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As I sit here wearing what can only be described as a Hanukkah miracle and I wait for Spicy Kung Pao Chicken dinner to finish microwaving, I thought I’d give a little shout out to December, and not for the holidays and not even for my birthday (or as I used to say, ‘the day heaven lost an angel”). No I give a shout out to December because it brings on something near and dear to my heart: NOVELTY PRODUCTS!

I love me a novelty product. Apparently some people think it is the ONLY thing that I like, because I get an abundance of them as gifts. And while I do like some other things too, novelty products are nothing short of AWESOME. Think about it. The Snuggie. The Bump It (and Snooki and all her noveltiness that came along with her). The Candy Cane Jo-Jo’s (for all of you who shop at the Trader Joes‘ in Brookline, they are sold out!).

Tonight after my run (Day 2 of Couch 2 5K complete and not dead on the side of the JCC track!), I decided to stop in Trader Joes as I needed groceries and I needed a little retail therapy. H was my trusty co-shopper and I must have been REALLY dilusional because on two seperate occasions I saw people I knew and screamed out, “Hey I know you”. Right, couldn’t even remember their names. Nonetheless, I left with $54 worth  of groceries with more than half  being some sort of novelty  (I know, I know, I shop at Trader Joes because it is a novelty grocery store). BUT, come December, you bring in the SEASONAL NOVELTY PRODUCTS!

A few highlights (with reviews to come):

-Dark Chocolate Minty Mallows (if my sister read this blog, she’d be  freaking her freak).

-A Holiday  Joe-Joe Medley that is sure to be a delight (TJ employee confirmed)

-Dark Chocolate Almond Bark (a fancier and bigger version of Hershey’s with almonds–SCORE)

-Not one but TWO bags of Mint Chocolate Covered Pretzel Slims (I figured this could be this season’s Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s and I was a girl scout–I gotta be prepared).

Who else is ready to novelty?

PS. I really don’t hate the holidays. I love them a lot. But nothing quite says novelty, like acapella song parodies about the holidays. Enjoy!

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Where have I been? I know it’s been a while. The election sadness has faded, and I’ve been busy and all, but none of this explains why you haven’t gotten a blogging update. You see I am living up to my name. No not Trader Robes. Or not my given name. I am living up to my high school superlative.

While my friends were being awarded, “Most Likely to Succeed” and “Best Athlete”, I won a title a little less positive. You see, I was voted “Biggest Hazard”. Yep, “Biggest Spazz”, “Most Likely To Trip Over Her Own Two Feet”, and “You’re just too tall to figure out how to control your body” are all me. And I won by the biggest landslide in yearbook history (only one other person even got a vote!). I even voted for myself. Because, well it was true. It’s taken time, but until I went to college, I was too tall for my own damn body (I probably was the first person ever excited for the “Freshman 15″). So when I dropped something, tripped or just looked plain awkward, I was just earning my title.

But see I thought I had grown out of it. I hadn’t really tripped in a while (okay, a meaningful trip, we all trip sometimes, right?), I wore heels and like to think my 5’11” frame rocked them. I was an almost 27 year old who could handle herself. Oh right, and then I dropped my computer.

See, that’s where I’ve been. I’ve been trying to keep myself busy (I thought I watched a LOT of tv before this catastrophe, boy did I not know what was coming) as my computer has been packaged and bundled (it was like sending off my first-born) and sent off to “Dell Hell” for 8-10 business days. It’s been tough. I haven’t quite gotten the shakes yet, but honestly, it’s only a matter of time.

So yeah, I am basically detoxing from the convenience of my laptop. My roommates and friends are giving up things for 8-10 business days in solidarity with me. (PS. 8-10 business days feels like FOREVER, and it’s only day 3. Maybe this is like Jewish Lent?). 

R has given up eating marmite for breakfast (for a native Brit, this is a huge undertaking and for that I am forever grateful of her support).

B is giving up her use of catch phrases (this has actually been a double detox for me. Her catch phrases are so adorable).

D is giving up going out for lunch and is just bringing leftovers.

H told me he would give up something (probably reading my blog, he is desperate for a shoutout. Let’s see if he even notices this).

And M told me she is giving up taking pictures of me (she is the number one photographer of my facebook pics). I somewhat appreciate this as I am sure I don’t look quite as cute as normal when going through detox.

So yes, I’ve been busy. And without a computer. And watching a LOT of tv. Thank goodness Trader Joes is down the street.

What would you “detox” from?

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So this is not the first time I tried to become a blogger. I couldn’t help but join the craze almost exactly two years ago. Back then, I was inspired. I was excited. I felt like I could make a difference. Hold on, hold on. I’ll stop being dramatic. See it’s not that I’m not inspired by my work, or think I can’t make a difference (there is a reason I chose to get a Master’s degree in making pennies Saving the World). I was inspired and excited about politics. Yes, I first started blogging (notedly, VERY short lived. Believe me loyal? readers, I won’t leave you this time, I think I might be into blogging for the long haul) right after the 2008 Presidential Election.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that time. My friends and I were excited. We voted because we cared, not because we feared. We were idealistic maybe, but sometimes idealism is so needed after so may years of George W. Bush. We even had a kickass election night party (note: I LOVE and LIVE for theme parties. There is nothing I think brings people together more than a well crafted and highly themed menu of food and drink). A few friends even asked if I was hosting an election night party this year. I could make a bangin’ Barackali (broccoli) and cheese dip and drink some Blue Moon beer and have an Anti-Tea Party (What would be the opposite of that? A coffee party? Would drinking Starbucks only make us more pretentious and gross than the tea party?). But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Hosting a party means you have something to celebrate. And this year’s election just doesn’t inspire me to celebrate anything.


So this year, I tried to face the inevitable (but I voted and am hoping for a miracle). I wore my patriotic colors (including adorable red patent leather flats and a blue beaded necklace. I couldn’t give up a theme completely). And I’m gonna cross my fingers, drink some Trader Joe’s Peppermint Hot Chocolate (you knew I’d get some TJ’s in there somehow. Also, hot chocolate is a happy medium between the craziness of the Tea Party and the full on extreme of coffee) and hope that a sense of idealism will come back. Because honestly, at 26, I’m too young to be a cynic.

To Read What I was thinking right after the 2008 Election, click here.

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I always say shopping is cheaper than a psychiatrist.
— Tammy Faye Bakker

So I can’t believe I am starting this post with a quote from Tammy Faye Bakker, but I mean in all of her craziness (and let’s face it, the woman is CRAZY. I still have nightmares about the Larry King interview she did right before passed away. I’m saving you the horror by not posting the link. You’re welcome). But the woman has got a point. Sometimes, after a long day, after a never-ending to do list, after you feel just plain blah, a quick round of retail therapy does the job.

Things have been super hectic in my life. With some key people at work out on medical leave, with trying to manage sitting on two boards AND still trying to see my friends and have some semblance of a social life, I have been a bit more frazzled lately. So I thought, hey I have a bit of time AND a groupon, I’ll head to “old faithful”, try on some fun things and fill a void of stability in my life with something cute from The Gap.

So I headed on in to a TOTALLY different store than I had stepped in just a month or so ago. Old faithful Gap, where I have been shopping since I was 7 (you try fitting a child that was in 20th percentile in weight AND 99th percentile in height in pants. HELLO Kids Gap slim long jeans!) was a MONSTROSITY. The floors were ripped up and scuffed (were they doing construction or just trying to create the floor equivalent of pre-dirty jeans), the colors were BLAND, and EVERYTHING itched. At this point in my life (post-awkward stage),  most clothes (regardless of if I actually like them) look pretty good on me (thank you great genetics). NOTHING looked good on me, things made ME feel fat (honestly I never understood the gripes of friends who said certain clothes made them feel fat. I apologize. I TOTALLY understand after this horror trip), and I left with some tights (to their credit, they were ADORABLE. But like to spend a groupon on tights, sorta felt like a cop out). I literally left retail therapy feeling like I needed the retail psych ward.

I went on with my day and felt more stressed than when I had come in. What had my childhood staple done to me? My favorite employee told me that when The Gap did it’s rebranding they learned from customers that when people think of The Gap, they think of “affordable basics” (ain’t nothing wrong with that, am I wrong?). Apparently the Gap execs decided to change 41 years of great jeans, comfy sweaters and good work staples for a cross between Urban Outfitters and American Apparel (and maybe hell). Their current customers didn’t matter, it was time for a change. I honestly feel like Gap has given me a big fat slap in the face (have I mentioned my AOL screen name growing up was MsGapChick…no letters, no added numbers, I was a devout Gap fan chick).

So I took my slap in the face to good ol’ Trader Joes that not only sticks to its brand, but ALSO makes it’s customers smile. Why had I not ventured there in the first place (oh right, I wanted some new clothes and the Hawaiian shirts really aren’t my thing)? In the short 15 minutes I was in the store, I was released from the Retail Psych Ward in a way only a “cinnamon broom” (described to last FOREVER by the employee and on the package as “decorative, aromatic and ROMANTIC) can do. If the “cinnamon broom” weren’t enough (and it really was), I tasted the most delicious free sample of Chicken Alfredo, bought a gorgeous bouquet of $5.99 autumnal flowers and some sweet potato chips (which didn’t last a full night last time I bought them. They are THAT good). To say the experience was simply a delight would be an understatement. Forget my 15 minutes of fame (I’m waiting), I got my 15 minutes of REAL Retail Therapy.

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Growing up, I would absolutely LOVE when my mom would decide it was too hot to cook and would cut up tons of fruit and let us eat fruit and rainbow sherbet. We would sit outside and make soup out of our fun colored dinner. Besides summer camp, eating rainbow sherbet is one of my favorite summer time memories.

I recently learned however, that I had been calling this frozen delicacy the wrong thing. I’m not sure if I just imitated my dad (he grew up in Queens, maybe that’s just how they pronounce it there…sorta like Brooklynites call soda, soder), or if I just decided myself, but I ate SHERBERT. At Friendly’s, I ordered the orange sherbert cooler. I’d beg my mom for sherbert and fruit for dinner. So it was much to my dismay (but eventual tasty delight), that I learned when buying Trader Joe’s Blueberry Pomegranate Sherbet that I had been pronouncing it wrong all these years! I guess it was sorta part of the graduating process from rainbow to a more sophisticated palate to blu-pom (have I mentioned that I LOVE abbreviations).

The blu-pom sherbet (I will spell it sherbet, but I will continue to pronounce it as I damn well please) is to be quite honest one of the absolute BEST things that TJ’s has concocted in my opinion (and that is saying a lot, because there is less than two hands worth of products that I’ve bought over the years at TJ’s that I haven’t adored and wanted to buy again). It is unbelievable, delicious and always the perfect consisetency. Other products always seem to get a bit of freezer burn or overly hard in my freezer, but not the blu-pom. It is just consisentently delicious. And it is a gorgeous shade of purple.

It’s interesting when I think about this (and I hadn’t when I initially thought of this post) about my transition from rainbow sherbet to a more sophisticated blu-pom (purple) and how it connects to my wearing purple today in honor of those teens whom have recently taken their lives due to bullying regarding their sexuality or perceived sexuality. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear rainbows or march in parades, cause to be honest a) that’s really not my thing and b) I don’t think I would march in a Jewish parade or a New Jersey parade or anything else that is a part of who I am. To be honest, these are all parts of who I am , but none are the defining pinacle of who I am. I am who I am because of all of these things. But I can wear purple (representing “spirit” in the equality flag) and show that such torment (whether by others or by one’s self) can be overcome. It’s not always easy but it does get better. And no one has said this better in my opinion than Councilman Joel Burns you haven’t seen this, please watch. And more importantly be nice.

The purple blu-pom SHERBERT will taste extra good tonight.

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So I decided to blog. After stalking following many of my friends’ (and let’s be honest some total strangers that said friends also follow)  lives, I thought, ‘hey, maybe I can do this too.’

I think I came to the conclusion that I had to write because a) people say it’s therapeutic (and I though I don’t necessarily consider myself the therapy type, I’ve been lighting candles recently and have found it to be quite lovely, dare I say even therapeutic), and b) I’ve been told my life is too hilarious/weird not to share. I felt that maybe the latter was true, but didn’t want to quite either a) share every detail (or to be honest, a lot of the details) with you my lovely readers (also, is anyone reading this), and b) update you when nothing funny or exciting happened and all I updated you on was about the repeat of “Nightline” I watched on Hulu (okay so I guess I am telling you  a secret. I fall asleep every night to the previous evening’s episode of “Nightline”. I figure if nothing else, I am bringing down the average age demographic and  learning some interesting cocktail party factoids).

There is some old saying  that says ‘you should write what you know’ (okay another true confession, I learned this ‘famous’ quote through Harriet the Spy, one of the first movies to ever make me cry. Wow this blogging thing is sorta therapeutic). But what the hell do I know? There are enough amazing blogs about the amazing terribly bad reality tv that I consider a major part of my life, and the gossip I hear around my office (I swear people need to stop telling me so many things and talking right outside my office door) is really only interesting to the amazing other 13 people I call coworkers.  So from a suggestion from a dear friend, I was reminded of yet another thing I know: Trader Joe’s.

Something hit me the first time I shopped at a Trader Joe’s back in the Fall of 2002 (My friend Rachel and I, in search of where to spend Rosh Hashanah, decided to drive the 40 minutes to the temple where her childhood rabbi had moved to. I still remember how nice it felt to share this experience with a new [now dear]college friend and how nasaly the rabbi’s singing voice was). After leaving  services that day, we passed a TJ’s on our way back to school. We stopped and my life was forever changed (It should be known that I often speak in  hyperbole and gross exaggeration. This is one of the few instances where this is not the case).

There was something about the snacks (they sold huge chunks of Ghirardelli chocolate!), the way you didn’t want to rush food shopping like you did as a kid when your mom dragged you along for the trip, and the longing for the one day I would able to buy “Two Buck Chuck” (one of the more exciting parts of turning 21). I wasn’t smitten with the Hawaiian shirts on the employees but the employees were so helpful and friendly. They were intelligent, engaging and a pleasure to chat with. I knew I had to return some time soon.

And I did (it took a few years to realize there was one closer to school), and continue to (I’ve decided I will never hope to never have to live far away from a TJ’s) spend a special part of my week at my neighborhood grocery store. I hope that this blog will give you a glimpse into what makes Trader Joe’s so special to me; the food, the people, and really the experience (one day, I swear Trader Joe’s would make an AMAZING musical. Forget “the man, the myth,the legend”, imagine your neighborhood grocers singing and dancing about “Drunken Raviolis” (RIP) and dark chocolate covered edamame. GENIUS). I can’t promise I’ll update all the time (but I do promise to do my best and not use this many parenethes).

I might not tell you about my deep dark feelings, but you may learn just a little something about my favorite new product, a new recipe I tried with TJ’s ingredients, or about “My Wine Guy”, and in turn learn actually a lot about me.

So here goes nothing.

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