What the…

I’m supposed to receive my fun new shoes from Tom’s today – woohoo! Did you know that for every pair of shoes Tom’s sells, they give a pair to child who would otherwise be barefoot? It’s pretty amazing.

Image: Toms.com

This morning I checked out the UPS tracking info and saw this:

Train derailment?? What the?

Thankfully, the UPS website says I’m still getting my shoes today. They better not be lying or someone at the MTA is going to have me to answer to. And I might make them get me a Starbucks. Or something crazy like that.

Why the Girl Scouts can kiss my ass

In case you’ve never spent more than 30 seconds with me, I love sweets. I love junk food. I love dessert. I rationalize this bad habit of mine by trying to eat real sweets. Instead of Chips Ahoy, I’ll make cookies. Instead of some slow-churned low-fat ice cream, I like the basic Breyers’ flavors because the ingredients are actual foods instead of, say, acesulfame potassium and cellulose gum (actual ingredients in the Edy’s Slow Churned).  I’m not saying the sweets I’m eating are nutritious, because they’re not, but I’d rather have some fat than a little less fat and a million chemicals.

This is a problem when Girl Scout cookie time rolls around. Have you ever read the ingredients on them? It’s not pretty.

Mmmm, partially hydrogenated oils. Just like Grandma used to make!

In different parts of the country they’re not called Do-si-dos but Peanut Butter Sandwiches and they also have three different kinds of high fructose corn syrup.

But there’s good news! Back to Nature, a food company based in Wisconsin that uses pretty sustainable packaging and works with lots of environmental charities, make cookies that are JUST LIKE Girl Scout cookies, but better. You can find them at Whole Foods, but I also saw a pretty big selection in the organic section at Stop & Shop.

For example, their peanut butter cookies are a total (and welcome) rip-off of Girl Scout Do-si-dos with no hydrogenated oil.

Even as “natural cookies” go, these could be healthier. They have enriched flour which isn’t the best and they’re a little fattening, but they make up for it when you dip them in milk. Wow.

I haven’t tried all of Back to Nature’s products, but I’ve tasted a lot of them and been very happy. Their Fudge Mint Cookies (Girl Scout Thin Mints) are amazing, especially if you put them in the fridge.

Happy fattening (but not toxic) snacking!

Brooklyn Flea Market

A few weeks ago my mom and I ventured into that hip, expensive borough known as Brooklyn. I have some Brooklyn roots but Canarsie hasn’t experienced quite the “renewal” other areas have so we stay away from there. Anywho, I was not aware that the day we decided to head to the Brooklyn Flea Market was also the day of the NYC Bike Race. So what should have taken about 30 or 40 minutes, took FOUR AND A HALF HOURS.

Let’s pretend that didn’t happen. The flea market was cute. We went to the indoor one in the old Williamsburg Savings Bank building right across from the Flatbush Avenue LIRR station. Note to self: take the mother-loving train next time. There is also a seasonal market in Fort Greene. All the details are on the website linked above. Cool building, right?

It was less furniture and housewares than I’d hoped, but lots of great jewelry. Outside the bank is a parking lot filled with local food vendors and picnic tables. Maybe the Fort Greene location has more furniture? Not sure.

Hope on the train or grab a sleeping bag and crawl on the BQE and go to the Flea Market some time soon!

The bossy robot cashier

Ever since I watched Food Inc. a few months ago, I’ve been doing almost all my food shopping at Whole Foods. I know it’s more expensive but I feel like I’m doing good things for my health and it reminds me of Wegman’s (sigh).

Image: stephaniesthoughts.wordpress.com

Have you seen Food Inc yet? If not, rent it ASAP.

Anyway I was in a rush today so I grabbed some items at Stop & Shop instead. Being that there were only two lines open with actual cashiers I opted for self-checkout. Oy. I guess I’m used to shopping there with Matt (my professional grocery bagger) because I forgot how frustrating it is to scan and bag the items yourself.

I know it’s never going to be a perfect system, but I find it pretty contradictory that after scanning a few things the robot lady yells, “THE BAGGING AREA IS FULL. PLEASE BAG YOUR ITEMS BEFORE CONTINUING.” I scurry down to bag up some of my stuff and she starts barking, “IF YOU’RE FINISHED SCANNING, PLEASE SELECT FINISH AND PAY. IF YOU’RE FINISHED SCANNING, PLEASE SELECT FINISH AND PAY.” Make up your mind, bitch! Give me more than five seconds to bag my crap, ok?

Bidder’s Remorse

While chaperoning last weekend I was surprisingly impressed by my students’ attire. I don’t know if it’s where I work or just teenagers in general, but all they wear to school are sweats. I don’t mean jeans and a sweatshirt, I mean leggings and a t-shirt, pajama pants –  they look halfway to homeless.

The young men on our trip looked very nice but let’s be honest, men just wear a suit and they’re done. The girls put together some pretty fabulous and sophisticated outfits that I took note of.  Two girls in particular were wearing these Steve Madden boots in black:

Image: Overstock.com

The boots really look a lot better in person, especially after they’re been broken in a bit.  I scoured the internet for them and finally stumbled upon a gently used pair (in my size!!) on eBay. And I bid. And I lost. The boots are from last season so they are gone for good.

So I looked and looked some more and found these from Naturalizer:

Image: Naturalizer website

What do you think? I like the hardware on these but I’m not crazy about the bottoms or the slightly pebbled look to the leather.  I should also point out that grandmas wear Naturalizer. Now I love my grandmas, but we don’t share shoes. Thoughts?

Belated Resolution

Now that we’re halfway through February, it’s finally time for me to settle on a resolution. Last year I vowed to eat more vegetables, and while I haven’t been as successful as I hoped, I definitely made some strides.

This year (drumroll, please) I am going to use fewer paper products around the house. That means fewer paper towels, napkins, and plates. Growing up, we used paper plates for pretty much everything except  dinner. The thought of using a real plate for an English muffin or a turkey sandwich seemed INSANE to me. We didn’t own cloth napkins (that I know of) and paper towels were always in abundance. No more!

On a trip to the outlets recently I bought an eight pack of these for $4:

Amazing! I use them to clean up spills on the counter and wipe my hands while I’m cooking. In the few months that we’ve owned them we’ve probably reduced our paper towel use by 70%. Now we only use paper towels for bathroom and biohazard (cleaning a toilet and cleaning up dog puke).

To cut down on paper plates, just use the salad plates that come with standard place settings; they are the perfect size for smaller meals and you can fit a million in the dishwasher. We have the Apilco from Williams Sonoma, but here are some other cute ones:

Williams Sonoma Apilco
Anthropologie's Birdwatcher's Plate
Emile Henry Urban Salad in Sky Blue
Mikasa Swirl White Plate

Finally, napkins. At first it felt a little strange using a fabric napkin with my grilled cheese, but I’m already used to it. Cloth napkins can be very inexpensive and washed a million times. When we’re not entertaining, we reuse them a few times before throwing them in the wash. If you want them to stay stain-free and newer looking longer, buy patterned napkins. They hide a multitude of sins. These are a few Crate and Barrel is now selling:

Marimekko Lepo pattern

Subtle and pretty

Ula Green pattern

Mod and funky

Cecilia Pattern

Fun for summer

While you may have to lay out a few bucks in the beginning, the money you’ll save on plates, towels and napkins is recouped almost immediately. Happy belated New Year!

Keurig – the Toyota of the coffee industry

In case you missed part one, here you go.

Ohhhh, where to begin. Since realizing that my second Keurig brewer keeps shutting off, I called Keurig no fewer than five times. Every time I was greeted with several automated messages that said, “We’re experiencing longer than usual wait times” blah blah blah. I would wait for five or ten minutes and then have to hang up because, well, I had crap to do!

Backtrack a few weeks: when Keurig sent me my second machine, the rep told me she would email me a shipping label so FedEx could pick up the first one. Six weeks later, no label. So yesterday I receive this email:

Despite our conversation, we no longer require your brewer back for analysis.  However, as proof that your brewer is no longer functioning, please return your K-Cup holder in a padded envelope and mail it to … Please return your K-Cup holder to Keurig as soon as possible for proof of ownership.

Are you freakin’ kidding me? I am supposed to go PURCHASE a padded envelope large enough for a K-Cup holder and then drive over to the post office and PAY to ship it back to you? Seriously? Not April’s fools?  Am I being punked? Ashton?

Well today I finally got through and achieved great success! (I hope) They actually acknowledged that many machines are defective and they are just sending out new ones rather than fixing the old ones. I also brought up the fact that I’m not paying to ship stuff back because their machines are screwed up (when did I get so ballsy???). Voila! Problem solved, don’t have to ship stuff back, should just throw them away. Whew.