Aug 29, 2014

9 Things Rhode Islanders Will Never Understand About Market Basket

Market Basket Drama

Market Basket is back baby! While I find this news exciting for my Massachusetts and New Hampshire friends, it's really not that valuable to me anymore, and it makes me a little bit sad. Why? Because I live in Rhode Island and there just aren't any around. There was supposed to be one opening just over the border in Attleboro, but for some reason after they built it (completely, I might add) they just neglected to open it.

So what are the facts:

  • Market Basket is a beloved grocery store by many New Englanders.
  • Market Basket is a family run company.
  • Said family is BSC (batshitcrazy). See? I actually think the term "Basket Case" came out of this family.
  • Most items are $2.99* (according to casual research done by me and my husband)
  • When it rains they put sawdust on the floors for absorbency reasons. (I'm not joking.) 
Let me tell you a little tale about our first experience with Market Basket.
My husband and I lived in Norton, MA for three years. If you've ever heard of Norton, MA there's a good chance you're a golf fan or you went to Wheaton College. That's about it. Bubba Watson and his friends (including Tiger Woods and Bill Clinton) are actually kickin' it in Norton as we speak at TPC Boston for the Deutsch Bank Championships which happens every year during Labor Day weekend. Anyway. When we first moved there we thought our only shopping option would be Shaw's. A few years ago there was a Shaw's on every corner in Southeast Massachusetts, now not so much. So Shaw's, ho hum Shaw's. We were used to that growing up in Rhode Island. In fact, Rhode Island's main options are Shaw's, Stop and Shop, and Dave's (I'm speaking from my South County point of view). Then one day I did some Google Mapping and saw that there was another grocery store a few exits down on 495. Market Basket. Never heard of it.

So in we went to the Raynham Market Basket. Our first thought? Have we stepped back in time? Are we visiting a grocery store museum? The store literally had not changed anything but the stock since the late 60's. Imagine linoleum tiles, those freezers from my childhood that were just sitting on the floor opened (not upright with doors), everything was orange and red, original clock on the wall (I can tell by the font). And the best part? The uniforms - they couldn't have changed since the 60's/70's! The fabric reminded me of what my great grandfather used to wear in his job as a mechanic. Each role had a different uniform - shelf stockers wore blue shirts and pants, the produce stockers were in red, and even the cashiers had a different look (although I can't recall that one now). 

Once we stopped gawking we were quickly jostled back to the reality that this place was BUSY. I mean so busy that you had to wait for a cart to become available, or go fetch one from the far reaches of the parking lot. So busy that you better know what you want off those shelves because the train of shopping carts behind you would bowl you over in a second. So busy that the meat counter looked like people were camped out for the original iPhone. It was INSANE. 

Hurricane? Blizzard? Nope, just stocking up for the Patriots Game at 8.

So after all this, why do I have such a fondness for Market Basket. Here are 9 reasons that Rhode Islanders (and most others outside the Market Basket radius) wouldn't understand - because "More for Your Dollar" doesn't exist is such perfect harmony here. 

1. I swear my grocery bill was cut in half compared to Shaw's and Stop and Shop (omg let's not even get into Whole Foods. Which I love. But come on.) = More for Your Dollar
2. With such high turnover the produce is really fresh.
3. Great meat selection (there's always an old-school butcher back there butchering away - unlike Stop and Shop/Shaws).
4. Unlike the other "cheap grocery stores" they carry most anything you would also buy at a Stop and Shop/Shaws).
5. Most of those items are $2.99. Seriously MB loves the price $2.99 (and so do I).
6. An insane amount of people work there, which means they don't skimp on service because their prices are low.
7. The employees are fiercely loyal to Market Basket (despite the fact they are required to wear ridiculously outdated uniforms). Whereas, the indifference of most grocery store workers in Rhode Island is palpable.
8. Once you've mastered the Market Basket Shop you can take on anything. 
9. The cashiers ring up orders with lightning speed and the baggers bag even faster. I mean look at that line above. They have to.

I'm so glad my friends can once again visit their local Market Basket. And to all of my RI friends who still can't believe I wrote a post about a grocery store I say to you, "You'll never understand." Oh and also, this isn't the first time ;)

Aug 27, 2014

What J.Crew Short length is right for you?

I've been wearing a lot of J.Crew this summer. Maybe it was their endless taunting with sale emails, maybe it was the new location that opened up a hop, skip and a jump from the office...

Regardless, they got me back into shorts. I can't remember the last time I was regularly wearing shorts! I've just always felt so awkward in them!

I tried a few different lengths with the J.Crew shorts and found a comfort in almost all of them! I have the 3" the color below Neon Pear, the 4" in brilliant coral, and the Andie (longer length) in a dreamy mint cream and Neon Flamingo. The only length that was not optimal was the 5". I still have them in Rose Tile with tags on and will probably resell them in the March time period (better resale value).

Here's my rundown of lengths:
3 Inch - Shortest length a 30 yr old Mom should venture to try. Felt really short at the start of summer but I always made sure to cover up my shoulders when wearing them as not to show too much skin! Great to wear to the beach, but I wouldn't wear them to a family picnic.
4 Inch - Felt more comfortable with the coverage and the didn't ride up nearly as much when sitting. A great all-around short. Good for hot days!
5 Inch - Maybe it's just my legs but the length felt bunchy and awkward. Not my favorite fit.
Andie (9 Inch) - Comfortable short for trekking around town (or to Block Island). Looks best with sleeveless tops. Great option if the weather is cooler or for evenings. Too hot for hot days (but better than pants I suppose!)

I also scooped up the t-shirt below. It's my new favorite. ♥
Endless Summer

J Crew white top

Chino shorts

Kate Spade slim wallet

Swarovski earrings

Ray-Ban retro sunglasses

Essie nail polish

Well my friends, here's to an Endless Summer (if that's your thing). I would gladly give up the Pumpkin Spice Lattes and scarves for a few more months of flip flops. See how positive I've been? I haven't even complained once about how COLD this summer has been. Do you know we haven't even had a single heatwave (my favorite!).

What's your favorite season?

Aug 25, 2014

5 End of Summer Salads that Aren't Sad

If you don't want to hear about my lettuce, I'll give you an out. Visit this post about tacos instead.

But if you LOVEEE salad as much as I do then buckle up because I've got some great Summer Salads for you! Ok now, I must admit, it's a little crazy to get so excited over salads, but let me state for the record that I enjoy a good salad and it's contents with near reckless abandon. I'm not counting calories, I'm not concerned about how much fat is in an avocado, I'm more into fresh ingredients.

I also know that August is the time of the year where "unofficial" Summer is winding down because kids are heading back to school. But this is also the time of year when local gardens are overflowing with fresh crops (in New England anyway...). Lately, I've gotten my fill of cucumbers, zucchinis, summer squash, and tomatoes - all delicious.

Most of the time I'm not following a recipe for my summer salads, usually just a formula of - something grilled (shrimp, steak, chicken work well), some greens (I love arugula, baby kale, or spring mix), something cruchy (peppers, carrots, celery, corn etc.) and something creamy (like avocado or a delicious dressing).

I will say that I did follow a recipe for the first salad and it was soo soo good. We made it for a group of 5 while on vacation in Maine.

If you feel more inspired by a recipe, check out these from Pinterest:

Aug 22, 2014

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)?

I saw this pin recently on Pinterest and immediately sent it off to my sister.

We're both Highly Sensitive Persons (People? Peoples?). Anyway, we both identify with at least some of the below from a great HSP resource, The Highly Sensitive Person:

  • Are you easily overwhelmed by such things as bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, or sirens nearby?
  • Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time?
  • Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows?
  • Do you need to withdraw during busy days, into bed or a darkened room or some other place where you can have privacy and relief from the situation?
  • Do you make it a high priority to arrange your life to avoid upsetting or overwhelming situations?
  • Do you notice or enjoy delicate or fine scents, tastes, sounds, or works of art?
  • Do you have a rich and complex inner life?
  • When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy?
I'd say I'm on the less severe spectrum of HSP. A Moderate Highly Sensitive Person. Bright lights, strong smells, coarse fabrics, and sirens aren't going to ruin my day or disable me, but I definitely notice them as undesirable. I kind of like the thrill of having a lot to do in a short amount of time. However, I cannot deal with violent or sad movies and TV shows. At all. Movies about animals or children in harms way, please just sedate me now. I've definitely used the coping mechanism of withdrawing into bed or a darkened room after a stressful day. I really find that it helps me to "reboot". Do I notice and enjoy fine scents, tastes, sounds or works of art -Yes! Do I have a rich and complex inner life - Yes! Was I sensitive (not so much) shy - Yes!

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? Take the Quiz to Find Out

Before realizing that HSP was a thing, I thought there was some defect in me. One of the great parts about being in your 30's is that you really start to understand yourself. "Oh you mean the fact that I find people incredibly draining doesn't mean I'm a psycho?" No, actually, you're an Introvert. "Oh and the fact that I sometimes go berserk over the sound of my husband chewing doesn't mean I'm crazy?" No, it's a condition called Misophonia (Maybe you have it too?

People are complex. It's a good thing! It gives us dimension. I love the study of personality and have taken numerous tests over the years for this that and the other thing.

In my 30 years, here are some of the things I've come to identify my personality with, whether it's cultural, geographical, medical or behavioral:

  • Introvert
  • INFP
  • Pisces
  • Dreamer
  • Migraineur
  • Creative
  • HSP
  • WASP
  • New Englander
  • Rhode Islander

Are you or someone you love an HSP? Take this quiz.

And remember, if you're not an HSP, it is a thing. We can't help it. We can't "toughen up" or just get over it. Because we feel so much, HSPs are often the most compassionate. So if you're not one, keep that compassion in mind and throw us a little when we need to retreat into a dark room to reboot!

Aug 20, 2014

A New Trend in Eventing: Sleeping

Guys, you all know my favorite shirt:
So when I read this article on BizBash - 

Could the Next Big Event Trend Be…Sleeping?  

you know I took notice. I've been on both sides of the eventing rigamarole and have a love/hate relationship with them. One thing I do know however is that the whole process can be exhausting, especially for an introvert like myself who gets great value out of events, but also finds all that interaction incredibly draining. 

I think back to my time at SXSW, one of the most exhilarating and valuable 4 days I spend each year. The flip side is this:
 Complete disregard for all human comfort. We would wake up in our less than luxurious rented house on the outskirts of town (housing in Austin during SXSW is problematic unless you book months in advance) and get to the Convention Center by 8:30. Almost run from session to session to get there early enough to get in (a seat if you're lucky), and then finally grab something to eat after the last session at 6:30. This year we had to say no to the many fabulous parties and other brand experiences because we just couldn't function otherwise. Sounds totally miserable doesn't it? Still, I can't wait to get my badge for 2015!

Mashable was on to something with their energy pods mentioned in the article above. The only problem there is that the Mashable House is always packed so imagine waiting in line for who knows how long to get your few minutes in an energy pod before being rushed out by the next person waiting in line. SXSW is just too popular (or crazy? wait... chaotic). 

But think of all the other conferences where sleep could be a fabulous offering! The perfect demographic is my fellow Mommy Bloggers. Conference sponsors take note: make sure your next swag is a nap. That's all we want as Moms. Some peace and quiet. Oh and maybe an outlet to charge my phone as I sleep. That's awesome too.

So let me make my grand claim: Are sleep pods the new photobooths?

Aug 14, 2014

My new favorite GIF

ITV / Via
Right? I feel you Mary.

And my thoughts on Downton are as follows. I was a HUGE fan of the show. I started Seasons 1 and 2 while I was on maternity leave and Season 3 was great until Matthew's actor owner Dan stabbed me in the heart and I've never forgiven him or the writers. I hope that's vague enough not to be a spoiler but UGH.

I guess I'll try to go the distance with Season 5... I never even finished Season 4 though so I guess I should get back at it.

Aug 6, 2014

Meanwhile in Rhode Island

Probably one of the more bizarre photos you'll see this summer. Oysters in the Narragansett Beach parking lot thanks to the Shuckin Truck • Raw Bar To Go ( and this is why I love Rhode Island). So what's the backstory? You too can find Oysters in the Narragansett Beach parking lot every Wednesday when the Food Trucks come to play! Last week also happened to be the start of movie night on the beach, which will be running through August (again, every Wednesday at North Pavilion).

Also inspired me to create my own meme for "Meanwhile in Rhode Island." If you like it, do me a favor and hover over it and Pin it!

Go ahead... wear your Party Dress to the beach

We've reached that stage.
That stage where Grace has a penchant for wearing inappropriately fancy party dresses to mundane events.
Party dress to the beach? Ehh sure, why not? You want to wear a big red tutu to go to the Zoo with Daddy. Knock yourself out.

Aug 3, 2014

The DIY Brick Fire Pit Project

How to Make a Brick Fire Pit in a Weekend

Once upon a time when we were childless and had a entire 3 day weekend free we decided to construct a brick fire pit in our backyard. This was Matt's idea, of course, after seeing a "simple" how to article in Handyman Magazine. Part of me kind of misses those days. When we would tackle intermediate level home improvement projects and gain valuable skills. For this one it was our first foray into cement and masonry.

I covered the experience on my other blog (pre-baby means pre-Grace and Josie blog) so I'll recount that tale here for you, albeit in a nice condensed, easy to follow along guide.

Welcome to the consolidated post for our DIY Brick Fire Pit. To be fair, you'll probably need a "3 Day Weekend", unless you are able to avoid some of the pitfalls we experienced! Another tip, make sure you seek out your materials ahead of time. Please message me if you have any questions!

First of all, here is the original plan from Handyman Magazine.

A time-lapse of the project.

DIY Brick Fire Pit Day One
Where you will find info about  DIY 36 round concrete forms.
(spoiler alert - you'll need this!)

DIY Brick Fire Pit Day Two
Everything you wanted to know about fire brick (did you know you can find it on Amazon?) and mortar!

DIY Brick Fire Pit Day Three
Finishing up this project

Aug 1, 2014

That Time We Sold Our House in 4 Days

Exactly one year ago today we put our Norton house up for sale. It was a Thursday.

That Time We Sold Our House in 4 Days

By Sunday afternoon we had accepted an offer and 30 day close. We didn't close on our new house until December, but that's a different post for a different day (maybe next week?).

What I will talk about is our staging process. It was one of the most challenging aspects of the home-selling process (aside from a nerve-wracking Septic Tank inspection), but as you can see a little hard work ahead of posting the listing paid off. BIG TIME.

I did plenty of research ahead of time to help me with our Staging Journey. Here are some resources I found helpful. Thank you Pinterest.

Here you can see most of the pics that went into our listing from my somewhat forgotten pre-Grace blog. I am hoping to get back to that blog soon, and probably will once we begin the Renovation Journey this Fall. (I love a good Journey as you can see.)

For starters, let's take a look at my kitchen on moving day.

Our kitchen before staging

Nice, huh? Makes you want to move right in. The lighting is bad, the trash is making the neat freaks start to shiver a bit, and the clutter is making you cringe. Right?

Now, on to the Staged Kitchen:

Damn girl! Once I saw this shot I almost didn't want to move. It had light, it had life, it was appealing! But more importantly Buyers could see themselves in this kitchen, cooking dinner, hosting a family party - whatever they could imagine - because it was nice looking, yet still neutral.

We made a similar transformation in our rarely used, junk-collecting guest bedroom.

Before and After Guest Bedroom

Without making a huge investment we were able to turn this eyesore into an inviting space. We spruced up the wall color with Sherwin Williams Watery and removed the 90's style border, rearranged the furniture, added some fun details, and swapped out the heavy curtains with something more ethereal. VoilĂ .

On Staging Day I moved through the house one room at a time. My husband was cleaning out the garage at that point in our moving process so I was a one woman show. When I first started I thought, this is going to be impossible, how am I ever going to take all of these staged pictures before 1. we lose light and 2. my deadline of August 1st!

I started with the living room and just removed any personal items, clutter, and set up my tripod with wide angle lens. All of the junk I had to remove went right into the Dining Room. My "Sausage Factory" if you will. Basically the place you don't want anyone to see - you only want them to see the final results. Once I finished with the Living Room it looked so awesome that it gave me the energy to keep on going. Room by room until I finally finished - while the light was still good I might add!

I'll leave you with a great pin that helps walk you through the decluttering process. An essential step in Staging your House to Sell.

Inspiration from the original article on my other blog:
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