a puppy. They have taught him to ‘fist bump’ (tap his paw on a closed fist), which they love. I’m looking for things along those lines. Fun and low stakes. He’s very food driven and adores the attention. The kids are committed but excitable and not particularly consistent with commands and expectations.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Haha, I don’t teach shake/high five/fistbump because it turns into “but if I hit you with my paws I get treats, right?” and I have big dogs. But if you’re not worried about that they could do high five (both “up high” and “down low”). We teach my dogs “couch” which is “go to your spot,” usually on the actual couch but my older dog sometimes goes to her pillow instead and that’s okay too.

      Play dead (laying on the side with paws out) is another one. My Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond helped when I was teaching her baby sister – baby sister wasn’t getting it, so finally Elder Statesdog reached out and pushed her over and held her head down with a paw while I rewarded. It clicked real fast after that haha.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For a smaller dog, could do maybe “sit up,” to sit down and then raise their front paws up in the air? I’ve never seen a big dog manage to do this, but the smaller dog we had when I was a kid did it all the time.

        1. ThatGirl*

          We did this with our dog and called it reach for the sky!

          Roll over is also fun. Start with lie down, then go from there.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Nice! You could — think this through a lot before suggesting it, and again, not one for big dogs, but — you COULD teach “dance” or “hugs”, if you really wanted to. (I have a 115 pound Dane and am still putting the finishing touches on NOT jumping up on me, so that’s another one I didn’t teach, but. :P )

    2. No Tribble At All*

      I’ve also seen “circle” where the dog turns in a circle, like chasing their tail really slowly. A motion that puppies are going to do anyway :) and it’s safer for older dogs who shouldn’t roll over.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      This is less of a trick and more of game, but still fun for pup and people alike.
      Dog does a sit/stay (or just close the door) in one room while the person hides a treat in the other. You’ll want to start with it in plain sight and work up to actually hiding it. Then you release the dog and yell “find it”. Dog gets the treat when he finds it.
      I played this with a beagle I was dog sitting and by the end she could go straight to a treat all the way in the basement, but it’s also great fun with our less scent oriented mutts.

      “Catch” is also a good game/trick. Just throw treats to the dog and he only gets them if they don’t hit the floor. Puppies to seem to be moderately grown up before they can do this though.

      I also like “Jump”. Start with a broomstick on the floor and work your way up a couple of inches at a time until pup is actually jumping. Probably don’t want to have him leaping very high while he’s still growing, but a short jump would be fine.

      If he’s going to be big enough to pull something when he grows up, it’d be a good idea to start him now. As a kid, I really wanted to turn our family mutts into sled dogs, but they were totally wigged out by this thing following them around everywhere. Better to start them young. You need a proper harness if he’s going to be pulling any weight, but an old belt and a bit of string is fine if he’s just pulling around a cardboard box with a stuffed animal in it. Nothing attached to his collar though! You don’t want to teach him to pull against that. And the kids would probably enjoy giving “sleigh rides” to all their stuffed animals.

    4. Missb*

      One of the tricks my trainer encouraged us to do involved a large stockpot, one that could sit on the floor upside down. It doesn’t take long to teach a food-oriented pup to put their paws on the pot.

      Which in itself is cute as heck but the idea here for the next step is to get the pup to spin around each direction while keeping paws on the pot and you stand next to him and move slightly in each direction. It helps them keep track of where their back end is and how to heel. Once they’re done with the pot (multiple sessions), you should be able to have them spin as you turn, without the pot.

      Food oriented pups are fun.


      Boop, whisper in your ear, push a button, pout, back up, crawl, spin both directions, jump up, go to your bed, wave, paws up, sit pretty are the ones I can think of off the top of my head!

      Look up the trick list for akc novice trick title or do more with your dog and you’ll find a great list!

    6. Ariaflame*

      Circle. Lead them by the nose with the treat into a circle while saying the word. Does not take too long before they will circle on command.

    1. MEH Squared*

      This is terrific! Your husband fit the song perfectly to the movements of Olive. She’s such a doll!

    2. o_gal*

      Awesome! I hope it doesn’t get muted for use of the song, because the song is perfect.

    3. No Tribble At All*

      Please tell Olive she is a beautiful princess and Mr Alison that he’s a cinematographic genius

    4. Once too often*

      Great video! Olive is gorgeous. And how nice to see handsome Sam in some parts of it.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      Took that skippidy-pap like a champ! Did your husband take your last name, Alison?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Oh look at them fluffy toe beans!! Thank you for sharing Albert. That’s a perfect name for a fluffy little man.

      1. Lena Clare*

        He is! Funnily enough, he has a litter sibling who is in NO WAY like him at all! It’s so funny how different they are. Albert is more like Hank.

  15. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

    A few months ago I asked for tips for self publishing my novel. Thanks to those who commented, especially RagingADHD who gave a lot of good advice as well as a few chuckles. Every time I see a terrible book cover I think of the term “Becky-Home-Ec-y” and giggle.

    I am pleased to say that I navigated the treacherous waters of self-publishing, made a modest number of sales, and received some great reviews. Maybe after I’ve published a couple more I’ll be posting again asking for promotional tips.

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        Ooh I wish I could share it with you! But I think it would be seen as advertising on here.

          1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

            I certainly do read my own books, sometimes I even laugh at something I’ve written :)
            If you want to know what I’ve been reading, I’ve just posted on the reading thread for you.

  16. Broken scones*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for how to keep track of their digital accounts online? For example, I recently bought a password book because it was driving me crazy having to reset my passwords for my social media accounts. I’m looking for advice on how to streamline things. Thank you in advance!

    1. KatEnigma*

      I use Bitwarden. (Lastpass and I fought constantly) You can use it on both computers and phones.

      1. Ampersand*

        As someone who uses Lastpass and swears they constantly log me out no matter what my settings are, I’m curious which issue(s) you had with it. I’m really relating to “Lastpass and I fought constantly” right now!

        1. KatEnigma*

          Logging me out, could never find my password for sites. You know, just the reason I was using it. Bitwarden isn’t perfect either, but it’s better.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’m all in the Apple ecosystem, so I let my devices suggest my passwords for accounts and then they’re saved across my computers/phone/tablet, protected by my device password.

    3. Lurker*

      Excel. You can customize column titles, sort, etc. And, of course, you can password protect the entire workbook so you only need to remember one password. I guess it’s kind of low tech compared to apps/programs like 1 password, but it works for me.

    4. Double A*

      I finally got a password manager. I use 1password. It took a bit to get set up on the front end, but now it’s amazing. It’s $36 a year.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      Please use either a password manager or the web browser’s own saved passwords feature. If you don’t want to shell out for a dedicated password manager, Chrome and Firefox (and probably other web browsers) can offer to save your passwords and also offer to generate random passwords for you.

    6. beep beep*

      I use Bitwarden. I’m a bit of a suspicious person especially after the Lastpass hacks that they handled terribly, so I don’t use the browser extension, but you can use it just in its own tab without the extension. The “generate strong password” feature is a lifesaver.

    7. Gatomon*

      Bitwarden is what I’d recommend. There’s a free tier and a paid tier ($10/year) and even a family plan.

      A password notebook is a terrible idea security-wise. Anyone who finds that notebook has access to everything written in it, and if that includes your phone PIN or email password, it’s game over. Using a password manager that allows you to grant emergency access to specific persons allows you to control who gets access to that info if something happens. If you really want to keep a physical notebook, at least lock it up in a safe when you’re not referencing it.

    8. MeepMeep123*

      I’m experimenting with mnemonic techniques for that. Brad Zupp’s “Hack-Proof Password System” is one such thing that I tried. Another one, which I am kinda inventing, is a “memory palace” based system – for that one, you assign a location in your house to each digital account, and then the password is the name of the location (with some letter-number and letter-special character substitutions that you do the same way every time). Then, as you walk past that location in your house, remember what digital account it is that you assigned to it. The human brain is very well optimized for remembering locations and can store vast amounts of information that way.

  17. On the spectrum?*

    Does anyone have experience with a late in life autism diagnosis? I’m starting to think I might be on the spectrum. It would explain some if my lack of social and emotional intelligence.
    However, I’m over 60 and will only be working for a few more years.
    I’m also not in the US, so so not have access to the same resources as in the US.
    Does anyone have any experience with a late in life diagnosis? Can I learn better ways to get through life at my age?

    1. Anonymoose*

      I’m not sure if I’m autistic because I haven’t been diagnosed, but I read up online and found some techniques that worked for me. Mostly I felt better knowing that some of my problems are likely based on brain wiring and not a criticism of how I’ve tried to live my life as a thoughtful and caring human. I also sometimes share with others I trust when I struggle socially and have found out that they had problems with the same person.

      There isn’t an easy answer but information really helped me.

    2. Princess Deviant*

      Well, I’m in the UK and got an autism diagnosis at age 46.
      I didn’t think it would make a difference so I actually put it off for a few years, but it has made a ton of difference in how I perceive the world and it put my difficulties and strengths into context.
      I can’t say what the process is like in the US. Mine took a long time, plus it happened over lockdown so there were delays. But it was free. It was definitely worth it to me.

      Ifvyou can afford it or your insurance covers it, I would go for it.
      You might also like to read Women And Girls with Autism Spectrum Disorder by Sarah Hendrickx. She does write about the experience of older women, which might be helpful to you.

    3. autism recs*

      I asked about this a few months back. While I’m in the US, supports for adults –– especially adult women –– looking for autism testing are Not Great. Most of the diagnosticians operate on a model oriented towards children, esp. young boys; and finding somebody who treats adults as more than just larger kids is a challenge. Testing is also very expensive. Leverage personal connections, if you have them, to locate good testing.

      Also, consider what you can achieve by thinking about the ways you’d want the autism diagnosis to change your life, and then asking for that, without the piece of paper that says you’re autistic. I have no idea if I’m autistic or not, but I purchased NC headphones (Sony Anker) and they changed my life. I ask for and get adaptations (accommodations) at work (schedule, etc). While you don’t get as much self-understanding this way, you can make things easier for yourself, while you’re trying to decide on / waiting for testing.

      And, you may have done this already, but look into texts/guides on autism, by adults. A few I’ve found helpful:
      The Loudest Girl in the World (podcast, Lauren Ober)
      The Electricity of Every Living Thing (book, Katherine May)
      The Late Discovered Club (podcast, British-based)
      Unmasking Autism (book, Devon Price)
      Authoring Autism (book, Remi Yergeau)

    4. Melody Pond*

      I was diagnosed a little over a year ago at 35. It did explain quite a bit, and I think for me the most helpful thing has been reframing the model I had in my head about myself and how I work. I’ve generally been much happier since I stopped expecting myself to function the same as other people do.

      One of the things that was most helpful for me was watching YouTube videos of other autistic adults chronicling their journeys towards a diagnosis (whether given by an another clinician or whether self-diagnosed). I was interested in the idea that it’s common for women to be diagnosed in adulthood because the models for diagnosing children were developed based on observations of young boys. So I focused on looking for videos by women in their 30s and 40s who had gone through some kind of an evaluation and diagnosis. I’d be willing to bet there are also videos and stories out there for autistic adults in their 50s/60s.

      I’m not exactly sure what you’re envisioning when you say “learn better ways to get through life”, but… probably? Especially if the burden doesn’t all fall on you to adjust to an NT world. I do feel like I’m having an easier time lately, partly due to life being a little less stressful lately, anyway, but also partly due to me understanding my own limitations better. Some of that means that I expect different things from myself, but sometimes it means I advocate for myself and ask for accommodations from others, without feeling at all guilty or apologetic about it.

      If nothing else, I’d suggest you look for videos, blogs, etc., written by autistic adults about their own experiences. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network or ASAN is a great place to start.

    5. CanadaGoose*

      Welcome to the club! There seems to be a reasonable number of neurodivergent folks who post here, including specifically late-identified autistics like me. Official diagnosis isn’t necessary if you won’t find it helpful personally or professionally.
      If you’d like to connect with more adult autistic people, come hang out at Autastic.com

        1. MeepMeep123*

          I’m someone who never sought one. I’m pretty sure I fit all the diagnostic criteria, and my family is also pretty sure. But I just don’t see what an official diagnosis would do to me other than land me with a stigmatizing label (and there is a stigma). That stigma can come back to bite me if I need to look for a job, if I get divorced and face a custody battle, if I have to convince a doctor that I need healthcare and that I’m not crazy, if I need to emigrate, if I get involved in any sort of criminal proceedings, and so on and so forth. “Normal” people get taken seriously and treated like they’re human. I have endured enough stigma in my life to know that this is not to be taken for granted, and that the loss of “normal” status can have very serious repercussions.

          Also, honestly, I am proud of my neurotype and I don’t see it as a disability, any more than I see my sexual orientation as a disability. I refuse to collaborate in a system that identifies People Like Me as disabled and deficient.

    6. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      Here to say exactly the same as everyone else! I’m 47 and my girlfriend is 74 and over the last couple of years we have both become increasingly convinced we’re both autistic. Neither of us is going to seek a formal diagnosis but it’s such a helpful frame for understanding certain traits, quirks, strengths and difficulties we both have in different combinations. Also, it is super helpful for suddenly understanding neurotypicals! “Wait – they’re not just tougher than me, they really don’t get bothered by sensory overload?”

      I have found autistic twitter and the hashtag #ActuallyAutistic really really valuable. Alison did a great post a few years back – an interview with someone who works at a majority-autistic company – and there were some links there that I found super enlightening.

      If you’re in Australia, there are a few books by late-diagnosed autistic women and nonbinary people around at the moment, notably Hannah Gadsby’s recent memoir (can’t remember the name but it won’t be hard to find).

    7. NL*

      I notice a lot of people with autism here and I’m curious whether they’re disproportionately represented here or whether it’s more common than I realized!

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I know quite a few autistics who are not “out” and if you knew them too, you’d simply have no way of knowing because their masking skills are so good, especially if they’re women. The BBC made a documentary recently, Inside Our Autistic Minds, with a really classic example of this: a female comedian who’s chosen to work in busy, noisy nightclubs and using material which displays her high social and emotional intelligence. When you see her unmask, or listen to her describe how hard it is to go the supermarket it’s an incredible contrast to what she presents. That’s when someone is diagnosed! I can think of at least one of my female relatives in her sixties who really should have been screened as a child but they simply didn’t consider it; she was diagnosed with anxiety and phobias instead.

      2. Anonymoose*

        At a guess… the number is probably similar to the overall percentage, but it gets talked about more because this is a safe space to talk and as a result it feels like there are a lot more. When one person comments then more autistic people are likely to respond, so they might be disproportionately more likely to comment.

      3. Courageous cat*

        Self-diagnosing in particular appears to be more common here than in other spaces.

    8. MeepMeep123*

      Do you need an official diagnosis? I’m 46 and pretty sure I’m on the spectrum. My parents are absolutely sure as well. I never sought official diagnosis because I’m really not sure what it will do for me other than add a stigmatizing label.

      When I had the realization that this might be what’s going on with me, my thought process was like this: my goal here is to improve my life and ways of functioning, not to get an official certificate. I can find autism resources (books or online sources) and try out some things to help me get through life better, even if I don’t have an official piece of paper. If they work, my life just got better. If they don’t work, I’ll try something else.

      I tried some things to help me function, they worked, my life got better, and I didn’t need an official piece of paper after all.

  18. Dr Sarah*

    I know a few people in comment threads have mentioned reading ‘Demon Copperhead’ by Barbara Kingsolver, but I just wanted specifically to recommend it to Alison. For those who don’t know, it’s a modern-day retelling of ‘David Copperfield’, set in Appalachian country, and covering topics including foster care in the area (which I know is something that Alison has recommended a non-fiction book about before) and the oxycodone addiction crisis. Kingsolver’s an amazing writer with an ability to bring out the beauty and hope in everything, and the book struck me very much as something you’d like, Alison; so wanted to recommend it to you in case it’s not already on your to-read list.

    1. Generic Name*

      Ooh, is this her newest book? I was literally wondering yesterday if she had any new ones out. I think I’ve read most of her books at this point. My favorite so far is The Lacuna.

    2. Rara Avis*

      Her writing is powerful but I found the book hard going. If you’re not in a place right now to deal with heavy topics, it could be a downer.

  19. Staying current*

    How do you stay current? I’m a 50-year-old woman with a rewarding job I’ve been at for a long time and a wonderful home life, but I feel like I’m falling behind in life’s social and cultural aspects.

    I seldom go out except to meet friends for dinner, and it is one friend at a time. I’m a homebody. I’m home with my wonderful husband and pets if I’m not at work. I’m introverted by nature, so being out in crowds is exhausting. I prefer a quiet life. I know my choice to stay home puts me at a disadvantage as far as not experiencing things in my community, such as concerts, plays, and various other events and activities. When conversations about the latest things come up, I can only listen with interest. I plan to attend a few things this year to see if it helps me to feel more current. I don’t like this feeling, so am willing to make some changes.

    For social media, I only use Facebook to engage with others. I found Twitter annoying when I did use it a few years ago. I know I have to expand my social media usage to stay current in this area. I’m thinking of using Instagram. What accounts do you follow on Instagram? What social media do you use? Any interesting blogs or podcasts I should follow? I am on YouTube quite often. Any good YouTube channels that you’d recommend?

    It’s not all bad for me, though. I stay current in fashion, hair, and make-up, and I am physically active, so I have those things going for me. I get complimented quite often on my style. I have various YouTube fashionistas to thank for that. I’ve learned so much from watching their channels.

    Any and all advice on how I can become current again is appreciated.

    1. Fiona*

      To me it sounds like you’re making a problem where there isn’t one since you thoroughly enjoy your life as is – but if you want to become more current, I would pick one genuine interest (art? sports? gardening?) and plug into local events or online things that have to do with that interest. But if it feels like a chore, its not worth it!

      1. Staying current*

        I often wonder if I’m making a problem for myself. Still, I can’t stop the nagging feeling that I’m falling behind, and it will catch up with me eventually as I get older in the workplace, especially. I’m not talking about technology, though. I’m good there. I’m happy with my personal life and very comfortable. It’s at work around the younger folks and their conversations that make me feel not so current. Thank you for your ideas, Fiona.

        1. HCTZ*

          You sound like you have a great life, with your priorities and interests in check and at your comfort level! I just think it’s hard to stay current as we get older so dont beat yourself up. But if you’re still looking for a tip, TikTok might be a way to go to stay “current”, even though it might go away soon lol And Im a 40 YO person saying this! And yes it’s spyware-so is facbook and ALLLL OF THEM. I love it because I use it for laughs – LOTS of joking around on there, it’s not just kids dancing. There’s running self deprecating jokes by older people – i.e. >30 – on there all the time, I’ve also come across TONS of even older people with Tik accounts doing regular tik tok things. You basically need to keep up with what’s latest and greatest in social media FB is just OUT – nothing/nobody “current” is on there, Twitter is a cesspool, Instragram is on it’s way out-consider too polished/fake, Tik tok is deemed more real/authentic (though who knows what the future holds). Reading publications that might COVER social media might also help- I love NY Magazine in general and they cover pop culture stuff in one of their sections, including social media adjacent.

          I also just used to ask my younger college-aged brother about latest music, slang lol so there’s another option – ask the young people what’s up! They love explaining the culture, I think personally.

    2. Double A*

      What kind of stuff do you want to stay current about? I don’t think social media is the best way to do that.

    3. Lena Clare*

      I’m not sure what you mean by current?

      For current affairs, although it might be more UK-based, I read the Byline Times. In fact I get all my news from there, and some from the Guardian. But that’s it.
      The people I work with are political, like me, so they’re no shortage of discussions during the work day, which is helpful. They also sometimes point me to useful articles.
      A friend of mine recommended The Economist for up-to-date interesting articles but I haven’t looked at it yet.

      I follow makeup, gardening, and house cleaning YouTube and Instagram accounts, so it’s all very nice and drama-free.

      I avoid FB, except for the info on the odd exercise class now and then. But I don’t use it as a means of communicating and I’m not following anyone.

      I guess I keep ‘young’ as a volunteer in a nursery. The kids are sweet, although I absolutely must welcome getting every bug under the sun!
      Volunteering is a way to keep current, if that would help.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I think Lifehacker has an occasional (weekly?) series about what’s happening in the world of kid culture.

      I like reddit. It’s old-school (text-based) social media without too many distracting bells and whistles, and it has a million communities (subreddits) you can drop in to and lurk on without having to make your own account. I’ve definitely learned some interesting things and a few more current internet abbreviations from my browsing there.

    5. Annie Edison*

      The Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast from NPR is great for staying up-to-date with movies, TV, and music! Each episode is 15-30 min long and a rotating panel of hosts discusses their reactions to a recent show, movie, or album.

      I’ve discovered some things I wouldn’t otherwise have tried from their recommendations, and for things that aren’t my cup of tea, I can at least nod along to conversations about them because I have a basic overview

      1. Retired Accountant*

        This is what I do to try to keep up. And sometimes they go into the Wayback machine. The recent encore episodes about the Muppets were very funny.

    6. Generic Name*

      I’m 43 and I stay current by listening to pop music on the radio. Instagram is definitely good, and I hate to suggest it, but TikTok has a young perspective too. Also, talk to young people. Do you have any young (high school or 20s) relatives? I hear about new slang and current stuff from my teenager.

      1. WestsideStory*

        Seconding listening to the local pop radio station – something I do when housecleaning! My peers are always amazed and yes I was able to explain who Sam Smith was when he appeared so devilish on the Grammys.

    7. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      I’m 47 and it sounds like we have quite similar tendencies, Staying! I have taken the opposite tack to you, though – I’ve decided that I’m not very interested in staying current. I check my clothes/general presentation against other women I admire, to make sure I don’t stay stuck in my favourite period (to be fair, my 47yo ankles wouldn’t let me wear platform trainers anyway now) and look ridiculous to others, but beyond that I just am not very invested. I don’t know any of the celebrities, I read/watch whatever interests me (and most of what I watch on TV is 5-30 years old). I listen with interest when others talk about what they’ve been up to. It is working nicely for me!

      You say that the feeling bothers you and you want to make changes, so I’m not trying to tell you not to! ButI think like Alison says, it’s good to know that other options are there, and that you’re choosing to make the particular trade-off you’re making in any situation. Like – you can have a happy life without staying current, so choosing to do so is not a heavy obligation or a task you might “fail” at, it’s a positive decision to invite more opportunities for joy and energy into your life.

      The other thing I think about this though is that what’s “current” varies WILDLY between people/groups. I could tell you what podcasts I’m listening to but they probably wouldn’t overlap much with the ones your friend groups are referencing – just because there is SO MUCH out there! That’s something I feel has really changed in my lifetime – there used to be four channels on TV when I was young and a general consensus over which current events, movies, books etc were the ones that “counted”. Now I get most of my news from Twitter and my gf gets hers from the newspapers and we often have no idea about the things each other has learned about.

      All of which is probably to say I agree with Fiona! Follow your interests and your communities, and follow the breadcrumbs where they lead you.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. I’m pretty much the same, with two major differences. I couldn’t care less if some people think the clothes I wear make me look ridiculous. I’m obese, and in some people’s eyes I’m going to look ridiculous regardless of what I wear, so I’m sticking to what I like, regardless of whether it’s fashionable or not. I also despise fast fashion, and I’ll basically wear my clothes until they wear out or don’t fit anymore. I have a ton of long-sleeved patterned t-shirts that I bought before the pandemic and that I still wear when I’m WFH, although I’ll pick a more recent acquisition to wear to the office. I have a purple grape colored t-shirt with a pinkish pattern on it and a matching knitted, open-necked sweater that were brand new when my profile picture was taken about 6 years ago. I still sometimes wear this combo, even on days when I’m in video meetings, in spite of the fact that the knitted sweater is so worn that I wouldn’t wear it to the office.

        I do enjoy going to the movies and all the TV I watch isn’t old stuff from the 80s and 90s because I watch some new (streaming) TV shows. I also enjoy going to concerts occasionally, but I don’t really care about new artists, I go to concerts to see bands and artists I’ve liked since my teens or young adulthood. Pretty much the only time I listen to current top 40 pop music on the radio is when I’m going somewhere by car.

        I don’t know if today’s young adults are more tolerant than our generation was, but in my late teens and early 20s there’s frankly nobody I found quite as ridiculous as the person who appeared desperate to seem cool or hip by knowing who or what the youngsters liked… Which is why I’m totally embracing my uncool status and don’t worry if I don’t know about every celebrity etc. that my younger coworkers talk about.

    8. Angstrom*

      At 50& up we are not the target audience for a lot of pop culture. I used to try to listen to the top 10 lists but it felt like a duty, not a pleasure.
      I have no social media accounts and haven’t watched broadcast television for 30 years. I read the local paper and national news, have websites I check daily for information about my interests, and stay involved with local events through local sources.
      Not recognizing the celebrity names in the supermarket checkout line does not mean you are missing an important part of life.

  20. Pink Flamingo*

    Requesting ideas or experiences for exercise options that’ll guarantee endorphins? Minor foot injury, so running is out and I’m going a little stir crazy. (Ahem, cue consensual horizontal cha cha comments…but other ideas, please!).

    1. Chair cardio for the win*

      When I hurt my foot over the holidays, I did chair cardio with weights. Don’t let the chair part fool you. You’ll get a great workout! You can find some good workouts on YouTube.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      If you have access to a pool, deep water running. Good workout, no strain on joints, water forces you to go at a moderate pace.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        ooooo! I need to ask people at the y what I’m allowed to do in the pool ( I am a member)

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      I love rowing for this—machines or outdoor (although they’re very different techniques)…I get into the same rhythm as I used to do with skiing and skating. My neighbor uses swimming the same way—local pool.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      When I busted my knee a few years ago, I did what I called “floor dancing” when I need a home workout. Yoga mat on the living room floor, a good dance mix playing, some very light dumbbells, and I just… moved. Leg lifts, modified crunches, bird-dogs, whatever struck my fancy. It didn’t take me long to lose my inhibition and just kinda dance. But mostly down close to the floor.

      Lately it’s been hip issues and I’ve enjoyed deep water fitness at the community pool. So cool. You wear a floaty belt and do all kinds of fun stuff with noodles and things.

      Hope you find something fun and that your foot heals soon!

    5. beach read*

      I read something recently about laughter and endorphins and I have always believed laughter is the best medicine, so I recommend watching and reading some funny stuff. The Office:
      the one with Dwight setting the fire. Leave it to Beaver: the haircut episode and the billboard episode. Funny Photos on the Mandatory website.

    6. Pink Flamingo*

      Thank you everyone for the wonderful ideas! Chair weights was something I’d definitely not thought of, and I was reminded how much I like swimming outdoors on sunny days.

  21. The Prettiest Curse*

    Is there something that you were surprised to find out actually existed? The first time I visited America, I discovered that white picket fences were real. I’d never seen them while growing up in the UK and thought that they only existed in films and on TV!

    1. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Very excited to see tumbleweeds in Real Life. Just like in the movies, but cars on the highway were swerving to get out of the way!

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        YES! Ex and I had that same OMG, it’s a real tumbleweed, just like in the movies! reaction when we were driving through the southwest. I also remember flying into California for the first time and seeing all the palm trees, just like on TV!

      2. Tea and Sympathy*

        Same! Decades ago I was driving across western Kansas. It was so flat and tumbleweeds were blowing across the road, and, like you, I was excited to see they really existed and blew along just like in the movies. That Wild West atmosphere is the only explanation I can think of as to why I impulsively turned south when I saw a sign for DodgeCity. I think I must have been expecting the TV version with cowboys and shootouts, but after driving two hours I found a small town that looked like every other small town. There were just a couple of tourist type shops, and I wondered why they hadn’t capitalized on the name. It’s funny now, but at the time it was a disappointment and a waste of driving time.

      3. GiantKitty*

        When I finally saw fireflies IRL, I was very excited to realize that they look EXACTLY like the fake ones in Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

    2. Helvetica*

      Separate hot and cold water taps in the UK! I knew they had existed, I just didn’t think I would encounter them outside of old/historic buildings but I sure did. I will say, Tom Scott’s video about the why of it, has made me more amenable to them, though still perplexed by the mechanics of how one would actually wash their hands.

      1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        As someone who grew up with separate hot & cold taps, you wash your hands with the cold tap in summer and the hot tap in winter. This works because the hot water takes a while to heat up, so it’s warm towards the end of your handwash and only gets hot at the end. When someone comes in to wash their hands after you, you need to tell them that the hot water is actually hot.

      2. HBJ*

        We had them in the kitchen at a prior house. Most annoying thing ever. Go to rinse a dish and you have to turn on both taps every time and get the water to the right temp.

      3. Liz*

        I only recently found out other places didn’t have this.

        Re the mechanics, I don’t think it really makes much difference. I have all mixer taps in my house now, but still end up washing my hands in cold water most of the time because it takes so long for the hot to come through.

        My dad has separate taps in the bathroom, and a very good boiler. I use the hot tap to wash my hands, and then play at a race against time to wash the soap off before it becomes uncomfortable.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Blew my mind when I found out all y’all talking about your mental images were being literal. I went into my living room to my husband and housemates.

      Me: “so wait, if you close your eyes and try to picture a beach, you can actually see the beach?”
      Them: “… yes?”
      Me: “I need to sit down.”
      Them: “Wait, you can’t??”
      Me: “I see the pitch-black insides of my eyelids. I thought mental images were just a turn of phrase.”
      Them: “We need to sit down.”

      1. becky s.*

        I also can’t picture things. It’s real. I googled it last year and while I don’t remember how common it is, it’s not rare. I have trouble following someone’s verbal directions , I think because of this.
        I always recognize friends and family but can never picture them.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I can’t give directions much further than I can see. I know where everything is, but…since I can’t picture the streets, I can’t tell you which turn to take. Even when I worked retail, I would know where every item was but usually couldn’t tell people because…is that the first aisle or the second? Is it on the top shelf or the middle one? I’ll know by instinct but not off the top of my head. My usual response when a customer asked where something was, was “I’ll just show you” or sometimes “I’ll get it for you.”

          I also have some trouble with spelling because I can’t picture the words, so I have to learn them off. This confused people a lot when I was a child as I was reading 3/4 years above my chronological age and reading constantly and people were like “how can you not know how to spell these words when you are reading non-stop?” The question made no sense to me. Did they really think I stopped and learnt to spell every word I read?

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I do a lot by muscle memory — like if my husband asks from the kitchen where I put the funnel or whatever, I’ll literally pick up my hand and make like I’m reaching to get it out myself so I can tell him what I’m doing. It’s not in the third drawer down, it’s in the drawer about my knee-height, on the left hand side. Might be under the thingamajig, so look under that before you tell me it’s not there. Similarly I always park in about the same area of the parking lot at the stores I go to regularly (and if I can’t for some reason, I will 100% go there first before I remember that I parked somewhere else) and I ALWAYS go through the store in the same sequence, even if I’m only there for one thing.

          2. Sloanicota*

            I’m the WORST at giving directions, even if I know a route very well, because I probably don’t know the street names, or the names of anything really. My way of navigating is not at all helpful to other people.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I harbor unreasonable resentment toward people who paint a house I am using for navigation. How am I supposed to get to the physical therapist if the house where I should turn left is no longer bright yellow?

              1. Jackalope*

                Once I was in a town trying to find a place where I’d be working for about a month. I was going to be walking the same route to get to my work location a couple of times a day, and needed a landmark. The first thing I noticed was a billboard; a slightly dangerous landmark but they get changed rarely and I figured I’d use it for the first couple of days until something else started to stand out. Someone took the billboard down on day TWO. I was so annoyed by this; it was an otherwise generic intersection with either no street sign or a hard to find street sign, and it took awhile to find a different landmark.

            2. GiantKitty*

              I can draw a precise and detailed map of how to get to someplace that I could not give you verbal directions to LMAO

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep – my dad used to flip back and forth between clean-shaven and bearded like every three months when I was a kid and it was so hard to keep up with, like I didn’t recognize him half the time until he said something, and nobody could figure out why.

        3. Janet Pinkerton*

          It does help me understand how people could possibly sit with a sketch artist after they’ve witnessed a crime. They could ask me to sit with a sketch artist to draw my wife and I’d be like, uh, a woman? Her eyes are ____ and her hair is ____? I literally could not do it.

          1. RagingADHD*

            They don’t do it in one go. They start with a kind of generic face (woman, age, race) and show it to you, and you say “no, that’s not her, it’s too skinny, also her eyes are bigger, her nose is a little crooked,” and so on, over and over until it’s recognizable to you. That’s why those sketches always look so scribbly.

            It’s a lot easier to tell when something is wrong than to come up with a description all at once. I mean, I presume you could tell if a picture *didn’t* look like your wife.

            1. Irish Teacher*

              I could probably tell the picture didn’t look like the person, but I usually wouldn’t be able to tell you how, beyond maybe if the hair was the wrong colour or something like that. Otherwise it would just be something like “no, not like that. I dunno. I think maybe the eyes are wrong or no, maybe they just look wrong because of something with the nose…anyway, the eyes don’t look quite right. Maybe they’re the wrong colour. No, I don’t know what colour her eyes are. It might be that. Maybe they are just too small or maybe it’s just because it’s a drawing so it looks different.”

              I could maybe tell you a bit if it was my mother, but even then, I couldn’t tell you if a drawing of her nose were correct or how big her eyes are.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            haha, it somehow comes up about every six months that I have to ask my husband what color his eyes are because I have no idea. But yeah, I can tell you the whole ridiculous interaction I had with the terrible cashier at the grocery store today, all kinds of dumb things they said, but if you ask me what their name was or what they looked like, I’ll be like “… Uh, I’m pretty sure they had a face. Probably two eyeballs.”

          3. PoolLounger*

            Oh man, same! If I needed to describe my husband for a wanted poster I absolutely could not do it.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        Fellow aphantasic here. I once got in an embarrassing situation when people were talking about somebody naked and forgetting it’s not a metaphor, I said something about picturing it, meaning I was thinking about how people would react and so on and of course, everybody thought I meant I was picturing the person naked.

        This was actually after I found out it was literal but…having taken it to be a metaphor for “thinking about” for 30+ years, it was hard to change my usage.

        I meant “I’m just thinking about how people would react to somebody walking through a workplace naked,” but…that isn’t what most people mean by “I’m just picturing the situation.”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Oh, man, haha. I mostly didn’t bother to try to retrain the way I used the phrases about “picturing” and whatnot, under the notion that it had worked for 35 years and nobody realized, so I’d just keep rolling with it, but yeah, awkward!

      3. Turtle Dove*

        Me too! I often recall that mind-blowing discussion here. Unless I’m dreaming or in that haze nearly into dreaming, I can visualize *nothing* with picture-perfect clarity. I wish I could, but it’s a completely foreign concept.

        1. fposte*

          I feel like I’m not quite aphantasic but I definitely can’t get to picture-perfect clarity. I can work my way around the superficialities like hair and glasses, with somebody I know well, but bringing their actual face into mental view happens at best partially or for a brief moment and it’s gone. And it’s not just face blindness because the same thing happens with pets. Weirdly, I can recall faces better from a particular picture than from real life.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Faces are the one thing I can’t picture super well. I can definitely transport myself to a location or vividly picture an object, but even if I’ve met someone a few times, I only sort of have a general sense of their ‘type’ of person, but not their actual face. It’s terrible. Especially since I’m not great with names either!

            1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

              Me too — though strangely enough, I can sometimes picture a photograph that I’ve seen of a face. And if I can picture a face, it’s frozen in time, like a photograph.

      4. RagingADHD*

        Well, one “sees” a mental image and the inside of the eyelids at the same time. We’re just paying attention to the one and ignoring the other.

        And there’s a range, too. I can see mental images, but they’re so fuzzy and shifty that they aren’t good for describing anything. Like looking at things through a lava lamp.

        But one of my kids has such sharp mental memory & imagination that she can draw people or copy cartoons from memory with surprising accuracy. Now that she is old enough to have actual realistic drawing skills, it’s astonishing.

      5. Cacofonix*

        This blows my mind. I’m the opposite. When my husband and I were house hunting, I could picture every house we were interested in, especially the floor plan. I could mentally walk through the house afterwards and describe how we might make it work for us if we put in an offer. He didn’t believe me until I drew a picture and saw a couple of them again.

        I always thought everyone could mentally picture something, just the degree of clarity would be different. But not completely absent. Makes sense though. Some people have excellent eyesight, others poor, yet others…blind.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Yeah, I’m pretty similar to you. I have a very good visual memory for places, but not so great for faces. The differences between people’s minds are so fascinating.

      6. wireknitter*

        I “hear” people’s voices when I read their texts and emails. Their cadences and accents come through, even in quick texts, but are really strong in a longer email. I thought everyone did this until reading that thread here years ago.

      7. Clisby*

        OK, maybe I’ve been misunderstanding what people mean by mental images. If I close my eyes, I see nothing on the back of my eyelids. But I can picture all kinds of things, vividly, in my mind. They’re just not on my eyelids.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Dragon-blood trees, which look like a very early stab at designing a tree–very fae.

      Both from The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, which I recommended in the reading thread.

    5. Nicki Name*

      I grew up in the exurbs and was excited the first time I went to NYC as an adult and needed to hail cabs. You could just stick out your arm and one would pull over! Just like in the movies! Whoa!

      (This was in the 1990s, no idea if NYC is still that densely populated by cabs.)

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        Still possible, thank goodness, at least in Manhattan.

      2. Patty Mayonnaise*

        This is a good one! Sometimes I see people hailing a cab for the first time and having this moment of “Whoa!”

        1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

          I remember seeing a father with a pretty small daughter in his arms, maybe 2ish? He had her hail the cab.

    6. Double A*

      New York City. I mean obviously I know it’s real, but when I first went in my 20s it’s surreal to be in a place that is so familiar because you’ve seen it your whole life in books and movies.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I felt like that when I went to Paris. I mean, the Eiffel Tower was *right there*!

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I felt a bit like that when I saw certain banks in England like Barclays. Not that I ever doubted they were real, but…seeing them rather than just seeing ads for them, there was a kind of “woah, they’re actually real!”

        1. Jackalope*

          I inly recently learned that Wall Street is named because it’s located on a street named Wall. Who knew???

    7. Irish Teacher*

      Oh, when I was very little, royalty. I thought kings and queens were just made up for fairytales, the way witches and stuff were. This was when I was about 6 or so though.

      Later, prefects in schools having actual responsibility and being able to dole out punishments and stuff rather than just being what they called older students who volunteered to do jobs like helping in the canteen and stuff. And how common school houses seem to be in the UK and Australia. Like I believed they existed…in old-fashioned boarding schools.

    8. Anonymous cat*

      The first time I visited DC I was surprised to see signs pointing to places I knew from history class. “You mean that place still exists??”

      I also once heard of a British actor going to college in the US and being surprised people really did use red Solo cups for parties.

  22. Thanking a librarian*

    One of the children’s librarians at our local library went out of her way to do something kind for my toddler and I this week and I would like to thank her. I was thinking of giving her a thank you card with some drawings from my toddler since her specific act of kindness revolved around art, but is there something else I could do? Do people who aren’t his grandparents even want drawings from my toddler? Really all of the staff there are lovely and if there’s a way they could be recognized for their efforts and the ways they have helped my shy child blossom, I would love to do it.

    1. Lynn*

      This sounds lovely. In my experience who enjoy children (myself included) love to get a toddlers drawing for a thank you from them! Unlike a grandparent, they may or may not display it for a long time on a fridge, but it still says Thank You in a very sweet way.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Awwwww, that’s cute. Send the card with a drawing, and find a way to send something to the librarian’s boss!! Librarians are getting a lot of hate lately, so any public praise (if you’re comfortable with that) would be great.

    3. EdgarAllenCat*

      Speaking as a librarian, we love drawings from kids. It’s really sweet. We can share it/toot our horns to upper management with a tangible appreciation of our work.

    4. MaxKitty*

      Write a letter to the head of the library. It never hurts for management to hear a staff member is doing a great job. And maybe write a letter to the editor of the local paper commending the staff for wider recognition.

    5. Clara Bowe*

      If you can, send a note to the director or library board about how appreciative you are of that librarian’s act of service and how much you appreciate the library for providing a community space. It doesn’t have to be long, but it is a useful thing to have on file the next time there’s talk of defunding.

      (Which sounds terrible and mercenary, but oh my GOD, the budget justification meetings. Any notes of thanks make those a lot less frustrating.)

    6. Princess Peach*

      Yes! I don’t work with kids that young, but I’ve kept every single nice note or token of appreciation I’ve ever gotten from a patron. The gesture means a lot, and I’d imagine your children’s librarian would appreciate a drawing if the interaction centered on art.

    7. Children's Librarian*

      As a children’s librarian I can tell you with confidence that she will absolutely love your toddler’s art. I hang the art gifts I get from kiddos at my desk for at least a little while.

      Also seconding what everyone else says about telling her boss. Most libraries have some kind of comment card system–if you can name her in the comment card and turn that in, it means a lot. I LOVE it when my staff are called out by name in a comment card!

    8. OtterB*

      Maybe some drawings in a size that could be laminated as bookmarks. On the back you could write “Thanks for…” and the date.

      I also agree with suggestions to write a note to the head librarian.

  23. 2023, You are Not Nice*

    I got my Easter miracle on Tuesday: I bought a 2017 Kia Forte with only 55k miles. My Fit was rear-ended and totalled two months ago, but as hard as I tried to replace it, I just couldn’t. To summarize: I ended up with this car because the small dealership took pity on me and sold it for what I had. They lost money on this deal. Because of the awesome extra value, my credit union loan rates is 6.5. I’ve never had a loan rate this low. I also bought an extended warranty through the CU.

    This used car market is pure chaos. My loan was expiring last Thursday. The dealership tried for weeks to find a car at auction that fit my numbers but just couldn’t.

    I still mourn my beloved Fit, but new car has its charms. Very smooth ride, I like the steering wheel volume controls. And it’s new enough that I hopefully won’t need anything more than the oil change this morning.

    I’m still dealing with a lot of anxiety, I was scared to drive again. My recent MRI shows permanent neck damage, so my legal case progresses. We only have my uninsured motorist coverage for 25k to work with so maybe it won’t take a year to get thru.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Man, I feel you on that one. Congrats! I’m trying to buy a new-to-me used car right now and the market makes no sense at all. (Some of it just a scam: my trade-in is “essentially worthless” but the trade-ins on the lot are $17,000?). I really wish Carvana wasn’t in bankruptcy, because that would very much fit my profile of car-buying, but I’ve been warned repeatedly by trusted friends :(

      1. 2023, You are Not Nice*

        It’s beyond horrible. I’ve read used car prices are 35 percent higher than in 2019. 9k higher on average. One salesman told me cars under 15k are considered cash sales these days, as they are priced past what banks want to finance. Who can do that??

        I wish you the best of luck finding something. I also looked at Facebook and Craigslist but most of what I found were wanna be dealers (who I’m sure have no business license).

    2. WellRed*

      Oh man. I have to start looking in earnest this week as my car didn’t pass inspection and isn’t running great. Not looking forward to it. Or a car payment. My car is so worthless I doubt I’ll get any trade in value, maybe a pity payment.

      1. 2023, You are Not Nice*

        Your trade in should bring more than you think. My wrecked Fit brought 6k from the other driver’s insurance company. 08, 178 k miles. I paid 8k 7 years prior to that day.

    3. RagingADHD*

      Last summer there was a lot of talk that the car market was going to ease up, and there was a brief blip in like, October, when a few things got marked down by a couple thousand. But now it’s worse than ever.

      We bought a 2015 Kia off craigslist during that blip. It is one half-step up from a complete beater, and we just got a form letter from the local dealership that they want to buy it off us. Insane.

      1. 2023, You Are Not Nice*

        I’ve read multiple articles on the market. Just so many different, sometimes competing, factors that are conspiring to keep prices high and inventory low.

  24. sagewhiz*

    Last weekend in response to the query about cleaning mold from tile grout/caulk, someone suggested Ka-Boom. All I can say is “Wowza!”

    All attempts, over the past couple of years, to clean the grout between the lower two rows and seams of my fully tiled walk-in shower had been for naught. A few months ago I tried CLR Mold and Mildew Remover and it was as useless as everything else. I figured may as well give this Ka-Boom stuff a go.

    My shower is now as sparkly as new!!! You’re supposed to wipe the spray-on goo off but, being lazy, I just rinsed it down with the hand-held shower head. I left the goo on about 20 min. before rinsing, and I did it two days in a row to get all the gunk cleaned. Be sure to have the shower fan on or a window open because the fumes do get strong.

    Apparently Ka-Boom has been rebranded, now Oxy-Clean + Bleach Mold & Mildew. Home Depot does not carry it, Lowe’s does. BEST $4.87 investment I’ve ever made! Thank you!

    1. irene adler*

      I’m glad you posted this! Thank you!
      This mildewy grout thing in the shower is something I’m battling myself. Now I have something I can try. Yea!

    2. WellRed*

      Oh my god! I came here to post this as well. My kaboom arrived yesterday and my tub looks like I regrouped it. Thank you to the recommendation!

    3. Doctor is In*

      Anyone know if it will clean dirty grout? Not mold just dirt. Have tried everything.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Any thoughts on if this would work on a kitchen backsplash where the grout has cooking oil stains?

    5. Squeakrad*

      I think this has the same ingredients as Tilex plus bleach. We have found this too toxic even if we wear masks and leave the room. But I looked at another site that suggested just let using Oxiclean max force and that works great.

    6. River*

      Good to know!! I’ve been searching for something lately but the last product I purchased didn’t do that well of a job. Kudos to your post. <3

  25. Mice trouble*

    There’s been mice in our camper van, there’s droppings inside the kitchen drawer and on dish towels, etc. What do I do for cleaning? Scald the kitchen things and throw cloth in washer at 60 degrees C? Or something stronger?

    1. fposte*

      The CDC has a good guide that I’ll link to, but basically bleach solution for everything that can take that and launder and dry on high heat the other stuff. Use gloves (wash them before removing or do the surgical peel if they’re disposable), and it wouldn’t hurt to put on a face mask while you’re cleaning. All the disposable dirty stuff should go into a plastic bag that’s knotted closed before put into the garbage.

      Your use of C suggests you’re not in the US, but Europe and Asia have an endemic hantavirus strain as well.

    2. KatEnigma*

      BTDT. Use bleach solution to wipe out the cabinets/drawers too. I had to start emptying everything as part of the winterizing. It was easier to store things in the basement than have to sanitize everything each spring.

  26. Sharkbait*

    Are there any YouTubers or Instagram pages on exercises for the elderly? My grandmother is in her late 80s and I would like to do some gentle exercises / stretching with her for fun and health. The workout I normally do is obviously not appropriate for her!

    1. Vanessa*

      I don’t have a specific video but look for chair yoga on YouTube. Lots of options. They should offer modifications for needs (like do this instead for shoulder injuries).
      Also what a nice thing to do together. Have fun!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Chair ballet (also called seated ballet) is a similar concept. The English National Ballet has a few classes on their YouTube channel that are designed for seniors.

    2. A Girl Named Fred*

      My mom tried something called Bloom Young a while back – not sure if they actually have a YouTube page, but if I remember right they marketed themselves specifically to older folks, beginners, and others who need low-impact movement. Might be worth checking into!

    3. I Miss Reading*

      You would try “walk at home” videos. I just looked them up on YouTube to see if there were any walk at home videos geared toward seniors, and a channel called “yes2next” has a whole bunch of exercise videos for seniors. The channel creator does the workouts with her 82 year old mother.

    4. Christmas Carol*

      There is a long running series called Sit and Be Fit on PBS, and if you Google it, I’m sure you can get to it on the interwebs too.

    5. Another_scientist*

      There is a delightful channel on YouTube called bob and brad the two most famous physical therapists on the internet!

    6. Forrest Rhodes*

      Joe the Body Coach has a whole series of gentle exercises and stretches, both seated and standing, for older folk. All are on youtube, and the ones I’ve seen are set up as 10-minute sessions—easy and surprisingly effective!

    7. Lcsa99*

      Look for Paul Eugene. He’s on YouTube and Amazon. he is in his 60s and does low impact exercises for seniors. I ambnot a senior, but very low energy and can’t do much but I’ve been able to do his videos easily. Make sure you pick the more recent ones, as his older videos can be a little harder. He also offers videos with just sitting stretches if she cant stand for long periods, or marching if she just wants to get her steps count up. He has been great for me!

  27. Faith in Comments Restored*

    Did anyone watch FBI: Most Wanted last week? An HR professional named “Allison Greene” was kidnapped. Am I the only one who noticed this?

    1. Helvetica*

      I did!! And two days ago a comedian called Julie Nolke released her latest sketch on Youtube (“Desperately need to gossip”) where one of the characters was also called Alison Green!
      I am dying to know if they were both inspired by/readers of this blog or it was just a funny coincidence.

      1. EngineerResearcher*

        I do wonder how often people get a name stuck in their heads without realizing it! I had a first and last name I thought I made up and would often use with a common email suffix when I didn’t want to give out my real email to get on wifi or something. Turns out that was a minor celebrity I forgot existed, and if they own that email, they probably got some weird spam!

        1. Tiny clay insects*

          I once was writing a novel and was really pleased with the name I came up with for my main character. Then one day I looked at the toilet paper dispenser in a public restroom and realized where I’d come up with Kimberly Clark.

  28. Packing the Suitcase*

    Two questions! 1. We will be travelling out of the country and have Android phones. It’s been 5 years since we’ve been out of the country! How do we dial the country we’re in? (I’ve read confusing/conflicting info…but it seems like we need to do the + then country then # just as if we were calling from the US; we have Google Fi.) 2. Any recs for what to do in Panama City, Panama in our free time? Tell me about getting taxis there.

    1. Still*

      Yep, if you dial with +country code it should work from anywhere in the world, regardless of whether you’re in or out of that country, and the country your provider is in.

    2. tab*

      I just spent a few days in Panama City last month. It’s an impressive city! NY Times recently posted an article on 36 hours in Panama City. You should check that out. You can tour the old town, and definitely go see the canal. One day we took a bus tour over to Colon to see the Pacific locks and tour Fort San Lorenzo. The food is delicious with plenty of fresh fish and seafood.

    3. Tiny clay insects*

      Google Fi makes it so easy! I traveled all over Europe last summer and never had any issues. And yes, plus sign then country code will work wherever. Note that sometimes when you read a phone number there will be a leading zero (after the country code but before anything else) you might need to drop.

  29. Not A Manager*

    How do you-all watch your shows? I’m moving into my own place, and for the past, oh, 15 years I just haven’t watched any TV or movies at home. My ex was the media guy and for some reason I just fell into reading and websites instead of TV.

    Back when I did watch TV, I found the cable setup to be challenging, especially as my kids were always setting the TV for their game devices and then I couldn’t figure out how to get the TV back. It’s one reason I just stopped watching TV.

    So now, I want the very simplest media option I can get. I need to set up internet for my apartment, but people tell me that I don’t need cable, I can stream or download in a variety of ways that I don’t really understand. I have a legacy TV and a legacy Apple TV box (left by the ex).

    If anyone wants to walk me through this like I was five, I would appreciate it, but even if you don’t want to do that, maybe just tell me what you do yourself to watch your shows, and then I can google to try understand it.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      As long as your Apple TV box connects to your TV, you can use it for a lot of streaming services. Off the top of my head, I know there are streaming options available on the Apple TV for Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Paramount+, HBO Plus, PBS, Discovery, Curiosity Stream, Youtube and Youtube TV, Peacock.

    2. Sloanicota*

      So, this is just me – and TBH my friends are pretty horrified – but I also don’t watch a ton of TV and often I just want some “background noise” and I have a digital antenna only. It works great! I get the basic channels, and it’s totally free, and at least in my area there are some decent public channels (comet, H&I, MeTV, ion) that show a lot of nineties reruns, which are really kind of my jam anyway. The downside is I have never seen any of the latest “prestige TV” everyone’s talking about. But my sense is that the market is so fractured now that unless you want to subscribe to multiple streaming services, that’s going to happen anyway.

    3. fposte*

      I have a TV but almost never use it. I watch on the laptop in the living room and the iPad in the bedroom. They take up a bigger amount of my field of vision and are more convenient.

    4. CTT*

      I watch everything through my FireStick that plugs into one of the HDMI ports and then the streaming services are apps on that. It’s really easy to set up, but I’ve used my friend’s Roku and it’s very similar. I’m not an Apple gal and every time I visit a friend with an Apple TV I am mystified by the remote.

      I am also very lucky that my cable company is trying to move away from the old-school cable boxes and I get my cable through the FireStick too – it’s an app like Netflix and Hulu. So the only wires I have are the power cable for the TV and the FireStick. It’s great!

      Regarding whether or not you need cable, are you someone who really likes sports or other live events? That is one of the big reasons to still have cable/network TV, because a lot of those rights are owned by broadcast companies and not put on streaming, at least not live. You could always start without it and then look into the options if you feel like you’re really missing something.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Roku with a highspeed internet connection. Our cheapest high speed internet is through the cable company, but we don’t have cable tv.

    6. I Miss Reading*

      I have a Roku and subscribe to a single streaming service at a time. I only watch one episode of a TV show each night (two if it’s a short show), so I don’t watch much. I might use Netflix for a few months until I finish whatever shows I want to watch, then move to Paramount Plus for a while, etc. Once in a while I rent a movie off of RedBox.

    7. Another_scientist*

      basically, you need to get an internet connection for your apartment, which usually comes with a WiFi setup these days. Then you’ll need to tell the apple TV box the WiFi password or hook it up directly with a cable. Most streaming services these days work via a monthly subscription fee(not such a different concept from cable, but cheaper and easier to cancel), so the box also needs to know your account info for whichever service you are subscribed to. If you just want to give it a try, you can ask your kids to share their plan with you for a few months.

    8. Clisby*

      We don’t have a TV (haven’t had one in more than 25 years). We subscribe to Amazon Prime and Acorn TV, which have most of what we want. Prime will let you temporarily add some channels, so, for example, we added HBO long enough to watch the last season of Game of Thrones and then canceled it. If it’s not a current show, we’ll often just get DVDs from the library. We simply don’t watch much TV.

    9. WorkNowPaintLater*

      If you live in town (or within 50 miles of one) get an antenna. We live in a rural area and still pick up about 15 channels – a lot of transmitters now put out more than one channel.

      You may be able to stream through the legacy Apple box (depending on its age) but if you can afford it you may want to look at getting a Roku. They sell devices at all sort of price points and are fairly easy to set up if you have wifi. Roku itself has a fairly decent streaming service (Roku Channel), and just about all the others have an app on there. If you’re looking for background noise, both Hulu and Netflix have lots of older series (Hulu does offer cheaper options for subscribing).

    10. WellRed*

      Do yourself a favor and get a new smart tv that will have streaming options but you can also add cable, a Roku or fire stick device if you want. Most are fairly easy to set up these days. My Vizio had great customer support when I had questions.

      1. I'm Done*

        Second that recommendation. You don’t sound very technology savvy, so really the easiest option would be to get a smart TV. They cost almost nothing nowadays and have a lot of the apps already set up so that you can just turn on your TV and either subscribe to pay for apps, or use free apps such as Freevee or YouTube that let you watch TV shows for free. It’s pretty self explanatory once you turn on your TV. I pay for Amazon Prime and also Acorn and Britbox which comes to about $25/mth, plus my WiFi which is another $50/mth.

    11. BreakingDishes*

      I watch shows and movies on Amazon Prime using my cell phone. Finally realized we didn’t need cable TV at all, just cable internet/WiFi

  30. Moving to Ireland*

    Looking for advice from folks who live (or have lived) in Ireland: I’m moving there with my spouse and our kid and we have complete flexibility where to live. We’d like to be near a city but in an area with a feeling of nature (in a city could be okay if there’s quick access to nature), walkable with shops and restaurants (we’re going to try not to buy a car), good primary schools, and ideally some diversity (whatever that means for Ireland). Where would you suggest?

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Really, once you go outside Dublin, you’re not going to be too far from nature. From what you say though, a town might be the best. Even the smaller cities like Cork, Limerick and Galway aren’t far from the countryside but without a car, you’d probably either be at the edge of the city, in walking distance of the countryside, but possibly a bus journey from the main shops or if you were nearer the city centre, you’d probably be a bit of a journey from nature. Though honestly, in Limerick, it’s ten minutes by bus from the centre to the edge of the city and near open countryside.

      All of West Cork is very rural and extremely pretty and most would have busses to the city. Parts of East Cork, such as Cobh, have a railway that runs to the city and is again extremely pretty. There are also lovely rural towns around Limerick. Charleville is rural enough and Buttevant is tiny but on a bus route to both Cork and Limerick (although it’s close to an hour from each, well, 45 minutes, which may be further than you would like). Just checked and Adare (a little town in Limerick, which I don’t know personally but is meant to be really pretty) has buses every hour to the city and only a 25 minute journey. Croom is about half an hour by bus.

      I am giving examples from Cork and Limerick as I don’t really know Galway (or Waterford) too well, but there are definitely nice rural areas near those cities too. And if you look around Kildare and Meath, you’ll find fairly rural areas fairly close to Dublin, but…those are generally fairly big towns and expanding, so that may not be what you want.

      There are good primary schools everywhere. All schools are funded centrally, so there is no such thing as some schools getting better funding than others (well, schools that are designated disadvantaged get extra funding but that is to combat inequality, so it’s not like they are getting an advantage) and all teachers have the same training. Private primary schools are extremely rare and anyway, are generally subject to most of the same rules as non-fee-paying ones.

      You are also likely to find diversity everywhere, certainly anywhere in shouting distance of a large city. Ireland has had a lot of immigration in the past 20 years (we had virtually no diversity before that) so most areas are likely to have people from many different countries living there. What you might find different here to what you are used to is that most are likely to be fairly recent immigrants, so for example, there does tend to still be an emphasis on Christian holidays like Christmas and there are still many roles where nearly everybody is white Irish. Teaching is definitely one of those, especially primary teaching as a very high knowledge of the Irish language is a requirement.

      1. Moving to Ireland*

        Wow, thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to give such a thoughtful response!

      2. Blackcat*

        I was a visiting scholar at the university of Limerick for a few weeks and OMG it’s so fast to go between “city” and rural. The university felt like a rural land grant Uni in the US, but was such a short bus ride from the center of the city. Buses were great, but I also don’t regret renting a car to get around and do tourist things outside of the city.

        It was really lovely. But lots and lots of rain. If rain is a dealbreaker, east coast is likely better.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      No suggestions, but omg that’s so cool! I haven’t been yet — my cousin lives there. Good luck with your move!

    3. Umbrella at hand*

      I haven’t lived there, but before you pick a place, look carefully at the rainfall amounts and consider that. I have a fried who just moved to continental Europe to Cork, and the rain was shocking to him. I think the east side of Ireland gets half the rain of the west.

      1. Moving to Ireland*

        This is something I hadn’t thought about but definitely a good tip that I need to give due consideration since less rain is definitely more for me.

    4. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

      I’m curious about why you are moving there and how that might dictate where you go. Have you ever visited? Do you know anyone there? Are there any visa requirements that might have a bearing on your choice? Or a particular job or type of job you will be moving for or hope to get once there?

      1. Moving to Ireland*

        Good question! Lots of reasons, but the main ones are to have an adventure and to get out of the United States — this will always be home for me but it’s so fractured and I have a young child to raise. My partner is an Irish citizen so we want to take advantage of the fact that we have a choice and also take the opportunity to secure a second passport for me. Who knows, I may actually need it one day. I hope not but it’s always good to have options. We both work professional jobs, nothing related to critical skills, but my spouse is in tech and data science so hopefully can find some thing when we’re ready to start looking — but frankly we’re both ready to take a break and have decided to take at least a year off to relax and get to know Ireland at our leisure. I’ve only been to Ireland once, and my spouse has been several times but no longer has relatives there, maybe a couple distant ones. (Was born to Irish parents but raised outside Ireland.) It’s a big step but we’re excited for it.

    5. Blah blah blah*

      Hello, I am a non-driving nature-appreciating Irish person!

      I think that you might be better off in a city, suburb or town because rural roads are often not very pedestrian-friendly. Think, 80km/h speed limit and no footpath. Even if it’s a short walk to the shops (etc) it’s likely to be a not-great walking experience. So either a part of a city well-chosen for access to green space (totally do-able!) or a town. A couple of possibilities that might work for you –

      1. One of the coastal towns north of Dublin. If you look at the northern commuter train line, mostly anywhere along there will get you some mix of shops/restaurants/schools (depending, of course, on the size of the town), beaches and coastal nature, parkland and/or woodland, and basic countryside (not untamed glorious wilderness. Dairy farms and cabbage fields). Plus regular trains into the city. You would be able to do all your day-to-day shops/schools/restaurants business on foot.

      2. Somewhere along the Royal Canal between Dublin and Maynooth. Pretty similar to option 1, except that instead of the coast, you have the canal Greenway.

      3. A part of Dublin – city or suburb – with decent amounts of green space. Somewhere like the Phoenix Park, Killiney Hill, Marlay Park, St. Anne’s Park, Howth Head, Bray Head (technically not in Dublin, but nearby). Those are all pretty well served by public transport.

      I bet there are similar options away from the East coast too, but I’m less familiar with them.

  31. Still*

    I seem to recall there was a thread about resources for learning to knit on one of the open threads a while ago, but I can’t seem to be able to find it. Does anyone happen to have a link to it? I would love to learn to do something with my hands. I think I’ve done a tiny bit of knitting in the past but that was years ago so I am starting from scratch.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I find that everybody has a different preference on learning crafts, and can react strongly to different teaching styles. Best recommendation is to just search “learn to knit” on YouTube, and try some out, because the instructor that one person finds easy to follow wouldn’t ne a good fit for someone else.

    2. Lifelong student*

      The Crochet Crowd website has lots of learning videos. While most of them are crochet- there are knitting ones as well. The host, Mikey, recently added knitting to his skills. I think there may be another web site called The Knitting crowd. He is a wonderful teacher and has lots of videos.
      There are YouTube videos as well from many other places.
      Personally, I find crochet easier to learn and to correct if errors are made although I can knit- just don’t do it often.

    3. HamlindigoBlue*

      The Very Pink Knits channel on YouTube is a good basic and intermediate resource (she also has a blog). Also, the Chilly Dog channel on YouTube is one I reference often for new techniques. Roxanne Richardson and Suzanne Bryan each have really good channels as well. All of these are specifically for knitting.

    4. Past Lurker*

      I second Very Pink Knits and also recommend Studio Knit (with Kristen) and Expression Fiber Arts (with Chandi)

  32. I Miss Reading*

    Any tips on reading even when you’re tired or stressed out?

    I’ve read one or more books a week since I was a kid, but my toxic job has caused health problems that leave me exhausted and unable to concentrate, and I find it hard to read books now. I used to read during my lunch hour at work and for a few hours before going to bed, but I find that I’m too stressed out and tired to concentrate on reading anymore. I end up browsing the internet on my phone instead. I find reading to be entertaining, relaxing, and it feels productive. Endlessly scrolling on Reddit or other websites just passes time without making me feel good in any way, and it strains my eyes and fingers.

    It’s been pretty horrible for me because I don’t have energy for any of my other hobbies anymore either. It feels like I never get a “break” or do anything to relax. Reading would be the easiest way to relax right now if I could do it. It’s hard even to find time to read on the weekend, because I’m dreading going back to work and putting my energy into getting chores and errands done.

    Has anyone who is normally a reader found a way to keep reading even when life is being very difficult?

    1. Liminality*

      I have migrated to audio books. I hope to, one day, return to the written page but for right now I bless the creators of the public library’s digital collection. I access it with the libbyapp.com website, they have an actual app too if you’re into that sort of thing.
      I stick to the audio books there, but, if you want to try branching out to print they have many e-books as well.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        I’ve been doing audio books for year! Lets me walk my 10-15k steps a day, do chores I hate (like cleaning and organizing) but that help me with my stress, anxiety, and depression (living in a messy place brings me further down).

        When I want to really slow down I read hardcover books from the library—and that keeps me off the phone and scrolling hell. A cups herbal tea, a spot of sunlight to sit in, and a blankee and I’m set to get lost in the story.

    2. MissCoco*

      I find I have to scale back the reading level when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. I reach for the comfort books of my teen years and childhood, or new books for a YA audience. I also find it helpful to make reading a bit of a production. I light a candle, make a cup of tea, and snuggle up to read, or head to a coffee shop or library. I find myself just back in the scrolling loop if I don’t make a point of prepping to read. Once I make a habit of reading time for a few weeks, it starts getting easier to slip it into my schedule during a few minutes of downtime, and I can get back to my usual books.

    3. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      When I am sick or stressed, if I can read at all, light, short reading works best. I don’t have to feel like I’m using a lot of mental energy keeping up with a million plot points or characters. P.G. Wodehouse short stories? Mystery short stories? Something you’ve read before and know well so it doesn’t use up too much of your mental load?

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        I also like multi-tasking — I love reading while soaking in the tub! And not to get too yucky, but if there’s something I’ve been having trouble getting myself to read or keep reading but I still want to finish it, I’ll stick it by the toilet. Short bursts of reading work too!

    4. Excuse Me, Is This Username Taken?*

      The thing that helped me the most was reading what sounded good at the moment, not what I felt like I “should” read. That might mean having a couple books going at the same time and switching back and forth depending on what I’m up for that day. Also, having a very small reading goal for the day (like, one chapter, or 50 pages, or something like that) helps me feel like I’m making progress and encourages me to keep going.

    5. Annie Edison*

      I got into romance novels for exactly this reason! I needed something light and safe and happy because my brain couldn’t handle much more.

      I mostly read contempory romance because they tend to be diverse and less… “Damsel in distress swoons and is carried off by big strong man”-ish, if you know what I mean?

      Some favs if you want to give it a try – Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series, the Bromance Book Club (pro athletes form a secret book club reading romance novels to better themselves and their relationships), Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail, anything by Emily Henry but especially Book Lovers and Beach Read

    6. Squidhead*

      I re-read familiar comforting things. Terry Pratchett’s witch books are my most-frequent choices, but also Fried Green Tomatoes or older Jeanette Winterson or The Hobbit. I don’t have to focus too much on plot (and there won’t be any major surprises or unexpected disappointments), and I can just enjoy the rhythm of the language. Obviously, my choice of “comfort book” may not match yours!

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        I do the same when I am stressed out. For some reason, my go to books are Murderbot series by Martha Wells and the Ancillary Justice series by Ann Leckie

      2. SarahKay*

        I’m the same with comforting re-reads. Basically the more stressed I am, the easier / lighter my reading matter becomes. At one point in 2020 I’d gone all the way back to Enid Blyton school stories that I last read when I was about nine.
        (Side note: I think they were written in the early fifties, so food rationing in the UK would only just have finished; as a result tinned pineapple featured heavily as an extremely desirable treat.)
        I also make sure not to give myself a hard time over reading such light stuff; when I’m less stressed my reading automatically becomes less light. In fact my reading trend is often a good barometer of what my mood is doing.

    7. Other Meredith*

      When I’m really struggling with reading, I rely on audiobooks. That way, I can listen to a book even while I’m doing chores or running errands. I also love to listen to an audiobook while out walking my dog, but when I didn’t have a pet, it was still great to listen while out walking.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Short story collections (and books with highly episodic chapters).

      Also, I find that the more stressful and emotionally exhausting life is, the better it is to read fluffy escapism rather than anything dramatic, challenging, or that hits you in the feels.

    9. the cat's ass*

      In times of trouble, i re-read! Or trashy novels, mysteries, nothing too demanding. And sometimes i can’t even get through much of that. It’s okay. That reading muscle WILL snap back!

    10. Happily Retired*

      Anything by Madeleine L’Engle. I guess they’re characterized as YA these days. Maybe the three books in the “Arm of the Starfish” lineage, although all are wonderful in their own ways.

    11. AGD*

      Oh, I commiserate! This is the reason why I read a lot of kids’ books and graphic novels.

    12. Fellow Traveller*

      I second choosing engaging books to read. For me, that’s romance and YA novels.
      But also- I’ve moved apps that I find draining off my home screen, including text messages, safari, and feedly, and put them in folder so they are harder to access. Instead, I have things on my home screen that I find don’t drain me- Libby, Hoopla, duolingo….
      I also try to have a hard copy of a book nearby at all times so that when I sit down to relax, it makes it easier to reach for it.
      I still scroll more than I like, but the combination of making scrolling harder and making reading easier has helped me read more.

    13. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      If you wear glasses, they may need updating, and if you don’t – you might have reached reading glasses time!
      Lots of adults gradually stop reading because it is harder to concentrate, and are pleasantly surprised to find a better focus makes a big difference in reading comfort- having assumed it was stress/boredom etc rather than just a mechanical thing of needing glasses.
      You can have both of course- needing glasses and being tired/ stressed etc!
      I hope that audio books will engage you and that your reading pleasure will return.

    14. Emily Elizabeth*

      After being staunchly uptight about only reading paper books for ages, I finally downloaded my library’s Libby app and find I read SO much more with the Kindle app on my phone than I did before. For me it makes reading convenient in the same way Reddit or social media is, where I can read just a few pages anytime, either in line at the grocery store or when I’m already on the couch and don’t want to get up and go get my actual book. I also second what other say about reading simply for pleasure and no other goals. I think there’s a lot of value in reading informative, historical, diverse, etc books, but by thinking there were books I was “supposed” to be reading I didn’t end up reading much at all. Reading books I genuinely want that are low stakes, or things like YA or fantasy, makes it much more enjoyable!

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I had the same experience with getting myself to download Libby. It’s great!

        I always wake up earlier than I’d like to, and having Libby means that, instead of tossing and turning in bed for another two hours, I can pull up an ebook on Libby on my phone (no separate Kindle app needed, which I love). I’ve read so much over the past 3 years, and sometimes those morning reading spells were the only moments of my day when the stress subsided.

    15. Vanessa*

      Spotify has music to read by. It’s a little soothing and for me it helps in focusing.

      1. Rrach*

        Was coming to recommend soothing background music too.
        I have the same issue, and it’s painful as I love to read too. What has worked for me is – picking books that I am really keen to start reading, then getting my environment as comfortable as possible and telling myself this is what I am going to do for the next X mins or so. As silly as it may sound I ask myself – what else, what else? Until I am so comfortable and have everything I need. So – sat in a comfy chair, relaxing music in the background, with a blanket, a large cup of tea, nice light on. With my phone well away from me. Then I feel I can ‘settle’ into reading. It’s also taken a while to build back up to reading for a sustained time – but I am getting there, and it’s a wonderful feeling! I hope that works for you.

    16. Jackalope*

      So in addition to other ideas (rereading, going for fluffy stuff, etc.), I’ve found it helpful to have a mindless hobby that doesn’t drag me down like doom scrolling. For example, I’ve started playing video games a lot more since the pandemic started. It helps draw me off of internet scrolling, and then I find it easier to transition to a book (for example, gaming for an hour and then reading for an hour before I go to bed). I don’t know if that will help, but it’s worked for me. I’ve also noticed that I go through phases where I want to read a lot and phases where I don’t want to as much; I try to honor that and read a lot during those weeks and not get angry at myself the other weeks, which helps make reading feel more like fun again and less like something I have to do.

      Last, if I find myself avoiding reading, sometimes switching up the book will help. Even if what I’m reading is something I *want* to read, if it’s not what I can handle right then I’m going to put it off. This can be where fluffy reading comes in, although sometimes it’s just switching to a different subject or genre.

    17. allathian*

      The only time in my life so far that I’ve completely quit reading for pleasure was when I was working on my master’s thesis. Somehow I managed to find the time and energy to read even when our son was a baby, even if it was no more than 10 minutes before bed sometimes.

      But during the worst of the pandemic I just stuck to reading old favorites that didn’t take up too much of my brain capacity. I read the Anne Shirley books, my Agatha Christie collection, and lots of mainly non-Pern Anne McCaffrey (the Talent books are my favorites of hers), Dick Francis…

    18. Any old username*

      If there’s a series you really liked reading maybe try it as audiobook – and only listen when you go for a walk. I love the In Death series by J D Robb as it’s on an app I subscribe to and I only listen to it when I go for a walk. I’ve tried listening to it at night but I either fall asleep or freak myself out when I wake up and someone is talking to me in my bedroom – particularly creepy as I live alone. Also why I struggle listening to the sleep stories on Calm app lol.

    19. MeepMeep123*

      I’m struggling with that myself, and I find that light and easy reads are the best way to go (I’m re-reading Christopher Moore right now, and his books are absolutely perfect for the hard time I’m going through).

      Also, I found that a “detox” from social media / Internet can really help. I did a couple of one-month detoxes when the only thing I allowed myself to read was just one book, and nothing else (the first time was the Bible, the second time was Don Quixote). In each case, I came out of the detox month feeling like I’d just taken a vacation – it really reduced my stress levels.

  33. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I’m discovering I really enjoy K-dramas, but don’t really know a whole lot about them. Does anyone have recommendations? I just finished The Glory and was THAT a wild ride!

    1. GoryDetails*

      I enjoyed “The Guest,” a kind of cop-show/possession-horror series with an excellent cast.

    2. LNLN*

      I am a total K-drama fan! I watch shows exclusively on Netflix. Here are some I have loved:

      Memories of the Alhambra
      Stranger (season 1)
      Chief of Staff
      The King: Eternal Monarch
      Live Up to Your Name
      Love, Marriage and Divorce
      Move to Heaven
      Crash Landing on You
      The Sound of Magic
      Inspector Koo
      Hospital Playlist
      One Spring Night
      Something in the Rain
      Search WWW

      I have a wide range of tastes. The listed shows include soap operas, comedies, sci-fi, thrillers, time travel, action and romance. The 16-episode season (common to K-dramas) is perfect for my attention span. Hope this list helps!

    3. The Prettiest Curse*

      I recently watched Monstrous, which is about what happens when the most reckless mayor since the one in Jaws excavates a Buddha statue possessed by an evil spirit and tries to put it on display as a tourist attraction. (Spoiler alert: things go sideways fast.) It’s pretty solidly entertaining and features a monastery full of Buddhist monks (including the monk version of Mulder from the X-Files) who deserve their own spin-off.

    4. rr*

      Well, it depends on what kind of things you like, of course and, to a lesser extent, what you can get/are willing to pay for. I have been watching for 3 or 4 years now (maybe more?) so I have a large list of recommendations. You might want to check out dramabeans.com (I hope this is ok to post here). You can see recaps of (some) current shows, past shows, participate in discussions, etc. I’m not really active, but it is a resource, and there are other blogs out there too if you look around. I used it to refresh my memory for the list below. Also, if you’re familiar with Viki, they have a bunch of old/new shows on there, though what you can get depends on if you’re willing to pay or not (I’m not). Amazon has stuff too, though it seems like less and less…

      Currently watching (Netflix): Divorce Attorney Shin. Not bad, but not on my list of great shows.

      Recently watched (Netflix): Crash Course in Romance. Meh.

      Couldn’t finish watching because of pain of subject matter, but seemed really good/great: It’s Ok Not To Be Ok, On the Verge of Insanity, Little Women

      Legendary and/or Older (various opinions, but certainly worth checking out): City Hunter, Crash Landing on You, Air City, Alice in Cheongdam-dong, All In, Attic Cat, Baby Faced Beauty, Boys Before Flowers, Heirs, Brilliant Legacy, Cheese in the Trap, City Hall, Coffee Prince, Delightful Girl Chun-hyang, Descended From the Sun , Faith, Falling for Innocence, Fated to Love You (there are multiple versions of this out there – including a Japanese version, that I believe is the original), Full House (again, more than one version out there), Gourmet, I Hear Your Voice, Pasta, Kill Me, Heal Me, King of Dramas, Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, My Girl, Mary Stayed Out All Night (I think the consensus is this is horrible, but still famous), Master’s Sun, Memories of the Alhambra , Doctors, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (different versions of this, including movies), My Name Is Kim Sam-soon, My Love Patzzi, My Princess, My Sassy Girl, My Sweet Seoul, Personal Taste, Pinocchio, Playful Kiss (I didn’t like this, but there are worse versions), Rooftop Prince, Scent of a Woman, Secret Garden, She Was Pretty, My Love From Another Star, Goblin, Queen In-hyun’s Man, Splish Splash Love, Sungkyunkwan Scandal, The King 2 Hearts, The Moon That Embraces the Sun, The Princess’s Man, The Producers, To the Beautiful You, You are Beautiful, You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin (this last one isn’t good, I couldn’t finish, but it is famous – maybe just too long).

      Ok, but not great: Shooting Stars, Business Proposal, Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha, Black Dog, Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim (2 of these, I only watched the 1st), Chocolate, Her Private Life, Bring it on Ghost, Dating Agency Cyrano, Emergency Couple (ok, this isn’t good, but it was one of the earliest shows I watched, so that’s why it is on the list), Fantastic, It’s Ok, It’s Love, Jugglers, My Secret Romance (cute then terrible, as are so many), Panda and Hedgehog (ok, this is bad, but it features baking!), Prime Minister and I , Sweet 18

      Cute and/or worth watching (again, depending on your tastes): School (this has several different year versions- I can’t remember the ones I liked, sorry, but I didn’t like all of them), Hospital Playlist (this has 2 seasons- they aren’t really seasons mostly, but I only watched the original), 1% of Anything (this was also a movie/older Kdrama? I may have watched the original, but can’t remember – the new one isn’t bad though), Because this Life is Our First, Bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, Biscuit Teacher Star Candy, Drinking Solo, Ex-Girlfriend Club, Gogh’s Starry Night , Goong (this is sort of a series, but the original is the best – after that, meh), Heart to Heart, Idol, Jealousy Incarnate, Marriage Contract, Marriage Not Dating, Mask, Oh My Ghostess, Plus Nine Boys, Radio Romance, The Liar and His Lover (movie is a lot better), Will You Have Dinner With Me?

      Different and not sure how I felt about them, but maybe? Nevertheless, Juvenile Justice, Pretty Noona Who Buys Me Food (better known as Something in the Rain), The Interest of Love

      Shows that a lot of people love, but I’ve never watched: Flower Boy (multiple shows), I Need Romance (same), Just Between Lovers, Misaeng, Miss Korea, My ID Is Gangnam Beauty , Oh My Venus (I’ve actually watched this, but I hated it), Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-ju , Will It Snow for Christmas? Witch’s Romance,

      Top choices: Que Sera Sera, Oh Hae-young Again, That Winter, the Wind Blows (a lot of people hate this, but I didn’t), Hyena, Let’s Eat (series – they are associated, though not entirely – I’d say all of them are worth watching though, to a greater or lesser degree), Reply 1997 (also titled “Answer Me” – again, there is more than 1 “Reply” but this is my favorite, and the show that really got me hooked), Age of Youth (didn’t watch the 2nd version, only the 1st), Come Back, Ajusshi (Better known as “My Mister” – really, if you don’t watch anything else, watch this).

      I’m sure there are more, but sometimes you watch enough that you can’t remember and they bleed together. Then you have to search for what you want to watch again. Everybody has a different list. I will say, subtitles make a difference. I can’t tell what people are saying (with the exception of a few words here and there) but after so many years, I can now tell when the subtitles are bad, and it makes me want to scream. I don’t do dubbing.

      1. LNLN*

        I agree on not doing dubbing. I love the sound of the Korean language and the acting is so good that I expect dubbing would cause the shows to lose a lot of their appeal to me.

      2. rr*

        Oh, I forgot -So I Married an Anti-Fan. Movie, but I’m talking about the Korean series. Not the greatest either, but cute. I have to see the movie still.

        1. rr*

          And Imitation and Triple (weird ending on that one though), Stars falling from the sky, Only you….obviously I could just go on and on, though I’ll stop now. I’m sure some of these aren’t great, but I’m jealous of you getting to watch these for the first time.

    5. DistantAudacity*

      Favourites in the crime genre:
      Signal (so great!)
      Beyond Evil
      Bad and Crazy
      Taxi Driver

      Really great favourite is “Tale of the nine-tailed fox” (there’s a second series just coming out – watch the original first)

      Other favourites: Strong woman boo song dok, Doom at your service, Hospital Playlist

      My top trick: Look up the Korean acting/drama awards Baeksang awards, and check out what has won/been nominated in various categories, to check out the quakity stuff :)

      And mydramalist is a good resource to find out who is in a show, and what else they have done!

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh, and yes – Netflix has a lot, and most of these.

        Viki is the other main outlet, and generally has the stuff Netflix doesn’t have. Viki also gets things immediately, including stuff that sometimes shows up on Netflix later (excluding Netflix own content)

    6. I'm Done*

      I just got into them myself, which is kind of funny because I lived in South Korea for almost three years and the only Kdrama I watched while I was there was My Golden Life” which I thoroughly enjoyed even though I didn’tunderstand a word of it. I was trying to find it online to rewatch it but only found episode one on YouTube.
      I’m currently watching “Flower of Evil” and it is excellent. It’s a crime story but it has romance as well and it’s extremely suspenseful with totally unexpected twists and turns and just outstanding acting. The other one I really enjoyed was “Monthly Magazine Home”, which is a lighthearted romantic comedy.

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      Yes! If you can find it, Moorim School was outstanding. It’s from a few years ago. It’s about a boarding school of impossibly good looking teens who are exceptional at martial arts, but there is also a subtle mystical vibe, as the school boundary is like a visibility moat – nearby neighbors don’t know the school exists. It is a drama about the kids (love Sundeok -she rocks it!) and their families, and the leadership of the school, which is always being threatened by subtle dark forces. It is funny that the episodes have a soap opera feel, but are really kinda Harry Potter-ish!

  34. Elle*

    I have leftover canned whole berry cranberry sauce. What can I do with it? I have almost a can left.

    1. Lena Clare*

      Brie, rocket and cranberry sauce sandwich (thick brown granary bread for preference).

      Cornbread and cranberry sauce with roast meats (if you eat meat).

    2. Christmas Carol*

      Mix it with some dry onion soup mix and some bottled French dressing, and use it to marinate chicken or pork.

    3. GoryDetails*

      You can add it to lots of things – maybe try making a cranberry lassi or smoothie? Toss it in a slow-cooker with some pork or poultry?

    4. Bonnet*

      I love roast pork with cranberry sauce. Combine with some garlic and a little water. Roast for 3 hours on the stove or 35 minutes (plus 15 min natural release) in the instant pot.

    5. Katiekins*

      Things I’ve eaten with cranberry sauce in the last week: plain yogurt, oatmeal, goat cheese on crackers.

    6. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Stir in a little orange marmalade and a good pinch of cayenne, then dump it over a block of cream cheese. Grab a spreader and a box of Triscuits (the rosemary ones are lovely with the cranberry!), and pig out!

    7. LBD*

      I’ve used it in muffins or quick breads. I use it in proportions somewhat like mashed banana or applesauce. I find that for muffins in particular, the recipe is pretty flexible as long as liquid/semi-liquid/dry proportions don’t change too much. A bit of grated lemon zest is nice with it.

    8. Squidhead*

      Make cranberry bread! It’s a basic quick bread with cranberry sauce and (optional) chopped walnuts. Mine is sift 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 3/4 sugar. Add 1 beaten egg, 2/3 cup milk, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 cup cranberry sauce, 1 cup chopped walnuts. Stir to combine but don’t over-mix. Bake in a greased loaf pan for 1 hour at 350F. I like to put brie or butter on toasted slices!

  35. Anon for this*

    I think this is a question that’s come up here before, but I thought I’d ask again. Given the general state of the world *hand waves towards various messes*, and how lousy it is, any suggestions on what’s worked for you (or people you know) for being generally aware and also NOT constantly on fire with incandescent rage and waves of helplessness? There are a lot of things happening that are worth being angry about, but it’s also not great having Feelings about them all the time. Trying some of the basics – blocked social media from my phone, therapy to deal with how personal issues are intersecting, donating money where I can, etc. – but wanting to see how other people manage this since I know others are dealing with similar issues.

    1. fposte*

      This one can be a very personal choice. But I would say not just limiting the bad media but consciously finding good input; finding ways to take helpful, kind, useful action (an act of kindness every day may sound hokey but it can really buoy you up); writing a daily gratitude journal; practicing empathetic assumptions in situations when there’s insufficient data (the person who cut you off in traffic isn’t a selfish jackass but a worried parent with an unwell kid); making sure you get decent sleep and physical exercise.

      The world is full of things, period; some of them are horrible, some of them are great, and most of them are just neutral. Sometimes I like to think about my neighborhood and the hum of the actions within: there are pets being played with, kids being fed, people catching up with friends, and none of this is newsworthy or something I’m likely to even know about, but it’s there.

      1. MassChick*

        +1. I always feel better when I am productive and kind. And when I shrug offbed/negative behaviour as the other person’s problem or circumstance, rather than take it personally and stew over it.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        I like this. Mr T gets so frustrated. I remind him that it took women 100 years to get the vote and it took 100 years (? don’t quote me on either number) to end chattel slavery and that sometimes, our actions are not for us but for future generations. Just because we don’t see immediate results does not mean we stop fighting.

      2. PoolLounger*

        History books can make me feel even mire hopeless, honestly. The same mistakes, same awfulness, over and over again.

        1. Double A*

          Hm, maybe you’re reading the wrong books? I mean 50% of children no longer die before the age of 5. Slavery is not a widely accepted fact of life. We don’t routinely put people to death for stealing and invite the town out to watch the executioner for entertainment.

          We have a lot more progress to make, but I find a lot of hope in how much progress we’ve made from objectively worse starting points many times and places before in human history.

          Even when we are repeating mistakes, understanding the legacy of the mistakes, what they’ve looked like before, and what historical trends contribute to the mentality that enables the mistakes also helps give me perspective.

    2. Texan In Exile*

      What works for me is taking action. It’s impossible for me to ignore the news (I mean, I don’t want to) and I can’t not be angry about it, so I work to change it.

      I help with voter registration (with the League of Women Voters), I volunteer on political campaigns and as a pollworker, and I volunteer at the food bank. Because I am either unemployed or retired (not sure which), I have time on my hands. When I was working full time, I couldn’t do as much, of course, but even an hour or two a month is valuable to any cause.

    3. OyHiOh*

      I channel my rage at All The Things into art. I’m doing a lot of cut paper/collage right now because it’s faster than origami. Sometimes I also wrote it in poetry, but I like the immediate visceral impact of a picture.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Skimming headlines about all the messes, but not necessarily reading the full articles.

      Looking up places around the country where I can contribute $ to make a positive difference, like finding one of the poorer counties in a state where things are pretty bad and donating to their library or NPR station or voting rights action group.

      Sometimes, I’ve rage donated. Jerk from state X did something outrageous today? Well, Black Voters Matter in your state is getting a big fat check from me now.

      1. Prospect Gone Bad*

        Many headlines don’t make sense or are different than the articles though:-). I just immersed myself in all of it and didn’t let the anger get to me. The problem is, each outlet has it’s way to present the truth. The NYT for example has allowed way more opinions to sneak into what should be fact based reporting over the past 20 years. So unless you completely immerse yourself in the articles over a number of years, you’re going to be left with the wrong impressions from reading them. For example, you may find that they loath a particular figure. So when they write an article about them that does not include loads of negative comments, but they don’t flat out criticize the idea, that means they approve it. But a newbie reading the article would get the impression that the paper hates the idea.

    5. Prospect Gone Bad*

      I think it helps to pick a niche and become an expert in it and only follow those stories. For me, it’s economic policy. Someone else may pick the medical system. Someone else may pick voting bills. One problem is if you try to be a jack-of-all trades master-of-none, you’re taking a bunch of stuff at face value that is meant to elicit a reaction and piss you off. I’ve deep dived into stuff that was fear-mongered about and read the bills and realized they were much less worrisome than the article said. But you wouldn’t know that just from reading the article. I learned over time I couldn’t accurately evaluate everything so I ended up picking a topic I was expert in.

    6. RagingADHD*

      Dig in the dirt and grow something. Even if it’s a pot on the windowsill. Life = hope.

      Plus, getting the soil life up under your finger nails improves your microbiome and mood. It’s also a great reminder that we, like plants, rely on symbiosis.

    7. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I don’t watch the news. I will occasionally (1x a week) scroll down the NY Times or Washington Post apps, and may read few articles. I am on Reddit, and I find that major news hits the front page so I at least see it.

      As a result, I have a very high level knowledge of what’s going on, but I generally don’t know details. For example, I’ll hear something about a school shooting and I’ll ask where was it this time, but I don’t want to know any more.

      Before elections, I get the sample ballots and I do research on the candidates so I can make an informed choice. Unfortunately, it’s gotten a lot easier because one party has made it so that I can not in good conscience vote for any members of that party for the foreseeable future.

    8. Just here for the scripts*

      Prioritize good habits—to bed at 11pm means I get 90 min of deep sleep; working out while watching jeopardy or the latest crime show I’m binging means I get my anxiety and aggravation out while staying fit; walking with my neighbor over weekday lunch breaks means I don’t stay glued to my desk and get 1/2 way to my 10k steps; having dinner with my sweetie while solving the latest mystery series we’re watching.

      Starting November 2016 I stopped watching news shows—even the satirical ones I used to enjoy. Also stopped watching all the late night shows—with the exception of SNL…but we record it and watch it over Sunday breakfast so I don’t get riled before going to bed. The only news we hear is CBS morning radio while we’re getting up/dressed for work. Luckily they are short pieces and interspersed with traffic, weather, sports, etc.

      And somehow I still know what’s going on—the zeitgeist is strong here in NYC.

    9. OtterB*

      I find Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American Substack and newsletter ideal for flagging important political developments in an informative but non-rage-inducing way. She’s a historian and often puts current events into historical context.

      I also like Dan Rather’s Steady Substack.

      My fairly carefully curated Twitter does still work pretty well for me but I do have to quit reading sometimes.

      Like some have mentioned, I donate $ where I can, some to current emergencies and some to longer term priorities. I do a little volunteering. I try to remember that one person can’t do everything but everyone can do something.

    10. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Watch a 7 minute cartoon episode of Bluey every night! Heartwarming and amusing and uplifting to see into the family life of Bandit and Chili and their two little girls Bluey and Bingo. Filled with imaginative play and very good parenting. They are Blue Heelers and live in sunny Brisbane and are much loved by adult viewers. Try an episode, see if it makes you smile.

    11. Mary S*

      I joined a nonpartisan political group related to issues I care about. We have more in-depth, practical, and hopeful discussions than when I was involved with partisan groups. And it feels good to be doing something about it.

    12. WorkingRachel*

      I just. Don’t. Consume. News. I don’t watch it, I don’t read news sites, and I’m not on social media very much (maybe 10 minutes of FB per week). I subscribe to a couple of locally oriented email newsletters and such, so I have a decent idea of what’s going on in my city. Other than that, I find out about things through osmosis: talking to people and the information that you just come across by living in the world. I often don’t know where the latest school shooting was or what inanity Donald Trump most recently participated in. That’s okay with me. Once in a while I feel out of touch and a little embarrassed by things I don’t know (I remember a conversation where I didn’t recognize the president of Ukraine’s name, for instance). The occasional moment of mild embarrassment is worth the positive impact on my mental health from not listening to the everyday ins and outs of the news. Most of the time, I find out about the big things around the same time as everyone else. I found out about the war in Ukraine within minutes because people on the train were talking about it, heard about Roe v. Wade a few hours later than others but the same day, etc.

      I actually consider myself reasonably well-informed even if I don’t always know the details or timelines. I talk to people about the issues I care about and seek out more information when I want to/think I should morally. I’ve gone to protests and canvassed for my local candidates. I vote in every election, and when information about the candidates hasn’t reached my radar, I just do my research in the day or two beforehand.

  36. Bibliovore*

    A big vent.
    Recap- foot broken in four places, torn ligaments, and nerve damage. No weight bearing. Big boot. Two crutches. (underlying conditions, slow healer)
    Acquaintance at services last night – What happened?
    Me: A propane tank dropped on my foot, four fractures and other damage. I’m doing okay.
    Acquaintance: When did this happen?
    Me: about a month ago.
    Acquaintance: That’s good, you are almost healed.

    (Sigh- No I am not. You will probably see me in three months and gasp, isn’t that fixed yet? With many suggestions of supplements, new specialists, yoga, reiki, PT etc)

    Why am I so cranky about this?
    Why can’t I just say thank you for your interest and move on?

    1. Liminality*

      I can’t speak to your specific brand of cranky, but I know I start getting frustrated about the third time I get asked the same question. (No matter who is asking.) don’t even get me started on “How are you?”
      The only advice I can give you is start imagining better/ more unbelievable stories to answer with.
      (ala Ever After “to think you saved that baby from a runaway carriage!!” “Twas a maternal instinct…”)
      Unless you genuinely expect said curious-looky-loo to offer useful assistance their questions don’t really require thorough responses.

      1. Liminality*

        Sorry about your injury and your long path to recovery, btw. That really does sound like about five kinds of no fun. <3

    2. Double A*

      I know for me, when I’m not able to meet my physical needs (eg exercise) my patience is WAY shorter. This is why I have a “no feelings before breakfast” rule.

      Also you don’t sound thankful for their interest so that’s probably why you can’t say it! I think it’s okay to fume a bit. Being sick or injured is cranky-making. Even when you know that, like, exercise would help… you can’t do it!! Argh.

      I would suggest a little laugh and, “If only!” or “Maybe if I were in my 20s!” response to a comment like that.

      Also is the person who made that comment older than their 20s? Because even at not-quite-40, even a minor injury can set me back for weeks. “Not healing like you used to” is a standard lamentation of getting even a little old!

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Me too—I decided my crankiness was actually a sign that I was feeling pain, and treated it accordingly with extra strength Tylenol, caffeine (a natural analgesic), and cutting myself a break or two (including getting a neck and shoulder massage at the nail salon weekly to offset the strain from the crutches). My patience definitely got better once I did that. Learned that severe stabby aching pain isn’t the only type of pain there is.

        Also love the reply above re “if only” or “maybe if I was still in my 20s” response.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      How about pre-empting questions…if someone asks you, tell as much as you want to (propane tank, I’m OK, long recovery) right away (before they have a chance to ask follow-on questions) and then (before they get a chance to reply) say… thanks for your concern! I’m so tired of talking about this – how’s your dog/knitting/etc. If they go for follow-on questions, repeat…thanks for your concern, but I’d really like to talk about something else!

    4. Redactle*

      This might not apply to you, but if it was me, I’d be feeling cranky because of the dismissal of what I’m going through. Pain, trauma, expense, inconvenience…all dismissed with zero empathy and a totally incorrect ‘at least it’s almost over’. It really invalidates what you’re going through. Some very well meaning people always feel the need to put a silver lining on something or say something positive, but pain lowers resilience to trying to look past them being a bit useless in this particular situation. Sometimes I’ve just had my fill of silver linings and would like an acknowledgment that actually some things just really suck.

      1. Mighty midget*

        This. This sums it up perfectly.

        No, it’s not “nearly over”
        It’s “very sore, inconvenient and gonna be annoying for a while yet”

    5. Old Plant Woman*

      What happened to your foot?
      Got bit by a wolverine.
      Sky diving accident.
      Feel off my camel, my stilettos.
      Brawl at the mall.
      Are you f… kidding me?
      Yeah. I’m just tired of talking about my foot. But I really like you. Honest. So what’s new and exciting in your world?

    6. WestsideStory*

      My husbands favorite when he broke his ankle: “what? You mean you didn’t see it on SportsCenter?”

  37. A-mom-ymous*

    does anyone know if colleges have a way for trans kids to apply with their chosen name if a parent refuses to let them change their name legally?

    1. Not A Manager*

      How would this intersect with school and medical paperwork? Does the school have all of their records under a previous name? If your student is going to apply for financial aid, will they need the other parent to cooperate with those forms?

      I googled “how can i use a different name from my legal name on college common app” and got some good hits, but I would want an answer tailored to the actual situation. If the school has a college counselor or a guidance counselor, I’d start there. You could also phone the admission offices of your student’s top choices just to get some guidance. And if you’re going to use the common app, I’d try to reach out to them as well.

      If school records are in a different name and/or if the other parent’s cooperation will be required in other parts of the application process, your student might need to apply under their current legal name, and use the “preferred first name” or “preferred pronouns” options to indicate their actual name. It should be much easier once they are admitted for them to change their name as an enrolled student. Once they reach majority I assume they can sort out a legal name change anyway.

      I’m sorry their other parent isn’t stepping up for them. That’s really hard.

    2. Bon Voyage*

      Yes! The Common App asks students for their preferred name. Other applications may do the same. (The universities I worked at have gotten better at this! I wasn’t in admissions, but as staff, I only saw students’ indicated names. Payroll continued to be an issue for folks, but everywhere else names were updated correctly.)

    3. anon24*

      Every college I’ve attended, including my current community college located in the Bible belt, has asked on my application and every other piece of paperwork for both my legal name and if I have a preferred name. And also, FWIW, all my professors so far have also asked if anyone wants to be called anything other than is what’s listed on the attendance sheet.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Once they get into a school, they will probably also be able to fix things on that end.

      The college I work at definitely has a preferred-name policy where students can have their preferred name show up on most (though not all) school documents, including class rosters, so they don’t get deadnamed. Also, students can indicate their pronouns so they’ll show up on rosters as well.

      My experience suggests that the people who choose to work in Orientation, Residential Life, Student Life, etc. are pretty supportive of LGBTQ+ students, so once the applicant here gets in, suggest that they ask one of those folks if it’s not clear by what process they should indicate their pronouns and preferred name to teachers and the school in general.

      1. fueled by coffee*

        Came here to say this. I’m not sure about applications, but my university also has a way for students to change their names in the system once admitted. When I teach, the class roster only includes the new name – I don’t have access to deadnames.

      2. AGD*

        I work in student advising, and yes! I can only speak for my institution, but we understand that unfortunately, a lot of trans kids come from unsupportive/hostile families of origin.

    5. anonogyn*

      I do not know the age of the student but at age 18 they can change their name legally. The requirements are all over the map (our state single page form, original birth certificate, and $39) Other states require an attorney. There may be resources at college. In my experience most colleges are very helpful on the backside. My son’s physicians and schools all changed to his legal name, the same as with adoption. Sadly, some parents never get it. They are just doing themselves out of the future life of their child.

    6. Clara Bowe*

      Check to see if the uni has a “preferred name” field in their paperwork. Ours does and it is only accessible by the student. It is found in the student info portal (banner). They can also try contacting the registrar to get a preferred name on class rolls. That way the teachers/social end get the correct name, but the parent gets the bills with the legal name.

  38. Pieforbreakfast*

    The Name Game- sounds simple but is good with groups. Everyone writes down a name- real or fictional- on a slip of paper and adds to a bowl/hat/etc… One person reads out the names one by one, then repeats the list again.The goal is to guess who is which name. First person on the reader’s left asks someone else”are you…?” and if they guess right that person is out and the asker keeps going, If not, the person to the left then tries to guess. This goes on until only one person is left. Inevitably one or two names are forgotten so it’s a game of trying to remember them and not just figure out who would choose what name.

  39. GoryDetails*

    Little Joys:

    Getting my leaky kitchen faucet and trap fixed. (OK, the bill wasn’t little, but the relief of getting the item off my to-do list was a mild pleasure.)

    Also: I posted this in the reading thread, but it also made me quite happy – learning that Sarah Caudwell’s “Hilary Tamar” novels are being released in audiobook!

    1. the cat's ass*

      Had a blast in Portland and really think I’d like to retire there. Emperor Georgiou’s Tea Room in the Kenton neighborhood of Portland is fantastic.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      My college student is home, and when I asked if he had any requests for dinner he wanted some sort of protein with lots of vegetable sides.

      I’m making soy-glazed chicken with rice (from Smitten Kitchen) and mango salad, cucumber-mint salad, beets, carrots, asparagus, and a bit of leftover spicy eggplant.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also he stole my phone charger because he forgot his, which is the true way I know when my children are home.

    3. MassChick*

      Pharmacuetical and meds! A week ago, I was felled by severe vertigo and vomiting like I’ve never vomited before. I was sure I’d end up in the hospital, but two pills – one an anti-emetic and one for vertigo were like magic. They gave me the will to live ! (slight exaggeration). I was wiped out for several days but I’m now functional. Apparently a ear infection that I barely noticed (thought one eear was slightly blocked) triggered it.
      Another small joy was a gym session after more than a week.

    4. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Figuring out how to make a good chicken-mushroom-pea stroganoff (a little greenish, but tasty).

      Getting a sweet parking space where I don’t have to move my car until Tuesday!

    5. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      we drove 6 hours to visit with my grandmother who hasn’t met my 13 month old son, but he developed a fever…gram is 101, so we canceled our visit and went to urgent care and good news it’s an ear infection! negative for covid, rsv, and flu! visit to gram is rescheduled for tomorrow!

    6. allathian*

      The long Easter weekend is a lovely mini vacation. I’m scheduling my last PTO that has to be used up by the end of this month for the following Fridays, so I’m getting four 4-day weeks in a row.

      My husband and I watched Glass Onion on Netflix on Friday and really enjoyed it, I liked it better than Knives Out.

    7. StellaBella*

      Joy and a sadness as I finished the last of the Dresden Files books, Battle Ground. A year i think til the next one. Joys overall this long weekend are the long weekend, seeing crow mob a hawk to defend their nests, driving to a new tow yesterday on a whim to sightsee, and writing some post cards to family and friends.

    8. AGD*

      Thanks to Good Friday, I took an actual 2-day break from work, y’all. Played some games, did some reading, slept, cleaned the kitchen, did some crafts, and ate chocolate cereal because I’m an adult.

      We also had a spectacular weekday-place party this week, plus I went out for dinner with a bunch of friends! But I needed some hardcore introverting after all that, especially since the weekday-place in question gets intense anyway (I work at a college doing miscellanous student-advising stuff, and I enjoy it a lot but there are many emergencies).

  40. Alex*

    Anyone recently do a bathroom remodel? I’m considering remodeling a bathroom and am curious as to how much of a hassle and expense it is.

    This would be a very basic, but complete bathroom remodel–replace sink/vanity, toilet, and standard bathtub/shower. Nothing too fancy, but the current stuff is old and doesn’t match. No need to change the layout or anything like that.

    1. Bibliovore*

      I am in the middle (near the end? who knows? of a fancy bathroom remodel. )
      My experience will be different but maybe I can help.
      I signed up for lots of design sites like Houz to figure out what I wanted/liked.
      I did do a vision board with colors and intentions. (my designer just laughed when he saw it and said, that’s nice and moved on)
      I figured out what was most important to me – accessible shower with no threshold, Japanese toilet, deep soaking tub. I worked everything around that.
      Lots of hot water.
      The tub was a big deal and I was willing to just not do the renovation at all if I couldn’t get one that I would be satisfied with. I chose an omni tub.
      Put together a checklist- I made a spread sheet – who is doing what? what am I purchasing What is the contractor purchasing. Estimated cost. (added 20% above for “stuff happens”)
      Stuff I didn’t think about and didn’t want to that was the contractor’s job- ordering supplies, wrangling workers, pulling permits, supervising the plumber and electrician, making sure everything was up to code and fit, scheduling inspections.
      I got outstanding recommendations for both the contractor and the designer.
      The designer did the stuff you need to think about like the vanity, type of toilet (I went big with the Toto)
      I had to move a wall a foot and put in a window.
      Supply chain stuff- the window took 6 months to receive.
      I wasn’t that interested in the designy stuff so the designer would bring me three choices and I picked one. Tile, sinks, faucets, lighting, drawer pulls.
      I gave him marching orders — “something that is easy to clean” “lights bright enough to remove a splinter” ” a drawer deep enough to put a supply of washclothes in” “there will never be too many grab bars”

      I imagined a mirrored cabinet that would have an electrical outlet inside- it was possible but added about $1,000 to the cabinet. Hard pass.

    2. Generic Name*

      We recently redid my son’s bathroom and are in the middle of redoing both bathrooms in my parents’ cabin. My suggestion is to purchase only what your local stores have in stock, if possible. I found that a certain size vanity wasn’t available in the store, so we had to order online. Stay away from anything special order if you want to minimize hassle. As far as cost, it depends on the size of the bathroom, the materials you choose, and how I punch you do yourself. Count on the labor costing as much as the materials. So if you price out the materials at $4k, double that for the final cost if you hire someone to do it. Redoing my son’s bathroom was very little hassle and a moderate cost. We tiled the floor, I painted the walls and we replaced all the fixtures except the toilet. It took like a week? Compared to the main bathroom where we knocked down walls and changed the layout, which took like 3 months and lots of money.

    3. Pippa K*

      We just did a remodel of a bath that hadn’t been updated since the 50s, so even though we were keeping the same floor plan and not adding anything fancy, it had to be gutted down to the studs. Our contractor was great, but it took about a month. We had another bathroom to use in the meantime, so it wasn’t a huge hassle. And we’re so, so happy with the result.

      We went with nice tile and midrange sink/vanity/mirror, and the advice above to go with in-stock items is good. Even big-box home improvement stores have great tile selections. We didn’t replace the toilet or tub but do need to have the tub refinished at some point. We also added underfloor heating as our one luxury and it’s absolutely worth it.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      I recently redid the bathroom without any major structural changes (did enlarge the door to accommodate a wheelchair but that was it). New tub and bath wall tile, floor tile, vanity, toilet. Everything fit into the same space, didn’t move any plumbing or electrical.

      Even buying all the tile and fixtures myself at Lowes or online, ordering my own tub and toilet, etc., the costs added up. Mid-range quality things are like twice as expensive as the basic stuff, but the basic stuff is what they mass produce for apartment complexes and it’s really cheaply made. So it took me some time to find things that would look decent and be durable but still in my price range.

      Some things got caught up in supply chain issues and took longer to arrive.

      I work with a handyman who does all sorts of projects and is very affordable. So that cut way down on costs but he’s one guy so when a family emergency came up and he had to leave town for a funeral, that slowed things down. I only have one bathroom in the condo so we made sure to have a backup shower option (the neighborhood pool in the summer worked fine) when the tub and tile were getting installed!

      I’m very happy with how it all went in the end and did a whole bathroom remodel for less than many similar projects would cost, but it definitely took a lot of time and effort on my part.

      Good luck, I hope you like how it looks in the end!

    5. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I remodeled my primary bathroom right as the pandemic was spinning up. So I ran into some supply chain issues such as certain tile not being available within the remodel timeframe, stores were closed so I couldn’t see some things (lighting, mirrors, that kind of stuff) in person, etc.

      My bathroom is a pretty good size, and larger than some primaries you might see, but it’s also not “huge” huge. Double vanity, standalone tub, and step-in shower. Originally the tub was a big soaker encased in an even bigger, tiled surround, and while the shower looked big, it had a very big and very awkwardly placed bench that took up a lot of room and made the shower much smaller in terms of function. I wanted less beige and more storage, and I wanted to keep the overall layout like you’re planning to do.

      I got quotes from three local remodelers. Two of them basically agreed (I ended up going with one of them) and the third came in at about half the cost of the other two. Even with keeping the layout, making cost-friendly choices for tile and cabinetry, and providing some of the elements (like the lighting and mirrors) myself, the reno came in around $40k. During my first estimate, I got some sticker shock, but the contractor informed me that the shower alone would cost about $8k in materials and labor. It sounds like your space might be a little more compact though, given the bathtub/shower combo, so don’t let this number scare you off. And definitely get multiple quotes.

      In terms of hassle – I had to move out of the primary bedroom for the duration of the reno. They warned me that the dust is fine and gets everywhere, so on their advice I covered all the clothes in my closet and all the furniture in the bedroom with plastic sheeting. That meant I had to move enough clothes out to other locations so I wouldn’t be coming and going. The entire project took a couple of months. The tiling and the glass for the shower actually took the most time. The tiling, just because of the area involved; and for the shower glass, there was an initial mixup with the measurements for one piece, and then there were some supply chain delays. It was so great working with a construction company though – they handled everything. I didn’t need to worry about what to do with all the debris. If something came up (minor leak at one point) I just let the project manager know and he took care of getting it fixed. If they ran into anything unexpected, they let me know and we talked through the various options, and if any extra cost was involved they let me know so I could make an informed decision. I can’t imagine trying to manage all of that on my own.

  41. Reporting back: cat sling*

    As requested, I am reporting in regarding buying my needy clingy cat (recently lost his sister) a wearable sling so I can be hands-free while working.

    I bought the “HACOCOLA Toddler Carrier Sling” on Amaz*n because he’s big (about 22 pounds) and most pet/baby slings were insufficient for that weight. This one is more of a miniature hammock that cradles the tush for upright sitting, which is the way he climbs on me.

    Unfortunately he refused to trust his back end to being supported by the sling, instead of by my arm. I tried it for a couple of weeks to give him time to get used to it, but he wasn’t having it. He would keep crawling higher/scrabbling for purchase on me in order to lift his butt away from the sling, which caused him to dig his back claws into my neck.

    After two separate incidents of deep scratches on my neck, I abandoned the effort and returned the sling. I was imagining him catching a vein with a badly-placed leg and me bleeding out in my home office. (If that sounds overly paranoid, years ago my husband caught a back claw partially through his eyelid when two of our cats started fighting on top of us in the middle of the night. So that’s why we don’t allow pets in the bedroom.)

    So, failed experiment, but possibly a viable solution should your cat be more chill than mine.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I read this whole comment missing the fact it was a cat, not a baby. Was highly entertained by the idea of a baby this sharp.

    2. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Ah, I’m sorry, I was really hoping it would work out.

      Also, ooooof yeah I get why kitty is banished from the bedroom!

  42. Helvetica*

    What do you buy from travels, as mementos and reminders of where you’ve been, especially if they are not what one may call souvenirs? This is mainly international travel for me but any kind works!
    I try to get a pair of earrings from a place – or maybe more; just got two pairs in Istanbul – and/or a book that relates to the location. Local English language bookshops are good for this, since they often also have sections dedicated to such purpose. I try to make it a fiction book, though non-fiction also works, of course.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I do that too! Given that I seldom take trips of more than a week or two, the postcards generally arrive after I’ve gotten home, and it makes a nice little reminder – plus there are often very cool stamps involved!

    1. Double A*

      I don’t travel internationally, but I’m definitely a “stuff contains my memories” person so I just like to be open to something that catches my eye and seems connected to a place. Jewelry is great for this, and then you remember when you wear it. I also like keeping an eye out for charming cups or things I might use on a regular basis.

    2. FD*

      Pins! I like the kind of pins that are shaped like something cool, not just the round kind with an embedded image. My favorite one I’ve gotten so far is from lake Superior and has a little lake freighter that moves back and forth within a little slot.

      I like pins because they’re a small item that you can put a lot of on a board without taking up a huge amount of space. I like postcards too, but a lot of places don’t have them anymore.

    3. Green Mug*

      I like to buy ornaments when we travel. It makes for happy memories when decorating the tree.

      1. jasmine tea*

        Same, we do a travel tree downstairs and an heirloom tree in the foyer.

        Also not limited to “official” ornaments; I’ve made ornaments out of magnets, earrings, thimbles, etc.

      2. My Brain is Exploding*

        Yep! Also something to use as an ornament, like a keychain (removing the chain part and putting an ornament hook in its place.)

      3. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

        Yes, we try to get ornaments too. Our tree is now entirely decorated with 30+ years worth of them.

    4. The New Wanderer*

      Fridge magnets from touristy places. Prior to that it was shot glasses but we now have about a dozen.

      I also like buying cheap local art – sketches or watercolors of landmarks sold by sidewalk artists, that sort of thing. I’ve been able to find a lot of options for less than $20 to $30. One of my favorites is a landscape painting done on a large ceramic tile – the artist was painting new ones at the market and it was amazing to see how quickly he put a scene together.

      Scarves and other textiles, if the place is known for that. Ceramic or metal wall art, small things like a painted fish or a metal butterfly done in the local style.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I also collect magnets! My husband collects iron-on patches and puts them on his luggage. They can sometimes be hard to find depending on location (for example, we didn’t see any in Japan and he instead bought a Japanese flag patch when we got home) but they look really cool on his bag!

      2. Helvetica*

        I used to do magnets but then I moved to a new place where the fridge is hidden behind a cupboard door, so doesn’t magnetise. But maybe some day I’ll be able to re-do that!

    5. Fear Biter*

      Similar to your earring habit, I like to pick up charms when I’m traveling. I did part of my grad-school studies abroad and then toured around for several months before coming home. I needed something small and easy to carry long-term. I was surprised by how many I was able to acquire – practically every city and tourist attraction offers them, which I wasn’t expecting. I thought I’d pick up a handful, but ended up with multiple bracelets worth by the time I was home. Those bracelets are among favorite pieces of jewelry, and never fail to start a conversation when I wear them out.

    6. Just here for the scripts*

      Baseball style caps—use them to swim in, walk in and exercise in.

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Local snacks from the supermarket are cheap and fun and something the locals actually get unlike say shot glasses.

    8. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      In my more espresso-fueled years, I used to get those little espresso cups, though they generally did have the name of the place on them. Got a cute espresso spoon once.

    9. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      I buy hoodies! I have lots of comfy hoodies from all over the world – my current favourite is a 3-sizes-too-big Parks Canada one I got on Vancouver Island!

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      A small jar of fancy local honey can be great. I brought back a ‘flight’ of these from the French Alps.

    11. Bluebell*

      I’m not disciplined enough to stay in one category, but the three things I’m most likely to buy are earrings, socks and small pieces of art. I did buy fridge magnets for a while but don’t do that anymore.

    12. DistantAudacity*

      Christmas tree decorations are my go-to (nice ones, not Place 20xx!).

      That way I actually do use them, but not all the time!

    13. I take tea*

      We used to buy the first Harry Potter in the local language when travelling. It was fun to try to read read a bit in it, because it was a familiar text. Now it doesn’t feel as fun anymore, sadly.

    14. the cat's ass*

      I like this! And small/portable/packable is a bonus, too. I’ve gotten a lot of scarves/shawls from all over, and they roll up pretty small, too.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I backpacked around Europe, I got a little keychain stuffy from each country I went to and hung them on my backpack, then when I got home I got a length of plastic chain (big links, like a regular chain in size, about three feet long) and put all the stuffies on it, in the order that I went, and hung it on the wall. Now I mostly do pins or fridge magnets, but I do have more than a few vacation-memory stuffies as well. :)

    16. Almost Academic*

      Household objects, especially kitchen gadgets, and home decor. Most recently, ramen bowls and nice kitchen knife from Japan. Spaetzle maker from Germany. Whisky glasses from Scotland. Ceramic cups from Denmark. Chopsticks and cooking scissors from Korea. Art prints from local artists scattered in different cities that catch my eye. I like things that I know I can use in my daily life, so it’s more than just “stuff” I’m bringing home – and it makes me smile whenever I see it. Plus other countries and cultures have such useful items that I never see around here!

    17. I'm Done*

      Small watercolors I buy from local gallery or street artist. I’m also very partial towards handmade pottery.

    18. I heart my NC headphones*

      Hmmm. Been a long time since I’ve traveled but among my souvenirs:
      English-language books from local bookstores
      Fancy scarves
      Cutlery (chopsticks in China, etc)

    19. RLC*

      If I can find a fabric store/quilt shop I buy a fat quarter or two of interesting fabric, bonus points if design is by a local artist or representative of the location. No fabric shop? Buy a small “finished” textile such as a scarf, banner, or table runner which can be incorporated into a future quilt or decorative item for our home.

    20. MeepMeep123*

      My father always buys coffee mugs from each place. He’s got a great collection now.

    21. M2*

      I buy rugs or local art work. Also bought a lamp in Egypt I had required at home and glass in Venice that I shipped from the store. I ended up not getting the color I requested and had written on my receipt though! Also, learn about the area and if haggling if a thing. My sibling lived in Turkey for years so they helped me when purchasing items there.

      Also if need a tray, table cloth, place mats for my kitchen or something like that. I also like getting pillows (but not the inside) which can easily be packed and you can buy pillow inside stuff anywhere. I also like buying for gifts. People always comment on my art and rugs which are all from traveling or living abroad! Also are you can have rolled into a container and professionally framed when you come home. I have also bought art and had to save before framing it.

      If you get a huge duffel bag (or bring or buy an extra suitcase- you can pack a suitcase in another suitcase even) you can easily bring stuff back with you and pack a decent-size rug in there. You may pay an extra fee on the airline but it’s less than shipping and more reliable. I have shipped a couple really large rugs and not had an issue.

      Honestly you can travel to certain countries and buy one or two really nice rugs for less than buying one similar rug in the US! You can also buy runners for hallways those are easier to pack. If you can’t tell my house is full of rugs…

  43. Green Mug*

    I’m looking for recommendations on new furnace/AC installations. We live in an area with all four seasons, so we deal with freezing cold and 100 degree heat. Any advice on Carrier v Bosch? Are recommendations or warnings about particular brands? Does anyone have experience with these newer high efficiency models? Are they worth the extra money? Thank you so much. This is a major expense, and I’m stressed out.

    1. fposte*

      In my area, the installers are generally tied to the brand. In the US, Carrier, Lennox, and Trane generally have the best reputations, and in my area are definitely the most available with installers. My inclination would be to look at the reputation of the local firms who handle each of those three and then get quotes from the two or three with the best rep; once you have a decent brand, it’s the local service that will make the difference.

      IMHO yes, high efficiency is worth the cost, both for current use and home value. The installation will usually require a new vent to outside, much closer to the furnace, rather than going through the old furnace chimney. I’ve never had any trouble with it and mostly forget it’s there. If you can, a variable speed furnace is superior to a one-stage or two-stage furnace, in that it can change how much it blows and therefore keeps the house’s feel more consistent. For the AC side, there wasn’t variable speed when I got mine so I have a two-stage.

      Check federally and state/province/whateverly as well as with your power supplier to see if there are any tax breaks or subsidies for more energy-efficient HVAC. The installers may also know about those two, but might as well both check.

      1. Missb*

        I’m going to echo the variable speed furnace if you can afford it. It’s truly changed how comfy our house is- we don’t even notice the furnace running mostly. The fan is always running but it’s also super quiet. The two stage furnaces are noisy in comparison.

        We used to have cold rooms and very warm rooms and now it’s all just a comfy temperature everywhere because the air is always moving. My bills are very consistent too.

        We also put a dehumidifier in our system years ago. I’m super grateful for that choice especially after going with inset kitchen cabinets. The dehumidifier removes a shocking amount of moisture and keeps the humidity pretty constant.

    2. WorkNowPaintLater*

      Ours was just replaced, and yeah that expense was higher than expected.

      We didn’t get either of those, but we did a lot of online research comparing warranties (our new one has 10 year parts, 1 year labor) and some review searching. So far have been happy with the new system – it replaced a 20+ year old one that was noisier than we realized. We are currently in the heat & A/C season, and the new one has been switching between just fine.

    3. Gatomon*

      I went with a mid-range high efficiency from Bryant along with an Ecobee thermostat and it’s been great! I’m using less gas and I’m far more comfortable in my house. Instead of blasting you with scorching hot air for a few minutes, they will run longer at a lower fan speed and lower temp. I used to be able to hear the old furnace rumble to life throughout the house. This one I only hear the fan kick on unless I’m next to the garage where it lives.

      One thing they had to do was replace the metal flue (?) with a PVC one, but they were able to run it up the existing chase so not a big deal in the end. They also had to install a pump to dispose of wastewater that the high-efficiency units create. The person who comes out to do the quote should go over all this with you.

    4. tab*

      We replace ours a couple years ago using Costco. They had a good price, and the installers got great reviews.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I’m having the very highest level Carrier (heat pump) installed this month. It’s super expensive! This is the same model my parents have and it’s incredibly quiet which was my priority. I want to be able to sit in my backyard and not be overwhelmed by AC noise.

      Carrier dominates around me so that would have shaped my choice anyway — of the 5 contractors I brought in to bid, 4 were Carrier-aligned. Most of my contractors recommended the Carrier Performance line, but I went with the highest Infinity. Ultimate the efficiency was a factor (jumping from about 17 on the highest Performance model to 22 for the highest Infinity model) so it should pay back but the final decision was based on wanting the most quiet operation possible, as I’m really noise sensitive. The one I’m getting is about 10 fewer decibels, which is a lot.

      I know we have a lot of neurodivergent folks here so I’ll say a little more — I actually chose a heating/cooling system around my sensory and executive function needs! As I’m starting from scratch in an old house with no ducting, I almost went with the ductless splits because they are even quieter and then you can control each room separately for maximum comfort. In the end I’m going with a central system with the quietest possible equipment, because the splits meant a lot more moving parts — multiple powered units (with pumps and remotes), more filters to change more often, more risk — which wasn’t good for my executive dysfunction. The central will be a simpler system, less for me to forget or be anxious about.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      We had the entire system replaced last year, inside and outside, as my name says, I live in the store got and humid climate and it was time, the old unit was over 20 years old and was crapping out.
      Shopped around, like fposte days, the installer company will be tied to one brand. We went with Carrier, 5 ton, highest capacity residential unit available.
      The installers didn’t have to cut new vents, but enlarged the existing ones.
      All in all, took them about 8 hours
      It was $17k total. Owning a house blows, man.

    7. Squidhead*

      Our “new” high-efficiency forced-air Rheem furnace is more than a decade old at this point, and it replaced an old furnace from probably the 1950’s that vented out the chimney. Never had a day’s trouble with it (knock on wood!)
      As far as we can tell, the house never had a fireplace and the chimney was always only used as a vent. The new furnace vents directly outside, so they also had to drop a new liner down the brick chimney because the hot water heater used the chimney for a vent and now there wouldn’t be enough air flow with the furnace removed. Compared to the overall cost this wasn’t a huge item, but worth knowing about.

      We don’t have A/C; we just sweat through those 100-degree 90% humidity days. We do use a programmable thermostat (the $60 kind from Lowe’s, not a smart thermostat); the design of the house prevented a 2-zone furnace (2 floors but no place for an air return upstairs)…we would have liked that. However, in the winter our total monthly gas useage is around 130 therms. (The furnace does use electricity for the blower, too.) This honestly does not seem unreasonable to me; hopefully your new equipment will save you a good amount of energy! At the time we put ours in we qualified for a home-energy-improvement grant that helped with part of the cost–could be worth checking out if you haven’t already. Some utility companies sponsor them as well as some municipalities and community foundations.

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      If you are in the US, do check with your state and/or utility company about rebates and special financing. I was able to get 0% loans for my air conditioning (mini splits) and for high efficiency water heater and heating system through their program.

  44. Grief & Hope*

    I’ve just had an ectopic pregnancy, and they had to take out the fallopian tube as well. I have a wonderful 3-yo, and I’m grateful that they caught everything just in time (I was told it was just about to burst), and I think I’m doing as well as can be expected.

    But some more hope won’t hurt, so I’d appreciate it if you’d share with me your happy stories of pregnancy after an ectopic one! And if there’s anything in particular that helped you grieve and cope, it’s all welcome.

    1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      No experience, but I’m so glad that you’re okay. Thank goodness! And wishing you best of luck on your journey to another wonderful kid.

    2. Generic Name*

      A good friend of ours had an ectopic between her first and second. She conceived I think less than a year after her tube was removed.

    3. allathian*

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      A friend had an ectopic pregnancy when she was 35 and pregnant with her first and she needed emergency surgery to remove her fallopian tube. Two years later she got pregnant again and her son’s 13, like mine.

      Good luck!

    4. Pocket Mouse*

      I’m so glad it didn’t turn into a larger health crisis. No personal experience with an ectopic pregnancy, but I do know someone who had one and later had two healthy, thriving kids. Wishing you the best going forward!

  45. Epsilon Delta*

    Noise canceling headphones question. I live in a one story, 1100sq foot house (so, small and all the rooms are on top of each other) with my husband and stepdaughter. I work from home and in the evenings I study online for my masters degree. It is So Hard to tune out the noise that carries from the other rooms. Totally reasonable noises like cooking, tv at a reasonable volume, vacuuming, conversations. I close the door in my office and it does nothing to dampen the noise. Sometimes it is like the noise is even louder in my office than if I go into the room where it’s happening. The office shares walls with the kitchen/living room, so I suspect that’s why closing the door doesn’t help.
    Would noise canceling headphones be an effective way to silence all the background noise? Do they still work well if the noise is irregular like voices? Also, I have a small head, so would the headphones fit securely enough on me to work properly? I would need something that fits an average 12-14 year old.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Noise canceling headphones definitely help—but you have to manage your expectations—they’re not a total silencing of all noise. As an analogy, if the problem is being cold, it’s more like being wrapped in a blanket than having the the heat turned on. And if you play light instrumental music you may find it’s better.

      I use Bose over-the-ear ones and they fit fine (I’m a size 7 baseball cap). But I’ve seen folks with noise canceling earbuds that might work better for you—me I hate the buds in my ears thing and so went with the over the whole ear type.

      Downside of them is that (I’m told) I get very loud talking in video calls with them in—I can’t hear any ambient sounds so I’ve become a poor judge of my own volume. To address that I just scootch one of the ears out from under its cover.

    2. SG*

      Noise canceling headphones don’t work as well for irregular sounds like voices, but they will help some. They work better for blocking more steady background noises like an airplane engine or general office din. You may want to also experience with isotunes earbuds which are noise-blocking (kind of like earplugs combined with earbuds). Also, I have some sensory sensitivity, and someone recommended Quies brand wax earplugs a few years back, which were a total life-changer! Much better than any earplugs I’ve ever tried. Good luck!

      1. I heart my NC headphones*

        I’m gonna swoop in here and say, this wasn’t true for me. As long as the irregular sound is at least a little muffled, in another apartment unit or outside, NC headphones take care of it for me.

        Obvs it doesn’t work if someone is standing there talking to me, but for 90% of the noise I need to cut out, conversation/TV around me, they work.

    3. RagingADHD*

      In addition to the headphones, can you insulate the shared wall? Hanging some blankets along the wall will help muffle it a lot.

      1. Violet Rutherford*

        In a similar vein, the things you slip under the door work way better than I expected at muffling noise. Looks like they’re called “draft stoppers”.

    4. Gatomon*

      A high-quality set of ANC headphones can help with voices, but bear in mind you have to be playing a sound through them. I used Sony WH-1000XM3s when I worked in an office, but they are not cheap.

      If you live near a Best Buy, they usually have demo units from Sony, Bose and other brands that you can try out to see how well they work before committing that kind of cash. I would’ve never bought the XM3s if I couldn’t try on the fit in store and see how well they actually canceled the ambient sound around me.

    5. Bob Howard*

      Have you tried ear plugs? A much cheaper solution, and normally you can hear doorbells/alarms/telephones through them.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had a pair of Amazon Basics over-the-ear headphones that could be either bluetooth or wired, they were comfortable to wear for several hours at a time, and my husband could literally walk into my office talking and stand there talking at me for a couple of minutes before I realized he was standing behind me at all.

      …unfortunately, now that I’ve typed that, I went to see if I could find a more specific description and according to my amazon order history, they are no longer available. :(

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love my headphones (I also have Bose over-ears– the 700s) and wear them constantly. They work best if you’re listening to something, so in your position I would find tolerable music or podcasts, whatever works best for you. When I’m listening to a podcast or a show, I can’t hear any talking (which is annoying when someone wants to get my attention).


      I’d do noise cancelling headphones and a white noise machine together. You could also try loop earplugs

    9. Bath water*

      I have a small head too, and I have a pair of Beats noise-cancelling over the ear headphones for home and I wear Snugs ear muffs at work (with Apple earbuds in as well if I want music/sound). I personally don’t like white noise – it makes my brain feel weird and tingly – but the Beats have a good noise-canceling white noise feature, and I sometimes use the white noise track in the Balance meditation app if I need to really block out a noisy conversation or something.

    10. I heart my NC headphones*

      I find NC headphones work for muffled noises and/or noises in another unit. Not sure how well they’d work for noises in your same unit (for instance, they quiet but do not shut out people talking in the same room as me).

      That said, I delayed a LONG while on buying NC headphones because most people said, oh, they only work for droning/consistent noise, like airplanes, and I desperately needed them to deal w/ apartment complex noises. Finally buckled and bought a cheap pair –– <$100 for Sony Anker and they were lifesavers. 100% recommend.

      This is what I'd recommend –– find someone within your price point, try them out, and then if they help, you can go more expensive if you think you need more benefit

  46. Bibliovore*

    Japan- this might be a fantasy but I have an opportunity to go to Tokyo for work in the middle of the July.
    I know I have to start making a plan now.
    I want to work for about 4 to 5 days then at least ten days vacation.
    I am already dealing with disability (using one cuff crutch for mobility and have trouble with a lot of walking and stairs)
    I have money saved so can travel with ease (taxis etc)
    What shouldn’t I miss?
    Things I love
    Libraries, Museums, Bookstores, Shrines, Hot baths, and food!
    I will be participating in exhibit at the Play Museum.
    I will traveling alone so will limit my luggage.
    Any other tips?

    1. Lifelong student*

      If you will be staying in Tokyo the whole time- but want to see more- there are one day tours which can be taken. I think they leave from the main bus terminal. We used a travel agency in Japan to book them. JTB dot com. Worked out well for us. They picked us up at our hotel. We really enjoyed Japan. Everything is so clean and people are very helpful. The trains and subway anouncements are made in English as well as Japanese. Did not have one bad experience!

    2. the cat's ass*

      I wish you a wonderful trip! The Ghibli Museum is sweetly surreal tho you might have to get a travel agent to make your ticket reservation, as they start booking out 90 days in advance. The “Hello Sandwich” guidebook by Ebony Bizyz also has some fun ideas, tho is a bit out of date (eg, the robot and monster cafes are gone). There are cat cafes (if you like cats) .There is also a great Art Museum in Yokohama if you’re up for a train ride.

    3. Reba*

      Sounds lovely! You will probably want to spend some days in Kyoto (historic buildings, temples, galleries, gardens) and with tours and/or the bullet trains it’s possible to do a lot of day trips from there even to Hiroshima. For baths there are many places known as “onsen villages” or towns like Kinosaki with lots of different onsen to visit, you could probably organize a whole trip around hot spring-hopping! There is a website Accessible-Japan dot com that has detailed posts about access and mobility concerns for a number of attractions.

    4. Filosofickle*

      It’s an obvious suggestion, but the Tokyo National Museum in Ueno Park — and the surrounding park itself — made a really nice afternoon. If I’d had time, it would have made a nice day! I was there end of June and it was extremely hot with rain storms. Pack a good umbrella, for rain and sun.

      One of the quirky things to know is that restaurants tend to be clustered by type, so a whole restaurant and a whole street of restaurants may be yakitori or okonomiyaki! Drop me on a katsu street and I may never leave.

      I was visiting my elderly aunt and uncle, and due to their mobility they took me on a bus tour around the city which dropped us in a few spots (Imperial Palace, Tokyo Tower etc). It ended at Asakusa (which is touristy but cute and compact), and from there we road a boat back down the Sumida River. It was a good way to hit some highlights without having to walk so much.

      A small pleasure is how much I enjoyed the department store windows of kimonos and massive ceiling umbrella displays in Ginza.

    5. acmx*

      I’m headed out but a couple of things:

      You could have luggage delivered, if needed. Look at japan-guide dot com under plan a trip>luggage. I’ll link in a reply. Also, japan-guide is wonderful for planning a trip.

      I’d recommend a tourist Japan Rail pass.

      Navigating Tokyo/Japan is extremely easy.

    6. Poppy*

      If you have some time for videos, I’d recommend the King Kogi channel. It’s run by a vlogger named Martina who lives in Tokyo, and she always has great tips for people visiting for the first time.

    7. Japan Recs*

      We lived in Tokyo for 15 years and loved it! I miss it so much.

      If you can, go to Kyoto which is the old capital and has tons of wonderful temples to see. Among my favorites – Kyomizudera, Kinkakuji, Ginkakuji, Sanjusangendo, Ryoanji rock garden, and Fushimi Inari shrine (lots of red tori gates). Kiyomizudera and Fushimi Inari may be challenging with mobility issues. The Gion district is cool to walk through, especially at twilight and there are nice touristy shops to visit in the area.

      In Tokyo, here are some things I would recommend (in addition to many of the popular tourist attractions).

      Take a stroll in Jiyugaoka. Lots of cafes, shops, restaurants and pleasant to walk through.

      If you like sushi, experience kaiten (conveyor belt) sushi. Just take a seat, watch the sushi move by and pick what you like. You can eat as little or as much as you like.

      The Nezu museum is a small museum in Omotesando with a very nice garden out back. There’s a small cafe with tea and sweets you can sit in with a large glass window looking out on the garden. I can’t speak to how accessible it is though – the garden steps/walkway are uneven for sure. It’s a nice quiet museum though, a bit off the beaten path of most tourists however.

      Take an overnight trip to Hakone. Stay at a ryokan overnight to experience a Japanese style kaiseki dinner and a hot spring bath. Please be aware that hot springs mean communal baths, so you must be ok being naked in front of others. Some ryokans will have family baths you can reserve, which means you could bath in private.

      If you don’t leave Tokyo – there are Day Hot Springs where you can experience hot spring baths, and lounge around watching TV, sitting in saunas, eating in restaurants and getting massages. Again, must be ok being naked in front of others. Check out Spa LaQua as an example.

    8. Mari*

      I’m an American who has lived in Tokyo long enough to no longer have a tourist’s perspective. But I think it’s hard to limit walking and stairs in Tokyo without planning, so I would start there. Choose a hotel that busses to and from the airport stop at, and that is near a station with both up and down escalators, or elevators, to all platforms. When you plan your itinerary, notice and build in lighter days after more walking days.
      I agree with JTB tours – they have a good reputation and you can ask them about the amount of walking involved. I also agree that Japan Guide is a good source, and they have a section where you can ask questions.
      The above is going on your still using a crutch, but I know by July you might be getting around a lot better.

      I would suggest Hakone for an overnight onsen stay. It’s famous for them, is an easy, short trip outside Tokyo and has nice views of Mt. Fuji. If you are going to splurge on a hotel, this should be the place as you can get some gorgeous views, baths and meals included in the price. Something to consider is that a lot of traditional onsen beds are futons on on tatami mat floors, so if that will be a problem you will want to check on what other options there are.

      I would also suggest going to Kyoto for a few days. It’s a fairly short trip by Shinkansen, and the shrines and temples are better there. But check out the access in advance – sometimes it’s a long gravel or dirt path to the shrine/temple, but I don’t remember which ones those are.

      If you don’t end up going to Kyoto, check out a day tour of Kamakura. It has a lot of interesting shrines and is nicknamed Little Tokyo.

      If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

  47. Dark Macadamia*

    I posted a few weeks ago about feeling like groceries/errands eat up too much of my weekend, and wanted to thank everyone for their responses! I hadn’t mentioned in the post that I dislike order pickup because of ending up with the wrong type of onion or a weird substitution, missing out on impulse buys, etc. Your comments helped me stop thinking of it as an “all or nothing” type thing and I’ve started doing order pickup for packaged things and other stuff I don’t mind someone else choosing, and then doing a quick produce run when I pick up the rest. It’s working pretty well, with the added bonus that I’m generally being more mindful of how I use my time in other areas too!

  48. Lizard*

    I’m hosting book club this week, and we read Hench (inspired by the Ask a Manager recs).

    1. The host provides an appetizer and dessert, and I usually try to make my contributions align with the book somehow. I’ve been thinking about trying an excel-inspired cake, but I’m a little stumped for an appetizer. If I’m doing a cake, then the rest will need to be fairly simple. I may just drop the theme for the app, but I thought I would see if anyone has any suggestions.

    2. Hench gave me similar vibes to The Rook by Daniel O’Malley, which I also love (supernatural organizations, an appreciation for administrative acumen, similar humor, overall a fun read). Any recommendations for the next time I’m in the mood for this style of book?

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Excel sheet cake—love it on so many levels!!! Hats off to you for making it—I’d probably go with just using the “while you were out” note sheets as plate liners and serve plain cake on it (cause really, they are trying to have their cake and eat it too—but mostly cause I’m lazy).

    2. GoryDetails*

      1. Re a “Hench”-themed appetizer – the first thing that came to my mind was a pretzel {wry grin}. But you could probably set out anything you wanted and add signs naming them after various characters – Electric Eel Onion Dip, that kind of thing.

      2. For something a bit similar, try The Sidekicks Initiative by Barry J. Hutchison; it also deals with the darker aspects of the superhero biz, especially as regards all those under-age wards and orphans they’d put in harm’s way in the comics. Quite funny in places, grisly in others – I enjoyed it.

      On the less superhero side of a job-themed novel: The Thing in the Snow by Sean Adams is about a tiny skeleton crew doing rather pointless “maintenance” tasks in an otherwise-abandoned research facility in some apparently-arctic region (the whole building is a story-and-a-half deep in permanent snow). It’s… very bizarre, and oddly intriguing.

    3. Lizard*

      Thank you both! I love the plate liners idea and pretzels made me laugh – I might need to do that!

  49. Prospect Gone Bad*

    Where are people finding comfortable shoes if they have joint issues or back issues and can no longer get by just wearing anything? Any particular online or real life store? I went out yesterday with a wad of cash and came home pretty disillusioned last night with nothing. This may be a more meta topic to retail, but I felt like everything was cheap in price and cheap in quality I’d rather pay more and get something I can walk far and run in without feeling like I don’t have support for my feet etc. I also felt like every place is understaffed and understocked and is used to people just browsing, so they sort of ignore you. But I also live in a busy HCOL area so maybe they’re used to tourists or something.

    1. fposte*

      Brick and mortar apparel is for stuff that moves fast; that’s what b&m customers tend to want, and that’s also the best way to pay the price of staffing and rental. In apparel, that favors the cheap and quickly made. Customers often prefer to shop on their own and businesses usually prefer to cheap out on staff.

      I have wide feet, so I’ve been mail-order shopping for decades before it went online. You get a better selection, and reputable vendors have good return policies because it’s the only way to retain customers. A lot of shoe vendors, including Zappo’s, will also let you order through Amazon if that’s easier, and between those two sites you’re likely to find plenty of useful reviews. I personally pretty much stick to Clark’s, Hoka One Ones, and Skechers, and I buy large enough for reasonably thick socks or even unreasonably thick socks.

    2. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      I order SAS shoes — generally pretty comfy, and some styles come in super-wide sizes.

      Depending on where you live, there might be a specialty footwear store near you that deals in orthopedic shoes, like Eneslow (or something like that) in New York City.

    3. jasmine tea*

      Vionic is my go-to. I have scoliosis and patello-femoral syndrome, so my back and one knee are a wreck. Their shoes are expensive and dowdy, but supportive and comfortable.

      1. GiantKitty*

        Dowdy? I wouldn’t call platform lug sole sandals dowdy by any stretch of the imagination LOL.

    4. Voluptuousfire*

      I have arthritis in my big toe on my right foot so I tend to stick with Merrell (summer everyday sporty sandals), Dansko (clogs for everyday and cute sandals) and Brooks for sneakers. Alegria shoes can be good and I recommend QVC for that with easy pay options and easy returns.

      If you want a brick and mortar store, try The Walking Store.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      For my specific problems–I need to mimic being barefoot–Merrell.

      I believe my mall has a store called something like the Walking Store, that has good quality shoes geared to walking.

    6. Manders*

      For athletic shoes I go to a running store. I’m usually fitted in Brooks or Adidas shoes after they examine how I walk. For women’s ballet flats, I’m very picky and I like the brand Me Too – the band around the top of the shoe is more flexible than other brands.

      1. Neurodivergent in Germany*

        Seconding the Brooks, specifically the Glycerine (ultrasoft soles). I have flat feet and plantar fasciitis.

    7. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Have a look at the barkingdogshoes .com site, there’s a lot of info on there; someone else recommended it on here a few years ago. It helped clarify what sort of shoes would best fit my feet for sure

    8. Imtheone*

      Ziera brand shoes. Almost all will take additional insoles to get more support. Can be pricey, but I got some cute walking shoes on sale in February.
      Cosyfeet, from the UK, but with a U.S. distributor. “Comfort for extra wide and swollen feet.” I have the extra wide feet.”

    9. Pamela Adams*

      I’ve found that brick and mortar stores offering pedorthic services are a good source for good supportive shoes.

    10. beach read*

      Sketchers saved my life…er….feet. I usually buy them at DSW. Worth all the pennies I pay for them.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        I got my first Skechers recently at a Shoe Carnival Store, which was filled with comfort shoes. Maybe it’s a result of all the working from home people discovering life beyond heels? There’s also a Skechers outlet not too far from me, but my wallet is afraid to let me go there yet.

    11. GiantKitty*

      I’ve had foot & leg pain issues my entire life and currently wear these brands of shoes: Fluevogs, Crocs, SAS, and for sneakers, Nike Air.

  50. Wooded Lots*

    Are there any real estate apps that have a category of wooded lots in the search options? Redfin, Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor do not. I’ve found a few specialty sites geared toward hunting cabins and vacation/ski chalets, but I just want a regular house that happens to be in the woods. I know of certain properties in my area that fit the criteria, but stalking individual addresses in case people decide to move is not exactly efficient.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      What about using the key word “woods” in the search? Redfin allows for that

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I found google maps really useful for questions about the feel of the neighborhood/look of the house from the road. Both the street view and satellite view, for judging tree levels.

    3. Generic Name*

      If you are working with a realtor you can tell them you only want homes on wooded lots and let them do all the legwork of finding properties.

    4. Roland*

      With those websites, your best bet is just a keyword search. An actual category/filter relies on that info being entered in, which isn’t something they can guarantee – zillow/redfin website staff don’t populate that info themselves, it’s the listing owners.

  51. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    What do you do with lanolin? I got a little jar because it was $5 and I was already paying shipping, but now I don’t know what to do with it. I tried using it as a moisturizer, but it’s so sticky, which feels unpleasant and is impossible to spread.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      I only know it as old-school diaper rash treatment. It creates a waterproof seal with skin (or claims to)

    2. fhqwhgads*

      It’s good for skin with serious abrasions (I think that’s the word?) Like cracked or rubbed raw. Not so much a moisturizer in a general sense, but more like if you’ve got major “ouch” it’ll help protect it and feel less raw.

      1. Camelid coordinator*

        That is how I use it. When my nose is super-red and chafed when I have a cold, some Lanolin overnight works wonders.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I used it for chafing when breastfeeding, and would highly recommend it for that narrow application.

      After being given it by various surgeons I use Aquaphor, which is basically vaseline + lanolin, on any healing scar or super dry patch of skin. If you have any unsupple skin patches, I’d recommend trying the lanolin there.

      Other thought is to get an old pair of socks, and before bed lather up your feet in lanolin, then put the socks on.

    4. Fellow Traveller*

      I use it on my lips in place of aquaphor sometimes.
      Also I use it when I hand wash wool diaper covers, to make them a little more water resistant. Not sure if that has a function beyond diaper covers, though…

    5. Paris Geller*

      I’ve been told it’s a great overnight lip treatment–I’ve never used straight lanolin, but my favorite overnight lip balm had lanolin as the main ingredient, so when I run out of my current tubes I’m gonna try it (RIP Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask. You were pricey, but you worked so well).

    6. jasmine tea*

      It can work for slugging. After doing your night routine (wash and moisturize), apply a very thin layer on top, to lock in the treatments. It supercharges the effects of the products.

    7. Vanessa*

      If it’s in a tube,put it in your pocket. It’s easier to use when warmed. It’s great for dry spots. Elbows. Over washed hands. Dry feet. Lips. Dog pads. Faces.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I’ve heard of people using it to moisturize hands and feet overnight by slathering up and then wearing gloves or socks over their hands or feet. (Some people wear socks on their hands while they sleep.) I’ve also heard of people using it as a shaving cream, like for shaving their legs.

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      It’s good as cuticle cream, especially when paired with another moisturizer on your hands and a pair of cotton gloves. Wear for 15 minutes or overnight to get the best results.

  52. anon24*

    Today on a whim I purchased 6 duck eggs and a small package of quail eggs. I have never had either, but have been trying to broaden my food pallette. What are some good ways to cook these or good easy recipes with them? I’m so excited to try them.

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      my housemate used to hard boil or fry the quail eggs. always looked tastey.

    2. StellaBella*

      Where I am, tho I have not tried this, quail eggs are eaten sometimes with raclette. The raclette cheese is placed on its cooking tray with an onion ring on top and the egg cracked inside the ring, over the cheese, then roasted. More on raclette is noted in its wikipedia article.

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

      We have 6 quails and get 4 or5 eggs daily from our feisty little girls. My wife usually makes hard boiled with them to serve us, but I don’t know if she cooks with them otherwise. She cooks, I vacate the area.

    4. Quail eggs*

      hard boil the quail eggs and make Chinese/Vietnamese Bao (steamed buns) with the eggs & pork. Or boil them, put them on a skewer, salt and lightly grill. Or you could wrap small pieces of bacon around them and grill. Quail eggs are common in Japanese Yakitori (grilled skewers of chicken).

  53. Anonosaurus*

    My fridge freezer is coming to the end of its service life. Fortunately I have savings and can replace it, but I’m slightly bewildered by the amount of choice (not for the first time when it comes to appliances). I know I want frost free, energy efficient and I don’t care about the colour. Are there any other parameters people would recommend considering?

    1. Happily Retired*

      Your “fridge freezer” is dying. So you’re replacing a fridge-with-freezer, or just a separate freezer?

      If the former, I STRONGLY recommend a fridge with a bottom freezer, ideally a pull-out drawer. This puts the fridge’s veg drawers much closer to eye level and makes it easy to root around in the freezer drawer.

      1. Lemondrops*

        I use my freezer a lot, but it’s on the bottom, which is awful for me. i’m often bending (which is not good for my bad back), and no matter how I try to organize it im always digging through it to find something. When it dies i’m getting a side-by-side!
        I suggest thinking about how you use or want to use your appliance and get the best fit for you.

        1. fposte*

          And for the space! I would like a side by side–a friend has a bottom freezer and I really dislike it–but my fridge space isn’t big enough, so it’ll just be another top freezer. I guess the advantage to the small space is even a top freezer doesn’t go that high up.

      2. Bluebell*

        I know a lot of people love the freezer door on the bottom, but I have had intermittent back problems over the past decade, so I knew that it wouldn’t work for me. In a perfect world I wouldn’t have done the side-by-side thing, but I needed to get some thing that fit, right, and side-by-side was my only option. It was a little bit of an adjustment from the fridge that I had had for 20+ years.

    2. ronda*

      I think the biggest thing is that you get one that fits in the space.
      make sure you get the door opening in the correct direction for your space. (I think they can switch this, but just make sure they do it the way you want)

      my sister has crushed ice via an in door dispenser. I like that. but it is noisy. (dont really care about the water in door / full cubes that are also an option in her fridge door)

      I do also like having the freezer on the bottom and an ice maker

      1. Chaordic One*

        Get the fridge with the door facing the way you want. Yes, they can change the doors to make it face the way you want, but my experience has been that they almost never get them right after they do and they’re always a little “off.” Personally I love my side-by-side and prefer it to having the freezer on either the top of bottom.

        I would also recommend looking at “Consumer Reports” magazine and see what they say with regards to reliability. Your library probably carries it, but the subscription for online or mail is fairly reasonable.

        1. GiantKitty*

          I’ve had top & bottom freezer before and hate them both equally. They are difficult to organize and I can never find anything.

          Side by side is the only way to go.

    3. Squidhead*

      If it were me I would go to an appliance store (or Lowe’s/ Home Depot) and touch some of the fridges. Try the freezer-on-the bottom and see whether you think it’s better or worse than the veggie-crisper-on-the-bottom style. Try the split-fridge doors…one of them usually has to be opened to allow the other one to open and you have to close them in the right order for the seal to work, so check that out and see what you think. If you want cold water or ice on the door, see how those options work and how much space they take up. Could you fill a water bottle? If you don’t want water/ice, I personally wouldn’t buy a fridge that had them. Think about your normal cooking and storage containers. Can you put a 2-liter bottle in upright? Could you defrost a turkey and still have room for other things? Long ago my family had a side-by-side fridge and the freezer side was nice and tall but each shelf was only like 11″ wide which meant that a standard casserole pan wouldn’t fit at all. Once you’ve put your hands on several, you might have a better idea of which features you like and which you want to avoid.

      1. ThatGirl*

        We have a French door fridge and you can open either top door independently. We wanted that style over a side by side because you can’t fit wide things in a side by side.

        I recommend against water in door – they take up a lot of space and are prone to need repair.

    4. Jessica*

      I bought a new fridge recently after an enormous amount of thought and research and I’m delighted with my choice. In going out and looking at them I discovered all sorts of features and choices I hadn’t anticipated, such as: smart fridges that talk to your phone and have interior cameras and all kinds of crazy stuff; cold water dispenser inside, which seems to be very trendy; quick-access compartment that you can open without opening the whole door; compartment that can be a fridge or freezer as you prefer (this model basically had 4 doors of which 2 were fridge, 1 was freezer, and the 4th could go either way according to your need).

      I knew from the start I wanted to try a bottom freezer. The final deciding factor for me was that the one I chose had the best crisper drawers–roomy, and running smoothly on little wheels instead of just scraping in and out. And adjustable controls to create a more suitable environment for fruit vs. veg.

      Other things to think about: are the shelves adjustable? are the door shelves or bins adjustable? what about the meat/cheese drawer? how deep are the door bins, and how tall? what’s the tallest thing you’re ever likely to put in your fridge and where can it go? what’s the largest thing you’re likely to put in the fridge and is there room for it? do you want an icemaker, setup for an optional icemaker you can add later, or none? do you want ice/water in the door outside? finally, this may seem frivolous, but it was important to me: some fridge exteriors these days are not magnetic. I literally carried a magnet when I went shopping and stuck it on fridges to make sure I could.

  54. Elle*

    Meal prep alert! Smitten Kitchen’s new bean and veggie burritos are very good. Lots of filling leftover.

    1. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Thanks for reporting! I was thinking of trying them but now I definitely will.

  55. cat help*

    Does anyone have any experience with having a cat with a heart murmur spayed?
    I have an 8 month old cat, and the affordable clinics won’t spay her because she has a heart murmur (level 2-3 according to the vet) and might need special anesthesia. Unless I spend $600 for an echocardiogram first, before $400 for the spay and $60 for her vaccines. Not having her spayed isn’t an option, shes an indoor cat but an escape risk when shes in heat and there are unfixed male strays in the area. Any suggestions to make it safer would be much appreciated.

    1. my cat too*

      I got my cat when she was 10, had a heart murmur and was already spayed. The cat has had anesthesia several times since I’ve had her, and no one has mentioned special anesthesia to me. Including twice last fall, once for an ultrasound of her heart.

    2. I'm Done*

      Unless you’ve already done so, take her to another vet and see what they tell you. I am currently switching to another vet because they would always want to go the most expensive route to squeeze every penny out of me and after getting some feedback from my local community forum I realized that they are practically charging double from what most other vets in the area are charging. This might not be the case with you but another opinion never hurts.

      1. Cat and dog fosterer*

        Or call / email around to a bunch of vets to see if they would be willing to spay a cat with a 2-3 murmur without the echocardiogram. It would be irritating to do actual visits to different vets only to find out that it wasn’t helpful.

        I have called around to find out what different vets charged for a basic procedure so that I could avoid the really expensive places, and I think that’s a fair thing to do. I adopted a dog who got vetting at one place and I returned there when she got sick, only to find out that they were unusually expensive for regular things and gave me a lot of unnecessary treatments for the illness. After that experience I called around, found a clinic with a good reputation that had an average cost, and am much happier.

        A cat spay with a heart murmur is very specific so makes sense to ask around.

        1. Squeakrad*

          How much for the special Anastasia Park? Is it cheaper than the echocardiogram? It’s one of those things where she’ll probably be fine, but if she isn’t… my understanding is they have to be ready to adjust the anesthesia if something happens to the heart while she’s under. And maybe your vet doesn’t want to bother to have to watch that closely? I think getting a second opinion is a good idea, but it also involves a risk.

  56. Lemondrops*

    I haven’t seen anything like my question yet – how do decide where your furniture goes? I have two big rooms, one in Northside of house, one in south but doesn’t get direct sunlight (just 2 skylights and window above door). I like being in the southern room but it has an awkward layout and currently the TV gets a lot of glare where it can go.
    The Northside room has more options but i live next to a family with many kids and they enjoy their outside time, which i’m fine with but makes hearing a TV difficult.
    Since I have no clear direction I thought i’d ask what you do to determine furniture home and orientation (don’t tell me you just put it where it fits as that’s not helpful to me)…
    hmm is this what a designer would do?

    1. Mangofan*

      I am very curious what ChatGPT would suggest if you ask it this question. It feels like the sort of question where it might have a good answer, or at least once that gets your creative juices flowing.

    2. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      When I have moved house I have measured the rooms and drawn them on graph paper, and measured the furniture and made cut out shapes that I could then move around to see what would fit. All the fun with none of the messing about with heavy furniture that turns out to be just a bit too big etc.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I have done that too, but there are computer programs that will do the same without the work of drawing/cutting.

    3. Missb*

      I’ve lived in my house for 20+ years, and it’s still a challenge to arrange the living room furniture in a way that works well. I feel like I’ve tried every configuration under the sun. I’m currently very happy with the layout, though I’m still missing a piano so the room seems empty on one end.

      But looking at layouts and Pinterest photos of how people arrange their rooms helps. Even scrolling thru real estate ads on Zillow and Redfin has helped. Houzz’s community pages are handy for providing photos and rough schematics and getting good feedback.

      Good luck!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Do any of your friends have a good design sense? Some people are naturally gifted in this area, or have honed their skill over time.

      A lot of mine is functional (and a good designer would start there)–in the room where I am currently sitting there is one long wall without a window or staircase, so that gets the couch. The TV is in a corner where you can see it easily from the couch. Next to the front door is a set of shelves to collect shoes on the bottom and other items on the top. (Where the face masks still live.)

    5. Melonerz*

      If the TV placement works outside of the kid noise, maybe just do a separate Bluetooth speaker closer to the seating area? Or add a sound bar?

      If you’re interested in having someone show you options, you probably want an e-designer

  57. Manders*

    Any recommendations for preventing cats from chewing on houseplants? I just bought a prayer plant. According to the internet it’s not toxic to cats. Which is great, because I cannot seem to stop either of them from chewing it to smithereens. I have very few places to display houseplants where the kitties can’t get to them, so I was hoping that some pet-friendly plants would be OK. If I sprayed it lightly with one of those bitter spray deterrents, would that kill the plant?

    1. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Lost my reply somewhere – anyway, would you consider getting the cats some plants of their own? Chewing your plant shows they like to chew a plant, play with some fronds etc – those aren’t ‘bad’ behaviours or anything, after all. Just not what you want for your special plant! My indoor cat had a pot of cat grass and a pot of catmint in the house, that she regularly chewed on or ate or smooched with pleasure. We actually had two pots of each so the plants only had a week inside before being moved outside for a week of rest and recovery!
      A previous cat who had garden access was always sniffing or biting or chewing on a leaf or a twig etc. I was concerned one day to see her chomping into a small red chilli – but apparently cats don’t have chilli receptors so she was unperturbed! Some cats enjoy a leafy stick of celery, perhaps that would be an interesting alternative for their curiosity.

      1. Manders*

        Yeah, I was trying to avoid doing the cat grass thing. My older boy, Bruce, loves to chew on grass but it makes him barf. Nacho has never tried the grass, but she’ll probably do the same. But I guess I’ll try that – Bruce certainly likes it, and I have some seeds and pots ready to go. Thanks!

      2. Helvetica*

        I don’t have potted plants for this reason but still like getting cut flowers. Cat grass is my solution too. I think she just loves green stuff but if she has that, she does not touch the flowers.
        The hairball vomit is an annoyance but I’ll put up with it as long as she leaves the other stuff alone.

      3. Courageous cat*

        I’ve had success in the past with putting orange peels in the soil for a while.

    2. kina lillet*

      Try putting it in a different spot, and sticking some cat grass in its current spot? They clearly want to chew some greenery; maybe that in combination with something stinky on the houseplant could help.

    3. Aphrodite*

      Alas, I find that either the plants will kill the cats or the cats will kill the plants. The former is not going to happen and it hurts me to see (three to date) Boston ferns slowly die. For some odd reason they don’t bother the supermarket orchids I occasionally buy but otherwise I stick to faux. I haven’t found any other options because they just will not leave live plants or flowers alone.

    4. Samwise*

      Put it where the cat can’t get it. I have a notorious plant eater. Plants. Flowers in vases. Basil. Romaine. My potted plants are at the office. I have small pots on some inaccessible shelves at home. And flower boxes outside several windows, so I can have plants almost inside

    5. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I would try the bitter spray. Bitter Apple (the oldest of the brands) says that it is safe on plants.

      Is the plant on a table or other flat surface? Could you put it on some tinfoil that is wide enough that it keeps the cats at some distance? This won’t be a good long-term solution because it makes your surface unusable but might be worth trying until the cats lose interest.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        I came here to suggest the same thing! A friend with cats has all of their plants in birdcages, and they look so good I have considered getting a bird cage for some of my plants even though I don’t have cats.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Yep, I repurposed a small dog crate last summer to keep a couple of plants out on my back deck safe from a puppy wanting to dig in the dirt and it worked great. (Also kept the plants from blowing away when we had a few storms.

    6. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      I have two very determined plant destroyers and the only real solution I’ve come up with is to put them out of reach. I mounted a bunch of shelves in strategic places where the cats don’t have a good launching point to get up there, and then put so many pots on the shelves that there’s nowhere to land even if they do. (This failed as a deterrent only once, and no plants were completely squashed.) I also have a glass Ikea cabinet full of plants, but it took quite a bit of setup so I recommend the shelves route to start! I also have a couple non-toxic “sacrificial” plants that sit in reach of the cats, and after a while they seem to leave them alone. I definitely still find teeth marks in the leaves sometimes but the the novelty seems to have worn off somewhat after a year or so.

      If you have small plants, you can also find some cute mini greenhouses that fit on a side table or something similar (Ikea has one of these as well!). Although, I don’t know if I can completely recommend this avenue either because my cat eventually broke mine by lying on top of it all the time…but it worked for a while. Alternately, something like a small aquarium with a lid would also work, though it’s a less attractive solution.

    7. GiantKitty*

      We have a very large houseplant that my cat used to eat all the time, and we found that the bitter spray deterrents didn’t work with her AT ALL. She still ate it. My husband had to make a “cage” of deer fencing to keep her out of it.

    8. Manders*

      Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I started some cat grass over the weekend, so maybe if they have a dedicated plant of their own that will work. I know the bitter spray works to prevent Bruce from chewing stuff (pictures on the walls! woodwork around my windows!), so I might also try that at the same time as they get the cat grass, so they know which one is theirs and which isn’t. I just have so few places in my house to put plants out of reach of them…

  58. Choggy*

    Recommendations of books that provide a sense of what it’s like to live in another country that is not the US?

    1. StellaBella*

      Maybe Under the Tuscan Sun? Normal People (Sally Rooney)? Chocolat (Joanne Harris)? The Salt Path and The Wild Silence (Raynor Winn)?

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Italian here. If you’re up for a longer commitment, I recommend the Neapolitan Novels series by Elena Ferrante. Reading all of them is pretty much a history lesson: there’s a very clear sense of how society, cities, work and the role of women changed in the country over the course of around 60 years.

      It can be intense reading, as the fictional plot is one of big feelings and a lot of introspection. For me, they were eye-opening, as the protagonists were born around the same time as my mother, and I learned so much about Italy in the years of her youth that I never heard from her.

      1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

        On the Italian note, I love, love, love the Inspector Montalbano mystery novels by Andrea Camilleri. The novels (and the tv series based on them, available on DVD) have definitely made me want to go to Sicily and see its beautiful landscapes, and I did get sort of a sense of what the rhythm of life might be there (at least for a bachelor policeman foodie).

    3. Irish Teacher*

      Oooh, some Irish ones:

      Suzy, Suzy. To be honest, I’m not even sure there’s that much of a plot between the random asides about Irishness, from references to The Late Late Show, Trócaire boxes, Irish politics, the relationship between the builders and politics, Irish history, etc…

      If you’re OK with kids’ books, there’s Marita Conlon-McKenna’s The Blue Horse. Specifically about a girl from the Travelling Community starting secondary, back…sometime around the 1990s when it was still relatively common for members of the Travelling Community to drop out of school around 12-14.

      Another kids’ book is Big Picture by Claire Hennessy, about the Leaving Cert. and the final year of school in Ireland.

      Anything by Patricia Scanlan. Her books mention things like specific shops and by this I don’t mean chains; I m