Nothing against turtles, really, or hobos

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Future hobos: the early years. Kitchen demolition experts.

I recently subscribed to one of those services that delivers a box of ingredients and instructions for dinner to your door every week because:

True Fact #1: Parenting gurus say if you don’t sit down to a family dinner on a regular basis your children will one day be hobos.

True Fact #2: There are people around here who might not live to see hobo-hood, and the whole dinner process is part of the problem.

First there’s the whole question of what’s for dinner, to which the answer is usually “I dunno,” or “doesn’t matter.” But when we all gather at the table it will inevitably dawn on one or more of these people that it jolly well does matter and I somehow forgot that fish flambé or whatever I’ve fixed is expressly verboten, and that’s when the nightly Pouring Of The Cereal commences.

Then, there’s the whole food shopping thing which almost always happens on a Sunday afternoon when the scene in Winco’s produce department makes me wonder if anyone’s ever tried to get a bale of turtles to navigate a maze. Never mind why anyone would do such a thing to turtles (or why that particular collective would be called a “bale”), but there we will be, all circling the damn cauliflower at once and I won’t be able to move my gargantuan cart anywhere, so I’ll just block traffic while I pound out a pithy tweet about the whole first world experience on my phone.

And thus we’ve arrived at dinner by subscription. There are a few things I really dig about this service, and a few things I don’t.

On the plus side: no shopping. No list making, no thinking up a menu and then getting mad at my family because they have no opinion at all until they sit down to dinner and then there’s all kinds of critique about whatever it is I’ve slaved over and I end up wanting to stab someone with a fork.

No food waste. I’m not buying a truck-load of cilantro for the two sprigs I need, or a big bunch of celery for one stalk, which is cool. I also don’t have to spend a bunch on spices I use infrequently. One of this week’s meals is paella. Which involves saffron, an ounce of which will set you back about as much as a car payment. This week’s package came with exactly one-sixteenth teaspoon of saffron. Because you can’t make paella with chili powder. Or red food dye. I’ve tried.

No hurt feelings. Last week there was some shrimp masala curry concoction. I thought it was fine. Jack, not so much. When he told me he it made him want to barf a little, he prefaced it with: “I know you didn’t come up with this idea, mom, so …” Which is his way of saying “I’m glad I can share this without looking like a total jerk,” which also happens to be conducive to his living to hobo age.

On the downside, while there’s very little food waste – the packaging makes me feel like I’ve just mowed down an entire Amazon rainforest. Everything is secured in its own custom teensy plastic cup or container, which is labeled and tucked with like ingredients in a little bag and packed with a little ice packet. The meat is separated by a piece of cardboard from other ingredients in its own vacuum-sealed containers and the whole lot is packed in an insulated bag, inside a big box that’s left on our doorstep. We recycle what we can, but I’m pretty sure I can hear our local landfill expanding as an expense of our convenience.

It does tend to grate on me, the weekly unpacking of the box and disposing of a couple acre feet of waste. But considering that bale of turtles in the Winco produce department, I’m probably saving lives and/or my sanity until such time as I can regularly bribe someone else to go grocery shopping for me.

But THAT’S NOT ALL. Recently I decided my closet could use the same kind of help, and on the advice of a friend who has the same approach to clothing as I do, looked into a subscription clothing service.

The jury is out on this one because I haven’t received my first shipment, and I’m already having some anxiety. I’m mostly worried they’ll send horribly overpriced stuff that looks terrible on me and then without the convenience of tossing things to a waiting clerk as I’m headed out of the dressing room, I’ll forget I need to package them back up again and get them to the post office, and then be on the hook for hundreds of dollars for crap I’m not going to wear.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

The sign up process consisted of a bunch of opportunities to give thumbs up or down to different style options. I made it clear that I won’t wear heals, but there was no place to express my preference for yoga pants, so this may be a bust.

And there was a space for a personal note to my stylist which I left blank because pretty much all I could say is “I’d prefer stuff that doesn’t show armpit stains,” which would scare any sane stylist away.

But then they came back and said “hey, you left this part blank,” and I don’t want to make it any harder that it’s going to be for these people. They may as well know now that this isn’t going to be a piece of cake, so I left a comment:

You should know I rarely buy stuff that isn’t on deep discount because I’m really cheap. I like comfort, but I also need to look professional. This means I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to get away with yoga pants. Most of my stuff is black because I’m incapable with figuring out what goes with what and am terrified I’ll put the wrong thing with the wrong thing and then I’ll forever be the girl who wore penny loafers with cut off sweats to class (and that was, like, twenty-seven years ago, so I’m here to tell you that stuff sticks).

Oh, and I don’t own an iron, and I’ve been known to forget stuff at the dry cleaners, so don’t send me something that can’t be washed and dried and ready to wear.  

And then I ended it the way I used to sign notes to the babysitter: Best of luck and I’m sorry.

I thought about adding a couple of little hearts or some kind of apologetic emoji, but I ran out of characters.

And then I wondered if I should have just said something about not wanting to look like a hobo, but I guess that’s kind of a foregone conclusion.


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Thank you.


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  1. I\’ve received various subscription boxes, but I\’ve never heard of the dinner one! What a great idea! I\’ve also thought about doing one of the clothing subscription things, but have been too afraid to do it. I\’m a picky shopper and like to try everything on first. I hope you blog about it when you get it!!!

    1. I\’m out of town on business and my husband tells me there\’s a box waiting for me when I get home. I feel like it\’s Christmas! I\’ll let you know how it goes.

  2. We can\’t get most of those boxes in Canada,or else I\’d be all over them too. I just have a very hungry husband and worried that 1 portion would not be enough for him. And then what?

    1. There\’s always cereal. And toast. Actually, we split four portions between five people (my mom comes over for dinner many nights), and that seems to work out okay – mostly because the kids are kind of \’meh\’ about the menu.

  3. You do realize the correct term for hobo is \’person living under a bridge\’…just saying. However I do think the term \’bale of turtles\’ is accurate. ~patting us on the back emoticon~
    Personally I wish I could just eat hot dogs in front of the TV every evening while watching PVRd episodes of the View, but my husband has this idea that we need to sit around the dinner table in silence pretending to enjoy whatever fish flambé concoction he\’s prepared.
    PS: I laughed hysterically at your tweet. I don\’t tweet in the supermarket. I pull out Pinterest for necessary ingredients and block the aisle for 30 minutes while I peruse \’10 Ways to Shellac your Old Ottoman.\’
    You\’re awesome.

  4. I wondered when I was going to get called on the hobo thing.

    Your husband cooks dinner? That\’s awesome. Mine would, but after the second time I objected to Hamburger Helper, he abdicated. He\’s supposed to split clean up duties with the kids, so it works out okay for me.

    Glad you liked the tweet. It made me laugh while I was writing it. People in the produce department thought I was a little deranged. Must have been the kale fumes.