Holiday Baking

Holiday baking is one of my favorite parts of the holiday season.   It’s steeped in tradition, heritage and reminds me of my childhood.  Growing up we made mint cookies and molasses cookies every year.  Christmas morning my mom would serve her Christmas tea ring.   The memories of making Christmas cookies with my family are some of my fondest.    I’ve carried on many of these traditions making the mint cookies every year.   Over the years, we’ve stopped making the molasses cookies in Florida as they take too much flour to make them manageable.  In lieu of the tea ring, I’ve made my caramel rolls to serve at brunch for over a decade.

I had an amazing time exploring Scandinavia this fall with my son, brother and sister-in-law.  It definitely strengthened the connection I feel to our family’s heritage. As a result, I wanted to infuse some traditional Norwegian and Finnish cookies into our holiday baking.  My aunt, a lefse baking pro, provided us with the recipe for lefse.  I found the recipes for the Norwegian cookies in Norwegian heritage groups on Facebook.  Finally, I was able to find Finnish recipes via google.

The baking started off by baking the mint cookie dough.  I planned to bake several dozen since these cookies were a sure bet.  Unfortunately, dough vultures (a.k.a my kids) thwarted my first attempt.  My next attempt had to be more covert.  Indeed, my mom and I ended up baking three more batches.  We had to hide the dough in one of our three refrigerators to ensure we’d have enough to bake cookies.

My holiday baking this year was more special since my mom was here.  It made our culinary adventure through Scandinavian traditions more meaningful.  Our first task was to make the dough for the kringlas (Norwegian) and juolutorttu (Finnish.) Each of these doughs was quite easy to make.  The kringla is a sour cream dough, while the juolutorttu dough is more of a pastry dough.  Normally, the doughs would need to rest for an hour or two. However, we left them rest overnight due to the climate in Florida.

Cloudberry juolutorrtu
Lingonberry juolutorrtu
Blueberry juolutorrtu

The next morning we started by making the dough for the pulla, a Finnish sweet bread.  Since the bread had to rise for 90 minutes, it was the perfect place to start.  While it raised, we were able to make the juolutorttu and the kringlas.  Traditionally, the juolutorttu is made with prunes, but I didn’t have any and I don’t really like prune.  Consequently, we made ours with lingonberry, blueberry and cloudberry jam that I had purchased on my recent travels.  Both of the cookies were a bit fussy to make, but they were much easier to make than I had to anticipated.   The pulla was relatively easy to make and smelled divine.

Kringlas
Pulla

As the pulla baked, I headed to the gym for a quick workout before we undertook making lefse.  Once it was completed, we fired up the lefse griddle.  (Naturally, I had bought an entire lefse baking kit.- get it here.)  The lefse would be, by far, the most difficult thing we made that day.  While I was at work the Friday before, my mom mixed up the dough since it had to sit overnight.  Nonetheless, the lefse was still difficult to handle.  Our first attempt was an utter failure, but we improved with each lefse.  By the end of it, we were professionals.

Lefse
Our first attempt

In the end, we worse ourselves out will all of our holiday baking.  On Christmas, we had a plenty of sweet Scandinavian treats to last til next Christmas.   We had great beginner’s luck on all of our Scandinavian treats and I can’t wait to make them again next year.   Below you’ll find the links to the Scandinavian recipes we used this Christmas.

Krumkake with cloudberry and blueberry jams

 

Recipes:

Juolutorrtu (also called juolutorts or north stars)

Kringla

Pulla

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Why I Stride

Since today is World Pancreatic Cancer Awareness day, I thought I’d write about why I stride.  Stride of course refers to Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s annual 5k called Purple Stride.  This Sunday, as we’ve done since 2015, Team Deb Force Five will be off to the races at the Broward-Palm Beach Purple Stride.  While it will be my first as part of the event team, it will also be our second Purple Stride without Debbie, which brings me to why I stride.

I remember the day clearly.  I had travelled with work to Orlando to present for the first time as part of our Military Roadshow. It was a pretty big deal and I was super excited.  We were driving up as a group and heading back that evening.  The presentation went swimmingly, so I spent my afternoon getting caught up on work.   And then my husband called, hysterical..   I was convinced something had happened to one of our kiddos.  When he finally calmed down, he told me the devastating news that Debbie had been diagnosed with stage iv cancer.  Instantly, my knees went week and I started to slide down the wall as I too started to cry.   At that point, the origin of the cancer was unknown, but the prognosis was dire.

At the time of her diagnosis Debbie was 40 years old.  She wasn’t a smoker, she ate exceedingly healthy and was an avid runner.  She didn’t fit the profile for a pancreatic cancer patient, but I think that’s the message.   According to a a recent study, pancreatic cancer will be the 2nd deadliest cancer by 2020.  Lung cancer is projected to remain the deadliest cancer.  While other cancers have seen a decrease in mortality rates, pancreatic cancer has not.  Researchers pointed to a combination of factors as to why mortality rates for pancreatic cancer have not declined.   Risk factors including an aging population, the relative growth of high-risk minority populations (African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews) and the underfunding of pancreatic cancer research.

Debbie was committed to finding a cure and research for better patient outcomes.  She was an avid supporter of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the work they do to drive pancreatic cancer research.  Unfortunately, this can’t be done without money.   Pancreatic cancer patients and their families, like Debbie and her family, deserve better outcomes.  They deserve a survival rate well over 9%.

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We lost Debbie almost two years ago, but some days it feels like it was yesterday while others it feels like it’s been years.   Even still Goalielocks asks why they couldn’t do more for her.  I stride because I’m committed to ensuring that pancreatic cancer patients and their families have better outcomes.  I’m committed to helping drive research forward.  This disease has stolen so much from so many.  It certainly has from me.

You can support PanCan and Team Deb Force Five in Debbie’s honor: http://support.pancan.org/site/TR/PurpleStride/PurpleStride?team_id=14831&pg=team&fr_id=1573

TMinus Seven

It’s tminus seven until Jake, and my brother and his wife head to Scandinavia for an epic adventure.  Jake and I spent our morning picking up a few last-minute items from Kohl’s. It’s going to be in the 40s-50s, so a light jacket should suffice.  Since we live in Florida our fall wardrobe for Scandinavian weather isn’t quite up to par.

After Kohl’s we headed to Barnes and Noble.  I’ve been reading book after book as I work my way through the top 500 fiction and non-fiction books.  I’m currently reading One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, but should finish it in the coming days.  It’s delightful this far, quite the departures from Tolstoy’s Resurrection.  I’d highly recommend both novels.  For the trip, I bought Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since paperbacks were 3 for $30, I was seriously tempted to by several books.  I behaved and walked out with only two.

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In addition to Larsson’s novel, I picked up a book on Swedish grammar.  I love DuoLingo, but I needed to read through the grammatical rules.  Every night I try to spend at least 30 minutes practicing Swedish before reading for the last hour before bed.  I don’t expect to be fluent, but I hope to at least be able to communicate in Swedish while in Stockholm.  As an aside, there isn’t DuoLingo for Finnish or Finnish grammar books at our Barnes and Noble.    Please see video below for what I imagine I’ll sound like.

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I am super excited, not just for the trip, but for November’s Purple Stride.  This year I’m unable to run due to my left ankle, so I’m taking on a different role.  For this year’s event, I’m happy to announce that I am the Team Chair.  I’ll be in charge to driving team results and recruitment.  Those of you on the fence of joining team Deb Force Five – now it the time to join.   If you’re not in Florida that’s okay!  You can join us as a virtual strider.   Join by clicking here.  I’ll leave you with one of Freddy Mercury’s iconic live performances.  I, for one, cannot wait to see the Queen movie coming out next week.

 

Long Weekend

It was a glorious long weekend of no plans and no obligations.  We sent the Mayor to Key West on Friday for the weekend and he had an epic time.  As for the rest of us, we took advantage of the stormy weather and stayed in and relaxed.  It is hard to believe we only have four days left of the school year.  This year has seemed like a sprint.  Especially the last six months!

This year has been an absolute sprint with trips every month through April (could have used a May vaycay.).   In between the trips, we had a health scare with Goalielocks and possible surgery.   His procedure ended up being delayed because he had a bad cough, which made it too risky for him to go under.  Not even a month later, we were in an ER in New Hampshire with a suspected brain bleed.  Fortunately, the good folks at Mass General were able to quickly rule out the brain bleed, but his recovery would still be lengthy.

We ended up back in the ER in the beginning of March when his headaches changed in severity and type.  Unfortunately, he’ll experience headaches and other post concussion symptoms for the next six to twelve months.  We made it nearly two months before brining him back to the ER for suspected appendicitis.  Fortunately, it wasn’t appendicitis.  Unfortunately, it took a costly visit to the ER to confirm he had a virus with symptoms that mimic appendicitis.  Needless to say, it’s been exhausting and expensive.

I’m ready for some downtime and calm.  (What is that even?)  This Wednesday, we’re headed to West Boca to watch Goalielocks’ Moving on Ceremony.  We’ll officially have one in college, one in high school and one in middle school.  Despite my reticence to let them grow, time continues to march.  It’s a bit bittersweet as he’s absolutely loved his time at Logger’s Run.

Excitedly, we’re back to our normal summer pattern since we have no grand plans this summer.  Goalielocks and the Mayor will be headed North to spend the summer at Camp Grandma and Grandpa.  We couldn’t be more excited, nor could they.  Goalielocks cannot wait to be reunited with his former goalie coach, who is now at MEGA.  While they’re in Minny, they’ll be able to spend time with all of our family. Also, this will give me a break from the endless begging for a sailboat.

The Mayor, as you can probably see in the pictures, had an epic weekend in Key West with Capt. Rob and E.  He loved every single minute of it from being on the water in the driving rain to trying his first oyster!  Yeah, an oyster! I haven’t even had an oyster.  (Don’t judge me I grew up in the Midwest.) They spent their nights on a docked sail boat and spent their days exploring Key West.  Due to the inclement weather, they were some of the only people around.

Boy oh boy, this first period of hockey is amazing.  We still have four minutes left in the period and it’s already 2-1.   This series should be incredible and hopefully for hockey fans everywhere it goes to seven games!  Just a quick update here, I uploaded my pictures and the period has ended in a 2-2 tie!  I cannot wait to see what the second period will bring.

Already?

Already?  Really weekend just like that you’re over.  It seems like just five minutes ago it was 6:00 pm on a Friday night and the work week was behind us.. Yet here we are, nary a blink the eye has gone by, back to Sunday night and the beginning of another work week.  Although we accomplished as lot this weekend, it feels like we made no progress. I could definitely use a third weekend day to make me more productive around the house.

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In exciting news, we continue to add-on to our new tank.  In case you missed it, we’ve installed a 120 gallon saltwater aquarium in our living room and our remodeling the room accordingly.   Saturday we added a kole tang, macro algae for the refugium and a couple of coral frags.   Thankfully, the new creatures are acclimating to the tank very well.  Both the frog spawn and green star polyp corals have opened up, which is exciting.  They’re small frags, so we’re anxious for them to grow and cover more of the rocks.

Goalielocks is leading the project for the aquarium as he is the marine expert in the household.  We’ve had several freshwater aquariums and a nano saltwater tank before, but this is still a major undertaking.  Maintaining a saltwater tank is a lot more complex than maintaining a freshwater system.  Nonetheless, Goalielocks is well prepared.  Moreover, the tank is really starting to take shape and look great.  We’re anxiously waiting for our paired clownfish to host in the anemone, but they’re taking their sweet time.

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In other news, playoff hockey continues to be great.  The games have been high-octane and thoroughly entertaining.  Tonight the Vegas Knights, the first expansion team to reach the finals, won the Western Conference title and are advancing to the Stanley Cup. Not for nothing, but the Florida Panthers’ missteps clearly had a positive impact not he Knights.  After all, it was not too long ago that the Cats fired Gerard Gallant (huge mistake) and sent him packing in a taxi.  Then they dealt both Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault away as part of the expansion draft.  Along with Lars William Karlsson, these two gents make up the Knight’s lethal top line.  Needless to say, they’ve had a pretty good season.

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Tomorrow night the action will be back in D.C. as the Caps take on the Lightning in a must win game.  The puck drops at 8:00 pm, so I am assured another late night.  With the adrenaline of playoff hockey, who can sleep right after a game ends? I know I can’t.  It would be nice to have a Florida team in the Stanley Cup Finals, but I’ wouldn’t be disappointed if the series went to seven games.  I know, I know I’m a little greedy, but the hockey has been outstanding and I don’t want it to end.

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In non-hockey news, I have to wish my Great Grandma Brown a very happy 102nd birthday.  You read that right, she’s 102 years old. For context, when she was born we were two years into World War 1.   When I think of all the changes she has witnessed in her lifetime I’m astounded.  I can’t fathom how much our world has changed in the 102 years she’s been on this earth.  It’s an incredible thought.   Moreover, she still lives independently with her little dog.  I hope I got her genes.  Please join me in wishing her a very happy 102nd birthday.

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I had thought about going back to the daily prompt and writing about narcissism tonight, but I just didn’t have it in me tonight.  I thought hockey, saltwater aquariums and my great grandma would be infinitely more interesting. I’ve written about narcissists before anyway and really don’t wish to give them anymore airplay.

Wow, almost forgot there was this huge wedding this weekend. I didn’t get up to watch it.   Don’t get me wrong, I like the pomp and circumstance, but I am not a morning person.  Later that day I watched the highlights on Hulu.  It looked like a beautiful event.  Of course, the single best picture of the day was of David Beckham.    Who else watched the wedding?  What did you guys think?

David-Beckham-Royal-Wedding-2018-Pictures

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful mothers in my life and the blogosphere!  I spent my Mother’s Day relaxing at home with our boys and puppies.  Hubby made me a wonderful breakfast of crepes, an omelette and some bacon.  It was sinfully delicious!  The crepes were spectacular with cloud berry jam, whipped cream and fresh berries.  On the second crepe, I had blueberry jam that we bought in Norway on it and it was delicious.  I’m not quite sure what we’re going to do when we’re finally out of Norwegian cloudberry and blueberry jelly.  I guess we’ll just have to go back and buy more!

We spent Saturday night at the amphitheater in West Palm for the Alan Jackson show.  To be clear, I’ve never been a country music fan.  In fact, I wasn’t originally planning to go with Goalielocks and the Hubby to the concert.  At least, not until I got the guilt trip from Goalielocks, who reminded me that I had no problem going to the Foo Fighters with Jake. I, of course, reminded him that I love the Foo Fighters….  Nonetheless, I accompanied them to the concert last night.

Fortunately, the weather held out.  I purchased seats under the roof of the amphitheater just in case the meteorologists happened to be right.  They weren’t, but the assigned seats were nice.  We had a great view of the show and weren’t fighting the crowds on the lawns.  As for the show itself, both LeeAnn Womack and Alan Jackson didn’t disappoint.  I’ve heard many of the Alan Jackson songs enough to know the words.  Moreover, they bring back fond memories of my mother-in-law, who enjoyed his music.

While I don’t enjoy their music, I would have had to be deaf to not hear how talented they are.   LeeAnn Womack has some lungs!  Surprisingly, that’s not even the Tito’s lemonade talking.  They were legit.  I’m not converting to country, but enjoyed spending the evening with two of my guys.

We faced time my mom and grandma today to wish them a very, happy Mother’s Day.  It would have been nice to be up in Minnesota with all of them.  After a late night last night, we decided not to do to brunch on the water.  This decision was reinforced by the weather outside, which brought us heavy rains all day.  Apparently, there’s a low pressure system of the southwest coast of Florida that may develop into a tropical system.  Oh joy!

It’s time to head off to bed and recharge the batteries before starting another crazy week.  To all the mother’s out there, I hope you had a wonderful day.  To the beautiful mother’s in our lives, who have felt the excruciating pain of losing a child, today we send you our love and strength.  Lastly, for those whose mother’s have passed, today we send love your way.

My Mayor Turned 12!

Yesterday, my mayor turned 12!  I can’t believe our youngest has only one year left before becoming a full fledged teenager.  While he’s not in the teens by number, he’s certainly in a teen when it comes to his appetite and his demeanor.  Of course, the Mayor’s been feisty since he was born, so none of this is a surprise.   Fortunately, my Mayor is a sweet as he is feisty.

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His birthday weekend was pretty low key.  While the hubby helped my brother with the floors, Jake worked and Goalielocks was at a friend’s, my Mayor and I spent the weekend hanging out.  Saturday we upgraded his phone to the iPhone 8 as his iPhone 6 was starting to fail in everyday.  Undoubtedly the phone served us well, it simply wasn’t going to last one more day.  Thankfully, the demise of his phone was timed well with his birthday weekend. He was overjoyed today when he got home from school since his phone held it’s battery all day.

We also picked up a Fitbit for both he and Goalielocks since they’re going to start running with me.  In addition, we got some new workout clothes, a new wall ball, a curved agility ladder and an acceleration trainer.  All the things they’ll need to be in good shape going into next year’s hockey season.  If it weren’t for the slight fever and cold The Mayor had this weekend, we would have started our workouts this weekend.  Nonetheless, I had blast this weekend with the birthday boy and cannot wait to see what the next year will bring him.

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Tonight we had planned to start running together, but of course, life had a different plan.  This morning Goalielocks was beset by severe, localized abdominal pain.  When I left for work this morning, I assumed he had picked up his brother’s cold.  Apparently, I was wrong. #winning While at work, I checked on him periodically.  His symptoms were a bit worrisome as doctor google suggested, he likely had appendicitis.   I was both slightly worried and slightly encouraged that doctors google didn’t say he was dying.  For once, I thought doctor google might actually be on point.

I headed home early to take him into urgent care, so we could rule out appendicitis.   His symptoms were pretty well aligned to the condition.  After the year we had, I didn’t want to press our luck by waiting it out. I had visions of his appendix bursting as he binged watched Family Guy on Hulu.  It was not a good vision…..  Urgent care wasn’t able to rule out appendicitis as they couldn’t run a CBC and get timely results.

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Back to the ER we went….. You know it’s bad when they don’t ask for an insurance card anymore because they recognize you.  Or when the doctor comes in, he remembers treating your family before. #notwinning.   As with any trip to ER, we spent several hours of our lives waiting for lab tests, ultrasounds and consultations.  Fortunately, Family Guy was on and helped us pass the time.  Ironically, it was on the very episode I started watching last night, but missed when I went to take a shower.   I know feel like I have closure having watched the episode and several others in their entirety.

Thankfully, after a long wait, we were given the all clear by the doctor.  Both his blood work and ultrasound were negative for any abnormalities.  We left the ER with a diagnosis of gastritis and Zantac/Pepcid AC as a means to treat the discomfort.  We’ll continue to monitor him as he still has localized pain and will be following up with is pediatrician.  Thanks to everyone from the love, prayers and support today it is very much appreciated.  As a side note, the ER rejected my suggestion of a frequent flier program (i.e. every visit you get a stamp and your fourth visit is free.). Special thanks to my girl Jutta for the brilliant suggestion!  As for us, it’s time to reset the days without an ER visit to 0.

 
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It’s Over….

It’s over, hell week has finally come to an end.  This year it truly lived up to it’s rightfully earned moniker of hell week.  But hey just like Britney Spears survived 2007, we survived the week.  Honestly, last week left most of us hockey parents feeling as dirty as Callahan did after Marchand licked his face in game 4. (If you’re not a hockey fan, let me get you up to date: ESPN – Marchand licks Callahan.)  Marchand, the NHL’s most villified played, perfectly personifies the douchebaggery that occurs during hell week.  

Let me also add one ailment to the list of ailments that could develop during hell week: the cold sore.  While I didn’t experience this personally, it was experienced by a few of my fellow hockey moms this week.  I guess that means we need to add one more medicine to the cabinet in anticipation of hell week next year.

Now that the adrenaline is starting to calm and our collective S. Florida hockey community is moving forward into next season, what’s next?    Oh you know I’ve got a list for that…

  • New Equipment Shopping!  This is a great time of year to start picking up equipment for the following season.  Hockey sites, like PureHockey.com, Hockey Monkey and Hockey Giant run spectacular sales this time of year.  Pure Hockey is currently running a great sale on Bauer Skates.  With Bauer Senior N8000 skates marked down 40% and Bauer’s S180 skates are currently 25% off.

Bauer Supreme S180 Ice Hockey Skates [Senior]

Bauer Supreme S180 Ice Jockey Skates [Junior]

Bauer Nexus N8000 Ice Hockey Skates [Senior]

  • Focus on you.  That’s right hockey mom/day, it is okay to focus on you for a bit right now.  You just spent a week in hell fighting for your kids, fighting to stay away at work and fighting to get through it all.  It is time to do you!  I enjoy yoga, but that’s not for everyone.  Take some time to read a good book, drink a great brew, start training for your own fitness goal or chill beachside.  Either way as long as you’re feeding your soul, you can’t go wrong.   As for me, I’m headed to Barnes and Noble to pick up yet another book I probably won’t finish.

Barnes & Noble – Explore Barnes & Noble’s Coupons & Deals!

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  • Remember regardless of where your kids end up, it’s all about them.  As long as they’re happy and excited to play the game we all love, that is all that matters.  The rest of it, especially the schmucks don’t really matter.  Move on gracefully and enjoy the ride.

As for us, we’re excited for both of our boys.  Next year they’ll be joining the Floria Junior Panthers organization.  Each season they’ve played has brought them to this point, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank all the coaches they’ve had before for getting them to his point.  Now it’s time to go chill in my yoga silk and let the weight of the last week fall off my shoulders.

 

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter to the blogosphere. I don’t know about you guys, but I started my day with a sensible breakfast of eggs. While the breakfast of eggs part was true, the sensible not so much. Unless, of course, your breakfast of eggs was made up of Cadbury eggs.

Our egg/basket hunt was a bit disjointed as Jake had to leave for work before Goalielocks woke up. While we could have woken him up to hunt the hunt, it’s better to let sleeping beasts lie. Though shall not wake up a teenager unnecessarily. We’ve learned that lesson the hard way.

The boys enjoyed their baskets. Admittedly, they were quite simple, but we’re trying to move towards a less is more kind of lifestyle. Fortunately, I planned the candy but well so as to leave enough extra Cadbury Eggs for the hubby and I to enjoy.

For the majority of the day, we chilled at home binge watching the Trailer Park Boys. If you’ve never watched this show, you’re missing out. The show follows the unbelievable antics of three friends in a trailer park. Unfortunately, for these guys the park provides a pretty toxic environment.

We also made so progress on the remodel project we’re starting in our family room and kitchen. After some debate over paint colors, we narrowed it down to three choices. Consequently, we headed to Home Depot to get some samples. Afterwards, the Hubby painted the sample on to the wall in two areas, so we could make an intelligent case. Here are the colors? What are your thoughts?

Lastly, the Piggie and I got in a good four mile run this afternoon. Admittedly, neither my speed nor my endurance is where I’d like it to be heading into Thursday’s race. While I’d love to finish the corporate run (5K) below thirty minutes, I don’t think I’m there yet. Anyway, I’ll let you know how it goes on Friday.

Obsessed With Shipt

Confession time, I’m completely obsessed with Shipt. For the uninitiated, Shipt is the grocery delivery service owned by Target Corporation. When you sign up, you can shop at stores close to your work or home and have the groceries delivered.

The first time I used the service was the day we returned home from the Bahamas. I desperately needed to grocery shopping, but I had no energy to desire to make that Target run. Consequently, I placed an order through Shipt for a Publix run.

It was amazing. My shopper communicated with me whenever necessary. She wasn’t a faceless being on the other side of the app. In the case that an item was out of stock, she did a great job providing replacement options. The entire process was completely seamless.

Naturally, as I got into a rhythm with my housework, my desire to make a Target waned. Frankly, I can’t cope with the snowbirds. Consequently, I sent two separate orders one to Target and one to Publix. While the Shipt App may be slightly more expensive, it does prevent you from buying everything you see at Target. In the end, we got all of our groceries and never left the house. Moreover, I spent less money than I would had I actually gone to the store.

If you’d like to check it out, click here. I can’t recommend the service highly enough. For the hockey mom, busy family on the go, working people, Shipt is the perfect way to save time and get things done without missing a beat.

Shipt