Completed Projects (05/25-06/07)

June 10th, 2020 Comments off

Reorganized the freezer and pantry. I am especially pleased with the freezer because I’ve wanted to make it easier to find and remove things forever but the narrow shelves made that next to impossible. Thanks to TikTok, though, I found the perfectly sized containers at none other than The Container Store.

Organized Freezer

Now I’m just working on finding the best labeling process for the bins. As you can see in the photo, I’m testing a few options.

Label Option 1 Label Option 2

For the bins with several items, I can’t see using a general label as much, as I want to know exactly what’s inside. For the bins that are all chicken or beef, though, I can use the new Dollar Tree sticky labels I found. I think I will use my label maker, however, so they look nicer since I don’t have the best penmanship.

Sorted through and categorized all our paper manuals so everything is easy to find.

Reorganized closet in the former rat room, now Joe’s office.

A month or so ago I used the Discover cash back to buy Groupon bucks and ordered a couple of cabinet shelves as well as a sink organizer. I hate the latter. It is so annoying!

Groupon Sink Organizer

I ended up boxing it up and plan to give it to my step-daughter if she wants it. I am now using this set up instead and prefer it because either way water collects at the bottom of any container I use and it’s easier to pour out of the pot vs. the organizer that has a piece that slides out if you don’t hold it the correct way.

Sink Organization

Plus I prefer the look of the planter better anyway. I would love for Savers to re-open so I could find another planter since I like using this one for fake flowers in the house.

I was cleaning the cold air return in the dining room one day when I realized that while, yes, it was dirty, the paint was also yellowed, so no matter how clean it was it still wouldn’t look like it. I bought a can of white spray paint and quickly remedied that issue. Now it looks brand new. Of course there’s no before photo because I always forget to take one!

The garage in general is more organized that ever, although we still have a lot of stuff. We did free up a couple of “under the bed” organizers that never actually fit under our bed, so were in the garage. I used two of them to store my fake flowers and one to hold party supplies. Because they are so lightweight I can store them at the top of the shelf by the door and not kill myself trying to get them down.

I went through my Cure memorabilia and put all the LPs in the special vinyl box I ordered from The Container Store.

Vinyl Storage

I went through the magazines and clippings and put them in clear plastic pockets in a binder, and moved the t-shirts and cassette tapes elsewhere, thus freeing up a storage tote I can use in the garage for other things. I also came across Cure posters, as well as other posters, in the garage.

Robert Smith Poster The Cure Poster

Yin Yang PosterGlow Poster

I took them out of the tubes they were in and combined them all in one very wide tube that I also put my Cure calendars in.

Cure Calendar (1993)

Cure Calendar (1995)

Cure Calendar (2009)

Because of all the organizing, we are now up to six large boxes in the garage waiting for Savers to open so we can donate them.

Pending Donations

If they don’t open soon we will either donate them to Goodwill or post them on a free site.

Categories: House & Home, Media, Music, Photos Tags:

Parks & Memorial Day Weekend

May 27th, 2020 Comments off

Saturday (05/23) morning we headed to Northside Park in Wheaton. We arrived early enough (7 am) that there were hardly any people there at all (it can get really crowded on nice days). I brought an actual camera (my Canon P&S) but I have to say, I think my iPhone 11 took better photos.

We spent about an hour walking around the park and made two full loops around. I would have liked to stay a little longer but one section of the loop had a crazy Red-winged Blackbird who kept trying to attack me. When I first spotted the bird, it was just hanging out on some tall grass a few feet away from the trail, but once it spotted us it started hovering above us, much like seagulls do when they’re looking to be fed. In fact, that’s what Joe assumed the bird was doing until it stated squawking and dive-bombing us. It only did it once to Joe but came at me multiple times. I could literally feel its wings on the top of my head which made me scream. I can only assume it was trying to protect a nearby nest.

We didn’t see it at first on our second loop around, and even though we made a point to veer to the far side of the trail away from where it was hanging out, it still tried to attack me. Not Joe, just me! I took that as a sign we should leave. Other than that, however, it was a really nice visit. The air was still cool out, there were plenty of beautiful birds, including barn swallows, out and about, and it was refreshing to get out of the house for something other than grocery pickup.

Saturday evening I was chatting online with my friend K and was showing her how pathetic my town’s parks page is. It doesn’t even render properly on a mobile device, and the only information it provides is the name of the park, address, and a link for directions which goes to Bing. Bing! Are you kidding me?

In contrast, Carol Stream’s parks page lists each park name, and when you click on it you get the address, a map, the park’s history, and a list of amenities. It irks me we pay so much in taxes and our town can’t put together a decent website. I said Carol Stream’s page looks like something Leslie Knope created and my town’s was done by Larry Gingrich. And if you don’t get that reference, you’re dead to me.

I commented on one of my town’s Facebook posts asking if there was somewhere I can go to see more information about their parks and no one bothered to answer. I mean, why would they? It’s no wonder there’s very little engagement from the public on anything they post to social media.

Also, also, a few weeks ago they posted a list of local restaurants in town they encouraged people to visit to help stimulate the local economy. This list was in NO type of order, alphabetical or otherwise, only listed an address but no phone numbers, and couldn’t be searched because it was a jpeg. For the love of god, someone hire me so I can save them from themselves. There’s no doubt there’s some overpaid lazy person responsible for doing the bare minimum. I only say this because I have to deal with the least friendly, slowest worker, every year when I go into the village hall to buy my parking stickers and pet registration. I dread it every time and was pretty excited to learn I could renew them online this year without a few. Too bad they didn’t send me the pet registration notice! On the plus side I was able to correct the errors in their database that I’ve only pointed out in past years for them to ignore. My last name was wrong and they had my car listed as a Cross Truck (its a Crosstrek). SMH

Sunday (05/24) we headed out early (7 am) once again, but this time to Armstrong Park in Carol Stream. This park isn’t quite as picturesque as Northside Park, but it does have a few ponds where different birds congregate, including a special island where a colony of purple martins live. The park was relatively empty so we could walk around the loop (only once, as it’s quite large) without worrying about getting too close to other people.

Monday (05/25) we woke up to rain so there weren’t any outings in store for us. Later in the day we grilled some ribs we grabbed at Costco the week prior and were thoroughly disappointed.

We’ve had and loved them in the past, and from my quick research they are exactly the same ones they’ve always sold, so I can’t understand why they sucked so much. They weren’t nearly as flavorful, or as tender, as they were before. Needless to say we won’t be getting them again. What sucks is they were only sold in 2-slab packs so there’s more in the freezer that I have no desire to make now. Maybe they’d come out better in the crockpot? I honestly don’t know.

Categories: Animals, Holidays, Neighborhood Tags:

Adventures in Shopping

May 19th, 2020 Comments off

The other day I went to put on my sneakers and something was poking the back of my ankle. Apparently the plastic along the back of the inside of my shoe had broken. Joe used one of his tools to snap enough of the broken piece off so it wouldn’t poke my foot, but I decided it was time to replace the shoes. I just checked now, and it turns out the shoes were purchased in January of 2017 so they had a long life.

I like black sneakers since they tend to go with most of my outfits, so I went to Kohl’s website to look for new ones. They were having a nice sale on my favorite sweartshirts of all time – Tek Gear Fleece Crewneck, which I discovered at Savers a couple of years ago. Sadly Savers is still closed right now so I can’t get them for under $5 but they were only $8 at Kohl’s (normally $20) so I excitedly ordered quite a few. Once all was said and done, even with the sales and coupon codes I found online, my total was around $150. I ordered eight sweatshirts and two pairs of shoes. Two of the sweatshirts were only available via curbside pickup and the rest were slated to be shipped to the house.

Mere hours after placing my order I was notified that two of the sweatshirts were cancelled because they were out of stock. The next day two more were cancelled. One from the pickup portion of the order was ready so we went and got that, but I waited until the rest of my order was shipped to try anything on. Oh, and by the time they shipped some more were cancelled, so in the end I got two of the eight sweatshirts I ordered, and both pairs of shoes.

On top of that, even though the sweartshirt I picked up, and the one that was shipped to me, are the exact same style and size, one fits better than the other, so I have to return one. I ordered a pair of Filas again since they were under $30, and a pair of New Balance because they were cute even though they are nearly twice as much. Interestingly enough, the Filas are way more comfortable even if they aren’t as cute, so the New Balance pair will be returned. I did pretty good guessing the proper size at least! It seems I fit into anywhere from a 7 up to an 8 and a half depending on the brand (I ordered a size 8 in both).

So – ordered ten items, only received four, and am only keeping two. Not great odds. I have to say, the experience has soured me on ordering from Kohl’s again. Perhaps this is some weird one-off, but I fail to understand how Kohl’s inventory system works where they will allow me to order items that really aren’t in stock. Isn’t me placing the order in essence reserving the item? I guess not. Super annoying!

I’ve recently become addicted to the app Tik Tok. There are so many interesting people on there! They also inspire me to step up my organization game (even though I’ve gotten next level on it lately). I ended up ordering over $100 worth of items at The Container Store on Sunday, but the best part is I only spent $9 out of pocket thanks to the digital gift cards I used as part of Discover’s cashback rewards program. I used $90 worth of rewards to get $100 and we still have over $200 of rewards waiting to be used. Looking forward to getting my items and writing more about those in a future entry.

Categories: Shopping Tags:

Adventures In Grocery Shopping

May 18th, 2020 Comments off

We’ve been having some interesting experiences with grocery pickups/delivery since this pandemic started.

We tend to alternate between Meijer and Mariano’s because of reasons that will become apparent shortly.

Meijer – Pros

– Meijer’s orders are handled by Shipt and their employees have been nothing short of awesome. They communicate very clearly, are friendly and efficient, and deserve every cent of the tip we give them. They let you know when they are shopping and text updates as they go.
– Once your order is complete you can see what you originally ordered vs what you actually were charged for.
– Everything is paid for online and you can rate and tip your shopper after picking up your order.
– The prices you pay are the actual store prices (at least from what I can tell, although we don’t get a Meijer receipt so I could be wrong about that).

Meijer – Cons

– The produce at Meijer isn’t the best quality.
– There’s a $5 pickup fee.
– If you’re not careful when editing your order, you might run into issues where items you thought were deleted from your cart are still there and items you thought were added are not.
– Sometimes the groceries are ready before/after your selected pickup time. The shopper can’t store them in a cooler so you have to be flexible about when you can get to the store.

Mariano’s Pros

– Their produce is very fresh/good.
– They keep waiving the $5 pickup fee.
– Even when they pick your order early (which they have done every time, by a few hours), they store it in coolers/freezers so nothing goes bad.

Mariano’s Cons

– They only tell you about substitutions after shopping your entire order.
– Mariano’s can’t text you so they call (if they call at all – we didn’t hear a thing on our very first order until it was time to pick up our groceries).
– They aren’t as conscientious as the Shipt people. Our last order included a bagged salad where most of the lettuce was already brown. It hadn’t yet reached expiration but I could see the rotten food even before opening the bag so they should have noticed it too. An order prior I asked for two cans of golden mushroom soup but I got one golden and one called beefy. Since it’s for a recipe I don’t want to mess with using something different that could affect the outcome.
– You have to pay to pay at your car and they don’t accept tips because everything is handled by their own employees. Also the person who brings out the groceries isn’t the one who shopped your order.
– Your original order is obliterated once they have fulfilled it so if you want to keep track of what was ordered vs what you got you need to PDF the order page ahead of time.

Last week we decided to try Target grocery delivery which is also handled by Shipt but through the Target website so we could pay with our Red Card (fun fact: Shipt is owned by Target). Our shopper was great, but for whatever reason we were charged $10 for delivery even though it showed as $0 as I was building the cart and even after placing the order. In fact, I checked the order during the time it was being shopped and it still said $0. I assumed it could see me logged into my Shipt account, or that they waive the delivery fee on the first order, so imagine my surprise when I got an email after the delivery showing we were charged $10. Frustrating! Equally frustrating was that when I called the wait time was over an hour. I ended up sending a message via their website. I will call again later this week if I don’t hear anything by then.

Update: I never heard back from Shipt so I called them and the woman was less than helpful. My friend suggested using the chat feature on the Target website so I did that and they agreed to refund me. I got half back to my Redcard and the other half back as a gift card, which I found strange, but whatever. I’m just happy they refunded me and now I know not to believe the site if it says the delivery is free.

I really cannot wait until this pandemic is over and I can shop for my own groceries again. In addition to the little errors the shoppers make, I myself keep making mistakes I wouldn’t make if I was at the store. I accidentally ordered chunky peanut butter instead of creamy and I ordered a really small tube of cinnamon rolls. Nothing earth-shattering, clearly, but just annoying.

Also, I really enjoy shopping for food. I just don’t feel comfortable with the potential exposure right now, although we are planning a trip to Costco later this week. I hope it goes ok. We drove past it today and they don’t seem to be limiting how many guests go inside anymore. I need to check their website to see what the latest protocol is.

Also also, we had to stop by the UPS Store today to process a handful of Amazon returns and while the employee was technically wearing a mask it does little good when it’s just hanging around their neck. The customer in front of us only had his mask over his mouth but not his nose. Now, I get they are super uncomfortable, but they are also useless if you’re not going to wear them the right way. /rant

Categories: Shopping Tags:

Good Deeds

May 18th, 2020 Comments off

After spending way too much time feeling like I wanted to die, just feeling a little better has made me so grateful and wanting to give back. These are the things I’ve done recently to try and be a good citizen. And yes, it does feel good, which makes the good deed not completely altruistic, but who cares?

Awhile ago I signed up with Be My Eyes which is an app blind people use to request help. Volunteers are sent a message when someone needs assistance and the first one to respond is connected to the blind person’s phone so they can be their eyes. I finally got a chance to help out a few weeks ago when I answered a call from a woman wanting to check whether her rice cooker was on.

While walking Wookie one day I spotted a pair of purple glasses in the grass near a bank of mailboxes in our neighborhood. They blended in quite well, and if not for keeping an eye on the ground like I do now, I wouldn’t have even noticed them. I didn’t touch them, assuming the person who dropped them would come back to that location looking for them. However, the next day they were still there, so I put them on top of the mailboxes and posted a message on Nextdoor in the hopes it would be seen by the right person. Luckily it was, because I received a reply not too long after thanking me. Apparently the glasses belonged to a neighbor’s daughter and were lost on a walk a week prior. Since they don’t live on the block where they were found they had no idea where to even look. I know from personal experience how expensive glasses are, so I’m glad they were able to get them back (luckily no one stepped on them). I wonder if the girl had to go without seeing clearly that entire week or if they bought a new pair. I guess at the very least they have a backup pair now.

We made a monetary donation to Feeding America after the Parks & Recreation special aired (which was really good all things considering).

We dropped off a full bag of unopened dog food at a local rescue’s donation area. Long story short, it was expiring in July which is before Wookie would be able to eat it all, but instead of shipping it back to Chewy they said to keep it. We bought a new bag with a better expiration date for Wookie so we donated the other bag.

I shipped a care package to my friend K weeks ago which included a toy for her dog and Idiocracy on DVD. (Side note: doesn’t it seem like it’s a prediction of our future?) Yesterday, Joe and I took a drive and dropped off a box of stuff for her by her door. Inside I had gift-wrapped our old copy of The Wedding Singer on DVD (since we now have it on Bluray) and some copied movies (shhh don’t tell on me) she had been talking about wanting to watch. I also gave her a container of Clorox wipes since she was running out, some homemade dog treats, some homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies I made on Saturday, and some dog toys Wookie no longer plays with. (Not everything is pictured below since I thought of the dog treats and toys right before packing up the box).

She was over the moon happy with the surprise and said it made her day, and that in turn made MY day. I know it shouldn’t matter, but I really love it when someone shows appreciation for something thoughtful I’ve done. Plus, it definitely makes it more likely I will do it again. My family (Joe excluded) doesn’t seem to get this and doesn’t really show enthusiasm for stuff so I feel let down. I love that my friend was so excited. If someone did that for me I know *I* would be thrilled too.

Categories: Friends, Life, Neighborhood Tags: