Coffee Break: Chelsea Low Pump

Cole Haan Chelsea Low PumpCole Haan is having some great sales (albeit final ones) on their website — but if you know your size you’re in luck. Take, for example, these fun purple suede shoes. They were $298, but are now marked to $80; with code NEWYEAR they come down another 30% to $55.99. Hooray for sales! Cole Haan Chelsea Low Pump

(L-2)

Comments

  1. Button-down shirts? :

    How do you wear button-down shirts? I know there’s a post on this site about that, but it’s from 2008 (!) and I could use some current advice. I usually wear pants to work and I’d like to get out of the habit of wearing overly casual cardigans on top. If I were to buy, say, the Perfect button-down from Ann Taylor, should I wear it tucked in? If so, do I need to also wear a belt? Should the pants be mid-rise or high-rise? If I want to wear a sweater on top for warmth, are specific styles (V-neck versus crew neck, for example) considered better than others?

    You can see I’m clueless here. How do you ladies wear your shirts?? TIA!

    • I wear button down shirts regularly, but always with a pencil skirt. Never with pants. YMMV, but because I also only wear flats, I feel too “female secret service agent” in a button down, pants and flats.

      • Button-down shirts? :

        That’s kind of what I’m afraid of – it almost looks like a uniform sometimes with that combo. I don’t really like pencil skirts much, though – I also only wear flats, but I have particularly wide calves and it can be unflattering sometimes when I wear them with a skirt. If I could find a way to make a button-down look good with pants, that would be ideal.

    • I always wear my button downs tucked in. If with pants and the pants have belt loops then yes I would wear a belt. (Though like Anon I usually wear pencil skirts, most of which do not have belt loops. However I do sometimes wear a wide belt over where the shirt and skirt meet.)

    • Anonymous :

      I think button up shirts with pants look best with another layer on top. I like to wear a buttondown under a J. Crew Tippi sweater (or similar thin, merino sweater) and then put the suit jacket over all of that.

      I also tend to look for thinner, prettier button down shirts (I like the J. Crew shirts in the silk – cotton blend in pretty patterns — link below). These are way less “stiff” than a regular cotton button up shirt. This keeps me from feeling like I’m dressed like a man or a secret service agent.

      http://www.jcrew.com/womens_category/shirtsandtops/casualshirts/PRDOVR~08997/99103236242/ENE~1+2+3+22+4294967294+20+225~~P_new_to_sale%7C1%7C%7CP_priority%7C0~21+17+4294966980~90~~~~~~~/08997.jsp?isSaleItem=true&isFromSale=true

      (I don’t particularly love this print, but there isn’t another example of what I am talking about on the website right now).

    • I usually wear mine with pants, mainly because I’ve never been able to make a tucked in shirt with a pencil skirt look right (I’m short waisted or something – I don’t know; it always looks terrible to me). I’ll only wear one tucked into a skirt if I’m covering the waist area with something else (a buttoned cardi or blazer). Either way, I usually tuck, unless the shirt is short enough that I can wear it with a blazer or sweater without tucking. Even then, tucking is a cleaner look, IMO. Usually looks better with a belt, at least unless there’s something over it that covers the waistband of the pants/skirt.

    • I think necklaces can make a world of difference in making a button-down look more feminine. I often button up to the second-to-last button and then wear a bib necklace on top of the shirt, or leave the top three buttons unbuttoned and wear a big jewel necklace underneath. If I’m wearing a sweater on top of the shirt, I’ll wear a long sparkly necklace with it.

  2. Looking to expand my slow cooker repertoire (and thus improve my weeknight cooking). Does anyone have suggestions for good slow cooker friendly healthy recipes?

  3. Lady Tetra :

    Reposting from earlier thread: has anyone used a meal ingredients delivery service, like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron? What did you think?

    • I am a huge Blue Apron fangirl. You can see what you’re getting a week in advance, ingredients are largely unprocessed, portion size is perfect and the meals are creative and easy to put together. The meals have ranged from just OK to great, and got a lot better once I realized exactly how much salt I had to put on anything. And it forces me to cook 3x a week, which is way more than I used to cook.

      The only caveat is that you have to be a person who is OK with eating just about anything because you have no say in what you’re going to get (they’re not sending you sea cucumbers or anything like that, but if, for example, you absolutely cannot eat rice for whatever reason, this is not for you). For me, the meals often incorporate cilantro, and I’m one of those cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, and this irks me.

    • We recently tried Blue Apron through a free trial from a friend and I wouldn’t do it again.
      It wasn’t bad and was actually kind of fun to try but the meals took way more time than I usually take for weeknight dinners I cook myself (~1 hour +), you can only pick meat/fish or vegetarian and I am really more of a mostly veggie but with seafood and the occasional chicken breast kind of person (and if you, say, don’t eat pork or veal, tough luck), and the food itself was good but not great. Everything is pre-measured which should simply things, but you still have a LOT of prep to do because all the recipes tend to be pretty involved (not hard, just involved). I suppose you could do all the prep work on a weekend to speed things up but I honestly don’t have time for that and if I did I wouldn’t need a meal delivery service. The feel I got is that they’re trying to replicate restaurant style meals at home, so if that’s how you like to eat it may work for you, but that’s not how I usually like to cook. I think for people who don’t really cook at home or know where to start, this could be a good idea. It’s certainly cheaper than eating out and healthier. I also liked that you would just get what you need for each recipe – no worrying about what to do with that random bunch of dill or a jar of chiles in adobo when you only needed one chile.

      But honestly I think there are so many easier ways to cook real food. If you live somewhere where Fresh Direct or a comparable service delivers, take a look at their Ready to Eat options – you can get stir fries, kebobs, sides, you name it.

      • This was my problem with the site too – my diet is very heavy in seafood and to a lesser extent chicken/turkey, but I don’t eat pork and I eat beef very rarely. So I couldn’t really do the meat option and the veggie option didn’t have the seafood and poultry I wanted. If they introduced a pescatarian option I might give it a try.

        With the caveat that I signed up for it but it did not actually order a meal (after realizing how ill-suited it was to my diet), it seems very expensive for food that is not prepared. In my area, there are prepared food delivery services that are not too much more and there are grocery delivery services that are significantly cheaper. So I’m not sure why I would use Blue Apron as opposed to either a fully cooked meal service or just a grocery delivery service.

        • The friends we have that love it and recommended it to us basically cook like this: they go online, find a recipe that sounds delicious and then buy all the ingredients for that recipe that they will probably never use for anything else in order to make it, and then repeat for the next night with something completely different. When you don’t cook regularly this ends up being a very expensive way to do it, so I think for people who aren’t used to cooking, this is much cheaper way to do it since you only get what you need for the recipe and not a pinch more – but I agree there are cheaper and easier options.

      • Same here. I’m allergic to shellfish (like epi-pen allergic, not just a dislike) and tend to avoid the rest of the ocean because I don’t like the taste or texture of most fish. Blue Apron couldn’t / wouldn’t accommodate it so after the last fish delivery we cancelled.

      • Tossing the Apron :

        I/we did Blue Apron for a few months. It’s a good idea, but it took way way way too much time to make dinner. A good night would be almost an hour. And that was an hour of work, not 15 minutes of work and 45 minutes in the oven.

        It was fun for a few weeks, and the food was yummy, but then became a stressful obligation on nights I would have rather just gone out.

        I think I’m having better luck with semi-prepared things from Trader Joe’s, even though it means I have to go to the store.

    • In Chicago, we use Madison & rayne and it’s fantastic. Food usually takes 15-20 minutes to prep and sometimes takes longer non active cook time. Most of the food is very good and there are many options for food — you can either do the chef choice or you can pick specifically which meals you want.

  4. Because I’m stuck in moderation in the thread below; sorry for the double post:

    My new year’s resolution is to get down to my pre-pregnancy weight – 10 lb. So far I’m 15 lb down, 15 lb. to go.

    Speaking of which….can I wear a black blazer with grey dress pants and a light pink shell? I have to go to a meeting with a prospect on Tuesday and I’m not quite into my pre-pregnancy clothes yet. I have a black blazer from H&M that I was wearing with maternity pants when I was pregnant that still works. Can’t wear it with my current *transition* black pants, because that’s against the rules…but can I wear it with grey? I’m hoping to avoid running out to buy a suit or patterned/colored blazer that can be paired with black pants. We’re business casual at my office, and I was hoping to not have to buy a suit until my weight settles a bit. I don’ t think I need a full on suit, but a step nicer than business casual seems necessary.

    Also, this meeting is in a town 4 hours away and we’re supposed to drive out and back within the day…the outfit I have in mind meets comfort requirements!

  5. Also, those shoes are gorgeous. But I already have a pair purple suede Cole Haans in my close that I’m still trying to figure out how to wear.

  6. Buying men's suit - Help! :

    So, my fiance needs/wants to buy a suit for our wedding next year, and has asked me for help. He has a career that doesn’t require that he wear suits and is an overall casual guy, so he has no idea what he is doing. Neither do I. Any thoughts/recommendations regarding where to go to buy a suit, what brands to look at, or research sources?

    More specifics: We are looking to spend below $500 if possible. He has two suits from Men’s Wearhouse that he uses for the sporadic occasions he needs a suit, but wants a different color–a medium gray–for the wedding. He’s looking for a suit that is not traditional, but not skin-tight slim either–something in between (for reference, what Nordstrom’s website describes as “trim”). I just am unsure of where to look to get value for the money. I am guessing custom is too expensive. I know we could look at places like J.Crew, Banana, or Reiss (which is having a sale), but I wonder if the quality is lower than the prices would warrant.

    I am very lost, obviously. Thanks in advance!

    • Macy’s and Lord and Taylor both have good selections of mens’ suits. Look for “slim” cuts to get that non-traditional look. If you do want to splurge, Hugo Boss often has good sales on their website. I haven’t been impressed with the quality of the suiting at Banana and J.Crew.

    • anon in tejas :

      I would suggest going to a Macy’s or Dillards in your area. The salespeople in that department are normally pretty knowledgeable and can work within your budget. They will have more color selection than Banana or J. Crew because they will have a lot more suits. We did this for my husband when he was looking for a new suit for a friend’s wedding. Great Huge Boss Suit for $400.

      • anon in tejas :

        even if he want something nontraditional, they will likely have some suits that fit that style/cut.

        also, you can check out joseph a. banks, but I don’t think that you’ll get whole suit for your price point.

        • RE: Jos A Banks – do you have groomsmen in the wedding party, and will they be wearing matching suits as well?

          If so, wait until Jos A Bank has one of their “buy 1 suit, get 2 free” deals. This is how my SO got the suit that he wore to a friend’s wedding – said friend waited until deal time, and then ordered all of the suits himself, and SO and the other groomsmen reimbursed him for their suits. I want to say that each guy ended up spending ~ $200.

          • Sydney Bristow :

            They currently have a lot of suits on sale for $99. They are mainly summer weight fabrics, I think.

    • marketingchic :

      Make friends with a suit salesperson – they can help him find something on sale in his style and price range, or tell you about upcoming sales. Do you have Dillard’s in your area? My husband has found nice suits on sale, especially this time of year.

    • If you are in the southeast and there is one of the bigger/nicer Belk’s stores, I’d look there. My husband has gotten some great deals from them on suits and sports coats.

    • You may need to try on a few fits from different brands to see which brands work best with his body type — just like we’re often calling out Theory for flattering less-curvy ladies, different mens’ designers work better for some than others. Save room for the tailoring budget, since that can make a $250 suit look like $500 (when a $500 suit without tailoring can easily look like $250).

      FWIW, I’ve found Jos A Banks to be good/require less tailoring for my tall/long limbed hubby, and we usually get their second-highest-priced line (forget the name)… but never pay full price there! If you wait for their sale cycle to come around, you’ll find the bargain that works for you (like maybe he doesn’t need the buy 1 get 2 free deal, but if it’s 40% off all suits that would make sense).

      • Clementine :

        +1 to Jos A Banks fitting my husband who wears a 15 1/2 inch neck and a 37 inch long sleeve… He’s very broad and long armed but very lean.

        They have a slim cut and a less-slim but more tailored line called the ‘Traveler’ suits.

    • Ask Andy About Clothes is a great site for this sort of information, too.

  7. That’s a great deal on the shoes Kat. They are final sale.

  8. My friend is 39 weeks pregnant with her first baby and is just miserable and anxious. We’re not in the same town, so I can’t hang out with her. Any ideas to help cheer her up and take her mind off things while she’s waiting for baby to arrive? She isn’t working so I think she’s kind of bored. My baby arrived at 37 weeks so I feel like I kind of missed the totally miserable stage.

    • I can tell I’m having a terrible day because my gut reaction to this post was to tell your friend to s*ck it up and stop complaining about something many people would kill for – that I would give anything to be 39 weeks pregnant right now and expecting a baby any day.

      I should probably go find a way to improve my mood!!

      • Hugs.

        I’ve been there.

        • Ditto. And then karma semi-bit me in the @$$ for wishing pregnany complainers would shove it. I did finally get pregnant and had terrible all day morning sickness, constipation, and vaginal pain until 13.5 weeks. The fact that I was finally pregnant and that feeling sick meant I wasn’t miscarrying was the only thing that kept me going. It was awful and Zofran only took the edge off. I realized I should have been a little kinder to my friends who were experiencing bad morning sickness/overdue babies while I was having trouble getting pregnant/dealing with miscarriage/etc. because it truly can be awful.

          • Yeah, pregnancy can still suck, even when you had to work really, really hard to get there.

      • mintberrycrunch :

        I would also give anything to be in that position, so I feel ya Anon.

        But the grass is always greener…. I’m sure I’d be anxious and climbing the walls waiting at that stage too. OP, could you get her a gift certificate for a spa afternoon? A pedicure and prenatal massage might be a nice way to get out of the house? Otherwise, maybe a gift box with some trashy magazines and home “spa” stuff (nail polish, face mask, etc.)?

    • Call and ask about anything but “when’s that baby coming???” Seriously, news headlines, celeb gossip, your work, whatever. My sister was overdue and ready to kill anyone who mentioned the baby but she went out on maternity leave on her due date and was really lacking distraction so the phone calls helped.

      You could also share your netflix or hulu password with her to use for streaming on her computer if she doesn’t have access to anything like that.

  9. Temporary health insurance? :

    Happy new year everyone!

    TJ: I am turning 26 in January and getting kicked off my parents’ insurance. I have insurance through my law school through the end of July, and am beginning a clerkship in September. I really don’t want to be uninsured during August. My state doesn’t seem to allow temporary health insurance plans–I’ve hunted around but haven’t been able to find anything.

    Does anyone have any ideas? Does Obamacare have anything for me? We’re going to see how much it would cost to have COBRA through September, but if it’s outrageously expensive, it seems duplicative to have that insurance for January-July since I use my student insurance anyway. I’ve always had insurance either through my parents or through school and I’ve got no idea where to even start looking.

    • other ladies can chime in, but can’t you wait to see if you actually need COBRA and then buy it retroactively?

      • Anonymous :

        Yes, but you have to pay for the entire uninsured time, which sounds like in your case would only be one month?

        • Anonymous :

          i believe you have to elect COBRA when the parents’ insurance expires in January. You can’t randomly start it up months later in July.

          Sorry, no help here. I paid the outragous pre-ACA state prices for a few months when it happened to me. I never had to make a year long commitment though?

          • But if she’s insured through law school insurance, wouldn’t there be COBRA attached to that, so she could get it for the summer only (or retroactively elect as needed)?

            In the past, I’ve purchased catastrophic plans found on eheathinsurance[dot]com for short term coverage. Not sure if that’s available in your state, but worth looking if you have not already.

          • Anonymous :

            You don’t have to elect it right away, but I think there is a deadline on when you can elect (I want to say 2 months, but I’m not positive).

            I know people who don’t have recurring medical expenses and will only be uninsured for a month or two do this–wait to see if something happens serious enough to justify paying the back premiums. I don’t know if OP would still have that option in August though if something happened, when her coverage ends in January.

          • Those catastrophic plans are illegal under ACA now. But the ACA subsidies should help the most basic health plans cost about the same amount as those catastrophic plans used to be.

          • A form of catastrophic plans is still available to people under 30 I believe https://www.healthcare.gov/can-i-buy-a-catastrophic-plan/

          • Temporary health insurance? :

            @Rosie – my law school insurance plan doesn’t have COBRA.

          • mascot: I stand corrected, thank you. FWIW, however, they do put ‘catastrophic’ in quotes on that FAQ page, because the plans they are discussing are not actually exactly like what used to be considered catastrophic/major medical only plans pre-ACA. That title implied that there was no preventive coverage at all, which is now illegal. The plans they are referring to on that page are low-cost/low-coverage, but not exactly the same as the old school ‘catastrophic’ plans. But like I said above, I think there are going to be way more options that are comparative cost-wise to the former short-term, major medical only plans.

    • Well you should definitely check to see if your state exchange is offering anything. When I needed insurance for weird time periods, I had good luck talking to a ‘health insurance broker’ that I just found from googling. It was free for me, they get paid by the insurance companies. You could also just look through insurance agents, when I was a student, my parents and I went straight to their State Farm agent who was able to set me up with student insurance. Or, you could try calling the ACA help phone number and talking to someone there, they should know where to direct you.

      I’m sure you’ll find something, there are lots of random different things out there. Good luck!

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I didn’t think you needed to agree to keep a plan for any specific period of time. I was under the impression that you could sign up for a plan, pay the premium for that month, then cancel it when you no longer need it. I could be completely wrong though. I bought my own insurance last year and my coverage would just be cancelled if I didn’t pay my premium. I didn’t need to agree to keep the plan for any period of time.

      • I was under the same impression. I went on COBRA during mid-2011 when I left my job and I just cancelled it when I decided it was too expensive and switched to an individual plan. I had to pay through the end of the month in which I cancelled, but certainly not any longer than that.

    • Anonymous :

      Does your school have resources for low cost insurance marketed toward grads like you? This was years ago pre-ACA, but when I graduated my school gave us information on carriers that were basically intended as cheap catastrophic plans to tide us over until we got on a work plan.

    • Couldn’t you get an individual plan for end of January until you are eligible for the insurance with your clerkship (check and see if that eligibility begins day one of your job)? It seems like you could still use your student health center for primary care and then just have more of a catastrophic plan as a back-up. Most health insurance plans don’t have minimum 1 year contracts or anything so you should be able to look at all sorts of plan, not just “temporary.”

    • I don’t know the specifics of your situation, but I was in a similar situation when I was in law school and I just took a chance during that one month. If you’re in otherwise good health, I don’t think it’s an unreasonable gamble (and if you’re traveling during that time and want to be extra cautious, you can buy travel health insurance).

      That said, I would also call your parents insurance company and see if they have any other options as many now do. And/or since you will presumably not have much income until you start working, I would check to see how much it would cost to obtain health insurance from the govt health care exchange. You’ll probably qualify for subsidies and it may not cost you very much at all.

    • Temporary health insurance? :

      Thanks all of you for all of the feedback!

      • Two Suggestions. (1) Talk to your new boss. They may be able to start your health insurance a month early and have you pay the full cost. Even if this is not available, whoever processes the health insurance for your new job has probably had other people asking this question (particularly if you’re in a pool clerkship and there are other clerks coming fresh from law school). (2) Ask your BarPrep group. I can’t speak for other companies, but I took BarBri and I recall that they had resources for this type of info. Good Luck with the rest of 3L and this summer!

  10. Paging Senior Attorney :

    Quick question about your Freedom Account – do you have an account for each big ticket expense? By my count that would be 15 accounts! How do you manage?

    • Senior Attorney :

      Yes, I just counted and I have 18 separate savings accounts at Ally Bank. They’re free and it’s easier to keep track of than putting it all in one account. Plus you can give them each a descriptive name like “car repair” or “property taxes.” Also, savings accounts are limited to six transfers out per month per federal banking regulations, and if you have it all in one account you can bump up against that limit pretty quickly.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I do the same thing at Capital One 360 (used to be ING). I have 5 separate accounts for various things. I can view all of my accounts when I log on and each one is set up individually in my YNAB so I find it easy enough to keep track of.

      • marketingchic :

        Multiple accounts to avoid the transfer limit – that’s brilliant! I”m forever getting my hand slapped on this.

  11. Student health plans aren’t eligible for COBRA. Some have the option to purchase coverage for an extra semester or two, but because they’re not employer plans, they don’t have to. So if you want COBRA, I think you have to do it within 60 days of your parents plan coverage ending

    • Good to know. Both my law school’s plan and my husband’s allowed us to purchase COBRA-like coverage, so I would think it would be worth looking into as a potential option.

  12. I realize how this question might sound, but please go with it: I am 5 months post-partum and nursing and have lost all my pregnancy weight and more — but it’s not a good thing. I think I’m too thin. My family has noticed, my face looks gaunt, it’s definitely too much. I have never been dieting, and have been eating what I think is a good amount of calories. Short of stopping nursing or started a milkshake only diet, is there something I can do? A healthy way to get back some of my healthy weight so I don’t feel like a skeleton with b**bs?

    • I have no specific knowledge of this issue, but I would say just call your dr!!! Take care of yourself, don’t feel like you can’t ask because being ‘too thin isn’t a legit problem’. This could have repercussions for both you and the baby. that’s what your dr is for!

    • Nursing burns a ton of calories, so you really do have to eat more to keep up. You’re not eating a “good” amount of calories if you are losing weight. Try eating more nutritionally and calorically dense foods like nuts, nut butters, avocados, cheese, sunflower/pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit (check to make sure there is no added sugar, though).

      My only other thought is that if you feel like you’re eating all.the.time, to the point where you feel like you can’t eat any more, get checked out for hyperthyroidism.

      • Anonymous :

        I think there is a pregnancy related thyroid disorder that can lead to weight loss (and other health issues). You should check with your doctor if you are indeed eating enough.

        Another thought is to track calories just as you would if you wanted to lose weight. You may be underestimating how much you are eating (as opposed to overestimating).

    • This happened to a good friend of mine. Nursing can burn a LOT of calories! Her strategy is to add healthy fats wherever she can. She puts avocados on everything (toast, in scrambled eggs, with noodles, in salad, etc), eats lots of nuts and sunflower seeds, cheese and full fat yogurts, baked potatoes with sour cream, and so on. I don’t know about you, but she is very petite and was never prone to eating a lot before she was pregnant so a lot of it is also reminding herself to take in more calories than she’s used to to make up for all the calories she’s expanding.

    • How do you feel otherwise? You may want to see a doctor if you feel “off” in other ways. I experienced the same thing starting when my daughter was about 6 months old, and it turned out to be a hyperthyroid condition. I ate tons of calories (like, tons) and was still losing weight rapidly. I also had other symptoms (feeling hot, high heart rate, decreased milk supply, headache, leg weakness and tremors). I had no idea that postpartum thyroid problems are common. May not be the case with you of course, but it is a possibility.

    • saltylady :

      That happened to me– I was getting those “gaunt” comments, even from my mom. I didn’t have any medical condition, I’m just a small boned person with skinny face and a fast metabolism, I guess. Things leveled out when I stopped nursing and got out of the “OMG I have two kids under age 2″ stage. Can’t hurt to talk to your doctor though. In the meantime, maybe add in a snack mid-morning or mid-afternoon, like yogurt with nuts and dried fruit?

    • Definitely call your doctor if you’re concerned, but this happened to me with both of my kids. Around 6-9 months, they barely ate solids and I was pumping/nursing almost exclusively for them. I was so small, but did stay above (by a smidge) a BMI of 18 so I didn’t get medical help. Now, 9 months later, I’ve gained 10 pounds and am back to my normal pre-pregnancy weight. Also, I didn’t think I was unusually tired. I was exhausted but I had a baby and worked FT so thought it wsa normal. It also didn’t really surprise me since I was burning at least 500 calories every.single.day. just to feed my kids.

  13. Anon4This :

    I was walking back to my office after picking up lunch today and a man, probably 20-25 years my senior, who also works in my building started chatting with me. It turns out that we used to work in the same industry and know some of the same people. We had a pleasant but professional conversation.

    After parting ways, he sent me a LinkedIn invitation, which seemed a little strange, but I accepted. He then messaged me asking if I wanted to get lunch with him “on purpose” another time. I’m not sure if this is a romantic or a professional invitation (although, if it’s professional, I’m not sure what the nature of the lunch would be), but either way, I’m not really interested, so how do I politely decline? Or should I just ignore it? I feel hesitant to do that, though, because we do know some of the same people professionally.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not married yet, so there’s no ring to give him any relationship status clues. I didn’t notice if he was wearing one either, so…help?

    Help please?

  14. “Thanks! Things have been really busy lately, but I’ll let you know!”

  15. Has anyone ever tried Toastmasters? It looks a little cheesy, but I noticed over the past year one of my biggest weaknesses is speaking off the cuff when someone asks me a question in a meeting or in other situations where I wasn’t specifically prepared to speak. I’m just not sure how else to get practice doing this.

    • Honestly, what has helped me is going to networking events where I don’t know anyone. People ask me questions about my position, what our firm does, etc. I try to answer the questions as best I can. I’ve noticed that it’s really helped my confidence at work when I’m required to speak off the cuff in meetings, etc. I saw a dramatic increase in my ability to interview well too.

    • I attend toastmasters and find it very helpful in overcoming my natural tendency to avoid speaking up at social functions. As for getting practice at speaking off the cuff, there is a very limited time during meetings when participants are called on to answer table topics, usually two to three people, so you may not get a lot of practice.

    • Wildkitten :

      My mom learned a lot from them. You can see if there is a meeting that is geared towards your age/gender/industry in your city.

    • In my experience, Toastmaster’s isn’t likely to help you with your problem. This may be specific to my local club, but if anything, people’s speeches were highly prepared. It was almost like dramatic monologues half the time. As a past debater, I never learn or memorise my speeches, and so found this all very strange. I don’t even know if there’s any ‘social’ debate clubs, but debating taught me a lot more about speaking off the cuff, and convincingly (perhaps with less of an emphasis on style or flourish) as Toastmasters ever could. Perhaps see if you a couple of friends could start your own informal debating club (you only need 4-6 people really)? Anony’s networking suggetsion is also a good one.

  16. Random question for you all to see if I’m crazy:

    My mom really wanted me, my husband and my younger brother to drive 4 hours from where we live (a major metro area) to where she lives for Christmas (a small town of around 5,000 people). We arrived on Sunday before Christmas around 730 pm. The pre-arranged plan was that we would stay at her house Sunday and at my dad’s house (an hour away) for the remainder of our visit.

    I told my mom multiple times before we came up that we would be arriving on Sunday around 730 pm. We arrived at her house and she asks what we want for dinner. I look at her like – you didn’t cook something?!? You have to remember this is a town of 5,000 people, the only options are Village Inn and Pizza Hut on a Sunday and this is essentially our Christmas with her.

    We go to Village Inn and when the check comes she asks us to pay for our own food. REALLY?!? We drive 4 hours to see you and this is what we get. When she comes to my house for Christmas dinner I make prime rib and king crab. If it matters, all of the parties involved have plenty of money to pay for a meal at Village Inn – money is not an issue.

    It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m still annoyed by this. Opinions? After reading through this I think I might sound a little snobby but I’ll let you decide.

    • While you may be right, but please cut your mom some slack. It’s the holiday season. She sounds like she is getting older and may well be getting a bit daffy, or at the very least lonely, because it’s Christmas, and she and your dad are no longer together. I doubt she’s with any other person and we do not know why dad and her are no longer together, but she is lonely. Moreover, for all you know, she did not know what to cook, is unable to cook, and/or does not have enough money to buy all the food necessary to feed you, your husband and brother. It is not a big deal to pay for some inexpensive dish at a greasy spoon, and it made your mom happy to see you. Since you won’t have your mom forever, just cherish her for the years you still have, and not to be too petty about a few bucks sent for a cheap meal. We need to be more giving. This is a good start. Call her and make her feel special.

    • I can see how you would be frustrated, but perhaps something is going on with her that you don’t know about? After all that travel I would not have been thrilled with the meal and/or the perceived message that goes along with it, but I tend to want to cut moms some slack (as long as it’s not my own mother in law!). Any reason to think there’s more to it than meets the eye?

      • Thanks for the feedback, LSJ. My mom has substance abuse issues so that could be part of the issue. She could’ve been too busy being drunk and/or high to coordinate cooking dinner and shopping for the food. Sounds harsh but it’s probably the truth.

    • I think you need to separate out the alleged etiquette issues from the snobbery about the quality of the restaurant. I’m not the biggest fan of Village Inn either, but many people consider it a perfectly decent restaurant and there weren’t any better options, so I don’t see the point of complaining about the food itself.

      I do sympathize with you given that you were expecting a home cooked meal, but this seems like something that communication could have fixed. Had you discussed the meal plans in advance? If so and she said she’d cook, then I understand why you were annoyed (ignoring her personal issues that may have interfered with plans). In the future, it probably makes more sense to offer to cook when you visit her. And yeah, it might be a little odd for a guest to do the cooking, but given that you say you’re a foodie and she’s clearly not, its probably easier that way on everyone (will she at least help cleanup, etc if you cook?)

      As for paying, I think you’re wrong there. Yes, you drove a long way but everyone handles these things differently. I know lots of families where adults and grown children always go dutch, and assuming that she doesn’t expect you to pay for her when you go out when she’s visiting you, I’m not sure I see an issue. In other families (including mine), its more common for the guests to treat the hosts to a meal out than the other way around, because the host is the one being put out (normally the host is also doing a lot of cooking and cleaning and I know that doesn’t apply here so I can see how its a little different). But unless she’s clearly mooching off you by expecting you to treat her when she visits you and you to go dutch when you visit her, it doesn’t seem objectively wrong. And as others said maybe there are money issues you don’t know about.

      Also FWIW, I don’t consider hosting a child and their spouse (or parent, sibling etc) “entertaining” per se. Yes, ideally we’d always make our guests feel comfortable, even family, but the tone of your comment suggests you were expecting a formal, Martha Stewart-esq dinner party and I think that’s pretty unreasonable, given that its just immediate family. And its even more unreasonable given what you said about her issues.

      • It does sound like substance abuse is the bigger issue here but in terms of expectations and immediate family, I only live 90 minutes from my parents and they usually cook a nice meal that we eat on china when we come visit. It’s not an unreasonable expectation if that’s normally what happens when she visits.

        • KLG – thanks for the response. My dad did all the cooking when my parents were married. My mom knows how to cook basic things she just doesn’t like to do it. I wasn’t expecting a Martha Stewart dinner. All I was expecting is that maybe she could cook a store bought ham, some baked potatoes and maybe some canned corn. That’s it! It would’ve taken 10 minutes to throw that in the oven. But as I stated below she probably was high and/or drunk so couldn’t function enough to do that. So at this point, I guess that’s the reality of what I’m dealing with. I’m going to give her a call this weekend and let her know I’m concerned about her. She’ll say she’s fine and that will be the end of it because there’s nothing else I can really do.

    • Wildkitten :

      Hey Anony. It sounds like your mom is a drug addict, and that’s the issue, not manners. Have you considered therapy to talk about this? Or Al-Anon? It’s gotta be hard to be the adult child of an addict, and having support in your real life would probably be the most helpful. Good luck!

    • Diana Barry :

      You do sound snobby. Is this a change from the past? Does your mom usually make something for you or pay for your meals? Might she be going through some financial difficulty or depression that you don’t know about? (I have relatives who have depression and they find it difficult to think about anything like making dinner for people, etc., AT ALL when they are going through a rough spot.)

      FWIW, when we passed a certain milestone (marriage) my parents told us that they would no longer pay for things like dinners out, room and board for grad school, etc. Your mom may have decided some similar thing but then not told you about it.

  17. I guess what I’m really trying to say is that I didn’t feel like she was being a good host. For me – ensuring that people have tasty food is on the top of my entertaining list….but I’m also a foodie.

    • Considering that your mom has some personal issues, is it really a surprise that she didn’t cook dinner? I have issues with my own family from time to time but at the end of the day, they are my family and she is your mom. I guess all she wanted was for you to spend Christmas with her and didn’t think about making dinner or preparing something wonderful. You mentioned she has issues so these are probably the reasons why she wasn’t as good of a host as you had wanted. Maybe next time, she can come over to your place instead. Just a thought. I sympathize with you but also see that she is your mom.

      • Thanks for your feedback, Pat. Your comment kind of dug some things up for me. I think that I’m really bothered by her not cooking dinner because it really shows how bad her addiction is. You don’t realize how someone is living until you’re actually there with them. I worry about the day that she dies or goes to prison for life for her addictions. Sometimes I try to minimize these issues so that it doesn’t stress me out.

        Regarding her coming to my place – that’s what I wanted to do. I invited her and she said she didn’t want to drive 4 hours and begged us to drive up so that’s what we did.

      • Gosh, the more I read, the more sorry I am for your mother….. Obviously we don’t know the back story here, but your original post complaints sounded petty and spoiled to me. You are spending only ONE NIGHT with her, arriving at 7:30pm, and she should be slaving away all day to feed you/tuck you in, and get you ready to leave the next day for your father’s place? Did you really expect her to have a full dinner set and waiting for you to cross the threshold at 7:30pm? Yes, that is very unreasonable. A late arrival like that gets leftovers in our house, a casual hangout with chatting and hugging, and you start celebrating more the next day. Oh, but I guess you will be gone the next day at your Dad’s….

        Yes, you sound very snobby. My father would love a holiday dinner at TGIF, while I might prefer French Laundry, but I am ashamed by your attitude. This is your mother?!? Why did you even go?

        I don’t know why your post upsets me so much…. but yes, you are spoiled. Your poor mother, is lonely, probably has poorly treated psychiatric problems poorly treated contributing to her substance abuse.

        • I think that’s a bit harsh. We all come to these family issues with a bit of our own baggage. Personally, I’ve never come over to my mother’s, whether from far or close by, without her trying to feed me homemade food and my entire family is like this. When we go to my SO’s parents, they’re not of the same mindset, even if they know we drove from far away, and I have to admit that it continues to take me aback. I don’t take it personally but to me it comes across as strange. I don’t think it means I’m spoiled. And in the OP’s situation, I can understand expecting a holiday meal when visiting someone for the holidays. That said, it sounds like OP’s mom has much bigger issues and I think the solution in this situation is not to take it personally but to call mom and see how she is doing and find out if maybe something deeper is going on.

          • Yes, you are much kinder then me. I am harsh. But from the tone of the OP’s message, I think she can take it.

            Some people sometimes need a little shake up. Your tone/approach is subtle and kind and I can tell that is the kind of person you are. I don’t think the OP is that way… I think she needs a little bit of a shake up….

        • Anonymous :

          This is really harsh. My mom was an addict and I would have had this same reaction. Not taking time to cook, make a plan, make any reservations, etc. is just another way of making you, as a child of an addict that reality =

          your mom’s addiction >>>>>>> you.

          FWIW my Mom passed away from her addiction 4 years ago. I still haven’t gotten over it. It’s an extremely, extremely complex issue that combines a lot of feelings of anger, sadness, anxiety, and also love, hope, and acceptance. Please cut this poster some slack.

    • A good host? She’s your mother. You should be cooking for her! It seems to me she is overwhelmed and is crying for help. Are you listening?

      • To respond to everyone – my mom has been to rehab 8X in her life. My dad divorced her for not getting clean. You say – “she’s your mom”. Well, pretty much my whole life I’ve been her mom. I’m just sick of the excuses that come from an addict. I’m sure you get it if you grew up with an addict.

        • fluttershy :

          Anony, as someone who has been in a similar situation, mom with severe mental and physical issues, I can relate to your feelings. It upsets you and you wonder why can’t one time be about what I want? The best advice I can give you is first is to let it go. I have walked into these situations and will inevitably walk into them again. Don’t let it ruin your own life. I do think that even if isn’t was the best, cherish the time with you mom.

        • And that may have been the only unreasonable part of your expectations: that she would act like a mom this time and have a meal ready for you. But as my therapist often tells me “mom is never going to change so stop expecting her to do so.” It’s not fair and it sucks but let this be a gentle reminder to once again lower your expectations where your mom is concerned.

          • Senior Attorney :

            Yep. This.

            I’m so sorry, Anony. But she’s not the “has a nice dinner on the table on Christmas Eve” kind of mom.

        • Anonymous :

          I can relate. I was my mom’s mom until she passed away. It’s lousy and you’re NOT overreacting or acting “spoiled.” The people saying so don’t understand because they have not been in this situation.

          • Remember, her Original post said nothing about her Mom having substance abuse etc… so I think we can agree that her response was not appropriate, and there are valid reasons for her discomfort.

        • My dad is an addict, and my mom is a massive co-dependent enabler. Honestly, at some point you have to stop being an internal child and hoping that this time your mother will be your mom. She won’t. She never will. It isn’t going to happen. You’re constantly finding yourself disappointed because you expect something that you have no reason to expect (because it’s never once happened, has it? No. Not if she’s been to rehab 8x. She’s NEVER been the mom you were hoping for as you drove 4 hours.Never.)

          You can’t change her. You can only change you. You need to go to therapy and figure out how to deal with the mother YOU HAVE, instead of being repeatedly disappointed by not having the one you want. If that means cutting off contact, then that’s what it means. If that means learning how to deflect the guilt trips and not being guilted into going somewhere you don’t want to go in the first place, only to be disappointed again when you really should know better by now, then that’s what it means.

          I don’t say this to be mean, I say it as someone who finally, at almost 40 years old, has figured out that these are the parents I have and no amount of wishing and hoping is going to turn them into anyone else. You DO sound like a spoiled, petulant child, but I understand that, because it’s the 8 year old inside you that’s talking right now, hurt and disappointed yet again to realize that you don’t really matter that much to her. That your driving 4 hours was about HER, not you. It was about her reassuring herself that she could get you to do it (because addicts are master manipulators) and giving her the opportunity to whine/complain about her problem du jour (because addicts ALWAYS have a reason they are the victim). And you’re hurt, and it instantly turns you into a child and you react as a child. So I understand. But you’ve got to work on yourself and your reactions because she will NEVER CHANGE. Never, ever, ever.

    • On the surface, it could appear that you’re being snobby, but I know what you’re going through and that what you’re really upset about isn’t this dinner – you’re upset about ALL the dinners. All the letdowns and disappointments and false hope and worry that your mom being an addict has caused. This one dinner is the sum of it all, and you’re always hoping that things will change, and when they don’t, it hurts all over again, and it never seems to get easier. You have to force yourself to cut her some slack and remember that the path she’s on is an extremely tough one. Sending you hugs.

      • Hugs to all of you/ us who struggle with families with addictions! Take care of yourself and remember that you cannot change other people. I also want to second the poster who suggested AlAnon. It has really been helpful for me in dealing with the sorts of feelings described here.

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