Rationalizing Adorable, Impractical Online Purchases


Meaghan:: Um, can I buy baby booties for $60 with tax and shipping? No, right?

Mike: Hah I mean if you need them. If they are just cute, um, maybe close the tab


Mike: You know that baby clothes last for like, 5 days and then they grow out of it

Meaghan: Definitely. Also we just bought him functional winter booties that were a third of this price. Also they are 0-6 months and he’s 5 months and generally follows the size guidelines. But I mean, look at them.

Mike: Omg. Hah, they are very cute

Meaghan: I put in my card info then saw the shipping and tax and was like WAIT WHAT AM I DOING?

Mike: The Cost of Being Cute For One Month READ MORE


On Wearing a Uniform

indexAlice Gregory is living one of my dreams. Okay she lives many of my dreams but this specific one is about finding her uniform, which in her case is a black turtleneck, jeans, and black boots.

You save a lot of money by relinquishing trial-and-error shopping—those items you buy and never wear, try and fail to return. Gone is the mental math that goes into calculating how much you “paid per wear” for that sweater you only put on three times. And nobody thinks of a person who wears the same thing every day as unstylish. Rather, it’s simply a classification that does not apply.

If you too are a person for whom the idea of expressing yourself through clothes feels embarrassing or even just inefficient, then I recommend you find a uniform of your own. There will be some inevitable missteps, but the end result will be worth the effort. Think of it as shopping so you’ll never have to shop again.

I would love to do this. Or I think I would. I would probably get bored or never be able to find my uniform. Or maybe uniforms as a concept are only believable on slightly eccentric, successful older men or people like Alice Gregory, who project beauty and style all on their own. People for whom their hair is an accessory. I think if I did this I would just be a sad lady who wears the same thing every day. Like, Wow is Meaghan depressed? (Yes.) Does she ever do her laundry? Has she thought about trying a nice lipstick? Some color? My mom would be mailing me scarves, nominating me for What Not to Wear.


Which Halloween Candy Is The Most Expensive?

Halloween candy

I took my information from Target and Walmart; prices at other stores may vary.

Tootsie Child’s Play Candy Assortment, aka “stop pretending Tootsie Rolls are chocolate, you aren’t fooling anybody:” $8.98 for an unstated number of candies, or 15 cents per ounce.

Hershey’s Halloween Snack Size Candy Assortment, aka “this name implies there will be chocolate in this bag but it’s all Jolly Ranchers and Twizzlers:” $8.98 for 140 candies, or 6 cents per candy, or 16 cents per ounce.

Wonka Mixups Assorted Candy, aka “sugar powder molded into different shapes:” $9.79 for an unstated number of candies, or 20 cents per ounce.

Mars Halloween Trick or Treat Candy Variety Pack, aka “the good stuff,” $14.02 for 178 candies, or 8 cents per candy, or 20 cents per ounce.



Eat Spinach, Not Kale


Recently, the general public, especially younger people in the cities, have begun to embrace strong flavors previously thought of as icky, like bitterness, fermentation, funk, fat and umami, which are now all prized flavors. This is good. But Americans, as always, are unable to do anything in moderation, and, hypnotized by the constant racket of food television, food blogs, restaurant blogs, and have-you-tried-this, insist that if strong flavors can be good, then even stronger flavors must be better. This is why we can’t have a hoppy IPA; we have to have the hoppiest quadruple-IPA science can concoct. We can’t have a normal bowl of chili; we have to bump up the savory flavor with umami-heavy ingredients like marmite, soy sauce, and anchovies, and who cares if those flavors work together? And we can’t use spinach anymore, because there are greens that are stronger and more bitter, and thus better, like kale. Eating spinach is something your parents would do. Eating kale—stringy, bitter, aggressive kale—is the mark of an adventurous, flavor-forward connoisseur. READ MORE


Here Is Your Open Thread


He said they’re also planning to innovate on Halloween night. Turned off by the people who came to their door last year, many of them adults or kids in street clothes, and few who said “trick or treat,” he decided to try something new: candy tiers. This year, they’ll reward those who play by Halloween’s basic rules — wear a costume, say “trick or treat” and be more or less a kid — by giving them pretty good candy. Those with amazing costumes will get better sweets. Those who don’t dress up at all or are of voting age or older will get a consolation prize: Dum Dums, which our neighbor considers the dregs of the candy pile.

— Roxana Popescu, in the New York Times, talking about a neighbor’s tiered candy-giving system this Halloween.

Photo: Vicki Watkis


Love and Debt in a Nearly-Dissolved Marriage

couple at dinner

My husband should have known what he was getting into.

When we first met, he was working as a copywriter at an apparel company, and had already been there for several years. I, meanwhile, had recently been let go from my first post-college job, was collecting unemployment checks, and was picking up cash here and there by writing nightlife reviews and handing out samples at various supermarkets and Dunkin’ Donuts locations.

While not exactly making big bucks, Michael was the picture of stability. I, on the other hand, was all over the place, scrounging money where I could and trying to get my foot in the door of the publishing industry with a post-college editorial internship.

Even after I landed a full-time job with an academic book publisher, my pay was pathetic in comparison to Michael’s. This despite the fast-track promotions I received. It didn’t help that I was a shopaholic, and that even with a steady income, I lived paycheck to paycheck.

Still, as a possible sign of masochism, or maybe just questionable judgment, Michael asked me to marry him. And eventually, I came to feel what it was like to live in the shadow of my husband’s significantly larger paycheck. READ MORE


Will the Fireball Whisky Recall Affect Sales?


By now, you’ve probably heard that Finland, Sweden, and Norway have issued a recall on a specific batch of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky that contains a slightly elevated level of “antifreeze chemical” propylene glycol. See, Europe is a bit stricter about the amount of propylene glycol that can go in its beverages, and a batch intended for US consumption accidentally got sent to Europe.

Here’s a quick explanation in grams and solutions, courtesy of Lehigh Valley Live:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows propylene glycol in food and beverages in a solution of up to 50 grams per kilogram, [Fireball marketing services director Meredith] Moody said; the European standard is less than 1 g/kg. The domestic Fireball formula uses an eighth of the limit set by the FDA, said Moody, though she said she could not be more specific.

But antifreeze chemical! Isn’t that bad? Shouldn’t we all panic? ABC News quotes Cornell food scientist Motoko Mukai to set the record straight:

“I saw a lot of media that it’s found in antifreeze; [propylene glycol] is found in environmentally friendly antifreeze,” she said.

Whew. I mean, as long as it’s environmentally friendly.



Good Enough Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $199,000

everyone loves an old house Tara Gone With the WindI’m learning fascinating things from the Gray Lady’s Great Homes & Destinations: What You Get For $1,100,000. Like, first of all, you can pickle wood. Pickled wood is apparently a thing. Second, the taxes on an (admittedly palatial) one-bedroom penthouse in Chicago are greater than the taxes on a what looks like an actual palace in upstate New York. $3,000 a year greater, in fact. Kind of startling, no? The upstate house looks like the kind of place that should be rented out for weddings: it’s sprawling and immaculate, with a pool, a a koi pond, and a gazebo. Oh, and “a meditation garden”? idk

The taxes in Colorado on a four-bedroom house, meanwhile, barely register. They’re like what you might spend on dry cleaning in any major city.

What can you get for the more realistic price of $199,000? Let’s fire up the Good Enough Homes generator and find out!

arizona condo READ MORE


Places I’ve Lived: Detroit Edition

1fieldingFielding Street – Ferndale, Michigan – $200 + utilities (my share)
We lived in a brownstone off of Eight Mile in a decidedly not dangerous and predominantly gay area. To the west of us, houses began to fall in on themselves and the night became progressively darker. The streetlights were out.

My friend and I moved into a raised first floor brown brick row house. It was agreed upon by all her relatives that the raised first floor would keep us safe from people that molest at ground level but in the event that our building was set on fire, it would be easy to escape. These concerns were foremost in their minds.

I gave her the large room, twice the size of mine, because her mother was covering her part of the rent, and then she and I were illicitly splitting the rent again. She was the one who proposed this, but I was the one who got a dressing down from her mother, near the end of our lease.

“I’m sorry you don’t have a lot of money, but if you couldn’t afford it, you shouldn’t have tried.” A piece of her spit became glass. It entered through my eye and lodged in my heart.


2channingChanning Street – Ferndale, Michigan – “The Litterbox” $200 no utilities
A rich woman who liked the way I write offered to let me live in her house for $200 a month. Her previous tenants paid rent in ethereal promises to clean. The house smelled like rotten food because there were abandoned boxes of rotten food hidden throughout the house. The company was good, though. She kept wonderful people around.

There was a third bedroom, kiddy corner to mine, packed to the ceiling with zine making supplies, mannequins, light-up Virgin Mary statues and masks. My landlord decided to rent this room out as well and began piling items in front of my door. Eventually I could no longer exit my room from my door and began using the window. This was a peaceful time. READ MORE


Career Advice from Amy Poehler: Practice Ambivalence, Let Go

Amy-Poehler-celebrated-Seth-Meyers-after-showGod bless the genius Amy Poehler. Her advice to all of us — especially the ladies — is not lean in but rather take a deep breath, hang back, cool down. We do not have as much control over whether we succeed in our passions or our careers as we might like, so the only thing we can do is focus on the process.

If you are a reader who is not exactly sure what Sandberg actually does for a living, but knows it doesn’t sound like any fun, books like Lean In can feel less than helpful. If, in other words, you are more interested in a life of creativity than corporate dominance, you may find more to take away from Poehler’s advice to, as she writes, “treat your career like a bad boyfriend.”

What’s refreshing about Yes, Please, and a tiny bit radical, is the way Poehler doesn’t assume career follows passion. In fact, she writes, “your career and your passion don’t always match up.” Still, she counsels, you should work as hard as you can to follow your passion, and even then, “hard work doesn’t always matter.” So you should just let go. “Try to care less,” Poehler writes. “Practice ambivalence. Learn to let go of wanting it.” Because “career is the thing that will not fill you up and will never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.”

I would cry an hour later out of pure happiness and wishing I could have more cake, but that’s just me. Poehler sums up her philosophy this way: “You have to care about your work but not about the result.”


Friday Estimate

fall tripsGood morning and TGIF! Let’s do some estimations.

I’ll be getting out of town with a few friends this weekend, and heading upstate. I’ve already paid for the rental, and expect to spend money on coffee, apple cider doughnuts, a few dinners, and some train tickets. I’m not putting down a hard estimate, and will just plan to have a good time this weekend. We’ll see what happens on Monday!

And you? What are your estimates?