Splurge Monday’s Workwear Report: Printed Long Topper Button Down Jacket

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

This lovely embroidered jacket is by Stizzoli, which always makes really gorgeous plus-size things. If you wear plus sizes and their price range fits your budget, do keep them on your radar! I think you could wear this around the office or as a light jacket during your commute. I love the colors and the embroidery — it’s gorgeous. It’s $910 at Saks and comes in sizes 14W–24W, although only lucky sizes are in stock at this point. Printed Long Topper Button Down Jacket

Here are a few more affordable options in plus sizes: paisley, blue ribbon patternblack/white pattern. A few options in straight sizes are: gold floral and paisley.

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  1. Mouse intrusions :

    OMG — the mouse thing in my house. I cannot even.

    Which trades people can patch any holes in a brick foundation and put wire mesh in to screen any gaps in the wood floor where pipes / wiring come in from the basement?

    So far, it is not:
    basement / foundation repair people (who seem to be more for structural issues or catastrophic problems)
    pest removal people

    is it a masonry repair firm?

    I MISS RENTING! Or is it just time to get a cat (which I may do even though I am allergic — I’d rather take pills than have mice).

    • Anonymous :

      Those things are all very easy to diy, or you can call a handyman or try another exterminator.

    • We had an exterminator do this. Maybe call around? Ours was a green, eco type. They filled in all holes that were smaller than 3 inches. My only complaint is they filled them in with brown foam which looks beyond gross (if anyone has solutions for that, I’m all ears), but luckily it was in places that aren’t usually visible.

      • Mouse intrusions :

        Thanks — mine seem to be of the “eh, we’ll spray for roaches and put out some bait” but are not very defcon 5 with the mice. If I had a gun, I would have fired shots under my gas stove a few hours ago. I just heard the scratching and knew. Didn’t help that it took 3 tries to find a working flashlight to verify (it scurried back to the basement, but since there incontinent, I have the evidence on a swiffer duster thingie).


    • Diana Barry :

      We just got a quote from some insulation people to put spray foam insulation all around the perimeter of the house, which will get you part of the way there.

    • Try another exterminator. We had a family of mice greet us in the dishwasher of our new home (soooo gross!) and we used an exterminator to clean the dishwasher, lines, and patch the hole in the wall behind the dishwasher that the mice were getting into. He used a fine mesh. We didn’t know who to call, either. Just ask around – some exterminators seem to be the spray and leave type, others do eradication and restoration work. Good luck!

    • Mice be gone! :

      Our exterminator did this. They patched holes inside and outside the house and added metal sheeting at points around the foundation where the mice had been digging under. Maybe try another company? And good luck, having mice is the worst!

    • Anonymous :

      For sure don’t delay! We have a bit of a mouse problem in our garage in particular and just found a 3-foot long snake in there last week. Ugh.

    • This is the universe’s way of telling you to go to the pound and adopt a kitty. Preferably a street smart one.

    • Senior Attorney :

      You need to find an exterminator who specializes in rodents. There is such a thing (ask me how I know — ugh!).

      I heard a story on NPR a week or two ago about how cats are really not that good at catching rats and mice but the wreak havoc on native bird populations.

      • Mouse intrusions :

        OK — if my people continue to be just very basic, I will hunt around. I’ve found companies that deal with larger mammals (squirrels) and one that will take out a hornet’s nest, but nothing for the 2-inch house mice problem that we have (it’s somewhere b/w 10-20 this year with current pest control people not being very much help at all), mostly amazon orders and frustrated dialing around and meeting with wrong people after wrong people.

  2. HRC style :

    This looks like something that HRC would wear.

    • Anonymous :

      maybe the shape, but not the garish print. HRC was all about the solid colors.

      • KateMiddletown :

        +1. This is the worst of jackets.

        • And for $910, no less! I would NOT spend that kind of money to look frumpy, Kat! FOOEY! I usueally LOVE pricey mondays, b/c you have great stuff that costs alot, but this is something that I would wear in 30 years or so. It kind of looks like old French Draperies to me. Where is LOUIS XIV? I cannot even imagine having a man get interested in me if I wear this, even to the BAR Association! DOUBEL FOOEY!

        • +1 really do not like this jacket at all.

        • Anonymous :

          Ugh. Only a fat person would wear this.

    • Very Nina McLemore in shape (and price)!

    • I was thinking Dorothy on the Golden Girls, for a wedding type occasion.

      • With swingy long pants (or a too-long PJ like tunic?) and flat sandals, and big button earrings. Gah I love the Zbornak.

    • Legally Brunette :

      I feel like this is one of those items that would never be created for a smaller size woman. Not a fan.

      • AttiredAttorney :

        Yep. This is “plus size fashion” at its worst.

      • Didn’t even catch that this was plus-sized till I read the description. Is this model really supposed to be plus-sized??!

        • Well, that’s a good indication that it’s a flattering outfit, at least, if you couldn’t tell it was plus size.

          • Or that they are not using a plus size model. Which in no way would surprise me. And even most “plus-size” models are not actual plus-size

        • Anon prof :

          Plus-size models are often a 10 or 12, esp for expensive clothes. So annoying.

    • I think this really be on a retiree blog.

    • Sloan Sabbith :

      It’s so bad.

    • I appreciate the plus size pick! I don’t love this particular jacket but this brand is pretty nice – well made, beautiful fabrics. I have checked it out in person.

    • I don’t love this jacket, but the brand has some really great-looking dresses on super-sale right now in lucky sizes.




      • Agreed! This particular jacket is not my cup of tea, but I had never heard of this brand, so I’m glad to know about it. And it was nice to see a high-end plus-size pick on a Splurge Monday.

  3. Lovely.

    • I need to seriously question my taste, because I actually really like this!

      • No need to question your taste at all. It just differs from the people who are (rather overconfidently, in my opinion) stating their dislike for this pick. I can totally see this working.

        • There’s a pile-on thing that happens here all the time. If the first respondent says they hate it, then everyone hates it. All the time. Doesn’t mean you have bad taste. It means you have your own opinion.

          • Anonymous :

            +1 After all, you haven’t seen how all the people who are saying they hate it actually dress or what they like. There’s no reason to think they have good taste and you have bad taste. Your tastes simply differ.

      • I do too! Not plus sized, otherwise I would consider it.

        • I actually prefer the straight-size Layfayette 148 version Kat links to. TBH, may need help with my pattern/color addiction.

    • I think you could make it work. Streamline the rest of the outfit – like a black sheath dress or black top/pencil skirt – and some medium pointy heels.

  4. This looks like the product of a Project Runway episode where contestants have to remake Downton Abbey for the modern era. This is the Dowager Countess, obviously.

  5. Spice Grinder :

    Random request: any recommendations for a spice grinder? Bonus points if it’s easy-ish to clean!

  6. Anonymous :

    I’m going to Iceland this weekend, and I’ve been so swamped at work that I’ve spent zero minutes researching activities. Anyone have any thoughts on can’t-miss things to do for 72 hours in Iceland?

    • Anonymous :

      I haven’t been but I love NY Times 36 hours in — column for inspiration for quick trips – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/travel/36-hours-in-reykjavik.html?mcubz=3

    • Puddlejumper :

      The blog aspiring kennedy goes to Iceland all the time and posts about it. Check out her blog and her instagram – she was there last week so she will have some updated recommendations.

    • Anonymous :

      Blue Lagoon, the shorter Golden Circle bus tour, walking around downtown, eating the hot dogs (if you aren’t averse to lamb), trying to see the Northern Lights.

      • If you’re into the Blue Lagoon I highly recommend staying at the spa’s hotel, Silica Hotel. It has its own private, smaller version of the lagoon and includes a VIP ticket to the Blue Lagoon, which is pretty critical to avoiding hours-long lines during peak hours. Honestly though just skip the touristy and overcrowded Blue Lagoon and hang out at the hotel’s version. The hotel is pricey but worth it imo. They were working on a new hotel last time I was there, not sure if it’s open yet, but it might be worth checking out.

      • BabyAssociate :

        I’d rent a car instead of doing a bus tour. Hot dogs are a must. It’s not Northern Lights season (it won’t get dark).

        • Won’t it? I was there in March and there was still 6-7 hours of darkness.

          • Baconpancakes :

            I went at the end of last August, and it was twilight for about half the night, and truly dark about 3 hours a night.

          • BabyAssociate :

            In September I’d think Akureyri would be a better bet for the northern lights.

    • The Blue Lagoon looks amazing.

    • Are you staying in Reykjavik or are you open to staying elsewhere? This is what I’d do:

      Day 1. Arrive and explore the Reykjanes peninsula.
      – If your flight gets in super early, go to the brunch at the Vikingworld exhibit. It opens at like 6 am.
      – Reykjanesviti lighthouse, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland. Valahnukur lava field off road 425 is nearby.
      – Reykjanesfolkvangur national park. You should be able to see lots of birds and maybe puffins still at the Krýsuvíkurbjarg sea cliffs.

      Day 2. Snafellsnes Peninsula. This is about 3 hours outside of Reykjavik so it’d be best to stay overnight somewhere, maybe Borgarnes.
      – If you don’t go through the tunnel, you can check out the Fossarétt and Glymur waterfalls. The Glymur hike would take the better part of the day.
      – Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall
      – Djupalonssandur beach and lava formations

      Day 3. Golden Circle. Just google it, there’s a ton out there on this.

      • We’ve got a rental car and were planning to drive around, but we’d reserved a hotel room in Reykjavik as a home base. Worth reconsidering?

        • Depends on your interests and energy level. You COULD do Snafellsnes back to Reykjavik in a day but it’d be a long day.

    • BabyAssociate :

      If you can swing it, take your car on the ferry to the Vestmannaeyjar islands.

      Food tour with Wake Up Reykjavik: https://wakeupreykjavik.com/. Harpa is the meeting place, be sure to go in and explore first!

      The Blue Lagoon is a “must do”, but honestly, I was super underwhelmed. If you go, be sure to go first thing in the morning, before it gets too crowded. I’d also recommend this hot spring in addition to or instead of the Blue Lagoon: https://www.fontana.is/.

    • You’ll get backlash on this, but if you’re a relatively high-energy traveler here’s what I’d do. (IMO Jokulsarlon is the most epic thing we saw in Iceland after doing the whole Ring Road, and it’s worth a bit of extra driving.)

      Day 1: Land, go to the Blue Lagoon to refresh (it’s near the airport), and drive a couple hours to Vik. Stop at Skogafoss waterfalls on the way – you’ll go right by them. Have some lunch in Vik. After lunch, spend some time at Reynisfjara black sand beach. Option to do a snowmobile or glacier-walking excursion (lots of them depart from the Vik area). Spend the night somewhere further east than Vik along the Ring Road (Hof 1 Hotel is one option; Kalfafel and Kirkjubaejarklauster are other small towns that have lodging options as well). This is a long day but IMO it’s worth it.

      Day 2: Continue driving around the ring road to Jokulsarlon and do a morning zodiac boat ride (pre-book this if you can). While you’re at Jokulsarlon, you should walk over to the beach across the street from the lagoon (called Diamond Beach or Ice Beach) – you just drive back over the little bridge and park in the lot across the street from the lagoon parking. It’s a black sand beach where you can watch the small glacier fragments floating out to sea, and some of them wash up on the black sand creating some cool contrasting colors
      Hop in the car and drive back to Reykjavik for the night (stop and do anything in Vik that you missed the previous day). You should have some time this evening to poke around Reykjavik depending on how early you’ve started your day.

      Day 3: Depending on your love of cities versus nature, either spend the day exploring Reykjavik or head on the Golden Circle drive.

    • If you are planning on going to the Blue Lagoon, make a reservation online in advance. They limit the number of people that can enter by time period so that the check in does not get overwhelmed. The restaurant there is excellent. If you want to eat there, make a reservation as well.

  7. Variation on a Theme :

    I could use a pep talk. There is an opening for a promotion of sorts and it requires filling out a fairly standard application. Most of it is ethics type stuff, general background, etc. But the few questions relating to qualifications are making me feel like I shouldn’t bother b/c I’m underqualified. The funny thing is that I know I could do the job well because I have done a much more complicated version of it for years now, albeit behind the scenes. But there is no way to answer the specific questions with this information. I feel like a man wouldn’t be second guessing himself this way but yet I almost want to not even apply. I should still try, yes?

    • YES.

    • Chicaganon :

      YES. You are qualified and can do this role. If you can’t mention your behind the scenes role directly, can you articulate the skills/experience that would serve you well in the new role?

      Good luck! Good luck!

    • You have nothing to lose by applying.

      And find a way to answer the specific questions with your related, more complicated experience. If the question is, “do you have experience slaying dragons,” and you’ve been coordinating the battle plans for dragon slaying armies but not personally slaying them yourself, you can still take credit for it.

      Good luck, you can do this!

    • YES!!! I was in your shoes a few years ago and hemmed and hawed, then applied. Got the job. My boss–who was my boss before and after the promo–was like “why didn’t you just tell me you were interested?! I was happily surprised to see your application, and would have changed our recruitment strategy!” and this is NOT a person who was a supportive, mentor-y boss. From a purely business pov, she saw the value in my candidacy even if there were a few little gaps in qualification. Take the chance!

    • Tech Comm Geek :

      Do it!

    • Sloan Sabbith :

      YES. Read The Confidence Code, too. Do it. Sit at the table. You got this.

    • Just fill it in and send your passionate cover letter with it! I would much rather hire someone motivated and able than someone with the right experience!

  8. short pear seeks boyfriend jean recs :

    thoughts on the best boyfriend jean styles/brands for a pear on the shorter side? This style can go SO WRONG on pears if the fit isn’t perfect, but I’m eager to break out of my skinny jean rut.

    I’m 37, work in a trendy industry where I can wear anything to work, and would prefer to spend under $100. TIA!

    • Flats Only :

      I am short and pear shaped, and I have had great luck with the fit of Old Navy curvy jeans. They come in several “leg types”, so there might be a boyfriend version. I know they have skinny (which are slim and not skin tight like leggings) and a boot cut. They are also really cheap.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m a pear shape, and the Gap has always been my go-to. They have a “girlfriend” style that’s really great and a similar shape to the boyfriend cut, plus the traditional boyfriend jeans.

    • Anonymous :

      isn’t the whole point of bf styles is that the item is looser and more relaxed? So I’m not sure what you mean about the fit being perfect.

      And length-wise – aren’t they mostly styled with a roll/cuff? Pretty easy to adjust length that way.

      • Flats Only :

        They are more relaxed, but the waist still needs to not gap, and the rise must be correct, or they look awful.

        • Yeah, it’s a short distance from “boyfriend” to “mom.”

          • +1

            Totally agree here.

            As an extreme pear, boyfriend jeans are …. risky, especially since the rise is often a bit higher which is not always good for pears. The only time I wore them was when I had them tailored at the waist, and honestly…. they were not flattering.

            With boot cut/flares coming back… those are often the best for us.

    • I tried on a pair at American Eagle this weekend and actually loved them. I had to go two sizes down, but no gaping and still flattering on the butt. It was the “Tomgirl” style

  9. Anonymous :

    How should I let my coworkers and colleagues know about my name/email change due to divorce? My divorce was finalized last Wed. I was married 5 years until my husband cheated on me. We decided to separate and tried counseling. Then, a woman Facebook messaged me saying she was 8 months pregnant with his child. I filed for divorce a few weeks later.

    We did a joint petition, and it was as amicable as possible (no children or joint assets to divide). Only close friends and family knew. My coworkers were unaware.

    I told my boss and HR last week that I needed the day off for my divorce hearing, and I think they were surprised but respectful, not gossipy. I contacted tech support about switching my email. My name was previously hyphenated. Think Mary Smith-Jones, and I’m going back to Mary Smith.

    I’m at a loss. How do I email my coworkers? We have several law offices, and I do not know all my coworkers well. Some I only see a few times a year. Should I just say, my name has changed to Mary Smith and my email is [email protected] now? Should I say due to divorce? I imagine people can figure it out.

    • Anonymous :

      No need for an announcement – I’d just change your voicemail and email to reflect your updated name. Your tech people can point your old and new email addresses to your current account.

      • sconce shades? :

        I agree. This happens in our wider org with people changing their name due to getting married and I usually just note that they have a different sign-off and move on. Agree that you can get both emails sent to the new account.

    • Do you necessarily need to send out an announcement? I have seen a few emails from people who changed their name that just inserted a line in their signature that noted “please note that my email has changed and is now __________” with their new name in the signature block. People picked up on it quickly. I don’t think you owe anyone an explanation.

      • anon a mouse :

        A colleague did something similar – her signature block said something like Mary Smith (formerly Mary Smith-Jones) for about a month, and then she dropped the parenthetical.

      • BabyAssociate :

        +1 people in my office have done this

    • I have not gone through this before, so take it with a grain of salt, but I would make sure that my IT department had it set up so emails to the old address rolled to the new one and then would address it as the need arose (vs. a mass email). Of course, if you want to banish his name from your life, I completely understand, but would expect people to either ask or gossip (jerks). Personally, I don’t think anyone is entitled to know why.

    • Flats Only :

      Assuming your old email address will still roll over to the new one, you could also add a “PLEASE NOTE NEW EMAIL ADDRESS” to your signature for a few months.

    • First off, I’m so sorry you’re going through this and I hope something really bad happens to your ex…not nice maybe, but that’s how I feel.

      Similar to what others are saying, last year one of my employees got divorced and changed her name. She sent out a very simple email that just said “please note my email address is now marysmith at company dot com,” no additional explanation included. And none was needed. It’s no one’s business why your name is changing; all they need to know is that you have a different email address. I would keep it as simple as possible, and if you get questions, you can always just say “I recently went through a divorce.” And that’s it. Anyone who tries to get you to say more needs etiquette lessons.

      • Your sentiment is so immature. Why would you wish someone ill will? She said the divorce was amicable. Maybe she wanted the divorce. Maybe she was the one who burned him. Maybe they were both mature adults who still respect each other but realized their marriage wasn’t right?

    • I actually appreciate the email announcement and the email signature reminder. I need more than one way of getting the info. Otherwise, I remember, “Mary changed her name.” But I don’t remember which is the old name and which is the new. It takes me a while for the new name to become the normal. AND… people start referring to Mary Miller and I’m thinking, “Who is that?” and it takes me a while to remember that’s the former Mary Jones. I don’t need to know why the change is happening — I assume it’s a divorce.

    • I also got divorced after being married for 5 years and him cheating on me. We similarly had an amicable split without lawyers. I just changed my email address, had IT forward my old email address to my new one, and then I added a last line to my email responses along the lines of what someone said earlier – “Please note that my email has changed and is now __________.” I also put a parenthetical in my signature block “(formerly Mary [xyz]).”

      Just a heads-up that people who don’t know you well may congratulate you on your recent marriage. I just responded “oh, I actually got divorced” and left it at that.

      • This happened to me too and it was pretty gut-wrenching under the circumstances. OP, I agree with the approach to the email but one thing I recommend if you’re at all sensitive about talking about the divorce is to find your gossipiest officemate and ask him/her to spread the word that you divorced. I started crying every time I had to tell someone, so I recruited someone I knew was a master gossip and she was happy to use her powers for good.

  10. Anniversary Gift Ideas :

    It’s my 4th wedding anniversary this month and we’re trying to stick to traditional gift rules for fun. Year 4 is silk/linen. All I can think of is a fancy silk tie. Other ideas?

    • boxers.

    • Anonymous :

      silk tie plus silk sleep mask (to be used for sleep or other…)

    • KateMiddletown :

      Linen pocketsquare?

    • linen sheets

    • It’s my fourth anniversary as well, and I went with the UK traditional gift of fruit/flowers and I am getting my husband a pie of the month club and a “bonsai” tree for his office (in quotes because I don’t know if it’s a real bonsai for the $50 I paid). The man already owns 40+ ties (and, to his credit, wears all of them on a regular basis) so I’m not encouraging that shopping habit one bit.

    • Anniversary :

      We did fruit and flowers – I bought my husband beer (hops are flowers, right?) and fruit of the loom undies.

    • Silk pillowcases are *so* nice to sleep on.

    • (Depending on where you’re located…) In the US the traditional gift is fruit/flowers. I baked pies and he got me an apple tree.

  11. Last year, a tree fell on my house and caused significant damage to the point my family had to move out and stay in a hotel for a year, put all our belongings in storage, and rebuild the entire home (no one was hurt but the house). Long story short, it was a massively exhausting exercise to deal with multiple insurance companies and several incompetent contractors, we almost ended up in a lawsuit, and it was incredibly stressful on our family (trying to stay vague about details but the incident was more complicated than it sounds here). It was something that came up quite a bit in casual conversation with family and friends and even coworkers, just because of how absurd the whole situation was, and because people around us could sense that we were stressed out of our minds and had no free time because we were constantly meeting with tradespeople or checking on contractors or picking out materials.

    Despite all the stress and craziness, we were able to really maximize the insurance money and settlement we received, and we were able to eventually rebuild the house into essentially a show home. We originally bought it as a fixer upper and planned to renovate over time, but now it’s really magazine quality (I promise I’m not trying to humblebrag – I’m getting to the question soon).

    Of course, now that it’s done, everyone is clamoring to come see the new house or see pictures, and when they do, they say, “Ohmygoddd, you guys were soooo lucky to have the tree fall on your house! I wish a tree would fall on mine! That was really a blessing in disguise!” with varying tones of annoyance/envy in their voice. Not all of our friends do this, but enough that it’s become a pattern.

    I can’t fully explain why, but those comments put me into a rage, because it was truly a year of hell for my family, and my husband and I fought about money and our situation and all sorts of things constantly because of the stress we were under. Yes, I suppose we did end up financially better off, but it was torture getting there.

    My long-winded question – is there something I can say so people realize that’s a really insensitive thing to joke about? I’m fine with something lighthearted or sarcastic, but even when I try to reply, “Actually, it was pretty tough to deal with,” they double down and insist that it was no big deal because we came out ahead with a nicer house than when we started. I have to assume this will die down over time, but right now, it makes me anxious to have people over, even though I’m really proud of the finished product.

    • Anonymous :

      That is really obnoxious. If sarcasm and straightforward honesty are both ineffective, how about the old standard “I can’t believe you would say that”?

      • This, or “I’m certain you don’t realize it, but this really minimizes the absolute h e l l that we endured for a year, and trust me when I say that it was not worth it. [insert change of subject here]”

    • For my own sanity, I would presume good intentions and just go with something like, “It looks great now, but I would happily take the ‘before’ if it meant I didn’t have to go through all the stress of the last year.” If someone was being really pushy and rude, I might go with “I wouldn’t wish the last year on my worst enemy” or “would you take a large settlement if it meant a traumatic accident and a year of painful rehab?” But really, most people are probably not trying to be rude so as much as it sucks, try to keep that in mind.

    • This isn’t an answer to your question, but I’m wondering if someone said something like “I’m glad a bad situation worked out for you.” Would that strike you as insensitive?

      • No, that seems like a much better way to respond. Benign comments like that don’t bother me in the least. It’s more the suggestion that we’re “lucky” that annoys me, and that a year of construction and uprooting our lives was no big deal.

    • I had a similar situation on a smaller scale. Pipe broke, basement floored, insurance drama, basement is now nicely reno’d but I’m so burnt out on construction stuff that kitchen and master bedroom renovations which were our priority are now on hold indefinitely and it makes me so frustrated.

      When it comes up, I just use the same response every time – somehow that seems to take some of the emotion out of it for me. For you, maybe something like, “We are just glad it’s all over. Getting the house reno’d was a small consolidation for dealing with this whole situation for so long.”

      It’s human nature to look for the positives in a difficult situation. They are likely not intending to be insensitive and just trying to see the glass as half full.

      • That’s a good way to phrase it. You (and many others) are probably right that most people mean well and aren’t trying to cause offense – I’m just too close to the situation to see it.

      • +1. Great suggested language.

    • It sounds like you’re pushing yourself too hard. Yes, these comments are obnoxious, but your friends are expressing a pretty human sentiment. If you’re so emotionally raw right now that you can’t sort of eye roll and move on then you should give yourself some time. Maybe have one big party and get all of the annoying comments over with at once, instead of dragging it out so it’s constantly nagging at you.

      • +1. There’s a sense of conflictedness jumping through your post – that you’re really excited about this house and want to brag about it, but feel you shouldn’t and then get defensive when others back you into that kind of response. Conflicted feelings are normal but the intensity seems off – maybe explore what about this situation is causing *rage*. Were people not sensitive enough about how difficult it was to you while it was going on? Do you feel the house is your compensation for the horrible situation and people aren’t getting that?

        • That’s fair, and rage was probably too strong a word. It’s more a strong annoyance that people making those comments don’t understand how crappy of a year it was, and that no, we weren’t lucky, and no, you don’t want the same thing to happen to you. Those comments just sting, and I haven’t figured out a good way to respond that gets that point across, though I plan to try several of the suggestions that others have posted. We literally had someone say to us last week (talking about their own renovation), “well it’s not like we’re getting everything for free like YOU guys did, we actually have to pay for ours.” Really??

          You’re right tho that I *am* excited about the house (and being home in general! having a kitchen again! having access to all my stuff!), and I love to entertain so it’s nice to be able to do so again! (No one wants to have a dinner party in your hotel room, ya know?) Part of the joy is purely being at *home* again.

          • Can I (gently) suggest that you release the need to get across to others how terrible this year was for you? They are simply never going to understand at a level that will make you feel good. You’re going to have to sort out your emotions about all this on your own, with a counselor, or with a good friend — the stress, the anger, the anger at your husband for whatever you two were fighting about, the decision to live in a hotel room instead of moving into an apartment, whatever stress was happening at work at the same time, the trauma of all the paperwork and phone calls and decisions, etc. (And also — though I risk your wrath in saying this — recognize that this situation was not the kind of trauma where someone dies or lives are ruined.)

          • To 12:30 Anonymous – no wrath at all. I appreciate the thoughts.

    • There’s always the classic Caroline Hax “Wow.” Just stare. Let it be awkward for them, because really? They’re the ones making it weird.

    • IDK you sound like you want to brag about this house. Maybe you aren’t doing it in person but people are picking up on the fact that you think it’s magazine quality and they’re responding in kind . . . .

      • +1 yeah… how much is everyone really clamoring to see the house/see photos? Not trying to be rude, but do people really care that much about your house reno? People are probably just politely responding to a situation you’re probably talking about more than you think. Which is totally fine, but really think about whether you’re playing up the positive outcome. Again, nothing wrong with this, but that probably explains why people are also responding by emphasizing only the good outcome.

        I totally understand your annoyance and the conflicting feelings. Maybe it’s because you feel like the stress isn’t being acknowledged or validated? I wound up with a good outcome after a truly terrible, multi-year situation and it irks me when people brush the bad part off, or say things like “oh well it’s all better now!” or “you had to go through it to get where you are!” Ughg. It feels invalidating. Take solace in that this is a common type of response- its not specific to you. Your best bet is just to let it roll off your back some how rather than try to force your friends and acquaintances to adequately acknowledge your struggles.

      • I kinda agree here.

        If you want to show the house off and brag a bit about it, I think you need to accept what people say when their intent is trying to compliment how nice the house is.

        And you are learning that no one understands what an experience is truly like unless they have gone through it themselves.

        I might simply say… “Well, I truly hope that nothing like this ever happens to your family….”.

        a caregiver

    • I’d just say something like “we paid dearly for it. I’m so grateful it’s over.” Or “it came out well, but it was torture getting there.” I wouldn’t necessarily assume bad intentions. Well-meaning people say dumb things all the time.

    • Something similar happened to a coworker a decade ago. At that time I had no idea how stressful renovations are. She brought in pictures of her newly rebuilt house and I said, wow, how lucky you were to get a new house! And she took in a long breath and said softly, “but I really liked the old house.”

      It drove the point home kindly.

      • Oh god, this. Ours is a historic home, and we lost all the original details we loved about it. I literally cried over the hardwood floors and crown molding we lost. I think you nailed the reason why those comments hurt… I honestly hadn’t considered that was why.

        • Yay, resolution of your conflicted feelings!

          • Truly, you sound like you’re still really raw from the personal trauma of all this. These people aren’t being particularly insensitive, and they aren’t being snarky. You’re the one showing off your house, which is an act that invites compliments and gushing and envy. It would take a remarkable person to hit the exact combination of empathy and admiration that would feel good to you right now. So give people room to get it wrong, and give yourself space to deal with your outsized (not wrong, just really Big) emotions.

          • Lol right? I feel like I just went to therapy.

        • I’m really sorry. That’s terrible to lose all the details of your house that you loved.

    • Hmmm, is it possible you’re being overly negative (or always negative) when you talk about it? If you’re getting a barrage of look on the bright side comments (since it sounds like there really is a bright side), people might be reacting to the negativity. No one really likes the person who’s negative all the time, so it could be an effort to change the conversation in a more positive direction or point out to you that yes, things were bad but hey, they worked out a lot better than a usual crummy situation does.

    • Anon for this :

      A couple of things…

      – when really stressful shit happens it feels like it’s never going to end when you’re in the moment. I went through some really difficult stuff last year and it took months before I felt better. But months passed, and now I feel totally fine. You are going to be okay again, probably sooner than you realize, even if some of your rage is about something other than the renovation (in my case I was really angry at my husband for not being more helpful and supportive. I had to forgive him to get over everything). When I was in the middle of the crisis and the initial recovery period I would get enraged anytime someone told me to practice “self care”, because I was too exhausted to do anything else. So for a while I just barely survived. I shopped too much, drank too much, and was kind of a b*tch. Then things started getting better and I started feeling better and I recovered.

      – until you do home renovations there is no concept of how stressful, exhausting, and time consuming they are. Everything I ever knew about renovations came from watching HGTV, where there aren’t decisions, there aren’t meetings with contractors and phone calls during the work day and 273 trips to Lowes. Then we did a minor reno earlier this year and my eyes were finally opened. It’s one of those things you have to do to understand the stress level.

    • I’m sorry you went through a stressful year. But I had an acquaintance last year have a tree fall on her house and it killed her husband while he was closing the windows. This happened. Their comments are insensitive but they’re coming from a place of ignorance of how stressful the last year was to you. Put on your thick skin and just ignore them. And thank the heavens that no one WAS hurt. You had a tree fall on your house – and all you had to deal with was a year of stress, not someone getting hurt from it.

      • Very true, and thanks for the perspective. We are fortunate that no one was hurt, and I think everyone here is right that I’m still frustrated from the experience and am taking it out (mentally, at least) on people who mean no harm.

    • Linda from HR :

      I’d probably look super taken aback for a quick second, and then explain that while I can see the insurance-covered repair being a silver lining (or happy ending), the initial incident that necessitated the repair was a very difficult thing to deal with, and I’m sure they meant well but that comment sounded really tone deaf.

    • Look them right in the eyes and say, “I’m sure you’re joking?” and just let that hang there for a second. Then “This was literally a disaster for our family. Someone could have been killed, and we didn’t have a home for an entire year. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”

      • This response is going to make someone feel terrible and awkward.

        Someone WASN’T killed. They WEREN’T homeless. Sorry, OP can’t brag about her new house but then turn on everyone who is just trying to respond by looking at a silver lining and shame/berate them.

      • I mean that’s fine to say, but stop showing us all the pics of your brand new shiny house and all that. I totally get that it was a complete disaster and this is not at all what the OP wanted, but you can’t expect people to act all horrified if you are showing off the brand new fancy kitchen you got. People are human, they are flawed, and if you are showing off something that a good number of people are envious of, it’s unlikely that the majority of them are going to say, that looks nice but I am sure this was so traumatic for you. Of course they will only focus on the beautiful outcome of it, because that’s all they can see!!! They didn’t live through it!

        • Point taken, that is true. I guess it’s hard for people to look at the benefits you’re reaping, even though it was a tragedy that provoked it. OP needs to take that into consideration.

  12. Following up on the weekend Las Vegas discussion–I am a tired working mom in need of relaxation who happens to have a free afternoon in Vegas. I am thinking rock climbing, fitness class, Aquavana spa, and manicure at the Canyon Ranch spa at the Venetian, followed by dinner at Raku. Thoughts? Better suggestions?

    • Can I come too? Your plan sounds awesome.

    • This tired mom spent her 1/2 free day in Vegas sitting by the pool, reading a book, and doing nothing. It was amazing. Highly recommend a less complicated day if you are tired.

      • +1. As much as I am always tempted to DO ALL THE THINGS when I am in a different town and have free time, what generally gives me the most pleasure and puts me in the best frame of mind for going back to my real life is to do nothing. Not having to be anywhere or be on any kind of schedule is a huge gift. Business trips are the only real vacations I get, so I try to do as much nothing as I can.

      • +1. Yikes, don’t overschedule yourself if you want to feel rejuvenated at the end of the day.

        I’d go for a spa/pool day with a light workout (if it makes you feel better), then dinner.

    • Anonymous :

      This plan sounds awesome. If you want to get outside, I recommend Red Rock Canyon for hiking. But it is hard to disagree with your plan. Sometimes the very best days are lazy days–if you let yourself actually shut down and enjoy it. It’s hard to do though. I am 100% jealous of your existing plan.

    • All of that in one afternoon? Seems like a lot to pack in.

    • Anonymous :

      This sounds amazing and would be my preferred method of relaxation too (substitute a run for climbing – but perhaps not at midday in Vegas).

    • KateMiddletown :

      All that in 1 afternoon? No wonder you’re tired! I would do spa, nap, then dinner and wine.

      • I should have been clearer–everything but dinner would be at the same spa. Maybe I will scale back, though.

    • Raku is delish, but I would prefer to dine there with someone because it is dark and dim and not very conducive to single dining . If I was going to dine in Vegas by myself in that price point, I would go to Cut, sit at the bar, get the bone marrow flan and some other app and not share my bread basket with anyone. I find the service at Wolfgang Puck restos to be more welcoming to single diners. Also, going to Cut (or somewhere similar on the Strip, maybe Bazaar Meat) avoids schlepping out and back to Spring Mountain, which raises my stress level.

  13. Has anyone here been able to successfully move out of the “friend zone”?

    I’ve been dating a guy close to a year, and I’m pretty crazy about him. But, the relationship isn’t progressing, we’re still just “dating” and we don’t call each other boyfriend/girlfriend. He is still figuring out how to date after a divorce and with young kids (he has them 1/2 the time), and I’ve spent almost a year being very respectful and patient while he figures this out, as I understand it’s complex to navigate. I’ve never met the kids and there’s no plan for me to meet them, even a year in. I’m starting to realize this is never going to turn into the relationship I want (i.e., an actual relationship) and the whole thing makes me feel so sad.

    Meanwhile, my very good friend of 5 years told me this week he is in love with me (the l-word was actually used). Apparently all our mutual friends knew, but I didn’t. He wants all the things I want (solid, full time relationship, kids) and he wants them with me. Totally threw me for a loop. This guy is kind, caring, dependable, fun, and all over an excellent person. I don’t know yet if I have romantic feelings for him. I haven’t really thought about it (he’s just always been that one solid friend who is “just a friend”). We know each other really well and have helped each other through some tough times. He’s the person I would call (and have called!) for a ride to the ER.

    The friendship has already been irreversibly altered since he confessed his feelings for me, so the concern of ruining the friendship isn’t really there. Should I give this a try? Can I round it up to being in love with him because I so want to be? (the kid thing – I’m 38 so this may be my last chance and he would make an excellent father).

    Basically, he was telling me all the things I wish the guy I’m dating would tell me, but that I’ve realized I will never hear from him. So here’s a guy who’s ready to go all in and who actually would be proud to be with me and let people know I’m his girlfriend.

    Grateful for any advice!

    • I would try! Go out on a date. See what happens. It doesn’t sound like you owe the other guy any explanations. This sounds like something that could turn out to be very romantic, or maybe you will never reciprocate your friend’s feelings, but there is only one way to really find out.

    • My first reaction is – what do you have to lose by giving the very good friend a try? As you said, your friendship is already irreversibly altered, you’re never going back. It seems like your options are to 1) give the romantic a shot with the good friend and maybe you’ll fall in love with someone who is perfect for you or 2) continue to dwaddle away time with not-boyfriend. No brainer – go with option 1.

      Be honest and open with your feelings with good friend of that you’re not sure if you have romantic feelings for him but you’d like to try. He sounds like an amazing person who really put himself out there.

      • I really disagree. This is not a binary option and it’s dangerous to think that way. There’s being single! Or meeting one of the literally billions of other people in the world! The world is a big place and OP has tons of options.

        • I actually really agree your point, tribble, and rescind my options argument. Although I still think that you should give it a shot with the good friend because it doesn’t seem like there’s much to lose, as the friendship isn’t coming back the way it was anyway. And if it doesn’t work out with good friend, you haven’t lost anything as the not-boyfriend isn’t going anywhere anyway. And you have all the other options, which is tribble’s excellent point.

    • I would hit pause on the current relationship. Take a real break . No calls, texting, social media. And try dating Friend. My DH was very much a ‘friend’ – he wasn’t tall or dark haired. I didn’t ‘like’ guys with a beard. Giving him a chance with the smartest thing I ever did. And because we had been friends, it was so great to know he liked me for me, not for ‘looks cute on a date me’ but ‘can you drive me to the ER’ level of real.

      Honestly, they are two very different choices. If you continue with guy #1 you may end up being a step-parent at some point which is not easy. Make that choice with your eyes wide open with someone who 100% wants that with you. It doesn’t sound like Guy #1 is offering any of that right now. If he’s newly divorced and still hasn’t introduced you to his kids after a year, it may be a very long time before he is ready to move on.

    • End the dead end relationship. Give yourself time to grieve the loss of that potential. Invest in yourself for a few months. Then you’ll be in a better position to assess whether you never thought of friend romantically because you’re not attracted to him, or if you were always so hung up on other people that it was never a possibility.

      • Agreed. These are two independent scenarios. Regardless of what you do with friend, dump “boyfriend”. Consider dating friend or not but maybe you two could spend one-on-one time together to assess whether this could be a viable romantic relationship.

      • Wanted to chime in to say exactly this. End the relationship that’s going nowhere and don’t abuse your friend’s feelings for you just because you want a boyfriend- he wants capital L love and you aren’t sure you have that with him yet. Take some time to be single and re-assess. Tell him how much he means to you as a friend and that you aren’t sure how you feel about him but that you definitely need time to think about it. And then TAKE some time to think about it. Single.

      • I agree w dump the boyfriend, but I don’t think there’s a need to take the time off. I used to do that and it was just an excuse not to date for a while. I think you know yourself well enough to tell if someone is right for you without a break from the scene. I’m glad I didn’t after my last relationship because the next guy I went out with is now my husband. After dating for about 20 years, I knew what I was looking for.

      • I agree totally. OP, there are two different, unrelated issues here that you are conflating unnecessarily. 1. You are in a dead-end relationship with a guy who is just not that into you (dating is not so difficult that someone who has been married before – and has, presumably, dated other people in the distant past – needs time to “figure it out.”). 2. A friend has confessed strong feelings for you. The situations exist independent of each other. Break up with your “not-a-boyfriend” – it may be necessary to go no-contact – and then give yourself some time to figure out how you feel about your friend. There’s no need to complicate your life by feeling like you have to act on your friend’s declaration. I do think you need to act on the dead-end relationship, but you’ve needed to act on that for awhile.

        This could be the start of something great. Or maybe not. But for me, it’s always nice (in the long run) to get a kick in the pants that helps me make a positive change.

      • Yes, this. You are crazy about a guy who is not crazy about you. End that relationship and make an honest determination about whether you are ready to try a new relationship. If so, you can explore with your friend. But definitely be up front with your friend, whether you just don’t know if you’re interested romantically, if you need time to recover, etc.

        From your description, right now it seems like you’re mainly interested in how much your friend likes you, which just isn’t enough of a reason to actually start a new relationship. Explore? Yes, but I’d take it slow and see if you reciprocate.

    • Guy you are dating- either break it off or just say “it’s been a year. Are you my boyfriend? If not, bye.”

      Good friend- girl go for it. You’ll be married in 6 months. Mazel tov. Life works out sometimes. Kiss him.

    • I say go for it! The friendship is already changed, so exploring a bit won’t be what does it. Plus, you sound like you’re interested.

    • I’d give it a try. I started dating (and then married) the guy who had been my best friend of 3 years, and we now have a kid. It was a really good foundation to start on.

    • Are you physically attracted to Friend? I think if you are, it’s worth exploring. Physical attraction and a great friendship make a solid foundation for a relationship. But I think you need to be really upfront with him that this is all new for you and although you want to date and see where it goes, you are not in love and it will likely take you a while to get there.

      “Can I round it up to being in love with him because I so want to be? (the kid thing – I’m 38 so this may be my last chance and he would make an excellent father).” This part of your question really gives me pause. You cannot “round it up to being in love” just because you want him to be your sperm donor. You can date and see if you fall in love, but if you are not developing feelings for him after a little while, you have to cut him loose.

      I think you should end things with the divorced guy regardless of what happens or doesn’t happen with your friend. You want different things and it’s been a year, he’s not going to change.

    • My response may have been eaten, but I’d say go for it. I started dating and then married the guy who had previously been my best friend of 3 years and we now have a kid together. It was a great foundation to start on.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I sort of ‘made’ myself fall in love with a friend: he was so into me! he was going to be so much nicer than the jerk I was with! he was so smart! he was so funny! he was so reliable! he was so into me!

      [I am just sharing my experience, here, and not telling you what to do. Just a “learn from my mistakes” type of deal.]

      It flamed out pretty spectacularly. There were a lot of problems (ahem, he was not actually that nice) but I think there was a fundamental problem of my not liking him that way, and his feeling entitled to my affection.

      He implied that it wasn’t fair to him that I didn’t like him romantically – after all, he was so nice to me, and not like that (attractive) jerk – and so steady, didn’t I basically owe him my love? (There was a night we were out dancing with a group of friends and a creepy guy wouldn’t leave me alone, so this dude sort of pretended he was my boyfriend to get the other guy to back off. And he told me, all puppy-doggy, “when we were convincing that guy that we were together, I guess I sort of convinced myself, too.” Uh ¯\_(ツ)_/) Shades of this guy: http://www.whimn.com.au/love/dating/what-this-man-is-doing-for-his-exgirlfriend-isnt-romantic-its-creepy/news-story/c1519dcd330c8f799383084047620213

      That — his sense of entitlement to me — should have been a red flag, because it was certainly a theme in our relationship. To be honest, I probably could have *made* it work as a forever thing, but I didn’t want to be in a relationship where I had to twist myself into things and feelings that weren’t coming naturally, while he just sat back feeling entitled.

      The fact that your guy, out of the blue, declares his love (while you are in a relationship with someone else no less!) makes me think he might not be respecting you enough. Like you’re the MPDG in his movie, now a whole person.

      I don’t doubt that plenty of great relationships have emerged from this type of situation, but I wanted to give you the other side so you are aware of what to watch for.

      • But your guy was just a jerk!

        We don’t have enough information to know if friend is a jerk. Maybe friend doesn’t know about not-boyfriend. Or maybe he does, but think’s that not-boyfriend doesn’t treat Anon right. Or maybe he worries that he is going to miss his chance, and doesn’t want to live with that regret. I don’t think that any of those make friend a jerk. Or maybe he just is. But unless Anon has some reasons to think that, I don’t see a downside to giving him a chance (assuming she doesn’t know that there is no way she could be interested)

        • Rainbow Hair :

          I did try to say that this was just my experience!

          The thing that worries me, as I said, is the out-of-nowhere declaration of Love. It has a whiff of entitlement about it. “I would love to take you out on a date” communicates an interest in dating her without all that drama.

      • Man, that Bristol guy is creepy. She dodged a bullet. Luckily he does not at all remind me of Friend. Friend basically decided he’s been holding this in for 5 years and wanted to get it off his chest and let me decide if I want to pursue it. He said he’s going to be heartbroken and perhaps will need some time apart (we spend a lot of time together) if I say no, but that he’ll respect it (obviously) and we will be OK. He’s a super level-headed guy, no sense of entitlement, just respectful kindness.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          Oh, I’m sorry I posted another response before I read this. I’m glad he’s a good guy!

    • Baconpancakes :

      Am I the only one who didn’t see a conflict here? Continue to date them both since you’re not in a committed relationship with the first one and you haven’t committed to the second one.

      Isn’t that what “dating” is? Spending time with people to see if you want to commit to them, or just spending time with them for fun?

      If you think you won’t be able to move on from divorcee, you might want to stop seeing him, just to spare yourself. But for me at least, having multiple options right in front of me helps me to see more clearly which ones are worth my time.

      • Having read through all of the responses, I think this might be the one I would choose. But obviously, this is the definition of a personal choice.

      • I’d agree if they were together for a few months but she’s been dating Divorced Guy for a year, which is plenty of time to know where it’s heading. OP wants something Serious and Divorced Guy is not offering that as an option. Time to cut loose and make space for A Guy who can offer the Serious stuff.

    • Thanks, everyone, for your perspectives. I’m reading everything and taking it in. At least I think I know what I need to do with divorcee not-boyfriend now (tell him that if things aren’t going to change, then we need to end it), even though it’s not what I want.

      • Let me just say – regardless of what happens with your friend, please please please stop wasting your time with the divorced guy. I have seen so many great women waste tons of precious time on guys who did not deserve it. For all the excuses offered about “not being ready,” “figuring things out,” etc., it must not have been that hard, because the guys would inevitably dump my friends to marry and have babies with other women, with very little agonizing required.

        Maybe your friend is your hidden soul mate; maybe not. But your not-boyfriend is wasting your time, and you deserve so much more. Like someone who likes you and sees enough of a future with you to introduce you to his kids.

        • Senior Attorney :

          I couldn’t agree with this more. When I was dating my number one rule was “I do not date anybody who is not crazy about me.” It meant I didn’t date a lot, but I also didn’t have to put up with much of that whole not-boyfriend mishegas. If somebody wants to be with you, he will move heaven and earth to be with you. And that’s what you should hold out for.

        • Anonymous :

          Yep. Divorced dude wants to have $ex without the commitment, which is totally fine, but it’s not what you want and you guys are not at all on the same page. He’s not interested in a relationship.

      • I’ve dated the guy who wouldn’t call me his GF, didn’t like to hold my hand in public, etc.

        It’s sooo much better to be with someone who wants the world to know how lucky he is to have you.I get a little thrill every time my BF introduces me as his girlfriend, even after 5 years. I hope you find this happiness, if not with Friend, with someone else.

    • I vote to give the friend a shot. I was in a very serious relationship and had been friends with several of my friends’ boyfriends (we’d all hung out as a group). My roommate and her boyfriend broke up, but he still came out with me and some of the others–he lived close by and was a supporter of the same sports teams we were.

      I don’t even remember the time between Friends and Dating. We were just completely platonic friends for years. And then one day we weren’t- we were sitting around and I don’t even know who said it but one of us said something like “we’d be a much better couple.” And we realized at the same time that we would be. And I broke up with my boyfriend at the time and we moved in together and have 2 kids, a dog and are about to hit our 10 year wedding anniversary.

  14. Hopefully this is not too political to ask, but I’ll go ahead. I was just reading a news article that brought up choice/abortion, and I was wondering why liberals/Democrats haven’t pushed harder to call “pro-life” “anti-choice” instead. Is there a substantive reason, or is it a case of Democrats being too civil (and correct me if my impression is wrong; I’m active in liberal politics on other matters; less so on choice)?

    • I think the right is better at branding. Pro life, death tax, school choice, etc. The left occasionally gets it right (e.g., marriage equality) but rarely succeeds in re-branding the other side’s position. I’ve heard people try to do the anti-choice label for years but it rarely seems to stick. I think it also tends to get caught up with other labeling like “anti-woman,” which, given the number of women who are against abortion, I don’t think is a helpful road to go down. So, yes, in some ways the left just is too nice about it but we also just suck at this sort of thing, I think.

    • You think we haven’t?

      • Honestly? No. . .that’s why I asked. Like could it be the official position of the Democratic Party to brand the other position as anti-choice? Maybe it is, but if that’s the case, I’ve missed it (note I mean using the term broadly, not as a one-off), and I’m the right demographic to know.

    • Good question.

      For years I have noticed how Republicans are much better at labeling things for their benefit than Democrats are. Global warming becomes Climate Change, for example. The use of the word “entitlements” for Medicare and Social Security, with its slight negative connotation. Calling the ACA “Obamacare”. At least we embraced Obamacare, and turned it into a good (or at least less bad….) word.

      I think Democrats are just a little less ?creative regarding these “small” things, which the Republicans are much more attentive to.

      Words make a HUGE difference.

      • nasty woman :

        Well, I agree with you, but climate change is the more appropriate term. Not that they haven’t taken over branding of that issue as well. In fact, they’ve completely re-branded the concept of a scientific theory.

      • I don’t think it’s just a matter of creativity. Call me biased, but I think some ideas are easier to dumb down into a slogan than others. Trickle down economics has been shown to be total BS over and over and yet it is still a persuasive idea b/c it’s so “simple.” When you start talking about nuance, that becomes harder so progressive tax plans always get relabeled as socialism or redistribution and don’t get traction. If you’re okay with selling all the people on the idea that they took could die with a multi-million dollar estate that the gov’t will try to take away through unfair taxes, it’s much easier.

      • This, to some extent. I think the Republicans are better at getting in line than the Democrats are. Democrats have been framing the right as “anti-choice” for decades, but not all Democrats use the term consistently. Compare that with Republicans who almost across the board say they are “pro-life” (with just a few holdouts from the endangered moderate Republican camp).

        See also the Sunday morning talk shows. You can flip channels and see different Republicans using the exact same words, whereas the Democrats are largely making the same points as each other, but in different words and with different emphases.

        Bug or feature, depending on your perspective.

      • “Climate change” is not Republican re-branding, though. Progressives started using that phrase because some people would say stuff like “how do you like this global warming?” whenever it snowed.

        • This isn’t true. The Bush administration started using climate change as opposed to global warming – climate change sounds less scary.

          I do agree with your point. I think climate change is a more accurate description than global warming since we’re going to see all kinds of extreme weather events, not just hotter summers.

          • But I thought Al Gore invented it! The current administration apparently doesn’t like either term. They prefer “weather extremes.”

          • KateMiddletown :

            I thought Al Gore coined “climate change”, too, especially since it’s not just warming that we’re worried about.

      • All of this +1. Words matter so much. I pay attention Frank Luntz specifically for this type of thing – he’s a Republican political strategist who focuses on labeling effectively to turn public opinion. He’s annoyingly good at it. He’s credited with turning “global warming” into “climate change” and “estate tax” into “death tax”, among other things. Flip the phrase, turn the debate.

    • nasty woman :

      Dems are too civil and generally shy away from bombastic/inflammatory languge.

      In general, anti-choicers have no qualms whatsoever about distorting language beyond all reasonable meaning to demonize the other side. They’ve come up with an entirely new vocabulary to discuss abortion. It would be hysterical if it wasn’t so damaging/sad.

    • It seems that pro-life gets to the heart of the position, in a way that anti-choice doesn’t. Maybe would be easier to rebrand if that weren’t the case.

      • I’m the OP, and I disagree – this is one of the things that led me to post the question. When I thought about it, I’m “pro-life” in so many respects except for the one that has that branding. . . I personally don’t think I could have an abortion, I want to support new lives, I’m against the death penalty, think all people deserve dignity and respect. . . but I’m for reproductive choice. So pro- and anti-choice seem like better monikers to me.

  15. Not a real problem :

    First television without pity went down, now previously has moved to all podcasts and avclub’s new format is awful. Where am I getting my reviews and updates from now? I just realized I missed the premiere of Top of the Lake last night because I had no idea it was happening. Help me feed my media addiction (hobby? hobby sounds better)

    • Shopaholic :

      There are a lot of TV websites! I follow Vulture, TV Fanatic and TVLine. I’m sure there are more but those are the three that I follow regularly.

    • I have been mourning the AVClub’s demise for a while (I stopped following much when they had their big mass exodus). Grantland is sometimes good.

  16. Minimal v. Sentimental :

    I have recently been trending towards minimalism. I won’t ever be the type of minimalist that only has two chairs and five shirts and washes my single plate after every meal, but I have gotten rid of a lot of clutter and cut down on my possessions. I really like having fewer things and more space.

    My grandmother recently passed away, and we are each allowed to take whatever of hers we would like to keep. We were very very close, and there are so many things in her home that are special to me. I have already kept a few things– several pictures she painted, a few necklaces, a pair of leather gloves, a set of silverware, etc.

    This weekend, we are having an estate sale to get rid of anything the family hasn’t kept. It is making me feel a little sick. Of course there are many things that won’t make me sad to get rid of– kitchen tools, household odds and ends. But there are so many more things that I’m afraid I’ll regret letting go. For example, her china. (We are in the south if that gives any context.) She has her own china, and her mother’s china. My own mother has her own wedding china, and feels comfortable parting with Gram’s china (and great grandma’s china too). I have my own wedding china, and so do all the grandchildren. But it is making me feel ill to think about letting this other china go to strangers. Even though I don’t need it, even though I have no other place to put it.

    I could say the word and it would be mine. And there are a handful of other things– silver pitchers, crystal vases, some furniture (my word, the furniture). I did already claim one bedroom set that will go in my little boy’s bedroom. But there’s much more. I am walking this weird line between “I don’t need anything” and “This is special because it was Gram’s.” I don’t know what to do and need to settle on an approach before the estate sale this weekend. Any advice?

    • I’m also in the Soutg/ and my husband holds me back from being a sentimental hoarder. With that said- I would keep one of those sets of china! But only on the condition that you use it sometimes. The 2 ways I can let go of things is to first, imagine the item being used happily by someone that needed it, versus gathering dust and never being used. To be cherished and used by strangers is a better outcome than sitting in a box in an attic unused. (Second way is to give the items to a worthy cause- doesn’t apply to your situation. But if someone is buying the items at a sale, then it is something they truly want). Good luck and I’m sorry for your loss.

      • I’d take part of the china sets you want to keep. The sad truth is that china apparently does not sell well in the secondary market – very few people want it anymore. I don’t know where it ends up but my local high-end consignment shop won’t even accept it anymore because it doesn’t move. So I’d keep a few and figure the rest go to Goodwill, unfortunately (which breaks my heart).

        • Anonymous :

          That’s sad. Every time I see a set in an antique store I’m just transfixed, even though I have one. I kinda want more. Can you tell us where you are, so we could go to the estate sale and you’d definitely know us ‘r e t t e s would be good homes for her possessions?

        • Anonymous :

          +1. Can you keep a cup and saucer as a token? Or all the dessert plates (for example)? I feel for you. My grandma’s estate s a l e is in two weeks on the other side of the country. She gave me a special piece of jewelry before she passed away, so I didn’t think I needed/wanted anything else (I’m also a mostly minimalist)..but when I went out for the memorial service, nostalgia hit hard and I ended up asking for quite a few items. Like you, there’s a lot of china etc, and if it wasn’t for the cross country transport issue, I’d take more. I’m so sad about the household being broken up and bits of family history being dispersed. And, you know, even the non-sentimental items give me pause because many things are just not as well made as they used to be! Sorry for your lost.

    • When we cleaned out my dad’s house (to go to assisted living, not because he died), I panicked and took too many things. I highly recommend doing that. In the couple of years since that happened, I’ve used and loved some things I took in the panic, and gotten rid of others when it became clear that they were clutter rather than treasures. You can always take something now and get rid of it later. You don’t have to take every single thing you’re panicking about, but maybe pick the ones that you are the most conflicted about.

      As far as china goes, something my mom did when paring down the various china sets she had was to only keep part of a set. Like she has her main big set, and then just a set of four dessert bowls from another set that was important to her to keep some of, but she didn’t have room for everything.

    • If there is any of the stuff that you would objectively, really and truly use, even to upgrade something you already have, then take it. If you are taking it and all it will do is sit in storage, then don’t take it. So if you have a random pitcher you currently use in the summer to make tea and you could get rid of it and use Gram’s pitcher instead, then take the pitcher. If you have nowhere to display the china and aren’t going to use the china so it will just sit in your closet, then don’t take it. There is a good chance that the person who will buy the china at an estate sale is going to be really excited about that china and love it. It is better for someone else to love her china than for it to sit in a family member’s closet for decades.

    • I have my mother’s china and it stayed in boxes for years, unused. Finally I said, “What the heck,” and started using it along with my everyday dishes, for normal meals. If it breaks, it breaks. I’d take the china, but use it. And shrug when the kids break it.

    • I recently got a bunch of fabulous vintage dishware from the estate of a friend of a friend’s mother. Apparently the woman was having a really hard time parting with stuff that was her mom’s and that seemed valuable, so she enlisted her friends to help her make lists of people they thought would genuinely love the stuff. She was able to give it away because it was going to what she knew would be a loving home. Are you able to maybe try something like that?

      Also, there’s no real rule that says everything has to go at once. If there are some things you’re on the fence about, are you able to store them for a while and then reconsider when the loss of your grandmother isn’t so fresh?

    • Anonymous :

      I kept my grandmother’s china and my husband’s grandmother’s china. I couldn’t bear to part with those sets; I knew it would bother me forever. However, there was only a service for less-than-6 and a service for 8; I wasn’t dealing with a service for 24 with all the accent pieces, or anything. I also had space to store it with no issues.

      It’s all about what you think you can live with…to me, the china and my great-grandmother’s handmade quilts were non-negotiable items I had to keep. We let go of almost everything else. My family is Southern and there are big emotions about family china, as you know. I would keep at least one or two place settings, if you can.

    • Personally, I’d take and keep the china and use it for everyday use rather than save it for something special.

      • This. You can then donate or sell the dishes you currently use so you don’t have extra dishes around.

    • Boy I would make some storage room and keep one set of china . You can decide later that you want to give it away, but you can’t decide later that you want to keep it if you give it away now.

      And here’s something to consider. Your kids may not be minimalists. They may appreciate that you kept a few things.

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Caveat – I am not a minimalist. But you have a chance to keep something that has already been in your family for almost four generations and you are going to garage sale it? Please keep your great-grandmother’s china. Use it. Think about your family when you do. And pass it down to the next generation.

      I feel like our disposable society has lost the notion of heirlooms, of things being passed down with love through the years.

      Clearly, I vote for keeping at least the older set of china.

    • You can keep it now and sell/donate it later if you find your feelings change. But you can’t give it away now and then get it back.

    • Listen to The Minimalists podcast #91 Nostalgia.

      • It’s a long one. I recommend to start listening around 50 minutes in to get to the heart of this episode.

    • Anonymous :

      This happened to me a few years back. I ended up taking way more stuff than I probably should have (china, regular dishes, furniture, decor items, etc). Now that some time has passed, I’ve gotten rid of some of the non-heirloom items and feel fine about it. I’m glad I stored all this stuff (some of it junk) for long enough that I can say with confidence I do not want it.

      • I took table linens, china, crystal, silver, and “real” jewelry. Over the course of 20 years, different bits of it appealed to me, and the rest I wasn’t using fit into one cabinet that stands in the dining room. I’m down to one tablecloth, and have been using the china for brunches. I would keep it.

    • Flats Only :

      Keep the dessert/salad plates from the set of china. Those small extra plates come in handy, and it seems special to serve dessert on them. I have a set of gold Limoges dessert plates that came from my great grandmother, and I love them dearly and use them at Thanksgiving.

  17. Paging Rainbow Hair :

    Hi, I commented on your tights storage question on Friday (suggesting rolling them top to bottom into rosebuds and standing them like soldiers in the drawer)

    One thing i forgot to mention is keeping navy separate from black. They are really hard to tell apart on a dark winter morning. I keep the navy and black tights separated by a wall of nude hose in the middle. So my drawer from left to right goes navy – nude – black.

    I have way more black than navy tights but I do have to remember to keep the navy on its own side because yes, I have accidentally worn navy tights with a black outfit.

    • I have to do this with my navy and black suits (I have a few that I own in both colors). At least with a suit I can write on the tag “N” or “Bl”!

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Ah yes, that feeling of looking down at your legs and realizing those weren’t the tights you meant to wear! (I was somehow always finding myself in olive tights instead of grey when I lived in Chicago.)

    • Excellent tip. I get dressed in the dark a lot because my fellow doesn’t have to go to work as early as I do. The tights struggle is real.

  18. This is a silly question, but given all the interesting posts on hobbies lately — what do you write down, when pressed, as your hobbies if you really have none (in my case, because I work crazy hours and have little kids)? Like, I read and exercise in my “spare” time but that’s like 3 miles a few times a week and weights when I have time, and a few novels a year — I’m hardly an ironman or a bookworm. Otherwise, when I’m not working, I’m running around with my kids doing random things with my family — museums, playgrounds, little hikes, get togethers with friends. Any way to make any of this sound like a “hobby” without lying?

    • If you run that regularly, I would definitely list running. List running, hiking, museums, reading. Be prepared to talk about a couple of specific examples – favorite hike in the area, last book you read that you would recommend, whether you prefer running indoors or outdoors.

      You don’t have to be ‘best ever’ at any of it. Hobbies is just about your interests that help people understand who you are as a person outside of your job.

    • I don’t think its lying to state reading and exercise as ‘hobbies’ if pressed to by (what? a dating site? a job application?). Presumably anyone who has been around small children with full time working parents understands that a parents time for ‘hobbies’ is literally maybe a few hours a week…on a good week.

    • Linda from HR :

      Out of curiosity, when are you pressed for your hobbies? They’re not required on a resume anymore, are there dating sites or social media sites where you have to list hobbies? If asked in an interview, it might be acceptable to admit you don’t engage in anything you consider a “hobby” per se, but you use your spare time to read and exercise, and you could probably mention a good book you’ve read recently, or what kind of books you’re into.

      • Linda from HR :

        Actually, I guess I do remember ice-breaker scenarios where we all have to go around the room and talk about our hobbies, but in those situations, at least half the room admits to not having any and, like you OP, says they like to read, run, spend time with friends and family, watch movies, and most people just nod and think little of it because it’s so common.

        • Ugh, I hate these icebreakers because our firm is one of those companies where you need a hobby that’s compelling. It’s not enough to take bike rides; you need to be a competitive cyclist who’s also doing an Ironman. You can’t just travel to Ohio; it needs to be a Greek island.

        • OP here — yes, this kind of thing is what I’m talking about. Nobody is putting a gun to my head, but I feel like I never have an interesting fact or hobby to share. I’m a biglaw associate, and I feel like while everyone else works a lot, most people in my situation don’t have kids and are the type of people that have an intense or interesting hobby on the side. Not the biggest problem in my life — I just get stressed out every time I have to think of an answer to these types of questions!

          • Srsly, nobody cares about your hobby. Don’t feel bad giving a generic answer because again, nobody cares.

    • They are hobbies and you’re not lying.

    • I also struggle with this. I have preschool/young elem school age kids and my husband and I both have demanding careers. My “off” time activities include some exercise (but usually a class or short run, so nothing particularly impressive), taking my kids to the park and other activities, reading (usually novels on the train to work or in bed), and meeting up with friends. Yet none of those options really seem to be good responses to “what do you do for fun?” as they’re so… blah.

      • I think being specific helps. E.g., “I love trying new fitness classes and British mystery novels. I just finished reading X series and really enjoyed it!” I sometimes likes to listen to the Judge John Hodgeman podcast and he always admonishes people that “specificity is the soul of narrative” (I’m not sure he came up with it, but he quotes it), and I find that to be really true with this sort of stuff.

    • “Spending time with my family/children” covers it. Anyone who has (or has had) young children knows it doesn’t leave much time to cultivate hobbies.

    • I’m the same way – I consult for work and have to do the “what do you do for fun” multiple times a month, but with young kids and a travel-intense job, I essentially have no time to do anything fun.

      So two approaches:
      1) Make one into a hobby. Pick a book genre and follow a couple FB/Insta/blogs about that genre. “Oh I like Historical Fiction, I’m really excited for the new novel about Saint Olga coming out next month.” Sign up for a local 5K. “I’m starting to get into races. I’m really excited for the local one that hands out a baked pie to all finishers.”
      2) Become a jack of all trades by picking one thing you do and doing 15 minutes of extra research. “Oh I dabble in a little of everything. This month, I’m taking a photography mini-class (aka watching some online tutorials on how to use your phone camera). Last month I visited the local Art Museum after I read up on Degas. (aka you read the brochure at the museum or one article about him).”

      You can mix and match based on what you have the energy for that month.

      • coffee queen :

        My hobby:
        Chasing the rugrats! Drinking coffee while the kids are in swimming lessons is pure bliss and that’s how I describe it. I don’t really care what others think about my hobby. If people think I am boring, then so be it :) I love being boring. I am too interesting and intense in my job that it’s nice to have a boring hobby

    • My go-to is, “What’s a hobby? (I have 2 toddlers).”

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Does any of the stuff you do with your kids rise to hobby-like status? When people ask what I’m up to lately, I can often tell them about the latest craft projects I’m working on with Kiddo. “What do you do for fun?” “Well, I have a toddler and she and I just finished making this cardboard car for her school’s drive in movie.” — no one cares, but it answers the question honestly. (Because “beer” isn’t always an acceptable answer.)

    • KateMiddletown :

      Hobby questions give me such anxiety. I hate writing my bio or answering form questionnaires that ask that… it makes me feel inadequate about the way I spend my precious leisure time. (My “unfiltered” hobbies include struggling thru Zumba classes and spending money at Target.)

      • Our new employees are introduced at our monthly division-wide meetings, and their introductions always include a little bit about hobbies. Everyone reads, travels, cooks, bakes, and spends time outdoors and/or with children.

        One of these days, I’m going to write up a parody one with hobbies like day drinking, swinging, and writing [email protected]

  19. Recommendations for things to do in Rome during the week between Christmas and New Years?

    • Anonymous :

      Christmas Market in Piazza Navona, and wander into churches. Villa Borghese gallery if it’s open.

    • Away Game :

      Christmas Market in Piazza Navona, and wander into churches. Villa Borghese gallery if it’s open.

  20. Isle of Skye :

    I know there are some people here who have visited. My husband is going next summer for work (flights, hotel, rental car, etc. all paid) so I could go along for just the cost of my plane ticket to/from the UK. The catch is that I’m pregnant now and we’ll have a five month old baby then. I love to travel and don’t want to stop just because of the baby and I’ve heard that five months is a relatively easy age for travel because they’re not mobile and still sleeping a ton. So I’m inclined to go, but I would love some advice on a couple things:
    1. The place my husband will be working (Sabhal Mor Ostaig) seems to be a 1-2 hour drive from most of the scenic stuff. Normally I wouldn’t think twice about this – we will be there for seven full days and I will have nothing to do except sightsee so a very leisurely pace is fine, but maybe the longer drives are impractical with a baby?
    2. How much will I be able to see just by driving and doing light walks? From my very cursory research, it seems like some of the best views require more serious hiking that probably wouldn’t be doable with a baby strapped to my chest. For those who have been, do you think it’s worth going if you will have to pass on all the serious hikes?
    (Fwiw, I’m not going to actually book anything until the baby’s here and we know she’s healthy and how she’s sleeping, eating, etc. This trip is assuming all goes well in the first few months of her life, just looking to gather advice now).

    • Never too many shoes... :

      Will try and write more later but will say that I am not a serious hiker. I am not a hiker. I am a high heels girl who mostly hates the outdoors. to be honest. I loved Skye and saw some truly beautiful places with a car and short walks. Do not let the idea that you have to take massive hikes to see anything factor too heavily in your decision.

    • Never been to Skye (although would love to) but chiming in to say 5 months is ideal for traveling. They don’t feel so fragile anymore but they’re still portable and their schedules are not so rigid – stroller naps are great at that age, or carrier naps if you have a baby carrier. 1-2 hour drives are easy at that age too, or at least they were for my little one. If nursing is going smoothly it’s also easy since you have so much less to pack, but bringing along a few bottles is also not an obstacle to anything. Maybe some cheerios or purees or bananas at most at that age but easily skippable and more for fun than anything else.

    • Puddlejumper :

      I loved the Isle of Skye. It was one of my favorite trips ever. I recommend this book (The Most Amazing Scenic Journeys in Britain: Great Drives of Discovery Through England, Scotland and Wales (Readers Digest) Paperback – 26 Apr 2011) all the time on here but it gave the best driving routes for things to explore – like fairy glens that were totally magical. We basically drove little bits and then jumped out of the car whenever anything looked interesting. Hiking the Quiraing was amazing and you can pick your level of hike so you will find things that are a good fit for your energy and adventure level. We just did small walks and loved it.

      • SuziStockbroker :

        I looked. This book is currently selling for $431 on amazon.ca Too funny.

        • Puddlejumper :

          Woah. Haha I bought it used. Get it out from your library and make copies of the pages you will need for your drives. You only need the pages for the area you are in.

    • Are you aware that there has been a fair bit of press lately complaining bought the lack of tourist infrastructure in Skye lately? There are so many tourists that the roads can be quite clogged and the parking is haphazard. There were accompanying pictures showing cars abandoned in the road as there was no available parking places and queues of 20+people trying to get into the public toilets.

      I’m not wanting to put you off, Just be aware that if it the weather is even remotely decent, you will be in crowds of tourists. If a place is small, 100 tourists can make a quiet loch look really crowded.

    • Anonymous :

      I loved the Isle of Skye. It is wonderful. I can’t comment on the 5-month-old piece, but I can say that one of my favorite parts about Skye was driving aroundand just looking at the scenery. We hiked the Quiraing, and while we went on a moderately strenuous hike, there are definitely easier hikes that have an amazing view. We avoided the Old Man of Storr because we were told by some locals we met in Portree that the Quiraing was better. When we were driving through Skye, sometimes we would just stop (assuming the shoulder was wide enough) and walk around for a few minutes.

      I would definitely recommend going to the town of Portree, and it looks like that is only about an hour away from where you’re going to be. Walking along the waterfront is amazing.

      I also read some of the press mentioned below, about the lack of tourist infrastructure. The article I read focused on lack of infrastructure for people with disabilities, and I can see that. As to the other points: this is anecdotal, but we never had any problems with traffic–in fact, we only occasionally encountered other cars at all, and we essentially drove around the entire island over about 2 1/2 days. We also never encountered any “crowds,” and when we were there, the weather was in the upper 60s-low 70s and sunny.

    • Visited Skye this summer. We rented a car and travelled through the whole island in 5 days. We stayed in the south point of the island (Ardvasar) and the longest drive we made was to the north (I think it was max 1,5hrs).
      All the trips are 100% doable with a 5m old baby. I have actually seen people travelling/hiking with babies. You will be fine.
      I travelled around Mexico with a 5m old baby and the baby adjusted well to travelling, but the max driving she tolerated was 2hrs straight. That is my experience with one baby, so YMMV.
      Back to Skye.
      I would recommend to prepare mentally for the fact that Skye is not an island lost in time. In summer, loads of tourists visit. But mostly stay in Portree and visit key spots (Quirang, Storr, Neist Point, Fairy Pools). But the volumes are managable, nothing to be stressed about.
      I would recommend to venture out to the southern part of the island as well, it was well worth it. We loved Point of Sleat, for example. We also liked Talisker area, Storr, and driving through the island and coasts. Skye can be easilly and comfortably discovered by car. I would only recommend to make sure you book accommodation well ahead of time. Regarding weather, yes, always bring your fashionable rainwear and sensible footwear.
      if you will ever get bored by Skye, go and see the Highlands. They are amazing!

  21. Paying for Grad School :

    For those who attended grad school, especially while working full time – how did you pay for it? I’m interested in starting a program in the spring. My company will reimburse me for about half but I will have to pay up front. I have a nasty interest rate on my private undergrad loan and would really like to avoid going the private route again. I’m not very familiar with the FAFSA….I had a bad home situation and was never able to obtain my parents’ information needed in order to complete it (hence why undergrad was paid with a private loan). I plan on looking into the FAFSA further and applying for scholarships, but just wondering what other options could be out there that I’m not thinking of.

    • As a grad student, you’re not eligible for loans and grants the same way as an undergraduate student – but (the bright side?) is that there are federal loans available up to the cost of attendance to your program. Undergrads often have a max they can borrow, which leads to some students getting private loans to bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and your grant and loan package. Grad school, as long as you are credit-worthy and are in an accredited program, is generally financed through Grad PLUS loans, which are available up to the cost of attendance.

      I think right now the fed grad loans are at 6%, as long as you’re credit-worthy. If I were you, I’d figure out the max you can pay out of pocket as you go, and then do fed loans for the rest. You can adjust/reduce the loan amount within a few days of starting class too, so if you start and figure out you can actually pay more than what you had budgeted – call the financial aid office and have them reduce your loans.

    • I’m doing my MBA part-time while working full-time. I’m paying for it with loans, but they’re federal ones, not private. The interest rate is reasonable. Interest does accumulate while you’re in school, though.

      Once I started applying to schools, I completed the FAFSA (as a grad student, you don’t need information from parents. You’re allowed to put it in, but I never did because I don’t live at home) which was really quick. My school then automatically told the government I’m eligible for loans (wasn’t based on income, as far as I can tell, and they offered me about $30k more than I ended up taking), and I did all the signing online. Any extra money you take out beyond tuition is returned to you so you can use it for other school expenses (or living, if needed). Honestly it’s far simpler overall than it was for undergrad.

    • givemyregards :

      Not a new option, but just some experience with public loans: the FAFSA is super simple to fill out, particularly when you’re an adult because it’s just your information – no need to get anything from your parents. Sometimes private interest rates are lower, but you don’t have all the protections that public loans offer (well, that they currently offer, at least). I have been in a similar situation and took out public loans, then paid them back when I was reimbursed by my employer.

    • Have you thought about refinancing your private loans? SoFi is a good option and there are also several banks now that will do student loan refinancing.

  22. Away Luggage :

    Do any of use Away luggage? I’m planning on taking a few short (less than 3 or 4 days) trips next year and could use a good carryon. I’m used to my less modern fabric suitcases but I’m thinking of switching to hard shell luggage and love away’s design. Is it worth the price or should I just check out the luggage section of tj maxx, marshalls, etc? Is the quality that great?

    • Isle of Skye :

      I have a carry-on from them although I haven’t had it that long so can’t really speak to how it holds up over time. I love how it rolls and I feel like it holds a lot for its size. The outside gets pretty scuffed up (my suitcase has never been checked but still manages to get a little dinged up on most trips). Some of the marks wipe off but some don’t. I think if you really care about cosmetic stuff, it might not be worth the price. But I’m all about function and so far I’m happy with the investment.

    • I have an Away case and love it – I got the smallest sized carryon and can pack for a week in there. It’s the best suitcase I’ve ever had. And the charging feature is great too. I think it’s worth the money – mine looks new after a few years of use, and it’s really balanced and light.

    • Away Luggage Review :

      I ordered the Away carry-on about 6 months ago and found the handle to be incredibly flimsy. I sent it back and got a TravelPro off Amazon instead. The TravelPro has been AMAZING. I’ve used it on a couple international trips as well as several shorter domestic flights. It doesn’t show wear, rolls smoothly even on difficult surfaces, and the handle is very sturdy. It has a charger feature similar to Away where it has a small pocket for a charger that then has a cord going to a USB charging hub. I’ve found I don’t even use that feature though since my Mophie charger case gives me about 1.5 to 2 days worth of charge.

      Bottom line, Away has fantastic marketing, but the product was not as good as I’d expect for the price.

      • Anonymous :


        I sent it back because the handle was flimsy (I got the smallest carry-on and the handle would bend when I didn’t have much in the suitcase).

        I got a similar model for free (with purchase at a dept store) a week later that was way sturdier, so despite wanting to like the Away, I just couldn’t.

        I also travel a lot, so a handle that won’t break is important to me. Agree that the Away suitcases LOOK great.

    • Anonymous :

      I have an away suitcase (international carry-on size). It looks fly and the portable charger is awesome. It holds a ton too. The handle is a little flimsy feeling but it rolls so nicely that I will live.

  23. Need a moment to complain:

    Every time I think I don’t have any pressing home repair projects, yey! Something breaks. Last week I thought my house was in good repair, this weekend I noticed a leak in the roof of the carport and my dishwasher mysteriously quit working. g*dd*mnit.

  24. I’ll be spending a full day in L.A. with my husband next month, and since it’s his birthday, I’d like to plan some fun things for us to do. We’ll be staying in Glassell Park, but will have a car and can get around. We like museums, but would max out after ~2 hours, so one museum recommendation would be good, plus lunch recs in or around said museum. Husband likes sports and music. The weather should be great, so anything outdoors is a plus. I’m just overwhelmed by the options in LA and would appreciate some guidance. Thanks!

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Dodger Stadium is fun! You’re outdoors (ha!) while you watch sports! You could also see what’s on at the Hollywood Bowl, for outdoors and music.

      I really like going to LACMA, then walking around the Brea Tar Pits, and then getting Ethiopian food on Fairfax.

      • looks like baseball is over by October though, otherwise he would have loved that!

        I have been to LACMA, but would love to see the Getty and I think he would like it too (plus it looks like it isn’t far from Santa Monica and Venice Beach, which he has mentioned). Any good lunch recs around there?

        • Gjelina – in Venice, and one of my top 5 favorite restaurants in all the lands.

        • Senior Attorney :

          The Getty has an amazing, amazing high-end restaurant on site. Big, big thumbs up!

        • Know that there are two Getty’s–the Getty Villa in Malibu is amazing (and very different from the Getty on Mulhulland). You need advance reservations for the Getty Villa. Highly recommend. It’s lovely in summer.

          Also, I think I have been away from LA too long because I had never heard of Glassell Park. (But I grew up by the beach!) It’s definitely not part of the weather map!

  25. I bought that plus size dress last week, the blue Adrienne Papell. It arrived really quickly and I’m wearing it today. I love it! I ordered an 18w, which is my Talbots skirt size and it fits well. It’s a good mid-knee length on 5’11” me, and the fit is slimming but not tight. The cutout does not show my bra strap but just FYI, the dress has little snappy things to hold your bra strap in place if needed.

    Overall a win!

    Today’s pick is not my cup of tea but I really appreciate the plus size picks Kat!!

  26. Montreal gift? :

    Hi, anyone familiar with Montreal? Friend is moving there and I want to get him a gift to help him explore the city.

    • A bike helmet! They have a great bike share program.

      • Senior Attorney :

        On on that note, how about a bike tour of the city with Fitz and Follwell? We did one on vacation a year or two ago and loved it.

  27. Thailand anniversary trip :

    My husband and I are starting to plan a trip to celebrate our 10-year anniversary, and we’ve heard great things about Thailand. We tend to be adventurous travelers, but we would love to spend some time lounging on a beach. So, we’re looking at Phuket. Has anyone been? It gets rave reviews on TripAdvisor, and a colleague of mine just got back from an amazing trip. They stayed in an AirBnB, which I’ve looked into, and there’s some amazing locations. Our biggest concern is the language barrier, because neither of us speak/read/understand anything in Thai. We know if we go to a touristy hotel, it won’t be an issue, but if we do the AirBnB-figure-it-out-ourselves route, will we be in trouble with the language issues?

    • Anonymous :

      The actual beaches in Phuket are pretty gross. They are filled with teenage and 20-something backpackers doing a lot of drugs and tend to be very crowded and dirty. Luxury resorts may have a small swath of private, unspoiled beach but just hanging around a resort isn’t really adventurous. I would highly recommend staying on Ko Phi Phi (which can be reached by ferry from Phuket) instead. I’ve also heard great thing lately about Ko Yao Noi, although I haven’t been.
      We don’t speak a word of Thai and had no problems using public transit everywhere and going a bit “off the beaten path” although we stayed in regular hotels not AirBNBs.

      • Thailand anniversary trip :

        Super helpful feedback, we definitely don’t want a party vibe. I was looking at some of the other islands as well, so that might be a better bet than Phuket.

      • Anonymous :

        I’ve been to Koh Phi Phi and stayed at the Holiday Inn resort. The beach near the town on Koh Phi Phi was not impressive, so I was glad we stayed at the other end of the island even if the resort was a little quiet. Have not been to the Phuket beaches, but agree they looked yucky. In Thailand you’re just not going to get the local experience, so embrace being a tourist. You’ll be fine speaking English.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      You’d be fine in Phuket, language-wise. I wouldn’t worry, really! My impression is the Phuket is pretty ~party~party~ so if that’s not what you’re looking for, you might want to consider other islands.

      We stayed on Koh Chang, at Rock Sands, and it was a-freakin-mazing. We had this little cottage-type-room and we walked down a set of stairs on the bluff to be at what was functionally a private beach (because the hotel’s lobby area jutted into the water so you couldn’t get to ‘our’ beach without walking through the hotel) with a little bar. It was a little bit of an adventure to get to the hotel itself: bus from Bangkok to a ferry to the island, then getting in the back of a pickup to get to the beach, and then we sort of had to scramble up some rocks to get to the hotel, but it’s all part of the fun. Man that beach was gorgeous.

      • Thailand anniversary trip :

        This sounds like just the type of adventure we’d be up for! Rock scrambles are my jam :) And if there’s hardly anyone else around because it’s not an easy trek, that would be perfect for my very introverted husband. I’ll have to look into that tonight, it sounds like it could be just the vacation spot for us!

        • Anonymous :

          If you like climbing, some of the islands including Koh Phi Phi are highly rated climbing destinations. You can definitely get a local guide to set up a climbing day trip.

        • Rainbow Hair :

          It’s really awesome! Just make sure you bring backpack/duffle type bags instead of rollers, for scrambling purposes!

          We arranged through the bar for some local dude to take us out on his boat to snorkel — very casual (like he was just wearing underwear?) but pretty awesome. He also boated us through some mangrove forests. There’s a short hike to a waterfall you can swim in! We ate awesome grilled fish at a restaurant on the sand. There was a little downtown type strip with bars of various levels of sleaze. There was a 7-11 within reasonable walking distance for all your sunscreen/bottled water needs. Aw I wish I could go back.

          • Thailand anniversary trip :

            Ha, “just wearing underwear”, oh man. Grilled fish and a waterfall sounds wonderful, you’re convincing me, Rainbow Hair :)

    • Anonymous :

      I stayed at the Hilton Phuket Arcadia — it was totally fine, especially if you have lounge access. I don’t think of Phuket as having been particularly adventurous. I enjoyed my time there but it was more of a partying city than I was looking for.

      I agree the beaches were just meh — actual trash, even compared to Florida beaches. We did a couple of them too, but maybe there were hidden spots we didn’t know about. Though I’ll dissent from the poster above and would not recommend staying on Ko Phi Phi, I do HIGHLY recommend a day trip (we did a speedboat) out there.

      We didn’t have any major language barrier issues in Thailand (I thought less than Tokyo and Vietnam if that gives you any point of reference!)

    • I spent two days in Patong last fall as a solo traveler and got some great advice here. Even though it’s a party vibe, as mentioned here (and when I asked for advice last year) I actually really enjoyed it for ease of navigation.
      Phuket is pretty touristy, including a lot of Australian tourists, so language was absolutely never a problem.

      No recommendations for Air bnb – I stayed in a super cheap little hotel which was about a half hour from the beach. It was clean, comfortable, and exactly what I needed. The street and night markets were interesting and fun to explore, and the beach was great. Maybe a bit crowded but beautiful and HOT (which is what I wanted!). I went to a Thai boxing event in the evening, which is not my usual scene but was really interesting.

      The whole visit felt safe and easy (in terms of language, food, etc).

      • Thailand anniversary trip :

        I’ll have to search for the thread from last year, thanks for the tips!

        • Would have been around last October, if that helps you to narrow it down. A lot of the advice was related to the passing of the King and the associated mourning period. I arrived just outside the end of the one-month mourning period so didn’t really notice any disruption.

          I had come from a business trip around China/Hong Kong and I wanted a quick stop in Thailand to relax. Honestly, I found the China/Hong Kong travel much more challenging – language/navigation, using chopsticks (I am really clumsy at it), and just because the food is different than I’m used to at home. Thai food in Thailand was much more similar to Thai food in Toronto (so more comfortable and familiar to me), and it was easier to navigate even as a single traveler.

          I was literally in the country for two days so I don’t have a lot of recommendations for which part of Thailand is best, but for a quick and easy and HOT holiday – I really, really enjoyed my short stay in Patong. I’m already talking to my husband about a proper trip there. I would love to hear what you choose and your experience!

          • Thailand anniversary trip :

            We’re also looking at other far-flung destinations, including Fiji, Tahiti, and Belize. Maybe New Zealand. Basically, we’ve decided we’re going to take a big, 2-week trip, so we might as well make the most of it. We haven’t taken an epic trip like this since our honeymoon, so it feels like we have a ton of choices. Thailand was toward the top of the list because acquaintances and a cursory review of the internet strangers said it would be a cool place. I will definitely give an update, no matter where we end up. We’re looking to travel next April/May (checking monsoon season in Thailand, I know late May starts to get rainy), so starting the research a bit early to weigh all the options.

          • Anonymous :

            May is HOT in Thailand. If you’re just doing beaches, you’ll be ok. But when we were there in May the heat index in Bangkok was over 120 (not uncommon from what I understand) and I got heat exhaustion walking around trying to visit temples. We went almost 10 years ago and my husband still complains about “the worst vacation ever,” mostly because of the heat (he also got ill while we were there, which might be something else to consider for an anniversary trip – Tahiti and NZ definitely have much less risk of someone coming down with a stomach illness).

  28. Most people, upon first meeting me, assume I am much younger and therefore less experienced. I do not use slang. I speak in a measured tone. I aim for good posture, and I have been told that I do indeed have “presence.” My hair is a natural dark brown, mid-length bob. I dress conservatively in quality, well-tailored, mid-market brands (a lot of Nordstrom packages come to my house). My nails are buffed or a ballet pink. My makeup is subtle and tonally brown or pink. And yet, very often, people are surprised to learn that I am 35 and I’ve been a lawyer for 11 years — each fact independently surprises people, and they are especially surprised to learn of them together. [I finished college early, went straight to law school, and have been working as a lawyer since.] Aside from coloring my hair gray [undesired maintenance] or giving up sunscreen [undesired melanoma risk], are there any recommendations on ways to “age up” or otherwise add more gravitas to my first impression?

    • First: is this assumption actually causing any problems for you (beyond a momentary annoyance at having to correct the assumption one way or another)? I suspect most potential “fixes” would cause more problems than they solve. The one thing I can think of would be to try to be a bit more “yourself”, if that applies to you. What I mean is, the way you describe yourself, you sound like you’re going down a checklist of the most perfect, neutral, conservative choices you can make. And if that’s reflective of your personality and your deepest desires, then great! But if you’re making those choices to conform to expectations or project a certain image, you may actually come across as older or more experienced by loosening up a little. I don’t mean, like, start wearing jeans to work. But if there’s something you’d love to change, but don’t dare, then maybe try it! A big necklace, or funky shoes, or maroon nails, or laughing a little louder, whatever. Because as folks get older and more experienced, there’s a tendency to get more comfortable in your skin and start to selectively reject a few of the “guidelines”. And that attitude/look may help you project your actual level of experience.

    • Flats Only :

      More makeup. Aim less for “subtle” and more for “polished” so you look like you are wearing makeup, vs just looking like a lovely version of your natural self. Dark lipstick – not bright red, but a darker, less natural tone.

    • I also wonder why specifically this is a problem? Are people treating you with disrespect because of your age? Or are they just surprised because you look younger than you are? If you just don’t like people being surprised about it, I would honestly just try to stop worrying about it.

      • Sigh. I don’t mind at all outside of the office. It is trying to win new business from total strangers that makes the reaction so frustrating. I feel like I have to spend more time explaining my experience in my specialty than someone who walks in and looks older, even when they have less experience in my area. It is not a lack of confidence, and despite the snide humblebrag comment, my ask to the group was genuinely from a desire to connect with others who may have shared this experience or have advice about it. I have read so much and attempted to implement so much advice on this, and I can say without a doubt that it is better… But I still feel like I am fighting that first 3 second impression to win business as a seasoned attorney. I hate the “oh, I didn’t realize you had been practicing for that long” or worse, “oh, I thought you were just out of school.” People who know me or know my reputation – no problem. It’s the people I don’t know and whatever it is about my first impression that I am really trying to figure out how to tweak. Glasses and make up are going on the list! A colleague at another firm suggested louder/bigger jewelry too. Thanks for the constructive feedback.

    • Glasses!

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I hope this comes across the right way, but I think you should look for ways to take pride in the things that are special about yourself, not the things that are unobjectionable. It sounds like you do a great job hitting the sort of neutral, conventional, blending-in look for work, but what is it inside you that makes you special? Do you love art? Do you do roller derby on the weekends? Do you geek out to 80s movies with a hilarious group of girlfriends? Do you plan fun science experiments to do with your toddler? Are you learning flute and not quitting even when it’s frustrating? What are those personal things that make you think, to yourself, “yeah, I’m pretty awesome.” I think that just knowing and appreciating that there is something really valuable inside of you, completely apart from anyone else’s thoughts on it, lends you a sort of from-the-inside-out confidence, rather than a from-the-outside-in confidence.

    • Comments like this always come across as humblebrags to me.

    • Anonymous :

      You sound very immature based on this post. Maybe that is the problem.

  29. KateMiddletown :

    I have my first acupuncture appointment this afternoon. What should I expect? How should I prepare? I’m super excited but also a teensy bit nervous. (My chiropractor is doing it and she did a sample needle at my last appointment which bled just a smidge after removal.)

    • You will be fine! It is not too bad! I had it done weekly for a few months to get a handle on migraines and allergy issues. Most times, the needles would be completely painless after insertion. It would be like a little snap of a rubberband during insertion. Occasionally one (mostly in my wrist areas, for some reason) would give me a dull ache during the process – but definitely not a sharp pain like being stabbed. After all the needles were in, the acupuncturist would leave the room and I would zone out while lying on my back on the table. I think it was around 30-40 minutes. Once I fell asleep. I would ask him to crack a window and listen to the birds outside. I was really terrified at first (I hate the unknown) but grew to look forward to the chance to just lay and think of nothing. Good luck!

  30. So here is a question for the more adventurous dressers here: Are we still doing tights with peep-toe shoes? I ordered a pair of shoes (link to follow) that look almost like lace-up, heeled oxfords, but with the toe cut off. I like them more than I thought I would and they are pretty comfortable for heels, which I almost can’t wear anymore. They are black, and I thought that maybe textured black tights would look okay – not too much contrast, but a bit of deliberateness, so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to hide the fact that they are peep toes.

    The shoes are Bella Vita Lilo Lace-Up Peep Toe Bootie – Nordstrom has them.

    My office is casual to a fault – nobody cares what anybody wears, so at the most people would probably think I was being terribly avant-garde.

    • Link to shoes:


    • I am adventurous dresser (not afraid of bold colours and unconventional combinations), but I do not (intentionally) wear tights in open-toe shoes. It is a personal preference, I do not like it on myself. But I would not judge it on someone else.
      Why don’t you try the new look once, see how it feels and the decide? ;)

    • Those are pretty cute! I have never liked the look of a peep toe boot until now.

      If it were me, I would probably go with a contrasting color rather than a matching one. Just to make it super clear that I am not trying to match. But then, it it were me, I probably wouldn’t wear them with tights either because isn’t the point of a peep toe to let your toes peep? I don’t know, I find this style of footwear confusing.

    • I would not. Those are meant to be summer shoes. The perforations, the warm tan color. Bare legs or bust.

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