Our daily workwear reports suggest one piece of work-appropriate attire in a range of prices.
If you prefer an A-line dress to a sheath, they’re not always easy to find in workwear, but Nordstrom Rack has had several that caught my eye recently.
The Donna Morgan V-neck featured here has a really flattering elbow sleeve and comes in four great colors. If you’d prefer a crewneck cut, this London Times version has cute button tabs and slightly puffed shoulders.
The dress is $49.97 at Nordstrom Rack and comes in sizes 0–16.
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Workwear sales of note for 5.26.23:
- Nordstrom – The Half-Yearly Sale just started!
- Amazon – Memorial Day Sales! Lots of discounts on Amazon Essentials and more.
- Ann Taylor – Extra 50% off all sale styles (through 5/29); 40% off your entire purchase (including suiting).
- Anthropologie – Extra 40% off sale.
- Athleta – Up to 60% off, PLUS an extra 30% off!
- Banana Republic – Summer preview, 30% off your purchase!
- Banana Republic Factory – 50%-70% off everything + extra 25% off purchase
- Bloomingdale’s – Memorial Day Sale, save up to 50% off on summer essentials, plus save up to 40% on designer items!
- Boden – 30% off everything, including sale (ends 5/29).
- Brooks Brothers – Extra 25% off sale; already up to 70% off (ends 5/31) – also mix & match sale with men’s shirts, 4 for $249.
- Cole Haan – Up to 50% off sale styles.
- Eloquii – 400+ styles starting at $19; up to 50% off everything.
- Everlane – Up to 30% off, 400+ sale styles.
- Express – Summer kickoff sale, 30-50% off everything (plus $35+ steals).
- H&M – Up to 60% off online and in-store.
- J.Crew – 40% off your purchase; extra 50% off sale styles; up to 50% off summer styles
- J.Crew Factory – 50-70% off entire site and storewide; extra 60% off clearance.
- J.McLaughlin – Up to 40% off!
- Loft – 40% off full-price styles
- M.Gemi – MDW sale, up to 70% off (but returns accepted only for store credit).
- M.M.LaFleur – Short but sweet sale.
- Madewell – Get 30% off your purchase.
- Ministry of Supply – 25% off sitewide.
- Sephora – Up to 50% off select beauty
- Shopbop – Up to 50% off designer sale!
- Sue Sartor – Lots of cute dresses on sale!
- Talbots – 40% off one item, 30% off everything else (through 5/29).
- Theory – Up to 60% off + an extra 20% off.
- Universal Standard – Up to 35% off!
- Victoria’s Secret – this weekend only, buy 3 panties get 5 free ones.
Other noteworthy sales:
- CB2.com – Up to 50% off everything!
- Joss & Main – Up to 60% off, plus an extra 20% off with code.
- Tuft & Needle – Save up to $775 on mattresses. (Reader favorite bed brand; Kat really likes hers!)
- West Elm – Memorialy Day Sale, up to 60% off.
Has anyone else been waking up annoyingly early with it getting light so early? Ugh. Feels impossible to get enough sleep these days (going to bed early is hard for me – I am a night owl!)
No, but try an eye mask if you don’t need to get up? I like the style that’s slightly molded like a bra, so that there’s no pressure on eyes or lashes.
Blackout curtains for the bedroom are some of the best money I’ve ever spent. If you don’t already have them, give that a try!
+1 to blackout curtains. Hang from the ceiling to the floor so no light gets thru and for a dramatic effect. Only drawback is that I have a hard time sleeping anywhere that doesn’t have blackout curtains.
Did you find any good ones that don’t look like blackout curtains? My bedroom window opens out onto my screen porch, so I really need curtains that look great on both sides and don’t show the blackout lining.
We have a roll down black out shade and curtains. The shade is not visible during the day so how it looks is kind of irrelevant & between that and the curtains, it’s like sleeping in a cave.
Thanks for the ideas!
I have the velvet ones from West Elm
Yes my cat rises at Dawn for First Breakfast. I have no solutions to offer.
My dogs feel strongly that first pee should occur at sunrise.
For various reasons, I’m up annoyingly early every day (as in 530am is sleeping in for me) so I love that the sun is starting to rise earlier.
I hop you find a solution, it’s hard to function when you don’t get enough sleep!
This started happening to me a few years ago. I bought a nice sleep eye mask from Dream Essentials with cushion around the eyes for a comfortable fit. Fixed the problem! Also convenient to pack on trips.
I used to buy stuff like this but got so sick of fabrics that pilled if you carried a laptop bag or (gasp) wore a seat belt. This is normal use. I get the feeling that even when you are t buying from Shein or F21, a lot of less expensive items are just disposable.
A lot of expensive synthetic stuff has the same issue. It’s getting harder and harder to find high-quality cotton or lined wool items that don’t pill.
Agree. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of JCrew Factory but for Ann Taylor/Loft/Banana republic I have given up shopping online – what looks nice in the photos is often super thin/cheap feeling IRL. There are good picks in person but it takes a lot of searching.
I like this dress but it reminds me of what I wore in my second trimester when I was too big for regular clothes but not yet ready for maternity clothes.
Looking for kid friendly (indoor pool) hotel recommendations in Indianapolis somewhat near the children’s museum & zoo. thanks!
I would recommend staying along the canal. There is a Residence Inn right next to it that has an indoor pool: https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/indri-residence-inn-indianapolis-downtown-on-the-canal/overview/?scid=f2ae0541-1279-4f24-b197-a979c79310b0
Not sure if you have a car, but from that hotel you can walk a couple blocks to the Red Line bus that makes a stop right in front of the museum. You can walk along the canal to the zoo and other museums. In the warmer months you can rent paddle boats, too.
There’s a mostly-suites hilton right near the circle that’s my go-to when visiting family. it has an indoor pool on the top floor with a glass ceiling, good sized rooms. Children’s museum and Zoo aren’t super close to each other, and I’m not sure you’d want to stay right near either, but this would be short drive to Museum and slightly longer drive to zoo.
Source: Raised in Indy and sibling has lived there continuously, so visit ~3-4 times per year.
Yet, this style is perfect for my changing-by-a size-every-day body, that grows a food baby in the PM and gives birth overnight.
I wore a similar dress from WHBM during my second trimester. It was more of a sheath but stretchy black jersey.
I had a stack of dresses like this that I wore all through my pregnancy. Though in my case I bought them about a year before kids were on my radar because theyre my standard casual wear. But mine are a jersey fabric like a soft t-shirt.
Guilty guilty guilty!
Did anyone else read the Farhad Manjoo op-ed in the NYT about the use and interpretation of location tracking data in this case? I get his point but I really think he chose the wrong case to make it with. And I say this as someone whose job is to improve criminal defense representation.
I did, and I agree with you. I don’t think they had to deeply consider the (agreed, murky) digital evidence to get to guilty here. If that were all they had,
The Adnan Syed case is a better example
Oh, and a few weeks ago he used the Alec Baldwin case to make a point about not talking to the police without a lawyer. Again, good point, poorly chosen example. Don’t choose obviously guilty, totally unsympathetic defendants because it just undermines your valid point.
Alec Baldwin is not obvioulsy guilty of anything. Give me a break.
My grandfather, a lifelong hunter, taught me that you never point a gun at anything you don’t plan to kill. So…
He’s guilty of being a pr*ck.
But agree, not likely guilty of manslaughter.
+. He should never have been charged. He wasn’t trying to hurt anyone. The weapons person was criminally negligent.
But come on, it was supposed to be a prop gun, not a real one.
Trish, you’re really not tracking these days.
I am not a gun owner but have taken firearms safety classes. Three rules:
1. Always assume the gun is loaded.
2. Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy and that includes what is behind your target.
3. Do not put your finger on the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
Sorry he’s guilty of manslaughter at least. Following any ONE of those three rules would have prevented this tragedy.
Alex Baldwin fd up, and I realize they weren’t actually filming at the time, but those rules of firearms safety are obviously not compatible with acting.
The Actors Equity Association disagrees with you:
Obviously, people film fight scenes without beating each other to a pulp and film gardening scenes without actually having the actors engage in s3x. You can film a scene with a gun without pointing it at someone and pulling the trigger.
I will just note that Baldwin in charged with involuntary manslaughter, not voluntary manslaughter.
I thought it was a great example. He had a lot to say that he should not have. Everyone is presumed innocent and entitled to their right to remain silent. It doesn’t only apply to nice, politically correct people.
Yes, shocking that the “I lie about everything but believe me anyway” defense was unsuccessful.
I could not stand his defense team, especially Poot and the way he talked to the female who did the autopsy. He is a buffoon. I bet he loses his senate seat in the next election after this.
Q: Would you say “to the male?” Saying “to the female” seems misogynistic to me, because I never see the corresponding language for men. I realize from your comment that your point is that the lawyer was disrespectful to a female witness, but “female” used as a noun rarely sounds right to me outside of autopsy reports and governmental records.
Perhaps 10:58 accidentally left out the word “witness” or “coroner.”
Or has been in the military (or grew up in a military household) where that nomenclature is common.
I get that male/female vs. man/woman has become fraught but the language policing has gotten ridiculous and is turning off people who are otherwise moderates.
Yeah, “female medical examiner” would be better. Usually “female” as a noun is used for skeletons and animals.
I had to wash my hair with body wash (hotel bathroom staple stocking error) one morning. It should be fine — hair isn’t chemically treated and is pretty oily. What gets me is — why can’t everything be more like Dr. Bronner’s, where one cleaning product is sufficient for everything? [I think that men live like this — where they may do their dishes with their shampoo / body wash stuff.] Do we really need soap + shampoo + body wash as separate products? Are they different in any meaningful way? Next work trip, I will have a small container of Dr. Bronner’s with me as an experiment (I have a small one for camping), I just need to settle on which scent.
I think that only works if you have simple, uncolored, straight hair. I have thick color treated 2b hair and sensitive eczema prone skin so yea, one product isn’t going to cut it for me. Plain old dove bar soap works best for body but I need to use salon haircare if I want my color to last/my hair to have enough moisture. Ditto with my facial care – my skin is very sensitive and super reactive. I am envious of those who can wash their faces with hand soap but I know from decades of experience that isn’t me!
I mean do you girl. There’s nothing stopping you from washing your v@g with Dawn dish detergent or buying the Dove Men’s 5 in 1. They’ll all get you clean. The distinction is in how that clean feels.
IIRC, you aren’t supposed to do that at all — bad for pH or something. But how much of this is marketing? How much is real? FWIW, I love a good conditioner (and Aussie 3-minute miracle — could you pls make a travel size) and I get that babies / rosacea friends / curly-headed friends have unique needs. But with COVID limiting my work travel, the # of products I had to lug on my last vacation was something I was out of habit on packing. So hard to be female sometimes.
girl just buy travel size squeeze bottles and fill them with products yourself.
9:42 was just speaking in shorthand, not actually referring to douching with dish soap.
The Target squeezy travel bottles are great and all of a dollar.
pugs those are exactly the ones I have!
Idk why you’re so invested in making up problems.
They do make Aussie 3 minute miracle in a travel size. And it’s not hard to be female in this instance. It’s just hard to be you.
I tried using Dr. Bronner’s for body wash and shampoo and it tore up my skin and left my hair feeling awful. I guess if I were camping, it’d be better than nothing. If you can use it for everything, go on with your bad self, but I will never willingly give up my many tiny bottles.
My husband definitely does not use his Irish Spring bar soap or his Head and Shoulders shampoo to wash the dishes.
After my parents divorced my father used sunlight dish soap for cleaning the dishes, himself, and the laundry.
If you have the same goals and acceptable compromises for using a cleaning product, then you can use the same one.
Typically, when washing hands the goal is to get them clean and you compromise by taking off more oils than ideal for skin health. For dishes, I want to remove all the oil/grease. For face and hair, usually you only want to take off some of the oil and leave enough to maintain the surface and moisture. Body wash is somewhere in between hands and face.
If you’re happy to remove a bit more oil than you might want in some areas and a bit less in others, then one product might work for you.
You should buy products that are intended as all in ones. Amazon has a whole section for 3-in-1s. Weleda skin food is a good face and body moisturizer- if you want to use one for both.
But it’s not just women -men are now getting the same marketing. Is “Dove for Men” really necessary? Or all the beard products?
(as to whether they are meaningfully different- I think it all depends on your needs. I use shampoo as body wash all the time but I def need conditioner for my long wavy hair or it becomes a tangly mess. I also swear by Argan oil to fix just about everything from sunburn, cuticles to split ends)..
Kind of how Dawn blue and vinegar clean 99% of household cleaning.
There’s an Atlantic article on a similar topic today, about whether eye cream is a scam. It mostly comes down to eye cream having fewer ingredients because the skin around your eyes is so sensitive. That would be my issue, as someone with absurdly sensitive skin. I can barely tolerate most products designed for my face, so washing my face with shampoo is definitely not an option. But I shave with conditioner and wash with regular old soap.
This – as someone dealing with some fun rosacea flares courtesy of trying a new makeup balm I need to be super careful with what goes on my face. I stick to an oil cleanser and a low-ph facial wash and VERY simple moisturizers/acids. For body I use dove body soap and always will (I also shave with it) – though I do need to exfoliate with acids/moisturize my legs as I am super prone to KP/eczema.
FYI, I have had fits with rosacea and am currently on a very good curology rosacea mix. My actual dermatologist (not my virtual curology NP) said it was “excellent.”
In terms of things that irritate your skin, I’d back off the acids if you mean exfoliating acids (azaleic acid and hyaluronic acid are ok) and see if your skin calms down. I’d give it a good 2 weeks.
For foundations, the two that don’t irritate me are Bobbi brown serum foundation (pricey but on sale right now on Bb website) and NARS radiant tinted moisturizer.
I agree that all-in-one products are not for us!
You can default to Dr. Bronners or Everyone soap and use another product if necessary.
My hair is exceptionally dry, fine, and tangles easily. Conditioner for black women with natural hair is worth its weight in gold to me. Standard soap or shampoos is tangle city.
Huh. My hair is fine, doesn’t tangle that easily, but is getting drier. I never thought about products for Black women for my hair. But I am looking for a deep conditioner to replace the Dry Bar Mudslide stuff they discontinued. I loved that product, it conditioned my hair but didn’t leave it greasy or limp.
Eden bodyworks, TGIN, and As I Am are great brands to try. Available at Sally Beauty or Target usually.
I have dry skin and oily hair so no a single product won’t work. Men have simpler hair needs – they’re not combatting damage from heat styling, they don’t worry about protecting their salon color, and a slight difference in moisture or frizz is less noticeable on short hair. They can get away with a mediocre hair product but it’s much harder for a woman to.
You should invest in refillable toiletry bottles. I have a kit from Bed Bath and Beyond that lives in my suitcase. If you rely on whatever random products the hotel decides to stock you’re gonna have a bad time.
If you’re looking for an all-in-one like the men use, why not just buy an unscented/lightly scented all-in-one men’s product?
Other than scent and marketing, the products are the same.
I do this when I travel. I take a smallish bottle of ‘No More Tears’ style kids 2-in-1 detangling shampoo, and use it as body wash as well. It’s ‘fine’?
I then usually take a small tube of Nivea Soft which is fine to moisturise both face and body. It’s not as rich as my usual night cream or body lotion but it does the job just fine.
At home I use more different products just because I like to. Plus, unless I’m going to move the same container around multiple times a day I have to have individual containers of ‘washing product’ in each place (sink, kitchen sink, shower), so I might as well use ones that are best suited for that setting.
I’d say try it out at home & see how it works for you — skin and hair stuff is super personal so it’s impossible to say. For me, my hair is much more brittle and frizzy looking washed with an all purpose soap, but if I’m roughing-it traveling/extended camping, I will go a couple weeks using a single soap (wilderness wash) for everything from clothes to skin to dishes… but it’s “good enough but noticeably not great” at everything. There really isn’t an all-purpose product that’s going to be as good as specialized in all conditions.
I have dry skin but fairly simple hair. I always use hotel products without a real problem. I could easily use one body + face moisturizer, and maybe the same shampoo/body wash (that does seem similar to me) but conditioner is a must.
I stayed in a hotel where they had the same shampoo/soap so I guess that’s a thing?
Trader Joe’s 3-in-1 works pretty well.
Afternoon tea recommendations in London?
So many options! My friend recommended Fortnum and Mason but I’d love to hear recommendations from folk here. I’ll be in Bloomsbury.
Sketch is the ‘do it for the ‘gram’ go-to.
I just went there a few weeks ago and it was a madhouse and not very good. I’d been a few years earlier so I was disappointed in the decline. I’d go with something fancy traditional like the Ritz – the Wit and Whimsy blog has a lot of recommendations.
Nobody goes to Sketch anymore . It’s too crowded LOL.
The Savoy is nice.
Fortnam and Mason is the best. I’ve tried easily a dozen places and I go back to it every time. Beautiful room, everyone is excited to be there, lovely staff. But also simply the best quality food, and they do refills, and at the end you get cake.
+1 to Fortnam ! I think the nice restaurant is on the top floor.
I had a lovely afternoon tea at Le Meridien, Piccadilly. Bonus if you are a Bonvoy member I think you get 25% off. Also Kensington Palace is beautiful and the tea was good, if pricey.
Rosewood hotel (Holborn near Bllomsbury) for modern art theme
Sketch for the crockery and loos
Sanderson hotel for Alice in Wonderland (Fitzrovia near Bloomsbury)
Wallace Collection (Marylebone) for the lovely Conservatory
Walllace Collection is a must see, but they are renovating the basement floor, so check before you go to see if the cafe is back up and running.
I love Fortnum and Mason products, but the afternoon tea there was underwhelming and expensive. Try The Savoy.
The Corinthia is superb: https://www.corinthia.com/london/restaurants-bars/afternoon-tea/ Very elegant surroundings, divine cakes, and the chairs are so comfortable! Expensive but worth it. It’s easy to get to from Bloomsbury by either tube or walking.
I’ve had London based colleagues suggest tea at the Shard – you get the amazing view and while the tea is pricey it basically ticks both the ‘see the skyline’ and ‘have fancy tea’ boxes in one go.
Yes it’s a nice experience. The service isn’t as good as some others suggested here. Book it for sunset.
The Goring Hotel was amazing!
Ohhhhhh we had drinks there and it was so lovely and I imagine tea would be fantastic!! (I’m the earlier poster with the recent awful Sketch experience).
Does anyone have experience with clothes from Love Bonito? Quality, fit, customer service?
Help me plan a summer European vacation for my family. The kids will be 9 and 13, and this will be their first trip abroad. My husband has spent quite a lot of time in Europe, and I have been a couple of times. I am open to how long the trip will be but thinking 10 days-2 weeks is probably the sweet spot. The youngest is autistic but does not have high support needs. At most he is a somewhat picky eater, and we will need to have wifi at the hotel. Both kids are geography nuts and will be excited about wherever we go. We are traveling from the midwest. Help! It is hard to begin since we don’t have many restrictions.
What part of summer? just because it will be very hot in spain/greece in late july and august. doesn’t mean you couldn’t go but something to think about.
We are open to any time from Memorial Day to early August though I suspect that it will be less crowded for us to travel earlier in the summer.
Memorial Day is a great time in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, etc. Our public schools get out just before Memorial Day, so that’s usually when we take our summer trip and the crowds are definitely lighter than they are later in the summer, I think because so many US schools don’t get out until mid-June.
I’d start by thinking about what you’d like to do. Beach time? Hot weather? Moderate weather? Hiking? City? Small town? Museums?
+1. This will help narrow down your options considerably.
That being said, I always think London and Paris are a good spots for an “intro to Europe” trip. June would be a good time to go to both of these cities.
2 weeks is long for a trip to Europe. YMMV, but I’m very passionate about travel and do it frequently (as in several trips abroad a year), but find myself ready to go home after about a week. I would only go for longer than that if I was going somewhere like Australia where I needed the super long flight to be worth it. For Europe, I think 7-8 days is ideal and personally I wouldn’t go for much longer than that, especially when it’s your kids’ first trip abroad. It will be fun and exciting, but also unfamiliar and a little exhausting and I wouldn’t want to keep it going for two weeks.
Agreed, July/August is not a pleasant time in most of the continent because of the heat and crowds. Unless this trip can be in June, weather may help narrow down your choices. In July or August, I’d stick to the UK, Scandinavia, Netherlands/Belgium, the mountain areas like the Alps and the Dolomites or island/beach areas like Mallorca.
If you need a connection, I find it a lot more pleasant whenever possible to do the connection in the US before the red-eye flight, rather than connecting in Europe (e.g., flying Chicago-NYC-Naples rather than Chicago-London-Naples). This also has the advantage of pushing back the time of the overnight flight and making it easier to sleep. The non-stops to Europe from the Midwest leave around 5-6 pm and arrive shortly after midnight Midwest time – that makes sleep almost impossible even if you’re good at sleeping on planes.
At 9 and 13 I feel like your kids are old enough to have some input — it’s probably true that they’d be happy anywhere you go, but do they have any places they especially want to visit or special interests?
If picky eating is a concern, Italy is probably one of the easiest places to go. You can get plain pasta and/or plain pizza almost everywhere.
“2 weeks is long for a trip to Europe” I asume you mean only visiting one european country but if you consider 2 weeks enough for going to Australia I understand what it is your travel style. For me that would be like the movie “If today is Tuesday we are in Berlin” (or something like that).
I agree with Anon 10.27, first decide which kind of trip and then plan around that. If I were you I will chose a country with direct flight and that offers all the options as France, Spain or Italy. I mean where you can have big cities, museums, cute villages, hiking and beach what will give you the option of doing part of the trip visiting and some days resting. Mediterranean area will be hot but no the Atlantic or north cost (Spain & France).
Give it a thought and we could help you with the planning.
You’re making totally inaccurate assumptions about my travel style. With a week I would go to one or two places. Not necessarily the same country because intra-Europe travel is easy and political borders aren’t synonymous with geography (e.g., southern Spain is closer to southern Portugal than Lisbon is), but I’m certainly not proposing a trip where you’re in a different city every day. Nowhere did I say that two weeks was enough to see the entire continent of Australia, but most Americans including me can’t take more than two weeks off work at once so that’s generally my upper limit for trip length. We only did three stops on our two week Australia trip, and I don’t claim I’ve seen the entire country even though I’ve been twice now. I just mentioned Australia because the long flights to there merit staying for longer than one week but for destinations like Europe and the Caribbean where the flights are much shorter, I prefer to just go for a week. And that’s especially true with kids, who tend to get antsy after a week of travel even if they’re enjoying the trip.
I think London and the English countryside could be lovely. Plus, if it’s the kid’s first international trip, being able to speak with the locals and read all the signs might make them more comfortable.
I would encourage you to consider traveling around Memorial Day/early June if you are able. Many Europeans are off work in July and August, so certain destinations are very crowded then, and many Americans are still in school through mid-June.
At that age, I really enjoyed London and would have had preferences/interests of where I wanted to go… I would choose a few options that work with your budget and ask your kids their opinion? London/Edinburgh or London/Paris seem like good trips for that age as does Rome/Florence.
We had a very successful trip with our sons when they were about the same ages though a bit older. We flew into Paris and stayed 5 days. A big hit were the segway tours with a great guide. They would never have agreed to a tour without the segway gimmick. And we did museums, great food, the Eiffel Tower, etc. We then took the train to Amsterdam, again 5 days. The canals with bikes were great fun, right now there is a fabulous Vermeer exhibit, pancakes every day, The Anne Frank House, and more. We flew home (Boston) from Amsterdam and had a great time. The train itself is a great ride.
We did London and Paris with an almost 9, almost 11 and 13 y/o (older two are boys) last April for eight days. I thought that was enough time for the trip, but if I had another 3 days, I would have tacked on Southwest Germany (for family reasons) or another easy train ride from Paris, and then back to London to fly out. We are planning a trip that starts in Southwest Germany for this summer, and then flying to the Czech Republic and hitting Austria. Think about whether you are flying round trip or two one ways (two one ways will be pricier), and where you want to end up.
I would figure out where you’re flying from and what has direct flights. O’Hare, maybe? I agree with the poster below to do any connections in the U.S. if possible.
I definitely would get their input. My kids wanted to see the Eiffel Tower and Stonehenge, and we went all in for tickets for those (I highly recommend a private sunrise tour of Stonehenge if that is your boys’ jam). We also did the Harry Potter studio tour for my youngest. Happy to chat about our similarly aged kids if you want to drop a burner email.
I was coming here to say consider Prague! London and Paris are huge and can be overwhelming. I found Prague so easy to navigate, and the tourist areas have lots of English speakers and signs in English. There’s a castle nearby in the countryside with real jousting. And it’s much less expensive than London or Paris.
That said, I also love the English countryside. I’ve stayed at an AirBnB in the Old Forest that was incredible.
If you are still reading – my cousin with similar-aged kids just took them on a trip to London and then north to Scotland, which is a great thing to do with the kind of time you had. It was a nice mix of castles and cities, and they rented a car and drove to the west highland way in Scotland for some hiking.
I just took a baby and a 5 year old to Madrid and we had the best time. Everyone was super friendly, the size of the city wasn’t overwhelming, the parks were beautiful…
I have traveled a bunch and found it to be great for a family!
Thanks, all. My husband had already proposed London and Scotland or English countryside, and I proposed London and Paris. We also considered Slovakia and Vienna or Germany and Switzerland as my husband has family there. We used to live in FL, so beaches aren’t a big draw for the boys (I would tour every beach everywhere if I could), but I do like the idea of big city mixed with some downtime outside of the city. Thanks for your input!
FYI – if you’re going this summer it is blow-your-socks-off expensive. We’re doing a trip with my MIL that can’t really wait, but I’m spending more than $1200 per family member on airfare alone.
I think it depends where in the US you live (assuming major airports, east coast is cheaper than midwest is cheaper than west coast… generally) but coming from Chicago, I consider $1200 per person a pretty standard fare for Europe in the summer, and I paid that pre-pandemic. I saw $2k fares this summer for economy.
We did Switzerland and North Italy last summer (July) with our (then) 8 year old. Also from the Midwest, we were able to do direct flights from O’Hare to Zurich and back from Milan. 12 days total and kiddo did great. We moved around a lot so there was always something new to see or do. Zurich and Milan were hot (mid to high 80s) but in the middle when we were in the Alps it was mild (high 50s to low 70s). Highly recommend.
Italy. Lots to do for all, and I’ve never met a kid that didn’t like Italian food. And super kid friendly atmosphere.
I’ve been using RapidLash for about a month. I *think* my lashes are a little longer but it’s a very small difference so far. What I *know* is different is that I’ve grown fine downy hair near the inner and outer corners of my eyes, which is creating a shadow. Has this happened to anyone else? I will discontinue but am wondering if it’s worth trying a different product like RevitaLash?
Don’t apply too much product – the barest of amounts will work. It’s as the product oozes elsewhere that you can end up with this growth. (FWIW, I use and love RevitaLash.)
I had this problem with Lash Boost. I started using it a few times a week instead of daily and it stopped.
A little while back there was a long thread on facial sunscreen, which inspired me to up my game. I tried two that were recommended:
– Rohto SKIN AQUA UV Super Moisture Gel SPF50: despite the name, this isn’t really a gel. It’s slightly runnier than Elmer’s glue. It absorbs super fast, no white cast, and doesn’t pill under BB cream. I do need another moisturizer under it, but I have weird combination skin.
– Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Moisturizing Face Sunscreen Lotion Spf 60: more of a traditional lotion. Feels a tad heavier than the Rohto but still absorbs and “plays” well with makeup. I don’t need a second moisturizer with this. And it’s less than $10.
Hope this is useful. Happy Friday!
Is the Aveeno mineral sunscreen? I hate the chalky white ones but my stupid rosacea skin is less aggravated by them.
No, it’s chemical :( It’s oxybenzone- and oil-free, tho.
There are good mineral sunblocks out there, but often only imported (why are European and Korean sunblocks so much better than US?).
Gail the Goldfish
the answer to that question is because the FDA is slow and has not approved new sunscreen ingredients in an eternity. European/Asian sunscreens have ingredients that can’t go in US sunscreens.
That is interesting! I discovered foreign sunblocks when traveling and was blown away. I also have rosacea and sunscreen really flares up my skin, but I was even more impressed by the efficacy (being able to spend long hours in the sun without any visible signs of having done so, and without constantly reapplying).
Biossance makes a beautiful all mineral sunscreen.
Fifty shades of snail said that Aqua UV was her most used sunscreen on Instagram the other day, and I’m now waiting for mine to arrive. Glad to have your endorsement too!
Thank you so much–going to try it!
Has anyone bought a small couch/loveseat for office use before? I’m looking for one and I don’t want to spend a fortune (I suspect it will barely be used). Can anyone recommend anything? Is my best bet just going to Ikea?
I had no luck at Ikea when looking for something that’s space efficient. Even their narrow sofas are really deep and feel more like cozy sofas than waiting room/office sofas to me. I would try Target or Walmart if it’s going to be seldomly used; the weak point of their offerings is usually durability rather than comfort or (if you pick the right one) appearance.
Check out Apt2B?
Oh I missed the not spending a fortune part…
This is where home goods shines.
Wayfair is your friend here.
If there are any mid-range local furniture stores, walk in and pick something off the floor if you can (or like someone suggested above, home goods). You definitely don’t need it to be durable so it’s more about how it looks and fits. I did try ordering from wayfair but that is just so hit or miss, and I found it much easier to see something in person. Bonus if you bring a tape measure in case they don’t have measurements readily available.
I bought a super teeny loveseat on Amazon or Wayfair and it was surprisingly short and low to the ground — make sure you check your measurements. (And then it broke a few years later even though we almost never used it.) I have a hot pink chair that sits in the corner of my office and… is never used.
I got one from Article when I needed something for a small space, and so far I like it.
Bragging here in the safety of anonymity!
I just had my review and found out my promotion went through, with a 30% raise (!!) and a higher title than I had even hoped for.
I’d responded to a few recruiters over the last 6 months – wanting a salary bump, not due to issues with job satisfaction – and now I’m so glad I didn’t leave. New title/salary is higher than anything I’d interviewed for. It also means I’m making six figures for the first time in my life, which I know isn’t a big deal to many of you here but is kind of mind-blowing to me!
Would love to hear any of your Friday good news as well!!
Holy moly, well done you! I hope there’s a bottle of champagne in your plans tonight!
Woohoo!! Way to go!! (I don’t make six figures, so consider me duly impressed!)
This is wonderful!! Congrats!! I remember when I crossed that 6 figure threshold – it was so exciting! (And such a relief since I was paying back 6 figures of debt ha!)
Me, too. It was April 2015, and I didn’t believe it until I had the whole first year and a good review under my belt.
Woo hoo! This is BIG!!
Way to go! That six figure threshold is such a special moment. You should be so proud of yourself!!!
Congrats! That is wonderful!!
I could use some words of wisdom. Moving a beloved family member to a nursing home soon. It is such a bittersweet moment for our family that comes with relief and guilt. It’s nearby so there will be lots of visits. Has anyone been through this? What helped?
When MIL went into a nursing home, DH decided to take care of laundry on his own and not have the staff do it. He thought it would be short term. For six years he went a few times a week to pick up dirty clothes and put away clean ones. That little bit of responsibility helped him to continue to care for his mom, made him go regularly, and made it clear to the staff that there was someone checking in on this resident all the time. He also made a point of going on Sunday mornings when a lay minister would come to the home and provide communion. His mom had severe dementia (non-verbal and on a feeding tube for part of the time), but making a routine of going and sitting with her a few times a week was therapeutic for him. And the laundry responsibility meant that he could not slack off.
Hugs to you. This is a very hard thing to go through even when you know it’s the best option. This is so important: “it made it clear to the staff that there was someone checking in on this resident all the time.” Nursing homes (even expensive ones) are often short-staffed, and you really need to be on top of things to make sure your relative is getting the care they need and that they’re be treated with dignity and respect.
This is a really sweet story and a great tactic.
Good for him. And in my mom’s case, they lost so much of her laundry, I wish I had lived closer by so I could do this for her.
They not only lose so much of my mom’s laundry, what they don’t lose is shrunk to hell and back from the hot water. They said we didn’t need to mark her clothing with her name but 100% of clothing must have the name on it or the next time you visit, another resident will be wearing it. If someone could do the laundry, I’m sure the resident would be better dressed. I’ve not been able to do that for my mom and it’s one thing I wish I could change.
With my grandmother, what helped is knowing she would be somewhere safe at all times with medical professionals around her. She’d be less likely to fall down stairs or forget her tap was running and flood her apartment. etc. I’ve also taken care of a terminally ill parent at home and it’s very hard to enjoy time with the person when you are full time caregiving. You can now just focus on visiting and loving this person while they are safe and cared for.
If your faith tradition uses Stephen Ministers, you might look into being paired with one. They are trained to be a safe person for you to discuss these types of life challenges with.
There are companies that will help you do this, and I highly recommend hiring one. It’s such an emotional thing and there’s also a lot of physical work involved, and if you can throw money at it it’s well worth it. All I had to do was put stickers on everything (yellow for “goes with Mom,” red for “trash,” blue for “donate,” and green for “goes with me”), and they made sure everything went where it was supposed to go, and they even set up the room in the new place just like we wanted it. TOTALLY WORTH IT.
YES, my friend is a LCSW and has transitioned from seeing clients into this. Most cities have private licensed counselors to help you with this, choosing a place (if you haven’t), etc. It’s totally worth it, location-dependent for cost but I think it would be absolutely worth a professional hand.
Which parts are you struggling with? Worries about their care in an institution? The fact that they’re aging and won’t be with you forever? The fact that you’re aging? The loss of their home as a family gathering place?
(This advice below is focused more on someone in advanced age where time might be limited. Lmk if you’re dealing with someone who might live for several more years – my advice differs there because it’s a marathon not a sprint and you will burn the heck out and may come to resent your loved one, as much as you love them.)
My grandparents were like parents to me because my single mother was often traveling for work. It’s so simple, but I will never forget the words of one of the hospice nurses: “you will never regret being there with them.” Visiting might feel like a chore some days, but do it anyways. Last year, I posted here about reading aloud to my elderly grandmother. I read a few books to her, then hit on the idea of reading Anne of Green Gables to her (did someone here recommend it? I can’t recall). She LOVED it. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen her enjoy anything so much in my 40 years as she enjoyed me sitting beside her reading that wholesome story to her. (She had been functionally blind for years by that point, and used to enjoy Hallmark, but it eventually became too hard for her to follow the storylines when her vision went completely.) I was fortunate enough to work remotely last August and spent 3 weeks with Grandma and read aloud to her every day (because what do you do when they don’t want you to leave them but you’re essentially sitting there staring at the wall?). When I came home at the end of August, I continued to read her one chapter every evening by phone at 7:00 – her nurses knew that she had a call coming :) That reading to her every day allowed me to recognize instantly when she suddenly had a mini stroke that marked the beginning of the end. And I had an established relationship with her night nurse. So in sum, if your loved one enjoys knitting or puzzles or might enjoy having a story read to them, do that. You will never regret time spent with them.
Echoing the laundry thing above, my aunt also did my grandmother’s laundry. My aunt was always at the facility, and the staff knew she was a formidable woman who wouldn’t hesitate to give someone a Talking To if she felt Grandma wasn’t receiving the epitome of care. (It’s not that the laundry service is bad per se, but my fastidious aunt didn’t appreciate that they washed everything together, didn’t stain treat, and sometimes folded Grandma’s clothes sloppily, leading to wrinkles.)
this is so sweet. I’m glad you both had that time and memory. Long live Anne!
I’m sorry. This is a hard transition.
Is she very aware of what is going on?
On a practical note – she should put her name on every single thing. Every item of clothing. Every piece of furniture. Unfortunately, many things will be “lost” or taken. This certainly happens when they do your laundry. Anything of value is at risk for being taken. If possible, keep as little jewelry/small valuables as possible.
But try to bring as many personal touches that are meaningful for her. A typical nursing home room is shared, and sterile and depressing. Bringing favorite things to put on the wall, favorite pictures and linens/comforter/robe/cozy pj’s and lamps and small touches. And a digital picture frame where the family can have an App allowing them to add new pictures whenever they want is Wonderful. It will make her day every time she sees a new picture pop up. If she is able to use them, a radio/video/alexa/tablet/internet source…. not expensive versions because they will be stolen and will need to be replaced but there are tons of cheaper ones that are great….. you need something that fills the noise void that she can manage, if allowed with a roommate. A small thing to care for…. even a favorite plant (if allowed… probably not) or even a stuffed animal to hug can help.
If you can, try to set up a routine with your family where people take a specific time/day to check in. It will create a routine/stability for your family member and they will look forward to it every week. And otherwise, you will never do it as much as you should. Even 5 minutes is better than nothing. Even once a month! First Sunday morning of every month, a quick call. Simple traditions of sending flowers or a food treat (just a cookie!) on random small forgotten holidays or simply a pretty card for no reason, but doing it. Or sending the wreath for her door every Xmas or an Easter basket at Easter. When you visit, bring a favorite meal, as the food is often bad in Nursing Homes, but be mindful of any special eating problems/dietary restrictions…. but let them have what they love.
But sadly, most care in Nursing Homes is poor, and most people are neglected and lonely. It is what it is… even in the best, most expensive places. Staff is paid so poorly with high turnover, and there are too many patients per caregiver. Yes, family must be checking in regularly or neglect is greater. Get to know the name of the staff, be very nice to them and thank everyone, and bring a box of donuts for all occasionally. Again, sad that a bribe as small as a donut can lead to better care, but it does. Watching your loved one for signs of weight loss, dehydration, skin injuries/breakdown, new bruising, looking unwashed etc… as you need to get on top of these things right away and find a way to fix the problem.
Sometimes, you actually need to hire a separate caregiver privately to help your loved one if they have a lot of need. Sad but true.
+1,000,000 to “don’t take any valuables to the nursing home.” My mom was in a pretty-darned-good assisted living place but somehow after she died, none of her (few) small valuables seemed to be in the room. (Fortunately I had retrieved her wedding rings earlier.)
And yes to the separate caregiver. The institutional staff is going to be overworked and you need somebody to have eyes on your loved one specifically. Often the nursing home management will have contacts with people who do this freelance at the institution — that’s how we got ours and she was fantastic. We paid her, like, $20 per hour and it was the best money I spent.
Thirding the second caregiver. We have hired sitters to be with my grandmother a few days a week and some nights. It’s made a huge difference in her level of care. These are not nurses. Bacically babysitters but for the elderly.
Looking for shoes I can keep at the office to go for mid-day walks, regardless of what I am wearing for the regular part of the day (can range from casual to formal end of business casual). Current mindset is stupid walk for my stupid mental health, so 10 minutes, nothing serious. Should be easy to take on/off, not ridiculous, and ideally less than $30/50
This sounds like a TJ Maxx job to me. There are usually various kinds of sneakers in my local one.
I had a pair of basic gray Keds slip-ons for these purposes a while back.
Yet another odd way in which we are twins. No joke.
Ha! Shoe solidarity!
Sketchers slip ons.
+1 I have a slip-on pair of Skechers that are extremely comfortable and good for walking.
+3 Skechers are my favourite shoes, they’re super comfortable.
“stupid walk for my stupid mental health” Are you ok?
I think this is a TikTok/instagram phrase. Like “hot girl walk.”
It’s a meme, calm down.
I would scroll through Joe’s New Balance Outlet or do a Zappo’s search with a lot of filters since your price point is low.
My husband and I are considering a kid-free vacation this July. I like eating, hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, beginner surf and rock climbing lessons, and nature in general. He likes loafing around and dislikes spending money. All-inclusives are generally the most fun for us because the money is already spent and he’s not complaining about how much everything costs, but a place with relatively low food and activity costs would also work. Am I crazy to think the Azores would fit the bill? I assumed they’d be very expensive but preliminary searches suggest that costs are reasonable. We are on the East Coast and would probably drive to an airport with direct flights.
The Azores would be great for you, but it doesn’t sound like your husband would be happy there. Can you compromise with an all-inclusive beach resort on an island with a lot of nature-y stuff to do? I think St. Lucia would be great for both of you. Although summer is not the right time for the Caribbean because of hurricane season. FYI, I think the only way to go direct to the Azores is on United out of Newark, and I would expect to pay a premium for that flight. Those non-stops from US to more under the radar European destinations can be pricey.
Or Costa Rica, which is very nature-y and is not as affected by hurricane season as the Caribbean islands. I think June is supposed to be a pretty decent time of year there.
St. Lucia would be good. Also Costa Rica.
You are describing Basque Country in Spain (for surf Zarauz is the place). A bit less known is Cantabria but Somo has one of the best surf schools in the country and for sure best hiking (Picos de Europa) that Basque Country (and cheaper in general). In both cases flight to Bilbao. No all inclusive resorts Im afraid.
Right so she’s going to be stuck with an annoying drag of a man the whole time
The Azores is amazing! We went several years ago and loved it. Plenty to do (or not do), delicious and reasonably priced food, and so much natural beautiful to enjoy. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Azores Atlantico (5 star hotel) and if I recall correctly, it was around $200/night. You’ll definitely need a rental car.
Are you open to cruising? It’s the same benefit of an all-inclusive with everything paid up front and no money expended while you’re there, but you have more options in terms of where you go. Since you love nature, I’d look into Iceland or Norwegian fjord cruises. Or Alaska, which would probably be a bit cheaper.
+1 I know a lot of people are snobby about cruises, but I would really consider it in your shoes. I would hate to be limited to Mexico and the Caribbean where most of the world’s all-inclusive resorts are located, but I would also hate to have to listen to the husband complain about prices the whole time. Cruises seem like they’d fix this problem. They also tend to be pretty affordable, unless you go on one of the super fancy cruise lines that are basically yachts.
I have sung the praises here before, but I’ll do it again. Mallorca! A direct flight from Newark. Nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at was $300 / night with a private terrace with a hot tub. Nice dinner with drinks for $40. Beautiful, medieval walled towns, lots of hiking and rock climbing. Everything is SO picturesque. Its touristy, but all European tourists.
I enjoyed Mallorca a lot and have also recommended it here before, but I wouldn’t recommend it for OP. My favorite part of Mallorca was Palma, which is a very charming small city, but it doesn’t sound like OP wants a city. There’s lots of nice walking and charming villages, but not much actual hiking on the island. I also didn’t think it was terribly cheap. It’s not Switzerland-level pricing for sure, but I wouldn’t describe the food and hotel rates as especially affordable. We paid ~$500/night for a hotel I wasn’t super impressed by. It depends what time of year you go, I think, but she needs to go in summer which is high season. It’s also extremely popular with British and German families, so probably not the best choice for a kid-free getaway (we were with our kid, so this was great for us and our kid made lots of new friends, but OP is leaving her kids at home).
I was a bit surprised by your “no real hikes” comment. The Sierra de Tramontana is one of the best destinations for hiking in the country. But only not recommended in July/August. Better in spring in my opinion.
The same regarding the getaway without children, you just have to avoid the south of the island. You’re not going to find many families in the East and the North or the Northwest.
You might be able to find a hotel in the Azores where you can pre-pay for a meal plan. Europe doesn’t really have full all-inclusive resorts like the Caribbean, so you’d still have to pay for drinks and activities, but having the food covered will cut down on costs while you’re there a lot. Our spring break trip is to the Algarve region of Portugal and our hotel had options for standard (Breakfast only), half board (breakfast and dinner) and full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I’ve seen that in other European hotels too. That said, the value of doing this is not great, because hotel restaurants charge a lot and you can almost certainly leave the property and get a meal for less than half the price.
Hawaii would also work, depending on how long you have (and may not hit the “affordable” bit but hard to know without actual numbers).
“He likes loafing around and dislikes spending money.” Ha! This is me.
I compromise by agreeing on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” version of how much things cost where I sort of know but try not to think about the cost. Everything (tours, activities) being prebooked also helps with that. I enjoy the memories in retrospect but have some sticker shock and reluctance when I see the amounts.
Hi ladies… I just need to vent and ask a question.
I’m on a 5 hr Amtrak and the wifi is absolute trash. I’m somehow able to access websites other than anything connected to my company’s network. Unfortunately, my phone seems to be roaming so I can’t do a hotspot with that. I had planned on getting a ton of work done. ARGH!
When y’all are traveling and dependent on the wifi access of a plane/train, and you need to use VPN, what do you do?
I’m guessing I need to download a ton of docs to my desktop in order to draft anything? Other thoughts?
Download everything so I can work offline. Pleasant surprise if Wifi is effective.
I don’t plan to work on trains or planes. There is always some technical issue or turbulence or looking at the screen makes me sick. Plan for it to be downtime.
+1 I watch movies & sometimes knit on planes. I got tired of expecting to get anything done and then not being able to.
Between Boston and New York I use my company hot spot in my laptop, Amtrak wifi is routinely unreliable. Even the hot spot is not perfect, around Mystic CT, AT&T service is pretty bad so it craps out there.
I don’t depend on WiFi on trains or planes. You just can’t.
Yeah, Amtrak wifi is terrible and the trains run through places without cell coverage. I’ve done a couple of work trips on their trains and I just plan to be completely offline. Sorry you didn’t know in advance!
I bring things that are safe to read on the train. Caselaw, treatises, market reports. I don’t work on confidential documents in public.
Do you have an observation car on your train? Wifi is often best there.
I use my phone. I don’t think roaming still matters, does it? I thought plans were mostly nationwide coverage these days.
Gail the Goldfish
download and assume it won’t work and be pleasantly surprised if it does. i was annoyed to discover on my last Delta flight that they have changed settings somehow and I can no longer connect via VPN to my work network on their wifi (this used to not be an issue)
This is why I only fly between NYC and Boston. People love the train but the wifi is abysmal and it’s a ~4 hour train ride. People around me love the train because it avoids airports and they get “so much work done” but that is absolutely not my experience. I can’t remember the last time I had a really, really bad connection on a flight or in an airport. Nevertheless, I download to my desktop the most critical things I’m looking to get done. I also notice people on my team that I’ll be traveling so they should plan to troubleshoot if I’m unreachable. Apart from that, not a lot you can do.
aren’t there buses for this that have wifi on board?
Intermittent wifi is the absolute worst. Use your bits of wifi to download netflix then call it a day?
Help! I got sticky ski wax (Klister for the cross-country folks) on my merino wool sweatshirt. How do I get it out???
The prevailing wisdom with candle wax is to let it dry/harden and pick it off. Does this kind of wax dry?
I’d guess with an iron and pressing cloth?
Ooh, yikes. Normally for waxy stuff I’d suggest freezing and flicking it off. But klister doesn’t freeze (by design), at least at regular freezing temps. Google says GoJo or Goo-Gone works for klister on your hands, but it might not come out of the sweater easily. Google also says there’s a special fiberelene paper you can use with an iron to get klister off your skis– you could try that on the sweater?
Ooh, I know this one! Blue shop towel (like a fibrous paper towel) and either a waxing iron or a hair dryer. Goal is to use a combination of heat and gravity to melt the klister from above into the shop towel (below) while protecting your iron with another layer of towel between it and your clothing. Swap out your absorbing towel layer (the one below) as you go so it will continue to absorb what you melt.
Anything left and you can try goo-gone!
So sad – it was nice while it lasted…
V-neck, A-line, sleeves, AND pockets? This is my unicorn dress, so I just ordered it in black and green. I’m an extreme pear and A-line is the only thing that works for me. I also prefer V-neck and it’s tough to find V-neck and A-line together in workwear. I hope it’s as nice in person – it does have a bunch of great reviews.
Kind and truthful way to say no?
Please help me with the best wording to clearly say no in a way that is kind and truthful.
Situation: I’m a single mom, and my kid and I are participating in big scout event this summer overseas. I am adding some extra days to this trip for family vacation. A friend, who is also a single mom and attending this event with her kid, called me out of the blue asking if they could join me and my kid for the vacation part of the trip because she worries about traveling alone as a woman. I was caught off guard and gave a noncommittal answer so I need to be ready with an answer if she brings it up again. I really feel for her and her kid, but I don’t want her to come with us, for the following reasons:
She has clinical depression that caused her to go on suicide watch/hospitalization a couple years ago
Although she is now receiving mental health care, she sometimes cries in the middle of meetings, and I don’t think she is in good mental health yet
We’re acquaintances and our kids get along, but we hardly ever hang out together so I don’t know if we’d be compatible traveling together. I would feel like I have to walk on eggshells around her.
Which response is best, and is clear but kind and truthful?
A. I’m sorry but that’s not possible.
B. I’m sorry but that’s not possible because we don’t know if we would be compatible traveling together.
C. (Something else?)
I would say sorry but you’re looking forward to having the special one-on-one bonding time with your kid. I think most moms would get that.
I certainly don’t think you should feel obligated to include her, but fwiw I don’t think closeness of the friendship is a great metric for how well you travel with someone. I love my best friend like a sister but I hate traveling with her, and I’ve had some great trips with women who are really acquaintances more than friends. If you do decide to travel with someone outside your family, frank discussion in advance about budgets and what daily life on the trip will look like (are you planning to do everything together? Or are you going to have breakfast together and then go your own way for the day? etc) is helpful, regardless of how close you are emotionally.
OP said this woman is experiencing mental health issues that affect her routine activities so she’s not a great traveling companion at the moment. OP is better off turning her down. “We planned this as a special trip for just the two of us” is all you need to say. Don’t blame it on incompatibility or present a different reason, she’ll just try to argue against your logic and negotiate her way into joining you.
I don’t think we disagree. I said that she doesn’t need to include this woman on her trip, and I suggested she say it’s because she wants a special trip with her kid just the two of them. I was just pointing out that in general the emotional closeness of the friend isn’t the best proxy for whether or not they’ll be a good travel companion.
No is a complete sentence. “I’m sorry, that won’t work for us,” is blunt but finishes the discussion. You do not owe her details of why.
“No, Sorry we can’t do that. Hope you sort this out!”
Plan to repeat as needed if she pushes.