weekend open thread – January 20-21, 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: Wallflower at the Orgy. Hilarious essays by the brilliant Nora Ephron on everything from warring restaurant reviewers to Cosmo editor Helen Gurley Brown.

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

{ 1,310 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. anonymous rex*

    What’s been your favorite book that you’ve read in the last year-ish? And what have you read in the same time period that you didn’t like/that disappointed you?

    My recent favorite was I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Somehow I’d never read this and it’s charming and wonderful. One that disappointed me last year was My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, about a girl who gets involved with her teacher. It was so well written and that might have been the problem, it just felt so dark and sad to me because of the material.

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Favorite: The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi, about pirates on the Indian Ocean about 800 years ago. Magic, monsters, adventure, the problem with having adventures when you are older and have a trick knee. They get the old gang back together to pull one last job.

      Disappointed: Main Character Energy, about a downtrodden sort who inherits a villa from a distant relative with a requirement that she move in and finish her novel. I expected a fun Cinderella story in which our heroine quits her soul-sucking job, ignores her mother’s insistence that she’s too fat to do stuff like this, and goes to adventure in Europe.

      But the opening hit so many weird notes I just flipped to the end. I don’t think you have to stay wedded to your childhood dream forever. I think hope can be cruel. The relative would meet our heroine one day per year for lunch, where she would be deeply interested in her, insist that she must follow her dream of being a novel writer, insist that she is a great novel writer (based on an annual conversation over lunch, not reading what she wrote), and deflect any questions about herself. I could lean into “because the fairy godmother rules of magic require this” or “because your aunt is an international assassin.” The relationship was uncomfortable and head-scratchy, and I did not feel like this was the intent. (Like, the assassin thing could totally have gone fun places.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Your description of the latter gave me some chills: my mother used to latch onto anything I was talented at and do this kind of thing (she wasn’t an assassin, though, as far as I know.) It became clear it was more about her than me.

      2. Michelle*

        Re: Amina Al-Sirafi – Have you read Chakraborty’s first books, the Daevabad trilogy? Some of the best fantasy I’ve ever read. She models her fantasy city on Tehran – an old, old culture currently under the rule of religious extremists, with so much bad blood going back so long it seems impossible to ever fix. And she manages to end it on a hopeful note. It’s so good for the soul.

      1. Anon-E-Mouse*

        I love this series. I recently read The Secret Hours, which although set at the same time as the series, delves into the back stories for several key characters.

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I Capture the Castle was the same way for me a few years ago! Delightful book.

      Last year’s favorites were This Is How You Lose the Time War (tough to get into at first but beautiful writing and interesting ending) and What If It’s Us (cute YA queer rom com with great audiobook narrators).

      I am FURIOUS how bad Remarkably Bright Creatures was lol, it’s already going to be my biggest disappointment of 2024. I feel like all the reviews were and publisher summary misled me personally and intentionally, knowing I’d read anything narrated by an octopus.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Fun house mirror: I loved Remarkably Bright Creatures and couldn’t get through This Is How You Lose the Time War :D

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          Haha, love it! Time War is one I kind of liked better after reading than during. Weird experience but it stuck with me?

      2. Pittie Smitten*

        Remarkably Bright Creatures-what a joke. Thankfully I read it Aug 2022 before the massive fandom started but it was by far one of the worst books I’ve ever read. I had such high hopes as the premise was interesting but it stopped there. Between the man-child character and so little time given to Marcellus I was just down right pissed. Yes, it’s an unpopular opinion we share but that book completely sucked.

        1. Smurfette*

          Completely and totally agree. I even used the phrase “man-child” in my review on Goodreads.

      3. GoryDetails*

        Re “Remarkably Bright Creatures” – I just finished that one, and while it didn’t wow me, I rather enjoyed it. So I guess I’m in between the love-it/hate-it crowd. It definitely was more of a fable than anything else, with the supernaturally brilliant octopus just coincidentally pulling all the story-links together, and with the total personality makeover of what’s-his-name – not that the latter’s impossible, but in-story it felt way too pat. But I still enjoyed it, possibly because I didn’t go into it expecting mind-blowing awesomeness!

        1. Seashell*

          I think I fit in with you. I liked Remarkably Bright Creatures, but it wasn’t the best book ever.

      4. sockless giraffe*

        I noticed some large editing mistakes in the version of Remarkably Bright Creatures that I read. There were typos and then at some point two sentences shipped together that made no sense at all. I guess editors are a thing of the past?

        1. Lenora Rose*

          That type of thing is copy editors, not editors – and yes, the copy editing work has been shipped out to freelancers or dropped entirely by more and more publishers. There’s one SF publisher who outright stated they stopped doing copy edits because it made no difference to sales… and immediately multiple SF fans went “Oh, that explains it!” One of their best selling authors has said she hires her own folks to do it in advance – not something a new or mid-list author is liable to be able to afford.

    3. Owlette*

      I loved ‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn, I have not read a book that fast in a long time.

      I think this was a matter of overhype, but ‘Daisy Jones and the Six’ bored me. I had enjoyed her other book (The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo) and given the hype around Daisy I expected it to be better but just meh

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        The only impressive thing about Daisy Jones is they had a full cast audiobook, so it seemed more like actual interviews. But the whole time I kind of felt like “this would only be interesting if they were a real band and I cared a lot about them” because it seemed kind of plotless? Also the audiobook hyped up AN ACTUAL SONG at the end, which turned out to be a very bland loop of maybe 30 seconds of instrumental music on repeat.

        1. 248_Ballerinas*

          That’s what I thought with Daisy Jones – why not just read the memoir of an actual performer?

    4. migrating coconuts*

      Read “The 13th gift” before Christmas and it was a great read and just right for the season. Finally read “Where the crawdads sing” and I found it not very believable and just a mediocre story. I cannot understand the hype around it.

      1. Deb*

        Totally agree on the boring romance Where the Crawdads Sing. To me, it was a modern version of Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton Porter, which I enjoyed because I read it as a teenager in the late 1960s. As an adult, both books were just silly romances. I especially thought the way every problem was solved in Crawdads was dumb, especially the teeth braces and period products. I generally hate formulaic romances where the main character is always gorgeous and snags a hunk rather boring. My shorthand for them is Green Eyed Books, because the main character always has some very beautiful eye color, usually green but sometimes violet.

        1. Doc in a Box*

          Finally, someone else who hated Crawdads! I moved to NC around the time it was published, so I was like “Hey, ok, get to know my new state” but god I haaaated it. The final straw for me was when I realized that the only character who speaks in dialect is the one Black guy. Yeesh.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Lots of favorites, including Magpie Murders and Moonflower Murders. Well plotted, fun and the author manages to write a female narrator like he’s actually spoken to a woman before! Also enjoyed H Rider Haggard’s Cleopatra. He was quite good at combining “archaic” language with a good story so it isn’t bogged down “trying” to sound Of The Far Past, but instead contributes to the overall atmosphere.

      Unfavorites: all three of the new Christmas books I picked up. I try to add one or two new items to my reading every year, but all three were trite, and while readable enough, not something to go back to.

    6. Violet*

      I reread F D Lee’s The Pathways Tree series since book 4 just came out, and it remains my favorite series of all time. Fun, thought-provoking, and refreshing take on fairy tales, godmothers, myths, books, and magical creatures.

      Second place goes to The Kaiju Preservation Society and Starter Villain, both by John Scalzi.

      Ruth Ware’s Zero Days just didn’t seem as good as some of her older stuff. And her whole “buy this book at Target and get an exclusive chapter you can’t read anywhere else!” marketing strategy just kind of rubbed me the wrong way.

    7. Ali*

      Favorite: The Golden Enclaves, the final book in the Scholomance trilogy by Naomi Novik. Just wow on so many levels.

      Disappointed: Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim. It was so enjoyable for so much of the book, but because it kept promising that characters would develop and grow…and then NOBODY developed or grew at the end! But the author decided their interpersonal conflicts just vanished anyways, because…spring in Italy? It was so promising. Big let-down.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        Golden Enclaves is very, very good. Some people in fandom actually called the twist (and were rightfully flooded with OMG YOU WERE RIGHT comments once the book came out) but IMO Novik did a great job of hinting just enough that readers were stunned but not blindsided. Also major props for being one of the rare “moody but strong teenager” characters that I have deeply enjoyed. I find there to be a frustrating trope where a “strong female character” will sooner or later become so blindsided by her emotions that she loses all agency and is pushed along by the situation, and IMO Novik has done a great job of having a character who is strongly affected by upbringing & very much a teenage but also is able to dig deeper into herself and do the thing that needs doing despite that.

    8. Bluebell*

      I’ve posted a number of my 2023 faves in the last few weeks, so I’ll just put a few disappointments here. I DNFed them, because there are too many books I really want to read. I had high hopes for Half Blown Rose by Leesa Cross Smith but quit about half way through, but I enjoyed her novel Good Bye Earl. On Earth As It Is on Television had some rave reviews, but it was just too quirky for me. The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill may have been recommended here, but I found the story within a story annoying, and gave it up less than halfway through.

    9. EA*

      One of my favorites was The Queen’s Gambit which I picked up totally randomly and unexpectedly loved. I also finally started reading Brandon Sanderson and the whole Skyward series was just plain fun.

      Buggest disappointment was definitely Remarkably Bright Creatures. Not the worst book I read, but friends had put it as their favorite book of the year and hyped it up so much, and I just found it so predictable and kinda boring. It felt like the actual plot and annoying af main character were such a waste of the interesting idea of having the octopus POV.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        I kept going back to Goodreads to check the reviews, like “people did say this was good, right? Is there another Remarkably Bright Creatures and I grabbed the wrong one?” I truly don’t understand why it got so popular.

    10. Jamie Starr*

      Favorites: Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer and Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood

      Least Favorite: Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam. I detested this book: the characters, the “plot,” the writing style.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Oh I don’t remember much about Leave The World Behind except boredom. There was maybe something weird with animals at some point?

      2. k*

        Cat’s Eye is a long-time favourite of mine. Agree that Leave the World Behind was a disappointment. I watched the film first and thought that the concept would make for a great novel, but this was a case where the (just okay) film was better than the (bad) book.

    11. TechWorker*

      Never let me go is one of my favourite books of all time. I then read the remains of the day and absolutely hated it :)

    12. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Favourite: everything I went through last year by Patrick Radden Keefe (Rogues, Empire of Pain, and the Wind of Change podcast).

      Disappointment: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver. Way too dark, shambolic plot, nihilism that sometimes seems written in for shock value – I hated it all, despite the interesting premise of ritual deaths linked to a mysterious cult. It has so many rave reviews, including from people I trust, I’ve wondered whether I was the one missing a fundamental point.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Yes! Love Patrick Radden Keefe and the Wind of Change podcast was sooooo good! Did you read Say Nothing yet?

        1. Cookies For Breakfast*

          Not yet! I have The Snakehead on my shelf next, and will see if I can get Say Nothing at the library after that.

    13. RC*

      Greatly enjoyed: Murderbot, Scalzi (Kaiju Preservation Society and Starter Villain both), everything I’ve picked up from Octavia Butler, and the audiobook of Braiding Sweetgrass read by the author (I’d read-read it a couple years ago and re-“read” it and it’s still truly amazing and beautiful, maybe one of my favorite books ever).

      Absolutely hated: Lessons in Chemistry. Like, hated it so much, from like page 2, I was surprised by my own reaction to it and need to seek out others who felt the same because we’re decidedly the minority (I only finished because my mom had rec’d it). Also didn’t like The Love Hypothesis, to the point I DNF, even though I liked her other one (apparently I Simply Cannot with the premise that a tenured-ass professor is love-at-first-sighting a prospective grad student, ugh; the second one at least they were nominally the same career stage and they’d met outside of the university context). For completeness I also did not like Birnam Wood (just scrolling back through my borrowing history now, heh. Overall I generally like the things I check out, which makes the dislikes stand out even more!)

      1. Hypatia*

        Starter Villian was so fun! I got it for my teen guy who can be very picky about what he reads. I hoped the cat on the cover would intrigue him. He loved it- and so I read it and really enjoyed it too. It draws you in. is it sci-fi cozy? and a few more family members read it too. a great book for all ages.

        1. Lilo*

          As a woman with a chemistry degree, I find the “women in STEM are all on the spectrum” stereotype so very very frustrating (didn’t describe a single one of my classmates). As “Lessons in Chemistry” is yet another one of those it was just very, very frustrating. So I kept getting it recommended to me because “Lilo was a Chemistry major, she must love this.”

          1. RC*

            Yup that’s why my mom thought I’d like it. And yes I hate that stereotype (and the book was full of stereotypes/lazy shorthand for how she’s so much smarter than everyone… and also a random weird dig at vegetarians?) but it really lost me from page 2 where she has a throwaway line about how the air in southern California was “just cleaner back then” in the 60s (it FAMOUSLY was not, it’s LITERALLY why we have the Clean Air Act because it was so bad). Also the gratuitous rape shown in like Chapter 2. I’ve seen content warnings on books for far less than that.

            I also had a nice chat with a bio friend who pointed out that the human genome project wasn’t finished until like 2003, so yeah… anachronisms abound.

            I also also liked some review I saw that said the part where she says “this canned soup is all chemicals, don’t eat it” is what everyone hates about certain chemistry students and I could see that too. (Yes yes, EVERYTHING IS CHEMICALS).

            Clearly I could go on and on and on :)

          2. RC*

            Yep, same. I did have some good scientist chats about (how much we hated) it though. A biologist friend pointed out that the human genome project wasn’t even finished until 2003, and I can say that on p. 2 where she mentions “the air [in southern CA] was just cleaner back then” made my eyes roll out of my head, famously, FAMOUSLY it was not, it’s litttterally why we have the Clean Air Act. And “don’t eat canned soup because it’s all chemicals” is why everyone hates first-year chemistry majors, right? Also, random dig at vegetarians for no reason?

            Clearly I could go on and on :)

      2. Goldfeesh*

        Did your mom recommend it legitimately or because she hated it and wanted to gripe? My mom suckered me into reading The Road years ago because she hated it and didn’t get its hype. I finished the book on her recommendation and was like, “Why, Mom? What did you like about it?” She goes, “It was awful but I needed someone to talk about how terrible it was!” She got me good. :)

        1. RC*

          No, she legitimately liked it because the character was her own mom’s age, and also I’m a scientist so she was like “oh I think you’ll really like it.” …I maybe toned down how much I truly hated it when we talked about it, but I really hated it. It might be generational too. But jfc, even if you put aside all the lazy characterizations and inconsistencies… graphic sexual assault in like Chapter 2.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Reminds me of when Bernadette is Missing was The It Book a few years ago; it was a huge hit here in Seattle, where it’s set. I read it and–wasn’t whelmed, so to speak. It wasn’t badly written per se, but it was one of those “care about this character whose main problems are pretty much self-inflicted and never has to worry about money” and I got pretty impatient.

        1. Heffalump*

          Are you thinking of Where’d You Go, Bernadette? Nothing I heard about it made me want to read it. The Seattle connection wasn’t enough for me.

      4. Doc in a Box*

        Despised Lessons in Chemistry! I was a chemistry major in a very Old-Skool department (only one woman professor, and this was in the early 2000s) so I was intrigued by the premise of woman chemist beats The Patriarchy. But the writing was awful, the characterization was flat, the tone veered wildly between whimsy (that f’ing dog!) and dark (graphic sexual assault in like Chapter One, okaaaaay), and the ending was a deus ex machina! I don’t understand (1) how this was published and (2) how it got so much buzz that it became an Apple show!

        There are so many great stories of women scientists from the era (Lynn Margulis has entered the chat) that could have served as inspiration, instead of whatever that dribbling pap was. I genuinely think Lessons in Chemistry did more to derail efforts to get women in STEM since “Math is Hard” Barbie.

        1. RC*

          YEP. And random lady in her audience with 5 kids who always wanted to be an open heart surgeon (which I don’t think even existed until the 50s or so?) just like… does it? They apparently just… let her in? She was able to do that with all her caregiving responsibilities and dead weight husband? You just need to WILL yourselves past the patriarchy and everything is fine/also then you have a magic rich mother in law that fixes everything?

          I’ve seen a few obits since I read that book that I was like “wow, this would have been a way more compelling story, I want to know more about her.”

    14. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      My favourite was Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. I read it while on holiday at the sea and still think of it almost every time I hear seagulls now.

      My unfavourite was My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. I think I was just absolutely not the right audience for this book and that’s ok.

      1. Pittie Smitten*

        Oh, I’ve got Migrations on my TBR pile but I don’t know anyone who has read it! I’m so glad you enjoyed it now I must read it sooner rather than later!

        1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

          Oh you’re in for a treat! I knew I liked her writing because I also loved Once There Were Wolves but Migrations really resonated and stuck with me.

    15. Pittie Smitten*

      Favorite book of last year: I read A LOT so I have to pick at least 2 favorites.

      The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot: All the feels with this book. Grief, anger, laugh out loud moments and a beautiful friendship. Absolutely loved it.

      I also loved Razorblade Tears: Gritty, violent and just outstanding. This book will stay with me a long time. It introduced me to S.A. Cosby and I’ve loved everything of his that I have read.

      Disappointed: Eight Hundred Grapes: I personally cannot stand it when the entire premise of a book or a tv show is based on the fact that people do not communicate with each other. And there were so many instances of that in this book. I mean do people who aren’t estranged just never share anything major that will cause complete chaos and upend EVERYONE’S LIFE? It just kept happening over and over in this book and I cannot deal with that silliness. I only finished it as it was a book club read.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugh, Roger Ebert used to call those kinds of “never talk” movies Idiot Plots; that is, the story relies solely on the characters being idiots and never stating something plain and factual in a timely manner.

      2. allx*

        I adored Lenni and Margot. Such a wonderful story of love, friendship and multi-generation connection.

      3. Jackalope*

        There’s a book series that I finally stopped reading because the main character kept trying to have a conversation with her brother and he kept fleeing and this was an established thing over four or five books! It was a fantasy series and there was some reason they NEEDED to talk (they had complementary powers needed to save the world or something, don’t remember now), and he just couldn’t deal. For multiple books! It was fine at the beginning but eventually it was just beyond suspension of disbelief.

    16. Lily*

      I read quite a few books ta the very beginning and end of last year, but not that many stand out. A very pleasant surprise was A wizard’s guide to defensive baking which I checked out of the library thinking it was a cookbook (I had to delivered to my branch and there was no description on the app. It popped when I was looking for ”bake”). I’m not a fan of anything YA – ok, maybe this is aimed even younger – but it cheered me up tremendously when I was feeling very, very low. It’s close to Howl’s moving castle for me in the list of books to read when you’re feeling down.

      Also read Killing Eve, was nice. Read a book of collected ghost stories, some of which really stayed in my mind (like Clytie). The Winter Spirits collection was also really good.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking was the book Kingfisher couldn’t sell as Middle Grade (Which she usually publishes under Ursula Vernon, keeping her adult oriented books under the Kingfisher name) because it was too mature in its themes but couldn’t sell to anyone else because they wanted it to go even darker and grimmer. And now of course all the readers are having no issue giving it to their older kids or reading it themselves.

        I recommend just about everything she writes (Swordheart is still my favourite, though Baking is right up there), though be aware she has some outright horror novels as well. (thankfully pretty clearly marketed a such.)

    17. Lifelong student*

      I was given A Gentleman in Moscow. It was highly recommended by my friend and I have seen it on several lists being strongly praised. I found it boring and even though I almost never do this- put it down without finishing it.

      1. Lily*

        I liked A Gentleman in Moscow a lot, but the book is more mood than plot. I often pick it up and re-read parts of it when I’m feeling a bit low because I love how food and wine pairings almost turn into a plot point. But for such a thick book very little actually happens, and the main character is so word-y, it’s like he wishes he was in a Woodhouse novel. The Slavic names are also often incorrect, which really took me out of the mood a couple of times.

      2. word nerd*

        I found it boring for the first quarter/third or so and was very close to giving up on it, but it suddenly clicked for me and then I ended up really liking it.

    18. RussianInTexas*

      Favorite: Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson, about the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
      Runners up: Uber The Banner of Heaven By Jon Krakauer , Crisis in the Red Zone by Richard Preston, A Fever In The Heartland by Timothy Egan.
      The Running Girls by Matt Brolly. Weirdly, also set in Galveston, a murder mystery. The writer has never actually been in Texas at all, and the book of full of the factual errors about the island. Oh, and the main character walked a
      mile in the still coming 4ft deep storm surge.
      The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. Loved the premise, but the book was a slog, and had a lot more philosophy and religion than I want in my entertainment reading.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I also read and enjoyed all four of your favorite/runners up this year. :)

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        Ah the Years of Rice and Salt. that’s not the one where they are like Praise be to Allah we’ve invented calculus?

    19. Anon-E-Mouse*


      Thief Liar Lady by DL Saria (What if Cinderella was a con? A retelling of Cinderella after she snags the prince – with a political plot)

      The Lady Astronaut Series, starting with The Relentless Moon (Mary Robinette Kowal). What if a meteor triggered catastrophic global warming in the 1950s?

      The Ministry for the Future (Kim Stanley Robinson). A long “cli-fi” book exploring efforts in the near future to turn the tide against already-severe climate change. Tells the story, in short chapters from multiple perspectives, of how people cope with and try to shift the world toward a viable future. Very dark at the beginning and sometimes a bit of a slog but also imaginative, surprisingly funny at times and worth the investment in its thousand or so pages.

      1. GoryDetails*

        I liked Ministry for the Future as well; read it a couple of years back and was quite caught up in it.

    20. o_gal*

      The Wager, by David Grann. One where you know the ending, because history, but it’s fascinating seeing how they get there.

    21. GoryDetails*

      Favorite book – I never can choose just one, but if I had to, I’d probably go with (fiction category) “A Psalm for the Wild-Built” by Becky Chambers, as an all-around entrancing, feel-good read.

      Non-fiction – “Once Upon a Tome: The Misadventures of a Rare Bookseller” by Oliver Darkshire, quirky and hilarious.

      Audiobook: “The Gone-away World” by Nick Harkaway, speculative SF/mystery with a mix of humor and surreal subplots and – well, it’s hard to describe, and saying too much would spoil some of the delights, but I loved it.

      Greatest disappointments: Hmm. I’ve been pretty lucky in my choices, so I haven’t hit too many wildly-disappointing books. There was this one, which I started on audiobook and switched to text because I kept wanting to fast-forward – it’s easier for me to skim text than audio:

      “Where the Dead Wait” by Ally Wilkes. It’s inspired by actual Arctic expeditions, which featured incidents of starvation and cannibalism and summary execution – but in this fictionalized version, the survivor of one such expedition has the chance to try and redeem his tarnished reputation by going out to the Arctic again, in search of a fellow survivor whose own expedition is now lost. Sounded awesome, as I love both the historical accounts and a number of fictional versions – but this one turned out to be rather clunky, with the effective bits separated by a lot of repetitive and/or predictable ones.

      1. Forrest Rhodes*

        Major agreement re Once Upon a Tome! I love Darkshire’s wit and his descriptions of coworkers/customers. It often had me laughing so hard I had to set it aside and go do something else until pulse and respiration returned to normal levels.

    22. Old and Don't Care*

      I read some really good non-fiction this year; too tough to choose my favorite. So for fiction, favorite was Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I intensely disliked State of Wonder, and was surprised to find myself picking up Commonwealth, but she had me from the get-go there.

      Most disappointing was Babel. I was really looking forward to it, and even set aside a block of time when I could focus on it. So it was unfortunate that I disliked it so much. Show, don’t lecture.

      I loved, loved, loved A Gentleman in Moscow and Daisy Jones!!

      1. carcinization*

        I felt like Babel was really promising at the beginning, but it definitely did get to be a bit much!

        1. word nerd*

          Had the same reaction. Hooked immediately at first but then it went downhill from there, especially the second half.

      2. Sharp-dressed Boston Terrier*

        Sharp disagree on Babel, but I’m sure that’s because I’m about as a target audience as you can get for the book (i.e., radical lefty translator) and it spoke deeply to me. I am sorry you didn’t enjoy it!

      3. Hammish*

        Finally someone else that doesn’t think Babel was perfect! I thought the premise was super interesting but the story was all over the place in terms of pacing and the author was WAY too present.

        I also felt Yellowfacehad an interesting premise but the story was not at all well-executed.

    23. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      I can’t decide. I liked So Many Beginnings because I thought it was cool to have a historical fiction novel set near the Civil War from the viewpoint of the slave ( it says a Little Women remix but has little to do except for some fun nods)

      I also liked Sea of Tranquility because I like time travel.

    24. Yorick*

      I read a lot last year, here are some of my faves:
      The Wishing Game by Meg Shaffer
      The Only One Left by Riley Sagar
      Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
      Woman of the Year by Darcy Bell
      Yellowface by R.F. Kuang
      How Can I Help You by Laura Sims
      The Golden Spoon by Jessa Maxwell
      The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
      The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

      Everyone raved about Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, but I didn’t care enough to finish it.

    25. ampersand*

      Favorite: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen. Picked it up on a whim and was pleasantly surprised!

      Least Favorite: I have too many DNFs to list…I’m willing to start reading almost anything but life is too short to finish books I don’t like. That said–I started and finished the monstrosity that is Stephen King’s Fairy Tale, and dear lord it was at least a third too long and should have been two separate stories. I think he tried to do too much with this book. I don’t know why I finished it–sunk cost fallacy? Maybe I was hate-reading towards the end?

    26. WeatsideStory*

      I re-read I Capture The Castle every few years because it’s so wacky and charming. You might also like Something Light by Margery Sharp (if you can find it)

    27. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I find it very hard to pick an “absolute favorite” because I love so many books! That said:

      Most Favorite: the Chrestomanci series by Dianne Wynne Jones, the same person who wrote Howl’s Moving Castle. Highly recommend the lot. It’s a very fun interpretation of a lot of different fairytale/fantasy tropes.

      Least favorite: Brideshead Revisited. A more insufferable cast of characters you will never meet. According to the person who recommended it it’s a redemptive tragedy. I think all of them could have used a swift kick in the pants and a year or two working retail. The author’s prose is outstanding and he does a great job of visualizing the characters. But that’s about all I can say to it, and frankly DWJ above does no worse a job in a much more engaging book.

      1. word nerd*

        I <3 DWJ so much. Have you read Fire and Hemlock? I love her play with myths/fables and all the layers it has.

    28. carcinization*

      fave in the past year: Johnson’s The Space Between Worlds (I never recommend books to people, but would consider recommending this one because I liked it so much!)

      disappointment in the past year: Coate’s Gallows Hill (read this for book club, would not have picked it out for myself, I hate zombies so if the thing I liked most about a book was a zombie dog, we’re in trouble!)

    29. cleo*

      Favorites of 2023:

      Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H – memoir
      The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg – queer high fantasy


      Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin – I read this queer classic set in 1970s San Francisco for a reading challenge – I chose it because I’d heard that it was light and fun. Unfortunately, a couple subplots really, really didn’t age well and pretty much ruined my enjoyment.

    30. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t keep note of when I’ve read stuff so not sure if it was this year or last or what, but Kevin Curren’s Youth really didn’t work for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a secondary school teacher, but the amount of focus on the sex lives of teenagers made me a bit uncomfortable (reading detailed sex scenes with characters barely of age is not my thing) and also seemed a bit like he was trying to be “edgy”. Like “look who gritty and realistic I’m being here.”

      And it also didn’t really delve into the things I was really interested in and which were mentioned on the back cover, like whether the character who was determined to be the first in her family to go to college actually achieved that (I didn’t finish it but flicked to the end to see if that was answered and…I couldn’t find it) or whether the kids skating around on the edge of trouble ended up getting involved in crime, arrested, etc.

    31. Name Under Development*

      My daughter gave me The Covenant of Water for Christmas and I loved how the author tied the disparate plot lines together. The ending took my breath away

    32. Biology Dropout*

      Oooh just catching up and love this thread. I read a lot, so hmmmm.

      A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
      The CatNet books by Naomi Kritzer
      The Marvellers books by Dhonielle Clayton

      Most disappointing:
      The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

      1. RC*

        FWIW, I think I liked Helen Hoang’s second and third books better. I thought the third one (the one about the violinist, title is escaping me) had a lot of really powerful stuff about caregiving and burnout… it read like a few books I’ve read recently where the author clearly went through some things in covid-times and I appreciate seeing that on the page (in a way that’s not entirely depressing). Or maybe I’m projecting :)

    33. Lenora Rose*

      Probably Martha Wells’ Witch King. I mean, I love Murderbot and this year’s was a good ‘un, but Witch King scratched that itch dead on.

      If not that, then probably Paladin’s Faith, a book I read as “Oh, thank god Kingfisher has a new book out, I just had some horrible stuff happen” but snuck up and punched me in the gut in some fragile spots. Alas (or not) you have to read the first three Paladin Books to get the most out of this one, but I feel like this one kicks the series as a whole up a notch. And I already liked the series.

      A lot of also enjoyed, or which I mostly want to mention Suzanne Palmer’s Finder, and Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series.

      Biggest Disappointment:
      Easily Alan Moore’s Providence, a graphic novel. Basically Alan Moore does Lovecraft, with all the attendant flaws of both. Moore is too often treated as a genius, especiallya fter Watchmen, and yet he puts some pretty venal and non-brilliant tics and fetishes – and I do mean fetishes – on display in every work. I think he’s bought far too deeply into his own “I am the man who reinvented Comics, I am the Brilliant Destroyer of Commercialism” publicity. Meanwhile, his main character is a walking closeted gay stereotype who is clueless beyond reason, his meta “I think we’d all try to justify the horrible things happening” commentary in the diary is way too twee, female characters are only there for sex, rape, or motherhood, and the only, very few, non-white people are exoticized parts of the background (except S.T. Joshi, if only because he’s a real person, but he’s only in the very last chapter anyhow).

      The artist Jacen Burrows did an amazing job, FWIW.

  3. Australia Travel Questions*

    We’re thinking of traveling from the US to Australia in late February/early March & thought the wonders AAM readers would have some tips and insight
    1. Feb/March is our best window for travel. Will it be too hot still? Especially in Darwin?
    2. Is 14 days long enough to see the SouthEast part (Sydney, Melbourne Victoria, Adelaide); add Darwin, Tasmania, Kangaroo Island? 18 days? What would you eliminate?
    3. Would it be a mistake to miss the Great Barrier Reef? Brisbane? Canberra? We’re not divers or big snorkelers
    4. What are your must-see and off the beaten path places?
    5. Is the Ghan Train from Darwin to Adelaide worth it? If so, should we take the small plane excursion to Uluru?
    6. Not excited to drive on the opposite side of the road. Will we really need to rent cars?

    1. oh, crap*

      How hot is too hot? And, what specifically do you want to see? What is it about the cities that attracts you? Coming from north America, I think the major attraction of Australia is the wilderness – so different and amazing. I notice that you’re completely missing national parks. There’s something about watching the kangaroos bounce off that makes you aware you’re somewhere completely different. But if you go from Darwin to Adelaide, definitely stop in Coober Pedy. that place is weird and I loved it. I also loved the rainforest on the NE side of QLD. I would also go for as long as you can, unless you’re extremely resistant to jet lag. It would take me a week just to feel semi-human, after being on a plane for 16 to 20 hours.

      1. Australia Travel Questions*

        Thank you so much for your insight. Yes, we’re in the “what the what,” inquiry stages (Feb/Mar next year) and neglected to focus on nature-which would be a priority for us. Thought about things near the cities for travel but that seems to be the wrong focus. Would love to include national parks more than city tours.
        Hot to us is 88 degrees F.

        1. Owlette*

          Temperature can definitely vary but February in Sydney has days over 95f pretty regularly, I’d aim for March if you can. Or maybe start in Tassie hitting the more northern parts as late as possible

    2. Owlette*

      Australian here! I’ll do some answers but I think it really depends on what type of travel you like – constantly moving or slow paced exploration.

      Feb/March – you could definitely still expect some days over 40 degrees C on the East coast in February, March would be more mild. As for Darwin, I have heard summer is very very humid and most people travel there in winter but again depends on your tolerance for those things (and haven’t gone in summer myself)

      18 days Darwin to Tasmania would be A LOT. I’d eliminate Darwin personally. Kakadu national park is definitely AMAZING but it’s a long way out of the way on a short trip and you need a few days up there to do it justice. Also see weather. Or if Kakadu is a must then cut off the other side of the country – Adelaide or Tassie

      Canberra – I love Canberra, my parents live there but it wouldn’t be in my top 10 tourism recommendations, skip without guilt.

      Must-see: I adore the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney – the three sisters, Leura. But I am biased from living there.

      Uluru is stunning, truly something that photos don’t do justice to but again a long way out of the way so need to balance need vs time expenditure. I have been on the Ghan just the Darwin to Adelaide part and didn’t love it but maybe I’m just not a train person.

      Car rental: again this will really depend on your style of travel. Just doing the main tourist points in major cities then fly between? You’ll be fine on public transport. Want to wind your way down the coast? Sure there’s a bus but it’ll take FOREVER

      1. Australia Travel Questions*

        Thank you so much for your insider tips. Sounds like we need to do pare down our places: the country is so big. We’ll look into the nature aspect more now. Thanks

        1. Owlette*

          In which case I’ll add more weight to my Blue Mountains recommendation. Great bush walks around the area, some gorgeous swimming holes. Would likely be pretty hot in February but nice in March

          1. Healthcare Worker*

            when I went to Autralia over 20 years ago the Blue Mountains were absolutely one of my favorite places to see!

        2. Despairingly unemployed*

          Yeah it’ll be rainy season in the Top End at that time and a lot of places/attractions could be closed (I worked in Kakadu for a bit). It’s definitely, definitely worth checking out but will agree you’re better off paring down to your top 3 places to visit (this time around). Seconding skipping Canberra guilt-free, so many other worthwhile places to see first!

      2. ghost_cat*

        Another Australian here and second a lot of this. I live in Canberra and while it’s nice city to live in, there is much that is the same as to what you can find around the world or indeed other Australian cities, e.g. nice places to eat, nice museums etc.

        I also lived in Queensland for many years and am a bit ‘meh’ about it. But that’s because I’m not a snorkeler or diver, so the Great Barrier Reef is a miss. Sure, there are superb beaches, but I’d argue that beaches in south NSW are great, such as Merimbula or Pambula. February you’re likely to get stinky weather, March less so.

        I’d suggest that you should visit the places that make Australia unique and that, in my opinion, are the national parks. And I think you need to decide between Darwin/NT and Tasmania as you don’t have enough time for both.

        Sydney is lovely and has many of its own day walks, if that’s what you like. South Heads (including around the lighthouse) and North Heads (albeit a little more road walking) are superb. I also enjoyed the Manly walk to Spit Bridge. Blue Mountains is easily reachable by train and walking there is sublime, with many of the walks easily reachable by public transport or the hop on/off bus. The Royal National Park is also worth a look-in. Melbourne is in my view, more urban than Sydney (e.g. for liveability, I’d live in Melbourne over Sydney), but it does have the Great Ocean Road. Easily done by an organised day trip or you could drive, although I’d suggest a train to Geelong so that you avoid the Westgate Bridge and Melbourne’s local rules for driving amongst trains.

        Tasmania is gorgeous, but a car is best here. Also lots of walks to lovely waterfalls etc, but some historical aspects such as Port Arthur and small zoos will give you a chance to get close to animals such as wallabies and Tasmanian devils. Also, you have the penguins at Bicheno. So much choice.

        NT is in a class of its own. This will give you your best opportunity to easily see culturally significant sites, and in my experience, this was more easily done via organised day trips, albeit that they made it more expensive. Definitely advocate for the day trip for the Jumping Crocodile tour. But don’t underestimate the time it takes to get between places and the fact there is not much to see in-between. I’m not sure I’d advocate for Adelaide unless you have time to spend there and go see places like Kangaroo Island.

        Happy planning!

    3. Kaleidoscope*

      nope, way too much stuff going on there. cut down to your absolute must see and must do. also, if you are driving at all it will take you way longer than you think it will to get to your destination (for stops/photos etc).

      can’t help with Aus specifically as I’m over the ditch in NZ.

      1. Melissa*

        g’day, another Aussie here and I agree that you’re trying to pack a lot in! Australia is big and you’ll be spending most of your time on planes/in cars if you aim for Darwin to Kangaroo Island via Tasmania. I’d personally skip Qld and Darwin – it will be hot and humid and, while Darwin is interesting, it’s a long way to go to see a small country town and the outback (you’ll see both on the east coast). I also agree to skip Canberra unless you’re super interested in government and history and art. My first suggestion, though, is to google travel times between all your planned destinations because that will give you some ideas about what can and can’t be done.

        1. Australia Travel Questions*

          Thanks again for another Aussie perspective. I’m already learning a lot from comments and will definitely pare down the itinerary. Hub loves trains so I was trying to fit that in, but it sounds like that might not work. Thanks

      2. works with realtors*

        I’m going to piggyback this question and ask you as a Kiwi – what’s the best excursion there? I’d love to plan a trip to Australia, then New Zealand (coming from the US) one day.

        1. Melissa*

          I’m the same Aussie but I lived in NZ for a while – the south island is so beautiful, especially Milford sound. And then Wellington, Auckland and the Northern beach towns are lovely too.

        2. Kaleidoscope*

          it depends how long you’ve got. if you’re only here for a short time – just do one island. probably south island, and probably some kind of loop from and back around to Christchurch.

          if you’re here for longer, you could do some of the south island and some of the north island. there are a few tourist trains that take you from Wellington to Auckland or down some of the south island.

          less is definitely more. we did a road trip two years ago in 2.5 weeks and we jad to pare it back significantly because driving took longer than planned. we ended up doing 1 thing a day (like a 3 hour walk) or 2 shorter things a day (am and pm).

    4. RMNPgirl*

      I second the recommendation of Bryson’s “In a Sunburned Country.”

      As an American who rented a car in Australia and drove from Sydney to Brisbane, it’s actually not as difficult as you may think. Oddly, you actually end up going too far to the left sometimes because you’re used to the rest of the car being to the right of you when centering in the lane. Reversing can be a bit hard but we figured out that by putting our head out the window and watching the wheels when backing up helped us turn the wheel the correct way.
      I think the hardest part was that the windshield wipers and turn signals are opposite. But funny enough, both my mom and I screwed up those in our own cars when we got back to the US!

      If you go down to Melbourne, I strongly recommend going to Phillip Island and seeing the little penguins. My mom and I did that on our second night after a 15 1/2 hour flight from LA to Melbourne and we both agreed that if we had to fly back to the US the next day it would have been worth it.

      1. Australia Travel Questions*

        Thank you. I’d read about the penguin parade and good to hear it’s worth it. And that the driving on the other side isn’t too hard.

      2. Helewise*

        Haha, we lived in Japan for a couple years where driving is on the left as well, and I mixed up my turn signals and windshield wipers for YEARS after moving back to the States!

    5. WS*

      Australian here! If you go to big tourist places and national parks, there will absolutely be transport you can book ahead. If you like making your own way around, cars are necessary except between big cities and in the middle of big cities.

      Feb/March can be very hot or quite cool, it’s very changeable. You might get a day over 40C, it might be pleasant and in the 20s.

      Darwin will be in the low 30s and rainy that whole time. If you like trains the Ghan is a great one – my dad is a train enthusiast and my parents took it in 2023. Uluru is something you can see nowhere else (and very well set-up for tourists without cars) so I would put that on the top of your itinerary. If you like history, inner Sydney is best set up for that. If you like art or military history go to Canberra, but if that’s not high on your list don’t worry. The Great Barrier Reef is amazing but best appreciated on the water, so if you’re not into that, go to some other national parks instead! Pretty much all of them are very different to anywhere else in the world, so you’re going to enjoy them.

    6. sockless giraffe*

      Also, make sure you get to a grocery store and buy TimTams and Mint Slices. Both are cookies.

    7. Part time lab tech*

      So you like nature, not fussed about snorkelling, 14-18days in Feb/March above 88F/31C feels hot and your husband likes trains.
      Firstly above tropic of Capricorn is going to be the Wet season so maybe skip Darwin and Queensland unless you really want to do the whole Ghan. I suggest aiming for March rather than Feb too. It’s in the middle of term 1 here so you might even score some off peak discounts. A car or tour is better for national parks.
      Caveat I am from Perth so can’t give too much specific advice for the Eastern states but have visited both Tasmania and South Australia. Generally public transport is ok to good in state capitals and rubbish otherwise although there are trains and coaches between certain regional centres.
      Fly into Sydney or Melbourne, then onto Uluru. Maybe a full day tour, including a dawn or dusk meal (The light changing has gorgeous reviews) Optional extra day looking at other tourist things or resting.
      Fly to
      Adelaide/SA Suggestions: pub and church architecture, Victor Harbour, Flinders Ranges, Barossa Valley (wine and food), Mt Gambier (newest Australian volcano/ blue lake). Kangaroo Island, Murray River or Wetland cruise somewhere.
      Catch Overland train or drive to Melbourne.
      If Tasmania is your choice, I agree hiring a car is best. I find the temperate rainforest so beautiful. Also lots of food and craft stuff. I think we enjoyed pick you own cherries and berries.
      I would spend 3 or 4 days in Sydney or Melbourne, rather than try and do both.
      Have fun choosing your itinerary. Uluru is desert, Adelaide has a Mediterranean climate, Tasmania is cool temperate an Sydney is warm temperate. The landscapes are so different and all uniquely magnificent.

    8. Part time lab tech*

      So you like nature, not fussed about snorkelling, 14-18days in Feb/March above 88F/31C feels hot and your husband likes trains.
      Firstly above tropic of Capricorn is going to be the Wet season so maybe skip Darwin and Queensland unless you really want to do the whole Ghan. I suggest aiming for March rather than Feb too. It’s in the middle of term 1 here so you might even score some off peak discounts. A car or tour is better for national parks.
      Caveat I am from Perth so can’t give too much specific advice for the Eastern states but have visited both Tasmania and South Australia. Generally public transport is ok to good in state capitals and rubbish otherwise although there are trains and coaches between certain regional centres.
      Fly into Sydney or Melbourne, then onto Uluru. Maybe a full day tour, including a dawn or dusk meal (The light changing has gorgeous reviews) Optional extra day looking at other tourist things or resting.
      Fly to
      Adelaide/SA Suggestions: pub and church architecture, Victor Harbour, Flinders Ranges, Barossa Valley (wine and food), Mt Gambier (newest Australian volcano/ blue lake). Kangaroo Island, Murray River or Wetland cruise somewhere.
      Catch Overland train or drive to Melbourne.
      If Tasmania is your choice, I agree hiring a car is best. I find the temperate rainforest so beautiful. Also lots of food and craft stuff. I think we enjoyed pick you own cherries and berries.
      I would spend 3 or 4 days in Sydney or Melbourne, rather than try and do both.

    9. Panda*

      In Sydney and Melbourne you can stick to public transport if you stay near train stations or in the CBD area. But it does limit you in terms of where you can go conveniently, especially when you factor in the hot weather. When it’s 40 degrees C it is a struggle for a lot of people to walk even 5 mins to the train or bus station.

      Australia is a massive country and I would stick to two, max three cities in 2 weeks. Otherwise you’re spending a huge chunk of time checking in and out of various hotels and traveling to different places. Again, in the heat of summer, this is going to dramatically affect your enjoyment of the trip.

      A word on the heat- I don’t know where you live and maybe you’re used to hot weather. But Australia gets HOT. When I lived there even walking two minutes outside felt like I was baking in an oven.

      If you are interested in exploring a country head to toe I recommend New Zealand instead. If you land in Auckland and rent a car once you leave the city the roads are not busy and it’s truly stunning. It won’t be as hot either!

      1. Australia Travel Questions*

        Thanks so much. Will late Feb into early March still be unbearably hot in many places? We did visit New Zealand a few years ago & just loved it.
        Australia is just so big it’s been so helpful to hear all the suggestions to help me get a handle on it & REALLY pare down our itinerary.

        1. Quandong*

          If 2025 is a year where the weather patterns tend to push temperatures to record highs (like 2019), there may be days that feel unbearable to you in March – especially if you’re walking in cities with lots of hot surfaces.

          Late February can still have some days that are above your preferred temperature.

          1. Quandong*

            Sorry, I mixed up the months! Late February tends to be quite hot in Queensland, and March may still feel hot to you too.

    10. MeetMoot*

      Yet another Australian weighing in:
      – skip Canberra
      – I personally think you do need to rent a car. You won’t need it for inner city Sydney or Melbourne but for everywhere else (particularly scenic spots) outside those cities you simply won’t get there without one.
      – Australia is a diverse continent. If you’re not likely to come here again then pick the spectacular scenery over hidden gems. Tbh while Sydney and Melbourne are cool, they’re just cities.

    11. Tasmanian Fan*

      Hello! Sydney Australian here! The Blue Mountains outside of Sydney are definitely beautiful, Katoomba and Echo point as well as scenic world.
      But – I just got back from an 8 day trip to Tasmania and it was beautiful. I did a tour (with Intrepid) for about a week and it was mostly driving around and walking, and it was stunning. Highlights were Cradle Mountain, Bay of Fires, Wine Glass Bay, and then lots of rainforest national parks in the north east. Most of these places had minimal public transport so you’d want to either drive or book some kind of tour to drive for you.

      Tasmania was much cooler than Sydney, and the Blue Mountains will be cooler too.

    12. Quandong*

      I’m Australian and live in Queensland, and agree with other posters about making nature the focus of your travels rather than cities.

      My suggestions for if it may be your only trip here:
      – do what you can to see Uluru, it’s very different to experience it in person compared with video or photos
      – allow time to be at Uluru more than once, especially in changing weather and light

      – I highly recommend Kuranda Skyrail if you decide to visit North Queensland
      – there’s a scenic railway journey between Cairns and Kuranda too which is a little less than 2 hours’ long (Kuranda Scenic Railway)
      – it’s possible to travel between Brisbane and Cairns by rail but would take one entire day, so probably skip it unless you extend your holiday

      If you like the Skyrail / forest cable-car idea there might be some others in the southern states, I hope you can find them easily online.

      – Islands off the coast of South East Queensland are exquisite and not all just about the snorkelling and swimming, but forests and lakes and wildlife too
      – K’gari and Minjerribah are my favourites
      – K’gari is further from Brisbane with fewer public transport options for getting there

      If you like seafood it’s worth finding out the best restaurants and local favourites wherever you go. When I visit my friends in Tasmania the fresh seafood is wonderful.

      I think everything will just take you longer if you want to travel without driving, especially when you’re making a journey connecting by train, bus and/or ferry. It’s worth checking whether there are sections of your holiday where a taxi or Uber could save time without being prohibitively expensive.

        1. Heffalump*

          IMO it’s not a bad thing to know a bit of the history of a place you visit. The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes is a good history of Australia’s origins as a penal colony.

    13. Loz*

      To give some perspective to the other replies about cutting it down:
      I am Australian and over the last few years have done 10-15 days *each* in Tas, Queensland, NSW, Darwin/NT, Flinders Ranges in SA in a self-drive camper/4wd. Each time I had to cut stuff out and put it on the “come back in my own car with more time” list. Literally months of more time in most cases as you need to be mobile to do the outdoors of Oz justice.
      Uluru is probably the only one worth just a few days – a bit more if you drive out to some of the surrounding areas of interest. (Alice Springs is almost 300 miles/5 hours away in case you think of that as a “surrounding area”).
      I’d do the small plane thing in Uluru, Flinders Ranges (you should go I think) and a few other places. It’s a great way to see the landscape – better than the ground. I’d also do the Ghan as a bucket list item.
      TLDR: You need more time.

    14. Adelaidian*

      You’ve got some wonderful advice for elsewhere in the country, but as South Australian, I wanted to jump in with a vote for my city, and because I hadn’t seen our arts festivals mentioned yet!

      February/March is a great time to visit Adelaide if you are interested in the arts, since both Adelaide Fringe and Adelaide Festival are on at that time of year. That does mean that accommodation can be more expensive and busier though, so if arts festivals (or car races) aren’t of interest, then potentially not the best time for a visit. The city is incredibly vibrant at that time of the year though.

      Adelaide can also get very hot in summer (we’re forecast for 105F tomorrow), particularly in early February, so slightly later works better if you aren’t a fan of the heat.

      Public transport is good in the metro area, but you’ll need either a car or organised tours for elsewhere in the state. You can get to many of our beautiful beaches by public transport, and there are regular tours to fantastic wineries in the Barossa, McLaren Vale and Adelaide Hills wine regions if that’s of interest. The Flinders Ranges is also beautiful if you want to see the more rugged outback landscapes, and there are tour operators travelling there too.

  4. Always Tired*

    I think I’m just about max’d out on fiber arts. I knit, weave, sew, embroider, dye fabrics and yarn, and know how to spin with both a drop spindle and a wheel, have tried and failed crochet and tatting, and am too intimidated by bobbin lace. What other fiber related craft skills are left to try? (Also do you do any, listed or not, and what are you working on?)

    1. Ranon*

      Well, there’s felting, kind of technically paper making…

      Textile Center of Minnesota has all kinds of classes, even if you aren’t local to it might be a source of ideas.

    2. Striving for quarter-inch seams*

      Quilting is my only fabric-related hobby. I tried it years ago and got intimidated but started fresh during 2020 and gave myself permission to make mistakes and to do simple things that pleased me even if they weren’t useful or pretty to anyone but me. Tons of mistakes and a goodly number of happy accidents later, I am still having fun, feeling more confident in myself and comfortable with not striving for someone else’s ideal. There are no quilt police and everyone has well-used seam rippers. All the fabric sets you mentioned could be incorporated into quilting as well if you like the idea of fusion.

      1. Fat Quarters*

        When you hear the word “quilting” you usually just think about quilted blankets for beds. Admittedly, usually beautiful blankets that are suitable to use on the top of your bed (and that can be displayed hung on a wall or from a quilt stand), but there are lots of other kinds of quilts, too. Other kinds of quilts that you can make are smaller items such as throws, place mats, table runners, smaller tapestry-like wall hangings. I find blanket-size quilts a bit unwieldy and difficult to work on because of their size and recommend doing smaller sized things.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      -Sprang netting (my first project is sitting unfinished in a closet.)
      -regular netting (never tried it)
      -nalbinding (I think it’s like knitting?)
      -hand twisted cordage and thread (gonna try it some day)
      -collecting wild fiber (I once collected nettle, which was probably too old, and blackberry, which was super easy to harvest.)
      -fingerloop braiding (I made some nice cords for a cape)
      -basketry is sort of related?

    4. Turtle Dove*

      Does macrame count? My daughter made a few dozen lovely plant hangers, and she learned how from YouTube videos. I’ve been impressed and might try it myself, especially if I can add pretty beads. I’ve seen some gorgeous macrame wall hangings too.

      Lately I’m into hand mending, which I find meditative and satisfying. And I may set up my sewing machine soon and tailor some silk blouses I love.

      1. acmx*

        Thanks for posting specifically about macrame for plant hangers! I’m considering relearning to make one (or more). :)

        1. Turtle Dove*

          You’re welcome! It’s on my radar too. I have three matching hangers in mind for three ceiling hooks in my dining room.

    5. Charlotte Lucas*

      Have you tried pin looms? They were apparently very popular in the first half of the 20th century. When arthritis kept my grandmother from crocheting, she gave me all her yarn and tools. A pin loom was in it, and I took a class to learn to use it a few years ago. They are extremely portable.

    6. Lizzie (with the deaf cat)*

      Nuno felting combines organza and wool fibres, for some stunning results, and then there’s needle felting for making animals etc which might appeal to you!

    7. office hobbit*

      Hairpin lace. Tunisian crochet is different enough from normal crochet that I’ll mention it. Dyeing can be a big big world, not sure how far you’ve explored it (shibori, batik, natural dyes). If you spin from roving, then processing a fleece yourself (washing, carding) would be another skill. Spinning different fibers (esp cellulose, like flax from a distaff) would be quite different if you mainly do wool. Do you include needlepoint (the hundreds of stitch patterns) in embroidery, or things like hardanger lace? Inkle loom weaving would be distinct as well. Seconding macrame and nalbinding.

    8. Rekha3.14*

      Sashiko (though perhaps falls under embroidery), kumihimo (a Japanese weaving, for things like obijime), shibori or yuzen style dying?

      I do not do any of those but can appreciate them (I can wear kimono, so that’s why it came to mind).

      cross stitch is the only one I do, and not often enough… I want to learn more about embroidery and visible mending. I find it so charming.

    9. Sewing is enormous*

      What do you mean by sewing? I ask because there’s a million and one types of sewing and I find them very different. I come originally from the quilting world and have gotten in to sewing clothing with jersey more recently–totally different animal. I’ve picked up some sport fabrics, as well, so I can do my own sport clothes for my theoretical sport hobby. And I’m working on an English paper piecing quilt in my off time.

      So anyway, would picking up some sewing with different kinds of fabric work? Silk? A crazy tulle dress with a million layers? Active wear? Reupholstering something? Just a thought.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        The reupholstery comment got me thinking – when I’m getting a bit bored, I switch off between sewing/altering clothing to doing more household improvement sewing projects. Upholstery remnants + old bed pillows became a couple of floor pillows, and the rest of the fabric went to a cover for a papasan cushion. I’ve made some theme and seasonal pillow covers for throw pillows from faux fur. I once made covers for TV tray tops to practice putting in elastic at the corners. Have also done costume elements and messenger bags of various materials like denim and upcycled leather (with various levels of success) just to try it. I’ve found it helps with inspiration.

    10. GingerSheep*

      You could try tablet weaving! It’s easy enough to get quickly started on simple patterns, but the complexity of the turns on higher level pattern can make the craft as challenging as you like. As you’re weaving thin bands progress is relatively fast, and there is no need for expensive equipment – you can get started with a simple pack of playing cards and a hole punch!

      1. Mrs. Pommeroy*

        Seconding tablet weaving!
        It’s a bit confusing in the beginning but generally easy enough, quick results, cheap to just try out, and as complex as you eventually might want.

    11. Queer Earthling*

      I do miniature sewing for dolls! I like hand-sewing and it’s fun to do a little project while I’m watching TV, and be done with it in a day or two, depending on the project and the size of the doll. You could grab a Barbie or a Monster High or a Walmart 18-inch Not-American-Girl doll and find a zillion patterns online if that’s of interest.

    12. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      Have you tried needle felting? It’s quite therapeutic making little wool sculptures essentially by repeated stabbing!

      I spin a lot, and generally always have some sort of spinning project on the go. I’m currently finishing off knitting a baby blanket as a gift, should be trying to complete a lace shawl, need to crochet some more flowers, and I’m working on the toile for an extra special dress.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I knit and crochet, and I theoretically know how to spin and weave (I’ve successfully done both in the past but don’t have the equipment to do them now, barring an inkle loom that’s still in its box), and I occasionally cross stitch. I can sew clothing and could probably fumble my way through a simple quilt, but I don’t much enjoy it. Mostly I knit and crochet.

      Currently I am working on the middle panel of a Burridge Lake Aran afghan that I first started like eleven years ago. I bought enough yarn for the two outside panels at the time, and the colorway has subsequently been discontinued, so after I finished the second outside panel on New Year’s Eve, I started working on the middle panel on a different color, but some of the “vines” in the cablework are in the leftover yarn from the outside panels, and I’m hoping that will help pull the whole thing together. (Plus multi-colored cabling looks super cool.) My goal is to finish it before Memorial Day, because I won’t want to be knitting on a blanket in the summertime and if I put it away for the summer there’s no telling if I’ll get it back out in the fall or if it will go back into oblivion. :-P

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Also, this is sort of fabric-crafty — I make tugs for my dogs out of fleece, by knotting fleece strips together in the square-braid fashion we used to make lanyards and keychains and such out of using flat plastic lacing at church camp when I was wee.

        I have 180 pounds of dog, collectively, so each tug lasts usually 4-6 weeks before it’s falling apart or otherwise not as safe as I’m comfortable with, but we haven’t found anything else that they like to tug with as well that doesn’t fray and that isn’t so hard I worry about someone or something get damaged when one of them is playing with it solo and starts flinging it around. So I get fleece in two-yard lengths when JoAnn’s has it on doorbuster sale, I don’t even care what the pattern or color is because it’s going to be cut into 4″ wide strips and knotted up, and every few weeks I whack together a couple of tugs :) They watch me knot them with great interest, because they know that as long as they don’t try to steal it before I’m done with it, they’re getting a new toy soon. Super cute.

    14. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      That is so cool! I’m a beginner crocheted, been 1 year hooking so far. Just 4 rows from finishing my most ambitious project yet, a ripple blanket for my coworker’s baby. Then I need to block it and sew in the ends, give me strength….

    15. WorkingRachel*

      How about tufting? I’m not sure what the startup costs are for doing it at home, but it’s having a bit of a moment in my city and it looks fun!

      I like fiber arts, especially when they are repetitive and meditative. Right now I’m crocheting a piece of fabric that is just straight double crochet–it could be a baby blanket, or maybe I’ll just frog it eventually.

      1. And thanks for the coffee*

        I was too brief in my reply.

        What is your objective? To try everything? To find what you love? To make things to sell or to give as gifts?

        I absolutely love quilting because of the design possibilities and I enjoy doing what it takes to make them. I love knitting because it is relaxing for me because of repetition. For a short while I had a booth at an every Sunday artisan event. I realized that I wanted to make what I wanted to make vs. what customers might want to buy and how much they were willing to spend.

        My advice is to find what you love and fill your life with fiber goodness.

    16. fposte*

      I have no interest in taking on a fabric hobby, but I am fascinated by how many I’d never heard of and how cool they look! That’s a thing I just love about crafts in general.

    17. Deb*

      Have you considered chair caning? It can be learned by youtube and it’s fun antiquing to find chairs needing seat bottoms. There are very few people who do this and it can cost up to $2 a hole to get your chair repaired, which means you would spend several times the value of the chair to get it redone. In my area you can find chairs to work on for very little ($15) because no one in the area canes and if you found someone it would be cost prohibitive.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This is a timely suggestion for me in many ways. I have more than one caned chair that someone sat on carelessly…

    18. Improv Quilting*

      Improv quilting might be something to explore—freedom from perfection, explore your curiosity. Sherri Lynn Wood has an annual free improv quilting class. This year is all about ‘found color’, discovering the colors that are important to you—not your typical color wheel theory. Here’s the workshop info and signup page. The live version was at the beginning of January, but you’ll get access to the replay.


    19. Girasol*

      I do flat felting mostly of hats. It’s great fun. You start with a bag of wool just as it comes from a sheared sheep and end up with a felt hat: sun hat, wizard’s peak, fedora, any shape. Takes me about four hours, two for picking the wool (usually while listening to an audiobook) and two to make. You can do vests and boots and I once saw someone who had felted a whole blazer-type jacket all of a piece, no seams at all. (Can’t find raw wool? That’s the hard part. Try 4H or the state fair.)

      1. glowyrm*

        I’ve never heard of this, thanks Girasol! Can you suggest any online tutorial or book for this?

        1. Girasol*

          I learned it in a primitive skills workshop. This youtube looks most like the method I use, but different people do it differently and there’s more than one right way. So you might google “flat felting a hat” and “wet felting a hat” to see some different techniques.


        2. Girasol*

          My answer disappeared. Maybe the link got flagged. Try googling “felting Rosemary Wells.” Her style looks most like what I learned. But also google “flat felting hat” and “wet felting hat.” Techniques vary quite a bit and you might want to see several examples from different felters.

    20. Wireknitter*

      Have you gone into sub-specialties of some of your favorites? One year all of my knitting was “nerd” knitting-a tardis, a dalek, Lord of the Rings wall-hanging of the Doors of Durin, Embreon, power-up mushroon, Tree of Gondor sweater. I even designed a Portal themed blanket. There was lots more, so fun!

      Now I’m doing paper piecing quilting (American paper piece, not British). fandominstitches dot com is a great place for free patterns, and a fun rabbit hole just to look for amazing things. There are some really good tutorials on the site as well. I found the site after stumbling upon a photo of the “Not all who Wander are Lost” quilt. I sent the photo to my daughter who responded “when are you making it for me?” I had never even heard of paper piecing and when I downloaded a single pattern block, had no idea what to do with it. I learned it through tutorials, and ended up making a wall-hanging for my daughter. She chose her 9 favorites and got a 3×3 a small quilt. Their Facebook page has lots of content, with photos of completed quilts as well as the blocks.

    21. peanut butter*

      well, I’m a knitter, but having noticeable arthritis in my thumb I can’t knit for more than an hour or two a day, which is unfortunate because my queue is three sweaters + the one I’m working on. and some socks. if anyone has hints on how to hold needles with thumb a4thri5, I’d be appreciative.

    22. Maotseduck*

      I knit and crochet. Mostly knit. Right now I’m working on a diagonal garter scarf. But I also have a wine cosy, a shawl, and a blanket in process.

      How into knitting have you gotten? I’ve really been wanting to learn brioche knitting but haven’t found the motivation. There’s also lace knitting, illusion knitting, the jump to knitting socks. So many things you can do with the same basic skill.

    23. HamlindigoBlue*

      I only knit and crochet, but I bought a couple of cross stitch kits and a punch needle kit. I haven’t started any of those yet, but they look fun.

      I’m working on a mosaic afghan crochet blanket right now (Sholach pattern). I started it in October, and I’m not even halfway through it yet. I’m always knitting socks too. Right now, I’m finishing up a pair of super bulky socks for around the house.

    24. Lbd*

      Have you considered printing? Silk screen is one, or block printing from wood or lino cut blocks.
      Textiles are so interesting to me!

  5. Nicosloanicota*

    Maybe it’s a post-covid thing, I don’t know, but lately I’ve been noticing how stressed out I get by traveling. I seem to find the whole process of getting there to be a DEFCON situation; I can’t get to the airport early enough not to get that clench in my stomach, and I find myself madly cleaning before I can feel okay leaving the house. There’s a lot to remember with petsitters and travel documents and work stuff etc, but I’d like to take it down several notches, particularly because travel misadventures do occur whether you’ve stressed out about them or not. Has anyone else noticed a change, and does any one have any tips?

    1. DannyG*

      I’m a private pilot. I’m used to using checklists. I have several versions for short, medium, and long trips, whether I fly myself or commercial. I can print or do on the screen. It helps to soothe my OCD about not having what I need. As I complete each item (brief case, carry on bag, larger suitcase if needed) I put in a separate room until ready to go. I also have a written timeline to make sure our preparations are completed in a timely manner. Started doing this after my late wife left her purse on the counter when we were leaving for a 2 week trip. Thankfully, the pet sitter was able to overnight it to us before we actually needed it.

      1. AcademiaNut*

        I have spreadsheets for travel. There’s the master packing spreadsheet (a categorized list of everything I could possibly need to pack), which I pare down for individual trips. And the “todo” spreadsheet, which includes things like buying insurance, getting a foreign SIM card, but also things like turning off the gas and taking out the garbage right before leaving, and printing out backups of tickets.

        The other thing I keep in mind is what the essentials are. I need my passport, resident visa, travel insurance, source of money and phone. If I have those, other problems can be dealt with. And the checking the presence of those things has become an automatic reflex – the last thing before leaving home, leaving the hotel room, etc – and I know what I would need to do if I lost any of them.

        At this point, it probably helps that between my husband and I we’ve had enough travel experience that things that have actually happened to disrupt travel have included food poisoning, sprained ankles, illness requiring hospitalization, COVID, typhoons, snow storms, missing planes due to schedule or paperwork issues, car problems, losing a passport in a foreign country, and the unexpected death of family while abroad. (We’re not particularly accident prone, but between living abroad from family, and jobs that require international travel, things add up). So I know at subconscious level that stuff can be dealt with.

    2. Jackalope*

      Oh my goodness yes. I have a work-ish trip coming up and the person scheduling my flight ignored some of my requests for the flight, which means that it will be much more miserable for me. I’ve been absolutely panicking about this even though it’s weeks away. It doesn’t help that so many planes are being grounded for maintenance issues.

      Two things I do to help: for traveling in general I make a list of what I need, then cross it off once I throw it in a bag or a pocket. I’m detailed; not just “clothes” but breaking it down into tshirts, pants, shorts, pjs, etc, to make sure I get it all. And I don’t walk out the door without the list.

      Another thing I’ve been doing specifically for flying (which I hadn’t done since early 2020 and then I had 3 trips involving flying in 2 1/2 months last fall) is paying for better seating. I can’t usually afford first class, but I’ve been going for premium, and it gives me just enough space to feel more okay. I know that’s not feasible for everyone, but I’ve decided that it’s worth it when I can swing it.

    3. acmx*

      If you don’t have it, get Pre Check (and/or Global Entry.
      Decide how early you want to be at the airport and plan accordingly- for example, sitting at the gate 2 hours before boarding time is ok (or whatever. I plan less time).

      Like DannyG, create and use checklists or make a list for each trip (writing things out can be helpful).

      I travel frequently so I keep toiletries packed and have a few other items that stay packed/purchased specifically for traveling.

      Maybe start the cleaning a day or 2 before? I usually only clean if it’ll be a week or longer trip.

    4. KeinName*

      I commiserate with you. I was taking a holiday flight after Christmas, which necessitated taking a 2,5h train ride. It was a time of weather warnings, train delays, and so forth. Both me and my mother who was to drive me to the train station couldn’t sleep the night before because we were so nervous about something going wrong. We of course realised that this is way overblown as a reaction.
      I arrived in the town of the airport at 11am for my 4.15pm flight. And at my holiday destination with just a small delay.
      What slightly helped was putting it in context and trying to interrogate why potentially missing a (200€) holiday flight felt like the worst thing in the world. Haven’t quite figured out the answer. But it helped a little to tell myself that I am capable of somehow getting to my destination even if I miss this flight. And paying for the (very much too) early train.
      Well I‘d be curious about the psychological background to travel anxiety.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Ok this sounds like me sooo much. And I realize I’m being unreasonable but I can’t turn it off!!

        1. KeinName*

          It’s not a nice feeling for sure. Was very entertaining however to exchange the horror scenarios with my mother. What she thought could go wrong and and what I thought could go wrong. Very absurd. Thank god I don’t feel that way every day.
          I do a bit better on work trips where someone is with me (and was always totally fine when my ex-partner, who I trust to handle anything, was with me). Which is absurd because I’ve handled adverse travel experiences just fine very very often on my own and I’ve done field work alone on opposite side of planet, etc etc.

    5. Bitte Meddler*

      Like the others, I have checklists.

      But to bring down the stress of the process of traveling, I tell myself that (a) every step of the way is a adventure [so different from my normal day-to-day!] and (b) while I am on an adventure, it is my job to make it go smoothly for everybody around me.

      Part A means that if I miss a flight, or I have an annoying seatmate, or there’s a delay, it’s all part of the adventure and will make a good story later on. So far, none of my travel has been life or death. Being late to my destination just means I get to explore more of the airport and/or celebrate all the extra “free” reading time I’ve just been granted (hooray for the Kindle app!).

      Part B plays out in a ton a tiny ways: Staying on alert for people who might’ve dropped something, or look like they need to step out of line but don’t want to lose their place, or who are juggling armloads of bags plus a toddler and need help opening/closing/zipping/holding something.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It might have ended with 2023, but I haven’t decided for sure. For now it’s on hiatus :)

      (I started it a couple of months into Covid when it felt like we really needed some good news on a regular basis but hadn’t intended to continue it this long!)

      1. Jackalope*

        I support you in whatever decision you make, but I will say that I enjoy it a lot and would love to have it stick around even if only intermittently (say, once a month or so). But again, whatever works best for you as the host.

        1. Techie Boss*

          I second this comment. Whatever you decide to do is fine, but I would love to see it stick around even if it’s less often.

          1. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

            Me too! I always read the Friday Good News and I noticed it was gone. But I wouldn’t mind if it were less often, or just one little story a week.

      2. Ruby Sunday*

        Personally I actually don’t enjoy it that much and don’t miss having to scroll past it. A lot of the updates are very long and irrelevant!

        1. Ron Mc Don*

          That’s my feeling too – it also feels like the updates started off being quite short, but now they seem to be getting longer and longer!

          But it’s no hardship for me to scroll past them if others enjoy them and Alison decides to keep them :)

          1. RussianInTexas*

            That is where I am. I never read them, because boring, but I can scroll. If other people enjoy them, why not?

            1. Irish Teacher.*

              Yeah, same. It’s the only post I tend to flick past without even glancing through, but also happy to keep scrolling if they continue.

          2. ampersand*

            Same—I scroll past, especially as they’ve gotten longer. Happy to keep scrolling if they continue!

            Clearly many of us are here for the off-the-wall stories. ;)

        2. Gecko Girl*

          I agree. Most of the “good news” wasn’t really that good in my opinion – the posts got boring and repetitive fast. I stopped reading and started scrolling by a long time ago, sadly.

      3. Tinamedte*

        I love the Friday good news. Besides the obvious benefit of putting a smile on my face and hope+admiration in my heart, it also provides the AAM week with a really nice rhythm :-)

        Whatever format or frequency you decide on, Alison, I really hope you will still publish good news when you receive it. Means a lot to many of us, I think. My 2c.

      4. HBJ*

        If it matters, I never read them and can take or leave them continuing. I read all your other posts and love the updates but just never found the good news posts to be interesting or relevant to me, so after the first one, I just skip over them.

      5. Fit Farmer*

        I also scroll past (and feel like a grouch doing such a thing!) and I think the reason is that they are written in the form of an “update post”: a long story about something that happened. But whereas the updates have a narrative storyline that we’ve been following—the setup, the problem/conflict (the original question to AAM), and then finally we get to hear the resolution/conclusion (perhaps even containing some excitement/drama)—the long good news posts typically don’t have that narrative arc.

        Still, there’s benefit to a feel good story, a bright spot in our week. Like on the NPR show “It’s Been A Minute” they play short voicemails of good things that happened for listeners that week. They feel good to hear, and they are short!

        Perhaps a solution here would be to have not stories, but short feel-good notes: a whole collection of 2-3 sentence items like the sort of high-level good news you would tell an acquaintance if you run into them. (Not the longer story you’d tell a friend.) Like your acquaintance, we are happy to hear something good in your life! It feels good to hear that good things happened, and a number of quick happy things would provide a condensed good-news-post that people might be glad to see each week/month.

      6. sswj*

        FWIW, add me to the ‘Won’t miss it” column. Maybe it can be a once-in-a-while thing? I never read it, but I know others really enjoy it, so … \O/ << shrug

      7. Helewise*

        It looks like I’m in the minority, but I also like them – although I didn’t engage with them very much. I noticed that they never had very many comments, but I never really knew what to say other than an enthusiastic “yay, you!” I like how it shifted the narrative to a brighter place.

        1. allathian*

          Yes, I agree. I’d like to see them occasionally. That said, if they go away, I suppose it’d be possible to post good news on the Friday open thread? Easy enough to skip if you don’t like those posts.

      8. ABC123*

        I skip them.

        I really enjoy this site’s general set up of a work etiquette mystery/problem with an immediate solution. The Good News pieces are a bit off brand. I appreciated that they were regular, so I knew when to not visit the site.

        If other people enjoy them, though, these posts are incredibly easy to avoid. I also appreciate that it might be nice to not have solve a problem every so often.

      9. Seeking Second Childhood*

        There have been days where I go looking for encouragement…but I more often scroll on by. As with your podcast, the archive is there for those of us to go back to when we need it! So do what it takes for you to stay energized by this site

        If you decide to run them, maybe there’s a way to format them that can be scrolled past more quickly —a collapsed top level? The actual good news in the first comment?

    2. Chauncy Gardener*

      I was wondering this too. I love Good News Friday!
      But whatever works best for you, Alison!

  6. Elizabeth West*


    It started coming up here after the unit below was vacated and they were renovating it — apparently the older man who lived there could not take care of things and went into elder care. According to the workmen, it was a pesthole. Since they cleaned it out, of course, Mousey needed a new home. But not MY home, you little beggar.

    I suspect he’s been in and out of here, because I don’t see poo all the time. I found a hole behind the stove where the electrical conduit comes up through the floor, with poo around it. Stuffed that with SOS pads; also stuffed a gap in the corner of the living room where the baseboard meets the wall by the front door. I swear, this old building is like Swiss cheese.

    There is no evidence whatsoever that he’s been in my cabinets. I have fruit on the table and it’s never been touched. I’ve no idea why he’s here if he can’t get to any food, but I want him OUT. He’s come up on the sofa twice while I am sitting on it, like I’m not even there!

    I tried bait boxes, but that didn’t work. Last night I went to Lowes after PT and bought three packs of steel wool, and tomorrow, I’m going to crawl all over this place and stuff every gap and hole I can find. For tonight, I made a little mouse hotel in the humane trap with torn tissue, a bottle cap of water, and some peanut butter on the trip hook and put it on the sofa. You want to come up here so bad, buddy, you can spend the night!

    Anyone else have any mouse stories? How long did it take you to outsmart them?

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      omg the audacity of jumping on the couch with you!!

      My cat discovered a mouse in our previous apartment once (well, twice, the other time it was dead when we found it) and it was so chaotic. It was early in the morning and one of my kids was still asleep so the whole time I was like whisper-screaming as I chased the cat trying to catch HIM first so I could lock him up and get the mouse. Somehow the thing I decided to use was a plastic SLED from the porch and I managed to corner the mouse, get it to run onto the sled, and then speed-walked it to the door on the biggest platter ever.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I could have slapped a towel over him, but I was just so startled to see him strolling along like I was invisible!

        The trap was on the floor with no results. If I see him again with the trap up here, I will try not to freak out and scare him away. If I ignore him, maybe he’ll go in.

        1. Dancing Otter*

          Did I tell the story before of seeing Gracie tossing a very realistic…OMG, she’s got a real mouse!
          When Maintenance came in because someone in the building complained about mice, I told him they weren’t a problem here: I had my own resident exterminator.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      You need to call your landlord/manager and have them arrange an exterminator! The rule is see one, got ten, and I promise you this little guy is not a bachelor.

      Catching him, unfortunately, will not solve the long term problem. In the meantime, diligence is your watchword; check and recheck all the holes and cracks you can find, as you’ve planned. Remember, mice can squeeze through impossibly small crevices–spaces you’d think a worm couldn’t get through.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          They unfortunately fill a food niche for lots of predators, and their huge numbers/rapid reproduction/high metabolism mean they luuuuuv hanging out near humans and our stockpiled food!

          1. Slartibartfast*

            The food niche thing is why I won’t do bait. Too many hawks in the area, and my dog has caught a few. I’m surrounded by corn on three sides, there’s gonna be mice in the fall. Plug all the holes with steel wool, if it’s the diameter of a pencil they can get through. Sticky traps checked multiple times a day and dispatched with a hammer is what we do. There’s no painless way, all we can do is try to be quick about it.

    3. Manders*

      I don’t get mice often, but sometimes when the weather turns cold I’ll get a couple that come in behind my stove. I usually set a spin trap in the (non-functional) warming drawer under the oven, and that usually takes care of them – until they figure out what happened to the previous mice and will not comply with the spin traps. So then I have to set a standard trap (which scares me!). The last time this happened, I heard the SNAP at about 5 AM, and then I hear a scared, partially trapped mouse running all over the warming drawer, dragging the trap with it. I felt so bad about it, but I refused to open the drawer because I didn’t know what I was going to find, or how I would deal with it. So I waited until an acceptable hour to text my friend group, and one of them came over and dealt with it for me.

      I’m not proud of this at all – I don’t like to see animals suffer – but it’s especially embarrassing because I’m a scientist. On any given week I could be dealing with 20-200 mice at work, with no issues whatsoever. But at home? I turn into a pearl-clutching 1950’s housewife. Mostly it’s that at work I know that the mice are either disease-free or they have whatever disease I have given them. Field mice are an unknown.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is why I bought the humane trap–plus the bait box isn’t working. He/they are not touching it.

        If I can’t catch him, I’ll call the landlord (they don’t answer the phone; I have to leave a message), but I really want to plug all the holes first.

        1. Annabelle*

          Plugging up the holes or otherwise ensuring no more mice can get in is your landlord’s responsibility. For me personally, the anxiety of making a phone call is nothing compared to the overall HECK NO of mice in the apartment. This is why you pay rent. To make your landlord deal what this type of nonsense.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          You may never get to all the holes. Call your landlord. If you have to leave a message, so be it. Better to leave a message now that they get to in two days than to keep waiting and it’s even more days.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I told them what was up and they said they’d have the on-call folks give me a call.
            Amazing. I don’t think I’ve talked to a human in that office since I moved here.

        3. Miss Pantalones En Fuego*

          Honestly humane traps are pointless. They are easy to escape from and not that attractive to a mouse in the first place.

          It seems cruel but in my experience with rats and mice in my London flat the best thing is a snap trap. It kills them pretty quickly so there’s no drawn out suffering like a sticky trap and little chance that you’ll have a poisoned mouse rotting somewhere you can’t access it or becoming poison food for other wildlife.

          Get your landlord on the case as well. They are just a fact of life in big cities and apartment blocks but the best long term solution is to find where they are getting in and stopping it. Steel wool on its own might not be enough.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I’m very grateful that my husband baits, checks, and empties the mousetraps. I can.not.deal. We always have mice with some surges in population when the seasons change. He tried a new kind of trap that electrocuted them and went back to the snap traps. Turns out it is difficult to build a better mousetrap.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      One year we noticed that there had been mice in the basement pantry (this was in late fall when mice tend to try to come inside). First – cleaned up/threw away (WHY can’t mice eat ALL of one thing instead of take one bite out of everything?). Remaining food went in lidded plastic or metal containers. Set traps in the pantry (there are many kinds…the kind you think of, where you see the mouse and have to get it out of the trap – or just throw trap and mouse away – no-touch traps, even traps where you don’t touch or see the mouse. Bait with peanut butter.) We caught one mouse 5 minutes after we set the traps and another later that evening and then there were no more (we left the traps out for a while). I felt bad, but mice are destructive! Mice tend to run the periphery of a room. So if you are up for setting traps, set them along the walls, and around where you see mouse poop. I would definitely tell the landlord, although it is possible that they mitigated downstairs and there are a just few escapees (since you hadn’t noticed till the work started downstairs) but you do want to get on top of it.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I used to have glass sauce jars from Aldi I used for food storage, but I recycled them before moving. The closest Aldi to me is in Walpole but there’s a new discount rug store in the same shopping center I want to check out. :)

        Most stuff like quinoa, etc. is in Tupperware and up on my baker’s rack. Mousey would have a hard time getting to that. I’ve been buying Chock Full o’ Nuts coffee and it comes in a steel can — my popcorn is now in one. I run through that coffee pretty quick, since food manufacturers don’t fill things to the top anymore. *eyeroll* So I have a couple I can use.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          You can order more glass containers online, too, if you have to–it’s annoying and the packaging is wasteful, but if it means your food supplies are mouse proof it’s worth it.

    5. Filosofickle*

      I was living in a 100 year old 3 BR house, and over a period of a year I saw or heard mice in every single f-ing room. One night my ex was sitting in a semi dark bedroom, and the little guy crept right in front of him to the closet! Another time I was getting on a video call, and heard rustling in my office closet. Yeesh.

      What was weird was the most likely place to spot them was running across the kitchen from the stove to the cabinets, crossing under an island. They’d just sprint across. And yet…no visible gaps on either end. Nothing in or behind the stove. Nothing in or under the cabinets. No poop anywhere, not in any room or corner or closet or cabinet, so they weren’t hanging out for any length of time. And let me tell you, I inspected every corner many times. They weren’t eating any of my food. No evidence of bite marks. No shredded paper or nests. (Except a couple of times I heard paper being shredding in the closet, like the video call incident. That time I was able to quickly close up the box he was in and take it outside.) My best guess was they were living in the walls and mostly just passing through.

      During an earlier go-round years before with rats I had already successfully done the job of steel wool and closing gaps. This time, with tiny mice, there was nothing left to do. My ex thought I was overreacting but I was totally traumatized by the earlier invasion (which was much, much worse). I did not outsmart them or make peace. I killed a couple with snap traps and didn’t see any more after that — but not too much later I moved. I wish I had been much more persistent with my landlord.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Same here, no evidence of food intrusion that I can find. I’m pretty diligent about washing dishes at night before I go to bed. I sweep all the time because of the sand they use on the snow and ice and little rocks in the parking lot. It does seem like they’re passing through. I see him, or ONE poo, and then I see nothing for a few days.

        Which is why the steel wool was purchased. I had a mouse visit me when I lived in a residential hotel in California — it was coming and going through the space where the steam radiator pipe was in the wall. I plugged it up with steel wool and it never came back.

    6. WellRed*

      If you sprinkle baking soda in areas where you see no mouse evidence, you will be able to confirm if they do indeed get in your cupboards because you’ll see tiny paw tracks. and, welcome to New England, home of some of the oldest housing stock in the country.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ll give that a try. I’m going to look in the cabinets for holes anyway.

        LOL well if he were potty-trained and paid rent, I might let him stay!

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I have had no luck with humane traps, and eventually ordered the old fashioned kind online. The only time I had to do this was when we were between cats. (My cats kill mice when they can, so I don’t feel particularly bad about the traps.)

      A couple of months ago a chipmunk got into the living room and I was like WHY? There are two indoor cats. The house smells like cats. What are you thinking? (Eventually the cats were lured elsewhere, the front door left open, and I managed to spook the little thing in the right direction.)

      Also there was a hilarious bit when we had a puppy, and the cats tried to teach it how to survive in the wild by cornering a mouse for it, and the puppy was like PAT THE MOUSE!!!??!!! and the cats just shook their heads.

      1. slashgirl*

        At my first school library job, I walked into my 2nd floor library one morning to find a squirrel (or maybe it was a chipmunk? this was 26 years ago now), running around my window ledges. I got the day janitor and we opened the windows–no screens, it was an old building–and using brooms we managed to convince him to go outside (we didn’t hit it directly, just near to move it where we wanted to go). It was red brick outside, so plenty of paw holds for the little varmint–it didn’t fall to it’s death or anything!

        My parents used to have two rescue dogs (both of whom have passed on)–JD (aka “Just Dog” or “Jesus, Dog!”) a mixed breed, definitely with some Shepherd in her, due to her shape/size/colouring and Angel, pure bread English Springer Spaniel. My parents once got a rat in the house–the dogs cornered it and JD grabbed it and killed it. My parents took it away from her before she could eat it. And my dad plugged up a few holes in the basement, which had mostly stone walls, so that was fun but did seem to keep the rats out.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Squirrels can climb straight up a brick wall — I have a photo of one I saw on a college campus just hanging out on the wall. Another day, I also saw a different one (or the same one, IDK) in the trash bin chowing down on some french fries.

          Just the garbage alone around humans is enough to sustain rodent populations for decades. But I wish they’d stay in the dumpsters and not come inside!

    8. Alex*

      I recently had a couple of mice after they tore down the building across the street from me. I put out traps and caught one, and my landlord came over to plug a few holes that they could possibly get in around pipes and stuff, but I then saw another one and some poop afterwards, so I know there was more than one. I bought those sound emitting devices and put one in each room of my apartment (the sound doesn’t go through walls apparently) and it seems to have worked–no mice since! The one I bought was “Gragaski ultrasonic mouse repellent plug-ins” on amazon. A little pricey but worth it if it keeps them away.

      1. MJ*

        I had good luck with those devices in two apartments. I just put them in the kitchens and that was enough. Though with the first one I didn’t read the bit that mentioned it could take several weeks to fully dissuade them

        WARNING: Not good if you have small pets (gerbils, etc).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Really? I didn’t think those worked. They are kind of expensive but maybe I should get one at some point.

          I don’t keep gerbils or guinea pigs or anything like that. No cat — I can have one in here, but it’s such a small apartment I think it would drive me crazy, so I’ll wait until I get a house again and have a cat and a dog.

          1. MJ*

            Well I can’t speak to all of them, but the one I had was recommended by the guy at my local (small) hardware store when I went in asking about mouse traps. I can’t remember the brand and it was in the UK, so I left it behind when I moved back to Canada.

            Either it worked, or the mouse I saw during the first couple weeks in my new flat was just passing through. :) But I never saw another mouse in the 10 years I lived there.

    9. Been there, done that*

      Yes, fill all the holes you can inside the apartment. If you are up for setting traps, set them perpendicular to walls, using a very small amount of bait. See which are being set off, and use that info to narrow down where mice are coming in. You or a pest control company can use bait stations in the same way–set them up in various spots to see which ones are being nibbled at and which are untouched, then try to locate and seal off the entrypoints near the popular bait stations.

      If the exterior of the building is Swiss cheese, you(r landlord) will need to take care of those entrypoints or new mice will just keep moving in. I would really advocate for getting this taken care of now and on an ongoing way, as it takes quite a while to really get rid of mice and you want to get it under control. Good luck!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’ll let them know, but I don’t think they’ll do anything. Half the mailboxes have locks that are broken. And now one of the only two washers is broken and no one has fixed it or replaced it yet. *eyeroll*

        Once the year’s lease is up, these apartments go month-to-month. Now that all my medical bills are paid and I don’t have to worry about student loans anymore, I can save up some moving money. My neighbor has been here for ten years but that’s not my intention.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Forgot to add, at least I won’t have to move 1200 miles this time. At most, it would be more like 10 or 15. I just paid the last property tax I’ll ever pay in OldState and I am NOT going back.

    10. office hobbit*

      My heartfelt sympathies!! I had rats in my garage and just about lost my mind over it, it felt like. I felt like such a wuss. The steel wool pads are a good call (recommended to me by an exterminator). Mice can fit through a gap the size of your pinky. If you have to switch to kill traps, the black plastic kind (Jet? or something like that) seemed effective–they’re what the exterminator gave me for rats and they killed three of them immediately. (The exterminator told me all this and then left without charging me, which was great, but left me to lose my little mind as aforementioned.) Good luck and godspeed!

      Advice from my previous life: if you need to catch the mouse by hand, throw a hoodie or blanket over it and then pounce and scoop it up (through the blanket) in your hands. That startles it and often they’ll freeze just long enough for you to grab them up.

      Addendum to this advice: this is a stupid thing to do (tho I have done it), and if you get bitten, see a doctor. Rat bite fever is a thing (applies to many/all rodents).

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I thought about throwing my weighted blanket over him and then scooping him into the live trap, but instead all I did was freak and scramble off the sofa as fast as possible. Because !!!!!!!

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Rats are steel-hearted bastards; they will stare you down with no fear. And they can get SO DAMN BIG.

    11. Bluebell*

      I’ve used cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil and that seemed to work, however I don’t search the basement that closely. We did call an exterminator like 20 years ago and they plugged a lot of holes. Whatever you do, please don’t use poison bait. The Boston area has a bad problem of raptors and other animals dying because rodenticide chemicals enter the food chain. It’s very sad.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’m not a big fan of poison and they’re not going for the stuff I tried anyway, nor did peppermint oil work (tried it). I won’t use glue traps either because they’re horrifying. I saw a mouse at one of my workplaces once that had been stuck to a glue trap and it was still alive. No way to free it. It traumatized me so much that when I found a baby garter snake stuck to a piece of tape in my garage in OldHouse, I spent 45 minutes with a toothpick and some olive oil getting him off.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          I’ve never tried it, but supposedly if you pour salad oil around the mouse’s feet while in the sticky trap, they will be able to free themselves. I suppose you should move the trap/mouse outside well away from your house first. Or, if the neighborhood cats are gourmets, and money is no object, you could try Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

    12. Jean (just Jean)*

      Peppermint oil will deter these four-legged roommates, but not indefinitely unless you keep reapplying new oil after the odor fades. Sometimes I put it on strips of paper towel. When I’m sufficiently annoyed I just sprinkle it directly on the floor or the counter.

      Good luck!

      I totally agree that you need to plug up all possible entry holes. I can’t do this myself because some of my furniture is too heavy for me to move. I don’t have a lot of advice re which traps to use. The local mice seem to know exactly how to avoid what used to be my preferred trap, the kind that pierce the poor creature with plastic prongs. Ghastly, but at least death comes quickly! (I refuse to let the exterminator put out glue traps, but one of his donations must have been placed when I was away from home.) I’ve also bought some of the old-fashioned metal-spring-goes-SNAP!-onto-a-wooden-base traps, but have not yet been brave enough to set them out.

      Good luck.

      The one time I “caught” a live mouse (it fell into an empty plastic wastebasket and could not climb out) I took it outside and released it near a cardboard tube into which I had stuffed some wadded-up fabric scraps and a few pieces of cheese. Hopefully the mouse was able to shelter in the tube until it could find a safer spot under a plant. That was about two months ago when our nights were chilly but not freezing cold.

      It helps enormously (no pun intended) to have one’s home free of paper and fabric clutter.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I like the paper tube idea. If I catch Mousey alive, I’ll do that.
        There are a lot of books in here but that can’t be helped. I already went through my entire library twice. Half of it was donated before I left OldState.

        1. Jean (just Jean)*

          I didn’t mean books (which are lined up neatly on a shelf)…I meant random pieces of paper on the floor. Piled not filed. (Sighs at self.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Oh haha, gotcha. I corralled all my paper into ONE plastic file box and shredded the rest. You should have seen the huge pile I got rid of before I moved out of my house. I had paystubs from decades prior.

            This is a small place and the holes shouldn’t be too hard to find. The PITA will be emptying my closet — but this is a good chance to maybe ditch some extra stuff I didn’t get to go through yet.

            Lesson learned– next apartment, I’ll go on hole patrol before I unpack!

      2. Rara Avis*

        If you release them outside, they’ll find their way back in in a minute. My parents’ house is rural and they have a dedicated peanut butter jar for the traps. The mice kept chewing through the walls.

    13. Jay*

      It’s messy and can look bad if your not careful, but they make rodent proof foam. It fills the hole and the spaces behind the hole quite a bit. I’ve had things pull the steal wool out once or twice, but nothings ever gotten through the foam. It won’t stop them from chewing a new hole every year or so, but I plug that one up too.
      Also, I know someone else mentioned the problem with poison baits killing birds of prey. Even if you’re not worried about that (you don’t have any near by, etc.), the d****d things will always, ALWAYS, die and rot just behind the walls in a place where you would have to tear half the wall down to get at their carcass. And you would be SHOCKED at how bad a tiny little dead mouse can stink. It can make your home nearly unlivable, no matter how many candles and incense you burn to cover it.

      1. office hobbit*

        This is a good point. What I did was alternate layers of foam and steel wool. There’s also some sort of putty (it feels like plumbers putty but has different composition) that apparently rodents don’t like to chew through.

    14. Fit Farmer*

      From a farmer perspective, mice are a thing in the world and many buildings in many areas have mice wandering through — particularly old porous buildings in rural areas — and people keep traps out to catch them.

      However, if you’ve not seen mice in your apartment til now, it doesn’t sound like this is your situation. It sounds like there were some mice in the other unit that now are wandering around; it doesn’t sound like there is continuous mouse pressure from outside which could be stopped with steel wool. Once these mice are trapped and killed there will be no more mice. There is no blocking them; they are already there. I’d say set 4+ classic mousetraps baited with a little peanut butter, keep them set every night, and see if in a couple weeks you’ve stopped catching them and stopped finding evidence. Perhaps a more involved solution is necessary, but I’d think this would be the first step. Signed, a heartless farmer

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, I have had no problems until that other unit was redone. No reason for them to leave it until then — they had it good in that poor guy’s mess.

        I just talked to the landlord. Someone’s coming with snap traps on Monday. I still need to find all the holes, though, so I know where to put the traps. These are inside holes, not outside. One of them was behind the stove where the electrical conduit comes through he floor — there was poo around it, so I know that’s at least one way he got in. I already blocked that and mopped the floor back there.

    15. Hola Playa*

      Years ago I had rats, not mice, but the only thing that consistently worked was a electronic trap that electrocutes the thing once it’s in. I would leave a trail of pistachios leading up to the trap and then drop a few in the back of it, slide the trap to it’s hiding spot, and turn it on. Super easy to slide the dead rodent out into the trash the next morning. No sounds, no blood, seemingly instant.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        What trap is this? I’m intrigued.
        I don’t like the snap traps because the noise scares me. Plus then you sometimes have to deal with a still-alive, freaking out mouse.

        1. Hola Playa*

          I think it was a Victor brand from Ace. Uses batteries. I totally remember that snap in the middle of the night eith accompanied flailing!

    16. Nancy*

      Call your landlord and have them hire an exterminator who will find and plug all the holes.

      What did I do? I let my cat grab it, scooped it into a tupperware to take outside, then called the landlord. Also don’t leave any food out at all.

      Boston is very cold right now, and buildings are old. That’s why mice are coming in.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yep, cold and this is an old building. But I really think these ones came from the place below. When someone moves out of an older unit, they redo it. They’re gutting the kitchens and putting all-new cabinets and dishwashers in (the cabinets are smaller and there’s less storage, but that’s a rant for another day). They did this with mine and the one below me too. I saw no activity of any kind before that apartment was renovated.

        I also cleansed the place because there was violence in it before I came here — the former tenant was allegedly murdered by a dude she was breaking up with. Really sad. A Native friend gave me instructions on how to do it properly when I needed to clear my old house. I wish there was a cleanse that worked on mice.

        1. Nancy*

          It doesn’t matter where it came from. Call the landlord and get an exterminator in there. Otherwise more mice will be using the holes to get in. Just because you only see one doesn’t mean there aren’t others.

    17. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Someone’s mention of squirrels reminded me of this: squirrels, and possibly mice, can chew through the now-standard plastic window screens. If you need to put in or replace screens for this, try to find wire screens.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh I never thought of that. The windows here are metal screens, I think; they’re the sliding ones and pretty solidly sealed, though I did put bubble wrap on the glass because it’s just stupid cold out. Works pretty good, actually. :)

    18. Yorick*

      We had a mouse in our apartment on the 31st floor, the property manager claimed we were the first people to have seen a mouse in an apartment (there have been sightings around the lobby). I guess an eagle picked up the mouse and dropped it on the roof and it was making its way down.

      1. Goldfeesh*

        This fall we had the first mice we’ve seen in our duplex for 10 years. We and the upstairs tenant used snap traps and ultimately caught four. The crazy thing is she has two dogs upstairs and we have six pet rats downstairs (they are predators to mice) that get some free roam time. I’d have thought the scent would have scared off the mice.

        One of the mice was so cute though, it had darker coloring, it ran into the bathroom and saw me in there. It had such an “oh $&@&, there’s someone in here” and dashed out. It reminded me so much of my rats’ expression if they don’t want petted when they go into the bathroom and I’m in there.

    19. Busy Middle Manager*

      Random tip: mice don’t like certain smells, I use cedar tree oil since I like the smell (though it can make you dizzy if you sit there inhaling it!)

      Hardware stores sell this hard-foil-on-a-tape-roll stuff that I use to put around areas that are too small for spray foam (and that stuff can be hard to do – press too hard, and suddenly there is a huge bubble that keeps spreading and getting worse when you try to clean it up before it hardens)

      – Had a few mice despite cleaning the floors every day, not keeping any food out of bins, taking out trash daily, etc.

    20. Elizabeth West*

      OH MY GOD.

      Plugged the hole by the cable TV cable. Then I got down on my knees.

      THE ENTIRE WALL underneath the heating register in the front room is crumbling plaster. There is a humongous hole in it. There is not enough steel wool for this in the universe.

      I called the emergency line back. I am going to cry.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Good for you calling them back, because this place sounds like it’s illegal to rent! (On your landlord’s part, not yours.) I doubt very strongly that a wall that is A) supporting a heating element and B) falling to pieces is safe!

        1. Annabelle*

          On the one hand yes, it sounds pretty slumlord-y based on this latest revelation plus everything else already mentioned (the broken mailboxes, only one working laundry machine, landlord is usually impossible to reach, MURDER OF PREVIOUS TENANT, the fact that the mice infestation is already so entrenched that Elizabeth is seeing them out and about multiple times*, etc)
          On the other hand…I am weirdly not surprised by this for some reason? it’s an old rental in Boston and I’m like, “yeah this all tracks”??? I don’t know if that means the world has just made me numb or what

          Anyway this sucks and I hope the landlord can at least get off his butt long enough to get a (real, licensed, bonded, legitimate) exterminator in there and then down the line, Elizabeth can maybe move into something less Dickensian

          * that’s not good :-(

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I wouldn’t call it Dickensian. Believe me, I’ve lived in MUCH worse places! The alleged murder, well that was just sad. This was the best I could afford on short notice, and I was lucky as hell to get something with off-street parking. I never intended to stay here forever.

            I can deal with the other stuff. If they fix the holes in the plaster (who knows how that happened, probably the mice) and get rid of the little boogers, then we’re fine.

            Now that all the medical bills from my knee are paid, and I don’t have to worry about student loans (thank you, Joe), I can save up some moving money. My credit is better than I thought it was, and once the lease is up, I can go month-to-month so I won’t end up paying for two leases. The trick will be finding something I can afford on my own — I’m too damn old and have too much stuff to room with strangers. Or who knows, maybe I’ll marry someone with a house. :) #crossyourfingers

    21. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I live in the woods, so mice and rats are a constant battle. We had exterminators out three times, and finally they basically told us that unless we wanted to spend 5-6 figures on sealing up every single hole in the house, which would have involved redoing the crawlspace, the attic, and the foundations, our best bet would be a cat. These days we have 5 cats. I feel a little bad for any mice who do come in, but also, there’s a whole entire forest out there for you.

      In the meantime, I recommend glass or plastic containers for any food you have in your cupboards, and consider moving your fruit off of the table.

    22. NeutralJanet*

      Just to throw a dissenting voice to the folks who haven’t had luck with humane traps, Mice Cubes have always worked really well for me

    23. Dancing Otter*

      One time we were having dinner at my parents when a mouse came trotting down the hall into the dining area.
      It had to have heard us talking, but it was just bold as could be.
      I offered to loan them my cat, but Dad just talked about changing the bait in his mousetraps.

  7. Josame*

    T. J. Klune has a sequel to “The House in the Cerulean Sea” coming out in September 2024: “Somewhere Beyond the Sea”.

  8. Heron Sighting*

    I’m trying to snack a little smarter because I think that’s where I make bad choices, in the snack times between meals. I get bored with fruits and veggies dipped in dressings. Any thoughts for healthier low carb snack options?

    1. Orange Banana*

      I like Bhuja Crunchy Seasoned Peas – dried and crunchy with garlic, salt, and a bit of spice.

    2. Snell*

      What are your thoughts on a square of really dark chocolate? For me, it works because although, yes, carbs & fat etc. etc, it’s one of those foods that, while delicious, I can’t eat a lot of, and does that thing where a food makes me feel full. Especially the darker you go.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        And the higher quality! Really well-made chocolate managed to be so satisfying in such small quantities!

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Sometimes I’ll do a cup of instant oatmeal with a piece of dark chocolate in it. I microwave it all together and have chocolate oatmeal. But I guess that’s not low carb, sorry!

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Smitten Kitchen’s endive with citrus and goat cheese. These are a reliable finger food hit at parties, and I will sometimes make a platter for dinner.

    4. Double A*

      Nuts. Not low calorie but nutritious and filling.

      If you are worried about portions then separate out one serving at your desk.

      1. English Rose*

        Seconding nuts. My nutrionist recommends a mix of walnut, almond and brazil. Only a small amount for a snack but stops that gnawing hunger at the end of the day that leads to a stop by the take-out.

    5. Not A Manager*

      Depends on what “snack” means to you. I like toasted seaweed snacks. I sometimes like to make a lettuce wrap with a piece of ham or turkey, some kind of salty/umami thing like olives or roasted red peppers, and maybe a bit of cheese. Hard-boiled eggs are easy. I like protein a lot, so any leftover fish or meat is good just with a little mustard or lemon.

      But honestly, by the time I want a snack I want a small meal. I usually keep a pot of soup around for easy snacking. Lots of veggies, and you can control the carbs and fats pretty easily. I also make a pilaf with a whole grain like quinoa or farro and a lot of veggies. I guess not super low carb, but still a lot of veggies and not much fat. The pilafs are good at room temp with some lemon juice, so those are good option if you can’t heat things up. Ratatouille is also quite versatile.

    6. Alex*

      I find pickles and olives really hit the spot sometimes. I’ve also bought those freeze dried berries at trader joes–I like the strawberries best. It’s a crunchy snack that is hardly any calories, and no added sugar.

      1. StudentA*

        OK, I have a follow up question. Maybe a dumb one, but here it is. Why is it that pickles can sometimes taste delicious to me and other times disgusting? Do you think it’s the type of pickle or brand, or do you think it’s probably just my tastebuds being moody, or what I’m eating it with?

        1. AGD*

          Might depend on brand, style, and/or amount of sugar. I love regular pickles but can’t handle the sweet ones (sometimes called “bread and butter pickles”).

        2. Ashley*

          Pickles are delicious when I feel like I need more salt in my diet. Other times less so, but sometimes it is a brand issue.

        3. Alex*

          Yeah pickles are not all the same! There is a wide variety and flavor profile. You have your dill pickles, sweet pickles, half sour pickles, sour pickles, etc. etc. Those are all totally different, and within those you are going to have slight differences depending on brand and specific ingredients. Personally, my mom makes pickles at home and uses an ingredient that I find absolutely awful! I can’t stand them!

    7. Fellow Traveller*

      My favorite snacks (not really shelf stable, though)-
      Greek yogurt with fruit, nuts, and drizzled with honey is my go to snack.
      Hard boiled eggs and string cheese.
      Cold cuts (ham or Turkey), a slice of swiss cheese, wrapped around a dill pickle spear.
      Pickled herring
      Kimchi mashed with tofu.

    8. Annie Edison*

      Sprouted walnuts! There’s this lovely company called Tenderly Rooted that I follow on Instagram that sells flavor-infused sprouted walnuts and they are my new favorite thing. The herbed balsamic ones are my current favs

    9. Queer Earthling*

      I’m diabetic and my snacks have to include a little carb (I aim for 15-30) but also a decent amount of protein. I’m also waiting for test results to see if I’m allergic to nuts. Here are some things I eat for snacks that might give you ideas?

      -Mini charcuterie plate of cheese, a cured meat of my choice, and whole wheat crackers. Sometimes add some veggies as well but you mentioned being kinda done with that.
      -Nachos + salsa for more veggies
      -Crackers with sunflower butter
      -Sugar-free yogurt + pretzels. (Oikos has some zero sugar yogurt that’s honestly delicious and super high protein.)
      -Trail mix of roast chickpeas, roast edamame, dark chocolate M&Ms, and a few Goldfish crackers. (I intend to remake this with nuts if I can eat them!)
      -A boiled egg and some fruit
      -Egg salad and crackers (do you sense a theme here?) and some cherry tomatoes.

    10. Professor Plum*

      One thing I’ve learned over recent months is that prioritizing protein in my meals has greatly reduced my hunger for snacks. But when I do want a snack it’s usually a hard boiled egg with cottage cheese or plain Greek yogurt with vanilla, cinnamon, stevia and berries.

      1. The Dude Abides*

        Same, but my go-to is the Target brand choc/peanut butter energy bar.

        I burned myself out on Greek yogurt a while back (I’d go through a tub a week for breakfast), and haven’t quite come back around to it.

    11. Quantum Possum*

      Seeds and nuts! There are so many varieties, every type is a little different, and of course you can mix and match to suit yourself.

      I keep nuts and seeds around all the time. My family jokes that I’m actually a bunch of squirrels in a human suit.

    12. But what to call me?*

      Homemade smoothie bars (actually healthy popsicles, but I call them smoothie bars):
      Toss a bunch of fresh or partially thawed frozen fruit/berries in a blender with however much yogurt looks good to you and maybe some nuts (I prefer vanilla greek yogurt and almonds), blend it all together, pour it into a bunch of little popsicle molds, and freeze.

      Find a flavor combination you like and they can not only work as snacks, but dessert, though they’re obviously a lot more appealing in summer than winter.

      Hint if you do make them: yanking them out of the molds never works, but run a little hot water over the outsides and they come right out.

    13. amoeba*

      I’m late for this, but as it hasn’t been mentioned yet: Edamame with salt, the way it’s served in Japanese restaurants! At least here, you can buy them frozen…

  9. Carrots*

    My friend “Jane” texted me wondering how I was because she claimed that I didn’t respond to her text messages and she thought something was wrong. It confused me because Jane often won’t respond to my messages, but I just figure she’ll respond when she’s ready.

    Jane and I were also trying to plan a day to get together because we still have to exchange Christmas presents, but nothing has worked out yet.

    I responded that I was fine and just busy with a lot of things going on. Jane then started asking a million questions, “Busy with what? What stuff? What’s going on?”

    Then apparently I didn’t answer quickly enough because she sent this bitmoji (picture) that said “I’ll wait”.

    I’m not sure what else to say to her- at this point I’m annoyed and ticked off. Any advice?

    1. Turtle Dove*

      She sounds anxious and maybe lonely. But yeah, I’d feel annoyed too. I have a family member who does that. I go for simple and reassuring. I’d probably respond with something like “Nothing big. Just normal life stuff. I’ll fill you in when we meet up.” If she keeps being weird, I might ask her if she’s okay. It sounds like something’s changed or she’s forgotten that she isn’t a prompt responder herself.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      Tell her you’re annoyed and ticked off and you’ll get back to her Sunday night? Or you could be nicer, just a little.

    3. Old Plant Woman*

      Or have a conversation about communication, in person. People get weird about texting. And planning outings. And about most everything

    4. Not A Manager*

      If you are fond of her, I’d call her immediately. Like, make it urgent because *she’s* being weird. “Jane, I wanted to call you right away because this is so unusual for you.” With the unstated implication that it’s *obviously* inappropriate for her to be acting like this, so you really want to be sure she’s okay.

    5. Nicosloanicota*

      I had an issue like this with my sister, and it turned out … we weren’t getting all of each others texts!! I knew it (frustratingly) happens all the time with group text threads, particularly if some are are iphones and some are androids, but I had no idea it could happen in just regular exchanges. We had to exchange screen caps to get to the bottom of it. I had really been feeling very ill-used!!

      1. AGD*

        This is what I thought of. I had a text thread with a friend where I thought she was ignoring a lot of my questions and just changing the subject whenever she felt like it; I gently brought this up at some point later on. She stared at me blankly and we ended up comparing what the threads looked like on our respective phones. None of the texts I’d been thinking of had reached her.

        1. Nicosloanicota*

          It’s strange because you’d think it would be obvious but texting is such a weird medium that it can be not at all easy to know it’s happening – and yes, you just think they’re ignoring you – until someone texts something that is so random there must have been other parts of the message missing

      2. Deedee*

        This happened between my daughter (Android) and me (iPhone). We have different area codes. Went on for quite a while until I got a reply from a text I sent her from someone with the same number as my daughter but with my area code telling me I am sending messages to the wrong number. We figured out that I had her number in my contacts listed as an “iphone”. We changed that to “mobile” and everything has been fine ever since. Never figured out why some messages went to her and some went to the person in my area code though?

      3. carcinization*

        This happened with my mom and myself and was quite annoying… I had to have T-Mobile fix it so that our texts back and forth worked reliably again… T-Mobile had decided that most texts from her (and the lady who cuts my hair, actually) were spam, as far as I can tell just because they were coming from AT&T accounts (mom has an Android phone, not sure about my hairdresser).

    6. English Rose*

      Tone of text (like emails) can sometimes be misinterpreted, and different people have different thoughts about response times. I would discuss it, gently, when you do finally get to meet up.

    7. Sunflower*

      If you’ve got a friend saying she didn’t get your messages and you are seeing she isn’t replying to yours, is there a reason you jumped to assume there is ill will going on vs first considering if there are normal tech glitches happening?

      If a friend said to me that I didn’t reply to her messages when I know I did, I’d assume it was a tech glitch and reply with a screenshot of my reply so we could sort it out.

      Both of your communication here sounds kind of passive aggressive and maybe like there are other issues brewing below the surface. If you want to be friends with her, why not just confirm all the texts are going through and if so, be honest that you’re confused why she thinks you aren’t responding when you are? And maybe try to work out whatever the other issues are. If you don’t want to be friends with her, you’re allowed to pull back. But playing this game back and forth sounds pretty childish and frustrating for both parties.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        When I responded earlier, I hadn’t thought of texts maybe not going through. That’s a good thing to troubleshoot. But the other issue is the million questions and impatience for answers. That’s what jumped out at me. I find it really annoying to be texted lots of questions with an “answer me now!” vibe. I usually respond by suggesting we chat in person or by phone.

        1. Carrots*

          That’s what confused me- at first she seemed mad that I wasn’t responding but then seemed to play it off like she was concerned. I’ve seen her get mad at other friends for similar reasons.

          1. allathian*

            That may just be her style, and you get to decide if it’s a dealbreaker for you.

            What do you get out of this friendship? Is she ever there for you or does she just cling to you for emotional support?

  10. Jackalope*

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

    I just finished book 2 in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series. I enjoyed it a lot although the lead character made a life choice that she was happy and satisfied with but I was sad about. The sequel was supposed to arrive yesterday but due to snow it’s been delayed and I keep checking on it hoping it will arrive soon.

    I’ve also just started the third book in the Freya Marske series that was recommended here awhile ago. So far it’s been a lot of fun although a bit tense. Im hoping to finish it this weekend.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I am to “Murder Must Advertise” in Sayer’s Lord Peter Wimsey series (reading in order). I know it’s many people’s favorite, and I’m enjoying it so far.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Re Murder Must Advertise: while it’s hard for me to choose a favorite Wimsey book, that one’s in the top three. (Or four. It’s difficult {grin}.) What I adore about it is the affectionate eye-rolling about working conditions at the advertising agency, all very much from Sayers’ own experience. The vibe reminded me a lot of my early software-development jobs, where a bunch of computer nerds who LOVED coding and debugging would spend our days wandering to each other’s cubicles to work on anybody’s problems but our own…

    2. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m listening to The Secret Commonwealth, the second companion/sequel to the His Dark Materials trilogy. It’s interesting so far (and narrated by Michael Sheen!) I wasn’t all that into La Belle Sauvage, the one where Lyra is a baby, but in this one she’s an adult and it focuses a lot on Pantalaimon.

    3. word nerd*

      Hey @Nervous Nellie I’m currently reading The Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math and I’m having fun so far, so thanks for bringing it up! I’m very curious how imaginary numbers are going to be necessary for creating 3D space because I know nothing about that.

      Recent audiobook listens:
      The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store–a very fun, entertaining read, especially in audio form, and I definitely see why it made Obama’s favorite reads list.

      The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison–I was bored by this one and surprised by how popular it’s been. Anyone else find this very slow and the repeated “Serenity” and use of the royal “we” annoying??

      1. Makare*

        I think The Goblin Emperor is one of those where you either love it or you don’t. For me, it’s one of my absolute all-time favorite books, and I had to set myself a limit on how frequently I’m allowed to re-read it, because I don’t want to get sick of it (about once a year, I’ve decided). But I can totally understand those who just find it to be Too Much, it is a very particular flavor of writing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I’m like that with Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine: it’s one of my all time favorites but I set strict limits on re-reading so the magic doesn’t fade.

          1. word nerd*

            I read Dandelion Wine just last week and have to admit it wasn’t my favorite, but I also wonder if I would have had a different reaction if I’d read it in the middle of summer rather than in the dead of winter with 2 feet of snow on the ground. I just talked about it yesterday with the friend who recommended it to me (she read Fahrenheit 451 on my recommendation), and both of us had the same reaction to each other’s Bradbury rec: well-written but not our respective cups of tea.

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        Awesomedoodles! Glad you’re liking it! I just finished it and feel very accomplished as a result. Hah! I had to reread the imaginary numbers section a couple of times to wrap my head around it.

        I’m also reading The Puzzler, by AJ Jacobs, a non-fiction book about the many types of puzzles and their appeal. He goes chapter by chapter through the various types of puzzles, both physical (Rubik’s Cube, jigsaw puzzles) and not (math & logic, sudoku, anagrams). And, get this! In the Introduction he calls himself a ‘word nerd’. Seriously. Perfect.

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          Oh, and the next book club book is Horse by Geraldine Brooks. Bought it, started it, meh. I am eager to hear everyone’s impressions next month and see what I am missing. Maybe a few more pages and it will catch fire for me?

          1. Rara Avis*

            I just started Horse and had the opposite reaction . But I tend to enjoy the “ object through time” genre. Even made it all the way through The Source (Michener)!

        2. GoryDetails*

          Hadn’t heard about “The Puzzler” – I adore AJ Jacobs’ work and will definitely get that one. (Other books by him include “The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment,” “Drop Dead Healthy,” “The Know-it-all” (in which he attempts to read the Encyclopedia Britannica cover-to-cover), “The Year of Living Biblically”… yeah, he’s a busy guy!)

        3. word nerd*

          Yes, I read the Puzzler last year and enjoyed it! It was definitely one of those books where as soon as I saw the description I knew I had to read it. It also made me realize that I’m not much of a puzzle fiend. I’m perfectly content to give up on something and look up the answer if it doesn’t come in the first 5 minutes or so. :P

      3. carcinization*

        Goblin Emperor is one of my favorite books, but even I can imagine those things being grating if I tried to listen to it as an audiobook.

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

      Still working my way through the Travis McGee series again (skipping some of the more violent parts–I seem to have lost patience for them).

    5. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman. This one got mentioned in the thread about historical fiction books that aren’t very accurate. I liked it nonetheless.
      I also read The Case of the Reincarnated Client by Tarquin Hall. It’s the latest or last one in the Vish Puri series. Feel kinda lost now.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Read the first two of Stephen Spotswood’s Penrose and Parker series and absolutely love them. I think I posted about the first one a few weeks ago. So fun. Next up is “David Copperfield” and then “Demon Copperhead” for book club.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I want to read Demon Copperhead SO BADLY but I’ve got so many books on the pile now…I wonder who Dora is in it?

    7. GoryDetails*

      Some of mine:

      This Wretched Valley by Jenny Kiefer, in which a small group of climbers attempt a newly-discovered spire in the remote Kentucky hills, and find that they’ve stumbled into a nightmare. [The setup was impressive, but I’m finding the writing a bit clunky. Will see how it goes.]


      Ghostways by Robert Macfarlane, “two journeys in unquiet places,” one of which is a “hollow way” somewhere in England – a sunken lane overgrown by trees, forming a long narrow tunnel… [I’d read about hollowways in T. Kingfisher’s “Swordheart,” when the main characters find themselves maneuvering along a rather eldritch one.]

      The Facemaker by Lindsey Fitzharris, a look at the surgeons who worked to repair the devastating facial injuries of soldiers in WWI. Harrowing and impressive.

      Newest carrying-around book:

      Entanglements: Tomorrow’s Lovers, Families, and Friends, a SF anthology themed on relationships

    8. Old and Don't Care*

      Reading Middlemarch. It’s funny! Is it supposed to be funny, or am I looking back snarkily at something that is supposed to be earnest? Hopefully the former.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        It’s funny. Very funny. Read it a few years ago and realized I had absolutely no appreciation for the humor as a teenager.

      2. GoryDetails*

        I adore Middlemarch – and yes, a lot of it is very funny indeed. (I’ve often been surprised to discover humor in various classics, Pulitzer-prize novels, etc. – for some reason in my younger years I just assumed they’d all be dry as dust, but that turns out not to be the case. Well, not for all of them, anyway!)

        It’s also very poignant in places, demonstrating the ways in which people who (mostly) mean well can make some truly awful decisions. “Middlemarch Revisited with plenty of access to good therapists” would have been a very different story {wry grin}.

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

            Same! I didn’t read that until my 40s, and I was like, “Hey, this is a great book!” I had always believed the bad press it gets.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s very funny! Middlemarch is a book I couldn’t wait to finish so I could start again from the beginning.

    9. HamlindigoBlue*

      I’m reading The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas. It’s a historical fiction/gothic/suspense story that was recommended to me because I liked Rebecca.

    10. carcinization*

      Enjoying Cassandra in Reverse overall but sometimes cringing at the main character’s choices… that’s obviously the intent though.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I recently finished The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan. (TW suicide)

      I’m honestly not sure if the book was suggested here or in another web forum, but it was the tangential piece of fiction I needed to start rebuilding myself after losing my husband.

      Other themes, Intercultural families, Chinese immigrants to USA, art as “worthwhile”, controlling families, afterlife.

      The story structure jumps back & forth in time, which is usually something I dislike, but here it felt so true to grief.

    12. Tiny Clay Insects*

      I’m reading So Let Them Burn by Kamilah Cole and enjoying it so far! It’s a. YA that’s set in a fictionalized Jamaica, with dragons, about the bond between two sister. It just came out last week!

  11. 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 bunch of Dr. Mario this week. I hadn’t played it in years but my spouse was playing it and drew me back in. It is slightly sad how much my skills have faded but fun to pick it up again.

    1. Dark Macadamia*

      Mobile game – I redownloaded Two Dots and they’ve updated it a lot! The original Dots game was a pretty minimalist “connect the things” puzzle game. Two Dots has a lot of side quests and different challenges, powerups, etc and very cute design.

    2. DistantAudacity*

      I just finished Chants of Senaar – highly recommend if you like logic puzzles.
      It’s sort of a linguistic puzzle-type game? You have to figure out written language(s).

      Took me about 14hrs to complete.

    3. Makare*

      I’m playing Ori and the Blind Forest, and I love it! The story doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it’s so beautifully animated and the music is so atmospheric. This is the first platformer that I’ve managed to stick with and complete the main objective all by myself—and now I’m enjoying exploring the world and trying to complete the map and get all the abilities.

    4. The Dude Abides*

      On Arena, I’m digging the Timeless format. The decision-heavy gameplay reminds me of when I played paper Legacy weekly. I’d love to build a Uro pile, but need to finish the manabase, as is the case with most decks I’d like to build.

    5. Dark Macadamia*

      Oh, I also have a tabletop game rec! Someone gave my family Isle of Cats for Christmas and it’s super fun. There are two styles of gameplay and we’ve only done the simpler family version but it’s still engaging as an adult even while playing with small kids. Basically you’re collecting cats and treasure on your ship (grid layout with Tetris-looking cards) and there are various points attached to color families of cats, filling all the rooms, catching rats, etc.

    6. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Slay the Spire. I don’t know why. I had more time since I was snowed in but not more bandwidth

      1. Quantum Possum*

        Ugh, that game is an obsession with me, lol. I have 400+ hours of playing time logged. I love it and hate it in equal measure, so very very much.

        Which character is your favorite? Mine is the Silent.

        1. Nicki Name*

          I’ve got almost 300 hours logged, though I’m currently taking a break from it. I’ve beaten it with every character but the Silent now. My favorite is the Defect.

    7. Yorick*

      I got the Mario Wonder game for Christmas but haven’t played too much yet. I picked it back up this week and it’s so fun!

    8. Quantum Possum*

      Man, I used to love Dr. Mario! My mom wound up jacking my Gameboy, though, because she had a Tetris addiction.

    9. Jackalope*

      Just learned a new game last night: Very Loud Librarians. It was a lot of fun, involved finding words according to their first letters (reminiscent of Scattergories), and was quick and breezy. It’s a team game and was good for an indeterminate number of people.

  12. Help (?) for overweight cat*

    How worried do I need to (continue to) be about my slightly overweight cat? I have three cats – one who is very elderly and a pair of bonded littermates who just turned two. Despite being brothers, the young ones are opposites in every way, including that one is the perfect ideal cat body type and his brother is also healthy but he is the most food-motivated cat I have ever met and is 1 – 1.5 pounds overweight according to the vet. I have pretty much done everything in my capacity to help him slim down; he and his brother are fed a set amount of high-quality weight control food from an automatic feeder, I play with him and encourage him to be active by throwing toys for him to chase, he gets exercise running around with his brother. My elderly girl is picky and has to be fed frequently and separately so I feel like I already spend a lot of time feeding cats. My chonky boy is so young, I don’t want him to develop health issues because of his weight but I also don’t know what else I can do for him. Help!

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      He could just be a chonk! Plus, younger cats who are chonky often slim down as they age if they’re kept on a good diet with exercise. My Peanut was pretty solid as a young cat, but now he’s 16 and so slim our goal is keeping his weight up.

    2. Old Plant Woman*

      My sweet little girl slimmed down a lot as she got older. Ask your vet? Or are some vets fat cat phobic? Like some people doctors? I tried to get my cats vet to adopt me but she said there’s a good reason she’s not an MD. She likes animals a whole lot better.

      1. RLC*

        I believe some vets view their patients’ body type relative to dog/cat show standards. (Many standards seem to favor slimmer types, much like human models for the fashion runway.) End result, possible bias against larger bodied pets.

      2. RagingADHD*

        1.5 lbs overweight is like, 10-15 percent of an average cat’s body mass. That is significant. No, it isn’t “fat phobia” for a vet to point out the real health concerns and shortened lifespan associated with pets being overfed and under exercised by the humans responsible for them.

        If the cat were a Maine Coon or other very large breed, I’m pretty sure the vet would know.

    3. office hobbit*

      Asking on the off chance–is he visually overweight, like if you look at him from top down does he match the “overweight” image on those charts? Or is there a chance he’s just a dense, muscular cat? I know a cat who’s quite heavy but it’s all muscle.

      1. Help (?) for overweight cat*

        Yes, he is probably a 4 on the chart. His brother is a 3 AND is all muscle, the rascal.

        1. office hobbit*

          Hmm. Since you’ve exhausted everything you can think of I’d ask the vet! They may know why his weight is resistant to dropping or may have suggestions about changing foods or something (proportions of carbs/protein could affect things?).

      2. RussianInTexas*

        I have one! I have a bonded littermate pair or flight fluffy orange boys. They are both large, 14 and 15lb, most likely Mainecoon mixes.
        But Fred, the heavier one, is just SOLID. He is built like a linebacker. His brother George is, while still a Big Boi, is noticeably sparser.

    4. Cat and dog fosterer*

      My cat was always a bit overweight, but he was a 3.5 on the scale so not a 4 or 5, and he had kibbles available all the time so I didn’t want the stress of restricting his food. I think the big question is whether yours keeps gaining weight. If he’s at most a 4 and stays stable then I’d let it go.

      1. Help (?) for overweight cat*

        His weight has been stable since his last checkup, and he is due for another annual exam soon. The vet did say that it was important for him not to continue to gain, so at least that isn’t happening!

    5. MangosteensMama*

      What worked for my Mango was switching, on my vet’s advice, to a nearly 100% wet food diet. It seems to do a better job of satiating him than kibble. We took him to the vet for guidance AFTER HE GOT STUCK IN THE CAT DOOR. He peaked at 22 lbs and is at 20 lbs after two months on mostly wet food. Good luck!

      1. RagingADHD*

        We put ours on mostly wet food after our boycat’s back started getting really greasy, and I realized it was because he couldn’t reach to groom himself properly. Poor chonker.

        We put a handful of dry food every day or so in a puzzle box so they have a little crunch for their teeth. Otherwise, all wet.

        That, plus adding a couple of good climbing areas, has done wonders.

      2. Help (?) for overweight cat*

        Aww, poor Mango! I’m glad you are seeing good results with the wet food. We could consider that, I’m just not sure if it would be affordable with two of them. Or maybe lower quality/more affordable wet food that helps with the weight is better than keeping them on higher quality kibble? They do get wet food once per day currently, it’s not all dry. I’ll bring it up with the vet – thanks!

      3. The New Wanderer*

        One consideration – despite being relatively active and drinking a good amount of water, my big guy (18 lbs) is prone to bladder crystals. It’s a very expensive problem and can be life-threatening (urinary tract blockages can happen and urgent medical intervention is necessary). His first episode happened when he was just about 4 yrs old, before he was on special food, and has recurred recently despite the special food. The vet listed getting his weight down as one of the things we can do to help keep it under control. So, I’m about to do the all wet food diet for my chonky cat.

    6. Jackalope*

      My experience is that vets experience fat phobia just like human doctors do. I’ve got one cat who’s always been a big boy, and the vet was on me for years to try to make him lose weight. The thing is that I fed him very specific amounts of food that I measured out every day for… 3-4 years? Something along those lines. The amount I was feeding him was for the weight group 2 sizes below his. He’s always been a couch potato and I couldn’t force him to get exercise but I did try to play with him as much as possible. And all that happened was… he spent 3-4 years being hungry a lot without losing weight. I finally gave up (and also we got more cats and I didn’t have a way to keep everyone else’s food from him) and just did free feeding. And for the first couple of years of free feeding he… weighed exactly the same as he did on his diet. (He’s getting older now so has lost a bit of weight for age-related reasons.) Also, the most recent vet I’ve seen (same clinic but the vets had a schedule change and now this is the one we can see) hasn’t mentioned it at all and is just treating my cat’s actual issues. So… good job feeding carefully and helping your cat get exercise, but remember that just like with humans there can be all sorts of genetic reasons that cats are the size that they are and it’s not something you can always change.

    7. Quantum Possum*

      Aww, what a sweet, thoughtful kitty parent you are. :)

      Luckily he’s very young, which makes it much easier to get under control. I’d recommend trying wet food instead of dry food. This made a huge difference for my former chonks.

  13. Falling Diphthong*

    What are people watching, and what do you think of it?

    Three Netflix shows for me this past week:
    Rebel Moon, Zach Snyder’s Star Wars-esque thing. Aggressively generic sci fi. Like, so generic that that part has lingered with me. If you cranked the genericness up just a little higher, knowingly, it would be satire. No interesting ideas to explore; no interesting characters. (Possible exception Doona Bae, but that’s because she’s Doona Bae, rather than anything about this specific character.) Trigger warning: There’s the lead up to a rape attempt that just about had me turn it off, but things deflected to the first fight scene just before I pressed the button.

    The Twin Diet Show: Never have I seen such a remarkable quality drop from the first episode (I was intrigued and excited to see more) to the second (I felt yelled at my militant vegans who are bad at math and think I’m dumb). Please note that I find in real life militant vegans are rare, and militant omnivores preemptively fighting with imaginary militant vegans greatly outnumber them; this show seems to be trying hard to change that ratio. Watching independently, my daughter had the exact same reaction.

    The Brothers Sun: I am halfway through; if you are into action-comedy this is excellent. The head of a Taipei triad is shot, and sends his son to protect the mother and brother living in LA. This is just delightful. It works within the tropes of the genre, sometimes leaning into them and sometimes subverting them. They hit the family dynamics dead center, where no one can annoy you like these people and also you would do anything to protect them.

    1. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’m rewatching Lark Rise to Candleford and enjoying it. (I have also read the books that inspired the TV show and can recommend.)

    2. Dear liza dear liza*

      The Brothers Sun is excellent! I especially love how it was shot mostly in the San Gabriel valley and it really feels like the area.

    3. Bluebell*

      Finally started Slow Horses last week and am really enjoying it. Plus this week was the finale of Fargo – really good last episode!

      1. StudentA*

        So I loved the movie, and kept hearing how great the show was. But two epis in and I’m a bit bemused at the ravings. Do you recommend I keep going? Like, does it change much? Or would you just assume it’s not for me.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I suspect it’s a not-for-you thing.

          Typed as someone who liked the movie and loved Fargos 1, 2, 4, and 5; 3 for me was weirdly split between one great and compelling plot and one offputting one.

          1. Bluebell*

            Fargo twins! 3 was the only one I was meh about. If you aren’t liking season 1 you could try season 5 but it may just not be for you.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              At one point I thought the parking lot magnates actually were fronting for money laundering already, which is why they knew how much could reasonably be generated without raising eyebrows, and why they didn’t call the police. Always disappointing when I come up with an intriguing explanation for inexplicable character behavior and then it turns out there was no underlying reason.

    4. RagingADHD*

      If the Twin Diet is the same one I’m thinking of, it doesn’t get better. There is very little information about the actual diet (because I’d live to try some of those yummy looking vegan recipes, honestly).

      And when they give the results, it’s really, really disingenuous how they explain that the omnivores’ overall good to fine results were actually *terrible,* while the vegans who got poor results were just doing it wrong. I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly stuck.

      Honestly, it made me lose some respect for Stanford. But maybe the experiment was straightforward and the people who made the show were just editing it in a manipulative way.

      1. blue rose*

        Haven’t seen it but unless Stanford’s ppl appear in it to convey the information directly to the viewer, I would just assume it’s more of the same “non-expert reads (and misinterprets) the abstract, investigates no further” ethos that has churned out so much damn clickbait in the past decade and more.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There is a point where a shouty, dismissive person is going on about “270% more!” that seems like they think that means “270 times as much!”

        2. RagingADHD*

          They do appear selectively. And when they do, they say rational stuff like how it’s important to design a diet that makes it possible to get all the nutrients you need in a reasonable volume of food, because animal products are nutrient dense and vegan diets are volumetric. Or how it’s really important for longevity and healthspan to build and preserve muscle mass, because lean body mass matters more than weight, or other single metrics.

          Then when they deliver the individual results to the few we follow, turns out most of the vegans in that small group lost lean body mass, some of them a significant amount for only 8 weeks. And the lead scientist just told them they didn’t eat enough.

          One of the big tall athletic guys said, “Im trying, I physically couldn’t finish all the food you sent me every day.” And they just never addressed this issue at all, and went on and on about how the vegans lost weight and had lower cholesterol.

          Like, if a prepackaged diet that is designed by registered dieticians to be perfect, can’t get enough nutrients into your body, it doesn’t sound feasible for the average person to do at home. So there’s this big cognitive dissonance that they allowed to remain in the show (presumably to give an appearance of objectivity), but never closed the loop on.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        I watched all the way through with copious use of the fast forward button, because I was actually interested in the results. It seems like they confirmed the popular diet wisdom that if you lose weight on a vegan diet it’s likely to mostly be muscle mass. Which they immediately blamed on the people in the study doing the diet wrong–needed to eat way more beans (literally, not sarcasm)–and went to shaming.

        And I was interested in the details of the two diets and thought we would get into those in subsequent episodes. I’m interested in the microbiome! Carbs being essential for your gut lining was a new thing I was interested to learn more about! I was the target audience for episode 1, and episodes 2-4 just crushed any respect I had for anyone associated with this.

        See: The extended UV light section on how raw chicken can have bacteria that cause food poisoning, filmed by people who earnestly believe I haven’t heard about food poisoning linked to lettuce, spinach, and peanut butter.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Also: I really liked the Bon Appetit video piece on sustainable cattle ranching, and the High on the Hog episode about vegan soul food. I would be interested to watch a show based around 11 Madison Park’s design of vegan menus. While I don’t think these topics necessarily fit in a series about how a diet affects different people in a controlled study–you definitely sound like you have prechosen the correct outcome–the topic can be executed in a “That is really interesting; tell me more” way; their version misses by many miles.

        2. RagingADHD*

          Me too! I even read the Sonnenbergs’ book about microbiome, which was really interesting. I was excited to hear about that part. And then, pfft, nothing.

      3. Dear liza dear liza*

        Add me to the disappointed viewer list! They lured me in with really interesting twin sets and then I fast forwarded through all the MEAT IS BAD stuff. Precious little was watchable. I did when the person said, “BMI is dogshit.” lol. Glad others noted the weird final “reveal”!

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          There was one bit I am amazed made the final cut, where a twin held up a half-full container and said “I don’t actually know what this is; all the vegan food tastes the same.” Which is an interesting conundrum, if you’re actually doing an objective analysis of diets! How do you make your easy vegan meals look more like the fancy food photography and less like a heat-em-up of grains and beans with some veg mixed in?

      4. Elle Woods*

        I considered watching it. Then I read Abby Langer’s review of it on her blog and decided against it.

    5. The day of Sue*

      Lately, the first few seasons of Spongebob for thè zillionth time. My favorites are “Rock Bottom” and “Suds.” That show will never get old for me; ever.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        The one where they learn “spicy sentence enhancers” from the graffiti on the dumpster is my favorite

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My favorite is the camping episode.
        “Move over!”

        And who can forget the chocolate episode?
        “You rub it on your skin, and it makes you live forever!”

    6. Lemonwhirl*

      We’re watching “Better Call Saul” with our 13-year old. (It’s a rewatch for us and a new watch for him.) We just started season 3 yesterday. I’d forgotten a lot of the particulars but have remembered the big plot points. The rewatch is great because a lot of my anxiety is minimized since I know what happens to most of the characters, so I’m able to focus on other things.

      Also finished up the season finale of “For All Mankind” (good episode but overall an unevenly meh season) and started “Night Country – True Detective” (loving it so far but already bummed that it’s only going to be 6 episodes).

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        In hindsight I think Season 4 of For All Mankind was trying to set up the last two episodes.

        I thought space becoming less a glorious short-range adventure for the hyper qualified and instead a routine thing with long posts for downtrodden hvac repairmen was very real–if we’re going to move toward a space colony, it’s going to have ordinary people doing ordinary stuff, just like the Antarctic research base has regular people support staff. Downtrodden I don’t think is inevitable but also not unrealistic. But they just didn’t find a way to make the labor strife compelling.

        1. Lemonwhirl*

          Yes, I completely agree. I think they needed to provide more backstory for a few of the Helios workers, like Sam and the guy whose name I can never remember – the one who told Danielle about Ed’s hand. It’s hard to care about labor strife when I don’t know who any of these people are and their troubles have been condensed into 30-second exposition dumps.

          To me, the other problem with Season 4 is that it decided to veer into soap opera at times. My husband and I watched and enjoyed most of the show “Nashville”, even though it started soapy and then went FULL soap opera. A lot of For All Mankind S4 felt like Nashville in space.

          It’s a fine show – entertaining at times, but it was kind of a disappointment because past seasons were better – grounded in characters we knew and were rooting for.

          1. Beside*

            I spent the whole season in suspense and wanting Danielle to be protected from making bad decisions or having to reckon with them … but in the end, I thought those moments were what the show really needed.

            Yes, agonize over how to navigate an old friend’s changes, but agonize more over what you unleashed by sending in the CIA/KGB team!!!

    7. Still*

      Oh, Rebel Moon wanted so badly to be Star Wars, it really should be satire, otherwise there’s just no excuse. It’s like the whole movie was generated by ChatGPT.

      The aesthetics of all the planets with an extreme mix of technology and old-timey societies. The evil empire. The finding a pilot at a quirky bar filled with aliens. The betrayal on a small trade planet plot twist you could see from a mile away. The literal light sabers. The baddie who somehow survives despite extreme injury. Oh, and they randomly pasted in a scene of Harry Potter meeting the hippogriff?

      I’ll bet you anything that the murdered emperor that they use as an excuse for all the evil they’re doing was murdered by the big baddie himself, because he was getting old and tired of war, and wanted a better world for his daughter. So boring and predictable.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        The shirtless prince is over into satire already, but it’s not even self-aware satire. Also, WHY is the gryphon being kept in a corral without a roof? Like, it should be obvious that isn’t going to work.

        Luke was a hick, in a world where you could be a hick with robots and a floating car. The Rebel Moon folk are using farming techniques from the 1700s. Like, not even the 1800s. You could lean into that for cult purity of adherence to the old ways, I guess. But then these are not the people you target to get food for your army. (Also, better plan: Figure out when harvest is, drop down right afterward and steal all the grain. There is no need to give them a helpful timeline of when you will be coming back to steal everything.)

        I keep being reminded of Starship Troopers, which was reviewed as either a well-done satire, or as a sci fi show that misses the mark because it’s almost like the good guys are sorta kinda fascist. (As Neal Patrick Harris chews the scenery in his SS officer get-up.)

    8. Helvetica*

      In my good tradition of watching anything very popular super late, I watched first season of Fleabag. I couldn’t somehow get into it when it first came out but I was really stunned by it this time. It’s hard to use the word “enjoy” because it is quite dark and angsty at its core but so well done. Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a genius and the unraveling of the threads in the last episode is a masterpiece.
      I really enjoyed a re-watch of Dalgliesh, which is up there for my favourite crime/detective shows, mostly because it is so atmospheric. Bertie Carvel plays him so well.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I want to watch that one; it’s next on my list. I caved and got Amazon Prime (for now) so I can watch it.

      2. ampersand*

        Season 2, episode 1 (The Awkward Dinner) of Fleabag is one of my all-time favorite episodes of a tv show. It’s amazing and you must watch it! It’s been called a masterpiece, so not just my opinion. :) I still think about it years later.

      3. Lilo*

        The second season of Fleabag is an absolute masterpiece. I thought Season 1 was maybe too dark and sad, but Season 2 is much more hopeful.

    9. trust me I'm a PhD*

      I felt so alone last week when I commented that I’d been watching The Brothers Sun and nobody else chimed in! Glad other folks have discovered it! I’m one episode from the ending (and am holding off b/c the last few episodes pack a bigger emotional punch and I don’t have that bandwidth rn).

    10. DistantAudacity*

      I’m watching Marry my husband, which is on Disney+ – surprisingly excellent. The basic story/trope is: woman has been treated badly by husband/family/friends – wakes up in the past and decides «nope, it’s not going to happen like that again!». Also very different in tone from «Perfect Marriage Revenge, even if it has the same basic premise/tropes. No issues watching both!

      Perfect Marriage Revenge is really 12 episodes of balls-to-the-walls, shoestring budget, telenovela shenanigans, highly recommend! Must give kudos to Evil Not-Mom who runs her art gallery in a ball gown.

      Also have started A Shop For Killers on Amazon Prime – the first two eps were great! Lee Dong Wook continues to be terrific.

      This is all Kdrama, btw.

      I’m gonna pick up The Brothers Sun

      1. DistantAudacity*

        Oh, and CW for Marry my husband for showing how an abusive future stupid husband can get his claws into a person. The character will get what’s coming to him, but for Reasons it’s taking some time. The main character sees what’s happening, though.

      2. Stuckinacrazyjob*

        The original manwha for Marry My Husband is on webtoon in English. it was a bit much for me

    11. CTT*

      I watched Past Lives last night, and I am absolutely ready to storm the Academy if it does not get nominated for several Oscars on Tuesday.

      1. The Prettiest Curse*

        Such a great film, though I think it’s sadly going to get crowded out by bigger, noisier films in the Oscars race. I just don’t take the Oscars (or most other film awards) seriously at all, because they get things wrong so often, especially in the acting awards.
        I still kind of enjoy watching the award ceremonies, though!

        1. CTT*

          Yeah, I’m thinking Original Screenplay and maaaaaaybe Actress is where that one will top out at. I follow the Oscars the way some people follow politics; I find reading the tea leaves a fascinating indication of where a voting body’s head is at in this exact moment. Like, the Best Actor race – is this a Paul Giamatti “It’s his time” year? Or will voters think “we’ll probably have an opportunity to give him an Oscar in the future, but we might not with Cillian Murphy”? JUST how much will they be turned off by Bradley Cooper’s desperation?

    12. Yorick*

      Lift on Netflix was fun, but Kevin Hart trying to be a serious action star was boring.
      Role Play on Amazon was great! Kaley Cuoco isn’t my favorite but I thought she was ok here. David Oyelowo was amazing, he was serious but also funny.

      The Percy Jackson show on Disney+ is very entertaining. I loved the books but read them long ago so I don’t remember everything to compare.

    13. The Prettiest Curse*

      So, this is a round-up of about 4 weeks’ worth of stuff;
      – I did a Hayao Miyazaki mini-festival over the holidays, thanks to most Studio Ghibli films being on Netflix. I’d only previously seem Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke (both great), so I watched Howl’s Moving Castle (a bit too overly quirky – also, Howl is not that interesting as a character), My Neighbour Totoro (the Catbus rules!), Kiki’s Delivery Service and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

      If you can tune out the frankly dodgy premise of sending off a 13-year-old girl to have adventures and live on her own (for witchcraft apprentice purposes – this is a fantasy film), Kiki’s Delivery Service is pretty enjoyable. It’s a film about (mostly) lovely people being (mostly) lovely to each other. Also, Kiki’s cat is incredibly cute.

      – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is a somewhat overlooked Miyazaki – I think because it has some very dark themes and parts of it are really sad. I really liked it, the teenage heroine is brave, clever and compassionate and it has a very strong environmental message, rare for a film made in the late 80s.

      – Polite Society is a film about a young British-Pakistani woman trying to use her martial arts skill to stop her sister’s wedding to a dude who is a very handsome red flag factory. It’s absolutely all over the place in both tone and plotting, but it’s pretty entertaining nonetheless.

      – My Life As A Courgette – French stop-motion animation about a kid who gets sent to a group home after his mum dies. Lots of funny moments, but it’s probably in the top 5 saddest films I’ve ever seen. It would be too upsetting to watch if it was live action, but the animation somehow makes the sadness just about bearable.

      – Strange Way of Life – short film directed by Pedro Almodovar, in which Ethan Hawke and Pedro Pascal play cowboys who are ex-lovers. (Most of the action is between the younger versions of their characters, in flashback.) The main characters are both under-developed, but Pascal and Hawke are great and definitely have chemistry together.

      – (Re-watch) – The original version of The Wicker Man (I do not acknowledge the existence of the re-make.) Best British horror film ever made, and the film which, ahem, inspired some major plot points of Midsommar. Much cheesy 1970s nudity, weird sexual stuff and terrible hairstyles. Watching a second time, you realise how the cunning plot of the islanders is totally half-arsed and improvised. The ending, like all great horror films, really Goes There. It’s still shocking, even if you know what’s coming.

      – TV – since they’ve just started showing the second series, I finally got round to watching the first series of Vigil, which is about an intrepid detective with an (of course) Tragic Past uncovering political conspiracies. The first series is a murder mystery set on a nuclear submarine and it’s entirely ludicrous but very gripping. It also confirmed for me that I never want to go on a submarine!

      1. Rara Avis*

        The book is better for Howl’s Moving Castle. We did our own Studio Ghibli miniseries with The Secret World of Arrietty (based on The Borrowers) and Tales from Earthsea.

        1. The Prettiest Curse*

          I haven’t read the book of Howl’s Moving Castle, but I did wonder if some elements of it may have worked better on the page.

    14. NeutralJanet*

      I recently finished The Fall of the House of Usher, which was ALMOST good. I had a lot of fun watching it, but most of the scary scenes were ruined at the end by being a little too ridiculous – I was genuinely disappointed by the episode The Black Cat, which was super effective until the very last shot, which was so silly I almost started laughing. Overall, I wish I hadn’t heard that it was smart, if I’d gone in expecting it to be silly I would probably have enjoyed it more.

  14. Falling Diphthong*

    Current reading: I’m on a T. Kingfisher kick.
    Bryony and Roses is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in which our heroine is a gardener.
    The Raven and the Reindeer is a retelling of the Snow Queen, in which we address whether staying ever true to your childhood crush is always a great idea.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      Still on my Ancient Greek run: the Emily Wilson translations of The Iliad and The Odessey. I especially love her extensive notes about the history and world these works emerged from, and how she chose the rhythm, pacing and translations.

      For work, I’m reading Shirley Jackson’s Hangsaman for the fifteenth or so time–I like to bring stuff I’ve read previously in so it’s not a big deal to stop and start between calls, and I just love all of Jackson’s stuff. This particular book has about fifteen bookmarks in it where there’s writing I especially enjoy.

      1. Cynthia*

        Aren’t the Wilson translations are just incredible!? I was a classics major in college, and those translations just made me see the works in a whole new light. The Scheria section of the Wilson Odyssey especially is my biggest comfort read.

        Have you tried Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr? It’s a great novel with three wildly different timelines that are all concerned with/connected by ancient texts. Highly recommend!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          *pelts to bookstore*

          I loved the last paragraph of her intro to The Odessey: “There is a stranger outside your door.”

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            And I can’t believe how much her notes make me care about stuff like the Catalogue of the Ships: they are a list of the numberless dead, so many young men who never came home.

      2. Phryne*

        I got some alternative take on ancient Greek mythology in with the Lore Olympic webcomic. I am not a huge graphic novel reader (my friend is and forwards me the best ones, most of which I must admit I do enjoy) but I loved the artwork on this one.

      1. Not that Jane*

        My hubby just read this one (Bryony) and another, not sure of the title, to our 7 year old daughter on a road trip. I enjoyed them too! ;)

    2. Rara Avis*

      Me too. Enjoyed Thornhedge (turning Sleeping Beaty inside out) and Nettle & Bone very much. Waiting for the sequel to What Moves the Dead (my kid’s summer reading last year) to come available at the library.

    3. GoryDetails*

      I posted more in Jackalope’s reading thread, but I will second “Bryony and Roses” – having the heroine be an avid VEGETABLE gardener more than a fancier of roses tickled me, and the story has Kingfisher’s blend of humor and horror.

    1. Turtle Dove*

      Mine is mostly small household miscellany: tiny felt pads to put under planters, screws and nails and washers from here and there, Velcro odds and ends, magnets that I might repurpose for crafts, old key rings, and string. Lots of string. I organize the drawer once every few years and use items around a dozen times each year. The stray screws and nails are especially useful.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        Also, I went to a home-organizing seminar with a friend ten or 15 years ago. The instructor was pretty good but lost credibility with me when she said nobody should have a junk drawer because every household item should have a home. I’m pretty organized, but that’s too much for me. I grew up with a junk drawer, and I’m gonna die with a junk drawer.

          1. Slartibartfast*

            This is why my junk drawer is in a basement sofa table :)

            There’s office clips, rubber bands, paper lunch bags, a couple tablet cases for tablets we no longer own but they’re nearly new so I can’t get rid of them in my head, rubber stoppers to keep cupboards from banging, cup hooks, a multi tool,and some curling ribbon.

        1. sagewhiz*

          “every household item should have a home.”

          Ha! I thought the junk drawer was “home” for that kinda stuff!

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I tried not to have a junk drawer under that idea, that everything should have a place.

          Eight years later, the junk drawer is actually the largest drawer in my kitchen. :-P though now that I think about it, it’s actually half “rarely used specialty utensils” and half traditional junk drawer contents. One side has like, piping bags/tips, the grill skewers, the burger press, a box of canning jar lids/bands, reusable lunchbox ice packs we don’t currently need, rolling pin, stuff like that. The other side has command strips of a range of sizes, a couple flashlights, my label maker, chip clips, miscellaneous screwdrivers, a packet of zip ties, specialty light bulbs (the “regular” ones are in the closet), the extra water sensor we haven’t added to our security system yet, and the specialty screwdriver for our doorbell battery. Probably also a couple of stray IKEA Allen wrenches. :-P also the manuals for my small kitchen appliances live tucked against the side of that drawer.

        3. Jay (no, the other one)*

          My junk drawer is organized! There are containers for the stamps, rubber bands, batteries, and pens and pencils. It’s where those things belong. Harumph.

          I would however like to get rid of the random piles of things in the sunroom that really do need a place to go. Seems like we always have one room that’s kind of a dumping ground. The piles have gotten significantly smaller over the years….

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      Ohhh, let’s see:

      Bedside table is fun stuff like inhalers and BC pills, scarves, and old tee shirts with sentimental value. Bottom drawer is full of books I am absolutely going to read for sure. One of these years.

      In the kitchen, the junk drawer has dish towels, rubber bands, a flashlight, one of those long skinny lighters, pens, several rubber-mesh circles to open stubborn jars with, Peanut’s flea medicine capsules, matches, and a bottle opener. Oh, and birthday candles.

    3. Bluebell*

      Over the last year my spouse seems to have turned the kitchen junk drawer into more of a “semi belongs in a tool box” space, so it’s due for a revamp. It used to be mostly coupons, takeout menus and scissors. Now there are batteries, a box cutter, tape measure, and other things I can’t precisely remember, but I know they are irksome when I open the drawer.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        One of our other drawers is the Tool Drawer–everything from hammer and wrenches to a giant bag of rubber bands and tons of batteries.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          We have a small piece of pegboard on the inside of our cellar door. It’s in the hallway just outside the kitchen. Screwdrivers, pliers, a couple of wrenches, large measuring tape, packing tape in cutter/dispenser. When our kid got old enough to use the tools, hubs drew outlines to show where everything goes so she knew how to put things away. That sort of worked….

    4. acmx*

      I have scissors, letter opener, pens, Sharpie, thumbtack, batteries, ruler, blank labels, tape, paper clips, twist ties, luggage tag, button (pin kind), box cutter and that’s all I can think of.

      What’s in your drawer? :)

    5. Enough*

      Scissors, key rings, scotch tape, ruler, eye glass case, paper clips and other types, batteries, New Testament, patch material for something vinyl, sewing items, magic marker, small rubber ring, roll of dog poop bags, bottle opener, stapler remover, post it, screws, nails, and other small items I don’t know what to do with.

    6. ThatGirl*

      Nail clippers, nail files, Thai food takeout menu, old birthday and valentines and anniversary cards, earbuds, gift cards, page flags, batteries, old dog id tag, candle lighter…

    7. Jay*

      I seem to have upgraded at some point in the past to a junk CLOSET.
      For some odd reason this works for me, because, while I can live with horribly messy drawers, the sight of a nightmare closet will send me into a cleaning frenzy at least a couple of times a year. So it never really gets that bad.
      -my bag of tools
      -paper towels
      -my old rock tumbler
      -that old gas mask my grandpa had for some reason (it’s made appearances in several Halloween costumes over the years)
      -old light fixtures that don’t fit over modern bulbs
      -laundry detergent, dryer sheets, fabric softener
      -cleaning supplies
      -rubber gloves
      -large and small vacuum cleaners
      -wet and dry Swiffer’s
      -the Floor Shark hardwood floor steam cleaner
      -floor wax
      -the mop and mop buckets
      -floor cleaners
      -empty and full spray bottles of home-blended cleaners
      -the bag of rags
      -my old cordless drill with the dead battery (I’m going to replace it someday, I swear!)
      -several boxes of drill bits
      -rat and mouse removal products (I live in an old building and get mice early spring and late fall, just after they come out of hibernation and just before the go back into it)
      -bedbug spray
      -mosquito repellent
      -Epsom salts
      -those cloth disks you put on the bottoms of chairs to stop them from marking up the floors and the bigger ones that let you slide around heavy furniture
      -those crayon-type things that fill in scratches in furniture (and never really work that well, no matter what you do)

      That’s all I can think of off hand. Probably forgetting a couple of things, though.

    8. AGD*

      Iron, lip balm, batteries, several pins, bits of paper, spare trash bags, cables I don’t use much, rubber bands, twist ties, and a big plastic bin that doesn’t really fit anywhere.

    9. Anon. Scientist*

      I don’t have a junk drawer but a miscellaneous closet. Previous owner used it for dry goods storage but it’s not actually in the kitchen so we bought a proper wooden pantry for that instead. It holds:

      -His tools (my tools are work related and live in the garage so they can be grabbed easily)
      -vacuum cleaner bags
      -extension cords in a big bin
      -furniture pads
      -light bulbs
      -emergency lantern and candles
      -A strange cooler-based icing system for his bad knee (luckily all bits stored in the cooler)
      -extra/odd sized fabric shopping bags
      -a cloth hammock that really should just be donated
      -tape of all kinds
      -a bin of electronics parts and pieces (hdmi/audio cables and connectors)

      I guess it’s more of a “useful house items” closet than anything else. You’ll note the absence of cleaning stuff, that’s because it’s all shelving and no room for tall stuff.

    10. The OG Sleepless*

      Charging cables, all of the micro screwdrivers we own, a couple of larger screwdrivers, a few fridge magnets that didn’t make it into the current rotation on the fridge, a small Bluetooth speaker, a book weight…

      (goes to look)

      Um, ok. Two multitools, a small hammer, a small electric drill, two battery powered candles from Christmas (why??), and a Mentos shooter (a small plastic tube that you can load with Mentos, to drop them all at once into a two liter bottle of Diet Coke. If you’ve never combined Mentos and Diet Coke, please get thyself to Youtube right now, and then give it a try.)

    11. Mrs. Pommeroy*

      Mostly kitchen-y stuff because said drawer is in the kitchen :)
      There are tooth-picks, rubber bands, various kinds of bin liners, matches, wooden skewers, silicone lids for yoghurt pots, fabric lids coated with something waterproof for all kinds of pots and bowls (I presume those have a name but I am somewhat sick and can’t think of it), various kinds of bag fasteners, a hand-held milk frother, a bag of cocktail stirrers, some zip-lock plastic bags, an unopened box of fly paper, aaaand I can’t think of anything else :D
      Thanks for the fun question!

    12. fhqwhgads*

      At least 4 different size/style batteries, a random lightbulb, deck of cards, lighter, gorilla tape, probably other various tape, random instruction manuals…

    13. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Stamps. Pens and pencils and Sharpies. Twine. Scissors. Ruler. Batteries. Rubber bands. Binder clips. Scotch tape, freezer tape, masking tape. Random keys that we don’t think fit anything in this house and we’re kind of afraid to throw out. Extra keys that actually do fit this house and are labeled as such.

    14. don'tbeadork*

      Which junk drawer? We have at least one in all the main rooms of our house, so 6? in total.

      Not really sure what’s in any of them except the one in the kitchen has a bunch of twist ties and some bag clips. And probably my can opener that my husband struggles to work because he never drops back in the right drawer when he gets frustrated.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Exactly! My drawers in my desk could probably be categorized as “junk” drawers but they are actually organized. For me that’s a term for “catchall spot for that stuff you might need or whatever.”

        This whole thread reminds me of the Junk Drawer Organizer invention exchange on MST: “…and your shoehorn, and that handful of gravel that might be agates, and those pieces of string that might come in handy someday.”

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t have a junk drawer elsewhere, but my toolbox has some crap in it. My old toolbox had a see-through lid with multiple sections where I kept odd nails and screws. I left it behind for the new owner of my house and got a larger one with wheels like a suitcase, but I do miss the little sections.

      Most of the crap is useful, though. Cable ties, rolls of double-sided sticky tape, and a bunch of extra screws, nuts, and tools that came with furniture, etc. The baker’s rack I bought from Wayfair came with a full-sized screwdriver. :) Into the box it went!

    16. Bibliovore*

      off the top of my head–
      spare car fob, container of Nuun tablets, Benadryl, eyeglass wipes, nail file, nail scissors, screw driver, band aids, Neosporin, puffer jacket repair stickers, measuring tape, duct tape, scotch tape, couple of black wing pencils and an hand sharpener, house keys on a Squids will be Squids key chain, random old campaign buttons, dog tags- license and rabies, credit cards in a case that I don’t carry with me, a mezuzah, hand cream, a thingy to pry the doorbell camera off to charge, travel toothbrush, travel toothpaste, cough drops, purell travel size, small flashlight, sobriety coins, random coins from Canada, Japan, England, and Singapore, Suica card and case, expired license, my husband’s wallet.

    17. LA Girl*

      What a great question! Though I don’t think the stuff in these drawers is junk.

      Ours has scissors. Many many scissors. Also floral twine, post-it notes, pens, flashlights, batteries, screwdrivers, IKEA wrenches.

      But even better, we now have what you might call a junk room. (Though, again: not junk.). When we moved a year ago, the new house had a very small room that the Realtor insisted was an office because it had a wet bar. But no. It was not an office. Nor was it a guest room, as it’s too small for a sofa bed to open.

      So we turned it into a “junk” room. We set up 2 IKEA Kallax units to create a wall of cubbies. Everything goes in its own cubby. Party supplies, boxes of photos, paper goods waiting to be used, margarita glasses, serving utensils, baskets with every kind of tape, bartending supplies, printer paper, you name it. Things move around, nothing has an assigned cubby, but because it’s all neatly stowed, it always looks tidy and we can find anything instantly.

      And as an added bonus, we put all our big Lego builds on top of the cabinets. Honestly, it’s a perfect use of this otherwise unusable room. It makes me so happy.

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

      Used my powdered cocoa, powdered milk, and sweet and low to make some hot chocolate (inspired by the earlier hot chocolate thread).

    2. Pippa K*

      Our elderly dog with heart failure made it to her 3-month cardiology checkup, and the vet called it a miracle and said she’s a tough little soldier. We know we haven’t got much time left with her, but despite her problems she’s still been enjoying life and beating the odds. She takes all her pills in spray cheese, so from her point of view things are actually going well.

    3. Might Be Spam*

      My daughter and her boyfriend picked me up because I was taking them out for dinner for his birthday. They parked by my dumpster and I decided to bring out my trash. As soon as they saw me, her boyfriend leapt out of the car and took my trash and recycling from me and put it in the dumpster for me. (It was 11 degrees below zero and the dumpster is really tall.) That must have been the most gentlemanly thing that has ever happened to me.

    4. English Rose*

      Got chatting with someone I often see when out for a walk. Turns out to be a lovely person.

      1. fposte*

        I love those kind of weak ties, which I think deserve a nicer name. There’s a dad who waits with his daughter for the school bus on my morning walking route, and we’ve been doing the eave and good morning thing, and I finally realized he lives just at the end of my block and I should just introduce myself. So I finally got a chance to do that, and he was a treat to meet.

        1. allathian*

          Casual socializing is a thing. I honestly missed it almost as much as I missed seeing my family and friends in person during the lockdowns. It’s so good for the soul to meet a friendly stranger.

    5. allathian*

      Taking it easy after dental surgery yesterday. So far I’ve been pain free thanks to good meds. My biggest gripe is sticking to food that doesn’t need chewing and no hotter than body temperature. But I’m happy to be rid of a troublesome tooth, and for the excuse to eat ice cream in winter.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      More of a big joy: my husband had a melanoma taken out of his arm by his dermatologist. All the margins are clear and the derm was brilliant and my husband has no discomfort at ALL at the (large) incision site.

      1. Citric Zinger*

        I have been through that exact thing, and a big CONGRATULATIONS to you both! Cancer free is an AMAZING feeling. May that status not change. You’ll find the next few months might include (multiple) celebration meals with friends, celebration flowers, celebration outings. (And, for me, whole new appreciation, love and rigorous application of sunscreen, so there wouldn’t be a repeat experience).

    7. WellRed*

      There’s an essay in the NYT today advocating for 2024 to be the year of delight. “Taking time to notice life’s small joys can improve your overall health and outlook.” I think we all can agree with that sentiment!

    8. RuthG*

      I stupidly took the buggy (stroller) on the school run in the snow as my toddler refused to go in the carrier. It was the silliest mistake I think I have made yet as a parent! So stressful, i was on the verge of tears by the time we got to school.

      On the way back home (uphill) one fellow school mum took it in turns pushing with me. Another couple pushed the empty buggy home when my son finally let me carry him in arms. They are lovely, and live really close to me – I had seen them on before but never talked to them. So touched by the kindness of strangers

    9. BellStell*

      Getting more stuff moved to my new apartment. Driving in the snow. Doing this move over 4 weeks so I can do all the paperwork and move easily. And sunshine today!

    10. GoryDetails*

      Saw bluebirds at my suet feeder during the last snowstorm! (They aren’t that rare in my region, but are generally seen near open fields, and not in winter. Apparently their range is changing as the climate does, and while I’m sad about that aspect, it was lovely to see them in my yard.)

    11. WorkingRachel*

      Medium joy? Went to a Drag Race watch party, my friend told the queens I’m giving birth this week, and the whole room sang “Happy Birthday” to my unborn child. Such a great “last night out” before becoming a parent!

    12. Paralegal Part Deux*

      Set my next tattoo appointment! So excited to be getting a Smaug tattoo to go with my LotR tattoo.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      This is kind of ongoing, but I really love my PT team. They’re all just wonderful. They push me hard but they also encourage me — “This exercise is hard because you’re advanced! You’re doing great!” I’m going to miss them when I’m finished.

    14. Girasol*

      We got a rare amount of snow this week. Neighbors were all outside chatting as they shoveled and shoveling out one another. It was nice seeing all the smiles. It was actually kinda nice relaxing with a cocoa in dry clothes but all sore after two hours of shoveling driveways and walks and roof eaves.

    15. Cookies For Breakfast*

      Just had the loveliest afternoon, getting Portuguese custard tart from our favourite bakery in our old neighbourhood (we hadn’t had those cakes in over 2 years!), watching The Holdovers at the cinema, and picking up takeaway sushi on the way back.

      It adds up to yesterday’s dinner at a new pizza place which was excellent, and makes up for the gloom of not leaving the house for 4 days this week (WFH + freezing weather wasn’t a great combination).

    16. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      Since the cold weather started, my dad hasn’t stopped wearing the flannel shirt I got him for Christmas – he’s notoriously hard to shop for so it makes me happy he’s actually using what I got him.

    17. Dicey Tillerman*

      I spent all of Thursday in the emergency room, but my dad stayed right there with me the whole day. Not exactly our usual father-daughter bonding experience!

      And the doctor said I wasn’t being unreasonable for asking for more tests, and my nurse introduced herself as “Maryanne, like on Gilligan’s Island,” and everyone was very kind.

    18. carcinization*

      Mine are almost always food-related, haha! My husband and I went out for teppanyaki for the first time in a long time, which was fun even though the chef was kind of phoning it in. One I can think of that’s not food is that my husband and I were watching old episodes of the Bob Newhart Show on a streaming service for awhile, and were sad when the series was removed from the service… but then I was at a weird auction/resale/antique place Friday and found a DVD set of the complete first season for $5, which is obviously less than a cup of coffee now, so went ahead and bought it!

    19. I take tea*

      My partner and I went for a walk in a winter wonderland and I got to slide down a steep hill on my bum. It was such fun. I’m actually a professional middle-aged woman, but I felt like five again. A very giggly five year old.

  15. sockless giraffe*

    Based on a comment from last weekend, where someone was surprised that people eat more than a serving of fruit and veg for the day: If you achieve 3/4 or more of your country’s recommended intake of fruit and veg (however many that is) how do you do it? When do you eat your fruits and veg? Or are you eating carrots and celery all day long, grazing?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      • Make a side salad as the default with dinner
      • Quickly boil some broccoli or similar for an extra veg with dinner; I also roast a lot of veg, especially if the oven will be on anyhow
      • Raw vegetables on the side of the sandwich or soup at lunch (mini veg are good for this–mini peppers, mini cucumbers, little tomatoes, and I keep some celery in water)
      • Throw a handful of blueberries in with whatever I’m having for breakfast
      • Make a dinner salad (e.g. Smitten Kitchen’s Cheddar Apple Crisp Salad)
      • Make a vegetarian main

      1. WellRed*

        I’m very similar with salads or cut up raw veggies as a side. Soups are s add kid a good way to get in some veggies.

    2. California Dreamin'*

      Years ago I did a Whole 30, where you have to have veggies at every meal. I had thought I’d do veggie omelettes at breakfast, but I’m not a huge egg person, so I settled on a breakfast that I really loved which is an Aidell’s chicken apple sausage with some roasted diced yams and some thinly sliced red cabbage that’s braised in cider vinegar. I know, it sounds so weird, but I just love the way it starts my day off, and though I didn’t keep all of the Whole 30 habits, that one stuck and I’ve had it for breakfast nearly every day for, oh, six years now! So that’s two veg servings just with breakfast. (I roast yams and braise cabbage ahead for the week and then just heat it all with a bit of ghee in a skillet in the mornings.) I often have a piece of fruit at lunch or as a snack, or maybe lunch is a salad. If my favorite fruits, strawberries or cherries, are in season (April-August here) I probably have at least a couple servings of those. And we always have a vegetable at dinner, often two if you count potatoes, and sometimes in the summer we have fruit at dinner (fruit salad or cut up watermelon.)

    3. Alex*

      Well I think the recommendation is 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables, right? But a “serving” is actually pretty small–like a half cup of cooked vegetables is a serving. I’d say I probably eat more like a cup of vegetables at a time, or more if it is something like a salad that is my entire meal. If you eat a vegetable with lunch (a cup) and a vegetable with dinner (a cup) and a piece of fruit at some point, you’ve got 5 “servings” right there.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Right, a serving is less than most people think. A side salad might be two, a large apple or a cup of berries is two, etc.

    4. office hobbit*

      I snack on a lot of dried fruit, which you can double when counting fruit servings (1/4 C dried fruit ≈ 1/2 C fresh). I usually have fruit with lunch or breakfast if not both, and celery as a snack during the day (with peanut butter). I also eat very veg-heavy, large dinners. I mostly eat my veg stir-fried/sauteed with olive oil and salt. Hard to go wrong with that!

    5. My Brain is Exploding*

      I always have fruit with breakfast, usually 1 C blueberries. About 15 years ago we decided to start eating salads for lunch (lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, mushrooms, yellow squash, peppers…a bunch of chopped veggies + some nuts, cheese, cottage cheese, beans, and some kind of meat. IDK how many cups of veggies that is but it feels about right! Then at dinner there is usually a veggie in something or with something, and maybe fruit for dessert, although my spouse will often also have…actual dessert, too.

    6. Linda*

      I have a banana or dried fruit with breakfast, apple slices as a snack, cut up vegetables and dip for another snack, there’s almost always veggies in my lunch and dinner: beef and vegetable stew, squash soup, salads in the summer, stir fry, etc.

    7. Rachel*

      There are three things I do to eat more fruits and vegetables:

      (1) layer carbs with fruits or vegetables. This is not complicated, I’m talking about a chopped up apple in a bowl of oatmeal or some leftover vegetables in an omelette. If you think of carbs as a vehicle for other foods, it’s easier to incorporate more variety.

      (2) know your limits for repetition. Some people can meal prep an entire week’s worth of meals and they don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast for an entire week. Some people don’t like to eat the same meal two days in a row. I’m in the middle, I like to meal prep breakfast (high protein breakfast biscuits or homemade egg bites are big this winter). I can’t eat them straight in a row, it’s more of every-other-day. You have to know yourself.

      (3) prepped vegetables and fruit cost more money and this is a skill you probably have. However. If the choice is between not eating a carrot and eating a carrot that comes pre-sliced, it’s better to eat the carrot pre-sliced. I’ve had good luck with Trader Joe’s prepped foods, in particular their onion, carrot, and celery container. This makes starting soups so much easier. If you can afford it, take advantage of prepared fruits and vegetables so you are assembling more than cooking.


      Minimalist Baker: https://minimalistbaker.com/easy-nourishing-plant-based-meals/

      Pinch of Yum:

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      I always pack two snacks and lunch for work every day, and sometimes dinner. Since I basically have to lay out all my food for the day (except breakfast) in the morning, I really have to think through what I eat that day, which I think makes it easy to plan to have lots of fruits and vegetables.
      Like yesterday, for example in my lunchbox was:
      -One container with sugar snap peas and cut up apples for morning snack.
      – lunch- a wrap made of leftover veggie curry, container of cut up pineapple and cucumber, and a muffin.
      – orange for afternoon snack
      – dinner- sandwich which had half an avocado, cucumber, egg, and cheese. Cut up carrots.
      For breakfast I had a banana with a muffin.
      When I got home after work, I ate a couple forkfuls of kimchi out of the jar.
      I will say when I’m home for dinner we usually eat fruit for dessert- maybe this is a very Asian thing? It’s when I grew up doing.
      I think because I don’t like buying lunch and I don’t like being hungry, I make sure I have enough food for the whole day when I leave the house in the morning, which in turn makes me be very mindful of what is in my lunch box.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        Does the apple/orange by itself make your blood sugar spike? I’ve found apples make me hungrier unless I eat them with nuts or cheese or something.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          Oh interesting! No, I’ve never noticed that. (I actually had to google what that might feel like.). But I do always have string cheese or nuts at work as well, so I will often eat some of that if the fruit doesn’t seem like enough on its own.

      2. GlowCloud*

        On a typical day, I pack a banana, an apple, 2 satsumas and a bunch of grapes alongside a sandwich and a couple of chocolate digestives in my lunchbox at work, so I get 4/5 a day across my 2 work breaks.
        Then at home, I usually cook something with at least 2 or 3 types of veg in a tomato sauce, or about 5 types in a stir-fry. I don’t really know how the portions work out if it’s meant to be a handful of each, but it’s all been simmered down into something probably akin to 2 handfuls of sauce atop a pile of carbs, but whatevs.
        My auntie loves making veggie tray-bakes, which are easier to quantify.

        If I think that I haven’t had enough veg in a day to make me feel virtuous, I ‘cheat’ by having a glass of apple juice, but it’s really just a placebo for me.

        But I vaguely remember hearing somewhere (on QI?) that the scientists recommended we all eat closer to 10 portions of fruit & veg in a day, but the UK gov. figured that wasn’t achievable for us Brits, and we’d be lucky to get 5. Ultimately, your body only knows that you’re feeding it molecules. So I’m not sure how closely we need to obsess over what we eat unless we’re actively developing a goiter or something.

        Further reading: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/14/five-a-day-fruit-vegetables-portion-supermarket

    9. RagingADHD*

      Normally I have raw fruit / veg with breakfast and lunch, and a cooked veggie with dinner. So a piece of fruit (or serving of berries) with breakfast, or as a snack between breakfast and lunch.

      Then a veggie and a fruit with my lunch (like baby carrots and grapes, something easy to pack). Again, if I’m too full to finish the fruit, I’ll usually want it around 3-4 in the afternoon.

      Sometimes I’ll have a big salad or 2 veggies with dinner. Other times I’ll just have 1 veg and then fruit before bed.

      It’s not every day, but I guess 80 percent of the time. I was brought up that a “real” meal was a protein, starch, and 1-2 plants, so it just seems regular to me.

    10. Lemonwhirl*

      I don’t really care for fruit, but I do eat a lot of veg.
      I cut up peppers and carrot sticks at the weekend and then have them for snacking during the week. I also cut some up into little cubes that I can sprinkle on hummus toast.
      I also put a few servings of veg into every dinner. I make a lot of stir fries.

    11. vegan velociraptor*

      I’m vegan (at home – I’ll eat dairy when I’m eating out sometimes), so our meals are usually really centred around vegetables. We get a weekly veg box, too, so we’re always thinking of ways to use them up. Often our protein for a meal is beans or chickpeas, which also counts as a serving. I also usually have a piece of fruit with my breakfast cereal, and sometimes have juice in the house.

    12. Angstrom*

      The convenience of frozen vegetables. One of my default snacks is a bowl of frozen(microwaved) mixed veg or peas with an interesting topping, like chili crisp, z’atar, etc.
      Always have fresh and dried fruit available.
      Homemade soups are always loaded with veg.

    13. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have taken a habit of buying a couple of three pound bags of apples each week and turning most of it into a big pot of applesauce, along with whatever fruit I didn’t get to over the past week. (Not grapes or citrus, but berries, mango, pears, stone fruit all work.) A big bowl of warm applesauce often hits the spot when I’m having sweet cravings of an afternoon, and it actually has the equivalent of like three apples in it with no added sugar. (The only things I put in my applesauce aside from fruit is Penzey’s pie spice and a splash of vanilla.) I have joked that it’s like the fruit equivalent of turning the leftover vegetables into soup. :)

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Today’s is two different kinds of apples, leftover apple-pears from a Costco experiment, frozen blueberries and frozen peaches. :)

    14. mreasy*

      I include multiple veggies in my lunch and dinner – eg a soup that has kale, plus an additional side of salad, carrots, etc. Or I’ll have 2 roasted veggie sides along with chicken/eggs/tofu & a potato or grain with dinner.

      Key for me is batch cooking over the weekends, as most roasted veggies are still great reheated.

      I also find packing one’s lunch is a great opportunity for this as you’re committed to what you prepared when you weren’t hungry for it.

      And if you really want to level up… I have steel cut oats for breakfast with a scoop of roast mashed sweet potato or butternut squash in the morning. That’s one veg out of the way by breakfast, and it’s sweet!

    15. Slartibartfast*

      Breakfast is typically Greek yogurt parfait or a smoothie, weekends if I make eggs and toast, there’s also some clementines or red grapefruit.

      Lunch at work I’m doing a protein, a veggie and a fruit and avoiding carbs. The fruit is usually an apple but more variety in summer, whatever looks good at the farmer’s market. The veggie can be anything from a Steamfresh package from the freezer section – lots of variety there. Summer there’s lots of cucumbers and tomatoes, lots of salads made on spinach. Celery and carrots in moderation because they get boring fast.

      Dinner will have a side vegetable or a veggie based sauce or a salad, except for Friday night which is pizza and a break from cooking. Technically there’s vegetables in the sauce and toppings I suppose.

      The kids are too skinny and dad grew up with dessert, but I usually stick to an Outshine fruit bar.

    16. Frieda*

      One of my NY resolutions this year is to eat a piece of fruit or some kind of vegetable with breakfast. So far it’s going fine.

      The key for me is to have a partner who for whatever reason is maybe slightly hyper fixated on getting the “right” amount of veggies (which for him is an amount that far exceeds the RDA, don’t ask, I don’t know.) This has led me to the practice of adding a side vegetable to any and every meal I prepare, including what I think of as mostly-vegetable meals. We end up eating a lot of roasted cauliflower which is a pretty neutral-tasting vegetable and when roasted well, basically falls apart. He adds it to soup, substitutes it for rice, eats it just as a separate course for the meal, and so on.

      Other options: roasted carrots, a side salad, roasted broccoli (which I’m less fond of).

    17. RussianInTexas*

      A big handful of berries or fruit in my oatmeal.
      Vegetarian lunch, which I usually meal prep and mostly based on beans or lentils, and had all kinds of other veggies and tomatoes. An apple or an orange as an afternoon snack.
      A salad and/or mandatory vegetable side with the dinner. Fruit after dinner.
      I also try to bulk up most of non-dessert recipes with vegetables.

    18. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I do graze on carrots a lot, I love them! But I mostly do it in a boring way:
      – Lunch/dinner both veggie centric, like a soup/stew/curry in cold weather or salad in warmer times.

      – I prep a big load of food every weekend, and so my meals during the week can be pulled straight out of the fridge – right now I have roast cauliflower and baked sweet potatoes in there, which I can slap some protein on and that’s me sorted

      – Breakfast is almost always fruit/yogurt. Afternoon snack is often more fruit

      It helps that I have a high tolerance for repetition, and time/energy/resources to cook so much one day a week, those are luxuries for a lot of people.

    19. Nicki Name*

      * An orange every day at breakfast
      * Lunch is usually soup containing mostly vegetables, which I make in big batches and then freeze as individual portions
      * Dinner includes vegetables, either mixed in or as a side
      * One of my staple snacks is golden raisins, and depending on the time of year I might also snack on fresh fruit

    20. Nervous Nellie*

      I think like a restaurant and premake large batches of items to reheat as needed. On Sundays I make a big pan of bean and egg breakfast burritos, and when I reheat one each morning, I add at least a cup of frozen chopped spinach or kale, and a sprinkling of strong grated cheese like old cheddar or gruyere. I also make frequent large pots of ‘kitchen sink’ soup from all kinds of chopped veg or just leftover tired veg I find in the fridge, and have that on hand & ready for reheatable lunches. At lunch, I add more frozen chopped greens into that soup that I reheat. I snack on frozen blueberries – yummy and almost crunchy. I also cut up apples and freeze them – a great and easy snack.

    21. Anon in IL*

      For breakfast. I sauté some onion, tofu and a LOT of frozen broccoli or fresh cabbage (like two cups) in a small frying pan. Then I mix in a beaten egg.

    22. Yorick*

      Fruit with breakfast, sometimes also vegetables with scrambled eggs
      Salad or soup with lunch (I often pair salad with a sandwich, quesadilla, or something)
      Fruit for snack
      At least one vegetable with dinner
      Also, I think salsa counts, at least as a fraction of a serving.

    23. Girasol*

      I’ve been on a roasted veggie kick lately: cube carrots, beets, purple potatoes, broccoli (especially the stems), onions, and turnips; coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme, and roast on a sheet pan for 30-60 minutes at 400 (smaller cubes take less time.) And then I melt some cheese over. But I also have cottage cheese with frozen berries (thawed in the microwave) for breakfast, and use a lot of homemade soups and stews that are made with the idea in mind of packing in adequate protein and lots of veggies. Everyone says salads are the trick to packing in veggies but soups work even better.

    24. HannahS*

      Well, today I had carrot salad and cucumber salad (these are very simple recipes) at lunch, then I’ll have fruit sauce for a snack with my toddler, and for dinner I’ll finish the blended vegetable soup from a few days ago.

      On a weekday, I might have an apple at lunch and serve a green vegetable at dinner, and just be conscious of serving myself a large portion of vegetable. I like to have two vegetables on the table of different colors (say, roasted potatoes and sauteed broccoli, or butternut squash soup and cucumber salad) but this doesn’t usually happen during the week, unless we have leftovers. I don’t snack much, but I do like dates and nuts as a snack.

      The former food guide in Canada required serving sizes so large that it exceeded my caloric needs! Now they say, make your plate half vegetables. I aim for that, and I’m satisfied if it’s a third at lunch and dinner.

    25. ampersand*

      It’s easiest if you’re eating veggies as part of a dish—like veggie soup, or a salad with lots of fresh vegetables, or baked veggies as sides. I add zucchini to quite a few recipes because it’s easy and doesn’t change the flavor of most foods. I think fruit is easier since you can throw a handful of berries or part of a banana into cereal or yogurt. I also make spinach + fruit smoothies.

      I feel like it would be much harder to eat the recommended amount as snacks alone, or even raw. I love vegetables but eating, say, raw carrots or celery is something I can only do in moderation. Honestly I get tired of having to chew so much and give up way before I get full. This could just be me, though.

    26. Girasol*

      I forgot to say stir fry: a lot of different veggies (broccoli, carrots, cabbage, onions, pea pods, and such) stir fried tender-crisp and dressed with soy sauce, ginger, and garlic, maybe thickened with a little cornstarch or arrowroot. I could eat that forever. Two cups of that with some chicken is dinner tonight.

    27. Nela*

      I typically eat a lot of fruit, 1 or 2 at breakfast and another one for a snack. (There’s always bananas in our home, and some in season fruits that we like.)
      When I worked with a dietitian, she felt I wasn’t getting enough vegetables because I was only having a few servings for lunch. Here’s what she proposed, and I try to stick with it when I can:
      – Add lettuce or a sliced cucumber to sandwiches.
      – Keep shredded, seasoned cabbage in the fridge to add to any meal.
      – Eat burritos and egg rolls instead of sandwiches more often (those can contain more vegetables).

      Basically, she suggested that every single large meal includes a large piece of veg, or a salad as a side. I’m not really used to having a salad on the side of boiled eggs, but I do what I gotta do.

      But sometimes snacking on a whole carrot is the most I can manage, and that’s fine too.

      1. Anon Poster*

        One of my favorite breakfasts used to be a little breakfast salad with boiled egg, spinach, avocado, baby tomatoes, and just a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I ate it almost every work day for a year, then one day my brain was like “nope, I have maxed out on this,” and I haven’t had it since. But, for that year I felt so smugly healthy.

        1. Nela*

          Mmm, sounds great. Unfortunately we don’t get avocados imported very often where I live, so I rarely get to eat them. I wish I could have one daily!

  16. Claire*

    I am drowning in root vegetables from our Winter CSA right now and need some vegetarian ideas other than roasting to deal with 5lbs of beets (all colors) and 2lbs of parsnips. I also have about 15lbs of potatoes and another 5lbs of carrots, but those are much easier to use up!

    1. sockless giraffe*

      I made pickled beets this year, which were surprisingly good. I also made egyptian pickled turnips, which take a beet for colour, and they were very good.

    2. Bluebell*

      Mark Bittman’s raw beet salad recipe is delicious. Supposedly if you have a mandoline you can make snacky beet chips, but I’ve never attempted that.

    3. Snell*

      PARSNIPS!!! Love ’em and can never get my hands on enough of them. My go-to is parboil big chunks for about 10 minutes, maybe less, season, oil, then roast at 425F for 25-30 minutes. Adjust the timing to your own oven; I cook it for that long because my oven is pathetic and is miscalibrated and/or can never get up to temperature. Sometimes I don’t parboil if I’m short on time and it’s still delicious, but parboiling + roast makes parsnips that are like roast potatoes, if potatoes were a vegetable.

      Lately I have been experimenting with parsnips in mash, and getting really nice results. It’s not purely parsnip mash though, I’m fiddling around with the ratios of parsnip/potato/rutabaga/carrot. Boil, mash, pack into a dish, top with seasoned breadcrumbs, bake. It is most definitely the season of root veg right now.

      1. Snell*

        Whoops, missed the part about no roasting in my enthusiasm for parsnips. I really, really do love roast parsnips, though. Try out the mash, then? Purely potato mash is sometimes too much for me, so adding in things like parsnip, carrot, and rutabaga really scratches the mashed potato itch for me.

        Parsnips in blended soup is also really lovely, and I’d have a bowl any day. I usually don’t only because I favor roasting so much.

        Not me, but Alton Brown did a Good Eats episode on parsnips in unconventional applications. The muffins don’t sound bad at all.

        Also, for the beets, if roasting is out, I’d probably add it in to homemade hummus (like, properly food-processored-in, not as a dipper). Adds a pretty color, flavor, and the wholesome feeling of eating your vegetables. Also I’m a fan of hummus in general. Come to think of it, there’s no reason not to add it in to store-bought hummus.

    4. Not that Jane*

      I make a beet salad with chunks of cooked beets (I roast them but you could also boil); chunks of firm, tart apples eg Pink Lady; some finely diced red onion, quick-pickled in a mix of balsamic vinegar & fresh orange juice; a good shake of salt; and a lot of chopped parsley. The apples & beets complement each other nicely and the onion adds some complexity.

      … adding beets to my shopping list now ;)

    5. Past Lurker*

      Apparently you can add beets when you make hummus or pesto. The color of the hummus or pesto will be different than usual of course. Haven’t tried it myself but now I’m curious!

      1. BlueWolf*

        I’ve made a beet pesto pizza with kale and goat cheese before. Really delicious. The beet pesto is just roasted beets, garlic, almonds, white wine vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Then use that for the pizza sauce and top with chopped kale, shredded mozzarella, and goat cheese. The beet pairs really nicely with the goat cheese. I’m sure the pesto would freeze well too.

    6. Beet Man*

      beet risotto! basically cook shredded beets, then make risotto and add the beets in. there’s a few good recipes online.

      1. GoryDetails*

        Second the beet risotto! (The first version I made used chunks of red beets, and resulted in a delicious crimson rice studded with deep-red bits. Have wanted to try it with different colors of beets; yellow ones would be glorious.)

    7. Lore*

      Pretty much anything you can cook with a carrot, you can do with a parsnip—including cake! I also love them in mushroom barley soup.

    8. Fellow Traveller*

      Meeta sodha’s cookbook East has a recipe for beet and yogurt rice that I like a lot. I can’t find a link, but if you find the cookbook, i highly recommend. it’s grated beets cooked with curry leaves, cumin, shallots, garlic, chiles and coconut. Then when cooked, mixed with yogurt and cooked rice.
      I also the other day made salt and vinegar stir fried potatoes, and mixed in a couple golden beets and it was really tasty.

    9. Zelda*

      Beet pancakes are a favorite around here: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/beet-and-carrot-pancakes-5110

      Beet bread: https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/honey-beet-bread/ I’ve also adapted a recipe for pumpkin bread to use beet puree instead, although I haven’t perfected the spice mixture for it yet.

      Also seconding the recommendation for pickling. And I actually have two different recipes for beet chocolate cake, one from joythebaker.com and one from bonappetit.com.

    10. mreasy*

      Seconding borscht! I do a beet slaw when I have them on hand & want something fresh in the winter. Peel and grate (shred w food processor if you can and have a lot of em), then toss with salt. AC or red wine vinegar, a thinly sliced red onion or a couple of shallots, and let sit out to macerate for 30ish minutes. Then add salt and any sweetener to taste and slug on some olive oil. Minced parsley also a nice thing to add at this point. Keeps for AGES in the fridge as it’s essentially pickled, and it’s an easy veg side to grab when you’re in a hurry.

      Cannot help with parsnips as I loathe them. Good luck out there!

    11. Falling Diphthong*

      If you have a mandoline the thin-sliced beets can go in a salad raw (I especially like this for yellow beets and candy cane beets) or as dippers on a veggie-and-dip tray.

      I also find you can peel and dice a single beet and microwave it.

      Parsnips I would add to mashed potatoes. Also good peeled and roasted with carrots.

    12. RussianInTexas*

      Russian “vinigret” beet salad, there are a ton of recipes online.
      Also: season with oregano, salt, pepper, sweet paprika and roast cubed beets and sweet potatoes, couple of each. Let cool. Mix with chopped red onion, chopped parsley, some rinsed cooked chickpeas, chopped walnuts, a cup of the pomegranate seeds. Make dressing out of olive oil, pomegranate molasses, sumak, honey, lemon juice, salt, pepper.
      Both last on the fridge for 3 days or so and make good lunches.

    13. Buni*

      I’m spending today souping as I’ve just about run down the freezer from before (looks like today is going to be one batch of cauliflower cheese (soup) and one of sweetcorn + smoked paprika). Given a glut of veg my go-to is always soup, so adding to the shouts of ‘Borscht!’ + potato soup, parsnip soup, carrot soup…. you get the idea.

    14. Nervous Nellie*

      Parsnips! If you are a baker, substitute grated parsnips for grated carrots in any carrot cake recipe. Parsnips lend a complex, ‘fruit cakey’ flavor to this cake. They’re also yummy raw as a nibbley snack.

    15. Yorick*

      Make red velvet cake with beets! I’ve tried it once, grated them and used them in the batter raw. You can also roast and then make a puree for the batter.

    16. Kt*

      Sliced cooked beets with goat cheese on top. Think caprese but with beets, goat cheese, parsley instead.

      My favorite way to cook the beets: wash, trim ends, wrap in foil to be airtight, bake. The peel slips off easily when the beet is cooled off.

      Beets and walnuts are another good pairing. Beet, walnut, goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, parsley, dill….

      Beet + smoked salmon blinis.

      If you are adventurous and tired of straight beets, try making a beet chocolate cake. For real :)

    17. Girasol*

      I saw a recipe in a newspaper that was like a baked macaroni and cheese except that instead of macaroni it had braised root veggie cubes.

    18. carcinization*

      Katzen has a Parsnip Cake recipe in one of her cookbooks (similar to carrot cake), I don’t remember if it’s the Moosewood or Enchanted Broccoli forest one. I really liked it when I made it. Other than that, soup….

    19. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you get white turnips with purple tops try Lebbanese luft (pickled turnip). I’ve never found them commercially available that weren’t too salty to enjoy, but the ones my mother in law used to make were heavenly. Bonus, they were good in homemade sushi in the role of gobo/carrot.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Good grief speech to text and auto carrot are ganging up on me today. Lebanese.

    20. I take tea*

      Grate raw beets fine and add a little grated fresh horse radish on top. They go very well together and makes a fine side dish.

      You can make nice vegetable patties with beets. If you eat meat, you can also add mince, capers, potatoes and onion to make Biff a la Lindström.

      Borstj, as other people have said.

      Parsnip puree soup. You can add a little potatoe if it feels too strong.

    21. Claire*

      I went with a non-blended borscht, which used beets, parsnips, onions, potatoes and also let me throw in the small head of cabbage languishing in the fridge. Very delicious!

      I do have a mandoline, so the Bittman beet chips (and using some parsnips too) are next on my list of things to try! I love roasted beets and parsnips, but I’ve done them SO MUCH this winter that I needed some suggestions to branch out! Thanks!

  17. Kate*

    Looking for face cream/mask recommendations!

    The cold snap we have just gotten has turned my face into a desert. The skin is so dry that it is red and actually cracking.

    I have a daily face moisturizer, but what I need right now is a sort of ultra-powerful REPAIR cream or mask that I can use as a one off to try and heal my face (like that stuff you can use on your feet when your heels are so dry that they crack)

    1. Alex*

      I have the night cream/mask from Vichy and love it. I think I will use some tonight! You can put it on lightly for a moisturizer, or more heavily for a “mask” experience. It comes in a little blue glass jar and you can buy it most CVSs in the “fancy face cream” section. I think it was about 30 dollars.

    2. goddessoftransitory*

      I really love Smith’s Rosebud Salve, which you can get on Amazon and at Sephora. It’s soothing and genuinely heals cracked, dry skin. It may not be a good moisturizer per se, since it’s a jelly (like Vaseline) but it’s great for dabbing throughout the day.

    3. Kingfisher*

      Cerave skin renewing night cream! It’s the only moisturizer that does enough for my skin. If I need extra help, I’ll layer squalane from the Ordinary underneath and a layer of something like Eucerin or Vaseline on top to seal it in. (I don’t really love doing this because of petroleum products, but it makes a difference). There are also ointments you can get, but I haven’t personally tried them.

    4. ThatGirl*

      You might think I’m nuts but a good regular night cream plus a thin layer of Vaseline. It’ll help seal in the moisture and heal your skin.

      1. mreasy*

        I have recently learned this has been turned into a TikTok skincare trend called “slugging”! Put your regular stuff on then a layer of Vaseline/Aquaphor (any occlusive) to seal it in. Just don’t use a serum or a moisturizer with active ingredients (like vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid) as this could cause them to overdo it. I sometimes just put the occlusive on my cheeks, which get the dryest/windburned overnight and it works great!

        I usually do a night cream plus an overnight repair oil and the two layers really help my dry skin.

      2. Voluptuousfire*

        I do this pretty much every night. I use either Rosehip oil or jojoba oil as my moisturizer, then put a layer of Cerave daily moisturizer over that. I let that settle in and then I use a jelly stick from Vaseline to seal it. My skin looks amazing in the morning.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Vaseline Intensive Careal Advanced Repair. I got it as a freebie at a fair probably 10 years ago and I’ve been hooked ever since. I don’t use it on my face often but in sub-freezing weather? Yes.

    5. RLC*

      First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. Heals dry cracked skin on my neck almost as well as prescription cream but without steroids. Contains colloidal oatmeal which helps any itchiness, bonus effect. Not much scent.
      Another possibility, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. The original version from the 1930s works well on my cracked skin, and there are newer formulations too. Caution that it has a rather strong medicinal scent which may not be tolerated by all (haven’t tried the newer “less scented” version). The original version is very thick and stiff, must be warmed in hands to be applied.

      1. Circuses are Coordinated*

        Lush Ultrabalm. My go-to for very dry conditions or when I will be outside for hours in windy conditions. There is a bit of scent to it but not much. Not petroleum based. I have sensitive skin and it’s been very soothing for me with no adverse reactions. I put on a layer at night instead of regular moisturizer for dry conditions. Good luck and hope you find something that helps quickly!

    6. Helvetica*

      Depends on what’savailable to you but I swear by Weleda Skin Food; I use the light version daily but the original would be a good repair type of cream. Avene Cicalfate is also very good, though I personally am not a fan of its texture.

    7. Damn it, Hardison!*

      First Aid Beauty ultra repair cream is great (Ulta, Sephora, Amazon), as is Weleda Skin Food (Amazon, Whole Foods) but my current favorite is Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Skin Barrier Moisturizing Cream (Sephora, Amazon). It fixes my extra dry skin in no time.

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

      I use Aquaphor Baby diaper rash ointment for this (on the recommendation of my dermatologist). It has glycerin and mineral oil, but also zinc which is very soothing, healing, and protective. Only at night because the zinc means that it goes on pretty white.

    9. DistantAudacity*

      For insta-heal I look for products with after-care/for irritated skin in the description, which I’ve used when I’ve had something more intensive done , like the Cicaplast series from La Roche Posay. as others have said, spot-treat with Vaseline a couple of nights will help (for me I can’t do it all the time, because I break out spots).

      Additionally, masks with the magic words «hyaluronic acid» tend to be good for moisture.

      For the dry winter, I’ve added in the Cera-Ve Hyalorinic Acid Serum as an addition into my daily routine, which seems to have been helpful.

    10. Sunflower*

      You need something like an Aquaphor Healing Ointment and just lather lather lather. I also have found Neutrogena Body Oil to work wonders on dry skin.

    11. Chauncy Gardener*

      Eucerin is great for the economy side of things. Then top with Aquaphor to seal it in. La Mer is incredible for the super expensive end.

    12. Double A*

      This is more maintenance but at night I just use straight Jojoba oil because I read it’s the closest thing to sebum.

      I impulse bought the “COSRX Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence” when it was on sale (I’ll pay $15 but not $30) and I am actually shocked at how visibly it moisturizes. I mostly put it on in the morning but sometimes at night.

    13. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Eucerin “original healing cream,” the tub that says it’s for “extremely dry, compromised skin.”

      I was surprised and pleased at how well and quickly it healed torn bits of skin on my hands. It isn’t specifically to use on your face, though.

      Part of what I like about this stuff is that it’s fragrance-free.

    14. 2024 - What will you be?*

      I’m a decades long fan of Paula’s Choice products for my roseacea. I can’t use anything else or I get bright red. I strongly recommend visiting their website. Only downside is it has to be ordered, not in stores, but well worth i t.

    15. Dwight Schrute*

      my go to is usually some bio oil mixed with a thick moisturizer like Cetaphil, CeraVe, ponds, etc. I go for the night creams to get the right texture.

      best of luck! chapped skin is so uncomfortable

    16. Qwerty*

      Check your face cleanser ingredients and take a break from the ones with salicylic acid since that dries your face out and slows down healing. Avoid using facemasks like clay cream because they pull moisture out of your skin when they dry.

      A little bit of antibiotic cream or vaseline on the worst parts does wonders because it creates a barrier and locks the moisture in. If you are worried about breakouts, gently wash it off after a couple hours.

    17. Garden Gnomic*

      Sudocrem – it’s primarily sold as a diaper-rash cream, but it’s recommended for sunburns, scars, and other types of skin irritation, and perfectly suitable for faces.

    18. Despairingly unemployed*

      I love Weleda, they launched a new face collection called skin food which is great, when I use it regularly I don’t get dry skin. If you’re looking just for the one, get the night one, it’s a bit heavier than the day one but still smooth and not thick on the skin. I’d have recommended their sensitive facial oil but they’ve discontinued it! It was my go to during winter… :(

  18. Ali*

    What is the most absolutely basic, bare-bones level of skincare? For someone who truly finds the whole…category/subculture/array of options opaque, doesn’t wear makeup, and has skin that really doesn’t seem to need much? I put on sunscreen if I’m going to be in the sun, but right now that’s it. Am wondering about what the next step up would be.

    1. Alex*

      What makes you think you need skincare? My mom is 80 years old with almost perfect skin still, and has never, not once, done anything in particular to her face, including using any kind of face wash or moisturizer or makeup. Sometimes it’s genes! (Unfortunately I have my dad’s skin, which is prone to redness and is very dry).

      1. Ali*

        Haha, I guess corporations have made me think I need skincare? It seems like there are a lot of people who at least swear up and down that you need to clean it and moisturize it once/twice a day. But maybe I’ll just stay following your mom’s path!

        1. Roland*

          I feel you but you’ll notice that it’s only women who are told this! If you’re using sunscreen, then I’d say you are doing more than the bare minimum, which is “nothing”. The next step up would probably just be using sunscreen even when it’s cloudy.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Most men I know (looks at Husband,) unless they had skin issues in their younger days, don’t really bother with skin care until they hit their forties and really start visibly aging.

              Then they want to raid YOUR carefully curated and expensive supplies and you have to slap their hands and instruct them to buy their own. (They also tend to sulk when two days of application doesn’t restore the full dewy glow of youth.)

        2. Workerbee*

          Good for you for recognizing that soooo much of skincare is about giving other people your money! (It’s hard to see that.)

          I have a sunscreen moisturizer I use year round, including my hands and neck. On mega sun days/less covered up days I add on a regular sunscreen all over. ;)

      2. sockless giraffe*

        Yep, this is pretty much me. Nearly 60. I sometimes wash my face, and try to remember sunscreen. I barely have any wrinkles. It’s all genes. I lost the genetic lottery in other respects, though.

      3. Mimmy*

        I’m so glad I’m not the only one who does very little with their face! I don’t wear make-up often (occasionally just a little blush and lipstick; I use powder for special occasions or job interviews) and I only wash my face with soap and water in the shower. I too have been under the impression that skincare is important but didn’t understand all of the choices. So glad to know it’s okay to not do it if I don’t really need it.

    2. Valancy Snaith*

      Probably face wash + moisturizer + sunscreen. I’d say the most barebones routine would be to rinse your face with water in the morning, apply moisturizer and sunscreen, and wash your face in the evening with a nice gentle wash (Cetaphil is gentle for just about all skin), then moisturize again.

      1. Future*

        I think that can be simplified further by just using a moisturiser with a decent SPF, though that may partly depend on how much sun protection is needed. I’ve done nothing but mild non-drying cleanser (like cetaphil or cerave) and Oil of Olay spf 15 (unscented) every morning and then another wash of cleanser in the evening most of my adult life and now in my 40s I am surprised to say that get a lot of compliments about my skin, so I guess it’s working. (I do change it up a bit if it’s a time of year or location that requires more sunscreen, and sometimes add a bit of AHA to the moisturiser to clear blackheads, but it’s usually that basic routine).

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I like La Roche Posay for a simple moisturizer with sunscreen; recced by my daughter who shares my aversion to the heavy feel of a lot of facial sunscreens.

    3. Snell*

      I wash my face with a face cloth wet with tap water often enough for my face not to feel greasy or grimy. Honestly, unless you are actually experiencing a problem with your skin right now, I’d continue to do what’s comfortable for you. A lot of the really in-depth, complex, “Here’s my skincare routine” stuff you see going around is people’s hobbies, not necessarily their needs. People who get that into skincare are that into skincare because it’s what they like. If that isn’t you, that’s fine.

      1. Snell*

        Oh, also, I wear hats for shade when I can. I didn’t think about it in terms of “this is skincare,” but skin protection is the reason I wear hats regularly. If hats aren’t an option, like you, I apply liberally.

      2. nnn*

        Yes and I feel like lately I’ve been seeing more people saying their skin does better when they do less to it or even stop their skincare routine altogether!

      3. Sloanicota*

        Yes, I didn’t always understand this but for plenty of people part of their “self care” is tending to their bodies – which is fine! But it’s not for me. I don’t moisturize myself or do face sheets or whatever for fun, because it’s not fun for me. A lot of the necessity of the routine is because you’ve done something else, eg wash your face with special stuff to get rid of all the excess makeup / moisturizer you did earlier. The less you do, the less you need to do. PS: my twelve year old niece is passionate about “skincare” now thanks to TikTok and says that’s what all her friends are into …

        1. peanut butter*

          my teenager is the same. I’m not convinced it’s helping her acne like she thinks. she uses 10 different products.

      4. Falling Diphthong*

        This is a helpful perspective as I was puzzled by a lot of anecdotal “giving fancy skin care stuff” from Christmas. I would want to either know exactly what the person used, or be sharing something that had worked well for me. Treating it as a hobby and a way to try out stuff you wouldn’t normally buy yourself makes sense.

      5. Ali*

        Incredibly good point to frame skincare as a hobby!

        I do do a lot of hat-wearing in the summer, I have a couple of fancy sunhats.

    4. Betty*

      My BFF is a dermatologist and I just asked her this! I don’t wear makeup and really don’t want to spend a bunch of time on skincare. I do basically nothing now (seriously…I started the convo by asking if I’m supposed to wash my face in the morning and at night) but I want to do something now that I’m in my late 30s (hoping to fend off wrinkles!)
      You can skip the vitamin C and retinol if you’re younger/not worried about wrinkles.

      Morning: wash face with CeraVe, apply Vitamin C serum and let dry, apply CeraVe daytime moisturizer, apply sunscreen.
      Night: wash face with CeraVe, apply retinol, apply CeraVe night moisturizer.

      That’s it! Affordable, widely-available products and easy to stick with.

    5. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I splash lukewarm water on my face when i get up and before I go to bed. I don’t use soap on my face, but I wash my hair with baby shampoo about twice a week, and wash my face with that at the same time. My regular moisturizer is coconut oil, except if I need something more with the dry heat in my house in the winter – but the coconut oil is good for day and night otherwise. I’m old and not too terribly wrinkly.

      1. I take tea*

        I do about the same, just wash with water morning and evening, but I use jojoba oil instead, when I feel dry. I try to wear sunscreen when I’m out in the summer (not much sun here in the winter).

    6. MissCoco*

      Sunscreen is the most bare-bones level of skincare IMO, and if it’s working for you, you might just have great, easy care skin!

      If you want to up your game a bit, I’d add a cleanser used sparingly and a moisturizer. I like cerave gentle or banila co if you want to try an oil-based product. I’d go oil-based if your skin leans dry.
      For face lotion, vanicream makes a great light, hypoallergenic face lotion.

      If you want to add more products, the next thing I’d add is a serum or “essence” of some kind like hyaluronic acid or ceramide. To be put on between cleanser and moisturizer. I really like the brand Good Molecules to try new ingredients, because they are really affordable.

    7. Retired Accountant*

      I wash my face in the shower with Aveeno Daily Brightening Scrub. I like the light exfoliation. I shower in the morning; if I shower again at night I wash my face again; if not I don’t do anything.

      My skin is not dry so I don’t use moisturizer. Sunscreen might not be a bad idea but I hate it. I sometimes put it on in the summer if I’m out in the midday sun, but I’ve never understood the obsession with wearing sunscreen if you are inside most of the day. Or moisturizer if your skin is not dry.

      I guess I’m lucky that my skin does well with such a minimal routine. I’m 56 with almost no wrinkles. I had oily skin when I was younger and it just seemed to do better the less I did to it. (Although I did go through a toner phase, which, yikes Clinique.). And I hate the sun.

    8. CG1*

      Don’t smoke and stay away from people that smoke. (and sunscreen every 2 hours like you already do). Smoking and the sun are the two major bugaboos.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Wash with dedicated gentle face wash rather than regular soap. Moisturizer with spf everyday or my dermatologist yells at me.

    10. Astrid*

      I think the most basic is micellar water to clean and then a moisturizer.
      I do add a moisturizing serum, eye cream and lip care, though. Spot removal if I have some acne but it never seems to work. I don’t bother with SPF outside of summer because most days I am only inside. And I don’t bother with it in the evening unless I have been wearing makeup. (I use makeup I can remove with warm water and then the eye cream which both moisturize the skin and removes makeup. Might use the micellar water again if there’s some stubborn eyeliner.)
      I have gotten lots of comments on my good-looking skin through the years so this works for me. I suspect it has more to do with my genes than my routine, though.

      1. Astrid*

        So if you go gentle face wash + moisturizer (+SPF), what else do your specific body need?
        Because my hands are always so dry and I peel off the skin of my lips so I need extra care those places -> I add the moisturizing serum to give my hands and lips moisture in a deeper layer. May as well use it on the rest of my face.

        Then I use the extra thick cream (Locobase Repair) on both my lips and hands.

        I only added the eye cream because I wear makeup sometimes and I stumbled upon the Bioderma 3in1 which could be used as both moisturizer and remover. Great, now I don’t throw out makeup remover and I have a soothing cream if my skin reacts badly to something.

    11. Angstrom*

      The house gets dry during the winter heating seaon, so I put on lotion after the morning shower. Other than that just good sun protection and drinking a lot of water.

    12. Time for Tea*

      Er, I’m 48, I wash with plain water every morning and this past year have started putting a basic moisturiser on every time. Use a scrub cleanser every two to three days most of the time, occasionally daily if I’m having a more organised period. That’s it.

      1. allathian*

        Yeah, I wash with lukewarm water in the morning and put some basic unscented moisturizer on. Between April and October I use sunscreen, otherwise not. I shower every other day or every three days, usually at night, and on those days I use moisturizer, especially in winter.

        I have great skin, it’s one of my best festures. So does my mom, at 77 she has fewer wrinkles than many people in their early 60s, and she smoked for most of her adult life (she finally quit when my son was born).

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      I recommend checking out Why Your Skin Doesn’t Need Skin Care in Slate.

      I use moisturizer (am in my 50s and it’s winter here, have had skin cancer so I am very tuned into dry patches): Truzzi’s goat milk (which I found on a visit to North Carolina, it’s a local brand) and if I need something intense Aquaphor (what I was given for various surgical scar healings; it’s effective and unscented). I like St Ives apricot or grapefruit scrub if I am feeling grungy (dusty, sweaty, scaly), but since reading that Slate piece I often just splash water on my face at night.

        1. Kay*

          This story has stuck with me in regards to making the case for washing your face every day.

          My aesthetician took her daughters outside, swiped her finger across a tabletop and said “See all this dirt on my finger? All this same stuff is landing on your face every day.”

          Moral of the story – wash your face. :-) If you don’t need a bunch of products that is awesome, but I would at least rinse it with water or something so you aren’t then bringing all that dirt back to your pillow every night.

    14. Sopranistin*

      I splash water on my face every morning then moisturizer. When I shower (2-3x a week) I use a gentle face wash. Moisturizer after drying off. My skin looks so much better now than it did before when I was using fancy products. But I also attribute that to cleaning up my diet.

    15. Buni*

      It gets scrubbed same as everything else when I’m in the bath/shower, and I slap some generic cocoa butter on after. That’s it. I don’t wear make-up, if that makes a difference.

    16. Sunflower*

      My derm says you really only need face wash, moisturizer and SPF (and most moisturizer’s have SPF in them). No need for expensive products- there actually was a study done that the best products tend to be right in the mid price range. I use Aveeno and Neutrogena and she says both of them are great- also thinks Dove is a great product. Aveeno and Neutrogena are a bit pricier than some other products but they make my skin full super moisturized which is the goal for me! If you really want to go a step up, you can try a toner or talk to a derm about using retinol.

      You should be wearing SPF everytime you go outside but like I mentioned, that’s covered by the moisturizer most likely.

      There have been articles written about how most skincare is really just a form of relaxing self care but aren’t really doing anything.

      1. Stamp*

        I have pretty good skin … except for any time that I try to add something to my routine of wearing sunscreen and washing with soap. Then things go haywire until I back off (and I assume equilibrium is restored).

        You may be doing the best for yourself already!

    17. Generic Name*

      If you’re not washing your face, wash your face. Then sunscreen. I think that would be the bare bones.

    18. Invisible fish*

      Sunscreen ALL THE TIME. People forget that the screens we use for jobs (computers) and leisure (phones, tablets) emit a blue light that will take a toll on skin. Obviously, studies differ on how long before it’s a problem/noticeably affects skin, etc., but the general consensus is that human skin needs protection from the light produced by electronics with screens.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And sunscreen all the way down your chest–to quote something I read recently, your face ends at your boobs. Back of the neck and ears, too!

        1. Invisible fish*

          I’m such a sunscreen fanatic that my husband realizes that my face ends somewhere below my shirt collar, and he sees people in public and quietly says to me “Did you see the sun damage on his/her neck/chest?!?!?” in an appalled tone. Apparently, these poor folks don’t have someone pestering them about sunscreen as much as I pester him!

    19. Nervous Nellie*

      I use Ivory soap and a washcloth, and sunscreen, and not much else, and have done this for 40 years. I look the same as my same-age pals who spend a fortune on fancy facial creams etc. Those creams and that marketing are a relatively recent thing.

    20. anywhere but here*

      Sunscreen alone sounds fine. Wash your face along with the rest of your body, moisturize as/if needed (just like you would for skin on any other part of your body), and protect with sunscreen. If your skin is happy as it is, adding a bunch of stuff is only going to mess it up. FWIW, a lot of “skincare” is just beauty culture rebranded to sound healthy and make women fear their faces aging (which happens to everyone). If it were really about hygeine & health, men would do it too!

    21. Double A*

      I have an absolutely minimal skincare regimen. it is:

      Washing your face with water. It helps to use make up remover if you have worn heavier make up on a given day.

      Wearing sunscreen SPF 30+ every single day even if you don’t think you’ll be outside for long.

      Personally I also put jojoba oil on my face at night because I read it’s the closest to natural sebum and my skin does feel dry after a shower. I have a few other things I use when I feel like it but I don’t consider them essential and am dubious they even do anything.

    22. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      Sunscreen is probably enough by itself, unless your doctor tells you otherwise. If your skin is dry or itchy, maybe add a moisturizing lotion. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy or expensive: I like the Aveeno unscented lotions for everyday use, mostly on my legs. I only started needing this regularly after menopause.

    23. Yorick*

      I think sunscreen is the bare bones skincare needed. I like to use moisturizer with sunscreen in the morning and another moisturizer at night. I like Aveeno but I can no longer find the sunscreen one that I liked the most.

    24. Nela*

      I have a T-pattern greasy skin, so I had to have some kind of skin care regime since my teen years. But I don’t like complicated routines.
      Morning wash just with water, scrub with a towel, daily cream with SPF for mixed or greasy skin.
      Evening cleaning with micellar water (once you see the dirt on the cotton pad, you realize it’s necessary), plus a nourishing serum.

      The most important thing is that the formulation works for your particular skin. If you notice it’s getting too greasy, too dry, red, or prone to acne after using some products, it’s not for you.

    25. Garden Gnomic*

      I’m like you.
      I wear Factor 50 sunscreen during the day (I work outdoors), of a brand that I selected purely for its cost-effectiveness and non-scented, non-greasy formula (smells and textures bother me).

      I only clean my face by washing with soap and water, about twice, or maybe 3 times a day. Your skin is a living organ which will adapt to whatever conditions it faces to a certain extent – so if you’re consistent and not too harsh with stripping the natural oils away, it should maintain a good equilibrium.

      I’ve taken to getting a massive tub of Vitamin E cream from the Pound Shop and slathering that on every night before bed, and after I’ve washed my face in the morning.
      If my hands are dry and starting to feel cracked, I use a stronger cream on top – my favourite so far is Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula. A little goes a very long way.

      Honestly, if your skin is healthy, there’s nothing you need to change about your routine. It’s only a problem in need of a solution if your skin is persistently dry, irritated, cracked, or damaged by the Sun.

      If you’re feeling super fancy, you could try a peel or a mud-pack, but you’re not really missing anything. People with poor skin tend to be eating badly, not sleeping enough, or smoking – it’s nothing to do with which goop they use.

  19. Might Be Spam*

    Do you still have weird dreams about your ex? Mine are never good.
    I just woke up from a really bad one. In the dream, my ex bought his mother’s horrible house without telling me ahead of time (and I had to help pay for it) and we were moving in and it was horrible. It was so bad, that when I woke up, I still thought it was real and tried to go back to sleep. It was such a relief to finally remember that, “Oh yeah. I’m divorced. I don’t live with him anymore.”

    I think I fell asleep listening to a financial podcast, so that might have triggered it. My ex making a large purchase that I would be stuck paying for (while I was in a vulnerable state), did happen more than once.

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve dreamed several times that I have been married twice and forgot my first husband (usually one of my exes) until a critical point.

      In real life it took until I was 35 to get married at all and we’re still hitched. I have absolutely no idea why my anxiety brain picked this riff.

    2. English Rose*

      I actually have lovely dreams about one ex, in which things are much better than they were.

      I do have weird dreams about a former boss though, with whom I nearly not quite got involved. We keep planning to meet up for lunch and I end up alone in a restaurant which is quite obviously run by the mafia.

    3. Anima*

      Interesting question! I can’t remember most of my relationship with my ex-husband, and I also can’t remember ever dreaming about him.
      (I should probably see someone about that, but wait times etc. and it doesn’t really have an impact on my life.)
      I, instead, dream a lot of ex-friends. The ones I was really close with but who got lost from my life over time. Dunno what’s that about, probably because it’s often unresolved?

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        I had a friend give me the slow fade several years ago, and the moment I realized I’d been truly dropped was when we were both attending a convention and she dodged me via text about trying to meet up. I dreamed the other night that I was wandering around at that convention looking for her.

      2. allathian*

        I can’t remember ever dreaming about my only significant ex. When we were together I frequently dreamed how grea things would be if only his personality changed to meet my needs better. When I dumped him, the dreams stopped.

    4. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Not usually my exes but former friends that I went no-contact with. I dream that they like, show up at my house and I for some reason let them in, they start demonstrating why I cut them out of my life, and then I can’t get them to leave, often with a side helping of my husband being terrible and unsupportive to me about it to boot. So I wake up freaked out and irrationally mad at both myself and him and it puts a terrible start on the whole day. (In real life, the people in question – even the ones that my husband is still friends with, which is a separate issue at times – don’t know where we live and if they somehow did show up, my doorbell camera would record a screaming fit ending in me slamming doors in their faces, if I even opened the door which is unlikely.)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Don’t you hate it when your husband does something stupid/terrible in your dream and you wake up mad? Because you can’t exactly expect him to do anything about the fact that he rented the backyard out to your worst high school bully to run a zebra farm inside your head!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          And it’s extra stressful because his awful ex wife did treat him like crap over things he did in her dreams, like she’d literally give him the silent treatment for three days before finally telling him that it was because he was mean to her in her dream. Which obviously was difficult for him. So it took literal years before I could get to the point where I could go “you will not BELIEVE the dumbass thing you did in my dream last night” without him visibly getting ready for me to lambast him, even though to me it was a ridiculous silly thing that I was trying to DE-escalate myself by sharing. (All good now though at least!)

    5. Bart*

      I am five years out of an abusive marriage and still have dreams. The first few years they were really upsetting and scary. The next year a series of dreams where I moved on with a new partner but ex was still living with me and it was awkward—or I would be yelling at him about his behavior. Now he shows up every now and then as a minor character with his own life. So my message is that over time your brain may stop including your ex:)

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      My brain’s particular cycle for feeling overwhelmed was moving: e.g. We had to be out of the apartment by noon, but I had just opened a door I never noticed before and discovered an entire second apartment stuffed with furniture.

      Eventually my brain offered up a travel variation: We have to check out of the hotel, but my family seem to have scattered, often by taking the funicular to a neighboring country.

      Oddly finding ways to deal with all the stress around my cancer seemed to burn these out, and I now have normal dreams that are some vague variation on whatever I’ve been reading. Even though we were looking to move last year, the move-disaster dreams did not reappear.

      1. GlowCloud*

        Ooh, I’ve had a few variations on this dream in the last few months – In a big hotel, apartment complex, mountain resort or glamping location with family or colleagues. We have to pack up / leave on the last night of our stay, but there are still scattered bits of luggage everywhere, and I end up separated from the group, trying to find the rendez-vous point before we set off for the airport, but there’s a maze of corridors and floors to navigate, and I can’t find the people I’m supposed to be travelling with, or there’s something I want to linger over, like ‘have I got time to check out this one more art exhibition before we leave Paris?’.

        Actually, as I type that out, I can see how it relates to the ending of a gathering, stress of having to move out, not being sure I can cope with new and unfamiliar surroundings on my own, the ways in which my family and colleagues have become my support network, missing the good moments, and not being able to collaborate with the person I’ve split apart from… Hmmm…

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      I will also share that my brain will reset to a point in the past and completely forget whole people. I used to feel tremendously guilty when I woke up and realized that I had forgotten the existence of my youngest child. (I think the flip side is dreaming of a deceased loved one, and it’s completely real and you only remember they are gone when you wake.)

      The “meaning” of the dream is usually “your brain decided to clean out this corner of the room while sleeping, and these are the past pieces it dredged up.”

      Also interesting piece of data: Your prefrontal cortex shuts down when you dream. That’s the part of the brain that says “Well that didn’t make a lick of sense, your childhood bedroom and a Las Vegas hotel and the office conference room aren’t even connected to each other.” So things that make total sense when you’re trapped in a bad dream–or enjoying a great dream!–don’t hold up once you wake and the prefrontal cortex starts trying to fit them into reality.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        “Also, the swimming pool at said hotel is NOT filled with great white sharks. Quit watching Jaws marathons before bed, will ya?”

      2. Irish Teacher.*

        Hmm, that last part is interesting. I have had dreams where I realised in them that they didn’t make a lick of sense and at least one where I was trying to convince somebody else that it was only a dream because it didn’t make a lick of sense.

        But I’ve also had plenty where I didn’t notice how ridiculous things were.

        1. anon24*

          I’ve also noticed while dreaming that I was dreaming because things didn’t make sense. Usually it happens with nightmares. And then I can “sit back” and enjoy whatever alphabet soup my brain conjurs up for me just like watching my own private horror movie and not actually be distressed by it

      3. GlowCloud*

        I think my PFC is kicking in a lot more when I sleep, because I often notice inconsistencies like “this isn’t how my Nana’s house looks in real life”, or I actually find myself thinking “Oh, man, I’d better try and remember this so I can write about it in my dream journal later!”
        I have also started being able to read things like the label on a date slice I bought in my dream last night. (I once heard that you can’t read in a dream), although the text will change on a second look, so that date slice I picked up for £4.10 when I reckoned I had just over 4 quid in my pocket, was a total rip-off at £5.10 when I finally got to my place at the till, and the server further robbed me by letting my spilled loose change roll into the pile of coins she had already amassed on the counter and pretending like nothing happened. -_-

        I’m also waking up a lot more often during the night, so I wonder if it’s that I’m already being roused enough to question my dreams, or that the awareness of dreaming is kicking me back into wakefulness?

    8. Double A*

      Yes, I have dreams that I ended up marrying various exes and I always have this vague sense of, “Huh I didn’t think it turned out this way but I guess it did, this is disappointing.” Everything just feels off and uncomfortable in those dreams.

      Then I wake up VERY thankful for my husband. I think it’s my subconscious’s way of keeping me appreciative for him.

      I also only have dreams about exes with whom there was a bad ending; my ex I’m friends with appears sometimes but it’s usually a pleasure to get to hang out with him.

    9. Fanny Fjord*

      Years after basically being “ghosted” by someone I was involved with in college, someone who I really thought was “the one,” I had a dream where we met on our college’s campus (on the quad) and he apologized to me. In the dream I was so happy to see him and I hugged him enthusiastically.

      About a week later I was “cyber-stalking” him and I typed his name into a search engine and I discovered that my ex (and his fiancee whom I had never met or knew about) had both been killed in a car accident several years before my dream. I like to think that maybe it was a message from the other side, but maybe it was only a dream. I’ve never dreamed about him again, but I do think of him from time to time.

      1. GlowCloud*

        Ah, I had a cathartic dream once about a friend who died in high school, and I told him I was really sorry that he had died, but he didn’t seem aware of the fact that he was dead, and that the place he was wandering around in was my dream. But he kind of accepted it, and it felt like something had healed.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I dream about mine sometimes. Mostly in the dreams, we’re friends, but I did have one where we were together and it was just…meh. I mean, I kind of wish he’d go away in my subconscious, because this far out, it’s just boring. I’d rather dream I was a spy doing parkour and flying, or something fun like that.

      I did have several random dreams where I was married. In one, my husband looked like Chris Sarandon and turned out to be a psychopath. In another, we were standing on a beach with sea stacks and playing with our little girl. He had blonde hair — I don’t usually go for blonde men, but he was pretty good-looking for a made-up dream guy.

    11. Bethlam*

      Only had one ex, a boyfriend from 50 years ago, who dumped me unceremoniously (thank heavens). But he was my first, and i was head over heels, so it didn’t surprise me when he’d show up in a dream occasionally. He hasn’t made an appearance in a long time though.

      What I find odder is to dream of someone from my past – usually high school or a previous workplace – who I barely knew or had only a nodding acquaintance with. I mean why? It would be a person I had no connection to back then, so why does he (almost always a he) show up in a dream? And from so long ago? I mean, I was in high school in the early 70s – why in the world would some boy who rode my bus turn up in a dream 40 or 50 years later?

    12. GlowCloud*

      Weirdly, all my ex-dreams since my last break-up have been about the ex-but-one.
      I guess I had similar feelings about both of the relationships, but my brain just doesn’t want to see the most recent one’s stupid* face.

      *He’s an OK guy, I’m just still mad at how it ended.

  20. Dr. Doll*

    for everyone’s awareness, there is a critical blood shortage in the US. if you can donate and are so inclined, this would be a good time.

    I had made an appointment but due to my Very Long Trip (see last week), I have to defer for 3 months. malaria concern.

    I hope a bunch of others might donate and make up for me!

    1. mreasy*

      I had to defer after getting a tattoo, but that is over & I’m back to it today. Thanks for this notification, and I second the sentiment! Donating blood is an easy, and free way to directly help people. Plus it gives you a great excuse to eat a giant cheeseburger.

    2. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      General note: as of last summer, men who have sex with men, and their female partners, are eligible to donate blood in the United States.

      1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

        what about people who lived in the UK in the ’90s? It’s kind of hard to find updates on this. Historically been banned for mad cow disease… although I am and was a vegetarian… no exceptions to date.

          1. All Monkeys are French*

            Wow, finally! I just looked at the Red Cross website and didn’t see anything specifically about this, but my local blood bank has it on their front page. I’ll be making an appointment!

    3. beware the shoebill*

      I was going to try this last week but the drive was cancelled due to icy conditions. Fingers crossed they can reschedule soon!

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Last time I tried (while I was still with my mom), I got turned away and then found out I had an iron deficiency. It might be better now, though, after a round of pills. I need to see if I can again.

      1. mreasy*

        I have had this happen too – nice to have the free anemia diagnosis so you know to supplement !

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Thanks! I’ve been meaning to schedule an appointment with the blood bank down the street from work, and this might be the thing that kicks me into gear.

    6. Lilo*

      Any tips for getting too anxious? I get dinged for pulse rate and now it’s a vicious cycle where I’m nervous about getting dinged.

    7. carcinization*

      I wish I could give blood. The last time I tried they couldn’t get enough out and told me that meant they couldn’t use the amount they were able to draw because they had to have a full container or whatever. I then had a huge ugly bruise for weeks despite applying hot compresses all the time. I drink water constantly unless I’m asleep or in the shower (day in day out, not just for blood draws), all my bloodwork comes out fine when it’s done (at least yearly), and I’m not underweight or anything, but I guess my blood is thick and doesn’t want to come out or something?

      1. allathian*

        I have fragile veins, so when they take blood, it all depends on the skills of the phlebotomist. Once I felt like a needle cushion when a nurse-in-training took 20 minutes and it didn’t work. A more experienced phlebotomist managed to do it in seconds.

        I haven’t been able to give blood thanks to living in the UK for a year in the 1980s. You’d think that if I had a prion disease, I’d show some symptoms by now.

        That said, gay men in long-term monogamous relationships are no longer being discriminated against in my area, they can finally give blood on the same terms as everyone else (3-month ban for a new partner regardless of gender). That said, polyamorous relationships regardless of gender are still considered too risky to give blood, even for partners who are effectively monogamous, which sounds like polyphobia to me.

    8. Tfdsetyjbvt*

      I gave blood religiously for many many many years. However, since Covid, I won’t go to either of our blood banks as they don’t enforce mask requirements for staff.

    9. UnemployedInGreenland*

      I donated on Thursday last week. I’ve been meaning to go for a while but things kept interrupting me, but a friend was diagnosed with leukemia last week and that sent me right to the blood bank. I did a double red donation and will do my next one in May, when I’m eligible. Definitely get out there and donate if you can.

  21. Downsizing on cars*

    Downsizing from two cars to one?

    My partner and I (just us in the home) have two cars. One is newer, in great shape, and preferred vehicle by both of us. The second one is the car I had before we got together—older, less comfortable, always in need of some repair it seems, no car payment. We’ve kept it because it’s nice to have a second vehicle for the rare times we’re out doing different things. (We both work remotely for different portions of the year/week.)

    I got the insurance bill for the older car recently, and for six months it will be $500–which is not bad, but more than I want to be paying. As in, I don’t think I would spend $500 on Uber/Lyft in six months if we didn’t have this second car. So I’m seriously considering selling the car—the estimated value is relatively low ($1500-$3000) and I’m aware it will only go down over time. We wouldn’t replace it with another second car but instead be a one-car household.

    I feel okay about this because 1) we’ve managed fine for several month stretches when second car was out for repairs. 2) we have decent public transportation that will improve to “good” when some transportation agency changes go into effect this summer with additional routes and times. And 3) if we do need to use Lyft or Uber occasionally, the trips would be shorter and not total the cost of older car’s insurance on a monthly basis.

    Has anyone done this calculation before? What are potential downsides I’m I missing?

    1. WS*

      My household is two adults and one car. The only time we’ve had issues is when one of us has to be at work and the other one has a medical appointment or something in another town at the same time (there’s no public transportation here). But good scheduling can take care of most of it, and if you’ve got Lyft or Uber where you are, that’s going to cover most of those little overlaps. The fact that you’ve been a one car household for several months at a time with no problems sounds like a good basis for thinking it will be good!

    2. Blomma*

      Not exactly what you asked, but one thing to keep in mind is that many policies will give a discount for having multiple vehicles on the policy. Removing one vehicle means you’d lose that discount, so your overall savings may be less than you think. Definitely check if your agent can quote the difference for you if insurance savings is a big factor in this decision.

    3. Visually Impaired Guy*

      I have spoken to several people over the years about going to one car or not having one at all (typically for medical reasons) and they were all happy later.

    4. Part time lab tech*

      My family did this when our older car needed repairs and we were going into a period of underemployment. Financially, we saved several thousand a year between registration, insurance, petrol and maintenance before that.
      It quickly fell apart when my husband changed from a job in CBD where he caught the train to one across town that he refused to catch public transport to (90 mins and an early start vs 40min drive). We had agreed I would have our one car one day a week to do appts, errands and kid classes but any time his car pool fell through that one day a week, I’d have to scramble. If car share was available in my city it might have worked but our new car arrived after 6 months.
      Perhaps put the money you save into a transport fund for replacing the car if it becomes too much trouble. Alternatively, really, really accept that paying for taxi a few times a year is still cheaper than paying for a whole car every day.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I don’t drive (phobia) and the amount of money I HAVEN’T spent on cars in my life could probably buy a house at this point.

        Of course, I don’t have kids or dependent family members, and live in an urban setting with good public transportation, and often joke that I actually lead the life of a medieval peasant and never really go more than ten miles from home. Not going to pretend that they wouldn’t have come in handy from time to time!

    5. Anono-me*

      Are you paying $500 for 6 months for comprehensive or liability only on a 3k car? Either way, I would shop around for better rates if the main reason to consider dropping to one car is the insurance cost.

      1. BookMom*

        Agreed… dropping comp and collision on an older car with low value is a huge cost savings. My son’s car is only worth about $3000, so it doesn’t make sense to pay for that coverage.

    6. Ashley*

      How easy it is to get to a mechanic and home if the primary car needs to go in? I feel like we use car 2 mainly for that.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      A potential upside is that you can try this and see how it works. If after a year the budget doesn’t work out in favor, or the annoyance factor was higher than you pictured, you can consider buying a cheap old car that might have fewer repair issues.

      One car was fine when we lived in the city and so it was easy to get around by alternate means. Uber and Lyft are alternate means. (For example, if I travel to a city I now plan to not rent a car and just use Lyft, avoiding both driving in complicated traffic and having to find parking.)

    8. Sutemi*

      We have been a 1 car household for over 20 years. You might look if cycling can also fill some of the occasional gaps, that is my main mode of transportation to work and his for errands.
      It works well for us to have one car, we don’t miss having another. I’m a big proponent of owning the vehicles that fill your transportation needs for 95% of your time, and renting for the rest. For example our car is small, and for large Home Depot trips we get delivery or rent the truck rather than owning a larger car.

    9. Car Talk*

      We’ve been a one-car household (consisting of two adults) for 9 years after selling the second car in 2015 and it works for us! The key issues are availability of alternatives (transit, walking, Uber) and realistically assessing how often you need two cars. For our first 2 years of one-car life, we lived in an urban core, one of us walked to work while one worked from home, and the grocery store was two blocks away. We barely used the one car at all. Then we moved to a more rural area, where we absolutely need a car to get around and there is no transit or Uber, but we’re retired now and can schedule all our trips to accommodate having just one car.

      The one downside I would mention is that there is a loss of time-efficiency with one car. We can’t have 1 person out getting groceries at the same time the other person drives in a different direction for a meeting or appointment. The upshot is that every time one of us has an errand into town, all the other pending errands are tacked on to that trip, making for some long multi-stop trips. Even after years I find that I am sometimes getting home much later than I’d think when starting from “I have a 1 hour meeting at the library that ends at 2.” But you could probably solve this a bit with Uber or transit. Overall, I’d say that with a little planning and good communication with your partner you should be fine, considering that you’ve already had several successful trial runs as a 1-car family.

    10. Generic Name*

      You didn’t mention if either or both of you work outside the home. If not, having one car will be much easier. How often are both cars in use? Does your older car just sit in the driveway and the other one gets used? If you’ve gone months with one car with no ill effects, one car should be fine. I’ll second the thought to drop comprehensive coverage on the old car and just have liability only coverage.

    11. And thanks for the coffee*

      After I retired, I proposed going to one car. My husband had already retired. I was convinced to keep both cars because he suggested that this was the time of our lives we might both want to be doing things and not always together. It was the right decision for us. I went off to sew with friends, sometimes for a 3-5 day retreat; he went off to play tennis and to teach a class or two a semester at a local college. I loved being able to drive off when I wanted and having him be able to do the same.

      Weighing convenience vs. costs we came out for convenience and flexibility.

    12. Yorick*

      I live in the Twin Cities and there is a carshare program that I think would be a good alternative to a second car. The level we have is $14 a month and then $8/hour when you actually use the car. It includes insurance and gas. You could check whether there’s something similar in your area.

    13. Kay*

      In addition to the other comments about amending coverage – does your insurance company know the car isn’t really driven? Often times coverage is lower if it isn’t in regular use, and you can reduce it further by fully reviewing that policy and all options.

  22. Bookworm in Stitches*

    This was prompted by a recent post.

    What sayings do you have either at work or home that developed from something that happened or because of someone you know?

    I’ll start. Many years ago my sister-in-law worked at a pizza place. One day while talking to friends who had stopped by she wasn’t watching and went to add a receipt to the spindle that collected them and…spindled her hand. Luckily the hospital said the spindle had gone clean through without damaging anything. When my father-in-law found out his comment was, “Well that was stupid”. That became a saying in our family for years!

    Share yours and their origins!

    1. English Rose*

      At a previous job, we had someone whose title was Global Chief People Officer. For some reason (perhaps due to his personality) our team started referring to him as Chief Purple People Eater. I’m still not sure where those specific words came from, they just seemed to arise from the ether.

        1. Christmas Carol*

          Now I’ve got that song stuck in my head. They also used it as a nickname for the Minnesota Vikings D-line in he 70s.

          1. Elle Woods*

            I’m a bit too young to remember them playing but my dad has told many stories over the years about that D-line. I got to meet Alan Page once. He was kind and gracious.

    2. Astrid*

      From my dad’s old mentor when he was an apprentice: “You have to THINK.”
      Usually applied when someone else hadn’t thought an action through/thought anbout consequences and it ended badly.

    3. Makare*

      I grew up in the woods, where bears getting in to the trash was a frequent problem. We didn’t have a garage door (long story), so the trash cans lived behind the garage and every so often you’d come out to find the trash can dragged across the yard and garbage strewn throughout the property. A real pain.

      Eventually my dad decided to rig up a solution by installing pulleys under the eaves of the garage and tying the trash cans to ropes so we could hoist them up to hang above the reach of the bears. Problem solved! Except if you didn’t hang them high enough, as we found out when a bear managed to rip the bottom off the plastic can and get at the garbage.

      My dad’s comment upon discovering this: “It’s a bear piña colada!” (Imagine this said in a German accent, while cracking up)

      Ever since, if someone mentions a piñata, we say, “You mean a piña colada?”

    4. YrLocalLibrarian*

      A friend’s high school daughter took one of those tests that’s supposed to tell you what kind of career you might be good at. She came home and told her mom “the results say I have great verbal skills, but spatial (pronounced spa-TEE-ul) difficulties.”
      Anytime anyone in my family is trying to fit something in a tight somewhere, or eyeballing measurements, or otherwise, dealing with volume or geometry, we’re almost guaranteed to announce that we’re having spa-TEE-ul difficulties.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      “Oranges, English muffins, and cottage cheese” in our house means “You’re being deliberately stupid and not listening to me,” based on a conversation my husband and I had almost 30 years ago. I told him I needed apples, bagels, and cream cheese from the store, and he repeated it back to me wrong, and it kept going on and on until he had substituted everything I had told him.

    6. Slartibartfast*

      About 3-4 years ago, we got small bags of slightly expired popcorn for employee appreciation week. Except the message said “We Appriciate you”. One of the nurses quipped “so glad to know they a-prick-i-ate us”. It’s become a thing in my house to a-prick-i-ate one another for little favors like getting another person a drink from the fridge.

    7. Falling Diphthong*

      “Everyone knows kittens and power tools go together!”

      I have a video of the then-kittens trying like mad to open the cat door cover (I had built a barrier across it, then weighted the barrier) because Daddy was using a table saw in the basement, and you don’t make big roaring sounds like that without the help of the kittens!

      (On getting outside by accident, one of these kittens heard a truck roar by on the road and her reaction was “OOH! That sounds cool!” and she started for the road and was saved only by a bunny who bolted out of the front flower bed for the backyard.)

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      “No organization without representation!”

      Coined by my early teens children, directed at me. As later teens they became the leaders of various clubs and gained a new appreciation for being the person in charge of planning, surrounded by people who may or may not be available two Saturdays from now.

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      In the late 60s my parents were driving somewhere for dinner and my mother was concerned about the smoke coming from the hood of the car. My father said “It’s condensation, Susan” repeatedly until the car came to a halt because it was smoke, the car was out of oil, and the engine block was now cracked. For the rest of their lives whenever Dad tried to dismiss something Mom was concerned about, she said “It’s condensation, Susan.” Now my husband and I say it whenever there is actually condensation :)

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Ours often take the form of weird house rules. The most common reference is “RULE FIFTEEN!” which is, on the list, “Walk on your own damn feet.” My woofapotamus is not very coordinated and we frequently find ourselves with a 115-pound dog standing on someone’s foot. I am also regularly asked about rule 3, “Absolutely positively no making toast in the rice cooker,” which came from a drunken incident ten years ago where my then-housemate wanted to make toast but kept plugging in the rice cooker instead of the toaster. (We don’t even have a rice cooker anymore, but the rule stayed.)

      We anthropomorphize our dogs, so when they are making “I want some of that” faces, one of us will say, in a dog voice, “Sharin’ is nice.” and the other will reply “Yes, but she’s not here,” because Sharon is my mom’s name. We also occasionally “Sharin’ is nice” each other. My mother finds this hilarious, and if the exchange happens on Facebook, she will respond along the lines of “but she’s watching!!”

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          She became the Woofapotamus because she is grey and when she was a baby and didn’t know where her legs ended because she was growing so fast you could practically watch it, she bumbled around all the time plowing into me and I joked that she was like having a baby hippopotamus underfoot :) Then there was a Thoughts From Dog cartoon about “Occasionally I nibble on my human’s sleeves to remind them that I am descended from wolves”, which is also a habit she had, so that became woofapotamus. And we sometimes throw other modifiers in. Often she is a sleepachompapotamus, when she is sleepy and mischievous. She is a woofalopeapotamus when she is bounding around the yard like she has springs in her paws. Right now, she is a Snowy Woofapotamus, because she keeps trying to eat the snow and coming in with snow all over her nose.

          Oh, let’s see. Other rules.
          “Babies on the hibachi grill must be armed” came from a weird mis-hearing while we were out with a group of friends at a hibachi place. I don’t remember what the original was, but my friend was like “WHAT?? You can’t put the baby on the hibachi grill without weapons?!” and we were all like, well, naturally, they must be armed, what are you even on about?
          “Booze, no tools.” This one is mostly obvious – we lived with someone who had an amateur wood shop in the garage – but the actual usual follow-up, referencing my sewing machine, was “Nobody wants to have to explain at the ED how you sewed your ass to the table.”
          “Bananas are evil” is my own personal baggage, my dad was cheap when I was a kid and you know what’s an even cheaper way of getting fruit into your kids than the 19 cents a pound bananas? The 12 cents a pound bananas that are already mostly overripe. So I can’t have bananas in my house, they will legit make me gag.
          Rules 17 “There are places where vegetables just don’t go” and 18 “Use your iPad and go to your room” aren’t all that funny on their own, but the fact that they coincidentally ended up next to each other is amusing. (I think 17 came from my aversion to carrot cake, I don’t remember where 18 came from.)

      1. fposte*

        The humorist Calvin Trillin has a great essay called “Enough’s Enough.” The title came from a friend, a widow raising an obstreperous son, who put down some rules, and Rule Number Six was “Enough’s enough.” So that logically turned into her saying “Rule number six, hiney” whenever he started getting out of hand.

      2. A Girl Named Fred*

        This just reminded me of one of my family’s habits when my brother and I were kids! When we were getting to be middle school or high school age, so going out more by ourselves, our parents initially started with all the don’t get in trouble talks, “Drive safe, don’t talk to strangers, call us if you need help, etc.” Eventually they got tired of the whole shpiel so when we were going somewhere it’d become, “Talk 11, Talk 16, bye love you!” except the numbers were random each time and were just shorthand for “Remember what we’ve taught you and don’t be stupid.”

    11. Elle Woods*

      My grandfather was one of those guys who was fairly relaxed and it always amused him when people would go racing past him on the road only to beat him to the red light. He’d always say, “There’s their victory for the day.” It applies to so many situations.

      1. The OG Sleepless*

        That brought back an old memory I can’t quite recall. Someone close to me used to say that, I can’t remember who. Either a very old friend or a family member.

    12. fposte*

      When my dad wanted to reassure us either after something had gone wrong for us or when we were worried that it would, he’d always say kindly, “The world will still go round and round.” I ended up using that a lot with anxious students and staff.

    13. Chauncy Gardener*

      A looong time ago (early 1920’s/30’s maybe?), my grandmother lived in Mass. but was originally from North Dakota and one of her sisters was visiting her. I don’t know if sister took the train out to Mass or what, but she was going to drive a car back to Bismarck and was totally freaking out about the length of the drive. Then she had the realization that she wasn’t actually driving to Bismarck all at once, just one mile at a time, and so she felt a lot less overwhelmed and the drive went fine. So now when we’re facing a big ordeal/decision/thing, we just say, “well, we’re not driving to Bismarck all at once.”

    14. the cat's ass*

      My dad, a very down to earth fellow, was completely charmed by my ‘fancy’ cooking (anything that wasn’t meat and potatoes) and ate it all with pleasure, remarking, “hey, this is really gourmetty!” pronouncing the T deliberately. We will still say that after an exceptionally tasty meal.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I have a friend whose dad had the opposite response and objected to her cooking because it had “too much flavor.” We now say that when we have something really good.

    15. Cookies For Breakfast*

      I find the English phrase “Bob’s your uncle” very amusing. My partner discovered what it means many years later than me, because I said it in conversation (we often mix our native language and English between us) and he had to ask what I meant. So to make it even funnier, I am now in the business of making up as many variations of it as I can, that I deploy instead of the original.

      A few that I can remember having said:

      Bob’s your mother’s brother
      Bob’s our relative, not our parent, the other one
      Bob’s our Bob
      Bob, and all that jazz
      Bob, uncle, et cetera

    16. Rara Avis*

      “Grapevines think alike!” A combination of a mumbly child and a deafening parent has made this our family version of “Great minds think alike.” Maybe first used during a Pictionary game when my husband drew a tea iguana and the child correctly guessed Tijuana.

    17. goddessoftransitory*

      My dad’s dad apparently once worked in an office alongside a nepotism hire named Wallace. It was a classic case of “I have no idea what I’m doing,” and his thing was waiting for someone to begin a task, then telling them to do that thing. Like, if someone was collating papers he’d say “Vaughn, why don’t you collate those papers?” while watching him do it.

      Since he was the boss’s nephew or whatever it was, everybody would just reply “yes, Wallace,” and this became shorthand in my dad’s family growing up, and then in ours. Whenever somebody stated the obvious or similar, we’d break out “Yes, Wallace.”

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      One time when I was a child, my brother and sister and I were supposed to be tidying up our toys, but they slipped off partway through, leaving me to finish off. This wasn’t unusual and I just sighed and promised myself a glass of Ribena when I was done. You’ve probably guessed where this is going. Once I finished, I found out that while I had been tidying up, they had been drinking the last of the Ribena. I said, jokingly, that “I do all the work and ye get all the Ribena” so for some years afterwards, “getting all the Ribena” became an expression among us for getting something you hadn’t earned.

      And “oh no, it’s wrong again” remains a joke from one time the three of us were playing charades and my sister was trying to find a word to rhyme with what turned out to be “web” but for some reason, she kept trying to rhyme it with words that ended with “d”, so she’d lie down and play “dead,” then get up and say “oh no, it’s wrong.” After a couple of goes – bed, dead, said, etc, my brother was like, “are you certain it’s right this time?” “yes, it definitely rhymes this time,” then a few minutes later, “oh no, it’s wrong again.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Oh, another one. When my brother and I were about 12, we were playing this complicated game that involved criminal gangs and we tried to get my dad to play the postman who was transporting something for them and he just looked at us in utter confused and said, “you’d want to be a magician to follow it.”

        That is now a term in my family for anything so convoluted that it makes no sense whatsoever.

    19. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

      The original was with my ex, but my mum heard about it and still says it. We visited my (at the time) FIL and cooked something. It turns out he was the type to overcook vegetables until they’re mush, declare a very well-done steak in need of a bit more browning off, etc. The vegetables we did were perhaps more crunchy than he thought they should be, which means they still had some of their original structure… and he remarked that it “might just be palatable”. We never cooked for him again but “palatable” became an ongoing thing to describe good food (“this is palatable!”) and unsatisfactory (“this might just about be palatable but I doubt it”)… My mum thought his comment was the height of rudeness when she heard about it (I agreed privately but brushed it off) but now when I message her with pictures of cooking I’ve done she replies “was it palatable”?

  23. AlexandrinaVictoria*

    I’m looking for a new refrigerator, and am overwhelmed with choices. Not sure what style or brand I want. Do you have a refrigerator you love? One you hate? I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations!

    1. Angstrom*

      A side-by-side came with the house, and we don’t like the freezer side at all. The space is not very useful. Would much rather have a top or bottom freezer.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Agreed, I hate side-by-side. I have one in my garage as a second fridge that the stripper left behind, and both sides are narrow and I have things that don’t fit in either side. I also don’t like built in icemakers personally, we don’t use much ice and it takes up a ton of actual usable space in the fridge/freezer. (I would use a filtered water dispenser, but they don’t come without ice makers that I’ve seen, so I just put a filtered water tap on my sink instead and skipped the whole mess on my fridge.)

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I bought my house from a bona fide professional exotic dancer with a penchant for terrible DIY. Two weeks after I moved in, there was a letter in my mailbox from the state department of revenue addressed to “My Tits LLC” and I stood in my driveway staring at it for two solid minutes going “What is even my life.” The mail continued to show up for the next five years, though luckily Facebook stopped prompting me to check in at My Tits every time I walked into my living room after about a year, and every time we find a new terrible DIY (because we just found the most recent one about six months ago) we yell “GOD BLESS THE STRIPPER.”

            1. GoryDetails*

              This post makes my day! Even if you still have to cope with remaining terrible DIY, the anecdotal value is awesome!

              1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

                It’s been eight and a half years now, so I hope to god we’ve found everything major at this point. :)

          2. Jean (just Jean)*

            RRAF: Feel free to corect any errors in my comment!

            Slartibartfast, I did the same double-take before consulting my memory. (Insert image of someone opening a steamer trunk and flinging the contents out, item by item, over her shoulders.) I think that after Red Reader the Adulting Fairy and her household bought their present house from the stripper, they went through a period of discovering the stripper’s fiendish and *dangerous* ingenuity in jerry-rigged home maintenance. Think “kitchen cupboards attached by double-sided tape” or something along those alarming lines.

            1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

              Haha, mostly right! The kitchen cupboards were held up by screws, but they used three times as many as needed and didn’t bother looking for studs, most of them were just straight into drywall, plus they were screwed together side to side with 3″ wood screws, so once they got the screws through the two 1/2″ or so cupboard walls, there were still 2″ of the pointy end of the screw sticking straight out into the cupboard itself. The day we moved in my husband had to go buy a Dremel so he could Dremel off about a dozen screw points so I could put away dishes without risk of tetanus.

              Also fun: The garage shelving was two big dining room sideboards nail-gunned to the wall (again no bothering with studs) six inches off the floor, the battery backup to the sump pump was resting straight on top of the main one so that it was actually the backup one doing all the work because it was keeping the float on the main one from rising and activating, and the vanity in the master bathroom was “grouted” to the tiled wall with whole-ass tile cement, not like, silicone caulk.

              And she left a half dozen pairs of size six 6″ stiletto heels, all sequined or feathered or animal print, in my closet. (I took them to goodwill.)

    2. Zebydeb*

      We bought a Fischer and Peykel fridge-freezer last year and it’s only OK. The ice maker drops cubes into a bin within the freezer; this is not a good design and they all stick together. The stainless steel finish looks messy with fingerprints all the time. Our previous one was a Samsung and had been good. When it failed after about ten years, we were annoyed by how difficult it was to diagnose and try to fix it.

    3. Rufus Bumblesplat*

      When we had to get a new one it was an opportunity to think about what features we actually wanted. We purely needed a refrigerator as we already had a separate freezer. Most that we saw came with an inbuilt ice box which we realised we were never going to use. Deliberately searching for an ice box free fridge rather narrowed our options and I have zero regrets. It means we have more actual fridge space and as a bonus pretty much eliminated the need to defrost it.

    4. My Brain is Exploding*

      I like the side-by-side we have BUT only as the second fridge, because it has more freezer space than a top- or bottom-freezer model. In the kitchen, we have a KitchenAid, which we love. French door with freezer on bottom. We had to pay MORE to get it in white! Also, measure your space TWICE and double check the cabinet above the fridge (if there is one); ours was about 1/4″ lower in the middle than on each side and, although the fridge fit in that space, you can literally just fit a sheet of paper between it and the upper cabinet. Oof. If it hadn’t fit, we could have eventually shaved that cabinet down a bit, but the fridge would have been in the middle of the kitchen for a while. Also – we dislike having ice and water on the outside of the fridge. We don’t need it and it takes up inner freezer space. We have an icemaker in the freezer drawer and if you open the fridge door there is a place on the side where you can get water.

    5. Ashley*

      I love my bottom freezer fridge, but friends with dogs have had issues with the large dog opening them. I also think the freezer is a little smaller. Watch if you go counter depth – I never think they have enough space.
      We tend to buy Whirlpool / Kitchen Aid because they have been long term supporters of Habitat for Humanity. Friends with Samsung fridges all seem to need repairs somewhere around 2 years. (It was a running joke at work.)

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I have a Whirlpool French-door bottom freezer fridge and I love it. I also have a Great Dane who just learned to open doors last week and now I am concerned. :-P but she’s never shown any interest in the freezer, knock wood.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Guess we got lucky that our ice-cube-loving Golden never figured that out. He was the reason we never got a ice dispenser in the door, though. He would have been all over that.

          Miss that goofball.

      2. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Counter-depth was the only option when we renovated our kitchen. I hated hated hated the first one we got, which was a Samsung and had what I know now is the standard issue with the water supply freezing up and blocking something so that the fridge part stopped working. Now have a GE Profile bottom-freezer with cafe doors on top and I really like it. Do not want an ice/water dispenser in the door because I’d rather have the door storage. This one has a water dispenser inside the fridge which can be a little awkward to use and it’s fine.

        I have always like the freezer on the bottom because I’d rather bend over to get into the freezer than into the deli drawer or veggie crisper. Also a bit more energy-efficient. They do hold less, which isn’t an issue for us because we have a full-sized upright freezer in the basement.

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Both sets of in-laws have gotten the sort that are two refrigerator doors on top and a freezer drawer below, and I think we will go that way when remodeling.

      How do you feel about ice? Useful advice when we purchased the current fridge (2000) was that ice makers/water dispensers are the first thing to break, which in fact was my in-law’s experience, so we looked for a fridge that didn’t have those. Happy with the choice but new models are far more energy efficient, and I think I will look for a narrower counter-flush one to reapportion space in the kitchen.

    7. o_gal*

      Look for one with a door within the door. We’ve had 2 of them and it’s great. You put the stuff that you access the most in the DWTD. There is a special latch that will only open that section, so you are not opening the full door. It cuts down on cold air loss and we have seen a difference in the electric bill. Ours is a GE, with bottom freezer, French doors, and DWTD. We had an LG in the same style that we also loved, but it developed a coolant leak that couldn’t be fixed.

    8. California Dreamin’*

      I have an LG French door fridge on top, freezer on bottom. I love having the fridge on top and would never go back to any other configuration. The big freezer on the bottom is not my favorite, though. It’s like a big toy box and just gets disorganized no matter how hard I try to organize it. Some things just have to be on the bottom and they get forgotten about.
      I will also say that we got this fridge when we remodeled our kitchen in 2005, and I think we had to have just one minor repair a few years ago. 19 years of nearly perfect service. Hope I haven’t jinxed myself now!

    9. office hobbit*

      I have French doors, and I actually find myself only regularly opening the right-hand door and forgetting about the food I have on the left side of the fridge shelves, because I can’t easily see it. I like the bottom freezer quite well. I agree with other commenters that a side-by-side (freezer on one side) is not useful, you can’t even fit a frozen pizza in there.

      1. ampersand*

        I do this, too, and people give me weird side eye any time I’ve mentioned “I forget to open the left door on my fridge” as an issue. Glad to know there are at least two of us out there! :D

    10. No Tribble At All*

      We have the Samsung with a bottom drawer & water dispenser— both Mr Tribble and I agreed that you’ve made it in life when your fridge has the water & ice dispenser on the outside. We loooove it— had it for four years and no issues. I really like how it keeps the inside all the same temperature, no cold spots at the back.

      We got it through Costco so it was a little less expensive than itd normally be. But we considered it an investment. We call it the spaceship fridge because it’s huge, stainless steel, and has LEDs inside.

    11. Generic Name*

      I’ve had several styles over the years, and the worst one was the freezer on the bottom, French door style fridge doors on top. I felt like I always opened the wrong door, and if you opened the left side only, you couldn’t close it completely without also opening the right side and then closing left side first. Very annoying. Side by sides are fine, and better if the fridge is in a high traffic area, as the door doesn’t stick out as far when you open it.

      I don’t have any great brand preference. I’ve never had a fridge actively quit on me, amazingly.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        My mom’s French door fridge is like that where one side has to close first, and it’s incredibly annoying. However, mine isn’t like that and you can open and close either side independently or both simultaneously or whatever. Definitely check this feature as the annoying one would be a dealbreaker for me!

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Yeah, that would bug me. Mine isn’t like that – you can open and close either side on its own. Of course the thing I want is always on the other side…

    12. fposte*

      If you have a smaller or older house, measure first and then look for what fits, and when I say “measure” I mean also any doorways a new fridge would have to go through or turns it would have to make. My current fridge is pretty compact (had to be) but still only made it into the kitchen with the doors off.

    13. Anon in IL*

      Not your question but a lot of electric companies are now giving rebates when you buy a new energy efficient appliance. Our new fridge did not qualify because the model number was one letter off. In appearance it looked exactly like the model that did qualify for the rebate. So I recommend to double check if you are hoping for a rebate.

    14. Liminality*

      Whatever the dimensions, I know this:
      My new appliance must be an Absolute Himbo.
      Beautiful, indestructible with a tank, and dumber than a box of rocks.
      I will pay Extra to make sure it has no clue what the internet is. An app is an absolute deal breaker.

    15. California Dreamin’*

      I just thought of another difference between my mom‘s fridge and mine. (both French door on top configuration.) In my mom‘s, the shelves inside the fridge are the width of the whole fridge. In mine, the shelves are separate on the left and the right, so you can customize the heights of the shelves differently. My right half and left half are completely different, and everything has its designated shelf where it would belong. You might prefer that even if it gives you a little less total shelf width. The deli drawer is along the bottom and is the full width, so you have to open both doors to pull that one out.

      1. Observer*

        In mine, the shelves are separate on the left and the right, so you can customize the heights of the shelves differently.

        I had the feature in my first fridge in this house. It was one of the best parts of the unit. I don’t remember the brand.

    16. ampersand*

      I’ve had issues with Samsungs at my current and last house, so at best I recommend researching them before buying one! The fridges came with each house; we didn’t choose them, and I don’t think I’d willingly purchase a Samsung. At the five year mark both developed ice maker problems. It’s a known issue with Samsung–the seal stops working, starts leaking, and the ice maker won’t work again until the seal is fixed.

      For reference, it’s these models we’ve had problems with:

      Samsung 27.4-cu ft Side-by-Side Refrigerator with Ice Maker (prior fridge)

      Samsung 23 cu. ft. Counter Depth 4-Door French Door Refrigerator in Stainless Steel (current fridge)

      While I prefer the fridge on top/freezer on bottom configuration, the freezer drawer on our current one gets stuck when we try to close it and requires a bunch of jiggling to close properly. The good news is the freezer drawer beeps if it’s not completely closed. And no complaints otherwise–we like the size/space and the temp controls are good and work well.

    17. MissB*

      I like my Bosch 800 series. Has a freezer drawer on the bottom. Separate compressors for the fridge and freezer.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know what brand it is, but my mom’s fridge has a top door with the freezer on the bottom. I want one — I don’t get into the freezer nearly as much. And everything in the freezer-on-top fridge gets shoved to the back and being tall, I sometimes forget it’s there before it’s formed its own government.

    19. Nicole76*

      We had to get a new fridge a year and a half ago when ours suddenly died and it was quite the ordeal. Personally, I like the side-by-sides, so that’s the only style we looked at.

      One of the things I hadn’t thought about was how noisy some models are and how they usually aren’t fully running in the store. They keep them in demo mode which doesn’t turn the compressor on. The first fridge we purchased was a Frigidaire and I’m not exaggerating when I say the compressor in it ran 23/7. It only shut up about an hour a day. Apparently it’s more energy efficient, but it made such a racket, which could be heard throughout the entire first floor, that it was driving me mad. We ended up returning it.

      Which brings me to another thing to consider – who you’re purchasing from. We bought the Frigidaire from Lowes and it turns out you have 48 hours to return large appliances or the sale is final. Same with Home Depot. Maybe if they offered a longer return window, I would have gotten used to the Frigidaire’s noise, but I wasn’t willing to take that chance, so we returned it.

      After that I used Consumer Reports (I obtained access through my local library) to get an idea about how noisy certain models were, and settled on a GE that I purchased from a local electronics store who had a 30 day satisfaction guarantee. That made me feel much better about the purchase overall.

      I like the GE better than the Frigidaire not just because it’s much quieter, but the shelves in both the fridge and freezer are height adjustable, plus the inside lights are much brighter than the Frigidaire. So it worked out in the end, but I hadn’t considered the noise factor until it was almost too late.

      Regardless of what you buy, I suggest getting deep open-top bins in various widths from The Container Store. Categorizing frozen foods by type has made keeping the freezer organized a breeze.

    20. Observer*

      Out current unit is an LG, and of the units that were available that fit out space (make sure you measure you space and the doors!) it also had the longest warranty. So far, no need for service though. It also had the largest capacity in that size. Nothing “smart” about it.

      I didn’t look at double doors – from what I can see they tend to be wider for the same amount of capacity as a single door unit and my space really is limited.

      My last unit was a Frigidaire. Not bad, but not great. It did last a reasonable amount of time, so I can’t complain too hard. But when the thing started to go, I wanted to see if I could get service and just finding out was a major pain.

      What I’ve discovered is that as a brand, their stuff is ok, but their service? Don’t even get me started. It’s a nightmare. I will never get another Frigidaire appliance ever again, if I can help it.

    21. ThatGirl*

      We have a Samsung bottom freezer with French doors on top. It included an icemaker in the freezer but I put the wrong filter in and broke that. It did need a new compressor after about 6 years. I like the size and style of it, but I’m not totally sure it’s the most reliable brand – maybe newer fridges just break down more often?

    22. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If you are in an area that regularly has power outages (I’m in the woods so that’s me when a branch falls), having freezer on top lets your freezer act like an old fashioned ice box. ie it extend the safe-cold time in your lower section. Yes at the cost of your freezer section, but if your power goes off a couple of days you need emotional support ice cream anyway.

    23. LA Girl*

      I have an LG French door fridge with *two* freezer drawers on the bottom, and I love it. The smaller (top) freezer drawer is perfect for ice cream and things in boxes. The bottom freezer drawer, divided in half, is great for bulk items (frozen veggies, Costco-sized bags of frozen chicken), but because it’s not one enormous drawer, it’s easier to find stuff

    24. dreamofwinter*

      In the house we sold in 2022, we had my favorite fridge ever (still regretting not swapping it with the one in this house). It was a GE with french doors up top and a drawer freezeer below. The water dispenser was inside, which was strange at first but really grew on me, and the automatic ice maker just filled up a drawer in the freezer that you could easily get into (or shut off if you didn’t need endless ice).
      I’ve got a mammoth side by side now and while I don’t love the idea of buying a new one, I