Mystery in a box

OK, so I was going to write my post this week about Kroger’s ClickList. But then I was updating this blog and looking for a photo to illustrate last week’s post about online banking. So I’m scanning unsplash.com and pexels.com (if you need beautiful, free photography online, these sites are gold) for not-boring pictures about banking, which is nearly impossible, when I come across a photo of safety deposit boxes.

Like, a row of the old-timey kind, made of brass, surrounded by art deco scrollwork, with numbers in Coventry Garden font so that you feel like maybe the 1920s were the coolest decade ever.

So I stare at this photo and then I go to Kroger.com to write about ClickList and then I realize, you know what? I can’t do it. I cannot write about ClickList. I must write about safety deposit boxes instead. I must.

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Check’s in the phone

It’s possible that the best invention in the history of man is being able to deposit your checks on a banking app so you don’t have to leave your house or even your couch and you never have to wait in line at the bank ever again.

The activity is so wondrously simple that you wonder, for a moment, whether or not you’re awake. Granted, it takes a bit of work to get your banking app set up (which was enough for me to put this off for far too long), but once you have it downloaded and you’ve set up your password and login, you are basically good to go.

So, you take your check.

You press “deposit” on your app.

You type in how much you want to deposit.

You take a picture of the front of your check.

You take a picture of the back of your check.

And, voila, transaction completed.

Just to underscore how luxurious this activity is, I have half a mind to deposit a check while in a bubble bath sipping a glass of champagne. Or on horseback wearing a wedding dress and eating leftover cake. Or possibly aboard a yacht while drinking guava juice, as photographed above.

Whatever the scenario, having something to drink or eat in celebration seems essential.

Because, I’m telling you, it is that good.

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LaWhateverIt’sCalledStupidFancyWater

The other day, I had a conversation with a friend about the merits of investing in a can crusher. The purchase has become increasingly necessary as, one glimpse inside our recycling bin will show you, we are clearly not using our space to its utmost.

That’s because we are addicted to La Croix.

If you, too, are familiar with this obsession, let me be the first to commiserate with you. For us, it started about two summers ago when we were introduced to this brand of sparkling water. I remember looking at its can critically that first time — a friend had brought a case over — and coming away impressed that it looked like it would be marvelously at home at the beach. Or on a boat. Possibly one with a sail.

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In love with shhhhhhhhhhhh

It’s a Monday and, as with Mondays, I’m feeling the pinch of what needs to get done and hearing the squeal of my reluctance to do it. My book needs work. No one is reading the Sway Essay blog. I need to take some kind of compelling picture for my Sway social media posts. I need to update Toasted Tomato. I need to edit a student’s personal statement. I need to bring William his lunch. And my parents are coming soon (yay!), however that requires a head-to-toe houseclean before their arrival.

But gently creating a calming environment conducive to creativity and progress is the house fan that fans all the day long. It’s especially loud in the basement, where I’ve been working for the past months, and I’ve come to rely on it like an old friend.

Sound ridiculous? Oh, it’s ridiculous, all right. But, and I’m ready to admit this, I am a White Noise Addict. I need it to go to and stay asleep. I need it to write. It helps me focus. It keeps me grounded. It makes me calm.

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Cooking by blog

If, like me, you’re at all in New Year’s Resolution limbo, it feels like the rest of your life is on hold until you can make up for the excesses of December. For myself, that means shedding weight, resuming an exercise regime, and being more moderate in the happy hour department.

Do I badly miss December and all of its treats?

I badly do.

However, I can say I feel better, and I now have more than one pair of pants that fit. My ancient bootcut-style yoga tights are relieved.

To what can I get the credit? Amazingly, food blogs have come to my rescue.

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A new tradition in January

It’s the time of year where it’s best to just stay put and wait it out, am I right? It’s cold, but snowless. Christmas is over and thinking about it kind of makes you need a shot of Pepto. And January is one long month. Really, the most we can do is hang on until Groundhog Day, Valentine’s and St. Patty’s Day, which are, if we’re honest, really B- and C-list holidays at best. I mean, you don’t even get the day off.

But! I have the solution. It’s called Sequence and I prescribe playing it on a daily basis.

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My loss is my gain

When you’ve gained seven pounds in less than a month, you know you’ve had a heck of a good time in December. And, dear readers, I’m here to tell you I did. My lighthearted days were filled with everything delicious: cheese biscuits, cream cheese, bagels and lox, pierogi, meat pie, bread, bread and more bread, stuffing, fudge, thumbprint cookies, rice pudding.

And, of course, a whole mountain (Rocky-style, not Smokies) of mashed potatoes and gravy. I’ve actually thought about writing an entire column about just how much I love the combo, an ode that would begin, “To my greatest love of all.” In fact, this past month, I actually conducted an experiment to see whether or not I would tire of ‘taters by eating them nearly exclusively for every meal for five days.

I suppose I can say the experiment was a success since I was able to come to a conclusion. Which was that I didn’t. Tire of them, I mean. In fact, I could have a big plate of them right now.

Of course, now that it’s the beginning of January, it’s time to get real with these seven pounds, which, let’s face it, join the four from Thanksgiving that I never shed.

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Easy, Christmasy recipes

With Gabrielle away at college and our nest decidedly empty, this Christmas season has required adjustment. We’ve managed by introducing new traditions into the fold. We have two Christmas trees, instead of one. The advent calendar is filled with love poems instead of scavenger hunt clues. We’ve hosted old friends in small gatherings whom we haven’t seen for far too long. And every day, I have opened my Instagram and taken a look at the cookie recipe posted by the editors of the New York Times’ cooking section (@nytcooking).

They post a different one every day in December, and, if you check each day, it’s like an advent calendar of its own, with the photos beautiful enough to feel like a gift.

Of course, I haven’t made any — in part because I’m waiting for Gabrielle to come home, but in part because I’ve realized that cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate to feel festive. With William’s full endorsement, in fact, I’ve cooked more simply than I ever have before and it’s reminded me of the beauty of a 15-minute recipe.

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Be vocal; shop local

“What a week! My heart is warmed by the incredible stream of people that have been through the doors of my business, buying their Christmas gifts, birthday gifts, treats for themselves — and telling me of their mission to shop local. I know it’s a cool and trendy hashtag we all use and talk about, but you truly just do not know how real this is and how important it is unless you’re a small business owner, dependent every day on that community support to keep the doors open. It is so appreciated! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

This was a note I saw on Facebook last week from one Tammy Martin Hoehler, owner of The Mole Hole in Somerset. The gift store is somewhat of an institution here, opened in 1995 and taken over by Hoehler in 2012. It’s a darling, lime-hued store filled with fabulous finds, from sassy dish towels to to-die-for Christmas ornaments to picture frames to deluxe serving ware to chocolates to candles that, somehow, smell better than anything in real life.

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