Metatalktail Hour: Pandemic Shopping! August 27, 2021 5:35 PM   Subscribe

Happy weekend, MetaFilter! This week, I'm curious to know what were your best and worst pandemic purchases?

My best was a watercolor painting subscription box (although close second was a short-sleeved hoodie to throw on for Zooms). My worst was a backyard tent for my children to make noise outside; bugs got in, and my kids refused to go in after!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) to MetaFilter-Related at 5:35 PM (106 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Best: Kindle Paperwhite. Couldn't go to the library anymore for physical books, was always nervous about bath-reading, super-tired of reading on my phone. I've since caught up on a lot of reading. It's not perfect but I'm probably an e-reader person for life now.

Worst: nothing I highly regret. Bought some state park & wilderness passes I barely used (but these go to ongoing maintenance, so okay), a haircut and some wardrobe updates that I won't be able to show off much (but feel good for where I'm winding up gender-wise).

I almost bought some new expensive bike panniers, anticipating a work commute again, but that got nixed before I put the order in.
posted by curious nu at 6:47 PM on August 27, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best: I acquired a nice assortment of 1820s-1830s books and periodicals.

Worst: One of my cats broke my Apple keyboard, and since I'm department chair and need to, you know, reply to emails from my dean in a timely manner, I had to rush out and get a cheap replacement (the nearest Apple store is quite a ways, and I couldn't wait for a mail-order keyboard). Within a week, the same cat broke that keyboard as well, setting some kind of record.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:54 PM on August 27, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best: early in maskmaking I jammed my sewing machine going through pleated flannel, and it wasn’t clear anyone was fixing them. So I bought a cheap Sears Heavy Duty about two weeks before the madness. It’s very nice in its extremely simple way - I have mostly been switching back to my first machine with IDT for lightweight or bias seams, but I did a whole slithery rayon dress on the Heavy Duty absentmindedly and it was fine.

Not so much worst as most embarrassing: a Pfaff 360 that doesn’t work and may or may not be fixable that I absolutely conned myself into believing worked. I mean, the seller was helping, but I was so wishfully easy to fool. I need to get over the embarrassment, cover a bench in paper, and start disassembling to see if I can figure out if it’s worth mailing to the Midwestern shop that can fix the fixable.
posted by clew at 7:03 PM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

My very first painting was this not-great wreath that says "autumn." My one-year-anniversary painting was a rendition of a photo I took of my daughter and my nephew on a nature walk in our town, looking at a stream. It needs more shadows and shaping (especially for the roots across the stream) but you can legit tell who's in the picture! And that my daughter is wearing a dress with strawberries on it! They are recognizable human children! It's so exciting for me!

When I was in elementary school and junior high, I was told I was shitty at art, and visual art was treated like a natural talent that you either had or you didn't. (Written art was treated the same way, but luckily I HAD that skill.) I literally had no idea until last year, when I was 43, that you could LEARN SKILLS related to visual art and DO BETTER at drawing/painting because you LEARNED SKILLS. I honest-to-Jeebus had no idea that there were parts of visual art that were learnable skills; I thought you either knew how to draw things or you didn't know how to draw things. But it turns out you can learn skills! And get better! And nobody told me this until I was forty-three years old!

What's amusing/frustrating is that I've been tutoring writing since I was 16 years old, and my whole ethos about it, since I was 24 or so, is, "This is a learnable skill, and honestly you will probably learn it faster than people who were told they were 'good at writing' in school." I taught countless students who were flunking English how to write five-paragraph essays and readable business memos! But I honestly had no idea that writing and painting had the same learnable skills.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:23 PM on August 27, 2021 [22 favorites]

Simultaneously the best and worst purchase was a bouldering board ordered early on. It's been great when I've used it, but it turns out that the social aspect is a big part of what I like about climbing, and lugging the crash pads in and out of the house every time is kind of a pain. So it's been a bit of an albatross.
posted by jedicus at 7:23 PM on August 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

To get a proper mask fit, I shaved off my beard. So, I bought a proper safety razor and it's been fun experimenting with nice shaving creams and brands of razor blades.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:05 PM on August 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Hmmmmmmm . . .

I think the best were, technically, pre-pandemic (a Roku player in late 2019, since the Blu-ray player I was using to Netflix got too old for app updates (lemme tell ya, having a whole pile of stuff available to watch from a variety of sources was very very very very good to have in 2020)) and post (inasmuch as we are "post"), which was a Squier Cyclone guitar in Shell Pink, which I got once I was back on the job & earning money, because, c'mon, how could you not buy that ??!!?? Look at it!

Probably the best actually during was, boringly, cable internet. Sheer inertia had kept me on DSL, which was still mostly fine for what I do besides a Netflix stream occasionally stuttering. But the prospect of a year with no work, living on unemployment & savings, made me rethink my whole budget, and I discovered I could actually get much faster cable internet cheaper than my DSL . . . well, for a while anyway . . . we know how ISPs tend to roll.

Also since I couldn't go to the library I bought a whole bunch of books - many recommended in various Asks - from a local indie bookstore, and had them shipped. Because not just general "buy local", but at that particular store they're good people, definitely didn't want them to go away. (Mac's Backs, for the record.) Still working my way through the pile.

Also I bought another guitar more-or-less by accident.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:07 PM on August 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I paid for the gas to roll a few miles to get vaccinated, twice. Then I did the same thing for my grandson. I paid a ton to replace the cooling and fuel systems in my VW van, so it could pass California smog testing, and a new catalytic converter. Oh oh oh, I bought a cool collapsible rolling cart, (300# wt. limit,) so I can bring in stuff, bags of soil, all the groceries, all at once, move furniture, etc.
posted by Oyéah at 8:30 PM on August 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: psychoactive drugs.
Worst: different, less psychoactive, drugs.

Just so we're clear, I recommend them both, just less of one and more of the other.

...well, that and 1gig fiber internet. The speed. The SPEED! [please insert an image of a racer bleeding from his eyeballs here, possibly something from a manga compilation, excluding the inevitable explosion image]
posted by aramaic at 8:30 PM on August 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best and worst, for different reasons:

The money I invested in a makeover of the bathroom of my old apartment, which I only got to properly enjoy for a year before I had to move and I could only take like a third of all the stuff I'd carefully shopped for, paid for, and invested in.

The color I picked for the accent wall which I also painted my own self matched the tile in the old place PERFECTLY, people
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 PM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best: gacha
Worst: gacha
posted by betweenthebars at 9:05 PM on August 27, 2021 [2 favorites]

The best: we did a refi on the house, getting rid of the pmi, reduced our monthly payment by 500 bucks, and lowered the rate. Also our stove died so we got a new stove, the 2004 Honda Element died (runs, for sale, 500 bucks or best offer! Mefimail me!) so we got a new car (with 50th birthday help from family) and someone gave us a free new lawn mower. We also got a used cat-proof air conditioner, and with these 90 degree dog days THAT might be the best thing.

The worst: The first air conditioner we got, not purchased but gifted, which allowed a tiny runt year old kitty to briefly escape the house last August. I was home from work for three days waiting for covid test results so I noticed quickly and she did not get far. Our future next door neighbors, looking at a house for sale in a quiet neighborhood, were somewhat alarmed at the shoeless shirtless unshaven lunatic running up their future driveway shaking a container of cat treats.
posted by vrakatar at 9:56 PM on August 27, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best: Stationary exercise bike. With its help I've managed to start and stick to a regular exercise program for the past 8 months. I can definitely feel an improvement in my physical health, and as a bonus I sleep much better as well.

Second-best: Replacement pull-chains for the combination ceiling fan + light fixtures in my apartment. They have a tiny "fan" and "lightbulb" at the ends so you know which one you're pulling. Such a little thing, but so damn handy!

Worst: Instant Pot. I fell for the hype, and tried really hard to make it work for me, but I've found that steaming/pressure cooking is my least-favorite type of food preparation. And on top of that, rice is my least-favorite type of carb. The only plus is that it's good for making chicken stock in an hour instead of 3-4 hours, but I haven't decided if it's worth keeping for that reason alone.

Second-worst: bottarga, which is salted cured mullet roe. I only recently developed an appreciation for sardines and anchovies, but bottarga just doesn't seem to be my thing at all. And it ain't cheap, so I hate to just toss it. No idea what I'll end up doing with it...
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:17 PM on August 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best is a three-way tie: a hammock, a nice new kitchen faucet that actually works, and (technically pre-pandemic) a magnificent cat, Noodle, who noodles about in a noodly fashion, cuddles my kid when she’s sad, and drapes herself around my neck during stressful meetings. Worst was the new router and modem I bought to solve my connectivity woes when I really just needed a competent internet provider.
posted by centrifugal at 10:51 PM on August 27, 2021 [11 favorites]

Best: rollerskates.
Worst: live herbs. (It’ll be different this time, I’m sure of it!)
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 11:26 PM on August 27, 2021 [4 favorites]

which one you're pulling. Such a little thing,

I do not have those kind of fan/light things here but hot damn I wish those were on so many. So good idea.
posted by vrakatar at 11:27 PM on August 27, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not technically a pandemic purchase, but in January 2020 I bought a lightly used electric bike. I commuted to work on it for a month until everything shut down and then it became a rare source of fun, novelty, and connectedness during lockdown and beyond. It's changed my relationship with the city I live in and I love it.

Worst? Probably stocking up on pasta and rice, like a whole cabinet full, just in case, and then deciding to go low carb. Although we seem to be losing steam with that so maybe it'll feel like a small bounty soon.
posted by Tuba Toothpaste at 11:35 PM on August 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

I was unemployed from April-September 2020. After being unemployed for the first six months of 2021 I suddenly got a job and saw paychecks again.

I've gone a little overboard with my first few paychecks. I've paid $4200 to my credit cards, bought a new roomba, a portable AC, some kindle books, paid what I owed to the electric company in light of the shut-off notice, and bought a used laptop for a friend.

Once I get past the first few weeks of excitement I'm going to focus on paying off the credit cards and saving. My financial house is in chaos and it's untenable.
posted by bendy at 12:53 AM on August 28, 2021 [6 favorites]

Worst: spent a ridiculous amount of time and effort tracking down a copy of Ring Fit Adventure. Played it about twice then dropped off it entirely, I was already working out enough out of sheer lockdown boredom and adding those sessions made me way overtired.

Best: a fancy rice cooker. I can cook rice but having one less process to monitor and time while prepping dinner has made a huge, huge difference. I wasn't sure how useful it would be but now I never want to be without one.
posted by ominous_paws at 12:54 AM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

I do not have those kind of fan/light things here but hot damn I wish those were on so many. So good idea.

If you can't find those ones any random mixed matched set of pulls make a huge difference. One of my shop fans has a disco ball and a crystal dolphin for the light/fan pulls.
posted by Mitheral at 1:10 AM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Worst purchases? Having all my groceries, meals and booze delivered for most of the last 18 months.

Was it a bad/expensive idea? Yes.

Am I changing it anytime soon? No.
posted by bendy at 1:12 AM on August 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

We're in Level 4 again to (hopefully) eliminate Delta. A month before we bought a can of Hot Cinnamon Sunset black tea, in the absence of cafes it's lovely fragrant and scrumptious treat. Worst decision was not buying enough Pic's peanut butter :(
posted by unearthed at 1:31 AM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

aramaic, no boom but I'll leave this: Akira Bike Slide Homage - YouTube and the much better quality wise but in German (I think) Die Geschichte des "Akira Bike Slide" - YouTube... Maybe Redline - Trailer - YouTube or even World Record - YouTube. Failure of memory and Google leave me lost at that one eye-bleeding race thing that ended in explosion.

I haven't bought anything good or bad since Covid. I desperately need to go shopping for some new clothes.
posted by zengargoyle at 2:53 AM on August 28, 2021

Best: my husband’s purchase not mine, but maybe this inflatable kayak. My husband has used it a ton, including for some overnight trips, and it let him spend a lot of safe outside time with friends. I’m taking it out for the first time without him today. He’s very excited for me!

Worst: probably the awful instant mashed potatoes he purchased in the initial panic shopping haul. They have expired.

So yeah, I guess my husband is responsible for all the good and bad shopping over this time. I haven’t bought much interesting.
posted by obfuscation at 4:52 AM on August 28, 2021 [6 favorites]

I bought a state-of-the-art dish drying rack to replace my rusty old one. Very expensive but worth it. I can't find a link using my phone but will post one when I'm back at my computer; all two of you who wash dishes by hand will be interested.
posted by JanetLand at 5:00 AM on August 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

- A Herman Miller Mirra 2 chair and desk risers for my office. It has made WFH for the past 17 months enjoyable. Switching from work mode to home mode is turning off a monitor and closing my work laptop.
- A trailer hitch and bike rack. Getting outside to ride my bike the past two months has been wonderful.
- A rowing machine and set of SelectTech 552 adjustable weights.

- RFID Cat Door. Because I lost it somewhere in my house before spouse got around to installing it in the sunroom door. It was expensive and the financial waste is eating at me right now as it is vital that we move the Litter Robot out of my office to eliminate one of the triggers that caused the severe asthma flare up.
- Up until last week I would have said the Litter Robot as well, as two of the three cats refused to use it. It appears that I have hit on the right type of litter as Mayhem has been happily using it multiple times a day for the past week and she was the reason I purchased it.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:05 AM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best would have to have been the fake grass (it’s come a long way!) we put down on the balcony last spring, which lead to us spending more time out on our balcony in the last year than in the previous twelve combined. That, and it was pleasant enough, it allowed me to finally accept that the clay that surrounds our house will never support a lawn, and now that hateful strip of “yard” (about 150cm wide, so mostly useless) is now half filled with a patio I built and half with more fake grass. That area is also seeing more use, including a delightful inflatable pool.*

Worst purchase? Easy. The Dell laptop I got when I found out we’d be teaching online. It works, most of the time, except it likes to drop internet connections when I’m using apps that require a solid connection, like hosting a zoom class for thirty students, or trying to check homework in Google classroom. You know, the reasons I bought the damn thing. I had a Dell that worked quite well and foolishly figured theyd still be good. Never again.

*I was just out in that inflatable pool, relaxing to music and having a tasty beer. Mrs. Ghidorah had already gone in, and I was getting ready to get out, too, when I looked up and, perched on the wall directly behind our yard, was a hakubishin, or masked palm civet looking straight at me from about a meter away, with a look like, “mind if I hop in for a bit?” That was a little startling. Like a cat sized ferret with a tail as long again as its body. Sort of a little startle, and a note that it was time to head in for the night.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:29 AM on August 28, 2021 [12 favorites]

Best: a small camper. We have camped about 50 nights since we bought it in June 2020. It let us get outside safely all last summer, and now it's just our preferred method of travel and recreation.

Worst. A bread maker. We made about 3 loaves and decided it's way too much work for a loaf of bread. I've been meaning to pack it up and ship it to our daughter.
posted by COD at 6:42 AM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best: our new house (it'll be a year on 9/17). It's bigger, the yard is massive and gorgeous, and we're significantly closer to all of our people. Walking distance to some of them. The move made a positive impact in our lives.

Worst: snacks. All the snacks. Bad idea.
posted by cooker girl at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Meal kit subscription. They're overpriced, but my wife and I are profoundly lazy people who both find staring at a cookbook trying to meal-plan to be entirely overwhelming. We bond over building things together (it's the following-instructions-to-make-a-thing part) so this kind of cooking is great for us. I've heard there was at least one covid outbreak at the local warehouse for the service we use, and I am fairly massively ethically conflicted about this, however.

Worst: A cabinet full of canned soup and canned veggies, purchased early when supply chain shortages seemed more reasonable. We'll have to eat Campbell's at an unnatural (for us) pace to get through this before it expires.
posted by Alterscape at 7:02 AM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best purchase: Bluetooth over-the-ear headphones with noise-cancelling, since I am able to write this from my home office, and not my prison cell. (Backstory: I have an EXTREMELY LOUD TALKING husband who talks to clients on the phone all the livelong day.)

Worst purchase: Still the air fryer, which has finally been used once or twice, and has permanent home on top of the refrigerator. Not that seeing it there gives me any greater motivation to use it...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:11 AM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: finally getting over my weird paper-book elitism and buying a Kindle Paperwhite! Also a hooded Snuggie for lounging.

Worst: a twice-used Sunny exercise bike that sits in the corner of my living room mocking me :/
posted by stellaluna at 7:29 AM on August 28, 2021

Best: Not a purchase, but a digging-out-from-storage, my Ibanez Mikro bass which used to be my son's when he was 8, but actually fits me (as a 5'4" woman) just fine and sounds OK, and learning how to play electric bass after several decades as an acoustic guitar player has been my pandemic project.

Worst: Lots of booze. All the booze. When you don't have anywhere to go so you don't need to stay sober to drive anywhere, well then you don't stay sober so much. In the long term it's probably not the best plan.
posted by Daily Alice at 7:32 AM on August 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best: Hearing aids to replace the last set. 1 was lost when it fell out of my ear, the other one died, and repair is not an option.
Worst: iPhone. iPhones are more hearing aid compatible, so the hearing aid maker only makes the software that fully controls them for iPhones. So far (5 months) it does less, less well than my old Android, though it does work with the hearing aids. Build quality and battery life will have to make up for it. I guess I saved on not needing AirPods. /sarcasm, the hearing aids are expensive, but at least in Maine, covered partly by health insurance.

I don't shop much though I did just decide to get safety stuff - grip tape for the back steps, which are slippery in rain, grip stuff for the shower, and I need to put a grab bar in the shower. When I soap up my feet, they get slippery, and boy, I'd be pissed to be a statistic, getting injured falling in the shower.

Best recurring expense: Internet, so I can download books from my library, listen to music, watch streaming video, and spend time online with all y'all.
posted by theora55 at 8:24 AM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: Meds. Therapy. Cats.

Worst: I spent a fair amount of money ordering clothing and shoes to wear to places I mostly don't go to any more, like work or church or dinner out. Part of this happened at the beginning of summer 2020, when my work was still being cagey about our work from home policy, and I kind of figured I'd be back in the office in July or August. But I repeated the error a few weeks ago, before it became clear that Delta was going to be a thing. So I've got work dresses with the tags still on hanging in the closet from last year, and cute summer tops still sitting in the Torrid bag because they are too bare (sleeveless) for work and too nice for hanging out around the house in.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 8:36 AM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: horseback riding lessons. I did this as a kid and adored it, but eventually stopped. (Reasons.) Sometime in 2020, it occurred to me that when you're in a barn, you're kind of also outside, so I figured it would be a good way to get out of the house without being inside a virus incubator. It's almost as great now as it was when I was 14, except that now I'm aware of my own mortality and also I don't bounce as nimbly as I used to when the horse and I unexpectedly part company. (Well, I didn't expect it.) Still, worth every penny and strained muscle.

Worst: nothing, really, although a bunch of new plants I put in the garden last spring didn't turn out so well, for reasons I don't quite understand, except there are Japanese beetles. Those I understand.
posted by scratch at 8:38 AM on August 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best: Definitely the standing freezer I bought to replace my infuriating chest freezer. There was a big supply chain problem so it took months and months to get, so I cherish it all the more. I can open the door and see everything I have! I simply extend my arm and grasp the desired item with my hand without being crushed by an avalanche of frozen roasts or smashed on the head by the falling door or getting high-centered on the edge of the freezer trying to find something at the bottom!

Worst: I regret nothing.
posted by HotToddy at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2021 [10 favorites]

Fun thread!

Best but doesn't bring me joy: a locking safe for all the kids devices after we'd run out of hiding places 2 weeks into the shutdown. It took 6 weeks to ship and I remember thinking 'are we really going to need this 6 weeks from now'? and when it came my son was so enraged he tried to disassemble it but no one complains anymore, it's just part of our routine and we don't have to change the lock combo toooo often.

Best that brings me joy: The 'how to sing' Great Course. Similar to EyeBrows McGee I had mid life epiphany that I could actually improve at things if I wanted to and had been sold a load of baloney with this 'natural talent' thing. And I have, and I love having actual technique instead of just hoping I'm doing it right.

Worst: a number of dresses I bought in the middle of last July, they were all closeout prices so it wasn't a lot of money but I look at them and think about how I thought this would all be over soon and ...The worst is the *matching Christmas plaid dresses* I bought for my daughter and I. We are not a dress up for the holidays family at all and yet last July I envisioned we'd go all out when we finally saw my family at Xmas. (We did not bring the dresses when we did finally see them this year - in July). I'll probably wear mine eventually for holiday performances, but seriously, what was I thinking?
posted by snowymorninblues at 9:14 AM on August 28, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best: anti-anxiety meds. Patio furniture. Animal Crossing.
Worst: too many to count. I've been on a 18 month amazon bender and have boxes of purchases, some still unopened, I did not and do not need and now need to deal with. Exercise equipment, tons of electronics, shoes, kitchen gadgets. Ring light for zoom calls. A new printer that i haven't even unboxed. According to the ADHD TikTok hole I've fallen into, I've been "chasing the dopamine". This is a very bad, very expensive habit. Thankfully I've slowed down, but my brain is way too optimistic about the things I will do with the fun new toys than the rest of me that actually has to do the things.
posted by cgg at 9:18 AM on August 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

My best was undoubtedly the PS4 I ordered in early March 2020 because I saw the way the wind was blowing. I swear it saved both my and my partner's sanity through lockdown.

Worst was probably the £250 express PCR test I needed to book solely because my flight was on a Sunday and the standard service lab didn't operate at the weekend.
posted by knapah at 9:40 AM on August 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best: Leggings. Soooo many leggings.
Worst: No regrets. I bought what I bought.
posted by bookmammal at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

best: a hot tub, when it became clear the town pools wouldn't be an option for Summer 2020. 5 stars, wildly expensive but worth it.

worst: nothing too egregious. My biggest purchase-related regret is not replacing my water heater before it broke and flooded (1ft standing water) my basement a week ago.
posted by ethand at 11:04 AM on August 28, 2021

Best: equally split between my bike and my rats.

Got a bicycle right after the hard lockdown, when we hadn't been allowed out even for exercise. I was struggling with severe anxiety and depression, and the bike saved me.
It means I can go out by myself without being in a car. We live in a beautiful place, and cycling next to the sea or on the mountain is just the best. Honestly, for a while I would just cycle up and down outside my house when the anxiety bit too hard. Something about the rhythm of cycling is instantly soothing.
The rats, Maurice and Frankie, came from a rat rescue org. They are so soft and sweet and funny and gentle. Maurice has this way of muttering when he's feeling particularly emotional about cuddling and receiving rubs and tickles.

Worst: some hair oil.
Bought on impulse on the shopping app I'm using to have groceries delivered. My hair has been going grey since my twenties, but now it's going dry as well. I kept it buzz cut throughout the pandemic so far, but recently let it get longer in anticipation of getting a proper haircut at a salon when I'm fully vaccinated (2 weeks from now!)
The result is that I look like a fluffy grey dandelion. Hair oil seemed like a good idea.
Except that not only was it the (suspiciously cheap, in retrospect) oil bright green, it stank of some dreadful perfume. Had to wash my hair out immediately. Couldn't stand the smell.
posted by Zumbador at 11:26 AM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: actually a pre-pandemic purchase, but I got a new Honda Fit to replace my dying Saturn. I almost made the leap to go carless because I am primarily a bike commuter, but I couldn’t quite bear to give up the car option. In retrospect, good move. It’s barely got 4K miles on it even after 2 and a half years, but it made the staggering task of running Plague Time errands slightly less foreboding.

Worst: an electric piano, which I twiddled half heartedly with for a few weeks when I got it, and it’s been lurking alone in the spare room since then.
posted by notoriety public at 12:08 PM on August 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best: Cardigan corgi puppy.
Worst: all the chew toys he chewed through.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:40 PM on August 28, 2021 [8 favorites]

Best: bought a fraction of a yard of topsoil for raised beds and of course ended up with more than we could use for that. My kid has gotten so much fun out of a pile of dirt. Construction toys, burying things and rediscovering them, throwing clods at things, adding water to make mud, digging holes, making roads, etc. My other best was just going through my underwear and bra drawers, throwing out things with holes and things that didn’t fit and buying stuff that does. Probably silly but reaching into my undies drawer in the dark early morning hours and knowing that anything I grab will be functional brings me joy.
posted by sciencegeek at 1:26 PM on August 28, 2021 [10 favorites]

Best: An elliptical exercise machine. It takes up a lot of space in our small dining room in our small house, but I needed to do something for exercise since the gym wasn't an option (and has since gone out of business, so I couldn't go back if I were inclined to return, and I'm not yet convinced that would be a good idea). The bonus is that my wife has discovered she likes grabbing the iPad and watching videos while using it, which was unexpected since exercising on machines generally hasn't been her thing.

Other best: I just got a second monitor for my laptop that I mounted to the wall in our kitchen. I tend to work in various locations around the house, and most of my work can be done on a smallish single screen, but it's been very handy to have the second screen at times. Why the kitchen? My wife has taken over the office since she's been working at home. There's space for both of us there, but I vastly prefer working in my own space.

Worst: All the snacks, and all the booze. But, hey, at least I've got the elliptical.
posted by mollweide at 2:57 PM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

I bought a lathe shortly before the pandemic became a thing and that really helped to keep me busy once lockdown started.

As far as other things I bought thinking they'd become Big Pandemic Hobbies, I got a fish tank (and the sort of stuff one gets with a fish tank) and that's been thriving throughout. It's in my home office and it's fun to look over and see the little fishies swimming around, totally indifferent about the world of healthcare IT.

I also bought a banjo early on, got obsessed with it for about a month, and haven't touched it since. Ditto a unicycle. I had one, I re-learned how to ride it, and then bought a better one so I could ride faster and further. Then it was either raining or 97 degrees for the last couple of months so I haven't been riding much.
posted by bondcliff at 3:15 PM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: hot tub. Technically doing the electrical work to power the hot tub that had been loitering in my yard for a couple years.

Worst so far is buying Affinity photo as in the last three months I've only spent about 20 minutes with it but I'll eventually get into it.
posted by Mitheral at 3:33 PM on August 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Using the stimulus check, my best purchase is a GreenWorks self-propelled electric lawnmower with batteries and charger. I was getting very little exercise with Barton Springs closed most of the pandemic and my brother-in-law had an injury precluding him from bringing his mover over to mow my weedyard. I use a wheelchair, but I can walk a few steps at a time, so I concocted a scheme to bring a stool outside and mow a few steps then sit and rest and then mow, rest, etc. I've been mowing since March, a few steps at a time, and have been getting much needed exercise. Takes me about a week to mow all 3 parts of my tiny yard. It also gets me out of the house and I get to wave at dogwalkers and cyclists.

The worst purchase is a sex toy that I hoped would soothe my lonely state. Unfortunately you can neither try before you buy or return them and have to rely on other people's reviews. And since other people's sexy parts are configured differently, my purchase was less than satisfactory. I was not stimulated but at least the economy was.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 3:35 PM on August 28, 2021 [13 favorites]

When the first lockdown began and everyone on this Island of the Insane was buying all the toilet rolls, I bought a large wheel of cheese.

Don't really need to say anything else, I guess.
posted by Wordshore at 3:58 PM on August 28, 2021 [35 favorites]

Nope, we would've expected nothing less from you.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:08 PM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

When the first lockdown began and everyone on this Island of the Insane was buying all the toilet rolls, I bought a large wheel of cheese.

This begs the key question, though: with the cheese, do you sit or stand?
posted by Dip Flash at 5:51 PM on August 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Also do you slice it over or under on the roll?
posted by curious nu at 5:58 PM on August 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: Squier Classic Vibe 70s Telecaster Thinline. It wasn't so much a pandemic purchase as an early 40th birthday present for myself. I've wanted a tele for years and realized "Hey, I'm a responsible adult with some money, and my wellness allowance from work covers musical instruments, so why the heck not?" I used to play guitar a bit and always really enjoyed it but it's one of those hobbies I didn't keep up with much after university. It's fun to play again and once I feel a bit safer I might invest in getting some lessons from a good teacher who is not a YouTube video.

Worst: I bought a bunch of exercise equipment I had every intention of using but haven't. It turns out getting myself down into the basement to work out with kettlebells is somehow a lot harder than getting myself to the gym to work out with a few other people and and a motivating coach. Silver lining is because the price and availability of everything were so ridiculous I didn't buy all the stuff I had in my head for said home gym which would have been a lot more money.

So, I've put on like 30 pounds but I can play "Glory Days."
posted by synecdoche at 6:07 PM on August 28, 2021 [12 favorites]

Thanks to an Ask here about tires, my best is a badly needed set of new tires (I almost feel like it's not legit because we thought the pandemic was ending but hey, here it still is). I'm so grateful for people pointing out that there would be expected shortages and price increases because it got me off my ass and postponing for years because of finances. And I love them, they've made such a significant difference on the rare times I drive these days.

The worst is probably the pounds of beans I bought/my friend gave me in the early days of the pandemic. I like beans, but, that was a lot of goddamn beans. I still have bags of kidney beans in the pantry that I can't donate because they came from open bags, but I just really don't want to eat anything right now with them in it.

So many beans.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 9:50 PM on August 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

despairing of buying a whole bunch of new jeans for all the unpresentable threadbare creases and kneelessness of my several very worn pairs, i watched a bunch of mending and sewing videos and then bought some needles and thimble and thread from a youtubed sashiko artisan's website. while i tried to learn the sashiko stitching method, it would be inappropriate to use that word to describe the result of me learning how to mend by sacrificing surviving swatches of one very worn pair to the patching of other, maybe less worn pairs all distressed to the point that wearing them risked harming them more. i did learn a bit, and i did make some rudimentary sashiko-pattern-exploring etudes on some swatches that are now a pillow (another good purchase: there's a store in a nearby municipality you can go to and buy some crap for an inflated price, say, a promotional tee shirt for a past event featuring the branding and iconography of a cannabis entrepreneur's venture, and you may receive as a gift a quantity of lovely name-brand flower in a stinky little container marked "novelty" -- the sashikoey pillow is stuffed with such shirts!) anyway: stitching provided some absorbing, mostly unselfconscious hours. i have, so far, not developed a habit or discipline of routine stitching, but i'm a lot more ready to mend than i used to be! that said, i have an heirloom quilt in need of repair and am certain my skills are not (yet; not now) up to the level of quality both the project and i would demand; i also don't think i can repair the beloved 25-year-old baby-shit-yellow trousers from that department store abroad, alas; maybe could salvage some patches. door alarms for parents' house (probably time for ... something better that also covers windows and (also) reports to me, not too far away), and costs involved in assisting them getting access to vaccines (mostly aggravation and a sense of terrible urgency that seems quaint now) were probably best purchases. new bearings for [peripatetic buddy whose stuff sits in my basement]'s over-shoe-buckling inline blades so little lurk and i could start trying to learn to skate together. a whole buncha gardening supplies. probably this access to the fiberopticosphere. many, oh so many well and poorly spent hours deep in the youtube.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:55 PM on August 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best: A new record player and upgraded hi-fi system. I give credit to my teenage son, who expressed an interest in listening to records back in March 2020 or so. So I dug out my old collection and since then, have entered into the abyss known as modern record collecting. At first it started as buying records that represented my favorite music over my lifetime, but quickly devolved into buying new music (none of which I regret by the way).

My pandemic rationalization was epic: "Hey, I'm saving $100 a week by not commuting, that's 4 records!". For me, the physical ritual of having to get up and flip over the records, or put them back into their sleeves and return them to the shelf, was (and still is) very helpful in breaking up the Groundhog Day vibe of the pandemic. Playing records creates a demarcation in time that doesn't happen with streaming, and has become a crucial part of my waking up ritual that I very much enjoy.
posted by jeremias at 4:19 AM on August 29, 2021 [10 favorites]

Best: My wife and I bought a hose this summer! We moved from an apartment and got about 50 percent more space. It is the third house we made an offer on, but it turns out to be the best house for us. We are slowly making it our own.

Worst: After seeing two eye doctors, I spent $500 on new glasses, which are not working out. Apparently, I have strabismus (crossed eyes). I plan to see a third doctor, who is both a specialist and a better communicator.
posted by NotLost at 5:56 AM on August 29, 2021

Best: An embarrassment of dresses, two crinolines (one hot pink, one emerald green), green metallic glam rock boots, exercise bike (already broken, but hopefully soon fixed), so many records, so many books, gouache, two paintings by a neighbor, matching bright red Acapulco chairs, a wide variety of house plants and potted porch plants, a wide variety of fancy cheese, a variety of fancy gins, Shudder & Criterion (streaming services), gold lame slip on sneakers, pink metallic sneakers, silver glitter sneakers, stupid overpriced sneakerhead sneakers that have nonetheless brought me joy, heated, electric foot massager, black leather jacket (for outside hangouts), firewood, repairing the chandelier I inherited from my grandmother, online piano lessons.

Worst: Klonopin (gives me a hangover), a few classic sci-fi novels people always insisted I would like that I just now got around to (but "Dune" in particular), a couple of productivity apps I have since retired, baking supplies (never used), crafting supplies (never used), two months of online guitar instruction (I'm ready to admit I'm never going to get any better at the guitar), basically every single thing I've tried to plant in my yard, including all vegetables.
posted by thivaia at 6:16 AM on August 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, and under Best, I meant to add: I had my first real haircut in something like 20 months about two weeks ago. My hair was the longest it had been in almost a decade, and like, it's a total cliche and a I get that, but cutting it all off again was . . . well, it was better than a session of therapy
posted by thivaia at 6:18 AM on August 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: a years worth of the Simply Piano iPad app - our kid played it for hours a day last summer like a piano video game when we were working from home without child care, and it set him up well for real piano lessons via Zoom.

Maybe the best, but too soon to tell: I bought a sketchy under-desk treadmill via Amazon after being influenced by TikTok. I had purchased an IKEA standing desk earlier but didn’t love it (surprise, I didn’t love standing at work, either), but walking is actually really great. It’s only week 2, but it is already helping prevent the body aches I was getting at the end of the work week from my previous work from home desk/chair combo. The noise canceling on Microsoft Teams (and maybe my old iPhone earbuds?) is magical enough that my colleagues claim they can’t hear my footsteps during conference calls, and since my team refuses to turn on cameras, nobody can see my head bobbing. I desperately hope that this questionable Amazon 3rd party Chinese vendor treadmill doesn’t die and become an expensive headache. Of course, I had to buy new tennis shoes and athletic socks to withstand hours of walking, but I found some that I’m happy about and even managed to return the half-dozen that didn’t work (thanks, REI).

Worst: comfy clothes via Poshmark that arrived embedded with impossible to remove fragrances. I have a pair of Athleta pants hanging in my garage right now that smell the same now as the day I received them, and I’ve tried everything. I threw out the other smelly clothes and still feel bad about it. I miss in-person thrifting so much.
posted by Maarika at 8:00 AM on August 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: 75+ bottles of sparkling wine (and counting). Last March we had sparkling wine cocktails one Sunday just because, and the next Sunday we had a Zoom happy hour with some friends and sparkling wine seemed like a good way to avoid having to take too long getting the next round together. Then on the third Sunday I said, "you know, if we had sparkling wine that would be three weeks in a row, and that's a trend" and Sparkling Sunday was born. There was one week where Sunday was observed on Monday for reasons, but we've kept it up every week for over a year.

I should also try to figure out how many pounds of flour I've gone through since I started making sourdough, but the bottles of sparkling wine are much easier to estimate.

Worst: the "air fryer" function of the toaster oven I bought. If it weren't for that the toaster oven would also be a best purchase, because the rest of its features and performance are great. But the "air fryer" function is totally underwhelming, and I feel a little hoodwinked.
posted by fedward at 8:04 AM on August 29, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best: Instant Pot. So sad to see the poster above who is not happy with theirs. I use mine twice weekly for steel-cut oats (breakfast 7 days), at least one lentil or chili dish for several days of office lunch, and garbanzo beans from dried - no soaking needed! (and less frequently, other beans from dried).

Worst: Lots of bits and bobs from Amazon I didn’t really need and also feeling bad for using Amazon. And one expensive tunic blouse from The Pyramid Collection which really does not fit properly and I probably won’t wear again but can’t return now. (On the other hand, I have purchased two Pyramid Collection items for a steal from Poshmark recently that I do like, yay.)
posted by Glinn at 9:19 AM on August 29, 2021

Best: Underarmour sports bra. That thing WORKS. And my tenor ukulele - I started playing on a soprano, juuuuust before the first lockdown, only a few weeks. The tenor is beautiful in a way that can never be described as plinky.

Worst: Two sets of plane tickets for the same trip (service changes) that I'm not even taking next weekend (Delta/America/effing hell).
posted by wellred at 9:22 AM on August 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

(Aside: I've seen a couple of people lamenting their purchases of Air Fryers. I LOVE mine. It's worth it for re-heating take-out french fries alone.)
posted by synecdoche at 11:36 AM on August 29, 2021

Best: Rocketbook reusable notebook. I love that I can write and draw easily, then scan and email notes to myself or the team. Its OCR is not perfect, but it works well enough for me.

Worst: Got myself a brand-new suit in the early days of the pandemic. Have worn it exactly once - in the fitting room...
posted by Rabarberofficer at 12:50 PM on August 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best: Ring Fit Adventure - I fell off the wheel hard when it came to exercise during covid and this is one of the few things that has engaged me enough to get activity back into my life. Wish I'd gotten it earlier tho.

Worst: Breadmaker. Got it towards the beginning of the pandemic when the shortages were at their worst, made something like 2 loaves and then never touched it. I should probably give it another shot as I love fresh-baked bread but I'm at least glad I didn't go for one of the super luxe models I've seen.
posted by Aleyn at 1:12 PM on August 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: we installed central AC in our house at the beginning of the pandemic, so we have been able to withstand the heat domes and wildfire smoke in reasonable comfort.

Worst: all the edutainment toys we panic bought for mini wedged piano, which has just cluttered our house or broke within one week of purchase.
posted by WedgedPiano at 1:56 PM on August 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

Lots of booze. All the booze

For the first 3 months or so, I wasn't keen on going to the liquor store, and while we were doing curbside at the restaurant where I work, we were not selling booze at all. I asked my boss if I could shop from our liquor room at a discount. He said yes! Every Sat. night, for months I came home with 8 liters of whiskey in a box, Makers, Jame-o, Proper 12, Bulleit. Knob, an occasional single malt, Crown Royal...when we opened the outside section in late June all that was left was Jim Beam and Jack, we don't like those.

Between that and the take-home food we barely needed to go out.
posted by vrakatar at 2:38 PM on August 29, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: leaning hard into my relationship with a great massage therapist. There aren't many things that make me actually happy, but she's one of them.

Worst: a two-day hospital stay for severe anemia after I fainted a bunch. Super (super) expensive, and got literally no answers or long-term help.
posted by Gorgik at 2:52 PM on August 29, 2021 [3 favorites]

best: tricking out my back deck with a roof and outdoor couch, I have spent way more time enjoying my backyard, rain or shine, and it's been good for my state of mind.

worst: sadly, the nintendo ring fit. I find that I get depressed if I don't exercise enough and without walking to work I am pretty sedentary. I thought having a game to help get me going would be great. I really liked it at first, but the thing I hate about doing exercise is how boring it is. The problem with the ring fit game is that it's a bit monotonous, and stops to remind you that you're exercising all the time. I want to forget that I'm doing exercise, not be cheered on for it by some bloody cheerful cartoon twerp. Nintendo - make a game like portal that you solve puzzles using the ring! that would be so cool. I wish I had spent the money on an elliptical or something that I could use while watching movies.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 3:39 PM on August 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best: waffle maker! We have waffled all the things! We still eat cornmeal waffles 1-2x a week as a carb with dinner!

Worst: new office clothes for the new job that 1. Has stricter COVID protocols than my last one (yay) so is less in person, and 2. it turns out is stylistically is more “creative professional” rather than “business formal”. I now need to figure out fashion instead of the boring black dress/blouse with pencil skirt uniform I’ve had for 15 years. Being tall and observing current fashions (wtf are pants these days) mean that I am rapidly retrenching into something more like minimal business goth, which… is a style change, but also a vibe.
posted by larthegreat at 5:11 PM on August 29, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best: that deluxe Mac'n'Cheese (with crab and bacon) they serve at the Kokopelli Grill up in Port Angeles. The Alaska cruise was cancelled, so we changed the flight to Sea-Tac in order to see the Olympic peninsula. This was in July when things were opening up again; managed to take a quick trip this year. Will try again in November, to San Diego.

Worst: a Smashburger. They used to be so good, when I could Build My Own Big Burger (which extended out beyond the bun, like Saturn's rings) but they've changed the menu, and now they suck. Back to In'n'Out.
posted by Rash at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2021

Best: inspired by an ask, I bout a new Noah mattress with an adjustable frame. It’s been just what I needed to get the rest needed to continue recovering from cancer.
There was no worst- I’m alive, dammit!
posted by dbmcd at 7:29 PM on August 29, 2021 [14 favorites]

Best was an indoor climbing structure and trampoline that converted my living room to an indoor play gym. Also, $200 Pajamas which I now wear to work - because Zoom.

Worst: I actually can't think of anything...
posted by Toddles at 8:10 PM on August 29, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best: clippers that I used to cut my hair down to 3mm which has been amazing. I love it. Still trying to figure out how to be femme with a buzz cut and allergic to makeup but the freedom from hair is made my life 500% better. I would get severe anxiety about sitting for a haircut, and being able to do it myself is great. And now I'm not worried about my brittle, thin, messy, unstylable, balding hair.

Worst: fabric. Lots and lots of fabric that is just sitting there, looking at me, while I've only made a couple dozen masks and one dress in the last year +. I've been ordering the $75 free shipping minimum from Denver fabrics about every 6 weeks since the beginning of lockdown and am running out of space to store it all.
posted by buildmyworld at 9:47 PM on August 29, 2021 [5 favorites]

Best #1. Edward Woodcat (you can see the growth rings). Within a week of announcing the first lockdown in March 2020, I had scoured the rescue cat websites and scored my (now) 6yo ginger mate. He gives the best eye contact of any cat I know.

Best #2. The taxi I caught last month to the public hospital to have my large incisional hernia repaired by a great surgeon called Butcher, and the treatment I received in said hospital. My modern 2-bed room had a big window that overlooked a hillside of remnant wild subtropical forest. I woke feeling great (anaesthetics and I get along just fine), happy that I got to keep my belly button and enjoying the sense that my innards were again contained within my abdominal wall. I left two days later with drugs from the hospital pharmacy and no whisper of cost. I have had the best possible care with my cancer surgery and subsequent hernia along with consistent specialist appointments by both surgical and prescribing oncologists, and it has not cost me a cent. Not even in pen ink to sign a form except a consent or two. I cannot imagine how I would deal with the natural stress that a major disease causes if I had to manage the cost side of it too.

Worst: A camp-kitchen in a box. Too good to be true. Worth $99 but only $19.99 straight from China! So functional, such good value... Received two cheap and nasty makeup pouch things. I could hear the sellers snide laughter through the emails as I tried to access a refund. In retrospect it was the cost of learning an important covid-lockdown lesson.
posted by Thella at 12:54 AM on August 30, 2021 [5 favorites]

Wordshore: "I bought a large wheel of cheese."

Is it your cheese? Or is it nacho cheese?
posted by chavenet at 5:15 AM on August 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Here is the most excellent and pricey but perfect dishrack I mentioned above.
posted by JanetLand at 6:24 AM on August 30, 2021 [4 favorites]

Because I set up house more-or-less from scratch in the middle of the pandemic, "best purchases" is a pretty crowded field. In theory the best pandemic purchase I made was a treadmill desk, which helped me not crumble to dust when I injured my knees and couldn't run for a long stretch of the winter. I also use it to keep from falling asleep in meetings.

But in practice the best pandemic purchase I made was the haircolor job I got after my 2nd vaccine all-clear. It delights me daily, and because my stylist is a genius it is evolving constantly as it fades and grows out ("which is what the Picasso in Daley Plaza was meant to do, but didn't," she told me). It cost almost as much as the dang treadmill desk and I don't care.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 6:51 AM on August 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've made a lot of good purchases! Best mundane purchase that I should probably have asked my employer to pay for is a desk chair; best non-inevitable tech upgrade (phone upgrades are inevitable) is a bridge camera; best kitchen purchase is a rice cooker; best frivolous purchase is a picture of a cat.

As for worst... I've got less use out of the fitness equipment I bought than I hoped I might, and given that fact, it would probably have been better if I hadn't averaged a packet of salt and vinegar crisps every day for the whole of 2020.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 7:37 AM on August 30, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best: A few days ago I bought a cubic yard of river rocks and a cubic yard of stone tailings and had them delivered and dumped in my driveway. It wasn't cheap but..

I built a recursive labyrinth in my hell strip. It was a ridiculous amount of rock hauling. I still kind of can't believe it even while I'm walking the river rock path. Totally worth every penny and every drop of sweat.

Worst: Sunscreen. A few months ago I bought some fancy ass organic (WHY?!?) sunscreen that I have used seriously not one time ever. It just sits there in the bathroom and I stare at it while I cover my sunburned self in aloe vera. I don't know if it's a matter of adopting a habit of muttering "it puts the lotion on its skin" constantly or what.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2021 [9 favorites]

My favorite sunscreen is a house.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:23 AM on August 30, 2021 [12 favorites]

Best: A race car red Squier Affinity Precision PJ Bass Guitar. With the whole staying all day at home thing, I've gotten in a lot of practice time, and it's a blast to see yourself get better in visible increments, the way songs I struggled to play just a few months ago now come easy.

Worst: random Ali Express crap which seemed like a good idea and when it finally gets here a few months later, I'm like, why did I get this?
posted by signal at 9:28 AM on August 30, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best: Plants! More specifically, herbs! I had always been frustrated every time I spent $2 or $3 on a huge bunch of herbs for a recipe when I needed all of two sprigs, but keeping plants alive seemed stressful and labor-intensive.

Fast forward to now when I have a super-healthy collection of basil, mint, lemon balm, rosemary AND greek oregano (almost... eerily healthy? Like, I wouldn't be surprised if my basil plant downs creatine powder and pumps iron, it's so tall and muscle-y?). It came down to just setting an alarm on my phone to water them, and slowly learning how often to water each plant. There's not a set "rule", it really depends on the plant, the pot, the sun, the temperature, etc. so it takes some trial and error, but I feel like I'm running a low-stakes science experiment each day! The missing jewel in my collection is cilantro, which I buy from the store *constantly* but I'm intimidated by the seeds/life cycle work I'd need to do... I should probably just try it, another science experiment.

Worst: So many clothes. Pre-panini I enjoyed shopping for and wearing fun, interesting clothing, but now that I'm in my house 95% of the time, and the other 5% I'm taking walks/exercising outside, I'm basically always in stretchy pants, sports bras and tanks (with a cardigan nearby for work Zooms). But I've been continuing to buy clothes online, for styles I never wear, channeling my ennui into "Well, maybe I'm now a person who wears an EXPENSIVE FULL-LENGTH DENIM JUMPSUIT!" and then buying it and hanging it up in my closet and staring at it guiltily and trying it on every once in a while, imagining a life where I wasn't constantly on Zoom calls wearing stretch pants. Cannot wait for the post-panini clothing swaps.
posted by rogerroger at 10:55 AM on August 30, 2021 [7 favorites]

rogerroger: "Fast forward to now when I have a super-healthy collection of basil, mint, lemon balm, rosemary AND greek oregano (almost... eerily healthy?"

I recently started, with cilantro, parsley and chives. You can buy them as small plants, no need to mess around with seeds, etc., at any of the many street-fairs/produce markets around Santiago.
I do it mostly for the flavor, it's much better than semi-fresh or dried stuff.
posted by signal at 1:35 PM on August 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

I've scrolled through my Amazon purchases for 2020 and 2021 and I'm pretty happy with everything I bought.

I usually buy a book a month, and most of the books I buy are out of print/hard to find titles that I've been longing to read for years. I have enjoyed almost all of them. A few weren't as good as I'd hoped, but I had to read them to find that out.

I upgraded my cookbook collection, and bought some new kitchen gadgets: a mandolin, an apple corer, a nutcracker, a moka pot, a butter crock, and a plastic knife that won't damage the coating on my baking pans. I bought a bidet attachment for my toilet that I've made good use of, though I do wish I'd gotten one with a spray that does the front and the back, not just the back. I've been buying yarn for various projects as needed, and I bought a fantastic ChiaoGoo 7500-C 2.75-10.0mm Twist Red Lace set of interchangeable circular needles, and I treasure it. (It replaced a partially broken, partially incomplete thrift shop Denise set that used to COME APART AS I USED IT, usually resulting in a few hundred stitches falling off the needle. I'd painstakingly pick them all up again, and then FIVE MINUTES LATER IT WOULD HAPPEN AGAIN. I'm surprised that old set didn't give me a stroke.)

I've bought some fabric I haven't sewn, and audio books I haven't listened to. I've bought a selection of hair pins and clips that I haven't used because I haven't gotten around to learning how to put my hair up properly like a grown up woman instead of just winding it into a knot and sticking a plastic clip on it. (I, er, do use the set of new rosette-shaped tortoiseshell plastic clips I bought -- one's in my hair right now -- as well as the new bamboo brush and comb set I bought.) I also bought a nice wooden chess set to go with the checkerboard my father made me that I haven't been able to use because I haven't had company. But I think of all these items as things I've haven't used yet rather than as purchases I regret. All of them will keep, and I will eventually use them all.

Best: It's hard to pick a favourite thing, but I do especially love my convertible bag, which is a bag that converts from backpack to handbag and back again via its adjustable straps. I put considerable effort into buying and making just the right coordinating accessories for it, but it was worth it, because now it's equipped with all the things I need/want when I'm out and about, and it is the perfect daily wear bag for me.

Worst: I bought a set of queen-sized sheets for my bed that I'm not thrilled with, though I'll use them until they wear out. I recently bought an IPL home appliance I think I may return as it doesn't seem to be making a difference in hair growth the way it's supposed to. I do wish I hadn't been so self-indulgent with buying chocolate and other high-calorie goodies over the last six months, but I've gotten that back under control now.
posted by orange swan at 6:21 PM on August 30, 2021

Best: a post-breakup workcation month in New Orleans with a dear friend (it was last October, neither of us got sick). Or possibly this chair which I sit in every day and love. Jury’s out on whether my impulse-bought ticket to Lisbon for next week is going to beat out both of those, but I’m guardedly positive?

Worst: a subscription to the Cru, bought during aforesaid workcation month in a haze of “success will be my best revenge!” I am simultaneously the exact target market for this kind of thing and (still) in the exact wrongest place in my life for it, getting wronger by the moment. I think structured Lean In circles are just the bees’ knees for some people, and I wish I was those people. What I need for my mental stability, however, is less encouragement towards Greatness and Achievement and Finally Realizing My Potential, and more aimlessly doodling with watercolors and rolling around in the grass like a stoned dachshund.
posted by All hands bury the dead at 7:36 PM on August 30, 2021 [9 favorites]

Best: weighted blanket. Had heard about them and was intrigued, but only once we were stuck inside with bedtime the most excitement of the day did it seem a good idea to indulge. The hug-like heaviness is an instant ticket to deep dreamland.

Worst: Ordered a bunch of edible seedlings from the Cal Poly Pomona Nursery early in lockdown, and didn't take good enough care of any of them to reach harvest--though the green onions are still hanging on as stragglers. It kind of drove home how depressed we'd become, because we know how to keep plants alive.
posted by Scram at 7:53 PM on August 30, 2021 [2 favorites]

Hi Metafilter!

My best pandemic purchase has been a set of Brooklinen’s heathered cashmere sheets. We listened to the Brooklinen founders on a podcast and found them interesting and relatable. Their sheets are so fantastic. Definitely my favorite pandemic purchase. Every bed in the house has a set now.

My second favorite pandemic purchase is a waffle iron with removable grids. You can pop them out and wash them in the dishwasher. It saves SO much time and I am able to treat my family to waffle-y goodness more often.

Less successful:
I purchased some sourdough bread starter and then learned that you really have to be dedicated to maintaining it and feeding it. If you ignore it, it goes bad fast.

My 11 year old begged for a cockatiel so I found one at a rescue in Illinois. Cockatiel wakes up at 6. Every day. Even on weekends. I miss sleep.
posted by Ostara at 9:56 PM on August 30, 2021 [7 favorites]

Ostara, would it be possible to cover the cockatiel's cage? Might extend its sleeping hours...
posted by Zumbador at 2:06 AM on August 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best: Four pounds of candy fruit slices
Worst: the Wagyu steaks that I incinerated on our gas grill (at least they were inexpensive thanks to the gift card I used to buy them)
posted by briank at 1:45 PM on August 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

yea, My cockatiel lives on my weird schedule because I cover and uncover his house when I want to sleep/get up. He is happy to nap when it's dark, and hang out when the I turn the lights on. He is a particularly chill little dude, tho. (Tiel Tax)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 2:00 PM on August 31, 2021 [5 favorites]

Worst: I had a few of those. A really nice looking sweatshirt from Duluth Trading, with kangaroo pockets, which turned out to be simultaneously too big and too wide, but too short, and the sleeves were too short, and it was some weird rough fabric, and not comfy at all. I am still seeking a warm and fuzzy on the inside, but long enough and good quality fabric on the outside, maybe with fold-up cuffs, IDK, but no sweatshirts online seem like the sweatshirts I remember from yesteryear :::sigh:::

Boots: I bought some Merrell hiking winter booties, side zipper, at half price, ignoring the reviews that said they couldn't get them onto their feet. Cue me, dancing around, and then sitting and tugging, trying to get them onto my feet. I was too stubborn to send them back, and eventually did figure them out, but dang, didn't someone try these things on before they designed them? It was like they put a cuff and zipper over a regular winter hiking shoe and said, "we're all good here, n'yuck, n'yuck!"

Food, so much food. Beans and diced tomatoes and pasta. Then it was, I should perhaps not be buying so much food for one person. Fortunately, I have limited space for dry storage, and I did organize it at one point, with dedicated baskets and such, but you know, cans can only stack so far, so I am limited in that respect.

Best: probably books, and subscriptions to TV services like Britbox and the ilk. I will subscribe to one from my Amazon Prime app on my TV if I really, really want to watch it, and then cancel it a month or so later. I should probably learn how to use a Kindle, but there's nothing like going to bed with the warmth of a bedside lamp and reading a real book, getting sleepy, and shutting off the lamp and drifting off. Unless a goofy cat decides to come up to you to get petted or wants to be obnoxious and jump around just for the heck of it.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:48 PM on August 31, 2021

New worst: bought 16 lbs of jalapenos for my mother to make cowboy candy. Something she has done for years. Welp the insane heat this summer apparently was perfect growing conditions for high concentrations of capsaicin because they are easily 10x hotter than normal. Essentially inedible for the anyone in our family. Considering making some jelly to dilute it.
posted by Mitheral at 5:27 PM on August 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Marie Mon Dieu, have you considered a Comfy?
posted by wenestvedt at 5:50 PM on August 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

Yes, yes I have, I bought a Snuggie at a Goodwill, just like that. And then I adopted my cat Kato, and he took it on as his own Thing. He has to pad on it and make it his special cat bed.

So I've been neglectful of my own self, but that's a wicked good suggestion, thank you!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:01 PM on August 31, 2021 [3 favorites]

My daughter has one, as do her friends, and a couple of their moms: very good for winter, they found!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:16 PM on August 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Mitheral, I'll eat your jalapenos. I love cowboy candy!!!

Trade you for rhubarb jam.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:07 PM on August 31, 2021 [1 favorite]

Peloton. Yes, I am that douche, but I swear it’s been a life saver.

Record player.

A full size electric piano for boy #2 who it turns out is an absolute prodigy who loves to play all day long.

About 20 vinyl records I haven’t even opened including 2 I purchased twice without realizing it. Record shopping just isn’t the same online where your choices are basically things you already know and think of to buy on the internet. Alas, very little digging through some guy’s basement shop for 99 cent gems what with the Black Death and closure of each and every interesting independent business.

An electronic drum kit for boy#2 who has little interest and talent. That hasn’t stopped him from banging on my loud real drum kit.

Seattle Sounders FC season tickets. Actually purchased right at the start when hopes were high it would be six weeks and then back to normal. The whole season was cancelled and our tickets were transferred to this year, but now you have to mask up for games and our seats are right next to the visitors’ supporters section and honestly most of the time it’s just more fun to watch at home.

The booze. So much booze. So easy to have it appear at your door in 30 minutes. The neighbors correctly deduced I’d become an alcoholic by the daily visits from the Downtown Spirits delivery truck. I’m mostly sober now for 2 months and am just completely done with alcohol.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:08 PM on August 31, 2021 [6 favorites]

Best: tuition for a fiction writing program. I've always thought you should never pay tuition for an arts degree, and I've been putting off school until I could do the whole application thing and go full-time. But I stumbled across a program that charges the equivalent of one college course at a time. I've written more during the pandemic than in the four or five years preceding. If I do get around to applying for an MFA, I will have a lot more work to show.

Worst? The lease on my car came to an end and I'm in the process of buying it out. The car is semi-satisfactory but I don't care much for the dealership. This is all on me; I can say I would have been shopping for something else but car shortage, pandemic, and so on, but I've just been lazy and avoidant.
posted by BibiRose at 7:30 AM on September 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Best: paid for a dating site (Bumble). I met someone after some disappointing dating (thanks to someone here for mentioning it, I'd never heard of it before). We met in person a week after connecting on Bumble, and it's been over a year and THIS is MY person.

Worst: a sucker for maxi dresses, and clearance sales, I ordered several that really disappointed me when they arrived. And since I'm terrible at sending things back, well, the local thrift shops have gotten all my mis-purchases.
posted by annieb at 3:37 PM on September 1, 2021 [7 favorites]

Best: paid for a dating site (Bumble). I met someone after some disappointing dating (thanks to someone here for mentioning it, I'd never heard of it before). We met in person a week after connecting on Bumble, and it's been over a year and THIS is MY person.


I don't have much to write for myself. I've done all my shopping online since 2013 (I moved countries then) and so there hasn't really been much difference. Probably booze answers both best and worst, depending on my mood.
posted by Literaryhero at 8:35 AM on September 4, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best: Hummingbird feeders and window feeders that I got as answers to my AskMe question. It made me spend so much more time outside during the day, when I really needed sunshine. And now there's a slack channel at work for bird talk.

Worst: Dresses. I bought 5 or 6 dresses during the early pandemic sales thinking I'd wear them all summer. Not only have worn only one of them one time, but thanks to pandemic weight, several of them are too snug now.
posted by gladly at 10:53 AM on September 5, 2021

Best: Finally bought the nice sewing machine I’ve been “saving up/waiting for” since the year 2000 or so. Wow, what a difference from the garage sale and big box store machines. It’s made sewing fun again. Also, got a gift of a subscription to Seamwork which is a fun sewing community, magazine, and sewing pattern maker. They run a “design your wardrobe” 3 week course as a community twice a year which is fun and was a great distraction from the craziness of the pandemic.

More functionally, I broke down and bought a steelcase leap chair after 6 months of pain sitting in a wooden chair from the 1940s. I figured it was cheaper than ending up in a doctor’s office. The stop in business travel meant that I had to buy food in larger quantity than before but after pots and dishes we only had one kitchen cabinet for food, most of it taken up by spices/oils/baking stuff. We had some extra pieces of an IKEA bookcase and bought the extra tall part and more shelves. Now we have a pantry! It feels very fancy. Finally, after waking through grocery stores and seeing empty shelves, especially meat, we signed on to a local meat CSA which has been great to get us to eat a smaller quantity of good meat, instead of what is cheapest/available at the store.

Worst: At the start we had no idea how my industry was going to work virtually and I bought multiple different small tripods to figure out how to stream my work live, and used each only a few times based on my clients’ whims. I bought some fabric masks that were just not very functional, and some filter medium to add to masks which was so thick it looked like wearing a diaper on your face.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:33 PM on September 18, 2021

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