Gift Idea and Open Thread: The Best Books for Gifts

The Stone Sky caught my eye after the NYT reviewed the series of which it’s a part (the Broken Earth trilogy) as the “fantasy trilogy that changed the game,” not in the least because the female author, N.K. Jemisin, became the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for best novel. I’m excited to read this book myself, and as my husband is very into fantasy novels, I’m going to give this to him this year. I’d love to hear from the readers, too: What books are you gifting to people this year?

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  1. Anonymous :

    Astrophysics for people in a hurry – Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Elon Musk’s autobiography – Ashlee Vance

  2. I'm sorry you're not feeling well but please stay home please :

    Dear service worker who came to my house today. Thank you for coming to work with the flu. It was a delight having you spend hours in my home coughing on every single surface, touching everything and throwing up outside my front door. I spent a precious day off to have you here. I have an immune system challenge that has made me my time off in sick days this year (and last). I get everything and it takes me forever to shake something. My birthday this week and Christmas break will be the only real vacation I have had for two years. Wonderful getting to spend the time before this important period in our house with you touching and breathing on everything for hours because you wouldn’t take a day off–now I get to risk my precious days off. I would rather have not had our wifi sped up. Truly. UGH.

    • Anonymous :

      Sometimes best to think before writing lest you come off as Marie Antionette. Surely you are aware not everyone has the luxury of sick days?

      • Amen.

      • Anonymous :

        +1 million. Plus, if this person is working in your home, you can always ask them to leave and return another time (and pay whatever service fee Comcast or whoever their employer is charges for having their technician have to come back at a later date). This isn’t an office where your officemates can come to work sick and you can’t do anything about it.

      • Flats Only :

        DH is that type of service worker. Know that they are allowed to “call in sick” (have an unscheduled absence) exactly twice per year before their employer will take disciplinary action, up to and including firing them. He probably thought he could tough it out. Sounds like it’s time for you to hire a cleaner or get our your face mask, gloves and lysol wipes out and do some cleaning before you get sick.

    • Potential addendum addressed to service worker’s company-
      Please have a sufficient paid sick leave policy so that your employee does not have to spend hours in OP’s home coughing on every single surface, touching everything and throwing up outside her front door.

    • Anonymous :

      I’m sure it’s quite frustrating to have a sick person in your house when you have immune issues but at a certain point you have to understand that (1) many, many people do not have sick days and (2) you have to take responsibility for your own health – ask them to leave/wear a mask etc.

    • Linda from HR :

      I’m tempted to remind people on social media that with next week being Christmas, and a lot of people visiting elderly relatives or possibly spending time with newborns, coming down with an illness right before that can seriously derail someone’s holiday, so if you’re sick, please stay home as best you can.

      But, OP, I will remind you that your housekeeper may not have had that luxury, perhaps she didn’t have paid sick time and couldn’t afford to miss a day, or was afraid that she’d get fired if she called out. It would have been best, in this case, to ask her to leave.

      • I'm sorry you're not feeling well but please stay home please :

        Not a housekeeper. Someone the cable company sent to speed up the wifi that wasn’t set up properly the first time. I do recognize that not everybody gets sick days. But I also don’t have a choice to not be in my own home. And, no, I’m not going to call the guy’s employer or call it off–I don’t want him to have any sort of a bad consequence.

        But I also don’t think it’s fair that I just spent 20 min. cleaning up someone’s puke who I don’t even know. I would take a million sick coworkers over someone in my home and having to do that. Blech.

    • If this happens again I think it’s 100% fine to let them know of your immune issues and ask them to leave. If you can pay them anyway, that’s even better.

    • Dealtwiththis :

      I can’t believe how everyone reacted to her. I think she has a legitimate concern with someone bringing germs into her home while she has immune issues.

      • Sure. But the solution is to ask the person to leave, not post an out-of-touch rant on the internet.

      • Anonymous :

        So tell them not to come in? It’s not like they burglarized her home. She had a choice. If I saw a cable company employee throw up, I would ask them to come back when they’re not ill.

      • People are taking issue with the fact that she directed her anger and concern at the individual person, while it may have been a choice for him between going to work and losing his job. Does she think this guy is happy about having to drive around doing house calls for people’s internet while he’s ill? There was not an iota of sympathy for anyone other than herself in her comment, right down to the dramatic ending of noting that she wishes she’d never sped her wifi up at all!

        • Mineallmine :

          +10000 I’m feeling sorry for myself at the moment because I’m expected to work even though I’m suffering excruciating back pain right now. However, I have the luxury of working from home, unlike the sick cable worker.

        • lawsuited :

          + 1 As between the OP and the worker, the worker is definitely worse off.

  3. Kat, FYI – this isn’t the first book in the series. You need to read The Fifth Season first or this won’t make sense.

    • And I loved all three books.

      • I found the first book really tough to get thru on account of the (I don’t think this is a spoiler but if you really want to go in blind….) dead child and all that. But maybe I’m more sensitive to that at this point in my life. Just an FYI if someone is looking for a ‘fun’ read, I didn’t think this was it.

      • I have only read the first one, but I loved it. I also LOVED The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms…to the point of obsession.

        • Workingonit :

          Me too! I have read everything of hers I can get my hands on. She’s an amazing writer. I am so glad to see her represented on a blog.

  4. Too old to intern? :

    Are you ever too old or maybe for lack of a better word “too advanced” to be an intern? I’m considering asking for an internship at a non-profit research organisation that works in a field I would like to break into–I’m not working at the moment so I thought of this partly to use the free time I have constructively before I get something else. The organisation does offer internships to undergraduates and graduate students but since I’m no longer a student I wonder if they might say no outright. That said I still plan on approaching them and explaining what my interests are–I was planning on sending an email to request an appointment with the relevant contact person there.And ideally if I they agreed I would do it for 6 months–have some savings from previous job. I’m just not sure how to word the email. Has anyone on the forum done anything like this?

    • Rainbow Hair :

      I think it’s difficult, legally, to have someone work for you if you aren’t paying them or giving them class credits/something similar.

      On the other hand, I did what amounted to an internship at my current job before they took me on as an employee. I worked here for two months, a year before the position opened up, to suss out whether it was a good match. Even if it hadn’t worked out here, it would’ve been a foot in the door for this kind of work. But… they paid me.

      • Anonymous :

        Rainbow Hair’s point might not be clear: in the United States, it is UNLAWFUL to work for free, unless you can figure out how to couch your employment as “volunteering.”

      • Too old to intern? :

        OP here: they do pay interns at this organisation

      • blueberries :

        OP mentioned that it’s a non-profit organization. As far as I’m aware, the restrictions on accepting free interns don’t apply to non-profits, which are typically permitted to have volunteers.

    • Mary Ann Singleton :

      I have no advice but this reminds of that friends episode where Chandler has a career change and does an internship together with a bunch of kids (for lack of a better word) in advertising.

  5. Wanderlust :

    the Atlas Obscura book is an awesome gift

    • Anony Mouse :

      +1 I received it last year and it’s great.

      If your gift recipient likes travel, here are a few coffee table book suggestions:
      Made in North Korea: Graphics From Everyday Life in the DPRK, Nick Bonner
      Soviet Bus Stops, Christopher Herwig
      Atlas of Remote Islands: Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will, Judith Schalansky

      • Not a coffee table book, but along these same lines: Made in Russia: Unsung Icons of Soviet Design

  6. Anonymous :

    The only books I’m giving this year are for kids: Rosie Revere Engineer, Interstellar Cinderella, and The Most Magnificent Thing for a preschooler, and Silly Tails and Peek-a-boo Forest for a baby.

    Buying books for adults is harder because everyone has different tastes. I know a lot of people like NK Jemisin, but I find her stuff to be rather boring – too much world building for my taste. I get tired of waiting for stuff to happen.

    • Anonymous :

      Highly recommend Ada Twist Scientist as well. By the same author at Rosie Revere Engineer.

    • Linda from HR :

      Fiction is tough, but if you have an idea of what someone is into, or what celebrities they like, it’s not hard to find nonfiction books they’d probably dig.

  7. how to help a friend? :

    A friend is a ghostwriter and is looking for feedback from friends in terms of finding new clients who either want to contract her or use her periodically for situations when someone just does not have time to do the writing. Any suggestions/recommendations? Is there something you look for or a website you use to find these? (I thought posting here might be good since there are many career professionals here and since it’d be women supporting women.) Thanks!

    • She should ask her current clients to recommend her to their friends and business contacts if they ever need someone. When I used to freelance, this was far and away the best method to get new clients.

    • S in Chicago :

      She should participate in and other freelance sites if she isn’t already.

  8. suddenly wishing I wasn't single :

    Sick and placed on vocal rest. I’ve never wanted to be in a relationship so much before. I just want someone to love on me and not judge me for watching garbage tv and eating foods that make my throat feel better. Why isn’t there a company where I can hire a mom or grandma to show up and do this for me?!

    • Anonymous :

      I go through the same thing every time I get a cold. Then I remember all those times my exes disappointed me when I was sick. Like, getting huffy about picking up medicine, whining about fixing dinner – “but you’ve been home all day!” – and then fixing something that I couldn’t eat, or just flat out ignoring me – “see you when you’re better!” – like I’m just a hookup not someone you’ve been dating for a year. I’m grateful I don’t have to deal with that frustration.

      • Linda from HR :

        Wait, they whine about having to fix dinner when you’re sick? Do they want a sick person making their food?

      • Mineallmine :

        Oh yes, a million times this. I’m so much happier being sick/injured on my own than I ever was when I was in a relationship or married. At least no one is complaining at me for me being unable to perform whatever GF/wife duty or pay attention to them.

    • This might not help, but a major point of contention in my marriage is that DH is resentful and moody and generally treats me like cr*p when I’m sick. I’ve called him on it, and last time he was a bit nicer, but he doesn’t really take care of me. And…DH had the stomach flu all week. I took care of the house and our toddler, and I really didn’t have much time or energy leftover for DH. I did my best, but he didn’t really get coddled either.

      I like your “rent a mom/grandma” idea. DH’s parents and step-parents all live in town, but they were worried about him being contagious and stayed away. That’s understandable because the holidays are coming up and they’re expecting a new grandchild any day now, but I still had some uncharitable thoughts this weekend.

      • Anonymous :

        My now-ex’s total failure to support me during a medical crisis precipitated the end of our marriage. True story.

        And by “fail to support” I mean “prevented me from accessing crucial follow-up care because reasons.” It could be worse than to be single.

    • Anonymous :

      When I’m sick I wish I were single so everyone would leave me alone, not judge me for watching garbage tv and eating foods that make my throat feel better, and stop expecting me to take care of them.


      A tired wife and mother

    • I’m right there with you. I’m a 38 year old grown *ss professional woman, and last week when I had the flu I felt lonelier than I ever have, almost to the point that I took my mom up on the offer to get on a 10+ hour international flight to come look after me. I also worried about dying alone in my sleep as I was having trouble breathing. And my on/off again ex of 8 years who likes to hang out for fun times only went silent as soon as he heard I was sick, just reinforcing how lonely I felt. If I could have rented a grandma for the week I would have!

    • I came down with the flu while on a work trip. I was staying at a way nicer hotel than I would have if I had been traveling on my own dime. I was too sick to go into the office or leave the hotel room at all. If I have to have the flu again, I want it to be somewhere with room service, a million TV channels, and daily housekeeping.

    • TO Lawyer :

      Late for this but yep – I feel this every time I’m sick. I compensate by buying myself all the drugs, ordering in thai food and letting myself watch the trashiest of tv…

  9. Puddlejumper :

    Anyone else binge watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel?

  10. Travel bags :

    I know this has been discussed on here but I can’t find the thread. What are everyone’s favorite lightweight travel tires? I’m imagining a huge black nylon tote with a top zipper, bonus points if it has the strap to fit over my carry on suitcase’s handle and/or has straps long enough to fit over my shoulder. I’m thinking similar to the Longchamp XL tote, but wondering if there’s a better option. Thanks!

  11. TTC and Alcohol Consumption :

    For those TTC or who have been pregnant and normally consume some level of alcohol, curious how you dealt with alcohol consumption while TTC. Did you stop drinking completely, stop drinking mid-cycle, keep consumption light, or “drink til it was pink”?

    I know this is a personal choice, people have different levels of comfort, and any decisions should be made with doctors’ advice in mind, but just curious how others have handled.

    • Stopped drinking because alcohol can affect your fertility. However I would have one glass of something during the week of my period.

    • I didn’t drink during the second half of my cycle. I don’t think this is medically necessary (for the first few weeks the embryo feeds through a yolk, not the umbilical cord). I’m more of a desert girl than a cocktail lover so it was easier for me to give up drinking than it would have been to think about when/what /how much was safe.

    • Anonymous :

      There is no reason to refrain from alcohol while trying to get pregnant so I didn’t.

    • I continued drinking (about 1 serving per night, never more) until I tested positive.

      • ^ same. I got pregnant very quickly though. If I had been having trouble getting pregnant, I would have cut it out.

      • Anonattorney :

        I did not drink the first 6 months of TTC in the second half of my cycle. Drank normal amounts during my period. After 6 months of no success, I decided to take a break from the self-policing and just live my life. I was pregnant by month 8, when I drank up to the positive pregnancy test. I’m not saying there’s any connection between the two, and my doc would even say there’s no connection between relaxing and getting pregnant. But it really sucks to TTC for months with no results, and enjoying the handful of things that you can’t do while pregnant was one of my little f*** you’s to the whole process.

    • Anonymous :

      Avoided ‘binge drinking’ to increase my chances of getting pregnant. So less than 7 drinks a week and not more than 3 at a time, I think?

    • Anonymous :

      Ironically, I’m a very light drinker who drinks only once or twice a year, but it happens that I went to a party (very) shortly after we began TTC and had a couple glasses of Prosecco. I just figured there was no way I’d be pregnant right away. Lo and behold, two weeks later I found out I was pregnant. I did mention it to the doctor, and she assured me that at that stage you’re not sharing a blood supply with the baby and it doesn’t matter.

    • Anonymous :

      So, I’m not a huge drinker anymore, but this is what I did. I probably had 1-2 drinks a week. I just continued that until I got a positive pregnancy test. I had a moscow mule the night before I got a positive pregnancy test. I did not drink during pregnancy though except for one glass of wine on a night I was stressed out (which is really rare for me to say “i need a drink!”). I know the jury is out on drinking and pregnancy, but I didn’t think abstaining for pregnancy was that big of a sacrifice.

    • Spent several years TTC due to fertility issues. I went back and forth between not drinking during the second half of the month and just saying f– it. If I was continuing to drink, I’d usually take an early pregnancy test just to be on the safe side. I also definitely wouldn’t binge drink.

    • I drank until a positive test. And even put off taking a test for a day because I was hosting a party and didn’t want to feel bad about having a drink. Once I knew, then I stopped until late in the pregnancy. Around 8 months I started having an occasional glass of wine again.

    • I drank until I had a positive test. In fact, we were given tickets to two separate wine dinners on the two nights (Tuesday and Wednesday) before I found out I was pregnant (Thursday). I drank the full servings at each wine dinner, which would probably qualify as binge-drinking. I thought I was hungover Thursday because I felt like cr*p, but then I went home from work and ate a bunch of weird stuff and realized I should probably take a pregnancy test. That was about 10 days after ovulation. And then I had to fly to my brother-in-law’s wedding the next day, and our entire family figured out I was pregnant before the rehearsal dinner even started because I wasn’t drinking (in the airport, at the bar Friday night, setting up for the wedding Saturday morning, at the pre-rehearsal-dinner champagne toast…our family drinks a lot).

      • Similar. I drank until I had a positive test. We had an great weekend in Napa wine tasting with my in-laws and on Monday I felt super hungover and confused because I didn’t think I’d gone that hard. Tested positive on Tuesday, attended a huge beer festival as a work event on Wednesday and all my coworkers figured it out.

    • I drank a whole bottle of champagne almost by myself (split with hubby but I definitely took the lions share) the night before I discovered I was pregnant with my “whoops” son. I cried to my OB about it. She held my hand and said, “a whole bottle of champagne is now most babies are conceived.”

      For what it’s worth, he’s easily my smartest kid, so it seems to have worked out OK.

    • I am TTC and I haven’t changed a lot about my drinking habits, though I am a pretty light drinker anyway. I am starting to reconsider some of my choices now that it has been quite a while without success… I hadn’t heard that light drinking affected fertility, but if it does I may give it up. My bigger challenge is trying to limit my caffeine, as I have read that can decrease fertility.

    • Mrs. Jones :

      I drank till I got a positive PG test.

    • I drank as normal until I found out and then still had an occasional small glass of wine or beer. From all I’ve read the effect on your fertility, if any, is still up in the air and the effect of stress is also something to consider. It took us a while to get pregnant the first time and it would have been way more stressful if I was restricting my normal life this way. My doctor was a-ok with all this.

    • Anonymous :

      My husband and I had trouble TTC due to diminished ovarian reserve. My reproductive endocrinologist advised giving up booze entirely while we were TTC to increase egg quality/our chances of conceiving. She also advised that I cut back on high-intensity exercise. I did both of those things, and conceived the next month! While it could be just coincidence, I did track my cycle consistently and it changed pretty significantly during that month where I wasn’t drinking or running. Hard to give up two things I love, but worth it to finally get pregnant!

    • We were never in an extreme rush to get pregnant- it took 5 months the first time and 7 the second time, and I’d just reached the point the second time where I was going to eat better/exercise more/stop drinking when I tested positive. I drank normally, which is to say moderately (enough to be buzzed, never really enough to feel lousy the next day, a glass of wine or two some weekday evenings).

      The third time…we’d just decided to try and I was shocked to find out I was pregnant after the first month. I didn’t even test until I was almost 2 weeks late because my period had been so irregular. I’d been drinking up until I got that positive test and the OB assured me it was fine, there’s no blood connection for a few weeks after conception. She even showed me charts and pictures to make me feel better ;)

  12. Anonymous :

    I’ve reached the point in pregnancy (7 months fwiw) where the top of my belly is right up under my chest and my underwire is digging into my skin really uncomfortably. What’s the solution for this? Non-underwire bra? Buying a bra with a bigger band number? I’m not sure that’s the right plan because I don’t need a bigger bra for my boobs, it’s just that the part of my chest right at the bottom of the bra/top of the belly that is expanding (and will continue to, I assume…)

    • Anonymous :

      Your rib cage can expand during pregnancy – try going up a band size or switching to a non-underwire.

    • Yes, get a few cheap cotton-y non-underwire nursing bras. You likely don’t need as much support now anyway since you’re probably not jumping and bouncing around too much. And they’ll be good to have on hand when the baby is born. They might not fit perfectly since everything changes size, but it can get you through the first week or so until things settle down and you can buy a nursing bra that properly fits your new size. Target/Walmart/Amazon can all be good sources.

    • maternity question :

      Yeah sounds like it’s the band size that is too small and you want to go up a size while not changing the cup size

    • Anonymous :

      Oh my god I’ve been there. So around 8 months I stopped wearing underwire all together. Although I’m sort of on the taller side (5’8″), due to my body shape, I felt completely squished all of pregnancy. Baby was right under my boobs until she dropped 2 weeks prior to delivery. i was so uncomfortable sitting down at work with underwire. I just started wearing nursing bras, and was so much more comfortable.

    • You can buy a band extender on amazon and see if it helps. Actually I think the nursing bras I ordered on amazon came with that so you can maybe kill 2 birds with one stone. It will get better when baby drops but then other parts will hurt …

      • Anonattorney :

        Band extender!

  13. Gift help! :

    My 10 year old nephew can’t tell me anything he wants for Christmas. I got him a bunch of clothes and were going shopping for less fortunate kids, so he can pick out toys to give to other kids. I’d still like to get him something fun though. Any and all suggestions welcome!!

    • Something like a Smithsonian toy kit? I saw one at Target to make your own lava lamp, which is kind of kitschy and cool (maybe), and also interactive.

    • K’Nex? I had cousins around that age who really liked building things from the Knex kits. I think a roller coaster kit was particularly popular. Or a complicated lego kit? There are some new Star Wars ones out if you likes Star Wars.

    • anonshmanon :

      How marvelous is it that there is a 10 year old in this day and age that doesn’t have a long list of stuff they demand for Christmas?

      • I roll my eyes every time I see a “kids these days” kind of comment. Every generation from the beginning of time has complained about the younger ones and will continue to forever. But if it makes you feel better about yourself, go for it, I guess.

        • Lol. My first reaction was, “Maybe it’s a spoiled 10-year-old who doesn’t have to wait for Christmas to get whatever he wants.” The hardest kid in my circle to buy for is the daughter of a multi-millionaire who has two older brothers, so lots of toys in the house already, and whose dad buys her whatever she wants year-round.

        • Anonshmanon :

          For what it’s worth, I didn’t mean it that way. I’ve been trying to reduce my own clutter, because it stresses me out. So I was viewing this in the light of “we all have enough and don’t really need anything”, which I applauded, and which is more seldomly found in kids. You’re right though, it could have all other kinds of reasons, too.

    • Anonymous :

      My nephew is the same age and he still likes Legos, Nerf guns, and he wants a drone or a remote-control helicopter.

    • Anonattorney :

      Programmable robots. Check out the LEGO Boost robot, or the UBTech Jumi Robot. They teach kids coding through apps, so you can both build and program the robot. Looks pretty cool to me.

  14. Underutilized TOTE bags :

    I just bought a beach bag for my vacay to Aruba coming up and realized I have way too many canvas tote bags (the very simple ones which are cute) but I don’t use enough and still keep buying more bags! My resolution is to buy and consume less going to next year, any thoughts/ ideas I am missing??

    • Always ask yourself- if I didn’t have time to buy something, how would I get by? And if you are able to get by…then don’t buy it.

      Make the rule “One thing in, one thing out”

      Join a Buy Nothing group on FB. I never ever throw anything out anymore. I just post if someone wants it – from bubble wrap, to horrible gifted candles to extra groceries – someone always finds what you no longer want useful.

      Ask yourself – if you took that money and donated it towards an organization – what impact would that have? I often think about how my 4 dollar drink at the coffee shop could buy 2 mosquito nets which are the most effective means of preventing malaria, specifically a long-lasting insecticide treated net (LLIN). Each net lasts for 3-4 years, and protects, on average, two people.

    • Use some of the bags as grocery and other bags? I keep a bunch in my car. I even take my own bags to malls.

    • Oooh, I’ll play. I just cleaned out the storage closet and took 7 years worth of accumulated plastic bags to the grocery store to recycle. It was sadly a comical amount of bags. I then recycled (properly by removing non-recyclable handles) the paper Ann Taylor/JCrew/BR/etc/etc bags and excess grocery store paper bags that I always save, which basically filled half my wheelie recycling bin).

      For the reusables: I went through and got rid of bags that weren’t at least in very good condition. Some that were dirty could be washed. I donated a few totes with structure but which I just won’t use (think like Estee Lauder GWP totes). I put a bunch of reusable bags in my car in varying sizes, including the freezer/cold item bags for groceries. I scattered the baggu-style bags that fold into their own pocket into the purses I’m most likely to be carrying when I pop in somewhere and don’t have a bag on me. I give away some of my clean/mostly unused bags, like if I’m bringing snacks to a friend with a newborn, I’ll give them the bag and all. I use some of my larger canvas bags that are washable as a gym bag if I’m not carrying much equipment and don’t plan to shower – I have a great gym bag but sometimes I just don’t want to lug it around. I also love using bags like this for dirty shoes, if I’m going hiking or to the lake or something, I’ll put the dirty shoes or sandy clothes in a canvas bag I can wash later. The ones I didn’t know what to do with, I collapsed and shoved into a bag and stuck back in the closet (but hey, at least they’re all neat now!).

      I think though the biggest change I’ve made in the last year is this: even if I forget to drag bags into the store (or I don’t bring enough in with me), I’ve found if you advocate for no bags, even at Target or the grocery store where they desperately want to bag all your items, they’ll leave it loose and you can bag it once you get out to your car.

  15. Anonymous :

    I’d like to invest in a few pieces of jewelry to wear every day, a nice right hand ring in particular. I’ve reached an executive level within my firm (consulting), and generally like looking put together.

    The complication is that I work with clients on a daily basis, who kind of range anywhere from line level managers to c-suite. I feel like outwardly expensive items can read too city slicker to the line managers, and ‘we’re paying our consultants too much’ to the c-suite.

    Anyone else with this issue have good recommendations on how to manage this?

    • I guess I don’t see it as a big deal? Maybe if you were talking a 4 carat diamond, but assuming you are talking daytime-appropriate daily jewelry, I think whatever you like is fine.

    • Wear a flat band with a bunch of stones and not one big one and no one will notice a thing.

    • Flats Only :

      I don’t think you should worry about it unless it’s an obviously designer item. If I see an interesting right hand ring I generally can’t tell if it’s real or not, or custom or not, so I can’t judge you on it. But I would notice a huge armload of David Yurman bracelets, or a different Hermes scarf every time I saw you. Or a really expensive logo designer bag. That type of display would make me wonder why I was paying my consultants so much.

  16. paging catsocks :

    Wondering where in Ohio you are or if you have an email you’d share; wondering if we are near each other and would love to meet a local ‘retter!

  17. anonymous :

    Recs for a primary care doctor in DC? I’d prefer somewhere walkable from Dupont Circle, and a woman doctor.

    • Yes! Mary Beth Adler with capital medical associates. I think she is NP but has her phd and just is delightful. She is kind patient and attentive. I truly loved seeing her – it was my favorite doctor relationship. Only stopped because I moved out of D.C. And there is a dog at the office!

    • I’ve used MedicsUSA – their Falls Church location, not Dupont – as my PCP with Aetna and United. They’re an urgent care place that you can designate as your PCP. They take walk-ins, they’re open nights and weekends, and it’s always easy to get in to see them in day or so, if not same day.

    • Anonymous :

      I love love love being a OneMedical member (same day appointments! that start on time! feels like a spa! doctors who really listen to you!) and you can pick a PCP through them after reading bios.

  18. Potluck Yeas and Nays :

    Shoutout to the coworker who brought a box of Williams-Sonoma peppermint bark to the office potluck. You win for no stress with high appreciation.
    Boo to the 3 coworkers who brought unlabeled crock pots containing unidentifiable stew/chili/?? and then got offended when anyone asked what was in them.

  19. Rude Relatives :

    Speaking of TTC… I’m dreading the holidays because I’m expecting at least several insensitive comments along the lines of “are you EVER going to have a baby?” and “if you don’t hurry up [younger sister] is going to have the first grandkid” and “the clock is ticking!” I’ve been getting these comments at nearly every family event for the past year (since I turned 30). It didn’t use to bother me, but I’ve been TTC for 9 months without success and lately it feels like adding insult to injury. I haven’t told anyone I’m TTC so I’m not sure how to deal with the comments other than just trying to change the subject.

    I’m sure many others have been in this position. How did you deal with it? Or how would you?

    • There are a few approaches:
      1) directly tell them to stop asking. – “This is an extremely personal topic. Please don’t ask me.” “I would really appreciate if you stopped asking me.”

      2) Rude back at them (which they might deserve if they keep asking)- “When did you get the ol’ snip snip?” “Want to watch us practice?”

      3) Just change topics.

    • Rainbow Hair :

      Burst into tears at them?

      Ugh I’m sorry, that’s so rude and upsetting.

      I do think a cocked eyebrow and “really?” can say a lot.

      • My hormones are a wreck off the pill, and I absolutely burst into tears the first time a friend of the family put me on the spot. I don’t recommend this approach, but it definitely made her back off!

    • Anonymous :

      ‘Why are you so curious about my sex life?’

    • The most amazing response I ever witnessed: the office busybody asked a colleague of mine why she hadn’t had kids yet, and my colleague said, somewhat stonily, “Well, what are all the reasons you can think of why I might not have children?” The busybody started off with, “Oh, I don’t know, maybe you’re just not sure if you’re ready, or…” but then quickly trailed off, blushed, and said something about, “Well you’d be a good mother,” before scuttling away.

      That or just shouting “Not for lack of trying!!” and making crude gestures.

      • This is the best response ever!! I love answering the question with a question.

      • This happens to me all the time, but they ALSO ask why such a pretty girl like me isn’t already MARRIED! I tell them that I want a guy who is good to me, not just have a guy to have a guy, as the one’s I meet do NOT want to do more then have sex with me, but they do NOT want to marry me. Dad says I should NOT be so picky, but I can’t help it. I did NOT go to law school and become duly admitted in NYS just to get married to a schlub who just wants me to have s-x with them all night. I am more then a s-xeual vessel for these guys. FOOEY!

    • Anonymous :

      Ugh, I’m sorry. If you’re willing to hint that you’re trying, I think you can just icily say “I don’t know why you assume we’re not working on it.” or something like that. Otherwise, “Why do you ask?” is always a good response to rude personal questions.

    • I dealt with this for several years and it was so hard/frustrating. My go-to answer was “I don’t know how to answer that” and then change the subject or even just walk away.

    • I think icy silence says a lot. I dealt with this (like you, while trying) by just putting on my best cold hearted-bee face and refusing to engage or act in anyway like I was okay or found the comments amusing.

    • I only have commiseration for you. I once had DH tell the in-laws in a private moment “this question can be very hurtful if a couple has been trying and it’s not happening”, but all that did is it got them defensive and they insisted that they must have been misunderstood because obviously they never ask anything like that!

    • We were married for 7 years before having kids, so we got that question a lot. At some point we got good at answering “We’re just having fun practicing!” with a smile and a subject change.

      If I was in a crappy mood, then I would occasionally say “I don’t know! I thought you just held hands and prayed to God, but we’ve been married 4 years and it doesn’t seem to be working!” Because I enjoyed watching the internal struggles with busybodies trying to decide if they should say something just in case I was serious.

  20. Mini-celebration ideas :

    DH got a mini-promotion so I want to do a mini “celebrate the small victories.” I was thinking of champagne and strawberries at home. Or maybe get a small wheel of Brie (his favorite) and bake it. Perhaps a banner saying congratulations (reusable) at home. We go out to eat very frequently so it doesn’t feel quite as much like a celebration for him.

    I would love to hear about everyone’s small life moments celebration ideas? Did you come up with a great idea once that somehow turned into a tradition?

    FYIW- I don’t want to spend a lot of money and am trying to consume/waste less so don’t want to buy balloons, confetti etc. that would only last one night (see above regarding re-useable banner).

    • Puddlejumper :

      Your ideas sound great! I love the red plate tradition and plan on doing it with my children in the future. Probably won’t use the famous red plate but will find another special plate and its an easy way to show them that you are proud.

      What about putting together a cheesy celebration play list quick that you could play while cleaning up for dinner?

      You might like getting this book from the library: The Book of New Family Traditions: How to Create Great Rituals for Holidays and Every Day It has a lot of awesome ideas Another great book is: How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach

      • Mini-celebration ideas :

        Loved these suggestions… got online and bought a special plate. Hoping it arrives before Friday but even if it doesn’t, I’m excited to start a new tradition with it

        Thanks for sharing!

    • Anonymous :

      Go for mini bottles of champagne! I always have my fridge stocked with a few just in case I need to have a mini celebration

      • Mini-celebration ideas :

        Yes to this! I never thought about this but will be good for portion control too

    • Depends on his line of work, but you could get him some token to commemorate the occasion, like a tie or even fun socks. Or bring home his favorite dessert?

    • If you have a large TV, you can probably put on an electronic congratulations banner or something like that. We just turned a drab conference room into a nice farewell for a coworker with a fireplace video from youtube on the big screen.

  21. Anonymous :

    I gave Michael Twitty’s The Cooking Gene

  22. My book gifts this year have been ones I’d all recommend to this crowd:
    The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter ( by Theodora Goss. Basically all the barely-mentioned women from classic sci-fi / horror stories like Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde, The Island of Dr. Moreau, etc., get together in London with Sherlock Holmes to solve mysteries. Yes, it is as amazing as it sounds.

    The City & The City by China Mieville ( is a noir murder mystery with a detective and associated weird people, but the true star of this book is the setting – two cities layered one upon the other with the only difference between them being the psychology of their inhabitants. Also contains tons of random nerdy archaeology stuff.

    The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers ( – the second book in this series won the Nebula Award this year, and it’s much deserved. This is a story of finding family in the weirdest places. It’s a character-driven space opera following a rag-tag crew on a spaceship as they complete a big, difficult task set out for them. If you liked the TV series Firefly, you are going to love this. It’s funny, charming, easy to read, and a delight. The second book is somewhat more serious but is just as good, so if you’re up for a duo of fun sci-fi reads, this will fit the bill.

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