weekend open thread – May 27-28, 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: Yellowface, by R.F. Kuang. A satire about race and privilege and publishing and fame. After her writer friend dies in front of her, June Hayward steals her nearly-finished manuscript and passes it off as her own. I couldn’t put this down.

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

{ 935 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

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

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

    Do you have some fun planned to enjoy the holiday weekend, even if you’re not spending it with anyone?

    I’m going to re-watch *Romancing the Stone*, do a lot of reading in the tub, and maybe make some Cornflake chicken.

    1. takeachip*

      I’m finally catching up on yard work; plan is to do about 2 hours out there each day of the long weekend (starting today). Not sure that qualifies as fun but it will be satisfying once it’s done. I’m in a movie mood and I may even make it to a theater! “The Lost King” is free to rent on Amazon Prime right now so I’m about to start that up. Honestly I’m just looking forward to not having to be anywhere or do anything for anyone else. Just going to relax and get things in order around the house. Also wine.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have some work to get done on and off this weekend, but I’m planning to binge season 3 of The Mandalorian while knitting on a Star Wars scarf for a friend. I also need to make a couple new fleece tugs for my dogs, their old ones are getting gross and shredded. So basically Star Wars and crafting :)

    3. Sloanicota*

      It looks like the weather will be good until Monday here so I’m going to plan some big hikes with my dog. He is loving the mid 70s (hates the real heat).

    4. Missb*

      I’m hosting some family for a bbq. Hoping that they don’t stay here but of course they’re welcome to- I just haven’t spent any time cleaning upstairs yet.

      But bbq with family is always fun.

      Then I’ll be gardening. Memorial Day weekend is the traditional veggie garden planting for my area.

    5. Decidedly Me*

      I’m hoping to relax after an intense (not in a bad way) work week. My partner might be planning something, though, so we’ll see!

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I bought four bookcases, which are disappointingly small (but they were cheap so what did I expect). I think I’ll probably need more. Not gonna give up any books again.

      My birthday is Sunday so I may venture out somewhere and buy myself some lunch.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          LOL that will make it worse!
          But I got a library card today so I can borrow instead of buy. :)

    7. Nervous Nellie*

      Holy crapdoodles, what pray tell, is Cornflake Chicken? Would totally make this this weekend. That sounds like the perfect long weekend yum thing. Do tell!

      1. Clisby*

        Just a guess, but I’ve seen recipes for oven-fried chicken where you crush up cornflakes to make the crispy crust.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oooh. Ok. Found one especially nice recipe online and will tweak it a bit. Yeah – I am ON it! A good book and Cornflake Chicken. What a great weekend.

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

            Ooh, so glad you found an online recipe, as I am going to be looking up one as well! My go-to Cornflake Chicken recipe is from Jane and Michael Stern’s great cookbook covering American cooking from the 1920s to the 1960s, *Square Meals*, which I highly recommend, but my copy suffered a sad accident.

    8. One green bottle*

      A question about reading in the tub: How does this work? I sometimes sit cross legged, upright, in the bath with a book for a few minutes, but when I need to lie back in the bath and relax, holding my arms up to hold a book would be too… actively using my muscles. Does one use a bath pillow of some sort, or use something to lean the book/arms against, or what?

      1. allathian*

        We always had a tub when I was growing up, and I enjoyed reading in the bath in my teens and early 20s. I don’t remember having to use my muscles particularly actively when I did that. Granted, our bath was short enough that if I wanted my chest to be under water, I had to bend my knees. So I rested my elbow on my thigh or on the edge of the tub. We have a tub again, but I never use it because I’m afraid I can’t get out anymore without help…

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I used to do this when I was a kid but I kept dropping books in the water. Not the most coordinated person, lol.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, I did that too. That’s why I never read anything except old paperbacks in the bath, LOL.

      2. Not Australian*

        Some bath racks come with a flip-up section in the middle to hold your book – or electronic device, not that I’d risk that personally! However you’d probably still have to hold the book open, at least for a while. Some combination of a decent (wood or metal, rather than plastic) bath rack and a cushion for your neck would probably work, and maybe trying to stick with books that are relatively light in weight.

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

        True, it’s not the most relaxing with a heavy book — lighter is definitely better.

        For me, the idea scenario is having a cushion-y bath pillow to cradle my neck and an adjustable bath tray (I like the bamboo one from Umbra) on which to rest my book and maybe a cool drink. I throw a little lavender Epsom Salts in the bath tub, and I feel pretty relaxed.

      4. That wasn't me. . .*

        Use a bath tray, made to stretch from side to side. Most are adjustable, and they are usually actually baskets, made of coayed wire, so they don’t slip around. I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I think, or maybe Linens and Things but I have replaced mine at least once, so they’re not a one time fad. you can keep your razor and your pumice stone and tour sponge on it, or- better still – your book and uour drink.

      5. Lexi Vipond*

        I don’t really feel like I’m using my arms much more than if I’m sitting holding a book – I don’t hold the book above my head, just in front of me with my bent elbows in the water and my hands out of it. Head tipped forward against the end of the bath rather than flat back in the water, if that’s the missing piece of the puzzle.

    9. Kuddel Daddeldu*

      I’ll be building an Internet status display. I made one for my mom for mother’s day a few weeks back with great success, so I’ll do one for myself now.
      It’s a picture frame with a few LEDs that turn red or green, indicating if something works or not – the local WLAN, the internet router itself, “the internet” (Google as a stand-in), her email and the control box for her solar farm.
      Surprisingly easy to do build actually, just one microcontroller board (Wemos D1 mini), three pieces of wire, an LED strip with addressable RGB lights, an Ikea picture frame and an old mobile charger to power it. Total cost about $15-20 and the picture frame ($6) is the most expensive part.
      As the D1 has a WiFi chip, it needs no physical connection except for power.
      I plan to upload the build to GitHub or YouTube – when I thought about it I assumed there must be instructions out there already but could not find any.

    10. FRM*

      I’ll be at The Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends most of the next three days, BUT tomorrow is Championship Sunday for the Premier League (the ten final games of the season are all played at the same time, and two teams still need to be relegated, it is dramatic!). The past few years I’ve watched with my brother and we set up all our electronic devices so we can watch as many games as possible. He’s out of town this year, so I’m trying to arrange something with friends, and if that doesn’t work, I’m making myself a big brunch and watching solo.

      1. Citizen August*

        Getting ready for it now! Two TVs, mimosas, just my spouse and me. Good stuff! Also prepping myself for the post-season let down … I miss PL when it’s offseason.

    11. GoryDetails*

      My area (southern NH) is enjoying a spell of lovely weather, and I hope – *hope* – to get some yard-clearing done; lots of overgrown shrubs to prune back, invasive vines to thwart, and much more. I may fall back to the easier elements, such as setting up my self-watering planters for vegetables, but I dearly want to reclaim some of my yard – especially the bit with the hammock in it, so I can lounge out there and read and listen to the birds…

    12. carcinization*

      Hmm… I’m making naan to go with the dahl I’m also making later (usually I buy naan at the store, but I make it once in awhile), and we’re going to do a puzzle this afternoon as well. Tomorrow we’re going to check out a barbecue place that we’ve been wanting to try in a nearby larger city, and might also go to a vintage market pop-up at a brewery we like, or go to a drag brunch. Then Monday I’m making Sonoran hot dogs and some cheese dip. And I’ve read in the tub the last 2 days!

    13. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m going to watch Mad Max 3 again. (Haven’t seen it in ages.) I can’t stand Mel Gibson, but gosh do I miss Tina Turner tons already. I wished she had done more acting.

      Also bought another deck rail planter so I will get that installed and planted.

    14. BubbleTea*

      I don’t work Mondays anyway so the holiday weekends (we’ve had five Bank Holidays in two months in the UK) don’t make a lot of difference, but tomorrow we are going to watch a homemade go-kart race which should be fun! Also lots of laundry while the weather is perfect for drying.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m going on a hike with friends. It’s inland and usually too hot for me in that area by this time of year, but this weekend it’s cool so I’m looking forward to seeing a new trail. The Bay Area wildflower season is still amazing.

    16. Firebird*

      I’m staying with my son and we went to the Tampa Zoo today. It was my treat and since it was only about $25 extra to get a yearly pass, I bought the pass so he can take his roommate. His roommate is out of town and letting me use his room so it’s a gift they can both use.
      FYI, we used the overflow parking and it was less walking than the regular parking lot.
      The simians were very active and the orangutan trying to drink out of the hose being sprayed at him was hilarious.

    17. Database Developer Dude*

      I’m going to work on a couple of web sites for some clubs I’m in, but I’m going to do it at my local bar with my personal laptop. I’m also going to see the movie “Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret.”. On Memorial Day, I’m attending a BBQ given by the Worshipful Master (like a chapter president) of a Lodge that has been friendly and helpful to mine often.

    18. KellsBells*

      Hanging out with my BFF; it’s also my 55th (adult status at ladt, AARP’s been relentless lol) birthday tomorrow, so coming to grips with that. :)

    19. M&M Mom*

      Well, not exactly fun, but we continue to clean out my mom’s house as she is in a dementia facility. Today I found a box from college days. Lots of cards/letters from people I do not remember. My favorite find was my “Liquor ID“ I don’t remember exactly what was going on at the time, in the 80s, but at one point, I was grandfathered in to be able to buy alcohol at 19 even though I wasn’t 21 in the state of MA. My girls were a little surprised at how I looked,but I had to explain to them that this is how I looked in the 80s- lots of make up and my collar up

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

        Sending you strength as you do that house emptying — cleaning out a loved one’s house is a BIG job!

  3. sswj*

    Love the picture! We had a cat when I was a kid who would steal the cantaloupe balls out of the fruit salad :D

    Question for the masses –
    I’m looking to redo portions of my house, but I’m terrified of hiring the wrong person/people. How do you navigate that? And since I have things like kitchen remodeling, a new roof, and some outdoor plumbing to be done, would it make sense to hire a general contractor rather than the individual specialties?

    Any stories, good or bad, are welcome!

    1. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I would do the projects one by one and hire specialists.
      As for hiring the wrong person… I am a stickler for only working with licensed contractors who have set up a legal business entity, and I verify those independently. (I have a project out for bid now, and one of the contractors who came out for a bid told me he was a licensed contractor, I was not able to verify that, and when I asked him about it, he told me he meant he had a BUSINESS license. He’s not getting the job.) I ask for proof f liability insurance. I look at online reviews AND I look at any disciplinary actions from my state’s licensing bureau. I don’t necessarily rule out anyone who has a complaint, though. The last contractor we hired had a disciplinary action, and I was able to read over the documents and the contractor responded to and resolved the complaint to the client’s satisfaction within 60 days of the complaint being filed.
      And they were a good hire!

    2. old curmudgeon*

      When we needed work done on our house, we started by asking local friends who had had major upgrades done on their homes who had done the work and what they thought of the result. We got three recommendations, interviewed all three, checked their references, and settled on the one who specialized in remodeling older homes (as opposed to mainly building new with remodeling as a sideline) and who actually listened to what we wanted, as opposed to telling us what he’d give us.

      For the roof and probably for the outdoor plumbing work, you could work directly with a tradesperson as opposed to going through a general contractor, unless you want all the stuff done at the same time. For the kitchen remodel, I strongly suggest that you not try to coordinate all the various trades that will be involved yourself, especially since you want the work to be code-compliant. You want an expert to oversee that part.

      The one final recommendation I’d make is to keep in mind that quality work will not be cheap. Be wary of taking the lowest bid; it either may leave out thousands of dollars worth of required work that you won’t find out about until they present you with the bill at the end of the job, or you could be without a working kitchen for months and months. That happened to a coworker who selected the lowest bid on a bathroom remodel; they wound up with a port-a-potty in their back yard for almost a year, because the low bidder tore apart their only bathroom and then disappeared for about ten months.

      Good luck – I didn’t enjoy the process, but I am very happy with the result. Hope you get a similarly good outcome!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Re the lowest bid – I also find that the more honest contractor’s bid comes higher, and the other one gives a more optimistic bid and then acts like unforeseeable things came up that increased the price by the end, (things that the other contractor may have foreseen and included) so in the end you’ll pay the same/more and you’re rewarding deceptive bidding, or at least that was my experience. So ask about how they they plan to tackle unexpected costs as they go. It’s a pricey proposition all the way around, I find. I wish I had waited until I had a bigger buffer saved, or taken out a HELOC, or at least signed up for a new credit card with a longer payoff period for the new appliances etc.

    3. Denver Laurie 64*

      We hired an architect thru Houz. We told her want we wanted and she drew up plans. She arranged for 3 general contractors to meet with us and her at our house and with her input and reading reviews, hired a general contractor. It was a good decision. Our contractor has great employees and is a perfectionist. if something was not done perfectly with the subcontractors
      he spoke with them and it was redone.
      Any concerns we had. he took care of it.

    4. JSPA*

      I generally oversee myself, having first familiarized myself with the relevant code. Plus Angie’s List plus Nextdoor / asking neighbors (including checking with google that the person posting on nextdoor isn’t the spouse or the parent of the tradesperson being suggested). Plus using only people who are appropriately licensed and bonded / insured for any major, difficult, complicated or dangerous job. Plus I’ll ask their opinion of something that I know is not done right (that’s not part of the current job) and make sure that they are honest in their answer (even if they think they might be insulting my own handiwork).

      Be very much on the alert for someone who, instead of telling you that they can do what you are asking, instead assures you that you will “be happy with” what they do.

      There should be a contract and it should follow the rules for how much should be paid in advance (engagement and materials), upon starting and upon completion. I like to see start dates target completion dates and completion by dates in a contract.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I don’t have the answers, but I’ll share my experience. When I first moved into my fixer-upper, I hired a handyman that I found online and he managed a bunch of stuff for me – refinishing my floors, retiling the bathroom – I think as a contractor. He was great at doing things more piecemeal so I could afford it as we went, although not everything was quite perfect. But he sadly passed away during Covid, so when I had to hire someone to redo my kitchen, I hired a “kitchen and bath” company. That was maybe the most expensive option (like, really expensive), although they did do a nice job. I still have some big-ticket tasks to do but I’ll probably try to hire specialized contractors to do them each individually.

    6. Firebird*

      Try to check out the contractors in the circuit court system. My contractor seemed to have good references, but turned out to have 22 lawsuits filed against him. He never did finish the job and we had get someone else to finish the job.

    7. slowingaging*

      I hired some people thru Home Depot and thus far it has worked out. Also ask around.

    8. A person in retail*

      Agree on the picture, so cute! It’s so strange to me that cats would like cantaloupe, but I’ve heard they often do.

  4. HannahS*

    Laundry help for dirty people with very little time!

    My toddler’s clothes are (understandably) very dirty. Between cooking and feeding a toddler and being generally a bit sweaty, my clothes are also pretty dirty.

    Currently we use an “all-natural” detergent that doesn’t clean well and I’m using soaking and scrubbing and using oxyclean and dishsoap to get our clothes clean and, in short, NOPE.

    Please, parents and people with dirty jobs, give me your specific brand recommendations for unscented detergents and techniques for laundry.

    1. anon24*

      I used to be an EMT, spouse works a very dirty blue collar job. so, dirt, grease, sweat, assorted bodily fluids. We also are very sensitive to laundry detergents and broke out in rashes when we tried to switch to a more mainstream brand (I forget which one) I’ve used ecos laundry detergent in the past and liked it, but for the past 2 or 3 years I’ve been using Method. It’s great, a very little goes a long way, and if I’m running a really dirty load as far as sweaty clothing I’ve added a cup or so of white vinegar. For bodily fluids, hydrogen peroxide is your best friend.

      This also goes against every laundry rule, but I wash all my laundry in cold water and I don’t separate by color unless I have something truly delicate or that I know will bleed. The only thing I wash separate is bath towels. I’ve never had a problem with our clothing being clean.

      1. OyHiOh*

        I also favor Method liquid detergent and run most loads on cold as well. I use the Method with ginger and something else scent (basically the only scent profile in the US laundry market that doesn’t make my OAS symptoms flair) but they have an excellent free and clear too. Cleans up very well after sweaty active teens!!

      2. Lazy Laundry*

        Gald I’m not the only one who doesn’t bother to separate by color and washes everything in cold!

        My work clothes can get particularly smelly, but in a different sense as I work retail in a store where smells are their thing (if you know you probably know). So sometimes I come home smelling like every. thing.

        In those cases we do a quick swirl of Dawn and add an extra rinse cycle for that load of laundry.

      3. fposte*

        I also like Method. You can get the Free & Clear if you don’t want scented. (I like their scents for other stuff–the ylang-ylang shower clean is amazing–but prefer my laundry unscented.)

      4. Siege*

        I don’t have any advice on the detergent issue because currently Tide is the only thing that gets my clothes clean and also doesn’t make me sick, but I do the same: wash everything on cold. I do sort of sort by lights and darks if I have enough laundry to do two loads, but it’s not as hard and fast as my mother would have liked, and I do towels in whichever load can handle it. It works out and my clothes last longer, with less fading, than washing in hot would do.

    2. DannyG*

      My late wife was allergic to dye & scented laundry detergent (hives all over). Amway products worked great for her and cleaned as well as Tide.

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

      The big detergent brands sometimes have unscented versions. I’m not a very good laundry doer myself, but I’d say to make sure you don’t overload the washer, especially if you have one of those water-saving ones.

      1. Hazel*

        Tide Free and Clear is probably your no scent or dye nuclear option! A ‘bleach for unbleachables’ powder like oxyclean or resolve will help with a presoak or whites but I like spray’n’wash or laundry bar soap for actual stains. Oddly, using less detergent may help – things can look grey if the detergent isn’t rinsing out fully. I would use the extra rinse cycle to give dirt and soap another chance to wash out. Seconding the don‘t overload the load advice.

        1. A person in retail*

          Same, and I love the 3x concentrate – like 42 loads in a bottle that’s maybe a quart so you’re not handling a big heavy jug. In my area it’s often available for $5 and sometimes at Kroger stores it’ll be on a special or digital coupon for $3. I don’t have little kids or super dirty clothes though, wish I could speak to that for you.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          I have a young son and my clothes are quite grungy – All Free and Clear works well for me!

    4. Lynn*

      Oh I know, pick me! Lol

      Add the tiniest amount of bleach with each load. Like, a couple Tbsp. per load, into the spot where the washing machine says you can add it. I used whatever scent free laundry soap was cheapest, but clothes were fresh smelling every time.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Does this fade colors? I wish I’d paid more attention to my mother’s lessons on laundry. I think she put vinegar in the water, or something. My towels certainly seem to stay grimy, but they’re not white so I wouldn’t have thought to try adding bleach.

        1. Lynn*

          I haven’t notice it fading colors. I also mostly used it on kids clothes rather than my own – and they grow out of their clothes pretty quick. But I’ve been doing this for 11 years now with no noticeable problems.

    5. SofiaDeo*

      I use All Free & Clear, and always select the “highest dirt level/longest” cycle. I can also select an “extra rinse” cycle, which I generally do. I also have a Prewash option I use occasionally for really dirty stuff, like, working in the garden/dirt ground into socks & jeans. Warm if not hot water when things are super stinky. I also make sure things are super, super dry; at the end of the cycle I will run the dryer on Air Only for like 20 minutes. The clothes wrinkle less when they come out, especially when I can’t fold/put them away immediately. If my stuff isn’t bone dry, it will start to mold/mildew and not smell really clean.

      1. SofiaDeo*

        Forgot to mention, we own and have a whole house water filter. If your water is really hard, this will affect cleaners. When we were renting, I used Calgon Water Softener in the machine, every load.

    6. Generic Name*

      I used to use an all natural detergent, and in short, it was crap. I switched to tide and my clothes are actually clean. Sorry, environment. I would think the “free and clear” version of tide would work.

      1. Observer*

        Ultimately, I think that no matter what the ingredients are your detergent is not environmentally friendly if someone needs to do all this extra washing and scrubbing. So I think that the minute you decided that you can’t live with not actually clean clothes anymore, you made the actually environmentally sound decision to switch to something that actually lets you do a SINGLE cycle per load rather thane extra cycles, extra bleach / products etc.

    7. Old Plant Woman*

      I keep a laundry basket by the washer and when something gets pretty bad, I spray it with Spray and Wash, throw it in there, let it sit for a couple hours or over night. Don’t know how well that would work for delicate fabrics. But nobody with a toddler wears anything delicate! Then throw in some other sturdy clothes, towels. Small load, hot water, long cycle, second rinse is good idea. I love Tide and spend too much for it. When kids were little, I tried to do a load every day so the dirt didn’t sit to long and I didn’t get behind. Best wishes. I feel for you, and shudder.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I am weird about laundry and I want to wash “gross loads” separate from my clothes. Things like hand towels and socks can go together in a load, or heavily soiled work clothes and socks (I go through a lot of sock) – but then there’s a whole different category of disgusting pet towels or things like that, which I never know how to handle. I tell myself I’ll hose them off first, but honestly that just ends up with a bigger mess sometimes. I want to be able to clean the washer before I put in my nice delicates. Stupid pets.

        1. MommaCat*

          If you can’t do a full clean of your washer, I read that running a hot load with no clothes and some white vinegar can work. I’ll see if I can find the link.

      1. Seashell*

        My clothes don’t have exposure to too much dirt or mess, but I like Seventh Generation too. My husband always buys detergents with a scent, and I prefer to have no scent, so I will use Seventh Generation or Sheets laundry sheets on my stuff.

      1. Numbat*

        also, there’s a great Revisionist History episode on laundry. just throwing that out there.

    8. Not A Manager*

      The Costco store brand free & clear is great, as is Tide Free.

      In my experience, almost all clothes, even those that call for cold water, can be washed on warm so long as you use the slower spin cycle for more delicate items. Dry everything on low heat.

      1. PaulaMomOfTwo*

        Seconding low heat drying. If you did not fully resolve your stains, then regular heat will bake in and lock in the stains. Try to look and just hang up the items where the stain didn’t resolve. Drying on low heat second best thing.

    9. RagingADHD*

      Ecos brand and the Costco / Kirkland free & clear brands have done right by me.

      I will also separate out heavily soiled things and give them a heavy duty wash in detergent, Oxyclean, and the hottest water their fabric can tolerate, with an extra rinse.

      Anything chunky, gluey or stiff (applesauce, yogurt, eggs, oatmeal, tomato sauce) should be scraped off and rinsed out as soon as possible before it sets. Juice stains and sweat stains do well with a pre-treat stick that can sit on the fabric for a day or so before washing.

    10. JSPA*

      All Free And Clear. I sometimes pre treat with it, Even though the extra detergent means I also end up having to do extra rinses.

      though for this stage of life you may have to decide what you prioritize more: not exposing your kid to toxic stain removers, Or having a kid with some stains on the knees of their pants.

      Looking back at childhood photos, most of my pants had stains on the knees (until my parents gave in and let me wear shorts from early spring to late fall).

      (At some point there were holes, then colorful patches to cover the holes, and that also covered the stains.)

      If it’s chocolate ice cream down the front, I’m old enough that bibs were a thing (and were either bleached or…used stained, because hey, it’s a bib). Maybe bibs need to make a come back? (though I vaguely believe they fell out of fashion because the combination of a loose bib plus falling off an old style high chair could lead to strangulation risk.)

      Now that I think of it, there was a whole era of cloth napkins tucked into the collar, which meant that desert (or spaghetti) was coming. I was bib era, my younger sibling was napkin era, and (much younger) cousins were, grab-a-new-shirt era.

      1. BethDH*

        What do you mean, bibs need to make a comeback? My kids wore bibs (they’re barely done with them now!), and we mostly got them as baby gifts. I didn’t think we were unusual in that. Our worst food on clothes problems are things like yogurt, which just seems fatty enough that it resists normal washing.

        1. Victoria Everglot*

          I think it’s that bibs used to be tied with strings (the ones my mom saved from the the late 80s have them) but now it’s velcro or snaps for my kid (18 months). Maybe for awhile bibs went away until someone realized they could use velcro?

      2. KatEnigma*

        I agree with Beth- I’m not sure what you’re talking about. I have a 5 yr old and we got and used tons of bibs. They make them out of silicon now with lips, for toddlers.

        1. Victoria Everglot*

          I love the silicone ones. The pouch traps all the food they drop so they can actually eat it.

          I also recommend the sleeved bibs they sell now for keeping especially messy food off of clothes. For my kid I either do a cloth bib with a silicone one over it, or do a cloth one with the long sleeved over it and then silicone over top to catch the bits he drops. I very rarely get stains with this layering method.

          1. KatEnigma*

            For the bottle/breastfeeding babies, the Tommee Tippee bibs are the best- the cushioned thick part of under their chin works so well to stop the milk from dripping down and under their chin!

    11. Helvetica*

      If it’s available in the US, then anything based off Marseille soap is amazing – non-scented, super effective, and it is recommended for people with sensitivities, as well as for baby clothes.
      For extra-strength stain remover, I use what is in English called gall soap. No scent, no residue, takes out literally every stain.

      1. JSPA*

        you can sometimes find real, but even in France a lot of it is now adulterated and / or scented. Read the fine print, for sure.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        Yes to using good soap. I have a moderately physical job and a scent sensitive partner; for ages the specialist unscented environmental stuff really didn’t cut the mustard on my work clothes. I just used to mix up 2 cups of hot water, a cup of baking soda and ⅓ cup of salt, with a cup of castile soap. It lasted ages, but if I ran out before making more I would just put in a small amount of castile soap, and add some white vinegar to the rinse cycle to remove soap traces. I use Ecover laundry detergent now though, which is pretty good.

    12. Anonyme*

      The Unscented Company has great laundry detergent. I believe they ship to the US.

    13. Turtle Dove*

      I’ve used Arm & Hammer’s Sensitive Skin laundry detergent for years and like it. I thought it was unscented, but I just noticed “plus fresh scent” printed on the container. Hmmm. I’ll stay tuned and see what others recommend; maybe it’s time to try another brand. But it works fine, and I haven’t noticed a scent.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        I had to look at Arm and Hammer’s Web site when I saw this because fragrance does not work for me and I was afraid they’d pulled a fast one on me. The white bottle is fragrance free and the yellow bottle apparently has “hypoallergenic scent”. I use the one in the white bottle. Works great on most dirt.

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Good to know, and thanks! Our bottle is white too, but the cap is blue. I’ll make sure to get the fragrance-free kind next time. I agree it works great on most dirt.

    14. The Other Dawn*

      My husband doesn’t have a dirty job, but he tends to sweat around the neck, which means his t-shirts need something extra to smell really clean. I discovered Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. It’s a powder and you add it to each wash load. Takes care of any kind of odor in clothing. You can typically find it in the grocery store in the detergent aisle. If not there, then Amazon has it.

      1. Helewise*

        I use this a lot, too. It’s great for getting the stink out of things; I always notice if people have been running the towels through without adding this.

    15. KatEnigma*

      We also use All Free & Clear and have since before we had kids. I will pretreat if there’s a stubborn stain (and my kid has developed an allergy to Oxiclean..) If I haven’t gotten to empty the washer in time before they start to smell mildewy (Houston, so… fast) then we have a bottle of Lysol laundry “freshener” that’s unscented that really works for the rewash. Or vinegar. We have an active 5 yr old boy and that works for us? I have a HE washer and we always wash on cold.

    16. Jay*

      I would try this on a couple of things you can re-wash easily first, in the event it aggravates allergies.
      There is a product called 40 Mule Team Borax. It’s an old fashioned and actually completely natural (it’s just a very specific mineral, nothing else) all purpose cleaner. It’s great for laundry, especially heavily stained stuff, and for use as an all purpose cleaner and scouring powder. As far as I can tell it has no scent, and I use it on the scary gross laundry my company produces. This includes mud, lithium grease, fish scales, and deep ocean muck. Often oil, sawdust, and misc. yard debris as well.

      1. carcinization*

        Whoo! I read to the end of this to see if someone would recommend Borax and someone finally did! It’s good for quite a few things but adding it to dirty laundry in the washing machine is definitely one of them.

        Commenting on things others have noted, I always wash clothes on cold (some other things like sheets/towels, etc. may be washed on cool or warm if they’re being washed by themselves), use dishwashing liquid to treat oil/grease stains and Shout to treat other stains, and use Shout colorcatcher if I’m concerned about items bleeding dye.

    17. BubbleTea*

      The best source of laundry advice comes from people using cloth nappies (diapers). Look for a Facebook group in your country and they’ll help you troubleshoot!

      The main things people get wrong are they use gentle, eco detergents on dirty clothes (they’re ineffective) and/or don’t use enough detergent (look at the dosing instructions on the packet and measure properly).

      My clothes are cleaner as a side effect of my son being in cloth nappies, because I’ve learnt so much about laundry!

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        We cloth diapered and used regular Tide, but I did find that hanging things up to dry in the sun helped with the smell and stains, especially of the cotton diapers.

    18. Sundae funday*

      We are long-time Tide Free & Clear users. Anyone else having difficulty finding it in powder form? Our local stores have only had it in liquid or pod, and even Amazon has failed us. ( My partner, who is in charge of laundry, swears the powder form is superior.)

    19. Katefish*

      The Dreft Stage 2 Active Baby is fantastic if you don’t mind a light scent. Removes stains and odors, light scent, no issues on my sensitive skin.

    20. RagingADHD*

      Oh, IDK if anyone else mentioned it, it is 100 percent okay and normal to feed toddlers in just their diaper. That was a very popular option at our house when the laundry go to be just too much.

    21. Always Spilling Food on Myself*

      Tide (Free & Gentle, Ultra, or Hygienic Clean) for whites and stained items. Don’t get the cheaper Simply Clean & Fresh (in the yellow bottle); the others have more enzymes and work a lot better. Save money by using Target’s Up & Up unscented for everything else.

      Hot water sets a lot of stains, so I use cold for everything but towels. If my laundry needs a boost, I throw in some borax and/or washing soda (dissolved in a cup of hot water first).

      I sort my laundry because I can tell the difference. My daughter swears by color catchers, but her clothes all look dingy since she started using them. I’m sure they catch some dye, but apparently a lot more still swirls about in the water.

      I don’t remember all the details, but different stains respond better to enzymes, bases (baking soda, washing soda, baking soda, sodium percarbonate, borax), or acids. I had started a chart, but I stopped work on it after I switched to Tide. If a stain doesn’t come out in the wash, I skip the dryer and use a spot cleaner (I’d be wise to treat it first so it wouldn’t accidentally get dried, but I throw caution to the wind in the laundry room).

      Whatever spot treatment I use, I cover it to keep it wet while it does its job. My sister swears by Grandma’s Secret, but it’s pricey. I have 4 favorites: (1) Dawn & sodium percarbonate (the active ingredient in oxi cleaners). Sodium percarbonate works better in hot water and over time (spot treat or soak), but I have added it directly to the wash. It breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and washing soda, so that brings us to number 2. (2) A miracle mix of Dawn, hydrogen peroxide, and washing soda (ratios aren’t important). A soak in washing soda and Dawn will also cure the stinkiest of shoes. (3) Enzyme cleaner with four categories of enzymes: proteases, lipases, amylases, and cellulases. I use Kids ‘n Pets. I’m not sure it’s the best, but it does everything we need. (4) Alcohol, vinegar, or sunlight. Or a combination, usually with Dawn. Sunlight & vinegar saved a white t-shirt with dried mustard.

    22. Ampersand*

      We use Dirty Labs unscented liquid detergent—a little goes a long way, and a bottle lasts us a few months. It gets our clothes really clean (I have a preschooler who literally comes home covered in dirt, so I hear you on dirty laundry!).

      For especially smelly clothes we also use an enzyme spray/soak prior to washing stuff in the washing machine—there are lots of options available, and enzyme cleaners tend to work well in my experience.

    23. Gatomon*

      I use reusable puppy pads for my guinea pigs. I like Tide Free & Gentle for these as it’s got a bit more oomf, but it’s several dollars more than the All version so I generally just save it for this.

      I use All Free & Clear for my clothes, linens and towels, since my things generally don’t get too grungy. Clothes are always run cold in the gentle cycle to try and preserve them. The only things I routinely wash in warm or hot or on a tougher cycle are towels and washcloths.

    24. Not a Mermaid*

      I add Borax to a stinky load. Also use Tide unscented which does not irritate my skin. Neither does the Borax.

    25. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Have you tried Tide free and clear? Or All free and clear? I’ve found both to be highly effective.

    26. Observer*

      One thing I found useful when I was stuck with a brand that worked, but didn’t do well with someone’s skin (highly, highly sensitive skin, but outgrew that). I used to run any load with the child’s laundry (clothes or be linens) through an extra plain water cycled. It was the only way to make sure that no traces are left on the material.

      Obviously a product that doesn’t cause anyone problems is a better solution, but sometimes you have to do the next best thing (at least until you find the right product.)

    27. DataSci*

      Tide Free & Clear, and make sure that your washing machine is clean. Look up how to do a cleaning cycle for your machine, and don’t use too much detergent! Too much will build up in the machine and make a film on your clothes.

    28. Quinalla*

      I have not had any luck with any free & clear, plain old powder Tide actually works well for this sensitive skin house.

      I only separate out whites as I find they get a bit dingy otherwise. I wash almost everything on cold (my teen daughter’s clothes I wash on warm and whites on hot) and I don’t separate otherwise by color – I separate by type. My husband and my clothes separated into a nice 3 loads of delicates, pants and the rest. Putting pants in their own load is huge, keeps other clothes from getting stretched by the pants. The kids clothes I wash one load for my teen and my twin 10 years olds are still just one load a week between them. And then usually a load or two of towels depending how many towels people went through that week – I always reuse my towel multiple times (I am clean after I shower!!), but my husband and kids usually use a towel each time they shower.

    29. Clumsy Ninja*

      I have a kid in sports and I’m a veterinarian who can get gross from time to time. I use Tide HE (we have front-loader high efficiency machines), but I only use the lowest marker on the cup as a general rule. That tends to work well for us. You should be able to find that in an unscented version.

      I personally separate things – whites/lights, colors, blacks, reds – but blacks and reds are because we have enough in the house for separate loads. I do feel it’s helped keep our dark clothes darker longer, but it’s not strictly necessary. Everything except whites I wash on cold water. Whites I’ll do warm, but that’s also our towels and most bedding. And my machine has the option to do an oxyclean soak.

  5. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Everyone share what you’ve been reading! As always, all reading is welcome.

    I just finished Clearing by Elizabeth Oswald. It’s a fun, light fantasy/sci-fi mix set in the world of a VR RPG. It’s the first book of a series and I enjoyed it a lot. (Full disclosure: the author is my cousin.)

    1. Pam Adams*

      I just read through all the Mrs. Pargeter mysteries by Simon Brett. Cute, but not keepworthy. Hooray for Kindle Unlimited.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I enjoyed those years ago. If you like those, you should try the Mississippi. Pollifax mysteries. I can’t remember the author’s name right now but several people have mentioned Mrs. Pollifax in recent weeks so perhaps someone will be kind enough to supply it.

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

      Still re-reading the *Wolf Hall* trilogy re: the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell during the reign of Henry the VIII. It re-reads well and has definitely given me a much better understanding of that period of English history.

      I might re-visit a James Bond novel or something too — not feeling up to anything brand new right now, though the Jesse Q. Sutanto book recommendation from a week or two ago did look like something I totally want to read.

      1. Unemployed in Greenland.*

        omg, I just finished Mantel’s “Eight Months on Ghazzah Street” – good grief, can she write!!!! or just to say: I feel as though I’m transported to wherever she sets her works.

        This is actually why I’m hesitant to read “The Mirror and the Light.” I’m attached to her Thomas Cromwell as narrator, and – uh, spoiler? – given history, one knows how it ends. Since you are rereading, how would you say tM&tL stacks up against Wolf Hall? (nothing against bring up the bodies, but I was just more impressed by the first.)

        1. Unemployed in Greenland.*

          and sorry re: capitalization – it’s the dictation function’s fault, I swear!

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

          That’s a great question! We do get Thomas Cromwell remaining as our central narrative focus of *The Mirror and the Light* all the way through (though there is a brief “What happened afterwards” kind of section after the novel proper ends to tell you where some of the other characters ended up), and I agree with Not Australian that the ending is well done. I was upset of course at the ending (and I had some anxieties as you did about whether I’d be able to handle it), but I got through it, and it felt true to Cromwell’s character.

          In comparison to *Wolf Hall*, *Mirror* felt a little, maybe, recursive to me? Like old stuff comes up over and over again in a way that it didn’t in *Wolf Hall*, almost like in the later part of his life, Cromwell is trying to make sense out of the patterns of his life? But I can see how some people might find it overly repetitive. It also felt a little more like a tragedy to me, like there are moments when I’m internally shouting, “NO, don’t do that!” So, it was in some ways a less comfortable read for me, though I’ve still enjoyed it.

          Thank you for the tip on *Eight Months on Ghazzah Street*! I have been wondering which of her other novels to try.

        3. Imtheone*

          Wolf Hall is the best. The others cover less time, and you feel increasing apprehension as the end nears.

      2. Junior Dev*

        I just started The Steerswoman and it’s really good so far. I’ve heard you should go in knowing nothing about it so I haven’t read anything about it so far. Genre is fantasy.

        I also recently re-read the partially written sci-fi novella Space Emperor by Toadstar on AO3. I usually am not one for self-published stuff but this is really incredible and I want there to be more. It’s sort of a Douglas Adams style sci-fi parody of the trope of a super-corrupt, decadent imperial capitol of an evil space empire, and the emperor has his mind opened when a would-be assassin makes him realize that other people have feelings. It’s funny and gay and really touching in parts.

        I recently finished the White Space novels by Elizabeth Bear and find myself thinking so much about them. Funny, thought-provoking, with characters who are able to be complicated and flawed. It’s a distant future and the main characters are humans who’ve lived their whole lives in space, with other species from other planets all living together, and each book involves solving a different space mystery. Both protagonists are lesbians with an interest in science. There are ship cats.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Re Elizabeth Bear and the “White Space” novels – loved those, especially “Machine,” which was a delightful homage to James White’s “Sector General”.

          Bear collaborated with Sarah Monette on several short stories featuring futuristic sentient (and possibly eldritch-horror) starships; the story “Boojum” inspired the term “Boojumverse” for those stories and their setting. There are delightful nods to many dark-fantasy literary sources, including Lewis Carroll and Edgar Allan Poe and H. P. Lovecraft, and the tales are all great fun.

      3. GoryDetails*

        I loved the “Wolf Hall” books – the first one best, though, as things got increasingly bleak in the later books. And I admit that it took a viewing of the mini-series with Mark Rylance as Cromwell to get me into the books: the quirky choices of tenses and timing were sometimes tricky to follow, but it helped if I imagined all the Cromwell bits in Rylance’s voice!

    3. OtterB*

      Reading No Foreign Sky by Rachel Neumeier. She’s published a number of very good fantasies, but this is her first science fiction. There are space battles (which are not really my thing) but also diplomacy, linguistics, and coming to cultural understandings (which are definitely my thing). I’m enjoying the characters and the cultures.

    4. Manders*

      I picked up Demon Copperhead today and am about 100 pages in so far, and I’m loving it. depressing story, but so well written!

      1. RedinSC*

        That was this month’s book club book, the writing is so amazing, but it was just really, really rough.

        The book was well liked!

    5. RedinSC*

      Last week someone recommended A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan, and I am really enjoying it! Thank you for the recommendation!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Excellent! I’ve recommended it a lot since I first read it :)

    6. Bluebell*

      I read Elinor Lipman’s Ms Demeanor this week- very cute, and I was glad I liked it since I wasn’t a fan of her last book. Tried to read Sonali Dev’s The Vibrant Years, but it reminded me too much of the characters in the Netflix show Never Have I Ever. Still working on Jenny Wright’s bio of the abortionist Madame Restell, which is very good. Planning to start The Eden Test by Adam Sternbergh soon. I loved his novel The Blinds.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      FINALLY unpacking books so there may be some re-reading in my immediate future. When I get all these dang boxes out of my line of sight and unclutter the visual field and my brain, undoubtedly that will trigger some writing as well.

    8. sewsandreads*

      Currently reading Secrets of a Happy Marriage by Cathy Kelly. Very enjoyable so far!

    9. English Rose*

      I have raced through last week’s recommendation from Alison, Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. It is absolutely brilliant, I loved every minute. Laugh out loud funny, quirky and wistful by turns. And I never guessed the ending. Thank you Alison.

      I’m now in the middle of another book by the same author, Jesse Sutando, Dial A for Aunties.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I loved Dial A for Aunties!! I have been on the lookout for the sequel to that.

      2. Seashell*

        I read your post as Vera Wang, and I was wondering why a clothes designer had advice for murderers.

        1. English Rose*

          Ah well in the book, Vera Wong has named her tea shop the Vera Wang Tea Shop because she thinks people will be familiar with the name. So you’re not far off. And I’m sure Vera Wang would give great advice about anything!

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      Been a busy week for reading.

      “Sisterland” by Curtis Sittenfeld – Hard to summarize in a sentence or two, but it’s about relationships and how our relationships are complicated by things we believe. Focuses on identical twin sisters who have low-key ESP and tells the story of what happens after one of them predicts a terrible earthquake.

      “Unnatural History” by Jonathan Kellerman – Standard Kellerman mystery – enjoyable enough to keep me interested.

      “The Guest” by Emma Cline – Gauzy contemporary lit about a young woman whose life is going off the rails in an upscale community in Long Island. I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure it stuck the landing.

      “The Patient” by Jasper DeWitt – Very creepy story told exceptionally well in the parlance of an Internet post. A quick and fun read.

      1. Jackalope*

        So what did you think of Sisterland? I read it a year or two ago and I remember thinking it was okay but I hated the ending. I loved the setting, though, since I’m a fan of St. Louis.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I really enjoyed Sisterland but found the last quarter or so very difficult to read. I was uncomfortable about some of the choices that Kate made. But I kind of figured that was the point – that she made her own disaster because she was expecting one.

          What did you hate about the ending?

          1. Jackalope*

            Okay, giving a bit of space for spoilers….






            One of my pet peeves in media (books and movies) is that they tend to capitalize on the trope that men and women can’t possibly be friends, because physical attraction will always get in the way. The main character spends most of the book having a close platonic male friend and then at the end they all of a sudden just sleep with each other out of nowhere. I was so annoyed with that; come ON, just let them be friends!

            And then the idea that her husband decided that her punishment was moving away and starting a new life somewhere else. First of all, I found it a bit squiffy that he got to decide on a punishment for her at all; I can totally see broken trust, months and years of rebuilding things, etc. I can see him not wanting to be friends with the other couple anymore. I can see him deciding to divorce her. But deciding that he will stay with her, but he will punish her by taking her (and also their older kids who have nothing to do with any of this) away from her home town which if I remember correctly is where she grew up…. That was a jerk move. (Heck, even if he’d just wanted to get out of town and start over I could have understood, but the book explicitly said it was a *punishment*, and that’s not cool.)

    11. Hlao-roo*

      Commenter JP asked earlier this week if anyone remembered the post where the LW asked for book recommendations with professional characters, because JP wanted to read some of the books suggested in the comments. I figure that’s a good fit with the reading thread, so for JP or anyone else who’s curious it was question 4 on the “overreaching wellness meetings, rambling coworker monopolizing trainings, and more” short answer post from January 13, 2023. I’ll link in a follow-up comment.

    12. Teapot Translator*

      I’m looking for not-depressing murder mysteries set in unusual countries (unusual from a North American perspective). For example, I’m reading Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun and Olivia Yu’s Crown Colony series, both of which I’m enjoying. I just tried Trouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel, but did not enjoy it. My problem was twofold: the main character’s attitude towards British Imperialism was just too… mild? Placid? Accepting? And the journey from the crime to the resolution was not particularly entertaining. I don’t need my murder mystery to be super complicated, but I need to enjoy the ride.

      1. Zebydeb*

        Meantime by Frankie Boyle is very specifically Scottish and very funny. I thought it was OK as a crime novel but the ultra-local character and the humour lifted it. Of course, his humour won’t be to everyone’s taste.

      2. Not Australian*

        Have you considered Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘Number One Ladies Detective Agency’ series, set in Botswana?

        1. allathian*

          I’ll second Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency. The main character has an abusive relationship in her past, but it’s only mentioned in passing.

          I’ve also read and enjoyed a few novels by Qiu Xiaolong, set in Shanghai where the author was born.

          I also recommend the Inspector Brunetti series by Donna Leon. Set in Venice, the city’s as much a character as any person. That said, the book series has the same problem as Agatha Christie’s books, namely that the books are always set in the year they were written, but the characters don’t age, and I found it a bit disconcerting at first to notice that the teenagers in 1992 were still teenagers 30 years later.

      3. Sitting Pretty*

        Ok this probably doesn’t fit the bill but maybe? Sulari Gentill’s The Woman in the Library was such a fun read! Although it takes place in Boston, the main character (who is writing the murder mystery as it’s happening) is located in Australia and she has a fascinating correspondence with a fan from the US who keeps correcting her chapters and offering her American perspective on her story and characters. It’s all very meta and compelling, and gives a kind of outsider perspective on a story set in America.

        It’s the first thing I’ve read by Gentill, but apparently she has lots of other mysteries and crime fiction. She’s from Sri Lanka and has lived a bunch of places in the world, so I’m looking forward to reading more of the international-ness of her fiction!

      4. rare commenter*

        Maybe the Perveen Mistry series by Sujata Massey. It’s set in 1920’s Bombay and the main character is one of India’s first female lawyers.

        1. Imtheone*

          I like this series too! I mentioned it below, before I saw that you had mentioned it.

      5. Morrigan Crow*

        Really enjoyed “Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone” by Benjamin Stevenson. Australia, so maybe not quite what you’re looking for, but I really enjoyed the writing & plot!

      6. Imtheone*

        Sujata Massey has a series set in contemporary Japan and another set in pre-independence India. Both very good, with female protagonists. Understanding the culture is significant to the plot.

        Another good mystery series is by Colin Cotterill, set in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. The main character is the accidental coroner Dr. Siri Paiboun.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I just finished reading Made in Chicago: Stories Behind 30 Great Hometown Bites by Monique Eng and David Hammond. it was fascinating!! It made me want to head to Chicago, book in hand and try all these places.
      There are some recipes for items that are practical to make at home, but mostly it’s a telling of how these food items evolved and the person responsible for creating it. If you enjoy food history, you will like this little book.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        That sounds fun! Chicago has some great energy. Plus I’m always on the look out for new recipes.

        1. PhyllisB*

          It is fun. It’s only 160 pages long so I figured I would breeze through it in a day. Wrong. Short it may be, but it took me a few days because I wanted to think about what I was reading, and of course I went down a couple of rabbit holes on various stories. Really interesting. And if you want to delve into it more, there’s a good bibliography.
          And yes! recipes!! I am going to have to try some of these.
          Also, I am going to buy a copy of this in case we do make it back to that area I can have it for reference.

    14. Tortally HareBrained*

      I read all three of the available Dr. Nell Ward series by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett this week thanks to a recommended last week. They were perfect for quick binge reads. I’ve pre-ordered the 4th book, because of course the 3rd ended on a cliffhanger.

        1. Tortally HareBrained*

          If you like these you may also appreciate The Birder Murder series by Steve Burrows. The first book is A Siege of Bitterns. Nice mix of detective work and ecology.

    15. I heart my NC headphones*

      Reading The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon. I’m about halfway through, I know what the ending will be (I read some spoilers), and I dunno how I feel about this one, y’all. I’m struck by the Hemingway-esque writing style, very short sentences, and I’m curious whether Moon writes in this style all the time, or whether she’s writing in this style as a way to mimic her autistic MC’s POV. I’m not sure I like it.

      1. allathian*

        No, Elizabeth Moon definitely doesn’t write like that all the time. I found the book absolutely fascinating, although it’s been a while since I read it.

        1. I heart my NC headphones*

          Ohhhh. That actually makes me feel WORSE about the book, tbh. The MC feels very “stereotypical a u t i s t i c man” and the short sentences are not helping. For me at least, they imply difficulty comprehending.

          (I consider myself ND and have friends who are ND, and I think it’s notable that Moon is not herself ND, though she has a child who is.)

    16. MMB*

      Just started re-reading Stephen King’s the Dark Tower series. The writing in the first book hasn’t aged well. If I were reading it for the first time I don’t think I’d even finish the first book let alone the series.

      1. Ampersand*

        I’m reading his new (as of last year) book Fairy Tale, and his writing style has changed as he’s gotten older. I know what you mean about his older books not aging well—I can’t read his older stuff now without getting annoyed. Fairy Tale is still written in his voice—but it’s a toned-down version. It’s a good story so far.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I reread the series annually, and book one is always a slog – sometimes I skip it :P I tell people who haven’t read the series yet to actually start reading with Drawing of the Three and The Waste Lands, then go back and read The Gunslinger afterward. (When I first read the series, I actually read Wizard and Glass first, purely by accident – my mom got it for me without realizing it was part of a series.)

    17. Blue Eagle*

      I just finished “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” and loved it. If you enjoyed “The Night Circus” you will likely enjoy Addie LaRue.

    18. anonagain*

      This week I read “Keep it moving” by Twyla Tharp which was about creativity, purpose, and aging. I adore Twyla Tharp and adored this book. I also read “Easy crafts for the insane” by Kelly Williams Brown, which I loved.

      I’m now reading “Other people we married” which is a collection of short stories by Emma Straub.

    19. GoryDetails*

      Alison’s recommendation of R. F. Kuang’s “Yellowface” reminded me of “The Plot” by Jean Hanff Korelitz; the latter had some intriguing twists and turns, and I may hunt up the former to see how it compares.

      Among my current reading:

      Playing With Myself by Randy Rainbow, a memoir featuring his rise to parody/satire prominence – quite enjoyable.

      A Prayer for the Crown-shy, the second of Becky Chambers’ “Monk and Robot” books, delightfully soothing, optimistic, and often funny.

      On audiobook: No Man’s Land by Simon Tolkien (a grandson of J. R. R.), which I chose in part because it’s narrated by the marvelous Christian Coulson. The story itself has more telling-than-showing as to some of its characters’ motivations, but its setting – a young man coming of age in the years leading up to WWI, with much socio-economic turmoil – is compelling. (At the moment our young hero is stuck underground with his much-disliked rival after a cave-in during a coal-mine fire, so… there is drama. {grin})

    20. PastorJen*

      I’m currently reading “Mrs. Nash’s Ashes” by Sarah Adler, which has been fluffy and cute. When I was on my walk this morning, I got a notification from the public library that my hold on an e-copy of “Happy Place” by Emily Henry just came in, which feels like the perfect read for a holiday weekend. I liked two of her other books (for the life of me, I couldn’t get interested in “Beach Read”, but I liked the others), so I’m curious to see how this one is.

    21. Filosofickle*

      I am continuing my Cozy Saturday Morning Cocoon series with Tennis Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Children’s literature is so soothing.

      Previously I reported starting on A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton, and it didn’t take long to realize it was the absolute opposite of cozy cocoon reading. It was depressing AF and now I can’t wait to get it out of my house so the sad juju doesn’t get me.

      1. Pam Adams*

        I love Noel Streatfeild’s children’s books. Her adult literature under her name is more serious, but she wrote a series of books during the second world war that are charming and adorable under the name Susan Scarlett.

        1. red yellow*

          Noel Streatfield is female??? *That* explains why ballet shoes is a book about 3 girls, doing ballet, acting… and I forget the third.

            1. Imtheone*

              That is, the sister in Ballet Shies with a different interest likes mechanical things, and finally finds her niche as an airplane pilot.

              I just discovered a sequel (of a sort) to Ballet Shoes, called Movie Shoes. Different child characters, but the characters from Ballet Shoes appear in the story.

    22. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I’m reading Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street and thoroughly enjoying it. It’s written as a series of vignettes about the people in the neighborhood, and the writing is lovely and evocative.

    23. Database Developer Dude*

      I just finished the latest book in the Millenium Series… Lisbeth Salander is an amazing character. The books started out by Stieg Larsson, but he died, and his estate picked David Lagencrantz to continue the series. It’s amazing. The whole series starts out with the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I’m finishing The Guncle by Stephen Rowley, it’s enjoyable but I liked Lily and The Octopus more. It’s a good summer read, there is some sad stuff but it’s very conversational to listen to (audiobook) and has a lot of fun parts too. It’s like someone telling you a story, very cozy in a summery kind of way.

        1. PhyllisB*

          Have you read Remarkably Bright Creatures? You might like that, I really enjoyed it.

    24. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      I’m almost done with Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin. I started it yesterday afternoon and can’t put it down!

    25. Ali + Nino*

      Blindness by Jose Saramago. For some reason I had trouble getting into it, it is quite dense, but now I’m more than halfway through and enjoying it (although the subject matter is upsetting). Also, multiple reviews (quotes on the back and inside flaps of the book) praise the book for how it handles the horrors of the (20th) century, and I’m hoping at the end someone will explain exactly which horrors everyone is referring to, because there were quite a lot…

    26. Kyrielle*

      Re-reading Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard, which I believe I first saw recommended here. Fantasy, long book, very much about relationships and how we navigate the world, despite *also* being about bureaucracy and systems and making them take care of people better.

      Just finished _Exile_ by Glynn Stewart – science fiction, starts when the revolution against the dictator fails, and what happens to the people involved.

  6. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Everyone share what you’ve been playing this week. As always, all kinds of games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve been away from home on a work conference, so no games this week yet. Just got back though, and am planning to go video game it up this evening.

    1. brighter than sunshine*

      I have been playing leaf blower revolution, the idle game, in a pretty non-idle way. I’m not sure what I get out of it; I think I’m just procrastinating on filling out some tedious forms.

      For folks who like idle games, or maybe games like animal crossing, what do you get out of it?

    2. Ella Kate (UK)*

      Picked up My Time at Sandrock (sequel/same universe as My Time at Portia) and I LOVE IT. There’s some really amazing QoL changes and it’s super engaging.

      Stamina limit is still the bane of my life though haha.

      1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

        I loved MTaP but the bugs just about drove me to drink (that time I just up and noclipped right through the ground and fell out of the world was a fun one). But Sandrock is definitely on my wishlist!

        1. Ella Kate (UK)*

          I DID THAT TOO!

          There’s still some quirks because its Early Access right now, but they’re definitely *listening*. And oh my gosh just having material requirements up front and centre on quests (including commissions) is *great*.

          Also you can put a commision board in your yard. THAT made me cheer out loud.

    3. Still*

      Speaking of games, I’ve just seen the D&D movie and it’s SO GOOD. It felt like a real campaign, with all the plot twists, the character backstories, the obligatory NPC that’s clearly the DM’s beloved child from another campaign, and the surprisingly proper use of game mechanics. Flawless.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        And they did such a good job of both making it familiar to people who know the game, but also making it accessible to people who don’t.

    4. LimeRoos*

      I’ve been playing Tears of the Kingdom pretty much non-stop since 05/12. I’m completely in love with it and can’t wait to maybe even beat it (I never even took on Ganon in BOTW lol). Highly recommend to everyone!! There’s so much more to explore, and you can play it however you want – I like taking my time getting distracted by side quests (I finished all of Hateno villages quests), koroks, and exploring, while occasionally moving the main quests along as I need to get stronger/get bored of the same character scripts. So good.

      Mr. Roos just beat FF6 Pixel remaster and loved it. It was his first time playing and he said it held up really well for a game from the early 90’s. He’s debating another pixel remaster as filler until FF16 June 22nd.

    5. Kyrielle*

      Alternating between a heavily-modded Minecraft with my family, and Pathfinder Wrath of the Righteous – I hadn’t gotten around to playing with the latest DLC yet. I’m glad I did; it added more than I had realized.

    6. Quinalla*

      Lots of DDO and some Starship Troopers: Extermination which is pretty well done honestly. As a fan of the movie, I’m enjoying it :)

  7. Jackalope*

    Quick question for people. I tried out wearing scrubs for pants after someone suggested it on the weekend thread. I’ve found them super comfortable, and they’re close enough to slacks for my job (esp since I’m wearing a different shirt that isn’t related to scrubs). However, two issues: one is that my first pair is already wearing down somewhat and getting holes, and I’d like some that are more substantial. And second, I’d like some that have more of a color variety – the website I got them from (CuddlDuds) only has a handful of colors. Any suggestions for other places I can buy scrubs? Or other, similar pants that would be sturdy and comfortable?

    1. DannyG*

      Any uniform shop that supplies hospital personnel should work. I have worn scrubs professionally for almost 40 years HH Works is a great brand my current sets are going on 3 years, washed at least weekly (I have 5 sets) w/o signs of wear.

    2. HannahS*

      All my colleagues love FIGS scrubs. They look more like joggers than trousers, though.

    3. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      I second Figs, they’re very comfortable and they have several different styles! I got all mine from Poshmark because they’re decidedly not cheap. Of course that does put you at the mercy of the resellers as far as colors go, unfortunately.

    4. MissCoco*

      Figs makes a line specifically to look like professional clothes, they might be ideal for you!
      Figs just don’t work for my measurements though.
      I recently tried Dolan and I really like them because they come in a 25!! inch inseam and also have a curvy cut, so I can finally do the cute jogger look like my longer-legged friends. They also come in 2 flavors of tall inseams.

      I’m also planning to try Mandala scrubs, they have good reviews and are way more budget friendly than figs.

    5. AnonRN*

      I wear hospital scrubs which are woven and don’t have much stretch. Figs and other brands drape a little better because (from what I can tell) they are better fabric and/or knitted. Do you know what kind you have now? Is there a style you like? Joggers are very popular right now (can’t stand them myself!) but in the past the flare-leg was everywhere! Anyway, having some idea of what fabric you like and what type of fit or pattern you want might help you in your search. Also do want pockets? (Cargo or on-seam or patch pockets are all choices!) What about the waist…elastic, drawstring, combo? Since I’m so used to the woven fabric, I like the Cherokee brand with drawstring waist and patch pockets.

      Outside of work I have some heavy cotton pants made by Wrangler or Lee that look decent. They’re cut like jeans (which I like) but aren’t denim so they look a little more formal while still being something I would wear for physical work.

      1. Jackalope*

        The kind that I have now are the Cuddl Dud style and they are listed as Classic Pant (petite). I’m not really into joggers; I could wear them at my work but it would be a stretch and not an area I personally want to burn capital on. But anything that can look more or less like slacks is great. (And the ones that I have do look a fair bit like slacks except for the very top which is an elastic band, but that’s usually covered by my top.)

    6. FrontlinER*

      I wear FIGs in my day job, but they are super expensive! Worth it, but I’m starting to make the switch to Mandala scrubs. FIGS quality for about half the price, plus, I think they are more comfortable.

    7. The OG Sleepless*

      I have tried every brand of scrubs out there. Med Couture seems to be the most durable. Healing Hands is a close second, and they are also the most flattering. Our staff went on a quest awhile back for new scrubs and Healing Hands were what they picked, and I couldn’t believe how good they looked on every body type in our group.

    8. Clumsy Ninja*

      You might want to look at thrift stores to try out the different brands out there. Otherwise, Amazon has a ton of them available. Or go to a store to try them out – Scrubs and Beyond has a wide variety of brands, and then whichever you prefer, you can check out online.

  8. Ex-student*

    After spending too many years studying, I’ve finally got a job with a high salary (and some RSUs), and I need help managing that money which is just sitting in a bank account right now.

    I know I definitely need help with my taxes, given that some stocks have vested. How do I find a good accountant? Any advise on what questions to ask an accountant before taking them on?
    Did you find that a financial planner was worth it? If yes, then same questions on finding them.

    I’m in Australia on a work visa right now, for folks who can give more specific advise.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, in my opinion you may not really need a financial planner (yet) as it does carry its own cost and is for individuals with more like $50-$100K in savings, at least. That’s just my opinion; I think you can do the basics on your own until you get to that kind of level. You want a) a good savings cushion of 3-6 months of expenses in liquid cash (if you can get a bank account that earns interest, perfect) and b) a well funded retirement plan (401K if work sponsored; Simple IRA if none) – I’ve heard 1x your salary by 30, 3x by 40, 6x by 50, 8x by 60, and 10x by 67. If you’ve got those two buckets covered, great job! You can set up an index fund for the extra cash you’re setting aside every month. If you have a savings goal, like a down payment on a house or a trip around the world or something, you could use something like a one or three year CD, or just keep that in your interest bearing account. I’ll be interested if others disagree with me!!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Oh sorry I didn’t address the tax question, I just use a tax prep software that includes the 1099DIV type forms and enter the info myself. And I apologize if my answers are not applicable to Australia, I bet we have other commenters that are better positioned.

      2. Ex-student*

        Thanks Sloanicota!
        I have about $250K in savings right now after almost 2 years of work (how time flies!), and currently intend to start looking at buying houses 2-3 years down the line.
        And I do max out my superannuation (401k equivalent in Australia) contributions.

        I did my own taxes for the last FY (my stocks hadn’t vested yet so it was simple), and I don’t think I have the headspace to figure it out and want to pay someone to do it for me.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Oh great okay I’ll let others with more knowledge in that kind of tax bracket weigh in! Good on you :D

    2. Generic Name*

      I suggest reading “Financial Feminist” by Tori Dunlap. It’s very accessible budgeting and personal finance 101.

      1. ex-student*

        I just read a review on Forbes, and it sounds like something I should get my hands on. Thanks for the recommendation!

        “As a single person with no children or house or mortgage, I didn’t feel most financial experts were speaking to me, or anyone like me, when giving financial advice. Enter 28-year-old Tori Dunlap, the single ladies’ money whisperer”

    3. Bobina*

      If you’re a US citizen working in Australia, definitely look for an accountant specialised in working with immigrants because you are still liable for US taxes and from my understanding that can get complicated and you want someone who can help figure out how that will work together with local taxes. Look for any local ‘expat’ forums and you’ll likely find people talking about this and find recommendations there.

      Otherwise if you’re just looking to understand basic financial literacy/how to manage your money, theres a site I’ve read in the past called Bitches Get Riches (definitely targeted at a younger, female, liberal demographic) or honestly, find the personal finance forum on Reddit for your area and look for whatever pinned/intro posts they will have. I’ve found these will be good primers and have the relevant local nuance needed.

    4. Anon-A-Nanny*

      You may enjoy “she’s on the money” podcasts. IT’s Australian based so it will all apply to you and the lady who does them is a registered financial advisor.

      If the money in your account is going to be your house deposit, and you plant to buy a house in 2-3 years that’s generally considered too short a time to invest (too much chance of the market tanking just as you want to withdraw the money). Your best bet is too stick that money in something like term deposits so it makes more interest than just sitting in your account but you can time it all so it comes out in 24 months when you consider purchasing property

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      No advice on taxes, as I’ve always done my own and I have no idea what it’s like in Australia, but can it really be more complicated than the US? If you look for a financial planner, insist on one who 1) is a fiduciary (which means they have a lawyer-like duty to do what’s in your financial best interest), and 2) is fee-based, not a percentage of assets under management (AUM). But I think you can manage your finances yourself, especially at this age. Do a search for the Bogleheads forum, and for the term “lazy portfolios”, which at its simplest would be one S&P 500 index fund and one bond fund, which is hard to beat. All you need to do is pick an asset allocation (you sound young, so it could be 90/10, stocks/bonds), and check it once a quarter or so; if stocks do well and grow to 95%, you sell off that 5% and put it in bonds. If stocks go down a lot, you sell some of the bonds to get back up to 90%. And I recommend reading “The Millionaire Next Door” by Thomas Stanley.

      1. fposte*

        Seconding CA as usual, on the financial stuff :-). I definitely agree that by the time you know enough to hire a financial planner, you don’t need a financial planner.

        If you’re looking for the most compact entry possible, for the US side, the shortest and easiest thing to start with is William Bernstein’s If You Can, which is a free downloadable PDF of about 48 pages that really breaks down the saving for retirement thing. The Bogleheads wiki is crammed with great information about specific issues, though their books are unfortunately very dry (sorry, Bogleheads, I love you otherwise).

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          And, of course, as usual I find fposte’s comments right on the mark. :) I will say that there are good uses for a financial planner, especially if you pay a one-time fee for a kind of roadmap/projection, but that’s something you can mostly do on your own with retirement planners and i-ORP for optimizing withdrawals, which IMO is the hard part. Not including links, but you can search for i-ORP, Firecalc, and I also like the Fidelity retirement planner; especially easy if you have accounts there, but even if you don’t, it has tools to make a detailed retirement budget that you can base on your current budget (utilities, property tax) or guess at (Health Sherpa for ACA insurance), and even mark stuff as essential or optional, which gives you flexibility if you have the worst-case scenario of pulling the ripcord to retire only to find the markets tumbling.

          1. fposte*

            A friend of mine has found the unicorn as far as financial planners, in that he just charges by the hour rather than wanting to manage assets, and he’s a retired professor as well as a financial planner so he’s mostly just keeping his hand in but also knows the community very well.

            I think most people envision that hourly approach as the standard of financial planning, that you book one in for an hour, and of course that’s the exception rather the rule. I think people in the Garrett Financial Planning Network may all do that, so that’s a place to start. But yer Edward Joneses and Raymond Jameses are bad bad news.

    6. Glomarization, Esq.*

      Are you an American in Australia? You may want to call up one of the larger international firms and ask for someone who has expertise in assisting people with both U.S. and Australian obligations. If they don’t know about the annual FBAR (FinCEN Form 114) and the requirement for an American to file their taxes regardless of residency, then see if they can’t point to someone who does know about these things. My experience is with American clients in Canada, and we’ve had success finding professionals with Grant Thornton and Raymond James, though I don’t know if those firms have offices in Australia.

      A lot of my clients have found that once they have someone help out the first year, they feel perfectly well equipped to do the filings on their own going forward.

    7. MissGirl*

      I was in you shoes about five years ago. My cousin works at one of the big investment firms so I asked him his opinion on if I should get a financial advisor. He said I was smart enough to figure it out myself. I’ve read some books and highly recommend “I Will Teach You to Be Rich.” I also like the “So Money” podcast.

      I have an accountant do my taxes as it only costs $150. My investments other than RSUs are all in debt index funds with no or extremely small fees. Stay away from advisors who charge a percentage.

    8. Aly_b*

      Big ups for getting an accountant and maintaining a relationship with them over the years for taxes, especially as someone working internationally. The reporting requirements for rsus are different in different countries as well, which is fun. I would specifically look for someone with experience working across the relevant countries for you.

      I have not yet taken the plunge on a financial planner. Probably should. My feeling is that I have a pretty clear set of priorities (for me, pay down the mortgage extremely aggressively while maintaining a decent level of retirement contributions, because where I am housing is extremely high cost and you can’t get longer than a 5-year mortgage so I absolutely know my rates will go up in 2 years from now). I’m worried a financial planner won’t take my weird money priorities and low risk tolerance into account and will just give me the basic advice I can and do find in a blog. I will be watching the thread to see if anyone has good ideas on finding someone who would fit me.

  9. Amy Gee*

    Has anyone tried Lume, the all over body wash and deodorant?Does it work as advertised? Was it worth the price? Thanks!

    1. Missb*

      I started using their deodorant recently and love it. I don’t use it for anywhere other than underarms.

      I think some of the original scents weren’t that great but the two that I’ve tried I’ve loved.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I have used their deodorant for several years, and (for me) it completely and totally kills all stink every time I use it. (It does kind of stink itself on application but that disappears fast.) Remember it’s not an anti-persperant. I have also used the cleansing wipes and those are great. Haven’t tried the body wash.

    3. RedinSC*

      I got the deoderant because I can get quite stinky at the barn and when riding horses.

      It did not work for me, sadly. I was excited to try it.

      Then on advice from a friend I tried Native, which is working for me. But this is just arm pits, nothing else.

    4. Rosyglasses*

      I did not have a great experience with it and so far the one that has worked for this amazingly pungent peri-menopausal stink is Kosas brand.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      My friend got it for her teens- one boy, one girl. She said it worked great for her daughter but just okay for her son. Maybe it just depends on your body chemistry?

    6. PostalMixup*

      I use it and like it! It definitely handles odor all day, although I don’t get anywhere near the advertised 72 hours. I also really like that it’s not an antiperspirant – all my clothes were developing gross buildup on the underarms from my previous deodorant/antiperspirant and never smelled clean. It took a few washes with the biofilm buster laundry spray, but my clothes are finally clean again.

    7. Once too Often*

      I use both. The deodorant works really well for me; tho it does not control perspiration at all. The body wash alone helps me with odor management.

      My preference is for “unscented” products, but not with Lume. Don’t care for the smell of their “unscented” products. Their updated scents are fainter than the previous versions, & fade just as quickly.

    8. Seashell*

      I have only tried it in armpits, but it seems to work well. I have put it on in the evening, didn’t put on any deodorant/antiperspirant on the next morning, and didn’t wind up sweaty or smelly by the end of the day. So I haven’t gone as far as 72 hours, but it worked for 24 hours.

    9. cat socks*

      I found a deal for a starter pack online and have been trying it for a couple of weeks. So far, so good.

      I got the toasted coconut cream and tangerine stick. I prefer the tangerine scent, but I like the way the cream applies better. I just use a pea size amount.

      Also, it goes clear and doesn’t stain my clothes.

    10. All Monkeys are French*

      I used the deodorant for a while and it was fantastic, but it stopped working after a few months. I seem to have Borg body bacteria that know how to adapt.
      I keep a tube and some wipes around for emergencies, because it does seem to help in a pinch if I’m not using it daily.

      1. Filosofickle*

        While it hasn’t been my experience, I’ve heard this from a lot of people — not just about Lume, but natural deodorants in general. They work for a period of time and then stop! Bodies are weird.

    11. Quinalla*

      Been trying the starter pack for about 2 months, so far working great. I have tried the cream, etc. in other places and it works great so far. We’ll see if it lasts as yeah sometimes stuff stops working (even regular deodorant w/antiperspirant has stopped working for me at times), but I’d grab the starter kit and give it a try. And yeah, the wipes are definitely nice.

  10. Lynn*

    Excellent recipe blogs please! Particularly ones that follow a certain cuisine: Thai, Polish, Cajun, German, Indian, Greek etc etc.

    I’m not a fan of huge “recipe collecting” websites that have everything on it and you have no idea where the recipe came from or if the one writing the recipe can be trusted to give a good recipe. My favorite, for example, is Smitten Kitchen, but looking to expand into more types of cuisine. Thanks!

    1. Manders*

      I’ve enjoyed a lot of recipes from damndelicious.net. My go-to from there is the One Pot Mexican Quinoa, but many of the recipes are easy and turn out well.

    2. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      My Heart Beets – https://myheartbeets.com/ – has some amazing recipes for Indian food: many for Instant Pot, but for stovetop also. (I know YMMV on IP cooking; the author, Ashley, has some awesome hacks for IP Indian!)

    3. Bluebell*

      I also love Smitten Kitchen. Since I’m mostly veg I often turn to Cookie and Kate or Love and Lemons. I’ve not settled on a specific Indian blog, but that would be one I’d like to find. I’ve used one or two recipes from The Woks of Life which is run by a Chinese family. Because I’m an ex-Texan, I sometimes visit Homesick Texan.

    4. SemiAnon*

      For Japanese, Just One Cookbook, for Korean Maangchi’s site, for Filipino Panlasang Pinoy. For Indian, I often get recipes off the NDTV recipe sites (an Indian TV channel website).

    5. Snell*

      If it’s not just cuisine from a specific culture, for vegan food, I like hot for food (Lauren Toyota), although it’s the type of vegan food where it’s like “here’s your pulled bbq sandwich, sloppy with sauce, and all your fixings including slaw, and if you still feel your sandwich is a little naked, stuff some macaroni salad in that bun.” And it’s all really good food, but sometimes I’m feeling like we could ease up on the intensity, so I go to the Post Punk Kitchen (Isa Chandra Moskowitz) where things are a bit more chill, and she’s Jewish so there’s occasional recipes for vegan Jewish food.

      100% seconding SemiAnon on JOC and Maangchi. I’m not thoroughly familiar with Metemgee (Althea Brown, Guyanese food), but the recipes I have tried were definitely successful (I don’t want to say fool-proof, but it did feel like if you followed the directions, you couldn’t possibly end up with a mystery failure).

    6. Decidedly Me*

      Chinese – The Woks of Life
      Japanese – Just One Cookbook
      Thai – Hot Thai Kitchen
      Korean – Korean Bapsang

      A site that is a collection site, but that I really like is Simply Recipes. Look for the recipes by the original site owner – Elise Bauer.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I like Simply Recipes. Tasty (BuzzFeed’s site) is a combination of original and collected recipes that are tested by actual real people. Also, I’ve tried recipes I found there and haven’t found a bad one, regardless of what site it was pulled from.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Oooh, yes! LOVE Recipe Tin Eats. Nagi and her ancient dog Dozer have great recipes. She just had her first book come out, and I bought it and made the sweet potato salad with tamarind dressing immediately. I won’t use much of it as her book is very meat-heavy, but there are more veg options on her site, which I have cooked from for years – more veggie options there. Huge thumbs up. She is a delight.

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Came here to say this!

        The only disappointment I had with this blog was the basic pad thai recipe, which tastes nothing like what I’d hoped. But that’s been the case with every single pad thai recipe I ever tried, and I’ve come to accept this is probably my white whale of homemade dishes :P

        Everything else I made from there was spot-on. I use blogs a lot less now than in the past (because I use cookbooks more), and this is my one go-to these days.

        1. sewsandreads*

          Yes, same! I’ve decided that’s just one of those meals I’ll have when I’m out so it’s more of a treat.

          But speaking of her recipes being spot-on, I must admit I actually avoided her recipes for so long because all the 5 star ratings looked too suspicious… like, how can one person be THAT good? Turns out I should stop being so cynical!

    7. BethDH*

      I like The Woks of Life and Pailin’s Kitchen / Hot Thai Kitchen (that’s a connected YouTube channel and website, so searching for one should get you the other too).

    8. wkfauna*

      For Indian: Piping Pot Curry is my new favorite. The site finds a very nice balance between flavor complexity and appropriateness for a weeknight. Every single recipe I made from it was a keeper.

    9. Aphrodite*

      For Italian, I like Grandma Gina’s (https://www.youtube.com/@BuonAPetitti) and Pasta Grannies (https://www.youtube.com/@pastagrannies).

      Tavola Mediterranea (https://tavolamediterranea.com/) is offered by an archeologist and food writer; she has the history behind her recipes and ingredients for the countries in the Mediterranean area. You know what you are eating.

      Tasting History is not focused on one culture but instead on historical recipes. He is entertaining and educational at the same time. Try his PB&J video.

    10. Still not picked a username*

      I really like The Mediterranean Dish. I’ve made quite a few things from there and they have all been really flavourful

    11. LNLN*

      My husband has recently cooked several excellent meals from the blog Spain on a Fork. We were in Spain this spring and we loved the food there. Albert Bevia is a native Spaniard, although he grew up in California. He makes the dishes very doable.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Wow, thank you for telling us about this blog. I watched a couple of the videos. He is articulate, careful to share all details, and enthusiastic. Very easy to listen to and to follow. I am going to make his Spanish Egg and Garlic Soup | Sopa de Huevos de Ronda first as it looks fantastic! I might even get up early on weekdays and make it for breakfast.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I know there are a ton of Mexican and Mexican-American recipe sites, but I really like Isabelle Eats. Her recipes are less stodgy than a lot of them, but not complicated.

    13. slowingaging*

      sallysbakingaddiction.com – easy, the lemon bars are the best and easy to make.

    14. UsuallyALurker*

      Souped Up Recipes on YouTube does Chinese (and occasionally nearby countries) recipes. Her goal is to make the best versions of every dish. She’s a Chinese immigrant to the US and does her best to find equivalents for ingredients that are hard to find outside of Asia. She also puts all of her recipes on a blog. https://curatedkitchenware.com/blogs/soupeduprecipes

    15. skylight*

      For Polish recipes, I’ve used YouTube. Most are in Polish, but some are in English or have English subtitles.

    16. CJ*

      Red House Spice and The Woks of Life are great for Chinese recipes, I cook from both a lot.

  11. There You Are*

    I wrote a couple weeks ago and asked for ideas to make life on crutches less of a burden. I thought I’d report back on how things are going and how I incorporated some of the recommendations from here.

    First off, a PSA about knee scooters: They aren’t all the same and you get what you pay for. I had purchased the economy model of the KneeRover brand and it was more hassle than help. I spent more time manually repositioning it than riding it because its turn radius is probably 15 feet. I do NOT have a clear space that large anywhere inside my house. I ended up spending another $430 and getting the SwivelMate. It can perform a tight 3-point turnabout, so it is *infinitely* easier to maneuver than the cheapo economy model.

    I had asked about alternates to carrying my food in a plastic grocery bag clenched between my teeth and, it turns out, I just needed a quality knee scooter with a decent-sized basket. Everything I need for a meal, including condiments, fits in the basket.

    Also, I can hang stuff from the handlebars, like the insulated bag I bought to carry my big tea tumbler. I took someone’s suggestion and bought a wide-mouth Thermos-type jar, and had hot soup a couple of days ago (for the first time in a month).

    Fposte had suggested putting a stool in my kitchen and eating at the counter, but I don’t have room for an extra trip hazard in the long, narrow galley kitchen. However, the very far end of the galley was originally meant to be a breakfast nook but I had put a massive, 1940’s wooden office desk in there ages ago. The top of it has become a storage space for small kitchen appliances (slow cooker, InstaPot, air fryer, etc.), so there’s no room to put a plate. BUT… I had forgotten that the desk has two pull-out “planks” above the drawers on either side. So when I don’t feel like taking my meal back to my room, I just roll the scooter over to the desk, use my crutches (which are hanging on the handlebars) to hop the last few feet to the desk chair, then pull out one of the planks and set up my meal on it.

    I bought the recommended Scrubzz cloths and they do a much better job than the shower/body wipes. But the amount of water needed means I have to put a thin rubber glove over my wrist brace and, some days, that’s just too big of an ask (depression isn’t logical).

    It still sucks being on crutches and a scooter; and everything takes 2x-4x longer than it used to when I had two good legs. (I have literally cried when I’ve wheeled myself back into my room only to immediately realize that I’ve forgotten to grab that One Small Thing I Need, because turning around and going back through the house is such a burden). But I am grateful for the variety of support devices available these days. It was a different story when I shattered my ankle back in 2001.

    Thank you to everyone who offered suggestions, support, and/or commiseration.

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      That would be so damn frustrating! Do you know about how long it’s gonna take to able to just walk?

      1. There You Are*

        I go in on June 9th to see if there’s been any bone growth in the gap of the fracture. If not, then we schedule surgery and shove the broken piece of my foot back where it goes with a screw.

        Recovery is 3-4 months, regardless of the method (natural or surgery).

        1. Old Plant Woman*

          Ooh! Wish you great patience and fortitude. And a really excellent bottle of wine.

    2. Cards fan*

      When I had my last knee surgery, and needed short term ways to cover the dressing to keep it dry before I got the staples out, someone I know suggested Press and Seal (self-sticking wrap similar to Saran Wrap). I used it when sitting on the bath chair washing, since I couldn’t shower yet. It worked great to keep off the splashes, and was easy to wrap on and toss when I was done. That might work for your wrist brace.

    3. fposte*

      I’m glad that you’ve found some ways to ease the path. Who’d have thought that knee scooters were so variable?

    4. SBT*

      Oh gosh the crying when you’ve forgotten something takes me back. I’d had a skiing accident and tore my ACL, and I lived alone (thankfully at the time, a one bedroom, smallish apartment). I’d ordered grocery delivery and had managed to heat up a frozen meal and eat it. I’d placed the empty dinner tray by my couch (full of soy sauce), and when I got up to answer the door for the delivery guy, the crutches landed in the tray, flipping it over, and soy sauce went all over my cream carpet and cream couch.

      It took me an hour to get the groceries from the door into the kitchen and unloaded, and then to get all the cleaning supplies over to the couch and clean up the soy sauce. As I was scrubbing I just lost it, realizing how difficult life would be for the next little bit, especially living alone. And the couch was left with a little outline/water stain from the cleaning.

      I decided right then and there that as soon as I had the surgery and graduated from PT, I’d buy myself a new couch as a reward and way to put it all behind me. It gave me something to look forward to, and I’d highly recommend that strategy if you have a reward you’d love to give yourself for getting through all this. Also, I bought a backpack to carry things from room to room while on crutches and later the walking brace. Sending good, healing vibes your way!

      1. There You Are*

        Oh nooooooo! Soy sauce everywhere would have had me in tears, too. Your poor couch. And poor you!!

        When I shattered my left ankle in 2001, my next-door neighbor was kind enough to pick up groceries for me. After a few failed attempts of getting quality sandwich material, I gave up and just gave a her a list of frozen prepared meals. (Uncle Ben’s had hearty rice bowls back then and I probably ate two of them a day for months on end).

        Then I finally felt strong enough on crutches to go grocery shopping by myself and one of the baggers pushed my cart for me. I got fresh lettuce, onion, tomato, salad dressing, thick-sliced bread, and a selection of deli meats and cheeses. The need for a damned-good sandwich made with a ton of fresh ingredients was visceral.

        At home, I made a monstrous sandwich and was carrying it in my left hand on a paper plate that was in a paper plate holder, crutching properly with my right hand while moving the left crutch forward with a swing of my armpit. All was well until I made it into the living room and swung too hard with the left crutch, crossing it over in front of me as I was already moving the right crutch forward. I knew in a microsecond that I was going to fall but all I could think was, “SAVE THE SANDWICH!!!!”

        So I somehow pivoted my entire body mid-fall, jettisoning the crutches on the way down, and landed on my butt and back with the sandwich still on the plate safely on my stomach.

        I was close enough to furniture then to put the plate on a chair, get up on my crutches and — using them properly — move the plate from the chair to the end table, then the end table to the coffee table, and then get my butt safely planted on the couch behind the coffee table.

        That was 22 years and I still bust out laughing every time I make a sandwich. (“Save the sandwich!!”)

    5. Might Be Spam*

      I lined up TV trays so I could slide my plate over to the table.

      I turned my back for a second and my daughter’s cat stole a tortellini dripping with marinara sauce and dragged through the living room, into the bedroom and under the bed. Sauce everywhere! I tried to chase the cat with my walker. (I couldn’t balance on crutches) I swear the cat knew I couldn’t catch him.

      My daughter was out of town so I had to clean the carpets myself. I ended up sitting on the floor and scooting around.

      1. There You Are*

        I’m just imaging you, down there on the floor thinking to yourself, “Of all the things I imagined doing in my life, cleaning cat-strewn red sauce out of the carpet while scooting on my butt was never one of them.” Darn cat!

        (FWIW, when I shattered my ankle, it was because of a cat. And when I broke that foot a few weeks ago, it was also because of cats. I love them dearly, so much so that I am apparently willing to break bones rather than hurt them when I trip and am about to fall on top of them).

        1. Might Be Spam*

          My family calls it The Tortellini Incident.
          I hope your foot heals soon. Cats can be adorable menaces.

    6. Pam Adams*

      I always preferred a wheelchair to a knee scooter- it felt more stable, and worked as a desk chair as well.
      Rinseless shampoo/body wash was also my friend.

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Hands down my favourite cat picture that Alison has ever posted… the more I look at it the more I can’t stop laughing!

      Does he actually like melon? Or did he just want it because it’s human food and then got a surprise?

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Lol, that’s so bizarre! I’ve never heard of cats liking fruit! Dogs, yes. Chair-eating, ceramic-bowl chomping, garment-consuming, manure-snarfing dogs, yes – because they will eat anything. But I wonder what the appeal is for cats..? Very interesting that only your boy cats are into it!

        2. Moose ent Skvirrel*

          What a hilarious picture. Reminded me of a friend’s cat who was mad for cooked broccoli. He would eat a whole bowl of it every meal before even thinking about touching his cat food.

        3. A. D. Kay*

          One of my cats LOVED cantaloupe as well. I had to mash up a few spoonfuls for him whenever I had some, otherwise he wouldn’t give me a moment’s peace!

        4. NeutralJanet*

          My cat loves mangoes–she’ll come running into the kitchen squealing with delight if she hears me cutting one up.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I was tickled to see that Wallace likes cantaloupe. I’ve only had one cat who was into melon, a fluffy stump-tailed tuxedo cat named Abigail, but she was mad for it, something I discovered when she knocked a slice onto the floor and went to town on it! (She also liked sweet corn; other cats of mine enjoyed licking the butter off of my corncobs but she preferred the kernels. Strange cat.)

      1. Figgie*

        One of my cats loves Earl Grey tea. He started sneaking it and I finally caught him with his head buried in the mug, slurping away. He also hovers his paw over the top to see if it is too hot for him to drink and will wait until it cools down. But he is a weird, weird cat!

        1. I take tea*

          Oh, wonderful. I had ha cat who really liked Oolong. Nobody ever believes me when I tell them. Now I’ve heard of another tea drinking cat!

          1. Figgie*

            Owners of tea drinking cats, unite! :-)

            I did check with our vet to make sure it wouldn’t hurt him to drink tea and she said that as long as he wasn’t chewing up tea leaves, there wasn’t anything in the tea that would hurt him.

            So, he hangs around when I start the water boiling and I let him drink what he wants after the tea is cool enough for him and too cool for me to drink.

        2. Jackalope*

          We have a cat who is crazy about coffee. He gets a lick or two sometimes (we know it’s not good for cats so it’s not like he’s getting his own cup, but he will lick coasters to get a drop or two from them, lick a coffee mug left unattended, etc.). I personally don’t drink coffee; I’m a tea person. Recently he came into the room where I’d brought me tea and saw my mug. He got all excited, ran over to it, sniffed it, and then gave me this accusing look of, “But WHY is this not coffee??” It was pretty entertaining.

    3. LuckySophia*

      One of my prior cats used to steal fresh asparagus spears if I left them unattended on the kitchen counter for a few minutes. And take them into the dining room, where she would hide under the table and chomp off the delicate tips, and leave all the stem for me to discover later. She was also fanatically eager to larp up any spaghetti sauce left on the plate.

  12. Milestone Birthdays*

    What would you do to celebrate a milestone birthday?

    Mostly just curious as I have a couple things planned but it’s fun to see what others do and maybe I can add something more.

    1. RedinSC*

      I hid through my 50th (denial!) but for 55 I rented a house with a lazy river and invited a group of girlfriends to spend a weekend in Palm Springs! I had thought about doing this on my 50th, BUT didn’t, and then COVID got in the way, so it was delayed a bit, BUT it was just wonderful.

    2. Generic Name*

      I threw myself a house party for my 30th and my 40th. I have a summer birthday, so we grilled and spent time on the patio. I’ll probably have a huge bonfire for my 50th ;)

    3. Double A*

      I’m turning 40 this summer and we’re taking the family to Disneyland (kids are 2 and 4). Three days, then going to see family in San Diego I haven’t seen in years.

      I have a friend who did a resort getaway in some island county for her 40th, so that got me thinking about doing something big and destination-y. But I’m a resort didn’t really sound up my ally and I don’t think I have friends who would be interested either. And 40 seems like a good age to embrace being totally basic so a Disney trip for the bill

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner and I spent a long weekend in Amsterdam for my 30th, because we’d never been, and I liked the idea of marking the occasion with a trip abroad.

      I decided that on the day we’d hire bikes, because cycling around town makes me happy and I never do it in London. We visited the boat that is a cat shelter, then crossed the river to go to the cinema museum where we caught a Scorsese exhibition, then cycled to the small village where windmills can be visited. We got very lost on the way there, but I enjoyed the detour too.

      And of course we had cake. For breakfast (in a lovely little cafe near our Airbnb) and after dinner, at a restaurant recommended by a colleague for the best apple pie (the dinner was average, the cake an absolute delight).

      I’ve never had such a happy birthday before, or since. And I loved the city loads (we even saw the Pride parade on our first day there, which we weren’t aware was happening, and it was brilliant).

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I’ve never heard of the cat shelter boat! Would you recommend it? My parents loved Amsterdam, and their favourite thing was a floating Chinese restaurant. They went at least once a year, even though my mum fell in a canal the one time they tried bike riding!

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          I’ll say I wouldn’t recommend it, which may be against the grain given I’ve always seen such positive comments about it.

          I’m a cat lady through and through, and very pro looking after homeless cats. I also have experience of a cat cafe ran well (in my hometown), creating a lovely atmosphere for visitors while keeping the cats’ welfare as a priority and not charging through the roof. So I was very positive about the visit. But it fell flat of the expectations reading up online had set for me, and I didn’t feel particularly welcome as a visitor. I found it a very cramped space, even with not too many people inside, and the cats were mostly hiding in their boxes. Which is totally fine by me, except for the fact that being able to spend time with the cats was a positive note highlighted by all the reviews I’d read beforehand. We didn’t spend very long there, all in all it was an odd vibe.

          1. nobadcats*

            Ick. Sounds like it’s more a zoo than a shelter then. Of course the kitties were hiding in their boxes, too much stimulation. This is disappointing to hear.

      2. fposte*

        That is weird–I just heard of the cat shelter boat this week for the first time, and here it is again.

    5. Sloanicota*

      I am thinking about this for my 40th, which is fast approaching! I don’t think I want a big party, as that would probably be more stress for me than fun, so I’m planning to take a milestone trip either planning to go by myself from the beginning or doing something less ambitious with one or two friends who are keen. Also, I’m trying to identify a personal goal for myself (running a marathon? climbing a 7000?) for that “year” to prove I’ve “still got it” LOL.

    6. KatEnigma*

      I spent my 50th on a cruise ship with my family. (and then sitting in the medical center, as my husband had to have emergency gall bladder surgery after we disembarked the next day… )

    7. Seashell*

      My now-husband & I went to Vegas for my 30th, and he proposed there.

      I think we just went out to dinner for my 40th.

      For my 50th, we were planning to go out to dinner, and when we got there, he surprised me with some friends also being there.

    8. Blythe*

      For my 30th birthday (the same summer as my mom’s 60th), we went on a Utah roadtrip together. It was wonderful! She is now gone, but I think a 40th celebration (in 4 years) might also be a roadtrip of some kind.

    9. Moose ent Skvirrel*

      For my 35th birthday (seems like a hundred years ago….) I went to a children’s bookstore and bought an armload of books I had loved as a kid and a teen but didn’t have anymore. I still have all of them and reread them often. “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,” a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia (that was a big splurge on my salary at the time!), “The Enchanted Castle” by E. Nesbit, “A Wrinkle in Time,” and several more. Oh it was fun!!

        1. Moose ent Skvirrel*

          It was wonderful! And I got a kick out of it when the person at the counter told me what a wonderful bunch of books I was buying “for some kid.”

      1. Milestone Birthdays*

        What a fun thing to do!

        I saw on Twitter when the birthday person was asked what she wanted for her birthday she said a “copy of your favorite book” (said to each friend)

    10. Tiny clay insects*

      I’m 41, and am saving up so that for my 50th I can go on a cruise to Antartica and the Falkland Islands.

    11. Milestone Birthdays*

      For my 50th, my birthday is a weekday so I’m planning on drinks at a themed bar. Not sure what to do earlier in the day. I also have an international trip for it the following week.

      My 40th was dinner with friends.

    12. Dr Cornelia Gruntfuttock*

      For my 50th birthday, I dyed my hair an amazing electric blue. I’d never done anything like it before; I didn’t tell anyone (even my husband) in advance. It was brilliant and I loved it.

      1. acmx*

        Oh! I have a consultation appt to see about adding color to mine and hope to get it dye before my birthday.

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

      My 65 is coming soon and I’ll be celebrating on my food truck dishing out food at a festival.

      I had two options:
      Spend a lot of money on a bbq to “celebrate” with people who only want to mooch my wife’s cooking.

      Make lots of money at a festival.

      Quiet dinner with family after the weekend.

    14. HannahS*

      For my 30th, I went to a museum with a small group and ordered pizza.

      For my 40th, I want to go to Japan!

    15. Bluebell*

      For my 40th I arranged a big karaoke night, which was a lot of fun. Then on my 50th my sister and I met up in NYC and stayed at a hotel I loved. Saw a Broadway matinee and went to Sleep No More that night. Not sure about my 60th, who is coming up in a few years.

  13. Mimmy*

    Earplug suggestions wanted!

    When we do our annual family gathering, my husband and I usually stay at a hotel near my family’s rental. This year, we are staying with my family. With the size of our family and the fact that most of them tend to stay up later than me most nights, I will need comfortable earplugs to preserve my sanity because some of them can be loud. Sure, I could try music or white/brown noise–I used to love having the radio on at a low volume, but not anymore. I’ve grown to prefer complete quiet when I sleep. I know, I’m weird.

    The problem is, my ear canals are really small, so I find most earplugs to be uncomfortable. I’m looking for recommendations for something that’ll fit my tiny ears comfortably and will block out noise.

    1. Goose*

      Look at swimmers/wax earplugs! You don’t push it in the ear canal, and they’re really good at keeping sound out.

    2. SG*

      I second wax earplugs. My boss turned me onto Quies brand wax earplugs, and they are a game changer. Just be sure to take off the outer cotton before you use them.

    3. AGD*

      Same, so I buy little kids’ earplugs and they work! Though they can be tricky to get out afterward.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      They make smaller versions of standard earplugs – I have some under the (unfortunate) label “Sleep Pretty in Pink” which are tapered and small enough to fit my ear canals comfortably.

    5. heyitsteatime*

      I’ve recently had a ruptured eardrum and used moldable silicone earplugs from Target for showering – I noticed they also block out a lot of sound. They come in a pack of 8 pairs and are reusable a few times!

    6. Purple m&m*

      I like Hearos Ultimate Softness (beige) earplugs. They’re very soft and you can roll/squish them in length & width and sort of hold them in your ear for several seconds and they are very comfortable for all sizes of ears. They’re relatively inexpensive & widely available.

    7. Feather Stone Haugh*

      I third wax earplugs. I’m in the UK and the only earplugs I rate are Boots Mouldable Wax Earplugs.

    8. Princess Deviant*

      I prefer foam ear plugs, especially the ones that you can reuse a few times after washing.

    9. just another queer reader*

      My housemates and I have all recently gotten Loop earplugs, which are made of silicone. They come with 4 different size tips, and we have all found the XS to work. (My housemates are smallish humans; if it helps give an idea, they often wear children’s clothing.)

      Anyway, my housemates both wear these earplugs to sleep every night and like them a lot.

      They’re kind of expensive, like $30, and have flashy marketing. But a single pair seems to last a while (at least 6 months for us).

      Before getting the Loop earplugs, my housemates used soft foam earplugs – either the pink “women’s” kind from CVS, or this other bulk supplier whose name I don’t recall.

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Yeah, I’m a concert to Loop earplugs. Best $30 I’ve ever spent. They block out so much more noise than foam or silicone or anything else I’ve tried. They all come with a bunch of different size “tips” (is that what they’re called?) I have small ears and I use one step up from the smallest, so they would probably work for you.

        When noise in my condo is particularly percussive, like my upstairs neighbor clumping around getting ready for work at 5:00 a.m. or my downstairs neighbors having a party with lots of bass in their speakers, I put in the Loop ear plugs and then wear noise canceling headphones over that. The combination of the two does the trick for everything short of construction noise.

        1. Sitting Pretty*

          convert, not convert! Though I have used the Loops at loud music events and they work well there too :)

          1. Conversation starter*

            Do they really work and let human voice through, though? I’m looking for something to help me with conversations in noisy environments (I usually sit there and nod, with my face as neutral as possible, because I have no idea what other people are saying) and the Internet keeps pointing me towards the Loops…

            1. Sitting Pretty*

              Loop makes several different types. The website explains what they’re all for. I can’t remember what the different names are, but I have the ones that are for night time (the most sound muffling) and another set that’s for wearing to loud events so that I can still hear music and conversation, but not get overwhelmed by noise. They have some that are also good for conversations and places like restaurants and coffee shops. I find that each type really does work for the setting in which I use it.

              I probably sound like an advertisement for the company… I found out about Loop on a subreddit for Sensory Processing Disorder and only bought them after reading a bunch of people’s positive experiences

    10. Roy G. Biv*

      Mack’s Pillow Soft silicone ear plugs are my go to choice for sleeping. I cannot stand to have a plug in my ear canal while trying to sleep. These go over your ear opening and are malleable enough you can squish them into any shape to get the fit you want. I recently wore them on a trip with a snorer and they did a great job of blocking the noise.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I want to try some over-the-ear kind. I had an unfortunate situation result from wearing ear plugs at night, with wax blocking up my ear drum leading to hearing loss, so I have to be more careful now.

    11. Seltaeb*

      The only foam earplugs that I’ve found comfortable are Mack’s Dreamgirl earplugs (another somewhat unfortunate name). They are slimmer than most earplugs, and slightly hollow inside, which makes them more compressible and more comfortable.

    12. Jay*

      Have you tried over the ear style rather than in the ear style? They make headphone-like ones that may work well. I’ve seen some that looked small enough and low profile enough to sleep in.

    13. Samwise*

      Stay in a hotel. I have exactly your issue: I like it quiet and dark for sleeping and I have small ear canals. You can get foam (silicone?) ear plugs at the hardware store, get the kind construction workers use for the most help. But even those will not make it quiet-quiet. Stay in a hotel.

    14. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m like you, both sensitive to sound and with small ear canals which most ear plug brands don’t fit. The only ones that have worked for me are the foam cylinders, rather than the ones that taper at one end which either hurt or fall out. I used a version of the foam cylinders for many years that worked fine.

      I now have a neighbor in my building whose small dog was waking me every morning when she left with his high-pitched extended howling. Even through my previously effective earplugs. (The poor dog suffers because my neighbor neglected training him so he’s not so anxious, but I can’t do anything about that despite my mentioning that he was waking me up.)

      The online Ear Plug Superstore carries the only foam cylinder earplugs that block out the howling so I can sleep– E-A-R Classic SuperFit33 PVC Foam Ear Plugs (NRR 33). I learned that this NRR system is how earplugs are rated for the degree of sound they block out. The ones I use are washable.

      I hope it works. But that said, if you find after the first night that you can’t sleep, consider moving to a hotel for the rest of your visit rather than be miserable the rest of the trip.

    15. Imtheone*

      We use pink moldable wax ear plugs. They are actually fiber and wax. You can shape them to your ears, and they mostly go in the outer ear. Flents used to make great ones, but apparently the company was sold and the product is not the same anymore. Still worth trying. There are similar ones at the ear plug superstore online. Look for ear plugs for sleeping.

    16. Mimmy*

      My goodness, thank you for all of the suggestions!! There are a few of these I’ll definitely consider. Thank you WoodsWomanWrites for the Ear Plug Superstore suggestion!

      I neglected to mention that I am a side sleeper, which I think added to my discomfort with standard foam earplugs. One I didn’t see suggested is the Flents Super Sleep Comfort Foam earplugs, which are advertised as being good for side sleepers (shorter). Has anyone tried these? Dreamgirl looks like a possible option too.

    17. TX_trucker*

      The Ear Plug Store (online shop) has a variety pack of 25+ different disposables in various sizes.

  14. Hong Kong*

    I just found out I’m getting a free trip to Hong Kong through my university. It will be an incredibly short, very busy student exchange experience (only there for 4 days, traveling from U.S.), but I’m asking if I can stay a couple extra days on my own.
    It will be in late June. Any suggestions or don’t miss experiences, restaurants, etc? What should I do if I have a couple free days? Any cultural norms I might not find in a book or online but that are important to know about? Thanks in advance!

    1. RedinSC*

      I was there in 1998, I think, so basically a million years ago, BUT I loved the Tiger Balm gardens. It was the highlight of my trip there. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Balm_Garden_(Hong_Kong)

      I also really enjoyed Macau, but I don’t know how that’s changed since then. When I was there Macau had recently reverted back to China (from Portuguese rule) and Hong Kong had not. So I suspect there are a lot of changes since then.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Whew, 4 days with that plane trip would be very tough for me. I did 10 days in Australia and people told me *that* was too short to adjust to the travel time, although it turned out okay. But you’re probably younger than me! I probably wouldn’t even try to adjust and just power through on whatever schedule my body decides. Maybe try to schedule some down time naps if you need them?

    3. Hong Kong*

      Thank you for the tips — Tiger Balm Gardens looks amazing! To clarify, if they don’t allow me to extend the trip for a couple days on my own (which I don’t see why they wouldn’t), I won’t be doing any sightseeing at all other than the one afternoon visit to a heritage site that is already on the schedule. The rest will be school stuff — field visits to agencies, panels, etc.
      And yes I agree that 4 days with that plane trip will be tough! I’m in grad school and not young. Hoping I can extend the trip. But it’s such a great opportunity that I will make it work!

  15. Just anon*

    I am looking for a styling product that will reduce frizz and enhance my hairs’ waves. My current brand – the company went caput.

    I have thin, fine hair that has some locks that have a mild wave and some locks that have a lot of wave. To style my hair, I like to put in my current product, scrunch my hair and go. No blow drying needed.

    Because my hair is thin and fine, many products for regular hair just overwhelm my hair, leaving it looking like I haven’t washed it in a week.

    Anyone with similar hair? What do you use?

    Thanks for your consideration.

    1. acmx*

      I used to use Ouidad Humidity Control gel.
      My hair now needs more work so I don’t use it much anymore.

    2. Double A*

      I have wavy but thick hair but find many products make my hair dull and heavy. I’m loving the Shea Moisture mouse. I feel like it would be quite adaptable to different hair weights. For $10 it’s not too big a commitment to try out.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I am here for this thread, because although I have thick hair, I have the same issue with frizz and my waves being easily overwhelmed. I’m super annoyed at Shea Moisture for discontinuing their weightless fruit fusion line because it worked like a charm. Homemade flax seed gel works pretty well, (you can use it like a conditioner and rinse it out if your hair is too fine for a gel) but it’s a pain having to make stuff sometimes.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Your hair type sounds similar to mine. Very thin and fine, prone to flyaways and frizz, and curly. Seems super easily damaged, as I don’t use heat or brush it dry yet it kind of looks frazzled all the time, especially at the ends. Not really the hair type most curl products are designed for; they’re too heavy and tend to make it either lank and oily or “crunchy.” I try to avoid alcohol and sulfates (sulfites? wtv) but I have no idea why. I am not willing to spend the time and effort called for in the curly girl method so it ends up in a ponytail most of the time, and the times I tried “no poo” / washing it less didn’t go very well, as my scalp gets greasy fast. I have had better luck with leave-in conditioners and curl defining spray. Sometimes I literally massage argon oil into the ends after a shower.

    5. fposte*

      I use the classic DevaCurl Lightweight Moisturizing Definer. I scrunch and go, though I cheat on the curly method by using a real towel rather than microfiber to wrap for a few minutes as I run around post-shower. My hair has gotten curlier as I’ve gotten older, especially in summer, so I have genuinely wavy hair with the DevaCurl, not just lumpy.

    6. RussianInTexas*

      My hair is thick and frizzy, Jewish mop. I started doing what my curly hair specialist hairdresser does (that curly cut itself was an experience). It may not work for you because it takes either hours of air dry to look good or the blow drying with a diffuser.
      Wash and condition your hair. Squeeze excess water. Right in the shower put the curly hair gel on, for more volume do it with your head upside down. Afterwards squeeze water gently with a microfiber towel or an old tshirt. And do not touch your hair until completely dry (the most important thing which I struggle with), or until you blow dry it. Fluff hair out
      I look like a drowned rat until my hair is fluffed out, but afterwards there are pretty soft shiny curls.
      I was forever afraid of gel, but the new generation is not going to make your hair crunchy. I use Uncle Funky’s Daughter Curl enhancer, brown bottle. None of the creams ever really worked for me, would never take the frizz. Gel helps to lock in the moisture that curly/wavy hair loose really fast.

    7. cheese and the magic goat*

      I also have fine thin hair with mixed waves/curls and experience the exact same issues with most products. I’ve landed on a two-combo system that works better than anything else I’ve tried so far, but I live in a humid climate so I’m resigned to living with some frizzies in between applications.

      After washing, I apply Olaplex no. 6 smoothing cream and then a curl-hydrating jelly oil from Bed Head called Screw It. Both of these products are super light, so when I touch my hair after using it, I don’t feel any residue on my hands. I think this is key for fine, thin hair because the weight of other products makes my hair look and feel gross.

      For the record, I bought a lifetime supply of Screw It last year because I’ve NEVER found another curl product that’s so light and works so well for my hair type, and I’m terrified they’ll discontinue it.

      1. WorkNowPaintLater*

        *takes notes*

        Thank you! My hair has gone from thick and fine to thin and fine with frizz and waves mixed in for fun. Been using a leave in oil everywhere but the scalp…but that is where the frizz hangs out.

    8. Quality Girl*

      Your hair sounds similar to mine. I am just starting to embrace the wave so I don’t have much experience, but I’ve been pretty happy with Prose so far. It’s pricey but they customize it to your needs and I am able to air dry my hair and have it look decent for the first time in my life.

    9. MissCoco*

      I have a similar hair type, thin, fine, and type 3A curls.

      I use “It’s a 10 leave in with keratin” after every shower as a leave-in conditioner which does most of what I need for frizz. In the winter I can get by with refreshing with water and diluting a few sprays on my hands with water, but in the summer I really need a more structural product or heat to get my curls to stay. I have found the deva curl gel is light enough if I apply it sparingly to wet hair.

      On non-shower days I wet my hair with a spray bottle of water and scrunch from there.

      I also think a high quality conditioner and low sulfate shampoo are pretty important to keeping my frizz at a reasonable level.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s funny because when you read the curl charts they seem to assume the hair is getting thicker or coarser as it gets curlier, but obviously I’m not alone in having very fine hair that is also quite curly.

        1. MissCoco*

          The Curly Girl book (which overall is a method that doesn’t work great for me, but I definitely use parts of) calls mine “cherub curls” I think it’s the only time I’ve seen any description of my actual hair type

          1. Sloanicota*

            Hmm I went to read it … it’s certainly close for me too – but weird that one of their factors is straight hair before puberty. I had tight corkscrews as a child that loosened as my hair grew out.

    10. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      My hair isn’t curly, but it’s certainly thin and fine. I’ve been using Fruit of the Earth Aloe gel lately, and I really like it. It feels and acts like a lightweight hair gel, makes my hair look fuller if I pouf it with my fingers before it dries, and frequently, I don’t even get bed hair – all I have to do is flick a little water on my hair in the morning to refresh it. And my hair stays clean much longer. I apply it to just-dry hair. it’s not a hair product, but made for skin. It’s also dirt cheap.

    11. CACentralValley*

      I have fine and wavy hair as well, but lots of it. Left untended, my hair looks like an abstract cloud following my head around.To note – I live in CA’s Central Valley which has very dry air, so keep that in mind. But here’s what I’m finding works.
      First, I keep my hair shortish, between ear and shoulder. Second, I only shampoo twice a week. Third, mornings I spritz my hair wet, then mix an Aveda serum (it’s in a blue bottle) and a sculpting cream in my palm, pull that through and scrunch the locks. Sometimes, I twirl top pieces.
      Then I leave it to air dry and after an hour or so, muss it up a little with my fingers. This gives me well behaved hair for most of the day. It starts to dry out and fray at the end of the day, and that’s usually when I clip about half of it at the nape of my neck and let the rest do what it’s gonna do.
      Hope this is helpful, good luck!

  16. Just anon*

    I need to clean a tub that has MONTHS of soap scum build up. Any products that work well?

    Our tub/shower area is one of those pre-fab, all in one piece kind.


      1. SG*

        (Bon Ami is gentle, I’m not sure what your tub’s finish is. Other cleaners like the Pink Stuff are more powerful but also abrasive and can damage a lot of finishes.)

      2. o_gal*

        Just remember – it won’t get those pesky blood stains off your organ keys. They even used Bon Ami!

    1. Old Plant Woman*

      Kaboom Oxi Clean shower, tub and tile. Goofy name, but wonderful product. Spray it on, go away, have a drink. Wash it down and repeat a time or so.

    2. Helvetica*

      For that kind of greasy/soapy residue, regular dish washing liquid is the bomb. It is already designed to remove greasy food residue, so works like magic in the bathroom.
      Source: I watch a lot of AuriKatariina on Youtube and that advice, along with other tips she has, as a professional cleaner, has made my life soooo much easier.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m intrigued. I get intimidated trying to clean my tub because the new liner came with all these warnings about not using abrasive cleaners that would scratch it. Gonna try dish washing liquid next time I’m in there showering.

        1. Bunny WatsonToo*

          I use a mixture of 2 tablespoons Dawn, 1 cup vinegar and a quart water in a spray bottle that was recommended by the company that installed my liner. By trial and error, I have found it works best to spray after a hot bath/shower – the heat must help loosen the scum.

          1. Girasol*

            I use something similar: 2 parts water 1 part vinegar. It takes a bit of effort to remove a thick coat of scum but a quick weekly spray and scrub keeps it off.

      2. The Shenanigans*

        Especially Dawn. That’s what they use to clean oil off birds and stuff. It is absolutely the best thing I’ve ever found to get soap, conditioner, etc like that off the shower.

    3. Lynn*

      I use magic erasers first to get off all the scum. Very little elbow grease and flakes right off. Then once I rinse all that down, I just use any cleaner to sort of disinfect it.

    4. Blythe*

      I use Comet with good success (wet tub, sprinkle, scrub, soak, scrub again, rinse).

    5. Qwerty*

      White vinegar + dish soap (like Dawn). I put it in a spray bottle and spray down the shower/tub. Leave it for a bit and it wipes down really easy without needing to scrub.

      For tough build up like you have, I’d let the mixture sit for at least 30min and use a sponge for the cleaning portion.

      When it is a lighter build up, I leave it for a minimal amount of time with the fan on (so there aren’t any fumes) and wipe down with a microfiber cloth.

      I’m super lazy about cleaning my shower. I like this mixture because it is easy and gets most of it – if you don’t get everything the first try, just do it again the next time you feel like taking a long shower.

    6. Jay*

      A good old fashioned scouring powder. Barkeepers Friend, Comet, Borax, anything like that. You just need to be careful how much you put down your drains at one time because it can actually clog them if you way over do it (it takes a LOT to do, but I did manage it once).

    7. Expiring Cat Memes*

      CLR Clear works really well for soap scum/hard water stains on our glass shower screen.

    8. nobadcats*

      Barkeeper’s Friend Soft Cleanser. They have products differentiated for stovetop/sink/cookware, and, in your case, bath. I’ll put the linky in my next reply, but you can just goog the first four words of this post and see it.

  17. Bethlam*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a user friendly, free calorie counting app? I control my weight best when I’m tracking my calorie intake. (And have lost 30 pounds, yay me.)

    I’ve been using the app with my Fitbit, which has worked very well, but it’s not very user friendly. For example: 1) You can’t delete any of your food entries. So if you put something in by mistake, or you have a food that you’ve eaten once and don’t anticipate eating it again, you can’t remove it from your food list. (You can remove it from your daily entry, just not from the overall list.) 2) You can’t alphabetize your food entries. That means that as your list gets bigger and bigger (by adding items and not being able to delete), it takes longer and longer to find a food for daily calorie-in entries. 3) You can only create combos in the computer desktop dashboard, and they don’t transfer to the app on your phone.

    I did a Google search on “best calorie tracking apps” and found recommendations for other ones out there. My Plate got high reviews and there’s a free version (they all offer premium paid versions), but I couldn’t set up an account without giving them a credit card for a “one month free premium account, you can cancel at any time.” Yeah, no. I have no intention of paying for the premium version, and I’m not giving my credit card for something I don’t intend to buy.

    I also tried Chronometer. It let me sign up for the free version, but it was almost impossible to use with all of the pop-up ads trying to interest me in upgrading to the premium version.

    So, has anyone used a good one, have any suggestions?

    1. sewsandreads*

      I used to use My Fitness Pal and quite liked it. However, that *is* the only one I tried!

      1. TTL*

        Same exact thing! I don’t use it anymore but I remember liking it pretty well. I think some of my friends use(d) it too

    2. Emmie*

      Many of the apps are charging for the things you want, but I thought MyFitnessPal was good – even with some recent changes. Congratulations on the weight loss!

    3. Bethlam*

      Shoot, I misspoke. it was MyFitnessPal that required the credit card; didn’t try My Plate.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        I’m using My Plate free version, didn’t have to enter a CC, and I think it does what you’re saying FitBit doesn’t.

    4. California Dreamin’*

      I use Lose It. I like it a lot. Recently upgraded to premium, but the free version was perfectly fine for me for several years.

      1. Jim Bob*

        I used to like Lose It, but they recently changed to an “annoy the users into buying Premium” business model, with unskippable video ads every time you add a food. Looking to switch now.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I like Cronometer because you can set it to track and display custom nutrients like sodium or potassium as well as calories or macros, and only display the ones you care about.

    6. DistantAudacity*

      I use Lifesum and am very pleased with it; I find it simple to use. It has a very big, good database of foods to either look up or scan a barcode.

      I do have a paid version though, and am bot sure where the line for limited features in the free version is.

    7. Lynn*

      If you JUST care about calories and not macros, I love the app Calory.

      Free, simple. You can look up foods for caloric amounts but you can also just input the number of calories without the food item so it’s FAST to use.

      Like if I eat two eggs I don’t have to search for “egg, large”, I can just input 140.

      Also it has a useful visual as you go through the day so you can see what percentage of your calorie goal you’ve eaten.

      I like it because it’s fast and simple and I have other things to do than fiddle with logging food for more time than I must!

    8. BookMom*

      Hmm.. I use the free version of My Fitness Pal and it hasn’t required a credit card… maybe I’m grandfathered in? I like that it has a recipe builder since I cook a lot.

    9. Bethlam*

      Thanks for the suggestions, I’ll give a couple of them a try.

      10 years ago the FDA (I think- it was something dot gov) had a fabulous website tracker and it had everything! My blood pressure had always been low, like 80 over 50, which was completely normal for me. With age and some weight gain it had been creeping up, and I used the micronutrients feature to manage my sodium intake. Never got back to the 80 over 50, but I’m able to keep it in the normal range now.

      They discontinued their tracker when phone apps became the thing.

    10. Observer*

      Lose It! is pretty good. It’s a freemium product, but the free version has most of the important features. I got the upgrade because it allow more break out of meal times.

  18. sewsandreads*

    Crafting thread! What are we making?

    I have not made anything because I wanted to knit, went to my local hobby shop, then got overwhelmed by how much I don’t remember about knitting, and left. Without buying anything!!! A RARE day.

    1. Feather Stone Haugh*

      I am not a sewing/knitting type crafter, my brain just doesn’t get on with these kind of tasks. I’ve tried! But horror of horrors, I’ve just discovered a surprising large hole on the elbow of my favourite, wear-almost-every-day jumper. Oh no! So I’ll have to get to YouTube and figure this out!

      1. sewsandreads*

        NOOO. Might be able to tell by the username that I am a crafter, but somehow I have a mental block whenever it comes to mending (case in point, the pile of buttons I have waiting to be stitched back on a dress I love). I send good vibes of productivity and success your way!

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Try a visit to reddit for the subs
        r/invisiblemending and r/visiblemending.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I am working on a double-knit Star Wars scarf for a dear friend – one end is Rebellion-themed, the other Empire, with the Millennium Falcon and the Death Star in the middle. I’m done with the Rebellion end and hoping to get through at least half of the MF/DS panel this weekend.

    3. Lifelong student*

      I crocheted a summer top in just one week. Put a pic up on a yarn crafters website yesterday morning and have already close to 500 likes! Very encouraging- particularly since in the last two weeks I have started three projects that I gave up on. Now I am making squares to add on to the lace tablecloth I made a few months ago since I found more thread in my stash.

        1. Lifelong student*

          It is called Casual Summer Top with Caron Simply Soft- on Lovecrafts web site. As of now- around 550 likes. It makes me feel loved.

    4. Sloanicota*

      May I ask a crafting thread of the crafters? I have have a sewing machine but the last time I used it, it wasn’t in good working order (something about the tension was way off) and I was not knowledgeable / confident enough to address it. Have people taken machines into quilting or fabric stores for repair and/or instruction? That’s a thing people do, right? I’d love to be able to sew some basic hems again, not looking for anything fancy. I don’t even know that it needs repair versus me just not having it set up right – I could use a refresher.

      1. Professor Plum*

        If it’s simply a matter of instruction you may find help on YouTube or from a friend who knows how to sew. Search for “adjust sewing machine tension” and perhaps add the brand of your machine. But getting the machine serviced may be beneficial. Some quilting/fabric stores will also do machine repair, but you may want a sewing machine and vacuum store that sells machines. (It can be a couple hundred dollars for servicing plus parts and labor if a problem is found.) They may have a sewing machines basics class that could be helpful, depending on the brand and age.

      2. LNLN*

        Yes, sewing machines do need maintenance and it usually is worth it to have one professionally serviced. What type of machine is it (brand, model)?

      3. sewsandreads*

        Sometimes you’ll find shops that exclusively sell sewing machines, and they’ll do repairs/services. My local craft/sewing shop, for example, doesn’t repair, but the sewing machine shop does. They’ll also talk you through issues! Just check they service your brand of machine.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know if this counts, but I got a little ugly brown piece of furniture at the thrift store for $3.50 (yep, you read that right). It has a large woven-front drawer and an opening above that — I think it might have been a nightstand, or some kind of end table. It makes an absolutely perfect small TV stand. I think I’ll attach legs to it to make it taller and paint it white. :)

      Pic: https://i.imgur.com/Td6R25a.jpg

    6. LNLN*

      I have signed up for a two day workshop in Indigo dying in a few weeks. I have been stitching fabric (by hand) to prepare it for dying. After stitching, I will pull up the threads so the fabric is tightly gathered and the fabric in the gathers resist the dye. Depending on the stitching lines, different patterns can be created. The stitching technique is called Shibori.

    7. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m continuing to make scrappy granny squares with my leftover sock yarn. I’m also starting on a summer tank using an alpaca silk.

    8. Silence*

      Just finished my first lace shawl and have cast on a beanie for my Mother who is visiting at the end of June

  19. DC on a Budget*

    Washington DC!

    I will be there (most likely) August 11-14 (or there abouts). Most likely staying out in Friendship Heights due to budget and the type of hotel we need.

    Looking for budget food/entertainment ideas. We’ll be a 5-10 minute walk from the red line, and while we all (3) plan on driving in, will be relying on public transportation while there. And by budget we’re looking at $10-$15/person. Though we will probably splurge at least once on dinner.

    The general plan is Smithsonian’s during the day and monuments at night. I’ve been a couple of times, but I don’t think the other 2 have.

    1. Emma*

      Cava is a really delicious Mediterranean chain that started in Maryland that I went to in DC for the first time. it’s similar to Chipotle in style, and at that price point. I also went to sweet green (build your own salads), another chain, that was good. Both would be at that price point.

      1. Emma*

        And apparently sweet green originated in DC!

        I also remember going to the Halal Guys (also a chain), and it being tasty.

        Mezeh is another chain, similar to Cava. yum!

        Mandu is tasty Korean food, not in that price point, if you want something yummy one night. We got some kind of bulgogi bowl in a hot stone bowl with crispy rice from the bowl. so good!

    2. CityMouse*

      How walk friendly is your party and any kind of cuisine? August in DC can be hot and humid.

      My suggestion is get a bit off the Mall for food, either heading into the Penn Quarter area (North from the mall) or to Eastern Market (down Pennsylvania from the Capitol). If you do eat at a Smithsonian cafeteria the two best known ones are at Museum of the American Indian or Museum of African American History. They do run a bit pricey. My one “never ever ever” again Smithsonian food location is the Castle.

      When I worked Downtown I used to like Teaism, though they’re slightly on the higher end.

      Friendship Heights is a bit of a food deadzone so you don’t want to be wandering around there looking for food or you might end up at Cheesecake Factory. I’m not even kidding. Either go one stop up to Bethesda or down a couple to Adams Morgan or Dupont.

      What kind of Entertainment are you looking for?

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree that August in DC can be really hot/humid/buggy, unfortunately, and prone to downpours in the late afternoon. Also, with the amount of walking, everyone should be A-plus on their shoe game. Walking around the tidal basin at evening, which I highly recommend, means walking ten minutes to the metro, transferring from Red to Blue/Orange/Silver line (IIRC) and then walking a couple miles from there, then doing it again in reverse. At your price point the main thing will be not buying alcohol out, which gets really pricey (it’s a land of $21 cocktails and $14 beers, although you can find happy hour deals if this is your main goal). There are a good deal of free events down on the mall – movie screenings, festivals etc.

      2. CityMouse*

        Museums: Air and Space is slightly chaotic right now because they’re partially reopened after renovations. Do try to get a reservation there if you want to go. You could drive out to Udvar Hazy but it is a bit of a drive.

        National Gallery is always great but it’s huge so have a plan. Don’t sleep on the smaller ones like Freer Sackler (Peacock Room). Building Museum usually does a large exhibit in the atrium in the summers.

        1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

          Yes the A&S is kind of a hot mess due to renovations, I 2nd the Udvar Hazy if you have interest in all things air and space. My dad is a docent there and it truly has a ton of unique things in a massive space!

          For others, also recommend National Museum of American Indian (great cafe!!) and Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown.

          1. noncommittal pseudonym*

            Also, the Renwick gallery. It’s American Arts & Crafts, and is a favorite of mine.

            1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

              Thank you, I was trying to think of that on earlier and it IS fabulous! :)

      3. DC on a budget*

        We’re super open to walking/public transportation! It’s our preferred method of transportation when traveling, so walking many miles a day is our MO. And open to any type of cuisine, though 2/3 have a peanut allergy and 1 doesn’t eat seafood. We’re picky but good about finding something we’ll eat just about anywhere.

        I did notice that there weren’t a ton of food options in Friendship Heights, but we’d only be eating out there in a pinch for a late night snack, so ending up at The Cheesecake Factory wouldn’t be the end of the world. It seems to work best for the type of hotel we need within our budget though.

        Any type of entertainment suggestions are welcome. My sister is a former band kid, currently into theater. It’s her trip. Her dad and I are just along for the ride lol. Just looking for ideas to have in my back pocket.

        I’m from Michigan so I’m familiar with hot and muggy summer days. I’d of like to have gone in the fall. unfortunately August is what works best for everyone’s schedule.

        1. CityMouse*

          Unfortunately the Folger Shakespeare Library think will still be closed then but they will be doing performances at the Building Museum.

          You should check Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap, I have seen stuff at National, Roundhouse and Signature. The Olney is cool but a bit far.

    3. Once too Often*

      Hotel Washington has a rooftop bar/cafe with great views. When I lived in DC it was a regular stop, especially with visitors. Watching the evening fade and the lights on the monuments turn on was a particular pleasure. On slow nights we could hang out for hours over a single drink & snack – & tipped really well.

    4. Former DCer*

      If you’re in Friendship Heights I highly recommend a visit to Politics and Prose – great bookstore not too far away in Chevy Chase, and they have a cafe (check the hours) with the best grilled cheese I’ve ever had. Looks like there’s also a Call Your another deli (good bagels) over there now and an ice cream shop.

      One stop south from Friendship Heights is Tenleytown, the American University stop. It has a number of chains including Panera, if you’re in a hurry, and I’m a fan of Nando’s Peri Peri (chicken restaurant!). From Friendship Heights you can also catch a bus down Wisconsin to Tenley, onto Cathedral Heights where there a few restaurants (Cactus Cantina is meant to be good) and I highly recommend the Open City cafe at the National Cathedral, plus a visit to the Bishop’s Garden there.

      Lots of grocery stores in the Friendship/Tenley/Cathedral areas (including Wegmans!) so you might be able to get prepared food to eat outside. Maybe it’s changed post pandemic but pre pandemic if you were trying to go anywhere moderately nice in day Georgetown on a Friday or Saturday it was worth it to make a reservation.

      Other folks have mentioned DC August heat and it’s definitely rough. There are bus lines that circle the Mall and it’s worth taking a bus for a little while to cool off and save your feet. My favorite monument is FDR and it can feel a little far at the end of the day.

      The Renwick sometimes has quirky exhibits and is worth checking out depending on what’s there. The Portrait Gallery is (or at least was) open later than the other Smithsonian museums, and it’s off the Mall and closer to places to eat. I’ve never been to the big Botanical Gardens but the one on the Mall is cool and a fast visit. If you like Shakespeare, the Folger Library is a quick stop (with a nice tiny gift shop) and their theater productions are great if there is one to get tickets to. Plus Capitol Hill is just a fun neighborhood to wander — Capitol Hill Books is worth a visit and there are some places to eat there over that way.

      Oh, and if you’re up for driving once (because I think even from where you’re staying it’s be easier to drive than take transit, and honestly, while it’s not fun to drive in DC I managed it as an adult with very little driving experience!), Old Town Alexandria is a very cute, lots of places to eat and walk and shop and a really lovely waterfront.

      Have a great time!

    5. Reba*

      Go ahead and reserve your passes for NMAAHC, they go quick.

      For moderate food options near the Mall/Penn quarter/gallery place, you have Bindaas Bowls & Rolls, Roti, and Spice 6 for Indian ish, Sweet green and Chopt for salads, Teaism (Asian ish) and Rice Bowl (Korean fast casual). There are a handful of decent pizza spots as well.

      I’m sorry to say you won’t be getting very far on $10. Lots of good options for that splurge though :P In a pinch there are tons of food trucks around the mall but they are mostly weird and sad (I could go on about the golden age of food trucks before COVID…)

      Up in Friendship heights there are quite a few sandwich shops, Satay Club, Z burger, and I am sure there is a Cava or three up that way.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      Two things I hardly ever see mentioned, but our family loved: the Museum of the American Indian, and the National Arboretum. They are next to each other near the Library of Congress.

      1. Imtheone*

        Lunch at the Museum of the American Indian is unusual and special. cafeteria style, with a focus on Native American foods and cuisines.

      2. Grits McGee*

        Are you maybe thinking of the National Botanic Garden rather than the National Arboretum? The Arboretum is on the southwest side of the District.

        1. CityMouse*

          The Arboretum is cool too though.

          My weird thing I like is the Grotto on the Capitol Grounds. Don’t get me wrong, it takes about 2 minutes to visit, but it’s a quiet shady place to sit and refill your water bottle.

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      One of my favorite places in DC is the Kennedy Center- they have free performances every day at 6pm and the rooftop terrace has a spectacular view. The restaurant and cafe is not cheap, so I like to bring a picnic and eat either at the tables up there or on the lawn of the REACH plaza. If you are there on a Wednesday, the Foggy Bottom farmer’s market has a great empanada vendor.
      I think the true cheap eats are in the suburbs, (A& J, East Dumpling House, both in Rockville are two of my favorite places. In Takoma Park, The Middle Eastern Restaurant has an amazing Monday mezze platter special for $15, which I can stretch for two or three days)
      I will say, a $10 meal is a bit of a stretch for this area, but $15-ish is probably doable:
      In DC proper, some of my favorite places (closer to $15 than $10 for sure:)
      Shouk – vegan middle Eastern
      Chinatown Express- handmade noodles and dumplings in Chinatown
      New Dynasty- in Dupont- our favorite cheap Chinese place
      Various farmer’s markets

    8. OtterB*

      Friendship Heights food: Booeymonger deli. I like their sandwiches and salads.

      Sightseeing: you could spend a long time at the Smithsonian museums without ever running out of things to see, but you could also take a DC Circulator bus from the Farragut North metro stop over to Georgetown and walk around. Historic buildings, unique little shops, C&O canal towpath, little food places.

      I like the National Building Museum, but not free.

    9. Grits McGee*

      8 year DC resident, and I’ll echo what others have said- $15 is going to be the bare minimum for a meal in DC, even for fast food. If you really need to stick to this budget, I definitely recommend packing snacks that you can sub for meals or getting wraps/sandwiches from grocery stores. There are definitely some restaurants with budget specials, but they are few and far between and you would need to plan the rest of your day’s itinerary around it.

      National Mall advice:
      -The food trucks on the mall are not great. Penn Quarter to the north and the Wharf to the south have budget-friendlier options.
      -The cafeteria at the American Indian Museum has been suggested a couple times, but the last time I was there (granted, back in Nov) it was disappointing and expensive ($20 for a bowl of gloopy soup). I don’t think they’ve recovered from the pandemic yet. If you absolutely need to eat in a museum, the Cascade Cafe in the National Gallery of Art has moderately priced and pretty tasty, if unexciting, options.
      -If you’re pressed for time, skip the Natural History Museum. There’s nothing there that you wouldn’t find in a natural history museum in any other major US city. The only truly unique artifact is the Hope diamond, and the museum will be *packed* in the summer.
      -On Fridays, USDA has a farmers market next to the Whitten Building on the mall. There are food vendors, and sometimes there are petting zoos. Oh, and if you’re in a bind, the USDA cafeteria in the Whitten Building is open to the public. I haven’t eaten there since February of 2020, but it shouldn’t be too expensive.
      -Don’t forget about museums off of the Mall! Smithsonian National Portrait Galley/American Art Museum is north of the mall, as well as the National Archives. The National Archives museum will be closed for renovation during your visit, but if you do want to see the declaration of independence/constitution, get there early in the morning because there’s always a line. The National Postal Museum is next to Union Station and very charming. There’s also the Renwick Gallery next to the White House.
      -The Old Post Office tower is open to the public, and gives you views of the city.
      -FYI- while the Mall is always pretty safe and there are people around day and night, the blocks around the mall are deserted after dark because they’re mostly federal buildings with no apartments/businesses for people to visit after the business day ends. I don’t like to walk by myself in parts of DC where no one is around (esp at night), but that’s a matter of personal preference.

      Metro/travel advice:
      -The cost for metro trips will be $3-3.50 during the week and $2 on the weekend. Depending on how much you plan to use the metro, you might want to look into a pass.
      -There are also low cost circulator buses that loop around the tourist hot spots. They take the same transit card as the metro, but I’m not sure if you can use a multi-day pass.
      -You can definitely save money by walking, which I do a ton. In DC, elevation tends to get lower as you go south, so plan accordingly.

      As far as food-
      -In Friendship Heights, you’re a (relatively) short metro ride to DuPont Circle, which has a bunch of food options at various price points. Taim and Un je ne sais Quoi are my personal go-tos if I don’t want to spend a ton of money.
      -If you’re looking for a budget splurge, there are deals to be had during the week at the various Jose Andres restaurants in Penn Quarter. Jaleo does a $26 4-course tapas lunch; Oyamel has $8 house margaritas, free chips+salsa (very rare for DC), and good food specials at happy hour; and Zatinya has $6 pides during happy hour.

      Hope this helps! DC is going to be at it’s hottest and sweatiest in August, so be sure to bring refillable water bottles and take breaks!

    10. Dicey Tillerman*

      In Friendship Heights: Potomac Pizza is practically on top of the metro station. Your basic local pizza place; it’s a small, family-owned chain. Get the garlic knots with extra marinara.

      In Bethesda: Thai Kitchen, owned by a very lovely husband and wife. Delicious pineapple fried rice, pad see euw, and Thai iced tea. I lived a block away for two years, and it was the only thing I wanted for dinner on my last night in town.

      Multiple locations: Chopt, Sweetgreen, Cava, Bethesda Bagels, Shake Shack.

      Have a great trip, and please let us know where you end up going! :)

  20. Pippa K*

    Amsterdam Falafelshop on 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Not near where you’re staying, but you’ll probably be close enough at some point while you’re out and about. Inexpensive and delicious!

  21. Bobina*

    Lisbon recommendations – I’ll be there for work at the end of July and tacking on a few extra days where I’ll be working remotely. So things to do in the evenings or more realistically, places to eat :D

    I’ll also have a free Saturday – is there one (1) thing I shouldnt miss? I like my holidays to be relaxed and not feel like I’m rushing from place to place, so I’d prefer either leisurely exploring a neighbourhood or seeing something really unique. Museums arent really my jam – would rather have an experience/walking tour/food tour etc

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Sintra (outside of Lisbon) is great – recommend a half day trip there. Depending on finances, you can book a local guide through WithLocals or similar, to get the most efficient transport. It’s a little but higher with slightly more wind, which might be good!

      Sintra is where the summer residences were, after all :)

      1. MissGirl*

        Second Sintra. The train is super cheap but I actually took an Uber because I was getting heat stroke and just wanted to be done and that was fairly affordable and easy to do. Buy a ticket for the main Palace ahead of time as that sells out. I liked the castle in Lisbon itself and enjoyed that ticket.

    2. Pearl Grey*

      For interesting shopping and eateries visit LX Factory, a 19th century industrial space that’s been transformed into a creative hub of culture, food, fashion, art, and nightlife. There is also an outdoor market here on Sundays with crafts and vintage items.

      Take a ferry ride across the river to Cacilhas and stroll west on Rua do Ginjal along the waterfront where you’ll see some amazing street art on your way to dinner at Ponto Final. We went there in November, only to find that this outdoor restaurant with views of Lisbon across the water was closed due to inclement weather. Ponto Final is popular so you might need a reservation. There are also several other seafood restaurants at the pier near the ferry landing at Cacilhas. My Airbnb recommended Restaurante Farol. To get to Cacilhas from Lisbon, take the Metro to Cais do Sodré (south end of the Green Line) and transfer to the ferry from there. If you buy a 24 hour Metro ticket, you can add the ferry fare for 3€.

      For a little history, meander the hilly streets of the Alfama district. At night you could visit a Fado restaurant, but you’ll hear plenty of Fado music by just walking around. If you can tolerate lots of tourists, Castelo de São Jorge is a must both for its historic significance and great views of the city. If you’re in the neighborhood on a Tuesday or Saturday, go to the Feira da Ladra flea market in Campo de Santa Clara then pop your head into the Pantheon while you’re there. Also nearby is Santa Clara dos Cogumelos, a restaurant specializing in mushroom dishes. We really wanted to eat there, but weren’t there at the right time. One warning about the Alfama district: if cruise ships are docked in the river, there are likely to be throngs of tourists around. Of course, that may be the case all over Lisbon in the summer.

      We got everywhere we wanted to be on foot or via the Metro system (train, bus, or tram). In addition to the sites described above, we also enjoyed visiting the Se, the Belem Tower, the Martin Moniz plaza, the Fado Museum, and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (aka MAAT) which has a cool roof that you can walk on directly from the sidewalk.

      Enjoy your stay in Lisbon!

  22. Bobina*

    Second request – I’m looking for hefty salad recipes! Summer is arriving and it immediately means I’m looking for all the lighter/vegetable type things.

    Just a leafy salad doesnt usually cut it in terms of me feeling full, so ideally it would include things like roast vegetables, couscous/some kind of grain, potatoes, wild/brown rice etc. I’m looking for inspiration more than anything else just so I dont end up at the local cafe which does a great salad bowl but is usually on the pricier end!

    No food restrictions, so go wild.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      Black bean salad:

      The main ingredients are
      – salsa
      – black beans
      – corn

      with a bit of
      – lemon juice
      – cumin
      – scallions

      for extra flavor. Not strict proportions, go with whatever is tastiest to you. Can be eaten on its own or with corn chips.

      1. Seltaeb*

        I make a similar salad, that also has avocado and a can of hominy (either white or yellow is fine; I can pretty reliably find it in the Goya section, and sometimes from other brands in the Latin American aisle).

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Charred Broccoli and Date Salad

      2 broccoli heads, chopped
      6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
      small wedge of Manchego cheese, broken up
      1/2 cup almonds (Marcona if have)
      1 tsp honey
      1 T cider vinegar

      Preheat oven to 425°. Put broccoli in bowl and pour olive oil over. Toss and sprinkle with salt. Move to baking sheet.

      Roast until charred on bottom, then flip each piece and bake some more.

      Transfer to bowl. Sprinkle with dates, almond, and cheese. Pour vinegar and honey over and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings.

      If you soak the dates in the vinegar it cuts their sweetness, and my husband prefers it with this tweak. This is a reliable one dish dinner for us.

      1. BethDH*

        I make a similar one but use craisins, which I also often soak in the dressing ahead of time. I usually add a little orange or lemon zest as well.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      This is a really delicious salad that you can do with or without chicken. Cut in half to feed 2.

      Crunchy Mango and Avocado Salad

      Optional Chicken:
      1-2 chicken breasts
      poaching flavoring (tea, cardamom, star anise)

      2 T tahini
      2 T lemon juice
      1 T oil (olive, avocado)
      2 T soy sauce
      2 tsp minced ginger
      1 tsp honey
      ½ tsp garlic powder

      6 cups thinly sliced Savoy cabbage
      3 cups thinly sliced radicchio
      ½ cup cilantro
      ¼ cup mint
      2 scallions
      1 mango
      1 avocado
      1 lime
      ½ cup cashews

      If using chicken, poach chicken breasts and allow to cool, shred by hand.

      Mix ingredients for dressing—mini chopper or a mug and immersion blender work well.

      Set aside some herbs to sprinkle on top.

      Combine salad greens and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add mango, and chicken. Toss with dressing and spread on platter.

      Dice avocado and toss with lime juice. Sprinkle avocado, cashews, and herbs over salad.

    4. Llama Llama*

      My go to salad has spinach, carrots, cucumber, olives, cheese, croutons (I make them out of leftover bread), mandarin oranges, and chicken (usually rotisserie).

    5. Salads*

      My absolute favorite

      Spring greens
      Green Onion
      Dried cranberries
      Candied walnuts or pecans
      those dried onion thingies
      feta or goat cheese
      green apple (sliced into match sticks)
      grilled chicken
      balsamic vinegar

    6. PhyllisB*

      If you’re a meat eater, you might enjoy one I love: raw spinach with shredded chicken, fresh strawberries, crumbled feta cheese, and candied pecans or walnuts. Dress it with a raspberry balsamic dressing. Kraft used to make a strawberry balsamic, but haven’t seen it lately so may be discontinued. if you want more stuff in it, throw in some raisins or dried cranberries or dried blueberries. This is a great way to use up the tag ends of a rotisserie chicken.

    7. Professor Plum*

      I’ll give you my favorite salad dressing to make when you’ve finished a jar of dill pickles. I usually make this in a pint jar but any jar will do. Combine dill pickle juice with plain Greek yogurt in a ratio of about 1/3 pickle juice to 2/3 Greek yogurt. Add salt, garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Cover tightly and shake. I use the herbs that come as pastes in a tube so I just squirt out about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of each. It’s very dilly—Yum!

      For my salads, I’ve discovered that using chopped cabbage instead of other greens makes it heartier. I often have cucumbers, tomatoes, rotisserie chicken, cottage cheese, roasted sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds. A plate of this is a full meal for me.

    8. Vanessa*

      1. Apple, blue cheese ,cheddar cheese, walnuts or pecans, raspberry vinnegrette ( I like to add basil and garlic powder) on your choice of greens.
      2. Beets, quinoa, soft goat cheese, pecans or walnuts. I’m finding my fav dressing for this one. So far there is a champagne vinaigrette that is nice. Great with arugula. Any green will do.
      3. Snack pack mandarin oranges, wonton crisps, sugar snap peas, sliced almonds, julienne carrots, sesame vinaigrette. Good with cabbage or your choice of greens

      I pretty consistently put chicken on salad but your choice of protein.

    9. anonagain*

      I like sweet potato + green apple + avocado + salad greens + sprouts + marinated tofu. I think it would probably be good with any kind of grain added too.

    10. Peanut Hamper*

      I know this sounds weird, but sometimes when I have leftover cooked burger patties from a cookout, I’ll make a hamburger salad.

      I put potato chips in the bottom of the bowl, then lettuce. I’ll heat up a cooker burger or two (depending on size), and break them up over the lettuce, followed by some shredded cheese. I then add what basically goes on a burger: chopped tomatoes, chopped green olives, finely diced onion, pickle slices, etc. For dressing, I’ll use a combination of mayonnaise and ketchup, with a bit of mustard and relish mixed in (and if I remember, a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce).

      It sounds weird, but sometimes I’m in the mood for weird.

    11. Bluebell*

      Smitten Kitchen has a lot of good meal salad ideas. I made her summer pool slaw last year and I think that could have tofu or animal protein added and be great.

    12. carcinization*

      Not sure if you’re into pasta salad but Smitten Kitchen has some good ones, like Pasta & Fried Zucchini Salad, and Pasta Salad with Roasted Carrots and Sunflower Seed Dressing. I also like her Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese.

    13. Pieforbreakfast*

      Island Heat Salad: 2 generous servings

      3 Tbl vegetable oil
      2 Tbl red wine vinegar
      1 med carrot, peeled and shredded
      1/2 cup shredded jicama
      1/2 cup shredded red cabbage
      4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved
      2 scallions, chopped
      1 whole Scotch Bonnet, jalapeno or other hot chile pepper, punctured with a fork
      1 cup packed spinach leaves, chopped
      1 cup chopped green or red leaf lettuce
      1 cup cooked or canned small red chili beans or pigeon peas, drained (Goya makes canned pigeon peas, look in the Mexican food section)
      2 ounces smooth goat cheese, chopped
      Salt and pepper to taste
      Heat the oil and vinegar in a skillet. Add the carrot, jicama, cabbage, tomatoes, scallions and chile pepper and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the spinach, lettuce and beans and cook for about 3 minutes more, stirring frequently. Blend in the goat cheese and seasonings and cook for 1 minute more.
      Remove the vegetables from the heat and serve hot on a plate. Take out the chile pepper and give to the hot foods fan at the table.

    14. marvin*

      I like a salade niçoise quite a lot. The classic ingredients are tomatoes, tuna or anchovies, olives and hard-boiled eggs, but it’s common to add green beans, small boiled potatoes, red peppers, artichoke hearts, and/or lettuce. It’s pretty customizable. It’s usually served as a “composed salad” meaning that the ingredients are plated individually rather than all mixed together.

    15. Rosemary*

      My favorite super lazy, no chop/no cook salad – Trader Joe’s Southwestern Chopped Salad kit, doctored with the following:
      – Grilled chicken strips (or sometimes I will use frozen breaded chicken tenders when I don’t mind “cooking”)
      – Can of black beans
      – Avocado
      – TJ’s crispy jalapeno pieces

    16. Sarcasm required*

      some kind of protein* usually is necessary for me to feel full for more than 5min.

      *canned beans, chicken, fish, ham are best, nuts, seeds, and cheese don’t seem to do it for me

    17. Girasol*

      Chicken waldorf, if you eat chicken. That’s cut up cold chicken (leftovers from a roast chicken, usually) with chopped celery, chopped raw apple, raisins, and nuts (usually pecan or walnut.) Dress it with mayo perhaps thinned with a bit of fruit juice.

    18. ronda*

      Martha Stewarts chopped vegetables salad
      its lots of veggie to chop. but folks liked it the one time I made it.

      the other popular one I have brought to get togethers is cowboy caviar. usually do it as a dip with tortilla chips, but you can put it over lettuce for a salad.

    19. Soup*

      For lunch the next two days I prepped a version of a vermicelli bowl. It’s like a Vietnamese pasta salad. I made mine with rice noodles, grilled chicken, thinly sliced cucumber, shredded carrots, green onion, red lettuce, green onion and cilantro, topped with a vinaigrette and some fresh lime juice. It’s fresh and light while still being filling.

      This is the recipe I used as inspiration:

      I did sub rice wine vinegar for the fish sauce as my partner cannot stand the smell of fish sauce. (Neither can I but boy do I love it). I didn’t feel like I was missing out though.

    20. Bobina*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! I think I’ll have fun working my way through them.

    21. beach read*

      For a hearty salad I do a deli Turkey BLT with homemade baguette croutons that are toasted w/butter. I dress with mayo. I like to warm the turkey and the bacon, I don’t mind the slight lettuce wilt. It’s basically a deconstructed turkey club sandwich. Instead of bread, you could use pasta. Or maybe both? Dunno, never tried that.

  23. Anonyme*

    -Granny Smith Apple

    Dressing: Soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, touch of maple syrup.

    1. Salads*

      If you soak the apple in 1/2 teaspoon salt per 1 cup water for 10 mins, and then rinse them, they won’t turn brown for a few days (at least)

      1. Veronica*

        Cool tip! Another option that works for my family is to soak apple slices in orange juice. They stay fresh for days and days. I’ve found it very helpful when prepping salad/ lunch items for the week ahead.

  24. Hlao-roo*

    Writing thread! Haven’t had one of these in a while. What (non-work, non-school) writing have you been working on this week? Any type of non-work/non-school writing fit in here.

    These days, I mostly write my journal and not much else. I aim to journal most days (I found aiming for everyday was unrealistic), and this week I wrote every day except Thursday.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I bought a manual typewriter off eBay a few months ago and have used it to create a zine. I just finished the second issue, and am working on the third.

      It’s quite satisfying to write on a manual typewriter again. Lots of crash and bang! I’m loving it and wish I had bought one sooner. (And may buy another one later this year so the first one has a friend. It turns out typewriter collecting is quite the thing!)

      I do write in a journal on a more or less daily basis. I love just sharpening a pencil and going at in an old-fashioned school notebook.

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      I wrote in my journal for an hour today! And this week I plan to makes notes in preparation for editing my novel.

    3. Maryn*

      Wrapping up the fourth and final book in a series. My beta reader has agreed to re-read the second half after I made massive changes based on their input. This afternoon I finished a bar fight scene, my first ever. (I swear, the sex scenes take less choreography.)

  25. Loopy*

    Thanks for everyone who provided tips on visiting Acadia National Park a while ago. I used several of the tips (especially the advice on carriage roads and visiting the quieter, western side of the park). We immensely enjoyed it. I only had to stave the feeling of such regret at leaving a place that felt so right, so soothing, like this was the only place I wanted to be in the entire world. Of course, when it gets busier as the tourist season begins I’m sure the experience changes a bit, so realizing that helped. But we managed to stay away from crowds and on peaceful quiet trails! It was truly a dream trip.

    This week, I am hoping some readers may have some success / recovery stories of pets who have come back from a stroke. Our almost 13 year old dog had one about a week and a half ago. Since we are working closely with our vet, I don’t need medical advice for him. He’s eating, drinking, going to the bathroom and more himself as days go on, but he’s still so easily confused and sometimes just looks so lost. Any stories of hope are very welcome. It’s so hard to see him like this.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      13 year old golden retriever had a stroke or some sort of neurological issue, so a family member booked an appointment for about four days in the future at the vet to put him down, because this happened near the holidays so we wanted some people who were coming in from out of town to have a chance to say good-bye. The morning of the appointment, we took the dog for one “last” walk in the woods and he seemed so happy. He definitely favored one side when he ran and looked a little confused that he had to continually correct after drifting to the left, but we could all see that he wasn’t ready to go. When we got home from the woods, we called the vet to cancel the appointment and he lived another three months in good spirits before he had another stroke and it was finally time to put him down.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        For what it’s worth, elderly dogs frequently get something called idiopathic vestibular syndrome. The nerve in the middle ear suddenly misfires and to them, the horizon suddenly tilted to one side. They develop neurologic signs on one side and severe gait issues. They usually present to the vet for “possible stroke” and are accompanied by an entire weeping family. It’s a lovely feeling to be able to tell the family that there is a good chance they will be back to normal in a few days. It does tend to recur.

  26. SuprisinglyADHD*

    How could I train a dog to stay out of the kitchen?
    A family member who is usually on the road except a few days a month has a dog. For the next few months, they will be home, not traveling. The dog is sweet but only partially trained: She knows come, sit, and lay down but will only do them if you have a treat in your hand. She will “stay” for up to 45 seconds if you watch her, but if you turn around or give a reward she thinks the “trick” is over and jumps up. She respects barriers, and won’t walk through a partially closed door or hop the tiny gate for the “cats only” room. But she has no boundaries, if there’s not a physical door or gate she ignores all rules, including walking around a human who steps in front of her to get in.
    She is highly food focused, and will steal off the counter, your plate, or even your hand. Ideally I would like her to sit outside the kitchen on her rug while we’re cooking, but she wants to be in the kitchen licking the floor and trying to get the food we’re working with. I can’t spend a couple of hours every day telling her to go out and sit/lay every 30 seconds.
    Her owner isn’t spending the necessary time to train her thoroughly. She’s used to living in a truck with him (and loves it), but she has no house manners. She is VERY attention needy and prefers to follow a close as possible to anyone walking around (like nose-up-your-butt close). Rewarding her with praise or treats every time she goes to her rug isn’t convincing her to spend any more time there, and she’s not grasping “stay” at all. Any suggestions? or am I just gonna have to put her away (in the room with her owner) every time we cook?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Could you have her go in a crate with a nice juicy bone or a kong stuffed with peanut butter? How about having her on a long leash that is secured away from the kitchen, and again give her a nice distraction? If not, I suggest putting up a swing gate into the kitchen to block her off physically from the space. We did work on ‘stay in place’ with my dog, but it took a long time to get from just a few seconds to up to ten minutes; you can’t really expect her to get it quickly, particularly if you’re the only one reinforcing it and when counter-surfing is self-reinforcing because she’s getting food rewards from it.

      1. JSPA*

        came here to say that if she likes truck living, she’ll be FINE with having “crate time.” This isn’t a punishment! More like a home base or den.

        1. SuprisinglyADHD*

          Hmm, she doesn’t have a crate at the moment, but I do close her in with her owner while he’s working/playing on the computer. She’s perfectly happy in a small space with him, it only feels mean to me, not her.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        She’s not very distractable when there’s human food in the vicinity but I can “gate” her off in a smaller room (most of the house is open-plan with no real doorways). And you’re right about not being effective if I’m the only one training.

    2. just another queer reader*

      I’m not a dog expert (and interested to hear others’ thoughts) but given what you’ve said on the timeline (a couple months) and owner’s motivation to train her (low), seems like the only practical solution will be to physically keep her out.

      Baby gate between the kitchen and room with her rug, stick her in a room, put her in the backyard if that’s an option…

      1. Reba*

        Agree on baby gate or other physical barriers. This is probably a few months’ training project, *with* owner’s cooperation.

        Working up the “down stay” is likewise a slow ramp training project. You have to build longer and longer (and unmonitored) stays bit by bit. So again without owners buy in I think the quickest path to peace is to not allow the dog the chance to do the unwanted behavior.

      2. SuprisinglyADHD*

        Eventually the backyard will be an option, right now we’re waiting on work to replace missing gates. I’m looking forward to that!

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I feel like this is less “you have to put her away in the room with her owner” and more “ok, it’s time to cook, her owner has to come keep her out of your way.” If he’s not gonna train her, she has to be primarily his problem.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I honestly don’t know how people can manage to train their dogs if not everybody in the house is on the same page. My boy did … not come trained and it took some really strange interventions (Nothing on the counters!! At all!! Not one thing!! For at least a month!!) and honestly he’s still pretty weird sometimes, although he did stop counter-surfing. If other people forgot and left things up there, he never would have learned.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If she respects barriers, can you put up a barrier that inhibits her but not you? I’m thinking like those old fashioned bead curtains that you can just walk through, or I think they make them now out of string or ribbons. Depending on the entry to the room, you could hang something off an expandable shower curtain rod.

      You could try training her starting with larger barriers that she understands, and then gradually removing them/making them smaller. Like, start with a row of traffic cones, then remove a few and space them more widely, then go down to mini cones, etc. Which would be great if you feel like doing it and it works. But otherwise I’d just get a simple barrier and keep her out.

    5. fposte*

      Agreeing that everybody in the house has to be on the same page. Some things that may help are a crate or leashing her, and consider giving her a lick mat while she’s on her special outside of the kitchen spot so she’s rewarded for being there. The idea isn’t that you’re training her not to go into the kitchen, you’re training her to be on this space when you are in the kitchen. It’s easier in dogs, as in other animals including humans, to train *to* do something than *not* to do something.

      1. SuprisinglyADHD*

        I’ve never heard of a lick mat, that might be something she likes! Although I might need to give each cat one too, they get so jealous when the dog gets treats

    6. Samwise*

      Baby gate. Or lock her away while you cook an eat. It not harm her at all and you won’t have to listen to whimpering or see sad puppy eyes.

    7. 00ff00Claire*

      Not sure if you are still checking comments, but in case you are I thought I would share. I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve had to work with our dog on some behaviors. A resource I would recommend is Susan Garrett and her youtube channel, called Dogs That. The youtube videos are good and they contain actionable info that you can put to use. I will give you a disclaimer that there is also plenty of advertising for the paid resources & online lessons. Our fearful & reactive Chihuahua has made good progress using her techniques, including learning to stay in her bed even while I am doing things that would otherwise send her into a frenzy, like getting her dinner ready. I would describe the methods as: developing impulse control in the dog, teaching the dog when they are allowed to do X, Y, or Z, and then applying that to different contexts.

      These videos on youtube target the problems you are having: “How To Teach A Dog To Stay WITHOUT Luring, Collar Pops Or Using The Word “Stay” #134 #podcast”; “How to Train Your Dog to Leave It with No Command”; “How Do I Stop My Dog Counter Surfing?! #33”; “Fix Your Dog’s Counter Surfing Before It Starts”. It’s not an overnight fix, but I think with the positive-reinforcement methods one person could do the training and you would see progress in the timeframe of a few weeks, as long as the other members of the household were on board at least enough to not actively sabotage the training (ie, encouraging the dog to eat off their plate, refusing to put food away off the counter, etc).

  27. Fit Farmer*

    After sorting through some books I’ve ended up re-reading the story of development and flight of Voyager, the first plane to fly around the world without refueling, in 1986. For those old enough to remember, was it a big story at the time? Was the general public tracking its flight—or even the plane’s development? Or perhaps it was more of a niche interest at the time, or something neat at the moment but now-forgotten.

    I know there was plenty of press coverage, and I’ve read my local paper’s reporting on the flight…but there are plenty of news events followed briefly in the press that come and go without more than momentary notice. What do you remember (if anything!) about how the flight caught popular notice?

    1. fposte*

      It was a reasonably big deal. Since it was largely pre-internet it didn’t have the same kind of widespread tracking, but I think it caught a lot of young women’s attention since one of the pilots was female. It was news when it took off and especially when it landed, and the dates were close enough together that it wasn’t like people had forgotten it in the middle.

    2. RagingADHD*

      It vaguely rings a bell, but that was the year of Chernobyl, the Challenger disaster, and the Iran-Contra revelations, so those are most of what I heard dominating the news. Plus the AIDS crisis and Halley’s Comet.

      If you just said “Voyager” to me, I associate that with the 1977 space probe. (And the first Star Trek movie).

      1. RagingADHD*

        I asked my husband about this because he’s a lifelong aviation geek. He said he remembered the launch and landing being a big story among people who were into that sort of thing.

        But he pointed out something really important — nobody could really track it or have daily news unless they were a ham radio operator. Following a news story or special interest was just a completely different proposition in the days before the internet. He read articles about it in magazines like Popular Mechanics, so that’s a once – a-month source.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, same for me. I was 14 and I’d just started following the news regularly when Challenger & Chernobyl happened. The latter was a big story here in Finland because the radioactive fallout reached us. In fact it was the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority that broke the news because the Soviet authorities weren’t exactly open about it until circumstances forced their hand.

    3. Rara Avis*

      Never heard of it. At the time all the news in my house came from the New York Times, so if my parents didn’t discuss something, I probably missed it.

    4. red yellow*

      I was a young adult at the time, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. I mostly remember chernobyl and Challenger.

    5. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I remember a story about it taking off, and I remember later wondering if it had made it, and a few days later seeing a story about it’s success. I was a young teen.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I vaguely remember it and it didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. It was like, O.K, but even in 1986 it was like, why wasn’t this done years before?

    7. M&M Mom*

      I definitely remember this, because at the time, I worked for Bose Corporation which provided the noise canceling headsets for the flight.

    8. Rick Tq*

      The Voyager project was well known in aviation circles during the years it took to raise funds and build her. During the construction phase I donated money to the project and eventually got to touch the plane and stick my head in the cabin during a tour, and I went up to witness and photograph the takeoff and landing at Edwards AFB. What I didn’t know until long after is that my BIL’s BIL was the weather forecaster for the flight. My sister has a framed photo with a copy of the flight log at home.

      Dick Rutan was the main pilot along with Jeana Yeager but Dick did all the takeoffs and landings during testing and for the flight. Once Voyager made it home to Edwards he flatly refused to fly it again, it was trucked to their HQ in Mojave and eventually to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.

      For the aerospace community Voyager was a big deal, and Burt Rutan is still a respected aircraft designer.

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      It happened when I was in college. I remember reading about it in Newsweek. It got a good bit of press coverage at the time, though by the end of the year a lot of other stories had eclipsed it. It was the same year Top Gun came out so people had airplanes on the brain already. I mostly remember the plane had a really unusual design- it was white and had long, thin, floppy wings-and I remember the pilot’s name, Jana Yeager. I think she was Chuck Yeager’s daughter.

      1. Rick Tq*

        Not true, Jeana is not related to Chuck at all, they just share just a good German surname. She used to introduce herself as “Jeana No Relation Yeager” because after The Right Stuff everybody knew who Chuck was again and assumed she was related.

        Dick Rutan (the main pilot) is Burt Rutan’s brother however.

        1. fposte*

          I was remembering that her surname was piquing some interest because people wondered about the connection.

  28. WellRed*

    I’ve been searching for a used car (with a tight budget). Finally got brave and tried to online schedule a test drive for a certain car. Which turned out to be in a different state. Looked at a different car that net my needs but it was a bit outside my max price range. And I liked it but didn’t love it. But somehow they got ahead of me and were ready to sign the sales agreement and I said “whoa, I haven’t agreed to buy the car and now I’m feeling rushed.” So frustrating. And exactly what I was afraid of from a dealer (large local regional with long history). When do you decide to readjust your car preferences to better suit the market? And do men have this much trouble ; ) taking a break from searching this weekend at least.

    1. I heart my NC headphones*

      I bought my last car through a dealership where I had an established relationship (oil changes). Worked w/ a salesman. Told the salesman what kind of car I was looking for, how much mileage I wanted it to have, what my price range was, asked him to keep an eye out in their stock. He called me one day and said a car came in fitting my criteria. Took it for a test drive, I may have sat on the decision for a day or two, and then purchased.

      I find big decisions really stressful and overwhelming, so working with one person, at a place that I trusted, over a longer period of time, made the process more manageable.

    2. fposte*

      My anecdotal experience is that men get pushed as hard as women but a higher percentage of men are game for the adversariality. I’m not convinced they walk away with the victories they think they do, but whatever floats your boat/car.

      My used car purchase was actually less fraught than my new car purchase, but I think in general with car dealerships they really want you to sign a contract on that visit and aren’t particularly concerned if they annoy some customers along the way.

      For a tight budget in my area, you’re better off with a private sale, but obviously you have to be wary of scams when you’re looking through FB Marketplace, etc.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Man I had no luck trying to find a decent used sedan at a good price. Finally got lucky when a friend decided to upgrade to an electronic vehicle, but I’ve complained before here that now I’m trying to find a new home for my old clunker and apparently that’s also not easy, counter-intuitively. I think I was below the price point for even low-end used car lots at $10-$15K – Carvana was big in this niche but my understanding was that it’s in bankruptcy now so it’s risky to deal with them. I’m going to end up selling to CarMax so is than an option to buy from? I don’t know much about it but that’s where I was going to start looking next if my friend hadn’t come through.

      1. WellRed*

        I went to the car max lot but they were out of my price range with most vehicles well over $20k.

        1. really*

          Unfortunately that is the market now. Husband’s car died and we needed one ASAP. Best for our needs was, I think, at least $5000 too much. But it was really the best price within 100 miles of us.

      2. Pippa K*

        For what it’s worth we just sold two cars to Carvana, and it went great. They paid fair market prices and the process was really quick and simple. So they still seem to be operating at regular capacity at least in some places, although obviously I don’t know about the buyer-end experience,

    4. really*

      Former rental cars tend to be taken good care of and i have had good luck with them in the past. An Enterprise car sales location would be one place to look.

      1. I'm Done*

        Second that. My last three cars were all 1 year old rental cars. And there is no haggling. You pay sticker price but the price is usually well below market value. You can check their inventory online.

    5. Katefish*

      This is a bit of a counterpoint, but because each used car is unique, I recommend buying the one you want the same day you test drive it. But… if you weren’t ready or feeling it, probably not the right one.
      If you do find a good one and want to sleep on your decision or take it to your mechanic, some dealerships will let you do an overnight test drive with some extra paperwork.

      1. WellRed*

        Thank you for saying this. Ultimately it did not feel like the right one. They followed up this morning and I said I needed to look around more.

    6. Invisible fish*

      My partner and I were extremely pleased with Texas Direct Auto- while you may not be in Texas, other businesses probably use a similar model. I’d do a little googling and see what around you operates similarly.

  29. Anonymous Crybaby*

    Any advice on how to control spontaneous crying?? I’ve been going through some tough stuff lately and am easy to cry by nature, but this is worse than usual! I tear up all the time with little to no provocation and am seeking strategies for stopping when it’s at inoppotune moments. I’m doing self-care, letting myself wallow in privacy, etc. Just trying to get a handle on the public breakdowns! Thanks!

    1. Hlao-roo*

      I heard once that you can’t drink and cry at the same time. I don’t think this is absolutely true, but I have been able to keep tears at bay by drinking water. I recommend always having water on hand and when you feel yourself starting to tear up, take a sip.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      Putting my canine tooth into my tongue to create a little pain, and focusing on something boring usually does the trick for me.

    3. Seltaeb*

      One thing that (sometimes!) works for me, if I can catch myself before I’ve actually started crying, is to try *deliberately* to cry. It seems to confuse my brain and paradoxically stops the tears from coming.

    4. AnonRN*

      Someone here once suggested tightening your bottom (like you’re trying not to pass gas). It may be a placebo and it’s really just the distraction that helps, but it helps when I remember to do it.

    5. Qwerty*

      Meditation-like breathing where you do the deep breath in, hold it, slowly exhale. If you can close your eyes while doing this, it helps.

      Prevention tip: Try to deliberately cry ahead of time. Like, have a decent cry in the afternoon if you are going out that evening. I find that getting it out of my system helps so that later I feel sad, but don’t have a supply of tears ready.

    6. Past Lurker*

      I asked for advice here once and a suggestion that worked for me was chewing gum. It was for one bad day at the place we don’t talk about on weekends though. Not sure if it works long term. Long term, I’ve tried meditation lately, with some success. Best wishes to you! I hope it gets better.

    7. Anne Elliot*

      Sorry that you are going through this. If you find that none of the other suggestions work, I recommend seeing your doctor. I also cry easily but at one point found myself crying when I did not want to on a regular basis. My doctor put me on a low-level anti-depressant and I felt much more in control. Although just hearing the music for certain sad movies, like the end of “Glory”, will still make me tear up.

    8. Katefish*

      I read somewhere (here?) that pushing your tongue on the roof of your mouth helps. I also get teary relatively easily and this has helped.

    9. Liminality*

      I heard once that you can distract yourself with strange words combinations. Muttering something absurd under your breath like “pickle penguins” or “citrus walrus” can distract your brain so hard that it forgets about tears.

    10. JSPA*

      sometimes there’s a positive feedback loop, where caring about crying makes you feel more hopeless or helpless (to control the crying, and by extention, everything else). Sometimes taking a mental step back, and studying your own crying (the same way you might, if your eyes teared up from hay fever) can put a stick in the gears of that feedback loop. “Ugh, physiology, oh well.”

    11. Mimmy*

      I think I read here that you can squeeze the flesh between your thumb and index finger. But that was in the context of the place we don’t discuss on weekends.

  30. Expiring Cat Memes*

    A little rebellions thread?

    I was at the big hardware store, on my own, trolley loaded with awkward stuff that was really hard to hold on the trolley while manoeuvring through the aisles. I finally wrangled my way towards the checkouts when a line of dudes walking 4 abreast approached from the entry, completely blockading the aisle.

    I hate it when groups of people do this and leave no room for people walking in the other direction to go past. But there was something extra about being a woman in the trades section of the hardware store, where I still, despite everything, feel out of place at times. For a second, their obnoxious takeover of the entire space actually gave me mild panic about how to safely slow down my trolley-beast and park it to let them go past. But… hmmmm, not today, Satan.

    So I just… allowed myself to feel as entitled and confident as they seemed to be and quietly demanded right of way. I picked the end one, aimed my trolley squarely at him and maintained my pace. It was from a distance, so there was plenty of warning. But I still came *this close* to ramming him before he got a shock and realised maybe he should break formation and get out of MY way?

    So utterly dumb and inconsequential, yet also: down with the patriarchy. I can build shit too.

    Do you have a minor, yet satisfying rebellion to share?

    1. Not A Manager*

      So here’s my fear when I think about doing stuff like that. What if you’d come *this close* and he hadn’t moved? Either through obliviousness or obnoxiousness. Suddenly I’d be pulling back on the cart and trying to hit the brakes, and I’d be flustered and upset, and he’d be like “hey lady can’t you see there are pedestrians here” and then I might rage cry.

      1. Not A Manager*

        I guess maybe I would say “excuse me, coming through” loudly or something. Obviously I have not thought this through.

        1. Texan In Exile*

          Nope. I would let him run into me. He’s the one who needs to move, not me. The right side of the aisle is mine. He’s the one in the wrong. This is Patriarchy Chicken and We Do Not Back Down.

          1. Expiring Cat Memes*

            Sister! If there was a collision, it was because that idiot walked square into a trolley of 2.4m project panel with stabby curtain rods hanging off the side.

          2. Pippa K*

            Same. Enough of this nonsense; at this point in my life, when a man seems to be crowding me off a sidewalk or similar, I just keep walking, and if he gets shoulder checked, well, maybe he’ll learn. I no longer give any quarter (although outside this context I am a considerate and yielding pedestrian!). Dudes who feel entitled to my space can step aside. And nearly 100% of the time, they do.

          3. Patty Mayonnaise*

            So happy to see these responses! When I had to push my kid in a stroller, I ran over people’s feet many a time when they flat out refused to take half a step over to avoid me. Oh wait, did I say “people”? I meant white men. I never had to do this with any other demographic.

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I stop with my cart about four steps in front of him and wait for their group to pass me.

        3. Manders*

          I did this once with a bunch of 8-foot lights on my cart, and the guy made a comment about “we all know how you women drivers are, hahaha”. He’s lucky he’s not still pulling 8-foot lightbulbs out of where the sun don’t shine :)

      2. Expiring Cat Memes*

        Exactly. All this is what went through my head before I decided to keep going anyway.

      3. Snell*

        When it gets to that point, I stop moving. If they run into me, they’re the one who made the move.

        Uggghh…recently, I was in that situation, but to an absurd degree, where the guy looked at me expectantly, expecting me to get out of the way, but I was the one person walking one direction, and he was part of a group walking the other direction, and they were taking up the entire walkway by traveling seven wide. Seven people taking up the entire width, and he expects me to move?? Where?? I just gave him a flat stare, and he finally took a look at our surroundings, realized, and got out of the way.

        1. Jackalope*

          I used to live in a big city in a country that had smaller space bubbles for people. I don’t know if that’s what the problem was, but I remember one day being at a bus stop in downtown. The sidewalk was about double the width of a regular sidewalk because it was a busy area, and I was standing maybe 2 feet from the curb. Lots of room on one side, and even enough room on the other side if someone wanted to go around on the curb side. I had a number of people just walk right into me and then just keep going. Seriously, people?? I wasn’t standing at the general bus stop standing point (if I remember correctly, I was trying to make sure it was a stop for the correct bus since it wasn’t the one I usually took), but I was standing utterly still. Not moving. And people were still trying to walk through me.

          (I don’t remember this happening a lot, so I’m assuming that eventually I gained a subconscious knowledge of whatever was the right thing to do in this situation and this stopped being an issue. But I remember being so bothered by this at the time.)

    2. Teapot Translator*

      Hah! Good for you! I was walking with a friend on an urban trail, large enough for two people one way, two people the other way. There was a group of four women walking towards us, all in a line, blocking the way (not just for us, but for any bikes that wanted to overtake them). My friend moved, I didn’t and the lady in front of me just had to move aside and behind her friends. Not as stressful as your situation, but I was proud for standing my ground.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I was walking my dog (very large) down our urban trail and a whole crowd of bikers riding two abreast – there must have been 12 or 15 of them – descended down on us. I was properly on my side of the lane – not even taking up all of it, in fact – and I did not move. They merged.

    3. Invisible fish*

      Not the patriarchy but …. It’s the end of year for teachers, and we turn in failure logs for children. We’re expected to call the families of children who aren’t passing for the semester or year. Nope. I’m not doing it in May. I make *so many calls* home to parents from August to April, but not May. At that point, it’s too late, and I’ve tried to communicate problems to parents for the previous 8 months.

      For example: Children who missed TWENTY OR MORE DAYS OF CLASS? You’re on your own, folks. I teach high school, so these are children who purposefully don’t go to class. At 10 absences, our truancy program kicks in- someone has attempted to reach you by phone or mail, and you didn’t do anything about it then, and you didn’t do anything when I called to say your child is missing work due to those absences, so now it’s your problem. If you don’t care if your child will pass, neither do I. I can’t keep wearing myself out for unmotivated children and disinterested parents who expect me to somehow make a grade point miracle happen at the last minute.

      1. TTL*

        My very close friend is a middle school teacher and they can just….turn their work in whenever they want? So at the end of the year she’s completely beset by hastily done assignments and it’s really too late and she sends updates throughout the year but it’s always a shock to parents and kids somehow….

    4. WellRed*

      Not quite a rebellion? At my friendly local bar and one if the patrons jokingly told the bartender she shouldn’t smoke because she might have children someday. I spoke up and said “let’s not reduce Annabelle to her womb potential. Another young woman cheered me and I told (the bar) I was already in a mood because I’d just heard a commercial for generic Viagra. Cheap! Accessible! Legal! But god forbid a woman needs a prescription for birth control etc. ; ) keep speaking up and out!

      1. MEH Squared*

        Good for you for speaking up.. This is definitely a ‘down with the patriarchy’ story–and a little rebellion.

      2. MEH Squared*

        To clarify, I reeeeeally hate people commenting on women’s reproductive choices out of turn. Especially since the woman was working and couldn’t really speak up for herself.

        Also, I don’t blame you for being aggravated from the Viagra commercial. The hypocrisy of paying for that, but not birth control makes me mad as well.

    5. dang that's good*

      I love this topic and your little rebellion story! I practice “owning” space on sidewalks and get that same surprised reaction from people (but especially dudes) ALL THE TIME. I get so much anxiety as it’s happening, but I feel proud of myself after-the-fact, so I keep practicing:-)

      Here’s another recent little rebellion: Hiking along a trail, I was approached by a sweet off-leash puppers for some pets. I happily obliged. As the owner approached, they were holding their cell phone up like they were recording the interaction. I said hi and complimented them on their dog, but they kept pointing their cell phone at me/the dog. I asked if they were recording, and they said…yes! My anxiety immediately spiked (I hate being filmed and photographed), but in a split second I weighed my options and decided to say something. I asked them to stop and delete the recording, explaining that I don’t like being on camera. They stopped filming but (politely) refused to delete it.

      Not the the most satisfying outcome, but I’m proud of myself for setting a boundary and asking for what I need.

      1. Sloanicota*

        They were very much in the wrong for having an off-leash dog running up to people! Huge pet peeve of mine, as someone who has worked soooo hard to properly socialize and train my giant boy to behave nicely in public; I can’t expect him to stay calm if some strange dog comes running up in his face.

        1. Decidedly Me*

          I was walking my dogs once (on leash) and as I walked by someone’s house, she just decided to let her two dogs out to come play with mine (!!!). My dogs came from a bad home and do not react well to aggressive approaches, so having two dogs bolt towards them did not go well. Thankfully no one got hurt, but I still can’t get over that lady’s thoughtlessness.

          1. Sloanicota*

            Happens to us all the time! It’s so weird. I’m like “lady, do you not like your dogs? You want to be rid of them?? Look at my boy’s chompers!!” Luckily, he actually tends to do better with little dogs (who are the most common culprit in my area) and can be quite patient with them. It’s the bigger boys he hates, and their owners on average are a bit more mindful – although of course it has still happened with labs, boxers, even pitties.

        2. Jackalope*

          A few years ago someone’s large dog was running off-leash while I was on a walk through the neighborhood, and he came up behind me and bit me in the butt. So hard that he broke through multiple layers of fabric, including my denim jeans (on the pocket, so extra fabric) AND my large wallet, and actually broke skin. I shudder to think what would have happened had he bitten in a different area without all of that protection. On another walk in a different area I had pulled over to the side of the trail to let a woman and her dog pass me, and he surged up and bit my arm. Thankfully in that case she had him on a leash and pulled him right off (he was a dog she had just recently adopted from a shelter so she didn’t know he’d be aggressive, but was watching him pretty closely), so he didn’t bite through anything. But I now have a certain level of discomfort and automatic concern with unleashed dogs running up to me.

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

      Kind of the same “taking up space” rebellion:

      It’s the early 1980s. I, a gawky, completely unathletically inclined teen girl am stuck in a mandatory gym class soccer game when some extremely athletically inclined dude comes barreling towards me with the soccer ball as he runs down the field, fully expecting me to get out of his way.

      Joke’s on him, though, as I lack the sense of self-preservation to get out of his way and gamely head towards him and the ball.

      Reader, I tripped him and briefly wound up with control of the soccer ball (which I’m sure I lost in about 2 seconds). It was very satisfying.

    7. Workerbee*

      I do, from the past!
      Me: Primary-schoolage girl on a bicycle, on the correct side of the road.
      Them: Pack of primary-to-junior-high schoolage boys, coming toward me on their bicycles, so obviously on the wrong side of the road. And of course taking up all of my side as they did it.

      I thought to myself, if I’m going down, I’m taking at least one of you with me – and hunkered down over my handlebars and kept pedaling.

      The look on the face of the boy directly in my path as I came toward him went from the casual cruelty of children to “Oh, sh*t” in an amusingly brief transition – and he got out of my way.


    8. HannahS*

      I constantly am reminding people that my daughter is a person. When full pandemic restrictions were in place, my infant and I counted as TWO people in enclosed spaces. She’s a person! She’s allowed to take up space! She doesn’t exist for the convenience of adults.

    9. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      [Raises hand!] I had a little rebellion this morning. Was self-serving at the coffee bar at my cute neighborhood market and a 60something man singled me out for…conversation? curiosity? He skipped right over the dudes his own age also filling their coffees and came really close to my face to ask what I was doing, what fun things were going on around town, etc. For the first time in my life, I flat out ignored a guy doing that and it felt GREAT. Filled my thermos and left without spending nice-girl energy. Bliss.

  31. Be the Change*

    I thought about asking this yesterday but it seems better for today: How are all you working parents doing?

    Back in 20, 21, and even some 22, there was lots of talking and information about how working parents were Not Doing Well. How are you?

    Thinking of you.

    1. RagingADHD*

      I think that mostly tracked with school closures and little ones not being eligible for the vax.

      It’s not as if being a working parent is ever easy, but for me and among my friends it seems to have gone back to normal-hard instead of exceptionally hard, and the main issues are common to everyone: inflation, housing costs, wage stagnation, layoffs, not enough doctor appointments, etc.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I did hear a lot of people sharing some truly wild stories about the number of illness in daycare post-pandemic (not Covid according to tests, but the rapid tests don’t seem great for the variants anyway); six months after everything re-opened my parent friends were saying they were hoping for one full week of school/daycare, but not optimistic. I think that has died down somewhat now?

    2. BubbleTea*

      I was not a parent in the Before Times, but my toddler gets sick a lot (he missed 50% of his booked childcare days in February and March, which is possibly a post-Covid thing, and that would make work almost impossible if I didn’t work for myself.

        1. allathian*

          Yes. When my son started daycare in 2011, he was sick almost half the time for the first 6 months, although it got a bit better after that. But a rate of 10-15 respiratory infections per year was completely normal even before Covid.

      1. Emma*

        As a parent from the before times, childcare illness is definitely awful at the beginning, but my kiddo in daycare also had a ton of illness from about September – March. it spread to our household. My guess is that covid has suppressed immune systems or something. it didn’t use to be quite this bad, but it seems like the new normal now.

        1. allathian*

          Covid precautions also prevented other respiratory illnesses, for as long as I was masking in indoor public spaces and our son was masking in public transit and at school, I didn’t get sick at all. I’m not sure never getting sick/exposed to germs is good for the immune system in the long term, though. I also had a mild case of Covid last October (on sick leave for 5 days, fully WFH a month afterward because I was too exhausted to commute even if I could work almost normally) and we don’t know how Covid affects the immune system in the long term yet.

          I’m so glad that our son’s a teenager, so he’s no longer as prone to sickness as he was when he was younger. And he’s still very good about washing/sanitizing his hands. He gets himself to and from school on his own and is responsible enough to manage his homework with only the occasional reminder, so that also helps a lot.

    3. AnonForToday*

      That’s sweet of you! I have a 1 year old and we are really struggling to find childcare. We couldn’t join any waitlists because we knew we were moving out of our old city, but not where to. I though things would be better 30 miles outside of the city, but nobody has any space. The centers are all struggling with staffing issues, and many of the home daycares only do 8-4ish 4 days per week (and have other issues).

      My partner’s parental leave is up this month, and after that I guess we’re just going to do baby hot potato between meetings? We’re both lucky to have ‘unenforced’ hybrid status.

    4. Emma*

      It’s definitely not as bad as 2020-2021, and even the bit of 2022 before the vax was available to kids.

      I truly think I have a bit of PTSD from that time. Now it’s much more normal, but (as I mentioned in another comment), an elevated level of sickness from September – March (basically from when kids are back in school+ after effects, to holidays + after effects) seems here to stay. Both bad for kid, but we also get sick too. It’s been like this for 2 years now.

      But overall things are much calmer/more new normal. Thank you for asking!

  32. Irish Teacher*

    This is probably a long shot but since there are a lot of people who frequent this site and a lot seem to be readers, I am wondering if anybody had any ideas about a two-book series I read as a child but nobody seems to have heard of and I’ve never seen since.

    It was a futuristic, post-some sort of disaster, possibly a nuclear war or something where humanity had gone into these kinda bubble things. The two books focussed on two separate groups and were kinda companion books, with the ending of one joining the two stories together.

    The books were set after the disaster was over and one group had emerged and were living what seemed like a sort of medieval style lifestyle where they were trying to redevelop the earth. The main character of this book was a teenage/young adult girl. I was about 8-10 reading these books, so she could have been anywhere from 12-21ish. It would all have fit under “nearly an adult” to me at that age.

    The other book was about a group which had gone autocratic and the leader was pretending the disaster was not over in order to keep his people in the bubble and under his control. The main character was a teenage/young adult boy, who I think may have been the son of the leader? Or at least the son of somebody very high-ranking. They were living a futuristic style lifestyle (at least by the standards of the 1980s when I read it, though I wonder what it would seem like from a 21st century point of view), but were strictly controlled.

    I remember this quote from it, “down the river of death, to life or death. Either way you’ll be free.” The only escape from their bubble thing was by the river they used for water.

    The book set in the medieval style out of the bubble world ended with the characters from that finding out the other group were still inside being lied to and going in to rescue them or something. I don’t remember any romance but I assume a teen or adult reader would assume the two main characters would end up together.

    1. Not A Manager*

      This reminds me of two books from my childhood, but not entirely. The first was called “The City Underground.” A highly technocratic civilization exists underground, established by scientists just prior to a nuclear war. Two sets of brothers independently discover a way to the upper world and encounter a much more primitive but spiritually holistic society living in a post-apocalyptic Eden. The two societies merge. During the story there is conflict with the technocratic leaders, but not through malice. Everyone has good will. The leaders just think that the aboveground continues to be dangerous.

      The second book is actually part of a trilogy called The Tripod Trilogy. In the middle book two young men have infiltrated the bubble city of evil reptilian overlords, and must escape through the river that runs through the city.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        The Tripods trilogy was really good! John Christopher was a great writer.

        They actually made a short-lived television series about it in the UK in the early 80s.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          I’m just going to agree The Tripods trilogy was good and I remember seeing the TV series on PBS as a kid which is why I eventually found the books.

        2. Patty Mayonnaise*

          Yeah The Giver series has a lot of similarities to this, but unfortunately they are too new if OP read them in the 80s. The Giver was published in 1993 and the others came closer to the 2000s.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think my younger daughter read this a few years ago! I don’t recall the name, but I’ll ask her. I remember her describing the 2 societies in the same world, one focused on a boy and the other on a girl. And they eventually meet and team up, I think? Not romantically, but with the implication it’s possible.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Okay, my daughter said the one she read was The Giver, and the boy didn’t go in the river, he sledded down a hill to escape. There was another character who escaped via the river.

        And there are 4 books in all. So maybe it’s not the same. But maybe it is, in which case you have 2 more books to read.

    3. Rara Avis*

      H.M. Hoover wrote a lot of books with similar themes, but this plot doesn’t exactly match any of hers that I remember.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Looking at H.M. Hoover’s on goodreads, they do seem to have the same kind of feel and to be from the right era. I would have read them around 1990.

    4. ArticulateOctopus*

      Could this have been The City of Ember series? I don’t remember much about it so maybe not.

      1. just another queer reader*

        I was going to say, this description has a lot in common with The City of Ember! The post apocalyptic society, escaping via the river… I think OP found the book they were looking for, but we had the same thought :)

      2. Person from the Resume*

        It really sounds like City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau because the boy escaped the underground city through the river/water source.

        Book 1 – Mostly about the boy, IIRC.
        Many hundreds of years ago, the city of Ember was created by the Builders to contain everything needed for human survival. It worked…but now the storerooms are almost out of food, crops are blighted, corruption is spreading through the city and worst of all-the lights are failing.

        Soon Ember could be engulfed by darkness… But when two children, Lina and Doon, discover fragments of an ancient parchment, they begin to wonder if there could be a way out of Ember. Can they decipher the words from long ago and find a new future for everyone? Will the people of Ember listen to them?

        Book 2, The People of Sparks
        The sequel to the critically acclaimed The City of Ember continues the story of Lina and Doon, who have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it’s up to Lina and Doon to discover who’s behind the vandalism and why.

        Also looks like it was actually a 4 book series.

    5. Lady Alys*

      This sounds a lot like another John Christopher series, starting with “The Prince in Waiting.” I think the whole series is called “The Sword of the Spirits.”

    6. Rose is a rose is a rose*

      The second book sounds similar to Devil On My Back by Monica Hughes. It does have a sequel (Dreamcatcher), but I don’t think I ever read it. In Devil On My Back, all of the dome inhabitants have an implant that connects them to the central computer so they can access information but are also controlled by it. The main character is the leader’s son who ends up outside of the dome by being kidnapped (?) during a slave revolt.

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yes, I think that is actually it. I think the lines “the devil on your back can’t make you pay and your children will be free” or something like that were lines from it.

        Thanks to everybody.

        1. Rose is a rose is a rose*

          Glad to help! That book has been on my mind lately, and the lines you quote were running around in my brain. I read a lot of Monica Hughes’ books in the 90s and now I want to reread them and see how they stand up over time.

          1. SarahKay*

            You’ve helped me too. I looked up Monica Hughes just to see what she’d written and found Ring-Rise Ring-Set which I’d searched for (unsuccessfully, since I didn’t know the author and was mis-remembering the title) a few weeks back. Second-hand copy now on it’s way to my letter box :-)

  33. Been in IT forever*

    My husband and I have been invited to a bar mitzvah for the son of friends. They’re both lovely people, although the main connection is between the boy’s father and my husband, who were close work buddies. We haven’t seen the son in years, so we’re not close to him.

    Anyway, we’re flattered to be asked to such an important occasion, but we’re not Jewish and haven’t been to a bar mitzvah before, so we were wondering about the gift. We’ve read online that money gifts (which is what we plan to give) should be multiples of $18. Is that correct? What would be an appropriate amount to give? We’re thinking maybe $180, but is that too low?

    The bar mitzvah is being held in an events venue, and there will be dinner.


    1. Not A Manager*

      In my opinion, $180 is quite generous. Multiples of 18 is a custom based on a kind of numerology, but you’re also fine with regular round numbers, especially if you’re going higher than $100. For a child I don’t know very well, I would give $100 but maybe I’m behind the times.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Yes, sadly part of this depends on the social group and how lavish the parties are. I’ve definitely been to parties that exceed the cost of a wedding. In that case the expectation would be for around $100, not because the hosts are recouping their costs but just because that’s how they think about the value of money.

          Other bar mitzvahs I think something like $54 is very nice and appropriate.

    2. Elle*

      Give what you feel comfortable giving. It says something about them if they judge you based on a monetary gift. My daughter got money ranging from $18-over $300. All were loved and appreciated.

    3. RagingADHD*

      That sounds like a very big gift for a kid you aren’t close with, but it depends on your overall disposable income and how close your husband is with the dad.

    4. AGD*

      Money gifts are super common! In total, I ended up with what felt like a dizzying amount for that age (along with various bits of jewellery, nice writing notebooks, etc.) just from the number of people in attendance. The individual amounts I received (twenty-something years ago) were a mix of multiples of 10 and multiples of 18 (a lot of 36s and the occasional 54). The short version is that substituting numbers for letters of the Hebrew alphabet and then adding up the ones that spell the word for ‘life’ gives you 18, so it’s seen as an auspicious number.

      You’ll almost certainly not be the only non-Jewish folks in attendance and it’s okay! I invited a bunch of non-Jewish friends, one from a long way away, and they all made it. I was so grateful for their presence, and their patience through several hours of (mostly) me singing liturgical stuff in biblical Hebrew! :)

      1. Gatomon*

        I’m not Jewish, but I lived in a town with many Jewish families as a kid, so I went to my fair share of bar or bat mitzvahs. I thought the singing was beautiful, even though I had zero clue what it meant. Plus, we were all trying very hard to appear grown up in our fancy outfits, attending parties without our parents :P

    5. Maggie*

      I would probably give around $100 to someone I’m not close with and $300 to someone I am, so that sounds very nice/generous to me.

    6. Bluebell*

      If I wasn’t close to them, I don’t know if I’d go beyond the 180 mark. Depends on how fancy the celebration is. $118 is also a nice common amount.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      Wow y’all are super generous! I was realizing last night that the daughter of one of my best friends will graduate from high school in a week. I have known Daughter since she was born and she is lovely and I love her and I love her mom and I have an independent relationship with Daughter and I am going to send her only $50. (But I am not going to a party to there is that.)

    8. Plait*

      Wow, I think $180 might be too high! (Unless you are very well-heeled and it is not a lot of money to you.)

    9. Call me St. Vincent*

      In the New York metro area and other big metro areas like that, I would think $180 would be generous but definitely not over the top. $100 would also be fine!

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

      I find present amounts to be directly related to how much or little it will impress the parents.

      I gave a $500 wedding gift recently because it will help my business in the future. I gave a $50 gift to a bar mitzvah that I did not attend (other side of the country) and I wasn’t trying to impress.

      A $108 gift would be considerate and the 18 multiplier would show thoughtfulness.

    11. Worked in IT forever*

      Thanks for all the responses!

      Also, I should have mentioned that I’m in Canada, so when I said maybe $180, I meant $180 Cdn. Given the current exchange rate, that’s around $132 U.S.

    12. Observer*

      We’ve read online that money gifts (which is what we plan to give) should be multiples of $18. Is that correct? What would be an appropriate amount to give? We’re thinking maybe $180, but is that too low?

      The 18 multiplier is traditional. The Hebrew alphabet is also used in a numbering system, and the letters for 18 are the Hebrew word for life (chai). So it’s like a gift with a blessing embedded.

      $180 is quite generous, unless you and your friend are among the 1%.

      1. Imtheone*

        I would give $54, $72, or $90. Some places do over the top parties, but $180 seems too much to me.

        I actually prefer to give physical gifts. There is a Jewish sci fi short story collection which appeals to 13 year olds, for example. (Wandering Stars, editor is Jack Dann). Maybe combine a book with a more modest check.

        You didn’t ask about the service. If it’s Saturday morning, don’t feel you have to stay in your seats for the whole 3 hour plus service. It’s normal to take some breaks. Try to be in the service for any sections where the young person is active.

  34. Bluebell*

    Looking for gift ideas for a recent med school graduate. The daughter of a dear friend graduated this month and is about to move to my city to do her residency. I’d like to get her something but know that once she starts her residency she’ll be super short on time. Her parents are funding her apt (a studio, so not much room) and some furniture purchases. Ideas other than a check/ general gift card?

    1. mreasy*

      Cash probably most welcome but otherwise – how about a gift card for a coffee shop near her school or home?

    2. acmc*

      Food box subscription (precooked meals or maybe snacks). Or maybe pay for cleaning service? Something to help reduce home workload due to her busy schedule.

    3. red yellow*

      do you know what field her residency is in? You can get various plushies which are fun – various organs or bacteria or viruses. if you know her t-shirt size (or can get from her parents) there’s a wide array of t-shirts that would work.

    4. Emma*

      Maybe a grocery store gift card?

      But really, I’d do cash + something small. like the plushie someone else mentioned. My understanding is that most residents make very little money, and are often paying back loans, so a note about how proud you are, with cash + a little plushie would be sweet!

        1. Dr. Anonymous*

          Depends. Some hospitals provide scrubs, which are laundered by their in hose laundry service, so that you never really wear your own.

          Think of time and comfort. Residents do get a little time off, so a local massage gift certificate or meal subscription gift certificate is great. The other thing you can do is send a short little card of encouragement every month. There’s a lot of correction and feedback in residency and residents can get pretty discouraged. A random bit of encouragement that shows up in the mail on a day when it happens to be needed is a treasure that will not be forgotten.

          Just yesterday I married the true friend who called me up every week way back when I was in residency, to check on me.

          1. red yellow*

            I don’t know if this means that the true friend is now your spouse, or you acted as officiant in true friend’s wedding, but either way Mazel Tov!

    5. BlueCactus*

      Maybe a subscription to a grocery delivery service? My mom did that for me this year (I’m a med student) and it was a lifesaver.

    6. AnonRN*

      I think the food/meal options are good ones (seriously, our residents work 12+ hour days, 6 days a week for very little pay, they do not have time or money to cook or shop). But the other thing that occurs to me is a good stethoscope…or, probably, a gift card for a good stethoscope so she can choose the exact one she wants.

    7. Move-in*

      If you have a car and she doesn’t, an offer to go shopping (food, home goods, whatever) for a week or so after her parents help her get set up could be helpful! After a big move like that you always think of a few more things you should’ve gotten in that first big shop.

      Echoing the food suggestions — while a gift card to a local restaurant directly is nicest, getting to one to a food delivery service would give her options and also a guilt-free excuse to spend on takeout after a long day.

      Not gift-related and obviously residency is very busy, but if she doesn’t know many folks in your city and wants to meet a few that aren’t connected to medicine, helping to make those connections would be a nice gesture. (Only if she’s actually interested though — she could say yes to be polite and really feel too busy for it!)

    8. OtterB*

      For a small personal gift to go along with cash or grocery cards, one of the gifts I remember most from my PhD was a set of personalized labels that said “From the library of Dr. [me]”

    9. Gyne*

      If she doesn’t already have a nice bag, a good overnight backpack or tote bag to take to the hospital for call. I’ve rotated through several and haven’t found a PERFECT bag yet. Dagne Dover bags are popular, I currently use the Lululemon Go Getter Bag and am liking it, I think it is my favorite so far.

  35. Ochre*

    Proper tea drinkers, avert your eyes. Kitchen scientists, can you explain my tea to me? I make PG Tips tea with a teabag in a mug. I pour boiling water over it and then let it sit anywhere from 4 to 20 minutes before fishing out the bag, adding some milk (15-30mL), and drinking. Here’s my question: At 4 minutes, the tea is bitter-sour and sort of bracingly unpleasant. okay, fine. But at 20 minutes this flavor is gone and it tastes very mild to me. Why is this? Wouldn’t the flavor get stronger the more time it sits?

    Commentary on this sacrilege is welcome but may be ignored! Commentary on your own practice is also welcome!

    1. Jay*

      I would have a couple of guesses.
      1) Some of the harsher chemicals are either breaking down or settling to the bottom by that point. Try stirring it heavily and see if that makes it bitter again.
      2) The steam from the boiling water is bringing a more intense/different scent to your nose. After letting it sit for that long, you’re not getting as much steam, so less scent/different scents. Scent plays a huge part in taste, so changing the scent can change the flavor.

      Just my two scents.

    2. Sinead O*

      No idea about the science part but I’m a proper tea drinker and that sounds like the normal way to make tea. How else would you?

      1. RagingADHD*

        Sounds that way to me, too. But there used to be a tea shop chain that went very big on “educating consumers” about the correct way to make tea. They made much of the water temperature being not-quite boiling so you didn’t scorch the leaves, using loose tea only, etc.

        I discovered it by chance passing by, and when I realized they were going to charge me $7 for a cup of black tea with milk and a condescending lecture from a literal teenager, I just walked out laughing.

      2. red yellow*

        I make tea in a teapot. I pour off the first little bit of tea and that reduces the bitterness. Also, for a fun anecdote about statistics, search wikipedia for “lady tasting tea”.

      3. Ochre*

        The “proper” tea drinkers in my life make loose tea in a teapot which they have pre-warmed, brew it for a very specific amount of time, and have Opinions about whether the milk goes in the cup first or second! Leaving it sitting on the counter until they remember it is not a part of the ritual!

        1. Gatomon*

          Geez, I thought I was fancy for upgrading from microwaved mug-o-water to a $20 electric kettle. I left a teabag of Earl Gray sitting in the cup for 20 minutes and I just couldn’t drink it, felt awful for wasting it.

          I’ve been served tea like that at a friend’s house during a dinner, but I assumed they don’t drink like that normally. Now I may have to ask….

      4. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I don’t use boiling water (just below boiling) and I steep for less time (3 min max). But I don’t take it with milk or sugar, so maybe the people who do need the teabag in the water longer.

    3. fposte*

      There is a BBC Science thing on YouTube that talks about this! If I can find it I’ll append the link in followup.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      I have so many questions (but no answer for yours) because I am intrigued. Is it any kind of tea or one kind in particular (black, green, etc.). Does the same thing happen if you don’t add milk? Are you drinking the tea at the same temperature in both cases? The temperature of the water is not the same after 4 minutes vs 20 minutes.

      1. Ochre*

        I only drink the PG Tips black tea this way, and I always add milk. Good point to you and others about the temperature; I occasionally put it in the microwave if it’s sat too long but I don’t think I’ve noticed that changes the taste.

      2. allathian*

        Yeah, and green and white teas definitely turn bitter if you pour boiling water on them. Check the package for the correct temperature. White and green teas are typically drunk at higher altitudes, where the boiling point of water is lower thanks to the lower atmospheric pressure. At the top of Mount Everest, the boiling point of water is at 68 C/154 F.

        That’s why I love our kettle with adjustable temperature.

  36. Time Waster*

    I need some time wasting ideas for when I am procrastinating. This site is a good one. I used to go down wikipedia rabbit holes and Pinterest was fun until a couple years ago, can’t really remember what else I found interesting pre-pandemic. Internet based stuff that is interesting is preferred – keeps my brain mildly on but just taking a breather. I’m looking for text/visual, not audio.

    This might sound weird, but I get more stuff done when I have an abundance of stuff like this. Probably because its a bunch of 5-10min items, so when I rapidly jumping between them I also throw in taking out the trash or folding a load of laundry or randomly decide to deep clean the bathroom. Or fills the time when something has to simmer for a few minutes on the stove or code is compiling without me entirely wandering off. Once my brain hits “I’m bored mode” it likes to stay there the rest of the day and then my house gets dirty.

    If reddit is a suggestion, please say which subreddits! I tried exploring and it kept showing me stuff like AITA, which is not very pleasant. And there are scary corners.

    Phone games are a little too addicting – they are designed to keep you in the app. I spent over 3hrs in a lovely idle game the other day thinking it was 20min.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Heh! So much to choose from! (I’m rather addicted to reddit’s AITA, fwiw, though it gets repetitive pretty quickly.)

      My favorite time-sink is probably TV Tropes, which I fell into via some web-searching for more information about an early favorite manga series. It’s a wiki based on common tropes in various types of media, with lots of amusing examples, and it immediately led me to more manga and anime – and there are so many pages on classic literature and B-movies and music and theater and videogames that one can wander around for ages. (There’s a “random page” button that’s fun, too.)

    2. fposte*

      Some reddit possibilities that have enough content to keep you going for a bit but are still low-key and non-scary:

      Askhistorians (super-moderated, so it’s mini-history lessons with sources from people who know their stuff about all kinds of stuff rather than discussion). There’s also askscience, askphilosophy, and asksocialscience, which are similarly very tightly run (to me a good thing given the topics) but I’m less familiar and now am thinking I should subscribe.

      Askfoodhistorians (more freewheeling but still very interesting)


      Tipofmyfork (food ID ranging from “Does this thing I found in my chicken mean I shouldn’t eat it?” to “I had this great snack in Nepal and does anybody know what it would have been?”)

      Hobbydrama (very wide ranging, generally chill because people are interested in how interesting so many things are rather than wanting to hash out their own drama, so you learn about a lot of hobbies and controversies within them)

      Tons of cat and dog subs, which are good for short videos

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      TV tropes (just read some). Cake wrecks (funny photos of badly decorated cakes). McMansion hell (funny photos of badly decorated and designed large houses). XKCD (science nerd and/or funny comics).

    4. Professor Plum*

      Here’s a subreddit that can be fascinating: r/estoration where people submit a photograph and others restore it through photoshop and/or AI, often for tips. Lots of human interest stories behind the photos. And great talent in the restorations.

    5. red yellow*

      Honestly, one of the nicest corners of the entire internet is the reddit quilting thread. Nearly everyone posts a photo, and nearly 100% of the comments are positive, or said very very kindly. (I just do a search for reddit quilting). I guess the downside is that there isn’t a whole lot of discussion, but if you want to spend 5 mins/week with people being kind, and some pics, that’s your place.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Yeah, I actually enjoy AITA but it’s like an advice column for bullies lol. There are a lot of trivia-type ones that are good entertainment: tipofmytongue, whatsthatbook, and whatstheword are all ones where you help people identify things they’re having trouble remembering. I think there’s also a gamer one. I also like the subs with old photos: thewaywewere, oldphotosinreallife, oldschoolcool, oldschoolridiculous, pastandpresentpics are a few decently active ones. You could also see if the subs for your favorite shows or hobbies are interesting!

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      Not screen based, but: Push ups, squats, or sun salutations always is a good break for me.
      Composing impulsive haikus on my phone.

      1. Pippa K*

        Impulsive haikus
        Offer a brief mental break
        Composed on my phone

        …hey this is fun! I’ll try it when I need a workday change of focus.

    8. Veronica Mars*

      I like the subreddits rarepuppers and cavaliers (cavaliers is more niche as I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel). Just goofy pictures of doggos always makes me smile. There’s also an Awww subreddit that’s mostly animal pictures. So clearly that’s what I’m into on the internet.

      Sometimes I check out other advice columns (Dear Prudence, Captain Awkward) as well.

    9. carcinization*

      There’s a website called Metafilter that people use to link to interesting articles and then comment on them, that might be worth a try?

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      One of my favorite oddball subreddits is r/whatisthisthing. It’s just people posting random objects they find on the ground, things they see on the street, things being hauled on semis, whatever. Somebody almost always knows exactly what it is, no matter how obscure. It’s like puzzle solving in the real world.

    11. Animal worker*

      Animal ones like Pet Helpful (the Pet News section has little tidbit stories of pet and animal stuff) and The Dodo are good for me. Also I’ve recently gotten into Bored Panda – each entry is hit or miss but the ones I enjoy can really be entertaining.

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

      I enjoy r/bondedpairs — pictures of (mostly) cats cuddling
      r/momforaminute — the internet stepping up with mom hugs and advice for people who don’t have a mom figure right now

    13. Double A*

      Do you like music? Music League is currently ruining my life because I’m a little obsessed but fits the bill well for this type of procrastinating

    14. just another queer reader*

      I’ve gotten into iNaturalist. It’s an app where people upload photos of plants/animals they see, and the community identifies the species. Scientists use the data in their work.

      I am not at all an expert, but one of the useful things that I can do is sort through some of the older uncategorized observations and label them “plant” or “bird” or whatever I do know! Then it makes it easier for the bird etc experts to find and identify the species.

      It’s very satisfying.

    15. *daha**

      I like the Internet Movie Database imdb dot com. Pick a film. Read the reviews to see what you agree with. Click on a cast / production member to see what else they’ve worked on. Read through a films trivia and quotes. Lots to explore.

    16. Silence*

      I like Not always right
      For reddit I like aww, eye bleach, adventure cats, no stupid questions
      If you like fan fiction try archive of our own though it may be more of a time sink then you want unless you stick to Drabbles

  37. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Any advice for going to see a doctor? I haven’t been since I was a kid and my mom was in charge, so I’m not sure if there is anything I should know but don’t. I do have a minor thing that I want checked out, but mostly I’m going because I feel like I ought to and because insurance pays for the basic checkup.

    I got all the normal shots etc as a kid, it’s just that growing up we didn’t see the doctor unless we were sick, and I haven’t been sick.

    I have been to see dentists and optometrists, so I familiar with waiting rooms and paper work and don’t need advise on that part unless it’s wildly different.

    Also, how does one tell if a doctor is any good?

    1. Texan In Exile*

      If you’re going for a thing, you will probably have to pay for an office visit. If you’re going for a checkup, that should be free. (If you are in the US.)

      If you are going for the thing, I would suggest tracking the symptoms for a while. I have started keeping notes on the calendar on my phone – when the symptoms happen, what I ate, what other possible triggers (dehydration, lack of sleep) there might have been, etc.

      I have been looking for a new doc. I found a list of docs on my insurance, then asked my friends if they recommended anyone on the list.

      (Also – re the “I haven’t been sick.” I don’t ever get sick and never went to the doctor, but I also never counted pain as being sick. Pain is a reason to see a doctor. I didn’t see a doctor about my headaches until I was in my late 30s. I didn’t even know until then that headaches weren’t normal. I thought everyone got headaches all the time.)

    2. Doctor is In*

      Family physician here. A good primary care doctor will review your whole medical history and recommend tests and screenings based on that. (That part is covered by insurance usually). Any evaluation and treatment of symptoms will be a charge for an office visit. It’s a good idea for everyone to see a primary care doctor every year, just like you should take your car in for routine service!

    3. RagingADHD*

      The procedure with paperwork and such is going to be very similar to a dentist, but much more in depth forms about your personal and family medical history. You will also most likely get taken back to the exam room by a nurse who will take your vitals (weight, blood pressure, temperature, pulse oxygen), and review your forms with you, and get a summary of any complaint or condition you want checked.

      Then the practitioner (doctor, PA, or NP) will review everything again and go more in depth when they come in.

      I’ve had the best results finding a really good GP or medical practice by word of mouth. In a practice, there will be one person who will be listed as your PCP, but many practices will allow you to be seen by any practitioner who is available if you’re willing. You will probably get an appointment quicker if you opt for that.

      1. Saddy Hour*

        This may be obvious, but if you don’t know aspects of your family or personal health history, it’s fine to leave it blank or guesstimate. Ideally for your own medical history you’ll know general timelines (i.e. were you a little kid when you got chicken pox, or were you in high school?) but if you don’t, it’s not a big deal. Your doctor will be 0% surprised by medical history gaps, that’s very common. I had to see a geneticist, which required an absurdly in-depth questionnaire about my family, and she readily took “idk it was his colon or something” as an answer, so…your PCP will not care. The more details you can give the more they can look out for hereditary problems, but you can come back and update that info at any time.

        One other notable thing I didn’t see mentioned: if you’re a person who has periods, your doc (or more likely the nurse) will ask when your last period was. As with the medical history, if you don’t know a guesstimate is fine — though if you say it’s been 4 months and don’t have a reason, they’ll probably want to do a pregnancy test. Some offices will want a pregnancy test even without a reason to think you’re pregnant. I haven’t had that happen for a while so maybe, hopefully, it’s phasing out, but it’s not an uncommon annoyance. I know that can be uncomfortable and jarring so I don’t want you to be caught unaware.

    4. Liminality*

      It’s hard to tell if a doctor will be good for you until you’ve seen them. But word-of-mouth recommendations are where I’d start. Anyone you know have a reliable primary care provider?

      That said, when was your last tetanus shot? I think they’re only good for 10 years and some insurances cover them as preventative during a basic physical.

    5. Girasol*

      I generally try to have on hand the dates of immunizations and the dates when I had communicable diseases before there were immunizations for them, dates of any surgeries or major illnesses, and first and most recent period. If you’re taking any medication, including over the counter, write down amount and schedule or bring the bottle. As for whether a doctor is any good, generally I look for whether they listen to what I’m saying and answer my questions. Good communicators tend to be great doctors. (If you have any sense of miscommunication, be sure to ask the pharmacist what condition would be treated by any medicine you’re getting. You’d be surprised how many times you catch a doctor’s misunderstanding that way.)

    6. Nack*

      This may be something you already knew, but I didn’t. I also grew up in a family that rarely went to the doctor, then lived my entire 20s in the UK (free healthcare!) before moving back to the USA. Anyway: even if you have insurance you might have to pay. Even if you pay something at the drs office you may get a bill for other things (bloodwork etc) afterwards. I can’t tell you how much this shocked me… especially knowing what I was paying monthly for insurance!

      As for finding a good doctor, the things I would look for are:
      Does she take the time to listen to my concerns?
      Do I feel rushed or ignored?
      How easy is it to get an appointment in a reasonable time?

    7. AnonRN*

      If you don’t have an established doctor, they may want you to come in for a “new patient” visit before they will see you for a focused problem. (My doctor just changed and I was re-assigned to someone in the same practice, but they still want me to do this.) Unfortunately, this can take some lead time, so starting now is a good idea! (I’d call them and say I need to see someone about my [issue] and they’ll probably say ‘are you a patient here?’ and you can find out what their process is that way.)

      Primary care doctors are (and should be) focused on prevention and screenings and there are LOTS of those you could possibly be “due” for depending on age, anatomy, and family history. (Colon cancer screening, cervical cancer, breast cancer, cardiac stress test, out-of-date vaccines, bloodwork, etc…) I think a good doctor will explain the rationale for these AND not make you feel guilty for not doing them AND also address the issue you actually came in for (or at least help you understand the next step of the issue). But they do have kind of a checklist to go through (honestly they would be remiss if they didn’t, and insurance would consider them to be so) and it can feel like all they want to talk about is getting you a mammogram when you really want to know why your ankle hurts.

      For anything they recommend, it’s worth asking what happens after that. Like, bloodwork: if good, check next year/if X, do an endocrine workup. Or a new med: try it for 6 weeks but come back in right away if you experience A or B symptoms. But it’s reasonable to want to know what the plan is OR at least what they are looking for to make the plan (we’ll get an x-ray and then do C or D.)

    8. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I hope you succeed getting a Primary Care Doctor. It has become very difficult as of late due to many doctors not accepting new patients and the fact that others have left the field entirely.

      Probably start with your insurance and get a list of nearby primary care doctors to contact.

      Good Luck.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        I already have an appointment, so that part is taken care of. I just called down my insurance’s list of nearby doctors till one said they were taking new patients. The doc listed by the insurance had fine reviews on the insurance site, but this is somebody else at the same office, so I’m going in totally blind. Should probably do a bit of googling….

    9. just another queer reader*

      There’s good advice here. I also recommend asking around (friends, neighborhood groups) for recommendations. Or, you could just call up the office and ask for the first available appointment and see if you like them.

      In my opinion, a good doctor is one who listens to me, takes me seriously, and clearly tells me what my options are.

      PS you probably already know this from dentist and optometrist, but – get ready to be charged an arm and a leg for everything. In my experience, the first physical of the year is usually free (unless you ask any questions!); visits usually cost about $300, or like $500-$1000 if you have any bloodwork/ labs.
      If you have an HSA you can pay with pretax dollars which helps a little.

    10. Fidgeting giraffe*

      The one thing that I would add to the list already is: when you go to a doctor for a reason, write down that reason and all of the related symptoms and observations. Refer to your list during the visit so you don’t forget anything or neglect anything “because it’s too minor to mention.”

      Also, do any pain ranking/evaluating at home and write that down. This is because studies have shown that people often feel buoyed up by going to the doctors and end up reporting lower pain than they would when they made the appointment.

      I saw a list a while ago (like a decade?) of “things doctors wished their patients did” but the only thing I remember is what I’ve already written.

      Best wishes!

    11. The Shenanigans*

      Well, first check to see what health system your insurance covers. Then, ask around and see where your friends go. Get a few names just in case they are out of network or they aren’t the right choice for you. If you don’t vibe with any of those doctors, ask them where THEY go. A good doc will realize they can’t treat everyone and shouldn’t be offended. If you don’t like the doctor for ANY reason, you have the right to switch or (if needed) complain.

      When you go, ask questions! Don’t feel bad asking questions. It’s your life so asking about their qualifications, clarifying anything you don’t know or even asking for more information because you disagree is totally fine.

      Let them know you haven’t been in a while. There are almost certainly shots they will strongly suggest you get eg flu, COVID, etc. Do get those even if you don’t normally get sick as it helps protect the community and build up in your system. Preventive care is EVERYTHING. On the other hand, if you aren’t comfortable with a suggested course of treatment you can ask for an alternative or refuse outright. A good doctor will work with you.

      Good luck!

    12. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      I think this situation maps really well onto Alison’s general advice re interviewing for a new job, so if you’ve been following AAM for a while, you are more prepared than you might realize!

      For instance:

      You and your new medical provider are “interviewing each other.”

      You are looking for, but not necessarily expecting, red or yellow flags (ie, homophobia, racism, sexism, fatphobia, ableism, ageism, language fluency bias, neurocognitive differences) and should have a response planned out to keep yourself safe if weirdness ensues. Medical professionals are not immune to bias, and biases can deeply affect the care patients are given.

      Like any job interview, you CAN AND SHOULD exit promptly if you feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The standard AAM lines apply nicely, ie: “Well, thank you so much for your time but I believe this is not a good match, so I’ll be leaving now!” Be at peace with The Awkward as you gather your things and leave! (This is harder to do in an Urgent Care situation or an ER situation, but if you are there for a non-urgent “maintenance check-up” then walking out is better that staying, in my experience.)

      It will help if you bring written notes because one can get flustered in an interview or medical appointment if it’s a new situation and you feel stressed out. Ie, consider bringing several medical history lists—a list of past illnesses/injuries with dates, a list of current prescription medications/over the counter medications/supplements, a list of dates of past medical care ie vaccinations/bloodwork/gynecological exams/labs, a list of any symptoms you want to discuss etc.

      Be aware that a provider will have an agenda– tasks and questions they need to get through during your appointment as part of their job description. What you might think of as “an appointment,” the medical system may be defining in a more specific way that you might not even know is a thing. Some practitioners are great at conveying this, but others may simply get increasingly frustrated by you (shades of a classic AAM Bad Manager lol). To prevent frustration and confusion, you might consider calling the office beforehand, and asking enough questions to get a feel for what *their* agenda will be for your specific appointment. It’s possible that asking about “the minor thing you want checked out” will make the visit NOT a “basic check-up” and your cost may change, and you may need a second appointment. Better to understand this weirdness beforehand. Also find out how long your appointment will be, because that can affect your game plan for achieving your goals.

      Finally, unlike a job jnterview, be aware that you always have the option of bringing a friend! It is totally, completely normal and acceptable. If anyone hassles you, that’s a big red flag, and I myself would walk away. Your friend can just be moral support, or they can take notes for you and remind you of your question list if you are stressed and forget. You can just cheerfully introduce them: “This is my note-taker today!” and that should absolutely get a positive response, and a second chair in the exam room. (I think this maps well to the low key “this is the disability accomodation I need today, NBD, thanks” rhetorical stance that is an AAM thing I love.)

      You’ve got this! The modern medical system can be challenging, but notice how well AAM “work strategies” can help you navigate through it successfully!

    13. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

      Why you might bring someone with you to your medical appointments—

      Atypical Example: I personally have said “This is my bodyguard—her job is to make you immediately stop if I say Stop, using whatever methods are required” when I had to continue physical therapy at a place where my “Ow! Stop Now!” had been ignored before. I was young and this was the only recourse I could think of then. I didn’t know I could fire them. But this sure fixed my immediate personal safety problem.

      Typical Example 1: I had a friend with many risk factors for bias, including size, age, and gender. Historically, she had frequently gotten poor care. I went with her to several appointments, and helped amplify her concerns and wishes. If a doctor glossed over a concern, I was the one to restate the concern and insist it be addressed. I was the one who asked if they could consider this or that additional test, “or help us understand why those tests are not medically relevant.” I was the bad cop, so my friend could be the patient.

      Typical Example 2: I go with my elderly relative to take notes, to ensure she remembers and accurately articulates the medical issues she’s having, to confirm new meds are being prescribed with her existing meds in mind, to write up the new instructions for her and remind her about them later, etc.

      Sidenote: What I personally have witnessed, is that the presence of a second person (introduced as an ally of the patient, so that patient and ally are clearly a coalition and the ally clearly demonstrates respectful and caring treatment of the patient) can significantly increase the perceived status of a patient and improve the care they are given. Sometimes the difference is small. Sometimes the difference is huge. This strikes me as pretty problematic, and I feel like it should be studied more.

    14. Dr101*

      these days most doctors have a strict time limit. Even a new patient/annual physical appointment (which will typically be longer) may only be 30-40 minutes long. Some regular appts may be considerably shorter and most dr have pressure to stay to the time limit (this is the biggest change since I was a child).

      If you’re a new patient, especially if you’ve not seen a dr in a while (how lucky for you – I find it hard to imagine someone being so healthy) it may take several visits before they’ll do anything but evaluation/discussion stuff because of the time limits above.

      Whether the appointment is free or not depends entirely on how the dr offices codes it. In theory you’re supposed to get one free primary care appt/year for a physical but my dr never bill’s appts that way. Also, most insurance has a deductible these days so you may be paying 100% of the cost (at a negotiated lower “maximum allowed rate” until you hit the deductible. For people who need more medical care than you do, thus is balanced by an out of pocket maximum at which point the insurance pays for 100% of covered charges.

      For example, the list cost of an appointment may be $400. Patients without insurance pay that amount, but an insurance company might say the maximum price for that type of visit is $280. If you have a deductible you haven’t met you’ll be charged the discounted rate of $280.

      Lab work, x-rays, and other tests may be extra. These used to be routinely covered at 100% by insurance but that’s no longer true. Depending on your insurance, they may have an extra charge that may or may not go away when you meet your deductible.

      If you’ve met your deductible but not the out of pocket maximum and have a copay (there are two models – copays or fixed patient payment or coinsurance where the patient pays a set percentage of the negotiated fee) you will be asked to pay it before care is provided.

      If any part of your care is in a hospital you may also be charged a facility fee.

      If going in person, bring your insurance card and an ID, they’ll want a photocopy.

      Leave extra time for the first appointment both before and after. There will almost certainly be paperwork before and if you need any bloodwork, xrays, etc you’ll likely have a wait after your actual appointment.

      Hope this helps. Still blowing my mind that you’ve been healthy enough not to need this before.

      1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

        Wow, good catch.
        The deductible concept could have a HUGE financial effect for a person who hardly ever needs medical care. (As opposed to those of us who fork over our total deductible by February or April or June, and thus know to budget for that lunacy.)
        The other part of this: if you are someone for whom hitting your deductible is rare, and then one year you break your arm or something and DO hit your deductible, then *that’s* the year to quickly cram in every other test or procedure you’ve been putting off (colonoscopy, mammogram, full eye exam, full body skin cancer screening, bone density scan, additional bloodwork, etc). But schedule those things as soon as you realize, because by December enough patients are in this boat that it’s often impossible to get an appointment until January (at which point you’ll again be paying the full amount until the new year’s deductible is met.)
        Specialists and procedures are often scheduling 6 to 8 weeks out, so figure you might be calling in October for a December appointment.

  38. Jay*

    So, I live in a very old building, at least by US standards. Think 1oo plus years old.
    There are good and bad things about this, but I think the good outweighs the bad. At the very least, everything was built long before the ascendency of Brutalist architecture.
    Unfortunately, one of the BAD things is mice.
    They show up every year and there is little that can be done about that. There is just a colony deep in the walls and hidden spaces and no one even knows where all of those are anymore. It’s big enough and old enough that I would actually be rather more surprised if there WERE’NT whole lost rooms somewhere in here. Baits and traps eventually handle things, as does crawling around, looking for any new holes in the walls. At least one new hole shows up per year and several mice get in before I seal it up.
    My life doesn’t allow for a cat in it and I’ve come to really hate having those traps out all spring.
    Any ideas on how to get rid of the horrible little monsters? Or, failing that, what baits work best for traps, so I can be done with them all the sooner?

    Thanks in advance for any advice.

    1. fposte*

      I would call actual pest control, and I would expect to call them annually. With old houses, we are offering mice lovely free warm hotels with restaurants and they’re not going to be deterred by a mildly sticky door. A friend of mine has two cats and it hasn’t slowed her mice down any so you’re not necessarily missing out.

      I’m just happy it’s not rats, you know?

      1. Jay*

        The problem here is that it is an apartment building. The building itself does indeed have regular pest control inspections. It’s just that it is so big and so old that nothing ever gets them all, at least not permanently. Especially when some people have pets and do not take proper precautions with the pet food. I do what I can in my own place, but I can’t control the neighbors or what happens in the deep depths of the building.

        1. fposte*

          Nothing is going to take care of them permanently, whether it’s a house or an apartment. Reframe it as ongoing maintenance rather than a solvable problem.

    2. Rara Avis*

      My parents’ house is not so old (built in 1988) but it’s in a rural area so he wages yearly wars with the mice. Peanut butter. Lots and lots of peanut butter. Someone we know also found the spinning bar over a bucket of water effective.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Ugh condolences. It’s very hard to get rid of mice entirely, and they also in my experience contribute to fleas, which are even more annoying. Worse, when I was reading about the problem online, I kept hearing they can spread diseases, which really freaked me out. My line in the sand was being unwilling to put out poison – the poisoned mice become easy pickings for the very predators we *want* to keep them at bay, particularly my beloved hawks and owls. It’s hard to find humane options – the sticky traps are *not* that, but the catch and release ones are futile, and the other lethal options (snaps and the thing that electrifies them) will never get them all, and the snaps at least don’t have a perfect rate of instant death versus traumatic injury / traumatized homeowner.

    4. Gatomon*

      I get them in my garage. I use the Victor Electric Mouse Trap baited with a cat kibble, the kibble is the perfect size and seemingly never degrades. The trap is supposedly humane and now that they have disposable pieces, you just dump the whole thing.

      My cat is basically useless against the mice; once he realized they weren’t going to walk up and proffer themselves as tribute to his might, he lost interest. Thankfully he does eat spiders.

    5. just another queer reader*

      In my experience and area of the US, mice will join you in your old building, new building, and anything in between.

      With proactive and regular maintenance, you can keep the mouse population in the low-to-zero range, and they won’t be much of a problem.

      If you can push your landlord to step up their mouse exterminator game, do that.

      As for your specific unit: keep plugging up holes with steel wool, keep your food in hard containers, minimize clutter and hiding spots, and keep traps out (snap traps with peanut butter have worked best for me).

      I keep traps out continuously (inside cabinets and under radiators, so they’re out of the way) and refresh the traps if I notice any mouse activity.

      PS cats are typically not much help with mice unless you’re literally starving your cat, so you’re not missing out on much!

      1. just another queer reader*

        Also – I put mouse traps inside cardboard boxes to hide them (and protect my cat). You might like this too.

        I take a snallish cardboard box and make it open on both ends. I make sure it’s big enough that the mouse trap can fit inside and still operate. Mice like to run along the wall, so I put the box up again the wall. Make sure the “target” side of the mouse trap is next to the wall.

    6. BlueWolf*

      I live in an older house in a somewhat wooded area so we have mice problems periodically. There really isn’t much to do but keep finding and plugging the holes. We use snap traps with peanut butter and they seem to be pretty effective at keeping them at bay also. Being in an apartment is hard. Our old apartment building was terrible for mice too.

    7. MJ*

      I tried one of the electric mouse deterrents that emit a high pitched noise. I missed the bit on the package that said it could take a few weeks to be effective, but after 4-5 weeks I stopped seeing any mice in my apartment. They aren’t good for small rodents in general, so if you have gerbils, hamsters or the like, don’t get one!

    8. Dumpster Fire*

      We’ve had really good luck with “Fresh Cab Botanical Rodent Repellent”, which we can get on Amazon. It’s little bags that smell like pine that we put in places where mice tend to be; and they have worked great! We have them in corners in the garage and basement, under the stove, even drop them into bags of paper supplies. Safe, easy to use, pretty cheap.

  39. KatEnigma*

    Last year, the neighbor got his older daughter 6 bunnies, and built them a hutch. At least 2 of them are permanently escaped from the hutch, and have been for months. The bunnies have decided that they like our front yard better than their own. I don’t particularly care, except that THREE times just this week, a helpful passer-by (we’re on the road that leads to the walking trail, so not-close neighbors go by all day long) have rang our bell to let us know “our” bunnies have escaped. I had a hysterectomy at the end of last week, making this even more annoying than it would be otherwise. *I* couldn’t answer the door at all the first couple times, and can’t answer it fast now. We have 3 dogs that do what dogs do when someone rings the bell. This is the neighbor whose husband was suddenly killed 3 weeks ago- but the problem predates his death. Yes, I know it’s not good for domestic rabbits to be set free, but these 2 are apparently thriving and I can’t force my neighbor to act responsibly even if she hadn’t just lost her husband. Would we be unreasonable if we tried to trap the rabbits and sent them to a rescue? (Before he died, he got her 2 new baby bunnies…. Did I mention that I’m glad he hadn’t gotten the chickens yet, before he died?) Does anyone have any advice? I just laminated a sign for the door stating that the bunnies belong next door and yes, they know. The people telling us always stare at us blankly when we say they are the neighbor’s, and ask if they know. They don’t seem to believe that they just don’t care.

    1. fposte*

      Check online to see if there’s a house rabbit society anywhere near you, and ask them for advice. They’ll be more bunny aware than animal control.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I would totally trap and rehome those bunnies. I don’t want to find them dead on my lawn from a stray dog or car (and I don’t want to be home to their seventh generations, either). Then again, I trapped and spayed what I’m pretty sure, in retrospect, was a neighbor’s pet cat who had the misfortune of enjoying my yard, so I’m pretty hard line on pets being where they’re not supposed to be.

      1. KatEnigma*

        One got into our backyard and MY dogs almost caught it. And I wouldn’t have cared except for 1) the mess and 2) the trauma to my kid and hers! There ARE coyotes in the neighborhood, but apparently cats and small dogs are easier to catch than even really stupid bunnies.

        Twice in California, we rented next to people running feral cat colonies. The first person did NOT catch and spay/neuter. But no one ever thought it necessary to tell me there was a loose cat in my yard. That’s expected- annoyingly so when our cat got out and went missing.

        1. Sloanicota*

          There seems to be some folks in my neighborhood who are actively cultivating cat colonies, sigh (without a TNR program, I mean, just shelters / pet food put out). I do love cats indoors but I love wild birds, lizards, etc a lot more, and I have seen too many sad outcomes for kittens born out of doors and left to fend for themselves.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I think if you’re bothered by the passersby and not the bunnies, you should at least wait to see if the sign works. If it doesn’t or you also want the bunnies out of your space, I’d maybe go over to the neighbor once, explain it’s becoming a problem, and ask if she’d like help wrangling them. That way you’re kind of offering support but also creating an opening to kindly say “okay, if you don’t want them back I’m going to need to re-home them/take them to a shelter” so she doesn’t get blind-sided by them vanishing.

      1. Sloanicota*

        You’re nicer than me, I would not mention it to them! She can’t possibly be surprised that rabbits who are running lose and not even in her yard anymore have gone. But, I’m sure it’s the more neighborly thing to do to bring it up.

      2. KatEnigma*

        The mother didn’t want the bunnies in the first place and is allergic to all the things. The one who would be upset by them vanishing is the already traumatized 9 yr old…

        1. WellRed*

          I understand the nine year old is traumatized but any chance you can enlist their help in getting them back to the hutch?

          1. KatEnigma*

            They “tried” for weeks before her dad died. So… I don’t really understand why they couldn’t catch them and put them back where they belonged- they all just gave up.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          My partner is still affected by his childhood pet being taken away suddenly by his awful father, but the main issue was not really knowing what happened to him. If you think she would be traumatized by them vanishing, how much worse for her to see a bloody mess on the lawn one day? I would probably call a rescue or animal service and I would let the child know afterwards that they were okay, and that they were taken away and rescued “because everyone who saw them was so worried about them”. If the situation was different, I would tell you to enlist the kid or her mum in efforts to get them, but it sounds like the husband got the animals without really thinking about whether his wife or daughter could care for them, and if his plan was to care for them himself, well clearly he can’t now.

          1. KatEnigma*

            He was the kind to just do things on impulse. He was supposed to get her ONE bunny for her birthday, and turned up with 6. But he was handy so he built them a custom hutch. She cares for them reasonably well, especially for a 9 yr old, but “Bunnies are A-holes” comes across my FB feed (randomly) and now I understand how often they escape. None of them do much to prevent their *dog* from escaping and haven’t since we moved in 18 months ago… and he’s a laid back non reactive (thank goodness) poodle. He stays on the block usually, and at least when I see him, I tell him to go home, or can pick him up and open the gate and secure him.

    4. Not A Manager*

      My neighborhood is full of feral rabbits. No one would dream of knocking on a door if they saw a bunny on the lawn.

      I wouldn’t even say that the bunnies belong next door. I’d post a sign that says “Not my rabbits, do not ring bell.”

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, that’s really weird to me. Are random rabbits that unusual in your neighborhood? I have a whole warren under my shed I think, and if someone knocked on my door to tell me there was a rabbit in my yard, I’d honestly be hard-pressed not to just close the door without a response and go back to whatever I was doing when they interrupted me with pointless nonsense. If I even answered the door. Which I generally don’t.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Ordinary brown/grey field rabbits, sure, but I’m picturing, like, black-and-white lop earred bunnies if people walking by can tell these are escaped pets.

          1. KatEnigma*

            There is a brown/grey one but the one that gets everyone’s attention is a chocolate brown one, and occasionally there is a white one. Those clearly aren’t wild rabbits.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m someone who has stolen dogs from private property with the knowledge that I was trespassing and stealing. But I will not abide by animal neglect and abuse and if a neighbor won’t let me provide care with permission, I will do it without. I have driven dogs I’ve stolen over state borders. I don’t care about the risk.

      I would absolutely trap and re-home these bunnies and not say a word about it to my neighbor.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Why would you not call animal control? In addition to removing the animal and barring them from getting more, they can issue fines or press criminal charges.

        The point is not risk to you – you’re doing nothing to deter the person from getting another animal to abuse.

        1. Saddy Hour*

          I’m sure this varies by place, but I’ve never had much luck with getting animal control to care about neglect unless the animals are actively menacing people when they arrive. That goes double for exotic pets, in my experience. My neighbor has an exotic parrot older than me, and for my entire life that poor thing has been kept in a medium-large cage, which is wheeled into the driveway during the day (no matter the weather, including hail and ash from wildfires) and wheeled back into the garage at sunset. His only companionship is the people who walk by and take pity on him, but it’s not nearly enough for a parrot. I’ve made multiple reports but animal control basically told me it’s legal for this doofus to mistreat his property. I get closer to just stealing him all the time.

    6. LGP*

      This is so sad, those poor bunnies. Domestic rabbits are not equipped to survive in the wild, and the longer they are out there, the more babies they’ll have who are then also in danger. I know they shouldn’t be your responsibility, but I would strongly urge you to contact a shelter. Hopefully they can help catch them and bring them to safety. This is no different than if you came across an abandoned puppy on the side of the road. I assume you would help it, or at least contact someone who can. Rabbits deserve the same consideration.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Except that they seem to be surviving in the wild just fine?

        1. LGP*

          They may be okay for now, but they are in serious danger. Domesticated rabbits are not like wild rabbits: they do not have the same protective behaviors and instincts that allow wild rabbits to survive. From the House Rabbit Society website:

          “When pet rabbits are abandoned outside the end result is suffering followed by death. They are the easiest of prey for predators. They die in traffic. If they live long enough they become infested with ticks, mites, fleas, and botflies. They become diseased. They starve.

          When predators are few and a food source exists a terrible domino effect can occur. Two original rabbits reproduce in exponential numbers, quickly creating a population of hundreds or even thousands of stray animals.

          Two or three abandoned rabbits left to reproduce will quickly become a colony of unwanted rabbits, causing a huge crisis for taxpayers and the environment. There are multiple costs associated with these rabbit colonies. The animals suffer and die in numerous ways. Taxpayers end up spending thousands of dollars trying to address the problem. Volunteers and humane groups spend countless hours trying to reduce suffering and stop the population growth. Controlling one rabbit colony can take years.”

        2. KatEnigma*

          Thriving even. This is suburban Houston- 40 yr old development with mature mandated trees and bushes. The rabbits are larger than the stray cats, the birds of prey are mainly bird eaters, the weather is not a danger to them, and apparently the few coyotes are lazy. The gators at the gulley a couple blocks away seem content with their food choices and haven’t come this far up the hill to catch pets. Clearly they have a safe source of water somewhere.

          1. Patty Mayonnaise*

            Ok knowing that GATORS are a factor, I think you should call a shelter/trap them/get them out of the yard.

    7. Silence*

      Not a solution for the bunnies but can you invest in a camera doorbell that can be used as an intercom without having to get up

      1. KatEnigma*

        We have that. Two in fact. People can not hear me on Ring over the barking dogs.

  40. Flowers*

    Grocery shopping/coupons/savings

    When I first began learning to cook and grocery shop, I would scour ads for different stores to find sales. I never coupon clipped though and not driving or having a car limited us but being jobless, I had ample time to shop small batches pretty much daily.  

    Eventually that stopped when I began working and driving and we had a kid etc so now regular shops are once a week at our 2 regular stores; any specialty shops or other places (ie aldi, trader joes etc) require a special trip. Anything we usually use or need are bought at the 2 stores. Well things are getting expensive and those 2 stores never have sales or discounts on specific things that we always need. So now I’m back to spending the week searching different store flyers/websites for those things.

    So throwing this out here – is there an easier way to do this now? Apps, etc that can automatically find the sales for me? I feel like between 2008 and now, things must have gotten easier/better for this?

    1. Jay*

      If you have a large-ish family and a bit of storage space, you could consider one of those warehouse stores, Costco, B.J.’s, Samsclub, etc.

      1. Elle*

        We buy the non perishable things we need the most at Costco-paper goods, pasta, cereal, soup, snacks. If I end up buying it weekly it’s often cheaper to buy in bulk at Costco.

        1. Jay*

          My folks did something similar growing up.
          Saved quite a bit on things like flower, sugar, canned goods, freezer stock, etc.

      2. Flowers*

        I have neither but I’m not averse to actually getting a membership just to get the non perishables like paper products etc.

        The only thing that stops me from getting one is going to one of those shops on the weekend. I hate crowds, I hate having to get in line just to EXIT (!) and if my occasional experience is any proof, there can be crowds on random weekday late mornings as well.

        1. Elle*

          You have to pick your times. But we only go once every couple of months so it’s not a big deal.

        2. Sleepy Snoopy*

          The exit line really isn’t that bad. Even when it is longer, it takes less than a min or two to get out for me.

    2. just another queer reader*

      So, my general strategy is to do a weekly-ish shop at Store A (which has most of my household’s staples) and then once in a while stop by Stores B, C, D, and E (which each have a few specialty items).

      Honestly when I have a little more flexibility (pickiest member of my household is moving out soon), I am hoping to make Aldi my primary store because the staples are cheaper there.

      Sometimes I save some energy and time by ordering groceries for pickup. It’s free at Target.

      (I also don’t pay a lot of attention to sales tbh. I mostly look for the generally cheaper items. Sometimes I’ll get a few extra nonperishables if I see that they’re especially cheap.)

    3. Soup*

      Not sure what stores are by you, but I shop at Kroger and Meijer regularly and both have a mobile app where you can view weekly sales and digitally clip coupons. You have to set up an account, but then at the check out all you do is type in your phone number and it’ll apply any appropriately clipped coupons. I spend maybe 15 mins each Sunday flipping through the ad and clipping which ever new coupons popped up. Meijer organizes them by category. Kroger you can sort the newest ones to the top

    4. Princess Deviant*

      Do you have anything like TopCashback where you are? You might find something if you google ‘money saving websites US’.
      You basically enter what you’re looking for, and if there is a deal TC will offer it to you, you shop (online) through the link and cashback goes into your online pot and becomes available to you after several months.
      It’s not instant, but I have saved over £800 in the last few years using this site and another one called Westfield which is available to me through my employers.

    5. Invisible fish*

      Never go into a store again – do everything online and do pick ups. Get accounts for the stores you do business at; they have coupons and deals that change constantly. To compare prices, fill up all your online carts with everything you need, then remove delete it from cart of the store that prices it higher

      And Aldi has a better online store/app thing now! If you can get to an Aldi, that’s the way to go!!

    6. Nihil Scio*

      I usually have an ongoing list of necessities in my phone. Basics such a cleaning supplies, paper products, canned goods (tomatoes, beans, et cetera), spices (cheaper in bags and I transfer them to labelled mason jars), baking supplies, olive oil, pet food, and snacks, are purchased once a month or so at our Mart of Walls.

      There’s about a 20-50% difference on average for these than at our local chain grocery store.

      When I do my weekly, local shop, I spend 10 minutes comparing the local flyers and choose the one with the best loss-leader in expensive goods such as meat, coffee, cheese, or deli. If any of your ‘basics’ are on sale, so much the better.

  41. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Need recommendations for what to do in Edinburgh, Scotland for a couple days. 4 adults, all tired. 2 of them are seniors with mild cognitive issues, the other 2 are competent. One of the competent adults is completely DONE with the parents (fair, I’m in London leaving the 3 of them on their own) so may go off on their own. Also, one of the seniors has limited walking and has a wheelchair for distances.

    So, ideas? Pretty sure we’re doing one of the hop on-hop off bus tours, where we will just stay on to see everything, but otherwise we didn’t really plan.

    1. SG*

      Cheese shops are great if that’s something they like. I. J. Mellis is one example — at many, you can taste cheeses, or some places offer pre-set tastings similar to a wine shop.

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

      I did a little googling, and I see there’s something called sage traveling dot com that claims to have a wheelchair accessible Royal Mile walking tour. Maybe you all could also find an accessible pub or tearoom or two to rest up in? Train trips around there are gorgeous too. Maybe there’s somewhere where you can go there and back via train the same day and enjoy the scenery without having to move too much?

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

        Also, maybe browsing in a shop that offers woolens? Both times I’ve been to Edinburgh I have kicked myself later for not buying some nice wool clothing. It seems expensive, but compared to what it would cost elsewhere, I don’t think it really is.

    3. Trixie*

      An acquaintance of mine is there is with his wife for her birthday, and looks like a tour of a chocolate making factory that includes whiskey tasting. (chocolatarium)

    4. Anon for this*

      I live in Edinburgh! I also have mobility difficulties and sometimes use a wheelchair. Though I haven’t done any touristy things since the mobility issues got difficult. It’s a beautiful and very compact city, but has steep hills and cobbles and access can be very difficult in the old buildings.

      The hop on hop off bus tour is a brilliant idea. For the rest, where are you staying and what sort of things do you like doing? Personally I’d recommend the National Museum of Scotland, which has good wheelchair access, and maybe the Scottish National Gallery if that’s your sort of thing (and the gallery is right next to Princes St Gardens which is good on a nice day but with some steep paths), but it all depends on what you like. And what you’re fed up of seeing in London and don’t want to see the Scottish version of. The botanic gardens and portobello beach are my favourite things to do in Edinburgh, the botanics have some steep paths but they loan wheelchairs and mobility scooters and have a brilliant view from some of the high parts. Portobello is to the east of Edinburgh and is a residential area with lovely little shops, a sandy beach, and some nice cafes. They have beach wheelchairs available for hire (though if you’re coming in the next week where warm sunny weather is predicted the beach will be packed with everyone from Edinburgh).

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Thanks for the ideas. The situation got more complicated, as mom is sick and we’re having to get medical care (figured out, just slow due to weekend/holiday). So we are very much taking things as they come! Options are helpful. The beach might be a hit, and we’re traveling to the city on Monday.

      1. Anon for this*

        Oh I hope your Mom feels better soon and the medical care went smoothly! Being sick on holiday or while travelling is horrible.

        So the forecast for today – Wednesday is 17/18 Celsius and sunny, which is Scottish terms is basically high summer (I’m only sort of joking, anything above 20 degrees is proper summer weather in Scotland so it feels extremely warm to us now). Portobello is small but as well as the prom and the beach it has a shop that sells products by local artists/makers, a wee gallery, a lovely bookshop (that’s fully accessible, a lot of the smaller shops aren’t), some nice gift shops etc. The beach house cafe on the prom is my favourite and the window seats have a great view, but it gets very busy. The Edinburgh bus system is good and all buses have a wheelchair ramp and one wheelchair space (so it can be a bit of a lottery to see if the bus you’re waiting on will have a free wheelchair space or if it’ll be taken), the black cabs are all wheelchair accessible too and the drivers are mostly good (I’ve had the odd arsehole when using the chair but vastly outnumbered by nice drivers). City cabs or central cabs are the two black cab companies and there’s not much difference between them.

        In terms of other things to do, most non-walking things in Edinburgh involve nice scenery so if I was tired and unwell I’d probably just want to be comfy and find somewhere very close to where I was staying with a good view of the castle or the skyline to eat and watch the world go by.

    6. One little comment*

      I did a 12 hour tour of the Scottish Highlands that left out of Edinburgh and it was so nice! There were places to get off the bus if you wanted, and one two-hour stop where you probably had to get off but could find a restaurant or go on a one-hour boat tour. It was through “The Hairy Coo” and I really enjoyed it!

  42. Gardening thread*

    It looks like no-one else has posted this yet, so how are people’s plant friends doing this long weekend? Personally, my garden keeps being overrun with vines the minute I look away. I’ve got bad grapevines, hedge bindweed, and a white form of clematis (wintersweet) that all try to take over my beds as fast as they can.

    1. WellRed*

      I’m babysitting my roommates houseplants. I also this morning loaded up on flowers for my containers but it’s too hot and sunny for me to do the planting today,

    2. Filosofickle*

      4 months of winter rain in California means weeds are EVERYWHERE. I’ve managed to weed the beds fairly successfully but the grass areas do not look salvageable. Luckily I plan to rip out the lawn anyway, but I wasn’t going to do that this year so it’s just going to be a weed lawn for the foreseeable future. At least the gopher has stopped harassing my yard?

      My day lilies are popping in and out. My cannas are rising up nicely. My Japanese maple trees are glorious!

    3. Massachusetts Beginner Gardener*

      TLDR: looking for recommendations on low maintenance, attractive plants for garden beds in central Massachusetts.

      I hope its ok to piggyback here! I just moved from an apartment to a house, and landscaping is totally new to me. We have…massive…garden beds, and while there’s some pretty things already growing, I’d like to fill in some of the blank spaces. As much as I’d like to have a lovely yard and learn all there is to know about plants, I have a young baby and probably won’t have much gardening time for the foreseeable future. We have what I think are azaleas and some shrub-like bushes, and what feels like acres of mulch. Please help!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ooh this was similar to me. Hostas, daylillies and iris are all good perennial (will come back every year) plants that spread and take up a good amount of space, although you’ll have to check if you’re getting enough sun/moisture. I’m to the south of you but echinacea, monarda and blackeyed susan are all good for sunny spots. Hydrangeas get massive even in part shade. The thing to avoid is fiddly little plants you’ll always have to weed around, sparsity (which makes an opportunity for weeds / makes them more obvious versus lush vegetation) and annuals, which are often very pretty but require yearly commitment.

        1. Massachusetts Beginner Gardener*

          This is so helpful! Thank you! The beds were pretty weedy at first, so I think you’re spot on about what we’re looking for/hoping to avoid. My yards is very shaded, so I’m happy to read that hydrangeas might grow.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’m in mid-CT and if you have a lot of shady areas to fill in, want plants that are virtually unkillable, don’t want to maintain them other than to just walk by and give them a passing glance, and want areas to fill in fast, hostas are a good way to go. What’s nice is that once they start really spreading after a few years, you can divide them so you can plant in other spots. My sister’s husband dug up four big hostas from their yard years ago and brought them to my old house. I divided each plant into something like eight to 10 plants and then I planted them in a really long retaining wall. Before I knew it, the whole wall was filled in with big, beautiful hostas. There are some hosta varieties that want a little sun, so make sure to check the tag when you’re buying them.

            Oh, and if you want to (or need to) spend less, look for hostas on clearance. A couple years ago I wanted to spruce up a stone wall, which was about 100 feet long, and I needed a lot of plants. I found a whole bunch that were on clearance because of the time of year and I saved a ton of money. They were something like 4/$10. You can also find them on those carts at the back of the garden center (usually in Lowe’s and Home Depot) that have all the plants that are on their last leg. Hostas are really hard to kill, so if you find some that are kind of deadish looking and they’re super cheap, buy them. They’ll come back in no time.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            A lot of hostas are shade-loving – different varietals really run the gamut as to whether they want full shade to part sun. But as long as you get the right type, they’re great. One of my favorites :)

          3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Sedum (I think?) is also a pretty good spreading ground cover that has shade friendly variants.

      2. Bobina*

        Hostas are great as long as you dont have slugs/snails in your area, in which case they will be eaten quite quickly. Other shade accepting plants I love that can come in a range of colours – AND are evergreen (ish) so you dont have nothing in winter are Heuchera’s and Ajuga (aka Bugleweed). The latter in particular is a creeper and spreads fairly quickly so if you want to fill in space, they are a good choice.

    4. acmx*

      My yard is being overtaken by weeds, too. I just got a weed puller and it’s very helpful with the hard to remove weeds.

      All of my hibiscus plants have blooms and my red not-mums (forgot their name) are thriving.

    5. KatEnigma*

      We have a tomato plant that is well on its way to being a stairway for giants in the sky… and it has tomatoes on it that even my tall husband is going to need a ladder to pick. We have the good tomato cages that last (10 seasons and counting so far) and are stackable, and when it got a little leggy, we just stacked another cage on top. That was a mistake! It grew fast and got out of hand with blossoms and baby tomatoes before we could trim it…. So it grows toward the 2nd story.

        1. KatEnigma*

          No idea! LOL Planted it and that was it. There are 3 other tomato plants that aren’t nearly so happy- although the Better Boy is a bush tomato and the Black Krim is by far the largest and healthiest Black Krim we have ever grown, in many attempts. Normally we are nursing them along. LOL

    6. Firebird*

      While I’m visiting my son in Florida, my daughter is watering my plants. once a week she sends me “proof of life” photos once a week. As far as I can tell, they are still ok.

      I started some tomato plants that are pretty leggy because they are still inside. I don’t know how they will work out by the time I’m able to get them outside, in another week.

    7. Thunder Kitten*

      I had a bare patch of dirt on one side of the house. little helper and I sprinkled a bunch of wildflower seeds and the entire space is covered with daisies. Lets see how it goes as the season goes on.

    8. Trixie*

      My goal this week to replant a couple that need new soil and more air. Plus settle some herbs into their containers for kitchen counter, and try a moss pole for the monstera. Fingers crossed they all adjust well!

    9. Damn it, Hardison!*

      As happens every year at this time, I bought what feels like a million flowers and herbs to plant this weekend. Yesterday I did most of the herbs and lettuce (in containers) and today is all about the flowers. Every year I think I won’t need to buy any perennials and every year I do because some don’t come back. This year I bought dianthus, lupine, coneflowers, foxglove, oriental poppies and bee balm. We have a lot of bunnies and I learned the hard way that they love poppies and coneflowers, so I will put down some liquid fence and put plant cages around the flowers so they stand a chance.

  43. Wondering about absent commenter Not So NewReader*

    One of the people whose advice I’ve consistently found insightful over the years is Not So NewReader. She has been away a long time. Or perhaps has a new user name.

    If you happen to be reading this, I hope you are doing okay.

    1. Not A Manager*

      This question was raised in the May 6 weekend open thread. You can find the discussion there. I’m always sad when longtime participants decide to step away for whatever reason.

      1. Wondering about absent commenter Not So NewReader*

        Thank you, I just read that thread which I hadn’t seen.

      2. Jean (just Jean)*

        Another thank you, from another one similarly wondering.
        I’ll go read the May 6 weekend thread.

    2. Ellis Bell*

      They may have just changed their username! I did that when another commenter noted my feminine username and expressed surprise that my opinion would come from a woman. I found that deeply annoying, so I made my name less obviously female except to those who recognise it.

  44. wildlife question*

    Is there a city agency with weekend/holiday hours, that I could call re. wildlife in trouble? What would such an agency be called?

    I saw a fox (?) on my run today with an empty peanut butter container stuck over its head. I was startled and screamed, and the fox ran away, but if there’s an organization that would go out and care for the fox, I’d like to let them know. Unfortunately, most city offices are closed until Tuesday because of the long weekend. Suggestions?

    1. Moose ent Skvirrel*

      Call a veterinary clinic that has emergency hours and they will know who can help. Also if you are in US you might try the SPCA, and some cities even have volunteer or nonprofit wildlife/animal protection and welfare groups. Try a google search for that. Heck, you might even try a fire department or police non-emergency number and see if they can refer you somewhere. Thank you for trying to help.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Poor critter. Many communities have facilities for injured wildlife. Try searching for wildlife rehabilitation or wildlife hospital or wildlife rescue.

    3. fposte*

      It’ll depend on your area, but in my area there wouldn’t be anybody governmental on this. Even if it was within the remit of animal control (here it’s arguable if foxes are–we have a big mange problem in foxes and they’ve made it clear it’s outside of their purview) they don’t go out hunting an animal based on a sighting–they’d just leave out traps.

      What I’d do in my town is search “wildlife rehabilitator near me” and post on the local ND and FB for ideas and to see if there was anybody experienced. But there’s a reasonable chance if it got the jar on its head it’ll manage to get it off; it’ll just take a bit of good luck to get the right angle.

    4. wildlife question*

      Update: I have tried every relevant non-emergency option there is –– volunteer wildlife rehabbers, animal control, fire department, state wildlife rescue, etc; and the solution seems to be that if I want the PB jar off the fox’s head, I need to go do it myself.

      Which I don’t love. I don’t have the appropriate equipment to be messing about w/ wild animals (thick gloves and boots, etc). I have an appt tonight. Not sure if I’ll head over tomorrow to see if I can locate the fox.

      1. WellRed*

        If you do decide to try this, my understanding is to get behind the animal and pop off the jar (skunks excepted of course). I don’t blame you if you don’t want to attempt this but yeah, thick gloves, boots, pants.

        1. fposte*

          I’m seeing a lot of different techniques with raccoons, who seem to be the commonest victims. It may depend on the size of the jar, but a couple of them seem to manage the easier method of getting a grip on the jar rather than the animal and then both human and critter are pulling to get it off.

      2. Sloanicota*

        I don’t think your chances are super good TBH (I can’t imagine you’ll be able to get close enough even if you can find it again), but I’ll tell you that when we had a fox in my neighborhood it was very consistent in its habits: I saw it at the same place at the same time every day for the week or two before it moved on.

    1. WellRed*

      It’s all about the condiments for me! Add some crunch from veggies and a crusty bread.

    2. Jay*

      Cured meat, soft cheese, basil pesto.
      Brush the outsides of thick bread with olive oil and put in your George Forman grill.

      Sliced London broil and Munster cheese with Braswells sirloin sauce. Again, olive oil and George Forman it until golden brown. Sourdough is fantastic for this.

      Both of these can be kicked up a bit by adding a nice big slice of tomato (Beefsteak or an equivalent heirloom variety, if you can get them) pan fried in butter, a big slice of sweet onion fried the same, or a nice Portobello mushroom cap covered in olive oil and grilled on the George Forman as well.

      Needless to say, if you have a better grill to use, that works even better.

    3. sswj*

      – Good sourdough bread, maybe wheat, or an English muffin (pulled apart, not cut)
      – A little bit of butter, unsalted
      – Real peanut butter (Smucker’s All Natural Creamy for me)
      – Bacon

      Cook bacon ’til it’s just barely crisp, not shattering crispy
      Toast the bread of your choice to golden brown
      Lightly butter the toast or muffin, both sides
      Spread the PB generously, both sides
      Top one side with 3 or 4 pieces of bacon (or more if you have big slices of toast)
      Mash the top on, grab several napkins, and enjoy!

      1. Flowers*

        how do you cook the bacon? (Maybe this should be a separate thread ha!)

        I tried my hand at a turkey BLT and I cooked beef bacon in the oven as per the directions; my oven runs hot so I always lower the time and temp. They stll turned into shriveled little chips. Not very appetizing :-(

        1. Jay*

          Try cooking it on a flat griddle and covering it with something. Ideally, you would use one of those handled cast iron weights that everyone thinks is supposed to be used to smash down burgers (but which is absolutely NOT). Or you could use a flat-ish pot lid.
          I doesn’t take much weight to do. Then you fry it like regular bacon. Just be aware that a LOT of fat will render out. Honestly, it makes for fantastic fry-bread if you want to risk the hardened arteries for the side dish.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      If I’m making it at home I keep it real simple – two slices of toasted wheat bread, with a swoosh of mayo, a squiggle of yellow mustard, and about an ounce of sliced deli turkey on each slice, put a slice of sharp cheddar on one stack and flip the other stack over on top of it.

      Or a bacon sandwich – crisp bacon on toast with mayonnaise, nothing else.

      I don’t much like veggies on my sandwiches.

    5. Nack*

      One of my favorites involves leftovers from a local pizzeria… the night before you want the sandwich, order the “meatballs and cheese” dish and use lots of self control to only eat half. The next day, slice the remaining meatballs and reheat along with the sauce and the gobs of mozzarella. When warm, spread the meatball slices in a single layer on a slice of sourdough, top with sauce and mozz. Another slice of sourdough on top, then in the panini press it goes. Toasty bread, stringy cheese, and amazing house made meatballs. So delicious.

      1. Flowers*

        that sounds amazing. unfortunately so many of the pizzerias near me use pork in their meatballs so not something I could try. But if I ever find a sub, I’ll make this!

    6. Girasol*

      Put a nice cheddar in herb bread, butter it on the outside and toast it golden in a covered skillet, then park it next to a bowl of tomato soup.

    7. Tinamedte*

      A particular brand of Finnish rye bread, two pieces, toasted to bring the aroma out but not long enough to make them crispy. Quickly (to preserve the heat from the toaster) put butter, cheese and ham on, plus a generous handful of spinach/similar vegetable, put together and let cheese melt slightly before digging in. Yum. Never gets old, keeps me full ‘til lunchtime.

    8. Flowers*

      A childhood comforting favorite:

      kaiser roll toasted
      iceberg lettuce
      thick slice of tomato that’s as big as the roll
      mayo with salt and pepper
      thin slices of onion
      a plain egg omelette
      american cheese

      something my dad invented. I never knew it wasn’t a common thing until I was much much older.

      Nowadays for me it’s any kind of bread, and all of those items but sliced deli turkey in lieu of the egg. Im not picky about the bread or mayo but the onion, lettuce, and tomato have to be Just Right.

    9. Flowers*

      I found a loaf of bread at my local shoprite called “peasant bread”… t’s fairly crispy and hearty I guess? Can’t wait to make sandwiches out of it

  45. There You Are*

    Based on Miki’s PSA last week, I bought the long-handled, short-handled, and mini of the Uproot Clean pet hair cleaners.

    And I’m happy to say that they work better than anything I’ve tried to date. :-)

    The long-handled one is great for the carpet (that is, unfortunately throughout the house) and for the Ruggable rugs in the kitchen.

    The most successful way of cleaning pet hair off the rugs that I’d found prior to the Uproot Clean was putting on a certain pair of hiking shoes and scraping the soles of the shoes across the rugs. It took forrrrrever to drag one foot across the all the rugs. The long-handled Uproot Clean is way more efficient.

    Thanks for the recommendation, Miki!

    1. Miki*

      Oh, I’m so happy you like it!
      My coworkers received theirs sometime last week and are enjoying the cleaning now :) Many bring their mini ones in their purse/backpack as on the go lint remover.

  46. Suggestions please!*

    Now that summer and hot weather is here I find I don’t have much of an appetite for hot foods. Does anyone have any suggestions for chilled gazpacho-like soups. (My tomato allergies rule out actual gazpacho.) There must be some similar cold soups out there, maybe something with squash?

    1. Pennyworth*

      My mother used to make a chilled zucchini soup. I don’t have the exact recipe but I think it was onions sauteed with a little curry powder, then diced zucchini added with water or stock and when cooked it was cooled, pureed and served with cream swirled through it. It might be nice with yoghurt instead of cream. It could work with squash instead of zucchini.

      1. tab*

        J. Kenji López-Alt posted a zucchini soup on Serious Eats. I made it, and thought it was delicious. I also like chilled avocado yogurt soup and a chilled corn soup. You can find multiple recipes online.

    2. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I love Sara Moulton’s chilled pea soup with mint, curried shrimp and peanuts (recipe available by googling). Also the Green Gazpacho soup with cucumbers (skip the optional tomato garnish) on the website Alexandra Cooks.

    3. Squidhead*

      Riata is a yogurt soup/dip with cucumber and spices. Dahi vadda are lentil dumplings fried and then served in a similar yogurt sauce…I like both in summer if you like Indian flavors.

    4. Fidgeting giraffe*

      Butternut squash soup! Traditionally served here in the Autumn and served warm, but I thin it out a bit with water and drink/eat it chilled in hot weather.

      That’s the only idea I have right now, although the back of my brain is swearing that there should exist something with cucumber or watermelon.

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

      My mom used to buy us canned vichyssoise (cold potato-leek soup) and put a few frozen chives on top. Delicious and refreshing! I’m not sure if the brand is easy to get anymore, though — I haven’t seen a can in ages.

    6. Oysters and Gender Freedoms*

      White gazpacho? Cucumbers, grapes, bread seem to be main ingredients

    7. New Here*

      My all-time favorite is a green gazpacho — Google Yotam Ottolenghi Green Gazpacho. I make it multiple times a season as soon as the basil in my garden gets big enough. The recipe quite forgiving. To reduce the calories (and the cost), I use fewer nuts and oil and more yogurt than is called for.

    8. Suggestions please!*

      Thank you everyone who commented. You’ve provided me with some excellent suggestions.

  47. PhyllisB*

    Okay, I know if any of you are paying attention to my posts, you will think I am being morbid or weird with all the death-related questions I’ve asked in the past month or so, but I have had three friends pass away recently (one only 53.) A couple are terminal, and my mother is battling some serious issues right now, so these things have been on my mind a lot and I’m trying to get my ducks in a row, so my family won’t have as much to sort out.
    I asked a variation of this question not terribly long ago but for the life of me I can’t remember when, but this is a bit different. I promise not to ask this again. (Not saying I won’t ask other questions; y’all give good advice and always give me something to think about.)
    I would prefer someone in the medical field answer this, but if someone has gone through this with their family or just happen to be knowledgeable about this, chime in.
    Okay, here’s my question: I asked before about how to decide between organ donation or donating my body to science. I was talking about this with a relative of mine and she commented that probably no one would want my organs because of my age. She wasn’t being snarky; she was including herself in this statement. We’re both 72. I hadn’t really thought about this, but I was wondering if she was right? The only thing I know about either of these options is they act right away or not at all. So, Should I forget donation and just sign up to donate my body?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Can you do both? Why not donate whatever organs are viable, and then donate the remainder for scientific purposes?

      One thing a friend told me, I don’t know if it’s still true, is that when his relative donated his body to science, the relative’s estate had to pay to preserve and transport the body. So be aware that this might be an issue.

      1. fposte*

        Body donation programs pretty universally forbid post-mortem organ donation except for corneas.

    2. Fidgeting giraffe*

      I am not a doctor. But can you ask your doctor this question? I assume that they won’t know the answer straight off the cuff, but they’ll be more likely to know where to find the answer.

    3. Jerrica*

      There is no age limit on organ donations. I read where a 92-year old was an organ donor. Doctors will decide which, if any, of your organs are suitable to be donated. There may be restrictions due to active cancer, say, or heart disease, but there’s always things like eyes and skin that are also needed. As to being able to donate organs and also leave your body to science, that all depends on where you live. Some places allow it, but the province I live in (in Canada) doesn’t. If you do a whole body donation, they want it intact. So I’m sure there’s probably different rules depending on where you live.

    4. AnonRN*

      I think the place to direct this question would be the place you’d be donating your body for research. My hospital is connected to a medical school and the school has a link on their site for anatomical gifts. So if you wanted to donate to a medical school, call them and ask what the stipulations are for donation. This would include the condition, timing, preservation, and delivery of the body. Ditto if you wanted to donate to, like, the Body Farm.

      Unfortunately (just so you know) there could be circumstances that prevent either of your wishes from being carried out…in my state patients who die as a result of an accident have to be reviewed/maybe autopsied by the medical examiner. So if you wanted to donate but then sadly died after an accident it might not be possible.

      My state does require us to report all deaths to the local organ donation center so they can review the case–they don’t automatically rule out anyone simply for age, but as others said certain medical conditions would disqualify you from donation. But you should also know that the circumstances for donating solid organs (lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas, etc) are very limited because the heart needs to be beating up until the organ is removed. That means these organs mostly come from donors who are brain-dead (head injury, stroke, anoxia) but still have viable organs. It’s a perfect constellation that doesn’t actually happen very often. (Kidneys and liver segments can be donated by living donors too but that’s a separate topic!)

    5. Morning reader*

      As far as I’m aware, your organs (some of them anyway) could be used for transplant if they’re not damaged by whatever kills you. Heart disease and cancer (2 of the top 3 causes of death) would likely make them ineligible, and so would dying somewhere without immediate medical attention. So, you might consider your general health and decide to go with the full body donation because very likely your body would be used. (practice with cadavers at medical school) You probably need to