Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How The Other Half Lives

My family has always teased me about my "champagne tastes".  When we went on family outings to grand old historic houses I invariably would ask my parents why we didn't live there...it would be so nice to have all that room!  Fancy hotels thrilled me (we generally did not stay in them but often would go to them for brunch or otherwise get the experience on the cheap), and I looked forward to the Christmas season with great anticipation because December meant that I got to pick out a fancy taffeta dress to wear to the various family parties. 

Now it's not that I long to be rich per se.  I don't want seven houses, I'm not all that bothered about a closet full of $700 shoes (although a pair or two would not be unwelcome) and I'm perfectly content to stay in charmingly modest accommodations when I travel.  It's more that I want the easy life.  Not a life of leisure, not a life where working is inessential, just a life where things run smoothly.  

I would like an unending supply of clean, thick towels.  I would like to never run out of toilet paper and thus avoid the last resort that is the napkins that come with takeout orders.  I would like for my clothes to be clean at all times and for them to be ironed when I want to wear them.  And I would like to have a consistently well-stocked refrigerator.

Now all of these wants could be accomplished with a couple of good housekeepers.  But then that would require a higher paycheck than the one I receive every two weeks.

However, a year or so back I came across a short interview with some sort of rich hostess type and she shared her secret for a well run household:  have duplicates of all vital items.  Her vital items included high quality tea cookies so that she could prepare an inviting offering for the odd guest who drops by for afternoon tea.  This is not the type of guest I tend to have, but her basic lesson did not go unheeded.

My truly vital items are almost all of the culinary sort, but I actually enjoy food shopping (particularly my weekly farmers market run) so I rarely run low on these types of items unless Paul has a particularly cereal heavy week and drinks all of the milk before Saturday rolls around.  

However, I like a clean house and a clean person, so my second most vital items all have to do with personal grooming and various housekeeping tasks.  The problem is I really hate going to the drugstore.  The ones in New York are invariably badly lit, cramped, disorganized, grimy and half the time they don't have my brand of choice.  This is not an ordeal that the head of a well run and prosperous household would endure, and hence, as I am trying to fake it till I make it in this respect, neither shall I.

Instead, I have drugstore.com do the work for me.  I don't have to set foot in the hell that is Duane Reed, they always have the exact item that I'm looking for, the shipping is free on orders over $50 and my merchandise arrives within two or three days of me placing it.  

My ordering method is as follows:  every item that I buy on the site I keep at least one extra of around the house (contact lens solution, toothpaste, Paul's deodorant, dishwashing soap, laundry soap, you get the idea).  As soon as I am down to no extra items (i.e. I have just opened the last one) I put the item in my online drugstore.com cart.  They let you keep the contents of your cart for quite some time so it functions as a running shopping list.  As soon as you have either hit $50 or run out of your most vital household item (for me it is my Charmin Ultra Soft), you place your order.  

I find that I feel much less low rent operating this way than I do when I am scrounging around for tiny tubes of toothpaste from airline hospitality bags or various paper products that are not too rough on the plumbing (or backside).  It's a long way from being an Upper East Side grand hostess, but it's a start.


The TownhouseLady said...
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The TownhouseLady said...

That's a brilliant idea. It makes so much sense yet I'd had never thought to do it that way.
Duane Reade, Rite Aid and the bunch really are what I consider hell on earth. Aisles tipping over with product but never the ones you want.

Plus, drugstore.com is one of the few places that stocks my can't live without item, Vitabath Original Spring Green Gelee. Nothing better on earth.

Laura [What I Like] said...

Green Gelee, hm? Sounds intriguing...

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