weekend open thread – September 30-October 1, 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: The Whispers, by Ashley Audrain. A neighborhood tries to figure out what happened when the young son of a woman known for losing her temper ends up in a coma.

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

{ 1,183 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. nnn*

    Every so often I buy something I am convinced is going to revolutionize my life but which ends up falling flat for me. Most recently it was a weighted blanket which just felt too heavy and uncomfortable even though I have heard so many friends rave about them. I’m worried it’s going to happen if I buy an air fryer too so I’m trying to hold off on it.

    What’s a purchase that you were sure was going to be a big hit for you but which fell flat once you got it?

    1. Alexiiiiiiiiii5*

      I loved my air fryer but it started to blow fixed so I’ve not used it. Weighted blanket didn’t help me much either I’m afraid. I move around way too much in my sleep.

      1. Little beans*

        I like my weighted blanket but can only use it if the weather is pretty cold. Love the air fryer! It’s a million times better than the microwave to cook/reheat anything crispy and also for anything on the smaller side where I don’t want to bother preheating the oven.

      2. allathian*

        Weighted blanket for me, too. I really enjoyed the sensation of being cocooned or swaddled like a baby, but it made my indigestion much worse so I had to stop using it.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, this. It’s got so bad for me that I resent pretty much every event that requires dress shoes…

    2. Kyrielle*

      Instapot. :sigh: It’s supposed to revolutionize my kitchen experience. It just makes me tired and annoyed at the cleaning.

        1. Tech Support Drone 367382Z*

          You may be adding too much liquid or cooking for too long. I was frustrated at the soggy rice I was making but it turns out I only needed to cook for 5 minutes, not 15. Now the rice is fluffy and plump.

      1. Artemesia*

        The liner should go in the dishwasher to reduce cleaning — then it is just the lid which is mostly a soapy rinse.

        They DO NOT save time. And yes it seems like a hassle to haul out a big piece of equipment and then wait forever for it to come to pressure etc. BUT for foods best braised it is great for quality of the food. And for ribs it is great — you cook them in the pot with rub and then finish them under the broiler for a few minutes with brushed on BBQ sauce. So we actually use the pot for pot roast, ribs, corned beef (we arrange the cabbage, potatoes and carrots in a second liner and then poor the water from the beef over them after the beef cooks and then cook the veggies) and oddly it makes spectacular hard boiled eggs if you need to make a big tray of deviled eggs. The shells just fall off.

        I only have one because I gave one to my daughter thinking it would make family cooking easier in their busy two worker/kids life and she gave it back to me. LOL.

        1. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

          I gotta try the eggs, the worst part of deviled eggs is the peeling.

          1. Rainy*

            We hard cook eggs in ours all the time.

            I like it for making stock as well, and ours has a rice cooker setting that’s useful. I’ve made pasta in it (works okay, very good for summer when we don’t want to heat up the house), and I cook potatoes in it for mash or potato salad.

      2. Throwaway Account*

        I use it a lot for beans and for a few plant-based recipes and it works for me because I know how long it will take. It really does make my life easier for those things.

        Our fav recipe right now is burrito bowls

      3. GythaOgden*

        In the same vein I haven’t used my toasted sandwich maker. There’s nothing I love more than chopped frankfurter, onion and cheese sandwiches, but there’s nothing I hate more than cleaning the damn thing out.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Anything of that sort that doesn’t have removable (preferably dishwasher-safe :P ) plates. Waffle iron, sandwich maker, none of it gets used. I love my George Foreman, because I can pop the plates out, rinse them while they’re still hot (carefully of course) and put them in the dishwasher, and bob’s your uncle.

      4. JSPA*

        i really like the endless supply of yoghurt without all the plastic waste, and it’s excellent for wild rice, as well as dishes that should be soupy. Depending on the model you have and how good the temperature control is, You can also do essentially sous vide chicken breast on one of the higher “keep warm” settings, in 45 minutes to an hour and a half (first heating the water or broth to simmering on the yoghurt pre-boil).

        But the timing directions on mine were way off for nearly every food.

        My “unused thing” is a fancy electric toothbrush. I got it to help with a sore wrist, But the weight of the brush is worse than having to manipulate a regular toothbrush. I also find I use my Tile trackers far less than expected, To the point that they tend to have dead batteries on the rare occasion I try to use them (or i’m required to download a new version of software first…by which time i’ve done another sweep of the place and found my keys.)

      5. Payroll Guru*

        The thing about the IP is not that it’s faster (because it isn’t always) but that you can start it and walk away to do some thing else. Yes the crockpot does that too but I am not home at noon to start it and I can start the IP at 5:00 and eat at a decent hour. Plus, the hard boiled eggs are perfect every single time.

    3. California Dreamin’*

      Roomba. My husband got one recently to help with cat hair, and it’s not nearly as smart as we envisioned. And I find it annoying.

      1. Filosofickle*

        That’s one of mine! It got tangled up constantly, couldn’t get under the couch, and got stuck under everything else. It had to be babysat constantly and took forever, a terrible combo.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            This was very annoying to me when I got one. That, and I didn’t realize how many chair legs I had. >_<

      2. Square Root of Minus One*

        That’s funny because this one was entirely a success for me. I have two cats and it was a game changer. I still vacuum the edges and corners but it does the bulk of the job and is not (such) a pain to maintain. Earlier this year I bought the washer version to clean the floors.

        1. JSPA*

          Me too. Especially with allergies, having something to do ninety percent of the heron dust capture while i’m across the room noodling on my phone, is a big plus. I block off the two or three places I know that it gets stuck. And yeah I still have to clean some corners after, but my nose and knees and hands are not in the sneezy dust, while I do it.

      3. Cat's Paw for Cats*

        I’m sorry to hear that about the Roomba. I bought one years ago and sent it back because it was ineffective on my carpets. But now I have wood floors and was hoping they had improved by now. I think I’ll hold off on buying another one.

      4. Artemesia*

        I am on my third Roomba and they hve transformed my life. Couldn’t live without one. Yeah with the cats and my long hair there is a lot of ‘grooming of the Roomba brushes’ but I’d rather do that they manually vacuum –we consider it one of our household essentials for lazy housekeepers like us. To each his own.

      5. ampersand*

        Yes, each week we play the “where did Roomba get stuck?” guessing game after it runs overnight. About half the time it makes it back to the dock. The rest of the time it’s stuck under a piece of furniture or has so much hair trapped in the roller brush that it’s given up and died. When it works, it works well enough.

      6. TexasLisa*

        I love the *idea of the Roomba, but I discovered that it’s not great for me working remote — I have to HEAR it, for what seems like hours. If we were away every day for work, I think it would have been a lot more positive.

        1. California Dreamin’*

          This is actually my issue. I don’t have a problem with the vacuuming job it does, but it takes what feels like the better part of a day to do the whole downstairs and having that sound going for hours drives me really nuts!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Instant Pot. I used it twice, I think, in a year and a half, and I hated it both times, the recipes were like “cooks in ten minutes!” and completely glossed over the fact that the stupid thing took 20 minutes to come to pressure and 20 minutes to depressurize and cooking the chicken in the oven would’ve been faster overall.

      The robot vacuum also – it required way too much babysitting, always got caught up on cords and the edges of rugs, cleaned the same spot ten times while ignoring the rest of the room, claimed it needed to be emptied every ten minutes so I couldn’t let it run overnight (and it didn’t need emptying as often as it said it did).

      Amusingly, I put off buying an air fryer for a really long time because I was worried it would be a fall-flat, and when I did finally get one, I found myself using it so much I bought a second one so I could use two of them at the same time.

      (Is it too cliche to say exercise equipment? :P My poor stationary bike.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Which reminds me – almost every rice cooker I ever had :P I finally found one that’s small enough to not make three times as much rice as I need, and it still takes three times longer than just making the damn rice on the stove.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Online dressmaker. I got two dresses and they’re nice in themselves but don’t really fit better than ones from a regular store.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      Another vote for Instant Pot! I even bought an instant pot cookbook and tried a handful of recipes at first but very few are winners… I’m actually using it today for like, the one recipe I’m happy with but it’s a huge appliance to only use a couple times a year.

      I also do this a lot with clothes, especially dresses. If you’ve seen the “Fashion Coward” SNL sketch, I basically have a whole closet of “maybe for a… rooftop party?” items that never feel right to actually wear.

    7. Sloanicota*

      A new store-bought mattress. I had been sleeping on an ancient thing and having a lot of back pain, so I convinced myself a better quality mattress was worth the investment. It turns out my idea of “expensive” mattress was barely scraping the bottom of the barrel at a mattress store and the one I got ended up saggy after just a few weeks (I sleep like a corpse, in the exact same position all night, every single night) and my back pain continued for several more years. Should probably have gone for extra-firm in the first place – now I just do cheaper ones online or toppers and switch them out more often.

      1. Artemesia*

        We had the same experience with an expensive department store mattress which was in hills and valleys in 6 months. I bought a Casper king size on line a few years ago and it has been fantastic — still perfect. The issue is disposing of the old mattress. We live in a high rise and bribed the garbage collectors to take it and they did.

      2. Phryne*

        My countries consumer union recently did a test on mattresses and the middle-hard Ikea Akrehamm for 200 euros actually came out as third best/best value for money, the best tested one was under 500 euros. Several luxury brands ended up at the bottom of the list. Supply in the US might be very different of course, but quality and price are definitely not synonyms when it comes to mattresses. So buying a cheaper one is a good strategy.

    8. Cedrus Libani*

      Silicone baking mats. If you run them through the dishwasher, even once, they make everything you cook on them taste like detergent. Doesn’t matter how much you soak them afterwards. If you wash them by hand, same deal, except dish soap is less foul than detergent, so…win? If you only clean them with water, they get sticky and gross; your food will taste like last month’s fish sticks, no matter how many paper towels you waste trying to scrape the gunk off. I’m all for modern solutions, but this one’s not working for me.

      For the record, I do have an Instant Pot, with the air fryer lid. I bought the Pot, and use it enough to give it a designated counter space, but I wasn’t expecting it to change my world; I was expecting a Crock Pot with optional turbo mode, and that’s what I got. Husband bought the air fryer, and I was deeply skeptical, but we ended up using it regularly when we lived in an apartment – our oven was slow to heat, so whenever we needed a small job done quickly, the air fryer was our tool of choice. Then we moved to a house with a convection oven, and haven’t touched the air fryer since.

      1. WhatTheActualFact*

        Thanks for the heads-up on this. I find silicone kitchen products end up really gross and I find them very difficult to clean properly.

        1. Pippa K*

          If the silicon item is clean but retains an odor, it can be baked in the oven at 180c/350f for 20 or 30 minutes and that usually removes the smell. It’s the only thing that works for my silicon ice cube trays, but it does work!

        2. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Weird, I’ve not had that experience with silicone at all. We even use them for Brownie cupcakes so everyone has lots of edge.

          Maybe it’s the soap type? We are the odd ones out who still use dishwasher powder instead of pods or liquid.

          I also love our Instant pot, cosori air fryer, and Roomba –although I admit I treat Roomba as a companion for my cleaning sessions not an independent operator.

          What was useless to me was my SAD light, because the thing is SO bright I can’t bear having it in my line of sight. I tried. really I did…

          1. Little beans*

            Coming here to say the same thing, I love my silicone baking mats! I’ve never put them in the dishwasher but don’t notice any soap residue or taste from hand washing. I DID get that gross soap taste effect putting my toddler’s silicone dishes in the dishwasher though.

            1. carcinization*

              Yeah, I’ve never even considered putting a silicone mat in the dishwasher (we wash them by hand), but I generally use them for baking sweets and not for fish or whatever anyhow.

            2. allathian*

              When my son was a toddler and we had silicone dishes, we just boiled them on the stove without any detergent, just like I did with his milk bottles when he was a baby.

          2. So they all cheap-ass rolled over and one fell out*

            I got a silicone steamer and my wife won’t even try it because she thinks it will make everything taste like silicone.
            Maybe it’s like the cilantro thing? Some people can taste it and some can’t?

            1. They Don’t Make Sunday*

              I think the detergent matters. We use unscented dishwasher powder and my kids’ silicone plates and our other silicone things come out great. But I did have an awful time getting detergent taste out of some secondhand silicone toddler plates. Once it was gone, washing unscented has given us zero problems.

        3. Artemesia*

          I just bought a silicon coffee drip cone for travel and will be careful to rinse and not use soap having read this. ick.

      2. lissajous*

        Funny, I’ve never had that issue with my silicon baking mat and love it. I’ve only ever hand washed mine though, the instructions said not to put it in the dishwasher.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Same – I found silicone mats made baking and cleaning a lot easier (can’t say the same about silicone baking moulds, in fact I have a Bundt mould I never use). The brand I got off Amazon a few years ago has proved to be very good quality, and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy it again.

        2. MassChick*

          I LOVE my silicone muffin moulds! Have used them for years and stopped using the pans and haven’t bought paper liners in over a decade.

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I am also bewildered by the popularity and preponderance of silicone in baking! You only have to touch it to know it won’t do, yet everything is made from it which convinces you to experiment. It reminds me of the enthusiasm for concrete in fifties town planning. I like silicone for spatulas in scooping out jars, and I have a silicone mat for gluten free dough rolling and kneading, but for everything else it’s a flop.

        1. Cyndi*

          I have a flexible silicone scoop for my dog’s kibble and it’s the only way to fill Kongs that hasn’t made me want to scream!

      4. Poly Anna*

        I’ve had some success with cleaning silicone in the washer instead of the dishwasher. But I use very low odour detergent.

    9. Seashell*

      I got a pressure cooker as a gift and bought a cookbook for it. Tried it maybe twice, and no meals were anything I really wanted to try again. It has been sitting in the basement since.

      A juicer and a bread maker were even less successful. Same with roller blades in the 90’s.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Ha, the fondue reference made me wonder if all the pressure cooker people are having partner-swapping parties with pressure-cooked food. (Fondue-fuelled partner-swapping parties were – allegedly – a big thing back in the 70s. Maybe that’s why the trend didn’t last!)

        2. MassChick*

          Not if you’re Indian or have Indian roots! Then it’s an integral part of the kitchen and used every day.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I have a small fondue pot and I refuse to give it up — next time I’m able to have people over, I fully intend to drag it out and use it.

        3. Artemesia*

          When my kids were young I used the pressure cooker several times a week to get dinner on quickly. But the Instapots take forever to come to pressure and then cool down so they save no time but make great food. But the old fashioned pressure cooker was a godsend. That and the crockpot meant we had good meals during the child rearing years when we were also working.

        4. SarahKay*

          Oh, I love my pressure cooker. It makes amazing soups and stocks, plus doubles up as a jam pan for when I need a really large pan for boiling up my annual batch of home-made marmalade.
          I recently needed to order a new rubber seal for it so went to the maker’s website and was reading the stuff on thier homepage, where they were saying some users still had pans from up to 30 years ago. ‘Gosh’, I thought, ‘that’s pretty impressive. I hope mine is still going strong after 30 years’. Then I thought a little further… readers, mine was a Christmas gift in 1991! I think we can safely say it is, indeed, still going strong after 30 years.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Oh, how I wish I could have your pressure cooker!! They make the best pot roast you ever ate. I gave mine to my mother thinking I could find a new one, but you can’t find them anymore, instant pots have taken their place, and they aren’t the same at all.
        So why didn’t I get mine back from my mother, you ask? She sold it in a house sale when she went to assisted living. It was gone before I knew about it.

        1. Seashell*

          I’m not sure I could even fit a pot roast in the one I have. It’s maybe 10 years old at most and digital, so not the kind of thing you’d get in the 70’s.

      2. MaryLoo*

        I have an old-style pressure cooker and use it a lot for stews, making stock, etc. I do recipes that use the the “reduce pressure instantly” method so you don’t have to wait for it to drop. ( I found the original instruction book online.) It’s so much faster.

        When you start, you need to make sure the pipe that holds the jiggler is clean, and follow instructions for reducing heat and having the jiggler rock slowly. In my childhood, my mother had the emergency release plug fail (pop out) because the jiggler pipe was plugged up, and had to scrape mushy potatoes off the ceiling

    10. MigraineMonth*

      Cat drinking fountain. It’s supposed to attract cats with the moving water and encourage them to drink more… which it might if my cat weren’t afraid of it. *sigh*

      Also a bicycle. Turns out I just really prefer walking!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ours mildewed with that pink stuff every other day. We cleaned it more than the cats ever drank out of it.

      2. trvh*

        Mine were afraid of fountains, too, until I brought home the super-cute new Catit Pixi fountain – it has a glowing kitty face! They immediately started using it, no exaggeration. I was honestly shocked. They literally RAN from a ceramic one, and tried to bury a stainless steel one. The Catit flower one was ignored completely.

        I was so glad to see them use the Pixi, and the filters are cheap, too, and easy to find. Plus I like the design, and the glowing red led that appears if the water level is too low. Also, it’s dead silent. Not a sound. Amazing.

      3. Susan-shaped beehive*

        My theory about cat drinking fountains is that they won’t look at it unless they see people using it first. If I were to splash around in it and leave it on the kitchen counter, I bet they’d use it all the time just to sass me!

      4. don'tbeadork*

        That’s funny, because mine adore all of the versions we have. I have two PetKit ones that are square and water bubbles periodically from the center, I have the CatIT daisy, the GJEASE multilevel one and some off brand bowl shaped one that like the CatIT daisy, bubbles constantly.

        PetKit and GJEASE seem to be the most popular, usually when the PetKit is still, but they zip over to watch when it starts to bubble. GJEASE has the advantage of only one level actually welling up, and then the water flows to to the other levels. Both of these have a glowy light that changes color if the water level is too low, and an automatic shut off. The daisy and the bowl run constantly and I have to keep an eye on the water levels myself.

        Some cats really don’t care for the water fountain when it’s active, so maybe your cat is one that would prefer it to be still. We do keep a bowl of still water at either end of the house for the cats that just don’t like moving water while they drink.

      5. Artemesia*

        my cats are not into the fountains either so I got a gravity flow thing — cheap, big clear plastic jug and base and it lasts for weeks without needing to be refilled and works great. They were meh on the fountain. A friend’s cat loves the fountain.

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          My cat ignored the fountain and still wants me to run water in a small pool in the bathtub instead.

    11. New Mom (of 1 1/9)*

      With my first baby I went completely insane on pumps, galactagogues, etc. The amount of money I spent trying to increase my supply vs. how long I breastfed was not worth it.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        Amen. We’ve owned two different small batch rice cookers and no amount of directions reading has kept them from boiling over. Now I make rice in my Instant Pot.

        I love my Instant Pot even though I really only use it now for steel cut oatmeal and rice now that I can’t eat soy yogurt anymore so I don’t have to make that.

      2. Angstrom*

        We like ours. It makes good rice, and being able to walk away and not worry about it overcooking is a huge win.

        1. Clisby*

          My rice steamer is one of my most-used appliances. I don’t think this is what most people mean by a rice cooker, though – it’s the old-fashioned stovetop kind. My kids could make perfect rice in it by the time they were 7 or 8 – that was one of the first things they learned to cook.

    12. Generic Name*

      Instapot. I got the mini when my ex moved out. I was really worried about finances. It was $75 and I thought it was perfect for my 10 year old and me. Now kiddo is a ravenous teenager and I’m married to a man with a physical job and the mini is too darn small. Plus, I’m not really a big soup person. It’s basically a glorified rice maker now.

    13. CTT*

      Fancy rollerblades (that were half off because the store was having a sale on ones with slight defects). Realized that living alone and experimenting with rollerblading was probably a bad combination…

      1. MigraineMonth*

        Lol. I also thought rollerblading would change my life, but it turns out rollerblading on roads is a lot scarier than rollerblading around a gym.

    14. trvh*

      Instant pot. … it has its uses, but I don’t eat beans, so…. maybe every couple of months it gets used.

      Bread machine! I just do not like the bread it makes, irregardless of the recipes. Sigh… takes up so much space, too… However, I love my air fryer, and use it almost daily! Much more economical for a solo person than turning on an oven.

      1. PhyllisB*

        My husband bought me an instant pot to replace my pressure cooker (see above) and I never used it. He did a few times but he wasn’t impressed, either. We gave it to our oldest daughter who loves it.
        However, the air fryer is a different story. I gave my husband one for Christmas (yes, we are one of those couples who give each other appliances for gifts. We’ve been married so long, we have run out of ideas!!) He loves it, and uses it at least 3 days a week.

    15. WoodswomanWrites*

      This happens to me with outdoor gear. Here’s a recent example. I love camping by myself. Last year I decided that with my aging back, it was time to upgrade from my little backpacking tent to a good size camping tent that I can stand up instead of bending so much. For this year’s camping season, I did tons of research and found an amazing tent that was pricey but appeared to a good lifetime investment.

      Except when I actually got it, the tent package was so heavy that just lifting it strained my back. And then I realized that there was no way I would be able to put this tent up alone. Fortunately I was able to return it unopened and replaced it with a more practical tent.

    16. Cookies For Breakfast*

      A pair of Levi’s skinny jeans I got from Vinted, because the model I was loyal to is discontinued and no others look good on me. They were new with tags, as advertised. But somehow, the dark blue fabric fits differently than the lighter blue and black I had before (blue was true to size, black was on the tight side but bearable). These look weirdly baggy in the wrong places, even though waist and leg size are exactly the same.

      Also, a small handheld cordless vacuum from a big brand. We thought it would make cleaning the stairs easy (only carpeted surface in the house and they have an awkward curve). It turned out to have no suction and is still at the back of a closet. We now have a regular corded vacuum and it’s brilliant, even though the stairs are still a challenge.

      1. ampersand*

        I feel you on the jeans–different washes feel/fit differently! And black jeans, in my experience, are always tighter than you’re expecting. Something about the way they’re made must decrease the normal stretchiness you find in blue jeans.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It takes more dye to get black jeans black, apparently, and that stiffens and shrinks the fabric. So no, it’s not imagination that black jeans fit tighter and stiffer!

    17. Square Root of Minus One*

      Juice maker centifuge thing. The juice may be nice but it is horrible to wash, I’d rather buy juice in the store.
      Usually, in the kitchen, I stand by old simple tools, thank you very much.
      Unlike most of you Instant Pot is the exception, but I don’t make whole meals in there. I use it for slowcooking soups, stews, and especially for precooking all kinds of beans, it’s great. But I agree the instant part is a lie, it takes half an hour to heat up.

    18. Hotdog not dog*

      A home gym. It’s been ages since anyone has touched it! To the point that now it’s almost October so I can pretend that the cobwebs are intentional Halloween decorations and not half-assed cleaning.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Along these lines, my partner shelled several hundred dollars on a Treadly, and it’s been almost two years since either of us has touched it.

        It’s too bulky for her to want to pull out and use, and I don’t like it since I can’t sprint on it.

    19. aubrey*

      Adding to the Instant Pot chorus. It’s so big and my kitchen is tiny, so hauling it out and making space for it and just general planning ahead is apparently too much for me.

      Robot vacuum. I think it might be better if I wasn’t home all the time to hear it. Or maybe if I sprung for an expensive one that had a more organized cleaning plan and finished faster.

      I absolutely love my weighted blanket though. But can see why people wouldn’t.

    20. beep beep*

      My weighted blanket gave me stress nightmares about being trapped- I feel you. Weirdly, I get what I think seems to be a similar effect from just…lying flat on a hard floor (the same full-body “pressing” sensation) and it’s refreshing for me and much cheaper.

      As far as purchases… so many things. Probably the biggest is the little rice cooker my parents bought me. The nonstick…. doesn’t. Every damn time, no matter how much water I use, I’m scraping or soaking out a mat of stuck-on rice bits from the bottom half. Maybe I just need to get something better than Walmart or wherever they got it, but it’s deeply annoying especially since I hate washing pots and always seem to miss some tiny bits so it needs another wash before I can actually use it.

      1. Artemesia*

        We had a new heater in our bedroom (we are in a high rise and each room has one of those motel through the wall units) that did not work the first winter and GE kept trying to fix it and so it was out for months. I bought an electric blanket which turned out to be super heavy. Now we only use it to heat the bed up in winter months and then turn it off since we don’t like that much heat at night but I love the ‘weighted blanket effect’. I have terrible sleep issues and this seems to make it easier to sleep. To each his own on that.

        We had the same issue as someone above with the cordless dust buster — great concept but not enough suck.

    21. Chauncy Gardener*

      My food processor. It is awful to clean and not at all intuitive to use. I really should donate it.

      1. Not Totally Subclinical*

        My dad gave us a food processor many years ago, and we’ve used it maybe once in the past ten years. Yes, it’s great for cutting stuff quickly, but for the quantities we’re making, it’s faster to chop the veggies with a regular knife than to assemble, use, and clean the food processor.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Our old food processor was a cheap piece of crap that terrified me because unless you attached it exactly right it would rattle and scream like it was being murdered. HATED that thing. Oh, and the mandoline–I just know it’s laying in wait to slice my fingers off!

        2. Christine*

          Food processors are great for purees. I use mine for a holiday sweet potato dish, and my husband uses it to make hummus. I’m sure we could find other uses for it, but the Vitamix takes care of smoothies and the occasional blended soup.

        3. Phryne*

          As a single person household, I looked into food processors, blenders and mixers and came to the conclusion that a hand held stick-mixer with some extra accessories could do pretty much anything I needed it to. Small batch mixing of batter and pureeing of soups, some chopping. Saves three other kitchen appliances, takes up minimal room and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Ideal.

      2. Generic Name*

        I got a cuisinart when I was first married, and I just never used it all that much. Ridiculously heavy, took more time to get it out and clean than it did to just chop some damn veggies with a knife. And the plastic parts eventually broke and chipped away, so I just tossed it and never replaced it. We have an immersion blender, a ninja blender, and various knives that do everything the cuisinart did.

      3. HalloQueen*

        The only thing we use our food processor for is making nut butters. Which is actually worth the hassle, if you’ve fresh roasted your own nuts, because nothing from the store tastes better.

    22. WellRed*

      Why am I not surprised at the prevalence of kitchen appliances in this thread? Not me, but a friend was so excited to buy the bar drink thingy. You put in an expensive pod and add alcohol. It’s bulky and the novelty wore off fast.

      1. Artemesia*

        When we moved states when we retired we gave everything in our kitchen but a handful of carefully selected things we knew we would use, to a refugee resettlement programs. Dishes, classes, pots and pans and lots of appliances. We haven’t missed them and now we have room for what we do have. I did get an instapot but store is in a cabinet and only get it out when I use it. The only appliances on our galley kitchen counters in our high rise condo are the espresso maker and coffee grinder (my husband MUST have those) and the narrow toaster. Everything else is stowed away. I gave my daughter our kitchen aid mixer and just used a stick blender or a hand mixer which are stored under the counter.

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

      I’ve had two people buy me slow cookers, which seemed great in theory, but I am just not up to cleaning those things, and my attempts to cook in them didn’t come out so well. I gave them away.

      1. Seashell*

        I find cleaning a slow cooker easy. Put dirty insert and lid in the dishwasher.

        I like American’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution cookbooks. They require a bit more prep work than just throwing everything in, but it pays off in the end.

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

          I have no dishwasher, alas! You’re right, that probably would have made things easier.

      2. Artemesia*

        cleaning was never an issue with our slow cooker — it was a metal pot that sat on the heater and the pot just went into the dishwasher; same with the instapot; I have two inserts and they just go into the dishwasher.

        We pretty much avoid anything that doesn’t go in the dishwasher. The only things we hand wash now are our wood implements, our non-stick cookware and our fancy Champagne flutes. We rarely use our good wineglasses since I discovered that the numerous small glass wine glasses I bought for a big party at the dollar store, work just fine and go in the dishwasher and if they break — ah well.

    24. Not Totally Subclinical*

      An extra-fancy fountain pen. I like fountain pens, but I don’t hand-write enough to need the herd I’ve assembled, and I definitely didn’t need to spend over $100 on one that sits in my drawer unused. I need to clean it out and see if any of my fountain-pen using friends want to buy it.

      I’ve learned over time that I should not buy any expensive or bulky tool for a hobby until I’ve been doing the hobby long enough to know whether I’m going to stick with it and whether I really need the tool.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I bought a fancy pen a while ago that was supposed to be like writing on an angel’s wing–it really wasn’t. It wrote fine, but no more smoothly than a Sharpie roller.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I feel like an angel’s wing would be awkward and scratchy to write on, so maybe it DOES work as advertised!

      2. Christine*

        I’ve been quilting since the 90s, and I have many (many!) tools I’ve never used.
        Then there’s my fabric collection. :D

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Every quarter the Stoffenspektakel comes to town. It’s a Dutch fabric market full of every kind of material for every possible project imaginable, from patchwork and quilting and dressmaking up to leather and suede and heavy duty sailcloth.

          I keep buying material saying I will make something with it, and never do.

    25. Pieforbreakfast*

      so many garlic presses. I feel like this is the new eggbeater- a better method one invented every year. I find it so much easier to just use a knife but my spouse feels otherwise.

      1. Cyndi*

        People are constantly telling me how easy garlic presses are to clean and I have never understood it! Mine has been gathering dust for years because I rapidly got sick of scraping garlic out of all the little holes. I just buy garlic in the little frozen cubes now, or sub garlic powder.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We buy plastic squeeze bottles of minced garlic and go through them in nothing flat. I absolutely do not have the patience to mince garlic.

        2. carcinization*

          My garlic press goes in the dishwasher and comes out clean (I think it’s an OXO one?), but I guess I can imagine that it’d be a pain to clean if I didn’t have a dishwasher.

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        On my mother’s strong recommendation, I bought a metal garlic press that came apart after one use. For probably a year, I kept putting it back together every time, thinking about just throwing it away, and resenting that I still needed it (slicing doesn’t go down well in this household, my partner doesn’t love feeling garlic pieces in the food).

        My saviour: the Joseph Joseph garlic press with twist motion. I don’t have to apply a lot of pressure to crush the garlic, and there are no screws holding it together, so it can’t snap in half in the silly way the other did. It’s the only garlic press that makes sense to me now. Possibly my favourite small kitchen utensil.

        PS, love your username! :D

    26. Thunder Kitten*

      exercise equipment. did you know that exercise equipment wont get you fit ? apparently one has to USE it.

    27. Rage*

      A sous vide device. It’s complicated and the food comes out…meh. Maybe I’m just not French enough to work it properly.

      It’s currently taking up space in my cabinet.

    28. Susan-shaped beehive*

      Champion juicer. I used it twice, then, due to the sunk cost fallacy, I kept it in my house for 20 years before getting rid of it.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        oooh that’s interesting because I feel like a salad spinner would massively improve my quality of life, but maybe I would be disillusioned if I had one!

        1. somehow*

          It might! But the couple of times I used mine, I found I was better off going back to using towels to squeeze out excess water. If you do decide to get one, I hope it meets your needs! Perhaps someone you know has one and you could borrow it and see. :)

        2. Dancing Otter*

          Check thrift stores and yard sales. @Somehow is not alone in their opinion of the silly things.

        3. The scum is winning*

          Fwiw, I love my salad spinner. When it broke, we instantly got a new one. I find it so much faster than drying with a towel.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like mine, but storing it is a nightmare. It just does not fit anywhere and never really did even when I had a bigger kitchen. Currently it’s on top of the refrigerator.

      3. WishIWasATimeTraveller*

        I LOVE my salad spinner! I usually use it twice though – after the first good spin I empty out the water and gently toss my leafy greens then give it another spin. It works so great!

      4. B*

        ooo, I use ours for an off label purpose; to spin the water out of hand wash items. I bought a huge one second hand and spin the water out of sweaters, wool socks, brassieres and other unmentionables. Works like a charm reducing drying time by at least a third and does not stretch out the garments.

    29. Donkey Hotey*

      Before you give up on the blanket: my partner and I discovered that a twin blanket sideways across the bed works better at distributing the weight.

    30. Lightbulb*

      Fish Poacher. Was convinced I would use it frequently (live in Pacific NW). Used exactly one time for the open house we held for our new home one New Years Day. 30 plus years ago. Still in box, like new. Can’t bear to part with it, just haven’t used it again.

      1. ypsi66*

        Fortunately, I did not expect the air fryer to magically transform my life but to this day I wonder why I actually bought it. I did not start using it right away and after the first two uses the telfon coating inside started to peel off. It was too late to return it but Amazon kindly sent me a replacement (I would have preferred to get rid of it but I am the one to blame for the delay). I barely use it – perhaps I would have gotten more use out of it had I purchased a bigger one (so that I can make more lunches/dinners at one go). It’s taking space in the cupboard and I am sure I will just take it to Goodwill one day.
        A coworker of mine swears on his air fryer though – go figure.

    31. GoryDetails*

      I tried a memory-foam mattress once, as the ads made it sound like the peak of cozy comfort. Turns out I absolutely *hate* feeling “embedded” in my mattress; I felt too hot, I couldn’t turn over easily (I toss and turn a lot during normal sleep and thinking-about-sleep times), and it just didn’t work for me. [Oddly enough, I do like a heavier covering – not an official “weighted blanket” but I do have a nicely-heavy faux-fur throw. But heavy-on-top, especially when it’s easily kicked off when necessary, isn’t at all like “sinking-into”.]

    32. BlueMeeple*

      A pop cake maker. I love baking, but the pop cake maker was something that was used a couple of times and never again.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Ideally cake pops should be made from baked cake that’s been crumbled and mixed with icing, then coated. Baking a tiny cake in the form of a ball seems wrong.

    33. Goose*

      Clothes steamer. Maybe I have the wrong one, but it sits on use in the closet because I’m pretty sure it’s filled with mold and I can’t get it properly cleaned

    34. Dancing Otter*

      Flip style waffle maker. Not entirely its fault, as I went low carb shortly after, and never used the thing. Not worth the counter space, anyway, and too much trouble to drag out for waffles for one person.

      Ice cream maker with a bowl that had to be frozen for hours in advance, but took up half the space in my freezer compartment.

      Every Instant Pot cookbook I’ve ever bought online. (At least, at the brick & mortar store, I can look and put them back.) I’m lucky if there’s one recipe I can use (and I don’t have a lot of allergies). Either they serve eight, or there’s no nutrition information, or the prep work is more trouble than the result’s worth, or or or …. The cooker itself is fine; it’s replaced the crock pot and the rice cooker and a fair portion of my oven use, especially in hot weather.

      All my canning equipment. My time is worth more than any hypothetical savings.

      Flimsy silicone ice cube trays that bend and spill water all over the kitchen floor before they ever reach the freezer, and most of the rest ends up on the floor of the freezer compartment.

      Feliway. Sometimes, you just have to settle for mutual tolerance. I hear it works for some cats.

      Optifast and other meal replacement programs. Yes, one loses weight while on it; but it doesn’t teach good eating habits. Almost everyone gains the weight back – I certainly did. But not the money, of course. On a related note, everyone I know who has had bariatric surgery also gained back at LEAST half the weight they lost.

      The blow dryer that was recalled a week after I bought it. Who checks Consumer Reports for a $25 purchase?

      1. Cedrus Libani*

        My parents are keto, and they use the heck out of their waffle maker. They make “chaffles”, a surprisingly edible thing involving cream cheese, egg, mozzarella, and almond flour. Granted, it’s still a fair amount of work just to get breakfast in, but they’re retired and need a hobby…

    35. Chaordic One*

      I would have to say that it was my smart phone. I just find it awkward to use. Partly it is because of my big clumsy fingers, but also it just seems like so many things are unintuititive and require more steps than I think they should. I mostly just use it as a phone. I could probably still get by with a cheap old-fashioned flip phone.

    36. Might Be Spam*

      My son bought me an 11 cup (yes, eleven) rice cooker and I live alone. I don’t want to hurt his feelings by giving it away, but it is way too big for me. I would probably use it more if it were smaller.

    37. fhqwhgads*

      Sort of my robot vacuum. It loved it initially. However, it’s a pain in the ass to empty, and is very loud. I’m not bothered by the volume, but spouse+baby are. End result I used it a ton for 3 months and now I don’t really at all.

    38. Elizabeth West*

      A coffeemaker. I thought if I got one, I’d drink more coffee, but I only ever have one cup in the morning and that’s it. I switched to a French press and donated the coffeemaker and never looked back.

      On the flip side, one thing I bought that I absolutely love is that little Dash Rapid Egg Cooker. I love hard-boiled eggs for lunch but hate making them — with this, I don’t have to drag out a pot and boil water. You still have to put them in an ice bath, but I love how they always come out perfect.

    39. MEH Squared*

      The nth vote for Instant Pot. Everyone was raving about it and my brother was telling me all the great things about it. I bought it and realized a few things. One, you have to heat it up first. Two, you have to fiddle with the pressure thing. Three, you stil have to do all the prep work. Four, I’m a single person who hates cooking. Five, I don’t do anything that takes a long time to cook.

      Moral of the story–my brother has my Instant Pot now.

    40. GythaOgden*

      A Retron 5, which is a sophisticated machine that lets you play old NES, SNES, Megadrive etc games with one console. Usually those kind of things are literally just a box with slots that you turn on and play, but the R5 has software inside it to customise your experience and play things through adaptors and so on.

      Turns out I much prefer the more realistic 3D computer games I play as an adult to the 2D sprite-based stuff I played back in the day — I was about 11 when I got an Amiga computer and always envied my friends who had a Megadrive because of Sonic the Hedgehog, but it took me a long time to be able to afford to play more than just Civilization and World of Warcraft.

      Also Itsu chicken broth. I bought it intending to use it for proper ramen, and the container had a long date on it so I could always have used it later, but around the same time I got it, I started using salmon and prawns in ramen and stir-fry rather than chicken, and so I just used fish stock instead on the rare occasions I wasn’t too knackered to cook anything properly. Unfortunately, even though I am on the threshold of a WFH job and have promised myself I’ll improve my diet now I’m not having to do a two hour commute each way, the carton has finally reached its use-by date.

      I mean, it’s not exactly expensive, but it was a bit of a waste :(.

    41. carcinization*

      Several Thanksgivings ago, I bought a metal manual food mill thing, I guess to use as a potato ricer or something? It was a real pain to use that Thanksgiving and I haven’t tried to use it since but have moved with it twice.

  3. kate the great*

    Looking for cozy reading recommendations! Now that it’s getting cool I’m in the mood to spend the weekend under blankets with hot cider and a book. Please give me all cozy reading recommendations for when you want to be snug….like the porridge version of a book.

      1. carcinization*

        Howevermany-th-ing this recommendation, it’s basically all I think of when I try to think of a comfort book that others would also recognize as one!

    1. PhyllisB*

      Are you wanting cozy mysteries, or just anything that gives you a warm happy feeling? if it’s the latter, I highly recommend the Mitford series by Jan Karon, or anything by Maeve Binchy or Fannie Flagg. if it’s mysteries I can recommend a ton of those.

      1. kate the great*

        Cozy anything, not just mysteries! (I admit I am not totally sure what the cozy mystery genre is although I have heard of it.)

        1. Random Bystander*

          Cozy mysteries tend to put the sex and violence off “stage”, and usually involve a small community and an amateur sleuth (kind of the Murder She Wrote sort of thing). If that sounds at all appealing, I can recommend two books. I loved the first, I was a little less satisfied with the second, but that’s because the author died and someone other than the author did the final edits (granted it was the author’s daughter, but the daughter’s books are very different, so it felt different).
          Author: A Carman Clark
          Book 1: The Maine Mulch Murder
          Book 2: The Corpse in the Compost

      1. don'tbeadork*

        Really just about any Alexander McCall Smith. Although the Portuguese Irregular Verbs group didn’t resonant as much as the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency or the other series did.

        They are all very _gentle_ reads, even the mysteries.

    2. Emily Elizabeth*

      Legends and Lattes and The Heartbreak Bakery are two of my favorite reads from the last couple years; both bakery focused, involve queer love stories, and give lots of warm fuzzies.

    3. Lizard*

      The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna is the coziest book that I’ve read this year!

      1. Catherine*

        This is deeply lovely.
        I also loved House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, which has a very similar feel.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Two series:
      If you like mysteries, Murder with Peacocks and the following 30 bird mysteries by Donna Andrew. I love the extended family and townsfolk.

      The Thursday Murder Club, a book that crosses genres even though it is about solving murders. About the residents of a retirement community and the crimes they uncover and the issues of aging. The fourth just came out.

      1. Sparkle Llama*

        I had no idea we were getting another Thursday murder club already!! Now to see if I can hold off long enough for a used copy or the library or will give in and buy a new hard cover like I did on the last one.

        I feel like these books are both cozy but have more depth than a lot of the “cozy mysteries”

        I would also recommend a man called Ove. Again not super cozy but I think it is cozy enough and wonderful!

      2. Madame Maigret*

        Thirding the Thursday Murder Club series! Clever, hilarious, thoughtful, kind – I’m running out of adjectives. My husband and I have listened to the first three audio books which are outstanding. The first two are read – performed more like – by Lesley Manville, who is one of my favorite actors. You just can’t beat a classically trained British actor for range and depth of performance – unless you are Meryl Streep performing “Tom Lake” by Ann Patchett! Mesmerizing!

    5. Cyndi*

      Mysteries: I love Sarah Caudwell, a British chancery lawyer who wrote exactly four mystery novels. They’re full of sexy scandalous melodrama but also get super into the weeds of British property law and it totally works, I swear. My favorite is The Sibyl In Her Grave but they’re all great. I also really enjoy Mary Roberts Rinehart, who wrote some fun ones (The Circular Staircase and The Yellow Room) about plucky elderly spinsters getting mixed up in murders!

      Not mysteries, but one of my favorite comfort reads is The Face in the Frost, which is a fantasy novel with kind of proto-Pratchetty vibes about two grumpy middle-aged wizards having to go on a Heroic Quest. I also like to do a yearly reread of The Dark Is Rising, a middle grade fantasy series I loved when I was like 12; they still hold up as really cozy and atmospheric, and the first book in particular is set around the winter solstice and Christmas so it’s a good candidate for annual rereading.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Ohhh Sarah Caudwell is amazing and you get the fun of asking people what gender they think the narrator is!

      1. somehow*

        For a time, I lived in western NC (Cullowhee/Sylva) and so will try the series. Thanks for the recc., Blue wall!

    6. Mitchell Hundred*

      Stuart McLean’s writing comes to mind. Very funny and fairly wholesome short stories about the life of a (fictional) family in Toronto. He’s written some non-fiction too, although I’m less familiar with that.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Speaking of stories, Tom Bodette wrote a series of books about a fictional town in Alaska. I loved them. I’ve never read Garrison Kellor, but I imagine they are similar.

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          I hadn’t thought of him, but Garrison Keillor is a good comparison for Stuart McLean. Same kind of vibe.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me: Shirley Jackson’s memoirs Raising Demons and Life Among the Savages are absolutely hilarious and to my mind, while definitely “of their time,” not dated at all. She’s one of my very favorite authors.

        1. somehow*

          I LOVE Shirley Jackson. “The Lottery” isn’t exactly cozy, lol, but still…she’s one of my favorite authors.

      3. Mephyle*

        Stuart McLean seconded. And while we’re in the category of Canadian broadcasters who have written books that could be recommended for a cozy read:

        Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast and Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast Pillow Book by Bill Richardson. He also wrote a third Bachelor Brother’s book but I haven’t read that one.

        This is a meta-recommendation, because it’s a cozy comfort read about cozy comfort reading.

    7. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Miss Buncle’s Book by D. E. Stevenson (and the two sequels) – small town spinster writes a book about her village under a pseudonym and the town goes crazy trying to figure out who wrote it.

      The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery – heartwarming adult novel by the Anne of Green Gables author

      The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim – 4 strangers rent an Italian castle for an unforgettable holiday

      84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – nonfiction; letters between a NYC writer and a British book dealer

      The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows – epistolary novel about the Isle of Guernsey during and after the Nazi occupation

      1. Blue wall*

        I read the Miss Buncle series a few months ago (hard to track down at the library!) and it was the most delightful thing I’ve read in a while. I’ve also read and loved all the other books that RetiredAcademicLibrarian posted here — yay to similar book tastes!

        1. Mephyle*

          I should check this out, but I haven’t yet. I heard that the audio dramatization of Miss Buncle’s Book is going to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 later this month.

      2. Lexi Vipond*

        If you like D. E. Stephenson then you might like O. Douglas’s ‘Priorsford’ books (or other books, it can be a bit hard to say where Priorsford ends!)

      1. Makare*

        If you like Jane Austen-type books, I’m reading Middlemarch by George Eliot for the first time and really enjoying it. As with Austen, all the conflicts are low stakes in the bigger scheme of things (though of course they are vitally important for the people in the small community involved), tons of incredible character studies (every new character is introduced and you get one impression of them, and then you spend a chapter looking at things from their point of view and get a much fuller picture of their flaws and virtues). I did not expect to like it as much as I am! Also Eliot does a great job writing about the dynamics between men and women in a way I did not expect of a Victorian novel.
        If you enjoy young adult writing, I always recommend the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. The first is probably middle grade level, but they quickly mature and deal with more serious themes in later books. The characters and worldbuilding are delightful.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Ah, yes! “Middlemarch” is among my favorite classics, and I do re-read that one – though for general coziness, Austen fits the bill perfectly.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          When I read Middlemarch for the first time, I couldn’t wait to finish so I could read it again!

      2. GoryDetails*

        I love du Maurier, though I don’t always find her work “cozy”; sometimes I’m in the mood to re-read “Rebecca,” but even on re-reads the ramping tension is unsettling. And my favorite of hers, “The House on the Strand,” is just flat-out unsettling – an excellent, unusual read, but I couldn’t call it “cozy”.

    8. Hlao-roo*

      Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk is about a woman living in a remote Polish village and takes place in the winter and spring.

      Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik is a riff on Rumpelstiltskin with three young women as the protagonists. It also takes place largely in winter.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Love this series, but I find if I read too many in a row, I get irritated with the main character.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Me too! I find her more irritating/less sympathetic as the series goes on
          But the one about the witch is the BEST.
          You can easily read the first 5 or 6 without irritation, I think.

        2. don'tbeadork*

          Yes, after a while I wondered what her husband saw in Lori. I just want to shake her until her teeth rattle sometimes. I stopped reading after the western one — were there more?

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

      The “Lucia” novels by E.F. Benson — small-town village life in 1920s and 1930s England with minor kerfuffles that all get easily resolved. P.G. Wodehouse novels (with content warning of occasional racist imagery and tolerance of fascism). One of my favorites is *Leave It to Psmith*, which as far as I recall has no racism or fascism in it.

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

        Also, they’re not technically “cozy” mysteries, but I find Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries to have a cozy feel to them. Content warning: a few mysteries — *Too Many Cooks*, *A Right to Die*, and the short story “Christmas Party” — all deal with racism, though Wolfe himself comes out with an anti-racist stance.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Is that Mapp and Lucia? I just read Benson’s How Fear Departed The Long Gallery for the uppity-umpth time and keep meaning to pick up more of his stuff.

        1. Clisby*

          Yes – the BBC adaptation was called “Mapp and Lucia,” but it’s based on 6 of Benson’s books.

    10. somehow*

      Anything by Anne Tyler. Matter of fact, the first book of hers I read was “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant,” while buried under the covers on a cold weekend. Same for “Saint Maybe,” another book of hers I treasure.

    11. Donkey Hotey*

      Either the Wayfarers series or the Monk and Robot series by Becky Chambers. Both series are like a hug in book form. I know that specific fiction isn’t often cozy but these are my comfort books.

      1. GoryDetails*

        The “Monk and Robot” books are the epitome of “cozy” – hopeful and sweet and quite delightful!

    12. tangerineRose*

      Donna Andrews’ bird mysteries are fun and interesting. JoAnna Carl’s chocolate mysteries. Krista Davis has 3 fun series. Vicki Delany (also writes as Eva Gates).
      Jenn McKinlay, who also writes as Josie Belle .
      Jennie Bentley, Emily Brightwell, Carola Dunn, Betty Hechtman, Amanda Lee, Virginia Lowell, Margaret Scherf, Leann Sweeney.

    13. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

      If you do romcom at all, Meg Cabot has a terrific run of workplace romances (not harass-y, I promise! The romances develop outside work but the books are largely set in offices and told through email) – they are in a shared universe but focus on different characters, and they are FULLY DELIGHTFUL. They have totally generic titles, sadly. The first one is The GuyNext Door which also has a dog plot.

    14. noncommittal pseudonym*

      The Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton. Yes, the first one is Aunt Dimity’s Death, but they are pure cozy. There’s usually a “mystery” of some sort, though not always a murder.

    15. Lover of old cozy books*

      For humorous cozy old school writers like Betty McDonald (The Egg and I, The Plague and I, Anybody can do Anything, and Onions in the Stew) and Patrick Dennis (Auntie Mame and Around the World with Auntie Mame).

      Cozy detective/crime by authors: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, Marjorie Allingham, Patricia Wentworth. Perhaps not quite cozy, the books of P D James are very absorbing.

      Paul Gallico Mrs Harris books (Paris and New York). Nancy Mitford. Muriel Spark. Joyce Grenfell memoirs.

      Georgette Heyer and LM Montgomery, the authors who can capture human characteristics and quirks so well, there is so much humor in Heyer. LM Alcott as well.

    16. WestsideStory*

      Anything by Barbara Pym, or Margery Sharp – two underrated authors whose works are hard to find now, but beautiful novels built around ordinary women whose lives don’t seem so different, despite the fact they were penned decades ago.

      1. Lover of old cozy books*

        Yes to Barbara Pym and E F Benson. James Herriot books are a lovely gentle entertaining read too.

    17. Chocoglow*

      Depending on what sort of books you’re looking for, I personally love The Elemental Masters series, starting with The Serpent’s Shadow. Fairy tale retellings set in Victorian England with magic and some sweet romance.

    18. Mephyle*

      Eva Ibbotson (not her children’s books). I may have left some out, but these are ones that I know are not for children. I’m sure they’re very good too, as she was a gifted writer but these are more for young people (of every age up to elderly) than for children.
      • A Countess Below Stairs / The Secret Countess
      • The Reluctant Heiress / Magic Flutes
      • A Company of Swans
      • Madensky Square
      • The Morning Gift
      • The Dragonfly Pool

    19. GythaOgden*

      Late here but anything by Bill Bryson, particularly his older books. He’s a great raconteur; he got his start in writing travel books where he spent time just behaving like an ordinary tourist, and they even made a film of his Walk in the Woods book about his hijinks on the Appalachian Trail. More recently he’s covered Shakespeare and the body in his cosy style, emphasising trivia and amusing anecdotes over more serious journalism or pontification. One of his first books was Mother Tongue, an anecdotal exploration of the English language (and how changing one letter can turn a Hungarian word for a perfectly innocuous item into a word more often used when you hit your fingers with a hammer!).

      I enjoyed travelling around a lot while I was at uni and into my 20s, even doing the Eurorail jaunt that many British students do in the summer at uni but still picking a country or two to do it in all the way up to when I finally met my husband, and so Bryson’s travelogues can be relatable, funny and unchallenging and thus make good comfort reads. He’s incredibly un-pompous and that’s always a plus for me.

    20. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I like the first 12 Comfortable Courtesan books by L.A. Hall. I got lost in all the follow-ons, so normally I just stick with the main series.

      1. OtterB*

        Love these.

        I like the follow-ons too, but did have a problem getting lost in the generations. I reread and they sorted themselves out eventually.

    21. Phryne*

      Recently finished The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer and can recommend it to you as a warm hug in front of a cosy fire. Just one warm drink of chocolate, goes down a treat and leaves you warm and fuzzy.

  4. Aphrodite*

    For me, October 1 is the beginning of the holidays. That means (1) autumn from October 1 through the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend; (2) Thanksgiving from November 1 through the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend; (3) Christmas from the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend through the to the last week of the year.

    Covid changed so much for me as it probably did for a lot of people. I stopped all gifts, both giving and receiving. I had stopped—but really, really want to start again this year—participating in all kinds of events from free church concerts to strolling our main street all the lights and musicians and other things to attending theatre productions of Nutcracker and to rereading and attending a performance of A Christmas Carol, attending artistic fairs, and much more. But I will hopefully. be doing that with much caution in mind too. I hate the idea of missing it all again so we’ll see.

    At home, I decorate for autumn and for Christmas but I’ve given up anything that requires much more than minimal work. Decorations are out but they are elegant rather than cutesy, fewer rather than more, and make my heart sing. I do love to buy real pumpkins but that’s because there’s a guy here who has a rescue for sulcata tortoises—his wife runs a well-respected cat rescue—and these tortoises absolutely love pumpkins and squash. So every year he posts on NextDoor asking for leftover uncut pumpkins and people give him a lot. Last year I think he collected more than 1,000 pounds and posted pictures of the tortoises going mad for them. It’s become part of my tradition now too to visit there and drop them off.

    What do you do? Have you changed things? Are you thinking about the holidays yet or do you groan at the idea of starting now.

    1. nnn*

      Oh I would love to hear what decorating people do for Halloween, if you do decorate! I don’t usually but I’m thinking of doing it this year.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I get mine pumpkins, draw faces on them, and put them on my fence posts. Also some weird shaped squash which I arrange by the door.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Husband goes NUTS for Halloween. For a few years he built a Blasted Oak out of coat hangers and construction paper (finally gave that up when he bought a giant skeleton to hang over the TV) and just strings up bats and lights and what have you all over. The rule is, nothing before October 1 and it all has to come down November 1 so there’s a breather before Christmas.

        The only thing we don’t do is carve pumpkins because Peanut won’t leave them alone.

      3. Queer Earthling*

        We’ve had our Halloween stuff up since earlier this month! We’ve got some decorative fake pumpkins, Halloween-colored fake floral arrangements, the ubiquitous anatomically nonsensical animal skeletons, and a wreath on the front door that we made shaped like a moon, with a foam black cat in the middle. We rent, so we can’t decorate outside much, but inside is a lot of little things mixed in with our normal stuff.

        We also have two black cats that we joke are Halloween decor, but we generally leave those out year-round.

      4. Trixie Belden was my hero*

        Fall is my favorite!
        This is my 1st fall in my new place and I was so psyched to finally put out my pumpkins. I usually wait til after Labor Day, but jumped the gun on Aug 30. I add some Halloween stuff on 1 Oct and then on Nov 1 put away the Halloween and keep the “fall stuff” til after Thanksgiving. Then Christmas stuff til Jan 6.
        I used to go all out, but have scaled back the quantity a lot to only my absolute favorites for all holidays, got rid of the cutesty, cheap stuff. Trying to keep the less is more aesthetic. However this is my first time I have a front porch and yard. Not sure what I’m going to do, I had switched my decorating from holidays to seasons years ago.

    2. A very tall giraffe*

      I miss the whole excitement around hallowe’en, and fall in general, now that the kids have fledged.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Me too! Since we don’t do Christmas we let our daughter go wild over Halloween and then my maker/tinker husband realized there was an opportunity to build things and we ended up being That House on our block. Nothing too creepy, although the motion-activated zombie pirate that sits up when someone walks past is a little much for the teeniest trick-or-treaters. And the kid had party every year from third grade through 11th. For the last one the whole group of girls dressed as the Pink Ladies from “Grease” and went trick-or-treating in stiletto heels. Then they played some version of tag in the dark backyard, also in heels. Ah, teenage dancers with excellent coordination and calluses on their feet…

        ….anyway, I really miss it.

    3. California Dreamin’*

      I’ll get out my Halloween decorations this weekend, then November 1 I’ll switch to Thanksgiving (this consists just of a collection of various decorative turkeys on the fireplace mantel, though I’d like to add a fall wreath to the front door this year) and then Thanksgiving weekend I get out Christmas decorations and dishes, though we don’t get our tree until early-mid December.
      My kids like to tease me for my “tasteful” Halloween decorations because I would never allow stuff that was gory or particularly scary or monster-y and instead told them over and over that when they’re grown-ups they can get whatever Halloween decor they like for themselves. My Halloween “style” is more like ceramic Jack-o-lanterns, simple small skeletons, ravens (or crows?) on the mantel. I have quite a lot amassed over my kids’ younger years, but this year I’ll probably only put out a few. I wondered aloud to my daughter whether I’d bother decorating for Halloween after she goes to college in a couple years, and she was horrified that I’d stop!
      Last year my neighbors acquired one of those huge, giant skeletons for the front yard. It looks pretty cool, but I can’t imagine storing it all year!

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Mostly we just change Holidaysaurus Rex, the porch dinosaur. He’s been in a grilling apron and baseball cap with tongs and a fake cheeseburger since Memorial Day, but for Halloween we dress him up as Yoda. My favorite is his Thanksgiving gear though – he has a big fan of felt tail feathers that I made for him, and a false beak that goes over his nose with a wattle hanging off one side, to dress him up like a big turkey. :) After Thanksgiving we put his Santa hat and scarf back on – he was originally a Christmas decoration, so that’s what came with him.

      The first year I had him out, come February, my husband was like “Okay, we aren’t going to be those jerks who leave the Christmas decorations up all year round.” I said “Ok, what if he’s NOT a Christmas decoration?” Bemused, husband replied “Well, I guess that would be okay then?” and that was how he got himself signed up to change the dinosaur’s outfit every couple of months :) (His Easter bunny costume is also hilarious and involves a tiny puff of a bunny tail clipped onto the end of his own tail.)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          He’s very popular! Especially between Halloween and Christmas I get a lot of “I love your dinosaur!” from delivery folks. :) he used to light up, but after 6 years his lights have burnt out.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              We don’t, mostly because after Christmas we get lazy and don’t change him up again until either St Patrick’s (green tinsel top hat and a pot of gold) or Easter (bunny ears, a basket of eggs and a little fluffy tail), whichever comes first that year. But it is an excellent idea. :)

              At one point I bought a pair of white wings in a post-Halloween clearance with the intent that we could rig him up like Cupid for Valentine’s Day, with wings and a little bow and arrow with a heart-shaped head, but it never happened and I think the wings got lost in a garage cleanup.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        Perhaps we could also have Holidaysaurus Miniataurus: The Lawn Flamingo Version–
        aka #NEWLIFEGOAL for those of us who live in small homes and/or lack a suitable outdoor display place.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I mean, traditional is the cement goose. You can absolutely dress up any sort of random critter you like for the holidays :)

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Between Sept. 1 and autumn solstice I get out fall decorations, then some time in October I add Halloween stuff. I have a planter on my porch that has a different faux floral arrangement for each season, and then candles and little shelf tchotchkes (mostly pumpkins right now) and seasonal Target birds. Last year I got purple/orange/green string lights for my living room windows and this year I’m adding an outdoor garland thing with purple lights and spiderweb gauze. Halloween stuff goes away in November but the other fall stuff is out until after Thanksgiving when I switch to Christmas, which has TONS more decor :)

    6. Sloanicota*

      Decorative gourds and u-pick pumpkins. For years I had an iguana and delighted in feeding him pie pumpkin as the highlight of Halloween (no kids here) – last year I had for the first time a dog that loves pumpkin so I baked him one and he was soooo excited about it and I was so happy too. I probably could have been trying to give some to my cat all along but she’s pickier and really only gets excited about fish. Also, I’m thrilled to finally have nerd friends who are excited to dress up for the renaissance festival with me.

    7. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I am kinda tired already! Planning and organizing is not my strong suit. I have bought a single seasonal gourd and set it on the table. That is all.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        My husband had tiny pumpkin with a face drawn on it for years named Umberto. We put little hats on him–a buckle hat for Thanksgiving and a little holly wreath for Christmas. When he went The Way of All Gourds, he replaced him with a white pumpkin named Ghost of Umberto and he’s still going strong!

    8. Ellis Bell*

      I have a lit up twig tree that I use to celebrate the seasons and equinoxes. There’s Christmas decorations for it in December, and painted glass eggs in the spring. I don’t have anything autumnal yet but I’m keeping my eye out for tiny red apples.

    9. GoryDetails*

      My decorating/holiday customs have changed over the years, especially when it became harder to get family together. (I do like to do a little seasonal decorating on my own behalf, but I seldom summon the energy for a fully-decked Christmas tree or Thanksgiving dinner if there won’t be more of an audience!)

      I do love Halloween – even though my neighborhood has few young kids anymore, and I haven’t seen a trick-or-treater in years. This year I found a very handsome life-size articulated skeleton at Home Depot, and couldn’t resist it; I plan to place it in the overgrown vines on my fence, looking as if it’s trying to climb out, but we’ll see how well it fits. [Also picked up a pair of skeleton hands at a Halloween store, which should wrap around a pumpkin nicely… now to go buy the pumpkin!]

      One year I was inspired by a Halloween-decorating book to assemble a bunch of different-sized pumpkins into the form of a surprisingly-effective giant scorpion, but I’m not sure I’ll try that this year…

      My sister’s family does “vintage Halloween” decorations, everything from miniature haunted villages to posters; goes well with their horror-stories-and-films collection!

    10. Nicki Name*

      Mr. Name has located a new supplier of the Halloween-themed candy we hand out every year. I have very strong feelings about not handing out just normal candy that has seasonally colored wrappers.

    11. GythaOgden*

      I must admit that I grab mince pies in the shop if I see them this early!

      I’m kind of the opposite though. My birthday is 25 October and I am therefore going away for Halloween this year as a theme park has a Fright Night, but it’s not big a deal in the UK, so I bypass that one. Bonfire Night is not the sort of thing you celebrate until the day itself, and I’m not keen on fireworks so I usually don’t bother going anywhere (not afraid, just not into it) and Remembrance Day/Sunday is not a celebration, just a commemoration. I’m a bit more of the opinion that people shouldn’t start Christmas excitement until after Remembrance, although it’s not the sort of thing I can impose on others.

      I’m definitely not a Grinch — I have an advent calendar and lately have been getting gaming themed ones that have small tchotchkes in them rather than just chocolate. I love the way my bus service decorates random buses and the drivers wear Santa costumes. I put my tree up earlier than we used to at home. But since I’m usually at my mum and dad’s for Christmas Eve (my dad’s birthday, so quite a significant family holiday) then at my in-laws (hubby died a few years ago :'( but his family is lovely and like Ruth in the Bible I felt it was my responsibility to fill the gap they had in their lives) for the day itself, but over the actual festival, it’s kinda pointless to really go all out for stuff I won’t be in my own home to celebrate.

      Last year I did inaugurate Big Kid’s Christmas, where I put out presents from work, pick and mix gummy sweets and a big tin of Quality Street chocolates (like THE traditional Christmas chocolate box in the UK) to enjoy by myself. It’s the one time of year I let myself just eat sweets like a child and so it something I look forward to after everything else is over. This year, with a job that allows me to work from home rather than having to do the graveyard shift at the office, I might establish a new tradition. I might still have to work from home — NHS admin doesn’t shut down over those three days because clinical work doesn’t stop, but many people do have a shutdown — but it’s a chance to do something Christmassy around others.

    12. londonedit*

      It’s really interesting to hear about everyone decorating for autumn etc as it isn’t really a thing here. We don’t have ‘the holidays’ as it’s just Christmas here – people decorate for Christmas, but usually not before December (unless you’re particularly keen!) Halloween has become bigger every year and people might decorate, but just for the day, and it’s only really people with primary-age kids who do pumpkins etc for trick-or-treating (the generally accepted rule here is that you don’t knock on people’s doors if they don’t have at least a pumpkin on display).

      I guess some people will put up an autumn wreath or something, but it’s not really a big thing to decorate your house for autumn. Christmas is the big one. We have Bonfire Night on November 5th but again that’s not a thing you decorate for – you just go to a local fireworks display, maybe have some small sparklers and fireworks in your garden with something autumnal to eat like sausages or jacket potatoes or if you’re northern, Parkin (which is like a dense and sticky ginger cake).

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I picked up a German magazine the other day which was an Autumn special, with some Halloween recipes aimed at children. (Meringue ghosts and sausages wrapped in strips of pastry to make mummies) The rest was about spending time out of doors.

        There are more Halloween items in the shops than there used to be, such as novelty pumpkin mugs and bowls, spiders and skeletons but trick or treat isn’t a thing here. 1st November is a public holiday though, so the local cinema does a special horror film bill and the bars and clubs promote late night opening.

        1. GythaOgden*

          I was in Poland for a couple of years and 1 November is also their All Souls’ Day holiday — literally called Day of the Dead but very different from the Mexican tradition.

          The first year I didn’t know anyone as I’d only been in the country a month so went to Prague for the weekend, because everything in Czechia was still open (it was also a bit of a novelty just being able to hop on a train and be in a new country within a few hours; it is overnight from Warsaw, but like leaving late at night and getting in early morning overnight so it still counts. In Great Britain you can’t do that very easily unless you want to get your feet wet). The second year, I was invited to a proper Dzień Zmarłych family gathering — we went out and put znicze, candles in coloured glass, on graves and then went home and ate until we burst. I had to go home shortly beforehand to arrange a visa to stay on at the English-language school I worked for, and flying back into Warsaw was amazing — coming down over a graveyard after dark you could see the hundreds and hundreds of little znicze twinkling just before touching down at Chopin Airport.

          (I didn’t actually live in Warsaw — I was actually in Łódź, a city not too far away but very different from the capital, since it was built up later in the 19th century and survived the war because the Germans left in too much of a hurry to do to it what they did to Warsaw — which had a higher proportion of its buildings flattened than Hiroshima — and the Soviets wanted to capture most of the factories there intact to put them use themselves. It’s also where the Polish film industry was centred after the war and although that twit Polanski grew up in Krakow, he is the leading light of that city before going to the US and then being an unspeakable villain to other people. It’s probably the only place where he isn’t persona non grata, and even then I’m not honestly sure how what they really think about him.)

    13. Payroll Guru*

      I have wee bit of a decorative pumpkin problem, but I can and do leave them out all the way until the Friday after Thanksgiving.

    14. allathian*

      I must admit that I’m a bit of a Grinch when it comes to decorating for the holidays… The only holidays we decorate for is Christmas, and I don’t want to see any Christmas stuff before the last weekend in November (often 1st Sunday in Advent). I’m not religious at all, but any earlier than that, and I’m sick of Christmas before we even get there.

      Halloween has never been a thing for me because I didn’t grow up with it. Here it’s purely a commercial holiday to get people to buy candy and watch horror films. That said, as late as 100 years ago, the Finnish pagan harvest festival, Kekri, was a bigger festival period in some parts of the countryside than Christmas. Traditionally, Kekri was celebrated when the harvest had been put into storage rather than any particular date, but in the 19th century and later Kekri was celebrated around Michaelmas (29 September) in Eastern Finland and All Saints’ Day (Saturday between 31 October and 6 November) in Western Finland. This was because immediately following the harvest, even the poorest of the poor usually had enough to eat and something to celebrate.

      For Easter, we usually plant a plateful of ryegrass and decorate it with miniature chocolate eggs and chickens. We have a similar tradition to trick or treating at Easter, in that kids go around dressed as witches, rabbits, or sometimes chickens on either Palm Sunday or Easter Sunday, depending on the part of the country. They give away willow twigs that are decorated with dyed feathers and miniature Easter eggs to wish people good luck for the year. As payment for a short “blessing” the kids get candy.

      That said, Halloween is getting more popular because the fall is long, dark, and dreary, and in Southern Finland can last from mid-September until mid-January (winter only starts when we get a permanent snow cover) if we’re unlucky, and many people want a joyful celebration before Christmas.

  5. Alexiiiiiiiiii5*

    Hello! I currently fall under the poverty bracket and am trying to get creative to make ends meet. (Earning additional income will force me over the bracket and I can’t job search currently due to health reasons.) I’m open to any creative suggestions for stretching funds!

      1. Rosyglasses*

        Yes this – when I was a single mom I found a small local farm and traded a few hours of volunteer work each week for a weekly CSA bundle. Maybe also if you are computer savvy offering to post eBay or Poshmark for folks in return for a small fee which would be under the table.

        1. Jessica*

          I have way too much stuff and I’m mostly just goodwilling it because it takes all the time and organizational prowess I can scrape together just to do that, but if I had someone with spare time who could sell stuff on ebay, I’d gladly split the take 50-50. I can’t be the only one..

          1. Christmas cookie*

            If OP lived near me I’d pay her 60/40 or honestly something like “whatever you make over $50 is yours” to list things like a bunch of old and not valueless but not high value coins. I’m trying to get my 10 year old to do it.

          2. Might Be Spam*

            I could use that kind of help, too. I think my downstairs neighbors might be resellers and I would pay them to help.

    1. Jay*

      Do you live somewhere where wild harvesting foods is possible? Foraging for plants, catching fish, etc.?
      When I lived in rural North Carolina, quite a lot of people I knew got the overwhelming majority of their food that way.
      Every citizen of the state was permitted by law a certain, very small, amount of various commercial fishing gear and you could upgrade that substantially for a very small fee. It was highly regulated and you couldn’t sell anything you caught, but it was enough that you would be able to get a steady supply of fish and crabs whenever the river wasn’t iced over (which, being the Carolinas, was seldom indeed).
      Add in hunting, trapping, foraging, and planting whatever you could wherever you could (some friends and I TOTALLY didn’t have an illegal vegetable patch in an isolated chunk of woods just outside of town that everyone nearby pretended they didn’t know about).
      I also used to make extra money by fixing up furniture I found by the side of the road/in the trash. Just did some basic cleaning, sanding, repainting, minor maintenance. I would sell it cheap to a buddy of mine who had a table at a local flee market and he would sell it there and pocket the difference.

        1. Ontariariario*

          We have something locally where volunteers organize (I think through facebook?) to pick fruits and veggies on properties where the owner has offered it. The food is split between the owner, a food bank, and the pickers. Volunteers can decide where, when, and what they want to pick. Hopefully there is something similar near you.

          1. Rosyglasses*

            Yeah in Portland there is a group called Urban Gleaners. I think if you were to google “Gleaners” in your area there might be a similar group that collects food to distribute, whether from gardens, trees, community gardens, or restaurant leftovers.

        2. cabbagepants*

          This might be way off the deep end but where I live you can sign up to be called when a deer is killed by a car and you can come get it to eat. Obviously they do it for fresh kills (when the driver can confirm that it just happened) and not, like, a random carcass off the side of the road.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            That deer would need to be skinned and butchered, then the meat stored in a huge, high-quality freezer. Sometimes “free” is pretty damned expensive.

            1. Jay*

              Depends on how many people are splitting the meat.
              You get a bunch of people working together, especially if a couple are experienced, the work gets done quickly and easily enough. If you can find someone who will let you do the work on their property (usually for a cut of the kill) it makes things even easier. Then you look to any other friends/family in the area who wouldn’t mind storing some deer steaks for you in exchange for a having a couple for their own use.
              Long story short, you won’t get a whole deer to yourself, but you will fill your freezer (and maybe some friends and relatives freezers) and so will several other people. You all sign up and you all work together every time somebody gets one, and everybody eats venison on the regular.

      1. Generic Name*

        In a similar vein, see if there are local farms that do gleaning. Meaning after the harvesting machines and professional crews come through, there’s often some crop left. Some farms allow people to come and glean the rest.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        I know when we were growing up very poor in Massachusetts we used to fish for whatever was running in the local streams. Nets usually, if I recall correctly.
        Hen of the woods mushrooms are very easy to identify and nothing else looks like them. They’re usually huge, so lots of food that you can saute and toss with pasta for a really good cheap meal. I second all the recommendations to try to get out of the city and forage a bit.
        Around here there are also tons of fruit trees on public land that no one ever does anything with. We used to go pick and make applesauce, peach jam, pear jam, cobblers, cake etc. We got a lot of free mason jars from neighbors.
        Good luck!

    2. Anono-me*

      Lots of libraries now check out stuff. Cake pans, tools. etc. If you need something rarely that might be an option.

      If you pay your own utilities, look into a home energy audit. (Where I am, they are subsidized for people with low income as are some of the energy saving actions. ) You would be amazed at what a little expanding foam in the right place can do for your utility bill. Also if where you are is cold plastic over the windows helps a lot and I saw some at the dollar store last week.

      Phone plans, mass transit passes and many other things are subsidized or available at a reduced rate for people with financial hardship. If you are spending money on it, it is worth checking on for that bill.

      If you are able to do you and there is a fruit tree going unpicked in a neighbor’s yard. ask if you can do a 50/50 pick and share (The formal program mentioned above sounds great, but it isn’t the only way.)
      Vegetable garden if weather, space, and health allow. If space is the only obstacle, is there a community garden plot available?

      I don’t know if these would be legally considered income or not: Check all of the class action settlements. Do any of them apply to you? (I know for many that it is only $5-$10; but I am assuming from your post that you are at a stage right now where you’re not just stretching every dollar, you have them each do contortionist tricks. )
      Chech the unclaimed property lists of every place that you have ever lived. If you find something, you will have to jump through a few hoops to claim it.

      1. Pocket Mouse*

        Seconding unclaimed property. If you’re in the US (and maybe parts of Canada?) go to unclaimed dot org and searching EVERY state or province you’ve ever used an address in. Try a couple different spellings of your name, just your last name, etc.

      2. WestsideStory*

        Poster has mentioned they live in a city, fruiting trees and garden space may be difficult to find. What may be workable:
        – look for local food pantries (you might ask religious orgs near you for recommendations) as, at least in my city, no one is turned away or asked for ID. The only drawback is these are often open on weekdays only since they are aimed at people who don’t have jobs to go to.

        – consider volunteering at a food pantry or food co-op or even a soup kitchen; volunteers do get taken care of, either by discounts or giveaways or just a hot meal, and these organized charities can also point you in the direction of other services you may be eligible for.

        Whatever you do, don’t feel shabby that you need ANY service you are eligible for. Remind yourself that when you are back on your feet that you can pay it forward.

    3. Forensic13*

      There’s a graphic novel called Poorcraft that has a lot of these tips! You might find it at your local library.

      Also, your local library! There might be a lot of things you can get there for free or nearly so; not just entertainment, but internet access, there can be electronics you can rent, and other services.

    4. Lbd*

      Family cloths! A substitute for toilet paper. The buzzfeed article that came up under a google search has a pretty accurate account of what it is like using them. My difference was that instead of buying and sewing them, I cut up a favourite, softer-than-soft tshirt that sadly was no longer wearable (the softer the better). Bonus is that tshirt material doesn’t fray if it isn’t hemmed. I worried about the additional laundry, but I add them to loads with tshirts, underwear, pyjamas etc, and they are small enough that I don’t really notice a difference in the size of the load. And they are really comfortable to use.
      I am sorry that life is difficult for you right now, and I hope that things look up for you soon.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        And do you wash these in the communal washing machine at home? Do you use Lye? I’m so intrigued.

        1. Generic Name*

          My understanding is they are used in conjunction with a bidet (which can be a clean dish soap bottle that you aim water at your bottom) and the cloth just dries the water. I cloth diapered my son and washed the diapers at home, and I did the loads on high temp wash, and it wasn’t a big deal.

    5. Christmas cookie*

      Could you do any kind of under the table work? Yard work, babysitting, house sitting, pet sitting, dog walking, etc?

      We pay our babysitter $25/hr, cash.

      1. EA*

        This is what I was going to say. Tutoring and homework help is another good one. Could even be done online. A friend of mine got a gig picking up a kid from school and spending 3-4:30pm with him each day before his parents got home from work, and she loved it – steady work and paid all in cash.

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      I used to be in that situation. It was pre-facebook, but the city I lived in had a “swap and shop” sponsored by a local women’s club. On the 3rd Saturday you could go and pick out clothes and household items that people had donated. (It was for clients of the food pantry.)
      I suppose nowadays you could look for a buy-nothing site on Facebook or see if your area has Freecycle.

    7. The teapots are on fire*

      Get The Tightwad Gazette from the library. It was compiled in the early 1990s but is still valid. A lot of large and small tips on keeping a grocery price book, cooking from scratch, when to avoid the dryer, saving in water bills, clothing, and heat—-I found it hugely valuable.

    8. NotBatman*

      Buy Nothing groups on Facebook can be a godsend. People post items they want to get rid of, and also requests for items a neighbor is likely to be giving away (e.g. old coats, scrap wood).

    9. Constance Lloyd*

      Good and Cheap, a cookbook by Leanne Brown, is one of my favorite things. You may be able to find it at your library, but she also offers a PDF version for free if you sign up for her newsletter. I’ll link in a reply, but in the meantime you can also go to: Leanne brown . Com / all-about-good-and-cheap / #free, removing the spaces of course. It’s a cookbook designed around feeding folks who use nutrition assistance programs. While it’s not a meal plan, the recipes are written to be highly adaptable, because of course an important element of keeping a low grocery budget is shopping sales and using what you have on hand.

      For anyone in the position to buy a hard copy, they also work to donate copies to folks who need it. This book got me through 3 years of supporting 2 people on $35k a year. Since purchasing my own copy, it’s been my go to gift for the young adults in my life moving out of their parents’ homes for the first time. The food is genuinely good, and in addition to being budget conscious it also does a great job of teaching the basic building blocks of cooking for one’s self.

    10. NYC Redhead*

      I know from questions here that yoga studios will sometimes offer free classes to volunteers. You could also look into volunteering as an usher at a local theatre, which by me means that you see the show for free.

    11. BlueMeeple*

      When I was a student and on a low budget, a friend and I used to have meals together. One of us would buy half the components, the other the rest, and then we would have the meals at one of our flats.

      This is getting harder with some things going cashless, but I find it much easier to budget with cash than card. I can see how much is left.

      Martin Lewis, a UK finance expert, published a guide to the Cost of Living Crisis, and that has loads of great tips in. His whole website is a mine of useful, practical and compassionate information.

    12. Freebeast*

      Gift economy online groups could be a good place to look. Buy Nothing and Giving with Integrity groups on Facebook are local places to ask for things. I was able to get a Thanksgiving meal there last year. If you need something, they also allow requests. I haven’t experienced this personally, but the goal is to create a hyper-local community so you just get more practiced sharing with neighbors regularly. Freecycle is also worth looking at, although it is more or less active depending on where you live.

      Thanks for asking and sharing–I’m in a similar boat, and it’s a very difficult spot to be in.

    13. Clare*

      In a month’s time stores will be trying to get rid of Halloween themed tat. Sometimes you can get perfectly functional things like brand new glassware and tshirts for 90% discounts. They’re not somehow unusable on the first day of November because they have a spiderweb and a pumpkin on them. Craft stores and homewares stores are good for this. The sales are usually limited to about two days after Halloween and the rest goes to either storage or landfill (tragically), so you have to be quick. The same applies for other themed holidays.

    14. GythaOgden*

      One thing I found useful when I found myself widowed was a smart meter. My electric provider made us install one a few years back, but it helps monitor the actual cost and only be charged for what you use.

      It helped to get a real feel for what made a difference and what didn’t — I’m in the UK and so things may be different, and I function better in low light rather than bright light anyway, but appliances that plug into outlets use far less electricity than those hardwired into the mains. My provider is 100% renewable so I’m not worried about environmental impact so much as cost, and it helps that my dad grew up very poor (like, outdoor toilet poor) so taught me good habits about not leaving lights on when they weren’t necessary. If I mess up and leave the kitchen light on all day (like it’s still dark when I leave for work and I’ve made sandwiches and I just forget to turn it off and get back 12 hours later because crappy job + crappy commute) that’s £1 on my bill that was completely unnecessary, so being really careful with electricity is worth it. I also have an electric shower so it’s actually cheaper to not use the gas an awful lot. (I also have a dishwasher so hand washing dishes is rare, but boiling water in a kettle and mixing it with cooler water in the sink is again cheaper if I need it than heating a whole tank of hot water.)

      I also got rid of my landline because I have a decent phone plan (basically one monthly fee covers calls and texts and my data allowance is so big it might as well be unlimited) and keep an eye on comparison websites and my ISP’s site to get the best deals. I know the UK is far more competitive in terms of phone and internet than the US is, but don’t underestimate the value of shopping around for utilities. I recently got rid of a few extra subscriptions I wasn’t using and although if you’re not earning a lot you’re unlikely to sign up to those sort of services, it does help.

      I hope things get better for you soon. It is somewhat about habits and really holding yourself accountable, but it is also a massive PITA and I can only guess at and sympathise with your struggles.

      1. Shake Your Lulav*

        My friend is a professional pet sitter who offers in-home overnight pet-sitting. So her primary residence is a rented room in a house, but half the time she is getting paid to stay in some rich person’s house watching Netflix with their dogs. In addition to her regular daily dog walking gig. It’s not the right lifestyle for everyone, but it’s a really nice fit for her at the moment.

    15. NaoNao*

      Many stores and restaurants have apps and the savings are always on the app! The subReddit “frugal” recommends downloading fast-food apps if you go there at all, there’s often really solid deals there.

      I just downloaded my local grocery store app, and you can clip digital coupons. I saved $18.75 by only shopping sale/coupon items and building my weekly menus around those sale items!

      Downloading apps is typically free also.

      If you need something that’s a bit pricey, set up a burner email and see if you can do the whole “sign up for X % off” type deal–there’s often substantial savings for a sign up, and the marketing emails, while annoying, do occasionally help you jump on something pricey you need for a rare lower price (like sheets, small appliances, cookware, outdoor supplies, underwear/bras, high quality socks, a coat, and so on).

  6. Satellite Internet*

    Does anyone have any experience with satellite internet? We are looking at a house that has it. I think it’s probably a no-go but was curious what others thought.

    1. PhilG*

      Hughesnet is terrible. Expensive & limited total data. Have heard good things about Starlink, but no personal experience.

      1. RC*

        I know (n=1) people who have Starlink (no other option, but seem to like it), I just can’t really get past That Dude and also how it’s destroying the night sky for astronomers in a way that’s really sad.

    2. Lemonwhirl*

      We’ve had Starlink for about two years now. (Husband is an early adopter.) It’s been great. Where we live is very windy, and we mostly don’t have problems with the dish shaking. We can get some mild disruption when it’s very stormy (wind + rain), but overall, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.

    3. uisce chick*

      We had Viasat and it was terrible but our only option in rural Virginia, expensive and slow. We have Star Link now and it’s a million times better, faster and cheaper. We too have qualms about the company but rural broadband is hopefully coming our way.

    4. WS*

      A lot of people have it where I live and I deliberately bought a house closer to town so I wouldn’t have to. It’s incredibly slow and unreliable. Recently people have been getting Starlink which is supposedly better, but I don’t really want to use something that might get turned off on a whim.

  7. Aphrodite*

    Does anyone here own or know someone who owns a countertop dishwasher? My old 24-inch one broke down a few months ago and I’ve had to resort to handwashing the dishes.

    I’d prefer to get another dishwasher but as I live alone, except for three cats, I was thinking that even though it would take up counterspace a tabletop one might work well. But it must have a stainless steel tube; ideally, it would be white on the outside.

    Consumer Reports just looked at dishwashers and Bosch filled their top slots so I guess if I end up going with a standard 24-inch dishwasher it will likely be that brand. But I wanted to consider something smaller too if it was worth it. I’ve been researching on Amazon but all of you are such a great source of information.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      In a shared vacation home, family meme Ed’s bought a Bosch—now it was 20 years ago, but I hate it! Unimpressed with the cleaning, very picky about the type of soap you can cannot use in it, and—did I say very unimpressed with the cleaning? Maybe they’ve gotten better in 20 years, but it was bought for the name/rep it had at the time.

      When I replace ours I’ll look at the drawer ones—those that have two draws let you run the smaller drawer separately or the two draws together for large loads. They’re more expensive but I’m hoping in water and electricity use it’ll make up the difference.

      1. Just here for the scripts*

        Arrrg what I wouldn’t give for an edit function

        In a shared vacation home, family members bought a Bosch

        1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

          But what did meme Ed buy? (He has a whole personality in my head now even though he is clearly an autocorrect error of extreme weirdness. I am invested!)

      2. Just here for the scripts*

        And I had a countertop one (years ago) and again was unimpressed with the cleaning—I did better on my own, and I don’t wash dishes well

      3. Dark Macadamia*

        I moved into a house that had all Bosch appliances in the kitchen and I was SHOCKED when I looked up the stove and realized how much it cost. They’re the only appliances I’ve ever hated and I can’t believe it’s an upscale brand.

    2. Gatomon*

      Eh, I’d just get the regular kind if you have a space for it. It’s just me and one cat, and I run my dishwasher maybe twice a week. I’ve found just getting more dishes (I have service for 8) allows me to actually fill it up before I run out of dishes to eat on.

      If your old dishwasher was really old and hardwired in instead of plugged in, I could see going countertop instead of having electrical work done on top of installation. All the new models require an outlet to be installed.

    3. Vio*

      I got a “Cookology Mini Counter top, Tabletop Dishwasher” from amazon UK. I was going to provide a link but unfortunately the model I bought isn’t listed anymore, there are several similar listed though. I’ve been happy with mine, I had to replace some of my cutlery that wasn’t dishwasher safe but fortunately most of my pots have been fine with it. I’d definitely recommend them, I’ve had it for over a year and haven’t had any problems.

    4. Llellayena*

      I loved my countertop dishwasher! It lasted 10 years in my apartment and I left it behind for the next tenant, still going strong. Brand was Danby. At the time I was looking, the big appliance name brands weren’t making the countertop size. There are also 18” portable ones with wheels and a butcher block top out there if you have the space. The primary limitation of the countertop ones is interior height for larger items. Measure your dinner sized dishes to make sure they’ll fit!

    5. Ellis Bell*

      I had an unbranded tabletop one years ago. I bought it from a budget supermarket when I had no money for such things, so it must have cost barely anything. It was wonderful, and I loved it; it totally outperformed the fancy full size Bosch one I have today. I never had to rinse anything, I probably frequently overloaded it, but everything always came out gleaming. It was a very simple design with the water run off coming down a tube that I had lying in the sink. I would say a good one is definitely possible to find, and reviews are your friend.

    6. FashionablyEvil*

      I think Cooks Illustrated (or maybe Wirecutter?) recently reviews countertop dishwashers. I find them both to be reliable sources of info.

    7. Courageous cat*

      Omg yes I just got one a few months ago and it changed my life. That said, I’m coming from the angle of someone who hasn’t had a dishwasher in many years.

      Either way, mine is Comfee brand on Amazon – roughly $300, and it’s been excellent. I live alone too. I don’t cook much so it takes me about 2 days to fully load it up and then run it.

      One benefit is I don’t have to hook it up to the sink. I just pour in a bunch of water and it uses that, then I drain it into a bucket (which I pour in the sink afterward). Other than that, it functions and works pretty much the same as a regular dishwasher. Highly recommend.

    8. Kara*

      Wow! I’m looking at the othert comments and maybe Bosch’s line of countertop dishwashers is subpar or something (no experience with countertop washers unfortunately), but I followed the same recommendations you are when i replaced my dishwasher last year and do not regret it in the least! It does a great job even on crusted pans and dishes, it’s almost silent, and the sterilize function is situational but handy. The only issue I’ve ever had is that the dryer doesn’t work well, but that’s probably because i don’t use a rinse aid.

    9. Clare*

      Not precisely a counter top, but my in-laws had a dish drawer at their previous house and it was excellent. Well worth the loss of a drawer. In fact, if you already have a hole where the old dishwasher went then you could install a dish drawer and gain a drawer below it.

      1. feline outerwear catalog*

        I don’t think the tubes are stainless steel, but I have an EdgeStar that I like. I had a Koldfront before which is similar but discontinued. They are very similar, and I think it might be the same manufacturer with different branding. I got mine on a recommendation from a friend. Mine hooks up to the sink and was around $200 or $250 about 5 years ago.

  8. MED*

    I’m thinking visiting Boston in November/early december

    Any recommandations of accomodations and things I should not miss ? I’me not worried about the weather at all.

    Thinking of wither flying or taking the train there.


    1. Jessica*

      Go to the Mapparium at the Christian Science Center. It’s visually and acoustically amazing, historically interesting, suitable for all ages, free, doesn’t require advance reservations, and takes less than an hour.

    2. Solokid*

      Tree lighting festival in the Common on Nov 30. Every year Halifax sends us a beautiful tree as thanks for helping in the 1917 explosion. It’s a decent event (music, food etc) even if you’re not christian.

    3. Annie Edison*

      The Isabella Stewart Gardener museum is a delightful little hidden gem. It was originally Ms. Gardener’s private home and art collection, and her will stipulated that it get turned into a museum. Very eclectic art, a gorgeous indoor courtyard, and if your name happens to be Isabella, you can get in free

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        +1000 for the Isabella Stuart Gardener museum! Also for the North End and the Freedom Trail. The New England Aquarium is fun, as is the Museum of Science and the MFA (I love the ancient Egyptian section, but it’s all great).
        Doing a Duck Tour is a super way to start and get an efficient tour of the city and then you can decide what you want to go back to.
        I hope you enjoy your time here!

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I love the Gardener Museum. I’d also recommend the Museum of Fine Arts, especially in the evening. It’s got a great vibe.

    4. Yikes Stripes*

      Even if you don’t think you’d be into it at all, I’d recommend going to a Boston Bruins hockey game. I thought I’d hate hockey, and then someone took me to a game, and now it’s my favorite sport, mostly because the live experience is *so much fun*

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Italian pastries in the North End! I loved the pie with ricotta filling from Modern Pastry, had it almost every day during my visit.

      My partner is a beer enthusiast and had lots of fun doing a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery, which also includes a tasting. It’s been years and it’s still the first thing he mentions when he talks about that trip.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Also in the North End:
        Regina Pizza. Order the Giambotta.

        Paul Revere House. Nifty little slice of history.

      2. Anonymous Educator*

        I’d highly recommend Bova’s Bakery, even if you see a bunch of tourists walking around with Mike’s Pastry boxes. It’s a bit off the beaten path, but it’s good!

    6. uisce chick*

      There’s going to be a wonderful John Singer Sargeant exhibition at the Boston Museum, October through January

    7. Nitpicker*

      If you have the time, go to the Adams historical site in Quincy. It’s run by the national park service. You can see where John Adams was born, where he and Abigail lived at the start of their marriage, and the house they came back to after their stay in France and England. Also the church where both John and John Quincy and their wives are interred. Very moving.

    8. TPS reporter*

      see the new MLK statute on the Common, walk around Beacon Hill, get a drink at the Liberty Hotel, walk on the esplanade, go to the Skywalk in the Prudential Tower, eat at many amazing restaurants in the South End (Beehive for one), see the beautiful brownstones in Commonwealth Ave, the shops on Newbury St. Old Town Trolley tours. it’s also a very walkable city, smaller than you think.

    9. Anonymous Educator*

      If you’re willing to splurge a bit for a dinner, I’d highly recommend Geppetto (not too far from the science museum).

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

      Harvard Ave. in Brookline is nice to walk around. Maybe have brunch at Zaftig’s there?

    11. NotBatman*

      If you’re going in November/December, then the Prudential Center can be a nice place to visit because it’s a MASSIVE indoor mall. I’m not much of a shopper, but I passed a few very enjoyable afternoons there when it was 0°F and sleeting outside.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      only thing I’d add: they sell these City passes (one price gets free admission to a ton of stuff). They only save money if you go in with a very specific plan and are comfortable doing multiple things in a day.

      Otherwise, Boston is lovely. Bring a raincoat and enjoy.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          The Omni Parker house is cool, centrally located and supposedly haunted, although I’ve never seen anything when I stayed there.

    13. Bluebell*

      Walk the Greenway downtown, and also cross into the Seaport area. The ICA is a cool museum there. I second the Mapparium as a hidden gem, and also love the IGSM. MassArt is right between the MFA and IGSM and they have a free museum too. If you’re into history, Salem is a fun day trip- you can take the train. Go into Cambridge if you want to wander Harvard Sq or go by MIT. Lots of good food in many neighborhoods, from Italian in N End, breweries in Everett, Portuguese in E Cambridge, and a small Chinatown. Weather on Nov/Dec is variable. Many years it doesn’t really start snowing til January, but that can change!

    14. Christmas cookie*

      Hello from Boston! I’ve been here for 15 years and now have elem aged kids here. Winter isn’t our best showing but it’s still nice! Dress warmly, bring walking shoes and good gloves.

      Eat a meal or two in the north end. Check out MIT’s museum. Poke around Harvard yard. If you like…young people things (Instagram spots) and craft beer, head to the seaport. My tween and her friends love it there.

      Dinner in the south end. I have a soft spot for Beehive but there are a lot of good places.

      If you are up for a day trip, Salem is really interesting.

      You’ll probably want seafood. Legal Seafood is an easy rec.

      College sports games are fun and cheap if you want to fill some time (plug for BC or Harvard hockey!).

      I’d skip the aquarium and focus on other great museums. ICA/MFA/Gardner for art. MIT, Harvard, Peabody…even the science museum is IMO better than the aquarium, esp in winter.

      Not sure where you are coming from but I’d vote train over plane if it’s +/- an hour. Logan cancels in bad weather OFTEN.

      1. East Coast transplant*

        Some caveats:
        Boston is expensive, and not super accessibity friendly if anyone in your group has mobility issues. Plan for breaks if needed. Benches can be hard to find because the city wants to discourage the unhoused from using them.

        Marijuana is legal, and you will smell smoke with varying strength/frequency depending on what part of Boston you’re in. It’s not as bad as other legal places I’ve visited (yet), but bring a mask if you’re sensitive/allergic or just hate the smell. Smoking in public is technically illegal, but they don’t enforce it.

        Public restrooms are scarce, so if you go to a restaurant/museum etc. that has one, go before you leave and plan your fluid intake accordingly. Most stores don’t have them at all and cafe type places will require a purchase. The public restrooms at the train/subway stations, when they exist, tend to be gross.

        Bring layers and be ready for any kind of weather, especially wind/rain. You may want a scarf if you’re walking a lot outside. The wind can be colder than you’d expect.

  9. Elphaba*

    Can anyone help me find a specific YouTube video? I have a memory of seeing a video of Willemijn Verkaik singing Defying Gravity from Wicked in Dutch, English, and German, and then also following the host’s instructions to sing in a variety of funny styles, like maybe “sing like Humphrey Bogart.” I’ve been able to find one where she sings it in three languages but not the comedic one where she also interprets the song in a variety of funny ways with a host’s (talk show host, perhaps?) prompts. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

      1. Elphaba*

        This wasn’t what I was looking for and yet it IS what I was looking for! Thank you for a delightful new video!

  10. Janet Pinkerton*

    I am seeking recommendations for how I might spend my shutdown days in the upcoming week(s?). I live in a condo and my toddler will be at daycare so I can’t go too far, but I want to take advantage of the child-free work-free time. Ideally I wouldn’t spend a ton of money, either.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      Working out
      Taking walks
      Walking and listening to audio books (any in-coming calls will break through the book)
      Binge watching shows that aren’t appropriate for young eyes (scary, sexy, graphic, etc)
      Taking an online class

    2. Sally Rhubarb*

      Visit a park or go for a short (or long, you do you) hike?

      If you live in the DMV area, there are tons of cool trails of varying degrees of difficulty. Some free, some cost a nominal fee

    3. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Little home projects that you always say you’ll get around to.
      Maybe drinking any tea you haven’t gotten around to drinking

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Revive lapsed contact with dear ones near or far. Depending on the recipient, you might end up using email, Facebook messages, text messages, or … snail mail?

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      I find Zentagle art to be incredibly soothing but also fun! There are a million videos on YouTube you can watch and then try out the patterns you like

    6. miel*

      day hikes or walks around town
      visit a museum
      try a new recipe or cook something fun (optional: invite a friend over to eat dinner with you)
      visit a friend or family (especially one who doesn’t work/ works a different schedule from you)
      one-off volunteering gig
      make art or music or write
      do a fun house project (paint a wall or cabinet, add a wall hook or a curtain)
      get some plant cuttings from neighbors and watch them grow

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It might be too late to do this, but if you like your co-workers, connect with them. They’re in the same boat and might make good hike/walk/coffee partners. My partner’s job is affected by the shutdown and he used to work out with a couple of guys at his agency– they’ll have more time for that now so they’re planning to get together.

      When I was laid off, I did some deep cleaning and organization, binged shows, watched movies, went out with friends who have non-traditional work schedules. I baked a lot of bread.

      This particular advice is DC specific: there are some museums here that will still be open, though after 10/7 it will mostly be the ones that require admission fees. If you’re a DC resident, the Rubell Museum in SW is free and quite excellent (though it closes for a bit starting on 10/11 so get in there fast). The Old Korean Legation Museum in Logan Circle is really interesting and also free. I read somewhere that the Botanic Gardens will stay open.

      If you’re not in DC, then look into museums and exhibitions in your area that are free or have free admission days. Going to museums during the week while school is in session is, frankly, delightful.

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

      Maybe get some affordable bubble bath/scented bath salts and enjoy reading in the tub without interruptions?

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah you have 45 more days to make a plan, OP :D (Boy, we on the AAM don’t always get to discuss breaking news as it happens!)

    9. Laure001*

      Writing fanfiction. Writing is wonderful, and in most fanfic sites people are kind and there’s not much pressure.

      1. Ansloan*

        I agree with this, if you’re someone who likes to write (I know there are plenty of people whose brains just don’t work that way – but if you’ve always wished to write or secretly wondered if you could write or you already write but you don’t know what you’re doing with it). Fanfiction provides a structure and a built-in audience, and you will learn so much, so fast, compared to any other approach, in a low pressure environment. I’d suggest it over NaNoWriMo or paid workshops or classes. I legit published two novels using what I learned in fanfiction.

    10. Quinalla*

      What that thing is that you can’t really do with kid around – do that!

      For me it’s usually doing some deep organizing – taking apart the pantry/kitchen and putting everything back in a better way. Organizing a corner of garage/basement. Going through kids and my clothes to clear out things that are never worn, don’t fit and noting what needs to be purchased (mostly for the kids).

      Or yeah, playing a video game that isn’t kid appropriate or one when I can’t be interrupted for long stretches. Watching kid inappropriate shows.

      Reading a book uninterrupted. I rarely read fiction anymore because it is hard for me to enjoy in 3-5 minute intervals, so I mostly listen to non-fiction or podcasts now. Grab either paper/ebook/audio book from the library for free stuff!

      Going to an art museum or some other thing like that that my kids (and husband) will hate or want to rush through and I can just take my time.

      Making a a meal just for you that you really want. Or baking or something else like that where you can just take over the whole kitchen and not have to worry about being in anyone’s way!

  11. Old Plant Woman*

    My best friend since third grade is moving to my town in an RV and will be parking at my house temporarily. She is somewhat recently widowed, sick of the big city and hot weather. Wants rain and a family. My husband is very much ok with this. I’m over the top excited, but a little nervous too. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

    1. KayDee*

      I would suggest you draw up a fairly extensive written agreement, detailing what it will look like for her to park her RV at your house. It should address things like duration of her stay, will she expect to plug in to your power and water, will she be able to use your house – kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc.
      I know she is your very good friend, but working together to set the rules and make sure everyone is in agreement on how things will work will help preserve your relationship

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I would frame it as “My good friend moved in down the street and is now a neighbor” rather than “moved in with me.” Like, eating together is an occasional thing you plan, rather than the default for every meal.

      (It might make sense to treat her as a houseguest for the first few days. But, don’t drag the “you’re a guest, I’ll plan stuff for you” phase out indefinitely.)

      1. WestsideStory*

        This is a good concept, or you can instead consider her as a “roommate” except her room is in the driveway. But you should still make it clear what’s to be expected, as you would with a roommate: will she pay any rent to you? Utilities? Need to use your bathroom/kitchen/laundry? Have clear parameters about guests or family visitors – will she be using your common areas to entertain? Are there pets involved?
        You are being a good friend but it may be helpful to have a real sit-down session with you and your husband, with perhaps a written document clarifying expectations, and setting a date to re-visit parameters a few months from now.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’d be worried this would end our friendship. I’d ask her to consider an RV park nearby instead. But then again, I don’t like spending time with my friends that much.

    4. Anonymato*

      I think that’s awesome! As long as there is a code word for all sides for when you need a break from hanging out, and some basic rules like others mentioned.

  12. Nicosloanica*

    I could use some ideas for my upcoming 40th birthday. It’s on April 10th. I’m not a big party person so I don’t think that would spark joy. What I’d prefer is to travel somewhere and spend the “big day” in some amazing natural setting. I don’t have a ton of budget so I’m thinking somewhere within a moderate flight where the lodging wouldn’t be a fortune at that time of year. I live on the East Coast (Boston). The weather is crappy here then. I’m open to a beach if that’s easiest but I would also be happy with a mountain or a lake or something, but not blizzards. Does this spark any ideas for anyone?

    1. EA*

      Nicaragua or Costa Rica! Nicaragua is way more affordable once you’re there, but flights are cheaper to Costa Rica. Both have great beaches and lakes. Ometepe Island in Nicaragua is beautiful, and San Juan del Sur has great nearby beaches and a nightlife scene, if you’re into that. Monteverde Cloud forest in CR is also wonderful.

      1. RC*

        YES THE ECLIPSE. Get thineself to totality, it is awesome in the Eddie Izzard sense (hard to get more “amazing natural setting” than that, IMO). But book quickly, things are already getting full.

      2. WoodswomanWrites*

        Yes to the eclipse! If you’ve never experienced one, it’s something not to be missed. You can look online for its path where you can view it. Find a place where the sky is typically clear and not cloudy, such as Mexico or Texas. As RC mentioned, places book up far in advance. I booked my Airbnb in a little town in Texas more than a year in advance.

    2. Gyne*

      Sedona is beautiful. Depending on how much you want to splurge, L’Auberge is on my bucket list of places to stay someday. The Hilton at Bell Rock has nice views, pool, and spa with free morning yoga classes and daily activities. But any hotel will have great views because the whole place is lovely. Lots of hiking, good food, spa things, and some woo stuff that can be fun to dive into.

    3. Yikes Stripes*

      When you say you don’t have a ton of budget, can you give a general idea? Because my definition of “not a ton of budget” means I have, like, $900 total for the entire trip including flights whereas someone else’s is going to be two or three times that.

      So, I’m going with my budget – around $1k – and I’m going to suggest, uh, going somewhere even colder than Boston? Because Iceland is really shockingly affordable around that time of year, is a 5 hour flight from Boston, and definitely has amazing natural settings. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to turn 40 than sitting in a hot spring or seeing the Northern Lights (which are still coming out to play in early April!)

    4. The Week Ends*

      Outer banks of North Carolina is beautiful, also Georgia coast and Charleston SC area. Great Smoky Mountains National Park or Asheville NC with the mountains.

    5. And thanks for the coffee*

      Niagara Falls. It’s not terribly far from Boston and it is quite a sight. Enjoy your 40th.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      The southern Utah parks, which you can access by flying into Las Vegas, which has a lot of cheap flights from everywhere.

      I am particularly thinking of Zion, which is small, and at the bottom of a canyon with a river. If you stay close to the park entrance (or inside the park) you could get away with a shuttle from Vegas to Springdale.

    7. Anon. Scientist*

      Direct flights to the Azores from Logan Airport! (thanks to longstanding Azorean connections to the north shore, south shore, and RI). Weather may be iffy (expect rain) but the scenery is fantastic and not overrun with tourists.

      1. Bluebell*

        I just got back from the Azores and the scenery was breathtaking! Flight from Logan is about same duration as Iceland, but temp is much better and food is more affordable and there will be more light. Yes it may rain, but weather is v changeable there. You could just stay on Sao Miguel, or go to more islands if you have time.

    8. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I am looking at a hop to Puerto Rico — we let our passports lapse and I think that’s the warmest place we can get to without one.

    9. Ria*

      No specific location recommendations, but a good way to find cheap flights when you’re more open-ended on location is SkyScanner’s “Explore Everywhere” feature. I think Google Flights has a similar one as well. You put in your home airport and your dates, and then click on the “To” section and choose “Explore Everywhere,” and it shows you a list of places you can fly ordered by the cheapest flights.

    10. Donkey Hotey*

      One snippet: April 7-8-9 next year is going to be a terrible travel time (the next big North American eclipse). Hotels are booked solid and airfare is significantly higher. You will save a bunch of money if you can postpone to the weekend after.

      (And happy birthday.)

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        That truly depends on where you’re going – if you’re heading somewhere the eclipse won’t be highly visible then not so much?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Expect ripple-on effects for things like car rentals–e.g. if a zillion people are heading for the totality band, rental agencies will shift cars there.

        2. Donkey Hotey*

          The eclipse is on the 8th, but people will be traveling to and from. And it cuts across most of North America, from Mazatlan to Ontario. We’re seeing higher plane fares on those days, regardless of destination, because of all the connecting flights. So yeah, if you want to get out of NA for a birthday, go for it, but I got the impression they didn’t want to go that big.

  13. Anonymous cat*

    You know how some restaurants and stores have a blurb on their receipt to go to their website and fill out a survey and you may win some money? Has anyone ever won or personally know someone who did?

    1. Sally Rhubarb*

      Not in my experience but if you had a positive experience, I highly recommend you fill them out. District Managers love to get up people’s asses if they get too many low scores (even if the reasons are stupid like “staff refused to sell my 8yr old a hamster unattended” or “had to wait 45 minutes for a table of 8 on a Sunday morning”)

      Also fun fact: usually anything less than a perfect score (5/5, 10/10) is a “failing”‘ grade.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Yeah, I would say I’d only fill one out if I was thrilled by my experience and wanted to relay positive feedback about the store/employees. Not because I was expecting to win anything and not if I was unsatisfied TBH.

    2. Amy K.*

      Yes, I won $1000 from one about 15 years ago. The notification email seemed very suspicious, but I happily got the money and nothing else. I don’t do them as often as you’d think that might encourage me to, but I do still do them occasionally.

    3. Satan’s Panties*

      I’ve been filling those out for years! Never won the drawing, but I get fuel points. Also, I take the restaurant/fast food surveys. No big money there either, but lots of free this and 2$ off that.

    4. Emily Dickinson*

      My sister’s friend won $2000. They also made a cardboard cut out of him to display at the store for a bit which was hilarious.

    5. Buni*

      I do the one that comes on the receipt of my weekly Big Shop – I’ve never won the actual money prize but you get store points just for completing it so it’s worth that at least.

    6. GythaOgden*

      Slightly different but my friend won a car from McDonald’s Monopoly. She doesn’t drive, but her partner claimed it in his name instead. All I ever won was an apple pie, and those are full of Satan’s forbidden fruit — they were so delicious and so sweet I can’t have them because I’d be ordering ten at a time. Oh yeah, and an MP3 track I couldn’t even claim because we were in Geneva on a university trip and you had to be a Swiss resident to redeem it.

      He had some really choice words for several YouTubers who claimed it was all a scam and went on their channels to contradict them. Knowing him when he’s riled up, they probably haven’t stopped seeing stars yet.

      My colleague is very lucky on the lottery as well though and it’s her equivalent of premium bonds (run by the UK government — you don’t get a fixed return on what you save, but you can win regular prizes and cash out when you want to. I cashed out my husband’s when he died and had a nice windfall of around ten grand, and I’m considering them again while the economy is too dicey to actively invest the money he left me.) Like, the most she’s won at once is £1000, but she wins little and often enough she can almost count on the income.

    7. Golden*

      I do fill out the Aldi ones honestly because I’ve heard that the managers take them seriously, at least in regards to items stocked. I’ve never met anybody that’s won anything though!

  14. Invisible fish*

    Elliptical machines:
    – recommendations for brands?
    – features it should have to be awesome?
    – magnetic vs. electric?
    – better than a treadmill?
    – where to buy?

    I’m a teacher, so assume money is very much an object!!!!!

    1. fposte*

      I love my elliptical. I’ve had it for twenty years or so and seen it through a repair of a broken weld. I’ve gone through periods where I don’t use it but I always come back to it. I like it better than a treadmill but it does take up more room (though not all models do).

      If possible, try some out at gyms (hotels with fitness centers while traveling can be an opportunity there) and get an idea of what you personally like. Mine is the most barebones analog creature ever; the only power is an AA battery that runs the little progress and speed indicators. It’s a ProForm, but I don’t know how much the company has changed or been bought in the intervening time. I don’t like video when I’m working out and I have a Bluetooth speaker in the basement anyway, so I don’t care that it has no media features, and I tend to be a “one setting to rule them all” person on machines so hardly ever even increase resistance, which is its one configurable setting.

      I got mine in town (from a now defunct store) and it was self assembly, which made it easier to bring home since it was boxed. Assembly wasn’t hard but took a while.

    2. Miss Dove*

      I love my elliptical. I never really liked my treadmill, but I loved the elliptical at the gym, so I bought an elliptical. I don’t go to the gym anymore (b/c germs) so I love having my own elliptical at home. Mine is electric. It has several modes – you can set it for difficulty and time and have it vary the difficulty automatically.

      It’s a Spirit XE-195. I think it was about $1500 several years ago, but it was worth it. I bought it from a small store that only sold exercise equipment. I was the only customer in the store, and I had a nice conversation with the salesman and he gave me a deal. I’ve been back and bought other things there too.

    3. Anon. Scientist*

      If you can wait until February or March, you have a good chance of finding something very nice secondhand at a steep discount…

      We have one because my spouse has all sorts of knee issues (old injury/surgery and congenital) and it’s way more gentle on joints. However, it does work different muscles so if it’s the primary way to exercise, you may find yourself surprisingly out of shape for hiking.

    4. lifesempossible*

      I absolutely think ellipticals are better than treadmills. Far better for controlling which HR zones you want (we use it for both fat-burning and for high-intensity cardio rounds) while also being easier on joints.

      In my area, there are always ellipticals going for free on Facebook Marketplace. We got ours where the kind soul was so desperate to get rid of it that he delivered and helped us haul it inside. Even if not free, many people getting rid of them for cheap.

      Ours is a gym-quality, which is great because we use all the resistance levels. Brand is Life Fitness. It’s heavy and takes up a bit of space, but worth it for us. I know that you’ll likely see some cheaper models that are more compact, so consider what your preferences are. Those cheaper models will not have the same resistance levels.

    5. Goose*

      Look on Facebook marketplace!! I’ve bought and sold them before and after moves and always see them posted

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      My recommendation is: check sizing and storage in your living space BEFORE you buy. Measure carefully and think about both where you want to use it and where it’s going to be the rest of the time (if, say, in the living room so you can watch TV, is there an area where it won’t be a tripping hazard?)

      I keep my exercise bike in the bedroom behind the door and drag it out a couple feet to use it. It’s completely out of the way and not noticeable the rest of the time.

  15. MigraineMonth*

    I’ve asked this before and got some great answers. There are so many people who would benefit from Alison’s advice. What are some Ask a Manager letters as written by fictional characters?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      In the film “Resurrection”, there’s a scene where Rebecca Hall’s character monologues, in great detail, about an incredibly traumatic experience that she had as a young person. The person on the receiving end of the monologue is her unfortunate intern, who is rooted to the spot in horror and shock throughout the whole thing.

      It’s a very memorable scene, and watching it, I was thinking what Alison would say if the intern wrote in. And how it would probably lead to an, ahem, extremely lively discussion in the comments.

    2. Straight Laced Sue*

      Do you mean “remind me of some posts that have been written from the perspective of a fictional character” or “write a fake post here, from the p of a f character?”

    3. Vio*

      I think any of the characters who had to manage or work with Doctor House (House MD) would benefit from asking Alison! A letter about Dexter’s (from Dexter) suspicious behaviour, possibly from Doakes, would be hilarious. Or Doctor Evil (Doctor Evil’s Sing Along Blog) asking for advice on how to join the Evil League of Evil/impress his boss Bad Horse.
      Maybe a letter from an employee of Scrooge (A Christmas Carol) confused about their boss having a sudden change of personality, worrying about whether their newfound generosity will last and what will happen if it doesn’t and whether it could be health related and mean their employment might be threatened?

      Or a letter from Little Alex Horne (Taskmaster) about how to deal with a boss who’s occasionally friendly but often rude, demanding, demeaning, etc but very popular and charismatic.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love the Scrooge idea; especially since when he’s all “Bob, my new bestie!” Bob Cratchitt is trying to figure out how to restrain him and call for help!

        1. MigraineMonth*

          “Bob Cratchitt edged towards the poker” cracks me up every time I hear a reading. Yes, that is the appropriate reaction to your boss suffering an apparent mental break brought on by spectral visions.

    4. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      Dear Alison:

      When I applied for a secretarial job to work at a nightly news show at a TV station, I was told that the job had been filled. I was offered the job as an assistant news producer, which I was told paid less than the secretarial position. I said that that was okay and accepted the job. I have never seen the person who was hired to be the secretary. Neither has anyone else. And I find myself doing all of the tasks that would ordinarily be done by a secretary. What should I do?

      Mary Richards

    5. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I’m rereading Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, and you could easily do a full week of letters based on people who have to work with Miles.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          “Dear Allison, a third of the girls at my boarding school, including my only friend, have died recently of a typhus epidemic. It might not have been so bad except for the brackish water and starvation rations. Is this normal? The head guy, Brocklehurst, keeps going on about our souls’ salvation and is really obsessed with our hair.”

    6. Donkey Hotey*

      It’s kinda simplistic but I’d love to see Alison and the Commentariat respond to a letter from Anne Hathaway’s character from Devil Wears Prada.

      1. SarahKay*

        No, no, what we want is a letter from Meryl Streep’s character about why on earth is it so difficult to find a good assistant? Goodness knows she doesn’t ask much from them, but they just don’t seem to put in the effort. After all, how hard can it be to find an elegant shoe to wear over a plaster cast if they’ve been careless enough to break a leg?

    7. UsuallyALurker*

      “I Think My Boss Is A Madman”

      Dear Alison, I’m a newly graduated veterinarian from Glasgow and I’ve just accepted a new job at a practice in Yorkshire, but I think my boss is completely mad. Both his housekeeper and this woman I have a crush on (who’s known him for years) say as long as I stand up to him I’ll be fine, but he’s already fired and re-hired me once. There’s a shortage of jobs so I can’t just leave, but what do I do?

      Thanks for all the good advice. I’ve figured out how to make this work, and I’m starting to think that he isn’t mad, just really intense. But now his brother’s shown up and he’s also a vet and I’m worried I’ll be pushed out.

      Second Update: My boss’s brother turned out not to be a problem, we’re best mates now. Things are going really well, my crush from the first letter is now my fiancée, and I love the work and the people. There was a bit of a problem where my mum wanted me to change jobs, but we got it sorted in the end. Everything’s turning out great, so I guess sometimes, having a madman for a boss is a good thing.

    8. Slinky*

      Dear Alison,

      As I was on my way to elope with my professor, I was abandoned at a bar, where I then started working. The owner is gorgeous but a pig, but I just can’t seem to resist him! We were in a relationship, but when it fell apart, I started dating my psychiatrist, whom I then left at the alter. Now, I’m back working at the bar and trying to hook up with my boss again and its just not working! What should I do?

      Diane Chambers.

    9. Sloanicota*

      I’d like to read some from the many, many procedurals that are like, “erm, I don’t actually want to think of our crime solving team as my family, please help! These people are all uber-dedicated workaholics and it’s driving me nuts!”

    10. Tiny clay insects*

      Dear Alison,

      What should I do? My grandboss and I have been in a relationship for several months. At first I thought he was an emotional fuckwit, but he has been a pretty good boyfriend (we’ve even gone on a mini-break together). My direct manager hasn’t known I’ve been seeing my grandboss; we’ve managed to keep it a secret.

      Well, last weekend I went to his flat unexpectedly and found a naked woman on his roof! He’s apparently been cheating on me for weeks.

      How am I supposed to go to work on Monday? What should I say to my manager?

    11. GythaOgden*

      Not quite fictional but Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall novel series is basically ‘your boss sucks and isn’t going to change’ with a very sad side order of ‘don’t lose your head’. (I couldn’t even open the third book because I thought her portrayal of Cromwell was so sympathetic that, knowing what happened to him and the nasty way in which his executioner killed him, I couldn’t stomach the ending.)

      But I also watched The Spanish Princess and can’t help but find an analogy in there to the recruitment process with Catherine of Aragon.

      ‘Dear Alison,

      ‘I lost my first job when my boss, Arthur Tudor, died. His brother Henry promised me a job with him, and our interview went really well, but I haven’t heard anything and it’s been several years. I’m from Spain and here on a green card, but this nasty cold wet weather is making me perpetually ill and I don’t have insurance until I start the new job.

      ‘Should I just go home to Spain or is it worth waiting for my dream job to materialise?

      ‘PS they’re asking for a payment up front from my mum and dad which they say Arthur was promised in return for employing me. Is this legal?

      ‘PPS I got the job! However, my boss seems to be grooming this other girl for my position. Apparently she used to work for the Queen of France but came home to get a job here, and being English herself everyone seems to prefer her to me. She’s my direct report but I’m not allowed to fire her or put her on a PIP — only my boss can do that. Can I suggest he sends her away?’

    12. Irish Teacher.*

      My son mismanaged my business and now I am thinking of buying stolen goods

      Dear Alison,

      Believe me, this letter is going to be a rollarcoster. Firstly, I was seriously ill in hospital for a long period of time, during which my son took control of my building site. Problem is, my son is a complete waster and entirely untrustworthy. On top of which, all his experience has been in computers, not building.

      When I recovered, I found out he’d completely changed the plans, thinking he could make a quick buck by making substandard housing, cramming in as many units as possible and completely deleting the plans for community amenities that I had included. Needless to say, he had managed to alienate most of the local community by doing this. He had also fired my right-hand woman, who quite frankly, had I known in advance I was going to be unavailable, I would have placed in charge instead of him. To be honest, I wish she were my daughter rather than he my son and I think he is jealous of her because of this.

      The finances of the business were in a complete mess and though I can’t prove it, I suspect my son of having his hand in the till somewhat. Between that and the fact that I practically had to start from scratch again to restore the original plan, the financial situation is so bad that it looks like I’m going to have to close the site or best case scenario, lay off a number of my workers, men and women who have been with me for years and some of whom I know have major financial obligations. One guy’s wife has just had a baby!

      However, a possible way out has just been handed to me. Long story short, this local kid has gotten in with a bad crowd and is messing about on the edges of organised crime. He has said he can get us the building supplies we need, cheap.

      This is a really bad idea, right? But right now, it’s beginning to look like the least worst option. Should I chance it?

  16. Sally Rhubarb*

    Any advice on how to put ear medicine in a cat’s ears? I’m flying solo here, so I don’t have anyone to help.

    The vet was able to give him the first dose but only when I held him still. He’s not fractious, just wriggly.

      1. Clare*

        I’ve owned 6 cats over my life and fostered kittens and I second the purrito.

        Be aware they do learn what the towel signifies so after a few days you have to either sneak up on them or substitute random blankets and items of clothing. You don’t need to have him fully wrapped, a towel bib will do. The main aim is to frevent scratches and fleeing. Then you can kneel on the floor and trap him between your knees so he can’t back out. You hold the bib with one hand like he’s getting a haircut and do the drops with the other.

        Feel better soon Mr Cat!

    1. What's a gravatar?*

      Yeah, I use a towel to wrap my cat up into a burrito with only her head sticking out. She really hates ear meds so I always give her treats after because I don’t want her to hate me.

    2. KayDee*

      My vet told me to stand my cat up by holding her under her front legs with her back feet on the table/counter/floor, so that she was totally stretched out. You hold them so their back is against your chest or stomach. He said in that position cats can’t get any leverage to squirm, but it doesn’t hurt them. I don’t know if you can apply the medicine one handed though, that’s the only flaw in this beautiful plan!

    3. Melissa*

      Every cat I’ve looked after would do anything for those sachet treats that come in a long thin pouch they slowly lick (there are heaps of different brands). I’ve always given them medicine while they ate those.

    4. Squidhead*

      I’ve done it by laying the cat down on its side on a table and basically lying of top of its torso! Lift the ear to straighten the ear canal with one hand, insert med with other hand. Then try not to get headbutted when the cat shakes its head afterwards. Key to this method is laying out all your supplies ahead of time within reach. I usually put an old towel on the table because the medicine goes flying when the head-shaking starts!

    5. Donkey Hotey*

      Burrito wrap plus a tablespoon of their favorite lickable treat administered while you’re giving the medicine.

    6. Pocket Mouse*

      I did exactly this once upon a long ago, and I recommend sitting on the cat. Not actually squishing him, mind you, but kneel so that he’s held tightly between your legs, legs angled so your knees are slightly closer together to prevent escaping out the front, your toes pointed at each other or overlapping to prevent backing out, and your butt holding him down. Good luck, whichever route you take!

    7. tangerineRose*

      Get the kitty into a bathroom and shut the door (makes it easier to catch the kitty if you need to. You may need to kind of hold the kitty with your knees (wrap him in a bath towel if you can), then put the medication in the ears. Might be good to give the kitty a great treat right after or as soon as the kitty is willing to think about treats again.

    8. Laser99*

      Also, make sure you hold his head in place for a few minutes, if possible. If not, he will instantly shake his head violently, causing the medicine to spray out.

      1. Random Bystander*

        With my son’s cat who had an ear infection in one ear, the instructions were to rub at the base of the ear (folding the flap of the ear over the top, I guess to contain the meds). I think the idea is that it helped get the medicine in deeper, but another element was that after the first few doses, his cat quit fighting him because she liked the ear rubs that came after.

    9. numptea*

      I never had luck with towel burritos; they unravel with enough struggling. I bought a restraint bag (also called a claw trimming bag) and it works great. It’s a duffel with a head hole and leg holes that unzip. You can get them at pet chains, Chewy, Amazon, etc.

  17. Jazz and Manhattans*

    I’m asking for a friend that has a traumatic brain injury caused by domestic violence when he tried to murder her. She moved to Iowa to be near family but lives on her own. She’s struggling to try to keep things working in her life and is looking for someone to come in once a day to help her clean, organize, help her cook. So things you don’t need a clinician to help with. She’s part of DV and TBI groups but nothing has turned up. She has days that she can function normally but there are days when she struggles just feeding her cats and with a TBI you never know when those days will be. She’s on limited income on social security benefits since there is no way she can ever hold a job again. Can anyone think of any volunteer organizations that might do such a thing?

    1. Not A Manager*

      My general thoughts would be churches or worship communities, and maybe local high schools that have a volunteer requirement. Possibly colleges or junior colleges would have some community outreach requirement for people in social service programs, or maybe they could point you to local organizations, especially if they place interns at those organizations.

      I did find one link when I poked around. Not exactly what you’re looking for, but maybe they could give you some pointers. I’ll post it separately.

      1. Jazz and Manhattans*

        Actually I think this may lead us in a good direction! Pretty sure she is 55 and the program you linked to below is for those 55+ so we might be able to use something like this or at least have a direction to go! Thank you so much!

      2. Random Academic Cog*

        This type of assistance can be provided by home health agencies, often as part of medical benefits or special state-funded programs. We had a personal care aide (PCA) for my special-needs daughter under a Medicaid waiver program – they would clean her room, help her get showered/teeth brushed/dressed, do her laundry (she wet the bed nightly until she was 16 and nothing we ever tried kept her from flooding everything), cook her a meal if needed, etc. Any “activities of daily living” as long as they were not medical (no giving meds) and were specific to her (no laundry or cleaning that was related to the rest of the family). We got 2 hrs/day, 5 days/week and sometimes weekend hours. Just hard to find consistent help sometimes.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Has she contacted the state Department of Health and Human Services division of disability services? She may qualify for assistance with a part time home aide or other community based support.

    3. Washi*

      I would contact your local area on aging or similar organization and ask, but specifically I wonder if she may be able to get on the list for Title XX, which at least in my state provides weekly cleaning (I think states may differ in how they used these funds.) There’s also a TBI Medicaid waiver program in my state that provides services in the home, which you access by going through the local agency for people with disabilities.

      I think most states have versions of the same programs but how you apply and the exact requirements can differ, so a local agency will be your best bet for specific information.

    4. sagewhiz*

      If by DV you mean disabled veteran, look into the VA Aid and Attendance benefits. It’s one of the best-kept secrets of the system. If I recollect correctly, in-home help is included, but I don’t know if that would cover not knowing “when those days will be.”

      Having known people with TBI, my heart goes out to her. (& I hope the SOB is behind bars!)

    5. fposte*

      In my neck of the woods a NextDoor posting might find some solutions or even individual people. Obviously it would be wise to vet them a little if possible if they’re not coming from an organization that might be doing that itself.

    6. Bibliovore*

      In my state -Adult rehabilitative mental health services (ARMHS) certified providers
      pronounces arms . Arms workers come into your home and help with all of those things. There may be state aid for that. They don’t do the work but help guide the person for those daily tasks.
      I pay the neighborhood kids before or after school (12 to 14 year olds) to carry laundry up the stairs, open the mail, carry out the recycling sometimes walk the young dog if I am having a bad day. One comes almost every morning to cuddle my old lady dog for about 15 minutes then goes to school.

  18. What is this song?*

    I have an off-the-wall question that I’ve been curious about for decades. Many years ago Young Me was traveling on $5/day in Europe and met another young American who was doing likewise. He taught me a song he had learned in a youth hostel in Sweden; I liked it so much that I still sing it. But I have no idea what it means or what language it is.

    It goes like this (phonetically, as an American English speaker):
    O egg! Serpo-dego-du serpo meg!
    O egg, serpo-dego-du serpo ot meg!
    O hai, o hai o hildran dedu kerilla du havno nara meg!

    I may be mangling it, but that’s how I remember it. Can anyone translate it, partially or entirely, and can anyone take an educated guess at the language? I would be so tickled to know!

    1. DistantAudacity*

      Very good phonetics!

      Og eg ser på deg og du ser på meg
      Og eg ser på deg og du ser på meg
      Og hei, å hei, å hildrande du kjærilla du havno næra meg

      And I look at you and you look at me
      And I look at you and you look at me
      Oh hey Oh hey hildrande du kærilla you ended up close to me

      It’s a western Norwegian dialect, possibly slightly Swedish-fied at the end.

      «Å hildrande du» is a very old phrase, can be translated (localized) as similar to «oh me, oh my!». «Å hei, å hei, å hildrande du kjærilla du» is kind of a nonsense phrase.

      Internet tells me that this is a traditional Norwegian folk song called «Anne Budeie» (Anne the milkmaid)!

      There is a recording available on your streaming platform of choice in the best ‘60s folk tradition, by someone called «Four Friends».

      1. DistantAudacity*

        The song title is often referred to as “Anne Budeie/ Og eg ser på deg og du ser på meg” or just “ Og eg ser på deg og du ser på meg”, it seems.

      2. Blomma*

        I’m so glad you were able to decipher this because I was super curious! I’m Swedish American and currently currently learning Swedish and the phonetic pronunciation didn’t seem quite like Swedish to me but seemed Scandinavian. : )

      3. Awkwardness*

        Oh, you did it! Amazing.

        I learned a bit Swedish during studies, but could not pin down the text completely, especially “kerilla”. Now it is clear why.

        1. DistantAudacity*

          According to the book the phrase is actually
          “Å hei å hei, å hildrande deg, kor ille du hev no næra meg»

          «… how bad you feel being close to me»

          It’s a courting song, a young man singing to his lady.

          The first verse is that they’re looking at each other, but she doesn’t like to be near him (demurring or otherwise – this is the repeated final phrase), second verse they are getting to know each other and in the final verse she finally says she’ll have him

      4. What is this song?*

        Wow, this is just wonderful to know I have remembered it pretty accurately for all these years, and to know what it says. I am bowled over! Thank you very much indeed. I will be 80 next month and I was 20 at the time, so that was a very long-lasting mystery to me.

          1. What is this song?*

            I am also amazed! Sometimes I haven’t thought of it for years, but the words and the tune have always come back. Now I need to listen to it and see how well I remembered the tune. Of course I don’t know how accurately it was transmitted to me — if my version is really off I will blame the guy who taught it to me, or the person who taught it to him :)

          1. Buni*

            I hit the ‘Show Transcript’ on this vid thinking it *might* show the English but if it showed the original that would still be cool. It gave me this:

            0:03 la la
            0:07 la la la la la la
            0:10 [Music]
            0:44 foreign
            0:50 [Music]
            1:18 foreign
            1:24 [Music]

            and I just…I mean, it’s not wrong…?!

          2. What is this song?*

            Thank you again! That is exactly how I’ve been singing my one verse except that they sing it faster. You have made my day and possibly my week and my month!

  19. Still Monty and Millie's Mom*

    My husband and I are going to Niagara Falls next week for our anniversary! We are staying on the Canadian side and knew we are doing a walking tour behind the falls. We are planning a brewery visit and a bookstore visit as well – does anyone have any recommendations for this things in the St Catherine area? Or anything else you recommend while we are there? Thanks!

    1. HannahS*

      If you like to hike, the Niagara Gorge is beautiful, especially in the fall.

      Niagara on the Lake is lovely to walk around, and the hat store is particularly fun IMO.

    2. AGD*

      St. Catharines has two or three wonderful bookstores (Book Outlet has an incredible selection of affordable remaindered books and The Write Bookshop downtown is a wonderful used bookstore) and a lot of interesting local history. There are wineries everywhere. Downtown Niagara Falls is very touristy but fun if you know to expect a neighborhood amusement park (Clifton Hill). If you want to skip the touristyness, aim for Queen Street (local businesses) or even farther north. WildPlay operates an adult obstacle course up there and there’s a walkway along the river that is gorgeous. Enjoy!

    3. Hazel*

      Many wonderful wineries with tours and tastings and some have restaurants around the Niagara area if that’s your thing. Niagara on the Lake is quaint and has the Shaw Theatre Festival. St. Catherines is nothing fancy, but Port Dalhousie is cute for a walk around the harbour and a bite to eat. Butterfly conservatory on the Niagara Parkway is lovely especially if you get a poor weather day.

    4. Chauncy Gardener*

      Watch out for pickpockets, FYI. A friend and her family had an otherwise wonderful vacation there, but her wallet was stolen out of her pocketbook while they were there.

    5. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      The Maid of the Mist is fun. You will definitely get wet from the falls, but they provided rain ponchos the last time I did it. I also recommend going to the New York side if you can; it’s a pretty cool perspective on the falls.

    6. Space Misfit*

      I really liked the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory. I think you’d need a vehicle to get there, but it’s really cool – basically a greenhouse with a ton of different varieties of butterflies flying ever which way, and some educational components too.

  20. Route 66*

    Suggestions for fun places to stop on Route 66 heading East from AZ? We want to head to St Louis eventually but haven’t decided how far to take I40/Rt66 before getting off. Looking for some cool stops that wouldn’t make the top 10 lists online.

    1. The Dude Abides*

      Don’t end it at StL!

      Springfield, IL has a TON of Rt66 memorabilia around town, and is not that much further up the road.

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Go to Ted Drewes Frozen Custard in St. Louis! One of their two locations is on Chippewa Street, which is literally the old Route 66. This is truly a St. Louis institution.

      Their most famous menu item is the Concrete, which is a a milkshake with stir-in ingredients selected from a verrrry long list. They are called Concretes because the concoction is so thick that the servers hold them upside down to give to the customers.

      It’s the kind of local place where folks line up on the sidewalk to place their orders, then stand around elsewhere on the sidewalk (or in the parking lot) to eat their frozen custard treats.

      It’s also the kind of place where, several decades ago, they came out with a Christmas/holiday version of the Concrete: One of their logo-bearing waxed-paper cups, filled with …. actual concrete and a long plastic spoon, tucked into the concrete before it set.

      Full address: 6726 Chippewa St, St. Louis, MO 63109
      Web site https (colon, slash, slash) teddrewes.com (slash).

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        The City Museum in St. Louis is also awesome, though probably listed on lists of cool places. It’s not actually a museum-it’s more like a fast food playplace made by a mad artistic genius. Google some pictures. You do need to be fairly able-bodied though.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Flagstaff AZ Lowell Observatory the nighttime tour. Interesting bit of history ending with jaw-dropping star-gazing.

      Holbrook AZ Petrified Forest National Park. We thought we would take 1-2 hours and were there all day, leaving only because we needed to get to our next hotel.

    4. Reba*

      Cadillac Ranch in TX. In and around StL, the City Museum and Cahokia.
      Many oddball attractions are cataloged on the Roadside America website.

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

      My ex and I had some great chicken-fried steak at a steakhouse in Amarillo on Rte. 66 late one evening.

      1. Texan*

        Probably The Big Texan. That’s a really fun place to stop! Cadillac Ranch is also in Amarillo, so you could do those together.

        1. Route 66*

          We actually stopped in Amarillo in our way west, though we weren’t following Rt 66! We stayed at the Big Texan and went to Cadillac Ranch (I even got a T shirt!). It was cool to add to the paint, being part of such a neat exhibit.

    6. Turtle Dove*

      Pops 66 Soda Ranch in Arcadia, Oklahoma was a fun stop for drinks and candy I liked as a kid that are hard to find now.

      My husband and daughter thoroughly enjoyed a drive-through animal park on their Route 66 trip about 20 years ago. I think it was in Arkansas. Google says that one closed, but there may be others like it along Route 66. I found Bearizona in Arizona.

      1. Route 66*

        We saw Bearizona on billboards yesterday and stopped in! We spent several hours there, it was a lot of fun!

  21. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    My brother is getting married this winter, which means I’m going to be helping my mom shop for a Mother of the Groom outfit. However, she’s had a hard time in recent years finding nice outfits that she likes. She says its because she’s not much of a fancy person anymore, but I think a large part of it is because she doesn’t know how to dress to flatter her body anymore. I want her to find a dress that she looks and feels awesome in, but I don’t know what to look for either.

    So my question is, does anyone know any good fashion blogs/resources for women in their 50s or 60s, especially lower plus size?

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m not in the US but had a similar situation with my mother. You want structure on the top half of the body, flow and movement on the bottom. If you’re older a soft flared midi dress dress under a waist length tailored collarless jacket or bolero is good. Or a soft shrug, if jackets aren’t available.

      The jacket means the dress doesn’t have to be boned or supported with shapewear, so more comfortable. A jacket which stops at the natural waist prevents boxiness and allows the dress to flare out. Midi length dress which will stop the outfit looking too wide. If floor length is wanted, make sure there is a clear gap between dress and floor to show the ankles, especially if your mum isn’t tall.

      Add a scarf which complements the outfit. A jacket can be removed whenever she wants to be more relaxed or informal, and the scarf can then be draped glamorously across shoulders to give a little extra confidence re coverage of upper arms etc.

      Hobbs is a UK store which has the dress and jacket wedding combo down pat, if you wanted to look at examples. Monsoon too.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I am ALL about shrugs and wraps. They’re much easier to don, remove, and carry around than a jacket, I find, and very easy to re-use with other outfits.

      2. Shrug wanted*

        I’d like to get a shrug but don’t know where to look (in the US). Any suggestions for decent quality but not designer-level? I usually wear size 14 in dresses, Large in tops.

    2. Rev*

      There’s a UK one called That’s Not My Age, though there’s a particular kind of look favoured and it might not be very good on plus size style.

    3. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      My son got married this past May and I got my dress online, from JJ’s House. I love my dress!
      I highly recommend them.

      1. Carrie*

        Second this recommendation – my MOB dress came from there, and I cannot recommend it heartily enough. Tons of selections in terms of style/color, and you can get dresses customized or buy off the rack. Not to mention, you get to see pics of ACTUAL people wearing the dress, which I found very helpful.

    4. Anon. Scientist*

      Two things:
      1. She doesn’t need to wear a dress if she doesn’t want to. Our mothers were 65-70 and one wore a long, plain skirt and the other wore pants. Both in very dressy fabrics (taffeta ish?) and looked very nice together and as I type this, knowing them, they may have actually coordinated without telling anyone.
      2. this is a big, uncool company, but David’s Bridal has formal dresses/suiting for all sizes and ages, and critically, models of different shapes and ages so you can see what works for them. Offbeat Bride also would have good inspiration for older and nonstandard sizes.

    5. Anon. Scientist*

      Two things:

      1. She doesn’t need to wear a dress. Our moms were 65ish and plus size, and one had a skirt and one pants. Both had fancy sort of taffeta materials (and as I write this, knowing them, they may have consulted/coordinated on their own) and they looked lovely and themselves.
      2. High fashion doesn’t need to be the goal. David’s Bridal is like the McDonalds of wedding gear, but they have outfits (and critically, models) of all shapes and ages so you can see how the dresses work. Offbeat Bride will have a huge range of ideas, many of which are plus size.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Can’t recommend a blog, unfortunately. Not sure how much money she has to spend or where you and she live. If there’s a Nordstrom near her or you, their personal shopping service is awesome and is not limited to the most expensive pieces. The shopper will help her figure out what she really wants and the whole experience will make her feel special and celebrated.

      Specific suggestion: take a look at Adriana Papell dresses. I bought one for my daughter’s bat mitzvah when I was a size 22 and I absolutely LOVED it. So flattering and just all-around gorgeous. A friend recently bought one for a wedding and it looked great on her – I think she bought a 14 or 16. Great colors and fabrics and cuts.

    7. PhyllisB*

      This is going to sound a little odd perhaps, but a couple years ago I stumbled across a site for Mormon wedding attire. (Yes, I know Mormon is not the chosen term anymore, this is the way it was advertised.) They had some beautiful mother of the bride/groom dresses. I don’t remember the exact name of the website, but perhaps some of you readers here will know?

    8. Nervous Nellie*

      I love the blog Chic at Any Age, written by Josephine, an English woman who lives in the UK and France. Stylish, ageless. I have followed her for years.

    9. Jackalope*

      A few years ago I tried looking up clothing for different body shapes and found a couple of really helpful resources. (It’s been awhile so I don’t remember what they were but I’m guessing a search would be helpful again.) They basically helped you figure out your basic body shape (apple, pear, triangle, etc.), and then gave some ideas one what styles of clothing would tend to work well with that body shape and what to look for. I’d had no idea what my body shape was before that and I found this to be super helpful. One of them even had a few examples of dresses and outfits that were currently on sale so you could see what was out there, although by the time I stopped using the site they weren’t updating those any more.

    10. Zephtree*

      Not a blog rec, but if you’re in the US, try Dress Barn. Had good luck there for not too fancy separates.

    11. Healthcare Worker*

      The dresses I wore for my children’s weddings were made by Adriana Pappell and I loved them. My body size is similar to what you’ve described. I found the staff at Dillard’s and Nordstrom very helpful, and I bought several online as the store didn’t carry my size (and returned them before the charge card bill arrived!) Encourage her to not be afraid of some bling – my DIL found my dress and I would not have tried it on without her encouragement. Good luck!

    12. KarenInKansas*

      I’ve just been through a spate of a weddings for my children. One was a traditional June wedding, the next was an outdoor wedding on the winter solstice (it snowed!), the third was an August indoor and outdoor garden party theme. Each were formal enough to require a long dress. I’m in my early 60s, and am a size 18 to 20. I tried going the nordstrom, macy’s, Dillards route, but could find nothing that worked. I finally hit on a eShakti. I could pick a dress that I liked in fabric that worked for the season, and made neckline, sleeve, and hem length changes that I wanted. I ended up with three dresses that I absolutely adore. Since I don’t need long dresses for every season now that my children are all married, I have had them shortened and wear them for for work or out to dinner. The quality is excellent, and I have been so happy. I have bought tops from them since then and have been happy with all of those too! I hope this helps! Best wishes to you and your family.

    13. RemoteisBest*

      Ulla Popken has some beautiful choices – both dresses and outfits with pants. I wore one of their 3 piece pants outfits when my son got married 2 years ago. Also J. Jill has some really nice separates and dresses that might suit and they go up to size 4X (24-26).

  22. A*

    So a maybe more serious dinner party post, but for those of you who don’t have biological or semi-biological kids, especially those older than me (36) how has your life had joy and purpose? Any regrets?

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m nearly 40 years old. Yes I have had sorrow mostly the death of my aunt and the issue of who I am as a person but there are joys too, hobbies and friends and nieces and nephews. I worry about the future, but worry makes tomorrows sorrows no less and dims today’s joys

    2. Blue wall*

      Late 30s. So much joy! And my life is entirely different than I imagined it. I deeply want a spouse and kiddos and I also love the life I have created for myself now. That’s the thing—I created (am creating) it; it didn’t stam happen.

      I am a valued member of a community I value (specifically, religious), I work to explore and get to know the people in the communities I’ve lived in, and I’m pursuing a graduate degree that will completely change my life course when I graduate at age 40.

      Regrets? Maybe that I spent less money eating out. While I would love to have been married x number of years by now, none of the guys I dated in my past would have been able to march alongside me in where I am now.

      1. Kiki Is The Most*

        “none of the guys I dated in my past would have been able to march alongside me in where I am now.” THIS. I could’ve written this when I was your age.

        Though I do have a partner now that can keep up, neither of us have kids. We have a most lovely shared life in Europe.

        Lived in 6 countries. Traveled the world. Friends all over the globe.
        I am “auntie” to my friends’ children and I do enjoy them (and it’s fun to spoil them when I can).

        Loved reading everyone else’s “I LOVE MY LIFE” segments here. This was a marvelous for my weekend.

    3. ThatGirl*

      I’m 42, and my husband and I decided ages ago that kids were not happening. My joy and purpose comes from so many things! I was a dog mom for 8 years. I’m a great friend, sister, auntie, daughter, niece. I nurture hobbies, relationships and my own well-being.

    4. No regrets*

      Currently in my 40s. Never wanted children. Not only do I not regret not having them, I am beyond happy I don’t. I can sleep in as late as I want on the weekends; I don’t have to take care of anyone but myself. I’m convinced part of the reason I don’t look as old as I am is because I had no children running me ragged.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too. I never had kids, and never wanted them. My sister has three, and the sheer weight of their lives and how much they require (and they aren’t little, the oldest is a college sophomore) makes me realize every day that the smartest thing I ever did was not talk myself into parenthood.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          And yeah, I may not glow with youth but I definitely look younger than I am–and am also convinced it’s partly because I wasn’t dumping all my energy into chasing after kids.

      2. Fruit Snacks*

        Same with the not looking as old as I am. As well as the sleeping when I want.

        I’ve witnessed friends online who looked super young into their 30s (my peers and I are early to mid 30s). Then they had a kid and it seemed like they started looking older quicker. Baby faces turned to faces with wrinkles and crows feet real quick.

    5. Satisfied w/no kids*

      Mid-forties here, and I’d say that I have quite a bit of joy and purpose in my life. Spending time with my partner and with my friends, contributing to my community (generally along with my friends), getting out into nature and soaking in the beauty of the world, learning new things, being a disreputable auntie/safe non-parental adult for some of my friends’ children, and so on… for me, I’ve never felt a lack of joy or purpose that I could say was caused by not having children. I find my purpose (and a good bit of my joy) in finding ways to try to make this Earth at least a little bit better while I’m here.

      Occasionally I idly wonder what my life would look like today if I’d had kids, but I wouldn’t change the choices I’ve made. So no, no regrets for me. But I will say that not having kids was very much my choice, as I realized at a young age that I really didn’t want to be a parent and probably wouldn’t be a terribly good one. I imagine that someone who wanted to have children but didn’t might have a very different experience.

    6. Claire*

      Joy and purpose I find in my friends, my nieces and nephew, my work, travelling, my hobbies – my life! I never wanted kids and they would not have been a source of joy to me. I have zero regrets. Having kids was never part of my plan, and I’m happy and content with having a life I get to shape to please myself. I’m 47 now and life has never been better.

    7. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I look at my friends who had kids in recent years, and their lives are definitely filled with great rewarding love, but the way looking after one child consumes every bit of their time, attention and energy, sometimes to the point of exhaustion, is just not for me. I’m happy for them when they say kids bring them joy, and I’m happy to have had the freedom to decide that “traditional” path wasn’t going to be mine.

      The life my partner and I have now is pretty special, and I wouldn’t change it. Now we can financially afford to travel and do what we love in our spare time, we plan to do that for as long as we can. Every time a friend mentions how much they spend on daycare alone, we feel validated that we’ve made the right choice for us.

      My one regret is I haven’t yet found a way to create a regular writing practice that works for me, and follow my dream of finishing a novel. I don’t have children to care for after work, so I have no excuses, right? Well, to cut a long story short, that’s part of what I started therapy for, and this year I’m more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time.

    8. The Prettiest Curse*

      Never wanted kids, don’t have any, have yet to regret it. (This is partly because I don’t think I’d be a good parent and partly because neither me or my husband ever wanted kids.) I like my free time, being able to sleep in for as long as I want and being able to do stuff uninterrupted.

      I’m also relieved not to have potentially passed on the myriad of mental health and other chronic health conditions in mine and my husband’s families to anyone else. If I’d had children, I would have probably had to deal with developing asthma a lot sooner than I did, due to all the respiratory infections that come with small kids.

      I do like being around other peoples’ kids, though, and wish I had more opportunities to do that, since I don’t have friends with kids. I also feel that not having kids means it’s more difficult to make friends with other adults. But those are minor things compared to what the downsides of having kids would be for me.

    9. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Zero regrets, I’m 42 and have known since I was 8 I didn’t want kids. I find my joy and purpose in my dogs, myself and my hobbies. And I go to Disneyworld four times a year which is way more enjoyable without kids. Heh.

    10. Irish Teacher.*

      I am almost 43 and and don’t have biological, step, foster or adopted kids and no, I don’t have any regrets. It’s not exactly that I don’t want kids, more like I don’t feel mature and responsible enough for them, plus I’m aromantic asexual, so having kids would be a bigger decision in some ways than it would be for a couple.

      How do I have joy and purpose in my life? Well, my job gives me a lot of purpose. I am pretty close to my 5 year old nephew and I suspect my friend’s todder will bring me joy in a couple of years (I am really not a baby or toddler person; another reason not to have kids. If they were born at 3 or 4, I might be more enthusiastic). I love books and plays and have a number of close friends.

      Do I sometimes worry about old age and being alone? Occasionally, but then I remind myself that there are plenty of parents whose kids are in Australia or who rarely see them and that my grandmother’s friend who had no children and was widowed before I was born had loads of friends through her church and her artwork and was very much a part of our family, to the point that I think my siblings and I all asked our parents at some point in our childhood how she was related to us and had a load of nieces and nephews. Plus it would be an incredibly bad idea to have a kid so they will care for you if you become aged and infirm!

      I am extremely happy with my life.

      1. Sloanicota*

        To your point, I often have to remind myself that the complaints I occasionally feel as a childless adult are probably the exact same ones I would have as a mother, except I’d presumably also feel more trapped and the whole thing more dire if I was worried about messing up a kid. My friends who have children often feel lonely, overlooked, unloved. They don’t always feel that their partner validates and sees them (I’m single, which can compound my “woe is me” feelings if I let it). They end up traveling alone or needing rides to the hospital too sometimes, especially if they depend on their partner for childcare in those situations. They may secretly feel that their life lacks meaning but they’re not able to admit it because in theory their children are “supposed” to be all the meaning they need. They tell me they’re jealous I was able to follow my artistic passions and be published, able to make risky career moves, buy the exact house I wanted without having to compromise, not negotiate constantly around male needs and egos, and by my deep and varied friendships, which all reminds me that I overlook those things when counting my blessings. The grass always seems greener on the other side.

    11. Southern Girl*

      Late 60’s here. Still work at a fulfilling job, travel whenever I want, never had the stress of sick kids, day care, etc. check out the Reddit childfree subreddit.

      1. Clare*

        I’d recommend the truechildfree sub over the main childfree sub. The main sub has a lot of people who are bitter from being told by those around them that they’re terrible people without hearts or value for not wanting kids, so they’re pretty nasty about parents. (Which is understandable, I just don’t find that fun to be around). Truechildfree is more about the positive discussion of childfree life, childfree is mostly angry venting.

    12. mreasy*

      Mid 40s, I have first of all really loving friendships, a meaningful career, an amazing husband, cats, hobbies and time to do them and I live in a big city with tons of things to do, people to meet, etc… plus close relationships with family of all ages. I am very lucky in many ways and making the choice not to have kids (and having a partner who feels just as strongly about it) has felt like one of them.

      1. mreasy*

        Oh and echoing the adequate sleep appreciation from above! I have a host of mental health disorders and sleep disruption throws me for a loop. And I love having time to volunteer with community organizations once a week to show my caring for others. (And I can afford donations!)

    13. Pam Adams*

      62 here. No kids- relationships didn’t lead there. I have nieces, plus greats. Plenty of cats and dogs through my life.

      Plus, I work for a university, so have a few thousand students to keep me busy and happy.

    14. Queer Earthling*

      I’m 35 so slightly below your threshold, but my partner is 44, and their other partner is 47, and since we all live together we share a life. No kids among the lot of us. None of us ever seriously wanted kids.

      Joy includes: our adorable cats, spending time together, pursuing hobbies that interest us such as fiber crafts, cooking, and doll collecting (which we definitely couldn’t afford if we had kids). My partner and I write stories together for fun. We live in a rural area and enjoy going for walks outside or driving a short distance away to see horses. We go to classes at the library and try to learn new things.

      Purpose includes: My metamour has a job that does a lot of good and means a lot to him, although I won’t share more about that. My partner does freelance art and commissions and has helped a lot of people realize their vision in a way they couldn’t themselves. I run an adult (18+ topics) blog that means a lot to me, and I find a lot of value in the adult blogging community; I have personally helped to get dangerous products off shelves, among other things, and I am pleased that my work that seems frivolous to a lot of people has made an impact. I talk to other queer people of all ages and sometimes I’m able to give advice, and I always learn a lot; having a community doesn’t require you to have children. I am a form of support to my sister’s kids, although they’re some distance away. I write a lot of angry letters to my senators. In general, we do our best to be kind, to support causes both locally and nationally that matter to us, to vote, to care.

      1. Queer Earthling*

        Thinking about this, realizing my message might be lost behind the polyam queer stuff or whatever that might not resonate, here’s my ultimate point:

        Joy is found in taking time to enjoy what’s around you, and in finding things you’re excited about.

        Purpose is found in figuring out your community–whether that’s a specific group or the world at large–and trying to improve things for others in that community.

        Both are often accomplished by having and raising children, but they can be done without. They can also be done without money, or influence. They can be done while disabled.

    15. sswj*

      Soon-to-be 62 here. Absolutely no regrets, and much joy. Currently a fair amount of irritation due to a husband who cannot seem to keep a job, but in reality I live a very good, very well loved and loving life.
      I have my husband who loves me, my animal-family, a job I really like, a lovely place to live, and enough income to do some nice things. I am healthy and active, I have friends both online and IRL to connect with, and who understand that I’m essentially a hermit but like me anyway :p
      Up until the last 15 years or so I taught riding (horses) to people of all ages, but mostly kids. I had fun teaching and interacting with them, and then I sent them home tired and dirty and happy. I got to see them week after week, and I’m still in touch with a few of them 30 or so years later. It’s really all the kid-interaction I needed, and it was very satisfying.
      My life definitely has had (and continues to have) its challenges and sadnesses, but joy has always been easy to find in amongst the tribulations.

    16. fposte*

      60, no regrets, just the occasional curiosity about roads not taken. I feel like this is kind of like an astronaut asking the earthbound how they managed to find joy and purpose in life without going to the moon—no doubt the moon is cool, but going there is hardly a requirement for a full life. I loved my job, my colleagues, and students; I love my friends; I’m largely okay with my family; I enjoy my “weak ties” people. I like kids and am glad other people have them, but I genuinely think it’s important for it not to be something everybody does automatically, so I feel like some of my purpose is modeling that.

    17. Scarlet Ribbons in her Hair*

      I’m in my seventies, and I don’t regret not having kids. That’s because I never got married, and I never wanted to be a single mom. I don’t have any nieces or nephews. When I was in my twenties and thirties, my friends got married and dropped me either right after they got married or after they had their first child, so I’ve never been around kids much. That’s okay. I managed to make new friends when I got older. I’ve never worried about having a purpose. I just try to live a good life and have fun when I can.

    18. selfish prick*

      Uhhh yeah, I don’t have to worry about daycare bills or someone smearing lipstick all over the dog or ER visits because kid A bet Kid B how many quarters could they fit up their nose.

      My time is precious, why have it all sucked up by a kid? I don’t need to reproduce to feel fulfilled.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Agree. If we lived in some period of scarcity where we desperately needed to repopulate the species, sure maybe I could have been persuaded. But there are way too many people for our planet to support already, especially high-resource-consuming people like me, and my genes are nothing special, so I don’t feel obligated. I am not sure our society is sustainable so I’m relieved not to have brought helpless innocent children into what might be a nasty future. I probably could have found a way to be a reasonably good mother but it wasn’t something I felt called to do and it’s a relief not to have, when I’m honest about it. I try to serve the planet and our culture in myriad other ways and look for ways to make things easier on kids and kid-havers when I can.

          1. Sloanicota*

            I think it’s extremely fair to say we are not short on people in the world and none of our current problems would be solved by adding more humans.

            1. ThatGirl*

              I’m not disagreeing, I’m just saying there’s a lot of (white supremacist) myths around overpopulation.

              1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                Sure, but specifying that the problem is “high-resource-consuming people” helps with that I think.

    19. Taivas*

      I’m 40, never had kids or a partner, never wanted either. I have a great life – no regrets. I have a close group of friends who I hang out with and travel with, a couple of cats, and a good relationship with my sibling. I live on my own, in a place I fill with things I like and have a challenging, interesting job. I have a few different art or coding projects going at all times, and I usually sign up for some kind of academic course a couple of times a year. No shade to people with kids, but I personally don’t have the temperment for it. I think I’d be miserable if my life had followed the socially expected trajectory.

    20. GoryDetails*

      Over 70 here, and quite content being single. (Tried marriage once in my 30s because it seemed like the “adult” thing to do, but learned that I really preferred living alone.) Never craved children so I don’t miss that, and I have now-adult niblings for some next-generation contact.

      I’ve just always been a loner, so I enjoy having my house to myself. I have cats to annoy me into getting up if I sleep in for too long, and I meet friends for dinner or walks or excursions to historical sites now and then. I read a lot. (A LOT!) And enjoy various hobbies. Indeed, there’s more that I’d like to do than I have time (or energy) for at this point.

      While I don’t have any regrets about being single-and-childless, if I could have some do-overs I’d (a) skip the attempts at live-in relationships entirely, and (b) do a lot more traveling.

    21. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      In my sixties, no kids, no SOs and no regrets. Ace wasn’t a concept talked about when I was younger but fits me. I get joy from my family, my pets, and my experiences.

      You didn’t go too far, but this skates close to the comments I’ve heard from people who judged that my life was less valuable/important/purposeful since I didn’t have a spouse or kids.

      1. WestsideStory*

        I also find the OP’s question a bit puzzling, as if they were waiting for their expectation to be sadly childless to be validated, or looking about for a reason to have kids when they really don’t want any!
        For myself, I’ve never wanted kids and have been quite happy hanging with my nieces/nephews at every age, and supporting other family and friends who need nurturing as humans do. I find my life fulfilling, enjoy the work I do, and am grateful every day for what I have and who I have it my life. While I have not done all I believe I could to better the world, I do feel I have made a contribution to society, and to my field of work, and if tonight was my last I would not mourn lost chances but leave this earth happy and, yes, fulfilled. I plan to be cremated since there will be no descendants to place wreaths on some grave.
        Regrets? Maybe one. I still regret not going to Australia for a wedding I was invited to, talked out of it by a well-meaning friend. Perhaps I will get there some day, but it’s less important now.
        The difference is that a trip to a faraway land can be a whim or a wish; bringing a child into the world is a serious responsibility that will last decades. OP, if you are not up to it, own that you don’t. Some of us don’t really like kids all that much, or realize they are NOT up to the hard task of childcare and would rather spend energy elsewhere. It’s fine.

        1. Victoria*

          It seemed pretty obviously the opposite to me: someone worrying about regretting not having kids, hoping for some affirmation that there is a joyful life to be had without children.

        1. Cyndi*

          In the spirit of taking commenters in good faith, I’m choosing to believe OP posted it because they’re trying to work out something personally! But it really is indistinguishable from the kind of stuff trad conservatives post as “gotcha” questions, even if by accident, and it rubbed me wrong too.

          For the record, OP, I’m a few months shy of 36 (just a couple months older than my mom was when I was born, in fact!) and I have lots of regrets about my life! But not only do I not regret not having kids, I’m deeply thankful I don’t, because pretty much anything that’s been difficult or disappointing in my life would have been exponentially harder to handle if I had to be responsible for children. I do hope a wife is in the cards for me someday! But never children.

    22. Donkey Hotey*

      I’m 52, my wife is 42. We’re child free by choice and have not regretted it for a second.

      As to what we do: We travel in the shoulder season when all the kids are back in school. We spoil our nibblings. We enjoy communities of friends.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I am 35 and my husband is 39. When we met, we both thought we wanted children, and even got as far as potential names and plans for places we would take them and the like.

        When it came to discussing it about a year later and we were thinking about it in real terms, I realised that I like the idea of having children, but that I don’t want to have children and have them grow up in this world, ( and this was before COVID and other big things which have had a negative impact). We talked about it, and realised that I didn’t want children who would be born in this world, and that my husband thought that he should have children so that his parents would be remembered by someone, ( his sister has no plans for children either). It was an upsetting discussion at first, but we both felt better for having it.

        Since then, we’ve both been happy with the decision. We like children, and we like seeing friends’ children and spending time with them, but we derive joy from other things like our relationship, trips, our life in the city where we are, our friends and family and things that we enjoy, ( board games, walking, cinema and theatre, to name some).

        This is just our thoughts on it. :)

        1. BlueMeeple*

          Another thought: trigger warning, infertility discussion.

          I have also found that us not wanting children has made it easier for people who are having fertility issues to discuss that with us, but that is subjective and was due to the people involved in the conversation.

    23. Anon Poster*

      I’m single and childless, I’ll be 40 early next year. I never wanted to be a mom, so I realize my experiences and feelings differ wildly from someone who wants that and is worried they may never have it. In my 20s I had no interest in having kids, but I always just assumed a switch would flip one day and I would want kids once I was “ready.” By my early 30s, I realized that I just truly, genuinely, do not want to be a parent. I would be a good parent if I had to be one, but I have absolutely no desire to be one. Once I had this realization, the urgency to find a partner and get married just totally evaporated. If there’s no biological clock ticking, then there’s no reason to frantically search and search for someone before my fertility dries up. If I ever meet someone truly special who adds to my joy, then cool. If not, that’s cool, too, because I make my own joy. I spend a lot of time with friends and family. I see much more of out-of-town family than my siblings with kids do, because travel is a lot easier and cheaper for me than it is for them. I can keep up with friends easily because the ones with kids have a pretty tight window for socializing, and it’s easy for me to adapt to that because my socialization window is a lot more flexible. When I want to try something new or go somewhere new, I just do it. I also relish the career freedom that comes with being child-free. I can leave a miserable job, take a pay cut, etc. because no one is relying on me to keep them fed, clothed, and sheltered. I can take risks I just absolutely would not be comfortable taking if I had others to provide for. I may never actually take those risks, but knowing that I can gives me comfort and clarity.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Wow, I feel like I could have written this word for word. *Waves across the internet.* The other thing that happened for me, is once I realized I had no interest in kids and that marriage was an option but not a necessity; I became more diverse in my dating interests; same sex or nonbinary or wherever someone was, I was willing to meet them there, because I was going to be outside the heteronormal society one way or another anyway.

    24. londonedit*

      I’m 42 and I’ve never wanted children. This is an odd question for me because it’s not something I’ve ever worried about. Of course my life has joy and purpose! Why wouldn’t it? Children are far and away not the only thing that provides joy and purpose. Aside from the usual worries about money and work and the health of my loved ones, my life is great. I have wonderful friends, I live in a great community and I have a lovely family who I’m close to. I enjoy my job (most of the time!) and I find plenty of joy in the things I do.

      I’ve never felt like I needed some ‘big reason’ not to have children – so often when you read articles about people who don’t have kids they’re all at pains to point out that they chose not to for environmental reasons, or for their career, or because they have a health condition they didn’t want to pass on. But it’s OK if your reason is ‘I don’t want to’. That’s incredibly valid. I’ve never had a maternal thought in my life and I’m totally fine with that!

      1. Agnes*

        I kind of agree about it being an odd question. I do have children and yes, they are a source of joy and purpose, but I assume if I didn’t have them I would be sorry but also have other sources of joy and purpose, and I assume that people who don’t have children feel the same way.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          I thought the question came from a sad place. It sounded like A wants kids but doesn’t have them and is trying to figure out how to live with that.

          1. Anon Poster*

            That’s also how I read the question. I weighed in because I couldn’t help myself, but I almost didn’t because I’m happy without kids because I don’t want kids. That’s not super helpful for a person who wants kids and is wondering how to be happy if they can’t have something important that they really, really want. I don’t have any advice for coping with that sense of loss, all I can do is share the parts of my kid-free life that I like best.

        2. A*

          So many people in my life tell me how much their kids give them purpose. And seemingly don’t understand why I’d choose otherwise. I’m wondering why society keeps telling me this. Am I going to realize I missed a major piece of the puzzle in 10 years?

      2. Myrin*

        I’d like to go one step further than your second paragraph and roughly quote something I read years ago which reeeally resonated with me – when it comes to having kids, anything less than a convinced, enthusiastic “Yes, I actively want children!” means you shouldn’t have children.

        Now certainly this doesn’t need to be 100% true – funnily enough, my own mum has always been very much a “eh, if I have children, that’s fine, and if I don’t have them, that’s fine, too” person and she is and has always been a very good mother! – but as a general idea, it really touched something in me.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I remember years ago reading a book about this, and the author said most (by no means all) people can be divided into Yes, No, and Not Sure when it comes to kids.

          Yes people are people who actively and enthusiastically want to be parents.

          No people are people who actively and enthusiastically do not.

          It’s the middle group–who usually always “just assume” it’ll happen, or do it because their spouse or parents want kids/grandkids, or because of religious or cultural reasons never really question their child producing “destiny” that far outstrip either of the Yes/No groups in terms of numbers, which I found interesting.

    25. Aquamarine*

      I wanted kids in my 20s. Or I thought I did – I wasn’t really thinking past the baby and preschool part. Anyway, in my 30s I was less sure, and I didn’t want to do it if I wasn’t sure. After a few years, I became more comfortable with my decision not to, but the hardest part was when I was around your age because I had a fear of regret. But I didn’t actually experience regret, just the fear of it. I’m happy with my decision, and having kids just feels like a path not taken, and there are lots of those in life.

    26. numptea*

      Well, first of all, I reject your assumptions, so I guess that answers the question. Never wanted ’em, never had ’em, they don’t factor into my life decisions at all.

      If, as your post implies, you believe that children are the only certain way to obtain joy and purpose, nothing I say will convince you otherwise. Your question operates from a mindset of “how did you make up for that lack” and I don’t share that value system.

    27. Nightengale*

      I am 47. I do not have kids (by choice). I get a lot of purpose out of my work – I am a pediatrician caring for kids with disabilities and do a lot of disability advocacy work. I get joy from my work – both clinical and advocacy. I also get joy from hobbies (both solo and communal) and friendships.

  23. Cyndi*

    This might be a little heavy, but it’s not too grim either and I’m not really sure where else to ask it? If it’s out of line I’ll happily accept my mod-whacking.

    I’m neurodivergent (diagnosed ADHD and what I call a “soft” autism diagnosis) and a few weeks ago I became a dog owner for the first time in my life! This is something I’ve wanted very badly and was planning for years before I was in a position to look after a dog, I have years of shelter experience–and I was totally familiar with the idea of “puppy blues” but I’m not sure if that’s the issue I’m having.

    My dog is very cute and mostly good and very excited about me, which is….what I wanted a dog for? But I’ve realized that part of the stress I’m feeling about her is essentially the fatigue of ND masking. Looking after her feels the same as when I’m in social situations I’m not sure about, except instead of having to consciously monitor and manage myself, I’m managing the behavior of someone else who doesn’t understand why she can’t do certain things and frankly has no reason to care. It’s exactly the same kind of low-grade constant mental load. Plus I’m reverting into revenge sleep procrastination, because even my free time in the evening doesn’t feel “mine” until after I take her for her last walk, go into my room without her and shut the door.

    Have any other neurodivergent dog owners had this experience? Is it really just a kind of puppy blues that will pass?

    1. Autistic with two dogs*

      We got a puppy in February, and it was really hard. For me, it was resenting how much he upended my schedule and how my best time of the day (super-early mornings) was now all about taking care of him.

      It was rough for about two months (we got him when he was about 8 weeks old), and then he started to need less constant supervision. (Interestingly, my husband found the first couple of months easier and then found the next couple of months harder because the puppy slept less and was not as cute.)

      I’m wondering if there’s a way to reframe the challenge because thinking about it in terms of ND masking fatigue might make it harder to carry. Something like, right now, I am putting the time and energy into training this pup, and it’s hard, but it won’t be like this forever.

      I drew on my experience of having had a newborn – that the minutes and hours are long but the months and then years fly – to remind myself that all this puppy nonsense was temporary and we would get through it.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of the meme showing a small cute puppy, a velociraptor, and then a larger cute puppy. Once they get past the stumbling stage puppies are a lot!

    2. sswj*

      I don’t know how old the puppy is or how long you’ve had her, but … puppies are WORK. It won’t always be this way, and this WORK phase can be made shorter if you are diligent about training and routines now. It’s a big change in life for both of you, so have patience with her and with yourself.
      Routines and pretty black-and-white rules for what’s allowed and what isn’t will help a lot and speed her transition to be a good friend and not simply stress. If you can get into a puppy training class somewhere, or better yet get some one-on-one instruction, that might give you a solid framework to work from.
      I will say though that pet care is always a bit of a stressor, and I say that as someone who has had (and still has) many, many, many animals in my life and am not ND, so far as I know. I love my furry friends dearly, they are my family, and they are my joy, and my comfort, and they are also always there in the back of my mind as a low-grade worry. They can’t care for themselves, so I’m always thinking about litterboxes, when do the dogs need to go out/in, food and feeding etc. Of course it’s hugely multiplied for me (11 house cats, 2 dogs, 3 barn cats, 1 horse, 4 goats) and at bottom I enjoy it, but they need me and I can never really be free of that thought.
      If none of this applies to your situation then I’m sorry for my ramble. But it just seems to me that along with the love and comfort of an animal-friend -which is why we need them in our lives- there will also be the caretaking aspect which is a constant Must Do in life.
      Give yourself and her some time though. Once the new wrinkles in your days smooth out you’ll be better able to say if having a dog is really good for you or not.
      Hang in there!

    3. Boog*

      Puppy regret is real. I was eternally grateful a friend warned me of this before ours came home. Having a puppy is like having a human infant and both of these experiences are exhausting. For both events I found myself awake at night pondering WTF did I get myself into?

      My personal experience has been that as our puppy grew older (she’s almost a year and half now) and was better trained, the stress and demands and workload reduced, and I came to enjoy her presence a lot more. She – like all dogs – want to be around a human constantly. But we’ve found ways for her to be alone for reasonable periods of time because realistically we can’t have a human attached to her 24/7. I still have moments where I need to shut the door and hide, much like I did with my kids when they were preschoolers.

      I love my dog and cannot imagine my life without her. I can honestly say all the adjustment and stress were worth it. But it’s a lot of hard work. It’s okay to prioritize yourself and take breaks away from the puppy. My kid is ND too and I suspect if he ever gets a puppy as an adult he too would need a period of stress and adjustment because that’s what you go through when you have a new fur baby.

    4. nopetopus*

      Yep, been there done that. It helped me learn that I’m not actually a dog person. For me it was the masking and burnout, but I also realized that dogs make my sensory issues worse. Mostly around sounds but also tactile sensory stuff too.

      I took good care of my little dude until he passed, but I promised myself no more dogs.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it is very normal when getting a new pet to have some fatigue set in as this stops being exciting and new and starts being something you have to think about every day. (When my husband took our dogs to visit his sister for several weeks, it was a noticeable “Now that’s a thing I don’t have to think about” shift for me.)

    6. Generic Name*

      As a dog owner myself, my thoughts are it could be just a period of adjustment to the high demands of caring for a puppy, or it could be that caring for a dog in general is more work than you wanted or expected. My dog is a wonderful dog and is what people call a “Velcro dog”. She has to be next to one of her humans nearly 100% of the time. I actually love that, and I love her companionship. I love caregiving as well. Not everyone does, and that’s okay.

    7. Cyndi*

      I want to clarify that I use the term “puppy blues” as I’ve seen it used for adjustment woes with new dogs with all ages. My dog is 2, came directly from another loving family, and is perfectly housebroken, chill at home alone, loves her crate, etc. Of course she has issues and we’re starting a training class today, but she’s comparatively speaking a very easy dog! Which is exactly why I feel guilty for being stressed by her.

      I really appreciate everyone’s responses! But if anyone neurodivergent has any input specific to that I’d still welcome it.

    8. RagingADHD*

      I am not really grokking what you mean by the concept of “masking” here. The dog doesn’t care how you act unless you have, IDK, physical stims, impulsive movements, or emotional reactivity that agitate her.

      If you just mean that keeping her out of trouble or training her are a lot of work, maybe that could be ameliorated by making changes to the physical environment of the home so that there are fewer arbitrary rules to enforce, and less opportunity for her do be able to do things you don’t want her doing.

      I have not had a dog, but I’ve had guinea pigs and cats, and I found that tending to their needs was very helpful in creating daily structure and keeping me from falling down infinite mental rabbit holes. Particularly because they make noise or (for cats) come interrupt me when they need something.

      1. Cyndi*

        I mean, I do sometimes feel the need to fake emotional reactions to her because I worry about her feeling rejected or unwanted, like when she’s really hyped to see me in the morning and I won’t be awake enough to be a person for another two hours? But that isn’t actually what I’m talking about!

        I’m talking about masking in the sense that monitoring and managing HER behavior, and her interactions with others, and having to figure out how to get her to do things I know she knows how to do but won’t always do for no clear reason. It’s the same way I routinely have to wrangle myself.

        1. BubbleTea*

          I’m not sure if this is precisely what you are talking about, but my dog is a rescued street dog and I’m never fully relaxed in public with him. He is reactive to certain breeds, nervous of children, and generally anxious, so I am constantly monitoring our surroundings and keeping an eye on him. Add to that the fact I’ve got a two year old and I’m hyperalert all the time. On the rare days when both of them are in daycare, I struggle to adjust to being responsible for only myself! It is tiring, but my dog is unusually hard work due to trauma, and also has made enormous progress in the years I’ve had him.

    9. Zephy*

      I’m managing the behavior of someone else who doesn’t understand why she can’t do certain things and frankly has no reason to care.

      That is the crux of dog ownership. Or any pet ownership, tbh. It’s only been a few weeks – this dog barely knows you and has hardly had any time to learn your routines. Especially if this dog is either very young (under 2 years), or has spent most of her life in a shelter environment, she needs you to extend her some grace while she learns how to be a pet (and, in the case of a puppy, how to be a dog at all). If she’s never been a pet before, it’s going to take some work from both of you to figure out what that means and what it looks like.

      You certainly know how challenging it is to figure out how to be in an unfamiliar place, and you have the benefit of at least being able to, you know, read, and Google stuff, and ask questions and be understood by others. Ms. Pup doesn’t speak English, can’t read, can’t ask Google how to dog. She just has to make a best guess at how to express what she needs, and trial-and-error her way through figuring out what you want.

    10. Rachel*

      Every time I’ve introduced a new person in my orbit, it takes time to feel the same level of relaxing when I’m alone as I do with them.

      Husband, kids, dogs, roommates, etc have all fallen under this umbrella. For me, the feeling where they have to be completely away to feel relaxed does go away, but it takes time.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree. I have a different type of ND than you describe OP and I don’t know if it’s a similar situation, but I’ll just say in the beginning, my dog’s neediness (as I saw it) was a huge issue for me, and I wondered if I had made a mistake although I had done a lot of planning and preparation and thought I was ready.To be fair, I resolved to just take great care of Dog forever even if I hated it and then have no more dogs. It took several months of decreasingly but not vanishingly feeling this way. I now remember the feeling, but no longer have it; both the dog settled down a bit, and I adjusted a bit, and we met in the middle.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Clarifying – “even if I hated it” meaning the care work, not the dog; I never hated the dog, as he is lovely.

    11. crookedglasses*

      Ohhh, wow. yeah. There’s are some dots here that I hadn’t connected in my own experience, but this resonates. I had a dog who was *a lot* and that need to be on/vigilant/attentive really only subsided once she was pretty old and mellowed out. I suspect that for most dogs that level of attention and focus would also wane as they moved out of the puppy years, especially if you’ve laid a strong foundation with training.

      For what it’s worth, I think that kind of attunement is the hallmark of a really good dog parent.

      1. Cyndi*

        I’m glad it makes sense to at least one other person! I’m trying to really work hard on her leash manners right now so that Being On feeling is especially on my mind lately.

    12. Jopunzi*

      Autistic, one dog. I totally relate to this experience. I‘ve always wanted a dog, we‘ve now had him for 2 years; it has gotten easier but it doesn’t go away. There is just this constant pull of needing things or wanting things and it keeps stressing me. To be sure, I love my little boy to bits! And he’s very good for my husband’s mental health. But if I got to go back, I would not make this choice again, much as I love him. I miss my alone time.

    13. Surprisingly ADHD*

      Not a dog but a rescue kitten from the garden. She was about 2 months old and starving and sick and needed to be fed every 3 hours round the clock and medicated 3 times a day and also to be held for warmth (ended up sleeping on my chest overnight for 3 days). Soo much work but now shes over a year old and a lovely cuddly companion. The first few weeks were really tough, I was pretty worn out. But she was cute and I had help from family when they could be home. It was hard to get through that first stage, I really had to drag myself along sometimes. I got advice from anywhere I could and used the tips that helped while ignoring the ones that didn’t. So yeah, it’s tough especially with a new schedule that kept changing. I needed alarms and rewards for myself to keep everything together. But it gets easier as the animal is older and more independent and knows the rules better!

  24. SodaStream*

    I’m looking for suggestions or recommendations for lemon flavoring for my SodaStream machine. I used to buy the lemon Bubly drops at Bed Bath and Beyond, but now that they closed, I’m having trouble finding it. (It’s not even listed on the SodaStream website anymore.)

    There is no Walmart where I live, and on principle I don’t buy online from Walmart or Amazon unless there is absolutely no other option. (Even so, it’s listed out of stock on those websites too.)

    I’m not committed to the Bubly brand; I just want something lemon flavored – but not lemonade. (I’m also not interested in buying lemons and squeezing the juice myself.)

    1. MissCoco*

      Have you tried plain old lemon extract?
      I’ve never tried true lemon, but I’ve also heard very good things about it for drinks. I know it’s a powder though, so may not work right with the soda stream

      1. Anonymous 75*

        I used to use the true lemon and true lime with seltzer water all the time and they worked great. Good suggestion.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      For a relatively light/non sweet flavour, try cocktail bitters. I haven’t specifically tried lemon, but the Fee Brothers grapefruit bitters works well. Plus, a bottle of bitters lasts a long time, as you only need a few dashes in a glass of water.

    3. Emma*

      Can you just buy some lemon juice? I buy big bottles from Costco and add them to my lemonade, but regular grocery stores sell them too.

    4. NumbersLady*

      Shaws supermarket also has the Bubly drops (at least in MA) but I can’t speak to the lemon flavor being available or not. Another great option is flavored balsamic vinegars. I’ve used so many different flavors in there, including lemon. Although I’m sure you could flavor the whole bottle, I choose to flavor individual glasses as I think it makes cleaning the sodastream bottles easier.

    5. Not So Little My*

      My friend brought me Bitter Housewife lime coriander bitters, and it’s now my favorite fizzy water flavor. I want to get the grapefruit and orange bitters next.

    6. NB*

      I like to put a little bit of lemon or lime zest in my water. No juicing needed. I just take a paring knife and slice off a piece of the zest from the fruit. I drop it in the water and that’s it.

      I miss BB&B. There are a few products that I’ve only been able to find there. *sigh*

  25. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading, and give or request recs.

    I’m almost finished with Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood. It’s a fun, light romance set in the world of STEM academia, and I’ve enjoyed it a lot. She tends to write about enemies to lovers rather than a big breakup in the middle, and since I dislike the third act breakup plot line I’m enjoying that part.

    1. Jamie Starr*

      I Could Live Here Forever by Hanna Halperin. I’m about 1/3 of the way in. It’s about a young woman who begins a romantic relationship with a recovering heroin addict. From the jacket it, “exposes the chasm between perception and truth to tell the story of one woman’s relationship with an addict, the accompanying swirl of compassion and co-dependence, and her enduring search for love and wholeness.”

      I like it so far.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Rereading Frankenstein. Next up, Dracula! I’ve probably read that thirty, forty times now but still find new things to theorize about every time.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I did it last time around! It was a fun way to read the book but I feel like I missed out by not being involved in the social media side of things. It’s great for the most part but you get long periods where there’s nothing and then there’s a really dense part where you get long emails every day, I fell behind at that point lol

          1. Queer Earthling*

            Yeah, I was active in the Tumblr side of things last year and it was super fun to see people reacting, analyzing, making silly fanart, and so on; this year I tried reading it but the community wasn’t as active (or at least, no one I watched was), and I kinda fell out of the habit of keeping up. Reading a book in pieces isn’t as fun without people reading with you, I guess!

        2. beep beep*

          I read through with the group last year, and then ordered the (Dracula Daily, that is) book, which just arrived! So I’m going to crack it open soon. Apparently it includes some choice bits of the internet response as well, so I think it’ll be fun.

    3. Mitchell Hundred*

      Shaman’s Crossing by Robin Hobb. It’s the first book of hers that I’ve read, and I’m liking it so far (only a few dozen pages in, so I’m not quite sure how to describe it quite yet).

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Glitter and Concrete by Elissa Maxx Goodman. It’s a history of New York’s drag culture and it is FASCINATING.

    5. The Prettiest Curse*

      I’m almost finished with SPQR by Mary Beard, which is a fascinating and very entertaining history of 1,000 years of the Roman Empire. (Due to this book, I could truthfully answer that I was thinking a lot about the Roman Empire when that question started trending, though since I’m not a dude it apparently doesn’t count.)

      The most hilarious bit of this book is comparing all the various myths about the emporers to what may have actually happened. (Nero apparently strummed a lyre instead of playing a violin while Rome burned.) Oh, and Caligula’s actual first name was Gaius. “Caligula” was an embarrassing childhood nickname that just stuck.

      1. Atheist Nun*

        I used to work with someone who named his cat Caligula because he had little white boot/sock markings on his otherwise dark fur.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          Oh, that’s adorable! I’m sure Caligula the emporer’s parents thought that the nickname was cute for a kid, but it sounds like it would have been less so for an adult.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I think he got it from the legion that guarded them? He was kind of their mascot and they called him “little boots” as a pet name.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Wonderful! I have been wanting a new book to read about the Roman Empire. I have read Gibbon so many times, and would love a fresh perspective. Thank you!

        On a related note, saw this T-shirt at a recent music festival. Should have bought it:

        Granddaughter of Augustus
        Sister of Caligula
        Wife of Claudius
        Mother of Nero
        (when you think YOUR family is a problem……)”

    6. Loopy*

      Reading the from Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout based on a strong recommendation from a friend but…..I have some real issues with the relationship and overall behavior from the male protagonist. It’s a bit uncomfortable so I’m deciding whether I want to push through and see if it gets better or abandon ship.

      I probably wouldn’t recommend it so that tells me a lot. I usually have no qualms with quitting a series but the friend and I are book buddies and it’s fun to debate books with her so I may see where it goes for now.

      Has anyone else ever struggled with the should I stick with it or just stop for series readers?

      1. Still Monty and Millie's Mom*

        I LOVE a good series, so am usually excited to find one and hate the thought of “losing” it if I quit. But I usually do quit if I’m not enjoying it. There are SO MANY books out there that I’ll enjoy that I don’t have time to waste on ones I don’t like. :)

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Talk to your friend! Ask them if the male protagonist gets better (or gets written out of the books, or whatever would make the series enjoyable for you).

        I am disappointed when a friend doesn’t like a book or series I recommend to them, but I don’t want my friends to read books that don’t click with them. If a friend ever asked me “does XYZ continue in the rest of the book/series? Because I don’t like it,” I would give them an honest answer so they can make the correct continue reading or abandon ship choice.

        (Also a perk of this series being recommended by a friend: if you have that “want to know what happens” itch, just ask your friend to give you a verbal run-down of the rest of the series so you know what happens and are freed up to read other books. I have given and received a few verbal re-caps of books that a friend/I didn’t finish.)

        1. Loopy*

          Today I mentioned my reservations but she swore up and down I should stay the course and so I will trust her judgement! That’s why its so nice to find someone who has such similar taste in books! I haven’t had a book friend ever who welcomes all the texts and theories and gushing so it’s been a wonderful social experience!

    7. word nerd*

      As I feared, Network Effect (Murderbot) was the duddiest dud I’ve ever seen at my book club meeting. No one even finished it; one person read all of 10 pages and gave up. Ah well, now I know not to go for scifi with my book club, but that and some other things last night highlighted for me some of the other differences we have and the fact that I have yet to make a really good friend in this city after moving here 5 years ago.

      I really enjoyed Piranesi by Susanna Clarke this week, although I have a feeling it’s not a book for everyone. It’s pretty different from Strange & Norrell, but she’s so good at immersing the reader within a different world! I felt totally transported.

      I’ve definitely squeezed a lot of juice from my Audible trial (11 days left). Howl’s Moving Castle popped up recently–I went through a huge Diana Wynne Jones binge five years ago and I think this was my first book of hers I ever read. It was just as good as a reread (or read + listen I should say)! :)

      1. GoryDetails*

        I really loved “Piranesi,” though I’d put off reading it for a long time because I didn’t think it could possibly compare to “Strange & Norrell,” which I adored. And it doesn’t compare, they’re very different books indeed, but the whole tone and ambiance and imagination of “Piranesi” was delightful (if often rather creepy), and with a much more upbeat ending than I’d dared to hope for.

      2. carcinization*

        Cheers from a fellow person whose book club selection went over like a lead balloon… I’m also a speculative fiction type but chose We Need to Talk About Kevin instead when it was my turn as the subject is kind of germane to my job so I was curious… but it freaked the other people out and they had a really unpleasant time trying to read it. That was a few years back and now I’m in a book club that is all sci-fi/fantasy/horror, that’s put on by my local library, so it’s a bit better I guess. Also, I guess I liked Piranesi a bit better than Strange & Norrell, but it’s a close thing and they were so different!

        1. word nerd*

          Haha, thanks for making me feel not alone in choosing unpopular books for book club. I would totally want to join your sci-fi book club except I don’t like horror!

          I adored the first half of Strange & Norrell but was very disappointed by how things played out in the end, so I would say for me Piranesi wins over S&N overall.

          P.S. I looked up your username and was fascinated to learn about carcinization, which I’d never heard of before! Evolution is so cool–thanks for that tidbit!

    8. Hlao-roo*

      I started Burn it Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood by Maureen Ryan this week. A tough read in places, but I really appreciate that Ryan continually makes the point that abusive bosses are bad for the workers and bad for the quality of the art that is created (the work product! very similar to discussions of jerk bosses/coworkers I’ve read here).

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        There’s a quote I love from a writer on Roger Ebert’s site referring to Woody Allen and the #metoo movement that goes something like: Think of all the great art that could be made if fewer assholes were allowed to make it.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      The Last Devil to Die, the fourth entry in the Thursday Murder Club. Excellent as are the others.

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      I finished reading “The Push” by Ashley Audrain. It was….I dunno. I found it compulsively readable but kind of shallow. (Also HUGE content warning for child death.) I found myself not caring about any of the chapters about the narrator’s mother or grandmother, and those chapters really felt like red herrings. I guess for me, the book felt like a clumsy magic trick that had a lot of promise but didn’t quite land and isn’t as clever or thought-provoking as it could have been.

      I’ve just started “Mister Magic”, which I am really looking forward to. And I have “Whalefall” waiting on my Kindle – a bunch of library holds came in at once.

    11. PhyllisB*

      I’m reading Death Comes to Marlow by Robert Thurgood. This is the second in a series, the first being the Marlow Murder Club. If you like feisty older women in books, you will love this.

      1. PhyllisB*

        Also forgot to say, if you like the Thursday Murder Club series, you will like The Marlow Murder Club. I just finished, and can’t wait for the next one. I believe it’s titled Queen of Poisons.

    12. Sitting Pretty*

      Just finished two great reads this week!

      “The Sense of Wonder” by Matthew Salesses, a novel about the first Korean-American player in the NBA. It’s a really snappy, fun story woven through with K-drama themes. There are egos and betrayals, love and heartbreak, a reporter with questionable motives, and just a host of great characters. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed a sports novel, not my usual genre!

      And “Flux” by Jinwoo Chong. It’s a story of a guy who lands a job at a mysterious company that might be doing time travel and brain experiments to power a new kind of battery. It’s a bit sci-fi but it’s also really about family relationships and being a twenty-something trying to figure out professional and personal stuff. Chong’s storytelling (and characters) grabbed my attention and held it to the end.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If you liked Flux, you might want to check out As She Climbed Across the Table, by Johnathan Lethem (best known for Motherless Brooklyn.)

        It’s about a man who loses his lover, not to another person, but to a window into another dimension her team has created in a lab. They call the phenomenon Lack, and some things thrown into it/him disappear while others simply go through and land on the floor with no apparent rhyme or reason.

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me this week. For non-fiction, Crucial Conversations by Joseph Grenny et al. It is literally that – process of and guidance for kind & productive conversations in business & personal life. Interesting, but a bit much. I much prefer Non-Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.

      And for fiction (or is it???), 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke. I had the immense good fortune to see this on a big screen at a repertory cinema this month. I picked up the book to round out the experience, and got the lovely new Penguin Galaxy hardcover. In the Series Introduction by Neil Gaiman (squuueeeee!) at the start of the book, he mentions that Clarke and Stanley Kubrick worked on the screenplay for the film together, and during that time, Clarke wrote the book, which fills in the gaps. Wow. Does it ever. There are at least two more books (2010 and 2061) but I don’t think I will read them, as it sounds like they change the dreamy meaning of 2001. I will keep it as a full circle.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        I read some of Nick Bantock’s books this week, including the Griffin and Sabine series, ( 1 to 3), and loved them. A really unique style and I love epistolary novels. :)

        I just started The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, and am enjoying it so far. :)

      2. allathian*

        I also recommend “The Lost Worlds of 2001” that includes stuff that was left out of the movie script and original novel. Clarke also describes the movie-making process in more detail, it was a really fascinating read. He once said that the movie script should be credited to Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke and the novel should have the credits reversed.

        There are three more books in the series, 2010, 2061, and 3001. I found each of them enjoyable in its own way, although the sequels follow the 2001 movie in that the monolith was found in an orbit around Jupiter rather than Saturn. The main reason for this was that Kubrick and Douglas Trumbull (the FX producer) were unsure of how to convincingly show Saturn’s rings on screen. The movie was made and the book written before humans had walked on the moon, even if the Apollo program was well underway at the time. It was also long before the Voyager space probes and their detailed pictures of the planets and their moons, Clarke, Kubrick, and Trumbull relied on observations from the Earth’s surface. An additional benefit was that doing it this way shortened the movie because they didn’t have to show the gravity slingshot around Jupiter to get to Saturn.

        The sequels are more technical and less dreamy, but I enjoyed them anyway.

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

      About to start Caleb Carr’s *Italian Secretary*, a Sherlock Holmes novel, and looking forward to it. There are some series that I won’t read when someone other than the original author tries to continue the series (can’t do the latter-day James Bond novels or Nero Wolfe novels, for example), but fortunately, I do not have that kind of attachment to the Sherlock Holmes stories, so I think this should be fun!

    15. Annie Edison*

      I finished We Are All the Same in the Dark on audio book this week. I read it for a book club I joined in an effort to make friends after a move and… It was kind of terrible? Everyone else in the group seems to be loving it though, so I’m trying to think of something positive to say about it before we meet
      I’m now reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, which is much more up my alley

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Love Kingsolver. Her early stuff especially is funny, and her essay on writing a sex scene in her collection of same is a riot.

    16. GoryDetails*

      In memory of David McCallum, I did a re-read of “The Great Escape” by Paul Brickhill, the book on which the 1963 film was based. (McCallum played a secondary character in the film – and was among the last surviving members of the top dozen.)

      Starting in on my stacks of spooky/Halloween-themed reading, with:

      Where the Dead Go To Die by Aaron Dries and Mark Allan Gunnells, so far an extremely poignant novel set in a world where a zombie plague has become incorporated into everything from health care, hospice, and politics. It focuses on a woman who’s raising her daughter alone after her husband was bitten by an Infected; now she works at a care-facility, where those who are still alive but infected are tended – and, as soon as they die and turn, summarily executed. There are lots of themes quite relevant to real-world hospice-care, as well as to illnesses with their own stigmas; the “zombie” element is used in a surprisingly thoughtful way, and I’m already painfully involved with the main characters, not all of whom will (probably) survive the story.

    17. Bluebell*

      Just finished Rogue Justice, second in a new series from Stacey Abrams. Really good thriller, though if you tested me on all the government acronyms, I’d fail. Rereading Laurie Colwin’s Home Cooking, because I bought a copy for my niece for her birthday. I have Ahabs Wife up next.

    18. YouwantmetodoWHAT?! *

      I’ve been binging on the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. So far I’ve read 5 of them – in almost as many days. Taking a break and reading a book of short stories.

    19. Elizabeth West*

      Currently reading Chuck Wendig’s Black River Orchard, where he has channeled his love of heirloom apples into a cracking good horror story. :) I like to read on transit to and from work and usually have a book reserved on my phone for that, but this one is so good I don’t think I’ll be able to wait to finish it.

      I also started re-reading Harry Potter to see if I wanted to get rid of the books but unfortunately, I’m still enjoying it.

    20. Person from the Resume*

      The House is on Fire by Rachel Beanland is a functional used account of a theater fire in Richmond, VA in 1811. The short chapters are tell the events of the day of the fire and the following two days from the POV of a white woman and a black enslaved woman who were attending the show, a white boy in the theater company, and an enslaved man who was not at the show but helped rescue trapped people.

      Page turner. Very feminist.

    21. carcinization*

      Last weeks’ read was Hall’s Star Eater, which I enjoyed. I’d had it on my book wishlist since it was mentioned on the tor website when it came out, but hadn’t gotten around to ordering it until I was buying someone else a gift on the thriftbooks site (because this person is anti-Amazon) and needed to spend a few more dollars to get to free shipping. The book has middling reviews but I thought it was interesting and not especially derivative, though I guess the ending could have had more going for it.

  26. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I started Final Fantasy 6 this week. I’m enjoying it a lot. It has the traditional Final Fantasy feel to it and that reminds me of my childhood. And it’s nice to pick up a new game and instinctively understand the gaming system.

    1. Cyndi*

      I’m playing the original Resident Evil 3, and it’s the first game I’ve ever played with mandatory tank controls and they are SO difficult to get used to. I swear the controls are kicking my tail worse than anything actually happening in the game.

      On a very different front I’m close to finishing a puzzle game called Opus Magnum where you have to assemble little machines that assemble molecules out of atoms! And then you can save them as GIFs and watch your little machine on loop until your eyes glaze over. It’s very satisfying.

      Oh, and I’m absolutely in love with the demo for a game called Slay the Princess and I can’t wait for the full game to come out in a few weeks!

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Guild Wars 2 my ranger finally got a turtle pet. I finally started concentrating on one character and ind I’m able to tag the bad guy and then run around keeping low level players alive. I love it that GW2 gives rewards to people who choose to primarily help/heal!

      Have not quite come to terms with the changed system for dailies though.

    3. Goose*

      What’s everyone favorite mobile game of the moment? I’m digging “I want watermelon” which is a mix of 2048 and Tetris with fruit shapes.

      1. No name yet*

        I’m kind of unreasonably obsessed with DragonCity – you breed dragons, collect different kinds, have battles against other/computer dragons.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Triple Match — basically there’s a 3D-ish pile of objects and you have to pick them out in sets of 3 – you can only hold up to 7 items that aren’t a full set at a time. Each level has a set of goals, where you’re supposed to pick out (for example) 9 orange airplanes, 12 stuffed narwhals, 9 pieces of chocolate cake and 6 golden crowns. You can get bonuses, like a magnet that will complete one set of 3 or a fan that will shuffle the whole pile, and each level is timed.

        Bonus, every so often they pop up an option for me to pay $4.99 to remove ads, but I’ve never actually seen an ad in the 1200-odd levels I’ve played so far. Hah.

    4. Jay*

      I got bored with my AAA titles and scoured my Steam library for an old Indy game that I maybe got on sale and then forgot about (been using Steam for like 20 years now, or something, I’ve got a really BIG library at this point, and most of it is old Indy-style games).
      I loaded up Sunless Skies for the first time since I bought it.
      I’m struggling with it, but it’s still something new and interesting on a cold, rainy Autumn day.

    5. Sara K*

      Completely engaged by Baldur’s Gate 3. Absolutely loving the storyline and the intricacies of the choice pathways (so many times where I have to stop and really think about the choices I am making). I also recently picked up Trine 5 – a very cute puzzle 2D platformer. I have played all the earlier ones and I just find them charming.

    6. Quinalla*

      Playing Factorio again, it’s fun, but also has some tedious moments.

      I’ve been playing Planet Crafter which is just a super chill game which seems to be what I need most right now. Even if you die, it’s really not a big deal.

      I’m on the lookout for for the next new things to play – City Skylines 2 is looking pretty awesome so looking forward to that!

  27. MozartBookNerd*

    Ergonomics in a 4-door sedan! With the Honda Accord that my wife and I are replacing after 20 years, the only negative was substantial back pain during long highway drives (think 3 to 5 hours). Of course any fixed position is going to get painful after a long period. And maybe that’s even truer as we reach our 60’s. But do some car models have better lumbar support or similar features (I hope)?

    1. Rara Avis*

      I have driven with a small low back pillow for 35 years. The commercial lumbar pillows are too big for me. This is about 12 by 8 inches and gives me adequate back support (and also helps my neck — I find the headrest of all modern cars pushes my head forward at an uncomfortable angle without a pillow).

      1. Might Be Spam*

        I took off the headrest and turned it around so it is backwards and doesn’t push my head forward.

      2. Generic Name*

        For the headrest, sometimes there’s a setting to make the headrest tilt forward and another to make it more vertical. I’d check the owners manual or maybe google it. In Subarus, you can gently pull on the headrest and it will toggle between the two settings.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      Cars often have terrible ergonomics, and I understand the back pain thing. A physical therapist pointed out a common sources of discomfort, which is the seat design that puts your butt lower than your knees. Based on the advice of the PT, I got a wedge cushion so my butt is slightly higher than my knees. (Some people do fine with a knees and butt at the same level.) Ever since I started sitting on my wedge cushion, I’m completely pain free on long road trips of 5+ hours and that continues to work in my 60s.

      The product I’ve used for years is the McCarty’s Sacro-Ease Wedge seat cushion, a bit pricey but lasts for many years. When I travel, I bring a small inflatable cushion for rental cars, airplanes, etc. and that works well.

      1. ronda*

        I have had the same experience. wedge cushion is a help.

        and pretty much all seats are this way because safer in a crash.

    3. Just here for the scripts*

      I feel that my 5’4.5” female frame never fits the lumbar supports positioned by the auto designer, I have found that using the seat heaters on our monthly 300 mile/5 hour trip upstate (and back) has made a world of difference

      1. Generic Name*

        I’m 5 ft 3 and this is why I only buy Japanese brand cars. They’re made by short people for short people. ;)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Weirdly, Toyotas give me horrendous back pain but Hondas are fine :) (5’4″ here.)

    4. fposte*

      There is no good car seat for everybody. I like that my Prius has 8-way adjustable seats and I change things up periodically on longer drives, but I still bring lumbar towels, seat cushions, and extra footrests for when I need even more adjustment.

    5. Anon. Scientist*

      You need to take some good long test drives because everyone’s back is different. I was heartbroken when I went to replace my 2004 Mazda and the new seats dug into the back of my knee in a unadjustable way and it was painful after 5 minutes. And Mazda has One small car seat.

      I find smaller/lower car seats to be infinitely more ergonomic than upright “chair” seats found in SUVs and trucks, and firmer is better than cushier. I’m a small framed 5’3″ and spouse is over 6′ and built like an ox (I didn’t get a Nissan Rogue because he literally didn’t fit in the passenger seat) and we do equally well in low slung, sporty cars – I have a VW GTI and he has an Audi sporty sedan with AWD.

      1. Anon. Scientist*

        Replying to add that I happen to love my GTI but the Golf has the same interior and I can fit a bookcase, a full Christmas tree, and full size brooms/shovels inside with no problem. We have go-fast cars with good ergonomic support but they don’t look obnoxiously sporty.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Seconding the Golf! With the back seats down, it has the storage capacity of a light truck. Love it! And the seats are deep and curvy. I am not a fan of the headrests, but they are more adjustable than other makes I looked at when car shopping.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have a picture somewhere of a seven-foot-tall friend in my Smart car. He was perfectly comfortable in the car – the reason I couldn’t let him ride with me anywhere was because he was also 350 pounds and the car would bottom out on anything other than a perfectly flat surface, I was worried that trying to go over speed bumps with him in the car would rip the axles off :P

    6. Pippa K*

      I adore the seats in my several-year-old VW, to the point where I dread having to replace him someday. But we just bought a new Kia to be my husband’s primary vehicle and I was pleased to find that the seats are both comfy and highly adjustable. What I noticed when we were trying to decide on a new car was that even within a particular make and model, seat quality could vary substantially by trim level, so springing for the nicer version was a necessity for us.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Often times, the seats in more expensive vehicle trim lines will be different and have more cushioning, padding and support and adjustments than those in the cheaper versions of a given model of car, so you might want to look at different versions of the same car and see what you think.

      Many years ago I had a boss and I pushed her into a buying a Cadillac (because she wanted one anyway and she sort of needed to buy an American car because of who her clients were). I can’t think of the exact name of the feature the car came with, but it was basically the same thing as “magic fingers.” The seats would sort of vibrate and give you a massage as you were driving. She loved it and said she often used it on long trips.

    8. Imtheone*

      I have a separate lumbar pillow in my car. Even with the pretty good lumbar support in my Subaru, it’s not enough for me.

  28. Fruit Snacks*

    What’s cooking?
    I feel like I’ve been eating a lot of processed foods and have been craving salads the past few days. Bonus points for your favorite salad (and even more if it can be meal prepped!)

    There’s a local chain here that has a salad that’s a spring mix based, with apples, candied pecans, dried cranberries, feta with a white balsamic dressing. Add in their grilled chicken, their famous “bread” and some extra dressing (to dip the bread in of course) and it’s my most favorite salad ever. I’m still trying to nail down the dressing. Once I do, this will be a regular lunch option.

    Another favorite is a riff on a Vietnamese vermicelli bowl meets teriyaki bowl with rice noodles, spring greens, carrots, cucumber, chicken, green onion and cilantro but topped with a teriyaki sauce. The teriyaki sauce makes it feel more filling (my grandmother is Vietnamese so a traditional vermicelli bowl is my absolute favorite, but working retail, I need the fullness the teriyaki sauce provides).

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I got myself ravioli stamps for my birthday months ago, and haven’t used them yet. This weekend will be the time! I wanted to make a ricotta and butternut squash filling, but the store was out of it, so it’ll be either spinach or mushroom, with smoked ricotta grated on top. Hope I don’t mess it up – my first attempt years ago without stamps ended up in many exploded ravioli in the pan.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I like really simple salads – my favorite is baby spinach with tomatoes, grilled chicken and a few sliced white mushrooms, with honey mustard dressing. I had it on a cruise the first night (without the chicken) and I apparently was so obvious in my enjoyment of it that the waiter brought me one as a side every night even though it wasn’t on any of the other menus. (I added the chicken when I started replicating it at home.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I like spinach but also love really mild lettuces like Bibb and butter, with sliced cucumber. Husband makes a great vinaigrette but I also like creamy dressings.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, recent experiment: I tried a savory Dutch baby, except I forgot the recipe my friend gave me and sort of winged it, so I ended up with I think more eggs than I should so it was closer to a sort of frittata than a proper Dutch baby but still really good.

      Preheat an oven and a cast iron skillet to 350, throw a couple tablespoons of butter in the pan followed by a batter of 1 cup each milk and flour (I used King Arthur’s GF AP successfully) and 3-6 eggs depending on how eggy you want it, I used 5 and would probably cut back to 4 next time. Add seasonings to taste, I used a garlic/dried shallot/S/P blend, some green onions and 6 ounces of shredded cheese, then bake for 25 minutes. I served mine with pan fried smoked sausage.

      Next experiment is going to be breakfast-y, going to sprinkle some omelet toppings across the top 5-10 minutes before the end of the bake.

    4. Sloanicota*

      Not cooking, but salad related: my “new thing” is going to be to buy one of those salads from the salad places every week now that I have to go into the office on Mondays for staff meeting. I used to resist buying them because I felt like they were too expensive, and you can buy pre-made boxed salads at the grocery store for like $5 with fancy toppings, but I’m surrendering to the lure of the store now because it seems to be the only way I’ll reliably eat kale, and I think if I ate kale every week I’d be a healthier person. That plus my Friday sushi run pretty much absorbs my whole eating out budget for the week, but I’m focusing on how happy all my cells and organs will be.

    5. beep beep*

      One of my favorite salads is budgetbytes’s honey mustard broccoli salad, which is definitely sturdy enough to be meal prepped, do recommend.

      I’m on vacation for the next couple of weeks, so I’m excited to be able to dedicate some time to cooking! I also recently acquired a dutch oven for the first time, and it’s starting to get cooler in the mornings and the evenings, so I’m looking forward to some dutch babies and some soups and stews. I’ve always kind of disliked beef stew when I’ve had it served to me, but if I can get some good beef and leave out the carrots and cook the potatoes long enough for my liking, I think I might just be able to enjoy it :) I’m told Serious Eats has a good recipe for it, so I’ll probably try that with some modifications for taste.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Oo. I can’t do raw broccoli due to taster issues, but I bet I could probably put something similar together for a cooked side dish. Thank you!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I find searing the stew meat before cooking really does make a difference in taste; I use my Dutch oven for stews, and just sear the meat right in there, then add the ingredients and simmer away.

    6. Elle*

      My recent faves are Smitten Kitchen’s roasted yam and chickpea, How Sweet Eat’s southwestern Chicken and their Lunchtime tortellini chickpea. All make for great leftovers.

    7. Ria*

      I love doing a Southwest salad with grilled chicken, black beans, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo (just chopped tomatoes & onion with a squeeze of lime, chopped cilantro & jalapenos optional), tortilla strips (or crushed tortilla chips) and chipotle dressing (you can just mix chipotle seasoning into mayonnaise and thin it out with some oil) over any kind of lettuce. I meal prep this but keep the tortilla strips and lettuce separate so they don’t get soggy.

      I also do a Greek-ish pasta salad with chopped cucumbers, red bell peppers, tomatoes, olives, sliced red onion, roasted chickpeas (straight from the can works too), and bowtie pasta with feta, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil and oregano. I sometimes sub parmesan if I don’t have any feta, and when I’m craving vegetables my ratio is usually like 75% vegetables to 25% pasta. I batch prep this as well and (I think) it tastes even better on later days because all the flavors have had time to meld together, although it gets a bit wetter because the salt pulls water out of the cucumbers and tomatoes. You could probably do this over a spring mix/lettuce as well instead of pasta.

      I also love a Thai-style salad that sounds really similar to the Vietnamese bowl you mentioned but with peanut sauce instead of teriyaki.

      Or a deconstructed Caprese – cherry tomatoes, baby mozzarella balls, balsamic vinaigrette over spring mix with some salt, pepper, and basil.

      I love any kind of fruit/candied nut/cheese salad too. Strawberry/goat cheese/balsamic/walnut is a favorite of mine.

      Also as it’s moving into fall you could do some with squashes! I’ve had a really good butternut squash salad with roasted cubed butternut squash, goat cheese, maple candied pecans and a cider vinaigrette.

    8. Not Totally Subclinical*

      We often make a three bean salad, three varieties of bean (usually white/navy, kidney, and green beans) mixed with a vinaigrette salad dressing and some chopped onion. We use canned beans, but if you cook big batches of beans from scratch it’d certainly work with those too.

      Another favorite salad is my spouse’s attempt to recreate a pea salad their mother made. Frozen peas, grated cheese, and bacon bits in a sour cream or yogurt dressing. I like it best when the peas are still a little frozen and crunchy, but it’s decent the next day too.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      One of my favorite salad dressings is 1:1 lemon juice to olive oil with a squeeze of honey and salt to taste. The honey emulsifies the other two ingredients. It will keep in the fridge for at least a few days – just let it come to room temperature and stir.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      This week I made spaghetti and Welsh Rabbit for our weekly menu: husband did beef noodles with mashed potatoes and chicken lentil soup. He was supposed to make these garlic/pepper topped pita rounds to go with them but got bored and quit, which is really irritating. The soup’s fine, but I really wanted to try those breads.

    11. carcinization*

      I’m not the most salad-centric person myself and usually go out if I want to to get a good salad like the first one you described (or a nice grilled salmon spinach salad). The closest things I usually make to salads are the Avocado Black Bean Mexican Salad from the Averie Cooks website, and various pasta salads from Smitten Kitchen such as the one with roasted carrots and sunflower seed dressing.

    12. PhyllisB*

      As a riff on the salad with apples, ect. I make a salad sometimes with mixed greens (baby spinach being one of the greens) candied pecans, sliced strawberries, feta cheese and shredded chicken. I used to could find a strawberry balsamic vinegar dressing to go on it, but doesn’t seem to be in stock anymore, but rasberry does just as well. It’s wonderful!!

  29. Unwanted Muse*

    I want to do an “is this a thing?” check:
    Do other people have people from their past that frequently pop up in their heads, usually in a judging / approving / disapproving way?
    At present I have two: an ex co-worker whose good opinion I apparently crave, who pops up at least once a day, and someone I used to have a crush on, who pops up about once a week. In each case, I find myself imagining their judgements when I’m choosing an outfit in the am (do they think it’s a cool outfit or a frumpy outfit? do they think I look good or not? have I passed the test?) and also having mental dialogues with them where I’m defending myself about a choice I’ve made about mundane or profound things.
    It’s often barely conscious.
    I know these people must each symbolise something that matters deeply to me. I think the ex crush is maybe about mourning my youth, and I don’t know about the ex co-worker (I don’t even like or respect her, which makes it extra irritating).
    It’s like each is an unwanted muse.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not super often, mine are more me yelling at myself for not having done something differently. I just posted on social media yesterday:

      “Having a moment this morning of “things I wish I had done differently 25 years ago.” I don’t think it would’ve made any major difference to my life now by any stretch, but.

      When I was separating from my first husband, we had both been asked to be in a wedding, one of us on each side. Without talking to either of us about it first, the groom (who had known my ex since middle school) turfed my ex out of the wedding because he thought it would be too hard for us to be in the same place and the bride didn’t have any other female friends to replace me. By the time I heard about this, it was a done deal AND I had already started getting nasty emails from my ex’s mom and their friends, presumably thinking it had been done at my request.

      In retrospect, I really wish I had told all of them, including the bride and groom, that I thought that was terrible and a really asshole thing to do and that if anyone had asked my opinion beforehand I would’ve said it was 1000% not necessary and I, at least, was more than capable of being polite for a few hours. As it is, I ignored the nasty emails and just told the bride and groom “Well, uh, okay, it’s your wedding?” and let it go at that, and I kind of regret that this morning.“

      1. Unwanted Muse*

        I have regrets like this too. Things we wish we had managed *perfectly*, but didn’t. It makes total sense that you handled it the way you did at the time.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Right? Imagine that, I have a much better response with an additional almost 25 years of life experience under my belt (and also when the situation is entirely in my head) than I did when I was 18. SHOCKER. :) Usually I get these at 2am and spend two hours talking sense back into myself, but this one was prompted by a song (the couple’s wedding song) that popped up on a drive, and everything seems more sensible in daylight.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Ugh, what is it with brains and suddenly going “remember That Thing from 25 years ago? Let’s analyze it!” at 2 in the morning.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Or “Here’s this situation (usually involving someone I’ve gone no-contact with) that would be remarkably unpleasant, but is also about as likely to happen these days as the zombie apocalypse, but I will still spend three wee hours of the morning fretting about what would happen if not only that happened, but I did something remarkably unlikely (like letting them into my house) and THEN had to recover the situation from there.” Like, brain, what EVEN.

              And always the night before something big, like a major meeting or I have to get up early for a flight or something. :P

    2. Sloanicota*

      Wow … no. That’s really interesting. The closest I come is sometimes thinking “what would X friend say about this outfit?” when I’m trying things on, but that would be some dear, current friend who has expressed some kind of fashion opinion or is fashionable themselves. Otherwise, the voice is my head is my own voice.

      1. AGD*

        Same. Nope, but I really feel for anyone who has photographic afterimages of other people and their scrutiny hanging around in their heads. That sounds (understandable, but) awful.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      Yes, I hate this. What’s particularly irritating is that I’m usually pretty balanced and quick to process with other people’s opinions generally. I’ve had drama llamas in my past who tried to get me to care more about others’ opinions, and they never really succeeded. Also, the two people who pop up so frequently aren’t especially wise or dear to me, so I share your irritation about it not being a respected source. In my case it’s an ex who I despise and a friend who I parted ways with, partially because of distance and partially because I found her a bit shallow and insincere sometimes. The only explanation I can come up with is that they are both bright and intelligent, (and caring, in their own way) but very different from me. I must get something from considering their perspective that I can’t get from using my own personality alone. So, I have the same mental dialogues that you refer to with them. They do both represent significant stages of my life, and were around when I made significant missteps so maybe that has something to do with it, to.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I suppose sometimes, when you see somehow who is very different than you succeeding, it makes you reassess your approach and think about “channeling” them more, even if you don’t necessarily like or even respect them. I know I often observe how more outgoing, demanding or direct personalities get their needs met, while I’m pussyfooting around hinting or fishing.

    4. Not A Manager*

      My ex husband. But mostly it’s to say, see, I was right about how I wanted to live my life. I think I’m getting over it.

    5. Be the Change*

      My conservative elder brother. All. The. Time. I think because our parents split up when we were kids and we didn’t grow up together. But I was juuust old enough to have that little sisterly adoration. I reeeaaallly don’t like it, because one of the effects is, I know I make up things in these mental dialogs that are not true about him.

      My sympathies, OP.

    6. Anon. Scientist*

      Glad ro know it’s not just me! This one is finally fading, but I worked with a brilliant jerk who actually had a fairly positive view of me (compared to 95% of people who sucked outright) and I hated that I couldn’t get over wanting his approval. And if something sticks in my mind, I find myself explaining/justifying it to him. Gah! We haven’t worked together for years and I didn’t like him, so why is he taking up so much space!

    7. UKDancer*

      Yes, but they’re more positive than negative. I hear my grandmother’s voice in my head sometimes, especially her clear and ringing laugh and the way she’d respond with excitement when I was telling her something I’d been up to. She was a very frivolous, foolish woman who I loved despite her many faults. When something fun happens I sometimes hear her laughing.

      I also hear my grandfather’s voice when I am having doubts, reassuring me that I can do anything and saying “you can do that, Lass, not many could but you can.” or “that were right canny of you, Our Pet.” He had a lot of sayings and sometimes I hear him say them in my head, especially when I talk to people from the same part of the country with a similar accent.

    8. Jackalope*

      I grew up in an area and subculture where it was somehow acceptable to nitpick at me all the time (note that this was rarely my family, more people at school, church, etc.) about so many tiny things. This was compounded by living in my twenties with some roommates I loved very much and who were also like this – it was harder to tune out when it was coming from someone I actively cared about. I don’t necessarily hear the voice of a specific person per se, but I often hear random voices picking at what I do, about lots of little stuff that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I’m trying to learn to either ignore it or tell the voice to go away, which is helping, but it’s still annoying.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      Oh, I have plenty of ghosts that bubble up like that. Lovers, friends, family, coworkers, the lot. For me, they are the personation of a time or an attitude. Sometimes, it’s easy to conjure them as a “how would i explain (this new thing) to (this person from my past)?”
      But the best moment for me was when I was grieving something and wanted my (dead) grandmother’s comfort. I asked myself what she would do if It’s brought that to her back in the day. I knew she’d make a particular comfort food dish and listen. So I made that comfort food for myself. It worked.

    10. Chauncy Gardener*

      Oh yes. My mother pops up and is super annoying and unpleasant. But not as frequently as before since a long ago therapist recommended me ‘telling’ her “Thank you for sharing” and going back about my business.
      That helped SO much!

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Hmmmm…not specifically, but ever since I was really little I’ve had the impression of being observed, like by an abstract group of people, and it made me self-conscious and aware of my behaviors in a detached way; like, when I cried, I’d find myself noting the exact rhythm of my sobbing and how it followed a pattern, almost like singing.

      That’s mostly faded but I still feel like someone’s noting my actions, especially when I’m alone.

    12. Clare*

      I’ve never experienced that. So if you’re wondering “Does everybody have to put up with this? Can I get rid of it?” My answers would be “No” and “Possibly”. Hope that helps.

      1. allathian*


        I think it’s really interesting to see how different our brains are, but I’ve honestly never had this.

        I’ve second-guessed myself often enough, especially when I was younger and before I grew out of being a people pleaser. These days, I honestly don’t give a flying fuck about what most people think of me, and it’s so, so liberating. This doesn’t mean that I’m nasty to other people or never listen to anyone else, but in the end, I’m going to do what I want to do, and take responsibility for my own actions when things go wrong.

    13. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Yes it is! I’ll post more later but look up Internal Family Systems – tons of podcasts and free guided meditations out there. You can complete the re-imagining, reparent yourself, re-do the situation, change the emotional resonance of it completely.

    14. JulieA*

      For me, that voice is my own. I’ll remember something from the past that I did or said that makes me cringe, and even after decades (I’m 62), I’ll start to berate myself. My therapist suggested that I imagine my best friend or one of my kids saying or doing the same thing, and whether my reactions would be as harsh, and that helps me in the moment. But the thoughts still randomly muscle their way into my thoughts.

    15. Quinalla*

      Sometimes yes, though usually for me I quickly identify it as myself beating myself up.

      I actually sometimes try to conjure a voice when I need some encouragement, so maybe you can channel it that way? I’m a woman so I often try to conjure up a typical dude it my head when I’m lacking confidence, trying to talk myself out of going for something, etc. and think “What would Brad do?” Not that I want to act like a dude, but sometimes borrowing a little confidence from someone imaginary that I don’t have is helpful.

  30. Cookies For Breakfast*

    The “voice” for me is my mother’s, but she’s very much someone from my present! I have a related version of this, though, with two ex-crushes that now and then are part of dreams I have (none of which recall real events from the past).

    When one appears, it’s definitely about mourning my youth and wishing I had a second chance at things that could have turned out better.

    The other usually appears at times when, in conscious life, I’m grasping at something I can’t understand (it’s a mystery why that person and I were ever drawn to each other – they had many personality traits I normally can’t stand).

    I don’t otherwise read into my dreams, but these are enough of a pattern that I’ve put some more thought into it.

    1. Rev*

      Glad I’ve seen your reply!
      Intrigued by your answer – your reasons “wishing I had a second chance at things that could have turned out better” and “when…I’m grasping at something I don’t understand”. It’s nice to get insight into how this can happen for other people.

      I believe recurring dreams are about something that’s unresolved for us, and can be worth looking at.

  31. Loopy*

    I am going to NYC in Dec (5-10) and I am an NYC newbie! I’ve been a few times many years ago where I stayed with a savvy local who whisked me around but this will be the first time on my own figuring things out. We are staying in Queens because we couldn’t find another location that fit both our budget and hopes to have minimal subway transfers.

    Two questions for the AAM crew! What advice do you give a newbie about navigating NYC and generally having a smooth trip?

    And what Christmassy things are worth doing? I’m always a fan of things that don’t show up on the many top ten lists out there!

    (P.S. I didn’t get a chance to respond then but a few weeks ago I posted about returning a book with a small stain, thank you for everyone who reassured me the note I left was enough. You were all 100% right! My friend was truly not bothered at all whatsoever).

    1. Dear liza dear liza*

      1. Courthouse Diner in Queens is my favorite diner! If it’s near you, go get an egg cream and burger for me.

      2. Take the subway everywhere. Super excited to see NYC has moved to OMNY contactless payment for transportation. If you don’t have a contactless card or method yet, get one. A lot of the ticket machines in the stations were broken on our last trip.

      3. Google maps worked well for navigating.

      4. Whenever you are in a restaurant, museum, store etc and there’s a rest room you can use- use it. Public bathrooms are few, far between, and can be sketchy.

      1. Loopy*

        Thank you!!! I will need to definitely be restroom aware! And will definitely be taking advantage of the contactless payment option. Great advice!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yes, Google Maps does a great job with public transit, and Apple/Google Pay makes it SO easy to just go. As a whole New Yorkers can be brusque, but we are generally proud of our city, and if you ask directions you’re likely to get them…and opinions about where to find the best pizza! LOL

      Go to Rockefeller Center, even if you don’t skate, it feels like the essence of the season to watch people skate around, especially once the tree is up and lit (on 11/29 this year). Also, just walk around midtown; Macy’s on 34th Street is iconic, of course, and while Times Square can be a zoo, if you’re there on a weekday while most people at work it shouldn’t be unmanageable, and there are plenty of stores to browse there that get into the holiday spirit. And some food carts have roasted chestnuts that time of year in addition to hot dogs and hot pretzels!

      I am from Queens and I like to stay in Flushing, which is not where I grew up, but is a transportation hub and an incredibly diverse community with great restaurants, from nice and $$$ to literally hole-in-the-wall places that are to-go only; my favorite congee place serves you through a window on the sidewalk. Astoria also has the Museum of the Moving Image, which I’ve enjoyed a few times, and some incredible Greek and Middle Eastern restaurants.

      1. Loopy*

        This all sounds amazing! My husband and I love trying foods we have never had/cant get at home (SC) and would be more inclined to a window only service than an upscale dining place!

        We will probably end up with a mix of typical tourist stuff and some quirky off the beaten path things.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          An insomnia thought for you since you’re in Queens — look for amazing food & imports in an Indian section of Jackson Heights, and in “Little Chinatown” in Flushing.

      2. somehow*

        May I say as a 1-off: NYers can be brusque, yes, but I also have found them to be some of the best, most authentic and generous (they insist on it!) people I have ever been around.

        I don’t live there, but my late maternal grandparents were both born and raised in Brooklyn, and I have other relatives there and in the Bronx, so I speak with authority on that. I love NY!

    3. Lore*

      The origami tree at the Museum of Natural History is my favorite nyc Christmas thing; I haven’t even been to the new wing of the museum but by all accounts it’s spectacular and worth the trip all by itself. The holiday markets can get a bit same-y if you go to too many but if you’re going to pick one, Bryant Park is probably the one, and then you can ice skate too.

    4. Anonymous cat*

      This was pre-Covid but one year I was walking around the Fifth Ave/57th street area ( near Tiffany, Plaza Hotel and BIG Apple store) and passed the Bergdorf Goodman store. Their holiday window displays were jaw-dropping gorgeous!

      They were more like art museum displays than the typical Christmas displays at Macys. I spent a while looking at them.

      Note— I have no problem with the macys windows! They’re very cute! But they usually have cute Santa scenes and you seemed to be looking for something a little different. :)

      Even if the BG windows aren’t gorgeous this year, that’s still a cool area to walk around bc of all the famous stores.

      FYI— Another cool thing to do is going someplace really nice for tea. If you do , you definitely want reservations!

      1. Loopy*

        Thanks, this is exactly the type of thing I’m looking for. All the lists point to Macy’s windows but I haven’t seen this suggestion!

        1. Anonymous cat*

          If you like walking and the weather is nice, you might try going to the 59th st/5th Ave area (at the edge of Central Park) and walk south down fifth avenue just to look at windows or any stores that catch your eye.

          There are a lot of famous places and my mom liked just viewing them.

          Also, look east or west on 57th st bc they have a lot of famous stores/places such as Carnegie hall.

          If you go north up fifth Ave above 59t st, , you’ll have Central Park on one side and a lot of residential buildings on the other. There are also museums after a certain point and it’s also called the Museum Mile. So you’d have a choice for what you’d like to do that day!

          (One caveat: museum admissions have gotten really pricey lately so you might want to check them online and pick your favorite museum beforehand.)

          If you do visit Met Museum, they have a great exhibit of teapots in the British gallery!

    5. Lila*

      This might be annoying if you’re staying in Queens but I’ve gone to Lightscape at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens the past couple years and it’s really fun and beautiful.

      Otherwise, my (maybe obvious) recommendation is to do neighborhood specific things and not try to be running around all over. So go to the tenement museum (which just reopened after a renovation) and then eat in Chinatown which is right nearby. Or go visit the Cloisters in upper Manhattan and walk around Washington Heights and get some Dominican food. and if you need some middle of the day downtime, find a park, library, or cafe!

    6. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Metropolitan Museum of Art may have their Christmas tree up with its 17th century Nativity ornaments.

      I’m actually listening in too because I am soon to do an overnight and my last city-dwelling relative has moved.

      I don’t have a clue about hotels because we all used to stay with grandma!

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Was also going to recommend the Met Christmas tree. One of my all-time favorite NYC at Christmas things. Tenement Museum is also a good idea. If the weather is good, you can’t beat wandering Central Park for pure people-watching joy. I avoid Times Square at Christmastime whenever possible because it’s sooo crowded.

        The Brooklyn Museum of Art is amazing – went for the first time ever a few weeks ago. If you’re into science museums, I prefer the New York Hall of Science to AMNH. There’s also the Museum of Math which I enjoyed far more than I expected to (went because hubs is a math geek).

      2. WestsideStory*

        I was also going to recommend the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Christmas tree, with its amazing creche. Some days they have live music at the tree, and of course the whole museum, from the Egyptian temple to the costume basement, is fun to go around.

        The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center and Radio City Music Hall are totally worth it! Get your tickets NOW for either as dates sell out for each. Other than that, just explore the neighborhoods and the amazing food choices and the crazy people watching.

        I’d say skip the double decker bus tours – they are overpriced, and I speak as someone with two relatives still working in that industry. Go downtown and take the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty pretty close up, and for free.

        The subways are cleaner and easier than ever (except when they flood like yesterday, cough cough) and the best way to get to and from Queens. In Manhattan the busses are slower but unless you are traveling between 3 and 5PM it’s a civilized way to get crosstown without having to change trains too much. Have fun!

    7. Bluebell*

      Bryant Park also has a skating rink and a Christmas market. (Plus the big library nearby has good bathrooms). Grand Central is decorated, and has a market in Vanderbilt Hall. I’m usually in NYC in October, and some of my faves are – The Tenement Museum- with Congee Village as a place to eat nearby, the Cloisters, the Morris-Jumel Mansion in Washington Heights, and just strolling around Rockefeller Center, Greenwich Village, and he Upper East Side. If you like chestnuts at all, it’s fun to buy some from street vendors.

    8. tangerineRose*

      If I ever get to NYC, I’d want to go to the Bronx Zoo, but that’s at least a half an hour away.

    9. Patty Mayonnaise*

      For off the beaten path, the Merchant House museum usually has some kind of holiday programming (like a one person performance of A Christmas Carol). Also my top holiday market is Union Square – it’s the original and the most cozy! Chelsea Market always looks nice too!

  32. Boog*

    My husband’s siblings aren’t abusive or anything, but they behave in generally thoughtless ways. My PIL never put up boundaries as they are conflict averse. For example, one sibling is chronically late. PIL insist that everyone else wait, no matter how inconvenient. Another sibling hijacks family functions by bringing a dozen guests of their own without helping to wash a single dish. PIL cook and clean up for everyone, no matter how exhausted they are. They insist everything is JUST FINE, THANK YOU.

    While the siblings’ selfishness doesn’t affect me directly (most of the time), I have come to dislike them and am frustrated with seeing my PIL being doormats. AITA if I start severely limiting my contact with the siblings? I’m fine with seeing them a couple of times a year for major events, but PIL have frequent family gatherings and if I start skipping these it will go noticed. On one hand I feel like I’m causing drama by limiting time with the siblings; and on the other hand I really don’t care to smile and make friendly chit chat when I dislike them.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s your husband’s family – how does he feel that will go over, is he willing to say anything about it, is he willing to deal with the potential fallout if you stop going? (Does he agree there would even BE fallout?) Are you expecting him to stop going too, or would he be making excuses for you, “Boog isn’t feeling well/had another commitment/etc” and still going himself?

      Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% not saying suck it up for your husband’s sake by any stretch. (I don’t much like my husband’s siblings either, so our agreement is that when they come to our house to spend time with him, which is fortunately rare, he keeps them in his space and out of my way without actually throwing me under the bus about it :P ) But since your in-laws seem to be nominally close, whatever you do is probably going to need to be an agreement between both of you to be on the same page.

    2. Sloanicota*

      You can always scale back on events because you don’t personally like treatment you’re receiving – if you’re really hungry and having to wait to eat, that’s a boundary you can draw for yourself – but I’d try not to overmuch frame it as doing something on behalf of your PIL, I guess. They’d probably prefer you attend than not, particularly if your decreased attendance causes your spouse to attend less also – so you’re not necessarily doing this “for” them. You could choose to take a break until you’re less annoyed by this, and you could brainstorm ways to help PIL that they’d accept and welcome (Helping with the dishes? Getting everyone to chip in for a caterer next time? Encouraging a switch to potluck? Eating yourself first or coming later yourself?).

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      1) What does your husband want to do? Does this bother him?
      2) Is your primary goal to be thoughtful and helpful to your PIL, or to not see your B/SILs because they are annoying?

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I think “AITA” is usually not a helpful question to ask when you are in a caring long-term relationship with the other person. Your goals should be much higher than “technically not the asshole,” especially when the people you see as assholes likely don’t care if you show up or not, while those who would most likely be hurt (your spouse, his parents) are not the people you have cast as assholes.

    5. Clare*

      Captain awkward (dot) com has the answer to this question in about 20 different ways. I can’t recommend her highly enough!

    6. WS*

      What does your husband think of all this? Would he like you to go? Would he happily go alone? Can you deal by having something to eat before you go so you’re not hungry when everyone has to wait?

    7. numptea*

      I intensely dislike my brother-in-law, who was the coddled Golden Child and gets away with treating everyone like dirt. I have a freelance side business (on top of working full time) and it is my go-to excuse for avoiding him. Husband is aware and okay with this. My in-laws think I am constantly working.

    8. Chaordic One*

      I don’t suppose that there’s anything to be done about the PIL making everyone wait for the chronically late sibling.

      I am curious, though, what happens at a function +if you pipe up at a function (in your best “Little Mary Sunshine” voice, or maybe not) with something along the lines of, “Hey let’s all help PIL with the dishes!” Does anyone pitch-in if you suggest it? And if so, I would hope that it isn’t just the women. Do they just ignore those kinds of comments?

      Do you find yourself being the only one who helps your PIL? Personally, I’d guilt-trip your spouse into helping out, even if no one else does, so that at least your PIL would have some help even if it was only you and your spouse. I would also probably resort to a passive-aggressive disappointed-sounding, “Oh, so you’re not going to help out with the dishes?” with your spouse’s siblings.

  33. Hotdog not dog*

    Empty nesters, how long did it take you to adjust, and any tips for smoothing out the transition? I find that I’m really struggling to focus. Even though I objectively have more time I’m getting less done. When my son left for college, I focused my excess energy on Best Good Dog, but he has unfortunately gone beyond recently. I’ve been spending a lot of extra time on the non-weekend place, but I can clearly see how that’s not a good idea.
    I think a big part of it is that I need to decide who I am if I’m no longer Kid’s Mom cheering on the sidelines or in the audience, or buying extra snacks, or nagging about homework; and I’m not the Lady Who Walks The Big Red Dog in the neighborhood either.
    I recognize that it’s a form of grieving and I’m sure it will take time. (especially the loss of Best Good Dog). Besides allowing myself the occasional pity party, what are some healthy self care/self soothing distractions that have worked for any of you?
    My husband is coping by driving me batty; he’s been “helping” with everything I do, mostly with a running commentary on how I could do it better. (He’s trying to stop; I’ve told him how irritating that is!)

    1. Not Totally Subclinical*

      I’m not an empty nester yet, but when my youngest hit the age where they were no longer needing my constant supervision, I took a lot of one-off classes in sundry things that sounded interesting. One of those things is now a major hobby that I’ve made a lot of friends through (and if you’d asked me five years ago, I’d never have seen myself doing it).

      So if money allows and your region offers them, that’s what I’d recommend — classes in drawing, theater, sports, dance, language, cooking, bookbinding, needlework, first aid, birdwatching, photography, whatever sounds remotely interesting. Try a bunch of new things and see if something surprises you.

    2. Roly Poly Little Bat-Faced Girl*

      Christine Hassler had a recent coaching podcast on this issue. Her podcast is Over It and on with It. Might be worth a listen.

    3. Random Academic Cog*

      We spend a lot of time and energy (and MONEY) on the cats. I do spend more time on work, but I’ve still got things I want to accomplish professionally, so that’s an investment at this point in my career. For a while I had a side gig as an adjunct at the local community college. We have been traveling a bit (not much because of the cats, but we have a reliable pet care company when we need them). I always read a lot, but I spend more time on it now. I spend time working on my yard. Take naps occasionally. LOL

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do you want somebody (or some critter) to take care of? I know self care is really valuable, but sometimes what we need is to NOT focus on ourselves. A pet or a big garden are obvious choices, but also formal volunteer work or getting involved in some sort of committee (HOA?). Or maybe something more casual and local. Are there young mothers in your neighborhood who could use a bit of help and experience? Families or older people who could use a homemade meal?

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If your community has a P Patch that might be a good way to experiment with gardening and meet new people!

    5. A very tall giraffe*

      I’m not in the same boat, because I transitioned to empty nesting very easily. However, if you work, I’d definitely recommend a class or two in the week. Best-case scenario is that you make your own friends, otherwise you’re learning new things. I’m taking a language class, I would take a pottery class if they didn’t fill up so fast. I’m going out for a decent walk (5 miles) with a friend one night a week, and going to the gym much more. I’d also take private music lessons, but I don’t have the time.

    6. The Week Ends*

      Oh Yes way more difficult and took longer than expected. Heck they’ve been gone 10 yrs and I often still feel like less purpose! I started exercising regularly, something I didn’t have time before. Nothing too strenuous. Also a bit of volunteering, also gets you away from husband. It is a lot of new couple time!

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Oh, Lord, the “helping” narration. I’ve flat out told Husband “this is how people get stabbed.”

      1. Sloanicota*

        My poor sainted mother once my dad retired … “he doesn’t have any hobbies besides work,” she lamented. “I’m his hobby now … ” He did get a bit better, and she adjusted to having him underfoot more (she was a stay at home mom so the house had been “her” sole domain all day previously). He is also very big into the halping, as I call unhelpful help.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about Best Good Dog. You gave him so much good life and happiness.

      When my Elder Statesdog went beyond, I still had the Junior Ambassador to focus on, but obviously “get another pet” isn’t really the best solution. (Unless for you it is! For me, it was about four months until I was ready and seven months before we actually brought the Intern home, but the Ambassador didn’t much care for being an only doggo, which sped my process up some.) I spent some time putting together photo collages of her/them, and I asked people who had known her (in some cases longer than I had) for good memories about her on social media that I could re-read when I was bummed. Also – her actual name was Angua, which we pronounced “An-joo-ah” sort of like Angela with a U instead of an L, and her Pugmire character was a guardian warrior – so she is my girls’ Guardian Angua, and I tell them sometimes that their Guardian Angua is doing a really good job of taking care of them. Her cremains, paw print, collar and favorite scarf are also together on a shelf in my office, along with the tins of our cats gone beyond, because she always liked hanging out with the cats and invited them to snuggle with her in my office even though they weren’t allowed there. And I still sometimes talk to her.

  34. Teapot Translator*

    I’m looking for a new app to listen to podcasts. I’m on Android and use Google Podcasts, but that’s shutting down in 2024 and I hate YouTube Music (the new platform for podcasts).

    1. Maestra*

      I don’t know what it’s like these days, but when I had an android, I used Player FM and it worked well for me.

    2. Just here for the scripts*

      BBC sounds—full sessions as well as condensed radio cuts. Love you’re dead to me on it.

          1. fposte*

            On the phone, scroll down to Current. Click on the podcast to get into the episode list. Click the episode you want to add to the queue. Click on the three dots in a circle icon and click “Add to queue” in the pop-up menu. Repeat as desired. There’s probably a way to add multiple episodes at once but that’s grad level stuff.

    3. Celestina Warbeck*

      Pocket casts has android and iOS availability. It’s got similar “smart speed” options to the above-mentioned Overcast (shortens silences). Also has chrome cast options. I like it.

    4. Sally Rhubarb*

      What’s with Google and shutting down the actually useful apps?

      Anyway I use Spotify. Get music and podcasts in one place.

    5. Clara Bowe*

      I’ve liked AntennaPod a lot for Android needs. Though, I do use Pocketcast on IOS. Both are pretty barebones but work fine!

    6. Catherine*

      My husband got me into using Podcast Republic on my phone. Not everything is on there, but if something isn’t there already you can generally subscribe to it using the RSS feed and then it appears like other casts.

  35. Sitting Pretty*

    Recommendations for meditation apps or YouTube channels that you like? I’m looking for brief meditations of about 5-15 mins that can help me quiet down at night or calm down during pockets of time during the day. Nothing too fancy, just focusing on centering and breath and stuff.

    I’ve been able to meditate on my own pretty successfully for years with some basic tools but lately it’s been harder for me to stay still and quiet. So I figured I need some help. I’m looking for things that are either free or have a relatively inexpensive subscription as I don’t expect to be using it a ton. Curious if y’all have found something you like!

    1. fposte*

      I like Calm. Not too woo, not too reflective of spiritualities I don’t share. You can sample quite a few for free but I ended up subscribing.

    2. Gyne*

      Headspace is great for that. I tried Calm a few years ago and some kind of glitch in the program left it “on” all night using my phone data, so I’m wary of it (but probably has been long fixed by now.) I have heard only good things about it.

      I was typing up a commentary on the cons of Headspace’s daily meditations (they have a lot of guidance, and my practice is shifting more to a zazen-style meditation now where I want less guidance) and do I searched around and they have timed guided, less guided, and unguided meditations that you can set for up to 2 hours. My joints will probably never handle sitting that long!

      Insight Timer is another app that seems to have a “free” option.

      My final thought is, you’ve had a pretty solid long run with meditation. Is the change in your practice really due to external factors that an app would help, or are there internal factors to consider? (Not asking you to answer this on the forum; just food for thought.)

    3. Vanessa*

      Smiling mind is great and free.
      I subscribe to insight timer for a few extras.
      When I really need a reset I do a yoga nidra. It’s a still meditation but really shuts everything down for me. Insight timer has them. Or YouTube.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Love Smiling Mind – especially the Aussie accent of the narrator, which helps me get into a meditative state.

    4. Miss Buttons*

      I love Insight Timer. Started using it at bedtime during an insomnia bout. Now I use it every night. Particularly Glenda Cedarleaf’s voice which lulls me like a charm. They also have meditations of all lengths for any time of day.

    5. mreasy*

      I like Insight Timer, because it has a lot of options for length and type of session, and has a free version.

    6. Sitting Pretty*

      I really appreciate all the suggestions! I’m going to spend this week exploring a few of these.

  36. SodaStream Canister Replacements?*

    Now that Bed Bath and Beyond is defunct, where are folks replacing their used SodaStream CO2 canisters for new ones? I typically did the trade-in to save money/resources.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I believe Target trades them in at the service desk? Actually I think anyone who sells them is supposed to do the trade-ins as part of their sales agreement, though I can’t swear to it.

      1. KathyG*

        Yes, I live in Western Canada, so YMMV, but I’ve exchanged them anywhere that has the canisters: Canadian Tire, Loblaw’s, London Drugs, Walmart.

        The other option is to use Kijiji or Craigslist to find someone local who refills them. This has the added advantage of being even cheaper than the exchanges.

      2. fhqwhgads*

        My understanding is some retailers participate in the trade-in program and some don’t. It’s a location-by-location thing. The Target by me won’t do it, but the Ace Hardware does.

    2. Pieforbreakfast*

      Our Kroger chain has them, as does a local kitchen goods store. I tend to order online through Soda Stream itself, they send you canisters, you place the empty ones in the box and send it back.

    3. 653-CXK*

      I’ve been doing mine directly from the SodaStream website (link to follow), along with the flavors that they sell.

      If you purchase a new CO2 canister, they will send you a return box so you can send the empties back. I just exhausted the current one from February, so it lasted 7 months (I don’t use it as frequently as I used to; I used to exhaust the CO2 canister every three months).

  37. Bookgal*

    The Whispers is so good! I’m hoping Netflix or Hulu (or any streaming service, for that matter) gets a hold of it and turns it into a miniseries. Her first book, The Push, is also fantastic.

  38. Ali*

    Hope I’m not asking this too late for some brilliant answers! I am a relatively short person, 5’4″, and I have always had a huge problem with driver’s seatbelts. The belt comes right across my neck, and I feel like if I got in an accident…it would be bad. I usually tuck it under my armpit, or sort of snag it on my elbow, but neither of those is great on long drives, and probably unsafe. I got a cheap kind of clasp off Amazon to try and lower the angle, but it snapped immediately. What kind of gadget do I need to adjust the seatbelt height/angle?

    1. Not A Manager*

      Is your car very old? I’m shorter than you, but I find that most cars now come with adjustable slides for the seatbelt angle. If I slide mine down to the lowest setting, the seatbelt avoids my neck. Also, sometimes I need to adjust my seatback so that I’m sitting more upright.

      I agree that tucking the belt around your body is dangerous. If you don’t find a good solution soon, it might be worth driving to a dealership and asking them how to safely address this.

      If you really can’t find a solution, try sitting on a thin pillow or a folded towel.

      1. fposte*

        I was about to say that my car is new but doesn’t have these, and whaddya know? It does, and that’s going to make my life easier, so thank you.

        1. Not A Manager*

          Well, following up on fpost, and also because I didn’t know about this for a long time, just take a look where your shoulder strap emerges from its housing, above where your shoulder is. It’s possible that there is an adjustable slide that moves it up and down.

      2. Alex*

        OMG I had no idea about this and just changed the setting in my car! THANK YOU! Now the belt doesn’t slide over my boobs to my neck.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I was riding in a car with some friends last weekend and their munchkins were in car booster seats, but also had some sort of clip adjusting the seat belt positioning. Searching “Child Seat Belt Adjuster” on Amazon shows a lot of reasonably priced options that look a lot sturdier than a plastic clip, and in theory safety products made for children should be tested for safety? And also should be sturdy enough for a small adult, as kids are staying in special restrain