It’s a bit rainy. It’s a bit muggy and ehh. A lot of people had vacation plans scuttled this week due to the, well, everything.

It means there’s no better time to celebrate Bag Cat using a new top-entry litter box!

Enter the Julies.

Let’s dust off the rainy/muggy/I-should-be-in-Europe-right now with a Bliss-ful celebration of things worth shouting about. (Shouting, like, with glee, not with stay-off-my-lawn-and-put-a-mask-on-ness.)

This week, Bag Lady will bestow half a dozen Julie Awards, so named after the month of July, to things currently making days and nights a little brighter.

In four weeks, Shopping Siren will award her own Julies.

Let’s get to it!

The Julie Award for Sweet Innovation (tie): Wilbur’s of Maine Shah bars (six for $13.50) and Vittles & Variety edible chocolate chip cookie dough cones ($4.50/cone or dish)

I mean, where to start.

The Shah bar, in milk or dark chocolate, features a wrapper with the smiling face of Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah and 10% of sales go to the Freeport Community Services Food Pantry. He was a great sport to play along, it’s a great cause. An easy Julie.

For the second, the Lewiston eatery has started serving scoops of chocolate chip cookie dough — not the ice cream, the dough itself — in a cone, and bravo.

The Julie Award for Unexpectedly Entertaining: Cheesy summertime game shows!

We’re not normally a household of Uranus jokes and watching people eat ghost peppers while walking on a treadmill under heat lamps, but hello, 2020. We are now.

ABC’s “Holey Moley II” and “Don’t,” along with Netflix’s “Floor is Lava,” is scratching some sort of plain silly, escapist itch and totally hitting the spot.

The Julie Award for Maintaining An Amicable Relationship With Your Cat: ScoopFree by PetSafe top-entry ultra self-cleaning cat litter box, Petco, $169.95

A month ago we had an incident — Bag Cat knows what it was, and I’ll say no more, except that I’m very grateful we had an oversized carpet remnant under the litter box — and we immediately started Googling top-entry boxes. After setting this new litter box up, I was a little nervous about both her dexterity in stepping down in and her ability to fit through the modest hole with her expanding waistline.

However, success!

She’s adapted like a champion, and I’ve had to ponder: If I had to fit through a narrow opening every time I had to use the bathroom, would I lay off the second Shah bar? Probably, maybe? But let’s not find out.

The Julie Award for Aiding In The Need For Fewer Grocery Store Trips: Vacuum-sealed meat!

I stumbled onto a deal for Pineland Farms’ 16 oz. hamburger packs during my last grocery trip, and the time before that it was a few packs of Hatfield Texas’ smoked pork loin. (Both delicious, both highly recommended.) I’m trying to spread out trips every two weeks and it makes life so much easier to know I can lazily pop something in the fridge for seven to 10 days without having to immediately repackage it for the freezer and mess with thawing later.

Lazy side tip: Check out Food.com’s Quick! BBQ Pulled Pork recipe for stove-top pulled pork in less than 30 minutes!

The Julie Award for Using Every Scrap of Soap in the House: SoapSaver mesh pouch, two-pack, Amazon, $7.99

Mr. Bag Lady is newly obsessed with these pouches and leaving no sliver behind. With liquid hand soap harder to find in the immediate aftermath of the quarantine lockdown, it was bars of soap aplenty around the Bag House, which meant dwindling mushy messes and scraps.

Toss all your soap tossables in these little mesh bags, hold the bag under the faucet to lather up — it feels a little weird the first few times, but you get used to it — and rehang the bag on its cord after you’re done.

He’s hung them in the bathroom, by the hose outdoors, packed one away in the camping supplies and even gifted them. Seriously. Mr. Bag Lady could not be more over the moon about this soap sack.*

* And I am absolutely wracking up the things I never thought I’d type . . .

The Julie Award for Pretending For A Moment It’s Not 2020: Carolyn Hax archives (newspaper subscription required)

The Washington Post advice columnist’s weekly live chat archives stretch back to 2003, simpler times when people griped about dial-up speed, meeting a date online was a novelty and no one had heard of social distancing.

Back in March, I started at the beginning, each night taking in the jarring news of the day and then flicking over to the archives and letting my brain relax to roommate disputes, bridezillas and pre-pandemic fraughtness, which is about where I’d wistfully like my fraught level to be.

Hand me a cookie dough cone and hit me with stress over blending families, broken engagements, a woman contemplating her third cross-country move and a man with questionable “dead rat breath.”

Ahh, I’m drifting off already. Maybe I’ll dream of Uranus.

Bag Lady’s true identity is protected by a pair of stylish, sweater-wearing Doberman pinschers (who have vetoed any top-entry anything) and the customer service counter at the Sun Journal. You can reach her at [email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.