weekend open thread – June 3-4, 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: Bad Summer People, by Emma Rosenblum. Badly behaved rich people get into various forms of trouble while summering on an exclusive island. It’s gossipy and fun. I saw a review compare it to White Lotus, and that’s spot-on.

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

{ 978 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. Everything All The Time*

    I bought a house about a month ago and I am still, currently, living in the “immediate post move chaos”.

    My grandmother has decided that NOW is the time to “drop in” and when I told her I was not ready to host, she said “Nonsense,” and ignored me. My fam is actively encouraging my grandmother to drop in and refuses to try and head her off at the pass, and has told me to take photos of her in my house so I can show them to her when she claims I never let her in my house.
    For the sake of family peace I am asking you:
    Other than declutter, find my vacuum, and make sure my kitchen isn’t disgusting… what are the main things y’all clean when the guests are going to show up? I cannot fully unpack before she arrives.

    1. WellRed*

      In this case, I wouldn’t bother. But otherwise, yeah, clutter, vacuum, maybe wipe counters and bathroom sink. That’s it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same. She invited herself even though you told her you’re not ready for guests yet. If she doesn’t like how it is, tough noogies.

        I feel you; I’ve been here for a month and it still looks like I’m living in my storage container. Unpacking and culling extra stuff takes time. Plus, boxes take up more room than the things inside them.

        1. gsa*

          I have not read all of the responses. Please allow her to come and cook and clean as much as she wants.

          And be grateful you still have a grandmother. We have none on all sides of the family.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        Totally agree with this. I would have a sparkling clean bathroom and not worry about another thing. I would also say looking back on my long life, this: The happiest day in your life is the day you learn to say no and mean it. No to your family, no to your church volunteer coordinator, no to adding extra projects to your already heavy schedule at work, no to the Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to your door. The world won’t stop when you start advocating for yourself and people, especially family, will get used to it.

        1. Anonymous Just Because*

          Agree to all of this, especially the religious visitors. We just moved into a new place and they literally showed up as we were packing stuff in! We were polite and took the pamphlet, tossed it on the front step and turned around and started to work again. They quickly left. We weren’t trying to be intentionally rude, but holy hell! EATT, if I were you, I’d host granny exactly as the house is and let the chips fall where they may. No apologies about why the place is a mess, either! Sometimes, older people lose their filters about what is rude.

        2. Samwise*

          I would not. I would not do one bit of work extra, especially not for someon who has been very clearly told not to come.

          I guess I would be sure to have soap and paper towels in the bathroom.

          If it’s too dirty or cluttered for grandma, maybe she’ll leave. I’d call that a win.

    2. PerraFortunata*

      Hi, congratulations on the new place!
      My go-to fix is cleaning/straightening surfaces. If there’s anything on the dining table, coffee table, kitchen counters; stack it neatly (YOU DON’T NEED TO APOLOGIZE FOR IT! YOU JUST MOVED!!) or stow it if you know where it goes. Don’t worry about unpacked boxes, etc.

      In the kitchen, hit counters, sink, stovetop, frig handles with glass cleaner and rag or paper towels.
      In the bathroom, shine up sink and mirror with glass cleaner and rag/paper towels. Check the toilet, pull the shower curtain, put out a fresh hand towel.
      I like to pick the spot where we’ll visit. See that chairs are a comfy distance apart, and see that there’s a place for her cup of tea.
      Honestly, unless floors are covered with some sort of mess, floors are the last thing I do! Hit ‘em if it’s bugging you, but I truly think they’re not what folks notice. Fixing something easy and delicious to share with your guest is likely better use of your time. And likely what she’ll remember.
      I repeat- don’t dare apologize! Ha ha, everyone knows what it’s like to move. Remember to be compassionate with life’s limitations! And enjoy y’all’s visit.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        thank you!!! it’s been really chaotic trying to set up my house around everything else I need to do and I’m just running on fumes.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I would tell her “I’m so glad you’re here! I was just in there middle of [unpacking this box][cleaning the bathroom][ordering a fridge], do you want to [label things][use this dust cloth] or [take notes on fridge dimensions][measure countertop dimensions while I write them down]?

          In other words, you TOLD her why you don’t want her. Now show her. Best case you get an extra pair of hands to help you clean.

          I’d also search CaptainAwkward for boundaries conversations because this sounds a bit missing stair-ish.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            THIS. You’ve said you’re not ready for company, and she said nonsense. So call her back and say if she’s really serious, you haven’t been able to do XYZ because ABC and you’d buy her pizza if she helps ABC. obviously if she’s frail she’s not going up on a ladder, but maybe she’d unwrap glasses and wash them while you clean the previous owner’s crumbs from that cupboard.

            and if she just sits and asks for things, well shes been warned you know where nothing is yet.

      2. Sc@rlettNZ*

        She sounds like a nightmare. I wouldn’t make any special effort. She’s coming after you specifically told her not to. I’d be of the mindset that she could like it or lump it.

      3. Observer*

        You’re describing a lot of work. Given the dynamic at play here, I really would not do that much.

    3. Viette*

      for someone whom you’re encouraged to “take photos of her in my house so I can show them to her when she claims I never let her in my house” I wouldn’t clean anything. But for normal guests, it’s vacuum, bathroom, dishes, and declutter useful surfaces.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        she claims she “never saw my apartment” when I lived in it, and “she was hurt she was never invited” but the truth was that the apartment was a perfect mixture of “terrible” and “so dreadfully meh” that she forgot she’d been to visit more than once.

        If I have photos to prove she’s been in my house, I can keep her future invasions limited to holidays when I am PREPARED to host.

        1. Pennyworth*

          When you have the photograph, get it framed nicely and give it to her as a constant reminder that yes, she was there.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I would be inclined to lock up the house and take a mini-vacation before she arrives. You TOLD her it was a bad time.

      Have you actually said to her, “no I’m not joking you can’t come”?

      1. Everything All The Time*

        yep, but she firmly lives in Bananapants Land and wants to believe that I’m “hiding my life from her.” (I’m not. I’m just tired and boring)

        1. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

          Ooh, you should leave some things in plain sight that look like you are trying to hide them. My imagination fails me ATM, thinking maybe accessories for an embarrassing hobby, a bunch of fake drivers licences/passport (because you’re a to secret spy), a superhero costume, or something really unlike you (I’m thinking sequin leopard print dress, but that’s actually totally like me so I’m off to Google where I can get one for myself)

        2. The Shenanigans*

          You still don’t have to open the door, though. But if you want to…get some Hustler mags, an Ouija board, some booze, whatever will scandalize her. Answer the door in your PJs. Let her draw whatever conclusions she likes. Have a sanitary bathroom but don’t worry about anything else. She’ll never believe you aren’t hiding something, so may as well have fun living down to her expectations lol.

        3. Middle Aged Lady*

          Is Granny rich and gonna leave you money? If not, tell her again not to come and if she does, let her take her lumps. As others said, hand her a cleaning cloth or send her out to buy meals because ‘kitchen isn’t unpacked yet.” Or as others suggest, put out some stuff you know will offend her. S-e-x toys, tarot cards, nude statues of gods with candles and flowers in front of them. Tell her she can help smudge the space and salt the windows with pentagrams. The rest of the family is also culpable for not dissuading her. I say banish the whole lot until they behave. But that’s just me, harsh. And again, Grams may be wealthy and you have to suck up for reasons. If so, make her buy all the stuff you need. Yes, I am harsh but I see no reason besides $$ to put up with intrusive folk. Especially liars who you have to photograph for proof against their BS.

          1. The Shenanigans*

            Oooh I like the idea of putting her to work! If you visit when people are unpacking, cleaning, etc you should expect to be told to help out.

        4. Emma*

          She sounds unreasonable, and like she’s going to choose whatever she wants to believe. It’s also ok to just let it go and let her believe what she wants.

          Maybe consider therapy? I found my therapist on the psychology today website. Highly recommend!

        5. Velomont*

          Is there any reason why you can’t go ahead and “hide your life from her”? And what’s wrong with doing that anyway? Your life is, after all, nobody else’s business.

    5. Squidhead*

      We (willingly) hosted my MIL and her friend 2 weeks after moving in. Both guest rooms had beds with sheets and everyone had a clean towel (though I’m not sure there were towel bars yet!). Both guest rooms unapologetically had stacks of boxes along one to two walls. The kitchen was mostly unpacked at least to the point where we could make coffee and use actual mugs and make simple meals, but if you’re feeling a little petty you could say you’re really not set up for cooking yet and check out some local restaurants. (Maybe Grandma will get the hint and/or treat you?)

      It sounds like there’s some tension here so it depends on how much you want to be perceived as “warm and flexible host” versus “suck it up, buttercup.” If you actually do value her visit (just not the timing), I’d go for clean bathroom, clean kitchen, and surfaces clear for sitting, and make sure there are some favorite foods or comfort items around. If you’re irked about the whole thing, return awkwardness to sender…sorry, we only have paper plates and we haven’t found the coffee maker yet! Sorry, we’re sorting the winter clothes for storage on that sofa but here is a folding chair! Allow the inconveniences to remain (but you may have to hear about them until the end of time). If she wants to see you that badly, she’ll be delighted for you and your house and will forgive it all. If she’s expecting the Hilton, she’ll see that you really meant it when you said you weren’t ready.

      I have a dear friend whose house is always cluttered, you have to assemble the folding futon to sleep, neither bathroom is finished (there’s a hole in the floor of one) and if she invites me none of it matters because I want to see her!

      1. Squidhead*

        Replying to myself to say that: needing to take photos of someone doing something they will later claim they never did doesn’t sound like there’s a winning angle for you here. Whether she was always Like This or this is an age-related development, you’re not going to fix the fact that she’ll write the story the way she wants. With that in mind, focus on the things that keep you sane and the space livable for you (which probably includes a minimum level of hygiene), move any obvious trip hazards or things you don’t want to discuss, and keep working through your unpacking at your own pace.

        Also, I talked about overnight guests but does “drop in” mean more like a couple of hours? Show her around the place warts and all, make sure the bathroom is clean, serve some pie, and take some photos.

        1. Everything All The Time*

          She’s ALWAYS like this, she’s already upset because I got a dishwasher “and it’s just me in there!!!”
          it’s “just a visit for brunch” thank god, but she’s wants to be the first visitor.
          I’ve had to pick up a box of easy to make dessert because I “have to” present them to her, even if she’s not hungry.
          She’s not super mobile so I’ve done my best on the floors to remove tripping hazards, and I’m trying to make sure she won’t see the 1 staircase in my home and decide that she needs to see the basement. (It’s not a fun basement. It is a utility basement. It’s literally laundry and storage.)

          1. Lissa Evans*

            Also, I do want to say, you can absolutely tell her no, she can’t come until you are ready for guests. If there are ongoing boundary issues with her, I’d even encourage it. Otherwise, let her come and don’t worry at all about the mess, she was told!

          2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            Do you have a local friend who you can ask to come over, drop off something useful, and maybe stay for a few minutes, before your grandmother descends?

            My thought is that you could then call your grandmother, and tell her that so-and-so dropped by for a few minutes, and told you that the place obviously isn’t ready for anyone to visit. The subtext being that she can’t be the first visitor unless her housewarming gift is a time machine.

            I don’t think there’s any good answer here–it sounds as though, however much cleaning or unpacking you do, she will decide you are Doing It Wrong. And even if she comes over, has brunch, and tells everyone about the visit, she’ll claim later that it didn’t happen. So it’s not worth knocking yourself out for someone who you didn’t invite, and who will tell everyone that you wouldn’t let her visit even if you do invite her over, feed her a nice lunch, and take a bunch of “grandma in the kitchen” and “grandma in front of .EATT’s new house.”

          3. Kay*

            WHAT!?!?

            I would kindly suggest asking yourself why you are willing to accept this behavior. And why you care? Her behavior to me this seems so far beyond reasonable I would have stopped caring (and likely cut her out of my life already) about what she thinks long time ago. To me this is so over the top – I wouldn’t open the door whenever it is that she shows up.

          4. Seashell*

            Adults get to decide if they have a dishwasher or not. Tell Grandma she doesn’t get a say on topics like that unless she’s paying.

      1. English Rose*

        Yes, anywhere someone is going to be by themselves and can study cleanliness closely. But what a nightmare for you!

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Yeah, no, I wouldn’t let her in. I don’t let people invite themselves to my home under the best of circumstances, I definitely don’t let them in when it is terrible circumstances, they invite themselves AND I HAVE TOLD THEM NO.

      1. Theon, Theon, it rhymes with neon*

        This. I don’t invite myself to other people’s homes, and they don’t get to invite themselves to mine.

        My stepdaughter’s grandmother tried to pull a similar stunt, and my boundary-less wife and stepdaughter were trying to pressure me to let her come over, because otherwise she would tell the rest of the family we were trying to hide something! Like that would be the worst possible thing. I said I had no control over other people’s irrational behavior, and that it was a mistake to think appeasing her would make her less irrational. It would only reinforce her power.

        After my stepdaughter got her own apartment and didn’t enforce any boundaries, she ended up checking into a hotel to get away from her grandmother, whom she could not ask to leave her–studio!–apartment. Around the time of this debacle, my wife and stepdaughter started coming around to my idea that maybe boundaries with family have their place.

        Meanwhile, I was living in my own home with my wife and not having to check into a hotel to escape unwanted guests. Boundaries are amazing.

    7. CatCat*

      Ugh, I’m sorry your family is so rude and disrespecting you so hard.

      Given that you want to “keep the peace,” which I assume here means grandma gets to trample your boundaries (or you’ll be painted as the bad guy for), I’d just have the kitchen and bathrooms “not disgusting.” Everything else? She gets what she gets.

      1. Everything All The Time*

        you hit the nail on the head there. if you tell her no too much she decides that means what you TRULY want is for her to stay and do worse things in your home.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Well, you didn’t ask for this and you probably won’t thank me for it, but I’m so angry on your behalf. This is not normal, it’s not okay, your family is enabling her bullying. If you’re asking a bunch of internet strangers, I think you are totally within your rights to tell her firmly that it’s a bad time, you won’t be hosting her, and literally not open the door. I’m serious when I say you should just be elsewhere when she arrives.

          1. tangerineRose*

            Yeah, what she’s doing is obnoxious, and your family’s being obnoxious too.

          2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Yup. Even if you’re okay with this, I’m furious on your behalf and would 100% support you not even opening the door for her (or anyone else who somehow thinks this is even a little bit okay and is encouraging her).

            1. Expiring Cat Memes*

              Yeah, I’m with you 3. This would set fire to all my personal boundary alarms and I would be absolutely livid. Grandma and family want to insist? Fine, she can stand or sit on a cardboard box, and I hope she brought her own refreshments and entertainment because I’ll be busy unpacking in another room. Too rough and unwelcoming? So? The host said she wasn’t ready to welcome guests. You get what you get.

              1. the cat's ass*

                totally in agreement. I’m pissed at the boundary stomping but you sound like you’ve got it well in hand with the box of desserts, possibly a lock on the door heading to the basement. Bathroom shouldn’t require a hazmat suit, and that’s about all i’d do. Good luck!

          3. MEH Squared*

            Agreed. EEAT, I have a mother who takes every boundary she sees as a challenge to overcome. She has never met a boundary she didn’t ignore, poke at, or outright trample on. I learned in my thirties that I was going to be miserable no matter what in dealing with her, so I had to choose if I wanted to be miserable doing what she wanted me to do or miserable not doing it. I’m not being facetious about this. Sometimes, I chose to do the thing she wanted me to do. Sometimes I didn’t.

            The bottom line is that if I’m going to be miserable no matter what, I’m choosing what makes me less miserable overall. In your case, I honestly would just not answer your grandmother’s phone calls or calls from other family memebers. Or just keep saying no. They’re counting on you to be the reasonable one because Grandmother won’t be. Nothing will make your grandmother happy and even if you do allow her to visit and take the picture, she’ll just move the goalposts.

            I will say that holding my ground for important things has made me happier in the long run. It’s brutal in the short run, but if you say no consistently over time, that becomes the new norm.

      2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Yep, kitchen and bathroom should be at ‘not biologically disgusting’. If you clean any large flat surfaces (like floors and counters) light and shove the clutter to the edges, it makes a large visual improvement with comparatively little work. Also a good idea to take a few minutes with a large trash bag to throw away all the things you’ve been meaning to throw away. I personally would also make sure my underwear is not visible anywhere.

        Also, make sure to put your grandma to work if at all possible. After all, you still have packing that you need help with, no?

        1. Sloanicota*

          The good news is, still-packed boxes are actually perfectly fine to have stacked in the rooms, and will in my opinion look “tidier” still in the box that they would if unpacked if they can’t be put away yet because you’re not ready / can’t decide where they go. I’d focus on having at least one place people can sit, clean kitchen, clean bathroom, but boxes everywhere.

      3. Emily Elizabeth*

        I know this has probably been asked before in various capacities, but favorite light/not complex media for being sick in bed? After all these years I finally have tested positive for COVID for the first time and on top of quarantining, am feeling exhausted and not even into my usual downtime hobbies. I have almost all the streaming platforms and like reality TV, not too heavy documentaries, sitcoms, comedy movies, etc, but am open to anything!

    8. Llama Llama*

      As someone who moved a month and invited family over for dinner last week, what spaces will she be in? I cleaned the kitchen, tidied my living room and made sure the bathroom had toilet paper and a clean hand towel. Beyond that I didn’t care. Kids rooms were a mess. My room, mess. Garbage? Could not even walk in it. Yard? Hadn’t been mowed in a bit (we even were out there quite a bit!)

    9. Might Be Spam*

      Your family should not be pushing you to let her visit and you shouldn’t need pictures to prove she was there.

      I would put her to work and not treat her like a guest. She’ll remember that.

    10. Sswj*

      I wouldn’t do anything different from what you’d be doing anyway. Warn her one more time that the place is post-move chaos, and then Stick to your unpacking and organizing plans. if she’s uncomfortable that’s on her, not you.

    11. JSPA*

      Eh, give her a rag, ikea kits and a screwdriver. She’s a human with hands, not a relic (nor your externalized superego).

    12. Ellis Bell*

      Honestly, I’d give her a washrag of her own and say you’re still wiping stuff down! Make it memorable. But, if you really want to host her, I’d make sure the bathroom or toilet is clean; somehow wiping down mirrors works at giving even an undecorated room a pop. I’d clear a nice area to sit in or have tea so it’s comfortable and can be navigated around (boxes out of the way are fine; you just moved). Give her a little tour of everywhere else, and show her some pictures of what you eventually want to do. You’re a very nice granddaughter and don’t let anyone tell you differently.

    13. Jemmy*

      Depending on the context, I’d be tempted to do something to thwart it, like invite her round at the same time as noisy renovations are happening, or don’t be there at all when she comes, or something drastic like this. And I wouldn’t tidy at all. Basically, I’d think of some way to make it as uncomfortable and ridiculous experience as possible for her. She’s walking all over the boundary you drew and I KNOW (oh I know) that sometimes it’s impossible to counteract that effectively (cause boundary flouters just don’t give a s! and are sometimes reinforced by the rest of the family) but sometimes it is possible to. Either way, good luck with Ms Boundary Flouter, and I hope your house move gradually comes together nicely : )

    14. Hotdog not dog*

      My in laws showed up unannounced to visit us 3 days after we moved into our first home, after hubby had already told them to wait until we had at least unpacked. I did not break stride, I handed MIL the cleaning caddy and a roll of shelf paper and had her clean the pantry, while FIL was drafted to help re grout the bathroom tile. That was the first, last, and only time they ever showed up without a specific invitation.

      1. OyHiOh*

        My parents once decided, more or less last minute to “drop in” on me from several states away. It happened to be a spectacularly bad week, timing wise, and I said so. They made that trip anyway, but decided in the aftermath, they somehow weren’t allowed in the *entire state* I live in without invitation starting from me. Yes, boundaries are an issue. No, I have no problem with their interpretation, which has held for nearly a decade now!

    15. The Other Dawn*

      Honestly, since she’s insisting on coming and no one, other than you, is telling her now is not a good time, then I don’t think you need to make any effort at all. If she shows up and is disgusted/annoyed/put out/insert whatever word works here, then that’s on her. She was warned. And I you might be feeling a little embarrassed that the house is a mess, but you just moved in. It’s not as though you’ve been there for years and you don’t clean. Most people take quite a while–sometimes years!–to get their house in order after moving.

    16. Falling Diphthong*

      Clean the bathrooms and kitchen. (This will probably make things feel less like a chaos nest even if no one visits.)

      If the visitor has any skills, put them to work.

      If they don’t have skills/physical ability to wield a scrub brush, wander around talking about what you hope to do with each space, indoors and out. Invite suggestions. You are allowed to then ignore all the suggestions.

    17. Ally*

      Honestly I wouldn’t bother! And as many others have suggested, pass her a broom when she arrives!

    18. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

      Not only would I not put any special effort into cleaning, I would actively be making my house as uninviting and uncomfortable as possible.
      Bed? Mattress on the floor.
      Bathroom? Boxes on top of the toilet seat that you have to move every time. More boxes inside the shower stall.
      Couch? Hide the cushions.
      If she complains that something isn’t up to her standards, bounce back with her “nonsense” comment.
      Now I’m in my 40s I am 100% done with trying to appease unreasonable people.

      1. JSPA*

        We… don’t know that she doesn’t intend to pull her own weight? I love a deep clean and unboxing, in ways that I don’t at all enjoy maintenance cleaning. As the only reasonable excuse she has for a visit is to be useful, why not make it so, rather than wasting effort on driving her away in ways that require actual planning and effort?

    19. Lissa Evans*

      It is mean and ridiculous for her to come. I guess I’d probably clean the toilets, but other than that, she has been warned.

    20. SofiaDeo*

      I personally wouldn’t even let her in, let alone make brunch or cook a special dessert. The “entire family” is giving you flak about this? Why do you care if it’s “disgusting?” Maybe if you stop jumping when they demand stuff, they’ll stop their harangues. My personal experience with this, is that u fortunately it does take a while for them to calm down. If you have to deal with them because of childcare or money issues, at best I would do is let her in the house. I wouldn’t make brunch, I would be all “oh you said you were bring food to me !”

      I like the idea an earlier poster had, to hand the unwanted visitor cleaning or other supplies and put them to work.

    21. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Don’t bother? You’ve told them it’s not a good time, it’s perfectly reasonable for them to deal with the consequences. As long as the kitchen and bathroom are marginally acceptable, you’re fine.

      I’d make sure she’s got somewhere to sit and put her to work. She might be old but there’s such a variety of things that need doing when you move in that there will be something she’s capable of.

    22. whynot*

      Wow, total overreactions in this thread. Yeah it’s annoying that she is going to visit despite your telling her not to, and it’s equally annoying that no one in your family is defending you to her, but her insistence has to be a known about her; as such, just go with the flow. “Hi Grandma! Come on in. Can I get you some coffee?” And visit, talk; hell, maybe she’ll offer to help unpack and clean. But if she complains or snarks about the status of your house, let her know that it’s the reason you didn’t want her around at this particular time.

      What other kind of reaction is there, really? Life is WAY too short to make this about stomping on boundaries or whatever overblown drama mentioned in the comments. If this is the worst of her qualities, be thankful for her otherwise and let this go. If this isn’t the worst, and there are other negatives, then this is about way more than an ill-timed visit. Either way, some commenters here have outright insulted your grandmother, and that, to me, truly is problematic.

      Meanwhile, I hope you have a nice visit with your grandmother, and that she has safe travels back home.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Each to his oen. I think life is too short to put up with nonsense from bullies and their enablers. I think our responses are tinged with our own life experiences, as always. I wouldn’t say people are overreacting. This kind of behavior is usually part of a long-standing pattern and it can be quote distresing to experience. I think those of us who are saying put your foot down have been in this situation before. Perhaps you have not.

        1. whynot*

          Sure, I have. With my own grandmothers, in fact. Fortunately, I also have perspective, which doesn’t, also fortunately, include raging against them in their old age, especially with their having mobility issues, as a lot of people of grandmotherly age have.

          So Grandma barges in while I’m moving into a new house, and she’s long been that way. Yeah, annoying as hell, but “bullies and enablers”? “Put her to work?” “Just don’t be there?” “Make things as uncomfortable as possible”?

          Seriously, come on. Makes me wonder about the life experiences of people here, and whether they’ve actually seen much. Because those are reactions that should be geared toward actual abusers (which LW doesn’t mention), not a busybody grandma.

          1. Middle Aged Lady*

            As I said, each to his own. There is no reason to accuse those of us who suffer from this behavior of ‘not having perspective’ or ‘not having seen a lot.’
            Believe me, I have seen plenty, and I have suffered abuse st the hands of my grandmother and my dad. Sometimes the busybody part is the tip of the iceberg. So happy for you that you could handle your grandparents. But please don’t expect everyone to share your experience/attitude/fortitude.

    23. Hiring Mgr*

      unpacking from a move is never easy. Depending on your time and budget, you could always have a professional cleaner come before the visit to help round things into shape

    24. *daha**

      Oh Lord. Clean nothing but the bathroom. Set up a table and chairs in the yard. Give her a whirlwind tour of unpacked house, posing her in front of each unpacked room, then lead her to the table and tell her to sit. Ask her what she likes on her pizza and what beverage she likes, then order from Domino’s and chat with her while you wait for the delivery to arrive.
      If she insists on being inside, have a boxcutter to hand her, and lead her to a box. Tell her where the contents belong.
      Feel free to use the phrase “I’m sure you didn’t mean to be rude” frequently.

    25. My Brain is Exploding*

      So how is she getting there? Because if your family is driving her there, that’s even more bananapants. However…is there something she can bring? Like, make your favorite cookies? Some of her homemade pickles? Can you beg her to make lunch because you haven’t had time for good home cooking? Get her to iron your clothes? Maybe really lean into the fact that you are REALLY going to need her help and are so thankful for it, yada, yada (maybe it will scare her into NOT coming!).

    26. Samwise*

      Don’t clean at all. If grandma is so self centered that she’s going to just show up, well, she gets what she gets.

      In fact, when she shows up, make a big show if being glad she’s there… to help clean up. Hand her a broom.

    27. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Wowsers. I am picturing your grandma a couple of months from now, after you hosted her as graciously as was possible under the circumstances (hopefully at the minimal end of that), claiming both (1) “I’ve never been in EATT’s new place!” and (2) “OMG what a mess EATT’s place was!”

    28. Observer*

      Other than declutter, find my vacuum, and make sure my kitchen isn’t disgusting… what are the main things y’all clean when the guests are going to show up? I cannot fully unpack before she arrives.

      Make sure there is someplace for her to hang a coat if she has one, put down her bag if she has one, and to sit down.

      And, yes, take those pictures and send them out.

    29. Sam Foster*

      Since she’s not going to listen and will barge in regardless, can you give her the wrong address and have her be someone else’s problem?

    30. SB*

      When I specifically ask someone NOT to come over & they do anyway, I do exactly NOTHING to prepare for their visit, regardless of how they are related to me. If they are not willing to respect my wishes I will absolutely not be going out of my way to accommodate them.

  3. Vi*

    We are planning a bedroom makeover for my teen daughter, and we are looking for a super soft velvet upholstered bed for her, preferably in navy or dark blue. She would also like new bookshelves. She is leaning toward a bed that we found at Pottery Barn, and I have ordered fabric samples to see if the velvet is soft enough to meet her sensory processing preferences. But Pottery Barn is a little bit out of our budget and a stretch for us. We have searched all over the internet, and we can’t seem to find exactly what she is looking for in our budget range – no decorative tacks, no tufting, nothing lumpy, etc. Does anyone have recommendations for good quality, super soft velvet upholstered twin beds, sturdy white bookshelves, and very soft, sensory-kid-friendly comforters at an affordable price point? Thank you!

    1. Everything All The Time*

      i’ve had good luck on wayfair so far, and sometimes overstock? if you search “midcentury modern” you can find some cool stuff in a variety of colors.

      1. Vi*

        Ohhhh, I have always wondered about Wayfair. So good to hear. Their prices seem too good to be true. Their selection is amazing. I forgot about Overstock! Thanks for the reminder and the MCM tip!

        1. Filosofickle*

          With both Wayfair and Overstock a lot of it is too good to be true, but there are also really great finds. If it’s big or expensive (meaning returns are prohibitive and I can’t afford to roll the dice) I will only buy if there are at least a few helpful reviews. Returns are typically at your expense, and are almost never worth it — recently I had some $40 curtain panels that were going to cost me $25 to return! I didn’t realize it was going to cost that much.

          1. Vi*

            Yikes! $25?! That’s really good to know. If we opt to buy online from anywhere, I’ll have to remember to read the fine print. I am used to buying from Ikea, and it is a longish drive, but we can return for free at the store. Thanks for the heads up! :)

        2. Generic Name*

          I’ve had great luck with lamps and light fixtures at Wayfair. Furniture, not so much. The prices are absolutely “you get what you pay for”. And you also have to assemble it yourself. Not worth it, IMHO

    2. Avocado Toast*

      It’s actually pretty easy to make a velvet headboard if you’re crafty. If you think you can find velvet fabric at the craft store that she’ll like try searching on YouTube for tutorials on how to make your own.

      1. Victoria Everglot*

        Since she’s got sensory issues, this might be the best option: this way she can choose *exactly* what she needs and you can control the budget much more easily.

        1. Vi*

          Brilliant on both points. Plus it adds a layer of fun and makes it super personalized. :) She is checking out the fabric scraps we have in stock and feeling good about this option at the moment!

          1. Victoria Everglot*

            That’s so exciting! I don’t know how hard this would be, but have you considered making it a removable cover so you can wash it periodically or maybe swap out colors if she feels like it? I’ve only ever had regular beds so I have no idea if they’re usually removable lol

            Best of luck!!

            1. Vi*

              We did! We talked about making a pattern yesterday — essentially sewing a simple slipcover that we can wash and/or replace easily. One of my big concerns was how well the velvet on an entirely upholstered bed would hold up over time – and ultimately having to recover an entire bed (doable, but yikes). I think wood frame with upholstered headboard with easily removed slipcover would be fun and so much easier to maintain. Thank you so much! :O)

      2. fposte*

        Honestly, you don’t even have to be that crafty. I’m not, and I made a headboard. I didn’t even bother with stapling the fabric down, because it’s on a rectangle, and the bed keeps it in place, so it’s just draped. It’s fabric, plywood, and batting. Velvet isn’t cheap, especially if she likes cotton (my fave), but you’re probably just going to need a few yards, so you’ll be way under bed costs.

        1. Vi*

          This is so encouraging! It makes a diy feel doable. We also talked about maybe getting a simple upholstered bed/headboard and covering the inexpensive fabric with whatever she chooses – which would be cool because she could change it up any time. Thank you! :)

          1. Clumsy Ninja*

            If you have a Joanns store near you – there are frequently really good coupons for fabric purchases. Check that out when shopping!

            1. Vi*

              oh my gosh, so funny! i just opened a Joann.com tab so we could look around! :) they do have the best coupons.

      3. Vi*

        I mentioned the support for diy-ing it here, and she is going through our fabric bins now looking for things we know feel great to her. I haven’t tackled anything that complex before but I am a believer in the power of YouTube! :)

    3. DJ Abbott*

      For the bookshelves, try looking on Facebook marketplace, craigslist, or other used/vintage furniture sites.
      I bought a nice dining room set a month ago on Facebook marketplace and there were several posted. There’s lots of good sturdy furniture out there in very good condition, and it could be finished or painted in the color your daughter wants. If you can’t do that yourself, you could probably hire someone to do it.

      1. DJ Abbott*

        P.S. – Freecycle also has furniture posted fairly often. You have to go and pick it up, but it’s free.

        1. furniture tiger*

          If soft is more important than velvet specifically, another fabric might be cheaper. have an EE headboard in a box, I ordered mine off Amazon about 10 years ago. They all show as out of stock so the company might not exist anymore but looking them up might give you ideas. I think the fabric is microfiber. It is kind of like those really soft plush animals where if you rub your hand across them the color gets a little darker and then if you go back the other way it’s the same color again.

          Good luck!

          1. Vi*

            I was wondering about Amazon. There is so much that seems sketchy there now. I love the microfiber idea! She has had success with it before, especially with sheets, which are soooooo hard to find for her. She is going through our fabric bins now looking for things that might work. It absolutely doesn’t have to be velvet, it just happened to be what we were seeing that we thought might be okay. So much is linen, leather, etc. – Big Sensory Nopes. Thank you! :)

      2. Vi*

        Wow, that’s awesome! Dining room sets are so expensive. That’s a huge win. I am in the process of painting our kitchen cabinets and did my Grandmother’s French Provincial dining set, so a bed would feel easy-peasey in comparison. :)

    4. Good luck!*

      Ikea or Target for bookshelves! It may be worth giving eBay or Craigslist a look for used options, too.

      1. Vi*

        Gosh, we love Ikea. I think that is what we will ultimately end up doing. Some Billy bookcases in white. Thanks for the ideas! :)

    5. Anon-e-mouse*

      Another vote for microfiber instead of velvet. Velvet is a mega lint magnet and very hard to keep clean. Microfiber is easier and the texture is very similar.

      1. Vi*

        oh gosh, i’ve heard that. i’ve had velvet curtains before, and i had forgotten until you said that how impossible it is to deal with the dust. i think that might bug her over time. thanks for the second vote for microfiber. the only sheets she loves are microfiber from target. such a great idea we hadn’t even thought of. thanks! :)

        1. furniture tiger*

          you’re very welcome, if you end up doing DIY you could match the sheets with a 2bd set of sheets.

          The microfiber sheets never worked for me, I like the fabric but they keep sliding off the bed or pillows, lol. I feel like they are all I find in stores,maybe it’s that you often find the opposite of what you want. For sheets, I like the jersey ones that are like t-shirt material.

          1. Vi*

            that would be super cute! :) my son loves the jersey sheets. they are so cozy. it’s funny because some microfiber things are too uncomfortable for her, but these ladybug target sheets are spot on. now that i am typing this, i feel like i should go buy more of them before they stop making them. it’s like pants – it is almost impossible to find pants that are soft enough for her. target had one new day legging that worked like a charm and they stopped selling it before we could stockpile them.

          2. DJ Abbott*

            Microfiber sheets are recommended for people with dust allergy. That’s why I use them. It might be they’ve become popular for that reason.

  4. Charitable Donations*

    I’ve read articles about why visiting sponsored children (thru agencies like World Vision, Compassion, etc.) is a bad idea. I’ve read some very good articles about why sponsoring ITSELF is bad. However, these articles have stressed that money/effort should go into developing systems, changing laws, etc. that would help people in the long run but don’t give any advice for helping people with immediate needs (food. shelter, medicine, education) in other countries. What are some good organizations to fund? (This can be for any country. And yes, I know people in the US need these things, but I have Reasons for asking about this with regards to other countries.) Thanks.

    1. Retired Accountant*

      The article linked in the reply to this comment made an impression on me. I donated to one of the organizations after reading it.

    2. ThatGirl*

      An organization I’ve donated to on and off over the years is Heifer International. It was started by Mennonites and the whole idea is to provide livestock, egg laying birds, bees etc that can then give the family a source of income as well as food. Heifer dot org. That’s more long term… for immediate disaster relief, Mennonite Central Committee. Yes, there’s a theme here.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Heifer International was a go-to gift from me to my mother-in-law for years.

        As with WWF’s adopt-an-animal kits (which my enchanted oldest got from this mother-in-law), it can give a more solid feel to the gift.

    3. Waffles*

      GiveDirectly provides cash directly to families, with demonstrable positive results. If you want to help people meet basic needs in places where you can’t buy what’s needed on the market, organizations like MercyCorps and International Rescue Committee provide a wide range of programs that support people experiencing displacement, conflict, etc.

    4. PPukeko*

      I’ve funded micro loans through Kiva. All but one has been repaid and the one that wasn’t was due to civil war. You pick the loan based on criteria like location, gender, etc. Your money gets used again and again that way

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        I also fund loans though Kiva. So far all my loans have been repaid, though one looks like it might default soon.

    5. CityMouse*

      I support Partners in Health. They build Healthcare infrastructure in some of the places with the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world.

    6. beep beep*

      The White Helmets do a lot of good work in Syria. They’ve been doing emergency response and recovery work for years, for war and natural disaster alike. Every Christmas my family likes to send money to a charity of my choice and I often pick them.

    7. Extra anony*

      You might explore smaller Child Sponsorship organizations if you’re interested but wary of the big orgs. For example, Safe Passage is an organization in Guatemala that sponsors children in their school in the city dump. There are many more small organizations like this in other countries, that are running schools and you know your donation helps kids’ education directly.

      Systems work is certainly important but also very susceptible to political changes and a long term process. I would add that outsiders too often try to promote / impose laws and policies that are not locally supported. I also believe there is a place for the average donor to help meet short term needs, especially for children, if the donor is interested.

    8. Namenlos*

      My favorite charity provides individual but very cheap (material cost of 1 USD) glasses to people in several countries who otherwise can’t afford them. They also train local teams to manufacture the glasses and do the eye exams. More information here: eindollarbrille.de (in German) or goodvisionusa.org (in English).

    9. Waiting on the bus*

      Could you link some of those very good articles explaining why sponsoring children is in itself bad? I’d like to read up on that.

    10. Charitable Donations*

      I appreciate all the replies! The reason I asked is that I just found out that there will be someone coming soon to talk with a group I’m a member of about an organization that sponsors children. Honestly, a number of years ago, we sponsored a child with one of those groups, but I know more about some of the adverse consequences and would not do that. I wanted some options for later discussion with people I know regarding alternatives.

    11. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I haven’t looked into it myself, but one of the people I follow on Twitter is often mentioning Aseel App as something that is Afghani-run and working to both provide food aid in Afghanistan and opportunities for non-Afghanis to buy Afghan-made products. I’ve been meaning to do a little more checking up on it myself for a while now but haven’t had the energy.

      1. OtterB*

        I was going to mention Aseel App. I did a little investigation and am probably following the same person on Twitter that Seven hobbits is. I have donated. In principle I like their goal of providing a platform for artists and artisans to sell their work. They also have ways to donate basic food packages that, for example, supply a month supply of flour, rice, lentils, oil, etc. for a family.

  5. Interstate movers*

    Anyone have any good recommendations? I’m moving a bunch of boxes and not very much furniture from LA to Chicago. In the past I have had uniformly terrible experience with interstate movers.

    I think I will need to find a local “transfer” operation as well if anyone knows of a good one in LA.

    Thanks very much!

    1. Diana Trout*

      its probably not practical as it sounds like you don’t have a lot, but the last time I moved I moved via PODs, and it was by far the BEST experience I have ever had.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Au contraire, I do have a lot! Just not a lot of furniture. I’m intrigued by the PODS idea, thank you.

        Did you hire professionals to pack the pods for you, or did you pack them yourself?

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I moved with a pod from PACK-RAT. It’s similar to PODS, just a different company. They drop it in your driveway, you pack it yourself, and then they pick up and transport to the new location. Then you unpack it yourself.

          I hired two guys for two hours to help me unpack it through U-Haul’s Movinghelp website. They contact you beforehand and then show up and help. My guys were great — it took longer than anticipated thanks to the two flights of stairs but they stayed until the job was finished. I was so grateful because I was wiped from driving for two and a half days.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Should add, like you I had mostly boxes and not much furniture. An 8×8 pod was the perfect size for my junk. They give you instructions on how to pack it — if you need ratchets, etc., you must provide them yourself. The only thing that didn’t survive was my one pre-fab bookshelf, but it was a cheapo thing and I’m not surprised.

      2. KatEnigma*

        Pods doesn’t deliver everywhere, but obviously LA and Chicago are fine.

        If you consider alternatives, U Pack ghosted us. Besides a blizzard, and not answering their phones at the local depot, when to he national people made them call us, they had only gotten one of the two trailers in that we’d reserved and didn’t think that should have been a problem. And U-Hauls pod service requires you to rent (or borrow) a truck to take the pods to your home- they only deliver to the local U-Haul center, but that detail is hard (almost impossible- I saw a mention in passing in a review and had a hard time finding it, looking for it specifically) to find in the sales literature. Lots of negative reviews from people who didn’t realize that until they tried to schedule delivery. We used to have an RV in Milwaukee and tried to avoid even the highways through Chicagoland, let alone inside it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      With the caveat that it was 11 years ago, I had very positive experiences moving boxes (in my case, Seattle to Indianapolis) via Amtrak’s freight service. You do have to be on the receiving end to pick them up, or have someone available to do, but it took something like 10 days for my boxes to make it to the depot in Indy.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Doh — I just googled, and apparently the Amtrak Express freight service is currently suspended.

    3. KatEnigma*

      We have nothing but good things to say about Two Men and a Truck, that we had to hire last minute when Upack failed to deliver their trailers for the local Two Men crews to load and unload. (North Dakota to Houston)

      After having nothing but negative things to say about Graebel (San Jose to Milwaukee) or Atlas (Milwaukee to North Dakota) – and my husband’s company assured us they personally vetted the movers. *eye roll* It was a real “hold my beer” moment to get worse than Graebel.

      We move 30+ boxes of books every time.

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

      How about boxing everything up and getting a LTL trucking company to ship your possessions on a pallet.

    5. DJ Abbott*

      If you need movers on the Chicago end, I’ve used Collins Family Movers several times and am very happy with them. They’re supportive and flexible if you need only a partial move or something like that.

    6. I'm A Little Teapot*

      I did Pods from MI to CA, which worked well. And a similar concept but it was a trailer from CA to IL. It took a bit longer because they put commercial shipping on after my stuff to fill up the truck, which reduced my costs. Moving my parents 2 years ago we did the trailer + commercial shipping filler. You can load yourself, or moving companies often hire out moving teams to load. It’s cheaper to hire the mover team rather than the team + truck.

      Downside is you’ll probably need to provide your own moving blankets and supplies. Get everything from amazon, don’t open it until you need it, return whatever isn’t opened after you’re loaded, and sell on craigslist/similar when all is unloaded.

    7. Filosofickle*

      I have moved things a few times cross-country using Mini Moves and had nothing but positive experiences. They coordinate a crew to load/unload on each end and consolidate shipments in between. (My moves weren’t “mini” at all so don’t let throw you.)

    8. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      We used ABF to move from one coast to the other and had a great experience. It’s another “u-pack” situation like PODs, but I think it was cheaper for our move.

    9. Wink the Book*

      For a local Chicago transfer company, hands down, Movetastic. They’re fantastic. I’ve used them and have had multiple friends use them and all positive.

    10. Amanda*

      We did a long-distance move with PODS and overall it was a pretty good experience. We moved during 2020 so it was really nice to have an option where we could pack and unload the pod on our own with minimal contact with others, and we didn’t have to drive a truck a thousand miles either. (Though you totally could hire someone to help with loading or unloading.) It wasn’t cheap – it was about a thousand mile move, I think we paid a total of $4K when all was said and done. But we had total control of the packing and unpacking process and didn’t have to worry that someone else was going to be careless with our things.

      Some caveats: we got the largest size POD which was advertised as being perfect for the contents of a two bedroom apartment. The contents of our two bedroom apartment did not fit in the pod. Everything sentimental and important to us ended up fitting but we probably spent another grand replacing things like cat trees and lamps and laundry baskets and nightstands. If your stuff is already boxed up and in a storage unit or somesuch, you probably have a pretty good idea of exactly how much space it takes up, so you have that advantage.

      The other caveat is that both the pickup and destination places need to be pod-accessible. There needs to be about a two parking spots’ length of space for the pod to be dropped off and there has to be enough overhead clearance over the pod and truck for it to lift and drop it. Our old apartment was fine on both these requirements but the new apartment had power lines hanging too low over the parking space. We had to rent a Uhaul and clear out our pod at the nearby PODS facility, and then drive that home and unload – it was stressful and tiring and a pain in the ass. There’s not really anything we could have done about it though, and I’d still recommend the service overall. The customer service was always courteous, and they didn’t charge us for the failed dropoff.

  6. Izquierda*

    For those who have traveled internationally with a small child, any tips? My partner and I are planning a week-long trip to my partner’s home country this fall, and will be flying with our 1.5 year old. Would love any advice for the flights or the time abroad to make everything go as smoothly as a toddler allows!

    1. JSPA*

      Young kids commonly have atypical (opposite) reactions to commonly prescribed travel / calming meds. Avoid, or at minimum, pre-test.

      Has your kid been out in public, getting their various disease exposures, and used to close contact with large crowds? That age is too young to mask, and a week is just long enough to catch multiple things, while away from their regular medical support. And flying with a totally stuffed up head and ears is a big deal, when your passages are tiny.

      Have you done trips before / time sleeping away from home?

      1. CityMouse*

        I always bring an IPad with multiple movies downloaded. They make special headphones for kids that can’t get too loud. I’d also being the general earmuffs hearing protection. Planes can be super loud.

        Your kid is right on the edge of this, but if they’re still small enough consider using the carrier in the airport. Security used to let me walk through the metal detectors with him still in it (I should note COVID hit when my kid was just 1 so I didn’t travel at the 1.5 age so that advice may be not right for an older kid).

        Have books, crayons, coloring books, a large blanket, their favorite stuffed animal. Lots of water and snacks.

        This is going to sound weird but one of the best ways to get a kid to go to sleep on an airplane, in my experience, is to pretend to go to sleep yourself.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        In this line, pack small amounts of all the kid meds you might use.

        -signed, a person whose toddler broke out in hives at 10 pm on Christmas Eve visiting relatives in a remote rural location

    2. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Screen time for the plane, honestly, especially if they haven’t seen it much before. Window cling type stickers are fun, you can stick them on the window or tray table and then just peel them off and take with you. Melissa and Doug water wow books, they just need like a tablespoon of water in the pen and can be used over and over. Both my kids loved those and they are easy to pack.

      Look up the security regulations and exceptions for liquids for small children; they may want to inspect it more thoroughly but last I checked you are allowed more than what fits in a quart ziplock bag if it’s formula/milk/purée pouches for a baby.

      At least one spare outfit in your carryon for the baby and one for you too. You know toddlers, they just have a higher chance of some kind of mess happening! Take a nightlight with you especially if you’re staying in hotels, they always are really dark.

    3. ShroomShroomYa*

      Bring activities for the plane- at least one new thing for every 30 minutes of flight time. Make sure most is new stuff. I second the screen time recommendation. Also, bring a variety of food/snacks. Lastly, don’t keep the kiddo up late so that they will “sleep more on the plane”. Yes, people actually do this. No it never works out well, you will end up with a screaming kid.

      1. Generic Name*

        OMG. When my son was about 4 we took a short flight to see my family. This was prior to his diagnosis as autistic, so he was easily dysregulated but we didn’t have great tools/techniques to deal with it. He was crabby and tired heading to the airport. My mom kept saying “he’s so toned, he’ll for sure sleep on the plane”. He did eventually fall asleep…..just as the wheels touched down as we were landing. Fortunately it was a short flight.

    4. heyitsteatime*

      If child has their own seat, take car seat on board. Cosco Scenera Next is a basic lightweight one that’s great for travel. If you can afford another seat I would highly recommend you do that even though they’re under 2.

      Stickers stickers stickers! And pop-its

      If they don’t have a lot of experience with screens, let them practice a little bit at home so they start to get the idea.

      At that age I got kids’ earphones (dB limited) but she refused to even try them. Now she will wear them only briefly. So all plane viewing is silent which she is totally fine with :’D — but again, introduce at home to practice.

      My big tip though is to let them be active and climb on you whenever the seatbelt sign is off because if you wait because they are sitting quietly, then it will inevitably come on the moment they want to start moving around!

      Bring preferred snacks. You will be able to bring larger volume water bottles, food pouches etc through TSA, they inspect it separately.

      A good travel stroller is Summer Infant 3Dpac CS. Generally, if you’re buying one look for one-handed fold because it will usually have a handle that facilitates one-handed steering which is helpful in the airport. Depending on your destination plans, a hiking backpack also works well in airports. Then you either gate-check it like the strollers or we’ve usually been able to carry it on, on international flights with big overhead bins.

    5. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve done many transatlantic flights with a small child – including 3 when he was under 3 years old.

      Do not be suckered by the “lap child” option. Pay for three seats – you will be happy you did. Check out the configuration of the airplane seats – the best configuration is two seats and then an aisle and then more seats. You then book a window and aisle seat – window for your child and aisle for one of you and then the seat across the aisle for the other parent. Then, you and your partner take shifts for being on kid duty. (Also, if one of you is male, definitely try to have the male parent involved in whatever you anticipate being the most difficult part of the flight. In general, people tend to be so much kinder and more gracious to a guy who is minding a child, because there’s not a societal expectation that they are “supposed to” be doing it. Sucks, but that’s where we are right now.)

      One thing we always did with our son starting when he was 13 months old was having him “meet” the person sitting in the seat in front of him. And we would say “This is why you can’t kick the seat – there’s a person in it and they can feel it.” (Will this 100% stop your kid kicking the seat? No, but it buys you some goodwill, grace, and patience from the unfortunate kickee.)

      Prepare your kid for the journey, starting months before. Talk about things like going through security, going through passport checks. Practice waiting in line. Start playing games like I-Spy and story games so that you can pass the time in line. Get picture books about what planes are like. Tell them about the people you are going to visit.

      Be prepared-ish for the plane, but don’t worry or bring too much stuff. The plane is going to be novel and you can do a lot by improvising with what you have on hand – air sickness bags, plastic cups, straws, etc. I would say crayons and some paper are always good – and you can get big chunky crayons that are triangular shapes instead of cylindrical so they won’t roll off the tray table. Also, some kind of fun book like Where’s Waldo/Wally that has plenty to look at.

      If your child has a lovey or a special blanket, now is the time to get a few backups, and get your child used to the backups. You do not want to lose a lovey in the middle of a trip – and the best way to not lose a lovey is to have a few acceptable lovies.

      Always go for whatever the simplest/easiest/most straightfoward option is. Don’t worry about giving screen time. Don’t worry about “bribing” (and really, unless you are giving your kid an envelope full of money in exchange for approving a dodgy deal or something, it’s not a bribe – it’s an incentive program!). All you need to do is survive the trip – be kind to yourself and to others and you will get through it.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        It’s been 20 years, and I can still find Goldbug on every page of Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. Apparently my brain believes this is vital information to retain, even as it cheerily discards, say, people’s names.

        1. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

          LOL! My brain does similar. And I hate that book, my son made me talk about everything on every page.

          A cute book about “this is what a plane trip is like” is Amazing Airplanes by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker. We have the whole series about different types of vehicles actually, the quality of the poetry varies but they are all fun for the kids and the plane one is useful to read before a trip.

    6. Bumblebeee*

      Honestly just accept that your trip is going to suck and take it as a pleasant surprise if it sucks only slightly.

      1. Nack*

        Haha blunt but possibly true! I found that mentally preparing myself for the worst helped. EG, for an overnight flight I would mentally prepare as if my kid wasn’t going to sleep at all and I would be up all night. I also don’t plan to watch any grown up movies or read a book (though I do still pack a kindle in case the stars align.)

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        Yes! Reminds me of an article I read ages ago about how after you have kids, there are no more vacations, only trips.

    7. Kate*

      How long are the flights?

      We did seven 13 hour flights with my kiddo when she was less than 18 months. It was definitely not for the faint of heart!

      1) no screen time *until they have slept first*. Otherwise they get all geared up by the lights and colours and have a hard time winding down for sleep.

      2) then screen time. Let’s not be crazy here. You will not be able to carry a new activity for every 30 min if your flight is 13 hours long. If you get lucky, sometimes you can rotate the early ones back in, but otherwise: the map feature on the seat back video was a godsend.

      3) bring more diapers and wipes than you think you will need. Flights get delayed, tummies get upset, and diapers are surprisingly hard to find in airports.

      4) be kind to yourself and your kiddo. Your kid IS going to lose it at least once in 13 hours. It’s a statistical certainty. They are human. Your goal is for them not to lose it for the ENTIRE 13 hours (or whatever your time span is here).

      3)

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      If time change is a thing, daylight is your friend. Spend as much time outside in daylight as possible.

      Also my daughter (who is bopping between Europe and the US pretty frequently) emphasizes the importance of meals as a key indicator to your body of what time it is. So she’ll make herself eat the appropriate meal at the appropriate time in the new location even if she isn’t hungry.

      We did an extended international trip with her at age three, and she did great–find all the playgrounds (including any inside the airport) to let her move around and burn off some energy. If there’s something you currently limit for her (e.g. screentime), having that be allowed for long flights/drives can make them more appealing. Screens in general are your friend for these long sits. Also consider having a few small totally new toys/books that you can break out at the start of the big sit.

      1. MJ*

        Seconding the new toys idea. I once helped out another passenger by entertaining their child with my stuffed animals (I always travelled with two small ones in my mid-twenties).

        After peeking through the gap between seats, my stuffies asked if they could visit for the flight – but explained that they couldn’t stay and would need to go back to me at the end of the flight. The novelty of new friends kept the child occupied for a few hours.

    9. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      STICKERS!! Buy a huge pack of fun, sparkly stickers and a pad of paper to stick them on. Keep them hidden from the toddler until the plane is in the air, and then–surprise! This took care of at least two hours on the plane for us.

      And of course snacks. And screentime.

      And always pack extra diapers, clothes and wipes in case of delays and messes.

    10. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      Highly recommend lollipops for the takeoff and landing to help with their ears!

    11. Loreli*

      You need a passport for the toddler, also I’ve heard that in some cases it’s wise to carry a copy of the child’s birth certificate or something that proves you are the parents. Low chance of problems but in the “be prepared” category.

    12. Samwise*

      Buy a seat for the kid and put the car seat in it. (If there are two of you plus kid, put kid by the window and the two adults swap middle and aisle periodically). Even if your child spends most of the flight on your lap, you have all that space in front of the kids seat and more legroom for you.

    13. Extra anony*

      1. Have the kid walk around the terminal, ride the fun moving ramps, etc to get out energy before getting on the flight. Don’t do screens or toys until on the plane.
      2. Bring lots of ziploc bags and changes of clothes for kid and adults. Blow outs and accidents happen more on planes.
      3. Toys that worked for us at that age, all of which were new that day: Water Wow Reveal pad, sticker books, “first puzzle” books with simple 4-6 piece puzzles, Frozen magic reveal marker books (sub whatever character your kiddo likes). We didn’t bring any crayons or real markers at that age because my daughter would eat them or want to draw on the plane.
      4. I use screen time as a last resort since my kid doesn’t have a tablet normally.
      5. Snacks, snacks and more snacks!
      6. Like PP said, sounds pessimistic but… accept it’ll probably kinda suck. I had a mantra for myself when traveling with two littles, “You can do anything for just one day/5 hours/whatever the time is”. And in the end we made it!

    14. Leaving on a Jet Plane*

      The change in air pressure can hurt children’s ears when landing or taking off, so we always made sure to have a drink ready for those two parts of any flight.

  7. Anastasia*

    Why do some people don’t care about getting into trouble? I don’t understand. I just found out from my neighbor was bragging to her friend about parking in another neighbor’s driveway when they’re not at home. My neighbor’s friend asked if she was worried about getting into trouble and my neighbor replied, “I don’t care.” Seriously!

    1. Ochre*

      Okay, I do think that’s weird and I wouldn’t do it, but in that circumstance I’m not sure what “getting into trouble” would mean. Her car might get towed? I guess she could be cited for trespassing? But in either case the driveway-owners would need to make a complaint. Hopefully if they asked her to stop, she would stop, otherwise she’s a jerk and that’s your answer.

      In neighborhoods where street parking is common and driveway spaces are rare, I’d guess she values the immediate reward (easy parking) over the unlikely consequences (car gets towed if she doesn’t move it before the neighbors get home). That’s how a lot of decisions get made by a lot of people.

      It’s also plausible that the driveway-owners gave her permission to park there when they aren’t home and they text her when they need her to move her car. I have neighbors who are out of town a lot and seem to have this arrangement…that way their house looks occupied.

      But the good news about all of this is it doesn’t sound like you personally need to do anything about it!

    2. DJ Abbott*

      I’ve occasionally seen people do things they know are wrong in an attempt to start a fight.
      Oddly, some of them that don’t seem to be aware they’re doing this, and act all victimized when they get in trouble.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I had a boss like that. I think her definition of “a fight” was her taking out her frustrations on the other person and she was shocked if they argued back. Like she’d call you away from a job you were doing and tell you to do something else, then yell at you for failing to complete the first job. She was setting up a situation where she could pick a fight whatever you did, but if anybody answered her back, they “just attacked her for no reason”.

        And while there was a power differential there, she also did it with a manager technically above her in the hierarchy.

    3. Irish Teacher.*

      There are many reasons. Some people are working on a cost-benefit analysis and figure the “trouble” is worth it. I know somebody who parked illegally on a regular basis, figuring it was cheaper to pay a fine once or twice a month, which was all he was likely to be caught than to pay for parking every day. Not defending this; I think it was obnoxious.

      Other people have come from a background where “trouble” was arbitrary, like if they were abused or had inconsistent parenting and for some, it FELT arbitrary, because say they had a disability that meant they broke social or unwritten rules without knowing. For some of these people, “trouble” is random and they think it will happen whatever they do, so they see no point in trying to avoid it.

      Other people have difficulty envisioning the future. Yeah, at some future point, they MIGHT get “in trouble” but they’ll worry about that when it happens.

      In this case, as Ochre said, the odds of serious trouble are low. It’s quite possible the neighbour wouldn’t even care and if they did, they might not say anything, as a lot of people dislike conflict or they might just ask the person to stop doing it. It’s unlikely there would be serious consequences, especially if she knows the neighbour to be fairly easy-going.

      I think with issues like this, it isn’t fear of consequences that deters people as much as worrying that they might inconvenience the person whose drive it is.

      1. Jay*

        You also need to add in “People for whom consequences were always mild or non-existent or always worse for the person they were causing trouble for”. I call it “Old Highschool Bully Syndrome” or “Rich Kid Syndrome”, sometimes it’s both.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          It won’t surprise you to hear that Mr. I park illegally and just pay the fines, while not a former rich kid, was married into money. And his wife’s family definitely had the “mild consequences” in their past.

      2. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

        Yes to all of this! I was going to try to say some of this but you did it much better than I could have.

    4. Girasol*

      There’s a weird kind of entitlement where people feel they ought to have the freedom to do whatever they please, no matter who is harmed by their actions, and if anyone sets a boundary, to wallow in a delicious sense of victimhood.

    5. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      In a nutshell, they were raised in families with low levels of integrity and no sense of community.

    6. jasmine tea*

      My husband’s psychiatrist says his ADHD is a major part of this. He craves the dopamine that comes from working his way through a puzzle, or talking his way out of a jam.

      That’s not to say that he runs around breaking the law, but he definitely approaches certain types of rules with a mindset of “how can I work around this?” rather than automatic obedience. He values and practices kindness to individual people, but has an “eff The Man” mindset, is excellent at malicious compliance, and would be an absolute nightmare if we lived in a HOA.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I have ADHD, and that tracks 100%. Your comment also connects to Irish Teacher’s saying that trouble feels arbitrary as someone neuroatypical. No matter what I do its “wrong”. So I don’t worry about it. I care about being kind and not causing harm. I also decided that if a social rule is that important it’s on the neurotypical one to explain that to the neuroatypical one. If they don’t bother, they can’t be mad I didn’t intuit something absolutely arbitrary.

        1. Courageous cat*

          I hope I’m interpreting incorrectly. This last sentence makes it sound like you feel it’s everyone else’s job to accommodate and explain things to you; and if they don’t, and you do something wrong – that’s their fault. Am I misreading? Because that’s a pretty low level of responsibility you’d be taking for your own actions, if not.

        2. The Shenanigans*

          I’m just saying to apply what I consider to be basic courtesy: If you have a problem, use your words to explain it. If you can’t explain it or think it’s “obvious” what social protocol they are breaking, consider that maybe to them it’s not obvious. On a practical level, explaining what you want is the only way to guarantee the other person understands and can even start fulfilling the request. Thinking “Oh well I shouldn’t have to…” is a recipe for annoyance on both sides.

          I mean, consider the trope of the woman who is mad at the guy but won’t say why. She just expects him to just know. Everyone finds that woman annoying, right? Well, for NDs pretty much everyone is that woman refusing to say what it is they did wrong, expecting us to just guess or ask if we don’t know, and saying they don’t want to accommodate the knowledge gap. NTs need to explain things if they want us to know.

          The choice isn’t to explain things NDs “should know” vs NDs getting it ourselves. Its NTs explaining it clearly vs NDs desperately analyzing everything, maybe guessing something correctly, more likely just giving up and feeling defeated. No one gets what they want. So it is in NTs’ best interest to explain themselves to us, anyway.

          *all opinions are my own, despite the general language. This is MY experience and the experience of others I know. It’s not meant to be a universal I Speak For All statement. Generalities just make this kind of argument a lot easier to conceptualize and write out.

      2. All Monkeys are French*

        Wow, that is incredibly eye-opening! I work with someone exactly like this and he infuriates me because I interpret much of his behavior as entitlement or trolling. The possibility that he could be non-neurotypical wasn’t really on my radar (though, now that I think about it, some of his other behavior could fit the mold as well). Maybe this will help me tap into more empathy and less rage when dealing with his malicious compliance.

    7. Heather*

      I honestly think it’s weirder that you’re framing this as “getting in trouble”! I obviously don’t condone what she’s doing but it would never occur to me to even refer to “getting in trouble” to another adult. Your neighbor’s friend should have appealed to her better nature perhaps, but trying to intimidate her seems silly. What even is the worst thing that can happen, she gets a ticket? The fear of imaginary authority seems really odd to me.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        Exactly. I think the person is rude and unkind and should be told so, of course. That is a much better argument to persuade adults to change their behavior than, as you say, appealing to an imaginary authority.

      2. Sudden Cat*

        In my area the “imaginary authorities” would have her car towed and had her cited for trespassing, because it’s my property and no one is allowed on it without my permission.

        1. The Shenanigans*

          Heh, here they’d likely tell her to call the HOA, who would say call the city, who would say call the county, who would say call the cops, who would say call the HOA…

          So it matters if there is an actual authority who would do anything. Either way, I still think telling her she’s being rude and asking how she’d feel, etc. is a much better way to approach it than “oh you’ll be in trouble!!”.

    8. The Shenanigans*

      I’m one of those people! I think it just comes down to wiring. I’ve never really cared about rules or laws for their own sake. I care about whether something I am doing is actively harmful to someone else or not. And a lot of laws/rules are actively harmful. A lot of behavior that is harmful isn’t against any rules. So they just aren’t all that relevant to me. If/when I follow a law, rule, or requirement, it is because it actually does, for once, prevent harm and is, therefore, something I would do or not do anyway.

      If I get in trouble, it’s because I made a conscious choice to act in a way that could lead to that trouble. Next time, I just make sure I’m better at hiding whatever it is I am doing so I don’t get caught. So far, so good. For instance, I’ve gotten speeding tickets at various points in my life. I shrugged, paid the fast fee, and got better about spotting where the cops were.

      Some of this is just the way I am wired, but some of it is a privilege. I’m white. For instance, I know I won’t get stopped by cops for existing and then get thrown in jail for over a decade on a BS charge. So that helps the cavalier attitude here.

      I also have a lot of religious trauma from a right-wing Christian cult* mindset (think a slightly less damaging version of the Duggars’ beliefs). So I’m kind of over any external authority telling me anything, ever. Once I actually learned to apply critical thinking and my internal moral compass to my life, I discovered just how bullshit our laws and rules, in general, are.

      There’s also the fact that we have so many laws and so many conflicting laws that it’s basically impossible to move in society without breaking SOME stupid little ordinance. So I don’t care to try.

      I also have no respect at all for cops as a group, which reinforces this view. It seems to me that if the laws were worth following, we’d be hiring well-trained, competent people to enforce them fairly. Right now, frankly, our policing and judicial system is a horrorshow, which makes enforcement of our laws a horrorshow.

      I hope this helps! For my part, I don’t get people who automatically respect rules. I also don’t get people who like mayonnaise. But hey, that’s okay.

      *and I mean right-wing Christian cult as a single phrase. As in brainwashing and subjugation in the name of a god. If you go to church and find it helpful and don’t feel the need to try to destroy my rights because of your beliefs, go for it! I’ve seen religious belief be a force for good in the lives of individuals. I’m not talking about you, so relax. :)

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        I believe this kind of upbringing can also result in amindset that since all sin is equal and gonna damn you, you might as well try them all!
        And I, too, am not talking about true followers of Jesus’s message, but godless, authoritarian types who are running a church as a scam on innocent people, and their enablers.

        1. The Shenanigans*

          Oh, I grew up with that horrible idea, yes. Also, that if I’m harmed by someone and don’t accept their apology for the harm, I’m worse than they are. So there’s a lot of victim blaming in the name of rule-following.

          I hope you are telling those people in your church and community to stop harming people with that BS.

          1. Middle Aged Lady*

            Thankfully I didn’t suffer such an upbringing but my spouse did. We don’t have contact with those people anymore and he’s had years of therapy. Thanks for your concern!

      2. EngineerResearcher*

        I find your comment fascinating because I was raised in a similar environment (although very much out of it now), but I still generally tend to be a rule follower! I find things like parking in such a way that I might get a ticket very stressful and it makes me feel really crummy when I do get that ticket, so I generally avoid them and find that lowers my overall life stress level. There are definitely rules that are worth challenging, and I do when necessary, but with something like a parking ticket, it feels less stressful to me to avoid the whole situation.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      I don’t know. Honestly.
      I am an extremely law abiding and rule abiding person, even when the rules feel stupid, because I don’t want to suffer consequences if I don’t and caught. My biggest rule breaking is occasional speeding (one ticket in my 20+ years of driving, and messing around during work hours.
      I grew up in a very lawless time back in the he Motherland, so that probably had since influence. And until I got my US citizenship, I dated not to step one toe out of the line, even though I was in the country completely legally and had the green card forever.
      It would not occur to me to park on someone’s driveway, for example, or go wrong way in the grocery store parking lot (where they have one way isles).

    10. EngineerResearcher*

      I think a lot of these people are just used to living in somewhat of a different world haha. Like, I have a friend that moved states and didn’t register her car for literal years and ran into no problems about it. But I feel for sure if I did something like that, I’d be getting pulled over the next day. Maybe luck just has been on their side for long enough and they haven’t suffered any big consequences for stuff like this? So they can brush it off more easily?

    11. Samwise*

      Maybe she’s all hat and no cattle — if the owner caught her, she’d likely back down.

      If I came home and a car were in my driveway, I’d call the police non emergency number and have it towed

  8. KatEnigma*

    Oh, y’all are going to love this update to last week’s loose domestic bunny post!

    My sign that the bunnies belonged next door with an arrow ended up being exactly the right decision.

    I got a text at 8am that all 3 adult bunnies were in our yard and was that okay. That gave me the opportunity to say that I didn’t mind the bunnies, but did mind 3 people in the last week ringing our doorbell to tell us about them. And mentioned that was why I had put up the sign- figuring that’s why the sudden realization that maybe the bunnies annoying us. No, she hadn’t seen the sign. But someone did. She was annoyed because someone had rang her bell Monday night “after she had put the baby to bed, to tell her about coyotes and giant cats”

    She told this person that it’s a cruel world but she thought it was more cruel to contain the bunnies to their hutch in the heat!!! But told me she was having our fence guy come to add chicken wire to the bottom of the gates to keep them in her yard. And that she has appointments to have them all neutered while the older girl is at camp in 2 weeks.

    So at least people are annoying the correct person now. But I never imagined she was just letting the bunnies loose on purpose! They were in the middle of the street this morning. I have done all I can.

    1. Not A Manager*

      “It’s a cruel world!” I’m chuckling over that although I know I should not be.

      1. KatEnigma*

        I guarantee it wasn’t the response earnest young do-gooder expected.

        But if you are going to ring a stranger’s doorbell to lecture them, you probably need to toughen up, even if the bunnies don’t. need it. And neighbor is a farm girl whose young husband was recently killed, so bunnies getting eaten probably doesn’t even register on her tragic meter.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I just shared this story with my partner and he told me that he used to have a neighbour with a free range bunny who would get into his garden all the time. He just used to sit quietly until the bunny sat in his lap and he’d take it back over. He was the one who fixed the fence up to prevent more getaways, not the neighbour!

      2. KatEnigma*

        My response all along has been that I can’t make my neighbor be a responsible pet owner.

        The fence between our properties was completed (by our mutual landscapers) the week before her husband died, and they did a solid job- the sturdiest fence I have ever seen- so I trust them to bunny proof the gates. Then if the hawks get them, it’s really not my problem. We have half acre lots, so they will have space.

        1. WellRed*

          I love that your name is actually tackling the problem, from the fencing to the neutering.

        2. Observer*

          My response all along has been that I can’t make my neighbor be a responsible pet owner.

          Yup. 100%

          You did what you could. And the bunnies will be *safER* because of it. No, they won’t be protected from raptors, but they won’t get into the road. So that’s a bit of a win…

  9. Bibliovore*

    Travel help please Tokyo
    I will be going for work but will have some time for myself. I will be in Roppongi when I am on my own.
    I have mobility issues therefore will not be taking the subway but can afford cabs.
    I like museums, bookstores, stationary, cold soba noodles (which for some reason Japanese restaurants in Minnesota do not make) sushi (which Mr. Bibliovore did not like, so we did not have that when we traveled together)
    Last time I went, I worked non-stop, this time I having work/life balance.
    Would love suggestions of things that you loved and I shouldn’t miss.
    I do have two days scheduled for an onsen visit.

    1. WoodswomanWrites*

      No suggestions, just so glad to hear you’re recovered enough from your injury to travel again. And it’s good to hear you’ve have time to explore beyond working.

    2. Atheist Nun*

      Immediately outside the entrance to the Asakusa shrine’s market (on the right hand side, I think–but my memory is 23 years old), there is a wonderful historic shop, Kuroda-ya Honten, that sells gorgeous handmade washi paper. The market itself has lots of stalls selling souvenirs, but it might be a little challenging to navigate on foot.

    3. Bake Cheese Tart*

      If you can figure out a way to get yourself a Bake Cheese Tart (from a shop with the same name) I HIGHLY recommend them. It’s a chain and the shops seem to be often in subway stations (but maybe there’s a delivery service that can get them to you?). We ate A LOT of bake cheese tarts on our trip and loved every bite.

    4. Tea and Sympathy*

      I know Tokyo quite well and will be there most of July. If you would like, I would be happy to play tour guide one of the days you have free. If Alison doesn’t mind giving you my email address, feel free to contact me.

      1. Bibliovore*

        tea and sympathy. I don’t know how we can get in contact without losing on-line anonymity.

    5. AMT*

      If you’re a museum person, shrines might be right up your alley. I loved every one of Tokyo’s shrines I visited, and they range from tiny and quiet to huge and popular. Shrine architecture is universally incredible and many of the buildings are historically important and date back centuries. The best purchase I made in Japan was a goshuincho—basically, a book where you collect shrine/temple seals, many of which are hand-calligraphed in front of you.

    6. La Revacholiere*

      Tokyo resident here!

      If you like stationery Itoya in Ginza is a can’t-miss. Buy ALL the pretty paper! You can even get notebooks custom-made. There are 2 buildings across an alley from each other (11 floors and 3 floors plus basement).

      For cold soba, I really love 手打ち蕎麦 慈玄 (located at 東京都渋谷区恵比寿1-24-9) and EBISU蓮 (at 東京都渋谷区恵比寿1-16-31).

      It’s predicted to be really hot this summer, so don’t forget to stop at a drugstore for a pack of cooling wipes and maybe a cooling shirt spray when you arrive! Also, the UV rays have been stronger than usual the last few weeks according to my weather app, so you will absolutely want sunscreen.

  10. Bibliovore*

    So the bathroom is done and the downstairs is now empty of Mr. Bibliovore’s mancave stuff.
    I am trying to envision this space as mine. It is freshly painted and empty.
    I need to buy a fold out couch. The one I have in the guest room is Carlyle but I think to spendy for me now.
    Anyone have a two seater fold out couch recommendation? Extra points if it is dog proof.

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      I personally have been much happier with a wooden-framed futon rather than a hide-a-bed style fold-out couch. Cheap metal-frame futons sold at big box stores tend to be terrible, but at least in my area there are dedicated futon stores that sell nicer ones with thicker mattresses and wooden frames. I’ve had mine for almost 20 years now and it’s still in good shape – I’ve done a few repairs on the frame in that time, but nothing too involved. (One or two boards cracked so I replaced them.)

      It’s a little less comfortable to sit on than a regular couch (mostly because it’s a little too deep so I need a pillow behind my back) but I find it much more comfortable to sleep on. I actually switched to using it at my main bed when I moved a few years ago – I meant to buy a new mattress for my real bedroom set, and was sleeping on the futon until I had a chance to research what I wanted in a new mattress. Then the pandemic hit and I ended up turning what was going to be my bedroom into my home office and just kept sleeping on the futon in the den…

      It’s sat 4 adults without breaking and slept 2 adults without breaking, so also pretty sturdy. If you get a washable futon cover it’d probably be pretty dog-friendly, or if you’re willing to sacrifice looks for mess protection you can leave a fitted sheet and waterproof mattress pad on it over the cover even in couch mode (it can bunch up a little at the fold, but it’s do-able).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I’m not sure I can physically manage ours now (shoulder issue) but it’s used by visitors in their 20s who can easily follow my instructions.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I used to have a wooden framed convertible futon and concur that it was fine as a bed but uncomfortable as a couch. I ultimately got rid of it for that reason. What I’ve found more comfortable as both a couch and a bed is something made of foam, rather than the heavy fabric of a futon. A foam set-up is also a lot easier to maneuver since it’s light.

        I recently stayed at an Airbnb with a sofabed so comfortable I asked the owner what model it was. It was an Ikea trundle bed. It was great as a couch and because I was alone, I was fine sleeping on it without unfolding it, but she said it was equally comfortable folded out as a king bed. Other guests’ reviewed confirmed that.

        I just looked it up and from the pictures I think it was what Ikea calls a convertible day bed. At least some of the models have drawers in the bottom. You can do a search for “Ikea guest bed and day bed” for multiple options.

        1. Ella Kate (UK)*

          I have one of those, but mine definitely reads more bed than couch, but can confirm it’s easy to switch to double bed (in my case it’s a double not a king) and comfy to sit on when in single bed mode!

    2. Madame Arcati*

      You have IKEA in the USA right? I have one of their sofa beds in my home office by way of a second guest bed (I have a guest room with a normal bed). It is simple and folds up in the style of a futon but is higher off the floor, and has a shaped cover that you pull over it when it is in sofa-mode. I wouldn’t have it as a main sofa as it doesn’t have arms but it is very comfy to sit on for long work calls or coffee breaks and looks cute with a couple of cushions or you could put a nice throw on it. It is also a comfy bed (I chose it having slept well on a friend’s identical one several times) and the two seater is commodious for one guest and fine for a couple for a night or two. Or two young people in sleeping bags.
      It is called Lycksele Lovas and I got it a year or so ago for the equivalent of about $285 (but I think cost of living can vary hugely between our countries). I also successfully assembled it on my own.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My sofa is small — around 73″ wide — and the bottom pulls out and pops up. I got it at a furniture store, but this kind of sofa is available almost everywhere. I’ll post a link so you can see what it’s like.

  11. Missb*

    Warning: death mentioned

    My FIL died unexpectedly this week. My in-laws have been living in their home for more than 50 years. In recent years, one of their kids and a grandchild+spouse moved in, and two babies joined the multi generational family. It seems a bit chaotic at times when we visit.

    MIL has stayed close to the house for years as FIL’s health continued to decline, not doing much in the way of travel. We’ve had her visit our house several times.

    Dh and I are empty nesters. We are having MIL visit soon for a couple of weeks to decompress and get her bearings. I don’t really spend a lot of time with her outside of holidays, but I’m trying to figure out if I should plan on doing some things with her.

    Suggestions? She lives in a small town and we live in a large metro area.

    1. Bebe*

      I’m so sorry about your FIL.

      I would let MIL dictate most of the visit. I imagine everyone is reeling right now, so probably not the best time to make too many concrete plans. Maybe make a reservation or two for dinner at some quiet neighborhood places you like. Then, depending on her interests are, look into what exhibits/concerts/festivals are happening near you, just to have some ideas in your pocket. But really, she may just need to sleep, rest, take some gentle walks, spend time with you & your spouse in a quiet space where she (and you) can actually have some room and time to grieve.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Bebe’s suggestions are excellent. Maybe also take her out for breakfast, brunch, lunch or coffee during the day. Make a couple of shopping trips if she seems interested. (You don’t have to buy anything. Just look. It will get you all out of the house for a short while).

    2. Some guy in Oz*

      I’ve had good luck with the usual tourist brochures from the visitor info centre. My aged parents (haha, like it or lump it that’s what I’m calling you!) visited and I had a suggestion pile of bits of paper for them. It worked out quite well, they/we plotted a day’s fun on google maps, they programmed it into their phones then vanished for the day and did at least some of what they planned. The day I joined them we walked about 10 kilometres from Sydney Museum round the botanic gardens to an art museum via a cafe and they enjoyed that a lot.

      They could have gone bungee jumping and jet boat riding or the animal torture house* or whatever if they were that way inclined (* parliament or the zoo, you decide)

    3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Maybe stock some things to do around the house, too. My mother has a table that she just keeps an in-progress jigsaw puzzle on, and it’s a good time-filler for low-key socializing since you can make small talk about what pieces you’re looking for and such.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Has the in-home family been helping with the practical side? I mean the dull admin and paperwork. As well as the other great suggestions here, I’d add that this was what my mum really needed help with from me and sibling when my dad passed; she was all at sea trying to think what she had to do. Even if you just sit with a notebook and help her make a list, she’ll feel a bit better – it’s comforting to have a plan and claw back a bit of control in a terrible uncontrollable situation. In a kind way of course, “now Jean, do you need any help with paperwork or contacting people? I could help you if you like; there’s a lot to think about two heads are better than one”. You could help her figure out what to do with officialdom, pension etc and perhaps contact them for her (and extended family) – this means less repeating of painful news. If FIL was in failing health do ring up all and any clinics and doctors – yes they get notified I should think but it might take a while and I’m the meantime you don’t want anyone contacting her to confirm his appointment etc; v upsetting.

      An aside for U.K. friends should you have sudden/unexpected bereavement – the Tell Us Once service is an absolute boon; you make one call and all the government stuff is sorted (tax, benefits/state pension, passport, DVLA, council etc); you don’t have to phone loads of people saying a difficult thing at a difficult time.

    5. Bibliovore*

      If her husband died suddenly she may be experiencing traumatic grief. Please do not take offense to “bad” behavior. She may be reactive , experiencing memory loss, have an inability to make decisions as simple as what would you like for breakfast.
      Read the to friends and family part of tge it’s ok not to be okay website.
      Give her space to just be.
      Be a presence if she wants to talk or cry and respect if she wants to be alone.
      Encourage stories.
      Wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a doctor check her out. Broken heart syndrome is real.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      That’s a very kind impulse to give your MIL this kind of break.

      I would research some things you think she might like to do, so that your suggestions are “Would you like to go to an exhibit on children’s book illustrations, then lunch?” rather than “Would you like to do something?”

      After years of caregiving, she may not know what her pace is outside the orbit of an ailing relative. So be flexible as she tries to find her footing. That might just be sleeping a lot and letting someone else plan things and make decisions for two weeks.

    7. My Brain is Exploding*

      I’ll add: go through old family photos (especially really old ones that she might have around the house, like of your grandparents); get a thin sharpie marker and write who they are on the back and note any particular stories. Make an appointment for her to get a massage if she likes that sort of thing.

    8. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Have options, not plans. If MIL wants to do something, be able to say, hey there’s these museums/events/things to do, anything sound interesting? If she’s religious, find an appropriate church nearby and know the service times in case she wants to go. Be prepared to take her to the library for books or movies, or show her how to use your tv stuff.

      If she wants to do things, then you’ll be prepared. If she wants to relax, you haven’t wasted money.

    9. Breaking Dishes*

      Being a MIL (woman) who lost her husband recently, agree with above. Offer ideas and options. She may not know what to do and may not want to do anything-so allow space for that if needed. It’s important just to take care of yourself-so food and sleep are important. Be willing to cry with her and be willing just to be with someone crying.

      1. bibliovore*

        Breaking Dishes,
        I am so sorry and my wish for you is to be surrounded by comfort and love.

  12. Daily reader, rare commenter*

    Love the kitty line-up. The look on Eve’s face is hilarious :)

    1. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      I love how Laurie is almost blending in to the blanket. So cool when Voids do that!

  13. Protecting the floor*

    I need to buy a plastic or vinyl floor mat, maybe 3 by 4 feet, to put under a bedside commode to protect the wood floor. I don’t know what these are called (if it’s more specific than “vinyl mat”) and I don’t know what is available. Can anyone recommend a particular brand or type or say what search term I should use? Thanks!

    1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Maybe look at pet products? I don’t know if you can get pet food mats quite that big, but they’d have the advantage of having a lip around the edges to catch stray liquids.

      You might also look at the washable dog pee pads if you wanted something that would absorb stray liquids and then get tossed in the washing machine on the regular instead. They generally have absorbent fabric on top and waterproof layers under that. Those are also available in larger sizes and might give off more of a “rug” vibe.

      1. jasmine tea*

        Yes, litter mats could work too. I’d start with Chewy because they have great UXD. You don’t have to buy from them, but their site is organized well, so you’ll quickly develop a sense of all the options.

    2. JSPA*

      a trim-to-fit flexible truck bed liner might work, unless that’s too ribbed. the cheap sort, without the raised edges that are pre-cut for wheel wells.

      Though that could leave sticky residue on the floor, after?

      extra-large chair mat?

      1. Hazel*

        I assume it must be flat so not a trip hazard. Try searching ‘vinyl rug’ rather than ‘mat’ on Zulily and Wayfair. I am sure I have seen them there recently. I think they are often meant as a kitchen rug or runner so that may also work as a search term – they are obviously meant to take spills and lie flat. An outdoor rug could also be good. If you want a soft absorbent washable carpet type, try searching bath carpet or double sink mat, as it will get you larger sizes and heavier weight to stay put.

    3. RLC*

      There’s a company called WeatherTech which makes a good variety of protective mats for home and automotive use. We’ve been pleased with the automotive ones and the company website now shows styles specifically for home floor protection.

    4. Not Australian*

      IKEA does a mat called Kolon which is really for protecting wooden floors from chair wheels: it’s strong and almost transparent and exactly the right size for what you need.

      1. I take tea*

        Seconding this. It’s really sturdy and heavy enough that it doesn’t move around (probably not a problem here) or curl up in the corners.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I was going to say, one of those chair mat things sounds like it would be perfect. They’re typically flat and fairly large.

      3. Protecting the floor*

        This looks really nice (and has a very appropriate name :). My concern is whether its surface is too slick to be safe for a older person with wobbly legs/poor balance, even for just one or two steps on its surface. Is there any texture to the surface so that would not be a concern?

        I would have a similar question if I wanted it as a wheeled-chair mat — is it so slick that the chair keeps moving a bit when I don’t want it to? If not, then it would also work under a commode.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Surprisingly, this may be hard to find. I have cats, with litterboxes on wood floors, and some cats have had issues so have spent 15ish years and counting trying to solve this. Nothing is just perfect.

      The best option I’ve found is a “splat mat” intended to go underneath a high chair to catch the food/mess from baby. Lays flat. Flexible, so easy to fold or roll up to take out to clean. Downside is this delaminates when it gets wet, even when it wasn’t the edge, so has a limited life. I got tired of buying new ones after the 3rd one.

      Currently have the smallest size of outdoor tarps. It doesn’t lay flat, which is annoying for me but not really a problem. It may lay flat if I trimmed off the edges, haven’t tried. However, it’s much more durable than the splat mats. I expect it will be more annoying to clean but easier than the chair mats.

      I’ve also used plastic mats intended to go underneath rolling office chairs. These worked quite well, but are unwieldy and the larger sizes are really expensive. Durability was good. Hard to get outside for cleaning, you will get slapped by them at some point. They didn’t absorb odor, and came clean. Can put in the bathtub pretty well to clean. I stopped using them because after 15 years, they wore out and I needed to cover a larger area, so it just didn’t make sense. I may go back to them at some point once my current cats are fully adult and I have a good handle on what litterbox issues they may have.

      The vinyl mats intended for kitchens, etc I have found absorb urine. Which means they smell . Washable dog mats – great for occasional mess, but may not be up to regular mess, and just because you can wash it doesn’t mean you’ll get the smell out. I’ve also looked at WeatherTech, and have their mats for my car. I don’t remember why I didn’t try it with the litterboxes, so worth a look.

      There are also trays that go underneath washing machines to catch leaks. Didn’t work for me, worth a look.

      1. Pine Tree*

        I have my litter boxes on “boot trays” because somehow they seem to be able to aim their pee directly into the division between the tray and the lid. I like them because they have a lip and contain any wetness from leaking out.

    6. Healthcare Worker*

      I found one in the children’s department, it was designed to go under a high chair. Good luck!

    7. Emma*

      Waterhog mats are great, and come in a ton of sizes. We use them in entryways, and also under the pet water bowl. They’re waterproof, and pretty indestructible – you can hose them off if needed. They are pricey, but i’m sure they come in a size that you want.

  14. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! What have you been reading this week? Share, or request, recommendations. As always, all reading is welcome.

    I just finished Saint Death’s Daughter by CSE Cooney. It was… not quite what I expected. I enjoyed it a great deal, and liked the arc that the main characters went through. Lots of fun there. But I will warn anyone reading this that it was LONG – around 640 pages. My patience limit is generally 300-400. It was worth it, but now I’m ready for something quick.

    1. Annie Edison*

      I’m on vacation for a few days so I’m binging on romance novels from the Libby app. I finished “One to Watch” yesterday, about a plus size fashion blogger chosen to be the lead on a fictional reality dating show that’s basically The Bachelor. And now I’m on to “Charm Offensive,” about a gay male producer on a fictional reality dating show, who falls in love with the male lead

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I loved “One to Watch” so much that I bought copies and gave them to friends.

        1. Blue Eagle*

          I just cleared the library waitlist for this book so I’m looking forward to reading it.

        2. Annie Edison*

          Have you read “If the Shoe Fits”? It’s a plus size fashion designer that goes on a bachelor-like dating show as a contestant. If you liked One to Watch, it’s definitely worth checking out too

    2. Tiny clay insects*

      I just started The Murder of Roger Aykroyd by Agatha Christie. I’m excited to read it, as I’ve heard good things and have managed to avoid spoilers.

      1. allathian*

        It’s one of my favorite Poirots, together with Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile.

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

        Love that one too! You may find that after you read it, you’ll want to re-read it.

        1. allathian*

          I certainly did! And have. When you re-read, you get the little hints about the guilty person that she put in the book.

          Also, I think it’s quite amazing that Tiny clay insects has managed to avoid spoilers for a book that’s almost a century (published in 1926) old!

    3. Not Australian*

      I picked up a biography of Elizabeth Woodville – the wife of Edward IV and mother of the Princes in the Tower- by David Baldwin, at a charity shop. It’s a bit dense at first, and a struggle to sort out all the Elizabeths, Richards, Henrys and Edwards from one another, but on the whole I enjoyed it as a portrait of someone who was pivotal to English history but is very often neglected by historians.

    4. Teapot Translator*

      Just finished The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die by Colin Cotterill. These books are fun and the main character is likable.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I love Cotterill’s “Dr. Siri” books! Am currently reading The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot , the last book in the series (sob!) – so stated by the author up front – and savoring the banter.

    5. Atheist Nun*

      I finished Peter Swanson’s new book, The Kind Worth Saving. It was the same level of excellence as its predecessor, The Kind Worth Killing (which is definitely worth reading first). I enjoy all his books and recommend them to anyone who likes murder mysteries/thrillers, especially if you live in New England. Although if you live there, you probably know his work already!

    6. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Ooh I’m looking for a reading recommendation. I’d like to find a good book about Australia’s Emu War, one that is from a reputable source, correct and informative, but also well written. It’s such a funny story in reality, I want to read a book that does it justice.

    7. OtterB*

      The Witch King by Martha Wells came out this week. I have been a Wells fan for years and will happily read anything she writes, but this is fantasy and so a change of pace for those who found her via Murderbot. I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

      1. word nerd*

        I just binged her Fall of Ile-Rien triology this weekend and thoroughly enjoyed! I have a feeling I’ll have to check out her other books too (already a giant Murderbot fan).

    8. CityMouse*

      I read Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. I liked it, though it did feel like Vera’s ability to just fix everyone with imperiousness and food was a bit contrived?

      1. furniture tiger*

        I just finished “You Just Need to Lose Weight and 19 other myths about fat people” by Aubrey Gordon, it was very informative and eye-opening. I just started Colin Jost’s memoir, it’s fun so far.

    9. GoryDetails*

      Some true-crime in progress, including:

      The Poisoner by Gail Bell, beautifully written and dealing with the author’s investigation into family lore about a man who allegedly poisoned two of his young children.

      A Bitter Brew by Christine Ellen Young, about a mass poisoning at a church in a tiny town in northern Maine. The book’s surprisingly chatty, and the crime and its possible motives intriguing.

      And, for a change of pace, the 4th volume in the charming manga series I Think Our Son is Gay, in which the somewhat bemused family members pick up on their son’s orientation despite his reluctance to admit it. Everyone’s clearly very fond of each other, and the mother is determined to be sympathetic but to avoid putting any pressure on him to disclose anything before he’s ready.

    10. Nervous Nellie*

      I finished Mild Vertigo (Kanai) which I had mentioned here recently, and want to give a warm thank you shout out to word nerd who suggested Convenience Store Woman (Sakaya Murata). I just got it at the library and can’t put it down! Keiko’s delight in her convenience store job as an escape from family pressure to find a husband is charming. That the author worked in a quickie mart when the book came out really adds to the story.

      1. word nerd*

        So glad you’re enjoying it! I really loved visiting convenience stores in Japan, so I can understand why the character would enjoy working in one. :)

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I FINALLY started reading again! My brain knots are untying!

      Currently reading The Starless Crown, the first book in James Rollins’ Moonfall fantasy series. Also began White Fragility (from the library). I know there are better books on this subject, and I have a list, but I thought I’d start with this one.

      And now that my boxes are open, there are eleventy billion books to re-read before I decide to keep or donate them. :)

      1. Ampersand*

        Yay! Being able to read again when you haven’t been able to is the best feeling! :)

    12. Bluebell*

      Just read Lily Chu’s The Comeback- very fun romance that takes place in Toronto. Woman falls in love w her roommates cousin visiting from Korea. Still working on Jenny Wright’s biography of Madame Restell. She goes on a lot of historical tangents but it’s very informative. One example is several pages on the prison at Blackwell’s island, and how inmates were treated there. Finished Good Talk by Mira Jacob, a graphic novel I highly recommend.

    13. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      “A Life of One’s Own: Nine Women Writers Begin Again” by Joanna Biggs, which is filling a need in my own life. Next up is Wolf Hall because y’all keep recommending it!

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

        Ooh, enjoy Wolf Hall! Just remember that whenever the narrator says “he” and you’re not sure to whom that’s referring, it’s probably Thomas Cromwell, the central figure. The author gets a bit better about that in the later books, but if I had been copy editing the first one, I would have put in a bunch of corrections of vague pronoun references.

    14. Courageous cat*

      Just finished Severance by Ling Ma. It was good, but not great, IMO.
      Currently reading True Grit by Charles Portis, and next up is Happy Place by Emily Henry. Never read books like hers before but people are absolutely in love with this one, it seems.

      1. word nerd*

        In case you end up not impressed with Happy Place, my favorite Emily Henry is Book Lovers by far. I didn’t love Happy Place.

    15. Rara Avis*

      After seeing the Rex’s many times, I finally got around to getting The Natural History of Dragons from the library. Almost done with The Tropic of Serpents and enjoying it very much.

    16. Dancing Otter*

      Nathan Lowell has a new book out! So I’m rereading the whole Solar Clipper / Ishmael Wang series. Because “School Days” is clearly a continuation — I may have just glanced at the first few pages — without a recapitulation of everything from earlier. Available for Kindle or dead tree, audiobook not due until September or so.

      Now if only he’d finish The Wizard’s Cat, the sequel to The Wizard’s Butler.

      1. SpellingBee*

        Thank you for mentioning this! Just went to Amazon and nabbed it with my Kindle Unlimited subscription (which I’ve been thinking of cancelling but now am glad I didn’t). I decided to follow your lead and re-read the Trader series from the beginning, so I downloaded all of those as well, exchanging the “thought I might like them but ended up disappointed” books that I had in my KU library. Mr. Bee is away for a couple of days so this will be a lovely way to spend my alone time.

        Now I’m eagerly awaiting The Wizard’s Cat, which I didn’t know was in the pipeline.

    17. Happily Retired*

      I read the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty mentioned here last week or the week before, and I loved it. I have the first book of her new series on hold (showing as “in transit”, woo-hoo!) Deep hugs for all those who keep the NC Cardinal public library loan system going!! You people are wonderful.

      Currently reading Lady Trent’s Natural History of Dragons, also recommended here.

    18. Broken scones*

      Currently reading Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. I literally just started it today and am loving it so far.

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

      Jill LePore’s *The Secret History of Wonder Woman* — sort of a biography of William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman, but also a biography of a lot of other people who were influences in one way or another on Marston or on Wonder Woman and also a history of a bunch of interesting tangentially or substantially related things during the early 20th century, including the women’s suffrage movement, the birth control movement, the early history of the lie detector test (invented by Marston), and more.

      I am not crazy about LePore’s writing style, but she is definitely a kick-ass historian, so I am learning a lot and enjoying the book a fair bit anyway.

  15. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! What has everyone been playing? As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I just finished Triangle Strategy this week. It was fun and I’m glad I played. I’ll probably try it again in the future, but for now I’m ready to be done for a bit. I went back to Fire Emblem Engage which I haven’t finished yet. Maybe now I’ll have the sticktoitiveness to finish?

    1. SparklingBlue*

      Are you interested in Zelda at all after finishing Fire Emblem?

      As for me, I’ve been having great fun with the Pokemon TCG app–been trying my hand at tweaking the ready-made decks and building my own. My favorite deck I’ve built so far is a dual grass/water deck named Sprigatito and Friends (a current gen nod to the OG TCG game on the Game Boy)

      1. Jackalope*

        I like some of the earlier Zelda games, but Breath of the Wild wasn’t so much my thing. I tried it for a bit, but it was too open world and open-ended, and it spent a lot of time on things I didn’t enjoy with not enough (at least in the time I played) on the stuff I liked about the earlier Zelda games. Are you playing Tears of the Kingdom? If so, what do you think of it?

        1. SparklingBlue*

          I’ve been watching a playthrough, and while Tears of the Kingdom does address some of my concerns with Breath of the Wild, it’s not quite to must have yet.

    2. beep beep*

      I’ve accepted I’m in for the long haul on TOTK. There are SO MANY physics puzzles, not all of which I feel “smart” enough to solve- I find myself looking up solutions a lot, which is fine for me, but might frustrate someone else. I’m currently stuck in my second temple and I’d prefer to go do something else, but I don’t want to lose my progress, so I’m taking a break before I likely will look up the solution.

      If anyone else here does Neopets-style browser pet games- a new one recently opened called Lorwolf that I’ve been spending time in. The activities loop is very engaging for me, though since it’s so new the economy is a little broken/skewed. Still, it’s promising in my opinion.

      1. LimeRoos*

        I also look up solutions for TOTK. I did for BOTW too. Some puzzles were fun even if challenging and some were not so fun, so I didn’t mind. Plus, there’s so much that felt intuitive that may not be intuitive for everyone, the sheer variety of puzzles is crazy awesome. I definitely looked up the Fire temple, looked up the Wind temple after getting confused on directions lol. I haven’t even done the water or desert yet. I like Polygon for my solutions, or IGN. Though not all of TOTK is out there yet, so other smaller sites and reddit have been helpful too.

        I used to play Neopets, so may check out Lorwolf sometime! That sounds nice and chill.

      2. Jackalope*

        That’s part of my problem with TOTK, and why I don’t think I’ll play. I’m not super into puzzles in video games; they tend not to be the kind of puzzles I enjoy, and they just make it a frustrating instead of a fun experience.

        1. Courageous cat*

          I absolutely hate puzzle video games because I just don’t think creatively enough, but largely TOTK avoids that. There are a few times I have to look them up, but it’s honestly not too bad, because I would definitely quit if it were.

    3. Jay*

      Diablo 4! It’s FINALLY out!!
      It’s like reliving the good old days of D2 all over again.
      (Except I’m not in my mid 20’s and in perfect health, and I can’t go on 5 hours of sleep a night anymore, sitting too long makes my back ache, and I get terrible headaches from watching the computer screen too long, even with my special computer glasses. But other than that, it’s just like the Good Old Days!!!).

      1. Ella Kate (UK)*

        Ooh what are you playing? I have a Bow Rogue and a Lightning Sorc right now. Just finished Act II!

        1. Jay*

          I’m just sort of playing each class for a little bit, starting to really get to know the game. I’m really liking my multi-elemental Sorc. and just trying to get a new Barb. running.

      2. Stay Awhile*

        I love the Diablo series but am incredibly hesitant to get IV after hearing it’s online only and you can’t have your own private play session. I played WoW long enough that I am incredibly hesitant to play another one of their online games again due to the immense amount of trollish player behavior. Have you encountered any issues with other players so far?

        1. Jay*

          This really is a “Shared World” game, rather than an MMO.
          I’m not sure how you would even manage to Troll a player.
          I haven’t even opened the chat window on purpose yet. I’ve managed once or twice by accident, but I don’t like it taking up valuable screen real-estate, so I closed it again immediately. It hasn’t effected anything one way or another.
          The only thing you would want to team up for really is the World Boss. Other than that, you are fine all on your own.

          1. Stay Awhile*

            Thank you! That makes me feel better about possibly getting the game. So glad you and others in this thread enjoying it.

    4. LimeRoos*

      Tears of the Kingdom is my jam right now. I haven’t put it down since 05/12. There’s just so much to do in it, I’m pretty far shrine wise and have the master sword (omg sadface), but have only done 2 of the 4 regions for Purah because I get distracted by all the little village quests and sagas. It’s pretty great because there’s a ton of different puzzles and new enemies and areas. I also like to travel by horse/foot/flying and it’s easier than in BOTW w/ the sky islands (and applicable armor). I do think it’s better than BOTW – which I love and have played 3 times, never beating it but korok hunting and questing. You can really do whatever you want in it. Take the tips from the NPC’s around different areas on how to explore them (the depths were terrifying til I got the hang of it). I’m probably not beating TOTK, or at least, it’s not on my radar until I do everything else first lol.

    5. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I finally have time to get through my backlog and now I’m stuck in deciding. I have been trying to play ToTk but my brain and hands don’t match so it’s quite frustrating

    6. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Boutta ragequit Dragon Quest Builders. Up yours, Hades Condor.

    7. The Dude Abides*

      Was able to hit up a couple FLGS this week and spend some rugby money on singles for a Nine-Fingers Keene deck.

      Still need 1-2 things that neither store had, so will probably place another order with CoolStuff and add some pauper foils to the order

    8. Waiting on the bus*

      I recently played The Return of Obra Dinn on the Switch and it was fantastic. Does anyone have recommendations for similar puzzle games for the Switch?

    9. Porch Screens*

      I’ve not made much progress on my FE: 3H Black Eagles run *but* I’m at a convention this weekend and getting my board gamer on! So far I’ve played Massive Darkness, Clank!: Catacombs, Gloomhaven: Jaws of the Lion, and Frosthaven. Out of those, Clank! is the only one I already had some experience with but I’ve had a great time with everything so far. Next up is Arkham Horror: The Card Game later tonight, then The Deadlies, Verdant, Guild of Merchant Explorers and one lonely Pathfinder Society game for tomorrow. Can’t wait! :D

  16. Might Be Spam*

    What do you do to keep your feet from swelling during long road trips? Normally, I just get out and walk around every couple of hours, but it doesn’t seem to help that much. Any other ideas? I’m otherwise healthy and this only happens when I spend a day in the car.
    I’m also in a bit of a time crunch, because my mom died while I was 1,500 miles away and I have to drive back for her funeral. Fortunately, I was visiting my son and he is sharing the driving back with me.

      1. MaryLoo*

        Third-ing compression socks. They come in different levels of compression. And online there are all sorts of colors and patterns.

    1. Bluebell*

      seconding the compression socks idea. Two other thoughts- maybe reduce your salt consumption the day before, and would it be weird to sit in the back seat and put your feet up when your son is driving? I’m sorry for your loss, and hope your drive goes ok.

    2. JSPA*

      It’s not safe and maybe not legal to put your feet up on the dash when you’re a passenger (enforcement varies by state) but deep vein thrombosis is also risky. Before it was frowned upon, I did plenty of trips with seat pushed back & feet on the dash. Ditto safety / legality of lying across the back seat (with seatbelt on, of course).

      A short break lying on ground with feet in the air, then shallow squats or shallow lunges, then feet in air again, every 45 minutes starting early in the process, interspersed with the longer walk breaks, is helpful. That gets gravity to work with you, and engages different muscles.

      When bereaved, we sometimes put up with more physical pain and damage than we otherwise would. Be mindful of that, and make a plan to avert that mindset.

      1. CityMouse*

        I have to add, it is incredibly unsafe to put your feet on the dash. The airbag goes off and you can end up with catastrophic damage to your legs and face.

        1. JSPA*

          yep. If your thrombosis risk is high enough to excuse feet-on-dash, disactivate the passenger side airbag (and accept the resulting increased crash risk, and drive accordingly). You can lose a leg (or your life) either way. If your car doesn’t have a deactivate option, better to not even consider it.

      2. another academic librarian*

        Could the people recommending compression socks recommend a brand. I am going to need some.

        1. JSPA*

          you have to try to find what works for your specific calves / feet / ankles, or they’re worse than nothing.Try one pair of 3 very different styles and more than one level of compression. use that experience and comments to find what will work for you.

        2. Dancing Otter*

          There are lots of brands, and what fits me might not fit you.
          • Look for ones that tell you the calf size — too small will roll down and be miserable, and too loose doesn’t do much good.
          • Open toe version won’t pinch your toes. Also, removes need to match foot size.
          • The wider the top band, the more likely to stay up without cutting in.
          • Buy two pair with light and medium compression, since it doesn’t sound as though you have time to try them out for a couple of days ahead of time.

      3. Llama Llama*

        Beyond it being unsafe and illegal, you will have to risk hearing my husband ranting about it….

    3. RagingADHD*

      When I’m on a plane or car ride, in between breaks to get up and move (or when they aren’t possible) I will do several sessions of pumping or pedaling my feet for a few minutes at a time. Pulling one foot at a time up for a good plantar massage and stretch seems to help, too.

    4. Ally*

      Sorry about your mom.

      I find just lying on my back and putting my feet against the wall helps speed up the process a little.

    5. Tiny clay insects*

      Thirding the recommendation for compression socks. I do longhaul flights a few times a year and I find they make a huge difference. And while I’ve heard you’re supposed to be sized and carefully choose a pair, I grabbed a random pair off a rack at the airport and have no complaints.

    6. CityMouse*

      Stay hydrated too. We often get dehydrated in the car and it can cause swelling.

    7. allathian*

      I always wear compression socks on drives that are longer than about 3 hours, and they really help. It also helps to take a break every two hours or so, and to drink enough liquids to stay hydrated, even if it means more restroom visits.

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

    8. Not A Manager*

      In addition to compression socks and lots of water, try to do little leg motions while you’re sitting. You can find some online, but I usually gently stomp my feet a little bit, and then do some flexion in different directions. One thing you’re trying to do is get the calf muscle contracting and relaxing.

      Even if you can’t put your feet up on the dash, if your car and your body will cooperate, see if you can sit with one leg bent under you or bent over the other knee. Anything to elevate the legs a little bit. If you don’t feel comfortable putting both legs on the dash, then again if your car and your body will cooperate, you can bend one leg and gently push the sole of your foot against the front of the dash a few times. Again, try to flex your ankles and calves in various directions.

    9. Jay*

      Compression socks are the key, and loose, cool, comfortable shoes with them. Loafers/boat shoes are the sweet spot for me. I have a nice, comfortable pair I keep just for driving (I travel a LOT for work and have for years, so they still get used very regularly). Keep the inside of the car fairly dry, with low humidity and as cool as is comfortable. Keeping the AC going on your lower legs/feet helps. Failing that, a product called Damprid can lower the humidity. Stopping every so often to stretch out and move a little bit helps. Taking the time to lay down and put your feet up helps more, but that can be problematic on the road. Although, I’ve seen a few people who bring a yoga mat that they will put on the ground and prop their legs up against their car at a right angle. Needless to say, I’ve only seen this happen at nice, safe, rest stops. Probably more people do this inside their vehicles, though.

    10. Qwerty*

      Alternate between pointing your toes and flex your feet. You need to really do a full point / flex – the goal is to help pump the blood back through your system. It was recommended by my grandma’s doctor because her feet would swell from sitting all day so I don’t know how many reps or how frequent – maybe try with 10 reps every 30min and adjust from there?

      If you are flexible enough to reach your feet, a mini massage on your foot/ankle will also help with the blood flow

    11. ronda*

      elevation and icing are the recomendations for swelling after my knee surgery.

      back seat with pillows seems like best option.

      also compression. socks are probably easiest but I had the ace bandage from after surgery too.

    12. LNLN*

      I recently bought Wellow compression socks for a trip. They are just the right amount of compression for long airplane trips and also for a long day in a museum. My legs felt so much better at the end of the day!

    13. Anono-me*

      Ace bandage wraps might be the way to go this trip sine time is an issue and the right size and strength of compression socks can be a bit tricky to find.

      My sympathies.

    14. Emma*

      When you finish driving for the night, sleep with your feet elevated on a pillow. This has helped me a lot.

      And stay hydrated/wiggle your feet as much as you can on the journey.

    15. Quinalla*

      I’d actually get compression stockings, not socks. That is what I wore when I was recovering from a broken hip. The hospital gave them to me, so I don’t know what brand, but something similar to the link in the reply, open toe and up over the knee. I have a pair of compression socks that I wear on long plane trips and sometimes car trips – but usually for car trips we just stop every 2-3 hours.

      Stockings are nice as you can wear normal socks over them and they aren’t as hot, but still will be warmer than not wearing them of course.

      1. Quinalla*

        https://www.amazon.com/LIN-PERFORMANCE-Compression-Stockings-Toe%EF%BC%88Black/dp/B0B9GPYJQY/ref=sr_1_4_sspa?hvadid=177776256227&hvdev=c&hvlocphy=9014986&hvnetw=g&hvqmt=e&hvrand=4151355431028027676&hvtargid=kwd-1196284305&hydadcr=21886_9712129&keywords=medical+compression+stockings&qid=1685890728&sr=8-4-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzN1NZWU5RMU81RkdUJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNjY0NTE1MkxCWk04RllFTlM4NyZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMzU4NDE3M08wTzA2RlEwVkxRRCZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

  17. Some guy in Oz*

    I’m just back from landcare where we did our monthly riverbank rubbish pickup. Pickings were very thin because we finally got a container deposit scheme going (couple of years ago) and there are now rubbish-collecting booms across the river in a few places. Which is amazing and such a satisfying thing to see after 10+ years of campaigning.

    Just… going along not having much rubbish to pick up is a bit of a let down. Cup of tea and some gossip isn’t really the same. It feels weird to say that, but it’s how I feel.

    1. Sloanicota*

      In our area, the “desirable” spots for trash pick up change over time, but there are definitely still tons of locations after one area improves. For us it’s generally because of illegal dumping (which can also be hard on volunteers since it’s more likely to be big heavy trash like mattresses, appliances etc – sometimes tires, which can be good for volunteers – but there’s also times someone seems to have dumped full garbage bags, which split and now there are plastic bottles, clothes, whatever strewn all through the riverbank. It’s actually really sad how much trash there still is by me (Anacostia watershed).

    2. SB*

      Nice work. We planted hundreds of seedlings along the riverbank with Landcare recently & the next project is some seating in the same area in the hope that it will become a space for people to use & enjoy (it is part of a small park near a new housing development) rather than a neglected area used for dumping household waste.

      As for the cans & bottles, we did notice a decline in cans & bottles dumped for the first 6 to 8 months of the return & earn but it increased again to almost the same point. My step-dad goes on a weekly walk with an empty chaff bag & fills it every week in a not so long walk from their front gate along the road towards town. He is paying for his project car (1973 Valiant Ute) with the proceeds.

  18. Adeline*

    My face has areas where the skin is red. It’s weird because it’s not the same areas on both sides, just some random red areas of skin. It’s not rosacea or a rash, I’ve had this for years. Doesn’t itch or hurt. Can anyone recommend a moisturizer that helps red skin? I want to get rid of it, not just cover it with makeup.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      I’d probably start with your cleanser for redness – anything foamy or scrubby or with the slightest ingredient that doesn’t agree with you, will cause this. I just stopped using a really innocent looking cream cleanser because it caused this exact type of redness and went back to my chamomile cleansing balm from the body shop, paired with a warm flannel (using too-hot water on your face, or exposing it to a lot of steam in the shower can also cause redness). For your moisturiser you want to go super boring and unscented! One without claiming to do any fancy jobs other than being moisturising… so something you’ve used before without reactions. Personally I like plain 100 per cent aloe vera gel when redness really strikes.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          Oh, not with me it usually does the trick so brilliantly I save it for when I’m having an end of winter skin issue, so it’s never been followed by redness. Could be for some people though!

    2. OtterB*

      I use a moisturizer from Rosacea Care. I do have rosacea, which I know you said you don’t, but I would expect it to be soothing anyway.

    3. KatEnigma*

      How do you know it’s not rosacea?

      I would suggest a dermatologist for a real diagnosis.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Seconding seeing a dermatologist, if you haven’t already. Skin issues can be mysterious and if you don’t yet have a diagnosis, a specialist can help.

      2. Emma*

        seconding a dermatologist! they’re the experts and can tell you what it is, and if/how it can be treated.

    4. Reba*

      The ingredient cica aka Centella asiatica aka madecassoside has worked well for me for unexplained redness. LRP Cicaplast is great if your skin is dry. If you have fair skin you might be able to use the Dr. jart tiger grass products, which have a little concealer coverage in addition to the skincare.

      Agree with taking a look at your product ingredients for fragrance, essential oils, limonene and so on, you never know!

    5. ThatGirl*

      My skin is generally prone to redness, so I hear ya. Washing with cool to lukewarm water helps. Gentle cleanser and daily spf moisturizer. I like the unscented Olay with spf. But really, try cool water.

    6. Generic Name*

      I have a friend who is sensitive to dairy, and the symptom it caused was redness on her face. Have you noticed any correlation with the redness and what you eat?

    7. laser99*

      Wear sunscreen daily. Trader Joe’s has a great one that is a dupe for Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen.

  19. jasmine tea*

    Has anyone used heat control film for windows? Is it actually effective?

    Our very expensive skylight shades and French door shades dry rotted in less than three years, so we’re looking for alternatives. It’s barely June, and already the house is too hot to sleep. Our year-old Trane HVAC system can’t keep up with the sun blasting in.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Yes! And Yes! It works very well. I’ve used the cheap stuff you buy at Lowe’s and I’ve gotten the professional ceramic film installed. Obvi, the latter is better but the former did me well in Phoenix (west facing!!!) windows.

      1. KatEnigma*

        The thing my husband learned this last time, in Houston, was that he had to put the cheaper film up at night on the SW windows in his office – when the glass is too hot, the film won’t adhere.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Yes. In Silicon Valley in S facing rentals (twice), Milwaukee for SW floor to ceiling windows in our family room (helped keep heat in, during winter) and now in Houston. They make a huge difference.

    3. KathyG*

      My daughter uses the stuff labelled as “privacy film”. It’s same brand as the heat-reduction stuff, has equal or better SUV-blocking specs, and costs less. She also doesn’t bother with the special spray-on solution hood putting it on, and just uses a spray bottle of soapy water.

  20. jeanse*

    Pants (primarily jeans): Does anyone have recommendations for brands that are consistent year-to-year with their women’s jeans styles and sizing? I’m tired of spending ages figuring out what size and style works best for me, and then it gets discontinued and the next year there are all new styles I’ve never heard of. I’m ready to find a brand and stick with it forever.

    If it affects the answer, I’m 5’4″ and 120lb, kinda pear shaped (i.e. big butt and thighs, lol.) I like a mid rise pant that’s somewhat stretchy and not super heavy. I used to wear exclusively Gap jeans but I got so tired of trying to tell the difference between curvy boyfriend, relaxed slim, slim curvy, slim straight…..

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I feel that pain so much. My favourite Levi’s got discontinued, and I was ready to only ever wear those for the rest of my life. The “replacement” style they recommend does nothing for me. And buying jeans had been a special kind of hell for me all my life, until I found those.

      Is Zara available in your area? It’s the only brand I can still rely on. They lean heavily towards high-waisted jeans these days, but I’ve bought mid-rise jeans from them for years and luckily still find them.

      The first time I went back post-pandemic, I had a shock because I couldn’t find my favourite style (skinny mid-rise). They did have them, it was just a very badly organised store. I bought two pairs since. I feel a bit weird suggesting what’s considered a fast fashion brand, but these jeans last me years, just as the Levi’s.

    2. Roland*

      Madewell. Go for one of the basic styles and if you buy the same size and same wash next year, it will fit the same. The different washes are different fabrics so while the size is the same, it just might look and feel a little different. Ask a salesperson for their most basic styles that have been around forever and will continue to stick around.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Oh I was just coming to post the same thing! We even seem to have a similar height and body type. I really need a pair of crop pants to wear with a blousy, longish length summer shirt and I.cannot.find.anything. I would have thought crop pants would be easy to buy, because you don’t have to worry about length, but there’s this annoying fashion currently of making them out of stretchy fabric. This seems like it should work better, but pants that are my usual size squeeze my thighs like sausages and ruck around the knees, whereas the next size up is swimming around the waist and drooping at the crotch like a cheap pair of tights. I just dug out an old pair of cropped midrise curvy Dockers that I bought years (decades) ago in the States, and the fit is perfect! Mystifying, because I was at least a size smaller when I bought them, but they are actually cut and tailored for curves, so they’re still great. The blue is a bit faded but they’re still miles better than anything I can buy on the British high street right now. Wonder if Dockers still make them.

    4. Helvetica*

      I’ve had good luck with Uniqlo. They are true to size, nice, and affordable.

    5. KR*

      I’ve had good luck with American Eagle. I’m a similar body type to you and I always feel like I fit in a consistent 5 or 5 with AE (short size preferred)

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        This. My daughter has always had a small waist and curvy hips. 15 years of dance and now serious weight lifting has given her lovely strong thighs as well. American Eagle has always fit her. She’s 23 now so we’ve been buying them for ten years. Sometimes I take her shopping for jeans and we go to three or four stores before I finally convince her to head to AE and buy the jeans that fit. They’re reasonably priced (especially if you buy two pair) and wear well. The last time I took her I bought a pair for myself and they are now my favorite jeans – wish I’d bought more! I also have a bunch of tops. I’m definitely older than their target demo and I don’t care.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          I love the fit of apple bottom jeans (and the look of the more plain ones!)

        1. KR*

          Yes!! I never have to have their pants hemmed and they never drag or need to be rolled as long as I actually get a short size

    6. fposte*

      I think that that’s the reality of contemporary industrial production. Raw materials from one country become unavailable or too expensive, production shifts to a different place, inflation hits part of the process and decisions about price points get made. If you like something, buy several more that very season.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’m at the stage now where when I have a pant (or shoe) that I like, I will go to Poshmark to find more of that exact same one and buy a bunch of them. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how often this works, likely because I like OP am in pretty standard sizes.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Just got a Poshmark size 14 of the jeans that were my favorite when I was a size 12. They are actually enough different that I think they will be my 2nd favorite pair of jeans, but that’s still pretty good.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      If it’s possible financially/storage-wise, when you find one that works buy several pairs and put them on a shelf in the closet (or wherever you’ll actually remember you have them after a couple of years).

    8. Reba*

      What is your budget? There are some small brands making jeans in the US in their own shops (so not changing production on a dime to capture better prices–the clothing supply chain is incredibly complex). But you pay for it!

        1. Reba*

          I am in deep true love with my Imogene & Willie jeans. The fit is just beautiful. They do have sales 1 or 2 times a year. I have also been impressed with Raleigh denim workshop (good customer service/fit help) and Railcar (fit not as amazing but I kept them). Those are just the ones I’ve tried!
          There are a few brands that come in at a lower price point as well, like Dearborn Denim. Especially if you are looking for men’s and/or workwear styles there seem to be more options.

    9. Mimmy*

      No advice, just commiseration on understanding the difference between all those types of jeans! (and other types of pants too)

    10. JeansShopper*

      I recently bought a replacement pair of jeans from LL Bean since the pair I had from several years before were getting thin and faded. They were selling a pair with the same name, same wash, same cut, same length. I tried them on and was like, yes, these are the same pants but new. It was a nice experience.

      1. Office hobbit*

        I was coming here to suggest LL Bean too! I like their True Shape jeans, specifically classic straight leg but they have a few styles.

    11. Surrogate Tongue Pop*

      I’ve had really (finally) good luck with Sonoma brand from Kohl’s. I’m 5’2″ and have bought replacement pairs (and smaller sizes when I lost some weight) with the expected fit always being the same (i.e fits in butt, hips, thighs, calves the way I expect even if I change sizes)

      1. MommaCat*

        I’m glad you mentioned Kohl’s, because I had the same experience. My mom gave me one of her old pairs of Sonoma jeans like 15 years ago, which I used for yard work because they were too big for me, but then my body shape changed due to third kid and pandemic, and suddenly they were the only jeans that fit. I went ahead and ordered another pair online (because pandemic), and they absolutely fit the same.

  21. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We have foster cats again! Two very tiny 2-year-old cats (I think they might be younger than 2 though; they are really small) who love each other and also seem to love other cats. One is very friendly and likes to meet new people; one is shyer but warms up quickly. The braver one is adorably protective of her sister.

    If you are looking to adopt two incredibly sweet cats in the DC/MD/northern VA area, I may have your cats.

        1. No Tribble At All*

          I love how the one is in front of the other protecting her sister in two of the pictures :’) my house is at cat capacity (ca-cat-city?) otherwise I would be VERY TEMPTED

              1. Ella Kate (UK)*

                To be fair it was one of those rare lightining-strike like moments of “oh wait I have the PERFECT way to put that”!

        2. GoryDetails*

          They’re so cute! (I once had a calico-and-white who looked a bit like that one; she was full of attitude and lived a long and bossy life.)

          1. No Tribble At All*

            You mean the “cat printer ran out of ink” look? My friend calls her cat like that her little scoop of mashed potatoes, cos she’s mostly white with just a bit of gravy (calico) on her head, ears, and tail

    1. Jessica*

      Yes, not that we don’t trust you, Alison, but I’m afraid we’re going to need extensive documentation to prove the existence of these alleged cats.

    2. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      CAT TAX?
      … I mean, you pay that tax so much that it feels ungrateful of me to ask. Maybe this is the kitty equivalent of quarterly filing?

    3. KatEnigma*

      Last Sunday, my 5 yr old went along with my husband to PetSmart to get dog food. He was petting the adoptable kittens when a little girl next to him got her newly adopted kitten. He had never realized before that you could take home those kittens in cages at stores and farmer’s markets.

      LOL So we have a 9ish week old kitten. The rescue said 10 weeks, but my guess was 8. $5 adoption fee, $170 in kitten toys and supplies. ROFLMAO Our 8 yr old cat may forgive us eventually, but isn’t aggressive to the kitten- just avoids her. The dogs range from indifferent to the 90 lb GSD hiding behind me and skittering away from her. She is a people lover and is learning to not hiss or swat at the other animals.

      1. tomorrow's here*

        $5 adoption fee? Good gravy, here kittens are $400, and adult cats half that.

        1. KatEnigma*

          The last kitten adoption, we got her from MADAC in Milwaukee, and the fee was $35 which included her license. Both now and then already spayed.

          20 years ago we paid $200-$300 for the 3-7 month olds from San Francisco SPCA. It all depends on local area and how overloaded they are.

        2. Generic Name*

          Yeah, I did a double take at that amount too. I live in the Denver metro area, which (awesomely) imports stray pets from other areas to adopt, so there is high demand, thus high prices (I assume). One of my cats came from a high kill shelter in Oklahoma, and we drove to Kansas to adopt our puppy. I assume pet adoption fees in rural areas with high stray populations is probably lower.

  22. ShroomShroomYa*

    How do people feel about Le Creuset? I love to cook, but this would be my first big investment in high end tools.

    1. Snell*

      To give you an idea of where it stands with me, I’ve been considering getting one of their big dutch ovens in a pretty color ($400+) as gift for the upcoming wedding of a cousin who I really like. The hype exists for good reason, but of course, the cost is such that you feel bad about spending that much on yourself. So in a way, my gift to my cousin would be the pot and she gets to use it without feeling like she spent too much, because it was a gift. As far as performance goes, I’m not even sure their cookware is capable of letting you down.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Everyone I know who has any kind of Le Creuset cookware raves about it. But even the best price I came across on Amazon for a Dutch oven (£200+) felt like too much for me personally. And, on the other hand, everyone I know who got a less expensive brand swears that performance is still great, all that’s missing is the big name.

      So, I got a less expensive brand (Denby, £80 or so on sale on Amazon). So far it hasn’t let me down, and I’ve been loving every Dutch oven recipe I tried. Truly my best purchase last year.

      I wonder whether the difference will be felt over the years (e.g. how long before it’ll show signs of wear). For now, I use it roughly every couple of weeks and find it pretty easy to clean, so I’m pleased with that aspect too.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I dunno, I think that after a certain price point the quality does fall off. We went through three Dutch ovens in as many years from the local grocery, then decided to just up and invest since we were spending more than a good one cost.

        (Naturally I can’t remember the brand for the life of me but it was basically maybe one step lower than Cruset)

        We love our new Dutch oven and there hasn’t been a chip or scratch on it since we bought it!

    3. Roland*

      If you love to cook, I think you’ll love it. But, you can get the same performance out of a Lodge if you haven’t used enameled cast iron before, so you don’t have to splurge if you don’t want to. I do hear that Le Creuset lasts much longer, though I’ve had mine for less than a year so idk. My Le Creuset dutch oven is slightly lighter than my Lodge, and has more bottom surface area, so I really do like it more, but you can certainly decide it’s not important enough for the huge cost difference.

      1. KatEnigma*

        We have had a Lodge dutch oven for 10 years now. I don’t regret not paying the premium.

      2. Bluebell*

        I’ve had my Lodge Dutch oven for 5-6 years now and it’s still in great shape. I love the blue color so I keep it on the stove. My moms longtime partner’s kitchen had a lot of Le Creuset pieces that his wife had bought. When he passed on, my mom decided not to take them when she moved, not sure if she sold them.

      3. Heather*

        Seconding Lodge enameled! I’ve had both le Creuset and lodge and there really is no difference except the prize tag.

    4. Not Australian*

      I actually find them too heavy to handle and have disposed of mine: they’re lovely to look at, but a real struggle to work with if you have weak wrists.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Same. I couldn’t lift the dutch oven when it was empty. The idea of adding a 10lb pot roast and half again of simmering liquid to it was a dealbreaker. Never bought them, never will. If I used one I could break a wrist (again) or hurt my back removing it from the oven. They are for young and/or strong people!

      2. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Likewise. I had a smaller one — 5 qt IIRC — and even that was too heavy for me when it had food in it. I could just about lift it for washing and putting away when it was empty.

    5. CityMouse*

      I have their slightly smaller one and I use it maybe 2-3 times a week. I also have a Lodge Dutch oven and that appears to be holding up well too.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      I’d start with their baking trays, which I love, and which aren’t that big of an investment. I noticed a huge difference, even with something like a frozen pizza, and that was the gateway drug for me! I couldn’t do without the griddle pan either. It makes such a difference to things like sauteed leeks and mushrooms. which are instantly upgraded. The plates, cups etc are pretty indestructible. I know this because I am very clumsy. My favourite thing is my big mixing bowl, but mostly because it’s pretty. Oh and it’s the best salt and pepper mill I’ve ever had.

    7. Helvetica*

      I have one of the smaller pots in volcanic orange, which I got at a huge discount during sales a couple of years ago. I find it especially good for stews and soups, and I am a huge fan of the aesthetic itself too. With that said – the handles get hot, so that is a downside for me, it is heavy and I probably didn’t *need* it. But I love it.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I have certainly heard if you love these things and aren’t in a hurry, there are discounts available. Shoot though now I can’t remember all the hacks for buying them on sale. This is frequently my recourse though when I want something but know it’s probably kind of silly at the price.

    8. mreasy*

      I have bought my LC pieces on sale or at the outlet but they are still very expensive. That said, they will last forever and I use them all the time. Nothing works as well for braising, soups, stews, or any long cooking!

      1. mreasy*

        When I say “last forever” – my mom has a set that was a wedding gift 50 years ago, and they are still going strong.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I am lucky to have a Le Creuset outlet a couple of hours away, in an area I visit with a friend every year. That’s where I bought almost all of my pieces. My favorite is the braiser – better than a skillet and so versatile!

      3. CityMouse*

        I’ve bought the sauteuse size on clearance a couple times. For whatever reason that particular size goes on sale a lot. I make soups, sauces, and curries in it just fine.

    9. Not A Manager*

      I love my Le Creuset. You used to be able to buy them at very good sale prices occasionally, but I’ve seen fewer of those in the past few years. Their big pros are the amazing range of gorgeous colors, and their performance. Also, they have a true lifetime guarantee. I’ve sent back items that merely became discolored over time, and they’ve sent me new pieces. I know people who actually purchase them at garage sales and then exchange them under warranty. (I am not one of those people.)

      The cons are, they are super expensive and super heavy. I would never have a full line of Le Creuset enamel cookware (I think they offer other items as well but I’ve only ever used the enamel cast iron). It’s too heavy to pull out of my cabinet and it would be difficult to store. I have several sizes and shapes of the dutch oven and I use them for anything requiring long cooking and even heat: soups, stews, braises, etc. I also use one of the small ones as a bread oven. My mother had a fry pan that was amazing in that the food cooked evenly and never scorched, but I didn’t use it much because it was too heavy compared to her 4 ply metal pans. I haven’t gotten any of the Le Creuset frying pans for that reason.

      1. Imtheone*

        I looked for a guarantee and couldn’t find one. If it’s true, that would be great. I have two Dutch ovens, different sizes from different in-laws, and they both are discolored and tend to burn.

        Do you think the life-time guarantee would apply?

        1. Not A Manager*

          I’ll post the link in a follow-up. Their warranty technically only covers the original purchaser, and only covers manufacturer defects. You have to get a warranty authorization to send the item back to them, at your expense. They tell you in the authorization that if they inspect the item and approve the claim, they’ll replace it with as similar an item as possible. If they disallow your claim, they will not send the item back for hygiene reasons, but they will give you a discount on a new purchase.

          I sent two items back that in my opinion did not have a manufacturer defect. They’d been heavily used by me, the original purchaser, and had discolored on the interior and had a few minor chips. I was upfront in my authorization request that I was not sure if the damage was covered under warranty, and that I’d been using the dutch ovens to bake bread in. I also couldn’t remember exactly when or where I’d bought them and gave them my best guess, which I said was a guess.

          They sent me two identical, new items.

          From talking to other people, I think that the authorization requirement and the shipping requirement are barriers to entry, and once you pass those barriers, they will pretty much replace anything. As I said, I do know people who have returned items they bought in garage sales. Whether you are comfortable skirting the “original purchaser” requirement is up to you. If your in-laws are still alive, they could file the claim and then it would be within the rules.

          But you do run a small risk that you could send the item back and they will not replace it. In that case you’d have to be okay with the discount on a new purchase.

    10. Unemployed in Greenland.*

      honestly, I have a non-Creuset enameled Dutch oven, and I’m disconcerted by how the scorch marks from when I used it to bake sourdough bread have left a shadow/marks – they have refused to come off, even with different types of cleaning.

      1. MaggieMalone*

        To remove burnt stuff from enameled pots, put in a half cup of baking soda and about 4-5 inches of water. Put on low heat. Then let it simmer for at least a half hour. The baking soda reacts with the carbon (burnt stuff) and dissolves it. Check now and then so the water doesn’t boil away. Could take longer but be patient.
        A friend who was a chemist told me about this-it really works. And you don’t have to scrub which can scratch the enamel.

    11. Melissa*

      I like mine— I can scrub them with steel wool and they don’t get scratched— but they are HEAVY. If I make a pot of spaghetti in my large one, I have to have my husband dump it into the strainer because it’s too heavy for me to handle.

    12. Vanessa*

      For the range of products….. I have the silicon spatulas. I cannot express the love I have for these. I bought three more. They are indestructible. I guess you could start the wood on fire but they have been great. Even the seal between wood to paddle is sturdier.
      And if you get a lot of stuff out of jars, they have a jar scrapper. I make between 5-1000 pb&j a week. The scrapper gets all the pb out of the jar. All of it. Without getting it on my hands.

    13. tomorrow's here*

      Consider how you cook very carefully. I have a Le Creuset dutch oven, and rarely use it. I don’t make stews a lot. Due to the cast-iron nature of it, it takes a long time to heat up. On the occasions I want to fry things in the pot and transfer to the oven, I can’t use the Le Creuset because the handle on the top is plastic.(yes, you can buy a new handle, but ..). So I rarely use mine – once a month or less. If you haven’t already, buy good quality knives.

      1. Not A Manager*

        If that’s the knob I’m thinking of, it’s safe up to temperatures of 400° F. The metal one (which cost about $35 on their website IIRC) is safe up to “any temperature.”

    14. Emma2*

      I am using inherited Le Creuset pots (they were not optimally cared for so there is some staining inside, but they work just fine). A good friend of mine inherited her mother’s Le Creuset and they are similarly still going strong as they serve a new generation in the family.
      I don’t think they make them any more, but I would advise against the Le Creuset with the wooden handles – I have a pot with a wooden handle that is coming loose. I think I can get Le Creuset to replace it with another handle, but clearly if used for a sufficient number of decades the wooden handles will start to break down.
      (I will say we both inherited our cookware from people who died relatively young – at 50ish – so the cookware had a shorter previous life than if we had inherited from someone who lived longer themselves, however, I see no reason these pots would not still be going strong 20 years from now).

    15. Can't Sit Still*

      First of all, I have inflammatory arthritis in my hands and wrists. It’s mostly under control, but I do have to be careful to not overuse my joints. That being said, I have a 5 qt Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven, but it is significantly heavier than my much larger 7.5 qt Le Creuset chef’s oven. So the Lodge stays in the cabinet and the Le Creuset lives on the stove.

      I also have a Signature 9″ skillet that feels as though it weighs exactly the same as my non-stick 9″ skillet, but I think it’s just balanced better. Since it’s non-stick if you keep the heat low enough and you can easily brown things using it, unlike the non-stick, it’s a no-brainer for me to use the Le Creuset instead. And unlike non-stick skillets, which last about 3-5 years, the Le Creuset should last the rest of my life.

      Finally, for my birthday last month, I splurged on a Tarte Tatin pan in shallot. It’s so pretty! And it’s much easier to handle than my glass pans with the larger handles. I haven’t made a tatin yet, but I have used it for other dishes and it’s so easy to use & clean.

      Lastly, if you intend to bake bread in a Dutch oven, buy a Staub instead, since they have a black interior finish. The white interiors stain with constant bread baking. I would definitely try out Le Creuset (and other enameled cast iron) in the store first, both to see if you can handle the weight and to get a better idea of the actual colors, if matching or coordinating with your kitchen is important to you.

    16. ShroomShroomYa*

      thank you everyone for so much great advice. I’m going to find an outlet and look at their griddle pans to start. They have both enameled steel and enameled cast iron, so I need to figure that out as well

    17. Llama Llama*

      My aunt bought me a pot for my wedding 15 years ago. I love it and use it often. That being said, I am a cheapo and unsure if I would ever but one on my own.

    18. MissCoco*

      We got a Marquette castings Dutch oven for our wedding — recommended by friends who have actually tried LC as well. It was the right price point for us (I didn’t feel like I was paying for a brand name, which is kind of how I feel with LC) and the quality is great, though way less colors are available, which is a downside.

    19. Lissajous*

      I have 2 Staubs and they’re excellent – but they aren’t enamelled, so anything acidic isn’t great (eg tomato based sauces). So at some point I will get a le creuset enamelled pot because I know they’re fantastic – my mum’s have been going strong for years.

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

      My parents’ old Le Creuset, some of which they gave to me, lasted a good fifty years. I think they got it in the 1960s, and it gave up the ghost (just because the wooden handles eventually fell off; the cooking part was still fine) in the late 2010s.

      My only concern about modern Le Creuset is that much of it has metal handles (so it can go in the oven, I guess?), so you either have to buy a cover for the handle or have to remember to use an oven mitt every single time you touch it.

      But overall, great products!

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

        Ooh, just saw the comment by Emma2 above — I wish I had known that Le Creuset might replace the handles when the handles got too loose to use!

    21. Bibliovore*

      So I am super weak but do use my Le Creuset Dutch Oven (round blue from 1985)
      Sometime in the 2000’s the top nob got loose.
      I asked for a replacement lid.
      They replaced the whole thing.

  23. minnesota molecule*

    Is anyone else watching this season of Selling Sunset? I like to imagine how Alison would respond to some of the incidents. (The commenters are easy: Bees! Bees on the side of my face!!)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I binged it in the background for a couple of days. Occasionally I would look at the screen and shake my head at the absolutely hideous outfits (I love “runway” looks, but not when you’re meeting a friend for a cup of tea or, you know, at work).

    2. BlueWolf*

      I was just thinking about it the other day! It is so ridiculous, but it is a guilty pleasure watch.

    3. fried bread for breakfast*

      Poor Mary. I hope she writes to AAM to ask how to handle her boss who promoted her to management without increasing her compensation and about tips for managing unprofessional co-workers who yell and swear at each other at work events. lol.

    4. KeinName*

      Yes I watched all of it, but it’s making me a bit depressed due to all the fighting. I wonder if the key to a calm workplace/social group is just to not inform anyone about what others have said about them? That seems to be the main thing here causing problems.
      Also, yes, is it required for real estate agents in LA to have runway outfits? Which cover their whole body including shoes and fingers?

  24. sewsandreads*

    Renaming the crafting thread the making thread, because all of it counts! So, what are you making, in whatever form your making takes?

    I’m trying my hand at knitting. A friend at the Place That Shall Not Be Named gave me pointers after I explained what I wanted to do. As a perfectionist, I am not enjoying how awful I am at knitting, even though it’s been a decade since I’ve done it! I SHOULD be awful! So it’s also a nice lesson in patience and persevering.

    1. Seahorse*

      A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that I was attempting to crochet the D&D characters from my regular game. They came out very cute, I learned some new stitches & techniques, and I’m quite pleased with the project overall.

      Now I feel inspired to take on something a little more technically challenging than what I’ve done before. Maybe a griffin – I have a pattern with fairly complex wings that has been a little intimidating, but I think I’m up for it.

    2. St. Mary’s Institute of Historical Research*

      Next weekend, June 10, is Knit in Public Day! My local library is hosting an event. I mostly crochet now, but I will break out my needles and am looking forward to the chance to sit out in the sunshine with my yarn and chat with fellow fiber artists.
      Check your local library or rec center!

      1. Silence*

        We have our regular craft meet up in the library this Saturday so I will have to remember to mention that.
        Finished knitting a shawl and working on a beanie for my mother who is visiting at the end of the month.

    3. A Girl Named Fred*

      I finally got materials in for two potential projects, just haven’t decided which to start with – I got some t-shirts that I want to try and add my place-that-is-not-mentioned-on-weekends logo to using my Cricut so I can have a rotating “uniform” instead of thinking about clothing daily. And I also got materials in to make a new makeup travel bag that zips open to lie flat so all the pouches face up with easy access.

      There’s also a watercolor paper pad in that box though, so maybe I’ll start the watercolor class I bought last weekend…

    4. HamlindigoBlue*

      I just finished a pair of knit shortie socks and will be starting a toddler dress with some cotton yarn I think would be perfect.

    5. Tortally HareBrained*

      I finished my crochet pattern test last weekend and was able to take some great photos of it this week.

      Now onto the body of my Cande Pullover (crochet sweater) that I’m making from 100% cotton on short sleeves to wear for summer.

      Also started the Oaxaca Tunic today in some hand-dyed yarn and will attempt to finish it in the next three weeks so I can wear it to a fiber fest and show the dyer how it worked up (bought the yarn at a different show in February).

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      Prom corsages…the kiddo and his girlfriend both have a quirky artistic vibe, so the standard roses and baby’s breath are out. I’m using air plants and flowers from the garden. The practice ones came out better than I expected.

    7. Dancing Otter*

      I got my latest quilt basted, ready for the actual quilting. Pity we can’t post pictures, but if you have access to the book “Just One Charm Pack”, it’s the pattern called circus stars. (I’m sure someone has posted one on Pinterest.) Polka dots and stripes, oh my!

      I also bought cotton blend yarn and started knitting a summer cardigan to go over a sundress or tank top. It’s the Mr. Greenjeans pattern from Knitty, in a cream color. Mostly stockinette in a V-neck raglan, but with little cables in the ribbing. I’m making it slightly cropped with 3/4 length sleeves. I’m about 2/3 through the yoke so far.

      I want the cardigan sooner, but my hands cramp up when I knit too long. So I have to switch between projects.

    8. Clumsy Ninja*

      I’m crocheting sets of dishcloths and scrubbies in cotton yarn. Mindless patterns, perfect for doing while watching TV and such.

  25. sewsandreads*

    Trivia team name suggestions? Heading out to a fundraiser trivia session tonight and my usual name is very niche for the venue we typically go to.

    1. Not Australian*

      Ours was called ‘Drains Bust’ … but that’s kind of a British in-joke.

    2. Professor Plum*

      Hanukkah Balls
      Cheap Ass Rolls
      Duck Club
      Chocolate Teapots
      Gold, Spray-Painted Barbies
      Red Flags
      Llama Groomers

      1. Waiting on the bus*

        If it’s not possible to make a pun referencing whatever the fundraiser is for, I might actually go with Duck Club. Quirky enough to work for a trivia team name, but also AMA readers in the room will get a giggle out of it and wonder if that’s an intentional reference.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      “Quizzed in my pants” made me laugh when I heard it.

      But agree with Dark Macadamia that you need a pun related to the theme. What can you tell us?

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Well now I know it’s for a school, omg! Awkward.

          In Australia, trivia is usually hosted by a licensed venue, and if the host is good it can get pretty loose. One drag queen trivia night the team with the naughtiest pun name won an extra point. But our humour is also a bit different too.

          1. sewsandreads*

            As a fellow Aussie trivia goer, I’d like to point out that this is also part of what was stumping me with names: what is safe enough for a school while also being pun-worthy?

            Definitely wasn’t up to the name standards of our usual locale (Quizzed in the Face are our rival team), but we had a Trivia Newton John there last night.

      1. sewsandreads*

        It’s a fundraiser for a school! Or — it’s a school, fundraising for building works and resources for a remote school the first school has partnered with.

    4. No Tribble At All*

      The best trivia team name I heard was Geralt of Trivia — this was at a board game store, of course.

    5. Elizabeth*

      We used “Enron 2.0” for several seasons… (Based on the book, “The Smartest Guys in the Room”)

      Most recent (virtual) team was the Doom Scrollers, for a game during the height of the pandemic.

  26. Bumblebeee*

    I normally don’t buy a lot of ‘stuff’ and when I do, try to go for second hand or cheaper end items. But I have splurged on a Dyson hair dryer and I love it. Is there an item or experience you have spent much more than you would typically? Was it worth it?

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      Oh, I’ve actually been contemplating a Dyson hair dryer for a while! My current old school hair dryer is about 15 years old and just generally too heavy and big and cumbersome to style with. The Dyson looks much easier handle, but sheesh, the price! What do you like about yours, does it live up to the hype?

      1. M&M Mom*

        I received one as a Christmas gift a few years ago. My daughter was at TJ Maxx and saw them putting it on the shelf and grabbed it. So it was definitely cheaper but even at the cheaper price I would not paid that myself . That being said, I do love it. It is quiet, light, and fast.

    2. Defective Jedi*

      The Dyson hair dryer is also my “this is crazy but now I love it” purchase!

      Reasons I love it: dries my hair so much more quickly, quiet for a hair dryer, long hair can’t get caught in the fan blades, filter is actually easy to clean, magnetic attachments are easy to switch but secure, and my hair is smooth even without using a round/paddle brush.

      1. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

        Question on the Dyson: does it dry faster due to airflow or heat? I’m in the phase of life where I am always hot. Drying my hair in the summer leaves me a sweating mess (which then makes my hair frizz from the sweat) So, how hot does the Dyson dryer run?

        1. Defective Jedi*

          It’s not heat, that’s for sure. I was exactly like you and needed a shower again after drying my hair with a non-Dyson dryer. Now I get a little warmer, but I don’t have to plan personal cooldown time into my morning routine.

    3. I take tea*

      We bought a really fancy bright red Kitchen Aid water kettle, when we could have paid half and gotten the same functions of different temperatures (something I really wanted, as I am a fancy tea person). But the cheaper one was so ugly. We decided that something we use every day, and which is on the counter every day, might as well be pretty. It still makes me happy.

    4. Helvetica*

      This is a coincidence but I got the Dyson stick vacuum instead of a cheaper brand and it is great!

    5. Bluebell*

      I got a more expensive humidifier with a sleek design last winter, and still enjoy looking at it.

    6. Generic Name*

      I spent $40k on a bathroom remodel, and even though it was an extraordinary amount of money, I don’t regret a single bit of it. I love my bathroom so much. And I know when I got to sell, the bathroom will be what sells the house.

    7. RussianInTexas*

      $480 Shark canister vacuum. It’s so nice. So much nicer than my old upright Eureka (I much prefer canister vacuum cleaners). And it’s so much quieter.
      Last month I bit the bullet and had a speciality curly cut for the first time in my 40+ years. The consultation + cut + root color + tip cost $250, lasted 3 hours, and was worth every penny.

    8. londonedit*

      I was lucky enough to get a Dyson hairdryer for Christmas and I also love it! I feel like I don’t have the right hair to really get the most out of all of the tools, but it does such a good job drying my hair. I have straight hair but with my old hairdryer I’d have to run the straighteners over it to make it nice and smooth, but I don’t have to do that if I use the Dyson.

    9. The OG Sleepless*

      Speaking of Dyson, I bought a Dyson Animal vacuum in 2004 for something like $750. It was during a few year’s phase of having the budget for that kind of thing. My goodness, this thing has been indestructible, and we’ve used it several times for things like drywall dust that we really should have used a shop vac for. Worth every penny.

    10. SB*

      Thermomix. Never in a million years did I think I would spend that much on what I considered to be nothing more than a blender. Then a friend went overseas for a year & left all her valuable stuff in my garage to store so she could rent her place out & she asked me to use her Thermie while she was away so it didn’t go weird from no use. I was hooked after about a month & honestly cannot imagine not having it now.

      We cook almost everything from scratch now which means not only am I saving money, but I am feeling a lot fitter & healthier than I was before the Thermie.

    11. Rosemary*

      Dyson hair dryer, Dyson vacuum and Miele combi steam oven. Love love love them all despite the expense.

  27. Trixie*

    I’m looking at move to bigger city (90 minutes away), and looking at various questions when seeing properties in-person. Thank you to Fueled by Coffee for adding a couple questions last week to keep in mind. Excellent point that this can be initial home for now, and always look at moving again if needed. (Easier in same city.)

    I returned to look again at the properties from exterior only. If the blinds were intact or broken, balconies used for sitting or storage/stuff, and what the state of the dumpster/refuse/recycling area. The property is non-smoking which is important for me. I’d also plan to ask if dogs are immediately near by. I love animals but if untrained they can be a challenge for neighbors.

    For a new rental, I’m also thinking about what I can do now as preventative measures for cleaning. Things like a liner in the oven, maybe in the fridge drawers, etc. Those areas that are a hassle to clean but maybe easier to maintain? Ditto for the bathroom.

    1. Golden French Fry*

      I would ask about their policies for what happens when lease violations occur. That’s great that the building is nonsmoking on paper, but what happens if someone does smoke in their unit and it carries to yours? Similarly for having an unruly pet or loud music. Are you allowed to switch units without cost to you in that scenario?

      As for cleaning, I’ve always found it worth just buying new drip pans for the stove when you leave instead of trying to keep them immaculate.

      1. Golden French Fry*

        Your question made me think of a lot of red flags from our previous apartment that one might be able to spot by looking at the exterior:

        1) If it’s a gated property, is there a lot of ‘following’ or do individual cars each swipe in? And if they have a security stand there, how often is it staffed?
        2) For pools/gyms, is there a pass or wristband system, and how well does it seem to be enforced?
        3) Is there a lot of dog waste on the grounds?
        4) What’s the vibe feel like at night? Are there cars idling with loud music playing near the units?
        5) What’s going on in the middle of the day? Is it pretty quiet, like people are at work/school, or are people just kind of sitting around in their car (leering at women, in the case of my old complex)

    2. Lasuna*

      If you use an oven liner, especially in a gas oven, make sure you don’t cover any slots/holes in the bottom of the oven. It can block airflow resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning and can also cause heat buildup that may cause a fire. I had a lease that prohibited oven liners due to the risks associated with improper use.

    3. Trixie*

      Also, rental may have partial carpeting except for kitchen/dining/bathroom. Maybe large rugs to help minimize wear/tear to carpeting?

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

      If your new city has a lot of dust blowing in through the windows, see if you can cover your window sills with something that you can remove and replace or clean easily. I’m currently piloting doing that with paper towels and masking tape, but you could probably do it with something prettier.

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

        Also, there are some window filter inserts you can use to keep the window open but filter out dust/allergens. I haven’t tried these yet, but they look really useful for reducing the amount of dust that gets into your place in the first place.

  28. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Is it difficult to replace the lock/handle mechanism on a sliding glass patio door?

    Mine is misbehaving – I lock it before I go to bed as part of closing down the house and turn on the security alarm, and then my husband stays in his office/mancave until he goes to bed, but somehow in the morning the lock is unlocked again. The security camera in that area and the alarm system records confirm that we’re both correct, I’m locking it and he’s not unlocking it to go out. All I can assume is that, since “up” is locked and “down” is unlocked, it must have somehow loosened just enough over time that gravity does the trick overnight? And we’re installing a security bar today, but I’d still prefer to have a lock/latch that works properly on all outside doors.

    (Husband keeps trying to blame the pets, but mine are contained overnight in the bedroom with me and his aren’t setting off the security system either, and they’re not smart enough to be getting around it. But if the same type of thing starts happening with the security bar, we’ll call in the Ghostbusters.)

    1. Expiring Cat Memes*

      It can be difficult, it really depends on the lock and the door frame.

      Ours was from the’70’s and had a very basic hook mechanism that you could unlock simply by leaning on the glass pane slightly as you pulled it open. If yours is old too, I wouldn’t be surprised if the temperature fluctuation during the night simply contracted the frame enough to let the latch slip down.

      Hubs replaced ours with a modern handle, but it was really involved. It seemed simple in theory, but the new handle didn’t quite fit the old door right. There was also an extra plate that had to be recessed within the (hardwood) door frame. He ended up having to buy a special router and building a guide box so he could create enough space to mount the locking plate without damaging the adjacent frame for the screen door.

      He managed to do a good job of it in the end, but between how long it took and how frustrating it was for him I’d personally recommend getting a locksmith or handyman to do it instead!

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oh geez, bless him — that sounds like a huge pain! It’s not that old, we had all the windows and the slider replaced about five years ago. I wish I had had the slider replaced with French doors at the time, but hindsight. I will probably call the company that installed it and see what they suggest – thank you!

        1. Expiring Cat Memes*

          Contacting the installers sounds like a good idea. 5 years is really not old enough for the handle to be malfunctioning.
          And even if it’s technically out of warranty, sometimes in cases like that manufacturers will still replace the faulty part out of good will!

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      LOL – at this exact moment, two handymen are in our house, to replace our old slider with French doors. The lock broke 5+ years ago on the slider, and our solution was to cut a board to size, and insert it in the groove to secure things. Impossible to replace/fix the lock on our model, so we lived with it for years and just now are finally getting around to an actual solution.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, we just mounted the security bar in the slider. I did email the installers and asked them for options on repairing/replacing the lock and also a quote on replacing the door with French doors, but I expect that will probably be more $$ than I’m willing to drop this summer on additional house projects (since I just bought laminate flooring for four rooms of my house that we’re installing this summer/fall). So the security bar might be where we stop for the next couple years before taking more steps :)

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          $1600 for the French door model we bought, as a data point. (plus installation, which would vary locally)

        2. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          You can also add a pin lock to a sliding door in addition to the security bar. I have one more for childproofing reasons (the sliding door goes out to the swimming pool area, so a pin lock in the upper corner makes it more difficult for visiting children to get to the pool without adults noticing), but they’re cheap and might provide a little extra security if the regular lock can’t be repaired.

  29. My Brain is Exploding.*

    What do you think constitutes a good sense of humor? I just read about Judi Dench saying you should have a good sense of humor as you grow older (because it lasts longer than your looks!). Thinking about this is confounded by thinking about when people tell you that you don’t have a sense of humor because…you don’t appreciate crude humor, etc.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband and brother like to tease me that I don’t have a sense of humor because I don’t get their jokes and I hate most modern comedy. I tell them that everyone I work with thinks I’m hilarious and maybe I don’t get their jokes because THEY’RE just not very funny.

      All that to say — it’s very subjective :)

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree! I love it when I meet someone with my same sense of humor. We like to play out an absurd statement and keep coming back to it, and we think it’s funnier and funnier the longer it goes on. Not … everybody thinks that is funny. Some people like butt jokes.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I like dad jokes, puns (obvious ones but also the really subtle kind) and otherwise require my humor to be dryer than the Sahara, haha. Butt jokes are not my thing and sex jokes will send me right out the room.

          1. Interesting…*

            My sense of humor is almost exactly the sane. Although I am perfectly willing to throw out an occasional “that’s what she said.”
            I can’t stand the three stooges, but I love Monty Python.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              My exception is Mel Brooks, and my husband is absolutely FLOORED at the fact that I howl like a maniac throughout the entirety of Blazing Saddles. I can’t explain it either, heh.

            2. WoodswomanWrites*

              Witty wordplay consistently makes me laugh. And I’m exactly with you about the three stooges and Monty Python. I didn’t like the stooges even when I was a kid.

              And unless I’m in the middle of something serious, I’m typically game for making almost anything playful. On more than one occasion, I’ve had to avoid sitting next to someone at social or work gatherings because when we’ve seen each other, it takes us back to some shared funny experience and we trigger spontaneous laughter all over again.

    2. Seahorse*

      Being able to laugh at yourself and occasionally laugh at the absurdity of life is a good thing. I tend toward being overly serious, and laughter makes the world seem lighter and more manageable.

      Beyond that, humor is pretty subjective, and people can try to weaponize it. “Can’t you take a joke?” doesn’t excuse being mean, insensitive, or inappropriate.

      1. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        The answer to the “can’t you take a joke” inquiry is, “of course, but only if it’s funny.” I have no problem calling people out on insulting or bully behavior. And that’s no joke.

        1. allathian*

          Yup, same. I don’t like malicious humor, or jokes where you’re supposed to laugh at someone else’s embarrasment or humiliation. I don’t even enjoy shows like Candid Camera much because most of the jokes are based on making the “victim” look foolish. That’s also why I don’t like pranks, even relatively innocuous ones that are easy to fix and cause no permanent damage, like sticking post-it notes all over someone’s monitor at the office. My sense of secondhand embarrassment is too strong for me to enjoy watching someone else be the victim of a prank.

          I absolutely reject the old adage about puns being the lowest form of wit, clever puns are hilarious.

    3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

      Everybody thinks that they have a good sense of humour! I don’t think that there is one objective “good” sense of humour (although I would argue there is definitely objectively bad humour if it is based on racism, sexism, etc.).
      I’ve also been told I have no sense of humour because I didn’t laugh at things that weren’t funny, but my friends all think I’m hilarious ;)

      1. Sloanicota*

        I would probably say I’ve met people who have legitimately no, or very little, sense of humor, and would even admit that themselves. Some people are very logical and literal minded, so they don’t really appreciate silliness, absurdity, or even sarcasm. Still I’d warrant they’ve chuckled at something, somewhere, so maybe you’re right.

    4. fposte*

      I don’t think it’s a single thing. It’s like saying “a good enjoyment of food.” That can mean one person loves McDonalds and another loves molecular gastronomy and another loves cucumbers.

      I think the kind she means there is the ability to find humor in setbacks and changes as a part of resilience. If I slip and fall in the mud, that’s no fun. But raging about it doesn’t help, and I probably did look pretty funny, so I might as well laugh.

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I think being able to read a room and adapt your humour to specific audiences. Understanding that just because something is funny to you, it might not be to others; not pursuing a particular type of humour agenda against the comfort levels of other people. The minute people tell you you don’t have a good sense of humour, they’re being terribly ironic.

    6. RagingADHD*

      The sense of humor you need as you get older is the ability to appreciate the irony and absurdity of life, and laugh at yourself rather than getting tied in knots about the inevitable changes.

      A bit of gallows humor doesn’t hurt, either. Because the longer you live the more dark situations you’ll go through, and it’s a good coping mechanism.

      For some people, those might be a bit crude, since body changes are part of aging. But having a different sense of humor isn’t the same as having none.

    7. Esprit de l'escalier*

      You should automatically reject the judgment of anyone who tells you that you don’t have a sense of humor because you don’t appreciate crude jokes or any other kind of humor that is off-putting to you. What you’re demonstrating is that you have a different sensibility than theirs, which has nothing to do with your ability to appreciate your own kind of humor. You may find yourself giggling over jokes or situations that go right over their head.

      My mental reaction would be that the person who says this is as obnoxious as their sense of humor. Out loud I might say to them, “Different strokes for different folks.”

    8. Waiting on the bus*

      In the way Judi Dench seems to have used it I think it just means being able to laugh at yourself.

    9. Despachito*

      I’d bet she was referring to the ability to find a funny side to life situations that are not always so funny, as opposed to constantly complaining about them.

      As people age, their physical/mental abilities to cope with life situations may decline, and they may experience some limitations. It is not pleasant, and you could complain about it all the day long and you would be right… but it will drive people away and make your own life even more miserable. However, when you are able to not take it so seriously (and this is where your life experience may help), you are much more pleasant both to be around and to yourself.

  30. Skeptical*

    How (or at what point) can you tell if a therapist is going to be able to help you?

    For a few years, I’ve been having issues with high and constant anxiety and stress that are destroying my health. The situation causing it will end eventually, but I can’t control when. I’m desperate to do something to feel even a little bit better, so I thought I should try therapy even though I’m admittedly skeptical about it. After calling several independent therapists and a couple group practices, the first person I could get an appointment with was a counselor who specializes in children/teens (their last few jobs were at schools). So not great, but better than waiting until September for an opening with someone better.

    I’ve had two appointments so far. First was a lot of her asking questions and me answering. Second appointment, we talked some more, and she suggested journaling (because it helps some people). I guess I can try it, but I’m not sure it’ll help. For the last 15 minutes of the appointment, she read a meditation/mindfulness script (I had to sit quietly and be aware of different body parts). Which felt silly. She makes comments on how I seem very self aware and “well read” (I’ve read about anxiety related things a lot, and bring up things I’ve learned when talking about my anxiety). Kind of feels like an adult complimenting a child.

    I don’t know how to tell if she’s going to actually be able to help me. My copays are high, and I’m wondering if these appointments are worth it, or if I should just buy a book on CBT and anxiety and read that instead.

    1. OyHiOh*

      It is amazing how many people are genuinely not self aware though, even in populations that seek out therapy. So you’re way ahead of the curve there, and she probably didn’t *intend* for the comment to hit the way it did in your brain.

      A friend who has done a lot more therapy than me said to look for a connection (do I feel comfortable working with this person) rather than progress because it’s hard to measure progress over weeks or individual visits. What happens with me is that I slog along doing the work and then suddenly realize months or a year later that something has shifted and I’m not responding in the way I used to.

    2. RagingADHD*

      I think it would be a good idea to stay on the waitlist for the person who’s probably better, and keep doing something in the meantime if you can afford it. Either sticking with this therapist (who isn’t a great fit but sounds better than nothing), or trying an online therapy option.

    3. I'm Done*

      You have to click with your therapist or otherwise it’s not going to help you. I would definitely get on several waiting lists and maybe do one more session with the current one and let her know your concerns. But I’ve had therapists where I knew immediately that it wasn’t going to work.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I have struggled with this question a lot too. I’m not sure I’m the kind of person therapy works very well for. I’m already an overthinker. I end up feeling like either I like the person, and we end up sort of “chatting” – or I don’t connect with them, and their suggestions never click for me. You have to be willing to trust the person’s suggestions and go with them, even if you’re not sure – and they have to be offering meaningful concrete suggestions, not just listening to me talk, because I already have friends I can vent to if I just want to vent! Since it’s my understanding that usually that’s not even how people get prescriptions anymore (they go through a GP instead), and since most therapists don’t take my insurance, I’m also in the “maybe I’ll just get a workbook” stage. So, sympathy!

      1. Maree*

        CBT isn’t the be all and end all of therapies. Narrative therapies (chatting!) are well established modalities that work really well with some populations. Obviously, there is a lot to it but if done well it does feel like a comfortable conversation.

        The relationship is important, possibly (according to some) *the* most important aspect of therapy though so if you aren’t feeling it then move on. But don’t get stuck on the idea that the counsellor has to be making concrete suggestions. I’d argue that a good counsellor shouldn’t be making any at all but should be drawing out your own thoughts, values and ideas.

    5. Jen Erik*

      I only know about this second hand, but my daughter did CBT at 17 to help with her social anxiety, and as we happened to have (very basic) CBT books in the house she had read them first. But for her, at least, that intellectual understanding of CBT wasn’t anything she could put into action, because she was trying to use her thinking to fix her thinking. She needed to work through the program with a therapist. (Who said it would take 12 sessions, which it did, though by session 9 or 10 we were fairly disbelieving. The therapist said it was pretty normal to have a bit of a dip before you get better. Not that she hopped out of bed cured on week 12, but the spiral down had reversed and become a spiral up. )

      1. Anonymous cat*

        When you said you were disbelieving by session 9/10, did you mean the CBT didn’t seem to work or that you’d lost confidence in the therapist?
        Did you change your mind about either by session 12?

        I’m guessing that after session 12, that your daughter continued with the books on CBT and she’d learned enough that she could keep going upward without the therapist? Does it work that way?

        I don’t mean to intrude! I’m just curious how CBT works in practice. And I hope your daughter is still on an upward spiral!

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

      I think if you’re not vibing with her yet, give her a call between sessions and be forthright about what you don’t find helpful and what you would prefer. I think that any good therapist is going to want to try to adapt to what will be most helpful for their client, so if she gets defensive and says, “Well, that’s just how I am,” that’s a great sign to just cut her loose. But if you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, let her know and see what happens.

    7. Office hobbit*

      I saw a therapist for about a year. I think we could both tell it wasn’t a great fit, so she tried an few different approaches with me and I put up with some things I thought were a little silly at first, but in the end it did help and I’m glad I kept with it. That said, my copays were very affordable. (Before this I had seen another therapist who actually made things worse, so pay attention that you’re not in that situation.)

      I would be frank with your therapist about your concerns. They might be able to modify their approach for you, or maybe they could recommend some workbooks or other books for you to work through in addition to less frequent appointments (like every two weeks or monthly). I agree with what Jen Erik said that you often can’t just read the book on your own, because it’s trying to fix your thinking with your own thinking.

    8. therapy skeptic*

      Okay! As a Therapy Skeptic who has nonetheless had (against all expectations) some success in therapy over the last few years, I have thoughts.

      Right up front, I’ll say that this person likely will not be able to help you. Some folks do push through things that feel silly/pointless, like journaling or being aware of body parts, and find them helpful, but other folks will get sufficiently hung up on the weirdness of these things that there’s no actual good outcomes. I’m in the second category. It’s fine if you are too. If you try therapy again, you can tell your therapist this (“I don’t want to do X, Y, or Z.”)

      Your idea to read a book sounds worthwhile. At least one of the big things that I took away from therapeutic resources was a written resource I found on the web. Esp. if you prefer to take in information via writing or more directly, a book might help.

      If you decide to pursue therapy again (totally okay if you don’t), here’s some things that could help:

      A therapist who primarily sees folk outside your demographic isn’t necessarily the sign of a bad fit.

      If therapists you call don’t currently have openings, you can ask them for recommendations. “Who would you suggest for [fill in the blank]?”

      Figure out what you want in a therapist and what you want to get out of therapy before you start calling. Include this information when you ask for recommendations.

      Most therapists should be able to do a 10-15 minute free phone call to see if a further conversation makes sense.

      If you don’t like a therapist, move on. I had a few encounters where I should have moved on more quickly than I did –– including at least one therapist who was so heavy-handed that I should have just got up and walked out right then.

    9. Dodubln*

      If your “spidey sense” is telling you this isn’t working for you, it probably isn’t. I have seen two LCSW’s in my lifetime( I am not a therapy person, at all), once in 1993 after a huge situational depression(loss of a parent/workplace massacre), and then again in 2022, for different reasons. In 1993, I clicked with the LCSW big time. I could have gone on seeing her for years, she was so great. But I didn’t need to see her for years, I just needed her for a few months.
      In 2022, I actually needed more help, and the LCSW I was seeing just wasn’t right for me, I eventually realized. She “checked” all the boxes, but it wasn’t a good fit. And I had no copay!
      I think the breaking point for me was when I was actually having a good day, and went into her office very upbeat for my appointment, and her response was to ask me if I had ever been tested for ADD/ADHD, because I seemed “intense”. This sent me into a spiral of asking everyone who knew me well if I was “intense”. I wasn’t. And I am the furthest thing from ADD/ADHD, to boot.
      Then I noticed that she seemed very down on my husband, who was not the reason I was there, at all. He is awesome. But she was divorced. Next, it was if I was an alcoholic, because she was one, 20 years sober. I am not an alcoholic.
      She also kept mentioning how great my insurance was, and that I should keep coming to appointments.
      It took me way too long, but eventually I realized she was more messed up than I was, and I stopped seeing her. I am not saying that is your situation. I am just saying that if you don’t feel the connection, get someone else. Don’t try to make it happen, chances are it won’t.

  31. Invisible fish*

    I apologize in advance for all the questions I’ll be posting today and tomorrow. Y’all are just the best at pointing folks in a good direction to get problems solved.

    Desk chairs: I need one for home and one for my classroom. I’m 5’3”-ish and ultra hippy; I need real arm rests.

    Where to shop? Brands to look for? Particular chairs that are great?

    And most importantly, how to procure them as cheaply as possible?

    1. Llama Llama*

      I bought a pleather chair off of Amazon 2 years ago. it was 150 and has worked well for me (I am 5’4). I like to sit cross legged in my chair and am quite abusive to it. One of the arms has fallen off due to that.

    2. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I need to sit in a chair to know if it works for me. You might go to an office furniture store (not Staples) and sit in a bunch to figure out which will be best, and then look on Ebay or look for a cheaper model with the same measurements.

    3. MissCoco*

      My husband found a corporate furniture liquidator when he started to work from home. He was able to trial many of the classic ergonomic options and got a used chair that looks like new for a good deal. I think his is a Steelcase Leap v2?
      There is actually a whole subreddit devoted to office chairs, which my husband spent a lot of time perusing before his shopping trip.

    1. GoryDetails*

      I visited the Commonwealth Museum in Boston for the first time – got to see some fascinating documents from the earliest days of settlement, including the one that inspired Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”: the document spells out the size and placement of the “A” – which adulterers of either sex had to wear – plus the consequences for failing to follow the rules.

      1. WellRed*

        I’ve never even heard of this museum and I lived there for a bit! And love history. Thank you!

    2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Ok I swear I saw deer crossing the road in front of my car! I swear! It’s so exciting I’m telling everyone!

    3. ConstantlyComic*

      I posted the first part of a just-for-fun project I’ve been working on to the public, and have gotten positive reactions so far! I’m hoping this spirit continues; it should be a lot of fun :)

    4. the cat's ass*

      CW: pet death

      My sweet little demented 14 year old cat passed this week with the complete lack of fuss that also characterized his life. So it may sound weird, but I’m grateful and can think of him with happiness and that his end was so peaceful.

    5. RagingADHD*

      Second child, who has been in an extended period of “Mom Is The Absolute Worst, Ugh!” deigned to go on an outing with me yesterday, and afterwards cuddled and laughed and was silly with me for a good half an hour. It was the delight of my heart.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        “It was the delight of my heart.” I think my heart needed to hear something like that; it hasn’t been feeling very delightful lately. Thank you.

    6. AGD*

      I found two stores that sell my favorite wraps and bought two medium-sized piles of them to take home and put in the fridge. They’re delicious!

    7. I take tea*

      I just stood by a bush in full bloom and listened to the bees and the bumblebees humming away. The flowers smelled divine and the humming sound was so content. I felt calm and content myself.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      We had a thunderstorm last night! I like them when I don’t have to worry about tornadoes every time. It was rather cozy putting bookshelves together while the outside was all rumbly, and then sitting down for a snack.

    9. anon24*

      I’ve started roller blading after over 15 years. It used to be my favorite thing as a kid and young teen, and then I got busy with life and ended up passing along my blades. Last year I realized I missed it and bought new blades and safety gear but never got the time. This week I’ve been going out later at night after dark and just spending long amounts of time cruising around. I’ve been so sore all week using muscles I haven’t used in years, but I feel like it’s cut through my depression in a way nothing else has in so long.

    10. Voluptuousfire*

      Finding Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey on YouTube. I love Sam Dunn’s work and his film company was working on a documentary about Sue Johansen, who is this 93 year old sex educator in Canada who also had a late night call in sex advice show on Oxygen in the early ‘00s. It was originally repeats of her show in Canada but she started one in the US as well.

      I’m looking forward to seeing that once it comes out.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I just had a very expensive visit from a plumber. The sinks, tubs and showers in my house all have single handle faucets which, over time, became progressively stiffer and more difficult to use. The one for one of the bathtubs got to where I needed to use both hands to turn it on or off. Apparently these single-handle faucets have some sort of “cartridge” in them that wears out and needs to be replaced, so I had that done on 3 of the faucets and it has made a world of difference. There was a 4th faucet where there was no water pressure and the plumber fixed that in short order. It turned out the faucet was clogged with mineral deposits, but it was easily fixed. Easily accessible running water! The joy of civilization!

    12. Anonymous cat*

      Spotify is getting really good at making playlists for me. I’m enjoying them.

    13. Rara Avis*

      I promise this is a joy, although the premise is sad. A very young friend of mine recently entered hospice care. I know her through a shared hobby, which she hasn’t been able to do since her diagnosis came right before Covid started. This week a mutual friend organized a hobby session for us to all get together and just do the thing. It was joyful. Although I will admit to crying on my way home.

    14. carcinization*

      Basically all food-related as usual. My husband came home from place that must not be named with some weird squash that someone was trying to get rid of, along with a couple of serranos, so I identified it via google (it’s Tatume), and used it and the serranos to make a version of Homesick Texan’s Tex-Mex Squash Casserole, which turned out well. Also, a friend that I was concerned might be upset with me agreed to go to dim sum with us next weekend so now I’m not so worried about that anymore. Finally, we had a really good lunch at a local place that we don’t get to go to often as it’s not open for dinner and that’s when we usually go out to eat if we do.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      A weekend dedicated to music has been fantastic. I went to a performance of Bobby McFerrin’s amazing a capella group. It’s only partially a performance, the rest is inclusive improvisational singing with everyone in attendance. He’s now a local and the venue wasn’t full, so I got to dance at the top of an aisle with no one close by. So inspiring.

      The rest of the weekend has been an online mountain dulcimer festival with workshops I participated in followed by hours of concerts by the extraordinary instructors, many of whom are touring musicians. I’ve learned a lot in the workshops and excited about continuing to be a better player.

    16. elvie*

      A friend recommended “our flag means death” to me a while ago, I finally decided to watch it and I loved it!

    17. Hotdog not dog*

      We happened upon a really great food truck at a local festival yesterday. Best Cuban sandwich I’ve ever had!

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

      Sushi! : ) Also, the flowers people grow in my urban neighborhood. I am not feeling great, so walking v. slowly, but it gives me more time literally to stop and and smell the roses.

    19. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m currently on my way home from a weekend away, seeing a play and then going to the sea. Things I love include plays, the sea, warm weather and delicious ice cream and I got all of these. It was the perfect weekend for the sea, as Ireland is currently experiencing what counts as a heatwave here. It’s like 22-26 degrees Celsius (about 70-80 Fahrenheit), which has the papers reporting stuff like “hotter than Spain!”

  32. Epsilon Delta*

    Gardening novice question. How do I properly water my full-sun plants that are planted in mulch? I water for 15 minutes twice a week with a sprinkler and by the next day the dirt under the mulch is bone dry, even though this is 2+ inches of water per week. I thought mulch was supposed to hold in moisture.

    I planted begonias, zinnias, and snapdragons from starts two weeks ago. The begonias seem fine. The zinnias seem to be doing okay but not great. The snapdragons are losing all their flowers and some leaves and look really sad. What am I doing wrong here?

    I am not a gardener and really don’t enjoy it as a hobby. I have basically no idea what I’m doing. I just want to keep these plants alive and looking decent until fall with as little work on my part as possible. If this is a throw-money-at-it problem, that option is not off the table.

    1. I'm Done*

      If you just planted them a couple of weeks ago, you probably need to water them every day unless it rains. I just take a hose and give them a good spraying and that seems to do the trick.

    2. KatEnigma*

      You need a drip water system. Water at soil level, not the leaves.

      And you need to deadhead the snapdragons- remove dead blossoms.

    3. Expiring Cat Memes*

      If they’re small and still getting established, water from a sprinkler might not be getting to the roots. And if you have even a slight slope with very dry soil, light watering will run straight off the surface. I’d use a hose and aim it at the base of each plant.

    4. Just another username*

      We have drip irrigation and need to run it for 10-15 minutes twice a day during the summer (NYC area) and I water my containers that get full sun once or twice daily, so it may just be that you aren’t watering enough.

      I highly recommend drip irrigation (or sprinklers) on a timer. The components aren’t expensive and it’s possible to DIY it, or hire someone to do it in a reasonable amount of time for a standard garden bed (so the labor cost shouldn’t be insane). And the water starts under the mulch so runs off and evaporates much less.

    5. RagingADHD*

      What zone are you in, how hot is it? And what type of soil do you have? It sounds like it drains fast.

      I usually water annuals every day that it doesn’t rain, as another commenter said. Early morning is best.

    6. Ellis Bell*

      It sounds like you would be interested in really easy care plants, and maybe a watering system. Putting water gel granules into the soil, a seep hose, a water globe that will seep water into the roots are good hacks. Mulch really does help keep water in, but if it’s super hot and there’s no fabric or plastic layer beneath the mulch, you probably need to water new, unestablished plants pretty frequently. In a pinch I’ve just cut a water bottle in half and put the empty neck in soil near the plant base – if you fill it it will slowly serve water to the roots and need less top ups. If you’re not keen on a lot of feeding, watering or deadheading then plants like rosemary, lavender, hosta, daylillies are pretty self sufficient. I also really recommend the Picture This app – it has a diagnose function which helps you out if you have a droopy plant, it will tell you what it needs.

    7. Samwise*

      New plants: water daily if it’s hot for at least the first month or so.

      I often cut off the bottom of a four or six inch plastic pot, dig a hole in the garden, stick the pot in the hole, fill the pot with planting mix, plant in that, then mulch over that. Water well every day until the plant is established.

      And choose drought tolerant plants. Black eyed Susans, coneflowers, Shasta daisies, day lilies for instance. Ask at an independent garden center, they’re usually up on what is easy and tough for your area. You might pay more for the plants there but they’re likely to be good quality and you’ll be supporting a local business.

  33. Relocating hack*

    I’m preparing to move from a large city in Ohio to Washington, DC — my movers come on Thursday and I move on Friday! I haven’t moved cross-country before (when I moved to my current place, it was my first post-college move, so I didn’t have a lot of stuff) and I’d love any and all advice y’all have for making it as seamless as possible.

    I’m less concerned about the big logistics (I know to pack a box or two of essentials for before the movers arrive in DC, for example) but I know there are lots of small details that can make things easier, that someone moving a long distance for the first time wouldn’t necessarily think of.

    1. The teapots are on fire*

      Pack a very well-marked box of your bedding and if your stuff will have a truck to itself, try to get the movers to load that last so it can be unloaded first. There’s nothing like being able to make your bed right away and sleep in it after your move.

      1. yourleague*

        And for the second box: spray cleaner, rags or paper towels, a couple of light bulbs, a few batteries in diff sizes (for remotes, thermostats, smoke alarms, etc.), a box of granola bars or something else high-energy you can eat without cooking, a big cup for tap water, any pet bowls/leashes/food/meds, a towel and soap, and one of each of all your necessary chargers.

    2. KatEnigma*

      Do you have someone you can ask to help you supervise the movers? Otherwise be prepared to constantly rotate. Cross country movers do the craziest things when no one is physically in the room with them as they pack you up. 2/3 times we have had this

    3. Samwise*

      You will need more strapping tape and bubble wrap (or newsprint) than you expect. A lot.

      Get a packet of sharpies.

      Number your boxes and keep a list of contents. Also label boxes w your name, new address, room they go to. Put a paper w name, new address, phone number, email address IN each box

      Take cleaning stuff in your car, or buy it your first day in the new place.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Oh, and forward your mail with USPS now, and change your address with all institutions ASAP.

    4. KR*

      Scope out nearby stores to where your new place will be – you will likely be running to home improvement stores and the grocery store a lot while you get settled in and having one identified & saved in your phones maps app that is either the same chain you’re used to, or has a similar vibe, can be helpful. Also be aware that DC traffic is on a whole other level. I’ve driven in many different areas of the country including Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Boston, NYC, and Phoenix and the traffic/drivers in DC were next level bad. Good luck with the move and have fun!

    5. Rosemary*

      If you live in an apartment building or are moving to an apartment building, confirm any move in/move rules (such as the hours you are allowed to move in/out, reserving service elevator, etc.) And make sure – in writing – that your movers are aware of them.

  34. Dark Macadamia*

    What’s the best or most memorable thing you’ve seen written in a yearbook?

    I remember in 5th grade someone wrote HAKAS (have a kick ass summer) in mine and a teacher pretended to think it meant “hugs and kisses and smiles” or something lol.

    In high school it was a thing for close friends to claim full pages in the autograph section and fill them with a long message and tons of inside jokes that are fun to read now but make NO sense.

    I had a teacher write a very kind message about how happy I’d seemed during senior year and how he hoped I’d stay that way, it still makes me emotional thinking about it.

    I also had a teacher write a sort of creepy message about how I knew him really well because I’d read a book he recommended. I don’t think it was intended in a creepy way but in retrospect it’s like dude, have some boundaries!

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      I will never forget what my 5th grade teacher wrote in my autograph book – we all had them as pre-teens as a precursor to yearbooks, which were not produced for grade school.

      She wrote:

      When the roses from your cheeks have faded
      And your hair has turned to gray
      May you be as sweet of a woman
      As you are a girl today.

      I have long since lost the autograph book (I wish I kept it!), but have never forgotten this. The poem is pretty dated, and it was the 70s when she wrote it, but I always treasured the gentle message.

      1. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Gosh. The roses from my cheeks have faded and my hair has turned to gray, and I’m not quite as sweet as I was when I was a girl, nor do I want to be. What a wimpy people-pleaser I was, which comes across as sweet, and it took a long time to get over it.

        I’m sure your teacher had the best intentions, but that’s how this feels to me. I still care about other people’s feelings but have learned to also care about my own feelings.

    2. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      My husband had a teacher in high school who had a rubber stamp printed up for signing yearbooks. It read, “To My Favorite Student, Have a Great Summer. Signed, Mr. XXX” LOL!

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I love this! I’m a teacher and was thinking of writing something like that. A stamp is hilarious.

    3. yourleague*

      Seth Rogen’s memoir Yearbook has a funny story about how this can go wrong…

    4. Squidhead*

      I recall filling pages (and having mine filled) with heartfelt messages (so much teen drama…it filled our lives at the time and I’m not saying it wasn’t important, but we all needed to go off to college and have a chance to start over, which most of us did! It gets better.)

      But I can only remember two specific things written in them: One was a favorite teacher who referred to me as quixotic (it means ‘idealistic’ and/or naive, basically). She later had a very public affair (and a baby) with another teacher, I found out she told my mom I was wasting my life in my chosen career, and she was arrested for shoplifting. So, I guess she was right?? She’s not my favorite teacher any more.

      The other was the hilarious joke of writing “does it tickle when I write in your crack?” written on the inside fold between the cover and the first page. Teen humor at its finest!

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

      My 7th-grade crush wrote “Have a great summer and lots of luck!” in my yearbook, and it meant EVERYTHING.

    6. Irish Teacher.*

      We didn’t have yearbooks, but at the end of 3rd year (at 15 and before the year group split as 4th year is optional in Ireland), we passed around copies and stuff to write each other messages. I still have mine and one girl wrote “when you grow up, you will make a good professor of history. Up the Republic!” (The last was a reference to my interest in Ireland’s War of Independence and how it came to be a Republic.) And, yes, I am a history teacher. Not a professor though.

    7. Meow*

      Probably no one will see this, but one of the more amusing memories from middle school was when one of the boys in my class got in trouble for writing HAKAS in people’s yearbooks and had to get all the yearbooks he signed back to white it out and write something appropriate!

  35. I'm Done*

    Any Kdrama fans amongst the crowd? I started watching recently and now I’m hopelessly hooked. I really enjoy the intricate plots and the mixture of genres. There’s rarely a drama that doesn’t have elements of humor and vice versa. I find the acting skills outstanding and I love that they actually show men crying and being vulnerable. Yes, Korean society is still largely mysognistic and the shows reflect that but I still enjoy them tremendously. My favorite shows so far were Healer, Oh My Venus, Flower of Evil, I married an Anti-Fan, Risky Partner and Master’s Sun, though I’ve binge watched at least fourty by now and there wasn’t a bad one amongst them. I also developed my first celebrity crush since I was 11 years old, and I won’t mention how long ago that was. The funny thing is that I actually lived in South Korea for several years and never really got into the shows at that time, with a couple of exceptions.
    So, Kdrama fans, what are your favorite shows and why, and who’s your favorite actor? (Mine are Ji Chang-Wook and So Ji-Sub)

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      Ooooh, oooh, oooh – Moorim School, hands down. A magical martial arts high school with amazing kids and their back stories. Totally binge-able. The best character is Soon-deok, played by Seo Yea-ji. Her composure, extreme gravitas and fighting skills are amazing for a TV show. I wish it would come out on DVD. I would love to own it.

      And the main character Yoon Shin-Woo is played by Lee Hyun-woo. You want crush material – he’s IT!

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I’m a fan of the actor Lee Dong Wook :)
      I’m currently enjoying “Tale of the nine tailed 1938”, a very enjoyable sequel to “Tale of the nine tailed” (fox), where for plot reason characters end up back in 1938 (terrific ladies, and stunning costumes!). Also enjoyed his “Bad and Crazy”, and thought he was the best part of Guardian. Very good at a broad range of emotions, and a deft hand at comic timing, even if the shows are not comedies!

      Another favourite actor is Lee Je Hoon; Signal was one of my first Kdramas, and it’s really well done (no wonder it won drama of the year!). I enjoy a lot of his other shows, like Taxi Driver. Does intense sincerity very well, while being able to kick ass and take names!

      Final current favourite is Stove League (also won Best Drama in its year 2019), which is top notch about the managemnt of a failing baseball team, between seasons.

      1. I'm Done*

        Haven’t watched anything with either one of them but getting ready to watch Taxi today. Bad and Crazy is on my watch list. My husband is starting to think I’m nuts. All he hears lately is Korean.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          :) Good luck on Taxi Driver – it does take you unto some very gray areas on vigilante justice!

          I can’t recommend Signal enough! Very strong cast, top-notch writing with great emotional core. A lot less violent than Taxi Driver!

          Also: meant Goblin, not Guardian! Which I enjoyed for everything except the main romance, due to ages involved. That particular trope was way better done in Tale of the Nune-tailed. It would have been much better if they’d aged up the FL by about 5 years.

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      Crash Landing On You is fantastic. Have watched it twice! Jewel of the Palace (Dae Jang Geum) was the first K-Drama I watched and will always be the GOAT for me. :) Extraordinary Attorney Woo is also very fun and a second season is coming in 2024.

    4. LNLN*

      Yes to the great acting in Kdramas! I have been watching them (primarily on Netflix) for 6 years or so. My favorite shows include:

      Crash Landing on You- The love story was good, but in general the humor and the relationship development was well done.
      Vagabond- The lead roles were extremely well cast and the action scenes are amazing.
      Stranger- One of the first Korean shows I watched. Love the leads: Cho Seung-woo and Bae Doona. Season 2 was not as good as season 1.
      Oh My Ghost- This romantic comedy turns into a who-done-it. Excellent acting.
      Man 2 Man- This thriller has a lot of great relationship development.
      The King; Eternal Monarch- I love me a good parallel universe story. And a good love story.
      Memories of the Alhambra- Suspenseful.
      Sisyphus- Time travel.
      Move to Heaven- A young man who has autism has a business cleaning places where there has been a death.
      Extraordinary Attorney Woo- My husband loved how the legal cases were not ones we see in American law shows.

      I love having people to talk with about Kdramas!

      1. I'm Done*

        I loved Strangers also. Couldn’t find season 2 anywhere accessible to me. I have Prime and KOCOWA. I’ll add Oh my Ghost to my watchlist.
        We could have a semiregular update here on what’s new and watchable. I’m definitely up for that.

        1. LNLN*

          Yes, I would love to talk about Kdramas here periodically. I have 1 friend that I text with about what we are watching but otherwise I have not found people to talk Kdrama with.

    5. Kw10*

      Have to put in a plug for this: my friend just launched a new K-drama game (paper journal version, with an app coming soon) for K-drama fans! Check it out at kingogames dot LLC (link to follow in a separate post). She is doing this as a complete labor of love and working really hard to get it off the ground!

    6. Been There*

      I’ve been hooked on kdramas for 2 years now. I’m actually watching one right now, Flower Crew: Joseon Marriage Agency. Kim Minjae, who plays the lead, is one of my favourite actors.

      1. Been There*

        I also really like Thai bl’s and romantic cdramas. Viki does an excellent job collecting the best of east Asian dramas.

  36. Expiring Cat Memes*

    Gardening thread, what’s happening with your green babies?

    Any advice about indoor hanging plants? I have about 100 indoor plants but no hanging ones yet as I haven’t found any suitable pots that are big enough for the plants I want to put in them. Most of them either drain freely or are tiny (12cm ish) ceramic pots. I’m thinking about buying large lightweight plastic cover pots with no drainage holes and drilling holes around the tope to attach wires to. Then fill the bottom with perlite and placing the plant inside in a grower’s pot. What do others do?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have two types – one is a two-layer pot, where the inside pot has drainage and the outside one doesn’t (kind of like you’re describing). The other, I got macrame hangers and put regular 8” tabletop style pots with the saucers underneath into the hanging spots, and those work great.

    2. oy and vey*

      A few years ago I was able to get *some* hanging baskets with a plastic drip-tray bottom from my local hardware store. They were prefilled with plants. We were using them for outdoor baskets, but we didn’t want to splash the people below us. Otherwise, a regular pot inside a decorative pot and hang with a macrame plant hanger was a standard technique.

    3. Snell*

      One of my green babies recently acquired sunburn scars. My burrito sedum spent all winter indoors, I didn’t properly acclimate it to longer outdoor sun exposure when it went outside again, and now a ton of the leaves each have a little dry oval burn scar. I knew there was a possibility this would happen, and the damage isn’t severe enough to threaten the plant’s health, it’s just aesthetic damage at this point, and knowing this, I thought I wouldn’t care if it happened, but it turns out I’m less okay with it than I anticipated. -__- Stupid me. Every time I go out there and see it, I wince inside.

      On the upside, there’s a baby Japanese pumpkin making itself at home atop the compost pile and the Hylocereus cacti are in the middle of a bloom. The flowers are a deep red/slight pink-purple-magenta mixed in, if anyone’s wondering.

  37. ConstantlyComic*

    I just got accepted to grad school, which is very exciting, and I’ve been working on what I need to do for admission, bug I hit a small snag registering for classes. I can register for up to two classes per semester. I work full-time and intend to continue doing so, so I am concerned about time and time management, so I’m torn on whether I want to sign up for one class or two this semester. I’m pretty sure I could manage two classes a semester in general, so my inner school overachiever will probably feel guilty if I don’t try it this semester, but I’m also afraid enough of burnout that I don’t know if I should. I just need external voices on this, I think.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      One this semester. If the workload is manageable, go for two next semester.

    2. No Tribble At All*

      Agree with everyone else saying start with 1, then go up to two. Also, talk with other people in your program who are further along. I’ve had classes that I could’ve managed two a semester, and I’ve had classes where I could barely manage one. It also may depend on time of year — if you tend to travel a lot in the fall for holidays, maybe don’t do two classes that semester, etc

    3. really*

      Agree with the others. Also this will give you a chance to learn about the expectations for the other classes. Some you may only want to take one at a time and others would be easier to do two. Also a lot depends on the type of job and outside commitments you have. My daughter worked 2 part time jobs that totaled 50 hours a week and took 2 night classes. Doable but her jobs were definitely leave work at work types and her main outside commitments were just her pets.

    4. quitting DIY*

      Where are people finding handyman-type household workers these days? I’ve heard Angie’s List is bad now, I know Yelp is a mess, and I’m not on Facebook. TaskRabbit?

      I have a handful of projects that aren’t big enough to interest a general contractor. A few rooms to paint, two windows to replace, a bit of drywall repair, etc. (I planned to do it all myself, but I just can’t find the time, so now I’m ready to throw money at it.)

      1. quitting DIY*

        Oh FFS. Nesting fail. Will repost at the bottom where it belongs, feel free to delete.

    5. tomorrow's here*

      I had one grad school class that required a 15-page paper every week. I was only working part-time that semester, but I dropped my second course because that one course was enough work. Take one course, then re-evaluate.

    6. SofiaDeo*

      If the “drop/add” policy is generous, you could start with two. Verify how long you have for tuition reimbursement and if any advisor approval is needed to drop. Then you can see what 2 feels like, if this degree is something you are hoping to finish soonest without having a crazy stressed life.

      If you have problems saying “no” or with putting too much on your plate in general, start with one.

    7. Lifelong student*

      When I went to grad school I was working full time as well. I took two classes each semester and it was quite manageable but my full time job was not stressful- plus I had no family issues to deal with. Actually- I did much of my undergrad that way as well even when I had teenagers at home. In my case, I was an older student- BS at 47 and MBA at 56. Both times I found that being an older student made the course work easier because of more life experience and ability to organize my time. It meant a lot fewer years to achieve my goals. The area you are in could be the same- or if very different your past may not contribute. Pick your classes carefully- try to get an easier one and a harder one each term if you can.

    8. adademic strategist*

      Congrats and good luck! Personally, I’d rather play it safe than risk burnout. BUT, if you decide to go for it and register in two classes, I’d carefully map out the workload for the semester. Grab your calendar (or calendar device) and your syllabi, add in the due date for each reading/assignment, estimate how long each reading/assignment will take, and budget that time into your daily workflow. Finally, look for conflicts. If you have a day/week with multiple assignments due and it looks like you’ll be stretched too thin, ask your instructor in advance if an extension is possible. If yes, great! If not, then you can work ahead on one of the projects or drop the course if it’s not doable. This approach *should* give you some useful data points, but I’d also recommend assessing this process as you go. Did your readings/assignments take longer/shorter than you estimated? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you feeling burnt out? Adjust accordingly. Source: academic strategist with experience coaching hundreds of grad students.

    9. Esprit de l'escalier*

      I vote for start out with one class this semester and see how it goes. Probably you want to finish as soon as possible, but I think you’ll have a much better feel for this if you start with only one class.

    10. jasmine tea*

      Check the required courses for the program and their availability before you decide. My experience my be biased since I did undergrad at a Big Ten and grad at a regional U, but it was a bit of a shock to realize I needed some grad classes that were only offered every other year. Depending on how soon you want to be done, you may need to plan for those Brigadoon classes, and then cram other semesters with the filler.

    11. Samwise*

      It’s more important to do well and really learn, than to go fast.

      If it turns out the one class is not a big time suck, use the extra time to do the optional reading on the syllabus, spend time digging into topics that spark your interest, go to office hours, join a student organization, set up a weekly study group with the other first years.

      Have fun!

    12. ConstantlyComic*

      self-reply with a quick update: I asked a friend who’s enrolled in the same program if she did one class or two her first semester, and she told me that the class you have to take first is really easy, so I’m thinking I’ll enroll in two classes and just drop one if I think it’s going to be too much.

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

      Agreeing with the folks who say one this term, and then re-evaluate whether you want to do one or two next term. Overall, if you’re working full time, one per semester is smartest.

    14. Pumpkinhead*

      Chiming in as someone who works full-time and just completed their first year in grad school–I had the option to take up to two classes each semester and I opted to take the full amount in order to graduate by a certain date. I think for your first semester, if you choose to take two classes, pick two classes that won’t take up all of the same kind of energy. This is obviously program-dependent, but I’ll give an example.

      My first semester, I took a stats course, which had homework and projects (but no mandatory attendance) and a course with lots of required readings, exams, and a group project (and mandatory attendance). Not having exams for one of my classes really helped a lot in getting me back into the school mindset, because I could focus my study energy for the class that did have exams. Also, not having mandatory attendance for one of my classes helped when I needed to spend more time at work or when I needed to study for my other class. Check if the classes you want to sign up for have prior years’ syllabi, so you have an idea of what the course schedule will look like. And of course, taking one class to start is always an option!

  38. Girasol*

    I just got one of those front door motion-detecting camera/floodlights. I love it! The phone buzzes with a video of the delivery man dropping a box on the step. I can see that a Ceiling Cat and a Basement Cat are both visiting my door. And I have that extra sense of safety when I’m in bed that if someone messes with my door at the night (kid pranksters are sometimes destructive) they’ll get suddenly floodlit and I’ll be wakened. But I have a problem and I hope one of you wise folks knows the answer: the camera has a temperature range, it turns out, and I think mid summer will overheat it. The ideal spot for the unit is right where it gets afternoon sun. I could move it to a shadier spot but the camera angle wouldn’t be nearly as helpful. Has anyone dealt with this?

    1. No Tribble At All*

      Can you put some kind of shade over the camera? I’m picturing a baseball cap or a space blanket to reflect heat away. Or at least paint the housing white.

  39. MintyFresh*

    How do you remodel the interior of your home when you have no taste? As in, you love almost every style?! Ranch style kitchen, yes. All white with stainless steel industrial style kitchen, yes. Dark wood and black appliances, yes. I am driving myself crazy not being able to pick anything because I like almost everything. Is there a formula I’m missing? I’m set to remodel the whole interior and I’m exhausted already. Also do you have any favourite websites for inspiration? Although more options might not be what I need. House is a 1960s one-off that’s a blank canvas.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’m not an “optimizer” in my life generally, and it sounds like you will be happy with whatever looks nice (a “satisficer”) If you’re genuinely happy with whatever, I say go for practical options; whatever is affordable, as timeless as possible, and maybe trending towards neutral/understated, to maximize resale value. You can always add pops of color/personality with accessories, like wall art or counter decor. Maybe layers of white with a lot of natural textures. If you have a designer they should be able to help you if you say “affordable white texture” – they can take it from there, and you’ll be happy because you’re happy with anything that looks nice!

      1. Lissajous*

        This is kind of how I did it (still in the middle of the actual works). I don’t like every style, but I do like quite a few. To keep the budget down, I needed something that would work with the bog-standard late 1970s build of the house, including all the dark brown trim (so, black lights/handles, as good as they can look, not at option). And also minimise layout change, especially plumbing.

        For me, once I figured out one thing (tiles in my case), the rest followed from that. When nothing is selected, too much is in flux. I found a lovely dark blue tile for the kitchen splash back – and my garden walls are dark blue as weep as the guttering and whatnot, so that will tie in with the outside but not by using green – so then it was easy to go white cupboards. The dark tile will make the wall seem further away, the white cupboards will help reflect light around.
        I like gold-tone hardware, especially against blues, and cupboard handles are many and also get dirty so: simple profile that’s easy to clean, effective as a handle, and not too far up the price list, from the main handle supplier where I am.
        Laundry tile is a different one to the kitchen, but still uses the a dark blue (laundry is off the kitchen). Has a nice blue and white pattern.

        So once I picked one thing (the kitchen splash tile), it was so much easier to figure out the rest.

        Also I did spend more than 12 months picking things, from hiring layout, getting quotes etc. A good chunk of the first 3 was on weekend going “right, which light industrial area can I go to today? What light, tile, appliance, and bathroom shops are there?” And then taking a photo of anything that caught my eye, plus a photo of the details.
        Doing this confirmed that I am a sucker for teals (so many pretty teal tiles), but the dark blue fits so much better with my house as it is. And it gave me a really good idea of price range and what was sensible.

    2. Unkempt Flatware*

      Why not do it all?! If something looks french country and makes you smile, get it! If you put it next to a modern sleek piece, cool! Do you prefer uniformity or would you consider going wild?

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        Personal eclectic is my style! I love the items I’ve scavenged from my parents’ and aunts’ houses, and it’s so nice to come across an old picture and see my coffee table or other piece in my late family member’s house. A lot of items I’ve bought are very basic utilitarian of no particular style, and I add personal touches, like the baskets I’ve accumulated over the years on top of bookcases, or fun things I’ve picked up on vacations. Personally, I’d feel uncomfortable in a house where the furnishings and decor were picked out by someone else, or selected to fit a particular style.

    3. Generic Name*

      What is the architectural style of your house now? If it has a recognizable style (technically, all houses have a style, but there are styles-like colonial or craftsmen- that most people know about and are distinctive, versus “split level ranch” that people don’t think of as a style), you could lean into that. Another option is to just choose what is popular now. I know people will poo pooh intentionally following trends, but literally every remodel will eventually look dated, even if you tried to be timeless.

      1. RagingADHD*

        This. The height of the ceilings, size and placement of the windows, layout of the kitchen, etc, are all going to make some decor styles work better than others. When you look at photos, be sure to consider how the fixed features of the room compare to yours.

      2. Reba*

        Agree, choosing a style that harmonizes with the house is a good place to start!

        Minty it sounds like you need some criteria beyond “like/dislike” — you need to set some other parameters, even if you pick some sorta arbitrary ones to start. So instead of “do I like it” you can answer “is it mid-century Y/N” “does it go with my color scheme of navy, soft green, and brass accents Y/N” and that should take you somewhere that you can actually respond to and refine the design.

        I recommend the Design Rules posts on Emily Henderson’s website.

        You can also hire an interior designer or decorator. You can hire someone to give you some suggestions, or to pick literally every paint color and switchplate.

    4. Aphrodite*

      I’m like you. I love so many styles and designs. (Apartment Therapy’s tours almost always bring out the “but I love it all!” syndrome as much and maybe more as my old home decor magazines.). But I long ago realized that loving all of them doesn’t mean they will work for me on more than short-term basis. In other words, something can excite me but I already know it wouldn’t provide the calm oasis and special art I need to center myself, to be, essentially, “at home” with my true self. For me, that tends a bit toward minimalism, a palate of green (especially emerald) and white, some but not too many books, no clutter, one or at most two galleries, simple and clean. So while I find myself always drawn to homes that are filled (!) I enjoy the pictures and move on. My home works for me.

      I wouldn’t say there is a formula. More that you should take your time, buy very carefully (and if you like them, scour flea markets, thrift stores, consignment stores and other secondhand places), and only buy or gather individual things you love. Think outside the box when coming across them too. Is it an item that can be used in a very different way that speaks to you? You can combine styles; this will always work as long as each piece is something you love individually.

      If you can afford it, you might hire an interior designer (or even an interior decorator). You can read the websites I list below. Post on them and ask questions. Read their archives. Perhaps subscribe to various magazines, though in my opinion almost all of them have taken major nosedives in the last several years, becoming sad replicas of what they once were; House Beautiful is the one that has lost so much of what it was. But I still subscribe.

      Laurel Bern blog (particularly good): https://laurelberninteriors.com/interior-design-blog/
      Houzz (read but do not buy from here): https://www.houzz.com/
      Apartment Therapy: https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/
      DigsDigs: https://www.digsdigs.com/
      Shelterness: https://www.shelterness.com/
      Maison de Cinq: https://maisondecinq.com/
      Houzz post on learning: https://www.houzz.com/discussions/5348619/book-recommendation-to-learn-the-basics-of-interior-design#n=21

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Pick a theme and/or a color scheme and then go crazy within those boundaries? My overriding theme is cheerful, comfortable and makes me happy. This has resulted in a Barbie’s coastal bordello decorating scheme, but I have no regrets. Magenta everywhere, lots of sparkly and shiny things and tons of sheepskin and overstuffed upholstery, with ivory and charcoal tones and seagrass accents to keep the magenta from overwhelming everything. I didn’t want it to look like the Madonna Inn! If you want an example of what it looks like if you do everything all at once, the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo is a great example.

    6. LNLN*

      I used to think my style and taste was all over the map until I used Pinterest to track ideas for my kitchen remodel. There was a certain amount of consistency that became obvious when I looked at my kitchen remodel board. Maybe a tool like Pinterest would help you, too.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      I would start with one thing (a great piece of furniture, a piece of art, tiling, flooring, curtains) that you really want to go shopping for, and then use that piece as inspiration for the rest.

    8. Kathenus*

      Reinforcing what most others are saying – just go with what you like – don’t worry about a ‘style’. I call my aesthetic – ‘nothing matches so everything matches’ – I just get stuff I like and it works together for me. Since I’m the one living here, that’s all that I need.

    9. SB*

      It only matters that you love it so do what makes you happy, even if it is an eclectic mish mash of differing styles.

  40. IrishEm*

    I finally have the granny flat floored and painted and ready for my friend to move in when her visa gets approved. Yay!

    I have very little furniture and am trying to think of the basics that a renter in a tiny space will need. I have bookshelves, a desk and office chair, and a wardrobe in place already, and am getting a chest of drawers and a bedside locker from my own old furniture.
    I know I need to get a bed, do I go super firm, medium or soft for the mattress? Is there anything else I’ve missed? Any advice is greatly appreciated.

    1. SofiaDeo*

      I think super firm, because you can always put on a softer mattress topper. It’s hard to firm up a “too soft” mattress.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        My dad put a sheet of plywood between the mattress and box spring for more support.

        It sort of worked, but that was the guest room, not anyone’s every night sleeping place.

    2. WellRed*

      Medium mattered. Signed: person with a mattress topper on a firm mattress whose hip hurts every morning now.

    3. Yet Another Unemployed Librarian*

      Kitchen table and chairs? A soft chair to sit in? If there is any space, I don’t know how much room you have left. Sounds like a good start!

    4. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      For a tiny space, see if you can find a bed with built-in storage drawers.

  41. quitting DIY*

    Reposting after nesting fail:

    Where are people finding handyman-type household workers these days? I’ve heard Angie’s List is bad now, I know Yelp is a mess, and I’m not on Facebook. TaskRabbit?

    I have a handful of projects that aren’t big enough to interest a general contractor. A few rooms to paint, two windows to replace, a bit of drywall repair, etc. (I planned to do it all myself, but I just can’t find the time, so now I’m ready to throw money at it.)

    1. Girasol*

      Around here there’s a lot of chat in NextDoor about handymen and such service providers.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Ditto this. I’ve had good results putting “handyman” in the search field to bring up recommendations. Much better results than when I’ve posted asking about handymen—every single one that responded “hey, I’m one” ghosted when I contacted them.

        Now, if you’re in Tampa, quitting DIY, hit me up ‘cause I can highly recommend a fellow I found just this way ;-)

    2. SofiaDeo*

      I’ve been seeing ads for Thumbtack but haven’t tried it. I used to get good people on Care dot com but post pandemic no one has worked out. I’ve tried Nextdoor but, it seems in my city I have to go through 12-15 failures until I find someone decent. As well as, be aware of scammers/people I think are pretending to be contractors or whatnot, and are really IMO just scoping the place out for a burglary. My city has had crazy growth and crime is skyrocketing. Numerous ghosts for initial appointments, and people never getting back with estimates.

      1. katopotato*

        I’ve used Thumbtack! Once to hire someone to fix our fence, once just to get quotes for fixing our garage door. I was satisfied with the experience of both— nice to have multiple options for quotes without much hassle, and the work completed was good. I’m in a moderate/large city though, so the experience may not translate to a smaller town.

    3. Ochre*

      In my medium-size city I read the Google reviews for places/businesses I’m interested in, and just did the same to hire a contractor for an outdoor project (the project hasn’t started yet, so no results to report). I realize the reviews could be fake but, I dunno, they didn’t seem fake? Especially if they seemed realistic (“we had a delay but the contractor made good” versus “the contractor laid golden eggs and also did all the work in 1 day for absolute free”).

      If you try someone out, maybe start with the drywall/paint work before letting them replace windows (ie: cut holes in your exterior)?

      People around here also ask on Facebook for recommendations from their friends.

    4. Retired Accountant*

      Often hardware stores offer handyman services. They run expensive but may meet your needs.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        The hardware store where I bought my water heater referred me to an independent installer. Same thing with my last screen door, at a different store.

        I’d rather pay a little more, and not go with somebody’s cousin’s brother-in-law.

        We’ve been having trouble with scammers on the Nextdoor here.

    5. HCTZ*

      I’ve used Thumbtack many times over the years and have found great people. Past work incl. blind installations, one off landscaping work, and hanging items which is my least fave thing to do. Literally just used the site last week to find someone to hang mirrors and art in my new apartment. Highly recommend!

    6. ThatGirl*

      After some searching I’ve been using our local Ace Handyman service. I like that it’s both local and backed by a big name, and the two guys I’ve seen have been very friendly and helpful. Also had the owner come out one evening free of charge to fix a small thing, which earned them some loyalty.

    7. KatStat*

      I have had some luck talking to a real estate agent and asking for their recommendations on handymen. I used one my agent suggested when I was moving and he did a good job. But a friend just asked another neighbor who is an agent for recommendations even though she is not planning to sell any time soon and got several names along and was told to say the agent had given their number to her.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      If your city/area has a reddit, go there. You probably don’t need an account to see it. You don’t need to post to ask. Search for threads from other people asking and use those responses.

  42. Trixie*

    I’m looking at removable wallpapers and any recommendations. The patterns and options available are amazing but I’m wary of what is touted as “removable” but may damage exteriors or walls of a rental. Similar, the faux backsplashes and such that can be added to kitchens and such. They seem ideal for adding a fun element but also maybe of protecting the walls around cooking areas.

    1. L. Ron Jeremy*

      Are these a specific type of removable wallpaper? I thought that all wallpaper was removable.

      1. Trixie*

        This would be temporary peel and stick wallpaper, versus traditional wallpaper. (Water to adhere.) Or maybe wallpapers are all moving to stick and peel?

        Between peel and stick (to later be removed), this is an appealing option for rentals. Some bit of color/design to hide the beige backgrounds.

      2. sswj*

        Yes, you can remove it without the hassle of chemicals, steaming, scraping etc. And the good kind stays put well and then comes off without damage to the surface below – great for renters!

        It’s essentially like contact paper, but better finish/pattern/texture.

        I only know because I too have been looking, I just haven’t dived in on it yet.

    2. Enough*

      Have not used but Apartment Therapy has an article and related ones at the end of it. 6 things nobody tells you about removable wallpaper.

      1. Trixie*

        Thank you, I’m checking out their sites now. I started with Etsy, Chelsea from Financial Diet, and Home Depot, Target, etc. Depending on final new rental, it may include good options for accent wall, fireplace surround, back of a door, and a small built in room-divider with column to ceiling. These could all be fun options for removable wall paper.

    3. Elf*

      I just recently saw someone demonstrate how you can make any wallpaper into removable wallpaper: make a grid of painter’s tape on the wall and then affix the wallpaper to the tape

    4. Kathenus*

      I’ve gotten photo murals for full walls in two rooms, and for a backsplash along my kitchen back wall – all were peel and stick type wallpaper, which I was able to remove with no residue, and which was very easy to put up by myself. I used more than one vendor, the latest was Limitless Walls, but I picked the vendor by who had the photo that spoke to me best at that time – they are easy, not crazy expensive, and even after years I still absolutely love them.

  43. Buggy Crispino*

    When do y’all stop displaying photos of a pet that’s no longer with you? My little doggo passed away about 2 months ago and I realize I have a bunch of pics of him around. For the pictures I have at home, I’m keeping them out because they make me smile. But what about other photos? I did take him off my work laptop wallpaper, but he’s still on my phone, iPad, and even my most used credit card has his pic. These sometimes get an “aww, how cute” response and sometimes sparks a conversation. I’m thinking I should probably change those because I’m now at a point of lying when people ask about him, “yeah, he’s my spoiled baby,” etc. Am I hanging on too long?

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Never is my answer. I keep my beloved framed around the house and on my cell phone. Eventually you’ll be able to answer without feeling in pain.

    2. RagingADHD*

      When they aren’t making you feel good. Why would you lie? You could say he was such a good dog and you miss him.

      Or if the conversations don’t make you feel good / you don’t want to have them, you can of course take them off if you want. There are no right or wrong answers here.

    3. Megan C.*

      Keep them as long as you want! There are no rules! If it makes you uncomfortable to have people ask about him because you aren’t ready to talk about his passing, then I support removing photos that other people can see (your phone, your desk at work.) Otherwise, keep them as long as you want.

    4. sswj*

      My best beloved cat is my phone wallpaper and my desktop background. He died 4 years ago and I have no plans to change the pictures. I still love him, and love to see his face, though the ache for his presence is mostly gone now.

    5. Liminality*

      First, I’m so sorry that your little doggo isn’t around for hugs and cuddles right now. :( I’m glad that seeing pictures of him can make you smile.
      You are absolutely not hanging on too long. He was a big part of your life and cruising the rainbow bridge doesn’t change that.
      If it makes you more comfortable to avoid speaking of him in past tense then that is a choice you can make. If you’re only doing it to avoid making things awkward for other people, well, anyone who has ever loved a creature will sympathize with your loss. And they will also, usually, follow your lead so you can set the tone by how you describe your pup. “Yeah, I miss him, he’s my spoiled baby. I love this picture of him, it makes me smile.”
      (I don’t know if it helps, but I said goodbye to my beloved kitty two years ago and some of my social media profile pics are still of him and me together. To risk repeating myself: there is No timeline.)

    6. Random Bystander*

      I honestly do not think there are any rules. I still have a picture of one of the cats that was my Mom’s cats (he was long haired gray, and gorgeous … he showed up on the back deck and refused to come in until he met the fan belt of a car and came inside to recover and was happy to stay indoors thereafter). He’s been gone for over 30 years now, but his picture still graces one of my walls (I named him–Tolya). It’s kind of like the pictures I have of my grandparents on display (passed away in 2004 and 2008)–important in my life, so the pictures stay up. If the pictures didn’t give you joy, to some degree, then it’s time to take them down, but if they do give you joy–display them.

      For the “aww, how cute” responses to more public images (like on a credit card/device screens), I’d just go with agreeing, and diverting to other topics.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I haven’t taken down any pictures of my Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond, she’s still all over the place along with the (formerly Junior) Ambassador. I have added pictures of the Intern to my puppy walls.

      I figure as long as I’m still finding her fur in the corners, her picture should stay up. Heh. It’s been two years since she crossed the bridge and I still find new tumbleweeds every time I vacuum.

    8. jasmine tea*

      We got formal portraits taken of our first two cats, with professional backdrops in a studio. They are in fancy matted frames hanging in our living room. They died over a decade ago.

      (Context: it started out tongue-in-cheek, as a response to an overbearing baby-crazed relative who was rude and intrusive about our decision to be childfree. But it ended up being a ton of fun because despite being rescues they were retired breeding queens, so they were used to being bathed, blow dried, and fussed over. They were incredibly photogenic, and fully aware of it.)

      My melodramatic nonsense aside, what are photos for, if not to remember loved ones and times we miss?

    9. Samwise*

      I have pix up of my cat who passed 25 years ago and the cat who passed 15 years ago. Also a pic of my sweet pupper from high school 40+ years ago. You should keep pix up as long as it soothes your heart.

      Big hugs. It’s so hard when our pets die.

      Also, it’s ok to tell folks your pup died recently. No need to pretend unless you don’t want to talk about it.

    10. MissCoco*

      Never for me. I have a beloved and departed guinea pig as my iPad and phone lock screens, and when people comment on his cuteness, I just fib like you for small talk with people who I won’t see regularly.
      For someone who is actually in my life regularly where it would feel like a lie to do that, I use an upbeat and light tone and say something like “he actually passed away last year, but I love this photo of him, isn’t his little face so cute?” I’ve noticed that by ending with a question I can keep expressions of sympathy to a brief “I’m sorry” and the conversation doesn’t end with the asker feeling bad for bringing up the question.

    11. Just here for the scripts*

      My home is filled with pictures of many who are no longer with us—my parents, hubby’s parents, past pets, both of our grandparents. It’s also filled with pictures of folks still here—both the two-legged and the 4-legged variety. My theory? Keep pictures up for as long as they make you feel good/bring you comfort.

    12. ThatGirl*

      My dog died 18 months ago and I’m not taking his pictures down anytime soon. In fact I’m getting a tattoo in memory/honor of him at the end of the month.

    13. Snell*

      Really, don’t worry about “hanging on ‘too long.'” If keeping the photos as wallpapers on your devices improves your life, I encourage you to continue doing so. Also, if you can bring yourself to do so, it’s completely fine to not lie if the conversation progresses to that point. I’m also in your situation, in that I recently said my last goodbyes to my girl, not too long after your boy, actually. Whenever I get to talking with someone about her, I mention her passing if the conversation ends up there. So far, just as I have been fortunate enough as yet to only meet people who respect my “sorry, he’s not good with small children” about another dog, everyone has been gracious/expressed sympathetic condolences, which should tell you that if anyone gives you trouble about it for whatever reason, they’re the anomalous jerk.

      My aunt still has photos of dogs who have been gone for 9+ years in public view. I’ve had multiple teachers who had pics of then-deceased pets as screensavers, and perhaps unsurprisingly, I’ve seen the like often at the vet. In the last two examples, I found out the animals were no longer living by asking about something that interested me (cute animal pics!!), in the same types of exchanges that you’re having now. For my part, I didn’t think they were doing anything odd or out of place.

    14. Cat's Paw for Cats*

      There is no external rule of etiquette on how long to keep late pets’ photos. This is entirely your choice and I doubt that anyone would judge you harshly for keeping your late pets’ photos indefinitely if that’s your wish. On the off chance they did, they would by definition be the kind of people whose opinions should not concern you at all.

    15. Hotdog not dog*

      Never. Among my collection is a photo of 3 year old me playing in the sprinkler with my dog. It’s a 50 year old picture at this point. She was the first of many Best Dogs (and cats, horses, reptiles, rodents, and birds) Ever.

    16. Buggy Crispino*

      Thank you all for your thoughts and comments on this. I think maybe I was overthinking what to say that wouldn’t make people feel bad for asking about him. For some reason I’ve had this scenario in my head that someone would say something nice and my poor brain would only be able to squeak out something awkward about his death!

    17. KR*

      My dog who died in late 2022 is still my phone background. No shame. Do it whenever you’re ready but don’t feel like you have to change it if it makes you happy to see him.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      I have a bulletin board that is in line of sight right now that, among other things, has two pictures of dogs, both black Labs. One was my dad’s dog who died in 1991, the other was my previous dog who died in 2015. So, no rules.

    19. PoolLounger*

      Still have photos up years later. I still love them and want to keep seeing them and thinking about them.

  44. The Shenanigans*

    I am looking for good recommendations on true crime docuseries or documentaries. My favorites are A Crime To Remember and Cold Justice. I’m especially interested in the Irish, Italian, and Russian mobs in the USA, the Yakuza in Japan, and the IRA in Ireland/Northern Ireland/England. But I’ll take a look at anything good!

    1. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t know whether or not ye could access Gunplot outside Ireland. It’s about Irish politicians (one of whom would later become Taoiseach(prime minister)) accused of essentially gunrunning for the I.R.A.

      1. The Shenanigans*

        I can get the podcast, and with a VPN, I am sure I can get the documentary somewhere. Thanks!

    2. Cormorannt*

      “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s about Northern Ireland during The Troubles and the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville. He’s a very good writer.

  45. Spinning in my chair*

    Here’s a long shot – I have a migraine where my eyes are just in major pain and don’t want to be open. But I really really really want to read my books! Anyone been successful in fixing the eye pain part? (I can’t do audio books – the joy of reading comes from physical ones. Plus the books I’ve got on deck have diagrams and pictures).

    I am filled with more inspiration and motivation than I have had in months. I seriously don’t remember the last time I tried to open a book despite “reader” being part of my identity. I don’t want to lose this vibe! I finally got my brain on board with doing something!!! Unfortunate timing for my meds to have a supply chain issue.

    I’m debating trying out my building’s pool? Cool water might be nice – bright sunlight sounds awful – changing clothes feels ick. In the past I’ve tried plunging my face into a bowl of ice water which helps for ~5min.

    The advice I got on my ADD helped last time I posted, hoping lightning strikes twice

    1. SuprisinglyADHD*

      I hate when migraine gets pain but leaves my head clear so I’m bored out of my mind. I have had limited success by using apps to dim and red-shift my phone screen, and shifting the websites/apps I’m reading on to “night mode” (white text on a black background). When I recover, I can barely even see the screen but till then my super-sensitivity to light makes it work.

        1. Charitable Donations*

          Thanks….oops! I was trying to read a whole lot of AAM in a tiny bit of time. And not doing it well, LoL.

    2. CanadaGoose*

      A more ongoing cold sensation could be helpful. Try ice packs at your temples and/or wrapped around the back and sides of your neck.when I had migraines in the winter, I’d drink cold diet coke (caffeine also constricts blood vessels) and go stand on my balcony for a cold blast.

      If you can get print books on your phone, tablet, or other device eg Kindle, I second the suggestion to use night mode, even in the middle of the day. You’ll probably want diffuse light – that is, a bunch of lamps on but shaded or pointed at white walls so they don’t glare at you but also the contrast in the room is less.

    3. Spinning in my chair*

      The pool attempt helped! I was only in there for 5min before I heard thunder, but hey, I’ll take what I can get.

      I read last night for the first time in several months. Maybe even a year. And did a craft project that has been on hold for 3yrs!

      Still open to suggestions for the future! This tends to be an ongoing issue for me. I’m so happy at my good evening yesterday that I’m a little teary. Felt like myself for the first time in ages yesterday.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        If cold water helps, how about a cold shower? Or if the pool really helps, just plan on going as often as possible. We practically lived at the neighborhood pool when I was a kid. If it helps your migraines, maybe you should too.

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

          Or, like a cool bath with a neck-supportive bath pillow?

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

      If the cold helps, a physical therapist suggested to me once that I get one of those face rollers (they can be jade or other semi-precious stones, but they also make stainless steel ones) and put it in the fridge or freezer and then use it to massage all the little muscles around the face, jaw, temples, behind the ears, back of the neck, etc. I often have a ton of facial/scalp/neck muscle tension associated with my migraines, so if you do too, this may be a way to tackle the problem on 2 fronts.

  46. Emily Elizabeth*

    I know this has probably been asked before in various capacities, but favorite light/not complex media for being sick in bed? After all these years I finally have tested positive for COVID for the first time and on top of quarantining, am feeling exhausted and not even into my usual downtime hobbies. I have almost all the streaming platforms and like reality TV, not too heavy documentaries, sitcoms, comedy movies, etc, but am open to anything!

      1. CanadaGoose*

        Yes, I second this. It’s a British comedy competition, for anyone unfamiliar. And full episodes of up to 15 seasons are available free on YouTube.

    1. RagingADHD*

      If you have Netflix, Extraordinary Attorney Woo has a heartfelt but light vibe. Very wholesome.

    2. Indolent Libertine*

      I’ve been very absorbed in Great British Baking Show on Netflix while recovering from joint replacement surgery. There’s something very soothing about it.

      1. Jill Swinburne*

        The Great British Sewing Bee or the Pottery Throw Down are also great like that.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          There’s also Best Home Cook with Mary Berry – I watched both seasons while flying recently and loved it.

    3. Zebydeb*

      It’s a very tiring virus, my sympathy. When I had Covid I watched about half a season of Bridgerton, and then as I started to feel better, instantly lost interest in it. Never have watched the rest! It’s historical romance.
      I also listened to a lot of audio drama, because you don’t even have to sit up in bed for that. If you are in the UK, then BBC Sounds has a revolving selection, always including adaptations of some favourite classic and mystery novels. Otherwise, there are a lot of things issued as podcasts. Life With Leo(h) is a fun, light example.

    4. beep beep*

      It’s a little niche, but Collegehumor created their own streaming service (Dropout) which has a bunch of original comedy shows. Start with Game Changer imo, then Make Some Noise, and there are various other spinoffs as well as other content. GC is just my favorite.

    5. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      This might be a good time to reread, or rewatch, books and TV shows you liked in the past.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Have a late 90s marathon – Clueless, 10 Things I Hate About You, early Leonardo DiCaprio.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      1) The Great British Bakeoff.
      2) If you can find it, The Repair Shop is in a similar vein–a celebration of craft and doing something really well because the end result is satisfying, rather than because it’s the most efficient and low cost possible way to achieve a scone or end table.
      3) Antarctica: A Year on Ice is a documentary about spending the winter at the north pole. All sorts of fascinating new things to learn. (Like, they have a full fire department and multiple shifts of 911 operators, because you really, really don’t want the research station to burn down.)
      4) On Peacock, the current season of Top Chef is global champions and really good.
      5) For comedy movies I will recommend The Mitchells vs The Machines, a fun animated family movie recommended to me here on the basis that the mom does not die.

    8. Annie Edison*

      Have you seen Jury Duty on Amazon’s Freevee? It is a delightful little gem of a reality show that follows a jury through a court case, except that everyone involved is actually an improv actor, with the exception of one regular dude who thinks he’s in a documentary. It’s hilarious and ends on quite a heartwarming note.

      Ted Lasso is also a joy, and in my opinion, always worth a rewatch even if you’ve seen it before

    9. I take tea*

      I’m sorry, it’s an exhausting virus. I ended up scrolling shorts on YouTube, because my attention span was shot… That said, I really, really liked The Good Place, it is fun without being unkind and I like the theme of “what is a good person”. The episodes are pretty short, around twenty minutes.

    10. the cat's ass*

      Dang! Rest up and i hope you get better quickly. I had it last year and felt like an indoor cat-all i did was nap. In between naps, i watched Ted Lasso and Extraordinary Attorney Woo, and that was about it.

    11. Vombatus ursinus*

      Oh no, I hope you have a swift recovery!

      I’ve recently been really enjoying The Makanai on Netflix — about two teenage best friends who move from (I think?) northern Japan to Kyoto to apprentice as maiko (trainee geishas). One of them turns out not to be very good at the traditional maiko skills but she is hired to stay on at the maiko house as a cook. It’s a bit hard to even describe what the plot is beyond that but it just feels like a gentle warm blanket of a show with lots of beautiful food and costumes and architecture to look at!

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

      I definitely found with covid my ability to focus was shot, and A Black Lady Sketch show has been a real joy to binge whenever I’m needing something unserious but excellently done.

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

      YouTube has a lot of free old sitcoms from the 1970s that are well written, so they’re funny even if you have to close your eyes and just listen — maybe try the Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda, Barney Miller.

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

        P.S. Rest well and feel better! Good job taking care of yourself — I’ve read that resting a LOT can improve outcomes.

    14. Qwerty*

      – British Bake Show was my go to. Though I starting craving fresh baked bread really really bad.
      – Overly dramatic young adult shows like the stuff CW makes (Gossip Girl, Flash, Super Girl). Being a bit out of it makes the drama amusing rather than grating and I could keep my eyes closed for half the time
      – Down to Earth – Docuseries about being more climate conscious in different countries. Hosts are a vegan guru style guy who really cares paired with a confused Zach Efron who is along for the ride
      – Are You the One – old MTV dating show, not sure which streaming platform it currently lives on. 10 guys + 10 guys have to figure who their perfect match is and consistently sabatoge themselves.
      – Disney movies! I got caught up on the new ones last time I was sick and am now very into the songs from Frozen 2

  47. Bluebell*

    Since there’s not much about travel yet today, anyone want to tell me about Vermont? Planning to spend a few days in Burlington in early July. Good food, culture, a little outdoorsy-ness and maybe a day spa visit. The farthest up I’ve ever been in VT is the St Gaudens historical site. Thanks!!

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      It’s been a few years…and we were there for a conference but there was a day of touring by bus. Definitely try a Maple Creemee (maple syrup infused soft serve ice cream). Its A Thing. You can tour Ben and Jerry’s. Have a crabcake sandwich. Tour a cider mill. Tour a winery and have lunch there, and some wine (or eiswein). (Haha, the conference had NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOD.) The Shelburne museum. Antiquing. Maybe a boat trip on Lake Champlain?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We went to VT last July. I liked Burlington (it’s beautifully situated) but I found it a bit lacking, which could have been because all of the restaurants were totally understaffed and we had a hard time getting tables at any place we wanted to try. That was just downtown, not sure about surrounding areas. There were a couple of restaurants I had looked into before the trip but they were closed on the nights we were there (Sunday and Monday, I think). We had great beer, though, if that interests you at all. We really enjoyed Foam, which is close to the lake, and Burlington Beer Company (I actually thought the food at BBC was quite excellent). Switchback Brewing was probably our favorite for beer.

      We stayed in a hotel in South Burlington that was undergoing renovations and was not good– way too expensive for what it was– and if I did it again I would have splurged for a downtown hotel (we prefer hotels to AirBnBs when we’re traveling with our dog, ymmv). My impression is that the city is very vibrant on weekends in the summer and probably comes to life during the school year. We spent Sunday downtown and liked it a lot, then the weekdays felt very… flat.

      Our favorite parts of VT were off the beaten path. We drove there so just kind of hit the road, and it’s a really beautiful part of the country.

      1. Bluebell*

        Thanks! We will actually be there Weds-Friday, and are staying in an Airbnb in Winooski. I definitely like tasting beer flights and going on the Lake is probably on our list.

    3. Creemees are delicious!*

      I love Vermont, although haven’t spent a lot of time in Burlington. I second the Creemee recommendation, and suggest Als French Frys for burgers/fries/a creemee dessert. The Ben and Jerry’s Tour is fun, as is going to check out the Cabot Creamery. Definitely get apple cider donuts if those aren’t a thing where you live.
      Walking along Lake Champlain is really nice.
      Sorry most of my recommendations are food; that’s my definite favorite part of travel!

    4. Chaordic One*

      Is it very far to Stowe? Is the Von Trapp family lodge worth a look? What about the Vermont Country Store?

    5. TPS reporter*

      definitely go to some local coffee shops, there are a lot to choose from.

      and the hiking is beautiful. I use the AllTrails app.

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

      If you’re there over the weekend, definitely go to the amazing farmers market (Sat morning on Pine St) and plan to go both early and hungry, because there are a ton of great food vendors.

      Another fantastic breakfast/brunch option is August First on Champlain St. It’s popular and will get busy on weekends, but usually the line moves fast and it’s WORTH IT. The grilled biscuit sounds like a simple little thing, but it’s big enough to split if you’re unsure, and literally every time I’ve gone there with someone, after they tried it once we then had to go back to the counter to order one to go.

      1. Bluebell*

        Mmm – I’m always up for a good biscuit. We will be there during the week, but August first looks like it’s open 7 days a week.

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

      It’s been a while, but I found downtown Montpelier pretty charming!

    8. FashionablyEvil*

      Highly recommend the Shelburne Museum which is about 15-20 minutes out of town. It’s the collection of a Gilded Age heiress who collected just about everything (paintings, a lighthouse, a Lake Champlain ferry, this amazing collection of circus animal figures, etc.) Beautiful grounds to walk around and we happened to be there on a Friday when they had live music, food trucks, special lectures, etc.

  48. Can't Sit Still*

    Yesterday, I DNF’d a book at 91%. Normally, at 91%, I would keep going, but the characters in this “romance” were such loathsome human beings that I didn’t want to know what happened next. I do know that, IRL, these two would have an epic divorce in their future, because both characters just oozed contempt for one another.

    I love romance novels, but I’m not sure if writing is getting worse (admittedly, I read a lot on KU, just because neither the library nor my bank account can keep up with my 2-3 book a day habit) or if I’m getting older and have a lower tolerance for authors working out their relationship issues and trauma in romance novels.

    Is this just me or is anyone else feeling this way in either romance or another genre?

    1. Maryn*

      It sounds to me like you’re opting for self-published authors whose skills at creating likeable characters the romance reader wants to see happy are not well developed, even if they write well. You could be right, that they’re working out their issues in the Mary Sue way, making themselves one of the characters.

      While there are some amazing authors self-publishing, the absence of any gatekeeping means that authors who would not have made the cut at a trade publisher have their books out there alongside everyone else’s. Romance is among the genres that’s self-publishing in astonishing numbers–and frankly, some of those books were nowhere near ready.

      So please, no guilt over not finishing a book that just isn’t working for you. Note the author’s name to avoid future releases, and move on to a better read.

      1. Can't Sit Still*

        As luck would have it, I found a decent book after I posted this! I do read quite a few self-published authors, but I only purchase from the ones who have a proven track record.

        Some of my disappointment is previous that autobuy authors have started writing/publishing more often or cowriting with a team, and their writing has deteriorated. However, in at least one case, the writing quality fell off after a Covid infection, and gets progressively worse after each successive infection. It’s very sad and I hope it’s temporary. Of course, people who think they are fine after a Covid infection but are demonstrably NOT fine are a whole other post.

    2. Decidedly Me*

      Romance books are a hot business (no pun intended) and Amazon makes it very easy to self publish, so it’s not surprising that a lot of it isn’t high quality. ChatGPT and the like will make the issue worse.

    3. Seahorse*

      Yup, my will to finish books has dropped off in the last few years. I used to tear through any fantasy book I could find, but not so much now. It started with grad school, then I didn’t have the focus or mental energy in 2020, and now it just hasn’t come back. I really have to be into something (of any genre) to complete it.

      There’s a lot of bad fantasy out there, and so, so many books set in some unoriginal variation of feudal England + magic. Add in characters making predictably bad or immature decisions, and I’m out.

    4. Silence*

      Some of it is that we get surer of our taste as we get older and less likely to spend reducing leisure time on things we find not to our taste. Also increased experience means you recognise how things turn out in real life when you may not have when younger.

      Have you looked at Libby/overdrive for borrowing ebooks?

  49. Bookstore wanted*

    Are there any alternatives to Book Depository? I live in a country where Amazon isn’t an option and the only booksellers are chains with a really high markup for foreign books.
    I miss being able to buy books and am soon running out of reading materials. I want physical books, not a Kindle or similar.

    1. yourleague*

      Try Paperbackswap – you can get gently used books for a credit (about $4 US), and you don’t have to give away your old stuff if you don’t want to – you can buy credits as well as earning them.

    2. GoryDetails*

      I like BetterWorldBooks; I’m in the US, but sometimes I’ve used them to mail secondhand books directly to people in Canada; they do charge more for some international destinations than others, but the net cost is significantly lower than if I had to post the books myself. [The condition of the books varies, but in general I’ve been pretty happy with them.]

  50. Invisible fish*

    Best website resources when you were planning a remodel of your kitchen?

    Best website resources when you were prioritizing home repairs and updates?

    1. Elle*

      I always look at Houzz when we’re redoing a room. There’s a lot of great ideas on there and you can customize the search to get what you’re looking for.

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Prioritizing:
      1. Things actively causing damage or safety issues
      2. Things which will cause damage
      3. Things which add functionality.
      4. Things which make it pretty.

      Any individual project can hit multiple categories. And you should consider the logical order of things. Don’t fix the water damaged ceiling until after you’ve fixed the leaking roof.

  51. Father's Day gifts*

    Anyone else Father’s Day shopping for a miserable curmudgeon? o_o

    Trying to keep the peace and play nice, but hot damn, this gets harder every year.

    1. Filosofickle*

      My curmudgeon doesn’t want/expect Father’s Day gifts (he’s curmudgeonly about holidays too) so that helps! Try to let yourself off the hook. It doesn’t have to be awesome, you don’t owe that. What’s a minimum thing you can do?

    2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      Restaurant gift card to somewhere local? Or if he’s a reclusive curmudgeon, order delivery on Father’s Day as your gift.

    3. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If he expressed appreciation for the last couple of years of your FD gifts, then do something similar this year. If not (he grumbled/ never acknowledged/ made you feel bad), then send him a cheery card and call it a day bc it’s a pointless endeavor. Chasing down gifts for unpleasant and unappreciative people is a total waste of your time, money, energy, mood, and thinking capacity.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      I’m lucky to get a card from my son on Father’s Day, but this year he’s promised to come to the house and cook steaks. Really looking forward to it.

    5. Anono-me*

      Contigo no spill* insulated mug. It is useful and a clever gadget, it is $20 +/-; plus if he doesn’t like it, you can take it back and behave a great mug.

      *Contigo makes lots of different types of mugs, but the no spill ones are my absolute favorites.

    6. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      At some point I just kind of embraced the suck and realized that he was probably not going to particularly appreciate whatever I got him, so it was not a good use of my energy to try and find something amazing.

      What card do I get him? Well, he’s going to recycle it as soon as I leave (or before, if he needs to walk past the recycling anyway while I’m there), so it’ll be from Dollar Tree. I will spend no more than 5 minutes looking at possible cards and will mostly pick one that is not about an activity that he actively avoids, such as fishing, boating, or organized religion, in favor of one that is about either an activity he actually does do or that is so blandly generic that it doesn’t mention activities.

      What present do I get him? Outside of the rare occasion when I know about something he’d like that he isn’t aware of the existence of, I buy him presents by browsing places like Grocery Outlet or Big Lots. Sometimes I can find a weird gadget that’s at least a plausible gift – he likes things that are practical even if their use case is fairly niche. I know that I will not get better results by spending more or trying harder, so I make a game out of “what weird stuff from the clearance store am I wrapping up this time?” unless I get a specific idea in my head right away.

      I think his favorite gift out of all of the things I’ve given him over the years was a gadget from Dollar Tree that is basically a razor blade in a housing somewhat similar to a letter opener, but optimized for cutting through plastic containers like Costco sticks a lot of things in.

      I figure I either give him the gift of something he’ll actually like or I give him the gift of a new thing to complain about. I just don’t really get to pick which.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        My dad is the same way and I just mostly stopped giving him gifts for most gifting occasions. I go to Disneyworld with him for his birthday every year, change my Facebook picture to one that includes him for Father’s Day, and get him a six-pack of assorted beer (from the “build-your-own” rack at World Market, usually) or a bottle of wine for Christmas.

        I do sometimes find good options though – he’s turning 75 this year, so I’m taking him on one of the behind-the-scenes tours at Disney and he will get to walk on a rope bridge over a pit of crocodiles. Checked with him before I made the arrangements, he’s fine with it, very steady on his pins and in excellent health etc, and he’s excited for this one. I figure something like this buys me 5 years to come up with something else big and awesome for next time :)

      2. Anonymous cat*

        Those gadgets to cut through plastic are really great! It’s a simple thing but really really useful when the store is getting too enthusiastic about the packaging. That was a good find.

    7. Hotdog not dog*

      My dad and my husband are both difficult for gifts. Almost every gift I’ve ever given either of them is still stored in a closet somewhere unopened. The two that actually hit the mark were both birthday gifts. For hubby’s 50th, I made 50 Very Fancy cupcakes. He froze the ones we didn’t eat right away and had one a week for several months. For Pop’s 80th, my brother and I surprised him by showing up to take him out for dinner. He lives over 600 miles away, so he was truly surprised! (Mom was in on it, we needed to make sure he would be home after we spent 10 hours in the car)

    8. Silence*

      If he’s impossible to please go with a card and your favourite treat (candy, chocolate, coffee, fruit) and offer to open right away to share.

  52. Mexico City Reccs?*

    Going to Mexico city for work, but staying two extra days to see some sites. I’m planning on visiting some of the major museums, but would love any suggestions of what not to miss and more local places for food and drink! My hotel is in the la condesa area and I’m a solo female traveler.

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Oh man! I’m so jealous. I have never been but I’m commenting to watch this thread. My Spanish teacher was from the DF and she talked about how cosmopolitan and cultural it is.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Mexico City has the best museums I have ever experienced, and you’re completely spoiled for choice. Do not miss the Anthropological Museum (you won’t be able to see the whole thing). I also loved the Museo de Arte Popular and the Museum of Tolerance, which we stumbled on (that one’s a bit heavy but incredibly well done). I’m sure you’re already planning Casa Azul, but try to get to Trotsky’s house and the Dolores Olmedo Museum. Museums in Mexico City have great gift shops and many have terrific cafes.

      Food in Mexico City is great– it’s been many years since I was there, but two spots for classic Mexican cuisine are El Cardinal (there’s a location in the Hilton) and Cafe Tacuba. Friends went last year and had some amazing meals.

    3. So not using my real name for this.*

      Eva Longoria ‘Searching for Mexico’ is a foodie show with context where each episode focuses on the food of a different state. One of the episodes is about the food of Mexico City/The Federal District. Each show usually has a mix of street/neighbor food and fancy cuisine. You may want to check it out.

      We don’t usually spend much time in Mexico City, so can’t comment specifically on that episode; but other episodes have been pretty on target.

      Just a reminder, please try to tip 5-10 pesos to the cleaning person in the public bathroom, even if you paid an attendant for access. Often that person is at 100% tip wage and is the only one cleaning the bathroom.

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

      Maybe see if you can get a bus tour out to the pyramids of the sun and the moon (not in Mexico City, but nearby-ish)?

    5. Mephyle*

      For such a short stay, consider a day on the Turibus. The Historical Centre circuit takes you around some of the most historically interesting neighbourhoods. You pay for a whole day, and it’s hop-on-hop-off, so you can use it to get to: the Zócalo, the Bellas Artes Palace, the Anthropology Museum, the Franz Mayer Museum, and the Modern Art Museum (not that you’d have time to see them all, but they’re all along that route).
      You’ll want to sit on the open top of the double decker to get a better view, and there’s a recorded commentary in a choice of several languages (English is available) more or less synchronized with your location, so it describes the interesting features and history of some of the things you pass by.

      Fun fact: In 2016, the Federal District (DF in Spanish) had its name changed to Ciudad de México, mostly known locally as CDMX, and its status changed from a federal district (like D.C. in the U.S.) to a state. So it’s a state called “Mexico City”.

      1. Mephyle*

        Forgot to mention: my go-to tip for short stays is to leave the Anthropology Museum for another time and instead visit the Museo del Templo Mayor at the northeast corner of the Zócalo, beside the Cathedral. It’s like a condensed, best-of version of the kind of things you see at the Anthropology Museum. An interesting fact about the Templo Mayor is that it features basically just objects found in that specific location. But because it was a centre of commerce and culture, objects from a variety of nations in what is now Mexico (and even Europe and Asia) found there way there, so the exhibits contain more than just local things.
        You can go through it in 3 hours if you take your time and contemplate everything, or 45 minutes if you speed-walk (btdt too).

  53. Exercise woes*

    I used to exercise before work but my work schedule has changed and I’m having a hard time getting it done before work. However, exercising after work is just hard for me. How did you transform into a late afternoon/early evening exerciser? One of the things I dislike is that everything is more crowded by then. Or did you just bite the bullet and get out super early? Seeking ideas, strategies and positive stories!

    1. WellRed*

      Is the gym (?) convenient to stop by before you go home? Is there any flexibility in your schedule to get there, even at say, 5pm to avoid some crowding?

    2. Courageous cat*

      I just go for a walk/run outside. Dusk is the perfect time to do it, it feels so nice out.

    3. londonedit*

      I’m afraid to say I just get out there super early! I actually went the other way – I used to run after work, but then we had a ridiculously hot summer in 2019 and I just couldn’t run in 30+ heat in the evening. So I gathered a few friends and started going for a 5k run at 5:45am a couple of times a week. And since then I’ve been a morning runner! I love getting my exercise done early and then having the evening to myself. My gym opens at 6:30am so I go there for about 45 minutes every morning, or if I’m going for a run I’ll go sometime around 6-6:30.

    4. TPS reporter*

      I’m a big after work workout person. it gets me out of my head after a long day and able to disconnect.

      if I’m at the gym I do a class so I can feel motivated by my classmates. if I’m out for a walk I’ll listen to something really funny or interesting that is nothing at all about work, like a podcast or book. or watch something fun if I’m indoors on a treadmill or bike. basically thinking of it like I’m treating myself to an escape!

    5. Stephanie*

      I was in the same boat this fall. My work schedule changed, and I’ve been a morning exerciser for years, even though I’m not what I’d call a morning person. I tried working out in the afternoon after work, but I HATED it. So, I just sucked it up and started going to the earliest class at the gym. I get up at 4:30 two or three times on weekdays and do it. I hate getting up that early, but I’m always glad I did it. It took me several weeks of doing it to get used to getting up so early, but I did eventually get used to it. The one downside is that I have to adjust my bedtime earlier a couple of times during the week, but it’s doable.

  54. No More Boxes*

    Just found out from a friend that our local Trader Joe’s doesn’t have free boxes any more. Apparently it was a corporate decision. We used to pick them up and use them for charitable donations!

    1. fposte*

      The prevalence of Amazon means that any time somebody needs moving boxes on our local Nextdoor multiple people leap in to offer boxes. Can you get some that way?

    2. Squidhead*

      Maybe try a liquor store? The boxes aren’t huge, but most stores around me will let you take them for free. If you ask them in advance, they might save some out without breaking them down & then you don’t need to retape the bottom.

      1. LiquorStoresAreTheBest*

        I second this – I’ve gotten the majority of my boxes this way. Most liquor stores pay people to take the boxes they can’t foist off on movers so they are ecstatic to give you whatever you want. Grocery stores can also be helpful but there you have to be careful that the boxes are clean (but you already mentioned TJs so you probably know this).

        I have found it worth buying a wardrobe box of two from a storage place for any nice clothing – it really does keep it from getting messed up – and I have, at times, ended up purchasing some larger boxes from them as well when I can’t scrounge them from elsewhere. Save the boxes for next time and scrounge from any friends who’ve moved recently. Most boxes will withstand multiple moves.

    3. Aphrodite*

      If you know anyone who orders from Chewy, they ship their orders in fresh, clean extremely sturdy boxes. They are the best so ask anyone who has pets if they order from them.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        All my Chewy boxes are weird shaped – super big footprint but only about 8-10” deep. Not convenient to move anything in.

      2. academia re-ex-pat*

        If your library has boxes,get them. Book boxes are the best! They are meant to be sturdy and hold heavy books.

        I used to get some from the library at the university where I worked, not sure if public libraries have them. Grocery stores might be a good option too.

        1. Charitable Donations*

          Ha! One of the reasons I want boxes is to take books TO the library (it accepts book donations and has a book sale room).

          1. Pam Adams*

            the liquor store boxes are great for this. Copy paper boxes are also good, but make for a heavy load.

  55. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

    looking for recommendations for a dog bed that won’t break the bank but the filler won’t get stinky.
    despite washing the cover regularly, I had to throw away the foam because it just stank. But don’t worry she has more than one bed so she’ll survive while I look for a replacement!

    1. Snell*

      Could you define “won’t break the bank”? I have two beds from Orvis that have weathered the past 10+ years very well, which makes sense, as Orvis targets the “outdoor-active dog” demographic. I fully believe they’re worth the price, but they’re not what I’d call inexpensive. Also, since they serve a niche market, they don’t offer beds for small dogs or toy dogs. To me, the filling smells approximately the same as when it was new, just less strong. On days that I wash the covers, I clean the filling by leaving it in direct sunlight.

      *The two beds are not the same model. One of them is rectangular with a bolster and cushion insert (Orvis’s couch bed). This is the favorite among the house’s permanent residents, and bold visitors will take it for themselves.

      1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

        I should have left off not break the bank…something that lasts is usually worth the cost.
        I’ll check those out. she’s 60 lbs and we hike a lot but she doesn’t like swimming so wet dog isn’t an issue like it is with my parents lab.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Favorites in my house are Costco’s big round ones. Covers are removable and washable, plus they hold up to both chewing Great Dane puppies and fluffing with pointy boxer paws. The only time I’ve had to get rid of one was when the cat peed on it.

    3. Ice Bear*

      I really love IKEA’s LURVIG cushions because they’re basically a zippered machine-washable pouch in whatever color/size you choose with a pillow inside. You can choose to fill it with something else, or add to it. I had an old memory foam mattress topper that I cut to the shape and put that in first with the pillow on top to make it extra fluffy. My dog is sleeping on it right now, in fact.

    4. Stephanie*

      I have to second the recommendation for Orvis dog beds, even though they’re not cheap. We have three greyhounds, and they like to “dig” at their beds. Every other bed we ever tried, the covers just got shredded in less than a year, and the cushion/mattress insert got very flat, and very dog-smelling. The covers are washable, and seem to keep the a lot of the doggy smell from permeating the cushion. They are well worth the money. We started out with just one, and added a second when we realized how great the quality is. (One of our dogs has claimed the rights to any and all of the furniture, and we have a smaller bed from a different brand–I like that one, but it’s not as good. So all three have a few options for where to go.)
      A good tip for the stink is to leave it out in bright sunlight for a few hours to freshen it up, too, if it’s just dog smell in general, and not stains form accidents. (The cushion/mattress insert, while the cover is being washed.)

    5. MaryLoo*

      My dad used to make giant canvas pillows for beds for our dogs, he filled them with cedar chips (might have been the bags of cedar mulch from the hardware store. Worked great to get rid of “wet dog” smell.

    6. Sloanicota*

      A have a very large dog and learned about elevated beds (like raised cots) from a large dog group I was in. It is kind of a PITA with how much space it takes up, but I’m now a convert, as they can’t be chewed up, stay cleaner than soft beds, and best of all my dog seems to really like it, in part because it is probably cooler (he is always hot). They seem to have frequent sales that make them more affordable. I’ll post a link in the next comment.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        Yes I came here to suggest cots. They are great for ergonomics and comfort and keep the floor cleaner. I bought mine for $30 on Amazon by the brand Coolaroo. If you go to the Coolaroo website, they also sell shade toppers for these if you want to use outside.

    7. Bob-White of the Glen*

      I get beds from Costco that have removable covers. Since I have a kitty who, shall we say has some litter box issues, I quite often have to clean the covers. Since washing the interior is a huge pain, I now simply wrap the interior in a heavy plastic garbage bag, and wipe it down when I clean the covers. It’s helped manage that situation quite a bit, and the covers are machine washable.

    8. Rosemary*

      Newton Baby dog beds. The removable cover is machine-washable and the insert can be hosed down. They are definitely not cheap but they are very cleanable and I think they will last.

  56. Suggestions please!*

    My favorite, go-to, daily Neutr0gena moisturizer has been discontinued or is no longer available in any of the stores in my area. I’ve been using Olay Complete as a replacement. I appreciate that it has sunscreen in it, and as far as products go, it is O.K., but not quite right. Does anyone have any suggestions for a replacement?

    1. By a Lady*

      Cetaphil moisturizing lotion – no additional fragrances and I use as a night cream (there’s also an SPF version with 15spf.) Neutrogena theUltraSheer face serum has 60spf and works as a day moisturizer!

    2. A313*

      CeraVe or La Roche Posay, both affordable brands available at the local drugstore. They both are known to have nice formulas that work well.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Second La Roche Posay, which daughter put me onto.

        I am still salty at Neutrogena for discontinuing their clear nail polish replacement that was designed to just fade over a few days. Looked a little more polished than plain, but it was subtle.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Nail polish alternative – I like Hard as Hoof when I don’t want to bother with polish. But I’ve heard just rubbing olive oil into your nails gives the same hydrating benefits and subtle sheen.
          Also, OPI makes a matte version of Nail Envy, if it’s the no polish look that you want.

          Trader Joe’s house brand moisturizer is a decent unscented product, and not a huge investment if it turns out you don’t like it.

    3. My Cat’s Human*

      Was that the “Neutrogena oil-free moisture sensitive skin”? Can’t find it anywhere either. At Walgreens this week, I found a Walgreens brand “Sensitive Skin Moisturizing Lotion – hypoallergenic fragrance free compare to Neutrogena oil-free (etc)”. Haven’t tried it yet; still eeking the last bits out of my Neutrogena bottle.

      Many on here have recommended “Cerave,”but at stores there were many versions – at about $17 each – which would be ok if I knew which one I wanted! :) though I saw a trial size of one for $5. Wondering if the company would send samples…

      1. Becky S*

        I have dry aging sensitive skin. I use ‘Cerave daily moisturizing lotion for normal to dry skin’ from head to toe, have for decades.

      2. Maryn*

        Target, Walgreen’s, and CVS all carry knock-offs of Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin. Other than the packaging, I literally can’t tell the difference.

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I use Aldi’s organic coconut oil for both day and night moisturizing, and for day, after the oil has gotten absorbed or dried or whatever it does, I top it with a small amount of basic Nivea lotion, which is a nice un-shiny additional moisturizer that minimizes some of the small wrinkles.

    5. londonedit*

      L’Oreal here have been advertising two products and I got sucked in by the marketing and bought both as they were half price in Boots – and they’re great. They’re from the Revitalift Clinical range – a 12% vitamin C serum and then Anti-UV Fluid SPF 50. White packaging. I have very sun-sensitive skin and need an SPF 50 moisturiser, but most of them are sticky or greasy or otherwise horrible – this one is truly lightweight and sinks in nicely and doesn’t go weird under make-up.

    6. Lcsa99*

      Stupid Neutrogena. Not sure if it’s the same as what you used, but they either changed or discontinued the one I was using too. Blah! Anyway, I changed to Vanicream Daily Facial Moisturizer With Ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid for Sensative Skin (say that 3 times fast!)

      If you have issues with sensitive skin or breakouts, check out anything you want to try on cosdna (dot com). That will let you know what is in it that might effect you.

  57. Sitting-up-in-bed support*

    I’d like be able to sit straight up in bed and read or have a cup of tea sometimes, but my bed has no headboard and is about 2 inches away from the wall. What kind of pillow would prop me up like that? Or is there a contraption that isn’t a pillow that could be quickly put in place for that kind of support? Leaning back would not work. TIA for any suggestions!

    1. Jay*

      They make pillows specifically for that.
      They call them sitting pillows, reading pillows, hell, one is even called a “Husband Pillow”, of all things. Amazon has them under “Back Rests For Sitting In Bed”.
      I’m actually using one right now on my couch.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I have one from Tempurpedic (bought about 20 years ago, so maybe not available now) that is a triangle. It can be an upright triangle for reading, and unfolds to a low triangle for sleeping when you need to be elevated. (e.g. if a bad cold makes you cough whenever you lie flat)

    2. carcinization*