Shared posts

12 Jul 09:00

Low Profile Washer Head Cabinet Screw

by mark

I used these screws recently to reorganize the shelves, cabinets, tracks, and hooks in my garage. Previously, I had used cheaper standard framing wood screws, supplemented with washers in some cases. With fatter standard wood screws, I needed to drill the hole first. These thinner, self-drilling cabinet screws require no drilling and can be applied to a standard wall stud, through drywall, with a low-torque device, rather than an impact driver. When no pre-drilling is necessary, the job moves more than twice as fast because I have no mess to clean up. Yes they are more expensive but these screws easily paid for themselves in the time I saved. Love ‘em.

-- Benjamin W. Friedman

Low Profile Washer Head Cabinet Screw (100 screws for $30)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

11 Jul 14:30

What Kitchen Tools Do You Bring on Vacation? — Reader Intelligence Request

by Geraldine Campbell

Relevant! My cabin-box for the state park cabins/airBNBs always includes a colander and mixing bowl, measuring spoons and cups, a bottle of PAM, chopping boards and various spatulas etc, spices etc.

(Image credit: Cambria Bold)

This summer I'm hoping to escape the city and take up residence in a little cottage by the sea for a week or two. Top of mind as I plot my getaway is my packing list. I'm not talking about my summer wardrobe — I'm talking about my kitchen tools.

My chef's knife is a given, but do I need my cast iron? What about my coffee grinder? Will the rental have a corkscrew? Or measuring cups and spoons? Help me out: Which tools are essential, and which should be left behind?


29 Jun 14:45

How to stay happily married while renovating

by Raf Howery

These are excellent tips!

Photo by @nathan_son_of_bruce
Photo by @nathan_son_of_bruce

Huh? Is this really a serious issue? Unfortunately, it is. And I have been asked about it multiple times, since my wife and I have completed four separate renovations and, even though we went through some tough spells, we're still happily married.

Here's what we learned along the way, and what we did to remain happily married while renovating…

Decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be

Before we began any renovation process, we decided who the ultimate decision-maker will be whenever there is a deadlock. You could separate the decision authority based on the different competences you each have… If you are good at budgeting, then by all means control the finances, and have the last say — but agree on that with your significant other first. In other words, decide who is the boss is in which areas before you even start the process.

You should also think about what kind of conflicts you may encounter and what the rule of thumb should be when they happen. Write them down and keep the list in front of you. These will be your temporary marital vows during your renovation.

Price your shopping wish list before you begin

Budget has a lot to do with your product wish list — from the marble, to your fixtures and appliances — and is often the main controversial and quarrel-initiating factor. Be in the know before you begin to alleviate any potential conflicts regarding spend. Figure out where your tastes lie, and price it out ahead of time. Get the material budget defined very clearly, and make sure that when you hire the contractor, the allowance for those projects match your budget. (An allowance is the part of the bid that the contractor gives you to buy the materials you want for things like kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and roofing.)

One of you should be doing all the communication with the contractor

This may seem extreme to some, but, trust me, you can avoid conflicts by streamlining all communications. Choose one of you to communicate and that same person should preferably own the budget, too. If one of you is playing bad cop with the contractor, make sure he or she is not the main communicator.

Take vacations during the dusty period

Dust and dirt makes it hard to be happy. Whenever possible, pack your bags and go somewhere else. There are many ways you can keep track of your renovation if you're not on site. You can go back once the dust settles.

Be understanding of the other's signs of fatigue and frustration

Being frustrated at your spouse's frustration is going to get you nowhere. One of you needs to be up when the other is down. Resist the urge to be influenced by your partner's mood. Step up and be strong until he or she is up again. Discussing this beforehand will go a long way when these feelings arise in either of you during the renovation.

Manage, manage and manage proactively

Managing a renovation can be tough. It requires great project management skills, and understanding of construction tasks and their interdependencies. Once you spend the time talking to your contractor to understand your renovation project plan — task by task, and the flow of the renovation — draw up a timeline with your significant other so you are both on the same page.

You probably already know which one of you is more organized, so you can now go ahead and put the timeline on that spouse's smartphone calendar, and set up alerts for him or her to check on the progress of every task. Do the same with the materials you need to purchase.

And give yourselves enough lead time for every product so that you don't face any unpleasant surprises down the line.

Turn shopping trips into shopping dates

If you are both into the project, you should try to transform your shopping days into actual dates. This is the most enjoyable part of the entire journey, so have some fun while selecting the things that will be part of your home. Take the time to enjoy browsing, dreaming, spending and romancing. It will strengthen your relationship and understanding of each other as you both build your cocoon.

Any renovation can be tough, but by being informed and organized, clearly delineating responsibilities and making a romantic journey of improving your nest, everyone wins.

What tips do you guys have for renovating your home, but not ruining your relationship?

Recent Comments

  • Jennifer Long: THIS! I actually have a draft of a guest post written about how our marriage survived our DIY bathroom remodel… [Link]
  • VaseyDaisy: Yes to shopping dates! My husband and I did two renovations so far; our tiny kitchen, and our only bathroom… [Link]
  • k: The last item on this list made me smile - my parents have done a ton of renovating to their… [Link]
  • SonyaG: I agree with all this. Additional tips if you are living in your reno and doing it yourself:… [Link]
  • Colleen: For us, that hasn't been a problem for two reasons: - Each home we've bought has a different architectural… [Link]

+ 3 more! Join the discussion

23 Jun 18:00

Learning That Depression Lies: My Mental Health Management Strategy

by Katie Klabusich

Those of us with the types of depression that ebb and flow, insidiously creeping up when we least expect it, might not have our shields up and ready when the tide comes in. But a few months ago I happened to feel another bout of depression looming before it knocked me off my feet and accidentally discovered a strategy for fighting it.

Read more Learning That Depression Lies: My Mental Health Management Strategy at The Toast.

13 Apr 05:01

Indie Lingerie Challenge Review #4: The Antoinette Set by Buttress & Snatch

by Holly Jackson
Antoinette Set by Buttress & Snatch

Antoinette Set by Buttress & Snatch

This set was provided for review by Buttress & Snatch. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I already posted a huge number of pictures from the latest Buttress & Snatch size expansion earlier this week, but pictures only ever tell part of the story. This week, I’ll be reviewing the Antionette set from the new line! I was lucky enough to get one of the early sample sets and if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know how immediately I fell in love with it. If you don’t have time to stick around for the review and way too many pictures, here’s the short version: This line is exquisite and worth the money. I’m already planning what I’ll pick up next. 

If you are interested in the details, let’s get started! I asked for this set in a 36H, but also provided measurements where they were needed. Since this was one of the earlier sets from the line, I was actually ready for it to show up with fit or quality control issues (if you aren’t aware, this is pretty common with new lines). What I wasn’t expecting was a beautiful set full of amazing details that fit like a glove – and that was exactly what came in the mail!

The Curvy Antoinette Set from Buttress & Snatch aka My Preciouss

The Curvy Antoinette Set from Buttress & Snatch aka my preciouss

I didn’t pick which set I wanted and I was sort of tickled to see that Rachel picked a set that was right up my alley. The rich raspberry sheen that this set has is just amazing, but is also extremely difficult to photograph. It both looks and feels extra luxe. The icing on the cake is the draped tulle fabric that provides coverage and makes this bra ideal if you’re full on top. The whole thing is covered in bows, an extra layer of lace and is basically the closest I’ve ever come to wearing a fancy French dessert. You can pry it out of my cold and dead hands at this point.

Tulle top cup of bra

Tulle top cup of bra

Detail shot of bra cup

Detail shot of bra cup

Front flat view of bra

Front flat view of bra

In terms of sizing, this feels extremely close to my regular 36H that I wear in Panache and other UK based brands. One of my issues with indie lingerie brands is that sometimes the underwires just don’t hold up to what mainstream brands are using. Wires are expensive and come in huge quantities, so that’s more a supply issue than something most indies are choosing to do. That said, these wires are great! I don’t know what magic Rachel has sourced and how, but they feel more substantial than the wires that most indie brands use. Despite being a boudoir bra, this has held up to running errands and other odds and ends quite well.

Antoinette panties - close up

Antoinette panties – close up


These panties are high-waisted in the front and barely there in the back, which is a great way to make them feel both supportive and super sexy. The knicker designs for the curve collection were based on 1960’s panty girdles, which I feel like is bound to put some people off. If you’re worried about feeling like a stuffed sausage, don’t be. These are definitely more substantial than your average panty, but they don’t feel like shapewear. They do have an extra layer of what I assume is powermesh, but it’s really for smoothing rather than shaping. I’ve done lots of wear testing of this set by now and it’s never been anything but supremely comfortable. These were a UK size 18 and fit perfectly.

I love this set and I’m already planning to pick a set (or two) up once the weather warms up and I get through my closet clearout. I’m really interested in seeing how the more “everyday” style sets stack up against the boudoir style sets in terms of comfort and support. I foresee being a regular customer of this line as long as it is around. I’m always lamenting how I would pay more for interesting bras in my size if they only existed, so I’m excited to have finally found a great source for them!

What do you think of the Antoinette Set? Are you planning on trying the new Buttress & Snatch line?

The post Indie Lingerie Challenge Review #4: The Antoinette Set by Buttress & Snatch appeared first on The Full Figured Chest.

15 Jun 17:00

On Not Being a Mom or a Dad

by B.A. Beasley

Powerful read.

My kid and I, we’re fine. She knows who I am, and for right now, she sees me more clearly than anyone I’ve ever known, because she doesn’t know yet what it’s supposed to mean to be a man or a woman, or a mom or a dad. She just knows me.

Read more On Not Being a Mom or a Dad at The Toast.

31 May 14:00

Straddler Nation: Building Safe(r) Spaces for Queers IRL

by Carmen
Indystraddlers doin' their thing.

How do real-life communities based off of online ones maintain safe and inclusive spaces? Let's talk about it!

The post Straddler Nation: Building Safe(r) Spaces for Queers IRL appeared first on Autostraddle.

25 May 16:39

Blue Shift: DEET Is Actually Quite Safe—Really

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner

blue shift deet feature

If you’re worried about the Zika virus (and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you have reason to be), you should stop worrying about DEET. Even on infants older than 2 months. And especially if you’re pregnant. In fact, even though DEET hasn’t been tested on pregnant women in their first trimester, experts are now saying that it’s okay for all pregnant women to use insect repellents that contain DEET, since the danger of Zika to an unborn baby is higher than any potential danger from DEET.

Poor DEET—nobody wants to invite it to their birthday party. And that’s very sad, because DEET is the most tested insect repellent available on the market. “Concerns over the safety of DEET first emerged during the 1980s after reports of encephalopathy following DEET exposure, particularly in children. However, the role of DEET in either the illness or deaths was and remains purely speculative,” says this recent meta-study on the safety of DEET.

That sentiment is echoed in this 2015 paper (subscription required) on insect repellent: “During the 1980s and 1990s there were several reports of encephalopathy following DEET exposure in children. However, risk assessments by both the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and independent publications, as well as a clinical trial, found no association between encephalopathy and DEET use, and no toxological risk or severe effects except after inappropriate use (ingestion, direct inhalation, or eye exposure).”

The Division of Toxicology and Human Health Sciences looked into the health effects of DEET, as well, and found that over 40 years of use, from 1961 to 2002, eight DEET-related deaths occurred. Three were of people intentionally drinking it, two were of adults wearing it, and three were of girls under 6 who underwent “heavy” use. One of those girls had a health condition that may have contributed to her death.

Repellent Use Safe for babies (2 months to 3 years)1 Safe for kids (3 years and up) Safe for pregnant people
Oil of lemon eucalyptus Skin and clothes No Yes, animal tested Yes, animal tested
Picaridin Skin and clothes No Yes, animal tested Yes, animal tested
IR-3535 Skin and clothes Yes, adult tested Yes, adult tested Yes, adult tested
DEET Skin and clothes Yes, infant tested2 Yes, kid tested2 Yes, tested with pregnant people2

That being said, DEET is the safest bug repellent out there, according to both the CDC (PDF) and the EPA. It’s also one of the few okayed for use on babies as young as 2 months, and on pregnant women in their second and third trimesters.

Because people are worried about this type of thing, most bottles of DEET tell you to wash it off after use. This step is to minimize your exposure, said Dr. Mark Fradin, a dermatologist who co-authored one of the seminal papers on the efficacy of mosquito repellents, in an interview. But DEET is “a remarkably safe product when used intelligently.” So follow those rules on the can.

The alternatives aren’t necessarily safer. Picaridin hasn’t been safety-tested nearly as much as DEET, though it may be just as effective. Oil of lemon eucalyptus is most often a synthesized, lab-made compound also known as PMD. According to the CDC, neither type is suitable for use on kids younger than 3, because they are severe eye irritants and kids that little tend to rub their eyes a lot. And PMD is not the same as the “pure” oil of lemon eucalyptus, which is not recommended for use as a repellent as it hasn’t been tested for efficacy.

As for other options, according to the study that Fradin co-authored, so-called “natural” repellents don’t work nearly as well. We wouldn’t trust them to prevent mosquito bites.

For more information on alternative bug repellents, the best DEET concentration, and details about Zika, read our recommendation for the best bug repellent.

When a source of light moves toward you, its waves are compressed and pushed to a higher energy. We can’t always see this blue shift, but it’s there.

In the space of Internet science, there’s a lot of bad information floating around. In this biweekly column, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, chemistry PhD and science editor of The Sweethome, will tell you what you need to know on the science of home products, and what’s all around you.

(Top photo by Michael Hession, with illustration by Elizabeth Brown.)


1. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises not putting repellent on babies younger than 2 months old. Jump back.

2. All of these tests were observational studies, meaning the researchers looked back at past use and saw no harm. No one gave babies, children, or expectant mothers large amounts of DEET to see if it hurt them. Jump back.

24 May 14:00

Why Everyone Is Attracted To Baristas (It’s Because Of Late-Stage Capitalism)

by Mallory Ortberg


1. Because you haven't been able to find a stable office job in more than four years and coffee shops are some of the only places you can afford to spend more than half an hour in without having to admit you can no longer keep up with your friends financially

2. Because your parents romanticized blue-collar labor

Read more Why Everyone Is Attracted To Baristas (It’s Because Of Late-Stage Capitalism) at The Toast.

24 May 09:00


by mark

This stuff famously impressed the folks on Shark Tank enough to garner some investments. It’s not different in principle from using fiberglass and resin to patch something, but it’s a lot more convenient and tidier to use.

The package contains a little square of sandpaper to roughen up the surfaces a bit to enhance adhesion (although this is not addressed in the instructions and it’s something fix-it beginners might not know), a nice durable pair of vinyl gloves to keep your hands from getting glued to your garden tools, a sealed foil package containing a roll of the actual product (comes in varying widths and slightly varying lengths, but most readily available in 4″ by 60″ in big home improvement chains, etc.), a strip of vinyl which can be optionally applied to the outside of the fix before it hardens, then removed to leave a smoother surface, and a simple set of instructions.

The fabric doesn’t seem to be fiberglas, it appears to be some sort of polymer. The innovation here is the resin with which the repair tape is impregnated. The developers have managed to find something which is activated by exposure to water, hardens in minutes, is commendably sticky without being annoyingly hard to apply, and cures strong; all while being non-toxic (it says here). Thus, rather than trying to keep a wrap of fiberglass cloth tight with one hand while dabbing on resin with a drippy brush held in the other, you simply rip open the package, submerge the whole roll under water for 15 seconds or so, then wrap it around what you want to fix. It grabs the substrate quite nicely and similarly grabs itself, so that a nice solid repair is easy to make; 15 minutes later, it’s ready to use.

I used it to fix a digging fork which I habitually abuse horribly, whose wooden handle broke off at the end of the metal ferrule. Previous fixes have used a 6″ black iron pipe coupling which happens to be of the correct inside diameter, but that always eventually fails because the slight taper of the ferrule works itself loose from the inside of the pipe, even when epoxied in place.

The FiberFix, however, molds itself to the taper of the ferrule and doesn’t give it any wiggle room, in addition to adhering solidly to both the metal of the ferrule and the wood of the handle. When cured, the repair is now strong enough that I can’t break it with my overly aggressive levering on the fork; I expect it to last at least as long as the pipe coupling repair, and it was a heck of a lot easier and quicker to do. I was so impressed I went out and got a second package and did a similar wrap on my shovel, even though the handle is not yet broken, as a precautionary measure. (They never make the ferrules on these things long enough for me).

The wrap is designed to be used all at once when opened; exposure to the humidity in the air will activate the resin, so you can’t save half of it for next time. The package has a “best if used by” date approximately three years in the future; the package I used was purchased a year ago and has been sitting unopened on my shelf since then without any apparent degradation, so keeping a package around for emergency fixes of tools and returning them to service within half an hour without having to stop what you’re doing to go shopping is feasible.

The manufacturer suggests it can be used to fix leaky pipes as well, but I haven’t tried that yet.

-- Gerald Zuckier

FiberFix 4 Inch Repair Wrap ($8)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

20 May 11:45

Tips from a makeup artist: The 5 best lip balms and lip moisturizers

by Tania D. Russell
By: philograpfy
By: philograpfyCC BY 2.0

When you’re in the makeup biz, you really do think about product a lot. Therefore, when I write about makeup, I tend to gravitate to products that I’ve found that work for photographic use, and to the latest greatest of what’s happening in the cosmetics world. I am frequently reminded, however, that “normal people” (aka, non makeup artists/fanatics) do not think about these things at all — they just want some basic products that work so they can look their best and go on about their way. The reality is, when women find out I am a makeup artist, they are MUCH more likely to ask me what is the best mascara or moisturizer than they are to ask about some esoteric micro makeup brand.

So let's talk basics: The best lip balms and lip moisturizers! These are the things that real women ask me about all the time and all the time. Being a pro makeup artist I’ve gone through umpteen brands of each type of product and these are the ones that make my cut.

A word about what I look for in a lip balm:

First and foremost anything Petroleum based is out. Some folks love Petroleum based lip-balms, and if that’s you and it is working for you then great. Keep doing you. I do not like Petroleum based lip-balms at all. They do not actually moisturize, in my opinion, nor do I like the way they feel (greasy) and then as a makeup artist I cannot use them under lip color because they make the color “slip.” Therefore there will be no Carmex, Chapstick, Rosebud Salve (although I LOVE Rosebud salve for other things), or even the ever popular Keihl’s Lip Balm #1. I look for balms that are creamy in texture and feel and are derived from natural oils often in some kind of an oil/water emulsion formula. Here then are my picks of fabulous lip moisturizers…

burts beeswax

5. Burts Bees Beeswax Lip Balm

Burt’s is a classic and with good reason: it works. What is particularly nice about the Burt's Bees formula is not only is beeswax a natural wax, but it’s smooth yet dry in texture. Therefore it is very comfortable to wear — even men like it because it doesn’t feel like there is “something” on your lips — and it is usable under lip color. It is also naturally matte which makes it great for men’s grooming, or anytime a glossy look is undesirable. There are a zillion different versions of the Balm now some of which are oiler/glossier/more fancy-pants than others… For my money the road keeps leading back to the original formula. (Note: I have the tin pictured because that’s what I personally use, but Burt’s Bees Lip Balm is available in tubes as well)

Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment

4. Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment

I know what you’re thinking: Did I not just say that I do not like Petroleum based products? Well, that is correct. Let’s be clear: I am only talking about the lip OINTMENT, not any of the stick balms. The Blistex Ointment is not petroleum based. It has a little bit of petroleum in it, but petroleum is well down the list of ingredients. It's is pretty much unbeatable when you are dealing with dry, cracking, sunburned or any form of distressed lip, that is past the point of using a scrub. The main active ingredient is Dimethicone which acts as a barrier to protect the lips, and the next three active ingredients are Camphor, Menthol and Phenol all of which are healing ointments. These ingredients are set in a creamy, not waxy, base that really stays on the lips and heals them right up. When lips are crying for mercy, Blistex Ointment is there to answer the call.

Vegan Hemp Lip Balm

3. The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Lip Balm

Too many people hear the word “hemp” and their minds go to one wrong place. Hemp seed is very high in vitamins and omega-3 acids making it very healing (it is particularly beneficial for those suffering from eczema). The Merry Hempsters Vegan Hemp Lip Balm is just a good, basic no-frills balm. What’s unique about it, of course, is that it is vegan friendly, using plant-based candelilla wax instead of beeswax. This balm is smooth, creamy, long lasting, and everything I look for in a balm. Like Burt’s Bees it is dry enough for use under lip color.


2. Anita Grant Lippy Pucker Lip Balm

Anita Grant is a UK based personal care brand. I was first reeled into the brand by her haircare products for coily/curly hair, and I have been a devoted user ever since. One of the times I ordered her amazing Rhassoul Deep Hair Conditioner she slipped in a tube of her Lippy Pucker lip balm and I have been a fiend ever since. The Lippy Pucker is a blend of all-natural, largely organic vegetable oils blended with a couple of natural humectants (honey and castor oil) to make the smoothest, creamiest, most fantastic lipbalm I have ever used. It comes in a scrumptious array of natural flavors such as Tangy Lemon and Dark Chocolate, but I tend to stick to the un-flavored Original formula. Lippy Pucker is one of those rare lip moisturizers where not only do you not have to reapply constantly, but you can skip a day and your lips will still be soft. Oh yeah. It’s like that. I use it underneath lipgloss all the time without any problems. It might need to be blotted down a bit to but used underneath lipstick. While I wish I could just go to my local natural foods store and buy a tube, it is completely worth it to buy online, in my opinion.

So if Anita Grant is so amazing, what brand is #1 you say? Well, Anita Grant is what I use on myself on a day to day basis, but in my kit I use the one and only…

Malin and Goetz Lip Moisturizer

1. Malin and Goetz Lip Moisturizer

When I say you have never experienced anything like this product, I mean you have NEVER experienced anything like this product. Malin and Goetz exists in the realm where nature meets science. Unlike any of the other natural brands mentioned which just melt down a recipe of oils/butters/waxes, Malin and Goetz synthesizes the best properties of its naturally derived ingredients to create something altogether different. The result is a glossy lip moisturizing gel. It feels both hydrating and velvety at the same time. It is shiny like a gloss (so you minimal gals can wear it alone and be good to go) but it is not at all greasy or slippery so it works a dream underneath lip color. Like Lippy Pucker it is long lasting to the point where you can skip a day and your lips will still feel soft. It has barrier properties to protect dry lips from the elements, yet it penetrates into the lips and heals as opposed to just laying on the surface as most balms do. It’s just amazing, frankly. But since it is so potent you do not need much.

What are YOUR favorite lip balms and moisturizers?

Recent Comments

  • Shannon: As a dry-lipped vegan, this is one of my favorite topics. (So many good balms out there! So much beeswax… [Link]
  • Saffron: Ha! I clicked on this thinking "Ooh I wonder if there is anything better than Malin + Goetz" good to… [Link]
  • Kaaate: I definitely wouldn't say that people should use Carmex or anything like that for everyday stuff, but it is a… [Link]
  • Cassie: I have an issue with chapped lips and the corners of my mouth cracking (which is a sign of a… [Link]
  • KK: Here's my recent favorite lip balm. I got it as a freebie once and my lips stay moisturized for HOURS… [Link]

+ 5 more! Join the discussion

19 May 11:45

How do you tell your parents things they don't want to hear?

by Megan Finley


my parents
By: dalobeeeCC BY 2.0
I have a question for the Homies: How do you, as an adult in your agency, tell your parents things they don't want to hear?

For many reasons, including my religious and ethical beliefs, I feel I need to tell my parents that I am in a polyamorous relationship. I've previously come out to them as queer and trans, which feels different from this conversation.

Coming out feels like I'm sharing some information about myself so they can change their behavior; telling them that I'm dating more than one person feels like I'm selfishly telling them something they don't want to hear, so that I can live more honestly. How do I do this? -Colleen

Queer or straight. Poly or mono. Whatever. We ALL have had to tell things our parents didn't want to hear. How do YOU have tough talks with your parents?

Recent Comments

  • Louise: I'm so with Fawn on this. All I want to add is that, all you can do is share the… [Link]
  • Ok, i get it, now please stop. I truly regret that I ever made a comment and I never will… [Link]
  • SamanthaPink: I've never "come out" to my parents. This is not the same as being "in the closet." I simply rejected… [Link]
  • SamanthaPink: 1. Polyamory is a relationship dynamic, not a sexual orientation. 2. Asexual people both exist and have relationships, including… [Link]
  • My children have never hesitated to talk to me about anything, but I do live in a different city so… [Link]

+ 33 more! Join the discussion

18 May 12:00

Blue Shift: Why Dishwasher Rinse Aid Makes Dishes Cleaner and Drier

by Leigh Krietsch Boerner

Fascinating! Science!


Take a look in your dishwasher. You should see a little compartment for the detergent—and next to that, another little compartment. The second one is for the rinse aid, liquid stuff made up of surfactants and salts and acids. It’s designed to help your dishwasher work better, to give you cleaner and drier dishes that are all sparkly and pretty. Common concerns about rinse aid include whether it coats your dishes in gunk and hurts the environment, or whether it’s totally unnecessary. But a closer look reveals that it isn’t dangerous and is actually very helpful—your dishes will never get as clean without it.

Rinse aid really works

As much as we might like to believe the claim, rinse aid isn’t just a money grab for detergent companies.

You need rinse aid because dishwasher detergents don’t work the same as they used to. If you’ve read our guide to the best dishwashers, you know that in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators made detergent companies stop using phosphates, a great cleaning agent, because they can lead to algal bloom.

Says Liam McCabe in our dishwasher guide:

Every new dishwasher has a rinse-aid dispenser because rinse aid is essentially mandatory if you want your dishwasher to work well these days, according to every industry person we talked to. Rinse aid offsets the limitations resulting from gentler detergents and stricter efficiency standards—it’s just part of the deal now.

What’s in this stuff? And what does it do?

We’re going to use Finish Jet-Dry as our standard rinse aid, since that seems to be the dominant brand. (Disclaimer: Don’t take this as a recommendation! We haven’t tested any rinse aids, and we haven’t put this one through our normal Sweethome wringer.)

Finish Jet-Dry rinse aid has a bunch of stuff in it, but it isn’t complicated, really. Here’s a rundown of the contents:

  • Water is necessary to dissolve all the other stuff.
  • Alcohol ethoxylate is a nonionic (uncharged) surfactant that helps the water slide off your dishes better and thus helps them dry faster. This ingredient is probably the most important bit in rinse aids; more on how it works in a minute.
  • Sodium polycarboxylate is an anti-redeposition polymer that wraps itself around the crud that the dishwasher just washed off so that the bits don’t get stuck again on your dishes.
  • Citric acid, which RB (the company that makes Jet-Dry) calls a complexing/sequestering agent, is really good at grabbing calcium ions out of hard water. Calcium can bind with surfactants and keep them from cleaning and rinsing dishes, so citric acid acts as kind of a sacrificial lamb to keep calcium from interfering.
  • Sodium cumene sulfonate is another surfactant but with an electric charge, so it’s a bit better at breaking water’s surface tension on your dishes than alcohol ethoxylate, but it’s also more foamy (PDF). Foam is bad in a rinse aid, so that’s why such products use both kinds of surfactant.
  • Tetrasodium EDTA is a chelating agent. EDTA is short for ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid. It’s this funky-looking molecule that wraps its four arms around dissolved minerals in the water (such as calcium). The word chelate comes from the Greek word for “claw,” so you can imagine this molecule sinking its claws into minerals and whisking them away, similar to what citric acid does.
  • Methylisothiazolinone and methylchloroisothiazolinone (aka MI and MCI) are both preservatives, meaning they keep bacteria from growing in your bottle of rinse aid. Both are capable of causing skin allergies and are sensitizers, meaning that if you’re exposed to them over and over again, you can develop an allergy. But since rinse aid doesn’t sit on your skin and washes away completely from your dishes, I wouldn’t worry about it here.
  • CI Acid Blue 9 is dye. It makes the rinse aid blue. Why does it need to be blue? I have no idea, although colored solutions are easier to see in that little rinse-aid compartment.

As I mentioned above, the surfactants (short for “surface active agent”) are probably the most important part of rinse aid. Water is an oddly codependent molecule: It likes to hang on to its neighbors as much as possible. Water molecules on the surface freak out a bit because they don’t have any water molecules to hold onto above them, so they hang on doubly hard to their friends next door. This behavior is known as “high surface tension,” and it’s why water beads up on glasses and plates—the water would rather stick to itself than spread out on the plate.

Surfactants can break this high tension because they give those surface water molecules something they’d like to hang on to instead of their neighbors. So the water that used to bead up on your glass then spreads out in a thin layer. Water in a thin layer evaporates much more easily than beaded-up water, so your dishes come out dry at the end of the cycle.

Another major thing rinse aids do is prevent water spots on glasses. Remember the sequestering and chelating agents in there, citric acid and tetrasodium EDTA? These components grab the stuff that makes water spots—dissolved minerals such as calcium—and whisks them away. If they’re rinsed away, they don’t stay behind in the water, so no spots. Magic.

The last really important bit is that anti-redeposition agent, sodium polycarboxylate. It keeps food bits in the wash water from ending up back on your dishes.

Why do you need more surfactants? Isn’t detergent made of surfactants?

Yes, dishwashing detergent contains surfactants. But it also has hella complexing agents and enzymes. Different surfactants are better at different things: Some are better at cleaning, and some are better at breaking up water’s self-bonding party. The latter are the kind that tend to be in rinse aids. If you’re thinking you’ll be smart and just use extra detergent, womp womp. If you put in extra detergent, not all of it will rinse away cleanly, leaving you with a film of detergent on your dishes. Too much detergent can even etch glasses. Don’t do it.

What if you don’t want this crap on your dishes?

According to the customer service rep I talked to at Finish, if you use rinse aid properly—that is, put your dishwasher on the hottest, longest cycle—no residue will remain on your dishes. That’s the ideal situation. But what about less-than-ideal situations? According to the 16-ounce bottle of Finish Jet-Dry rinse aid, it has 150 washes of stuff in there, or 0.1 ounce per wash.1

Assuming that no rinse aid gets rinsed off during the wash cycle, the concentration of rinse aid in the dishwasher water is about 0.0005 ounce per rinse. Divide that among all of the dishes in your dishwasher, and you get … a really tiny amount. And at least some of it, maybe all of it, will get rinsed off.

What if you don’t want this crap in the environment?

As we say in our dish soap guide, water-treatment plants do a good job of cleaning surfactants out of the water. Two of rinse aid’s ingredients, alcohol ethoxylate and sodium cumene sulfonate, are considered low risks (PDF) to aquatic life. Another ingredient, tetrasodium EDTA, has a toxicity that’s a bit complicated because it almost always has some kind of ion (such as calcium) attached to it in water, which changes its chemistry. However, it isn’t a big risk with normal home use (PDF). Everything else checked out as having low toxicity to aquatic life. So unless your dishwasher drains directly to a stream (who are you?), rinse aids seem to pose little environmental risk.

What about vinegar in a cup? Is that cheaper, and does it work the same as rinse aid?

Yes and no. People all over Internet-land suggest using vinegar instead of commercial rinse aid, but this approach has two problems. First, you should not put vinegar in the rinse-aid dispenser in your dishwasher. Vinegar is a strong enough acid to melt the rubber gaskets in the rinse-aid dispenser. Bad. Some people suggest running a rinse cycle with the vinegar in a cup on the top rack, and this tactic can work. It is a bit of a pain, since you need to stop your dishwasher and put the cup in just before the rinse cycle. It also doesn’t work as well as rinse aid. Vinegar can be a chelator, but it’s not as good as EDTA. It can also mess with the surface tension of water, but not as well as alcohol ethoxylate and sodium cumene sulfonate. So it’s cheap (cheap-ish, actually—working in such small amounts, it’s hard to say), but in this case you get what you pay for.

So do you really need rinse aid?

Well, no, not really. They’re your dishes, do whatever the hell you want. But if your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher wet, or with food bits still stuck to them, give rinse aid a whirl. Or try the vinegar-in-a-cup thing. Life is an experiment—play with it and find what works best for you.

When a source of light moves toward you, its waves are compressed and pushed to a higher energy. We can’t always see this blue shift, but it’s there.

In the space of Internet science, there’s a lot of bad information floating around. In this biweekly column, Leigh Krietsch Boerner, chemistry PhD and science editor of The Sweethome, will tell you what you need to know on the science of home products, and what’s all around you.

(Top photo by Michael Hession, with illustration by Elizabeth Brown.)


1. Bosch, the company that makes our dishwasher pick, told Liam McCabe that 3.5 drops of rinse aid is used per dishwasher cycle. One drop is technically 0.05 milliliters, so that’s about 0.175 mL of rinse aid per each cycle. Since 0.1 ounce, the amount I used in the above calculations, is about 3 mL, somebody’s off here. I used the higher number because a too-high estimate is better than a too-low estimate in this case. We’re not exactly sure how much water your dishwasher uses in the rinse cycle, but we did find an older GE manual that says just running a rinse cycle uses 1 gallon of water. Dishwashers are different, so we’re guesstimating that the rinse cycle on most dishwashers uses about 1.5 gallons of water. One gallon is about 128 ounces, so 1.5 gallons is 192 ounces. Jump back.

17 May 19:29

My New Rabbit Hole: Mori Girl Fashion

by Jen


I'm about as far as you can get from a fashionista; I hate trying on clothes, so my closet is a museum of ancient Ross and thrift store finds, and most of the time I'm just wearing jeans, a geek tee, and matching chucks. BUT. A big chunk of my heart belongs to ruffly skirts, flowy shirts, lots of layers, and, well, this kind of stuff:

I would wear that post-apocalyptic Lolita thing on the right (made by Stilecht) EVERY DANG DAY.

In fact, I've had that outfit Pinned to my woefully bare "Fashion" board for years, so a few months ago I went back to it and checked out Pinterest's "Related Pins."

That's how the obsession began, you guys.

I quickly discovered something called "Mori Girl" - which I now know is Japanese for "Forest Girl" - and fell in love. It's a fashion sub-culture that's checkin' all my boxes: loose frilly skirts, an A-line silhouette, lots of layers, boots, and NO HEELS. (Can I get an "hallelujah?")

One of my favorite examples of Mori style is Mai Magi up there of Shortcut To The Stars (a Tumblr site that's gone now, sadly):

Mai's rockin' a "Dark Mori" variation here, which has a more goth vibe with lots of blacks and gray.

Loooove this silhouette.

Classic Mori Girls wear lots of white linens and lighter colors, though still with an emphasis on natural fibers and muted colors:


 Of course heavy layering is tantamount to heatstroke here in Florida - or most places during Summer - so next I went on a mission for lighter Mori looks.

» Read More
15 May 23:03

My Skincare Routine for Hormonal Cystic Acne, 2016 Edition

by fanserviced


I Bought It Purchased with Referral Credit** Press Samples*** Affiliate Links “Where do you get skin like that–from your parents or does it come in a bottle?” Umm. Reader, I think the earth sort of wobbled under my feet when I heard that. I was wearing expensive, amazing foundation at the time, but I haven’t...

Read More »

The post My Skincare Routine for Hormonal Cystic Acne, 2016 Edition appeared first on fanserviced-b.

09 May 10:00

23 No-Mess Snacks For Board Game Night

by Crystal



23 one-hand, no-mess snacks for game night that will have your friends full and your board games clean as a whistle.

The post 23 No-Mess Snacks For Board Game Night appeared first on Autostraddle.

13 Apr 03:41

Check your privilege and your facts before discussing sex selective abortion

by Dr. Jen Gunter

Dr. Brian Goldman, in his blog for CBC radio, wrote about the new article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on the sex ratio after induced abortion in Ontario, i.e. sex selective abortion.

The article in the CMAJ confirms what is no surprise to me as an OB/GYN, that the ratio of male to female births for a third child born to women who emigrated to Canada from India who had two previous girls is statistically improbable, basically 2 boys for every girl. The male:female infant ratio after 2 girls was 1.77 times higher if the current birth was preceded by 1 induced abortion, 2.38 times higher if preceded by 2 or more induced abortions and 3.88 times higher if the induced abortion was performed at 15 weeks or more.

There are lots of issues with Dr. Goldman’s piece and I am compelled to address what I feel are his main points as I am sure he isn’t alone in his thoughts. 

1. “The fact it’s happening means that health care providers are carrying out abortions, no questions asked without asking about the motivation behind the request.”

Yes, providers do abortions no questions asked. That is medical care. 

While I don’t do abortions now I used to and I learned that skill in my Canadian residency. The four great men who trained me to do abortions (because sadly it was only men doing them at my program) never once questioned why a woman chose to have an abortion. They trusted women. Completely. They taught me empathy. I was trained to provide care not to judge.

I was also taught how to counsel women and to the best of my ability make sure that a woman was getting the care she wanted without coercion. I learned how to talk with women about abortion versus continuing their pregnancy and adoption and also about the importance of post-procedure contraception. Every abortion provider I know does this. Some women share their story and others do not. 

But motivation? Oh God that word offends me. Who decides what is appropriate motivation for an abortion and what is not? The abhorrent concept of “motivation” is the very reason Canadian “abortion panels” were dismantled. Women used to have to beg and plead their case in front of three “experts,” like a medieval tribunal. Scratch that, not like it was a medieval tribunal. I grew up in the era of abortion panels and that is exactly why I became an OB/GYN.

Once you start telling women they have to have the right reason for an abortion you have inserted the thin edge of the wedge regarding abortion restrictions. Who gets to decide what is a needed abortion, three people who know nothing about a woman or the woman herself? When you say a woman’s motivation for abortion needs to be evaluated you are patriarchy. Like she hasn’t thought about it already? News flash, when a woman who wants an abortion is denied access birds don’t flock to assemble a nursery and she don’t suddenly say, “Oh gosh, I guess you are right, I really didn’t put any thought into this whole abortion thing at all because I’m just a silly, stupid woman.”

There is no medical reason to know a woman’s reason for abortion save a later procedure for anomalies. Would an autopsy be helpful? If yes then you recommend an induction. That’s it. 

In residency I wondered why some women had repeat abortions when they were offered such intense contraception counseling post procedure and so that became my research project which was, coincidentally, also published in the CMAJ. Physical and sexual abuse it turns out are risk factors for repeat pregnancy terminations (something the current article does not address), but stopping abortion when those factors are present doesn’t magically stop abuse.

Abortion is a symptom, not the problem.

“He beat me very badly after I had my last girl, I can’t go through that again,” a woman once told me. What exactly were this woman’s options who spoke limited English, had no job and depended on her husband for money. She took a bus to her abortion because she didn’t drive and would have to explain the money for a cab. Do I judge her? Do I with my upper middle class upbringing and the earning potential of a physician say, “Sorry honey, not tragic enough?” And what if she doesn’t get that abortion and is then beaten to death in her third trimester or after she delivers? I’ve seen that, but no one writing about the “evils” or “moral ambiguity” of sex selective abortion mentions maternal abuse or murder. 

“Motivation” is a lot more complex than any study can tell you.

2. “These women are undergoing medical procedures that I would certainly regard as unnecessary and potentially harmful to the mother.”

Wrong and wrong. No one except the woman gets to decide if her abortion is necessary.  Ever. Anything else is patriarchy.

Let’s be factual, abortion is not harmful. You know what is? Perpetuating that myth because ignorant politicians use it to write laws designed to punish women. No study has shown harm from abortion using modern techniques. In fact, abortion is about as safe as colonoscopy. It’s safer than pregnancy. Saying there is harm when there is not is either inadequate research or misogyny. It’s a tired trope and I’m sick of it.

What about eight pregnancies in search of a boy, is that not harmful? Why does no one ever mention that when they discuss harm? I have delivered many women who sobbed and looked away in disgust when they saw they had delivered their fifth or sixth or eighth girl, because they knew they would be back year after year until they delivered that coveted boy or died trying. How is that not violence against women?

If women have to justify their abortion why shouldn’t they have to justify their eighth pregnancy? The latter is far more dangerous than the former.

And yes, six additional deliveries is a lot more harmful than six abortions.

How many pregnancies must a woman endure in search of a boy before the patriarchy decides she is allowed to have an abortion? Three? Five? Eight? Fifteen?

3. “Multiple induced abortions are detrimental to a woman’s health and also to subsequent pregnancies.”

Nope and nope again. This line used by Dr. Goldman is taken from the CMAJ article, which makes me wonder about the objectivity of those who wrote it and once I stop raging I will certainly be writing a letter to the CMAJ. The article from PLOS quoted to support the “risks” in subsequent pregnancies with abortion doesn’t say that modern abortion has those risks at all, rather it says:

These findings support the established association between previous termination and preterm delivery. But most importantly, the changes in this association over the past two decades—from strong in 1980–1983 to nonexistent in 2000–2008—a period in which the use of medical termination and pre-treatment of the cervix for surgical termination increased dramatically in Scotland, suggest that surgical termination without cervical pre-treatment is responsible for the increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth: the decrease in the proportion of this procedure over the study period may have led to the disappearance of the established association between previous termination and preterm delivery from 2000 onwards.

Abortion does not lead to mental health issues breast cancer, or any other health implication – pregnancy-related or otherwise.

I don’t expect everyone to know that, but I do expect a doctor writing about abortion on a blog for CBC radio to know.

4. “A 2007 policy statement by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada said medical testing should not be used for sex selection, and pregnancy termination should not be permitted on that basis either.”  

Except that’s not exactly what it said. The SOGC doesn’t say pregnancy terminations should not be permitted it says, “The SOGC does not support termination of pregnancy on the basis of gender.” Not supporting and not permitting are of course two different things. But while we’re on the subject I wonder if the SOGC really means to suggest OB/GYNs should be scrutinizing women’s choices, because that is more than a little paternalistic.

Oh, and does the SOGC support permitting a ninth pregnancy in search of a boy?


Check. Your. Privilege.

5. “The most disturbing implication from this study is that sex selection meant that 4500 female fetuses in Canada and 100 million female fetuses worldwide were aborted and therefore not born.”  

No, that is not the most disturbing thing. The most disturbing thing is how people will twist the study to support bad policy and laws. 

The second most disturbing thing is the erroneous assertion in the article that modern second trimester abortions are a risk for preterm labor.

The third most disturbing thing is the lack of control women who didn’t chose abortion so we don’t know exactly how many pregnancies these women had to endure to have a boy.

You want to know what else I find disturbing? That in 2016 women are worth less than men. We still have an equal pay day, you know? Think there is some cause and effect there?

When the problem of women being worth less than men goes away the symptoms of sex selective abortions and multiple pregnancies in search of a boy will stop.

6. “I believe the practice should be stopped, but how?”

I believe in working towards equality for women, free or low cost access to long-acting reversible contraception, and trusting women. The end. Those goals will naturally reduce abortion, but I don’t support them because they will reduce abortion I support them because they empower women. They will also likely reduce multiple deliveries in  the quest for a boy.

We know laws don’t stop sex selective abortion and the nod at the end of the piece to choice and the fact that making abortion illegal would drive it “underground” come across as lip service. It’s the same uncomfortable pas de deux that many who identify as pro-choice have with sex-selective abortion, but there are no qualifiers for choice.

Even if stopping sex selective abortion were possible that won’t magically make women equal or cap every family at three, just as stopping domestic violence related abortion will not stop domestic violence. 

While I worry that a woman denied a sex selective abortion might seek unground care, I also worry if she doesn’t get the abortion she feels she needs she will be punished for having a girl. For the next 18 years. Or longer. Or that she faces a life of servitude to her uterus in search of a boy, a goal that ironically she can’t even control. I also worry that if she feels Western Society is judging her that she will be less likely to seek care of any kind or confide in her providers. 

Sex selective abortion and multiple pregnancies in search of a male heir are symptoms of misogyny and are proof that women’s lives are undervalued almost everywhere, even Canada.  To ignore the women who deliver their eighth girl and will be back for number nine is proof that sex-selective abortion has been twisted to be about abortion and not about sex selection. 

It appears that the trend towards abortion for sex selection disappears after a generation in Canada, which means that maybe people can come to believe in the equal worth of women – that to me is the most important message. Hopefully we are also seeing a reduction in the search for a boy not just a reduction in abortion.

Things are never as black and white as they seem and when discussions about abortion focus on sex-selection it makes it sound like a woman has the greatest value when she is a fetus. 

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 7.57.59 AM

09 May 14:45

No gnomes or buddhas: Garden art for atheist adults

by Megan Finley

That last macrame hanger makes me want to make one!!!

Yes, this is a dinosaur eating gnomes garden statue
Yes, this is a dinosaur eating gnomes garden statue
I'm looking for ideas and sources for garden statuary that do NOT feature religious iconography — like St Francis or the Buddha — but are not kitschy — like gnomes or dinosaurs.

Any ideas for garden art for atheist adults? -Elizabeth

Wow, you're right. It's a bit difficult to find garden statues that don't sway religious or kitschy-as-hell! On my first try, I found that dinosaur-eating-gnomes garden statue, which combined TWO of your no-nos. But really… maybe it is EXACTLY what you're looking for? It might be the perfect garden statue of all time.

Anyway… I worked hard, tried to stay away from all things "zen" and "gnome," and rounded up some garden art that adult atheists might actually like!

Grasslands Road World Garden Good Luck Elephant Statue
Grasslands Road World Garden Good Luck Elephant Statue
Blue Beer bottle ladder garden art idea from Etsy seller ShelleyHolm
Blue Beer bottle ladder garden art idea from Etsy seller ShelleyHolm
Lucky Penny Garden Flowers
Lucky Penny Garden Flowers
Cat and Mouse Garden Sculpture Set
Cat and Mouse Garden Sculpture Set
Balanced Arch Wind Sculpture
Balanced Arch Wind Sculpture
Earth Fairy Aura Garden Statue
Earth Fairy Aura Garden Statue
Decorative Mushroom -- Garden Art Made From Repurposed Glass from Etsy seller CreativityTimesThree
Decorative Mushroom — Garden Art Made From Repurposed Glass from Etsy seller CreativityTimesThree
Guardian Lion Statue Granite
Guardian Lion Statue Granite
Steel Songbird Garden Sculpture
Steel Songbird Garden Sculpture
Mini Stone Overlook Bridge Statue
Mini Stone Overlook Bridge Statue
Vintage Tortoise Stepping Stones
Vintage Tortoise Stepping Stones
Japanese Blue Heron Metal Garden Sculpture Set
Japanese Blue Heron Metal Garden Sculpture Set
Metal Orbs from Etsy seller NevaStarr
Metal Orbs from Etsy seller NevaStarr
Kinetic Spinner Stake
Kinetic Spinner Stake
Macrame wall hanging by Etsy seller MacrameElegance
Macrame wall hanging by Etsy seller MacrameElegance

Any other anti-kitsch, non-religious garden-havers out there? What garden art did you dig up?

Recent Comments

  • Janey: I have found that rubbish tips that sell things the workers find can be a source! Workers may also know… [Link]
  • Cassie Sue: I'm not sure where you live but stores like hobby lobby have some cute figures and you can get them… [Link]
  • Mary: Check out antique stores. We picked up some garden rabbits and snails a few years ago at a local… [Link]
  • Shlemar: If you're into baseball, a few teams have started handing out player, manager, and mascot lawn "gnomes" as mid-week game… [Link]
  • wellyesyoumay: I have some lovely skeleton lawn flamingos named Fred and Ginger. I used to make them costumes for different seasons.… [Link]

+ 10 more! Join the discussion

06 May 09:00

Full Circle Fresh Air Countertop Compost Collector

by mark

If we start up composting again, this sounds like a good countertop collector!

I’ve been composting my kitchen scraps for awhile now, using various systems, and this countertop compost bin, which I’ve been using for two years, is the best I’ve used so far.

There were two issues with other bins that I’ve used: 1) rottten vegetable residue on the bottom of the bin that must be cleaned out after it’s emptied and 2) swarming fruit flies.

The Compost Collector solves both those problems. You line the bin with a compostable bag (I use BioBag 3-gallon size), then remove it when it gets full, leaving your compost bin nice and clean. It takes about a week for me to fill the bag, and I’ve seldom had problems with leak-through. If your bag does dissolve a bit (this can happen if your scraps are really soggy or if you let the bag sit way too long), the bin comes apart for easy cleaning.

This bin has good airflow, which slows down the decomposition of the veggie scraps, but the air goes in through tiny holes in the top which fruit flies can’t get though as well as a gap at the bottom where air circulates around the bag. So as long as you remember to keep the top closed, fruit flies aren’t an issue. In addition, it’s not smelly like bins that have no airflow, unless you put something in it that’s smelly to begin with.

The Compost Collector is also sturdy and good-looking, and doesn’t take up too much space on the counter.

-- Abbie Stillie

Full Circle Fresh Air Countertop Compost Collector ($23)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

02 May 17:48

7 Favorite Projects to Organize Your Garage

by Ana White


Hi guys!  

It's spring in Alaska, the trees have greened up, the swans are migrating north, the ruffed grouse are drumming, and sometimes you can barely hear yourself over the frogs doing their thing.  

After a long winter working in the garage, I am so ready to do a big spring clean up of our workspace, and get organzied for the summer.  Today I thought I'd share with you some projects that could transform the storage and functionality of your garage.


Easiest Garage Storage Shelves

Designed by Ana White 

First things first, build some storage for all those boxes and totes.  If you have stud walls that you can tie into in your garage, this is the simplest and easiest way to build garage shelving.  We loved this shelving so much have since built it three times!




Fold-Out Pegboard Tool Storage Wall Shelf with Bins

Designed by Rouge Engineer shared on RyobiNation

Not only does this garage wall storage shelving system triple - yes TRIPLE - your pegboard storage, but it keeps all of your storage accessible and within easy reach.  I love hanging tools since tools to keep them off the workbench, but accessible and easy to find.  

The bins under the tool stoarge area are life savers for smaller tools and fasteners.  




Easy Potting Bench with Hook Slats

Designed by Ana White shared on RyobiNation

I made this potting bench at Ryobi a couple of years back, and since there was just no way I could pack it in a suitcase back to Alaska, have been wanting to make it again for my own use.  I loveed how simple this project was to construct, all with simple joinery.  Use cedar if using outdoors.




Spary Paint Wall Organizer Shelf

Designed by My Altered State shared on RyobiNation

Paint is all about making something pretty, so why not make it pretty on display?  I love Pauline's spray paint organizer for keeping your favorite colors close at hand, and keeping you inspired while you work.




Narrow Garage Tools and Paint Storage Shelving

Designed by The Creativity Exchange

I love narrow depth shelving because stuff can't get lost in the back, and everything is easy to reach.  The Creativity Exchange's narrow garage storage wall stores so many supplies and tools, all while keeping things neat and organized.  Lots to be inspired from here!



Mobile Workstation with Tool Storage

Designed by Shanty2Chic shared on RyobiNation

My friends Ashley and Whitney from Shanty2Chic and designed and built this mobile workstation for the furniture maker with limited space.  I love all the dedicated tool storage and simple design!  You gotta have clamps handy!



Roll-Away Cart Workstation with Tablesaw and Mitersaw Built in

Designed by Ana White shared on RyobiNation

This was one of my favorite projects I did in 2015!  Cutting is such a big part of building - not only does it take time, but precision is essential for your project to turn out right.  When I was tasked to do a "cutting edge" workstation, I designed this workbench around the saws.  But there's ample storage in the carts, and we even embedded a Kreg Jig into the top of a workbench (and other bench tools can fit in the slot).  If you have the space in your garage, this roll-away workstation has it all, and tucks away neatly.


And don't forget, this month's RyobiNation challenge is Garage Takeover!  

So that means you could win $500 in tools for your garage if you build and share a project for the garage this month!  Get all the details on how to enter (it's easy) here.

Have a great day!



28 Apr 11:18

#TBT: Garden Guy, will work for Heteros Only by Garden Rant

by Garden Rant


garden guy-001

Landscapers refusing to work for LGBTs? Back in November 2006. when this was published, you bet, and the legality of doing that hasn’t changed. Indeed—note  recent legislation passed in North Carolina and other states—this kind of discrimination is still in play and often legal. It was Elizabeth, blogging then at Gardening While Intoxicated, who brought the story to the Ranters’ attention. The original 21 comments are worth a read, especially this one by Christopher C (then in Hawaii, now in NC): 

How did Miss Sabrina know Mr. Lord was one one them homa sex yulls from a phone conversation?Did the Lord say fabulous? Did the Lord say it needed to be done in six days for a fashion show? Did the Lord ask for some forbidden fruit trees?
My Sweet Lord!

Here’s Susan’s 11/06 post:

Meet Todd and Sabrina Farber, owners of Garden Guy, Inc., a Houston landscaping company.  They recently created a firestorm by sending this email to a potential customer:

Subject: Cancel Appt – Garden Guy

Dear Mr. Lord,

I am appreciative of your time on the phone today and glad you contacted us. I need to tell you that we cannot meet with you because we choose not to work for homosexuals.

Best of luck in finding someone else to fill your landscaping needs.

All my best, Sabrina

All my best, my ass. Sabrina, how do you square that hateful missive with this bit of PR hoohah on your website:  “Treating you with respect and honesty are the cornerstones of our reputation.”  Which reputation is now being hotly debated in Houston and on blogs everywhere. Their website does show their hand, however, by promoting the “No Gay Marriage” website.

Bigots will be bigots, I suppose.  But to me, the appalling part of this story is the bluntness of the bigotry and the fact that it’s perfectly legal in Texas and almost everywhere in the U.S.  Should customers fight back by demanding that the designers and nurseries whose services and products they buy be equal opportunity businesspeople?  We’ll be following this story.

Thanks to Elizabeth at Gardening While Intoxicated for the alert.

P.S.  Links removed after reading Richard Boyd’s comment.

#TBT: Garden Guy, will work for Heteros Only originally appeared on Garden Rant on April 28, 2016.

27 Apr 18:00

Additional Love Languages

by Mallory Ortberg

The Five Love Languages is a bestselling book that discusses the five essential ways that people "speak and understand emotional love." The primary love languages include Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch, but many readers are unaware of the remaining seventeen categories, which are:

Read more Additional Love Languages at The Toast.

19 Apr 18:31

#855: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome And Accessing Mental Health Support

by JenniferP

Dear Cap,

I recently graduated as a Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA). The entire time I was in school I always felt that I didn’t deserve the grades I got, that I wasn’t trying hard enough, and didn’t know enough. But I kept passing with some As but mostly Bs (a failing grade in this program is anything less than a 75). I had 3 clinicals in 3 different settings for a total of 17 weeks and got high marks in all of them.

I got my first job in a nursing home, which was my favorite setting out of all my clinics. I apparently made such a good impression on the rehab director that she cancelled her other interviews and offered me the position 45 minutes after my interview. On my first day I trained with a seasoned PTA. This PTA’s caseload had some of the most difficult patients I’d ever seen; people that couldn’t follow directions and resisted me during the treatment. By lunchtime I was in tears because I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and that I was doing a bad job. I tried to quit but the rehab director encouraged me to go home and think about it. I came back the next day and asked to not go around with that PTA, to be given a small caseload of simple patients and to go out on my own. I had a good day and was told I did well. That was a Friday. By Sunday night I was having a panic attack (I have a long history of anxiety/depression which had been well controlled with medication for many years). I woke up Monday, had a panic attack and quit.
Now I have zero confidence in myself and I don’t know how I can take another job if this is how I handled my first one. The entire time I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing and I was bad at the job. Choosing another career is not an option. I don’t know how to become more confident or at least fake it until I make it. The only advice I’ve gotten is “go see a therapist”, but I have no job or income. How can I be successful in this career when I don’t believe in myself?

(Pronouns: she/her)

Dear Zero,

On your No Good Very Bad Day, you showed up. You may not have been the world’s greatest & most experienced Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) because it was your first day on a difficult job, but you were the PTA those patients had and you did the job as best you could. And then, the next day, you asked for what you needed to learn and you got it, and you did better than fine because you were working at a pace that you could handle. Your employer and their patients were happy and lucky to have you and they recognized that you needed an adjusted case load to help with the learning curve. You absolutely deserved that consideration and those adjustments. You are a beginner, not a failure.

You are a beginner, not a failure. Could you be kind and gentle to yourself? Could you give yourself a break for needing an adjustment period between a school setting and a clinical setting? Could you give yourself a break for being a person with some anxiety and depression who had those things exacerbated when you took on something difficult and new? Could you give yourself a break for having a panic attack and for doing the best you could to protect yourself in the aftermath of it?

The people who are recommending that you talk to a therapist are doing so because your antagonist here is You/Your Brain. Not grades (you’re fine), not the profession itself (you’re fine), not the patients or coworkers (you did fine, especially when you asked for what you needed), not the Platonic ideal of what a perfect person or PTA would do (once again, you’re just fine). Where you are not fine is in the uncomfortable and scary feelings you are having, and in the black and white thinking you’re falling prey to (“I must be perfect or else I HAVE FAILED.”) So the logic of a therapy recommendation is, can you treat the anxiety and have a safe place to siphon off some of the panicky feelings you’re having so that you can function in your day-to-day work? And can you revisit some of the strategies that worked for you when you treated your issues in the past (maybe medication adjustment, maybe some strategies of recognizing cognitive distortions and calming your thoughts when you get overwhelmed)? Maybe there is a larger question to be talked over, like what attracts you to this career, what to expect in the beginning, and what specific kind of employment situation would be best for you. A therapist (aka a fellow traveler in the Helping Professions) might be a really good person to talk that all over with.

It can be very hard to access mental health care when you’re stretched thin, but there are some resources out there. See these posts on locating low-cost and no-cost mental health care, and on green flags for a good therapist. Since we published those posts, a whole bunch of online therapy resources have sprung up, like, 7 Cups of Tea. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a free helpline and a ton of programming. They are experimenting with an app that offers instant peer-to-peer support. Here’s a massive list of online support groups. Maybe one is right for you.

One of the awesome Twitter people I follow made this useful worksheet for organizing yourself to find a therapist. I thought that BuzzFeed had some excellent writing about mental health last year – see this piece on how to get some of the benefits of therapy even when you don’t have a therapist, ways to make yourself feel better when you feel alone,  and this piece on mental health care and race. Ijeoma Oluo is writing some beautiful stuff at The Establishment. I think this NYT op ed about how therapists need to acknowledge political realities is right on. The mental health system has many holes in it and it is not the safety net that it should be for everyone, but you absolutely deserve care, so I hope you won’t talk yourself out of receiving it.

If finding mental health services is totally out of the question right now, could you re-connect with a mentor or teacher from school, the career office there, and some of your classmates? Maybe that network can help you find the right job fit for you, and help you readjust what you can expect at the beginning. Maybe your story of panicking can help someone else know what to expect on their first day.

Whatever you decide to do, you are not alone.

You are not the only one to have a surprising and terrible adjustment period to a new job.

You are not the only one to say “Wait a minute, this doesn’t match what I know from school! How can I tell what is normal?”

You are not the only one to quit something that didn’t feel right for them!

You are not the only one who second-guesses themselves or feel like they are faking it in front of others.

You are not the only one to have a false start (or several!) who has to bounce back.

You may have burned your bridge with that employer, but if you called them and said “I am so sorry, I overreacted. Can I come back with (this adjusted schedule/workload)?” they might take you on. If they don’t (or you don’t want to) that’s okay – don’t even put that job on your resume. The interview skills and resume that made them want to hire you immediately will make you attractive to other employers, maybe ones that are better staffed and have better training/on-boarding procedures for new hires.

In the end, it’s going to be you and the patients in front of you and the work you were trained to do, one patient at a time, one appointment at a time, one day at a time. I hope you can find a way to give yourself permission to be there for them and for that work. Let yourself be a beginner. Give yourself permission to learn as you go. Give yourself permission to have bad days and to not know what you’re doing. Give yourself permission to lean on mental health care when you need to. Give yourself every kindness that you would give to a patient or a friend. Remind yourself that you are a beginner, not a failure, and it’s okay not to know everything yet.






17 Apr 17:00

Recipe: Butter-Roasted Radish Dip — Recipes from The Kitchn

by Kelli Foster

This looks good for all those radishes I just planted!

When it comes to snacking on veggies, you've got some choices to make. Sure, you can eat them in their raw, crispy state, or you can follow my lead by roasting them until mellow and tender and then blending them into an ultra-creamy dip.


13 Apr 14:45

5 things to consider before you ask, "when are you having kids?"

by Minerva Siegel


By: kennycole – CC BY 2.0
By: kennycoleCC BY 2.0
"So when are you having kids?"
"Do you have kids yet?"
"Dogs don't make a family; you really should have kids soon. Clock's ticking!"

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard those questions, the purse slouched on the chair next to me certainly wouldn't be knock-off Prada. Questions like these are as common as anything, and can seem so benign that most people don't think twice about asking them; they might as well be talking about the weather. In actuality, asking why someone doesn't have kids is impertinent to begin with — because it's none of your business — besides the fact that these questions are loaded and can be seriously hurtful and triggering.

Other people's reproduction is none of your business, period. Here's why…

1. We're capable of making our own reproductive decisions

Whenever it's revealed that I'm child-free, I get comments like, "You'll change your mind" and, "You just haven't met the right man yet." Telling women that they'll change their minds about their decision not to reproduce undermines their intrinsic ability to make basic life decisions, and thus is both disrespectful and rude. Women are perfectly capable of making the logical, reasonable decision to not reproduce after considering any number of valid factors.

To be fair, some women do change their minds about not having kids, and that's perfectly okay, too! That fact still doesn't give you license to disrespect women everywhere by telling us that we're incapable of making logical reproductive decisions.

2. Infertility

A huge portion of the population suffers with fertility issues. Fertility isn't something you can tell just by looking at someone, so it's incredibly rude to assume that everyone can have children whenever they want and that, if they don't have kids, it must just be because they don't want them. Asking someone who's struggling with infertility whether or not they have children can be an extremely triggering thing that can not only ruin their day but send them into a tailspin of depression.

I've ended up hospitalized regularly since I was about nine years old with bursting ovarian cysts, and other hormone problems, that refuse to be controlled through medication, and I have a tilted uterus. These things combined mean that I'm likely infertile. While I release my maternal feelings by caring for and rescuing animals, and therefore don't really feel the need to have children of my own, there's another component that comes into play for me: I know it's ridiculous, but part of me feels that I'm less of a woman because my body can't produce a child, and people prying into my reproduction status reminds me of this and makes me feel both offended and sad.

3. Socio-economic factors

Children are extremely expensive. They really are. They're time-consuming, demanding, and expensive life-long commitments that shouldn't be taken lightly. Sometimes, couples simply can't afford them at the moment. Other times, people don't have children because they don't want to raise them in the neighborhood they live in. Or they're waiting to tie up other parts of their lives (that, again, are none of your business) before having them. There are any number of socio-economic factors that can contribute to whether or not someone wants children, and it's not your place to pry into them.

4. Genetics

A significant amount of child-free people have chosen not to reproduce so as not to pass on certain genetically-inherited traits, conditions, or diseases.

5. Some people just plain-old don't want kids

Kids are loud little attention-demanding wild things that make everything messy and completely disrupt your life. They also have many good qualities, but some people just plain-old don't want to deal with any of that. And that's fine. Many people just don't want kids personally, which doesn't mean that they hate children altogether… although, if they did, that's entirely their prerogative.

People are completely capable of making their own reproductive choices based on a huge amount of different factors. This is why, "When are you having children?" and "You don't have kids? Your biological clock's ticking!" are two of the most rude things you can say to someone. If someone doesn't want to procreate, they shouldn't ever be made to feel badly for it or like there's something intrinsically wrong with them for it.

Reproduction is a personal thing, and it's about time we stop allowing impertinent inquiries into other people's reproductive statuses to remain common occurrences.

Recent Comments

  • KathyRo: I learned a lonnnng time ago not to ask questions about other people's reproductive plans but unfortunately I had to… [Link]
  • Murphy: Great post! One thing people don't seem to realize is that having children is kind of a thing you can't… [Link]
  • Cassie: That was probably me. I think pregnancy and childbirth are the coolest things the human body can do, but I… [Link]
  • a few: can you put something over the message from SIL? ribbon, bow, scrapbook wedding sticker, heart, picture, etc.? [Link]
  • a few: you both could possibly consider fostering or adopting older kids. then you would lose the parts you don't like about… [Link]

+ 34 more! Join the discussion

06 Apr 12:30

Ask Polly: How Do I Start Believing in My Worth?

by Heather Havrilesky

"But you will also start to draw boundaries around your squish. You will start to say, "Many other people are going to define my squish as faulty and not good enough, many other people are going to insult me and roll their eyes at me and they're not going to do it because they're 'just jealous,' they're going to believe in their hearts, that I am bad news, worthless, annoying. I am also going to believe these things sometimes. But I am making a decision right now to trust myself and to love myself and to protect myself from people who are either suspicious of me or 100 percent MEH about me. I am not going to blame them for this! But I am not going to improve myself for those people, either, just to become some imaginary peak version of myself eventually, someday, never. Instead, I am going to find other flawed and broken and loud and rattling things, I’m going to find other angry, self-doubting bags of microbial squish, and together, we are going to feel strong and odd and emotional and also triumphant together. "

Clown Fish

Dear Polly,

I've followed your writing for years, and I am interested in knowing how you went from a (self-described) lame, narcissistic asshole to the emotional guardian of radishes and sharp knives everywhere. Maybe I didn't read Disaster Preparedness closely enough, but I'd like some details: What was the moment when...More »

17 Mar 09:00

My Sleep Button

by mark

I'm intrigued....this sounds like it would also be really good for panic/anxiety attacks.

I’ve been using this tool since it was first released in April 2014.

The tool helps me get to sleep faster than I normally would. It also helps me get to sleep at odd times. I’m an emergency pediatrician who work shifts. Sometimes I need to sleep in the afternoon to prepare for a shift even if I don’t feel tired. The other sleep apps are all pretty much the same: They deliver white noise, music, other sounds, or meditation. There’s nothing special about that. None of them implements “the cognitive shuffle” (or SDI, serial diverse imagining).

mySleepButton (it’s free, with in-app purchases ranging from $3 to $5) is truly unique. It’s based on cognitive science. This smartphone app (Android, OS X) reads you a word or phrase, one at a time, and gets you to visualize each one for 5-10 seconds. Each word or phrase is very different from the previous one. It might get you to imagine a pear, a lamp shade, a rock, fishing, trying on hats, skiing, whatever. This is meant to imitate and induce the first stage of sleep (“N1″), where your mind drifts from one “random” thing to another. The app keeps my mind off of daytime issues. And it just knocks me out.

It even has a “mental drawing” mode in which you imagine yourself drawing stuff. (That’s Motor Imagery). This tires me out.

The guy who designed it (Dr. Beaudoin) is a cognitive science researcher from Simon Fraser University.

-- Michael Arsenault

29 Mar 21:39

Hario Cold Brew Coffee Pot

by mark

I’ve used this cold brew coffee pot for a year now and it makes the best iced coffee I’ve tasted. Cold brewing coffee results in a less acidic and more potent brew, perfect for iced coffee. It has gained popularity recently and now is even appearing at Starbucks stores. To make cold brew coffee you simply add about a cup coarse ground coffee to a liter of water and let it sit in room temperature water for 12 hours or in your refrigerator for 24 hours.

Before this perfect little pot the hard part was straining the grounds from the coffee, straining a liter of coffee through nut cloths or drip coffee filters was a ridiculous enterprise.

The Hairo has a permanent ultra fine poly filter that’s unlike any coffee filter I’ve seen. The filter sits in the top of the pitcher and once the brewing time is complete simply remove the filter, unsnap the bottom and remove the grounds.

The resultant brew will keep in your refrigerator for a few days, simply add more water or milk to taste and you have a potent, non bitter iced coffee with no fuss.

Hairo is a Japanese company with a great reputation in the coffee world (their ceramic pour over drip has been a staple for years). The quality and ease of use for under $20 makes this a worthwhile addition to my kitchen.

-- Tim Hollosy

Hario Water Brew Coffee Pot ($15)

International Amazon link

Available from Amazon

24 Mar 23:20

With the Passing of HB 2, North Carolina Signs Hate into Law

by Alaina

"What's so scary about HB 2 is that it doesn't seem discriminatory when first read, but the contradictions are all over it. It says that North Carolinians have the right not to be discriminated against, but then makes the basis of that protection "biological sex", immediately endangering anyone who isn't cisgender. This is terrifying."

The post With the Passing of HB 2, North Carolina Signs Hate into Law appeared first on Autostraddle.

23 Mar 18:38

Writing My Way Out

by Jen

Written for me yesterday, if only I had found it then.

In college I struggled with hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) because my diet was terrible and I tended to skip meals. I would get shaky, light-headed, tired, and then start to retreat into myself and shut down. I would go numb inside, sitting and staring at nothing for hours if left unchecked, not caring that I was getting worse, not caring that all I needed was a little food to make the numbness go away. (This continued into my marriage, embarrassingly enough, and it took many long months for John to figure out that the cure for his new bride's glassy-eyed funks was a large tablespoon of peanut butter.)

That's when I first learned how fickle feelings could be. If a crappy granola bar could make the sun shine again and life seem worth living, then how could I trust *anything* I was feeling?

Worse, I later realized that one of the biggest problems with feelings - or at least the crappy ones - is how permanent they always seem. When we feel bad it feels like we're going to feel bad forever. Time just stops, drops, and wallows in all the sadness, listlessness, anger, guilt, etc, and no matter how we try, we can't even imagine a time when the awfulness will fade. It's the world's worst magic trick, a malevolent ghost in the machine. It's the conviction born of a half-remembered nightmare, but one we don't question, because it feels like the truth.

Those are the times we have to hang on with blind faith, trusting in the very treachery of our own nature. Because the devastating, hope-affirming truth is, our feelings are rotten lying bastards.

I still remember my sense of betrayal the first time I had a little too much booze and the room wobbled. I hated the fact that something besides me was making me feel this way. I vowed to never give that kind of control to any drink, any drug. I wanted to feel the truth, not be lied to and manipulated by so many artificial shifting sands.

So these days, when I can chart my days of funks and fatigue and "don't you DARE talk to me"s like clockwork on the calendar, I again feel betrayed - but by my own body. I hate having my moods dictated by some extraneous organ spewing hormones. I hate being listless and sad when I have STUFF to do. I hate when John discounts my discontent because "it's just your grumpy day, babe," and then I yell back that it is NOT that time yet so no it is NOT my 'grumpy day', and then I really REALLY hate it when I check the calendar and John's right. Again.

On the bright(er) side, I've come to see my anxiety and agoraphobia in the same light: as simply more treacherous, fickle feelings that can never be trusted. They whisper, "forever," but they lie. They, too, are artificial shifting sands, the byproduct of something broken - something that I hope one day to fix.

But when I feel happy, and proud of something I've done, or grateful or peaceful or in awe of something beautiful, when I feel inspired and hopeful, when I laugh 'til I leak, or when I'm just cozy in the warmth of John's arms, I choose to believe that those are the times I feel the truth. If life really is what we make of it, then those are the foundations I will cling to.

I can't always control how I feel. Heck, I'm not convinced I can ever control how I feel. What I can control is how I interpret these ever-shifting sands, and how I channel them. I can control who and what I trust, and who and what I believe. I can choose to wait through the darkness, and trust that the light is coming. I can choose to wallow in the good, when I have it, as much as the bad.

I can choose to write everything down, and remember this feeling isn't forever.

I write these things to remind myself, because I need reminding pretty often. Maybe you do, too. Maybe the whole reason you found Epbot - if you believe in that kind of thing - is because you needed these words today. Maybe I'm only posting for you today. If so, then I think I speak for everyone here when I say: WORTH IT. Come wallow with us. We got your back.