Zehrs Online Grocery Shopping Review

I was talking with a friend a couple of weeks ago about how much he hates the process of grocery shopping to the point he’s come to dread the tedious chore. I suggested trying Zehrs’ new online grocery shopping service, knowing very little about how it actually worked. He confided in me that not knowing what to expect from this new way of shopping would make him as uncomfortable as he is doing it the tried and true way. I said I would help him any way I could and we left it at that.

A few hours later, I had the idea to test the service out myself so I could let him know what the procedure was. A day after that, I realized he’s probably not alone in letting his introversion and social anxiety get the best of him when it comes to this sort of thing and that there may be others who are curious about this pre-self-serve-supermarket throwback style of how we do our weekly shop, so I had the idea to try it out and share my experience!

Placing the Order

The process starts out easily enough, you choose a 2 hour time slot for when you would like to pick up your order. You can choose any time, from 9 am – 7 pm, seven days a week, up to two weeks in advance. The pickup fee for 9-5, Monday – Friday is $3, while the fee for after 5 pm and weekends is $5, which seems entirely reasonable. (You can try it out for free for your first month by using coupon code FREEMONTH at checkout.) You can place an order up to two hours before pickup and you can alter your submitted order up to midnight the night before your pickup day. There is a $30 order minimum.

Next, you add items to your order by searching for them or browsing by section. If you are a PC Optimum member and swipe your card every time you shop, you can shop from a special section of your frequently purchased items to speed thing up. I imagine this feature will become even more useful the more you use the online ordering and build a database. It took me much longer to shop online than it does to shop in person but I got really bogged down in just how easy it was to shop the sales and compare prices, nutrition and ingredients of similar items, especially ones that aren’t displayed together in the store. It was so much easier to discover new products when shopping online vs in store. It was easy to say, “oh this looks good,” and add it to your cart with the click of a button, but it was also much easier to change your mind and ditch your impulse items at checkout – and not feel like the monsters who shove their mistaken ground beef in the magazine rack. When you are done shopping, you checkout, mark any items that you will not accept a substitution for if they become out of stock, provide your credit card information and have an option to tick a box if you would like to bring your own bags. I chose to have my groceries bagged before pickup and as far as I can tell, there was no charge for the bags.

After you place your order, you receive a confirmation email. On the morning of your order pickup date, you receive an order update email with pickup information, that looks like this:

It also includes a list of any items that were out of stock that day and had to be substituted. Here’s what my substitutes looked like:

Most of the items that were not substituted were because I asked that they not be. I guess they were out of jalapenos that morning and had no obvious substitute to work with. As you can see, my $0.49 name brand soups were substituted for an $0.89 off-brand soup, which I had an option to decline. I chose to keep them and they came in a separate, colour coded bag for easy subtraction.

Picking Up the Order

About a half hour before our pickup time slot, as we were running other errands, we received an inconvenient phone call detailing all the information that was included in the email and were asked if we would like to pay with the credit card used during online checkout. I assume this call was due to the newness of the program, both for the store and the customer, and hope it can be done without in the future.

When we arrived, we looked for the specially reserved online order pickup parking spots located near the entrance and took the last remaining one as the others were filled by people who were shopping regularly and are, I guess, not great at reading signs. We called the number provided, a general store employee answered and we were transferred to the correct department. A very cheerful woman on the other end of the line then asked us for the parking spot number we were in and told us to sit tight and she would be out with out order in five minutes. After a little more than five minutes, she appeared in a safety vest with our cart of groceries. My husband got out of the car to open the truck for her and help load in the groceries. She thanked him, handed him a bottle of water and a small bag of free snacks with a handwritten thank you note, and told him he could sit and relax in the car. She quickly and carefully placed the groceries in the trunk, closed the door, waved good bye to let us know she had finished, and we drove off. We completed a few more errands and went home to unpack out groceries. We noticed that they were very well packed, with cleaning products separated in their bags, cold things together, pantry items together, etc.

All in all, the whole experience was quite simple and pleasant. I could have done without the phone calls, but I’m sure it’s an improvement that can be made as the store figures things out. I would definitely continue to use this service for my larger, organized grocery shops. Even when the free trail ends, and we have to pay the pickup fee, I think we will still save money when it’s so much easier to shop the sales and compare prices using the online shopping system; the “sort price low – high” button was my best friend. Plus there is the cost of our time saved not trudging around a busy grocery store.

Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review

Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I’ve had my eye on these Pretty Polly extra thick winter tights since the weather first started turning cold. I’ve picked up a few of the brand’s tights and stockings at my local drug store and they’ve all become quick favourites. The high quality and cute, yet practical, designs are everything I’ve ever wanted in tights. When I saw the entire Pretty Polly rack at my local Shopper’s Drug Mart on clearance this past weekend, I quickly grabbed the last pair of 80 denier Heatsense tights.

These tights claim to be made with special yarn that helps retain body heat in the cold, on top of being luxuriously thick. I decided to test them out on a frosty January morning. Putting them on, I could tell they were unlike other tights. The fabric is very soft and heavy and has only a little less stretch than regular tights. They were almost too warm when I was running around the house all layered up after a hot shower. Stepping outside into the soft winter sun, I barely felt the cold. It was almost like wearing thin jeans. After about 45 minutes of walking around my neighbourhood and stopping by a local park on a frosty, just below zero (Celsius) morning, only my toes were cold. My legs were cozy and comfortably warm the entire time.

When it gets colder, I will probably layer these tights with boot socks or, because they are so thick and opaque, I could probably wear merino wool liner socks underneath and no one would know. I’ve heard tell of 200 denier fleece lined tights made by Pretty Polly. If I ever come across them, I would buy them in a heartbeat!

Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster BlogMorning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster BlogMorning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog

Dress ModCloth
Coat Old Navy
Hat ModCloth
Mittens Roots
Scarf H&M
Tights Shoppers Drug Mart
Shoes ModCloth
Camera Bag Amazon
Button Sparkle Collective

Morning Frost / Pretty Polly Heatsense Tights Review | Sophster-Toaster Blog

I sure hope they aren’t going to stop selling these tights because they are truly amazing. It’s nice to see them in person before buying but if they do stop offering them, the tights can still be found online through the Pretty Polly website.

All photos by me.

Resort Wear (Royal Decameron Panama Resort Review)

I had never been to a resort before this April. As a fan of history and exploration, I really didn’t think they would be my style. I would much rather get lost and learn my way around an exciting new city than sit on the same beach and go to the same buffet everyday.

I arrived at the Royal Decameron Golf and Beach Resort in Panama, to spend a week relaxing, recharging and reconnecting with my mom, with fairly low expectations for the resort. We got off the airport connection bus with all the other cranky tourists and were immediately inundated with some sort of alcoholic mystery punch – which I refused because my hands were already full – and a makeshift check-in table. The check-in area had been moved from inside the shaded, beautifully breeze-filled lobby with it’s large counter and velvet ropes to a small, confused tourist swarmed, pop-up table beside the hot and busy parking lot for reasons I will never fully understand. Finding our room was exasperatingly difficult since we were sent off without any directions and every map around the resort featured a large “you are here” icon that did not move as you did. Just when I was starting to worry that I had been dreadfully correct in thinking resorts weren’t for me, I got my first (ever) look at the Pacific Ocean through the sliding glass doors of our small but efficient hotel room and things immediately improved.

Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

Seeing the beach, dipping my feet into the Pacific Ocean for the first time, and smelling the salt air really lifted my spirits and even started changing my mind about this whole resort thing. Unfortunately, what followed was a very disappointing meal that would, quite appallingly, be one of the best meals I would suffer on this resort. I went to bed early and hungry while the bewilderingly loud, lowbrow, Spanish-only nightly entertainment swelled and surged a few metres from our balcony. This dismal trend of I could get used to this quickly followed by I hate this, I want to go home would continue throughout our stay.

The next few days brought more frustration and poor meals but there was nothing better in the world, to me, than waking up next to that ocean. The breakfast buffet was only decent but it was the best meal the resort provided – and the only thing that opened before 10 am, including the ocean – so I took my time and tried my best to fill up every morning. After all, I knew the horror that was coming with every barf-et lunch and extremely difficult to book a la cart dinner. We spent those early days exploring the few pools and beach bars of the resort that were open and operating, quickly finding our favourites (those with shade and without a DJ) but still giving the others a fair try. We popped down to the small bit of village next to the resort and found the people very friendly and accommodating – something we would learn not to expect from the resort staff. We found that we had to make our own fun during the days, as the resort provided very little, but managed to do so very easily amongst the dazzling and somewhat exotic fruits, flowers, plants and animals.

Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

We each picked a reasonably priced guided day trip off the resort (“Aerial Tram & Gatun Expedition” and “City Tour & Panama Canal“) and got our money’s worth of enjoyment out of them. My favourite parts were the long bus rides where our guides would tell us everything they knew about the history and culture of the country. I hung on every word while the other tourists tried to sleep the journey away – I suppose they were only in it for the destination. Each tour included a meal much better than what was offered on the resort, to the elation of everyone.

When we arrived back at the resort, we would head to our room to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner: a routine I quickly realized I could really get behind. We would spend our days getting sweaty and sandy and wash it all away at the figurative sounding of the dinner gong. It soon became my favourite part of the vacation; I realized I had missed the company of other women. I envied all the women who were brave enough to pack their fine jewellery and high heeled shoes as we casually promenaded to dinner. I felt like a lady of leisure and I promised myself I would find a way to recapture this feeling when I returned home.

Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

Top H&M (old)
Skirt ModCloth (similar)
Shoes ModCloth
Necklace Suzy Shier (old)
Bracelet a street market in Panama
Camera Bag Amazon

Resort Wear \\ Sophster-Toaster Blog

The country of Panama is beautiful and complex and I highly recommend visiting, especially if you are a bit of a civil engineering nerd like me and think canals and bridges are about as neat as they come. And I guess resorts are alright too, especially when you are travelling as a small group of women and would like to drink safely in a foreign country and language. I don’t, however, recommend staying at this resort. If you are looking for a quiet, relaxing vacation filled with good food and drink, I suggest taking your business elsewhere. Perhaps in time they will improve: tourism is new to Panama in the last 15 years and it really feels like this resort is still working out the kinks.

All photos by me and my mom.

‘The Crimson Tide’ App Review

Red tide, Aunt Flow, Lady Time, Period, Dracula’s tea bag, Purple Towel Night, Dragontime, Moon Cycle, Fighting the Scarlet Crusade, Defecting to Canada, or maybe Riding the Cotton Pony.

If you aren’t sure what I’m referring to, I’m talking about menstruation.

Many ladies are interested in tracking their cycles to understand when to expect cramps, the highest chance of pregnancy, or just to know when they must purchase more cotton amour. I use and have used period trackers for three years, and although these trackers are sometimes a day off, I find these apps provide excellent insight to my cycle. So, let us move on to two of my favourite cross-platform Moontime trackers! Continue reading