Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Good and the Stinky

I'm interrupting my regularly scheduled "too long between blog posts" mojo to provide you with some retail information that may or may not aid you one day.

First, the good. Which WAS preceded by some bad news, at least for me. M. and I are faithful coffee drinkers, and each morning we brew a pot of coffee, fill up our travel coffee mugs, and trot off to work with them. We always try to have a couple sets of travel mugs on hand because M. NEVER washes his coffee mug at work (I USUALLY do, but not always), and it's good to have some back ups if we haven't run the dishwasher or one of us left a mug at work. Long ago we purchased some Thermos brand coffee mugs that have served us oh-so-well. They fit in our cup holders, they have an easy lid to use (though they aren't leak proof if you tip them over), and they keep coffee warm for a ridiculous amount of time (read: three-ish hours). We LOVE these mugs. Love. And we haven't been able to find more of them. We've purchased several cheap travel mugs over the years to supplement the Thermos mugs, and they all universally suck. The coffee gets cold nearly immediately, they break easily, and the lids leak a ridiculous amount - one was so difficult to drink from that I ended up spilling all over myself (from tipping the cup up too high) at least a half dozen times. Not fun during a work meeting. But it was OK, because at least we had our trusty Thermos mugs to fall back on.

Well. During M.'s last work trip, the one where he was gone from Thursday through Monday during a three-day weekend? And the kids woke me up multiple times each night? And I MAY have stayed up a bit too late one night watching the Downtown Abbey finale? Needless to say, I was feeling a bit wiped out that weekend. And so I brought my ration of caffeine with me to the 10 a.m. birthday party Finn was invited to, in my beloved, paint-peeling, dinged-up Thermos mug.

Which I promptly left behind at the party venue when I bundled us back home.

Woe and sadness!!

I immediately hopped online, resolved with myself that I wouldn't "cheap out" (this was before Austerity!), and scoured Amazon for the best mug possible that could be delivered to my house within 2 business days. And I did it, I finally did it - I found the perfect travel mug!

Behold, a thing of beauty, the Thermos Stainless King 16-ounce Leak-Proof Travel Mug!:

At just over $20, these are not cheap (for a mug). But trust me, it has been money well spent! I bought two, one with a handle (for M. - he prefers a handle he can clutch while he runs to catch the train - quite literally, often) and one without (for moi). We've been using these mugs for about three weeks now, and I can honestly say that I haven't missed my old mug once. This Thermos mug keeps my coffee even hotter than the old one (five hours! The coffee is warm five hours later!), and better yet, it's leak proof (well, as long as it is "closed", which didn't help me when I rattled through the parking lot with the open mug in the front basket of a grocery cart and it tipped over and spilled coffee all over a bag of groceries. But when it's closed, it's leak proof!).

That is a story that has a happy ending. This next one, not so much.

As part of our "Austerity!" effort, I made a bunch of food about a week and a half ago, and froze the extra to save for later. I made refried beans (with this recipe) that are SO GOOD! And marinara sauce (from this recipe) which is also SO GOOD! And I was psyched to have all this awesome, frugal, yummy food waiting for me to use in the freezer, neatly labeled and stored away in ziploc freezer bags.

Yesterday I thawed a bag of the marinara to use on top of calzones. And discovered that my awesome marinara sauce? Now tastes like dryer sheets. The freezer bags we had (and that I unknowingly bought) were Ziploc "Fresh Shield" freezer bags. I guess the "fresh shield" is supposed to keep food from getting a freezer funk smell, maybe? I don't know, but what I do know is that it tasted BAD. Why would you ever store food in something that smells like dryer sheets? Apparently it's supposed to (according to Walmart) lock in freshness and help food retain nutrients. I refuse to link to the product because I canNOT recommend that you buy it.

And now I have several bags of food in the freezer destined to turn whatever meal I pair them with into the scent of fresh laundry. Which is great on laundry, don't get me wrong. Just not so great with food. I'm currently trying to "off gas" the refried beans I'm goint to use to make burritoes tonight in an open container in the fridge to see if that helps.

Just some friendly shopping tips, from me to you :-).


  1. I need to order a mug for Ben-- right up his alley-- thanks for the rec. Also I am groaning because I have sauce in those exact bags in my freezer right now. Yummy dryer sheet sauce, apparently.

  2. I thought about my post, and feel like I should add that I don't ACTUALLY know what dryer sheets taste like :-). But the food from these bags taste like dryer sheets smell. If that makes any sense at all...

  3. And Sarah, maybe I just had a really strong batch of bags? Hopefully yours will turn out better!!

  4. Making these beans pronto! Thanks for the link.