Helping You Help Yourself #52

The title of this, “How Nice-Lady Negotiating Saved Me $4300 In A Year,” isn’t my favorite, but it provides some good concrete suggestions for negotiating down debt (the focus here is unfairly billed medical debt) if you’re a nonconfrontational person who hates doing stuff like this, and includes specific steps for what happens if or when they at first say no.

Five NY bartenders share their best hangover cure; I think three of these are ‘other drinks’ but I guess that makes sense coming from bartenders.

If you are irrationally irritated by typos in books you’re reading, you will be pleased to know how to report typos in Kindle books.

Lately the internet has really been coming through for me and my desire to build various structures accommodating wild creatures in my urban backyard, like some kind of DIY Disney princess. Previously in this column we’ve talked about how to build a very easy Mason bee house; here are slightly more advanced projects for building a honey bee box and a barn owl house. They do require some power tools, FYI.

I’ve been wanting a weighted blanket for a while now, but they’re expensive to buy — which is understandable, as they are reportedly expensive to make, even if you do it yourself. Nonetheless, if you’d like to see if you can do a better job with DIYing one — or if you’d just prefer that it be made exactly the way you want it if you’re going to invest a bunch of money in it — here’s one guide on how to make a weighted blanket yourself and here’s one more; the instructions for both are slightly different so I’m including both. The biggest takeaway I had was using straight pins to create a little barrier for the polyfill pellets inside the fabric so you can easily sew it shut without the pellets getting in the way, something that always bothered me when I’ve tried to make heating or cooling pads with rice.

I said “ahhhh!” out loud to myself when I found this guide to making a magnetic fridge herb garden.

What would you do, in your one wild and precious life, with the ability to make ANY piñata for cheap? The possibilities are almost too overwhelming. How do you make a piñata that represents season six of The L Word? The time your ex broke up with you in the parking lot of a Steak & Shake and then you had to give them a ride home? First prize to the person who can design a piñata that represents Trumpcare.

I’ve been trying to look for a good guide on how to make friends as an adult, because A-Camp is coming this week and one thing we hear consistently from people is that they’re worried about how to make friends there (which in and of itself is kind of a tip: if you’re looking anxiously for friends, there are absolutely many other people coming to camp who feel the exact same way; you can definitely find each other!). Most articles on this were pretty bad, or centered mostly on which activities are most generative for new friends, which is a whole different situation. But goold old Wikihow came through, and this guide on “being friends with everyone” has some good tips on small talk, starting conversation, and getting to know people!

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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 have now sent the magnetic fridge herb garden link with the caption “GAME CHANGER” to: my boyfriend, my ex-girlfriend, my platonic wife/housemate, and my fave granola queer friend. Really helps me see who my chosen fam is. Thanks as ever, Autostraddle.

  2. For me the best hangover cure is coconut water; unless I am hungry then coconut water and avocado sandwich(which for many is hard to come by in the winter).

  3. Ok, Rachel the Owl author is slightly wrong. Instead of calling it a Barn Owl box it is just a plain Owl Box. Barn Owls are found mostly in Barns at this point here in North America. Plus they are not Arboreal like the Owl on the front. Barn Owls mostly hunt in Barns and open grass fields. Depending on your environment most likely you would be getting a Barred Owl, screech owl, and maybe great horned owl, but he’s pretty big so unlikely.
    Also, be careful once you get an owl in the box, small pets can become food.

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