The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 30, 2012

Shopping experiences

By Peggy Goodrich, columnist
Enid News and Eagle

— Are you a smart shopper? Think about it.

Or, do you just like to shop? There is a vast difference, you know. Most of us love to shop with friends just for a pastime. Some of us even enjoy shopping alone if we really have something we are particularly looking for.

Beyond shopping for a hobby or to keep warm or cool in the malls, there are bargains to consider. I remember when our niece was about 3 years old, she came to spend a week with us. During that time was the Crazy Days sale that used to be all over town. We would join neighbors and friends and buy doughnuts and “beat the crowd” to all the bargains. When my brother asked our niece what she bought, she said, “Bargains! Bargains! Bargains!” She had no idea what was bought, but she knew they were bargains. We sure did have fun that day, as we almost always do on Crazy Days.

Those sales are fun, but just finding a sale is always fun. It is the most enjoyable if you run upon a sale that has not even been advertised yet and you get the first pick of the merchandise. This is even more fun if it is something you have wanted for a long time, or something you really need at that time.

I am surprised at the men who enjoy shopping. Jim is (was) a good shopper. He and I used to spend lots of time window shopping together. When we were dating, we went somewhere nearly every weekend. I just knew that when we married that the shopping excursions would suddenly stop, but they didn’t.

The only time we do not enjoy shopping is in crowds like during the holidays. We like the noise and the music and seeing everybody in a happy mood, but we don’t like waiting in line at the registers or hunting for a clerk to help with fitting or sizes. That is why we do most of our Christmas shopping early. In fact, it is not too early to start now.

By the lines in the stores, people are shopping earlier and earlier every year. That gives so much more time for candy-making and wrapping and enjoying holiday parties and entertaining.

My favorite shopping is for food. I like trying new products and seeing all the beautiful produce. I like trying all the cheeses. I especially like going to road-side vegetable and fruit stands. Honey and jelly taste better if they are purchased at a quaint roadside market. Even though I don’t need pumpkins, I cannot resist buying them if there is a stack of them when we drive by.

I guess it is the same principle as those who shop at garage sales and flea markets. A trip to Park Avenue or Hope Outreach can be a real fun excursion. When my granddaughter comes from Dallas, we always spend some time there and nearly always purchase something that she paints or redecorates and uses in her cute home. No one would guess that she paid so little and it looks so darling and serviceable.

We didn’t do much shopping when I was a kid. The folks went to town and did what marketing they needed to do on Saturdays, but we seldom went. When we did go, my sister, Marianne, and I took our skates and skated on the court- house sidewalks because we had so few places to really skate in the country. We stopped skating only long enough to buy about 10 cents worth or candy at a penny or less per piece — enough to last all afternoon and into the evening. That was really fun shopping. Skating, all that candy and a nickel ice cream cone, and we were ready to head home.

Since then, I have learned to shop ’til I drop. My, how time changes things.

A penny saved is a penny earned. Just buying to be buying is not smart business. If we purchase something just to have the joy of carrying a package and bringing it home, then we are spending needlessly. I have learned over the years that it is OK to return things to a store if it is not satisfactory, or if it doesn’t fit or whatever reason. It is embarrassing, but we learn valuable lessons from making those returns. It teaches us to shop wisely.

If we bought only what we really needed, we would shop a lot less. Why do we think we need six blouses of the same kind in different colors? Why do we think we need all those dishes to entertain? How many bedspreads can you put on a bed at a time? I guess we just like change. Our grandmothers made do with one good dress for church and weddings, and funerals or dress up. And maybe two or three house dresses to wear every day. They made do. Could we? I hardly think so. We are nearing the most important shopping season of all — Christmas. We have been buying things along as we see them. It certainly avoids that last-minute rush and worry about what to give. As usual, I will be making many of our gifts to others. We do not spend more than we can afford on family and friends. We truly enjoy the reason for the season, and that is not to give and get gifts, but to receive love and give love. We have never been disappointed with that plan.

When you have shopped all day and have little time to prepare a meal for your family, make this quick, easy, delicious meal. It sure hits the spot when it is cold outside.

Cowboy Casserole

1 pound ground hamburger

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 (16-ounce) can Ranch style beans

1 small can cream of mushroom soup

1 (10-ounce) can Rotel chopped tomatoes

6 to 8 corn or flour tortillas

1 or 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated

Brown meat with onions. Stir in beans, soup and tomatoes. Layer in casserole the meat mixture and tortillas. Cover with grated cheese. Bake in 350- degree oven until bubbly. Sometimes I cut the tortillas (I usually use flour, but my friend uses corn, so either is fine) in about one-inch pieces and stir them in the meat mixture, but it is a little more festive to layer it, and it tastes the same.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.