Double dip — February 15, 2023

Double dip

I am a woman of an advanced age and I eat Fun Dip.

To be clear, I don’t eat Fun Dip every day or even every year. Also, I’m not sure anyone actually eats Fun Dip. Instead, it’s more like one consumes Fun Dip, a powdered candy that comes in different flavors and is accompanied by a crunchy candy stick that is equally delicious. By the way, whilst researching the candy for this-here column, I learned that Fun Dip is similar to the powdered candy found in Pixy Stix. No, I hadn’t put that together on my own.

Anyway, whilst strolling the aisles of a store, a box of Valentine’s Fun Dip caught my eyes. Whilst on a video call with my adorable great-niece and great-nephew (emphasis on great), I asked if they liked Fun Dip. When they answered in the affirmative, I then inquired about their favorite flavors. My niece prefers the red flavor – cherry aka my favorite – and my nephew prefers “boo.”

Firstly, I had no idea what flavor boo aka blue represented. Secondly, I immediately decided a box of Fun Dip packets would make the perfect Valentine’s Day present for these adorable children.

The next time I strolled the store’s aisles, I grabbed a box of Valentine’s Fun Dip. I learned that boo is RazzApple, a combination of raspberry and apple, and that the packets could be personalized.

With the Fun Dip in my possession, I set to work personalizing the packets for the children. I decided to address the red packets to my niece and the boo to my nephew.

A few days before Valentine’s Day, I told them I would give them a surprise after they ate supper. My niece actually asked if it was a good surprise or a bad surprise. As if I, their great-aunt (emphasis on great), would give them a bad surprise.

They seemed pleased with the surprise. My nephew was almost as excited to read his and his sister’s names on the wrappers as he was to make that delicious stick disappear. My niece, an avowed fan of the red, decided to try the boo flavor.

As did I.

Firstly, it had been a few years since I’d consumed Fun Dip. Secondly, I wasn’t prepared for the sourness of the apple part of RazzApple. As a result, when that powdered candy hit my taste buds, my lips puckered and my eyes closed tightly. When I opened them, I saw my nephew with his hands clasped over his adorable face.

I’d made him laugh.

Happy Valentine’s Day to me.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Here to stay — January 25, 2023

Here to stay

In case you haven’t heard, our long national nightmare is over – Fritos barbeque flavored corn chips are back on a permanent basis.”

I’m not sure when this event of epic proportions occurred. Therefore, I’m not sure if it qualifies as breaking news. All I know is that in early December, as I stood at the dollar store checkout, my eyes spied two small bags of barbeque Fritos, as it’s known by fans. Fearing the company was teasing me by offering the chips on a limited basis, as they did in 2020 and 2021, I snatched both bags and added them to my order.

Oh, how I savored every chip as it would be the last. For, you see, I remember when Frito-Lay pulled the chips from the shelves, thereby breaking my heart and messing with my mind. Allegedly, this heartbreak occurred in 2018, but my taste buds say it’s been longer.

Regardless, I was in need of some barbeque corn chips in my life after Frito-Lay’s betrayal, so I tried Fritos’ chili cheese and honey barbeque varieties, but I didn’t care for either. And although I have eaten other companies’ barbeque corn chips, this has only occurred on an emergency basis. Along those lines, I will also only eat the original Fritos in an emergency because they leave an aftertaste.

In case you’re asking yourself, “Self, what exactly is a chip emergency?” here’s an example: Someone invites you to his or her house. You offer to bring chips and are told the chip situation is under control. You arrive at the house to discover Fritos Scoops being served with delicious bean dip. You find yourself in the middle of a chip emergency. The Scoops, aka oversized original Fritos, will leave an aftertaste, but you can’t not eat the delicious bean dip and you need chips to do so.

Anyway, after my find at the dollar store checkout, I didn’t expect to run across more barbeque Fritos. Once again, however, I was in for an early Christmas present. As I walked down the dollar store’s chip aisle, I spied several adult sized bags of the chips. I grabbed a bag without even checking the price.

When I relayed this to a group of friends, they legit gasped. Yes, dear readers, my cheapness is well-known among my friends. But what was I supposed to do? Not buy another bag after a years-long separation?

Since then I have bought only one more bag of the chips. I’m proud to say that the bag lasted four days. That’s a record around me. No, I haven’t gotten my feel of the “tangy, flavor-packed twist on Fritos’ classic corn chip,” to quote Frito-Lay. But I can buy a bag whenever I want because the chips are here to stay. I know because I checked the definition and that’s what permanent means.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Crisis management — January 18, 2023

Crisis management

I experienced an existential crisis last month whilst shopping for post-holiday sales.

Or as I called it, Monday.

This particular crisis occurred as I considered whether I should buy drastically reduced Christmas gift tags. The price was right and the tags were super cute. But when I did the math, I realized there were so many tags in that packet that I probably wouldn’t have to buy any for a decade. I legit said, “Oh, no,” returned the tags to the hanger, and marched out of the aisle without looking back.

You should know this is not the first time gift tags have caused me to experience an existential crisis. Years ago, I purchased a roll that contained oodles of tags. Finding the deal filled me with unbridled glee especially when I realized I could use that roll for years.

The dread set in a couple years later. I said to myself, “Self, how old will you be by the time you’ve used all these gift tags?” After I had pulled out the abacus, done the math, and figured out I’d be eligible for Social Security before I needed to buy another gift tag, I decided to accidentally leave that roll of tags at a relative’s house. Deal be derned.

Since then, I’ve bought gift tags on a year-by-year (or two) basis. Of course, that produces another kind of crisis. Last year I thought I had tags. I didn’t. I had to scramble to find some at the last minute. Well, at what I consider the last minute. (By the way, the tags I procured looked like little books. They were so fancy and shiny that two people, upon seeing them attached to gifts, asked, “What are those?” Uh, gift tags…from a dollar store, but not my favorite dollar store.)

Anyway, I can buy in bulk if it’s something like ibuprofen or toilet paper. You know, items I use on the daily. But not something I don’t use frequently. For reals. I’ve been working on a thousand-count box of toothpicks for approximately 15 years. Even the late professional wrestler Scott Hall aka Razor Ramon would have needed some time to make his way through that mocking box of toothpicks. The money I saved on those tiny pieces of wood wasn’t worth the damage to my psyche.

By the way, last month, on the day after Christmas, I did find a deal on one sheet of tags that should serve my gifting needs for the next couple years. That’s as far in the future as I care to plan.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Missing out — February 10, 2021

Missing out

Last Saturday, I accidentally left my phone at the house when I went to run errands. Luckily, I remembered my mask and my shopping list.

Although I vowed to never become one of those people, the truth is that I’ve grown accustomed to my phone. Indeed, I initially panicked when I realized I had left it charging. What if an emergency occurred? What if I happened upon an accident? I was going to be shopping for my mom and sister as well as for myself. What if they remembered an item they had forgotten to add to their list? How would they get this news of epic proportions to me?

Thus, I considered heading back to the house to retrieve the phone. But I had made plans to meet a masked personage in a parking lot to make a quick exchange – mind your own business – and I didn’t have the time to spare.

After the exchange, I made my way into the store and, well, I’m happy to report that I survived without a phone.

Sure, searching for one-minute oats, which was included on my mom and sister’s list, can only be described as perplexing. Although I combed over every shelf in the oats section, I did not find any that were timed. I did, however, find two-and-a-half-minute Cream of Wheat.

Anyway, I settled on a container of quick oats and I’m still unsure if I made the wise choice. I guess having a phone would have helped make that task a little easier, as I could have called them for advice.

Also, before I left the house, I sent messages to my sisters and niece, asking what they wanted for dessert (pronounced as zert at the Goff Estate). Again, since I didn’t have the phone with me, I couldn’t receive their responses. So, whilst at the store, I decided I would have to create another mouth-watering zert from ingredients I had on hand. (And that’s exactly what I did, whipping up a batch of my award-worthy chocolate chip cookies.)

Otherwise, only one glitch occurred. My sisters, nieces, and I play a scavenger hunt, of sorts. Basically, when we spot our find whilst out and about, we share the news with the others. Sometimes, we even include photographic evidence. (Relax, we don’t do so whilst driving.)

Well, I spotted a find, but since I didn’t have my phone, I couldn’t take a photo or even share the news semi-immediately.

Forget the timed oats.

Forget the zert.

It was then that I most missed my phone.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

No time like the present — December 23, 2020

No time like the present

This is the first post I’ve penned on an actual computer since July.

Allow me to explain.

On a sultry summer Sunday evening, I was putting the finishing touches on a post when my aged laptop quit working. I figured the ole girl needed a break and would be up and running at suboptimal speed within hours.

That didn’t happen. Indeed, she wasn’t up and running at any speed days later.

I considered sending her in for repairs, but an IT expert/friend of a friend advised that it would be more cost effective for me to replace her.

As I appreciate the words “cost effective,” I did a quick search, saw that my preferred company had laptops on sale and planned to order one the next day.

The sale ended before I could place the order, because of course it did.

With no plans to pay full price, I decided to wait for the next sale. But what to do in the interim? How could I pen a post for my dear readers without a computer?

Well, for a few weeks, I used what amounted to a loaner. But I felt like I was taking advantage of the lender. So, then I started penning these-here posts on my iPad.

If you’ve never written anything on a pad or a tablet, imagine sending a 400-plus word text on your phone. Every week. For months. But that represents the lengths I’ll go to for my dear readers.

Who knows how long I would have made these sacrifices if not for my mom and a Black Friday sale.

Of course, at first, I did not react well to my mom’s generous offer to buy me a laptop for Christmas. I think I asked rhetorically, “Do you know how much laptops cost?”

To which she retorted, “No, because you won’t tell me.”

Our heated exchange might have also included her telling me she would spend her money however she expletive well felt like spending it.

Anyway, I consulted my preferred company’s Black Friday sales page, retrieved my abacus, and deduced that, at the sale price, she wouldn’t be dropping an obscene amount of money on me. After all, it’s not like I had my eye on a model that would allow me to play video games or launch rockets. So, I told her I would give her permission to buy me a laptop. She might have rolled her eyes.

No, it’s not yet Christmas. Yes, I am already using the laptop.

This has caused a minor controversy between us. My mom is concerned because I won’t have a gift to open from her. But I opened the box when it came to my house, so that counts, right? Besides, if she wrapped the laptop, that would constitute wasting wrapping paper and tape, which is not cost effective.

Happy Holidays!

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Mix and match — July 1, 2020

Mix and match

If you’ve learned anything about me, dear readers, then you should know that I’m a tad thrifty. Sure, sometimes I splurge. In fact, I’ve come to realize – at my advanced age – that potato chips taste better if they come out of smaller bags.

Thus, I’ve been splurging on those jumbo packs, which contain smaller bags that are made to fit inside a child’s lunch box. Buying the snack size has the added bonus of preventing me from splurging on an entire adult size bag of chips in one sitting. Sure, sometimes I realize I want and/or need a second bag of the snack size to feed my chip addiction, but generally one bag does the job.

Anyway, as you might have deduced, I’m one of those annoying thrifty people who enjoys telling everyone how much money she saved on various and sundry items. So, as I was putting away my groceries today, I said to myself, “Self, you must tell dear readers about Super Dollar’s amazing Pick 5 deal.”

Here’s the gist: Pick 5 allows shoppers to mix and match specially-marked meat items for only $19.95. According to the abacus, this means that shoppers pay only $3.99 for each item!

Yes, you read that right!

Although I’ve been taking advantage of this incredible deal for oodles of months (please forgive me for not mentioning it sooner), its mere existence never fails to surprise me. When I reach the check out, I always triple check the monitor and, later, my receipt to make sure it hasn’t been a cruel joke.

So far, it hasn’t. What’s more, several months ago, I happened to be shopping on a day when the Pick 5 deal allowed shoppers to mix and match specially-marked items for only $14.95! I’m not going to lie, I feared I’d be arrested for theft as I exited the store. I also feared I might pass out from excitement.

I usually mix and match chicken breasts, pork chops, and bacon. And since I cut the breasts into smaller tenders, which I then spread across two meals, I’m spending less than two bucks for a meal – of chicken!

Shoppers can also select from, among other items, certain roasts and steaks, ground beef, wieners, and, wait for it, non-meat items such as cheese sticks and microwave-ready/pre-packaged mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and pulled pork.

As great as this is, if they ever offer my brand of potato chips as part of Pick 5, I might never recover from the excitement.

Note: Super Dollar has locations in Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

There’s an app for that for a reason — May 26, 2020

There’s an app for that for a reason

If you read this-here space last week, you might remember that I left you with a cliffhanger. Due to my own actions, I had lost my Walmart Grocery Pickup timeslot. Thus, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to procure a Barbie for my great-niece’s kindergarten graduation or bananas for a nanner pudding.

As it turns out, my sister had scheduled a pickup time (no surprise there), so she added the Barbie to her order and my great-niece squealed with delight when she received her surprise. And as it turns out, I had already scheduled a trip to the Food City, so I added bananas to that list.

But what of the third part of my cliffhanger? Did I obtain a replacement time slot?


You might be saying to yourself, “Self, I wonder how it went?”

Wonder no longer. Overall, I had a pleasant pickup experience and plan to use the service again. Indeed, I still can’t believe that all I had to do was zip into a parking space, wait a few minutes, and then leave with a backseat full of groceries and supplies.

Of course, I do have a couple quibbles. For starters, if they don’t have an item, they make substitutions. I had no problem with three of their four substitutions. But my taste buds had been looking forward to enjoying the Supercenter’s bakery fresh shortbread cookies. So, imagine their disappointment when they received sugar cookies.

We live to learn, and I learned that we can refuse substitutions. (By the way, I found a good home for the sugar cookies.)

My other quibble involves cereal. One of my first tasks was to add two boxes of generic cereal to my cart. But when I checked the cart a few days later, I saw that the cereal was no longer available. So, I added one box of brand cereal.

So, imagine my surprise when I spied three boxes of cereal in my car. (On an unrelated topic…I also ended up with enough spaghetti to feed a family of 12 for a year, but that’s on me.)

Anyway, I close with a few words on the Grocery Pickup app. When I announced my pickup plans to my family, I received a message from my niece. Knowing that my slight paranoia prevents me from embracing too many apps, she asked how I planned to proceed with my order.

“Through the website,” answered I.

“Hmm,” responded she.

On the morning of my pickup, I received an email from the Supercenter, advising me that my order was ready and asking me to let them know when I was on my way.

It took me about three seconds to realize I would need to download the app to proceed with my order. I sent my niece a message that read, in part, “I have to install that expletive app. Are you happy?”

She must have been overjoyed because she sent me a laughing-until-you-cry emoji. So, my pickup experience was pleasant for her, too.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.

Pickup line — May 13, 2020

Pickup line

I have been borderline obsessed with Walmart’s grocery pickup since it came into existence last year. Firstly, I couldn’t understand why the company considered it good business sense to pay someone to shop for customers. (I eventually learned that the service represents another way they’re trying to stay competitive with Amazon.) Secondly, I’ve been on the verge of placing a pickup order too many times to count, only to  waller on the idea for so long that I eventually ran out of time and supplies, necessitating trips to the store.

Of course, my needs dictate that I go to the Supercenter only once every six weeks. So, it’s not like the grocery pickup would save me dozens of hours. Besides, I enjoy my occasional treks to the store.

But that was before the coronavirus. Nowadays, entering buildings not my own generates too much stress. Thus, it seemed like the perfect time to place my first pickup order.

Before doing so, I consulted my sister and nieces for advice. After all, they are grocery pickup experts and keep those associates busy. Then, I logged on, selected a pickup time, and started adding to my shopping cart.

Let’s start with the good news. I appreciate that I can instantly learn which items are on the shelves and instantly see the total of my selected items. You might be thinking to yourself, “Self, has she never before done ‘online’ shopping? Is she not familiar with the process?”

No, this is not my first foray into online shopping. But I’ve never before purchased groceries via a device. And as I saw the order total rise, I asked myself questions like, “Do I really need food?”

Anyway, here’s the not as good news. I’m not sure this process has saved time. That is not meant as a criticism of the Supercenter. It’s my fault for wallering over which box of lens wipes to add to the cart and comparing and contrasting the merits of various brands and sizes of crushed pineapples. Besides, at least I was able to do my shopping from the comfort of my home whilst watching TV and wearing pajamas.

Regardless, the grocery pickup did save me from outfitting myself with clothing, mask, and gloves/old socks, so all’s well. Right?

Not so fast.

I started my grocery shopping on a Sunday and selected a pickup time for the following Saturday. But I misunderstood my sister’s instructions. I thought she said I didn’t have to check out until a few hours before my selected time.


So, imagine my surprise when I clicked checkout Friday evening and received a message that I had lost my pickup time.

Questions flooded my confused mind: Would I be able to select another time that fit my schedule? How would I get bananas for the nanner pudding I had planned to make? And, most importantly, how would I procure the Barbie I had ordered for my great-niece’s kindergarten “graduation?”

Tune in next week for the answers to those questions and more.

This post originally appeared in the Appalachian News-Express.