Shared posts

21 Sep 11:45

Kof-tot curry: My recipe for potato kofta curry using tater tots

by JM Hoover

kofta

The other day I was pinning Indian food recipes and ran across a few for potato kofta curry. Kofta is basically a type of Indian meatball made with lamb or beef. Since we eat meatless meals most nights, I was more interested in the veggie recipes. Potato koftas are made with riced potatoes, onions and spices. Most of the recipes I read went through the painstaking instructions of how to make these potato balls… I read through them and realized, "They are just making tater tots!"

I've been known to scoff at home made tater tots in all shapes and sizes so I decided that I'd make my own version of potato kofta for our lunches this week… "kof-tot curry."

Warning: Don't serve my potato kofta curry to any Indian food purists… they will laugh you out of the kitchen. Do make it if you want a quick and hearty meat free meal that makes excellent leftovers. It's probably the most glamorous way I've ever eaten tater tots…

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of unseasoned tater tots (I used 365 brand from Whole Foods)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 and ½ cups of water
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can of tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt, cream or cream cheese (I used yogurt.)
  • 1 cup of mixed greens ( I used frozen kale and collards from our CSA. Any veggies you like will work fine.)
  • 1 can of garbanzos

Directions:

  1. For the koftas: Bake tater tots as directed on the tot bag. Do not fry them or add oil or salt.
  2. Combine spices with ½ cup of water.
  3. Cook your onions in olive oil until translucent.
  4. Add the garlic until and cook until everything is starting to turn golden.
  5. Add the spice water, and stir.
  6. Add tomato paste, water, and greens. Stir until all items are combined and the tomato sauce is not clumpy.
  7. Drain and rinse your garbanzos and add them to the pan.
  8. Let simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the sauce thickens and the greens are cooked.
  9. Add dairy and mix gently. (Or omit this, up to you, it does make it creamier.)
  10. Once your tots, I mean, "koftas," are done you can add them to the sauce. Eat a few off the pan to make sure tater tots are still delicious. They are! Let them sit to absorb the sauce.

At this point I put them in mason jars in the fridge for lunches in the week but you can also heat it back up and serve it. More time marinating with the rest of the curry makes it more delicious.

Recent Comments

  • Trystan: OMG GENIUS!!! I'm trying this for sure 🙂 [Link]
  • Colleen: I cannot WAIT to try this! [Link]

Join the discussion

16 Sep 11:45

What do you pack for lunch?

by Alissa
Kristen

YESSSSSSS Worst adult struggle, for reals.

Unicorn Universal Neoprene Sleeve Lunch Bag
Unicorn Universal Neoprene Sleeve Lunch Bag
At the grand old age of 35 I'm still figuring out how to be an adult, and I think I'm learning that all of adulthood is probably faking it…

One thing I wish someone had warned me of is that one of the hardest parts will be feeding yourself. Plan food, buy food, cook food, eat food, clean up after food, and repeat over and over forever.

A challenge I've had for years is… I just don't know what to pack for lunch at the office. I struggle to get going in the morning, and some things, if packed the night before, get soggy. I often end up throwing a yogurt in my bag along with a scoop of this soup recipe in tupperware. Then I keep a box of dry cereal under my desk for if I'm still hungry. PBJ and an apple work their way in there from time to time as well.

Homies, what do you pack for lunch?

Share your lunch bag with us in the comments!

Recent Comments

  • Ky: Lunch at the office is the WORST! Here is the only thing that works for me. I am… [Link]
  • Kadence: I have no idea, but even so, you could put half in the freezer and do just one week at… [Link]
  • Kamea: This is what I do. If we have leftovers from grilling (burgers, brats, chicken, whatever) I'll bag up some for… [Link]
  • Rebecca: I do something similar and call it my "sushi bowl". I take all my favorite sushi roll fillings, or whatever… [Link]
  • Ange: I make a batch of soup in the crockpot (all the vegetables left in the fridge from the week before… [Link]

+ 59 more! Join the discussion

15 Sep 00:30

Pine + Main

by Ana White
Kristen

Well, this is exciting!

UPDATE: We are experiencing unexpectedly high traffic volumes on Pine + Main and are working hard to get the site restored.  Thank you for your patience.  

UPDATE 2: We are back up!  Thank you for all the interest in Pine + Main!

 

 

Many years ago, when I first started blogging, someone once commented that they hoped I would grow and get big someday, because they knew I'd do something good with the opportunity.

That comment has stuck with me through the years, and has kept me restless.  I've felt guilty, and could not be happy with just personal work success.  I needed to do more with this opportunity I'd been given.

For a long time I believed that simply meant reaching more people, and empowering them with more DIY inspiration.  So I spent many years concentrating on creating more plans and reaching more people through blogging, social media, tradditional media and television opportunities. 

DIY is such a good thing.  Not only are you able to create something useful and beautiful for your home, but you can do it for pennies on the dollar using the most local of all materials - wood.  The more people building furniture for themselves, the less freight ships barging it around the world.  

So when more and more bloggers began creating plans, I embraced it, happy more of us were spreading the DIY message, more plans were being shared, and more people were being inspired.  

I, for a good moment, thought that there would never be a piece of furniture bought again.

Boy, was I wrong.  

People were buying more furniture than ever.  

But not from big box stores or fancy catalogs.  

Nope.  

They were buying from the stay-at-home-mom, who made a coffee table, then a bed, then furnished her entire house, then started building for friends and family, and pretty soon had a six month waiting list. The dad who builds on weekends, the sisters who build together, the grandma that never knew she could use tools - people who understand why local furniture matters, why handmade is so great, and care about their communities, are buying their furniture from local makers.

I have always been a fan of the professional makers - many years ago, I myself used to earn extra income for our family by making custom furnishings.  It was a way I could help, doing something that I loved, that directly affected our family's bottom line.  I eventually transitioned into plan creation because it was easier for me to share plans than to set up and run an ecommerce website, find new customers and deal with marketing, when I really only had time to build.  

I believe the problem still exists today.  There are many makers - and many thousands more buyers - but we are still lacking an easy to use, trusted solution that makes finding a locally available, handmade table or a custom-sized dresser as simple as ubering a ride or buying a hand knitted scarf.  

I'm so excited to formally share with you Pine + Main - built from the ground up to support the local maker, to celebrate community, and to always consider sustainability.  

It is with great joy that I invite you to visit, let me know what you think, and be a part of this new venture.

Let's make furniture local again!

Ana

 

VISIT PINE + MAIN

 

 

 

13 Sep 20:38

Polyamory Problems: How Do You Tell Your Coworker You Live With Your Boyfriend and His Girlfriend?

Polyamory Problems: How Do You Tell Your Coworker You Live With Your Boyfriend and His Girlfriend?:

Check out this article Lux Alptraum interviewed me for.
As Wolf sums it up, “Sometimes when I mention polyamory, people are like, ‘I don’t want to hear about your sex life.’ But that response does not happen if someone monogamous says, ‘I have a fiancé.’ People’s natural response isn’t, ‘Whoa, dude, too much information!’”

14 Sep 11:45

How to make delicious, clean-eating-worthy, instant oatmeal in no time at all!

by Camille Haviland
My DIY instant oatmeal
Just add hot water to these few ingredients and you can make homemade instant oatmeal without all the added sugar and chemicals. You will be blown away by how easy it is!

Oatmeal has a lot of soothing properties both for your skin and digestive system. It's packed with soluble fiber (the kind that keeps everything moving without the cramping), it is a good source of iron, it contains naturally occurring heart-healthy fats, and even has some protein! Although despite it's comforting texture and subtle flavor, it is notorious for being a little bland.

Most dishes require multiple steps in order to create layers of flavor, but not oatmeal, this breakfast is one dish that actually benefits from a one step process!

When you think about it, dry oats turn into oatmeal by absorbing whatever liquid is added to it, therefore adding the flavor during the cooking process means all of that flavor is going to end up inside of the grains instead of just laying on top. The problem with instant oatmeal is that almost a third of that little packet is sugar, and more than half of the ingredients listed are artificial flavors, chemicals, and preservatives. Not exactly clean eating for a food that is so naturally good for you!

The solution here is to make your own instant oatmeal!

I know what you're thinking, is it really "instant" if I have to make it myself? There may be a lot of info here, but trust me, once you get the hang of it the prep is so easy a three year old could do it! It will take you less time to make this oatmeal than it will take to read this article.

Of course you could take like ten minutes on the weekend to prepare a few of these ahead of time. Although when I was a commuter I was one of those people who woke up, no joke, 15 minutes before I had to leave the house and I would whip these up in less than a minute as I was running out the door. The most difficult part of the whole process was finding the correct lid to match my container (in retrospect ziplock bags probably would have helped).

What You Will Need:

  • Hot water source
  • Spoon
  • Container for dry ingredients (if traveling)
  • Heat-safe bowl or mug — This is what you will be cooking your oatmeal in. At work I always just used a coffee cup with a lid, any mug or bowl is fine as long as it can take the heat.

Ingredients:

DIYOatmealPrep

Quick cooking oats
Make sure that you buy quick cooking oats rather than old fashioned or steel cut oats. The "quick cooking" is the "instant" part of this trick! Also pro tip: a big container of oats costs way less in the long run than those individual instant packs.

Sweetener
I enjoy a teaspoon of raw sugar (you could also use brown sugar, maple sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, whatever you have on hand. Granulated white sugar will work in a pinch but it won't give you the best flavor). Or if you're not too strict about clean eating and low-cal or artificial sweeteners are your thing, that's fine too!

The spices
For a single serving you only need about a 1/4 or 1/8 of a teaspoon. These are things you probably already have in your pantry, any ground or powdered flavoring you would use for baking will work: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, allspice, clove, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder, espresso powder, etc.

Optional

  • A dash of salt is always included in more traditional oatmeal recipes.
  • Some people prefer milk to water, you could absolutely heat milk (or any kind of non-dairy milk) and substitute as the cooking liquid. Or if it's easier use a little less hot water and mix in a splash of milk after it's cooked.
  • Textural add-ins are also great! Fruit (dried, fresh or frozen), nuts, flax or chia seeds, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, etc.
  • You could add a scoop of protein powder, or for a cleaner protein try a spoonful of any organic nut butter (which also adds a beautiful richness).

Serving size:

One serving of plain quick cooking oats is 1/2 cup, whereas one package of instant oatmeal is about 1/4 cup (much smaller serving because the amount of sweetener they use adds SO many calories). Personally I'm somewhere in between, one packet is not enough but two is too much. 

Serving size is probably the most difficult part, however have no fear I did all the math for you!

1/4c oats (1 packet) = 1/2c water (4oz)
1/3c oats (1.5 packets) = 3/4c water (6oz)
1/2c oats (2 packets) = 1c water (8oz)
3/4c oats (3 packets) = 1-1/2c water (12oz)

Instructions

DIYOatmealMake

1. Prep: Combine dry ingredients.
For travel: Take your oatmeal plus any dry sweeteners and additions place them in a travel container. Seal and shake to combine.
For home: Place your dry ingredients into your mug or bowl and stir to combine.

2. Measure: I love using the Keurig for this because the water comes out piping hot and perfectly measured! They are programed for standard tea cup, coffee mug, ad travel mug sizes so the small setting is 6 oz, medium is 8 oz, and large is 12 oz.

Cook: Put it all together. Either pour hot water over the dry ingredients and let it stand covered for a few minutes, or mix everything together and then microwave.

Add mix-ins: Liquid sweeteners and any other flavorings can go in now. Keep mix-ins that you want to stay crunchy out until after cooking!

DIYOatmealStore

Flavor combos

As far as flavors go, you can create your own combinations or try to emulate some of your favorite packet flavors. It might take a few runs to adjust the flavors to your taste, but he possibilities are endless! If you're not sure where to start here are some of my suggestions:

  • Lightly Spiced: Raw sugar, cinnamon, ginger.
  • Apple-Cinnamon: Raw sugar, cinnamon, dried apples.
  • Maple-Brown Sugar: This one is pretty self-explanatory.
  • Banana-Nut: Honey, chopped walnuts, sliced banana.
  • Cherry-Almond: Raw sugar, almond extract, dried cherries, slivered almonds.
  • Cranberry-Pecan: Brown sugar, dried cranberries, chopped pecans.
  • Blue Razzberry: Honey, frozen blueberries, frozen raspberries.
  • Oatmeal Cookie: Honey, cinnamon, raisins.
  • Chocolate Chip Cookie: Light brown sugar, vanilla extract, chocolate chips.
  • Speculoos Cookie: Spoonful of cookie butter.
  • Nutty Brownie: Honey, cocoa powder, chopped walnuts.
  • Mexican Hot Chocolate: Raw sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, splash of milk.
  • Chocolate Hazelnut: Chopped hazelnuts, spoonful of Nutella.
  • Chocolate PB: Cocoa powder, spoonful of peanut butter.
  • Almond Protein: Honey, spoonful of almond butter.
  • Fluffernutter: Spoonfull of marshmallow fluff, spoonful of any nut butter.
  • Pumpkin Spice: Maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice.
  • Apple Pie: Honey, cinnamon, fresh diced apples.
  • Strawberries and Cream: Honey, fresh diced strawberries, splash of milk.
  • Peaches and Cream: Raw sugar, cinnamon, fresh diced peaches, splash of milk.

DIYOatmealPretty

Et voila! Super simple, super healthy, super delicious instant oatmeal in a matter of minutes!

Recent Comments

  • Anna: Excellent oatmeal recipe! 😀 I love the Chocolate Hazelnut flavour but I use much more than spoonful… [Link]
  • enchanted: That's more or less what I do, except I don't peel the apples (you'll have little bits of peel in… [Link]
  • wednesday: It was more like jam, but not very dark... I'll check apple butter too anyway, thanks for the suggestion 🙂 [Link]
  • H.A: That's probably apple butter? More like jam, dark color? [Link]
  • Wednesday: Oh i see! Yeah, i actually do that all the time. I thought applesauce was some kind of smooth preserve,… [Link]

+ 17 more! Join the discussion

31 Jul 22:10

Ask Lilly: Can I Put My Sex Toy in the Dishwasher?

by Lilly

DishwasherFor people with a lot of dildos and butt plugs, there’s a really fast way to sanitize your sex toys: The dishwasher. But this cleaning method isn’t as straightforward as it seems! There are some rules and tips that must be followed, but first I want to talk about something important: sanitizing versus sterilizing and how your dishwasher fits into it. Sterilizing means that you are killing ALL living organisms, whereas sanitizing is killing “most” – enough to make things safe for public consumption. When we are talking about cleaning, there’s cleaning (removing dirt and fluids and cat hair), then sanitizing, then disinfecting, then sterilizing. To understand more about this, read this article on sanitizing and disinfecting, and this article on disinfecting vs sterilizing.

Not All Materials Can Handle It

You want to stick with sex toy materials that can handle the heat – silicone, metal, and borosillicate glass (not soda lime!!). You shouldn’t put the more delicate (porous) materials like softened PVC, TPR, “jelly”, rubber, or other similar  materials into the dishwasher, as they wouldn’t be able to withstand the heat from the sanitize cycle (not that I believe it would work, anyways, because I don’t believe those materials can ever be sanitized). Which brings us to the next important point…

It’s Not About Cleaning, It’s About Sanitizing – Which isn’t Sterilizing or Disinfecting

If your toys are covered in dried lube, bodily fluids, etc then give them a quick wash with mild soap and water, first. Next, load your sex toys into the top rack. Finally, make sure you choose the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher. Don’t have a sanitize cycle? Then don’t bother using the dishwasher. If your dishwasher has a sanitizing setting then it uses an extended hot-water rinse to kill bacteria only – it will not kill viruses or fungi. The National Sanitation Foundation has a standard named NSF/ANSI Standard 184; this means that dishwashers with this certification kill 99.99% of bacteria on this “sanitize” setting. This certification states that the dishwasher’s “sanitize” setting also must reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit during that final rinse. I expected it to be higher, so this means that boiling can potentially kill more things. Even if your dishwasher has a “sanitize” setting, if it isn’t certified then it probably doesn’t reach 150 degrees. Using the dishwasher is primarily to sanitize in larger quantities, rather than just cleaning. If you’re using the toys solo and aren’t currently battling an outbreak, a mild soap and water wash in your kitchen sink or bathtub will do the job just fine in my opinion. Let’s also consider this point: using the “sanitize” setting on the dishwasher uses a lot more energy than a normal dishwasher cycle.

Never Use Detergent

Dishwasher detergent is abrasive and you really don’t want it mingling with your sex toys. This means that the sex toys don’t get tossed in with your dirty dishes, either. One reader asked me about adding a bit of bleach to the cycle, instead: I don’t recommend this. It’s not needed plus many dishwashers advise against it – heated bleach, even if it’s not heated to boiling, is pretty caustic. 

Vibrators Stand Alone

Sorry vibes, you can’t join this party. The heat of the sanitize cycle will probably damage the electronics, even if the vibrator is sealed in silicone and is labeled “waterproof”. It’s just not a risk I’m comfortable telling you to take.

 

 

Copyright 2008-2014 Dangerous Lilly - If you see this content anywhere other than valid feed readers, it's been scraped illegally and without my consent. If you see this on someone else's blog, it was scraped illegally. RSS feeds are still my property - scraping them is still illegal and a violation. Copyright violators will be hunted down and beaten with a spiked metal ball. But since they're stupid and will include even this portion, I might as well invite you to my real sex blog where you can read about sex toys and get to know me.

2190vnkl329508vdnkl532ga875215b)

The post Ask Lilly: Can I Put My Sex Toy in the Dishwasher? appeared first on Dangerous Lilly.

11 Sep 16:00

Travel tip/Brain apps/Frownies/InstantWatcher

by cc

Travel tip:
The cheapest bargain of any overseas vacation is the $25 for the travel guidebook, so I always get the latest version. And I have no qualms about cutting it up. I get the large country-scale guide, and then with a razor blade knife I excise only the portions I could possibly use (photo above). Then I staple and bind with clear packing tape for very durable, and lightweight, thin booklets. — KK

Watchable:
Les Revenants (The Returned) is a French supernatural television series (with English subtitles) that my wife and I are enjoying. The first episode opens with a terrible school bus accident in the alps that leaves 38 children dead. Four years later, some of the children return home, un-aged and unharmed. Spooky and fun. — MF

Apps:
I’ve been enjoying using both Peak and Elevate brain-training apps for about a month now. While Elevate has more challenging writing and math exercises that actually teach you as you go, Peak’s problem solving puzzles are addictive, and I get a greater sense of accomplishment after completing them. Plus, I really enjoy competing against previous scores and watching my “brain map” grow. Here’s a good comparison review. — CL

Follow:
For pithy brilliant insight into the contours of our digital future, I’m following Benedict Evans on Twitter, and I subscribe to his weekly newsletter. He is creative, quantitative, plausible and fun. — KK

Tool:
I often get sinus headaches and sometimes when I fall asleep with a headache, I will wake up with deep wrinkles from brow furrowing throughout the night. Frownies helps to prevent these from forming. I’ve already gone through a box and will continue reordering. — CL

Service:
I’m a Netflix subscriber, but the built-in title browsing isn’t great. I use instantwatcher.com, which lets you browse and search shows and movies in many different ways. — MF

Want to get our next Recomendo a week early in your inbox? Sign up for next Sunday newsletter here.

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Lamar

08 Sep 19:09

[UPDATED] Exclusive Interview: Comic Creator Katie O’Neill Talks About Her Work, Announces Next Project With Oni Press

by Teresa Jusino

the-tea-dragon-society_greta_oni-press-watermark

 

If you’re a fan of web comics, you’ve probably already seen Katie O’Neill’s work. Her latest hardcover collection Princess Princess Ever After (which I reviewed earlier this morning), started life as a web comic on her popular Tumblr. Today, O’Neill’s is announcing exclusively through TMS, her next original project with Oni Press!

Oni Press will be publishing a new, original graphic novel by O’Neill called The Tea Dragon Society! In it, a talented young blacksmith named Greta (pictured in the character study above) meets the head of The Tea Dragon Society, a small group who practice the lost art of tea dragon husbandry. So, what the heck are tea dragons? I don’t know, but with O’Neill drawing them, I bet they’re cute as hell.

Also cute as hell is the rest of this world! Oni Press has provided TMS with an exclusive first look at The Tea Dragon Society, which you can check out in the gallery below! [UPDATE at 4:45PM: in addition to the preview below, O’Neill has a website for The Tea Dragon Society, and will be posting a 5-page sneak peak on September 14.]


You are seeing this message because you have javascript disabled. To use our slideshows you need to enable javascript. There's no cross domain hackery or tracking voodoo, it's just some sweet jQuery animations. Please, think of the animations.

In the meantime, enjoy the html version below. I guess. If that's your thing.


  1. The Tea Dragon Society 1 The Tea Dragon Society 1 Character study of Greta. Art by Katie O'Neill.
  2. The Tea Dragon Society 2 The Tea Dragon Society 2 Character study of Minette. Art by Katie O'Neill.
  3. The Tea Dragon Society 3 The Tea Dragon Society 3 Preview page 1 By Katie O'Neill.
  4. The Tea Dragon Society 4 The Tea Dragon Society 4 Preview page 2 By Katie O'Neill.

[View All on One Page]

Oni also gave us the opportunity of an exclusive interview with O’Neill about Princess Princess, The Tea Dragon Society, and what she hopes readers find in her work.

Teresa Jusino (TMS): Princess Princess Ever After was already a popular webcomic. Why is it important that it’s now been collected in hardcover, and why did you choose to partner with Oni Press?

Katie O’Neill: Webcomics are a wonderful medium that allows all kinds of stories to exist and be read freely, which is something that really motivates and excites me. However, there’s a different kind of accessibility and visibility that comes with a book, particularly one that is in easy reach of kids’ hands in school and public libraries, and in the children’s section of book stores. Princess Princess Ever After is a story I wish I’d had growing up, so accessibility for children is very important to me. Happily, I’ve also had lots of stories of older fans sharing the webcomic with their young relatives via tablets etc, which is really cool too.

When Oni Press reached out to me, I jumped at the chance to work with them. I’d heard that they’re very respectful of the creators and properties they work with, which I have found to absolutely be the case! It’s been amazing working with the whole team to bring this book out into the world, and I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity.

TMS: Inclusiveness seems to be very important to you. What fueled your decision to not only create LGBTQIA characters in Princess Princess, but to also have characters of color in both that story and in the upcoming Tea Dragon Society? How, if at all, does that affect your story?

O’Neill: Inclusiveness is definitely very important to me, I feel it’s only natural that comics (and all media!) should reflect the diversity of the world around us. I try to do my part by supporting works and anthologies by a diverse range of creators, and portraying different identities while being aware of not writing something that I haven’t experienced and isn’t my story to tell. The most authentic stories about a particular identity can only come from those who have lived it. Instead, I try to look towards universal human experiences, emotions, problems and situations and base my story writing off those.

TMS: Since we’re announcing The Tea Dragon Society today, I’d love for you to briefly tell me in your own words what the basic plot is, and then tell me what inspired you to tell this particular story next?

O’Neill: The Tea Dragon Society is about a young blacksmith apprentice, Greta, who is learning her craft but isn’t entirely sure what use it has in modern society. When she encounters a tea dragon and becomes closer to those who raise them and grow their tea, she learns about the dying art form and how it enriches the lives of those she meets—and eventually her own. With the experiences and the memories she makes, she begins to wonder if there’s a value in craft all of its own.

The idea definitely started with the Tea Dragons themselves, and then developing ideas about their lore and husbandry, and then wondering who would go to such lengths for a good cup of tea? Keeping traditions and crafts alive is also very important to me, and in making a children’s graphic novel I hoped kids would start thinking about the different crafts they encounter in their lives that they could play a part in keeping modern and thriving.

TMS: I’ve been falling more and more in love with all-ages comics lately. What do you think is important about the existence of quality, all-ages stories? What do you enjoy about telling stories that can be read by younger readers? What do you hope they get out of your stories?

O’Neill: I think all-ages comics have a magic and charm that lies in being able to come back to them over and over again, in different stages throughout your life, taking away something different. I think when you read and love something as a child, reading it again as an adult will always take you back to that moment in your childhood, and hopefully, help you remember what made you happy then.

As much as I do have themes and ideas that I’d like to convey with my stories, the bottom line is that I hope younger readers enjoy them! I hope they laugh at my jokes and love the characters, and maybe be inspired to write their own stories and adventures one day. Both of these books have strong LGBTQIA themes, so I do also hope they help normalise all kinds of family dynamics and personal identities for kids just starting to figure things out.

TMS: I always marvel at people who both write and draw their own stories, as I’m a writer who can only draw stick figures! Do you consider yourself an artist first? A writer first? Or are you always both?

O’Neill: I find it pretty hard to un-link the two! Whenever I sit down to do some doodles in my sketchbook, it always ends up with me constructing little stories in my head about the subject or place I’m drawing. Likewise, when I write prose, I write so visually that I might as well draw it anyway. Though recently I’ve been more interested in drawing for its own sake (like landscapes, patterns, freestanding illustrations), I still like for it to be connected to a larger narrative, theme, idea or purpose.

TMS: Tell me why you think comics fans should pick up The Tea Dragon Society when it comes out? Who do you think will love this book?

O’Neill: The Tea Dragon Society is an absolute labour of love for me, and I’m so happy to have poured as much of my interests in as possible into one story. I feel the most pride when I create a story where I want to introduce the characters to everyone like a member of the family, to watch and see how people will react to certain moments and developments, and that’s absolutely what this book is to me. It’s a very warm and comforting story, I think that anyone who loves Ghibli films, Animal Crossing games or slice-of-life stories will feel at home with The Tea Dragon Society.


 

Princess Princess Ever After is out in hardcover now. The Tea Dragon Society is set for release in November 2017. 

(image via Oni Press)

Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Follow The Mary Sue on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, & Google+.

08 Sep 20:00

5 Tips for Mastering Lunch: Build to Last All Week — Meal Planning Lessons

by Kelli Foster

In my home, meal planning goes beyond dinner. Just as important as making the week run like a smooth, well-oiled machine, is lunch prep. Unlike dinner, I tackle my midday meal by preparing a whole week's worth of lunches in one fell swoop. These are the five ways I make it happen, and how you can do it too.

READ MORE »

08 Sep 20:30

How Do You Use Your Bullet Journal to Meal Plan? — On Trend

by Ariel Knutson
Kristen

Hmmmmm

(Image credit: @that_journal)

Since last December, you might have heard a lot of people talk about bullet journaling. There's a whole website dedicated to the concept, and a clever video that breaks down the whole process. In its basic form, a bullet diary combines a to-do list, a diary, and planner. It helps you keep track of what you need to do that day, and also helps you plan for things you want to accomplish in the future. There are many additions you can add to your bullet journal. I love this one on tracking your mental health, and this one for tracking your hobbies.

This got me thinking, however: Could a bullet journal make you a better meal planner? And what would that even look like in the bullet journaling universe?

READ MORE »

08 Sep 15:52

#896: “One wedding, one funeral, and a crapton of sibling conflict.”

by JenniferP
Kristen

Oh man, just this bit is relevant for recent events:

"Even when removed from the realm of the petty or the emotionally searing, different mediums foster different kinds of interactions, for instance, the Person-You-Like-At-Parties-And-Dislike-On-Facebook or that colleague who is super affable and reasonable in person, but then you email him a request and discover that in writing he is The Amazing Bureaucrat Man, Who Only Says No, but if you run the exact same request by him in person, he’s like “Sure, let’s do it?” so you learn to always ask in person first and then follow up in email only once the request has been verbally granted. "

Dear Captain Awkward,

My brother died suddenly in an accident in May. He was my only full sibling. The only sibling I grew up with and lived with. I also have 3 older half siblings from my father’s first marriage- we’re not super close, we see each other at holidays and text quarterly updates. After the funeral, I had to plan my wedding happening just 8 weeks after my brother’s death. The trouble starts when I am texting with T (the oldest half sister) and say that I am having a hard time because my mother is emotionally unavailable due to her grief. T has a tense relationship with my mother and uses this moment to tell me how unreasonably angry my mother was acting when she last saw her. I am LIVID and stop responding. T says “sorry, it just made her sad.” I lose a day of wedding planning to being angry and trying to figure out how to respond. I give up and send no reply.

In the following weeks, T sends a message explaining her behaviour and then tells me that I am acting unacceptably. I tell her that I need some time and space. My other sister K is sent to get some answers and I tell her to mind her own business. T gives me 10 days and then tells me I’m being abusive and I’m just mad because her siblings are alive and mine is dead, that everyone was at her wedding and my brother won’t be at mine. She doesn’t want to come to my wedding because she’s not sure if I even love her anymore. I tell her that needing space was about me not her. At this time she also makes a plea to my parents to get them to make me talk with her- they say she should just leave me alone. My father sobs and begs T to attend the wedding.

At the wedding, T shows up late and leaves early. I generally avoid them and have a fine time. After the wedding she blocks me and my parents on facebook and gets her husband and mother to do the same. I text T that I am available to talk now, but understand if she needs space. No response. I text K and say apologize for being snappy and telling her to mind her own business. She blasts back demanding I take responsibility for everything – for making my “wedding into a battle ground”, shattering all of the relationships, and “single handedly tearing our grieving family apart”. I’m at a loss. Am I selfish? Are they? How much of this is my fault? Should I just cut my losses? Help?

-One wedding and a funeral

(Preferred pronouns she-her)

Dear One Wedding,

I am so very sorry for the loss of your brother, how awful! There would never be a good time for something like that to happen, but to have that grief overshadowing such a happy, huge life event seems like a special sort of hell. I am mentally hugging you and petting your hair right now, unless of course you don’t like that sort of thing. And making you tea (or coffee, or hot chocolate, or something cold, if you’d prefer). And piling good-and-not-too-stressful books by your bed.

What you 100% did not need and do not need is to be the dumping ground for all of  T’s complicated feelings about family during an already stressful time for you. I guarantee that you did not “make your wedding into a battleground” and you are not “singlehandedly tearing our grieving family apart” or “being abusive.” I think you were right to tell K. to stay out of it and you didn’t do anything wrong by asking for a little space. This all sounds like some grade A, level 1 projection on T’s part, and I don’t think talking more to either T. or K. about any of it more right now is going to fix things. What would actually fix things is T. saying “I’m so sorry I made everything about me, I’ve been acting like an ass.” I don’t think that apology is coming any time soon. In the meantime, you’ve tried to mend fences where you could, and now it’s time to give yourself permission to let this all drop. A victory here, given the looming winter holidays, might be “Did not get into emotionally difficult conversations with T. about family stuff. Managed to exchange brief pleasantries over pie and chill with the rest of the family = +100 Points To Gryffindor/Me.”

One script for when T. eventually wants to talk it all out (but only focus on what you did “wrong” and not apologize) could be:

a) Have the FIGHT, already.Here’s what this all looks like from my perspective: [Brother] died, and then when I tried to talk to you about some stuff with Mom you used it to grind an axe you have with her, and then you acted like coming to my wedding was suddenly a gigantic chore and made a big hassle for me and our parents about it and made me feel like a jerk for needing a little space to grieve. Then you sent K. to get in the middle of it, which was NOT cool. And then you’ve been saying this stuff about how I’m ‘tearing our family apart,’ which is just…incorrect? I do not want to fight with you anymore, but some of the stuff you’ve said has really hurt my feelings.”

She’ll react how she reacts. Maybe it will clear the air for you to get this all out there and not just be on the receiving end of it. Being the “bigger person” all the time can be vastly overrated.

b) Refuse to have the fight.T., it was a really messed up time, and I don’t actually want to talk about it anymore. Let’s let bygones be bygones and try to enjoy each other’s company without going into all that. I’m really glad to see you, and I really don’t want to fight.

It’s not the same as “I forgive you for acting like an asshole when my brother died and being a big weirdo about my wedding” but “Sister, why won’t you tallllk to me, you’re tearing our family apaaaaart” isn’t the same as “I apologize for acting like an asshole when your brother died and being a jerk about coming to your wedding.” Letting the argument die might help the relationship thaw, with some time and some new, positive interactions to chase the old, negative interactions out.

You seem like a “this specific thing is bugging me” sort of arguer and T. comes across as a “This specific thing is reminding me about how you ALWAYS are a BAD PERSON who is WRONG and I am telling EVERYONE” sort of fighter. Those two styles are not real compatible, so I really wish you luck in finding a way to talk about this that gets you what you need, which sounds like a respite from being T.’s personal scapegoat for everything wrong in your family.

One more suggestion going forward:

It sounds like T. + texting + You do not mix very well, especially around emotional topics, and that is some information you can use in the future.

Let me explain: Some people really prefer the distance & time delay of text conversations, and I get why, and in many circumstances doing things by email or letter can be really valuable for that reason. However, I find that texting, email, chat, etc.* can also be terrible ways to have contentious back-and-forth conversations with certain people about emotional stuff. There’s something about it that sucks me in so easily, the addictive chime of the incoming message, the “Oh yeah, howbout THIS?” retort, the fact that I type 100+ words/minute and can answer so quickly only to realize later that I was putting things in writing that would be passing, forgettable comments in a verbal fight except I’ve now written them in stone, to be read and re-read and dissected. Text message fights: All the savoring pleasures of grudge-holding with the immediate gratification of being right!

Even when removed from the realm of the petty or the emotionally searing, different mediums foster different kinds of interactions, for instance, the Person-You-Like-At-Parties-And-Dislike-On-Facebook or that colleague who is super affable and reasonable in person, but then you email him a request and discover that in writing he is The Amazing Bureaucrat Man, Who Only Says No, but if you run the exact same request by him in person, he’s like “Sure, let’s do it?” so you learn to always ask in person first and then follow up in email only once the request has been verbally granted. (Do other people have this colleague? No? Just me?)

I generally want to like people and have positive interactions with them, and sometimes little things like “I will walk the 10 feet to that person’s desk and talk about it instead of answering this email that annoyingly CC’d  our boss in kind” or “Let’s go to bed angry – I gotta sleep and so do you! – I trust we’ll figure this all out in the morning and I love you” and “I can tell this student is really upset and writing me these emails is stressing them out more, I’m gonna give them my cell # so we can talk for a minute” can make a big difference in how a conflict resolves itself.

Anyway, to bring it back to you, dear Letter Writer, you might be able to use this knowledge to help in de-escalating situations with T. and/or K. in the future. For one example, you might want to limit how much you use texts to communicate with them, especially now when things are messy. If you do text with them, you might make a personal rule to keep things light and reserve deeper topics are for a phone call or an in-person chat. As soon as something gets emotionally heavy, or you feel like they aren’t hearing you, or are escalating a conflict, it’s time to take a break from the conversation and move it to another venue. You can be explicit about it: “Hey, Sister, I feel like there is more we both want to say here than I can comfortably text – when’s a good time to call you?” or “Whoa, can’t chat right now, call me later?” You can also wait a while before responding to the text. It’s been a very hard & valuable lesson in my life that, just because someone used a fairly immediate mode of communication, it doesn’t mean I have to reply right now or engage with everything they said.”I got your message and I’m thinking about it” is a reasonable response that can de-escalate situations by giving everyone some breathing room and taking things out of the heat of the moment.

Obviously this doesn’t solve your whole problem, since T’s overall behavior and not Text Messaging is the culprit here, but in a situation where you can’t control very much this might give you one vector that you can control even if it’s just reminding yourself:”T’s being T. again, I don’t have to respond right this second.

Wishing you the best in your new marriage, in resolving these family conflicts (or at least de-escalating them so they aren’t all coming at YOU), and sending you condolences on the loss of your brother. I hope you are being very kind to yourself and that your spouse & friends are being very kind to you.❤

 

*See also: Internet comments, Tweets, other social media


31 Aug 18:22

On how it’s done

by The Coquette

Can you take off your headphones for a minute?

Fuck off.

03 Aug 15:04

Voting Libertarian? I hope you or your kids never get sick

by Dr. Jen Gunter

My thirteen-year old boys had an appointment this week. When we were done the provider who normally chats with me in that provider-to-provider way abruptly changed the conversation to tell me he finally deciding who was getting his vote. I was expecting this to be the lead in to some new Donald Trump joke. However, he showed me a map of the electoral college on his phone with several states in orange and said, “Libertarian, I’m voting Libertarian. That’s the future.”

I looked at him as my kids hovered in the door wanting to leave because there were Pokemon to catch. It took me a few second to realize he was serious. He pressed on about Obamacare not working (which I take as code for premiums being outrageously high) and what did I think?

I explained my views on Obamacare. That if health care reform is a ladder with 100 rungs Obamacare is the first rung. It is far from perfect, but at least it moves us in the right direction. That I understand political change and true reform is a long game. I used my standard go to reference for imperfect documents, the Constitution. If it were perfect when it were written we would have no amendments. We didn’t re write the whole thing each time an amendment was needed.

He was unconvinced and shook his head. The Libertarians, he argued, had a better way,

I told him his vote was his right and that I was voting for Hilliary. And then I added, “If your guy is elected I hope you never get sick.”

He looked taken aback. ‘”What?”

I pulled Oliver into the office. I asked if one day he needs heart surgery, like Oliver will again, will he have saved enough to pay the bill or is he just going to roll the dice with a charity hospital or perhaps fly to India?

“Well, Obamacare isn’t that great, is it?” he countered not answering how he would pay for a heart vale replacement.

At this point I pulled both boys back into the office and explained that their care combined was well over one million dollars in the NICU. Since then heart surgeries, intensive care units stays, and home oxygen. If this were a Libertarian health care system no insurance would have covered them. They’d have crafted a way to get out of it, by preexisting conditions or caps on costs per condition. I’m a doctor and I couldn’t have afforded the care they needed to survive. In countries without regulated health insurance parents have to pay in advance or their children don’t even get admitted to the intensive care unit at birth. Even if I’d sold my house when they were born and had a robust health savings account I’d have been bankrupt by the time they were five or six weeks old.

His answer, “Maybe we shouldn’t be saving those kids.” He looked embarrassed that he’d said it.

I wasn’t shocked or angry. That is the only logical conclusion under a Libertarian health care system. I knew that, so I wanted to make sure he did too.

He got flustered and muttered something about still being his patients. I told him I didn’t hold it against him, and walked off absolutely bewildered that someone with a graduate degree in health care could think that voting for a Libertarian was good for his own family. I honestly believe it is because people have bought into the Libertarian lies about health care or that they think it’s some kind of protest vote against the cost of health insurance, but if you are going to vote Libertarian you should understand exactly what that means next time you get sick.

Th Libertarian myth is that health care was awesome in the 1960s because doctors made house calls, a hospital stay only cost a few days pay, and there were charity hospitals. I’m not being tongue in cheek, those words are lifted directly from their web site. Yes, relying on charity is part of their plan.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.20.38 AM

doctor and doll-1This is just false. Health care was too expensive for many in the early 1960s, especially for the elderly, who often spent their life savings on their health. That is why Medicare was introduced. No one would have introduced Medicare if everything were perfect. That’s not how governments work. 1960s medicine was only Norman Rockwell if you could afford it. In a 1963 survey 25% of people said they did not see a physician because of chest pains, 40% said they didn’t see a doctor if they had diarrhea for five days, and 35% of people with shortness of breath did not consult a physician. In 1963 the rate of hospital admission was 15% with private insurance and 9% for those without. By 1970 the rates had equalized to 13% due to Medicaid and Medicare. And charity hospitals and clinics? Well, ask doctors who have worked in them if that’s their ideal health care. I’ve worked in free county clinics and it’s patch work by dedicated professionals doing their best with little or no resources. It’s not health care, it’s health suboptimal care.

Comparing cost of care today with the 50s and 60s is ridiculous. Sure, we have too much bloat in the system and I’m eager to fix that, but keep in mind in 1959 a heart attack was managed with an EKG and nitroglycerin and oxygen. Now we have blood tests to diagnose heart attacks, medications to dissolve clots, 24 hour a day monitoring, angiography, stenting blocked vessels, and coronary artery by pass grafting. None of that expensive care existed in 1959. What about prematurity? Babies born at 34 1/2 weeks had a 40-50% chance of survival. At 26 weeks babies like mine were just wrapped up and left to die. If their mothers were lucky they got to hold them as they died. Guess when doctors starting thinking maybe they could cure some cancers with chemotherapy? Late 50s/early 60s. Obesity, a big driver of health care, was also much less prevalent.

Of course it was a cheaper and more efficient system in the 50s and 60s. The poor didn’t come in for care and none of today’s expensive care existed to offer those who did! People also walked more because there were no four car families and didn’t eat the junk food we had today.

The Libertarian party has these three ideas for health care:

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.40.02 AM
Excellent. Don’t get cancer. You won’t be able to pay for it. Same goes for heart disease and premature deliveries and just about any chronic care. Maybe you’ve saved really well, but then your mom falls and breaks her hip. She doesn’t have the $30,000 to pay for the surgery because she used all the money to pay for your dad’s chemo last year. Do you say sorry mom and let her die, even though the surgery could give her another 15 or so years, or pay for her care and then hope your kids don’t get sick while you build up your funds again? Hip surgery in this situation is best done within 48 hours so you don’t have a few weeks to think on it. Tick tock, what do you decide? The Charity hospital is full.

Let’s say I had been able to come up with the $1 million to get my kids through the intensive care unit, after he was discharged Oliver had 10 admissions for pneumonia (two to intensive care units), two heart surgeries, home oxygen, physical therapy and occupational therapy. Never in several lifetimes could I have saved enough money for his care.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.44.08 AM

Mandating coverage for specific disabilities and disease protects people because insurance companies love to not cover expensive care. That’s why they invented preexisting conditions. Cancer is expensive let’s drop that! Oh, and Pap smears why pay for that? We don’t cover cancer anyway, so hope they’ve saved up! Prematurity? Well, there’s a $100,000 cap on that. Mental health? Great, we pay $25 a visit find a provider of your choice! Can’t find a psychiatrist to take that? Oh, sorry.

Mandates exist because most health insurance companies are trying to not pay for expensive care. The free market has already shown us what will happen without government oversight. Pre Obamacare if you had a preexisting condition coverage was inadequate at best. Who knows what a free market might decide, maybe obesity will become a preexisting condition and eligibility and rates will be calculated based on body mass index (BMI)?

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 7.53.21 AM

Sure the FDA has all kinds of issues, but a free market wants to do the bare minimum in studies. Drug companies are already not releasing unflattering studies with the regulation that we have, so you really think this will get better with less regulation? I can’t even validate this propranolol reference. Propranolol has been on the market since 1965 and generic as long as I’ve been a doctor (since 1990). I’m not aware of any 10-year delay in modern health care with this medication.

As for the real value of regulation I’ve got a one word for the Libertarian party, thalidomide.

Health Care the Unites States is Far From Perfect

That is about the only thing I agree with when it comes to the Libertarian party platform, however, the idea that people can get good medical care in a completely free unregulated market is a lie. We know this because it didn’t work  in the 1960s. We know this because in countries with little access to health insurance the poor go without basic health care and people get what they can pay for up front. A free market isn’t going to reduce the cost of by pass surgery and four days in the hospital to $500 (which I might add is a lot of money for many people).

If we had Libertarian health care system in 2003 when my children were born one or both of them would be dead. My health insurance was shitty, even as a doctor working at a University. Medicaid covered close to $500,000 in intensive care unit costs alone. In a Libertarian country they would have looked at our insurance and asked for $100,00 or more up front for each child and if I didn’t have the cash they wouldn’t have received care or they would have been transferred to an over worked charity hospital that often ran out of medications and had 30 year old ventilators.

The Libertarian platform on health care is either woefully under researched, a sad fantasy, or a willful attempt to camouflage the callousness that it represents with 1960’s nostalgia and buzz words.

If you’ve voting Libertarian you should know that.

 

Kangaroo care

> $250,000 just to get to this point in the NICU


10 Aug 17:48

What we can learn from Jehovah’s Witnesses about obstetrical violence and autonomy during pregnancy

by Dr. Jen Gunter

imgres-1Many years ago when I was the most junior person on the team I sat on the hemorrhaging wound of a person who was a Jehovah’s Witness. She  was literally bleeding to death. I was medically the least helpful person so I was the human sandbag as the gurney flew down the hallway towards the operating room pushed by a surgeon and a resident. Before the woman lost consciousness she was asked again about the document she had signed on admission saying no blood under any circumstances. This wasn’t hypothetical, she would die. She said, “No blood.” Those were her last words. We never made it into an operating room. I couldn’t understand how someone who could easily have been saved by blood could have turned it down. It was a hard lesson in choice.

This week Caroline Malatesta won a $16 million dollar verdict in a lawsuit about patient choice and obstetrical violence. It is challenging to discuss the medical issues of the case with the limited information presented, but suffice it to say you have to try very hard as an obstetrical unit to mess up a 4th delivery. But whatever may or may not have been medically indicated doesn’t matter, because if a patient doesn’t want the intervention or was coerced into it then the intervention wasn’t merited. If we as obstetricians think a c-section has almost a 100% chance of saving a baby’s life at 38 weeks (for example, anterior placenta previa with a back down transverse fetal lie) if the pregnant woman doesn’t want the c-section she doesn’t get it. This is because women are sentient beings, not baby making vessels.

I want to be clear there are amazing OB/GYNs, and wonderful nurses, and well trained midwives, and incredible hospitals and unfortunately cases like the one presented above tarnish everyone with the same brush. However, there are also issues. 

Some doctors, nurses, and hospitals are steeped in patriarchy and believe patients should just accept what they are offered. This is not limited to the delivery room. I still wonder about my elderly mother’s hip surgery. She wouldn’t hear anything from me about what to ask. Her doctor knew best. It turned out horrifically wrong in almost every iatrogenic way imaginable and so I am left wondering what if I have pressed for more information and options?

Many health care professionals have bad communication skills. There are times I have been referred a patient who turned down a procedure that I felt was indicated and when I explained it she changed her mind.

Some American OB/GYNs don’t have more traditional OB skill sets. When I moved here I was the only one at my medical center doing vaginal breeches, forceps rotations, and vaginal twins that weren’t vertex/vertex. Many residents and nurses had never seen forceps used or a vaginal term breech. If the only tool you have is scalpel that’s what you use. Doing more c-sections affects how much one-to-one nursing care you can provide if you are not staffed accordingly. And of course, more c-sections means more repeat c-sections or more VBACs. In a 2009 survey 26% of OBs said they stopped offering VBACs because of malpractice concerns. VBAC rates began to fall in 1998, so unless the tide is turned at some point once a c-section always a c-section or a rogue home delivery will become the rule.

Some obstetricians and OB nurses are anxious or have questionable training or cave to staffing pressures. They rupture membranes early or get women pushing far to soon. As soon as the labor curve stalls many feel the pressure to do something, especially if the unit is already overflowing with women in the hallway. Some are too aggressive with oxytocin and yet some are not aggressive enough.

It is never medically correct to hold in a crowning head, never mind for six minutes. How did that happen? Hospital policy? Inadequate training? Rogue nurse? A nurse who had been screamed at before by a doctor for letting a multiparous woman deliver before the doctor arrived? The doctor’s policy? This one event requires a root cause analysis before you even get to the issue of consent. A women or her delivering baby will not be harmed if she is on a flat, soft surface and her baby delivers spontaneously. We typically catch babies or guide them out, so if they slide onto the bed unassisted that is okay. Obstetricians sometimes miss deliveries. When that happens we apologize, check if the placenta has delivered, and then do a repair if needed. 

Many labor and deliveries are understaffed. Continuous fetal monitoring has done nothing for saving babies and has raised the c-section rate, yet it’s standard because it takes skilled one-to-one nursing to do intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring correctly. It’s easier to rupture the membranes and put on a scalp clip. (If a patient is obese this may be the only way to monitor the baby, but I’m going to confine the discussion to the things that happen to low risk women). However, if you don’t do electronic monitoring and there is fetal compromise you will be sued for not doing it. How is that for being between a rock and a hard place?

Speaking of lawyers, did you know John Edwards successfully argued that a woman in labor can’t give consent? Basically if you don’t badger and twist a woman’s arm to have the intervention you think she needs you are negligent. Over 90% of OB/GYNs have been sued at least once during their career and the average number of times an OB/GYN is sued is 2.7. One third of obstetrics claims involve a neurologically impaired infant and 49% of these claims are lost (meaning money was paid). Two-thirds of OB/GYNs change their practice in some way because of risk of fear of litigation and I bet none of these changes involve less intervention.

So here we are. A system that does a pretty good job in high risk situations, but an over medicalized, legal complex with pockets of inadequate training for low risk pregnancies.  I don’t think the answer to better medical care for women is more lawsuits, I think we need to learn from Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Doctors are sometimes wrong about patients needing blood. I have seen Jehovah’s Witnesses survive with blood counts we thought incompatible with life. Jehovah’s Witnesses have pushed us to be more careful with blood loss in the operating room, more conservative with transfusions, and even driven technology such as cell savers. After all, blood is expensive and not without risks. However, sometimes you really do need a blood product to live so a few Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse blood products will die and others will have a more prolonged and difficult recovery. The fact that doctors don’t get sued for following these wishes helps us follow them, but we are trained from the start that an 18 year old of sound mind gets to choose their medical care. 

It took a while for doctors to abandon the patriarchy, listen to patient’s requests, learn some new things, and be brave enough to watch a very few people die who might have lived. Why can we not use this model for competent adult women who are pregnant?

I envision a world were every woman is given a package at the beginning of her pregnancy with a list of the procedures that could happen. Episiotomy, electronic monitoring, scalp clips, c-sections, forceps, antibiotics. The document would be very in depth and include ACOG recommendations and the reasons for and against interventions. Individual OBs could add in what they feel is best practice. The language can be specific, here is one example:

Episiotomy for shoulder dystocia – rarely after the baby’s head delivers the shoulders get stuck and the baby cannot be delivered. This is an obstetrical emergency. There are very specific maneuvers that doctors must do with their hands inside the vagina to dislodge the baby’s shoulders. Sometimes these procedures can be easier with the additional space that an episiotomy provides. Do you consent to an episiotomy in a shoulder dystocia? Yes   No

There are people who will be okay with everything or nothing at all and there will be people who are very specific about what they want just as there is with blood.  It will all be in writing up front with time to think about it and ask questions. If hospitals/doctors/nurses promise to follow them and don’t they should be sued. If hospitals/doctors/nurses follow their patient’s wishes and the outcome is bad they should not be sued. It will not work if the legal system can’t be aligned correctly.

When I practiced obstetrics I was fine with intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring, but hospitals must be upfront about what they can offer and that also means being upfront with their doctors, nurses, midwives, and prospective patients. A doctor can give a patient a package and say they are fine ordering intermittent fetal heart rate monitoring if everything is progressing and is low risk, but what if they get assigned a nurse who wants continuous monitoring or the nurse is covering three patients and isn’ t staffed to do intermittent monitoring, then what? Right now some patients are either forced to have excessive monitoring that they don’t want or labeled as adversarial when then decline. Fixing the system can’t happen unless the hospitals come to the table too. 

Might some women regret their choices? Yes, a few will. Once when I was a resident I heard about a case where a woman had a signed birth plan that said, “Under no circumstances, even if I ask, do I want an epidural.” Several hours into labor she was begging for an epidural and her husband asked if the team could just ignore that part of the birth plan. The anesthesiologist was called, read the document, and declined to place the epidural. He told me that he could easily have been sued if he placed it as she was under duress. I heard that she regretted her decision bitterly throughout her labor and delivery, but the next day she was over it. Would she have been over it the next day if the anesthesiologist had agreed to place the epidural?

What about fetal compromise and fetal demise? A few babies will die or be compromised, but I suspect it will be far fewer than most obstetricians think. I’ve had a dead baby myself and I do not wish that on anyone. I accepted every intervention in my pregnancy. I would have regrets if I had done less. However, I heard of a woman who was badgered into a c-section because of several fetal compromise. It took 15 minutes of hard core press to get her to change her mind. By the time consent was obtained, the anesthetic was given, and the abdomen was opened it was too late. I heard that she was most upset about the consent and feeling violated. I don’t understand that, but that isn’t any different that not understanding a dying person refusing blood on the grounds of religion.

There was a UK review of 15 fetal deaths due to home deliveries. Thirteen were high risk that should never have been delivered at home, yet the women chose to deliver there because they feared interventions. The midwives knew they were high risk and didn’t want to abandon them. Has it come to this that high risk women have to hide out at home and risk fetal death? We don’t ask Jehovah’s Witnesses not to bother to coming to the emergency department if they are hemorrhaging, we ask them to come to the hospital and then we do our best to give them care within the boundaries of their wishes. Why can we not use that model in obstetrics?  Women get choices with their bodies, whether we agree with them or not doesn’t matter. I often don’t agree with my patients’ choices and that’s okay because they are not my choices.

It will take what happened with Jehovah’s Witness to make the change. Patients, doctors, hospitals, nurses, midwives and the government coming together (the government so doctor’s and midwives don’t get sued for following patient wishes). Midwives also should be required to have malpractice insurance, because that is a big source of conflict between OBs and midwives. It’s very easy to not offer interventions when you don’t risk being sued.

It’s not just civil litigation that doctors and midwives should fear. They and their patients must also keep an eye on the criminal system. A woman was charged criminally in 2004 for not having a timely c-section and 38 states have fetal homicide laws. Midwives have been charged criminally for home deliveries that resulted in neonatal death even when the mothers said the home deliveries were what they wanted. An unlicensed midwife is a different story. If you are not appropriately trained I don’t think you can give informed consent. However, if a woman is appropriately informed of her risk and accepts that risk could she or her obstetrical team face criminal charges if a declined intervention leads to a fetal death? We know the intent of these laws (typically murder of a pregnant woman) does not stop them from being abused by zealous prosecutors.

I am convinced we can learn from the Jehovah’s Witness experience with blood products and that medicine and the legal system can work together to honor patient choices. Maybe this case will push us in that direction.

The rule in medicine is first do no harm and in obstetrics that rule applies first to the mother. We shouldn’t need lawsuits to remind  us of that. 


22 Aug 15:20

TOM maxipads claim to convert water to oxygen and hydrogen for vaginal health. As an OB/GYN I say that’s a bad idea!

by Dr. Jen Gunter
Kristen

FYI....

A new type of menstrual pad hopes to break into the American market. They are called TOM and that stands for either The Oxygen Movement or Time Of the Month depending I suppose on which demographic the company is trying to reach.

According to an article in Slate TOM claims the “company’s proprietary formula absorbs liquid and humidity and separates water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, keeping the pad drier.” Both the Facebook page and the Kickstarter demo page claim the pad makes up to 50 ml “of pure oxygen day.”

The other health claims on their Facebook page are as follows:

  • Women will feel drier and be more comfortable
  • The oxygen will enter the vagina and kill bad anaerobic bacteria in the vagina and encourage the growth of good bacteria
  • “Lighten and balance” skin tone

I only have 3 university chemistry courses to my name and that was a while ago, but fortunately I know how to Google. I remembered correctly that you typically need electricity to covert water to oxygen and hydrogen, so unless these pads are battery-powered there’s an issue. I also found other ways to convert water to oxygen such as heating a metal oxide to over 1,000 degrees Celsius (ouch), vibration at approximately 43 khz (which apparently stings), photodissociation (light may not be readily available between the vulva and a pad or inside a pad), and 14 megahertz radio waves (doesn’t seem to be a good idea in closed spaces). Separating water basically takes a lot of energy, so not very menstrual pad friendly. Someone made a leaf that can convert water to oxygen using sunlight and carbon dioxide (basically man-made photosynthesis), but it’s hard to se how such a design could work where the sun doesn’t shine.

I’m going to do out on a limb here and say TOM maxipads don’t have a liquid that converts water to oxygen and hydrogen. If they did have such a liquid then NASA, the Russians, Elon Musk, basically everyone would be interested. One could sell that for a lot more money than can be made selling menstrual pads. So TOM pads, prove me wrong.

Hindenburg_burning-2Then there is the pesky issue of the flammable hydrogen. No cooking on the gas stove, fireside chats, or  candles in the bathroom! Oxygen is flammable too.

Your vagina doesn’t want any extra oxygen.

This is what TOMS thinks about vaginal oxygen (from their Facebook page):

So, WHY OXYGEN in the first place? Do we really need oxygen in that area during that time of the month? The answer is a very confident YES.
The honest truth is, during a woman’s menstrual cycle, there is a lot that can be going on. When you wear a pad that doesn’t produce oxygen (aka 100% of the pads currently out there), not only is it humid, itchy and uncomfortable…there are a lot of health issues encompassed within that. Certain odor-causing bacteria grow much faster when there is no oxygen present. These bacteria LOVE alkaline, oxygen-free environments. On the other end of the spectrum, our good bacteria (lactobacillus) loves an acidic environment and CAN live with oxygen, completely opposite of what the bad bacteria likes.

Actually, the answer is a very definitive NO. The partial pressure of oxygen in the vagina is 7 mm Hg or less (one source says the partial pressure of oxygen in the vagina during menstruation is 4 mm Hg). The partial pressure oxygen in the air at sea level is 160 mm Hg, so relatively speaking the vagina is a very low oxygen environment and is very happy that way. Also, oxygen produced at the vulva wouldn’t enter. If oxygen could move into the vagina by diffusion it would already be there. It takes inserting something, like a tampon or a diaphragm to temporarily raise the oxygen level. Raising the oxygen level is not believed to be a good thing; it’s one proposed mechanism for how toxic shock syndrome develops with tampons.

Oxygen doesn’t lighten the skin

The offensive idea of needing to lighten skin aside, if oxygen whitens or lightens skin then my kids would have lightened areas under their noses as they wore oxygen for a year. A whole year of 24/7 exposure to higher than normal concentrations of oxygen. I have never heard of lightened skin as a consequence of oxygen exposure so this seems totally bogus. Even if it were possible it’s hard to see how 200 ml of oxygen a day (assuming 4 pads a day) for 3-5 days could do that.

Could something in TOM pads be lightening the skin? They make the claim repeatedly, but have softened it for the U.S. market. I wonder about sodium percarbonate, also known as oxygen bleach, i.e. the stuff in OxyClean. Sodium percarbonate forms hydrogen peroxide when mixed with water and hydrogen peroxide eventually degrades to water and oxygen satisfying the oxygen production claim. Some people use hydrogen peroxide to lighten their skin. Could the pads contain sodium percarbonate? I would want proof they don’t contain this or any other chemical to lighten skin. These products can all be irritants.

I’m a GYNO, here’s my summary

A safe liquid or device that can be held in a menstrual pad that is capable of turning water to oxygen sounds bogus.

If such technology actually did exist it would have to be studied to get FDA approval as this is a new technology. The people who make TOM pads have a demo Kickstarted page. Keep in mind it will take years to do the studies and get approval. No one is getting pads next week or even next year or possibly even ever.

Chemistry issues aside, the biologic plausibility is weak. Oxygen made in a pad can’t diffuse into the vagina.

If we discard basic physiology and say oxygen can diffuse into the vagina that would be a bad thing. Vaginas don’t want extra oxygen.

Any product that actually lightens vulvar skin contains a chemical that you don’t want on your vulva. Since oxygen can’t lighten skin if the product actually does affect skin color what chemical/irritant is in it?

Verdict: Stay away from TOM pads until they can prove their claims and safety

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 1.50.39 AM


03 Sep 20:52

A sex blogger by any other name

by Epiphora

This drink cozy was a gift from Bianca (TheVenusEmporium on Etsy). The other side has a vulva on it!

I never know my name anymore.

A few months ago, I was at sex educator friend’s party getting high out of a homemade bong and listening to Dark Side of the Moon. It was the most high school moment of my life — particularly so because, aside from meeting boys off the internet in mall parking garages, I never did anything terribly forbidden in high school. Amidst dramatic readings of Sextrology and attempts at acting out #buttstuff in charades, a woman I’d never met arrived at the party and asked my name.

As I often do these days, I hesitated.

The same thing happened at the airport coming home from Woodhull, when the restaurant hostess asked for a name to reserve a table. It happened when I visited Lorax at work and their co-worker asked who I was, and then again after Mystery Box Show when my blogger friend introduced me to someone as “Piph” at the exact moment I was stumbling over my legal name.

Each time, my train of thought follows the same pattern. Why inconvenience them with my silly sex blogger name? They won’t know how to spell it, pronounce it, conceptualize it. They won’t accept it knowing it began as a pseudonym, or worse, they’ll think I’m full of myself for daring to go by it.

Back at the party, she sensed my trepidation. Offering a warm smile that instantly put me at ease, she told me to give her the name that felt most true in that moment.

So I said it: “Epiphora. You can call me Piph.”

– – –

The name began as a measure of anonymity. I chose it in 2007, needing a screen name for my account on a sex toy retail website. If my name could begin with any letter of the alphabet, I figured, I’d choose E. If it could be derived from anything, it would be poetry. So I browsed literary terms starting with E until I found one I liked.1 A year later, when I went to start a blog, the name followed me to this domain, and Twitter, and before long, it was what people knew me as.

Me wearing a conference badgeFor years, Epiphora was an online-only presence, but things changed when I started meeting and befriending other sex bloggers. Suddenly I found myself in a world in which calling someone “Girly Juice” was not only accurate, but necessary. In which you’d never ask someone’s legal name unless you were mailing them a package, and then you’d promptly forget it. I started dating a fellow sex blogger, calling them exclusively by their pseudonym, Aerie, which has become their preferred name. To them, I have always been and always will be Epiphora.

That’s when the name became truly mine. When I began forming relationships under it. When I began answering to it across hallways and saying it into microphones. It’s one thing to receive emails addressed to Epiphora; it’s another to hear the name spoken as a direct address. I still remember the rush of validation I felt when my sex blogger friends first referred to me as “Piph” and when the SheVibe crew christened me “Piphy Pants.”

I remember that validation because I still feel it every time someone uses that name for me.

Now, half my friends either don’t know my legal name, or know it and actively disregard it in favor of calling me Epiphora. My legal name is still my name too, but just as “Piph” would sound odd coming from my childhood friend’s lips, my legal name sounds wrong from sex industry folks. Context is everything. In the company of sex-positive people, my instinct is to be Epiphora. At Starbucks or at the vet, I’m still my legal name.

Unless I’m at Starbucks with a sex blogger, in which case they’re gonna have to try to spell Epiphora on my cup.

– – –

Autograph from Tristan Taormino in the Feminist Porn Book which reads: "For Epiphora — You're a big deal."I use the phrase “legal name” consciously. I hate the word “real,” especially in front of anything big: “name,” “life,” “me.” Epiphora is not the name I was given in 1986, in my mother’s arms at the hospital. But should that moment define what people call me for the rest of my existence?

It’s not even an anonymity issue at this point — I don’t care about that. It’s that Epiphora is actually one of my names, and it’s willful ignorance (if not willful rudeness) to act otherwise. A couple weeks ago, returning from a conference where people exclusively referred to me as “Piph,” I was jarred when the owner of an adult company left me a flustered voicemail. “OK, now I’m totally confused,” it began, “because I don’t know if I should call you [legal name], or Piph, or Epiphora. I’m bewildered here.”

I was amazed. This man, in an industry dominated by performer names and nom de plumes, was perplexed by me using my legal name on my personal voicemail. Nights before, I had shaken his hand and confidently introduced myself as Epiphora. Where was the confusion coming from? Why waste your energy being flabbergasted when you could simply respect the name I gave you myself?

I’ve worked hard to establish this name. I’ve been published, cited, and interviewed under it for years. Nearly a decade, actually. I’m protective of Epiphora, because she is my creation — online, a scrupulously-edited version of myself, but in person, just myself (well, with added eyeliner). What people don’t realize is that Epiphora is who I am whether or not I’m shoving dildos up my vagina. She is also human, also fallible. She is still me.

Last Christmas, my mom got me a necklace with a typewriter key pendant. It was the letter E.

– – –

I’m always struggling to prove my legitimacy under this name. Facebook doesn’t believe me. Google+ doesn’t believe me. Advertisers don’t believe me; once they find out my legal name they start using it despite me signing every damn email Epiphora. In one particularly upsetting example, I gave an interview to Women’s Health and then was told they couldn’t use any of my quotes, as the editors don’t allow “anonymous sources.”

Yes, I have a vibrator engraved with the phrase "Exclusively for Epiphora," what?This is obviously bullshit, because the world already accepts aliases. Actors use stage names all the time and we don’t give a fuck. We are fine with mononyms like Beyoncé, Lorde, and Rihanna. We accept Snoop Doggy Dogg becoming Snoop Dogg becoming Snoop Lion. But with sex bloggers,2 thanks to slut-shaming and sex negativity and patriarchy, there’s a stigma. Our words carry no weight. We’re seen as people obfuscating the truth, “hiding” behind “personas,” whose opinions can’t possibly be trusted because we don’t have the guts to write under our “real” names. We must be ashamed of what we do, because sharing our sex lives is inherently shameful.

It’s easy to think that, I imagine. It’s easy for people to draw that line, to stand on the side of birth certificates and drivers’ licenses and accouterments of so-called legitimacy, to contend that people on the other side aren’t being authentic. It’s a protective gesture, and I get it. You can’t feel superior to other people without making a moral judgment.

But until we live in a world in which our parents, co-workers, and dentists can appreciate our work in the adult industry, many will continue to use pseudonyms. Sometimes those pseudonyms will become our names. These names deserve as much respect as any, and fuck you if you disregard them like they’re nothing.

– – –

Epiphora is my name when I say it is, when it feels right, when the sound makes sense coming from my mouth and yours. My original name has a different sound on the tongue. It sounds true, but it also sounds easy. I did not toil, write, and hustle for that name. I did nothing to receive it. It was given, not chosen. A gift, not an accomplishment.

Epiphora is the sound of validation. It’s my name in print. It’s Tristan Taormino introducing me to the audience. It’s Lorax’s voice whining “Piphhhhh” across the room at me. It’s the sound of recognition. Of reverence. Of having achieved something, created something out of nothing, made a living for myself doing something I love.

It’s the sound of earning it.

  1. An “epiphora,” in literature, is a a stylistic device in which a word or a phrase is repeated at the end of successive clauses.
  2. And sex workers, and porn performers, and anyone else in the adult industry…

© Epiphora. This post, "A sex blogger by any other name," appeared originally on Hey Epiphora. If it is posted outside of valid feed readers, it is a copyright violation which has been scraped illegally. Please email hey.epiphora [at] gmail.com if you see this happening.

06 Sep 20:57

LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT BODY SKINCARE

by The Beauty Wolf

You’ve spent months, maybe years crafting and curating your own personal skincare regime. You’ve taken the tenants of K-Beauty and put together a mystical melange of products that play out a perfect concert to needs of your skin. You marvel at how far you’ve come thanks to your hard work researching your holy grails. People […]

The post LET’S GET SERIOUS ABOUT BODY SKINCARE appeared first on The Beauty Wolf.

30 Aug 16:49

How/when to talk to a woman wearing headphones

by JenniferP

Oh Internet, I see we’re having this discussion again. I’m not gonna drive traffic to it, but I am gonna remind every dude who is like ‘HOW WILL ANYONE EVER MEET ANYONE IF I CAN’T WAYLAY BUSY WOMEN WHO ARE WEARING VISIBLE ‘LEAVE ME ALONE’ SYMBOLS TO TELL THEM MY THOUGHTS, THO’ and ‘I’M JUST TRYING TO BE FRIENDLY!’ that you could just greet a nearby dude, maybe one who is not wearing headphones, instead. Friendliness! Peace on earth! Meeting new people! #Dudesgreetingdudes!

Edited to Add: I Have Decided To Marry My Catcaller And This Is Our Wedding Registry (McSweeney’s)

 


29 Aug 11:45

Toto Washlet: My Japanese butt-washing robot toiletseat

by Ariel Meadow Stallings
Kristen

One day, we might have to upgrade our standard bidet I just installed to this!!

Toto Washlet on Offbeat Home
My fancy butt-washing toilet seat control panel, with contrasting hippie bathroom decor.

15 years ago, the gay interior designer who lived in my aunt's guesthouse installed a Toto Washlet in the bathroom. At the time, I dismissed the whole thing — leave it to the Japanese to invent a toilet seat with a robotic, mechanized wand that washes your butt! Leave it to the folly of a gay interior designer to install one! I tried it, laughed, made a friend try it, laughed some more at the sounds coming out of the bathroom, and moved on with my life.

Then, earlier this year, I was staying with my friend Jon, one of the co-founders of the Lovesick Expo. He lives in a LEED-certified house that's meticulously dedicated to sustainable, greener living. I took one look at his Japanese butt-washing robot toilet and was all, "Really, bitch? How does this ridiculously expensive, hilariously indulgent Japanese butt-washing robot toilet seat fit into your sustainable home?"

"Dude," he said. "You don't have to shower as much when your butt's clean."

That might be true, I conceded… while laughing.

"And you don't use toilet paper any more," he said.

That also might be true, I conceded… while laughing.

"And they're not that expensive any more."

I checked: Oh! What used to be a few thousand dollars is now around $300.

"Ok," I said. "Tell me more."

"You know when you get the runs, how sometimes you'll wipe your butt raw?" Jon said. "…And then you have the runs AND a raw butt?"

Yes, I did know about that, and it's awful. Then Jon's wife chimed in.

"It's the best for when you're having your period," she said. "It has a 'front wash' option that takes care of bloody messes."

Interesting, I thought to myself.

And then I bought one. And now I'm a convert! Toilet paper? BARBARIAN!

Ok, first: WTF is this thing?

A Toto Washlet is essentially an electrical toilet seat that washes your butt with a little wand. It connects to a power supply (via a three-prong outlet) and your water supply (via a small hose), and then you press buttons to make it do its thing.

When you're talking about the model that I got, "its thing" includes Rear Wash (a very focused stream of water pointed right at your butt hole), Soft Rear Wash (more gentle streams of water pointed more generally at your butt hole region), Front Wash (water pointed at your vulva), and Dryer (a fan that blows warm air all over your bits both front and back.) You can control all sorts of things like water temperature, pressure, and angle.

There are other bells and whistles too — a heated toilet seat being one, and a "pre-mist" function that basically wets down the inside of your toilet seat so that your poo doesn't stick to the porcelain. These things don't matter that much to me, but one friend went so far as to say that the pre-mist function was cool enough that he'd buy one for that alone. (Different people have different sticky-poo issues, I guess.)

How to install a Toto Washlet

If you're me, this is a one-step process: CALL A PLUMBER.

Even though installation is super easy, a friend gave me the tip that if a plumber installed my Toto Washlet, I could then call that plumber if something went wrong in the future, which is a nice perk. So, when my kitchen sink faucet finally disintegrated and needed to be replaced, I bundled the jobs together and called a plumber. Installation took less than half an hour, since the Toto Washlet basically just gets plugged into the wall and then attached to your water supply via one quick hose. If you're handy, you could easily DIY it in like 15 minutes. I am just lazy and wanted to be able to rely on someone else if the thing stopped working right because, again, lazy.

Ok, so what's it feel like?

  • Rear Wash: it feels like a pointy stream of water going up your butt.
  • Soft rear: it feels like a softer sprinkle going on your butt.
  • Front wash: depending on how you position yourself, it's either a nice cleaning stream of water or (DOUBLE PRESS FOR OSCILLATION OPTION!) something more entertaining. Have fun with that!

You get to control pressure, temperature, and angle, so it's never uncomfortable… although that first Rear Wash might be a little alarming. WHEEE!

What's awesome about it?

My friends who've lived in Japan and Europe always side-eye me when I talk about my Toto, like "Srsly, girl? You're just now figuring out that it's nicer to wash your butt than it is to use a dry piece of low-quality paper to scrape that shit off?" But if you're like me, this is something you've just never really thought of. Toilet paper is how you do things. It's how you've always done things. What is this washing your under-carriage madness?

Well, it's freaking awesome, that's what it is. You actually get, like, actually clean. Yes, you could achieve this with a peri bottle (right, postpartum folks? RIGHT?) or even just a freaking water bottle next to the toilet with a wash cloth (family cloth, anyone?). You totally could do that. You totally should do that. But, if you're like me, and you like pre-heated water and pre-misting and oscillations and the idea of a robot butt-butler washing your behind, this is a nice upgrade from that more basic option.

It's great for poop. It's great for pee. It's great for menstrual blood. It's great for post-coital clean-up. It's great for when you're sick out the butt. It's great for children — both in terms of them actually using it (no more shouts from my 6-year-old for help with wiping — y'all feelin' me here, moms?) and in terms of entertainment (my son figured out that "front wash" can reach the sink mirror across the room if he games it right. HA!). My parents asked me if I worried that having a Toto would make my son unable to wipe his own butt, and I was all, "I don't know, lets ask those generations of Europeans and Japanese folks how that's worked for them."

OH WOE IS ME, WE KNOWETH NOT HOW TO WIPE OUR BUTTETHS.

…You could say I'm not too worried about it.

What's meh about it?

The dryer takes a long time to actually dry your butt — like, five minutes. This means that you will likely spend more time drying your butt than pooping. One friend asked if this was an issue of taint hair (side bonus of having a Toto: you get to have conversations with friends about taint hair!), but that's not it. Even if you're one of those waxed types, it just takes a while for a little fan to dry your butt. It's not like it's a Dyson Air Blade going up your ass. It's just a gentle little whirring fan, so now I have a copy of the Tao Te Ching next to the toilet to encourage folks to get comfortable and patient with it. Butt-drying mindfulness! It's a thing!

This particular model has a very small-in-diameter toilet seat. I have a small-ish toilet and am an small-to-medium sized person so it's fine for me, but taller and wider folks have reported feeling like they're perched on an itty-bitty widdle dolly toilet.

It does sit pretty high up on your toilet. I mean, my toilet now feels like a slightly elevated high-tech command center. I'm ok with it, but it's not a low-profile situation.

I also still haven't figured out how to hide the cord, which stretches across my bathroom right now. That's strictly an issue of aesthetics, but it's worth considering where your bathroom outlet is in relation to your toilet.

The tl;dr

This is a luxury item. It is unnecessary and kind of silly, and kind of awesome. I recommend it.

Recent Comments

  • Katie: I have IBS and got a 'prescription' for the washlet from my doctor. I was reimbursed for it via my… [Link]
  • Ariel Meadow Stallings: On my model, the wand self-cleans before and after every use, and then you can also click "wand clean" and… [Link]
  • KathyRo: Thanks, Dootsie. I could have cheerfully ignored that issue for the rest of my life. No, I think… [Link]
  • Dootsie Bug: Have you had to clean it? Can you just swipe at it with the toilet brush and SnoBol or do… [Link]
  • SamanthaB: YASSSSS BUTT HOSE 4 LYFE [Link]

+ 14 more! Join the discussion

24 Aug 21:48

The Best Chainsaw

by Doug Mahoney
Kristen

Wow, this whole series is taking the cake! Thank goodness we are investing in them....

Even though it is on the small side for a chainsaw, the Ego can still cut decent-size logs.

The best chainsaw for most people is the cordless Ego Power+ 16″ Chainsaw, a decision we reached after spending five days in the New Hampshire woods with six chainsaws, and having a pro tree worker with 14 years’ experience use them on the job for an additional three days this summer.

21 Aug 16:00

Universe/Futurology/Create a board game/Truecaller

by Claudia Lamar
Kristen

TRUECALLER

APP:
I’ve had a lot of fun in the past few days playing with a new iOS app that creates a mosaic of video, still images, and sound, and into which you can also paste code to create animations and actions. They are cool post-gif loops. You then share and follow others who are creating. Still in beta, it’s called Universe. Follow me! — KK

THING:
Last year I started using a Salux Japanese Nylon washcloth (reviewed on Cool Tools), and I won’t ever go back. No other product has made me feel this clean before. It exfoliates, but it’s not as rough as some gloves or loofahs I have tried, and I use the one labeled “super hard.” — CL

WATCHABLE:
A series I am binging on is Silicon Valley. I know all these people and every detail of their lives and situations is pitch perfect right on. The producers get the tiniest details exactly right, from the technology to the mannerisms, as well as their bigger narrative. I haven’t laughed so much is ages. At the same time, it’s a remarkably fantastic advanced class in what technology companies are *really* like; whether you want to work in one, or start one: watch this series. — KK

WEBSITE:
Reddit’s Futurology subreddit features news stories that point to our future. “New antibiotic found in human nose.” “Singapore Scientists Grow Mini Human Brains.” “Should a human-pig chimera be treated as a person?” I visit it daily. — MF

GAME:
I recently bought the Junior Game Inventors Kit to build with my soon-to-be stepson. We had a lot of fun creating a board design and brainstorming “consequence” and “reward” cards. We didn’t get a chance to finish and play the game, but I’m looking forward to seeing how it evolves. Very reasonable price for a kit that inspires creativity. — CL

SERVICE:
Truecaller is a free, ad-supported smartphone app that blocks telemarketers’ calls. When a call from a spammer comes in, your phone will display a red screen that says “Identified as Spam.” And if a telemarketer slips through, you can easily add the number to Truecaller’s database. — MF

Want to get our next Recomendo a week early in your inbox? Sign up for next Sunday newsletter here.

-- Kevin Kelly, Mark Frauenfelder, Claudia Lamar

17 Aug 22:40

Free Tiny House Plans - Quartz Model with Bathroom

by Ana White
Kristen

Relevant to some of you!

Well, it took me forever, but I finally got it done!

After getting so much crap (hehehe no pun intended there) about creating a tiny house without a bathroom, I promised you a modified version with full ammenities.

This proved to be a little more difficult than I thought, because I'm a stickler for things looking balanced on the inside and out. Changing the floor plan meant changing windows - windows that had been very carefully placed for maximum curb appeal.  Here's what I finally came up with - 

I moved the kitchen to the front wall, and placed the bathroom where the kitchen was.  The windows on the front are carefully placed to allow a stove and sink to fit under and between.  This does mean we loose the end door, and the desks that convert to a table, but you can still place a smaller desk under the remaining window.  When you go tiny, you have to comprimise on some things.  I feel like this is a good balance of keeping that open feeling, while adding all the ammenities.  And did you notice the full size appartment fridge?

One thing I did not do is account for water tanks and utility storage.  Depending on your climate, you can do a few different things.  If it must be insulated, the corner of the kitchen could hold tanks, or there is storage on top of the bathroom.  If freezing isn't an issue, tanks could be stored outside or underneath.  I'd love to hear how you tackle that one, so if you do build, please share.

Well, here are the plans!  Enjoy!  Can't wait to see your tiny house!

XO Ana

 

DOWNLOAD FREE TINY HOUSE PLANS QUARTZ MODEL WITH BATHROOM

 

PS - Make sure you check out the original plans as they are very similar and there is alot of added information through videos and projects that you can find here.

 

 

 

15 Aug 12:53

Miracles



Miracles

Kimchi Cuddles is made possible entirely through support from viewers like you! Check out the monthly rewards for becoming a Kimchi patron! https://www.patreon.com/kimchicuddles

12 Aug 11:45

This "wacky wallpaper house" in Minnesota will assault your eyes with patterns galore

by Megan Finley
Oh look, here's another good example!
Oh look, here's a good example!

Did you know there was a time when the fanciest way to decorate a room was to match your fabric to your wallpaper?

To this day, I can't figure out where my mom got all the bedspreads and curtains that perfectly matched our bedroom wallpaper. Did they come from the same store? Did she just happen to stumble up on wallpaper patterns so AMAZING that fabric manufacturers stole them and created all manner of products with the same pattern? I don't know (I should probably ask my mom). But this home for sale in Minnesota in the paradigm of that matching wallpaper and fabric movement…

Brace yourselves: A pattern explosion is coming.

Here is the entry way. It almost lures you into a false sense of nor"meh"lcy.
Here is the entry way. It almost lures you into a false sense of nor"meh"lcy.
But the next thing you see is THIS, and you're "whoa... wtfnow?"
But the next thing you see is THIS, and you're "whoa… wtfnow?"
It's hard to have wallpaper in a kitchen... unless you put it on the ceiling!
It's hard to have wallpaper in a kitchen… unless you put it on the ceiling!
But OF COURSE the dining room has the same wallpaper as the kitchen. What is one without the other?
But OF COURSE the dining room has the same wallpaper as the kitchen. What is one without the other?
Don't think FOR A SECOND that the chairs in the den won't match the wallpaper in the kitchen and the dining room. Because THEY DO.
Don't think FOR A SECOND that the chairs in the den won't match the wallpaper in the kitchen and the dining room. Because THEY DO.
Here's a perfect example of matching wallpaper and bedding.
Here's a perfect example of matching wallpaper, window treatments, and bedding.
Hey, you can also mix it up -- match the wallpaper to the draperies and the bedskirt!
Hey, you can also mix it up — match the wallpaper to the draperies and the bedskirt!
Bathrooms were not immune to this treatment either.
Bathrooms were not immune to this treatment either.
So were offices. (Side note: I truly do love that coffee table.)
So were offices. (Side note: I truly do love that coffee table.)
Even the laundry room! LEAVE NO WALL UN-PAPERED!
Even the laundry room! LEAVE NO WALL UN-PAPERED!

Recent Comments

  • Laura: The stuff nightmares are made of. It makes me feel so claustrophobic. [Link]
  • Carole: Upon further reflection, I think Meemaw did this when Paw was away on a fishin' trip and when Paw saw… [Link]
  • TheBonnieBunnies: I doubt that's the result of a professional decorator gone wild by themself. Judging by the picture of the older… [Link]
  • TheBonnieBunnies: The sun room makes me claustrophobic. I half expect the ceiling fabric to turn into a swarm of bees or… [Link]
  • toad22: I just wonder if they told a decorator to do it, and then came home & went, "Ummm...well....I guess we've… [Link]

+ 23 more! Join the discussion

09 Aug 20:45

#891: “My neighbor has decided that he is the boss of me.”

by JenniferP
Kristen

What. A. Fucking. Prick.

Hello Captain Awkward,

i live in a building with 4 condos, all on the board. our current president and wife are retired, while the rest of us are all 30- or early-40-somethings. He wants to be involved in everything, despite thinking the rest of us don’t do enough, and treats us like an office where he is the manager, rather than us being neighbors and equals. usually i tune him out, but he emailed me the other week and again today about untangling an issue with our bylaws, dating back to before my husband and i became owners, and which will certainly take months to resolve. I volunteered to do this when it first came up in January, but at the time, he asked me to hold off (a new neighbor had just moved in). Now, i am 8 months pregnant, prepping for maternity leave and transitioning to an unexpected promotion, during my office’s busiest time of year. i work all day and work more every night at home, plus there are things to get ready for the baby. when i said I was busy and asked if this really needed to be a ‘right now’ kind of thing (as opposed to the fall) since we’d already waited 6 months, he started talking down to me how at 8 months pregnant, his own daughter handled more than whatever i have going on, and he knows better than me how i will be busier after the baby so he would “appreciate it” if i would just do what he “requested” and work on this right now. even implied he had a right to insist because I should have already gotten this done ‘in a timely manner’ (forgetting his earlier request). i don’t know whether to just say something non-committal to mollify him while still having no intention of working on this until after my kid is born (probably fueling his martyrdom), or to try continue to calmly explain why i hadn’t done it already and that while i appreciate his concern, it’s simply not possible for me to add another thing to my plate right now, but that like i said, i’d be happy to begin in the fall since this is a long term issue–my MIL will be helping a lot and while i’ll be tired, i won’t have to spend 12-15 hours a day on a computer. Or should I be honest how upset I am by this conversation and his presumption, especially since he still hasn’t given any condo-related reason for wanting this done now? If i tell my husband how much this escalated, he will be angry and definitely shoot off an inflammatory email. i know the neighbor’s a cranky old man and i would prefer to not have an adversarial relationship when it’s such a small group, but I’m pretty offended myself.
thanks,
frazzled almost-mom

p.s., emails pasted below so you can see what I mean.

———————————————————-
[neighbor]
5:22 PM (19 hours ago)
to me

I know you have a lot on your mind at the moment, but I’d appreciate it if you would follow through and find out the procedure for changing by-laws. You’re busy now, but , take my word for it, it will only get worse. Thanks, [neighbor]
——————————————–

[me]

8:05 AM (4 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

yes, i honestly am pretty busy right now, given that it’s the last month of the pregnancy, and i’m trying to do all of my current work as well as prepare for maternity leave and a new job at my company, and get the house ready for the baby! what was the timeline you were thinking about for this? we first talked about this about 6 months ago, so i didn’t think it was urgent when you mentioned it again recently.

thanks,
[me]
——————————————–
[neighbor]
8:22 AM (4 hours ago)
to me
Yes, I know you’re busy. I have a daughter who was 8 months pregnant with twins, was working fulltime and had to clean out the over-stuffed apartment of her recently deceased mother. So I’m sympathetic with your situation, but not overwhelmingly so. I’m acting as de facto managing agent for the building. No one else pays much attention to whether the building gets painted or whether we have a place to put the garbage. I’m not a power-hungry type who revels in the role. I expect others to pay attention at least some of the time. So please just honor my request. Thank you

[me]
8:29 AM (3 hours ago)
to [neighbor]
Hi [neighbor],

i’m just wondering why this has become urgent right now, given that we’ve already waited 6 months since it first came up?

[neighbor]
8:48 AM (3 hours ago)
to me
I just have to turn the question around and put it to you: Why have you waited six months to get around to taking care of this? When someone says they will do something I expect them to do it in a timely manner. I imagine you have the same expectations. And let me put this in perspective for you: You’re not busy now. You’re going to be busy the minute the baby is born, and that will last a long, long time. Parenthood is great; relaxing it ain’t. Cheers

———————————–

p.p.s. the other units don’t even know he wants this done. 

Dear Frazzled,

This guy is such a patronizing shitbeard. Thanks for including his emails, they really make the whole thing.

If it is easier to handle the thing than it is to further antagonize him (like, the effort of dealing with him and explaining yourself is honestly greater than the effort it would take to do the thing), and if the change is in the interest of and has the buy-in of the other residents (big if, if they don’t even know it’s happening) quietly knock out the thing on your own timeline.

If he continues to antagonize you, you could send oneI’m sorry, after you told me to hold off when (neighbors) moved in, I definitely misunderstood the urgency of this project. Bottom line is: I won’t be able to make this a priority until after (date), so, if it’s important that it be done now, time for a plan B” email to him, but given the level on contempt on display in his messages to you, you might just skip that step and drag this one out into the sunshine and off of your plate entirely. To do that, send an email to the whole board/everyone in the building:

“Hello, everyone. Back in January, I volunteered to handle ( bylaw issue), but at (Neighbor’s) request, we held off until (Nice New Residents) bought their place and settled in, and it’s been on the back burner since then. (Neighbor) kindly reminded me that this still needs doing, but sadly I am not going to be able to get to it until sometime next year. Since it’s so important, I wanted to let the board know so that you can get it on the next meeting agenda and make an alternate plan. My notes/progress* are attached if they’ll assist someone in picking this up from here. Thanks!”

*If you have the email where he told you to hold off, DEFINITELY include it somewhere in your “notes” that you send everyone. Definitely. Look, I try really hard not to antagonize people, especially people I have to see & deal with all the time, ESPECIALLY people who share a roof/wall with me, but sometimes the “Oh, forgive me, I must be mistaken, because based on our last email (helpfully attached), I thought that (the opposite of this bullshit you’re trying to pull) was true. How would you like to handle this going forward? (So thoughtful of you to CC (our entire team)(both of our bosses) so I don’t have to type the addresses in myself)” email can be a thing of beauty and peace on earth.

This is not only the easiest way for you to handle it (by getting it off your plate and getting him off your jock) it’s the right thing to do since the other owners will need to sign off.

In the meantime, I would stop replying to him utterly about this topic and definitely stop giving him reasons why you can’t do it. You’ve told him that you can’t do it, why you can’t do it, and now here you are, where reasons are for reasonable people and private back-and-forth replies are for annoying you and making you mad but without getting anything done.

He’s trying to shame you for not doing what he wants you to do, when a) He is not the boss of you or of the building b) He’s the one who told you to hold off, and he won’t answer your question as to why it’s so important now, so he’s wrong on the fucking facts AND being a bully c) In professional life, when you know you’re not gonna get to something, the right thing to do is to admit it and kick it back to the team so that the work will get done. His way only works if you feel/accept the shame he’s trying to hand you. If you politely tell the whole building, “Hey, I’m so sorry, I know I said I’d handle it, but I know now that I won’t” you remove his lever to manipulate you and you also make his bullying emails about his daughter who is better than you in every way go *poof.*

His martyr complex is sadly *poof*-proof, but it can grind on someone else for a while. Maybe his daughter, clearly the greatest parent/condo association member of all time (OF ALL TIME) would enjoy hearing about it. He gets to quietly think that you’re unreliable (even if he’s incorrect), you get to quietly think that he’s a pompous asshole (correct), and as long as it all stays quiet and isn’t filling up your inbox every day, that sounds pretty okay. I hope all goes well with your busy late 2016.

 

 


03 Aug 14:29

Look, I got a sex toy manicure (at Finger Bang!)

by Epiphora
Kristen

ALL MY DREAMS HAVE COME TRUE

Sex toy manicure from Finger Bang! Featuring dildos, vibrators, kegel balls, a butt plug, and a harness.

[Top: Ryder, Pure Wand, Magic Wand Rechargeable, Mona 2.
Bottom: Luna Beads, Joque, Mustang, Seduction. Photo by my boyfriend!]

In the past, there was no option for me to enshrine my favorite objects — sex toys — on my fingernails. For one, I bit my nails ravenously until about 4 years ago (obsessively painting them helped me stop). Also, I feel like most traditional nail salons would not take kindly to a request for such “lewd” designs, and my life is just so lewd.

But now there exists a place called Finger Bang. Aside from having a name that is irresistibly fun to say in front of your in-laws (after which you shrug nonchalantly and go “what? That’s what it’s called”), Finger Bang is open until midnight to accommodate folks with non-traditional schedules and lives. They are known for their incredible hand-drawn designs, and they are no strangers to obscenity. Hell, the owner has stated that she wanted Finger Bang to be a place where she wouldn’t have to worry about anyone being “offended if I was talking about getting fucked in the ass the night before.”

This week I’m traveling to Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit, and I knew it was time to finally experience this glorious place — and to entrust them with my dream manicure.

Sex toy manicure from Finger Bang! Featuring dildos, vibrators, kegel balls, a butt plug, and a harness.I began plotting my sex toy choices with a friend about a week ago. “Obviously,” I began, “Pure Wand and Mona.” From there, I figured I wanted some toy type diversity (definitely kegel balls and a harness, in addition to dildos and vibrators), and some material diversity (wood, for sure). Only my most favorite toys were eligible for immortalization, although some had to be vetoed because they “just wouldn’t look cool,” such as the Stronic Eins, Touch, and Eroscillator. I printed out pictures of all the toys I wanted, including back-up toys in case some were too complex.

I was nervous going into my appointment. Not because of the sex toy aspect, but because Places of Femininity always make me feel like a fish out of water. One time I neglected to bring my own nail file to a salon and got some serious stink eye from my manicurist, like, what, aren’t you a WOMAN, why don’t you KNOW this woman thing? But Finger Bang’s atmosphere was far from average — buzzing with conversation and adorned with Star Wars figurines and TV screens playing The Shining. Oh, and the door had a decal warning racists, homophobes, and assholes to stay away.

My nail artist Brittany was not surprised by my sex toy design requests, although she told me she had yet to do any “adult” nail art on anyone. (Apparently some people go in for mystery manicures and tell her, “please, no vaginas or dicks!” — as if that were the default.) Complicating matters was the fact that I wanted specific toys, not generic toys like any old rabbit or a set of anal beads. She worried some of the toys I chose were too simple, but I reassured her they’d be instantly recognizable to the people who matter.

The manicure took a while to complete — about 3 hours — but most of my time was spent in awe of how any human can paint such tiny things with such tiny brushes. I chose a minty base color that happens to match one of my pairs of Converse, with a few glittery accent nails. What do my thumbs saySheVibe, of course, who are sending me to Woodhull once again this year. What did my girlfriend get on their nails, meanwhile? Pokémon, obviously.

With tip, this manicure cost about $100. But LOOK AT IT, clearly it is worth that price. Look at that butt plug pinkie nail. Look at that peeking-in Hitachi. It’s fucking awesome. Gel manicures are supposed to hold up for weeks, and so far it’s lasted a full day of wrenching open sex toy packaging at work, so I feel hopeful. At the very least, I am going to have the most relevant manicure at Woodhull, and anyone who can name all the toys on my fingernails will instantly be my pal.

© Epiphora. This post, "Look, I got a sex toy manicure (at Finger Bang!)," appeared originally on Hey Epiphora. If it is posted outside of valid feed readers, it is a copyright violation which has been scraped illegally. Please email hey.epiphora [at] gmail.com if you see this happening.

01 Aug 14:56

Hoopla

by mark

As a long-time fan of both audio books and getting stuff for free, I often look towards such awesome services as LibriVox for free, public-domain books. When I can’t find anything interesting (which is becoming more frequent), I typically purchase something newer from Audible, AudioBooks.com, etc.

I did discover OverDrive, a fairly well-known service that is closely linked to local public libraries across the country, but have been continually disappointed with it for a number of technical reasons, either on my end or theirs. While searching for alternatives to OverDrive, I discovered a newer, very similar service called Hoopla.

Like OverDrive, Hoopla is linked to the public library system. I thought I’d give it a try. Six months later I haven’t looked back. Signup for Hoopla is free, but since this service is linked to the public library system, you’ll need to register at least one valid library card. If you or a family member are members of multiple public libraries, you can register all of them and have access to any content in any of the libraries for which you are a member.

Hoopla offers audio books, movies, music, eBooks, Comics, and TV shows. Just like the library, you are limited in how many items you can check out (6 per month), and the number of copies of any item is limited to the number allocated to the particular library you are utilizing. If all copies of an item are checked out, you can reserve a copy and you’ll be notified when one is available for checkout. I’ve been impressed with the content available, noting several best sellers appearing the same month they were published. Of course, you may well have to reserve copies of the more popular items, but when I signed up I immediately found (and checked out) two items that were already in my Audible wish list.

So far I’ve only checked out audio books, but I’ve had no issues with listening to them either through my browser or on my iPhone. I always make it a habit of looking at Hoopla first before purchasing from Audible. As a result, I’ve had to temporarily suspend my Audible account because I’m accumulating credits faster than I’m spending them. That’s a good thing.

-- Tad Ghostal

Hoople (Free)

Available from Amazon

01 Aug 11:45

How my silicone wedding ring represents marriage as a whole

by Tara
Silicone wedding ring by Thunderfit
Silicone wedding ring by Thunderfit

Marriage is hard guys. No one who's been in it for more than a couple of months is going to tell you differently.

Now don't get me wrong, I love being married. I married young, and haven't (really) regretted it once. But the marriage and the life that I have today is very different from the one I would have envisioned when we walked down the aisle and exchanged rings of gold almost five years ago. Especially considering the events of the last six months…

I had a breakdown in April. After months of mood swings and panic attacks, depressions so deep and dark that suicide seemed like the inevitable light at the end of the tunnel, and days spent hiding out in the bathroom at work to cry, or vomit, as needed, I finally accepted that something had to change. I quit my high-stress, well-paying job. My family doctor recognized how seriously ill I was, and referred me to a psychiatrist.

I was unemployed and broken. My self-esteem was shot. And soon I had a name for the monster inside of my head: Bipolar Disorder.

I felt like a burden of a wife. I felt like I had pulled a terrible con on the man I loved; I thought that had he known how defective I was from the start, he would never have married me. I felt like a monster. Suddenly instead of plucky Jane Eyre, I was the terrifying wife in the attic that eventually burns the house down.

But my husband did something amazing. He loved me. He accepted me. He held my hand when it all felt like too much. And, on my good days, he helped me live life to the fullest. He never judged me when I was too depressed to move for days at a time, or when mania took hold and suddenly all of the furniture in the house was rearranged by the time he returned from work.

He did admit that things had changed. He did admit that he too had pictured something different for this stage of our life. But he also did everything he could to make me understand that I was not alone. That whatever my life was going to be, he was going to live his right alongside me.

With medications and therapy I'm starting to do a lot better now. But it is an uphill battle, and one that I am likely to be fighting to some degree for the rest of my life.

We went for a drive the other night, up a mountain road to a beautiful look-out. I looked my husband in the eyes and told him I loved him. I thanked him for all he had done over the last several months, and I gave him a new wedding ring.

This one is silicone, and I have one to match. They are flexible, as we now know that we have to be every day in a marriage. The are comfortable, as marriage should be. And most importantly, they never have to leave our fingers; whether we are at work or at play, they can survive it all.

I still have my original gold wedding band, but my silicone ring now seems so much more of a real representation of marriage to me.

Recent Comments

  • BethB: Just wanted to say how impressed I am with your strength and resilience. I hope your husband continues to improve.… [Link]
  • Alex: Fit Ring™ Silicone Wedding Rings have a unique pi logo (part of the formula for a circle like a ring)… [Link]
  • Tara: Thank-you for sharing your story. As terrible as it is for the person in the midst of a mental health… [Link]
  • Dreamdeer: I have a bipolar husband to whom I have been married for 31 years. I have my own struggles… [Link]
  • Rinnie: oh man did this hit home for me today. But coming from the other end--we recently found out my husband… [Link]

+ 1 more! Join the discussion

29 Jul 20:55

How to Shop for Solar Power: Solar Panels, Inverters, and More

by Mark Smirniotis
Kristen

RELEVANT

solar-power-system-panels

With solar power, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Every installation needs to take into account electricity consumption, geographic location, roof orientation, local permits, and a host of other issues. This guide walks you through those concerns and how to decide whether to DIY or to hire a contractor to install and manage your system. Once you have a rough idea of how much power you’ll need, in most cases the first option you should consider is a grid-tied system made up of Suniva Optimus 335W monocrystalline solar panels paired with SolarEdge P400 power optimizers, plus a SolarEdge inverter at the heart of it all.

26 Jul 17:43

Vegetable Keep Sack

by mark

Being an avid home cook in New York City, having space to work is more important than any tool (except maybe a good chef’s knife). Finding these hanging vegetable keep sacks from design-savvy cookware company Mastrad was a revelation and meant I had at least one drawer freed up.

I’ve had mine hanging under the cabinet for two years, and they keep potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables dry, dark, and out of the way. The design is simple: a canvas tube, lined with cotton, with a filling drawstring at the top and a dispensing drawstring at the bottom, slightly angled to keep the tubers from dumping all over the floor.

I belong to a CSA, so for a few weeks in the fall, I am absolutely swimming in potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, and shallots. If I had the space I’d create a root cellar, but one (or a few) of these sacks keeps my roots from sprouting or getting moldy for weeks. The internet is swarming with cutesy containers to keep potatoes, but loose baskets, modular plastic, and bulky burlap don’t keep potatoes in the darkness they need. There are bins you can build into the sides of cabinets, but as a renter, it’s key that I can screw in an anchor, hang the colorful bag for all to see, then easily take it down to refill it or when I move.

They’re cheap, washable, and come in three sizes (with illustrations of potatoes, onions, and garlic, respectively, but free to be you and me) As a cook in a small kitchen, I lust after big mixers and expensive gadgets, but I am grateful for my potato sacks.

-- Sam Roth

Vegetable Keep Sack ($11)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon