{ 1,056 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion 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. Mostly Managing*

    I’m looking for dessert ideas for an event coming up next month.
    Needs to be nut free, due to allergies in the group.
    I want to make something “fancy” – something beyond the normal range of brownies and ice cream or chocolate cake. (Love brownies, love chocolate cake, want to impress the group and make a big fuss because it’s a special occasion – extended family milestone birthday)


    1. ekj*

      Tiramisu? My son made it a couple times lately and said it was a lot easier to do than he thought. He did one with homemade ladyfingers, and the others with pre-made ones.

        1. JSPA*

          Maybe a dark chocolate yule log / buche de noel? There are even decent gluten-free versions. Yes, it’s no longer 100% seasonal in January. And it comes out of an explicitly pre-christian ceremony, that’s since been co-opted into the whole christmas thing. (Burning an oak log kindled by the last chunk of the prior-year’s log, or something along those lines, argued to have existed since at least proto-indo-european times). But it’s just too good to limit to one night a year, and you can fancy it up exactly as much as desired.

          1. RagingADHD*

            There’s a Mary Berry yule log recipe online that is surprisingly simple to make but looks and tastes incredible.

      1. Been There*

        Tiramisu with speculoos is my absolute favourite. Tiramisu by itself isn’t that hard to make, and you can replace the ladyfingers with speculoos (or other cookies) to switch up the flavours.

      1. Mrs Claus, Probably*

        I was coming here to say pavlova! It’s really easy, and not very expensive.

        It’s traditionally a summer dish, but you can winterise it by topping with pears poached in mulled wine.

        1. Kardemumma*

          And if you decide on pavlova, can I recommend Donna Hay’s recipe? She is a well known Australian cookbook writer. She uses volume of egg whites rather than number, so more scientific – and baking is a science. You pretty much have to own a stand mixer because you beat the eggs and sugar for 10+ minutes. I have been married to a New Zealander for 50 years and I couldn’t count how many “pavs” I’ve made. Donna Hay’s technique is definitely superior.

      2. That wasn't me. . .*

        Yes! Much easier than tiramisu, (which I hate because it isn’t sweet! What’s the point? All the fat and none if the fun, I say, about tiramisu!)

    2. OtterB*

      How many people does it need to serve, and are there constraints on prep and serving, e.g. is it okay if it needs to be stored in the refrigerator or put in the oven at the last minute?

      1. Mostly Managing*

        It will need to serve about 20, assuming everyone makes it/nobody gets sick that weekend.
        I’m fine with making two of whatever it is, if one won’t be big enough – that’s normal in this crew!
        There are no constraints on prep/serving. The event is at my house, so I have full say over what goes in the oven when! :)

    3. Derivative Poster*

      Flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream seems fancy but is pretty easy. You can pipe a birthday message in white chocolate on the top if you’d like.

    4. Jay*

      Trifle cake?
      At least that’s what my mom always called it.
      Various layers of cake, whipped cream, pudding, toppings, in alternating layers, in a big glass bowl/dish thing (I remember it looked sort of like a giant Champaign flute). It just has to be deep enough to accommodate all the layers and clear enough to see them all. There are hundreds of recipes on line, from simple to complex.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Yes, that is an excellent choice. I even once made individual trifles (bought a dozen glasses at the dollar store, I think the “on the rocks” style, which have nice straight sides and clear glass). Pretty easy to make, but looks much fancier than what it is.

    5. KayDee*

      Millionaire’s Shortbread! Got the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen on You Tube. Shortbread cookie crust, caramel layer over that, chocolate layer over that. Delicious and impressive!

    6. BRR*

      I would go with a more elaborate layer cake. My personal favorite is tartine’s lemon merengue cake. You can bake the sponge in a half sheet pan instead of a cake pan and assemble it as a rectangle which is fun because it’s a different shape .

    7. Cat*

      Ice cream sandwiches. Make fancy cookies, potentially dipping in chocolate make or buy interesting ice cream flavors…..

    8. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m going to two dinners and hosting a brunch, so the things I’ll be making are mini crab cakes, scalloped potatoes, quiche, loaded hash browns, and a fruit salad. Also cookies, and awhile back I accidentally bought Chex three weeks in a row so I’m going to do muddy buddies too just to get rid of some!

    9. Bethlam*

      My “fancy” is angel food tunnel cake. A box angel food cake mix works perfectly, and in the winter I use blueberries from the freezer for in the filling and to garnish the top. Any other fresh fruit will work, but I always have blueberries to hand. If interested, I can post the whole recipe tomorrow.

    10. Kayem*

      I like panna cotta because you can make it look super fancy but it’s super easy to do. You can also flavor it however you want, even tint it with different colors. Last year, I made a variety of individual purple panna cottas. There was lemon blackberry, lavender honey, and taro. Half were non-dairy, using coconut and rice milk or almond and oat milk. I tinted them different shades of purple and lavender and served them topped with gold flakes. Took me very little time to do and people were impressed. The only downside is needing enough room in the fridge to chill them all, but you can always demold them right before serving.

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

      You’d have to scale the recipe up and have people willing to eat raw egg yolks, but my grandma’s chocolate mousse is delicious:

      4 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
      4 tbs. butter
      4 oz baker’s chocolate
      pinch of cream of tartar
      a lot of powdered sugar
      a little bit of vanilla
      a little bit of rum (optional)

      Cream the butter and a lot of powdered sugar to taste and then mix in the egg yolks well. While you’re doing this, in a double boiler (or a saucepan that is above water boiling in a slightly larger sauce pan) gently melt the chocolate. Mix the warm chocolate into the eggs-sugar-butter mixture. Add a little bit of vanilla to taste and a little bit of rum to taste (optional).

      In a large bowl, put the egg whites and the pinch of cream of tartar. Use a hand mixer to beat them until the egg whites are stiff and form peaks.

      Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the eggs-sugar-butter-chocolate-vanilla-rum mixture a quarter of the egg whites at a time. If need be, you can do a little gentle stirring at the end to make sure everything is well mixed.

      If you want to make individual servings, divide mixture into four and put each part in its own fancy dessert dish.

      Refrigerate for a couple of hours.

      Serves 4.

    12. Phryne*

      Bitter Frozen Berries with White Chocolate Cream by Yoram Ottolenghi. Must admit I never made it, but I have first hand reports it is divine and very festive. The recipe can be found online easily. It is served with biscotti, which generally do contain nuts, but you can replace those with nut free cookies.

    13. Loopy*

      We are making Smitten Kitchen’s vegetable lasagna! We made it last year and it was phenomenal. Only, I can’t remember which veggies we chose to use. This year we have zucchini, bell pepper, onion, and mushrooms. We don’t want carrots or spinach.

      Any other ideas? I feel like we need just one more type of veggie for some reason!

      1. CanadaGoose*

        For lasagna, Eggplant or tomato seems to fit in the list nicely. Also consider celery or leek if a bit more base flavour is needed. Plus garlic?

    14. JustForThis*

      Red wine poached pears are elegant & impressive as well as delicious and can be served on their own / with whipped cream, but would also perfectly complement panna cotta, cheesecake etc. for an extra fancy dessert plate.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        One of my relatives dips the bottom half of the poached-in-red-wine pears in dark chocolate — a very nice presentation and flavor.

    15. DogMom*

      I have made Ina Garten’s Strawberry Country Cake a number of times – but used mixed fruits (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) instead of just strawberries. The recipe makes two layers, one of which you use and the other you freeze for another day – with your crowd you could use both. Alternatively, I have made a red velvet cake that I fill with cream cheese icing and raspberries and the top it with a large dollop of the same icing a more raspberries. I leave the sides un-frosted. If neither of those are fancy enough, go to the Epicurious website and search for Chocolate Cream Espresso Torte – I have made that a few times and it is very good – and also looks pretty impressive.

    16. Mostly Managing*

      Thanks, everyone!

      These all sound amazing.
      Obviously I will have to spend the next month testing every option to practice recipes and narrow it down (and nobody in the house will mind all the baking! :) )

      1. Pennyworth*

        I was going to suggest a chocolate tart and a lemon tart, to cater for the non chocolate eaters. I always serve some fruit with sweet tarts because they are so rich. Caramelised orange segments would go with both chocolate and lemon.

    17. Pieforbreakfast*

      Banana Splits with homemade hot fudge, strawberry and pineapple and whipped cream or marshmallow toppings.

    18. And thanks for the coffee*

      There’s a fabulous Chocolate Cheesecake recipe in one of the Vegetarian Epicure books. It uses a little bit of liquor that really adds to the flavor. I’m not much of a drinker, so I bought one of the tiny bottles like you can get on an airplane of the right booze. It’s really very special.

    19. No Longer Looking*

      7-layer bars (aka Magic Bars) without the nut layer might be an option. I don’t know if they LOOK fancy enough for your event, but they certainly TASTE fancy to me, and they are super easy to make, though not always easy to cut if I wait until they are fully set. Just remember to NEVER skimp on the Crisco/Pam/release agent of choice, otherwise those bars will try to become permanent residents of your baking pan. :)

      Ooey Gooey Lemon Bars might also be an option especially if you pay attention to presentation – serve them on lace dessert doilys maybe.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        YES to seven-layer bars! One of my favorites and I totally agree, they will be equally amazing without the nuts.

    20. Yikes Stripes*

      For fancy but not terribly complicated I like the Berry Blitz Torte from King Arthur Baking. It does call for almonds in the topping, but I always leave them out because we have nut allergies in the family and I can say that the cake is still delicious and extremely pretty without them

    21. Kathenus*

      Cream cheese pie – I use a store bought graham cracker crust. Mix softened cream cheese, Cool Whip, and powdered sugar together (I use 1 to 1 1/2 packages cream cheese, anywhere between 1/2 – 1 of the regular size Cool Whip containers (until getting the desired ‘fluffiness’) then powdered sugar to taste (I believe the recipe originally called for like a cup of it, but I use a lot less than that, I like to keep the tang of the cream cheese).

      Then sometimes I put sliced bananas in the pie crust before the filling, add the filling, and then after it sets in the fridge for a while I put fresh fruit on top – whatever you like, I usually use kiwi and a variety of berries because the colors really pop.

      Really good, really easy, and no baking required. Can also put in the single serve graham cracker pie tins if you have a smaller number of people, looks pretty fancy that way.

    22. All Monkeys are French*

      I’d probably do cheesecake, or maybe profiteroles. Heck, if you really want fancy you could go full croquembouche.

    23. Ypsi*

      Look up the recipe for Cranberry Lime Tart on Epicurious.com. The best dessert ever. It looks complicated but it‘s not. You can make half of it one day, the rest anpther day. It‘s from the Bon Appetit magazine.

    24. old curmudgeon*

      I love doing trifles for special-occasion desserts, because they are infinitely changeable in terms of components/ingredients and can be super-easy while also being just downright gorgeous. You need an actual trifle bowl for the full impact, but those can be had for about $20 to $25 at big-box stores.

      I design a trifle around three components with optional extras. The first component is some form of cake-like substance cut into cubes, the second is whipped cream flavored with something that complements the cake, and the third is chunks of fruit. Optional extras include chocolate sauce, shaved chocolate, fruit coulis, pomegranate seeds, maple syrup – the list is endless.

      My favorite easy trifle involves a double batch of brownies cut into 1″ chunks, whipped cream flavored with orange extract and tinted faintly orange, and Mandarin orange sections. The first layer is brownie chunks, followed by a layer of orange-infused whipped cream, followed by a layer of orange sections, then repeating all three layers, topping with a heap of plain whipped cream. The trick is to keep the chunks of brownie or cake up tight to the glass sides of the bowl, to use an offset spatula to smooth the cream (wiping away any smears on the glass sides), and then get the orange sections up tight to the glass as well. The contrasting layers is what makes this trifle so visually stunning. If you don’t care for orange with chocolate, try using raspberry extract with a tiny bit of red food coloring in the cream, and layers of fresh raspberries instead of the Mandarin orange sections.

      Another recipe my family loves is wonderful but so futzy that I only ever make it if someone else is hosting the feast and all I need to do is bring dessert. That one involves cubes of gingerbread sheet cake, whipped cream flavored with lemon curd, and a homemade blackberry coulis – stunning to look at, absolutely delicious, but it takes the better part of a day to put together.

      And if time is really tight, just get a decent-quality pound cake at your favorite bakery, cut it up in cubes, whip cream with a flavor that will complement the pound cake, and use fruit chunks or berries to make a good contrast in the layers. Trifle really is as easy or as difficult as you want to make it, but regardless of how much time and effort you put into it, it nearly always looks stunning and is always delicious.

      Good luck, and I hope your gathering is loads of fun!

  3. Free Meerkats*

    Holiday cooking thread. What are you making for whatever holiday you are celebrating or did celebrate?

    I’m going simple, ham, corn casserole, and green beans with apple pie for desert. I made the pie filling this afternoon and will bake the pie tomorrow.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      I’m in charge of the charcuterie and cheese board for the family Christmas eve supper. I’m looking forward to snacking on the leftovers in the following days.

    2. Melissa*

      I’m Australian and it’s too hot to cook for the holidays. Our family normally does prawns, bread, salads, a fruit platter and pavlova, all served straight out of the fridge!

      1. Lissajous*

        Salads all the way! The only hot thing at our Christmas is potatoes, and maybe the turkey if it’s not too hot to cook it on the day. (This year it’s looking pretty mild with low 30s, and I have a shiny new oven that is well insulated, so I think I will do the turkey roll on the day.) But yes – everything else straight out of the fridge!

        The pudding may also get warmed up too. But the ice cream balances out the temperatures there!

      2. WS*

        My dad got a Weber barbecue a few years ago so the family Christmas has roasts for the first time ever because they can be cooked outside and the house doesn’t heat up!

    3. Mostly Managing*

      My crew loves a traditional turkey dinner (roast potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, etc) but hates turkey. So I’m doing chicken!

      Dessert will be cheesecake, and there are lots of cookies to nibble on through the evening.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We are doing fairly basic, steak and roasted potatoes with some kind of veggie for our Christmas dinner.

      Our household holiday is Trismas, which has no set date but involves Chinese food, Die Hard, and whiskey cocktails and celebrating something festive with your friends and chosen family – the lack of date is intended to allow flexibility for working around everyone’s other-holiday-or-whatever obligations. And the Trismas Yeti brings goodies for Nice Dogs and Sneaky Kittens.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          It is quite enjoyable. My husband used to write Christmas stories for me about my Elder Statesdog Gone Beyond and the Ambassador, as anthropomorphic D&D style characters having adventures, and one year they saved the stolen Trismas presents for the orphan puppies and kittens of Waterdog Port and the next year they helped the Trismas Yeti defend against a pack of evil rats who were Not Nice. :)

          1. Swims with Goldfish*

            Post a link if he ever puts those stories online.

            I will, from this point on, occasionally search for the keywords: “Trismas Yeti” so I may find them.

            I want to learn more about the Trismas Universe!

              1. Swims with Goldfish*

                Fair enough. Just thought it’d be fun, as I am always seeking (wholesome) new Lore to share with the little ones in my life.

                I recently rediscovered “The Wind and The Willows” claymation series I watched as a kid; and though you didn’t specifically say, I was picturing something like that.

                Alas, now I may just have to see if I can track down a DVD to send my nieces and nephews.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        When I was in college we would legitimately celebrate Festivus each year on fall semester reading day. We’d all gather and walk to the dining hall together carrying the Festivus Pole (I think it was a carpet roll) and take over about 1/4 of the space where we proceeded to spend the entire meal airing grievances regarding anyone present (only rule was that the person had to be present).
        By the third year the staff were expecting us and had reserved an area for us. Some professors thought it was awesome and started coming as well.

    5. California Dreamin’*

      We always do beef fondue with a bunch of dipping sauces on Christmas Eve. Christmas Day dinner varies. This year we decided at my eldest’s request to try whole duck! My son and I are collaborating on one to roast in the oven and my husband is smoking one in his Trager. I’m in line in the butcher as we speak to pick them up.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’m on my own, but I got some salmon fillets and I will have some salad too, and something else, I’m not sure what. It will be a stuff my face and watch TV in my jammies day! \0/ Unless someone invites me for Christmas dinner.

      I was also going to make some cookies for my physical therapy team. The surgeon just prescribed another month for them to torture me, lol. But they’re the best. <3

      1. Girasol*

        Me too, on my own for the first time in years. My pick is a plate of fresh fruit and fancy cheeses, topped off with home made buttery shortbread. That along with a good holiday movie. It’s a great time to enjoy Harry Potter, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, or The Hobbit.

    7. MissB*

      We are doing a salt encrusted prime rib, some fancy mashed potatoes (they have sour cream, butter and cream cheese in them), some Brussel sprouts, homemade onion/poppyseed rolls. Probably a chocolate pecan pie for dessert.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        This is my same menu except for store bought rolls and fruitcake for dessert. The guests are bringing stuffed mushrooms and spinach Madeleine, and we will have wassail and various cookies for the ‘cakes and ale’ portion of our Yule ritual. Cabernet Sauvignon to drink with the meal.

    8. OtterB*

      We’re eating out on Christmas Eve before 10:00 pm mass. Christmas Day we’ll just be hanging around the house. I never cooked very fancy and less so since one of my adult kids began needing a low-FODMAP diet a couple of years ago, plus I have less energy than I used to. We’ll probably have a gluten-free cinnamon streusel coffee cake for breakfast. For lunch/dinner I plan to cook a turkey breast, gluten-free stuffing and gravy, probably some roasted vegetables and/or a salad of some kind. I haven’t shopped yet; hope it won’t be TOO crowded tomorrow and I won’t be too late to get the ingredients I want. Would also like to get a gluten-free graham cracker crumb crust and lactose-free evaporated milk for a pumpkin pie, but we’ll see.

      1. OtterB*

        Dinner out plans for tomorrow canceled. Kid who is flying in from halfway across the country, supposedly arriving tonight, has a delayed flight that would mean a missed connection and is now arriving late tomorrow afternoon. Timing means I need to put something in the slow cooker before I make the airport run. Beef stew, maybe.

    9. Hotdog not dog*

      We go all out, starting with brunch. Mimosas, fruit, charcuterie, Christmas cookies, pastries, quiche, and a vegetable platter with hummus. We snack our way up to dinner, which will be beef tenderloin, potatoes, asparagus, lasagna, and salad. For dessert we have more cookies, Italian pastries, and homemade cheesecake. Also wine. Lots of wine.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      Christmas dinner, traditional: Prime rib roast with gravy.
      Christmas eve dinner, something new: Spanish style tapas dishes–I’m going to do meatballs, stuffed olives, roast peppers, and perhaps a crab empanada.

    11. Llama Llama*

      My family has a Christmas brunch with mimosas, bloody Marys, waffles, hash brown casserole, breakfast meats, fruit and quiche.

      For dinner we are smoking some meat, macaroni and cheese, corn casserole and croissants.

      I am making a red velvet cheesecake for dessert. My mom is making something too.

    12. WellRed*

      Spinach and ricotta ravioli with marinara sauce, salad and some sort of bread with dipping oil. Gingerbread. Also, crockpot Swedish meatballs with rice pilaf at some point for a hit, easy dinner. We had a discussion at work this week that landed on Rice a Roni. We have a few food snobs ; )I said, “don’t knock. It’s fast and flavorful” I simply have no interest in slaving over cooking bland food from scratch.

    13. SemiAnon*

      I go old world/new world for Christmas eve and day

      Christmas Eve: medieval meat pies (hand pies with a pre-cooked filling of onion, beef, dried fruit, ginger/cinnamon/clove, brandy, vinegar and sugar), with a pickle tray, sharp cheese, salad and roast Brussels sprouts with bacon and onion. Mulled wine, and cookies for dessert.

      Christmas Day: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry orange relish, mashed squash, creamed corn, green beans, a Chilean wine, and a dessert that’s somewhere between tiramisu and a trifle, with a hazelnut/lemon/blueberry flavour profile.

      Then we eat leftovers and turkey sandwiches for about three days, and I make a giant pot of soup. After that, my husband takes over with the traditional Japanese New Year’s foods, and I relax.

      I’m excited this year, because I managed to get my hands on both a fresh turkey (ie, not pre-cooked), and fresh cranberries, both of which can be hard to come buy.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        Are you doing traditional hot water crust or a short crust? I’ve made medieval hand pies both ways and hot water crust is easier to eat from the hand.

    14. Delightfulwinterwonderland*

      I make lasagna for Christmas every year. Perfect cold weather food, easy to heat up during the week for leftovers. And if I’m gonna be really busy I can make it the day before and cook it day of.

    15. Rainy*

      I went all out for Thanksgiving so we are just doing a simple meal on Monday: a pork roast recipe that in our house is called “wobble roast” (it’s a low and slow preparation and when it’s done, it jiggles like a jello mold) with the traditional wobble roast marinade, baked purple sweet potatoes, a chopped salad, and B. Dylan Hollis’s eggnog pie recipe. Maybe rolls, more probably a rustic bread. And of course our whipped feta dip recipe that I make anytime we are doing a big fancy dinner, for snacking through the day. Usually I make a cranberry-orange relish to top it but we’re going to try fig jam this time!

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      We’re doing our annual roulade beef with chorizo/raisin bread stuffing, sweet potato mash with lime, creamed spinach, and I’m making the pound cake bread pudding I saw on the open thread a few weeks back! Can’t wait to try it.

      Luckily we have Christmas Eve/Day off, so I can make the pudding and Husband the mash on the 24th and then the meat and spinach on the actual day.

    17. Kayem*

      We’re doing our traditional crawfish etouffee. I’m still debating whether I’m going to make a fancier dessert or stick with pecan banana bread topped with cacao nibs. I’m pretty sure what I pick will ultimately depend on how many overripe bananas have finished fermenting on the counter and are in desperate need of being used.

    18. Overeducated*

      I’m in charge of the vegetable sides for a big family get together. Planning roasted squash with yogurt and cilantro chutney, and a big salad.

    19. Aphrodite*

      Right now, the year is ending with a lot of drama and trauma. One is coming to an end for which I am so grateful, but I have been strongly impacted by all so the answer to your questions is … whatever I bump into in the freezer or refrigerator that day.

      1. Lady Knittington*

        Hugs from one stranger to another. I’m in a similar situation and will also be relying on the freezer. I see you and I’ll be thinking of you.

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

          I hope both you and Aphrodite find something nice in the freezer or fridge that makes you feel safe and cozy — and I hope next year brings you both all good things!

    20. XmasInOz*

      Here in Oz it’s hot so pool swims mandatory & food simple. Xmas eve will be BBQ fish & salad with pre made lemon curd shortbread tarts for dessert. Earlier drinks with friends will include a cheese platter with home made quince paste & xmas muscatels, & smoked salmon on Nigella’s blini’s (made with Deb mashed potato flakes bought specially for this). Xmas day panettone for breakfast from the local Italian bakery. Lunch cooked prawns with green chilli dipping sauce (The Spirit House recipe) with thai mango salad, potato & green salads. Dessert will be Nigella’s anglo italian trifle. Dinner- leftovers. Maybe some chocolate whisky fruit cake. On boxing day we will have slow cooked lamb with pomegranate salad (in the slow cooker to keep the house cool).

    21. Pippa K*

      We’re making individual beef Wellingtons (beefs Wellington?) for Christmas dinner, and I have a ridiculously ambitious baking list for this week. So far, two types of yeast bread and homemade custard creams. Tomorrow, cookie sticks (like Pocky sticks) and mini coffee-walnut cakes. Sunday, bread rolls and either piped butter cookies or chocolate-peanut butter cookies. And maybe Nigella’s Christmas chocolate cookies, if I’m not wiped out by then!

    22. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We’re hosting our parents, at our house, for the first time. It’s also the first time we join up the families for this holiday, as when we travel to our home country, my partner and I spend it apart I hate spending the Christmas break in my hometown, so it feels really nice to be here together this year.

      Christmas Eve will have lots of sharing dishes for different preferences. A starter of homemade hummus on bread; a fillo pie I’ve been craving for ages that’s best made for guests (Sabrina Ghayour’s vegetable bastilla); lamb and pistachio meatballs (also a Sabrina Ghayour recipe); Brussel sprouts, mainly to indulge me since my partner hates them, and since my mother is here, I might get her to make her amazing sprout bake with bechamel, which I haven’t quite cracked yet.

      The Christmas day menu is firmly from our corner of the world: we’ll open the charcuterie my mother brought from back home, then have beef stew in tomato sauce, with polenta and roasted carrots. Panettone for dessert, definitely not homemade but very traditional. In the afternoon, I’ll be baking a ton of cookies to give away: some for friends we’re seeing soon, some to send back to my uncle as I have a few jars of his homemade jam and want him to try something I’ve made with it.

    23. Fellow Traveller*

      I’m leaning towards a seafood paella. I’ve never made it before, but ever since someone brought it to my 6 year old’s class party, I’ve been entertaining the idea.
      If anyone has any suggestions for what to serve with paella, I’d love to hear. Most od the Google results I get say, “you don’t need to serve anything with paella; it’s its own meal!” But that feels a little incomplete to me.

      1. Phryne*

        A tossed green salad is always a good side dish to make it look a bit more complete without making it too bulky or filling. Just lettuce, cherry tomatoes, maybe some cucumber or bell peppers, olives if you want to be really fancy.

      2. Damn it, Hardison!*

        I made paella (on the grill) the first time this summer and it was delicious! I now regret wasting my life by not making it sooner. We started with appetizers of grilled bread with manchego cheese, fig jam, and Spanish cured ham, had a simple green salad with the paella, and finished with flan. I hope you enjoy your paella as much as I did!

          1. Damn it, Hardison!*

            I found the recipe on thepracticalkitchendotcom website. It was ham and chicken, but I think it also gave instructions for adding shrimp. It was amazing!

      3. Ellis Bell*

        I would make Moroccan tomato salad (or olives and feta) and maybe some tear and share bread to go with paella.

    24. Lemonwhirl*

      I’m making a turkey breast, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts, bread sauce, and gravy for most of the meat eaters and chicken breast and mashed potatoes for another. I’m a plant-based diet person, so I’ll be making guacamole, black beans, pico de gallo, and cilantro-lime rice for me. I’m also baking a vegan pumpkin pie, mostly for me, because I can’t get behind Christmas pudding.

    25. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      it’s just my husband and me and our adult son, and since both of them have to work Tuesday, one of them until 7:00, we’re doing our main holiday meal in the late afternoon Christmas Eve, and I’ll reheat it Christmas day: slow cooked pork roast with cranberries, orange, mustard, onion, garlic and other flavors, wild rice with fennel, mushrooms, and water chestnuts, roasted rainbow carrots, lemon beans (if I remember to do them!), green salad with goat cheese, apricots, and almonds, and rolls to help us shove the food around. Dessert Christmas Eve will be the cookies we’ve made, and I’ll make a sticky toffee pudding on Christmas.

    26. Jay (no, the other one)*

      We’re going to a friend’s for Christmas Eve and I am attempting my first bouche de noel today. I figure if it doesn’t work I’ll have time to make gingerbread. Today is also our anniversary and we are collaborating on a tenderloin of beef with orange horseradish sauce, an onion galette and chocolate mousse – dairy-free made with an ISI whipper. Alton Brown’s recipe.

      1. Girasol*

        An easy alternative to Buche de Noel is ice box cake yule log. Flavor a good bit of whipped cream with something to make it tan colored, like coffee crystals or chocolate. (A pint of cream whipped is a good amount for about 6 servings.) Sandwich together enough thin round cookies/biscuits (packaged ginger snaps, thin oreos or some such) with about a third of the whipped cream to make a log plus a branch or two. Frost the outside of the log with the remaining whipped cream. Rake in a bark texture and tree rings with fork tines. Dust the bark part with baker’s cocoa to make it brown, leaving the “cut” ends of the log tan. Refrigerate for about 8 hours. The cookies will absorb the liquid from the cream, making them cake-like and the cream firm. Cut the log on the diagonal to expose the cookies in stripes.

    27. Damn it, Hardison!*

      Mushroom Bourguignon and green beans with crispy shallots. For Christmas morning I’m going to make a star bread, but haven’t decided if the filling will be cinnamon or Nutella.

    28. Buni*

      I lost about a week of my usual prep schedule due to a mini stroke, so I’ve been baking like a mofo for the last few days. Think I’ve got it all done – 3 different types of cookie made and decorated, 3 different cakes done and one more to go today, all of it divvied out into separate gift bags by recipient. I’ve got to the point now where I’m looking at the ingredients I’ve got left and working out what I can make with what I’ve got – defo not going out to the shops again!

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

        Oy, hope you’re feeling better and well on the mend and that you have a lovely holiday!

        1. Buni*

          I am doing absolutely two thirds of naff all from Xmas morning until Jan 2nd/3rd, if you don’t count ‘lazing around at my parents’ eating all their food’. Thanks!

    29. The OG Sleepless*

      Christmas Eve: Individual beef Wellingtons with bordelaise sauce. This year I finally remembered to buy puff pastry a couple of weeks ago and park it in the freezer, after the last two years of suddenly scrambling to get it on the 23rd and everybody is out. I’ll probably do baked potatoes and salad…I’d like to do broccolini but my daughter is on a low FODMAP diet. I splurged on a much nicer red wine than I usually get. Chocolate mousse for dessert.

      My son will make waffles for Christmas morning breakfast, and then it will be Christmas cookies and random leftovers for the rest of the day. :-)

    30. The Other Dawn*

      For the first time in about seven years, my husband is working normal daytime hours on Christmas Eve (7 am to 3 pm) and doesn’t have to work at all on Christmas Day–not even overnight! We were going to spend the day doing whatever, but then decided to host.

      I’m making a spiral ham for the first time, but I’m nervous about the possibility of not getting enough drippings for gravy since I’m making mashed potatoes (tips appreciated!). Given how inexpensive ham was this past week, I bought a spiral and a shank. Part of me wants to wimp out and make the usual shank knowing I’ll be able to make gravy. Part of me wants something different for a change (spiral) and either chance no gravy for the mashed, or be safe and make something like au gratin potatoes (meh…). Anyway…

      I’m having corn and carrots, keilbasa and sauerkraut, potatoes of some sort, stuffed mushrooms, sweet potatoes (pre-made since only a few people eat them), rolls, chocolate pie from scratch (Ghiradelli’s dark chocolate), shortbread from scratch, and whatever my sisters bring.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        If you can, you might fry up some bacon for more fat/drippings, then use it as a garnish–maybe on sprouts or potatoes?

    31. RussianInTexas*

      Going to stepdaughter’s house for Christmas Eve. She just had a baby and wants to stay home for a small get together with the just the closest family.
      No one is cooking, we are bringing a bunch of Chinese food.
      Going to my parents on Christmas morning. Stepmom is cooking “something different”, and I will be attempting a Russian apple rice pudding. Pudding is really a misnomer to translate a Russian “zapekanka”, it’s more of a sweet bake, usually with rice or pasta and with farmers cheese, raisins, apples, etc. The childhood dish!

    32. RagingADHD*

      We’re having dinner at my dad and stepmom’s house. My stepmom likes to cook and likes things “just so.” She told me not to bring anything.

      It’s her house. That’s fine. But it feels weird to not be cooking for Christmas dinner at all.

    33. Dancing Otter*

      I bought a ham, which will probably keep me in leftovers for at least a week. So that’s the main. I’m not sure the proper term for sticking lots of cloves into the meat before baking, but that’s what I do. The pan juices are seasoned that way, and I got orange juice and raisins especially for the sauce.
      Yesterday, I tested a recipe for sliced sweet potatoes and apples, with pumpkin pie spice and brown sugar. I will make that again for Christmas without the sugar and with more spice.
      For dessert, I’m making sugar-free chocolate mousse – I should check the expiration date on the milk carton.

    34. LA Girl*

      Our tradition is that everyone gets whatever they want for Christmas breakfast. (My favorite year was when the kids realized that “Whatever you want” meant exactly that, and they demanded the most decadent all-chocolate breakfast in history.)

      This year, my daughter and I will make a Christmas Eve drive to Disneyland because we have discovered that one of the hotels has the best bagels/lox plate this side of NY. My husband doesn’t like lox, so he is having Pillsbury orange rolls and tangerine juice. Okay. He gets what he wants.

      We don’t do Christmas dinner. We will probably go to the movies and feast on Yuletide popcorn.

    35. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I’m Jewish, so no big celebration on Christmas day. I have stocked up on a bunch of snacky nibbles, will make a breakfast casserole, and watch my traditional Christmas movies (Die Hard and Brazil)

    36. Yikes Stripes*

      I’m making an apple pie and a cranberry cake for Monday and for Friendsmas (which we celebrate on New Year’s eve) my gifts are all edible – three kinds of marshmallows (gingerbread, peppermint, and vanilla), chocolate dipped potato chips, lemon, mandarin, and grapefruit curds, and spiced mixed nuts. I’ve got the nuts and one batch of marshmallows done, but I’m going to be crazy busy in the kitchen the rest of this week!

    37. Anon-E-Mouse*

      Vegan all the way …

      Christmas eve contribution to the family dinner: mini tarte tatins with cherry tomatoes for some and mushrooms for the others

      Christmas dinner
      Tomato soup with cashew cream and sherry
      Mushroom Wellington
      Roasted Mediterranean-style vegetables
      Kale salad with cranberries
      Apple cake

    38. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Leftover turkey from Thanksgiving (frozen that night after being deboned), mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, celery sticks with the jar cheese in them, two kinds of olives, two kinds of pickles, rolls, and banana cream pie, washed down with cheap champagne (I have no palate and save a lot of money that way!).

    39. Firebird*

      I’m bringing a cheesecake to my daughter’s Snackmas Eve gathering.
      I’m hosting Christmas and making a vegetarian Wellington (no mushrooms or kale were required), cranberry apricot sauce, assorted roasted vegetables, and ham for the non-vegetarians. Dessert will be a vanilla cheesecake tart with a chocolate fudge topping.

    40. allathian*

      We were supposed to host but our son got a cold, so it’s just the 3 of us. Christmas Eve lunch was deboned turkey with sweet potato mash. Not very traditional for us, but good. We’re having ham tomorrow.

    41. Arts Akimbo*

      I’m making a gumbo! It will feature some gorgeous chorizo and chicken, a brown roux, and approximately a hundred pounds of fresh vegetables (at least that’s what it feels like when I’m prepping it!)

      I love making roux– I feel like an alchemist!

    42. PhyllisB*

      For the first time in…I don’t know how long I skipped church today to cook. I felt guilty missing our Christmas service of all day s to miss, but my mother was back in the hospital , then we she came home I had to take her to two doctors’ appointments. I figured I could do it all yesterday, then she decided she wanted me to take her to do some shopping yesterday!!
      So, today I sent hubby off to church and got busy. I made two pies; chocolate cream and chess, plus a batch of brownies and some snowball cookies. (I think the cookie recipe is going into the holiday rotation. Super easy, and so good) Tonight we’re having a simple meal, ham steak, cheese grits, fried apples and biscuits. Tomorrow hubby is the chef, and he’s making baked ham (already done) along with prime rib roast, potatoes Au Gratin, broccoli cauliflower mix with cheese sauce and rolls. Plus all the aforementioned desserts.

    43. carcinization*

      For today and tomorrow’s celebrations, I made lemon poppyseed squares (1.5 cups of poppyseeds) and West Virginia style peanut butter fudge (my husband is from that state) sweets-wise. We’re visiting my mom right now, having tortilla soup for dinner, so I also brought cheese dip makings with me and already enjoyed some of that with lunch. Tomorrow I’m making a potato and parsnip gratin with gruyere to go with the ham and green beans.

    44. old curmudgeon*

      Our family’s gathering is on the 26th, and our wonderful son is hosting because I just had knee-replacement surgery five days ago, but we’ll still bring potato spears and home-made Christmas cookies (already made and stored away for the occasion). Son is preparing a 12-pound standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding, and I am already drooling because he is an amazing cook.

    45. Random Bystander*

      We are traveling to Mom’s place (first Christmas without Dad). I’m handling the brunch stuff (we are leaving by 7, I hope, which would get us there around 10, little after). I am making a bread pudding (look up jocooks (dot) com all day Christmas menu) that includes berries and butterscotch bits and also a bacon crescent roll (also on the all day Christmas menu I mentioned).

      Oldest son is already there with his wife (they have three days available, the rest of us are down to just Christmas day), and he is going to make a formal meal with duck, roasted vegetables, green beans, and a oyster mushroom dish, and rolls. Mom made Christmas cookies (butter cookies that you cut out and decorate).

  4. My Brain is Exploding*

    What did people do to make the shortest day of the year seem less dreary? Do I remember correctly that Alison loves that day?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      My sister-in-law, who lives in the old family home in the country, sent pictures of the sunrise on the solstice. Something her mom did before her.

    2. fallingleavesofnovember*

      I made a point this year of marking the day – went for a walk at noon in the full sun, and then another at sunset by the river, which was the closest place with a view of the horizon near my house. Then came home, turned on all the indoor Christmas lights, lit a couple of candles and made a fire in our fireplace, and had a fancy beverage to celebrate that now the days will start getting brighter. I read Katherine May’s Wintering earlier this year and that helped me perceive it differently…apparently people will say ‘we have turned the year’ on the winter solstice.
      Also, if you are at all into fantasy, The Dark is Rising is a great children’s book that centres around this time of year. The BBC did a radio play version last year, and I’m listening to it again this year as for me it brings back lots of childhood memories.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Susan Cooper also wrote “The Shortest Day,” a children’s book featuring a poem she originally wrote for the Christmas Revels:

        “So the shortest day came, and the year died,
        and everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
        came people singing, dancing,
        to drive the dark away.”

    3. Llama Llama*

      My husband HATES winter and the lack of sun. However appreciates this day because he knows each subsequent day will have more sunlight.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Yes! I’m like your husband in this, and the winter solstice feels like a small win. In the same way as the summer solstice feels a little like robbery, when I realise it means the entire summer is in fact made of shortening daylight hours (still my favourite season, though).

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Yes, there used to be a Twitter account that marked the minutes after the solstice. Each day the sunset was minutes and minutes later until the light has completely come back!

    4. AcademiaNut*

      Get yourself some tangyuan, a traditional Chinese mochi eaten at the winter solstice (and Lantern festival), often in a sweet syrup. There are a variety of types – I got some filled with black sesame paste and served them in a hot ginger syrup, which was soothing and very warming.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      Thanks for asking this! I did a “Yuletide story hour” with some online friends earlier this week and read out loud “The Longest Night” a beautifully illustrated picture book by Marion Bauer.

      Then tonight I participated in a Solstice ritual through the women’s group at my UU church. It was magical.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I didn’t explicitly do it to observe the solstice, but my family went to our zoo’s holiday light display last night and it was really cool!

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Nothing.it just was dreary. Before I got COVID and burned up my PTO, I had planned to take Friday December 22nd off and have a fire in our outside fireplace. cloaks & blankets & hot apple cider.

      maybe next year.

    8. Rainy*

      I love winter solstice–I think of it as, not the shortest day, but the longest night, a time to celebrate the return of the sun.

      Unfortunately mine was ruined by my mother-in-law.

    9. Saturday*

      I believe she likes the day we set the clocks back in the fall.

      For me, there can never be too much sun, so I can’t understand that! : )

      I didn’t do much on the solstice except look forward to longer days!

    10. WellRed*

      I don’t consider the day or the dark to be dreary? The day was short but sunny, the moon was elegant and the Christmas lights are in full swing and I went out for drinks and dinner. And Today was already longer for those who prefer the sun.

      1. Clisby*

        I hadn’t ever considered it dark and dreary either, but I don’t think I’ve ever paid much attention to either solstice.

    11. Jackalope*

      I went caroling with some choir friends. It was the first time I’d gone caroling (outside of visiting nursing homes) in a very long time and it made me so happy! And the people we visited seemed super into it as well! I just wished we could have had a couple of groups and gone to more areas since we couldn’t get very far in one evening.

    12. Phryne*

      It has been storming where I live, so not only do we only have 7h40m of actual day, there was such a thick layer of cloud that it essentially has not been day at all for the past three days. It is not the long night, that bothers me, but the lack of daylight during the day is killing. I worked from home, with the lights on because it was so dark, and it was pretty miserable. I was going for dinner at a friend’s house, but she texted me her kid is sick and she doesn’t feel too great either, so we decided not to risk it.
      So after work I drank a glass of the good red on my own and fell asleep on the couch watching BBC quiz shows. (I fall asleep on the couch constantly in winter, it is my form of hibernation. It was not the wine)

    13. AGD*

      Long walk. My doctor said to try exercising outside a LOT to counter seasonal affective disorder, so I began walking to and from work, and I’m astonished at how much better I felt this year. Normally I’m so sluggish at this point that I just hide in bed and eat too much.

      1. allathian*

        I started going for walks on my lunch hour when Covid sent us all home. My SAD has been a lot less noticeable since.

    14. Irish Teacher*

      In Ireland, there is always a focus on Newgrange and the sun shining into the chamber on that one day alone, on the 21st of December. If you are interested in archaeology or pre-history, it would be worth googling. There are probably videos online.

    15. RussianInTexas*

      I love the shorter winter days, it feels very seasonally appropriate. I can’t imagine living somewhere without it. I already live much farther south than I used to.
      On the other hand, my hometown had the weather of -39C last week, which is also not great, lol.

    16. Solsticebaby*

      Thurs was my birthday, so my day wasn’t dreary at all! I usually try to see some art on my birthday, and eat some delicious food. This year I left a museum just as the sun was setting, and I tried to really appreciate the colors changing, and then lights coming on. I also love that Susan Cooper poem.

    17. Heather Crackers*

      We stayed up until midnight and cracked a bottle of champagne to toast the return of the light. We both have terrible issues with winter and darkness affecting our physical health, so we always celebrate the days getting longer.

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        Have you tried a light bar or a full spectrum light bulb? My daughter swears by the first and one of my best friends by the second.

    18. The Prettiest Curse*

      I have always liked the shortest day of the year ever since I studied the poem “A Nocuturnal Upon St Lucy’s Day, being the shortest day” by John Donne. It’s a very sad poem, but for some reason it always makes me feel hopeful.

    19. fposte*

      I go for early morning walks so it’s actually early January that matters to me, as sunrise doesn’t start getting earlier until then. (January 10th is the first day it officially gets a minute earlier.) But I like my Christmas lights and cozy music inside until the sun starts getting up whrnnI do.

      1. Saturday*

        What kind of music makes the house cozy for you? I’m trying to learn how to make my house less bleak and more cozy in the winter.

        1. fposte*

          That’s a big taste call, but currently I’m on a chanteuse style kick; I can’t go too far into jazz because that irritates me, as does ‘60s Europop, but I have a very well cultivated Pandora channel that roams around in the narrow field I like. Mostly I want slower, less amplified stuff, though not necessarily sad, with decent vocals. It’s probably pretty close to 2010 coffeehouse, but hey, I like it.

          1. Saturday*

            Thanks – I’m exploring new music because listening to slower music that I usually like (and probably still do, in other seasons) has been like flipping on a depression switch inside me. Pandora will probably help me set the right tone too.

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      It’s been a few years, but we used to “vigil” the longest night. We’d start disc one of Fellowship of the Rings at sunset and it worked out that the end of Return of the King was right before sunrise. Can’t do that so much anymore because old.

      1. allathian*

        I’m at 60 N so we have about 5 hours between sunrise and sunset this time of year.

        Thankfully we have snow, when we don’t, it’s more or less dark around the clock. Reminds me of Mordor at noon.

        I’ve done LOTR marathons on winter solstice, but during the day, when the solstice falls on the weekend.

    21. cleo*

      I love the winter solstice.

      My spouse and I got up early and went to watch the sunrise from the beach on the 21st – it was cloudy so no fancy colors but still beautiful.

      And today we went to a sunrise solstice concert – something we’ve been going to on and off for almost 20 years. It’s indoors, in a room with a lot of windows, lit only with candles. It starts in darkness and when it’s over, an hour later, it’s light. This year’s concert was particularly transcendent – we were both just glowing when it was done.

    22. Arts Akimbo*

      I tried to make some art about it, but it was hard going. I guess I got a start on some art about it, LOL.

    23. carcinization*

      My husband and I went to the tiki bar the next town over and had friendly conversation with the bartenders and the other patrons. That seemed to help.

  5. Skates*

    I am a firm believer that winter time songs (in the northern hemisphere) including and especially Christmas carols, should be at least a little somber and/or morbid. Thus I prefer the “muddle through somehow” versions of have yourself a merry little Christmas over the “hang a shining star upon the highest bow” versions. What are your favorite sad Christmas and/or winter songs?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I think it’s not two different versions of the song, it’s what is emphasised in a particular version. Some versions emphasise the happier bit and some the sadder bit.

        If you’ve ever seen “Meet Me In St. Louis”, you’ll know that the scene where it’s sung is incredibly sad (or at least I remember it that way), and therefore I’ve always thought of it as an incredibly sad song.

    1. Another Lonely Christmas*

      I nominate Prince’s “Another Lonely Christmas.”

      Spoiler: In the song, his girlfriend dies on December 25 and every Christmas since (seven of them), he’s been lonely. And “drinks banana daiquiris until [he’s] blind.”

      1. Siege*

        This is a very specific song, but Red Water (Christmas Mourning) by Type O Negative is a song about deaths the previous year, with some riffs on traditional songs.

    2. California Dreamin’*

      I like all different kinds of Christmas songs, but 2022 was a rough year for our family, and last Christmas I really identified with some lyrics in “We Need a Little Christmas” that go:
      For I’ve grown a little leaner, grown a little colder
      Grown a little sadder, grown a little older
      And I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder
      Need a little Christmas now.” Last year I experienced that song as super sad. The song is pretty upbeat and peppy, though, not solemn sounding!
      I remember listening to the “muddle through” version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in 2020 (which includes lyrics about “one day soon we all will be together if the Fates allow” and feeling like it was specifically written about the Covid times.

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      I like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.” But just NO to “The Christmas Shoes.” That’s just too much.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Have you seen Patton Oswalt’s takedown of Christmas Shoes? It is hilarious, profane and NSFW! Link to follow:

    4. Myceliyum*

      River by Joni Mitchell, Sister Winter by sufjan Stevens, Brick by Ben Folds Five, Christmas morning by Loudon Wainwright (that last one’s more sardonic than sad). I love this question.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Sarah McLachlan covers “River” on her “Wintersong” album, which I love. I think most of the album probably meets the requirements.

        I have always found the music from the Charlie Brown Christmas special to be delightfully melancholy.

    5. WellRed*

      I think songs can be somber and wintry but without being said. Medieval Babes has a few that hit the spot for me when I want that feeling.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I never thought much about that song as a kid but it’s one of my favorites as an adult. The sense of wistfulness and making the best of things resonates so much now. I especially remember listening to it a lot in 2020 when we were trying to figure out how to safely connect with family.

      I have a very distinct memory of myself at probably 5 or 6 years old, sitting alone in the living room with tears streaming down my face listening to Brenda Lee’s “Little Blue Bell.” My mom came in and thought I’d gotten injured or something but no, I just really felt bad for the bell that couldn’t ring! hahaha

      I can’t actually tell if Dean Martin’s “Christmas Blues” is meant to be sincerely sad or not. It’s a lovely song either way but it always kind of makes me laugh when he talks about shopping all day but there’s no one on his list.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I’ve been ridiculously fond of Rebel Jesus lately. Jackson Browne gives the season a twist.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Ohhhh, great question!

      Love that version of Merry Christmas as well. For other somber songs, Coventry Carol (I love to sing this one), I Wonder as I Wander, In the Bleak Midwinter, Rejoice, Rejoice Emmanuel, and We Three Kings (with ALL the verses; no skipping myrrh!)

    9. Anon Poster*

      My parents always played Merle Haggard’s “If We Make It Through December” when I was growing up. That one still hits hard.

    10. Anon-E-Mouse*

      Wintersong (Sarah McLachlan)
      Oh come, oh come Emmanuel (I like Pentatonix’s version)
      ‘Tis the damn season (Taylor Swift)
      Ink for a star (Great Lake Swimmers)
      Wintersong (Walking on Cars) – not the same song as Sarah’s above)
      December (Sara Bareilles)
      Single on the 25th (Lauren Spencer Smith)
      Oh little town of Bethlehem (Bruce Cockburn)
      Peace on Earth / Little drummer boy (Bing Crosby, David Bowie)
      New Year’s Eve (Jim Cuddy)
      Snow on the beach (Taylor Swift)

    11. Fellow Traveller*

      I was just listening to an interview with a film historian and he said the original lyrics were something to the effect of:
      “Have yourself a merry little christmas
      It may be the last one we have…”.
      But Judy Garland refused to sing that so they had to come up with something else.
      Last year I heard a truly beautifully wistful song called “A snowflake fell” by the bad Glasvegas. So melancholy!

    12. Lexi Vipond*

      For some reason I absolutely love the myrhh verse of ‘We Three Kings’.
      ‘Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold tomb’
      Gives me shivers!

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I’m not sure if this is an intentional reference to A Prayer for Owen Meany but I love it either way!

    13. I take tea*

      It’s not a favourite as such, but I’ve always been fascinated with one of the traditional Finnish Christmas songs. It talks about giving a sparrow something to eat and ends with “that’s no common sparrow, it’s your little brother, who died last year”. Oh joy.

    14. Queer Earthling*

      That’s also my preferred “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.” I’m also very fond of Greg Lake’s “I Believe In Father Christmas,” which is bitter, briefly hopeful, and then bitter again.

    15. Lemonwhirl*

      My favorites are The Pogues – Fairytale of New York (the version done at Shane MacGowan’s funeral was stunning) and U2’s cover of It’s Christmas Baby Please Come Home.

    16. Irish Teacher*

      “Belleau Woods” and “Christmas in the Trenches,” both about the Christmas truce in World War I. “In a Little Pub in London,” about an Irish emigrant who makes plans to go home for the first time in over twenty years. It ends in pure Irish song style! “A Winter’s Tale.”

    17. Turtle Dove*

      “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg gets to me. A phrase and how it’s sung — “just for a moment, I was back at school … and felt that old familiar pain” — evoke my first romance. I choke up every time I hear it, and I rarely choke up. Just for a moment, as the song says, I’m lost in the hurt and longing I felt at age 20.

    18. The OG Sleepless*

      My son, whose musical tastes definitely lean toward Goth and metal, is a big fan of “Christmas Truce” by Saboton. The video is poignant and impressive.

    19. 248_Ballerinas*

      Pretty Paper by Willie Nelson is a classic sad Christmas song.

      The Christmas Guest is a story-song that deals with loneliness but has an uplifting spiritual message. Not a happy-happy song, more reflective.

      May I ask what led you to this conviction about somber holiday songs?

      1. Skates*

        I’m not religious, although I was dragged to church as a kid, but the advent season has always struck me as a time of grief and pain with just a little bit of hope for a better future. And the older I get the more I feel like that’s the vibe every December, on a global scale if not in my personal life. A better world might be coming, but until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow!

        1. 248_Ballerinas*

          I see what you mean. I’m not that religious either (probably more so than you), but it bugs me to see Advent calendars turned into just a treat a day. Advent is supposed to be a solemn period of waiting for the joy of the light as you define it.

    20. Atheist Nun*

      I love U2’s cover of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” which I suppose is kind of sad because the singer is yearning for an ex partner? Also, Erasure’s “She Won’t Be Home for Christmas” is meant to be sad because “she” will be alone at home for the holiday–but speaking from experience, I quite like that vibe.

    21. Other Duties as Assigned*

      My sad song nominee is “First Christmas” by the late Canadian folksinger Stan Rogers (clips available online). It chronicles people experiencing their first Christmas alone or away from their homes.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Oh, my, yes. Stan Rogers was so amazing… I got to see him perform live once and still recall the thrill.

    22. St. Mary’s Institute for Historical Research*

      “Coventry Carol” is a lament for all the babies who died during Herod’s mass infanticide, while Mary and Joseph were fleeing.

    23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I have a Playlist! It has Aimee Mann’s Calling on Mary, the classic song A Lomg December by Counting Crows and February by Dar Williams ( basically the winter goes on so long she forgets what flowers are. which is how I feel in that season)

    24. Chaordic One*

      “I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus” (Barry Manilow)
      “Little Altar Boy”(The Carpenters) I guess this song was originally popularized by Andy Williams, but the Carpenters’ version is the first version I heard and the one I like best.
      “Fairytale of New York” (The Pogues with Kirsty MacColl) I’m surprised no one else mentioned this one yet. With the recent death of the Pogues lead singer, Shane MacGowan, it has seen a return to the pop charts and there’s an organized movement among fans to attempt to have the song reach the number one spot on various pop charts, including BBC Radio. Also, a limited edition vinyl version has been re-released with proceeds going to benefit a charity that works to prevent homelessness.
      “Brick” (The Ben Folds Five) Myceliyum really nailed it with this pick. Oh, the irony of the song.
      “2000 Miles” (The Pretenders)

      1. Neon Dreams*

        I was going to mention I Guess There Ain’t No Santa Claus as well! I call it my bitter singleton Christmas song. I’ve loved it since I was a kid. Now I get it even more as an adult.

    25. Christmas Makes Me Cry*

      Ones already mentioned:
      2000 Miles
      Hard Candy Christmas
      Fairytale of New York
      Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (the scene from Meet Me in St. Louis slays me) (or should I say “sleighs” me?)

      The Auld Lang Syne version from the Sex and the City movie by Mairi Campbell and David Francis

      I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas by Aimee Mann

      Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Tom Waits (for the recipient’s POV)

      then Christmas Card from a Hooker in Minneapolis by Neko Case (for the sender’s POV)

      Christmas Makes Me Cry by Kacey Musgraves

      Present without a Bow by Kacey Musgraves

      What are you doing New Year’s Eve by Kacey Musgraves, or Rufus Wainwright

      I’ll Be Home for Christmas also by Kacey Musgraves! She knows her way around a melancholic Christmas

      Some songs from The Pistol Annie’s Christmas album: If We Make it Though December, Blue, The Only Thing I Wanted, Happy Birthday

      Bless Us All from the Muppets’ Christmas Carol

      Now I’m crying, just from writing this list!

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I’m a big fan of the first Christmas album by Kacey Musgraves. I only listen to it once a year – when I’m either wrapping presents or cooking on Christmas Eve. So today’s the day!

    26. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Stan Rogers’ “First Christmas” might fit the “muddle through somehow” description.

    27. Yikes Stripes*

      Vienna Teng’s Atheist Christmas Carol is one of my favorite songs for this season. Link to youtube to follow

    28. Samwise*

      DBs , houses on the hill
      Chris Isaak, Christmas on tv
      John Prine, everything is cool
      Aimee Mann, I was thinking I could clean up for Christmas
      Isaac Hayes, Winter Snow

    29. GermanGirl*

      The OTHER “Oh Christmas Tree” – idk if it exists in English but in German there’s a song in minor which starts with something like Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, you carry a green branch … And the words aren’t even that sad but the melody and harmony are simply the embodiment of melancholy to me. It’s such a nice change of pace when you’ve been playing all the upbeat Christmas carols all day.

  6. Elle*

    If anyone’s looking for a movie this week I just watched Maestro on Netflix and really enjoyed it. May December not so much. I think it’s supposed to be funny but it gave me the creeps.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Family movie: The Mitchells vs the Machines, about the robot apocalypse. Originally found on a recommendation on the criteria: The mom is alive.

      Always happy to give a rewatch:
      The Martian (an astronaut alone on Mars solves problems with engineering)
      Arrival (aliens arrive, we try to figure out how to communicate with them)

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Totally with you on May December. I didn’t find it funny and don’t really see which parts were supposed to be.

    3. Pieforbreakfast*

      I saw Wonka yesterday and really enjoyed it. Good music, great acting, fabulous sets and art and fun to notice the call-backs to the original film when they happened.

    4. LA Girl*

      I loved Maestro (and went in with some skepticism about the whole written/directed/produced/starring thing). Very impressed.

      And if anyone is heading out to movie theaters, Godzilla Minus One is absolutely fantastic.

    5. *daha**

      A few weeks back we finally watched Yesterday (2019). Highly recommended. Himesh Patel stars as Jack Malik, an earnest and completely unsuccessful singer-songwriter. He has a manager, Lily James as Ellie, who has hidden the fact that she drives him to gigs because she is romantically interested him. One evening he is riding his bike home and the world goes black all over and relights twelve seconds later. This is never explained, but in those twelve seconds Jack is hit by a bus and misses out on having a segment of reality erased.
      Soon after, he sings a Beatles song for his friends, and they all praise him for this wonderful song he has written and never before performed for them. He discovers that no one in the world has heard of The Beatles or recognizes their music. So he does what any of us would do – sings Beatles songs for an adoring audience (including Ed Sheeran), accepts credit for writing them, and becomes the world’s biggest rock star.
      It’s a funny movie. The singing is entertaining. The romance is kinda believable. Kate McKinnon is dynamite as his vicious new manager.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        Ooh, thanks for the synopsis! Honestly I thought the idea sounded kind of stupid but the way you explained it made it sound like an episode of Futurama, lol.

    6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      As an aside, I find the May December as corresponding to one’s life to be annoying. By that logic, Julianne Moore is hardly December (she’s not 90) and arguably Kristen Stewart is in her 30s, not “May” as we commonly think of that age.

      1. Dovasary Balitang*

        It’s Natalie Portman, not Kristen Stewart. And I’m pretty sure the title was in reference to a 35 year old woman’s sexual relationship with a 14 year old boy, not the respective age of the leading actresses. (It’s still not entirely accurate, but I don’t imagine a film called Paedophile would have had great marketing.)

    7. WoodswomanWrites*

      I watched Maestro yesterday and loved it. Leonard Bernstein and his music accompanied my childhood on records and television, and I related to the passion for music and creativity. Wonderful characters, script, acting, and stunning cinematography.

  7. RMNPgirl*

    If anyone is traveling this weekend, I wish you safe travels!
    I am taking off tomorrow morning for a 10 hour drive to my parents house with my cat! I’ve had her since February, she’s almost 2, and I have no idea how she’ll handle the drive. My previous cat actually turned out to be a good traveler, which I figured out when I moved away from my home state. So she went back with me a few times. I’m hoping my current one turns out to also be a good traveler. She’s pretty laid back so I think she’ll be okay, especially since I’ll be with her. My parents don’t have any animals so it’ll just be a new house for her to explore.

    1. roadtrip!*

      I’m driving to my parents’ house with my cat tomorrow, too:-). My drive is only 3 hours, tho. Safe travels!

    2. JSPA*

      Wishing you luck, but dang, I would fear doing this as a cat’s first trip. Some (luckily few) cats get terribly, terribly carsick. Others will stop eating and drinking for several days. If she’s super-fixated on you, rather than on her space, you’ll probably be fine, but that’s not the default with cats. Unless they’re known to be good travelers, I’d normally leave cats home for any travel under a month (driving) or 3 months (flying). And pre- acclimate by doing “drive arounds” that don’t involve a trip to the vet… then when that’s OK, a few hours at a local hotel or motel with extra treats and lots of snuggling… then an overnight at local hotel / motel.

    3. Turtle Dove*

      Safe travels to you too! We have a cat who loves long car rides. I hope yours does too.

      We’ll be driving three hours each way tomorrow to celebrate with family. I swore I wouldn’t do it this year after decades of driving around every holiday, but my husband really wants to go. So I negotiated concessions like not transporting dishes for meals and tackling two overdue projects next week. That’s helping me stay positive, and I also bought myself a treat to enjoy in the car. We’ll travel again on Monday for another family event, but that one is only 35 minutes each way.

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

      One of my ex-girlfriend’s cats responded well to hearing familiar human voices in the car. She’d had one yowling for hours as she drove him down from New England, but when she picked me up and she and I started talking, he quieted right down. So instead of listening to the radio when she made long drives with him, she got into the habit of talking to him the whole way down, and he was a lot calmer. It was also important to listen carefully to his meows — when he gave the “I have to pee” meow, he meant it. Time to let him out of the carrier and into the mini-letterbox she kept in the car right then.

    5. RMNPgirl*

      Update – it went really well! She just settled in the back and was fine the whole way out. I could tell she wondered if we were done every time I stopped. She’s now been exploring my parents house for hours. I’m just waiting for her to crash because when she does, she’ll probably sleep for 12 hours!
      (I brought her with me because I didn’t want to have to get a pet sitter to come in over the holidays).

  8. Reba*

    Joni Mitchell’s “River” for sure! Merle Haggard “If we make it through December” as performed by Phoebe Bridgers.
    Among carols/traditional religious songs, “I wonder as I wander” is so haunting and “Coventry Carol” is incredibly sad.

    1. Autofill Contact*

      I’m singing a fantastic arrangement of Coventry Carol on Christmas Eve. The “Herod the King” verse is so agitated and they pop “slay” up to a high A. Fingers crossed my voice holds out, I’ve been slightly hoarse this week.

  9. Hotdog not dog*

    Thank you to everyone for your comforting and encouraging words 2 weeks ago when I asked about the animal rescue virtual home visit. It was a little stressful, and they seemed a little more nit-picky than seemed necessary, but there is currently a Very Good Boy asleep on his brand new dog bed in our family room so apparently our home was deemed good enough!
    The question that threw me the most was about our neighbor’s fence. It’s a 4 foot fence, and their concern was that the neighbor’s dog might escape into our yard. My neighbor had to actually come on camera to tell them that no, their 7 lb yorkie is not in fact able to climb over.
    I can appreciate that they are trying to make sure the dogs go to suitable homes, but I think it’s definitely a case of allowing perfect to be the enemy of good!
    I’m very thankful to have someone to take me on nice long walks and “help” me when I work from home again. Best Good Dog is irreplaceable, but Very Good Boy is a great comfort.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Oh, I’m so happy for you and for Very Good Boy. I hope he continues to settle in well, and all the best wishes to you all :)

    2. Yay! I’m a llama again!*

      We had an issue with fences when we were trying to rescue (in the UK). They wanted six foot fences either side, which would entirely block us off from the neighbours. I know dons CAN jump, but I don’t think most do. Our spaniel will hope over a log and onto the sofa, but he doesn’t see the point in jumping any higher. Unfortunately we had to buy rather than rescue though, everywhere turned us down.

      Wishing you much joy with your Very Good Boy!

    3. JSPA*

      I have strong feelings on this level of requirement and oversight.

      Of course agencies need to screen out fighting rings and other forms of abuse and neglect; but that mandate has swollen entirely out of proportion.

      Dogs and humans have co-evolved in presumably loving and (essentially-by-definition-of-the-concept-of-mutualism) mutually-beneficial partnerships for at least 20,000 years.

      This happened largely or entirely in an area where the first (occasionally-used) defensive settlements are ~8000 years old. Settlements with “housing” are yet more recent.

      So for at least the first 18,000 years of our mutual association, there was no such thing as houses (as we currently conceive of them, anyway) for people or dogs.

      And yet, adoption is blocked over the most minute details.

      (And in some places, dogs are forcibly removed from people who lack a permanent residence, even if vaccinated, well fed, brushed, socialized, in excellent condition, warm enough for their evident comfort, and loved, petted and cherished round the clock.)

      If any of the trappings of (upper) middle-class existence were actually required for dogs to be significantly better off with a person than not, then dogs would never have been domesticated in the first place. And anyone who’s seen a dog park (or a two-dog household) should understand that it’s bizarre nonsense to assume and require that every dog be fenced away from every other dog.

      Pet adoption agencies who do that level of oversight remind me of kids designing the castle they plan to live in (complete with heliport, dragon moat, ball pit and chocolate fountain); except these are adults who actually hold power over people and animals, and are content to see huge numbers of animals remain caged and stressed, while they find a “perfect” placement for the lucky few.

      1. WellRed*

        Yes to that last sentence. And I think expecting adopters to control the environment outside the home (neighbor pets) is way over the top.

      2. Generic Name*

        For real. What’s worse for a dog, living in a shelter or having a home with a 4 ft tall fence separating private yards?

    4. Phryne*

      My local shelter has a bit of a reputation unfortunately. This involves cats, but I have heard stories of a seventy year old lady refused from adopting an adult cat, even though her son has already stated that if the cat outlived her (and average life expectancy for women here is 83) he would take the cat. Another story is the son of a coworker being refused to adopt ‘because he and his girlfriend would probably have kids soon and then they would return the cat’.
      I myself was told, when I said I did not want a kitten, that I would not get one anyway if I worked full time (I WFH 3 days a week).
      I’m sure they do good work, no ill will towards them, but all the above people including myself got their pets elsewhere.

  10. Voldemort’s Cousin*

    Does anyone have recipe ideas for a 9 month old? I’m getting tired of prepping the same foods for my daughter and I’m sure they’re getting old for her too. She only has two teeth, so soft foods are a must. Any snack or meal ideas would be appreciated!

    1. Alex*

      Not exactly “recipes” but foods I fed babies when I was a nanny (I did all the kids’ meal prep during the week, including shopping):

      Diced avocado
      canned beans (no salt) cut in half
      well-steamed/microwaved frozen veggies
      shredded cheese
      shredded apples
      cut up bananas
      scrambled eggs (I often just microwaved!)
      full fat plain yogurt
      butternut squash, boiled and mashed
      sweet potato, boiled and mashed or cut into small pieces
      well-cooked rice

      1. Clisby*

        In addition to shredded apples, my 9-month old daughter really liked baked apples. (Core apple, put some butter, sugar and cinnamon in the hole where the core used to be, bake until apple is soft.)

        1. Observer*

          You can just bake the apple whole if you want, as well. It’s great for times when you just don’t have the time or headspace to do prep.

    2. Emma*

      I bought some beef marrow bones and am planning to roast one and serve some marrow on toast to my baby!

      I’ve also done some mashed black beans mixed with a little water, on toast.

      Steamed broccoli, sprinkled with a little nutritional yeast, and sometimes some olive oil or avocado oil.

      frozen berries, microwaved, and mixed with some whole milk yogurt (super messy! I would typically do this one just in a diaper).

      1. PhyllisB*

        Speaking of broccoli reminds me of my oldest daughter. She always loved broccoli and when she was old enough to really chew I would give her raw broccoli and carrots with ranch dip.
        One day when she was about 2 or 3 we were at the grocery store and I bought a head of fresh broccoli. She started pulling the buds off and eating them. I told her to quit eating the broccoli ( not yet washed) and a lady who overheard cracked up saying that was the first time she ever heard a mother tell her child NOT to eat broccoli!!

        1. Phryne*

          Off topic, but interesting I think: I had never heard of the ‘kids don’t like broccoli’ thing in Europe as a kid. We dreaded Brussels sprouts, no one minded broccoli. Funny to think how even things like that are apparently cultural rather than innate.

          1. fhqwhgads*

            Broccoli and brussels sprouts are both fairly bitter. My understanding is the younger you are the worse “bitter” tastes, for evolutionary reasons (most poisons taste bitter, tiny humans more susceptible to smaller doses, hence they avoid stuff that tastes like that, yada yada).

            I don’t know that broccoli has quite the same stereotypical reputation as brussels sprouts, I’m with you there. And I know plenty of littles who love broccoli, but it also isn’t surprising to me when they don’t, if that makes sense.

    3. Amory Blaine*

      Any veggie, steamed and chunked for little hands. I roasted or steamed one veggie a night to keep 2-3 on constant rotation.

      Flaked salmon

      Banana pancakes: 1 banana squished up with 1 egg. Fry silver dollar size dollops. You can add cinnamon, vanilla, or oats to mix it up.

    4. Not A Manager*

      At nine months, she can have pretty much anything you’re eating, cooked a bit mushier and mashed up to a chunky texture. Even without teeth, those gums are pretty strong. Obviously omit anything that is supposed to be allergenic, although that advice does change somewhat cyclically.

      My kids liked any fresh fruit that is suitable for poaching. Apples, pears, peaches, cherries, blueberries, etc. They liked raw ripe melons. We were not supposed to give them strawberries or honey at that time. Hot cereal made out of any grain – cream of wheat, soft oatmeal, I think I even did fine ground buckwheat groats (kasha) cooked soft. Unsweetened cold cereals dry or in milk if that’s okay or formula.

      And then I’d basically take our dinner, cook it soft if needed, and chop it up. Lasagne, stew, fish, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots. I didn’t like the graininess of rice and would mash that into more of a paste, and I think broccoli and cruciform vegetables were off the table because it was supposed to give them gas. They liked chickpeas. I’d mash them to avoid any choking hazards.

      When I was teething, my mother used to give me a lamb chop bone to gnaw on. IDK if that is still recommended, though.

      1. E*

        +1 t this tho we try to wait to add salt to our food before taking out portions for baby, since they’re still really not supposed to have added sodium. And yes Solid Starts still recommends giving them some cleaned bones and other “resistive” foods

        Ppl on my parent group also recommend Dr Praegers frozen products if you want something easy and premade

      2. Observer*

        At nine months, she can have pretty much anything you’re eating,

        Yup. It makes life so much easier.

        Obviously omit anything that is supposed to be allergenic, although that advice does change somewhat cyclically.

        Yeah, that advice turns out to be not well grounded in medical evidence. I’m old enough to remember what that started being the thing that every pediatrician told you, and when there started being some pushback.

        So, unless you have specific issues with allergy, that’s not something to worry about.

        I think I even did fine ground buckwheat groats (kasha) cooked soft

        Even the whole granulation seems to work pretty well, as long as it’s well cooked. The only grain I found (and see now with my grandkids) to be a bit difficult is brown rice. Even well cooked it’s a bit hard to chew and not really suitable for babies without teeth.

      3. HBJ*

        This is what we’ve always done. With the occasional pouch kept on hand for convenience, I don’t buy baby food. We have a small hand mill that I use to grind up whatever’s on my plate. I even put salad in that thing mixed in with everything else! Can go in the dishwasher but easy to clean by hand quickly if needed

    5. Kaleidoscope*

      she doesn’t need soft food, just whatever you are having made appropriate for her age and stage.
      I enjoy solid starts (ig/blog/app).

      1. Emma*

        Seconding the solid starts app! it’s helpful in that you can search for a food, and they have pictures of how to serve it at various ages to reduce choking.

    6. Turtle Dove*

      Check out Pro Home Cooks on YouTube. I’m impressed by his thoughtful approach to cooking for his family. I searched at YouTube dot com for “Pro Home Cooks kids meals” and see several search results that may help.

    7. Baby Food Suggestion*

      You might also like the website Yummy Toddler Food. I found so many helpful ideas and tips there when my kiddo was a baby and continue to love it now that we’ve reached the picky toddler stage.

    8. Ginger Cat Lady*

      At that age, pretty much what we were eating. Diced/mashed/whatever to make it safer if needed, but definitely not cooking something separate for them!

    9. Generic Name*

      Honestly, I just fed my son whatever we ate, but cut in small bits or deconstructed. Grownups eat tacos and baby eats some beans, ground beef and a few pieces of cheese, etc. I wouldn’t give him salads or raw vegetables or anything hard or crunchy. But littles at this age can eat meats, soft veggies, cooked noodles, etc.

    10. Toddler mom*

      I started baking a lot of muffins around this stage, especially ones that incorporated some veggies. Easy to freeze a batch and reheat for meals or snacks (for anyone, not just my kiddo!) Some favorites: spinach, pumpkin oat, banana avocado.

    11. Biology Dropout*

      We did baby led weaning, and even if you don’t do that there are a lot of good ideas for what to give them. We did a lot of what we were eating (carrots, apples, pears, cucumbers) but cut into long, thin sticks she could hold and munch but not choke on. I made kind of a poached pear stick thing she loved and apple sticks with oats (like apple crisp, for babies). Oh, and cooked green beans which she could hold and eat.

    12. Observer*

      and I’m sure they’re getting old for her too.

      Children that age aren’t really craving novelty, and they get it spades anyway because so much is constantly new for them.

      Babies this age tend to do well with predictability and a touch of sameness.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to change things up. Just don’t worry about her, because she’s fine.

    13. HannahS*

      My daughter is two and I have trouble remembering at what age we did each thing, but in general we served a lot of:
      avocado, cut up berries (frozen blueberries defrosted and cut in half were a hit), hot cereal mixed with various nut butters and spices, pureed soups (carrot was a hit,) sweet potato, bits of tofu, pureed fruit sauce.
      She didn’t like cottage cheese, though I know babies who go nuts for it. I think we gave her scrambled eggs pretty early, too, but I don’t remember when.

      I tried puree-ing meat a few times and it was so revolting that we just waited until she had more teeth.

    14. Pear Blossom*

      I love the website mjandhungryman dot com

      The rice porridge for baby is great! I make a beef version with sesame oil and a chicken version with olive oil and Italian seasonings.

      The orzo recipe and pasta sauce with butternut squash are favorites!

  11. Falling Diphthong*

    Anyone have recs for stories (books, TV shows, movies) about a post-apocalypse world in which most people are pretty decent?

    Inspired to ask by Love and Monsters, now on Netflix, which I quite liked. An asteroid is coming for Earth, we blow it up with rockets (yay!) but the fallout causes lizards, bugs, etc to mutate to their giant Godzilla versions (oops!). Humanity survived in scattered bunkers. Our hero is in a bunker full of young hot people who have all paired off with their soulmates, and he decides to cross the surface to find the bunker with the girl he was dating in high school when the apocalypse went down.

    What really struck me was that most of the survivors are decent people willing to give advice and some help. And that it really made sense that people with that instinct would be the ones to still be alive 7 years later, but that’s so rarely seen in stories–usually almost everyone has been hardened into a ruthless monster. (There is plenty of conflict trying not to be eaten by the giant frogs and etc.)

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Alas Babylon has a bit òf a Swiss Family Robinson feel to survival after nuclear war. The ending was a daggerxin my heart when I first read it in high school.

      1. Kayem*

        Omg, you’re the first person I’ve seen in the wild who knows that book! I ganked my copy from my mom back when I was a teen and read it until it fell apart. No one I’ve mentioned it to before has heard of it.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          You are not alone. It’s a most excellent book. I should track down my parents’ copy since I’m at their house. The replacement copy. The original fell thoroughly apart.

        2. I take tea*

          I have read it too. I enjoyd it much.

          Tip: The French author Michel Tournier has written two versions of Robinson Crouse, with Friday as a person in his own right, not just a slave. I have read the children’s version and liked it a lot.

          1. I take tea*

            The Robinson versions made me remember a book that is a sort of flipped story. It’s I am David by Danish writer Anne Holm, from 1963. It tells the story of a young boy who escapes from some kind of prison camp somewhere in Eastern Europe. He has to learn how to live in the normal world and find a place in it. It’s very touching. I have to read it again.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        This reminds me of On the Beach, by Neville Shute. It’s very, very sad, but about how the last group of survivors have to face down their deaths but stay good people.

    2. Kayem*

      I really loved that movie! When I saw it on Netflix, I was momentarily hopeful it was a new series based on the movie.

      If you like cartoons, Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts, also on Netflix, is one of my favorites. Similar post-apocalyptic monsters, very charming. I was thinking of rewatching it.

    3. KW10*

      Ooh, you should read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, and the sequel Parable of the Talents! I don’t usually even like dystopia / post-apocalyptic stories but despite that, Parable of the Sower is one of my all-time favorite books. In its essence, it’s about a young woman trying to create a better future for humanity out of a world descending into chaos. In doing that she gathers a band of good people who are trying to keep alive empathy and a sense of community despite everything that’s going on around them. Highly recommend.

      1. word nerd*

        It’s been a while since I read Parable of the Sower (which was very powerful and well-written), but I remember coming away from it feeling like it was pretty dark and sad. Does it really fit the “most people are pretty decent” description?

        1. Ali*

          It definitely does not fit the description “most people are pretty decent.” I couldn’t get through it for this reason.

    4. Hanani*

      Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot series (Psalm for the Wild-Built and Prayer for the Crown-Shy) are both this absolutely beautiful vision of a post-apocalyptic world in which people decided to build a system on abundance rather than scarcity.

      Nobody dies or gets hurt, but it did make me cry.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I was just thinking about whether these fit the bill here, and I think they do! It’s not geographically or directly identifiable as our world, but it is clearly post-environmental and climate crisis and post-AI robot awakening. I cried too!

    5. Jay*

      Oh! I almost forgot about this one!
      If you’ve got Netflix, check out Mulligan.
      It’s a send up of all things Post Apocalyptic.
      The conceit is Evil Aliens have destroyed the entire world except parts of Washington DC and, somehow, a random Masshole (I am proudly a member of that community, I can use the term ;) ) from Boston ends up President.
      It’s got a shockingly good cast, including Tina Fey.

      And if nobody has mentioned it, Idiocracy definitely falls into this trope, as well.

    6. vulturestalker*

      Seconding Station Eleven (the book!) There are one or two nasty people, but the vast majority of the characters are real, compassionate humans, and that is very much the focus of the book/the takeaway.

  12. Jackalope*

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

    I went to the library and stumbled across Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher. I’d been wanting to read it but hadn’t gotten a chance to hunt it down, and then there it was on their display. It was a bit of a surprise that it was a novella instead of a novel, but it was a delightful little book and I gobbled it up.

    I’ve also been reading Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer, a book that was recommended here. It’s about the difficulty of trying to like artwork created by someone who did horrible, monstrous things, which is very relevant to…. well, to all our lives right now. My feelings are mixed. I’m glad someone is tackling this topic, and taking a thoughtful look at both sides and how a fan might approach things. And I’m hopeful that she’ll come to some sort of interesting and/or helpful conclusion. At the same time, her tastes are far more highbrow than mine and so it’s hard to relate even when I like her ideas. To use two of her main “monstrous men”, I’m just not that interested in Picasso and Hemingway even though I know they are well-known and I totally see why she talked about them at length. She also didn’t think that women generally get away with being monstrous like men, which is often true, but most of her “monstrous women” were women who abandoned their children. Which really sucks, but isn’t the same as what some of the men she talked about were doing. She did make a point of talking about JK Rowling, which was good, but I would have appreciated some discussion of, say, Marion Zimmer Bradley (who was HUGE in the world of fantasy and helped launch many women’s careers, but also did some horrible things that I won’t go into here but were comparable to someone like Woody Allen). Also, after having read Index, A History of The earlier this year I was sad that she had no index in her book.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m kind of between reads: I’m rereading Margaret Atwood’s In Other Worlds, a collection of essays about her thoughts on sci-fi and its evolution, and The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murakami. Both are Warm Slippers reads–love them and know I’ll get a glow from various bits of the books.

      I’m also reading the collected poems of Hart Crane, since he was mentioned in one of Jeanette Winterson’s Christmas stories and I’ve been meaning to get to him for a while. And speaking of scientific romances, H Ryder Haggard’s Cleopatra. The Victorian take on “Ancient Egypt” fascinates me.

    2. Annie Edison*

      I finished The House in the Cerulean Sea earlier this week (higly recommend! It’s both cozy and whimsical) and just started Violeta

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

      Still on the James Bond kick. Finishing the short stories in *For Your Eyes Only* and heading into *The Spy Who Loved Me* (both of which are kind of atypical Bond books).

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Spy Who Loved Me was my introduction to the series. I was staying at a friend’s cabin, was up late, couldn’t sleep, and had finished the book I brought. SWLM was on the shelf, so on a whim I picked it up.

        At the time, I’d never heard of either Ian Fleming or James Bond—but the sun was rising as I finished it, and I was at the local bookstore when it opened that morning, looking for Dr. No to start from the beginning!

    4. Free Meerkats*

      I just finished T. Kingfisher’s latest Saint of Steel book. I have to say that Ursula is getting better at writing the romance part of what she terms her “fluffy romances.” And you won’t be expecting the end…

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I read books 2 and 3 this week. I really like the characters, the world-building (e.g. the Temple of the Rat, a religion built around finding practical solutions to problems; nuns and their psychic weight in society in book 2), and the small plot details (all the perfume making bits in book 1).

        I am just not into romance as a major plotline, so that part gets a lot of skimming from me. Book 2, especially, has a lot of variations on the line “This person is so hot; no way they could be into me.” To the extent that a side character points out how extremely annoying this angst-ridden yearning is to hapless bystanders (Preach Sister Sigrid!!!), and then in book 3 a character from book 2 pops up long enough to make the same observation, but in gnole.

        1. GoryDetails*

          Another fan of the Saint of Steel books – though I also got a bit weary of the ways in which the clearly-made-for-each-other couples kept maintaining distance. In book three (Hope) the guys had some trauma-related excuses, but even then it felt a bit too heavily emphasized. (I did love the gnoll’s kiss-him-already-I’ll-just-be-over-there bits!)

          The Temple of the White Rat has become my favorite fictional religion. Would love for Zale to get a book of their own, though perhaps my fondness for interesting and competent secondary characters means I wouldn’t like them as well if they were the star.

          1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

            I also just finished Paladin’s Faith. I very much liked the non-romance parts of the plot, and thought those and the romantic part worked together well.

            And, like GoryDetails, I want a whole book about the Temple of the White Rat, which has social workers and legal aid lawyers. The bit early in Paladin’s Faith about how Bishop Beartongue keeps unwanted visitors out of her office is delightful, and entirely consistent with what else we know about the Rat.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I know, I love it! I loved Marguerite in the first one (yum, the hats!) and the book worked very well for me.

    5. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Just finished “Ladyparts” by Deborah Copaken which is compelling and infuriating and sad and funny. It’s memoir.

    6. anxiousGrad*

      I’m reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. I can see why it’s so popular! Lots of fun, and the chapters are really short, so it’s a quick read. I read a lot of mysteries, but this is my first time reading one that takes place after cell phones and the internet became a thing, so that’s been interesting.

      1. Phryne*

        Ooh, I love that one, and I haven’t read the 4th I’ve yet, but the second and third are just as good and funny. He has an amazing way of creating characters where his ‘baddies’ are both so unsympathetic and still so human. Probably because all of his antagonists are just a bit pathetic, which I think most criminals really are, in spite of all the movies that make them out to be cool anti heroes.

    7. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Satanic Mechanic by Sally Andrew and The Hollow Boy and The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud.

    8. Professor Plum*

      Last weekend I mentioned reading The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry and how much I enjoyed it. I also discovered a new podcast that the author is part of along with three other authors—Friends and Fiction—and I’ve enjoyed several of those episodes already. Now I’ve started another book by the same author, The Bookshop at Water’s End. Love discovering a new-to-me author with a list of fun books to explore!

    9. GoryDetails*

      I’ve been reading a lot of horror – a genre I love anyway, but there are loads of holiday-themed “ghost stories for Christmas”-type anthologies and I’ve been indulging. Among the more unusual:

      The Shrieking Skull and Other Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories, by James Skipp Borlase, who was a prolific contributor to British and Australian periodicals in his time, yet whose name is not at all well known today. (Well, *I’d* never heard of him!) The stories in this collection are pretty good, too, and include some set at high-summer Christmas-in-Australia, for a change on the snowy-English-Christmas settings.

      1. Jackalope*

        This isn’t Christmas-themed, but Wichita Pass by Nick Dupont is a horror novel that came out recently and I enjoyed it. It’s set in Alaska in the winter so it has some of the feel that often comes with books set at Christmas time. (Disclaimer that I am related to the author, but I also genuinely enjoyed the book so feel comfortable recommending it.)

        1. GoryDetails*

          Thanks for that – Wichita Pass sounds very much like something I’d enjoy!

          I’ll also add a plug for Angel Falls, by Julia Rust and David Surface – authors to whom I am related; it’s not HORROR-horror, but includes some very unnerving be-careful-what-you-wish-for bits and loads of lost-village vibes.

          [If this is a duplicate, I apologize; my browser glitched when I first posted, with a message about the AAM site not being found {shudder}!]

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I love the Christmas ghost story tradition! MR James’ famous story “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad” came out of that, and is genuinely shiver inducing.

    10. word nerd*

      Thanks for those who weighed in on what Agatha Christie book I should read–I went with Orient Express and I did like it much better than Roger Ackroyd, so I probably will go ahead and read others in the future.

      The novella Mrs. Caliban came up on Alison’s year-end book roundup I think? And it was so weird but entertaining! (Housewife in unhappy marriage has an affair with a large amphibian creature)

      Also really liked Loot by Tania James this week, set in India around 1800. Historical fiction about a French craftsman and talented Indian apprentice who made a life-size wooden automaton of a tiger attacking an Englishman (the automaton is real and exhibited in a London museum today, but nothing is actually known about the craftsmen who made it). Lively writing style that really drew me in to the story.

    11. Nervous Nellie*

      One for me this week as it’s such a busy time – Unclay by T.F. Powys. His last book, published in 1931, is about Death coming to a seaside town to reap a couple of residents, but suddenly losing the page on which their names are written. Death is stuck in the sweet little town until he can find the page, identify the pair and perform his task. The summer he is delayed in Little Dodder, this Dorset village, teaches Death a thing or two about life. It’s rather sweet, and so far very pleasant holiday reading. I wonder if it inspired Bryan Fuller to create the TV series Dead Like Me, which I loved? Dunno. But it sure is a pleasure.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Reminds me of the British series Mulberry (alas, only one season!) about an apprentice Death who is assigned an elderly woman to take but ends up hanging around and making her life better, instead.

      2. Angstrom*

        Sounds a bit like Reaper Man by Terry Pratchett, in which Death is forced into early retirement and takes a job as a farm hand.

    12. Bluebell*

      I finished Babel by RF Kuang, and loved it. Many thanks to the commentariat for recommending it. I’m zipping through Sophie Kinsella’s The Burnout, and soon I’ll tackle The Future by Naomi Alderman.

      1. Phryne*

        I liked Babel, but if you want to read more of her, be warned. The poppy war series involves a lot of genocide and torture. A Lot. It was written very well, but I found the story hard to stomach. She has a very bleak outlook on humanity.

        1. Pocket*

          Or try Kuang’s most recent book, Yellowface! It’s about a white author’s complicated relationship with her friend, who is Asian, and her much more complicated relationship with her friend’s work. I really liked it, and it made a compelling follow-up to the book I’d read immediately before, Naomi Klein’s Doppelgänger.

          1. Bluebell*

            I read Yellowface before Babel, and like it. Usually I’m not a big SF/fantasy reader but decided to take a chance on babel, mostly due to its positive reviews here.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I hit my Goodreads goal of 130 books yesterday!! I finished up with The Univited Corpse, a food blogger mystery. It was OK, but nothing special.
      I’ll probably take a couple of days before starting a new book because I have things to finish for Christmas.

    14. Valancy Stirling*

      I finished The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan last night. I attempted another Christmas read but wasn’t in the mood, so I started The Last Bookshop in London. Only a couple of chapters in, but I like it so far.

    15. 248_Ballerinas*

      Just started the audiobook of My Effin’ Life by Geddy Lee of Rush. Read by the author . Interesting so far. I’m not a Rush super fan, but know him to be an original thinker who won’t deliver one more sex-drugs-rock-and-roll tome.

      1. Seashell*

        I just finished reading Testimony by (the late) Robbie Robertson of The Band. Plenty of sex and drugs in that, but a good amount of interesting stuff about making rock and roll. It wrapped up completely at the time that The Band broke up, which I thought was a little odd. No discussion of the next 40+ years of his life or the deaths of most of his former band mates.

    16. Filosofickle*

      I just read The Door to Door Bookstore, and it’s super cute. I have been striking out lately and was happy to find this one. It’s a sweet, (mostly) light story set in Germany about an old man who delivers books, the people on his rounds, and a little girl who starts tagging along. (Trigger warning: Domestic violence. It’s not graphic but it’s there.)

    17. Ali + Nino*

      Still slogging through Patient Zero. One thing I think I don’t like is that the authors seem to judge the actions of past generations based on the scientific knowledge we have today. Obviously if they had known then what we know now, they would have acted differently!

      Next up might be The War on the West by Douglas Murray. Absolutely love hearing him speak on current events.

      1. Jackalope*

        Who is the author? I went to look it up but there are at least two books with that title by female authors, so wasn’t sure.

        I will add that given how humanity did with the latest pandemic, and not long before that with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, I would say we don’t have a leg to stand on when pointing fingers at others in the past. We had a lot of good solid medical evidence on what would help that many people either ignored or actively fought against.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Patient Zero: A Curious History of the World’s Worst Diseases by Lydia Kang, MD and Nate Pederson. I agree with your take on our most recent “performance” when put to the test – so perhaps the book is most valuable for the history while taking the authors’ perspectives on cultural conclusions with a grain of salt.

    18. Jamie Taco keeps taking my lines*

      I was reading a few of the Ringworld series but it lost steam at the most recent book so I need something new. Fun fact, I couldn’t find a e-book version of the 3rd book in the series, but archive.org has a scanned version available to rent.

      I might go back to another book by KJ Parker, I read 6 or 7 of his earlier this year. Very enjoyable, cynical faux history as it “really” happened, mostly classical or renaissance.

      1. LD RN*

        I just started Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City! I keep thinking, “This is what happens when the Army Corp of Engineers, Klinger edition, is left in charge. Things get done. Best not to ask how, but things get done.”

  13. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread: share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs! As always, all games are welcome, not just video games. Also, share if you’re going to have time off/time with family and are considering new games (or traditional family games) in the next week or two!

    I’m still trying to finish Fire Emblem Engage, having returned to it after a long break. It’s fun and I love the Fire Emblem game mechanics, but I’m a little bored and ready to just finish. It doesn’t have a super strong plot at the moment and the characters aren’t as relatable or fleshed out as the ones in Three Houses.

    1. Skates*

      Our friend is bringing over Calico on Xmas day!! Last year she bought wingspan, which was also a hit.

      I played stardew valley for the first time this year and I think I’m “done” until 1.6. I’ve unlocked everything (even Mr. Qi’s walnut room!!) and am in winter Year 7. This game was, no joke, one of the highlights of my year even though I’m like 7 years late to the party.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        I have it on good authority that Santa is bringing my kid Calico this year. :D I’m really looking forward to it. (Santa brings everyone a board game. That’s become one of our family traditions the last few years. It’s also why I need to clean and organize the game shelves today!)

    2. The Dude Abides*

      Bouncing around the titles in Mario All Stars, based on the whims of my 4yo.

      The traditional game for us on Christmas Eve is Ship Captain Crew. As much as I would like to play other games (42, Roll For It, any card game), we will be with my partner’s family, and SCC is a tradition in their family that predates my birth.

    3. Shy Platypus*

      I have to agree with you on Engage’s plot and characters. In the end I was almost a little bit annoyed by the whole thing, which hasn’t been the case with any other FE game I’ve played (which is almost all of them).

      While I also love the turned-based aspect of FE, I thought the engage mechanic was a bit overpowered and that balancing for that massive damage output made the game boring (I play in hard mode, perhaps it’s less of a problem in normal). Basically any boss is just about having all your characters engaging and using their special skill to hit as hard as they can, but they have so much HP! And so many HP bars! Idk, when I describe it like that it sounds fun but it’s actually not :(

      I’m gearing up on my Switch for holiday travel! I’m thinking of buying Golden Idol as I’ve loved Return of the Obra Dinn and a person from the-place-that-shan’t-be-mentioned told me they had similar vibes. We’ll also take a couple boardgames for the long dark nights. It’s going to be fun!

      1. Jackalope*

        (For anyone else reading, this will contain some spoilers for this game.)




        I agree on the Emblems throwing off the combat. In addition to that, I also found it frustrating when in the middle of the game you lose all of them and then have to start over (with two new Emblems whose powers you aren’t used to) and totally change up the way you’ve been playing, since of course the game pushes you to rely on their abilities. I personally tend to get cranky if I lose important abilities mid-way through the game; it’s fine not to have them, but it’s annoying to have them taken away (and for so long!).

        One other mechanic that I’ve disliked is that the difficulty of the random encounters is keyed to the main character. Partway through the game I realized that I was having a hard time surviving the encounters, since I was rotating through my group (not everyone, since there are too many characters to keep all of them leveled up unless you spend SO MANY HOURS grinding, but a decent number), which meant that they kept having to retreat and not getting decent experience. The compromise I finally settled on was having them grind without the main character, which helps but also means that she doesn’t get to level up her supports with them, meaning that her support levels for me are super weak. It also tends to mean that when I fight boss battles they are comparatively a breeze, which is fine but also sometimes frustrating. I wish I could go back to the people making the game and talk to them about battle structure.

        1. Shy Platypus*

          We had a very simililar experience hahaha !

          Hope the next game avoids some of these pitfalls (and particularly the enormous roster of not-very-specific characters).

    4. A Girl Named Fred*

      I’m grinding away at leveling combat classes in FFXIV while also cleaning up a lot of the sidequests around the maps, and I realized there’s several dungeons (or hard versions of dungeons) that I hadn’t unlocked yet. Whoops. The bi-annual Minecraft urge is also sneaking up so we’ll see if I “succumb” to that at some point lol.

      My boyfriend got us Fog of Love which is apparently a 2-person board game we can play together. I think we’re going to play it together on Christmas, so I’m looking forward to that!

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I hear you about FFXIV. Does the whole Inspector Hildebrand loop ever have an end, or does it just keep going to infinity and beyond?

        1. A Girl Named Fred*

          Well, they tied it into the Endwalker relic quests, so it goes up to at least level 90. Which was unfortunate, because I personally can’t stand that questline so I did a lot of cutscene skipping for it, which is something I almost never do. I guess the upside of that is HOPEFULLY that means it won’t go past this expansion, but it does mean that if you want to get the EW relic weapons you have to to the Hildebrand questline at some point.

          (Also for the record – I mean no shade to anyone who does enjoy the Hildebrand quests. I have several friends that enjoy it a lot; it’s just super not my brand of humor and drives me bonkers every time I interact with it.)

    5. Phryne*

      I have been making my way though Assassin’s Creed Valhalla very slowly. I like these kind of games (I played all of the AC games and also The Witcher games etc) but work behind a computer full time, so I generally don’t feel like spending more time behind one in the evenings. But now I have two weeks of Christmas holiday (perks of working in education) so maybe I can make a dent in it.
      I was a bit apprehensive of this one as I did my masters thesis on precisely this period of Viking settlement in England, but I’ve not had anything major to complain about. I mean obviously it is not all that historical, but no glaring anachronisms that are big enough to make me yell at the screen either. (I’m looking at you, Saxons with crossbows 500 years early and racial purity beliefs 1500 years early, King Arthur 2004).
      I have some feelings about the plundering monasteries gameplay feature. The protagonists are portrayed as religiously tolerant, but you do have to plunder monasteries to get ahead, and then next thing in the game you are talking about how much you respect all beliefs to some bishop.
      They solved the conundrum by only making you attack the armed guards (which all monasteries mysteriously have) and not the monks. Apparently that makes taking all the riches and setting the buildings on fire forgivable. It’s kinda hilarious tbh.

    6. Dwight Schrute*

      in Act II of BG3 and I’m still just amazed at how much fun the game is. I absolutely adore Neil Newbon’s voice acting for Astarion and I love hearing all of his dramatic lines

    7. Pear Blossom*

      I got the game AZUL because I saw it was great for 2 people. I have yet to play and want to watch some YouTube videos on it before we play. Has abyone played this before?

  14. I'm not Martha*

    I have a couple carcasses of rotisserie chickens and I would like to make some stock and then chicken noodle soup. I left quite a bit of meat on them, and the question I have is, would it be easier to remove the meat before I cook them, or would it be easier to simmer them until they fall apart and then sort through everything to recover the meat?

    1. Hazel*

      I think the meat will be tasteless by the end of stock making. You have boiled all the goodness out of it. So pick the carcass first and enjoy soup, chicken pie, etc!

    2. Hotdog not dog*

      Pick, but don’t be too fussed about getting every last bit. My late mother in law would spend hours picking the bones completely clean. I stop when I think I’ve got enough meat set aside and get the rest of it afterwards. Nobody in our family has ever been able to tell the difference.

    3. I'm not Martha*

      Thanks, everyone! I will report back with my success (or failure) of making my first homemade chicken soup.

  15. Kayem*

    Low stakes gift etiquette dilemma:

    We’ve been given Christmas gifts by some Christian-leaning close family members. My household’s non-Christian religion’s gift-giving day is technically tomorrow (no, it’s not Festivus, it just happened to be Dec 23 this year). I assume they will open the gifts we gave them on Christmas day. So the question is, should we open the gifts they gave us tomorrow on our day or wait until Christmas day because said family members expect us to do it then? None of us in the household got each other gifts, we generally don’t do that, so all the gifts we have sitting around are from Christmas people who assume we’ll open them Christmas day.

    1. Double A*

      A gift is for you, whatever the giver’s reason for giving it, so open it whenever it makes sense to you for whatever reason it makes sense to you.

    2. Time for a change?*

      I would open them on the 23rd. Just wait till the 25th or later to thank them. Even when all involved celebrate Christmas presents don’t always get opened on the 25th unless they are all together.

      1. Kayem*

        I never discount the possibility that someone has bribed our Google nest into listening for the sound of wrapping paper tearing.

    3. Saturday*

      I say open them when you want. I think when people send gifts, they know they may be opened whenever – including the day they arrive.

    4. Bagpuss*

      Open them now, they’re your gifts, and you are celebrating.
      after all, you aren’t assuming that thry will open theirs on 23rd just because thats when you celebrate

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      When the gift givers open gifts they have received has absolutely no bearing on when you open gifts you receive. If someone has a problem with that, then that is their problem. Not yours.

  16. StellaBella*

    Little joys thread… what are yours this week?

    Mine include Longwood Gardens nearish to Philly and holiday lights but mostly being with a close friend after a devastating year for her.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      My 5yo went ice skating for the first time. It took awhile to even get her on the ice but once she tried it she had the best time and it was so cute and fun :)

    2. Bethlam*

      Sailed through first chemo treatments yesterday and today. Side effects may kick in over the next few days, but right now I feel really good – just some fatigue.

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

        Best of luck as you go through those — hope you continue to feel well! : )

      2. No name*

        Bethlam — Congrats! May I recommend the Mayo Clinic Connect website? Different sections for just about every disease you can think of, and I’ve gotten a ton of answers that have made my life much better — less anxiety, more support. (Diagnosed with pancreatic on 2-15-23. On the 3rd leg of treatment — radiation + oral chemo. Prognosis is good. so far.)

        Wishing you all the best!

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

          Best of luck to you, No name — hope your treatment keeps going well and so glad you have a good prognosis!

        2. Bethlam*

          Thanks for the recommendation- I checked out the Mayo connect, signed up for an account, and found some advice useful to my situation. especially as the side effects have kicked in.

          Good luck with your treatment as well.

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Husband warmed my heart before we headed out to the store for the third time this week: previously, I didn’t have any tissues with me, and he left a little pocket package of them on my laptop to bring with me this time. Awww.

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

      Had a nice long chat with my oldest (as in we’ve known each other the longest) friend today. : )

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Did a trial run of gingerbread biscuits to bring as a gift for the family when we go visit our former foster cats in their new home. I used my cat-shaped cookie cutters, and made both white and grey icing, so the biscuits are the colours of the cats. I’m a good baker but a lousy decorator, so I was pleasantly surprised to see the final product looking nice and neat.

      We had to cancel our original planned visit last week, but we’re hoping to go after Christmas, and I already have the dough in the freezer to make another batch. Looking forward to it as it was great fun!

    6. Hotdog not dog*

      New to us Very Good Boy has been to the vet and deemed healthy. He’s also better socialized and trained than we expected. (He’s a husky rescue, about 3 ish years old.)

    7. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      Teacher on vacation!! 16 days off and going to visit my friends on Tuesday for just over a week!

    8. The OG Sleepless*

      I got over my second bout with Covid! It didn’t last as long as the last time, only 4 days. It took another day or so to really get back to normal energy, but I’m fine now and nobody seems to have caught it from me.

    9. Turtle Dove*

      I walked through our neighborhood after dark on Thursday to find the carolers from the high-school choir. They were outstanding. I love Christmas carols and felt tingly as I listened. It was nice to take a walk after dark too. I even cut through a few backyards, which is allowed here if you stick to the perimeters. I felt like a kid again!

    10. GoryDetails*

      Had a lovely tea with friends at a local tea shop; loads of tiny treats, savory and sweet, and quite a variety of tea (I had nettle!).

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I won a $15 Amazon gift card in our Place-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named-On-Weekends department holiday trivia game! \0/ I rarely win anything so that was nice. And it was fun.

    12. fposte*

      Had my lovely Christmas Observed with a dear friend. Added bonus is I definitely hit the spot on a few of my gifts to her, which is always satisfying.

    13. Filosofickle*

      I “won” at the White Elephant exchange — there are many interpretations and i didn’t know this group so I was a little nervous. But it was the most popular gift of the night and it was stolen and restolen the max number of times immediately. I got it right, yay!

    14. Girasol*

      There’s a little red breasted house finch in the window feeder about an arm’s length away, alternately cheeping and eating. He’s so close I can see his feathers expand and contract as he breathes.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’ve been watching the crows hop around outside my work window–one found a treat, hopped over to some wet leaves, hid it under the leaves, strutted away, then returned a few minutes later to enjoy it. Love crows!

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      On my way home from a medical appointment I stopped at my favorite ice cream shop, which will be closed from Christmas Eve and New Year’s and bought three pints of ice cream to keep in my freezer. Yes I can get ice cream at the supermarket, but Lizzy’s makes the best black raspberry ice cream, and very good chocolate. (I live in Boston, and I have Opinions about several of the local ice cream shops.)

    16. Reluctant Mezzo*

      When cleaning out the pellet stove, the bottom plate unexpectedly came out all the way like it’s supposed to! (have been struggling with that with hardened bits of ash making the stupid thing stick and harder to clean). Since the stove is close to 20 years old, the fact it works is cool. And…(whispering *very* softly)…my microwave is really close to 45 years old and still works. Montgomery Ward, bless its bankrupt name, made some really good stuff back in the day.

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

      We have worked nearly every Sunday this calendar year and are out the door at 5:00 am (wakeup at 4:30) For a number of reasons outside of my control we are not working tomorrow.

      I’m praying I can sleep in (I’m old, so anything after 9:30 is a blessing).

  17. Super Grateful Mom*

    Over the past year or so, I’ve posted a few times in the weekend open thread asking for advice or recommendations for my beautiful, delightful, wonderfully creative, super-sensitive kiddo with sensory challenges. (I choose my name on a whim each time, so I’ve posted under a jumble of things that each spoke to me in the moment.) I’ve inquired about beds and clothing and books . . . . And I wanted to pop in to say a big thank you to everyone who posted and replied to my various posts. You have changed our lives in the best of ways. The book thread for a content-sensitive kiddo who loves middle-grade was The Best. It gave her a huge list of ideas, and the lovely notes and kind, supportive words were such a comfort to her. She ultimately found a fairly inexpensive Pottery Barn bed on big sale that she loves, and we lucked into a cozy natural-ish mattress on clearance that was the biggest deal ever. She found a super soft faux-fur comforter during the same PB sale that we are tickled we splurged on because it is the softest thing we have ever felt. Like ever. Special big thanks for the Svaha clothing recommendation, because it has turned out to be soft enough to meet her sensory needs, a new personal passion because of the glorious prints, and a source of pure delight because the HUGE pockets on the dresses are a neuro-spicy kiddo dream come true (nice sale going on right now for anyone interested). Incidentally, for those who are looking, she highly recommends Cuddl Duds Ultra Cozy leggings. Soft pants are an ongoing project, and she just discovered her new fave in those. While I’m here . . . if anyone has recommendations for very soft sweater-like tights, we are on the look-out because she is trying to expand her wardrobe! A big step! All sensory-friendly clothing recommendations welcome, along with any and all life advice for a teen book-loving introvert aspiring author who doesn’t see the point of small talk. So much gratitude for everyone who has reached out and shared ideas and kind words! Thank you! Wishing you all the very best for 2024!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      You might try Cuddle Duds for leggings/tights–I love their stuff and it’s super lightweight and soft!

      1. Super Grateful Mom*

        Thank you so much! I just e-mailed customer service on their website asking if they have a summer weight, thin but super soft legging. They don’t appear to have tights, but if she could find a summer weight Cuddl Dud legging that feels like the Ultra Cozy fleecy leggings, that would be amazing!

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

      Since she likes super-soft things, I’m going to give a shout out to the Women’s Wicked Plush Robe. I just got one this fall, and I love it SO much!

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

          P.S. I don’t know if they’re made from the same material, but the version I got and love is the mid-length version. (Might also be best if your teen is on the shorter side.)

          1. Super Grateful Mom*

            Thanks so much for the recommendation! I took a screen shot so I remember to show her. The blue color is sooooo swoony!

    3. AGD*

      This is lovely! I was a kiddo a lot like yours, so envisioning her being comfortable and fulfilled just almost made me tear up. Adolescence was hard for me because I wasn’t interested in any of the major teenage things my peers did together for fun (I couldn’t get into pop music, sitcoms, paranormal romance novels, pranks, sports, cars, fashion, dating/gossip, alcohol and other substances, etc. – I liked video games and sci-fi, but those were niche and nerdy at the time, especially for a girl), and there was so much erratic behavior and moodiness that basically no one felt like a reliable friend (I did not understand normal teenage hormonal stuff, lol). The best thing I did was refuse to stop being myself. I kept up with all my weird interests, even the ones my family really didn’t understand the point of. And continued reading. And writing. Things got so much better after 17. I went to a wonderful college with lots of fellow geeky people and made incredible friends.

      1. Super Grateful Mom*

        AGD, thank you so much for sharing. This sounds so much like my kiddo. I cried when I read your note. I am deeply appreciative. She feels very much the same way about all of the typical teen fare, which means she is largely feeling really left out right now. She is taking a gap year in part because she just isn’t into trying to fit in socially at college right now. She would ace the academics because it’s what she does, but some of the adult level content in say English class and the social mismatch would really be suboptimal in this moment. I am so, so encouraged by your comment about finding fellow geeky people, because that is exactly what she needs. That would be epic. Best to you and wishing you a wonderful new year!

    4. Turtle Dove*

      “[B]ook-loving introvert aspiring author who doesn’t see the point of small talk” was young me too!

      I’m so glad she’s finding fabrics that meet her sensory needs. I’m sensitive to texture too and highly recommend Serasoft blankets by Berkshire. It sounds like she has bedding she likes, but they sell throws too. 100% silk is another favorite of mine. I look for silk clothing at resale shops and on eBay.

      I agree with AGD that the most important part is being herself. I’ve had plenty of family and work situations where people don’t understand me. I kindly assert myself and persist, and I’m proud of that skill. When I’ve compromised too much, it’s usually been around my noise sensitivities. It’s good to see more understanding of that since I was a suffering kid. Now I keep good ear plugs in my purse and put them in when the noise around me is too loud or shrill.

      I did gradually learn to enjoy small talk as an entry point to deeper conversations. But I avoid conventional phrasing because that’s not me, and I get bored with it. Now I enjoy little exchanges with strangers when I’m out in the world. And I gradually found friends who appreciate me just the way I am. That is gold.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Ditto to AGD. In 8th grade (eons ago) I realized that no, I wasn’t the square peg I thought people were trying to force into a round hole, I was a triangle. Have to admit, it didn’t make life much easier for a long while but I felt much more comfortable in my own skin. Today I am a bold extrovert (took yeeeears to get there!) and a writer who is so happy with life and solitude. And the few good, important friends I have are so much more valuable than being surrounded by scads of “friends” any day. I wish the same for your kiddo!

        1. Super Grateful Mom*

          sagewhiz, I love your note! Thank you for sharing your story. I love this community so much. Words of encouragement from Mom absolutely do not have the same impact as real-life successful journeys. Wishing you all the best and hoping you have an amazing new year!

      2. Super Grateful Mom*

        Turtle Dove, thank you so much! I bookmarked Berkshire right away. It looks like they are having a great sale right now. So grateful for the recommendation. It’s interesting that you mentioned silk because I have been looking around on ThredUp trying to find brands and fabrics that might work well for her, and I was thinking of picking up something silk for her to try. I think I am going to take the leap for sure based on your note. She is noise sensitive too. I just picked up a new set of ear plugs for her recently. I am going to pass on your note to her (all of these, really), and I think it is going to be such a comfort and provide some of the non-Mom encouragement she needs. So grateful for your kindness! Hoping you have a lovely new year!

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

      For advice, I’d repeat my mom’s advice to me that you don’t need to have a *lot* of friends or close friends everywhere, but that eventually finding a couple of good friends *somewhere* is good. I was never a popular kid — au contraire, mon frere, as I was picked on a lot — but I did make a couple of close friends with whom I am still close to this day. I see this with a colleague’s neurospicy LGBTQ+ kid as well: The kid was feeling a bit lonely and not bonding with the other kids at school, but then found a gathering place with other neurospicy LGBTQ+ teens and now has a lovely friend group to look forward to seeing. And there’s nothing wrong with finding companionship in books when the human companionship available to you somewhere isn’t your cup of tea. A book is excellent company!

      1. Super Grateful Mom*

        I so wish we could fast forward the process of her finding her friend niche. She is working on building confidence in an online forum for kids, but it’s so hard for a kiddo who doesn’t see any value or have any interest in the small talk that leads to good connections. She is such a fabulous person, and I know in my heart she’ll find her way. This is just such a challenging chapter at her age. Thank you for your lovely note, for sharing a bit of your personal story, and for the encouraging words. I am so grateful.

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      All the Harry Potter brand t-shirts have printed tags, not actual tags. The cloth itself is standard t-shirt cloth, so it probably wouldn’t hurt for them to be washed a few times.

    7. JaneDough(not)*

      SG Mom, apologies for backtracking, but I didn’t see your other threads, and I want to recommend (for when your aspiring-writer young ‘un is a little older) Alice Munro’s short stories, esp. from “Friend of My Youth” (1994) onward. They are *unmatched* — so good that I’m tearing up just thinking about them.

      Wishing your family well.

      1. Super Grateful Mom*

        Thank you so much for your thoughtful suggestion. I very much appreciate your kindness. All the best to you and yours. I hope you have a wonderful 2024!

  18. Emma*

    What are people cooking and eating or drinking this weekish?

    I would like to add a little pomegranate to prosecco maybe for New Year’s!

    1. MissB*

      I have both rhubarb syrup and some cranberry juice that I canned this year. I’ll be adding those to Prosecco (not at the same time).

      The cranberry juice is yummy. Barely sweet.

    2. RagingADHD*

      Next week when my family are here, we’re going to make Joulutorttu: Finnish pinwheel cookies. They’re kind of a flaky pastry with a dab of jam in the middle, and twisted into a star shape. So yummy. Prune jam is my mother in laws’s tradition, but I have also used lingonberry, which was delicious. Probably any kind would work.

    3. Can't Sit Still*

      I made a Bûche De Noël today for the first time! I took an online class and picked up some tricks and tips. My kitchen was a disaster zone and buttercream ended up everywhere, but the end result is delicious, even if it doesn’t look much like a log.

      I don’t celebrate Christmas, and it’s a little late for a Yule log, nonetheless, it was fun.

      I do have quite a bit of chocolate and espresso buttercream left over. Not sure what I’m going to do with it, but I’m sure I’ll think of something.

    4. Clara Bowe*

      I am gonna make red Thai curry with chicken meatballs. I’ve made it a few times and it is delicious. Plus, it tastes better over a few days.

    5. Reluctant Mezzo*

      I opened up a half- bottle of late harvest cabernet (pre-fire Napa Valley) only to have the cork crumble. I had to stab the half that didn’t come out with a knife to push it through, and poured it through a folded paper towel to keep the cork out my glass.

      It was really excellent!

  19. Wireknitter*

    Has anyone had the experience of becoming a super-taster during a bout of covid? My husband has had several super-taster experiences that lasted a couple of days over the last several years, but no covid detected until now. After the first day, his tastebuds went wild and food is just so intense that he is mostly eating bland foods and finding them extreme. You always hear of losing taste and smell, but I’ve not heard of this super-tasting. So, any other super-tasters during covid?

    1. Stay-at-homesteader*

      Oof, no. I’m a super-smeller and when COVID knocked my sense of smell out, it literally took over a year to fully recover. I did experience some strange smells, though – random rotten/stinky/acrid smells and tastes where there weren’t any (or at least nothing detectable to anyone else). I’ve heard of that for other people, too

    2. Just a Name*

      I had lost my sense of smell ages ago, but once I got Covid, I could smell and taste again, at least for a while. I was so used to things having so little taste that it was different. Of course the the paxlovid added that extra funky taste. I’ve had 2 cases of bronchitis in the last 3 months and between the antibiotics and steroids, I can smell things a bit. Like the trash today was stinky. It won’t last.

    3. Slartibartfast*

      No issues with smell or taste, but I lost all the hair on my arms, legs, and eyebrows. Arms are still bare, legs are patchy, the right eyebrow is is mostly back but I’m still drawing the left one on. It’s been 10 months.

    4. Heather Crackers*

      Me. I had Covid once in mid-2022, and my nose has been on overdrive ever since. Soaps, shampoos, and lotions are overwhelming, and I’ve switched to unscented everything. I grit my teeth to get through my hair appointments, then rush home to frantically wash the odor out. Washing my hands in public is awful because everywhere uses cheap stinky soap. Taking out the trash requires holding my breath and running with the can to the curb. Having pets is rough and cleaning litter makes me feel dizzy.

      My diet has not really changed since I have to eat mild to keep my GERD under control anyway, but the scent thing is really hard.

      1. JJ*

        Sending sympathy / empathy. Chemo has turned me into a super-smeller; nauseated most of the time, even from products I used to like … ASTONISHING how highly scented almost every part of life has become.

    5. Helvetica*

      I became a super-smeller once after a cold. Did not test positive for covid but I do remember being able to smell cold butter very intensely and how milky cream cheese smelled. It passed in a week or so and I remain a good smeller but that period was truly intense.

    6. Reluctant Mezzo*

      My husband’s chemo did awful things to his sense of taste and smell, though he was still a super-taster, he didn’t like most of it.

  20. K9 Recs*

    (Apparently, I’m posting weekly so I’m keeping K9 in my username for the posts. Haha)

    I have 2 questions. Does anyone have a car vacuum they like? Considering if I should research getting one that stays in my truck. But I don’t have a ton of space.

    Q2: What about pet insurance? I have quite a few discount options through work (MetLife and Liberty Mutual I think plus companies that seem to only do pet insurance). Previous dog I didn’t have pet insurance except for a few years with Banfield. But new dog and I already got bitten by loose dogs so I’m considering it ’cause who knows and my neighborhood seems to have a problem with loose dogs.

    1. Squidhead*

      3 Cats, not dogs, but Petplan insurance has definitely worked out for 2 out of 3 of them. (And for 1 out of 3 it has paid out more than all the premiums for all 3 of them, so really the whole thing has worked in our favor.) I seem to recall they have more restrictions and uncovered conditions for dogs than cats so it’s worth reading all the fine print (and dog premiums also tend to be higher) but I plan to do it again with any future cats!

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My workplace offers pet insurance at a discount and through payroll deduction with Nationwide. One pup has never had an issue, the other apparently gets pneumonia every time she gets the canine influenza vaccine (we’re at 2 for 2 now with a week-long hospital stay the first time, which saved me three years of premiums by the time she was five months old) and dealing with the insurance has been cake. It covers 70% after a $250 deductible and they actually just added an option to include wellness (exams vax flea meds etc) on top of accident/illness so I have on my calendar notes to add that at their next renewals.

      1. K9 Recs*

        Oh, I think Nationwide is the other and not LM. I’m on vacation and don’t want to log into our intranet to check. Or at least not this early in vacation.

        I’m glad to see some people think it’s beneficial.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          One dog was added to the policy when she was 3 months old and no additional documentation was needed. The other was 6 years old and they did ask me to upload I think three years of vet records to confirm that she didn’t have any pre-existing conditions. (My vet just emailed me a single PDF file with all her records in it for the five years she had been seeing that vet.) I uploaded it and they were like “looks good, no pre-existing conditions, check.”

          1. K9 Recs*

            Oh. My dog is 7 and a rescue so I don’t have any records except from the shelter (vax) and the rescue.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              I’m not sure how that would be addressed, I’d had my older dog since 8 weeks as well, but I’m sure they have a process! :)

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Also I think it used to be much more of a racket? There used to be only a couple of companies that did pet insurance and they were crazy expensive and super picky and awful. I think now that there are more companies, and more reputable companies, in the market, it’s a lot more reasonable and accessible and useful.

    3. sswj*

      I’ve had Trupanion for both my Labs. My dear, departed, and much missed Luna had both ‘knees” (stifles, CCLs) surgically repaired, and they paid 90% of both sets of bills, 10 months apart. It also helped pay for prescription meds when she developed an allergy that needed constant $$medication.

      I supposed I could have funded it myself if I’d started a special savings account when she was a puppy, but … They’ve been really easy to work with and I have no regrets.

      1. Rainy*

        I also have Trupanion. It helps a little bit for “normal” illnesses–they don’t pay the exam fees, which are often a lot of the fees for a pet illness, so when our dachshund got pneumonia, they ended up kicking in roughly the cost of the imaging, all told, but we have a dachshund and I wanted pet insurance that would essentially pay for back surgery and physical therapy if he winds up needing it. Of course we feed him all the supplements and try to watch his back and keep him from hurting himself etc, but I don’t want to lose him someday because we can’t come up with the cost of a surgery right that second.

    4. miel*

      My friends had pet insurance and they were really grateful because their cat got sick and it let them do everything to try to save her.

      We do not have pet insurance for our cat. When she got sick we paid out of pocket, but it wasn’t a lot of money and was probably cheaper than insurance.

      Rule of thumb – if paying for [expense] out of pocket would be a hardship, get insurance.

      1. K9 Recs*

        For the most part, paying out of pocket wouldn’t be a hardship. Even paying my medical bills for the my bite wasn’t a financial hardship just a mental one ;-)
        But sometimes I’m too “everything will be fine” and not risk averse enough.

        1. izquierda*

          My big regret with our seemingly healthy adopted dog is not getting pet insurance since basic vet visits wouldn’t be a hardship. In two years, this dog has had knee surgery, a heart scan, GI issues… My friend’s dog had similar issues but they have insurance and have paid a fraction of the total costs that we have.

    5. Heather Crackers*

      I had VPI pet insurance and they denied every single claim as pre-existing. Basically you need to have a breeder animal with papers dating from birth, or else they will refuse to cover anything. Instead, I just set aside a monthly line item in the budget for pet care.

      1. K9 Recs*

        Yeah, I think I’ve heard that before with VPI. I think it was one of the earlier ones? It’s been almost a decade since I’ve had a dog.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      I’ve had nothing but good experiences with Fetch, formerly PetPlan. So far, they’ve covered 3 cats, including my $30k kitty. Right now, I’m way ahead of premiums. My 8 year old cat had his very first claim this year, since he was in excellent health. They would periodically reach out to me to make sure that a) he was still alive and b) that I wanted to continue covering him. My cats were all rescues and since I’ve provided all their medical records, including from the shelter, and take them in for their annual exams, they’ve never denied a claim. Made exclusions based on my policy or requested more information, but never denied a claim completely.

      Also, they are extremely kind and comforting when you make your claim for end of life care. Thankfully, I haven’t needed that for quite a while, but it was appreciated at such a difficult time.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      We have pet insurance through our vet and it’s great! Covers all the basics so we don’t have to pay as we go, and we’re covered if there’s an emergency as well. Totally worth it.

    8. Yikes Stripes*

      I have pet insurance through Trupanion for my younger two cats and not my older two, and let me tell you: I wish I’d known about it 11 years ago.

      Youngest cat has Feline Hyperesthesia Syndrome and has to have topical medications since he’s literally impossible to pill – said meds would be costing $250/mo out of pocket, but because Trupanion pays out 90% after you hit your deductable (ours is $350) for life they’re $25 instead. Eldest cat has osteoarthritis and is getting Solensia injections, which are $120/mo and while they’ve changed her life so much I definitely wish I was only paying $12!

  21. rr*

    I am a super taster already (though this is happily lessening a bit with age), so I don’t have a real answer to your question. But when I had covid, my sense of taste didn’t go away, but certain foods did taste wrong and bad. I don’t remember the particulars, since it was pretty long ago, but I remember a lot of food tasted wrong and bitter or sharp, maybe even burnt.

    I spoke with a nurse at the time who was assigned to check on people who tested positive for covid. She knew exactly what I was talking about when I was having trouble describing it. Apparently it is not the most common side effect, but far from unknown.

    It eventually went away, but it did take longer than I thought it would. Being a super taster anyway, I already mostly eat bland foods, so it basically became an unpleasant period where everything I ate tasted bad. Even when i got to the point where it faded, it was still unpleasant because even if that bad taste was gone, food still didn’t taste like it should.

    I hope your husband gets better quickly and this side effect goes away fast.

    1. anon for this*

      Not a super taster, but experienced the variant where everything tastes exactly the same, but my brain refused to accept most foods as being food, including ones I previously loved, and I couldn’t make myself eat them any more. It made eating very hard, especially since it lasted for almost a year. Fortunately it did wear off.

  22. TVTVTV*

    TV lovers of AAM…how do you keep track of the shows you’re watching? I temporarily dropped most of my streaming subs in favour of free streams online, so I can’t rely on the “continue watching” feature anymore. I’ve thought about building a spreadsheet, but I just can’t get excited about that idea. I’d love to hear how you organize/track your shows:-)

    1. RagingADHD*

      If I’m really into a particular show, I just keep watching it every chance I get until it’s done.

      And if I’m not that into it, then I just watch whatever I think of or come across at the time. To me, temporarily forgetting and then rediscovering something I like adds to the fun. It’s like finding money in your coat pocket from last winter.

      1. TVTVTV*

        Haha. I like to mix up most of the time. But thanks for suggesting a shift in perspective. I like it.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I know Amazon Prime is basically Skynet, but it does a great job of keeping track of my stuff. When a new Midsomer Murders pops, it puts that at the head of my “continue watching” queue. Same for Sister Boniface and all the other UK shows I groove on (right now it’s Death in Paradise.)

        I do wish it would get the hint about shows I tried and didn’t like, though. They stay on there forever and I feel guilty but too lazy to figure out how to delete them.

    2. Time for a change?*

      I actually use a spread sheet. Have every day 8, 9 and 10 pm with channel number and start date for network shows and then a listing for when steaming streaming shows drop and code for service like Netflix is NF. It’s pinned below a white board that has a week grid where I note something I missed or a one off show/special like Doctor Who’s upcoming Christmas show.

    3. TV Watcher*

      Super basic, but I have a txt file that I write in, and track what’s the latest ep I’ve watched for each show and what’s upcoming.
      I also keep a list at the bottom of the file for shows that I watched that were cancelled or that have finished.
      -Doctor Who (upcoming: Christmas special, Dec 25. seen: 3 x 60th specials)
      -Never Have I Ever (finished)

      1. TVTVTV*

        I’m “saving” the last season of Never Have I Ever lol. It gives me all the feels. I’d like to keep a list of shows to recommend (in addition to ones that are cancelled/finished – so smart!) cuz I seem to always blank out in the moment if someone asks.

        1. Seashell*

          Loved Never Have I Ever. I tried to stretch out the last season a little, so I didn’t go through it all in one sitting, but I didn’t stretch it too far.

    4. Clarabow*

      I use next-episode.net – you can create an account on the website and/or use their app.
      It’s free, but you can pay for the premium version with no ads and added features.
      I find it handy to remember which shows I wanted to watch. Sometimes a load come at once or stuff’ going on in my life that means I don’t have much time for telly. If I didn’t use this, I’d definitely forget about shows, that I meant to watch.

      1. TVTVTV*

        Definitely going to check this out. I get so excited when a new season/episode drops, but there’s never enough time to stay on top of my watch list. Thanks:-)

        1. Mari*

          similar to that is justwatch (.com) – it lets you choose which streaming services you have access too as well if you want to filter, and will show you where you can watch things. i haven’t tried their watchlist feature but it would probably do what you want to keep track of things :)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I tend to binge one show at a time so I just keep going a little at a time. Like right now I’m working my way through The Mary Tyler Moore Show — I watch a couple of episodes every evening.
      If some shows drop weekly, I pick a night and watch all the weekly episodes of those shows then.

    6. JaneDough(not)*

      This might be too low-tech for you, but here are my two methods (context: all of my viewing is done on my laptop):

      1. I bookmark a page with something I want to watch and type “watch — ” before the info that typically appears in the bookmark (website, name of show). I also do this when I find a TV review of a show I want to watch. Very easy to search all bookmarks using WATCH .

      2. I hit CNTRL + SHIFT + N to make a folder and type the relevant info, such as “watch — henpocalypse — uk comedy” or “look for (watch) — forsyte saga c. 2000”. An easy search calls up all such folders, and they take up theoretically no space on my hard drive.

      1. TVTVTV*

        Thanks for your reply! I also watch tv exclusively on my laptop, so I’m going to give bookmarks and folders some thought. I like that it doesn’t require opening a new file or learning to navigate a new program/website.

    1. vulturestalker*

      Seconding Station Eleven (the book!) There are one or two nasty people, but the vast majority of the characters are real, compassionate humans, and that is very much the focus of the book/the takeaway.

  23. Food Quirks!*

    What are your unpopular food opinions? Let’s all be good and nice to each other about them- it’s just for fun!

    I’ll go first: I am a big fan of American cheese singles. They are firmly the number one cheese for grilled cheese and I cannot resist snacking on them when they’re in the fridge.
    Bonus: I prefer to eat frozen peas or corn still frozen.

    1. RLC*

      Maraschino cherries, have loved those since childhood. Best part of the ice cream sundae for me; I put a dozen of them on a scoop of vanilla ice cream and call that a sundae.

      1. AGD*

        Me too! In childhood my neighborhood ice cream place would often put one maraschino cherry on top of an ice cream cone and it was my favorite part.

      2. Clisby*

        This opinion probably is unpopular only regionally: I was born and raised in the US South, and still live in SC. I detest grits. I detest oatmeal even more, if that’s possible.

        Anytime I comment about grits to a Southern audience, I inevitably get replies like, “Oh, if you just had my grits you’d change your mind!”

        No. I won’t.

        (My husband often gets a similar comment when he says he can’t stand liver. I don’t get not liking liver, but I do believe him.)

        1. ThatGirl*

          I don’t do organ meats so I get not liking liver. It’s the smell, texture, etc. You may love it, but you understand hating grits so surely you can understand that…

        2. JaneDough(not)*

          Clisby, I hated oatmeal too until I discovered, at 58, steel-cut oats. I make em with 3 parts water (not 4) on a very low heat for about 10 min., then cut the heat and let them continue cooking, covered, for at least 20 min.

          After they’re cooked, I mix em with pb, kale, garlic, and red-pepper flakes — fantastic lunch or breakfast. A little gummier than, say, rice but reasonably un-gummy — and really tasty.

          I make 4-6 servings at a time and refrigerate the remainder. Please consider steel-cut, a completely different entity.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The best breakfast is sweet, not savoury. It’s not like I have biscuits, pastries or cakes every day – my go-to is yogurt and cereal. But having eggs, bacon or toast first thing in the morning doesn’t make sense to me. Lunch is the earliest I’d consider eating that.

      (Cookies for breakfast are a legit, everyday thing for people of all ages in my home country! I’ll go as far as saying most of the biscuits in any given supermarket are created and marketed with breakfast in mind. Here in the UK, people have told me I’m crazy when I’ve tried to explain that.)

      1. peanut butter*

        concur about breakfast. one of the best breakfasts I’ve had was super strong and bitter espresso with a butter tart or pecan pie slice.

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          That sounds like heaven to me. Strong espresso is my daily morning drink, and it goes so well with homemade cookies or cake on the weeks when I bake.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          Pie For Breakfast Day (observed the day after Thanksgiving) is rigorously enforced in my household!

    3. Jackalope*

      American desserts often have way too much sugar for me; I’m thinking especially of pastries with that sugar glaze (basically sugar, water, and maybe cornstarch), or donuts. I liked them when I was younger and then I had a palate switch and now I just can’t.

      Also, my most mocked preference (by the world in general, not my actual friends) is that I enjoy pineapple on pizza. I’ve never understood why this engenders so much contempt and annoyance in people who don’t like it, and seem to take it personally. I mean, if you don’t like pineapple on pizza then… eat a different kind of pizza? Why are so many people getting bent out of shape over the fact that pineapple pizza exists??

      1. oof*

        Same, with the pineapple on pizza love. I had a pizza in Paris once that had a drizzle of honey on the bottom, over the tomato sauce layer. That was great too!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          We just started a pie with soppressata salami, burrata cheese, and hot honey drizzled on it–huge hit!

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I get that completely about desserts. I’m maybe the only person I know of who doesn’t enjoy donuts!

        I feel the same about cupcakes (they look pretty but the frosting is way too much), or cakes covered in buttercream frosting or sugar icing.

      3. Slartibartfast*

        I can’t do pineapple but I LOVE anchovies on pizza. It’s like bacon, adds a salty umami flavor. Most places around here don’t even offer them anymore

        1. Seashell*

          I was at a pizza place not too long ago and looking at the topping options. I asked my husband, “Who eats anchovies any more?” I guess the answer was you. :-)

      4. The Other Dawn*

        I love pineapple on pizza. Hawaiian pizza is delicious, but it must without sauce. Some places add tomato sauce and I don’t like it that way. A local pizza place we just discovered makes a delicious BBQ chicken pizza with chicken, BBQ sauce, mozzarella, cheddar, red onions, and pineapple. No tomato sauce.

        Another pizza I love is also a white pizza: mozzarella, goat cheese, prosciutto, toasted walnuts, and the whole thing is drizzled with local honey.

      5. Goldfeesh*

        I work at a pizza place and recently tried a hamburger and pineapple pizza. It was so much better than pineapple/Canadian bacon. I was honestly shocked how good it was. I’ve also tried sauerkraut on pizza since we have regulars who order Canadian bacon sauerkraut, and it isn’t bad either. The best pizza that I expected to be horrible was ranch base instead of tomato sauce, cheddar and mozz cheese, boneless chicken tossed in BBQ sauce. A buffalo chicken pizza pocket is beyond amazing.

        Taco pizzas are great as well but a pain to heat up leftovers what with the lettuce and tomato.

      6. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        My mom loves pastries but hates the glazes so many bakeries put on them. She once asked at one grocery store why they didn’t make cinnamon rolls without the heavy sugar glaze and was told they did, but they always sold out early. She then asked why they didn’t make more of the unglazed rolls, since they were obviously popular, and was told corporate dictated how many of each roll to make.

    4. Jay*

      I may or may not have been known to very occasionally (okay, regularly and consistently since early childhood, but who’s counting) eat raw frozen ravioli strait from the bag, like little ice-cream treats.
      Also, I’ve been known to replace snack foods like chips and popcorn with breakfast cereals. Honey Bunches Of Oats is a better popcorn than popcorn will ever be, Corn and Honey Pops are even better, and I can’t even keep Cracklin’ Oat Bran in the house anymore.

      1. sswj*

        Oddly, a big glass full of plain ol’ Cheerios is one of my favorite snack when I’m reading. Holdover from childhood, I think! (I’m 62 :p )

      2. No Name*

        Yes to sweet cereals as a snack. I don’t let myself buy my faves anymore — I could wolf down a 10-oz box in 2 days and would feel sick from all the sugar (but couldn’t stop myself from eating it…).

    5. Time for a change?*

      At one time or another over the last 60 years.
      Yes to American cheese for grilled cheese sandwich and snacking.
      Yes to Maraschino cherries straight from the jar. My grandmother always had some in the refrigerator.
      I eat trix cereal as a snack. My daughter eats cinnamon toast crunch cereal.
      My kids would get mixed vegetables while still frozen. They didn’t like lima beans but would eat the bean from the inside of green beans.
      Love Kraft pimento cheese. Wish they would bring it back.
      Marshmallow fluff straight from the jar.
      Warm baloney sandwiches (school lunches).
      Raw hot dogs. Ketchup on cooked hot dogs. Mustard requires onions.
      Lettuce sandwich. Lettuce, Miracle whip with enough pepper to make it mostly black on white bread.
      I’ve cream should not have things I have to chew in them.
      My husband drinks come and ginger ale together.
      I like stove top stuffing.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I looove Stove Top stuffing. It was the only kind of stuffing my mother ever made and I just love it. I make my own very delicious stuffing now for Thanksgiving and it’s great – and sometimes I just want Stove Top.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        I just bought a jar of Kraft Pimento Cheese spread. Did they change it or is it not available where you are?

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Yeah, there’s something about both the texture and appearance of olives that’s incredibly unappealing.

        1. Pippa K*

          I hated olives too. And then I was at a friend’s house, his mother had put up big jars of olives from their trees, and there was no way to avoid trying them when offered without being terribly rude. And they were amazing! Turns out what I hate is commercially canned olives in a tin, like the ones you get on cheap pizza. Better olives are great!

      2. Phryne*

        I love olives, but I’ve had a preference for sour and mildly bitter tastes over sweet ones since childhood.

          1. Phryne*

            Loathe most berries though. Not so much the taste, but the mouth feel of something that goes snap in your mouth and then wet. So strawberries are fine, though I don’t get particularly excited about them. Grapes I only do cut up, dried or fermented.

            And why do people eat squishy, tentacly, too many legged creepies from the sea? Just look at them, they were not meant for humans to consume.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              I am anti all seafood as well, have been since childhood. I don’t object to anyone else enjoying fruits de mer–ram an entire flounder into your face, I’m Team You–but the only way I’m eating fish/seafood is if I’m in a life raft and have already polished off any other survivors.

              1. No Name*

                goddess, if you ever have a chance to eat a real Maryland crab cake — big pieces of jumbo lump blue crab with minimal stuff to hold it together or season it — please try one. Sooooo good (and I reject a lot of seafood).

        1. acmx*

          I had no idea there was such as a thing as sweet olives.

          I agree with others, I like fried SPAM (use it for fried rice) and Stovetop Stuffing, I like instant Ramen (the Japanese brand, tho) and ranch on leftover pizza -with or without pineapple. I like Papa John’s pizza (I actually don’t like pizza that much). Not a big fan of ice cream.

          1. Phryne*

            Oh, I meant I prefer sour, umami and (mildly) bitter over sweet in general, not just olives. But like other people have said, good olives taste very different from bad ones, and though I normally love olives, I have occasionally had ones that were near inedible. Kalamata olives are my favorite, they are soft and brown and go really well in all sorts of dishes.

            1. acmx*

              ah! I like sour pickles and would think I’d like olives but not so far. But I don’t continue to try them either. Maybe one day, I’ll give it a shot. (Missed my chance years ago to have it in Greece)

        2. Group dancer*

          Oh man, olives are one of my favorite foods. My favorites are the large pale green ones that have a mild, buttery flavor, but I’ve never encountered an olive I don’t like, including the canned black olives or canned green olives with pimentos (although very good olives are much much better.) I’ve always wondered why so many people seem to hate them.

        3. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I bought some garlic stuffed ones for Christmas. I can only eat one or two before getting a salt headache, but oh, my, still worth it.

        1. Girasol*

          I’ll eat yours. Black, green, with or without pimento. But then, my favorite lunch of late is tinned sardines with veggies sticks, dip, and olives, so I do have strange tastes.

      3. Esprit de l'escalier*

        Years ago, as an olive-hater, I challenged myself to learn to enjoy olives, since my spouse loved them. I was also inspired by having heard my mother talk about learning to like olives when she lived in Beirut in the 1930s. Over time I did start to appreciate them.

        Ten years ago I was in southern France and about to travel to Brittany to be the houseguest of a couple whom I’d never met before, so I bought a jar of the local specialty olives in that town in the south of France. When I presented it to my host in Brittany she said (in French) that she didn’t care for olives. So much for national food stereotypes!

      4. Seashell*

        I don’t get olives either. Olive oil is great, and I love salty foods, but I want no part of an actual olive.

        I’ll eat pretty much any kind of cheese, so I’ll join you on the blue cheese. Lots of people seem to hate feta, but I like it a lot.

        1. fallingleavesofnovember*

          wow, I am used to feeling like a weirdo for hating olives, never expected to find so many! I’ve tried all sorts and just can’t…last time I tried my nose started twitching of its own accord! I even have to hold my breath walking by the open trays of olives and other mezze-ish things in the grocery store because I can’t do the smell.

          1. Lime green Pacer*

            I was astonished to go to one of those fancy olive oil stores with my husband and taste different olive oils. He is usually the picky one. He found an olive oil that he loved; to me, it was so bitter! (The others I tasted ranged from meh to bleh, but I had to get the taste out after the one he liked.) I’ll stick with canola, thanks.

      5. Alex*

        lol my Thing was going to be how much I love olives…but not the classy kind–the cheapo black ones in cans. I love them so much I can sit and eat a whole can.

    6. My Brain is Exploding*

      I like: Velveeta cheese for certain things, Stove top stuffing, fried Spam (although I haven’t had it for a long time).

      1. And thanks for the coffee*

        I’m with you. Sometimes I just want Velveeta and buy a brick of it. Grilled cheese made with it is really messy. Occasionally I’ll just chop off a piece and eat it.

        1. AGD*

          Whoa, this possibility had never occurred to me! Going to have to try it out for sure. And probably take photos!

    7. Queer Earthling*

      I love American cheese singles for grilled cheese, and I’ll also put half of one in an omelet along with a bit of cheddar. The texture and flavor are great!

      I love green olives, especially on pizza.

      I love Spam, although it has to be fried, not right out of the can. It’s really good in fried rice!

      I like instant ramen or ramen cups on occasion, but I drain out most of the broth unless I’m sick; I like eating more like a noodle dish than a soup. (I also add veggies, an egg, etc!)

    8. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      Tuc Sandwich biscuits are delicious in the most glorious artificial cheese tasty kind of way.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      I like my beef medium well. And I will take well done over rare, or even medium. A texture thing–I just can’t stand the texture of rare meat.

      Smoked brisket–which no one expects you to eat rare–is even better.

      1. Heather Crackers*

        I have a high horse about meat snobs. My MIL was immuno-compromised, and had no choice but to eat meat well done. We took her out to a fancy bistro for a milestone birthday, and a snooty waiter made her cry when she ordered a steak. I went full Karen on that place, before the term existed.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! I don’t need it turned into leather, but I do want my meat cooked and warm all the way through!

        1. Goldfeesh*

          I was forever traumatized by a Reader’s Digest story about a boy nearly dying from e. coli from an undercooked hamburger. I want my meat cooked to safety standards.

          1. Ali + Nino*

            I think I watched an episode of a TV show about that story (or a very similar story – I’m sure, unfortunately, there have been many) within the past two months. This week when my husband and I went out for dinner my burger came back medium and I convinced myself to send it back. But I was still freaked out that I had already gotten e coli! Thankfully no signs or symptoms…but I did enjoy the cooked-through burger SO much more!

    10. 248_Ballerinas*

      Another vote for Kraft American cheese. Great for homemade Egg McMuffins.

      I also like barbecue sauce as a condiment for French fries and pizza.

    11. GoryDetails*

      I have retained a fondness for Chef Boyardee beef ravioli since my childhood, when we kids would get that for dinner whenever our parents had Chinese food (er, American-style chow mein, also from a can – the only part of that that I liked was the crispy noodles) or fried chicken livers (which I never did develop a taste for unless the livers are in pate form). When I discovered *fresh* pasta I realized that the canned ravioli was simply not in the same food-category at all, but… it’s still a kind of comfort food for me. (SpaghettiOs, on the other hand, are abominable {wry grin}.)

    12. Turtle Dove*

      I prefer Kraft grated parmesan in the green container to real grated parmesan on pasta. I’ve tried to switch, but I’m done trying. Give me green cheese! (That’s what it’s called on our grocery list.)

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      I love, love, love Velveeta! Yes, I know it’s not cheese, technically it’s ‘cheese food.’ And don’t read the Nutrition Facts whatever you do! One’s arteries start to harden just by walking past the supermarket aisle it is kept in. And i love that they don’t even pretend it needs to be refrigerated. A true Frankenfood! But to me it tastes like the 70s, and is worth it for the one 2lb box I buy at Christmas each year as a treat. With inflation, that 2lb box is $14.99 this year – and yes, I know they make a smaller one…

    14. RussianInTexas*

      I can’t stand peanut butter. And most other nut butters too. The texture is goopy and gross.
      Breakfast should be savory, and it’s ok to eat just regular, not breakfast food in the morning. My favorite breakfast to eat is a plate of cheese, smoked fish, cold meat, fruit. In fact, this morning breakfast is going to be a Swiss cheese on rye bread.
      Pineapple belongs on pizza, especially when paired with jalapenos.
      American cuisine needs more meat, fish, or overall savory pies.
      American desserts and jams and jellies are way too sweet.
      Best queso is Velveeta + spicy Rotel, in a tiny crockpot.
      Cast iron skillets are overrated.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I have a cast iron skillet but very rarely use it–it’s so heavy, and I don’t really need utensils that need a more detailed care routine than my skin.

            1. Squidhead*

              The only special things I do with our cast iron are: dry it on the stove top so it’s really dry, and oil it occasionally. I wash it in hot soapy water and the heavens haven’t fallen yet!

            2. Catherine*

              I think that’s highly climate dependent–I had to give up on cast iron because I live somewhere super humid and could not prevent the pan from rusting between uses no matter how carefully I cleaned and dried it.

      1. Pippa K*

        Also here for the savoury breakfast! The full Turkish breakfast – cured meats, eggs, olives, breads, fresh veggies, dips, and more – is a beautiful thing.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Yay, another nut butter hater! I have never enjoyed them, at all.

        Almost all my real food hates come from childhood–nut butters, seafood, raw tomatoes. I’ve certainly grown into many cuisine enjoyments, but those are on my naughty list forevermore.

    15. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have a bunch of weird food quirks. The one people usually find weirdest is that I prefer my vegetables cooked to almost mushiness, I don’t like them to crunch at all, and raw is right out except for the green leafies. And I can’t eat veg on a sandwich or pizza or something, they have to be separate.

      But I also prefer American processed cheese food in most cases where I’m melting the cheese – singles for grilled cheese, velveeta for dips – and fried Spam is pretty darn tasty.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I like soft-cooked veggies too! I agree with Laurie Colwin–“I like a green bean that gives and does not fight back.”

        1. JaneDough(not)*

          I love Laurie Colwin’s work. in 1986, I was ecstatic to find (and buy) a pair of dark-green suede shoes, a la one of her characters (Misty, I think). RIP.

    16. The Prettiest Curse*

      I can’t eat pizza any more for allergy reasons, but back when I could eat it, I thought it was the most over-rated food of all time. Deep dish, thin crust, all of it. Put pineapples on all of it, I don’t care!

      1. Zweisatz*

        Yeah it’s so rare for me to find a pizza where the dough has enough taste and texture to be interesting at all.

    17. Double A*

      1. Olives are disgusting. Yes, all of them.

      2. Chopped jarred garlic is just fine and in fact sometimes preferable to having to mince garlic

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Stores (at least my area) sell frozen cubes of garlic, cilantro, ginger, and couple other things. They are AMAZING for stuff like soups and stews, and I don’t need to mince any garlic.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I love American cheese slices too, but it has to be the deluxe kind. The individually wrapped ones have gotten too oily in recent years. But I don’t have it often because it’s EXPENSIVE! (I also eat real cheese, lol.)

      I like a bowl of plain Cheerios without milk the way a toddler eats them. Like popcorn but cereal, lol. I used to also do this with Rice Krispies but haven’t for a while.

      I’m with Double A on chopped jarred garlic. You can be a snob about it if you want, but it’s way more convenient and less messy, plus it keeps in the fridge for quite a while. I also like to start spaghetti with jarred sauce — I look for brands with chunky tomatoes and no added sugar, then add garlic, herbs, and other veggies. I’ll make tomato soup full-on from scratch because the recipe I found is easy (and I use canned tomatoes unless I have some I’ve grown), but when I cook, I don’t usually like to spend way more time on it than it takes to eat the food.

      Soup recipe below in a link — it’s pretty darn good.

    19. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Hate olives. Absolutely cannot stand them – jarred, canned, gourmet, doesn’t matter, I hate them.

      Single malt scotch tastes like rubber cement to me. Ugh.

      I absolutely adore those wintergreen candies that are artificially pink and a little chewy and a little sandy – just adore them. Used to eat them by the handful.

    20. Rosie M. Banks*

      I don’t understand the concept of “breakfast foods.” Like, if I like spaghetti, why not eat it for breakfast? Or if pancakes are good, they can be a delicious dinner food. Why are different foods associated with different times of day?

      1. No Name*

        I think the concept of different foods for different meals was more of A Thing when lots of people performed physical labor and needed hearty food in the morning and afternoon. And by contrast, the wealthy or the aspiring classes could then reject such foods because their leisurely life had no such requirements — so there’s a lot of class prejudice baked in.

        Alice Munro brilliantly visits one aspect of this in the story “Half a Grapefruit” in the book of linked stories “The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose” (titled, in some countries, “Who Do You Think You Are?”). You can find it on the Open Library website — free, short-term loans.

    21. NeonFireworks*

      I can deal with carrot cake, but otherwise, vegetables + sweetness is a no go. Ketchup makes me shudder. Bread and butter pickles are almost as bad. No sweet dressings on salad either.

      Sweet and sour (or sweet and salty) is fine otherwise, but not if it’s obviously vegetable-y.

    22. Maggie*

      lol love this question, I read the whole thread and disagree with almost everyone haha! American cheese is good though, it’s made to be melted and it gets the job done. My unpopular opinion is that things are not automatically better word improved with expensive ingredients added without consideration for taste. Like when caviar, foie gras, or gold leaf is added at restaurants. If it makes the flavor good sure, but just slapping it on there to make it “luxe” does nothing for me. Oh and I’d rather eat McDonald’s than certain creative tasting menus. (Hides under table)

    23. Ellis Bell*

      I mix brown sauce with ketchup on a bacon sandwich. I prefer the sauce to come out of a sachet for Mac and cheese.

    24. Can't Sit Still*

      There is absolutely such a thing as too much chocolate. Also, I can barely tell the difference between Hershey’s and Belgian and Swiss chocolates or any other fancy chocolates.

      I received a chocolate tasting box as a gift and…I can’t tell the difference really. It’s Dandelion Chocolate’s 70% Three Bar set and apparently, I’m supposed to taste all these different tasting notes. But it just tastes like an overwhelming amount of sugar and chocolate to me. (Tiny piece, let it melt, etc.)

    25. The Cosmic Avenger*

      OK, I’ve probably got a lot, but the first that came to mind are:

      – I like char. I mean, I REALLY like it. As a kid, when we went camping, I used to set fire to my marshmallow on a stick, let it burn itself out, pull off the burnt part, eat it, then toast the inside that was left on the stick!

      – Raw potato is actually better than cooked potato. It’s got the consistency of jicama, but more savory than sweet. Not a lot of flavor, but more than plain cooked potato! I feel like most cooked potatoes are plate filler. I’ll eat them occasionally, with lots of butter, sour cream, whatever, but they’re like plain white rice, only good as a vehicle for something.

    26. goddessoftransitory*

      Complete agreement on the singles! They are THE cheese for grilled cheese and cheeseburgers, and I don’t care if it’s lowbrow; they melt perfectly! Same for ketchup–for some reason it’s totally bougie lately to like regular ol’ Heinz 57 or whatever, but I don’t care. I like ketchup.

      I’m sure I will think of more and more opinions over the next few hours!

    27. Tinamedte*

      Frozen peas are delicious, totally agree.

      One habit of mine that tends to raise eyebrows is eating oatmeal (porridge? Not a native English speaker, but the gooey stuff you get when boiling oats and water, you know…) with a decent spoonful of butter. No sugar, cinnamon, banana, strawberry or raspberry jam, apple sauce, nuts, Nutella or what have you on my oatmeal, please. Gotta have butter!

      1. LA Girl*

        I also eat butter (and salt) on my oatmeal. My mom did it, and I’m so happy to see here that I’m not the only one.

        And for the record, I also hate olives. Also pickles. And I love pineapple on pizza, especially with sausage.

        As for American cheese: there are a couple of restaurants near us that makes their own artisanal American cheese for burgers, and it is heavenly.

    28. Seashell*

      I’m with you on American cheese in grilled cheese. It melts the best. I will occasionally have it in a cold sandwich with just deli mustard too. I used to snack on it sometimes, but I’ve moved on to cheddar cheese sticks.

      I like any kind of mustard but the yellow kind.

      I like to dip grilled cheese or fried fish in ketchup.

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

      IMO putting mayo on an Italian Hoagie is blasphemy. A dash of Olive oil on the bread with a nice squirt of Red Wine Vinegar.

      Also, never put cheese on a Jewish Style Hoagie. Double blasphemy.

    30. MEH Squared*

      I don’t like bacon. It’s too crisp and salty, and nearly always tastes burned to me. If I’m going to have bacon, I want the thick, moist slabs that are tender when cooked.

      In the same vein, I don’t like pepperoni for the same reasons (too crisp and too salty). When I was able to eat pizza, I much preferred sausage to pepperoni.

      1. Seashell*

        I was mostly vegetarian for a while a long time ago, and bacon and pepperoni were the only meats I ever craved.

    31. Ali + Nino*

      Green peppers are horrible and ruin everything they touch.

      The only food I ever want mayonnaise in/near is babaganoush.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I’m a mayo on fries person (especially Swee potato fries) but it has to be actual mayo, miracle whip is way too sweet and totally unappetizing to me! But my Mum prefers it!

    32. JaneDough(not)*

      I can’t stand yellow mustard, anything sweet-and-sour, and anything lse with a strong white-vinegar flavor.

      I like tart foods — chevre, feta, lemon juice on many things — but that white-vinegar sourness bothers me. Except when I clean my counters with it or add it to my laundry!

    33. HannahS*

      Buttered toast and blistering hot tea, eaten alone and in silence, is the perfect meal. (Speaks the mother of a toddler.)

      In quirkier opinions, I hate bell peppers and always have. They have such a strong flavour Everything they touch tastes like bell peppers.

    34. Might Be Spam*

      I like liver sausage with sweet pickle relish on soft white bread. Sometimes I eat liver sausage right out of the package with a spoon.

      I also like green and black olives. When I was a kid, we used to wear them on our fingertips.

      I haven’t done it lately, but I used to separately mix yellow mustard or ketchup with mashed potatoes and make designs on my plate before eating my mashed potatoes. I can only do it when I’m alone, because my family is loudly offended.

      1. Anima*

        Ohhh I love liver sausage! It has to live in a special Tupper because husband haaaates even the smell of it, but it’s great to me! :)
        Absolutely hate raisins. It’s the one food where taste AND texture are wrong and they actually make me gag. Olives I don’t like either (and I see mist of you don’t, too), but I’ll eat them when they are cut up and in something, like in olive bread. Raisins, no no no, when ai get a piece of them in my mouth meal is over.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I have a friend who doesn’t like chocolate! I like chocolate (prefer dark though) but am not usually a fan of chocolate flavoured things like chocolate ice cream or cake…to me they just often don’t have the richness that I want from real chocolate.

    35. beep beep*

      Leftover dinner for breakfast is one of my favorite things. I hate cooking first thing in the morning, especially on workdays, so if dinner was good, why not toss another portion in the microwave and have that?

  24. WoodswomanWrites, need advice on soft food after oral surgery*

    I’m having a bone graft where an upper molar tooth used to be, and then an implant in a few months once my own bone has rebuilt itself. My dentist and a few others who’ve been through the procedure told me I can only eat soft foods for up to two weeks.

    I live alone and already don’t enjoy cooking, which I anticipate will be even more the case as I’m recovering. I’m looking to stock up on things before then, and I welcome any suggestions for fruity smoothies (I don’t like savory ones) and anything that’s vegetarian/seafood beyond what I’m planning so far–cottage cheese, oatmeal, applesauce, and salmon filets that I’ve got in the freezer.

    I’m doing the procedure this Friday to have a few days over the holiday weekend to recover. Happy new year, let’s celebrate with oral surgery!

    1. WoodswomanWrites, need advice on soft food after oral surgery*

      And eggs. Plus I can add some protein powder to things to make them more filling and nutritious.

      1. Bea*

        I recommend cream of wheat to go along with the oatmeal. Do you like rice? Macaroni and cheese? I’ve been eating rice Ramen that is soft. Jello. Yogurt. Pudding. Potato soup. Those are the main foods I’ve eaten after dental surgery.

        Good luck

      2. Pippa K*

        You could make French toast or bread pudding out of soft white bread with the crusts cut off. That would get you some eggs and probably wouldn’t be hurt by adding protein powder too. And could be eaten cold or warm, whichever feels better.

        Good luck with the surgery!

      3. JJ*

        You can add powdered dairy milk to mashed potatoes and yogurt to boost the protein content. Betty Crocker’s Yukon Gold instant potatoes are decent for just-add-water, but if you aren’t strapped for cash, then stock up on organic, nothing-added already-made mashed potatoes, which yu can freeze. (I live alone and had to figure out food for several months of chemo.)

        Roast several sweet potatoes, mash the contents when cool, and freeze them in reusable containers. (I prefer them savory — vegan butter + garlic.)

        I dislike mayo, so I make tuna salad and salmon salad with cream cheese.

        Orzo with red sauce? Scrambled tofu with a little black salt ( = tastes eggy)? Scrambled tofu added to red sauce and orzo? TVP added to red sauce and orzo?

        Orzo with little bits of albacore tuna (milder) and lots of lemon + garlic powder (or minced, jarred garlic) + some evoo or butter or vegan butter? (Also, you can buy packets of powdered lemon [Tru Lemon — not the lemonade beverages but pwdered lemon juice]; real cooks laff at me, but I’m too broke to buy lemons. Another good option is bottled organic lemon juice — not too expensive, it lasts for a few weeks, and you can freeze half the contents if you know you won’t use it quickly.)

      4. JJ*

        What about ravioli and pierogi? And, I sometimes add parcooked brown rice (Minute Rice) to packaged soups, to make them more filling. (Just be sure to cook the rice thoroughly in the soup, or before.)

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I got through on Premier Protein shakes after my implant surgery and my husband ate a lot of mashed potatoes and butternut squash soup after his last round of dental surgery.

    3. Phryne*

      Do you like soups? If you puree them it’s essentially warm smoothie and you can get a pretty complete meal, nutrition wise, into one, plus lots of hydration. And they tend to be easy to make.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        A funny: right after my husband had dental surgery I had made a sort of chickpea chili. He decided to puree a bowl of it.

        Him: “Hey… this tastes kind of like hummus!”
        Me: “… Well, dear …”

      2. Clisby*

        When my daughter had all 4 wisdom teeth out, I regularly made her pureed bean soup. I just did it the easy way – drain a couple of cans of black beans or kidney beans, simmer them for awhile in chicken broth, blend in the blender, eat.

    4. Christmas Carol*

      I had the same procedure, plus an extraction, the Monday of Thanksgiving week. My menu was mashed potatoes w/turkey gravy, jelly style cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie with the crust picked off.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Smooth soups. My local grocery store and farm stand have a nice variety; when I had mouth blisters (in summer) cold fruit soups were good, e.g. put yogurt and some fruit or cucumber in a blender.

      Processed foods: A few years back someone actually tested processed foods vs homemade in a controlled study, to try and tease out whether there was anything to the idea that processed is bad. (Like, when I salt and cook meat or pickle red onions, I am processing that food.) And they figured out two elements: The processed foods are very soft, so it’s easy to eat them, and eat more of them. And they are very calorie dense. So when my mom had dental surgery, we applied this and got Bob Evans mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and similar.

      1. JJ*

        With respect, processed foods — foods that have been changed by chopping or cooking — aren’t considered a problem. Highly processed foods and ultra-processed foods *are* a huge problem for humans. They contain myriad lab-synthesized chemicals that our bodies are not designed to metabolize. You wouldn’t put sugar in your gas tank, for ex., and expect your car to perform normally.

        The list of ingredients in Bob Evans stuff is scary. I thought about buying its mashed potatoes when ill but decided against it even tho my store’s no-additives mashed potatoes cost a lot more. (I can’t afford to be a purist, but I wish I could — my cancer didn’t come from nowhere.) As the saying goes, eat plants, not food made in plants (factories).

        Please don’t spread misinfo ( = “Is processed food bad?” was never the real concern). Thanks.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I had the same procedure done in the spring. It was no more painful than getting a filling for me, and I was eating normally within a few days (although getting used to the hole was weird). I stocked up on soup (mainly from Trader Joe’s but also got packaged Panera soup from Target), yogurt, macaroni and cheese, canned green beans (I really needed a vegetable and canned are usually pretty soft), pierogi (cooked from frozen) and mashed potatoes. After a few I days I was able to eat regular food, I just took small bites and chewed on the opposite side. One tip for care after it’s healed – consider getting a water flosser (I got a portable one). It helped to keep the area free of debris, especially once I had the the implant post in but not the implant itself yet. Best of luck with your recovery!

    7. Slartibartfast*

      Hubs lived on mashed potatoes and gravy. A butter sauce or something like that would work in place of gravy

    8. Chauncy Gardener*

      Second all of the great ideas above and adding meatballs and sauce. I did find that I was hardly sore at all after the graft and that I could chew on the other side, but please make sure that works for you! I love my implant btw. So worth it
      Good luck!

    9. RagingADHD*

      If you have never had grits with butter and cheese, they are delicious at breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are essentially a finer ground polenta, cooked to a porridge consistency. The key to having them taste good and not like library paste is to salt the water *before* putting them in.

    10. peanut butter*

      a reminder that coconut cream in the fruit smoothie will make it way more filling.
      and good luck with the process.

    11. Heather Crackers*

      I had this done years ago. I’d suggest avoiding anything stringy, because it’s a real beeyotch to fish it out of the socket. So no soups with celery, for example, and no meat that shreds into splinters (though those are mostly red meats, like brisket or pot roast).

    12. MissB*

      It has been just over a week since I’ve had my bone grafts for implant prep. 10 days, actually. Last night was the first meal where eating wasn’t uncomfy or awkward.

      Protein fruit smoothies and Gatorade got me thru the first two days, then I added cottage cheese and applesauce. I made myself a pot of tomato basil soup before I remembered that tomato based products were a bad idea (too acidic). Scrambled eggs in butter were a good choice too. That went down the drain. I did have some salmon filets but it wasn’t that great to be honest. I also had some over steamed broccoli that might, cut into small enough pieces that I could basically swallow them. Wasn’t a fan of the salmon, though it’s usually yummy. Might be just because I wasn’t going to chew it.

      I survived on protein fruit smoothies. Protein powder, almond milk, frozen berries.

      I was not prepared for the bruising. I did have a molar extraction at the same time. They did say that the swelling would peak at day 3, and take several weeks to go down. It’s been a good excuse to stay off camera during meetings.

      And oh dear gawd, stay away from spicy food. I made the mistake of ordering an enchilada for lunch on Wednesday (Dh and I went out for lunch). Spicy food really hurts healing areas, even if the food doesn’t directly touch it. The spice still makes its way around your mouth. Ow. Just ow.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I appreciate hearing about your healing experience and the tip about avoiding anything spicy.

    13. Jay*

      Baked squash.
      If you do it right (and it’s very, very easy to do so) it will have the consistency of a good cheesecake and tastes way better than squash puree or boiled squash.
      -Cut your squash in half.
      -Scoop out the guts.
      -Brush heavily with good olive oil.
      -Salt and pepper to taste.
      -Put it in your pan and cover with aluminum foil.
      -Bake at 350 for between an 45 min and an hour and a half, depending on the size of your squash.
      -Uncover and bake for 15-30 more minutes to get a nice color and dry any standing liquid out.
      -Let sit for about 10 minutes.

    14. Girasol*

      Can you do dairy? You can use a stick blender to make a filling, high protein of two parts milk, one part cottage cheese, flavored any way you like. My favorites are frozen orange juice and vanilla (creamsicle flavor) and cocoa with peanut butter (peanut butter cup flavor.)

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        I eat some dairy but typically use soy milk instead of cow’s milk, which works fine. I like the orange juice suggestion.

        1. JJ*

          I drank a lot of Bolthouse Farms Protein Plus shakes — fewer lab chemicals than Ensure et al., and less sugar — but I diluted them with at least equal quantities of soy or dairy milk (and sometimes 1/3 shake + 2/3 milk) bc they were just too sweet for me. I preferred the chocolate ones.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      When I was eating only soft food for a week for dental reasons, I had soft tofu with black bean sauce and rice, delivered from a local Chinese restaurant. Empire Szechuan’s tofu with black bean sauce was just tofu and sauce, without vegetables, so easy to eat right after dental work. I also ate a lot of yogurt.

      Guacamole and hummus are usually available in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, if you like either, and you don’t have to put them on chips, you can just eat them with a fork. So can babaghanoush.

    16. No Name*

      Storebought spinach quiche, if you cut very small bites so you don’t have to chew, and maybe skip the crust?

    17. Imtheone*

      I had this, too. I googled it, and got suggestions from a food editor. It also sounds like only one side of your mouth will be affected. While you don’t want anything to hurt the side that’s healing, it is easier if one side is in a normal state.

      Some surprise ideas were frozen pancakes, warmed up. Let the butter and syrup soak in. Also soft chocolate cake with frosting.

      Other ideas: yogurt, ice cream, pudding and custard. Egg dishes like scrambled eggs. I found ground meat to be too chunky.

      They might suggest a salt water rinse, which can help if a food particle gets stuck.

    18. Blomma*

      When I went through the same surgery (several times, unfortunately), mashed potatoes were my favorite. Someone else was cooking for me so I’m not exactly sure what was in this, but I had some kind of pumpkin pie filling plus cinnamon and whip cream that was very good. Soups that didn’t involve too much chewing (my surgeries were all in the front so I could kind of chew in the back) and risotto were good too. It was quite a while before I could eat anything remotely crunchy. One thing I struggled with was how much the surrounding teeth hurt too. Plus, the worst of the pain lasted about a day longer than they gave me Rx painkillers for, which was rough. Good luck!

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

      Good luck with your procedure! I’m trying to remember some of the smoothies from the Dr. Fuhrman nutritarian plan. I think there was one that was like half a banana, some cocoa powder, a dash of vanilla, a dollop of peanut butter or sunflower-seed butter or cashew butter, a handful of frozen greens like collards or spinach or something, and some oat milk/soy milk/cashew milk (or in my version, milk milk or a bit of yogurt). It looked weird and green, but if you got enough banana, cocoa, and peanut butter or sunflower seed butter in there, it tasted kind of like a frosty Reeses Peanut Butter Cup.

    20. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for so many helpful suggestions. They make me feel more confident going into this procedure.

  25. Bea*

    I recommend cream of wheat to go along with the oatmeal. Do you like rice? Macaroni and cheese? I’ve been eating rice Ramen that is soft. Jello. Yogurt. Pudding. Potato soup. Those are the main foods I’ve eaten after dental surgery.

    Good luck!

  26. Morning Reading*

    Air travel question: I’m flying to Hawaii to visit family in a couple of months and I want to bring my mother’s silver flatware set to my daughter there. I’m considering whether to take it in my large checked bag or in carry-on. There are butter knives and some serving pieces but no sharp knives. I’d rather keep the whole thing with me but I don’t know if it would be allowed.
    Can any of you experienced air travelers advise me? (Figure I could ask the airline but I don’t have the patience to spend an hour on the phone shouting “agent” at their menu.)
    From US to US so customs is not an issue, although there is some additional inspection for agricultural products, I think.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would check it, 100%. First, knives, even dull ones, I wouldn’t risk trying to get through security. Second, that sounds heavy, and do you really want to carry it around in an airport?

      If losing them is a concern, maybe consider shipping them with a hefty amount of insurance. But I will say that even with all the horror stories around, I haven’t had a lost piece of luggage in a very long time. You can put an AirTag in the bag or something (I’m not super familiar but friends have suggested it).

    2. sswj*

      I think I’d pay the cost of shipping them, and some form of Expedited at that. Personally I think that express-type packages have a better chance of reaching the destination than the base shipping options. I’m not sure if that’s true, really, but to me there are fewer of those and ostensibly better tracking.

      1. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

        I have to agree with shipping them rather than taking them with you, but if you still choose to take them, I think your only option is to check them due to the knives. Weight the options (pun intended) of how much extra it would cost to check them vs. shipping them.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      You don’t want to be arguing with the TSA about the sharpness of the knives. (For whom to ask, you want the TSA and not the airline, as the former will be X-raying the carry-ons.)

      I would put them in a checked bag.

    4. Morning Reading*

      Thanks all! I will look into shipping and definitely not attempt to carry this on. It’s heavy but well under the 50 lb checked limit.

    5. Generic Name*

      I would ship them fedex and insure the package. Knives, even ones you estimate to be dull, will be confiscated. The weight is enough that you’ll likely be assesses extra fees for checked baggage, and your bag may be lost or they may be stolen en route.

    6. Indolent Libertine*

      As someone who travels with supposedly no-problem musical instruments, I have to tell you that even if the airline’s or TSA’s stated policy permits such items as carry-ons, any agent of either can and will say an arbitrary “nope” at any time and they don’t have to give you a reason, so you run the risk of either having to just abandon it in the airport, or buy a bag in the airport, go back to the departure lobby and check it, whatever that costs you in time and money, and then try to get back through security so you don’t miss your flight. Either plan to check it, or ship it overnight with a signature required for delivery.

    7. Nitpicker*

      I agree you should ship and insure. You can’t carry the knives on board, You say silver so if this is sterling it is valuable and I would never check anything valuable.

    8. Morning Reading*

      Agreed again that I would never want to argue with TSA. However I am, in passing, amused at the unlikely image of little old me committing violence on a plane armed only with a butter knife from my mother’s wedding silver. Such is the world we live in that it is reasonable to guard against even this.

      Thanks again for the experienced advice!

      1. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

        The TSA is mostly security theatre, but if they’re going to stop people from carrying silverware onto a plane, it makes sense to stop everyone. The moment it becomes known that they’ve decided some people “doesn’t look like terrorists,” whoever they’re trying to guard against is going to take advantage of it.

      2. acmx*

        Clarification: You can bring utensils on board. Plastic or butter knives are allowed but it is up to the security officer (as Indolent Libertine mentioned).

  27. Anonyboobs*

    On a recent post about visible bra lines someone recommended the “A Bra That Fits” calculator. I ran my measurements though on a whim, got unexpected results, and despite some scepticism ordered the suggested size. Much to my surprise it fit! So apparently I’ve been wearing a bra 3 cup sizes too small for the past decade+.

    So thank you for posting the info! I now have some shopping to do, and as a bonus there is sooo much more choice available for my new bra size so I have lots to pick from.

    1. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      Oh I missed that the first time, but thanks for posting the site. I’m due for some new bras and I need to make sure they fit well.

      1. Anonyboobs*

        It was definitely an eye-opening website. I thought I knew my bra size, but apparently I was very wrong. :) They do acknowledge that due to variance in bra makes, and shape/density/positioning of breast tissue it may not be a perfect calculator for everyone, but it’s certainly a lot better than the standard way of measuring.

    2. Lily*

      A bra that fits is the truth, plain and simple. My boobs are a lot less sore now that I wear the right bra size. The main problem is finding a bra in this size. Have fun shopping, though! It’s always nice to be able to branch out of the standard black, white, nude.

      1. Anonyboobs*

        I don’t get that “aaah” of relief when taking off my bra anymore, because they feel less squished throughout the day. Which, in hindsight, should perhaps have clued me in that something wasn’t quite right with the size, but I just thought that was how bras were meant to feel!

        1. Lily*

          Ha! I was the opposite, with a very large band that supported nothing and flapped close to my shoulders… Imagine my surprise when I finally discovered that discomfort doesn’t mean support!

        2. Filosofickle*

          And this is why anytime a LW asks about not wearing bras in the office because they are painful, a (well-intentioned but not answering the question) chorus of “do you have the right size?” pops up.

          There are people who, typically due to sensory issues, genuinely can’t wear them and an argument can be made we shouldn’t have to, but it’s also true that lot of what we’ve accepted as ‘how bras feel’ is wrong.

          1. Anonyboobs*

            I generally find this kind of topic incredibly awkward (hence the anon name for this thread), so have never really had a “so how does yours feel?” conversation with my bra wearing friends. There are so many people that report bras as uncomfortable that I just took it as a given that some discomfort was normal. I’m very grateful for communities like this one that freely shares knowledge.

            Everyone is different, but for me, personally, I’d generally take an ill-fitting bra over being bra-less. I tend to find even soft cotton T-shirts lead to chaffing over the course of a day which I find significantly more painful.

            1. No Name*

              I bought an inexpensive Hanes sports-type bra — basically not unlike the top part of a tank top. It doesn’t shape me well, but it also doesn’t chafe or bind. Maybe something like that could work? (This is a very inexpensive one — $10 or so at Target.)

    3. Heather Crackers*

      That site is amazing. I was wearing a 34D and it turns out I belong in a 30G. I was needlessly uncomfortable for years.

      Please note that larger cup sizes differ by brand nationality. E and F are used more in Europe, while the US favors DD and DDD. So make sure you know the origin of your bra when shopping online.

      1. Anonyboobs*

        That’s good information to know about the cup difference depending on nationality, thank you! It’s not something I currently need to worry about, but these things can change.

        I somehow managed to pick the right band size, but have changed from a 34A to 34D. I think I bought in to the media portrayal that D=big bust and so didn’t question it when I first looked at size charts which told me I was an A/AA. I didn’t think to re-measure and re-evaluate until I used the ABTF calculator, which in some ways is just as well as the traditional measurement guides would put me in a 38A/AA, which would just be laughably wrong!

        1. Heather Crackers*

          I felt exactly the same when I first re-measured; cup to band ratio is so deceptive. My figure is totally average and unremarkable, but media would have me believe that someone of my size looks like a cartoon character.

  28. Stiff as a Board*

    I need to work on flexibility! I never stretch and am probably one of the least flexible people ever. I had a recent injury and now I want to take flexibility seriously to prevent more and help as I age. Anyone know of any YouTube videos or other sources for a daily stretching routine that isn’t too complicated or advanced? I’d love something that covers major muscle groups and can be done in a reasonable amount of time every day. Would it be better to do it in the morning or at night? Any other suggestions for improving flexibility are appreciated. Thanks!!

    1. Lily*

      I’m not an expert but I take adult ballet classes, so stretching is very important to me. There are plenty of beginner stretches on youtube (just type in ”full body stretch …min”), but my absolute general (not necessarily beginner, also not advanced) is the Mady Morrison daily 15 min stretch. She doesn’t talk, but there’s a short demonstration before each stretch, then you hold for 30 seconds – there is a timer, so you can do another stretch, or hold on longer to a stretch that feels good, but you know how long you held to it. It covers both upper and lower body. I love all of her stretches, honestly – if you have the time, the 30 min is amazing.

      I also like the stretches from blogilates (she talks, though) and madfit.

      Apart from that, it’s best to warm up before a stretch and if you don’t have the time, it’s better to stretch in the evening, because you’ve been moving around all day. You might tear something if you stretch with even a bit too much enthusiasm in the morning (guess how I know). Wear loose, comfortable and warm-ish clothing. And enjoy! I started doing stretches to get better at ballet, but honestly, it feels so good to stretch your muscles, I now do it even when I don’t take lessons.

      1. MMB*

        Dr. Jo, she’s an actual physical therapist with a YouTube channel – she also uploads videos and printable stretching diagrams to her website. She’s great and explains exactly where you should be feeling the stretch and how to adjust if your not feeling it. Honestly, I can’t recommend her enough. She has tutorial videos and real time stretching routines.

    2. E*

      There’s a funny simple book called Even the Stiffest People Can Do the Splits that you may wanna check out. Tbh it’s not really enough content for a whole book but it does lay out a good progressive routine for stretching

    3. My Brain is Exploding*

      I always recommend Katy Bowman/Nutritious Movement. She is about movement in general, but also has some great stretching recommendations. I can’t remember which of her books offers the most wrt stretches but it might be Dynamic Aging. She sees things like chairs (and shoes, and tight clothes) as containers that hold and mold our bodies and eventually prevent us from attaining our optimal range of movement.

    4. Nervous Nellie*

      If you can get it, the exercise shows by Miranda Esmonde White are just this – about balance, flexibility and connective tissue. She has a huge following on PBS. Her videos are what keep me upright. She has books and DVDs – I love the Aging Backwards series. Her exercises are gentle, but keep at them and you’ll be boggled at how quickly you’ll feel more balanced, flexible and coordinated. For me, she turned the clock back about 30 years.

      1. CheerfulGinger*

        chiming in to second this recommendation. Both my parents and my in-laws started doing this program after getting the series as a “gift” for their totally independent PBS donations. Both report good progress and I swear I can see my FIL’s posture improving.

    5. Annie Edison*

      Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is great, and I really liked some of the routines in the book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I also enjoy Yoga with Adriene but this week came across a full-body stretch video (10″) by someone called Yoga with Bird. So you might want to check that out too!

    6. Bluebell*

      Sit Up Straight by Vinh Pham has some good exercises. He was a guest on NPRs life kit podcast- it’s about a 20 min listen- definitely a worthwhile listen, and he goes through 3 stretches in the podcast.

  29. The lifeboat*

    I wrote last week about dating after 35 and ending a seven year relationship. I just wanted to come in here and thank all those who left advice and thoughtful words for me to think on. I don’t have an update, other than I’m trying to convince my partner to try individual therapy (we did couples a couple years ago and found he really needed his own therapist to work out some things) so he’s been thinking about it. I’m also in my own therapy and will be bringing up what was discussed here. I hope to have a happy update one day! Thank you~

  30. Elizabeth West*

    Thanks to everyone who answered my question about bed risers! I went for the nice wood blocks and they really made a difference. My bed is a cheap-ass Big Lots thing with a platform frame in two parts that hook together, so it has extra legs in the middle. Two sets of blocks was not really enough, but I managed to make it work. I was scared it would wobble, and it did at first, but once the mattress was back on and I shoved all my junk underneath it again, it was solid as a rock, lol. I even got a file box that was hanging out in my living room under there. \0/

    I also moved the bed out of the corner to the other wall to unblock the baseboard heater and make it easier to make the bed — the whole room looks better. And it’s soooo much easier to get in and out. I wish I’d done this BEFORE my knee surgery!

    Now I just need to find a good bed skirt to hide the stuff that peeks out, and something for the blank wall above the bed. Any suggestions for an alternative to headboards? I don’t want to spend a ton of money since I just blew my whole bonus on Christmas presents and paying off all my medical bills.

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Instead of a headboard – if you just want a decoration and not like, something structural, a nice wall hanging or curtain, or maybe a big decal on the wall if that’s an option?

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I thought about a shelf headboard since I have so little storage, but that would just push the bed out further into the (tiny) bedroom. I also wasn’t sure any headboard would fasten to this dumb bed frame.

        A curtain could work. I could get a sheer one and use command hooks and hang little fairy lights behind it. Hmm.

        1. MJ*

          In a rental I once hung a beautiful silk scarf using office clips hung over push pins – minimal damage to both the wall and the fabric.

        2. Sleepy*

          What about an over the bed shelf unit that sits around your bed? Then you could have your bed against the wall, but have some storage space above it.

          Or get one or two wall shelves and hang them directly above your bed?

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m afraid to hang anything over where my head goes!
            An over the bed shelf thing sounds cool. From what I can see online, it looks like those are mostly for twin/dorm beds. I wish I’d had that for my college dorm room.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      I made my own headboard for my king-sized bed about a decade ago. I bought a wood-framed screen door for about $50 that I covered with batting and then a neutral fabric that I staple-gunned in place. I leaned it sideways against the wall and draped a pretty fabric over it. The weight of the bed keeps it all in place. I’m very happy with it. Bonus: I can take off the fabric and wash it.

      I recall another inexpensive idea I liked: place a dowel across the wall at the head of the bed and drape a quilt or other nice fabric over it. Command hooks might work to hold up the dowel.

      Thanks for posting about bed risers. After reading your original post, I decided to buy some. The storage bins I keep under the bed will be a lot easier to move in and out if I can get a little more height.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh, this sounds neat!

        I could do that. I could hang a quilt on the wall. Or some kind of cool fabric.

    3. lammmmmm*

      We got a large slab of butchers block from Lowe’s or Home Depot for a headboard. I don’t recall the cost but it was significantly less than the headboards we were looking at, looks fancy and only pushes the bed out maybe an extra inch or two.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        You know what I wish I had? All the black light posters that were on my walls as a teenager. I had like twelve of them! Alas, they are gone. Wouldn’t that be cool and funky, though?

    4. Maryn*

      Before you invest in a bedskirt, consider visiting a fabric store. We couldn’t find a bedskirt we liked and I bought enough fabric 45 inches wide to go around one side of the bed and half-way across the foot, plus a few extra inches. I literally tore it in half lengthwise, sewed one seam that I positioned at the center of the foot, and tucked the torn edge between the mattress and box springs so the finished selvage edge brushed the floor. There was a little extra, so I made a pleat that hid the seam.

      Stripping off the bottom sheet could pull it out, but it was easy to avoid doing that. (And easy to restore if I did.)

      There are some beautiful wall hangings online that would be lovely at the head of your bed, and they’re not even expensive. https://www.amazon.com/s?k=scenic+wall+hanging&crid=3TQRCIA11B1KI&sprefix=scenic+wall+han%2Caps%2C136&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_2_15

  31. RussianInTexas*

    Just want to share: couple days ago I saw a reel on IG from a “chef” who bragged he invented a whole new food thing.
    Behold: Salmon Wellington Pop-tart.
    People of AAM, he invented a fish pie.
    It was basically a simplified kulebyaka.

    1. Generic Name*

      This reminds me of the white women who claim to have invented a “hand pie” when they’ve just made empanadas.

      1. fposte*

        It’s not even just making empanadas—pretty much every corner of the world has a portable savory in a crust.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Empanadas have their origins in Spain and Portugal, and various Central and South American countries have their own varieties. UK has Cornish Pasty. India has samosas. Russia has pirozhki, belyashi, and chebureki (which is Tatar in origin). Turkey has burek. Jamaica has meat patties. Italy has calzones. China has Xian Bing.
          The list is endless!

        1. RussianInTexas*

          Due to nostalgia, my favorite pirozhki are with cabbage or hard-boiled eggs and green onions. Cheap but tasty.
          And of course belyashi or chebureki as street food during winter. It’s cold, the pies are hot and greasy, a deep fried perfection.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        Mostly it made me laugh, and now I call a chicken pot pie a “two sided chicken Wellington Pop-tart”.

  32. Sled dog mama*

    At some point this fall my husband caught me in an agreeable mood and I agreed to host Christmas dinner for his family. Well here we are today and I’m seriously regretting agreeing. Meals with his family are never pleasant due to judgement from all quarters and having the only food allergy in the family is not often remembered (see thanksgiving dinner where I ate mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese because everything else contained mushrooms and the turkey had mushrooms gravy poured over it). Right now I feel like the only upside is that because we’re hosting I decided to do all the cooking and there will not be a mushroom in sight today.
    I’m really missing my family who sit around telling silly stories at holiday dinners.
    Please cheer me up and tell me about your happy family holiday dinners or that time the family event you were dreading turned out ok.

    1. GoryDetails*

      My family has always tended to be pretty easy-going, so our gatherings are generally fun. (I did have an awkward time with my then-husband’s family, who were… not easy-going; not the reason the marriage didn’t last but not having to attend that family’s gatherings anymore was a bonus!)

      I do hope that your husband will step up to run interference if his family members start getting judgy. And enjoy your mushroom-free meal!

    2. chestnut mousse*

      One of the real advantages to me of hosting, is that when it all becomes too much, I retreat to the kitchen to tend to things. Sometimes those things are playing a game on my phone, out of sight. I find that grabbing a few minutes here and there help me release the tension somewhat. Otherwise, we don’t really host all that much, and I’ve given up on traditional christmas fare. My immediate family (spouse/kids) loved the traditional dinner, but were unwilling to help in all aspects, even cleaning up. Now our traditional fare is pizza.

    3. zaracat*

      My sympathies. It’s hard to be stuck with the crappy family members instead of the ones who are actually fun. My mother used to make family get togethers quite unpleasant, throwing tantrums worthy of a small child. One of the best xmases ever was after she’d moved away and it was just me/husband/kid and my brother and sister and their partners. In Australia, so it’s summer here – we ditched the labour-intensive roast dinner and xmas pudding and instead had cold seafood platters and pavlova, then splashed around in the pool all afternoon. I now live in a different city from them, but last year they had a BBQ at their place on Boxing Day and we set up a zoom call. It was great. Really low key, we each just had laptops on the table and different people would swing past and chat to me for a while as we all ate and drank. Looking forward to doing it again this year.

    4. Hatchet*

      There’s something comforting about being able to make the foods you want the way you like them!

      Storytime: Several years ago, Mom, Grandma, and I had a turkey based Christmas dinner. Grandma was in her mid-80s at the time and apparently took too large of a bite of turkey, or it was too dry (unlikely), but somehow wound up ‘stuck’ in her esophagus, like she couldn’t finish swallowing it. (She was breathing okay, so we knew it wasn’t a choking situation.) Mom is several drinks in, I’m enjoying my first glass of wine of the evening…and we realize that we may need to rush Grandma to the emergency room due to the stuck turkey. Dinner is abandoned as Mom starts tending to Grandma, and I’m sprinting out to my car to make room for them. I just remember flinging the box with the newly purchased Target Christmas tree from the backseat onto my Mom’s suburban front yard. By the time I make it back inside the house a few minutes later, Grandma is fine and there’s no need to go to the ER – very thankful for this. And from then on, we always made sure to cut Grandma’s food into smaller bites than we thought necessary.

      Several years later at Thanksgiving, my sister almost burned my house down* when the marshmallows on her sweet potatoes caught on fire while under the broiler. Thankfully the sweet potatoes were saved, but the marshmallows were lost. (The fire extinguisher was ready, but was not needed.)
      *Ok, granted this was more of a ‘smallish fire contained to the oven’ and not a ‘burn the house down’ situation, but I clearly had that moment flash in my mind when I could see the entire wall of my kitchen up in flames…
      (Sadly this was the year I was told not to buy extra marshmallows, so there were no backups.)

      Here’s hoping that you stay safe (mentally, physically, and emotionally) while your family is there. And the great thing about hosting is that you can hide out or suddenly have a project that only you can do to give yourself breaks from the family as needed (“Oh, I need to tend to sled dog”… as you tend to his needs for a pet)

      1. Sled dog mama*

        I would have had the same reaction to the marshmallows on fire!
        Sled dog did need lots of tending to yesterday as he was confined to the basement where it was quiet and where he couldn’t accidentally run into MIL.

    5. Sled dog mama*

      Thank you all, we all survived. SIL was ill so she stayed home and BIL and kids headed home early. Made for a very pleasant day.

  33. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

    At what point do you stop buying gifts for your brother and sisters and nieces and nephews?

    Nephews and nieces are all adults in their 30s (some married with children)
    I get the grand nieces something small when/if I see them at the holidays. I always got everyone something small like candy but my sister still gets gifts for me and husband. I just want to stop with all the gifts. I’m tired

    1. CoffeeIsMyFriend*

      obviously I can only speak for myself but I was uncomfortable with my aunt getting me something after the age of 20. now some coffee or cookies or a baked good is nice certainly not required

    2. captain5xa*

      Our rule is that once the niece, nephew, etc., turns 21 years old, they are adults and as such get cards only at birthdays and well wishes at Christmas.

      My spouse and I got really tired of gift giving about 20 years ago. Our families are all financially secure and didn’t NEED anything. Most of the gifts we received I brought home and stuck in the “give to Goodwill” box. We just decided to stop giving gifts and asked that others not give us anything, emphasizing that we would not be giving anybody anything.

      The only one who complained was my dear ol’ mother-in-law.

      Occasionally a family member will gift us something because they want to share. (For example, on year Bro received 20 lbs. of organic shelled pecans from a vendor so he spread the wealth around – yummy!)

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      For the younger folk, officially 18, and in practice somewhere around high school.

      Full blessings on my brother-in-law for being the one to raise the gift-giving topic, and suggest none for adults unless we were spending the holiday together, and an age-out for the kids. (Technically my kids as the youngest got less gifts than their older cousins; in no way was this a problem and they didn’t notice.)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’m trying to get my own family to stop with this. But of course I got gifts for everyone this year since I actually had money to do it. *facepalm*
      I think gift cards are a good alternative for adults. Most people buy the things they want for themselves.

    5. Buni*

      My Mother made a blanket ruling about 15yrs ago: Under 21s get actual gifts, for all adults it had to be under £10 (it’s gone up to £15 since) and ‘consumable’ – food, drink, or socks / gloves / scarves acceptable.

    6. Emma*

      If you’re tired, stop! I’m in my 30s, and of my 4 aunts and uncles, 2 don’t give me anything, but will sometimes send a Christmas card, 1 will send something consumable (like nuts or candy) to our family (I’m married with kids), and 1 sends something consumable+ small gifts for my kids. So really, a range of nothing to something!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I still buy for my nieces/nephew, but haven’t expected anything beyond a card from my own aunts and uncles since, I think, college? Basically that just faded out by the time I was a teenager.

    7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      About four years ago :) now unless I see them in person, I just send each of my siblings’ household a gift box of some sort of edible treats from Harry and David.

    8. Perpetua*

      I don’t have nephews or nieces (or brothers or sisters, and neither does my husband), but I’m a big believer that it is absolutely okay (and desirable even!) to communicate a need/desire to stop with gifts, especially with adults (but even with kids, I don’t think it’s some sacred obligation).

      We’ve agreed with both sets of parents not to exchange big gifts (I made them a photo book with mostly their granddaughter this year, I think they got us some sweets, but nothing big), and I don’t exchange gifts with friends or something, so the only gifts I need to get are something for my daughter (which is also not something big or complicated) and one small gift for a Secret Santa exchange. It’s honestly one of the reasons why the holidays are not a very stressful time for me (that, and the fact that I don’t do any baking or special cooking :D).

    9. Pieforbreakfast*

      I’m 52 and the youngest of five kids, all paired off. My family stopped exchanging gifts around 20 years ago. We had been doing name-exchange (1 name randomly pulled, that’s who you give a gift to) for a few years and then someone just said they were done and the rest of us breathed a sigh of relief and agreed to stop. Some members will send out handmade candy or such but there is no obligation and no expectation of reciprocity. If you don’t want to give gifts don’t give gifts. Say something early in the season about not doing so. Then if someone gives you something that’s their choice but they then know they won’t be getting anything in return and the burden is off you. Some people just love the act of gifting and not necessarily getting.
      With my niblings, age 18 was the cut-off for gifts, both holiday and birthday.

    10. Sleepy*

      I stopped exchanging gifts with my adult siblings and my parents a few years ago. It wasn’t because we hit a certain age, it just felt like it required too much energy and stress to do it. (Even receiving gifts was stressful–I only have so much room to display and store things, you know?) You can stop exchanging gifts at any time for any reason. :)

      The only thing I recommend is warning everyone ahead of time (in, say, early November) so that they don’t go out and buy you gifts and aren’t disappointed to not get gifts. It’s too late for this year, but you could let everyone know your wishes for next year, and then remind them next November.

      1. zaracat*

        Yeah, making the plan clear early on is essential, and also don’t make the cut off for who counts as a kid too young. I was very unhappy on my daughter’s behalf the year I got presents for all my nieces and nephews and was only told when I turned up for Christmas dinner at my ex-in laws’ that everyone had decided to only do presents for the younger children. Pretty harsh on a 12 year old to have to sit and watch her cousins open gifts when she got nothing.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      I haven’t stopped yet! But I have a small list to buy for (just one sister, her husband, 3 kids) and my mom. So I don’t mind–they maintain Amazon wish lists and prune/update them regularly.

      1. Taherog*

        Yeah, I can’t imagine not exchanging gifts with my little brother and our parents.

        We absolutely love to give gifts to each other.

    12. Clisby*

      I’m 70 and one of 6 siblings – by the time I was 35 or 40 we had all decided the siblings would draw names so each of us bought only one sibling gift. A few years later we made the same switch for nieces and nephews. There was just SO MUCH STUFF. I don’t remember when we stopped doing even that.

      My husband and I give each other a token gift at Christmas – a CD, a book, something like that. Then we go out after Christmas and buy something together that we really want.

    13. HBJ*

      Maybe we’re weird, but my family started doing an exchange (every adult gets the name of one other adult to get a gift for) about the time spouses for us kids started getting added to the mix. We have never gotten gifts for all the nieces and nephews, and my siblings don’t get gifts for my kids. For birthdays, occasionally if we’re able to be at the party (which tend to be small family affairs so far), we’ll give small gifts for the kids – and by small, I mean things like a pack of balloons or stickers or hair do-dads, really small – but we don’t always even do that if at the party.

      My husband’s side doesn’t really do gifts. His siblings, if they happen to be able to be there for the holiday/birthday, do usually bring gifts for the kids, even though we always let them know they don’t have to. And we usually will get a gift for them as well.

    14. miel*

      Oh goodness, stop already!

      In recent years, my family (“kids” in the 20s) has scaled WAY back on the gift giving and everyone is very happy about it.

      I do love cards at the holidays though.

    15. Bibliovore*

      Covid killed the peer adult gift exchange. I think most of us were relieved. Mr. Bibliovore and I gave the adult children $100 each in a card with a small gift (rhinestone earings, a popular book, leg warmers, etc) for the last ten years. (his dad used to do that and I figured we were always thrilled with the cash every year and we could afford it) After Mr. Bibliovore died, I wasn’t up for Christmas and didn’t do anything. Last year I reinstated the $100 to the next generation with a card to the “kids” who kept in touch with me during the past year. You know, called or stopped by the house. The next gen kids had cards with money waiting for the moment but by April only three of the next gen checked in. I just emptied the envelopes and spent the money.
      This year there were three kids (in their 30s who had kept in touch during the year) I didn’t start out making this a “test” but they were the one’s who got cards and money.
      I don’t know about the future.

  34. Heather Crackers*

    Low-rise jeans are back, baby! I am stocking up while the getting is good, since my GERD means I can’t tolerate anything touching my waist. Anyone have brands/styles to recommend that do low-rise well? It’s been years since I shopped jeans, but in the past I’ve liked a wide range, from Gap and Express to Joe’s and Paige.

      1. Girasol*

        What is it with women’s shirts? The cuffs don’t reach your wrists, the tails don’t reach below the belt, and the collar doesn’t come anywhere near your neck. It’s like buying armor for those female game avatars who are protected with steel bras and bikinis but everything else is bare.

        1. Filosofickle*

          Our bodies and style vary so much! Like the person wanting to stock up on low-rise jeans, I need to stock up on shirts while they are short. I am 5’2″ and high waisted, and want shirts to land at high or mid hip — so 21-24″ long is perfect and it had been more than a decade since I’d been able to find anything that didn’t cover my butt. (Especially at my current plus size.) I also prefer the 3/4 sleeves and lower necklines :)

          1. Girasol*

            I am indeed the opposite. As my doctor says, “Your rib cage is sitting on your hip bones!” Yeah, like that’s a revelation! I am reminded every time I try to buy clothing. The crotch of high-waisted women’s pants hits me at the knees. The biggest shirts fit like tents but the shoulders are still too narrow. Men’s clothes fit so nicely but then my style gets stuck on lumberjack-chic. I’m with you on stocking up. I buy a ten year supply whenever I find something that actually fits.

    1. Lily*

      I think these are slightly fancier brands, but both G-star and Pepe Jeans have some serious low-rise – the leg is different, but you can choose between three… rises?… for most. And you can choose the length of the jeans as well. Pepe Jeans’s low-rise is suuuuper low, though. Last time I tried them on, I found the mid-rise to be what other brands sell as low-rise.

    2. Can't Sit Still*

      I’m happy for you, since jeans with the wrong rise are miserable, but I sure hope they keep a range of rises. Low-rise jeans usually either hit the widest part of my butt or just below, which means I can only keep them up with suspenders, if at all. LOL!

    3. ughm*

      Oh joy. I have a difficult time as it is finding jeans, now this low rise crap is back?

      I mean, I’m happy for you I guess.

      1. Courageous cat*

        Haha, I don’t think there’s a need to be too snarky here – fashion changes and cycles, that’s no surprise. Pleeeenty of high rise still in stores and likely will always be at this point. Low rise is just slightly trendier/skews slightly younger right now.

        1. Ali + Nino*

          Haha I agree that it’s just trends – they come and they go and honestly I am too cheap to buy clothes according to what’s in style XD Low-rise honestly doesn’t really work for my shape – I just end up having a huge gap around my waist or else the pants won’t fit my hips – but I guess I got used to it when I was a teen! Long live…whatever style you enjoy!

    4. JaneDough(not)*

      I had good luck about 15 yrs ago with Lerner’s, an inexpensive chain. They actually made bottoms for petite, average, and tall! (The ones I bought were black jeans — not work-type trousers, tho I wore them to my casual workplace. And mine weren’t super low-rise but lower than my waist. I liked em, bought 3 or 4, and still have at least one pair somewhere.)

    5. Roland*

      I personally haven’t worn low rise in many years but my absolute favorite brand for denim is Madewell, and they do have low rise. They have some sale styles now of course but if a style you want is full-price, you can get 20 dollars off if you bring an old pair of jeans for their recycling program.

  35. raynaud's info*

    Does anyone know good resources for information about Raynaud’s Syndrome? I’ve dealt with it my whole life but it’s been getting worse since this summer and my doctor’s appointment is still months away. It’s so hard to figure out what’s reliable information online. I was always told by medical professionals that no one knows the cause and there’s no treatment to mitigate it, but recently my optometrist called it an autoimmune issue, which no one has ever mentioned to me before. Clearly I’m missing a lot of info, I don’t even know what type of specialist to ask about it!

    1. E*

      Sorry to hear this. I had a condition while breastfeeding related to Reynaud’s and vitamin B3 helped. When do you see a doctor, maybe ask them if this is an option? It looks like there are a lot of potential treatment options, Google “mount sinai Raynaud’s phenomenon. take care and good luck!

    2. Sutemi*

      When I started taking low-dose aspirin, my Raynaud’s symptoms got much, much better. It could be something easy to try for a couple weeks while you wait (though of course this is more unreliable info online!)

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Your optometrist said something somewhat misleading. Secondary Raynaud’s can be caused by an autoimmune disorder, but it is not itself one. Primary Raynaud’s, my understanding is has no known cause and is suspected to be either a vascular or nervous system issue, but since the whole “no known cause” thing, can’t be said conclusively.

      My understanding is the best way to mitigate it is wearing gloves anytime it’s below 70 degrees F (yeah you read that right), including if you’re putting something in/out of a fridge/ freezer.

      My main sources are: my doctors (diagnosed nearly 30 years ago), Johns Hopkins, NIH, Mayo Clinic.

  36. Sleepy*

    Has anyone here ever suffered from long-term insomnia? How long after “fixing” the insomnia did it take for you to stop feeling exhausted?

    I suffered insomnia/anxiety/depression for over two years while at a toxic job. I have been in a new job for about four months and am getting way more sleep than I was previously, but I still feel exhausted all the time. I can’t find anything online about how long the “recovery” period is, so I was wondering what other people’s experiences are. (I’m in my mid-thirties, so maybe I’m at an age where I’m supposed to be tired all the time?)

    1. NeonFireworks*

      I had chronic insomnia for years and once I found good treatment, there was an initial burst of energy but it took about 5-6 months for me to adjust to a new baseline.

    2. born tired*

      I have suffered chronic insomnia to greater or lesser extents my entire life. The things that really help combat the exhaustion are about 40 ( or more) minutes of cardio (elevated heart rate, breathing hard.) Weight lifting/gym machines do not do it (good for other benefits, however). But a good 1500m swim: that fights the exhaustion for hours. I know it’s hard to do when you’re exhausted, but only once have I gotten in a pool and swum a bit and noped out. Otherwise, cold water swimming – my local sea from about 12-16’C (55-60F) is good for this. I would probably enjoy colder, but haven’t been brave enough. If you can’t do that I’d really suggest a shower that goes from very hot to very cold a few times, staying in each temp range for as long as you can up to 5 min.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      What a great question. I suffered very severe insomnia for about 7 years and I felt mostly cured about 6 years ago. I slept an average of only 15 hours a week for all those 7 years. Counseling for anxiety did it for me finally. I still feel I’m paying off sleep debt to this day. I now sleep well (unless I’m traveling) and allow myself 9-12 hours and never tell myself not to sleep so much.

      1. Sleepy*

        I’m jealous of your 9-12 hours. The most sleep I can get is 6 hours. I wish I could sleep late even if it was just on the weekends!

    4. AnonAgain*

      Have you had a sleep study to check for sleep apnea? Only took one night on cpap and I felt a dramatic difference.

      1. Sleepy*

        I had several appointments with a sleep doctor while I had insomnia, and he told me I didn’t need to get a sleep study because I had no symptoms that would make him recommend one.

        (I didn’t tell him about my toxic workplace until the last appointment, because I thought for a long time that my life would magically get better if I could just get more sleep, so that wasn’t why he didn’t recommend a sleep study.)

        1. LA Girl*

          Maybe try a different doctor if possible?

          My daughter had horrendous insomnia in her college years. The sleep study she finally got (we had to change insurance to get it) made a huge difference. They determined that her brain wasn’t turning off her hearing while she slept, so she heard everything all night long. Now she doesn’t sleep without earplugs, and she also did cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI). Without the sleep study, she’d probably still be awake all night.

          Good luck. Insomnia is awful

        2. carcinization*

          I agree about finding a different doctor or asking again. I talked to mine about snoring concerns and asked for a sleep study and he said I didn’t need one unless I noticed that I stopped breathing. 6 months later my snoring had worsened and I asked again and he finally gave in. My sleep study came back showing apnea. I gave him feedback that maybe people don’t always know that they stop breathing at night.

    5. Sitting Pretty*

      For me the only thing that works is a pretty rigid nighttime routine.

      No caffeine during the day (YMMV but if you do drink tea or coffee, stop by noon)
      No eating at least 2 hours before bed
      Nothing emotionally or intellectually taxing at least 1 hour before bed
      No screens 1 hour (minimum) before bed
      Low lights all over house 1 hour before bed
      Cold (or cool) shower before bed
      10 mins of deep breathing with low light
      Reading something chill and light in bed. (No phones or screens!)
      Eye mask, earplugs, cooler-than-you’d-think temps in house, fans running for white noise and cooling

      On the rare occasions I stick to this routine, I end up getting solid sleep. But it’s hard to keep it up! I feel for you, insomnia is torture. Hope you find some relief soon!

      1. Sitting Pretty*

        Oh and in terms of how long? For me it’s pretty quick. If I stay on top of quality sleep, I usually feel “caught up” (even though I know that’s a fallacy) after just a few nights, maybe a week. That’s what makes me wonder if you have something else going on, like sleep apnea or an underlying condition. Because if you’re sure you’ve tackled the sleeplessness, it seems odd that you’d still be feeling so tired after months of decent sleep.

    6. JaneDough(not)*

      If you’re still exhausted despite sleeping a lot, then it’s time for a COMPLETE physical. Could be your thyroid. Could be auto-immune (exhaustion was one clue for my diagnosis). Could be something else. Is almost certainly something non-scary. But find out!

      Rooting for you.

      1. Sleepy*

        I wouldn’t say I sleep a lot…just a lot compared to when I had insomnia. (There were nights where I couldn’t sleep at all, and most nights I’d only get two or three hours of sleep. Now I get closer to six hours.)

        My last physical/annual doctor appointment was in July. The doctor said my routine blood work looked fine. Would thyroid issues come up on routine blood work, or is that something special you have to ask the doctor for?

          1. Clisby*

            It’s good if they check TSH, T3, and T4 levels. It won’t necessarily be illuminating – I’ve been dealing for a year with constant fatigue and lack of appetite (classic signs of a thyroid problem, plus I have a family history) and my hormone levels keep testing as absolutely normal. But it’s worth a try.

    7. InsomniaIsReal*

      you can fix insomnia? that’s news to me and everyone else I’ve ever met with insomnia. I’d take that as a huge win.

      Signed, barely got my 2 hours last night

    8. SurprisinglyADHD*

      I’ve had insomnia my whole life, and found a supplement (melatonin) a few years ago that helped a lot. I now sleep more hours AND more deeply on average, but on nights I get less than 7-8 hours of sleep, the next day I’m tired. On days when I slept well, I feel all right, but one or maaaybe two nights of poor sleep and I’m back to exhausted.
      Mid-30s is NOT when permanent exhaustion should kick in. You mentioned in other comments a toxic workplace, and still 6 hours a night being your current maximum. Stress/anxiety can make for lower-quality sleep, and 6 hours is still low for many people. If you were extremely sleep deprived before, you could still be mildly sleep deprived now, operating at less of a deficit but still not at your comfortable zone.
      I wish you the best of luck in reaching a point where your energy has recovered fully! Energy drain sucks and can take time to recover from even after remedying the cause.

  37. Llama Alert AKA And thanks for the coffee*

    My sister alerted me to this. Llamas as support animals at the Portland airport. With AAM’s common references to llama related jobs, I thought some readers might enjoy this.

    Link in first comment.

    1. Llama Alert AKA And thanks for the coffee*

      Llama link: it’s in the Washington Post. I’m sorry if the link might not work for some.

    2. BlueCactus*

      I found this to be quite surprising since all the llamas I’ve met at various fiber festivals are pretty territorial and mean! These have got to be some special llamas!

  38. The Dresser*

    Last week I posted a question about a dresser, and I was unable to thank many of the people who posted helpful replies, so I’d like to now, en masse.

    Thank you, goddessoftransitory, E, Chauncey Gardner, 248_Ballerinas (formerly Astoria), Falling Awkwardness, Diphthong, Jay, Seeking Second Childhood, Unkempt Flatware, office hobbit, Snoozing not schmoozing, Melissa, I’m A Little Teapot, Laser99, Generic Name, Violetta, and Donkey Hotey [tee hee], for taking the time to help a stranger, and for sharing your kindness and your insights. You are the spirit of the season!

    Best wishes and happy holidays.

    1. Jay*

      I hope it helps you make a decision that’s best for your life and your mental and emotional health.
      Best of luck!

    2. Generic Name*

      Aw, you’re welcome! Oddly, it’s helpful to know that other people have feelings attached to furniture as well. (I once chopped up a wooden headboard with an axe after my ex left it behind when he moved out…)

  39. SurprisinglyADHD*

    I bought a masterclass brand nonstick frying pan this past week, and the packaging says it has a “soft touch Bakelite handle” The label also says it’s dishwasher safe but they recommend hand wash to preserve the nonstick.
    Does anyone know what material might be sold today as Bakelite? I thought it wasn’t used anymore (and also wasn’t dishwasher safe).

    1. Generic Name*

      I just looked at the Wikipedia article, and Bakelite is still sold today in certain applications, and listed saucepan handles as an example. It’s probably real Bakelite.

    2. WS*

      Lots of thermal resistant moldable phenolic plastics are sold as Bakelite, because it’s technically a process! If it says dishwasher safe it will be.

  40. Yikes Stripes*

    This is just a vent, but my parents are visiting for Christmas and insisted on staying with me instead of my brother in spite of him having more space – including a full guest suite! I’ve been sleeping on the couch for the last three days because they just can’t handle staying in the same house as a five month old and I’m very annoyed about it.

    It doesn’t help that mom’s been giving me grief about how I have my place organized (I have ADHD and need stuff to be visible and easy to put away and she likes everything to be hidden in cupboards or drawers or closets) and disapproving of the fact that my cat isn’t allowed outside and dad’s been on me about not aiming high enough in my career (I’m a home health care worker and I’ll be starting classes for my LPN/LVN certification next month.) He was a doctor and is so disappointed that his daughter wants to be a “low level nurse, not even an NP” and that his son is a physical therapist.

    I love them so much but I’ll be so relieved when they leave on Tuesday, and I could use help figuring out how to tell them that next time they visit their options are a hotel or my brother’s place. I’m too damn old to be sleeping on my couch, no matter how comfy it is to sit on.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Say exactly that! “I can’t wait to see you, but I can’t tolerate sleeping on my couch anymore. Here’s a list of nearby hotels/Air BnBs.”

      1. Yikes Stripes*

        I truly cannot think why I didn’t realize I could just say that and then stick to my guns about it. Thank you!

        1. Rainy*

          Parent stuff is often like that, I’m afraid. And the more unreasonable your parents are or have been in the past, the harder it is to stand up to them now. You have however many years of not rocking the boat, accepting that “they’re just like this (and there’s nothing I can do but endure it)”, and placating them to avoid whatever their default reaction to not getting what they want when they want it is.

      2. Ali + Nino*

        100% agree with being up-front with them when they begin planning their next trip. Offering up a list of nearby hotels and/or Airbnbs is a nice peace offering, in my opinion. But I would absolutely not start brainstorming with them where they’re going to stay, how they’re going to afford it, etc. – not your problem (sorry if that sounds harsh).

    2. Esprit de l'escalier*

      There is no ideal way to deliver information that might displease your parents, but you need to internalize the idea that you will not repeat this hosting experience no matter how uncomfortable it might be to tell them that. It’s a tradeoff – one or more uncomfortable conversations vs days of physical and emotional discomfort because you caved.

      Keep reminding yourself how miserable it was this time, and if they tell you they want to stay with you again, say “I’m really sorry but I cannot host you again. You can stay at Brother’s house or an airbnb/hotel as you prefer, but not with me.” and stick to that like it’s been superglued into you.

      1. MJ*

        Maybe write in a journal exactly how you are feeling while they are there, and any stunts they pull. Then reread your entries next time they want to stay – just in case your brain tries to convince you “it wasn’t really that bad”. Our confrontation avoidance brains can be tricksy if we don’t have backup support!

    3. Generic Name*

      I’m sure your parents are nice people, but it’s very rude to insist on staying at someone’s house, at inconvenience to them, and then complain about it. Just in case a teensy part of you felt unreasonable or guilty about your feelings on it. think next year you can simply say you can’t host them and they can figure out that hotels exist or they can buy earplugs and stay at your brother’s.

        1. Yikes Stripes*

          I promise, they’re usually very nice people – my brother and I grew up in a loving and supportive family and our parents have always been generous with time, money, and attention.

          There’s just always going to be some things that cause friction and dad’s gotten much more difficult and, well, occasionally jerk-ish since he retired. I’m not being particularly kind with my post since I’m so frustrated with them right now but they’re not usually this bad.

          1. Ellis Bell*

            I do believe you, because I also have a really lovely supportive parent who adores me, but sometimes got confused about the difference between “motivational support” and “flat out parental anxiety manifesting as criticism” and “my goals for me are not the same as your goals for you”. That said, what a lovely tolerant person you must be! You’re planning to give the simplest and lowest drama response to why they can’t stay next time. I would find it difficult to resist saying: “I don’t think you enjoyed the way the house was set up last time!” or “I doubt you even want to stay with a low level nurse!” because hearing that last phrase repeated back is should make anyone embarrassed. However I don’t advise this; you are much wiser. That’s totally just me, I lean into conflict.

          2. Maggie*

            I get that, I could make a frustration post too that would make my parents look bad but they’re still pretty good overall! Good luck!!!

    4. Indolent Libertine*

      I’d wait until the next visit is being planned and then say something like: “Mom, Dad, I love you and look forward to spending time with you, but I’m opting out of hosting for a while, so let’s talk about whether you’re going to stay with Brother or in a hotel or in an AirBnB.” Reasons are for reasonable people; if your parents aren’t that, just cheerfully stick to “It’s just not possible for me right now, let’s figure out what else can work,” repeated ad nauseam as necessary. Or you can add something about not sleeping well on the couch, and that makes you grumpy and you don’t want to be grumpy when they come to visit. I’d personally make this a separate issue from the disapproval over home systems and career choices (which, ick and I’m sorry they don’t see what this costs your relationship).

      We visit kid/spouse/grandkids on the opposite coast. We found that 3 days was about the longest time we could stay with them without everyone getting on everyone else’s nerves, so we VRBO/airbnb for all our visits now. It’s very beneficial for us to be able to come and go when we get overloaded, and it’s much less of a strain on them than having houseguests, even ones who do their darnedest to stay in their lane (but don’t always succeed, because, parents…).

      1. I'm with you*

        Yes, wait until the next time they want to come and stay with you! Don’t borrow trouble. Things could change so they never ask again and no need to bring it up now.

        If you want, for this time, see if they can’t spend the second half (or just part) of their trip at your brothers. Up to you.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      They said these things to you in your own home?!?! My god. I’m so sorry. Manners don’t go out the window just because you’re their child. That would be met with a very stern, “I didn’t ask you how you felt about that” but I have a very very cold relationship with my parent. I use, “I’m unable to host you going forward” and it gets the point across without having to say, “you’re not welcome in my home”.

      1. Rainy*

        When my husband told his in-laws that they’d need to stay in a hotel, he said “Going forward it’ll be better for everyone if you plan on staying in a hotel or b&b”. He was super nervous but he got through it!

            1. Rainy*

              If my parents were the problem I’d deal with them :) Since his are the problem, he deals with them :P

    6. Rick Tq*

      Tell them they will not stay at your home and stick to your guns. Your parents do NOT have the right to evict you from your own bed nor should your mother reorganize your house.

      If they want to visit they can either learn to tolerate a 17-month old next year or get a room in a hotel, your home is NOT open to them.

      Given your father’s harassment about your career path you have every right to go low or no contact at all going forward. A loving father doesn’t do what he has done.

    7. Rainy*

      You don’t need to tackle this at the same time as the visit, and in fact I’d suggest that you not try to do it on this visit. We had to do this with my in-laws after the they visited us and insisted on staying with us (they stress me out and I don’t feel safe having them around our pets unsupervised due to some comments my FIL has made).

      The next time they say “We’re coming for $occasion!” say “That’s great, I’m looking forward to spending time with you! Where do you plan on staying?” When they say “With you of course lol” say “I’m so sorry but that’s not going to be possible. If you can’t stay with Brother, there are several nice hotels in the area.”

      It is going to be awkward. You have to steel yourself for that. There’s no way to do this that isn’t awkward and they will probably have some feelings about how this means you’re not hospitable or you are rejecting them and they’ll almost certainly fling around “but faaaaamily” a few times, but you know what? They’ll live! You might check out Captain Awkward’s advice blog–she has answered questions like this multiple times over the years her site has been active. :)

    8. Maggie*

      You have my support and sympathy, they honestly sound totally awful. “Sorry but I can’t host you this year”. “It just won’t be possible” “nope, it won’t work this year”. I’m assuming they’ll push back so you’ll want several phrases. Give no excuses or reasons whatsoever, so they can’t argue them.

      1. JaneDough(not)*

        Yes! A variation on the broken-record technique.

        I recommend to everyone a self-help book titled “When I Say _No_ , I Feel Guilty” (by Emanual ____ — forgot his surname). The prose is kinda groovy and dated in a way, but the underlying advice is very good. I’m pretty sure you can read it for free at the Open Library website, which I also recommend to everyone.

    9. ampersand*

      Good advice here, and I’ll add: sometimes we forget how bad something is once it’s over, so it might help to write down the specifics of their trip (basically what you said above) plus the wording for what you’ll say next time they ask to stay with you. And then refer to it as needed. Parent stuff is hard! I have a hard time telling my own parents no about certain things, and I’m in my 40s. I hope the next couple of days are bearable and Tuesday comes quickly!

    10. Just a Name*

      I’d go get a hotel now. Because I need sleep. Just say it isn’t working because you can’t sleep.

      1. Rainy*

        Except then her parents would be unsupervised in her home. With her cat. Her cat that they want to put outside.

    11. Seashell*

      I can understand if people don’t want to make more work for a family with an infant, but then they should go to a hotel.

      I’m surprised a doctor doesn’t appreciate what nurses and physical therapists can do for patients.

      The cat comments would merit a “Do you want my cat to die?” if they were in my house.

      If it makes you feel better, I’m expecting guilt trips and passive-aggressive comments on Christmas.

    12. Good vibes to you*

      It’s hard to have parents you love a lot and who do love you who are also really judgemental. I do! And everyone is so used to it being that way it’s automatic. But it CAN change. Sometime when you and your dad are on the phone (after they go home), maybe take a deep breath and say Dad, I wanted to talk to you about what you said about my career choice. I know you love me and don’t mean to hurt me (I am here assuming this is true?), but when you refer to my job as low-level and “not even” a nurse, it does make me feel bad. I am happy with my choices and your comments hurt me. Please don’t make judgmental comments about this. Thank you, Dad.” I had to do this with my mom years ago. Over and over for a while. Oh my gosh she hated it. Got really defensive. Things got worse ( my therapist warned me they would, temporarily — no one likes to be called out, even when justified.). But she finally got it! And she never did apologize — but she stopped! What a relief. Anyhow good luck.

    13. Yikes Stripes*

      Thanks everyone, this was extremely helpful and validating.

      I do want to say that while my mom and I have had friction about organizing and cleaning since I was in high school, I’m extremely comfortable sticking to my guns on that one – I’ve worked with my therapist a lot to find things that work for me and keep my house from being a mess. The cat thing is not something we’re ever going to agree on as she’s from a country where keeping cats inside is viewed as being almost abusive, but she’d never put my cat outside. I’m pretty sure that one of my stocking stuffers this year is a cat harness, but that’s more funny than anything else.

      Dad isn’t normally this much of a jerk, but he recently retired after thirty odd years of being a highly successful pediatric cardiologist and he’s having a really hard time making that transition. It was never a secret that he was hoping his kids would both become doctors, but until recently he’d never expressed any disappointment or frustration about our choices. Mom’s trying to get him to go to therapy and my brother and I are just gritting our teeth and hoping he either goes or gets over his crap on his own.

      Again, thank you all! I’m so grateful to have the reassurance and support. :)

  41. YourFriendlyNeighborhoodCatMom*


    I am recently back to work after 6 months of unemployment (woohoo!!!) and would love some recommendations for easy work lunches so I don’t get stuck in a sandwich rut.

    Thank you and happy holidays!

    1. SurprisinglyADHD*

      If you have access to a microwave at work, leftovers from last nights dinner work great! Throw some in a container when you’re wrapping it up after dinner, toss it in a cool-bag in the morning with a fork (disposable is more convenient, reusable is more sustainable), and microwave it at your lunch break.
      Note: Seafood usually should NOT be microwaved where others can smell it. I usually have pasta with seafood so I microwave the pasta and sauce, then put the hot pasta on top of the seafood to warm it.

    2. Girasol*

      If you have a microwave, leftovers! If you don’t, there are wide mouth vacuum bottles that can keep leftovers or a hearty soup hot from morning until lunch.

    3. Rainy*

      I pack my lunch in bentos typically and if I don’t have work-appropriate leftovers from dinner, I always have sliced hard salami or other sliced meat, sliced cheese of various kinds, olives, and fruit and/or veg (carrots, celery, berries etc), and I’ll add crackers or bits of sliced fresh bread or even cut up flour tortillas if I want something to put my salami and cheese on. Applesauce cups or other sorts of fruit cup are really nice to keep on hand as well. I guess pudding or jello cups would be good too if you prefer.

      It’s quick to put together the night before, and I can change up the actual food very easily without a lot of mental effort so I’m not eating the same thing all the time (which I have a low tolerance for).

    4. Jay*

      I often make up a big kettle of something over the weekend.
      Soup, stew, chili, homemade pork and beans.
      Then I partition it in plastic bowls (bonus if they are sealable, washable, and microwaveable).
      Work lunches are now done.
      Also, instant oatmeal and Cream Of Wheat are really nice changes.
      I keep a couple of packets of instant Raman on hand (it’s not great, but, sometimes, it’s what I’m in the mood for).
      There are a wide variety of tinned fish/seafood that make for a much, much more interesting meal than plain tuna. Portuguese spicy mackerel is a personal favorite.

    5. Vanessa*

      I find the two serving tubs of soup (usually in the deli section) a lifesaver when I’m too busy to pack. Costco has a nice selection.
      I also have a salad box with all the stuff for different salad. It’s so much faster when all the pantry stuff is in one place.

    6. Dancing Otter*

      When I worked in office, I had a lot of “yogurt and” lunches. Yogurt and apple, yogurt and celery sticks, yogurt and almonds, yogurt and raisins, yogurt and whatever fruit was in season… I’d get pop and sometimes chips from the vending machines.
      Sometimes I used the tiny cans of tuna or salmon, maybe 4 ounces? It wasn’t economical, but after the lid came loose on the Tupperware in my bag a few times, I considered it worth the cost. Similar with the individual applesauce or fruit cups.
      Hormel “Compleat” meals are like TV dinners but shelf stable. They do need to be heated in a microwave, though.
      If you’re seeing a theme here of things that don’t need refrigeration for a few hours, you’re right. I used an insulated lunchbag, but did not always have the use of a refrigerator at client offices.

    7. JaneDough(not)*

      I like to vary a grain base (steel-cut oats, rice, millet, pasta) and add frozen veg (big time-saver) + protein (tofu, beans, canned fish, bits of turkey or chicken). For ex., I love steel-cut oats with pb + kale + garlic + red-pepper flakes. Or curry over rice (make a big pot once a week and freeze it in individual containers).

      Broc + chickpea + nooch salad. Small pasta (orzo, penne) + sauce + meatballs. Ravioli. Pierogi. Rice with chickpeas and Thai-inspired sauce. Rice with spinach and chicken + Greek-inspired dressing. A loaded baked potato. Loaded fries.

    8. miel*

      In decreasing order of quality:

      Last night’s leftovers

      Rice + last night’s roasted/ sauteed veggies + an egg (cooked in the microwave) + sauce for flavor

      Peruse the frozen instant meals isle

      Keep a stash of “just add water” or “heat and eat” items on hand at your desk – soup, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, etc.

    9. Emma*

      Congratulations on your job!!!!

      Budget Bytes is a website that has a lot of meal prep lunch options. If you go to the website and select “Meal Prep” from the menu, they have a ton! They’re recipes that are designed to be made on one day and divided into 4, so you have something for several days of lunches.

    10. Heather Crackers*

      Canning jar salads. Layer dressing on the bottom, then layer other ingredients up to 3/4 full. Stuff that’s easily bruised won’t work (leaf lettuce) but crunchy veg is good, nuts and seeds are good, cooked proteins are good. Tightly cap and keep upright, then shake immediately before eating.

  42. no one reads this far*

    Any advice on what to do with 3 large bunches of fennel? My friend gave me some but I have no clue what to do with it