Tag Archives: Trader Joe’s

My Chicago: my new short film

I’ve been home for a few months now and thoughts on my experience living in Chicago have had time to crystallise. As they took shape, I found I was inspired to make a short film — my first solo effort — and one I call ‘My Chicago’.


Initial thoughts about Chicago

For me, Chicago was always a ‘why not?’ destination, instead of a ‘YES!’ destination. I stressed about the cold, the snow and the ice; wondered how people were able to go out and perform daily functions, such as commuting to work and grocery shopping in the middle of blizzards. I had little idea how I’d manage living in a climate vastly different to what I was used to, but I was willing to give it a red hot go.

Initially, I found the city abrupt and unforgiving and it appeared the feeling was mutual. But I gave it some time, and before I knew it the city grew on me. It grew on me far more than I could have every imagined. I made myself a life in yet another new city, learned to dress for (and deal with!) the cold and make new friends. I dove into the freshwater Lake Michigan, ran down the Lakefront trail and visited the animals at the free Lincoln Park Zoo only five-minute walk from my apartment. I spent nights at Kingston Mines, afternoons learning yoga, and weekends playing netball and watching baseball. I went to museums, navigated the public transport and spent countless hours wandering Lincoln Park to photograph the row houses. And after surviving the Polar Vortex, I can survive anything that’s thrown my way!

The people are what make Chicago extra-special

I encountered wonderful people in Chicago — real, like-minded people — who were so friendly and welcoming of me. These are the kind of people who stop you on the train to tell you that you’re looking good, those who say what they think and those who love a laugh. After those initial tough first weeks, it was like a giant hug from the Midwest acknowledging that it was glad I was here. I feel indebted to the great people I met at #703 and the Chicago Netball Club and who made my experience so memorable.

I cried when I left. In fact, I cried a lot. I was incredibly emotional leaving it all behind and that surprised me. Elements of Chicago had become part of me, and I’d like to think elements of myself had also been exchanged in return. That’s the mark of a great city: somewhere you’re sad to leave. I stand on this side of the experience and love the city as though it was my own.


The Hanovers — thank you for those initial weeks and for a wonderful Christmas sledding and eating and laughing. I miss having you guys so close!
The Williams Family – thanks again for your hospitality, the opportunities and for the loan of that phenomenal winter jacket.
To Olivia and the girls (and guys) at the Chicago Netball Club – thanks for your friendship on and off the court. It was great getting to know you all, and I hope to return soon to play another season.
To #703 – thanks for all going out of your way to make me feel a part of the team and for being so patient with my millions of questions. I enjoyed my time with you all immensely, and really miss working with each of you. And my taste in music has undergone some refinement after closing regularly — I listen to a lot more Robyn and Chvrches!
And to Kat — thank you so much for taking a gamble on me. I really made your apartment my own and was thankful for having met you. I think you’ll see just how much I enjoyed my time at St James in my film.

My Chicago

I dream of returning to live in Chicago again, one day.
But perhaps just for the summer months …

So, without further ado, here’s My Chicago:

Three Things

Sometimes, life is not particularly interesting. And right now, life here is not terribly notable. And that’s okay. Living abroad is not all sunshine and rainbows and puppies and unicorns all the time, ever. I am busy trying to finish some subjects online, I’m working part-time for a really great company with phenomenal colleagues, and I’m spending my free time with the American and working on various projects. My working hours usually fall right in the middle of yoga classes, so I’ve not been going as much as I’d like, and as much as I need to. All of this makes me feel rather uninteresting, but I’m doing what I need to get by and to chase my dreams. That has to count for something, right?


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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.