weekend open thread – March 16-17, 2024

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

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: The Wife App, by Carolyn Mackler. Three friends create an app to monetize the mental load women typically carry for men.

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

{ 1,073 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    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.

    We also can’t do medical advice here.

    Please give the full rules a re-read if it’s been a while!

  2. Sic Transit Vir*

    Looking for your favourite recipes that make big batches and freeze well!

    I’m in a situation where I’m eating both lunch and dinner at [the place that shall not be named] four days a week currently, and I’m getting into a terrible habit of buying pre-made food at the supermarket, which is expensive and not super healthy. I want to do some big batch cooking on my weekend so that I can have meals for the week; I don’t mind eating the same thing every day, but I don’t have a lot of recipes that make big portions and keep well. I don’t have a slow cooker or anything like that.

    What are your go-tos?

    1. Bookgarden*

      I’m doing that tonight with a big batch of chili! I just sort of make it up as I go, but always use ground turkey or beef, frozen or canned corn, 3 cans of various beans, plenty of chili powder, tomato sauce or paste, diced tomatoes, and other bits left over in the fridge like diced peppers. I can’t cook with them anymore for medical reasons, but garlic and onion are great chili ingredients, too.

      Chili is pretty forgiving so I like to try things out like adding taco seasoning. I don’t have access to a slow cooker right now either, so I make it in one big stockpot. It can be served over rice, with cornbread, or by itself and freezes/reheats well.

      This recipe is pretty similar to what I use as a base, though I don’t use as many cans of tomatoes as the writer does and tend to add more beans (personal preference): https://www.gimmesomeoven.com/5-ingredient-easy-chili-recipe/

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s also good for sloppy Joes: just bring a hamburger bun and some cheese/onions or whatever toppings you want to work, assemble, and heat in the microwave.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          I will recommend Smitten Kitchen’s Turkey Skillet Chili. Short ingredient list, most of which you probably have on hand if you cook, and reliably a comforting hit.

      2. Nihil Scio*

        Also chili can be used in other ways…
        Drain it (keep the liquid for…)
        Enchiladas: wrap the filling in tortillas, add cheese then put 1/3-1/2 the liquid on the bottom of a pan, place the rolled tortillas, dribble the rest of the liquid on top, add more cheese, cover with aluminum foil, bake 350 for 20 minutes then 15 minutes more uncovered
        Stuffed shells or lasagne:buy large pasta shells, cook, stuff, place in liquid as above, cheese, bake as above
        Burritos: drained chili, rice, veggies, cheese, wrap in large tortillas

        Undrained pasta bake: cook any smaller pasta shapes, cover with chili, cheese, & bake as above

        1. PhyllisB*

          Or serve it Cincinnati style, over spaghetti with grated cheese and diced onions on top.

    2. nameless*

      Quinoa salad- you can customize to your tastes and it makes a lot in a short amount of time. My fave so far is quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, mozzarella cheese (diced string cheese works :) ), basil and balsamic glaze drizzled on a bed of baby spinach. inspo recipe: https://www.thepioneerwoman.com/food-cooking/recipes/a11753/quinoa-with-tomato-basil-and-mozzarella/

      Mini frittatas are also yummy- you can eat them hot or cold and they’re full of protein. Also, easily customizable- add more seasoning, add fresh herbs if you want, change up the cheese, add cottage cheese, etc etc etc. inspo recipe: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/231480/muffin-pan-frittatas/

      1. JSPA*

        As someone who’s grown bacteria (both intentionally at the place-that-isn’t-named and unintentionally),

        I would not necessarily trust a dish with uncooked elements plus a combination of several-days-in-fridge and out-of-fridge hours. Not even if there’s a fridge at work, which isn’t a given. Except that I would, if it can stand being frozen and/or microwaved, and there are ice-packs involved in the commute. (The amount of salt and vinegar you’d need, to counteract that, would make it more of a pickle than a salad.)

        This salad might handle freezing or microwaving, despite the texture changing (though I’d guess any greens would be better if blanched before any freezing.) What’s your experience with that?

        1. Don't microwave salads*

          You’re recommending freezing and/or microwaving a salad? You and I have very different experiences of salad I guess. I can’t imagine what would be so concerning about this salad which seems it could easily be made thenight before, refrigerated at home overnight, and taken to work with either ice packs or stored in the work fridge.

          This seems like an extreme take.

          1. Zephy*

            The “salad” in question is a grain-based quinoa salad, there’s no lettuce or other greens involved (unless you want there to be, I guess?). Quinoa and other grain salads taste fine cold but there’s no law says you can’t warm them up if you prefer to do that.

        2. RagingADHD*

          I think you misunderstood the idea of big batch lunches.

          You leave the batch at home in the fridge. You bring 1 portion to work. There is no need to repeatedly freeze and microwave anything. That would make anything disgusting.

          1. Pennyworth*

            I hate eating the same lunch every day, so I prefer freezable recipes for batch cooking.

          1. JSPA*

            1. Most bacteria grow in the fridge, just far more slowly. That’s why food eventually spoils, even in the fridge.

            2. low levels of bacteria are commonly found on several of these ingredients; they’re safe because they don’t have a damp, nutrient-rich place to grow and divide until you mix the ingredients together. Once you mix them, this is a pretty good growth medium. But you’re not going to get enough doublings of the population to matter, in the fridge.

            3. however, people are notoriously bad at estimating “time above 40F” when transporting food, notably thinking that if something is still “cold to the touch” once it gets to the work fridge, it’s certainly fine.

            Allow a few slow doublings in the fridge by day 5, and a couple more on the commute in, and…nah, I probably wouldn’t chance this particular mix of cooked and uncooked, for a whole-week recipe.

    3. Tober*

      A big pot of curry or chili with lots of vegetables can feed one person all week, and it also freezes well.

    4. anon24*

      Chicken noodle soup. I buy a rotisserie chicken (or two), throw it in a big stock pot (I bought mine on clearance for $10 at Walmart) with 4-6 cups of water per chicken, a few chicken bullion cubes, as many peeled garlic cloves as you want (I’ve thrown the whole head in) and simmer on low until the meat is falling off the bones. Drain the broth off and pour it back into the pot, throw in a bunch of peeled and chopped carrots to your preference, then either homemade egg noodles or homemade style egg noodles. Once the chicken has cooled, pull the meat off the bone, throw it back in the pot, and simmer until the carrots are cooked.
      It takes about 4 hours to cook the meat and an hour or two for the carrots and pulling it off the carcass is a little tedious, but this makes a lot of soup, it freezes great, and it’s fairly cheap. Last time I made it I used 2 chickens, a whole bag of carrots, and a bag of store bought homemade style egg noodles because I didn’t feel like making my own that day. It was around $20 and made me enough soup to eat for about a month, I just froze it in batches.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I would recommend cooking/freezing noodles separately if you’re gonna freeze, they tend to get mushy.

          1. ThatGirl*

            Could be that egg noodles behave differently, and some folks may not mind, but when I reheat frozen noodle soups they tend to turn to mush on me, ymmv :)

            1. Cicely*

              Yep, same here. I make the soup, and always cook a separate batch of noodles for each portion of soup right before eating it.

        1. fposte*

          I’ve not encountered mushiness either, but then I tend not to use classic noodles but other pasta shapes. Maybe farfalle and penne are more robust?

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

      This is a little too salty for me at this stage of life if I make it with full-sodium everything, but you can substitute in low-sodium ingredients for some or all of the ingredients.

      Tuna Casserole (from the *Square Meals* cookbook by Jane and Michael Stern)

      You can make as much of this as you want, but use these proportions and then multiply as needed:

      1 can tuna, drained
      1 can peas, drained
      1 can cream of cream of mushroom soup
      1 hardboiled egg, sliced or chopped, as you prefer
      (optional) a single-serving bag of potato chips

      Mix 1st four ingredients in an oven-safe casserole dish and bake for 1/2 an hour at 350 degrees. Crumble some potato chips on top if you want.

    6. UKDancer*

      I make stroganoff which freezes pretty well (beef or sausage) with lots of mushroom. I make pasta sauces (amatriciana, bolognaise and a new one with sausage and chili). I also do fried mince with fajita spices, onions and red pepper which goes very well in tacos but also goes with rice.

      I also sometimes make a beef stew (bourguignon) which is delicious and freezes well. Essentially you brown the onion and mushroom and set aside. Then you just fry lardons / pancetta and add to a casserole dish. Take stewing beef and dip it in a bowl of flour to coat. Add the beef, root vegetables, garlic, seasoning, bouquet garni, thyme and other herbs to the casserole and cover well with stock and a decent amount of red wine. Cook for 1 hour about 160C then see how it’s thickening and taste the sauce and adjust. Add cornflour if needed to thicken. Then add the mushroom and onion back in. Cook for another 30-50 minutes or until the root veg are properly tender. It’s really good with potatoes and green veg or salad.

    7. HannahS*

      Smitten kitchen’s Moroccan vegetable stew. Tip: instant couscous is great: put it dry in your lunch container, add some water, plop the stew on top. Re-heat at lunchtime, and the couscous will be cooked.

      1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

        All couscous is instant. I know some packages claim it needs to be cooked, but it doesn’t. I only ever pour boiling water over, cover the bowl and let it “steep” for 5 minutes/until the water is absorbed.

    8. Meh*

      Ravioli casserole.
      Layer premade frozen cheese raviolis, spinach, mushrooms, other veggies of choice and cover with sauce. Bake until the sauce has been bubbling for 10 min or so. (30-40 min)

    9. Manders*

      I’m currently into the marinated chickpeas at Trader Joe’s. I chop up some tomato, red onion and cucumber, combine with feta cheese and maybe some cooked orzo/quinoa/couscous (if I’m in the mood to cook). One of those cans (~10 oz) with those veggies will be 2 meals, 3 if I add pasta or quinoa. I eat that chilled – a nice rotation between chili, soup, or lasagna, etc – and it’s barely any time to prep. Double it for a week’s worth of lunch.

      Anything that can be a wrap can also be a salad, so you can make taco salad for lunch and a burrito for dinner and a beef & rice bowl the next day without having to have a complete repeat. (I too can eat the same thing for multiple meals, but these kinds of variations make it easier without being “work”).

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Lasagna was my suggestion. I use the NYT recipe as a starting point and then add whatever I have that’s appropriate for the situation. Since hubs can’t eat cheese and I avoid pasta, I usually make it for other people – it’s one of my standard meals to take to people who are ill or dealing with life stresses. Easy to make vegetarian.

        1. Jay*

          Oh, yeah, I LOVE vegetarian lasagna!
          If I remember right, I’ve seen a few recipes that use substitutes for the pasta, some kind of leaf vegetable with large, thick leaves, if memory serves. Maybe grape leaves? Something like that, anyway.

    10. daily lunch*

      Meatballs with a creamy herb sauce. make meatballs that are 1/2 ground beef and 1/2 ground chicken, add in whatever else you like for meatballs. boil them in chicken stock. After cooking the meatballs, add some chopped fresh parsley or dill to the stock and let simmer 1 minute. Add in Greek yogurt or sour cream with several tablespoons of flour mixed in (2 TBSP per quart of stock) bring to a boil and stir until sauce thickens. I serve it over short grain brown rice. Would work with noodles or mashed potatoes too.

      I also sautée up some kale or make a salad to have on the side.

      I can eat this combo 4 days straight and not get tired of it.

    11. Llama Llama*

      I like making carnitas and eating them for multiple days. I usually make red beans and rice with them. I like to make a baked potato one of those subsequent days and put the meat in it.

      1. eeeek*

        This is similar to what we do. A big batch of carnitas or honeychickentaco filling made on Sunday (served however my cooking partner chooses) can later be tacos, sandwich filling, over rice/quinoa/pasta, salad topping, etc. I also tend to make rice in quantity so I can shape and freeze portions.
        I freeze portions of taco filling/chili in silicone cupcake molds so I can assemble a lunch that (a) keeps itself cold and (b) can adapt to whatever other stuff (like frozen rice or noodles) I’m throwing in there that will eventually be microwaved.

        It it not always fine dining, but it is seldom inedible.

      1. Sic Transit Vir*

        Yup! I’ve brought frozen and refrigerated suff to work in the past on occasion to reheat, which has worked well; I’m looking to up my game and make a more consistent habit of it though!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Yay! I like Tex Mex Lasagna; link to follow, but there’s tons of variations on line.

    12. Maggie*

      My go to for that type of meal is Turkey Chili. Can be reheated for days and maintain quality. You could do veggie or bison or beef or whatever I just like turkey in mine. Soups and stews are what works the best for this type of thing imho

    13. Kyrielle*

      So, here’s one you WOULDN’T think would freeze and reheat well but does – New England clam chowder. This is low-FODMAP so it’s a little extra complicated, but I don’t know whether the changes made to be low-FODMAP make it freeze and reheat well enough. (But if you don’t need low-FODMAP, you can probably at least replace the shredded turnip with one chopped onion if you prefer.)

      I just freeze in 8-ounce servings and thaw & reheat in the microwave, which is a terrible way to treat clams but is still quite edible.

      New England Clam Chowder

      3 ounces thick-cut bacon (3 slices), 1/4 inch (6 mm) dice (or just the same amount of precooked bacon crumbles)
      3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or Earth balance)
      1-2 small, firm turnips, peeled and shredded, discard any with woody centers
      1 can (51 ounces) drained, chopped clams, juice reserved
      1 bottle (8 ounces) clam juice (optional – water can do the job without much change)
      1-1.5 pounds potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch (13 mm) cubes
      1 cup potato flakes
      2 bay leaves
      1/2 tsp dried thyme or 1 teaspoon chopped, fresh thyme
      1 cup milk / milk substitute
      Salt and pepper to taste

      If not using bacon crumbles: Cook the bacon in a heavy, 4 to 5 quart (3.8 L) pan or Dutch oven, on medium-high. Stir occasionally, until it turns golden-brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Pour off the fat, leaving the bacon in the pot. If using bacon crumbles, add them and immediately proceed to the next step instead.

      Add the turnips and butter, and sauté over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they start to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes. Continue to cook and stir about 4-5 minutes after.

      Measure the reserved juice from the clams, adding enough extra clam juice (or just water) to make 4 cups (960 ml) total. Add the clam juice to the pan, along with the potatoes, bay leaves and thyme.

      Turn heat to high and bring the chowder to a boil, then reduce heat to low and partially cover the pot with a lid. Simmer the chowder until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.

      Discard the bay leaves and add the potato flakes, stirring.

      Add the milk and clams, stirring until thoroughly mixed.

      Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. (Honestly, I never find it needs salt with the bacon in there!)

      Don’t let the soup come to a boil when reheating or it may separate.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        Ooooooohhhhhh! THANK YOU! I had to go dairy-free a year ago and have been missing Clam Chowder! I’ll have to save this for the next cold spell… or Friday. Hooray, Lent!

      2. Chowder-hungry in New England*

        Not low-FODMAP, but heart healthy here. I can’t wait to try this! Thank you!

    14. I Have RBF*

      Oh, hey, I do this a lot! I also have a penchant for one pot meals, and I can’t really cook well for just one, so I freeze leftovers. I used to be called the Casserole Queen….

      * Rice Pilaf, but with added vegetables and meat. Often I start with chicken stock and chunked up canned chicken, rinse and add the different types of rice as time progresses, and then add frozen vegetables at the same time as I add the final orzo. I do similar with beef broth and beef. I use a 6 quart pot.

      * Chili Mac. I start with a lot of macaroni, and get a #10 can of chili at my local Smart & Final. I may add more onions, adjust the spices or add cheese. Eat some, freeze some. I often use a two to four gallon big pot for this

      * Macaroni casserole. Basic ingredients are macaroni, cream soup, frozen vegetables and canned meat, like chicken or tuna. Bake in a half-size steam table tray.

      * Stew. Kinda hard to do well without a slow cooker, but you can do it in a big soup pot.

      * Meatloaf. Start with a big chub of hamburger, make several pans with your favorite recipe. Freeze with your favorite sides.

      * Pot roast. Cook a big pot roast in your biggest pot. Slice it all, eat some, freeze the rest.

      * Macaroni and cheese. I do this kind of erzatz. Most people start with a roue and add the cheese, but I cheat and start with cream of mushroom soup. Bake it in a half-size, 4″ deep steam table tray. Portion out and freeze.

      I don’t have recipe links for these, and a lot of those that are out there are for two to four people, which is too small.

    15. Jan*

      Enchiladas, vegetable beef soup, chili, and protein fruit yogurt bars (more of a snack or dessert but big enough for a light lunch replacement) are my meal prep go-to’s. I work from home so meal prep the enchilada filling and put in the tortilla, add cheese and sauce, and bake day of but I’m sure they’d also freeze well for reheat as well.

      Enchilada filling: 1-2 cans black beans, diced tomatoes (I like the chili ready ones), pound beef, peppers, can of corn. Put in tortilla and add enchilada sauce and cheese, wrap, and add sauce and cheese to the top and bake.

      Vegetable beef soup: couple cans of mixed veggies, couple cans of beans, pound of beef, water or stock, 1-2 cans of tomatoes, worcestshire sauce and other seasonings.

      Chili: beef, beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and seasonings

      Fruit protein bar individual servings: 1-2/3 cup greek yogurt, .5-1 serving protein powder, cup of frozen fruit (I used a mixed berry fruit blend from Kroger), generous squeeze of honey. Blend together and put into individual holders if possible.

    16. JFS*

      vegetarian (pseudo) lasagna

      package of oven-ready lasagna noodles. (Remember that they expand, so don’t go fully end-to-end nor side-to-side of the pan.)

      “meat” layer: pre-fry a mix of sliced mushrooms + some sort of greens (optional) plus onion or leek plus optional garlic plus optional jar of artichoke hearts. After they’ve fried for a bit, you can add a faint dusting of salt to draw the liquid out.

      Note: If you want actual meat, include some sausage. Or you can add the depth of the sausage flavor with ground corriander seed, whole fennel seed, and a dash of mustard powder (or not), caraway (or not), red pepper flakes (or not). If you want to go in the direction of basil and oregano, feel free! For me, that’s more a spaghetti sauce flavor, and I like more difference between my staple dishes. I sometimes do add rosemary.

      Add wine for the last couple of minutes, if the alcohol is not an issue at work; earlier, if you need to make sure most of it is cooked out; or a bit of balsamic in water, diluted to the similar consistency and acidity as wine, if wine’s not an option.

      Either layer: A full jar of roasted peppers (any remaining seeds removed, and at least roughly diced) and/or a jar or small can of tomatoes (drained) goes in either the precooked “meat” layer or the “cream” layer, with some of the jar liquid optionally added to the “cream” layer.

      “Cream” layer: a pancake-batter-thickness achieved by mixing any of the following: ricotta, skyr, buttermilk, milk, sour cream, or even vegan substitutes, with eggs (or egg whites) and a half cup or so of grated cheap parmesan (Kraft or store brand is fine). All egg whites is a bit bland, but 2 eggs and 2 to 3 whites is fine, if you’re watching cholesterol. (I have not tried vegan egg substitute for this, nor vegan cheese, nor tofu-type products, but they might work too. Avoid sweet options like lactaid or vanilla-scented almond milk.) I add more white pepper and nutmeg than you’d think necessary. If not using parmesan, or if you like things salty, you’ll want additional salt here. If you add the eggs last, you can taste the mix before that for salt / spicing, remembering that it’s going to be salting the pasta and the mushrooms, too; and it’s also providing most of the liquid for the pasta.

      Layering

      Lightly butter or oil a lasagna pan, then start with a little bit of olive oil or some of the pan-liquor from the “meat” layer, before the first layer of lasagna.

      Pasta (overlap is OK, two-noodle-thickness is OK, but don’t overcrowd). Then “meat,” including some liquid; then “cream” (stirring each time, as the cheese settles). Repeat (repeat) (repeat) depending on depth of pan.

      (If you want to add mozzarella, any style, in the layers, you certainly can; I don’t use it, and don’t miss it.)

      You want the whole to be between damp and soupy, before it goes in the oven–the pasta all needs to touch wetness. I sometimes rub each piece of pasta through the dampness of the “meat” mix before laying it down.

      end with a skim of the cream layer, more parmesan (and/or mozzarella if using), and a drizzle of oil at the top. Cover with tented foil or a lid. and cook 20-30 minutes in a pre-heated fairly hot oven (this is when it all warms to temperature and the pasta softens) then uncover for an additional 18-30 minutes until well-browned, turning down the heat a litte, if needed.

      Cool at least 15 minutes before attempting to cut. then cut and freeze.

      If you hate mushrooms, this probably works with sausage (any animal, I guess), or maybe ground meat. Bou’d have to drain off most of the fat after pre-frying, and undo the “fake sausage” spicing. And meat might get tough in the high oven or during microwaving.

      But at that point, you can just follow the directions on the oven-ready pasta box, for regular lasagna. It works fine.

    17. fposte*

      I am a big batch cooker/freezer and my standard work lunch was soups or stews frozen in portions (usually the inexpensive brand 9.5 oz freezer containers). Chili, white chicken chili, yet about anything bean based with a particular fondness for cannellini beans with greens and bacon, curried coconut soup with chicken, etc.

      If you have space to freeze, I really recommend it. The food travels easier and stores safer, and you can have a nice variety stored up.

    18. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Meat loaf — instead of baking it as a loaf, form it into hamburger-ish patties (or use a muffin tin). You can freeze it either before or after cooking (just label which it is :P ) , and it’s already well-shaped to either put on a plate and eat with a fork, or in a sandwich, however you prefer to eat your leftover meatloaf :) I don’t have a consistent recipe — I can’t handle raw meat so my husband usually does the meatloaf making – but I’ve heard great things about the America’s Test Kitchen southwestern meatloaf, which has the added bonus of being gluten-free as it uses corn tortillas.

    19. Llellayena*

      Apricot chicken, Thai peanut chicken, hoisin chicken, chicken with tomato sauce, French green beans and cinnamon (not sure of the recipe) (are we sensing a theme here?). All of these are stovetop meals that don’t have a starch mixed in. I buy the individual microwaveable rice cups to mix in when I heat them up. I try not to freeze cream sauces or starches as they never seem to heat up well. But anything else with meat, veggies and sauce should be able to be frozen in portions.

    20. Anne Kaffeekanne*

      This would not freeze well, but it does keep for about 3-4ish days in the fridge which gets me through most of a week of work lunches:

      Pumpkin pizza.
      – store bought pizza dough (or make your own – I’m lazy)
      – one glass green pesto
      – about 1/3 of a decent sized hokkaido pumpkin
      – grated cheese, whatever you have at home
      – feta

      Spread pesto on pizza dough, add grated cheese, then the thinly sliced pumpkin, then crumble as much feta as you want on top. Bake about 20ish minutes – until the pumpkin is done basically. I get 4 servings out of one baking sheet sized pizza. Reheats well in the microwave.

    21. Elansha*

      I like egg-based things that will give you good protein but also make good leftovers/keep well for multiple meals and often taste good both warm or cooled/RT. Some of my favorite options:

      Ham & Cheese Quinoa Bites (this is from soveryblessed.com)
      2 cups cooked quinoa (I cook mine in chicken broth)
      2 eggs
      1 tsp minced garlic
      1⁄2 cup diced onion
      1 cup finely diced ham
      11⁄2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
      3 Tbs fresh chives, chopped
      1⁄2 cup panko
      1⁄4 tsp each of salt and pepper

      1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
      2. Mix together all ingredients.
      Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (1 heaping Tbs each) and press down
      gently to compact.
      3. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

      I also love bacon-cheese quiche, which is a stable weekday meal for us, but keeps well in the fridge for reheating (either on a pan on a stovetop or in the microwave, where the crust will be slightly less tasty on reheating). This is also easy to modify; we sometimes use ham instead of bacon and I like to add some pre-cooked broccoli, etc.:
      -Buy pre-made frozen pie shell
      -Warm up pie shell to RT for about 10 min, then prick all over with fork (like 20 – 30 times) across bottom and up sides
      -Pre-bake for 10 – 15 min at 400 (until looks “dry”; if edges start to brown too quickly, you can cover just those with a ring of Aluminum foil; I usually don’t use beads/weights but you can)
      -When pie shell is done pre-baking, place on wire rack to cool slightly as get other things ready
      -Cut up about 4 – 6 slices of pre-cooked bacon (or cook) into dice
      -Shred cheese (I like a mix of gruyere, cheddar, and parmesan, but use what you like — I eyeball it in terms of amounts and just make sure I have enough to basically cover the bottom of a pie shell)
      -Combine and whisk together 2 egg yolks with 4 whole eggs (use one more egg if a deep-dish pie shell) in a bowl along with about 1/2 tsp salt and 3/4 cup milk (I usually use 1% or 2% but you can have some portion of it be cream if you want)
      -Put pie shell on baking sheet (this prevents spillage getting to and in the oven)
      -Add cheese to par-baked and cooled pie shell, then bacon, then egg mixture
      -Put into 325 deg oven for about 30 min, until middle of quiche is set
      -Cool on wire rack, cut, and eat!

      Spanish Tortilla (eggs, potato, onion) is also a great option — to make it super delicious you do need to use all of the oil recipes recommend; I like the Spanish Tortilla with a Golden Crust recipe from CooksIllustrated.

      1. TeaCoziesRUs*

        I love quiche and learned a great hack from a little coffee shop south of Tucson – make quiche in a springform pan! They used the same size as a cheesecake pan. Make your own double pie crust, form it to the pan and giving it a small lip, blind bake until golden, cool (so the walls don’t cave in…), fill with solids of choice to near the top of the shell, pour in egg mix. Top with cheese if you’d like. Pop into a 400-425 degree oven, pull when center is JUST a bit jiggly (usually an hour).

        Our solids tend to be either ham or sausage crumbles, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, cooked long enough to release most of their liquid, then topped with fresh spinach before I pour on eggs. Egg mix tends to be eggs, splash of oat milk, herbs (parsley, dill) and / or Boursin (they make a dairy free version!!!), and a handful or two of spinach / kale / insert greens here. I usually start with 6 eggs, but you basically want to JUST cover the solids. Inevitably I’ll need to add a couple more eggs, but I’d rather start scant.
        If I make one like this, I can get 8-10 LARGE servings, since they’re 2-3 inches tall! :)

      1. UKDancer*

        BBC good food website is a really good source of recipes. I get most of mine there and am seldom disappointed.

    22. Trex is best*

      I don’t freeze it but something I’ve been doing in the beginning of the week is I make a huge pasta salad–cook up a box of pasta and then I add in my base vegetables such as cherry tomato diced up summer squash corn kernels baby spinach, ( really whatever your favorite vegetables are) and then I just do a vinaigrette dressing with that and some herbs like chives and parsley.
      and then once I have that base pasta salad ready I can do a whole bunch with it for example I’ll put a big scoop or two over a bed of lettuce and add my favorite cheese. I’ll also mix up a can of tuna fish and put that on top of the pasta salad for another meal. I’ll take it in a Greek direction and add some feta cheese and olives to a bowl for another meal. another meal I’ve done with the salad is add chickpeas and hard boiled eggs for protein

    23. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Beans and rice! I’ll make it over the weekend, then portion out and freeze the leftovers. :) Start with 3-4 smoked ham hocks and a small half rack of ribs in the bottom of a crockpot, add in 2 16oz bags of dried beans (I do one black, one kidney), 1 onion, Cumin, and bay leaves. Top with chicken stock or bone Broth until the pot is FULL. Cook 8-10 hours on low.

      About 30-45 minutes before serving, I’ll make rice in a pressure cooker. I’ll also saute up some greens until they’re BRIGHT green. About 10 minutes before serving, I’ll pull out the hocks and ribs to get the bones out, shred the meat, and then put the meat back in, add in the greens, and stir everything together. Rice goes in the bottom of a bowl, beans mess goes on top.

      I’m okay with mushy rice in leftovers, so I’ll put rice on the bottom of my container, top with beans, then freeze.

    24. PhyllisB*

      If you have a heavy pot and eat beef, you can cook a pot roast and make gravy, shred meat and add back to gravy. Portion out and freeze. Then you can: make a traditional roast dinner with potatoes/carrots, hot roast beef sandwiches on a bun
      with coleslaw, or leave some of the meat dry and add BBQ sauce.
      If you need a recipe, season roast on all sides with a generous amount of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. (If you don’t like garlic leave it off.) Add oil and preheat pot until oil shimmers. brown roast really good on all sides until REALLY brown. Put water in until about halfway up on the roast. My husband adds carrots and potatoes after its cooked a while. You may cook in oven on 325 for about an hour and a half to two hours or simmer on stove. Check liquid level to make sure it doesn’t get too dry. If you’re adding vegetables, do it after about an hour. You may need to add a little more salt if you do this.

      1. PhyllisB*

        I forgot to include onions. If you want just the flavor, roughly dice an onion and add to the pot in the drippings after browning roast and saute. Put roast back in and proceed. if you like to eat onions as a side vegetable cut a couple of peeled onions in quarters and add to pot when you add carrots and potatoes.

    25. TeaCoziesRUs*

      Chicken base. Two things – chicken bone Broth is EASY and delicious, and if you make just the soup base you can add rice or noodles or whatever you have leftover from dinner that week.
      Bone Broth – put 2 packages of chicken feet (wings work if you can’t find the feet, and if you think ahead you can save carcasses, leg bones, etc), 1 package of chicken offal (hearts, gizzards, etc), 1 package of chicken livers into pressure cooker. Roughly chop 1 onion, add that to the pot, along with a handful of garlic cloves or a big squeeze of minced garlic. (You can also add carrots and Celery to make it more stock than Broth.) Add in paprika, turmeric, garlic, and bay leaves. Set the lid and start it as a soup for as long as your cooker will allow (mine goes to 2 hours). When it’s done, discard all of the solids and put the liquid into large canning jars. They’ll set up like a thick jello. :)

      To make chicken base, shred a rotisserie chicken or dice up raw chicken, dice up an onion, 2-3 carrots, and 1/2 head of celery – particularly the inside with the Celery leaves. I’ll use a 1/2 bag of Carrot shreds or Carrot chips if I’m being lazy. Top with 1 jar of bone Broth and boil together until the chicken is cooked or the veggies are soft. You can freeze this as is, then add it to whatever starch you have as leftovers (i.e. home fries, leftover rice from takeout, etc).

    26. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Spaghetti sauce! These measurements are more of a guideline than a recipe, this is a thing where measuring with your heart will absolutely be fine.

      – 1 lb. ground beef, pork, sausage (Italian, smoked, whatever) or combination thereof (or veggie meat substitute)
      – 1 small onion, diced
      – a handful of finely diced celery and carrot if you have them
      – minced garlic (a little, a lot, or none)
      – mushrooms, bell pepper, whatever other veggies you have on hand and need to use up, diced
      – a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (or a healthy squeeze of the kind in a tube)
      – red wine (can use water or stock instead)
      – Depending on how chunky you like your sauce: a 16-24ish oz. can of tomato sauce, tomato puree, diced tomatoes, or whole tomatoes or combination thereof
      – Italian herbs of your choice (I use Penzey’s Italian blend) and maybe some red pepper flakes if you want a little kick
      – Soup base of your choice, a couple tablespoons– I use mostly beef Better Than Bouillon with a little Penzey’s pork soup base
      – a couple tablespoons of butter
      – salt and pepper to taste

      Brown your meat in a big pot or Dutch oven. Drain off most of the fat, keep a little to saute your veggies and garlic. Add your veggies and garlic, cook until onions are translucent. Add tomato paste and paste-type soup base if you’re using that. Mix well, add a splash of wine or stock and scrape all that good brown stuff off the bottom of the pot. When that’s all mixed in, add your tomatoes and any liquid in the can. Add a little water if it’s too thick. Season to taste. Bring just to a simmer, chuck the butter in, reduce heat to low, and let it hang out. I usually simmer mine for at least two hours.

      Give it a good stir, let it simmer with the lid off for a bit if it’s too watery, and that’s it. It freezes great and a pot lasts me at least two weeks.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I make a yummy stew with sweet potato, peanut butter, and chickpeas, and I usually throw in some kale and eat with brown rice to make it go even further. Google recipes for West African Peanut Stew/Soup, usually you add some stewed tomato and stock, and you can adjust for spice and soupiness. It comes together quickly and freezes well (I’d make the rice as you go) and it tasty and satisfying. I think you can probably find versions that use chicken and the chickpeas are optional since you already get protein through the peanut butter.

        We also make Thai curries and have frozen those – a good curry paste and coconut milk + whatever veggies and protein you want to add. If you can get lime leaves, they add a lot of flavour and authenticity, and they actually freeze well too, you can pull out a couple of leaves at a time as needed.

    27. RedinSC*

      I assemble this at work every day, but I bring in pita breads, hummus, sprouts, cucumber, carrots and mushrooms and pack together a little pita sandwich. It’s nice and fresh, tastes great and it’s easy enough to assemble at work. But we have a kitchen with fridge so I just buy my veggies, etc on my weekly shopping trip and then take everything in on Monday, I keep a knife and carrot peeler at my desk.

    28. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Spanish Rice for the Legions. Double batch of rice, cans of no-salt-added tomato sauce, a couple of pounds of hamburger, cut up some onions and peppers and any other vegetable in the fridge which didn’t run fast enough. A roaster pan batch either feeds the mob over a weekend or gets frozen up into maybe twenty single person portions.

    29. carcinization*

      You’ve gotten a lot of great suggestions already! What immediately sprang to mind is Budget Bytes’ Slow Cooker Jambalaya recipe, because it’s super-easy and delicious and every time I make it I’m both surprised by how much it makes and really excited to eat the leftovers!

    30. Jasmine*

      Lentil soup with bread on the side! Easily made vegetarian or if you’re a meat eater, I suggest adding Italian sausage. Freezes well. I make a huge match divide into portions and freeze it.

    31. Junior Dev (no longer Junior)*

      I just made the Red Beans and Rice recipe from Serious Eats, it turned out great. I used andouille and a smoked turkey leg for the meats; next time I would add more beans because I think it is more of a meat stew with a few beans at this point. It is delicious.

      In general my strategy for soups and stews is to store them in 2 of those large Pyrex containers with the plastic lids, and freeze one. Remember when freezing anything high in liquid to only fill it about 2/3 of the way full since ice expands. You could get single serving containers to freeze it in for convenience if you want but it’s not necessary.

      Lentil soup is another great option. You can make it greek style with brown lentils or Middle East style with red lentils. I add some veggies either way—carrots and celery for red lentils, spinach or chard for brown.

    32. Jo*

      Sheet pan meals are nice – easy to prepare and generally healthy. One of our favorites is chicken fajita’s. Cut bell peppers, onion, and boneless chicken each into strips. Spray (or toss lightly) with olive oil. Sprinkle – or even better, toss in a covered bowl – with fahita seasoning. You can buy some premade or make your own. Spread out on a cookie sheet and cook in a 400 or 425 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes. Dish is done when chicken is done.

      Can eat as fajitas in tortillas with cheese, salsa, and other fixings. Can layer on top of a salad, or just eat plain. Ideally, warmed up. But even room temperature isn’t bad.

  3. Tober*

    Sometime back in the 2010’s someone on this site recommended a website that aggregated pictures of interiors with a hygge or Bohemian vibe; I think it may have been Polish? I had it bookmarked for years but I lost it during my most recent computer upgrade. Anybody remember that site or can recommend similar sites?

    1. English Rose*

      Don’t know about a specific site for this, but Pinterest is a great resource for different interiors you can collect on boards.

    2. Pippa K*

      I wonder if it might have been the Birds and Baking tumblr? It had a cosy, well-curated feel that I used to enjoy (but now you have to have a tumblr account to see the feed so I don’t know if it’s still active)

  4. Venus*

    How does your garden grow?

    I have been digging up invasive vines from mine. Now that that’s done, the next step is to plant tomato and other seeds indoors, then wait a couple weeks or a month for the ground to warm up enough to clean things up and then plant some beans and enjoy my asparagus!

    1. Deuce of Gears*

      Two weeks ago I got my kid to plant a Korean dwarf lilac in the backyard. (Kid is an adult and was happy to have an outdoors break. I’m in physical therapy such that I couldn’t do the digging myself.) It’s blooming already!

      The roses, baby fig tree, and pumpkin are all thriving too. Considering having the spouse pull up some bushes killed by unusually cold winter temperatures and planting more heritage roses.

    2. Meh*

      Cool weather veggie garden suggestions ? I’m looking at snap peas and assorted lettuces and hoping the bunnies don’t get them. other ideas ?

      1. saddesklunch*

        Beets, carrots, and radishes can be nice! Also I love a fresh english pea or fava bean.

      2. Happily Retired*

        Spring garden: I have planted ‘Little Marvel’ English (garden) peas, ‘Sugar Ann’ sugar snap peas, ‘America’ spinach, and ‘New Red Fire’, ‘Black-Seeded Simpson’, and ‘Buttercrunch’ lettuce. Tomorrow planting green onions and chives (different bed from the legumes/peas.)

        Summer garden: Started the tomatoes and peppers inside yesterday on heat mats and under lights. Will be starting herbs indoors next week, as soon as I figure out where the rest of the heat mats went… Beans will replace the peas when they poop out in early June.

        Basil, chamomile, anise hyssop, and borage will be planted among the vegetables to attract pollinators, along with just-for-pretties.

    3. GoryDetails*

      Snowdrops and crocuses galore – and they need no effort from me, so that’s a win! But I might plant some radishes and peas, as those can tolerate chilly soil at this time of year.

    4. Madame Arcati*

      Mostly I want it to not rain for five goshdarned minutes so I can mow the lawn. It’s been a very rainy winter and spring hasn’t really got going yet, and it’s just too wet . But the forecast for next weekend looks much better!
      I have some bulbs I can put in tomorrow though; ranunculus, liatris spicata (whatever that is, I bought a mix!), freesias, gypsophila, and a dahlia.

    5. CityMouse*

      English Ivy is the bane of my existence. Never plant English Ivy (my neighbor’s have it in their yard and I have to cut it out of mine constantly).

      1. Time for Tea*

        I’m considering planting some (I’m in England, it’s not invasive here as I understand it gets in the US), to make a green wall between my property and my neighbour and partly that’s because she’s really been annoying the past few years and I pettily would not mind it invading her garden…

    6. JSPA*

      20% of the planting area in the (walled) yard is a sea of little wild onions, with dancing white blooms. Ten times more than I can possibly eat.

      They’ll die back almost entirely in another 4 to 6 weeks–so real gardening can start–and return late next winter.

      They are very pretty, but slippery and stinky if you tread on them, plus the cat keeps trying to bite them if I let her out. I suppose the strap-like leaves pass for extra-juicy grass, in her eyes.

      Onions are toxic for cats. And she’s a regular cow with her cat grass. So I can’t trust that she’ll take a tiny taste, be grossed out, and not swallow.

      She is therefore balefully inside until the onions die back for the year. With her usual three pots of cat grass, plus extra Attitude, plus a stock of kitty swear words for when I scoop her up as she makes a dash out the door.

      But the fruit bushes and trees are leafing out, so there may be some sort of harvest, all the same.

      1. Happily Retired*

        I’ve always heard about onions-vs-cats, and I even worked for a vet back in the day, but I will say that I’ve never had a cat that didn’t devour spaghetti sauce (with lotsa onions) with no ill effects. This is not to say that other cats wouldn’t be affected, but that’s my experience with (*counts*) eight cats.

        Good luck with your cat and the onions! I’m like you – I find them stinky.

        1. Yvette*

          Doesn’t cooking sometimes alter the chemical properties of things? Maybe raw onions are a problem but not cooked?

          1. JSPA*

            Supposedly not, and the resulting anemia can supposedly be fairly asymptomatic until severe (and in any case four or five days later, when one isn’t looking for signs of lethargy). Plus if they don’t die or have organ failure from the anemia, there is supposed to be minimal long term effect.

            But it must be pretty severe (and reproducible) for people to have connected the dots with such a long delay, you’d think???

      2. allathian*

        Nothing yet, as we just got a load of snow dumped on us. I love the Light at this time of year, but it looks so dreary outside with old snow, ice, and bare brown patches. The new snow looks pretty but I’m so ready for winter to be over.

    7. Texan In Exile*

      I’m going to try the winter sowing technique, where you plant seeds in milk jugs and leave them outside! I can’t wait!

    8. MissB*

      My backyard is scraped. Nothing left but dirt. I’m waiting for the retaining walls to be built before I can put my veggie garden back together, likely in May. It will probably late May before I can replant the plants that I saved before the excavation started.

      Meanwhile, I have my perennial plants jammed here and there and everywhere. My seedlings are growing inside for my veg garden.

      But I’m just looking at dirt. Lots of dirt.

    9. Chauncy Gardener*

      It’s early spring here, so I just started cleaning out my gardens. The crocuses (croci?), winter aconite, witch hazel and snowdrops are all in bloom and it’s lovely! The Farmer’s Almanac says tomorrow is a good day to plant peas, so I’ll be soaking them tonight and planting tomorrow. Yay!

    10. Girasol*

      First daffodil this week, first crocus, first meadowlark of spring! Local farm wisdom says that you don’t plant anything in spring until peas and lettuce on St. Patrick’s Day, so tomorrow is the big day.

    11. eeeek*

      I have onion and pepper seedlings going in the basement on heat mats, under lights. Next weekend I was supposed to start tomatoes and basil – but given the daffodils blooming next to the house and the astonishingly warm weather, I will start them tomorrow. Potatoes will go in next week, so I should probably decide just where to put them.
      It feels like I’m two weeks behind the Wisconsin USA Spring. I am resisting the urge to do too much cleanup, because butterflies and bees that like the leaf litter are still liking it on the cold nights. I could probably tuck in some of the wildflowers I’ve had sitting in soil in the fridge.
      Rhubarb is thrusting up righteous red fists tinged with green ruffles. Every hyacinth bulb I ever forced and planted afterward in less optimal conditions is sloppily blooming. Daylilies and iris are scything upward from the soil, and columbines are whirling.
      It’s kind of a mess. So…normal for my Spring garden?

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

      Got to see more birds on my fire escape, and weather is very pleasant today! Cherry tree I paid to have planted in memoriam for a friend is blooming.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I just glanced through that and it’s hilarious. Reminds me of all the “birds aren’t real” memes from a few years ago.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      SO SMALL. I am taking a spinning (yarn, not bike) class tomorrow, and received today delivery of an e-spinner, which is basically the business parts of a spinning wheel with the big foot-pedal-powered wheel replaced with a small motor so it is much smaller and easier to move around, and also to accommodate the fact that I am clumsy and have concerns about my ability to consistently do different-but-coordinated things with all four of my limbs in concert. But the shipping box containing the spinner and all its bits and bobs is approximately six inches in its largest dimension. So this thing is tiny and adorable and I am positively giddy. And also, I think that it’s super awesome that this is an option that can accommodate people who have actual mobility issues, not just the chronically uncoordinated. AND there are options for e-spinners that are dramatically less expensive than, with just as positive reviews as, traditional spinning wheels.

      1. Loredena*

        Which one did you get? I kept looking at them before I finally had knee surgery and am still tempted, so definitely want to hear what you think!

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I have an EEW Nano 2 from Dreaming Robots (dot com), and after today’s class (in which I worked on both an Ashford Joy and my Nano 2) I am fairly confident that I will also be getting their EEW 6.1 when it comes available in May. And the two together are STILL less expensive than many other options.

          So far my biggest “issue” with the Nano (with the caveat that I’ve now spun on it for all of 45 minutes, which is half my spinning career) is that it’s lightweight and the suction cups aren’t quite as oomphy as they could be to keep it in place, so mine tipped forward a couple of times. (I have a carrying case, which includes a heavier base that should help, en route.) Otherwise, it was lovely to work with, and I found it very user friendly :)

    3. Manders*

      We had great weather for a few days this week, and it makes me happy for the upcoming Spring season.

    4. GoryDetails*

      My “grazing” cat figured out how to work the microchip-reading feeder, so now he can nibble whenever he wants to while the big cat who devours everything can’t get at the food.

    5. Llama Llama*

      My kids were off this week and I went up to the mountains each day with them. We saw an insane amount of deer and turkey each day (28 deer and 29 turkey was the record day).

    6. Llama Llama*

      My disabled looooves food and will eat most things but will not eat anything sweet and will spit it out. This week I gave her a Reese’s dipped animal crackers and she loves them. (She is underweight so convincing her to eat bad for her food is a huge win!).

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      The crows doing swoopies outside our back windows–we’re on the 2nd floor and can see them just bombing straight down over and over, just having fun!

    8. Enough*

      Got a new washer and dryer. While they have a larger capacity they are not as wide as the others so I have a little more space that makes the space feel so much better.

    9. RLC*

      After over five years of seeing a solo male downy woodpecker in my garden, I’ve spotted a second downy-this one is a female. Have seen both at the feeders and working their way up and down the trunks of my conifers picking bugs out of the bark. So hope they stay around eating bugs and just being adorable little birds!

    10. Jackalope*

      As a kid I got my ears pierced a couple of times but ultimately it didn’t work out. I was always a bit sad about it because earrings are the one kind of jewelry I’ve enjoyed wearing, but a nickel allergy is a nickel allergy.

      A few months ago I decided to try again since there are more options nowadays for people with metal allergies, and I’ve finally made it past the months where I have to keep the studs in all the time (I’m still sleeping with them in). So I ordered some playful earrings online (shout-out to Pitter Patter Gifts on Etsy; a bit cuter than what I’d generally go for but they were perfect for the moment), and have spent the last couple of days enjoying cool stuff in my ears for the first time since middle school!

      1. Jaydee*

        I highly recommend Tini Lux. They’re a bit pricier than I would normally buy, but they are titanium and I can wear them constantly without issues. For comparison, regular “hypoallergenic” earrings I could wear for maybe 2-3 workdays (taking them out at night) before my ears are red and swollen and sore and gross. The earrings I’m currently wearing have barely left my ears since I got them for…Christmas 2021, I think. I take them out every now and then to clean them, but I wear them daily and sleep in them at night. Two caveats – the backs don’t stay on well, so I got a pack of non-metal backs at Claire’s and those work great; also if you get earrings that have some sort of stone-like thing inset into the metal, it may fall out. But the plain studs and hoops are great.

        1. Jackalope*

          Thanks for the heads up! I am suddenly obsessed with earrings, maybe because I’ve wanted them for so long, and am taking note of all of the recs I get. I also got some earrings from a place called For Rebel Skin, although they’re still on the way so I don’t know yet how they’ll do. But I’ve heard good reviews, so maybe that’s another option for you too? I don’t know how my ears will react longterm to the Etsy earrings (although at least they’re titanium), but I figured I could at least try.

    11. MeepMeep123*

      Last year, I started classical guitar lessons. One of my motivators was a particular piece that I really wanted to learn. I was sure it would take me years to get to the level where I could even contemplate trying that piece.

      I started it this week. And I can actually do it.

    12. Writerling*

      Literally conjured inspiration by looking at something I made and asking myself “I wonder when/how I’ll get inspired by this for my book” and an idea struck IMMEDIATELY. It was great. (Also getting my shodo complimented by the teacher.)

    13. Tinamedte*

      Helping my elderly mother put up wallpaper in her newly renovated hallway, and chitchatting about life and stuff in between all the “could you pass me the scissors please?” She’s great <3

    14. londonedit*

      Blue skies are currently making a brief appearance here in London and the magnolia tree outside is flowering. Feels for a minute like spring might be on the way after weeks and weeks of grey rainy misery.

    15. English Rose*

      Got a letter from a friend I’d lost touch with – made me so happy to find her again.

    16. The Other Dawn*

      I believe I finally solved my clothing storage problem (aside from the fact that I have way too many pieces of clothing…that’s another issue).

      Typically I hang everyting, even t-shirts, because my dresser drawers are overstuffed. Also, I tend to forget about things that are in a drawer, so things never get worn, I forget I have them and end up buying again, and on and on. I’ve taken two cruises since October and have come to realize that I love, do much better with, a combo of shelves and hanging space, with just a couple drawers for underwear, socks, and things like that.

      I recently went on the hunt for an armoire or wardrobe (or two) that would fit everything and fit in the bedroom space I have. I found one in a style to match my bedroom and the house (vintage house…1735), it’s all wood, and it didn’t break the bank. I ended up buying two of the same in Shaker style. Each one has two lower drawers, which I’ll use for the underthings, seasonal shoes, workout clothing, and a few other things; and two shelves, which will be for everything that doesn’t need to be hung up. I will likely buy a few baskets so I can put those on top of the armoires for extra storage.

      Now hopefully I can report next week that I’ve gone through all my clothing, stored in the new armoires what I’m keeping, bagged up what I plan to donate, and tossed anything I can’t donate. With two full closets (not including coats and boots), six large plastic totes, all the stuff that came out of my old dresser (that went to the husband so he now has two, which he needs), and more totes in another closet AND more under the beds, I’m not so sure. It might be a while. :)

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        My old boss used to do that with nylons–she had like, 200 pairs at one point!

    17. GoryDetails*

      Hitting the local library’s annual book sale! It’s not as if I *need* any more books, but they have such a huge selection and I always find lots of good-condition books-of-interest – and it’s for a good cause, as if I needed more of an excuse…

      1. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I took down a box of books to the library! But before that happened, I was at lunch with someone who had a Little Free Library, and I let her pick out everything she wanted out of the box. She won, got books, and I won, could lift the dang box!

        1. GoryDetails*

          Excellent book-distribution skills! I stock Little Free Libraries too – including one of my own. I read a lot, and prefer printed books to e-books, so this gives me a fun way to keep all the books from overwhelming my own shelves.

    18. Irish Teacher.*

      Went out yesterday after work with some colleagues and we had fun.

      And went to a Johnny McEvoy concert last Sunday, which was excellent.

      Oh and it’s a long weekend here.

    19. Rrrach*

      When the rainfall is really heavy (which gets boring, even if you have very good waterproof clothing/boots), two ducks come to hang out in our local (very urban) park. They always seem very excited to be there, so I’m guessing they are Rural Ducks (I am making up duck categories here), who see this temporary pool-in-the-park as a fun pop up pied a terre.
      It’s beyond cute and makes me very happy :-)

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        Maybe they’re swapping with their friend Urban Duck who gets to go for an away break in a rural area!

    20. allathian*

      Went to see Dune 2 in IMAX, the thester was full, everyone arrived on time, nobody flashed their phones or misbehaved otherwise. The movie was great, too, for once it felt shorter than it was.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I want to see it on the big screen SO BAD. It better hang around until I’m over this stupid virus.

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        To me there were lots of Noble Gazing at Things a la Lawrence of Arabia that could have been shortened. I bet I could have squeezed a full half hour here and there. But I only looked at my watch twice, so it worked out ok. Still enjoyed.

        1. allathian*

          I agree, but OTOH they could’ve added another 30 minutes easily by overextending the battle scenes…

    21. Elizabeth West*

      I did my nails today, which I haven’t done in a really long time. Of course I’ll probably break one before I’m well enough to go back to work, but for now, I have pretty Sinful Colors Glass Pink sparkly nails. :)

    22. Don’t make me come over there*

      I’ve been economizing lately, and one of the things I rarely do anymore is go out to nice restaurants. But a college friend was passing through town this weekend, and the stock market’s up, so I splurged and we had a lovely meal downtown. I wore a skirt for the first time in months, and even mascara!

    23. carcinization*

      I found a really cool dress in a smaller size than expected on super sale (like, $40 instead of $140) and wore it when out dancing with my husband — we hadn’t gone out dancing in years.

  5. Jackalope*

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

    I’m busy and can’t post right now but will share mine later.

    1. Valancy Stirling*

      I’m halfway through Book Lovers by Emily Henry. It’s the anti-small town romance and I love it (and I say this as someone who loves small town romances). The perfect read to close the summer with.

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      I just have not been able to get into reading lately and it is bugging me! (Seasonal depression and ADHD are not a good combo, it turns out.) I went to the library and got the first volume of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (I first read it in high school) and Scalzi’s Starter Villian and I hope one of them can restart my reading engine.

      And really, how can one resist the cover of Starter Villian?

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      Just finishing The Iliad and The Odessey–I’m reading them in tandem before bed.

      Next up: Fourteen Stories, a novel with each chapter written by a different author, telling the stories of people living in an apartment house at the start of Covid, who all meet on the roof to cheer health workers and end up telling tales about themselves.

      1. Dicey Tillerman*

        I just bought Fourteen Stories; one of my favorite authors has a chapter in it. I’m excited to read it!

        1. Sadie*

          for anyone else who could not find this book on Goodreads no matter how hard she tried, turns out it’s called Fourteen DAYS and is edited by Atwood. Thank you for the recommendation!

            1. Dicey Tillerman*

              I went with you, because 14 stories, apartment building…seems legit? Sheesh, brain!

              1. Reluctant Mezzo*

                I do have a book translated from the French where each room has a bit of a story, but there’s so *much* physical description of each room and so little of the people and how they are related to each other, that I finally gave up about a quarter of the way through. Now, if it had been done that way *I* would have done it (so what if I have 30 books to write…).

                1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

                  Is it by Georges Perec? I’m blanking on the title but if so, that’s my gf’s favourite book!

    4. Jackalope*

      So I’ve been reading more Seanan McGuire, still in the Incryptid series, still enjoying it. For nonfiction, I started a book called Cassandra Speaks by Elizabeth Lesser, talking about reimagining several historical stories, myths, and legends from the perspective of the female characters involved. I haven’t made it too far in but I’m enjoying it so far.

    5. Tortally HareBrained*

      My nonfiction book club discussed The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery last week. This week I read Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt and this was the absolute most perfect pairing.

      1. Hlao-roo*

        If you’re interested in another good animal fiction/non-fiction book pair:

        Horse by Geraldine Brooks
        Lexington: the Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Time of American’s Legendary Racehorse by Kim Wickens

        (I have read Horse, Lexington is still on my to-read list but a friend said it was good.)

      2. Reluctant Mezzo*

        I read that and it was wonderful! (Remarkably Bright Creatures, that is. Apparently Finding Dory was more of a documentary than people thought).

        1. the cat's pajamas*

          I mostly enjoyed Remarkably Bright Creatures, except I found the young guy character so irritating, but it was worth putting up with him for the rest of the story.

    6. Lemonwhirl*

      Finished “The Glow” by Jessie Gaynor and highly recommend it. It’s about a 29-year old PR account manager who is trying to save her career by recruiting an ethereal, cult-leader-ish social media influencer. The sentence-level descriptions and observations are amazing.

      Currently reading “What The Neighbors Saw” by Melissa Adelman. It’s okay so far.

      It’s a holiday weekend here, and I am hoping to start another book this week. I had a pile of holds come in at once from the library.

      1. Lemonwhirl*

        Finished “What The Neighbors Saw” and absolutely inhaled “The Wife App”. Fantastic and interesting book – reminded me a bit of “The Very Nice Box”…maybe in the writing style?

    7. English Rose*

      Just finished The Book Keeper, second in Sarah Painter’s series on the inhabitants of Unholy Island. It was good, but didn’t enjoy it as much as the first, The Ward Witch.

    8. word nerd*

      I’ve been reading the Emily series by LM Montgomery for the first time and generally enjoying it except for the Dean character, who falls in love with her when she’s 12 and says creepy things to her while he waits for her to grow up. Ew!

      I’ve also been on a big children’s lit kick lately. Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH has held up really well, but I’m finding Ella Enchanted so far not as good as my last read unfortunately. It makes me realize how much my mood/mindset affects my reads.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I found Alice in Wonderland quite delightful to come back to.

        When kids were young, The Phantom Tollbooth was a go-to for long car rides.

      2. Magdalena*

        Yes to the EW. Even more creepy is that Dean is meant to be a positive character. Put me off the book in a big way.

      3. Tortally HareBrained*

        Ella Enchanted is a big childhood favorite for me (the book, not the movie). Sorry it isn’t currently holding up for you. I remember it quite fondly and read it several times throughout my school aged years.

        1. word nerd*

          Don’t get me wrong, I do still like it! But I was, well, enchanted by it before and the magic isn’t quite there for me this time, boo. :/

      4. goddessoftransitory*

        Yeah; I always felt something was off about Dean but it wasn’t until I got older that I realized how creepy that was. But he already showed his whole ass when he was jealous of her writing and told her her book sucked, so.

      5. Elizabeth West*

        I dumped a bunch of my old children’s books before I moved. Although I still enjoy reading kidlit, so many of the ones we read in the 1970s and 1980s are problematic and it makes me cringe to read them now. I still have quite a few good books left.

        There were also a bunch I was sick of, like all the Trixie Beldens. Those were spoiled for me when someone told me there was porn of it online. Lord help me, I looked, and it was utterly hilarious, but I couldn’t handle another “Gleeps, Jim!” after that.

      6. beware the shoebill*

        I loved Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH when I was a kid! We had pet rats at the time which made it even better.

        Other children’s books I recommend are James Thurber’s The White Deer and The Thirteen Clocks. I’ve never gotten into his more adult writing but I love those two.

        1. snacattack*

          “Seconds bled to death on my sleeve…”

          “But there is no thorny boar of Borythorn, which makes it hard”

      7. AnotherLadyGrey*

        Ooh, I reread Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH last year, what a delightful book!

        Another one that held up amazingly well for me was Watership Down. I loved it as a kid and even more as an adult. If you happen to like audio books, the version narrated by Peter Capaldi is absolutely incredible.

        1. word nerd*

          I adore Watership Down (which I’ve only read as an adult). I’ve been considering rereading it, but I’m a bit scared to because I’m afraid it’ll be hard to live up to my now very high expectations after my first read. I sent a copy to my best friend and she was meh about it. But I do like audiobooks so I should probably give the Capaldi version a shot, thanks!

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Reread The Bullet That Missed, the third Thursday Murder Club mystery. I had forgotten a lot of delightful details, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

      Started City of Brass, which I’d tried in the past and just was not vibing with it then. This time I have gotten farther and am becoming invested in the characters, so shall probably do the trilogy.

    10. Pam Adams*

      I recently discovered The Family From One End Street, by Eve Garnett. it won a Carnegie in 1937, and it and its sequels are charming. Like All-of-a-Kind Family, UT shows that kids are kids, no matter how poor.

    11. Nervous Nellie*

      One for me this week as I finish up the ones from last week (Home Comforts is going to take a while):

      The Fire Dwellers by Margaret Laurence – the third book of five in her Manawaka Series. They are loosely connected books about the lives of 5 women in the fictional Canadian town of Manawaka. The current book is of a wife & mother about to turn 40, stifled by the tedious routine of her life. Laurence writes so poetically that a sentence will stop me short, and I will reread it aloud. Incredible writing.

    12. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I started reading the Jack Reacher series after seeing the Amazon show. The nice thing is you don’t have to read them in order; they all pretty much stand alone. I just get the eBooks from the library as they become available. Not great literature, I know, but I’m enjoying it. After seeing the show and reading the books, it is obvious how Tom Cruise was totally wrong for the character in the movies.

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve run out of things to read by my favorite authors, so I’ve started reading the earlier novels by James Rollins. I started reading his books last year. Right now I’m reading Amazonia. I finished Excavation last week, and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It was good, but the ending just didn’t make sense to me.

    14. Rara Avis*

      Just starting The Cloisters by Katy Hays. Library book sale find which I chose based on a pretty cover and the author blurb. (She attended my Alma mater.) but another alum, who actually works at the Cloisters, said she was very annoyed at the book because it’s not realistic about the site at all. So we’ll see .

    15. GoryDetails*

      I came across this vampire-themed anthology of YA stories with diverse characters:

      “Vampires Never Get Old: Tales With Fresh Bite”, edited by Zoraida Cordova and Natalie C. Parker. Some good entries so far!

      I finished the somber “In a Perfect World” by Laura Kasischke – it’s a slow-pandemic tale that centers on a rather hapless young woman who wound up caring for her airline-pilot husband’s kids (including a couple of teenaged girls who do NOT like her) while he’s away, only to find herself having to hold things together when the spreading pandemic gets her husband quarantined in Europe. The domestic angst is as heavy, if not more so, than the notes about the escalating global crisis, so not exactly a feel-good story – and yet…

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        I’ve been working my way through SPQR, Mary Beard’s history of ancient Rome. It’s interesting, because it’s very chatty and accessible, and yet I feel like there are debates or forms of analysis she is responding to that are totally off my radar. I’ve also realized that most of what I know about the Roman Empire is actually about Roman Britain, which only comes toward the end of the time period she covers. (I’ve been to Rome and seen the Forum, Pantheon, Colosseum, etc. but never really read much of the history, or even much fiction set in that time period – whereas I’ve read lots of fiction set in Roman Britain and been to Bath, Vindolanda and Hadrian’s Wall, etc.)

        1. Reluctant Mezzo*

          I strongly recommend A ROME OF ONE’S OWN by Southon, written in brilliant feminist British snark. (and shows me that Fulvia and Clodia were very good friends, given how Fulvia treated Cicero once he was safely dead…and quiet!).

          1. fallingleavesofnovember*

            Oooh, that sounds fun, thank you! (And I know who these people are now Yay!)

      2. Lemonwhirl*

        During 2020-2022, I read so many pandemic narratives. At least 25. “In a Perfect World” was one of my favourites. Such a lovely story, well-written and human.

    16. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Finally found an ecopy of A SUITABLE BOY (I have the paperback and don’t dare read it in the bath. The toy I read it on in the bath is a Former Phone which had to be upgraded, so if I drop it not a huge loss). About 70% of the way through. I love the banyan tree imagery of everyone being Kind of Related To Each Other; it’s not totally unlike Dream of the Red Chamber that way.

    17. carcinization*

      Hahaha I have a “secret” library book right now (it wouldn’t be a problem, I just didn’t tell my husband that I went to the library this week) called Ink Blood Sister Scribe, by Törzs. It might be just a bit formulaic but I’m still enjoying it.

      1. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I LOVED that one. I didn’t find it formulaic, I thought it did some interesting things with long-standing fantasy conventions…

    18. Shiara*

      I just finished The Dark Lord’s Daughter by Patricia C Wrede. It was fun, quick YA read.

    19. the cat's pajamas*

      I’m reading The (Other) You by Joyce Carol Oates. It’s surreal and interesting. I picked it up from the library because it sounded interesting. This is the first JCO book I’ve read, might try another. What do others think of her work? Any recommendations? She’s written a LOT of books!

    20. CityMouse*

      I’m about 75% of the way through Everyone on this Train is a suspect and I actually like it better than the first one.

  6. 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 gotten back into Skyrim this week. Don’t know why but suddenly it’s The Thing. I’m trying to do new quests for the most part, marry someone new, etc. It’s been fun.

    1. Banana Pyjamas*

      Lol I always marry Ysolda, except one play though where I randomly married Jenassa.

      I’m finishing up with my vampire who dual wields Dawnbreaker. I just need to finish up Dawnguard and their arc will be done.

      I am planning a character, a punch cat who will be a true rogue. My last two punch cats went horrible. I haven’t found the mods I want for AeStHeTiC. I really want a good 16th C armor mod, but alas I can’t find one.

      My desire for pretty armor did lead to a fascination with cuir bouilli. I kinda wanna try to make my own now. Armor to be clear, not mods. Well maybe mods too.

      1. Jackalope*

        My first two play throughs I married Balimund. Not sure why I like him so much but he has a voice I really enjoy listening to. This time since I’m playing a Khajit and there are no possible Khajit spouses, I decided to marry an Argonian. So I’m now married to Shahvee. Still early in the game so we’re crammed tightly into Breezehome with Lucia, Sofie, and Lydia, but… young love, amirite?

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Are you playing anniversary edition? If so you should check out Goldenhills Plantation . It’s a free player home that you unlock with a small quest. If you assign a steward and plant the fields it’s an income producing farm. This home supports a family, though some report bugs with children not recognizing the home.

          1. Jackalope*

            Not yet, but our Switch has been nagging us to download it. We just got some more memory for said Switch because we didn’t have enough (especially with the Stardew Valley update ALSO coming soon), so sometime this week we should be able to get it.

    2. 653-CXK*

      I bought an Atari 50th Anniversary handheld game with many of the Atari 2600 games, plus some “off label” games. I’ve gotten into a game called Pow 2, which is really the 2048 game using the joypad. It’s $40 and available on Amazon.

    3. word nerd*

      I’ve been reading the Emily series by LM Montgomery for the first time and generally enjoying it except for the Dean character, who falls in love with her when she’s 12 and says creepy things to her while he waits for her to grow up. Ew!

      I’ve also been on a big children’s lit kick lately. Mrs. Frisby and the rats of NIMH has held up really well, but I’m finding Ella Enchanted so far not as good as my last read unfortunately. It makes me realize how much my mood/mindset affects my reads.

    4. beep beep*

      I finished Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies and boy was it a doozy (in a good way!). It may be a silly visual novel for the most part, but in my opinion it deserved that M rating.

      But on Tuesday, the new Stardew Valley expansion, 1.6, comes out, so that will be my life for a while, I expect.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        WOO HOO! I’ve known 1.6 is coming out but I didn’t realize it would be this soon!!! I’m very hyped.

    5. Warrior Princess Xena*

      Baldur’s Gate 3 has well and truly eaten my brain (appropriate, given one of the major conflicts in the game!). It’s my first time playing any sort of computer RPG and I’m unashamedly savescumming to avoid getting completely slaughtered on a daily basis.

    6. Pyanfar*

      I went to a drop-in game night and was introduced to Fluxx (a card game that has apparently been around for a while, but was new to me). Fun, fast, and easy to get a newbie playing right away!

      1. Peter*

        Fluxx has some great tie-in versions!

        I’ve got Monty Python and it’s hilarious (but for some reason everything is a lot cruder than on the screen!).

  7. Anonymous today*

    Looking for advice from from people who have experienced pet loss about supporting someone who has recently lost a pet:

    I’m going to be making a donation to a charity in memory of a dear friend’s beloved pet.

    My question: would being notified of this bring comfort to a bereaved pet owner? Or would it make them feel bad? Or would it be neutral? Or something else?

    Possibly relevant:

    – The charity is a top-of-mind issue for me and for my friend, but is irrelevant to the pet himself. (I’m confident in my choice of charity.)
    – I’m making the donation regardless to attend to my own emotional needs, it’s just a question of whether to have my friend notified or to keep it private.
    – Unfortunately, I’m not able to extrapolate from what I know of my friend to figure out how welcome this may or may not be, so I’m hoping there might be someone who has been through it who could provide insight

    1. Nicosloanica*

      This is an interesting one. I recently lost a pet and, although I think this is idiosyncratic, I was a bit put off by the people who messaged me randomly throughout the day. I found it jarring, like I wasn’t thinking about it, and then I’d get a text or an email that pulled me back into this sad thing. So, while I would appreciate the gesture I guess (not necessary but it’s always nice) I would rather someone bring it up when it comes up naturally in conversation, versus surprising me with it mid-day. However, it must depend on so many factors and vary widely between individuals.

      1. Googledit*

        When friends pets die and I’m close enough to them to want to do something, I usually give a donation to a clinic or somewhere that focuses on pet care. Here we have UC Davis, which has an amazing veterinary training program that subsidizes low income people with pets. I’ve also given to the Cornell school of veterinary medicine where our cats cardiologist trained. I find these donations, more meaningful them or random charity.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Super individual dependent. Personally when I have a loss, I don’t want anyone to bring it up or mention it to me at all, unless I mention it first. (I’m that annoying person telling my boss “Please tell whoever you need to that I’m out for a family death, but also please tell them that I absolutely don’t want anyone to ask me about it or wish me condolences or anything at all, AT ALL.”) If I were to start a conversation with you about my loss, then it wouldn’t bother me at all if you mentioned the donation and I’d probably find it heartwarming. But for you to be the one to bring my loss up unprompted, regardless of the reasoning, would bother me a lot.

      1. GermanGirl*

        I feel the same. If I’m in the mood to talk about it, I’d totally appreciate hearing about your donation, but when I’m not in the mood I need to not be reminded of it.

        That said, you could start with something like “how are you feeling”, but without mentioning the loss at all. This would give them an opening to talk about this, and then you could mention your donation, but it leaves enough room for them to just back out with “fine thanks” if they’re not in the mood.

    3. Manders*

      When my friend lost her Golden Retriever, I donated to the local Humane Society and listed it in honor of her pet’s name. I had them send a notification, and she and her husband were very touched by that. If it’s something similar, I say go for it. But if it’s totally unrelated to the pet (like donating to an unrelated human disease association or a homeless shelter, etc) I’m not sure they will necessarily appreciate it in terms of losing their pet.

    4. Not A Manager*

      I think it’s a lovely idea. Donating to a favored charity in honor of a friend’s loved one has a long tradition. If her loss was of a beloved pet, then I think she would appreciate the gesture in the pet’s memory.

    5. Cat and dog fosterer*

      Your friend will be grieving and reminding them rarely makes it worse (it doesn’t for me, and hasn’t for friends). I’m not saying it well, sorry. I think some people worry that bringing it up will remind their friend of sadness, yet that sadness is there anyway and having someone acknowledge that hurt and maybe mention how much they enjoyed my pet is nice for me.

      I sometimes have sick fosters that don’t make it, and in those situations I don’t want to talk about it. Yet I only tell a few select people when I have one of those fosters and tell them I don’t want to talk about it if it doesn’t go well.

      I would really appreciate it if you made a donation in a pet’s name, even if the charity is unrelated.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      I donated a pet bed in the memory of my dad’s wife’s late dachshund, Gretchen for Christmas and sent her a card letting her know. She was thrilled.

    7. Paulinaa*

      Personally I’d prefer that you keep the thing you are doing for your own emotional needs to yourself, and not force me to have to think about a painful experience yet again. I have my own ways of coping with grief and loss, and this would feel like being asked to deal with yours as well. I would resent that.

      But I’m sure there are plenty of people who would find it comforting, so without knowing your friend, it’s hard to say whether this would hurt them or help them. For me though, the fact that it could hurt would mean I’d keep my coping strategies to myself unless the friend directly asked.

    8. JSPA*

      For any loss, I either do it immediately, when they pain is encompassing, or else wait to do it (or to let them know) in a few weeks or months, when the pain has become less raw.

      I find that it’s during in-between period that having it brought up, in a moment when it’s not at the top of your thoughts, is most derailing.

      And/or let the notification come as snail mail from the charity, so it reaches them at a time that they have chosen to be comforable opening physical mail and dealing with random crud…as opposed to a call or text or email that’s staring them in the face when they expect it to be daily stuff.

      It may also help to phrase it (as you might with a person) as a “celebration of life” for the pet, and the life of the pet with the owner. (Or not; that may be something you can judge regarding your friend, whether or not you can judge the overall effect of being reminded.)

    9. Princess Peach*

      Some of these responses are incredibly harsh, so maybe it’s better not to say anything.
      After one of my pets died unexpectedly, I got a notification that a person I’m close to donated to a tree-planting organization in his name. I was very touched, and I still have the card.

      People can be assholes about grief for pets, so I appreciated any gesture that recognized it as a real loss. Obviously, that is not a universal sentiment though.

      1. Not A Manager*

        Yes, I’m shocked. What kind of world are we creating where a charitable donation can be interpreted as somehow thoughtless and selfish? Where someone would be angry that a friend attempted to express love and sympathy?

        1. ThatGirl*

          Same here. I understand that not everyone grieves the same way, but how is it thoughtless or selfish to try to do something kind??

          1. Cicely*

            Hard agree. I’m astounded by some of the responses here. OP, I think yours is a lovely idea.

          1. ThatGirl*

            There’s a big difference between “this would make me uncomfortable” and “this is clearly the act of a selfish person who only thinks about themselves.” The comments that got deleted were attacking a well meaning idea, not sharing some deep vulnerability.

    10. Anon attorney*

      I feel like you are making the donation for yourself (which is okay!) so I wouldn’t disclose at all.

      I think you need to ask yourself what your friend would get from knowing about this, and you’ll find your answer.

      You can always mention it in the future if you feel it’s appropriate and a good opportunity arises, but I wouldn’t do it unless that happens.

    11. Epsilon Delta*

      Wow, you got a lot of negativity on that question. I lost a dear pet two years ago and I would have been so touched if a friend made a donation in his name. I probably would have cried when they told me, but I was also on a hair trigger for crying in general for about 6 months. It would’ve been nice to cry about something that made me happy.

    12. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I removed a couple of comments on this post (and their replies), one of which was almost certainly trolling and the other of which led to an argument that I’m not up for moderating.

    13. MissCoco*

      Personally, I would greatly appreciate a friend telling me they made a donation in my pet’s honor along with an expression of condolences. For me, the exception would be if the death was especially traumatic (I am thinking of a specific pet I lost where it took me a few weeks to even want to share the news with friends because of how it happened).

      Everyone grieves pets very differently, and I do agree with others that I wouldn’t send a text like that in the middle of the workday or something in case it brings up sadness, but I always appreciate a kind comment or text after I lose a pet, and I feel a donation would be an even nicer gesture.

    14. LHH*

      I would be incredibly touched if a friend donated to a pet related charity in honor of my lost pet and would be very happy to know it. It’s nice to be thought of and know that someone cares enough to let you know.

      1. Clisby*

        I would, too. But a caution: I would not welcome every donation. If someone told me they had donated to an anti-abortion cause in the name of my pet, I would be wildly offended. I wouldn’t think many people would object to a pet-related charity, or even to another animal-related charity – there’s one here, Keepers of the Wild, dedicated to wildlife rehabilitation.

        1. Cat and dog fosterer*

          OP did specifically mention the charity means a lot to their friend, so even if it’s wildly unrelated to pets I think it doesn’t matter.

    15. eeeek*

      I’m sorry you have to navigate this uncertain space. I hope you can trust that your care and good wishes for your friend will carry you through, no matter what choice you make.
      I have lost many pets over the years, and have always been touched by thoughtful responses – donations to the university’s vet school by our vet, donations to the rescue organization that saved my cat from a hoarding situation. All of these were welcome, and helped remind me that even in my grief, the need carries on. Bittersweet, but loving gestures.
      I never experienced any of these as friends attending to their own emotional needs. Indeed, that would never cross my mind – though the notifications were all framed as “Thinking of you.” If I had gotten something like “*I* was *SO* distraught about *YOUR LOSS* that reminded me of my DEAR DEPARTED FIFI and how she used to . *I* cannot CARRY ON with the memory of my OWN grief! ALAS!!” I might have experienced it differently! So I would say, monitor your message. Keep it short, kind, and focused on them. If you make it about your emotional needs, don’t send it.

    16. EventingForChickens*

      My friend did this for me over the summer when my girl died. She donated to our local reputable pet trust but what was nice was she didn’t message me specifically (wouldn’t have helped) but the organization sent me a letter of so-and-so has donated on your behalf that I received a week or two later when the open wound in my heart had started to scab over and I was better able to appreciate the gesture.

    17. NerdBoss*

      If it’s an option, I think making the donation and sending them a sympathy card in the mail would be ideal. Someone mentioned upthread that the random messages throughout the day can be jarring but this way they can open it on their own time (plus they will be at home so it’s more private than, say, a random text while grocery shopping or at work)

  8. Nicosloanica*

    I’m trying to understand something from the perspective of an “average” reader: how upset would you be if you found out a book you enjoyed had been written, either all or in part, by AI? Would you pick up a book if you knew? Would it make any difference if you were looking for a satisfying genre book that played to the genre exactly – nothing that broke the mold?

    1. Meh*

      I don’t know if it is true or urban legend that Belgariad series was written overtly formulaic by the author – to the point where I could see that being done by AI if it were now.

      Literary brain-candy I don’t care if it is AI gen, because I expect little from it. But I would be upset to have it considered LITERATURE per se.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s not like “assembly line” books are a new thing–everything from Nancy Drew to Sweet Valley High have been generated by ghostwriters, and Collette started out writing for her husband’s “factory;” she’s one of the premiere writers in the history of French literature, so it’s not like it’s the worst way to begin a career (although I wouldn’t recommend her path since her spouse locked her in her room all day so she’d produce.)

        But at least those were people. They followed the guidelines for the story, but it wasn’t some program simply spewing pap.

      2. fallingleavesofnovember*

        Wow, The Belgariad, that’s a blast from the past! I can’t remember any plot points or characters but I vaguely remembering enjoying those as an avid fantasy-loving teen.

    2. nnn*

      If I wanted to read an AI-generated book, I’d generate one myself.

      As it is, the number of human-written books I want to read almost certainly exceeds my life expectancy, so I wouldn’t want to waste my time on an AI book. In real life, enough of my time is wasted by AI writing (when I’m researching things online, trying to learn home repairs, dealing with my employer’s freelancers who submit subpar AI-generated work and it takes me longer to write up why it’s unacceptable than to redo it myself) that I don’t want it intruding on my recreational reading.

      I would feel cheated and betrayed if someone attempted to pass it off as a story that another human being thought of and wants to share with the world.

      1. Maggie*

        Oh good point! The amount of human generated books I want to read is like 100000x the average life expectancy! Why would I ever read AI?!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree! To quote Francoise Sagan: “The one thing I regret is that I will never have enough time to read all the books I want to read.”

      2. Nicosloanica*

        What if a human wrote part and the AI wrote part, or the AI generated the ideas/story beats but the human did a lot of editing – would that change your opinion at all? (anyone is free to weigh in).

        1. Dark Macadamia*

          If I knew beforehand that a book had been written even partly by AI I would not read it. I don’t care how a machine combines words, that’s not the point of art.

          Also having a computer do the “ideas” and a human do the corrections is the worst possible combo if you HAD to use AI lol.

        2. nnn*

          Why would someone write a book if they don’t have ideas or story beats?? Do they know they’re allowed to just…not write a book?

          My visceral emotional reaction would be to feel like they’re just trying to extract wealth from me – almost as if they’re stealing from my all-too-limited budget of time and attention (and money, although I tend to read from the library. Although if they’re in the library, then I’d feel like they’re stealing from my city’s all-to-limited library budget.)

          If they’re published through a publisher, then they’re stealing finite publishing resources that could be used to make available stories from people who actually have stories to tell.

          They’d just be in the way. And too much of my life is already spent trying to work around AI-generated content that’s getting in the way.

          1. Nicosloanica*

            I’m pretty sure such books are mostly in the domain of self-published on Amazon, but I’m not sure!

          2. Nicosloanica*

            and as to the “why” … my sense from listening in on some conversations around this, is a) neurodivergence but they still want to get their ideas out (so, they have an idea for a pirate romance they’re excited about, but have barriers to writing, so they focus on prompting the AI to write the scenes “to get them started” and then edit, to varying degrees. One person stated they have great ideas but can’t spell / grammar confounds them too much and they need someone else to get them started right, for example. Certainly there’s no shortage of people who “have a great idea for a book!” – and maybe they’re right? B) they are typically self-publishing long series in short time frames and consider the AI to be just a tool not so different from anything else. Many writers hearken back to the line attributed to Dorothy Parker, “I hate writing, I love having written” (I guess it’s not clear that she ever actually said this, but I suppose all that matters is that AI thinks it’s the kind of thing someone like her would have said, haha) or talk about the tyranny of the blank page; this is a way to get over that hump and then your own creativity kicks in and you edit what’s there, again to greater or lesser degree. Right now, you’d have to edit a lot to get AI to write your whole book for you, but presumably you can train it as you go and it will get better, but the human is still “shaping” it. Personally, I’m not enthusiastic, but I realize I’m biased which is why I want to get the pulse of people who are readers first, and not those who are trying to make a living from fiction, which is mostly who I’ve been hearing from.

            1. Dark Macadamia*

              Also, if someone has a great idea but struggles to get started why not commission a ghost writer or otherwise pay a professional to help with planning/getting started?

      3. Hrodvitnir*

        What you said, to the word.

        If “AI” books have to exist, it had better be abudantly clear. (Also if it were actually AI in traditional sense rather than spicy autocorrect, that would be a different story, haha.)

      4. Spacewoman Spiff*

        Exactly this. Google has become basically unusable in part, I think, because every website is just either regurgitating the same copy or AI-written copy to the extent that it’s near-impossible to find a reputable source. Why on EARTH would I want to spend my free time reading poorly-written robot books, when I have so many by humans I’ll never get to?

        (Also, speaking as a writer: I think AI can write better than some huge percentage of people and this is why many people think AIs can write novels–because it can do better than they, personally, can. But it can’t write better than the best writers, even when they’re working in formulaic genres, because the best language and story don’t follow the types of predictable patterns the AI can follow.)

      5. fallingleavesofnovember*

        This was my thought exactly! I’m never getting to the end of my to-read list, never mind all the books I want to re-read!

    3. Jay*

      Depends on the book.
      If it’s a dumb, mindless, “I’m tired, board, miserable, and brain dead” read, I wouldn’t mind at all.
      If it’s something I respect and look forward to, I would be upset.

    4. Esprit de l'escalier*

      If it’s fiction, I don’t see what difference it would make to my enjoyment of the book — either the story works for me or it doesn’t, just as with human authors.

      But I would absolutely not want to buy or read a non-fiction work produced by AI as it is notoriously not factually reliable, and it would have (in my opinion) stolen its material from human authors who should get both the credit and the payment for their work.

    5. David*

      Personally, I wouldn’t care about the fact itself that a book was partially or entirely written by AI. For me, a book is words (and maybe pictures) on a page, and the effect that those words have in my mind. How those words came to be on the page, in that arrangement, doesn’t really affect my enjoyment of it.

      What *would* bother me is:

      – If the contribution of AI to creating the book is not disclosed or is misrepresented – basically, plagiarism. I mean, I might still have enjoyed reading it, but I’d want to distance myself from it as my contribution to discouraging plagiarism.
      – Or if the book is bad. Which I guess is supposed to not be the case because, in this hypothetical scenario, I already read and enjoyed the book? The thing is, I don’t think AI models have developed enough yet to write good full-length books on their own. Perhaps if it’s a human-curated work that incorporates AI output, that could be enjoyable if the curators did a good job. I’d be fine with that (as long as it’s disclosed).
      – Or if the book is (presented as) non-fiction but it has significant, material factual errors. Of course this can happen with human-written books as well, and I would also be bothered by that, but since generative AI models make things up and evidently are not very good at ensuring the things they make up are true, I think it’s worth being extra cautious about this when AI is involved.

      I will say, though, I’m not sure I’m an “average” reader, since from what I hear the “average” reader gets through like a quarter of a book per year :-p and I’ve already finished like five since January. So take this with a grain of salt.

    6. Dark Macadamia*

      I think I’d be upset in the same way that I am when I find out an author has terrible personal views or plagiarized their work… the story might still be good but I would no longer feel good about liking it and would not buy more of that person’s work, praise it openly, etc.

    7. Quandong*

      I wouldn’t read a book I knew had been written in part or in full by AI, no matter the genre. And I’d be irritated if I found out after reading a book that it was generated by AI and not clearly labelled as such.

    8. strawberry lemonade*

      I’d probably feel a bit crabby about it. For example, my coworker recently made a joke by generating a cheesy rap—it was awful, but I was impressed he’d made it at all and gone to the effort. When he mentioned he’d generated it, it was kind of just awful.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        I recall an old piece by Dave Barry of human anagrams vs computer-generated anagrams. (Before AI.) Sometimes the fact that it was generated by a human underlies a lot of the appeal, and sometimes you just want a bunch of anagrams of This Is The Villain.

        Which I guess is something that has come up in this thread–the distinction between using something as a starting point for something else, where that inspiration can come from a lot of places, vs using the robot to generate the final product, where for many of us that’s unsatisfying.

        Like if you have an online friend whom you bond with, most people would be devastated to learn that was just an AI. That the engagement is with a human, who has the freedom to not engage with you but chooses to do so because you are YOU, is a lot of the appeal of that invisible conversation partner.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Another example: I recall an old Wait Wait episode in which the caller playing the game by phone explained that he was typing each question into google as it was read, and then he was able to give the real answer by looking it up online!

          This was profoundly unsatisfying.

    9. Forensic13*

      I want to be a published author, so I’m definitely not “the average reader,” but I personally would hate it. Because that’s another book clogging up the landscape for real people who could use the money and then maybe concentrate on another, more artistic book. So even if it was just a “fun dumb read,” I’d be bummed that some creative person didn’t get a chance to make it.

      1. Maggie*

        And “fun dumb” reads are funny because an actual person experienced life and used their experiences to write something fun and light. If it’s just a computer what’s the point? There’s no connection, no feeling, and the book has no soul. I’m honestly shocked people are saying they’d read a book by AI.

      2. Nicosloanica*

        Yes, most of my friends are writers so our feelings are pretty conflicted, but I was curious to see how readers feel, and I know a lot of commenters here are big readers. I wondered if there would be a different answer from super-readers within a tight genre (like, book a week, but they’re shorter/more similar) versus people who read fewer books that skew more literary.

        1. JR 17*

          I read a lot of romance novels – just like you said, 1-2 per week, they’re easy reading, and they tend to blur together (except the great ones). I prefer ones that are well-written and have character development and insights about life, but most don’t, even most good ones. Most are just fun and entertaining, and at best make you feel something, and when they’re done they’re done. And I don’t think I’d feel that weird an AI generated romance novel, so long as it were well-written – and most AI isn’t yet, but I assume we’ll get there soon.

    10. Maggie*

      I would be unhappy about that, and questioning my own sanity that I couldn’t detect it. And I would never knowingly purchase a book created all or in part by AI. I could just go write it myself at that point.

    11. AcademiaNut*

      It depends a bit on what you mean by AI.

      Written by Chat-GPT: at this point, programs like this are a long way from being able to produce a readable novel-length work, so I wouldn’t make it past the sample chapters. If it did progress to that point, I would have serious issues with the ethics of how the books are generated – they’re using copyrighted works by living authors to generate material that could potentially supplant living authors.

      Using a grammar checker, or Google translate to produce bits of foreign language are also forms of AI, and are commonly used.

      There’s plenty of mediocre generic genre books being written by living authors, particularly in fields I read, so there’s no lack of books. I suspect that in time, people will use AI to generate custom books that are tailored to their exact needs – “Give me a 200 page book with a moderate reading level that combines space opera with a murder mystery and a m/m enemies to lovers romance, and has giant robots and dinosaurs.”

      1. ThatGirl*

        And they will be terrible, because so called AI doesn’t have any real intelligence, sense of plot or ability to write characters.

        1. Katie A*

          Neither do some fanfic writers (and non-fanfic writers tbh), but if someone really likes a certain character or style of story, they may not care about the quality.

    12. Pam Adams*

      I would refuse. Humans create stories. I don’t need a story regurgitated by AI. particularly since the original creators of the work underlying AI weren’t compensated.

    13. Jessica*

      I would not read such a book if I knew. If I found out afterward I’d be horrified on more levels than I have the energy to enumerate.

    14. RagingADHD*

      I’d feel pretty crappy that I’d been fooled into an economy of stolen training data from unwilling “contributors” who didn’t consent for their work to make money for someone else.

    15. I do not welcome our new robot overlords*

      Would not read and would be annoyed if I found out later that AI had generated the book. I have 25 years of professional writing and editing experience and am annoyed that I will probably be out of a job in the near future because of generative AI, so maybe I’m just bitter.

      I have a huge problem with outsourcing “creativity” to robots. Where are the robots that legitimately make my life easier or better? Where’s Rosie from the Jetsons? Where’s a robot that will do my taxes and renew my passport and research and book summer camps for my kid?

      1. Jackalope*

        This reflects my feelings as well. I’m not a professional author, but I’ve heard many discussions about this from those who are, and I don’t think we should be trying to outsource creative endeavors, both because it is morally wrong to the people who create and because robots just aren’t good at creativity. Like you said, if we’re going to outsource something to robots, let it be grunt work that humans don’t want to do.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Humans will bullshit in a way that sounds vaguely plausible so long as you know nothing about the topic for free; I don’t understand why this was the one job we decided to outsource to robots.

      2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

        I saw a post on Bluesky that summed up my feelings on this: “I thought AI was going to do tedious things for creative people, not creative things for tedious people”

    16. Still*

      Well, I would want to know what the AI has been trained on? Presumably only books in the public domain…?

      1. Gracie*

        Based on the number of AI-generated fictional works that incorporate concepts that can ONLY be found in the last decade or two (for example, omegaverse erotica with very specific terminology, which didn’t exist until 2010 Supernatural fandom created it) – no, AI has been trained extensively on modern works

        1. Still*

          In which case I think it’s unethical and unfair to the original authors who very likely never agreed for their work to be used in this way. (… was the point I was implying.)

    17. Vanc Vix*

      I’d be furious, pissed, upset and hurt. And I’d want my money back.

      If you try to pass off your AI schlock as anything else, without clearly identifying it as such, I consider that fraudulent behavior.

      I’d never knowingly choose to read such a “work”. There are so many books out there that authors have put their time, effort, creativity and hope into that I can be reading. I will never have enough time to read all of them. Why would I give my time, effort and money to something that has stolen their work and produced a mindless derivative shadow of it?

    18. JSPA*

      If I want to read something formulaic that doesn’t break any molds, I’ll re-read an old book or pick up used books for a dime, not splash out on something new. And I judge harshly any book that relies heavily on tropes, incorporates anachronisms carelessly, or steals look-and-feel, vocabulary, characters and plots.

      That’s all a hard no, whether humans or AI’s are doing the thieving.

      In contrast, I have nothing against using AI to generate sections of a book where an AI “character” is speaking (as has recently been done). IMO, “ask a native speaker” / “ask someone from the community” is good practice, even when that means, “ask a non-human.”

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        And I judge harshly any book that relies heavily on tropes, incorporates anachronisms carelessly, or steals look-and-feel, vocabulary, characters and plots.

        You’ve made me think of something else. In my opinion, tropes and genre formula stuff need more thought, not less. Otherwise, it becomes cliched, predictable and unrealistic. If you want, for example, the scene where the villain kisses the heroine and her boyfriend sees them and thinks she is consenting and storms off, you need to a) create a hero who would react in that way, rather than confronting them or any other possible reaction, b) develop relations between the three characters so that it is believeable that he would think it consensual (mostly, if you see somebody you hate and that your girlfriend hates kissing her, your thought is likely to be sexual assault, not cheating) and c) create a villain who is likely to do that. Similarly, if you are writing a detective story where the detective keeps everything to him or herself until they reveal all at the end, you need to make it convincing for them to do so or they look like an idiot (why didn’t they just tell their colleagues who could have helped) or like they just trying to hog all the glory for themselves.

        AI may be able to replicate the tropes, but it is likely to do so in a way that gets the tropes bad names and makes them seem cliched and like inherently bad writing because there is no logic to them. The characters behave that way “because it’s the trope” even though it is completely out of character for them to do so and a ridiculously stupid response that a child could see was a bad idea.

        1. kt*

          Yeah, to riff on your comment, I *love* books that have a trope and give it a great big twist! I love an author who says, “Let’s find the tropiest-trope-trope & see what fun I can have with it.” And AI can’t do that. Because the fun part is the subversion of the trope, it’s the, “I can’t believe she picked that trope how is she going to make this happen” anticipation.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          This is SUCH a good point. Genre fiction, due to its sheer popularity and resulting bulk production, is one of the harder areas to write really well in! One of my favorite authors currently is Robin Bailes, who has written five novels so far that he’s based on Universal movie monsters (he also coproduces the fantastic site Dark Corners on YouTube if anyone wants to check it out.)

          One reason I like his stuff is that he cares about creating real people reacting to a series of situations that should seem silly or overly familiar–he’s not generating slop out of an algorithm prompt, he’s writing books.

        3. Girasol*

          Yes! I’m not a fan of formulaic novels where human authors take popular standard plots and characters and vary them just enough to sell yet another paperback. I imagine AI fiction being that only more so: a perfectly average hero saves a very generic heroine in a scene that reminds me of a dozen other stories. That’s what AI does, doesn’t it: munges together a lot of human-provided information into something that’s very generic? I want a human author to provide fresh insight into people, life, and the human quandary. (With that in mind I enjoyed Lawn Boy this week, which I picked up even though it’s YA fiction, because I wanted to see why it was banned in some US schools.)

    19. Morning Reading*

      Does this “average” reader exist? I occasionally did “readers advisory” and it seems to me that individual reading tastes are… highly individual.
      A reader who consumes lots of formulaic genre fiction might be satisfied with an AI book or two.
      As for me, I doubt I would enjoy any such book so your premise seems inconceivable. Many years ago I felt compelled to finish any book I picked up. Now, being old, life is too short to spend time reading a bad/boring/formulaic book. It would go in the reject pile.
      On the other hand, tv series? I might easily be taken in by AI written tv programming. Especially detective or romance type shows. The type of thing you have on in the background while you’re doing something else. Last 15 minutes is a chase scene or shoot-em-up and the plot doesn’t seem particularly relevant as it is.

      1. Nicosloanica*

        Woof, you’re so right, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear they’re already using AI to write a good number of genre tv shows. Something to think about …

        1. JSPA*

          That’s much of what the Hollywood writer’s strike was about! Supposedly it ended up instituting a lot of guardrails against this. There’s a piece in the Guardian from just after the end of the strike, titled “How Hollywood writers triumphed over AI – and why it matters.” I’m including the title rather than a link so that it doesn’t pop into moderation.

        2. Elastigirl*

          Nope. I’m happy to say this is not happening. I spent many months on the picket line last year to keep it from happening, and we were successful in making sure that generative AI cannot write for film or TV.

    20. Irish Teacher.*

      I wouldn’t care if it were written by AI if I had enjoyed it, but there is no way I would pick up a book written by AI, because having done some short stories on ChatGPT while teaching Digital Media Literacy (showing them what ChatGPT could do and the limits of it), the stories often make little sense.

      If the AI generated it and a human edited it, honestly, as AI is at the moment, that would probably involve a complete rewrite, just taking the basic idea and rewriting whole chapters. And even then, the book would have to sound really good, because I don’t tend to enjoy stories that play completely to their genre. Well, I guess I do like detective stories that are fairly traditional, but those require a whole lot of embedding clues and so on that I doubt an AI could do it without an awful lot of extensive editing. I would be very surprised if an AI could write a book where the ending is not something you predicted but when you read it, you kick yourself because “it was so obvious!!” I suspect the level of subtlety required there would be beyond AI.

      And I find that a lot of the books that claim to play to the other genres I like exactly…don’t. They pretend to be those genres, then either end up as romances – “and then the main character falls in love and forgets all about the issue I was enjoying reading about” – or else they come up with some other really trite solution or villainise a particular character to the point that their motivations don’t make sense.

      Now, I wouldn’t mind if somebody typed “suggest ideas for plots” into AI and then looked through them until they found one that inspired them and worked from there. That could be an interesting way of dealing with writer’s block, but I very much doubt AI could develop intricate characters with depth and those are what make most books.

      1. JSPA*

        Some of the image generation is
        evocative enough that I think it could be used to get around writer’s block, Or to serve as a visual prompt. But I’ve known writers to use tarot cards, or spin the globe, or pick an encyclopedia page and sentence blindfolded, to do that. I’d say that’s comparable, and fine.

    21. Falling Diphthong*

      I would not pick up a book if I knew.

      I’ve occasionally clicked on a story on my phone (which I mostly use to look up stuff about shows I’m watching, so it’s entertainment themed) that was sufficiently “some words strung together about movies, they are a thing with pictures, moves, cat delightful, a new Netflix movie is this” that I figured were AI and I now pause to see if I recognize the name of the publication. Scraping the web to string together some sentences that may or may not be true is not actually helpful when I want to know when the next Only Murders comes out, or if there are any good caper movies new to the streaming services.

      Even though I read within genres, the whole point of enjoying a new book is that the author is doing something unique within it. Hardboiled noir detective stories, for example, already exist, and so it would be weird to make up some new extremely generic ones, best described as “this generic story technically hits the expected points for the genre.”

      Adding, a major issue with AI currently is that the product isn’t actually good. I feel like we go down these weird paths of:
      Fan: “Isn’t it wild that a computer could write this?!”
      Me: “Sure. But it’s not a good story.”
      Fan: “It used a weird adjective here! That’s so poignant. Creativity at its essence is weird adjectives.”
      Me: “…?”

    22. Falling Diphthong*

      My review of the movie Rebel Moon was that it was profoundly, almost aggressively, generic. Like if it had leaned just a little harder into it, it would have become satire.

      This was not a positive review, and I don’t expect to watch anything else in that series.

    23. Maryn*

      I have a serious ethical issue with AI-generated material.

      You know how they do it? By “scraping” books written by humans, without their knowledge or permission. Essentially, they’ve stolen hundreds of thousands of books’ copyrighted content, without penalty, and mix ’em up to create that novel that hit the genre’s required plot points.

      (AI cover art works the same way.)

      So no, I would not even consider reading an AI-generated book.

      1. Katie A*

        They don’t steal them, though. No one loses anything. It’s plagiarism or copying at worst.

        Which can still be bad, but it isn’t theft, just like other acts of plagiarism or copying. I don’t think it’s reasonable to act like compiling ideas from a bunch of people and then spitting out a poorly written mashup is something that rises to the level of something that needs a penalty other than disapproval and, hopefully, failure so that better content succeeds.

        1. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

          Copying someone else’s work and passing it off as your own, for your own gain, is theft, aka plagiarism. You don’t seem to know what stealing and theft are, so maybe you’re not suited to say what is and isn’t theft.

        2. RagingADHD*

          It is creating a derivative work with someone else’s intellectual property.

          Here’s an analogy: from time to time, large corporations will scrape designs, such as garment or knitting patterns, from indie designers. They then replicate and mass produce those garments without a license agreement or paying royalties to the original designer. This is illegal.

          The indie designer still has their original pattern. But they lost a lot – they lost the income they were rightfully owed from the popularity and mass distribution of their work.

          Intellectual property is valuable.

        3. Pippa K*

          Yikes. Maybe consider that it’s called “intellectual property” because it’s…property.

    24. Donkey Hotey*

      If it was a book I was considering: wouldn’t read it.
      If it was a book I’d already read: I’d be angry twice over: once because of the deception on the author’s part and once because I usually have a better nose for written-by-AI garbage.

    25. Katie A*

      Given an experience I had recently with a piece of art on Etsy, I would likely be some combination of annoyed, confused, impressed, and/or surprised, depending on how AI was involved.

      Recently I got a notification on Etsy that an artist I like added a new piece of art to their shop. When I checked, I really liked it and considered buying it.

      But then there was a thing in the sidebar saying that it used AI generation with direction and alteration by a human. I didn’t really like the art less, but it also really turned me off from buying it, which is disappointing. It’s unclear to me how much AI was involved, and I didn’t feel like asking. If it was mainly generated by AI and just tweaked, I wouldn’t want it because already have a lot of art. If it was the result of someone putting silly ideas into AI and getting inspired by one of the results to create their own piece, I might buy it.

      If it was just inspiration, though, I’d wonder why they bothered saying the AI thing at all, since artists don’t really say “I saw something and it gave me an idea” about other things, nor do they need to.

    26. kt*

      I’m writing a paper right now (technical subject) and experimenting with AI — not to write the paper, as I’m writing on something new that can’t be well-discussed by remixing old concepts, in essence, but to explore what it can/can’t do and accelerate some coding. But I will be discussing explicitly this use of large-language models and what I learned from it in the paper. And that’s what I’d sort of want from the book. I’d enjoy it if it was well-done, acknowledged the AI/LLM up front as a co-author, and actually used the concept or played with it — as a universal (English-language internet-informed) consciousness, or as a robot voice, or something.

      What LLMs generate at this time I find somewhat vapid & lacking in emotional punch in most cases, so I don’t see the point of reading it for fun. If an author co-created and used the properties of LLM as a feature, not a bug, I might be interested.

      Genre — I read a fair bit of romance and I have to say I get bored easily, so again, despite relishing the genre, I’m looking for something with an emotional punch or insightful observations on people or a clever concept. I want the inside jokes or societal insight of Alyssa Cole or the crisp writing of the best of Eloisa James or the developmental arc of a Courtney Milan heroine, and at this time LLMs aren’t producing work verbally sharp enough and they don’t have the token length/memory to create a good arc. They occasionally are super societally insightful, sorta, as in when ChatGPT tried to parse the sentences, “In the sentence, ‘The paralegal and the attorney got married because she got pregnant,’ which one was pregnant?” (Kathryn Tewson had a great thread following this through on X, in which she pitted boxer against priest, Navy SEAL against boxer, so on to figure out which ChatGPT figured was pregnant.)

    27. Chaordic One*

      I’d be kind of upset if I found that I actually enjoyed a book written by AI. I know that we all like to think that we’re smart enough to detect if something had been written by an actual person or by a machine, but that isn’t always the case. If I found I actually enjoyed a book written by AI it would bother me because it would make me feel like I wasn’t smart enough to detect the difference.

      OTOH, I also suppose that I’m showing my resistance to change. I imagine that I’m behaving like those characters on Star Trek who didn’t like Data (the android) because he wasn’t an actual living creature.

    28. goddessoftransitory*

      If I knew? Maybe out of curiosity, but I can’t see investing in an AI book.

      If I found out a book was AI generated after reading it? Honestly would feel really anxious if I had enjoyed it, like I’d been tricked.

    29. Hrodvitnir*

      OK, so I think nnn’s comment is immaculate for the current state of AI.

      As a broader hypothetical: I am not OK with this software being sold a product that only functions due to wholesale uptake of human work without consent. I am not OK with generative AI being the main “writer” and it not being disclosed. And even if refined to a point where it could write something enjoyable, I am not interested in supporting algorith-generated stories over stories made by actual people.

      However, in a hypothetical reality with universal income and genuinely reliable, accessible public services (lolsob), I don’t have a big problem with any tools that replace a current job – the problem is in reality what’s happening is people are losing jobs that they need to live to algorithms that suck.

      I also think using a software tool to improve or help with your art is fine, but again not when it’s reliant on stealing others’ work, and I just am not that interested in reading stories that weren’t crafted by a human* brain. If the AI is writing it for you, well, you do you but it’s not for me. Just having ideas does not a story make.

      *Or human-like! I’m actually so into the idea of true artificial intelligence, but that does seem unlikely: which is probably good given how humans roll.

    30. Elastigirl*

      Human stories need human writers.

      When you read something assembled by AI, you are trafficking in stolen material. Generative AI relies on material that is “scraped” from millions of samples — and “scraped” here is a euphemism for *stolen*.

      The writers who actually wrote the material AI is “scraping” receive no compensation for the use of their work when it’s sucked into a large language model for reprocessing and reassembly by AI. The writers receive no credit for their work. They do not have the opportunity to consent to this (mis)use of their work. It is simply taken from them.

      Writing and art are profoundly human endeavors. They require skills that are hard to learn, as well as an investment of the artist’s soul. Already, artists and writers are seeing their ability to earn a living (or even to have an uplifting side gig) destroyed by the worse-than-mediocre, waste-of-time, soulless, mindless crap spewed out by generative AI.

      No consent from artists.
      No compensation to artists.
      No credit for artists.
      Is that the world you want to help create?

      Please, please, say no to all AI-generated writing and art. The companies that make their money from the labor of artists would be more than delighted to eliminate the pesky human element from their equations. Please don’t encourage them to do so. You won’t be happy with the writing and art you have available to enjoy in the future if you do.

      Human stories need human writers.

      1. Jasmine*

        I am definitely non professional so maybe I just don’t understand but a I really don’t think AI is intelligent. For the reasons you have mentioned in your comment!

    31. NotThereYet*

      We’re really far away from AI being able to do this in a way that would fool a knowledgable reader, but I might be willing to read out of curiosity. I would not be willing to pay for it.

    32. Elizabeth West*

      I would be upset if I spent money on a book that turned out to be AI even if I enjoyed it, because I know how exploitive it is. It scrapes other people’s art to arrive at its end result and it’s undermining creative work.

      None of my stuff is AI-generated. I don’t even use it for covers. My covers may not be perfect but I did all the work to put them together myself.

    33. Can’t Sit Still*

      I have, or had, an auto buy author whose last book was almost certainly AI. Was this author formulaic AND prolific? Yes. Did I care? Not at all. The plots were bonkers but fun, very reliable entertainment. The grammar and spelling were atrocious, but the plot and characters were always internally consistent.

      The last book? Grammar and spelling were near perfect, but the plot made no sense whatsoever and characterization was bizarre. It was AI gibberish. I also noticed that this author has started using AI for audio books. I might try one more book, just to be certain, but I’m fairly certain I’m done.

      These books are/were the equivalent of a fast food burger, not terribly nutritious, but still food, whereas AI books are like biting into that burger and discovering it’s actually burger scented wax.

      1. nnn*

        >These books are/were the equivalent of a fast food burger, not terribly nutritious, but still food, whereas AI books are like biting into that burger and discovering it’s actually burger scented wax.

        Fantastic analogy!

    34. Red22*

      I will never voluntarily read a book even partly written by AI. I refuse to read self published books at this point because there’s no way to know for sure that AI wasn’t involved. It doesn’t matter what genre it’s in, or whether it seems like it’s the kind of story it would like, if AI is involved, I reject. And if I found out that a publisher had published something even partly AI generated without making that clear, even if a human had ‘corrected’ everything, I would never buy another book from them again, which is part of why I don’t buy books from Amazon. Selling an AI generated book as though it was written by a human is a betrayal of trust that I would not forgive.

      1. anonymous reader*

        I possibly had this experience recently… I have read Cory Doctorow’s nonfiction essays and blog posts etc and finally got around to trying out his fiction. I started with Walkway, which was cringey and awful, and I could not bring myself to finish it. I was surprised it was so terrible given how respected he his, and how many people I know like his work. I tried one more book of his, For The Win.
        It still had some weaknesses, but was much better and more coherent. At first I thought maybe Walkaway was an older book, but then I checked and it’s more recent…. I strongly suspect it’s at least partly AI generated.

        1. Lore*

          I feel like for this particular author, using AI undisclosed would be a total betrayal of his reputation and his fan base.

    35. Tiny Clay Insects*

      I’m not an average reader (I have a book coming out this summer), but I need to say that I’d be furious. AI programs are basically built on plagiarism. The samples used to train them were not submitted with approval. To use AI to produce stories is to say you’re okay with that. I’d be appalled. I also just don’t care what an AI generates as a story. Why would I want to read that?

    36. anon_sighing*

      If I found out after the fact, I think if the book had any emotional resonance, it would feel cheaper (I dunno, think of the AI boyfriend/girlfriend scenario – the feelings you feel might be real, but they lack the depth of a real human connection…it’s been YEARS since I watched it but Lars and the Real Girl might be a more concrete parallel). I probably wouldn’t read it again and blacklist the publisher in my mind.

      I wouldn’t pick it up before the fact though. If I wanted a cookie cutter, paint-by-numbers, assembly line (usually brain candy) book, I would pick one up that was written by a human. I’d rather give a person some part of my money than allow a company to just pocket low effort material.

  9. Sunflower*

    Plant people…I have zero experience with plants and am trying to decide if I should get real or fake ones for apartment decor(my space is ~600 sq ft). Fake feels like the right choice for me as I don’t have much actual interest in taking care of plants and I also worry about attracting bugs with them…but are they noticeably faker looking or am I missing any benefits of real plants over fake? Look wise, I love the look of Monsterra and palm plants (love large leaves) and would prefer more floor ones over table or hanging. I didn’t realize how pricey plants are so I want to make sure I make the right choice before I get to buying. Any and all advice welcome on types to look for as well!

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      If you are willing to spend decent money on them, some fake plants look very real. The only real maintenance is dusting them.

      In some ways, fake plants are like vampires. They never die and they never get older, so what you bring home is what you will have more or less forever. In a small apartment, that predictability is a very good thing.

      Also, if you don’t have decent light, a lot of house plants just will not do well. My apartment is on the north side of the building and pretty much nothing grows in it without supplemental (and expensive!) lighting.

      1. Sunflower*

        Worth noting I get amazing natural light in most of my apartment so that wont be a problem!

        1. tuesday*

          I don’t know about the big decorative plants, but if I had amazing light (I don’t) I’d at least have a couple of small pots of basil and rosemary and oregano.

        2. mreasy*

          Then I would recommend getting real plants! Most are pretty simple to take care of, and they’re such a joy even for those of us without a green thumb. I’d ask your local plant shop – but a lot of the ficus types are very low care and not as expensive as other bigger plants. I’d avoid fiddle leaf figs simply due to my personal flf related trauma. Bamboo (NOT ponytail lol) can be giant and gorgeous and easy to care for. Also the classics like spider plant and snake plant grow fast and are easy if they have sun. Honestly the fact that you have sunny windows will make plants easier, depending on their facings.

        3. Clisby*

          The 2 easiest inside plants I’ve had are orchids and pothos. Both require sunlight, of course, but orchids, particularly, seem to thrive on neglect. I say this as someone whose thumb is definitely not green.

          If there’s a Trader Joe’s near you, they usually have really nice cheap orchids, so it wouldn’t cost that much to experiment.

          1. ElastiGirl*

            Yes to orchids. I once rented a place that had an orchid in a little niche in the bathroom. I thought it was fake. 4 years later, a leaf fell off and I realized it was real. I hadn’t watered it for 4 years (I guess it got enough moisture from the shower). Unkillable.

              1. Clisby*

                I did, too. But apparently one thing newbies-with-orchids get wrong is that they do NOT need a lot of water – overwatering them is asking for failure. Unlike pothos.

    2. Vanessa*

      My local Facebook houseplant group is a great resource for less expensive plants. Sometimes people are moving or they over propagated.
      I think it’s worth having a couple real plants. They support air quality and they are fun to get better at (like a very slow video game).
      I recommend a spider plant to start. They are hearty, good oxygenates and nice looking.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        I love the “very slow video game” analogy! That is so true.

        Also, I have a very slow-growing spider plant (two babies! We have two babies!) and a Dieffenbachia that just won’t die.

        1. Vanessa*

          I just learned to propagate monsteras. I feel amazing.
          The drawback is that the better I get at this the more populous my plant population. I haven’t counted lately but it’s too many.

        2. fallingleavesofnovember*

          All my attempts at growing Dieffenbachia have failed miserably! :'( How do you do it?!

          1. Peanut Hamper*

            I honestly have no idea! Sometimes I forget to water it for weeks and the leaves start to turn brown, then I water it and it comes back. I keep in a window where it doesn’t get direct sunlight, though. During the winter, I put it in my bathroom where I have LED lights and leave the lights on all day. It’s warmer in there.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        We have a baby spider plant named Charlotte who’s perking up since we changed her soil. Hopefully she’ll live a long and happy life. I also have Rapunzel, a 20+ year philodendron, and her offspring, Son-punzel.

    3. FanciestCat*

      You’ll need to be prepared to pay more money if you want more realistic looking fake plants. The cheap ones will look (and, when they are new, smell) very plasticy. I’d recommend IKEA, Lowes, Home Depot over Amazon. Micheals or Joanne’s Fabric also have some nicer smaller plants and fake vines. I’ve never owned a fake plant that looked totally real, but you can get close and not having to take care of them is worth it to me. Plus my cat loves trying to eat real plants so…

      1. DistantAudacity*

        That is key – you should pay a bit more to get the nice ones.

        Also – dust them once in a while, like every 3 or 6 months or something. Easiest accomplished by hosing them down under the shower, and let them dry.

        Super-dusty, dulled, fake plants is a massive give-away :)

        I have a combination of fake and real plants, with the fakes in areas with limited light.

    4. Still*

      Go somewhere you can look at the faux plants in person. From there, you can decide if they look real enough for you. Bonus points if there’s a return policy in case they don’t look like you hoped they would in your space.

      I have real plants but have definitely seen some fakes that managed to fool me.

    5. Anon. Scientist*

      Spider plants will live forever if they have at least a bit of light. We are haphazard at best and have succulents that are perfectly happy to be watered every… monthn or so? Less? And another option which is very pretty are African violets. If you get them in self watering bowls (unglazed inner pot and finished outer pot) you just pour water into the outer pot every couple of weeks or whenever you think about it. They’re also happy in indirect light.

    6. Rosey*

      When I was in high school, I had tons of indoor plants arranged on shelves next to the two windows in my bedroom. I took care of them so they did well, then most were killed by a spider mite infestation. I bought a new group of plants, and most of those were killed in a gnat infestation. (I was buying a lot of plants, so I assume the problem was that I bought an infected one, and the bugs spread to the others. If you buy real plants, make sure to isolate each new one for a few weeks.) It was a lot of money and work down the drain, so I never bought any again. If you have no interest in taking care of plants and don’t want to attract bugs, I’d just stick with fake ones.

      One of my coworkers had a small plant on her desk and I was amazed at how healthy it looked since she wasn’t near any windows and mostly worked from home. Turns out it was a fake plant she got at Target for like $5. So you can get cheap realistic ones.

    7. fallingleavesofnovember*

      Second the idea of looking for Facebook propagation / gifting groups!

      I’ve had good luck with monstera, as long as you give them a pole to support them as they grow, they seem pretty happy. I’ve found all the big palms I’ve ever bought have ended up with scale infestations and slowly died.

      I’ve also had good luck with dracaena, the one I have is called lemon lime and it’s now really tall! It likes to be watered with water that has been sitting out or filtered, but otherwise very low-maintenance.

    8. Firebird*

      When my grandmother was in the hospital, I watered her plants and they all survived. It turned out that the Boston Fern was a fake and I watered it anyway. Oops! It looked and felt real.

    9. Aqua409*

      If you decide to get real plants instead of fake ones and if you have pets. Please include in your research if your pets eat any of it; they won’t be harmed. They’re are many different house plants that are harmful to cats and dogs. I would hate for you to find that out and have tragedy happen.

  10. Keypad door lock*

    Keypad dilemma — I definitely want to replace my front and back door locks with keypad locks. My dilemma: smart keypad or basic keypad? I’m really interested in your pros and cons for these two kinds of keypad locks as I can’t decide/don’t know enough to decide which to get.

    The features that are must-haves: If it’s a smart lock, you could manually enter a code without using the phone app; it has a key option for when the battery has died on you; the keypad lights up when you press a key and the numbers are easy to read; it uses a lever to actually open the door. There are basic keypads on amazon with these features but it’s not obvious to me that the smart keypads have all of them.

    I like the simplicity of the basic keypad setup, but is its lesser functionality much of a drawback?

    For smart keypads, is there a reason to prefer wifi vs bluetooth enabled, or one of the other options? Also, my phone is 6 years old; do the current smart keypads require newer phone technology?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I have smart keypad/locks that tie into my home security system but I’ve never used the phone app to open them, I just always use the keypad. In fact I think we have the proximity settings turned off, so it doesn’t just unlock when we approach, we have to do it deliberately one way or another. The key still works fine to unlock, the smart bit only replaced the inside deadbolt latch.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “uses a lever to actually open the door” though.

    2. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I bought a Wyze lock and keypad. It has the features you mention, and is both wifi and bluetooth. Although I’m not sure what you mean by a lever to open it.

      I don’t know about minimum phone capability. My biggest criticism is that the outdoor keypad and locking mechanism need batteries, although I change them once or twice a year so it’s a small problem. And it would be a problem with others so more a complaint about keypads in general. The keypad has worked well through a cold winter.

      I bought it so that I could let volunteers into my home to pick up or drop off items when I wasn’t home. It happens rarely but really useful at those times. I appreciate not having to dig out my key when I get home and happy I got it!

    3. acmx*

      I have a Schlage on a rental property. They all have a mechanical lock as far as I’m aware. some come with a lever attached to the keypad or you can purchase your own. A lot of doors have a dead bolt and a door knob so you may have to slots to fill.

      I’m not sure on wifi vs bluetooth. Mine is both. You connect to wifi, have bluetooth enabled on your phone in order to control the deadbolt via the app, set codes, monitor activity, check battery level.

      I prefer the connected version so I am able to let people in remotely and monitor activity.

    4. Rick Tq*

      Go to the youtube channels of LockpickingLawyer or BosnianBill and start going thru their reviews of keypad locks to see what experts think about the security of these locks.

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Cheap keypads fall apart–the rubber buttons just come right out. Our building had one and it was beyond irritating trying to get in until they replaced it with a decent pad.

    6. allathian*

      We have a smart keypad, but we don’t use the smart features. My husband and I use fobs, our son uses a 6-digit PIN.

      Our building codes require doors to open outwards (much harder to enter by force), so all doors to the outside have some kind of handle that you pull once the lock is open. Our door has a push-down lever.

    7. Pharmgirl*

      I have the Yale Assure lock. It’s not “smart”, but it has the main features you’re looking for, can manually enter a code, key option, key pad lights up, and is only installed in the deadbolt section of the door, so you can still use the regular door handle to actually open the door. It has an auto lock feature as well so the door will automatically lock after X amount of time if you want – so its hands free when you’re leaving. I looked at tons of different smart locks / keypads, and I didn’t see the point of a wifi or bluetooth enable lock for me – I’m not using this for a rental property and don’t have a ton of guests coming and going when I’m not there, and I shared the code with trusted family members. I don’t see any drawbacks to having only a keypad with the way I’m using it.

    8. Zephy*

      I wouldn’t go for the “smart lock.” If it’s “smart” (connected to the internet), it’s hackable. It sounds like you’re married to the idea of a keypad lock, so in your place I would get the dumbest possible keypad lock I could find.

    9. ADHD mom*

      We got our keypad lock because I felt sure my son would lose a physical key. Yes – eventually he was diagnosed with ADHD. Ours is dumb, not internet connected. A cool thing is it can store up to 10 codes, and I could change them – say, the house cleaner could have 1 code and my parents could have another and if I get a new housecleaning team then I select a new code and cancel that old one without affecting my parents’ code. Of course to do that you need to keep the manual and know where it is.

      Also know that there is a battery that eventually needs to be replaced. Husband did that and acts like it’s the biggest deal in the world. Still would rather have a code than deal with the kids losing keys

  11. Skates*

    My partner and I are closing on our very first house on April 1! The buying process has been (knocks wood) fairly smooth though it took like 18 months to find the right house at the right time. I’m obsessed with it, and I’m really excited to paint and decorate a house with my spouse with whom I share a pretty maximalist and funky aesthetic. What’s your favorite thing you’ve done to make your place your “own”? What’s your favorite quirky spot in your house?

    1. Professor Plum*

      I love the bright purple color I painted the inside of my front door. Can’t do the outside because if HOA, but the inside color is mine!

        1. Madame Arcati*

          In my previous flat the hallway was a small square with mostly doors off it. I painted the bits of wall in between/above a bright fuchsia pink, like lipstick. I loved it, made me smile every time I came in the front door.
          Also it was my first home I owned so there was a large portion of “this is my flat I will do what I want!” in there :-)

        2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          I picked a bright-ass turquoise for my kitchen walls, because almost all the walls are covered with either cupboards, appliances or the tile backsplash we didn’t remove when we remodeled. Big swaths of it would be sort of eye-searing, but as it is, I think the biggest patch of it you can see is in the back of the butler’s pantry wall, about 3 feet wide by 2 feet high, so it just really pops around the edges against the white cabinetry :)

      1. Filosofickle*

        A colleague painted the inside of their door purple, and put the little frame over the peep hole so it looks exactly like Monica and Rachel’s door on Friends :D

    2. RLC*

      We collect late 19th to early 20th century lighting, and we personalized our home by replacing all the contemporary fixtures with a mix of historic reproductions (bathroom, kitchen/dining, and laundry room) and restored antiques (rest of house). Vintage “Edison” style LED bulbs in all to save energy.
      My favorite quirky spot is our library-previous homeowner was a gifted woodworker who built massive 8’ tall bookcases on four of the five walls of this unique room. We’ve added an 1870s desk and chair and 1880s library light fixture.

      1. Skates*

        Library!! We will also have a library but the built-ins are much less impressive than yours! I love the idea of playing with light fixtures. Our guest room to-be has this seemingly custom blown glass like, nautical fixture? And I plan to clean it up a bit and maybe even design the guest room around it!!

    3. Nicosloanica*

      I made some art instead of buying anything, and I think what I came up with fits the unique space much better than anything in my price range would have. I used old stained glass windows in one section, bought at an antiques barn and then did a little welding. In another spot, I hammered small nails into the wall and made string art that went around a corner.

      1. Skates*

        This sounds incredible!! We are also probably going to fill a lot of wall space with our own stuff, at least at first. But neither of us is going to weld anything I suspect!!

    4. Liminality*

      I had a collage wall. The doorbell, fire detector, and thermostat were all pretty awkwardly placed on the same dining room wall. I hung a whole bunch of my smaller pictures and display items on that wall.
      Added visual interest camouflaged the functional items nicely.

    5. Tinamedte*

      I put lots of lamps in every room. Awkwardly lit rooms, or rooms where there just isn’t enough light, make me feel uncomfortable. But when I can light the right combination of lamps for the activity, season and time of day, that just puts me at ease immediately :-)

      Also: textiles. I don’t want echoes or sharp sounds in my home, so curtains, mats, rugs where they fit, and no naked walls anywhere, where sound can bounce right back.

      Good luck with your new home, you are going to have a blast decorating and painting!

    6. Cheshire Cat*

      We repainted the bedrooms and den blue, burgundy, and forest green (one color per room!) It’s still refreshing to walk into any of the rooms and see the colors, even several years later.

      There are several artists in the family, and we’ve hung their paintings in the dining room (the paintings that we have, at least.) It feels eclectic and personal. The windows also look out on the backyard, which is beautifully landscaped thanks to the previous owners. It’s definitely my favorite room. :)

    7. Anon. Scientist*

      Two things:

      Personalization: I am minimizing my lawn by adding mostly native plantings (my goal is to have a really thickly growing garden area with no bare space) and stealth adding clover and other low grass substitutes in the area that is lawn.

      My favorite in house area is the bathroom that has a porthole window with a huge quince right in front of it. If you stand up to pee, you will see so many birds at eye level. I don’t, but to make up for it I have a photo of a very angry looking bird all puffed up for winter in a frame that matches the decor.

    8. Blue*

      Congrats! Just did the same recently and it’s been exciting (and finding contractors is hard!!).

      I had the whole interior painted before I moved in — expensive but I’m really glad I did it and didn’t try to paint it myself. Mostly white but I picked a blue for dining/kitchen space (azure tide by Sheron Williams) and it makes me so happy. I also had a sparkly chandelier put in and in the mornings the light hits it and sends rainbows all over the walls and cabinets for a little while.

    9. fposte*

      My kitchen was all white and I painted this @18” wide undulating ribbon of blue (darker blue washed over pacific blue to get the intensity I wanted) bordered with lime green and magenta all around. It’s Eric Carle colors and I love it.

    10. Falling Diphthong*

      When my son was living at home (pandemic) he installed some fairy lights above a wooden strip at ceiling height, which makes indirect light over the desk. I moved into this space when he moved back out. It’s a great feature I wouldn’t have thought of.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      What makes it feel like “ours” are books and art and the kitchen countertop. I hated the kitchen when we moved it – the layout was ok but the counters were this icky peach-colored formica with a wood edge and the cabinets were way too ornate for my taste and didn’t go all the way to the ceiling (8-foot ceilings. Not that tall). It took years for the kitchen reno to make it to the top of our list and once we replaced the ugly formica with gorgeous dark blue/gray stone it really felt like mine. Now we have pendants over the peninsula that my husband made (he’s a glassblower) which I also love.

      I have two favorite spots. Don’t know if either of them is quirky! One is our screened porch. I grew up with one and we had one in our first house. We added this during a massive backyard reno in 2019 and that meant we could actually invite people over in the summer of 2020 – the porch is ten feet wide and has seating on both sides so we were appropriately distanced outside. We live out there in the summer – every meal and most of the hangout time. I also love my study. It’s the first room I’ve had that’s totally MINE to do with as I will. I had my own room when I was a kid but my mother decorated it and since then I’ve always shared either with a roommate or my husband. I have a sit/stand mobile desk and deep bookcases under the window with some of my favorite things displayed on top. I hid the printer in the closet. The final touch was a gorgeous leather mission-style recliner in the corner with two windows. Lovely and sunny in the morning and cozy in the evening. Makes me happy every time I walk in.

    12. Bluebell*

      We have an early 20th century bungalow with an alcove opposite the bathroom on the second floor. When we first moved in, that was a mini office, particularly useful for watching the kiddo as she took extended baths. Once she moved out, the study moved to the second bedroom, and it’s now a reading nook with a beautiful blue rug, and white bookcase. We also have beautiful patterned wood floors on the first floor that I love.

    13. BlueWolf*

      I didn’t do anything major indoors, although I wish I had painted before we moved in. We didn’t have a whole lot of cash or time for moving after closing, so it just wasn’t a priority. I did paint the bathroom eventually because it’s small and was easily accomplished in a weekend and didn’t require moving furniture. It’s a light green that I think goes nice with the dark blue shower tile that was already in the bathroom. Probably the biggest changes we’ve made are outside. I added a couple of raised beds for a vegetable garden and we also made a gravel patio. Previously there was just lawn outside the screen porch. Now we have a place for a grill, fire pit, a couple of Adirondack chairs and some planters. It just makes the outdoor space feel a bit more complete.

    14. Zephy*

      The house I grew up in had every room painted a different color. The entryway was a gentle pink, the open-concept living room was a bold orangey-red with yellow trim, the kitchen was a calming sage green, master bedroom was blue, and my sister and I were allowed to decide on our own bedrooms’ decor and color schemes.

      I had this little purple-and-green clock with butterflies on it that I loved, so those were the colors I chose for my bedroom. Lime-green walls, deep fuchsia on my closet doors and the inside of my bedroom door (the outside remained the original white), pale yellow for the baseboards and doorframes, and a medium pink for my furniture – my parents let me repaint my headboard and bedside table, which were originally white with some little floral accents. I used a plastic bag scrunched up to apply splotches of yellow over the pink on my furniture (my only defense is this was circa 2002, you couldn’t flip to any show on HGTV where someone wasn’t doing something silly like this with paint). My sister was way into dolphins at that time, so her room was all shades of blue, with tropical fish and dolphin murals on two walls, courtesy of yours truly.

      My dad kept the house like that until he and his wife finally moved out of that house and had to repaint everything back to the original default beige.

    15. Filosofickle*

      Color is my favorite way to make it mine. That, and lots of display space for my art and objects. My favorite room is painted aqua and the overall palette is what I’d call grownup rainbow. All the colors are in there, in large and small ways through vibrant art, patterned rugs, vintage items from family, and quirky details. (Somehow it is not chaotic. I am a highly curated maximalist.) Everywhere I look I can see a memory of someone or someplace, it’s like a treasure box. This room makes me so happy!

      I like switching up colors from room to room — different palettes and tones that still vibe together but feel distinct — which gives me lots of dopamine hits and lets me match my space with my mood. My next project is a tv/lounge room that will be dark and moody, like a desert at night, for times when all that happy aqua is irritating :)

      Because I’m not one to redecorate often, I spend a LOT of time picking my colors. Loads and loads of samples. Once I have it narrowed down even then I wait days to see how the color looks in different parts of the room, different times of day. The aqua room is a great example — it took me two weeks to make a final selection on that color but it truly is one of the best choices I’ve ever made.

    16. inkheart*

      My favorite spot is on my small west-facing front porch, I have a table and two chairs and a rocker. When I am out there, I leave the front door open and the cats sit in the sun.

    17. What the what*

      Bay window with window seat in the master bath is kinda weird, but the people we bought our house from knew what they were doing by putting it in.. Our house backs up to 20+ acres of green space and a pond. I like to sit on the seat and watch birds, deer, etc while I dry my hair. We keep binoculars in our bathroom (sounds pervy but they are for bird watching!) so that we can zoom in on nature. We get a lot of cool birds and critters. The squirrels are hilarious. It’s a very peaceful spot.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        We did two small turquoise accent walls in our living room, to match a painting from one of my husband’s family members. We also did bookshelves on either side of our fireplace (we put in a wood burning insert) – they are real built-ins, but we stained Ikea Ivar shelves and they fit so closely it has fulfilled my dream of floor to ceiling bookshelves. We’re all about rich colours, but one thing we’ve done is pick a neutral cream that we have used in each room to tie it together, even if it’s just one wall.

    18. Freya's Cats*

      Don’t know about quirky, but my flat had not been re-decorated since probably the early 80ies, and had seen a lot of DIY enthusiasm in its years (it is from 1958). Fortunately the previous inhabitant put in new windowframes and double glazing and the heating was functional, but other than that, literally nothing is the same as it was…
      I had the bathroom, toilet and kitchen install done by professionals, and a fair portion of the plastering (Europe, so concrete walls, not drywall, and this kind of plastering is a skilled trade).
      All the rest my dad and me did over about three months, painting (everything was badly painted in several layers and really damaged so took endless rounds of sanding and putty and underpaint), floors, moving power outlets (a job and a half if the walls are concrete, you have to mill a channel though the wall) remocing tiles and fake 70ies ceilings and panelling. I worked 1 day and two mornings a week, covering the other 3 days with saved up leave. I truly cannot remember much from the period, except exhaustion. But I can definitely say this place is mine now. All of it. :)

  12. HannahS*

    What’s the best cookbook you read recently, and what did you like about it? What’s one that you thought was overhyped?

    I really, really liked Sabai, which is about homestyle Thai cooking. I’ve made several of the author’s recipes over the years, mostly from her website (Hot Thai Kitchen,) and they are so, so good. I also really appreciate that she teaches about how to assemble a Thai meal; what complements what. When I’m learning a cuisine that I didn’t grow up with, sometimes it feels incomplete to be given a recipe for a single dish but no guidance on what to serve with it to make a balanced meal.

    My overhyped pick is Six Seasons. Obviously, it won a James Beard award so I’m in a minority. I just don’t think it’s particularly revolutionary to suggest that really great food comes from having access to fresh, local produce and lots of money to pay for it. I’m sure the recipes are tasty; I just found the tone aggravating and a bit smug. I am not the audience for it.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I liked Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. I liked it mostly because it is very educational (she tells why and how these things affect the dish), it’s very reasonable, and the recipes make me hungry.

      Then again, I do tend to like the books that explain the science of cooking.

      I just glanced through one not long ago and it reminded me of the Mr. Food cookbooks. The recipes were good, but the stories they told just did not seem believable. But it was written by someone with a food blog (and I find most of these people to be tedious and annoying) so I will probably find the recipes I like, try them, and then donate it to my library. I can’t even remember the name of it, because they were so annoying.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Love that book. Changed the way we cook, especially the Salt chapter. I don’t pay a lot of attention to cookbooks these days so I don’t have an “overhyped” selection!

    2. Jay*

      -I admit, it’s been a little while since I read it, but it was also the last one I read in full:
      Tom Piperson’s Pig and Other Culinary Surprises by Thelma and Patricia Minard.
      It’s a short book of local North Carolina recipes including the stories behind them.
      Lots of cool old-time cooking.
      -Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook: A Useful and Improving Almanack of Information Including Astonishing Recipes from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld. It’s hilarious and you can generally eat the food, to!

      1. GoryDetails*

        Seconding Nanny Ogg’s Cookbook – though if read by someone unfamiliar with the Discworld it might be a bit surprising in places!

    3. goddessoftransitory*

      I love Laurie Colwin’s collections Home Cooking and More Home Cooking. They’re not cookbooks per se but collections of essays; Colwin does include recipes, though. Also MFK Fisher’s books, especially How to Cook a Wolf, for the same memoir/essay design.

    4. strawberry lemonade*

      Best cookbook: Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi and collaborators. It’s a really, really good book for distilling how to make a dish bright and interesting without spending a ton of time. And there are some really nice meal plans for feasts vs weeknight friends dinners vs summery spreads. One of my most-used cookbooks; I’m really really impressed that it distills an Ottolenghi-ness for the home cook without the (delightful!) fuss of his other books.

    5. Cookies For Breakfast*

      One more vote for Ottolenghi’s Simple!

      Another favourite of mine is the Honey & Co. Baking Book. Every recipe I’ve tried is absolutely perfect – it feels like they’ve been thoroughly edited and tested so nothing can go wrong for a reader following them to the letter. Do try their restaurants and delis if you’re ever in London, they’re delightful.

      I didn’t vibe with Nigella Lawson’s Cook, Eat, Repeat. I tried some of the dishes that were in recipe format (the Mine All Mine Chocolate Cookies are pure genius), but then I realised there were more recipes to be fished out of the storytelling / essay parts, and didn’t feel invested enough to read the entire thing. I constantly look at recipes while I cook in the kitchen, so need a clearly formatted list of ingredients and steps to work with and glance at mid action.

      1. Nervous Nellie*

        Yes! I love Nagi and her ancient dog Dozer. Her recipes are warm and fun, but the book is very heavily slanted toward meat dishes. Her email newsletter and website have more veg offerings. She is so awesome!

      2. Chauncy Gardener*

        Oh yes, and Make it Fast Cook it Slow. It’s an amazing crockpot cookbook! I guess it’s been around for a while, but I just picked it up at a thrift shop, so it’s new to me.

    6. just here for the scripts*

      Looooooooved Julia Child’s French Cooking series as a teen. My dad and I would pick a dish on Friday night after school after reading through a few of them, shop for the ingredients on Saturday and read through all the instructions, looking up terms and ingredients we didn’t know, then cook the dish together on Sunday. Blessed and patient mom would do clean up (refrains if “you and your dad are such….enthusiastic….cooks who never used 2 pots and pans if you could use 5” still run through my head as a 62 year old as I prep a meal). Made the movie “Julia and me” very personal and very enjoyable.

      Ones I’ve thought were over rated? Not thrilled with moosewood…but then almost all male after Julia’s work

      1. Imtheone*

        And Julia tested and tea and for other people to test, so her recipes are quite reliable.

    7. peanut person*

      My favorite is Damn Delicious (by Chungah Rhee, who has a blog by the same name as the cookbook). I think she does an amazing job of making straightforward and delicious food. I can’t ask for anything better, really.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      I liked Boards from America’s Test Kitchen. (Also available as a slimmer magazine, which I put in a care package to my daughter.) The recipes I tried from it were good, and it was useful for advice on editing around a theme, so I wasn’t repeating the same sides with each meal.

      I’m sure it helps that my reaction to “It’s a board with bread, cheese, sausage, cornichons, fresh fruit, and some sort of savory spread” is “Oooh! Yes!”

      Special shout out to those boards centered on beef-topped hummus and sausages braised in beer.

    9. Nervous Nellie*

      Three bests for me (sorry, can’t limit it to one):

      Simply West African by Pierre Thiam, because both recipes I made from it were incredible (black eyed pea hummus & Thiebou Yapp, a pilaf like biryani), because his warmth and talent oozes off every page, and because it runs the gamut of vegan to meat eater with ease. There is also lots to read throughout – articles on foodways and history.

      Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love by Yotam Ottolenghi & Noor Murad. This is Yotam and his kitchen team’s Covid lockdown project. It’s a friendly and simple book of pantry recipes with his signature sophistication, but with easily had ingredients. His Not Your Average Tomato Salad and his Yogurt Rice with Chana Dal & Curry Leaf Oil are simple, cheap & wonderful. Bonus point for a fold-out list in the back cover of recipes grouped by themes like Under an Hour, Kid Friendly, Easily Veganized, and a two lined notebook pages. I also love the fact that he gives full credit for recipe development to various staff members as they were all separated during lockdown, but kept developing recipes. It’s a friendly, happy book, and much simpler than his first offering, Ottolenghi, or even the later Plenty.

      Ayla by Santosh Shah, another friendly & happy book, this time about Nepalese cooking. I’ve made so many recipes from it, but the Terai Bhuteko Bhat (basically the best biryani I have made or had) is one I come back to several times a year. It’s a beautiful book with a really neat window into such a faraway place. It got me listening to a radio in Kathmandu on Radio Garden.

      And least favorite – I admit to an overall dislike of cookbooks with the author/influencer/celebrity on the cover, as they all seem to be more focused on the person than the food. They usually have many more pictures throughout the book of the well coiffed author in a perfect kitchen or glamorous outdoor dining setting, etc. and endless comments about themselves woven into every recipe blurb. Yecch. I’m just here for the food. That just makes me grumpy. I am open to be proven wrong, though, if others here have examples of good ones. And yes to the dislike of Six Seasons – in a world where food banks are overwhelmed, this kind of preciousness about food is really disappointing. And they’re just repeating what Alice Waters did at Chez Panisse back in the 70s.

    10. FashionablyEvil*

      I also loved Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Bravetart was also outstanding, even though I am never going to make homemade sprinkles. (Her snickerdoodle recipe is the best.)

      Agree that Six Seasons was wildly overrated. I didn’t learn anything new from it (but his kale salad which I found via Melissa Clark and the NYT is pretty great.)

    11. Bluebell*

      Sohla El Wayly’s new cookbook Start Here is her first, and has a lot of great info. It’s half cooking, half baking and has a lot of jump off points. I don’t read a lot of cookbooks so no candidate for overhyped.

    12. GoryDetails*

      Gather by Chris Viaud: I got this one because I’ve had some lovely meals at Viaud’s restaurant Greenleaf (in Milford NH, a town or two over from where I live). It includes lots of seasonal recipes, and I hope to try most of them (eventually!).

      The “Tasting History” cookbook, from Max Miller’s YouTube show; while the book isn’t as much fun for me as Max’s videos, I love having some of the recipes in handy, readable form. The Parthian chicken is on my to-make list, as soon as I score some asafoetida – which, as it happens, some foodie friends of mine have in their pantry. [Fun party game with enthusiastic cooks: “try and name an obscure ingredient that they can NOT immediately pull out of a drawer or shelf”.]

      And on the mainly-entertainment side: Exquisite Exandria: The Official Cookbook of Critical Role! I don’t know that the recipes are any better than less fantasy-role-playing-themed versions would be, but I really enjoyed reading the book.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Thanks for the first; I just rewatched his season of Top Chef and really liked his approach to food.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I got the Tasting History book. I liked it so much I bought it for my brother-in-law for Christmas. He cooks and is very hard to shop for, but he loved it.

    13. bassclefchick*

      I really like finding cookbooks based on book series I love. Theresa Carle-Sanders has two cookbooks based on the Outlander series, one for when the series is based in Scotland and one for when it moves to The New World. I’ve made recipes from both and enjoyed them all. Late next year, she’s releasing a cookbook based on Nora Roberts’ In Death series and I cannot WAIT!

      Overhyped pick is usually celebrity chef cookbooks. They seem to forget not everyone lives in New York City or London and can’t get all of the ingredients. They also tend to use ingredients that will ONLY be used for that recipe.

    14. Reba*

      “East” by Meera Sodha is one that I have been getting a ton of use out of!

      “Feast: Food of the Islamic World” by Anissa Helou is a great and beautiful read at 500+ pages, but not reliable as an actual cookbook.

      1. Spacewoman Spiff*

        I love Meera Sodha’s cookbooks! I’m getting ready to move in a couple weeks and one of the things I’m fantasizing about, when I’m in my new house with a more workable kitchen(!!) is picking some recipes from East or Fresh India.

    15. Peanut Hamper*

      I should add that I also like what I call “Church Lady Cookbooks” which are the cookbooks that groups (like church ladies, although I have one from a junior orchestra) put together as a fundraiser. They seem to bring fine old recipes out of the woodwork. And they are tasty, although they have no regard for health: hello lots of salt, fat, butter, lard, sausage, etc. But the recipes are often winners!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh, I like these too. One of my coworkers at Exjob had a couple of family cookbook fundraisers. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but I’ve bookmarked quite a few.

      2. Clisby*

        I love these. Alth0ugh, they’re not the best for beginning cooks, because they’re recipes people have made over and over and over, and know what they’re doing, so they skip steps that seem obvious to them but would NOT be obvious to someone not experienced at cooking.

        Like, “medium-sized eggplant” and “large onion”. What do those mean? Tell us how many cups of chopped onion, or what poundage of eggplant. Or, as I’ve seen in several, “Start by making a white sauce.” (I know how to make a white sauce, but someone trying to learn cooking might have no idea.)

        1. Peanut Hamper*

          You can google “white sauce” although that name is so generic it might not be the same kind of white sauce the author had in mind. So yeah, even for experienced cooks these take a bit of experimenting.

          Oddly, for things like onions and other flavorings, I’ve always gone with whatever I like. I like onions, so I tend to put a lot of onions in; I’m sure more that the recipe creators intended in a lot of cases. The same is true of garlic.

          My favorite is always the instruction “cook until done”. Um….cook how? In an oven? A slow oven or a moderate oven? In a frying pan? Boil it? Sometimes these instructions are very generic.

    16. The Unspeakable Queen Lisa*

      So you mean that you didn’t try any of the recipes from Six Seasons and are basing your review entirely on the tone of the non-recipe content? That’s not why I read cookbooks, so I don’t think I can contribute.

      1. Peanut Hamper*

        Can’t really try the recipes if you can’t afford the ingredients they call for. I think that’s the issue.

        There is a certain degree of classism in some cookbooks. I noticed that during the pandemic, when a lot of these cookbook authors and celebrity chefs started posting “simply, every day recipes” (especially on YouTube) and then trotted ingredients like organic free-range squid ink harvested by Greek virgins during a full moon. Yeah, just let me run down to the local Walmart and buy a tube of that. That’s neither simple, nor everyday for most of us.

        Which is one of the reasons I love the “church lady cookbooks” I mentioned above. I have their ingredients in my pantry.

        1. HBJ*

          Lol: re out-of-touch pandemic stuff. I just remember a beauty youtuber, Jaclyn Hill, I think? getting totally roasted after posting her “stay home simple makeup look,” and it used something like 17 products.

          1. Clisby*

            I remember years ago reading an article in “Simple Living” magazine about simple makeup routines, and the author told how she kept her routine down to 10 (???!!!) minutes. Honey, the simplest makeup routine is 0 minutes, but even back when I wore makeup it never took more than 2-3 minutes. I can’t even remember what all she was doing to stretch it out to 10.

      2. I Have RBF*

        LOL. I don’t read cookbooks, I use them. Any verbiage other than recipes (ingredients, instruction, nutritional data, picture) is a waste of space, IMO. If the content is more the author holding forth on their philosophy of food, it’s not a cookbook, IMO, it’s an opinion book with a few recipes.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        I’ve gotten cookbooks from the library and been disappointed with them. Like when my spouse was doing low carb and I wanted recipes that happen to be low carb (lean protein and a bunch of vegetables), and the book wanted to do things like sugar-free meringues that you treat as bread. And sometimes the food philosophy is just frustrating to read, if it’s not similar to the way I like to cook, or at least relatable.

        I think it has happened that I’ve liked the author’s vibe but the recipes I tried were unmemorable? But more often it’s a case of “This is too fussy” or “Onions do not caramelize in 4 minutes.”

    17. tuesday*

      Just want to say thanks, HannahS! I’ve been in a food rut lately, but will look up several of the cookbooks/recipes mentioned.

    18. Old and Don’t Care*

      I recently bought Cook What You Have by Christopher Kimball/Milk Street. For me it’s cook what you have plus a couple ingredients I have to shop for, but that’s okay. I’ve made a few recipes that I have or will make over and over again, and that’s all I ask from a cookbook.

      I didn’t find Six Seasons overly precious. I’m close to a very non-precious farmers market (as in you’d have to be lucky to be able to get basil to go with your tomatoes) and I can get a lot of things there. The things I can’t, I don’t really worry about whether celery from the farmers market is better than grocery store celery. My problem with Six Seasons is that it heavier on meat dishes than I had expected from such a cookbook. And I bought the Kindle version, which is a cookbook graveyard in my hands. I really should know better.

    19. carcinization*

      I have and love Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game, I asked for it for Christmas and the several recipes I’ve tried from it so far have definitely been winners. Not sure about overrated ones, I’m really picky about cookbooks these days! I guess I like Ottolenghi’s original Plenty cookbook more than Plenty More as the latter seems to rely too much on obscure ingredients.

    20. Catherine*

      I am ride or die for Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger, which is the only cookbook that’s ever made me cry. (It’s a cookbook but it’s also about grief.)

  13. Other City Sitter?*

    How do you find a babysitter in another city? We’ll be traveling for a wedding and will need a sitter for a couple multi-hour stretches over a weekend. We don’t personally know anyone who lives in the area.

    I created an account on Care dot com to start scoping out the options, but it wrote and posted a sitting job on my behalf without my knowledge or approval (it asked when I needed care, I selected “just browsing”) and I subsequently learned I can’t actually vet or hire a sitter without paying at least $40–that’s the cost of site membership for one month… which I had to Google and found on another site because Care dot com does not make that information readily available. The process felt icky to me and I’m wondering if there’s a more transparent option. I’ve heard of Winnie, Sitter City, Bambino Sitters, and Urban Sitters, but at first glance none seems particularly better than Care dot com. We don’t expect to use a care matching site on a regular basis. It feels unreasonable to hire a local sitter to travel with us for the entire weekend, and it’s unlikely (though possible, I suppose) a local sitter has loved ones in the wedding’s area and would want to schedule a visit in conjunction with the days we need a sitter. Advice welcome!

    1. Rick Tq*

      Is this a destination wedding for everyone, if so the hotel concierge may have suggestions.

      Otherwise I’d contact whichever members of the wedding party live in town for recommendations.

      1. Other City Sitter?*

        It’s not a destination wedding, and for (extremely valid!) reasons I won’t get into, I don’t believe asking people connected to the wedding party will be helpful in this particular situation.

    2. Not A Manager*

      Are you staying in a hotel? Some hotels will refer you to sitter services.

      I always prefer some kind of word of mouth. Even if you don’t personally know anyone in the city, I assume that some friends or relatives of the couple live in the city. Could you contact the maid/matron of honor, the wedding planner, the mother-in-law, etc. and ask if they can refer you?

      This is a long shot when you’re not in the city itself, but many preschools have some kind of notice board (in the old days it was analog, now they might all be virtual) where people can offer their services/post a job. A lot of times the nannies/au pairs/babysitters would pick up and drop off at the JCC or other pre-schools, and they’d look for extra hours on the job board. If you’re desperate, try calling some of those places and speaking to the receptionist. Similarly, most colleges have a virtual job board and you could post on that.

      In any case, I would try to leave enough time to check references. I would also try to arrive early enough that the sitter can come and spend some (paid) time with the kids while you’re around, so you can vet them.

      If you can afford it, and you have a local sitter that you know and like, you might consider bringing them along and providing hybrid payment that consists of an hourly wage for their sitting time, plus ample time and spending money for fun experiences on their time off.

    3. Seashell*

      Ask the bride/groom or any family members or friends who live near the wedding location if they know anyone.

      If you’re on any social media, ask for recommendations from people you know or in a group local to the venue.

    4. Other City Sitter?*

      I should have mentioned in the original post – for (extremely valid!) reasons I won’t get into, I don’t believe asking people connected to the wedding party will be helpful in this particular situation.

    5. Jean (just Jean)*

      Do you have any connections to the area that don’t involve anyone in the wedding party, such as friends or family of your friends or family (excluding the wedding party folks)? Can you build from other, less intimate connections (e.g. person in your congregation/bowling league/cosplay group/child’s scouting troop knows someone)? Is there a college nearby with a department of elementary school education?

      It might be best to just bring a sitter, or a really good friend, for the weekend. Expensive but you’d have peace of mind. Maybe a good friend whose child(ren) is(are) also friends with your child(ren).

      Or it might be simplest to folow the time-honored tradition of people with children: One of you goes alone to the wedding to represent the family; and the other stays home with the kid(s). The traveler won’t have to worry about keeping children safe and comfortable away from home, and the stay-at-home parent gets to have all of the usual supports and routines of home (except for the traveling parent!). And you can invite other adults over, or hire your usual local sitter if you just need a brief break.

      Good luck with it! Hopefully the wedding couple will be glad that at least one of you can come and you’ll have a low-stress weekend all around.

      1. Jean (just Jean)*

        P.S. I think it’s Captain Awkward who said that “an invitation is not a summons.” The other option is that you both send your regrets, and a card with your good wishes, and a gift. And then you can hire a local sitter to have a “date night” in your home town!

    6. Annie Edison*

      Do you have a Facebook account? Try searching for “city name moms” and variations, and see if you might be able to temporarily join some of those groups to ask for sitter recommendations

      1. rkz*

        yes I think this might be your best option! I know my area even has a FB group designed to connect parents looking for sitters with local college students who want to babysit. it might take some digging to find the right/most helpful group, but hopefully worth it not to have to pay a sitter to travel with you!

      2. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        This is what I would do. Search for “[That Town] Babysitting” Facebook group. Usually it’s full of moonlighting nannies and students who babysit.

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Check for a local college that has an early childhood education department – both our local community colleges do. Ask them if they have a job board or a way of connecting students to sitting jobs. Or ask any college if they have a student jobs service. You could also call a local daycare and ask if any of their staff would like to pick up extra money – if it’s an accredited and licensed daycare their employees should have background checks and criminal clearances.

      We live very close to a small liberal arts college. All our sitters were either employees of the JCC daycare we used or college students.

    8. Katefish*

      I’m a military spouse and have had good luck using the Bambino app to find sitters in other cities. You don’t have to pay to book unless it’s last minute.

    9. Double A*

      Reading your other comments… I would not travel to attend the child-free wedding of people I didn’t trust to help me arrange (or even ask about) child care for said child-free wedding.

      But people’s suggestions about the hotel seem useful!

      1. Clisby*

        I agree. I vote for having just one adult attend the wedding, and the other stays home with the child.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Co-sign this (as a parent of two). One parent goes, the other stays home with the kid. Or, nobody goes and you send regrets due to childcare obligations.

      2. Other City Sitter?*

        Y’all. Not going to a wedding in this situation is a valid choice. We’ve made the choice to go. Advising me not to go does nothing to answer my question about finding a babysitter in another city.

        And I didn’t say the reasons I’m not asking the wedding party to assist with me finding childcare for my child because I have decided to travel and celebrate with them has anything to do with trust.

        1. allathian*

          It’s perfectly legitimate to back out of an event you’ve accepted the invitation to if you can’t get a babysitter you trust.

          How much do you think you’re going to enjoy the wedding if you’re worried about your kid all the time?

              1. dot*

                That’s not really any of your business and the OP has specified several times what advice they’re looking for. Continuing down alternative paths at this point seems rude, disrespectful, and counterproductive.

                1. Other City Sitter?*

                  Thank you, dot. It’s wild to me how folks are jumping in saying not to do a thing we want to do just because we haven’t figured out all the (demonstrably feasible) logistics yet.

        2. Freya's Cats*

          Maybe this is also barking up the wrong tree, is so apologies, but is there a reason the kids have to come to the destination if they won’t be at the wedding anyway? Because to me the solution would be a sleepover for the children with family or friends close to home (or in your home with someone staying there) while you go away…

      3. anon_sighing*

        I don’t think there is anything about “trust” – my thought is the couple getting married has no children and thus wouldn’t be remotely helpful in referring to childcare. (And everyone in their wedding party is similar.) What is weird is that I am sure some of the local attendees (at least ONE) has kids that need to be babysat for this…

        My thoughts are if you host a child-free wedding, you should think of offering some options for the parents. As much as I love going to weddings, I made a choice to have my kids and to take care of them first – if I can’t do that, I can’t go to the wedding.

        1. Jackalope*

          Yeah, something along these lines. You can have a perfectly wonderful relationship with someone who is trustworthy and dependable and just… doesn’t know babysitters. Because they have no kids, because their kids are the wrong age and (for example) they don’t know anyone who babysits infants which is what you have (general you; no idea about the kids for the person who started this thread), because the babysitters they know are already coming to the wedding, because the wedding is not in the exact town where they live (thread OP said it’s not a destination wedding, but if it’s outside the town where the engage couple lives then they might not know anyone there who babysits…),…. There are so many reasons that you could be close to someone who doesn’t happen to have expertise in this particular area in this particular location.

    10. Melody Pond*

      I had the SAME experience with Care.com – posting a listing without my permission, and then after seeing it was live and being notified of applicants, realizing it would cost $40 to actually engage with anyone or even view applications. Kind of misleading!!

      That said, I have found local Facebook groups to work really well. Searching for groups by “[city name] Nannies” or similar might help.

    11. ampersand*

      Just wanted to say I had the same experience recently with care.com—the site kind of tricks you into posting an ad, which they did not used to do. I was likewise very put off by this.

      I’ve heard that Care is actually the best of these sites, which is disappointing given their tactics. I recommend checking with the hotel you/other guests are staying at to ask about sitters.

    12. Llama Llama*

      My friend runs a mom’s group from what I take as a family friendly app called Peanut. I think it’s like Facebook. Maybe you can find something there?

      Good luck!! I hope you find a sitter. There have been lots of weddings I would have loved to attend but couldn’t because of my kids.

    13. WestsideStory*

      If it’s New York City try the Babysitters Guild.
      They provide child care in your hotel room and are top notch. They’ve been around since the 1940s and most concierges know about them.

  14. Socks*

    Have you ever received a gift that was perfectly fine viewed in a vacumn, but when taken in context was hilariously inappropriate?

    When I went off to camp at the impressionable age of 14, living in a small cabin with seven girls, my mom packed some light reading for me: Lord of the Flies.

    Years later, studying for the Bar exam and feeling desperate and panicky, I received a gift from my aunt: A set of very long, very sharp knives.

    Your turn!

    1. Slinky*

      About ten years ago, I had to have surgery to remove a pre-cancerous spot of skin. This is a sort of medium-sized surgery. It’s more extensive than just removing a mole but can still be done under a local anesthetic. The recovery is still pretty painful.

      The surgeon was near my dad’s house, so I stayed with him before and for a couple days after. As a get-well present, he bought me a vegetable peeler because he knows I like cooking. It’s a kind of strange present, anyway (flowers would be the more common gift in the circumstance), but a bladed object for removing the skin of an object for someone recovering from a skin excision was … odd.

      1. Lexi Vipond*

        I initially read this as the surgeon buying you a sharp present, but on rereading I think it was your dad, which is a bit less odd :-D

    2. Jm*

      This is a great question. My mom was ‘Mrs. Clean’ and I am not an excellent housekeeper. She was also fiscally conservative. Many years ago I got a vacuum cleaner for Christmas and in spite of the light use it got, that sucker didn’t last a year

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      My boyfriend’s mother got me a silk negligee for my birthday. My 20th birthday. I had been dating her son for a few months.

    4. Chaordic One*

      In the past I’ve gifted my sisters with cosmetics (new and unopened moisturizers and makeup), things that I liked and that I wished someone would have bought for me. Anyway, my sisters were insulted and thought I was inferring that they looked old. (One of the sisters had recently gone through a divorce.) In retrospect, I can see their point, although it was certainly not my intention. Lesson learned. Never gift anyone with cosmetics.

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      A friend of a friend gave me a book about the History of Ireland “because you like history.”

      What made it hilariously inappropriate was that this was a book for tourists that was sort of a very basic introduction to Irish history and I am a history teacher in Ireland.

      1. GermanGirl*

        I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in math and you won’t believe how many books with interesting but mostly useless facts about numbers I’ve gotten over the years “because you like math”. I feel you.

    6. goddessoftransitory*

      Heh, it wasn’t a gift from a person, but our local grocery!

      Basically, a cutlery company had been running a giveaway promotion: if you spent so many dollars, you got so many points towards one of their many kinds of knives. Husband, the dummy, apparently knew about this the whole time it was running but never mentioned it.

      Well, we’re in there, tossing our groceries on the conveyor belt and the cashier says hey, it’s the last day of this contest and you have a gazillion points; head on over and get your giant pile of knives!

      We were hustled over to the display and just basically forcibly loaded down with knives–every time we were oh, that’s enough weaponry, really the nice lady would say but you’ve got so many points left, here’s a cleaver!

      We got out of there basically loaded to take down an entire D&D campaign’s worth of orcs and goblins.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      One year at Christmas, we all got hot stone massage kits from a relative. It grew funnier and funnier as each person opened the box to find the kit. But it kind of hurt my feelings. Since you can’t physically give yourself a hot stone back massage, it was a great gift for all the couples, but not so much for the singleton.

    8. Girasol*

      As I reached my young teens my grandmother recognized my young adulthood by sending a gift of real grown-up pantyhose. I was a bit undersized for my age but Grandma was downright tiny. Knowing I was bigger than she was, she sent me the most humongous size she could find, which gave me a whole new and rather alarming perspective on growing up.

  15. Anon Singer*

    I have an etiquette question for dealing with adults. How do you get them to be quiet???

    I’m in a community chorus and some of the singers will. Not. Stop. Talking. While the conductor is talking, in between songs, at ANY time.

    Let’s say we sing measures 1-20, and the conductor stops us to review how to do something. Talktalktalk. We start again and he pauses us. Talktalktalk. Throughout the whole rehearsal.

    The conductor is constantly telling people to stop talking and they ignore him. I’m assuming he doesn’t make people leave because we’re all adults and it’s a voluntary activity and people could just drop out if he’s too harsh.

    Meanwhile it’s extremely disrespectful to him, and it’s hard to hear him if you’re sitting near talkers. (And they’re everywhere in my section.)
    Any tips how to get the talkers to STOP?

    1. tangerineRose*

      Would it work if you explained that you can’t hear the conductor, and will they be more quiet?

    2. Jean (just Jean)*

      Appoint someone as the Enforcer, and give that person a steam whistle. (Okay, I’m kidding. Mostly.)

    3. Roland*

      Conductor needs to make it more awkard for them. Stop talking if people are being too loud/distracting, and tell them by name to please be quiet. I’d also appoint section leaders to be responsible for doing the same.

      If adults are gonna act like kids they get the kiddy treatment.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I agree if the conductor is not the type to shush people, he might appoint section leaders. Make sure these are well liked and respected people, not the kind of (sorry) busybody who generally volunteers for such roles. Ideally, section leaders will even be voted by the group (but the conductor will have oversight over the choice of nominees or otherwise ensure they’re not the actual chatty cathies). You could also have a chat corner that’s away from the practice area before/after so that people can fill their social cup; section leaders can redirect to the chat session. Many people probably *are* there mostly to socialize.

        1. GermanGirl*

          Yes, give enough time to socialise before/after/during break if you have one, and ask people to save their talking for the break.

      2. Anon Singer*

        I wish he’d do some of these things. And unfortunately, the most likely person for section leader is one of the talkers!

    4. Quandong*

      It’s up to the conductor to pull them into line – and if he doesn’t, and there are no consequences for the talkers, I’d recommend finding a different group with the kind of culture and rehearsal etiquette that works better for you.

      I’m sorry, it happens in other music ensembles too, and if the authority figure doesn’t stop the talkers there’s nobody else who can achieve silence.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        The conductor has to do it and s/he has to do it loudly and firmly. If it persists he has to basically scold a bit and explain that it is rude and wastes time “we have two more rehearsals before the concert and if I spent a third of each one shushing you, the Lacrimosa is going to be a hot mess, so button it the lot of you”.

    5. o_gal*

      As a joke, maybe you could get a few people throughout the chorus in on this: Appoint one person to cue the others. When you stop, and the conductor is talking, and The Evil Chorus starts up, they give the cue. At once, you all start singing “Please stop talking! Please stop talking! Stop talking! Stop talking! Stop ta-a-al-king!” Sung to the first few stanzas of The Hallelujah Chorus.

    6. Pam Adams*

      In university settings, a common practice is to enforce quiet by everyone raising their hands, leaving the talkers to realize they are out of step. This only works if the majority want quiet or the leader can enforce it.

      1. Team9to5*

        Teacher move for the conductor: say the first few words of what you plan to say, then pause and wait to continue until everyone is silent. Pair with looking at the talker until they realize nothing will happen until they stop talking. It usually only takes a short moment for people to catch on.

        If talker remains oblivious for more than ten seconds, conductor should call out their name. “[insert name], can I have your attention for a moment?”

    7. Rachel*

      I think this is a problem inherent to hobby groups and, to a certain extent, volunteer groups.

      Some people view the group as primarily social with the hobby or interest in the background.

      Some people view the group as primarily hobby or interest with social aspects nil or non-existent.

      This comes up very often at book clubs. It can be really hard to change the tide of a group if you are in the minority viewpoint. You can perhaps chip away at it during specific times, but you won’t be able to get them to stop entirely any more than they will be able to get you to participate socially more fully.

      I am sorry this happened to you, it’s a thing I’ve seen before and it can be really sad.

      1. Anon Singer*

        Yes, the voluntary part is a big part of it. The thing is, I enjoy the social part before and after. It’s just that when we start, it’s time to shut up and sing! So exasperating!

    8. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Specifically for choir: section leaders who are willing and able to both intervene in the moment and/or a conductor who will simply stand still and do nothing until it’s quiet. If I sat near someone like this I’d have no trouble saying “I can’t hear the conductor. Could you stop talking?” repeatedly, but then I’m old and cranky.

      In other groups I’ve had success with the approach Pam Adams suggests – one person raises her hand and everyone who sees it gets quiet and raises their hands. You have to establish this as a norm among some segment of the group, so someone in leadership (is there Board leadership?) would need to announce that this will be a thing from now on.

      1. eeeek*

        In our groups, the instant the meeting leader needs to call the group together, they tap or clap or snap their fingers. Those who notice, do so, too. It usually takes only 5 tap/clap/snaps to get people focused…but of course, the chatters get annoyed that they were so rudely interrupted.

    9. NaoNao*

      Maybe they need a designated talking time. With fewer and fewer “third place” and social options, it makes sense that people are excited to be out and about and in person. Is it an option to approach the worst offenders and schedule a pre-sing coffee or a post-session “coffee talk and review our session” but really just to socialize?

    10. I need coffee before I can make coffee*

      I have experienced this, too (both in church and community choirs). Even worse, in addition to talking, people (usually guys) would sing along with with whatever section the director was working with – very frustrating and disrespectful (and frankly embarrassing to me). It was ridiculous that the director had to tell guys in the bass section not to sing along with the sopranos! I spoke up a few times, but the director is the one who has to shut it down.

    11. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Wish I knew but please accept a fist bump of solidarity– we’ve got the same problem in my choir. One of the usual suspects has Main Character Syndrome and gets an attitude when asked to stop talking when the director is talking because “well excuse me, I was just asking Prunella what this symbol means because I don’t understand it!” … when the director is in the middle of explaining what the symbol means. Pointed “SHHH”ing works in the moment but… yeah.

      1. Anon Singer*

        That’s exasperating everywhere in life! People who drown out an explanation to ask for an explanation!!

    12. Cardboard Marmalade*

      I recently sat in on a rehearsal with a chatty group, and the conductor’s strategy was pretty effective in that he just talked less himself. If he wanted the chorus to fix something, he just asked then to repeat the section again without explaining why. (At the beginning of the rehearsal he explained that he was doing this on purpose and the rain was that at least half the time, the chorus would fix the problem on their own without him having to say anything at all.) If there are less breaks in general, everyone will get more into the idea that they’re there to sing, not to talk.

      1. Cardboard Marmalade*

        And just to add, there is a big talk-and-snacks break in the middle of each rehearsal, so people can get their talking out then. By “if there’s less breaks” I meant during the “we are singing now” portions. I agree with other commenters that having more time intentionally set aside FOR talking also helps with letting people get that it of their systems.

  16. Liminality*

    Hostess gift for a tea party?
    My sister’s mother in law hosts a yearly Tea Party. Like, a real one, with multiple kinds of actual tea, cucumber sandwiches and tea cakes. I was invited last year and had a charming time. All signs point to a repeat invitation and I’d like to bring a hostess gift.
    I’m not sure if she drinks, I know nothing about wine. What other kinds of things do you think might be appropriate?

    1. Virtual Light*

      Really classy shortbread for her later consumption? Walker’s brand in a tin might well be sufficient, or if you bake you could make some. (My impression is that Walker’s is a bit north of average store-bought shortbread, but it’s not like hard to find. Fancier stuff doubtless exists but might be a bit local.)

      1. Not A Manager*

        Shortbread is dead easy. You can find lots of recipes online. I’ll post one as a reply. Another “tea” themed option would be a nice cordial. Or some fancy teas!

    2. RLC*

      Small but elegant tablecloth? New or vintage depending on what you’ve observed of her style.

    3. Vanessa*

      Grape shears! It’s a small decorative scissors solely for neatly serving grapes by neatly sniping a small bunch from the larger bunch.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      Tea Forté leans into this with their tea assortments. Locally available at my farm stand and the wine and cheese shop.

      I could see tea feeling too laden (she presumably has Feelings about good and bad tea), and if so then a small box of good chocolates is a classic for a reason.

    5. Vanilla latte with extra foam*

      One of my favorite (and well-received) hostess gifts are candles from Candleberry Candle Company. They have a ton of great scents to choose from and last forever. As a bonus, the shipping is quick and they take extra care to package them well.

      You know it’s a good gift when the host or hostess wants to know where you bought it! :)

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I would smile warmly, say “thank you so much!” and stick it in the garage. We don’t do scents in this house. If you know for sure that they do, then it’s a lovely idea.

      2. Bluebell*

        I love candles as a concept, but then I try to light one and my lungs yell at me. So I’d also put candles in the category of only if you know. Shortbread is a lovely idea, and so is a smallish tea selection. Maybe a nice tea towel?

    6. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      I like the idea of a nice box of mixed chocolates, with a note prominently stating for her to enjoy later (ie., don’t put them out now)!

    7. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

      I like the idea of a fancy cookie like maybe a box of macarons or something with marzipan. Or chocolates are always a good gift.

    8. Lissajous*

      A good jam, of the not mass produced variety. Ideally the home-made sort, found at a farmer’s market or church stall or school bake sale, and bonus points if it’s an interesting fruit mix or type that you never see in supermarkets.

      It fits the tea party theme (scones and jam and cream, the Devonshire tea classic – or Cornwall tea, depending on the the order of the jam and the cream), and it doesn’t have to be used on the day and will keep for ages.

  17. Rufus Bumblesplat*

    Any advice on what to include in a kid’s activity pack for a wedding? The kids are aged 3-10 (there is one 13 year old, but I’m thinking she might find an activity pack too childish).

    1. Sage*

      if you will be outside for some of the day, bubble blowing tubes were a hit at our wedding! we also printed off some wedding themed colouring in sheets from the Internet and included pencils and crayons.

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        We do have outdoor space at the venue (I’m hoping we’re lucky enough to have reasonable weather so we can hold the ceremony outside). Thanks for the suggestions!

        1. Sloanicota*

          I’d say make sure to offer the higher-energy toys *after* the ceremony, as a 3 year old will run around screaming during the solemn part if given bubbles to play with. And if you go with bubbles, the 13 year old may in fact be charmed! (I’ve seen bubbles given to adult attendees so it’s not as if everyone doesn’t love bubbles).

          1. allathian*

            I’ve been to two weddings where instead of rice, guests were given bubble-blowing kits to cheer the happy couple on when they exited the church.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      Craft stores probably have packets with strings of wax–I think Wiki Stix?–that are oh so fidgetable.

      Fuzzy pipe cleaners, also at the craft store, are similarly fun to bend around.

      Both of the above do not make a noise or mess.

      When my kids were young (they are in graduate school) there was an excellent series of maze books built around the idea that two kids were going on an adventure, each step of which involved solving a two-page maze spread. A quick google isn’t turning up a title, but if you have a good children’s book store near you it would be worth going in and asking for guidance–they usually have a puzzle book section.

    3. Still*

      Definitely make sure there is a pack for the 13yo! She’s still a kid. Granted, she might decide not to use it, but maybe she’ll enjoy it and would secretly be sad not to get one, if the 10yos were getting them (ESPECIALLY if one of the younger kids is her sibling). Especially if it includes colouring or something crafty. I definitely would have wanted something like that at 13. She might decide she’s too old for it, but don’t make that decision for her.

      1. Aniima*

        Heck, I’m 36, and when my step-nieces and nephews got coloring pages at the last family function, I wanted one, too! SiL gave me a more detailed one. Good thing to bond with them, too, I imagine that will also work between a 13 year old and some 10 year olds…

      2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Thank you for this, I’ll make one up for her too. I don’t know the 13yo very well (and she does have a younger sibling) and wouldn’t want her to feel left out.

    4. Peanut Hamper*

      Maybe those miniature versions of an Etch-a-Sketch? They will last longer than the wedding and maybe help them remember it.

    5. Anono-me*

      I suggest colored pencils not crayons. We had crayons at an event and one guest let their child color on the walls.

      We had ribbons on sticks at our wedding. as the ceremony site discouraged rice, birdseed and bubbles. The kids played with those at the reception quite a bit.

      1. CanadaGoose*

        Crayons – and not colored pencils – come in “ultra-washable” versions now, so if mess is a concern, I’d suggest the washable crayons! (mom of a 4 year old, who is encouraged to draw on the walls AFTER I tape some paper on it.)

      2. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        I was thinking of the Crayola washable markers so that any overly enthusiastic colouring is easy to remove. :)

    6. Llellayena*

      We’re not limiting it to kids, but we’re going to have legos, lawn games (safe things to throw), board games and various other distractions. My site unfortunately won’t allow bubbles. :(

      1. Rufus Bumblesplat*

        Oh, that’s a point. I’ll double check our contract. I know we’re not allowed confetti, but I think bubbles are fine.

      2. CanadaGoose*

        Excellent ideas! Dress-up items like crowns, capes, magic wands, silly glasses and/or dance ribbons would also help the group play together.
        At my wedding, we did mad libs for everyone.

        Indoors, custom puzzles would be fun (eg. A 200-500 piece puzzle of an engagement photo)

    7. Rosey*

      The last time I babysat my nieces (ages 6 and 8), “rainbow pencils” were a huge hit (I got them each a five-pack of the Koh-I-Noor Magic FX Pencils, but there’s different brands if you start looking up swirl/multi-colored pencils). They also really liked Lego Dots bracelet kits.

    8. Shiara*

      At a recent wedding I attended, the two kids in attendance were provided with a coloring book and crayons, a magnifying glass and scavenger hunt, and a disposable camera. We didn’t actually develop any of the pictures our preschooler took, but it certainly kept him entertained.

  18. Bibliovore*

    Sick with the flu and a respiratory infection. Too sick to read or think. Tired of soup. Anyone have any distracting TV to stream? Light nothing to heavy. I have Netflix, Disney, Paramount, Hulu, Apple plus and Prime.
    (I know, left over from the lock downs)
    For scale NCIS seemed perfect the last few days but I am caught up on all iterations.

    I have never watched any of the “Chicago” police/fire etc shows. Should I do that?

    1. RussianInTexas*

      Resident Alien on Netflix for Alan Tudyk being hilarious. Lone Star 911 on Hulu for the ridiculous plots.

      1. Anonymous cat*

        Seconding Resident Alien! And first season has an actual mysterious murder that’s a bit different.

      2. Filosofickle*

        I’m really struggling with how awkward he is! It makes sense for the character but my cringe meter is on overload.

        1. Anonymous cat*

          I was amazed at how good he was at physically acting awkward in a human body. I knew he could do funny from other things but didn’t know he could do such physical acting!

    2. WellRed*

      The Rookie is on Hulu, nice blend of humor with police work drama. And Nathan million is pretty charming.

      1. Tortally HareBrained*

        I found myself absolutely sucked into The Rookie last year. Fully able to acknowledge how over the top it is, but also appreciate how the cast interacts throughout the seasons.

    3. Falling Diphthong*

      Seconding Slow Horses on Apple.

      Blown Away on Netflix (glass-blowing competition).

      If you would do a month’s BritBox subscription on Amazon, Death in Paradise is truly the ideal show to watch while lying on the couch feeling crappy.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Blow Away won’t take long and is totally worth it.

        I don’t where it’s streaming – I don’t watch medical shows (I’m a doc and just – no) and I still have enjoyed a few episodes of Chicago Med in part because I’m a sucker for Oliver Platt who plays a psychiatrist.

        If you have SHO as part of your Paramount Plus subscription, and completely different from what you’ve mentioned, Couples Therapy is the only relationship reality show I’ve watched and I found it completely addictive.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Hee, my dad would just EXPLODE at House–“There is NO WAY he wouldn’t lose his privileges! NO admin would put up with this crap!”

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            Absolutely not. We suspend privileges after 30 days of not charting at my hospital.

          2. Jay (no, the other one)*

            OMG. In my “spare” time I do training in communication skills. The promos for “House” made me want to run for the hills. I really did not want to spend my limited downtime watching some arrogant male doc behave like an ass. I get enough of that when I’m being paid.

          3. beware the shoebill*

            House is so terrible, which is a shame because Hugh Laurie is amazing and hilarious.

    4. Llellayena*

      CSI and Law & Order and all their variations? That should give you enough content to get you through anything!

    5. Bluebell*

      I don’t watch many cop shows, but have enjoyed Queen Latifah’s Equalizer (cbs) and Will Trent (abc). Strongly agree w the recs for Bad Sisters and Slow Horses. Hijack on Apple TV is a great 8-10 ep watch. For sitcoms, Brooklyn 99 is very funny and there are 6-7 seasons.

    6. Jay*

      -YouTube reaction videos for classic comedies. It might seem odd, but, it’s the best ‘brain dead’ entertainment I’ve ever found!
      -If you can find it, Police Squad!, the TV show that began the Naked Gun franchise.
      -Reacher
      -If you like non-traditional Superhero stuff, try She-Hulk and Peacemaker.
      -The stranger sort of ‘Reality-ish’ TV. Things like Mystery At Blind Frog Ranch, Swamp People: Serpent Invasion, Naked And Afraid, Expedition X.
      -This will NOT be for everyone, but if you like it, it is pure magic: Mountain Monsters and it’s greatest watch-along podcast, Bigfeets. Mountain Monsters is the greatest worst ‘not even close to reality’ TV show of all time. It’s the ‘so bad it’s amazing pro-wrestling’ of the monster hunting genera. The podcast is done by the geniuses at 1-900-HOTDOG, the last of the great internet humorists who have banded together for survival in the era of the A.I. Listicle. That’s not a joke, that’s who they really are. There is also an old colleague of theirs, Jason Pargin, a New York Times best selling author. Bigfeets might just be the single funniest thing going on in English language media at this point in history. The humor is often very off color and requires you to have at least a passing familiarity with Mountain Monsters, but, the only reason I can listen to it at work is that I work in the company shop, far away from everybody else, so nobody can hear me laughing my head off.

        1. Filosofickle*

          I just finished a rewatch of Royal Pains, which ran alongside Psych as part of the quirky “characters welcome” era of USA Network. That included White Collar as well. All solid light funny shows.

    7. just here for the scripts*

      Murdoch mysteries is on Hulu and there are 17 seasons so it should last for a while :)

      Takes place in Toronto in 1897 and is very cozy

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Murdoch Mysteries cast a “shhhh” spell on me; I watched one, and then just kept going in a dreamy haze. My, the lead is good looking.

    8. Texan In Exile*

      I love the Chicago series. They’ve lost some energy in the last seasons, but the early ones are wonderful. Chicago Med is my favorite.

    9. Warrior Princess Xena*

      I really like cooking shows for this – MasterChef or Worst Cooks in America. Little to no plot, enough talking so that you can keep up with what’s going on even if you’re not staring at the screen, pretty light hearted.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      Ugh, flu. I recommend Death in Paradise on Prime. Funny and easy to stare at vaguely.

    11. Girasol*

      If I’m sick it has to be really light. I’d flick through the kiddie and classic options and find some old favorite show with a plot that I knew well enough that I wouldn’t get lost if I dozed off. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe, Star Wars…stuff like that.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      The Great on Hulu is a good binge. It’s a three-season, very tongue-in-cheek “historical” show about Catherine the Great of Russia that stars Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult as Catherine and Peter. It has some emotional moments but it’s also very funny — lots of silliness, cursing, and court shenanigans. Think Bridgerton but if everyone were wildly drunk.

      I loved it. Unfortunately it was canceled for a fourth season, but the ending is okay for closure. That’s the only suggestion I have right now, but I hope you feel better soon.

    13. Bibliovore*

      took meds.
      neighbor brought me lunch.
      other neighbors walked the dog.
      Put on So Help me Todd and…
      I slept and slept and slept.
      Had a yogurt smoothie and toast with lemon curd.
      Going to start Bad Sisters.

    14. Mrs. Frisby*

      I have been delighted by The Traitors on Peacock lately. I think it would be perfect sick watching–light and campy and silly, with Alan Cumming as an excellent host.

  19. Apartment Seeker*

    I’m moving to the Boston area for a new job and need advice about how to find an apartment. I don’t know the area and I’ve been a home owner for decades, so haven’t done a housing search in a long time. I’ll be renting. What are good sites, etc. for apartment listings? Thanks!

    1. Camelid coordinator*

      We just went through something similar and looked for apartments on Zillow. Then a realtor recommended via the job we are moving for checked out a place we were interested in and FaceTimed us. Hope this helps and good luck!

    2. Team9to5*

      Within the city and nearby suburbs, it’s a very hot market and things will get taken within a day of posting. Use Zillow and Craigslist and email/call right away when you see a posting you might like. Schedule a tour for the next day, if possible.

      Most rental units turn over on September 1, due to the nearby schools. Be prepared to start searching now if you want to be in Boston proper, and in May/June for nearby suburbs. Most units are advertised by brokers, so plan to pay upfront first+last+security+broker’s fee (4x monthly rent total). Luxury buildings are exceptions to these rules (yay, no broker’s fee!), so if you have the budget, they are far easier to rent from.

      It will be hard to find any units under 2K/month in the area, so consider roommates if you have a lower budget.

      Good luck, and welcome to the area! :)

      1. RentingNearBoston*

        Correction: it will be hard to find a closet for less than $3k/month unless you go pretty far away from the city. If you need/want public transit expect at least an extra $500/month.

    3. Dotted & Striped*

      You’ll want to make sure you consider your commute, traffic can be a pretty bad. Apartments[dot]com is also a helpful site. Generally you’ll need first months rent, last months rent, security deposit, and brokers fee (sometimes apartments don’t have a brokers fee but not often). Good apartments generally go fast so it may be helpful to come in for a weekend and apartment search and sign a lease on the spot.

    4. Llellayena*

      Hotpads dot com! The rent side of Zillow is good too, but Hotpads was made specifically for renters. I haven’t needed to look at it for over a decade so hopefully it’s still as good as it was. I got my last apartment through them and ended up staying for 11 years.

      1. Alex*

        Seconding hotpads! I live in the Boston area and found my apartment there. I found it the most user-friendly site.

        Also, seconding the consideration of the commute. Commutes are VERY SPECIFIC so if you need to get from your home to anyplace else on a regular basis, make sure you know how you will get there before you sign the lease. Miles mean nothing–traffic and/or MBTA behavior is everything. Also make sure you know the parking situation, if you have a car. For example, in Brookline and some other surrounding towns, you need an off-street parking space because there is no overnight parking allowed on the street.

        Also, as a warning, the Allston/Brighton area is VERY STUDENT heavy and can be, depending on the exact location, kind of loud and boisterous with students. Same with some areas in Somerville right next to Tufts.

    5. Jay*

      The company I work for employs people in the Boston area (and several other places it can be difficult to rent in).
      Our recruiters keep a list of contacts at buildings our people have lived in in recent past. This can help a LOT with getting people in the door.
      Check with your new company/recruiter. They may have similar connections, or at least be able to point you in a useful direction.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I just did this last year. Everything everyone has said.

      I used Apartments.com and also contacted some realtors — it’s really helpful to have someone here who can go look at the apartment for you so you can decide quickly. Make sure they can do a walkthrough via Zoom or take video so you can actually see what you’re getting into. If you can swing it, you might want to do what Dotted & Striped suggested and come up for a weekend to look in person.

      If you’re working in the city, you will want to be close to transit. My office building has parking underneath but it’s like $30 a DAY, and traffic here is bonkers, plus the streets are basically tangled spaghetti. I’m an hour commute from my downtown office and my apartment is only 450 square feet. I was super lucky to get something with off-street parking too. I don’t know what you can afford, but coming from a house, you’ll most likely have to cut your possessions down quite a bit.

      It’s a lot, but I like Boston and I hope you will too. Good luck!

  20. L. Ron Jeremy*

    Has anyone here been impacted by the Unitedhealth, Change Healthcare ransom hack in late February that has disabled transactions between doctors, insurance companies and pharmacies?

    My wife and I were not able to get our prescriptions refilled in early March and it really created a panic in my household as these medications are required daily. I take a benzo every night for sleep and I was just barely able to keep going because if I don’t take it then it is life-threatening.

    1. Nicki Name*

      Mr. Name paid the retail price for a prescription refill shortly after the hack because our pharmacy couldn’t look up his insurance coverage. Luckily it wasn’t very expensive.

      I work for a healthcare-adjacent company, where we are all watching nervously as the situation edges closer and closer to flat out shutting down a big chunk of the US healthcare system.

    2. fhqwhgads*

      I was in the hospital when it happened and it made it so they couldn’t bill my insurance for my go-home-with-these prescriptions so I had to pay out of pocket. Luckily, the prescriptions in question were something like $20 each at “full” price so I just paid it and carried on, but if it had been a major expense I don’t know exactly what would’ve happened.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      It hasn’t impacted me personally, but it’s been huge for my workplace.

  21. Vanilla latte with extra foam*

    I am going to the KY Derby this year (yay!). I have gained some weight in the past year and am having trouble finding something to wear. I rarely wear dresses anymore. I carry my weight in my bust and belly, so dress shopping is even more fun, lol. I know I should stick to a line, sheath, and wrap dresses.

    I am having a really hard time finding a dress and was curious if anyone here has any recommendations. TIA!

    1. Reba*

      Perhaps a jumpsuit? I see a lot that have loose/blousey fit and a little elastic at the waist.

      Once you have your outfit settled you can start working on your hat :)

      It can be hot and your will be on your feet a lot, so give a thought to your footwear too.

    2. Old and Don’t Care*

      I’m built like you, and sheath dresses do not work on me at. all. I try on a lot of dresses, consider it a gift from the heavens if I find one that fits and looks good, and usually end up with a skirt and top. Which is fine for almost all occasions.

    3. NaoNao*

      I’ve heard great things about Anthropologie’s “Somerset” dress working for many body types. I think the key is a blousy/loose mid-section perhaps with a fuller skirt but a fitted bodice. I also really like Farm Rio for their breezy, often very forgiving, sundresses.

    4. Manders*

      I wore white jeans to the Derby, with a floral top. My friend wore a jumpsuit. I don’t love dresses, and I had worn one to Oaks the day before, so pants it was. (It was the rainiest Derby on record, and quite cold so I was pretty happy with my choice).

    5. Little John*

      I have seen multiple different women, who are built like you describe yourself, wear the “ombre star print smocked waist crepe dress” from eShakti and look great in it. I realize the color might be a bit nocturnal for wearing to a horse race, but you might want to see if the design looks like something you’d want to wear and then get it in another color.

    6. DreamOfWinter*

      Many of my female coworkers swear by BloomChic for dresses for bustier/apple shaped women. Everything I’ve seen in person is delightful.

  22. 2024*

    My question: the best way to approach my property mgr to get early termination on my apt lease.

    The situation: I have an opportunity to be a housemate for a wealthy and kind individual, who is well known to people I know, so it’s a safe thing. I live in a building that should be, and probably would be, condemned by the city whenever it gets inspected. Long list of deferred maint. I can’t cook at all here, the wiring won’t support a microwave, the range is ancient and unsafe, and he won’t replace it because he doesn’t want to spend the money. Ever.

    I recently found out that not having access to the breaker box is a federal violation. My water pressure in the shower is down to an energetic trickle, and was only at about half pressure to start with. Other things too, just assume that any part of this apt is old and worn out, and unsafe to various degrees. Same with the upstairs apt. When asked to fix anything, the owner starts talking about his own house, and tells us that what we have is fine. It’s incredibly frustrating and I am tired of living this way.

    I live in Florida. I just need advice on the path most likely to get them to release me from this place.

    1. WellRed*

      Well you could put in writing all of the issues particularly highlighting the ones that violate local rules and suggest since he’s (I assume) violating the terms if the lease that you mutually part ways (might be helpful to engage a lawyer on this, doesn’t need to be a big thing). Alternatively, you can report him to the appropriate city department and see how things shake out.

    2. Vanessa*

      Google “tenant rights Florida”
      They talk about minimum expectations and guidelines for action. Make sure everything is in writing. If you are calling write down what you are calling about and responses.
      It would probably be worth having legal support.

    3. Llellayena*

      Honestly, with that level of not-safe, I’d report the property to whatever department handles rental code violations. It sounds like the place will be declared unlivable and then you can say you’ll break the lease instead of forcing the landlord to pay for a hotel while upgrades are made. If it’s not reported, he’ll just rent the unsafe space to the next guy.

      1. 2024*

        I really do want to report to the city but… the upstairs neighbor is not in good financial straits either. If they condemn this building, what happens to her?

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Maybe join forces? Both of you are in a very, very tenable legal position to sue, frankly. I would contact your local renter’s rights organization and describe the situation for the both of you so you can recommend some outlets to her.

    4. CityMouse*

      This is not legal advice. Have you tried going to landlord tenant court? Some failures of repairs may violate the basic requirements for provided housing. Most parties in Landlord Tenant court are pro se, so it’s generally set up to be more approachable. Florida I know has lousy public access to legal assistance, unfortunately.

      1. 2024*

        No, I haven’t done anything like that. I’m just scared. If this other thing works out, I will be in a very good position. If not, I’m kind of screwed. And I will need a good reference from the property mgr.

    5. MMB*

      If you haven’t already, check your lease to see if there’s a buy out clause or lease break fee.

    6. Not A Manager*

      I would send a short, business-like, non-hostile letter (signature required) that says “for the following reasons, I am terminating my lease as of [date]:” and list every violation in bullet points. If it’s an actual legal violation, I’d put a citation next to it. If it’s part of habitability, like, say, insect infestation, I’d put when the issue started and how many times you’ve tried to resolve it.

      After all the bullet points, in your concluding paragraph, I’d say something like “because the above conditions constitute a breach of our lease terms [or breach of your duties as a landlord], I hereby terminate the lease as of [date]. I will leave the unit in excellent condition notwithstanding the above issues. You can mail my security deposit to [address].”

      You will not get your security deposit back, but that’s probably the least of your worries. I seriously doubt that the owner will pursue you for the remaining rent, but if he does you have some good defenses.

      BTW, I’m not playing lawyer in my language above and I don’t care whether the points are completely legally valid. What you want is to make it clear that letting you out of the lease is the path of least resistance for everyone. The landlord also isn’t a lawyer, probably; he’s a guy who wants an income stream without having to shell out a lot of money to get it. When you unilaterally terminate the lease AND make it clear that it will cost him money to fight it, he’s unlikely to fight.

      1. CityMouse*

        This is not wrong. Sometimes the fear of bigger problems will lead to someone just getting rid of you ad quickly as possible. Now they could call your bluff, but with a smaller setup like this maybe not.

    7. RagingADHD*

      How is he going to enforce it without taking legal action? It sounds like getting the court involved is the last thing he would want.

        1. CityMouse*

          I wonder if he actually has it (yes, he’s likely required to have it, but that doesn’t m3an he actually does).

          1. 2024*

            There is a property mgr. I am sure she does have it, but if he rented directly, I am sure he would not. It’s just that he “handles” his own repairs so I have contact with him, which is not that usual, I think.

            1. Emma*

              You could try contacting the property manager, and forward documentation of you requesting repairs and him refusing.

              Whatever you do, make sure you take extensive photos and videos of how you leave the place, as well of the issues he hasn’t addressed (mold, etc).

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Honestly, I’d report this guy; everything you are describing is illegal and horrifically unsafe. I promise you that you are being exposed to black mold at the very least, as well.

      Contact your local Renters Board (try your local city/county council for info) about being released from your lease, which he has absolutely no authority to enforce if what you’re saying is even a tenth accurate.

      1. 2024*

        There is mold here, on the ceiling. The roof leaked. And when I moved in there was an odd smell, like mildew. I just dont smell it anymore, I guess I have gotten used to it.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Okay, you need to bail as soon as possible and THEN deal with breaking the lease–get all your valuables out of there pronto.

          Mold is so, so dangerous to be around for extended periods of time.

    9. Maggie*

      List all the issues and why they’re illegal and then say all you want is out of your lease and they’ll probably just let you out

      1. 2024*

        I am hoping that will work. But I can’t go there until I get an answer on the new situation, which is still in the planning stages.

  23. From Munich to the Alps?*

    At very short notice, I’ll be on a trip for the place we don’t talk about on weekends in the coming week.
    I’ll be in Munich and could stay a day longer at the end of my trip. Never having been in the area before, I’d love to take a day trip to the Alps on that day! Is that feasable, though? A daytrip?
    And is there any place you would recommend I go for such a short trip? I won’t be able to bring hiking boots or other gear, so it would have to be more of a place where I can be close to the mountains without having to actually climb up them :D
    Any ideas and knowledgable opinions welcome!

    1. Some creative name*

      You can easily do that! Just take the train from Munich Central Station, it takes about an hour to get to the closest parts of the Alps. Tegernsee for example is one option. One hour by train, tickets is around 19€ and you don’t need any hiking gear if stay close to the lake. An other option would be the Walchensee. The mountains there are higher but you need a little longer to get there (1,5 – 2 hours), take the train from Munich to Kochel and then the bus. You could take the cable car to the Herzogstand (really nice view from up there but it can get crowded and you don’t need hiking gear if you stay between the mountain station and the restsurant). The Walchensee itself is also really beautiful.

      1. Aniima*

        Yes, this! This is my regular stomping ground if I’m in the area, though I get to be driven around, but I know there are trains. Walchensee is beautiful, even in bad weather (have been there in summer to swim and in winter while it was quite rainy).

    2. Generic Name*

      You can do zugspitze! There is a cog rail and a cable car you can use to get to the top, and there is a restaurant/visitor center up there. The base of the mountain is acceccible by train from Munich. It’s a long day, but doable on a day.

      1. Anne Kaffeekanne*

        And the Eibsee below the Zugspitze is gorgeous too and has a lovely walking trail going around!

    3. Myrin*

      My hometown is at the foot of the Alps (and in fact, they “start” about two three metres from our house) and we get literally thousands of tourists every year who are actually vacationing in Munich but take day trips out here. I won’t say where exactly because that would be really doxxing myself but the general region and way to get there has already been mentioned in this thread.

    4. Freya's Cats*

      As others have said: totally doable by train. You can even get to Neuschwanstein in about 3 hours one way, but there are pretty Alpine destinations closer than that.

    5. From Munich to the Alps!*

      Aaaawww thank you everyone! This is so great to know!
      Both Tegernsee and Wachlensee seem definitely doable – with the cable car at Wachlensee a definite plus :D
      Zugspitze is tempting, too! I don’t think I’ll have luggage space for warm enough clothes, though, so maybe another time! (The reason for me travelling to Munich could become a semi-regular one if all goes well in the coming week)
      Thank you all very much for weighing in and reassuring me that such a day trip is doable! I had been worried I was underestimating the distance and setting myself up for an unbearably long day but now am really looking forward to ending my surprise w*rk trip on such a literal high!

  24. StudentA*

    What spaghetti or marinara sauce have you found to be the most natural tasting? I need something ready made that doesn’t taste cheaply made.

      1. Jay*

        Seconded!
        It’s been my go-to for years.
        If you get a basic Marinara or Fra-Diablo sauce, you can kick it up a little by adding things like fresh celery, peppers, onion, garlic, etc. Maybe peperoni and/or Italian sausage. Even a can of stewed tomatoes.
        It gives you something that tastes fresh and homemade with much less effort.

      2. Kay*

        This. Especially if you add in some fresh tomatoes, sliced carrots, celery, zucchini, onion, basil, whatever you prefer. It is good as is and you can doctor it to whatever level you need.

    1. Dannie*

      Everyone will say Rao’s (and it’s also the favorite of America’s Test Kitchen) but I don’t like it. Also worth noting is that Washington Post did a blind taste test about a year ago, and while Rao’s came first, Trader Joe’s Tomato Basil Marinara also did really well. I don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, so I can’t personally recommend it.

      Per my own taste buds, my first pick is Mia’s Kitchen, second pick is Michael’s of Brooklyn.

      1. Filosofickle*

        Huge fan of the TJ’s tomato basil. I made my own sauce for years or heavily doctored the better jarred sauces and then I found out I could pay like $3 for that and it’s really solid.

    2. MissB*

      I prefer Trader Joe’s basil marinara. It’s $1.99/jar. Doesn’t taste cheap. Nice thick tasty sauce.

    3. carcinization*

      Muir Glen, but before that I bought Classico. Neither are super-sweet like Prego/Ragu.

    4. WestsideStory*

      When I need to make vast quantities of lasagna I use Classico. Most jarred sauces are too sweet but that can be fixed by adding a bit of wine vinegar.
      At Italian restaurants, asking for “oil and vinegar” cruets and using some vinegar is also my trick for restaurant sauces that are too sweet. No point in ruining a good chicken parm.

  25. Falling Diphthong*

    Does anyone else feel that the surface area of their pets is not in sync with the amount of pet hair they sweep/vacuum/roller each week?

    1. Nicki Name*

      Mostly no, but our Siamese cat who recently passed always had an amazing ability to cover a vet tech in fur in just a few minutes if they had to take him into the back room to do a blood draw. We would joke that it was like a squid producing an ink cloud to escape.

    2. Generic Name*

      Ha ha, I have a tiny cat who requires a good brushing about once or twice a year. The amount of hair I get off could make another entire cat.

    3. Anono-me*

      I had a golden retriever who was a giant floof. Every weekly grooming, my neighbor would comment on the amount of shed fur. Mind you the is the neighbor who had limited out on pets , including two Saint Bernards.

    4. Sitting Pretty*

      I got a robot vac in the fall. So I’m emptying the dustbin after every vacuum. It boggles my mind! It’s full the brim every time and it 98% dog hair. My little short-haired dog, all through the coldest winter months, still shedding her body weight in fur every 2 weeks.

    5. The OG Sleepless*

      I have a pit bull. She has very short hair; she’s practically naked. I have no idea how I find so much pit bull hair everywhere.

      1. A Girl Named Fred*

        SAME. I have a lab mix who may or may not have some pitbull in her, but when we were considering adopting her I was all, “She has short hair! Her belly’s bald! She probably won’t shed much at all.”

        I was so. Freaking. Wrong. I have no idea how she isn’t fully bald with as much hair as she sheds constantly lol (The week after we adopted her, a favorite dog grooming YouTube channel made the joke, “Labs only shed twice a year – once for the first six months, and again for the last six months.” Guess I should’ve done a little more research on that front before adopting her, but I don’t regret it at all.)

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          We used to have a mostly white pit bull mix with quite short hair. So I knew exactly which hairs were his. He was almost naked; you’d think he’d have wanted to hold those hairs!

    6. Sloanicota*

      This is the time of year my big mop of a mutt blows out his Spring coat and literal fluff bunnies start rolling across the floor like tumbleweeds no matter how recently I last swept up. Solidarity.

    7. Chaordic One*

      I used to feel that way about my late westie. The white fur always stood out against anything dark-colored which made it more obvious, but at least it was wiry and easy to pick up.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Not only does my vacuum pick up a whole dog several times a week… my (short-haired) buddy sheds more when he’s stressed and had to spend a long day in the car last week while it poured outside, so I have a whole other dog on my backseat floor (I managed to get most of it up from the seats themselves).

      He’s lying down in front of me right now and still has all his fur, so I don’t quite get it.

    9. Rara Avis*

      Yes. We have two medium-hair cats, and two more dust – bunny cats haunting the corners of the rooms and hiding under furniture.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      When my late Harvey was around, YES. You’d think he took on the shedding contract for a clowder of Persians, the level of fur on every surface. Now we just have Peanut who is a much shorter haired cat and the level has gone down exponentially.

    11. Llellayena*

      It’s not just a pet thing unfortunately. We find my hair everywhere…today one was stuck to the front door handle. And yes, there’s more hair around the house than on my head.

    12. the cat's ass*

      all the time! Pesrian cat, mucho hair. Exotic Persian cat, short hair but double coat, so twice as much hair. I comb them daily.

  26. Dannie*

    Anyone know of a free site/app that lets you fiddle with scale-accurate furniture placement in a room? I’m trying to renovate my home office, and I have zero spatial intelligence or ability to visually estimate sizes. Basically this type of project (along with parallel parking and packing suitcases) is My Personal Kryptonite. I’ve been trying to make rough models, but I’m still shopping for bookcases and a desk, and the world does not contain enough cardboard.

    1. Turnipnator*

      IKEA has a couple in browser room-builder widgets, but they’re generally geared towards specific modular products so you can see all the pieces you’d need to get the items you want.

      In terms of just arrangement I’ve had good luck with drawing a scale model of the room on graph paper – taking care to also locate and label windows, power outlets, doors, vents, etc, and separately cutting out to-scale representations of the furniture pieces I’m looking at (and labeling them, they’re basically all rectangles). The scale I’ve used is 3 inches to a square, so 4 squares is 1 foot. measuring to the nearest inch is close enough; I round down for room measurements and up for furniture. This is adjustable depending on your grid size though, I’d measure the room first and see how you can fit it on the page.

      Something I’ve found when doing this is that height doesn’t usually matter as much for possible arrangements, so a 2D top down view works to make sure furniture fits, leaves room for walking and opening doors, keeps vents clear, etc. I only worry about height if I have to put something under a window, and can deal with that on a case-by case basis.

    2. Cookies For Breakfast*

      We used Floorplanner to visualise rooms before we could move into our home. Setting up a room perimeter / walls might be a little fiddly (tbh my partner did most of that), but the great thing about it is there are models of actual pieces of furniture you can drop in, and you can change their sizes to your liking even if they are based on specific items from certain brands. I found it helpful to start getting an idea of shapes and colours.

      For our living room in particular, the mockup on the software was remarkably similar to how we arranged the room in reality. It was good fun, even for a design-challenged person like me!

      1. Perpetua*

        Seconding this! We just moved to a new rental that was mostly empty and Floorplanner was very helpful for planning and visualising the furniture we needed, while being pretty easy to use.

    3. Llellayena*

      Graph paper! Depending on room size, one square for every 4 or 6 inches is about right to see it. Locate doors (with swing direction!) and windows. Cut rectangles out for furniture and play!

    4. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My husband uses Sketchup. I think you have to create all the shapes you want – it has the tools to do it in scale. He says there’s a learning curve, and he also has some experience with CAD, so…maybe not?

  27. WellRed*

    I have buyers remorse. Finally bit the bullet and ordered online a new inexpensive pc laptop to get me by for the next couple years (I’ve always been a Mac user). It froze during setup and when I called support ( Best Buy) they said just return it. I did and then bought a different, more expensive in the store ($400 vs $170) because that was about the cheapest reasonable machine they had. It’s a lot bigger than I want and am frankly having trouble typing. If I had waited a day before using (I did my taxes and have entered other personal info) I would have returned it. I probably still could but I’d be nervous about them wiping it. Tell me the advantages of a bigger screen. Tell me I’ll get used to it? Tell me your why did I do that buy?

    1. Jay*

      Get yourself a nice Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, then never worry about the integrated ones again. In my experience, even expensive laptop keyboards and mice are terrible. I’ve used up to $1500.00 plus machines in the past and still opted for the $30.00 mouse/keyboard combo over the integrated one. I prefer to use a real monitor as well. That runs a bit more, but is well worth it. It also seems to increase the life-span of a laptop as some of the quickest to break things are simply unused.

    2. Chaordic One*

      There’s the obvious benefit of being able to adjust it to a larger, easier-to-read, font. I know people who pretty much get everything done on the internet with their phone and I really don’t know how they do it. Something that I like to do is have 2 windows open at the same time, side-by-side. I might watch a streaming video on one screen while reading something on the other one.

      I agree with Jay’s recommendations about getting a separate mouse, keyboard and monitor. (I seem to do fine with my laptop’s monitor and keyboard, but I definitely need a separate mouse.)

      1. WellRed*

        The need to file my taxes is what finally pushed me! That’s jus Not something I wanna do on my phone.

    3. Still*

      Can someone more tech-saavy advise on wiping the computer?

      It sounds like something you should be able to do yourself. I’m not an expert but I think the likelihood of someone even attempting to recover your data from the returned laptop is miniscule. There are way easier scams to get someone’s info!

      1. RLC*

        The computer or operating system manufacturer may have “factory reset/restore” guidance on their official website. Sometimes a search for “how to prepare your computer to gift or resell” will get you to that page. Had to do it a few years ago on a laptop I bought for a family member, they hated it so back to Costco it went after following Microsoft’s instructions.

    4. Part time lab tech*

      Isn’t there a return to factory settings somewhere in start up? I’d save onto a drive, delete everything then try that.

    5. beep beep*

      Bigger screens are awesome. You may get used to the keyboard, or you may need to get an external one that is more ergonomic for your needs, and that should be easy to set up.

      Factory reset of data should also be fairly easy. If you have an SSD, that should be that. If you have a hard drive and want to be really, really sure, you can ask if the Best Buy people will take the data drive out for you, and it can be physically destroyed. That’s not usually necessary, though, and they may not still take it back as a return.

    6. Observer*

      Tell me the advantages of a bigger screen

      Eyestrain. There is absolutely no doubt that bigger text is better for your eyes than smaller text.

      Get yourself an external wireless mouse. It makes things IMMENSELY better. An external keyboard is also a good idea, especially if you are going from a desktop to a laptop.

  28. Courageous cat*

    Any little daily games you like playing other than Wordle? (Not stuff like phone games.)

    I’ve recently gotten into NYT crosswords and then some of their other games, and then I play Globle as well. I’m not good enough for the Saturday crosswords yet so I need more stuff to play on weekends!

    1. fposte*

      Dordle, Quordle, and Quordle Sequence if you like the Wordle format; the last two are from Merriam-Webster, which has several other games as well. If you like Globle you might also like Worldle and Statele, and they have other games like Where Taken and When Taken, guessing geographical subjects of photographs.

      1. Myrin*

        I’m sorry but I’m howling at this comment! Like, intellectually, I realise despite never having heard of them that these are all real things, but on its face, it sounds like you’ve absorbed alien terminology!

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          *beep* do not be silly, fellow mammalian human. We use naught but modern Earthling terminologies.

    2. CTT*

      In the mornings I usually do Wordle, Box Office Game, and Cine2Nerdle to get my brain going. Vulture just started Cinematrix so I’m doing that too. (Can you tell I love movie trivia?)

    3. Indolent Libertine*

      I like the beta NYT game “Strands.” I also enjoy Wordle/Quordle/Sequence, and sudoku and KenKen. Spelling Bee also, and Wordscapes which is similar. Main puzzle is the NYT crossword, though.

    4. Falling Diphthong*

      I like Quordle and the related games (Sequence, Blossom, and a weekly crossword which is the right level for me). Octordle if I want to just go hard.

      My whole family currently play Connections and Wordle from NYT, and so can commiserate with each other that for example the Greek letter mu is pronounced “mew” not “moo.” Those plus Globle are the three I play every day.

      1. Rara Avis*

        I think the pronunciation depends on whether you’re thinking the Ancient Greek alphabet or the modern usage. I say “moo.”

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Interesting! We are all physics people who use mu in equations, not to speak Greek.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      Britannica has a bunch of general knowledge quiz games, which I occasionally get linked to from the Quordle site.

    6. I Have RBF*

      I play Number Crunch to keep my math brain working. Pretty simple, but it lets me know when I’m not awake enough to match up numbers.

    7. It's Wednesdays for me*

      I like the LA Times crossword! I don’t think it’s as hard as the NYT and you can access puzzles from the last couple of weeks. There’s a feature where you can share the puzzle with someone and work on it together (remotely), so I sometimes do the harder/longer puzzles with a friend.

    8. Elle*

      I love Redactle, which is a fill in the blank guess the Wikipedia page game. A blast and fell free to cheat because you’re never going to get the name of the 16th century Dutch philosopher.

    9. North Wind*

      You might like SquareWord or Semantle (semantle does my head in, I quit it, but some people like it).

    10. Turtle Dove*

      I really like WaffleGame dot net. I find it fun and challenging, and the goofy feedback when I’m done makes me smile. Besides Spelling Bee at NYT, it’s the only game I play daily. I play others (like Wordle and Connections) occasionally, but only when the mood hits.

      1. Anon Poster*

        I love Waffle! I especially love the deluxe waffle on Mondays, it’s the perfect level of challenging for me. Challenging enough that I have to spend a little time on it, but easy enough that I don’t get frustrated and give up.

    11. Lifelong student*

      I do the Wapo and WSJ puzzles every day along with Wordle. They get my brain moving and are on line. I’m not sure if WAPO is free- but it is the LATimes crossword anyhow.

    12. Writerling*

      Spelling bee – where like wordle, I immediately forget all words longer than 4 letters – and worldle (guess countries and much more!) which is my favorite.

    13. goddessoftransitory*

      LA Times/NYT crosswords. I enjoy getting the pun behind a clever clue especially.

    14. Girasol*

      Lots of the logic and word and number puzzles on the Puzzle Baron website (all free.) Also Duolingo, which isn’t a game but a language lesson that feels rather like a game.

    15. Anono-me*

      I’ve been doing Freerice recently. I’m not sure if I love it, but I definitely like it and it fills the time nicely when I have one or two minutes to wait, but will need to move quickly when the wait time is over. Plusthere is this weird charity angle where
      rich people donate money for rice depending on how much words you get correct. (I know that I could just stare at the wall and think deep thoughts, but I don’t really want to. )

    16. Grandma Mazur*

      The Guardian has Wordiply – I don’t play it religiously but if the combination of letters sparks immediate guesses I have a go.

    17. Jay (no, the other one)*

      If you want more crosswords, there are a lot of subscription/indie crosswords that are harder than most of the daily NYT crosswords. Croswordfiend.com has a good list with some accessible from their “Today’s Puzzles” page. The New Yorker also has a crossword on their site – I don’t think you need a subscription for the puzzles – that go in reverse order of difficult to the NYT, so Monday is the hardest and Thurs/Fri are the easiest. And they have a cryptic on Sundays which is a nice entry-level into that twisted world.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Whoops, just realized you said you can’t yet do the Saturday NYT! USA Today crosswords are good and not as hard as the NYT – they’re all at about a Tues/Wed level.

    18. Clisby*

      I like artle and connections. In artle you get 4 chances to guess and artist be seeing 4 works of art. Connections asks you to group 16 words in to 4 groups of 4 based on some connection between the words.

    19. Mephyle*

      I start the day with Guess My Word (found at hryanjones dot com), then Worldle (the geography one), then Wordle and Connections, and then Redactle.
      I used to do the multi-Wordles and Semantle, and have tried Phrazle a few times, but now I’ve settled down to a ritual of just the ones listed in the first sentence.

    20. The Rat-Catcher*

      Leaderboardle has a bunch of wordle-type games linked to their site and app, all free!

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

    My wife abandoned my 13 year old and myself for 10 weeks to visit mom outside of US. She has never been the best cleaner, but gets upset when I do cleaning.

    I have scrubbed the house from top to bottom, but I’m losing the bathroom battle. How do you remove stubborn soap scum in the shower. 3 times with scrubbing bubbles and other stuff has failed.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Falling Diphthong*

      Try distilled white vinegar–it’s an acid and should cut through the base of the soap.

      Zep, which I think was recommended on here.

      1. Zona the Great*

        Even better is 70% vinegar (sold on Amazon) diluted in a spray bottle with water and add a little dawn dish soap and depending on the level of scum, a bit of epsom salt for scrubbing. DO NOT lock yourself in your shower or bathroom while using this or you too will have abandoned your 13 year old (permanently!).

    2. ImOnlyHereForThePoetry*

      Goo Gone Tile and Bathroom cleaner

      But mainly you need to use a scrub brush with your cleaner

    3. Peanut Hamper*

      I’ve had good lucky with a Scrub Daddy. The hotter the water, the softer they get and vice versa, so you can use a water temperature that works.

    4. Bathroom remodel soaking tub questions*

      Scrub brush and cleaner worked for me. Also, use a squeegee after our shower ro keep it cleaner longer.

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

      Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (it’s, like, an abrasive scrubber)

    6. Not A Manager*

      The product used to be called Kaboom! I think it’s been sold and renamed, so google it. But that stuff is magic on tiles.

    7. Writerling*

      Maybe even oxiclean? (If it’s on the box) I check Clean That Up (on youtube and elsewhere) for tips on cleaning, he also uses white vinegar DIY mix for a lot of things.

    8. Enough*

      No vinegar and as soft a brush as possible on fiberglass/ acrylics. If you scratch the surface you just give the soap a better grip. Mr. Clean magic erasers have worked well for me. But it will take time and elbow grease.

    9. RLC*

      I’ve had good results with “OxiClean Shower Tub and Tile Cleaner” and a “ScotchBrite non-scratch scrub sponge”. Test in small inconspicuous area if you have old or unusual surfaces such as resin (plastic) shower wall panels.

    10. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Dryer sheets. Get them wet, squeeze, use as a rag on the shower, then rinse. Especially good on shower doors.

    11. Indolent Libertine*

      Is it really soap scum? Or is it hard water scale? For the latter, I recently discovered Norwex Descaler.

    12. Girasol*

      Vinegar soaking (1 part vinegar 2 parts water is the formula I read) and a lot of scrubbing with a soft cloth for soap scum. Once it’s clean, wipe it down with a towel after every bath/shower so that you never scrub again.

    13. office hobbit*

      Mix baking soda and Dawn dish soap with a small amount of water to form a paste. Cover the soap scum in the paste and let sit for at least fifteen minutes. Scrub well with a bristle brush. Add hot water and continue scrubbing as you wash it away.

  30. Falling Diphthong*

    What are you watching, and would you recommend it?

    We finished Reservation Dogs on Hulu, which I have quite fallen in love with. Teenagers trying to figure out life in a small Oklahoma town.

    On Netflix started Blown Away which we have always liked, and this season definitely has a bump in the prizes. (“This week’s winner will get a showcase at this high visibility glass exhibition” type.)

    Watched Jules, renting on Amazon but it’s on some premium streaming services. Charming tale of an elderly man struggling with the first signs of dementia when an alien spaceship crash lands in his backyard. Low key humor and friendship.

    1. just here for the scripts*

      Shogun, Tokyo Vice, murder and other details, and sooo excited that extraordinary is back!!!

    2. Peanut Hamper*

      What a coincidence! I just finished watching Jules about ten minutes ago. I loved every minute of it. Such wonderful performances and very low key.

      Bonus: I could not figure out why the actor playing Sandy seemed so familiar. A bit of googling and it turns out the actor is Harriet Harris, who played Bebe Glazer on Frasier.

    3. Zona the Great*

      Rez Dogs is one of the best shows ever created, in my opinion. Smart writing, amazing acting, perfect setting. Some of the best programming I’ve seen in a while is Silo and Severance on Apple TV+ and Kevin can F*** Himself on AMC. I’m also watching The Signal (or maybe it is just Signal) on Netflix which is a German show dubbed in English. It’s fabulous.

    4. Frankie Bergstein*

      I absolutely love Reservation Dogs! Such a great show. I am gonna do a rewatch after reading this thread :)

    5. goddessoftransitory*

      Invincible just dropped new episodes on Prime. Also on the third season of Forever Knight, which is so 90s Canada and gay and horndog that it’s a constant delight.

    6. allathian*

      I’m really enjoying the Norwegian political satire Makta (Power), about the first Norwegian female Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland, and shenanigans in her party, Arbejderpartiet. The tagline is something like “Based on facts, lies, and bad recall.” The first season looks a lot like the late 70s, but I enjoy finding the intentional anachronisms, like a modern omnidirectional microphone on a meeting room table, or a movie poster for Mamma Mia! in an episode set in 1977.

    7. Jay*

      I’m cleaning out my poor overfed DVR.
      So, Swamp People: Serpent Invasion, Night Court (the new ones), Oak Island, and a few others that slip my mind at the moment.

    8. just here for the scripts*

      Insoles bruised my feet, but Feetures sox for plantar fasciitis have made all my shoes more comfortable. I was also told that whatever the shoes feel like at first is what they will feel like later—uncomfortable ones won’t get more comfortable.

      I love Hokas but ONLY their woman’s transport ones. The Bondis and other standard ones are uncomfortable—had to go to a store to try on different models and it took a few stores to find enough diversity of stock to find the transport (not transport X not unisex transports, etc). And Road Runner sports lets you buy them and wear them for 30 days—return what doesn’t work.

      Also the calf, Achilles and toe exercises and stretches have made a world of difference!

    9. alannaofdoom*

      Another rec for “Extraordinary,” just a perfect show with the right balance of humor and tears for me. I terribly mis-timed a catch-up binge of “Evil” on Paramount+ and now I have to wait two months for the next season! A little like “Buffy for grownups” (no offense to Buffy) and if you’re a fan of the Kings’ other shows you will probably love it, though it’s understandably more gory than the Good Wife. Other than that I’ve been using food shows as comfort watches so I’m catching up on the last few seasons of “Somebody Feed Phil” and rewatching allllllllll of “Top Chef.”

  31. Dr. Doll*

    how do you go about choosing a shoe to help with plantar fasciitis? like, you can’t wear them out of the store for hours so how do you know which pair of $170 trainers will work?

    1. GermanGirl*

      Depends on your strategy for dealing with it.

      Minimalist shoes can be a good option, but only if you’re willing and able to put in the work to retrain your gait, and even then you might need to use supportive tape in the beginning when you do not yet have the muscle to support yourself properly without overloading the plantar fascia.

      Another option is to just get any shoe that feels supportive, but still has good roll through, which is important because the plantar fascia doesn’t like shoes that are too stiff. You’ll also want a toe box that is wide enough to give you room to spread the toes and that doesn’t have an upward swipe because that’ll irritate the plantar fascia, too.

    2. fposte*

      I can’t swear you’ll get the same experience, but I have foot issues and got brilliant service from the shoe department at REI.

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

      Maybe try an orthopedic shoe store? Like, in NYC, there’s Eneslow.

    4. The OG Sleepless*

      YMMV, but I’ve had really good luck with adding Profeet inserts into whatever shoes I’m wearing. I wear Brooks Ghost running shoes and Skechers casual shoes.

    5. Zona the Great*

      Find a “Good Feet” type of store where you get evaluated by professionals and can try different surfaces and things. I would bet they offer a guarantee on their shoes.

    6. AF Vet*

      I’ve had it for a decade. I feel you in the shoe PITA. What I do –

      Orthaheel / Vionic flip clips as house shoes. They’re $70, but last at least a year I also use their sandals and flats for dressier occasions.

      Mizuno sneakers are my favorite brand. They allow me to fit my orthotics, last a year with daily wear, and come in lots of fun colors. Keen has also worked as hiking shoes.

      I get 2 pairs of custom orthotics for free each year courtesy of the VA. I’ll put my freshest orthotics into my current sneakers and dressy boots, then transfer older orthotics into boots, dress shoes, etc. Check with your insurance – they may cover a pair of orthotics? Otherwise, they seem to run around $100 and it’s money well-spent to me.

    7. ShoeEval*

      Get a shoe evaluation from a physical therapist. This will result in a set of characteristics all shoes you buy should meet and may also result in a partial list of shoes models that meet that criteria (depending on how unusual your combination is). Most insurance companies will pay for the evaluation if you have a recorded foot or ankle diagnosis.

    8. Decidedly Me*

      A lot of places will let you try shoes for awhile as long as they don’t get especially dirty/worn. REI does this, as well as all the running shoe stores I’ve used. Shoes are only a small part of the equation, though. I overpronate and have plantar fasciitis, so I have shoes that address both issues, as well as custom insoles. However, nothing helps more than doing exercises meant for plantar fasciitis.

    9. The teapots are on fire*

      Look for a store that has a 30 day return policy. The Road Runner chain near me offers this even if you’ve worn the shoe. You only get one return per purchase, but it helps and I did end up returning a pair and getting another.

    10. Stephanie*

      If you live near a dedicated running store, they can be very helpful. I’ve also had good luck at a New Balance store nearby. You could also try seeing a podiatrist and get specific recommendations, if that’s feasible for you.
      Specific brands that have worked well for me: Vionic, Brooks, Aetrex, and Hoka. I also only wear Vionic brand slippers or flip flops around the house because of the arch support. Key factors for plantar fasciitis are cushioning and arch support.
      I’ve also learned that stretching my very tight calves regularly helps a LOT with my foot pain.

  32. Guests in the home*

    I’m struggling to understand the line when it comes to my boyfriend in my home. He spends a great deal of his time at my place. I enjoy his company anytime he’s here which is a miracle because I’m the original introvert. I own my home and spend most of my time maintaining it. I don’t spend time at his as he lives in a live-work space that is not comfortable for spending time. He is an engineer and therefore can do most of the heavy work at my house and on my car himself. He often does these things.

    He does not pay bills here and rarely shops for food. He does dishes sometimes. But my problem is is that he leaves messes like dirty dishes around and eats in front of the TV over my nice expensive rug. He puts his drinks down on the one piece of white furniture I have no matter how many times I ask him to stop. He doesn’t squeegee the shower like I ask him to (I have very very hard water). I’ve always been afraid to mention it very often because he does do so much for me. When I do mention it, he says sorry I’ll stop but doesn’t.

    But I don’t feel changing my oil gives him a pass on all the other stuff. Does it? I feel disrespected and I’m overwhelmed with keeping up with the house because the messes are not just mine. Where is the line between house guest and something more?

    1. Not A Manager*

      The line is wherever you draw it, and it sounds like he’s well over yours. Please don’t let this fester until you get angrier and angrier. Have a serious, sit-down conversation with him in the spirit of problem solving. You could still date and love each other, and he could come over a lot less often. You could move the white table or put a piece of glass over the top of it. You and he could agree that before he leaves/before he goes to bed/after dinner/whatever he will make a circuit of your home and pick up after himself based on a metric you and he have agreed to in advance.

      If he has good will, some of this, or some other solution, will work. If he doesn’t work with you on this thing that is very important to you, that will tell you something.

      1. tuesday*

        Agreed. And, you don’t have to have the answers, you’re looking for collaborative problem solving. So, while glass over the table is one (good) solution, maybe he has others? (engineers love to engineer). But, yeah, he doesn’t just get to do the “fun” for him part of housework, and he doesn’t get to not-contribute to food. Have a straight conversation, say you’re unhappy with how things are, what’s bothering you, and you’ll see if he cares enough about *you* to change, or if he doesn’t.

        1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

          Co-sign 100%. I would be SO MAD at someone who knows I don’t like them doing a thing in my own home, and KEEPS DOING IT. You sound too reasonable! Let him meet you halfway…. or prove he is unworthy.

        2. Freya's Cats*

          I would not frame this in a ‘care enough about you to change’ way in your head, because that is not how interpersonal relationships work. You need a sit down with him so he understands that this is important to you, there is a big chance that stuf like that does not matter to him and so your gentle corrections do not really stick. They are one time scenario in his head. So make it clear that keeping the house clean is an important thing to you. And also discuss the fact that you feel you have progressed to a point in your relationship where things like cooking are not something you do for the other like for a visitor, but has become a shared chore.
          But also, in a relationship, compromise is necessary. So ask yourself, if you need to choose between all that this relationship brings you and a clean house, where do your priorities lie? Having someone else in your house on the regular will have an effect on that place. Not everything in the house is under your single control, that is normal. So are there things you can compromise on? Can the white table go in a different place where it is not the most convenient spot to put his glass from his favourite seat?
          And if it turns out he can or will not change, what would that mean for you in this relationship? Would it mean it cannot go on? Is that a price you are willing to pay?

          1. Freya's Cats*

            for the record: if nothing changes and this is really important to you, this can be a reason to end a relationship imo, sometimes you can care a lot about a person and still not be compatible. But I think it is best to make really sure that that is the case. It is not so much ‘he needs to change for me’ but ‘what do we both need to do to adapt to this new situation and to make this work long term, and is that achievable for us both’.

    2. Reba*

      You feel disrespected because this is disrespectful. And you’re afraid to talk about it! This sounds really hard. To me it’s different than just having different cleaning standards/tolerances which couples learn to live with. It’s that he makes more work for you and doesn’t care, as if these tasks are beneath him (but not beneath you). I would leave the tallying of favors and oil changes out of it and talk about how you feel a sense of resentment building over how he treats your home.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        And how many times has he actually changed your oil? Or done these other tasks? Because unless you drive a lawn mower with a hole in the pan those things just don’t have to be done that often. Certainly not on par with dishes, food shopping and cleaning.

    3. Texan In Exile*

      Oh I am sorry. This is a rough situation.

      It’s nice that your boyfriend changes your oil and does major repairs, but those happen infrequently. I agree with you that he does not then get a pass to be inconsiderate of how you like to do things in your house. And not one of the things you have mentioned are too demanding. I would be bothered if a house guest left dirty dishes around, much less someone who is supposed to care a lot about me and how I feel.

      When I visited my husband before we were married, I helped clean. When he visited me, staying for days and often weeks, he would buy groceries. (And flowers. :) ) We resected each other’s space because that’s what you do when you are in someone else’s house.

      I think it’s OK for you to say something. And to think about if this is the life you want. I hope it works out the way you want it to.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        “much less someone who is supposed to care a lot about me and how I feel.”

        This this this! This is what it’s really about, not the housework.

    4. WellRed*

      It doesn’t give him a pass at all but you might be happier if you could focus on what really bothers you! You love having him there and he sounds worth his weight in gold for taking care of things. He’s being a bit thoughtless but people have different standards of cleanliness etc. the dishes would probably drive me nutty and maybe he could contribute to food a bit more. But a home is meant to be lived in not just “highly maintained.” To be clear, you do whatever you want in your house and set the rules and can be as fussy as you want. It’s valid. Or you can tell him to do his dishes, get some coasters for the white table and drop the idea that anyone ever is going to care about squeegeeing the shower. Either way, you need a conversation not a one-off reminder so maybe he’ll hear you. It’s bothering you so you need to address it.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        Um. There’s a good bit of judgment in this comment.

        OP is focusing on what really bothers them. Their house is “lived in” the way they want it which includes being careful of the white table and squeegeing the shower. Clearly this seems “fussy” to you and you wouldn’t want to live with it. Maybe BF doesn’t want to live with it either. Doesn’t mean it’s not a perfectly reasonable way to live and keep one’s own space.

        1. Guests in the home*

          Thanks, Jay. My house is far from fussy or highly maintained. My saying I spend most of my time maintaining it refers more to the never ending yard work and upkeep old houses require. My white furniture is actually not a table at all but a TV console that is big enough for only the TV and speaker. He has to make a real effort to put his drink or keys down there. I frankly don’t care if he finds it unreasonable–he’s free to leave.

    5. Frankie Bergstein*

      I have a couple of articles and books that I think might be helpful:

      Concept of “the grudge clock” from Captain Awkward: https://captainawkward.com/2023/09/05/1405-how-do-i-stop-giving-rides-to-someone-i-dont-like/

      While the situation is different than yours, the question of what happens when you’re in a situation that you resent and it goes on and on without change or resolution — I think that’s what’s relevant here.

      _The American Ex Wife_ by Lyz Lenz. This book is an NYT bestseller and likely going to be a cultural touchstone — relevance here is how these tiny acts of disrespect (eating on your rug despite knowing it bugs you) pile up and erode a relationship.

      https://www.huffpost.com/entry/she-divorced-me-i-left-dishes-by-the-sink_b_9055288/amp – the same story as the book above but from the man’s perspective.

      1. Rosey*

        OP isn’t asking if she should breakup with her boyfriend, but my first thought was another Captain Awkward concept, the “Sheelzebub Principle,” which is where you ask yourself, if things stayed exactly like they, how long would I stay in this relationship? One month? 6 months? A year? Etc.

        I won’t go into details, but my father also makes my mother feel disrespected and overwhelmed with keeping up with their house and he never changed or got better about it.

        1. Frankie Bergstein*

          I totally didn’t mean to imply that breaking up was the discussion, just validate that these “small” things really do matter. Thanks for pointing that out, as well as for bringing up the Sheezlebub principle – great insight.

          1. Rosey*

            No worries! Your post didn’t make me think of anyone breaking up, it was the Sheelzebub Principle that made me think of couples needing to break up. :)

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        In the last, it’s a really good point how “If you tell me what you want me to do, then I’ll do it” gets exhausting if the person needs to be told more than once. And that it’s exactly the vibe between mom and small child.

    6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      When I do mention it, he says sorry I’ll stop but doesn’t.

      This isn’t actually sorry, this is “I don’t give a damn about this except that I don’t want you to keep mentioning it, so I’ll say what I need to do for you to get off my back.” What happens if you point out that okay, but this is the tenth time or more that he’s told you that, so what needs to happen for him to actually stop instead of just saying he will stop?

    7. goddessoftransitory*

      He’s acting like he lives there when he’s still a guest, basically.

      Wanting a person to be in your space doesn’t auto-delete your requirements for the space. It’s not nagging to politely insist that he follow the rules that make your home comfortable for you if he’s going to be there for large amounts of time.

      You feel disrespected because he’s not respecting you. He may love you and you him, but he’s not respecting YOUR home. If you were at his place (that’s so conveniently not comfortable to hang out in) and messed around in it, leaving trails of dishes and causing him to spend a good chunk of time cleaning up after you, would you expect him to say so?

    8. Guests in the home*

      Thanks so much for your replies everyone! It’s so validating to hear from all of you.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        For what it’s worth: I used to have the same issue with my now-husband. Way too many discussions about “Look, this is important to me. Even if it isn’t important to you, why is the fact that it is upsetting me not important to you?” and we were very close to it being a dealbreaker that he just did not give enough of a damn. It was actually me sending him the article someone linked up above about “she divorced me because I left dishes by the sink” that really finally hit home with him. (And yes, as we progressed through actual improvement, I did also point out that it was very frustrating that me saying the EXACT SAME THING for years didn’t matter but as soon as he read it from another dude, it suddenly made sense.) It’s still not perfect – he doesn’t do his chores on the frequency that we’ve agreed on, and I still have to remind him of things more often than I’m particularly happy with – but it did make a huge difference.

  33. North Wind*

    Joys and frustrations with Aerogarden/hydroponics?

    I have buttercrunch lettuce growing like crazy – yesterday I cut about 10 leaves and used them (doubled up) like taco shells. I filled it with turkey burger browned with onions and spices, and sprinkled with a little parmesan cheese and onion crunchies. So delicious and satisfying – very little fat and sodium.

    I’ve been trying to get watercress going, which is the main reason I got an Aerogarden. I expected it to be very easy, but it’s failed again and again. It starts well, but then quickly gets black/brown streaks on the top side of the leaves. I sent pictures to Aerogarden when it first happened and they thought it was nutrition burn, as Aerogarden doesn’t need as many nutrients. I bought a meter to test EC and PH, and have done multiple experiments and the nutrition explanation doesn’t really pan out. I’m trying one last time with a different brand of seeds, a cleaned and sterilized Aerogarden unit, and will be controlling the ph more closely. Fingers crossed. If it doesn’t work, I’ll just have to move on to something else.

    1. GoryDetails*

      Lettuces do seem to be the most successful veggie-related crop in my Aerogarden – though I sometimes get behind in my harvesting, and if you let the plants grow untrimmed for too long the leaves get tough and/or bitter, especially if the plants go to seed. No idea why the watercress isn’t happy!

      I do still have two mini-gardens with blooming stocks and moss roses – and they’ve been flowering for a couple of months now. Definitely worth the shelf-space (and the remember-to-water tasks) just to have the lovely colors (and, in the case of the stocks, a pleasant fragrance) during the colder months. Now that spring’s edging in it might be time for me to clear them out – though maybe if I let them keep going until past the last-frost date I can transplant them into the ground?

      1. North Wind*

        I’ve been thinking about flowers or coleus or something colorful if my next batch of watercress doesn’t pan out. And I love the idea of something fragrant.

        I haven’t transplanted anything into a container or the ground, but I’ve seen lots of YouTube videos floating out there on the subject.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I had greens (though mine weren’t specifically watercress) get burned from being too close to the light in an Aerogarden and it sounds kind of like what you’re describing, especially since you say it’s specific to the top sides of the leaves. I raised the light up a bit so it was farther away and they stopped getting the streaks.

      1. North Wind*

        Ooh, I hadn’t considered the lights – thanks for that tip. I will also raise the lights a bit in my next experiment.

    3. Professor Plum*

      Last year I bought four used Aerogardens, from thrift stores and marketplace, and finally got them going about 6 weeks ago. I’m growing tatsoi, which I’d never heard of before—it’s in the bok Choi family and is similar in taste and use as spinach. Tatsoi is much lower in oxalates than spinach and that’s important to me because of a previous kidney stone. I’ve been adding some leaves to my morning omelet and really enjoying them.

      Also growing fresh herbs which are just getting to the point of harvesting. And a few zinnias for fun.

      Plus the gardens themselves are multiplying! I’ve picked up two more at good prices on marketplace. Liking this new hobby a lot.

      I’ve grown watercress microgreens in the past—as I remember those seeds took a while to germinate but then grew just fine. Much shorter growth time so that may be something to look into. I followed techniques from a book, Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke.

      1. North Wind*

        Oh, I might check out that book, thanks. I was thinking of planting some watercress in a pot as part of my experiments to see if the leaves would get the black spots. That would at least tell me whether it’s the seeds themselves. Also thought it might be interesting to see if there’s a difference in taste between the two. But I have other plant projects to do before I get to that.

    4. North Wind*

      Oops, in my original post:

      “I sent pictures to Aerogarden when it first happened and they thought it was nutrition burn, as WATERCRESS doesn’t need as many nutrients.”

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

      If you go to a law library (see if you have a nearby public university with a law school — they should have a law library you can consult), the reference librarian can help you consult Martindale-Hubbell, which is a listing of attorneys recommended by other attorneys.

  34. Anon for this one*

    How do you find a lawyer in the specialty you need? I’ve got a possible medical malpractice or negligence suit and there are a lot of ambulance chasers out there, which isn’t what I want. Asking friends isn’t an option; I don’t know anyone who’s been through this.

    1. anon24*

      I’m sure others will have much better ideas, but I’ve needed a lawyer twice, once for a legal name change, and currently for my divorce. I went to Google maps, searched “family lawyers” and spent a lot of time critically reading reviews, trying to sort through which were clearly disgruntled people, which had legit complaints, and of course reading the positive ones and why they liked the lawyer. Then if they looked good I’d go to the firms website and get a feel for it. A few just clearly were either too high end or didn’t seem like they would click for me. I ended up finding an absolutely awesome lawyer for my name change. My divorce is still in process so the jury is out, but so far I like her.

    2. CTT*

      I think you can still ask friends, but the question should be “do you know any lawyers who would be able to recommend someone who specializes in medical malpractice?”. I’m a lawyer in a very niche area that no one needs, but I know lots of lawyers in other areas and am always happy to pass names along when asked.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s exactly what I was going to recommend. That was a great help for a friend of mine. She needed a lawyer and asked another friend of hers who has used one. She was able to get a good recommendation and it went well.

        Also, Anon for this one, if you work in an industry that sometimes uses lawyers, you can find one that way. I work in banking and I needed a lawyer who handles evictions. My boss told me to contact our Special Assets area. Someone there gave me the name of the lawyer we use for these matters, and evictions were also something he handled. He turned out to be great. He worked quickly, gave me good advice, and the cost was reasonable.

      2. Ginger Cat Lady*

        Yeah, my go-to is to ask any of the lawyers I know for a recommendation to someone outside their specialty. Works well.

      3. goddessoftransitory*

        Also, if you know an attorney, you can ask them: “If you had to hire an attorney to recommend to your family member about X who would you choose?” Even if it’s not in their area of law, they might know exactly who is the best.

      1. The teapots are on fire*

        This worked well for me–my EAP referred me to a great attorney for my pre-nup. I don’t think you can count on the state bar association to vet for quality. My husband got his referral from the bar association and the guy was a clown and caused a lot of extra work for all of us.

    3. Hatchet*

      The last time i needed one, it was a combination of Google (maps and individual reviews and various links) and Nextdoor (especially searching what others had posted before posting an ask myself).
      Once i had a master list, i went into a deeper dive for reviews on each until i found one i liked. Goid luck!

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

      If you go to a law library (see if you have a nearby public university with a law school — they should have a law library you can consult), the reference librarian can help you consult Martindale-Hubbell, which is a listing of attorneys recommended by other attorneys.

  35. Little John*

    People who have had to help their parents live independently with age-related issues: how have you navigated that? What kind of decisions have you had to make in order for your parents to remain independent or semi-independent? Or if you *are* an older person who is working on this decision-making process yourself, I’d love to hear from you. What costs the most, what’s been helpful, what was a waste of time?

    Context: I’m trying to make sure my parents are well-cared-for and have everything they need. I love them, and I also moved about two hours away from them years ago because I needed that much space. I want to be as good a [grown-up sole offspring] as I can to them, without moving back home and becoming their carer full-time myself. Dad is going through a long and growing list of health problems, but refuses to see a doctor about it all, and Mom refuses to ask him to see a doctor but has become his default full-time carer. I’ve begged them to get medical attention for the really bad stuff, and in effect they refuse. They are in their early eighties. Mom is fit and active and is committed to pretending that everything is fine, but at some point some part of that will change, and I’m not sure what I will do then. I wonder what “help” looks like when they would view having to leave their current home as a fate worse than death. (I’d hate it too if I were in their shoes.) I’m trying to lay down plans to make this as non-awful as I can for them.

    1. Lunch Eating Mid Manager*

      Honestly they sound committed to their own selfish, irresponsible behavior and don’t care what impact it has on you later. I have been through this with my in-laws and a version of this with my mom now, in her 70s. All you can do is make sure that you have the ability to step in when the inevitable catastrophic event happens – of course they have to cooperate with all this, but steps you can take now are to get on their checking account, springing medical/financial power of attorney, set up a trust (if their estate is going to trigger probate), try to get a list of their financial accounts. If they are resistant to all that, feel free to let them know that they are causing problems for you and you are not available for stuff they might expect like, minor home repairs – doing their taxes – etc. etc. Sorry to sound so unsympathetic, but I am 100% over these head in the sand seniors.

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

        If they are amenable to this, have them open a joint bank account with you on it as well that is meant for their funeral expenses, last bills, etc., especially if you don’t have that much money yourself. If you and they can just leave the money there, and add to it occasionally to keep up with inflation, you will have access to it after the last one of them dies, which is important. Am not a lawyer, but generally, if you have a power of attorney, it terminates right when the person dies, so just when you most need the money to pay for funerals, etc., you don’t have access to it. With the joint bank account, when the last surviving parent is dying, you can use your power of attorney to get whatever money you’ll need short term from another account into that account before they die. I did this with my dad, and it worked very well to give access to his money to settle the immediate after-death expenses. In my state, I would have had to wait for 10 days or something before I could file with the probate court and get named executor, which I did, but not under such financial pressure.

    2. Rachel*

      Decide what you can do to help them. Figure out how much time (PTO included) and money you can spend helping them.

      Then you commit to that regardless of their choices.

    3. Oyful Parent*

      So I have posted before about my stubbornly independent late 80s mom who wants money but has turned down help. I’ve tried to gather contact info for her doctors, neighbors, and the management company for her condo development, and have given some of them my info while emphasizing that I’m not acting in any official capacity. (She won’t do a healthcare proxy). If you want, you could call their city’s council on aging, just to see what they can connect you to when you need something. I feel fortunate to have sibs in the picture as well. So many of us are trying to do this – good luck!

    4. Scrabster*

      I second Lunch Eating Mid-Manager’s advice regarding power of attorney, trusts etc. A lawyer specializing in eldercare or a trusted financial adviser may be very helpful here – while parents feel that they may know better than their child or children they might listen to someone they regard as an expert.

    5. Not Moving Yet*

      So we are going thru this…just starting…with my MIL who was widowed in late 2021. She is finally softening to the idea that she will need to move, but the “when” is not a static point. She has three sons, and the nearest lives 500 miles away. Part of it, for us, is accepting the fact that she still has agency and is aware of her health risks and the risks of living alone, and if she dies in the house for some reason, she was doing what she wanted. I would research independent senior living (a lot of seniors do fine there once there is no maintenance, cooking, cleaning, and shopping) and assisted living in whatever are you think they would like to live in and that you are comfortable with. At this point she has household help one morning a week (from a neighbor’s daughter) and there is an inexpensive local senior transport service (although she still drives a bit). She lives in a small town so getting in-home help is harder. We have told her that if she does have a significant adverse health event which required assisted living, then the window is closed for her to move by us (we’ve scoped out a good senior living place here), as the move here would be too difficult. Also we have started to “trade” (lol) things when we visit…working on a patch of garden for her and then doing something we think needs to be done. Check their will/poa/health care poa/advance directives. If they don’t have those, get them! If they do, check to see who the secondary executor is (they are probably executors for each other and then you if one of them is deceases). My spouse was secondary executor and that was the leverage we needed to get all their financial info collected and in one place (bills, bank info, credit card info, Medicare info, etc.). Have them fill out forms at their docs and with Medicare that they are allowed to share information with you (helpful if contesting billing or there are questions or even when they can’t hear well enough to discuss things on the phone). I have some other advice for if it’s a parent living alone (personal alarm; also the fire department there has a program where they install a small box with a key on your property, and they have the key to the box so if there is a need for them to check on you they don’t need to break down the door).

    6. Falling Diphthong*

      Can you go visit once/month to generally check on things? That bills are paid; that notices to do stuff have generated the stuff being done (e.g. renewing the drivers license and car insurance); that the furnace is being nice and boring?

    7. anon_sighing*

      This is their choice. Let them rock and don’t worry beyond the basics. They’re adults, not little kids. Your mom is making a choice and it’s her choice to make…as dumb as you think it is, you need to respect it. You’re fighting a losing battle forcing them to change without them initiating for asking for it.

      Why is it your responsibility to lay down plans to make this as non-awful as I can for them? Ask them outright what their plans are for when Mom can’t take care of Dad anymore. Remind them you live 2 hours away and that you have a job. The more you act like you will be their safety net, the less incentive they have to deal with their own issues.

      I get the desire to want to nag them and the desire to make sure you stay with your beloved parents for as long as possible. But they are people with their own minds and reasoning – for them (and frankly, many many people), dealing with the end and being old and getting weak and sick is very hard to face. Some people face it by pretending everything is all right. The best thing you can do is subtly suggest things to make them healthier in their own way – offering to go on walks with your dad, meal prepping for them, buying them things they’d use or eat, etc.

    8. GermanGirl*

      Not sure about the legal stuff but my grandad lived at home alone from 80 until 95 at which point he moved into elderly care after a month of being sick with the flu.

      For him, we had household help (mostly cleaning) once a week, one of my cousins went grocery shopping with him once a week for cold meals and other household stuff, and he got one hot meal delivered every day.

      My grandma from the other side of the family, who is in her late 80s still cooks her own hot meals, but also has household help and shopping assistance once a week each, plus since she has a whole laundry list of illnesses and medications, a nurse service runs by twice a day and just spends a few minutes helping her with the compression stockings she has to wear and checking that she sorted out her medication and that there’s nothing else bothering her. She also has an alarm bracelet with which she can call for help if she falls and can’t make it to the phone, but it’s not been needed yet, thank god.

      Both these grandparents live in apartment buildings, so no yard work or house maintenance.

      My grandparents in-law, where he was in really bad shape and she is still very fit, found it the most helpful to have a kid from the neighborhood tend to their yard, like mow the lawn and cut the hedges. I think they got nurse visits for him during the later stages as well, but now that he’s passed its just the yard work that gets done for her and she takes care of the rest.

      In all three cases, the kids – that is my parents generation, who have just started retirement – try to visit at least once a month to make sure everything is running smoothly, paperwork is being dealt with and just to spend time with them of course.

      1. Rachel*

        I think people vastly underestimate and dismiss the mental and psychological labor involved in “paperwork and making sure things are running smoothly.”

        Where the rubber hits the road on this is often elders have enough capacity that they don’t trigger legally taking over their affairs. But not enough capacity and ability to live fully independently.

        This gap is assumed to be filled by adult children and the labor involved in this gap is often fully ignore or scoffed at. I am in the “adult children” generation, watching this play out and it’s very presumptuous.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Yes, been there, with elderly in-laws. My advice would be at a minimum to get them to do:
          Health care proxy assignment and advance directive
          Sign on jointly to one of the bank accounts so can pay bills if necessary

          Good to have:
          Wills if they don’t have them
          P.O.D (payment on deaths beneficiary) on at least some financial accounts – that’s to loosen up money for funerals otherwise it comes out of your own credit card
          I am also frustrated and Little John you have my sympathy for your anxiety over this. US culture does not prepare people for death and the default seems to be denial in a LOT of families these days.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      Basically, you have to accept what seems like the worst case scenario, but is the default one waiting for most of us: We are going to get too sick or fragile to take care of ourselves and/or our partners, and most of us are not going to be able to die at home.

      It’s not fair, but the “live a healthy life and pass peacefully at age 100 in our sleep” is the vanishing exception. Pretending things are fine may work for a while, but it mostly builds what could be handleable issues into giant catastrophes that are that much harder to accept and deal with.

      I would sit down with your parents and explain this to them. They will resist you, but this must be dealt with, if only because the cost and paperwork needs to be started as soon as possible. If they refuse to talk, send them a letter/email outlining what you can and cannot do.

      Unfortunately you may have to take over once they have marooned themselves in a position from which they cannot continue to function. If you can, find out how they have their finances organized, at the very least. You may have to get in the driver’s seat
      at a moment’s notice.

    10. Angstrom*

      I’ve tried to make changes to improve ergonomics and reduce trip/fall hazards. Make things easier to reach, make storage more convenient, got a proper stepstool AND a convenient place to store it so she doesn’t climb on a chair, better lighting, get rid of loose throw rugs, make sure shoes fit properly, grab bars, double handrails on stairs, etc.

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

        That all sounds great! If parents are amenable, I’d add buying stuff ahead of time for injuries and temporary (or not-so-temporary) disabilities. If there’s room, maybe a shower chair, handheld showerhead, some walkers (one for each floor), some grabbers/reachers (one for each floor). Maybe investigate how long it would take and how much it would cost to get one of those chair elevators. (It was cheaper, easier, and faster than I had thought.) When an injury happens, it’s great to have assistive devices ready to go.

    11. Anon for this*

      I feel you. We are facing this with my In-laws in (I believe) the near future. In-laws are late 70s/early 80s and thankfully in good health, both still working full-time. My spouse is their only child so our kids are their only grandkids. Afaik they have a ton of debt and understandably don’t want to yield control to us (which I guess I should be thankful for). Unfortunately, I don’t think they understand that by not including us in their thinking/planning now (e.g., wills, ability to make medical decisions if necessary, do they even have anything planned for funerals), they are likely causing us many headaches down the road. We live across the country and for now I am trying to accept that one or both of them will only move here after 1) a serious illness or injury and/or 2) death of one of them. It sounds morbid, but I think I’m just being a realist.
      Do you know if your parents have any of that stuff figured out (ie for after they pass away)? Perhaps you could introduce the issue by (white lie, or maybe not depending on your circumstances) that You’ve seen others struggle with honoring their parents’ wishes without clear instructions. Maybe knowing that they’re creating a hardship for you would motivate them to face facts? Unfortunately I’ve also seen that even when a parent and child are totally transparent and on the same page about all this stuff there can be many complications. Sorry I can’t offer anything more helpful, but like I said – I feel you! best of luck.

    12. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I’m old (ish), in my 70s. I am not getting old AT anyone, including my son. When or if I want his input on how I live my life, I’ll tell or ask him. If he tried to start treating me as though I were incompetent because I make decisions for me that he would not make for himself, I would seriously consider cutting him out of my life until he apologized. it makes my skin crawl when I read comments about people “managing” their parents.

      1. allathian*

        Absolutely. Simply being old doesn’t make anyone incompetent. But ideally older parents shouldn’t be making things unnecessarily difficult for their kids, either. I hope your finances are in order and that you’ve made a will. I have no idea where my parents keep their important documents. If either of them died tomorrow, I’d have no idea where to start dealing with the bureaucracy associated with a death, and my parents are a few years older than you.

        1. anon_sighing*

          > I’d have no idea where to start dealing with the bureaucracy associated with a death,

          I am not sure how your parents are preventing you from learning about this. I used my work’s resources to talk to a lawyer about what would happen, what I would need to do, and I worked from there (looping in my parents as needed).

          > But ideally older parents shouldn’t be making things unnecessarily difficult for their kids, either.

          I think you should figure out if they’re being difficult or if they think you’re overstepping. Or if you’re being vague — you’re asking them to do something (even if it’s getting their affairs in order) for you, so you need to make specific asks.

      2. Generic Name*

        I appreciate hearing this perspective. My parents are in their mid-70s, and while I don’t agree 100% with their choices, I’m just saying “ok” and “fine” because they are competent adults and they get to decide where and how to live.

      3. Anon for this*

        As Allathian said thank you for bringing this perspective. As a child (or child-in-law) in this situation, I’ll just say that we aren’t trying to make decisions for my in-laws (we don’t even have the capacity to do so legally, nor should we while they are capable – as I hope they remain for many years). What frustrated me is the refusal to even discuss any part of this. We don’t know if they have wills, living wills, any plans for their funerals, etc. Even if they decide to stay across the country until they die, I can accept that, even if I think it’s a poor choice, and my spouse expressed that they are causing great strain and hardship by expecting my spouse to regularly travel to tend to emerging health crises (hasn’t happened yet but my view is, why wait until catastrophe? their view, apparently, is wait until everything deteriorates and we can’t express our wishes). So again thanks for sharing your perspective, hopefully you have the personality and type of relationship where you can discuss these topics with your child(ren) so as not to place an unnecessary burden on them.

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

        I so agree with you!

        In retrospect, I regret how I was sometimes a bit bossy with my late Dad when he was initially having a lot of health problems over the last couple of years of his life. I was making it all about how it was making ME feel and how others would think of ME — would people think that I had done enough, been a good enough daughter, etc.?

        The point was really driven home when I got sick myself and had a relative try to “manage” me. While I’m sure they meant well, it was an awful experience on my end.

        I’m glad I eventually learned to chill out. Some of the things I’m glad I did were not pushing my Dad to move to a care home (he got stuck in those anyway during rehab from various issues, but at least he got to go home to his real home eventually, with home help) and honoring his end-of-life wishes to the best of my ability.

        All that said, I agree with the folks here who say it is a kindness to have your financial affairs well in order and put in a well-marked place and to share those with whoever is going to be stuck being executor so that they don’t have to figure it all out for the first time when they’re grieving. It is also a kindness to eventually do a little “Swedish Death Cleaning” and declutter so the executor doesn’t have to empty a whole house by themselves.