Post #45: I Love Trader Joe's!

Post #45: I Love Trader Joe’s!

Post #45: I Love Trader Joe’s!


Where the American and I live in San Francisco, it’s much easier to buy a Coach handbag than it is to buy groceries. And in most of the cities we have lived in, we’ve lived downtown. Buying groceries was never a problem, because there were plenty of supermarkets in the downtown area to supply the urban crowd. Even in provincial Ireland. But that’s not the case in San Francisco, and is the biggest drawback to living where we do.

Trader Joe's!

Trader Joe’s!

[Source: Trader Joe’s]

Most of our shopping is done at the local Walgreen’s or independent markets/corner shops. We have a mini-Safeway about a mile down the hill, and had a ridiculously expensive independent supermarket about ten blocks away up the hill until recently. Cala Foods closed for good over the New Year period, and in June, Trader Joe’s will be opening up in its place. HURRAH!

In the hierarchy of local supermarkets in the Bay Area, I’d rate Trader Joe’s well above average. Some say it’s very yuppie, but it’s no Whole Foods. Shopping at Whole Foods is a beautiful, insanely expensive but quintessential Northern California experience. Much like this:

Some say there are two types of people in the world: those who prefer Trader Joe’s, and those who don’t. I fall into the former, and I love Trader Joe’s with a fiery passion. And no, I’m not being paid for this.

The company has a sense of humour:
They use a bell to communicate instead of a PA system.
They change their labels according to the nationality of food they’re selling: for example, tortillas sport the Trader Jose label, edamame have the Trader Joe-San one, and french soaps are Trader Jacques.

The staff at Trader Joe’s are encouraged to show their personality, so it’s not unusual to see staff singing to themselves as they restock the shelves. They wear Hawaiian shirts and jeans, and are easy-going and friendly. But not that crazy American-fake-friendly. It seems real and makes a world of difference to my experience.

What the average Trader Joe's store looks like

What the average Trader Joe’s store looks like

[Source: Wikipedia]

But I’m certainly not the first to profess my love for the supermarket chain. Trader Joe’s Fan is a hub for those like me to explore and share the recipes and the like, there’s a Flikr group, ‘Trader Joe’s Love!‘, for pics of anything TJ related, and one bloke loves Trader Joe’s so much that he wrote a song about them.

So here’s eight reasons why I love Trader Joe’s:

  1. They have great quality, healthy food at reasonable prices.
  2. They are committed to offering a broad range of organic food, and to never sell anything made with genetically modified produce.
  3. They have exclusive lines: you can only buy Trader Joe’s food at Trader Joe’s stores.
  4. They sell good wine for $2. That’s right: $2! Some of the Two Buck Chuck varieties have won medals and they sell for TWO DOLLARS. The Australians will understand why this is significant.
  5. They really cater to vegetarians, and offer plenty of products that I can eat. Plus, they carry a bunch of things that are you can’t find at regular supermarkets like Safeway, like couscous, quinoa and polenta.
  6. The stores a much smaller than your average Safeway. They’re easy to navigate and well-lit.
  7. They have a permanent sample station in every store, offering samples of fresh coffee and food. It’s a real highlight.
  8. I love their selection of frozen fruit and joghurt. We make some of the most righteous fruit shakes outside of Thailand with three ingredients.
    Charles Shaw: Two Buck Chuck.

    Charles Shaw: Two Buck Chuck.

    [Source: Colorado Daily]

Do you love Trader Joe’s, too? Or something similar?

You can read more about the man behind Trader Joe’s here, and more about the store here

***

Welcome to the forty-fifth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Post #44: Thunder & Lightning.

Post #44: Thunder and Lightning

Post #44: Thunder & Lightning.


I feel so serene. We just had a most amazing thunderstorm here in San Francisco. We usually get regular old rain, so a thunderstorm is really rare. A welcome change.

San Francisco: more a sheet lightning kind of place.

[Source]

We switched everything off to watch the sheets of lightning illuminate the buildings, with its low, rolling accompaniment. We watched the rain splatter and slide down our windows. We talked. Listened to Royksopp. Spent some it it dancing in the dark. Embraced the moment.
And it felt great.
Real.

I used to enjoy watching storms do that all the time at home. Sydney has some of the most amazing storms. So active and highly entertaining. I love their rejuvenating nature: they cleanse our environment, allowing us to start afresh. I never knew I missed that about home until now.

Sydney always puts on a light show. It nixes time spent in the pool or on the golf course…

[Source]

***

Welcome to the forty-fourth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Post #43: Madame Bovary is an Unfeeling, Vulgar Harlot.

Post #43: Madame Bovary is an Unfeeling, Vulgar Harlot

Welcome to the forty-third post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

A few years ago, I decided to commit myself to ploughing through the ‘classics’, becoming familiar with authors with whom I was not well acquainted, and those I was well acquainted with and detested when I was at school: the ever-expanding list authors such as Dickens, Austen, the Brontes, Oscar Wilde, Goethe, H G Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway.

So far, the project has been serving me well. That was until I started Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.

The title character and I do not have a good relationship: Madame Bovary is an unfeeling, vulgar harlot. I despise her so much, and spent the entire book wishing harm to come to her. With each turn of the page, she becomes so much more despicable.

A composite sketch of Madame Bovary

[Source: The Composites]

It’s quite ridiculous how strongly I feel about this. It’s just so frustrating when you invest all of that time and energy in a story, and it never quite fulfills its promise. I feel the same about Margaret Atwood’s novels: beautiful, luscious prose with half-arsed endings.

But as of right now, I think I’m in need of a new era in terms of my reading. It’s time to stretch the mind in a different way and explore the million other options available to me as a new(ish) Kindle user.

So, I’d love to know what you are reading? What’s something you suggest I try?

Post #42: Life List No.63 – Treating Myself to Miette

 Welcome to the forty-second post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Post #42: Treating Myself to Miette.

I met the Canadian for a gastronomic excursion last weekend, but this time we started with dessert from Miette. Who says you have to eat your meal first?

Beautifully decorated and stunningly presented sweet treats from Miette

[Source: Miette]{via simplesong}

Miette is a beautiful patisserie and confiserie, specializing in making beautiful treats with premium ingredients. The way they display, package and present their goodies is just stunning, and the whole package takes your breath away. 

My local Miette is in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, a mecca for artisanal food and upscale eateries. I have walked past on many occasions, but just never actually purchased myself a treat from there. Until the other day.

The Chocolate Tart and Creme Fraiche Ice Cream Sandwich.

Even on a cold, grey day I opted for the Crème Fraiche ice cream on home-made Graham Crackers. The Canadian went for the Chocolate Tart and it was rich and rather heavy – a perfect complement to the light, carefree ice cream.
High fives on the combo.

YUM!

Almost gone...

Ah Miette. How I love thee. The problem is, once I cross it off my Life List, then I lack an excuse to continue going back… le sigh.

Post #41: The One Where I Hit A Wall

Welcome to the forty-first post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Post #41: The One Where I Hit A Wall.

So I have hit a wall (but not literally).

I am just so worn down right now. It’s far more than just being tired. That can correct itself with a sleep, but this runs much deeper. I feel like I have not had a full night’s sleep in a decade. My skin has broken out, and I’m just feeling… exhausted. You know what I mean?

On our fortnightly culinary excursion last weekend, the Canadian and I discussed the issues facing us as humans existing in a way that is contrary to how we’re supposed to. In modern cities, we are surrounded by people, and yet are more lonely than ever before. Cue today’s gunman who killed seven. That’s just fucking insane, but barely made me blink when I heard it. That’s not normal.

The only thing that can cure it is an extended relocation to Thailand. Six months ought to do it. I cannot think of anything else other than removing myself from western society for an extended period of time, and focusing on my health, sanity and other projects.

Do you ever feel like you’re the only sane person in a sea of absolute nutters?

Oh, let me return to my Happy Place...

Post #40: Invest in Yourself

Welcome to the fortieth post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at TheRebeccaProject [at] gmail [dot] com.

Post #40: Invest in Yourself

The New York Times recently ran an article about the benefits of being bilingual:

“The collective evidence from a number of such studies suggests that the bilingual experience improves the brain’s so-called executive function — a command system that directs the attention processes that we use for planning, solving problems and performing various other mentally demanding tasks. These processes include ignoring distractions to stay focused, switching attention willfully from one thing to another and holding information in mind — like remembering a sequence of directions while driving.”

I am awesome at remembering directions. If I have been there once, I can get back and get home. And I can speak a little German – enough to get by – but I don’t think I can really count myself as bilingual. Yet. But I have just started another session of German classes and this is just one of the ways I am investing in myself.

It's amazing what a cleaning work space can do for your enthusiasm for homework...

Invest in yourself: learn something new

Now is the time of year when a lot of the universities and colleges offer their summer (or winter for my Southern Hemisphere friends) classes. So invest your time in yourself: you are important and your brain is important. Why not take a class in something that has always interested you? From learning how to code, to parlez vous-ing Francais, to introduction to print making — the world is your oyster! Taking a class is a good way to meet people with your interests, to learn new skills and exercise your brain.

I have tended to get a little disheartened when I realize just how much I have to learn before I become fluent. Katja, my teacher, laughed at my impatience and said, “We’ll have you for another seven years, yet!”.

Seven. Years. That’s a freaking lifetime!

 My impatience gets the better of me. But, as the American says:

Is there anything else you’d rather be doing?

And the truth of the matter is… no. I am happy as pig in mud going to the Goethe Institut each week, and learning another language. The goal of being truly fluent in another language is much closer when I’m investing in myself. And that’s kinda exciting!

What is one thing that you’re doing to further yourself?

I love using Japanese stationary with strange English captions for my German notes.