What do you always recommend to people?
January 27, 2021 1:44 PM   Subscribe

In any category...whether it's a book or movie, habit or piece of advice, product, whatever, the thing you tell people about whenever you get a chance because it has improved your life so much.

I asked a version of this question years ago and it was ruled too chatty, so I want to explain my very practical purpose: I want to optimize my life as much as possible (within reason), but the chances that I will happen to bring up the right topics so that people will get a chance to recommend the things they really think will benefit others the most are relatively low. I'm trying to figure out the things I'm not even thinking to ask for advice/recommendations about, but that I might still benefit from advice/recommendations about.
posted by lgyre to Society & Culture (123 answers total) 191 users marked this as a favorite
 
Merino wool, Korean skin care products, ordering the special, and one- or two-owner used Toyotas.
posted by box at 1:47 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


I love Headspace and am always recommending it to people who I think could benefit from meditation. I have terrible anxiety and I feel much calmer when I meditate.

I recently started doing this "Two Minute Morning" journaling practice that has been incredibly helpful for me to set my intentions for the day. This link is to a book with the prompts pre-written, but you can use any journal or paper or your phone or whatever, I just linked to it because it explains it really well.
posted by radioamy at 1:48 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


Patagonia is probably the top brand I would recommend, and the McMaster-Carr website is the absolute best at doing what it is supposed to do.
posted by Dmenet at 1:49 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Volunteering in one form or another. I know that being able to volunteer is a privilege, so not everyone has the capacity or ability to do it. But being of service to something outside yourself, whether it's other people, animal, the environment, etc, is good on so many levels.
posted by Gorgik at 1:51 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Actually learn how to program spreadsheets. Know the diffrence between vlookup and index(match) and why one is better. Being able to push things around in spreadsheets has made so many jobs easier.
posted by Uncle at 2:07 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Books by T. Kingfisher, probably starting with Clockwork Boys or Summer in Orcus.
posted by sourcequench at 2:07 PM on January 27 [14 favorites]


The Peloton app. Nobody ever listens to me though.
posted by HotToddy at 2:08 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Getting Things Done by David Allen. This book has immeasurably increased my productivity and over years, the time saved is compounded.
posted by saturdaymornings at 2:09 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Very recently:

Get an air fryer and cook all your chicken in it.

It has CHANGED MY LIFE and I'm yes being dramatic, but not overly. I like my air fryer for other things, too, but it is a game changer for chicken. I made wings last night and you know that thing where when one of those 2 bone wings has been cooked just right you can twist the end and the whole chunk of meat comes cleanly off the bone in one lovely hunk? IT DID THAT. Even if I used my air fryer for nothing else but a chicken cooker, it would be 100% worth it only for that.
posted by phunniemee at 2:13 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


I’ve never actually shared this piece of advice, but I’ve heard multiple times “if you think of a task you need to do, and it’s going to take less than [small number of minutes - 2? 5?] to complete, JUST DO IT, because otherwise you will spend much more time letting it take up space in your head.” I’m not great at following this advice all the time, but every time I do, it’s an incredible relief.

I am now going to go do a two-minute task I’ve been putting off.
posted by obfuscation at 2:13 PM on January 27 [34 favorites]


1) Biking to work - especially if you can locate yourself along a path system so you aren't having to bike with cars. It's so efficient - combining your commute and exercise into one activity, plus you can listen to an audiobook or podcast in one ear if you aren't on a road. I bike to work all year long, even through canadian winters. It's really great.

2) Downsizing your house - we used to have quite a fancy century home in a nice part of town with 1200 sqft. Now we have a 700sqft bungalow in a less desirable part of town with a bigger backyard and we own way less stuff to put in our house and the house costs about half what our other one did and it's SO much better.

3) a hot tub - I know not everyone likes them, but the upkeep ISN'T much, and it gives us a nice little break from any screen-based distractions to just connect together as a couple.

and a bonus - setting up your coffee maker before bed with a timer so that it brews the coffee to be ready for your wakeup time. I love that.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:15 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Using a password manager. It frees you from the responsibility of creating and remembering secure passwords, makes it easy not to reuse them, etc. I use Lastpass but I think any password manager is better than none.
posted by number9dream at 2:18 PM on January 27 [23 favorites]


22 years ago, my now SO convinced me to pin my socks together in the wash. I would be lying if I said that this was the specific reason that I married him, but it's up there. I spent years hating and resenting my odd socks. Now they just don't exist.* There are specialty sock holders, but we just use large safety pins that we keep in an attractive little bowl beside the laundry bin.

Process:
- take socks off feet
- pin socks together
- put in laundry
- wash
- take pinned socks out of laundry
- leave the pin in and put them in the drawer as is (no folding, no rolling)

later, when you have bare feet that need socks, pull them out of the drawer - and they are already attached!

Repeat process for the rest of your life.

*Yes, occasionally I have a pair where one goes through in a hole and the other doesn't - I really should learn how to darn.

posted by jb at 2:20 PM on January 27 [19 favorites]


Pyrex glass food storage. It's not plastic so none of that plastic-leaking-into-my-food worry (except the lids, which do need to be replaced sometimes if you use them in the freezer and/or microwave), practically indestructible, made in the USA (this matters to me), and great for storing/freezing/heating up leftovers. I've had two sets for a decade and use them constantly. The 4-cup ones are perfect for portioning out lunches.
posted by jabes at 2:21 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


Name your emotions out loud.
When you have an emotion, say or whisper to yourself, "I am feeling anxious about this project because Bob's feedback can be discouraging." Just doing that makes emotions less daunting. Advanced level: tell someone else who's involved. It takes a bit of skill to figure out who's safe, but it really helps: transparency breeds trust, and often the other person will have solutions or a valuable reframe for you.

Get comfortable with secondhand.
Have you ever put a restaurant fork into your mouth, or dried your face on a hotel towel? Well, those items are used, and nobody died. Get over the psychological / capitalist idealization of "new" and save THOUSANDS of dollars buying everything gently used, from cars to clothes to books to (especially!) kids stuff.

Wear comfortable shoes, socks, and undergarments.
Life is hard enough. Throw out all the bad ones you've been avoiding and get an abundant amount of the items that fit and stay put. (And not secondhand, lol)

Have the argument.
If you're mad at someone, the conflict already exists. Avoiding the discussion about it doesn't mean it's not still there. It is a measure of your own self-respect to clearly and respectfully bring the conflict into the open, where it can actually be solved. Burying your feelings and personally shouldering all the brunt of a problem actually isn't helpful, and it is bad for your health and makes your life shitty and damages your self-esteem.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:24 PM on January 27 [100 favorites]


Don't have kids.
posted by Joan Rivers of Babylon at 2:25 PM on January 27 [61 favorites]


Have kids.
posted by nouvelle-personne at 2:26 PM on January 27 [47 favorites]


Get an Ereader. Started with a Nook years ago and am now using an 8" tablet that fits in my Murse. No more carrying a stand and book so that I can read while eating out for lunch. The tablet cover is also used as a stand. Not to mention that it can hold umpteen books. If still are using real books, the BookGem was a godsend tool for reading during lunch. Small and could handle any size book.
posted by Ferrari328 at 2:29 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Don't give people advice about whether to have kids. (It's also generally a bad idea to give them advice on raising any that they may have or already have.)
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 2:30 PM on January 27 [68 favorites]


I recommend avoiding commentary on others' child-having or not-having practices.
Also Darn Tough socks.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:30 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


heated mattress pad. Not only does it make bedtime a delight; I got one for my kid (together with a foam pad to make her bed softer as well as warmer) and her back pain went away.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:31 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Things I would recommend to almost anyone: Arranging your life so you can walk/bike to work, adopting an older pet, Pentel Energel pens, Tiger Sauce on everything, grocery shopping at Aldi, treating yourself to a cross-country sleeper car trip on Amtrak at least once in your life, being friends with your neighbors, keeping an emergency frozen pizza in the freezer at all times, learning the fundamentals of personal finance, familiarizing yourself with all the services your public library offers and using the shit out of them, Greek Gods yogurt, the Heavyweight podcast, (for Americans) if you have an expensive prescription and your insurance covers it always get it filled when it's eligible even if you're not out because you never know when you might be out of a job and will need that stockpile of medication you can't afford on your own.
posted by Jess the Mess at 2:31 PM on January 27 [22 favorites]


1. If you have a flat or low tire, get it fixed for free at Discount Tire, they’re fantastic.

2. You can eat most root vegetables and winter squashes raw and you can make glorious slaw out of stuff like raw butternut squash.

3. If you have any outdoor space at all, grow your own garlic, it’s easy and 800x better.

4. Scarlett Thomas’s novels are smart and under-rated, and you should read them.
posted by centrifugal at 2:31 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


lil space heater in the bathroom.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:33 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


Get a dog: your social life, health, and general outlook on the universe will improve.
posted by WaspEnterprises at 2:36 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Wool socks. Even in summer (get thinner models). They don't get clammy even when sopping.

Leatherman Skeletool. The only pocket knife you need, and the right tool for the piddly little job at hand, 99% of the time
posted by notsnot at 2:38 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Take 5-7g of mushrooms in total darkness, with an experienced guide or therapist present.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:40 PM on January 27 [19 favorites]


- Using the convection fan in my oven to roast vegetables. It’s a miracle.
- Thorlo socks. It’s all I wear now.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:41 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Diaspora Co spices, just generally awesome.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 2:43 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Thermapen Instant Read Thermometer. It so easy to use - almost instant readings across a wide range of temperature. Also reliable (I've had mine for about 20 years). Worth the extra money in my book. Wirecutter liked it as the "upgrade pick" A rave review with details about why it is really better here.
posted by metahawk at 2:44 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


ThorLo socks, personal color analysis for wardrobe (use it for home decor, too), Planner Pad, glass-front bookcases (especially barristers), Konmari done to the letter, smartphone astronomy app, Trader Joe's raw almond butter, Tree Genie Christmas tree stand (!!!), grocery delivery, lessons or coaching for things you are really serious about (for me, personal training, skating, and swimming).

This pretty much sums up most of my AskMe answers.
posted by jgirl at 2:46 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Terry Pratchett books. They've just made me think and laugh & improved my life no end.

Vertagear gaming chairs. I'm a plus sized person who kills cheap computer chair hydraulics in 6 months and used to have to add so many back supports & pads to the cheap chairs to not be in pain all day. The frame & hydraulics on the Vertagear plus size chair are amazingly strong and also the chair is amazingly comfortable. It has stopped so much body pain I used to just think was part of life. Get a good chair if you sit on a computer all day.
posted by wwax at 2:47 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


fitness blender for at home workouts! they've got a ton of different types of workouts for all levels of fitness, much of it for free, and the folks who run it are fit but not intimidating about it.
posted by too bad you're not me at 2:47 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


Bidets (the $30 "bolt under your toilet seat" types, not the $400 washlet or freestanding types)
posted by meowzilla at 2:47 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Fitsok or Darn Tough socks.
Icebreaker or Woolx underwear.
Raspberry leaf tea for period cramps (start drinking before your period starts and during).
posted by rawralphadawg at 2:48 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


Avoiding menstruation by using a constant dose of a monophasic birth control. I use a NuvaRing type product because I'm not good at pills and timing, but there are lots of pills that will work, too. Since my gynecologist recommended this to me years ago, it has made my life _so_ much better.
posted by LadyOscar at 2:48 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Book: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Runner up is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, but that really depends on the reader.

Money management: Mint.

Food: Cranberry Chevre at Trader Joe's.

Music: Post rock, specifically Caspian and Tides from Nebula. These days I'm suggesting more folk punk, like Days n Daze and Apes of the State.
posted by sacrifix at 2:49 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


If you plan on doing any home automation, and you have even a single Apple device, don't buy anything that isn't HomeKit certified. HomeKit alone means that 90% of the fiddly weird ass problems that the cheaper products have (that's just white labeled trash dropped shipped from Shengzhen anyway) won't be there.

Darn Tough for socks. Patagonia for everything but plain t-shirts, which should be American Giant.

Tekton for hand tools. You can get warranty replacements shipped the same day by just sending them a photo of the broken tool.

My one piece of parenting advice I give to all new, or about to be new, parents: Ignore absolutely all parenting advice. People have the mistaken belief that just because their kids reached adulthood without dying by something like drinking bleach, that they are somehow parental experts. Even if they somehow were experts in their own kids (doubtful), they definitely don't know anything about your kid specifically. This goes double for your mother if you are a man, and triple/quadruple for your mother if you are a woman.
posted by sideshow at 2:50 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


New Wash for your hair (make sure to buy the scalp scrubby) and CBD for your body.
posted by stellaluna at 2:57 PM on January 27


Jumping rope: Low cost, works much of the body at once, and you can do it almost anywhere outside.
posted by NotLost at 3:13 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


If you don't want to do a thing, set a timer and do the thing. If you think "oh I can do anything for twenty minutes," do a twenty minute timer, but you can also set a timer for five minutes or three if that is where your capacity seems to rest. I apply this most often to cleaning and writing, but really any task fits. Like, you have some spreadsheet work? Spend five minutes on it. Get the fucker open, fill a couple of cells. You might quit at five minutes (and the permission to do so is crucial here), but you might not.

I know pomodoro exists, but this is different 'cause you have permission to quit the thing after the timer goes off.

Also, if you have kids, I only know like two things for sure about parenting, but the most important is: It's your job to love them, not theirs to love you. The other parenting thing is: Always check the car for milk cups and bottles before going inside.

And third, I actually paid for a Yeti travel mug to replace one I lost. I never in my life thought I'd spend $30 on a damned travel mug but I love it that much, it is that great.
posted by hought20 at 3:17 PM on January 27 [25 favorites]


Response by poster: Thanks everybody, I will collect as many of these as people care to share!

Since the kid-related comments have been controversial, though, as the OP I will say that I am willing to accept this solicited unsolicited advice on all topics, including kids – but, in my case, the kids themselves are a preexisting situation.
posted by lgyre at 3:26 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Advice I received from an electrician and mechanic which is, IMO, more broadly applicable: If you use a tool every day, buy the best kind there is, even if you think you can't afford it. For all the other jobs, get cheap tools on the internet, and don't expect too much.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 3:34 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


- meditation for being able to get some distance between my feelings and the things I decide to do about them
- humidifiers and changing out of wet/sweaty clothes and heated mattress pad for staying comfortable and warm in the winter
- agree with "do the thing if it takes less than five minutes" above
- sun lamp for winter blahs
- stay offline for the first and last hour of the day, no exceptions, set a timer, get a lightweight non-internet-enabled e-reader so you can still read
- exercise can be as important as medicine for mental health (for me)
- it's worth spending money on good shoes
posted by jessamyn at 3:38 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


The OP defended their question, so I'll defend my answer as things I really do try to tell people, especially because I benefited from them:

Getting Out of Ruts
- I try to remember this one page illustration.
Diet
- Try each day to pay careful attention to when you feel hungry, what food satisfies your hunger with the smallest portion, and when you lose weight and when you gain it. Your body has reasons for what it does, it's best to listen.
Finances
- Have some money withdrawn from your checking account on a regular basis and sent to a Fed insured cloud Bank (like $$ or $$$ the Tuesday after you're paid on Friday), then "earmark" it for short and long term goals (the regularity of depositing and difficulty withdrawing helps).
Philosophy or Religion:
- Read this Raymond Smullyan piece Is God a Taoist?
- Watch the movie "Max Dugan Returns" and think about it
- Watch the movie "Dogma" and think about it (but only if language doesn't bother you)
Geeky:
- have at least one Linux computer (Raspberry Pi makes it so there's not much excuse not to)
- learn RegEx and Markdown and then use editors (like Notepad++ or Joplin) that support them, respectively.
- have some backup plan for your computers, and "audit" the backups
posted by forthright at 3:41 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


As usual, I am an Ask Metafilter broken record, but Disco Elysium is the best video game I have ever played in a long life of playing video games and if you have any interest at all in TV drama check out The Good Wife.
posted by zeusianfog at 3:43 PM on January 27 [4 favorites]


If you have a US, UK or Canada-based kindle, use eReaderIQ to track books and authors you like and buy them when they're cheap.

Participate in market research projects through User Interviews to receive Amazon credit (to pay for the eReaderIQ acquisitions above).

Contigo water bottles and travel mugs (or in my part of the world, Costco sells Avex branded ones which I'm fairly sure are identical).

Wear comfortable shoes, and be prepared to pay more for them. (On preview, just like jessamyn says). For my extremely wide, flat feet that is Ziera shoes, but probably everybody has their own shoe needs. If you find a pair of shoes that you like, that fit your hard-to-fit feet, and they're on sale, that is a sign from the gods that you should get several pairs.
posted by Cheese Monster at 3:46 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Watch the multi-part documentary by Adam Curtis called Century of the Self. It changed the way I view... Well... pretty much everything...
posted by egeanin at 3:49 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


If you do have kids, How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk is an amazing book.

I also really, really love my weighted blanket.
posted by FencingGal at 4:01 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


We stopped going to chain restaurants and became regulars at just a couple of family-owned ones. Since COVID we've been getting takeout from those same places. It's so much better.
posted by BibiRose at 4:02 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Multiply-redundant encrypted offline backups, verified you can restore them. Expect disks to die and migrate off 3y- or 5y-warrantied disks as they reach that age.

Colour laser printer (networked), spreading its cost over a 5+ year lifespan.

A password manager for complex passwords -- either phrases you generate or a noisy collection characters generated for you by an app.

Own, don't stream your music. I own a lot but it's not more than half a terabyte in its highest-quality form.

Wired over wireless, and maybe optical fibre SFP over twisted pairs of cat. 6/7 copper.

Buy the best computer you can afford now, with a gap to upgrade it in the middle of its life when the components become cheaper.

Check the washing machine is empty before you leave with laundry; pair socks as you hang them because sorting is expensive and you have to choose where to hang them to dry anyway, why not next to their partner?

Batching for when you can get into the flow of a repetitive task, short queues when you're moving between tasks. Plan small batches and ask 'do I need to reassess?' when you context-switch between items in the plan.
posted by k3ninho at 4:10 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Avoid discussions, unless there's a real chance that either you or the other party will change their mind, which is never.
posted by hz37 at 4:26 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


In the domestic realm: Barkeeper's Friend and this stain-remover. They have saved me from tossing countless pieces of otherwise-ruined cookware and clothes, respectively.

I think I saw this advice here not long ago: It's easier to keep your place tidy if you commit to never moving around empty handed. Example: When I get up from my desk to get a snack, I take my empty coffee cup with me to put in the sink. On my way back from the kitchen, I grab the utility bill from the dining table and take it to my office. Any time you change locations, take a moment to look around and see what is out of place, then put it where it needs to be.

Also, more generally: Buy it nice, or buy it twice.
posted by lovableiago at 4:37 PM on January 27 [11 favorites]


Duluth Trading clothing, for people who work strenuous or physical jobs, because while their clothing may be pricy, it really, really holds up. I paid for just one pair of pants what I'd usually buy three cheaper work pants for at other places, but my Duluth work pants (on my feet all day in a physical job) have lasted four years so far, whereas the other pants would have been worn out in months.

Campbells Tavern Style Pot Roast in foil bags, over a chuck roast in my crockpot. It's a delicious, simple meal that's ready when you get home after a long day of work.
posted by annieb at 4:48 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


There’s been a lot of sock advice so far, but this is the one thing I recommend more than anything, and have probably recommended it five times so far on MeFi, so sixth time is the charm:

Find a sock you like, and buy ten (or so) identical pairs. No trying to find a match, no pinning, no singles when one goes missing. You can just throw all your socks in a drawer, and when you pull any two out, they’ll match.

Especially good in darkened bedrooms on sleepy mornings when you need as little hassle as possible. It’s like a low-key version of Einstein and Steve Jobs wearing the same outfit every day.
posted by ejs at 4:50 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


If you live in the US and own an ereader, borrow books through the Libby app. Seriously seamless experience.
posted by peacheater at 4:53 PM on January 27 [23 favorites]


Eucerin Daily Protection Moisturizing Face Lotion, Sunscreen SPF 30 (fragrance free). It's a good sunscreen for while at the office or or days when you are mainly indoors during the day. I've used it on my face, neck and hands for at least 20 years (and have recommended it on Metafilter a million times–as well as IRL).
posted by marimeko at 4:59 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


...and if you don't own an e-reader, get one. They're great. I really like my Kindle Paperwhite, but I'm sure competing brands are fine as well.

The current one is a bit outdated, but the iPad Mini is a really underappreciated size of iPad.

The best movie streaming service, by far, is Criterion.

I've found that a surprising number of Americans who regularly need to boil water for tea or coffee don't own an electric kettle.
posted by kickingtheground at 5:05 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


listen more than you talk
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:18 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


Travelling alone, and Frasier.
posted by Desertshore at 5:21 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


Books: Kate Elliott, Martha Wells, Patricia McKillip, and Sherwood Smith for your fantasy needs. Rosemary Kirstein for your SF. Dorothy Dunnett, Rosemary Sutcliff, Molly Gloss, and Gillian Bradshaw for your historic fiction needs. John McPhee, Wallace Stegner, and Terry Tempest Williams for your nonfiction. (I am definitely dating myself here.) AO3 for when you need to read about a time-traveling Princess Leia who is going to prevent the death of the Republic from happening.

Activities: climbing (for strength and flexibility) and dog agility (because dogs!). Mountain biking if you like speed and want to stay away from cars.

Foodstuffs: cabbages are wonderful and very versatile, hot or cold, cooked or raw. Also a bread-maker has been a wonderful way to avoid buying processed foods.
posted by suelac at 5:21 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


re: traveling: if you are in a place where you don't speak the language but you want to pierce the tourist bubble a bit, go to a metal show. a metal show is a place where you can participate without having to talk and (in my experience) they are held in places that are physically well outside the tourist bubble. this may work for other forms of dancing as well.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:24 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


I always recommend: reading Annie Dillard and W.G. Sebald, getting a coffee maker that only has one button and doesn't beep, cooking out of Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, walking instead of driving, buying locally instead of online, getting gloves & a headlamp when you buy tire chains, and always reach for the Kunz Spoon.
posted by niicholas at 5:27 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Get laser hair removal. OMG why did I wait until my mid thirties to do it! All those years of razor burn and stubble and misery and hassle and expense! Now I'm ready to go swimming at any time! I'm ready for anything, always! It's the greatest most amazing thing and well worth every penny. I wish I could do commercials for it. Best decision ever.

Also, I always encourage people to join a CSA. Before I joined a CSA, I hated vegetables and hardly ever ate them, and when I did, it was the same 2 or 3 kinds. NOW... well, I still hate a lot of vegetables, but I eat way more of them and I feel much healthier. It's a challenge every week to eat them before they go bad and think of new and creative and hopefully edible ways of cooking them. Plus, I'm helping local farmers and eating organic. All good.
posted by silverstatue at 5:35 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


A paste of baking soda and vegetable oil works just as well as Goo Gone for sticky stuff on a hard surface, but is non-toxic and practically free.

Cloth napkins are for every day. They work better, feel better, and are greener (and probably cheaper in the long run—actually, I got the bulk of mine at a yard sale for $5 a decade ago). It's okay if they get a little stained.

If you have insurance or can otherwise at all afford it, go to the dentist. Prioritize this. Preventative dental care saves you from nasty drilling in the future. Also, cleanings don't make your mouth bleed if you floss regularly.

If you're dealing with bedbugs or moths, you can de-bug your dry woollens in the oven: half an hour on the lowest temperature (for us, 170 F).
posted by the_blizz at 5:59 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Almost forgot: ultrasonic toothbrushes!
posted by kickingtheground at 6:01 PM on January 27 [5 favorites]


The one and a half knot! A single knot (the typical "loop swoop and pull" method) can easily untie itself, especially if it's a slick cord/lace or getting moved a lot. A double knot (loop swoop and pull, then tie the resulting loops together) is more secure but hard to untie—you can no longer undo it by pulling on a loose end, but have to pick the knot apart. A one and a half knot is just a standard shoelace method but with two swoops: make a loop, put the other lace around it twice, then pull the lace through both wraps. Way more secure and still comes out with one tug.
posted by babelfish at 6:20 PM on January 27 [8 favorites]


I recommend Recomendo.
posted by aworks at 6:31 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Floss picks!
I lived my life ignoring the advice from dentists about how I should floss every day, because who has the time for that, but if there is a device that allows you to floss with one hand, while reading or using the internet with the other, well then! We need ignore the dentists no longer!
posted by Daily Alice at 6:37 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Essentialism
posted by medusa at 6:45 PM on January 27


Don't use make-up removal wipes. They're crap for the environment and olive oil works just as well to melt makeup off in the shower, plus is way cheaper.
Relatedly, I use a fresh wash cloth to wash my face and only my face with every shower. I have a ton of cotton washclothes that get cycled this way. My skin looks great.
Use an ACV rinse in your hair now and again. Works wonders on mine, ymmv.
Safety razors are much less wasteful and work as well as disposable razors. You can buy them new, vintage, or like me, get one for $1 at the dollar store.
Have a nighttime routine. Melatonin and l-theanine make for a great night's sleep.
Also, take anything, like iron, that upsets your stomach before bed, so you're asleep when you're processing it and it doesn't bug you (or at least, it doesn't bug me).

Aim to get 15 minutes of sunshine on your face a day (at minimum), no matter the weather and no matter what else is going on in your life.
The Golden Compass book series.
Catalogue your immediate relatives' health issues somewhere. It comes in handy when you're filling out lists at the doctor's office or being asked questions by a healthcare professional. Too many people just like, guess at random or have to use long term memory to answer these questions that are really important.

Know your blood type. Donate blood if you can.

Some kind of language learning every day as well, I use duolingo and I have an almost 400 day streak going. It's really minimal effort but it feels good to stay on top of.

This one is free as well: every night before falling asleep I ask myself what I regret I did during the day, why I did it, how I could have done it better. And I remind myself of something I'm proud of doing that day. I set a few simple intentions for tomorrow. Then I forgive myself for everything with compassionate intension, usually by saying, you did your best and you are completely acceptable, I accept you and forgive you completely.
posted by erattacorrige at 7:07 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


HALT: don't make a decision when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired.

Also, Zojirushi makes the best no-leak travel cup.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:07 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Do the Couch to 5K program. Then keep running longer and farther.

Get one of those silly wine aerators. Boxed wines will really come alive, and you’ll feel delightfully sneaky!

Always check your luggage when circumstances allow for it.

Consider adopting full-grown (or nearly-so) pets. You’ll know who you’re getting, and too often people overlook them.
posted by armeowda at 7:29 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Software: Autoit, Plex, Locate32, voidtools Everything, Google Forms, Chrome Remote Desktop.

Stuff: merino wool socks, Ontario RAT 2 pocket knife, Victorinox Fibrox kitchen knives (the semi-flexible boning knife is excellent), magnetic device charging gizmos.

Books: The Mirror Thief, Children of Time, Fishboy.

Cooking: spatchcock that chicken! Also, fingerling potatoes are easy and delicious.

Health: intermittent fasting works!

Bonus: learn to take care of your shoes.
posted by jmfitch at 7:48 PM on January 27 [3 favorites]


This is a real grab bag, but anyway, here goes:
  • I've been a member of the same book club for nearly 20 years. We are a great source of friendship and support for each other (as well as intellectual stimulation). If you like to read and talk about books, I recommend joining or starting a book club. Mine is still going despite the pandemic--we just do it over Zoom now.
  • Seconding all the e-reader recommendations. My vision is deteriorating and I am able to turn any book into a large-print book. Personally, I have a Kobo Clara and I really like it. I can download ebooks directly from my library's Overdrive system.
  • If you live in a place where it gets icy, get grips/cleats/spikes for your shoes. When I didn't have them, I used to fall a few times per winter, but with my grippers I am able to walk confidently on almost any icy surface (all bets are off if it's a steep, icy incline).
  • Get a hair catcher for your tub/shower. We no longer get clogs in our tub drain.
  • The best non-fiction book I've ever read is Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick. I read it years ago, recommended by someone here on Metafilter, and I still think about it.
  • Assuming we will eventually go back to being able to travel: packing cubes are amazing and I will never go back to packing without them. Mine are from Eagle Creek.
  • It is hard for me to find pants that fit my body, so following a recommendation from a MeFite, I ordered three pairs of custom made jersey pants from Ureshii (in bamboo, linen, and merino jersey) and they were worth every penny. They fit me well, they're super comfortable, they look good, and they will last a long time.
  • My partner and I have a dog. I am convinced he is part of what has kept us healthy and happy throughout the pandemic. He is endlessly entertaining and unconditionally affectionate. We take him for daily walks, sometimes for very long walks, out in nature. In non-pandemic times, he is a great way to meet other people out walking their dogs in our neighbourhood or on the dog trails. I always say if someone has the ability and inclination, it's awesome to have a dog.
  • My bff introduced me to The Ordinary skin care and it is fantastic. Well-priced, no suspicious ingredients, works really well.
  • My hair has gotten very dry as I've aged, and Oi Oil is the only thing that makes it more like its former texture. It's pricey but worth it. You don't have to use a lot.
  • I have acid reflux and I take chewable Gaviscon foamtabs every night before bed. (Has to be the Canadian or UK type; the US formula is different and not as good from what I understand.) It is different (and better) than Tums because it is made of algae that forms a foam barrier over your stomach acid, which both calms the acid and prevents it from coming back up into your throat as you sleep and protecting it from irritation.

posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:50 PM on January 27 [13 favorites]


Go for a long walk every day, even if the weather is terrible and you don't feel like it. (Having a dog is a great way to make sure this happens.)

Zip-It drain cleaning tool

Tove Jansson's Moomin books

Simplify camping and backpacking by taking only foods that don't need to be cooked. You can take way less stuff. You don't need to worry about a stove, fuel, pots, pans, cooking utensils, or washing dishes, and you can eat whenever you want despite wind, rain or tiredness.

elimination communication for babies

wineberries
posted by Redstart at 8:05 PM on January 27 [6 favorites]


Mason jars (for, like, everything, but especially food storage.)
Morning pages (I write on my phone first thing so I can do it without waking anybody else up)
Whispersync books
Costco wool socks (cheaper and sturdier than pricier brands)
Make yogurt in an instant pot (use whole milk)
Vasectomy
Eat some vegetables in your first meal of the day (then feel smug)
Intermittent fasting (for blood sugar control)

I feel like the tip about having the argument since you’re already angry might change my life.
posted by instamatic at 8:11 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Buy a knife sharpener. It will rock your world.
posted by bookmammal at 8:25 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


Use community-supported free software. If you can't do it with free software, only do it if somebody else is supplying and paying for the required non-free software and the IT equipment it runs on. The background level of minor inconvenience caused by choosing not to embrace any particular vendor's "seamless" walled garden is far far healthier than being locked into any given vendor's ecosystem could ever be.

Use good, free password management software.

Have a backup policy. This could be anywhere from simply giving no shits about your data so that you won't be upset when it evaporates, to keeping multiple regularly updated physical copies of everything in separate physical locations plus a cloud account or two. Most people will find it appropriate to back certain kinds of data up very rigorously and get quite slack with other kinds. The principles to keep in mind are that (1) digital data doesn't really exist until you can put your actual hands on at least two identical copies (2) the inconvenience involved in backing stuff up is nowhere near as high as the pain involved in permanent loss of data it turns out you actually did care about (3) an untested backup is not a real backup - regularly exercise your recovery procedure.

Become aware of the enormous extent to which our lives are dominated by habit. Habits are super useful to any living animal: they're essentially gelled learning, well-practised skills that we can exercise with very little effort. All of us have more habits we never learned deliberately than ones we did, and since running on habit is always the easiest thing to do, it's what most of us do do most of the time. And keep it clear in your mind that habits are skills, which makes "breaking" them a self-destructive activity. If you can identify habits that cause you more trouble than they save, then instead of breaking them, the thing to do is consciously build new habits to complement and/or compete with them.

Don't fret when people fail to take your excellent advice. People suck at taking advice. All of us do. The better the advice, and the more we'd benefit from taking it, the worse we suck at taking it. This is just how people work. Give your best advice and let it go.
posted by flabdablet at 9:16 PM on January 27 [19 favorites]


This seems too preachy for me to talk about much, but making my bed every day really has improved my life.
posted by inexorably_forward at 9:16 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


Babelfish’s shoelace knot advice is so right, I always think this is the one thing that has improved my life the most with the smallest amount of effort.
Here’s a diagram!

I also highly recommend growing a passionfruit vine if your climate allows it—you get the most delicious fruit and fascinating flowers, and it will climb all over your unsightly fence.

If your hair gets tangled and you have a sensitive scalp, use The Wet Brush.

If you were rude to a service worker for whatever reason, go back in and apologize. You will feel better, and they will be amazed and have a little of their faith in humanity restored.
posted by exceptinsects at 9:22 PM on January 27 [10 favorites]


If you are re-roofing your house call your insurance agent and ask if upgrading the shingles will get you a discount on your premiums. Here in Colorado upgrading to a hail resistent shingle saves me several hundred dollars each year. The higher cost of the shingles was paid off quickly. Get It In Writing. Save email conversations about it. You may have to call back and "remind them".
Insurance agents don't usually tell you about this, you have to ask.
Call and chat with your agent when you're thinking about buying a new car too. One company I had insurance with considered any 2 door a sports car and charged higher premiums than for a 4 door. They all have their own rules so if you're thinking of changing companies it's a good time to shop around.
posted by BoscosMom at 9:46 PM on January 27


Essays by John McPhee.

In a very different, but somewhat rhyming vein, essays by Patrick McManus.

Poetry by Marianne Moore.
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:06 PM on January 27


Menstrual cups. By switching to one, I've avoided so much waste, saved money, and made my menstruations more comfortable and less crampy.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:30 AM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Therapy.
posted by citands at 1:38 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Seconding menstrual cups. My hormonal IUD has stopped my bleeding almost entirely, but we had some good times before then, and I'm retroactively mad that I had to find out about them randomly on the internet after using pads for years and hating them.

The Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold. I mean, I like lots of other books too, but this series is the answer to pretty much any SF recommendation question.

Make bulk meals and freeze them in small portions to eat later. If you despise cooking, like my mom, you could get a huge freezer, concentrate all your misery in one or two days of non-stop cooking, and live out of tupperware for a month. I like cooking, but I live alone, and I neither want to cook every day nor eat the same thing for a week.

If you want a basic sewing machine, it's very likely that you can (with some caveats) get a vintage machine of much better quality than an entry-level new machine, for a very low price.

Learn basic automation, even if you don't want to be "a programmer". You don't need to want to be a trucker or a bus driver for driving to be immensely useful to you.

You can powder your own sencha.

Use Calibre to manage ebooks. You can also use it to record your paper book collection in the same place.

This is very location-dependent, but after starting to order groceries from small local suppliers (one for fruit and veg, one for meat, etc.), I am never going back to supermarkets.

If you keep picking your face, and also have never used face-specific cleaning products in your entire life, look into face washes, etc., designed for breakout-prone skin, e.g. with salicylic acid as an active ingredient. In the same vein, Korean pimple patches are a thing that exists, and so is benzoyl peroxide. These things are actually helpful and not just bullshit marketing.

If you had a frugal upbringing and are now an adult with more disposable income than your parents had, when you are annoyed about an item that you need to use regularly because it's crappy or broken or not there, consider that you may just be able to get a new one. This often doesn't occur to me for literal years.

If you need to get a gift for someone you don't know very well, make it something nice but consumable, like chocolate or wine or soap or candles. Then never ask about it. Someone is sure to enjoy it, even if you miss the mark with the original recipient, and you're not pressuring someone into accumulating stuff.

Use multiple columns of text in documents destined for print. It looks better and makes shorter lines, and reflowing text into multiple columns makes more efficient use of space.

Use containers inside other containers and inside cupboards. Use clear containers so that you can see where you put stuff. Ideally get ones that stack. At least once in your life go to a plastics supplier which sells storage containers in different shapes and sizes and just go nuts.

You can use an exercise ball as an office chair.
posted by confluency at 2:26 AM on January 28 [10 favorites]


Oh, new, COVID inspired one: if you have kids in secondary school zooming from home, create a separate Google calendar with each one’s schedule. That way if you have to schedule a doctor appointment (also zoom 🙄) you are more likely to schedule it during lunch or PE than PreCalc. Or if you need them to put away the dishes, you can catch them in between classes. By putting them each on separate calendars, you can keep them off most of the time and just click them on to check when you need them.
posted by instamatic at 6:32 AM on January 28 [1 favorite]


For people who are trying to get a handle on finances, I recommend reddit's r/personalfinance step by step overview, summarized graphically in this flowchart.

A few other money recommendations:

First, do your banking at a credit union rather than a bank. Banks are for profit, which comes from you, their customers. Credit unions are owned by members are a much better deal.

Second, I'm a great believer in having sub-accounts dedicated to specific purposes. See below.

Third, even out how much you allocate to bills and utilities from every paycheck to prevent unpleasant surprises about the regular course of life. Some bills come once or a few times a year (insurance, memberships, water bill, whatever) and some vary over the course of the year (electricity, heating). Keep track of your bills and utilities over the course of a year--trivially easy these days with personal finance software. Divide the total by the number of paychecks. Put that amount in a specific sub-account for living expenses and pay out of that account. I find it really reassuring to know that the necessities are accounted for, I won't be caught short when the car insurance bill shows up, I don't have to do mental math about how much of my checking balance or savings balance is needed to take care of the bills.

Finally, open sub-accounts to save for other foreseeable expenses (aside from retirement or college savings for kids.) I have one for house maintenance that gets $80 per paycheck. Somewhere down the line something will come up and I will have money to work with. I have another for "next car" as my 12 year old ride will need to be replaced someday. A few years ago I reached the point where I could justify to myself an art and travel sub-account. Again, having these savings separate from general savings means that when a big expense arises, I can make a clear assessment of where the money comes from and where the tradeoffs are being made. When the HVAC system needed to be replaced a few years ago, I cleaned out the maintenance account, which didn't nearly cover the cost--but also was able to think about whether I wanted to dip into the car savings to make up the rest, or handle it a different way.
posted by Sublimity at 6:56 AM on January 28 [13 favorites]


YNAB - to feel control of the $ outflows of life and reducing my general anxiety about money and not having enough of it.

A really awesome mug - that you love to drink coffee or tea from every day! Start your morning with a bit of joy!

Camelback water bottle - the one with the straw. I drink more water, and don't use any other water bottles.

Figuring out what you are not giving yourself permission to do - and intentionally working on doing that thing.

Recognizing that feeling worried and anxious all the time is NOT normal! - and starting to work on this via self-help books, therapy and now medication
posted by ellerhodes at 7:24 AM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Lasik!

I have excellent vision now. It changed my life and I’m seriously evangelical about it. Best money I’ve ever spent.
posted by scrubjay at 7:35 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Blackout curtains in the bedroom. I can't tell you how much better I sleep!
posted by Short Attention Sp at 8:29 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


A few more (I love threads like this):

Home improvements even renters can do:
-buy yourself a nice detachable shower head - it will make getting both yourself and your tub/shower clean easier and more enjoyable
-install a curved shower curtain bar - you will be amazed at how much difference a few more inches of elbow room makes to your shower experience
-water filter in the form of a pitcher or sink attachment
-hang art at eye level

Everyone is prone to minor maladies like heartburn, UTIs, whatever. Especially if you live alone but even if you don't, make sure you always have on hand the medicine or items you need to relieve your particular common maladies (if you have an FSA, this a great thing to spend it on)

If Meetup in your town is halfway decent, it is a great shortcut to forming a group of friends because everyone else who participates is also looking for friends (for the most part). Don't be afraid to use it.

If you are a makeup wearer, Pond's Cold Cream and some cotton balls is the ne plus ultra of makeup removers. It's gentle and non-drying, it actually removes even waterproof mascara with little effort and is cheap and easy to find.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:34 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


do your banking at a credit union rather than a bank.

Seconded.

In Australia we're lucky enough to have a customer-owned bank as a result of credit unions merging over the last fifty years. My late father was a founding member of one of those credit unions, I'm still doing all my banking with what it's grown into (the bank's head office building is actually Dad's credit union's old one), and unlike every for-profit bank customer I know personally, I've never been given cause to swear at them.

Because credit unions are an outgrowth of the union movement generally, treating their staff well is a priority for them; and, surprise surprise! When an org treats its staff well, the staff treat customers equally well... especially when the customers are the owners and everybody knows it. Banking with a customer-owned organization is actually pleasant.
posted by flabdablet at 8:45 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


If you have dry skin, it is just as important to exfoliate as it is to moisturize. Otherwise, the skin lotion just glues all the little dead skin cells together, making it impossible for the moisturizer to get through.
posted by DrGail at 9:23 AM on January 28 [4 favorites]


Buy the best winter boots that you can afford.

Cook at home. Learn one recipe you really like. Perfect it. Find another. Repeat. Before you know it, you'll prefer eating at home and re-frame how/why you dine out.

Be present. Look around. See the natural world and know you are part of it.

Never stop trying no matter how trite your efforts appear. Regardless of what you are attempting. Change takes time and many efforts. Stopping one thing and starting another is like cold starting a diesel when its 10 below.

If you roast Hatch Chiles, put the peels in aquafaba and let soak. After you drain the peels/seeds, use the liquid as a thickening agent in soups and stews to add a spicy smoky flavor.

Audio books have allowed me to "read" way more than I normally would have been able.

Stay in touch with people in some way other than social media.

A work truism I learned long ago: If you are working on a remote site and in the first hour, the shaft of your hammer fractures, tape it up. It will work for now. For now. Always remember that you are working with a broken tool. If you don't, you'll never be able to work at capacity. Replace the broken tool in your life, when you are able. What part of my life is broken that I've taped up?
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:40 AM on January 28 [17 favorites]


Use parchment paper instead of foil in your baking sheets.
posted by DuckGirl at 10:53 AM on January 28 [3 favorites]


-You Need A Budget (YNAB) has turned me from a person who was constantly anxious about money to a person who doesn't stress about it at all.

-Download ebooks and audiobooks from your public library. Also get the browser extension that shows you when books are available at your library.

-If you plan to give birth to a child vaginally, take a stool softener afterwards. Trust me.

-You can't control other people's emotions.
posted by missrachael at 11:18 AM on January 28 [6 favorites]


-Getting a sturdy, decent sized trash can for the kitchen, with a cover you work with a foot pedal, has improved my life a lot. I used to have the tiny kind that fit under the sink to try and save space, and I didn't realize how much it sucked.

-When you're making a green salad, season it with Maldon salt. Also, add fruit and (assuming you're not allergic) handful or two of nuts. I like apples and walnuts.

-Go watch They Look Like People; it helped me get through the pandemic without cracking up and I'm not kidding.

-Once in a while, strike up a conversation with a stranger, or even just compliment something you like that they're wearing.
posted by holborne at 1:57 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


A video about how great walking is for humans who are able to walk

A video of Scott Stanley (researcher) talking about the concept of sliding vs deciding in relationships, the focus here is on romance and young people but is applicable across the lifespan, and also outside of romantic relationship

Volunteer

Adding fruits and veggies to your eating habits instead of subtracting other foods

No moralizing about your eating habits. Food is not inherently "good" or "bad" and choosing one food over another doesn't make you "naughty" or "well behaved"

Hire an impartial third party - Home Inspectors that aren't recommended by your realtor or anyone else who benefits from you buying the property, therapist who doesn't care if you stay married

Plastic food storage containers where the lids match all the container sizes (I use whatever brand is available on amazon, usually the brand is Reditainer, and I get them in 3 sizes)

Lingerie bag to keep socks and undies from getting lost/damaged in the wash

Air drying laundry - I use a clothes horse and a set of clip hangers. This makes clothes last longer, saves time at the laundry mat

Frequent (daily or every few days) light wiping rather than infrequent (weekly or monthly) elbow grease for home upkeep

Have shoes you love resoled by a trusted shoe repair professional

Neti pot for nose gunk, especially combined with self administered lymphatic drainage

Buy cleaning supplies (except bleach, which degrades quickly) in large bottles and decant them into your spray bottles. This saves packaging, is generally cost effective, especially if you buy concentrates. Concentrates are great because you're not paying to ship water around the planet.
posted by bilabial at 2:24 PM on January 28 [3 favorites]


Cook rice by boiling and draining it like pasta, then letting it steam for a bit, as described in this Perfect Brown Rice Recipe. I learned about this from a comment on Metafilter sometime in the past year and it has become my preferred rice cooking method. It works for white rice too, if you reduce the boiling time to 10 minutes.
posted by Redstart at 3:51 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


Get a good text editor (e.g.: TextMate or Sublime), learn how to do regex in it.
posted by signal at 6:54 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


Podcast Addict app for Android. Pocket Casts is an acceptable alternative for iOS.
posted by commander_fancypants at 7:02 PM on January 28


I think the thing I've recommended most in any AskMe is the cookbook Moosewood Daily Special. It is a treasure trove of recipes for nothing but soups and salads, and I have found it to be a useful recommendation for people looking for advice on:

* Getting more vegetables into their diets
* Getting more variety in their brown-bagged lunches
* Finding things to batch cook once a week and then live off for a while
* Using up the weird vegetables from their CSA that they don't know what to do with
* Finding side dishes for simple grilled meat
* Eating fresher food
* Eating healthier
* Eating more simply

...But the thing that made me swear by it is, it taught me how to cook more improvisationally. I followed its recipes kind of zealously for a year, and only after that did I have the epiphany that "wait a minute....these soup recipes are pretty much all the same." The only thing that changed was the different ingredients, and that meant if I swapped out one ingredient for something else, I was probably not going to make my soup blow up or anything. I am much, much more free-form with my soups now as a result - a lot of times I will just pull vegetables out that need using up and use whatever I've got instead of following an exact recipe.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on January 28 [5 favorites]


a lot of times I will just pull vegetables out that need using up and use whatever I've got instead of following an exact recipe.

Canned tomatoes can make anything good.
posted by flabdablet at 9:26 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


No moralizing about your eating habits. Food is not inherently "good" or "bad" and choosing one food over another doesn't make you "naughty" or "well behaved"

Generalizing that: doing the right thing in order to gain praise and/or avoid blame, even from yourself, is missing the point. Do the right thing because it works better.
posted by flabdablet at 11:12 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


The Ms. Marple books by Agatha Christie. There are twelve of them and they are all some combination of perfect and revelatory.

Also Ubik by P.K.Dick.

And also any of the Nero Wolfe books.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:43 AM on January 29 [5 favorites]


A sunrise alarm clock. I've owned a Phillips one for 5 years now, and even take it with me when I travel. It has made waking up in the winter tolerable, and my quality of life so much better. If you struggle to wake up in the dark, I really recommend this. It's different than a daylight lamp: it will gradually brighten over about half an hour, and it's not blindingly bright. Some part of my brain is adequately tricked into thinking the sun is rising.

Related, but not the part that I really recommend so emphatically: I've installed a Keurig machine on my night table, and having a cup of coffee in bed nearly every morning is amazing. (Life is short, and coffee is wonderful!) If money was no object, I'd go with a Nespresso. Most of the time I find Keurig coffee undrinkable (stovetop espresso is my preference), but somehow it tastes uniquely good in those early minutes before my feet hit the floor.
posted by tamarack at 6:42 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


echoing:
-YNAB
-using a password manager (any password manager, but I use 1password)

I even made a whole presentation about the latter at one of those "powerpoint parties" that people used to do in the before times. And I powered through the entire presentation despite the fact that I'd lost 90% of my voice. That should tell you how strongly I feel about evangelizing it.
posted by mosst at 8:13 AM on January 29


Also! This one is more US-specific, but: baking by weight. I am BAFFLED that more Americans don't use a food scale. They're far easier and more accurate than measuring cups. And they only cost $10-15.
posted by mosst at 8:14 AM on January 29 [18 favorites]


shower radio/speaker in the bathroom
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:43 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]


oatmeal for breakfast: cheap, easy to prepare, versatile, filling and healthy.

exercise, in whatever form, as an integral part of your daily life, for both your physical and mental health. it is advice I often give only because I came to it relatively late in life (32) and it has since brought so much to me over the years.

seconding ladyoscar: continous pill taking to stop menstruating is a life changer. no contraindications to my knowledge but check with your gyneacologist.
posted by bluedora at 12:13 PM on January 30


Leatherman multi-tools. Wow do they come in handy. I have one in my car and one in the house.
posted by radioamy at 1:57 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]


There was this recent thing about witches and one of the spells to woo a woman was a piece of cheese. The actual secret is... learn to give an actually good massage. Book (like I did long ago) or internets or videos or whatnot. That bit of "oh, that's actually nice and melt and strip and break out the oil"... is better than cheese.
posted by zengargoyle at 4:22 AM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Lao gan ma chilli crisp. Improves the taste of pretty much everything.

I avoided it for a long time because I thought it would be very spicy like other chilli oils, but it’s actually more savoury (because of onion, garlic, and delicious MSG).
posted by Concordia at 6:32 AM on February 1 [3 favorites]


Water flosser if you hate thread flossing.

Mechanical toothbrush.

If you cannot touch your toes/sit 90 degrees for yoga, this video: https://youtu.be/xJMRdusSY4Y (it worked so well I wondered if it was problematic, showed it to a physical therapist and she said it was fantastic)

Buy only one color/brand of socks and never worry about having to pair socks again. (I suggest black but whatever)

Several years ago I went around the Internet including metafilter reading tons and tons of threads about "what advice would you give your younger self". It was mostly very subjective or overly specific, but the one specific useful thing that kept recurring was exercise. (well, that and taking care of your skin).

Everyone will tell you find the exercise you are able to stick with and this advice is good. You may need to keep experimenting until you find it, but also, tweaking other factors can make a huge difference. Switching from running in the evening to running in the morning was huge for me. (evening = need to drag myself off couch and go. Morning = when I get dressed in the morning I dress in exercise gear and only change to regular clothing after). Before running, I did physical activity classes (dance, self defense) which were much more fun and interesting for me than "exercise" but it eventually wasn't possible with my schedule, so you need to also adapt as things change... (exercising is very important for maintaining my mental health. Also helps with the physical health I assume but the mental health is what makes it non-negotiable)

If you do couch to 5k, somewhere past the half way point there's a leap in difficulty (from ten to twenty minutes straight running). Don't torment yourself. Switch away from couch to 5k to a generic run tracking app like Strava, and run ten minutes, then walk until you feel better, then run again. Eventually you'll be able to run twenty minutes straight (and 25 and 30 etc) and you won't drop out of the program in frustration.
posted by Cozybee at 4:23 AM on February 3 [8 favorites]


The film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Literally jaw-dropping the first time I saw it; eminently re-watchable thereafter, like cinematic comfort food.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 6:46 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


Use a program off IRS Free File if you make less than $72k.

Shop at ALDI.

Don’t grocery shop hungry. I try to buy items for three recipes on every other or second trip.

If you can pay it off every month, use a credit card. I avoided them for too long and missed out on a lot of perks.

If you have curly hair, the Curltastic comb may change your life.

Check your local library’s site every so often to see what services and programs they offer.

Items/products I use every day or most days: Sun lamp, humidifier, ereader, library card, Apple Watch, iPad mini, Apple TV, immersion blender, space heater, weighted blanket, electric toothbrush.
posted by girlmightlive at 1:58 PM on February 3 [4 favorites]


Combination hair dryer and round brush. Looks like a pro blowout and only one tool to hold!

Tiny retractable exacto-knife, magnets to your fridge. The blade is so sharp and we use it all the time for opening packages.

Dyson cordless stick vacuum. Wait for a black Friday sale. Worth every penny.

Airpods. Sooo much easier around the house, out running, etc.

A king sized bed. I can never go back.

Find underwear you like and buy a ton of it.

These collapsible bins for carrying, well, everything. I keep them in my car and use for groceries instead of reusable bags--they fit so much more and are so organized. Also great for camping and for packing for road trips.

Costco.

OxySpray for pre-treating stains. Keep one in the bedroom as well to spray before you throw in the hamper.

An electric kettle. We got a nice small one and it takes up much less counter space but still makes two mugs of hot water.

LASIK.

Packing cubes. I don't tend to love Amazon brand stuff but their packing cubes are great.

Backing up your digital photos. Google photos is so easy and so much peace of mind.

A minivan. Don't resist. So functional for everything and you're not that cool anyway.

Dandyblend is the only coffee substitute I've ever liked. Tastes like coffee, not bitter at all, and herbal and healthy.

This portable chair. So easy to set up and so comfy, packs down very small.

When in doubt, buy a bigger tent.

This sleep mask. It has changed my sleep, and the eye pockets are very comfortable.

And relationally speaking:

1. LISTEN. Much more than you talk.
2. Pain + resistance = suffering. It's not the painful thing itself, but our resistance to feeling it, that causes the suffering. Lean into the feeling, accept it completely, without wishing it were otherwise (easier said than done, I know!). Try as best you can to notice and minimize resistance to feelings wherever possible.
posted by reksb at 3:40 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


Toast nuts and seeds in the microwave. 30-second blasts, little stir in between. Much more even than a pan, and they never burn.

Spend money on experiences rather than stuff. You might think the stuff lasts longer, and it does, but the happiness you get from stuff is fleeting while the happiness of your experience memories lasts a long time.

Avoid complicated and trendy nutrition advice. The basics haven't changed in decades - lots of fruit and veg (1/2 of your plate), lean protein (1/4), whole grains (1/4).
posted by Frenchy67 at 10:29 AM on March 3 [1 favorite]


Ooh I forgot my favorite piece of advice (which I think I got from MeFi): if you can't find something, don't tear the house apart looking for it, instead, start cleaning/tidying up. It's a better way of finding it, makes it easier to see where it isn't, and you get a clean house.

First of all I have permanently adopted this and can strongly endorse it as a better way of finding lost stuff, but secondly, as a piece of advice it also works great on a more general/metaphorical level. If some thing's out of place, just start getting things into order in general, the something will hopefully turn up.
posted by Cozybee at 6:27 AM on March 4 [2 favorites]


Calling your beloved to check whether you left it in her car works quite surprisingly often as well.
posted by flabdablet at 9:34 PM on March 5


Knipex Cobra waterpump pliers (IE: Channel locks).
posted by Mitheral at 6:35 PM on March 15


Oh, seconding the recommendation for packing cubes in general (if you dislike Amazon on principle, they can be found other places). They've been a Godsend for me on my last few trips - they condense down the things you're packing so that you can fit things into a smaller space (I try to pack just a carry-on, so this is key), and they also can help your luggage stay organized (all shirts are in one cube, all the pants in another, socks and underwear in another, etc., so you're not pawing through your whole bag when all you want to do is find one specific shirt or whatever).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:11 AM on March 16


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