The Dark Underbelly of Online Mattress Sales

by Honolulu Mother

Oh brave new world this is, that has such business models in it!

The War To Sell You A Mattress Is An Internet Nightmare

I have noticed the many Amazon reviewers mentioning that they got a free or discounted product in return for an honest review, but had no idea how thoroughly the cash-for-recommendations model had infiltrated the mattress business.

How do you filter online reviews? I like to look for a certain shape of review bars — a nice exponential curve that’s fat at the five star end and fades to almost nothing at the one star end. A spike at the one star end, even a small one, is bad news, although with some products (cell phones) it seems like you can’t avoid it. And of course you have to read to see if there are patterns to what people like, or dislike, about a product.

Give us your review of online product reviews!

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Decluttering your kitchen

by July

29 Things to Get Rid of in the Kitchen (That You Won’t Miss)

  1. Take-out menus.
  2. Sugar packets.
  3. Parmesan cheese and red pepper packets from pizza deliveries.
  4. Decorative bottles of herb-infused olive oil.
  5. Duplicate salad tongs.
  6. All but one each of large, medium, and small spatulas.
  7. Half-used candles.
  8. Magnets you’re intending to fix.
  9. Advertising magnets.
  10. Kids’ meal toys, including character cups.
  11. Extra napkins you picked up from the burger joint.
  12. Ketchup packets.
  13. Chipped mugs.
  14. Aunt Jane’s highball glasses that you never, ever get down from the top shelf.
  15. The George Foreman grill you’ve used twice in the history of your decade-long marriage.
  16. Anything more than four hot pads.
  17. Stained or holey dish towels.
  18. All but five of the nice glass jar food containers and lids you’ve been hoarding.
  19. The serving platter that you never liked but kept because it was a gift.
  20. Take-out chopsticks.
  21. Extra whisks.
  22. Duplicate ice cream scoops.
  23. The cheese slicer.
  24. Old water bottles that you never reach for.
  25. Tupperware without lids.
  26. Lids without tupperware.
  27. Duplicate can openers.
  28. Duplicate garlic presses.
  29. Baby utensils you no longer need.

Any of these things hanging out in your kitchen right now?

If you have any of these items, can you justify keeping them?  Any other kitchen things you know you should discard?  On the other hand, what kitchen things are you missing or coveting?

Open thread

We have an open thread all day.

This is the time of year for deciding on a health insurance plan and other employee benefits.  It can be complicated.  Our plan includes the use of a health advocate at no extra cost.  Among the services offered are open enrollment assistance, care coordination, and assistance with complex medical conditions.

Have you completed your enrollment paperwork?  Any questions or advice to offer?

DIY or do-it-for-me?

by July

Homeowners’ Shift Away From DIY Projects Dries Up Paint Profits
Rising incomes and a stronger housing market have many hiring professional painters

Homeowners are increasingly leaving painting to the pros, complicating business for paint makers and retailers…..

“More and more is being done by the professional painter,” said Dan Calkins, president of global sales at Benjamin Moore & Co. “People just don’t have the time.”

Nicole Buddin, a 31-year-old marketing manager in Chicago, recently hired pros to help paint her new house in the suburbs after she and her husband painted their condo in the city themselves three years ago.

“It’s just so time consuming,” she said. “We swore we wouldn’t do that again.”

Whether it’s home renovations, repairs, or maintenance, it seems the people around me are relying more on professionals.  Maybe it’s because we’re getting older!

Have you noticed a “shift from DIY to do-it-for-me”?  Did you used to do more around the house?  Any DIY projects planned for this long Thanksgiving weekend?  Is tomorrow’s meal DIY or do-it-for-me?

It’s the little things

by S&M

It’s easy to drift over to social media to destress, only to realize much later that you’re only more tired and possibly more stressed than when you logged in. Small creature comforts are more likely to get the job done. What do you use to make your home (or office) more comforting?

Cooking can be a release for me; I cut way back for a few years, but recently have made much more from scratch. My yoga ball is also good for a quick little pick-me-up; I might do bridges, or just drape myself over it backwards for an easy stretch. From this list of items that help you unwind, I have reading socks, (but have never used that name for them until now). My son sometimes wears them, but he reaches for his fuzzy blanket every day after school and on weekend mornings when he hangs out with his computer, and his earbuds stay with him all day long, either to listen to music or just as earplugs. It’s barbarian to use tea bags instead of loose tea and a diffuser, but that’s what I do when I make iced tea; diffusers are for hot tea in my book (and home). Bluetooth speakers don’t seem to be useful enough for us to hang onto when every device has its own speakers, and I pass the bath bombs by to reach for other salts and oils, but we do pull out the sand box and forms every once in a while. The full list here includes essential oils diffuser, reading socks, a Bluetooth speaker, a cozy blanket, ear plugs, a tea diffuser, bath bombs, a fidget cube, an executive sandbox, and a foot spa.

Do you use any of these, or classic destressers like candles and mood lighting? What items would you recommend people use to relax, or to make their homes more soothing?

Gift ideas!

by July

Let’s share holiday gift ideas.

I was prepared to hate everything about Oprah’s Favorite Things gift list, but when I saw a tempting cashmere sweater and the  “Letters to Me, When I Grow Up” book for children, I got sucked in to thinking about shopping for a few items.

Are you shopping for any of these hot toys?

What’s on kids’ wish lists? Here are 14 of the hottest toys for the holidays

And then you have the minimalist approach.

Here’s an idea: what if you decide to gift only experiences this year? How much more memorable will your holidays be?

Consider these experiences: concert tickets, a home-cooked meal, tickets to a play or a musical, breakfast in bed, a back rub, a foot rub, a full-body massage, a holiday parade, walking or driving somewhere without a plan, spending an evening talking with no distractions, making-out under the mistletoe, visiting a festival of lights, cutting down a Christmas tree, watching a sunrise, skiing, snowboarding, sledding, dancing, taking your children to a petting zoo, making snow angels, making a batch of hot apple cider, taking a vacation together, watching a wintertime sunset.

What other experiences can you give to someone you care about?

Is this a trend?

Majority Of Americans Would Skip Holiday Gift-Giving, Survey Says

Take a poll:

Totebag Dinner Party Game

by Honolulu Mother

The object of this game is to plan a Totebag dinner party. Your guests should include:

1 historical figure
1 fictional character (books, movies, tv, comics, they’re all eligible)
1 living celebrity (sports, acting, music, eccentric billionaire, they’re all eligible)
3 Totebaggers of your choice
You and your date of choice (it doesn’t have to be your spouse!)

Who’s invited? What are you serving? And what are your seating arrangements — who is next to whom? For full credit, explain your choices.

Please do not fill more than two blue books. ^_^

Have you peaked yet?

by July

Here’s the age at which you’ll earn the most in your career

Does this graph match your experience?

Here are peak years for other parts of your life.

The age when you hit ‘peak loneliness’ – and other life milestones
A new study has found that 35 is the age at which men feel the most lonely. But when might you feel the most creative or content?

Of course each of us charts our own course for peaks and valleys so these broad conclusions can be meaningless for any one person.  Are you on the fast track for some of these milestones but a late bloomer for others?  Share your observations.

Leftovers

by Honolulu Mother

I thought of Rhett when I saw this headline:

Why Americans have stopped eating leftovers

Despite years of training, my kids are not what I’d call enthusiastic leftover eaters. They will eat them, but grudgingly. Still, we get through most of our leftovers.

Does your household eat leftovers, or at least most of them? Do you have clever ways to re-use them, or do you just zap them?

Early Childhood Development

by Louise

The book described sounds interesting.

The article has taken a political turn but I don’t want to put it on the political page or turn it into a political discussion. This is about our children, families and the role of parents, with emphasis on a mother’s role.

Once I had kids the demands of a job and those of the kids clashed. I couldn’t lean in as much as I wanted to. My own parents had busy work and social lives. They were unavailable. Many times as a teen, I wished my mother was home more like the mothers of my friends just to talk things through.

Totebaggers share your experiences, observations and opinions.

The Politicization of Motherhood

Suburbs and more

by July

What to Do When You’ve Picked the Wrong Suburb

It can be hard choosing a home to buy, and sometimes mistakes are made.  Do you know anyone who believes they chose poorly?

The Suburb of the Future, Almost Here
Millennials want a different kind of suburban development that is smart, efficient and sustainable.

Apparently millennials are still choosing suburban life, but suburban life is evolving.  Do you agree with the changes described in this article?  What other changes do you foresee?

The Best Places to Live in America
MONEY identified 100 spots that offer a healthy economy, affordable homes, and a high quality of life.

Did your town make the cut?  Some local residents were “shocked” and “disappointed” that our area was not included.

Good Old Cookbooks

by Honolulu Mother

The Washington Post recently ran an article on three cookbooks published in the early 80s that were big sellers at the time, and continue to be popular today:

These three cookbooks went viral before the Internet existed — and they still hold up today

The cookbooks in the article are the Silver Palate Cookbook, Entertaining: Martha Stewart, and the Victory Garden Cookbook.

I don’t have any of those. My parents’ cookbook collection was pretty much complete by 1982, and I didn’t start my own until a couple of years later. But I have plenty of old cookbooks! Leaving aside the ones I have primarily for historical interest or sentimental reasons or reference, some old favorites that I still cook from include Marcella Hazan’s cookbooks for Italian food and Julie Sahni’s for Indian food, and Laurie Colwin’s books (essays with recipes) that I picked up in law school.

What good old cookbooks do you still cook from?