Splurge Monday’s Workwear Report: Paisley-Print Velvet Shawl-Collar Jacket

Our daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.

I’ve seen a lot of gorgeous velvet blazers over the years, but this dark green, paisley-print blazer at Brooks Brothers may be one of my favorites. I love the color and the print, and I think in general it looks stylish and really great. It’s festive, but not so much so that you couldn’t keep wearing it beyond the holidays. It comes in sizes 0–16 and is $498. Paisley-Print Velvet Shawl-Collar Jacket

For a more affordable option, check out the floral jacquard blazer we featured last week, and for plus sizes, Tahari ASL has a deep green velvet blazer in sizes 14W–24W.

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Comments

  1. Diana Barry :

    FYI I got a velvet blazer at Old Navy recently – paid probably $30. :D

    • Ok…. so, what’s your point? That you prefer buying you clothes at fast fashion places, cheaply made, made by underpaid folks probably in SE Asia, that wont last?

      So, did you like the blazer? Is it well made? What figure type does it work for? Do you have a link?

      • Wow. Is the attitude really necessarily? Clearly her point is that she found a blazer for a low price and she wanted to share that information, and her smiley face indicates she liked it.

        Your obnoxious comments and questions are uncalled for, and suggest you should take the stick out that’s stuck up you.

        • Anon for this :

          Ok, that’s one interpretation.

          Clearly, I thought the Old Navy poster was making more of a comment like…. you’d pay $500 for this? I got one for $30 and that was good enough for me. Smiley face…. I’m not crazy enough to pay $500.

          Who knows what people really mean…

          • If you’re not sure about someone’s tone, it’s generally better to give them the benefit of the doubt, and thus avoid ridiculous escalating internet arguments.

      • Ugh, go home, Anonymous. You’re obnoxious.

      • Fwiw, plenty of $500 blazers are made in Southeast Asia too. I’m not sure the price of clothing has that much correlation to how well the people who make it are paid or treated.

      • I love it when first thing on a Monday morning, right outta the gate, someone who hasn’t had get coffee yet/broke up with her boyfriend this weekend/has a run in her pantyhose goes right for someone’s jugular. Jeezus, Anonymous. Chill TF out.

        • So, I was a regular reader of this blog for a long time, then took a hiatus for a couple of years. I’ve recently started reading it again and have been really disappointed to see how negative many of the comments have become.

      • If you read this quickly in a Paris Geller voice, it’s pretty funny.

      • Sloan Sabbith :

        Shut the f up, you judgmental POS.

        • Whoa. Anon’s comment was rude and obnoxious but this reaction is kind of…disproportionate. Anger issues, much?

        • Anonymous :

          Is that really necessary, Sloan?

          I actually thought the comment wasn’t terrible. There is always someone who makes a note of the price on Mondays.

          • Anonymous :

            Agreed, I feel like there’s a lot of judging us against those who prefer to buy items at a higher price point. (Yes, I know ability, priorities, privilege are all in play here).

            I love that Mondays feature these items, and I definitely don’t begrudge Fridays for featuring lower price items.

        • Anonymous :

          Wow. Totally uncalled for. Have some manners.

      • Somebody woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning.

        • Diana Barry :

          Pahahaha! Just came back to find the attack from the crabby tr*ll of the week. Enjoy your day!

          • Hey Diana,

            So maybe you can tell us. Were you trying to promote the blazer you bought because you like it and recommend it, or were you making your comment as a this-price-point-is-cray-cray situation?

            I guess it isn’t terrible to assume good intentions for all posts, yes?

        • If that’s directed to me, yeah. Oops. I’ll apologize tomorrow. Bad day.

  2. This morning several of my coworkers went around and gave out little gifts to everyone in our department- coffee mugs, chocolate, homemade treats, etc. I didn’t know anyone was doing this and I feel terrible I didn’t plan anything to give them! Most people are taking their holiday starting tomorrow, so this was kind of the last chance to do anything. Is it weird if I bring gifts in January? Or should I just say thank you, move on, and remember for next year?

    • Anonymous :

      Say thank you and move on.

    • Say thank you and move on. If you’d like, do something like bring in homemade treats for everyone later in January or in February, in the depths of winter when everyone can use a little cheering up.

    • Anonymous :

      Say thanks and move on.

    • Write a kind thank you note wishing them a happy holiday and include something personal about how you’ve appreciated them for X this past year and slip it to them before the end of the day. To me, thoughtful words and recognition are more meaningful than a knick-knack.

    • Anonanonanon :

      Either thank you and move on or run out on your lunch break and get a box of generic holiday cards and a bag of candy so you have something to give people if it happens again. THat’s what I keep in my desk every year.

    • Say thanks and move on OR bring in bagels for everyone at some point in the new year.

  3. cat socks :

    I’m hosting dinner on Christmas Eve for 6 adults. Instead of ham, I’m thinking of doing pork tenderloin. Any recommendations for recipes?

    I’m also going to make stuffing and some type of potato casserole. Maybe Funeral Potatoes. I’ve seen that recipe on some food blogs. I’d like to incorporate some type of vegetable. I’m thinking of doing a homemade green bean casserole. Any other ideas for easy side dishes?

    Thanks!

    • I’d maybe do stuffing and 1 casserole, plus a green vegetable. Roasted veggies like asparagus, brussel sprouts, or broccoli are easy and delicious. For the tenderloin, can you grill it? If you want to switch to a pork roast, the Missippi pork roast recipe online is really good in either an instant pot ot the crock pot. Not the fanciest recipes, but the flavor is awesome.

      • cat socks :

        Thanks! We’re in Ohio so it will be cold, but grilling is still doable. I’ll have to watch the weather. I looked up the Mississippi pork roast recipe and it would nice to do that in the crock pot ahead of time.

    • McCormick Bag N Season Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin. Trust. I’ve used that recipe for at least 1 party per year for the last decade and it’s always a HUGE hit. And it’s super easy. And there’s practically no clean up! You might have to hunt a little to find a store that carries it (if you’re in the south, it should be easier), but it’s absolutely worth looking for. It’s with the McCormick spices with the little red packets of taco seasoning and gravy mixes, etc.

      My ex-h’s grandmother actually did make funeral potatoes and they really are delicious, so those are highly endorsed over here.

      Green bean casserole sounds great, too. Enjoy!

    • This is my very favorite pork tenderloin marinade. I use sweet hot mustard for the mustard component. Don’t skimp on letting it marinade for the full 24 hours either. It’s key to really infusing the flavor. https://www.whitecranewinery.com/grilledpork.php

      Also, I’m a fan of Smitten Kitchen green bean casserole and Mr. Dells cheesy hashbrown casserole if you’re looking at funeral potatoes.

      • Not the OP, but thank you! I’m definitely saving that pork tenderloin recipe for this summer. It sounds delicious.

    • Anonymous :

      I’d do stuffing or potatoes and a noncasserole vegetable.

    • You need something light and fresh to counteract the pork + potatoes + casserole. Maybe a leafy green salad with quinoa and some kind of fruit like pomegranates or mandarin oranges or something. It’ll make everything else taste more delicious.

    • I’d definitely add a green vegetable of some sort, or maybe a salad to start? Roasted broccoli is super easy. Another dead simple one is the trader joes bagged haricot verts, steam them till bright green. Toast slivered almonds in butter and salt, toss green beans with almonds at last minute – quick, easy, and yummy!.

    • We had a particularly warm Christmas eve the first year I hosted so I marinated pork tenderloins in balsamic and fresh rosemary, then grilled it. Quick and easy.

    • Anon in NYC :

      Pork braised in milk and cream. https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/6509-pork-braised-in-milk-and-cream

      It will be nearly impossible to find a butcher to lard the pork. I find that partially wrapping it with fat and tying it works pretty well. Then you just discard it before serving. The beauty of the recipe is that it can be done in advance and then warmed up on the stove before serving.

    • Roast pork tenderloin with mustard-tarragon sauce from epicurious. Super easy and very good.

      If you want something light and easy that seems fancy to go with it, I’d go with the spinach salad with bosc pears, dried cranberries, red onion, and toasted hazelnuts (also from epicurious) or a cranberry waldorf salad (I can’t remember where my recipe is from, but you’ll have to look around a little to find one of the lighter versions).

    • If you are going to roast pork you might as well throw root veggies in there.

      Cut up squash, red onion, and brussels and throw them in a roasting pan with a rack. If you want to grease the bottom of the pan lightly or toss in a tiny bit of oil, do so (the pork juice will keep the veggies moist. Add salt and pepper.

      Par boil baby potatoes (halved) for around 5 min. Throw them in with the veg.

      Make a mix of olive oil, dijon mustard, garlic powder, and ginger. Poke holes in the roast and rub it all over the pork. Then salt and pepper it.

      Cook the pork on a rack on top of the veg as long as needed to be done (I typically use the old Betty Crocker charts, somewhere around 20 min per pound, but I don’t remember what temp).

      Slice the roast and mix up the veg. YUM.

      I’d serve with a green salad with a light vinagrette if you are also going to do a casserole.

      Frankly the biggest Christmas hit at my house is Ina Garten’s tenderloin. People rave. I follow her recipe exactly.

    • Anonymous :

      Do people still actually eat pork? Pigs are highly intelligent sentient beings. I wouldn’t eat one.

      • Anonymous :

        Pigs are delicious!

      • Is this a real question? Honestly asking, not trying to be a troll. I’m super-friendly to the “eat less meat!” arguments and consume minimal meat myself, but anyone in the US who has gone to a grocery store or butcher shop, or turned on a television, knows that people still eat pork. What has your life experience been that you’re surprised to hear that someone would be cooking pork?

      • Anonymous :

        The tr0lls were out in force today!

  4. When will home decor go on sale? :

    I am the poster who is (heavily) pregnant and was planning on moving this past weekend. I am SO glad I posted here because we did end up moving everything in one go and it feels so good to have that done.

    Now we need to look at furniture and closet organizers. Does anyone know if this type of stuff goes on a better sale post-Christmas (like clothes, etc.)? Trying to figure out the best time to buy.

    • January is huge for organizing – wait just a bit and you’ll start to see the flyers for Target, etc.

    • Former Retail :

      I would think organization products could be on sale in January – traditional time of year for that sort of thing.

    • The Container Store Elfa sale usually starts shortly after Christmas.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Congratulations on the move!

    • If you change your address through the post office, you’ll get a ton of deals for Pottery Barn, West Elm, Wayfair, etc. sent to you. Usually 20% off, which can be a big savings for furniture.

  5. A product recommendation: Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm. It’s a chapstick that’s 1) actually moisturizing 2) imparts a pretty, natural color and 3) has SPF 20. I have more than one, but my favorite color is Sunny Berry – just enough color to look like you’re wearing something, but super comfortable on the lips. It’s replaced my lipsticks for this winter.

    https://www.neutrogena.com/revitalizing-lip-balm-spf-20/6800960.html

    • Thanks for the rec! My lips get so chapped in the winter. I like that it’s moisturizing and has a bit of color.

      • My lips are always chapped in the winter, but I just got a lip balm made out of lanolin, and it healed my lips in like two days without constant applications. It doesn’t feel great going on but it really works.

  6. What presents are you most excited about giving/getting this year? I still haven’t finished my shopping and am looking for inspiration.

    • Baconpancakes :

      I love shopping for my friends, since I get to buy them the things I think are pretty and fun. I bought them a ring shaped like mountain peaks, a fancy hair paste, a Mary Berry cookbook, crazy toe socks, and a box of Start the F**k Over Profani-Tea for a friend who just got dumped.

    • Clementine :

      Giving: my kid is getting a wooden train set. He’s obsessed with his little friend’s train set, so he’s going to go bananas when he has one of his own.

      Getting: Santa is putting sheet masks in my stocking. I love love love sheet masks but can’t generally justify the little mini splurge on myself.

    • Giving- 90’s style looney tunes tie (inside joke), framed print from SkyImageLab
      Getting- mini steamer, symphony tickets

    • A DIY hot sauce kit for my younger brother from Food 52.

    • So excited for my gift to my dad, someone who’s notoriously hard to buy for. He doesn’t do Spotify or Pandora and loves country music but hates what they play on the radio. Music was always our thing and we’d play a game where I had to name the artist & song for classic country and blues artists. I’m gifting him some albums of his favorite artists that he doesn’t know about because they aren’t played on the radio and a few of my own favorite artists that I think he would love. Music has always been a way for us to bond so I’m really excited to give him a bit of “my” music.

      Sidenote – I remember saving my money to buy a $20 album in high school and now they’re for $7-$10 on Amazon. Had no clue they were this cheap now!

    • Gifts I am giving that I am excited about:

      Snow shoes
      Bread of the Month club

      Gifts that I am getting that I am excited about (that I bought for myself):

      Leather cashmere lined gloves, cashmere infinity type scarf (both on sale at Nordstroms)
      My favorite See’s candies
      One visit by a cleaning company to clean my apartment in January.

      • There are no See’s stores where we live, so my mother sends us a box of our favorites every Christmas. It is always one of the most-anticipated gifts.

        • Senior Attorney :

          LOVE See’s candy!! It’s always the most popular when it shows up at a White Elephant gift exchange around here!

      • +1. Also excited about getting my favorite See’s candies from my mom.

    • I am not going to make it to my brother’s this year so I sent them a fun new game and I sent my brother the Charlie Brown Christmas book (Making of a Tradition) because he loves it. He sent me a farting stuffed poop emoji. Ha. I have no idea what else I may get. I don’t really like getting presents. If I go to small shops this week, I may buy a few things for me.

    • We’re all doing well in life and no one in my family really wants/needs anything, so we decided to to donation “gifts” this year. I donated enough to a non-profit that works to restore depleted rainforest areas to offset our carbon contributions in 2017 (savingspecies.org, in case anyone is interested).

    • Senior Attorney :

      Giving: We got my son a bicycle over the weekend and that was great! Also I got my husband this really cool watch with wood insets, which I think he will really like: https://www.originalgrain.com/products/chrono-burl-wood-steel

      Getting: We said no gifts but my husband is all hot and bothered about wanting to get me a new car. Which seems insane but we’ll see…

    • Excited to receive: A fitbit and a pretty gold bangle to put it in! I’m so behind the times on getting on the activity tracker train but I’m extremely excited about my fitbit. I got it yesterday “from my husband” (we each buy our own gifts and say its from each other) and started using it immediately. I have a really sedentary job and think of myself as a couch potato who probably walks 700 steps total per day, but I’ve already walked over 3,000 steps today just doing my normal stuff! I have never have any kind of health or fitness thing that makes me feel better about myself, so this one is a pleasant surprise.

      Most excited to give: I’m giving my 3 yo daughter and 5 yo niece matching barbies and dress up clothes. We’re going to the beach next week and they are going to have the best time ever playing together. We live on opposite coasts, but my daughter loves her cousin so much and it’s so sweet when they play together.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      In year 4 of my quest to replicate a much loved Christmas recipe, I think I’m much closer this year! For any long-time Minneapolis/St.Paul readers, this is the cardamom bread from the much-mourned Palm’s Bakery in St. Louis Park.

      Palm’s Bakery was self-described as a Swedish bakery. It seems the cardamom bread might be a traditionally Finnish recipe!

      *fingers crossed*

      • Hmm, my mother makes a Swedish cardamom Christmas bread every year. Look up recipes for “Yule Kaka Bread” or “Yulekaga”

        • Anonymous :

          I make our family’s Swedish cardamom Christmas bread every year, since my Mom passed!

          My Swedish Grandmother always called it Swedish coffee bread, and it goes back to her family in Sweden.

        • My mom makes Norwegian julekake, which is more of a fruitcake type of thing. I love it <3

      • We make this too and it isn’t Christmas without it! Swedes, Finns, and Estonians all have a version. If you want the my Estonian grandmother’s recipe, please post an anonymous address and I’ll send it to you.

        • I’ll just post it here. Enjoy!

          10 cardamon seeds (can use ground)
          1 stick butter
          1 cup raisins
          2 pkg yeast
          ¾ cup lukewarm water
          1 Teaspoon salt
          4 eggs
          1 small can evaporated milk
          ¾ cup sugar
          5 cups flour

          Heat on low – sugar, butter, salt and milk until butter melts. Soak raisins in mixture, let cool.

          In a big bowl, put butter mixture, raisins, cardamon, yeast/water mixture and 5 cups flour. Add most of egg. Beat until mixture comes off spoon. Add more flour, knead and add additional flour until dough does not stick.

          Put in a greased bowl; let rise 1-1/2 hours. Roll in a bit of flour, cut in half and make three strips from each half. Braid the strips. Bake at 350 for ½ hour. Egg wash+white sugar on top.

      • If the recipe doesn’t go well and you need an alternative, try searching for the Finnish version “pulla” aka “nissua”. There is a version on allrecipe that is pretty foolproof.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I am SO excited to give Kiddo the dollhouse we made for her. Oh I really hope she loves it. I mean, she will, right? It’s a big ol’ colorful dollhouse with stairs and lights and she’s almost 3, how could she not love it?

    • Excited to give: A pair of kojima pearl earrings to my sister. I think she will love them

      Excited to receive: The cashmere wrap from Nordstrom someone on here recommended. I ordered it and gave it to my husband to give to me. Can’t wait.

    • Horse Crazy :

      Excited to give my boyfriend a Playstation 4…he jokingly asked for it, knowing how expensive it is, but I found it $100 off on Cyber Monday. He’s going to be so excited :)

      Excited to get a dutch oven! All the braising!

    • Excited to give: I just sent a box of local (New Orleans) food items to an aunt who grew up here. She’s requested most of the items on the list before when we’ve visited, so I know she likes them, but this package will be a surprise.

      Excited to get: My husband “bought” me a Nespresso machine for my office. Besides wanting to upgrade my coffee at work, I also feel like it’s part of settling in to my office (after being here a year).

  7. I love discovering new workwear brands (especially founded by local women) and finally got a chance to check out Argent last week. Kat included her on her Roundup of independent brands last year and recently they’ve been getting some good press from NYTimes, Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton.
    I’d definitely recommend dropping by to meet them in NY, DC or SF if you’re on the hunt for unique pant suits. The aesthetic reminds me of a modern Mary Tyler Moore (a positive in my book). Some things are harder to wear, especially as styled on their site, but I appreciate the personality of it all. It’s a similar price point (and sizing) to MMlaFleur and they do use synthetics, so not a good fit for those only looking for natural fibers. But the pants are super comfortable and got a thumbs up from my normally picky husband.
    I have absolutely no affiliation with them but hadn’t found much first hand reviews of them so hope this helps others who might be curious.

  8. What are your favorite brands of tea? I’m just getting more into tea after being a long-time coffee-only drinker. I’m willing to order online for extra-special tea, rather than the stuff you find in the grocery store. TIA!

    • I like Tea2 and Harney and Sons.

      • Awesome! Someone just gave me a little Harney and Sons herbal tin (which I’m drinking right now and which is absolutely delicious, and is also which inspired this post).

        • If you’re looking to get into tea I highly recommend single varietal black teas without flavoring. Really taste the tea! Enjoy.

    • I drink Twinings Irish Breakfast. It’s a strong black tea that might be a good transition from coffee!

    • Anonanonanon :

      Capital Teas from the DC area. I’m sure you can order online as well.

    • Mighty Leaf cherry lemon green tea

    • I like Mighty Leaf tea. They make my favorite herbal tea, African Nectar.

    • I only drink loose leaf. I really love the earl grey blend from For Tea’s Sake.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      Republic of Tea Ginger Peach. I also like Tea Forte.

    • Rishi Tea is a really great place to get loose leaf (and some bagged) teas. They sell online and at Whole Foods. I have tried multiple teas from them and they are all top-top quality. Great place to start if you really want to get into tea.

    • I like Mighty Leaf. The Bombay Chai and Organic Breakfast are my favorites.

    • Mariage Freres tea from France

    • Adagio teas and Fortnum and Mason

    • Twinings Earl Grey is my ride or die. Especially delicious iced, but hot with a little sugar is also dreamy.

    • I’ve been a bit obsessed with Palais des Thes. A bit of a splurge but so good. The jasmine green tea they have is hands down the best green tea ever. They also have some amazing blends (I love the The du Hammam and the Montagne Bleu; also the something called The des Moines, which is a really interesting black and green blend). They sell both loose and bagged tea, and the loose is better, but the tea bags are still really good, too. They have a webs*te but are sometimes also available on amazon.

      I also love Kusmi Tea, specifically the BB Detox one in the yellow tin. I’m not a huge herbal tea person but it’s very refreshing and every person I’ve given it to as a gift has really loved it (to the point that my mom now expects a large tin every year and got upset with me when I deviated and gave her another variety to try last year).

    • Anony Mouse :

      A good primer: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/02/best-tea-where-to-buy.html

      I enjoy giving tea from Harney and Sons and Mariage Freres as gifts.

      At work I drink bagged tea for the convenience of it. Clipper Fairtrade Organic English Breakfast is my go-to wake-up beverage.

      For iced tea, I like to cold brew a pitcher of Yamamotoyama loose tea: 75% Sencha and 25% Hojicha (roasted green). It’s good quality at an excellent price point.

      In general, I suggest starting by buying samples, so you can figure out what you like and what you dislike.

    • Anything from Montana Tea and Spice. Their website is archaic and the catalog gets mailed out from a regular printer printout stapled together every year because they’re a small operation, but there is nothing more perfect than the Evening in Missoula tea. The smell, the taste, the cult following amongst those of us who love it…

    • Lupicia teas – its a Japanese company – are my favorite. Their green teas are particularly fantastic. I love the paradise green tea, the momo, and the rose royal are all amazing.

    • Seconding the recommendation to try black teas without flavoring.

      Adagio Teas has a good selection of unflavored black teas, and their shipping is reasonable. I recently ordered a bunch of black teas from Teabox.com. Shipping is a little more expensive, but they have a pretty big variety of unflavored black teas. I ordered several that were on sale (I guess because they were “summer” blends) and have been pretty happy with them. There’s one called Himalayan Wine that is very good.

      FYI, 4 ounces of black tea is a pretty good amount of tea. It’s too much to all fit into an empty Trader Joe Grapefruit Marmalade jam jar, my storage system of choice.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Harney & Sons is the tea that made me understand why some people choose tea over coffee! Especially their spicy cinnamon one…yummmm

    • Lana Del Raygun :

      I like Barry’s, which is apparently one side of a fierce Coke v. Pepsi style debate among Irish tea-drinkers. (My SIL picked this side when she was in Ireland, so this is what she brought me, and it’s good. I have no idea if the other is?)

      I also like Sunflower brand jasmine tea, which you can find on Amazon if you don’t have an Asian grocery. It comes in a really nice tin, too!

    • Republic of Tea Cinnamon Cardamom–it’s Christmas in a cup!

    • biglawanon :

      Lupicia. So many varieties.

      • Anonymous :

        Love the Lupicia rooibos whereas I dislike a lot of rooibos.

        Also love the happy tea from Fauchon.

    • If you happen to live someplace with a Chinatown, they most likely have at least one store with a large (sometimes bulk) tea selection … it can be a very fun excursion!

    • I order all my tea from Upton Tea.

    • I bought a tin of loose tea from Harrods called Autumn or something and it’s delicious! It’s decaffeinated and tastes like cheesecake. Gotta say Tazo is still my favorite overall.

  9. Baconpancakes :

    How do you gracefully alert family that the gifts they receive are not from you and your SO, but just from you? I sent a box of Harry and David pears to my in-laws, and they sent a text to both of us, specifically thanking us both. He still needs to buy a gift for them – it was only from me. Can I correct them or does he need to do it?

    • Nope, sounds like he is off the hook for sending them a gift, and should give you half the money for the pears.

      • Baconpancakes :

        Does it make a difference that I signed it “Thank you so much for making me feel so welcome at Thanksgiving! Happy Holidays! – Baconpancakes”

        • No. Chill.

        • No, if you signed the card from just you then you did all that is reasonably polite to alert them that the gift was just from you. Many people, apparently including his parents, will view your SO and you as a social unit, will view the social efforts made by you as the efforts of the unit, and there’s no way to graciously correct that. On the upside, if your husband organizes the gift next year, you’ll be off the hook.

          • Linda from HR :

            The other night my boyfriend and I attended a party, he brought a couple of gifts for people that I had no prior knowledge of, and at one point a woman said to her kid “look what John and Linda gave you!” and I thought of correcting her but figured saying anything would be awkward.

            We’re not really at the point where we’re gifting together as a unit on purpose, but it’s not ridiculous for people to assume we are.

        • In in-laws’ shoes, I would think it was supposed to be a post-hoc hostess gift, which I would assume comes from my DIL not my own kid. I wouldn’t think it was supposed to be a holiday gift.

          I’m guessing they didn’t read the note. They assumed the gift was from both of you because couples typically gift together. Since they took it that way, I think DH should sign your name to whatever gift he gets them. In the future you don’t need to get them a gift on your own unless you really want to. But even then sign his name to it anyway.

          • Baconpancakes :

            Really? That is surprising to me. In my family, an $50+ case of pears is not a friendly thank you, it’s a very fancy full gift.

            But this is really helpful; I was raised by a single parent, and the idea that most couples give joint gifts is actually quite surprising to me. My mom and stepdad still give me separate gifts at holidays. Honest to goodness, I did not know that was the standard practice, which explains the vehemence of the “let it go” replies.

          • I see where you are coming from now.

            I am a stepparent and in the early days, I used to get my stepson a separate present from me. B/c most presents are joint presents, I wanted him to know that I was thinking of him and making a point to do so. Maybe that is what your stepdad is doing?

            10 years out, strangely, all of his awesome (to him) presents are joint ones that I pick out. His dad just hands him a check (also a joint gift).

          • @Baconpancakes — the note, to me, reads like a hostess thank-you note. Be careful they’re not expecting something else from the two of you for Christmas, if that was actually intended as a Christmas gift.

    • Why? This makes no sense. If he wants to get them another gift, great, but you’re married so it’s real real weird to be this insistent on no no just I did this.

      • +1. I don’t understand the score-keeping.

      • Baconpancakes :

        Because I don’t want to set the precedent that I do all the emotional labor of gift-selections for family and friends. If all gifts start being “from both of us,” he’ll just never buy another gift for family members, and I’ll be the only one doing it for the rest of our lives.

        • That’s a problem that you solve with him by using your words, not passive aggressively being weird with his family!

          • +1

          • +1

          • +2

            FWIW, having each half of a couple individually give gifts to other people strikes me as unusual. Like we give gifts to each of my husband’s mom and dad, but they are all from “us” (regardless of whether the actual item was my idea or husband’s) and likewise when we receive gifts from them, it’s from “them” to each of us. Or sometimes to both of us/them if it’s a gift for the house.

            Individual scorekeeping seems really inefficient! If you’re worried about the emotional labor of gift giving, your SO should have thought of and sent the pears from both of you.

          • Yep, this.

          • This sort of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George paid for Elaine’s salad, but someone else (his girlfriend I think?) handed it to her and got the thanks. It was literally an entire episode about how petty that is.

          • Senior Attorney :

            This is not worded very gracefully, but I agree with the concept. To me, and I think most people, it seems more than weird for a married couple to give separate gifts to each set of parents.

            If you want him to be in charge of gifts for his family, then put him in charge of gifts for his family. Under no circumstances should you drag his parents into your marital division-of-labor issues by correcting their assumption about who sent the pears.

          • biglawanon :

            +1

        • Then tell him that and split up the gift buying. It’s weird that you want to claim all the credit.

        • Then you shouldn’t have gotten his family members gifts. I get the emotional labor point but if you send a gift it’s pretty reasonable for them to assume its from both of you, especially if he hasn’t sent them gifts in the past.

          • Baconpancakes :

            ?? He has sent them gifts every year.

            Genuinely asking, why would you assume that a gift with one person’s name on the card is from both people?

            And yes, I did say “hey, Mr. Baconpancakes, can you either tell me you want to do combined gifts up front or tell your dad the gift isn’t from both of us?” The original question was whether it was important that he send the “ha ha, it was just from her” text, or whether I could do it.

          • Don’t text his family that the gift is just from you. That is so petty and crazy. Let it gooooooooooooo!
            Tell your SO he can buy the gifts next year and you don’t want to get in the habit of doing all the emotional labor.

          • Neither of you should do it! Why is this hard to understand? Maybe they didn’t read closely, maybe they assumed that since you’re together, you do things together, maybe they were just being nice? It’s really really strange to be this concerned that his parents understand you didn’t do this together. If it’s such a drama for you, next year make him buy the gift and sign your name to it too.

          • When a couple is married (or lives together or shares finances), most people assume a gift from one is a gift from both, because it came out of a shared financial pot. Makes sense to me. It’s not a huge logical leap to extend this to a newer couple that doesn’t yet live together and I’d be flattered that they are treating you like a more serious/established couple.

        • Right but how this usually works is you divide up the list and sign from both of you. I buy for my sister/BIL and parents and nieces/nephews and sign the cards from both of us. DH buys for his mom and brother and signs the card from both of us. I would find it really strange to get a separate gift at the holidays from one half of a married couple that was close family.

          • Baconpancakes :

            They are really big gift people – like they gave me two personal gifts at Christmas last year, and they gave him four or five personal gifts. That was my first Christmas with them.

          • And? It’s a case of pears. Chill. Please.

          • Yes, I would find this odd, too. This is our first Christmas married but ever since he has been in the picture, we give gifts from us even if he does more ‘gift scouting’ for his side and I do more ‘gift scouting’ for my side. This year was so busy for us and our families have different gift-giving expectations and traditions, so we bounced our ideas and final lists/budgets off each other and then executed separately because we are so swamped with other things.

          • @Baconpancakes — exactly. “They” gave each of you several personal gifts. You didn’t get separate gifts “from” his mom and “from” his dad, right?

          • Yes, but notice how ‘they’ gave you gifts? His mom didn’t give you one gift and his dad didn’t give you a separate gift. Regardless of who purchase/wrapped them, the gifts were from both of them.

        • Here’s my view, concepts like emotional labor make for great magazine articles but can cause unnecessary conflict if you use those ideas to keep score. Use it to frame your discussions about who’s going to do what, and maybe come back to it if things get out of control. Relationships need some give and take too – some weeks or months, you might do all the labor, but as long as other weeks or months you can lean on your partner, that might not be a problem.

          • +1. Plus, “emotional labor” can cumulatively be a big thing, but purchasing and sending a gift to someone once or twice a year is not. Don’t borrow trouble by jumping from “I bought the gift for his family” to “I’m doing all the emotional labor.” There is much more to emotional labor than gifts.

          • This. 100%. And if the concept of emotional labor leads you to think that you need to text his family to let them know a gift is from only you and not him…then maybe reassess.

          • I feel like half the time the concept of “emotional labor” just makes people feel bad about the things they like doing.

          • This times a million million million, from a longtime married person.

            I did the gifts this year for my son’s teachers, our housekeepers, and my parents. I was about to get resentful when I realized that while I was doing those things, my husband was fixing our furnace (saving us a $1000 repair bill), buying gifts for his family and his work gift exchange, and cleaning up the dog’s p00p, all without being asked or reminded. He did his share this weekend.

            I agree with the whole “emotional labor” concept but I also think going through a relationship life keeping score about who’s done what how many times seems like a recipe for misery. It reminds me of the movie “The Joy Luck Club” where the husband insisted on splitting everything down the middle, all the time, and it made it impossible for the couple to have a normal life.

        • Correcting them would be weird. I mean if you are going to go off and get gifts all on your own, you are doing all that “emotional labor” voluntarily anyway. You need to have a conversation with him about gifts and expectations. Leaving it up to him also means being accepting when he gives gifts that you think are stupid, which he will inevitably do.

        • Anonanonanon :

          Honestly if you’re this worked up about this, I don’t blame them for essentially CCing your husband on their “thank you” text. Probably wanted him to see what was said in case you had an issue with how they said it etc. (which, you do…)

        • But now your just setting yourself up to do double the work for the rest of your lives? It’s very common to do gifts as a couple. Just have him do the gifts next year. Deep breathes – and do not have him or you text about it

        • Don’t agree with all the people using words like “crazy” to describe you here Baconpancakes.

          But I will say, the division of emotional labor is something you work out between you and your SO. The recognition of that emotional labor from his family members is a completely different question, and you may have to accept not getting your due.

        • Lana Del Raygun :

          Texting the in-laws won’t fix that problem, though. You have to work out a balance of emotional labor between the two of you. The only way his parents’ being confused about this present factors into that is if he takes it as an opportunity to dump all the present-work on you … but if he does, he probably would have found some other opportunity if this hadn’t happened, so it’s still a you-and-him issue, not an in-laws issue.

        • This sounds like a discussion to have with him, not with your in-laws.

      • I assume that most people have a common financial pot, so the gift comes from the household even if only one person signed the card.

        Like presents from my parents: Mom signs the cards “from Mom and Dad.” I know dad had nothing to do with it — he’s an old guy who does not really shop except for books and chain saws. When Home Depot delivers a couple of sets of sawhorses or I get books that are somehow wildly inappropriate (bio of the out of africa lady pilot — not something really for a teen girl), I know it’s 100% dad.

        SRSLY — do not make this the hill you die on

    • Anonanonanon :

      If it’s really that important to you, have HIM send the text, but by no means send them a text saying they’re just from you. That will look petty and not be a good impression.

      • This is how you out yourself as a score-keeping B.

        Do not force your issues with your spouse onto your inlaws. Hella awkward for them.

      • Anonanonanon :

        I agree nothing should be done, but if she’s as determined as she seems to be from her responses to everyone’s suggestions that she let it go, the best course is to just have her husband say “Thanks, baconpancakes ordered them, we’re so glad you like them!” or something

    • I don’t think you typically need to each get individual gifts for close family members and I agree with the above points re: scorekeeping, but … to me, sending pears as a “thanks for your hospitality at Thanksgiving” is not equal to a gift for another holiday. So if you/your SO “owe” a holiday gift, then you/ your SO still owe that gift. The pears were a nice gesture.

      • Anonanonanon :

        ^I thought this too. It sounds like they were more of a “thank you for hosting thanksgiving” gift than a Christmas gift, so just have him get the christmas gift and you’re “even”?

        • SFAttorney :

          Yes, but the parents didn’t take it that way. It seems pretty clear they didn’t read the card. Her SO would not be thanking his parents for making him feel welcome at Thanksgiving.

    • You will not have a happy life if you are constantly keeping score like this. I’m not saying women doing a disproportionate share of emotional labor is not a real issue, but you need to figure out a global way to handle that through conversations with your SO about what your respective “chore areas” should be and not by asking him to text his family that a gift you bought was just from you. You need to figure this out at a big picture level, you simply can’t keep track of who does every little thing for the family/household – doing so will ultimately make both you and your SO miserable.
      Fwiw, I do the vast majority of the emotional labor and I’m fine with it – my husband makes up for it by doing a larger percentage of the housework, especially grocery shopping and cooking, and I would much rather do things like buy holiday gifts and send flowers when someone is ill than have to stand at the stove and cook dinner after a long day at work. My husband would rather cook and is also better at cooking than he is at picking out gifts and remembering special occasions so it works well all around. As long as the ultimate division of labor (emotional and practical) feels fair to both you and your SO, that’s all that matters.

    • Anonattorney :

      @Baconpancakes – on the individual gifts thing, my husband and I do this for some of our family members. Usually it’s because we genuinely want to give something to the person; i.e., my sister and my husband have very similar tastes in books, so he usually gives he a few books for Christmas that he has personally picked out, whereas I usually buy her clothes or a beauty item because I know her style. I don’t think it’s weird to do individual gifts.

      BUT, I think if your goal is to avoid doing the emotional labor, then definitely don’t do individual gifts, because in my experience this always morphs into more work, not less. Just don’t buy the gift. Make him do it.

    • In our family there is a running joke about how presents from my mom “are from my dad too.” Everyone knows who picked out the gift, wrapped it, and signed the cards. This year I sent out our first couple present to my dad on his birthday and signed it “Love, Me.–P.s. DH says its from him too”

      I love picking out thoughtful presents and sending cards at appropriate times throughout the year to our families so I do the emotional labor. However, I ask DH for ideas on what his family would like. He does something else for both of us that he enjoys and will get my input on it.

      If you don’t wish to do the work, have him pick out the presents for his family and sign your name to the card. You can do the same for him. Other than being “fair” it is also so much more efficient/economical what-have-you because you’re not both wasting time picking out the present, mailing it etc. Maybe it’s just me but I like the idea of reducing the overall work on presents you have to do as a couple over the years.

    • You don’t. You guys are a package deal in facing the world together. Feel free to hash out who does what or who funds what privately, though! :)

  10. Mariage Frere tea from France

  11. Glad Kozinski is leaving, and I hope the legal community treats him as a pariah. No guest lectures. No professorships. No book. His bad behavior is directly leading to a Trump appointment and he should be shunned.

    And if you want a fun way to show your support go read Courtney Milan’s blog post on her experiences and then buy a few books.

    • Agreed, and may I recommend some Milan favorites:

      -A Kiss for Midwinter (this is about a crusading Victorian gynecologist and it’s awesome)
      -The Governess Affair (this is really difficult to describe but if you’re someone who is bothered by employer/governess tropes in romance, you will like this, which fairly directly attacks those tropes)
      -Trade Me (new adult, non-historical, and an awesome romance that, again, takes a run at billionaire romance and dismantles it)

      • Thanks! Looking forward to reading these!

      • Perfect, I was just about to ask for recs for vacay books. I enjoyed the Heiress Effect (which I think you had recommended a while ago) and am super happy to give her some more book-business!

      • Thanks! I see my library has a lot of her books available as e-books right now. This may interfere with my cookie-baking this week.

      • I love Courtney Milan! The one where the hero is a virgin ( can’t remember the title right now) is fantastic.

    • He’s always seemed like a misogynistic creep to me. A (misogynistic) classmate in law school thought he was just wonderful- this and that and his Christmas party and blah blah blah.

    • This is HUGE. Wow. He seemed untouchable.

    • Senior Attorney :

      So glad to hear this news. I feel like the Dating Game video alone should have been disqualifying all along! Ugh!!!

    • Anonymous :

      ” His bad behavior is directly leading to a Trump appointment and he should be shunned. ”

      So if it lead to an Obama appointment you would be fine with it?

      Or do you think it’s wrong that a Reagan appointee will be replaced with Eugene Volokh?

  12. I’m going to my fiance’s family’s big Christmas gathering for the first time. Everyone gets together – about 60 of them! – and they do a super casual potluck. The main dishes are taken care of – someone’s bringing a ham and rolls, someone else is making chili, a third person is bringing chicken strips. What would you bring to something like this?

    • I’d bring a dessert, because it’s easy and small and portable and as a newbie I don’t need to lead the pack.

    • Anonanonanon :

      Dessert, Wine, or both.

    • A salad or something that doesn’t need to be heated up. Or a dessert.

      • Anonanonanon :

        ^yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Nothing is more frustrating when hosting and trying to time all of the food perfectly than a bunch of people wanting to just “heat something up real quick” in the oven and crowding you in the kitchen. The hosts will appreciate if you bring something that tastes good, looks pretty, and doesn’t have to be reheated

      • +1 both for not needing the oven, and because I always fear (and am often justified in so fearing) that potlucks will be heavy on protein and carbs and light on vegetables.

    • Cheese plate.

    • A healthy veggie side dish! There are generally never enough of these, and usually too many desserts. I’d roast some brussel sprouts, or maybe roasted winter veggies. They can generally be served room temperature.

    • Yeah bring a dessert or an appetizer (that could also be a light side dish if they don’t do appetizers), on a pretty serving dish that isn’t an heirloom or anything. Labelled (your name written on the bottom) so you can get it back eventually.

      You don’t know what people are “famous” for bringing, so you bring one of the two dishes that literally no one minds if there are extras of. It’s super safe to bring some kind of cookie bar, already cut up and arranged on a serving tray. You could also bring a “signature” appetizer or light side dish like a puff pastry something or a fancy chip/dip combo or some kind of fruit salad, but nothing that requires an oven or stovetop. Again, bring it already arranged and with all the necessary serving utensils.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Something to serve at room temperature. Have fun!! I am sure it is exciting to be included this year.

  13. I have a really big Job interview today and am so anxious I’ve gotten sick a couple of times. Any suggestions for calming down?

    • Deep breaths. Stslysrsly. I know it’s trite advice but I always forget it when I’m anxious and it really helps me.

    • A brisk walk outside prior to the interview.

      A minute of Meditation, deep breathing, using one of the Apps.

      Stand in the bathroom and do the power pose for 2 minutes just before your interview.

      Close your eyes…. breathe….

      Maybe talk to your doctor, if this level of anxiety is common before big events. Maybe having propranolol in your bag (for performance anxiety) as an option to take would help you?

      But you’ve got this! Go Jessi!!

    • Empowering music. Alicia Key’s “Girl on Fire.” Also tell yourself you are excited instead of nervous. It helps to recognize the feeling, but not feed into it. I can’t just tell myself to calm down and expect all that adrenaline or whatever to just go away, but I can refocus it into excitement.

    • Sending good vibes for a wonderful interview!

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      I don’t know if this is accurate physiologically, but my therapist told me it is impossible to be tense when you are exhaling fully. When we are tense, we tend to not fully exhale. This can lead to a slight increase in CO2 which adds to the feeling of anxiety.

      Good luck! You’ve got this!

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      Remember: YOU are interviewing THEM also. This is a two-way street and you hold just as much “power” as they do. Good luck!

  14. Last item on my gift list is a vegan cookbook for a relative that’s new to vegan cooking. Any favorites from the Hive? Only requirement is it must be Amazon Prime.

    • My favorites are “But I Could Never Go Vegan” by Kristy Turner and “Thug Kitchen”. “Thug Kitchen” is crude and funny, the recipes are interesting and not the “rabbit food” that people assume vegan food is. I gave “But I Could Never Go Vegan” to my non-vegan parents and it helped them figure out what to make for me when I come home to visit. Looks like both are available on Prime.

    • Mark Bittman has a VB12 cookbook. Or you can always go with a classic like the Moosewood Cookbook (not sure if it’s entirely vegan but I have it and really don’t remember it having too many, if any, animal products in the recipes).

    • Minnie Beebe :

      Not vegan, but there are many vegan options (and explanations for how to make vegan versions of many recipes),: Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” It’s a great all-purpose cookbook!

    • Long time vegetable eater here. Minimalist Baker’s cookbook is….bad. Don’t get it. I like her blog but the book is so uninspired and there is nothing original or interesting in it. I really like all of Miyoko Schinner’s books but I think the home made vegan pantry is the best. Thug kitchen is funny and there are a few good recipes but the books are “Meh” to me. Vegan stoner is funny and has a few good ideas too. I’d recommend pre-ordering Lauren Toyota’s Hot For Food Vegan Comfort Classics, it comes out in Feb and looks phenomenal.

    • I love, love, love everything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz but the Veganomicon in particular.

    • Hands down this one:

      https://www.amazon.com/Veganomicon-Ultimate-Isa-Chandra-Moskowitz/dp/156924264X

    • Thanks for all the suggestions! I will take a look and pick out a few to send.

    • Seconding Thug Kitchen and Veganomicon. Know your audience with TK (tag includes f&$k), but the food is good!

    • I like vegan under pressure if they have the instant pot.

    • Not vegan (only meatless), but I cannot recommend books by Heidi Swanson enough. All her recipies are amazing – I have to wait for a “not great” yet. She also has a blog with recipies (101cookbooks), so you can check her out.
      I also like Isa Chandra and Golubka. But my all time favourite is Heidi – I have 3 books and read her recipies online as well.

  15. Cuyana - which bag :

    I’d like to get a weekender style bag for the many car trips we take – it seems useful and like it would be filling a hole in my life… does anyone have experience with the Cuyana Overnight bag or the Le Sud Weekender? I can’t tell why one would choose one over the other? And do you like the bag you have? I like the regular weekender too, but the color I like is sold out… help!

    Other similar weekender bag recommendations also welcome!

    • BabyAssociate :

      I have the Le Sud Overnight. It’s a great size and a good looking bag. I will note that the zipper split on the first one I had, but they replaced it no questions asked. I’ve had issues with the second one splitting too, but I’ve always been able to fix it.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      I’ve had good luck with Vera Bradley for car trips specifically (though I realize not everyone likes the aesthetic). Good quality for the price and can handle being thrown around in the trunk, plenty of pockets, etc. They have several in an appropriate size. I like the Miller.

    • TorontoNewbie :

      http://www.roots.com/ca/en/small-banff-bag-tribe-18040220.html?cgid=LeatherWeekenderBags&start=4&selectedColor=022

  16. For reference, here are the ones I was thinking about!

    https://www.cuyana.com/le-sud-overnight.html#soft-grey-natural

    https://www.cuyana.com/le-sud-weekender.html#navy-black

    https://www.cuyana.com/weekender-bag.html#charcoal

  17. Has anyone had luck getting the PMI waived on a mortgage due to excellent credit (800+) or any other factors?

    • Making a bigger downpayment?

    • Don’t they waive PMI if you put down over 20% of the down payment?

    • I had it removed when my equity hit 20% of the purchase price. I just sent a letter requesting it and they took it off.

      • ^ you are lucky. When we got to 20% equity, I requested the bank take our PMI off, and they had us pay $200 to an appraiser who came by and took some photos and told us the value of the house had gone down (which was complete garbage) and they refused to take the PMI off. Then when we got to 5 years (at which point we’d paid off about 35% and they had said the PMI would be dropped automatically) we had to re-request another appraisal because of the results of the first appraisal and pay another $200, and this time the appraiser said the house had gone way up in value and they removed the PMI. Huge hassle.

        • Anonymous :

          note that 20% of equity is different than 20% of purchase price. calculating equity does require a current appraisal to determine the current fair market value.

      • side-question:

        How did you know when your equity hit 20% of the purchase price?

        I’d like to help my parent remove their PMI – do I look at the appraisal report to see what 20% of that number is?

        • I knew it hit 20% cause I looked at the statements and did the math. I also hit 20% within 18 months of purchasing the house, so there had not been very much time for value to change very much. If it had been longer maybe they would have wanted an appraisal done. For helping your parents, if the appraisal is recent, it might be good evidence for getting it removed for their loan. You’d have to talk to their lender though.

        • I recently received a letter from my servicer telling me that I could have it removed if I paid the $150 for the appraiser to come out, assuming my house had not gone down in value. On my refi loan I had to hit 80 percent equity on the appraisal for the refi loan, not the original sale price. Or so says the letter!

    • No – it’s not about credit – it’s about the ratio of debt to equity in the home. Also, (unless they’ve changed things) the PMI rules are set by regulators and your mortgage broker cannot deviate from them.

    • As far as I know getting PMI waived based on credit scores isn’t possible. PMI in a purchase is tied to how much you put down and thus the loan to value ratio on the home. Most loan programs are based off of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines.

      Very often you have to put 20% down to avoid PMI. Sometimes lenders will offer to pay the MI. That often just means they bake in the MI at a higher rate for the life of the loan.

    • As far as I know getting PMI waived based on credit scores isn’t possible. PMI in a purchase is tied to how much you put down and thus the loan to value ratio on the home. Most loan programs are based off of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac guidelines.

      Very often you have to put 20% down to avoid PMI. Sometimes lenders will offer to pay the MI. That often just means they bake in the MI at a higher rate for the life of the loan (where regular MI can be waived as your property appreciates in value).

    • JuniorMinion :

      No my impression like Anon above is that PMI is always charged anytime you put less than 20% down irrespective of credit. Once you are above whatever a given bank’s credit cutoff (usually the highest tier is 700 or so), loan to value and debt coverage from an income perspective become the important metrics. The prior (hence the downpayment threshold) is what determines whether you pay PMI

      • anon for this :

        Yeah, I think that’s right. My husband and I both had credit scores above 820 and no debt. We were originally planning to put 900k mortgage that we just waited until we had 20% to put down. SoFi offers mortgages with less than 20% down without having to pay PMI, but they just make it a higher interest rate so I didn’t care for that either. I didn’t like the idea of (1) trying to get PMI removed or (2) hoping we could refinance the SoFi mortgage later.

    • If you have excellent credit you should get a 80-10-10 loan. (1st loan in 80%, second loan is 10% and you put down 10%) It will be cheaper than paying PMI. Just make sure you can pay off the 10% loan in the time allotted. A few years ago we did this to buy our house and the rate on the 80% was 3.75, the rate on the 10% was 5.25 for 7 years, then it floated. So we knew we needed to pay it off in 7 years; we ran the numbers and were confident we could do it in 3 years so we felt safe doing it.

    • How big of a purchase price for the house? We got a conforming loan at the max limit (which was around $417k) and a HELOC for the balance instead of getting a jumbo loan. Our downpayment exceeded the 20% requirement for the first loan so we avoided PMI. I don’t know if this still works if the purchase price is under the conforming loan limit, but ask your lender.

    • We just got ours removed, but again, not due to credit rating. We were under 80% of our original house price and had 2 years of good payment history. They sent an appraiser that we paid for.

    • Cornellian. :

      I think it’s statutorily required for most mortgages. Put 20% down.

      Maybe you can get a purchase money HELOC for some percentage of the down payment?

    • I have since refinanced, but my first mortgage (3.5 years ago, DC area) had lender paid PMI.’ It supposedly meant that we paid a higher interest rate, but in exchange wouldn’t have to pay PMI. However, the rate was actually the lowest rate we were quoted (we shopped around – credit union, banks, etc, and this quote was one of a few from a mortgage broker).

    • Late to respond here, but if you are eligible for a loan through a credit union, mine does not charge PMI. My minimum down payment was 5%.

      • Anonymous :

        This is likely because the credit union holds the loan instead of selling to Fannie or Freddie, so this may be a good path to investigate. That said, despite my expectations, I ended up finding a lower rate at another institution with lender-paid mortgage insurance baked into the rate. That means the rate won’t fall at 20% unless I refinance (based on finding a lower rate in the future, which seems unlikely at this point), but it made the most sense for my situation, particularly if tax policy continues to allow me to write off mortgage interest.

  18. Long shot: any milspouses here? Totally lost trying to decipher the difference between Tricare Prime and Tricare Standard and Extra.

    Super longshot: any milspouses here have a baby in the DC-area and can tell me which plan has better OB care?

    • Anonanonanon :

      I didn’t have my baby in the DC area but I live there now, and my child is on Tricare still. I had Tricare Standard when I gave birth and I loved how much more flexible it was than Prime (aka I could choose my own provider). Yes there’s some copays but I think my entire hospital stay for birth was around $300? I also prefer it now that I have a child, it’s easier to pick a pediatrician whose location/hours are convenient for me and my family than to have to go through the military provider network.

      • Anonanonanon :

        The difference is Prime is a lot more like a HMO, you don’t have copays but you don’t have as much flexibility to choose your doctors/practices, it’s A LOT harder to see a specialist if needed, you may have to drive to a base for care (which in the DC area… you know how the traffic is.) etc. With standard there are copays but they aren’t outrageous and you can go to basically any doctors you want just like any other insurance plan.

      • Yeah I think in DC standard is the way to go. It’s going to be called Tricare Select starting January 1. Many bases in the area have impossibly long waits for appointments. If you have standard you can just select a doctor with convenient hours and availability.

    • Thank you! So helpful.

  19. The sheet mask in your own stocking inspired me. I’ve never done one – recommendations?! Santa tells me he wants to bring me sheet masks too!

    • SK-II are the best, but are $$$. Benton snail bee masks are more affordable and still nice.

    • I hate sheet masks! They’re so wasteful. I’d rather pay more for a whole tub of a mask that I can get a lot of use out of.

      • Depends what kind of treatment you’re doing–sheet masks are marvelous for those of us with dry skin; it’s hard to get that super hydration in any other kind of mask.

      • Cornellian. :

        You can get reusable masks that you put serum/whatever on.

    • Anonattorney :

      I think they’re fun and splurgy. Maybe they’re a waste, but if they’re a gift, what does it matter! I like the sephora brand ones just fine. I also did one of the peel-off charcoal masks that was kind of fun. I have a kid, so I rarely go out on Fridays or Saturdays, but I’ve taken to doing mini facials at home by doing a purifying face mask (like charcoal) followed by a really hydrating sheet mask, maybe once a month.

    • I get 2 packs of 10 from Nature Republic for $20 total. The rose ones are my favorite. They’re of course not as good as the super fancy ones, but I notice the biggest difference when I use them once a week or so, so it makes sense to get the affordable ones I can use regularly.

      • +1 I adore the Nature Republic ones! A friend who was working in Korea sent me one as a gift and now I’m obsessed. Fortunately they’re not expensive at all.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      A friend highly recommended the Tony Moly sheet masks. They are fairly inexpensive (Ulta and Forever 21 carry them), but they work wonders on my dry, sensitive skin.

    • I like the LEaders Mediterranean sheet mask (at Ulta) and the Egg Cream mask (Amazon and Sephora). I do not like the gel masks, which feel too slimy to me – cotton for the win.

  20. FAMILY HISTORY :

    Christmas with my side of the family this weekend – I gave my Dad a gift that I thought he would absolutely love. Dad’s family tree fades off in 1867 with an illegitimate grandfather. The ridiculous family story is that he’s the son of Robert E. Lee (oh, please) because he was named Robert E FAMILY NAME (like thousands of other southern boys).

    I got online and dug in census records to find him, and I found the family he was living with at age 12 and age 1. I researched all the people and stumbled on to Ancestry and found a cousin who’s researched and traced the family history back to Scotland. I contacted her and she gave great leads on who Robert’s parents probably were, and encouraged me to get Dad to take a DNA test. We can use that to match everything up.

    I complied everything (including an Ancestry DNA kit) and gave it to him. He was…not happy. He looked miffed. He read through the paperwork and was arguing that I had the wrong Robert (umm…no??) and tossed the kit on the table in a bit of a huff. I’m 99% sure he’s not going to touch it and he has zero interest in solving the mystery.

    On the way home I told my husband I was really surprised Dad reacted that way, and disappointed. Does he really want to hang on to that stupid family myth rather than find out the truth? That’s…just ridiculous. I didn’t believe that crap at age 10. Take the [email protected] DNA test and find your REAL roots.

    My perfect Christmas gift was a huge bomb. BRING ON 2018!!! I’m so done with this year.

    • Anonanonanon :

      That’s a huge bummer, it sounds like you put a lot of thought and effort into what you thought would be a great gift. I understand not everyone wants to know the truth about their background, but it’s a shame he couldn’t look past that to see how much work and thought you put into this, and at least be grateful for that aspect of it. I’m sorry :( :(

    • Uhhhh this is a lot? You rewrote who he is on his behalf. You contacted distant relatives. You pressured him to take a DNA test. This is a very intrusive gift. Maybe think a bit more about what you really “gave” because to me it sounds like you gave the gift of “ha ha I proved you wrong” and sorry, no one likes that.

      • +1

        He didn’t want to know. Let it be.

      • There is an interesting article on this – a woman’s grandfather was switched at birth in a turn-of-the-century hospital. It caused a lot of upheaval for the family.
        https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/lifestyle/she-thought-she-was-irish-until-a-dna-test-opened-a-100-year-old-mystery/?utm_term=.163f9ed1ca9e

      • I have to agree with this. It stinks that you put a lot of work into a gift, but I would NEVER want someone doing this for me. I don’t know who my father is, and I have no interest in knowing. If someone gave me a gift where they did a ton of research, contacted a distant relative, and wanted me to take a DNA test, I would not be happy. I have a certain conception of myself and my family based on who my ancestors are. A lot of people are like that. And, it really doesn’t matter if he hangs on to a “stupid family myth” about who his ancestors are. Unless he’s expressed interest in learning about that part of the family tree, it seems like more of a gift to yourself than to him.

      • Yeah, the last paragraph here really makes it seem like that was OP’s motivation, not just giving a fun gift.

    • Ouch! I hear you. My Dad is exactly like your Dad. So much so that I wondered if he was ?hiding something.

      BUT…..

      Give it time. I bet he will pick up the kit again, and will reconsider. Give it time.

      And of course people like to hang onto myths. Isn’t that obvious? I worry that your reaction to his dismissiveness was a little inappropriate and judgmental. Your language here indicates that it may have been.

      And if he throws the test to the side, ask him in a month if you can have it back and take it yourself. Problem solved. As you must realize by now that the gift to your father was actually what YOU wanted, and not what he wanted, right? We do this all the time with gift giving, so you are not alone. I do this all the time, and am trying to be better about it…

      • Yeah, sometimes people don’t want to look too hard at their ancestry for whatever reason. You have to allow them that choice. My husband is adopted and knows nothing about his bio parents. We’ve had a couple of conversations over the years about whether he wants to find out more about his birth parents, genetic history, ancestors, etc. Each time the answer has been no. And even though I have what I think are good reasons for my own curiosity, like genetic history for our child, it’s still his decision and I have to respect that.
        Hopefully, you and your dad will move past this.

      • FAMILY HISTORY :

        It all happened in a few minutes, during the chaos of everyone opening presents. I explained a bit of the background on it from across the room, while helping my own kids open their presents. I saw his face from over their heads, and let it go.

        Later in the kitchen, he mentioned that his estranged sister took a 23 and Me test and sent him the results, and another sister is also digging around online. His tone and attitude was dismissive, and I just mentioned that since he’s retired I thought he’d enjoy getting into it, then had to deal with a kid and left the room again.

        I had no idea his sisters were pressuring him as well. As we were leaving, he thanked me for the gift and jammed a wad of $20’s in my hand as I left, because that’s who he is, and he will always treat me like I’m a 20 year old college kid with no money. :)

        He’s a guy who isn’t afraid of the truth, and loves to debate and argue. So this “no thanks” attitude really threw me.

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I’m not surprised. People put a lot of stock in what they were told growing up and can get really emotional about it. My mom still believes the tests are wrong and we are really Native American because her grandfather was in a tribe and she saw the pictures and blah blah blah.

      • This is the joke Henry Louis Gates, Jr. throws out on episodes of Finding Your Roots. “Everyone has a Native American Princess somewhere in the family, and then the DNA test comes back…”

      • I actually am partly native american – 12.5% technically, since my grandmother grew up on a reservation and was registered on the Indian Census as 1/2 blood.

        My ancestry test came out 4% native american, specific to her tribe.

        I was surprised at this but 1) there is a pretty wide +/- range of accuracy, which they disclose, and 2) reading more about it, it becomes clear that there was a lot of mixing in the general area of Indian reservations for generations and generations, so many of the populations near reservations have a little indian blood, and are labeled caucasian. So that somehow interferes with the percentages ancestry gives.

        On my father’s side, though, there was family lore that his grandmother was “full blood cherokee” because she was quiet and had brown eyes so dark they looked black, and absolutely nothing of this showed up on anyone’s DNA test, so yeah, I call BS on that one.

      • The tests are not consistent–google the female triplet dna test and you’ll see what I mean. Also, just because someone’s dna doesn’t present as a certain likely hood of ethnic origin, that’s what the tests do, being adopted and raised in a group makes that culture your culture, worldview, histories and so forth.

    • It could be worse :

      I imagine that it could have been a lot worse — I got some “proximity” hits on 23 and me who are people who are like only 1% genetically connected to me (but b/c they are from the same hamlet, have to be some sort of cousins). Imagine if your parents or spouse had a secret (perhaps even unknown to them) child/ren and this is how you all find out?

      Maybe I’ve watched too many episodes of Springer, but I am guessing that there are circles of hell for DNA tests going sideways.

      [For me, I was even whiter than I thought — lots of Scandinavian DNA even though I’m 100% southern on both sides (so it’s not like I’m from Minnesota). Vikings maybe???]

      • OMG — Mick Jagger doing this

      • I was contacted on ancestry by a person who is supposedly my cousin according to DNA but isn’t on any family trees. Meaning, he was born out of wedlock, I guess. I wrote back to him but he dropped it.

        Had I given a DNA kit as a gift to someone of my parents’ generation, having this happen would feel like less that a gift.

        Our parents’ generation is more private about stuff like this. You and I may look at it as wanting to know more about ourselves, but our parents may look at it as an invasion of their privacy. I don’t think either view is incorrect.

        • Also, while it’s currently considered cool to be partly Native American, only two generations ago it was a shameful secret in Caucasian society, something to be hidden. My grandmother never talked about being Indian.

        • +1 to this. I was very tempted to buy the kits on Black Friday, thinking i’d give one to each member of my family. I texted my mom all excited “do you think dad will just love this????” and she responded with, “no – that sounds weird – why would you get that?”

          • FAMILY HISTORY :

            Hahaha. I told my Mom about this and she was like, “YES! Your Dad will love that!”

            Apparently, not so much.

        • Senior Attorney :

          Yeah, I’m probably of your parents’ generation and I do. not. get. it. at. all.

          Nopeity nope nope.

        • Anonymous :

          I’m in my 20s and think any DNA test (that’s not purely for medical reasons) is a huge invasion of privacy and would not do it. To be honest, I have concerns even about medical DNA tests and how the results might affect my ability to obtain my insurance, but at least there I can see the benefits. Curiosity about my ancestors is not nearly enough benefit for me to give someone my DNA. I would not enjoy this gift at all.

      • everyone of english/irish decent is also scandinavian

        • this is true, particularly the irish. I know people who think they are 100% Irish who showed a significant % scandinavian. Ah, Vikings.

    • It sounds like you have a lot of disdain for your family’s version of its history. I wonder if this is the first time this has come up? Is this the first time you’ve had a discussion/argument with your dad about whether or not it’s ridiculous to believe that you’re related to Robert E. Lee?

    • So…my mom and my uncle have been doing some geneology and recently discovered that the man their grandmother (my g-grandma) said was her father was not actually her father, but my g-g-grandma’s second husband. We all have a completely different genetic lineage than we thought, and we know next to nothing about this person who is our ancestor. It has caused a HUGE brouhaha in the family, and some people aren’t speaking to each other at the moment (Merry Christmas!). Some folks apparently feel that my mom and uncle should have let sleeping dogs lie, and not done this investigation. But what’s done is done and people are having trouble assimilating this info. I’m sure over time, people will get over it and I’m sure your dad will get over your discovery too. Sometimes knowing isn’t as exciting as contemplating the possibilities, you know?

      • Imagine that you’re dead and the information that people are able to access (open-access, not burned in a fire, someone saved…so many reasons) isn’t really reflective of what or who was significant in your life or if there are bits you’d rather not remember, or that people tell stories that are a totally different pov, maybe one that’s malicious. History can be written in so many ways.

        • Imagine someone’s heritage is the way it is because their mother was raped. Imagine uncovering that secret gleefully recounting it to all. Try to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and in the thinking of earlier generations and think how you’d feel.

          • Sorry Anon, but I don’t believe in the idea that you can “invade the privacy” of people who are long dead, especially when the long-dead person is your family member. My g-grandma and g-g-grandma are dead. They don’t care what we find out now, because either their consciousness evaporated at the moment of their death, or they’ve moved on to another lifetime. Who knows what the circumstances were in my family’s case – your posit of rape isn’t any more or less far-fetched or overdramatic than any other theory we’ve thrown around, but there’s no evidence of that.

      • family secrets :

        Not as earthshattering, but my mother – who grew up in England – was in her 40s when she found out from a stranger – in Texas – that her father had a previous marriage she knew nothing about. Seems like my grandmother and the rest of the family knew but kept it from the children. You never know when a secret will come out, and it’s usually unwelcome, to tell the truth.

    • Yes, he would rather believe the myth. He doesn’t want the “real” story, he wants the story that he’s always told because that’s what he’s identified with.

      And ultimately, what do those roots really matter? That’s what I don’t get about all this hub-bub around DNA tests. They don’t really say anything about who you are – that’s determined by how you are raised. And if you aren’t raised with the cultural traditions of a place, why take them on as an adult? What does it matter if your ancestors came from Scotland or Germany?

      • +100

      • So, you’ve met my uncle, I see? Thanks to one of these DNA tests, he’s completely latched on to ONE part of his heritage, to the exclusion of all others. And then he’s ticked that the rest of us just don’t feel that strongly about that part of our heritage (or identify with it at all)? We’re a mix of Northern European everything. I cannot figure out why he’s so taken with this one aspect of our heritage that we’ve never really celebrated at all. My mom has refused to take the DNA test; she thinks he’s just trying to stir up trouble. Given his personality, I tend to agree.

    • Yikes. It kind of sounds like you put a lot of work into proving your dads family was either lying and/or dumb and tried to make it look like a present. These family history things can be very sensitive. Chalk it up to a misguided present – it’s not the end of the world and not every year can be a hit

    • I can’t believe that anyone thinks a DNA test kit is an acceptable gift. By giving such a gift, you are pressuring the recipient to take a test that many people consider incredibly personal and invasive, and to share the results with you. It is rude, thoughtless, and just plain tacky.

      • Anonymous :

        Three people in my family asked for them for Christmas!! Haha, but I agree that unless someone specifically asks, probably not a good idea.

        I don’t get the hype and it is no interest to me, so . . .

    • Not to jack your thread – but I wonder how the various ancestry-related societies are dealing with this? Like if I thought I had a revolutionary ancestor but I find out through my DNA that we’re not actually related, will I get kicked out of the DAR?

      • Cornellian. :

        I don’t think any of those organizations require you to give them your DNA results. I also imagine that adopted children are permitted to join, but maybe I’m wrong.

      • Anonymous :

        Threadjack, but what is the value of those orgs? Only a certain type of person had records of their family tree going back that far, so why take pride in tracing your lineage back to slaveholders?

        • Anonymous :

          Maybe we ought to be reminded that we are where we are because of centuries of privilege, not because we’re more deserving or hardworking or plain ol’ better than anyone else. Learning about my history has been an intensely humbling experience.

        • I am eligible for a lot of those societies, and have never joined them, in part because I find pride in ancestry to be odd. We don’t get to pick our ancestors – they’re given to us. That said, I can trace my ancestry back over five centuries, and it’s something I find interesting because of the personal window it gives me into history – both good and bad. For example, because of that research, I’ve been able to meet people who are my relatives – because they are descendants of slaves that my family owned. To the point above, I know that means that their relationship to me is the product of rape. Which is an incredibly important truth about my personal history and our country’s history (and one that has affected some of my dreams for what I’d like to do in the future).

        • wildkitten :

          I joined because I loved the idea of throwing parties at naturalization ceremonies, which is one of the major activities, but never had time to actually do it at like 10 am on a Tuesday.

        • I agree. My husband’s mother and sister are in DAR, and I just never got it. My mother has been researching her family lineage, and she discovered that we’d technically qualify–it still has no appeal to me. That said, I think the family histories are cool. My mom has researched part of her/our family tree back to Quakers in Virginia in the 1700s. My mother-in-law’s family has a whole book that some cousin made about the family’s history (we have a copy, but I haven’t read it). And my father-in-law’s family in Lebanon has a giant scroll with a beautiful family tree on it, which they add to each generation.

    • Anonymous :

      Aw, I think it was a nice gift. My mom is reallllly into that stuff and made me go to one of the Ancestry conferences with her – lots of people are super into it, especially as they age! We found out that her great grandfather abandoned his family to run away with the circus and had a second secret family. Sometimes it’s fun learning the juicy details – we were all highly amused.

  21. My keurig finally died and I’m looking for a unicorn coffee machine to replace it. Does this exist?

    Something that makes hot and iced coffee, drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, and shots of espresso. Ideally something that is easily cleaned (using milk for lattes has always sorta freaked me out because I feel like you’d really have to clean it out) and easy to set up since I make my coffee running out the door for a commute. I liked the the keurig was so simple to use. I don’t want a ton of separate parts, like a stand alone milk frother.

    DH is now working remotely and spending like $15/day on drinks at our local coffee place. He likes the fancier coffee drinks like cappuccinos and has said if he could easily make them at home he’d be happy working in our home office. So I’m willing to spend $$ up front on the right machine to avoid spending so much outside!

    Thank you!

    • Jura machines that include a grinder. Expensive upfront but can do everything you want plus you just have to load beans every so often.

    • Anonanonanon :

      Ninja Coffee Bar is my life, especially for fancy iced coffees

    • I love my nespresso. Works like a Keurig but the coffee is wonderful. My model has a milk frother/steamer for lattes. The only catch is you need to order the pods online and they’re pricey but I love this thing. My parents have a super rich espresso maker but my nespresso takes up half the room and can be operated in my pre-coffee haze.

      • Which model do you have? Does it do iced too? I found the Nespresso website so hard to sort through!

        • Not sure if it’s a machine, but they sell iced coffee pods with the following instructions: https://www.nespresso.com/us/en/limited-edition-iced-coffee-capsules

          I agree that Nespresso is a much better version of a Keurig (taste wise). Ours also has a milk frother and it’s beyond easy to rinse out. I like really strong coffee and I find that a “real” espresso is better for that, but this is as good as anything you will get in push one-button form. You can also send in your used pods for free recycling.

        • Sorry I don’t think they sell my exact model anymore but yes as AIMS says they do used coffee capsules. My husband uses them in the summer but I’m a hot coffee kid all summer long.

    • Nespresso with a separate milk frothing jug. No decent machine makes iced coffee too.

      • Anonymous :

        Nespresso with separate milk frothing jug DOES make decent iced coffee. My frother has an option to froth and heat milk for latte OR just froth for iced latte. I brew a regular pod over ice then add the cold frothed milk. It’s soo good!

        Nespresso tastes so much better than K cup :)

        I got the base level machine (around $100 at BBB with 20% coupon) but I covet the $400 machine because the milk container just snaps on to make the drink, then snaps off to go back in the fridge – soooo simple but I can’t justify cost.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Doesn’t do iced drinks but I love my DeLonghi Magnifica with a milk frother. And I love that it just uses plain old coffee beans (which it grinds in the moment) so no plastic waste from cartridges or whatever.

      • biglawanon :

        Also have the DeLonghi Magnifica! OP-As for the iced coffee, when it is hot I make iced Americanos, which while different than iced coffee may be similar enough.

      • +1 I’ve had mine for over ten years and it’s still going strong. It’s an investment up front but I can use whatever beans I’d like.

    • biglawanon :

      Why not an automatic espresso machine? Way better than pods anyways.

    • I have a cuisinart pressure espresso maker (home) and a nespresso virtuoline (at work, in my office). I like the cuisinart one better because (i) it was much cheaper (under 200), (ii) makes better espresso/cappuccino, (iii) no capsules/cartridges although you could buy pressed pods (Illy makes then) and (iv) after 6 years, the steamer pipe broke, but the coffee maker part is still going strong. With the cuisinart one, you have to buy a coffee grinder. I have a capresso coffee grinder which does its job very well.

    • Anonymous :

      If you want iced coffee, get a Primula cold brew maker and just brew it up in advance. It’s stupidly easy and makes outstanding iced coffee.

      Second Nespresso for a Keurig replacement.

  22. I have a good friend that lives in a different city, normally we have visits about once per year. A few months ago I moved to her city, where I have relatives and friends, so we’ve been seeing more of each other. Sometimes too much. I realize she has a lot of problems in her life, that’s okay we all do, but she talks about them a LOT. About a month ago I emailed her, as part of our semi-regular communication, she should see a mental health specialist, gently. She told me she had, she’s fine, and that Jesus has the answers for her. I said she should still see someone, she wrote something ‘nice’ but I could tell she was angry, and hasn’t messaged me since. This was before I saw Senior Attorney’s son’s advice to not problem solve. I haven’t reached out because I figure when she’s ready she will and also I don’t know what to say, “are you still mad” or anything of that ilk I think is the equivalent of “calm down.”

    Any suggestions here? She’s a great person, but it’s all a bit much for me. Maybe I’m just a shitty friend because I don’t like to hear constant venting–If I have a problem and I talk about I’m looking for advice so I find this kind of chatter exhausting when it’s constant.

    • Maybe accept this as the natural break that’s presented itself to you. I had a friend like this (couldn’t get over a bad ex-boyfriend…after 3 years!) and I felt bad at first, but honestly, I don’t miss her, and I’ve filled my life with activities that interest me and people who are in a better place.

    • “How are your holiday preparations coming? I’d love to get together sometime soon. How about lunch on [date]?”

      Normally I’m not a big fan of acting like nothing happened, but here, it’s been a month. If it comes up then apologize for being out of line. But at this point I’d focus on getting the friendship back on track.

    • I would just start up the texting again, wish her a merry christmas and say something about jesus if you’re comfortable with that.

      Do you want to get together with her again? It sounds like you’re on the fence.

    • Message her and invite her to an activity that would involve relatively little chatting so there’s a way to reestablish the friendship without as much venting. (Film festival? Learn to quilt class? Whatever.) Don’t reference your email exchange. Let sleeping dogs lie.

      • Anonymous :

        Thank you, wise women!
        I fee ready to approach this.

        • Anonymous :

          PS This does seem to come up from time to time with my friendships with women and I wonder am I a shitty person/friend because I can’t be an earfor extended dramatics? In truth, as long as I can remember, people come to me comfortable to lay out their problems, strangers, acquaintances… so when I was younger I generally hung out with men because they tend to not talk about problems or feelings, or if they did, it was in that way that I do–briefly or looking for solutions and not all the constant details.

          I also really have a hard time with this, if they can’t be there for you the friendship isn’t real talk. For someone like me, I can be there but when the problems are high level and ongoing for years, or months at a time, it’s just too much.

  23. Where is the best place to print photos these days, C0stco? Walgr3ens? A local photo center (if they are around still)? Looking to print some wedding photos in frames we already own, so NOT creating any books or albums or having it arrive framed. I want a photo in my hand to put in a fancy bl00mingdales frame.

    • I love Mpix.

    • I have printed a bunch of photos at both Walgreens and Shutterfly (can’t speak to costco) and I find the quality from Shutterfly to be a notch above Walgreens.

    • I have been pretty happy with the prints I’ve gotten from Costco. You can upload and order ahead of time and just go pick them up along with your groceries. They seem to look better to me than drug store prints.

    • Check out ProDPI, they print photos primarily for professionals. Their registration page will imply that you must be a professional to order but just register as yourself and it will be fine. I have been stunned by the quality of their prints – super high quality at an extremely reasonable price. I now only order from them. The online order system is a bit strange but I promise it’s worth it.

      • Anonymous :

        I’ve ordered through Shutterfly and had them printed at CVS with horrible results on two different occasions. Now I just order from Shutterfly and have them mailed.

    • Anonymous :

      I like Adorama.

  24. Tips on how to speak slower and more deliberately? I received feedback at work that I speak really fast and it makes it seem like I’m nervous (which I probably am) and I need to slow down in order to put clients at ease. The problem is that I don’t hear myself doing this at all. I received this feedback before and I thought I had been better about it lately, but apparently I haven’t. Suggestions?

    • No real advice but hoping others have some good tips! I get this feedback too.

    • Tap your finger against your palm slowly to create an internal metronome to slow down your pace. Also, try videorecording yourself on your phone giving a speech – this will help you to visualize what others see so that you can change aspects of your speech.

      • Elegant Giraffe :

        Yes, video yourself and watch it. (Or could you get away with an audio recording of a client meeting?) Part of my job is giving people feedback on professional presentations. Often times, people just don’t have an accurate gauge on themselves. Force yourself to watch the video more than once. The first time you watch, you’ll only notice all the awkward stuff…the second time you watch, you’ll actually be able to give yourself useful feedback and note where you can make changes. Also, take a breath before launching into a new topic – don’t rush and spew out filler stuff.

    • Maybe do a run through, out loud before hand with a metronome to keep your pace?
      At home get yourself anxious/nervous and then film yourself explaining something, so you can see how you present and what you’d like to alter? Then practice doing it differently, still recording yourself

    • Couple of recommendations:

      1. Read: Stand like Lincoln, Speak Like Churchill. Very accessible, quick read on public speaking.
      2. Understand that people think you are trying to slip something by them when you talk fast–by talking fast you are making it more difficult for them to process your information and therefore more difficult to challenge/ question it. (Think “fast-talking” salesman type) Vary your speech speed. Slow down (and sometimes repeat) important points for example.
      3. Use your iphone/ galaxy etc… to video record yourself giving a 5 minute speech and then critique yourself. It will be a lot harder to watch than you think…i have deleted a lot of cringe worthy self identified bad habits. Identify where you are too fast/ too slow/ just right and then adjust and re-record.
      4. It’s a process–your style will evolve over time and you will be in situations that are more and less comfortable. The less comfortable you are, the more likely you will revert to bad habits–these are times for added focus/ concentration on style.
      5. You can do this.

      • +1 Recording yourself. I had a job in college that required public speaking and my boss had me rehearse a speech and record it. Watching it back was painful but necessary to see the bad habits I had picked up (talking too fast, fidgeting, crossing my arms, etc). It really helps to see the habits for yourself rather than rely on what people are telling you.

    • This is advice is context dependent and might not be helpful in your situation, but I find that I talk faster and faster the longer that I’m talking. If I break up my speech with questions for my audience or to see if they have questions, it helps a lot. I’m a professor, so this works well when teaching. It could be weird with clients, but it would address point 2 from the commenter above- it looks like you’re trying to put one over them when you talk fast, whereas pausing for questions/feedback makes it clear that you care that you understand each other.

    • This sounds weird, but I happened to have watched The King’s Speech (movie with Colin Firth) shortly before I had to give a presentation that I was very stressed about. I actually picked up some good tips from that movie – speaking slowly, not being afraid to pause.

      Plus it’s a good movie.

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      Tapping my fingers together or on my leg worked really well for me. It helped to make the change less self-conscious.

    • Anonymous :

      Speak super slow and remember that pausing is what makes you seem natural.

  25. Any good ideas for an 8th anniversary gift for DH? I try to stick with something related to the annual gifts and for the 8th it’s pottery/bronze or linens/lace.

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      What about a pottery making class?

    • Let’s brainstorm about these item by item:
      Bronze–A book about the bronze age. Bronze makes me think of the Olympics: tickets to a an olympic event (that’s a big one, I realize).

      Pottery–tickets to a museum exhibit that includes pottery. Or a special coffee mug or a beer stein or a piece of vintage/antique pottery (like a vase). Or if you are doing home renovations, it can be tiles for a bathroom/kitchen update. Also consider pottery lessons at a local arts house where he can make his own creations.

      Linens–can be reinterpreted as towels, a tent, a sleeping bag, depending on your interests/needs. A linen shirt.

      Lace–this is the hardest to make husband-friendly. I’m coming up empty here except that there is an awesome artist name Anila Quayyum Agha who has really cool work including some made of lace. You could buy a book her her artwork or get tickets to an exhibit of her work somewhere.

      Seems like you can interpret pretty widely, but it really depends on what he would like/use.

      • lace – buy yourself something tiny and lacy… and wear it. :) (only a partial gift)

        • That is an idea my husband would approve!

        • Never too many shoes... :

          Totally. I saw the comment that lace is the hardest to make husband-friendly and was so confused… How about a bowl filled with lacey underthings?

          • Anonymous :

            Yeah, I was confused too. That one seems the most obvious to me. Like…linen, ok that’s a hard thing to give to a dude. But lace!?!

  26. Linda from HR :

    I posted last week about kind of dreading being around fat-shaming/food-shaming/body-snarking/diet-talking family members last week, and I sort of have an update. I hope that’s okay.

    Talked to my family about this, realized I’m mostly dreading one person in particular, and we’ve all kind of agreed she’s generally just unpleasant to be around. Diet/weight/food talk aside, she tends to be a snarky sourpuss and always has something mean or negative to say, and when she doesn’t, she just tells excited people to calm down (jeeeez). So . . . in a way that makes me feel better (?), and now I’ll just prepare to tune out most of what she says.

    Still not looking forward to that part of being around family, but maybe it won’t wreck my holiday spirit too much after all. And next year I may be spending the holiday with my boyfriend’s family instead, could be a nice change.

    • Thanks for the update! I am glad you and your family figured out how one person was causing much of the dynamic. This realization may lead to most of you tuning her out or changing the subject, which may help a great deal.

    • lawsuited :

      I didn’t see your original post, but knowing that other people find her insufferable might make it easier to say “Janice, I’ll thank you to shut your damn mouth about my weight. You are making the holidays insufferable.” One Christmas I lost it on the family member that routinely comments on my weight and I haven’t heard a peep about it since.

      • Linda from HR :

        It’s tricky because if I make a scene, I’m the bad guy. We’re very much a “stay calm and be the bigger person” kinda family, where it’s okay to say “that was rude” but anything else, even leaving the room, could be seen as escalating which makes you the bad guy for causing drama. I’ve been talking to my mom and dad about what reactions are acceptable and what might get me “in trouble” but it’s tough to get much of an answer.

  27. Sloan Sabbith :

    This Amtrak thing is breaking my heart. It was it’s inaugural run. There were journalists on it covering this first run. I’ve rode that train before. It was rush hour on the busiest N-S route in Washington. My heart just…breaks.

  28. I need some help with a friend. We have been pretty close the last few years, until I started dating someone that she doesn’t approve of. I have told her all the reasons why this person is right for me and addressed all the made-up concerns that she has (things like, he is too old for you). After I started dating him, my friend developed a friendship with his ex-wife, who is still bitter about the marriage ending. She likes to spread rumors about him and about his daughter. Now, my friend is starting to spread the same kind of rumors, that she has clearly just gotten from the ex-wife, without thinking about whether or not its true and what kind of motive the ex-wife has is saying such things. I’ve addressed this with her before and told her I am not willing to listen to her say mean things about his daughter, who is a super sweet person. She backed off, but then at dinner this weekend she started in again. I think she was trying to say things to make me get mad at my boyfriend, but all I could think was that she is a bad person for saying those things. (Basically, she was telling me that my boyfriend was hiding from me that his daughter failed to follow through and get her massage license. Except, I know she is working on getting her hours to finish her license requirements, so the information was completely false and he isn’t hiding anything from me because there’s nothing to hide.)

    Anyway, I hate confrontation, and my instinct is to ghost her and leave it at that. But I’m trying to get better about addressing issues, and not sure what I should say.

    • wildkitten :

      Sorry but she is already not your friend. That really sucks.

    • Senior Attorney :

      Hoo boy. This person is not your friend. She knows what she is doing. If it were me, I’d just stop calling. If she called me, I’d decline and if she asked why I’d say “I feel like I’ve had to choose between you and my boyfriend and I choose him. Sorry.”

    • I don’t really get why your boyfriend’s daughter not getting her massage license makes him a terrible person….

      I suspect your friend’s feelings are less about you and your boyfriend than they are about her. Is she jealous/envious of your relationship? Whether she’s in a relationship or not, it can be envy-inducing to be around someone who is in the initial infatuation stage of a new relationship.

      Is she a friend you want to keep? Someone who has repeatedly behaved this way is not someone I’d consider a friend.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m not a big fan of ghosting, but I think it’s appropriate in this situation. She befriended his ex wife after you started dating? It’s one thing if she had her own pre-existing relationship with the ex-wife and felt upset about the situation her friend’s behalf, but befriending your new BF’s ex is just cray and I would not want to be her friend any more.

      • Rainbow Hair :

        Yeah this is some weird, soap opera type behavior. If they were friendly beforehand, then maybe it’s less shocking, but if friend didn’t know OP’s bf’s ex until OP started dating bf, and then friend decided to befriend ex…? That’s just bizarre.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      I think she stopped being your friend the minute she started becoming friends with his ex-wife after she knew you were dating him…who does that???

      • I know, it’s super weird! Thanks for the comments. In looking back on our friendship, I wonder if we have been friends only because there was no scenario for this kind of behavior to occur. I’ve been single up to this point, so if it’s an envy thing it would only come out now. I certainly don’t want to be friends with someone who acts like this!

    • She doesn’t sound like a good friend, let alone a friend. Stop contact with her.

      I would say…it also sounds like a lot of crazy. Anyone else that you can talk to in this joint group of friends to tell you if your read on this is right? Like maybe this new guy is bringing more crazy into your life than its worth? Crazy attracts crazy and all that.

    • “I have told her all the reasons why this person is right for me and addressed all the made-up concerns that she has . . . .”

      Stop “addressing [her] concerns.” Your relationship is not up for debate. She might think her behavior is OK because you’re acting like you and she are in a negotiation about whether you should be with this guy. Tell her that you hear her but you’re committed to your BF and you’re asking her to respect that. Have you actually told her that you don’t want to hear it anymore?

      Honestly I’m kind of offended on behalf of your BF that you let your friend talk about him like this without calling her out. Idk if friend is well-intentioned but misguided or if she’s actually awful – but step 1 is for you to stick up for your partner.

      • Senior Attorney :

        Yeah, I think this is a good point. Talking smack about your SO is not a recipe for happiness. And neither is feeling obligated to defend your SO when your friends are talking smack about him.

      • Oh that’s what’s even worse, I do call her out on it, and she will lay off for awhile, but then it comes up again!

    • Elegant Giraffe :

      I think there is a middle ground between ghosting and having a full-on confrontation where every single issue is addressed. I agree with the others that the friendship is already over, and it sounds like she won’t be totally shocked by this – if her own behavior hasn’t clued her in, you’ve addressed at least a few instances where she’s been…weird. If you want to address it somehow, I think you can send an email/letter/text that is brief but clearly ends things. “X, I’m grateful for the friendship we’ve shared in the past. Our relationship has run its course, and I won’t be able to spend time with you in the future. Best of luck.”

      FWIW, I sent a similar text once. I wouldn’t say it was well received, but at least I felt better about owning up to my part in ending the friendship. (And I’ve never regretted sending the text!)

    • anonymous :

      That’s a whole lot of crazy. Just don’t engage on this one. I think ghosting is appropriate, or just keeping contact minimal or limited to superficial things.

    • Also, to add to everything. How on earth did she end up as friends with the Ex-Wife? I question motive here, this seems too conveniently planned and like everyone has said, she’s not a friend at all!

      Is this “friend” is trying to sabotage your relationship with boyfriend, expect that she’s feeding the ex-wife all sorts of garbage about your personal details too. Either way, no contact seems the best way to preserve your sanity.

      • We live in a mid size town that gets even smaller because we all do the same activity. So everyone knows everyone else. But even though she knew the ex, they were never friends until after we started dating. I’ve thought the same thing too, and now I carefully monitor what I say in front of her knowing it could get funneled back to Ex. Another sign she’s not a true friend, I should be able to talk to my friend without censoring myself.

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