CVS magic

I am not an “extreme couponer” and I hate the whole concept of “extreme couponing.” Life experience has taught me to be frugal, but *living* life has taught me that reading 5 newspapers to get a few extra bottles of Tide raises the question of how much is my time and my happiness worth?

When stores first starting using loyalty cards, I hated the concept. I still hate cards. But customer loyalty apps are different. I already have my phone. These apps also allow me to shop and plan my shopping trips. Target Circle, like many others, combines their coupons, payment options (even when in the store), circulars, and stock all in one place. I can scan items to see if there’s a deal while in the store and, of course, they customize offers to cater to my shopping habits.

The Lidl app allows me to make a shopping list (as does Target but I like Lidl’s list organization system better) and rewards me based on how much money I spend. Last month I earned a 30% off sliced cheese coupon! So I bought extra cheese. We might be living on toasted cheese sandwiches with my upcoming job loss.

I sign up for the emails and while a lot of them get annoying, some of them alert me to major deals on my household staples.

And that is what happened with CVS. They sent me a coupon for the gallon bottle of Arizona iced tea for $1.66 cents. The teenager has a weakness for Arizona iced tea so I let her buy some as an occasional treat.

I texted her the offer, and asked her if she wanted to walk to CVS to redeem it. She declined.

CVS sent a 40% off one item coupon. I loaded it to my card because you never know when you’ll end up in CVS for a health emergency.

The teenager also loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch and had a craving for Honey Nut Cheerios. Now I view cereal as an occasional emergency snack, not as breakfast. But the teen is a convert to the cereal-to-start-the-day camp.

Now I know CVS regularly has regular cereal sales.

Yesterday they sent me a coupon. “One day only! General Mills Cereal! $1.99!”

And the photo featured Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Honey Nut Cheerios.

I texted the teenager.

She came downstairs. When I told her that I would buy both cereals, she volunteered to walk to CVS. I handed her my debit card. She refused it. “Mom, it’s $4.”

I asked her if there was anything else she needed. She said no, but she might buy iced tea. I thought, “drats. We missed that iced tea offer.” I told her she could use the 40% off coupon if the iced tea was full price.

She came home with the gallon of iced tea, the two boxes of cereal, and a bag of Doritos. I asked her how much she spent.

“$7,” she said, “but that doesn’t make sense. This is $14 worth of stuff. At least.”

Apparently I also had a snacks/drink coupon I forgot about that also saved us 85 cents.

So we talked about it, and I asked her if she was starting to get my system. She said no. Not at all.

As far as she understood, she merely said she wanted to go to CVS, I looked at the app and put coupons on, she randomly grabbed what she wanted, and told the clerk at the register to use all the coupons.

Magic.

The mundane realities: some fitness babble and praise for the Grocery Outlet

So, after such an action packed four days yesterday seemed no only boring but exhausting. This post will be on the rather ordinary side but I think it may set the tone for adventures to come.

The teenager and I have been pretty consistent with our attempts to join the spiritual walks and reflections championed by our friends celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

Tonight we took a 5,000 step walk in the gentle but steady summer rain, walking the neighbor’s dog.

I loved the colors on this

The teenager and I discussed fitness goals as she needs to lose weight and I need to reclaim my previous fitness levels so I stop falling down. The two goals compliment each other well as we both need exercise, good food and hopefully some weight training. I love a good weight training session. If I had more discipline I would be a body builder.

I typically handle public relations and social media for the non-profit agency where I work and today one of my favorite grocery stores gave us a donation— Grocery Outlet! I love Grocery Outlet so much they have their own tag here on my blog. Check it out!!!

So I know I’m jumping all over the place but before I tell you about the donation I need to tell you what we had for supper because some of it coincidentally came from the Grocery Outlet.

Tonight’s meal featured:

  • Thin pork chops from the Grocery Outlet topped with my homemade sweet apple glaze
  • Canned peaches (cooked in the sauce with the pork)
  • Riced broccoli, cauliflower and carrots from the freezer section at Grocery Outlet
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Sesame sticks (from the Carmelcorn Shop in downtown Easton)

So delicious.

This morning— I put on my pandemic finest and headed to The Grocery Outlet for the donation.

There I met owner Josh Bartholomew and met up with the rest of our team who were loading the truck.

It has been about 13 hours since I made the Facebook post and it’s been viewed more than 2500 times— it was fun to see that number climb all day.

Finally, in case you don’t care about food like I do; here is a cat photo of our Oz.

Friday Fluidity

So, I emailed Chewy about the bird seed explosion in my package and they are mailing me a replacement. See today’s earlier entry for details. (Cockatoo Mischief)

The teenager and I had made special plans as she just turned 16 years old and she was excited to donate blood.

My pulse clocked in at 102, and the cut-off to donate is 100. So I was disqualified.

Then they couldn’t find a vein on the teenager.

We were both very disappointed.

And, as the final culinary stop of her birthday tour, she asked for KFC.

And then we went to Into the Myst in downtown Bethlehem, where the teenager stocked up on her incense and is seriously debating a silver pentacle pendant adorned with amethyst. I think it would be a good protection amulet for her.

Then for dinner we visited our favorite familia—and on the way to their house the teenager and I discussed our ideas about what happens after death.

Our favorite familia features my charming writer friend with her Judeo-Catholic French-Celtic California roots and her also charming Puerto Rican husband and their crazy animals and now 90% adult children who have grown into impressively beautiful adults with wicked intellects.

Over grilled chicken and various types of potatoes, diverse conversation on employment, dog training, travels, the NSA, Sartre, customizing shoes, Russian Blue Cats, Russia, philosophy… flowed effortlessly with sprinkles of laughter.

The teenager remarked that she always admires how we don’t catch up with them for years, but the energy always feels like we’re best friends.

And they have a big dog.

And then we had cake and coffee.

Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community ProJeCt 2020

On Saturday morning, the teenager and I went down to Easton cemetery to support the Palmer Kiwanis team as they participated in the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community to support my employer, ProJeCt of Easton.

For more on that adventure, click here: Cruising the Cemetary with the Palmer Kiwanis

Today, I took a slightly elongated lunch break to take my team to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail. We started at the Silk Mill.

Me and My Team
Me, Buddy Eddy (dog of Team Member Sarah), the teenager and my good friend Gayle who writes a blog Fat Girl Walking

We headed down the trail and enjoyed the various art, the breezy trail, and the picturesque creek —all on the way to the dog park.

And then to end the outing, we let Buddy play and we got ice cream at Ow Wow Cow.

To register a team or donate to my team: Highmark Walk

For Gayle’s blog entry visit: Fat Girl Walking

Our previous visit to the arts trail: A walk on the Arts Trail

As the teenager finishes her sixteenth year…

The teenager was born at 1:34 a.m. on June 23, 2004. I was induced on Monday the 22nd. I remember it as a Monday because of the disappointment I felt as the clock struck midnight…

Why? you ask…

Well, Tuesday’s child is full of woe.

The French day, “I have XX years,” vs. “I am XX.” I am pondering that today because it really is more accurate.

When the teenager wakes up in the morning, she will have finished 16 years on this earth.

Doing silly things like this: Her cake topper (YouTube videos)

Her birthday started this weekend with a scavenger hunt at her dad’s and his homemade peanut butter bars. He invited me over to share in their celebration.

Today she spent the day with my father riding his Harley through the Pocono Mountains, eating pancakes and buying coffee from convenience stores.

And my mother-in-law asked what she wanted for her birthday. The teenager asked for a meatloaf.

Birthday Meatloaf

Well, if your in-laws are bringing a meatloaf, they might as well stay for dinner. And if the in-laws are here, you might as well invite the estranged husband.

And I had some “presents” for her. Unbeknownst to her, a bunch of her packages came today while she was gone.

Among the goodies: most of her Dress Lily order, her June Universal Yums box, and her “low brass witch” customized color-changing tumbler purchased to support my former Target colleague as her family dealt with Covid-related unemployment while their middle child (age six) is battling Leukemia.

More on all of these things another day, as I had a business meeting at eight p.m. and I took a long walk in today’s heat with Nala on my shoulder. She did well,

The generic weekly update in the midst of (much needed) George Floyd inspired social unrest and dialogue

It is 8:30 a.m.

Saturday morning.

The house remains still and peaceful except for the whir of fans and the occasional vocalization of a kitten, probably Misty (Mistofelees) looking for his brother, Fog. He’s distraught because I almost closed his tail in the door.

Several times today I have paused and interrupted my normal routine— to text a friend, have a Twitter conversation, drink coffee on the couch instead of in my bedroom with Nala, my Goffin’s cockatoo.

One voice in the back of my head says, “You slept in, so now you’re an hour behind. You need to start that laundry and get it on the line, and that includes stripping your bed, and probably the cover on your weighted blanket. Just about every floor in the house needs to be washed with Pine Sol too. And the teenager never cleaned the cat boxes yesterday like you asked her to.”

Man, it’s exhausting just listening to that voice.

And already this morning I managed to stab myself.

I have this very basic practical set of Chicago Cutlery knives that for the first 20 years I never put in the dishwasher. Somehow, in the last day or two since I did my traditional hand wash dishes, every knife from that set is dirty. Six steak knives, the mini cleaver, the paring knife, the tomato knife, the kitchen scissors, all of them.

And last night, after a long work week where I never quite knew if I would ever receive the respect I deserve in the midst of some major ordeals, I just threw every knife in the silverware basket. Point up. The way every home ec and kitchen safety teacher tells you never to do.

I even looked in the dishwasher and chastised myself and said I should stop being super lazy and reload the top shelf so I could at least use that plastic flap that holds the knives.

But I didn’t.

Because this week brought me to new places. Another grant came back with with the largest award we ever received from that funder. Our Pennsylvania county finally went yellow. The primary happened.

But just like at work where I often feel like my voice is not heard and my experience and work style is not respected nor appreciated for what I can contribute, everything seems to stay the same.

George Floyd is still dead.

The two party system defends only the elite and anyone outside of that elite will always be marginalized.

So I slammed my dishwasher door and ran it not only with my “good” knives inside but also with them point side up.

And somehow, when reaching for a clean coffee mug that I never put on the bottom shelf but I did this time, I gave myself a superficial stab wound in the middle of my palm.

Probably because I was distracted by a long list of housework and not staying present in the moment.

This is not how people should live.

I gaze out the front window (oh, damn, I need to trim the roses too). The birds chatter and chirp outside oblivious to how humans destroy each other and our shared habitat.

But Space X Dragon launched successfully. So we have reached phase 1 of our transition into the society we glimpsed in Wall*e.

Which coincidentally was the first movie the teenager ever saw in a theater. I believe she was 4, and I recollect that it was somewhere around this time (must google). She wore a cute dress. We saw the movie at Bethlehem’s Boyd Theater. I didn’t want her first movie to be in a modern boring theater.

She was transfixed.

So now it’s 9 a.m. and I think back to my transformative experiences this week.

  • I lost 4 pounds in the last day. (Amazing what happens when you resume drinking water, eating fruit instead of candy and chips, and stop eating half a pizza every four days.)
  • I started baby steps toward making my body work effectively again.
  • I filled out a self evaluation form at work, which I think fairly depicts my successes and my struggles. I was trying to be honest and transparent but I feel I will be viewed as scathing.
  • I had a good visit with my doctor, noting that my blood pressure is going down.
  • In conjunction with those previous two bullets, I video chatted with my therapist who specializes in work stress and it was an intense appointment. I was drained for the rest of the day and ate nothing but a handful of cashews until 5 p.m. That was my most recent bout of binging half a pizza and Little Caesar’s stuffed crazy bread. Which was a disappointment. Stuffed crazy bread tastes nothing like real crazy bread and the cheese inside was weird. The bread itself was soggy. The outside tasted like a soggy Olive Garden breadstick without the addictive outer coating and the inside was overloaded with a heavy but tasteless mozzarella.
  • I didn’t vote in the primary. I always vote. But I researched all the candidates and in the races where I wanted a voice there was no opposition. It bothers me deeply that I did not vote.

And George Floyd.

And the struggles of every “minority,” every person labeled for their skin color, their body shape or function, their religion, their choice of dress, their economic status, their sexuality, their gender, their resistance to be the status quo, their inability to be the same, the non-conformists, the thinkers, the doers.

George Floyd is dead.

Unwinding (vacation day 4, grilling day 2)

I woke today with no clear idea of what I wanted to achieve today except that I promised my teenager that we could go to Lidl and get supplies to grill again.

I even called my blind friend Nan (who’s now on twitter and just published a NASA poem as a tweet) and got her shopping list.

  • Macaroni salad
  • Peanut butter cookies
  • Riced cauliflower
  • Ice cream

I got up and fed the menagerie. One quietly sad little leftover tidbit of having formerly feral kittens is that sometimes they really do eat anything.

Fog, who was on his own a month longer than his brother Misty (Mistofelees), tends to eat the cockatoo’s kibble.

But I do feed them— as I grind my whole bean espresso blend and feed it into my little espresso machine.

This morning I started laundry, washed the bathroom floor and reassembled it now that it’s been thoroughly scrubbed. I had my last birthday cupcake for breakfast.

I saw a got the last of my anticipated packages, a shirt and necklace from Doll’s Kill. (Unboxing here: My last birthday package.)

I also got two pairs of slacks and a purple tunic from White House Black Market. I thought the necklace would look amazing with the tunic. (Another unboxing here: New Pants)

My Goffin’s cockatoo, Nala, had her morning talking session and woke the teenager up at 11 a.m.

The teenager and I went to Lidl and the Dollar Tree. Our finds at Lidl included super cheap scrapple and super cheap hot dogs and super cheap maple breakfast sausages. We got two bags of instant light charcoal. Dill pickle pita chips. Some varieties of veggie burgers. Provolone because it was on sale and the teenager adores provolone. The teenager even got break and bake chocolate chip cookies to make in her father’s new toaster oven. (His apartment does not have a stove/oven.)

At the Dollar Tree, I got tuna. A vase because for the life of me I can’t find the one I made in college that I use to display my roses. Frozen appetizers. A can of corn so we can make my mother-in-law’s corn bake. A can of Chef Boyardee Beef Ravioli because it might be the second time the teenager ever had it. Some grill utensils. Matches. And Ajax. Because the teenager wanted Comet for cleaning but the Dollar Store only had Ajax. And instant decaf coffee. Because Lidl didn’t have any decaf coffee and I need to detox.

Nala got really hot this afternoon and started swimming in her water bowl.

The teenager started the grill again. This time we were more determined than ever to succeed. Read about last night’s attempt here: Yesterday’s BBQ

We even invited her dad for dinner. And do you know what? Those cheap hot dogs were really good.

And I had a library board meeting at 7 p.m., so I poured a Diet Coke and mango nectar.

I can feel my tension fade away and it feels delightful. I ate well today, though I’m hungry now. I even had a ton of fruit. A serving of cantaloupe. An apple made in the grill like at Girl Scout camp. And probably 8 pieces of watermelon.

A Daffy Charcoal BBQ

There are often silver linings to difficult situations, and that is true even when marriages end. Once upon a time, my husband and I were the couple that everyone thought would last forever and that expectation— and the shock I often see when I say we’ve split up after 20 years—makes the separation hard.

I still know everything I once loved about my husband, the teenager’s father, my first love. And I will always cherish those memories and I will miss those feelings we once had for each other. As I’m sure he has similar nostalgia and good-heartedness.

It was he who told me no matter what happened we would always be family.

And we will.

But there are some parts of this process that are uplifting. New beginnings. New traditions. No more compromising.

Ending family curses.

I mean that. You see, my household had a curse that involved grilling.

You see, every day time we tried to grill, it rained.

Today, I decided to grill. We have a couple of portable charcoal grills. I even sprung for the instant/match light charcoal.

But I decided to keep it vegetarian.

That way if I didn’t get everything cooked properly I didn’t have to worry about the internal temperature of meat.

And since I paid for about ten years of Girl Scout summer camp for the teenager, she should be able to cook on a fire.

So first I weeded the yard and cleaned up the grill.

Got the hose and some Brillo pads.

And the teenager reassembled the grill (and we lost some nuts and bolts— oops). I wrapped a sweet potato in some foil to toss in the coals and also some apples.

I put carrots and fingerling potatoes in the basket.

And I planned on making some chickpea Bubba vegetarian burgers once the grill got good and hot. Sadly, the burgers were freezer-burned beyond a level that could be salvaged.

So the teenager got some chip steak and I put it on my cast iron griddle.

Now if you note in the photos that there are two grills, that’s because once my grill fell apart, we transferred the hot charcoal into the other grill.

But hey— at least it wasn’t raining.

To make matters interesting, the sweet potato was half-cooked. The teenager thought the potatoes and carrots too crunchy and charred. And the chip steak overcooked. But it was a meal we laughed a lot over and we didn’t starve.

The teenager used my small cast iron pot to make tea on the grill, which she will tell you was the best part of the meal. I got a little ice cream so our hot apples could go in it.

When the teenager would come home from Girl Scout camp, she would talk about sugared apples on the fire. I thought I’d surprise her and recreate a beloved summer childhood memory.

Except I didn’t know to core the apple. Obvious now. And we forgot to turn them so they were only hot on one side.

I really had a lovely evening barbecuing with the teenager at the helm of the fire, but sometimes I think my family life might be the script for the next movie in the National Lampoon franchise.

Nothing Just Happens

My daughter and I have developed a fascination with The Attic Clothes in Bethlehem as they have been hosting online sales on Instagram and Facebook.

We’ve been supporting small local business and indulging in one of the great teen girl sports of all time— consignment store shopping.

I’m going to switch up the chronology of this piece since right now the teenager, my blind friend, Nan, and I are among several other cars in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot.

Troublemakers

This experience can be summed up as— as my daughter put it— Nothing Just Happens.

So, Nan, being blind and a little strange, decided to wear her mask over her eyes.

We invited her along to pick up our consignment items. We stopped at the teenager’s grandmother’s to drop off a stepladder we borrowed. And her grandfather bought her the new Cats movie on DVD, like seeing it three times in the theatre wasn’t enough.

We had promised to take Nan for a car ride and stop at Dunkin for coffee and snackin’ bacon. And we all shared a matcha since Nan had never had any.

It was starting to look like the perfect day for the teen.

Until she discovered I messed up her coffee and she didn’t like it. So we went through the drive through a second time. This time we were going to order Munchkins too!

The teen wanted the 50 count bucket that looked like it came out of Kentucky Fried Chicken. But since we’re all gaining weight— the only way we were getting 50 munchkins is if Nan were taking 45 of them home to share with all her neighbors.

But they said they were out of munchkins. And they were paid for. So I told the poor guy to throw anything in the bag. He asked if I would accept a donut or two. I said sure. I think he was uneasy that I made him choose but he gave us a chocolate cake donut, which Nan and I split, and a chocolate iced donut with sprinkles which we gave to the teen.

That and her blue raspberry coolatta will have her high as a kite by the time we get home.

We were cleaning the garage earlier and removed about 150 gallons of garbage— she’ll have the energy to go home and finish the job, hoisting furniture over her head like a she-hulk.

So while the teen is trying on clothes in the backseat (skills learned in marching band), quasi-modeling her purchases, there are people wondering what the hell is up with us.

And Nan says it makes me look like the normal one.

Now that is scary.

Realities of lemons and tandem bikes

Yes, I know the title is nonsense— but the world has turned a tad upside down as the world tends to do as having billions of people and billions of animals on a planet will erupt into some unexpected situations from time to time.

The teenager loves to eat lemons. I love to cook with lemons. For a while, especially when I first discovered Gaz Oakley the Avant Garde Vegan (Check him out on YouTube—amazing falafel, his own recipe for peri-peri sauce) I always kept fresh lemons in the house.

That was also about the time I would have lemon water first thing in the morning. The juice of half a lemon with tap water.

I did that again this morning. First time in probably a year. Or more.

Today was also the first time in a week I haven’t gained weight. The first month of this pandemic, I was eating better but stopped because… Easter… or so I claim. I am a jelly bean addict and once I start eating the jelly beans I launch onto a sugar and caffeine roller coaster.

This was breakfast. Not ALL of them.

So maybe this post should be called “bad habits.” I originally lost about 5 pounds due to stress in the beginning of the pandemic, but between beer, pizza, Easter candy, homemade cookies and triple jalapeño bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s they have found their way back.

But look— I got a salad

It’s been rough. More pressure than ever at work. A good friend walked away coldly without even saying goodbye. A work colleague who often made me smile left unexpectedly. Medical bills still coming in.

But in the end, I still feel inside these struggles help us grow and bring us to the next level— as another work colleague likes to say— we don’t age, we gain experience like in a video game. So I’m less than a month away from my 45th Level with the teenager two months away from Level 16 and a drivers license.

Designated Driver AND babysitter, mom friends out there!!!!

Yesterday was a sunny day amidst a forecast of rain. Last week the teenager did not complete her three weekly gym assignments and she told her teacher in her log that she “got lazy” and he wrote back that sometimes he gets lazy, too. This is a great lesson for our (older) kids in communication and work ethic. Those of you with younger kids, God Bless You and Keep You.

I would be screaming every day if the teenager were, say, six. Our brains are wired too differently.

But back to gym. We got out the tandem bike. (Yes, we have a bicycle built for two— it was a gift.) I wanted the teen to “win” gym this week. And she should get extra credit for captaining a bike with her mom, who has cerebral palsy and no real balance skills.

Then her dad came over and brought his famous hot buffalo chicken dip for dinner, at the teen’s request, and included beer for us grown-ups. And he even got on the bike! (He doesn’t ride bikes.)

I excused myself to work on some more chapters of Bill’s novel Debauchery (and reached the first sex scene— those characters are so in love it hurts). Please don’t be scared by the violence and BDSM in this novel/series. The real theme here is the beauty of acceptance no matter who you are.

And the first of several pet related packages came. So here is a Petco unboxing and some animal videos:

Petco unboxing
Nala eating pretzels with the teen

Let’s see what adventures today brings! Stay well, friends! Let’s crush this day!