Fabrics and Food Shopping: A Lesson In Obsession

Quick note-slash-big announcement:  I’m on Hollaback Health today in the first of a series of regular posts on how to improve your writing!  Head on over and find out why writing matters so much–and why I just NEED to get up on a soapbox and make us all better bloggers.

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This weekend, I confirmed a fact that I already knew beyond a reasonable doubt:  I am a Class A hoarder.

I don’t hoard junk that would land me on those ridiculous TLC shows.  I just hoard non-perishable food items and fabrics.  You know, the usual stuff.

The worst part is that I know that I do it.  In fact, I recognize the process:

  • A fancy can of something interesting or an insanely bright piece of fabric (usually cotton–let’s keep it real) catches my eye.  I get so excited I have to buy it (usually because it’s both special AND cheap) and I yammer to the salesperson about it as I purchase it.  I can tell they all roll their eyes when I walk out of the store.
  • The purchase turns out to be SO special that I just can’t bring myself to open it or cut into it.  I set it aside for the right dinner/occasion.
  • The right dinner/occasion never comes.
  • Fast forward a few months/years and I’m unearthing eight cans of chickpeas and a jar of sweet and spicy jalapeno jelly/ X cuts of fabric from the depths of my kitchen/sewing mess.
  • Cue shame–but cue indifference, too, because by the time I dig it out I’ve moved on to other, more exciting finds.

And so it goes.

I usually don’t feel guilty for it, except for when I do, and today is one of those days, sadly.  So, in the interest of not humoring my compulsions, I hereby announce that I will refrain from multiple-can purchases of beans until I’m down to just two cans of chickpeas (two being the amount of cans that I end up using any time I use beans–helps me make leftovers).  I will also refrain from buying any more fabric until I’ve dealt with at least three of the cuts of fabric I’ve squirrelled away.

Honestly, inspiration has struck in a million different ways for each of these beauties.  I just have to simmer down and make a decision and get on with my bad sewing self:

Purple was purchased in April, yellow in February, red in May
Uh-oh: the blue on the right was purchased in March 2009, the green in September 2007 (!), and the one on the left in May

Clearly, I have a problem–and some sewing to do.

And yet…

This De-Hoarding Measure does not mean that I can’t evade my own rules by making bean-free dishes and chopping up my curtains to make my own Hostess With the Mostest/Trophy Wife version of this Anthropologie dress:

Convincing reasoning, no?

Are you a ruthless de-cluttering machine, or do you hoard things like the world is ending tomorrow?  What is your hoarding poison?

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No More Skirting the Issue: The Ride for Roswell Skirt Giveaway

Remember my Ride for Roswell?  Oh, that little 20-mile bike ride for cancer research fundraising?  The ride for which I trained with a shaky first ride and with a few rides full of panache and cycle style?

For which rain did not cooperate sometimes and for which I rode ghetto-unfabulous with a posse of my badass sisters for backup and commiseration?

For which I ate like a beast (sometimes during the actual bike rides)?

Baby Bel and I chomping on hot dogs

And which, of course, I rode with the coolest people on earth–my sisters and friends, not to mention all 8,000 other awesome Ride for Roswell participants?

As official a team photo as we could manage!

The unofficial shot--sisters scream silly Spanish swearwords, as per tradition

Yes, well…  All of that happened almost a month ago and I have been shamelessly neglectful in holding the Ride for Roswell Skirt Giveaway, due to some circumstances within my control (too much household craziness, chasing down some post-ride donations and pledges) and some outside of it (family issues, work craziness, flight delays, etc).

But no more!

I decided to go about this in a thoroughly unscientific way because math hurts my head on a Sunday night (as for the flash, the camera manual for my new DSLR also hurts my head on a Sunday, hence the glare–I’ll learn soon, I promise).  Each donor was allocated a number, which was entered once for every five dollars they donated:

How very scientific!

The numbers were folded up into itty bitty little squares and tossed in a most appropriate vessel–my scratched saucepan:

I know--it's time to replace this with better Teflon

Wherein they were tossed and shaken all about:

Boom shakalaka shake...

Shake it like a pan full of popcorn (go on, sing it to the tune of Outkast's "Hey Ya")

Then stirred for good measure:

The oatmeal spoon sees some night action, ooh la la

Before a winning number was pulled out:

The spoon is as impartial as I am!

Under the watchful eye of Umbi, who was monitoring proceedings for fairness and procedural propriety:

I swear his eyes are under there--and they're SERIOUSLY watchful...

And the winner is…. Kendra!

Woot woot!

Congratulations to the lovely Kendra!  I’ll be getting in touch to get measurements and ask for color/print preferences, etcetera.

I would also like to thank EVERYONE who donated and everyone who wished me well or even gave me and my silly team a thought on Ride for Roswell day.  We couldn’t have done this without you and I can’t wait to do it again next year–33 miles, here I come!

In Which I Show You That I’ve Been Wearing Clothes

I have been very remiss in posting outfits during my time in Buffalo.  This morning, I realized that you might even think I’ve been running around in  my altogether–or in clothes for running and Zumba and riding a bicycle.  Frankly, there’s been very little evidence of sartorial sass around here lately, never mind sewing antics (what’s a sewing machine again?).

Well, I can assure you that I have not broken any public decency laws, as I have been FULLY clothed this entire time in Buffalo (except for a bikini sighting at Stonybrook and its beautiful gorges last weekend).  And, not only have I been fully clothed, I’ve also been making the most of having access to the closets of others, namely Baby Bel’s closet.

(Now handing camera over to Baby Bel, who will give picture-taking a worthy shot despite some rather creative, or sloppy, cropping tendencies.)

Exhibit A:

The provenance of this dress is unknown, except for the fact that it came from Baby Bel’s closet.  I think a friend gave it to her, and since it no longer has tags, I don’t have a clue as to the brand.  Or the size.  Or why it is so damn cute and I had never spotted it and thieved it from her before.

Exhibit B:

This dress was found in Baby Bel’s closet.  She acquired it in a nefarious trade with Little A, in which Little A wrangled a much more expensive item of clothing (what it was, I have no idea) in exchange for this dress, which originally came from Target.  I don’t care about the politics and trade negotiations and settlements that went into the agreement; I’m just glad I get to wear it when I visit in the summer.

The funny thing about having sisters–apart from being a collective toilet-paper-sucking unit–is that we all shop at pretty much the same stores .  If Target and Old Navy were as marketing-savvy as they should be, they’d ship us a truckload of their best items each season and have no need for any marketing campaign beyond that.

However, though we often end up buying the same items (and I mean the exact same items!) we manage to wear them differently.  Little A wears her bright tank tops slouchy and oversized; Baby Bel might wear the same one, fitted and layered; Minxy will wear hers fitted and with jeans; and mine will be fitted and tucked into a colorful skirt.  Clothes around this house get as much mileage as I’ve put in on Caribbean Airlines in the last two years.

Sadly, it’s just not the same with shoes.  We wear different sizes (ranging from teeny with Minxy to respectable non-Bigfoot with Baby Bel) and have widely different views on which shoes are “comfortable” and which ones pose the risk of a broken ankle or falling into a manhole.  Case in point:  Little A insisted that I wear a pair of her very high, very strappy, very platformy, very mean-bitch shoes out for dinner a few weeks ago.  In the ten minutes that I wore them and contemplated leaving the house in them, I managed to trip down the stairs, drop a contact lens, snag my dress on the shoe, and create scuffmarks on my mother’s kitchen floor.  You all know what happened after that:  I changed into flats and she rubbed my heel-sporting ineptitude in my face by teetering to and from the restaurant.  Oh, the indignity of it all.

So you may be seeing less of my own clothes and more of theirs in the coming days.  I’ve got just a few days left here, and I’m planning on squeezing out the very best from their closets.  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll rock their clothes so well that they’ll feel generous and make a donation to a sister in want.  Here’s to hoping!

Welcome to the Sweatshop

Mamalicious, if you happen to be reading, stop right now and look away–this one’s about you (mostly)!

It has been a literal fashion sweatshop at my house for the last week, with the weekend hitting fever pitch of sewing mania. Did I seem distracted?  Blame it on the sewing.  Did I write lots of typos?  Blame it on the sewing.   Did I eat the most boring food alive?  Blame. It. On. The. Sewing.

There is a reason for this all, though.  As a condition of my six-week sojourn at Chez Mamalicious (the longest since I left home nine years ago–eek!), a list of Laura Must-Do’s has been issued to me.  These conditions include:

  • The almost-daily making of delicious lunches to the satisfaction of Mamalicious’s taste buds and dietary requirements (we’re talking lots of salad here, people)
  • The clearing out and cleaning up of basement and attic (hi, like I didn’t hate cleaning the basement when it flooded with yuckwaters last Christmas!  However, the attic is fair game, since that’s where the material evidence of my pre-Britain and pre-Trinidad life is boxed up–did you know I actually have “good cutlery” up in thurr?  Yeah, I forgot about it too…)
  • The making of a wardrobe for Mamalicious to teach in and leave her students agog at her fashionable adorableness

The first has been tackled appropriately, with a list of good eats for Mamalicious now living in my wallet, ready to be whipped out each time I think of something nice to add to it.  I hope she has a discount with a local funky-lettuce grower because, like I said, Mama and I are eating more (well-embellished) grass than the cows out in the fields this summer.

The second?  Ach.  I’m bringing a bottle of duty-free rum and a bottle of duty-free tequila into Chez Mamalicious to deal with clearing out the basement and attic.  I’m much better (read: reckless) at tossing old junk when I’m intoxicated–in fact, that’s the only way to do this, as far as I’m concerned.

The third?  Well, Mamalicious is getting the wardrobe I would have made myself this summer, had I not been slaving over making it for her.

I’m hooking her up with this skirt:

In these patterns:

She’s also getting a gorgeous shift dress similar to this one (the sleeveless belted one, possibly made A-line in the skirt):

In this beauty of a floral explosion:

And a shirt-dress like my very own beloved Frankensteined dress:

In this enviable navy-and-white abstract floral/blobby print:

With such cute, painstakingly-selected buttons that I almost regret making this for her instead of for me:

She’s also netting a few A-line shift dresses like this one:

In some gorgeous saturated solids–I’m thinking orange, a magenta of some kind, and a green, with fabrics to be procured over the next couple of days.  It’ll be easy sewing to keep busy with while I’m visiting–and she has about a week’s worth of summery work clothes that I’ll have made to tide her over while I work on those for about a week.

She’s got me so busy that I’ve had to forgo reading my guilty-pleasure George Pelecanos crime drama in the interest of getting these  selfish sewing endeavors finished:

Dress turned into skirt, with the help of some nice orange from my curtains (literally snipped off before sewing)

A yet-to-be-finished dress that needs a zipper and a hem

In other words, I’m giving up Dexter and DC crime for my Mama’s dresses.  If that doesn’t earn me free passes to her Zumba class and unlimited use of her bike (to train for my Ride For Roswell), I don’t know what does.  There’d better b a grand reception at the airport, complete with tulips and champagne, for her seamstress.  That’s all I’m saying.

Do you get sucked into any particular tasks when you go home?  Are there things you volunteer to do for the family when you go home to visit?

One thing I will happily and easily provide is a tuna lunch like today’s:

Tuna mixed with spicy mustard, mayo, lime zest, tomatoes, pepper, and black pepper, served on crunchy whole-wheat pita.  We’ll be seeing a lot of this, modeled on her pretty plates!  I can’t wait to use her lovely collection of plates and I’m sure that you can’t wait to see different plates either, so watch this space…

But before that, stay posted for my Core Fusion Sport review tomorrow. If I can move in the morning, that is.

How to Exercise Control Over Food That Makes You Go Bananas

This post should really be called “how I managed to survive the weekend without demolishing the jalapeno pretzel bits” (while alone in the house and buried under blissful piles of sewing, which would be a whole other post.)

Pretzels left as of Monday night!

This is no mean feat.  This is a clear triumph over some evil food demons.  I actually had to take a moment to let it sink in.

Here’s how that bag is still around…

The thing with doing your own food shopping is that you generally control what goes into your shopping cart (unless you have children or significant others tossing chocolate chip-hazelnut cookies and apple soda into your cart) and into the realm of calm and good feeling that should be your kitchen. And there are things that you know will drive you into food frenzy.

I’m not talking about those things that you nibble out of the box mindlessly or feel like you could do without. You know what you can and can’t have around the house lest you eat an obscene amount of said goody in one hour.  You do, really, if you think about it.

See, there’s a scientifically-proven system of reasoning, deduction, and fear that goes into maintaining composure in the face of your most hellacious temptation items of food, whether that be in the grocery store or in your own kitchen.  Go on, get your notebook, I’ll wait….

Got it?  Good.  Now, in order to avoid situations that lead to extreme food inhalation of the third degree, you need to:

Identify your kryptonite:

These are the things that make you go koo koo for cocoa puffs.  Mine are tortilla chips, Reese’s peanut butter cups (the mini ones), and jalapeno-flavored ANYTHING (I’d probably eat tire chunks if they were coated in powdery fake jalapeno goodness).

Determine how psychotic the food can make you act:

Be realistic.  Could you have it around the house and eat it in reasonable quantities at reasonable intervals?  Would you inhale the thing before you even made it home with it?  Would you knife your housemate if they took it from you?  For me:

  • the Reese’s CAN be in the house without me eating all of them (though I would eat more than I should of them)
  • the jalapeno-flavored pretzels/car tire bits would earn a housemate a stabbing if they were so foolish to thief them from me
  • the tortilla chips would not make it home, other than as crumbs in my hair (and I would not be able to stop thinking about them if they did manage to make it through the front door)

Determine a plan of action to counteract the psychotic behavior that might be induced:

This one can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it.  It’s about strategies and coping mechanisms that will prevent you from doing the unholy things to that food that you may do, were you not so reasonable as to have developed a plan (or, in my case, so foolish that I brought certain dirty little items into my otherwise zen, peaceful home).  In my case, this is how I handle it:

  • Reese’s mini cups: I buy one SMALL bag, even if it’s cheaper to buy the bigger bag; cheaper is good, but off my thighs is better.  I’ll therefore happily pay the proportional larger cost of the smaller bag.  My sanity is definitely worth that much money.  I also put them WAY back in the fridge so they’re not in my face whenever I open the door, and I can live with the fact that these are eaten only AFTER dinner, with the Husband (who will definitely eat more than me, making them disappear fast).
  • Jalapeno devil-bites: I buy one bag at a time, ever, even if they’re on sale; if they were” buy one, get one free,” I’d have to give my free bag to the cashier to ensure sanity on my part.  When I get home, I put them out of sight and hopefully out of reach.  When they need to be eaten, I portion them out into a pretty plate or bowl and daintily nibble from there.  Because vengefulness is not something to indulge, I also try to be out of the picture when the Husband finishes them because I would be compelled to violence if I sniffed them and knew he’d eaten the last ones without offering any to me.
  • Tortilla chips: Mercy on my soul…  I try not to buy them unless it’s completely necessary–as in, guests are coming to dinner and one of them has specifically told me that the only thing they can eat without going into anaphylactic shock is tortilla chips.  Other than that, there are practically no good reasons for me to keep these around.  Should they be purchased (for the poor food-limited guest) and leftovers be, well, left, I ask the Husband to hide them.  Another option is putting them so high that you can only reach them with a six-foot stepladder or, bar that, a chair and a long wooden spoon.  If and when I scale the heights of high shelves to get them, I try to portion them–and woe befall whoever even looks at my portion with an eye to steal one–and eat them s-l-0-w-l-y so I can enjoy every single niblet of processed salty deliciousness.

Implement your plan:

Easy to do.  And warn those around you about what the plan is, or how to handle you if you try to wheedle them into helping you access any kind of stash (or stuff Reese’s down your pants at the supermarket).  In my case, the Husband knows that he should not, under any circumstances, hand me the tortilla chips unless I’m holding the house machete to him (yes, I have a machete–but every respectable household in Trinidad does, and no one uses it for tortilla-hostage situations, so it’s fine, trust me).

Should the plan fail….

Do NOT let yourself feel guilty.  Yeah, you just stuffed six mini-Reese’s into your mouth at once, but it’s not the end of the world or reason to commit hare kiri.  You won’t see them on your thighs unless you did it for a whole week didn’t get up from the couch to  drink water/relieve yourself/have a life.  You planned and just because it didn’t work this time (and you ate a whole five-pounder bag of jalapeno pretzels) doesn’t mean it CAN’T work or won’t work the next time.

In fact, right now (when your stomach is churning and you think you will smell jalapeno for the rest of your life) is the time to rejig your plan.  Maybe you need to re-evaluate the level of crack that your particular crack provides and change your approach to it.  Maybe you need to put things higher up.  Maybe you need to face the fact that you just can’t have, say, tortilla chips in your house for a while, until you sort out the madness behind your insane and unreasonable obsession.

I would not assume, however, that the person responsible for hiding the offending item should be made to hide it better.  This is all on you, baby girl, so just accept it and move on.

So, the fact that this is still here:

Is  a pretty big accomplishment.  I think I deserve a nice fabric to make a cute skirt for being such a calm, virtuous person.

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In things of the kind that I don’t need to ration or develop anti-psychotic plans for….

I got gussied up (ok, wore clothes and non-flip-flops) for most of the day, which involved a nice tough swim in the afternoon:

Sister-gifted blouse, Old Navy shorts, Target shoes

And I had two meals anchored by beany goodness–one of which was leftover sweet potato and black-eyed pea Southern burgers on salad (for lunch):

And lentil tacos for dinner (lentils were boiled, drained of most water, then simmered for a bit with a taco seasoning packet before being piled into tacos):

The irony of eating corn tacos today, when I’ve expounded on tortilla chips.  For some reason, corn taco shells don’t require exorcism.  Strange, isn’t it?

What are your kryptonite foods?  And how do you deal with them?

Trini Tales Thursday: Slang… And Sushi, Too

When I first moved to Trinidad, I was a bit worried about understanding the accent here.  I had listened to some Trini radio online before and, well, sat there dumbfounded while trying to figure out what was said three sentences ago.

It took a bit of time (and quite a few embarrassing repeated “What?/Say that again?/Sorry?”) to get it down, but I can understand most people now.  However, what I’m still amazed at is the extent to which Trini slang differs from anything I’ve ever seen before–and how easy it was to fall right into using it.

So, in honor of me steupsing in traffic, giving cut-eye to bad parking jobs, and going bazodee at sushi today, I thought it might be time for a Trini slang lesson.  Get your notebooks out or I’ll ketch your tail….

  • cuteye/stinkeye–fairly self-explanatory; to give a mean look.  Example:  “I gave cuteye to the pervy man on the bicycle who was staring at me during my morning run,” or “the cashier gave me stinkeye when I asked her to pack my groceries into reusable bags.”
  • steupse (pronounced “stoops”):  a sound made by sucking your teeth in disapproval or dismay.  Example:  “Every time I see the price of strawberries, I steupse.  I’m not paying US $6 for a pint of berries.  Steupse.  Steupse. Steupse.”
  • ketch your tail: to get someone in trouble or give them a good telling-off/hiding.  Example:  “Next time I see the water pump repairman thiefing my mangoes, I’m gonna ketch his tail REAL good.”
  • hear dis nah: a way of prefacing a story, preferably a salacious or gossipy one; like using “so….” or “you won’t believe this.”  Example:  “Hear dis nah:  I saw the neighbor kissing her gardener, and her husband was in the house!  Yes, girl…”
  • bazodee (pronounced “BAZ-uh-dee): going really, really, maniacally crazy for something or someone. Example:  “I go bazodee for nacho-flavored Doritos.”
  • bacchanal: any general or specific craziness.  Example:  “The start of the Clico 5K race was total bacchanal, people  lining up anyhow and taking off before the whistle.”
  • macco: to gossip about others.  Example:  “I have no patience for people who go to the pool to macco and not to swim; they take up my lane and I want to bop them over their gossipy heads with my swimming board.”
  • bamsie/bumper: the booty.  Example:  “If I do my Core Fusion for a month, I’ll have a REAL nice bamsie for so…”

So go forth and spread the good Trini word…  and, if you don’t, at least do a little steupse at anything that bothered  you today.  I guarantee it’ll make you feel much, much better.

Missed previous Trini Tales Thursdays?  Check out Office Life–insights on air conditioning, tea, and the correct way to open a door with a buzzer…

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Foodery today included an out-of-body experience with the new oatmeal (steel-cut oats after weeks of quick Quaker crap?  Be still my heart!):

Plus grapefruit, coffee, and email catch-up

And a green monster with about 1/3 cup of coffee added in (which, oddly enough, blended with the banana, soymilk, and spinach to  turn my smoothie into a refreshing mix  of chocolaty green goodness):

Green monster and water--all beverages enjoyed from bottles due to my bad tendency to spill EVERYTHING around my electronics

However, the key foodery event du jour was the sushi at More Sushi on Ariapita Ave. in Port of Spain, for which I dressed thusly:

Dress by me, finished five minutes before heading out the door; shoes Target; earrings were a sister gift; necklace is granny bling

And, speaking of that meal, Lord have mercy! I wish I could go around flaying fish for every meal, but until then, More Sushi will have to do–it was a pile of crazy, but a supremely inspired pile of crazy with chunky tuna, jalapeno, cucumber, some kind of roe, and a spicy chili sauce on top:

Trinis are great cooks, no matter the cuisine they make.  How they manage to improve on regular ol’ sushi is beyond me, but boy oh boy… Trini cooks have a sweet han’ fuh so (great touch in the kitchen).  May I live and learn…

Food Pilgrimages: The Bulk Shopping Excursion

Remember when I went on a wild goose chase for real oatmeal last month?  Today, I went on another pilgrimage, braving traffic and rastas selling all manner of cheap goods on the highway, straight across the island and out west…

This time, to Pricesmart.  Because today was ALL about the canned tomatoes.

Let’s back it up for some context, shall we?

Though my student days are over, my cheap budget days never will be.  I used to be motivated to penny-pinch by shoe lust; now, it’s fabric-mania and Target trip lust that keeps me and my wallet on our toes.  So, when I moved to Trindiad, I was more than ready to do as I had done everywhere else, and shop in a few different places to make sure I got all my deals.

In Trinidad, that means:

  • Sunday farmer’s market (at least twice a month):  for 90% of my veggies, plus fruit
  • Dodgy roadside veggie man:  for mid-week vegetable top-ups or for full veggie shopping on weeks when I’m too tired/lazy/hungover to get up early on a Sunday
  • Supermarket: for basic dry goods, eggs, etcetera once a week (if I’m organized).  I vary between two:  one has lower prices and frozen spinach/berries and HUGE lines to park the car, get through the damn store, and pay, plus I always seem to catch them on Very Surly Cashier Day.  The other one is closer to home and I don’t usually have to wait for a parking spot, but it has terrible selection and lots of freezer-burned items; also, they really hate packing my stuff into reusable bags (but get most surly if I try to pack them into the damn bags myself.

And then…. There’s Pricesmart.

The first time I went with The Most Fabulous S, it was love at first sight.  How could I have lived without a 10-lb. can of corn before?  And how did no one tell me that the way to buy beer, toilet paper, and deodorant was by the dozen? Oh, be still my heart.  We walked out of there like we’d just seen the Virgin Mary and the baby Jesus all rolled into one and they’d commanded us to shop till the back of the car dropped.

However, after subsequent visits, I realized that buying my vanilla creamer in liters was not exactly cost-conscious, unless I planned on drinking it straight up with every meal before it went off (or didn’t mind using three-month-old creamer, beating the lumps out, and risking food poisoning in the process).  Nor was buying 25 apples that went mushy AFTER I ate them raw/in oatmeal/in cobblers/in muffins/in my sleep.  And the corn?  Let’s just say that a ten-pound can (or ten one-pound cans) were actually the same price as buying (cue gasp) ten one-pound cans at Freezerburnmarket.

WHAT?

Yes, my friends, I was a victim of the Blind Bulk Buy Syndrome.  EVERYTHING seems like a deal when it’s in army-feeding size—but it not always is.

Since then, I taken a very good look at what I buy in bulk by weighing the cost difference between the bulk and smaller packages and by asking myself if, really and truly, it’s worth plunking a big amount of money down for a product I may not use all that much or really even need.  I’ve finessed my cheap-girl, bulk-buying habits to a beautiful, artful science and I even did enough math to make my head spin and reach for a whiskey to show you!  I’ve listed TT amounts; if you’re curious about how much that is in USD,  just divide the TT amount by six.

  • Canned tomatoes (10 14-oz cans for 56 TT=7 TT a can, as opposed to 11 TT a can at the supermarket.  That’s a whole 54 TT less at Pricesmart.  54 TT gets me enough fabric for a skirt—a very nice one.
  • Pasta:  32 TT for four boxes of any pasta, or 8 TT per box.  Much better than 13 TT per box at the supermarket.  Twenty TT gets me enough phone credit for a month (I don’t talk much, granted) or two lovely, bright n’ garish nail polish bottles.
  • Olive oil:  A gallon goes for about 120 TT.  A half gallon goes for that much at the supermarket.  120 TT gets me enough fabric for a shirtdress with a flouncy skirt, or a manicure (should I ever go back to the mean yet competent manicurist).
  • Shampoo:  same case as the olive oil.  I get twice as much of a good brand as I get of the paint-stripping cheap kind I (admittedly) buy otherwise. I told you, I’m CHEAP.
  • Cranberries:  Same as olive oil and shampoo.
  • Oatmeal:  OMG, I hit the holy grail today!  Steelcut oats, in flood-protecting-sandbag size, was finally found.  The price doesn’t even matter.  I’d give away my future firstborn (and my favorite red wooden platform sandals, the ones I can barely walk in but still kiss each day) to have non-mush oatmeal again.

All in all, I went in with the definitive list and came out with a few extra great deals (did I mention wine?  Decent wine for the price of the grape juice fermented in a microwave that passes for wine at the supermarket?  Yeah, I got wine!).   Best of all—I didn’t make the back of the car drag down low:

The Most Fabulous S would be proud indeed.

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In other happenings around here:

I had a pretty good 4-mile run!  I didn’t die, didn’t swallow any mosquitoes, and even ran into a few friends on the way.  Might this be a signal that 5 miles are coming soon?  And should I just keep that to myself so I don’t set myself up for embarrassment when I make it into the local papers for fainting/biting a dog/drinking out of the rain gutters from run-induced desperation and mania?  Oops.  Y’all know how I can’t keep these things to myself… So yes, expect me to log five miles soon.  (Just don’t expect me to live and tell the tale).

I tried my hardest not to look like a West Moorings housewife (read: expat white, filthy rich, deathly bored) by going channeling Puerto Rican charm (I hope) in a ruffly and booty-hugging getup today:

Blouse Kohl's, jeans Old Navy, shoes Target, earrings from street vendor in Salamanca, Spain

And I reveled in the freedom of working from home by making muffins this morning—apple and dried cranberry, full of (quick) oaty goodness:

Muffins plus mango. Plus dog--Umbi ALWAYS has eyes for breakfast.

So what if I forgot the sugar?  I gave them the slightest swipe of maple butter and that was more than enough.  It goes to show that most recipes call for WAY too much sugar (for my taste, anyway).

And, for the grand Cinco de Mayo dinner, an old favorite came out:  Drunken Bean Tamale Pie!

Carib beer isn't Corona, but it'll more than do...

So tasty.  It’s been too long, my old friend.

How do you food shop?  How do you determine what’s worth getting in bulk/paying more for/traipsing halfway across the city/state/island to get?