{ 1,095 comments… read them below }

  1. Rainy*

    Per a comment last weekend…tell me about your most ridiculous or heartwarming moments with family or in-laws!

    My MIL sent out her annual xmas letter over email and made it seem like my husband is single!

    1. Rhyming Christmas letter*

      My Aunt sends out a rhyming poem Christmas letter every year. One year she announced that their son died that year. In rhyming poetry. Like, “We’re sorry we have bad news to say
      Allen has passed away
      He put up a good fight
      But cancer won the right “
      Or something along those lines. So that happened.

      1. Rainy*

        Oh…my. I mean, props to her for committing; I hope it made her feel better to keep the tradition up in the face of such a sad event.

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        oh my, I hope that wasn’t actually a way anyone found out about his death, and was just an odd recap of events.

    2. Just Another Cog*

      Great thread! Here’s mine:

      We were in the middle of choosing finishes for our half-built new home and I was visiting on the phone with my (now late) MIL about what we had chosen. We were young parents with a couple of little boys at the time. She often commented on the toys scattered around the house when she’d visit. During the call, she said “maybe with a brand new home, it will be easier for you to keep clean.” She often came up with zingers like this.

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

      My lovely ex-MIL knew I liked old movies . . . so she wanted to give me a life-sized cardboard Charlie Chaplin cutout for our apartment. She was (and still is) a great lady, who was like a second mom to me, but wow. That was where I got to practice setting some boundaries.

        1. Artemesia*

          I don’t know — my daughter had a life size Mr. Spock and having a lifesize guy you could glance at over your shoulder in the dark — shudder.

          1. The OG Sleepless*

            I looked at my neighbor’s house early one morning and was totally creeped out. There was a silhouette in the window that looked like he was standing looking out the window with one arm propped high against the glass. When I came home, in the daylight I could see it was a lifesize Anakin Skywalker with a light saber.

    4. Middle Aged Lady*

      When I was a vegetarian, my in-laws made me a ‘suckling pig’ out of half a spaghetti squash skin-side down for the body, with a head carved from a sweet potato. It had craisin eyes and a baby carrot in its mouth, and a spiral zucchini tail. They also once made me a ‘fish’ from a longwise slice of eggplant with cardboard head and tail on either end.

      1. Middle Aged Lady*

        Oops, I meant skin-side up!
        They also made my boat-loving husband a 50th bday cake with blue icing for a lake with a tiny aluminum foil canoe on it.

    5. ThatGirl*

      My in-laws are lovely for the most part but I love to cook and love deeply seasoned food, whereas they do not care that much about food. My father in law declared that the sour cream and onion seasoning I added to the mashed potatoes was too much seasoning and he just wants things bland.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Reminds me of Bill Bryson’s description of his dad responding to only three flavors–“salt, ketchup, and burnt.”

      1. Kayem*

        My in-laws are like that as well. One time, they decided to go wild with their plain cheese pizza and put canned mushrooms on it. They warned us ahead of time that it might be a bit much. How they raised two spice-loving children in Cajun country is beyond me.

        1. ThatGirl*

          My husband is not the /most/ adventurous eater, but he appreciates my cooking and extensive spice cabinet! There were a bunch of dishes he didn’t realize could be delicious until I made them :)

    6. Anon for this very specific story*

      Slightly PG-13 but… partner’s elderly and very conservative father was very concerned to hear about a recent muscle spasm that left partner couch-bound for several days over Christmas, and asked us very earnestly over the phone if we owned a vibrator.

      Partner and I both froze for a split second before realizing that he meant a massage gun

      1. sandal story*

        Also PG-13 and not Christmas themed but related to clueless misuse of words:

        Years ago I worked at a very Christian summer camp and the staffers/camp owners — a man and his wife, both in their 60s — took a group trip to a tourist attraction one weekend that we had off. As we traveled, we passed a flip-flop on the side of the road, and the male owner exclaimed “looks like someone lost their thong!” His wife mildly replied, “sandal, dear.”

        1. Knighthope*

          A middle school principal caused an uproar when she declared on the PA, “Students may not wear thongs!” Teachers were laughing, kids were saying “WHAT??? Can she do that???” “How would she check???” A long pause, indistinct talking. “I mean FLIPFLOPS!”

          1. 248_Ballerinas*

            Reminds me of the principal of Rydell High School in Grease: “If you can’t be an athlete…”

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            My husband once made that error when trying to tell a child in chemistry class that she couldn’t wear ‘thongs’ into the lab when he meant ‘flip flops’. (safety reasons on the footgear).

        2. PhyllisB*

          Not Christmas related, but one time my (now ex) son-in-law asked me if I had ever made “nookie.” I thought my daughter was going to explode. I very calmly said, I believe that’s pronounced gnocchi. When he realized what he said he was mortified. But then we all had a good laugh.

          1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

            In the U.S. for MANY years before string undies were common. I don’t understand people who don’t get context when a word has multiple meanings.

            1. Goldfeesh*

              I swear people just like to act ignorant that for decades flipflops were called thongs back in the day where you didn’t generally discuss what sort of underwear you were wearing.

              1. Cohort 1*

                Back in the day when I wore thongs on my feet in the summer, I also wore flower print panties with little ruffles around the legs. As with most small children, I would have been happy to discuss them with anyone.

              2. KEWLM0M*

                They were also called “go-aheads” by my California cousins back in the 60’s and 70’s…

            2. Seashell*

              That’s not a term I recall being used, and there are many people in the US who are younger than me. Perhaps it was before my time or varies by location.

            3. Old and Don’t Care*

              And they are still called that in many retail settings. As I tell my dad, people need to listen with their brains as well as their ears.

          2. Sarak*

            It’s the normal word in Australia for what you call flipflops. People understand if you say “flipflops” but most people would use “thongs”.

        3. fhqwhgads*

          That’s not really misuse though. Calling flip-flops “thongs” is both regional and generational. At this point it’s kinda old-timey, and has obvious confusion-factor with the undergarment, but that word does mean the shoe too.

          1. Cute As Cymraeg*

            In the UK, to the best of my knowledge, the shoes have ALWAYS been flip-flops. Nobody calls them thongs.

            Tbh I didn’t know Americans ever called them thongs either; I thought it was just Aussies (and possibly Kiwis).

            1. YHGTBK*

              In New Zealand they are Jandals – named that way back from Japanese Sandals. They have never been Thongs to us.

      2. PhilG*

        SIL said the same thing about a neck massager she intended on testing out on Christmas afternoon after she had spent the day being the perfect hostess for the family gathering. BIL and I looked at each other before he replied: “Would you care to rephrase that?” Only then did she realize what she’d announced to the whole family.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      The first time my mother-in-law met her fiancé’s parents, their reaction was “Oh thank heavens! You are wonderful. We’re so glad he found you.” She figured if they ever divorced, his parents planned to come with her. She tried to bring that into her relationships with her children’s spouses–she doesn’t have much in common with two of us, but that was never set up as a source of antagonism.

      1. Rainy*

        That’s so sweet :) I’m so glad for you both!

        Mine insulted me a lot whenever we were around each other, and when Mr Rainy had the audacity to remonstrate with her, she told him “I just don’t have anything in common with her, so I don’t know what to talk about” and he *accepted that* and then told me “I talked to Mom and she said you don’t have anything in common so she doesn’t have anything to talk about with you” and I said “So her go-to is insulting me? Has she ever heard of small talk.” He’s embarrassed now that that was his response. He’s come a long way.

        1. tangerineRose*

          I’m glad he’s come a long way. Does his mother not know about things like talking about the weather?

    8. Turtle Dove*

      My mother-in-law was warm and generous but clueless about boundaries in our home. We mostly visited her, but she decided to clean as a favor to me during one of her stays here. When I got home, a favorite piece of art was sitting on the front porch, water-logged and ruined, after she “cleaned” it. And she cut the shoulder pads out of my favorite, most flattering summer top because SHE hated shoulder pads. (Yes, that was her explanation.) After I had a private fit with my husband, he told her to just relax at our house, and “no more ‘cleaning'”!

      1. Rainy*

        Oh gosh. I have to imagine that boundary-stomping from someone who genuinely does mean well is so hard to deal with because you like them and don’t want to hurt their feelings but also oh my god stop taking scissors to my clothes.

        1. Turtle Dove*

          Yes! Your last line (“oh my god stop taking scissors to my clothes”) is pretty much what I said to my husband. And I think my mother-in-law could tell by my expression how upset I was. I don’t remember what I said to her, but I do remember it was tame compared to what I was thinking.

          1. Rainy*

            My MIL was mad that we live in a tiny, fairly crappy apartment. We’re used to it and we work around its various deficiencies but she was for some reason furious that our downstairs toilet is low-flow and demanded that I call out a plumber to “fix it” and when I refused, she actually intentionally messed up our upstairs toilet (you had to jiggle the handle a bit sometimes, so she took the lid off the tank and fucked up the lever arm and pull chain ON PURPOSE) and also stopped flushing it after herself so I’d have to flush her poop.

            And now she’s butthurt that she’s not allowed to be in our place without supervision and not welcome to stay overnight ever again. Yay!

            1. Turtle Dove*

              Gross!!! And shocking. Why is it the bold and rude are so easily butthurt? I know a few people like that, and the disconnect baffles me.

              1. Rainy*

                She absolutely 100% does not live with us and never will, despite what she thinks. My in-laws decided that they were going to stay with us for a week over the holidays, told us after they’d bought their plane tickets, made them non-refundable, and picked a week that was actually really inconvenient for us. It was our first holidays as a married couple and it ruined our holidays and our anniversary (which is right after Christmas), even though they left on Christmas Day to impose themselves on one of my BILs and his wife.

                I think the upshot is that she just…wanted us to be living somewhere different? We live in a somewhat crappy, aging 2 bed 1.5 bath apartment in walking distance of both our jobs in a very high COL town. Our rent is below market, our car is paid off but old and tiny, and we do okay but part of that is living where we live. She can’t post pictures of our place on her facebook for clout from her horrible friends, is a big part of it. I think she also may have had visions of moving in with us after my FIL dies and it was pretty clear that at least in this apartment that was never going to happen (it’s never going to happen regardless–if she wanted to live in my house someday she should have been nice to me from the beginning), and she just got really mad about everything.

                She also hates me, so that’s a factor.

      2. ampersand*

        I don’t think I would recover from a favorite piece of art being ruined! Were you able to move past that?

        1. Turtle Dove*

          I kept my favorite part of it as a memento, but yeah, that was difficult to get past. I was very upset. She and I were so different! My idea of lovely art — in this case, a dried gourd, I think it was, cut into a bowl and edged with delicate bead work — was her idea of ugly. She had the same reaction to a quilt I loved. Otherwise we got along really well, and she rarely voiced a critical thought. I thank my lucky stars that she was so great. But wow, she pulled a few doozies.

          1. ampersand*

            I’m glad you were able to keep part of it! This sounds like an overall win in the MIL department, artwork aside. :)

    9. RussianInTexas*

      My sister in law is a flight attendant, who is always talking how much she travels to other countries, how worldly she is, etc. She usually picks up Christmas gifts on her travels, which is totally fine. We usually give her one expensive gift, things like a FitBit.
      This year she gave her brother a set of spices and salts (he is on a very salty limit diet due to kidney disease, which she knows of). She gave me a cute bracelet, which I appreciated, and a ziplock with the individual snack pouches of Nutella, and olives.
      I asked which hotels she stole these from.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I mean, I can see spices so you can flavor food without salt, but why include the salt? Just pick up an extra fancy cumin jar or something.

    10. Mitchell Hundred*

      My grandfather passed away just over a year ago, and my grandmother has been trying to clear out his stuff ever since. She told me to look through his old books and see if there was anything I wanted, and I noticed a bunch of books by Somerset Maugham. Maugham was his favourite author, and after seeing a couple of his plays a decade ago he quickly became one of my favourites as well. The thing that makes it stick in my mind is that I fell in love with Maugham’s writing before I knew how much my grandfather adored his work, so seeing all the books of his that he owned makes me feel like he’s still around somehow. Nobody is truly gone while we remember them, &c.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        This is on the heart-warming side, but with some not so funny bits. This took place before we got married, so a good few years ago now.

        I was struggling with the hormonal effects of the contraceptive implant a good few years ago, and ended up not going to see my husband and his sister take part in the Sunderland 10k as a result. My husband and I also ended up missing the planned family meal out that evening, which my husband had suggested the restaurant for, ( and no one had disagreed).

        Everyone one was fine with this, and sympathetic, when my husband explained, apart from my mother in law, who deemed it Not A Good Enough Reason, didn’t speak to me properly for the rest of the visit and told my husband off for causing Problems by not going to the meal that he had planned all on his own. At that point, he retorted that he didn’t plan it, he suggested it and no one said no. :P

        We then hid upstairs in his bedroom for the evening, as after the others got back from the meal, as, in my husband’s words, “Don’t go down there. She’ll be on the wine by now!”.

        When I left, ( I was visiting for the weekend), I popped my head in to say thank you for having me etc., and got a very stiff “You’re welcome”, in response. :P I was reassured by my husband that there’s a bit of argy bargy involved in getting on with his Mum. :P

        It’s an odd one! My mother in law accepts that I suffered from depression before I met my husband, believes in that, and every time something happened, would ask, “Is it the depression?”. However, she didn’t accept when her husband had depression years ago and was off work for it. Very mixed!

        1. Mitchell Hundred*

          He was a very talented author and playwright. I haven’t read all of his stuff (mostly his short stories and “Ashenden”), but I recommend checking him out.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I wikied him and of course, Of Human Bondage! I knew I knew some of his work, it just wasn’t clicking. Definitely putting him on my ever growing list.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My inlaws lived 45 minutes away from us for about two years, and one Friday there was a vicious ice storm which knocked out power in their area but not ours. My husband (after much prodding from me) finally called on Sunday and learned that MIL was sitting by herself in a house with no power, no heat, and no hot water. My FIL left Friday morning for a winter camping trip. He tried to convince her to let us come pick her up and she refused. So I called her and eventually she agreed we could come down and bring her fresh food in a cooler and a hot meal in a thermos. I said “Why didn’t you call us? We’re not far away and you know we have a four-wheel drive.” She said it never occurred to her to call. “Why not?” And she said “Well, Jay, you and I were raised differently. I was raised to cope.”

      When I told my father he said “You were raised not to be a complete idiot.” My therapist, years later, said “Did she realize she was insulting you?” Oh, yes. Yes, she did.

      1. Rainy*

        Yeah, that sounds familiar. Mine is super passive-aggressive and I’m bad at subtext anyway, so I pretty much just don’t engage with the subtext bits even if I catch them at the time. Which is its own kind of enjoyment, because she gets so mad that I’m “too dumb to understand when I’m being insulted” that she eventually just loses it and acts out either verbally or physically and then she looks like an idiot.

          1. Rainy*

            Oh, definitely. My FIL is reasonably intelligent but so mean and hateful that almost everything he says *sounds* really stupid, but my MIL is an idiot. Just…like, also uninformed and small-minded, but utterly incapable of any kind of strategic thought or planning. She does and says stuff all the time that I guess feels good in the moment or whatever, but massively screws her in not just the long run, but also the short run!

            I don’t know how in the world my in-laws produced people as lovely and intelligent as my husband and his brothers. It’s absolutely mindboggling.

            1. Texan In Exile*

              I have always wondered that about my husband’s parents – how can two such mean, nasty people produce someone as kind as my husband?

              Throwbacks, I guess.

              1. Rainy*

                One of my BILs actually said a few years ago that he can’t understand what happened to the parents that raised them to be kind and considerate to the people around them.

        1. Might Be Spam*

          I’m not good with social cues. My sister is also super passive-aggressive, as well as super competitive. My kids were grown up, before another sibling told me that it drove her up the wall, that I never responded negatively, when she bragged about her kids, implying that my kids weren’t as good as hers.

          I’ve always been happy with my kids progress and never felt defensive because I didn’t notice the negging. I thought we were just doing regular smalltalk. Now, it feels kind the best petty revenge, is getting it without any effort all and not even noticing.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I just love the image of your sister tearing her hair out over you not being insecure and jealous!

    12. Eff Walsingham*

      My husband and I moved recently, and I had asked my aunt if we could use her address for some important mail while we were between addresses, so our bank and insurance statements wouldn’t fall into the wrong hands. When I called to wish her a Merry Christmas and give her our new mailing address, she told me she had opened my bank statements and proceeded to give me unsolicited financial advice! She doesn’t even have a background in finance, but, as it happens, I do. So I said calmly, “Yes, thank you, we were going to do that very thing! Merry Christmas!” as politely as my late mother would have wanted me to. My aunt has always been somewhat invasive and odd, but usually she just tells us to treat any ailments with goose grease.

      1. Rainy*

        Oof. I’m always so weirded out by the super intrusive people. I might be curious but I can just stay curious if it’s not my business.

        My MIL read my email while I was outside with the dog–I left my laptop open, but it didn’t occur to me that anyone would look at my laptop, and if they did, that they would switch out of the recipe tab I was reading into my email tab and then read my email and attempt to figure out my password. Which I know she did because a few weeks later Gmail made me log into everything again (I’d changed my password after that, out of an abundance of caution, and it gave me the whole “someone tried to log into your account” thing). I hope she enjoyed a quick skim through all the junk email I get!

        1. Eff Walsingham*

          Yeah, somehow I’m always surprised by the super invasive. I just really don’t care about things like other people’s business mail. If I saw something that looked social, I might ask one nosy question (“Is that a wedding invitation? Who’s getting married?” Okay, yes, that’s two questions.)

          I’m almost more blown away by the fact that she seems to think this is a perfectly normal thing to do? Your MIL is canny enough to try to be sneaky, although that’s its own form of awful. But my aunt is a woman of normal intelligence, and I don’t get how she’s so oblivious. But she’s a recent widow, so I’m heavily tempering my natural responses, for now.

    13. Elle Woods*

      My parents usually have small bowls of chocolate pieces, trail mix, or mixed nuts around the house, especially in the kitchen, dining room, and living room. My aunt’s family is the type that helps themselves to whatever food is out whenever they visit your house. My parents hosted a family gathering and my dad hid all the chocolate but didn’t hide the bowl of dog treats. The look on my cousin-in-law’s face when he started chewing on a lamb-flavored dog treat was priceless.

      1. Vi*

        I don’t totally understand this one – aren’t the (human food) snack bowls around the house for people including guests to eat from without needing to be invited to ? Or is it that the relatives always rudely eat too much of it?

    14. OMG, Bees!*

      I choose this December, bought my niece (9) a new oversized hoodie with a cat face on it. Her mom sent me a pic of her wearing it with the biggest grin and found out there are also cat ears on the hoodie itself, which I did not know about. She has worn it for days, slept in it, and had to be prompted to take it off long enough to be washed. Gift for the win!

      1. Claire*

        I got my 12y/o something very similar! It has also been permanently affixed to him since Xmas morning.

      2. Rainy*

        Yay!!! That’s adorable :)

        I bought my bff’s little daughter matching hoodies for her and her Barbie doll…and she got an Equestrian Barbie from someone else so they were immediately able to twin!

    15. Jackie*

      My husband and I had only been dating a couple of months, but he couldn’t wait to introduce me to his cherished elderly grandparents, Joseph and Josephine (who had raised him until age 5). They lived a 2 hour drive from us. He didn’t tell me much about them before our visit. We arrived at their lovely suburban home, and as we entered I noticed a shrine to the Virgin Mary displayed in the living room. We had lunch in the dining room. His grandmother sat across from me, with Jesus on a cross + palm fronds on the wall behind her. She very sweetly asked “What religion are you dear?” I replied “I was baptized and raised Catholic” but didn’t mention I was non practicing. His grandmother could not contain her joy!- she turned to my husband and gave him a 2 thumbs up sign while dancing in her chair.

      Turns out his previous wife had been an atheist.

    16. Kayem*

      My uncle is well-known for extremely elaborate and/or weirdly excessive gifts, often things he likes but others are lukewarm on. Nevertheless, it’s a lot of fun and we always look forward to what he’ll come up with. What arrived in the mail this year was many pounds of milk chocolate-covered caramels from a local chocolatier. I’m not a big chocolate person (esp. milk chocolate) and caramels are way too sweet for me, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled. Especially when my brother reported he received a 12 lb bison prime rib.

      I was kinda jealous. Brother has kids and they all like candy way more than we do. And my partner and I used to live in a place where bison was significantly cheaper than any other kind of meat, so we always ate it. Now we live in a place where it’s rare and ridiculously expensive, so we miss it. So it was weird that we got opposite day gifts. But whatever, they’re a family of four, they can polish it off quickly, whereas it would take the two of us so long we’d have to freeze a bunch just so it wouldn’t go bad.

      Fast forward to the week before Xmas when we host my brother and his family for our traditional holiday supper. Partner makes jambalaya, I put out lots of dessert and snack trays, which includes a bunch of those caramels. Good time was had by all. They ask if we were interested in coming over for Xmas dinner. We decline, having other plans since we don’t celebrate Xmas and just want to spend a chill night by ourselves.

      Several days after Xmas, my mom reports that my uncle is really upset. See, he sent brother a bison prime rib and us a crapton of chocolates because he planned for us to all get together on Xmas day and have a prime rib supper with chocolates for dessert. But we didn’t do that and he’s Very Disappointed.

      Y’all, he didn’t tell anyone any of this. There was no note in either package, no email to anyone, no voicemail, I even checked our chats and upon me thanking him for the chocolates, he then changed the subject and I heard nothing about it until my mom told me. At no point did he tell a single person “I sent you X and them Y and I would like you both to have Xmas dinner together to share the bounty.”

      This is typical with my family of origin. Communication skills are poor and people assume everyone else is psychic. The only reason I managed to not turn out this way was due to a degree in psychology and a whole lot of therapy myself.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, I have lost any shred of patience I ever had with the “read my mind” crowd. If you want to have some big bison and caramel shindig, SAY SO.

      2. Unkempt Flatware*

        Holy Shit, Jackie. Reading this just made me realize that my father manufactures events like this in order to purposely bring about strife. He would do this exact same thing (minus paying more than $5 for a gift for either of us) except it wouldn’t be for lack of communication, it would be on purpose because the only state he knows how to exist in is contentious interpersonal drama. I have just gained a serious amount of power back and I want to thank you for sharing your story.

    17. The Dude Abides*

      For Thanksgiving one year, I drove down the 5-6 hours south to my then-partner to celebrate with her family. On the way down, I was invited to interview for a job the following Monday, another hour south from there.

      They graciously let me stay over the weekend, and helped cover the purchase of interview clothes as a Christmas present.

      That Saturday night, they decided to bust out classic Trivial Pursuit. They were well aware that I was active in the quizbowl community, but they thought that going 4v1 that it’d be more fair. I still won.

    18. Bookworm*

      I have had one set of crummy in-laws (now ex-in-laws). I have a (mostly) lovely set now. I wasn’t able to go the In-Law family Christmas – originally I was working and then i felt like death. However, two of my husband’s family member’s make fabulous cookies. That I love. My Mom (who is still alive but doesn’t really bake anymore) used to make great cookies, but she never does anymore (which makes me sad and it’s definitely not because she can’t cook anymore – she makes elaborate meals at other times, she just chooses not to, which is absolutely her choice). So for Christmas this year, my SIL and my FIL (and step-MIL – but really my FIL made them LOL) made me handmade cookies of different types and gave me my OWN tin so I don’t have to share with husband or kids. (They also gave me kindle gift cards which are absolutely my 2nd favorite gift that I could receive from them, but the time that they took to make me my own cookies – knowing that I love and cherish them, means so much more.)

      1. WestsideStory*

        You are so lucky. Every year my brother-in-law bakes enormous quantities of cookies – bins and bins of holiday favorites. But aside from a single plate he put out Christmas Eve, we got none of them.
        My husband did ask gently if we could have some to take home. As we were leaving two days later, my sister-in-law said, “oh don’t forget your cookies.” I opened the package on the train. There were three cookies. Three.

    19. Slartibartfast*

      My sibling, their spouse, and child were late to Christmas dinner at my mom’s house, again.

      They all live in my mom’s house.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        When we lived in a third floor condo, our plumber lived on the first floor. He was ALWAYS late. We used to joke that he got lost!

    20. RagingADHD*

      My cousin’s annual letter included an offhand comment that they were very disappointed their cruise from Barcelona to Dubai had to divert from its original itinerary because “that darn war put a kibosh on” their plans.

      I have no words.

        1. RagingADHD*

          Knowing her, I’m pretty sure she was trying to be facetious. But…no. That’s not the kind of thing you should be flippant about.

    21. Might Be Spam*

      My husband found his brother going through our financial records on Husband’s laptop when we hosted Christmas. Brother-in-law was doing it in our dining room. How could he think nobody would notice? Now, my husband understands why passwords are necessary, even on devices that never leave home.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        WOW. Yeah, my devices are all password protected. Unfortunately my mail is only envelope-protected (see nosy aunt, above.)

    22. The OG Sleepless*

      I had difficult in-laws. They have mostly either passed away or drifted out of contact now, but I used to have one of these every year. One year, we had all decided to patch things up with my very unpleasant FIL. He loved to pick fights with people, and if he could pull other people into it with him, even better. After dinner my BIL had disappeared for a smoke break, and suddenly FIL went, “Hey, where’s ‘Steve?'” I said matter of factly, “He’s probably outside smoking.” FIL looked outraged and said “Steve SMOKES?” Yes, he does. “Well, he shouldn’t be doing that! He needs to quit! We should all tell him to quit!” I said in the same calm voice, “I’m sure he knows.” FIL looked at me incredulously, then looked at everybody else in turn, and they all just looked back at him. He shut up and didn’t mention it again. It was the only time I ever saw a whole room full of people completely grey rock him, and it was so satisfying.

    23. Sled dog mama*

      I think that was my comment and I just had a new most ridiculous moment with MIL today.
      Today, Dec 31, is FIL’s birthday. They always leave for Florida on the 27th. This year my husband wanted to do something special for his dad’s birthday so I baked a cake and we froze it for them to take.
      MIL has known about this cake since since the 23 and had it in her possession since the 26th. So today she calls me wanting to know if there is butter……in the buttercream frosting.

    24. I'm just here for the cats!*

      once I was visiting family and was at my aunt Carol’s house. they had their granddaughter who was about 3 and being naughty. well they would tell her if she didn’t behave the clown would come and get her. (she is terrified of clowns). well my other aunt was in town and when she came in she had this 5 foot tall Sylvester the cat from loony tunea stuffed animal. she had it in front of her and made it walk inside. granddaughter screamed bloody murder and hid behind me and my mom. My aunt Bonnie’s heart was in the right place and she felt terrible for scaring the kiddo.

    1. RLC*

      Love her facial markings, so unique! Looks like she might have a bit of cattitude too (we love cats with cattitude, more fun that way).

    2. KathyG*

      It’s she really that small, or is that an old picture? Our 3-year-old Bombay is 15 pounds, so he never looks as sleek as Fig does here.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        She was that small a couple of months ago when it was taken! She is getting bigger now though. (Which supports my theory that she was an older kitten when she came to us in June; her shelter intake paperwork said 2 years old, which seems clearly untrue based on the fact that she’s still growing and her manic kitten energy. I am increasingly thinking Stella might be her mom.)

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I am shocked by how well they all get along! We specifically asked for cats who liked other cats, but I’m still surprised by how well they fit in.

            They all seem to enjoy each other, and in particular Laurie and Wallace have adopted Stella and cuddle/play with her all the time. (She is especially smitten with Wallace and follows him everywhere.) Hank and Sophie cuddle/sleep with Fig. Stella loves to bathe Hank. (I’m particularly happy that Hank has two new cuddly friends to be cozy with while he is fighting cancer.)

            The only snag has been between Fig and Eve. Eve generally tries to establish dominance with smaller cats, but Fig — despite being the tiniest cat on the planet — was not having that. As a result, she now likes to stalk Eve and lunge at her while making a terrible battlecry. But I think they’re gradually working it out, and neither of them seem terribly bothered by it meanwhile. (In fact, Eve often seems amused by it and it’s possible she thinks the whole thing is a game.)

        1. Rainy*

          Our sweetie cat was about 7 months old when we adopted her, they thought, but our vet has been interrogating us for the last several years about whether she’s actually the age we say she is (she’s 7) because her heart imaging indicated she has the heart of a 15 yo. She grew quite a bit after we got her so she can’t have been very old.

  2. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs. I’ll share in a little bit since I’m in the middle of something.

    1. Owlette*

      The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. Historical fiction based around Bletchley Park. I usually plod through books these days but I whipped through that one

          1. English Rose*

            Brit here – there’s a brilliant museum now on the site of Bletchley Park, really fantastic immersive way of telling the stories of time. It’s not that far outside London, if you ever get a chance to visit.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I’m reading a terrific book! Paperbacks From Hell, by Grady Hendrix. It’s an actual, hilarious overview of the boom in 70s-80s paperback horror novels and their deranged covers. It’s big and glossy with tons of pictures of said covers, and information about the artists (one of the earliest and best known was genderqueer!) Loving it so far.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I enjoyed Paperbacks from Hell – and bought a few books thanks to the entries. (Have met Hendrix at local book-fairs, and have enjoyed some of his other books, including “The Final Girl Support Group”.)

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I liked that and Horrorstor. Also The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Fighting Vampires.

        2. Clisby*

          I just got his book “How to Sell a Haunted House,” but haven’t started it yet.

          The title amused me because it’s set in Charleston, SC. If you’re lucky enough to own a haunted house here, you jack up the price and put it on the market.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Second Biggest Nothing and The Delightful Life of a Suicide Pilot by Colin Cotterill and The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall.

    4. Shiara*

      I’m reading The Liar’s Knot, which is the second book of the Rook and Rose trilogy by M. A Carrick. (The M is Marie Brennan, who wrote the Lady Trent dragon books). The world building is a delight and I greatly enjoy the con artist main character. The web of secrets and identities and politics is very deftly done.

      1. Virtual Light*

        Oooh -thanks for this info. More books by Marie Brennan in the world! Interested to see what kind of book she will write with a co-author. First one (The Mask of Mirrors) already on hold.

      2. Ann*

        I just went into a small rabbit hole / circle spin. My brain read “Brennan” and “book” and went into “ah, Brennan-something from Game Changer – his mother is an author, wonder if it’s her?” Checked tvtropes, realized that was Brennan Lee Mulligan – so his first name, not last name. Oh he’s written a comic? Let’s see. The main character’s name is Alison Green! Back here at askamanager where I started XD

        1. Frank*

          Sadly, the comic–Strong Female Protagonist–has been on indefinite hiatus. He got hired by College Humor and cartooning partner Molly Ostertag went to work on Owl House, so *that* Alison Green lies languishing.

    5. chocoalte muffins*

      I read The Midnight Library last week based on recommendations from here and very much enjoyed it. Currently reading The House in the Cerulean Sea, also based on many many suggestions from AAM readers, and am loving it so far. So thank you to all of you for having excellent taste in books!

      1. Annie Edison*

        I finished House in the Cerulean Sea a few weeks ago and am still giggling lovingly about Chauncey and his dreams of being a bellhop. Such a heartwarming story!

        1. Pickwick*

          Yes! I didn’t feel that the ending was as tight as I wanted it to be, but there is just SO MUCH love and wit crammed into those pages and those characters!

    6. Filosofickle*

      I really enjoyed The Lost Ticket this week. It’s gentle story of a young woman who meets an old man on the bus, and offers to help him track down the redhead who changed his life when they met on the same bus in 1967, but he lost her digits and never saw her again.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      Currently reading “West” by Edith Pattou (sequel to “East”, a YA fantasy fave of mine). Today I also read “Step Aside, Pops!” which is a compilation of the Hark A Vagrant comic. As usual I fell a few books short of my 40 book annual goal, but I would’ve read less if I wasn’t aiming for something!

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I ADORE Hark, A Vagrant! Her take on history and literature is so hilarious. I’m planning to buy a few as prints, especially “Dude Watchin’ With the Brontes” and the Jules Vern/HG Wells airship fight one.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Some of my favorites are the Jane Austen, Gatsby, and Nancy Drew ones. I actually bought this book the other day when I tried to look up the Ida B. Wells strip and the site appeared to be down – I thought it was gone forever and panic bought the book lol (the site is back now…)

    8. osmoglossom*

      I’m reading A World of Curiosities by Louise Penny, book 18 of the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series. This series was recommended in one of the weekend reading threads earlier this year and whoever mentioned it you have my heartfelt appreciation. Because of depression, etc., I haven’t been able to read for pleasure — or much else — for a long time. These books have me enjoying reading again.

      1. Sue*

        I don’t know if it was me who recommended them but I loved the series too. So glad you’re enjoying them, those characters became like a part of my family!

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Just started the first in the series and can’t believe it took me this long to find it.

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

      Just finished *An Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good* and *An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed* by Helene Tursten, short story collections about a (fictional) little old lady serial killer in Sweden. I enjoyed them.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I loved those. Especially her ability to calmly live in her insanely valuable apartment and quietly take care of those who would see her as easily intimidated.

    10. Sue*

      I’m about halfway through Prequel by Rachel Maddow. I’m listening and she narrates. I’m finding it very interesting so far.
      I really loved the audiobook My Name is Barbra. I thought she did a fantastic narration and even though it’s very long, I was sad to finish it.

    11. Lady Alys*

      After a really embarrassing amount of time stuck on “Impeached” (about US President Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Abraham Lincoln and who was an awful person), I finally committed and finished it this week, so now I get to move on to Ron Chernow’s “Grant.”

    12. Annie Edison*

      Just started Violetta by Isabel Allende- it’s been on my list for a while now and my boyfriend gave me a paperback copy as a stuffer

    13. allathian*

      Leena Lehtolainen’s YA mystery Vihreän lohikäärmeen risteys (The Crossing of the Green Dragon). It hasn’t been translated into English yet, though. LL is Finland’s best- selling crime writer, and her most famous detective Maria Kallio makes a brief appearance in this one. The main characters are Selma and Viggo who each have a mystery to solve. Both have found meaning in a green dragon graffiti in a pedestrian underpass. I recommend this if and when it’s translated. It’s a very vivid description of contemporary urban teenage life in Southern Finland.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I’d love to read this, it sounds right up my street. Was hoping it might have been translated into my native language, rather than English, and the answer seems to be no.

      2. I take tea*

        Oh, I didn’t know she has written YA. I’ll check it out. It will suit perfectly, as there actually is a dragon on a wall nearby where I live.

    14. Jackalope*

      So I just finished a couple of books recommended on the blog. One of them was Committed by Adam Stern, and was his retelling of his residency as a med student studying to be a psychiatrist. I tend to enjoy books like that – memoirs, particularly of a tight focus like a specific period in time – and had fun with it. Although the more I read books about residency, the happier I am that I’ll never experience it. (What can I say? I like sleep.)

      The second was A Restless Truth, the second book in the trilogy by Freya Marske. I’d been stopped about 80 pages from the end, desperately wanting to finish but thwarted by exhaustion at bedtime. Today I finally got the time needed to finish up and greatly enjoyed the end.

    15. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I finished two books this week and really enjoyed both.

      1) I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait. The family dysfunction and generational trauma were triggering at times, and I wasn’t even sure I’d finish it, but I loved it. There are several moments of hope, and characters receive empathy even at their meanest. I could talk about this book for hours. I feel it helped me see things about my own behaviour and my family that I can be more conscious about now, because the story painted such a good picture of how everyone’s shortcomings affected the people they loved.

      2) Everyone In My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson. It really is Knives Out meets Richard Osman, as the cover blurb says. Some of the plot points felt convoluted in an unnecessary way, but it was great fun and I loved it. I warmed up to the narrator’s voice and humour very quickly. Even guessed the killer early on (though not the motive)! 100% will read the sequel.

    16. Lena Clare*

      I’m reading Tough Crowd by Graham Linehan and The Real Happy Valley by Alice Vinten – both non-fiction, which isn’t my usual preference. The latter is a collection of true stories about the experiences of police women on the front line in Yorkshire.

    17. Falling Diphthong*

      Gave a shot to Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng, about a boy named Bird missing, and eventually searching for, his poet mother who left due to political pressure. He’s living in a future America that seems very possible, if Moms for Liberty got everything they wanted in a world where our problems were all blamed on Asia. This is beautifully crafted but I found it bleak, and once I noticed myself doing the “You should read another chapter” obligation thing I decided to look up the ending. Which is very open ended. This is well crafted but just not up my current “Let’s have an adventure, like Murderbot” mindset.

    18. Falling Diphthong*

      I read the fourth Saint of Steel book by T. Kingfisher. Like the other books, love the characters and world, wish less time was spent on the romance and sexy times parts. Judith finally makes an appearance, and I love her and Wren, and not in the “I want to see them date someone” sense. (Having typed that, I realize that Wren and Judith are side characters, which sums up my reaction to the series: I love the White Rat problem solving aspect, and kinda shrug at the descriptions of each main character’s dreamy chest area.) Started Swordheart in the same world, in which a housekeeper accidentally acquires a magical guardian who lives in a sword. Hijinks ensue.

      Also started The Quiet at the End of the World about the last two young people on Earth, living in a community of people in their 80s and 90s after a sterilizing virus stopped humanity in its tracks. Based on a rec here and so far really compelling. (My library got it in yesterday; it’s not available on Kindle.)

      1. GoryDetails*

        I tend to agree re the “Saint of Steel” books – though I did enjoy the romance/sexy-times in “Paladin’s Hope”. But my favorite characters tend to be the secondary ones, and while I hope that Zale will get a book of their own one day, perhaps it’s better to leave that particular hypercompetent individual as seasoning? [Side note: Zale’s role in “Swordheart” – the first book I read in the “Saints”/”Clocktaur” ‘verse – is delightful, especially when Zale and Halla start conducting experiments to see just how the person-in-a-sword thing works!]

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The Saint of Steel novels are good but you are right that the romance novel aspect is kinda weird!

      3. Phryne*

        I follow Ursula Vernon (T Kingfisher) first on twitter and now on BlueSky, and she is delightfully funny and real, but strangely I’ve never tried one of her books. I guess mostly because she is known for horror, which is not really my genre, but the saints of steel books sound fun. I really need to try those.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          As someone who doesn’t do horror, I really recommend Nettle and Bone, in which the person to rescue the princess from her horrible husband is the princess’s 30 year old sister, a nun. It weaves seamlessly between following fairy tale tropes–which speak to us for a reason–and upending them.

          Also there is a possessed chicken.

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            I will say that while I read only one of her horror books, The Hollow Places, (This is well crafted! Yet horrifying!) I think it does give her an edge at creating interesting and unique unsettling situations for her characters in non-horror books. For example the second Saint of Steel book has synchronized rabbits with a hive mind–nothing bad happens, the heroes trade with the rabbits for some information, but the uncanniness really unsettles everyone.

        2. Jackalope*

          She’s got a pretty significant set of fantasy novels as well, which I would recommend. Some of those novels have slight horror aspects to them, but many do not, and even the ones that do are pretty enjoyable for those who don’t like horror (or at least that’s been my experience). If you go to her website, which is redwombatstudio dot com, the click on the link for Adult Books, it will take you to a page that has them divided up into horror, fantasy, and fantasy romance. You can look through them and see what appeals to you. There are also several great books on the Kids Books page, such as The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (main character has a batch of sourdough as her familiar!) and Summer in Orcus.

        3. word nerd*

          I second Jackalope’s recommendation of A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking for her non-horror!

        4. OtterB*

          I am not a horror fan at all. I do eventually read her horror books because I am an Ursula Vernon fan, and I find them within my horror tolerance. Actually, her fantasies and fantasy romances have creepy aspects as well. She has said that the first Saint of Steel book was supposed to be a fluffy romance but she was told that it had too many severed heads.

          If you haven’t read her graphic novel Digger, I highly, highly recommend it.

    19. English Rose*

      I’m in the middle of Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chen, which is fun but a little bit long-winded in parts.
      Recently I read The Last List of Mabel Beaumont by Laura Pearson. I can’t remember if I recommended it here before or maybe even heard about it here, but it’s one of those books that keeps coming back to me, it may even have been my favourite this year. Really a lesson in making choices.

    20. Irish Teacher.*

      Given that last week was Christmas, I have quite a few new books and in the last week, I have read The Chalet School and Jo, Poor by Katriona O’Sullivan and I was a Boy in Belsen.

      One thing that confused me a little about Poor was that it says the Back to Education Allowance no longer exists as it did back then, but I am…pretty sure it does.

    21. word nerd*

      I really enjoyed a biography on Alexander von Humboldt this week called The Invention of Nature. He was the “father of ecology” and had literally hundreds of animals, plants, and places named after him. Not nearly as well known now, but there are chapters devoted to how he influenced Goethe, Simon Bolivar, Darwin, Thoreau, etc. that are fascinating. It’s also a well-written, engaging read. 5/5

    22. The OG Sleepless*

      I was still getting over Covid and I wanted to read an entertaining thriller, so I read “Not a Happy Family” by Shari Lapena. I don’t recommend it; I don’t even know why I keep reading her books. It’s a fairly clunky whodunit and the only reason I finished it was I was just curious enough to want to know who done it.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        I had the same reaction to her books–kept trying in hopes that the next book would be better, but then gave up.

    23. Manders*

      I’m reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. I’m having a tough time getting into it because of the style – no periods at the end of a sentence, each sentence is its own paragraph, no capitalization at the beginning. Has anyone read this book?

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I read it for my book club last year. It took me a couple of times to get into the style, but once I did, I enjoyed it.

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I felt the same as you. Read the first two stories and didn’t finish it – moved on to something I was excited to start instead. Perhaps, if I’d had a paper edition, I might have come back to it later on. In ebook format on Libby, knowing there were people waiting in line so I couldn’t renew it, I didn’t feel I’d be able to take my time.

      3. Manders*

        Thanks guys! I’m generally not the type to not finish a book, but I just can’t get into this one. I think I’ll put it down for now and go on to something more enjoyable… Happy New Year!

    24. lissajous*

      Stumbled upon the Tea Princess trilogy by Casey Blair (first book is A Coup of Tea), and they are exactly the sort of cosy fantasy light read I’m looking for at this time of year. Delightful all around.

    25. Lilo*

      I just read Unruly by David Mitchell. It’s basically a comedian ranting about English history (through the Tudors), but I found it amusing.

      Side note, I went through my Libby tags today and realized there were so many books I was looking forward to reading but just never got around to after I borrowed them. Argh. Some day I’ll finish Priory of the Orange Tree before my hold expires.

      1. fposte*

        I liked Unruly more the more I thought about it. It is the book of a kid who was obsessed with royalty who became an adult who thinks reverence for royalty is crap, and makes a great, funny case for the latter. He has some funny interviews on YouTube about the book, too. I like that he’s a bit of an anti-romantic and that he’s less crazy about the movie-ready royals than the decent administrators.

    26. Industry Behemoth*

      G-Man, by Beverly Gage. It’s a biography of J. Edgar Hoover, 500 pages strong so taking awhile to read.

      So far, one fascinating fact is that law enforcement was considered a largely local matter before President Herbert Hoover took office. Before federal authorities were given their own arrest powers, if they needed someone arrested they had to have local police do it.

    27. Roadtripper*

      I recommend anything by Guy Gavriel Kay, especially Under Heaven and Children of Earth and Sky.

      I’m interested to read Samuel Pepys’ Diary and bewildered by all the versions — Does anyone have a recommendation?

      1. Mephyle*

        Sort of. My introduction to Sam was an abridged version but I can’t find it on my shelf now to tell you which one it was. When I later got hold of a complete version I found that I had liked the abridged one better. It was old, but I see on a December 18, 2018 entry on Pepys’ blog that there is a more recent abridged edition. The description of it makes it look recommendable.

        Check Pepys’ blog pepysdiary-dot-com for daily diary entries with annotations, and also occasional posts on published editions of the diary such as the one I referred to above.

    28. Nervous Nellie*

      One for me this week – I always give myself a book for Christmas, and this year, it’s The Big Bang of Numbers, by novelist/mathematician (there’s a slashie for you!) Manil Suri. I loved his book The Death of Vishnu, but didn’t know he is also good with numbers. Is he ever! Starting with a blank, non-existent universe, he builds one, chapter by chapter, with basic math, then geometry, then algebra, then patterns like the golden section & fractals, then physics. It’s lively and easily understood. A nice gift for the brain!

      1. word nerd*

        Sounds cool, I’ve put it on hold! Have you read Once Upon a Prime: The Wondrous Connections Between Mathematics and Literature? It was a fun one!

    29. GoryDetails*

      My books-in-progress include:

      Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble, by Alexis Hall – the second in Hall’s “Winner Bakes All” series centered on a wildly popular UK baking show (very much Great British Bake Off thinly disguised). (The first book, Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, was also fun.) In “Paris”, the protagonist is an anxious young man whose wealthy parents have pretty much forgotten he exists, and whose forthright roommate submitted an entry to the cooking show on his behalf. He struggles with what turns out to be a serious anxiety disorder, but manages to do pretty well for several episodes – and to fall for a handsome co-competitor – before things go pear-shaped. They’ll probably work out by the end of the book, but Hall does make his characters work for their happy – or even “moderately hopeful” – endings! [There’s a third book coming out, “Audrey Lane Stirs the Pot”.]

      Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls by Edward E. Leslie, a collection of accounts of people who were marooned or otherwise abandoned/lost – some of them managing to survive against all odds, others leaving only their bones and a scrawled account of their final days. The story of Alexander Selkirk, which inspired Defoe’s novel “Robinson Crusoe”, is among them.

      And on audiobook: Classic Monsters Unleashed, a horror anthology in which the tales are inspired by various classic monsters from literature and film. Some of the stories provide satisfying follow-ups to the original tales, while others present extremely dark re-imaginings. The various narrators do a good job, especially Chelsea Stephens.

      1. No name yet*

        I just finished Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble – picked it up because the cover of a rainbow cake was delightful, and read bc of the GBBO theme. Definitely enjoyed, now have the first one on my TBR list.

    30. Elle*

      After giving up on the movie Saltburn halfway through I decided to go to the original source. I just started Brideshead Revisted.

    31. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I’m reading the Year of the Tiger: An Activists Life in which disability activist Alice Wong describes her life and times. I’m kinda digging it?

      1. Ali + Nino*

        I read that a few months ago and I was very interested in hearing her perspective. Overall I enjoyed the book. What I did not enjoy was the random insertion of pages with declarations such as, “White people, shut the f— up.” That felt neither productive or necessary.

    32. Bibliovore*

      working my way through Barbra’s memoir. In turns fascinating and infuriating. I am about 500 pages in, so there is the sunk cost fallacy at work here.
      She hates when people gossip about her but has no problem sharing about others to “set the record straight.”
      She seems to have very little self-awareness.
      She has a desperate need to take credit for the tiniest things that loom large in her life but not so much in others. example- moments or scenes in her movies that she improvised or improved on.
      She takes credit for things that if you have any knowledge of the subject matter “ah, no”
      No, she did not invent dying cloth in tea to age them. Costumers have been doing that forever. (It seems that the people she surrounds herself with spend a lot of time ohhing and ahhing, oh that’s brilliant Barbra, how did you ever think of that Barbra?”)

      AND then she “schools” Mandy Patinkin on Judaism. He went to Jewish schools and her Jewish education ended when she was 9. (wikipedia …attending religious school daily “from the age of seven to 13 or 14” and singing in synagogue choirs, as well as attending the Camp Sura in Michigan.)
      I am thinking how great it would be on audio, to hear her voice, I would probably be less critical.

    33. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Been on a binge the last week or so.

      “Fortune Favors The Dead” by Stephen Spotswood. Hard-boiled, set in the 40s. Imagine if Nero Wolfe were a woman with MS and Archie Goodwin a queer woman who spent years in the circus. SO much fun. It’s the first in the series and I have the second on hold at the library.

      “Cut Me Loose” by Leah (now Jericho) Vincent. Memoir of her journey beyond her ultra-Orthodox upbringing. Read it in one sitting.

      “Vintage Contemporaries” by Dan Kois, which was recommended here when Alison mentioned a book by Laurie Colwin. Loved it for all the reasons I love Colwin.

      Now reading “Still Life” by Louise Penny because apparently I’ve been under a rock and didn’t meet Inspector Gamache until now. Love discovering a new series with lots of books ready and waiting for me!

    34. Seashell*

      I’m reading Henry Winkler’s memoir. I’m enjoying it, and it’s a pretty quick read. He’s pretty open about his personal shortcomings. You might have to be old enough to remember when Happy Days was on the air to appreciate it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I want to read that one. I love him. I got to meet him at Boston Fan Expo–I almost never pay to meet celebrities, but he was worth it. A lovely, sweet man.

    35. Clumsy Ninja*

      I’m reading As You Wish by Cary Elwes, about the making of The Princess Bride. I think I found out about it from a comment on AAM a few weeks or months ago. I’m really enjoying it so far!

    36. Bluebell*

      I just finished The Future by Naomi Alderman. I enjoyed it, and it blew my mind that she was also the author of Disobedience, which I read years ago. About to start The Golem of Brooklyn, which looks really fun.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        You also might enjoy Alderman’s “The Power”, which is set in a world in which women suddenly get the power to send electric shocks through their hands.

    37. carcinization*

      My mom got me one “reading book” and one cookbook that I asked for for Christmas. The former is The Absolute Book by Knox, which I was very taken with for the first couple of days I was reading it (it’s long), but that I haven’t picked up in a few days. I’m sure I’ll read some more of it tomorrow or the next day though.

    38. Late Bloomer*

      People have been recommending Donna Leon’s detective novels (Brunetti, in Venice) to me for probably twenty years, and I just never got around to them. Downloaded the first one from the library to read while on a work trip in early November . . . and now I’m on #14.

      1. allathian*

        They’re fun, although I admit I prefer the earlier ones. The fact that the characters don’t age while the world changes around them does bother me a bit, though. Or rather that the characters age maybe two years in 30.

        That said, the books killed my desire to visit Venice, as according to the author, Venetians absolutely detest tourists, while most businesses depend on them to survive.

    39. Ali + Nino*

      The War on the West by Douglas Murray. Not exactly a “fun” read but definitely compelling and, imho, important.

      1. Pippa K*

        The author is particularly noted for his anti-immigrant and anti- Muslim attitudes. That does, of course, have an audience, but those who aren’t aware of his views might want to know before picking up the book.

      2. Ali + Nino*

        Certainly, some critics might characterize his views that way. Others, Murray himself included, perhaps, might describe them as “anti-extremism.”

    40. Lemonwhirl*

      I’ve been using this week to read alll the books.
      – Under the Influence by Noelle Crooks – A young woman who is struggling in the gig economy ends up working for an influencer. Really interesting behind-the-scenes look at a toxic workplace.
      – Dark Corners by Megan Goldin – Second book in the Rachel Krall series. In this one, Rachel is summoned by the FBI to answer questions in the disappearance of a #vanlife influencer.
      – Murder Town by Shelley Burr – Her second book is set in a small dying town Ranier, which had been the site of a string of grisly murders and a true crime tour place wants to create a tour. Hard to summarize in a sentence, but a good read.
      – Penance by Eliza Clark – A disgraced journalist sets out to write the definitive account of a terrible murder by a bunch a school girls. Trigger warnings for everything. This book was hard to read but fascinating.

      And now I’m reading Antarctica by Claire Keegan.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I binged Under the Influence in like 24 hours. If anyone else here shares my weird fascination with the rise and fall of Rachel Hollis, this book is basically a memoir of the author’s time working for Hollis Co, with just enough details changed to avoid a lawsuit. I found it fascinating to get a behind the scenes look at how many people it actually took working long hours behind the scenes to create everything Rachel claimed to do on her own

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          I wondered who the influencer was – I was peripherally aware of Rachel Hollis but not enough to connect the dots.
          The book was soooo good – very readable. (And if you haven’t read “The Idol” by Louise O’Neill, you might also enjoy it. Different look at social media influencing and how things can go very wrong.)

    41. LB33*

      I just started “Devil’s Rock” by Paul Tremblay which I know I’m going to like because the first two pages was a rant about how the character despises her landline

  3. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. Did anyone get a new game for the holidays?

    1. Shiara*

      So many new games! Spouse and I have been late to discovering the delight that is Azul. And our small children are obsessed with the boardgame Outfoxed, but it’s still enjoyable for me despite the fact that we’ve played it at least ten times in the past week.

      1. Phryne*

        Azul is a great game. It was a best seller here, and almost everyone I know has it, but it is such a good game. It’s a game that works well for 2 players as well as three or four and as there are several different ways to play successfully, both tactical and non tactical thinking people can win. I even know people who normally dislike board games who do like this one.

        1. BlueMeeple*

          We love Azul too! The other games in the series are all great too, all with their slightly different twists. :) And so pretty and tactile!

        2. Lilo*

          Adding to the chorus that I love this game. It’s easy to start playing, too, which is a huge plus. I love boardgames but some are way too complex for a mixed game night.

        3. I take tea*

          Adding to the love for Azul. It has such a nice tactile element. The only complaint I have is that we often are five players and it’s for up to four…

    2. Amy Gee*

      My family and I have been playing Sea Salt & Paper, which is a card game. It is easy to learn and can be played in 20 minutes or so.

    3. Claire*

      I’ve been watching my teenagers play the game Hollow Knight on the Switch. The score is amazing, and it’s just darkly beautiful. It’s an old game (2019?) but my middle kid has loved its aesthetic for years, and has even downloaded the score arranged for solo violin to learn.

      1. Wordnerd*

        I am replaying Hollow Knight for the zillionth time this weekend! It’s amazing. If your teenagers like Let’s Play videos, the YouTube channel @PlayFrame has an excellent and family friendly full playthrough of HK (for after they’ve beaten the game/played as much as they feel like).
        Ori and the Blind Forest and its sequel Ori and the Will o’ the Wisps are also great and similar in format, but the aesthetics are a little brighter and the gameplay is more movement-focused than combat focused.

    4. English Rose*

      Back on the Sims4, having got the latest expansion pack, For Rent. It’s kind of fun being a landlord except when you have to get rid of roaches.

    5. The Dude Abides*

      Xmas Eve, our family (me, partner, her mom, her cousin, her aunt/uncle) plays Ship Captain Crew after dinner and gifts.

      This year, our 4yo decided to join in. She knew how to throw dice, and ended up winning two rounds.

      On the cardboard rectangle side, decided to wait a couple months before picking up cards from Ravnica Remastered – there are a *lot* of retro frame cards I want, but the preorder prices are insane.

    6. GoryDetails*

      I got a tabletop game from my sister and niblings: It’s inspired by Edward Gorey’s “The Evil Garden,” in which a family goes for a pleasant stroll and finds themselves in serious trouble:

      The nurse of whom they all were fond
      is sinking in the bubbling pond.

      The sky has grown completely black;
      It’s time to think of turning back.

      Fall down, or scream, or rush about –
      There is no way of getting out.

      [I do love Gorey!] The game includes a maze-like garden gameboard (with different mazes on each side), and several options for playing – a very-quick version, a more elaborate one, etc. Alas, we didn’t have time to try it while I was there, but I’m hoping to have a go next time we visit.

    7. Chriama*

      I just got a vr headset (oculus quest 2) and I’m looking for recommendations for free games. I already have Sidequest set up but not having much luck browsing through it for anything of interest and wondering if I need to adjust my search parameters or try another platform. So far I mostly play beatsaber, which is great, but for 350+ I feel like I’m not really making the best use of it.

      1. Phryne*

        The Room VR: A Dark Matter. I dont have a VR set, so have not played it, but I’ve played the 4 non VR The Room games in my phone and they were excellent puzzle games (can recommend!), and I have a friend who did play this VR one and liked it a lot too.

      2. Wordnerd*

        I don’t know how many games for the VR are going to be free, so I’m not able to answer that part. Feel free to ignore the rest!

        But the games I’ve enjoyed the most (in addition to BeatSaber) are Cubism and the I Expect You to Die series. Cubism is a visual puzzle, and IEYTD are fun spy-themed escape rooms, basically. (I get veeeery motion sick in real life and in some VR environments, but IEYTD is seated and the character doesn’t move from that “seat” much, so I’m able to handle it fine.)

        I started Moss and it was visually amazing, but some of the combat made no sense to me and I bounced off it. I tried the Last Clockwinder and it made me soooo very motion sick.

    8. heckofabecca*

      I played Ex Novo by Sharkbomb Studios for the first time—it’s a collaborative city design/development game! I played with one friend over Zoom, but it would be best played in person with pencil and paper. We had a great time, though, and I highly recommend it if you enjoy worldbuilding, etc!

    9. beep beep*

      I bought my sibling The Talos Principle 2, since it came out recently. The first game was pretty much all puzzles with some very strange surrealist story, and they report that this one is more story heavy, but they’re enjoying it. Myself, I bought a rhythm game called Melatonin, which I am pretty bad at yet but has lovely soft aesthetics, so I don’t mind :)

    10. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Chugging along in Lost Judgment, currently working through the School Stories. I do not care for the Robotics Club minigame but letting the AI drive most of the time makes it bearable (except at a certain point in the match where the AI wants to put a block literally anywhere except the one spot that will instantly win the match)

      I also got a nice little sub-$200USD mini PC to turn into an emulation console and I would have been happy if it could handle most of the PS2 library… and upon testing it with some games in my Steam library that also had PS3 releases, it’s starting to look like I’m getting way more bang for my buck than I counted on.

    11. carcinization*

      Got the 2000 version of Trivial Pursuit because it seemed like that was the best one we didn’t already have. Played it yesterday and we liked it.

    12. Leftovers for Dinner*

      We played Spyfall; it was someone’s present. Apparently our son played a lot of it at a bachelor party, but my mind doesn’t quite work they way it needs to in the game and I didn’t care for it. We also played Rollers, new to all of us. Someone had brought it with them. Trying to explain the rules of the game was hard, but after playing a few rounds we figured out what we were doing and I liked that one better! Also played Cards v Dice, which was…fine.

    13. SparklingBlue*

      I got the remake of Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for Christmas! I’m not very far in–just got the first star, and trying to remember how to get through Kero Sewers. But I’m excited to get Geno and see the new super moves

  4. Pocket Mouse*

    Warm socks in women’s sizes! I had a couple pairs that worked well for me, but one pair got stretched out and they seem to be available anymore. Specifically, I’m looking for socks that…
    -are actually warm, like REALLY warm – I’m looking for the socks you might wear to go camping in the snow, or ice fishing (I’m only half joking here)
    -are durable
    -cover the calf to just below the knee, and stay up
    -can be worn with boots or sneakers (this is about thickness around the foot, not fashion)
    -are available in women’s sizes or men’s smaller sizes (fits women’s 8/9 or men’s 6/7)
    -have a uniform feel (e.g. not tighter in the arch or a higher pile in the heel)

    To reiterate, I’m really looking for knee-high recommendations, but would also take crew length if you must gush about shorter socks you think are superb. They don’t need to be particularly fashionable, but ideally not neon (like ski socks of yore), camo pattern (like hunting socks), or pretty/cute/feminine design (like a lot of women’s socks).

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      I swear by alpaca socks from Caribbean Alpacas in NY. (Link in next comment.) Last winter the windchill on Christmas was about -25º F and those socks and my North Face boots kept my feet toasty warm!

        1. Tinamedte*

          Haha!

          But if we never groom the alpacas, they would end up like that strayed sheep in Australia (?) years back, that had kilos upon kilos of extra wool. And we wouldn’t wish that on anyone, now would we? :-)

    2. The Venerable Panda*

      What price point are you looking for? They’re on the pricey side, but I love Darn Tough’s Mountaineering Over-the-Calf Heavyweight Hiking Sock. Muted dark grey with just a little bit of blue. I’ve comfortably worn them in a pretty wide range of temperatures, so while they sound like overkill, they’re actually pretty versatile.

    3. LL*

      My husband and I love these alpaca wool socks from a seller on Etsy. The seller is called Roaring Acres Alpacas. They have farm and knit the socks themselves I believe. The best part is she sends photos of the alpacas when she sends the socks. My husband wears them cold weather camping and says they work great. They are super high quality.

    4. RLC*

      Smartwool has the best selection I’ve found for warm socks in a wide range of heights, sizes, colors, patterns, and insulation levels.

      1. Pippa K*

        Uniqlo Heattech socks. I bought some based on the recommendation of someone here a few weeks ago and love them so far!

      2. Minimal Pear*

        Ecosox are pretty good, I think they’re made of bamboo or something similar. I find that they retain some warmth when wet, although probably nowhere near as much as wool. My feet tend to be warm so I get their thin hiking socks, but they have thicker ones too. I do find that the hiking socks wear thin faster than I’d like but I’m pretty hard on them.

    5. And thanks for the coffee*

      You could look into battery heated socks. I got some for my husband a few years ago. He really liked them. I found them on Amazon. Batteries are rechargeable.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        I have some of these. USB rechargeable, best thing ever for Raynaud’s in a poorly insulated building.

    6. Reba*

      Have you ever tried a liner sock? For extra warmth I like a thin inner sock (like a sill sock liner) plus wool outer sock. Another tweak to try depending on your footwear would be sheepskin or wool insoles.

      1. Ranon*

        Wool insoles are such a great trick, I have some alpaca felt ones and they upgrade my shoe warmth basically a full season (fall/ winter/ deep winter around here, lol)

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      Columbia socks. I usually get them on discount at my local TJ Maxx, but you can get them direct from Columbia too. Warm, thick, sturdy, and available in (but not limited to) some nice dull gray/black options.

    8. Cocoa*

      Women’s Cozy Marled 2pk Crew Socks – Universal Thread™ 4-10 at Target

      I wear them around the house all through the fall and winter, so I’m not sure about camping or ice fishing, but maybe you could double them up if you can’t find anything else. They say they’re crew length, but they go up to my knees (so either they’re extra long or I’m just short).

    9. Girasol*

      I’m very fond of these crew sized men’s socks in tame but pleasant colors. When they come they’re clearly a men’s size 9 or so but after one washing they look tiny like a women’s size 7ish. They’re not ruined, though. They just stretch marvelously and stay thick and plushy. They’re lovely and warm under birkenstocks in winter.

    10. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

      Pacas. They’re crew socks but tick all the other boxes. Super soft, warm (they’re alpaca blend), and in a variety of colors including charcoal gray. Not cheap but well worth it.

    11. Cheshire Cat*

      Does anyone know if alpaca wool causes the same sensitivities as sheep’s wool? I can’t wear traditional wool but have wondered if alpaca wool would be different.

      1. All Monkeys are French*

        Alpaca fiber doesn’t contain lanolin, and the fibers have much smaller/smoother scales on the surface than wool does, so it tends not to itch. It probably depends on what, specifically, you are sensitive to in sheep’s wool.

        1. Once too Often*

          Alpaca wool also doesn’t have “memory” so you want alpaca blends for knit items like socks that you’d like to keep their shape.

  5. Cat Chemo*

    Does anyone have experience with a cat going through chemotherapy? One of our cats has been diagnosed with a kind of cancer that often requires chemo, and to deal with my anxiety while we wait for his consultation appointment, I’m trying to find out more about the practical and logistical side of how it works.

    How do appointments for injections/infusions usually work?

    I’ve read that some chemo drugs can be excreted and you need to be careful with the cat’s litter. How do you deal with that in a multi-cat household?

    1. Casper Lives*

      I can’t answer that exact question but for the litter, you might need to separate out the cats and dispose of the litter properly.

      I had a cat get radioactive iodine treatment for thyroid cancer. His excretions were radioactive for two weeks. The litter either had to be non clumping and flushed down the toilet daily, or held for 3 months before disposal. Neither are easy.

      I’ll say that I was willing to do the treatment because there’s a high rate of success (70-80%) for curing and he suffered a relatively short amount in treatment (6 days in hospital, 2 weeks by himself in a room except me 30 min/day). I wish you luck.

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        Wow! One of our cats was recommended for radioactive iodine treatment, but where we were living it was required that the cat be boarded at the vet’s for 12 weeks. Apparently we civilians are not trusted to properly handle radioactive waste.

        I was in favour of it because he was quite young with no other known health problems, and had a resilient disposition that I thought could handle the boarding aspect. But my husband was opposed, so we just went ahead with giving the medicine orally. Fortunately, he didn’t mind the medicine, because he did live for years after his diagnosis. We probably spent as much on the medicine as the treatment AND boarding would have cost, but it was well worth it. He was a lovely boy.

        1. Casper Lives*

          I’m happy to hear that! He sounds like a wonderful and chill guy. I looked into it and the research had cats live a median of 2 years after treatment. So your cat beat the odds! I understand both of your perspectives on it. I don’t think there’s a right answer on so many pet health issues.

          My boy was a senior (13) but had no other health issues, good bloodwork, and no evidence of kidney issues being masked during his medication trial. I would’ve kept him on the medication as that was easy to give. Unfortunately he had an unusual reaction of liver injury (and subsequent pancreatitis). :/

          The vet said either iodine treatment or let him go because he was suffering. Most hyperthyroid cats have a benign tumor. His grew so quickly they suspected cancer. The administering vet said they’d never seen T4 levels over 20. He was completely cured.

          I’m not sure if that’s true but I don’t regret it. He got another two years of a good life and passed at home of a suspected sudden embolism or heart attack this year. I loved him so much. I ended up getting a sweet “older” kitten of 6 months pretty quickly after his passing. Not to replace him but I missed his chatty, social, sassy personality in my house. :) My other cat is shy and wants affection on her terms.

        2. JSPA*

          we had a week of required boarding. But the treatment was too much– within 12 months the cat was hypothyroid and on thyroxine pills (which was NOT easier than methimazole, and a real headache when one cat was hypo and one hyper, and sharing litterboxes).

        3. Heffalump*

          Some years ago, I had my cat (who was an only cat) treated with radioactive iodine for hyperthyroidism. The clinic told me I’d have to put the litter in a sturdy container that couldn’t be opened easily. I found one of those heavy-gauge square plastic buckets that had originally contained cat litter in the dumpster for my apartment building. Apparently one of my neighbors bought litter in larger quantities than I did. I described the bucket to my contact at the clinic and said I’d found that it took some serious tugging to get the lid off, and she said that would be fine. I forget how long the radioactivity in the litter was an issue, but I think it was a few weeks. I think that if flushing the litter down the toilet were allowed, I would have done it, as that would have been more convenient. The clinic said that if too many people disposed of radioactive litter improperly, the government would clamp down, and the treatment would become unavailable. In my cat’s case the treatment was successful.

          Interestingly, the vet said that people who undergo radioactive iodine treatment for Graves disease are advised to use the bathroom just as they normally do.

          1. Mztery1*

            Our cat had the radioactive iodine treatment many years ago, by a doctor, who specialized in that treatment. What they did that was different from what most other vets do was give the cat, a tiny bit of radioactive iodine before the treatment to see how big the tumor was because giving the iodine by weight is just guess work. Our cat recovered completely, and lived from many more years afterwards. I still miss that doctor — our options. Now, if we had a cat with a similar problem would be good to go to UC Davis or to one of the freestanding clinics that offers the treatment. Neither does this specialized Pre-treatment dosage.

    2. TPS reporter*

      my cat was able to just take pills as chemo every two weeks. sometimes she was fine with the pills in a pill pocket and other times it was hard to get her to take them. I had to be careful to wear gloves when handling the pill and make sure to wear gloves in cleaning the litter box. I also have multiple cats and just didn’t worry too much about the other cats. she didn’t end up lasting very long on the chemo.

      At first she was completely fine during treatment then ended up having bouts of extreme nausea which could have been from the pills or the cancer.

    3. Daily Fan*

      One of our cats had a pill form of chemo. It worked really well, she lived for 2 years and her quality of life was great up until the last couple of days. The pills were very expensive through the vet hospital and the local vet but I was able to get her meds through a mail order vet for about a tenth of the cost. Sorry I can’t remember the name…it was either in New Mexico or Arizona. I used gloves to handle the pills, kept a couple of differnent litter boxes. The other cat seemed to sense he should avoid the one she used. Good luck! Sending both you and your pet hugs!

      1. Cat Chemo*

        Thanks. We do have a couple different litter boxes, and the cat in question currently uses both, but maybe we can find a way to get him to use one specifically.

    4. Geezercat*

      I’m a veterinary technician that works in Internal Medicine. without knowing what type of cancer, it is impossible to answer. If you check back in with the diagnosis, I’d be happy to try and answer questions. That said….at your consult with treating veterinarian (presumably a veterinary oncologist), they will cover all of that in detail. Start writing down your questions now to bring with you to the consult (I promise, they are used to this). Keep up any and all supportive measures until the consult, and reach out to your family vet if anything worries you prior to the oncology visit. This period of waiting is THE HARDEST part.

      1. Cat Chemo*

        Thanks. I sure hope this is the worst part, it’s been nerve-wracking dealing with trying to get the appointment made and evaluating whether he needed the stopgap medication across two holiday weekends. But he did get put on the medication as of yesterday and seems to be feeling much better.

    1. Morning Dew*

      I never heard of this until you mentioned it so I checked it out and did one video. It’s by Trifecta Pilates and she had a simple, not-too-long beginners wall pilates. I really liked it.

  6. Rainy*

    Fish hobby question!

    Has anyone kept pea puffers? We saw them at our LFS when we were grabbing some fresh shrimp for our yellow fire colony and they are *enchanting*. We’re strongly considering a little species tank setup with a few of them.

    1. Snell*

      I hesitated to comment because I don’t have useful info for you, but I, like you, have been charmed by pea puffers, and the urge to enthuse about something won out. I’ve thought about it but never kept them, and most of my argument holding me back comes down to the part where I hear they’re little assholes—hence, as you say, the necessity of a single-species tank.

      1. Rainy*

        I’ve read some stuff online that says that it really depends on the puffer how aggressive they are, so once you get a setup going, after observing the puffer for a while you might find you can include a fish they are unlikely to go after (I’ve seen otocinclus and bumblebee gobies mentioned).

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Thanks for the coffee in my sinuses, Snell… lol
        Was reading this thread because I know zero about fish and was curious. Had no idea fish could be “little assholes!”

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            Wow. I guess so! Went down the google Cichlid hole and one of the first things that came up was “How to deal with fish bullies!”

            1. Rainy*

              Angelfish are also bullies–if you google “my angelfish is bullying” there will be a MILLION articles lol.

    2. Jackie Daytona, Regular Human Bartender*

      Yes, I had three pea puffers in a 10 gallon tank with LOTS of plants. They can be aggressive with one another so the plants break up their lines of sight.

      I kept them with a couple loaches, which they cohabitated with fine, but the loaches pretty much hid all the time so weren’t interesting to look at. If were doing it again, I’d just do the puffers. The puffers are fun to look at.

      1. Rainy*

        That sounds like the setup I’m thinking about. I’m turning my rasbora tank sometime soonish (I got them a 20g long for more swimming room) so I’ll have a spare 10g knocking around. All my tanks are very heavily planted, mostly with 8 million crypts (they just keep making more crypts), but also some java moss, anubias, guppy grass, water wisteria, and floating plants. I figure I’ll start the tank up and make some guppy grass and water wisteria cuttings so I get some height on them before the puffers go in. I’ll also spring for some bigger chunks of driftwood and rock than usual to break up the sight lines in the tank even more. I don’t want to have other fish in there if the puffers will just stress them out, and of course none of my precious shrimp! :)

        We’re hoping to move out of state in the future but I’m tired of not doing stuff with my fish! My hope is that whatever tank stock we have when we move, I can arrange with my LFS to hold and ship to us (or via our new LFS) when we get there.

      1. Rainy*

        RIGHT?! They’re *so* cute! My LFS has a tank of them and we looked in and it was like that “did we just become best friends?!” scene.

    3. All Hail Queen Sally*

      Oh my goodness…I have a song I just have to share because it is about fish, and when else would I be able to share it? It is from MAD magazine some time in the late 1960’s. Hope you like it. Sung to the tune of My Favorite Things from the musical The Sound of Music:

      Black shiny mollies and bright colored guppies
      shy little angels as gentle as puppies.
      Swimming and diving with scarcely a swish,
      these were just some of my tropical fish.

      Then I bought mantas that sting in the water,
      deadly piranhas that itch for a slaughter,
      savage male bettas that bite with a squish,
      now I have many less tropical fish!

      If you think that, fish are peaceful,
      that’s an empty wish.
      Just dump them together and leave them alone,
      And soon you will have–no fish!!

      Yes, that song has been rattling around in my head for the past 55 years. Sorry!

      1. Rainy*

        Lol, amazing! Thank you for sharing :)

        (It’s true, too…very important to know the habits of the fish you are considering!)

  7. Teapot Translator*

    Shall we do a list of our favourite books read in 2023?

    I’ll start:

    Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
    Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong investigate the disappearance of the Science Mistress.

    84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    Twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff and a used-book dealer in London (non-fiction).

    The Case of the Missing Servant_ by Tarquin Hall
    Vish Puri, an Indian private investigator, investigates the disappearance of a servant, a young woman known only as Mary.

    Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
    I’m not sure how to summarize this one. Piranesi lives a house (a palace?) out of the ordinary. The only other person he sees is The Other, who visits, but does not live there.

    Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    This is a letter from the author to his adolescent son. I listened to it as an audiobook.

    The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie
    Another one I’m not sure how to summarize… This stayed with me afterwards.

    Things I Don’t Want to Know by Deborah Levy
    First in a series of autobiographic books. It’s about writing and living.

    Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty
    Science-fiction murder mystery in space.

    1. MP*

      This is so hard but love the idea! In no particular order:

      The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
      The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
      The Golden Couple and You Are Not Alone both by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

      I am sure I passed over some, I tried not to think too hard about it.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      “This is How You Lose the Time War” by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone – It was very weird and took a long time for me to get into, but beautifully written and comes together in a really satisfying way.

      “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro – reread, it’s so good.

      “What If It’s Us” by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera – cute YA romance with excellent audiobook narrators.

      “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson – I re-read at least one of her books every year.

      “Emergency Contact” by Mary HK Choi – another cute romance, they fall in love mainly via text because they’re awkward in person, it’s great.

        1. Heffalump*

          Didn’t read the book, did see the movie. Any book or movie that starts with a really original premise has a big advantage with me right out of the gate.

          The scene where they’re awkwardly ordering food in a restaurant is kind of the opposite of the pattymelt scene in Five Easy Pieces.

          Trivia fact: For her role in this movie, Carey Mulligan had to acquire this skill that you’d think someone her age would have already had: driving a car.

    3. Janesfriend*

      I’ve just read The Duchess of Bloomsbury St (the sequel to 84 Charing Cross Rd) and it was so charming and delightful, I just had to reply to tell you to read it immediately! Helene visits London and it is just lovely and cozy and an antidote to the world.

      1. Pamela Adams*

        I just ran across my copy of Letters from New York, Hanff’s collection of stories for the Women’s Hour. Time to reread!

      2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Have you read her Underfoot in Show Business? Another excellent book which focuses on her time in New York City theaters trying to make it as a playwright.

    4. owen*

      in more or less reverse order to how i read them:

      System Collapse, Martha Wells (murderbot diaries #7, and also murderbot diaries #1-#6 which i ended up rereading)

      Conservation of Shadows, Yoon Ha Lee (sf short story collection, all of which are good, some of which are brilliant)

      Unmasking Autism, Devon Price

      How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Charles Yu

      A Psalm for the Wild-Built, & A Prayer for the Crown-Shy, both by Becky Chambers

    5. Annie Edison*

      Ooh yes! In no particular order:
      Chain Gang All-Stars
      Demon Copperhead
      Unsheltered
      Honey and Spice
      Olga Dies Dreaming

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        What did you think of Demon Copperhead? I usually love Barbara Kingsolver but never got into The Lacuna.

        1. Annie Edison*

          It was one of my top favorite books I read all year. I loved how it was both compassionate and unflinching, and the reminder that humans will always find love and beauty regardless of hardship.
          The idea of a money versus land economy was also really fascinating to me, and the discussion of how the community was always there for each other, regardless of how little they had, because they knew they’d be supported in turn when they needed it

          It’s been several years since I read The Lacuna, but I think I remember it being a slow start that I eventually got very into

    6. Cookies For Breakfast*

      In no particular order, best fiction:

      – The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans
      – Home Remedies by Xuan Juliana Wang
      – Urgent Matters by Paula Rodríguez
      – I’m Sorry You Feel That Way by Rebecca Wait

      Best nonfiction:

      – Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe
      – McMafia by Misha Glenny
      – Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty
      A rip-roaring tale of the sea, set on and around the Arabian Sea about 800 years ago. A retired/hiding pirate captain is appealed to for help, and she gets the old crew back together to do one last job… This is a ton of fun and I highly recommend.

      Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher
      One of her stories that embraces and up-ends fairy tale tropes. In which the person who is going to save the beautiful princess from her marriage to a nightmare of a prince is her sister the nun.

      Rebel With a Clause by Ellen Jovin
      Have you ever thought about traveling the nation with a little table you set up to listen to people’s grammar rants, answer their grammar questions, and correct their grammar for free?

      An Immense World by Ed Yong
      Animal senses, way beyond the five we commonly think of. Endlessly fascinating “wow, I never knew that/ never thought about this” details about new ways to interpret the world.

    8. dreamofwinter*

      I’m bad at keeping track, but I did recently read Starter Villain by John Scalzi, and highly recommend it to the commentariat here. The cats are management, which should be all you need to know.

      1. Lilo*

        I haven’t read that one yet, but I gave it to my Dad.

        I loved Kaiju Preservation Society but you have to confront some 2020 vibes to read it which is a bit hard.

        I’ve noticed we’re now at the stage where the pandemic is creeping into fiction a bit more (major plot point in Romantic Comedy) and part of me really struggles with that because I’m honestly mostly an escapism reader.

    9. RussianInTexas*

      Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of Lusitanian, by Erik Larson
      A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot to Take Over America, and the Woman Who Stopped Them, by Timothy Egan
      The Crown Colony mystery series by Ovidia Yu

    10. Elizabeth West*

      Some of my faves this year:

      Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel – post-pandemic apocalypse fiction. I had this on my Kindle forever and finally read it in 2023 and loved it.

      The Coworker by Frieda McFadden – Gen Z workplace thriller with a twist. Ward D was also fun, if a bit gorier – med student on psych rotation trapped with a killer.

      The Merry Dredgers by Jeremy C. Shipp – woman goes undercover into a cult living in a defunct amusement park to find out what happened to her sister, by an NB author.

      Black River Orchard by Chuck Wendig – full-bore horror about a new variety of apple (Chuck is an heirloom apple aficionado and I expected him to do this, lol).

      The Starless Crown and The Cradle of Ice by James Rollins – fantasy series with giant bats, a chosen one, and a falling moon from the author of the Sigma Force military thrillers. Interesting worldbuilding and I need to know what happens next, so he’d better finish this!

      They Knew: How a Culture of Conspiracy Keeps America Complacent by Sarah Kendzior – a bleak look at the difference between conspiracy and conspiracy theory, with a lot of mourning over a soon-to-be-lost democracy (if we don’t do something, which we probably won’t).

      The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias – paranormal/noir/crime/horror novel about a man at the end of his rope who makes some very bad decisions. It won the Stoker and Shirley Jackson awards.

      Starter Villain and The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi – secret villain lairs and giant monsters, respectively. The first one had me laughing out loud on the bus!

    11. Girasol*

      The best thing I’ve read this year was, surprisingly, a graphic novel, Digger Unearthed. The protagonist is a woman, a cheerful, capable wombat miner (yes, wombat) who is unintentionally involved in a quest with other characters that are also remarkably charming. Multiple interesting cultures figure in the story, as well as a sort of “momma always told me” morality.

    12. Bluebell*

      AAM faves – thanks for these recs!
      Babel – RF Kuang
      Adventures of Amina Al Sirafi – Shannon Chakraborty
      Remarkably Bright Creatures- Shelby Van Pelt

      Sentimental choices
      Vintage Contemporaries- Dan Kois
      The Hero of this Book – Elizabeth McCracken

      Wild cards
      Good Talk – Mira Jacob – thought provoking and funny graphic novel
      Madame Restell- Jennifer Wright – biography of the famous 19th century abortionist and midwife

    13. Professor Plum*

      Some of this years favorite reads include:

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

      Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

      The Secret Life of Flora Lea by Patti Callahan Henry

      The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    14. goddessoftransitory*

      Okay, let’s see…

      The Infinite Blacktop, by Sara Gran
      Third in her Claire DeWitt mystery series, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Start with the first; Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead.

      Paperbacks from Hell
      HorrorStor
      The Final Girl Support Group
      All by Grady Hendrix. The first is a nonfiction overview of the paperback horror boom of the 70s-80s, the other two are fiction.

      Burning Questions, by Margaret Atwood
      A collection of essays by the author.

      American Girls in Red Russia, by Julia Mickenberg
      A history of the artists and writers who went to the USSR in the post war years.

      That’s all I can dredge up at the moment until I get home and look at my bookshelves. I got Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders for Christmas, and bought myself the Emily Wilson translations of The Iliad and The Odessey, so I’m set for a while!

      1. BlueMeeple*

        Favourites from this year, ( easily listed, thanks to Goodreads! :) ).

        Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – Hollow Men by Una McCormack. ( A Star Trek novel about two of my favourite characters, Garak and Sisko!)

        Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers.
        ( An epistolary novel, one of my favourite genres, with notes on the refrigerator door.)

        Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.
        (Epistolary, this time with e-mails.)

        The Babylon File series by Andy Lane.
        ( A geeky, detailed look at Babylon 5, one of my favourite TV series.)

        Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.
        ( Another epistolary novel!)

        The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune.
        Under The Whispering Door by T. J. Klune.
        (Beautifully written novels, both from A.A.M. recommendations! )

        The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan.
        ( A heart warming tale from the home front.)

        Getting better: life lessons… by Michael Rosen.
        (I found this really inspirational.)

        The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett.
        (More epistolary work! Janice Hallett is excellent.)

        The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko by Benjamin Atiko.
        (More Sisko books!)

        Yours From The Tower by Sally Nicholls.
        (Another epistolary one! There’s a theme here…)

        Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell.
        (A beautifully written fantasy book.)

        Patricia C Reade’s Sorcery and Cecilia series.
        (Epistolary series with real wit and charm. I loved it!)

    15. carcinization*

      I’m really bad with knowing what books I read in the past year, but I know I read Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds in the past couple of months and was really impressed.

    16. Mrs. Frisby*

      I had a really good reading year, with more 5 star reads than normal. Some of my favorites:

      Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I just thought this was a wonderful, immersive read and I loved how surly the octopus was!

      Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. Another immersive read where I loved the characters and the way the story was revealed with lovely surprises throughout.

      Small Spaces by Katherine Arden. Fun and SPOOKY middle grade horror. Loved it, and horror is not normally my jam.

      Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. Didn’t want to read this, but did for book club, and this is why I’m in a book club.. Would NEVER have picked it up on my own, but loved it!

      The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman. I’ve really enjoyed all of the Thursday Murder Club books, but this 4th book in the series really hit me in the feels. I just adore these characters.

      Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I somehow missed this as a child and absolutely ADORED it as an adult. I still think about the “raspberry cordial” and giggle.

      There were more that I enjoyed a lot, but these are the ones that have stuck with me and that I keep thinking about.

    17. Lemonwhirl*

      “The Fourth Child” by Jessica Winter
      A really rich and textured look at complicated families and secrets. The story of a mother who decides to adopt a child from Romania. But it’s also more than that.

      “After I’m Gone” by Laura Lippman
      Multifaceted exploration of the fallout of a man’s disappearance on the women he left behind – his wife, daughters, and mistress. Told from multiple viewpoints in both the past and the present. (Also read and loved Lippman’s “Prom Mom” this year.)

      “The Girl With All the Gifts” by MR Carey
      Hard to summarize and I went in knowing just about nothing, which I think is a good approach. It’s a post-apocalypse story.

      “Whalefall” by Daniel Krause
      Wow, maybe the best book I’ve read all year. A teenager gets swallowed by a whale while trying to find his father’s body.

      “Bright Young Women” by Jessica Knoll
      Also up there on the best list for me. It’s the story of the women who were effected by a serial killer who is never named in the book but is Ted Bundy.

      Honorable mentions, because I think they’ve already been recommended by Alison or mentioned in this thread:
      “Yellowface” by RF Kuang, “I Have Some Questions for You” by Rebecca Makkai, and “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt

      Best audiobooks: “Everybody Knows by Jordan Harper, “Exiles” by Jane Harper, “Night Swim” by Megan Goldin

  8. Casper Lives*

    New pet thread!

    I’ve got a new kitten. I couldn’t be happier. 6 months old, orange and white, and wormed his way into my other cat’s good graces in less than a month. Basically the best boy ever.

    Does anyone else have new pets to share?

    1. TPS reporter*

      aww he sounds like such a sweetheart.

      my new boy is maybe 3 years old. he was found on the street and has some battle scars. but he is a real sweetheart and treats the other older cats respectfully. he’s almost afraid of them even though they’re 10 years older.

      he has long hard, something I have never dealt with in any prior cats. there was an emergency groom that had to happen due to a loose stool problem. he got over it quickly though. I have to figure out how to maintain his beautiful coat without freaking him out too much.

      1. Casper Lives*

        Aww a retired warrior! He’s lucky to be with you. I’ve had long haired cats. Does he like the slicker brush at all? Maybe you can try brushing head and neck (most cats like that), then rewarding with a treat. Working up to longer grooming sessions.

        I found a metal comb worked best for removing impacted fur and preventing matting. My cats didn’t like getting groomed in their rear and stomach areas but that’s where they needed it as they aged. At the end, I did have to lay them on their sides and go for it while they yelled. I finished with the head brushing they loved and a tube treat.

        1. TPS reporter*

          he’s okay with the brush in head and neck then gets ornery for back and belly. which of course have the mats. I’ll keep trying and just going as fast as possible. plus he does love the meat tubes

    2. osmoglossom*

      Congrats on the new kitten! I adore orange cats. What a smart baby for winning over your other cat.

      I adopted my neighbor’s cats; sadly, she can no longer care for them. One is a tuxedo with a delightful milk mustache and the other is a chonky brown tabby with swirls of darker brown on his sides and a speckled belly. Chonky cats rule. They moved in last Thursday and have been slowly acclimating to their new home. They’re older boys who did not get a lot of affection because of their skittish personalities. I’m hoping they’ll blossom in a different environment. I haven’t had furbabies since 2014 so this is a treat.

    3. intothesarchasm*

      We have a 2.5 year old Gordon Setter that is new to us – he came out of a sort of accidental neglect situation (owner passed unexpectedly) and has some health issues. The breeders took him back and got him mostly back to health and we were lucky enough to be able to bring him home. He is an absolute love!

    4. Slartibartfast*

      My little Boston Terrier recently turned 1. We got her on the way home from a classic rock concert, the band has a black and white aesthetic so she’s named Trixie in their honor.

    5. Lilo*

      I adopted a new cat 3 months ago (shelter said she was 2 but she’s grown significantly? I looked at old photos and she’s definitely gotten bigger, not just fatter (she was underweight and I suspected she’d just weaned some kittens (she’s fixed now)).

      It feels like she’s always been here. She’s quite opposite to my old man cat, who was very quiet and kept to himself most of the time. She’s very much a constant sidekick cat who will physically jump on you for attention.

      1. Casper Lives*

        I foster cats. Nursing mamas tend to be skinny and slightly underweight when nursing. They gain it back after kittens wean. :) Congratulations on your new cat!

    6. All Monkeys are French*

      We have a new dog! He’s a young pit mix, a year or so old. He’s adorable and great with our cats, though we have some challenges to work on (housetraining and being left home alone chief among them). It’s been really nice having a reason to get out and walk in this dark, wet season.

    7. Kayem*

      We’re waffling on whether to get a new kitten, which is being offered by a coworker who needs to find homes for his fosters. On one hand, we have a highly rambunctious Manx who really needs a friend to play with her (the other cat, a calico lady of distinction, wants none of this nonsense). On the other hand, the Manx is special needs and is finally stable and I have two months of downtime to catch up on all my neglected projects before going back to work. I don’t relish the idea of spending that time introducing a cat and having to deal with fallout if the Manx backslides. Plus, kittens are easier to adopt out and we try to adopt only the ones that are older, special needs, or no one wants. But the Manx really needs a friend and kittens are my kryptonite, so I might lose this battle.

    8. Mobie's Mom*

      We got a new rescue dog a couple months ago, Mobius, a.k.a. Mobie. The best good boy! Maybe a pittie-lab mix, no one is sure. A solid 60 lbs. Maybe a year and a half. Has had some training, which is a nice bonus!

  9. chocolate muffins*

    Do you have resolutions for the new year and if so, what are they? I have the same resolutions each year, like walking 10k steps a day (a thing I do mostly so that at the end of every day I can feel like I accomplished something), and I’m not sure that it’s a proper resolution if it’s the same one every year. Other than that, I have a good feeling about 2024 after a few years of having a not good feeling about the upcoming year, so my intent is to enjoy the year as much as possible. What about you all?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      I basically just always reset all the old resolutions each year. Better sleep/food/exercise habits, read 40 books (I’ve found this is a challenging but not impossible number for me – I usually end up somewhere in the mid 30s), be more mindful about specific things in my life that are easy to let slide. 2 specifics I want to work on this year are actually using a mental health workbook I bought quite awhile ago, and relearning how to play piano.

    2. Saturday*

      Here are mine:
      Get more sleep, get more exercise, get more organized, set up a regular cleaning schedule, meditate more, don’t feed my mind so much internet junk food (I feel like I’m losing my ability to focus because of that last thing).

    3. Aphrodite*

      I haven’t done resolutions in many years. I prefer to select a WORD of the year and focus on that without limitation. In 2023, for example, the word was “abundance.” It was abundance in all things, not just financial. and I don’t choose the word as much as the word chooses me by feeling right.

      1. Elle Woods*

        I love that. I do a word of the year as well and take part in a class led by Ali Edwards. My word for 2024 is LESS. I want to explore what having less brings me more of.

        1. Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood*

          Oh this is so great. I have been dreaming (literally) of a major purge and downsizing our house – I may need to copy you!

    4. ThatGirl*

      I choose goals and projects – this year I saw my friends a bunch, kept up an exercise habit, got a bunch of small house projects done. My goals for 2024 are in progress but are things like: get new shelves in the laundry room, clean out my spice cabinet, get a new bookshelf for the guest room, increase strength training, see my friends at least every other month, pay off my car loans…

    5. Reba*

      I usually don’t do resolutions or New Year related habit changes… But this year I am going to start composting our food waste! My city offers it, I can drop it at the farmers market that is 10 minutes walk from my home, it almost couldn’t be any easier.

      I love that yours is basically an attitude!

      1. Gyne*

        Bonus that it’s a 10 minute walk – that’s just long enough to be a decent trip, too short to drive (except maybe in pouring rain), so a great weekly ritual for exercise and mind clearing, especially the walk home, unencumbered by a week’s worth of food waste!

    6. Distractable Golem*

      I chose enjoyable resolutions. Some past ones:
      -watch more good television (yes)
      -eat more cheese (yes)
      -take more naps (no)
      -text a different friend each week (mostly)
      -biggest fail: 2020’s was “try different restaurants”

      1. Kat*

        Yes on the cheese! For the past couple of years mine has been to buy the nice cheese year round rather than just in December. I normally tail off as we get into summer (hence being surprised by how lovely it is to have a nice selection of cheese and making the resolution in multiple Decembers), but it makes the start of the year so much more enjoyable.

    7. allathian*

      I’ve never been able to keep a NY resolution past February until 2010 when my resolution was to stop making resolutions that I wasn’t going to keep.

    8. Still*

      Mine is more of a vibe and the vibe is “community”. As in, say yes to and actively seek out things that bring me closer to the people around me, whenever the opportunity presents itself.

    9. Anima*

      I usually don’t do new years resolution, but this time I need one: leave one (1) day per week as a free day, no work, no school. If I don’t that most weeks, my mental health will not survive the next semester. So, I’m trying to hold myself accountable via new year’s resolution.

    10. Middle Sister*

      I want to be nicer, specifically to my sisters. It’s too easy to be snippy and jump to uncharitable judgments when you’ve got three decades of baggage, so I want to try to treat them like I would new-ish friends and give them the benefit of the doubt more.

    11. English Rose*

      I recently got diagnosed with high cholesterol so mine are definitely health-related: eat more plants less animal fat, ease into a regular excercise routine.

    12. Falling Diphthong*

      I really hope your good feeling is founded.

      I try not to time changes to the New Year since that has such a tradition of trickling off by the 8th. (And I’m noncompetitive, so challenges get a “You can’t make me” reaction and don’t work as motivation.) So in December I saw a person who does gentle passive stretching to align muscles that have gotten out of whack. (The story of my middle age.) And saw a trainer at the gym where I swim to teach me how to use the hydraulic weight machines. After a few years of having my health battered, hoping to get physically stronger with less fatigue.

    13. Minimal Pear*

      Mine is to make some progress towards getting my driver’s license. I am WELL past the age where one is meant to do it.

    14. Turtle Dove*

      Seconding ThatGirl on setting goals. I tried resolutions when I was younger, but the “don’t mess up” pressure made me miserable. I do best taking baby steps toward a deadline and keeping it loose with days off and a positive attitude. When all the baby steps are done, I enjoy a small reward. For 2024, my goals have a theme: more of what makes me happy! That’s more traveling, writing, spending time with friends, beautifying my home, and challenging myself to a few items on my “always wanted to try this” list.

    15. My Brain is Exploding*

      I just call them goals and plans for the next year, like ideas for trips, what kinds of house projects we might do, etc. Last year I involved a couple of friends with my goals and that was fun! Example: one friend, who also has a box of recipes torn out from magazines and newspapers decided with me to try two new recipes a month (we didn’t do the same ones). So it was fun talking about what we’d tried. I actually haven’t thought much yet about 2024, yikes! With a family member due to have a baby and an elderly family member considering moving here, that’s already a lot. There’s a basement project we need to finish, a long-distance friend with whom I may do our own made-up block of the month quilt, and get a new email provider (UGH and change our email address with a LOT of people and businesses).

    16. The OG Sleepless*

      Mine is to read all of the books I have acquired and never read, or at least give them a substantial enough try to DNF in good conscience. Seriously, I have enough books to last me all year this way.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        That is a good idea. I need to do that as well. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading books and would like to start again.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I have enough for SEVERAL. And my Amazon Wish List where I keep a record of “ohhh, that sounds neat!” is ridiculous as well.

      3. beware the shoebill*

        I’m doing a “book challenge” with some coworkers where we commit to reading books we own but haven’t read yet to the tune of one to two per month, and share what we think of them with each other.

      4. Ladybug*

        Oh this is such a good idea! I have enough unread books probably for 3-4 years!

        And as soon as I’ve spent my Christmas book tokens on new books, I will definitely do this!

    17. Isabel Archer*

      I have a real profanity problem. For years, my only resolution was “curse less.” Inevitably, a few days into January I’d say “f*** that resolution.” ;-)

      On the more positive side, I’m going to try something called “habit stacking,” which is a way to launch new good habits in a way that you can stick with rather than giving up on after a week. Won’t help with stopping bad habits (too much screen time, etc.), but if you’re looking to incorporate some small positive changes with big cumulative benefits, check it out. I read an article about it in WaPo but it’s apparently also in some recent books on the subject of behavior change.

      Good luck to everyone with all resolutions, big and small!

      1. Turtle Dove*

        Habit stacking has worked well for me. At bedtime I started with brushing my teeth and gradually added taking my vitamins, setting out my morning medication, changing the cats’ upstairs water, and scooping the cats’ upstairs litter box. Recently I’ve added a goodnight petting for our elderly cat. Each step takes a few seconds to a few minutes, so no big deal. It’s weirdly gratifying to grow a routine. P.S. I could stand to swear less too! Good luck to us both.

    18. RMNPgirl*

      I have a goal of getting into the best shape of my life by completing three workout programs and four monthly challenges by the fitness person I follow (Emily Thorne aka EMKFIT) who is amazing!
      I also want to get my to-be-read bookcase down to at least a to-be-read bookshelf. I need to start reading more books (lately been reading lots of fanfiction instead) and buying fewer books that get added to the bookcase. I do need to buy another bookcase as well.

    19. Eff Walsingham*

      I need to find a new place-that-shall-not-be-named-on-weekends due to a massive relocation we’ve just completed. So I resolve to submit myself at a local agency of solid reputation, and temp as a means of getting to know my new city!

    20. Girasol*

      Keep up a drawing practice and a writing practice. I used to do both and am coming back after a long time away. It’s depressing to see how much my skill has deteriorated. But I know I can get it back if I muscle through making really awful sketches every day until I catch on again.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      Move into a bigger apartment, and replace our cheap crappy furniture even if we don’t move. If we do end up getting a bigger place I don’t want to pay to haul it there and then away again, and if we don’t–I want better furniture. Starting with decent lamps and a couch I can actually stretch out on.

    22. beware the shoebill*

      I’m wary of setting idealistic/aspirational goals because I usually fail them and then feel bad about myself, so I’m trying to be very conservative and intend to simply work on maintaining some good habits I’ve been developing recently

    23. AlexandrinaVictoria*

      I have been struggling with agoraphobia, so my goal is simply to get out of the house a couple of times a week, even if it’s just a drive around the block!

      1. Eff Walsingham*

        That sounds like a great idea!

        I struggled after the worst of the pandemic in our area, and my husband was very concerned and asked that I please leave the house once a day to get some fresh air. And I found (personally) that a walk around the block, speaking to nobody “live” – I was working at home – seemed to elevate my overall mood for the day even when it produced some anxiety in the moment. Some days it felt important that the block be empty of other pedestrians, so I would go early or late. Bad weather was my friend. :)

    24. carcinization*

      I guess my resolution would be something like, going to restaurants in town that I usually forget about.

    25. LA Girl*

      I like making resolutions that give me permission to do things I want to do but otherwise probably wouldn’t. I’m a dozen years into a resolution to have lunch with a different person every week, and tbh, it’s changed my life over the years.

      I also do a word of the year. Last year, the word was “ask.” I don’t choose the word; I wait for it to come to me, so I’m not sure what the 2024 word will be yet.

    26. Bluebell*

      Hanne Blank Boyd had a lovely set of resolutions on her Substack. Mostly about being kind to yourself and others. It’s not paywalled, you can just google her name.

    27. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My body has finally caught on to the fact that we’re 43 now, so my goals are mostly to treat it better so that it can treat me better.

  10. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

    I’m looking for suggestions on how to re-meet someone I met through their job, in a way that wouldn’t be creepy or invasive. (I know, I know…) I recently went to a holiday event at a local museum. It was a big event so there were lots of crowds streaming through this curator’s area, but I happened to go through at a quiet time with no one else around. I asked the curator a slightly technical question (since their area is something I do as a hobby) and they abandoned their scripted spiel and started showing me around the area to answer my question. Then they got really excited talking about all the work they’d been doing on the exhibit recently and the challenges they were facing and what they wanted to do next. It was fascinating! But then more crowds came in so they went back to their position, and when I circled back later they had left.

    I’d love to somehow meet this curator again. If nothing else I want to hear how the next stages of their work go. But, secondly, they felt like maybe a potential friend? It’s rare to find people my age who have this interest and the curator just seemed so cool. I would say it felt like we had a ~connection if that didn’t make me sound like a man in a midlife crisis spiraling over the barista who remembers his coffee order. I’m trying not to read too much into what might’ve just been a friendly work persona, but they were reeeally off script and really enthusiastic, so it felt like not 100% persona at least. (We are both women, if that helps.)

    Anyway! The problem is it wasn’t actually a museum and the “curator” role isn’t public facing so I’m not sure how to casually run into this person again.

    Options I have considered:
    A) go in for a public tour and hope they happen to randomly be on the floor.
    B) join the community hobby group that meets there, which I’ve been meaning to do anyway, and hope to randomly run into them (problem: the meetings are on the weekend).
    C) attend a class there, which I’ve also been wanting to do anyway, and hope to, you guessed it, randomly run into them. Pro: classes are on workdays. Con: I couldn’t do this until spring.
    D) chill tf out, leave this person alone, and enjoy the memory of this one-off conversation. Check back at the museum in six months to see if the work on the exhibit was successful.

    Any advice is appreciated!! If nothing else I hope my post is good for a chuckle XD

    1. Jessica*

      is the rare common interest anything that would have a local scene? i’m thinking that could be your hook for contacting her without sounding like a loon. Hey, really enjoyed our chat about Obscure Hobby, do you happen to know if there’s a local chapter of Obscure Hobby Guild?

      1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

        There is! That’s what the community group in option B is. Problem is I don’t have a way to contact her. She mentioned she sometimes seeks input from the group members but it didn’t sound like she’s a member.

    2. funkytown*

      Do you have their name or any contact info even if it’s through a more official channel or linkedin or something? If so, I personally think it would fine to reach out once, to say hey I enjoyed meeting you at X event, you seem cool and I wanted to share my contact info just in case if you’d ever like to chat more about [interest] outside of [job]! (feel free to modify to more or less formal based on how network/friend/date vibes you are aiming for). It’s not creepy to meet people in the wild!

      They don’t have to go for it but if the vibe is mutual I think they’d be happy to hear from you (I would).

      I also think option B or C would be good if you are genuinely interested anyway, but leans more toward the creep side if you spend the whole time on the lookout for this one person.

      1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

        I only have their first name unfortunately, and I couldn’t find them on the museum website (only high level staff are listed) or linkedin. The only way I can think of contacting them is through the museum itself, which felt kind of invasive, but maybe that’s less creepy than crossing my fingers for an accidental meeting? “I spoke to the curator in [area] about her plans for expansion, I was wondering if there’s a place to follow updates on the project or know when it’s complete?” I figure this has a slim chance of the museum saying “let me put you in touch with the curator” and a high chance of the museum saying “it will be done in April thanks for your support.”

        Thanks for the reassurance about meeting people in the wild! It’s helpful to know you’d welcome a message like you suggested. And thanks for the creepcheck on B and C lol. My interest is genuine but maybe better to delay attending a meeting until I am chill XD

      2. Isabel Archer*

        “It’s not creepy to meet people in the wild!”
        Very funny, but also slightly depressing – everyone met in the wild before the internet and cell phones and social media. #genX

        1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

          Ha! too true. It’s just been so drilled into me to not make things weird for people who are just doing their jobs!

    3. Reba*

      Ask the host/organizer/venue for the curator’s name or if they would connect you with her by email. This request is not that weird and I think she will probably be delighted.

      1. Reba*

        To say more :D I work at a museum complex and do public facing stuff, and it’s not at all unusual for people to send emails to the general “info” inbox and say “I’m trying to get in touch with ____ with questions on ___”. It may not work but it’s not problematic. I would not specify the expansion or upcoming exhibit plans because getting on the list for public email announcements is not the goal here! I hope it works out.

        1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

          Thank you!! This is very helpful to hear. I will put on my big girl shoes and give this a shot!

          1. Bibliovore*

            I am a person in a similar position. This is good advice. I’ve gotten to know people with an interest in my subject area through volunteer docents. Maybe that is an opportunity for you. One has become a very dear friend.

    4. Tinamedte*

      Throughout the history of mankind, I am sure friendships have formed for way more peculiar reasons :-) That is to say: it all sounds like a great start for another conversation, and it doesn’t seem weird at all to reach out to someone being so enthusiastic about something that both of you enjoy. As long as you’re prepared to gracefully back off, should you get those vibes, I think no harm will be done by reaching out. Maybe this is the beginning of something that will mean a lot for both of you?! I do hope you find a way to establish contact and please keep us posted with updates, if you feel like it. Rooting for you!

    5. English Rose*

      I like options B and C but don’t really have anything to add to what others have suggested except please let us know how it goes!

    6. 248_Ballerinas*

      Those of us with niche interests do get a frisson with fellow enthusiasts that’s worth pursuing. I say join the hobby group, since you wanted to anyway. Her name might spontaneously come up in conversation there and you could find out a little more about her.

    7. RagingADHD*

      Does the museum have social media? Make a post about how good the exhibit was, tag the museum’s account. In the post mention how helpful (first name) was in describing the work on the exhibit, and how excited you are to see future developments.

      It’s a public mention of a public venue – not creepy. Whoever runs the channel is bound to mention it to the curator, and if the curator wants to comment back, then she can. The ball is in her court.

      1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

        That’s a very savvy idea! Unfortunately it looks like they don’t have good social media. But in looking for that I found a site page with updates on the curator’s project (that was not accessible from the main site at all, lol, to give you some indication). The curator isn’t mentioned but I can at least follow for (very sporadic) project updates.

    8. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

      Thank you everyone (and Tinamedte, English rose, and 248_Ballerinas, who I didn’t reply to individually) for the encouragement, reassurance, and suggestions! I’ll definitely update if anything comes of this :)

      Currently thinking I will sleep on it till after New Years, then find some magic words to email the info account as Reba and Bibliovore suggested, then also do option B (community group), which would have their next meeting mid-month.

    9. Awkwardness*

      I was thinking of something similar as Reba. Ask the museum if your contact information could be forwarded to the curator as you enjoyed her presentation so much and you would like to know if there are other opportunities to hear her speak. Maybe add in some background info about the sincerity of your interest so you do not come across as a weird stalker.

      The type of answer, if there is one, might already tell if she actually remembers you or was just happy to talk about her work.

      1. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

        That’s a great final point. And thank you for the suggested angle on the email!

        1. Bibliovore*

          Oh yes, we have a general email line that people can ask for messages to be forwarded to the relevant dept. curator .
          For example , I was at the llama woven blanket exhibit on Dec 20th and received additional information from employee, Bibliovore (since you only have first name) I would like to follow up with them. Would you please forward this email with my contact information?

    10. Jessica*

      I worked in a museum and loved when people reached out to me to nerd out about an exhibition! It’s a weird line of work because everything you do is “for the public” but you don’t actually have much contact with the public. So I’d recommend just emailing whatever general email address you can find, letting them know you want to thank the curator for her time and wanted to know about future opportunities to engage with this topic. Whoever checks this email will probably just forward the message onto her!

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

      I got an excellent street parking spot the other day! I gave it up to go somewhere today, but it was a thrill just finding the great parking spot when it happened.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Congratulations, Squirrel N. In my family this is known as “Doris Day parking”—not once in her movies did you ever see her NOT able to pull up right in front of the building she was headed for!
        (Even my born-in-the-early-2000s relatives use the phrase. Makes me smile every time I hear it, though I’m not sure they really know who Doris Day is/was.)
        Happy New Year to you.

    2. California Dreamin'*

      Our adult son lived with us for a while during the pandemic with his cat. We loved having the cat here so much that when our son moved back out taking his cat with him, we decided to adopt two cats of our own. We hoped that we might be able to successfully introduce our and his cats and sometimes have son’s cat over to visit just for fun or to cat sit when son is away. Most cat people we talked to said this was unlikely to ever work because his visits would be sporadic and there would be territorial issues. But we decided to at least try to make it happen, and we’ve been working diligently at this for about a year, having my son’s cat come over for several days at a time every couple months. The results had been… meh. There were never any actual fights, but there was tension, chasing, occasional hissing, and we kind of felt like none of the cats was particularly comfortable during his stays. We thought we’d kind of hit a wall and figured we can cat sit in a pinch but the visits just for fun were probably a pipe dream. But son’s cat has been staying here for the last couple weeks because son is moving apartments and the disruption would freak him out, and we seem to have turned a corner! All three cats seem to be very relaxed, and while they aren’t exactly about to start grooming each other or anything, they are comfortably napping in the same room together, eating together, walk past each other with no hissing or chasing at all, and just generally are being chill. Who knows if this progress will stick, but for now we are thrilled, and it’s been lovely to have son’s adored cat here for the holidays! We’ll be sad when he leaves for his new digs in a couple days…

    3. Snell*

      Not so much a “small joy” as a “small positive thing that marginally improves my life,” but the Weekday Place recently moved to a different building, where the auto-flush toilets wait until you’ve left the stall. Toilets at the previous office wouldn’t let you put your pants back on before splashing your bum, if they hadn’t already flushed because you leaned forward while seated.

      1. Phryne*

        ugh. I’ve been on the receiving end of overzealous auto flushing and it is unpleasant. Yay for more patient toilets.

    4. fish*

      After a pandemic break from swimming, my 60-yr-old self can swim the same distance and time as my 20-yr-old self. I have to cut about 15% off my time to get back to my 50-yr-old self, but I’ve made some progress from 6 months ago, when I was struggling for the distance.

      1. MassChick*

        This is brilliant! Maybe I’ll make it my new year resolution except compare it to my 30 year old self. My 20 year old self didn’t know how to swim.

    5. Tinamedte*

      My 7yo got lost in a book the other day and finished it in one go (approx 80 pages, some full page illustrations, but still). I just love it when he finds a book and goes all quiet and can’t put it down :-)

        1. Tinamedte*

          If you by any chance are looking for a book recommendation for a kid you know, I hope the kid is fluent in Swedish :-) The book is “Sommarskuggan och vattenbuset”, roughly ‘The Summer shadow and the water prank’, but unfortunately, I doubt it has been translated into any other languages.

    6. Not Australian*

      Just unpacked my ‘special occasions tablecloth’ (for New Year’s Day brunch) which is a good 100+ years old and rarely used these days. When I inherited it there were large beetroot stains all over the middle so I had to use another cloth on top, but over the years and with careful treatment (and better detergents) the poor thing is almost completely white again. The stories that cloth could tell!

    7. English Rose*

      Walking in my local park and a little boy of about 3 ran up to me to tell me excitedly he was playing football with his daddy. He was oozing joy. Proud dad hovering in the background.

    8. old curmudgeon*

      I took my first standing shower on Tuesday after knee-replacement surgery a week earlier! Shower chairs are good for safety, but that first standing shower was a major highlight for me.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I feel you on the shower. I’m a bath girl myself, and after my hip replacement last year I was miserable because first I had to do sponge baths then showers for a while. I was so thrilled when I was okayed for tub baths.

      2. fish*

        Yes, first shower after hip replacement was priceless! A week sounds super fast to be steady on your feet, congrats!

    9. GoryDetails*

      I found a slightly-tricksy geocache that was situated high up in one of those trailhead kiosk/info-board structures. It was placed such that I couldn’t reach it from the ground and had to clamber up onto the shelf, then reach into a recess that I hoped did not contain spiderwebs – and it was spider-free and I nabbed the cache and got back down without hurting myself, so yay!

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Got to spend two whole hours at a coffeeshop yesterday with my bestie. We’ve been going in different directions for weeks and I’ve missed her.

      Loving sleeping in my own bed after being in a hotel for a week before Christmas.

      Celebrated our 39th anniversary by spending the day together in the kitchen and collaborating on a wonderful dinner. Also made my very first bouche de Noel for Christmas Eve at a friend’s house!

    11. Elle Woods*

      I tried a new recipe for Xmas dinner and it was amazing. Mom’s Cheesy Potatoes from How Sweet Eats. OMG. So darn good.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      Slightly bigger than small, but I have (mostly) stopped using my cane completely! I can walk up and down the stairs without it if I take my time and I’m not carrying something heavy.

      Still have another month of PT to go, though. And except for sometimes at night (especially after an intense PT session), I’ve been mostly pain-free! \0/

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Thanks!
        It was a bummer to miss out on so much this summer and fall, but the stuff I wanted to check out isn’t going anywhere, and neither am I. :)

    13. Girasol*

      Home alone in a clean house with some vanilla and cloves simmering on the stove, woolly socks on, a tin of cookies, coffee and cocoa, soft music, good movies. It’s been a delightful week of holing up all cozy inside and taking a break from all responsibilities.

    14. chocolate muffins*

      I took my husband on a surprise date on the day after Christmas as his gift. We had brunch, got a couples massage, and then went to dinner – dinner was not originally part of my date plan but we were having a lovely time and luckily our babysitter was able to stay later so we just absconded for a while. We have a toddler and haven’t had unstructured, unlimited time like this since he was born as far as I can remember. It was such a treat for both of us – so an extra good idea for a Christmas gift since it turned into a gift for me also :)

    15. Sweet Clementine*

      I traveled to NYC for the holidays on a solo trip, and I just found a wonderful bookstore/cafe/bar close to my hotel. I just spent an amazing morning there, discovered a wonderful new series, and have generally had the best morning in probably a month!

    16. goddessoftransitory*

      Peanut the cat ate his whole breakfast without barfing this morning! He’s been regularly upchucking stomach bile for the last few weeks (we’ve taken him in twice.) He’s fine in himself and his appetite’s okay, but he’s older, and we need to keep his weight up. The vet put him on bitty doses of Pepcid and that seems to be doing the trick!

    17. carcinization*

      Got a cookbook that I really wanted for Christmas (Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game) and it looks great. I’ve tried one of the recipes so far and loved it.

    18. WestsideStory*

      Just when you think the year has no surprises left for you, you notice the stand of mahonia near the dog park has busted into bloom. I will be keeping a yet out for hummingbirds in January.

    19. allathian*

      We’re having a proper winter, with freezer temperatures (-18 C/0 F) today. It looks like a winter wonderland with clean snow everywhere. Love it, even if my sinuses won’t let me enjoy the cold for long.

  11. Egg Pan*

    Anyone have a favorite pan they use for eggs? I’ve tried a few different non-stick pans and each time, I have a sticking issue unless I use way more butter than I want to. I’ve recently begun switching away from butter and to olive oil and it’s even worse. So – anyone have a favorite?

    1. Silent E*

      Could you walk us through how you cook them? I’m wondering if – since you have tried a few different non-stick pans and still have the same issue – the problem is with how you’re cooking the eggs.
      Generally, sticking eggs often either means that the pan (and fat) is too cold when you put the eggs in or that the eggs are being cooked at too hot a temperature. But it could be something else!

      1. Cocoa*

        This is a good point. One of my friends complained about their eggs sticking to their non-stick pan, which I’ve never had an issue with, so I let them try my pan the next time they were over. The eggs stuck to my pan, but they used a higher temperature than me and left the eggs cooking until they were burning.

    2. Reba*

      My fave is a vintage (that part is important) cast iron. My second is a large stainless skillet, i.e. no coating, and it works great as long as you preheat the pan! I do prefer butter and am not afraid to use quite a bit. But I think the preheated pan, on the lowish side of medium on my equipment, is the key regardless of the pan material. Experiment with different temps and preheat times!

    3. Hatchet*

      I’m not sure what type of eggs you’re making, but for scrambled eggs, I used my husband’s Japanese omelet pan (square or rectangle, with a curved side opposite the handle) and it works great! You can find them reasonably priced on Amazon. (Granted, I also use a fair amount of butter as well.) The pan plus a silicone spatula = awesomeness! Good luck!

      1. Anima*

        Yes, we have one of those, too, and I never had egg issues on our electric stove with eggs since then!

    4. anxiousGrad*

      I have a GreenPan ceramic non-stick skillet. I add a small amount of butter to fry my eggs, but after a couple of years of use it’s still non-stick.

    5. Phryne*

      My pans are Ballarini Palermo and I have never any sticking. (I have induction though, so not sure how they behave on other heat sources)

      1. Phryne*

        I agree with others here though. Make sure the pan and butter are well and hot before putting the eggs in and you shouldn’t need too much grease. I was taught to wait until all the large bubbles are gone from the butter before starting to cook.

    6. ThatGirl*

      I use tfal, which are nice because they have a circle in the center that changes color as it heats. I mention that because getting the pan hot it a big part of avoiding sticking – after that you should just need a little butter or oil.

    7. Ellis Bell*

      Ninja Foodi pans are impressively non stick; we’ve started preferring them to the Lecreuset enamelled cast iron. Often we don’t use oil at all. They don’t seem to have any discernable coating they are just non stick!

    8. GoryDetails*

      I have a small cast-iron pan that is my go-to for eggs. (Usually scrambled, sometimes an omelet, once in a while I’ll attempt eggs-in-a-frame.)

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      I use a stainless steel frying pan and olive oil and things rarely stick. I put the oil in the pan and heat it for a minute over medium heat and then add my egg. As soon as I take the egg out I fill it with hot water and soap.

    10. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Tramontina non-stick. We got an induction stove and replaced all our non-cast-iron pots and pans with Tramontina. Pricey and worth it. I make scrambled eggs with ham and cheese pretty much every day and never have a problem. I do use butter – don’t think it’s an excessive amount.

    11. Professor Plum*

      I got a Starfrit The Rock 11″ Fry Pan (search on Amazon) after it was recommended on a weekend post earlier this year. Months later I’m still loving it!

    12. Kayem*

      I use an All-Clad hard anodized nonstick skillet that I got on deep discount when our Bed Bath and Beyond closed down. It was in a set of two, normally $50. It’s been the best omelet pan. Nothing ever sticks to it, regardless of how little oil or butter I use. Though this is omelets, so they cook very low and slow. If I want scrambled eggs, I use a Tramontina nonstick I picked up at Walmart because that’s my dedicated “abuse with too much heat and too aggressive stirring” skillet and I always do scrambled eggs on high heat so I can get them done in less than a minute and hoover down my breakfast before running to work.

    13. carcinization*

      I use a small nonstick frying pan I got at Ikea. I only use a tiny bit of olive oil and my eggs never stick to it! I don’t understand how Ikea’s cookware is so good at only a fraction of the price of other cookware.

  12. Decidedly Me*

    Does anyone use a shampoo bar? I’m going on a retreat and due to it’s locale, I need to bring things that don’t generate much trash – hence a shampoo bar rather than bottle. I’d already been considering them anyway, so this gives me a good reason to try. Any brand recommendations or things I should know about them?

    1. acmx*

      I’ve tried Vida. I wanted it for week long travel although I don’t end up using it. I rarely wash my hair daily so I can manage with liquid.

      I like the shampoo more than the conditioner because it’s easier to lather. I am pickier about conditioner than shampoo. Also, I have curly hair which is why I chose Vida.

      Wouldn’t you be able to take the bottle back home with you and leave it as trash?

      1. Still*

        Ditto, I’ve been using Lush’s shampoo bars for… four years now? Have only gone through maybe 8 because they last so long. They’re really good, handy for when I travel, and I’m pretty sure they end up being cheaper than bottled shampoo.

        Would not recommend the conditioners, you need to use a ton and even then it still doesn’t really feel quite right.

      2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I’ve used Lush shampoo bars for at least a decade. They’re not the cheapest but I really like them and they last a long time. Much like you I’m not fan of their solid conditioners though.

      3. MCL*

        I use a Lush shampoo bar for travel. I find that I have to prop it up after use in such a way to reduce its surface area sitting in moisture, otherwise it seems to melt a bit. Otherwise I am happy with the brand. It takes very little product to clean my thick hair.

    2. Derivative Poster*

      I like Ethique shampoo and conditioner bars a lot. The shampoo seems to lather less than liquid shampoo. If it’s been a while since I last washed my hair, I often lather and repeat because I’m not sure my hair is clean after the 1st round (could be all in my head, though).

      1. Reba*

        I use ethique and recommend! They are a palm oil free brand. I have also used and loved a bar from Davines. I have given up on the conditioner bars, however, because I have super long hair and it’s just too tedious. (Ethique offers a decent conditioner concentrate that you mix at home!) But if the retreat is short you could maybe do without conditioner?

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      I use Chagrin Valley shampoo bars. I like them, but it did take my hair about a week or so to adjust. The first few washes left my hair kind of lank and oily, but then things got better. I also do an apple cider vinegar rinse instead of conditioner. FWIW, I am Asian, and have thick straight hair.

    4. Shy Platypus*

      I use them quite often. Brand advice would not be applicable except for seconding Lush (I’d advise picking a soft formulation there as some are a bit agressive).

      Shampoo bars work for me but I have short straight hair that don’t need conditioner, so that’s the easy mode for shampoo.

      One challenge I’ve had is making them last. At Lush they say you shouldn’t rub your scalp directly with the bar but rub the bar between your hands, then put the bar down and apply the resulting foam on your head, if that makes sense. I also keep them in a wall storage basket, where all facets can dry equally and that’s been a big change.

    5. Ann*

      I tried Clean Coconut from Elou once. At first it didn’t seem that effective – had to wash every 2. day instead of every 3. day like I used to with ordinary shampoo but suddenly after some weeks I could go to washing every 4. day! I want to buy it again. Oddly, I couldn’t foam it with my hands – it had to be rubbed on my hair directly.

    6. Lily*

      Another vote for the Lush shampoo bars. The only ones that don’t turn my hair into a sticky, chalky mess in (relatively) hard water. I didn’t find them long-lasting, though, definitely less than a standard small bottle of shampoo, and I didn’t leave the bar to marinate in soap juice or whatever. I do wash my hair very frequently, so that’s probably why. They aren’t cheap, but no other shampoo bar has ever managed to actually get my hair clean.

    7. CTT*

      I’ve been using them for 5+ years now and love them. I primarily use the Lush ones but that’s mostly because other stores near me inconsistently carry them, and it’s easier to order that online. I do think it’s like any shampoo and some formulations are going to work better for your hair than others, so you may have to try a few. Also, Lush’s website will probably have a picture of someone rubbing the bar directly on their head – I recommend against that! Just lather up the bar in your hands and then work the lather into your hair. Rubbing the bar on your hair will unevenly distribute it and not really get your hair clean.

    8. YrLocalLibrarian*

      I really like the bars from humby organics (vegan and made in the US if that matters to you) Particularly the purple rain for my white/silver hair. The conditioner bar does not leave my thick frizzy hair as soft as I’d like, so I usually add a touch of leave in conditioner. I shampoo just 1-2 times a week and this shampoo has really decreased shedding!

    9. Phryne*

      I use them on vacation as they are easier to bring. I’m in Europe and I think all the brands I’ve tried are local so can’t help there, but in reaction to the comments in conditioner, I’ve tried a couple that didn’t work too well and then I was gifted one once that was really good, so it depends on the kind and the brand.
      Also, I did notice they tended to leave more residue in the drain, and that is why I dont regularly use them at home, as I have old and communal wastepipes and I am the bottom later of the building.

    10. Slightly Less Evil Bunny*

      I’ve tried shampoo bars by the Earthling Company, and have really liked those. I also like their conditioner bars. My hair is color-treated so it can be a bit dry, but even if I just use the Earthling shampoo without the conditioner, my hair doesn’t feel stripped.

      I’ve also tried the J.R. Liggetts moisturizing shampoo bar, and that cleans well but my hair feels a bit stripped afterwards. Definitely need to use conditioner after that one.

    11. MaryLoo*

      I have small reusable bottles that I refill for trips.
      Why wouldn’t you just do that? Don’t throw the bottle out when it’s empty, instead refill it and keep in your travel toiletries kit.

      1. Obvious*

        Because that is a lot less shampoo. A small bottle will hold maybe a quarter of a full bottle, a single shampoo bar replaces at least two full bottles of shampoo, at least for me, and I have long hair. And it weighs a lot less too for that, which can also matter a lot when travelling. And a bar can go in cabin luggage much easier when flying.
        It was also not the question, I doubt Decidedly Me has not thought of that themselves, and decided that was not a solution.

    12. Melissa*

      I found that shampoo bars really dried my hair out, even the ones that were meant to be moisturising. My suggestion is to try them a few times before the retreat so you know what effect they’ll have.

    13. Subtle Tuba*

      I started using bar shampoo about 2 years ago. I have coarse thick wavy hair. It took me about a month for my hair to stop feeling waxy and stiff, but then there was a sudden change and things have been working great ever since. My hair feels much better than before, and even when it starts to feel itchy and need washing (after about 5 days) it still looks decent!

      I use diluted apple cider vinegar instead of conditioner. I put it in a bottle and mix it 1:4 with water. When I fly, I just bring a 3oz bottle of undiluted vinegar in my carry-on and dilute it when I’m at my destination.

    14. Sopranistin*

      I use shampoo and conditioner by HiBAR. I really like them. I think it takes a while for hair to get accustomed to the different formula. I’d try it out for at least a few weeks to see how it works for you.

  13. Soft Cashmere*

    Hello – I am looking for recs for Cashmere. I ordered from Quince, but the sizing is off either too large or too short. Thanks!

    1. English Rose*

      Which country are you in? If it happened to be the UK Marks and Spencer cashmere is great quality and fit.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Bloomingdale’s has a house brand called Aqua. It’s on sale right now and I really like the quality given the price point. I have some long dusters that I wear more formally, but my absolute favorites are their cashmere hoodies. I wear them literally all the time.

      I recently got some cropped cardigans with large buttons, slightly 60’s retro looking, that work with everything.

    3. fposte*

      It’s been a few years but I’ve had good results from Pure Collection and from Boden. Moment of silence for the late Lord and Taylor, which had amazing January sales on cashmere and merino wool.

    4. Anonymous Koala*

      Quince’s $50 cashmere is quite short, but I’ve had better luck with their turtlenecks and fisherman’s style cashmere sweaters, which are about 4-6” longer than the standard crew ones on me. They are a more relaxed fit though.

    5. MCL*

      This is kind of a downer reply, but I just recently read an article earlier this month in the NYT about the bad impacts of the cashmere industry. So if that’s important to you please be aware. I had not considered it before.

    6. Beatrice Belladonna Eastwood*

      I’ve given Quince more than their fair share of tries and I just don’t think the quality is there. I get my cashmere from ThredUp. I don’t aim for a specific brand. I just look for stuff in excellent condition that was more expensive to start with and I’ve had good luck every time. Secondhand is the way to go for cashmere with regards to environmental and animal welfare as linked to above.

  14. Nailcare Newbie*

    I’m seeking nail polish / nail care recommendations! I’m looking for polishes that are easy for a novice to apply, likely to stay on for the better part of a week, and easy to remove. I’m not interested in gels or acrylics. Any techniques or products you’d recommend?

    (Also interested if anyone has had luck with a peelable base coat!)

    1. FrontlinER*

      I’ve loved Olive and June polishes. Gel like quality without being gel.
      Idk if they have a peelable base coat though.

    2. Climb every mountain*

      I use the peely base from Holo Taco which works well, but any peel-off base cost is likely to be shorter-lived than a regular base coat manicure, just by the nature of it.

      My favourite polish brands are OPI and Holo Taco. I recommend using a good nail oil regularly – I apply mine morning and night and it’s made a big difference in the condition of my nails and cuticles. You can apply it over and around polish.

      Personally I like a polish with a wide brush for application as I find it goes on much smoother and I get better coverage and a cleaner look – it’s one reason I love Holo Taco as you can buy their wide brushes by the pack to use in any of their polishes. You might prefer a skinny brush though – it’s worth trying out different styles to see what works best for you.

      A good fast-drying top coat makes doing my nails much less hassle – I like Seche Vite or Glossy Taco from Holo Taco.

    3. Elle Woods*

      I’m a big fan of Essie’s gel couture polish. My manicures with that polish line usually last 7-10 days. To the best of my knowledge, they don’t have a peelable base coat.

      The one trick I have learned is that before polishing my nails I wash my hands, then swipe my nails with either nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol to make sure there’s no oil on my nails. It goes a long way in making my manicures last longer.

      1. M&M Mom*

        Seconding the Essie gel recommendation. It lasts a long time, and I get compliments on my nails all the time.

    4. WellRed*

      Essie has lots of fun colors. I don’t get the idea of a peelable base coat though. If you are removing polish with remover, you are removing the base coat as well.

    5. LizB*

      I use Holo Taco’s peelable base coat when I’m experimenting with nail art to decide on a design, but you will never get a mani to last the better part of a week on a peely base coat, sadly. Any of the other Holo Taco base coats are nice and long-wearing, and their colored polishes are both gorgeous and long-lasting. I also like Mooncat a lot. Zoya has a lot of great colors but doesn’t tend to last quite as long. My tips and tricks for a home manicure that lasts:

      1. Start with a base coat
      2. Put on thin layers of your color, and really wait for them to dry before adding another
      3. “Wrap the tip” of your nails: put at least one layer of polish on the leading edge of your nail, it’s also fine if it gets on the underside of your nail (Simply Nailogical on YouTube has some excellent videos to teach this technique and other basics of how to do your own nails neatly & reliably, especially how to use your non-dominant hand)
      4. Use a top coat; HT’s Glossy Taco is great but I have also used Sally Hansen’s “gel” top coat from the drugstore a ton and it works very well

      For easiest removal, tear five little squares of aluminum foil. Tear a cotton ball into five pieces. Put some normal nail polish remover on the cotton, put each piece of cotton on a square of foil, and wrap the foil + cotton around your nail so the foil is holding the cotton on to the surface of your nail. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then you can switch the same foil + cotton to the other hand to take that off. Clean up any stray polish with a little extra remover on a brush or cloth. I learned this as a way to remove gel or glitter polish but it works perfectly well for standard and doesn’t involve lots of scrubbing.

    6. Ron McDon*

      Rimmel Super Gel Polish is amazing – it is a normal nail polish but gives a finish that looks like gels, and lasts really well. Goes on smoothly and seems to ‘self-level’ too.

      You must buy the matching Super Gel topcoat as that is what seems to ‘fix’ the polish in place and gives the super-glossy finish. People always ask if I’ve had gels done when I wear it.

      I’m rubbish at applying polish but this goes on like a dream – as you may have guessed, I love it!

  15. MassChick*

    Fig! <3

    Is Fig slightly grimly today or are those natural markings (I’m imaging trying to scrub the inside of those ear tips in vain!)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Those are natural markings, although she also has a scab on the bridge of her nose which is almost certainly from constantly rolling around wrestling with Stella. The dark areas on her ear tips are just her natural markings though!

      The only time she’s really been dirty is when she decided to hide from the vet in the back of the fireplace and got covered in soot. Twice! We’ve since obtained a new fireplace screen that thwarts her.

  16. Liminality*

    (Not looking for medical advice, just company.)

    Anyone else dealing with an end of year cough?

    I’ve had the nastiest, most aggressive cough I’ve ever experienced and it’s been hanging on since before Thanksgiving. OTC meds won’t touch it and it just laughed at the prednisone.

    Someone suggested I should get tested for whooping cough/pertussis. I got the tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis booster vaccine back in July, so it would be a surprise if it that’s what it is. And it may be too late in the course of the illness to get a valid test result anyway. But I was tested and negative for covid, flu, and strep a couple weeks ago, and my chest x-ray was clear of pneumonia…

    Have you chased a mystery diagnosis recently? Did you ever find out what it was?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had joint pains that were round-robining up and down my left side for about eight months, all told. My left knee would hurt for a week, then my left shoulder, then hip, then elbow, then back to shoulder, and so on, but always only on my left side. I also have psoriasis (albeit on my right side) and unilateral joint pain can be an early symptom of psoriatic arthritis, but the testing did not suggest that was the issue. My doc put me on meloxicam which seems to have solved the issue, whatever it was, barring an occasional twinge at the inside of my left hip on outward rotation. But we still haven’t figured out what actually was behind any of it.

    2. sswj*

      Yes, but I get this cough every time I have even the mildest of colds. It used to be worse until I was tested for asthma, which I didn’t know I had. It’s sloooooowly getting better, but my lungs and throat are just hyper sensitive, and things like a change in air humidity, a lot of talking (and I’m in retail, sigh …), sudden cold air, all that sets me off.

      I’m on Advair and albuterol, and I take allergy meds because I’m also moderately allergic to a lot of things and that also can get me coughing.

      It’s so incredibly frustrating! I feel fine, I’m not contagious with anything, and I sound like a seal with tuberculosis. I think one of the hardest things is spending my days stifling this cough. When the store closes and I head home, I spend the 1st 10 minutes of my drive hacking like I’m going to cough up a lung. It’s awful and gross and exhausting, but it does finally get the crud moving and I get some relief.

      I hope this lets go of you soon, it’s no fun for sure!

      1. Clumsy Ninja*

        I always have to warn coworkers that I sound like a barking seal every time I get a cold or for weeks after dealing with anything worse – asthma is just annoying.

    3. Only Him ...*

      Not a mystery diagnosis, but my husband has been dealing with a cough for several weeks. He is on blood thinners due to other medical conditions and one day he coughed or sneezed so hard he burst a blood vessel and the results landed him in the hospital for six days :( Thankful he is home now though!

      Hope you feel better/can get a diagnosis soon!

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      In the annals of people with mystery symptoms might love company: Last year I had a persistent mild cough. Post-nasal drip medication didn’t touch it; traveling to another part of the country (so different allergens) didn’t tough it; winter changing to spring didn’t touch it. I was starting to quietly worry that it would be a sign of returning cancer. Then: I got a 24 hour upper respiratory virus. Not bad at all. Followed by asthma (expected) at a level I haven’t suffered from in years (unexpected). After two weeks I gave up on it getting better on its own and went to see my doctor, and it was about six weeks in total of being bad enough to need drugs and be very limited in what I could do, and then more weeks fading off after that.

      But that persistent cough that nothing else could touch? The long asthma bout wiped it out. Still no idea what was happening there.

      1. Mephyle*

        Yes! This is something that one can have for a long time without knowing it.

        Or, rather than heartburn, it can be silent (i.e. no burning sensation) reflux.

        And it’s not an either-or situation: a cough from a virus or bacterial infection or asthma or an asthma-like episode and/or allergies can trigger silent reflux, and then the cough lingers on and on even after the infection or asthma is gone.

    5. StellaBella*

      Yes. I am on day 11 of this cough and am done done done. Not covid and not pneumonia and robitussin is helping but so are hot toddies sans alcohol and shower steamers daily. Am hoping it goes away before 4Jan when I have to fly.

    6. Lilo*

      Something went through my son’s preschool earlier this year. A couple of us developed costochondritis from coughing so much. It was awful, I had rib pain for weeks. I tested negative for everything.

      You can catch whooping cough even if boosted, my nephew got it somehow (fully vaccinated). But I don’t think it’s super likely. If you can, maybe get someone to listen to your lungs? most doctors can’t tell much without actually listening to you breathe.

    7. MaxKitty*

      Yes, I’ve been dealing with the same type of cough since mid-October. Three urgent care visits, regular doctor, and finally saw a pulmonologist NP this week. Apparently there is an intermittent version of asthma, cough variant, which is what I likely have. Twice daily Advair is what finally killed the cough, more or less. They want me to stay on it for the winter.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        I have cough variant asthma, too. The main trigger is cold, so I always cough in the winter. Montelukast and albuterol keep it under control.

    8. Arts Akimbo*

      Just chiming in with moral support here! My poor spouse has the same lingering cough that tests negative for all the things. This happens to him sometimes when getting over an illness and it just hangs on and on! (hugs)

    9. old curmudgeon*

      Whenever I’ve had one of those persistent, won’t-quit coughs, it has always turned out to be a sinus infection. I’m wondering if I’ve got one now, in fact.

      Solidarity, and I hope you shake it soon!

    10. 653-CXK*

      I had a cough that lasted from late September to around Thanksgiving. It was definitely a bronchial infection – there were times where I coughed for a minute straight and brought up copious amounts of gunk. Saline spray and cough medicine helped for a bit, but then the hacking wet cough came back in force. I tested myself for COVID twice – negative both times.

      Around a week before Thanksgiving, however, after one hefty fit of coughing, I blew my nose and a ton of gunk – not a little bit, but filling two Kleenex – came out of my nose. I also took Jakeman’s cough drops, which contain a lot of menthol, which helped reduce the cough. After Thanksgiving, I rapidly got better (I swear the cranberry sauce that my mother had made cured it); I knew I was better when I could laugh and not have a coughing fit.

      This was similar to what I had ten years ago, but I’m thinking that was from the medications I was taking (lisinopril – the nurse asked me if I had coughing, I said “yes” and she said “you’re off the medication”) and I recently had a reduction in one medication. I also had a flu shot back in October – I’m wondering if that sustained the effects of what I had.

    11. RussianInTexas*

      My partner had! He’s had a persistent cough for couple of months and difficulty walking long distances. Nothing helped.
      Eventually he had a crisis which ended up with him in a hospital, and the diagnosis of congestive heart failure and kidney disease, brought on by the chronic hypertension. His blood pressure was 230/130 when he checked in the ER, and they drained 2 bottles of wine worth of fluids from around his lungs.
      He is much better now, but it’s medications forever, law salt does forever, etc.
      The fact that I am still angry at home, months later, for ignoring his health for decades, purposely, is another conversation.

    12. Elle*

      In the last couple of years I’ve had nagging cough and post nasal drip that wouldn’t go away. Both times I needed allergy meds and it took weeks for them to work. But it did go away.

    13. Eff Walsingham*

      We are still unscathed here (crossing my fingers!) but our locality is full of people coughing and sneezing to beat the band! It’s making us stupidly paranoid: last night on the phone, I started coughing, and my husband said “Why are you coughing? Are you coming down with something?” and I said/gasped “I’m fine. I swallowed air!” Then I coughed again, maybe 20 minutes later, and faced another interrogation. “I’m pretty sure it was a popcorn husk. I was eating popcorn when you called.” To be fair, he’s been having to fly a lot lately, and if he caught something now it would be awful on the way back home.

    14. Double A*

      Yes, a really nasty cold (??) went around my area in November. It was the sickest I’d been in years besides Covid in August. The cough took about 6-7 weeks to fully clear up; my ears are still plugged somewhat.

      I think it was just a nasty virus of the variety that caused the common cold. No idea what specifically it was but everyone had similar symptoms that included a lot of eye gunk and the lingering hacking cough.

    15. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      I have a cough that so far has a diagnosis in terms of “there’s a problem in this part of your lungs,” which was enough for the specialist to give me advice on how to treat it, while we try to figure out whether there’s a bacterial infection, and if so, what bacteria.

      What I know so far is that the cough seems to have started as a post-covid thing, and the obscure thing they’re testing for isn’t contagious, which is reassuring to the people I live with.

      However, it’s possible either for an obscure infection to cause these symptoms, or for the symptoms to make someone more vulnerable to that obscure infection.

    16. Indolent Libertine*

      I’m only 2 weeks in, but I’m with ya. Negative for COVID, strep, flu A and B, and RSV; started with a “rescue” albuterol inhaler and then got moved up to a different “controlling” inhaler; didn’t start medicating the congestion soon enough so now on antibiotics for the sinus infection that took hold, and oh lord the coughing. I haven’t been sick at all since before March 2020, so I don’t have any antibodies to anything currently circulating. The doc who examined me and did the prescribing said that this is really common, people catch something they have no current immunity to and the symptoms go straight to 11.

    17. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      My kid had something like this years ago. had a cold and a cough that lasted so long we ended up seeing an allergist and then a pulmonologist.

      Good news was that the pulmonologist said it’s basically postnasal drip irritating the throat causing a cough which… irritates the throat. prescription was… wait for it… to sip water whenever feeling the need to cough and to suck on chocolate in between to help protect the throat from irritation. Fixed it in a week.

      I hope yours is as easy to fix (but at the very least, this is a tasty thing to try)

    18. M&M Mom*

      For years, I had “the cough” every year. Just something I expected.
      I would cough so hard I would get sick. Blech.
      A few things:
      -over-the-counter Mucinex is the only thing that would help.
      -I too was diagnosed with asthma and have an Advair inhaler
      – we moved a few years ago and it has not come back. I wonder if there was mold in our old place.
      Hoping he feels better soon. This definitely sucks, I know.

  17. Annie Edison*

    I designed a custom planner for myself in Canva this week and then printed and bound it myself using the comb bonding machine I have for my small business. I took features I’ve loved from various planners over the years and combined them all, and then added fun graphics and color schemes that are meaningful to me. The best part is that I can add and remove pages as needed throughout the year to adapt to my needs without spending additional money. My organizer-obsessed, easily bored adhd heart is so happy.

    Tell me about your favorite planner features and how you hope to use them in the upcoming year?

    1. Tinamedte*

      This sounds great! I don’t have a planner myself, but I would love to hear more about this project. Homemade, customized stuff that turns out the way you want is soo satisfying. Please expand on the features you chose, and whatever else brought you joy about this, I’d really enjoy reading some more about it.

      1. Annie Edison*

        Ooh ok!
        Features I’m excited about:
        – year overview page with large empty box for each month. My work is somewhat cyclical, with certain tasks that need to be done a few times each year. I plan to use this space for an overview of what needs to happen and when, plus possibly some goal or intention setting

        – two page spread from passion planner’s website that has a column for each month, and a row for each date, so that every day of the year has a small box in the spreadsheet. My intention is to write one small good thing that happened each day, like a mini gratitude journal. No idea if I’ll stick with it for the year but I’m looking forward to trying

        – a cute coloring book style reading log for the year with a picture of books on a bookshelf, where you can color in a book for each book you complete and record the title

        – a monthly check in page. I can’t remember where I read about this idea or what it was originally called, but I’m calling it a life compass. I made an eight point star out of four intersecting lines (like an astrix but with more points?) and labeled each point for a different area of my life, like financial, professional, social, emotional, etc. The idea is to go through each month and put a point on the line indicating how fulfilled I feel in each part of my life. Closer to the center is less fulfilled, and farther out is more. It gives me a sort of artistic representation of what parts of my life need more love and attention and make sure I keep myself balanced over the course of the year

        – then I’ve got some weekly overview pages for things like meal planning, mapping out my work hours for the week, and keeping track of my to-do list for work (keeping one long list for the week works much better for me than writing a new one every day)

        – and finally some pages where I can set my top three priorities for each day, keep track of my hourly schedule if needed, and write in things like affirmations or track my mood if I want. I don’t do that stuff very consistently but I like having space for it sometimes

        – I also included lots of blank note taking pages mixed in with the more structured traditional planner pages. I’ve found bullet journaling is too unstructured for me, but traditional planners feel overly structured and I end up with an overwhelming pile of loose to-do lists and post-it reminders on my desk by the end of the week where I’ve brain dumped ideas and task reminders. I’m really excited about having a mix of structured pages and blank space for brain dumps all in one place, and am hoping it will lead to less overwhelm to keep it all corralled

        Other things that bring me joy:
        Since it’s comb bound, I only put in enough daily/weekly pages for the first two weeks of January to keep it thin and light weight. I printed out the whole month and figured I can switch out used pages half way through and make it easy to carry around

        Also, I’ve been getting more into some lightly nature-based witchy practices lately, so I looked up the magical associations of a bunch of flowers and stones and then decorated the cover with pictures of things that align with my hopes for myself this month, so I have a bit of bright color reminding myself I am deserving of love and good things in life

        1. Tinamedte*

          Very inspiring stuff! Thank you so much for taking the time to describe it so thoroughly — and for sharing all of those great ideas!! I will reread your post a couple of times for pure enjoyment :-) and then I will probably make something for myself for 2024. Thanx again!

          1. Annie Edison*

            I’m just glad I found people to share my excitement! I’ve been talking my partner’s ear off about it for days and, while he is excited for me, he doesn’t quite “get it.” I like getting to talk with people that understand the joy

        2. Isabel Archer*

          Wow, you put real thought and effort into that. Thank you for sharing it with us. I’m totally going to steal the daily spreadsheet for one good thing, and the Life Compass. That idea is brilliant. Maybe market that before somebody else does! Hope you enjoy your creation all year long.

    2. Vanessa*

      Oooh! I haven’t used canva for planners. I’m excited to explore.
      I have used scattered squirrel. It has a ton of printable.

    3. Ellis Bell*

      I wonder if this is an ADHD thing, because my love for my planner set up is boundless. I use the planning tools on OneStopTeacherShop (they do personal planners as well as lesson planners). I set up my planner in September, but this is the time of year I tweak it based on what’s working and what isn’t, and print off the remaining months. I use an Arc holepunch and the discbound system because I love how you can flip it open and fold it back on itself. I use clear plastic covers and dividers (Etsy) to protect the pages. Sticky pen holder to attach to my central divider (Amazon) Translucent Post Its (also Amazon) because if I have a lot going on, I can overwrite some extra stuff without losing sight of what’s beneath. I also love the opaque mini Post Its with full sticky backs in case I do want to obliterate what’s beneath and ‘do over’ the section I’m writing on. Different colour gel pens to code priorities, and fun seasonal stickers to make it pretty. The planner covers and the discs get reused year after year, as does my cover picture, printed out on photo paper; a lighthouse at dusk.

    4. WellRed*

      I unexpectedly got an Amazon gift card and treated myself to a health and wellness planner that allows food tracking. I have T1 diabetes and hoping to get back on track. It looks colorful and has stickers. Can’t wait till it arrives. With any planner, I definitely like a monthly two page spread for an at a glance view of the month.

    5. Chauncy Gardener*

      A few years ago I started using Passion Planners, the undated weekly ones because I started using it in a random month. I LOVE these things. It really helps to set goals and then chart your time so that you focus on achieving them. It has the goal section, monthly schedules, with a section after each month to review the month, and then the rest of the year in weeks. I love how it is balanced between work and personal with plenty of space for other notes, plus blank pages in the back. As an added plus, there is a section for “good things that happened” in each week. That really helps me stay in the gratitude mindset.
      They come in all different sizes and configurations. They also have stuff like stickers and things to jazz it up, but I don’t use any of that. They come in really nice colors too.

      1. Annie Edison*

        I love passion planners! I incorporates a few of their free pdf pages in my design because their passion roadmap exercises helped me so much back when I was using them

    6. Elle Woods*

      My fave planner is one from Russell+Hazel. What I really like about it is that it’s got dedicated space for your goal of the week, daily priorities, notes, and a look ahead to next week. It’s also got dedicated space each month for goal tracking, reminders, important dates, monthly focus, and monthly review. In previous years it had a section for quarterly goals but they did away with that in the 2024 version.

    7. Bethlam*

      I’ve used a traditional Daytimer binder for a couple of decades, but i created my own customized pages in Word to fit my needs as every set they offered had stuff I didn’t need, and didn’t have what I did want.. Bought the cheap plastic paper punch so I can put pages in and take out.

      Also originally bought a set of dividers which I use for long term projects (elephants) and short term ones, lists, notes, etc. I have sturdy cardboard pages in the front with my daily and events checklists, some inspirational quotes, and my yearly resolution word and how i want that word to manifest in the different areas of my life.

      I’m still crafting 2024, especially because the first 4 months will be dealing with cancer treatment, and I need to make my treatment goals and other goals compatible.

    8. Christina*

      I use the Circle Planner (am on my fourth now for 2024) and I absolutely love it. It has annual, monthly and weekly goals and monthly check-ins. There is also lots of space at the back so I can track books read, Kdramas watched and whatever else I feel like tracking that year.

  18. Cookies For Breakfast*

    A topic for a bit of fun. For those who spent the holidays with family, what things happened that you could have crossed off a Family Gathering Bingo card if you’d had one?

    Hosting all our parents in London, we had:

    – Chill conversation about random topic turns into intense political discussion
    – My parents come up with a bizarre guilt-trip about a gift they insisted on buying
    – One of Partner’s parents asks if we really must eat at ethnic restaurants all the time (their favourite meal out was scrambled eggs for brunch)
    – My father asks me about the origin of every single street, station or landmark name he sets his eyes on, and makes up his own answers if I don’t know (most memorable one: he asked if “loo” means anything specific as a suffix, given both Waterloo station and the Bakerloo line have it)

    Surprisingly, we didn’t have “my father knocks over a glass of red wine on our festive tablecloth”, which is usually a no-brainer given Dad is an extremely messy eater. He came very close but saved it in time!

    1. Katy did not*

      What a good question about the -loo suffix – I hope you were able to answer it! It’s such an interesting story. From Waterloo as the original to Bakerloo as an intentional portmanteau to Peterloo as an ironic reference – really showcases how language is used.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I never thought about it as a suffix, so I have to do some googling! I default to thinking the name of the station is after the Battle of Waterloo, which was in Belgium, and the tube line’s name comes from the fact it connects Baker Street to Waterloo. My father’s thought process is funny: asking about a word he thinks to be English, assuming I’ll know since I live here (I’m not a native speaker either), while in fact the word is from a language neither of us were ever familiar with.

        And now I’ve been typing all this…I found the etymology of Waterloo on Wikipedia:

        “From Middle Dutch, composed of water (water, watery) + loo (forest, clearing in a forest, marsh, bog)”

        So I may be able to answer Dad’s question, after all :)

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      -Parent denying a hallmark/staple of my childhood ever happened (not gaslighting, just increasingly forgetful)
      -Parent making a “why don’t you visit more?” type of comment
      -Someone yelling across two conversations with a question that is apropos of nothing
      -Collaborating on a crossword puzzle
      -Unexpected visit from someone who lives nearby

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Sign that my son is home: Someone steals my phone charger.
      Sign that my daughter is home, but she wasn’t this year so son nobly stepped in to fill the space: Someone steals my bath towel.

    4. sagewhiz*

      How long will it be before my mother decides she isn’t happy with her gift? (Christmas, Mother’s Day, b’day, you name it.)

      Once it was before she even unwrapped it. “Whatever it is, it’s too heavy!” Then discovered it was a box of books, so was happy. Except with the ones she’d already read.

      Longest, I think, was a week before she wanted the gift exchanged for something else. This year it was two days before wanting it exchanged.

    5. 248_Balllerinas*

      This one’s on me: Aunt 248_Ballerinas asks niblings about what music performers they currently like and reminisces about what she liked at their age.

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        I would absolutely be like that, and had to stop myself from doing it with a friend’s nephew I met for the first time a few days ago!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        “So you kids like that Taylor Swiftness? I tell ya, back in MY day we had Madonna and were grateful for our mix cassettes!” *throws hard candy*

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      My mom did the knock-over-red-wine-on-festive-tablecloth thing. This isn’t necessarily a thing for my mother, but the genuine angsty guilt that followed certainly was. (I’m slowly realizing where my own tendency toward angsty guilt comes from.) I was delighted to let her know that a cold water soak took it right out.

      1. Phryne*

        It seems to me more of an ancestral fear. Surely with cleaning products of today, no substance you would put in a dish can stain a tablecloth utterly beyond repair? Also, A tablecloth is a practical item, it exists to be used when eating, that is it’s function. If you constantly worry about the tablecloth to the point where a spill can ruin your evening, you should probably just use a cheaper one and start enjoying your dinner.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This! Unless it’s a genuine valuable antique that should be in a museum, don’t own anything you can’t walk on, sit on, or eat on.

    7. Lilo*

      My brother always tries to pick a fight every year. He was deeply upset that no one would fight him this year.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        This is a fun one! From family trips and occasions over the years:

        – Chill conversations turning into intense political discussions, with polar opposite opinions, my husband making desperate signs for me not to join in, my normally silent brother in law ranting and my mother in law denying all and any political opinions in the hope of it ending.

        – Debates/fights over whether to go yet another Italian restaurant or try another cuisine. The peak of this was a trip to another city this year, when we all agreed to go to a tapas place we all liked the year before. We book it, and then out of the blue mother in law announces that she and father in law will be going to an Italian instead – everyone else can decide what to do! I stick with the tapas, husband is easy osy, and sister in law has a crisis as she likes pleasing people but also wants tapas… In the end, the Italian place being taken off a Gourment card scheme saved it, and we all went for tapas. :P

        – Mother in law shouting a random question across two other, totally different conversations, usually about something that doesn’t need to be discussed then.

        – The setting: in laws’ house. Everyone else is either too hot or fine, temperature wise. Every twenty minutes, mother in law stands up, asks if anyone is cold, and when everyone says no, says “It’s a bit cool, I’ll turn it up a bit.”

        – My mother, ( who has a very limited sense of humour, and doesn’t get sarcasm), not getting my husband’s sense of humour, leading to the joke being explained and dying a slow death, and my husband eyeing the door….

        – Arguments over how to work out splitting the bill, usually between my husband and his mother, as they do the same sums using the different methods. At one point, his mother said, “I went to the grammar school you know! Let’s do it my way!” :P

        – Mutual agreement not to discuss certain topics which people don’t agree on, such as cycle lanes, why cyclists are too scared to use them and driving in Britain.

        – With my family – going out for a walk. Ten minutes in, my mother, who has lots of knee replacements and the accompanying aches and pains, but refuses to acknowledge this or ask for stops, will ask for a coffee. No one else wants one, so she has to get a take away coffee. This repeats at least twice more during the walk.

        – My perpetually disorganised, impractical, always late sister being late, not turning up at all, getting the day wrong or otherwise causing minor issues by being late, absent or just getting lost. :P

        We all love each other dearly, but family is family! :P

        1. BlueMeeple*

          Addendum to my last point:

          We are all going to Dundee for the day. The morning of the day, my sister phones in a panic – she hasn’t booked a ticket, and isn’t sure how to pay for it on the website. To make sure the trip goes ahead, my husband pays for it for her.

          Another one! Me, my sister and my husband go out for a meal, ( discussed beforehand, so we all know how much it will be, and I suggested a coffee as an alternative, and she asked for the meal). We get there, sit down and my sister says, “I don’t have much money, can you pay for me?”

        2. WorkingRachel*

          I’m pleasantly surprised that your controversial family topics are about cycling and driving, instead of the hot buttons my friends have been dealing with: weight and dieting, whether various places are “safe” (read white) enough, and, of course, the ever-popular “should transgender and other gender nonconforming people have rights or no?”

          1. BlueMeeple*

            The cycling/driving/driving in the UK comes in mostly because my Dad is a driver, cyclist and pedestrian, so I have Thoughts about how the road culture could change for the better so all three groups can co-exist happily.

            But yes, we do avoid most of those. The latter does come up sometimes, ( and my husband and his Dad did have a strong debate about it), but we all seem to be quite good at swerving topics that will lead to outright disagreement, for special occasions at least.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I love the image of a guy desperately trying to pick a fight and everyone going nah, we’re good.

    8. ThatGirl*

      – my MIL complaining about her other daughter in law almost immediately
      – a long rant about Trump and his supporters
      – complaints about how I seasoned something
      – my MIL washing any empty glass sitting for more than 5 minutes
      – extremely stale jokes about which son is the favorite
      – something they don’t realize is probably a bit racist/judgy that we raise our eyebrows at (this time it was that the mail carrier has a lot of tattoos and wasn’t married to her baby daddy so he probably died of an overdose)

      1. Cookies For Breakfast*

        Your last point could have been on my list! We got hit with comments about how we should change the destination of the long-haul holiday we have in mind for next year, because “there are much safer places to go” (half our friends have been on wonderful honeymoons to the country we want to visit, and they all recommend it).

        Pointing out no one present has been to the country did nothing to stop it. Reminding my parents that they took 4-year-old me to a much more problematic place and their favourite stories are all about brushes with (my) death also did nothing to stop it. Everyone doubled down with glee. The fact we went to a restaurant from that country the previous evening, and one of them didn’t like the food, may have fuelled the prejudice. We will absolutely hear all this 10 times over as we start looking into the trip in 2024.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      My family:
      – I showed up a little bit late
      – Sister showed up extremely late
      – Dad’s wife unintentionally did something that made me miss my mom
      – Wine

      Husband’s family:
      – Took way too long to take a group photo
      – MIL did something well meaning but clueless and SIL was blunt about it
      – someone openly talked about the truth about Santa but luckily my kids weren’t paying attention

      Free Space: kids only ate rolls and dessert

    10. carcinization*

      -My mom and I trying to out-know-it-all each other about food prep
      -My husband freaking out over and over about the fridge being too full of food/food ingredients
      -My mom turning off lights, throwing away packages/lids/etc., while they were still needed

        1. carcinization*

          No, he just gets worried when the food is really stacked up or when it’s hard to see what-all is in the fridge because it’s so full of food, which happens sometimes at the holidays. Both of us abhor wasting food so it’s likely somewhat related to that, but I usually have plans for using up all of the copious food (i.e., that extra-seeming package of bacon is for the black-eyed peas I’m making on 1/1, the extra cream cheese is for a feta dip I’m making when we go over to a friend’s house tomorrow, etc.).

    11. SSC*

      My mother getting unreasonably miffed that our 6yo said “no” to a bedtime hug/kiss, to the point she asked the 6yo if she wanted to pack her bags and leave the house. At 9 pm. We live three hours away. Which became a heated conversation between my mother and me where I laid down our principles of teaching our daughter that she has autonomy over her body and the right to active consent before she has physical contact with anyone. After the moment passed, I realize how strongly I feel about this and I regret nothing.

      1. Zweisatz*

        Good for you (and your child). Asking an adult to leave over this would be passive-agressive and not polite, asking a 6-year-old is beyond the pale.

    12. Kayem*

      I avoided most bingo spaces as this year, my mother’s husband was going to have knee replacement surgery, so she canceled the big family get-together this year. But that in itself and the fallout from it was enough drama for its own bingo card.

    13. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      -My mother went on a rant about people cheating… at solitaire. Apparently, there is a right way and everything else is cheating.

      -My patent was shocked that I was not interested in doing an activity I have never done, never been exposed to, end never expressed an interest in where I was highly likely to end up ill (it involved being on a boat).

    14. Christmas cookie*

      – a debate over the best pierogi filling
      – snide comment about my black sheep uncle
      – an uncle (I’m 40; uncles are in their 60s) getting sloppy drunk and saying something racist
      – my mother speaking to someone for so long they walk away and she does not notice
      – my brother opens a new beer (this is essentially a free space)

    15. Frieda*

      – my mother was fake injured so she could swan about complaining
      – my dad told me basic facts that literal children would know as though all this information was brand new to me
      – my mother is unable to keep track of her belongings or throw away a tissue or used tea bag but has a keen eye for anything else that might be slightly out of place in my home
      – my brother requests via text to me that my parents call him

    16. MissCoco*

      – 20 questions: Breakfast edition, at 7 am from at least 2 people at once
      – free space: “are you two planning on kids?” including from people who I’ve never met before. See also, his mother casually informing me she’ll cancel an upcoming international vacation if I get pregnant the same year as the trip.
      – family being shocked I’m still in grad school (to be fair, it’s been a LONG 4 years for everyone)
      – his dad being confused about where we are currently living, then spending 3o minutes “convincing us” to move back to home state after grad school (which we have consistently planned on and consistently told them we are planning on).
      – my dad getting unreasonably upset that we don’t own any “real pliers” despite being offered several styles of pliers and then showing me my adjustable wrench to explain what “real pliers” are

    17. Quiet NYE, thank goodness*

      -mom martyrs herself over Christmas dinner; to be fair, what she makes is LOVELY though highly labor intensive. I won’t order that dish anywhere else since hers is better
      -familial guilt over not dropping other plans when stepsiblings visit the weekend after Christmas, when I only got 2 weeks notice they were coming
      -friend who’s spent Christmas with my family and I a few times *may* have made up other plans this year (because I told him that asking to come to someone’s house last minute when he’s known for weeks that he isn’t traveling home is rude and does a disservice to my super kind family, who will always take someone in even when they spend half the time on their phone)

    18. Leftovers for Dinner*

      -I cried when we sang Silent Night at church.
      -When asked what she was thankful for at Thanksgiving our 36-year-old pregnant married daughter said what she’s said since she was little: “the dog.” (Different dogs over the years.)

  19. All Hail Queen Sally*

    Does anyone here have experience with the organization Overeaters Anonymous? I simply have to get my eating under control. I have been a type 2 diabetic for ten years now and have been diagnosed with mild (so far) neuropathy in both feet. I have excellent medical care with physical therapy, a dietician, and a therapist, but I need something more. Perhaps bonding with other people with eating issues would help? I just discovered there is a chapter in my city. I am not crazy about the religious aspect, but their website says it is not an issue.

    1. 248_Ballerinas*

      It’s “God as we understand Him.”
      “Him” could be a her or an it, Higher Power, Great Spirit, etc. You do not have to tell anyone else what your private conception of God is.

      Might as well check it out if you are curious.

    2. I've Been There*

      It saved my life. First of all it was such a relief that other people had the same problem and it wasn’t something I dreamed up. It gave me tools for managing my eating patterns and gave me insight into some of my other problems. As for the Higher Power part – all it says is that a power other than myself could help me. And it was pretty clear by then that I couldn’t do it myself. I’m not making much sense here but it is such an important part of my life. By all means check it out – and try multiple meetings and speak to multiple people because everyone’s take is slightly different.

    3. Comment on OA*

      OA varies considerably from group to group how intense people are about the religious aspect of the program. For you, it might be a question of checking out a bunch of groups to see which ones have a vibe you feel good with. Remember that you’re not limited only to groups in your city or environs — there are many groups that are still Zooming online.

      There are also secular OA groups. A friend tried them and liked them a lot. There are also offshoots of OA that adhere to an extremely strict vision of what people need to do and are generally more religious. Some people really like that strictness and black-and-white approach and find that it works well for them.

      Official OA literature does indeed talk about how people can have differing visions of a higher power, and I know people who consider their higher powers to be spiritual principles like honesty, kindness, compassion, etc. or to be the wisdom of other people in the program rather than any kind of traditional deity.

      OA nowadays recognizes that different people will succeed with a wide variety of different food plans (usually, the advice given is to work with a nutritionist to experiment with what works well for you and to tweak as needed).

      I would make a terrible poster child for the program (good thing it’s anonymous!), as my food and eating are a mess right now, but I have seen the program work well for a lot of other people, and I have made some wonderful, supportive friends through the program.

      I say, check it out and see how you like it! And, whether it’s in OA or not, I’m wishing the best of luck with your food and eating.

    4. Dancing Otter*

      I only attended a couple of times, but a friend lost almost half her original body weight with them, so it can work well for some people.

      As with other 12-step programs, each group is a little different. Well, different people, different interactions, it stands to reason, doesn’t it? So you might want to look for more than one time / location to try out.

      Agreeing with Ballerinas, the religious aspect was not an issue. “Higher power” means whatever you want it to mean. Even chapters that meet in a church are independent of that faith.

      OA does not push any particular weight loss plan. My friend talked a lot about trigger foods, an idea which I think she got from someone there, but I don’t think it was a group recommendation or anything.

  20. Ann*

    Has anyone watched “Wish”? I am fascinated by the amount of people going “I can do better than that”, the YouTube rewrite videos and then the sheer amount of people in the comments coming with their own ideas. I am not sure there is a single canon fanfiction in the AO3 tag (granted, I’ve only skimmed the descriptions briefly).

    I can’t remember any other movie that’s had that effect before. Do you know of any?
    The only thing close to it that I’ve seen were the fans of the tv series Once Upon A Time who more or less decided that canon were “more like guidelines anyway.”

    1. Lilo*

      I think it’s because the movie kind of has potential but it’s kind of a mess? They had some ingredients there, but the result is just not good. But it’s also not a place where someone’s really going to go off and write fanfiction like Star Wars?

      1. Ann*

        The potential was better than the result, yeah. I don’t think there would have been the amount of public rewriting if the concept art hadn’t been released. That was what people loved.

    2. LA Girl*

      A former student of mine was involved with the writing of the movie at the early stages, but it was soon handed off to a string of many other writers and sort of Frankensteined together. I didn’t see it because the trailers made it feel like such a naked cash grab on Disney’s part, sadly. Not surprised to hear it’s a mess.

  21. Stuck*

    One of my Christmas presents this year was a cocktail shaker (a cobbler shaker variety, for reference). Unfortunately, the top must have shifted in the box and is now so firmly stuck inside the body that I can’t get it out. Like, my hands hurt from trying to wiggle it out. The gift was from my brother, who lives locally but it currently out of town, so I’m planning on letting him have a crack at it (/give it back to him to return if that fails) when he’s back in town, but does anyone have experience with getting things like this unstuck? The top and what it inserts into are metal, but the actual body of it is glass.

    1. Cormorant*

      Ice the top while holding it in whatever position will allow gravity to help work it loose. You can also try running the body under hot water but glass will expand and contract less due to heat than metal will. The shrinkage from icing the top might be enough to work the top loose.

      1. kina lillet*

        I think this is the right move but I’d probably heat the lid—it goes over the body of the shaker, so if it expands, it will hopefully loosen its grip.

    2. Bookworm in Stitches*

      I was going to suggest dropping it onto a rug from about a 12” height until I reread your words and saw that the body is glass. But that method has worked for me with non-smashable things jammed together.

    3. Phryne*

      Softly tap the joint against the edge of a table or worktop on all sides. Sometimes that will jolt it loose. (also works for 2 glasses stuck together). Or put the metal side under a hot tap to make it expand.

    4. WellRed*

      At this point I’d set it aside for returning. Even if you succeed I’d be afraid of it happening again.

    5. Can't Sit Still*

      Try soaking the whole thing in hot water for 10 – 15 minutes. Hot tap water is warm enough.

      My cobbler shaker got stuck during shipping, and I had to freeze it full of water, then dunk it in hot tap water to get it unstuck, definitely a bad idea with a glass body! Since then, it’s gotten stuck after shaking for a long time, like when shaking up a sour, but comes apart easily after it warms up.

      You might prefer a Boston shaker, since there’s only 2 parts and they are easier to separate with force than a cobbler shaker.

    6. Llama Llama*

      Is it possibly screwed in there? I ask jokingly but yesterday I spend a good 15 min struggling to get a top off of a cup. I just could not pry it off. I used a whole bunch of things as a lever with no luck and then I realized it was screw on.

  22. ThatGirl*

    Makeup help?

    I’ve used the same makeup for 18 years – everyday minerals, it’s basically a less-expensive version of bare minerals. The company is going out of business. I will run out by mid year probably.

    Bare Minerals is kind of expensive, the question is does anyone know another good dupe? I’m early 40s, white, mostly looking for the primer/foundation/finishing powder type stuff. I like the layerability of loose powder.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      I really like the Laura Mercier brand. I use her tinted moisturizer, concealer and blush. I know she also has different powders too.

    2. Maryn*

      E.L.F. powdered foundation (about$11 at Target and elsewhere) rivals the $40 stuff. I use a loose powder for finishing (E.L.F makes Halo Glow, $8, which gets great reviews, but I’m trying to use up what I have).

      I was amazed by how the E.L.F stuff compared to the Fenty and others.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve used other ELF stuff so might be worth a try at least – the problem I run into locally is they don’t always have things in stock.

        1. Maryn*

          I used Ulta to help me find my shade. They have a “what brand, what shade” questionnaire to help you find the right shade in a product that’s new to you. It helped me find the shade I wanted in E.L.F.

          They didn’t have it in stock, and neither did the local Target. I ordered it online and it was fine.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Do you really think I made it up out of nowhere? A brand I’ve been using for nearly 20 years? They sent an email to their list and posted on Facebook. And if you actually try to shop for foundation etc you see that most of it is out of stock. I know there’s nothing on the site yet but that doesn’t make me wrong.

    3. Sooda Nym*

      Thanks for posting this! I’ve also been a longtime user of Everyday Minerals, and had no idea they were going out of business. I am off to find a substitute before I run out…

      1. ThatGirl*

        If I hadn’t opened a recent email I wouldn’t have known! I’m super bummed. If you find any good dupes let me know :)

    4. Juneybug*

      I would suggest L’Oreal Paris Makeup Infallible Fresh Wear Foundation (it’s a compact powder).
      I wear True Beige for my pinky beige undertones.
      I know you were looking for a loose powder foundation but this is a great foundation. In the past, I used loose powder (Airspun), then started using Bare Minerals liquid foundation, and later switched to Loreal. It’s cheaper than Bare Minerals and provides great coverage.
      I am sorry your go-to makeup store is shutting down. I hope you find inexpensive and easy to locate makeup from now on.

    5. Makeup user*

      I’ve been using Lily Lolo makeup for about a year and a half and really like it! powder foundation and concealers for redness on my cheeks and dark undereye circles. they sell an inexpensive tester set to let you try out foundation shades.

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

    I’m taking my 12yo to peepfest today. I’ve been told and online it looks like fun. What would be your best guess to how many peeps my kid can mooch today (he’s a professional moocher)?

    1. Llellayena*

      Kid plus Peeps candy store (or festival) equals too much sugar no matter what. Pick two limits: what they can eat that day (probably a max of 10 regular sized individual peeps to avoid tummy issues and day-ruining) and what you’re willing to bring home and spread out over the next couple weeks.

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

      I’m running out to the supermarket to pick up some graham crackers. I still have some Hershey’s mini’s from Halloween.

      Who would have thought to toast a peep over a sterno and make smores.

      Going to finish up 2023 with a sugar high.

      Also, amazing how today’s date is 123123 – 12-31-23

  24. Mitchell Hundred*

    Looks like nobody’s done a “what are you watching” thread yet, so what are people watching?

    I recently started rewatching the Welsh police procedural/noir series Hinterland (or Y Gwyll, if you’re cultured). Thinking of breaking it up with a rewatch of The Prisoner, since Hinterland is an excellent series but also one that Nobody Should Binge.

    1. WellRed*

      I liked Hinterland, the scenery, the old buildings, the language. I actually just discovered there’s a season 8 of Shetland out so have started on that. I also started watching LA law for the first time.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        I always marvel at the fact that they filmed every scene twice (once in English and once in Welsh).

      2. The OG Sleepless*

        I loved LA Law in graduate school and I’ve been enjoying watching it on Hulu now that they’ve finally remastered it. Some of it hasn’t aged all that well but most of it has.

    2. Manders*

      I just finished Jury Duty in one sitting, and I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a very long time.

    3. Teapot Translator*

      I only watched the first season of Hinterland. It’s beautiful, but too depressing for me.
      I’m rewatching Sister Boniface. I need cozy.

    4. fposte*

      Oh, I didn’t know about that show! I only spent a year in Wales so am very unreasonable in my nostalgia, but Wales doesn’t get enough love. And I went to Portmeirion three or four times when I was there, initially because of The Prisoner but then because I just was delighted with the place.

      1. Mitchell Hundred*

        If you go back there after watching Hinterland, it was set in Aberystwyth but mostly filmed in Borth, which is a little town about half an hour’s drive from Aber. The exterior of their police station was impossible for me to mistake even though it wasn’t dressed up.

        To be crystal clear, though, do not under any circumstances watch more than one episode of Hinterland at a time. Alternate with something wholesome like Friday Night Lights or Gilmore Girls.

    5. RussianInTexas*

      The final season of Leterkenny. Would be said to say goodbye to the gang.
      The new season of Reacher.
      PERCY JACKSON. Sorry, I am just too excited for the decent retelling!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Almost finished with The Mary Tyler Moore Show — the last season of Letterkenny is next. I don’t want them to go! :'(

    6. GoryDetails*

      The annual “Twilight Zone” marathon is on cable, and even though I know most of the episodes by heart by this time, I enjoy tuning in.

    7. Dark Macadamia*

      I resubscribed to Disney Plus for a month just to watch the Doctor Who 60th anniversary specials. They were fun, nothing special story-wise but SO worth it to see David Tennant and Catherine Tate together again. I think they did a good job introducing the new Doctor, but now I’m going back to my slow rewatch/catch-up on the series. Just finishing the 10th Doctor and starting 11 (I stopped following the show somewhere during 12’s run but decided to watch the whole revival instead of starting with him).

    8. TPS reporter*

      just started Killing It on Peacock. it’s really sweet and insightful on economic issues. Plus hilarious Florida shenanigans.

      I also started A Spy Among Friends on MGM+. Its intriguing so far, great performances and based on a true story.

    9. Bethlam*

      More what we’re not watching. We only have antenna TV, so don’t get to see a lot of the alternative outlet shows. So we were thrilled when CBS started running Yellowstone to fill air time due to the writers’ strike. I taped it every week and we started watching it.

      And just no. The characters are all so unlikable, and mean (except for Casey and his wife). The characters in Costner’s family are incredibly cruel to each other, and I just cringed at so many of their interactions. There’s too much mean in the world for me to find it entertaining in a TV show. So we noped out of it.

      1. BlueMeeple*

        We’re currently watch the second half of the TV series of All The Light We Cannot See, which is very good. We also watched some Yes Minister today, ( away for a few days), and an Agatha Christie adaptation of Murder Is Easy. It was very good, which isn’t always the case with the recent adaptations! :)

    10. Lifelong student*

      I wathched the Call the Midwife Cristmas Special on Christmas Day- you can stream it on PBS. I may watch it again tonight!

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Waiting for the newest Midsomer Murders to drop on Acorn. Also chugging happily through Death in Paradise. It’s like Law & Order but all relaxed and sozzled on rum.

    12. Jackalope*

      We are working our way through an anime series called My Happy Marriage. It’s been a bit painful at times – the POV character’s family is very abusive and neglectful and they don’t sugarcoat that – but watching her escape and slowly start to blossom as she finds happiness has been fun (and has definitely rewarded our sappy sides). Plus there are a number of things that are specific to Japanese culture that we weren’t as familiar with and are enjoying discovering. Since it’s anime, there’s a bit of fantasy in the beginning that looks poised to become more significant in the rest of the show.

    13. allathian*

      We have about 10 episodes of Voyager to go. I’m still enjoying it.

      Just started the third season of The Crown, and I’m enjoying it a lot as well.

      I finally got a chance to watch Tove, when my husband was out celebrating NYE with his friends (our son’s been sick so he couldn’t go to his gran or I’d’ve joined them). He’s said he wants to see it, and I’ll happily watch it again at some point, but I didn’t want him to spoil my first viewing by cringing at every same-sex kiss. (Tove Jansson is played by Alma Pöysti in her international breakout role, she’s been nominated for the best female actor Golden Globe for Fallen Leaves).

  25. Elle*

    After a week off we’re back to meal prep. The break was nice. What are you making this week? I’ve got How Sweet Eats herb chicken meatballs with rice and hummus and I’m trying a potato broccoli soup from A Beautiful Mess. I can recommend The Mediterranean Dish’s Tomato Farro soup. That was good leftovers this past week.

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Some kind of seared scallops on Monday, possibly with Iowa Girl Eats sweet corn risotto. I have some lovely haddock in the freezer, so at some point I’ll make a fish soup (like a chowder, but with no cream or milk, just broth).
      Thanks to the commentariat, I’m down the RecipeTin Eats rabbit hole and am currently experimenting with two of her roasted potato recipes. Yum!

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          We’re hosting New Year’s Eve tonight and I wanted a kind of “finger food” potato, because people aren’t going to be sitting down with silverware etc. So I searched her site for potato recipes and then tested out Nagi’s Ultra Crispy Smashed Potatoes and also her Crispy Roasted Parmesan Potatoes. Both were extremely yummy, but the smashed potato one won out because they’re yummy plain, but they would be good with a little sour cream, scallion, shredded cheese, whatever on them. So I’m serving them with those things on the side.

          I ADORE that website. She clearly tests the heck out of her recipes, which I really respect and like! Makes her recipes so reliable.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I made Meera Sodha’s sweet potato massaman yesterday. Liked it just fine, but was expecting a different flavour – I’m not convinced it needed so many chillies.

      Tonight is Yassa chicken from the Serious Eats website, and tomorrow lunchtime I will make the Serious Eats 15-minute tomato soup, which I tried before at a potluck and fell in love with. It was like pizza sauce in soup form! Hope my version will be as good.

      All this should leave us with a full fridge when we’re back from New Year’s Eve at a couple of friends’ house, and possibly on the first day back to work too.

    3. carcinization*

      Just made Smitten Kitchen’s Black Bottom Oatmeal Pie to take to a friend’s house tomorrow (having a very small New Year’s Eve gathering, she lives with her husband and her brother and my husband and I are going over to their house). Earlier in the day tomorrow I’ll make my other contribution, Feta Tapenade Tarte Soleil, also from Smitten Kitchen.

      I’ll also be making the usual black-eyed peas and cornbread on New Year’s Day if that counts. Hopefully I’m also using pannetone to make a bread pudding or overnight french toast casserole or whatever you want to call it the same day. I’ve done this several past years but don’t have a set recipe for the pannetone creation, I usually end up combining a few.

    4. goddessoftransitory*

      My first meal was super easy: hot dogs (to use up the buns) with sides of Ismail Merchant’s creamed corn (From Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin.) Next I’ll be making a chorizo and potato/veggie casserole.

      Husband is supposed to be making this vegetarian apple chowder today, but he is sick as a dog with some intestinal badness. I may be ordering from work and having pizza by myself instead!

    5. Snell*

      Soup curry (Just One Cookbook). Considering how little sunlight we’ve been getting, and that it’s December which should mean 50s heading to 40s where I am, the past few days have been warm and humid. Still, we really aren’t getting that much sun, so I thought a soup curry could be nice and comforting. I will be deep-frying the topping vegetables myself.

  26. WellRed*

    My new-to-me car has a wrench symbol and tire pressure light on this morning. I can’t find a clear consensus on whether the wrench indicates I need actual service? At any rate, it’s certainly an inconvenience at the start of a holiday weekend where I’m out of luck til Tuesday.

    1. Generic Name*

      I’d fill up the tires today for sure. My friend’s 20-something son ignored the low tire pressure light for a few days, drove in a flat tire, and then the tire came apart at high speed, so now he has to buy new tires. Tire stores won’t just sell you a single tire anymore like they used to back in the day.

      Does your car have the owners manual? It should tell you what the dashboard indicators mean. If you don’t have a paper copy, you should be able to look it up online. You could also take it to an autozone or other car part store and ask that they hook it up to their computer that reads error codes. They won’t be able to fix it, but the code will tell you what’s wrong with the car and give you an idea if it’s safe to drive until you can take it to a mechanic.

      1. fposte*

        There are YouTube videos walking you through the warning lights of most models of car. With manuals pushing 800 pages these days, I find that an easier way to get an answer.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I don’t believe it’s true that you can’t buy a single tire. It’s highly recommended to get 2 or 4 at a time and maybe that shop had its own policy, but you can get one.

      3. Chaordic One*

        Most tire stores will still sell you a single tire, however, you will want to have the tread on that single new tire shaved down to where it matches the tread depth of the 3 remaining tires. A discrepancy in the depth of the tire treads can throw off the various computerized systems in a newer car (such as the anti-rollover stability control or the anti-lock brakes) and the car may not function as well as it should. In a car with 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (like a Subaru) mismatched tires can cause the differentials or viscous couplings in the driveline to operate at 100% resulting in excessive heat and unwarranted wear until they (the differential or the viscous coupling) fail. Having the tread of a single tire shaved down to match the other 3 tires is cheaper than buying 4 new tires and much cheaper than having to have repairs made to the car’s driveline.

    2. Squidhead*

      Our car (2016 Honda Fit) pops up the wrench symbol when it’s due for scheduled maintenance. We can scroll through the odometer window to see what it says is due but it’s never urgent enough to worry about over a weekend.

      Same car, tire pressure light comes on when it thinks the tire pressure has changed, which doesn’t necessarily mean they are low as the pressure can change in cold weather or when the temperature fluctuates a lot. I usually look at the tires and if they don’t look low I reset the light and see if it comes on again. If it does I swing by the gas station that has a free filler with a pressure readout on it and check/fill each tire and reset the light again. They’re never actually low (obviously they could be! I think we’ve just been lucky). I think newer cars might have smarter pressure sensors than this (we have a newer truck that will actually tell you the pressure of each tire which is much more helpful than a “trouble somewhere” light).

      In both of these cases, are you able to find a manual for your car? In general, though, I tend to go with “if it still seems to be running okay (no weird noises, no weird smells), it’s probably fine for now,” which might be riskier than you’re comfortable with but hasn’t left me stranded anywhere yet.

      1. RagingADHD*

        If you can find a nitrogen tire fill, they fluctuate less by temperature. Costco usually has a free one.

    3. Ready to go home soon*

      What kind of car is it? In my Honda, the wrench usually means that it’s time for an oil change. The problem is that a lot of maintenance places don’t reset this time/mileage based indicator after an oil change/maintenance, and so it might indicate before you need one. I don’t use this light for my maintenance and instead just track maintenance in a book and get things done according to when they are needed.

      For the tire pressure, you can check that yourself with a cheap tire pressure gauge. The correct pressure for your tires should be listed in the door of your car. You might have to drive around some but some gas stations have air guns you can use for free or for cheap.

      1. WellRed*

        It’s a Buick encore and there is Literally no wrench mentioned in guidebook. I do need to just try checking tire pressure/put air in tires but really don’t know how. *sigh. I need to learn. Autozone is a good idea.

        1. Generic Name*

          Maybe the symbol that looks like a wrench is depicting something else. Is there a picture of all the symbols and what they mean?

        2. Generic Name*

          For the tires, do you have any tire stores nearby? They’ll fill the tires for you for free, and I’d bet if you asked, they’d show you how to do it. I’m a huge fan of YouTube for learning how to do minor household stuff (I replaced a light switch with a programmable one based on YouTube videos). I bet there are tons of tutorials for checking air pressure and filling tires.

        3. ThatGirl*

          I googled and the only wrench I see is in a book, is that it? Or is it something that looks like a wrench?

          Tire pressure is pretty easy to check, but if I’m feeling lazy most tire shops will check and fill your tires for free – try a Firestone or similar if you have one nearby.

        4. fhqwhgads*

          Go to Discount Tire if there’s one nearby. They’ll check the pressure and fill it for you, free. 5 minutes.

          1. Clisby*

            Seconded – but you can buy a tire air compressor pretty cheaply and do it yourself. It plugs into the 12V receptacle (what used to be the cigarette lighter.)

            1. Nervous Nellie*

              They also make portable tire air compressors that charge by USB, and when charged, reinflate the tire when plugged directly into it. They sense the existing pressure level, and you set the settings to inflate to the required level (which is usually listed on a label inside the gas cap or one of the doors). In 30 seconds, the tire is pumped up. Awesome. The charger I bought is about the size of a bottle of Gatorade and is very easy to use. It’s great to have on hand for emergencies. I recharge it with my desktop computer about twice a year just to keep it ready for action.

        5. Dicey Tillerman*

          I ran into the same dilemma recently. I went to a VIP auto shop to buy a digital tire pressure gauge, and was going to just wing it via YouTube. The guy who rang me out mentioned that the auto shop would fill my tires for free, and I asked if I could watch them. I’m still nervous, but I think I could do it on my own if I needed to.

    4. Girasol*

      Do check the manual before you take it to a mechanic. My car flashes the “Major electrical problem!!” icon which can also mean (and always does), “Hey, you’ve got a headlight bulb burned out.” That’s so minor that even I, Fumblefingers, can fix it myself. A quick check of the manual can save you money as well as worry.

    5. Seashell*

      Is the weather cold where you are? I have had 2 cars of the same brand where the tire pressure light comes on when it hits around 20-25 degrees F. I think we asked the mechanic the first time it happened, but no actual tire problems ever happened.

    6. PhilG*

      Wrench usually means Service Due. Possibly a tire rotation and/or alignment. We get ours rotated every 5000 miles and it starts to nag us @ around 4900. Ditto with the oil change.

  27. PleaseNo*

    Based on your question-and-answer you had earlier this year (which was amazing!), it sounds like you don’t answer letters in order that they are received, but you also say to not post our questions to the weekend for-work discussion in case they will be answered. How long should we wait see if our letter is answered before we can post to the readers on the weekend? I’ve been waiting several months so far…

    1. Unkempt Flatware*

      Alison has asked that we email her to see if our question is slated to be answered. There is likely no set schedule.

    2. Pocket Mouse*

      I don’t know directly, but whenever this is asked the answer is in weeks, not months. I recall three weeks as a reasonable benchmark, so you’re safe to ask it in this Friday’s open thread!

  28. Sally Rhubarb*

    Anyone have recommendations for good sturdy every day walking shoes?

    I have a pair of Sauconys but the inside heels have worn down to the inner structure so my heels are rubbed raw.

    I have small feet so women’s or even kids shoes would fit.

    TYIA!

    1. Can't Sit Still*

      I recommend going to a runner’s store, like Road Runner, and getting fitted.

      Even with casual daily walking, you should still be replacing your shoes every 3 – 6 months. Learn to love unpopular color combinations so you can take advantage of sales. For example, if you really love orange, you’ll almost always be able to find deeply discounted shoes.

      I also really like Vionic, as they have non-athletic shoes that are very comfortable for walking. Orthofeet and SAS also have good shoes.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This. I live in a city and I walk a lot. I replace my shoes as soon as the rubber starts to wear down.

        I like Vionic as well. I’m on my second pair of Aetrex sneakers and I really like them– they’re my everyday casual shoes.

    2. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      Do you have a Good Feet store in your area? I got great non-sneaker walking shoes there that worked with my high arches. They work with your feet to find shoes that really fit. I need to go back, as I have different feet problems now.

    3. Manders*

      I second the idea of going to a running store. They really help a lot with fit. Also, they determined that I need to tie my shoes using a runner’s loop, which has helped me a lot with wear and tear of the interior heel of the shoe.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      Agree with others about going to a store that specializes in running and walking. I have arthritis in my big toe and my podiatrist gave me a list of recommended shoes. If you have access to that sort of list, it can be helpful.

      I have the Brooks Addiction. In black, they don’t look like running shoes so I can wear them even with dressy clothes. I’m pain-free and I wear them every day and walk a lot. They last a long time and when they eventually wear out, I get new ones. But really you need to find something that works for your particular feet.

  29. Ready to go home soon*

    I want to start buying more sustainable and better quality clothing. The problem is that price isn’t always an indicator that the item is better quality (sometimes it’s just marketing). So my question is, what companies sell sustainable, higher quality clothing that doesn’t cost a fortune. I’m willing to spend a reasonable amount for better quality but I don’t need designer clothes.

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Universal Standard – also inclusive sizing. Depending on what you mean by “a reasonable amount,” AYR and Faherty brand and for conventionally femme clothing Nic + Zoe. Eileen Fisher if you like that look.

      I do very well on ThredUp now that I know what sizes fit me in the brands I like.

      1. LA Girl*

        I second ThredUp. I regularly buy $250-$400 jackets there for $80. I’ve discovered brands I would never have found otherwise, and I feel good going into meetings knowing I’m well dressed.

    2. Bluebell*

      I ordered some things from pact last month, and wasn’t too impressed by the quality or fit, unfortunately. Part of the problem is that I’m just too petite for their stuff.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Are you looking to buy online or in person? And are you looking for specifically sustainably made clothing, or just good quality stuff that will last? There’s a channel I like (Jennifer Wang) on youtube that talks about how to tell if a piece is well made and high quality, but a lot of the things you look at are only visible in person. For instance, looking at whether the zipper lies flat and how the inside seams are finished.

    4. They Don’t Make Sunday*

      The website Good On You rates fashion brands on sustainability. I find it very helpful. They also do roundup blog posts (like on undergarments or sandals) that have introduced me to small brands I never would have heard of otherwise. They also have a search function if you’re looking for specific categories of items.

    5. mreasy*

      I like Pact for reasonably priced stuff. One alternative that’s sustainable is buying second hand through online marketplaces. Sizing can be tough but I tend to re-buy a size and cut in something I already know I like and will fit.

    6. Rosyglasses*

      If you follow Aja Barber (she also wrote Consumed) she posts alot on IG about her own company, but she also has a Patreon where she goes into depth about this. She has deep knowledge of the fashion industry (fast fashion, sweatshop work, who has quality and inclusive sizing and actually pays the workers a living wage). Highly recommend a follow there.

    7. Observer*

      If you just mean reasonably good quality that you can wash rather the dry clean (dry cleaning is environmentally terrible) and that will last for a decent amount of time, I’ve had good experience with Lands End as well. Their quality has gone down a bit since their sale and then spin off. But I’m still finding that I can wear their stuff for a fair number of seasons.

    8. Cat Executive Officer*

      Technically, the most sustainable type clothing you can buy is secondhand. For online secondhand stores, I use Poshmark, Mercari, and ThredUP.

      For new clothing, I really like Organic Basics for things like shirts and undergarments.

  30. The Dude Abides*

    Anyone have any recs for a fruit-flavored protein powder that goes well with just water? Blending up fruit and adding it is a no-go at (place we do not mention), and I am looking for something to drink in the afternoon.

    1. Bluebell*

      Sprout Living has Vanilla Lucuma which has a bit of banana flavor too, and also a collagen one that has raspberry in it that isn’t bad. Both are 15-20g protein.

    2. Anonymous Koala*

      If calories/sugar are fine, I like mixing unflavored collagen powder into pomegranate or orange juice with a blender bottle or handheld milk frother. I find the collagen taste is unnoticeable, and the juice gets foamy like when you add an egg white to a cocktail.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Some cals/sugar is fine; how much protein does the collagen powder have? I need something in the 20-25g/serving range.

        1. Anonymous Koala*

          I use vital proteins, which has 18g per 2 scoop serving. But I suspect this would work with any brand of collagen/cold-liquid dissolving protein, so there may be higher protein options out there. I find that 2 scoops is about the limit for my blender bottle (about 12 oz) as more doesn’t dissolve as well.

  31. Can't Sit Still*

    My 8 year old cat had a procedure last week and went in yesterday for a recheck. He was feeling much better, so he growled like a demon, expressed his anal glands all over the vet techs and escaped them completely until they were able to herd him into a corner. He’s fine, BTW.

    I found all of this out when a very frazzled vet tech, covered in his hair and…other things, brought him back out to me. This is a new-to-us practice and he had been fine on the previous visits, so I assumed he would be ok this time, too, and didn’t remind them to treat him like a feral cat. Oops.

    Anyway, the waiting room was full, so I had a large audience for his shenanigans, all of whom were desperately trying to keep a straight face. I was mortified but also found it hilarious.

    Please share your pets’ mortifying, yet hilarious, behavior at the vet (or the groomer, because I once had a kitten who screamed so loud during his medical bath that everyone in the waiting room could hear his shrieks and was growing increasingly uncomfortable the longer it went on. When they brought him out, shrieking all the while, everyone burst out laughing at the tiny kitten in a purple bow with the very big lungs.)

    1. Generic Name*

      One of my cats is the friendliest cat on the planet and is tolerant and cooperative at the vet. My other cat is much more cautious and is pretty nervous and would rather hide. One year, when she was a kitten, she crawled into my purse while we were waiting for the vet to come into the exam room.

    2. Rainy*

      We have two cats and one is the cat who never gets in trouble at home and is a massive sweetie with expensive medical problems…and hates the vet. She screams, she sprouts extra legs, she wails like the damned having a colonoscopy with no anaesthesia, she goes limp and improbably heavy…the whole nine yards. Oh, and she is hard to catch–one of those super eely cats–and hates to be medicated so when her expensive health problems flare up, giving her medication is a twice-daily ordeal that all of us dread.

      The other one, Satan’s calico, pushes everything in the house off everything else just to see what will happen, chews on everything (EVERYTHING–doesn’t eat it, just perforates it and leaves it covered in spit), falls off stuff all the time, dragging everything around her onto the floor with her, tries to escape whenever possible…and is totally bulletproof. No health concerns at all, and is absolutely charming for the vet. She chonk but she’s always juuuust shy of being a heckin chonker so the vet’s always like “if she gains one more pound…” but she never does. Everyone adores her.

      The dog is perfectly fine for the vet until the needles come out, and perfectly fine when they board him unless they try to give him a bath. We bathe him at home no problem, but for a while we always asked for a bath when he boarded and they’d be like “no bath today, sorry!” until the time they said, with slightly more brittle cheerfulness “no bath today…he’s a little gremlin!” and I said “Ah, okay. Say no more!” So we don’t ask anymore :P

      1. exoboist1*

        Oh, I really enjoyed how you put these stories.

        We similarly have a cat who’s a total demon at home (every crash in the house means we yell “Thanks, Snowie” and then investigate), but an angel at the vets. He’s entirely cowed by them and hides in the carrier or stays very still. They also misgender him as he’s so very pretty but I doubt he cares.

        1. Rainy*

          Satan’s Calico is so outgoing that she assumes everyone loves her, so they do :) She’s VERY confident. We bought her during the pandemic off a girl whose “Persian” cat had kittens unexpectedly, but we think that if the mum was purebred she was likely Ragdoll, not Persian. I’m going to get a DNA test for her to see what we can know about her genetics. :)

    3. Chauncy Gardener*

      Our last cat climbed up on my husband’s shoulder at her first vet visit after we came home from the shelter. Just sat up there purring her head off!

      My last Best Good Dog would sit on the bench in the vet’s waiting room like a person, waiting for her appointment, wagging her tail at everyone who passed by. Just THRILLED to be at the vet because so.much.attention!! Plus she was a pit, so totally impervious to any discomfort from the vaccines or whatever.

      1. Kat*

        I had a cat that did this! She had ckd and I’d have all these extremely serious conversations with the vet with her perched on my shoulder

    4. Turtle Dove*

      My husband rescued a feral cat who was living under a colleague’s deck. He drove the cat to a friend’s vet practice for a checkup. I’m pretty sure he used a carrier in the car. For some reason, Mr. Dove thought it’d be okay to skip the carrier and take the feral cat into the waiting room in his arms. They entered the glass-enclosed vestibule, and all heck broke loose. The cat went berserk in front of various staff and waiting patients. It was described as a ball of fur bouncing off various vestibule surfaces. At least it happened in a contained space. The cat was soon caught and survived his first vet visit. We named him Crash in honor of that story, and the vet staff remembered Crash and his dramatic entrance every time he went back — always in a carrier!

    5. Pamela Adams*

      I had a cat with diabetes. I could inject him with no problems, but the vet techs had the worst time drawing blood. (I did him last time! It’s your turn!)

    6. Goldfeesh*

      A few years ago one of my rats, (Allen) Lazard, got hind leg degeneration. We opted to put him down before it progressed super far. He had been an athletic rat and it didn’t seem fair to make him spend the end of his life dragging himself around. Our vet had a large kleenex box on the exam desk. Lazard saw it and went into it immediately and leaned on it to groom himself easier. He was enthusiastically grooming away, it was so cute. His spirit was definitely willing. :)

    7. I take tea*

      I took my parent’s sweet, elderly cat to the vet. She’s so small everyone thinks she’s still a kitten and very calm – until they brought out the vaccine. Suddenly our sweet cat started flaying so the needle flew high in the air and some of the vaccine went into the eye of the vet. You couldn’t think that a cat under three kilos could fight that hard! They had to swaddle her in a towel and try again. Now I always tell them not to be decieved by her and just do the burrito thing.

    8. ghost_cat*

      My husband and I were standing in the consult room, with our dog, awaiting the vet. The vet stepped in, waved his hand towards the chairs and told us to take a seat. Without missing a beat, our dog jumped up onto the chair & looked at him awaiting her next instruction.

    9. KR*

      I once had to take my dog to the groomer right after work – like clock out of work, run home and pick him up, and *zoom* to the groomer. We had to park a bit away from the salon, and it was both extremely hot out so we needed to speed walk to reduce the hot-pavement time, and we also were late. My dog was dawdling and giving me such a hard time, and then when he was done with the groom the groomer let me know he immediately pooped on the floor as soon as she took him back. Oops, sorry buddy. That’s why he was dawdling

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      My old cat, Danny (named for Danny John-Jules) was a vet visit berzerker. I think he was traumatized by past owners (he was declawed on his front paws) and let his rage be known in no uncertain vocal terms. It was so embarrassing because the vet would be doing something like listening to his heart and he’d be yowling like his legs were being pulled off.

      He was a tough, tough patient his whole life, but bless those vets, they never turned him away.

    11. Lissajous*

      At the other end of the scale I have one cat who stress purrs (and somehow stress sheds, regardless of time of year). He seems to operate on the theory that humans got him in to this situation, so if he’s Extra Cute the humans might fix the situation. (He has the big green eyes and eyeliner to back up the performance, with supporting pink nose and ears, and is in general a Very Good Boy. Aside from the Mad Half Hour, but no cat can be held responsible for that, and even then he’s never broken anything.)

      This means the vets have never been able to hear his heart through a stethoscope, because Purring Extra Hard.

    12. But Not the Hippopotamus*

      We have the black cat. He is not super cuddly or demonic, but pretty typical… until we go to the vet.

      He is So Calm there. They have the little baby scale for weighing and when we were waiting for the vet after the tech took vitals he just climbed up on it and settled in for a nap. it’s kinda banana-pants… especially with the other cat hiding in the carrier hoping we forget him.

    13. PhilG*

      Have a couple of 6 month old puppies, sisters from the same litter. Had them fixed a couple of weeks ago. Vet came in when we came to pick them up and noted that one had both legs shaved as she had pulled out the first IV before being sedated. The wife and I looked at each other and said “Daphne” at the same time. Yup. She also managed to invert her cone-of-shame into a skirt the next day. Her full name is “Daphne Entropy’s Arrow”.

    14. Slartibartfast*

      My older Bostie spent her first 6 months traveling to work with me. A coworker asked me if she could bring her out to show her to a client in the lobby. Yeah, sure. No problem.

      Except she got a little too excited, lik.cked coworker all over the face, and ate one of the earrings she was wearing. In front of the client. We confirmed it by X-ray.

      Thankfully the earring was not expensive and coworker did not want it back.

    15. Sally Rhubarb*

      Anyone have recommendations for good sturdy every day walking shoes?

      I have a pair of Sauconys but the inside heels have worn down to the inner structure so my heels are rubbed raw.

      I have small feet so women’s or even kids shoes would fit.

      TYIA!

    16. Sally Rhubarb*

      I got a new cat in September and he is an absolute love. He’s also fearless. I took him to the vet and he just swaned around like he owned the place.

      He also kept trying to jump into the sharps bin.

    17. old curmudgeon*

      Our late and much-lamented tuxedo boy Finn MacCumhaill was one of those rare cats who cannot express their anal glands, which we discovered when one of his ruptured a year or so after we adopted him. For the rest of his life, we had to take him into the vet every three months to have his anal glands expressed, an experience that he DID NOT ENJOY AT ALL despite the fact that he inevitably felt better afterward.

      During those years, on multiple occasions, our poor patient vet was the target of his revenge pee (he’d get it all over the front of her scrubs, all over the cabinets and drawers three feet away and all over the assisting technician’s hands) and at least twice she also got shmeared with his revenge poop. He was a small cat and he knew he couldn’t escape the strong, gentle hands that held him down and subjected him to such indignities, so by golly, he was going to deploy his very own biological warfare in retaliation.

      And when we finally had to bid farewell to him last year at age 17, our vet wept at his passing nearly as much as we did. She is a pretty special person, and I am deeply grateful to have her caring for our fur-kids.

  32. Double A*

    I’m looking for suggestions for making it comfortable for guests to stay with us without a dedicated guest room (specifically what to sleep on). I want to hear about all ideas regardless of cost at the moment.

    Right now I’m mostly considering:

    Sofabeds. Kind of notoriously uncomfortable but maybe there are better options these days?

    Floor futons. I’ve spent some time looking at Japanese floor futons and they are intriguing, wondering if anyone has any experience with these.

    I’m not very keen on air mattresses but if you have one that impresses you I’m open to hear about it and any other suggestions as well that your guests have liked?

    1. Bluebell*

      Depending on the age of your expected guests, and how welcoming you want to be, you might want to have either a sofabed or a futon on a convertible frame. An air mattress definitely doesn’t take up much space, but it can be uncomfortable to get up and down from it. We have a futon on a convertible frame, and it has worked well for our guests.

      1. WellRed*

        This. I’d be fine on a futon in theory but getting up off the floor is tricky. They are also kind of bulky to store.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        We use an air bed when we camp and have two for guests, one queen size and one twin. They can be the height of a regular bed and I find it quite comfortable. I prefer it to most sofa beds, honestly.

        1. intothesarchasm*

          Agree. Slept on one of those for three months when caring for a sick family member and it was very comfy.

    2. Rara Avis*

      My husband and I sleep on a futon on tatami mats. (And have done so for almost 30 years.) However, it’s too sturdy a futon to roll up and put away. The challenge for guests would be the ability to get up easily from the floor.

      For guests we have a fold-out futon couch. It’s really comfortable both as a couch and a bed. It’s a devil to open and close, though.

      My experience with sofa beds is that they have terrible back support.

    3. Rainy*

      Murphy bed! They make them in big furniture installations that provide shelving and storage as well as the bed. A friend of mine put a Murphy bed in her home office so it can double as a guest room and is super happy with it because it doesn’t take up floor space the 50 weeks of the year no one is using it but it’s also an actual comfortable guest bed when people are using it.

      What I think of as the traditional Murphy beds fold down in portrait mode so the armoire piece is really tall, but there’s a place locally that also has landscape mode ones so the furniture piece can be used as a TV bench or any other reasonably proportioned flat space along the wall of a room.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        There was a little girl in a book I read as a child who slept on a Murphy bed. I’ve wanted one ever since. Just for the cool factor.

      2. Rick Tq*

        There are also smaller Murphy beds where the mattress is stored in thirds in a chest. When you open the bed you unstack the mattress sections and put on the bedding. It isn’t quite as convenient as a full bed but the unit is much smaller at about 42″ high, 63″ wide, but 23″ deep when folded up to be a chest or a TV stand.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          We have a cabinet Murphy bed with a foam mattress- sort of like what is described above except ours it unfolds into a queen sized bed. My parents sleep on it for two or three weeks at a time. I like that it is not fixed to a wall like a regular Murphy bed, so we could conceivably move it to another room if we ever repurpose the current guest room. It also doesn’t take up that much space when in its storage position.

      3. Double A*

        I love the idea of a Murphy bed! I can’t see where we would fit it in our house, though, because doesn’t it basically involve having a wall you don’t put anything in front of? We definitely don’t have that. But it’s something I hadn’t thought about and I can mull it over.

        1. MJ*

          If you don’t use it often, you can alway have things in front that just get moved out of the way when you need to open the bed.

          Alternatively, there are wall beds that include sofas, which then provide support to the bed when opened. Or ones that have bookcases which get pushed to the side when you want to open the bed. (This does require a wall large enough to fit a bookcase on either side of the bed.)

          I’ve also seen ones that open horizontally, so only go part way up the wall. Though I think most of these tend to be twin mattresses.

    4. fposte*

      I have a sofabed that gets enhanced with plywood sheeting under the mattress and a thick latex topper with a thinner layer of memory foam on top. It gets really good reviews from visitors.

      1. Mztery1*

        We stayed similarly in an Airbnb that had a comfy sofa bed, but also had a Tempur-pedic topper to put on top of it. It was great!

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      Well, I vote NO to a futon. Slept on one while visiting a kid in college. Terrible. Casting a vote for a Murphy bed!

    6. ThatGirl*

      We have a Serta air mattress that’s extra thick, so higher off the ground and more comfy to sleep on. My friends tell me it’s good for an air mattress. But I think it partly depends on how long you expect guests to stay.

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We have a queen sized air mattress that’s very comfortable. I think it’s a King Koil. When it’s inflated it’s the height of a regular bed so it’s easy to get on and off. Our guests have been pretty comfortable in it, and I slept well the week I spent in my office during my partner’s covid. I have a little trouble folding it up and fitting it into its bag when it’s deflated but I haven’t exactly spent too much time trying to get it right.

    8. kina lillet*

      There are some pretty tall—like 2.5 feet tall—air mattresses; I don’t have one but slept on one and liked it.

      For psychic comfort, having a room divider, screen, or curtain would probably be really helpful. Doing what you can to give the guest an enclosed area even if a closed door isn’t possible.

    9. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I’d vote for a futon couch as well. The other thing to bear in mind for sofa beds is there is often a low-ish weight limit due to the sofa part being essentially a cantilever. Many can’t do above 400 lbs which if you’re hoping it will sleep a couple, is not a lot.

    10. All Monkeys are French*

      I recently bought a new guest bed based on Wirecutter’s recommendation. I bought a folding metal frame and a tri-fold foam mattress. I got a queen size. The frame is in two pieces and folds up pretty small (I keep mine in the garage, but it could easily fit in a closet or under a bed). The folded mattress is stored in a closet. I find it very comfortable.

    11. Goldfeesh*

      For years we had a futon couch. It was a nice, high-quality wooden framed one with a thick mattress. It was super comfortable. There’s a ton of difference between a lightweight Walmart going-to-college futon and nice one from a furniture store.

    12. Melissa*

      I also vote for a tall air mattress, but would add a thick mattress quilt topper on top (and I use sheet clips to hold it in place). Have you seen the cardboard bed bases that fold away flat? I have one and it’s great, and could be another way to add height to an air mattress.

    13. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

      My sister has a futon I sleep on when I’m visiting. The problem was with the frame – it had a solid bar down the middle of the frame that was very uncomfortable if you weren’t lying on your back in the dead center of the bed. A memory foam mattress topper fixed that problem, but I have still managed to tip myself out of the bed when I rolled over to the edge of the futon – the frame pivoted on the central bar and dropped me to the floor. I think a floor futon would work better.

    14. Not A Manager*

      When I needed a sofa sleeper as my only daytime sitting option and only nighttime sleeping option, I got one from American Leather that was quite comfortable for both. It’s very pricey, though.

      Murphy beds that are great for sleeping, because you can put an actual mattress on them. Unless you get a complicated one with built-in other furniture, the downside is, it’s basically a big blank wall that you can’t use for shelving or other storage, and you need to keep the area in front of it clear, or easily clearable.

      Air mattress technology has really improved. You can get ones that inflate to basically bed height and they go very firm. I have the SoundAsleep Dream model, which I think is fine. I recently borrowed my friends’ Aero brand and that is fancier but a lot larger and heavier to store.

      1. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

        Just remembered – growing up my sister had a guest Murphy bed in her bedroom. My dad built a bookcase that had an open space that would fit the mattress. On the other side of the board that held the mattress he put a cork board to use as a bulletin board. When up, the bed was held in place with dowels from the bookcases around the bed that fit into the frame of the bed.

    15. Dancing Otter*

      When I (70 F with bad knees) visited my daughter, her sofa futon was impossible due to the bar down the middle. Fortunately, she also had a reasonably high inflatable mattress. I wouldn’t say it was *easy* to get out of, but it was comfortable. She got it from a camping store, maybe REI? The pump worked both to inflate and to deflate it, a far cry from the ones you used to have to squeeze the air out of.

      Be sure you have a space large enough to have some room around the mattress or to lay it sideways. Crawling in and out at one end was the hardest part.

    16. anon24*

      We have a futon instead of a sofa in our living room and it is so comfortable and perfect for occasional guests! The exact model isn’t in stock any more, but we got it off of Amazon. It has a wooden/metal frame, and folds out to the size of a full sized mattress. The mattress itself is about 5-6 inches thick and firm enough that you can’t feel the frame underneath it. It’s so comfortable that my husband actually prefers to sleep on it instead of on our expensive mattress some nights and not because we fight :D We’ve had it about 5 or 6 years and it’s held up great, we bought a couple bright colored mattress covers that we swap every few weeks to wash.

    17. Nihil Scio*

      Here’s a slightly strange idea
      At our cabin, we added a second mattress to one of the beds in the spare room. With the box spring it makes for a rather tall bed but…
      Any time we have extra guests, we drag it onto the floor for an extra, comfy, bed
      Kind of a ‘Princess and the Pea’ solution

    18. Double A*

      For people recommending futons with frames, any specific models? I don’t think that would work in our space but maybe I’m not understanding what people are suggesting. My concern about a futon that is a permanent piece of furniture is that it would be in our playroom/TV room and would see heavy daily lounging and abuse from small children. I need padded furniture in the room where the potential sofabed/futon would be.

      1. Overeducated*

        Ikea Friheten sofa-bed! we have it. our kids jump on it all the time. it isn’t fold out with an internal frame, the back folds down to make a platform, so its more comfortable than the older sofa beds.

    19. Qwerty*

      I truly loved my Ikea futon for years. My sister had the same one and used it as her real bed when she lived in a studio. I don’t have the model name since it was discontinued years ago, but I imagine the newer ones are similar. It’s a firm mattress where you lay the back down to turn it into a double size bed rather than unrolling a lumpy mattress. I think a lot of other budget stores sell similar styles especially around the start of the school year.

      1. Hazel*

        If you have space, Ikea pullout daybeds are great. With cushions can be a decentish occasional use sofa (like in an office/bedroom) and a proper twin or double bed. If you have to store it, I second a folding frame plus mattress, add a cheap yoga mat underneath to smooth out the bars of the frame. If you can’t store a foam mattress, get the 2-3” thick therm-a-rest (inflatable closed cell foam) type mattresses that store rolled up. A bit bulky but as comfy as a really good mattress, much better than airbeds and don’t deflate over time!

    20. Bibliovore*

      This might sound nuts but my guests say it works.
      I have a queen size fold out couch that is really easy to pull out.
      on that I have natural latex mattress pads. (these are rolled up in the closet and then go one the bed)
      On top of those I have a feather bed.

    21. Random Bystander*

      A daybed could also work–with a tailored cover, you can have it look more sofa-like than bed-like. My mom has one in the computer room in the house, which has been where I’ve slept the last few visits.

    22. Imtheone*

      As a guest and host, here are my thoughts:

      Twin-size bed in a frame that looks like a sofa, with bolsters and pillows for comfortable sitting, with a pop-up twin mattress underneath. This is often called a day bed. We’ve had ours for years. Key is to replace the mattresses as needed.

      High quality futon mattress on a frame that converts to a bed. We had one of these in the past. We were able to get the frame with nice storage drawers which gave us a place for the bedding. When guests came, they could put some items into the now-emptied drawers.

      My sister has the high-style air bed. Negative is that blankets and sheets cannot be tucked in, abandoned as it’s not in front of a wall, I tend to push my pillow off the head of the bed. It’s in her basement tv room, so she puts an insulating mat under it. For comfort, she adds a foam topper.

      To help guest comfort, a place for clothes, a bedside table and light, and somewhere (not the floor) to put the suitcase, especially at night.

  33. Cat*

    I have happily slept on the Ikea Friheten Sofa Bed before.

    Floor futons might not work for people with hip and knee pain, or mobility issues.

  34. RetiredAcademicLibrarian*

    Do you ever think computers know too much about you? I was just playing a game on my tablet when I got an ad for Llama Movers https://llamamovers.com. Now I’ve never read AAM on my tablet, so I don’t know how they knew I’d be tickled by a llama ad.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      if you’ve ever logged in to something on your tablet and logged in to the same something from whatever device you read AAM on, then it knows both devices are you.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I like it when I can trick the algorithm by ordering something that’s not for me and has nothing to do with my life (Say, a fishing rod or tool kit as a gift) and am immediately presumed to be The Great Outdoorswoman and have ads for plaid and leather everything deluging me.

      1. kudu*

        When I had a new job and a preschooler I was both searching for books for the preschooler and learning the chemistry of explosives. Made the Amazon recommendations a little wild!

      2. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain*

        lol same…Christmas shopping makes all the ad algorithms go bonkers for a while.

        Unfortunately using social media…Instagram for me…can lead to some interesting ads based on what people I follow are also interested in apparently. For example I like national parks and camping…follow someone with great nature photos and camping tips who also apparently is prepping for end-of-times and now I’m getting posts and ads for prepping…some of which can be disturbing…I figure out what’s triggering it, unfollow the account and most of it goes away eventually.

  35. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

    Mascara recommendations? Mine is irritating my eyes a bit, which is probably just because it’s ancient but I want to try something new anyway. I want something that doesn’t clump, is drug store cheap, and hopefully won’t irritate my eyes. It doesn’t have to be super lengthening or supper thickening.

    1. mreasy*

      I have sensitive eyes and find tubing mascaras easier to wear. I like Thrive Causemetics and Tarteist but they may be pricier than you want. I have also had luck in the past with Almay eye products

    2. Rainy*

      Question: how often do you wear mascara?

      I stopped buying full-size mascaras and now I exclusively buy the travel/sample sizes from Sephora. Stay away from anything that has fibers in them–they irritate the eyes. I don’t do the “tubing” mascaras for the same reason although I know a lot of people swear by them.

      The Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, Benefit Roller Lash or They’re Real, and Tarte Surfer Curl have all worked well for me in the past. They’re Real has a terrifying brush (do NOT get this one if you poke yourself in the eye a lot doing mascara) and a very liquid formula, and Surfer Curl is pretty dry formula-wise, the other two are somewhere in the middle.

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oooh, travel size sounds lovely! I never use up mascara (or any other makeup, really), I just toss it when it dries up or the expiration date is so far past I feel uncomfortable with it. Do makeup stores have a separate travel size section or is it mixed in with the normal size stuff?

        My main problem with mascara application is blinking too soon and getting it on my skin, never had a problem with poking myself. Does the They’re Real dry quickly?

        1. Rainy*

          Sephora keeps most of their travel mascaras in the impulse buy section that you wend through on the way to the registers, in store. If you buy on line it’s a size option on the main product page.

          They’re Real does not dry quickly–if you have issues with it smearing when you blink, I’d go with Better Than Sex or Surfer Curl. Better Than Sex dries fast, and Surfer Curl is so dry as a formula that it basically goes on dry.

          1. Pippa K*

            I like Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes, which comes in travel size as well. But my current favorite is Glossier’s Lash Slick, which is full-size only.

            1. Rainy*

              I’m pretty suspicious of Glossier due to their poor quality control. It seems like they’ve addressed some of that in recent years, but even a few years ago their trustpilot reviews were dominated by people saying that their mascara, brow gel, and lip stain tubes were arriving dried up and with a weird smell, and now their trustpilot indicates that a lot of people are having bad experiences with their shipping and customer service.

                1. Rainy*

                  Worth keeping in mind especially because it seems like they use a fulfillment company and it’s basically impossible to return stuff to an etailer that uses a fulfillment company. I think you’re safe with stuff you buy at Sephora as it’ll be subject to their return policies but direct from the vendor seems like it’s getting iffy.

                  I’ve been bitten by that myself–I love Betabrand for work pants, and I had never had any issues with their shipping until my last order, which took more than a month to get to me! When I looked at trustpilot, it was pretty obvious that it’s a crap shoot and I’d just been lucky my first several orders.

    3. Maryn*

      Another vote for Benefit’s They’re Real. Pricey–but if you watch for sales, you can get it for $12, a price that competes with drugstore brands.

      If you’re limited to drug store brands, L’Oreal’s Voluminous is perfectly decent and smears less on me than most.

    4. Seashell*

      I like Glossier’s mascara. It’s very natural looking and doesn’t really look like you’re wearing mascara. It’s $18, so a little on the high end.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        This is the only mascara I’ve found that doesn’t flake, after trying all the big names and supermarket basics. It’s like old school mascara, without all the fillers, fibres and bulking nonsense. It was recommended to me here, and I liked it enough to import from the US, but now they sell it in the UK, hurrah! The brow gel is also a heaven sent product.

    5. LA Girl*

      I second ThredUp. I regularly buy $250-$400 jackets there for $80. I’ve discovered brands I would never have found otherwise, and I feel good going into meetings knowing I’m well dressed.

      1. LA Girl*

        Oops, nesting fail — the site told me I’d already posted that comment.

        As for mascara, I love Maybelline Falsies Lash Lift. The wand shape makes it go on smooth and thick. I toss it every 2 months for safety, but it’s so cheap it doesn’t matter.

    6. sagewhiz*

      My 15-yr-old grdaughter turned me on to Essence Princess mascara and I LOVE it! Had tried sorts over the years, never really happy until now. And it’s super-cheap, so bonus points.

      Two things to keep in mind: waterproof mascaras don’t smudge as much, and mascara should be replaced at least a couple of times a year. Old mascara does dry out, and can contribute to itchiness due to eyelash mites (I know, ugh, but we all got ‘em)

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      I love Diorshow waterproof mascara. I get the brown color because I’m older and pretty fair and it doesn’t look harsh. I get it from Sephora. It’s not cheap, but it stays on until I want it off and looks great. I do get new mascara a few times a year to make sure it’s clean/safe.

    8. DrugStoreCheap Cowgirl*

      I’m laughing a bit at how you specified “drug store cheap” and many comments say “this mascara is not cheap.”

      For true drug store cheap, non-clumping, and doesn’t irritate (my) eyes, Maybelline Great Lash is a classic for a reason!

      1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

        Oh, no big deal, I’m only going to buy one kind of mascara anyways. But yeah, I’m not spending gobs of money on something I only wear occasionally. I think the pricey stuff only makes sense if you are using it every day.

  36. LizB*

    In two weeks, give or take a couple days, I will be having my first baby! (Scheduled induction for medical reasons.) Any last-minute advice from parents in the crowd? I have read all the books, taken all the classes, have good friends with recent babies to learn from, my instagram reels are wall-to-wall tips and tricks and “things nobody tells you”. I still feel like I know nothing and yet in roughly sixteen days I will be bringing home an actual tiny human.

    1. Lilo*

      I think the thing I want to tell new parents is it is okay if you’re not feeling happy at the first bit. I really struggled with the first few weeks, learning to breastfeed, the anxiety, the hormones. And there’s this aspect of guilt because there’s a lot of social pressure to be happy with your new baby. For me, it was really really hard but it got better very quickly. The worst was the first couple weeks, by week 6 when my son started smiling, things were significantly better. Be kind to yourself.

      1. Lilo*

        I want to add that it’s not a prediction. I had a close friend who loved the newborn period. but I also know people who felt the same as I did. And we’re not bad moms. I love being a mom, my son is this amazing kid.

      2. Jen Erik*

        The week 6 advice is golden – I remember phoning a friend when my first was tiny, asking something like “How long does this last?” and she, very kindly, said 6 weeks.
        And I found that true on some level – I think I’d almost say it took my brain that long to adjust, to embed the idea that I had a baby to care for.)

        1. intothesarchasm*

          Agree. Slept on one of those for three months when caring for a sick family member and it was very comfy.

      3. California Dreamin’*

        Yes, so much this! I cried so much in the first month with my first baby. The total lack of control over my life and total lack of sleep came as a giant shock wave, even though in theory I knew it was going to be hard. I remember sobbing to my husband that I did nothing but care for the baby but it didn’t seem like he even liked me. I too found that when my son started smiling around six weeks, it felt like the clouds parted and the sun shone through, and it was all uphill from there.

        My other kids were twins, so that was hard all over again in a new way. I really always wished I’d been able to have one more singleton after that because I feel like at that point I was a pro and would’ve been able to relax and enjoy the newborn phase!

      4. Patty Mayonnaise*

        You can also be unhappy during the middle bit, or the last bit, or the whole newborn stage. 7 months was the killer for me.

    2. You'll be OK!*

      You’ll be OK. The baby will be OK. If not, you will be in the hospital talking to experts. Everything else that could possibly happen will turn out to be OK. Folks have had babies for thousands of years. You’ll do great! You’ve got this!

      1. Tinamedte*

        You obviously inspired me, because without noticing it, I repeated your last sentence in my own reply :-))

    3. Tinamedte*

      These concepts have been important to me in my parenting:
      – respect and curiosity
      – trust, time and patience
      As much of the above as I have been able to muster. When I haven’t been able, I’ve tried to accept, forgive myself, rest and seek help where appropriate (from friends, health care, family etc). Not always successfully but often enough.

      Congratulations on the new tiny human! You got this!

    4. MP*

      My favorite quote for new parents:
      “ Whenever someone tells me they’re expecting their first baby and they’re nervous, I tell them the following: “Oh my goodness, that’s wonderful. I am so happy for you. Listen, of course you’re nervous but here’s the deal: you’re ready for all the bad stuff. You’ve been very tired before. You’ve been in pain before. You’ve been worried about money before. You’ve felt like an incapable moron before. So you’ll be fine with the difficult parts! You’re already a pro. What you’re NOT ready for is the wonderful parts. NOTHING can prepare you for how amazing this will be. There is no practice for that.” -Rob Delaney

      The only other thing I’d add is to not take any advice too seriously because every baby is different and social media can be very stressful with all the advice, tips, tricks and expectations it can set so just be mindful of that. You got this!!

    5. Elle*

      Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if something doesn’t seem right with you or the baby. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Be sure to go to your follow up postpartum visits in the months following the birth.

    6. HBJ*

      When it comes to babies, there really isn’t a right or wrong. Cry it out? Sure! Pick them up right away! Sure! Co sleep? Sure! Can’t sleep unless they’re in their own bed? Sure! Swaddle? Sure! They hate swaddling? Sure! Anti paci? Sure! Love a paci? Sure! Nurse them to sleep? Sure! Put them down awake? Sure! I’m not black or white on most infant things. Do what works for you. Certainly, a lot of people will tell you you’re Absolutely Wrong for cosleeping or not cosleeping or whatever, but I say just do what you do need to do, and the kid will be fine.

      1. kz*

        Yes I love this! The best advice I got when my first baby was born was “there are a lot of right ways to do things, and only a few really wrong ones.” It keeps me centered when I’m spiraling AND helps to keep at bay my (unfortunately) tendency to be judgey of others.

      2. Ellis Bell*

        One of my mum friends has a baby who runs very hot, so if you put mittens on her she immediately throws them into the road or into a river or whatever. Mum learned very quickly to just leave off the mittens because baby doesn’t like them. Baby learned she was allowed to wiggle her fingers in the frosty air. Cue an absolute busybody and total stranger on the street telling her she was a “terrible mother” because her baby wasn’t wearing mittens. My friend’s response to him was something like “I don’t really care what you think?”

    7. Rara Avis*

      I was surprised at how hard it was for me and my baby to learn how to breastfeed. You would think it should be easy, or the human race wouldn’t survive. But it wasn’t easy for us and I appreciated every bit of help from the lactation onsultant.

      1. E*

        +1 came here to say this. You can look into now what your insurance covers and get recs for an LC so if you encounter trouble you’re ready to get help quickly – the first few weeks really matter if you want to nurse.

      2. Slartibartfast*

        If it was inherently easy, we wouldn’t have had professional wet nurses in the times before formula.

        1. Observer*

          If it was inherently easy, we wouldn’t have had professional wet nurses in the times before formula.

          Professional wet nurses were not so much about the difficulty of nursing as the status / wealth of mothers who could afford to pay a wet nurse.

          1. Part time lab tech*

            And maternal death rates. Also, there were often other nursing mother relatives around to share the load or show new mum or the baby directly. (Some babies don’t have good latch.)

    8. Christmas cookie*

      Enjoy!! I’ve had 3 and my favorite maternity leave was my first. It’s messy but it’s just you and the newborn. Have some great tv queued up. With my second I had to deal with my oldest and by the time I had my 3rd I wanted maternity leave from my maternity leave!!!

      1. Double A*

        I found nothing more stressful than people telling me to “enjoy every moment” because I did not and then I felt guilty on top of it.

        What I finally figured out what: enjoy the enjoyable moments. Slow down and appreciate them when they’re happening. But if there are moments, even many of them, that you will not enjoy and you don’t need to enjoy them. Newborns are Not My Thing. I enjoyed: their yawns; the goo they get in their little palms; the way they chomp on the boob. That was all. With my second I leaned into enjoying those things and otherwise eagerly awaited the day he could hold his head up on his own and begin to emerge from the unhappy potato phase.

    9. Seashell*

      Take a stool softener after you give birth. Check with the doctor, of course, but it’s worth checking.

      After kid #1, no stool softener given. I did not go for 7 days. It was seriously uncomfortably when I did. I had a c-section, so that may have made matters worse.

      After kid #2, stool softener given in the hospital. I went before I went home. No problem in that department.

      Aside from that, remember that a lot of really clueless people manage to raise kids and have them turn out decent, so you can too. Also, every parent makes mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up too much when they happen (and they will).

    10. Vanessa*

      If there isn’t a meal train arraigned yet please let someone organize it for you! It was such a relief to us that first night home we literally teared up. My go to gift for people far away now is sending a meal and flowers via Costco.

    11. chocolate muffins*

      Congratulations! My son was born a bit more than a year ago and here are some things that come to mind:
      – I was surprised to see folks above saying that it gets better after six weeks. If you have a hard time at first, it definitely gets better! Just, people’s timelines are different. I read many people online saying that they didn’t feel like themselves for a year. For me, the first few weeks were fine and then I had a terrible time from ~4 weeks until ~8 months. You might never have a hard time. You might have an easy time and then a hard time. People’s timelines are different. I wanted to emphasize that it gets better and also that if it doesn’t get better for you at the 6 week mark, that is also normal.
      – If you need it, there is so much help. I second the person who suggested a meal train. We also hired a doula to watch our kid overnight some nights so that we could sleep, which was super important for me. We had a friend stay with us for a while who had had kids before and helped us do things like put our son on a schedule so that we could predict when he would need to eat and when he would nap, etc. (This was ~3 months, I think? Don’t remember exactly but a schedule isn’t feasible immediately, but it really helped us once he was old enough for one.) When things got really hard for me, I found therapy and Zoloft to be helpful. One thing I would do differently if we have another child is to over-invest in help up front. I understand that not all of the specific things I’m listing here are feasible for everyone but I think the general principle of over-investing in help still applies, in whatever way that looks for you.
      – I love the thing someone said above about being prepared for the hard parts but not the joyful parts. I was definitely not prepared for how hard it got for me but I was also not prepared for how joyful it is now and that quote just really resonated with me, so thank you to whoever posted that.
      – I know you said you’ve read all the books, but just in case you want to read more and haven’t come across this one yet, I found Good Inside by Becky Kennedy to be helpful.
      – My husband has a framework of “making parenting work” that I find super helpful. We have a kid now but we are still ourselves and we need to be good to ourselves so we try to parent in a way that works for us. We like going out to eat so we bring our kid with us. We wanted to travel internationally when he was ~8 months so we brought him (that was an amazing trip and is a big part of the reason why things started going better for me around that time). I need to run errands downtown sometimes so I put my son in the stroller and we go for a walk together so I can do my errands. We include him in our lives rather than trying to reshape our lives around him all the time.
      – Love what the person above said about there being many right ways to do something and very few wrong ways, cosign that 100%.
      – For when your kid starts eating solid foods, Little Spoon has been a godsend for us. Many families feed their kids whatever the adults are eating and that works well for them! For us, having a company send nutritious meals that are in toddler-sized pieces makes life a lot easier.
      – In general we have a pretty strong emphasis on making life easy and having fun together.

      Sending all the good thoughts to you and your family.

      1. Patty Mayonnaise*

        Very much agreed about the timelines! I had what I now realize was a difficult infant in that things were bonkers for a year, but you have an exceptionally easy baby if things get better at 6 weeks! In my experience most fall in between.

    12. HannahS*

      That tiny human will be a whole person, right from the start, with their own way of doing things that might differ from someone else’s baby (or from your expectations.) You may yourself change in ways that you don’t expect, or experience certain parts of new parenthood differently than you thought you would. Be ready to be flexible and adaptable.

    13. Double A*

      Congratulations! Here’s some things I figured out:

      Screen time is absolutely 100% okay around a newborn. You can and should watch what you want and don’t worry for one single second about “kids and screen time” when you have a baby that literally can’t see the TV because their vision isn’t developed enough. I recommend picking a couple of easy and comfortable shows you’ll plan to watch. I enjoyed Golden Girls with my second.

      Also I had inductions with both my kids (they were late) and I liked having it scheduled. So in case you’re worried about the induction, embrace not having to deal with the guessing game of if or when you’ll go into labor! Also they can take awhile so bring some entertainment to the hospital.

      Something I decided early on was that I was going to get my babies able to take a bottle ASAP and to have formula on hand. Knowing someone else can feed the baby is a huge, huge relief. I think it’s wonderful when a partner can have that feeding experience early. For feeding, whatever is easiest is best. I often found that be to breastfeeding but sometimes it was pumped milk and sometimes it was formula. Fed is best, and fed in the least stressful way possible is the very best.

      Don’t be afraid to sleep separately from your partner if that’s an option for you. There’s not reason for both of you to be exhausted and sleeping separately can be a way to make sure you’re able to trade off getting sleep.

    14. Arya Parya*

      We prepped a lot of meals and froze them ahead of time. They were a lifesaver some days. Also we would eat separately some days. So one would eat while the other had the baby.

      For me breastfeeding didn’t work. I did try, but there was never enough milk. So we switched to formula. And that was fine. She is a happy and healthy 5 year old now. Fed is best. So try breastfeeding and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, don’t sweat it.

    15. Advice from a Dad*

      1. Trust your instincts and don’t overthink. If you feel your baby needs more food / sleep / burping / cuddling / interaction, etc., then that’s what it needs. Don’t think “but the book says she should only eat X amount every X hours, or he should sleep this much”, etc. I suppose you can overindulge, but you won’t if you are paying attention. I am a proponent of usually letting the baby cry for a bit at naptime, but that doesn’t mean never ever pick her up.
      2. You are not a failure if despite your best efforts you are unable to nurse your baby. Some women can breastfeed easily with almost no effort, and some cannot. My wife was in the latter category. Unfortunately, there are what I call “Breastfeeding Nazis” who treat you like you are committing a horrible act of child abuse by feeding your baby formula. Ignore them. You know what is best for your child. If you decide to use formula, then do it, and don’t look back. (I have 3 adult daughters who managed not to become psychopaths despite being fed formula as infants.)
      3. If Dad is in the picture, hand him the baby and go do something else as often as possible. He will figure out what to do. It may not be exactly the way you would do it, but it will be fine. He is a parent, not a babysitter.
      I hope all goes well for you and wish you the best.

      1. kudu*

        I 100% agree with all the points. I wasn’t able to breastfeed, my (now adult) kid turned out fine. Also, really do hand the kid to dad (if he’s around), and go. Give both the baby and the dad the gift of learning how to be with each other.
        Also, your baby hasn’t read the book that says it should do X (mine slept about 1-2 hours less that the “minimum”. Now that she is an adult, it is entirely consistent with her personality to do and experience every last thing). It’s true about their personalities being baked in, but sometimes you don’t know what that means.

      2. Observer*

        If Dad is in the picture, hand him the baby and go do something else as often as possible. He will figure out what to do. It may not be exactly the way you would do it, but it will be fine. He is a parent, not a babysitter.

        Your entire comment is good, but this is GOLD.

        Men are not inherently incapable idiots when it comes to infants. And the whole “there are a lot of ways to be right and not a lot of ways to be really wrong” applies just as much to fathers as mothers. Sure, some things need consistency, so you have to get on the same page. But for the rest? Who cares?!?

        I’ve had and watched some memorable conversations around this. Like the mother who “couldn’t” leave the toddler with dad because he would put Toddler’s pajamas on “wrong”. “Wrong” being with the zipper in the back rather than the front. Or the person who yelled at her son for holding the baby “wrong”. Wrong being “not the way *I* (ie Grandma) would to it.” (and yes, baby was securely held and comfortable.)

        Please don’t fall into that trap. *Everyone* benefits.

        1. Clisby*

          It’s also possible dad knows more than you do about taking care of a baby. That wasn’t true with us – I’m the eldest of 6 and he’s the eldest of 7, so we both went into parenthood knowing a LOT about how to take care of babies. If he had married an only child, it’s entirely possible he’d know way more than she did about child care.

    16. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Two things:

      The baby will teach you how to be her parent. Give her what she needs. You cannot spoil a newborn baby. It is not possible. Go to her when she cries and cuddle her. Let her suckle when she wants to.

      Don’t lose completely track of your own needs in the process. You need to rest. You need sleep. Other people can also soothe the baby. And this will sound contradictory to my first point: crying never killed a baby. If you try to soothe her and it’s not working it’s OK to put her down somewhere safe and give yourself a few minutes to take a deep breath. This isn’t “cry it out” (which you may decide to do at some point – not judging!). It’s not about “training” her to soothe herself. It’s about interrupting the cycle of frustration and despair that can set in when a baby is on a serious crying jag.

      Love her. Love yourself. Trust yourself – she won’t break.