I did a little experiment a couple weeks ago. I got some new Rubbermaid products called FreshWorks Produce Savers. A set of three containers was about $30 at Bed, Bath & Beyond in Fairview Heights.
I buy fresh — rather than canned or frozen — vegetables, and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to shop just once a week and make what I buy not go bad if food lasts longer than that. In particular, lettuce has always been a challenge, plus now that I buy those cute little bags of bell peppers, I have to try to keep them fresh, too.
I am always wary of new products that say they’ll keep stuff fresh in the refrigerator. For years, I tried to work with those green bags everybody (but me) swore would keep lettuce from turning to mush.
So, I’ve had these FreshWorks containers for almost a month now. And, they work. The secret seems to be the filter in the lid, which according to the maker, never needs to be changed. (Another product on the market has a filter and you have to change it every so often. Not for me; I’d never remember.) Rubbermaid calls it FreshVent technology, “which creates an optimal environment for fruits and vegetables by regulating the flow of oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of the produce container.” There’s also a waffle-pattern tray that sits on the bottom (it’s removable) so air can flow under the produce.
Pros: I just stick a head of lettuce in the big 17.3-cup container. I don’t have to wash it, dry it, cut or separate the leaves. At the end of 10 days, not one brown spot or piece of icky lettuce. Even better, the mini bell peppers I put in the smaller 2.5-cup container have lasted more than two weeks without a sign of limpness. Plus, everything is top-rack dishwasher safe, even the lids.
Cons: There’s just one. The lettuce containers are big and take up room in the fridge. But, that’s OK with me. There’s less work prepping food to store it and it lasts longer — that’s more important to me.
Also, you can buy the pieces separately and there is a medium-size (6.3-cup) container, too. That’s next on my list. I’m going to see if I can keep my broccoli from turning rubbery.
I paid a visit to the Habitat for Humanity Restore in downtown Collinsville this week. It’s at the corner of East Clay and Church streets, but you’ll have to look around the corner for the entrance; it’s on the side of the building. What you find on a given day will vary according to deliveries and donations. A volunteer crew was unloading furniture while I was there. It’s a very spartan store, but if you need items like door hinges, knobs, toilets and light fixtures, you should check the place out. I saw some very nice chandeliers that looked like new with price tags ranging from $25 up to $70.
Back in Fairview Heights, I stopped in Charming Charlie, located in the Shoppes at St. Clair in front of the mall. I needed a dose of color to liven up a dreary day. Sure enough, I was definitely cheered up by the sight of coral and turquoise bags, jewelry and accessories that made me think of spring. To my left, a display and shelves held similar items in shades of purple and lavender. To the right, vivid red. The retailer likes to divide up merchandise by color, which I find both appealing and logical. Prices at Charming Charlie are always so downright inexpensive that I have to look twice at tags sometimes. A delicate gold chain necklace with a faux turquoise faceted stone for $5? Yep. Plus, a big striped tote bag for $39 and a pretty coral scarf for $15.
Around the corner at Kirkland’s, you’ll find big, heavy glass lanterns with metal handles on sale for $14.99. They’d be great for indoors or outdoors. Plus, browse the clearance goods and take a gander at the two for $20 throw pillows.
World Market in Shiloh has a sale on its wall decor, including some metal, embossed, white-washed squares called Ivory Venetian Tile Plaques. Each is about 12 inches square and $15.99 on sale.
News of the weird: Ulta Beauty in Fairview Heights is carrying Lipstick Queen products, which include pink tubes of Frog Prince lipstick, lip gloss (for $25, ouch!) and blush ($24). All go on lilypad green, then react to the warmth of your skin/lips and turn “your own perfect fairytale pink.” Obviously, you want to perform this cosmetic trick in front of others, or what’s the point?