In Which We Talk About Being Sidelined

Last week, I had a grand old time with some at-home Zumba and a less-grand time with some kitchen cleaning.  One of the two did my knee in.  I hate to admit it, but I think it was the Zumba.

Since then, I’ve been sidelined.  Sigh

I’m not in any kind of serious pain, but I can feel my knee at times when I shouldn’t be feeling my knee, if you know what I mean.  Basically, my knee feels like it was taken off me, sloshed about in a martini shaker, and returned to me with an errant cube of ice still whooshing around in there.

This is definitely not the first time my knee has forced me to simmer down–I won’t go into the blasted boring details and I’ll just say that my IT band and patellofemoral pain syndrome have kept me on my toes as long as I have been exercising.  Nor is this by any means the most annoying of the knee injuries (I think my yoga-induced knee tantrum wins the crown on that one) or the most painful (the 2007 IT Band Flare-Up has literal pain in the ass covered).

Since Thursday, when this ignominy went down, I’ve been icing and stretching and treating my knee like the sad diva that it is.  Fortunately, it feels light-years better today than it did yesterday and exponentially better than it did the day before that, so apparently my knee really likes the frozen pea bag treatment and being pampered like it’s Saudi royalty.

Still, the temptation to have a pity party of epic proportions has loomed large.  At one point, I thought of taking an ad out in the newspaper to tell the world my woe.  However, I know that is NOT the way to go and it won’t get the Diva Knee back in working order any sooner.

So, instead of moping about how sad and lonely my Nike+ avatar is looking these days and shaking my fist at the sky every time the sun makes quality pool time tempting, I’ve been focusing on the bright side, in a more introspective way than I focus on the bright side, literally, for all things sartorial.

This boils down to some pretty good pluses (in ascending order of ridiculousness):

  • Total excitement about all things running/swimming/Zumba (the kind of excitement you only get when something is totally off-limits)
  • Time to regroup and be grateful for the fact that I can run at all (and to remind myself that I will get over this like I’ve gotten over the other Diva Knee performances)
  • More quality time with the Core Fusion Pilates Plus abs segment (only the exercises that don’t involve my knees)
  • More quality nose-stuck-in-book time (may I recommend “Eiffel’s Tower” by Jill Jonnes, about the Eiffel tower and the belle epoque shenanigans of artists and industrialists and Buffalo Bill in their Paris playground?)
  • More time to plan/obsess/plot my sewing (though this does NOT translate to tidier sewing area–I’m not that good)
  • Longer-lasting manicures and more time to do them (who knew hot pink with yellow dots would be so wearable?)
  • Less laundry needs to be done (no explaining needed here)
  • Considerable savings on water/shampoo/body wash now that I don’t need so much to remove my post-workout salt crust

So, if all goes to plan and the knee feels good on Friday, I’ll be out sweating and swatting bugs come Monday morning.  I can’t wait to shake it again–and I can’t wait to put that taunting little Nike+ avatar in her place, instigator that she is…

___________

Here are a couple of good reads for the injured and temporarily wimpy:

___________

How do you deal with being sidelined?

Back In Business–A Playlist To Beat Laziness

I almost gave in to laziness and fear and sleepiness and ridiculousness this morning–but I didn’t.  Ladies and gentleman, I went for my first post-Buffalo Trinidad run!  And to celebrate the occasion, there’s a new playlist involved…

When the alarm went off at 5:45, I was all “Hells no.”  I hit snooze.  When it went off again, I hit snooze, wanted to cry at the prospect of leaving my cozy bed, and negotiated with my half-asleep self that I’d run in the afternoon instead.  When it went off the third time, I decided I was not going to feel any better about this first run back in Heat Central, shook off my ridiculousness, and went out for the damn three-mile run.

One word for it:  amazing.

I thought the heat would be unbearable, as it was when I left in May, and I was concerned that the sun would be a bit much for my late-ish start.  No such thing.  It was sunny but not frying weather, there was a breeze (which was actually cool!), and the mosquitoes weren’t nearly as nippy as I expected them to be.  I broke a sweat before I was even breathing heavily and was practically exuding a river as I ran, but it actually felt great to sweat so quickly; it was like running in my own personal shower bubble.

So yes, I had to sacrifice about twenty seconds per mile of speed compared to my Buffalo times, but it didn’t matter in the least.  It was too awesome of a run for me to care.

And did I mention the scenery?  It was breathtaking on my route, now that the rain has pounded the island and greened up the mountains and trees and bushes, and I could smell all kinds of seasonal flowers all along the way.  It was as idyllic as running in Trinidad gets.  This picture is not of the route, but you get the idea:

Those are the mountains I see on my morning run

Misty gingers of the kind I see on my morning runs

So, in honor of today’s awesome run, I’ll give you my Guaranteed Laziness-Busting Playlist, which is sure to generate big-time badassery at even the ungodliest hour of the morning:

  • Rihanna–Hard
  • Bajah and the Dry-Eye Crew–Laba Laba
  • MIA–Stepping Up (*her entire new album kicks and thumps, I can’t recommend it enough)
  • Mapei–Public Enemy
  • Anjalie–Boom
  • DJ Waxfiend/Busy Signal–Sound of Sirens
  • Lazerproof–Tigerlily
  • Lady Gaga–Dance In The Dark
  • MIA–Born Free
  • Bajah and the Dry-Eye Crew–Bondo Kallay
  • Thunderheist–Jerk It

There’s no way you’ll be able to sit still through this mix, I promise.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

In Which In-House Zumba Goes Down

Maybe it’s the exhaustion setting in from my relentlessly-busy six-week-plus visit to Buffalo–OK, it’s definitely the exhaustion from that–but I decided to forgo my morning run and have one more sleep-in day today.

I usually feel incredibly guilty about sleeping in late, even though my work is 100% flexible; I guess I’m afraid if I sleep in one day too many, I’ll find myself wearing my bathrobe all day and never leaving the house.  However, I told myself that I could bring nice shoes (and workout clothes and books and plastic dishes and spices and everything else that makes your two suitcases badly overweight) from Buffalo ONLY if I left behind my big sack of perpetual guilt over ridiculous things.

Sorry, Mami:  I left the guilt squished into a tiny box in the attic, next to my kitchen wares.  Hope you don’t mind.

Back to sleeping in–I slept in.  And when I woke up (at a very reasonable 9:00 am), I couldn’t bring myself to leave the house and go for a swim.  This was (admittedly) partly due to laziness, but also (very reasonably) partly due to my fear of driving on the left so soon after spending six weeks driving on the right and NOT driving like a Trini.  I just didn’t feel like scratching up my car today.

Furthermore, at some point while I was flying over the Atlantic last Friday, I schemed up this elaborate plan to do Zumba on my own, no video, at home.  I know I was under the influence of heavy Dramamine, but it seemed like a great idea at the time–and it still seemed like a great idea last night.  I mean, I love the music, I attended twice-weekly classes for six weeks and have pretty decent memory for moves, and–most importantly–I wouldn’t need to leave the house.  Perfect.

So, this morning, I decided to set up my very own Laura and Lola Home Zumba Session (for more on Lola, check out my Target shorts and Old Navy top review–she glommed onto me that day and I just can’t seem to shake her off).  Basically, Lola is my good friend who is exactly the same as me, except she talks about embarrassing stuff and wears her inner big-mouth (and sometimes not much else) on her sleeve.  I try to stop her from being as foul-mouthed and frank as she could be, and I keep her well away from my prim and proper mom and all decent people.

Anyway, enough about her–back to the Zumba.

I set up the “studio” in Mr. Laura’s office while Lola looked for hoochie shorts in my drawers (she didn’t find any) and watched me fiddle with cables and move chairs around:

Uh-oh, don't tell anyone I showed you the home office...

The AV --so very hi-fi

Lola also helped me put together a playlist of Zumba tunes on Grooveshark and added as much ghettolicious reggaeton as she could find and I allowed.  I’m a decent woman, even if she sometimes isn’t.

Once we were ready to go, I set up my heart rate monitor, hit start on the timer, and told her to back her booty up and follow me for one hour of grooving and shaking to salsa, reggaeton, merengue, and cumbia, as well as a few of the silly Zumba-only songs.  Might I add that the hour flew by and we had great fun?  And that we did not break anything in the man’s office (though our blasting tunes most definitely woke him up)?

Anyway, we had a grand old time raising our heart rates (almost as high as when I go running!) and I even managed to get her to stop shaking her booty at me for long enough to gather our thoughts on our home Zumba session.

Pros:

  • I could do this any time, in any weather, without leaving the house–and in the air-conditioning, too!
  • I could do this by myself (or with Lola–you know what I mean).
  • Doing this by myself means that my moves can be as crazy/ridiculous/high impact/low impact as I want or need them to be.  Therefore, I need not be embarrassed by my booty’s propensity to shake (intentionally and unintentionally).  I can also let Lola go crazy with her reggaeton and wining moves without horrifying the sweet YMCA ladies–or the sweet YMCA instructor.
  • I can wear as little as possible to keep cool.  For me, that meant sports bra and capris; for Lola, that meant rolling up my workout Bermudas into booty shorts (there really is no stopping her, sheesh).  All done safely out of sight of all the neighbors and respectable folk!

Cons:

  • I had to do it by myself.  That meant improvising moves and trying to remember them without having anyone to follow.
  • I didn’t have anyone to show me new moves, so I had to think fast and hard to come up with different steps.  Lola was absolutely zero help here–when in doubt, she sticks out her posterior and shakes it.
  • I didn’t have a mirror in my home “studio” (the window did not work to reflect my moves in broad daylight-go figure, right?) So, while I might have felt like Shakira bustin’ my moves, I may well have looked like Dame Edna bustin’ my moves.  I know that part of the beauty of at-home Zumba (and any Zumba class, to be honest) is that how you look doesn’t matter, but I don’t want to get in the habit of dancing like a sixty-year-old Australian cross-dresser, thank you very much.

All in all, I give my at-home Zumba attempt a B+.  I’m shocked that I managed to dance by myself with Lola for a whole hour and that I was at no point bored, and I’m pretty surprised that I remembered so many of the Zumba moves.  I’m gently kicking myself for not ordering a Zumba DVD while I was in Buffalo (Amazon doesn’t do Trinidad), so I’m going to get it for myself as a Christmas present and check out some YouTube clips for new moves in the meantime.

In any case, at-home Zumba will definitely be a staple of my fitness repertoire from now on, especially since the rainy season downpours make a daunting proposition of scheduling decent pool time.  And, with Carnival coming in eight months (and Christmas and my mom’s amazing array of pork dishes for the occasion in between) I need all the shaking and toning I can get.

I really hope Lola lays off the booty shorts, though, because now I’m tempted to get a pair for myself.  She is such a bad influence.

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!

The Cheapskate Product Review: Old Navy Tanks and Target Shorts

Important message:  In all my cycling frenzy of the past few weeks, I may not have noted that I’ve kept running (and Zumba-ing).  Let it be noted that I’ve run (less on days that I’ve cycled hard, more on the others) and I’ve Zumba’d.

Having run and Zumba’d, I’ve also had the wonderful opportunity to test out new gear for such undertakings.  And, so intent was I in ensuring total honesty in these two product reviews, that I enlisted the help of my “good friend”–can we call her Lola?–for an even more frank review of one of the products.

Now, a little info on Lola:

She is exactly the same as me in height, weight, and build.  She runs every single run with me and shakes her booty at every single Zumba class.  She actually has the same voice as me and thinks the same thoughts–how uncanny! We look the same, have the same birthday and horrendous eyesight, are both terrified of snakes, and have husbands with the same name. Sometimes, just sometimes, an innocent observer might possibly be deceived into thinking that we are, in fact, the same person.

Rest assured:  Let me tell you that we’re not.   Because she talks about stuff that would make me raise my eyebrows and blush.  Lola will tell it like it is, talk about icky stuff that I couldn’t bear to even think about, and put aside her classiness for blunt sassiness (and assy-ness)–all for your sake, dear reader.

So we did rock, paper, scissors to see which of us would test which product.  It took a while to get it right (being pretty much the same person, we do, after all, make the same exact moves as each other every single time, which makes for a VERY long match of rock, paper, scissors), but in the end it was decided that I would review the top and she would review the shorts.

Since she’s extremely camera-averse, I modeled both for us:

Onto the top, then!  I bought this running top from Old Navy a few weeks ago when it was on sale for $4.99–with shipping for two shirts, each one came to about $6.00, which is–cha-ching!–a bargain for a technical-material top.  When they arrived, I ripped open the package, beamed at the look of them, and took in the pleasant aroma of synthetic sweat-proofing.  Ahhhh….. I then proceeded to wear the top on a run.  Here’s the lowdown.

The pros:

  • I love how it looks and fits.  I’m not into baggy anything, much less in exercise clothes, so the snug fit was very much appreciated.  I felt all sleek and full of the running business.
  • I think the print rocks.  You may have noticed that I love me some crazyprint.  And if that crazyprint should be educational to little children (or keep them away from me as I run, as well they should), then my work in this world is done.
  • I felt as dry as a lizard crossing the Sahara for the whole three-mile run (on a nice, breezy, 70 F afternoon) AND for the subsequent Zumba test (in the still, warm, who-knows-how-hot YMCA studio).

The cons:

  • The length is really nice.  However, that same nice length conspired with the snug fit to ride up as I ran, despite the fact that it wasn’t small on me.  It’s something that happens to me a lot, as it must to other girls whose hips are THATWIDE compared to their waists, but it was still annoying.  Then again, I was trying to hide my Spibelt underneath it, and that may have been a factor in the whole ride-up business.  Either way, it detracted from the run, especially from the whole people-watching and looking-before-crossing-busy-intersections aspect of it.  When I wore it to Zumba, it stayed in place a bit better.  Maybe it just doesn’t get along with the Spibelt?  Shame.
  • It has a built-in bra.  I seriously despise built-in bras.  Come on, manufacturers!  It doesn’t matter if we have A cups or DD cups:  we should ALL be wearing sports bras while we exercise.  After all, what is the point of having sick thighs if our bosoms hang nice and close to them?  Not only do I hate that built-in bras encourage women to sport inadequate support, I hate that it provides an extra layer of fabric.  My bulletproof sports bra has enough layers of fabric as it is for me to need more material to sweat on, thanks.  So I may be doing some scissor surgery on that.

Overall, I give the Old Navy running tops four out of five coconuts (one being “rag-worthy,”  five being “I wish I were Paula Radcliffe so I could wear this ALL the time without being a dork.”)

I wore the shorts, too, but I’ll leave it to Lola for the review of the Target bermuda workout shorts, which we both snagged for $14.99. (Separately, duh.  We wouldn’t share running shorts.)

The pros:

  • They look sexy, she says, like she stole a hot golfer’s shorts and nipped them in to make them fit her.  The length is perfect on a shorty like her, and she appreciates that they let her knees stay cooler than her capri-length running pants do.
  • They are very, very soft.  She noted that she wishes her pajamas were made of such soft–yet strong–material, though of course she would not actually sleep in these shorts, EVER.  We both agree that workout wear is for workouts only, for us–that, and the occasional watering of the lawn or collecting of mail, but only if no one else is around.  (She knows that neither of us is Paula Radcliffe–and feels the same as I do about such things!)
  • She said they kept her as dry as an armadillo crossing the Mojave.  Seriously, seriously dry during her run and Zumba (in the same conditions as my run and Zumba, of course).  So dry she could have taken them off and used them to swaddle a squeaky-clean baby–0r a prized pet puppy.

The cons:

  • They look less sexy when worn with a knee sleeve, like she does (and as I do too).  She thinks it draws attention to her knee, makes people think she’s gimpy, and draws their attention to her knee when she’d much rather they direct her attention to her toned booty (she’s rather vain, I know.)
  • They’re entirely black.  She looked online for the link to provide for y’all and saw that they were available with nifty colored waistbands and almost broke her foot when she stomped on the ground in frustration.  What can I say?  She too loves the bright colors and prints, like me.
  • She was rather disconcerted at some, er, unflattering business that the shorts created in the booty and nether regions as she ran.   They fit fine around the waist and hip and rear, yet they still managed to ride up in an unseemly fashion, despite being seemingly seamed to prevent such ridings-up.  Basically, she was distraught at the fact that she may not have kept her hoo-ha to herself during her run on a very busy street at a very busy time, and that there was no place to discreetly rectify the problem, since the shorts are so snug that it would have been VERY obvious–not to mention difficult–to prise the shorts from the affected regions without being questioned by police for indecent behavior. ( I’m not sure what she’s referring to.  I have no knowledge of such issues.  I just take her word for it, not that it could possibly ever happen to me.  They were fine for Zumba, mostly, not that I’d ever tell y’all of such problems.)  She thinks the problem may have been a matter of the Spibelt and shorts not being compatible, and I might have to agree with her.

Overall, Lola gave the shorts three coconuts out of five. It’s probably a generous score, but she thinks that the pros outweigh the cons and doesn’t mind risking a bit of feminine indiscretion.  Mostly, she hopes the seams will stretch a bit in a wearing or two so that the three coconuts can be based on comfort as well as on looks. I hope it works out because I know that deep down, she truly does value her modesty.  (As do I.  Duh.)

_______

See?  Lola and I will try anything to help you out in your sporting pursuits!  We just need to convince her to show her face on the blog–just don’t hold your breath on that one.  She might tell you about her hoo-ha, but she’s otherwise quite shy…

To Race Or Not To Race…

That is the (cliched and trite) question.

Post-CLICO race in January, with tacky race hat and watermelon

I am in a bit of a quandary.  There’s a race going on this Saturday and I have been procrastinating like crazy about signing up.  I should have signed up this weekend, but didn’t feel like heading to the mall to sign up (many races here have you sign up at one of the chain sports stores.)  Then on Monday, I took too long buying fabric and reasoned that I’d miss my chance to get a good swim in if I went to sign up.  Today, I didn’t want to tack on the trip to a routine outing, and traffic looked crazy, so….

Excuses, excuses.  I know that the problem isn’t my general distaste for sitting in traffic to go to the mall.  The problem is that, for the first time since I started racing almost a year ago, I’m not sure I want to sign up for a race.

And a race at 2:45 pm?  In the 94 F, full-blaze sun and heat of Trinidad?  You get the picture.

So, instead of making myself nutty and muttering to myself/the Husband/the dog about how I’m going back and forth on signing up, I though I’d come up with some pros and cons–and put the question to you, my informed peeps!

Pros of racing this Saturday:

  • I haven’t raced since January.  It’s been too long since I’ve witnessed a good soca-music pre-race warmup, felt the jittery race excitement, and felt like a celebrity while the Husband snaps away and acts like my personal paparazzi.
  • Because I haven’t raced in a while, my tacky race T-shirt collection is sadly stalled at the moment.
  • After races, we always hit up a great local pub for big greasy burgers and plenty of ice-cold beer, and the food never tastes as great as it does after a race.
  • I ran a 3 pm race back  in September with a touch of a stomach bug, and it was one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life.  I’m dying to prove to myself that THAT awful race was a fluke and that I’ve become a much more finely-tuned (and better  hydrated) runner since then.
  • I best get my Trinidad 5K on–because the next scheduled one at the moment isn’t going down until mid-September.

Cons of Saturday’s race:

  • The heat. The heat. The heat.
  • The smog and traffic and pollution of a 2:45 pm race–I’m not sure I want to spend a week hacking up the finest of T and T’s dust and diesel.
  • I don’t need another tacky race T-shirt just yet, as I snagged an election T-shirt last weekend and it is quite possibly the coolest/tackiest thing I’ve ever laid eyes on.
  • I’m getting over a stomach bug, so I don’t feel my strongest, and I’m ridiculously scared of reliving THAT race (3 pm Newsday race death-on-the-road) again.
  • I don’t see why I need to prove to myself that I can do something as uncomfortable as raise my heart rate to 180 bpm for 30 minutes in that heat.  It’s a bit silly, frankly, when I think about it–if it sucks, I don’t see why I need to do it.
  • There are quite a few races in Buffalo during the weeks that I’ll be home.  So, though the next T and T race isn’t for months, I’ll get plenty of chances to race in the comparatively cool and breezy Buffalo summer.

As you can see, there’s plenty of basis (silly or not) for my indecision.  So tell me, guru-peeps, what would you do? And have you ever felt similarly about a race or sporting event?

____________

In the sphere of things that I decisively did today….

I ran a pretty nice three miles.  I had really wanted to run four miles, but I set off a bit nervous about the echoes of the stomach bug. So I told myself that I’d feel better for at least trying (and promised myself that I would not think myself the World’s Biggest Wimp if I decided to walk–it’s not that I think that walking is wimpy, but if I’m going to get up at 6 am it’s going to be for a run, not for a walk that I can do later in the day).  Well, the stomach was absolutely fine until mile 2.75, at which point it complained a bit.  I decided I’d rather walk away happy after three miles than miserable after four, so three were run and one was walked.  It felt great not to self-flagellate, I tell you.

I wore clothes, but they were a step up from pajamas.  I wore what was technically a beach/house dress, but as it’s a bit on the skimpy side on top, there’s no picture (sorry, but nope!)  I have to say, after a day in what amounted to pajamas with a zipper, I felt pretty rank.  I need clothes and all the attendant glamour of , um, wearing mascara, so I showered at 7 and started fresh, mascara and all.  I felt infinitely better.  Lesson learned.  Proper clothing (and mascara) will be de rigeur from now on.

The sole food picture of the day today comes courtesy of my lunch–fried eggs with bruschetta on the side:

I know that bruschetta belongs on proper Italian bread, but it’s either sandwich bread or nothing at all here, so I suspend all my food snobbiness for bruschetta.  And you know what?  It was pretty awesome, and will definitely be happening more often.

Night y’all!

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.

_____________

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?