Helping You Help Yourself #44

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“Why would I make my own tater tots, Rachel,” you ask, “when I can buy them from the store?” Well, reader, I don’t know. Maybe you want to find out if they taste better homemade, or you’re trying to eat less prepackaged food, or you just feel a calling to move ever forward toward the peak of human achievement in every aspect, including tater tots. Whatever your reason, here’s how you can make your own tater tots, if you want to.

Maybe you’ve already seen this by now, but a great comic guide on calling your reps when you have phone or social anxiety (like me!)

I am very bad at folding dumplings, which is too bad because I love eating them. Here’s a video I have returned to many a time on the subject.

Finally, an answer to the question that keeps me up at night: how to keep people from knowing I’ve read their message on facebook.

A Chrome extension to help you better search for what you want on Netflix.

Six ways to be prepared and not panic if you lose your job, and also how to know if you qualify for unemployment.

A tip from Yvonne: Yes you can wash a pillow and here’s how!

An online tool that shows you what political positions you can run for. Run for office! Change the world!

An online tool that can help immigrants in the US determine their legal status, options, and even get in touch with an immigration lawyer.

A primer on the special super-intense tape the CIA uses to send physical mail securely, and how you can get it too. No longer will the junk mail that my mom forwards to me because it was sent to her address in my name be vulnerable to prying eyes!

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. I may have to try the tatortot thing. I’ve got a good tatortot hotdish recipe, and maybe it needs to include homemade tatortots once every five years or something.

  2. The mystery of what a tater tot actually is has now been solved for this non-american!
    For some reason when I read the word in American media I had pictured them as mini hotdogs

    • Your comment inspired me to look it up, too. I had pictured it as a kind of candy but I have no idea why because obviously taters are potatoes. Mystery solved!

    • I didn’t know it either. One of those American things Americans take for granted that everyone will know but it’s not really like that

      • These guesses are hilarious! At first I was like, but we love tater tots, how could you imagine we’d love something as ridiculous as mini hotdogs… waaait, that is very very plausible. Neighborhood bars should be adding it to their happy hour menu if they haven’t already :)

          • I’m Dutch: I do love Belgian fries. Thick, crispy, home made, with lots of mayonaise. Or if I’m really Dutch: fries with mayonaise, saté sauce (=Indonesian peanutsauce) and onions. We are not great with food, that’s why we steal it.

            This is great however: we sell our deep fried snacks from automated walls. (

            The cheeto-commander should check it out – build this between Mexico and the US and you’ll still be able to enjoy your tacos.

    • I always thought they were potato croquettes or something. But this resembles a Rösti with cheese. Seems nice enough. (I now want Rösti)

  3. Always grateful for recipes for things that one can buy in the US but usually not where I am. :)
    Also, I often cook things myself that I could also buy, because I’m well stocked on potatoes and similar stuff and then I can eat it without going to the store. Just now, I made Chili Cheese Fries. :D Which I couldn’t buy here anyway. But even if I could, I didn’t need to!

    I recently tried to wash a feather pillow. It was quite old and I guess hadn’t seen a washing mashing for a long time. Don’t judge, it wasn’t my own! Just seized the opportunity.
    I guess it was too old. And the fabric was too thinned out. It basically exploded in the machine and I had the feathers everywhere in there and in the bathroom after that.
    But I also had more successful attempts of washing feather pillows in the past. So don’t worry.

    • I don’t know Bellatrix, but your comment makes me so happy. The fact that you have potatoes in case you want Chili Fries and that you describe washing somebody elses old pillow as seizing an opportunity and to top it off you soothe my worries about washing my own pillow even if it might explode. Go you!

  4. Thanks for the unemployment advice. While I’m not presently unemployed, the word being thrown around the office is “nebulous” and that’s never good.

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