Tag Archives: shopping

Math Is Important, Because….Toilet Paper

25 Aug

Shopping for toilet paper is confusing these days.

These days, there’s nothing I like less than having to go to the toilet paper aisle at the grocery store. I love grocery shopping and I’m a user of toilets, so replenishing the toilet paper stocks shouldn’t be such a problem.

Yet, it is.

That’s because every brand of toilet paper wants to create the illusion that you can get a deal. Why buy a regular-sized roll when you can buy 2x rolls? Why settle for twice the toilet paper, with you can get a megaroll 4-in-1?

Invariably, I spend far too much time examining the total length and calculating price per roll or price per sheet (and it’s rarely the breakdown per unit that the store gives you on the shelf price tag). Then I have to figure out whether a megaroll will actually fit on my toilet paper holder. Then I have to consider how much storage space we have at the moment and whether it will hold 24 super gigantic rolls, or if I should go with 16 quadruple jumbo rolls (we do not have warehouse-club-sized storage at home). Or maybe just a four-pack double roll is all we can get on that trip. There are calculus problems that are simpler than this kind of math.

The choice is paralyzing and anxiety-inducing — and it’s weird because having some choice is good. I like having different flavors to choose from. I appreciate finding low-sodium options or lactose-free options or new brands. But toilet paper doesn’t have that same excitement–or maybe it’s because their sizing just doesn’t make sense. It’s not small/medium/large; it’s 12 rolls = 24/6 rolls = 24 rolls, etc.

What you never see? A roll.

[There are also no triple rolls, which makes me even more suspicious–and sad, because a triple rolls, I think, would really be the sweet spot for having fewer rolls and being the optimal size for my toilet paper holder.]

Everything’s a multiple of a roll, so that you’re getting some multiplied deal, but you never actually get to see on what the companies are basing these so-called deals. Trust us, they say, we’ve done the math for you!

But I don’t trust them. They’re trying to make money, not lose money by giving me a sweet deal, and that’s part of my frustration. I just don’t trust the packaging, so I have to do the math myself, which takes far longer than I want it to, which just adds to the anxiety and frustration around making a choice.

I don’t quite understand why it is that way–once I get it home, it’s still just toilet paper. But now it’s got an aura of resentment. Have I made the right choice in sizes? Do I have to put it back on the list almost immediately and go through the process all over again?

I’m looking forward to the day where I stop caring about this so much–or maybe I just send the Boy to get the toilet paper from now on.



I, Influencer (or, How Did I Get on this List?)

2 Dec

Yesterday started out with a round a questioning from the Boy:

“Where are you going again tonight?”

“I’m going to CambridgeSide to an Influencers’ holiday party.”

“How are you an ‘Influencer’ again?”

How am I an Influencer?! What kind of question is that? Is this not the face of an Influencer?

International woman of awesomeness!

This person makes you want certain stuff and things.





No? Well, how about this?

Yeah! This girl is on. Point!

Want to be me, or else!






Still no? One more try:

No, seriously, I'm looking at something so amazing. You should want that something.

There are no words for this level of influence.


Needless to say, the folks at CambridgeSide thought I was an Influencer, bless them, and put me on the list for this holiday shindig. Since there’s a party involved, I’m going, and I’m going to roll with the ambiguity of why I’m actually invited or who even found me. This time, I’m going to do it right. Admittedly, last time I didn’t do it completely wrong, but I certainly knew that I could’ve worked it a lot better.

See, the last time I found myself invited to a place I know I didn’t belong, was several years ago when I lived in Chicago and Chicago was bidding to host the 2016 Olympics. One of the big Chicago business councils–the kind where all of the bigwigs get together and promote business within the city–held a luncheon with Mayor Daley and then-International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge. A bunch of former Olympic stars came out to support the event, and it was a big deal, particularly since a lot of companies had a big interest in helping the Olympics come to Chicago.

A bunch of higher ups in my office decided to go, and since I love the Olympics, I jumped at the chance. The Boy also decided to come along and check out the scene. We left work kind of late so that we’d hit the end of the mingling portion and be there for the lunch part. But that turned out to be a mistake.

When we checked in at the registration table, they found the Boy’s name, they found my co-workers’ names, but they couldn’t find mine. We slid down a few people to a different registration list, where the check-in lady found my name and said, “You’re supposed to be down in the VIP room.”

Wait, what?! VIP list? How did I…?

But there was no time for questions because another person was whisking me away to a downstairs room where some of the city’s heavy hitters were hanging out and waiting to say a little private hello to Jacques. And then there was me.

Thankfully I had ironed my cheap chinos and button-down shirt that morning. And maybe my makeup hadn’t worn off. The sad thing is that I knew I didn’t fit in, and I let that thought take center stage in my brain. I latched onto some wine and talked to a couple of people–one of whom was one of the more influential priests in the city and took pity on me enough to sit next to me at lunch, as VIPs also got prominent seating in the middle of the room.

I learned a few things that day:

  • Being a VIP means you’re likely turning down dessert in order to maintain your VIP figure.
  • If the mayor repeatedly mispronounces the guest of honor’s name, it might not bode well on your future chances of winning the Olympics.
  • If you find yourself in a place where you have no idea how you got put on “the list,” say yes to it and fake belonging as best you can, because maybe you actually do belong there and you owe yourself the courtesy of actually believing in yourself for a change.

But back to my being an Influencer. Yes, that’s right. Me. Jill. Influencer. With a party to attend.

I got to the mall way before the party started, so I walked around every level to kill time…and kill a little more of my Christmas shopping list. I played the “one for you, one for me” game, buying a gift for someone and then a glittery polka dot sweater for me, since I realized I have to go to a fun party this weekend and had nothing appropriate to wear. TJMaxx to the rescue–I found it, tried it on and was out the door in 10 minutes or less!

The party itself was a nice way to start December–we got to see holiday fashions, test MAC lipstick if we wanted, have snacks courtesy of some of the mall’s restaurants, get a swag bag and participate in a Yankee swap grab bag. And we got to take pictures with this guy:

I *have* been good this year, Santa!

Big Influencer hero, Mr. S. Claus.

Which isn’t really even a fancy Influencer-type perk, since the mall’s giving away pictures with Santa this year.

So did I belong there? Sure!

I think.

I was a first-timer, so I had that insecurity that you have whenever you’re someplace for the first time and don’t know people like everyone else seems to know people. I don’t vlog, so I wasn’t one of those who were instantly Snapchatting or whatever it was that they were doing with video.

But I didn’t feel like I didn’t belong, so that’s something. And that’s at least influential to me.

Postcard from Cleveland

22 Sep


Hello Readers!

Somehow summer has almost completely passed, and although I’ve thought about you a lot over the last few months, I really haven’t done my part to keep up. Time to get back on track though, so I’ll start with some of my summer travels that caused disruption in my routine.

In August I went to Cleveland to officiate the first WFTDA D2 Playoff of the season, but I’m writing to you not to talk about the tournament (fun) or the officiating (which I thought went really well), but to  mention how smitten I am with Cleveland.

I’ve visited a few Rust Belt cities over the last few years, and I’m thrilled that many of them are experiencing a renaissance, with downtowns going through revitalization, people moving back in and interesting places opening up. You can feel a buzz of optimism, and it’s catchy enough to make me want to move there (Buffalo, I’m looking at you too).

If I had to move to Cleveland, I’d like to be able to live where I could regularly shop at the store pictured here. Oh, you thought it was the interior dome of a museum or something? No. It’s a grocery store. All right, Heinen’s didn’t build it that way, but they did keep The Cleveland Trust Company  building that is their downtown location pretty much intact from its good old days as a bank.

Heinen’s is on the fancier side in terms of grocery stores. They stock a couple of flavors of Polar, which is nice because you don’t always see Polar outside the Seltzer Belt (New England). They also have Noosa yoghurt, which you know is fancy because “yogurt” is spelled with an “h” (you should look for it in your local stores though–it’s totally delicious). Other froo-froo items include the parmesan-stuffed dates and some fancy tortilla chips that probably didn’t contain a lick of corn that I bought to fulfill my snacking needs for the weekend.

The best part about Heinen’s is its prepared food section (well, maybe the upstairs beer and wine tasting is better, but since I can’t drink and officiate, I didn’t even go up there). And here’s a tip: If you want a salad, skip the pay-by-the-ounce salad bar, and go to the global grill counter. This is where you can get things like meat and rice in a bowl or a themed salad OR you can make your own bowl.

I was in the mood for a big salad and thought about the salad bar, but I knew that with what foods I wanted, I’d quickly have a $15 salad on my hands and would have to hold back my tears at the cash register while I forked over the money and told myself I’d better be licking the plastic container clean.

Then I saw the bowl station had prepared salads, so I sauntered over there to get a Mediterranean salad, which would have fit the bill. Then I noticed that you could build your own, and they had maybe 30 different toppings, which was pretty much like the salad bar, except minus the cottage cheese, which I don’t eat anyway.

So I ordered a build-your-own salad, and the employee asked me what I wanted on it. I said, “Everything.”


I scanned the rows of ingredients. “Well, maybe just two of the three coleslaws…and we can skip the kimchi. And I guess I’ll do just one kind of cheese.”

Raised eyebrows. “All right.”

Best damn salad ever. You can totally mix salsa and two kinds of coleslaw with spinach and peppers and feta and have a delicious concoction called “lunch.”

I went back to Heinen’s the next day and had the same thing, different dressing. Again, fantastic and joy-inducing, and I’m not sure if that’s because the food was good, the employees were super friendly or if shopping in such a beautiful building made the difference. I just know that it’s making a difference in a city–that still has a long way to go to get back to its glory days but is definitely showing a lot of signs of life. I’ll take that and look forward to the next time I go to Cleveland.

Now, if we could all work to get Gary back on track….

On the Loose–or on Target?

11 Mar

[Part 2 in a collector’s series]

Once yesterday’s doctor’s visit was over, errand time began. After not having been in a Target for a long time, it kind of felt like Boris Yeltsin visiting an American grocery store in 1989: Look at all of this amazing stuff! Such abundance! And I’m allowed to acquire it!

I’m not saying that I went crazy and bought the store, but I did a lot more hunting/gathering than I usually do when I’m in the store. My new hairbrush is divine. The glass storage containers I’ve had my eye on found their way into my cart. I’m going to see if those reusable elastic bowl covers are worthwhile. After dealing with the shoulder pain, I bought a new mop, which will hopefully make cleaning the floor easier. This last thing is kind of a big deal because I feel like there’s a big mop conspiracy being played against the US consumer. I have bought far too many mops in my adult lifetime, all of which promise that the sponge can be replaced–but when you actually go to buy a replacement sponge, no store seems to stock your brand anymore. You want a mop? Buy a new one! It doesn’t even help to buy a few replacement sponges up front because the second you need to get another one from the store, bam! New mop.

Walking around Target gave me a bit of an appetite, so I took it to Swissbakers, which is what it sounds like: A European bakery with good bread and pastries and sandwiches. Or, as I like to think of it, pretzel bread done right. One sandwich and a chocolate Berliner later, I was back on the road and in such a good mood that I powered through the car wash, hit the grocery store and popped into Staples for a graph paper notebook before hitting the gym.

Post a treadmill run and quick weight workout, I had one last errand before picking up the Boy: Getting my Winter Warrior shirt. When I’d signed up for the Winter Warrior Challenge, I opted to buy the finisher’s shirt that would have your name on it. I thought that’d be cool — a tech shirt with my name on it. If I ever did a big run, I could wear it and people could cheer for me. Heh. What I got was a very nice tech shirt with every Winter Warrior’s name on it in the smallest font imaginable. As I told the Boy, “I kind of feel like I’m in high school and I got the class t-shirt.” Live, learn and wear.

So that was my day of errands, and it was glorious. I’m sure that if I had regular access to the car, it wouldn’t be so much fun–the chore aspect would emerge pretty quickly and become a grind. I’m just glad I got to revel in the ordinary for a while and enjoy it.

I Get the Car!

9 Mar

The Boy and I have one car. Until we started getting pounded with snow, he’d take the train to work (or I’d drive him if we overslept) and I’d walk to meet him at the train station in the evening. Once the blizzards hit and the train simply stopped functioning, he had to take a car to work. That meant either I drove him, or he took the car.

When you think about working from home, you tend to think about rolling out of bed and being right there. When my phone tells me I’m four minutes away from work, I think, Man, my house must be pretty messy. Driving the Boy to and from work makes my daily commute two hours, and that was not something I was willing to do, as it would severely cut into my work time–or more like my time for playing stupid computer games that I use to “warm up for writing.”

Usually, the Boy is very concerned about me not having a car. “I don’t like you not having a car,” he says.

“But I don’t usually go anywhere during the day,” I respond. Which is true. Unless it’s a designated errand day, you’ll find me sitting at my computer, willing words to appear on the screen. Or checking Facebook. Or surfing through various roller derby forums.

So when I said I didn’t want to spend all of my time driving him, that’s all he needed to hear. He’s had the car for work every day, and I haven’t heard a peep out of him about being worried that I don’t have access to a car, not even when we kept getting snow.

This routine has been going on a little over a month now, and I’ve got to say that not having a car in suburbia is starting to get old. Sure, I can walk, though you wouldn’t believe how little people shovel and de-ice sidewalks. I’ve had to completely abandon one way to go to the grocery because I’d have to spend too much time walking on the side of a busy street (that is much narrower than it used to be, thanks to piles of snow everywhere, making the Massholes even more dangerous). I can also take the bus or train–though I tend not to. They don’t always go where I need them to go, when I need them to go. I live in the land of fairly scheduled buses, not ones that come along every five minutes. I also live in the land of express buses that are pretty expensive (something like six bucks one way), and if I’m not heading all the way downtown, it’s not worth it. The commuter rail–if it’s running–is also in the six-dollar range, depending on where I want to go (and yes, I get that MBTA is completely strapped for cash, but if you take the commuter rail from Chicago to Northwest Indiana, the trip is twice as long and costs much less. I have little sympathy when I’m being gouged).

At any rate, I have a doctor’s appointment, which means that I’ll drive the Boy to work and pick him up, but I also will have the car all day. And I’m going to do all of the things. Going to the store to buy more things than I can carry with two hands!  Going to the gym during the day! Dropping off various recycling! I am so excited about this…hell, I may even go crazy and go out for lunch. It’s like Oprah’s in my head saying, “You get a car!”

And then on Tuesday it’ll sink in that I have to pay the car tax, and we’ll go back to the new normal.

I’ll still fill you in on all the scintillating details though.

The Best Thing I’ve Ever Bought (Right Now): Housewares Edition

15 Jan

Today I had one of those moments where I’m marveling over a fairly small, recent purchase and can’t help but think, This is the best thing I’ve ever bought! Do you ever get that feeling?

Right now for me, it’s these reusable produce bags:


It’s one thing to tote your groceries in a reusable shopping bag. It’s another thing to fill said reusable bags with plastic bags of produce because you don’t want five apples and 3 peppers rolling around your cart. You know what the broccoli’s like when it gets loose, the tomatoes are fussy, and I don’t even want to get into what the cucumbers get up to when you buy more than one. So you put each item in a plastic bag, and then, because you’ve been a good, healthy shopper, you get home and find about 20 plastic produce bags in your one reusable tote. Way to save the environment.

When I was at The Container Store before Christmas (an aside: I try to stay away from this place because for me it’s as dangerous as setting foot in a bakery. Yet in a moment of weakness, I signed up for their customer loyalty program. This might have been a mistake–oh, not to The Container Store because they’re going to see me a lot more often–because my wallet is going to take a hit, but it will be soooo worth it), I saw these reusable produce bags and thought they’d make good stocking stuffers. Of course, I figured the set I got for the Boy would be completely shareable.

And it is. Turns out, the set of three wasn’t enough, so the next time I was at The Container Store, I bought a 5-pack that was a different brand. Best thing ever (right now). Granted, if I’m on a massive produce-buying spree, I end up using the plastic bags anyway but there are far fewer floating around my house, trying to avoid being captured and recycled. And for that, I’m pretty grateful.


If you’ve got a Best Thing You’ve Ever Bought (Right Now), let me know. I’d love for my house to be filled with mostly the Best Stuff Ever. I’m not sure it ever can, because, well, there’s well-intentioned presents and some purging issues. But it’s a progression that I’m slowly working toward. It doesn’t have to be housewares–it could be clothing or other gear or whatever you own that’s pretty damn cool. Since it’s just after Christmas, you’ve got to have received or given some pretty cool stuff–the Boy was enthralled with a friend’s over-the-door-kitchen-towel holder, so guess what sweet thing I got for Christmas? Share those things! Let’s all be cool together!



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