Tag Archives: TV

The Art (maybe science?) of Grocery Shopping

I learn a lot from TV. Which is a good thing since it seems to take up a significant part of my  evenings. And it’s not just the news shows I learn from. Although I do. I mean who doesn’t turn to Mr. Anderson Cooper to catch up on the ongoing shenanigans (is that too forgiving?) in those United States of America? Or Ms. Lisa Laflamme for the ones in our own country for that matter. And while I find the comings and goings of the world at large compelling, I also like to spend a little time each day with Ms. Stacy Ross and Mr. Ben O’Hara learning more about what’s going on right here in this little hometown of mine. Because it’s pretty important to know exactly which neighborhoods that recently, and frequently I might add, sighted cougar might be prowling around. The thing is, anyone who knows cougars knows that they really don’t want to find themselves face-to-face, looking into those big, green eyes, no matter how beautiful they might be. So it’s important to know. But as any shallow person can tell you, there’s more to TV than just the news and thankfully, so much more to learn.  

Take Madame Secretary for example. I know. It’s not really the White House but it could be. After all, this is a show that helps us understand how things work in the upper echelons of  government. So what if everything always seems to turn out hunky dory? That’s probably what would actually happen if politicians were better actors and could pretend they actually cared about someone other than themselves. Or how about that Amazing Race? What a way to see the world without having to spend hours waiting in lines, getting on and off planes and struggling to decipher a menu in an unfamiliar language which could result in finding oneself hungry while sadly staring at a plate of veal kidney stew. Who needs it when in the span of one hour you can travel through two, maybe three countries, visit all of the tourist highlights and more, while never having to leave the comforts of your own home. And let’s not forget that all you have to do is watch a few episodes of Survivor to learn that you never want to be stranded on a desert island with a bunch of strangers. But even though, as you can plainly see, there is much to learn from the news and the shows, there is even more to be gained from watching the commercials.

So let me tell you what I have recently learned from commercials. It seems there are now a number of services that provide people with all of the ingredients needed for an evening meal, measured out and delivered to the door, along with an easy to follow recipe. All that’s left to do is put the stuff together and presto, in just 30 minutes there’s a gourmet meal on the table. Never mind that you don’t know what an “Open-faced Halloumi sandwich” is or whether “Tofu Larb Lettuce Cups with Sticky Rice” will tickle your fancy. One way or the other you’re going to come out of this looking like a gourmet chef. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it. Unless, of course, you are me. Because, and you may know this or you may not, not only do I not cook most nights which makes this service a little redundant but, and this is the honest to god truth, I love to shop for groceries.

That’s right. Give me a fistful of flyers and a stack of reusable grocery bags and I am one happy camper. And because I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for gathering food I thought I would take this opportunity to share some tips that just might improve the experience for you. I like to think of it as the art (maybe science) of grocery shopping. 

Tip 1: There’s some homework to do. Start with the flyers. Some online, some paper. The good news is these all come out on the same day. There’s no bad news.

Tip 2: Make some lists. As many as you need because you’ll be compiling the best deals in each of the stores. Don’t worry. No one’s going to hold your hand to the fire. You’ll find stuff in your cart that’s not on your list but nonetheless, it’s a good place to start.

Tip 3: Make a plan. You have to visit each of the stores on your lists but there’s no point going hither and yon. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover so be systematic and do your best to limit your mileage. Just remember to visit the store with the best deal on ice cream last.

Tip 4: Shop. It’s not that hard. Get yourself a cart, make your way up and down the aisles and don’t get too distracted or overwhelmed by the plethora of choices. There might be 43 flavours of Cheerios but you only need one. Make like a shallow person. Don’t dwell.

Tip 5: Check-out and pay. Remember when your Mom and/or Dad bought you that toy cash register and a bunch of fake food to go with it? You had hours of fun pretending your were a cashier and all your stuffies were your customers. Well now most stores will let you check out and bag all of your own stuff. It’s still as much fun as it was when you were a kid. Except now it’s for real.

Tip 6: Check out your savings. If you have paid attention they should be pretty substantial. Of course in some cases you might need a store savings card to get the best deals. If you don’t have one, just ask. They’ll be happy to oblige. Yes, I know they use it to track what you buy. So what! If you use the internet (and you do because you are here) privacy is pretty much a moot point for you anyway.

Tip 7: Get home, put everything away and know you’ll be able to feed yourself and whoever else you might feed for at least a little longer. And really, what could be more rewarding than that?

I know. Now you’re thinking this shallow gal has way too much time on her hands. Well that could be true. But if you ask me, it’s a whole lot better than finding an Halloumi Sandwich on my plate for dinner.

 

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I’m Learning a Lot

capsuleSometimes when you start thinking about things in a different way you keep thinking about them that way. Sometimes it even makes you wonder why you never thought about those things that way before. Which is what has happened to me over the past three weeks since I last wrote about, what I have now come to know as “degrees of dislike”. It hasn’t been hard to do all that thinking. You see, for the last of those weeks I have found myself sick and pretty much relegated to my chair, yet again. As a result I have confronted first hand something I now know, and am happy to admit, I strongly dislike. Yep. I can now honestly say that I strongly dislike being sick and pretty much relegated to my chair, twice in two months. I mean, who would like that? It’s really not all that pleasant. And when you’re as sick as I was there’s not all that much to do. Which lead me to discover the next thing that I strongly dislike.

Imagine. You wake up one morning and all you know is if your head had actually fallen off your neck and onto the floor you’d feel and probably look, a whole lot better.  Everything hurts. Somehow, and you don’t really remember the exact details of this event, you make your way from your bed to your chair where for the next four days just about all you have the energy to do is press the little button on the remote, and you only do that to avoid watching consecutive repeat episodes of the  “Big Bang Theory”. Someone, and you’re pretty sure it’s someone who is rightfully in your home, brings you a little pill which they assure you will make things better, you swallow it and sometime within the next couple of hours you realize that the very sharp pain that has been pulsing through your head every ten to twenty seconds has abated to the point where it occurs only a few times each minute and you rejoice, because a small victory is a victory nonetheless. And that’s when it happens. The insult to the injury.

So I’m minding my own business watching, for the umpteenth time, Sheldon deride poor, ol’ Wolowitz for only having a lowly Master’s degree from MIT, (so what if he’s been to the International Space Station), when the commercial break takes me to the bedroom of some poor sot like myself who is apparently suffering with an affliction similar to my own. Since we all know that misery loves miserable company, I am immediately drawn to another’s suffering and so find myself directing my attention to what’s happening on the screen. The scene is of a pyjama clad woman who, like me, is holed up with a nasty head cold. Within moments, and what a coincidence this is, she pops the very same pill that I myself had just popped. Only in this version of the story it’s no time before she is literally dancing her way to, what appears to me to be, a rather miraculous recovery. Now as a shallow person I am honest to a fault, (it’s way too much work not to be) so it is with some dismay that I have to conclude that either she and I have significantly different reactions to the same medication or someone isn’t telling the exact truth, and since I am pretty sure about how I feel I can only conclude that it must be her.  It’s possible that, if I hadn’t been feeling quite as lousy as I was, I might have been just a tad more forgiving of this whole thing. Perhaps my judgement was even clouded by the piercing pain coursing through my head. But under these circumstances and in that moment I can confidently say that her feeling so good so fast, while I continue to feel so bad for so long, is something I strongly dislike.

I suppose I’m learning a lot from writing this blog. Since I started reflecting on this whole “dislike” stuff I also figured out that I strongly dislike fridge magnets. I mean, whoever thought that refrigerators were meant to be bulletin boards? But perhaps that’s a story for another day.

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Just don’t do it!

stop symbolAs the writer of possibly one of the few blogs on the internet that openly celebrates the rather maligned state of “being shallow” I have always felt it important to share with those who are interested, how to traverse this one little life of ours on the shallow side of the road. No doubt, those of you who have been with me from the beginning, can recall the helpful life lessons presented in posts like “Forgetting, It’s an Art”, or the entire “Folk Fest” series, not to mention the little gems of advice found in “Shallow People Travel Too”, “Blasts from the Past” and/or “There is such a thing as a free lunch”. But lately I’ve been reconsidering my approach to self-help. Lately I have actually been thinking that there could be some value in sharing with you the things that, as a truly shallow person, I would never think of doing. Because knowing what not to do seems to me to be important too. So here’s a list. Not an exhaustive one but a list just the same.

Buddhist Meditation Classes: It may surprise you that this would be at the top of the list as it probably isn’t something one considers doing each day or even lands upon by happenstance. As a matter of fact, there may not even be an option for this type of learning experience in your place of residence, depending on how large and/or diverse that place may be. But suffice to say that in my hometown there is in fact such a class and one of my dear friends has opted to give it a shot. Don’t ask me why. The mere mention of it brought back long, repressed memories of team bonding exercises, all of us lying on the floor with our eyes shut while some self-appointed new age guru recited, in what can only be described as a “nails on the blackboard” monotone voice, relaxing mantras, cajoling us to conjure up images of where on this earth we would most like to be at that moment in time. For me that answer was easy. Anyplace but here. And while my outside voice responded to my friend’s news with “Good for you. I wonder if I’m free that night” the little voice in my head shrieked “just don’t do it!”

Join a Cult: When I was a kid in the “big city” there was lots of opportunity to pledge allegiance to an almost endless number of street corner deities. While the sales pitches differed, some were happy, some sad, others just plain scary, all welcomed new members with open arms. Looking back I have to admit that while the ones with the long black capes were “de rigueur” in the day, I think I knew in my heart that the whole cult thing really wasn’t for me. And it wasn’t just because this particular group (despite their appealing garb) tended towards what can best be described as “the dark side”, given their fixation on the fella down below. It was because no matter what the choice, whether it be the sun, the moon or the capes, belonging to a cult requires an enormous commitment. I mean all that fundraising, chanting and dancing in the street, well wow! It all takes so much time. And even then, even before I became the “shallow gal”, officially, I knew I wasn’t prepared to get into anything like that. And I was right. Shallow people just don’t do that. They don’t join cults.

Exercise: This one is a little more complicated. It’s not that shallow people don’t do exercise. I mean you know I do. As a matter of fact, I frequently go down to the basement to get on that treadmill of mine while watching a couple of my fav shows on the tube. So this one isn’t so much about “doing or not doing” but more about “why” you’re doing it. You see some people exercise because they know it’s good for them. It’s good for the heart, it’s good for the bones, really it’s pretty much good for all parts of the old bod. Shallow people, on the other hand, exercise to lose weight, plain and simple. You put on a few, you gotta do a little exercise to get ‘em off. So in this case I suppose it’s ok to “do it” just as long as it’s for the right reason.

Write a blog: Oops!

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This is my Everest

mountainThe other day I found myself thinking about stuff in general. It’s something I do on occasion, sometimes without even realizing it. Not sure why. I’ll be sitting watching the latest episode of whatever reality show happens to be on the tube (yes I still call it that) and it just happens. Thoughts come tumbling into my head whether I want them to or not. And they are not thoughts about the show. They’re other kinds of thoughts. Sometimes random. Other times quite focused. Like when I think about cleaning up the house for my garage sale this June. I think a lot about that. But so far that’s about all I’ve done because honestly, the idea of getting rid of all of the things I should get rid of is a bit overwhelming. Though I take some solace in knowing that my junk will become someone else’s treasure for whatever reason that may be.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because of all the inspirational commercials on the television (see values.com) or maybe it’s just the time of year (new season, new life etc. etc.) but whatever the reason, the other day I got thinking about how most people, and when I say “most people” I really mean “other people” love a good challenge. People, it would seem, enjoy stretching to their limits by taking on tasks that push them out of their comfort zones, striving to meet lofty goals they set for themselves. Of course as an impartial and nonjudgmental observer of this phenomenon, I have come to realize that not all of these challenges are equal. On the contrary, there appears to be a rather broad range to choose from on the “challenge spectrum” ranging from the somewhat sublime “I’d really like to drop 5 pounds” to the absolutely ridiculous “better start training for that Death Valley Ultra” and everything in between.

Now don’t get me wrong. Not all challenges are physical. The things people choose to take on are many and varied, and from what I can see, limited only by their imaginations. Some are inspired to do good, helping those who are not as fortunate as they are. I know this to be true because, as we speak (I’m not exaggerating) there’s a spot on the telly with a guy rowing solo across the ocean to raise money for cancer. Turns out it’s also an ad for Advil. I think he’s going to need some. Others have more instrumental quests often involving jobs or school or some kind of heretofore hidden talent. Still others have goals that are vaguely esoteric and, in my mind at least, a little nebulous because who can really say whether or not you have “become a better person” even if that’s what you intended to do. And yet, with all of the choices out there, it seems that for a lot of people the ultimate challenge is to climb Mount Everest. Not sure why, it just is.

That’s when it hit me. When it all became clear. As much as I have never gone looking for a challenge, never even suggested that I have a bucket, here I am, plopped smack dab in the middle of it. This my friends, is my Everest. Writing the blog is my mountain to climb. My river to forge. My row to hoe. That’s right…”row”.  It’s like it found me when I wasn’t looking. And no matter how hard I try I simply can’t seem to claw my way out. So here I am. Week after week, month after month, year after year. Seems I’ve taken lots of steps but there’s no sign yet of the top.

My son tells me that climbing Everest is no big deal anymore. What with all the wealthy adventurers looking for a challenge, hiring the locals to do the heavy lifting, there’s practically a clear, paved path to the top.  Which makes me wonder. Maybe I too could find a couple Sherpas to help me along the way.

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Things That Irritate Me (Part 2)

carandbikeI made my bed so I’ll have to lay in it. It wasn’t much of a leap really from “stuff I don’t get” to “stuff that irritates me” and clearly I have managed to close that gap. Before I go on though, I have a confession to make. In my last post I believe I may have suggested that I could be “5 foot nothing and just shy of 105 pounds”. Well that’s not exactly the truth as anyone who knows me knows. It’s easy to see that, even in my bare feet I hug 5 feet and two inches. Slightly more problematic though is that “105 pound” thing because what would have been more accurate for me to say is that I would like to be just shy of 105. Which is why I’m back in that basement of mine sweating it out on the treadmill each and every night. Now it’s not being on the treadmill in and of itself that irritates me because, to be honest, it’s not a bad place to do a little thinking. And in some people’s homes it’s also a not a bad place to do a little watching, but not in my place. You see, in my basement there still exists a 27” flat screen TV. I’m not talking LCD, or LED or even Plasma. There’s no HD or surround sound in my basement. Nope, just a 27 inch, CRT flat screen TV which I’m sure you might still recognize if you bumped into one. And when I’m trying to get through that last kilometer for the sole purpose of shedding two (ok maybe three) of my extra pounds, I find watching that TV mildly irritating.

But not as irritating as the times when I’m driving down one of our roads paying close attention to the speed limit because in my city of choice, they have a nasty habit of playing “guess how fast you can go on this block” and I just hate getting my picture taken. Almost without fail, some yahoo (that one took some thinking) in what they think is a hot car, decides I guessed wrong and takes advantage of the opening to whiz past me most often on the inside lane, likely to make sure I’m paying attention. To cement his (well it usually is) superiority, he’ll subsequently cut in front of my car with just inches to spare. Now you and I both know what’s going to happen next because as kids we all read the story about the tortoise and the hare. He’ll weave in and out of the traffic for the next four blocks or so while I carefully make my way along the blacktop, and we’ll both end up spending about a minute and a half waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel to turn green. Which, I am pleased to say, will irritate him way more than it will me.

Before I go there’s just one more “thing” to check off this list of mine and I do so at my own peril. But I’m putting my cards on the table ‘cause this one’s important, so listen up. By now you’re aware I have a deep seated belief that it’s not only important to know who you are but to be true to your convictions. Let’s face it, that’s not always the easiest thing to do but if the shallow gal can, well anyone can. I’ve said it before, and I’ll very likely say it again, I love my car but I know not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the horseless carriage. And because of that, I don’t mind that the road has been divvied up for those of you who prefer a non-motorized form of transport in an effort to minimize your carbon footprint. Don’t get me wrong, I reduce, reuse and recycle whenever I can. But when you hop on your ride, here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Are you a pedestrian or are you a vehicle because you simply can’t be both. You see, when you pull up beside me in the “right turn only” lane the only assumption I can make is that you, like me, are going to turn right because when you’re on the road you obey the rules of the road. When you don’t, well that’s not just irritating, it’s downright dangerous. So let’s make a pact. I’ll watch out for you if you watch out for me and we’ll both come out of this ahead. Because the alternative isn’t going to go well for either of us.

Well that’s that. The end of the “things that irritate me” series. I can’t say I’m sorry because, this whole exercise has been a little intense and the subject is, quite frankly, starting to irritate me.  Makes me think it’s time for this shallow gal to get out of that bed. Besides, to tell the truth, it’s starting to feel a little lumpy.

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