Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Three Things That Make My Life Easier: Chapter 2

1. Peapod

Our family of three requires a good amount of groceries. Harley and I do not like grocery shopping. Our neighborhood grocery stores are pretty sketchy. (Police officers guarding the front door=red flag.) Worst of all, we live on the third floor. There is no elevator. Just stairs. When we (read I, because let's be honest, grocery shopping is a mid-day-while-Harley-is-away activity) grocery shop, it involves schlepping heavy bags of food across the parking lot and up three flights of stairs, grappling for keys, unlocking two doors -- one of which has two locks... oh and clutching a 20+ pound baby and a 20+ pound diaper bag. After a trip to the grocery store, you will find me draggin' my cookies (literally) out, over, through and up multiple areas, multiple times. Once I bring in the first load Anderson must be put someplace where he is safe and can't destroy anything (crib, exersaucer -- which he doesn't love after he's been cooped up in the grocery cart, then carseat) while I go back down the stairs, unlock, then lock again, each set of doors, re-enter my ghetto 'hood to struggle back and forth with subsequent loads. Oh, and don't forget I'm clubbing my car during this process. That adds one more step to the exhausting, ridiculous, Dear-Harley-When-Do-We-Get-a-House-with-a-Garage process that is grocery shopping. I'm tired just describing it.

Enter Peapod. (Cue choirs of angels singing.)

At you order your groceries online. They are delivered to your home. No more sloppy, cryptic grocery lists taped to the fridge. When I think of something I need, I hop online and add it to my list. When my list is ready, I checkout and choose a delivery time. Within 24 hours (usually), a careful Peapod shopper has done all the legwork (at Giant, which happens to be our favorite grocer), a friendly Peapod driver has navigated through my ghetto and most importantly, schlepped my bags up all three flights and set them inside my front door! No wandering aisles, no tired, over-shopped baby (save his shopping cooperation for fun shopping -- hello!), no impulse buying, no dragging bags, no danger!

The Peapod website is super organized. You can shop by brand, category, "aisle, " and my favorite: previous lists. I pull up everything I have ever purchased on one big "jumbo list" and reselect as needed. Then (if needed) I shop for new items.

I know what you're thinking: money. Such excellent service comes at a price, right? Delivery costs $6.95 when you order more than $100 (easy) of food. You can knock off $1 if you select an extended delivery window (say 4:30pm-9:30pm rather than 5pm-7pm). I have personalized my Peapod account to sort items by price. When I'm shopping, I know right away if I'm selecting an item that costs more than the generic or sale item. This means I usually end up selecting the cheaper or cheapest item. I can't say the same is true while shopping in person. I just don't price compare like I should when I'm in the store. Mostly because the store isn't organized by price, and I'm in a hurry. So in that big way, Peapod saves me money. The best part? When you sign up, Peapod gives you $5 off your first three orders. The secret? Those coupons keep coming, even after your first three orders! They come in the mail, online, with my groceries, etc. I've been doing this for six months, and I've never purchased without a $5 off coupon. The coupons say they expire, but they don't. Are you doing the math? We're getting groceries shopped and delivered for NINETY-FIVE CENTS! Totally worth my time, gas and schlep. There is the issue of tipping. According to Peapod's website it's "never expected but always appreciated." We tip. So throw in a few extra bucks (only if you want) and it's still totally worth it.

We limit ourselves to using Peapod twice a month. That way we stay organized and for sure have $100 worth of grocery needs. Of course there are a few things (milk, bread) that you need on a weekly basis. On the off weeks I pick up those items at Costco or Target, places I find myself weekly anyway.

I'm sure once we are settled in a house with a garage, near a safe, nice grocery store (and, um, once I learn to cook) I'll do real, old-school grocery shopping. But for now, Peapod sure does make my poor and ghetto (but fabulous) life easier.

Wanna try Peapod? Let me know, and I'll get you $10 off your first order! Suddenly you're making money with Peapod!

2. Stroll'r Swivl'rs

These gems also save me in the schlep department. They hook securely onto your stroller and hold your diaper bag, shopping (the fun kind) bags, etc. Strap baby into stroller, set bags on swivl'rs and wa-lah! You are carrying nothing! No back ache. No sore shoulder. Just push. Sally Diva sent me Stroll'r Swivl'rs as part of her "Mommy Must Haves" gift package. I broke both a few months ago. (They are sturdy... I just loaded them up with waaay too much.) I loved them so much, I immediately went out and bought another set of two. Buying the same product even after it broke? Now that is product love. And a life made easier.

Sold in a 2 pack at Babies R Us for $5.49

Loaded and ready for serious travel. I usually use one Stroll'r Swivl'r at a time, but in the case of The Great Schlep of '08 two were a must.

3. Google Reader

I know many of you already use and love this. But some of you don't. I was in the latter group for a long time. Too long. I follow some 80 blogs. I used to monitor them one by one by listing and regularly reviewing them on my iGoogle (also fabulous) page. I know, "what?" Why?! Why did I make my life so hard? Now Google Reader does the work for me. Like an email inbox, it tells me how many blog entries are new and bolds them until I've read them. I divide mine into categories: Family, Divas, Team, Friends, Other. Right now, Google Reader is telling me I have 8 (1 Team, 4 Friends, 3 Other) unread entries. Perfect! I will dine with those 8 bloggers over lunch.

Google Reader can stream more than just blogs. Add your magazine subscriptions, online journals, cool websites, etc.

My one complaint about Reader is since it presents the entries into one quick-read format, you're not actually on your peep's blog. This means if you want to comment, you have to go to the blog. If you want to see the blogger's ever-changing, fun sidebars (like my Fabulous Right Now), you have to go to the blog. But it's not that big of a deal, since a visit to the actual blog is just one easy click away. I have my favorite bloggers whose blogs I bring full every time, so I can see their extras, backgrounds, comments, etc. But other people, I just want to read in a quick, skim format. With Reader, I hit everyone. I don't miss an entry, and it's so much faster. So much easier.

One more thing. Private blogs can't be read in Google Reader. That's high maintenance. But private blogs are high maintenance anyway. (No offense, I still read you, just not as efficiently and therefore, not as regularly.) No matter what, you have to take the extra time to go directly to a private blog. There's no way around it, so we can't really ding Reader for not feeding it. I manage this by listing private blogs on my blog (see "So Fabulous They're Private") which reminds me to click over and visit my private friends periodically.

Give me delivery! Give me free hands! Give me blog organization!
Give me ease and fabulous!

P.S. In my next life I want to be really, really brave and do this. In this life that wouldn't so much make my life easier, as it would just make my life very terrifying.

***UPDATE! Google Reader has made it possible to comment on shared items! The day after I wrote this entry, Google announced it was adding a comment feature. How did I find out? Harley shared the article with me on... Google Reader! So far, it seems to only apply when someone shares something on Reader (so it still doesn't work for personal blogs you feed to Reader), but I know Google will only improve it from here. Thanks Google, you make my life so much easier. I heart you!!***


Harley King said...

New Facebook group: "Peapod Saved My Marriage".

Kaija said...

awesome. once again. I love your blog. And you may have coverted me to buying groceries online. even thought i don't have kids yet. i hate grocery shopping. and being able to price compare and plan my meals while shopping at the same time would be heaven. i guess i should try it out!

p.s. if you want to make my private blog easier to manage -- let me know and I'll add you to my email list so you'll get an email each time I post -- but you might not be that into my blog, which is totally fine -- just let me know --

Ming said...

First off I too love online grocery shopping. As you know I did Fresh Direct in NYC and it was the only way to do grocery shopping in the city in my opinion. Now that I'm in the burbs of Denver I physically go to the grocery store, but if they made home delivery more affordable out here then I'd still do it. They are good about making the delivery charge cheap close to big cities. I think delivery fees out here are 10 bucks a pop. Maybe worth it later on when I have more kids, but for now...not so much.

Second, I can't vouch for the stroller hanger thingys because my stroller is ginormous and rarely would I need to hang anything, but I validate their greatness for smaller strollers.

Third, yes, LOVE Goole Reader. I sucked at keeping up with blogs (as you know) pre-reader. It's changed my bloglife.

Finally, holy amazing wing suit video! I had no idea there was even such a thing as wing suits. That would be amazing!

Jill said...

I've been wanting to get some of those hooks. Now that I've read your endorsement I think I'll actually go to the store and get them (or just order them from amazon because I too love it when things are delivered to my door).

I hear ya on private blogs. High maintenance.

Jen said...

Thanks for the great recommendations!

Sarah S said...

Love it!! And Wendy, I can TOTALLY relate to your life as I lived in our lovely condo for five years, one of which was with my chunker baby Eli. Add the unpredictability of not knowing how close I could find a parking spot along the street there, and I was often frustrated by the time the whole process was done. I used to get red marks on my arms from loading multiple heavy grocery bags on each arm as I raced from my car to the entrance, through two doors (one was locked), up two flights of stairs, through my condo's locked door. I should have done peapod!! You are a smart, smart woman and I love that you are so organized about it.

And I absolutely love google reader too. Except I have a bad habit of adding new blogs all the time (photography, design, kids, etc. types of blogs) and I always feel SO behind. There is so much fun stuff out there but I have only so much time in the day. I read friends blogs first and read the other stuff if I have time.

The stroller hooks from Sally are the best!! She sent me some too when I had Eli and it's the best invention.

janaemadsen said...

I love grocery delivery. Except that it takes two days and I need milk by the time I notice I am out.
Nordstrom Sells designer hooks you know- they are sparkly and beautiful and if I ever used a stroller I might get one.

Joo Lin said...

Can I just say that reading your blog is the highlight of my blog readings?? Your entries are fabulous... keep 'em coming!

jaredandmatisse said...

Wow, You are so right about everything! Amen x 10. I personally think peapod would be worth it at 20 dollars a delivery. You save so much because you don't buy impulsively. Loves, Tisse

Trevin and Kalisha said...

I totally share your pain- I hate going to the grocery store, and I don't even have a kid to carry around. I told Trevin yesterday that as soon as we are too busy we should convert to online grocery shopping. Thanks for the recommendation!

anna banana said...

Thanks for writing such interesting things on your blog, I sure heart reading it! :)

Cristi said...

I am with you. I I LOATHE grocery shopping and I don't have three flights of stairs nor a baby to carry... so I was so excited to go to the site...but... unfortunately not enough people detest going to the grocery store out here like me (boo Idaho)... so no Peapod for me yet. :(

becky said...

I love your lifesavers. I mean how have I lived (I mean really lived without Google Reader? I love it too!!! (Although I currently have 435 unread messages -- whoops).

You are FABULOUS! I'm STRONGLY considering online groceries and noting the stroller hangers. :)

Laura said...

Okay, I have to admit that I've stalked your blog for QUITE awhile without saying hi.

And when you cooked with rotten chocolate chips? I nearly fell over.

It looks like you are FABULOUS. And as funny as ever. Your son is adorable. Thanks for not being anonymous on my blog. And if you talk to Duke Stice, don't mention the girl who pantsed him while he was hanging upside down from the rafters.