Grocery Fun

Grocery shopping is not my favorite chore of the week. In fact, it’s one of my least favorite chores. I can’t really say why other than the tediousness of navigating the crowds (since I have to shop on the weekend), the need to plan out a week’s worth of meals in advance, and the cost.

But in truth, I have a tendency to purchase similar items each week, relying on habit and luck to get me through. The only list I bring with me is the running list that lives on my refrigerator—the list where we write down the things that we need to purchase as we run out of that particular item. Between that list, the weekly “regular” items, and the items I pick up to create something edible for week night dinners, I am able to get through my grocery trip without wasting much time on planning.

Last weekend, W and I went to the grocery store on the way home from several other errands we had to do. It was dinnertime on Saturday, and I figured together, we could quickly conquer this weekly chore. We entered the store, acquired a cart, and we were off.

But the grocery list from the refrigerator was on a long, narrow sheet of paper, and it was only half filled. So I ripped off the bottom half (which was blank), and handed it to W. “Here,” I joked with him. “You get the items on this half of the list, and I’ll get the items on my half.”

He stared at the torn paper in his hand. Then, as I went off toward the produce, he veered the cart in the other direction. I slowed my pace, looked back, and he was looking around with a feigned look of slight puzzlement on his face.

Well, I don’t have time to fool around, I thought, and I continued on my normal grocery trajectory. I knew he wouldn’t be far behind. I picked up broccoli, tangerines, lettuce. Of course, I had no cart to put them in, so I was loading up my arms. I started to look at the green peppers, but I didn’t have two hands to manipulate the bag and check the peppers for firmness.

But then I spotted W, at the front end of the produce section. He was wandering around, still glancing at the ripped “list” in his hand as if there were something written there. We made eye contact, and I waved at him, motioning for him to come closer, and he did.

I dropped my produce into the cart. “I was needing a cart, and mine wandered away,” I commented.

“Well, I was trying to find the stuff on my list,” he turned his “list” to me, so I could see what he was in search of. On the piece of paper was a drawing of an array of fruit in the basket. “I thought it might be toward the other end of the store, but I couldn’t find it there, either.” He shrugged, the smirk on his face growing increasingly visible.

And how was I to respond to that? This crazy son of mine took a meaningless piece of paper and pretended to make meaning out of it. In the process, he took an ordinary shopping trip, and transformed it into something just a bit special.

Nuance

Last night after everyone had gone to bed, I found a note on my kitchen counter. This note was not written to me, however. It was a note written from one of the children in my house to another.

My daughter had come into the kitchen before bed to make her lunch, but then she realized she didn’t need a lunch. She had an appointment today, and we had arranged to stop and pick up some food on the way back to school. But she had forgotten… until she pulled out two sandwich bags into which she was going to pack lunch items.

Rather than place the bags back into the box, she left them on the counter for her brother. With a note, apparently, instructing him how to proceed.

But after her brother had come down to make his own lunch, the bags, and the note, remained on the counter. “Pack your lunch with these. They are not poisoned in any way,” she had written.

Huh…. If something wasn’t poisoned, why would you have to say it wasn’t? Wouldn’t that be the expectation?

Instead, I had to think the very thought that poisoning had crossed her mind might make her brother wonder at her true intent. It certainly made me wonder.

Poison or no, I think he was smart to leave the bags on the counter. (The note has been confiscated should it be needed for “evidence” at a later date).

{Written in response to today’s one-word prompt}

Skittles and Logic

I took my son to the orthodontist today, and when we emerged from the office, I was thinking about dinner. Mac and cheese—just in case the teeth were hurting—and … well that was where I was stuck.

“Do you want broccoli for dinner?” I asked. “Because the only option I have at home is zucchini, but we can stop and get some broccoli.”

I know he’s not a fan of zucchini, so I was not surprised when he said, “I’ll take broccoli,” even if it meant a stop at the market. But when we got to the checkout, he also took a Three Musketeers and a package of Skittles. He’d already been out biking after school, and I don’t buy him candy very often, so I bought them.

In the car, he opened the Skittles. I held out my hand expectantly, but he just looked at me, feigning ignorance. I raised my eyebrows, my silent gesture for, I-paid-for-those-I-can-take-them-away.

“What colors do you like?” he asked as he dumped a small pile into his hand.

“Red, orange, and yellow,” I answered, turning my eyes back to the road, but leaving my hand out. He plucked three Skittles from the pile and placed them in my hand. Two orange and a red. I ate them while we chatted about the day.

As we got closer to home, I held out my hand once more. Again, he placed three Skittles in my hand, this time, an orange, a red, and a yellow. We listened to the political discussion on the radio. He chewed away on his candy, but he didn’t offer me any more, and I didn’t ask.

We turned into our road, and he read the nutrition information on the package. “Whoa!” he exclaimed.

“What?” I asked.

“There’s one serving in this package, and it’s 250 calories!” He seemed momentarily surprised; then he hesitated while he considered the facts, a characteristic glint sparkled in his eye. “But… I shared them with you. That means I only had 125 calories!”

I opened my mouth to say something. Something about the six Skittles I had eaten to his all-the-rest. But I closed my mouth. I’d let him have his faulty logic. At least this time.

{Image credit: FreeImages.com / Ryan Vinson}

Car Snacks

fullsizeoutput_2ae5I recently renewed the registration for both of our cars. Since both cars are registered in my name, they both came due in my birth month. After I completed the registrations, they sat by my front door waiting to be moved to the cars.

A week or so ago, I finally went out and stuck the new stickers on my license plates and put the documentation in the cars, first my car and then the car my teens use. As I rooted around in the glove compartment for the little plastic sleeve that we have to hold the registration, I noticed two individually wrapped ring pops.

Back at the beginning of the summer when I was in the car for some reason, my son had shown me the various snacks he was keeping in the glove compartment—ring pops being one of them. Therefore, I was aware of the car food and not surprised to find the ring pops there. I was a bit concerned about their condition, but since they were unopened, I figured I would deal with them another day. I slipped the registration into the sleeve and shut the glove compartment.

Yesterday, my daughter had somewhere to be and it was snowing. She took the car that was better in the snow, and W and I took the smaller car on our errands. As we drove down the long road home, he decided to search the glove compartment, a hobby of his when he is in either one of our cars. Of course, he discovered the ring pops and decided he was going to help himself.

Keep in mind, we are several months from hot weather, and candy that has been in a hot car over the summer has likely seen better days. And W certainly found that out when he opened the first of the two pops.

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It was no longer its original shape, having melted several times over. The second wasn’t any different. While he did taste one before we threw them out, they were chewy and not what he was expecting.

Now I’m trying to come up with the best moral for this story. Perhaps it would be, Sometimes things don’t maintain their original form in a hot car. Or maybe, If you don’t throw out your car snacks before you go off to college, your little brother will do it for you.

Maybe we can just go with this one: Don’t store your candy in the glove compartment.

Christmas Cookies

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Each year at Christmas time, I bake several different kinds of cookies, which I immediately place in the freezer until Christmas Eve. On that day, I make up plates of cookies and distribute them to friends and neighbors.

The day before my son came home from college, I texted him a picture of his favorite Christmas cookies. (Please ignore the fact that one is missing from the cookie sheet. It accidentally slipped from the spatula into my mouth when I was freeing them from the pan. Quality control is imperative, you know).

“Yum!” he texted in reply.

When he arrived home the next day, we sat down to dinner, and when we were done eating, he looked around the kitchen. “Where are the Christmas cookies?” he asked.

“That picture was from last year,” I lied, realizing I shouldn’t have let him know his favorite cookies were in the house. In my head, I could picture nearly empty containers of cookies on Christmas Eve….

“Oh!” he exclaimed in deflated response. “I was looking forward to those….”

And then I felt bad for telling him I didn’t have any. What kind of mother was I, sending him a picture of his favorite cookies and then telling him they weren’t in the house? I was caught between a lie and the possibility that my cookies would disappear before Christmas Eve.

I took a deep breath to calm myself. “They’re down in the freezer,” the words escaped me in a very small, quiet voice.

I sat back and watched as he ate a cookie. Then another. And another. Finally, I spoke up. “You have to put the cookies back in the freezer now.” And he did. Of course, I haven’t checked the contents of the containers since that night about a week ago now, so I am only assuming he hasn’t had more since.

But having my cookie connoisseur home with me has its advantages, as well. Last night, I made a new type of cookie for my Christmas plates. When they came out of the oven, I cut one in half and tried it. It was good. I brought the other half into the living room for C, who was the only one still awake. He thought it was good.

Of course, half a cookie isn’t a good indication of whether or not a recipe is actually tasty. A little while later, C came into the kitchen and asked if he could have one of the cookies fresh from the oven. I nodded and steered him to the baking sheet that had been cooling the longest.

I was at the sink cleaning up the dishes. I pretended not to notice when he polished off his first full cookie and took another, but secretly, I knew these cookies were a success. Score one for the new recipe!

Chocolate chips or…

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Yesterday, I baked some cookies. Baking cookies at this time of year serves two purposes. First, it provides us with dessert for school lunches. But second, using the oven takes the chill off the house when the sun goes down in the evenings. And so far, I really haven’t had to use my heat much this fall.

I asked W what he wanted in his cookies: chocolate chips or M&Ms. He opted for chocolate chips. I asked J the same question.

“How about nothing?” she suggested. She is one of those kids who has never really cared for sweets. Regardless of what I add to the cookies, she’ll pick them out.

However, I had just stocked up on baking supplies for my holiday baking. “I have toffee pieces,” I told her. “I can use those instead of chocolate chips?”

She shook her head. “No thanks.”

“Cinnamon chips? I have some of those….”

Again, she shook her head.

I opened the pantry cabinet. “Ooo, I know! How about Skittles?” I ventured hopefully. “I could put Skittles in the cookies.”

“Mom, that’s gross.”

I suppose that would be. Or, maybe not….

Pillage

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This evening, I was rooting around in the fridge, and I came across a large bowl with a very small amount of pasta sauce. “This can go,” I announced. “Especially since someone ate all the sausage out of it.” I placed the bowl in the sink.

“Who would do something like that?” W asked, feigning disbelief.

“Hmm. I wonder…” I let my voice trail off. “Perhaps your brother?”

“Oh, that’s right! He comes home for less than 24 hours, pillages our food, and then goes back to school. He doesn’t have to deal with the consequences.”

I looked at my son, nodding. Pillage. What a fitting word for what goes on with the food in my house. From now on, I am going to use that word with all of my teens.

Stop pillaging and shut the refrigerator! See what I mean? Perfect!