Supermarket-themed television

So I’m constantly on the lookout for brainless television for when I am resting or folding the mountains of wash created by the two teenagers living in my home.

Now that I’m working in the warehouse at Stitch Fix, I need something to help me unwind.

And of course I love food and grocery shopping… it seemed natural that I would explore some of the supermarket-themed television programs available via streaming.

All are available on Hulu.

Shows will be rated on a scale of 1 to 5.

Supermarket sweep— I heard that this game show had a remake. I watched one episode and while the host (Leslie Jones) had her amusing moments, the show itself seemed cheesy in the wrong way. It just wasn’t entertaining.

👍👍

Supermarket stake out— This was a fabulous concept and out of these three programs, I enjoyed this one the most. The concept is original, challenging chefs to buy groceries from shoppers leaving the stores. In some challenges, they have to buy blind. Each episode is so similar though it’s not a show you can binge.

👍👍👍👍

Guy’s Grocery Games— Guy Fiore hosts this game show where challenges for chefs include skee balling for entree choices or trying to make a classic summer dish with ingredients like powdered doughnuts. Just to silly and ruins the full capabilities of the competitors.

👍👍👍

First Thanksgiving of the season

I have always harbored a certain resentment that holidays are defined as certain days, and since I worked retail for a decade, I adopted the attitude that holidays and celebrations happen when people gather not on a certain date or on the fourth Thursday in November.

My foster cat godmother gave us an 18-pound turkey and as I was a vegetarian for about eight years until my carnivorous daughter was born, I have never cooked a turkey. And it felt like this was the year to try.

I did some internet research and got the bird out of the fridge only to discover that my cheap refrigerator had frozen part of this damn turkey and even after soaking it in hot water we had a terrible time getting the neck from the chest cavity.

But luckily the teenager is stubborn like her mother and got the neck out, which looked and felt disturbingly phallic.

Teenager with a bird neck

I assembled the coleslaw by placing cabbage, radishes and carrots in my Ninja food processor. I made a honey mustard dressing.

I slathered the turkey with butter, purple pepper, smoked paprika, poultry seasoning and sage and placed it in the oven. I “basted” it every thirty minutes by recycling the juices from the drip pan and wiping them across inside the bird with a pastry brush.

Then I whipped up the corn bread and placed it in my neighbor’s oven while I assembled the green beans Caesar and the sweet potato crunch.

I didn’t have enough pecans so I put some mixed nuts in the Ninja and that made my nuts more like nut butter. That was the only real “fail” of the night. But I liked it.

I heated up some corn and made some butter-sage turkey gravy from scratch. Nan brought some cranberry sauce. And Darnell and Amber were kind enough to stop by and rescue me when it came time to carve my bird.

Teenager #1 made a deliriously good batch of homemade mashed potatoes.

I heated up some corn and the spaghetti squash I grew in my compost heap.

Jan stopped by with her ladyship Sobaka and we had three teenagers in the house. That felt good.

Wrestling with a turkey

I received an almost 18 pound turkey from my foster cat godmother— and Fog has already tried to get into the sink to eat the damn thing.

The neck is frozen inside the turkey because the back of my fridge is so cold. I have three items to bake in the oven— sweet potato casserole, corn bread and green beans Caesar— and they may not exist peacefully with the bird. So I have two neighbors on standby in case I need more oven space.

The theme of the dinner is “as close to a Thanksgiving meal I can make with the items in my kitchen.”

The menu:

  • Turkey and gravy
  • Homemade mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potato casserole or crunch, not sure yet
  • green beans caesar
  • Homemade coleslaw
  • Corn
  • Cornbread
  • Cranberry sauce

Still struggling with the neck of the turkey…

Frolicking Saturday

Today started with coffee and English muffins with my neighbor followed by a pedicure by my dear friend Beth at Hyperion Salon. Working in a warehouse walking 2,500 steps an hour (and that will increase), I need to take care of my feet.

Then I took the teens to the thrift store, where teenager #1 found three nice tops, teenager #2 found two very cute skirts, and I picked up several more pairs of comfortable pants for work.

We spent $30.

I let the teens use a coupon for a 99 cent coffee at Dunkin. Then we stopped at Wawa so we could fill the car with gas and I could redeem my reward from their loyalty app— a free 16 ounce handcrafted drink. I selected a cafe con lèche which is my favorite drink that Wawa offers.

I noticed while in there that Wawa now offers buttered rolls at the self serve coffee area and chocolate croissants. How very French breakfast of them. Their croissants look like overpriced toaster strudels but I will have to try them.

We came home and tried on our goodies. Once we determined everything fit, I started a load of washing.

I cuddled kittens, unraveled an entire spool of thread from the roomba’s mechanical system (thanks to cat mischief), found my missing glasses (yes, kittens), hid unwrapped Christmas presents and paid bills.

The teenagers and I are all cleaning in anticipation of tomorrow’s turkey dinner. The goal of the meal is to see how close to a traditional Thanksgiving as we can just using ingredients from around the house.

I keep a weekly dry erase calendar in the kitchen so everyone can keep track of household goings-on. Teenager #2 came to me and said, “Mom, the board says Taco Bell on Saturday.”

Indeed it did. Teenager #1 had heard a commercial for the toasted cheddar chalupa so I scheduled taco night.

The chalupa shell reminded me of the baked cheese on some Asiago bagels and rolls. I had the black bean one and I have to say I liked the vegetarian version better than their meat.

I didn’t realize this was blurry

The teens approved as did my daughter’s father who stopped by to take the kids to Target. Teenager #1 is in the middle of bleaching her hair.

Another day at the Bizzy Hizzy

It’s approaching 1 a.m. and I am amazed at how quickly I am adapting to going to bed around 1:15 a.m. and waking up around 8:45 a.m.

An hour ago I was placing my laptop into the cupboard, taking my last cart of fixes to the “garage” area and heading to the time clock.

I only walked 16,000 steps in the warehouse tonight but I hit the pre-direct pick picking goal of 128 fixes.

I am sitting in my bed with a gin-and-cucumber-positive-beverage-B12 cocktail. I have kittens surrounding me (the Norse Pride domestic long hairs) and Nala chattering and falling asleep on my knee—and I know my bird should be asleep right now but she wakes up when she hears me come home and she’ll be super angry with me tomorrow if I don’t give her a bedtime cuddle.

She just fell asleep — on my knee.

The scene looks something like this:

The swarming Norse Pride

Poor Fog is whimpering outside my door as he used to be the cat that slept with me until the teenager moved the Norse Pride (some of our foster kittens through Feline Urban Rescue and Rehab) into my room. He wants no part of those pesky furball kittens.

But he misses me now that I am working, and he pursues every opportunity he can to be with me.

Fog

Today involved some meetings, including the Lehigh Valley Regional Homelessness Advisory Board. I organized some paperwork and paid some bills as this week’s unemployment payment came.

I received EBT/SNAP (food stamps) for September, October and November so I’ve been combing every store possible for the best deals. Grocery Outlet and Lidl remain my standbys, but I find some good coupons at CVS. Today they sent me a coupon for a Starbucks Frappuccino from their ready-to-drink cooler for $1.49. I had $1 in Extra Bucks expiring today so I got the coffee beverage for 49 cents in food stamps.

Why does SNAP pay for candy and bottles of Frappuccino but there is no program to pay for bath soap, laundry supplies or toilet paper? One friend remarked that poor people must not be allowed to be clean.

So, now that I’m employed again these are issues I shouldn’t have to contemplate much longer.

And I suppose eventually StitchFix might ask me to stop blogging about them but I hope not— I’m a wholesome blogger with a long history in the public relations and journalism field.

But I’m so excited about hitting the 128 number and we had Thanksgiving dinner at work!

Little bit of everything

Since starting work full time, life has once again gone topsy turvy. I still enjoy working the 3:30 pm to midnight shift and my body is making the adjustment to staying up and sleeping later.

I finally received my unemployment from losing my job at ProJeCt of Easton in July, so I was able to use that money to pay off the medical bills that are still rolling in from my hospitalization in August.

At StitchFix, I have learned several different areas— picking, direct pick, women’s inbound, binning women’s apparel returns and binning women’s non apparel returns.

Honestly, binning non-apparel was the least exhausting and in its own way fun, but it killed my body as it involved a lot of being still, bending and sitting on a stool.

In picking, I did my first direct pick shift last night which gave me about 19,000 steps for the evening. I increased my numbers from 88 fixes picked to 116. Though the computer system was glitching a bit last night so that presented a few challenges. Direct pick means I don’t have to transfer the items to a box which eliminates more physical bending and stress.

Yesterday, my S1 joint was starting to seize and I couldn’t straighten up and walk five feet without crying. But in my distorted state, I fell into a box of canned cat food. After the fall, I stretched myself into child’s pose for 10-20 minutes until I could get up.

I made a cup of coffee so I could take some Tylenol (and added fish oil in a why-the-heck-not moment) and before the Tylenol could kick in, my body felt better. Was it the stretches or the fall, I do not know.

I had scheduled an emergency chiropractor appointment and she said I was moving well, but I was crooked. And she even did some work on the shoulder where I pulled that chest muscle.

Since then, I am achy in the chest, but even walking all those steps I feel great. Maybe I can do this.

Meanwhile, Loki and Fern got fixed. And Fern has an approved adoption application from my old supervisor at Target. So excited.

Adjustments

As I write this, it is Friday the 13th and after four months of no income, my unemployment has come through as I finish my first week as a warehouse associate at StitchFix. I also have three fluffy kittens on my lap and a Nala bird on my shoulder.

I’d like to find my pretty socks before I go to work tonight, where I will be working in inbound processing.

And I need to head down to the teenager’s room to visit the tuxedo kittens.

But let me tell you a little bit about life at the Bizzy Hizzy. The people are nice, and helpful. I had my first fall— I tripped over am empty pallet at the time clock. A colleague helped me up.

I’ve always enjoyed working second shift— because it allows me to start my day with what I want to do and then go to work and collapse in bed when I get home. No alarm clocks. No getting out of bed at 5 or earlier. Empty roads at night.

I don’t want to share too many specifics on the warehouse— or hizzy in StitchFix terms. We are the Bizzy Hizzy and our mascot is the busy bee.

Second shift at our warehouse is smaller than first so we tend to move into different jobs as needed. Tonight we will all be working on inbound processing as there is a lot of sweaters that need to make it onto the floor.

I don’t want to say too much and infringe upon any proprietary information, but I’ll give you a glimpse of my day.

We all clock in at 3:30 and as I typically work as a picker, my job is to run around the warehouse gathering the clothes the stylist has picked for each client. The best pickers hit the 180 fixes (or each client shipment) in a night.

The first night I picked 80 fixes. The second night I picked 88. Last night I picked 48, and then I went to inbound processing for half my shift.

The warehouse is filled with Z racks of clothes, each rack has five sections, and each row has at least 40 racks. The rows start at AA and then AB etc; then BA, BB, BC etc, through the alphabet. There is a break in the row every ten numbers. So it’s very orderly and the computer maps your path.

At 5:30, the entire population goes into the break room (maximum occupancy pre-Covid was 492) where there are free snacks and drinks. Snacks include yogurt, chips, cookies, Kraft Mac and cheese cups, oatmeal, cereal, hard boiled eggs, beef jerky, muffins, fruit, pop tarts, cup of noodles, trail mix, string cheese, pudding, etc.

At 7:30 everyone takes their 30-minute meal. At 10 pm we have our final break.

My last full shift as a picker I walked 17,000 steps. I’ve lost two pounds already.

There is a company store where everything is $5 or $10. I’d like some of those shoes, and I like the look of Judy Blue jeans. I would love to score some jumpsuits or a Karl Lagerfeld blouse.

My body is getting used to being active again.

And the animals swarm me when I get home.

As I zip through the warehouse I feel like PacMan.

Finding shoes and a new routine

So after my first day at StitchFix, I will be starting full time work tonight on the 3:30 to midnight shift.

As a consequence, I’m going to have to streamline and focus my routine. Today, I got up, fed my cats, made a cup of coffee and made a list of things to do.

With that out of the way, I started the dishwasher. I also gathered, sorted and started one load of wash (which I later hung on our heated drying rack and started another to hang outside.)

Next I focused on my room: primarily running the roomba, cleaning the bird cages, and giving fresh food and water to the birds and fosters. I also totally swapped out the litter box for The Norse Pride and spent a little time with everyone.

This included some bird and kitten play time: YouTube video of Loki and Nala

Now it’s 10 am and I’m hoping to have a croissant and some fruit salad before my neighbor and her dog, Sobaka, stop by.

We’re going on a leisurely cookie walk to test one of the three pairs of shoes I bought for my new job.

I tested the ASICS last night. They felt so light. I got a black pair. I’ve always wanted a black pair. I also bought some glittery boots that are more comfortable versions of Doc Martens. Now in the end, they still may require inserts.

But if I’m buying inserts maybe I could go get the actual Doc Martens I wanted.

Mortgage for now — more shoes later.

First Day at StitchFix: Bizzy Hizzy

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. to be at my local StitchFix warehouse— the Bizzy Hizzy—for my orientation as a warehouse associate.

I applied at StitchFix because many of my Target colleagues had gone there— including our former store manager who is now the head of one of their other facilities.

The state still hasn’t even looked at my unemployment claim that I opened in July, and despite having a bevy of interviews (non profits in the Lehigh Valley, N.J., and Washington, D.C.; development director for a public library in the Greater Philadelphia region; even a downtown manager), I needed an income other than the SNAP benefits (food stamps) I’ve received for September and October.

Well, I was considering applying at Wawa since the pay is above average for retail, it’s close to my home, and I’ve heard they have some good perks.

But if I have to go back to retail, I’d prefer not to deal with customers and something less labor intensive than food service would be nice.

So why not StitchFix? At least it’s fashion oriented. The walking (11-13 miles a day) will help me lose my extra 20 pounds. And by working on second shift, I will have my days more free to my volunteer commitments and other opportunities.

The benefits start day one and the high deductible medical plan is free for the employee, you must pay to add your family and you have options to have better coverage as well.

Free snacks and drinks in the break rooms.

Break rooms and bathrooms in multiple areas of the warehouse.

No dress code.

They call the warehouses by the name “Hizzy.” We are the Bizzy Hizzy.

But what blew me away was how the warehouse is organized— the clothes are on rows upon rows upon rows of Z racks. The clothes are lettered and numbered so it’s easier to keep track of where you are. Like finding a book on the shelves of a library.

I don’t want to say too much as I don’t know what would be considered a trade secret.

But I can tell you that I walked more than 1400 steps today.

Lessons I have learned about professional skin care

As my regular readers may know, I recently started helping a friend of a friend launch her social media marketing for her solopreneurship, woman-owned business, Lucha Bella Skin Care and Body Waxing.

I hesitate to call her a client, because I help her with her publicity and she gives me a facial once a month. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to learn more about skin care.

My interest in make-up and skin care came late in life and I think I was also a late bloomer when it came to developing my own sense of style. So to help Merri with her business is also a great way for me to grow and take better care of myself.

So, please please please if you are local to the Lehigh Valley consider checking out Lucha Bella, like the Facebook page, find Merri on Instagram at @luchabella_skincare and book online via http://www.luchabella.com.

I am by far no influencer, but I am a real person with a real life perspective so without further ado let me share with you what I have learned about getting a facial.

  1. It’s not just about your face. The Bella Facial at Lucha Bella involves the face, neck, shoulders, hands and arms.
  2. It’s a great stress reliever— the Bella Facial includes a variety of massage that leaves the upper body feeling loose and amazing.
  3. You esthetician can help you with your individual skin problems and work with you on how to not only look good but also maintain healthy skin.
  4. The attention and solace provides a mental rest and a sense of rejuvenation that matches the glow you will see in your skin.
  5. A Bella Facial includes waxing the chin, upper lip and eyebrows, so not only does losing the dead skin make you feel and look younger, but you don’t have to spend your time plucking. And professional products are less harsh on the skin, reducing redness and potential irritation.
  6. An esthetician has access to the latest industry products so you don’t have to waste your money on things you may not like or may forget to use.

The experience to me is about a place of peace, the fact that I come out with fresh skin and free of my physical tension is a bonus.

It’s a lovely reminder to slow down and be kind to yourself.

And for me it’s extra fun as I get to try adventurous new products like a collagen mask that dried like clay on my face. It went on super cold and thick like honey. My skin absorbed the collagen which made the mask warm and dried it out. Some of the pieces didn’t come off as nicely as Merri would have liked, but they made this amazing clinking sound as they hit each other.

It made my skin feel fresh and refreshed.