weekend open thread – January 13-14, 2024

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Dinner Party, by Brenda Janowitz. Taking place over the build-up to a Passover seder and its aftermath, a family’s matriarch is extremely excited about hosting the rich family of her daughter’s new boyfriend but things go differently than planned.

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

{ 1,218 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    A reminder that the weekend posts are for relatively light discussion and comments should ask questions and/or seek to discuss ideas. Recommendations or one to two updates on things you received advice about in the past are fine, but “here’s an update on my life” personal-blog-style posts are not. The full rules are here.

  2. New York State of Mind*


    My husband (54) and I (50) are going to New York for a week on 9th May (we live in the UK).

    I hope the wonderful commentators here will have suggestions for places to eat, things to do, things to avoid… neither of us have been before and it’s a bit overwhelming with the vast amount of information available online!

    We’re trying to do it in a bit of a budget conscious way – we think eating out will be significantly more expensive than we’re used to in the UK, so want to trim our costs elsewhere where we can, any money-saving tips welcomed!

    We’ve booked tickets to climb to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, and are looking at booking the Empire State Building and 9/11 memorial.

    1. We’ll each have a 15kg ish suitcase – is it easy enough to get to our hotel in Times Square West on the subway, rather than taking a cab? The cost difference is quite significant!

    2. It looks like we can book to go to the 86th and/or 102nd floor of the Empire State Building – is it worth going up the extra floors? I’m just not sure if the view would be *that* much better from higher up?

    3. I’m veggie with a nut allergy, my husband is a committed carnivore who loves rib eye steak – suggestions of good places to eat that aren’t mega expensive? We both eat any and all cuisines although I’m not a fan of fast food.

    In the same vein, breakfast recommendations in the area of Times Square West gratefully received!

    4. We know all the usual ‘must-do’ sights in New York – what ‘off the beaten track’ or under the radar things should we do?

    5. What’s the best app for finding our way around, and which subway routes/stops we need? We won’t have cellular reception, only WiFi in free WiFi spots, so can’t be an app that relies on a mobile connection.

    6. Any general tips and tricks gratefully received.

    Thanks in advance! I’ll be checking back in over the weekend if you need more info – I didn’t want to write a huge screed full of information you don’t need!

    1. Teapot Translator*

      For offline maps, I used Organic Maps on my latest trip (Portugal). It doesn’t help with public transportation, but helps when walking around.

    2. AcademiaNut*

      For 5) you can pre-download maps for the city with Google maps, and the GPS works without data plans. You won’t get directions, but you can see where you are on the map, and zoom in. If you don’t have roaming, it’s possible to buy a short term SIM card for the US (you can probably buy them at home, before going) that gives you data but not a phone number – this is what I always do when travelling. Smart phones have become so ubiquitous that not having a data connection can make things more difficult.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        I keep thinking about whether to buy an E-sim – they’re quite pricey for the US, and we’ve always got by with free wifi when we’ve visited places in Florida, but I do wonder if it might make navigating New York easier!

        Thanks for the Google maps tip too – I didn’t realise you could pre-download maps!

        1. Amey*

          Do you need an e-Sim? I’m in the UK but much of my family is in the US so I visit often. I always get a roaming add on specifically for the US just for my trip. I think it would be a lot harder without it these days. Have a wonderful trip!

          1. New York State of Mind*

            @Amey – I’d checked before and thought the Lebara roaming add-on was very expensive, but I’ve just re-checked and it’s not as much as I remembered, so I think that might be a good solution – thank you!

            1. Traveler*

              You should also checkout Airalo. I used it recently for week long trips to Netherlands and Peru and worked pretty well.

    3. Empire!*

      For #2, the 102 floor isn’t worth the extra $. The tour, museum type exhibits, viewing platform are all very cool. You can go at a slow-ish pace. Ignore the NewYorker employees who yell at you to move along. Get a cool postcard from the gift shop (as you’re exiting) for a low cost souvenir.

      1. Nyc*

        Agree on the Empire State Building — the 86th is where you can be outside whereas the higher level is behind glass. Kind of like being on the London Eye, ax actually!

        1. New York State of Mind*

          That was what we wondered – I think we’ll save a bit of money, and use it on something else! Thank you.

          1. Seeking Second Childhood*

            If you’re a movie buff do peek at pictures first of the 2 floors because IIRC the higher level is used in more movies. (eg Sleepless in Seattle)

      2. Nyc*

        If you go to the Met, make sure to go up to the rooftop — there’s a wine bar and a great view of Central Park. Highly recommend popping up to the Cloisters — it’s a bit of a trek but it’s a gorgeous building with medieval art set in beautiful Fort Tryon Park.

        The Morgan Library is very cool if you’re a book lover and has (at least I think it s I’ll does!) a free Friday evening, though of course it can be a bit crowded then. Visiting the main branch of the NY public library is free and fun — check out the kids room to see the original Winnie the Pooh and friends. If you’re movie buffs and willing to go to Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image is very cool, and if you can make it to the Queens Museum it has an amazing scale model of NYC. The museum of New York and the New York Historical Society can be cool — check to see what exhibits they have.

        If Shakespeare in the Park has started by the time you visit, I definitely recommend entering the lottery for that. If you like theater TodayTix and other theater apps can help you get discounted tickets for Broadway shows. Don’t forget to check out what’s off Broadway — the Public Theater and Roundabout Theater Company and Second Stage do great shows and aren’t too expensive.

        South Street Seaport has gotten to be nice with some cute shops (including a great bookstore, McNally Jackson, which has a couple locations) and places to eat.

        If you have the time to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge it’s worth doing, and there is a lovely park on the Brooklyn side right along the water. (Also one of my favorite pizza places, Ignazio’s— cash only — and an ice cream stand.)

        SoHo and the West Village are great for wandering and having the Omg I’m in NYC feeling (that is different from the Times Square NYC feeling :)). With the caveat that I haven’t been in several years since I no longer live in NYC, Il Corallo on Prince St had great Italian food for reasonable prices and was in a fun spot to walk. If you’re fans of When Harry Met Sally it’s an easy walk from there to Washington Square Park, where she drops him off at the beginning of the movie.

        Oh and if you can make it to Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum, Botanic Gardens are both very nice, Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetery are awesome to wander and you really won’t see many tourists, and there are tons of places to eat on 7th Ave and 5th Ave in Park Slope (and a million places in many neighborhoods in Brooklyn but that’s where I spent a lot of time). And there’s an awesome new bookstore for romance fans — The Ripped Bodice!

        Have a wonderful time!!

        1. Nyc*

          Oh and on tips — read (maybe take photos since you don’t plan to have data) the notices about subway closures in the subway stations. It’s very easy to get on a train that isn’t usually an express and find out it’s skipping the stop you want, or end up on a local, or hear “this is a Brooklyn bound A train running on the F line” and go, Oh crap. So, read the signs! Sometimes the changes are for a whole weekend, sometimes just at night, etc.

        2. New York State of Mind*

          Thank you so much for taking the time to write all this – so helpful! Washington Square Park wasn’t on my radar, and I’d love to see that. Thank you.

        3. Bibliovore*

          My favorite restaurant across the Brooklyn bridge is Noodle Pudding. Cash only. Go early no reservations .

    4. NYC*

      The high line is a lot of fun. It’s an elevated public park on the west side. Also the restaurant westville has multiple locations now and has delicious meat and veggie options.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Thanks NYC – the menu looks amazing so I think we’ll be paying westville a visit.

    5. Empire - part 2*

      Katz deli is a must eat pastrami sandwich. It’s pricy for a sandwich but will change your life. Blintz for you!

      See the wooden escalator for free at the main downtown Macy’s – floors 5-8.

      Grand Central Station is free.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Ah yes, I’ve heard of Katz deli! Definitely will plan to go and see the wooden escalator (and have a look around Macy’s!) and Grand Central Station – thank you.

    6. RagingADHD*

      If you’re staying in the Times Square West and just want a good inexpensive meal, I recommend the Westway Diner at 44th and 9th. They have a very hearty veggie club sandwich, as well as all the standards of classic NY diner fare. Not sure how much they cater to allergies or how sensitive you are, but you can ask.

    7. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Not a New York expert by far, but I’d recommend leaving some downtown to just wander in some neighbourhoods – it truly is a city where you’ll turn a corner and find something unexpected. We came across a street party where the people just invited us to share some food, a cafe with pictures of the owner and all sorts of celebrities, and musicians just jamming on the front steps. It sounds cliché even to me, but it really was like that!

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        ugh, ‘down time’s not downtown…and in this context it does actually matter!

      2. New York State of Mind*

        That’s a really good reminder – we’re trying to book as much as we can in advance but I do want to leave some downtime to just wander. So many amazing things to see and do!

      3. Ellis Bell*

        We wandered into the most amazing street fair, full of cool activities, where I bought my favorite summer hat for a couple of bucks. Its getting to the point where it needs replacing, but even fancy department store hats don’t compare. Everyone asks me where I got it.

      4. Sandals*

        Years ago, I lived in Mass. and would go to NYC once or twice a week, and had some wonderful sidewalk experiences in the Upper West Side, including quietly strolling past John Henson, Armand Asante, Katie Holmes, etc. I also saw Edward Hermann checking in to a boutique hotel as I walked past it.

        I love humble little experiences like that. Wishing you a wonderful time!

    8. Squirrelly*

      I’m guessing Times Square West is code for Hell’s Kitchen, which is a great food neighborhood, much of which is affordable. If you search on an website like Eater, you’ll find tons of Hell’s Kitchen recommendations. Off the top of my head: Amy’s Bread is lovely for a casual sandwich etc, as is Sullivan Street Bakery, Talad Wat is solid for Thai, Danji and Ippudo if you go north into the 50s. Westway Diner is also good and casual. I think there’s a Los Tacos Numero 1, which is excellent. I’m vegan and can eat at all of these places, but can’t speak to the meat side of things. You’re also relatively near Hudson Yards, which is not cheap, but the Jose Andres food hall is good if you like Spanish food.

      For taking the subway to the hotel, it really depends on whether you’re flying into LaGuardia or JFK. JFK is very easy—you take the AirTrain to the A train and then take the A train all the way up to 42nd. Laguardia requires taking a bus, which is more of a pain with luggage, but doable—you can take the free Q79 bus to the 7 train and take the 7 to either Times Square or Hudson Yards depending on where your hotel is. Google Maps works well with NYC transit directions.

      Things to do: The New York Tenement Museum is an excellent museum with walking tours of the Lower East Side that explore the history of the city. The Museum of the Moving Image in Long Island City is very fun, and you can get there easily from Times Square via the 7 line. If you like dim sum, take the 7 all the way to Flushing. But it would help to know what you and your husband like. Are you interested in art? Theater? History?

      May is often gorgeous in New York, so I’d also recommend taking advantage of our many parks, including but not limited to Central Park! There are often musicians etc in the park and it’s nice for a picnic.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Oh yes, it would be helpful if I’d named the airport! We’re flying into JFK. I’d read a travel blog that was saying ‘don’t ride the subway with your suitcase, take a cab’, but seeing it was about $100 for a cab I thought I’d see what the marvellous commentators on here thought.

        We’re more into history than art or theatre.

        Thanks for all your suggestions, I’m going to makes notes.

        1. Choggy*

          Just don’t stand close to the edge in the subway, hoping you are also coming in during the day? Just keep your eyes and ears open and try not to look too gobsmacked at any sights/sounds (like a tourist!) and you’ll be fine. Have a wonderful trip!

          1. New York State of Mind*

            Thanks Choggy!

            Yes, we’ve timed our flights so we’re arriving early afternoon and leaving late morning. Trying not to look too much like a tourist will be tricky, as I’m sure I’ll have goggling eyes and a look of wonder that I’m actually. in. New. York! Tee hee!

            1. Zzzzzz*

              BIGGEST THING to remember, especially while dragging luggage and your focus is in multiple directions (and I know bc I spent several months living in London): here, cars drive on the RIGHT side of the road so look to YOUR LEFT before stepping off a curb. Took me a long time to look right while living in your neck of the pond. Enjoy!

              1. Middle Aged Lady*

                Great advice! And when I visited the UK as an American, my eyes adjusted to looking the other way, but my EARS kept telling me I was in danger, ha ha. Think before you cross, every time.
                I don’t have any other advice except that the best things seem to happeb when just wandering around a normL space, not. ‘Touristy’ space. Also, American food portions are huge. Don’t hesitate to ask for a box and eat your leftovers for a snack later, if it’s convenient. A lot of hotels here have mini-fridges and microwaves.

        2. Nitpicker*

          If you’re into history you might check into New York Historical Society (west side near Museum of Natural History) and/or Museum of the City of New York (north end of Museum Mile – upper Fifth Avenue).

        3. Seeking Second Childhood*

          The subway goes to JFK—and despite the name that section is elevated so you get a good look around. I loved it. Unless you’re getting in crazy late at night I’d say take it.

          I’m going to add my other ideas here so as I don’t forget. TimeOut dot com is a good place to look for ideas.

          McSorley’s Alehouse is the oldest operating tavern in NYC— I can’t remember if they have peanuts, if that’s part of your allergy call and ask. But they do still have sawdust on the floor even if now, it’s a decor choice instead of a way to control spills with a rough crowd.

          If you’re a seafood-eating vegetarian, indulge your steak loving husband with Keen’s Steakhouse on St, just northeast of Macy’s Herald Square. Do check the menu though if you are 100% plant based. They go back to the late eighteen hundreds and they still have the clay pipes that patrons used to buy & keep there for personal use. Lots of theater nostalgia.

          Look up the flower district for Korean restaurants. This is also within walking distance of the empire state building and Macy’s Herald Square.

          Grand Central Station is worth a visit even if you’re not traveling out of it. It’s a beautiful building, lovingly restored. Its Oyster Bar is a long-standing tradition.

          If you have time to go up into the outer boroughs, consider the New York Botanical Gardens.

        4. E*

          Subway is totally fine! It’s just a bit long since from jfk you have to take air train and then subway . But a cab is also long with the traffic. Another option is to take the airtrain to the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station. more $ than subway but less time and still less than a cab.

          NYers with suitcases do it all the time so it won’t in and of itself make you look like a tourist.

          If you’re near Union Square or Greenwich village , a good cheap fast but not fast food place that’s veg friendly is Taboonette

          Brooklyn bridge park is also lovely- you can take a ferry from a few points in Manhattan for the cost of a subway ride (but separate payment system). There is a pizza place in the park that’s good, or bring picnic food.

          Governors island is also really nice for a stroll or bike ride

          Normally I recommend taking the free ferry to staten island to pass by the Statue of Liberty and het a nice view of lower manhattan, but since you’re already going to Statue of Liberty it’s kind of redundant.

          It’s far from where you’re staying but a cool experience to take the subway all the way to Brighton beach, get Russian or Georgian food, and walk along the boardwalk to Coney Island.

          Have fun! We just moved away from nyc and I miss it so.

          1. New York State of Mind*

            Thanks E, some fab ideas here, and I enjoy looking up the restaurant recommendations!

        5. Lady Knittington*

          Seconded on the Tenemant Museum, but you have to book. (This caught us out when we went there)

    9. Trawna*

      1. Assuming you flying into JFK, take the Air Train to Jamaica Center, then the E train to 42nd/Port Authority. That should get you to within a five-ten minute walk of your hotel.

      2. A twist on visiting the Empire State Building is to self-tour the amazing ground floor (especially the ceilings) which were restored a few years ago, then go to lunch at Gaonnuri, for wonderful Korean food and a view of the Empire State Building.

      3. I love real diners. Food – warning – even decent US food is shocking to the UK/European system. Eat well and take some sort of digestive/travel aid/probiotic.

      4. Tip: pray for a rainy day and go walk the High Line. It is wonderful without the traffic jam.

      I love doing a Fifth Avenue Walk – 110th Central Park Conservancy Garden, over to the Museum of the City of New York, then all along Fifth beside the Park under the trees to the Met (good restaurants – spring for the fifth (?) floor nice one – you’ll need the rest and fill up), then keep going on Fifth down to 53rd E train and hotel for a nap!

      If you don’t want to line up and/or pay to go to MOMA, just take a stroll through the wonderful garden. Say Hi to the goat for me.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        All great suggestions, thank you so much – and I’ll say hi to the goat if I see it!

    10. CaseyJd*

      Hells Kitchen is a neighborhood just to the west of where you are staying – has lots of good Thai restaurants that are affordable. New York has added a lot more walkways/parks next to the waterfront on the west side. Can be a good walk on a pleasant day. The Staten Island ferry is free to ride and offers spectacular views.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        We love Thai restaurants, thank you.

        I hadn’t spotted that the Staten Island ferry is free, thank you, we’ll definitely do that.

        1. AllInOnePlace*

          The Statue of Liberty boat will leave from almost the same spot as the Staten Island Ferry (which I definitely recommend). The boat ride will stop at both Ellis island and the Statue of Liberty; I recommend visiting both especially as you said you were interested in history. The Jewish history museum is right there too (I’m spacing out on its actual name – sorry)

            1. Squirrelly*

              If you’re able, I highly recommend booking a “hard hat” tour of Ellis Island’s old hospital complex. Really really fascinating!

    11. Lore*

      Early May is a really good time for weather usually, which means the parks are all going to be delightful—Central Park is easy but Prospect Park, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Astoria Park, Fort Tryon are all good. Governors Island is a fun day, and outside of the ferry, it’s mostly free other than food. The Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island is less well known and the tram is fun. (RI is weird and very unlike the rest of NY but still enjoyable.) It’s a little early for the free concerts and shows in the parks, but there are so many lotteries and small theaters. The museums are shockingly expensive if you’re used to London but most of them have a free or pay what you wish day a couple of times a month. For food, going to Ninth or Tenth Avenue will present options from many cuisines; some of the tiny take out places will be your best options on price.

      1. Squidhead*

        I was going to say if you can find a reason to take one of the East River ferries it’s a fun way to see the buildings lined up on the east side of Manhattan like the UN and parts of the financial district. It’s not a tour boat, just a fun way to travel. Governor’s Island and Roosevelt Island are both served by the ferries. (There’s also the gondola to Rosevelt Island but I’ve never done it.) The east river ferries are part of the metro system but you have to buy a separate ticket, but the ticket is one regular metro fare.

        1. Nyc*

          Love the (free) Staten Island ferry as a way to get out on the water — you have to get off when it arrives but if you hustle you can get back on the same one. :)

            1. WestsideStory*

              If you take a ride on the ferry you will get GREAT photo views of the Statue of Liberty – no need to take an expensive boat tour there.

              1. Ron McDon*

                We had looked at booking a boat tour but I wondered if we could get good photos from the Staten Island ferry – thanks for that!

      2. New York State of Mind*

        Thanks @Lore and @Squidhead – we chose to go in May because we thought it would be good, weather wise.

        Thanks for all those ideas and tips!

    12. Old and Don’t Care*

      The New York Times restaurant critic (Pete Wells) often reviews moderately priced restaurants of varying ethnic styles. You could probably get an intro subscription for a few bucks a month.

      Chelsea Market is a cool food hall. Smorgasburg is a “weekly open air food market” that has several locations. Not sure when it opens for the season. Grand Central Station is definitely worth seeing. The Oyster Bar there doesn’t exactly sound up your alley but you could could check out the menu to see.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Thank you – can’t believe we hadn’t thought of Grand Central Station, but it’s on the list now!

        1. Like I Said*

          Look up the Hungry City collection of restaurant reviews in the New York Times. You’ll find great, low priced restaurants all over the city. It’s unfortunately not an active column anymore so doublecheck that the restaurant you want is still open, but I live in NYC and I’ve found a lot of great, cheap food this way.

        2. WestsideStory*

          The Oyster Bar for lunch…eat at the counter instead of getting a table; NE clam chowder and a white wine used to be my lunch when I worked near there.

    13. Me*

      Which airport are you flying into? If you’re coming from the UK, I assume it’s either JFK or Newark — and both are accessible via public transportation.

      For JFK, take the airtrain from your terminal either to:
      1) Howard Beach, then get on the A train toward Brooklyn/Manhattan/Bronx and take it to 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.
      2) Jamaica, where you have two options:
      a) Take the E train toward Manhattan and take it to 42nd Street and 8th Avenue.
      b) Take the Long Island Railroad to Penn Station, which gets you to 34th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues. This option is slightly more expensive than the subway lines, but also faster.

      For Newark, take the airtrain from your terminal to the airport rail link station, then take NJ Transit to Penn Station, which again gets you to 34th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

      One thing I always always always recommend is go to a local bagel shop and get a bagel! NYC is the number one place in the world to get bagels, and bagels are a (relatively) cheap and filling breakfast. They also are vegetarian-friendly. My personal favorite bagel place is “Best Bagel” which is on the north side of 35th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

      For a fun and cheap snack, get a hot pretzel from a street cart! They’re best with mustard imo.

      For finding your way around, download the Mymta app — it’s the official NYC transit app, and it’s free. It can tell you how subways, buses, and trains are running. It also has maps. There’s actually free WiFi in/around most of the subways now (transit wireless wifi) so you can use that. I also recommend downloading Google Maps for offline use before you travel or from your hotel — you can choose an area and download a map, and it will work like normal even when you’re not on wifi!

      FYI, New Yorkers are usually pretty friendly and willing to answer questions, so feel free to ask! Though be aware that we’re often in a hurry, so people going fast isn’t rudeness — it’s being polite to the person behind you who’s also trying to check out/go somewhere/etc. You don’t need smalltalk — just say hello and please and thank you, and jump right into your request.

      On that note, if you’re walking slowly on the sidewalk, move to the side! People will move fast to get past you.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Flying in to JFK, it would have been helpful if I’d included that!

        We’d seen the directions from the airport to the hotel, but I’d read a travel blogger that said ‘don’t try and go on the subway with your suitcase, take a cab instead’ so I wasn’t sure if the subway would be manageable with a case? Although I guess the thousands of people landing in JFK everyday don’t all take cabs!

        I love bagels, that’s a great breakfast idea, so thanks for the recommendation, and for all your other tips.

        We will definitely be walking slowly and looking up at the buildings, so a good reminder to get out of everyone’s way on the sidewalk!

        Thanks again.

        1. Me*

          I figured it was probably JFK! Newark is possible, but Laguardia is pretty much only domestic (I think they have one international flight to Toronto and that’s it).

          So the subway is manageable with a case IF you’re not dragging around a crazy big suitcase. If you have one of the small roller bags on wheels — like the type you can take as a carryon — it’s absolutely manageable. The one thing to be aware of is that not all stations have elevators (and even the ones that do don’t always have working elevators) so you will have to carry your bag up and down stairs sometimes. So if you’re not physically capable of that, it becomes harder, and a cab becomes more worthwhile.

          But there are some in-between options — the route I described with the LIRR has elevators at every stop, so you can do that and then take a much cheaper cab if you can’t walk the ten blocks or so in Manhattan. There’s also van companies that you can schedule that will pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel. Unfortunately, those tend to be more expensive than the airtrain/train combo and they’re also slower, though they are at least cheaper than cabs.

          Also, looking at the map (available on MyMTA), all of the subway stops I named are also listed as wheelchair-accessible, which means there are elevators, though I can’t promise they’ll be working.

          Basically, it depends how much you’re willing to drag around a suitcase versus how much money you want to spend.

        2. Once a NYer*

          I just visited NYC with my spouse and two little kids (4 and 1) and we took the subway from JFK, with suitcases and a stroller, no problem! You swipe your credit card (more about that below) to pay at one of the accessible doors or entrances, it opens, you enter with your suitcase, and then go down the elevator to the platform to the A train. Get out at 42nd street, find the elevators up to the street, and you’re good.
          (Not all subway stations have elevators but they definitely do at the airport stops and 42nd street.)
          Another tip – you can use your credit card to swipe for all the subway and bus fares. Once you hit $34 of payments (12 rides?) it turns into a 7-day unlimited. You have to use the same card each time for it to recognize the chip.
          Hope you have a great trip!

      2. Sandals*

        Seconding what you note about New Yorkers! In a hurry but not rude at all, and very willing to share info. (as they continue walking, lol).

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          We also talk in lines (queues) — we have so many of them why miss a perfectly fine social occasion!?

          (I grew up near new york city and worked there for several years.)

    14. Arya Parya*

      I bought a New York CityPass. This saved me some money for sightseeing and museums. It was pretty flexible at the time. It would get you into a number of things, but you get to choose the things.

      Also TKTS for discounted theatre tickets. They have a location in Brooklyn that isn’t as busy as the one on Times Square.

      Also you might want to check out the website of Nomadic Matt. Just Google Nomadic Matt. He has a great up to date page on New York, with all kinds of money saving advice.

      1. Arya Parya*

        Correction on TKTS: they used to have a location in Brooklyn. Not anymore. There is one at Lincoln Center now.

        1. New York State of Mind*

          We looked at the NY city pass, think that might be a good option for us.

          I’ll Google Nomadic Matt, thank you!

      2. Old and Don’t Care*

        One of the best things about a CityPass is that it frees you of guilt if you go in someplace and don’t like it; just leave! Without worrying that you just spent $20 to walk in and walk right back out.

    15. Wormentude*

      I went to NYC on a budget with my sister about 10 years ago.

      Second the advice about air train. We had no issue with suitcases.

      We were advised to get a drink in times Square our first morning. Then we were approached by sellers of tickets for all the different hop on/hop off tour buses. We were able to play them off against each other to get a substantial reduction on a multi-day pass and did a lot of our travel that way so we saw a lot as we went from place to place.

      We went to the box office at Radio City Music Hall one day and got tickets for their Spring Spectacular. The plot was cheesy but ther dancing was fantastic, if that’s your sort of thing. We also had really good falafel from a street food cart opposite.

      And also the high line was lovely, even though it was busy. A real oasis. Central Park is good for exploring, loads to see.

      We are bug musical theatre fans, so our big “splurge” (other than tickets to a show which were a Christmas present) was a meal at Ellen’s Stardust Diner.

      Above all, take really comfortable shoes. I have never walked so far before or since, even in London!

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Oh the tour bus haggle is a really good idea! I wasn’t sure what the traffic would be like – on tv shows it always looks like loads of traffic jams in New York, so we were assuming the subway would be the most efficient way to get around, but it would be nice to be out in the open air on a bus for some of the time.

        Definitely going to take multiple pairs of comfy shoes!

        Thanks for the tips.

        1. WestsideStory*

          I don’t think you can haggle anymore…it’s become a cutthroat business and most don’t even have a live tour guide any more, just recordings. If your going to pay for a bus tour, there are specialty charters (like a movie and Tv location tour) and The Ride, both looking into.

          1. WestsideStory*

            I remembered the name…On Location Tours. We did the TV/Movie tour recently and it was very well run.

    16. Lady Knittington*

      Fellow UK-er here:
      Staten Island Ferry is free and gives a view of NYC from the water

      Tickets to the Statue of Liberty should also give you access to Ellis Island which is fascinating. For both that and the 9/11 museum I ran out of time.

      Beware of ice cream vans without prices on. I bought one just outside Bryant Park and was stung for $10

      There is a website which does free walks, either led by a guide or self guided via a podcast (the idea is that you pay the guide what it’s worth, so technically not free). Grand Central Station is the one we did

      Drunken Shakespeare was great fun; cheaper than Broadway but did get quite sweary.

      Radio City Music Hall was another thing we did. Did feel slightly like we were being processed through a processing line, but the inside is beautiful and there’s so much history

      It may be too late, but have you investigated trying to get tickets to see a TV show?

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Thanks Lady Knittington, that’s really helpful – and a good tip about not buying from food sellers who don’t display prices!

        We hadn’t thought about Radio City Music Hall or going to a tv show taping – both good ideas, thank you.

        I’m realising we could struggle to do everything we’d like in a week…

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          My friend you could spend a week in the Metropolitan Museum of Art alone.

          Take the advice I was given when I had one day at the Louvre — Either see just the highlights, or pick one part and dive deep.

    17. Hola Playa*

      One other thing to note – tipping 15%-20% of the total bill for a sit down meal is the norm.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Thank you – we visit the US most years so are used to tipping 20% plus, but we know others who have visited the US and been surprised at the amount of tip that’s customary!

    18. Enjoyed my NY trip!*

      I recommend Ellis Island. I enjoyed it more than the Statue of Liberty. Also, Chinatown and Little Italy are right next to each other. Dinner in Chinatown, dessert in Little Italy.

    19. Occasional tourist*

      I am a fan of the cheap by-the-slice pizza restaurants for lunch. Not the best pizza in NY, but better than most pizza in other parts of the US! Used to be $1/slice but it’s higher now.
      Food trucks are not always cheap, but at least you save on tipping. Grab a falafel tray from The Halal Guys and your husband can get chicken or gyro. I get their food on every trip. Messy but delicious.

    20. I just really can’t think of a name*

      My family and I (we live in NYC) strongly prefer the view from Top of the Rock vs. Empire State Building (one of the main reasons being that you can’t see the ESB when you’re in it). My son also loves the World Trade Center view (and elevator ride – it’s cool).

      Don’t hesitate to ask for directions on the subway – New Yorkers are very friendly. But jump right into your question – don’t start with “excuse me,” because that’s how every scammer starts, so you’ll be ignored.

      If you search the asknyc Reddit, there are lots of itineraries with meal suggestions, budget tips, and helpful comments.

      Enjoy your visit!

      1. New York State of Mind*

        We were debating Top of the Rock vs ESB – might end up doing both.

        I hadn’t thought of Reddit but that’s a great idea, thank you.

        1. SarahKay*

          Also a UK person, and I loved Top of the Rock. It was ten-ish years ago that I was there, but the roof is huge and at least then was far less busy than ESB; lots of space to take photos and walk round.
          At the ESB it was just one long queue including basically a queue to get to the edge and look out. I’m glad I’ve done it once, but if I went back to NY I wouldn’t bother with ESB again, but would probably happily redo Top of the Rock.

    21. Bluebell*

      So many great suggestions here- Cloisters, Tenement Museum, Ellis Island, Grand Central Station, the High Line and East River Ferry. A few other ideas- Big Apple Greeters is part of the worldwide organization where volunteers give tours of their city. My husband and I did Paris greeters last year and the tour was spectacular. When you request on their website, you can specify what your interests are.
      Way up in Washington Heights the Jumel Mansion is a historic colonial house, and the view from there is also impressive.
      Libraries are always a good spot for Wi-Fi and bathrooms, and the main library at 42nd St. is particularly impressive, plus Bryant park right outside is a lovely spot to hang out.
      For food, spicy moon is a fantastic vegan option, with three locations. I love Chama mama, which is Georgian, but they do use a lot of walnuts, so I’m not sure about the nut free options.
      If you get tickets to a tv show, the NBC ones have a comfy lounge, and you don’t have to wait outside. Still, it does take up a sizable chunk of your day- my husband and I went to go watch Seth Meyers, and our first waiting in line was at 1:45, and we left the studio around 5:15. It was fun, but if I was visiting New York for a limited time, I would be more inclined to get discount tickets to an interesting show.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Oooh I’ve not heard of Big Apple Greeters, that sounds really good.

        I think we might go to Washington Heights, and the Jumel Mansion sounds v interesting.

        We’re staying near Bryant Park so had flagged that as a lovely looking spot to visit, thank you also for the food recommendations, I’ll check those out!

    22. mreasy*

      Hello! Over two decades living in NYC here. Do not take the subway from the airport. It is certainly possible, and I have done it a lot in my life, but the waiting, the transfer, and the overall hassle and time you will spend is not worth the money you’ll save. I recommend checking out Eater for all your restaurant recommendations! And make a dinner reservation just to be safe, when you can.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Thanks for your comment – that’s where I’m flip flopping if I’m honest, if it’s just going to be easier to get a cab, then we don’t have to use our brains after a long day of travelling! Hmmm, think we need to mull this over a bit more – good job we’ve got a few months :)

        Thanks for the Eater recommendation, and we’ll definitely make reservations when we can, thank you.

      1. Lore*

        If you have ApplePay or a credit card that you can tap, you don’t need a 7-day metro card. MTA has finally set up a cap system for Omni where your card only gets charged up to the price of the 7-day. Also, I heartily disagree with the poster above who said not to take the subway. AirTrain to E train is often faster than a cab. However, be aware that the AirTrain doesn’t use the tap and pay system.

        1. New York State of Mind*

          Hi Lore, I’ve seen about metro cards and OMNY but wasn’t sure what the difference was – is it that the metro cards you buy a card and load it with money to use, whereas the OMNY is contactless using a card/device? That’s good that it’s capped at the price of a 7 day too.

          Still mulling over the subway vs cab dilemma…

          1. Lore*

            Basically, you’ve got it right (though a small number of stations now sell refillable Omny cards, as the Metrocards are getting phased out over the next year or so). You also have to manually swipe the Metrocard through the reader on the turnstile rather than tapping, and the readers are notoriously fussy. One other thing that may feature into your decision—the taxi pickup in some of the JFK terminals is basically at the AirTrain stop. I came in late from a flight last year intending to take a cab but once I’d had to trek all the way across the terminal and go past the entrance to the train platform I figured I might as well just get on it. (I live close to the Long Island RR station in Brooklyn so it’s very convenient for me; I only take a cab when it’s before 6 am or after 11 pm.)

            1. New York State of Mind*

              Good to know, thank you Lore – do you know if more than one person can use one Omny account? Hubby doesn’t have a very modern phone, and therefore we usually use the Chase bank account in my name when travelling for all our spending, as it has the best conversion rate and no charges.

              So I’d be fine tapping my phone/watch/card on the subway readers, but don’t know what hubby could use – his bank cards have high charges for use abroad. ideally we could both use my Chase card/account but not sure if that’s possible?

              1. Lore*

                You can definitely tap the same card for two people (I think up to four) on the same trip but I’m not sure how that affects the weekly cap. You can also purchase and reload Omny-only cards at CVS and Walgreens drugstore and I think at 7-11. There’s a guide to retail locations here :

          2. Falling Diphthong*

            When I was in NYC just after Thanksgiving, the subway was accessed by tapping my credit card on a reader at the stile each ride. (Which I figured out when the bridesmaid posse of resident New Yorkers sailed through, and I realized if they hadn’t waited for me it was because it was supposed to be easy and straightforward and not involve standing in line at various machines, which is what I had expected.)

            Can’t speak to the train from JFK, though.

        1. New York State of Mind*

          I think I might be able to get roaming for a fortnight for under £20 so I’ll probably do that (we’re off to Miami for a week after NY for a bit of relaxation and beach!). Think the MTA app is a good shout, thank you.

    23. osmoglossom*

      don’t know if it’s already been mentioned, but the National Museum of the American Indian is a must visit, located downtown at One Bowling Green.

      1. Katefish*

        This museum is close to all the Statue of Liberty ferries in lower Manhattan, FYI. There’s also a lovely park next door.

    24. MaryB*

      Re: cab vs. subway from JFK: one suitcase each should be fine to take the subway. It’s definitely more of a pain, but I find that taxis from the airport are almost always too expensive to justify. On the other hand, depending on when you leave, it may be worth it to get a cab/Uber back to the airport. Early mornings and weekends often have reduced/rerouted subway service… I always seem to run into subway problems at 4am when I’m running late for the airport.

      Re: apps to get around: There’s one I have called NYC Maps that’s accessible without service. It’s basically a photo version of the maps that are posted in the stations. It includes an evening version, which can be helpful since there are some changes after the busiest hours. There are also zoomed in versions of each borough that can help figure out the best station to go to, especially downtown where the streets aren’t numbered.

      I HIGHLY recommend downloading one called CityMapper. I find that Google Maps is decent about subway service changes, but about 20% of the time, it has no idea there’s something going on. CityMapper will basically always have up to date information (only had an issue once!) and is especially helpful when trains are running on different tracks. The app does require an internet connection, but it would be worth it to check while you’re at your hotel before leaving for the day or if you’re in a coffee shop or somewhere with free wifi just to make sure you know of any current changes to your planned route.

      The transit workers will also be able to point you in the right direction. Most of the time they’re even fairly nice about it :)

      I think it’s well worth it to make a trip over to Brooklyn or Queens to see the Manhattan skyline, especially after dark. You can’t really see it while you’re in it. Personally, I think Domino Park is very cute and has nice views. You can take the JMZ over the water and see it from the subway as well.

      My last thought since you’re staying by Times Square: it’s an awesome place to stay since you’re right in the middle of everything and can get pretty much anywhere fairly easily. But if you get there and immediately think that you hate New York, just know that every neighborhood feels different and that one in particular is not everyone’s vibe. It sounds like you’ve got a variety of things planned that will take you all over and you’ve gotten some good suggestions here too. I just hate that some people only experience Times Square and then think the whole city is terrible.

      I hope you have a great visit!

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Mary B, thank you for taking the time to post all this information.

        Our flight out from JFK is on a Thursday at around 11am so we’ve got a bit of time to get there in the morning, thank goodness!

        The apps you’ve suggested sound like they’d be useful downloads, thank you (and for explaining why CityMapper might be better than Google maps!).

        Going to Brooklyn or Queens to see the Manhattan Skyline (hey, the name of one of my favourite songs!) is a really good suggestion, thank you – hadn’t thought of that.

        Times Square does seem to be really well-situated for getting around, but thanks for warning us we might not like the area – it does look rather busy and full-on, not our usual sort of place! We’re definitely looking forward to exploring some other areas of the city.

    25. UseTheBus*

      as a tourist consider taking the bus instead of the subway when you’re not in a rush – you can see a lot if the city that way (in general I try to do this when traveling). In addition to just getting a better feel for the city that way, you might notice restaurants or other places you want to visit later in your trip (or get off and fo it if timing permits).

      1. New York State of Mind*

        Someone above mentioned the ‘hop on, hop off’ tourist bus which we will probably look into – I like the idea of spotting a neighbourhood, restaurant etc we’d like to visit and hopping off the bus and exploring!

    26. SG*

      Another vote for the Tenement Museum — you might have to book an appt in advance. Also another vote for the High Line.

    27. WestsideStory*

      Ahem. I’ve made a few suggestions above but wanted to address your restaurant issue. I live in Midtown West which is basically the Theatre District and the more westward, Hells Kitchen.
      You’ll get the best value for dinners with the pr-fixe, pre-theatre menus. We take all our visitors to West Bank Cafe, in 42nd street, excellent service and always a good value for food ( drinks pricey). There is a vast array of pre-fixe on Restaurant Row (west 46th street) and if there’s a line at Westway for breakfast, trot up a few blocks to the Galaxy Diner – they do have breakfast specials before 11 am and the food always very good. It’s our go-to brunch spot.
      Westville is great food but all the locations are really Loud inside, we only go there when it’s warm enough to eat at the outdoor tables.
      For a special meal you can’t beat Chez Josephine – over the top ambiance but lovely French food and usually a pre-fixe.

      Finally, if you want a good pub, go to Hurley’s on West 48th Street. You will get a proper Guinness, well-made cocktails and excellent beef. This is our local – mine and Mr Westside’s. We would come to join you for a pint ourselves – except we will be in London that same week, having got tickets to the Mets/Phillies baseball game at the Westham soccer park.
      Have a great time!

      1. WestsideStory*

        Two corrections – actually it’s Los Angeles in May, London on June, but Hurley’s is still a go-to for a midtown pub
        Also you mentioned you’ll be staying near Bryant Park, so I would recommend Stitch for dining. Reasonable Cajun food and live music most nights. On West 37th.

        1. New York State of Mind*

          Thank you so much WestsideStory, for all your contributions – really helpful! I always think it’s best to ask locals where they like to eat, as they’re more reliable than tourist reviews … we’ll definitely check out the places you’ve suggested, and will raise a glass to you and Mr Westside!

          Thanks again :)

    28. Orange banana*

      Similar to many big cities, it’s fine to ask directions or questions if you are the one who initiated the contact. Nothing good comes from somebody who comes up to you: trying to put a bracelet on you, wanting a selfie with you while they pose in their costume, trying to sell you anything.

      1. New York State of Mind*

        I suppose in somewhere like NYC, that’s filled with tourists, it’s hard to know who’s a tourist just as clueless as oneself, and who’s a New Yorker! Although I guess the backpacks, slow pace whilst goggling at everything around you, and peering at maps is a giveaway!!! :D

      2. Fierce Jindo*

        This is totally right. And New Yorkers LOVE giving directions (we’re proud to know the answer to this maze of a city).

    29. Fierce Jindo*

      Staten Island Ferry is free and gives you a great view.

      As a New Yorker, I’ve never been to the 9/11 museum and am deeply skeptical that it’s any good :)

      1. WestsideStory*

        I’ve been. Resisted it a long while. It does a good job of describing what we went through that day, with a lot of the pain sanitized out of the neatly organized exhibits.
        For a visitor interested in history, I don’t think it would be my first choice, but if someone had an interest there is a lot of info there.
        The Tenement Museum, Fraunces Tavern, Old Trinity Church and the NY Historical Society are all little gems.

    30. Beware of pedicabs*

      This is an anti-recommendation, ie, a warning. I just now read about this in the New Yorker: beware of unlicensed pedicabs in the Times Square and Broadway theater district. Apparently the huge majority are unlicensed — I gathered that the licensed ones wear their licenses around their necks to make it obvious — and they are very pushy and very loud, blaring music very obnoxiously right outside theaters (to the point that audiences and performers can hear them from inside) and preying on tourists coming out of the theater. Their pricing is also predatory. I would just avoid them altogether, but I certainly wouldn’t reward anyone playing superloud music outside theaters by getting into their pedicab.

    31. Phryne*

      There are by now way too many comments to check if this has already been said, so better twice than not at all I guess. I’v only been to NY once and it was some time ago, but the things that stuck with me:
      Instead of the Empire State , you can also go to the Top of the Rock on the Rockefeller center. Not quite as high as, but as I recall it was cheaper and the bonus is, from the TotR you can make beautiful pics of the Empire state building, whereas, if you are on it, you can’t see it… :)
      Also the Tenement Museum, a museum in a classic NY tenement. The building was closed up for decades and only the basement used as a shop so it is a bit of a time capsule.
      And like others I also recommend the High Line, very nice.
      Do you know ‘Time to Momo’? They make city guides but instead of just listing stuff, they have a number of city walks that take you past various spots in a neighbourhood. I can recommend the NY one, we saw some interesting stuff that way.

  3. Chauncy Gardener*

    I was wondering if the great folks here could give me some ideas please.
    I’d like to be more sustainable in my life and I’d love to know what changes y’all have made that you been able to stick with? I’m doing things like buying locally produced everything as much as I can, having a big vegetable garden, recycling, composting, etc.
    I don’t want this to turn into actually DEFINING what is sustainable, just what are you doing that means that to you?
    Thank you!

    1. Dr. Doll*

      I have made it my own private little hill to die on that I don’t take water bottles and I don’t use plastic utensils. I bring my bottle and I have one of those little bamboo utensil sets.

      I mean, it’s not much but I can stick.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        Good job! Unfortunately, this is one reason I avoid some takeouts. You get all of this extra plastic stuff and condiments you didn’t want in those foil/thick plastic wrappers and it’s so much junk and then turns into a thing to dispose of it!

        This is a hill I die on too. Near work there is one place that used thin wax paper for wrappings and doesn’t automatically give you a bag. I go there instead of the salad places with these big bulky plastic containers. TBH I can’t believe those are still the standard in 2024. They are technically recyclable but people don’t wash them out, and I’ve seen the office buildings put them all in the trash anyways..

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          We get too much takeout, but the majority of my drawer of food storage containers is plastic takeout containers that we reuse until we can’t anymore, and I use dishwasher safe silicone bags instead of single-use plastic ziplocks. I do also try not to use plastic utensils – I always have my own utensils, either a bamboo set or just a spork, in my purse, so as long as I haven’t gone purse-less I’m good. I also don’t buy napkins, I just take the 40 they put in my takeout bag and put them in my napkin holder for the next time someone needs one.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I buy frozen fruit at Aldi that is packed in a re-usable plastic zip bag (inside a box). The bags are really tough, so I use them as freezer bags. They are easy to store and I haven’t worn one out yet. Washing them by hand is a bit of a chore.

        2. Squidhead*

          The recycling authority in my area can’t take the “clamshell” plastic containers, and putting them in anyway just contaminates the whole load. They call it “wishcycling.” We do try to follow their rules but they change frequently according to what market they have for the materials so I’m sure we’ve wish-cycled ourselves unintentionally.

          We don’t tend to buy much of that type of pre-prepared food but we do make other choices based on packaging…specifically I won’t buy eggs at our normal store because they only come in Styrofoam or clamshell. Trader Joe’s has eggs in paperboard so we buy them there instead (even though our recycling authority can’t take that kind of pulpy paperboard, I figure it won’t stick around as long as plastic.)

        3. Decidedly Me*

          A lot of the delivery services default to no utensils included and you can select if you want them – it’s been nice to see. I bought a camping utensil set to bring when I’m in a hotel and may have take out (not room service).

          I’ve been using all my accumulated soy sauce packets to refill the bottle in my fridge though!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I bought a set at Burlington after Christmas that I keep in my work bag. I have silicone and metal straws in there too, in a holder I made out of an old men’s tie. We have dishes, cutlery, and dishwashers at my office so I generally just use those but the other stuff is handy. The one thing I will grab when I get food is paper napkins.

            And there’s a gluten-free, dairy-free place near my office where you can buy a glass container — you take it back when you go in again and they’ll swap it out for a fresh clean one. You get a discount when you use it, too.

      2. Pennyworth*

        Finding what you can stick to is important. I don’t buy coffee in disposable cups, and haven’t used a single-use plastic water bottle for decades for waste reasons. Now they tell us those plastic bottles are full of plastic nano particles.

      3. WoodswomanWrites*

        Same here. I avoid single use plastics with my reusable water bottle and utensils. I have reusable cloth bags for groceries.

    2. iNot*

      i’m reading this book called the 12 week year to help with that very issue. it’s fairly quick and seems simple enough.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Mending clothes!

      In 2020ish I learned how to darn socks but eventually concluded it’s not worth the effort for the quality of socks I own… I would still do it for a favorite pair of wool socks but not every time.

      My pants tend to wear out between my thighs first so I try to reinforce them when they’re getting close to a hole – workout leggings can be done pretty sloppily and multiple times before I give up on them, and jeans get one round of more careful mending so it’s not noticeable.

      All my kids’ leggings end up with patches on both knees (and then become material for future patches) and I always at least try to fix damage on my own clothes.

      1. Lily*

        Ooh, I came to the same conclusion about socks, but can you tell some more about how you mend jeans? Mine wear out in exactly the same way.
        In fact, one of my resolutions this year was to take better care of the clothes that I own and buy more carefully, so that I don’t have to throw things out often.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          I just put a patch on the inside and stitch both around and across it, kind of like quilting without a batting layer in between.

    4. Pennyworth*

      I like to buy second-hand as much as possible. It saves money, makes a tiny contribution to reducing stuff in the world by not buying new, and sometimes I find a treasure. All these make me feel good. I feed my dog all dog-safe food scraps. I try to drive my car as little as possible by doing as many things as I can in a single trip. Recent winters I have worn lots of layers and rarely turned the heating on. I sometimes use home made evaporative cooling to cool a room by hanging wet towels on the outside of the windows on a hot day. Making a pane of glass cold to touch using the heat of sun is sort of magic.

      1. Mrs. Weaver*

        I’m definitely going to try the wet towel trick next summer! I have a few south-facing windows, and an older, poorly-insulated house.

    5. Double A*

      I was vegetarian for over a decade. I can’t feed my family vegetarian (not sustainable for my energy to figure out what they will eat) but I try to eat vegetarian when I am just cooking or ordering for myself. We eat very little beef or fish. We eat turkey when the meat doesn’t really matter because you have to kills fewer turkeys for the same amount of meat. If it’s feasible for you, meat reduction/elimination is one of the higher impact personal decisions you can make.

      In college I went to a talk where the person told us to ask, “How soon will this be trash?” before we buy something and that question has stuck with me. In my better moments I pause and ask it before buying something. I buy a lot secondhand.

      I’m finally back to my habit of bringing our bags grocery shopping after the pandemic disrupted that; this year I have a vague resolution to use reusable produce bags because we buy a lot of loose produce. We live in California so for most of the year we have great local produce so I buy that when available.

      1. zaracat*

        I made some reusable produce bags from fabric in my stash, and annoyingly will now have to remake them in a more transparent fabric because the supermarket self checkouts now use colour recognition to help identify produce automatically and will freeze the screen and call for an attendant if you try to key in carrots but they’re in a green bag.

    6. zaracat*

      I mostly buy second hand: furniture, clothing, household items, books. One of the local thrift stores (non-religious affiliated, yay! all profits to diabetes research) is huge and sells tested electrical goods which is great for sourcing kitchen appliances and lamps. If I no longer want something I usually re-donate it to that thrift store rather than try to sell it and I often joke that I’m renting things rather than buying. I alter and mend my clothing, and try to repair things rather than replace. I have a metal water bottle and keep a cutlery set and silicon straw in a little container in my handbag, and a second set + cup in my car for takeaway food. I only have a tiny garden, but I live alone so it’s worth growing things like herbs to reduce wastage compared with buying at the supermarket. A lot of what I do is as much for personal satisfaction as for sustainability. I love the thrill of finding a bargain, of fixing something myself, and eating takeaway food with proper metal cutlery instead of stupid fragile plastic.

      The other thing I started doing – coincidentally just before the Great Toilet Paper Famine of 2020 – was using washable cloths after peeing instead of toilet paper. I actually like it better, but I realise many people would be uncomfortable with the idea, so I restrict it only at home and only in my own private bathroom not for guests.

      1. Dr. Doll*

        oh yes, forgot to say, I use bathroom cloths as well. a roll of TP will last me a month! very useful during TP shortages.

        1. Anonononononi*

          Huh, I use resumable pads (and a cup) but I have never heard of cloth TP!

          My husband and I don’t flush the toilet every time of we’re just peeing and it’s just us at home – I think this is less weird for us because we already did this at our cottage that is on septic system. it definitely means cleaning the toilet a little more often, but we save a lot of water.
          We also turn off the water in the shower when we are soaping up (we found out we both did this early on in the relationship!) it saves water and I find it easier as you’re not losing all your soap!

          1. Galfrax*

            Cloth TP comes in various guises, sometimes a stack of small rags or the fancier ones that kind of clip together so you can use them on a roll. I have a fragile septic system at my new fixer-upper so am planning on these for the number 1s.

          2. zaracat*

            I used old white bath towels cut into 4-5″ squares and overlocked the edges. I have a small basket next to the toilet for clean ones and a small plastic bucket for the used ones. Normal machine wash and sun-dry outdoors if the weather is fine and indoors on a clothes rack if rainy. Outdoors is easier because I just shake them around in the washing basket to unscrunch them and then tip onto a clean corner of the concrete patio to dry instead of having to individually hang up. Using these also means I don’t need to flush if just peeing because you don’t get the paper mush just sitting there.

    7. Zelda*

      10% less. We buy (things that market themselves as (I know, I know)) green/sustainable detergents and cleaners, and then I try to use about 10-20% less than the package directions say.

      In summer, I do a bit of grey water– I wash vegetables in a bowl instead of a running stream, and then the gently-used rinse water gets tossed into a watering can. I can water the garden enough to keep the zucchini and other thirsty plants happy, with little to no extra water used.

    8. ThatGirl*

      Small things: wool dryer balls, glass leftover containers. Buying refills instead of new containers.

      I also drive an electric car though that’s not a great option for everyone.

      1. ThatGirl*

        To echo others, I also barely eat meat besides chicken and avoid bottled water as much as possible.

    9. Future*

      I’m trying to eat less meat, especially beef. It’s hard, I love meat.

      I lived for years without owning a dryer (a common item not to have or not to use too frequently) in an apartment in Ireland, which is a very damp and rainy country, and dried all my clothes indoors on a rack. It’s really not that much of a hassle once you are used to the process. So a recommendation I always have to North American people trying to be more sustainable is to try drying more of your clothes on a rack or outdoors, and get into the habit. If the Irish and British can do it in their (relatively) tiny damp homes, so can many of you :)

      I managed to almost completely cut out disposable coffee cups pre-pandemic and then got out of the habit when a lot of places stopped accepting reusables for dubious hygiene reasons, so I think this thread might inspire me to get back at that.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        I finally got my solar dryer put up last year after not having one for years. I’m more like, “Hah, I’m sticking to The Man™ by hanging my clothes out!” It helps I’m in a ruralish area and have the room.

        This year I should commit to bringing reusable Rubbermaid containers with me to work to take my leftovers home. I work at a pizza place and get a free meal but sometimes have leftovers that I use styrofoam containers for. I want to cut that back a lot.

        1. Future*

          I tried to Google solar dryer and got nothing useful – just big machines to dry grains or something. What is a solar dryer in this context?

          1. Dr. Doll*

            just a clothes drying rack, I imagine. if you’re in the US, Lehman company has wonderful ones (pricey but sturdy as stone walls).

            1. Future*

              Oh interesting. I’d not really associated clothes drying with the sun specifically. Wherever I’ve lived it’s more the wind and air that dries the hung out clothes, especially indoors. Heat as well, from the radiator in winter. Sun never guaranteed, lol

              Good name, though. Sounds very modern and chic.

            2. fposte*

              Lehman in general is a great place to check out. It is (I realize you know this, Dr. D) geared toward the Amish/Mennonite community so it specializes in hardware and goods for what I’d term self-sufficient grid-free living.

        2. Double A*

          Oh yeah the clothesline! I just upgraded last year to and A frame style rather than the square umbrella one (we had some work done that mean the placement didn’t work anymore) and while I always enjoyed hanging laundry I really love this new rack! and you can move it anywhere as opposed to the other one which was fixed in place.

          I’m not as diligent about the clothesline as I could be but part of that is having young kinds and now that they’re a bit older I can hang while they play outside with me.

    10. Emma*

      I try not to order from Amazon. Instead, I buy things through pickup (I use the drive up feature in the Target app) from my local Target.

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      Sometimes it’s the tiny thing that can grow.

      For instance, about 4 years ago (right at the beginning of the pandemic but it was a coincidence) we started asking customers if they wanted sides of romano cheese and red pepper flakes on the side for their pizza orders, rather than automatically including them. They’re just little biodegradable cups and it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but we have cut SO down on waste, both of the containers and the condiments, since we started.

      Pick just one little thing. Like, don’t grab the ketchup packets if you’re taking your burger and fries home to eat, have ketchup at home instead. Seems like nothing, but it adds up.

    12. WoodswomanWrites*

      Thanks for posting this thread so I can get ideas from others.

      I’m fortunate to live in California where we have a lot of options to minimize disposables, often mandated by law. For instance, my county officially requires everyone to use the free green bins we all receive for compost instead of putting things in the landfill. I’ve had my own compost bin for many years so I don’t need it, but it was nice to see the county distributing the info to every household even if some don’t follow it.

      For trash that can’t be recycled or composted, I use a biodegradable trash bag. I feel good about diverting things from the waste stream, taking weeks to fill up my household trash bag.

      A big issue in California is water because even in a wet year our climate with months of no rain requires conservation. I live in an apartment in a three-story building that’s 100+ years old and it can take 2 minutes for hot water to reach my place (I timed it once). For doing dishes, I now just heat a pot of water on the stove instead. On days I don’t take a shower, I wash up with cold water instead of letting it run until it’s warm.

      As others have said, I do my best to get things used from thrift stores or garage sales. I’m also a big fan of Freecycle, where I’ve both received items and given things away. I’ve also parted with things through the free section of Craigslist.

      I make choices about where I spend my money whenever I can. First, I ask myself if I really need a particular item or not to minimize using resources. I try to get books used or from the library. My vehicles have all been used.

      I may not be able to avoid big oil when buying gas, but I can support the worker-owned bakery, purchase food from my neighborhood grocery store where I know the owners and staff individually, and see movies at the local theater that shows independent films.

      My weakness and sometimes necessity is outdoor gear. I start with Patagonia because they incorporate fair trade for sourcing, use a lot of recycled materials, pay their employees well, and donate to environmental organizations. I shop at REI where I’m a member because they make grants to groups that are creating outdoor access for marginalized populations. I also buy high-quality gear that requires a higher initial expense but ultimately lasts a lot longer.

    13. allathian*

      We air dry all laundry because we don’t have a dryer. In winter it dries very quickly, and as a bonus our indoor air is a bit less dry, so I can get away with using less moisturizer. Air drying cuts out a lot of wear and tear on clothes.

      I don’t have any clothes that require dry cleaning, but our dress code is casual, so I generally wear patterned long sleeve tees and jeans.

      I’m fat and hate shopping for clothes, so I don’t buy second hand or fast fashion. But I do wear my clothes out, I have t-shirts about 10 years old that I still wear WFH and the oldest that I still wear to the office is 7 years old.

      Plastic disposable utensils are banned in the EU.

      I try to buy local produce as much as I can, my main exceptions are bananas and corn because they don’t grow here.

      I’m a flexi-eater and will often pick the veggie option. Most of the meat we eat is chicken or turkey. We don’t eat much pork or beef for environmental reasons and because pigs are smarter than dogs. I eat sustainable fish, but because our son hates fish, we rarely cook it at home.

      I use public transit to commute to the office, we have good access to it.

      We have a separate bin for recyclable plastic and another for compostable waste. Very little goes to the incinerator because there’s a municipal waste collection bank within easy biking distance with bins for cardboard, paper, glass, metal, etc. In winter, we take a detour to throw away our recyclables when we’re going somewhere anyway.

    14. Aphrodite*

      One thing I am glad I thought of is to have a large number of washcloths (two or three dozen for just me) to use for washing my hands after using the toilet. I tend to be very hygiene conscious. So instead of using bath towels hanging there or using paper towels (not recyclable) I use a washcloth to dry my hands and wipe up water around the sink and counter. Then I toss it in the washer. They are sufficiently small that I can wash all of them at once with other stuff. I also use one to dry my face after washing it.

      1. Aphrodite*

        Oh, a comment just above reminded me. I haven’t bought any shoes for about, I’d guess, at least five years and I think that is because I do not wear shoes if I don’t have to. Shoes are not allowed inside my home. In my office, I slip off my shoes and do not put them on again until I go home unless it is to go to the bathroom or elsewhere. So they last. And last. Same with clothes. I rarely buy. I use a minimal wardrobe. Work outfits consist of the same tee shirt dress in black for summer; I have about a dozen of them. A few jeans or leggings and casual tops and I’m good to go. I dislike spending money on clothes or shoes and couldn’t possible care less about fashion so whatever I can minimize, I do.

    15. Future*

      I thought of a few more. I try to walk, cycle, or take public transport as much as possible, and I try to patronise independent shops, cafes, restaurants, and other businesses as much as possible too. I never use Amazon.

    16. amoeba*

      My biggest one is not driving – I know that’s not really feasible for most people in the US, I’m lucky enough to live in a country with amazing public transport though, so it’s pretty easy (never actually got my licence – used to be for financial reasons, have now become very convinced of my car-free lifestyle). I take public transport or cycle.

      I also try to avoid flying whenever possible – again, lucky with my location as you can reach most of Europe by train quite easily. Am trying out night trains and multi-stop “train road trips” (is there a better word?) are actually a lot of fun – have been both to the north of Scotland and the South of France that way!

      I mostly avoid meat (never at home, do sometimes make exceptions at restaurants – so flexitarian, I guess!) and try to buy plant-based products like oat milk, although I do still eat eggs and dairy. For animal products especially, I buy “sustainable”/organic products, for which in this country the standards are actually, luckily, a bit better than in many parts of the world.

      I do own reusable mugs and containers for takeaway but not really good at using them at the moment, so that’s definitely something I want to improve. Water bottles as well. Also, food waste is honestly a big problem here – I’m in a long-distance relationship and often away from home and unfortunately really bad at coordinating my shopping with that…

    17. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

      Most of my sustainability-things are also either “I hate running out of things and I hate going to the store” things, so it can be a little idiosyncratic in what I will and won’t stick with.

      + I’ve been a menstrual cup user for about 20 years now. Definitely not for everyone, but not having to deal with the logistics of remembering that I’m almost out of thing-I-last-used-several-weeks-ago when I suddenly need it again has been AMAZING for my own personal brand of disorganization. No more being surprised that the Restocking Fairy didn’t visit since last month!

      + I found some reusable fabric grocery bags that fold up into little pouches. I keep several in my coat pockets all winter, and several in the little backpack I wear to the farmers market in the summer. They’ve held up really well for over a year now.

      + I have a travel cross-body bag designed for a water bottle, but I actually use it for one of my Contigo travel mugs. If I’m planning to get coffee out on a walk, I throw an empty travel mug in it so I’ll have a mug with me in winter. (My summer farmers market/wandering town backpack has a water bottle holder on the side that I use instead, so this only gets used if I’m not carrying the backpack.)

      + Contigo travel mugs for hot beverages are amazing and mine have held up for over a decade by this point. I find it much easier to bring multiple travel mugs of coffee in a wine bottle holder than to haul around a big Thermos. (I use one of those fabric holders that’s designed to hold 6 wine bottles to carry around whatever collection of coffee travel mugs and refillable water bottles I feel like taking with me.)

      + I have multiple sets of reusable metal utensils that come in their own dishwasher-safe plastic carrying case. I keep a set with my work lunchbox, a set in my summer farmers market backpack, and a set in my car. I’m really happy with the specific ones I got because every part of it goes in the dishwasher and it stays well-contained in the case while I’m carrying it around. Being able to put the used utensils back in the carrying case and then put all of the pieces in the dishwasher when I get back home saves so much logistical hassle over the ones that come in spot-clean-only fabric cases. The ones I bought were Bentgo brand and I got them from Target.

      + Cloth napkins. I bought 3 sets of cloth napkins several years ago, and that’s enough that I always have clean napkins available since I do laundry every week anyway. They can also replace some, but not all, uses of paper towels.

      + Cleaning rags. I bought a big package of white terrycloth cleaning rags at Costco several years back. They have their own little baskets for where they go when they’re clean in the kitchen and linen closet and their own laundry basket to accumulate the dirty ones in. Every few months I run the accumulated load of dirty ones through the wash with bleach and hot water. These replace most of the rest of the uses of paper towels. (I do a little sorting after they come out of the wash to relegate the most-stained ones to the uses that will make them even more stained, with the rest in general circulation.)

      + I use wide-mouth Mason jars for most pantry storage and fridge or freezer storage of soup-type leftovers. Since I’m not using them for actual canning, I reuse the lids and run everything through the dishwasher. Ants and similar critters can’t seem to get into things stored in Mason jars, which has made for fewer unpleasant pantry discoveries and less wasted food as a result. (I used to actually take Mason jars with me to the store to buy bulk foods, but the health department here cracked down on stores allowing that. Now I just buy things in the largest container that I think I can actually use up before it goes bad and decant that into Mason jars at home for the things that I won’t go through an entire food bucket or two of. Things like flour go into plastic food buckets just because I go through enough of it to buy it in the larger sacks and it’s too much work to decant 20-50 pounds of bulk whatever into canning jars rather than buckets even if I do have to wash the buckets by hand.)

      + Pretty much all of the other types of leftovers go in Pyrex storage containers. These are also easy to run through the dishwasher. The lids for the round containers seem to make a pretty good seal. I’ve been less happy with the lids for the rectangular storage containers, but they work well enough that I can at least stack them on top of each other in the fridge even if I wouldn’t trust them in a lunchbox. (I mostly use the rectangular ones for leftover pizza since pizza boxes won’t fit in my side-by-side fridge, and I can portion it out a few slices in each container to get something in a form factor much easier to store. I don’t trust them for wetter foods.)

      Not about disposables, but other stuff I do:

      + I run pretty much everything, including pots and pans, through the dishwasher rather than washing by hand. This uses a lot less water, and I also hate doing dishes so it’s been very easy for me to stick with. I just don’t buy things that can’t go in the dishwasher unless there’s a really good reason why I can’t get it in a dishwasher-friendly version.

      + I air-dry most of my clothes on drying racks. I treat myself to a dryer for things like towels and bedding most of the time, though (I tried air drying absolutely everything for a year, but towels don’t come out as soft and bedding takes up an obnoxious amount of space).

      Things that I tried, but did not stick with:

      + Washing and re-using plastic containers that used to have food in them. This foundered on my extreme dislike of washing things by hand, so I’ve mostly replaced these with things that can go in the dishwasher rather than re-using old yogurt containers and such. (I do buy yogurt in the giant tubs and flavor it myself rather than buying single serve cups for the most part, though.)

      + Buying milk in returnable glass bottles from the local dairy. It is just so much more hassle and expense than buying milk at Costco while I’m there anyway. It doesn’t keep as long, either. Maybe someday when I have more spare time or stop going through milk in Costco-size quantities.

      + Buying beer in reusable growlers rather than bottles or cans. This is somewhat similar to the milk issue, but with the added issue that I don’t want to drink an entire growler of beer that quickly and need the smaller portion of just one bottle or can.

      + Having a vegetable garden. I do not enjoy maintaining a garden for months just so I can have a few weeks of an extreme abundance of tomatoes which I may or may not remember to go pick. I try to remember to harvest the fruit in their assorted seasons (I’m about 20% on remembering to get the cherries in and more like 50% on the grapes), but I buy my vegetables from the farmers market instead.

    18. Ellis Bell*

      I dunno if you are a person who has periods, but period knickers have been revolutionary for me. I didn’t even buy them to be sustainable (people only ever talk about moon cups when sustainable periods are discussed, and I think they sound horridly unsuitable for me). I came across a mention of them, and thought they were probably the absorbency equivalent of pantyliners, and that they might be a good thing to sleep in the night before Day 1. Well, if anything they are more secure and offer more coverage than a super tampon. I haven’t used a disposable product at all this year, because the knickers are just so incredibly comfortable and dry to the point of magical powers. If I didn’t have the occasional cramp, I wouldn’t know I was having a period.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Oooh, what company did you buy from? I have reusable pads that I have had for years now, but sometimes they slide around, especially if I’m doing a lot of walking.

        1. Ellis Bell*

          They’re Marks and Spencer, who are the British market leaders for any kind of knickers. As much as I love Marksies underwear, I must say it’s probably the period pants technology themselves which is impressing me so much. It’s the fabric layers used on the gusset that’s so miraculous – completely absorbs to touch dry on the inside and impenetrable on the outer. The same as your pads, I imagine? I think any company will probably that fabric. I like M&S cuts and design which is why I go there. There’s a US site, (if that’s helpful to you) and they look exactly the same as the ones I have.

        2. RedinSC*

          I have ones from Knix, but then menopause finally won and I haven’t had to really use them for that any more, but for the bit I used them, they worked well.

    19. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Things I haven’t seen mentioned so far:
      – LED light bulbs and Christmas lights (indoor and outdoor) (they now have them in warm white) They are worth the extra up front cost!
      – We almost never order stuff to be delivered to our house, we go to a store or pick-up. Saves traffic, saves packaging, and often it makes you hesitate a bit more before purchasing – do you really need it?
      – Because we compost and recycle, we don’t end up with that much actual garbage. We end up repurposing small, other bags we end up acquiring rather than buying actual garbage bags (for fellow Eastern Canadians – we use the outside bag of our 4Ls of milk). It’s gotten so that my Mum and all our relatives will pass along their bags to us! Smaller bags also mean it doesn’t get smelly often because you move them through more often.
      – I’ve kind of fallen off this, but we have cloth handkerchiefs we can use instead of tissues, especially for just general ‘it’s cold out so my nose is leaking’.
      – We use paper towel very sparingly. Someone also gave us a reusable/biodegradable one, which isn’t quite the same, but we use it for one particular purpose consistently.

      Lastly, and this is a bigger one so maybe not a direct answer to your question, but if anyone wants to talk cold climate air source heat pumps, we got one last year as our sole heating source and are loving it! (Again, based in Eastern Canada where we go get down to -30.)

      1. fposte*

        If you’re talking outdoor Christmas lights, they have reasonably priced solar powered ones these days. I don’t know about super Northern climes, but I’m in Illinois and even on grey days they get enough light to turn on some.

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh my! Please do talk about air source heat pumps!
        We’re in New England, so not so warm here usually.

        1. fallingleavesofnovember*

          I am a heat pump evangelist, so happy to share! We are in Eastern Canada, so winter is usually -10 and under sort of weather. Our house had an oil furnace when we moved in, so we knew we wanted to change that, but we didn’t really want to go to natural gas (which is what most people here have). We got a Mitsubishi Zuba system that connects and heats directly through our existing heating ducts (as opposed to a mini split, where you need to have a unit on your wall). Outside it is smaller than an AC unit. It’s supposed to work at 100% efficiency down to -15 Celsius and it can keep working down to -30 – we’ve only had one night where it went down that much, and our indoor temperature dropped maybe a degree overnight. We now have a wood fireplace insert as back up for those nights. We’re very happy with our system! The actual unit cost about $20,000 CAD to install, plus we needed a 200 amp panel, but we were doing other electrical work at the same time, so that just made sense. (I think the panel upgrade was under $3000.) We also qualified for government rebates that lowered the cost of our unit. I haven’t run the numbers on our monthly electric bill, but the increase is definitely way under what we were paying for heating oil! If you have natural gas already, you could probably get a less expensive unit and use the heat pump most of the time, with the natural gas as back up for colder days. Or just be learning about heat pumps so that when you next need to replace your furnace, you can make the investment then!

    20. MissB*

      I switched over to Bokashi bins as an initial stage of composting, which means less food waste going into the curbside green bin to be hauled off. My Bokashi bins can handle foods that I’d otherwise avoid throwing into the backyard compost. After a bin is full, I let it set for about a month before dumping it into the backyard compost. By then, things have kind of fermented and aren’t attractive to pests.

      I shred most scrap paper rather than directly recycling it at the curb. I have chickens so my primary use is to line their nighttime (poo) board. I also stuff some in the compost as a brown material.

      I try to figure out how to make something from scratch rather than buying a pre-made ingredient. Taco seasoning for lentil tacos? I could buy a little foil packet or even a large Costco-sized container of taco seasoning. Or I could throw it together from scratch using spices from the bulk bins. Even better, I can break the recipe down into “what can I grow in my garden” and avoid the bulk bin for some of the ingredients.

      I wanted some leek and potato soup this week. I had no fresh leeks in the garden, but I had dehydrated leeks from my last harvest that I could rehydrate (using the hydration water as the base of some of the required stock), some canned potatoes that I put up a few months ago, and some dehydrated parsley from my garden. It isn’t much, but those are three ingredients that I didn’t have to shop for because I’d taken the time to preserve them.

      My latest thing is tortillas. We use them several times a week. I’m weary of all the little plastic bags from the tortillas. I’ve made pumpkins tortillas (pretty much just puréed squash and flour, roll them out and fry on a cast iron skillet), but I also bought a bag of blue Masienda recently and made blue tortillas. The learning curve was not that steep at all! (For the squash tortillas, I roast cubed squash and red onion, throw on some goat cheese and pumpkin seeds and avocado.) I’m unlikely to grow corn on my half acre, or at least enough to grind into grain. But I can reduce some of the plastic waste at least.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I hadn’t heard of Bokashi before. I don’t need one for my typical food waste, but they have one for pet waste that I might try; three cats produce quite a lot!

        1. Turnipnator*

          Hi I don’t know if you’ll see this, but just as a clarification: bokashi isn’t a brand (exclusively) – it’s a traditional japanese composting method that uses an anaerobic process to ferment stuff before composting – it still requires a composting step before it’s ‘usable’ as compost, and I would be _extremely_ cautious with pet waste – the consequences for error are much higher than with vegetable scraps. I would not use the resulting compost indoors or on food gardens.

          1. GoryDetails*

            Oh, yeah, I definitely wouldn’t use pet-waste compost on food gardens. Even my own food-waste slow-compost soil is probably too risky for a garden patch – it doesn’t heat up enough to kill weed seeds, etc. But for flower gardens or just for fill-dirt around the yard borders it should be OK. [My confusion about “style” vs “brand” was because my Googling landed me on a Bokashi-brand site, but now I know to explore further!]

    21. CTT*

      Using less paper towels has been a big one for me – I actually ran out at one point early in spring 2020 when I was going to the grocery store less, and that for Ed me to use the various cut-up t-shirts I had been trying to use as replacement towels. Obviously some things need a disposable towel, but over half of what I do in the kitchen can be accomplished with either rags or a cloth towel.

      I’ve also stopped using plastic produce bags entirely, but that’s less about being sustainable and more about me never remembering to throw them out in the moment and my crisper drawer becoming a wasteland of bags.

    22. ecnaseener*

      I have a roll of reusable “paper” (mixed with cotton) towels for kitchen spills — it cuts way down on the amount of paper towels I waste. (Rags/cloth towels are also an option of course but I just never want to stain them.)

      I also don’t eat beef, try not to use any styrofoam, rarely use disposable menstrual products, mend my clothes, and try to only buy natural fiber clothes/fabrics.

    23. English Rose*

      Great question and some brilliant answers here, thanks. To save energy, I never tumble dry clothes, air dry them on a rack in my spare room (I live in an apartment and don’t have a garden). Probably not feasible for people with big families. And even though it’s winter, I keep the heating down and wear extra sweaters.
      Never buy anything with polyester in it, and am generally trying to buy less clothing. That’s been tricky as I’m really interested in fashion and style, but I’m learning how to ‘shop my closet’. Anyone else interested in this, Google Alyssa Beltempo, who has a great YouTube channel on sustainable dressing.

      1. Sandals*

        “Never buy anything with polyester in it.”

        Yep! “Just say ‘no’ to polyester!” is my current and future permanent theme. Just the other day I bought all-cotton blankets and blouses. More expensive, but well more worth it, and I feel very lucky to be able to make that choice, since not everyone can.

    24. Galfrax*

      I designate days of the week where I stay home – I live in the countryside and anything you want to get to has to involve the car, so by picking two or three days a week where I purposefully stay home I save time, money on gas and the associated environmental benefits. I also save money that I would have spent on coffees/meals out, as well as not indulging in mindless shopping (recovering home decor addict!). It encourages me to be more thoughtful when planning my days out, and more efficient when I run errands. Sometimes I have ‘cupboard week’ where I can only eat what I already have in the house, so saves on money and food waste.

      1. Dancing Otter*

        Similarly, I only take the car out once or twice a week when I have a meeting to attend. The Target order gets picked up on the way home. Most weeks, there’s a load of donations for the resale shop near the quilting location. Library pick-up and returns, same trip. When I need gas, same trip – it’s not a *short* trip, but it’s shorter than multiple trips. I drive a 10-year-old Prius, which saves gas, and (even with repairs) is cheaper than a newer all-electric – which I couldn’t charge at my apartment complex, anyway.

        Unfortunately, recycling isn’t available at the complex, but I found a monthly drop-off location for some stuff; I donate anything still usable (losing weight=clothes that no longer fit, plus generally getting rid of stuff); and I take my own bags to the store. Target pick-up won’t use them, but Costco and the regular stores are glad. Well, except for that one clerk who put the plastic bags inside my string bags. Grrr. At least the plastic bags can be used to line the paper baskets.

        I’m trying to cut back on carbonated drinks, substituting coffee or iced tea, made at home, as much as possible. Even the coffee comes in biodegradable pods. The Keurig may not suit everyone’s idea of sustainable; but I wouldn’t drink a pot of coffee before it got cold, bitter or both, so this is less wasteful for me, personally.

        Using an electric mattress pad to heat the bed instead of the room at night. This isn’t actually voluntary, as my heat doesn’t work well – they’re really skirting the landlord/tenant rules here.

        What didn’t work:
        * Silicon baking mat instead of foil or parchment paper. It can’t go in the dishwasher, and no amount of hand-washing will get it really clean.
        * Cutting back on artificial light just gives me eye strain headaches and exacerbates winter blues.
        * The reduced flow shower head (not my idea) just means a longer shower to get the shampoo and conditioner out of my hair.

    25. Frieda*

      We’re vegetarian (except for 2/3 adult kids who are in and out of the house, some more regularly than others.)

      I compost although I do a lot better in warmer weather than during January. I’m an avid gardener and I’m planning this year to add some additional raised beds so we can grow more of our own produce. I have a water barrel and use it during the summer for gardening. We don’t water the lawn, just the flowers and vegetables. The bulk of my volunteer work (it’s also my recreation, really) focuses on sustainable agriculture and food donation. I don’t use pesticides. We also get produce from a local CSA that’s part of a nonprofit teaching people to be urban farmers.

      I have a 45 minute commute so I have a hybrid car. We recycle, including glass which takes a bit of effort. Much of our furniture and many of our other household items are purchased used or are hand-me-downs. My partner’s remote workspace is about four minutes from our house so his “commute” is really short.

      We had insulation added to various parts of our 100 yo old house last fall, so hopefully our heat and a/c needs will be lower this year.

      Things I do poorly and/or want to change: I buy new clothing instead of used. I use the dryer instead of hanging to dry (including outside where I have a clothesline.) I am not super careful about waste (little plastic, mostly) when I buy plants although I’m getting better about identifying and using the free/nonprofit resources for gardening. We could definitely be more efficient about buying in bulk and reducing our packaging waste – we don’t have great recycling so some theoretically recyclable stuff goes to the landfill instead.

      God willing, we’re not going to move any time soon, so there’s lots of opportunities to make our house more efficient, including converting more and more space to native pollinators.

      All of that said I was visiting my adult daughter recently and we went to an exhibit at a modern art museum that documented environmental waste and various kinds of degradation and harm and I cried about how doomed the world is and how I’ve sent my beloved children out into a world that feels so fractured and hostile and ill-fated. Keeping a water barrel doesn’t fix that but sometimes the gestures towards environmental sustainability are what keep me getting out of bed in the morning.

    26. GoryDetails*

      The main one that I’ve stuck with is composting – though I don’t usually go for actual hot-composting with the layers and the turning. I have enough space in my yard for a couple of bins, and I just toss my food waste – peels, coffee grounds, anything that languished too long in the produce drawer, etc. – in there, along with whatever leaves or plant-trimmings are available. Makes a noticeable difference in the amount of trash-to-be-disposed-of.

      I’m fortunate enough to live in an area where there are lots of local farm stands, so I can buy fresh AND local during the season. I do grow some things of my own, though I haven’t had the energy to attempt to make full use of the garden space I have; maybe this year I’ll get back to that.

    27. Elizabeth West*

      I do a lot of these — dryer balls, reusable water bottle, cutlery, and grocery bags, recycling and thrifting (this came out of being poor, lol), buying certified humane eggs, trying to eat less meat, etc. But a big one for me is using public transportation. Not only does it reduce emissions, but it’s WAY cheaper than driving my car to work and paying for parking downtown. My company incentivizes this by offering a benefit that uses pre-tax dollars to pay for a monthly transit card. I pay $90 a month — I can go nearly everywhere and it saves so much money. My office building has an underground parking garage, but it’s $30 a day!!! I use the train/bus time as reading time. :)

      I buy way too many paper towels, but washable ones are a PITA when you don’t have an in-home laundry. If I ever have that again, I’ll probably switch. I’d also like to get one of those bidets you can attach to the toilet so I don’t have to buy so much TP. I can’t get it in bulk (cheaper) bc there’s no place to put it.

    28. Aly_b*

      I care a lot about carbon in particular, so I prioritize the big inputs there.

      In my location, electricity is extremely low carbon and very efficient, so heating being electric or heat pump was something I prioritized when house hunting and will improve in future when I renovate. I live in a relatively walkable and bike-able area (deliberately), and mostly get around by e-bike (which has the added bonus of being extremely fun). If I buy another car, it will be electric.

      I’m a huge believer in putting my energy into making the big choices the right ones, and not sweating the small stuff, so for me it’s more about targeting those bigger emissions sources for myself and then making it a matter of infrastructure rather than willpower to succeed.

    29. Other Duties as Assigned*

      We do a lot of things–
      –curbside recycling with the city (paper, cardboard, many plastics, glass, aluminum)…so much so that we generate very little trash.
      –composting yard waste, also through the city (we have lots of leaves and garden waste each fall)
      –hybrid vehicles: I drive a used Prius that averaged 57 mpg over 2023 and my wife has a plug-in Ford Escape hybrid. It has poor range before switching to hybrid mode (~40 miles), but we primarily use it around town and charge it at home. We bought gas for it twice in 2023: once in March and once in December. We’re early adopters–the electrician who installed the charger said ours was the first he’d ever installed (electricity just for the charging the Ford runs about $11/month)
      –speaking of electricity, we pay a small premium to the utility for renewable sourcing. Of course, they can’t direct the solar/wind power to our home, but they source an amount equal to our usage in the energy market, which creates demand for these producers. This runs one cent per kilowatt hour, so under $6/month.
      –scrap metal–this is one thing that held on from my last job. We found a place that buys scrap steel, aluminum, brass, copper, electric motors, etc. My job generated a lot, but even individuals can take part; there’s a line at my local scrap buyer when they open the doors each day. I’ve sent old electrical cords (everyone has lots of computer power cords), beat up pots and pans, replaced plumbing pipes/fixtures, motors from burned out appliances, brake rotors, broken tools, etc. Others bring in old mag wheels, aluminum siding, storm doors, lawn chairs, lawn mowers, etc. We don’t make much-just a few dollars each time-but it keeps it out of the landfill and by definition we know it’s being recycled.
      –styrofoam–there’s a company in my town that recycles block styrofoam packaging (but not packing peanuts or takeout containers). According to them, there are nearly 500 such dropoff sites in the U.S. Again, you know it’s being recycled and not in the landfill.

      The one area where I wish we could do better is using mass transit. The local bus system is poor and we’re over an hour away from the nearest Amtrak station.

    30. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’ve looked at all the great additions since I added my own comment. I do a bunch of these things that I didn’t mention and also got ideas for others, so that’s helpful. An excellent resource for climate solutions is a nonprofit called Project Drawdown, which has a useful website highlighting practices such as reducing food waste. I recommend checking them out.

    31. Seashell*

      My kid got me composting during the pandemic, despite some cynicism on my part. The outdoor bin is kind of gross, but I like that it keeps the inside garbage less apt to smell, so I plan to stick with it.

      My town has a bin where you can put used fabric items for recycling, so I’ll bring any clothes that I don’t want and have stains, holes, etc., there.

    32. Owlette*

      This year I bought a set of reusable fabric gift bags to use in our family. They are gorgeous and no wrapping paper waste in the Christmas clean up!

      1. Zelda*

        I’ve been buying remnants at the fabric store and taking in various scraps the family has, and making a few more gift bags each year. After a more than ten years of this, we have a pretty good stash built up. It makes Christmas Eve a lot more relaxed, too, because nobody has to wrassle the weird-shaped things, and we’re never out of tape!

    33. Owlette*

      Oh and depending on where you live, thrift shopping. I am lucky to live near 3 thrift shops that have variety without being overly big. I needed extra glasses for Christmas and got some beer glasses for cheaper than disposable would have been. It took some practise but I’m now good at doing all my clothes shopping there too – I think the only new clothes items I bought this year was underwear. I started by just picking one thrift store and swinging through once a week on my way to coffee to look at the new clothes which made it manageable.

    34. RedinSC*

      I switched to detergent sheets, reduced plastic waste. Which is a little step, but I like them. And instead of dryer sheets, am using wool balls to help with static.

      I switched to coconut dental floss (there’s silk too) which is compostable.

      I rarely buy fast fashion and instead invest in a few nice pieces of clothing to add to my collection that are organic and sustainable.

      Plus, when I use a ziploc bag, I wash it and reuse it until it gets holes in it.

    35. Green CTO*

      I use cloth instead of most paper products now: rags/washcloths instead of paper towels, handkerchiefs instead of tissues, napkins instead of, uhhh, napkins. When clothes wear out, especially t-shirts, we cut them into rags and hankerchiefs.

      Put together that’s a lot less going into the trash, and less industrial manufacturing of new bleached paper products.

      It’s an easy one to maintain — actually easier than buying paper products. I’m doing laundry anyway, and this just fits into loads I’d be washing anyway, so the only activity needed to sustain is sorting it out of the laundry and putting it away.

    36. cantthinkofone*

      I do a lot of experimenting to find things I can stick with! Even better if I actively prefer them to the alternative.
      What’s working:
      I thrift almost all my clothes, air dry them, and mend them. Air drying extends the life of the clothes as well as saving energy, so that’s a win win. I don’t air dry things like towels, but I do keep them a long time. I love thrifting, and actually find nicer things that way than buying them new. Mending is fun and makes me more fond of my clothes.
      I live in a driving city but in an area where I can and do run many of my errands on foot.
      I do still use Amazon, but mostly only for things that I couldn’t find even if I drove around all day. When I need something but it can wait, I put it on a mental list and keep an eye out at thrift stores and on Buy Nothing.
      I use my local Buy Nothing regularly, including taking the time to post things and coordinate with people even though dumping things at Goodwill would be easier.
      Native landscaping instead of a lawn – it’s a bit scrubby, but it’s low maintenance and we don’t water it at all.

      Things I want to improve, but haven’t found a way to make stick yet:
      Taking shorter showers – I don’t actually need much time and I’d love to do the bucket method but I’m a wimp about cold and the moment my skin gets wet I have a hard time turning the shower off. We need to replace our old shower and if I could figure out a clever way to stay warm with less extra water / energy use. Or maybe a graywater system? On the plus side my wimpiness about cold means we use a lot less AC in the summer.
      Composting (the outside bin gets so smelly and fly-ridden and I really dislike cleaning the inside bin – then I wonder is composting worth the extra energy use of compostable bags?)
      Growing herbs – the extreme weather where I live and my neglectful gardening keeps killing them, trying to figure out how to grow some indoors.

    37. Fierce Jindo*

      I got a book as a holiday gift that’s been really helping me waste less food: Perfectly Good Food by Margaret Li and Irene Li. Highly recommended.

    38. Chauncy Gardener*

      A huge thank you to everyone who responded! Your comments and ideas were incredibly helpful.
      Have a great week!

  4. moon sun stars*

    That’s a perfect timed book recommendation. I’m a somewhat lapsed Jew trying to read more Jewish books (fiction, not non-fiction). Does anyone have more recommendations along those lines?

      1. Observer*

        As an Orthodox Jew, I want to say that a lot of Chaim Potok’s work has a patina of authenticity, but is not necessarily accurate or fair.

    1. LeeHannah*

      Anything by Michael Chabon, but I especially love the Amazing Adventures of Cavalier & Clay and the Yiddish Policeman’s Union
      When the Angels Left The Old Country by Sasha Lamb (like Good Omens but even more Jewish)
      The Golem of Brooklyn by Adam Mansbach – I haven’t actually read it yet, but just heard a super smart interview with the author and am looking forward to my hold coming in from the library

      1. Bluebell*

        I just started reading When the Angels Left the Old Country and am liking it far more than I expected. I thought the Golem of Brooklyn was very funny but perhaps trying too hard to be outrageous. Other Jewish fiction I’ve liked includes The Golem and the Jinni, most books by Dara Horn, The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish, and Ariel Samson Freelance Rabbi by Mahnishtanah.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I adore Cavalier & Clay–the writing is so gorgeous.

        A more modern take on the golem is The Golem of 2020 by Robin Bailes: he runs the website Dark Corners and it’s part of a series of novels all dealing with different supernatural creatures that have featured in Universal movies at one time or another.

    2. HannahS*

      For non-fiction, Jewish Literacy by Joseph Telushkin appears to be a mighty tome but is actually a totally digestible book divided into very short chapters, each on a single topic.

      For fiction, The Golem and the Jinni was recommended by Alison, and I read and enjoyed it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This isn’t what you’re asking for since it’s non-fiction, but if any other Jews are in the same mental space that I think a lot of us are in right now and wanting to read something that connects with that, I am really finding meaning in Here All Along by Sarah Hurwitz. She’s Michelle Obama’s former head speechwriter, and she was a not-very-observant Jew who found herself reconnecting with Judaism in her 30s. The book is really good and feels like it’s speaking directly to me in this particular moment. Also, People Love Dead Jews, by Dara Horn, which … you know.

      1. WoodswomanWrites*

        Thanks for these recommendations, much needed by this Jew in a comparable mental space. If you’d like another nonfiction recommendation, Miriam’s Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich is excellent.

        1. Blue wall*

          Miriam’s Kitchen is a delightful book! I love it so much that I buy copies to give to friends and family and strongly urge them to read it.

          1. WoodswomanWrites*

            I read it when it was first published because the author’s sibling has been my friend since childhood. I’m happy that it turned out to be a wonderful book.

      2. Mia*

        I really liked Here All Along as well as someone who wasn’t raised by particularly observant folks but who married someone more observant. It also helped me see a lot of the Jewish roots in how I was raised.

        I also just finished (and recommend) Kantika by Elizabeth Graver. it’s a novel based on her Sephardic family’s history, which starts in Turkey in the early 20th century.

      3. Bibliovore*

        For those interested in graphic format
        Hereville series featuring Mirka by Barry Deutsch

        Courage to Dream: Tales of Hope in the Holocaust
        by Neal Shusterman, Andrés Vera Martínez (Illustrator)

    4. Poetry*

      The Chosen by Chaim Potok. Beautiful book and wonderful movie. About Jews, yes, but equally or more about friendship and family relationships. I reread it every year.

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

      For kids (but maybe you’d like it too), I liked *The Star and the Sword* about two tweens on the run from a 1200s pogrom in England who wind up meeting Robin Hood. It’s a good adventure.

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

            I like those too! And you learn a lot about turn of the 19th-into-the-20th-century New York.

    6. dark matter baby*

      “Yiddish for pirates” by Gary Barwin is both laugh-out-loud funny, and captures Jewish humour perfectly. I also really enjoyed “The Girl from Foreign: A Search for Shipwrecked Ancestors, Forgotten Histories, and a Sense of Home” by Sadia Shepard; she discovered that her grandmother from her Pakistani Muslim family was really Jewish from India. I think she won a Fulbright to trace her grandmother’s story.

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      Laurie Colwin wrote several novels featuring Jewish characters; my favorite is Goodbye Without Leaving, about a woman who has an amazing past as a backup singer and is trying to figure out who she is later in life. Other great ones are A Big Storm Knocked it Over and Passion and Affect.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Whoops! Passion is a collection of (great) short stories but the novels are Happy all the Time and Family Happiness.

    8. Yoli*

      Rachel Lynn Solomon writes cute contemporary Jewish romance (~4 out of 5 on the steamy scale).

      For nonfiction, I liked Bad Jews by Emily Tamkin.

    9. Isobel*

      The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman is one of my favourite books – there’s a great part set at a hotel in the Catskills

    10. Applesauce*

      * This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper (fiction, takes place during shiva)
      * Being Heumann by Judy Heumann (memoir by an amazing Jewish disability activist)
      *Tender at the Bones (Ruth Reichl, former editor of Gourmet, memoir)
      * Yes No Maybe So; Little & Lion – two young adults novels

    11. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It’s not a specific focus of the series so might not be quite what you’re looking for, but Marie Brennan’s “A Natural History of Dragons” series is set in a world where the unnamed dominant religion is very clearly Judaism.

      1. Roland*

        Ha, always interesting to see different opinions. I rolled my eyes at Fictional Judaism But With Missionaries And Protestants vs Catholics, but good to see it landed differently with others.

    12. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I really liked Kaddish by Leon Weisleiter which is about him grieving his father’s death (TW – but as I recall it was a natural death) and rediscovering Judaism/spirituality, especially in the context of grief.

      1. Ali + Nino*

        “Kaddish” just sparked my memory – The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander (the main character’s name is Kaddish Poznan).

        From GoodReads: “In the heart of Argentina’s Dirty War, Kaddish Poznan struggles with a son who won’t accept him; strives for a wife who forever saves him; and spends his nights protecting the good name of a community that denies his existence–and denies a checkered history that only Kaddish holds dear.”

    13. sagewhiz*

      For a LOL coming-of-age story, I def! recommend He Lost It in the Catskills by Jerold Greenfield. Helps if you’re old enough to remember the Borscht Belt comics who’d often appear on TV.

    14. Llellayena*

      The Firebird series by Kathy Tyers is HEAVILY influenced by Judaism. It’s sci-fi, and the concept that “Judaism” has been around much longer means that the religious aspects have evolved somewhat (from the perspective of a Christian whose knowledge of Jewish traditional practices is mostly academic), but the story leans heavily on the prophecy of the coming Messiah.

      On a lighter influence level, the second and third books in the Kushiel series by Jaqueline Carey have remnants of Jewish religion. It’s a supporting storyline though, not the main focus except for chunks of book 3. You do need to read the first book in the series (which has no Jewish influence) to understand why it’s being developed in the other two books. (My typical warning with that series is that if you’re uncomfortable with the concepts in 50 Shades of Grey, don’t read the Kushiel series, the BDSM theme is a key aspect of the series)

      1. Astor*

        Your description that the story is heavily influenced by Judaism but then that the Judaism is evolved (Judaism is always changing, but the word evolved is really common to mean moving to be more Christian-like), and that the book leans heavily on the prophecy of the coming Messiah (which again, Christians tend to treat very differently than Jews) made me very surprised that it would actually be a Jewish book.

        So, I looked it up and the author is Christian and while I’m not sure which version you read: she re-released Firebird and her later books as Christian fiction at publishers that only publish Christian-related works.

        So, FYI: it’s in *no* way a Jewish book. It’s not just that the author isn’t Jewish, it’s that the author is specifically pushing a Christian agenda.

        1. Llellayena*

          Good to know, thank you. It read like a pre-Christ Judaism to me, but I did admit that my perspective is skewed and purely academic.

          1. Astor*

            Yeah, to be clear I meant it as a “it’s really hard for someone who is familiar with Christianity and only familiar with Judaism academically to recognize tropes that *certain kinds* of Christians” use. I assumed a good faith mistake on your part, just one that is really common from people who don’t really know how often this happens.

            Your addition that it’s working from pre-Christ Judaism and not modern-day Judaism is actually absolutely consistent with this kind of Christian perspective, especially when it’s tied in with removing Christ (because that’s how they know to make it Jewish) and then adding another savior. It’s depressingly familiar.

            There are definitely other books where this kind of stuff is more obvious! This same publisher may be familiar to some people because 5+ years ago they released a romance book set in the Holocaust with a Jewish woman who becomes involved with a Nazi man and ends with her converting to Christianity. Firebird also sounds antisemetic to me, just the more casual kind that’s written by Christians who find the idea of Jewish people so very fascinating but can’t imagine us as anything other than pre-Christians. That casual kind is harder for other people to recognize.

    15. InquisitorsApprentice*

      If you like SF/F I highly recommend The Inquisitor’s Apprentice by chris Moriarty. Alt-history gilded age NY where kabbalah magic is real. There are a few conceits that were irritating (Slightly changing the names of the Astors, J.P. Morgan, etc was the biggest) but it’s a fantastic book.

    16. Jay*

      K.T. Katzmann’s Murder With Monsters.
      It’s a fun, often deeply funny, murder mystery set in a world where all the monsters are real.
      It follows the adventures of a Jewish vampire and her efforts to solve a murder who’s prime suspect could not have possibly have committed the crime.

    17. Mazey's Mom*

      Roland Balson – The Girl from Berlin. Won the National Jewish Book Award in 2018. I’ve enjoyed reading his other books as well.

      1. Bluebell*

        And then you can move on to The Rabbi who Prayed with Fire by Rachel Lewis – which takes place in the present day, and the rabbi solving the mystery is a younger lesbian who is an asst rabbi at her Rhode Island congregation.

      2. Observer*

        A note here – I can’t speak to the accuracy of the description of Conservative Jewry, but the author has Rabbi Small say things about Orthodox Jews and Judaism that are just incorrect. (I don’t remember the details, as I read them many, many years ago. But I recall this issue because I had someone actually ask me some questions based on the “facts” that Rabbi Small presented.)

    18. Hedwig*

      If you want to know what’s going on in the UK: Jews Don’t Count by David Baddiel and Everyday Hate by Dave Rich are good places to start

    19. Radar's Glasses*

      Kerry Greenwood has a Phryne Fisher mystery “Raisins and Almonds” which takes place among the Jewish community in 1920s Melbourne, Australia. Also, that book was made into a TV episode of Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Both are very good.

      Also check out “A Handful of Gold: Three Rachel Gold short stories” by Michael A. Kahn. Rachel is a lawyer in St. Louis, Jewish, and gets involved in “Bread of Affliction” – where she must locate a missing will – if she finds it, the money goes to Israel. If deemed lost, then the funds will go elsewhere…

      I also enjoyed “Crossing Delancey” a 1988 film starring Amy Irving and Peter Riegert. It’s based on a play by Susan Sandler about 30-something Izzy Grossman and her grandmother Bubba – Peter Riegert played Sam, the pickle man, who’s interested in Izzy, but Izzy wants to go uptown and get out of the Lower East Side.

    20. Donkey Hotey*

      Coming in late but enthusiastic recommends for both Chanon’s Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Golem and Wecker’s Jinni. Also, if you’re in to graphic novels, see if you can find Hereville by Barry Deutsch.

  5. Bibliovore*

    Snowed in.
    I have milk, eggs, bread, and butter.
    The house is toasty warm.
    What are your hygge favorites?
    I made a pot of congee.
    Netflix? Prime? Hulu? Apple plus? Paramount? Disney?
    (I know, I have too many but can’t seem to give one up. We signed up during Covid lock down and I have been procrastinating)
    Any series to recommend?
    Would love to marathon something and knit.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      What kind of show do you like? I’m rewatching Death in Paradise. It might go well with knitting.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I’m halfway through that one! Jack’s just finishing up his run and I love and adore Ruby.

        1. WestsideStory*

          I adore this show. We were in St Lucia for a week last year and it brings me back. And yes, the actress who plays Ruby is amazingly good.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Within two minutes I was all “You are ADORABLE. Do you want a car? Let me buy you a car!”

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea with Megan Follows – My absolute favorite comfort show but I’m not sure it’s streaming anywhere. Looks like you can buy it on Prime.

      Good Omens – Prime (season 2 is more cozy than 1)

      Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth – Hulu and Prime?

      The Holiday – Netflix

      1. Sharpie*

        I second Anne of Green Gables and the 1995 Pride and Prejudice. Can also recommend Emma with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, which is a four-part miniseries (I think it’s four, might be three). And if it’s streaming anywhere and you like British sitcoms, ‘Allo ‘Allo is always good for a laugh.

        1. Ron McDon*

          I loooove that version of Emma! The BBC in the 90s/2000s did such good Jane Austen adaptations. I love Jonny Lee Miller so much, sigh…

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Apple has been really good for cool shows.
      Slow Horses: About the MI5 agents at Slough House, who did not screw up quite badly enough to get kicked out so they are set here out of the way. Each season is similar to a book. It’s so unusual to focus on spies who screw up–not constantly, but they’re there because they screwed up badly at least once. In the finale for season three, I was thinking how that makes them more adaptable than those who have not had to try and come back from an epic screw up.

      Ted Lasso is as good as its reputation. In an interview with one of the writers he described not liking something because it was so dark–that in the midst of bad times there are moments of humor and joy. And this show being in some ways a response to that.

      Foundation is one I really enjoyed. I read the books about 40 years ago and they are very vague; I don’t know whether “history is set” or “history can be turned” is going to win, and the characters don’t know either.

      For All Mankind: What if Russia won the space race?

      1. Quinalla*

        Ted Lasso for sure – I’m rewatching right now!

        Severance – very weird/interesting sci-fi concept.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Oh, good snowy binge watching would be The Afterparty on Apple. A murder mystery in which the events of the evening (and the titular after party) are seen from a different character’s viewpoint in each episode, and the episode is shot in a particular style. So one character is in a charming rom com, another a musical, another a tough guy who is going to Save His Family, and so on. Great performances and well written.

    5. fallingleavesofnovember*

      We’ve been loving Reservation Dogs, it’s pause-the-show-so-you-don’t-laugh-over-the-next-line funny but also deals with some really serious topics and is quite heartfelt.

    6. LNLN*

      I watch a lot of Korean dramas on Netflix. Some of my favorites:

      Crash Landing on You
      One Spring Night
      Extraordinary Attorney Woo
      Our Blues
      Memories of the Alhambra

      The shows are usually 16 episodes to a season. Love the acting!

      1. Emma*

        Crash Landing on You is a wonderful comedic love story of a South Korean celebrity accidentally parachuting into North Korea. It’s very fun/cute.

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

      I think Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson is still free on YouTube.

    8. Emma*

      Bluey is an animated kids show on Disney with fairly short episodes that is funny and is so representative of raising little kids.

      I wouldn’t call For All Mankind on Apple+ hygge, but it is super compelling!

      Ted Lasso on Apple+ is incredibly hygge and heartwarming.

      I’m sure you’ve seen the Great British Bake off and Queer Eye on Netflix, but they’re both very hygge/heartwarming.

    9. Dwight Schrute*

      depends on what genres you enjoy but I would be watching any of these things

      death in paradise
      Sherlock and Hathaway
      the mentalist
      gravity falls
      Scooby Doo
      good mythical morning
      ghost files

    10. dark matter baby*

      I loved “Recipes for love and murder”, a mostly cozy mystery with some food porn thrown in.

      1. Bluebell*

        Loved the Bear but most of the eps are pretty nerve wracking. The closest to hygge is the 2nd season episode in Copenhagen.

    11. Malarkey01*

      Deadloch on Prime- funny and suspenseful. I’m watching it a second time to catch things I missed.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      If you’ve got Prime, Astrid is a great French series about an young woman on the spectrum who is a file clerk and assists the police in solving crimes. The actress who plays her really knocks it out of the park.

    13. Australian TV recs*

      if you like comedies where the people are a little offbeat but not completely wacky, highly recommend Fisk. it’s on Netflix. it’s Australian and has two short seasons available.
      There’s also a great and hilarious Australian show on Prime – Deadloch. it’s set in Tasmania and is about a series of murders in a small town. I know that doesn’t sound like the setting for a comedy, but somehow it works. if you like grim comedy and very wacky oddball characters who are somehow both realistic and relatable, highly recommend this one.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        Thanks for recommending Deadloch! I started it last night and really like its quirky and funny vibe.

    14. Queer Earthling*

      Paramount Plus has all the Star Treks. I find TOS and TNG most comfort-viewing-friendly. If you’ve never seen Star Trek before and you decide to try TNG, go ahead and skip the first season–it’s not great and since the show is episodic, you aren’t missing a whole lot plot-wise. If you choose to watch the first season anyway, skip Code of Honor. Really.

      Columbo is free on TubiTV and it’s one of the comfiest-to-watch crime shows in the world. I usually start at what they list as Episode 3 on there–the first two TV movies don’t quite have the Columbo character down yet, but from there on out you’re golden.

      Eureka is on Prime and it’s a really fun, not-too-high-stakes series. I also really like the first 3 seasons of Warehouse 13 but that’s one you have to pay for at the moment. (It’s on FreeVee every so often so I hoped…)

    15. RussianInTexas*

      Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries is an amazing cozy watch.
      My Life is Murder with Lucy Lawless. She is great and she bakes bread!
      Both are sweet in Australia and New Zealand, and have beautiful clothes, scenery, fun plots, and there is a murder in there somewhere.

    16. Wordnerd*

      Original Leverage and Leverage Redemption are on Prime. Generally light-hearted heist show where the con artists fight for the little guy against corruption.

  6. Teapot Translator*

    Who else uses StoryGraph app/website?
    I’ve discovered their reading challenges this year. I’m tracking my pages every day and signed up for the StoryGraph Reads the World 2024 challenge. I’ve also created one where I challenge myself to read 12 unread books from my bookshelves. :D

    1. Double A*

      I just signed up for it and I like it. I think it will be especially useful for keeping my “to read” list, which is currently just a list in my Notes app. It definitely needed an upgrade.

      I’m not interested in the challenges, but I am interested in the graphs. I don’t think I will use it to connect socially because the way I’ve always tracked my reading is with my own list, though sometimes posted in a shared space.

      I will also maintain my handwritten list of books I’ve read, but I’m enjoying the app as a compliment to that.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        I like the graphics! I want to read more books in my native language, and the app allows me to see how well I’m doing at a quick glance.

    2. Florence Reese*

      I love StoryGraph! The challenges are so useful. I join the r/Fantasy subreddit’s annual Bingo challenge. Even if I come nowhere close to finishing my bingo card, I always add dozens of books to my TBR from scrolling through other users’ suggestions.

      I had never considered making a personal challenge for myself though, and now I think I will :) Thanks for the idea! Good luck with your reading this year!

    3. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I use it to log the books I read / want to read, add reviews, and read reviews of books I’m interested in. I’m not much of a goal-setter or a tracker of pages, but enjoy the website enough to use it at least on a weekly basis (I could never get into GoodReads), and quite like their end of year wrap up.

      Also, I signed up with them as a volunteer librarian ages ago, so now and then I log in to fix editions and incomplete book data. I find it quite satisfying when I have some downtime and want something not too demanding to do, plus I get to (very slowly) ensure all the international editions of books I care a lot about are in order.

    4. OtterB*

      I just signed up for StoryGraph this year. In 2021 and 2022 I kept a running thread on Twitter of the books I’d read. Last year I didn’t keep anything, and I missed having a list. I’m not much interested in tracking pages read and I don’t know yet how much I want to connect with other people, but I might create a couple of challenges. I’d like to read more nonfiction this year, and working on the TBR list of purchased books and ebooks would be good.

    5. PassThePeasPlease*

      Love StoryGraph! Used it for the first time last year and reached my reading goal which felt great! And love that they were created by a Black woman and they are creating an alternative to the only other large competitor in the space is Amazon-owned GoodReads. SG just released a feature that you can barcode scan to bring up a book and plan to use it to digitally catalogue my library soon!

      1. acmx*

        Oh! Good to know it now has a scanner function! I started SG a few years ago but didn’t follow through.

      2. Cookies For Breakfast*

        The owned books feature is one I struggle to get my head round! Maybe it’s because I don’t have that many at home (I mostly borrow from the library, and the bulk of my collection is at my parents’ house). I’m curious to hear from someone who plans to use it – what do you feel is the additional benefit, comparing to only logging what you read?

        1. Treena*

          The main benefit is knowing whether or not you have a copy when you’re out and about and find a good deal. It can be hard to remember if you have a copy or if you’ve been wanting to read it.

  7. RLC*

    Those are some intense feline stares looking out from my screen! Love seeing their facial expressions and markings.

  8. Skip the aluminum foil*

    I try to cook with as close to zero added aluminum foil as I can get, and I’m hoping for suggestions on baking brown rice in the oven and not need to cover the pan with foil. I think I’ll experiment with cooking it in a stainless steel saucepan that has a lid, even though it’s both deeper and narrower than the 8×8 or 9×9 Pyrex pans called for in all the recipes I’ve seen, but does anyone have another idea? I have one each 3-, 4-, and 6-quart saucepans, and I’m not going to buy a pan especially for baking rice.

    1. Pennyworth*

      How airtight does it need to be? Would baking paper work? Old fashioned puddings (pre-foil) used to be covered with baking paper, overhanging the edge, with string tied around to hold it in place.

      1. zaracat*

        an additional trick used in the pre-foil days was to make a small quantity of flour + water dough and use a strip of that to seal the gap between dish and lid. I still use that when cooking in cast iron on camping trips.

    2. Busy Middle Manager*

      Do you have any casserole dishes with a lid you can use? I always found it odd recipes call specifically for foil, when any cover does the trick of keeping in the moisture.

    3. Jay*

      Can you just use a lidded pan in place of aluminum foil?
      There are plenty of after market lids available, if your pans don’t have their own.
      I’ve even used a shallow baking sheet to some success. I used to have an old crappy pan I bought at a second hand store for, like, two dollars. It wasn’t much thicker than aluminum foil. I poked holes in it with an old screwdriver and used it as a makeshift lid for my baking pans for years, until I was making enough money to afford both good aluminum foil and proper pan lids. It wasn’t exactly perfect, but it did the job well enough for most things, and it meant one less thing I needed to buy when money was hard to come by. If you were to, say, get a decent really thin pan, I imagine that you could make a better version of that without much trouble.

    4. KayDee*

      Charles Viancin silicon dish covers are oven safe to 428 degrees, per the label for one of mine. Would that work? They are reusable, and are great for covering metal and glass dishes

    5. germank106*

      I often use a cookie sheet, flip it over and cover my casserole dish with it. Just make sure you use oven mitts when taking it off.

    6. JSPA*

      i don’t know if you’re avoiding waste or avoiding aluminum…but I use thicker aluminum foil, and find that if I create a shape that’s tented up enough that there’s no food contact, I can let it dry, store and re-use it 10+ times. Proportional to the materials in it, it’s not (then) intrinsically more wasteful than a pan that’s good for a couple hundred uses. (Plus, wadded up when truly past use, it’s supposedly dense and solid enough to be pulled out of the trash by our waste-management system’s induced‐current+magnet metal recovery system.)

    7. Gyne*

      Is the baking essential? I have always made brown rice on the stove in a saucepan, and after the initial boil it’s also pretty much a “set the timer and ignore it” process.

      Or if you own a Dutch Oven, that might get you closer to the Pyrex size but I’m not sure how the heat transfer would change the baking time and water ratio, you might have to experiment with that.

    8. Samwise*

      Pyrex dish with lid. You will use it for more than just rice. I have several I picked up at thrift stores.

    9. Observer*

      even though it’s both deeper and narrower than the 8×8 or 9×9 Pyrex pans called for

      There are backing dishes that come with their own covers. I realize that you’re not up to buying new, but check and see if you can get the covers separately – or check one of the other makers of similar bakeware (eg Corningware) and see if they have covers of the same shape.

      The problem with most saucepans is that their handles are either not oven safe or they get so hot that you have to be especially careful. And also, depending on the material of the cover, the cover may not be oven safe.

    10. Might Be Spam*

      Check thrift stores for a replacement glass lid. You can trace the pan onto paper, to make it easier to find the right size & shape.

  9. Busy Middle Manager*

    Does anyone know any chat room or even just new site with an active comment section, in particular, to discuss business or economic news? I used to do reddit but it’s so skewed (they cherry pick bullish data points and TBH I’m questioning the amount of bots there these days) and they insert politics into everything. I sometimes comment on yahoo news but they close comments too quick to reply to replies, and also have a weird moderation bot that ends up not approving comments because of completely normal words. So you spend time sitting there guessing why the comment wasn’t approve. I just had one like that that wasn’t being approved, and I realized it was because I had the word “horrible” in the comment. But I was repeating what someone had said about the job market, it wasn’t an insult or something!

    Any ideas appreciated. I find it hard to find people at my financial news junkie level to banter about this stuff in real life

    1. office hobbit*

      Hmm there’s a podcast from Marketplace called “Make Me Smart” that has a fan-run discord server. The podcast is economics/tech/culture. I’m not sure how wonkish the discord runs, but it certainly sounds more promising than your experiences on reddit.

      1. office hobbit*

        I should add, the podcast is US based/focused (I’m not sure if the discord skews more global or not)

    2. I'm A Little Teapot*

      You could check out the Mr. Money Mustache forum. Not sure how active that section is.

    3. Anon in IL*

      Wall Street Journal has a robust intelligent comment section. To note: (1) not all stories allow comments (2) commentariat largely right leaning (3) not free.

  10. Jay*

    Anyone else here following Mousetrapped?
    I figured that Steamboat Willy going public domain would end about as well as Winnie The Poo. Cheesy, crappy rip-offs, mostly.
    Randy Milholland’s take on the character has proven to be an absolute surprise and delight.
    It reminds me of a lot of the old Disney stuff my parents had from when they were children, back in the 50’s, just made for the modern day, with better art and writing.

    1. Free Meerkats*

      I’m following it and enjoying the heck out of it. Especially bringing other now public domain animated characters into it.

      At a Worldcon so long ago I can’t remember which one it was, there was a track of nothing but old animation running and I was in that dark room for way too many hours.

  11. Falling Diphthong*


    I read The Quiet at the End of the World by Lauren James, after asking for recs along the lines “Post apocalypse, but people are mostly decent to each other.” About the two youngest humans on the planet, being raised by the people born from the stored embryos when worldwide infertility blanketed the planet about seventy years back. Humanity is down to one enclave, in London, and the kids are not kept wrapped in cotton batting but taught to explore and improvise, for when they are inevitably on their own in the future.

    A really beautiful book that I highly recommend. Not available on Kindle–I got a copy from my library, and then ordered a copy to give to my sister-in-law.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Ooh, did you request those ideas here? I either missed it or forgot to come back and see what people suggested but sounds like a great category of reading!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Requested in the open thread 2-3 weeks ago, after watching Love and Monsters on Netflix, which fits this brief. It really struck me how logical it was that people inclined to band together and help each other would be the ones to survive. (In that case, a world overrun with the monsters from Godzilla-esque films.)

      1. funkytown*

        Sorry, I mis-read and thought you were asking for those recs now! I should go back and find that thread for ideas.

    2. Filosofickle*

      I’m always looking for light books (that aren’t romance-centric) and just finished Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers. I almost didn’t hang with it because Vera is a pushy, know-it-all, busybody type that gave me flashbacks to my grandma, who we called a “force of nature” in her eulogy lol. But I did enjoy it!

      “But when Vera wakes up one morning to find a dead man in the middle of her tea shop, it’s going to take more than a strong Longjing to fix things. Knowing she’ll do a better job than the police possibly could – because nobody sniffs out a wrongdoing quite like a suspicious Chinese mother with time on her hands – Vera decides it’s down to her to catch the killer.”

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Magpie Murders; I saw the adaptation and Husband bought it for me. Even knowing the ending I really enjoyed it and how it was structured. Next up, the sequel, Moonflower Murders.

      I’m about a fourth of the way into The Iliad and feeling the frustration of having the two sides come thisclose to resolving things in a logical way and the the gods jump in and ruin everything because they can.

    4. OtterB*

      Not a book, but a novelette, but highly recommended for this topic: The Year Without Sunshine, Naomi Kritzer, Uncanny magazine issue 55. Online.

    5. Part time lab tech*

      After the lights go out, Lili Wilkinson is a young adult book that doesn’t quite fit your brief because two characters are jerks but it satisfied my “actually, lots of people would help each other” belief. Part of the arc is how the community decides to trust each other after the initial uncertainty.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I’m fine with a few jerks; I doubt humanity will ever be free of them. Watching Love and Monsters, I was really struck how for many shows–like The Last of Us or Twisted Metal–almost everyone the heroes encounter is awful. And that doesn’t seem like a successful plan to survive, compared to passing on what help you can afford. (Particularly knowledge, in that case. Lots of stuff you work out by not getting squashed.)

        1. Part time lab tech*

          I think I read somewhere that the author wrote After the lights go out because of the same sort of reaction to disaster stories where most groups are only out for themselves. It felt like a masculine paranoia almost.

    6. Jo*

      I’ve been on a suspense, crime novel kick lately. Yesterday, I read “The Lies You Wrote (Raisa Susanto Book 1)”, by Brianna Labuskes.

      It’s about an FBI team trying to catch a serial killer copycatting on a 25 year old murder-suicide. Raisa, the main character, is a forensic linguist with the FBI. Fiction. For those interested, it’s available as Kindle Unlimited. There’s second book due out in September.

  12. Jackalope*

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

    I’ve been reading the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I just finished book 4 today and ordered book 5. It’s a good series and I like the characters and the stories, but boy howdy is the author okay with killing off main characters!

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      I started reading Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn yesterday. Less than 50 pages in so far, but really enjoying it.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I’ve been rewatching the special features to the extended edition of LOTR – there’s twice as much behind-the-scenes as there is movie, even with the extended versions, and so much of it is just fascinating – and my husband and I just started a rewatch of the movies for our weekly movie nights, doing half a movie at a go. The other night I looked at him and said “I wish Tolkien was more readable.” I tried reading the series like 20 years ago and struggled through it, but it was such a painful slog. I loved reading The Hobbit. But I like words and languages and sometimes it’s easier to get the hang of what they’re talking about (especially since so many of the crew have heavy Kiwi accents and if there’s closed captioning on the features I can’t find it) if I can read for myself – it took me four rewinds the other night to understand “Argonath”.

      So all that is to say, I just literally a couple minutes ago grabbed a copy of the trilogy to try it again and see if it does better for me this time.

      1. Jackalope*

        Tolkien is one of my all-time favorite authors and I love what he wrote so very much, but he’s not for everyone. So if it doesn’t work out this time either, that’s perfectly okay. I say this just because I know he’s a classic author and just like with any classic author there can be pressure to like what he writes even if it’s not your thing. I don’t know if this will help, but I had a friend who said she found him easier to read once she realized that the landscape is a separate character in the series and read the descriptive scenes with that in mind.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I love his STORIES. It’s his writing style I found painful, as I recall. I historically have the same problem with Frank Herbert. I love the worlds they both built, I just have found that other people do better jobs of presenting them in many ways :) but I will give it another try – Dune was less onerous the last time I read it than the first, so fingers crossed.

      2. fallingleavesofnovember*

        As someone who memorised Tolkien poems as a young teenager…you can also skip over the poems if they aren’t catching you. He’s doing beautiful things with language and a lot of them are links to his wider mythology, but most are not really critical for the plot of LotR.

        I have my extended edition movie marathon today, so excited to see this post! And I love all the extras, there was so much craft involved in the making of the films!

        I hope you make it through to the Two Towers – my biggest gripe with the movies is that they did Faramir dirty, even though I thought David Wenham did an excellent job with the character they wrote.

        Happy reading and good luck!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I need to do another extended edition marathon — my Blu-ray/DVD player seems to be malfunctioning, though. I finally managed to do it all in one day a few years ago. Nerd achievement unlocked! \0/

      3. KTNZ*

        I absolutely love the LOTR movies, but also couldn’t manage to struggle through the books until last year I stumbled upon the audiobooks read by Phil Dragash (they’re available free on the internet archive if you google his name and Lord of the Rings). The audiobooks were incredible – they incorporated some of the movie scores and clearly took a lot of inspiration from the movies for the character voices, and it all felt so familiar. I was stoked to have finally been able to read/listen to them. Highly recommend giving them a shot if audiobooks are at all your thing :)

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      Remarkably Bright Creatures has gone from disappointing to a hate read. I’m too far in to quit now but I’ve gradually sped up the audiobook from my usual 1.25x speed to 1.5 to try to get it over with lol. I’ve never encountered a book where the reviews *and publisher description (!!!)* are so far removed from the actual story.

      1. Sutemi*

        I had a hard time with that as well, particularly the octopus’s narration. I had just finished An Immense World which is nonfiction about how animals perceive, and it felt to me like the author of Remarkably Bright Creatures had done zero reading about octopi.

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          The summary doesn’t mention Cam at all and he’s such a big part of the story (in a bad way). I don’t find any of the characters particularly interesting.

          I think part of my problem is because I’m listening to the audiobook. A lot of reviews, even more critical ones, talk about how loveable Marcellus is but the narrator makes him sound so sarcastic!

          1. Flames on the Side of My Face*

            I read this novel in paper form and had a similar disappointing-to-frustrating experience. I speed-read (“sped-read”?) the last third of it just to be done. Found the plot predictable and Cal insufferable, and I can enjoy reading about an insufferable character if they’re at least interesting! The book’s allure eluded me, I’m afraid.

    4. AcademiaNut*

      A new Lois McMaster Bujold Penric & Desdemona novella is out and is excellent – the title is Demon Daughter.

      The October Daye series keeps going strong – books 17 and 18 just came out recently. She’s really good at managing long term plot lines without getting stale. The latest Wayward Children book came out this week too – Mislaid in Parts Half-Known.

      1. OtterB*

        Ooh, ooh, thanks for pointing this out! Off to buy Penric & Desdemona.

        I have several e-books out of the library and several newly-purchased ebooks, but I am not being grabbed by any of them, really. I have read a little of Where Peace is Lost by Valerie Valdes and will probably continue with it.

        I preordered the newest J D Robb In Death book which will come out on January 23, and am now rereading the most recent previous one.

      2. Jackalope*

        Yes, I also just ordered the most recent Wayward Children book. It should be here mid- next week and I’m very excited.

    5. Future*

      Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge

      A magical realism novel that is almost like a series of short stories woven together, about a city in China where mysterious almost-human beasts of different species live amongst us.

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

      Re-reading some Andrea Camilleri Inspector Montalbano mysteries and a John D. MacDonald Travis McGee one. The dialogue in the Travis McGees feels kind of odd to me — I didn’t notice it when I inhaled those books as a younger person, but now, I’m like, “Did people really talk like that?! — but they are still otherwise enjoyable.

      1. allathian*

        I sometimes have the same reaction to Agatha Christie’s books. I really enjoy most of them (even while acknowledging the misogyny and racism issues) but the dialog sounds very stilted to my ears, at least sometimes.

        Currently reading A Mysterious Affair at Styles.

    7. Pamela Adams*

      I just got the new Wayward Children AND the new Penric! Also Lawrence Block’s new Bernie Rhodenbarr.

    8. Miss Buttons*

      I’m still loving Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache books. You can find the full list of about 19 on her website. They have been my cherished friends through all my chemo, especially with bouts of insomnia.

      1. PollyQ*

        I’ve been binge-reading these based on a recommendation here! Turns out my sister’s also a fan.

    9. Teapot Translator*

      I read Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline B. Cooney (some interesting bits, but overall didn’t quite hit the spot for me) and The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall. I’m now reading Starter Villain by John Scalzi (just started)!

    10. AnnanyMouse*

      I’m really enjoying the Lockwood&Co series by Jonathan Stroud! Very good quality 5 book fiction series, alternative history set in Britain 50years into a ghost epidemic. I’m not normally into books with ghosts and supernatural, but this has completely changed my mind as the world-building is incredibly convincing and thought-provoking. Would highly recommend as a gripping read with a great sense of humour, intrigue, and complex characters. Scary in parts but not too dark or gruesome (Doctor Who levels of scary). The first two books were adapted into a Netflix series, which is also great but unfortunately discontinued. I read the books after watching it!

    11. CTT*

      IMm halfway through Zadie Smith’s “The Fraud,” which unfortunately I am not loving (I think if I knew more about 19th century English lit I would be getting more out of it) but I like it enough that I want to finish it. My reward for turning it in at the library is to pick up my next hold “Among the Bros: a Fraternity Crime Story.” I’m hot-and-cold on true crime, but I read the excerpt in Vanity Fair and was hooked.

    12. GoryDetails*

      I’ve started Alison’s recommendation from last week, “Master Slave Husband Wife” by Ilyon Woo – fascinating story, and one I hadn’t heard about before.

      And another new discovery, “The Undetectables” by Courtney Smyth, a “fantasy murder mystery” with the tag-line “Be gay, solve crime, take naps”!

    13. Nervous Nellie*

      I’ve nearly finished rereading The Stone Angel by Margaret Laurence, and will continue on to book two in the loose Manawaka Series, A Jest of God. Each night as I close the book, I sit in stunned silence at the perfection and gravity of Laurence’s writing. What a national treasure for Canada.

      And thanks to my beloved bookseller at my local indie bookshop, I’m reading What You Are Looking For is in the Library by Michiko Aoyama. The shop has a book group meeting for this book coming up, and I’m excited to get out and meet some readers.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I adored “What You Are Looking For is in the Library” – via audiobook, where the various narrators added some nice touches.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Wonderful! I may resort to that from the library as I have too little time to read before this book club meetup. Thanks for this!

    14. DJ Abbott*

      I just finished Patrick Stewart’s memoir, Making It So. Highly recommend!
      I’ve always admired that he’s not a culture snob, and now I know why – he grew up poor in a working class northern England town. So glad I’ve gotten to know him better. :)

      1. Jackalope*

        I loved it too! So far it’s my first and only audio book, because I was considering dipping my toe into the audio book waters and it was available, and I decided that even if it wasn’t my favorite format I could listen to him read the phone book if needed. He seems like a delightful human, which I appreciate. And the book was very interesting.

        1. word nerd*

          I am a recent convert to audiobooks, and it was memoirs that really drew me in. In particular, Michelle Obama reading Becoming and Maya Angelou reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.

          1. word nerd*

            My favoritest thing to do is listen to an audiobook while working on a jigsaw puzzle–there’s something so satisfying about that particular combination to my brain.

        2. allathian*

          Sounds intriguing. Admittedly I’ve only seen Patrick Stewart as Captain Picard and Professor Xavier, but I’d like to know more about him.

          Audio books aren’t really my thing, the only audio book I’ve so far listened to was King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, narrated by Sean Bean. I’d listen to him read the first million decimals of pi because I enjoy his voice so much. I don’t really remember anything about the book, though…

    15. Random Bystander*

      Kate Flora. Recently finished Such a Good Man (currently the last in the Joe Burgess series). I discovered the series with book 5 showing up in Bookbub recommendations, promptly quit and went to buy books 1-4, and then book 5, and I’ve read the subsequent ones (this is book 8, there will be a 9 in October).

      Also by the same author, just finished reading a standalone, Teach Her a Lesson (well written, tough story).

    16. Flames on the Side of My Face*

      I’m about a third of the way through David Mitchell’s “Ghostwritten,” which was his first novel. I went into the book blind, and I’m still deciding how I feel about it.

    17. Phryne*

      Do webcomics count? A friend loaned me the first four printed books of Rachel Smytes Lore Olumpics and I loved them and spend the rest of the week reading the rest of it online. It is based on the Greek Gods Myths, with a bit of a modern twist (mortals in the human world live in Ancient Greece, the Gods on Olympus are already in the 20th century. It focuses on Persephone and Hades, and in spite of heavy themes, it is really lovely.

  13. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    I’ve played a bit of Fire Emblem Engage; I’m sort of limping my way towards finishing. It’s a bit stale at this point but I want to finish. How do youall handle it when that happens? Do you push through, change to another game, switch to something non gaming entirely, or something else?

    1. Golden*

      I’m maybe 30 hours into Starfield and am a little disappointed. Things feel really empty? Copy and pasted? Has anyone else put more time into it and has any thoughts, similar to mine or different? I’d like to keep playing but wonder if I’d have more fun going back to one of the Fallouts or Elder Scrolls.

    2. Ellen Ripley*

      If there is not that long left, I’ll usually just finish the game (I have completionist syndrome though).

      Currently playing Children of Morta couch co-op with my spouse. It’s a rogue-like RPG with a nice story (told in short snippets) and beautiful graphics. Definitely would recommend!

    3. SparklingBlue*

      Snowed in with Super Mario RPG–been redoing the beginning and the first star often to show it to family, but now that cold and snow are setting in, I may have a chance to get further.

      Also looking ahead to Princess Peach: Showtime in March–the theater theme is up my alley, and of the revealed costumes so far, the musketeer and the martial artist are my favorites.

  14. Bethlam*

    I’m a regular reader of Not Always Right (and the offshoots), and I am always amazed at just how many anecdotes are published every day about rude, entitled, ignorant, bigoted people being awful in public.

    I think I am so amazed because I have never been a recipient of this kind of crazy, even after working in restaurants and banks, and I’ve never witnessed it in a store or other public place. Sure, I’ve seen impatience, had some customers be a little rude, but nothing that rises to the level of a NAR story.

    Have you seen or experienced something that could be an anecdote on NAR?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Crazy dramatic nonsense, no, but when I was cashiering at Target I had a lady yell at me when I asked if she wanted her bacon and shrimp bagged together or separately because putting them together was against kosher rules. I pretty much just “Well, ok, sorry, I’m not super familiar with kosher rules, so I’ll separate these and if there’s anything else that has restrictions please let me know.” and kept the “Lady, I’m pretty sure you know even less about kosher rules than I do” firmly internal. :-P

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Well, yes, I know that – that’s why I was taken so aback by her flipping out that putting the two non-kosher items in the same bag would violate kosher rules.

      1. Observer*

        “Lady, I’m pretty sure you know even less about kosher rules than I do” firmly internal. :-P


        I think I would have had a VERY hard time keeping a lid on that.

        I’m curious, why would you even think to ask, though? Keep in mind that I know nothing about either bacon or shrimp handling beyond the very basics – ie the stuff that applies to all meats and seafood.

    2. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      I take those with a grain of salt, myself. I’m sure some of them really happened, but I am dubious that all of them happened. Some of them are too dramatic in a way that boosts the ego of the story teller. And a lot of them are too mundane, from a customer service perspective.

      I worked in food service for like 5 or 6 years. One customer, one time, threw bacon at my manager. It wasn’t crispy enough or something like that. There was other rudeness occasionally, but nothing memorable enough to be a story afterwards. As a whole, I found our customers to be pleasant or at least neutral.

      1. Future*

        Yeah, I agree that a lot of those stories have got to be embellished at the very least, and made up out of whole cloth pretty often too. Not to say they all are, but so many of them follow a sort of dramatic story structure that very rarely happens in real life, with such things as satisfying come-uppances for the misbehaving customer or the writer of the story being the hero, as Elspeth McGillicuddy points out. Not, of course, that real life isn’t sometimes like that! But it’s pretty rare and aren’t we all just dogs on the internet anyway?

        I have had some pretty nasty customers, including one who called me a bitch in front of his children because I didn’t give him the cardboard box I was using. But that’s the entire story.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          They tend to source a lot of the stories from reddit forums, where there might be some truth behind them, but definitely embellished. People certainly can be and are crappy towards service workers, but generally people don’t give long interrupted speeches during disagreements, bystanders don’t break out in spontaneous applause, and there usually isn’t a tidy denouement where the miscreant is publicly humiliated and loses their home/job/spouse while the story teller gets a raise/promotion/date.

          I suspect the shorter, more simply told ones, or the messy, less resolved ones, tend to be closer to reality.

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          Not merely a dramatic story structure, but a suspiciously standard–even formulaic–structure. It is an open question how much of this is outright fiction, how much is real experiences embellished to be more dramatic, and how much is real experiences told by people who lack the writing chops to tell the story without relying on the formula.

          1. londonedit*

            I agree. I had to stop reading because it all got so formulaic, many of the stories were of the ‘and then I said something super witty and everyone clapped’ variety, and no one on that site seems to be able to spell ‘customer’ (it’s always ‘costumer’ and it drives me mad).

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Most customers I dealt with were also fairly nice and well behaved. One time, though, I got in-your-face screamed at by a man at a food service job. Granted, we had messed up his order twice (we fixed it both times with no pushback), but his reaction was a bit outsized. His wife apologized to me after he went to their car — she was really embarrassed. I told her I was sorry for the mix-ups. But it was a little scary for a minute.

        I wonder now if he was just having a REALLY bad day or if this was par for the course. Although it was a long time ago, I hope she was okay.

    3. AnonRN*

      I stopped reading it a while ago because I found it stressful :( Granted, I work in healthcare where the emotions and the stakes might be higher than a trip to Target or Five Guys, but yes, humans can be astoundingly persnickety, ill-informed, racist, sexist or inappropriately sexual, violent, and rude at times. Not most of them and not most of the time, but in general I’d believe the stories because of some of the things I’ve experienced both from patients and family members.

      1. Malarkey01*

        One of my resolutions has been to stop reading those and Reddit AITA and public meltdowns. I realized they make me feel bad (and angry, and self righteous and anxious depending on the story) and they also were leading me to subconsciously think that these things were happening way more than they really are and made me more negative about the world.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I was talking with my son about how social media ramps up drama, in a way you would find extremely unpleasant for actual human interaction. The outrage that draws clicks would be far too exhausting, one note, and obviously performative if all those redditors climbed into the same physical coffee shop to talk things over in person.

        2. Elle Woods*

          I’m with you. When I first stumbled upon AITA I thought it was amusing. Then I read one too many and realized the impact it was having on my mood. I rarely, if ever, stop by that forum anymore and deleted the app from my phone & tablet too.

        3. Chauncy Gardener*

          That’s one of my resolutions too, for the very same reason.
          It’s like brain pollution.

        4. londonedit*

          I’m the same with Instagram comments. The compulsion to read the comments on a post just because you know there will be total numpties on there…I don’t know what itch it scratches (a feeling of superiority? Just wanting to be riled up by idiots on the internet?) but it can’t be healthy and yet I find myself doing it!

    4. WS*

      Oh yes. I had to ban an elderly male customer for sexually harassing an 18-year-old employee. He offered to apologise, I was suspicious and witnessed the apology, which was him yelling at her for complaining, after which he was banned. He then decided that I personally was the problem, because he was “just joking”. He then tried to sue me (personally) and would regularly follow me up and down the street screaming abuse from his car. He tried to get the rest of the old men in town to boycott the store (they didn’t) and to say it was all just a joke that anyone would say (they didn’t). Then his wife died and it turned out that he was also vile to his children and none of them would allow him to live with them even though he threatened to “cut them out of the will”, so he moved away. Hooray!

      And then there was all the pandemic behaviour, which is another and much worse story entirely.

    5. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      I’ve contributed at least one post to Not Always Right.

      At a former retail job I had a customer call and complain to my manager that I was off that day. My manager was incredulous and bluntly told the woman that I was allowed days off and shut her down.

      Another customer called on a different day off, and when my colleague said I wasn’t in she demanded my personal phone number so she could call me on that instead. My colleague obviously refused. The customer called the next day and it transpired that all she wanted to do was clear the balance on her order. She could have done that with any of my colleagues, and it was something that would have been impossible to do on my day off, as I had neither remote access to the order system, nor a card machine to process the payment!

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Oh, I forgot the incident at a different workplace that’s so ridiculous that it really sounds made up.

        We had cages in an aisle as we were restocking. I asked a customer to walk a couple of extra feet around a shelving unit rather than trying to squeeze past the cage. That was the whole request. He completely flipped out and threatened to throw a brick through the window and come back later and set the building on fire.

    6. Queer Earthling*

      When I was a cashier at a chain grocery store a few years ago, I had a customer snap that she was going to “punch [me] right in [my] little glasses.” Because I had politely asked her to put her soda on the conveyor belt so I could scan it. So, y’know, at least it was a good reason.

      (Also there was no manager or anyone else anywhere that I could find, so I wound up just dealing with it.)

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

      My son and I went to Golden Corral for dinner after Peepsfest (his idea, yuck). A large group had a bunch of tables moved together and my son and I returned with a plate of food our chairs were appropriated.

      I loudly said, “Where the hell are my chairs?” The chair stealers were laughing as were the plate runners who helped assemble the tables.

      One of the members of the group commented, “I guess your white privilege ain’t helping you now.”

      I did not realize the restaurant manager had heard the commotion and was behind me and she said, “Sir, Let’s find you another table and let me comp your dinners.

      I really wanted to go viral on Tik-Tok, but common sense prevailed and the rest of the night was uneventful.

    8. Forrest Rhodes*

      I enjoy NAR, but don’t read every entry every day. Favorite categories are Legal; Popular, to see what items are new; and Inspirational—the one about the rainbow pizza for the little girl in hospital gets me every time.

      And yeah, you’re right, many of the tales are probably exaggerated and some are probably total fiction. The item I submitted, though, was absolutely true and still makes me laugh at the absurd way things played out.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      We had someone call in and say not taking cash for deliveries meant we were “the type of people who supported slavery.” They said this to my manager who is a POC.

      It didn’t end well for that customer.

    10. RussianInTexas*

      I work in the customer service, although wholesale, not face to face. I can recount 3 ridiculous incidents from the top of my head.
      1. 2020. The beginning of the lockdowns. The largest customer, 30% of the company’s revenue at that point. The CEO of a large retail company (you would know the name), called my boss, and screamed and cursed at him for half an hour because we could no magically fix the supply chain and get his stuff in port faster. Given who he was, we all set and took it.
      2. A non-contractual customer called me 3 afternoons in row, drunk, complaining we don’t have product for him while we have it for the contractual customers. Called me mija, dear, claimed I personally hated him for some reason, because I wouldn’t sell him products we didn’t have in stock. According to my colleagues, he wasn’t the only drunk dialer to the company. No wise-a$$ comeback from me, sadly. He is still my customer.
      3. The customer called the company’s owner to complain the accounting put a hold on his account for non payments. Claimed that he knows the company is in dire straits, otherwise we wouldn’t be needing his payment that much.

      1. Observer*

        Claimed that he knows the company is in dire straits, otherwise we wouldn’t be needing his payment that much.

        That is hysterically funny. How did the owner respond? Because in the moment, I think I would have been to dumbfounded to respond coherently.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          The owner pointed out that when you go to Target, you have to pay right away, and it doesn’t mean Target is about to collapse.
          And then the customer was switched to the prepaid model of payment for some time period.

    11. The OG Sleepless*

      Almost 30 years ago at my first job as a veterinarian, I had just left an exam room after an appointment, and one of the longtime managers said to another, “That’s that guy that pushed Dr. X into a wall that time.”

      Uh, WHAT?

      Oh, yeah, they told me. A few years earlier, the client had gotten mad enough at the vet (a young woman, like me at the time) to grab her by the lapels and push her into the wall, yelling. They had come in and thrown the guy out. They did not do any of the following: call the police; tell the guy to never ever darken their door again; or f*cking WARN ME before I went into a small room with him by myself. God, that practice.

    12. Jackalope*

      As someone who worked in customer service, I 100% believe that many if not most of the stories are true. I loved my job, and would say that around 75% of my customers were great, and another 24.5% were a bit trickier but fine. But it was that last 0.5% that was rough. A very small percentage of people, but when you’re helping hundreds of customers per week it adds up.

  15. MIL problems*

    I feel burnt out in dealing with my MIL. She’s overall very sweet and it’s not like she did anything egregiously rude or thoughtless. But she crosses boundaries over small issues and there have been many trivial incidents that have built up over time. For example, she has set ideas on how one should fold towels. If I deviate from it she gets extremely upset and insistent that I follow Her Way, even when we are at my house. Or if I mention I’m going to see a movie next weekend she will say I should watch X, then when I say I’m actually watching Y she says X is better than Y then endlessly insists that I watch X instead. She doesn’t react well to disagreements and has the tendency to talk over me if I express even slight opposition. She only ever does this with silly, minor things and is otherwise super respectful.

    I’m struggling to articulate why my gut reaction to seeing my MIL nowadays is “ugh”. I love her and care for her and feel guilty for feeling this way. Anyone else experience something similar? How did it turn out for you?

    1. FashionablyEvil*

      I mean, I’d feel “ugh” about someone who nitpicked how I fold my towels. (Jesus Christ, find a hobby!)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Me too. If you don’t live in my house and use said towels, your folding methods are your own. In YOUR house. Where I am not.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      That sounds miserable so your gut reaction makes sense!

      The folding towels thing is weird because it’s pretty normal to have your own style based on what fits in your storage space. The movie thing would drive me crazy, why should you not see the movie YOU WANT TO SEE -_-

      Sounds like it’s time to just really cheerfully refuse to engage? She can’t talk over you or react to a disagreement if there isn’t one.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly! The reasons people do the things the way they do usually evolves from their environment! I fold towels the way I do so they fit in our narrow-ass linen cupboard. We store our cookbooks amidst our cooking magazines to keep them upright in the mini-bookshelf. We keep bags of chips up on top of the cupboards in the kitchen so Peanut cat doesn’t chew on the bag.

        It’s one thing to have to learn how to do something (everybody’s had to learn how to fold laundry or do dishes at some point.) It’s another to decide a grown adult doesn’t know how to run their own house.

    3. JaneDough(not)*

      What is your hub’s strategy for dealing with her? And, do you have a SIL or BIL whom you can ask, “How do you deal with this?”

      The only thing I can suggest is to remember that ignoring her and smiling sweetly is a good deed, and that good deeds are good for both do-er and recipient. (This isn’t exactly parallel, but I recently took an Uber with a driver who annoyed me by talking on his phone the whole trip; I reminded myself not to complain, or cut his rating or tip, bc I wanted to extend to him the patience and kindness that many people have extended to me when *I’ve* been annoying but didn’t realize it …)

      Good luck with this.

      1. Zelda*

        A driver on his phone isn’t merely annoying; he’s unsafe! You’d be doing a public service by reporting that.

    4. Aaaargh*

      Oh no. Honestly it sounds like a friend of mine, who I finally realized is controlling not because she’s evil but because she’s anxious. The more “order” of her own brand she can impose on the world, the safer she feels. Yes, it’s unbelievably annoying and drives people away. Therapy for anxiety/fear has helped her some. In the meantime I try to practice compassion instead of being angry (“poor Sue, that she’s so afraid in the world all the time that she acts like this). But DAMN it’s really hard and sometimes I just duck talking to her. Good luck.

    5. Pennyworth*

      This probably won’t help you, but my first reaction to her only boundary crossing on ‘silly, minor things’ was that she sounds like someone who doesn’t get to make major decisions in her own home, so is fixated on the little things. My controlling ex used to make all the major decisions (holidays, how we would spend the weekend, spending money) and would only include me if it was something he didn’t care about. I became obsessive about loading the dishwasher ‘my way’ and even used to do it when visiting.

    6. Sloanicota*

      When I find myself making lists of the ways someone is annoying me, sometimes that just means I need to take a break from someone and let myself miss them again. How often do you see this MIL and can there be a no-fault reason a month passes before you see her again? I’m surprised at how often this makes a big difference for me.

    7. Emma*

      How does your partner play into this?

      And she sounds (to me, casual internet observer) like their could possibly be some neurodivergence at play. If that’s the case, it won’t make it easier to deal with her, but might be helpful to be like “oh, this isn’t personal.”

      1. Zephy*

        Oh, I’d say it’s almost a guarantee that MIL is like this all the time and the OP isn’t the problem. People who are Like This are just Like This and it’s 100% to do with them and no one else. “Okay!” and a subject change is the only real way forward, because no one will actually die if the towels are folded one way or the other.

      2. Observer*

        And she sounds (to me, casual internet observer) like their could possibly be some neurodivergence at play.

        Honestly, I think it’s unlikely. And I think it does a dis-service to neurodivergent people to jump to that every time someone behaves in a problematic way.

        Sure, it could be anxiety, it could be lack of control in her own life, it could be a lot of things. It could also be that she’s just a nit-picky person or a control freak for other reasons. And none of that really matters.

        might be helpful to be like “oh, this isn’t personal.”

        Sure, but the OP should recognize that anyway. This is not about what the OP does, but totally about the MIL. So it’s not personal, no matter what’s going on with MIL.

    8. Not A Manager*

      I have a friend who’s a little bit like this. She used to drive me bananas. Now she almost never does, and it’s not because she’s changed. It’s just because now I hear her differently. In her case, I think she’s so controlling because she feels very responsible for other people’s good experience. When she insists that I have a glass of wine that I don’t want, or that I MUST make a dinner reservation (for other people, at a meal she’s not coming to) at one particular restaurant, it’s because she wants me to have the best possible experience and she just can’t imagine that I might not enjoy something that she enjoys. I’m not saying your MIL is like this, just that for me, once I could read her officiousness as loving rather than controlling, it made it easier for me to take.

      What I do is, I mostly give way to her about little things. If she wants to pour me a glass of wine, I just take it and don’t drink it. She almost never notices, and when she does I say something like, “I’m working on it!” or “You know I’m a lightweight.” When she insists that I must eat at one particular restaurant, I agree with everything except that I’m going to make the reservation there. “Wow, that sounds amazing. What’s their signature dish? Oh yes, that’s my favorite too.” I just don’t draw attention to the fact that I’m not going there next Tuesday.

      Anyway, maybe something like that could distract your MIL. “Yes, you always fold the towels so neatly. I like how they make an exact 1/3 package. They fit so nicely on your shelves…. Oh? Ah, I can’t actually re-fold mine right now, but thanks so much for reminding me about how to do it.” Sometimes I make a small game of it in my own mind, how to tell her she’s right in as many ways as possible without actually committing to doing the thing. I know that makes me sound catty, but I do love my friend. Sometimes I just tell her that I love how much it matters to her that I’m happy and comfortable.

      1. Double A*

        This is so kind! I was thinking of also “putting things on your list” when MIL recommends them. Especially if it’s something like a movie. “Oh, I’m committed to seeing X this weekend but Y sounds good! I’ll put it on my list to see.” And sometimes, if Y seems at all good…follow up and watch Y and let her know what you think!

        For something like towels, you could have a couple responses. 1) That does seem like a good idea, I’ll try it next time or 2) (lightheadedly) MIL, I know you know we’re all committed to our own correct way of folding towels and I cannot change! But your towels do indeed look lovely.

        My mom is a little bit like this though she doesn’t push past a suggestion. I also know she’s like me and is constantly looking for ways to optimize and it pains her to seem me doing something that is less than optimal. She was a stay at home mom, so this was her job her whole life and it’s one you never really get to retire from. So really she’s giving me professional advice because she’s is an expert ont her field. I think a decent amount of Boomer women who were SAHMs have this tendency. I think it’s also nice to honor their expertise in their field when you can, because society doesn’t give it much respect.

        1. the cat's ass*

          Double A, you are the sort of kind i aspire to! What a lovely generous and compassionate way to reframe!

    9. Rainy*

      Grey rock is the way. Don’t argue with her, don’t justify your choices, be super boring. If she keeps at you, physically leave the space. But the best thing you can do for yourself is stop worrying if she gets upset or insistent about stuff. It sounds like you are worried about her having a good experience or feeling appreciated or something, and you have to stop that. If she gets upset about something that has nothing to do with her, that’s a her problem, not a you problem. She’s having a bad experience because she’s created an environment where the only experience she can have is a bad one.

      For the record, someone who crosses boundaries and orders you around nonstop is in fact being rude and inconsiderate.

    10. Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds*

      My own MIL is very much like this. When we were first married, she’d call every day to have long cozy chats that inevitably included tons of unwanted advice.
      One day she asked ‘What were you doing before I called? ” I answered, “Just folding a load of whites. ” She then proceeded to tell me how to get the whitest whites, what was the best type of detergent (an MLM brand she sold), and finished that particular unsolicited advice with “Remember, your hubby likes his briefs folded ‘crotch to the waistband, then in thirds “.

      It’s been 43 years of tolerating her nonsense and, unsurprisingly I am LC with her. During our last conversation a month ago, she lectured You Kids for buying snow tires due to the impracticality, including cost to install and remove and space to store them. Nevermind that my husband has a round trip commute of over 110km daily and we are all located in a city in Canada where the temperature has warmed up to -34C today.

      I like knowing my dear husband is driving safely in extreme conditions while wearing properly folded underwear.

      I’m LC now and have been NC for years-long stretches in the past. My husband has a close relationship to her but he was raised with that nonsense and, when he does notice it, just shrugs it off. I wish I’d known how to grey rock from the very beginning.

    11. Melissa*

      Haha my mum does this and it’s very frustrating! If you’re not doing things her way, obviously you’re wrong. Something I do that makes it fun for me and annoying enough for her that she stops pushing the issue is to tell her I like it wrong. “Don’t fold your towels like that, they look better my way” gets the response “I like my towels ugly”. “Don’t see movie Y, it’s got bad reviews” = “I like bad movies”. “Why don’t I help clean up your kitchen, you’ll get ants otherwise” = “I want ants”. I enjoy being ridiculous and she has nothing to argue against (“you don’t wants ants” = a silent shrug or a long, BS explanation about why I do want ants). Works a charm! Good luck

    12. Observer*

      I’m struggling to articulate why my gut reaction to seeing my MIL nowadays is “ugh”.

      As the others have said, it’s pretty clear why it’s your reaction. No reasonable person likes to be nit-picked all the time. What I would ask is why you don’t seem to see that this is a very normal expectable reason to react poorly to someone?

      Having said that, is there any reason you really have to engage in these conversations?

      Take the movie thing, why do you have to discuss this with her. You say “I’m going to see a movie this weekend” she says “Oh! How To Train a Dragon is Great and you should really go see that!” Why do you have to tell that you are actually going to see “The Snowblowers At The End of the World”? And if you do mention it because, well, conversation, you still don’t need to argue about it if (or when) she informs you that HER choice is Definitively Better ™. Just “I hear you. What are you having for dinner?” or some other variation on “bean dipping”.

      As for things like the towels, why is she even inspecting how you fold your towels? I would definitely try to figure out a way to keep her out of this stuff.

  16. Brevity*

    My own mom did a lot of this. The key is letting go. When you tell her you’re going to movie X, and she insists you see movie Y, you can just say, “okay.” Then go see movie X. In situations like folding towels, what I would do is just not fold towels in front of her. For some reason, she is insecure enough that she has to set up these little arguments and WIN. So let her. She gets to win, for whatever little petty thrill she gets out of it, and you have peace.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I do this with both my parents (my mom now, my dad before he passed.) Both of them have a tendency to latch onto “things you’re good at” and spin out a fantasy career based on whatever it is, no matter how impractical it would be in real life or how talented I actually am at any one thing.

      I think it’s because both of them had lives that didn’t lend themselves too much to “following your crazy little star” options–both of them had dreams that went unfulfilled and not a lot of chances to do stuff they may have wanted to do. So they wanted to make sure their kids don’t miss out on those opportunities.

      When my mom decides I should make little clay animals and go sit in the local mall with a card table to sell them I just do the “hmmm! interesting idea!” spiel and let her ramble on about it. It’s never going to happen, but hey, if she wants to come up with these schemes, they’re harmless and she likes to be listened to.

  17. the mortifying ordeal of wanting to know someone*

    Hello! I posted two weeks ago with a question about how to re-meet a curator who I’d spoken with at a holiday museum event who I thought was cool, without being weird or making her uncomfortable. Several people asked to hear how it went, so I’m here with an update.

    More of a non-update. I emailed the museum’s “info” email address, as several people suggested. I didn’t directly ask to be put in touch with the curator, because I thought if I asked that and then also showed up at the hobby group, which is held at the museum, that could make her uncomfortable. So in my email I enthusiastically complimented the exhibit, mentioned I’d had a fascinating conversation with the curator, and asked one question that I thought only the curator would know the answer to. I received a reply to my question from the curator’s boss! So I’m not sure if my message was sent on to the curator or not. Hopefully it at least got her some professional kudos.

    I’m still planning to attend the hobby group (after thinking about it at commenters’ prompting, I decided I really do want to go, curator aside), but the meeting this month has been cancelled, so chances at a coincidental second meeting will have to wait till February.

    Thanks to everyone for your advice and encouragement!! This was a fun little experience, even if it (so far) went nowhere.

    1. 248_Ballerinas*

      I’m glad you are going to the hobby group meeting. You will likely meet other interesting people there.

    2. Tinamedte*

      Thanks for taking the time to post an update! Nice move with the email. I hope that you enjoy the group and that you still get to meet the curator again. Good luck!

  18. ADHD and budgeting resources*

    I have friends with a young adult child navigating their way through an ADHD diagnosis. The parents are especially interested in helping their offspring with budgeting resources and ideas that might be helpful. The young adult is seeing a counselor, but sometimes uses this diagnosis as an excuse “I can’t budget because I’m ADHD” rather than leaning into discovering ways to manage budgeting in light of this diagnosis. I wondered if the AAM hive would have some resources I can share. Thanks.

    1. Ochre*

      Okay I don’t have kids or ADHD but “budgeting” was a very nebulous topic to me as a young person (an organized and neurotypical but somewhat sheltered young person). As an older teen I didn’t really have expenses per se, just small jobs and stuff I wanted to buy. After college I rented from a friend who paid the utilities so all I had to worry about was rent and my own expenses (car, food, fun). Then I got my own apartment and needed to figure out utilities and insurance and stuff, then started saving up for bigger purchases, etc… But I didn’t, like, know about these things in advance, I just had to figure them out. I guess I’m saying there’s a distinction between “what even is a budget?” and “how do I, with my own personal situation, learn to budget?” Personal budgeting can also be very frustrating when it feels like the goalposts move (landlord raised the rent! insurance went up! unexpected car repair!).

      So partly I’m wondering if the issue is that budgeting is hard for everyone AND uniquely hard for this young person (so many rules, so many potential consequences, so much judgment if you don’t do it the “right” way). The young person also needs to be willing to accept the parents’ help in this matter. But identifying the best resources might require parsing out the problem a little more specifically.

    2. miel*

      Hmm, is the young adult interested in learning budgeting? Are they actively having money problems, or do the parents just think they would benefit from being very structured about money management?

      I am a youngish adult and have quite a few neurodivergent friends/family. A few observations:
      – different people have very different money management strategies. “I automatically send $x per paycheck to savings so I don’t even think about spending it, my bills are on autopay, and the rest of my money covers my needs” is a perfectly valid strategy, in my opinion. “I have a very detailed spreadsheet” is valid too.
      – parents enforcing their own money ideas on adult offspring is often a huge recipe for stress and strife.
      – if the young adult wants to get their finances in order, they could definitely seek out different strategies! Additude magazine (online) has some articles about budgeting, as a starting point.
      – KISS – keep it super simple. It’s likely that the goal is “pay bills on time and make sure to save a little.” This can be accomplished lots of ways and shouldn’t require anything fancy.

    3. Qwerty*

      This might be partly just a phase the adult child goes through as they wade through the mess of the internet. For every good post that I find about ADHD, there are a dozen more encouraging a more helpless mentality. Plus you’ve got someone at an age which is already hard – budgetting is a common compliant with young adults – trying to navigate a new diagnosis on top of it.

      One thing with ADHD is that its easy to get overwhelmed and for something to feel too big. So for budgeting, they might be thinking of it as “researching financial stuff, creating a budget, following it daily, doing lots of paperwork, investing properly, etc” and need helping breaking it down into Step 1: write down your current expenses and income.

      The most important things my parents do to support me:

      1) Help me get started and just take the first step. My mom is my crutch – if I can’t get myself to start something, I call her and tell her what I’m overwhelmed with and she’ll suggest some small 30sec task that I can usually even do while on the phone with her. Once I start, I automatically keep going.

      2) Periodically help get me back to baseline. When I move into an apartment, they help me set it up in a way that its easy for me to have good systems (and matches their place, so if I call and say “I’m so stupid, I lost X, I have no idea where it would be” my mom can usually guess that wackadoo place where I put it. Or come over once a year to help me switch over my closet and declutter everything so its back to being manageable again.

    4. Rainy*

      ADHD doesn’t absolve us from the many requirements of life that are annoying, difficult, or tedious. Budgeting might be harder for this person, they might need to find ways to mitigate the difficulty, and they may need to have coping strategies in place that make it easier for them to stick to their budget, but ADHD is not a get out of adulting free card. As someone who has ADHD and was diagnosed recently in her late 40s (and the same year her husband was diagnosed!), I get kind of annoyed when people try to blame ADHD for their own disinclination to do boring, repetitive, or emotionally unrewarding tasks.

      I’m sure the ADHD diagnosis is jarring–it certainly was for me, in ways both good and bad–but using it as an excuse like this is not constructive for anyone involved.

      1. Rainy*

        Because I cannot edit…I wrote this comment and then read a few others, and I think that I too want to know what your friends are defining as “budgeting” and whether the young person is actually budgeting just fine (income exceeds outlay, contingencies are planned for, etc) but not the way your friends want them to?

        The excuse part of this is still a bit annoying, but is it possible the young person is having the normative experience for someone at their age and life stage and your friends are reacting to the recent dx with inappropriate levels of anxiety that they’re attempting to displace onto their kid?

  19. HannahS*

    Fellow parents: anyone happy with how they curate and/or store their children’s toys and books? We live in a small apartment and we are due for a major decluttering and reorganization. If I don’t rigorously keep the “stuff’ in check, my toddler can’t play because there’s no floor space. What are your tips and tricks for deciding what to keep and what to get rid of?

    My first step was to tell my parents and extended family that no one is allowed to by us toys or books until my toddler’s next birthday…which is in 9 months. We’ll see how long everyone can resist. My in-laws are (lovingly) the worst for giving us huge bulky gifts that go straight to being stored (and played with) in my parents’ basement.

    1. Melissa*

      My apartment is also small and my extended family are constant gift givers! I’ve started suggesting single use/tiny presents for my family to get for my child, like kid jewellery, stickers, food, art supplies that get used up, or things she needs but finds fun like bigger swimmers. We have one of those IKEA cube bookshelfs sideways as a TV stand, and all my kids stuff goes in 8 boxes in the cubes. It fits a lot and it’s so easy to pack away. Our rule is one big toy out at a time (if you want the dollshouse out, we need to put the Lego away). My kid loves to dance and do handstands so our priority is floor space!

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m still fighting the “stop giving us stuff between birthdays/Christmas” battle, sigh. Oldest is almost nine.

      1) Bins. I had the IKEA toy storage system with colorful bins that slide into and it wasn’t great. The bins became toys and the toys stayed on the floor a lot of the time. What worked best overall was sturdy bins on a regular bookshelf… I got some that are NOT cute and plastic so the kids couldn’t sit in/on them.

      2) Swap toys out! I have a big Rubbermaid bin full of toys and the kids get to trade toys once a month – makes old toys feel new again because they’re not constantly out in the open, but they have to put something in to take something out. With a younger kid you can just sneak things through the rotation whenever you want, rather than the kid choosing.

    3. Ellie*

      We have 3 kids and a smallish house. And very generous families. My first tip is to be constantly assessing what kids play with and donate or pass along toys they’re done with. If my kids get toys on Christmas that I know won’t be a long-term item for them (doesn’t align with interests or they’ve had a similar one before), I don’t open them and donate them or regift them later. If they get new books, I pick some less-beloved books to pass on. I do a toy purge before each birthday and Christmas. It seems to help us not feel totally overwhelmed. Also just making sure to toss any broken toys, move around/”re-stage” toys to help them get played with, and rotating toys helps too. It feels like a constant battle that we can’t ease up on or else we’re losing!

    4. Mostly Managing*

      I’m not in that stage any more (youngest is about to turn 14!) but with 4 kids in a small space it was an issue for years!
      Things that helped:
      – limiting “gift giving” to Christmas and birthdays, as you are (but that doesn’t always work!)
      – feeling free to pass on things that didn’t appeal to my kids. just because someone gave it to you doesn’t mean you have to keep it
      – keep toys that have multiple uses, pass on (to thrift store?) things that can only be played with the “right” way. We kept blocks, train tracks, lego, art supplies, and dress up clothes more or less forever. Things with batteries were high on the “give away list”.
      – encouraging “experience gifts” – swim passes, zoo passes, art gallery or kids museum memberships, you know what is in your area that would be fun to take the kids to. For many years, we rotated annually between the science museum, historic “village”, zoo, and art gallery. By the time we went back to the museum the kids were 4 years older and saw it through new eyes. Grandparents were thrilled to have an “easy” gift idea, and sometimes came with us

    5. Perpetua*

      This will really depend on the relationships and on how willing the grandparents and family are to follow instructions, but in our case, we made it pretty clear from the very beginning that we are pretty particular about the types and quality and quantity of toys we wanted to have for our daughter, and we also live in a very small space which really makes it a necessity to try and be as minimalistic as possible. So I think that clear communication and boundaries go a long way, both on this topic and in general.

      We as parents rarely get her books or toys aside from Christmas and birthday, and even then we keep things fairly small, she’ll basically never get more than 2-3 gifts from us, if that. She’s turning 4 soon, and for past three birthdays we actually didn’t get her anything “from us” for her birthdays, because we always had a group of friends get her a joint gift, something bigger/more expensive, that we asked for. And we figured it really wouldn’t make a difference to her if she had designated gifts from us as parents, from friends, etc. That way, we got to acquire some of the things we really wanted for her (a Pikler triangle, Connetix magnetic tiles, Yoto Mini…) AND reduce the overall amount of things coming in.

      So that’s one of my suggestions, if parents and family are willing, for them to chip in together for some things that you can plan for, instead of getting a bunch of smaller things.

      Other than that, I think that one of the best solutions is what you’re already doing – if they give a big gift, it stays in their home.

      We also try to make as much use of the library as we can, and only get books for home that we really really love over time. (This will be made more difficult because we’re moving to a another-language-speaking country very soon, so we won’t have access to library books in our native language and I’m already feeling the FOMO and the desire to get ALL the books now. :P ).

    6. Thunder Kitten*

      My oldest’s birthday is a month apart from Xmas and she was the only grandchild / nibling Thing1 was only grandchild/nibling on both sides of family for many years. On Xmas / birthdays she would be allowed to unwrap all the gifts, but was allowed to only open one up to play with that day. The rest were in a closet to be opened through the year or donated / regifted if they were unused by the next holiday season. Now there are a lot more cousins and all the parents know how annoying clutter is (and a lot more passing things down/around). Also thing1 is a tween (noone knows what to get them any more), so it’s gotten better.

  20. Tipping an Instacart Driver*

    I get groceries delivered bc I’m immunocompromised; I’m on a tight budget and spend about $6/day on food. Unfortunately, my nearby grocery chain recently changed from using its own delivery fleet (with delivery fees ranging from $0 to $6, depending on when your delivery occurred) to using Instacart — flat fee of $10. This is screwing me up, because in the past I almost always chose a free-delivery slot.

    I can’t not tip — just can’t. I’ve been tipping 10% of the total order, which is usually about $80 — but that adds $18 every two weeks, and I can’t afford that. I know that the Insta driver gets about $4.75 of that $10 fee, and it takes relatively little time to drive the 1.1 mi to my home from the store, BUT it takes time to walk to groceries from the street to the inside courtyard where I live. How much can I cut my $8 tip and not feel like a complete schidt? After all, that $4.75 also has to cover their time, gas, wear and tear on car …

    I hate this. I just hate this. Delivery isn’t a luxury for me, it’s a necessity — and at the same time I don’t want to screw over someone else who is struggling bc *I’m* struggling. Thanks for your help.

    1. anon1*

      does your store offer curbside pickup? this could be an option that doesn’t involve tipping, assuming you have a car and the capability to bring your own groceries inside once you get home. many stores will allow you to pull up and someone comes out and places your groceries in your trunk for you, no contact required.

      1. Venus*

        I don’t drive and have done curbside pickup where they brought it to the parking spot and I picked it up and walked it home.

        1. Tipping an Instacart Driver*

          I’ve done curbside in the past, and I prefer it bc then my tip goes to the person who gathered my groceries. Unfortunately, I’m too sick to drive or walk right now, and no one local can help me. Thank you, though.

          1. RMK*

            Do you mean that there aren’t local friends or family that can help Can you find some mutual aid, nextdoor, or community service groups for a volunteer to pick up your curbside order? I’m in a big city and there are definitely people who will volunteer or willingly do this for a random neighbor who posts looking for help. Then your stuff is delivered by someone who’s actively wanting to help for free.

      2. Sandals*

        But it’s still gracious to to tip the person who did the shopping. The difference in delivery and curbside is that the latter doesn’t carry a delivery fee.

    2. Sloanicota*

      You’ve probably already thought about making fewer, bigger orders so you’re doing the $10 fee every third week instead of $6 every other week … maybe if you could ask a neighbor to pick up just one thing for you that you need fresher or more often? Could you drop or downgrade an item every other week to make up the amount in tips (or just find another source for it, AKA part of a free delivery Amazon shipment instead)?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          This might be a long term idea–setting up a relative or offshoot of Meals on Wheels that does grocery drop off! Not helpful right here, but it’s something to think about.

      1. Tipping an Instacart Driver*

        Can’t do every third week — not enough fridge and freezer space. I buy some non-perishables from Target, but they use insufficient packing materials and something always breaks. (Target will issue a refund, but the whole process is a hassle.) I won’t shop at Amazon — some of the worst labor practices in the country.

        Unfortunately, my support system isn’t local (my job required nights and weekends for many years, and my relationships thinned except for a few longtime college friends), so no one can step in.

        Thanks for your suggestions, tho.

    3. Come On Eileen*

      An Instacart subscription might lower your fees in general – I pay $10 a month for unlimited deliveries. I also generally add a flat $5 tip for groceries. Not sure if that’s helpful, but I’ve always had a good experience with Instacart delivery people.

    4. Jay*

      Do any local organizations offer this kind of service?
      I live in a building that used to house quite a few seniors (tragically, Covid cut those numbers down significantly).
      Several of them received assistance from local groups, often church or club related.
      I believe there were state/local services, as well, if they qualified.
      Some just had an arrangement with a younger, or just healthier, person in the building who would pick up the seniors’ groceries along with their own and drop them off.

    5. Not A Manager*

      So I’m sure you know this, but a lot of the grocery shopping/delivery apps have a yearly membership that offers free delivery for orders over a certain amount. In my area it’s over $35. Would that work out better for you and allow you to tip the way you’d like to?

    6. WellRed*

      Can you find a place that offers curbside pickup? Mine offers it, it’s free on orders over $30 and tipping is not encouraged.

    7. TippingWithInstacart*

      Instacart doesn’t support tipping in the app and still requires contact-free delivery (which I can’t use because of disability) – how are you tipping?

      1. nnn*

        Could this be regional? I use Instacart all the time and you can tip in the app either before or after delivery and it doesn’t require contact-free delivery (although I don’t think they’ll come in your house if you need them to bring the bags inside for you).

        1. TippingWithInstacart*

          maybe? none of the delivery services have a tipping option here – Amazon Fresh used to have one but it disappeared a while ago (I suspect this was a bug, and I haven’t used the service much since they jacked up the delivery fees). They all still require contactless delivery too. A friend of mine is doing a grocery pickup for me every 2-3 weeks and bringing it to me (he’s been amazing!). If I had something workable (Amazon Prime kinda sorta works but only for non-perishables, light loads, and only sometimes – and getting refunds from them is insanely difficult when there’s an issue) I’d use it in a heartbeat to spare him.

          FWIW, I’m in metro Boston.

          1. TippingWithInstacart*

            it’s expected for any delivery, and sometimes keeping up with expectations. Several years before the pandemic I had an issue with a grubhub delivery (restaurant delivery service) and got yelled at that I got what I deserved because I was a lousy tipper. Needless to say I didn’t order from them again (they apparently expected at least a $5 tip even for $8-10 orders which was insane IMO).

            1. TippingWithInstacart*

              one of my replies appears to be missing – the “obviously” comment was a clarification of a previous reply I left

          2. Rosyglasses*

            I mean ; as an Instacart gig worker; I spend upwards of an hour shopping for the groceries, then driving and delivering. Out of a 50 item order I might make $7 so whatever is tipped helps make the money earned at least $10 an hour for my time.

      2. Tipping an Instacart Driver*

        Because this is billed thru my grocery store and not thru Instacart, I can tip electronically via the store’s website before or after delivery. However, I tend to tip cash when the groceries are delivered. Delivery isn’t mandatory-contactless where I live, and I mask up and wash my hands before handing over money.

    8. Runner*

      I would see about signing up for Meals on Wheels and any other food delivery services you might have in your area. People on Nextdoor, local Facebook groups, local Reddit groups will know all the options. If you are seriously ill/disabled and on a tight budget, these services are 100% for you! A food bank might have the capacity for infrequent delivery, maybe they can get you stocked up on non-perishables canned beans/veg, pasta, rice? Anyways, services will help you with doing a less frequent grocery order and having more cash available.

  21. Middle*

    How and when do you tell a new partner that one of your parents is prejudiced against people of their ethnicity?

    1. dark matter baby*

      Does your parent know that your partner is of this ethnicity?
      I’d tell the partner sometime before they met the parent, but I’d be discussing this with the parent right away. Along with: when you meet this person, if you don’t behave, we are out the door immediately, and asking the parent if they think they can hold themselves to that standard. So much of this depends on where your parents live, how often you see them, how new the relationship is, etc. If your partner is of an ethnicity that can evoke prejudice, your parent won’t be the first time they’ve encountered this. (I say this as a minority myself), and when a meeting with your parent is imminent you can have deeper conversations about how much prejudice they can take, and when to leave.

    2. RagingADHD*

      As soon as you’re ready to define the relationship as “partner, rather than “date” or “person I’m sorta seeing sometimes,” or some other more casual connection. Because a partner is being integrated into your life and will therefore presumably meet your family at some point.

      1. Observer*

        I would say a step before that. At the point where you’ve reasonably decided that there is a high chance that this person could become your partner.

        Because this can be a legitimate deal breaker, especially if you don’t have a solid answer to “how are we going to handle this?”

        If they are already a partner? Tell them immediately. This is a big deal and they deserve to know this. Also, they deserve for both of you to figure out how you *as a couple* are going to deal with this.

    3. ecnaseener*

      Well, the ‘how’ should include a plan for how you’ll shield them from that. If it’s “my estranged parent is a bigot, hopefully you’ll never meet them” then ok. If it’s “we’ll be spending every holiday with my parents and I love them but one of them is bigoted against your people” then a much larger discussion is needed. Are you willing to defend your partner against your parent? to call them out for bigotry and not let them wave it off as being “old fashioned?” To set boundaries like “we will leave in the middle of dinner if you don’t stop talking this way” and follow through?

      This can and should be a discussion with your partner, but you need to start off by making it clear that you’re willing to do these things.

    4. Anon for this*

      My partner of 7 months is a PhD student from Iran and I’m a white American. We live in the U.S. You can imagine some of the raised eyebrows he sometimes faces. (Believe it or not, the movie “Not Without My Daughter” has caused him some issues with one or two past partners’ mothers, who were convinced he was going to kidnap their daughters and squirrel them back to Iran with him to live under abuse and oppression.)

      He is consistently one of the kindest, most most pleasant people I have ever met. I’ll be honest that I had the stereotypical Middle Eastern man in the back of my mind and I was on my guard a bit for the first few months hoping he wasn’t going to suddenly turn abusive and controlling. So far, so good. (And of course any person is capable of changing in a bad way if a mask falls, not just people of his ethnicity.)

      Anyway, I don’t know if this will help you because it’s so specific, but after a few months of dating him I addressed all of this head-on with my mother. She lives in a bubble and is also the type to think he was using me for a green card, etc. (Nope, already in the process of getting it before he met me.) I explained in a non-defensive, factual way how well he treated me and that he, like 99% of people from a culture/country with news-making extremists, doesn’t agree with or identify with their actions or beliefs.

      He honestly is used to/expects people’s questions and skepticism and cheerfully takes it in stride.

      1. Anon for this*

        I realized I didn’t quite answer your question. I gave him a heads-up that my mother “might have some questions.” He said he understood and was happy to answer them. YMMV, of course, depending on how severe your parent’s prejudice is and your partner’s capacity to encounter it.

    5. Unkempt Flatware*

      I’m in this exact situation. My male partner is black and my father really likes him but won’t stop saying bigoted things to me in private (not about my partner but about the race he’s part of). I told partner very soon after meeting because I’m very deeply unkind to my father and partner needed context as to why because father is charming and it would seem I was abusing father or something. I don’t allow my father around my partner and never would again. I’d also bar him from meeting our children if we have any.

      1. Observer*

        I told partner very soon after meeting because I’m very deeply unkind to my father and partner needed context as to why

        This is a very important point. If you are low / no contact with your parent over this, they need to be aware of this, because it’s a big deal.

    1. zaracat*

      Party pies with tomato sauce for morning tea at work on Friday, eaten while looking out at a great view across Melbourne, Australia. I enjoy my job, it pays well, and at that moment I was thinking that life doesn’t get much better than that.

    2. Past Lurker*

      We got free donuts on Thursday at the place we don’t talk about on weekends! Our grand boss brought them.

    3. WoodswomanWrites*

      I had oral surgery recently that my neighbors and work colleagues knew about, and I’ve been touched by how many people have reached out to see how my recovery is going (which is going well thankfully).

    4. RLC*

      Four Cedar Waxwings perched in my apple tree during a snowstorm earlier this week. They just look too perfect to be real birds, yet they are. Hope they return with flock of family and friends to eat the very abundant crop of berries in my juniper.

    5. Might Be Spam*

      Found a tin of Christmas cookies that I didn’t know about, so I made hot chocolate. I have two mug warmers going on. One for tea & one for hot chocolate so I can alternate.
      Unfortunately no marshmallows. Just cookies.
      I have trouble with making decisions, so two mug warmers is my way to cope.

    6. Miss Buttons*

      I just had my final chemo infusion two days ago! Now I’ll have 4-5 days of side effect symptoms but after that it is Miss Buttons For The Win! So happy to be done. And last CT scan showed no cancer. Hoping the one next month shows the same. Four weeks of radiation coming up in February, but it is much better tolerated than the chemo. I am hopeful and happy.

      1. Once too Often*

        Re radiation: extra hydration helps. And extra fat in your diet will help the radiated tissue retain more moisture & elasticity.

        Welcome to the survivors’ club!

    7. The Prettiest Curse*

      The stray cat that had been hanging around our street for months has apparently moved in with our next door neighbours. Yay kitty! (I would have tried to get this cat inside myself, but our dog is not a fan of cats.)

      Also, a pair of jeans that I bought last year and had almost stopped wearing because I thought they were too tight are stretchier than I remember and actually fit me fine.

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      We’ve had snow on and off and my younger dog loves to play in it, so watching her out there snuffling around in the snow and then coming back up to the door with snow on her nose makes me happy. Also, she is so popular at her daycare that they called me up on Thursday and said they’d had a cancellation, could she maybe come out to play on Friday? And apparently while she was there on Friday, she taught herself how to open interior doors with the lever handle. Not by accidentally pushing it down with her paws, oh no — my woofapotamus carefully took the lever in her mouth to push it down and out and go say hi to her favorite trainer out in the hallway. I find this super entertaining, at least until she starts practicing on my doors at home. (But she hasn’t shown any inclination to do so yet, I assume because at home the people are on the same side of the doors as she is and she doesn’t have to go through them to get to us, so she doesn’t need to bother.)

    9. Anima*

      Last night I went to the music club “with the boys” (my immediate close friend group somehow is all male; I’m female), and it was a lot like in the times long past. I liked that, simple fun and music so loud one can’t hear their own thought is occasionally quite healing.

    10. Un, Deux, Trois, Cat*

      I am a 6th grade ELA teacher and yesterday a student gave me a cute card with cats on it (because she knows I have cats) and a small box of chocolates with a handwritten note to thank me for helping her to get all As and Bs last quarter!
      I switched to this school last year after 23 years at my previous school and it was a very rough year. This year has been better overall, but I’m still finding my way at the new school, so this was a really special thing that made me feel like I’m making a difference.

    11. Hotdog not dog*

      Our new dog (a husky) got to experience his first snow. (He’s a rescue from the southern US, we’re in the northeast.) He went from “what’s this?” to “OMG, what is this fabulous stuff!” in about 5 seconds. It was so much fun to watch him playing in it!

    12. GoryDetails*

      I have a new back porch! The old one basically crumbled back in September, and the first contractor appointment I could get was for “late October to early November,” but didn’t actually begin until a week ago. But now I can use my kitchen door again, without fear of having the stairs disintegrate!

    13. North Wind*

      I bought an Aerogarden to grow my own watercress, and seeing the little shoots sprout up so quickly has been really joyful. I live in an apartment and this is my first time growing anything from seeds.

      I also have a(n indoor) Meyer Lemon tree being delivered today! I’ve been thinking of getting one for a few years, and finally did it. I love the company I bought from – they have a ton of information on exactly how to care for it, have a 3 year warranty, and were very careful about shipping in cold weather. They check the weather along the delivery route and only deliver if temps will remain above a certain number. I’m already thinking about buying an orange tree, but will first wait and see how things go with the lemon tree.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Congrats on the Aerogarden! I love mine, both for the light in winter and for the results; I have one producing a handsome crop of mixed lettuces, and two other smaller ones with stocks and moss roses in full bloom.

        Hope the Meyer Lemon tree goes well – I’ve considered getting a small fruit tree myself but don’t have a lot of spare space indoors…

        1. North Wind*

          Oh that’s lovely!

          I have already bought a second unit :). The first one is all watercress. The second one (9 pods) – I’m putting in buttercrunch lettuce and collard greens – going to try to use the leaves as wraps for lunch. And I’ll also put in a few herbs. I’m thinking to leave a few pods empty as spacers, but we’ll see.

    14. Blythe*

      I have a student this year I really like— and who struggles behaviorally. This week, he received a day of in-school suspension. He asked the admin to give him a brief reprieve so he could come to my 5th period class and he did GREAT. Respectful, engaged, etc. My joy comes from not only his success, but especially because this seems to indicate that he knows I like and respect him— which is the most important thing to me.

      1. Bookworm in Stitches*

        That is wonderful! And I’m so glad that admin let him do that, a sign (I hope) that your admin really does try and work with the students.

    15. Cookies For Breakfast*

      New foster cats arrived! They used to be strays, so started out very shy and skittish – very different from the previous house-trained pair. But, it’s not even been a week, and they both already let us pet them (very much on their own terms but with lots of purring), and are very enthusiastic about playtime. One of them even enjoys being picked up. I thought it would take much longer to get to this point.

    16. Elizabeth West*

      My company party happened this week. I was nervous about going, but it was fun! I got to talk to some coworkers I didn’t really know.

    17. goddessoftransitory*

      Reading Magpie Murders and starting Moonflower Murders! Both well written and lots of fun, plus I can feel I’m making progress with The Pile.

    18. carcinization*

      Went to a new-to-us bookstore, not expecting much (I figured I could find something to buy no matter what, but didn’t expect to find anything I was actually looking for), but then found some obscure speculative fiction books that have been on my list for years! So we’ll definitely be back!

    19. Monkey's Paw Manicure*

      Still unpacking from moving, but had an epiphany of where to move some things that transformed them from “Ugh. Where are you supposed to go? Why do I even own you?” to “Oh, this is perfect!”

    20. allathian*

      My mom’s dumb phone stopped working and she bought a smartphone. Today my son installed Whatsapp for her and now we have a family group. This makes sharing photos so much easier!

        1. allathian*

          True, and she may do video calls with my son. I don’t find them necessary because we live a 15-minute drive away, so we tend to see each other at least once a month anyway and I call my mom once a week. I also tend to associate video calls with work rather than my social life.

          I don’t do video calls with my friends, either. I mostly text them on Whatsapp, although my bestie and I usually schedule a phone call about once a month if we haven’t seen each other for a while.

          If my mom had had a smart phone during the pandemic lockdown, I might feel differently.

    21. Might Be Spam*

      My son got rid of my sewing machine and cabinet for me. It was taking up too much space, since it hasn’t worked well for over a year and isn’t worth fixing. I already bought a new/used portable sewing machine to replace it.

      I posted a free futon mattress online and 4 people were interested, which really surprised me. A nice woman came by and picked it up yesterday. I didn’t think anyone would want it without the frame. I had putting it off for over a year and it’s nice to finally be done with it.

  22. meal ideas*

    I’ve agreed to make some meals for a grieving family. The directions have been keto/low carb and also low fatty acid, but legumes(beans/chickpeas) ok. Any meal suggestions?

    1. Professor Plum*

      Meatloaf—just don’t include any breadcrumbs. An egg will help bind the meat together. Include broccoli, Brussels sprouts or a side salad. Just avoid root vegetables like, carrots or potatoes.

      Really any meat + veggies should be fine.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Get a pound or so of ground turkey or beef.
          Finely chop some onions, garlic, celery or green pepper to make about 2/3rd cup. Mix in with one egg, salt, pepper, dried or fresh basil, and a pinch or 2 of nutmeg or Gara masala.
          Form into a loaf shape, bake uncovered for about an hour.
          This is a very basic recipe; you can add finely chopped mushrooms, or spinach. I usually add a few spoonfuls of grated Romano cheese into the mix and sprinkle a good bit in top.

    2. EA*

      Not sure about fatty acids, but I think a hearty chili – veg or not – would work well for this. Maybe butternut squash soup?

    3. Melissa*

      Taco salad is good, it’s just taco seasoning with mince and beans, plus taco veg (lettuce, tomatoes, capsicum) plus guacamole and cheese.

    4. Llama Llama*

      Taco bowls! My favorite has been carnitas as of late and I could the pork in my instapot. I like to use black beans with a good sharp cheese.

  23. Dwight Schrute*

    I watched Saltburn today and just wow. I won’t post any spoilers here, but spoilers may be in comments. what did you think of it?

    1. Maryn*

      I wanted to like Saltburn more than I did. No spoilers ever, but I needed to know why the main character behaved as he did, how he came to need what he needed, and how his personal moral code allowed what it did.

      We got a bit of a hint at the unexpected home visit, but not enough to satisfy me. It aspires to be The Talented Mr. Ripley but fails.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        I wanted more too! but I did thoroughly enjoy it. I thought it was very visually pleasing, and I thought the actors did a great job.

    2. Yuzu*

      Hubs and I were going to watch it last night but after watching the trailer, we thought it looked like a cheesy young adult cult movie. Am I wrong? I really wanted to check it out after reading an overview.

      1. Dwight Schrute*

        the trailer gives absolutely nothing away, and it gets progressively more… interesting, odd, disturbing? I do think it’s worth a watch and I’m still thinking about it days later.

    3. connie*

      At this point, the movie’s been out long enough and there are spoilers all over the internet. I think it’s OK to talk about it freely.

    4. Elle*

      I wanted to like it but couldn’t make it through. I think I needed everyone to be weirder than they were.

  24. Bunny*

    Anyone in the U.S. live in an area where a total solar eclipse happened? I’m curious how many crowds descended upon you and what traffic was like.

    My sister and I want to go see the 2024 eclipse in Arkansas. We’re within driving distance (4 hours). Is there going to be bumper to bumper traffic? We wouldn’t be trying to go to any scenic place or viewing area, or anywhere just off of I40. My goal would be a podunk town with three stoplights similar to the one I live in. I just have no idea what to expect, or if even the nowhere towns off the beaten path are going to be like Superbowl Sunday.

    Getting a room the night before is also an option so we’re already there, but if checkout time is 11 and the eclipse doesn’t start until 2, that leaves us with nowhere to go still. I’m perfectly fine with getting up at 6 am and driving if that’s a feasible option.

    1. Squidhead*

      We had totality in my small city in 2017 and I really didn’t notice anything different! Maybe because literally all I had to do was go out on the front walk to see it. If that’s all you want to do: see it from a safe spot–I’d think you could stay in a town a couple of hours away the night before and then drive to any big public parking lot in the path of totality to watch it. If you want a more scenic experience (photos over a lake or something) or a communal experience (like where people have reserved their campsites or people are offering to let you camp on their private land and offering yoga sessions in the morning) I’ll defer to someone else who has done it! I’ll be in totality very briefly for the next one but might drive an hour or two west to a friend’s for longer duration and if it doesn’t seem like it will be cloudy that day.

      1. Squidhead*

        Should clarify: I “didn’t notice anything different” in the form of news stories about sold-out hotels, crazy traffic locally (we’re on a major interstate), etc. We also didn’t have people swarming through the neighborhood or anything.

    2. Pop*

      We went in 2017 to a town a family member’s ranch in the path of totality, a three hour drive away. Getting home was the real issue because everyone left at once, and all traffic from the somewhat rural region had to go through a small town. Definitely plan for extra traffic (but I think not an impossible amount).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Right after the 2017 eclipse (which I watched from a llama farm in Oregon renting out space in their fields) navigation apps failed as too many people in one spot tried to leave at the same time. Know how to set off without a phone telling you which way to turn.

      1. o_gal*

        And do not book through a third-party app. Book directly with the hotel. In 2017, lots of people who booked a year out had their reservations cancelled so the hotel could charge more for the room. The majority of these were people who booked through Travelocity, Hotels.com, etc. And you can probably guarantee that you get your room if you can somehow make it a 2 night stay.

        In 2017 we flew to San Francisco from Louisville, KY, for a family vacation, arriving back on a Saturday. We stayed at a hotel near the Louisville Saturday and Sunday night, and I had booked through the hotel. We never had an issue, but we heard from a lot of people who were there instead of Elizabethtown, KY, because the hotel cancelled their reservations and they had to scramble to get new rooms.

        Traffic going down was bad in places, but traffic coming back home to Ohio was horrid. What should have been a 3 to 3.5 hour trip turned into just over 7 hours. Because as other people have pointed out, everyone meanders down to their viewing spot, but they all leave in one group. My plans for April 2024 are to work from home that day, walk out my front door, say Oooh! Aaaah!, and walk back inside :-)

        1. Llama Llama*

          To note my husband booked rooms through hotels before major events were announced and the hotels still cancelled.

    3. MissB*

      We live in Oregon, and we drove the hour down to our in-laws’ house who were in the path of the total eclipse. We stayed the night before.

      Pretty much anyone with a backyard or driveway seemed to rent out their piece of empty land to anyone willing to pay to pitch a tent. Their little town not far from Salem was absolutely full, but we were able to walk to the library and grab a spot on the grass.

      We’d planned on leaving there and heading to Spokane because we needed to drop our youngest off for his freshman year at college in Montana, and figured Spokane was a good destination for the day so we’d booked some hotel rooms for the night, planning on leaving right after the eclipse.

      It took HOURS to get anywhere close to Portland. Alllll of those people that came for the eclipse then left to return home, clogging every main road, backroad, dirt road. Dh had grown up in the area so he knew all the roads. Did not matter. They were all full.

      Even once we cleared the general area, the roads were still clogged. Just so many people trying to get back to wherever they’d travelled from. Took us 12 hours to arrive in Spokane, which should’ve been about 6.5 hours.

      So if you go, just give yourself a lot of time to leave. Stay put an extra day if you can.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I think it really varies. Last time we traveled to Saint Louis to see it. There were all sorts of dire media coverage predicting terrible gridlock traffic that would prevent anybody from getting to their destinations, etc. My uncle drove out to get food just an hour or so before the event and reported everything seemed normal. Sometimes the media just needs something to panic about. However in other places I do think it was bad.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I went from OldCity to my mom’s house near St. Louis and watched the 2017 there (she was in totality; I wasn’t). My uncle drove over also, and some friends of mine from Europe who planned a trip during that time were able to join us. Traffic wasn’t bad — Uncle and I went the day before. My friends didn’t have any trouble that day to speak of — they came down 55 and made it in plenty of time. We all hung out on the lawn with Mom’s neighbors and watched. I went back the next day and didn’t have any issues with traffic.

        If you plan on staying somewhere overnight, book ASAP. A total eclipse is definitely worth seeing at least once — it’s an unearthly experience that isn’t really reproducible.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Sorry, it was a couple of days before when we went over. I wrote about it on my blog. Still good advice to wait a while before going back, if you’re driving.

    5. The Week Ends*

      Suggest locating a park or something to go to, take lawn chairs and food. Make sure it has restrooms! The start to end lasts awhile so get there early and get comfortable. We went to a large event hosted by NASA in a football stadium at SIU Carbondale, Illinois, they are doing it again this time. It was extra special seeing presentations and extra commentary on the big screen, but there was gridlock out of town for approx 10 hrs and all along the interstate. Traffic will be heavier in those regions, especially after. And hotel rooms cost hundreds of $$ if there is a local event so we didn’t spend the night. Enjoy!

      1. fposte*

        Heh, I was going to go to Carbondale but all hotels were booked up already, so I’m doing Bloomington, IN. But it never occurred to me that there might be a presentation so now I’ll look around for one.

        1. The Week Ends*

          They are doing same this time in Carbondale, consider it! They are pros now at putting it on. Bloomington will be great but their first time, I heard they were doing a stadium event? It was all day of food and neat events plus seeing with thousands of people was amazing. We left from home at 4 am to drive there due to hotel prices and shortage. We got there a little too early thinking it would be busy. The mistake we made was not waiting longer to head home. We waited a couple of hrs. It was a 20 hour day!

          1. fposte*

            My tenses were unclear—Carbondale is already booked out for 2024. I did at least learn from people’s 2017 experiences and have a hotel through that night with plans to leave the day after.

    6. Llama Llama*

      We had a totality in my city in 2017 and I didn’t notice anything crazy different. Traffic was relatively the same (well maybe better – school was let out). However I hear about people selling tickets for fields. There was lots of fields where I live though so whatever.

      I don’t know about the hotels but that’s the only piece that may have been problematic.

    7. Reba*

      We went in 2017. Some towns made it A Thing with a festival, street closures and so on, and there was definitely more traffic.

      re: nowhere to go till the event — I think you may want to get where you’re going to view well ahead of the time of totality!

      We went to a state park, and arrived there at the crack of dawn (humorous episodes of our family caravan driving on rural roads in the dark). The park closed to new arrivals once their parking was full, which I think was before mid-morning. It was wonderful, if you can find a local park I would recommend experiencing it in a place with some natural beauty. We heard the evening insects and frogs start up during the totality!

    8. Travel tip*

      Family members traveled from the Chicago area to Southern Illinois for the last total eclipse. The drive was 6 hours down (the day before), 12 hours to get home! Their advice is don’t try to drive home right after the eclipse.

    9. jtr*

      We went up to Corvallis in Oregon, and stayed with my son. Rooms and AirBnBs were just astronomically expensive for the day before and after. Someplace where you can get out of the car and set up chairs is good – the thing that we were most not expecting was that the wind picked up strongly during the actual eclipse, it was cool and spooky.

      The traffic heading out of town was the worst – bumper to bumper. I wish now that we had brought in a picnic brunch and stayed and played games or something for a few hours.

    10. Decidedly Me*

      I drove to Oregon during the last one. I had family just outside the zone of totality, so stayed with them for a few days and then drove into the totality. Getting out was an absolute nightmare! I don’t think I was making it more than a mile or two in an hour for a very long time. People were getting out of their cars to use the bushes as facilities and were able to do that and get back in their cars without traffic moving.

      However – still worth it, lol!

    11. Nicki Name*

      I saw the 2017 one in central Nebraska. It was pretty quiet in the town where I saw it. Trying to drive back to Omaha afterward, though, OMFG. The freeway was jammed, all the state and county roads were jammed. Would definitely recommend not trying to leave the area the same day.

    12. Donkey Hotey*

      For whatever reason, this one appears to be gathering more attention. I did the 2017 one in an itty bitty town in Oregon. My #1 recommendation: wait a day before trying to leave. The worst traffic was after the eclipse when everyone was trying to get back. Small Town areas often mean limited roads. There was a bottle neck at the Washington/Oregon border that took me four hours to get through.

  25. Come On Eileen*

    I had an experience today that would have been a tiny inconsequential annoyance at best, but because I was in a lousy mood and having a hard week, it instead was INCREDIBLY bothersome. Has that ever happened to you? Here’s what happened: a friend and I were coordinating movie plans over text, and I knew she had a Fandango gift card she was itching to use, so I asked her if she wanted to use it for this outing and she said yes. About an hour later she sends a text that said “got the tickets – your share is $10!” And I was stunned for a moment — I assumed since she was using a gift card, she was using it to pay for both of us. She was, but she wanted reibursement for my half. Again, if I was feeling rested and healthy and mentally well, this would have been a tiny misunderstanding or miscommunication — after all, it’s only $10 and she’s a long-term friend. But I was in a terrible headspace and it managed to bug the daylights out of me.

    I’ll get over it, but I wonder if anyone can comisserate.

    1. Past Lurker*

      Commiseration. One time I was feeling overwhelmed for various reasons, and wound up crying because the particular sandwich I wanted was sold out at the lunch spot I visited. They had other sandwiches available, but in my state I felt it was sooo unfair that the Universe was denying me this one little thing! If I remember correctly, I left the place in great distress. I probably went somewhere else for lunch eventually.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Haha to be fair, I can’t be reasonable when I’m hungry, and I accept this about myself. I have to carry snacks so that I don’t have inappropriate meltdowns every day.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        Oh man, I’ve been there too – I can’t always control when tears come out, but it always seems to be when I’m overwhelmed and then one more small thing happens that sets me back.

      1. Sloanicota*

        That’s interesting, I really don’t think she did anything wrong, TBH. It’s as easy to buy two tickets as one at the time you’re buying, so I get why she would add it to her order, but I don’t think she’s obliged to cover your ticket. There are many friends I wouldn’t think twice about – I’d just get the snacks, or I’d get them next time, or whatever – and other friends that we’re very careful to always split everything.

        1. londonedit*

          This is what I thought…especially as it was a gift card. I wouldn’t expect a friend to pay for my ticket with a voucher they’d been given as a gift – it wouldn’t feel right to me to use their gift for my benefit. But it definitely sounds like a classic miscommunication – if your friend had said ‘Oh, I’ll get these with my gift card’ then yes I’d have assumed she meant ‘I’ll get both tickets using the card’, but as it was your suggestion I can see why she thought you meant ‘You might as well use the gift card to buy the tickets and I’ll pay you back for my half’.

        2. Come On Eileen*

          I think you hit the nail on the head. Different friends have different ideas and expectations with money. I am very much a “I got this, you can do it next time” kind of person, and she is not. I do know this about her, so probably shouldn’t have made the assumption that she was offering to pay for me.

        3. EA*

          I think this has to do with cultural expectations too… in the culture where I live it would be super rude to say “Hey I have a giftcard I want to use, let’s go to the movies sometime” and NOT pay for the friend.

        4. Maggie*

          Yeah I’d assume she was paying for me but if I got a Venmo request I wouldn’t think anything of it. Maybe she’s on a tight budget and wants to save

    2. Squidhead*

      I find I get most upset when I’ve made an assumption that’s incorrect and feel simultaneously wronged and foolish. Like, the feeling of being “wronged” hasn’t faded yet even as I’m realizing it was based on an incorrect assumption, and then I get to feel irrational on top of it! So I’m commiserating but I don’t have a solution other than time and whatever you do to relax.

      Reviewing my own assumptions sometimes helps me get free of feeling wronged (I convince myself I wasn’t wronged because we always pay for our own tickets so this time wouldn’t be different). But sometimes this just leads to stewing on it or doubling-down on why I think I was right after all (why did she even mention the gift card if she wasn’t offering to pay!? etc…) So if you are really looking to shake it off that could be unhelpful.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah, my brain does that too; the more empirically obvious it is that I simply misunderstood, the more it wants to glom onto “BUT BUT BUT UNFAIR!” rationalizations as to why throwing a day long pity party is the only rational response to this cruel, indifferent universe.

    3. Not A Manager*

      This happens to me. I agree with Squidhead that part of it is the unease of not knowing whether who’s actually being unreasonable/not following social norms. I feel diffusely gaslighted.

    4. allathian*

      Commiseration. It’s so odd how that works, even when you’d normally split the cost anyway.

      I hope you can move on quickly. Enjoy the movie and your friend’s company.

      I hope that you can laugh about this incident when you’re in a better place mentally.

    5. Cordelia*

      Sending commiserations! I think the important thing is to let yourself feel this, while at the same time recognising and acknowledging that you feel like this because you are generally feeling crappy, not because of this particular incident. Because tbh I wouldn’t have expected the friend to pay for me – assuming you’d normally each pay for your own ticket, then she’s paid for hers with the gift card, and you pay for yours. I see how the misunderstanding happened, but maybe if you can let go of the thought that you have been unfairly treated, then it will be easier to not resent the friend going forwards.

    6. Magdalena*

      I don’t know,,, you basically volunteered her to pay for your ticket. She used the card to pay for her own ticket. I could see feeling either way about it depending on your relative financial situation but I wouldn’t want to use a friend’s gift card in this way unless they insisted.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        That’s kind of where I landed. Expecting your friend to use up her gift card on your ticket isn’t really any different than assuming she was going to pay your way with her cash or credit card – it’s all her funds – so I cannot personally commiserate with being upset that she didn’t treat you as you seem to have expected her to.

      2. WellRed*

        Same. I would have happily paid for your ticket with my gift card but your mistake was in assuming.

      3. Come On Eileen*

        Yeah, I understand that. The background on the gift card is that a few of us went to the movies a few weeks ago, and over text this same friend had said “let me use my gift card to buy the tickets.” The other friend immediately responded “don’t worry, I’m already in the process of the transaction.” So it wasn’t so much volunteering her as it was acknowledging I knew she had it and she wanted to use it for a group movie outing. Granted, I didn’t understand that her using it wasn’t actually an offer to cover everyone’s fees, just her own.

    7. Heron Sighting*

      I don’t understand why her using a gift card would mean she would cover your ticket. It’s still her money, just in a different format. My friends and I have definitely done this. Just two weeks ago, I went to the movies with a friend who bought tickets using her theater membership for a discounted rate and a gift card she’d gotten for Christmas. And I paid her back without question. She did me a favor taking on the hassle of buying the tickets and getting a discounted rate with her membership. And in return, she gets cash back that she can spend more freely than what was on her gift card. So it’s a win-win all around, and I would never assume someone wanting to use a gift card was going to cover for me. Think of a gift card as just another form of cash; it is still their own money they’re spending.

    8. carcinization*

      I decided to treat myself for present-wrapping before Christmas so got a $14 sandwich from Panera… I rarely ever get drive-thru meals but didn’t want to have to fix lunch in the midst of messing with all of the wrapping supplies. The sandwich was good but so big that I saved the second half of it for the next day’s lunch. The next day, the first bite of the sandwich was a little gritty but I figured maybe it was some over-baked cornmeal on the bottom or something. The second bite turned out to be a huge (bigger than a quarter) clump of dark brown dirt in the spinach layer of the sandwich. I got rid of it quickly but wow was that horrible and disappointing — and since it was the day after I originally bought the sandwich I didn’t have any recourse with the restaurant… I’d paid cash so didn’t even keep a receipt or anything. Now I get a gross feeling in my stomach whenever I pass by a Panera or see a commercial for it!

    9. Llama Llama*

      I was already irritated at work for reasons and another team asked me for help getting details for an audit (they saw I had done it two years ago — which had been done with annoyance even then because it was really their job). But fine I understood the audit request. I tried to guide them but good gracious they were being so dumb over basic things. It grated in me a lot. Had it not been for the already bad day and that the audit had been a sore spot for me it would have been no big deal. I am a SME when it comes to these queries!

    10. Wes*

      Yeah sorry, you’re in the wrong. If she had invited you and said she’d use the gift card that’s one thing, but you suggesting it and expecting her to pay (whether she uses a gift card or money) is presumptuous.

  26. Georgina Sands*

    I’m thinking of taking up stargazing as a hobby! Does anyone have any tips or tricks or experiences? I’ve always been interested in stars and planets, and with my mobility now extremely limited it seems like a good way to get outside… on the other hand it seems very male-dominated and expensive to get into

    1. purple spotted giraffe*

      While it is male dominated, the enthusiasts are *very* enthusiastic – they want to share their wonder of the universe with everyone. I would be very surprised if people weren’t just happy to share. I say this as a woman in physics, star gazers are not very “bro” at all in my experience. if you go to a star party, people will be very very willing to share their telescopes with you (and chatter on about what they’ve pointed it at), I wouldn’t buy one right away. If you do go to a star party I would advise you to wear or bring much warmer clothes than you think. You get chilly standing/sitting around. If you don’t know much about astronomy, I’d read a book for lay people, just so you have an idea what a nebula is, what a supernova is, etc. (I’m a nuclear physicist, so I don’t have any books to recommend, sorry). Have fun with the hobby!

      1. AcademiaNut*

        Yes – bird watchers and amateur astronomers tend to be very happy to share the fun. Look for amateur astronomy groups in your area, or any event where telescopes are provided for education purposes (like Sidewalk Astronomers).

        In terms of money, yes, good telescopes are expensive, and cheap telescopes aren’t very good, so go to star parties to get a feel for whether you like it, and how much you want to invest.

      2. Maryn*

        My late friend who worked at a planetarium fielded questions about beginners’ stargazing/astronomy as part of his job. He said he gave the same recommendations over and over: One, start with good binoculars rather than a cheap telescope. The cost is similar, less if you can find them used. (Hint: Lots of people have a pair they never use. Seek them at NextDoor, CraigsList, etc.) The perfect pair has a way to connect to… Two, a sturdy tripod with adjustable height.

        Apparently it’s almost impossible to hold binoculars or a telescope still enough, but the tripod does it for you. When you’re into it enough to take the next step, the tripod can also support your new telescope.

        1. Zephy*

          Can confirm, it is impossible to stargaze with handheld binoculars unless you would like to be very dizzy, very quickly. But if you can stick the binoculars on a tripod you are in business, baybee.

    2. WoodswomanWrites*

      I’m not a stargazer myself, but I’ve noticed that on both Meetup and Nextdoor, there are people who’ve found each other based on their interest in stargazing. Lots of beginners are involved and have been welcomed. You might want to see if there’s something comparable where you live.

    3. Bunny Watson*

      You can start with an app for your phone like Star Walk which has a free version. It’ll tell you what you are looking at when you point your phone at a section of the sky. We have a university with an telescope not too far away and they are open to the public one day a week and will occasionally give free lectures and things. Enjoy!

    4. fposte*

      There are Dark Sky Preserves that often have special events—look to see if there’s one in your area.

    5. RedinSC*

      Our local public library system has a full on telescope that you can check out for 3 weeks at a time.

      It can help you decide if this is the way you want to go.

  27. Chaordic One*

    Question for UK readers. Did you watch the ITV series, “Mr. Bates vs. The Post Office”? If so, what did you think?

    The series was a dramatization of the events of the UK Postal Scandal which has not received much attention in the US. (If you haven’t heard of it, google “UK Postal Scandal.” Wikipedia has a good basic article.) I’m glad that the series seems to have brought attention back to issue. It seem to me that TPTB were content to do nothing and dawdle until the issue faded away and everyone hurt by the scandal died.

    But was the series any good?

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      I haven’t seen this series yet, but was listening to a news podcast on this topic yesterday – they played some clips of it and the dialogue sounded a bit generic, though I’d reserve judgement until watching it. I may end up watching it anyway because it has a great cast (Toby Jones, Monica Dolan, Julie Hesmondhalgh.)

      The series currently has a 9.0 rating on IMDB, so it clearly worked for a broad audience. I’ve been reading news stories on these terrible wrongful convictions for around 15 years now, and was not expecting this series to make any difference whatsoever in terms of positive action. I’m thrilled that it has, so I think the artistic merits or otherwise are almost unimportant.

      I’ll be even more thrilled when the Fujitsu and Post Office staff responsible for ruining the lives of so many innocent people go to prison and/or have to pay fines so big they are bankrupted.

      1. Vio*

        I haven’t seen it but I’m definitely happy that it’s having a positive effect. Too often these sorts of dramatisations are just an attempt to cash in on a headline, it’s nice to be reminded that there are attempts (and indeed many of the cash-ins may have started out as a genuine attempt) to use a dramatisation to bring new attention to an injustice in the hopes of eventually righting a wrong.

    2. Sloanicota*

      I read about this when the show came out and was appalled. I can’t believe none of the hundreds of people involved were able to demonstrate that it was a glitch in the system. That’s what we get for letting computers do our thinking for us, I guess.

      1. londonedit*

        The worst thing was that when they called the helpline, they were told well, there’s nothing wrong with the system, no one else is seeing these issues, it’s just you so it must be something you’re doing. It’s all absolutely appalling and I really hope they’re all fully exonerated and compensated quickly – it’s sad that it’s taken a) a TV drama and b) an election year for the government to start falling over trying to help, and it’s incredibly sad that so many people have lost their livelihoods, homes, reputations, etc etc. Some people have died not knowing that none of it was their fault. It’s disgusting really.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        What was truly appalling was that they COULD show it was wrong, and were simply told “no, you are and by the way we’re prosecuting you for theft and ruining your lives” when the government and the manufacturer both knew for a fact they were lying to these people’s faces.

    3. Mighty K*

      Yes, I watched it and thought it was good – though I’ll caveat that I never sit down and just watch TV, it’s always on while I’m doing something else like washing up or putting laundry away, so it doesn’t get my full attention.

      The whole scenario is disgusting and should be unbelievable, but sadly isn’t.

    4. Chaordic One*

      The one thing that really stands out to me is, what did TPTB think that these people were doing with this supposedly embezzled money? Usually there’s some sort of paper trail, such as an unexpectedly large bank account or purchases of new cars, new houses, or extravagant vacations where no one can tell where the money for these things is coming from. (Sometimes there are things like drugs or gambling debts that are more difficult to trace.) I’m not aware that anyone ever produced any evidence about what the wrongly accused did with the non-existent, supposedly embezzled money.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      I have read about it in the paper here and was shocked at the horrible consequences for these innocent people! But the reason it was mentioned in the first place was the series.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I thought the series was good – yes, the dialogue is a bit clunky at times and it’s certainly designed for an emotional reaction, but the acting is superb and the real story so horrifying that it’s gripping.

  28. allathian*

    What have you been watching lately?

    During the Christmas break we went to see Aquaman 2 because our son wanted to see it. It was okay although very by the numbers, I half-wondered if I’d seen it already because none of the plot twists surprised me. I must confess I enjoyed the visuals, though.

    My husband and I also went on a mini date to watch Fallen Leaves, which both of us enjoyed very much. I loved the chemistry between the main characters.

    On TV we just finished Voyager, and I was sad when it ended.

    We started watching Enterprise, and Broken Bow is my favorite Trek pilot episode. I really enjoyed it last time around, we’ll see how it goes this time.

    My husband and I are bingeing on The Crown, just started the 5th season. We’re also on the 4th season of The Wire, and it’s funny to see Dominic West appear in both, and playing very different characters at that.

    1. Vio*

      I got around to watching Santa Clarita Diet, a black comedy about an undead woman and her family. Black Comedy is a delicate thing but when done well it can be a delight and I really enjoyed the show, it’s a shame that netflix included it in their mass cancellation when the pandemic hit (or indeed that so many shows were cancelled all at once and in many cases short notice).
      Also been thoroughly enjoying the current season of Fargo. Normally a villain so over the top would feel too much like a strawman and sap some of the enjoyment but for this show it just works. Can’t wait for the last episode but it’ll be a shame to end the season.

    2. Teapot Translator*

      I don’t have a lot of time or energy, so I’ve started a rewatch of Death in Paradise. I’m also rewatching Foyle’s War and Endeavour on the Knowledge website (they release an episode each week and they stay up only a few weeks).

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      For All Mankind Season 4, Apple. This one hasn’t been as gripping as the first three–I think while the travails of the hvac repair person on Mars absolutely is true to life for how things go as space travel becomes routine and normal, they didn’t find a great way to pull me into that story. Two episodes left and it does look like the early season was maneuvering into place for this payoff.

      Fargo Season 5, Hulu. Omg this is excellent. And stars the actress who played Keely Jones! Jon Hamm joins past seasons’ Jeffrey Donovan and Timothy Olyphant in handsome leading men playing against type.

      Percy Jackson Disney, about what would happen if the Greek gods were real and monsters were trying to kill their half-mortal kids and the gods were like “we can craft some personal entertainment using the kids to work out our squabbles.” This has been reliably good. I thought the movie really didn’t serve the books well because it cut out all the interesting moral layers (this system is not fair); the TV series has those. Also Lin Manuel Miranda is Hermes.

    4. o_gal*

      Attack on Titan. We finally got to see the last 2 episodes about a week ago, and I am going to start rewatching the whole series again. The only issue is that we watch the subbed version on Crunchy Roll, not the dubbed version on other streaming platforms. So I can’t do much when watching it other than intensely watching the screen. However, I’ve been able to pick up some very handy phrases in Japanese LOL!

      1. GoryDetails*

        I loved the first season of Attack on Titan, but as the series went on and all those layers of secrets came out I enjoyed it less and less. Not sure if the anime follows the manga, but the wrap-up of the latter was pretty darned grim!

        I am enjoying the “Pluto” anime on Netflix, though; a short series as these things go, awesomely illustrated and with lovely, intense characters.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Attack on Titan is great, but I also adored the 4 Star parody of the first season–I split a gut laughing.

    5. trust me I'm a PhD*

      The Brothers Sun on Netflix.

      Starts off humorous, bordering on satire/spoofing Asian crime narrative, gradually picks up more emotional heft. Michelle Yeoh stars, in case you needed a reason to check it out. I have 2-3 episodes left, and I don’t think it’s going to be life changing but very worth my while.

    6. ecnaseener*

      Medici on Netflix — it’s pretty good, nothing to phone home about. I enjoyed season 1 much more than season 2 so far: s1 was willing to let its main character be morally grey, but s2 insists on presenting its main character as a white hat. Come on now. Lorenzo de Medici did not want to bring true democracy to Florence.

    7. Bluebell*

      We are about to take a break from Netflix, so have been scanning their offerings. Finished Bodies – not as well done as Dark, but still good. I was amused by The Chair, and also finished a short Brazilian comedy – Nobody’s Looking. Plus Fargo season 5 has been amazing- Jon Hamm is a terrific villain, and Juno Temple has really impressed me.

    8. RagingADHD*

      Finally got around to streaming Barbie. Really enjoyed it, very clever way of setting up the hero’s journey, and of course I felt the America Ferrera speech in my toes.

      I’m not sorry I skipped it in the theater, though, because I watched with my teen daughters and talked through it. To me that was the best part, but not doable in the theater.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Interesting reactions, too, because my 16yo (who had seen it before) pointed out that Barbie apologized for taking Ken for granted, but Ken never apologized for anything, including stealing Barbie’s house.

        My 15yo pointed out that if you think about it, it’s pretty dark that all the Kens appear to be permanently homeless, even in the post-crisis Barbieland.

        My husband laughed so hard at the Matchbox 20 song, he nearly fell out of his chair.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m watching the third season of His Dark Materials. I feel like this one strays a bit more from the book than the first two did, to the point I checked out the book from the library so I could double check things lol. My favorite part of Amber Spyglass was probably the most difficult to adapt (3 episodes in the mulefa haven’t even appeared yet) and I’m disappointed they made Balthamos so stoic, but overall I think they’ve done a beautiful job with the series.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      We just finished the latest season of For All Mankind! It is SO good and I don’t get why it hasn’t been more popular.

    11. Cat Executive Officer*

      I just randomly got into watching “Suits” on Netflix, which is an old show about lawyers. It’s kind of cheesy and melodramatic but is nice, easy entertainment. I realize I miss old shows like this that aren’t too heavy, and are designed to enjoy at the end of a long day to wind down.

    12. goddessoftransitory*

      On streaming we’re cheerfully splashing through Death in Paradise and Astrid. On DVD we’re watching Adventure Time with lunch (closing in on the finale) and just started the 90s cult favorite Forever Knight with dinner!

      One of our favorite YouTubers is recapping the first season on his show Scaredy Cats and we’d recently watched the first season on streaming independently (but they slammed a paywall on the second season) and we enjoy his recaps so much we went ahead and bought the set! It’s so fun and my God, the queer signaling is through the damn roof.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        I second this recommendation – saw it over the holidays and frankly it kicks the arse of every other Godzilla film. There was a kid of around 9 or 10 sitting next to me when we saw it and it looked like they were really enjoying it too.

        I’d recommend watching the first ever Godzilla film (the b&w Japanese 60s one) before watching Godzilla Minus One. The original is pretty good, but it seems like they had more scope to put social/political commentary in the new one, which makes it a lot more interesting.

      2. LA Girl*

        Yes yes yes! Godzilla Minus One was unexpectedly one of my favorite movies of the year! So heartfelt and emotional (not something I’ve ever associated with a monster movie), so well done!

    13. heckofabecca*

      I watched The Mitchells vs The Machines last night and LOVED IT!!! Very wonderful (except where the family dynamics hit a bit too close to home in the middle), great animation… delightful stuff.

      We also have been watching Very Important People, the new show on Dropout.TV, which is HILARIOUS. Improvised interviews with transformed comedians, hosted by the fantastic Vic Michaelis. Brilliant!

    14. JulieA*

      All Creatures Great and Small – season 4. I just watched the first episode, and I love that the series follows many of the story lines of the original books, but often with unexpected twists.

  29. Anon for this*

    Anyone have good morning sickness foods/treats/hacks? I’m very early in my pregnancy and have been dealing with a miasma of all-day nausea recently, so I would love any recommendations! So far it’s been lots of saltines and ginger chews.

    1. Miss Buttons*

      I had all-day nausea and vomiting, then eventually hospitalized with severe hyperemesis with both my pregnancies. First tip: stay very very well-hydrated. If you’re vomiting, force yourself to stay hydrated. Vomiting without hydration creates a very bad cycle and soon you’ll be bringing up stomach acid, don’t want that. Second tip: unsalted saltines were my friend, munched them through the night. Five-six smaller meals a day helped, keeping a little something in my tummy 24/7 made a big difference. Good luck and this too shall pass.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        On keeping a little something in your stomach, I am having a vague memory here of setting a little bowl of Wheat Thins and grapes by the bedside so I could eat a bit before even getting out of bed.

      2. Loreli*

        I had all day nausea, but luckily no barfing. Progresso soup worked for me, especially minestrone and chicken vegetable.
        Good luck.

    2. Washi*

      Honestly, medication was the only thing that really helped, other than the suggestion below to try not to have an empty stomach. I wish I hadn’t waited until 20 weeks to ask for medication as it made a huge difference for me! I still had nausea throughout but it really reduced the barfing.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Grapes. And I could manage bits of raw vegetables. Eating a small snack every few hours helped.

      Do not force yourself to eat something because it’s “healthy”–I did not touch oatmeal again until my oldest was two, so violently did my body reject my attempts to eat half a bowl.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        This! Eat whatever you can keep down! My kid was 50% Chocolate Cheerios for the first trimester.

        1. Chauncy Gardener*

          Completely agree! For some reason the only things I could really keep down were chicken massaman curry, burritos and mint chocolate chip ice cream (not together lol). And I had about a four hour window each day where I could keep anything down, about 1000-1400.

    4. Hotdog not dog*

      Best wishes for a healthy pregnancy and baby! I had the same problem, and found that pressing on the pressure points on the wrist was sometimes helpful. Sea bands (available in most drugstores) work by having a plastic button that holds pressure there. Also ginger candy, plenty of water, and eating small amounts frequently.

    5. Not A Manager*

      The thing that worked for me was not to let my blood sugar get too low. I’d nibble little bits of stuff all day even if I didn’t feel like it. I also found lightly sugared drinks to be helpful. I basically drank very very weak hot lemonade all day long. That little hit of sugar was key.

      The worst was first thing in the morning, I think because I hadn’t eaten all night. I’d eat one or two crackers and have a little sugar water before I even got out of bed. IIRC once I got those saltines and lemonade into my system, I did best during the day with simple, bland carbs.

    6. HannahS*

      In the first trimester, I lived on eggo waffles and unsalted saltines, water, and water with lime or lemon. I was the least nauseated in the mornings, oddly. I also lived on anti-nauseants basically until the baby was born. Later in pregnancy, I found TUMS really helpful, because some of my nausea was actually heartburn.

      What I remember latching onto was this: my goals were to stay hydrated, get enough salts and sugars that my electrolytes stayed balanced, have enough calories that hunger didn’t make me even more nauseated, and to keep taking my prenatal vitamin. I ignored all other internet advice on “The things you MUST eat while pregnant!!!”

    7. It’s all Good*

      I feel for you. I had 8 weeks straight of vomiting a few times a day with 3 pregnancies. String cheese and Gatorade by the tablespoon was all I could get down. The last pregnancy I did force myself to eat rotisserie chicken for the protein. The nausea continued through all of the pregnancies.

    8. OBMD*

      Never let yourself get hungry. Eat a little something every 2 hours, Get up in the middle of the night for a few crackers and juice if nausea is worst in the morning. Never let yourself get thirsty. Drink small amounts of fluid throughout the day. Some people prefer water, others something flavored. Ginger (ginger candy, ginger chews, crystalized ginger, ginger tea). Vitamin B6 50 mg three times per day. Accupressure wrist bands (Sea Bands) help some people as well. If over the counter remedies do not work, ask your OB. There are several prescription medications that can help. Don’t wait to ask for help.

    9. Dark Macadamia*

      Zofran and diclegis. I had all-day nausea from beginning to end of both pregnancies and prescription meds were the only thing that helped. You can also take B6 instead of the diclegis if you don’t want to wait for a prescription. I hope you feel better soon!!

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Yes to this. I had awful morning sickness from weeks 6 to 13. Vitamin b6 three times a day and unisom at night (those are the active components in Diclegis, the approved medication). Also, the Emertol chewables anti-nausea helped somewhat. I would take one of those every 90 minutes. I couldn’t stand the Emertol liquid.

        For food, bone broth or other rich chicken stock. A little bit of protein and a lot of vitamins and minerals while keeping you hydrated.

        I promise it does get better!! After week 13 I only got sick if I got dehydrated. Really truly carry a water bottle everywhere.

      2. E*

        Just another take // these drugs did nothing for my nausea and Zofran is constipating. Worth trying but honestly just nothing worked for me other than having the baby. The best I could do was avoid foods which actively made it worse and eat small meals . Sorry and hope it’s different for you but you’ll get through it either way.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Same – I had awful all day nausea but fortunately no vomiting. I drank mint tea all day long (hot, iced, room temp) and it was the only thing that worked.

    10. Anon for this*

      Thanks, all, for the lovely comments and advice! It’s nice to hear from people with a range of symptoms (helps put things in perspective for me) and also to feel united in this human experience! I hope all your little ones are thriving!

    11. New Mom (of 1 5/9)*

      Saltines and ginger chews are a great place to start. Put some peanut butter on your saltines for more nutrition, if you can stand it. I also liked toast with butter, sugar (optional), and ginger powder.

      If you have problems with water, get creative—iced, no ice, straw (this makes a huge difference for some), just hot water. My current favorite is adding fruit-flavored Torani syrup, it has astronomically increased my water intake. No shame

    12. KarenInKansas*

      Confirming what others have said and adding some of my own:
      Don’t get hungry and always be drinking something.
      I lived on stacks of saltines and gallons of Swanson chicken broth for the first three months of three pregnancies. I would mash cottage cheese and spread it on saltines for protein.
      I never like sweets and while pregnant they made me feel even more nauseous and heartburny, except for hot gatorade (I got the regular yellow gatorade powder and mixed it with hot water to taste) and crystalized ginger (bought from the Asian store in 2-lb bags because I ate so much) and ginger tea.

    13. Pregnancy nausea is the worst*

      I agree with comments above to never have an empty stomach, so eat and drink literally anything that appeals to you, and make sure you’re not constipated, since it’s common in pregnancy and can significantly worsen the nausea. And if it’s feeling intolerable, definitely ask for a prescription for anti-nausea meds -YMMV but I almost named my kid Zofran in gratitude for keeping my pregnancy-long nausea better controlled!

    14. JustEm*

      Eat/drink what you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for meds. I tried ALL the tips/hacks and the only thing that helped was prescription metoclopramide.

  30. Pups & Politics*

    I just realized that Leap Day Birthday Employee finally gets her day off again this year! Yay for her (but I hope she finally found a new job though)

    1. Sloanicota*

      I’m trying to think of the best way to celebrate this year’s leap day, actually! I may take the day off. I’m trying to set a goal that will end on leap day (possibly finish this current draft of my next novel, or something). Happy day off to that original beleaguered employee – I hope she has long ago left for another job with more common sense!! (I’ve actually never worked anywhere that gives you your birthday off anyway).

      1. Random Bystander*

        Ice cream!

        My dad, who passed away in August, was a leap year birthday person, and this would have been his 20th. He was a huge fan of ice cream, so we’re (my mom, me, my brother, all the children, significant others for my brother and two of my children) all going to have a bowl of ice cream in his honor.

        1. V.*

          I’m so sorry for your loss, but that’s a lovely way to honor your dad on his birthday – thank you for sharing this.

  31. BellStell*

    Does anyone have advice on donating family heirlooms like say your grandmother’s china set? I have reached out to two charity shops to see if they can take it but I am doing a serious downsizing and I have some very old things that have been in my closets in three different houses for 20 years so I am def not using the stuff. I live 4000 miles from family and shipping any of the items is too costly. I really cannot sell most of this stuff as it is old fashioned and am in middle of a move too so no time to photograph, list on a site, sell, ship etc. I have asked a few friends locally and all said no.

          1. BellStell*

            Thanks again WellRed – the dresser is going today I think if the lady comes, and the dishes went yesterday from FB marketplace so thanks!!!

            1. Venus*

              I’m really glad. I have been doing the same lately with a bunch of family stuff that I can’t keep, and while I don’t need to be personally thanked it is a really nice benefit that I meet the people on my Buy Nothing group when they pick up items and I know that they appreciate that these are family heirlooms.

      1. Fellow Traveller*

        Freecycle is similar to buynothing. I prefer it because you don’t have to have FB to use it

        1. BellStell*

          Thanks for this will see if we have this here and may also list stuff there. I can state that people must come to pick up and must have a van etc so this is good to know, thank you!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Alternately, if the china is in good shape and very old/rare, there are lots of china collecting groups it might be worth skimming, to see if the pattern is in demand.

    1. Sara*

      If you live near a university, sometimes their international student office will host giveaways of household supplies for international students.

      1. BellStell*

        this is a good idea. If the couch does not go in a week or so I will look at the local univ. thank you!

    2. Qwerty*

      Are there any consignment shops or second-hand stores in your area that do housewares? We have a big shop in my town which is full of china sets, furniture, art, and heirlooms from people downsizing or cleaning out estates. Surprisingly it is not well known even to people who live near it so you might need to poke around. Or are antique stores still a thing?

      1. BellStell*

        I had emailed two local shops and neither would take the stuff as they have too much already of similar items. but it is a good idea, thank you!

    3. Morning Reading*

      Do none of the charity shops accept it? I ask because I take things like that to the local Goodwill frequently.
      Are any of these items truly “heirloom?” If so do you have any younger family members? Children, nephews, cousins? Do any of them have a big house? With lots of closets?
      I suggest packing things up and mailing to one of them. It takes a bit more time than donating and you have to pay shipping costs. But it moves the problem to someone else’s closet, and who knows, maybe someone would like their great-great grandmother’s china.

      1. BellStell*

        well the china is for sure and some of the silver stuff. the plated silver is not really. mailing these heavy things is too pricey as I live 4000 miles from family and our postal costs here are very high (for example, a 3lb box costs 60USD equivalent to ship economy). but it is a good idea and for some smaller stuff I can bring it back on a visit maybe! thank you!

    4. Jean (just Jean)*

      Jean (just Jean)*
      January 13, 2024 at 11:20 am
      You might try contacting people who help immigrants and refugees resettle into a new community, either through an immigration-focused nonprofit organization (such as HIAS or IRC/International Rescue Committee) or through a congregation.

      1. BellStell*

        For the couch, this is a good idea as we do have new refugees coming from Ukraine. In 2022 I donated a few clothes and blankets there, I can ask again, thank you for the reminder!

      2. JSPA*

        For Furniture like sofas–

        regionally, there are “off the floor” charities who specialize in / are willing to take stuff that needs fumigating (upholstered, padded, etc) if it’s in otherwise excellent condition. It goes to people who are coming from homelessness or other displacement, and have no furniture. Worth searching them out, if they exist in your area.

    5. Generic Name*

      Replacements Ltd will purchase vintage china. You can go on their website and figure out that pattern and the pieces you have and there is an “offer to buy” form to fill out where they will tell you how much they will pay you for the items. I recently sold a large set and netted about $100 taking into account the shipping. You don’t have to take photos of anything, by the way.

      1. BellStell*

        This is good to know. I did give the china to a lady yesterday who was excited about it but I did not know they buy stuff, so have bookmarked their page for reference in the future as I still have some pieces! thank you!

    6. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Are there groups near you that are hosting/helping resettle immigrants or refugees? A newly arrived family might be glad of solid furniture, even if old-fashioned, and some matching ceramic dishes rather than paper or plastic.

      My partner gave half a dozen sets of dishes to a family her synagogue is sponsoring, because she had far more dishes than we were ever going to use.

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

        There might also be some organizations helping families coming back into apartments from homelessness who would similarly be okay with some old-fashioned stuff to get started with.

    7. MaryLoo*

      Sadly, old china sets have little to no value to collectors, antique dealers, etc, even heirloom-quality stuff.
      Is there an agency or etc in your area that provides for people moving into their first homes after being unhoused, or new immigrants, or similar situations? A set of dishes for a family starting out with very little would be welcome, I think.

    8. Rachel*

      Get comfortable with the idea that not everything you want to declutter will find a new home and that’s okay.

      Sometimes the effort involved with getting something to the just-right person isn’t worth it. Sometimes people stall on decluttering because they don’t know where the items should go.

      It’s okay to throw them away. If you are a person who makes effort in other areas of your life to decrease landfills and/or climate change, it is fine to recognize this is an area where you are going to slide a bit.

      Nobody can do it all, nor does anybody expect you to do it all. Your time and energy has value. If you can solve a problem in a few minutes with a garbage can, that is a valid choice.

      1. BellStell*

        Thank you Rachel for this very kind comment. I do try hard to not contribute to waste and really appreciate your thoughtfulness here.

        1. Rachel*

          You’re welcome.

          This is a task that really follows the adage “the perfect is the enemy of the good”

          It’s not easy. I hope you feel peace in your space soon.

    9. RedinSC*

      There is a resale shop in my town that takes items like that and sells them, then donates the money to local non profits. I feel really good about taking Grandma’s treasures to them to be sold to support good work in the community.

      Maybe your town has something like that?

  32. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    I posted last week about attempting to make my own wedding dress. My thanks to everyone for sharing their stories, it was lovely to hear about so many handmade dresses. I didn’t get chance to respond to everyone, but I did read everything.

    I have been slightly scuppered this week as whilst working on the bodice toile my machine decided to seize up and will no longer sew. ::facepalm:: I’ve got it booked in to be looked at next week, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it can be fixed. However, if it can’t be repaired, or if the repair bill would be more than the machine is worth, I’ll have to look into getting a new sewing machine.

    Any recommendations? I’m a hobby sewer, and make the odd garment and do a little quilting. I don’t need a big variety of stitches, I mainly only use the straight stitch and zigzag. I chose to hand sew the buttonholes on the jeans I made. I was considering the Singer Heavy Duty 5523 as I like the idea of an optional extension table for larger pieces, and if I make more jeans in the future it might be useful to have a little more oomph for the multiple layers of denim. I’m in the UK in case that affects machine availability.

    1. zaracat*

      I have two machines, a Janome DC2101 and an older (1960’s or 70’s?) Elna. Although the Janome has a couple of handy features such as automatic buttonhole and can be entirely hand controlled which is fantastic if you have a lower body disability, and lots of available accessories such as a walking foot, I don’t really like it. It’s too lightweight and doesn’t feed well when sewing heavy fabric or across lumpy seams; it’s annoying that you have to hold a button down continuously to sew in reverse; and being electronic it doesn’t save your stitch settings when you switch it off. The Elna is much simpler and sturdier and uses a nifty system of removable cams for decorative stitches. It will take heavier gauge needles than the Janome. There’s a lot to be said for buying an older metal-bodied Elna or Singer machine as long as it’s in good working order – they are inexpensive, not much goes wrong with them and the popular ones are still easy to get parts for – but it’s probably not the best idea in your situation where you need something guaranteed to work right away. The Singer 5523 sounds like it would combine the best of both worlds: heavy duty, simple controls but also with modern conveniences like 1-step buttonhole.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I’ve not used an electronic sewing machine before, and didn’t realise they don’t save your stitch settings when turned off. Thank you for the information. That further confirms my instinct that sticking with a mechanical machine would suit me better.

        I do love the old vintage black work Singer machines and would love to own one some day… But I think for this specific project which has a firm deadline I’d prefer to go with a more modern machine.

    2. MM*

      Have you tried rethreading the machine and possibly adjusting the tension? This happened to me several times when learning to sew something new.

      My brand recommendation is Janome, they are excellent sewing machines.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I’m pretty sure it’s a mechanical fault, unfortunately. It seized midway through sewing a seam and I’ve unthreaded and rethreaded. If I try and manually crank the machine I can get the needle to turn but it requires far more effort and force than it should, and I don’t want to keep trying for fear of damaging it further.

      2. SallyAnn*

        Agree. The very first thing I do when my machine misbehaves is to re-thread completely. Meaning remove the bobbin and the spool and re-thread “from scratch “.

        Also make sure you aren’t using a different type of thread in the bobbin than what’s on the spool. That can cause issues. (And do not purchase pre-wound bobbins. Use your machine to wind them from the spool).

        And look in the spot where the bobbin goes and look for blobs of dust & other detritus. You’d be surprised at what collects under there!

        Last thing – when you begin to sew a seam, are you holding the 2 threads down with your finger (off to the side, against the flat surface of the machine) as the machine sews the first couple of stitches? Not doing so will sometimes produce a birds nest blob of tangled threads on the underside of the fabric.

        1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

          Having completely removed all thread from the machine the needle refuses to move up and down unless I apply an excessive amount of force. I’ve removed plenty of thread tangles in the past, and I’m pretty certain the problem is caused by something else. I will be delighted if it turns out I’m wrong and it’s actually an easy fix as that will lead to a much cheaper repair bill. :)

    3. Llellayena*

      My machine seized up once (Husqvarna Viking, the second to last day of a quilting retreat!) and I think the repair was about $150 (US dollars). I don’t know what your budget is, but my machine at the time was $500 and is a good machine. You can also look at refurbished machines, which would fit a smaller budget for a better machine. I wouldn’t go for one of the cheaper “budget” machines just because of durability. I know you don’t need more than hobby use, but hobby use on a crappy machine is a recipe for quitting the hobby. If you go refurbished, all mechanical rather than digital screen versions are probably more reliable.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Oh no! What rotten timing for you. I’m glad to hear you managed to get it fixed.

        My current machine would cost around £200 to buy new, so it’s not super-budget, but it’s still a fairly basic machine. If the repair bill comes in at less than this it’s worth fixing to me (it would seem a shame to throw out something repairable), but if it would cost more than this it doesn’t make sense to do it.

        I completely agree with your point that too cheap a machine isn’t worth having as it would be frustrating rather than enjoyable to use.

    4. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Personally, I like vintage sewing machines. They were built WAY sturdy, so there are tons of them in great condition. Also, people sewed more in the past, so there are lots of grandmas’ machines on the market for cheap. I like the look better too. Mine is mint green cast iron with brass innards. It just does straight and zigzag, but that’s all I need too. And no computerized controls to break, just levers.

      You can pick one up at the thrift store for $20 or $30 here if you’re willing to take a risk, or the local sewing machine repair shop has ones they’ve fixed up.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I absolutely love the look of the old black work Singer machines and have heard that they’re practically indestructible providing you don’t mistreat them. I’d dearly love to get one, one day, but that’s a long term goal and I’ll probably stick with a more modern machine for this specific project.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Oh, yes, they are stunning. Mine is a more mid-century design, not as handsome but still better looking than something in plastic.

          When you take your current machine in to be repaired, see if they have any refurbished older machines. I’d trust one to last longer than a modern plastic and computer one unless it was very high end. Especially if it’s been professionally fixed up.

    5. Frog&Toad*

      Just wondering, when’s the last time you’ve given your machine a good cleaning and oiling? If it’s been a while, google “how to clean a ‘your machine name here’ ” and look for a video. Usually you need to remove a screw or two, use a cotton swab or little brush or even a vacuum and you can get a lot of fluff and thread out of the machine. I’ve even gone further and pulled out screws I know I’m not supposed to pull out to clean further in, very carefully. At one point, I thought mine was seized up and dead, there was a thread caught in a weird spot, it’s been fine ever since.
      If you do need a new machine, Bernina is a great brand – see if your local shop has used/refurbished since they are so expensive.
      My mom & I made my wedding dress back in the day. She fitted and sewed the main dress and I did all the hand-work with tons of lace and beads as was the style.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Much to my chagrin I am not as diligent at oiling and cleaning as I should be. I have opened up as much of the casing as I am comfortable doing, cleaned out some fluff, and oiled various moving parts. It’s still rather stuck and I cannot see anything obviously amiss. I suspect that problem area is further inside the casing where I can’t get to it, and I’m loathe to do much more lest I make the problem worse. I’m more comfortable handing it over to a professional and paying for their expertise.

    6. HannahS*

      I missed your last thread on the topic, but congrats! I hastily made a wedding dress before a covid elopement in 2020, and am making another dress for my belated reception this summer. I’m using the Deer and Doe Magnolia dress, but likely with a swooshier skirt. The fabric will be embroidered silk gauze over the palest pink or light blue silk.

      I have a Janome machine which I adore. It’s an older model, but my serger is also Janome and both are workhorses. I always recommend non-computerized machines, because there are fewer things to break.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you! The dress you’re making sounds gorgeous, I hope it’s going well.

        I’d definitely be looking at a mechanical machine if I need to buy another. I don’t see the point of a computerised one if I’m realistically going to ignore 99% of the stitch options, and like you say, it means fewer things to break.

  33. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I’m wondering if anyone here uses an automatic litter box for their cats, and if so, which one? Was it worth the expense? I’m seriously thinking about it. Thanks!

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My husband has a Litter Robot and likes it well enough that when the first one gave up the ghost after five years (fixable but he gave the old one to his brother who has the skills to fix it but not the money to buy one, while my husband was the other way around) he bought a new one. I was kind of appalled at spending that kind of money on a litterbox, but it was his money, and I must say it makes a distinct difference – he was not as reliable as he should have been on cleaning litterboxes and it meant his office was smelly and his cats got annoyed and peed on my dog pillows instead, and neither of those things happen anymore. So for my POV it was a success.

    2. Sloanicota*

      My sweet old kitty has a thyroid issue that causes her to pee all the time, and I just couldn’t keep up. I felt terrible that it wasn’t getting done as often as it needed to, and she was not happy. I bought one of the lower-tier models in the $120 range, not one of the super fancy ones with apps and everything (link in my next comment). I ended up buying a second one a year later so she can have two going. This has basically solved what was a frustrating problem for both of us, so I think it’s worth it. It’s not perfect – the reviews detail the pros and cons – and beware of ones that require specific expensive litter, as that adds an ongoing expense, but this one can use regular brands, it’s just fussy about how good the “clump” is to work at its best.

    3. sswj*

      I’ve had several, because I generally have had between 9 and 12 cats at any one time and it helped reduce the “multiple boxes” problem in a small house. Here’s a brief rundown:
      Cat Genie – the self-washing box: Works well, but placement can be an issue because it needs water and drain hook up, and it’s not small, approx 2ft square. Once you’ve got it set up it rarely needs any attention. I had 2 of those in two places in the house.
      Litter Robot: I had the original one for almost 10 years and it was WONderful. Then it gave up and I got their then new model, the LR III. Hated it. It was finicky, glitchy, and a pain to deep clean and reset (which was always their Tech’s solution) I finally just gave it away. I’ve heard that the LR IV that’s out now is much better, much more stable electronically.
      PetKit: I have the PuraX which I like pretty well, they have a Pura Max out too that’s gotten mixed reviews (though I think they may have solved some of the leakage issues). I had two of them and one had an electronics malfunction that the company apparently has no fix for, so I’m down to one. It’s quiet, efficient, reasonably easy to maintain. It’s also got the smallest footprint.

      In all of these my major frustration has usually been with tech support – which has gotten generally worse (longer response times) since Covid. The boxes themselves all do a good job of cleaning, keeping smell to a minimum, and the human part of litterbox cleaning. They are stupid expensive, but I’ve found them worth it overall.

      There’s a YouTube channel that’s pretty useful -and also just fun to watch if you’re a catperson :) – called One Man Five Cats: youtube DOT com/ @OneManFiveCats/ videos
      I’ve broken the link so hopefully it shows up.
      You can also hunt for FB pages about the model you’re interested in. There’s usually a user’s group or two that can help with questions and trouble shooting. I’d imagine Reddit also has similar but I can’t wrap my brain around Reddit, so …

      Hope this novel wasn’t too much info!

    4. dreamofwinter*

      We got a Litter Robot a year ago, and I have no regrets. I was really hesitant – $700 for a litterbox?!?! – but it’s removed the struggle between me and my husband over who scoops. Now when its full, whoever is free changes the bag and we move on with life. I also have an older cat with a history of urinary and bladder issues, and having a consistently clean box has really helped him with his day to day.
      I did find that there’s a learning curve – but once we figured out how to keep the robot happy, everyone’s happy.

    5. PleaseNo*

      Jackson Galaxy has a really good video on why automatic robot litter boxes are not a good idea. I’d say forget it and just continue to provide them clean open air box that you scoop!

  34. Ellis Bell*

    Can anyone recommend comfy day or night bras and bralettes? Ones that will support a 34 F cup? I seem to have a sensitivity issue with compression that doesn’t show up until I’ve been wearing something for a while; it’s why I had to throw out my stretch jeggings (the skin on my legs became sore where they compressed), and I also had this favorite pair of tights, but because they had compression lines on the bum, I developed a skin issue that correlated with the shape of the lines. I thought I’d found my perfect bra brands: by day, a Marks and Spencer moulded cup wireless and my lounge around sports bra for evenings and sleep is New Balance. It’s the racer back, elasticated-all-over style, with a front zip. However one or both of these is causing an issue: I have a livid red line curving around one boob that looks like an underwire shape (that must be the seam on my daytime bra because the sports bra doesn’t have cups) and a lower blood blister type irritation were the bottom of the band hits on both bras. I considered wearing my nighttime bra in the day, to see if the problem continues but the racer back design means it shows above the necklines of most work outfits. Any recommendations?

    1. Kat*

      I’m a similar size and really like Boody’s full bust wireless bra – all other bralattes for me have ended up with the underbust band riding up and digging in painfully after a few hours, this one doesn’t do that. It does have various compression lines around the cups though so I’m not sure if it would help your specific issue – I don’t find the compression tight at all though, and it’s very stretchy

    2. mreasy*

      I like Parade – they have some bralettes in “busty” sizes. But if you’re used to molded or underwire support, there will be a learning curve.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Apparently they are launching in the UK, so they seem like ones to watch; I love the designs!

    3. Time for Tea*

      Given you are getting actual injuries from your bras! You are very likely in the wrong size and/or the wrong shape for you. “A bra that fits” calculator and Reddit page are really helpful for working out what size and shape you really are and from there what style and brands are likely to suit you

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Any particular one? I’m getting injuries even from trousers and tights so I think this is down to my skin condition being extra intolerant, but it has been a while since I got measured. So I’ve been wondering too! I usually use the big UK department stores for fitting advice, rather than DIY but you’re not the first person to have mentioned that online calculators have gotten really good. Are they all good? The old catalogue measuring guide was godawful.

    4. Isobel*

      If you’re anywhere near a Bravissimo shop I’d recommend going for a fitting. I’ve always found the staff to be really helpful and they have a great selection of larger cup sizes (and small back sizes, which aren’t always widely available – 30FF here)

    5. Patty Mayonnaise*

      This is a bit outside the scope of what you are asking, but could you take a break from wearing a bra at night and see if that improves anything? It might not given your general sensitivity but having a bra on 24/7 could be contributing.

  35. Potential Landlord*

    My spouse and I are considering buying a duplex or multi-unit property, renting out one side and living in the other. We’re hoping it would be a way to invest for retirement and maybe at least partially offset mortgage costs. Anyone with experience with this? I’m interested in both positive and negative stories. Also, what should we be thinking through and are there other places we could/should go to research pros and cons?

    1. Sloanicota*

      Ha I think about this too! I was really debating before I bought my current house if it would be better to go the other way. Living right there seems like it would mediate some of the frustration of getting middle-of-the-night calls for various maintenance emergencies; after all you’d probably have to do the same thing on your own side anyway. Ultimately, I think I made the right choice for me because I just don’t think I would enjoy being a landlord. I have trouble being direct with people and letting people be mad at me. That might be compounded if they were also a neighbor I’d have to see all the time. How would I deal with needing to evict someone or trying to collect rent if they can’t/won’t pay? In my renter-friendly city, it’s also not easy legally, and can take a long time. How will I feel if they’re not being careful with my property and breaking things accidentally? It also turned out I didn’t have as much energy and enthusiasm for fixing up my property as I imagined. But for the right person (a contractor themselves would be a huge plus) I can see how it would be a big win-win! Oh maybe do consult with a tax advisor and make sure you understand what goes into a rental permit.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t personally have experience with buying (though I’ve fantasized about this sort of duplex setup) but as a tenant, I’d recommend you or husband be very handy at fixing things (from the boiler to the toilet) and have ready access to professionals (including things like snow removal and yard work if applicable) for the rest.

    3. zaracat*

      I’m not sure I’d want to be living next door to my tenant. On the other hand, owning both halves of a duplex alleviates one of the major issues, which is that if there is ever a structural problem you aren’t prevented from getting it fixed by non-cooperation of the other owner. My sister owns one half of a duplex in New Zealand which suffered damage in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. Her place is not actually unsafe, but the whole building is now crooked with very uneven floors. They got their insurance payout but can’t actually get structural repairs done because the owner of the other half won’t agree to the work and couldn’t afford it even if they took him to court and won (he is on a low income, bought the place as-is from the previous owner who accepted the insurance payout and then sold at a loss without doing repairs).

      1. zaracat*

        I also have experience as a landlord in Australia, which did not go smoothly. I bought a 2 bedroom apartment as an investment, and just after I’d settled on the property my daughter broke up with her partner and needed somewhere to stay for a few months. We signed a formal lease but at below market rent, which would have been fine except that just as the term was about to expire covid hit and the entire state went into lockdown. I decided I’d rather take a financial loss and have her safe than force her to either move out or get a flatmate. End result was that she stayed on at less than market rent for two years. She was a good tenant, but there was some damage despite that – the washing machine overflowed and flooded the apartment because the floor drain was partly blocked, and her cats scratched up the joins in the carpet in a way that couldn’t easily be repaired so it all had to be replaced. Tenancy laws also changed during this time, making it more risky for landlords. I decided it was all too stressful and sold up.

    4. L. Ron Jeremy*

      my father did this in the 70s. we lived in the 3 br side and he rented out the two br side. he also bought another similar duplex down the street the he rented out.

      it was a 7 year run that was mostly positive because he had several good, long term tenants and two kids to help rehab the units when tenants left.

      two exceptions were noted that I witnessed: he was physically threatened when he refused to return the deposit from someone that changed their mind just before their move in date. I still remember “I wants my money” quote the big dude repeated over my Dad’s explanation why he had the right to keep the deposit. my Dad returned his money after he showed up a second time with an even bigger buddy who repeated the same mantra.

      the second event cost Dad alot of time and money to repair. I noticed water coming from the Tennant’s garage and we found that they moved out during the night and left every faucet running and the toilets plugged with concrete. I still remember seeing the water running down the stairs when we came in.

      about a month later, a limousine pulled up while Dad and I were doing some yard work at the duplex. a man asked about if we knew where the tenant that flooded the house moved to. Dad explained that we didn’t know and the man handed Dad a business card with only a phone number and asked us to call it if he came back. Dad tossed in the trash after they left.

    5. I'm A Little Teapot*

      Being a landlord is its own thing, and it’s not necessarily easy. I would recommend anyone considering this do some research on a forum specifically for landlords/rentals/etc. If you know anyone who is a landlord talk to them and try to get all the downsides.

      My parents owned a duplex, so I grew up in part of it while they rented the other part out. Particularly memorable tenants:
      1. the mother and teenage daughter who didn’t appropriately care the for cat, so the cat peed all over the unit. I mean ALL OVER. We had to rip out the carpet and paint the original hardwood floors to seal the odor, and that was after mom used the cleaner stuff that is used in bio-hazardous waste situations. They also painted the ceiling teal and the trim blue in one room.
      2. the woman who had a string of friends over, none of them ever seemed to bathe, and the police showed up looking for them while I was home (mid-teens) and the rest of the family was out. In my parent’s defense, they didn’t pick that woman, she was there when they bought the place.
      3. The single guy who apparently had a general mental breakdown or something because he didn’t clean at ALL once covid hit, then when they sold the place and he refused to move out and they had to get a lawyer to evict the guy. In covid times. The court date was postponed because the judge said he wanted to do some research about restrictions on eviction from the covid related protections. In the end, he was evicted, he did actually vacate on his own (on the last possible day before the court deadline), and then we had to deep clean the place because it was just dirty. It all came clean but it was like he hadn’t vacuumed in a year or done anything else. My sister did the bathroom, I got lucky there.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      TRIPLE CHECK every aspect of this before you start: local rent laws, setting up leases, tax payments, hiring a credit investigator for applicants, and so on. Quadruple check people’s references.

      When I managed a building, the worst renters were college kids–they would absolutely trash the units, not out of malice but because they just didn’t “see” mess. And no matter how cheerfully they agreed to things like no smoking or pest control measures, there were always ciggie burns in the carpets and a layer of food over every surface with ants a marching ten by ten across them.

    7. PleaseNo*

      I’ve been a landlord for 12 years, and I’m not any more, and I don’t think it’s worth it. most of the laws out there heavily favor tenants and when you have to take someone to court you are not likely to get a judgment in your favor for the amount that you request, you have a worse chance than a role of the dice to find a decent tenant or a decent maintenance/ handyman, and given the high prices to buy now and costs of goods for maintenance and repairs, let alone labor costs, your rental price is not going to make you any money. I say a better investment is finding a good financial advisor and making smart investments.

    8. Goldfeesh*

      My husband and I have had a duplex for about 10 years. It’s an upstairs/downstairs one. We live in the downstairs since my husband can’t do stairs. In that time we’ve only had two tenants. The first was ok and she was there about a year. The second has lived here nine years and is wonderful. We’ve kept our rent lowish just because she’s been here so long.

      The duplex is in a small town in Iowa. We got a wild deal on it- it had been in an estate and hadn’t sold. Honestly, it’s the best financial decision we ever made. It kept us from having a mortgage. And it freed up money so we could think about getting another rental.

  36. Teapot Translator*

    What’s cooking?
    Last week, I made butter chicken (ok, but won’t make the recipe again) and cream of mushroom (so yummy). This week, I bought beef cubes because the price was good, so I’m going to be making something soupy or stewy (or both, it’s a lot of beef for one person). Mmmm.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Tonight something with the mushrooms I got at the farmer’s market.

      Earlier this week Smitten Kitchen’s Apple and Cheddar Crisp Salad, a kale salad with toasted nuts and cheese. This is a really good way to eat a pile of kale in the winter, and the sweetened nuts are a great and simple recipe. I recommend doing the nuts and cheddar on different cookie sheets, and on parchment.

    2. WellRed*

      A corn, red pepper and potato chowder made from a dried mix. I’m mulling whether I can just get away with chopping potatoes rather than dicing them down.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Did some deep-diving into my freezer and found a pork loin, so I’ll be making one of my favorite recipes, the “All Day Pork Loin Chili” from the Food Network’s “Hearty Boys”. The pork goes with onions, sweet and hot peppers, and a honey/coffee/bourbon mix, plus spices – and it freezes well, so I can make a big batch on this rainy day.

    4. fposte*

      I realized this week I hadn’t made a use-it-up veggie soup in a while so did that yesterday. Not vegetarian, as I use chicken stock, but with leeks, red potatoes, frozen peas, lots of carrots and celery, some penne that needed a purpose, and tarragon and parsley. I also remembered in time that I had a bunch of Parmesan rinds that I’d been saving for soup and chucked them all in, so it is very pleasingly savory. Today it gets decanted into freezer containers.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I’m not really in the mood for cooking, but will have to do it all week anyway, and making the meal plan was quite a slog. The one thing I’m excited about, because I’ve been craving it for ages, is savoury potato waffles with avocado and salmon. The waffle batter is my take on a Martha Stewart recipe and always a hit in this household. I’m hopeful I can find enough energy to make that tomorrow.

      On butter chicken, if I can offer a recommendation, look up the recipe called Mob’s Butter Chicken Curry by Mallika Basu. It turned out remarkably similar to the flavour I remembered from takeaways, unlike many other recipes I tried before (in fact I’m craving that too, can’t make it this week but perhaps the next!)

    6. The Week Ends*

      Last night to celebrate the cold we had refried bean soup- quick and easy with refried and black beans, corn, broth, green chilies, diced tomatoes. Yummy. Tonight diced pork and cabbage sautéd together with onions and garlic.

    7. Buni*

      Cranberry & choc chip flapjack. I have so many random ends of things left over from the mammoth Xmas baking I did I’m just thinking of ways to use up the odds ‘n’ ends.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I wanted to make some pumpkin bread and little egg-and-tomato brekkie sandwiches to take to work with me, but I can’t get motivated, lol. I need to use up that tomato. Maybe tomorrow — we’re off on Monday and I need to go to the laundromat then because it’s going to snow later this week.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      Tonight is RecipeTin Eats Thai Basil Chicken. I’m very excited because all her recipes have been soooo good!

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I got to use my new Big Ol’ Pan that I got for Christmas to make Persian rice & potatoes, and it made all the difference in the world! You’re supposed to spread the potatoes in a single layer at the bottom of the pan, and every time I’ve made it in the past I ran out of room and had to layer them up. They cooked okay, but I didn’t get that brown, chewy layer that’s supposed to occur. But with Big Ol’ Pan, I did! So delicious!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It’s in Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything (and may be in the vegetarian version as well) but it is super simple!

          1 1/2 cups precooked rice (I use basmati or jasmine, whatever’s around)
          2 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
          1 medium sweet onion, sliced (not diced)
          1 stick + 1 Tbsp of butter, melted, divided
          Salt/Pepper to taste
          1/2 cup slivered almonds

          Pour 1 stick melted butter into bottom of large, flat, skillet or pan with a tight fitting lid. Layer the potato slices over the butter in a single layer (it’s okay to stack them a bit, but you want the bottom ones to brown.)

          Place sliced onions on top of potatoes.

          Put half the rice on top of the onions, pour on remaining Tbsp of butter in swirl pattern, salt and pepper to taste. Put the rest of the rice on top, adding a bit more salt and pepper.

          Put on lid. Cook over LOW heat for about one hour.

          About five minutes before it’s done, take the lid off, sprinkle the almonds on and gently fold them into the rice, making sure not to disturb the potatoes. Put lid on, let cook 5 more minutes.

          When you scoop this out the bottom layer of potatoes should be golden brown, chewy, and delicious! It’s great with asparagus or other green veggies on the side.

    11. Might Be Spam*

      My son forgot his fancy beef jerky when he left for the airport, so I’m looking up recipes that use beef jerky. He got it from a fancy butcher shop and isn’t factory sealed, so it needs to be used. I might end up putting it in soup, if I don’t find another use for it.

      1. Teapot Translator*

        Hi! I use RecipeTin Eats Mushroom Soup recipe! I really like it. As Chauncy Gardener, her recipes are usually good!

    12. carcinization*

      It’s getting cold here (and in most of the rest of the country I guess), so tomorrow will be Budget Bytes’ White Chicken Chili recipe.

    13. Elle*

      I just made Crowded Kitchen’s Edamame Crunch Salad and Eat Love Eat’s Apple Ginger Chocolate Baked Oatmeal.

    14. Jo*

      I did a version of “Taco Soup” as it’s cold her. Also have some chicken thighs that we will bake later with roasted veggies.

    15. Clara Bowe*

      I made some bread this morning (Simple white sandwich bread from Sally’s Baking Addiction) and am gonna do some chicken katsu with curry tonight. It is cold and I need carbs.

  37. love that journey for you*

    If you were an adult (esp. women/enby/femme folks) who pursued and received a formal ADHD diagnosis and went on medication, would you be willing to share what experiences you had that led you to that course of action?

    I’ve had it called to my attention recently, partly thru formal medical channels and partly through a conversation about ADHD on the Friday open thread yesterday, that I have attention problems, and some of what I’ve chalked up to anxiety, etc, might be solvable by medication. I’ll make my own decisions and don’t need advice per se (e.g. this is NOT a request for medical advice), but I’m curious what the move from “these are totally normal features of my personality” and/or “this is due to some other thing, like laziness or anxiety” to “oh, this is ADHD and can be medicated.” looks like.

    1. Sloanicota*

      No advice but solidarity. One of my good friends has an ADHD diagnosis and she says basically at the end of the day, if the medicine works for you to help you focus, that is meaningful (as for people who don’t have ADHD, I guess it doesn’t have that affect?). I think about this a lot, wishing I could just try the meds to see if they help without having to embark on a long and difficult-seeming process of intimidating experts who are literally judging me.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Depends where you live. In many parts of the US, an adult can just go get assessed either by a clinical interview alone, or alongside some questionnaires and a computerized test.

        The going rate for assessment in my state has dropped drastically in recent years. When I needed to change practices in 2017-18 (ish?) and they required reassessment, it was about $1,000 (but I talked them out of it). This year it’s down to $200.

        They aren’t judging you any more than a doctor is judging you when you show up with a rash. They are evaluating your symptoms to determine whether it’s poison ivy or psoriasis. (ADHD is the psoriasis in this metaphor, by the way.)

    2. Morning Reading*

      I am not quite there yet, but if I weren’t retired, I think I would be past that tipping point. For me it would be looking at my patterns, the to-do lists not completed, the clutter, and seeing what I might be able to do better to improve, not so much my functioning, but how I feel about my functioning.
      For me, I am still in “these are normal features of my personality,” and getting to “oh this is probably ADHD,” but I’m not interested, for now, in medication. (My adult daughter has suggested I should, based on her recent diagnosis and meds.) I’m old, I don’t mind these aspects of my personality.
      I have a copy of “Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD,” recommended by someone here a couple weeks ago. What a great resource! So many traits I recognize! many of the techniques I already do. For now I’m trying to have more effective habits, but not trying to change my distractability, and because I’m not employed or responsible for much beyond myself, I don’t feel a need to.
      If people are telling you that you’d be better (more comfortable, capable, less anxious) with medication, you could try it and see. Could always stop later. (I know some young adults, who had it as children, who now have enough strategies that they’ve chosen to stop medicating as adults.)

    3. Been there, doing that*

      A few different things: I was anxious over things I felt like I should have been able to have a handle on (routine work and life tasks), and felt like I only had enough energy to get one part of my life in order at a time. Doing well in work basically put my personal life on hold, and not in a way that “have better boundaries!” advice seemed to alleviate. So that was really the issue that I wanted to address, and I started therapy.

      My therapist thought that my symptom profile seemed consistent with ADHD rather than anxiety, at least as sort of the driving force behind those issues. Years ago, I’d taken some online screeners that flagged me as having “moderate” ADHD symptoms, which came as a surprise at the time. Once I started looking into whether I really did have ADHD, I learned that a LOT of my immediate family and friends have received ADHD diagnoses. What I thought was “typical” behavior wasn’t a good baseline for that kind of comparison. I also gained some new coworkers who were open about their ADHD at work, and seeing many of my own habits reflected in them sort of confirmed my growing suspicions.

      And at the end of the day, I’d like to alleviate the bothersome symptoms/be able to live my life well; I don’t especially care about the diagnosis or the mechanism of relief. My therapist explained that many, though not all, ADHD medications are relatively fast-acting (hours to weeks to first take effect, not weeks to months). If I tried a med and it didn’t work, that could be useful diagnostic info. So the barrier to trying one out seemed quite low, and if it didn’t work, we’d be onto the next approach.

  38. Morning Reading*

    The Thursday thread on over the top reactions at the W place made me wonder about something: what cool or unusual things do you have at home that came from the W place? Not counting branded items or withdrawn books (for the librarians.) (I don’t mean stolen things, just, discards, souvenirs, and whatnot.)

    I have this old office chair that was going to be thrown out when we were moving from old building to new. it’s not technically ergonomic, but I sat it in for 20-odd years, so it’s molded to my butt-shape pretty well. It’s a faded orange color, from the 70s I think, that is also a perfect backdrop for cat photos, especially the calico.

    Besides that, I have a piece of plexiglass that was designed to hold printer paper; it makes a good cat pedestal at the window. A stack of notepads with my 40-year-ago department name as a header. And maybe somewhere in my garage, a 1980s Motorola “car phone” with the little suitcase.

    Best: some auto parts ordering sheets from my dad’s workplace in the 60s. Colored sheets I crayoned on in childhood.

    What are your cool salvaged items?

    1. Rara Avis*

      My grandfather owned a wholesale business. We got his used printer paper — piles of connected sheets with the tiny holes along the edges. Some of that paper still exists at my parents’ house and comes out for his great-grandchildren to draw on. (My grandfather died in 2002 and retired at least 25 years before that.)

      1. Cordelia*

        ooh we used to draw on that as kids! It had been used on one side, dad used to bring it back from work, we called it “computer paper”. I was with my brother at Christmas and we were playing a game where we needed paper to draw on – he said “do you have any computer paper?” It’s been over 40 years!

    2. WellRed*

      Not any more but I used to work for a printing company and paper companies would often advertise new papers with gorgeous artwork posters. I framed a Maui inspired one for my Aunt, who still has it.

      1. sagewhiz*

        Ooh! I have two!

        One is from a printing company that arrived at the ad agency where I was a copywriter in the late ‘80s—a gorgeous 24×18 print of flamingos. The creative director, a dear friend to this day, and I “fought” over it, until we decided to rotate it between us, only he never asked for his turn. I had it ma