Tuesday open thread

Our Tuesday open thread is open for business.

Since we currently seem to have a backlog of topics (a good thing!), we will not have an open thread this Thursday.  Upcoming topics:

Wednesday  —  What stands the test of time? (Rhode)
Thursday  —  Taking care of your kitchen  (S&M)
Friday  —  The TMI post  (Houston)


132 thoughts on “Tuesday open thread

  1. It’s happened, sooner than I expected. My boy has found a girl. He is as extreme as can be, and does not acknowledge as much at all. Spending every afternoon together, 6 hours on Saturday, chatting and occasionally calling in between… Wants to skip commitments that don’t involve her. I worry about his ability to maintain his borders. He’s already done a couple of dumb things to impress her.

    Any and all commiseration, remembrance of your own experience when your kid(s) started dating, and advice is welcome.

  2. Related to the jury duty discussion, has anyone every had to testify as a witness? DD and I have been subpoenaed for a trial on Thursday. We were in a hit and run accident about 18 months ago and the other driver’s criminal case is finally going to trial. I’m still hoping they agree to a plea and we don’t have to go, but that will probably happen in the courtroom and we’ll have had to go for nothing.

  3. Oh July, I saw that!! I was laughing over the trendiness/not-trendiness of brining. As a turkey hater, it doesn’t much matter to me, but I have tried brining pork and think it tastes nasty. Wet and salty. My solution to the problem of dry meat is simply not to eat meat that is so lean that it always dries out. Hence, avoid the turkey. I personally agree with Ruth Reichl on the turkey question
    “She is not a fan of turkey, and has worked to forget all the ways she cajoled readers to prepare it; one unfortunate year, she suggested squishing the stuffing under the skin in a vain attempt to keep the breast meat moist.”

  4. I guess I missed the jury duty discussion. Old format, you received a summons, you went to a large auditorium (location varied based on the type of court), you answered the basic questions or confirmed you ineligible (must ineligible was done by mail), then were called based on the days you were available (all potential jurors available on Monday, 11/19), and would go stand in line, be given a court to show up at and then go that assigned day. Most of the time, you got there, got signed in and would be told it had been settled and to go home.

    Now that whole process is done by mail, phone and online. Even after you get your assignment, you are given a phone number to call the night before to find out if you even have to show up. In 30 years, I have actually served on ONE jury, but get called about every 4 years.

    As to testifying – I have been deposed both for a private case and for one brought against my then employer and was later prepped to testify, but both were settled before I had to testify. The advice I was given was be factual – what you saw, heard, said, did or what happened to you/your property (broken arm, front quarter panel of your car was damaged), but NOT what you think or feel or what you think someone else was thinking/feeling. about something. Slow yourself down so that you fully listen to the question and then give your answer. It is OK for there to be a pause while you think. Lastly, if you are asked your opinion or for feelings, I was told to respond factually, such as – I don’t know what the driver was thinking, after being hit, I saw the driver back up and drive away.

  5. SM –
    #1 had some short-lived relationships with girls in ~8-9th grades, then really nothing till the relationship he’s now in (for the last couple of months)
    #2 in what I would consider a pretty serious relationship for the past year +, since the beginning of his sr. yr in college; before then he was friends with all the girls, but no girlfriend
    #3 really hasn’t done the dating thing yet.

  6. As a parent, I’ve always tried to be as nonjudgmental about my kids’ boy/girl friends as possible. Some I’ve liked much more than others, but I hold my criticism for the really awful stuff.

  7. On the dating issue, I have found that open ended questions like “what do you like most about her?” are helpful. C

  8. For the first year, we are getting a pre-cooked turkey from Whole Foods. I am very excited. We have a single oven, so cooking a turkey on Thanksgiving always required some planning. Now I can focus on the sides! : )

  9. Houston, I’m hearing more about the idea of getting a pre-cooked turkey and it sounds appealing! I’ve never brined. I’m a Butterball type when it comes to turkey. I think I’ll outsource the pies this year.

  10. Denver, I think it’s pretty normal too. I’m not prepared for that, lol (but not really a joke). He’s saying “I thought you were the cool mom, but now I see I just never wanted to do anything or had my own ideas”. I’ve never claimed (or liked) the “cool mom” label, but he’s right–we used to resolve issues with rational discussion, which is out the window now. I think I’m experiencing what a normal parenting relationship is like, for the first time. I think her parents required her to spend Sunday with family, and we seem to agree on nearly 6 hrs per day as plenty.

    July, so far I’ve met her once. I spoke with her directly about one of the things she asked my son to do. Later on, when he asked me what I thought of her, I said she seemed nice, but I worry about him getting hurt by doing her bidding. He says she told him that I could read her mind, several times said exactly what she was thinking.

  11. Scarlett, I wish I would’ve asked that more before I met her. Now it would seem like an insult. He couldn’t come up with any answer.

  12. In past years, I thought about brining our turkey, but never did because the process seemed so cumbersome. I just rub it with a combination of butter and olive oil, and baste it a few times during cooking. And, of course, make gravy from the pan drippings. It seems to come out fine.

    I’m not really tempted to buy a pre-cooked turkey, because the smell of the house as the turkey is roasting is one of my very favorite things about Thanksgiving.

  13. Turkey and teen dating – two great topics right off the bat.

    We did a friendsgiving for DD’s soccer team last Sat. Girls all brought sides, we provided location and turkey. We decided to try doing a turkey breast rather than the entire turkey. Win!! Cooking time is shorter and we think that’s why the breast stayed so moist. It’s now on the menu for next week and probably going forward forever.

  14. I never jumped on the brining bandwagon. I have NEVER served anything but a moist gorgeous turkey using the following method. Preheat oven to 400. Rub cavities with butter salt and pepper and stuff and truss. Bread onion apple herb stuffing. Season skin. Melt lots of butter and some olive oil in a pan. Soak a large double thickness piece of cheesecloth in the fat mixture. Lay over the entire breast. Use baster to drench the entire bird including cheesecoth. with the fat. Put in the oven and turn the heat down to 325. Baste everything every 20 or 30 minutes. Keep soaking the cloth . Last half hour remove the cloth. Voila!

  15. We started brining turkey 2 years ago. Wow it made such a difference. We all really liked the turkey.

    This year we are making from scratch raviolis instead for Tday. Much more cumbersome, but I have a craving for them.

    Oh and I have a brand spanking new computer at work. Yay me. Now I need to learn Windows 10. This may take a day or two…

  16. When DS was a HS freshman he dated a girl who was awful (I have never met a more self centered person). It was then we learned that having a boyfriend/girlfriend in high school carries with it an element of cool in many circles. He is a quiet kid, part of the group of geeky smart boys, not the cool smart boys. This girl was perhaps the biggest mismatch he could have chosen but she was very pretty and he saw only the upside. Her mother was also quite crazy and supported the relationship to an extent that gives me shivers to this day. That is a frightening story too long for the Totebag but please beware, some parents are crazy, and I do mean crazy. Unsurprisingly, it crashed and burned and caused a lot of drama for both of them and the kids around them – awful from start to finish.

    He then met another girl junior year who was beautiful inside and out, truly a gem. She wasn’t really on the same intellectual level which was his reason for ending the relationship and they split up without any drama. They didn’t attend the same school, so splitting up was easier from that perspective as well.

    What help is a bunch of random experiences to S&M? I think teenagers have similar dating experiences as adults, but we parents tend to not take their relationships as seriously and maybe we should have a little more respect for what they are going through.

    My mother’s motto was: be nice to everyone your kids date, you never know who you’ll be related to.

  17. I don’t think the folks who had been cooking turkey for years were tempted to jump on the brining band wagon. But if you were just starting out, I can see how it would be tempting to experiment. If it turned out well then, that was your way of cooking turkey going forward. When we were all newly married, my friend bought a fresh turkey from the farmers market (this was the fashionable trend). She had invited her parents and her in laws. The deviation from the frozen didn’t work out well. They did have sides to eat.

  18. We have an oil-free fryer we are going to use for the turkey. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about injecting the turkey, so we are going to try that as well.

  19. @ DD – I recommend not injecting. It made the turkey taste more like marinated chicken, and less of that distinct turkey taste. Unless of course that’s what your goal is.

    I always rub the turkey with a good coating of salt 2 days ahead of time, and let it sit in the fridge. That’s huge for bringing out flavor. And it needs at least 24 hours in the fridge uncovered, so the skin can dry.

  20. I have never cooked a whole turkey, and I likely never will. When MIL finally stops hosting Thanksgiving, I’m not sure that we will take over a large, traditional celebration. For a smaller celebration – I have no problem with making a turkey breast only or roasting chicken. I do make turkey breasts, and I generally either brine, salt overnight or buy kosher meat, which does help keep it nice & juicy. I don’t find that good chicken needs it as much, but my favorite roast chicken recipe has a rub that sits overnight, so it probably does the same trick.

    “I think teenagers have similar dating experiences as adults, but we parents tend to not take their relationships as seriously and maybe we should have a little more respect for what they are going through.
    My mother’s motto was: be nice to everyone your kids date, you never know who you’ll be related to.”

    I think this is excellent – both parts.

  21. I do think that food writing around Thanksgiving must be terribly dull and repetitive. They have to find something new to say about making turkey and traditional sides every year. UGH. Christmas is so much more flexible & there are so many traditions from around the world to draw from – plus the SWEETS!

  22. We’ve fried turkeys before, with great success. I highly recommend it. I get my oven back, and the guys get out of the house (drinking beer and watching the turkey fry.

  23. I have never brined a turkey, but most recently I brined then smoked a chicken….great!

    I cook the turkey this way: rinse it, stuff it, rub all over with herb (rosemary, thyme, oregano) garlic butter and put it in the oven on a rack in a roasting pan to roast BREAST SIDE DOWN. Baste alternately with turkey stock & white wine, until I think there’s about an hour to go (more art than science). Then turn the turkey over, breast side up, and finish that way so the skin gets nice & crispy. Always moist, never dry.

  24. When I was a kid, my mother thought she had to do a turkey for Thanksgiving every year. We usually just ate it ourselves, since we had no relatives nearby and no money to travel long distances for a 4 day holiday. At some point when I was in middle school, my mother rebelled and made Indian food for the holiday. We were all so happy to admit to her that we never liked the turkey anyway. As far as I know, she never served another turkey, not on Tday or any other day of the year.

  25. SM, my parents had a rule that we could only see the person we were dating one day a weekend, and the other we had to do things with friends. We did not necessarily follow it, but I think it’s a good rule. DD spent all of her time with her boyfriend for almost four years, including living in the same apartment complex at school, and her roommate (a high school friend) was his cousin. When they broke up, she walked away from a lot of her friends as well, because everything was too intertwined. It is really important that they keep up their own separate identity and interests so that if/when the breakup happens that they still have things to do.

  26. @MM – I would be ALL for that. Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday meal. (Love the get together, meh on the traditional food.) When I was a kid, my parents would sometimes do a roast chicken or cornish game hens when it was just the 5 of us. I LOVED having my own little bird. It felt so special.

  27. I love Thanksgiving food. We rarely have this type of food, other than during the holidays. However, I too, am meh on the turkey. What I really love are the sides.

  28. Lark, what did you inject it with?

    Houston, in the cold weather areas, guys aren’t going to hang outside :)

  29. We did 2 injections that year (2 turkeys). One was a Cajun spice, and one was something along the lines of an Italian vinaigrette. Nobody liked them!

  30. “Houston, in the cold weather areas, guys aren’t going to hang outside :)”

    Forgot about things like snow…..

  31. I love Thanksgiving dinner. I love the tradition of always knowing that the food will be great. We are hosting this year. If anyone has a good stuffing/dressing recipe please pass it along.

  32. I use the bag method of cooking our turkeys, and that keeps the meat, including the breast, nice and moist, and makes it easy to collect drippings for gravy.

    The tradeoff is not having any nice crispy skin.

  33. Over the years I/we’ve done: whole turkey, just turkey breast, ordered a turkey (WF wasn’t an option at that time, our best one was from Luby’s), and gone out for the meal (a year there were just two of us). I, too, am sort of meh on Turkey, but love the sides and desserts. A few years ago DD#2 wanted to do T-day cooking and other than her dad doing the heavy lifting to get the bird out of the oven, she did it all (with some supervision). She is now our main holiday cook, and I am assigned the tetris of getting all the leftovers in the fridge, while SO is in charge of dishes. If DD#1 were home, her job is table setting and rinsing out all the rarely used serving dishes for use.

    The only thing we haven’t tried is to spatchcock the turkey. That is supposed to help keep it moist.

  34. Neither of my DDs have been interested in dating. But, I agree that it is a good idea to keep on good terms with everyone as you never know which one will be THE ONE. I also agree that you can’t dismiss their relationships as less serious – I have a friend who is married to her first boyfriend, who she began dating in 10th grade, and they have been together almost 40 years!

    As to Becky’s comment – Depending on your “community/friend group”, it can be hard to prevent things from being too intertwined. But, I do agree that it is important not to drop interests just because your current boyfriend or even husband doesn’t participate or isn’t interested. I think this also holds true for us soon to be empty nesters, as we often backed off on participating in things because of our children.

  35. “…soon to be empty nesters, as we often backed off on participating in things because of our children.”


  36. Thanksgiving is my favorite meal because I like turkey and I love most of the sides. Thanks to advice that I received here, we have a plan to see the other side of the family on a different day. It is not Thanksgiving part 2, and it worked out perfectly because DD has plans with camp friends on Long Island. We don’t have to deal with travel on Thanksgiving day, and we are going to make my mom/aunt happy since we will see on them on the holiday. everyone has already moved on to fighting over dates for Hanukkah, but the calendar is on my side this year because there are two weekends during the holiday.

  37. The last thanksgiving dinner I cooked from scratch was when DD was 5 and DS as a baby and I was having to hold him the entire time I cooked the entire dinner. At which point I said never again. I now order a precooked turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, and rolls. I make the pies. It makes for a much more relaxed Thanksgiving.

    One plus – one year our oven died on Thanksgiving. Since the turkey is already cooked, we were able to heat up sections in the microwave.

  38. “DS as a baby and I was having to hold him the entire time I cooked the entire dinner.”

    This reminds me of one of our friends who always did a lot of stuff in the kitchen. When she had her kids, she also did a lot in the kitchen while holding a kid, and told us that having kids led to a tremendous increase in her upper body strength.

  39. DD’s first boyfriend was in 7th grade. At that age, we thought we should get to know the boyfriend’s family and they were delightful. DD and 7th grade boyfriend broke up in 8th grade but DH still gets together with the father of the boyfriend occasionally (they work in related fields and are also both soccer fans). DD’s 8th/9th grade boyfriend turned out to be the son of someone DH had played soccer with when they were in their 20’s. Seattle can be a small town sometimes.

    DD’s 10th grade boyfriend seemed nice enough on the surface but I’m pretty sure from things that DD said later that he (and/or his crowd) were homophobic. DD broke up with him.

    DD’s 11th/12th grade boyfriend was a real sweetheart. We got to know his mom a bit.

    DD’s dating took me totally by surprise. I had no boyfriends in high school; didn’t really date in college either.

  40. Last year, I wrapped the turkey in bacon, through some onions inside and cooked it on the BBQ. It was juicy. We’re traveling this year so I need to come up with some sort of side that I can either put together easily at my siblings house or can easily make a four hour journey. I’m thinking about asparagus wrapped in bacon, but I’d love some other ideas.

  41. Based on the comments here I wonder how many turkey-hating diners suffer in silence every Thanksgiving wishing there was some other entree being served. I love turkey and all the fixings. Last year one of my guests brought roasted potatoes instead of mashed potatoes, so this year I’ve assigned her another dish and I’m making mashed potatoes. (In hindsight I realize she probably did it to save calories. Sheesh!)

    I’ve mentioned before that I have relatives who will only eat meat if they know the source farm. They likely will not be eating my turkey but I’ve encouraged them to bring dishes that fit better with their dietary preferences. Same with all my other guests since it seems everyone is on some type of restricted diet.

    Last year because it was so cold outside my H fried our turkeys in the garage. The garage had a stale poultry smell that lingered for weeks afterward. If that happens again I’m now armed with Febreze Linen spray!

  42. July – Please be careful frying in an enclosed space. Almost every year there are stories of frying gone bad up to people burning down their garages!

  43. “some sort of side that I can either put together easily at my siblings house or can easily make a four hour journey.”

    Reminds me of SM’s request for recommendations for foods that “fly well.”

    My real suggestion (after the tongue-in-cheek suggestion) was to order in advance something near where you’ll be having that meal.

    Last year we made a potato macaroni salad in advance that held up well.

  44. July, I always say I am going to bring appetizers, and then bring lots of salamis and cheese and breads. I fill up on yummy sandwiches, as do several of the other people, I notice.

    In the South, it is not uncommon to serve macaroni and cheese in addition to the turkey, and some people do a ham too. I also know Italian-American families that serve pasta or lasagna in addition to the turkey, How I wish my DH’s family subscribed to one of those customs!

  45. “In the South, it is not uncommon to serve macaroni and cheese in addition to the turkey, and some people do a ham too. ”

    In the southernmost of our states, sushi is also common at T-day meals.

  46. We have an indoor turkey fryer so it is safe for inside. My H just had wanted to use it outside for the smell, but it was so cold it was more efficient to use it inside.

    Mac and cheese should travel well. Maybe also sauteed green beans started at home and then finished up for a few minutes on the stove at the last minute. One traditional dish I’ve never cared for is the green bean casserole.

  47. So DW is trying to figure out what to take to T-day this year. Last year we took a turkey and the aforementioned potato macaroni salad, but there were two other turkeys and one other PM salad.

    Any suggestions? We already bought a turkey, so we may take that anyway, but we’d still like to take something else.

  48. “In the southernmost of our states, sushi is also common at T-day meals.”

    One year, my cousin’s fiance brought sushi. We were every so glad to welcome her to the family.

  49. “We have an indoor turkey fryer so it is safe for inside. My H just had wanted to use it outside for the smell,”

    We have a deep fryer that we usually use outside, not because of the smell, but because frying tends to create very small airborne oil particles that travel through the house and land, and if those particles come into contact with dust, they create a gummy mess that is almost impossible to clean.

  50. “I am looking forward to some good kimchi on T-day.”

    How do you eat kimchi? DH bought some recently and it’s good, but I feel like eating it out of jar isn’t really the proper way to eat kimchi.

  51. Swim, thanks for the examples from opposite ends of the spectrum. That’s a great adage too.

    I haven’t met the family, but simply knowing that they said “no” to both weekend days together gives me good vibes. Also, there is a lot of “civilized” behavior that I’ve decided doesn’t need to be my priority, because as long as he knows what he’s supposed to do, he’ll have it for work-type things, and some girl might lead him to feel it matters. He’s just told me about her family arguing amongst themselves about exactly how to hold a fork after she told him he should be more delicate with it.

    Becky, the broader social field is one reason I insist he participate in these other things, including classes she won’t be in. Cutting his future prospects for a first girlfriend is just too stupid. As for basketball, she can come cheer him on.

    SSM, that sounds like years of highs and lows. I hope this settles into a stabile, reasonable relationship that lasts a while before it breaks up. Whether he breaks up with her or she with him, I’m sure he will feel it very keenly. I’m not looking forward to that.

    One thing I have noticed that surprises me a bit is how much kids need rules. He told me this afternoon he’d be home at a certain time, a couple hours earlier than I would have set as a limit. Then, when the time came, he wanted to extend it to where I would’ve put it anyway, or at least an hour. I said no, because I wanted him to keep his word. In the end, he was late, but less than an hour. He was grouchy at me for “making” him, but really, there was no way I could “make” him from the other end of the phone. He knows I wouldn’t make him skip basketball, and he is currently sans computer for other reasons. I think he obeyed because he’s still a kid and needs rules.

  52. My sweet potato casserole (no marshmallows) can be made the day before and travel for four hours easily and can even be reheated quickly in a microwave if the baking pan isn’t too big or too fancy. No marshmallows. Roast orange flesh sweet potatoes in the oven not the microwave (puncture skins) put a cookie sheet on the rack underneath or lay them on the cookie sheet approx 1 hr @ 400. As soon as they a not burning your hands tear off the skins and mash up with a fork or potato masher, add cut up butter (lots) which will melt from the heat. I find a food processors makes them too pureed/mushy. At this point I add orange juice, ginger (grated or powder), salt, pepper and warm spices – pumpkin pie spice (or garam masala if you feel exotic), or a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground allspice, ground cloves (not too much), mace or a bit grated nutmeg. I put it in a flat pyrex dish (easy to transport, some have lids) or pretty low baking dish such as a lasagne pan, heavy drizzle of honey on the top (dark if you have it) over the top, and bake at 350 for 30 min unless the pan and quantity is very large, then 40 min. Mostly just baking in the spices and getting a nice glaze on the top. The ginger gives it a bit of a kick.

    Asparagus wrapped in bacon is also good. And you probably have access to lots of nice asparagus.

  53. SM – You sound like you are dealing with this very well. I agree they need rules even if they don’t want them. My youngest at 16 had a 6 hours on the phone per day girlfriend, I also figured out he was “entertaining” her at our house occasionally in the afternoon while I was at work. So I called the house (pre cell) one day when I decided to come home early. And that night I told him, I gave you a courtesy call this time. But no more. And I am planning to come home randomly without warning just to make sure things stay right.

  54. One other question that is sure to come up—gifting! What do you all think is an appropriate amount for a gift to/from boyfriend/girlfriend? The second day they wanted to spend the afternoon together, he wound up walking her home because she had such bad cramps. I’m thinking he should give her a stuffed animal heating pad, the kind you heat up in the microwave. They’re under $20.

  55. Thanks Meme! I don’t know how parents learn to morph into what each kid needs—just figuring out each new stage he goes through is enough for me! The “entertaining” is another area where I’m surprised at his compliance (thus far). He could easily take his keys and come over with her when he knows I’m out. Instead, he asks me to come home, because he wants to bring her over. I’m doing my best not to show how much this surprises me. (No “home alone” seems to be another area where her parents agree with me).

  56. Cassandra, as a side it’s like a pickle; it offsets the other dishes which may be more meaty / starchy so you take a bite of this and a bite of that. But here it gets used as an ingredient a lot too. Like chopped up finer for use as a burger topping, also as a hot dog topping (just as it comes, not chopped up), folded into meatloaf mix, chopped finer and mixed with cream cheese (include the juices) to make a dip.

  57. she had such bad cramps. I’m thinking he should give her a stuffed animal heating pad, the kind you heat up in the microwave.

    I’d steer clear of menstruation related gifts.

  58. “also as a hot dog topping (just as it comes, not chopped up)”

    I love hot dogs with kimchi and some mustard. It’s no weirder than putting sauerkraut on a hot dog.

    I usually eat kimchi as a side, and that’s how it’s sold at a lot of local plate lunch places. I also like it added to saimin, and kimchi fried rice is very popular.

  59. BTW, the kimchi in hot dogs, omelets, and kimchi fried rice is usually the kimchi made with Napa cabbage, aka won bok. There are all kinds of other kimchi, e.g., cucumber, bean sprout.

    Typically at Korean plate lunch places, you get to choose 4 types of kimchi for regular plates, or two types for mini plates.

  60. I have a friend who is married to her first boyfriend, who she began dating in 10th grade, and they have been together almost 40 years!

    My brother and his HS girlfriend recently had their 25th anniversary. She was his only gf, I think she dated one guy before him.

    We’re getting a new furnace tomrrow, yay. The old one crapped out last night, of course during the coldest spell of the year. That’s a chunk of change we really weren’t planning on spending right now.

  61. I spoke to the DA’s office and they said it looks like the defendant agreed to a plea so we don’t have to go. Since I already took the day off, I will have a nice day to myself :)

  62. “I have a friend who is married to her first boyfriend, who she began dating in 10th grade, and they have been together almost 40 years!

    My brother and his HS girlfriend recently had their 25th anniversary. She was his only gf, I think she dated one guy before him.”

    In April, DH and I will be together 20 years… we started dating in 12th grade. I’m his only gf and he’s my “second” bf (I really don’t like to count the first guy… he was a weirdo and not in the good way).

  63. I like kimchi soup. I just found a recipe so I might try making some myself. Hmm, maybe I should bring kimchi to the Tday celebration. That ought to go over well (not)

  64. I host Thanksgiving for my family. We all live in town so they come over at 11 and leave around 3 or 4. We get all the leftovers. It works great except I usually have a meltdown at some point later in the weekend because I do all of the work and DH does nothing. But he likes to decorate the Christmas tree, which I hate.

    I have my dad’s wife bring desserts. My sister who is gluten-free brings her own dessert. I make everything else gluten free, except the dinner rolls and gravy (I’ve given up trying to get gravy right). I don’t want people bringing stuff because my kitchen is too small and it throws off the timing of getting everything to the table. Plus my sisters and Dad’s wife make things more stressful when they try to “help”. DH always buys lots of wine and that helps take the edge off. If my family doesn’t like the food, they dont conplain because they don’t have to do anything. My gluten-free sister appreciates that she can eat everything.

  65. Where has Milo been? I’ve been busy at work so haven’t been reading every day.

    I need a new show. We watched Bodyguard on Netflix. I really liked that show. I need to retire to England just for the television programming.

  66. Homecoming on Amazon is pretty interesting. The eps are only a half hour so it goes pretty quickly.

  67. I’ve been watching Spanish language shows to improve my Spanish, but you can watch these with English subtitles. The Ministry of Time (El Ministerio del Tiempo) is a good adventure/time travel show. Four Seasons in Havana is very much like a standard British detective show, except it’s Cuban and it’s fascinating. It’s set in the 90s, sort of, when Cuba was kind of collapsing after the fall of the Soviet Union. One reviewer said that the protagonist is kind of like Morse, except he gets laid (graphically, in every episode. Be forewarned.)

  68. I need to retire to England just for the television programming.

    “Escape to BritBox…
    Indulge your inner Brit with beloved classics and brand new series. Comedy, drama, mystery, documentary, lifestyle, news and special live events – direct from the BBC & ITV. All for $6.99/month.”


  69. Rhett, I was hoping that would bring a volley of counter-suggestions. Clearly I don’t know how this blog thing works.

    Austin, DD, Rhode, you’re spooking me.

    I was very happy to hear at bedtime that he had told her he wanted a little time by himself. That is honestly more healthy than I expected from him. This morning he wants to be extra attentive to show her he doesn’t want to break up.

  70. Finn, I’m trying and trying to recall what I took instead. What I didn’t take were Brussels sprouts. I bought them and prepped them. I can’t remember what happened next, but when we came home we had Brüssel sprouts to last forever.

  71. It’s hard to know what kind of gift to give her since all we know about her is that she has menstrual cramps. I think branded body products are a safe bet – Lush soap is the right combo of distinctive, not creepy and young. Is this a gift from him to her? He should figure this out (important life skill to figure out what kinds of things to gift a romantic interest).

  72. SM – I was going to suggest a generic teen girl gift based on my experience with DD (cute, fuzzy, smelly) but that won’t cut it because the gift has to be special coming as it does from a BF. Also, in DD’s case, a picture is taken and shared with friends of gifts received, clothes to be worn on certain occasions, so if the girl were like DD it would be more public (I didn’t grow up sharing in this sort of way).

  73. Scarlett — That Portlandia sketch hits pretty close to my relatives’ attitude about having to know the background of any meat they consume. Apparently they usually buy their meat from a particular farmers market where they can chat up the vendors and learn about farm conditions. I doubt my Butterball turkey meets their requirements. They also have other strict lifestyle habits and have missed family events because of conflicts with their child’s nap schedule. I could go on . . .

  74. Gift giving can be tricky. I remember one young couple where after their break up the guy cited the Christmas that he showered his girlfriend with expensive gifts and she only gave him a funny t-shirt as one reason for their split. It was a major issue with him, but maybe I didn’t get the whole story. It could have been only one way he viewed her generosity as inadequate, or maybe he really measured love by gifts given. But if gifts are going to produce that much angst, the relationship may not ever work out anyway.

  75. “Where has Milo been? ”

    I hope everything’s fine with him and he’s just taking a break from the totebag.

  76. Rhett – I NEED Britbox! That is going on my Christmas list. But still probably want to retire to England and hug all the old buildings.

  77. “all we know about her is that she has menstrual cramps. ” lololol
    Louise, you’re giving ME cramps.
    I don’t think gifts should be important in a relationship, but have certainly seen some awkwardness when gifts exchanged are very different in value or effort. I don’t really know what expectations are. To me, an article of clothing (except for his outgrown sweatshirt, or maybe a T-shirt) is too much.
    Ada, you’re right that it’s a skill he needs to learn, I’d like to able to give him some guidance. I think the best I can do is tell him to go look at his Instagram from last year to see what people posted. That’s actually a great tip, so thanks, Louise, for mentioning it.

  78. *and I didn’t mean the outgrown sweatshirt as a gift–he’s passed one along to her, and she likes wearing it. But buying a T-shirt to back a school or team or something sounds fine to me as a present.

  79. I don’t think gifts should be important in a relationship

    Yeah, but remember that “love languages” thing. If she’s a “receiving gifts” type, then the gift needs to be special, even if it’s not expensive. Actually, asking Saac to go through the “love languages” quiz to see whether he can figure out her style would probably be helpful and might save lots of grief in later years. I know it’s kind of dopey and pop-cultural, but I actually have found it useful.


  80. Does the young lady have a Pinterest board? That can be really helpful for gaining clues as to style and taste.

  81. Saac- my first boyfriend in HS went WAY overboard with gifts – gave me his HS jacket (a big deal back in the day), a box of chocolate covered cherries (that my dog got into and puked up everywhere), one of those two halves of a heart necklace that we each could wear, and something else, maybe one of his jerseys? Honestly I don’t know what I gave him. We lasted until just after the holidays.

    I agree with Rhett – no menstruation related gifts (as much as that might come in handy). I still go for a mushy sweet card and something she’s into (a stuffed animal of her favorite, a book by her favorite author) but not anything too extravagant.

  82. “He should figure this out (important life skill to figure out what kinds of things to gift a romantic interest).”

    DW would (rightly, IMO) claim I still haven’t figured that out.

  83. Rocky – if you can handle the violence, watch Narcos (Seasons 1 & 2 of the original are better than the following seasons; I have not looked into the new Narcos Mexico yet) to brush up on your Spanish. You’ll certainly be fluent in Colombian swear words after season 2.

  84. S&M – 20 years ago, I gave DH a small key chain. I don’t remember why, but we were only just dating. I had his car yesterday and went looking for a pen in the console. I found that key chain. Obviously it means something to him after all these years (or he never cleans out his car even when he gets a new one… but I’m going with the former*).

    Gifts don’t need to be large. ‘Saac can find something small to say “I thought of you” and it would be enough.

    *yet this is the same man who can’t remember to send his wife flowers or something on her birthday when he was out of town. Or really give her flowers ever. :/

  85. Regarding the gift – I agree about looking at what others are giving/receiving, figuring out what is “normal” in a given social group is helpful. Also, he should focus on her and her closest friends posts as that is most relevant. Cost should not be the primary factor – it can be thoughtful and within a budget.

    My DD#2’s friend group gives each other birthday presents. I am always surprised by what she picks out (usually because it flows through the Amazon account), but they always seem to be right on target with the friend.

  86. Rhett, I was hoping that would bring a volley of counter-suggestions. Clearly I don’t know how this blog thing works.

    SM, you’re usually the one complaining about people not being direct.

  87. OK. So I got some GREAT* news. I applied for a leadership program in my state. It’s highly competitive and I was pretty sure I had close to zero chance. I GOT IN! I honestly am shocked and happy and wow. I was recommended by my company to apply as a way to increase my leadership skills and visibility within the state (so probably more networking). I am one of the few (maybe only) scientist in the cohort, so that’s pretty cool.

    *caveat… it’s super expensive. My company offered to pay a portion, I have a portion, and I got assistance through the program. I’m within $1000 of the full tuition. Gah. I have to talk to my boss today about it and see if we can ask for a bit more from the company. Whatever’s left… could I have a totebag fundraiser? (she asks jokingly… kinda).

  88. SM: Just have your DS pick out something from Lush. It’s an expensive store but a few bath bombs should be affordable. It signals luxury and thoughtfulness, without breaking the bank.

  89. Rhode – Congrats! A friend got into a similar program in our state and was in a similar situation. Her employer wanted her to have some financial skin in the game because in addition to $$ it was time demanding and their experience was people who were fully funded would not always make the program top priority. She negotiated a deal where if she paid a certain amount initially, but then if she met certain criteria (like 95% participation at every event) they would reimburse her a percentage of what she paid in. Not sure if that will work for you.

  90. Thank you! NoB – you may not want to promise me anything! But I do appreciate the sentiment.

    Austin – that’s a good idea! I’ll keep that in mind.

    My boss is teleworking, so I have a call with her after my lunch meeting. We’ll see what happens.

  91. TC Mama – DH and I also really enjoyed BBC’s Bodyguard. It was fun watching something together. Also I love BBC casting – actors who look like real people without tons of plastic surgery. And women – with real roles! Not just girlfriends/wives! Older than 20-something!

  92. When my current husband was in his twenties he had a girlfriend he was crazy about and she was beautiful. For an occasion gift he chose a weeks pay expensive gift A gold leaf enhanced edition medieval illustrated Book. She burst into unhappy tears. An early gift to me when courting was an expensive stained glass lamp. I was 50 so I just smiled. A romantic gift should be personal and usually wearable.

  93. A show suggestion: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Amazon. The set design and clothing are great, too. Season 2 starts 12/5, so you won’t have long to wait for the next episode.

  94. Congrats Rhode !

    Speaking of girl jewelry, DH saw DD’s twisted wave ring. He jokingly took it and said “Are you wearing a paper clip ?”. “Noo, Daddy”, it’s a twisted wave (and I might add for $30, it was an expensive paper clip – my gift to her).

  95. RMS, we’ve watched the first couple episodes of Ministerio del Tiempo. It’s good, but there are some odd things about it — don’t want to be too specific b/c spoilers, so I’ll just say I find it odd that Amelia doesn’t seem to feel at all awkward around Irene.

  96. HM, yeah, I agree. But then it’s also weird that she just abandoned her upbringing the minute she met Lope de Vega, you know? I think you kind of have to roll with it.

  97. I mean, apparently Lope was quite the player. I hadn’t known this, but then again my familiarity with Lope de Vega actually comes mainly secondhand via a Georgette Heyer novel. (I still love those, don’t @ me.)

  98. It actually reminded me of the episode of Young Indiana Jones wherein Puccini almost seduces Young Indy’s mother. I googled and found that yeah, Puccini was totally like that. Better to love the music than the man, perhaps.

  99. honolulumother – I love Georgette Heyer! Barnes & Noble had a display of her books once, and I picked one up. I then read nearly all of her novels over the next year. I should go back and read them again.

    seattlesoccermom – good point on the casting. I didn’t consciously realize that the women looked more real until you said it.

  100. Gifts gone wrong is a great topic.

    If he asks for suggestions, I’ll suggest Lush, with Houston’s explanation of “luxury and thoughtfulness, without breaking the bank”. Rings and bracelets might not work so well; I saw her today for the second time, and realized that one of her arms is quite short, with .25” fingers, without joints. I felt bad for not having noticed the first time I met her, til Isaac said he didn’t notice until the second time they hung out.

  101. “Or really give her flowers ever. :/”

    The problem with flowers is they die, then you throw them away.

    I prefer to buy jewelry or stuffed animals. They can be more lasting reminders that one doesn’t always forget certain special occasions.

  102. they die, then you throw them away.

    We have more polite terms…but that’s what will happen to all of us. Which is the point behind the flowers.

  103. I buy myself flowers now that DH doesn’t any more. That went the way of the dodo when we had kids – he used to get them for Valentine’s Day and my birthday…sigh!

  104. Maybe too late to post here.
    New iPhone max. Useful or waste of money?

    I have an iPhone 6s Plus that works just fine.

    I want the new iPhone but have a hard time justifying the price tag. What would I get if not the iPhone? Maybe some jewelry or add to upcoming travel.

  105. I want the new iPhone but have a hard time justifying the price tag.

    With the addition of screen time monitoring I now see that I use it about 2 hours today per day. At that rate, the cost per hour is very low.

    How about getting it as a gift for Christmas? Personally I love giving gifts that are going to get a lot of use.

  106. “New iPhone max. Useful or waste of money? ”

    Given that your 6s plus works fine, probably both.

    I’d wait to get a new phone, but delaying gratification is something I do pretty well.

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