weekend open thread – June 24-25, 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: By the Book, by Jasmine Guillory. A reimagining of Beauty and the Beast in which a young publishing assistant agrees to help a stand-offish celebrity get his memoir on the page. I am not normally a romance reader but this was fun and charming.

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

{ 1,040 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. Midlife Newbie*

    Per a comment from last week, can people recommend books about Americans living abroad (extra points if it’s set in Ireland) any genre. We’re moving to Ireland in the nearish future and I’d love to read books like that to get me amped.

    Not a book, but I lived in Seoul, South Korea for about half my twenties and I watched Lost in Translation annually (that was set in Tokyo but very relatable).

    1. word nerd*

      I really enjoyed O Come Ye Back to Ireland: Our First Year in County Clare by Niall Williams and Christine Breen, a memoir about the couple’s first year in rural Ireland after moving there from NYC in 1980. If that feels too long ago, they also published a more recent memoir called In Kiltumper: A Year in an Irish Garden in 2021, which provides a more recent update on their lives, but I haven’t read that one myself. Niall Williams is an excellent writer in general, so I can’t help mentioning that I also really enjoyed his novel This is Happiness, set in Ireland, but it’s not about Americans living there. It’s a lovely little ode to Ireland and life in a rural Irish village.

    2. Katy*

      Green Shadows, White Whale by Ray Bradbury – autobiographical novel about living in Ireland while working on the screenplay for Moby Dick.

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

      David Sedaris’s *Me Talk Pretty One Day* has some material on living in France as does Adam Gopnik’s *Paris to the Moon*. Art Buchwald wrote *I’ll Always Have Paris.*

      1. Tiny clay insects*

        The Paris half of Me Talk Pretty One Day is just unbeatable. I recommended it to my father when he was recovering from surgery, and he had to stop reading it because he was laughing so hard it was hurting him.

        1. New Mom*

          So relatable. When I was in England and feeling lonely, I would walk to a pub that was about 25 minutes from my house (even though there were probably 40+ closer pubs) because the staff was so nice there and would actually talk to me.

    4. Helvetica*

      Set in the UK but Bill Bryson’s “Notes from a Small Island” is delightful and he has great observations about the UK, being American himself.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Totally! LOVE Bill Bryson and his warmth and wit. He can write entertainingly about, of all things, his confusion between Polyfilla (UK) and Spackle (US). He feels like a descendant of EB White & Ogden Nash. I have seen him in readings at bookshops and he is warm, funny and a generous and attentive guest.

        If you want a related tangent to living abroad, his book The Mother Tongue deals with American vs. British English, and in parts is so funny that I once got kicked off a subway for laughing so hard at it and startling everyone. I tried to read them a passage to explain my case but couldn’t get the words out. Just took another train.

        1. Jill Swinburne*

          The Polyfilla vs spackle was in Notes From A Big Country (in the US, I’m a Stranger Here Myself) ;-) Both are great, if a bit dated now.

          I’d skip The Road To Little Dribbling – it’s missing the funny tone of his earlier ones and to me came across as ‘old man complaining about how things were better in his day’. (He’s not wrong, but it’s exhausting and sometimes just a bit mean-spirited).

          1. the cat's pajamas*

            Thanks, it’s been a really long time since I read The Road to Little Dribbling though I remember the bit about Bognor Regis being particularly funny.

          2. Nervous Nellie*

            Ah, sure! You are absolutely right. And that is also an ideal expat book. And yeah, I skip Dribbling every time. I always think of it as a really great guy who was having a crabby day when he wrote it.

    5. Fifi*

      I have to mention Italian Neighbours by Tim Parks. He’s English, and writes beautifully about living in Italy. So, not American expats, but so worth a read!

    6. Sparkle Llama*

      I enjoyed the county cork mysteries by Sheila Connolly – it is about a young woman who inherits a bar in Ireland and moves there. They are cozy mysteries so my or may not be your thing, but she put a lot of care into getting the Ireland part right.

    7. ELF Cage*

      Becoming Finola by Suzanne Strempek Shea is a hoot. An American in Ireland working at a tourist craft store and discovering herself. Very fun fiction.

    8. Irish Teacher*

      I don’t think I actually read it, but Maeve Binchy has a book about an Irish and an American woman swapping houses, called Tara Road. Of course, Maeve Binchy is Irish, so how accurate her portrayal of an American’s response to Ireland would be, I don’t know.

      1. Chaordic One*

        I really enjoy her novels in general. I know they get dismissed as being merely “romance novels,” but they are well-written and I think they provide a good feel for what I imagine some of Irish culture is like.

    9. uisce chick*

      This is a charming book, though her experiences aren’t current or usual. Up in the Park: The Diary of the Wife of the American Ambassador to Ireland 1977-1981 Hardcover – January 1, 1983
      by Elizabeth Shannon

    10. n.m.*

      A Wizard Abroad by Diane Duane is a childrens/teens fantasy novel—premise is that an American teen wizard is sent by her non-wizard parents to spend the summer in Ireland with her aunt.

    11. Midlife Newbie*

      This thread did not disappoint. Thank you all so much, I just finished copying this list into a spreadsheet and I’ll start my reading. Have a great week!

  3. Laura H.*

    Little Joys Thread

    What brought you joy this week?

    My plot bunnies are cooperating with me again and had a great lunch with a friend!!

    Please share your joys big or small.

    1. New Mom*

      My toddler saying just hilarious stuff, I try to write it down.

      “Dad your head is moving…. (frowns sternly) I don’t like when your head moves dad!”

    2. OyHiOh*

      Took my kids to a production of Theater For All – a program that produces free traveling family friendly shows. They’re performing an abridged version of Pericles this summer and it was phenomenal. just stunningly well done. We sat on blankets in a park on an absolutely perfect evening, the first nice evening we’ve had in probably a month, and 5 actors ran around a 8 x 8 foot mat playing the show. It was lovely.

    3. RLC*

      First hummingbird of the season zooming around the garden, so tiny and beautiful. Plus two plump toads hopping about in the evenings helping control moths and beetles.

    4. CL*

      My son has made a habit of taking his dishes from the kitchen table and putting them on the counter by the dishwawithout me reminding him. I nearly cried when I saw him do it for the first time.

    5. AGD*

      A neighbor and I are quickly becoming friends and it’s already started meaning a lot to me.

    6. Cat and dog fosterer*

      The ‘feral’ cat caught last week is actually friendly! An orange beauty with deep blue eyes, and her decision to be friendly means that she’ll have a spoiled indoor life. It’s pretty clear that she was a pet then abandoned last year. I’ll bathe her this weekend then wait for a spot in foster care. What luck!

      1. tangerineRose*

        Sounds so beautiful! Also, female orange cats are kind of rare. I googled it and found this:

        This is because the “ginger gene” which produces the orange color is on the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes and so need two copies of this gene to become ginger, whereas males need only one. This means there are roughly three males to one female ginger cat

    7. Past Lurker*

      Surprise visit from a dear friend, and lots of fireflies in the back yard this evening!

    8. Junior Dev*

      I rode my bike to a board game night on Wednesday and it was beautiful out in the evening, I got to see the sun going down right as I was coming home.

    9. Cookies For Breakfast*

      My partner and I greeted the first day of summer with a special dinner in the garden.

      He barbecued ribs, I made paprika oven chips and chocolate mousse. We the last of the white wine that a friend brought over, that even I (not a wine drinker) really like. We were outside until nearly 10pm and it was so warm and bright. It was glorious. Our garden needs a lot of work to look nice, but things like these make it all worthwhile.

    10. Dancing Otter*

      A new bathing suit that fits both halves of me, neither too tight in the hips nor too loose on top. Best of all, I got it online for a quarter the cost of the ones that did *not* fit.

    11. Lady Knittington*

      The most amazing Depeche Mode concert last weekend; seeing The Pet Shop Boys this weekend.

    12. nobadcats*

      My dad was chauffeuring me around on Monday. I had an exam in the hinterlands and then we took a stack of my art to the framer to get them cleaned and reframed.

      It was a beautiful day, Monday. On the way back to my apartment, I faintly heard Queen on the radio, I said, “Dad, if it’s Queen or Stevie Wonder, it must be played at maximum volume. Those are the rules.” He cranked it. Thus, we spent four glorious minutes, windows down, breeze on our faces, sun shining, no traffic on the freeway, and singing along with “You’re My Best Friend.”

      I can’t peg anything more perfect than that.

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

        I agree — there are just some car songs that require cranking up! My recent ones are “Don’t Stop Me Now” and “Everybody’s Working for the Weekend.”

        1. Wired Wolf*

          When “Working for the Weekend” comes on the music rotation at work I have to stop myself from dancing down the aisles…if I’m not encumbered by shopping. Someone (later revealed to be a Father Ted fan) dubbed me the Dancing Shopper.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My best friend is here visiting me for the first time in a couple years. Yesterday we got pedicures and had lunch and ran a bunch of errands, today we’re painting a room (orange!) and grilling :)

    14. But what to call me?*

      I discovered the existence of heat guns!

      It cut ~15-20 hours off of a home renovation project, saved me from a likely case of carpal tunnel syndrome, and was very satisfying to use. I have never been so delighted with a power tool.

    15. RagingADHD*

      We have literal bunnies in our back yard! I have been getting up much earlier for work, and the folks next door who had dogs moved out. A few times this week, I have seen a mama and a baby, just enjoying the wet morning grass. Adorable!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Aww!
        There is a graveyard next to my apartment building and in between, a little tree-filled lump of ground (I say lump because it’s like a tiny hill). We see bunnies hopping around near the parking lot sometimes.

    16. Don'tbeadork*

      My deep red hibiscus suddenly decided to bloom. And the poor desert rose that spent all last summer being run over by construction trucks has burst into bloom despite its rough couple of years.

    17. Breaking Dishes*

      I’m five days into bike riding the Ohio to Erie Trail. Each day is different. I’m enjoying the challenge.

    18. Mimmy*

      Long chat yesterday with a classmate from my last graduate degree. Haven’t spoken with her in a long time. She still hasn’t finished the degree and has been having issues with the program staff. Yet, she is newly married and has a great new job, so hearing her happiness despite the frustrations was a joy for me.

    19. Hotdog not dog*

      My teenager and I went out for breakfast this morning and I got to hear about a whole range of teen drama! I love that he’s comfortable talking to me about pretty much everything.

    20. Sloanicota*

      I didn’t used to be a “buy cut flowers” person, but lately I’ve been indulging because I had some gardening disappointments this year – my peony didn’t bloom again (I think it needs to be moved to a sunnier spot, although it was too hot in it’s first location) and my big hydrangea which is so beautiful didn’t put out blooms this year (needs more fertilizer? More water?) – so I just let myself buy some big bouquets of peonies and hydrangeas, just from the trader joes, and I’ve been loving them so much! Such a bright spot in my day. I keep moving them from room to room just to enjoy them more haha.

      1. nobadcats*

        Y’know what? My former roomie would have cut seasonal flowers sent to herself once a month.

        This is a policy I continued after we separated house. At least once per month, I’ll either buy in person or order flowers for myownself. It’s a great mood lifter, and my cat isn’t one of those munch on any thing green, so it’s safe for her.

        Dooooooooooo it. Dooooo it. Indulge and treat yourself to one tiny thing even if it’s only once a month.

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

          Yeah, the guy from Apartment Therapy recommended regular flower-buying as great self-care via creating a beautiful environment at home!

    21. Federal Worker Drone*

      I got my kitchen decluttered and organized yesterday. It’s a tiny space, but now I’m in no danger of cabinet avalanche. Wheeeeeee!!!!

    22. GoryDetails*

      Little Joys for me include: spotting a wild turkey crossing the road with a handful of teensy baby turkey chicks trotting after her. (Wild turkeys are practically pests in my area these days – I see flocks in people’s lawns, along roadsides, in parks – but it’s rare to see them with young, so I was thrilled.)

      Also: very pleased to see the orioles back at my feeder. I set it up in early May, when the hummingbirds and orioles usually reappear for the season, but while I saw several hummers the orioles took their time to arrive.

        1. RedinSC*

          The family built a nest in our yard but abandoned it. They must have found a better place. I love seeing them.

    23. Birdie*

      I finished the second of two fabric “gates” for my deck so my pooch can hang out without fear of him wandering off. The fabric is bright and cheery and makes me happy. Bonus points for the one that also hides the trash cans.

    24. the cat's ass*

      My German friends’ visit was a great success (including kid’s first bodywork at the spa)!

      We’re going to Pride tomorrow!

      I haven’t killed my tomato plants yet and they have flowers and fruit!

    25. Girasol*

      My highest smoke alarm which needed a new battery. I wrestled the big heavy ladder into the living room and managed to get it up there without winging the ceiling fan, bashing the furniture, or putting a hole in the wall. The old battery didn’t want to come out. The new wouldn’t go in. Finally got it in, a little crooked but the green light came on and there was no beeping. So I wrestled the ladder back outside safely, rehung the picture I’d taken down, and thought “There. Done!” BEEP. BEEP. BEEP. Well, the neighbors once told me that the local fire department does smoke alarm batteries. So I called and they do! Ten beeping minutes later there’s a red fire truck at the curb and a whole fire crew with a better ladder in my living room. No more beeps. What a treat!

      1. Breaking Dishes*

        I’ll need to ask my Fire Department about that. I can’t safely get up on a ladder. My husband used to take care of that (he died in November 2022).

    26. Trixie Belden was my hero*

      Life changing JOY!
      After 2 years of construction I’m finally moved into my retirement home. Organizing an entire house is my “little joy”

    27. GardenGnomic*

      I attended a lecture by a retired Ecology professor, and he just took us out to a meadow, and identified all these various species of plants, some butterflies that were hovering around, talked very knowledgeably about how meadows function as ecosystems.

      It’s an absolute joy to see a subject matter expert in action – just calmly & confidently reading the landscape to us, and there was something so relaxed and self-assured about his delivery, I walked away feeling not only like he had conferred his own expertise onto me, but also that everything was all right with the world, or at least this one corner of it.

      Honestly the most soothing experience I’ve had in a long time, real balm for the soul stuff.
      I think he reminded me a little of my deceased grandfather, but I really felt I would trust that man with just about anything. I aspire to be that guy.

      Has anyone else had this kind of experience?

      1. I take tea*

        I’ve been out picking wild mushrooms with a very knowledgeble guide. It was very nice, I got to try a lot of new sorts that I never would have dared to otherwise. He also threw in trivia about dragonflies and butterflies. It’s fun with people who know stuff, and are able to share it without being condensending.

    28. Colette*

      I flew across the country to mom’s for the first time since 2019, and got to see relatives on both sides of the family. And then I came home where my puppy was waiting for me.

    29. Chaordic One*

      I finally got around to doing some gardening in back yard of the new (to me) house where I’ve lived for almost 2 years now. I was cutting back some bushes against a fence in the back yard and I found a birdbath! It was tipped over on its side and hidden behind the bushes. It’s pretty. I’m not sure if I’m going to use it or not. I kind of worry it might be a place where mosquitos could breed. But it was a delightful surprise.

    30. Chaordic One*

      I finally got around to doing some gardening in the back yard of the (new to me) house where I’ve lived almost 2 years. I was cutting back some bushes against a fence when I discovered a bird bath. It was tipped over and its side and hidden behind the bushes. It’s very pretty, but I’m a little wary of using it as I don’t want it to be a breeding ground for mosquitos. Still, an unexpected surprise.

    31. Trixie*

      I committed to a new apartment in Big City and making plans for the move. Enjoying the remaining time I have in my little rental house and lovely neighborhood.

      Also thinking about the benefits of move to Big City, including closer to family and major hub airport. (Hello, direct flights!) Brain storming ideas around making the cookie-cutter apt more personal, and logistically getting my mind wrapped around 3rd floor apt without an elevator. Free stair climbing. The rent is higher overall but I opted for a slightly large space with space to use for WFH. It was only $100 more for an extra 100 sq ft so a bit of an investment but not permanent and I can reassess when renewal times comes up. The comfort of mind is worth it for now.

    32. Aphrodite*

      I paid my gas bill and (mobile) home registration yesterday. Woohoo! I absolutely love having enough money and savings so I can pay all my bills immediately, literally the day they arrive in the mailbox or my inbox. I’ve been doing this for several years now but now absolutely everything is paid instantly, sometimes within a couple of minutes. It feels so clean and wonderful and freeing; I find immense joy each time I do this as well as each time I put any amount of money into savings.

      I have been binge watching an old Canadian show I stumbled across called Til Debt Do Us Part. Quite interesting. Though I know most of the wisdom Gail brings to it, I do get the occasional surprise–but what I really like is that watching this has brought to my financial life an unmitigated joy about savings that many people get from shopping.

    33. Firebird*

      While passing a food stand called “Boomers” I told my adult son that I couldn’t decide if it was mocking me or not. With a look of surprise, he told me that he and my daughter thought I was GenX.

    34. Elizabeth West*

      We had a fire drill at work the other day, and the building management gave us ice cream afterward in the lobby. I had chocolate with chocolate sprinkles. :D
      I was slammed all day and it was a very nice break.

    35. Callie*

      First garden harvest–Salad Greens! I miss fresh greens for salad sooooo during the winter.

    36. carcinization*

      There’s a Japanese fast food place in a nearby college town that my husband and I had been wanting to try, but usually it’s slammed so we can’t get anywhere near it. But we decided to go yesterday since there aren’t as many students in town during the summer, and were able to have a good meal in a half-empty restaurant.

    37. Dancing sparks joy*

      Midsummer is a big thing here in Finland. The light is incredible, even where it’s not midnight sun, it just sets for a few hours, and it doesn’t get dark, just a bit of twilight around midnight. There’s usually bonfires, music and dancing. Our dance group had a gig, where we showed some easy dances and then the public could join in. And they did! The feeling of dancing with hundreds of people outdoors in the summer twilight was fantastic.

  4. New Mom*

    Any meal recommendations that take less than 30 minutes and are enjoyable for a toddler and parents? My roster is so limited! Toddler really likes pasta, and sometimes likes rice.

    1. Piece*

      “The Best 30 Minute Recipe” by Cooks Illustrated is probably the most used cookbook I’ve ever bought. On copy 2 as the first one wore out.

    2. Rebecca*

      spaghetti bolognese was always a winner for us.
      I use all my soft, sad, end-of week veges on a Saturday or Sunday to make a homemade tomato and vege pasta sauce, and that serves us well.
      Works great as pizza sauce, too.
      Macaroni cheese with ham/salami/bacon and peas is always a favorite too, along with stir frys. When my kids were small, I’d take a portion out for them before I added the sauce.
      Another thing I used to find helpful was the nights I did have a bit more time to cook, I’d make a double batch and freeze half in individual portions. Worked great for those busier nights and people could have what they wanted.
      A slow cooker was also my friend…casserole, curry, soup etc on cooking all day and ready when I got home.

    3. ThatGirl*

      Homemade pizza? Get premade dough and slap whatever toppings make you happy on – can even do one little section just for kiddo.

      1. DannyG*

        Flour tortilla, thin smear of tomato paste, dash of Italian seasoning, add toppings & cheese. Broil for 5-10 minutes depending on the oven. Great personal pizza.

    4. Friyay*

      Hamburger elbow macaroni in one skillet. Onions optional. Add spicy chopped tomatoes like Rotel, or tone it down with diced tomatoes or tomato sauce. Once done add cup cheddar cheese and let melt. Gooey goodness. Could also add black or chili beans and chili powder. Or taco powder. Basically hamburger helper without all the sodium and additives.

      1. Alex*

        The website “Divas Can Cook” has a yummy recipe for homemade hamburger helper that is fast and easy (and good!). I don’t put the link here due to the filters but I’m sure you can find it.

      2. Rough Night*

        I grew up on something similar. 1lb ground beef (or sausage. I like Bob Evans hot). 2 large cans of condensed tomato soup. 1/2-1lb elbow noodles depending on your preference for meat to noodle ratio. And 2 cans worth of milk or water (I usually use one of each).

        Brown beef/sausage. Season (garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, whatever floats your boat.) Add soup and water/milk. Bring to a bubble. Add pasta. Cook covered for a more soup consistency. uncovered for a more casserole feel, if that makes sense. I usually meal prep this so I undercook my noodles a bit otherwise they get mushy.

        I like using spicy sausage and adding more red pepper flakes then topping with shredded mozzarella when reheating. Quick and easy and filling.

    5. OyHiOh*

      Cheese quesadillas are always popular with my crew. Tortilla, cheese, maybe some cooked chicken when I have some leftover. Rice and beans, salad for sides.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        These are really good and easy and you can put whatever you want inside. I make these all the time. I like to keep some of that chipotle sauce around so they taste like Taco Bell’s quesadillas. :)

    6. MP*

      Ooh I have one! It is my red pepper sauce, I need to come up with a better name. Cut up 4 red bell peppers and roast at 425 for 30 mins. Put in a blender with butter (like a tbsp), garlic, parm, salt, pepper and a big spoonful of pesto (optional but encouraged), and then add milk of choice and veg stock until the sauce is a good consistency. I use mostly milk then some veg stock. Measuring clearly isn’t my strong suit lol. Then toss with pasta. We are parents and a toddler and we always have a little sauce leftover I can eat another day that week for lunch or something.

      1. MP*

        Also, I’ve been adding chicken sausage to my husband’s recently (I’m vegetarian) but it would be good with regular chicken too I bet.

      2. slowingaging*

        Yum. I will try this. I also have issues with measuring and using the same ingredients. I kinda sorta follow.

    7. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Easy vegetable fried rice with frozen mixed vegs – I look for Asian or Mexican blends but whatever is available. I highly recommend cutting up the larger pieces of frozen veg before you start or they will take way too long to cook while everything else overcooks.

      Ahead of time, cook a batch of rice — it keeps well and is generally handy to have in the fridge. You need a big skillet, preferably non-stick or cast iron. It’s nice to start by sauteing a chopped onion, but if that’s not going to happen, just heat up some oil in the skillet and add the still-frozen mixed vegetables. Saute maybe 5 minutes until mostly cooked, then stir in the cold rice and let it heat up (it wants to stick, so stir with a straight-edge spatula).

      Clear a space in the middle of the skillet, add a bit more oil and break in an egg – stir it through the rice and vegs. Add sesame oil, soy sauce, maybe chopped peanuts if toddler can handle that (or have them on the side for the adults), and you’re done. You could sprinkle on some cilantro leaves if you have it and also have the bandwidth.

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

      Maybe a make-your-own burrito night? Get some nice pre-made tortillas you can nuke very briefly, canned pinto and/or black beans, a jar of salsa of your desired level of spiciness (or lack thereof), container of sour cream, pre-made or fresh guacamole (depending on whether you have strength to make guac), some shredded cheese, and some pre-packaged shredded lettuce, and make some rice (or nuke some pre-cooked rice). Put it all out on the table and help your toddler assemble with the toppings they want.

    9. Junior Dev*

      There’s a lot of stuff that you can make with the rice cooker that is more interesting than plain rice.

      Spanish/Mexican rice: cup of white rice, can of tomatoes or tomatoes with chilis, tomato can of water or stock.

      Mushroom “risotto”: cup of rice, can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 2 cans of water, and add some frozen peas at the halfway point.

      You can cook some brown rice, cooked chicken, and broccoli, with half stock half milk for the liquid, and stir in some shredded cheddar cheese to melt after the cooking is done.

    10. Old Plant Woman*

      Breakfast for dinner. Like bacon and pancakes and fruit. Grilled sandwiches. Fish or fish sticks and potatoes, fries or tater tots or boiled, canned corn , baked beans on the side. Pasta with cheese, cream soup, left over or canned chicken or sausage or shrimp and veggies.

    11. Pop*

      Pinch of Yum has a series called SOS that are simple recipes designed to get dinner on the table quickly. She has two littles and so many are family friendly. I will say some of them are only easy if you’re comfy with cooking (like one has you fry tortillas to make your own tostadas) but the majority are extremely approachable.

    12. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I made pasta with avocado pesto for my best friend and her toddler and it was a hit.

      All the hands-on work goes into the pesto, which you make by blending everything in a food processor until smooth and creamy: 1 avocado; around 20-30g pine nuts (toast them beforehand if you have time); 5 basil leaves; 1 garlic clove; olive oil, salt, and lemon juice to taste.

      This is to feed 2-3 people, and you can scale up as you need. Just mix the pesto with your pasta when it’s cooked, and you’re good to go.

    13. Stephanie*

      A couple of my favorite, quick and easy recipes:
      Pasta with Breadcrumbs (It’s WAY better than the sum of it’s parts!)
      You’ll need to grind up some bread–preferably whole wheat or a crustier, heartier kind of bread like a bakery Italian loaf or French bread. Tear a slice or two into pieces, then use a blender or food processor to grind into large, coarse crumbs. I stash the ends of loaves in the freezer and do a whole bunch at a time, and then keep the crumbs in the freezer. It cuts down on the prep time.
      Now, for the recipe:
      8 ounces of short pasta (we like cavatappi or rotini, but use what you like)
      2 tablespoons butter
      2 teaspoons olive oil
      3 cloves fresh garlic, minced, or 1 heaping tablespoon bottled minced garlic
      1 cup coarse soft breadcrumbs
      1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning, or oregano or basil
      1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
      1/3 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese*

      Cook the pasta according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat (a large, deep skillet with straight sides works well here). Add 1 teaspoon of the olive oil and the garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Then add the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning and salt and stir to coat the crumbs with the butter mixture. Cook stirring frequently, until the crumbs are crisp and golden brown, 6-10 minutes. Each time after stirring, shake the skillet to distribute the crumbs evenly over the bottom. Remove the skillet from the heat and set it aside until ready to serve.
      Drain the pasta and pour it into a serving bowl. Drizzle the remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil over the pasta. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss well. Just before serving, add the bread crumbs and toss well.
      * I have made it with both the canned, Kraft grated Parmesan and Parmesan that we grate from a block of cheese. Either one works, and when my kids were little, it was easy to keep a can of the Kraft stuff in the pantry.

      Another fave is Smitten Kitchen’s Crispy Tortellini with Peas and Prosciutto. Super easy, super quick, and delicious!
      Smitten Kitchen is a great resource for easy, delicious recipes. She has a lot of kid-friendly recipes, too.

    14. Pinkbasil*

      My kids love baked chicken breasts rolled in rice krispies, rice, and broccoli. All pretty simple. The rice krispie topping is about two cups of lightly crushed rice krispies for four chicken breast quarters, 2 T of flour, salt, and about a teaspoon of thyme. Dip the breasts in butter, roll in the rice krispie mixture, put a dab of butter on top of each piece of chicken, then bake at 400 until done, about half an hour or so.

    15. JSPA*

      1. Start water for rice noodles or pasta.

      2. Concurrently cut up (5‐8 minutes) then flash fry (2-3 minutes) in a high temperature oil in a pre-heated frying pan or wok: chinese cabbage±broccoli florets ±sliced red peppers ± snow peas±finely-sliced carrots.

      3. Toss pasta in water.
      4. concurrently turn down and cover fry pan or wok (add cut up tofu if you like).

      5. in a microwavable cup, mix sauce of two to four heaped tablespoons of peanut butter + rice or cider vinegar (as sour as toddler will tolerate)+ tsp or two of sugar (if using unsweetened peanut butter)+salt or fish sauce (nuoc mam or a veg alternative)±toasted sesame oil±some coconut milk or cream ±smoky paprika plus a little of the noodle cooking water. Zap for a minute while you drain pasta.

      Toss all ingredients together (add supermarket roast chicken bits if desired). Let sit a minute or two, if there’s still time on the clock.

      Serve with a sweet chili or hot-fish-sauce chili sauce or chinese pepper-flake oil for the adults and some lime wedges (or not).

      There’s nothing authentic here–pure fusion–so you can absolutely add or subtract what your family likes.

      For adults I’d stir in a variety of spices to the sauce before zapping it (nutmeg,±corriander seed,±galangal etc) and include fresh ginger and fresh garlic and onions or leeks in the veggies, but those can be too challenging for kids, and they add disproportionately to prep time.

    16. Colette*

      I’ve been into rice bowls lately – rice, protein, veggies, sauce, and everyone assembles their own – so you can make your toddler’s heavy on stuff she likes with a couple of new things to try.

      If it can take longer than 30 minutes (but less than 30 minutes prep time), cook 2 cups of dried macaroni. Put half of the cooked pasta in the bottom of a 8×8 pan, layer cheese (medium cheddar works well), add the rest of the pasta and another layer of cheese, then pour milk in the pan until it’s almost at the top of the pasta. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. If you want, you can mix bread crumbs into a little melted butter and sprinkle them on top before baking.

    17. Janeric*

      I got this tip from an Ask A Manager commenter, actually — instant pot risotto. Easy! Fast! You can put a LOT of mushrooms into it!

    18. Fellow Traveller*

      The podcast Didn’t I just Feed You? Just did an episode on easy 5 ingredient dinners! I get lots of good ideas, even though their recipes are meat heavy and we don’t eat a lot of meat.

    19. Breakfast for dinner rocks!*

      in Aust, my family calls it “grilled sweetcorn and cheese on toast”
      based on the US cooking shows I’ve seen, I think the equivilant would be slathering creamed corn on toast, cover with grated or slice cheddar cheese, under a broiler (?) till cheese is as melted or brown or crispy as preferred.
      Make sure it cools before first bite!
      pickled chillies can be added to the grown ups

  5. WellRed*

    Sloppy joes or tacos? Can you give the toddler cut up veggies with dip to appease them while you cook? (If that’s why you need 30 minutes or less). Quesadillas? Super easy in a pan. Pizza made with boboli or naan bread, sauce, cheese, toppings.

    1. New Mom*

      30 minutes just because I’m sooooo tired these days and work until 5, pick up the kids and then they need to eat, bathe and get ready for bed by 7/7:30 so I’m racing the clock.

      1. Jen in Oregon*

        For super quick tacos, mix up a bagged salad with a Southwestern theme, then add protein. (I realize that might not work if your kids are fussy eaters) Our favorite version comes from Trader Joe’s: corn and wheat tortillas, Eloti salad, tilapia (freezer section) seasoned with Everything But the Eloti seasoning blend, cooked in a little oil and a squeeze of lime juice). Add a bit of sour cream and some chipotle sauce to the tortilla, then add the fish, a bit of salad, and some shredded cheese if desired. You have to remember to thaw the fish, but otherwise this takes only a few minutes to rlthrow together.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          30 minutes or less prep time but I like slow cooker meals, you can make ahead and freeze the leftovers, good luck!

      2. Observer*

        Are you comfortable leaving something like a slow cookers or crockpot on while you are out of the house? That expands your options and cuts down the stress considerably.

      3. DannyG*

        Tuna casserole: my late wife’s favorite easy meal: egg noodles, frozen peas, frozen onions, tuna, cheese of choice. Can be microwaved or baked in the oven. Bonus is you can have mixed and ready to cook in the fridge ahead of time. Just toss in and heat while doing other things.

  6. Newbie New-Bi*

    Best dating apps for women who want to date women?

    Metrics:
    – Cis, trans, or nonbinary are all cool
    – I’d like to be able to filter out results for those not willing to date bi women (no judgment, but better to be upfront)
    – Optional: I’d like to be able to sort for butch / andro presentation

    I downloaded HER, I like the concept. I paid the $15 a month because I believe in always paying for things I use… but got frustrated because at every turn they try to shake you down for cash. (Oh that’s an extra $15/month to see people you “liked”, even though that’s the most basic feature feature; if want to actually see a bunch of people we’ll charge $3 every HOUR) I plan to cancel HER.

    So what dating apps do you use if you are a lesbian / bi / pan woman?

    1. Courageous cat*

      Man, I don’t know, but good luck. From my experience it is a real struggle trying to find women on dating apps for some reason. I’ve had the best luck with Hinge but that’s not saying much

      1. Junior Dev*

        I have not found Lex to be good in the last couple years. It was better when it first started.

        Problems I’ve noticed:

        * lack of moderation keeping it on-topic for dating or meeting friends means a lot of people just use it as a personal blog or place to post rants/opinions
        * the non-visual nature of it tends to attract people who are insecure about their appearance in some way—which, a lot of people are, but I think that it filters for people with some pretty intense neuroses in my experience
        * general high levels of Queer Drama one would associate with Tumblr/certain corners of Twitter and Instagram

        It could just be the culture in my city, but it feels more like a place for unhappy people to go and rant than it does for people to meet nowadays.

    2. funkytown*

      Met my girlfriend on regular old tinder! Any of the apps that you use to meet men will also have gay women- the pool is smaller regardless especially when your type is niche, and you’ll run out of swipes no matter the app unless you’re in a huge metro area, but just keep trying and take breaks when you’re not having fun. OkCupid was better a few years ago and has more filter options that might be helpful, but I don’t think either of those two requests you are looking for exist anywhere. You just gotta click the profiles you dig, use your best guess at who you will vibe with and see what you see. I highly recommend not chatting for more than a few days before moving to a coffee or irl meet of your choice, but that’s a personal preference to not sit on apps forever when i’m trying to actually meet new people. Good luck!

      1. Newbie New-Bi*

        Thanks. I have used OKCupid successfully for dating men, awhile back, but wasn’t sure how it was for dating women.

        I’ve never tried Tindr but will check it out.

        Honestly I find the swiping interface kind of stressful. It feels like judging someone’s whole self in a matter of seconds, based mostly on photos. I dig subtle character traits as much as physical features.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I don’t have any advice (because I’m married and monogamous) but as a fellow bi lady, I just wanted to let you know I dig your comment about subtle character traits and also empathize with the struggle! The idea of dating sounds overwhelming to me and I wish you all the best in finding someone you vibe with.

      2. RetailEscapee*

        I too met my partner on Tindr, but there was a lot of BS too. Soooooo many couples.

    3. just another queer reader*

      Dating is hard and doubly so as a queer woman!

      I met my girlfriend on tinder (although it was really more of a re-connection; we’d known each other earlier.)

      If the apps aren’t working out for you, I’d also recommend the good old friends-of-friends or “show up/ volunteer for a recurring local event with queer vibes and see if you vibe with anyone” approach.

    4. Mac (I Wish All The Floors Were Lava)*

      I can’t speak to any current dating apps, but Autostraddle did a series fairly recently where they tested and reviewed a bunch of different ones. I feel like the conclusion they came to was a little bit along the lines of “they’re all bad, but in different ways”, but I still thought it was a useful read.

  7. Filosofickle*

    How do you share creative photos today? Are there alternatives to Instagram?

    I’m a shutterbug — art, flowers, and architecture mainly — and I’d like to find a community of photo people. That used to be Insta (and Flickr before that) and I still use it but my engagement has gone from low to nil. It makes me sad to put things out there and get crickets! I suspect a number of factors — the almighty algorithm, the platform shift from photos to reels, and my people leaving social media. My goal has never been to build a big following or a create a channel…I just want a casual forum or community where I can share art and interact. Or maybe that’s not possible. Reddit doesn’t look useful, but Facebook has some potential groups. Other ideas?

    1. Pippa K*

      I’d like to see what people suggest for this, too! I’ve still got my longtime Flickr account, but at this point it’s more a personal archive than an active sharing venue. It would be nice to have something that does all that Flickr used to do so well before communities shifted elsewhere.

    2. ECHM*

      if you get enough interest here in that type of a Facebook group, could you set one up and invite respondents to join?

    3. ghost_cat*

      Check out Unsplash – it ticks some of your boxes. I post mostly my travel stuff, but lots of creative stuff on there. One of my photos got picked up to promote a museum exhibition, which I was pretty chuffed about.

    4. Tigress In Tech*

      PixelFed has a fair number of photography nerds – it’s has a low number of users but feeds are all chronological, no ads, and I somehow managed to build up a small following by posting a few random pics… I don’t even know anyone in person who uses PixelFed so that was all organic engagement.

  8. Old Plant Woman*

    People who like to gamble. Would you explain the attraction of slots? What makes them entertaining? When my husband and I go to a casino, we take a little cash, split it up. I’ll play for a few minutes, cash out, get an espresso, put a shot of Yukon Jack on it, go look at all the pretty lights. Couple hours later I find him on the same machine. We both had fun. He knows I like to wander, watch people, enjoy noise and crowds. But I don’t get slots

    1. Deuce of Gears*

      I’m not a gambler, but if you want an interesting but also depressing study of how slots are designed to foster addiction/be alluring, Natasha Dow Schüll’s Addiction by Design. (Pricey/academic, ILL may be your best bet if you have access.) Caveat that Schüll is very confused about RNGs vs. pseudorandomness (or how either works), but her explanation of the psychology is dead-on. I’ll drop some links with excerpts in a reply to this.

      1. Old Plant Woman*

        Thanks. I’ll check out the link. I remember a woman sitting on a bench outside a casino. Her posture and the look on her face was something I would expect to see outside an Emergency Room.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      I just realized I might be setting up a gambling as addiction conversation. Not what I intended.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Enjoying something in moderation that some people become addicted to is common though, like alcohol or shopping or eating. The same dopamine related reasons we enjoy things are the same as the reasons some people become addicted. The difference is when some people’s brain chemistry is such that they need that particular dopamine hit so much they can’t control it. I gave up alcohol for health reasons recently and although I always enjoyed alcohol, it was easy to give up and I don’t miss it at all. It’s been eye opening how threatened some people in my world have become because I am able to do this.

    3. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Yeah, I don’t get it.
      I played slots once.
      I do not see the appeal, at all

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

      Years ago, I bought a casino slot machine that accepts quarters. Everybody loves playing the machine with my never ending quarters. I could sit for an hour feeding it and hoping for a jackpot.

      I go to a real casino and lose $5 on slots and I’m done.

      I used to love taking $100 and play $2 blackjack all night, but those days are long gone.

    5. Retired Accountant*

      Because the next pull can be the jackpot, and there are enough small hits to keep you going. Because they’re colorful and make fun noises. And they bring you free drinks.

      I set a limit and stick to it; losing is not fun. But I usually have fun.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I agree with all of this. I went on a solo business trip to Vegas once and played Princess Bride slots for about an hour– started with 10 bucks, stopped when I was down to 47 cents. Plus I enjoyed two free margaritas.

        It’s not something I do on a regular basis nor something I seek out, but it’s a fun way to pass the time.

    6. CityMouse*

      Radiolab did a story about this called “Seeking Patterns”. Basically people are chasing a dopamine hit they got from the first time they won.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Erratic re-enforcement. Which is much more powerful than predictable re-enforcement. The dopamine peaks before you know if the thing that might pay off will pay off–it’s a big spike for ‘maybe?’ followed by a tiny spike for ‘yes.’ (I believe I read this in Sapolsky’s Behave and it perfectly described my dog and how he behaved when he thought he had done a good thing that might bring a reward.

      Personal example: The pizza place near our uncle’s that has a grabber claw candy machine. Guaranteed payout. Put a bowl of mini candies next to the register and you can choose two for a quarter? Not exciting, even if you had higher quality candy. But add the uncertainty of whether you would get the piece you were aiming at, or might get three, or might get only one? Suddenly that grabber claw becomes a gripping narrative.

      Slots per se don’t draw me in, but I recognize the dynamic from that grabber claw, and from my dear excited dog.

    8. Hatch Chiles*

      Some of them have Bonus Games, ooo aah! I give myself a limit, either dollar wise (usually $100) or spin wise (20) and move on. I’ve always had a fun time whether I win or lose, but if I ever get to the point I feel I’m just chasing something, it’s over.

    9. Jessica*

      Dan Savage’s Skipping toward Gomorrah actually gave me new insight into gambling and its appeal. The book is themed around the seven deadly sins, and was of uneven quality, but I felt like I learned something worthwhile from both Greed and Lust (which was about swingers).

    10. Squidhead*

      I once read a description of the appeal of slot machines that basically said it was “that weightless moment when all the tumblers are still turning and it feels like anything could happen”…that feeling is what keeps people pulling the lever. (I can’t remember who wrote this description to give them proper credit, unfortunately.)

  9. changing my WaPo email*

    This seems like it should be simple but I can’t make it happen: I subscribe to WaPo and I want to change the email that’s associated with my account, but I can’t figure out how to do it. I tried their “contact us” page but none of their limited set of topic descriptions fit this situation and you can’t ad lib.

    I’ve been a WaPo subscriber for a long time and don’t want to lose my commenting history, so I don’t want to drop the sub and restart a new one, but I really want to change the email….

    1. Not A Manager*

      Try this: Click on your user name in the top right corner. When the menu opens, click on “account settings.” The next page should open with a menu at the top, and the first option already selected (on my screen it’s underlined). That should be “profile.” If you’re not on the “profile” tab, click on it. The first box immediately under the “profile” heading should be the email box. Click on the link at the far right that says “edit.”

      Username > account settings > profile > email > edit

    2. rr*

      I don’t know if changing your email will lose you your commenting history, but I think this is how you can change your email there.
      1. Sign in as usual
      2.use the drop down menu under your name to go to “account settings
      3. Go to profile, and you should see your email, with an option to edit
      4. Try editing your email

      I haven’t done the last step, because I want the email I have to remain, but maybe this will help. I wouldn’t think it would erase your comment, but I don’t really know.

    3. changing my WaPo email*

      Today, after reading these 2 helpful posts, when I tried to change the current email (Email A) to Email B, I got the message “That email address is already associated with another account.”

      Oh that’s right, Email B was my WaPo account email in the olden days before the paywall. When I started paying I used Email A. So yes, there’s a dormant account under my email B. Any suggestions on how I can get WaPo to eliminate that dormant account? The problem is in trying to get in touch with a human being that I could explain this to.

    4. changing my WaPo email*

      Thank you, both. I thought I had replied but don’t see it, so I’ll condense it to this: Is there a way to contact a human being at WaPo who could help me with this, as it’s more complicated than I remembered and than my query indicates.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Try contacting them — helpcenter dot washingtonpost dot com. There’s a link for managing a subscription.

        This worked for me when I wanted to change my username on the Boston Globe website.

        1. changing my WaPo email*

          Thank you for this very useful response. I got on that page and submitted a message. That page also displays a phone # that I’ll call if they don’t respond (or not helpfully) to my message. So I have hope!

  10. word nerd*

    Reading thread! Any books you want to talk about or recommend? What have you been reading lately?

    I feel like I’m finally mixing in some other genres after being on a fantasy binge, and I’m looking forward to reading some nonfiction in my Libby queue. Although I must say I really liked A Natural History of Dragons, which has come up a lot here, and She Who Became the Sun, whose sequel I eagerly await.

    Today I read Once Upon a Prime, about the connections between math and literature. I’m never sure how much books like that appeal to a wider audience (see Index, A History of the, which I loved), but I found it a light and fun read!

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

      Still slogging through *Life of Johnson* and also doing a deep dive into the endnotes of *A Secret History of Wonder Woman.*

    2. Jay*

      I’m reading a bunch of Patrick McManus short story collections, a favorite story or two from each to start. I’ve had them all, some since I was a kid, and have read a few of them to literal pieces. I’ve got them on Kindle now and am enjoying just skipping back and forth.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Thanks for the reminder!! I read some of Patrick McManus’ work years ago and loved it. Will have to seek him again.
        If you like him, you might also like Bill Bryson. I loved I’m a Stranger Here Myself.

          1. PhyllisB*

            In the thread about asking about books on Americans living overseas there are several mentions of Bill Bryson. (I didn’t read that thread until just now.) There are some titles you might want to look for.

    3. Junior Dev*

      I have loved the Steerswoman series. If you like fantasy I think you would like it (but it is not your average/standard fantasy). I will give you the advice I got when I heard of it: don’t look up anything about it whatsoever, go in completely unspoiled with no external information at all.

    4. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Finished and loved Wolf Hall, and now just started Bringing Up the Bodies.

      THANK YOU to the commenter who gave me the heads up that “he”=Cromwell. You saved me much confusion and frustration from page 1!

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

        Yay, so glad you liked it! Hope you enjoy *Bring Up the Bodies* just as much. : )

      2. Frank Doyle*

        Re: “he” — omg, right?? It is such a confusing thing that she is doing and it took me a while to figure it out and I am still unsure as to its purpose. Also I didn’t understand why it wasn’t mentioned in EVERY review of the book, it is so unusual and disconcerting!

        (That said, I did devour the book and its sequel.)

        1. Flames on the Side of My Face*

          I had a theory: the narration is an extremely close third person, with asides that stray into first person, so to use “Cromwell” would have implied the character referred to himself that way in his thoughts. “Thomas” was the name of a zillion other characters and would have caused its own confusion (and how often do we think about our own name anyway)

          I don’t think it works in execution (pardon the pun), but that was my guess into the “why.”

          I devoured the book anyway.

    5. SparklingBlue*

      I found The Letter for the King (and its sequel) at my local library, so I plan to start reading over the weekend.

    6. iNot*

      I’m usually on a fantasy binge with my reading too. I just picked up Dear Miss Metropolitan by Carolyn Ferrell, Call and Response by Gothataone Moeng and Our Gen by Diane McKinney-Whetstone to change things up a bit.

      1. Jamie Starr*

        I’m reading Dear Miss Metropolitan right now. I have maybe 40 pages left… I’m not liking it. I’m hoping that the last 40 pages will provide more information, but one of my main problems is that “Miss Metropolitan” as a character is barely present. The other problem I have it that I really dislike the writing style.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m reading Empire of Pain, and all I can say without turning this comment into a dissertation is I love Patrick Radden Keefe’s writing. I was worried the subject matter would feel inaccessible to me. Not at all – I’m finding it easy to follow, and very compelling.

      I want to read every book he has published (already done with Rogues, which I also loved). The outlines of Say Nothing, Snakehead, and Chatter sound right up my street too.

    8. Charlotte Lucas*

      Recently started reading the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy L. Sayers. I’ve read a lot of Christie & thought I should branch out to read more of the great women from the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Sayers and the “Lord Peter” books and stories: I adore them and re-read them often! (For more on Sayers, Mo Moulton’s book “Mutual Admiration Society” is about her group of friends from their college days and on into later life; she actually co-wrote one of the Wimsey books as a play with some of those friends, turning it into a novel as she went. I was pleased to learn more about the people she thanked in her acknowledgements in that book.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I just love Gaudy Night: I’ve probably read it ten times. It’s one of those books where I have multiple bookmarks at all my favorite parts.

      2. CityMouse*

        My personal favorite is Murder Must Advertise, though it requires some knowledge of the characters, so I wouldn’t read it first.

      3. RW*

        I’ve been reading these too! Love some of them, find others a bit long-winded – my favourite as a mystery so far is Strong Poison (Gaudy Night is famed as her best but I didn’t find the mystery as compelling! Some fun relationship stuff though)

    9. Tiny clay insects*

      I just finished India Gray, a collection of short stories by Sujata Massey (author the Perveen Mistry mysteries–and in fact one of the short stories is where the character of Perveen got her start). Now I’m starting The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai.

    10. Irish Teacher*

      I read three of the Wayward Children series, after Alison’s recommendation last week – Every Heart a Doorway, Under a Sugar Sky and Come Tumbling Down.

      The fact that I read three in a row is indicative that I was somewhat impressed. I do wish there was more about the school though.

    11. Atheist Nun*

      I liked Index, A History of the, as well (but I am a librarian so classification/categorization interests me). Have you read A Place for Everything: The Curious History of Alphabetical Order by Judith Flanders? It might be a nice complement to Dennis Duncan’s book.

      Currently I am reading The Master and Margarita, and it is quite pleasantly bonkers. One of my extended family members told me once that it is her favorite book (she grew up in Kazakhstan and, I assume, read it in Russian when she lived there), and I am finding that I now understand her sense of humor.

      1. word nerd*

        I will check out the alphabet book, thanks. Looks right up my alley!

        I feel like I really should read The Master and Margarita one of these days since I occasionally run into references to it…

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        I read The Master & Margarita in college and it made permanently suspicious of black cats. I fully expect them to start talking now.

        1. Atheist Nun*

          I will have to ask my Kazakh relative about that! She told me how her family had a black cat when she was a kid, and she loved her very much. I had a black cat who was 110% evil and whom I could imagine being Satan’s handmaiden–I loved her 110% though!

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        The Master and Margarita is so great! I actually saw it performed as a play before I’d ever heard of the book and it was AMAZING.

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been rereading Brian Herbert’s Dune prequels (maybe in prep for the second half of the movie this fall? I don’t actually know what prompted it) and really enjoying them as usual. So much more readable than the originals.

      My TBR list also includes a reread of the Meg series by Steve Alten (to remind myself just how little the books seem to have in common with the movies, because that one is also coming out soon and I do enjoy watching Jason Statham punch prehistoric sharks) and a big pile of nonfiction that I’ve been saving for my impending vacation, for which I leave on Thursday :)

    13. CityMouse*

      I read The Witch King by Martha Wells. I love Murderbot but this one fell flat for me. It was just too long, the magic system was too convoluted, and the main character just felt flat to me.

      1. never not reading*

        Oh, me too! I love Murderbot and the Raksura series, but this one was too much going on all at once, too many characters and races I had trouble keeping track of, too confusing for me. And I won a copy on Goodreads, so I feel awful about not reviewing it, but I don’t want to put up a bad review…I like to build up, not punch down if I’m going to rate things. It’s difficult.

      2. MaxKitty*

        Same here! I love Murderbot, but I stopped reading The Witch King after about 30 pages. I just couldn’t get into it at all.

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          Wow, it’s not just me then… I was not expecting Murderbot but it’s been really hard to get into. I have the audiobook from the library. I’m not a huge fantasy reader and it’s hard to follow. My SO read it already and told me keeping track of every single character isn’t
          important, so I’m glad I stopped worrying about that. It’s interesting and ok so far but just ok. I’m debating putting it aside and maybe trying again in the winter when I’m more in fantasy mode.

          The lines that are good are soo good though like “drinking tea from the skulls of their most beloved ancestors…” The little bits where it sounds more like Martha Wells.

    14. The Coolest Clown Around*

      I just finished *The Lies of Locke Lamora*, which was a very fun book in the classic fantasy thief genre, and *Honey Girl*, which was an awesome book about defining yourself for yourself. I’m not generally a romance reader but I’ve been trying to branch out and *Honey Girl* really did a number on my heart.

    15. Seltaeb*

      I’m in the middle of Once Upon a Prime. It’s already made me intrigued about several books that I would never have thought about reading, and I’ve added them to my holds list on Libby.

      1. word nerd*

        I know, right? I +1 her recommendation of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage!

    16. PhyllisB*

      For anyone who likes Agatha Christie: you must seek out Marple: Twelve Short Stories. It’s a collection of stories written by present day mystery/thriller authors. Ruth Ware and Lucy Foley are two of them.
      They all nailed it. If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought Dame Agatha wrote them herself.

      1. allathian*

        That sounds like something right up my alley. I’ve read a couple Poirot mysteries by Sophie Hannah (Closed Casket & The Monogram Murders) but found them disappointing. Poirot seemed too contemporary in them.

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      Persepolis Rising, which is book 7 in The Expanse series and takes up where the TV adaptation of the first six (which was excellent) breaks off. There’s a 30 year time jump. Enjoyable to settle in with the old beloved characters again, and I really enjoy including the military governor as a narrator–initially you think “This is the decent person who’s going to step up and turn the tide later” and that’s not where the character is going at all.

      Highlight, from page 141, an important meeting full of important people:
      Very important person: “Ma’am, please, you can’t–”
      New voice: “Give it a fucking rest. I can do whatever the fuck I want. Who’s going to tell me not to? You?”

      Fans of the series know who just showed up.

      (My favorite characters on the show were Amos, Bobbie, Camina, and somehow Clarissa snuck in there, and they’re all well represented in this book, which his nice.)

      1. CityMouse*

        I read the whole series. Book 4, I struggled with a bit, but on the whole I would recommend it.

    18. GoryDetails*

      Once Upon a Prime sounds like something I’d enjoy!

      My current/recent reading includes:

      A Summer of Hummingbirds by Christopher Benfey, with the subtitle “Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain , Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Martin Johnson Heade” – how could I resist? Turns out there are even more connected artists and authors than listed in that subtitle, too, as the literati of the mid-to-late 1800s all seem to have moved in intersecting circles.

      Sins of the Black Flamingo by Andrew Wheeler, a graphic novel about a dashing gay thief who tends to deal in supernatural artifacts – and to get into trouble.

      Carrying-around book:

      Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce, the follow-on to “Dear Mrs. Bird,” about a young woman’s experiences writing for a woman’s magazine during WWII.

      And on audiobook:

      The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by KJ Charles, narrated by Martyn Swain; it’s one of Charles’ historical romances, this one featuring a newly-fledged baronet (who was reared as something of a neglected orphan) and a rough, tough, very able smuggler. The story features their initial attraction, the events that pulled them apart, the coincidences that brought them together again – and some surprisingly charming episodes in their reconnection and romance. [Not least: our new and ill-at-ease baronet discovers an intense interest in the insects and amphibians that live in Romney Marsh, and one of his first relaxed “dates” with his smuggler/lover involved the pair of them hunting for specific species of beetles – it’s quite delightful and very unexpected!]

    19. Nervous Nellie*

      I’ve just started Almond by Won-Pyung Sohn, recommended to me by my favorite bookseller. It is the story of a Korean teen with alexithymia (can’t feel or express emotions), and his relationships with his mom and grandma and with a new kid at school who is very troubled. It is gripping and reads like a movie. I hope a movie is made of this book!

    20. Anonymouse*

      I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately. I recently finished Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine, it’s about how gender stereotypes are socially constructed, it’s trans-inclusive, and it’s really humorous in a way that I think other AAM readers would appreciate. About women supposedly being naturally better at people-focused professions : “And what about forensic science, which draws in three times as many women as men? On one hand, it does indeed sometimes have people as its subject of study. But, on the other hand, when it does, often they’re dead”

    21. Fellow Traveller*

      I just finished Index, and thought it was delightful. I mean a while chapter on the evolution of page numbers!
      I also just finished Slay- a YA book about a Black teenager who develops a video game just for Black people. I thought it was fantastic and more insightful than a lot of non-fiction books one could read about the need for safe spaces.

      1. the cat's pajamas*

        I started Index a while back and didn’t finish it, I don’t remember why but thanks for reminding me of it, will try it again. Word by Word by Kory Stamper was also very good. It’s about how dictionaries are constructed and edited. You might like that one, too. I thought it was fun.

        1. word nerd*

          One of my favorite books about dictionaries! And I’ve read my fair share of books about dictionaries :).

    22. the cat's ass*

      I’m wicked stressed right now so my reading is pretty light/distracting-I just adored Curtis Sittenfield’s “Romantic Comedy” about a Tina Fey-ish character who talks about how schlubby guys date superstar woman but it never happens in reverse….until it does, to her. Delightful.

    23. Wilde*

      This month I’ve finished Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson and Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano. Both family stories following sisters through significant life events.

      Hello Beautiful wrecked me at the end. Lovely characters, incredible narrative.

      Pineapple Street felt like it should be the same but it fell flat for me. Maybe it had something to do with the fact the family are in the 1% and I was reading it as the submersible disaster unfolded? Ultimately I felt the ending was too tidy.

      1. Bluebell*

        I really wanted to like Pineapple street but I kind of found it meh, even though there was a tidy end.

      2. word nerd*

        I read Hello Beautiful recently too. I used to live in the Pilsen neighborhood for several years, just one block away from the Lozano library (where Sylvie works), so I really enjoyed feeling like I was back there (and also why the House on Mango Street has a special place in my heart). And now every time I run into the title I can hear the dad saying “Hello Beautiful” to the little baby and aaggh.

    24. Elizabeth West*

      I finished the first Moonfall book, The Starless Crown, by James Rollins. Then I started the second Moonfall book, The Cradle of Ice. I love this series — Rollins is best known for his Sigma Force action thrillers, but this one is pure fantasy and it’s a blast.

      In between, I read Gabino Iglesias’ The Devil Takes You Home. It’s Latino noir with a strong dash of magical realism and horror — in fact, it just won a Stoker Award! His books have a lot of Spanish in them and the characters don’t always translate, but you can pick a lot up via context. I’ve been wanting to learn it and when I do, I’ll go back and read the parts I can’t read, lol.

      It takes me a while to read them because I’ve been doing it on my phone on the bus and train to make the commute go faster. But that just makes the books last longer, too. :)

    25. Bluebell*

      Earlier in the week, I read Lyz Lenz’s God Land. A really great combination of memoir and essays about Christianity in the Midwest. She is a great journalist, and also has a substack I love. Also finished the true love experiment, a fun romance that deals with reality TV, by Christina Lauren. I also enjoyed Barbara Isn’t Dying, a German book, by Alina Bronsky. It’s a sweet tart novel about a man who has to learn to cook for himself when his wife gets sick. Connection with other human beings ensues.

      1. Hibiscus*

        Love Lyz. Her substack is really one of the best. I also not liked, but am haunted by, Alina Bronsky’s The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine.

    26. carcinization*

      I don’t have to go back to Place that Must Not be Named until 7/31, so I have quite a bit of free time right now. I usually only check library books out in such situations because during other parts of the year I am not able to have a very quick turnaround for reading books. Because the library has time to replenish itself in between my visits, I generally have good luck with just browsing the new releases and picking a few that sound interesting/that I’ve heard about online, mostly speculative fiction but sometimes other stuff. That did not work on Friday though, I guess that area was picked over. So I checked out a book from 2019 called How Rory Thorne Destroyed the Multiverse. It was a little too precious in parts but overall quite enjoyable; I’ll look for the sequel now that I know there is one.

    27. Anonymoss*

      I personally have loved the Between Earth and Sky series by Rebecca Roanhorse. I’ve also loved the Rook and Rose trilogy. And the Burning Kingdoms trilogy by Tasha Suri. All of these stories are fantasy and in sort of the same vein of She Who Becomes (lots of worldbuilding, deeply steeped in culture, queer mains). The Rook and Rose is co-written with the same author as A Natural History so you might enjoy it!

    28. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m re-re-rereading The Horizontal Man, by Helen Eustis. I first came across it in a collection: Women Crime Writers of the 1940s-50s, and it’s just so well written and compelling. It’s contemporary for its time, but not dated–much more “time and place” then eye-rollingly faddy. The mystery is compelling and well designed (but again, the fashions of the time, especially for mental health/treatment, play into it.)

  11. Ginger Cat Lady*

    I’m helping someone move later this summer, and it’s a two day drive. Because I live on the other side of the US, I need to fly to the starting point and then fly home from the end point. So essentially two one-way tickets. What are your best tips for getting a good deal on one way tickets like this?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Experiment with creating a multi-city trip and compare that flat rate to the 2 one-way tickets. All sites have some way of navigating to a multi-city or multi-stop trip. Sometimes it’s in “advanced search”. On Kayak there’s a button that says “round trip” but if you click the little carat next to it, you get a drop-down with “one way” and “multi-city” options. On American I think it’s in “advanced search.” But poke around and you should find it on every site.

    2. Sloanicota*

      Honestly I start on google flights just to see all the options – they have a calendar for price and you can more easily vary the airports (I live by three airports and many of the places I’m trying to go also have multiple airport options – like Chicago – so there are a billion possible combinations of the trip for me. One-way is a setting, so is direct, which is the only flight I’ll consider.

    3. Mostly Managing*

      Be flexible on dates.

      I just booked a fairly complicated itinerary involving 6 people and multiple on-way tickets.
      Expedia (and maybe others?) has an option at the top of the page for “my dates are flexible”.

      If you’re able to stay an extra night (on a friend’s sofa?) it can make a significant difference to the cost.

    4. JSPA*

      “open jaw” flights is the term for a round-trip with a missing interior segment (which can be cheaper to book than 2 one ways…or not). Using the term can help in finding / booking them as such.

  12. Missb*

    Have you ever been shocked by a bill?

    We just finished our kitchen remodel. The installer is also a general contractor though we only hired them for parts of the job (we acted as general to save some $. We always do this.)

    This project has gone on for a year and a half. The contractor has given estimates for the three major portions of the job. They’ve also had to send out their crew multiple times – like probably 15+ days more than I expected, obviously spread out amongst many months.

    We got the final bill this week. I really expected them to tack on thousands more for all the extra days the crew had to show up. Nope. This was the first job we’ve had for years where there wasn’t an actual contract with terms spelled clearly out. The contractor was the only one that worked with our cabinet style and was highly recommended by the cabinet shop, so despite my misgivings with the lack of a solid clear contract, we hired them. They literally charged what they quoted. I am shocked. Also, I love my new kitchen.

    And ready to move to the next project. With a solid contract.

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

      I needed a repair done on my work truck and got a quote from my usual repair shop. It was expensive and I could delay so I did. In the meantime, my mechanic sold his shop and retired, so I went to a different shop that I was familiar with. I almost fell down when I received the invoice. It was $500 cheaper than the original quote. I showed up at the shop with Dunkin donuts and a coffee box. Everybody was happy this morning.

    2. Vio*

      A few years back I got a really shocking gas bill. For context, when I first moved into that flat I had the same supplier for both gas and electric. I asked their company if I could have a combined bill instead of paying them separately and they told me they weren’t sure if it was possible but they would try. Every quarter I received only the one bill, paid it on time and all seemed well. Then two or three years later I received a gas bill for several thousand pounds. It turned out that they could not combine the bills and I had only been paying the electric. For some reason the gas bills never arrived, presumably they were sent to a wrong address. Being unemployed at the time there was no way I could pay the bill and had to consult a debt charity for help negotiating it. Two more years of monthly payments and it’ll finally be gone.

      1. Callie*

        We had a similarly surprising utility bill. We had done renovations on our house and there was some issue with the electric meter, which wasn’t figured out for several months. The utility company was giving us bills projected based on past usage…however, we had switched our heat to a gas system to an electric heat pump during the reno. I remember being surprised that our electricity bill hadn’t gone up significantly.
        After getting the meter issue fixed, I got a bill for almost a thousand dollars. The utility company was surprisingly fabulous and really flexible with the repayment.
        But lesson learned…

      2. Emma2*

        You mentioned pounds so it sounds like you are in the UK. I am not an expert on this, but I believe the companies cannot charge you for gas or electricity used more than 12 months ago if they did not previously send you a bill or statement of account (I have seen the consumer Q&A column in The Guardian mention this). I have just Googled and found something about it on Ofgem’s website – will put the link in another comment. I am not sure what your recourse is now, having paid, but if they improperly charged you, you may have a basis to complain or perhaps ask for reimbursement.

        1. Emma2*

          Vio – If you are in the UK, here is what Ofgem says. Again not my area of expertise, but I think you could raise a complaint with the company if they breached this rule and ask for reimbursement (they know the rule and if they asked you to pay when they were not allowed to they were exploiting the fact that individual people are less likely to know the rule). If you raise a formal complaint & they don’t fix it, I think you could then complain to the energy ombudsperson.

          https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households/check-energy-back-billing-rules#:~:text=What%20are%20the%20back%2Dbilling,it%20was%20set%20too%20low.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My kitchen sink stopped draining in the middle of Coldpocalypse – on the afternoon of the Friday of Christmas weekend. The plumber came out (which was a shocker), spent three hours working on it. The kitchen drain line (outflow, not inflow – much rarer) had an 8+ inch ice dam blocking it. The location of the ice dam was such that it was a pain in the butt to reach to try to manually melt it, in piping up by the basement ceiling so we couldn’t just point a space heater at it, etc. The plumber crew chief said this was only the second time in like 20 years of his career that he’d seen this combination of issues. It ended up taking three days to just wait it out, there wasn’t anything they could do, but they were still working on it, three of them for several hours on a last-minute emergency call the Friday before Christmas when it was 15 below and everyone and their aunt had frozen pipe issues.

      They refused to charge me. Anything. Even a base service call charge.

    4. Llellayena*

      New homeowner. A/C just…stopped. I looked through the manuals, called my parents, changed the filter…and gave up and called for service. $250 for them to walk through the door and more if a problem was found. Guy came in, pointed to a little u-shaped trap thing, told me that if that gets clogged the whole thing shuts down. He pulled the gunk out, flipped the switch and said “I was here for 2 minutes, I’m not charging you at all.”

      1. Bibliovore*

        Well my ac went out this week and I have a service contract that I pay every year and it is under the warranty . They told me there would be no charge. It turned out to be an electrical switch that flipped because of grounding. They came in, flipped the switch ( no it was not obvious) and charged me $99. Because the switch was not theirs .

        1. Callie*

          yeah, same experience. We had a service contract with a plumbing company which included yearly service of our old gas heating system. One day our heat stopped working.
          …Turns out our thermostat’s batteries died.

          Plumber replaced the batteries, had a good laugh, then charged me $150 for the service call.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      So glad you love it! And that was not the ending I expected.

      When my kid was about five we spent a weekend with my parents touristing around a big city about two hours from home. I parked my minivan in a garage and left it there all weekend. When I retrieved it on Sunday afternoon (a very hot and humid Sunday) one of the tires was flat. The auto club came after two hours and switched it for the donut spare. I had two hours of high-speed highway driving to get home and didn’t think that was safe. Did I mention I was dressed up for fancy brunch? In heels? There was no nearby garage. I put kid in car, drove out of the city, stopped at the nearest town, and put “auto repair” into my GPS. There was a Pep Boys two blocks away. The counter guy sent me around back and said “I don’t know if they have time.” The guy in the service bay found the nail in the tire, fixed the leak, put it back on, stowed the donut back in place, and gave my kid a cold drink. And would not charge me at all. And tried to refuse the tip. I told him I wasn’t leaving unless he took the tip and I was blocking his bay door….so he finally took it.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We moved from NYC to the southeast 9 years ago. I called a couple of companies and got quotes, but we decided that my partner would be the one to plan the move because, after all, we were moving for his PhD. He called one of those companies that bids out your job and doesn’t give a lot of details until the week of your move. They had originally told us they would be there on July 28th or 29th. We found out on July 26th or 27th that they had scheduled our move for August 4th– and our lease was up on July 31st. I was so stressed I was shaking.

      On Tuesday, I called one of the companies I had a quote from and said, “Is there any way you can move us this week, for any amount of money?” The response? “We can do Thursday, and we’ll honor the original quote.” They even TOOK OFF the amount they had given us to pack the kitchen, since we had already done that in preparation for the other company. They showed up early on Thursday morning and were so kind and friendly and wonderful. The only downside was we needed to wait two weeks for our furniture, but I did not care. They indeed honored the original quote and got recommendations for life.

    7. Girasol*

      The dentist went to a “subscription” model the year covid started, so I paid for the year’s cleanings all at once for a discount. Then covid came and I couldn’t go back that year so the money was wasted. I finally got back for a cleaning and they said, “You had a subscription. We’ll honor it,” and a cleaning I expected to pay for was free. That was nice!

  13. RC*

    Long-time lurker, first time poster: I have By the Book in my library queue for our vacation next month! I’ve uniformly (to varying degrees) enjoyed everything else she’s written (with personal preference probably towards The Proposal, Party of Two, and While We Were Dating). Very good for when I just want something light where I know these competent professional people will meet cute and then make out with each other’s faces at the end.

    1. iNot*

      I just added By the Book but I am
      not a fan of her books. Personally I tend to feel meh about them. I know I’m going to get a HEA, but sometimes her characters irk my soul. Yet I keep reading to find one I really love!

      1. CityMouse*

        I’ve read a few of hers and I do find her stuff a bit frustrating. A lot of these fall under plots that wouldn’t exist if the characters just communicated. They always start well but don’t quite meet their promise.

        1. iNot*

          Yes! They literally do not communicate which makes me want to throw the whole book away. I need a new plot problem from her.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Ebert always defined those as Idiot Plots: where the entire plot hinges on the characters being idiots. It can work, like with classic farces where the entire point is misunderstandings, but otherwise as you said: frustrating!

    2. Emma*

      I love Jasmine Guillory! I find her writing really feminist and positive, not something I had thought if romance novels previously.

    3. Yoli*

      By The Book is my least favorite of her books (I DNF), but I hope you enjoy it. Talia Hibbert is a recommendation for a similar style.

      1. iNot*

        I read Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint Dani Brown. j did not like Dani at some points! But the guy was less annoying. I do want to read the other two in the series but they’re always gone from the library. Good sign maybe.

  14. Come On Eileen*

    Is it ever reasonable to set boundaries with an aging parent because you don’t like how they talk to your other parent? And if so, how do I do this tactfully? Or are boundaries only realistic for how others treat me?

    I am 48, very close both emotionally and physically to my senior parents (mom is 78 and dad is 84 and they live three blocks from me). I don’t like the way dad talks to my mom a lot of the time. He can be condescending and unkind, to be honest, a bit of a dick. When I am present, seeing him talk this way makes me extremely uncomfortable and I want to come to the defense of my mom. Added to this is the normal stressors of aging – he can’t hear well or walk far and so he says “what?” almost every time you say something to him. (He has hearing aids but hardly ever thinks to put them in, and doesn’t take kindly to me pointing out that he should wear them more often)

    Because we are a close family I spend time with them several times a week and seeing him talk down to my mom hurts my heart. Is there a way to set a boundary of basically “I don’t like how you are talking to my mom. I’m here to help you but it’s too hard to hear you say things like that so I’m going to leave.” Or are boundaries only for how someone else treats me?

    1. fairy twinkletoes*

      You could totally set that boundary with your parents. The boundary you are setting is: I do not want to listen to Dad talk in this way. Explain to them that you don’t like the way Dad talks to Mom, and leave every time he speaks in a way you dislike. However, in practice this will likely mean that you see your mom less. The real question is: how does Mom feel? Is this a thing that bothers her? If you set your boundary, is that a thing Mom would want? Do you leave halfway through dinner? Can you find a way to do you-and-Mom time only, so you get the feeling of “spending time with parent”, and not listen to your Dad? So, before you go boundary setting with your dad, I’d have a good talk to your mom, say how you feel, see how she feels and maybe you two can brainstorm ways to curb the behavior you don’t like.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree with this. It’s not okay, but it’s going to be really hard to change the behavior or an 84 year old man with hearing problems. (If this is a new behavior, it may be an unfortunate side effect of a medical condition, but I assume you would have mentioned if that were the case). First I’d explore with mom how she feels – it may be that she’d prefer to have more time with you in her old age than have your dad say less hurtful things, which is something I’d take into consideration if enforcing your boundary means seeing them less. Maybe she’s used to tuning him out / can’t hear half of it / doesn’t take it to heart / views it as a medical symptom. I also like the suggestion of more one-on-one time where you show her she’s valued. I find that men of a certain generation are very bought in to concept of “girl time” so it may not be hard to arrange more of that.

        1. DannyG*

          Similar behavior was my late FIL’s first indication of Alzheimer’s. Totally out of character in their 40+ years together. And it progressed pretty quickly in his case.

      2. Frieda*

        Strongly recommend setting a clear boundary. My dad, similar age, similar hearing problems, similar dickishness to mom and me and all and sundry, has a habit of just going off (such that I once had to say: “You asked me a question, interrupted my response accusing me of saying something I didn’t say and wasn’t going to say, and swore at me when I asked you not to do that. And you’re in my home. I will not be spoken to that way.) (His question was about some damage to his luggage, so … low stakes!)

        I set, and as necessary reinforce the “you will not speak to me that way” boundary but honestly, over time he has learned to rein himself in with me. Presuming pretty good cognitive functioning, a person can tell when they’re being nasty.

        In your shoes I’d try: “Dad! When you talk to Mom that way I feel really frustrated and don’t want to be here at your house. If you act that way towards her again, I’m going home.” And be prepared to grab your coat/purse/whatever and stroll off. Lather, rinse, repeat. It might be that your mom will need to start visiting you solo at your house, but that might be nicer regardless.

      3. Come On Eileen*

        Thank you — you’ve given me some important things to think about. I don’t want to cut short time with my mom, so navigating this I will have to keep that in mind. I do think there are ways to find more just-Mom-and-me time (and I know she would LOVE that so win-win). Thank you, kind AAM reader :-)

    2. RagingADHD*

      It is totally normal and okay to tell your dad you don’t like how he talks to your mom, and point out that it is also affecting your relationship with him.

      But boundaries do not control other people. They are choices you make about your own behavior, and need to be made with an eye toward achieving what you want, rather than what you wish someone else would stop doing. So if you leave, you are also cutting short time with your mom. And you are creating a point of contention between them that may lead to further tension or conflict.

      Is there a way to spend time with your mom without your dad? Could you take her out to do things together, or have her over to your house?

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      I concur with Fairy and Sloane: You can set the boundary, but it would likely mean that you see less of your Mom. Would she want that? Is it a reasonable price you would pay to have less third wheel witness stress?

      Have you tried sitting down with him and clearly laying out how upset it makes you to hear him berate your mom? I expect both of your parents are deep in this pattern and don’t see it themselves. Your pointing it out, as a thing he does that upsets you when to him it’s just Monday, might be the push that is needed to shift the dynamic.

    4. Old Plant Woman*

      You absolutely can refuse to listen to anything offensive. Age old precedent, “Don’t swear on my presence.” You can change “I am going to leave” to “I will not listen to you.” Then abruptly turn your head away from him, start talking to mom, turn up the TV, turn on vacuum etc. Good luck. He may never change.

    5. another old married person*

      I’m sorry that your dad is being so unkind. My husband and I are right in your parents’ demographic (85, 79), so I’m replying from that perspective.

      I agree with the poster who said to talk to your mom first. Hopefully that conversation will make it easier for you to tolerate his boorishness without subtracting time spent with her — you may be able to reset how you frame it to yourself when he keeps doing it, which he probably will. Just being able to exchange a knowing and sympathetic glance with your mom might make it more tolerable. Let us know how it goes.

      1. anonymous dysfunctional family survivor*

        Yes you can. We had a similar situation. The misbehaving parent would not listen AT ALL, so for me boundaries looked like hanging up the phone or leaving the room or leaving entirely depending on how bad they were that day. The parent never changed but seemed to get it subconsciously and would usually be less awful for a while.

        My other sibling went low contact.

        Good luck and sending solidarity.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      This *is* about how he treats you: how he behaves in front of you, how he’s making you grind your teeth and ruining any time you have together. Of course you care about how your mother is spoken to! This isn’t some weirdly picky preference that no one is capable of understanding without undergoing a specialist feminist course. If he says your mum doesn’t care, or it’s not your business how he talks to her; agree with him! But it is your business what conversations you’re okay with being a part of, and mum-pinada-time isn’t a fun activity for you. Simply reiterate that you’d like to enjoy your time together with him, and this is really affecting that. I really do think it’s a kindness to tell our loved ones if they annoy us and give them a chance to salvage the situation before you end up blowing up at them in frustration. So, you might end up going home earlier if he doesn’t listen, but what will you be missing? High blood pressure? You may even be more inclined to go over more frequently, once you’ve given yourself permission to bail if it gets too icky. You’re not enjoying the conversation anyway. You can always take your mum out just the two of you as well. Also, I used to be married to a guy who spoke down to me in front of others: it only ever happened with an audience because he knew I would pull him apart if he tried it on me alone. With someone else there though, you don’t want to put them in the middle: but if it’s bothering *you* why shouldn’t you advocate for your own comfort?

    7. The Shenanigans*

      I don’t think there is any way to make one parent not be rude to the other overall, I’m afraid. But you CAN draw your own boundaries for not putting up with it. “Hey, Rude Parent, I don’t want to hear you talk to Other Parent that way. Please stop.” Decide what sort of consequence you want to attach to it if they don’t, e.g., you limit your visits to once a month/ten minutes at a time, just running errands and dropping off but no chit chat if Rude Parent is there, or any number of lines. This isn’t about how they treat the other person. This is about how they are making you feel by being rude in front of you. You can absolutely draw the line.

      It may mean you don’t see them as often, but, well, that happens. I also question whether yall can be really close if Rude Parent isn’t willing to be even commonly courteous to Other Parent.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      You absolutely can set those boundaries!

      Parents are obviously a unique relationship, but that doesn’t mean they get a free pass on all their behaviors, no matter how long standing. That said, expect pushback from BOTH your folks once you start establishing that you don’t want to deal with X, Y, and Z the way you have been. Your dad, obviously, but remember your mom has been dealing with/used to this for years and hearing “he shouldn’t do/say that may be frightening or disorienting for her.

    9. grocery store pootler*

      When I went through something like this I was mostly interacting with my parents over the phone. The three of us were talking on the phone when Dad launched into a bad habit that I very much disliked. I said “you don’t need me to listen to this,” and hung up, which I think really shocked him. Mom told me afterward that, wonder of wonders, he apologized to her about it. I don’t know if he entirely quit doing it, but he didn’t ever do it around me again.

  15. sewsandreads*

    Okay. I’m actually making stuff this weekend, so, fellow AAM crafters and makers, what are we all doing this weekend?

    My project is cutting out yet another quilt pattern, this time the Tall Tales quilt! So keen for this one.

    1. The Coolest Clown Around*

      I’m going to be making some progress on a rainbow crochet blanket for my friends’ daughter. Excited to throw on some Columbo and just knock out some length.

    2. My Brain is Exploding*

      I am putting a baby quilt together out of leftover pieces from another quilt. And starting to cut out a quilt that is basically a dozen large flowers. That one is going to use up a dozen fat quarters from my stash.

    3. Sloanicota*

      Assuming food making still counts, I cranked up the ole chest freezer and I’m going to be making doggie brittle. My dog gets so hot in the summer and loves frozen treats, so I make huge sheets of watery beet, pumpkin, peanut butter and/or chicken broth combinations, plus I freeze some of the liquid in some of his porch chew toys (too messy for inside the house). Then I crack it up with a hammer and store it in my freezer in a ziplock to whip out on hot days (which will be all the days between now and the end of September).

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      I’m planning to finish my niece’s high school graduation gift. It’s a crocheted blanket in the school colors of the college she’s going to in the fall.

    5. Ninja Prof*

      Hoping to make some good progress on my current crochet project, a lightweight blanket. I started with one pattern that I decided I didn’t like, so I started over with a different pattern last week that I’m enjoying much more.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh my gosh, I looked up the quilt and that is SO CUTE. Makes me want to make one even though I’ve never tried pieced patterns and don’t have the patience or space/need for a quilt lol.

      I’m trying to get back to my Year of Birds embroidery, I got stalled redoing some of the summer roses a few months ago. I’m a teacher and Thursday was the last day of school so I have this unrealistic dream that I’m going to do a million projects this summer :) I have supplies ready for 5 other ideas and a loooong list of other stuff I want to make.

    7. Jay*

      I’m making up some scented candles. I’m not particularly skilled, but I do like the smells. I run a shop for a living and it makes for a nice change of pace to the “old grease and badly mistreated equipment” which make up the bulk of my daily smells.

    8. Federal Worker Drone*

      I need to cut the papers and template sheets for Chapter 1 of my new Quiltworx Carnival Flower. It’s a paper piecing pattern, so a bit different from traditional piecing, but I love Quiltworx patterns.

      I’ve been hesitating to begin because once I do, it’s another UFO project.

    9. Dancing Otter*

      I have a linen blouse almost finished; it just needs to be hemmed.
      But mostly, I plan to work on knitting my summer sweater.

    10. QuilterGirl*

      Im taking a break from all the quilts and serging up a knit midi skirt to go with my new sandals.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      My first project since moving is going to be remaking a thrift shop frame I found so I can put some of my own art in it — a portrait of Beethoven* I made when I lived in Santa Cruz. It’s the only art I’ve ever exhibited — my landlord at the time was an amazing artist and he and his wife arranged a show in the building.

      *the composer, not the dog, lol

  16. Jackalope*

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

    I just (deep breath) started Stardew Valley this week. My husband has been excited about me playing this game for ages, but I wasn’t ever in the right mood. This week I knew I was ready for something outside of my usual (Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy, etc.). Oh my goodness. How does anyone ever manage to do anything else with their lives while playing SV? Why is it so addictive and compelling? How are my critters so cute? I did have a nod to my beloved Fire Emblem; my pet cat is named Edelgard.)

    Anyone else a SV fan? What are your thoughts? I’ve just finished my first summer.

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Anyone excited for the Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars remaster and/or Super Mario Wonder?

      I’m intrigued as to what the elephant powerup featured in Wonder does…

    2. Snell*

      Yes on Stardew Valley! I definitely understand what you mean about addiction; I’ve totally made unwise decisions about irl time management in favor of Stardew. Of the 5 saves I currently have, the most recent one is the one I’ve come closest to perfection on. I usually have so much fun completing the community center that I start over to do it again before making further progress, but I’m currently doing a bit of a grind for the gold clock, which I’ve never been able to afford. I do want to relax and enjoy myself, and in fact, on this most recent playthrough, I put some self-imposed limits on my gameplay to slow myself down so I could take a moment to enjoy myself for its own sake, instead of indulging in my min-max completionist urges. Oddly enough, this slower-paced playthrough is the one that’s progressed the furthest, funny that. I’m now on Spring Year 10.

      *This second paragraph is spoilery material, so avert your eyes or not according to your liking.* I did say my goal is to relax, and currently, my plans to relax involve automating the farm to the point I might tend to it once a year maybe, and also stockpiling enough cash to do fun things. If there’s a day that the crops don’t need harvesting/resowing, and it’s very lucky, I’ll do a desert mine run. This means I actually have more auto-petters than I have coops/barns to use them in. Maybe those will get place in my *ahem* favorite villagers’ houses in town lol. I used to dread the desert mine, but once I got in the groove, it’s a lot of fun and I actually look forward to those days. My plan is to semi-retire to the island once I have the gold clock; I just don’t think I have it in me to manage the farm and the island farm at the same time.

      All this and I’m still not married/roomied lol. Just too hard to make a decision. I do have a certain affection for Harvey (and married him in past playthroughs), but I also have Leah and maybe Elliot on the mind, too. So.

      1. The Coolest Clown Around*

        I love Stardew Valley! It was a really cathartic pandemic game for me, to pretend to be both outside and achieving things lol. Currently playing through Tears of the Kingdom – I know a lot of people who knocked it out in just a few weeks but I’m really enjoying meandering all over the map, honestly my favorite part of this game.

    3. Don'tbeadork*

      Disney Dreamlight Valley is currently my mind/time suck. It’s nice to have a game where you DON’T have to fight for every little accomplishment. If I want to mindlessly pick flowers for hours, there are flowers to pick and Goofy will buy them.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I am into DDV, but I do play through the updates too fast- not as fast as some people, since I refuse to grind to hoard things, just to finish the update in 2 days to grind and hoard again. I finished the star path yesterday, so am back to just logging once a day to look for the blue chest specifically.

        1. Don'tbeadork*

          Still working on the star path, but that’s because my backpack is always so full that it takes forever to collect all those flowers and fish!

          1. KatEnigma*

            That Here and Now Fish just about killed me. Between 6-9 am and pm is not ideal playing time for me. I ended up catching them between 8:45-9 LOL

            Remember when picking flowers, that if you do have a stash of them (I try to keep 50 of each) if you drop them and pick them back up, that counts. It’s too bad that won’t work with gems and fish.

    4. Jay*

      I’m playing me some Fallout 76. They just started a new season, with new events and new Cryptids to hunt!

    5. beep beep*

      Oh, man, SV. If I want to lose six to eight hours of my life, that’s the game. No puzzles that drain my brain to make me want to set it down- just cute art and fun little achievement after fun little achievement. I’m also saving for the gold clock right now (200 hours in my main file and I don’t have it, LOL) to try and get perfection. It’s a grind, but god is it a fun one.

      1. Snell*

        Ha, my original plan to raise funds for the gold clock was aged wine, because that looks so obvious on the surface, right? But since I do the desert mine all day on very lucky days where there aren’t other chores to do, I’ve been accumulating iridium in ludicrous amounts, so I’m starting to consider switching professions to blacksmith, and selling iridium bars. That would net me ~1.5mil per stack, and, um, it’s actually starting to look like a feasible plan.

        The first time I noticed I had a full stack of iridium ore, that was surreal. The next few stacks became “where am I supposed to put this??”-annoyances, which was surreal in a different way. Now I’m in that weird situation where I have to balance storage space for iridium + storage for the mega bombs that I trade iridium ore for to get rid of it quickly > now I have more mega bombs to mine even more iridium with > cycle continues.

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Also I started Potion Permit after finishing Dodgeball Academia ( a short, cute game). I’m kinda sad I’m almost done with Cozy Grove

      1. MEH Squared*

        Cozy Grove is one of my favorite cozy games! Spry Fox has announced a sequel. It’s supposed to come out at the end of this year, but I would not be surprised if it’s pushed back to the beginning of next year. I’m stoked!

    7. KatEnigma*

      My husband bought me some other game, and when I logged into Steam, I noticed the last large update to SV… Yeah, I completely started over and like 2 months later, finally played the new game.

    8. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Lord, Stardew Valley. The roughly annual cycle of “obsess over it for a month or two” -> “get bored and move on to another game” -> “see other people playing with whatever cool new stuff ConcernedApe threw into the latest major update” -> “update it and start a new game” continues. No other farming RPG hits quite the same, either. My Time at Portia was probably the closest.

      Anyway, just got done with the Moonbrooke part of Dragon Quest Builders 2. Pros: can now build all kinds of rad anti- monster defenses and cool magic stuff. Cons: my BFF that breaks stuff is mad at me and also going through some sort of possibly literally apocalyptic identity crisis. :(

      1. KatEnigma*

        I do like My Time in Portia. And I play all the Harvest Moons/Story of Seasons- in fact, going back in Harvest Moon well before Stardew. But nothing is quite the same. Kynseed would be fun if they ever advanced to what they say the game will be (hint, when I last played, you couldn’t even MARRY yet- for a game they tout as being able to play through generations of characters. That’s a little too raw even for Early Access, for me)

    9. Elizabeth West*

      FINALLLYYYYY I got my Playstations set up! I played some Flower last weekend. Such a lovely, calming game, with very nice music.

    10. LimeRoos*

      Super late to the party, but I’ve been playing TOTK almost non-stop since 05/12 lol. I am obsessed and I love it. So much fun. Mr. Roos has started FFXVI and while it’s different, he’s really enjoying the story and combat. It’s a bit more Souls like than he wanted, but it’s gorgeous and plot-wise starting to go bonkers, so he’s happy about that.

  17. Tired of Feeling Frazzled*

    I think I seem like a reasonably organized person to other people, but the truth is, I’m kind of a mess. One aspect of this that’s really getting me down lately is that I am truly terrible at estimating how long it will take for me to do something. I have learned to cope with this, but my coping strategy leaves me feeling out of control.

    If I’m getting ready to take a two-week trip, for example, I make a list of the things I need to get done, and I assume everything is going to take more time than I think. In reality, some stuff takes less time, and other stuff more. I make it to the airport on time – though usually with a few optional items on my list left undone – but the problem is that it feels touch and go the whole time. I would really like to just make a reasonable schedule for each task and be able to feel like I got stuff done and got where I needed to go because I planned well, not because I tricked myself into being on time.

    I don’t know why I’m so bad at this, but does anyone have any suggestions for me? Anyone have similar tendencies that they figured out how to overcome?

    1. sewsandreads*

      No advice, merely sympathies from someone who feels the same. I’ll be lurking in this thread with crossed fingers…

    2. Still*

      This would initially be more work, and wouldn’t work for everybody, but would gathering some data help? When you’re first planning, write down a list with all the estimates and then jot down how long everything actually takes when you do it. Next time, you’re going to have a better estimate, and if you can be bothered to do this a few times, you might end up with a decent idea of how long stuff actually takes you.

      Or you could add 20% to however much your current estimate is, and enjoy some free time at the end.

      1. Sloanicota*

        This is definitely part of my strategy. I just accept there will be some slack time because I over-planned, and that’s fine with me because I get so very anxious if I worry I’m going to miss a flight or whatever. I just bring a book, plan to get a drink at the airport (or wherever), pick up a coffee when I get wherever 20 minutes early, and make that my “me time.”

    3. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      I seem to have similar problems to you and have no idea if how I have come to do things would work for you but here it goes:

      1. I start earlier than I think I have to. Like, all the guesstimates for the list of things added up, I add another few days to get those things done (or even weeks – depending on the situation – definitely not just a few minutes or half an hour or something).
      If I have a trip on Saturday and ‘know’ I need to start washing clothes for it on Wednesday, I will instead start washing on Monday – just to be on the safe side. I’ll start putting the things I need for the trip in one place on Tuesday, adding to it whenever I found/thought of/finished preparing another thing. And start packing on Thursday (instead of on Friday).
      Basically, I spread the items on the list over a much longer time frame than they ‘should’ take (because I know I simply will not be as constantly productive as I would have to be if I started later). Takes a lot of the feeling of all of it being touch and go out of the situation for me.

      2. I changed my mindset towards ‘optional items’ to them actually being optional. If I can’t happily live with them not being done, then they are not really optional. Only things that I truly would not mind being left not done actually go in that part of the list. And I mentally prepare for what the ‘consequences’ of not having done them will (probably) be.
      For example, I might want to clean out the fridge before a long trip but can clearly see that I won’t have time (or the right mindset) for it, so I mentally prepare myself for coming home to a fridge with probably something mouldy in it. Not ideal but to me preferable to adding more stress beforehand, and to being doubly annoyed at myself for not cleaning it beforehand and still having to do it afterwards. Instead,I just shrug and accept that I will have to do it after the trip.

      Those are my two main ways of coping. They’ve helped me become much less frazzled before trips (or planning birthday parties or Christmas presents or…)

      The third thing is your mindset towards yourself. Even if you have the feeling you ‘should’ be able to do all the prep within a shorter amount of time, you clearly aren’t. If “tricking yourself into being on time” works for you, that’s just your way of doing things. If starting earlier helps you, that’s simply your way of coping. Who will judge you for it besides yourself? (And whoever else does, can go leave you alone and live their own life as a perfect person who obviously never struggles with anything) The main thing is to make things work for You, notbfor how you ‘should’ or for how others would.

      Maybe this helps a bit or maybe somebody else has ideas that work better for you! Keeping my fingers crossed for you to become less frazzled over time :)

      1. Madame Arcati*

        A bit like 1) above, I try where possible to do things in advance rather than leave them until I only have the time I (think I) need. Plenty of tasks can sit happily being done, minimising rushing about and making you feel all calm and prepared. A pile of clothes can sit happily somewhere being added to as you think of them or indeed wash them, for a week or so before you have to actually put them in suitcase. I make baby quilts for friends’ babies when I hear of the pregnancy, and put them inside until I hear of the birth; no harm will come to a quilt in a drawer for a few months and I’m not rushing to finish it. If I am up early for work, I get all my clothes (everything down to hair clips!) out and put them ready so I’m not rushed in the morning (and don’t have to make the decision either).
        If I have a friend round for dinner I plan my menu and buy whatever I can that is not perishable or can be frozen, as I think of it, then I only have to get things like salad or veg the day before or the day of.
        Another tip is, if you have a guest room or even simply a sofa bed and people come to stay, strip the bed and launder the sheets and put them back on, as soon as you have time to do so after your guest has left, and see to the towels likewise. Then when you are getting ready for the next guest, even if it’s ages in between, all you have to do is think how very well prepared you are and not how long things will take to dry etc.
        Tl;dr = think not, when do I have to start this task in order to get it done in time, but, is there any reason why I can’t do all or part of this task now/today/tomorrow and get it out of the way?

      2. TakingNotes*

        Seconding the “mindset” bit! I’ve learned from ADHD/ neurodifferent authors & content creators (K. C. Davis is a favorite) that executive dysfunction is simply real! Perfectly logical strategies for time management/ planning don’t necessarily work if your brain struggles with task initiation (a subcategory of executive function). The more I learn from neurodiverse content creators, the more I see how our culture assumes that everyone has the same executive function and task initiation capacity, if only they apply the right “hacks.” Hacks and strategies are great, but when logical tactics mysteriously don’t work, it might just be that your complex and wonderful brain-body doesn’t work the way lots of ableist productivity gurus think it should! Shifting to a self-compassionate acceptance mindset has really helped me give up on strategies that simply don’t work for my brain, which frees me up to experiment with tactics that actually support my lived reality.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      What kinds of things are you talking about –
      – stuff that has to be done to leave home in a reasonable condition (put clean sheets on the bed before you leave, clean the fridge)
      – stuff that has to be done so you can pack the things (laundry, buy a new toothbrush)
      – stuff that has to be done on an “administrative” level to make the trip happen (print your boarding pass, make a shuttle reservation)
      ?

      For me, I combine those things (then my actual “things that have to go in the suitcase” and “things that have to go in the carry-on” are two separate lists as well), but maybe splitting out all the categories will help you focus and prioritize the list and maybe it won’t be as overwhelming.

      My biggest thing was, I’m not going anywhere that doesn’t have stores, so I don’t need to stress over “what if I forget the shampoo!?” As long as I have my wallet, my phone and my medication, anything else I forget can probably be replaced with an acceptable temporary solution with minimal hassle. (If you’re going backwoods camping or something that’s different of course, but.) It took me a hot minute to stop stressing myself out “what if I need this and this and this and that?” Ok, I haven’t needed any of that in six months, but what if I do? I am going to a very large city, I bet there are at least thirty drugstores that sell Benadryl or Pepto. (It was Amazon Prime Now-ing a phone charger to my hotel room that finally hammered it home. “I live in the future. I’m not like, out on the Oregon Trail where if I don’t pack perfectly someone dies of dysentery. All of this is resolvable.”)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Another thing that sometimes helps me with scheduling: break things up into smaller chunks if you can. It’s not “pack the suitcase,” for example, it’s

        Wash and dry laundry
        Fold laundry as needed
        Put 10 pairs of underwear into one packing cube
        Put 8 shirts into one packing cube
        Put 4 pairs of pants into one packing cube
        (etc for your different clothing items)
        Put the packing cubes into the suitcase
        Check toiletry bag for necessities (toothbrush, deodorant, etc, whatever is necessary for you)
        Put the toiletry bag into the suitcase

        None of that (except wash and dry the laundry) takes more than a minute or two, and each one has a definite end point.

        If you don’t already use them, packing cubes really can be a wonder for making packing a thing you can do a few minutes at a time. (I know some people who do one packing cube per outfit, rather than sorting by type of clothing, which would improve efficiency on the destination end for sure, but I’ve never done it that way myself. Maybe I’ll try it next time.)

        1. Sloanicota*

          Similarly, I realized it was easier for me to just buy duplicates of my favorite travel items and keep them permanently packed in a bag in my suitcase. I have a shampoo, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, tampons etc etc already in there, so there’s no stressing about what I forgot to take out of my drawers in the last minute.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I do this with soap and such because everything has to be travel sized with shampoo and so on, but I think getting a travel size version of, say, my makeup is a good idea!

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I do the packing cubes with one outfit per cube system, although instead of “real” packing cubes what I have is a bunch of those zippered plastic bags that things like drapes and bedspreads sometimes come in. My mom re-did her living room and had a whole bunch of them left over from the drapes she bought, then I’ve been accumulating more as I buy things ever since.

          It’s been a game-changer for me, especially on road trips where I don’t want to unpack everything every night. It worked really well when I took a 2-ish week road trip with a convention in the middle of it, because I was able to optimize things so I that I only had to get into the main compartment of my big suitcase during the convention part of the trip, and had the clothes I needed for the trip down in my little bag on the way down, then shifted the going home clothes into the little bag for the way back.

          What I did is get out a bunch of index cards, and write one of the trip dates on each card. I then wrote in where we’d be staying that night on the card as well. (If I were doing it over again, I’d write the start and end locations on each card too.) I then did a highlighter stripe to color-code whether it was a travel day or a convention day. Then I put the outfits on top of the cards in piles, starting with the small things like underwear and socks and ending with pants and shirts (I decided I wanted to wear a clean pair of pants every day since I had enough room to pack that many on a car-based trip). Then I packed each zippered bag in order so that I could get dressed by grabbing the next layer in the bag (since I was taking the road trip with someone I didn’t know well, I’d be changing clothes quickly in a bathroom and not have a lot of ro0m to spread things out).

          I also have a separate one for nightclothes, since I’ll re-wear a nightgown for multiple nights. For the long trip, I packed two of those to change to a fresh nightgown halfway through. If I’d been on a trip with a reasonable chance of needing a nice dinner outfit, I also would have packed that in a separate bag labelled something like “nice outfit”, but I knew that was not going to come up on this trip.

          I made sure the index cards were visible through the bags as labels, and I spent basically no time thinking about clothes the entire trip. (I also stuffed a few extra pairs of underwear and socks into an inside suitcase pocket just in case.)

          For me, it’s made a major difference in cognitive load while packing to think in terms of days and outfits rather than try to count to [number] while deciding how many pairs of [clothing item] to bring. I’m also just not a morning person, so not having to unpack and repack a bunch of stuff to figure out what to wear before I can go get breakfast (and coffee) makes for a simpler morning with less wasted time and lets me sleep in a bit more on travel days.

      2. Rough Night*

        This. I used to over pack and stress before a trip. Then I started traveling a ton for work. I ended up at Target buying a phone charger (instead of Amazon) about 15 minutes before they closed. I’ve had to ask the hotel front desk for a tooth brush and toothpaste before… each on a different trip. I think once I forgot my hair brush and I know I’ve done a Walmart run for mascara on the way to the office while out of town.

        I’ve found the most helpful for ensuring I get done what I need to before a trip is to pad my vacation time on either end of the trip. Meaning I’ll take off 5 days minimum for a 3 day trip. For an upcoming 5 day trip I think I requested off 9. But I have plenty of PTO and flexibility on what days I work/my 2 days off each week. This buffer allows plenty of time to pack, as well as time after to recover from my vacation and get my life in order before returning to work.

    5. Doc McCracken*

      Others have pointed this out already but I want to cosign this. Is it really a bad thing you have to gamify or “trick yourself?” In theory we should all just get on with it, but sometimes we all have more bandwidth than others. And if you happen to be female, where you are hormonally impacts this as well. And then there’s stress which makes everything 10x harder in general. This has been a big mind shift for me after I was diagnosed with ADHD at age 41. I’m not suggesting you also have adhd, just explaining I had to accept my own circumstances. Big hug! Be gentle with yourself. You are doing your best and I bet you would be impressed with anyone else accomplishing what you do.

    6. RagingADHD*

      I have similar problems, and your system sounds very successful to me. I came to 2 realizations;

      1) My list of optional items was too long, and the things that got left undone were unrealistic to begin with (or I did the unrealistic things and bumped simpler things, which feels dumb). So I stopped making those lists so aspirational.

      2) My frazzled feelings were less about the plan or the tasks, and more a combination of anxiety plus the adrenaline-urgency my brain craves to make itself focus. No amount of planning or perfect execution will make them go away entirely, because that’s just what deadlines feel like to me.

      Realizing these things and being able to name them, “oh, here I am, getting frazzled,” or “I better put this in my purse now, so I don’t forget it when I get frazzled.” Actually made the feelings less intense and less bothersome.

    7. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, this sounds pretty familiar, but to be honest I’ve been chalking it up to latent anxiety – like, I am going to make it to the airport in time, but I will feel squeezed/pressed/anxious about it anyway, which is more about me handling stress than my actual time management skills. I don’t think anybody makes it out the door on a trip without a few things they should have / could have / would have done. But, I have also been noticing how extremely, unfortunately optimistic I seem to be about how easy/quick things will be. This sounds good but is actually bad because a) I get frustrated quickly when it turns out worse than I expected and b) not infrequently I end up running out of time. It’s like how late people suffer from time optimism (I’m not a late person but I experience this in other activities).

    8. Ranon*

      So my job in no small part is to estimate how long it will take me and others to do things because that’s literally how we make money and the truth is even when I make that estimate I do it knowing 100% that it absolutely will not be accurate to what we wind up doing, that’s just how things go. The important thing is that big picture I’m close enough we make money, not that each person working on the project spends exactly that amount of time on it.

      It sounds like overall your big picture is pretty good! That’s success! You are, in fact, doing really well, except for the part where you don’t feel like you’re doing well.

      Can you work on trusting that you’ve built in the buffer you need and that things will, indeed, work out? The anxiety seems to be much more the problem than the planning.

      (Honestly for a two week trip I do almost no planning besides mail hold and turning the water off in winter, I keep a toiletries bag packed at all times and mostly just try to remember to pack underwear- and I’m a planner! I swear! So from over here not knowing you and your circumstances I’m thinking you might be holding yourself to a standard far higher than, say, mine, lol)

    9. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I was going to say, “pack less stuff!” then I remembered that the trip is only an example. But actually, “pack less stuff” is a good metaphor for a useful technique. If you stop bringing/doing the stuff you don’t need, it’ll take less time to pack/do and you’ll have less luggage to carry.

    10. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Would it help to take a bit of an Agile approach? (The IT workflow method.) Rank the things you want to get done by priority, and then just work your way down the list. I am probably pretty good at estimating how long things take, but I also usually try to get them done way ahead of time, just in case, which is another approach. Like, if you need to buy certain things for a trip, a shopping trip like that would probably take 1-4 hours, depending on the travel time and the length of the list. I would try to do something like that at least 1-2 weeks ahead of time, more if I was sure of it. It’s better to buy those things and store them in my otherwise empty suitcase than to try to buy them later and find that the store is out of stock.

      I’ll admit, part of my method is based on quelling my mild anxiety, but then I do like the feeling of being prepared and not having to rush.

    11. GlowCloud*

      It sounds like you’re nailing the task – getting to the airport on time, with all the essential stuff. It’s the ‘touch and go’ anxiety that’s making you feel like a failure.

      I think one can only get a sense of how long tasks take by actually doing them – and even then, one gets quicker with practice. If you read a recipe step-by-step and tried to visualise doing it, I bet you’d still over-estimate the time involved, especially where different stages of the process overlap (e.g. chop carrots while the pan simmers). Once you’ve made that recipe a couple of times, you get slick at cooking.

      Having a timer really helps, or a TV or radio in the background where the scheduling runs like clockwork (24hr news channel with a time display in the corner of the screen?) – I used to rely on BBC Breakfast to keep track of the day, demarcate the hours. I was able to train myself to perceive time more accurately by counting off things on my to-do-list in the time it took for the next programme to roll around.

      I can get a *lot* of things done in the duration of a 90-minute laundry cycle while I’m waiting for the machine to finish washing – the loading and unloading either side probably takes about 10 minutes, so on paper, it looks like a 2-hour task to wash and hang clothes, but it’s actually 20 minutes, split across 2 different actions.

      In terms of packing specifically – I keep a generic list of essentials that I can refer to on every trip (socks, pants, toothbrush, passport, phone charger, / remember to water plants, book a pet-sitter, etc.) Don’t reinvent the wheel each time – just turn most of the planning into a fixed procedure.
      I also keep a travel kit of toiletries – toothbrush, toothpaste, soapdish, shampoo & conditioner – all airport-compliant, pre-ziplocked. They live in the pocket of my one rucksack, and I just refill as soon as I get back from my travels, so they’re always there.

      It really helps that my wardrobe is quite limited. I don’t really accessorize or wear anything more complicated than trousers and a long-sleeved shirt of some kind, so I’m not agonizing over what outfits I’m likely to wear each day of my trip. Maybe having a few sets of pre-determined “travelling clothes” would help take some of the pressure off, if that’s part of your process?

      I streamline things in general (like only having black socks so I don’t need to match pairs), because my brain hates extraneous effort.

      I like to have the floor vacuumed before I leave, so I come back to a clean house, but it’s not necessary, whereas making sure the wet laundry is out of the machine is a must-do (and it can sit on the indoor drying rack until I return to fold it). I take out the kitchen bins, but the waste-paper basket isn’t going to stink out the house if I leave it.

      Don’t try to be perfect, just get yourself from A to B. There is no extra credit to be earned on day-to-day life.

    12. Chaordic One*

      I usually tend to be able to anticipate these things. I know they’re going to be difficult and take more time and have more steps than most other people think they will. (While I have a reputation as the “Debbie Downer” of the office, I’m generally good at logistics and things usually run well and smoothly when I’m in charge of a particular thing.) In my personal life I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by all of the details and effort that things are going to take, so I procrastinate, which makes things worse. There’s no such thing as a “reasonable” schedule for each task. There are always going to be things that you didn’t anticipate.

      That said, sometimes you have to NOT let the “good” not be the enemy of “perfect.” If it gets done and it isn’t perfect, that has to be good enough. “Git ‘er done” and don’t beat yourself up over it if it isn’t perfect.

    13. Samwise*

      Your expectations for yourself are not reasonable.

      It’s almost always going to be the case that things will take more or less time than you plan. Even for things you’ve done a million times.

      Optional stuff left undone: sounds to me like everything necessary gets done? Is the optional stuff * important *? What’s the worst thing that will happen if you go away with the optional stuff undone?

      I don’t think you’re disorganized or a bad planner. I think ** you are too hard on yourself **

    14. RetailEscapee*

      I got a formal ADHD diagnosis and meds. It’s the only thing that has changed my time blindness and issues with task initiation.

    15. Ellis Bell*

      I am so jealous that you so easily overestimate the amount of time something needs; my ADHD time blindness is unrelentingly optimistic about time needs. It took me years to plan extra time and budget time margins for unexpected stuff. It’s better to have more time and not need it, than need it and not have it! Plus your undone stuff is just optional extras you were going to do if your time margins were not needed. That’s called prioritisation and efficiency! Overall, I think you might be setting highly unrealistic goals for yourself. It sounds like you you want to foretell the future and your daily energy levels, estimate exactly how much time something is going to take, foresee extra tasks in daily life, to the minute, so you can squeeze in more to do items and get a lot more done than is actually strictly necessary. That means you want to be less realistic and moderate in your goals than you already are and to do away with your time margins? As for “tricking” yourself…where is the part were you deceived yourself?! There isn’t any trickery in your strategies, because trickery doesn’t work (that’s why setting your watch five minutes ahead of time doesn’t work). Your strategies: moderate planning and prioritising, actually do work. There are lots of nuerodivergent people who would love to have these strategies down, and get to the airport on time with all the essentials done. Something I have noticed about a certain type of competent person with good executive function, is that they are more aware of the stress and work involved in something. While they are often bewilderingly frazzled mid project (to me), I’ve noticed that this hyper awareness keeps them on track, and on time. The one good thing about my optimistic time blindness is I never stress about time running out because I can’t actually see it :). Even today, with my hard won organised schedule and to do list, I still don’t fret about time. I have learned to not schedule too much (put your to do list on a post it) and to to do what I can, in tried and tested routines, when I can. If I was to do too much or constantly try to improve how much I get done, I would feel very overwhelmed, procrastinate, and stuff would fall off the wagon.

    16. JSPA*

      I find that the packing takes a disproportionate amount of time, as does dealing with last minute bills and payments, as does hustling to make last-minute bookings or changes to trip plans. Mental stress comes from things that don’t have a backup plan.

      For the packing, what help me is,

      1. Use the same (or same few) suitcases or dufflebags, so I have a keen and ever-improving sense of what will fit.

      2. for 10 days or a week in advance, I set aside key items (as they come out of the laundry, or as I encounter them in my closet or drawers…or piles…) that I want to make sure to take along. And a box with secondary, “could take, if there’s room.”

      3. separately, I make a packing list of essentials.

      4. pack at least 3 or 4 days in advance (enough time to remedy if there’s not enough, e.g., hypoallergenic sunscreen).

      5. pack from the pile, what’s on the list; add to the list based on what’s in the pile. (This cross-check means you don’t forget that you need, say, both work-appropriate socks and running socks.) If, and only if there is room, add “nice to have” from the “nice to have” pile. (Also make sure you have at least one spare T shirt, 2 spare underwear, something for your bottom half, and two spare pair socks in the carryon).

      For the frazzlement of things that will be late if not booked / done / paid:

      Insofar as I have any utility bills or repeating bills that are not on auto-pay, I just pay them in advance (or set them up to go out, using a bank billpay system), and I do this starting a couple of weeks before I leave. This frees up time and reduces stress as the trip gets closer. (Turns out, it does great things for your credit score, to carry a modest credit balance on all your utilities. So, win-win.)

      For last minute plans and changes: A bit of time on google maps, or with a schedule for the local transit system, well in advance, is calming. So’s assuming that the trip itself is the adventure or treat or purpose enough (if for work); if you don’t get tickets for a performance at la Scala, you are still in Milan–and the Duomo is right there, and it is beautiful.

    17. Observer*

      I would really like to just make a reasonable schedule for each task and be able to feel like I got stuff done and got where I needed to go because I planned well, not because I tricked myself into being on time.

      In addition to the good advice you got, I think it’s worth keeping in mind that “tricking yourself” into something *IS* planning well.

  18. AcademiaNut*

    One of my job tasks involves setting detailed schedules for scientific work (using very expensive shared equipment in the most efficient way). One standard thing is to add a percentage for overheads – the time it takes to switch between tasks, or cross-check with the operator, or check that the output is reasonable. So we add together all the task related time, and then, say, multiply by 1.2 for a more realistic estimate of how long it’s going to take.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Ha I bet this was intended to be a comment on the question above about time management.

  19. Firebird*

    How do you decide how much to offer someone who is doing a quick job for you and won’t name a price?

    I need a piece of furniture brought up to the second floor and the maintenance guy in my building is willing, but won’t suggest an amount.

    We are using Google Translate to communicate, so I’m trying to not complicate things. I’ve never had to do this before, so I have no idea how much to offer.

    1. Still*

      How big and heavy are we talking? If it’s something he can do relatively easily in in under 1 0 minutes, I’d probably say $20 and see what he says. He doesn’t seem to have any idea either and it might be easier for him to give you a price once he has something concrete to consider. (This obviously varies by location so people might have a better idea about the exact amount, but basically: give him a number and let him counter.)

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s hard. I asked our maintenance supervisor to recommend someone to hang curtains, he offered to do it himself, he told me how much he charged. It was a little more than I wanted to pay but I trusted him and he just stopped by during his day and… did it. I was lucky in that.

      I agree with Still– it depends on how heavy the piece is and how long it will take. If it’s super quick, I would offer him $20. He may be reluctant to name a price because he doesn’t want to charge you– if that’s the case, be generous but unless it’s a really difficult job, you don’t have to go overboard.

    3. Sloanicota*

      I don’t know if this helps you, but I try to remember that giving money directly to hardworking people is probably the best form of charity because you actually know they’re getting it and they’re people in your own community! This is the attitude that’s causing me to tip a lot more than I used to lately. Money is tight for me but I can afford an extra $20 for a good cause. So if you end up thinking you didn’t get the best possible deal but it went to someone you respect, maybe you can think of it as a mitzvah.

    4. Not A Manager*

      If he won’t suggest an amount, that probably means that he will do it for whatever you offer him. At least, that has been my experience with building employees doing side jobs.

      The issue is, first, you want to be a fair human and second, you want to cultivate this relationship. Hopefully you don’t need him to be regularly available to help you with chores, but something is sure to arise within the next year or two that you need a hand with, and you want to have a good relationship with him and a good reputation with the other staff. With that in mind, I’d set a price that is more than fair but less than lavish.

      Some staff in my building don’t set any price upfront, they just do the job and you tip them. What I do is set a base price in my mind, have that amount in cash, and then additional cash in small bills. If the job seems to take a long time or get complicated, I can easily adjust what I’m paying.

      If you and he do set a price upfront, either be sure it’s a fairly generous price and stick to it, or set a reasonable market price and then if the job in any way seems heavy, complicated, etc. just add more and tell him why and how much you appreciated his help. Everyone likes to get more than they bargained for.

      I was putting in some figures of what I would offer, but these things vary so much by location. You’re better off asking your neighbors and friends what they pay for this kind of help. If you’re on a neighborhood app like NextDoor you could get advice there as well.

    5. WellRed*

      Stop over thinking it and offer $20. He’ll accept it (likely scenario) or counteroffer.

    6. Melissa*

      Twenty dollars may not seem like a lot, but it is several gallons of gas, or groceries for a couple of meals. If it is a one-person job that involves 15 minutes or so of work, I think $20 is reasonable. If it ends up being more work (he has to go find tools or whatever), double it.

    7. Firebird*

      Thanks, everybody. I’m feeling a lot more comfortable about it now. (I was brought up to never ask for help, so I’m not sure how to ask. Now I’m mostly away from that toxic environment and I’m learning that most people are actually nicer than I was raised to expect.)

  20. Sleepless in Seattle*

    My neighbor, with whom I share a wall, seems to be leaving his children (7 & 9 years old, I think?) alone at night occasionally. If the kids are the ages I think, this is illegal in my state, but also super irritating, as the kids will be shrieking and giggling and thumping around well past midnight. I am beyond irritated with this dude and need help with some neutral phrasing of how to say, hey, you probably don’t realize how loud your children are, given that you leave them alone inappropriately. Swear words somehow keep sneaking into my drafts…

    1. Vio*

      If you don’t know for certain that the kids are unsupervised it might be better to start out with just a request to keep the noise down rather than an accusation (or implication of one) of neglect. Ask for the request to be passed along to the babysitter (even if you’re sure there isn’t one) and go from there.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Agreed. The main problem is the noise. And frankly, 7-9 is old enough to sit tight and not burn the house down for an hour or so while the parent runs to the store or there is a gap in childcare coverage. Calling CPS should be regarded as one level higher even than calling the EMTs. Be absolutely 100000000% certain of what you see AND that your call will do any good at all before even thinking about that. Don’t go destroying a family with no evidence.

        This is a noise problem, period. All you have to do is ask the person to keep it down and then escalate it to the landlord if they won’t.

    2. sswj*

      Next time it happens, go over there in person and knock on the door. Ask to speak to the parent – if he’s there you can deliver your request right then, and if he’s not you have some concrete information to use.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        Hopefully the kids aren’t alone, but if they are they almost certainly are instructed not to answer the door. My kids are teenagers and I still tell them not to answer the door when I’m not home!

        1. sswj*

          If they don’t open the door, and a parent doesn’t come, that’s a pretty good indication that they are indeed alone.

          1. Time for Tea*

            I don’t answer the door if I’m not expecting someone and I’m 47. I don’t think I’d take not opening the door as evidence one way or another!

          2. Observer*

            If they don’t open the door, and a parent doesn’t come, that’s a pretty good indication that they are indeed alone.

            Indication, but far from proof. And if the kids know not to open the door, it’s a good indicator that someone is teaching them how to keep safe.

            I’m not a fan of leaving kids that young alone, but honestly, that’s not what is bothering the OP.

            The noise is a legitimate issue. But it should be raised by talking to the parent(s) about the noise rather than trying to get them into trouble and bringing in CPS.

      2. Observer*

        and if he’s not you have some concrete information to use.

        Use, how?

        I’ve been on record as being in favor of calling CPS when kids are in actual danger. But, to be honest, even if you can be SURE that there is no adult there, I don’t think that this rises to that level.

    3. I Lost the Mustard*

      In some states that would be a crime, child neglect. Google “child protective service YOUR STATE NAME.” Then call them and report your neighbor, if it’s a crime. In some states you could be charged with a crime for not reporting child neglect.

      1. Observer*

        Nonsense, the OP has zero legal liability here. This kind of over the top misrepresentation of the law does nothing to keep children safe or solve any problems.

        And it won’t even help the OP with the real issue, which is that the kids are making too much noise in the middle of the night.

    4. just another queer reader*

      This sounds really frustrating.

      Please don’t get the authorities involved over a noise complaint without knowing more information. There is a real risk of the state making things worse, not better, for this family.

      I agree with Vio – the best place to start is to talk directly with your neighbor and ask them to please keep the noise down at night because the walls are thin.

      In the course of this conversation you might learn more about their situation. To be honest, it’s very possible that the parent is trying their best in a tough situation (work schedule and childcare difficulties, etc).

      Final note: while I agree that 7 & 9 is pretty young to be home alone, please don’t rely on state law as the only factor in whether it’s ok to leave kids home alone. There’s so much more nuance that can never be captured by a catch-all law, and it does everyone a disservice to disregard the nuance.
      And for what it’s worth, Red Cross trains babysitters ages 11 and up.

    5. ShinyPenny*

      Anecdata from the other side of a similar door: A million years ago, I was a (very young) babysitter with no experience being in a multi-family apartment building. Honestly had zero concept about how noise worked in that setting. I’ll never forget the downstairs neighbor knocking on the door and very kindly educating me on the topic. I was pretty used to rage discipline, so I learned a number of amazing things that day.
      tl/dr: It might be easier to find neutral phrasing if you assume there is a sitter involved.

  21. Arya Parya*

    I’ve caught a pretty bad case of laryngitis. (I’ve seen my GP, so not asking for any medical advice.) This makes swallowing difficult. Do any of you know any easy to swallow foods? I’m mostly looking for savory snacks. Most snacks I can find are sweet. Also some meal options would be great.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m so sorry that’s happened to you! What can you swallow? (As in, how liquid does it need to be?) If you can handle polenta & rice dishes like risotto, those might be options.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks. An omelette is okay, soft boiled vegetables are fine. I can still chew, so something that needs a little chewing I can probably handle. Just nothing with sharp edges or too big.

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          I would make you shirred eggs with well-steamed vegetables. Maybe some polenta or mashed potatoes for a starch.

          I have found gnocchi to also be easy to eat with a sore throat.

    2. Vio*

      Mashed potatoes are a good option, there’s a lot you can do with them too. Mix in some mustard, or some paprika.
      For snacks I don’t know if you’ll have them where you are but over here we have a type of crisps called Skips and unlike regular crisps they’re soft and melt on your tongue.

    3. Madame Arcati*

      How about soup? Not too hot of course or you could get a cold one like gazpacho; a small portion sipped from a mug would make a nice snack. Miso or any made from a powder would be easy (lol just remembered how gwyneth Paltrow said she’d rather die than give her children a Cup-a-soup [this is a uk brand of instant soup, sachet of powder into a mug, add hot water from the kettle, stir] but even if you hold to her standards you could make an exception while you are ill perhaps)

      1. Arya Parya*

        Thanks. I definitely don’t hold her standard, so got nothing against cup-a-soup.

    4. KathyG*

      Just about any vegetable soup can be put through the blender until smooth.

      A cup of plain broth or buillion is quick & easy. It doesn’t have to be boiling hot, let it cool to a temperature you can tolerate easily.

      An old office-mate swore that sucking on a slice of raw ginger was her Mum’s cure for a sore throat.

    5. TakingNotes*

      After a severe case of laryngitis a few years ago I discovered that Pedialyte is substantially easier to swallow than water, amazingly. Also: for a while the only solid food I could swallow was mochi ice cream (matcha green tea flavor was the softest)!

    6. The Coolest Clown Around*

      Not a snack option but might help with the pain – here in the US at least there’s a tea called Throat Coat that was an absolute lifesaver when I had bronchitis. Obviously you’ll still have laryngitis but it made coughing and swallowing much less painful for me.

    7. Don'tbeadork*

      Yogurt too sweet? I find the coolness as I swallow soothing and then it kind of coats my throat a bit afterward.

      Got a blender? Make yourself a veggie smoothie.

      Egg salad? You could leave out the crunchy stuff. Potato, chicken, or tuna salad likewise, although those may still be a little hard for you to swallow.

      1. Knighthope*

        I mix fruit yogurt half and half with plain. Or buy plain and put in just a little preserves, etc.

    8. RussianInTexas*

      Cucumber yogurt soup. Not at all sweet, but cooling and somewhat filling due to yogurt.
      I like the one by Love and Lemons.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Smooth soups. Especially cold ones. I was dealing with mouth blisters a few years ago, and had spouse bring a bunch of soups from the farmstand.

    10. Jay*

      I never, not in a million years, ever thought I would ever have cause to recommend these for anything, but have you ever looked at some of those 1950’s style savory Jell-O dishes? Usually it’s unflavored gelatin of some kind, with meat and vegetable broths in place of water and other soft, savory ingredients suspended within.
      Also, look at things like mousse type foods. Usually I’ve seen these made with various fruits or seafoods, with salmon being, for some reason, the most popular.
      You could also try pâté of different kinds.
      There are plenty of fruits that would fit the bill.
      Oh, and avocado’s. Avocado’s sound perfect for what you would need/want.

    11. Not A Manager*

      When I have a sore throat, I really like egg drop soup. You can just make it with eggs, or you can add something like sliced shiitake mushrooms and soft tofu to make more of a meal.

      Here’s my recipe. It’s quite easy and takes 10 minutes. The only “special” ingredient would be toasted sesame oil if you have it, but you can leave it out.

      3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
      2 eggs
      4 teaspoons corn starch
      Sugar, salt, soy sauce, pepper
      Toasted sesame oil
      Other ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, sliced pea pods or sugar snap peas
      I like to garnish with cilantro and sliced scallions, but the scallions might not work for you right now

      Bring the chicken broth to a boil and season to taste. It should be slightly but noticeably sweet. I use about 1 tablespoon of sugar which does sound like a lot; add it 1 teaspoon at a time. Go a bit light on the soy because you also add that to the eggs.

      Make a slurry in a medium sized bowl with the corn starch and 3 or 4 tablespoons of cold water. Stir to completely dissolve the corn starch. Remove your broth from the heat and stir in HALF of your slurry. Stir over low heat until the broth is slightly thickened.

      Lightly beat the two eggs in the bowl with the remaining slurry. You don’t need the whites and yolks to be fully mixed. Add a big pinch of salt, a dash of soy sauce, and two good shakes of sesame oil (about 10 drops of oil). This should be a somewhat thin mixture, so add a few drops of additional water if necessary.

      Turn your broth down to a very low simmer and add the eggs in a slow but steady stream. Bring to a higher simmer and stir gently in one direction until the eggs are softly set and have separated into distinct strands. Garnish with cilantro and an additional dash of sesame oil, and sliced scallions if you can eat them.

      Add any other ingredients that you like to this recipe. Tofu goes in last, mushrooms go in after you season the broth for the first time, snap peas go in whenever depending on how cooked you want them.

    12. Nicki Name*

      If you can handle omelettes, get some frozen pot stickers and steam or microwave them. They’re savory and can be a meal (or you can throw a few into a pot with ramen to make a sort of dumpling soup).

    13. Arya Parya*

      Thanks for all the advice so far. I went with soup for lunch and will do a filled omelette for dinner. Hopefully tomorrow will be a little better.

      Unfortunately yogurt and such are a no go for me, being lactose intolerant.

    14. KEWLM0M*

      Macaroni & cheese, French onion soup, plain pasta with butter, ramen noodles, soft cooked eggs, ravioli.

    15. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I had an esophageal dilation a few months ago that made swallowing difficult for the first couple of days, and one morning I had the very very best breakfast wrap. A flour tortilla wrapped around scrambled eggs and pimento cheese. That would also work with a savory cream cheese, or just regular melted cheese.

      Shakshuka is good too, just not too chunky and let it cool down a bit. Eaten with a piece of challah, that’s a favorite soft meal.

      Snacks are tougher, but mashed potatoes are good, as is well-cooked white rice. You can try yogurt with olive oil, salt and lemon (leave out the lemon if citrus is tough for you). Oatmeal with an egg is good too. Add an avocado to any of that. At the height of my swallowing issues I basically lived off of avocados and scrambled eggs.

    16. mreasy*

      Eggs with avocado, mashed potato or sweet potato, maybe even very soft cooked beans or bean soups… I also always find plain yogurt (Greek to up the nutrition & protein) to be a good one when appetite is low too.

    17. Dicey Tillerman*

      My go-to foods for when my swallowing issues flare up:

      I always have packets of instant oatmeal in the pantry, and I’ll make it with more water or milk than it calls for. I’ll also stir in a spoonful of peanut butter.

      Plain pasta with butter and salt.

      There are little squeezy pouches of fruit/vegetables that are basically baby food, like a puree? (I can’t think of a better way to describe them.) They’re marketed towards kids, and are easy to eat. Or something like applesauce or pudding could work?

    18. Arya Parya*

      These are really great thanks. Avocados sound good. Mashed potatoes also. Tried apple sauce. Not great, too much acid. My throat did not like that.

    19. MaryLoo*

      Ramen noodle soup – the cheap kind in the little packet. Yes, I know it’s salty and not that healthy, but the hot salty liquid feels great when you have a sore throat.

      1. carcinization*

        Budget Bytes has a 15-minute Vegan Creamy Mushroom Ramen recipe that starts out with one of those packets (with the seasoning pouch thrown out I think) that might also work.

    20. The Shenanigans*

      Do you like applesauce? I’ve found the cinnamon applesauce pouches to be a godsend for sore throats. What about other softer fruit like grapes or oranges?

      If you have the means to make smoothies, those can be ideal. And you can set the sweetness however you like.

      Plain yogurt with some honey in it could also be good, and again, you can add as much or as little sweetener as you like there.

      I hope you feel better soon!

    21. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Would something like the TastyBite lentils pouches work? Not sure if the lentils would get “stuck” since they’re not pureed. The Costco I shop at has them, and they’re shelf-stable microwaveable pouches of lentils and sauce. I usually pour them over rice, but there’s no inherent reason you couldn’t just eat them with a spoon from the package. They are pretty bland, and I’ll often add some spices to them myself, but bland might be a plus in your situation.

      You could also get a carton of a pureed soup and microwave it a mug at a time for snacks/small meals. I used to do this with tomato soup on trips when staying in a hotel with a fridge and microwave.

  22. Getting into gaming?*

    this may sound an odd request because I am not really sure what I am asking. But – how would I get into gaming? I’m in my 50’s, not techy at all – I play solitaire, backgammon and other silly phone games but nothing else. I knew of games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto etc that didn’t interest me at all. But I watched The Last of Us and for the life of me couldn’t see how it was based on a computer game – it’s a story! And then I read reviews of other games, and thought they looked so interesting. Proper stories, with characters! Maybe I am missing out on things I would enjoy? But I have a MacBook and and iPhone, and a TV, no gaming equipment – I’d buy something cheap and secondhand maybe. But I wouldn’t know where to start. Any ideas? or am I too late to the party and should I stick to reading actual stories and playing solitaire?

    1. Snell*

      I mean, I just left a wall of text about Stardew Valley in another thread up the page. And ohhhh yeah, The Last of Us!!! Love it (the game, know of but haven’t seen the show). Hearing about the show definitely called me back to when it was released, the hype, the experience of the first time playing it, etc. You were surprised that a story could be based on a computer game, but that’s due to your own ideas of what computer games are/can be. From my POV, I honestly wondered what a Last of Us TV show would be. Would it just be the whole game, depicted in live action? That didn’t appeal to me at all, so I didn’t watch the show. In truth, I don’t actually know if the show is the game in live action, or if it’s an alternate universe-type story, or if it’s an entirely original story that borrowed heavily on themes from the game.

      But to your question, there are loads of story-driven games, if that appeals to you. They span lots of genres, so you don’t have to be boxed into shooting zombies if you don’t want (or if you do). Some games are straight up primarily about the story (see Life is Strange, Beyond: Two Souls, basically what Telltale Games is known for most at this point), some are shooters with story elements (Last of Us), puzzles with story elements (Portal et al.). Most RPG video games. Stardew Valley, which I mentioned earlier, has story that you can choose to pursue or ignore as is your liking.

      But, well, while I absolutely love both Stardew Valley and the Last of Us, they’re very different games. Games that follow (a) storyline(s) are so many and varied, so maybe I should ask you what type of stories do you like? Maybe I could make some recommendations from that.

      1. Getting into gaming?*

        thank you! I just looked at your post about Stardew Valley and quickly googled it, and yes thats exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of. I’ll look at the other ones you mention. In terms of stories, I do like fantasy, alternative world stories, not particularly into shooting and violence (obvs I have disproved this by liking the Last of Us!). Thats so interesting to me, that you can’t imagine a TV show of the Last of Us and I can’t imagine a game…

        1. Snell*

          Well, it’s not that I can’t imagine a TV show, it’s that I can’t imagine liking a TV show as much or more than the game, in which case, why bother watching, right? Like, the story is outstanding, so what would a live-action reenactment bring to the table? That it “looks better”? Even though the Last of Us was first released on a platform that, at the time, was not at the hottest, most cutting edge, the game itself was absolutely gorgeous anyway. So my feelings were something akin to how shot-for-shot movie remakes get criticized into the grave, you know? If I’ve already played the game, do I need to see the show? Unless it’s an entirely different plot, my answer is “no,” and even if the show has a new story, I’m still enthusiastically satisfied with the original game experience.

          Anyways, a short, easy selection of games to get you started:
          • Undertale
          • To the Moon (lots of crying)
          • The Walking Dead by Telltale Games—I know Cosmic Avenger mentioned Telltale in general, but this is the one I’m going to push. There is violence, but also lots of crying (by me)

          Games that don’t strictly fit all your criteria, but I enjoyed:
          • Bioshock (all 3 games, I am a fan. You might be, too. There is graphic violence, but about as much as the Last of Us.)
          • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (note: for the most part, the story is not uplifting)
          • Ib (Fun. Fun fun fun. Of its kind, it’s one of the best.)
          • Corpse Party series (Maybe the name should tell you something about the content. But if you’re into that, I recommend.)
          • Amnesia: The Dark Descent (First in a series, but this one’s still my favorite of them. Dark content. I may have a theme going here.)

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I have the same strong preference for story-based games with an emphasis on exploration and puzzles that aren’t time-based, and I’ll second the Life Is Strange series, along with Twin Mirror, Tell Me Why, and anything Telltale Games for humor, like Tales From the Borderlands, Monkey Island, and Sam & Max. Oh, and Portal and Portal 2 are hilarious, too.

        1. Snell*

          +1000 on Tales from the Borderlands, it’s so entertaining. If the OP ends up moving on to higher-performing machines, I’d also say to take a look at the rest of the Borderlands franchise (starting with Borderlands 2, naturally).

    2. elvie*

      It’s never too late to get into anything! I’d say look for a few games that you might want to play which came out a while ago (Last of us came out in 2013 I think so that’s a good example), they are usually cheaper, then look at what you need to play them (console, PC ?). I play on PC but it can be expensive to get a good gaming computer (though older games can be played on cheaper machines), for older consoles you can probably find them secondhand. As a first step, you can also ask around (friends/family), maybe someone has a game/console that you can borrow and see if you like to play and what kind of games you like to play. As for where to buy, on PC you can find a lot of games on Steam and GOG (GOG has a lot of older games and good prices). There are definitely a lot of possibilities :)

      1. Getting into gaming?*

        ah yes that makes sense – find the game and then find the console. I don’t think I would want to play on PC, I’d prefer to sit on sofa and look at TV – sitting at a PC feels too much like work! But more naive questions, sorry – so, each game, let’s say The Last of Us, only works for one kind of console, by which you mean Xbox, Nintendo? or is it a matter of getting the right version? See, I really am clueless!

        1. Hlao-roo*

          Some games can be played on multiple consoles, some games can only be played on one. Last of Us, as an example, was made by Sony so it can only be played on PlayStation (the Sony console). Call of Duty, as another example, can be played on PlayStation, XBox, Windows PCs, and some Nintendo consoles (depends on which Call of Duty game you want to play–the Wikipedia page for Call of Duty has a chart with a handy breakdown of which game can be played on which console).

          The version of the console also matters. Generally, a game made for an older version of a console (let’s say PlayStation 4) may be able to be played on a newer version of the same console (PlayStation 5). But a game developed for PlayStation 5 won’t be playable on PlayStation 4.

        2. history geek*

          Some games (mostly nintendo games these days) are exclusive to one system. Otherwise it’s just a matter of getting the right version. If you buy it digitally from the console’s game store, it’s impossible to get the wrong version.

          I think you should look at a genre called cozy games or more story driven ones, since that seems to be more what you’ll be into.

    3. Irish Teacher*

      If you have facebook, there are some games on that that you could try out without needing anything new. I’m a fan of Criminal Case, which despite some continuity and other problems, has a pretty good storyline.

      Basically, the player character is a detective, solving various cases. And a lot of the arcs have a bigger storyline, like maybe one of the investigative team is corrupt and that doesn’t become obvious until the end.

    4. Workerbee*

      Look up Skyrim, and also Elder Scrolls Online.

      The former is just you, interacting with a whole dynamic, gloriously-rendered fantasy land.

      The latter is the same realm, except you are now among other players! Except you can totally still play it alone, you don’t have to engage with anyone or turn on chat or anything.

      And there are infinite tips and walkthroughs out there for both.

      Playable on Xbox, Playstation, and a computer.

    5. just another queer reader*

      I’ve heard that Stray (it’s about a stray cat) is really cute.

      1. recently searching*

        Stray is a *fantastic* game, and it is cute. You play as the/a cat, and the controls can be a little bit of an adjustment. Be warned, it also has some horror/post-apocalyptic elements, at least to me. I still loved it though!

      2. Anon. Scientist*

        Stray is actually not an easy game to play. Granted, I’m not good at platformers but I’m a reasonably active console/PC gamer and I would definitely not recommend as a starter game.

    6. Blue*

      There are also lots of great phone games you can download for free or for just a few bucks. I’ve been really into the free game Tiny Bubbles on my Android phone (there is probably an iphone version too, if that’s what you have).

    7. beep beep*

      Given that you’d like to play on a TV, the best thing to do is probably buy a secondhand older console. A PS3 or PS4, or an older version of an Xbox maybe. There are a couple critically acclaimed games you might like- Journey, Unravel, if you like puzzles, maybe Myst. There’s also a genre of game called a “visual novel”, where you make choices in the game that affect what characters do and say while (usually) hitting most of the same main plot points (A lot of them are romance, where you can date multiple characters, but not all). Most of those are for PC, but you can get them for consoles as well. Good luck! There are some truly amazing games out there :) If you find you don’t like playing games or find a game too hard, in this age of the internet you can almost always find a playthrough on YouTube, with or without commentary.

      1. amoeba*

        Yup, would second a PS4! Should also still have quite a large selection of games to chose from, as there were a ton of supply issues with the (current) PS5 until recently, so they kept releasing PS4 versions. I think this is now finally resolved, so games coming out in the future will probably be PS5 only, but for starting out, it should be great!

        As for games: I’d look into (Fantasy)-RPGs – The Witcher series and Dragon Age: Origins, for instance, are some of my favourites. Loads of story and character development! (And you can set the difficulty to “easy” starting out to just enjoy the story and not get killed too much!)

    8. Jay*

      What are your hobbies? Because, odds are, there is a game of that, too, and that can give you a nice place to start. For instance, I love to fish, but, at least this year, either I’ve been busy or it’s been raining every single weekend. So I’ve been playing Ultimate Fishing Simulator. I’ve got friends who are really, really into Dungeons and Dragons. Well, they’ve got thousands of similar games available for every system imaginable.
      There are games that are playable novels.
      There are gardening simulators and, maybe, the very best Star Wars stories of all time.

    9. curly sue*

      You’ve had a lot of suggestions for getting started on the tech side, but one game I can suggest that I thoroughly enjoyed for the story-telling and mystery aspects was Return of the Obra Dinn.

      The premise is simple – you’re an insurance investigator for the East India Company in 1807, and a ship has been found without any (living) crew on board. You have a tool that lets you see brief moments back in time, but not interfere with the events. Figure out what happened.

      It’s a small game – about 8 – 12 hours of gameplay, depending on how fast you are at solving logic puzzles – has a low price and very simple controls. We got the version for the Switch, but I believe it’s available for PC as well as XBox and Playstation. My whole family found it incredibly compelling.

      1. Nicki Name*

        Return of the Obra Dinn is an amazing piece of interactive fiction, and the only thing I can say against it is that you shouldn’t pick it for your first game because just about anything will be a letdown afterward.

    10. Jackalope*

      My personal favorite story game is Fire Emblem Three Houses, which has a very interesting story line (although it does also have unavoidable combat as a part of the story). It’s set in a fantasy world and the graphics and characters are a lot of fun.

      One caveat about *how* to get into gaming that I will mention: many games these days have multiple difficulty levels that you can choose. If you’re brand new to gaming then I’d recommend when you have the option always pick the easiest mode, at least until you figure out what you’re doing. Skyrim for example (one of the options mentioned above) has a sliding scale as to how hard you want the fights to be and you can change it at any time. When I’ve played my Fire Emblem Three Houses game (there are three different teams, or houses, you can join and each have different story lines so it’s set up for replays) I’ve always gone for easy mode and casual setting (meaning that no characters die for real, they just retreat). If it’s a new game that you aren’t familiar with, seek out the easy play option and your life will be much simpler.

      Another quick game that I played recently and enjoyed: The Forgotten City. You end up in an ancient city with a mystery to solve about why the city is like it is. I enjoyed it a lot, and the entire play time isn’t that long.

    11. KatEnigma*

      If you aren’t the type of person who is good at playing those kind of fighting games, or doesn’t want to buy the equipment (secondhand gaming equipment is seldom cheap) but want the story, you can always watch other people play on livestream/recorded live stream. I’ve watched my husband play Last of Us, and the Uncharted (my favorite), Batman, and Assassin’s Creed series. That kind of thing goes back to the very early days of gaming- back when the games were just text based, my husband played a game where the story line was written by a best selling author.

    12. kina lillet*

      Not late to the party at all! A few thoughts…

      It will take a little while to learn how to play a game. Like, from the point of view of “which buttons do I press, anyway?” and also from “what does it mean for my little character to step on spikes and how bad is that?”

      This isn’t an old person thing, it’s a new to games thing. There are a lot of genre conventions and so on that can be pretty tough to pick up on when you go in cold. I’m not saying this to scare you off—instead make sure you experiment and play and don’t worry too much if you’re a little baffled. Also don’t hesitate to google how to do something in a game.

      Now what games to play? What things to buy??

      Your first stop could be getting Steam—this is an app that will handle buying, downloading, and launching games on your computer. It will download the right version for you and should tell you if iOS isn’t supported.

      You should also be able to find a Playstation 4 for OK prices around now. This will hook up to your TV, and it too will have an online store you can buy games from.

      Uncharted could be a fun game to start with—it’s a series of adventure stories, that’s very cinematic and focused on carrying you along in a story.

    13. I take tea*

      I’m not really a gamer either, but there is a lot of interesting games nowadays. One that I actually got hooked on was Gorogoa, a sort of puzzle game where you shall collect apples. It has for squares and you can zoom in and out to make them fit together and get to move around. I really liked the aestetics in it, and there was no time sensitive things, which is a big stress for me.

      I played it on a PC, it should not require especially much of the computer. It was either on Steam or GOG, probably Steam.

    14. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      One thing you might try, just to get a sense of what’s out there, is to watch videos where people livestream games that they’re playing. A website that a lot of people use for livestreaming is twitch dot com, although there are others.

      It’s pretty easy to just start watching a stream, and then bounce around watching different people playing different games to get a sense of what kinds of games are out there. (Different streamers have different “personalities” as well as play different kinds of games, so it may take a little while for you to find a group of streamers who both play things that look interesting and do so in a way you find watchable. Some will have gimmicks like trying to finish games as fast as possible or with various added challenges, which probably isn’t helpful to you as you’re trying to figure out what kind of games you might like to buy.)

      Watching streamers helped me discover that the hidden object puzzle games that I used to play on a touchscreen at the local bar have kind of morphed into inventory-object puzzle adventure games with little storylines that I can buy to play at home, and I plan on getting into those when I have more spare time.

  23. Madame Arcati*

    Does anyone else have issues with this website refreshing/reloading at random because of some kind of unspecified problem? It wouldn’t be an issue as it’s quite quick but the amount of times I’ve typed a comment and then the page reloads and it all disappears…maddening! I don’t think it’s me; my Wi-Fi seems fine and it doesn’t happen on any other web pages. I’m using Safari on an iPad (or sometimes iPhone).
    At this rate I’m going to have to start typing out my pearls of wisdom into a note etc then copy pasting them as a comment so I can press go before they disappear!

    1. Past Lurker*

      I was having issues similar to that and I think it was being caused by an ad. I reported it and it stopped the issues. The link to report issues appears above the “leave a comment” box. But I kind of knew which ad was causing the issue since it kept bouncing around the page. Last weekend some of us were seeing odd shapes and shades but that also went away.

    2. Workerbee*

      This has been happening to me at least once a week for awhile! I most often just decide my comment wasn’t necessary rather than retyping it. :(

    3. TechAnnoyances*

      Yes! It was much worse on my phone but still happens periodically on my tablet (both android).

    4. Person from the Resume*

      Yes! Occasionally. So frustrating when my long comment gets eaten. But it’s random enough I can’t point to anything in particular. It feels like an ads reloading the page problem though.

    5. Joanne’s Daughter*

      I have an Ipad Mini and this happens constantly with Safari on most of the sites I visit, not just this one. It’s a real pain.

    6. ShinyPenny*

      I’ve finally (mostly) trained myself to ‘select all’ and ‘copy’ periodically as I’m writing a reply. The most critical time to do this is right before I try to post it, because that’s usually the disaster point for me. Then if it gets eaten during the process, it’s not actually lost– I can just ‘paste’ it back into the comment box and try again.
      I *think* the problem happens less when I close out the whole page periodically and reopen it? Data unclear on that. I kinda assume it has something to do with how many comments there are on the weekend thread. So I’m ok with it, because the weekend thread is really enjoyable and feels like a weekly AAM bonus gift!

  24. Long time lurkey first time turkey*

    I’m looking for advice on how to maintain friendships with people as our lives diverge.

    As I move into my 30s, I’m having a hard time staying connected with some of my childhood friends in very different life stages. This group of friends is mostly still in my hometown and getting married, having children, making strides in their careers, buying houses, etc. On the other hand I’ve moved away to an expensive big city and am single, renting with roommates, and back in school for a career change. These are lovely people who I deeply care for, who hold similar values to me, and with whom I had many years of shared experiences. We were able to maintain our friendships in our 20s.

    However, I feel our friendships diminishing and I just….find it increasingly difficult to know what to talk about when we chat or to do when I visit in person. I’m sure this is partly due to distance, our sporadic meetups, and the fact that my friends are busy people with young children! I’m ok with the nature of our relationship changing, but I’d love to maintain a connection because I really cherish these awesome people. Has anyone successfully navigated this type of situation? Any advice for staying connected to busy friends from a distance?

    1. Madame Arcati*

      I’ve been there and to be honest some friendships will fade, but plenty can be maintained. My top tip is to make an effort to set down when you will meet up or even call each other because it’s so easy to say, oh we must catch up soon, and neither of you gets round to it and suddenly it’s been ages. So when you say that, or when you think oh I’ve not seen Jane for a while, get your diary out. Message them (busy people with small kids can then respond when little jimmy has stopped trying to smear jam on the dog etc) saying hey, I thought it would be nice to catch up, do you want to come over/get coffee/let me pop round with a bottle of wine one evening? Offer some dates for them to pick from.
      Or, let’s have a chat to catch up, when would work for you? One evening after your kids are in bed? Or you could call me from the car while you wait for susie to finish at gymnastics?
      Agree a date and time, and stick to it. This is what I have done with several friends. None of them live in my town.

      1. Jackalope*

        I would add that as someone who went through a similar experience – single and watching my friends slowly start having kids – I strongly recommend being willing to do kid-friendly stuff if you are at all okay with that. For example, I had a lot of luck meeting up with friends and their kids at parks where we could sit on benches and hang out while the kids played. Or doing nature walks that are short so the kids can do them but are enough for you to get a chance to chat. One of my friends who was the first peer I was close to to start having kiddos expressed her frustration to me that so many of her other friends weren’t understanding of how much her life had changed and weren’t able to be flexible in ways she could manage as a new parent. That really affected my decisions going forward in terms of being open to kid stuff (and 2 decades later I’m still friends with her and the others around that time mostly aren’t so I feel it was worth it).

        (Since you specifically mentioned kids I would also recommend the following: buy a small box of toys and a handful of picture books – thrift stores are great for this – and have them as an option for friends with kids coming over. The excitement of new-to-them toys will often keep the kids happily occupied for a pretty decent amount of time.)

    2. Still*

      This is hard! Here are my thoughts:

      1) People who I’m still friends with are the people who make it easy to make plans together. It doesn’t have to be often, they don’t have to reach out first, but when I say “hey, I’m in town, wanna meet?” or “hey, want to get on a video call and catch up?”, they’re the ones that make it easy to set a date. Focus on those people, and be that person.

      2) This sounds silly, but when I talk to someone I don’t get to see very often, I will take brief notes about key things happening in their life: they’re about to move to a new apartment, their boss is being annoying, they’re trying hot yoga. It makes it so much easier to have things to ask about the next time we talk, and I don’t end up asking them to summarise their whole life every time we talk.

      3) If possible, try to always set the next time you’re gonna talk. E.g. I have a friend I only talk to a few times a year, but we always finish the call with an “okay, it’s June so I’ll see you in… October?” and when October comes around, we’ll reach out and set up a call. Knowing that you’re going to see someone is important to maintaining the sense that you’re still in each other’s lives. It’s the uncertainty that kills a friendship.

    3. Morning reader*

      I like sharing a show with a friend. It gives us something to talk about besides each other’s lives, or whatever’s in the news cycle (which can leave us both stressed.) currently project runway, we chat the day after and discuss the designs and contestants.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Like the song says, make new friends, but keep the old. I’m single and childfree and I live in the big city. If I tried to use my married kid-having friends as my main social outlet, that would be terrible for me – I’d feel awful all the time, they’d be waay to busy to meet my social needs, and we’d probably burn up in a ball of resentment. During the little-kid stage, people are just going to disappear on you a bit. My friends are only interested in having me drive to their houses and sit in their living rooms while their kids scream – I’m sorry, but that’s literally all they have capacity for right now. I will do that sometimes because I’m there for them and I love them, but I need a bigger social life. In a few more years, things will change. I can wait. Meanwhile I work hard to make single friends without kids who like to go out and do things in the same way I do.

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

      I wouldn’t look at these friendships’ “diminishment” as something permanent, just a natural dip that happens when your friends have children. I have been through this and come out the other side with friendships reasonably intact.

      When my close friends who lived far away had kids, I kept calling them but accepted the fact that all our phone calls were going to be interrupted and end fairly soon, at least until their kids were about 5 years old. After that, it got considerably better, and now that their kids are adults or teens, we can have lots of good catch-up time.

      When I visited them, I also accepted the fact that when the kids were little, we were going to spend a LOT of time playing with the kids. That wasn’t bad, even if it wasn’t where I was at in my own life. There’s something lovely about having a little kid cuddle up to you when you’re reading them a story. And again, now that my friends’ kids are older, they have their own lives, and they also understand that my friends and I might want a little alone time.

  25. Elle*

    And Just Like That thread. This season is pretty bad, right? Both episodes released made me angry.

    1. dear liza dear liza*

      I turned it off halfway through the first episode. Watching rich, older, monogamously paired folks is pretty darn boring.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The show is terrible. I VERY rarely say that, because I think most programming has validity for someone and in some way. But the show just sucks. Will I watch it? Of course I will. Mostly because a) I’m just comparing it to SatC, and b) I like the production design. Oh, and I adore Evan Handler. But the writing is super lazy, the plots are a stretch. And they brought Tony Danza into this cesspool!

    3. Elle*

      I’m not saying it’s bad out of nostalgia for the old show. It’s just a very poorly made series. The writing, acting, and everything else is bad. They seem to hate the characters and there’s too many of them. Nothing happens and everyone is stupid. I’m not sure if I’ll move forward with it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That’s how I felt about Sex and the City. I tried, but I just couldn’t get into it. Everyone seemed like an asshole, and not in a fun, Seinfeld kind of way.

        1. Elle*

          I loved Sex and the City when it came out. I was a single woman in my early 20s in NYC. That’s why this version of it makes me mad.

    4. Chaordic One*

      I was worried it was just me being old and crabby but, yeah, it’s pretty bad.

      1. WellRed*

        I wonder why, when they could have just let the show rest on its successful laurels so to speak, they are instead making a show that’s poorly made or bad. I still plan to watch.

        1. Chaordic One*

          On the one hand, these were characters that we loved and we vicariously lived our fantasy lives through them. It is nice to catch up with old friends and see what they’ve done and what they’re doing now. On the other hand, it does seem like everyone involved in the show is kind milking it to squeeze the last drop of money to be made from the franchise before they’ll let it go. It’s sad.

          1. Ali + Nino*

            “t does seem like everyone involved in the show is kind milking it to squeeze the last drop of money to be made from the franchise”

            Ding ding ding, you got it

        2. Roland*

          You answered your own question – they made it, and then made another season, because people are gonna keep watching it.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      I’m having fun. Yes, the new minoritized characters are total tokens and it’s so cringe / clumsily done, but I need something to watch that doesn’t give me anything to process or think deeply about.

  26. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

    Does anyone have a family member who complains about eating leftovers for dinner?

    I live with my parents. My mom and I take turns making home cooked meals. Each meal we make is enough to feed three people at least one night, but a lot of times we’ll have enough leftovers for an additional 2 to 3 nights. (Which is obviously awesome, because then we have to spend less time planning, buying, preparing, and cooking food.) It’s a good variety of meals since me and my mom don’t cook any of the same recipes. Generally, if we make X Recipe, it’s something we won’t make again for weeks or months. If there are leftovers, we space them out with other meals to make sure we’re not having the same meal two nights in a row.

    My dad thinks we should be making a fresh dinner every night, and that he should able to eat all the leftovers for lunch. I won’t bore you with examples, but suffice it to say there are a lot of complaints when we have leftovers for dinner, and it’s aggravating. Last night, he thought we were having leftovers, and he told my mom he was going to buy himself food to eat. She was said, “Okay, do what you want.” Then he got mad at her because she was cooking a fresh meal and she should have told him so he didn’t have to buy takeout.

    We keep asking him which nights he’d like to be in charge of buying dinner (he doesn’t know how to cook), but he hems and haws and won’t commit to anything.

    I assume most adults don’t act like this, so does anyone have kids who complain about dinner? How did you stop the complaints?

    1. Chestnut Mare*

      Just assign him nights that he is responsible for dinner. He’ll figure it out.

    2. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

      edit: The meals make enough for at least one night, and sometimes an additional 1 or 2 nights. (My post makes it sound like it’s usually 3 or 4 nights from one meal, but we get 1-3 nights out of each meal.)

    3. Workerbee*

      Is it worth it to just…not entertain his complaints or give space to them? People like that don’t often realize their alleged head of household/rule the roostness bluster is built on acceptance by everyone else. Of course, this will take a united effort by you and your mom plus unpicking decades of learned behavioral responses, so I ‘m not actually suggesting this blithely!

      And “doesn’t know how” just gets my back up on your behalf.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        My grandfather used to say that if you can open a can of hash, you can cook dinner. (He was actually an excellent cook.)

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I do about 90% of the cooking in my household (I’m better at it, more creative, and I enjoy it more than my partner does). I love leftovers and my partner does not. He’ll sometimes eat them for lunch, but he’s just not a fan. I don’t think I’ve served leftovers for dinner in a while. But if I don’t feel like cooking or I’m out of ideas, either he cooks or we get delivery.

      If Dad doesn’t like it, he can pitch in somehow. He’s in charge two nights a week. If that means pizza or canned soup, so be it. But if he doesn’t contribute to the work, he doesn’t get a say.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I’m glad you recognize that your dad is acting like a kid.

      For my picky eater, I try to make something she usually likes a couple of times a week. But that’s no guarantee she will want it on the day.

      I make what I make, and then let her make herself a PB&J or scrambled eggs or something like that if she doesn’t want what I made. Your mom’s response of “suit yourself” is perfect.

      Thing is, this isn’t about the food. You can tell because of the things that make him mad. This is about him wanting the women to cater to his whims.

      Was he a mama’s boy? He sounds like it. He may need to have it explained to him that this is not his Mama’s house. It sounds like your mom has decided to ignore his tantrums. I advise you to do the same.

      1. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

        “Was he a mama’s boy?”

        LOL!!! YES!!! My mom actually told me his mother would make him breakfast, lunch and dinner every day until he moved out, so that’s what he expects from us.

        My mom used to make him breakfast and lunch, but he had complaints (I was too young at the time to remember what the complaints were exactly), so she stopped doing that. He has a favorite meal that she used to make, but she stopped making it at all because he kept complaining she didn’t make it often enough. I’m not sure why he expects complaints to get him anywhere.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Okay, so this is a long-standing issue in your parents’ marriage where they are both being kind of passive aggressive about it instead of communicating openly. There’s a difference between your mom addressing his attitude and telling him what she is or isn’t willing to do, and just being reactive.

          Stay out of it. Do not try to manage their relationship. You can tell them both that they need to talk to each other like grownups instead of making you the grownup who has to deal with their petty power struggles.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      One thing: if he wants to eat the leftovers for lunch and someone (your or mom) is telling him no because you want to serve them for dinner, I am more sympathetic to his concerns. Not to his approach and adult temper tantrum, but the underlying issue. Maybe the three of you can have a conversation about that. If that’s not the case, I would grey rock this. “Yup, leftovers. OK, then you do you.” No engagement with the complaints and no emotional reaction. Basically I would treat him the way I treated my kid when she whined – minimal necessary response to content, no response to emotion, flat affect.

      Doesn’t seem like your mom would go for this, which makes sense – from the dynamic you describe I suspect she has put up with his mishegoss for however long they’ve been married and she feels responsible for pleasing him (extrapolating from my parents and the early days of my own marriage. I got over it). So you’d have to talk to her first. If you and mom can’t present a united front, then I’d ignore the comments up to and including walking out of the room when he starts up.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree, the lunch thing seems important. He probably doesn’t understand that lunch is an easier meal to “throw together” (sandwiches and snacks are good most days, or soup) and that by eating the dinner-plan, he’s making more work for you because dinner is harder to throw together. Not that I think he’d be particularly sympathetic if you explained it, but I could imagine knowing there’s a lasagna in the fridge, being hungry for lasagna at lunch, and being irked by being told I can’t eat it because I have to eat it later when I’m less inclined for it. No real sympathy for him though, just wondering if having him be in charge of making lunches he likes (that are not the leftovers you are planning on for dinner) or something would make a difference.

        1. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

          We had to tell him he couldn’t eat leftovers for lunch without our permission because he’d eat so much that there weren’t enough leftovers for dinner when we we planned for that. (If there aren’t enough leftovers of a meal to provide dinner for three people, we let him know he can eat those though.) Neither my mom nor I want to be making a fresh meal every night just so my dad can have leftovers for lunch.

          My mom used to prepare my dad’s breakfast every morning, but she stopped decades ago because he would complain. She used to pack him lunch for work every day too, but stopped that because of complaints.

          He complains about there being nothing to eat in the house and how he isn’t getting enough to eat. But we keep lots of breakfast foods stocked, like bagels, muffins, waffles, eggs, breakfast sausages, pancakes, bread for toast, cereal and milk, etc. We have lots of lunch foods like fruits, things to make sandwiches, frozen pizza, canned soup, etc. We ask him what kind of foods he’d like that would be easy for him to prepare, but he can’t think of anything. He really wouldn’t be happy unless someone was preparing all his meals for him. Which isn’t going to happen.

          1. Sloanicota*

            There’s just something weird about this to me; I know men who refuse to eat leftovers (which hey, your preference is your preference, but you have to then take on the work of that, not make your partner constantly produce whole new meals) but he actually does want to eat this food, and lots of it, for lunch? I think I’d probably be inclined to let him do that, and then just swap whatever was the lunch plan for dinner – it won’t kill anyone to have sandwiches or soup that night. Maybe his biorhythm is off or something. However, he does sound very unpleasant so you certainly have my sympathies.

            1. Still*

              He wants to eat the food for lunch because otherwise he would have to come up with his own lunch. If he eats the leftovers for lunch, he still expects to get dinner that night. It just sounds like he’s trying to avoid making anything for himself. He’s trying to trick the women in the household to provide him with an extra meal.

              Actually, you might be onto something. Good Cook, what if you divided the food into three separate containers, one per person, and told him that you’re not cooking that day but he’s free to eat his portion of leftovers whenever he wants. But you’re still having the leftovers for dinner, and he still has to come up with another meal for himself, be that lunch or dinner. I’m sure he’s gonna complain about it as well, but it might make the situation a bit clearer.

              1. fairy twinkletoes*

                I like this. Here’s your portion of X. Eat it when you want & you’re still responsible for your other meals.

          2. Still*

            I’m tired just listening about it. I’m sorry, it sucks for you and your mum. It sounds like your mum is already good at drawing boundaries: he complained about breakfast, he stopped getting breakfast. He complained about lunch, he stopped getting lunch. I’m not sure what he thinks is going to happen when he keeps complaining about dinner…?

            What I would do is stop trying to solve it for him (asking him what food to buy etc.) You’re putting energy into trying to solve the problem when you already know he’s determined to be unhappy. Cook as much as you want, have the leftovers for dinner when it makes sense for you, and let him be the grumpy old man that he clearly wants to be.

            1. Camelid coordinator*

              I do wonder what would happen if someone named the pattern for him and he had to face that he might have to make all his meal! Anyway, your comment makes me laugh because this did happen to my hubs as a teenager. He and his sister complained or made fun of his mom’s cooking too many time and she just stopped. They were on their own from there on out. I mostly like planning our meals and doing a lot of the cooking and the hubs knows to be appreciative and that sometimes I am going to take a break.

          3. Ellis Bell*

            I do actually really like to have ready to eat food in the fridge: stuff like sausage rolls, Spanish tortilla cut into wedges, quiches, cold pork pie and chicken pasties. I mean sometimes I’m really busy mid day and hunger sneaks up on me, so I literally just want to grab something out of it with one hand. But, your dad doesn’t ever make dinner and occasionally making himself a sandwich (or, god forbid, make you one) to support yours and your mum’s efforts in getting you all fed in the evening, is not too much to expect.

    7. Lynn*

      It sounds like this behavior is pretty entrenched, so make it boring for him/his problem.

      Him: “Leftovers complain!”
      You (cheerfully): “Yep! I’m pretty sure there’s cereal in the pantry if you’d rather that”.
      Him: “You should make new food instead!”
      You: ::shrug::

      Another useful phrase (I use this with my kids) if the cycle continues or starts to seem antagonistic: “I love you, but I don’t have a different answer for you”.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “I love you, but I don’t have a different answer for you”

        Lol, this reminds me of my own, “You’re asking very nicely, but the answer is (still) no.”

    8. Sloanicota*

      My mom solved this not by asking him which night he’d like to buy dinner, but by simply declaring she was not cooking dinner on Friday nights any more and people were on their own. She would eat crackers and cheese (and half a bottle of wine) but not prepare anything extra for others. Another option is that your mom and you leave the house at dinner time one night a week or more, perhaps taking a class or hitting the gym or whatever. Miraculously, it turned out my dad was perfectly capable of preparing food or going without.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Sounds like Dad needs to be in charge of cooking for awhile, or just not included in the meals you and Mom prepare. He should be incredibly embarrassed to have made it to adulthood without cooking OR social skills and grateful he has people regularly providing for him since he’s apparently helpless.

    10. LeftoversForLunchOrLeftoversOnlyForLunch*

      It’s not clear to me – are you telling him not to take any leftovers for lunches or that if there are leftovers remaining at dinner the next night you’re going to have them for dinner but he would prefer to save them for additional lunches? Because those are very different things. The first is normal; many people use leftovers for lunch the next day. The second is not normal and asking you to do extra work. Either way obviously you need to come to some agreement that works for the whole family (and they buying food instead of having leftovers for dinner is genuinely odd), but I see a difference in reasonableness between the two

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I don’t really understand the distinction you’re making. It’s normal to eat leftovers for lunch if that’s what the cook intends, but it’s not normal to eat an entire family’s dinner as your personal lunch while never contributing!

      2. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

        He can’t take any leftovers for lunch if there’s enough to have another meal, because then we are planning for that to be a second night’s meal. If there aren’t enough leftovers for another night’s meal, then he can eat those.

        What would happen when he was eating leftovers was: New meal on Monday, and we plan to have the leftovers on Wednesday. But since dad ate the leftovers for lunch on Tuesday and Wednesday, there isn’t enough to have dinner on Wednesday. So then my mom and I end up having to prepare a lot more meals.

    11. Not A Manager*

      Have you had a conversation with him about the household system, and asked him to help solve the problem? What I’m seeing is, you and your mom don’t want to cook a fresh meal every night, you plan for and separate out the leftovers to eat again, your father mostly respects that (he doesn’t sneakily eat them all when he’s been told not to), but he regularly complains and acts surprised when it’s leftovers night.

      What about if you laid this all out clearly? “Dad, in this house there are two cooks and you are not one of them. No one is making a fresh meal every single night. We know this bothers you, but unless you’re planning to cook or otherwise provide dinner sometimes, that’s the way it is. How can we all make dinners more pleasant when there are in fact leftovers?”

      One option would be to give him a heads up every time there will be leftovers, and offer him the same simple options each time. He can make his own meal from the ingredients you have around – like a sandwich or scrambled eggs – he can order a meal for himself or for all of you, or he can eat what you serve and not make a fuss. But maybe there are some other options and I think you should give him the opportunity to help come up with them.

      He sounds like a guy who is willing to accept reality but likes to complain about it. You and your mom might think of a simple and concerted backup plan for when he does inevitably sit down to eat with you and starts complaining. I’d suggest that you both pick up your plates and tell him you’re going to watch a movie in the den and he’s not invited. He doesn’t sound purposely horrible, just a bit grumpy.

    12. Jay*

      Okay, first off, it sounds like your dad is being an ass.
      That’s the problem, start to finish, and I’m not sure what the remedy is, other than just ignoring him.
      But it sounds like the real sticking point is that he wants that nice, home cooked meal for lunch, not dinner, and he enjoys a really big lunch.
      Assuming that there are not health concerns here (AKA, dad did manual labor all his life, burned 10,000 calories a day, but now has a desk job/is retired, and if you let him eat all he wants/all he is used to he will eat himself to death in six months) then there might be a solution that could work.
      It’s an old single person’s trick.
      There are kinds of foods that you can make up in huge batches, very cheaply, and with little effort that, none the less, are very much home cooked meals and taste fantastic. Things like chili (brown your ground beef, fry your onions, then throw that and a bunch of canned/dried veggies in a big pot and remember to stir it every couple of hours, takes about 45 minutes of real work), big pans of chicken parm (cheat all you want, with deli sliced cheese and jar sauce), or, my current obsession, roast pork shoulder. You can get pork shoulder for about three to five dollars a pound. Rub it all over with a store bought spice rub, stick it in a bag or wrap it in plastic, and let it sit in the fridge over night. Then stick it in a roasting pan (with a rack in the bottom to let air circulate) in the oven at 250 and forget about it for the rest of the day. Heck, if you are making a big one, put it in before you go to bed and let it cook all night. For about 15 minutes of real work, you get days and days of the most tender, flavorful, delicious pork you have ever had. For bonus points, you can use that pork to make dozens of different meals, from just pieces of pork, to tacos/burritos, pulled pork, soups and stews, and anything else you can imagine that benefits from really tasty pork.
      Give dad free reign to eat all of that he wants and leave the regular dinners alone. He gets his huge, home cooked lunches, and you get left alone, with, maybe 30 minutes a week of extra work. It’s not ideal, and he’s still an ass, but it buys you some piece and quiet cheaply enough. Bonus points if you are making the large batch meals that you and mom actually like more than he does ;)

      1. Still*

        I really don’t think the solution is for the OP and their mother to do even more work to cater to Dad. And from what the OP wrote above, it sounds like Dad is going to complain unless he gets three warm meals a day cooked exactly the way he likes them, so I doubt that any peace and quiet would actually be achieved.

        1. I Am Actually A Good Cook*

          Yeah, I appreciate doing big batches of food for like Jay suggestions (it’s sooo nice when I can make a meal where there’s enough for three nights dinner, especially thick soups in the winter), but I don’t want to make extra food for my dad’s lunches. It’s one more thing for me to plan, buy, and prepare. Aside from the time/energy required, it’s more mental load to make sure there’s something premade for his lunches.

          My mom has a specific thing she likes to eat for lunch everyday (because it’s healthy and easy for her), and I pack specific things for lunch at work (things that don’t won’t get funky if I don’t use ice packs and that don’t need to be microwaved). So I wouldn’t really be able to make things that we would benefit from too.

      2. My Brain is Exploding*

        I was going to say this but you beat me to it! People are going to say “you shouldn’t have to do that,” but this seems like a quick, easy fix if that’s what you are looking for. I would also plan for one regular night a week to eat out/carry out if that’s in your budget. Also, can you rope him into helping a little? Like, “Dad, we’re going to make a big pot of chili for you for lunches this week….if you will chop the onions.”

    13. Double A*

      In my grandma’s house, the rule was that if you complained about the food then you would be responsible for making it.

    14. Generic Name*

      Treating your dad, a grown (and presumably able bodied and of sound mind) man like a child is the exact opposite way to handle this, I think. Stop asking him which nights he’d like to cook. You can sit down as a family and everyone decides which nights they will be in charge of dinner. Presumably, your dad will choose zero nights. That’s when you and your mom say, “X and Y nights everyone fends for themselves”. If your dad wants freshly cooked entrees those nights, he can figure out how to cook himself (or the family) something. If I were you I would strategically plan to not be at home those nights. You go out with friends, study at the library, heck, go out to dinner just you and mom. Anything that gets you out of the house so you don’t have to listen to his mantrum.

    15. Healthcare Worker*

      What do you usually eat for lunch? it sounds like he’s not upset about the leftovers, but about fixing something for lunch. Have you discussed that aspect? Maybe more lunch options will help the situation.

      1. carcinization*

        The OP states this above: “We have lots of lunch foods like fruits, things to make sandwiches, frozen pizza, canned soup, etc. We ask him what kind of foods he’d like that would be easy for him to prepare, but he can’t think of anything.”

    16. Unkempt Flatware*

      What an interesting dynamic to read about. I grew up in an abusive home where my parents stayed together far too long so my approaches to these things are almost opposite of what I find others would do. The second my father complains about the food being served to him would be met with a very swift admonition of, “keep your opinions to yourself” and a shaming tone would be cast over the rest of the dinner. I don’t even know how I would maturely handle this because of how terrible our relationship has become. The last time I invited my father over for dinner, he said something critical, and I said, “what a stupid thing to say” and told him to leave.

      Do you have the sort of relationship where you can flat out tell your father he’s being rude and childish? That he owes the two of you an apology?

    17. Samwise*

      Dad needs to pipe down and cook his own damn food.

      You and mom can go on strike. Go out for dinner a few nights in a row and let him fend for himself. Nobody ever died from having to eat cheese sandwiches every night.

      Or on leftovers days, just set out two plates. Tell dad, we know you don’t like leftovers for dinner, so you can fix something that will make you happy.

      I’m serious here. He’s a grown ass man who should be appreciative that someone is cooking for him. Unless he has dementia and really can’t help himself, I say set boundaries. Old does not mean unable to learn and unable to be polite.

    18. Hangry for Chicken*

      Is the issue a “fresh dinner” every night or not having something for lunch? Assuming you enjoy cooking, maybe you should cook even larger meals, so there is enough for both lunch and another dinner? For example, I cook two chickens at a time even though we are a small family. Dinner 1 – Roast Chicken. Lunch – chicken salad. Dinner 2 – pulled chicken with BBQ sauce. There is usually a second lunch also from that initial meal.

      If you don’t like cooking, just let him take the leftovers for lunch. And then when there is nothing for dinner the next day, tell him he needs to bring home some take-out.

    19. Knighthope*

      Your situation reminds me of a scene from “Everybody Loves Raymond” that goes something like this:
      Ray: Lemon Chicken???? AGAIN???
      Debra: What did you make?
      No great advice to share, but sending sympathy to you and your Mom.

    20. Person from the Resume*

      I’m sorry that your dad is an ass and immature sexist man-child who cannot feed himself. This is apparently a long standing issue in your parents’ marriage since your mom stopped making his breakfast and lunch and his favorite meal out of spite.

      I know you’re an adult in this home pulling your weight (unlike your father, the jerk), but I partially think you should stay out of this particular battleground of your parents marriage. Tell your dad he needs to figure out his own lunch and up quit whining every time he complains. Also consider telling him to grow up and stop acting like a child.

      Really your dad comes off horribly in this story.

    21. MM*

      I have no ideas how to stop the complaining, but how to stop him eating the leftovers that are intended for another dinner, what I did when I had a house full of teenage boys/young men –

      Freeze them if they can be frozen. Most leftovers can be frozen, and it will kind of hide the leftovers from him.

      If they can’t be frozen, I would use a sharpie and write on the Saran Wrap, or a piece of masking tape on the container Do Not Eat.

      If one of them ate it still – well no dinner was made that night at all.

    22. Camelid coordinator*

      It sounds like there are a few things going on here. Sadly you won’t be able to stop his complaints, just how they affect you. What is most annoying here? It sounds like it might be having pull off dinner with your mom every single night after you work a full day and having your careful menu planning inconsiderately upended.

      Your dad sounds like someone who thinks of food as something ready for eating right then and doesn’t think of ingredients as the possibilities for a meal. (Like when teenagers say there is no food in the house and the bread, peanut butter and jelly is sitting right there.) In your shoes I’m not sure I’d be up for complaints about lunch AND dinner and might let the leftovers go unless I wanted to eat them (in which case I might try the freezer trick above and put them on the menu for the following week). Instead of having Monday’s leftovers be Weds dinner he could have the lunches (hopefully quietly) and then Weds is lunch for dinner with the canned soup (or heck, breakfast for dinner), whatever is easiest for you and your mom. Good luck!

    23. The Shenanigans*

      My parents just said that dinner is dinner and I can eat it or not, but that’s all that is available til morning. I usually ate my dinner.

      This is even easier cuz Dad is an adult. Tell him what dinner is. If he wants to eat that, he will. If he doesn’t, tell him he doesn’t have to, but he cannot complain about it. Figure out what consequences to attach if he does complain. This can go from walking out of the room whenever he starts to potentially always getting his own dinner.

      I say this as someone who tends to have a visceral reaction to leftovers. I don’t whine if that’s what my roommates are having, though. I simply make something else, or I don’t eat. Your father needs to learn to do this, too.

    24. Observer*

      I assume most adults don’t act like this, so does anyone have kids who complain about dinner? How did you stop the complaints?

      Once they were old enough to make themselves something (pretty young in my household) it was “If you don’t like what’s on the menu, let whoever is cooking know by x:00 and make your own.” It worked pretty well.

      I made sure my kids all knew their way around a kitchen as soon as it was safe for them. And I was also OK with them making a tuna sandwich or grilled cheese for supper.

      I’m with the others – assign him one night to deal with supper. He can order in if he wants, or he can learn to cook something.

  27. The Coolest Clown Around*

    This probably isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but unfortunately this is a Him Problem, not a You Problem. He has options in this situation so that he could eat fewer leftovers, but he doesn’t want to do the work or spend the money and it’s easier to just hassle you about it. It’s worth having a real conversation about how frustrating this is with him if he’s the kind of man who would be willing to hear you out on it. If he’s not, the way to get the behavior to stop is to make conversations about leftovers a) very boring and unproductive and/or b) more work than just figuring it out himself. Keep your answers short and boring, and immediately change the topic or end the conversation.

  28. Sundae funday*

    Any newer serialized podcast recommendations?

    I’m a long-time podcast listener. Right now, I’m into serialized runs- think 5-10 episodes that tell a story. Examples: the early seasons of Serial; the Manson murders from You Must Remember This; Floodlines from The Atlantic; the Chameleon; Bad Blood; Slow Burn; Gimlet’s The Habitat.

    I’ve definitely listened to more than that, so I’ll ask for ones that came out in the last two years.

    Other preferences: good audio/engineering; good editing to minimize off-topic chatter. No murder/assault/violent true crime. (I’m fine with corporate crime takedowns.)

    Google can find me tons of possibilities, so I’d appreciate a focus on ones you would personally recommend. Thank you!

    1. Jay*

      Well, there is Behind The Bastards, an amazing, hilarious, often enraging, podcast detailing the lives of the worst people in history. These range from Henry Kissinger to Vince McMahon and everyone in between. You get a description, and, usually, a warning if it’s going to be something truly horrific. Personally, I consider the six part series entitled “Vince McMahon: History’s Greatest Monster” to be, perhaps, the high point of Western Civilization. Also, their episode on Action Park still remains my favorite single podcast episode of any kind ever.
      Then there is Lions Led By Donkeys. It’s a fascinating military history podcast focused on the greatest military blunders of all time. It’s also equal parts fascinating, hilarious, tragic, and horrifying, sometimes all at once. Be sure to look up the episodes on the Bob Semple Tank, Mad Jack Churchill, and Tarare.
      A friend at work recently clued me in to a podcast called “Flightless Bird”. It’s a sort of sub-podcast of another podcast called “Armchair Expert Umbrella”. It’s about a New Zealander who gets trapped in the US over Covid and just decides to live here, now. He details his first encounters with all of the strange and bizarre things in the US. Mostly, all the cute, adorable little animals running about all over the place who want to viciously murder him. Also Florida. SOOO much Florida. So far, it’s been pretty great, with the Rabies episode, in particular, being an absolute treasure.
      “Monster Talk” is a fantastic podcast that uses monsters and monster related things to discus science and philosophy. You learn a lot and have a great time doing it.
      Then there is my old favorite “Hysteria 51” which is, basically, Mystery Science Theater 3000 for the Paranormal set. It’s wonderful. There’s no other way to describe it. It’s hilarious, fun, educational, and, above all else, just plain WIERD.
      Hope this helps.

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Have you tried Stiffed a podcast about the rise and fall of Viva? ( warning it’s about a porn mag.)

    3. Amey*

      The two I can think of are both Serial adjacent: The Trojan Horse Affair and The Coldest Case in Laramie. The latter is about a violent crime, in a similar way to the first season of Serial so might not be your thing (not really mine either).

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      For non-violent true crime, have you tried The Missing Criptoqueen yet? That’s how I got into podcasts in the first place, and there’s still a possibility new unexpected episodes may come up as the investigation evolves.

      Others on missing people cases I enjoyed after that: Death in the Ice Valley; The Evaporated; Deep Cover: Never Seen Again.

      I also liked the first season of The Dream, about pyramid schemes, though I couldn’t stick with the second season about wellness.

    5. Lady Alys*

      “Doomsday Watch” (put together by a former UK Foreign Office person) has a recent series about the Ukraine War.

    6. Yoli*

      There’s a podcast about school segregation in New York. Season 1 is on Brooklyn, season 2 on Queens. School Colors!

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      American Scandal (Wondery) does short seasons on really interesting topics. Right now it’s about Purdue Pharma and OxyContin. I think it is similar in tone to Bad Blood.

    8. BadCultureFit*

      I liked Fed Up, which Casey Wilson narrates. It’s funny, weird, kind of low-stakes, yet filled with drama.

    9. Person from the Resume*

      Queer Serial (S1 called Mattachine) starts with the history of the first homophone (gay rights) organization The Mattachine Society and eventually moves onto the LGBTQ rights.

      Extremely well researched, one narrator but he gets friends and family to read letters and quotes from historical records and adds in some sound effects. It’s a very high quality audio show.

    10. Observer*

      Business Wars is nice. It’s ongoing – every 4-6 weeks is a new series. Some are better than others, or course, and some of the stories are more interesting that others to different people. Like I skipped the one on the wine makers, but other would probably find it fascinating. Land of The Giants is a similar set up, but about a single business, mostly about tech related firms.

      I’m listening to SpellCaster about Sam Bankman Fried. Very interesting stuff, and you don’t need to understand anything about crypto.

  29. Lynn*

    Kitchen remodel cost/Things you learned!

    I realize I’ll get a wide range here, but looking to see what all of you spent on kitchen remodel. Useful info with the dollar amount would be: full or partial remodel (maybe flooring stayed the same, for example. Or only half the appliances were replaced), did you do some or all of the work yourself/paid someone to do it.

    Related: what would you do differently if you had to do it over again, or what were some things that surprised you about the process that you think would help someone else?

    Thank you!!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      5 years ago in the Midwest, I had all cabinets pulled out, repainted, and replaced with new cabinets and countertops. No flooring changes or plumbing (aside from unhooking the sink/dw and putting them back in the same places), no wall changes. I paid about $1800 for the new cabinets and $2000 for the labor to have the old ones removed and hauled off to the ReStore and the new ones installed, but I did the painting myself in between :)

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      7 years ago in mid-Atlantic – not a major metro area. Replaced the work triangle – an L of cabinets that contains all the appliances. Had already redone the other half of the kitchen years before and didn’t touch that (pantry cabinet, peninsula between kitchen and dining room). Replaced everything except the stove and dishwasher. Cost about 45K for new cabinets, counters, fridge, flooring, backsplash, microwave, stove hood.

      What I would do again:
      – Get drawers for lower cabinets wherever possible – our pots and pans are stored in two deep lower drawers. MUCH MUCH easier than having them in cabinets.
      – Luxury vinyl for the floor – cheaper, warmer, and softer than tile, easier to deal with than hardwood (we are slobs) and because it was large tiles was easy to install on our not-quite-level floor without expensive repairs to the subfloor.
      – Stock cabinets with wood fronts and MDF interiors to save money. Also on the saving front: inexpensive stainless steel sink that the counter guys threw in for $100. And a regular free-standing/countertop microwave on a shelf rather than a built-in or pull-out microwave.
      – replacing the microwave over the stove with a real honest-to-God range hood that is vented outside. We cook a lot. When we moved in the microwave/”vent” wasn’t vented outside. It recirculated air into the kitchen. We had a permanent grease stain on the ceiling. It was DISGUSTING.
      – run the cabinets all the way to the ceiling. We had to in order to vent the range hood and I wanted to anyway – I like the look, I appreciate the little bit of extra storage (we only have 8 foot ceilings) and I really like not having the dust/grease accumulation on top of the cabinets.
      – splurge a bit on counters and backsplash. Gorgeous granite, small tumbled marble subway, with a backsplash that goes all the way up to the cabinets.

      What I wish I’d done:
      – spend the money on a high-end faucet, not a Home Depot/Lowe’s fixture. My husband just replaced it for the third time (so four faucets in seven years) with a fixture that cost twice as much and is clearly much much much sturdier.
      – Spend a little more on a fridge. We bought the least expensive one that fit in the space we had and I hated it from Day 1. Finally replaced it last year and I am much happier.
      – Figure out some kind of pot lid storage – we’re still trying to find a good solution.

      Honestly that’s all I can think of. I still love the look and function of our space. Enjoy!

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        I very much agree on the countertop rather than built-in microwave! Everyone I know with a built-in has had issues with it breaking and how expensive and time-consuming it was to repair or replace. Meanwhile, I’m still using the countertop microwave I bought for my dorm room 20+ years later, and if it breaks I can probably get a new one for under $100 and the same day I decide to go shopping for it.

        My mom’s kitchen cabinets have a nice open-front cubby (with an electrical outlet at the back) for a countertop microwave above her wall oven. It’s bigger in all 3 dimensions than a microwave, so it still gets enough ventilation to use a countertop unit in there, but it keeps the microwave off the counter and in a contained, raised space like a built-in would. I’ll probably get something similar in my kitchen if I ever re-do the cabinets, although my wall oven is higher up than hers (and I like it that way – having an oven that’s basically at countertop height is wonderful) so I’d need to find some other spot for the microwave cubby.

    3. Elle*

      I’ve done this twice. The first time it took over six months because the contractors used a cabinet person that was unreliable. Going forward we made sure to ask around and use people that are recommended to us with specific examples of good customer service and being reliable. This is not a project you want to go cheap on if possible. The kitchen is a high traffic area with a lot of wear and tear and repairs get expensive.

    4. Jopunzi*

      Northeast, just finished. 46K. Full remodel included: new tile floor in kitchen and adjoining mud room, taking out the wall to the dining room, adding a window to get more light, new cabinets (ikea, put them together myself to save cost), new countertop (dekton – adore it; also got a stainless steel sink for free from the countertop guys), new induction range, new range hood, full tiled backsplash. Kept the fridge and dishwasher as they still had life in them.

      I also got only drawers in my base cabinets- love it, so much more storage. Ikea has great hardware IMO, the drawers all run like a dream.

      Only thing I would do differently is the contractor:), not that that helps you. What surprised me: how much adding a really cool lamp added to the look. Splurged a little and got a 500 dollar wood design lamp from etsy – took forever to get here, but now my kitchen looks like a design showpiece :).

    5. Not So Little My*

      Full remodel going on right now, quoted between $110 and $150K. We live in South King County (just outside Seattle) and the higher quotes were from companies that work in Seattle and the lower quotes were from contractors that work mostly in the southern suburbs.

    6. Generic Name*

      Bosch dishwashers are the only dishwashers I’ve used over the years that actually clean dishes well. Every other brand washed poorly and then broke after a few years.

    7. Doctor is In*

      We had linoleum replaced with heated tile floors. If you walk around in sock feet or barefoot it is wonderful.

    8. TX_Trucker*

      I had a GC tell me that a full kitchen remodel should cost the same as “you” would spend on a car. Depending on your budget and lifestyle, that may be a used Toyota or a new Porsche. I thought it was ridiculous advice, but turned out out accurate for me.

      Lessons learned: Drawers for the lower cabinets are fabulous. And the quiet self closing mechanisms are even better. I derive lots of enjoyment from my fancy cabinet knobs. Having a narrow cabinet to store cookie sheets and baking tray is nice. You need more outlets than you think. And if you are a big coffee or tea drinker, a permanent nook for these supplies is nice, especially if you have fancy cups and tins to display.

  30. Travelling With Dog?*

    I have been trying to think of getaways I could do with my dog and I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions on this. I should preface by saying my dog is not easy – he’s 85 pounds and of a nervous disposition and not very dog-friendly. But, he loves car rides, and he likes to walk new places. I wanted to try him with camping but I’m intimidated by the idea of what I will do if he’s barking and upset all night. Maybe a dog friendly hotel or motel would be easier. I know there’s apps to locate them, I’m more just curious to hear people’s experiences, things to watch out for, tricks and tips to help it go smoothly.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There are several hotel and motel chains that are dog friendly– Red Roof Inn, La Quinta, and Kimpton hotels don’t charge dog fees. Others might charge a fee.

      Our dog is a great traveler, both to cities and rural locations. We like to find places for long walks/hikes that are dog-friendly. BringFido dot com is a good resource, especially for dog-friendly restaurants. Breweries tend to be really dog-friendly. You don’t say what area of the country you live in– a lot of suggestions are dependent on that. If you’re dog is good in the car, then you’re halfway there– find a destination and take him!

      When I’ve traveled alone with my dog, the biggest hurdle is dealing with what happens when I have to use the bathroom and he can’t come with me. I do have to leave him in the car for short periods of time when that happens. Windows cracked, park in the shade, plenty of water. If it’s super hot I just don’t venture too far from where I’m staying so I avoid leaving him alone altogether.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Since La Quinta was bought out, most do have dog fees and some have weight limits, and any dog they deem “aggressive” will be asked to leave.

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Breweries tend to be really dog-friendly.

        Depends on what type of “not very dog-friendly” he is, because there are usually other dogs at dog-friendly brewery. Ignores other dogs and just wants to be near his humans? Bring him along to the brewery! Will bark at other dogs? Let him stay at home. (Not a dog-owner, but I have witnessed a few barking matches between unfriendly dogs at breweries.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Good point. My bud is great as long as he’s next to us, and while he has his moments with other dogs, I have a good handle on what triggers him. We tend to go to places where it’s more people than dogs.

    2. KatEnigma*

      I don’t think you’re going to like my answer.

      But as the owner of a Rott mix who is 85 lbs, who doesn’t even have a nervous disposition, but who is sometimes reactive toward other dogs- just don’t. We have traveled with her, and she loves camping- because she’s got a calm disposition (the 16 lb nervous dog once tried to break out of the tent when he heard coyotes!) and we could usually choose campsites where she didn’t have a direct view of other dogs. She loves people. But at hotels, you have to go through the hallways and lobby. And sometimes, even though she’s ALWAYS leashed (short leashed and next to us in public areas) and 100% under control of usually my husband, if she even so much as barks at another dog, because she’s 85 lbs and “scary”, you will be asked to leave certain hotels. Even “dog friendly” hotels. (Looking at you La Quinta in OKC) And how much enjoyment would an anxious dog get from being out of his usual surroundings? Take him on day trips maybe, to national or state parks that allow dogs on the trails.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this as well. We have an 80 pound Cur who is a great dog, but can be nervous and has a short fuse with other dogs. It’s just not worth it to ruin a whole trip and the worrying/stress can take the fun out of it as well.
        We just take our big boy to local trails and such to keep him occupied and exercised.

    3. Sundae funday*

      VRBO/Airbnb could be the answer. You can use a filter in the search box to limit to ones that allow dogs. We took our last dog- champion car traveler, not so friendly with other dogs, large breed- to a number of cabins and beachfront cottages. She wasn’t one to bark, but by having stand-alone rentals, we didn’t have to worry about the occasional ‘woof’ disturbing neighbors.

      We took her on walks around the neighborhood or beach. She was crate trained and if we left the rental, she’d hang out in her travel crate. We never left her for long though; if she came on vacation, it was very much a ‘let’s all kick back and chill together’ time.
      Travel tips: Think of things you can bring to make the place feel familiar to your dog. In addition to the travel crate, we had a dog bed we used at home. If I brought it with us, she always knew it was a ‘safe’ place to go sit. Very good for places that didn’t want dogs on the furniture! We brought her food and favorite treats, and kept to our usual routine in terms of meal time, play time, and treat time

      I have really fond memories of traveling with our pup; hope you can make it work for you!

      1. KatEnigma*

        How did I not think of this, despite the fact that above mentioned dog is going with us to the beach next month, as she’s too old and infirm for the doggy hotel the others love. Our Airbnb is 3 houses from the beach, and completely fenced in and dog friendly.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Many state parks have rustic cabins. That might hit the sweet spot between camping and motel. Reserve America website and check “cabin” to find them.

      1. KatEnigma*

        Normally, those rustic cabins don’t permit dogs, even ones in otherwise dog friendly parks. They also usually require LONG lead times for reservations. Like 6-12 months, depending.

      2. Loves libraries*

        Most of the state parks in Georgia have some cabins that permit dogs. A few in Alabama do as well. North Carolina and South Carolina don’t permit dogs in any of their cabins. I’ve had better luck with VRBO.

    5. I travel with an anxious dog*

      I have an anxious dog who LOVES car rides and hiking. We stayed in a dog-friendly hotel once, and she barked a lot—lots of new noises. However, hotel staff told me most dogs do that and not to worry about causing a disturbance.

      A vacation rental in a good hiking area is a great trip for my dog. She is more relaxed than in a hotel. She’s well behaved on day hikes, but I don’t let her interact with other dogs. When people ask I say, “she’s a rescue and is still anxious around kids/other dogs.” Most people are understanding. Do watch out for the occasional fool who lets their dog wander off lead and doesn’t intervene when their dog harasses yours.

      I’ve done a lot of dog training with professional help because my dog’s past life created big fear issues. The commands and routines help when we travel. She sleeps in a crate at night so bringing that and her bedding is like a piece of home. When we arrive at the rental, I walk her through all the rooms on lead and alternate between a training routine with treats and breaks for her to sniff the new environment. I stick to the same routine we have at home as much as possible. I do several training practices with her during the trip.

      I also bring a lick mat and peanut butter. My vet said licking helps ease anxiety and recommended the mat. Plain yogurt is also good; freezing the mat first makes it last longer. I recommend using the mat at home multiple times first—so it’s not another new thing and to make sure your dog won’t chew it.

      The main thing I try to remember is that new settings and experiences take their toll on an anxious dog and to not push her limits. Better to cut plans short than set her up for failure. You know your dog best so look for signs that he’s getting stressed/fatigued and stop short of overwhelming him.

  31. Jazz and Manhattans*

    Thanks to all who offered suggestions on things to do in Switzerland! We had a great time and appreciated the options. We’ve travelled internationally before but I learn new things each time about how to better travel and I would love to hear people’s tips on the best things they do when they travel from packing to keeping sane with all the things to do. I will start it off: I *loved* using Lume as my deoderant on this trip. I grabbed the lotion-type bottle and put some in a tiny container. What a savings in room and I really tested the product out (yes it works!). We kept with taking laundry detergent in a travel bottle and rinsed our clothes when we needed to – this way we travelled with carry-ons and didn’t have to check bags due to extra clothes. One thing new to this trip – I bought a smallish plastic container so I could buy things at the supermarkets and not worry about them getting crushed (e.g., chips/crisps). Loved it as I didn’t want to waste the bag I bought but couldn’t eat it all. What have you done that saved you time/space/money when you travelled?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      We try to get AirBNBs or other accomodations with a washer for longer trips, so we can reduce the clothes we pack. We did a 6-week trip with 4 outfits this way – multiple countries, not all with washers, but one every other stop did the trick. I also found these pocket detergent thin paper things for sink laundry.

      We have these compression bags for clothes that work well.

      For things that we may need that take up space, but aren’t positive we’ll need, we’ll skip buy on site.

      We have travel bottles that we fill for certain things.

      Where possible, we combine things. For example, one hairbrush, one electric toothbrush base (our own toothbrush heads), etc

      Biggest thing really is the clothing, though. Next is “will I actually need this?”

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Wow, the paper clothes soap sheets – I have to remember that! What a great idea!

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Compression packing cubes for clothes – I can travel with a carry-on for anything under ten days or pretty much anything if I can do laundry. Just did a three-week road trip with a roll-aboard sized suitcase. Did laundry twice. (Full disclosure: we stowed hiking boots in the back of the car, so they didn’t have to go into the suitcase)

      From that trip and a two-week trip to Europe last year: pick one or two activities for each day that will take no more than six hours total (YMMV – that’s my preference). No rushing from place to place. That way there’s flexible time for exploring or hanging out or napping or whatever. Expect travel to take longer than you think it will no matter how you’re traveling.

      Agree about buying snacks at supermarkets and love the plastic container idea.

      I have a large tote that I use for my books, laptop or iPad, cable/charger holder, and anything else I will need while traveling. I can also fit a crossbody purse or collapsible/compressible backpack purse in the tote. It’s my personal item on planes – fits under the seat – and gets put in back of the car where I can reach it from the passenger seat when we drive. My only quibble is that the one I have doesn’t have a strap that allows it to go over the handle on a suitcase – I’ve been looking for an equivalent that does, but I’m picky. I want it to be the same size, have a zipper on top, and be able to stand on its own.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        The hiking shoes did give me grief as to if I wanted to pack them but I did and make sure to shove as much as I could in them so they weren’t empty and didn’t take up that extra room. I made sure to use them! I always travel with my backpack and have a purse that lays flat so that when I travel everything goes into the pack and when I’m at the location I have a purse to use for the day.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      When we went to Iceland, I packed a small insulated bag that is flat when not used. We stayed in different rentals and they all had fridge/freezers. So we froze bottles of water (have to not fill completely…or drink some if it’s new so they don’t explode) and brought lunches with us each day. We’d stopped at a grocery store and bought meat, cheese, bread, etc.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Grocery stores are so much cheaper and nice to use! Good place to find a nice bathroom too!

    4. Knighthope*

      I no longer drag a heavy suitcase down from the second floor and back up. I load several laundry baskets in my bedroom with clothes and trip needs. Suitcase is filled on a card table on the first floor, with now empty laundry baskets underneath. After the trip, dirty laundry goes in basket to go to the laundry room and travel accessories, toiletries, jewelry, etc. go in another basket to go upstairs.

    5. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If you want to be able to do both laundry and dishes, but don’t want to pack both kinds of soap, you can get concentrated camp soap that works for both (and also for cleaning yourself if you’re backpacking through the woods and really motivated to only carry one kind of soap, but if staying in hotels rather than camping that’s probably not needed). For car trips I’ll usually pack separate travel bottles of laundry soap and dish soap, but if I’m taking a bus/train trip with just a backpack and no checked baggage sometimes it’s worth it to get down to just one tiny bottle.

      I also really like my Sea to Summit collapsible bowl for not taking up much space if I want to eat meals in my hotel room. The bottom doubles as a cutting board if needed, although I don’t actually use that feature since I don’t travel with the kind of knives that need a cutting board. (This would probably be more useful backpacking.) You can also get collapsible cups (and even a shot glass) that nest in the bowl. Definitely marketed at backpackers/campers, but I like it on hotel-based trips and for taking to work as part of my packed lunch.

  32. WeatherMom*

    Calling all weather nerds!
    My 4 year old is obsessed with weather, and we are building a weather garden! So far we have a rain gauge, some metal wind spinner flowers, and a snow ruler for the winter. What else should we add?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      A thermometer.

      A hygrometer to measure humidity.

      A barometer to tie to coming changes in the weather.

    2. Nervous Nellie*

      An indoor/outdoor weather station would be a fun gauge for him to study. They come with a sensor kept outdoors in a sheltered spot, and a little station kept indoors that reports temperature, humidity sensor, pressure changes and the like. There are literally dozens to choose from online, many with other features and of all price points. I have an Oregon Scientific station in my kitchen and its sensor on my patio and have used this for years. Love it!

    3. AGD*

      “My First Science Video” from the early 1990s (available on YouTube) has a weather station section starting at 9:51 – there are instructions for a simple homemade barometer if that would be of interest.

      And/or maybe a laminated guide to different kinds of clouds?

    4. Mimmy*

      I am grinning because I too was obsessed with weather when I was younger. I was older than your child, but I probably would’ve loved a weather garden! I wish I had some good ideas! :(

    5. LBD*

      A traditional weather vane with N S E W indicated on it? A windsock like tiny airports use? A sundial?

    6. Knighthope*

      There are some wireless indoor/outdoor thermometers designed for kids – simpler display, larger numbers. The one I bought years ago showed a digital image of a child dressed for the predicted weather – umbrella, shirts, snow boots, whatever.

    7. WestsideStory*

      Watching Weather by Tom Murphree is a cool book that has some fun experiments- geared for grades 6 and up but interesting enough for adults. It’s part of the Accidental Scientist Series produced by the San Francisco Exploratorium. Available on Amazon as I checked just now.

  33. Bored Kitty*

    I’m looking for ideas or maybe a blog or something that gives ideas for cat enrichment. I have a single, one year old kitty who seems bored a lot of the time. I have bought her many toys she ignores, I have multiple windows with bird feeders she can look outside, cat trees which she ignores. She seems to be really picky about what she will do. I work full time and am in grad school so I need ideas she can do on her own.

    I do play with her a few times during the day. She loves to be chased and chase me through the house and sort of play hide n seek but I can’t do that all the time :). I do cat school with her some (trying to teach her tricks). With all that, she just seems bored sometimes so I’m trying to find ideas to keep her busy and happy when I can’t play with her.

    I know maybe I should get another cat but I have not yet convinced my partner to do that.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Hmm, what makes you think she’s bored? You didn’t say she’s destroying your stuff or peeing inside or anything. Cats do just kind of lounge around most of the day in the wild except for the times they’re actively chasing, which can look under-stimulating to us. Is it that when you play with her she’s not done?

      1. Bored Kitty*

        She isn’t destroying anything or doing any bad behavior. Mostly she walks around crying and staring at me when I’m trying to work or study. So I figure she’s bored but I can’t play with her full time :(

        1. mreasy*

          If you are playing with her and she is eating and has “self led” toys and scratchers and she’s still doing this… I’m afraid you I just have a demanding kitty. Another cat is a good idea for sure as every online & veterinary source will attest, but sometimes they are just whiny babies. (Source: have a whiny baby cat who I love to the ends of the earth – and I do have another cat, he is just a very demanding guy.)

          1. nope*

            Not OP but this was very reassuring to me! I also have a whiny baby and can now ignore the plaintive cries guilt-free.

    2. Paris Geller*

      Do you have a Facebook account? There’s a feline enrichment group on there that I find to be full of good ideas. (The name is just feline enrichment). My cats love cat TV videos on YouTube (they’re nature videos of up close birds/squirrels/etc.) since we don’t get much wildlife in my area they can actually see outside the windows. If she likes hide and seek, she might also like puzzle toys if you haven’t tried those already–you’d have to set them up with the prize/treats inside, but then that’s something she can play with on her own time. They come in a wide variety of difficulties.

      1. Bored Kitty*

        Thank you! I do have Facebook and I just requested to join that group. I have tried to make a puzzle toy by putting treats in an egg carton covered by some toys and she just acts like that’s too much work :D. She has a puzzle treat ball that she sometimes will play with and sometimes ignore. I may look into some other puzzle toys though.

      2. Once too Often*

        Ha. My tortie was so disappointed with me when I showed her cat tv on my phone. She knew the critters were not in the room with us. She even flipped the phone over, to show me. She all but patted me on the head before walking away. Miss that wonderful girl.

    3. Don'tbeadork*

      Do you feed her from a bowl or do you have the food hiders? A couple of mine love to have to go hunting for their dinner, and I can set them up and place them in the morning so they can “hunt” when they’re hungry. Every once in a while I’ll load a mouse with a high value treat just to mix it up a bit.

    4. cuedapulse2beg1n*

      maybe try tying a long string around your waist so that your cat can chase it while you walk around doing activities? this works for me

    5. just another queer reader*

      It sounds like your cat is young and full of energy, and also just needy! A few ideas:
      – self supported wand/spring toys are easier for self play than balls or other objects that just sit on the floor
      – cat TV
      – puzzle feeders
      – boxes and places to sit. We often leave out a new box for a week or two till our cat gets bored and moves on to the next hangout spot
      – if there’s a way for her to be next to you while you study, do it. (Our needy cat loves to sit on/near my housemate while they study.)
      – consider getting a harness and leash and taking your cat outside sometimes. You can’t walk a cat like a dog, but some cats like to wander around the yard and sniff at things.
      – consider asking a neighbor to come play with your cat while you’re in class.

  34. Spearmint*

    I seek tips on how to look good, or at least not goofy, in photos!

    I hate how I look in photos. I actually like how I look when I see myself in the mirror or on a Zoom call, but for some reason I feel like I look almost like a different person in photographs.

    In photos my face looks a lot puffier and… immature and goofy. Like I had never lost the baby fat. I also find that I struggle not to squint when smiling for the camera, no matter how much I try. And I feel I often have goofy or awkward-looking poses and smiles in pictures.

    I’m not sure why this is. In group photos I feel like my friends look basically like themselves, whereas I feel like I look very different. I’ve googled tips on how to look better in photos, and while some of them help, I haven’t found anything that addresses these specific issues.

    My interest in this is partly for online dating purposes, and partly because I’m exploring content creation as a hobby and may need photos of myself for that as well. But also I’d just like to look like a normal person in photos shared with friends.

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ugghh I feel you there. I often think I look pretty good until I review photographic evidence and realize I did NOT. I think you’re supposed to get a friend to help you find your “angles” – how you hold your chin may be why your face is looking rounder, for example. I also think if I set a video camera up and watched out changing my position affected the photo for a while, I could get a few tips that work for me.

    2. Anthology*

      Lens compression is friendly to some types of facial features, and cruel to other types of facial features. If you have access to a digital camera with multiple lenses, experimenting with several options at the same distance will help you understand how it works. A portrait with a 35mm lens looks very different from a portrait with a 400mm lens.

      Selfies in particular are unkind to big noses and sharp chins. They “draw out” the face and make it look pointy.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      Ugh. I find myself to be averagely attractive but I am very very un-photogenic. It is not fair. I finally found a soft-smile combined with an eye-brightening trick that works for me but it takes extreme concentration and does nothing for me in candid shots. Luckily it helps me get great drivers license and passport photos. Oddly, those are the only photos I look good in.

      1. Don't make me smile*

        What is a soft-smile, and what’s your eye-brightening tip? Some of us need help!

          1. Unkempt Flatware*

            Yes. My soft smile is one where my mouth is in a smile but not big enough to move the rest of my face. Then I do this thing where I make my eyes sparkle as if I were really trying to show glee with only my eyes. It has taken so much practice.

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Ugh, me too. I hate how I look in photos and have a hard time accepting that this is the real me, not the okay-looking person I see in the mirror. What’s that about, anyway?

      1. WellRed*

        I’m hoping the person I see in the mirror is the real me, not the version in photos.

      2. allathian*

        I feel you. I’m fairly happy with how I look in the mirror or on a Teams/Zoom call, where your own video is mirrored to you, but I’m very rarely happy with how I look in photos, especially candid shots. The most current photo I’m actually happy with was taken by a professional photographer who was employed by my team for a while to build our image bank. I work comms adjacent and am a member of the comms team, so I got mine done as well. The photographer took pictures of the C-suite and the comms team, so I guess I got lucky! I still use that photo as my profile pic on Outlook/Teams/Sharepoint because I’m so happy with it.

        In my case the reason I’m unhappy with how I look in all except mirrored photos/video is because my face is asymmetric enough that I almost don’t “recognize” myself. I mean I know I’m the person in the photo, but I don’t identify with it the way I identify with my own mirror image. I’m not sure if I’m making any sense… Can anyone else relate?

        1. Generic Name*

          I think it’s the mirror image versus the non-mirrored image. My face is a bit lopsided, and I think I look different in photos versus a mirror. I’ve just come to accept that photos is what other see. It’s like how your recorded voice sounds different than what you hear when you talk.

      3. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Here’s an experiment to try….
        Photos of you are not mirrored, so they do look different than what you see in the mirror. For many people that’s why photos of them “look weird” but they can’t quite put their finger on why. It also explains why you think your friends look fine. You don’t normally see them mirrored! And they think you look fine, because they don’t usually see you mirrored, either.
        Try flipping the photo horizontally and see if you think that makes it look better. If so, you can reassure yourself that that it IS a good photo, just different from what you see in the mirror.

    5. TX_Trucker*

      I bought a book for professional photographers on posing clients. I’m not a photographer, but it was super helpful in teaching me how to stand or tilt my head. My business photos look fabulous, and you no longer see my double chin in photos.

    6. tangerineRose*

      My only trick is to smile for the photo and act like it’s not a big deal. The less I worry about it, the more it’s likely to seem OK to me later.

  35. Sweet Clementine*

    AAM folks, how did you meet new folks after a move? Six months ago, I moved to California following my SO is in, and I am struggling to meet people. For context, I started a new job in a small startup and I work mostly remotely and my colleagues are spread out all over the world. Neither my SO nor I know many people in the area (neither of us are originally from this country). I’m quite introverted, and I’m struggling to meet people organically. Any suggestions?

    1. MP*

      I have a friend who moved to a new city and made friends volunteering at a library and joining a book club! Pre children I volunteered at an animal rescue at the same day/time every week and made a friend I’m still in touch with now. I feel like those low pressure situations are best (at least for me) because you don’t HAVE to be friends with the people but if you’re around them regularly and you get along it works.

    2. Elle*

      I’m not sure if you’re religious. I am a little and joined a synagogue in my new town to meet people. I went to social stuff and volunteered. I met a lot of friends that way.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I have moved a few times for work, and the ways I met new people were:

      (1) Say “yes” to as many invites from coworkers as possible. Sounds like this isn’t a good strategy for you, if most of your coworkers are remote.

      (2) Look for a meetup group that seems interesting to you, and start attending. For me, it takes somewhere from a few months to a year for me to start feeling like fellow attendees are friends and not just acquaintances, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately “click” and become besties with someone in the group.

      (3) Do you play any sports? Are there adult recreational sports leagues in your city (soccer, softball, etc.)? Or are their running/biking/etc. groups for the non-team sports? I joined a rec sports league in one city I moved to and found it was a great place to both meet people and get exercise.

      Other ideas:

      (4) Do you have any friends or family members who know someone in your new area? An old college roommate, old coworker who also moved to California, etc.? Would they be willing to get in touch with that person and say “hey my [friend/coworker/relative] Sweet Clementine just moved to California and they’re looking to meet new people. Can I give them your contact information?”

      (5) Are you and/or your SO religious at all? You could join a church/temple/mosque/house of worship to meet people.

      (6) Bumble BFF. I’ve never tried this myself, but I read an article written by someone who had some success by meeting a few new potential friends one-on-one and then inviting them all out together, which made it feel more like forming new friendships/a new friend group and less like “dating, but platonic.”

      1. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

        I second meetup! I moved from FL to NC last year and finally had to get out of the house. Selected a meetup aligning with my interests and it was very nice. Because of that, I went to another one, and another one with that group. Got to know the organizer over some, and we went out for a cocktail after on of her meetups and she’s now my friend! Takes time. Also I joined a meetup that I tried twice and didn’t like it at all, so I looked for other ones and didn’t feel bad about leaving that group. I now have several actual friends that I met via meetup. In fact, we’re going out to dinner tonight! Patience, giving things a few tries with a few groups, and time. I prefer small group events so I stick to that, but there are also meetups that host events with larger groups (if you are trying to up the odds of making friends). Good luck!

    4. osmoglossom*

      Welcome to California! It’s a beautiful place, but making friends isn’t easy.

      I’m originally from New York City and moved to the SF Bay Area thirteen years ago in my early 40s. In my experience, Californians are really difficult to get to know/get close to.

      My biggest success in cultivating long-term friendships was through groups on meetup dot com (specifically, knitting and shamanic journeying). If you are a knitter/crocheter, see if any of your local yarn stores have knitting nights — these used to be popular pre-Covid.

      There’s a membership org called internations dot org that hosts events for expats around the world. I don’t have any experience with it, but it might be worth checking out.

      Is there a consulate/cultural center sponsored by the gov’t of your native country near by? For example, the cultural arm of the Italian consulate in San Francisco hosts a lot of events.

      Good luck!

    5. carcinization*

      If you’re under 40, you might see if your area has a chapter of the Jaycees (Junior Chamber of Commerce). This was originally a suggestion in a similar Captain Awkward thread, and I followed it when I moved to a new place. Through joining the Jaycees at the time, I made friends and joined a book club some of the female Jaycees had started, in which I made even more friends.

    6. Person from the Resume*

      Join a group through meetup or another way. Meetup is great because it tends to be more open and welcoming to newcomers, but also look for local groups and events on Facebook. Join a local adult social sports league.

      Then the hard part, go to things even though you’re an introvert and probably shy and it’s actually scary and nerve-wracking. Talk to people there and if find a potential friend, get their contact info (phone or FB or other social) and invite them on a friend date like coffee or a walk where you can talk and get to know them better.

      As an adult you really can’t be passive and make friends. You’ve got to put yourself out there and ask.

  36. Sicily Trip*

    Does anyone have recommendations for Sicily? I’m going to Palermo and Catania next month for a week and a half each for a workation (explore during the day, start working around 3pm) with the weekends and a few random days off (probably an extra free day per city).

    Any must sees or day trips?

    Restaurant recommendations or must try foods?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Go to Siracusa. It’s absolutely beautiful. When I went to Sicily (ages ago) we stayed in Catania and took trips from there. It was all private (I was on a tour) so I’m not sure about how to get there, but definitely go. I also liked Caltagirone, which is known for ceramics, and Taormina is a must. Amazing views.

      Must try foods: granita! Espresso granita with brioche and whipped cream is a Catania specialty. I’m also a fan of lemon granita. And spaghetti con ricci (sea urchin) if it’s available/in season. You will eat a LOT of caponata and pasta alla norma if you like eggplant. The very best meal I had was a giant plate of seafood (insalata di frutti di mare, I believe) on Vulcano, one of the Aeolian Islands. Those islands are gorgeous. I drank a lot of excellent wine and became a devotee of Etna Rosso and Etna Bianco. Speaking of which, try to take some kind of trip to a vineyard near Mt. Etna.

      There’s a WWII museum in Catania that’s pretty good, or at least I thought so 10 years ago. I didn’t like Catania too much (I found it very… gray) but Sicily is beautiful and the food cannot be beat.

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

        Wow, that espresso granita with brioche and whipped cream sounds amazing! If I make it there, it’s on my list!

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

      I’ve never been, but it’s on my wish list. I just wanted to put in a plug for maybe reading some of the Inspector Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri or, even better, seeing an episode or two of the TV series — the landscape there is so gorgeous that it might be fun to read about it/watch it, and then see it for yourself!

    3. Taki*

      ooh, I hope it’s not too late for you to see this! I live in Catania. :) I love caponata, which is a sweet and sour (agrodolce) eggplant appetizer. Puti is a restaurant that’s mostly Sicilian seafood and they have a swordfish caponata that is so good. The other famous Sicilian food is an arancino (arancina in Palermo aka the wrong way) which is risotto coated in bread crumbs, filled with ragu and fried. You can get it basically anywhere. You can also get anything with pistachio (pronounced with K not ch), filling in your croissant, topping on your pizza, filling in your tortellini… They also eat horse and donkey pretty commonly. I think both are delicious but horse people are often horrified by the idea.

      Santa Filomena is a cute restaurant street in Catania. It has Fud, which is a super popular burger place where all the dishes are in English but spelled using Italian spelling, and Polpetteria, which is gourmet meatballs. Squib is near Bellini park and it’s my favorite pizza place. Me Cumpari Turiddu was on Stanley Tucci’s TV show and it’s great.

      In Siracusa I really like Aglae, which is pretty fancy Sicilian-Japanese inspired cuisine run by 3 sisters. It’s a little more expensive and fancier than other places, but on the whole Sicily is pretty cheap.

      I would not recommend getting a rental car because they are going to be super expensive in summer, and driving is CRAZY. I was once passed by someone because I stopped at a stop sign. I have passed someone on a highway on-ramp. Everyone is texting, drinking espresso, smoking, and talking with their hands while they drive a 25 year-old Fiat Panda that is rusted through to bare metal.

      Never eat a pre-filled cannoli. Only eat them if they are empty shells and the pasticceria fills them when you order them.

      Everything in Catania is covered in black volcano dust right now, so fyi if you have very white sneakers.

  37. KeyHolds*

    Theoretically…if you were on a plane sitting next to someone reading AAM on their phone…would you say something?
    (If you traveled from Cleveland –> DC this week on American….hi, I was working on Excel sheets and didn’t want to seem nosy!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This happened to me once! It was years ago and I was was across the aisle from them. I said nothing but obviously immediately texted everyone I knew to report it.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        If you see me reading AAM someplace, I would be delighted it you introduced yourself!

        And if I saw someone else reading AAM, I would definitely say something.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      I would love it if a fellow AAM reader said something to me if I were reading it! What a great way to connect. I’d probably say something too, depending on my mood. I enjoy striking up conversations when I’m out and about (even though I’m introverted).

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

      If I saw they were commenting and recognized their name, I might say hi! But it’s also nice that you wanted to respect their privacy.

    4. Red Sky*

      Not my flight (TX to CA) or airline, but I was on a plane reading AAM this week. If a seatmate was a fellow AAMer and said something I would have been charmed! I also tend to quiet awkwardness IRL and you’d be stuck with me on a 4 hr flight, tho…

    5. Be the Change*

      if I see someone on AAM and it turns out to be fposte, I will squeeee and then ask for an autograph. ;-)

      if I ended up next to Alison I would just faint, ha ha!

      but yes, I’d probably make a small remark and then see if a convo was wanted.

    6. anon24*

      If I saw someone reading AAM I probably wouldn’t say anything because I’m socially awkward AF but if someone saw me reading it and said something it would completely make my week.

    7. Tea and Sympathy*

      I would say something, and would be happy if someone said something to me. But I would also want to know their user name, just so I would know if we were already friends in my imagination, so that might be awkward. Lol.

      1. Stunt Apple Breeder*

        Haha, so would I! But I would ask their screen name because I like making new friends everywhere I go.

  38. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    Help! I just bought my first house! Eek! Please let me know what is going to be different – good and bad – from being a lifelong apartment dweller. I already know there will be painting. So so much painting!!

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Congrats!

      Good? Do what you want with the place – it’s yours! No more permission to paint or worry about putting something up on a wall.

      Bad? Maintenance – it’s all on you. Don’t just wait until something has a problem. There are some good lists out there for maintenence schedules of all the different things in a house.

      1. really*

        Set up as separate account that you put money in for those major items that will need to be replaced. Even if you don’t have all you need having some will be a big help. Items like roof, HVAC system(s) for sure.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      I’m not sure where you are — I now have opinions on these topics: trees in the yard (paying to have the canopy cleaned/cut down), lawncare in general, knowing where the sewer and water pipes are in the yard, the breaker box, animals in the attic…
      I don’t regret going from apartment to house! There’s a lot to keep up with and some definitely unexpected expenses (biggest learning curve: always get the leaves off the roof, don’t let them sit).
      I’ve really enjoyed being able to plan and make my house my own — and not worry about apartment neighbors next door or below me. I’ll also offer this: There will be a lot you want to do and it’s okay to go slow! Take some time to consider how you use the space and what you’ll want to do down the road that will best serve you.

    3. Ginger Cat Lady*

      It’s been nearly 30 years, and I still remember the first time something broke and I had the realization there was no landlord to call! We had to take care of it OURSELVES? We knew that, of course, but the feeling when it actually happened and we didn’t know how to fix it was a little surprising.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Although, to be honest, it’s not sooo much different to go from “oh no, a pipe’s broken, call the landlord” to “call the plumber” – you just have to have a number of a plumber, and an electrician, and a general contractor, etc etc etc. At the end of the day I’m still not actually doing most of the work myself, as that’s not really my skillset.

    4. Don'tbeadork*

      How big is your yard? Do you have an underground sprinkler system or is it watered manually? Make sure you have the right tools for yard upkeep, because in the summer that grass gets away from you FAST! If your watering system is starting to break down, it’s a good time to consider something like a drip system on a timer or to change out your grass to something native to the area (assuming no weird HOA rules).

      How old is the house? When was the plumbing laid? Is the electric wiring up to code?

      Now (before you need them) is the time to find out who are the best electricians/plumbers/ lawn guys/tilers/whatevers from your friends and neighbors. If you have AC, you want to know who is a good AC repair company before your AC goes out. Same for the plumbing and electricity. Knowing who to call early takes a lot of the stress out of coming home to a leaky pipe or a sudden loss of electricity.

    5. Professor Plum*

      Learn where to turn off the water before you have to do it because of a leak.

      1. ShinyPenny*

        Yes! There should be a valve in a box buried out by the street. Learn where that is, and how to open the box. And buy the long metal opener/closer tool you’ll need to turn the valve off in an emergency.
        There should also be a whole-house water shut-off valve inside, too. Super good to know where that is as well.
        If an appliance or pipe starts leaking water, turn off the whole house water valve, and quickly turn on other faucetts to reduce water pressure and try to empty all the plumbing pipes into sinks/tubs instead of, like, letting it all spew inside a wall.
        And hopefully, if you are well prepared, you’ll never need to do any of this!

    6. Tigress In Tech*

      If it’s a fixer-upper, fix things a little at a time. Make it livable first (i.e. removing lead paint and asbestos – with a qualified contractor!), then fix the things that make you comfortable (e.g. insulation), then fix the things that are functional and just look janky. The latter two steps also work for any newer house.

      There are lots of ways to increase water and electricity efficiency on your own property – not all of it will work for every house, but things that help are good insulation (less heating and cooling), using a heat pump instead of HVAC (it costs a little more upfront – maybe 25% more, if that – but replaces the entire HVAC system, uses no gas, and costs a lot less to run), using an electric/convection stove (again, no gas, gas is expensive), and reducing water runoff from your property (you can create areas for rainwater and landscape water to soak into the ground – less mud, less watering overall).

      Congratulations on your new house!

    7. ShinyPenny*

      So, now you are the one who runs the service people!
      Helpful tip: If you are trying to get a callback from a service person, call from the (unblocked!) line you want them to call you back on. (Don’t switch around between work/cell/landline.) They are super busy, often doing callbacks while driving between jobs, and you totally need them more than they need you. Make it easy for them to just hit one button to call you back.

  39. House staging*

    I have been window shopping on realty sites to get landscaping ideas, and WOW has house staging changed since I was in the market. So many close-ups of non-structural stuff that wouldn’t stay when the owners moved: tricked-out bar carts, blurry hydrangeas on a formally-set dining room table, carved wall art. At least 30% of the shots are utterly useless in figuring out the “bones” of the house.

    My bestie recently moved, and her buyers pitched a fit that her family didn’t leave behind the bookcase in the living room. It was really nice (belonged to her grandfather) but it wasn’t a built-in. She and her husband (and I, when she told me) were really surprised at this.

    Are those of you in the market struggling with this? Has the understanding of “only fixtures left behind” completely changed?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My seller DID leave a lot of crap behind, and some of it I ended up using (a rug that I just replaced finally last year, my kitchen cart) and some of it I grumbled under my breath while I figured out how to get rid of it (the FIFTEEN pairs of size 6 5” stilettos left in my closet, god bless the literal stripper).

      1. Decidedly Me*

        Ours did, too. We still haven’t figured out how to get a random TV left behind off it’s wall mount (granted, we haven’t tried super hard due to it not being on a wall we need use of)

      2. Generic Name*

        OMG, I was Very Annoyed that the seller of my last house left the ancient washer/dryer set that I had to pay to dispose of.

      3. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Our seller did, too, and I called up their real estate agent and asked her to let them know it would be in a box on the front porch and if they wanted any of it they needed to pick it up within 48 hours. They didn’t, I donated it after a week, THEN they pitched a fit. It was mostly dishes, clothing, a lamp and a small table.
        They also had a whole bunch of packages delivered to the house starting about 3 months AFTER they moved out. Turns out they were birthday shopping online and forgot to update their address. Very upset when we wouldn’t pay to ship the items to them. I would have happily dropped them off at UPS or something if they would pay for the shipping, but I’m not footing that bill for them.
        (And I won’t even go into the details of how they also were sued a year or so later and how they wanted me to help them dodge being served….)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Two weeks after I moved in, I went out to get my mail and had an envelope from the by-god state department of revenue addressed to “My Tits LLC”. She was a literal exotic dancer and had incorporated. It took five years before I mostly stopped getting her mail, everything from catalogs to envelopes from the DOR and the IRS, all addressed to “My Tits”. Facebook only took two years to stop inviting me to check in at “My Tits” while sitting in my living room.

    2. the cat's ass*

      I’ve been window shopping on real estate sites for a year now, and so many homes have “virtual” staging, so NOTHING you’re looking at is real, adding a whole other layer of weirdness to this. Houses that are a mix of the owner’s things and staging also can cause problems. Put everything in writing. When I sold my last home i specified what was staying (window treatments, and because we were moving cross country, we also left the fridge and washer/dryer).

      1. Turtle Dove*

        Yes! Some relatives recently listed their house, and I was surprised to see fire in the fire pit in the photo of their back patio. Turns out it was added digitally.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I dislike staging but it would never occur to me that anything comes with the house aside from appliances that are specifically listed in the contract. I think with the first house we bought the sellers offered to let us buy some of the furniture? I feel like those buyers either assumed it was built in, or were very naive about the process.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Assumed it was built-in, are very naive, or channeled some weird “I am so stressed about this huge purchase, what can I kick up a major fuss about to feel I’m coming out ahead?”

    4. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      Oh my gosh, yes. I just bought my first house, so have been stalking realtor dot com for a year, and really, I don’t need a close-up of the owner’s sea shell collection, I need to know where the bedrooms are in conjunction with the living room! I think they should offer a floor plan on every listing. It would have saved me some time looking at places that had things I really hated about them (kitchen open to the living room, anyone?)

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I would love a floor plan on every listing, though aiming to check the opposite. (I want an open, connected kitchen-living-dining space.) Light from two sides is really important to me, and I could have eliminated some weird garage-like spaces with floor-plans.

      2. Enough*

        Yes to floor plans but with dimensions please. No point going to look at a house if that third bedroom is only 8 feet wide.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      The weird photos of random things can be a byproduct of how you’re viewing them–if you click to open the full-size photo-only page, rather than page through them in a window on the main page, sometimes the bones appear in what seemed to be a picture of a couch against a wall.

      Sometimes, people took their own photos and are thinking “capture the vibe of the home we made” while buyers are thinking “understand the bones of the house.” And I recall a couple that hadn’t cleaned before the photos, so there was a photo of a couch buried in piles of stuff–that one was odd. (Like, throw all the stuff to the other side of the room when photographing this side. Or don’t photograph this room at all.)

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

      When I was selling my late parents’ house, my real estate agent (who was representing both buyer and seller, which is legal in the state), asked if I would mind leaving a bookcase that fit into a nook, a huge buffet table, and a lamp for the buyer.

      I said sure, but I was trying to get rid of everything, so there wasn’t a problem from my end (except that I didn’t want to give them so much stuff that we couldn’t have an estate sale).

      I figured that my late parents would’ve liked it that some of their favorite stuff stayed in the house.

    7. OyHiOh*

      Not exactly your question, but I virtually snooped (Zillow) on a newly listed house in the very nice neighborhood adjacent to mine. The photos were so heavily photoshopped that I too could not work out the floorplan or structural bones of the house. Light flooding in from places there cannot possibly be windows (based on driving by the house) being the least worse sin.

    8. Potatoes gonna potate*

      we bought our house in 2020. the items to be left behind by the buyer were very explicitly stated in the contract. When we sold our house, we completely emptied it.

    9. Observer*

      My bestie recently moved, and her buyers pitched a fit that her family didn’t leave behind the bookcase in the living room. It was really nice (belonged to her grandfather) but it wasn’t a built-in. She and her husband (and I, when she told me) were really surprised at this.

      I’m pretty sure that those buyers are an outlier. None of the people I know who have bought houses in the last 2-3 years expected good stuff to stay. In some cases, they bought some stuff. And owners sometimes do leave stuff behind, but it’s not an *expectation* unless it’s discussed up front. And even then it’s just as much a negotiation as anything else.

    10. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I negotiated with the buyer specifically about what furniture would stay. Mostly, I cared that an oddly-shaped custom table that perfectly fit the built-in corner kitchen booth was staying despite not technically being attached itself (yes). That one I clarified when putting in an offer.

      She also happened to be willing to make a deal to sell me all of the (extensive) yard furniture for pretty cheap, which I was open to since I hadn’t had a yard of my own in my previous place so didn’t have existing outdoor tables and chairs to bring with me. However, that was something we just worked out between us after I’d already agreed to buy the house. I didn’t really care if I had those specific tables and chairs versus ones I could buy elsewhere, but she didn’t want to take them with her, there wasn’t anything I particularly minded about them, and it saved us both some hassle. She also left all of her swimming pool maintenance stuff (including chemicals) since her new place didn’t have a pool, which was another thing we discussed after I’d agreed to buy the house since I didn’t care about keeping her stuff specifically so I didn’t write it into the offer.

      Experienced buyers should know (and their realtor should go over it with them when making an offer) that if there’s some non-attached thing they want to have stay with the house, that’s something that needs to be negotiated and written into the offer. For me, that table was worth clarifying since it was something I’d have to have made custom to replace, but that’s about the only reason I’d bother. (Usually stuff that’s so specific to the space like that is something buyers are happy to leave behind anyway, since it’s unlikely to fit their next house.)

  40. Stuckinacrazyjob*

    I am thinking of getting a new dresser because mine is from 1960 or something and is all marked up because I had it as a kid. But I literally have never shopped for this as an adult! Does anyone have any tips? Should I just have shelving so I can throw stuff on there without folding? but a dresser looks better I think

    1. WellRed*

      Yikes! shelves sound terrible. And I guess you can just as easily throw unfolded clothes in dresser drawers. I’d consider the space you have and whether you’d be better off with something more vertical or horizontal. And what’s your budget. Are you handy at assembly or do you need something fully assembled and delivered? Then, go online and start browsing to orient yourself as to options.

      1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        budget: semi poor under $500, assembly, I suck but could get people who are good to help

      2. Just a Name*

        I recommend looking at antiques. Solid wood, sturdy. Delivery might be an issue. However , refinishing the one you have might be better if you like the way it functions. I’m a person who doesn’t like painted wood, especially good wood, but painting might be easier than refinishing.

      1. Observer*

        And worst case, they have a deal with TaskRabbit, so you can get that set up when you buy if you KNOW you’re going to need the help.

        Pricing is pretty good, and their mid-range stuff seems solid. So far, I an my family have done well with the items we’ve purchased.

    2. Pam Adams*

      you could also look at lightweight dressers/clothes storage. easy to assemble, not expensive.

    3. ronda*

      if u buy new from a store, some of them can take a long time for delivery….. so ask about that. some are sending from factory after ordering.
      I had not gotten furniture in a long time and found that out at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was taking even longer than normal then.

      I believe shelves would look messier, but if it works better for you than a dresser, that is ok.

    4. LBD*

      If you especially like the‘throwing without folding’, have you considered baskets? Anything from small baskets on shelves to laundry baskets to oversized covered hampers. Something like wicker can be attractive but even plastic laundry baskets or hampers can corral clothing.

    5. Hotdog not dog*

      I would suggest Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Last summer we donated a houseful of furniture that had belonged to my late in laws, and they had literally a whole warehouse of solid wood furniture. Some of it looked like it had never been used, and was very reasonably priced.

    6. Random Academic Cog*

      I got a couple of cubby-style bookcases and stacked them. I think the cubbies are 12″ (could be a little bigger). The bottom row is open and I use it for shoes, the next 3 rows have fabric drawers that I periodically switch to a different style/color, and the top two rows are books/whatever else I need to store there. It’s a cheap solution that can be configured however you want. I probably paid around $300 total for the bookcases and the drawers.

    7. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      If the only reason you don’t like your existing dresser is that it’s all marked up, you can also repaint it rather than replace it.

      Otherwise, the big decision with dressers is about width versus height. Do you want a tall dresser that takes up less floor space, or a wider but less tall one that takes up more floor space? The tall ones will usually have one column of drawers, and the wide ones will have two or three. (I also have a wide dresser with a second piece that attaches on top with a mirror and shallower shelving, but I have no idea what that top part is called and I can’t find any similar dresser sets when poking around online, so that may not be a thing in current dressers rather than my 1970s behemoth bedroom set.)

      If you’re thinking maybe shelving rather than a dresser, you might want to look at armoires. I have one with two shelves on the bottom and a bunch of cubbies behind a set of cabinet doors on top (part of that same 1970s bedroom set in my case), but it looks like a lot of them have shelves rather than cubbies.

  41. Pinkbasil*

    Can anyone recommend a book or books about planning for your post retirement life? I checked out one called Portfolio Life and I’m going to read it but it’s almost 20 years old and has a strong ‘what to do when golfing isn’t enough’ vibe to it.

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      In kind of a big picture way, the book Taking Stock: A Hospice Doctor’s Advice on Financial Independence, Building Wealth and a Regret-Free Life (Jordan Grumet, 2022) might have some good food for thought. It has ideas for financial planning but also has a strong Carpe Diem vibe that is pretty exciting. Not all of the sections may be of use, but it might have some nuggets that are worth it. I get it at the library a couple of times a year since it came out. Keeps me on track!

      1. Epsilon Delta*

        Be careful with that one. He has a few pieces of good advice re: don’t wait until you’re old to do everything you want to, but a lot of what he says is actively bad advice unless you’re a multi-millionaire.

    2. Morning reader*

      Do you mean financial planning? Lots of good guides for that. For “lifestyle “ planning, there are good resources at AARP, although I can’t find/remember the name of their book I used about ten years ago. Something like Seven Strategies (or maybe styles?) to help you find your retirement groove. Is it (will it be) socializing, volunteering, traveling, music or arts, grand parenting? Will you move, downsize, buy a boat?

      I can recommend their website but I’m blanking on book titles.

      1. Pinkbasil*

        Not really financial planning. I’ve got that part figured out. I’ve just seen friends kind of slide into retirement without a good idea of how to occupy themselves and that seems depressing.

  42. Trixie*

    At a recent hair appointment, the stylist used the flyaway attachment on the Dyson hair dryer. It was the first time someone brought that out and it definitely caught my attention. Other stylists do the typical blowout with big brushes and waves. This was the first time I’d seen this stylist (due to prior person being ill), and otherwise I didn’t care for final styling she did. But, that flyaway attachment! I’m wondering if it would do better on my hair which with age is more wiry and unruly.

    My hair is otherwise pretty thick/bushy so it could be a good match. Then I could use large velcro curlers to create volume and waves. Just having a hard time on the initial decision to spend $$$ on a hair dryer. But, it could be worth it over the years. Has anyone purchased this and liked or hated it?

    1. Rainy*

      There are a bunch of youtuber reviews of the various Dyson dryers and attachments, I’d probably check a bunch of those out.

    2. londonedit*

      I got a Dyson hairdryer for Christmas last year and I really like it. My hair isn’t suitable for most of the attachments as it’s a shortish straight bob (and has no wave or curl whatsoever) but it is thick, as in I have a lot of hair, and the Dyson is far more efficient at drying it and making it nice and smooth. I used to have to run my hair straighteners over my hair after drying it to get it to go into shape and stay smooth, but having dried my hair with the Dyson there’s no need for the straighteners. I do need to look into how to use the flyaway attachment properly, because whenever I’ve tried it – while it’s made my hair incredibly smooth – it’s flicked the bottom of my hair outwards which is not what my hair is meant to do!

      But generally, it’s efficient, it’s quiet, I love the fact that the attachments all click on with a magnet (I used my last hairdryer for about three years with no smoothing nozzle because the stupid thing kept falling off) and it seems to be good for my hair.

  43. QuilterGirl*

    My new fav cooking show is Nigel Slater. I love his easygoing vibe.

    Also may I recommend a cute little show called “Cheap Irish Homes” for some real estate porn.

    1. Chaordic One*

      “Cheap Irish Homes” is a fun site to look at. I have a distant, well-to-do, relative who bought a fully-furnished cottage in Ireland which she uses as a second home. I guess it is possible. She said the house even came with dishes, tableware and linen. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to have asked more questions when she was telling us about it.

  44. Girasol*

    Ding Dong Ditch: is this a thing where you are? Kids come up and pound on the door at midnight or so and run away. The latest Tik Tok challenges have added some twists around here: the kid does something to try to get the Ring camera photo posted on local social media (like licking the camera), or the kid tries to kick the locked door open. Ding Dong Ditch has been a local amusement for decades. Some older folks say, “Hey, lighten up! It’s just kids having harmless fun just like we did back in the day!” But sometimes there’s damage involved, and in any case the kid could scare someone awake in a panic, and that in an area where keeping a gun for protection is common. Is this just a local phenomenon or do you see it where you are?

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      That takes me back! I remember it from when I was a kids, too many years ago. But it was only in daylight hours, as only kids too young to be out after dark who did it. (We had a dog that most kids were afraid of, so our house wasn’t a target. And I don’t remember property damage being part of it.)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        Yeah, that was my thought, anybody young enough to be doing that is…too young to be out at midnight. The idea of older teens doing it strikes me as more threatening than it would be with 10 year olds.

        And no, I’ve never seen it in real life, just come across it in comics and stuff. I assumed it was more something that happened back in the days when kids under 10 were more likely to be left unsupervised.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I had some young kids (10-11) playing it during the day one Spring Break while I was WFH. I knew one of them, and unfortunately for them they chose a spot directly under my office window to gather and egg each other on.

      I timed it to catch them mid-ring, scared the bejeebus out of them by opening the door. I called the little boy I knew by name and told him he needed to stop it because I was trying to get work done.

      Then I asked them if they were really that bored and had nothing better to do. They said they were, so I offered them some money to tidy up my yard. I also told them they could come back tomorrow and I’d find them another little job to do, but if they ding dong ditched me again, his father would hear about it.

      Well, they were excited to get the money and did a good job, but the next day they started up again and I texted the boy’s dad. That stopped it.

      If it was teenagers doing it at night, I’d turn off the ringer. If there was damage, that’s vandalism, and I’d make a police report.

      I can’t believe adults are dumb enough to put stunts on social media when that’s clearly the kid’s goal.

      1. Girasol*

        Adults post to the neighborhood chat to ask if anyone can identify the kid. If they’re pounding on doors in the middle of the night, people can’t tell if they’re pranking or trying to break in. So posters are either asking neighbors’ help to identify a potential housebreaker or to notify a pranker’s parents so they can warn the kid about the danger of scaring a homeowner who’s half asleep and armed.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I was referring to the stunts you mentioned like licking the camera, which are a) harmless and b) clearly done in order to be shared.

          As I said, if my home were vandalized or I felt threatened, I’d be calling the police, not trying to deal with parents. I presume any teenager who is running around committing petty crime in the middle of the night has already stopped listening to their parents, or the parents don’t care. What would be the point of finding their parents once it gets to that stage?

    3. Turtle Dove*

      I haven’t heard of this in 60+ years in my corner of the Midwest. I’d be furious, and I’m an older folk. I don’t find it funny, cute, or harmless to be awakened by a loud knock, kick, or doorbell in the middle of the night. My first thought would be that the police are at the door to report a death in the family. But I don’t have a Ring camera, so maybe I’d be spared. Sure hope so!

    4. Glazed Donut*

      I’ve had it happen a few times at my house in the past year. I am always so confused because I have a video doorbell and you’d think that would take the fun out of it….they still do the ring and then run away bit (& typically hide behind a car or bush to see if I’ll come out). Around here no property damage.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m totally fine with DDD but kicking my door? Knocking at midnight? Nope. I’d be talking to parents for sure and then escalating if needed.

    6. Past Lurker*

      It is happening where I live, it’s teens in the middle of the night from what it shows in the security videos being shown among neighbors. Probably a social media challenge thing? Same concern for someone with a gun thinking an intruder is breaking in and someone getting hurt or killed.

    7. Ginger Cat Lady*

      I prefer it to what’s becoming increasingly common around here, where they find your electric box and shut off power to the house, ha ha so funny, a neighbor lost all his aquarium fish when his teen daughter’s supposed friends did it while they were gone overnight!
      But either one isn’t great. If someone doorbell ditches me, they better have left me some oreos or something!

      1. anon24*

        wha-at! I know every generation says this, but what is wrong with people? Can you imagine if that happened to a bed confined person on oxygen or medical equipment? They could kill an actual person! I’d be furious if they shut my electric off. Pranks are one thing, but damage or harm is another. get a job or a hobby! (I feel more and more like a grumpy old “get off my lawn” person every day and I’m only 31)

    8. tangerineRose*

      It happened to me at least once. I actually managed to make it down the stairs in time to see the kids, and I asked them if I did something to make them mad, and I think that confused them. Then I explained how a while ago, I had hurt my knee going down the stairs in a hurry to answer the door and asked them not to do what they were doing. They didn’t.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Yes, according to our local Nextdoor, it’s very much a thing in our area. But guns aren’t — so I guess it’s less likely to end in a shooting.

    10. The Shenanigans*

      Oh, this has been a thing forever and isn’t a big deal. If someone causes damage, go talk to their parents and have the kid fix or pay for the damage. If the kids are neighbors, talk to them first though. Explaining that it is scary for the adult on the other side of the door should be sufficient to get most of them to stop.

      I am much more worried about an adult who would jump to OMG SHOOT when they hear a door knock or ring than I am about kids being kids. I would warn the kids there are completely unhinged adults who like and use guns a lot more than they should, so the kids should be very careful. I’d also make it known to the gun-nut neighbors that even if Stand Your Ground laws exist in the area, they don’t always apply if the victim is a minor. Also, those laws don’t stop civil suits, nor do they stop neighbors rightfully hating them.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Doesn’t seem to be a thing where I am. I don’t have a video doorbell, so I’d be a boring target for anyone hoping for video to be posted somewhere, but I suspect it’s partly just that kids can find better things to do with their time. We have enough parks, bike lanes, public transit, and local businesses that bored kids can probably think of something else to do rather than ring doorbells if they’re wandering around outside, though, plus there’s always people walking by on the sidewalk so it’s hard to be sneaky while ringing doorbells.

  45. Awful At Pseudonyms*

    Hello, my cat uses his traditional litter box. However, urine is getting outside the litter box and on the floor. Has anyone had this problem and how did you fix it? While still keeping the cat : ) Thank you!

    1. sswj*

      For a long time I used a big plastic tote as a box. It contained the high-pee-er and lazy pee-ers’ outputs quite well.

      1. Trixie*

        Yes! This is what I’ve had for a couple cats and it works well. I cut out an opening in a Rubbermaid tote and the high walls are perfect. The lid also helps contain the dust from the clumping litter.

    2. costello music*

      Are you able to use the litter boxes that come with the covers? That’s what my family has used for a long time. There’s only a little litter that comes out in the opening.

    3. Turtle Dove*

      I buy puppy pads at Costco and set those under and around the litter box as a foot-wide border. I use a pad indefinitely unless there’s an accident. If there is, I tear or cut off the soiled part and keep using the good part. I agree that oversized storage bins work well. I like the long, underbed kind with short sides, and I leave the lid off. We tried a covered litter box once, but our cats wouldn’t use it. It depends on your cat, I think. It took lots of experimenting to get to our current solution.

      1. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I did the same when I had a cat that liked to perch right at the opening of the box. Worked like a charm!

      2. Random Academic Cog*

        I had a high-peeing cat (plus he had arthritis at the end – no clue how he managed to keep spraying so high). The two-piece covered boxes didn’t help much because the pee would drip out through the seams. I ended up with the modkat flip litter box and it helped, but the liners are expensive and I would sometimes find slime underneath them from either pee going over the top edge or scratches going through the liner. Ended up skipping the liners entirely. I also keep the boxes on puppy pads that I switch out as needed.

    4. Firebird*

      My daughter uses two large and long plastic bins with the ends cut off so they can be in an L shape, with a small entranceway cut as far from the litterbox as possible. She also duct taped them together with the bin lids on so the cat can’t jump out. Her cat is a Jerk, but we love him.

    5. Don'tbeadork*

      I have reusable pee pads that I put right at the entrance of the covered boxes. If someone misses the box then I can just wash the pad and replace it. I have several spares in case the cats are having a rough week (stress, strange workmen in the house, whatever).

      For the uncovered pans, I use a whelping pad (same premise, just bigger) that I place the uncovered litter box on. If it gets messed up, I shake the tracked litter back into the box and replace the whelping pad with another, then wash the other. Soiled or not, pads all get washed weekly (plus the loads of soiled pads as needed).

    6. Samwise*

      Put the entire litter set up inside a large heavy duty plastic plan. I got one at the hardware store. Like what you’d use for draining oil from a car.

      Sides should be high enough to keep pee from sloshing when you go to clean it, but not too high for kitty to get into the litter box.

    7. The Shenanigans*

      I got a plastic mat like the one used to protect carpets from rolling chairs. I can just spray on the plastic and get it right up. That said, if the cat is doing this a lot, it may be that they don’t like the litter, the box is too small/large, the box is too tall/short, or you don’t have enough litter in it. I’d try futzing with some of those variables as well. Good luck!

    8. Random Academic Cog*

      I had a high-peeing cat (plus he had arthritis at the end – no clue how he managed to keep spraying so high). The two-piece covered boxes didn’t help much because the pee would drip out through the seams. I ended up with the modkat flip litter box and it helped, but the liners are expensive and I would sometimes find slime underneath them from either pee going over the top edge or scratches going through the liner. Ended up skipping the liners entirely. I also keep the boxes on puppy pads that I switch out as needed.

  46. Pam Adams*

    i like the extra large boxes. you could also put a litter bix box inside a big plastic tote, perhaps cutting a hole in the side for the cat to go through.

  47. costello music*

    I have some glass and ceramic ware that’s stained with oil. I mostly use it them to cook chicken, but sometimes for desserts or bread or whatever. I don’t like that there’s oil but I’m not sure how to get rid of it.

    Any tips?

    1. Rainy*

      Baking soda paste works great on that baked-on brown film that you get from oil, and I’ve never had it scratch my glass or ceramic. You can use a sponge or scrub pad or whatever, but I prefer a small stiff-bristle detail cleaning brush.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      For the really baked on oils that don’t come off with the methods offered here, you may need to try oven cleaner.

    3. Not A Manager*

      Like baked-on oil that gets hard or sticky? Fill a large pan that will fit your glassware/ceramic wear with water and bring to a boil. Add a large slug of blue Dawn dish soap and a large shake of baking soda. I can’t give quantities because I don’t know how large your pan is, but about 1/4 cup for a pasta pot and about a cup for a stock pot. Fully submerse your stained items. Let stand until the water cools to room temperature. Overnight is good. In the morning, fish out your items and scrub them gently under warm water. The baked on stuff will peel off like magic.

    4. The Shenanigans*

      I rub Dawn dish soap on it and leave it for 12 or 24 hours. Then rinse it with boiling water and scrub it with steel wool. It comes right up without a huge amount of effort. YMMV, of course. Yes, it has to be the Dawn name brand. Nothing else works as well.

  48. Bunny WatsonToo*

    Can anyone recommend a brand of unbleached bamboo toilet paper? CVS briefly carried a brand called Babo. When it was discontinued, I stocked up during a great clearance special (buy 1 pkg, get 2 free) but now have to find a replacement. Unfortunately, it appears – at least in my area – that no retail stores stock bamboo brands. Amazon may be my only source.

    1. YNWA*

      WhoGivesACrap.org sells bamboo toilet paper directly to consumers.

      So does reelpaper.com. They might have unbleached.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        +1 for Who Gives a Crap. My BFF ordered me a box when I moved into my own apartment, and I took four rolls with me when I moved out two years later.

    2. Maestra*

      We use Tushy. Their marketing is embarrassing to me, but we tried them out and found it to be fine.

  49. fueled by coffee*

    I love summer but hate that it comes with fruit flies (ugh). A few weeks ago I noticed a bunch of flies congregating in my kitchen, but taking the trash out/wiping down counters/pouring hot water down the drain seemed to fix the issue within a few days.

    They’re back now, except… I’m only able to see them at night, when they crowd up on the ceiling (still in my kitchen). I have yet to see a live one during the day (I do find dead ones in the windowsill. Yuck). At first I thought maybe they were attracted to the light, but they don’t congregate *on* the light fixture, and everything I’ve been googling says that flies sleep at night, and I’m very perplexed.

    So: (1) are these something other than fruit flies? and (2) any advice on how to get rid of them??? I’d love to be able to leave bananas out on the counter without worrying that I’m helping the infestation!

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I’m not sure exactly what they are, but they might be something that just hatched somewhere. We get that periodically and I just vacuum them up and make sure the windows are closed.
      It’s a tad unnerving!

    2. PollyQ*

      A dish of apple cider vinegar with a drop of dishwashing liquid. It’s kind of gross to look at all the dead flies that get collected, but it took care of my problem in about 36 hours.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes this works well. And yeah, you cannot leave bananas out. It’s like their favorite food.

      2. Girasol*

        That works like a charm for fruit flies. If it doesn’t work and you have potted plants, you might have fungus gnats. For those you need to buy inexpensive sticky traps.

    3. YNWA*

      You can wash fruit with mild dish detergent (my SIL swears by a little bit of bleach) and that will usually clean up the fruit enough to not attract the flies plus it’ll kill any eggs that come in on the fruit/veggies.

      Apple cider vinegar with a piece of fruit in a container works (I like to trim one corner of a sandwich bag, put it over the container, and hold in place with a rubber band. They can get in, but not out), beer works even better.

    4. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Could be drain flies which eat the film that collects in pipes/garbage disposals. Pour some bleach down your kitchen sink then run a little water to dilute it then plug the sink with a rubber stopper overnight.

      1. Ella Kate (UK)*

        Ugh yes, was going to suggest them.

        We had to deal with some of these because we weren’t using the sink often enough to break the film down if that makes sense.

    5. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve been dealing with this as well, and have found a combination of tactics to be effective: 1) a blue light that you can plug in that comes with a sticky attachment. The bugs are attracted to the light and stick to the paper and die. 2) Terro fruit fly traps. They look like little apples and come with a substance you squeeze into the apple that attracts the flies but they then drown in it. 3) good old fashion fly paper. It looks quite tacky hanging from the ceiling but does the trick and I take it down before guests come over. Good luck to you, this has been the bane of my existence for the past month.

  50. Bluebell*

    Nostalgia party snack suggestions? A friend is celebrating her 60th and we will be watching the Judy Blume documentary. I’d like to bring a fun snack that evokes the 70s or 80s. It does need to be vegetarian.

    1. StellaBella*

      Green bean casserole with mushroom soup?
      Vegan Vichyssoise?
      Stuffed cabbage rolls?
      Pasta Primavera?
      Fajitas?
      stuffed bell peppers?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Seven layer dip. Lipton Onion dip. You could do pinwheels with just cheese slices and chive cream cheese. If you want to get really 70s… fondue. You could also bring a lot of Twinkies and Ding Dongs. I feel like Rice Krispie treats and Chex Mix had their heyday in the 80s.

      1. Bluebell*

        Lipton onion dip is definitely a contender! I’m looking for very simple. The spouse is providing cake so I’m leaning towards savory.

      2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Marshmallows, used in Rice Krispie treats, generally aren’t considered vegetarian because they contain gelatin, which is an animal product (also an issue with things like Jell-O and with most gummy candies). Specific vegetarians may or may not care about gelatin, so if trying to accommodate a specific person just ask them, but if trying for vegetarian-friendly foods in general it’s something to keep in mind. This might also be an issue with some prepared snack cakes, but it’s been a while since I’ve read labels on those. (I think some snack cakes might also contain either lard or tallow, which would be anther animal product issue for vegetarians. I know there’s a reason I stopped buying most of them, but I no longer remember if it was a vegetarian-thing, an avoiding-soy thing, or some other reason.)

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

      The Jane and Michael Stern cookbook *Square Meals* has some good ’60s patio party snacks that may have been part of your childhoods a little later. Pigs in a blanket, maybe?

      1. Bluebell*

        I loved making crescent roll hotdogs in elementary school, but not sure how they’d translate with smartdogs.

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

          Whoops, sorry — I missed the vegetarian requirement!

          When I googled “vegetarian pigs in blanket,” though, some stuff came up.

          The one that seemed most appetizing to me and looked the most like the original recipe was from forkinthekitchen dot com. It used carrots marinated and then boiled in a soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, onion powder, and brown sugar marinade for the inside and then wrapped in crescent rolls.

        2. Roland*

          I make them all the time, I just get whatever fully-cooked vegetarian hot dog is at the supermarket that day and use the exact same crescent rolls. No problemo.

        3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’ve used chunks of cheese instead of hot dogs. I eventually switched to completely surrounding the cheese with dough rather than leaving the ends open and making them smaller, both of which helped. Goat cheese works well for the filling since it tends to keep its shape rather than melt.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I LITERALLY HAVE ONE OF THESE

        It’s not from the 1970s; I bought it in 2013 or so. Never used it (yet), but I refuse to get rid of it because I know I will at some point.

        Tip from a waitress at Melting Pot, a fondue chain restaurant: toss the shredded cheese in a little flour or cornstarch before you melt it in the pot to make it not separate and get gross. About a tablespoon per pound.

      2. Chaordic One*

        If you don’t do dairy, the “Daiya” brand of plant-based cheese slices are a very good substitute that melt just like real cheese.

    4. Lexi Vipond*

      Things on cocktail sticks, stuck into a piece of fruit covered in silver foil. Not that much of it was vegan in those days, but there’s surely nothing more 80s than that!

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      7-layer salad! (You can use veggie bacon bits to replace the meat version.)

      One of those old-school cheese balls with crackers also would work.

      1. Bluebell*

        If I had really thought ahead I could have bought a gift basket from hickory farms and saved the summer sausage for my pup! I found out about 6 months ago that they were still around.

    6. Elle*

      Dig deep into the first Moosewood cookbook that came out in the early 70s. I’m sure that will have some tasty vegetarian gems.

      1. Bluebell*

        Nope, though my sisters and I text each other when we are in antique shops and see something we recognize from mom’s kitchen.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I don’t know if it is that kind of party, but I was the hit of a ’70s theme party when I brought a bottle of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill.

        1. Bluebell*

          My mom drank lots of Chablis in the 70s! If I was to bring nostalgic alcohol it would be freixenet, but I’m leaning away from that.

    8. the cat's pajamas*

      Never got around to trying it but a cookbook for kids I used to have suggested cleaning out a can from soup/veggies or whatever, then filling it with jello and then putting a banana in it. Then you slice it after the jello has set.

      Other Jello molds/fruit salads with Jello/Waldorf salad recipes might be fun, too.

    9. Jay*

      For something sweet, you could try Watergate Salad or Dump Salad (just substitute non-dairy toppings for the whipped cream). They are whipped cream and fruit/nut based desserts/sides/snacks rather than actual salads, FYI.
      They are old fashioned, very tasty, and super quick and easy.
      Watergate Salad: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/13811/watergate-salad/
      Dump Salad: https://www.shugarysweets.com/cherry-dump-salad/ Note: You can make this with just about any fruit you like. Orange is pretty fantastic, as is lime.

        1. Jay*

          OH MY GOD!!!
          I had never even hear of this, and it’s exactly the kind of cake I absolutely love. I will absolutely be making this for my Fourth cookout. Thank you!

    10. Camelid coordinator*

      I loved thinking about this question! I still do like Lipton onion dip and make it at holidays. My only other idea was peanut butter Fluff sandwiches (maybe not vegetarian). Have a great party!

  51. canceling vacay*

    Husband I were planning to take a beach trip for a milestone anniversary in late July. Leaving town is a huge undertaking for us, since we have complicated eldercare responsibilities.

    I’ve had mild psoriasis for years, but for some reason I’ve just started the worst flare I’ve ever had, with large angry plaques over my entire body. My usual topical steroid cream is no longer sufficient.

    My question for fellow sufferers is, if I pursue a stronger option like a biologic, is it realistic to be mostly cleared up by late July? I would not be able to go in the ocean in my current condition, and travel is so hard for us that I want to cancel ASAP if it’s necessary. (To be clear, just asking about timeframes, not for Rx advice.)

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

      No idea about the timing of the biologic, but as the daughter of someone who had pretty bad psoriasis AND as someone who used to have some eldercare responsibilities, I’m going to urge to go on that vacation. When you’re doing care work, you absolutely need a break. Even if you wind up just wading into the water a bit and spending most of the time reading and lounging on a beach chair, looking at the pretty waves, that’s still time well spent in self care.

      Query — can you not go in the ocean because you’re shy about what people might think? Or because it would hurt? If it’s the former, I urge you to go ahead and swim anyway. The sunlight will be good for your psoriasis, and relaxing will as well!

      1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

        Seconding! If it’s safe for you physically/medically to go, I hope you do go. If I saw someone with plaque psoriasis going in the sea in a bathing suit, I’d feel a sense of cheering for them (in recognition of how challenging it can be and in gladness that they’re doing things that bring joy).

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

        And if the idea of having people see the psoriasis just feels like too much, remember that you can get sun-protective swimwear that will cover almost all of you while you swim! Check out, for example the Solumbra fabric swimwear at sunprecautions dot com. There are also swimwear collections for people of various religions who dress modestly, but I don’t know what those are called.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          If this would be helpful: My swim stuff comes from Undercover Waterwear – they have one-pieces (i.e., dresses) as well as separates, including swimsuit-material “leggings” with a skirt over them.

      3. canceling vacay*

        The pain/open wound hygiene is the issue. We would cancel the beach specifically, and go somewhere else instead.

        1. KatEnigma*

          Umm yeah. If you have open wounds, please talk to your doctor. You’re getting some extraordinarily and casually bad advice about this. I speak as someone under my hospital’s outpatient Wound Care currently. Even before my infection, my doctor’s orders were not to get open wounds wet- the same with my son’s upcoming minor procedure (no swimming 2 weeks) and my FIL’s and husband’s recent ones (no swimming for a month) In fact, we timed my son’s procedure so that our visit to the beach is 2 weeks before his procedure.

        2. WellRed*

          I have no experience with the psoriasis but I think you should cancel and plan something else instead since that sounds like an option. It’s so hard to predict how new meds will or won’t work.

      1. canceling vacay*

        Just getting a yes/no is a $125 specialist copay. I hope you can understand that some of us with chronic issues and limited income need to research with peers first, to get an idea of whether we’re just throwing money down a hole.

    2. sagewhiz*

      Oh, get in that salt water! It has always helped my psoriasis. So does olive oil, the only thing I could stand to subdue the pain of a horrific flare-up that occurred on my face.

    3. Lynn*

      My husband has severe eczema (open wounds on large portions of his body) which is only able to be controlled by a biologic. So I get what you mean about a beach trip not being physically possible with extreme skin conditions. When he started it took longer than a month. I think it was 2-3 months to see results, but it WORKED. It was literally life changing for us.

      So likely wouldn’t be fully effective by a month from now, but I highly recommend asking your doctor about them.

    4. WS*

      If you haven’t tried options other than a steroid cream, they’re very unlikely to put you straight onto a biologic. They’ll treat with an immune suppressant of some kind first (there’s many of them). But the good news is that they generally work faster than the biologics, which can take 2-3 months minimum to kick in and sometime much longer. Not knowing your personal medical situation, they might just want to put you on a short course of prednisolone or similar to take down the current flare. And a GP should be able to do that, not a specialist.

    5. jleebeane*

      My husband has been on Skyrizi for about a year now, but I was amazed at how quickly his very bad psoriasis cleared up. (Not only did he have very large plaques on arms, legs, and back, it covered his scalp and even into his ears. I cannot imagine how he lived uncomplainingly with it for so long.) The regular dosage is every three months, but they started him with a one-month loading dose and his skin was noticeably clearer by the time of his second dose. They did do some liver and other testing before they’d start him on it, and I think that might be a more significant delay for you than the actual time before you saw an effect from the medication.

      It is $17,000 a dose, but he’s had zero side effects and the manufacturer has (so far!) covered the entire cost, less a $5 copay. Yes, that is a $16,995 discount, four times a year.

  52. Hatch Chiles*

    Like anything for personal use, this is very subjective, but what are your favorite nail clippers and/or dish scrubber with wand?

    My favorite pair of nail clippers went missing and they don’t make them anymore. I like the dishwasher wand from IKEA, but want to get something else. The one I have right now is some off brand and it’s absolute trash. I saw Scrub Daddy has a wand version now so I’ll probably get that and whatever the AAM crowd suggests!

    Any other random things in your life that you think, “I love this thing!” every time you use it? For me this is my air fryer toaster oven (crux, not sold at Bed Bath and Beyond anymore). I put off buying an air fryer for years and now every time I’m like, it cooks so much faster and (with the exception of cookies) better! Starry eyes.

    1. Miki*

      Tweezerman brand nail clippers (they had a 2 nail clipper sets for Christmas last year, everyone in my family received it) specifically Men’s Combo Clipper Set.
      Most Tweezerman brand clippers have free sharpening included (I utilized the feature for tweezers for many years now), so I highly recommend it.

    2. Jessica*

      Venoteck brand nail clippers, bought off Amazon. I just got them relatively recently and could not believe I’d been using regular ones my whole life when I could’ve had these. They’re so good.

    3. I take tea*

      My favourite nail clipper is a pair of scissors that my roommate’s mother had swiped from her job as a nurse. I’ve used them for thirty years, and they are still good.

      1. Hatch Chiles*

        That’s awesome! Does this count as serendipity?! Though it they are short lived, I found the BEST pens at a previous job that used to get pens from drug reps. I haven’t found a pen like those since.

        Thanks everyone! I’m going to buy all three reccs above.

  53. the cat's pajamas*

    That one is good, “I’m a Stranger Here Myself” is also good, and a series of collected newspaper columns from when he moved to back to the states after being in England for 20 years. It’s more about the US but still funny and highlights the cultural differences from the other side. “The Road to Little Dribbling” is another one.

    Not a book, but Ted Lasso was mostly good.

  54. Elizabeth West*

    What’s your favorite space-saving tip for small homes/apartments?

    My neighbor showed me something ingenious — you know how people save plastic grocery bags for reuse as bin liners for small trash cans? They aren’t heavy, but they sure are bulky. Just flatten each one and fold it in half, then fold the part that sticks out to the side inward. Finally, going from the bottom up, fold the entire thing into a little triangular packet, similar to how you make a paper football, and tuck the handles into the pocket on the side.

    You can get tons of little footballs into one bag and stash it in a smaller space. It even works with the heavy plastic Target / Walmart bags. :)

    1. Lavender*

      That’s a great idea! My apartment is approximately the size of a postage stamp, so I will definitely try this.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I was gobsmacked by how clever it is! Sat on the sofa one night last week to catch up on Abbott Elementary and folded all the bags I had crammed under the sink. :)

        1. Indolent Libertine*

          I’m convinced that they breed in those corners we consign them to! We do try to avoid acquiring them, but reality has other plans often enough.

          1. Trixie Belden was my hero*

            Thanks, this is fantastic. I’m a more visual learner, I searched you tube for “folding a plastic bag into a triangle” and found a quick video. Apparently I used A LOT of plastic bags as packing material when I packed up my old place and I don’t want to waste them. It’s going to take me a long time to fold all of them, but my need to have everything efficiently organized will prevail. And I will not have to buy bags for bathroom trash cans for YEARS!

            1. Chauncy Gardener*

              This is fantastic! It’s doing nothing but raining here, so it’s the perfect opportunity to fold my plastic bag hoard

    2. AGD*

      Using a wide set of open shelves as a room divider by placing it perpendicular to a wall in a strategic place. It still lets light through, objects are accessible from both sides, and yet it feels like it’s subdividing the space and creating some cosy corners.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          It works though! I had a super teeny studio apartment in college, and I made a “bedroom” by doing exactly this. :)

          I guess small space / apartment tips is a better topic — all ideas are welcome!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Adding a set by our front door was a game changer. The shelves hold shoes, mostly–also the dog leashes. On top a lamp, mask box, and whatever else you might today want to set on something at table height.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Meant to say, it saves space by putting spot-for-stuff right where you need it. Rather than having a pile of shoes by the door.

    3. Not A Manager*

      My best space-saving tip is to get rid of crap. But next on the list are wire shelf dividers so you can put one stack of things under them and one stack of things on top of them; stacking plastic drawers; and little bins for inside drawers or on shelves. I’ve recently discovered small clear pouches with a magnetic back that I keep my shopping/general list pad in and some pens, and a dry erase board with a magnetic back. They fit neatly on the side of my refrigerator and I always have a place to jot a note. I keep a second pouch on the other side to hold my receipts and coupons.

      My DIL has organized her household’s entire set of herbs and spices in magnetic shelves that fit on the side of her fridge.

      ALSO… I’ve recently moved into an apartment with a second bathroom. I personally, as one individual, do not need a second bathtub, so I use it for large storage. There’s a frisson of naughtiness, but I have my stepladder, clothes drying rack, and shopping cart in there and it’s all hidden behind the shower curtain.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have one of those wire dividers I got at Lowes. The legs were too long so the clerk got some bolt cutters and we lopped off about an inch and a half. It stands over my Blu-ray player and Roku and holds my game consoles. :)

      2. Girasol*

        On that note, move a lot. If you have to pack your stuff up often it makes you really rethink what you don’t need.

      3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Specifically about having an “extra”, disused bathroom rather than storage ideas: you will probably want to run water through the toilet, sink, and tub/shower at least every couple of months. You will get gross smells coming up from the sewer pipes if the water in the p-trap, u-bend, and similar evaporates and no longer creates a seal. If you owned the place and wanted to decommission the bathroom you could cap the pipes, but in an apartment it’s best just to run the water often enough to keep the various intentional low spots charged.

        Depending on your building’s overall plumbing topology, you may also get backups in other places if you aren’t running enough water through that part of the sewer system. I had that issue in my house when I was doing all of my showering in the, shall we say, “downstream” bathroom but using both the “upstream” as well as “downstream” toilet (particularly when I had company). The “upstream” part of the system wasn’t getting enough water through it to keep everything washing down the pipes and out of the house, and it took several extremely gross problems and calls to the plumber to sort the whole thing out. Making sure to take at least one shower a week in that bathroom ended up being key to keeping enough water running through the rest of the house.

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      Bathroom towel shelves made of those metal bars can double as a drying rack for hang-dry clothes. And a tension shower curtain rod in a sunny window is a great and removable temporary drying rack for things on hangers.

      In my old place we installed a little acrylic shallow double shelf on the side wall of the under-sink cabinet to store small items for cleaning.

      The Ikea wood spice rack makes a great mini bookshelf for kids’ books (covers facing out).

    5. Rosengilmom*

      I grab my plastic bags by the bottom, wrap it around 3 of my finger held together, when I get to the handles, pass them through the center so each bag holds itself in a roundish shape. have previously amazed friends with this trick.

  55. Lavender*

    Anyone have any podcast recommendations? My job involves a lot of boring and repetitive work, and listening to podcasts makes it bearable or even sometimes enjoyable. Here are some of my current favorites:

    *Anything hosted by Sarah Marshall and/or Michael Hobbes (You’re Wrong About, Maintenance Phase, If Books Could Kill, etc.)
    *Worst Bestsellers – Funny reviews of popular books. Not all of them are negative, even though the title implies otherwise.
    *Normal Gossip – People anonymously send in gossipy/drama-filled stories from their real lives, and the hosts discuss them. It’s like listening to a reality show about regular people.
    *Podcast But Outside – The two hosts go to an outdoor location (examples include a music festival, a wedding, a marathon, and the WGA strike picket line), set up a table, and interview people who walk by. The hosts are both comedians so it can be very funny, but a lot of the interviews are genuinely interesting and thought-provoking.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Ridiculous Crime. The hosts discuss very weird and/or silly heists and capers, both modern and historical. It’s “99% murder free” and absolutely hilarious. I think someone else here recommended it — I got really into it when I was stuck in Mom’s house.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend Burnt Toast, Dear Prudence, Bad Dates, The Financial Confessions, and Sounds Like a Cult.

    3. vombatus ursinus*

      It sounds like we have pretty similar tastes in podcasts, so I’ll chime in! :D

      Decoder Ring from Slate is great — somewhat similar concept to You’re Wrong About (“solving cultural mysteries”), but a bit of a more fun/upbeat and narrative-driven vibe.

      Scam Goddess — very funny analysis of contemporary and historical scams and scammers.

      Overdue is one of my favourites — two college friends start a podcast reading books that have been sitting on their shelves and telling each other about it. Ten years and about 600 books later, it’s still going. Episodes from the first six months or so might still be a bit rough — I’d recommend starting with a book you’ve read if the episode is more recent than that, an episode on famous series like Twilight or the Hunger Games, or maybe one of the choose your own adventure episodes.

      I’m also kind of into a niche of podcasts that do feminist analysis of books/movies/folk tales — if you are too, try Witch Please (Harry Potter world) or Metamashina (various).

      Happy listening!

    4. Ally*

      I really like Conan O Brien needs a Friend, standard celeb interview podcast but it’s so charming and funny.

      Sarah Marshall’s You Are Good is nice too, if a bit more chill than You’re Wrong About.

      I just started the Will & Grace rewatch podcast – called Just Jack and Will- only 2 episodes out so far but they’re funny.

      Invisibilia is great too- I think they stopped making them but they will still be interesting, especially if you liked You’re Wrong About.

    5. Water Everywhere*

      Miss Information: A Trivia Podcast is one I discovered a few months ago and really enjoy. Each episode is a deep dive into a topic that might come up on trivia nights, and the hosts are best friends and very engaging (& lots of laughter). They don’t post regularly anymore (since last Dec) but there’s over 200 episodes available.

    6. Annie Edison*

      A friend just introduced me to “Oh No Ross and Carrie,” in which the hosts experience and dissect various forms of new age and alternative spirituality. I’m half way through a 4 part series on some weird new age cult based in Ashland Oregon and I’m utterly fascinated

    7. Also Cute and Fluffy!*

      Go Fact Yourself: a game show where two celebrities answer questions on things they know nothing about and then on things that they love that they don’t do for a living. Then someone who is involved in the subject they know about comes on to say whether they got the answers right or wrong. Lisa Loeb and Reggie Watts were the two competitors in the last episode. Lisa’s topic was peanut butter and Reggie’s was Battlestar Galactica.

  56. Red Sky*

    I was in my local grocery store this week minding my business, trying to find a ripe avocado and I could not help (ok I could totally help myself, just didn’t want to) overhearing two young produce stockers discussing how to get a promotion and move up to manager. One was giving not great, but not truly horrible, advice to the other. Y’all, I had no restraint and butted right in to recommend AAM. Has anyone else suggest AAM to random strangers?

    1. KatEnigma*

      Not in person, but other agony aunts often give really horrendous career advice- especially the Nepo babies who never worked in a real office because they inherited their mother’s columns- and in the comment sections, I and others often suggest AAM.

      1. KEWLM0M*

        Well! I thank you! I found out about AAM in 2016, after having read a comment on a Dear Abby letter. Game changer!

      2. GraceC*

        There was a Dear Prudence “I think my coworker’s ex sent revenge porn to the office” letter this week and the answer was nowhere NEAR as good as Alison’s on the same topic

        I just want to shake people who write to places like DP with workplace problems and scream nooooo you need to talk to Ask A Manager!