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Why Trader Joe’s is My, and America’s, Happy Place

5 Mar This container of candy from Trader Joe's holds a world of kindness

We all have rotten days. Yesterday was one of mine. Or at least, a day where things didn’t come together well, posed more problems than it solved, and just left me with a sad, crummy feeling.

And I needed to go to Trader Joe’s.

So, I tucked my feelings under my hat and went.

Walking around hunting and gathering for my dinner, I smiled at other shoppers and TJ’s staffers. I was OK. But as I walked to check out, I got sad again. Of course, that’s not too weird – feeling better walking around TJ’s, and getting sad as I’m leaving!

The checker Shaun greeted me with, “How ya doing?!” I said, sluggishly, “OK.” He said, “Just OK?” “Yeah,” I said. We continued chatting a bit. He loaded my bag and put it in the cart.

As we waited for my chipped card to finish processing, Shaun asked, “Do you like chocolate? Do you like dried fruit?” I said yes.

He walked to the product pylon by the check out lane, picked up a container of chocolate-covered dried fruit, put it on top of my bag and said, “I hope you have a good evening!”

I was blown away. And this isn’t the only time I’ve encountered amazingly kind behavior at Trader Joe’s. The store’s feel-good culture is an example for us all in how to care and treat each other. Just a little kindness goes such a long way. Thank you, Shaun! And thank you, Trader Joe’s.

A pot of gold

This container holds a world of kindness

 

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If it’s watermelon time, it must be summer

2 Jun

It’s not the heat and it’s not the pool opening. It’s not the strappy dresses and sandals or the birds chirping too early and the fire-pitless porch parties lasting past midnight.

What tells me it’s summertime is the large, cardboard box full of big green orbs that greets me when I enter Trader Joe’s.

I received that happy welcome last weekend. There was even a woman handing out watermelon samples at a makeshift tasting station. She advised that the sweetest watermelons were ones with yellow on them. Taking her word for it, I grabbed (if you can “grab” a bowling ball without finger holes) a fine looking specimen and weighted down my cart immediately.

At the official tasting station, they were sampling Watermelon Cucumber Juice. Good stuff! I’d bought a container the week before, but hadn’t opened it yet. As Persian Cucumbers are one of my shopping-list staples, I looked in my cart and thought, “Cukes, watermelon…why not make my own juice?!”

Hydratedly inspired, I searched for a recipe and found a three-ingredient drink I thought I could master. The third ingredient was lime juice – and I found that it makes ALL the difference!

(Although there are several sites with similar recipes, mine came from AllRecipes.com. Thanks, AllRecipes!)

How To Make Watermelon Cucumber Cooler:

I used:

  • 4 Persian cucumbers
  • 1/2 the fruit from a watermelon
  • 2 limes

Trim the ends off your cukes and cut into bite-sized chunks.

Cut the watermelon into chunks.

Combine the cuke and watermelon chunks and liquify in a blender or food processor.

Stir in the juice from the limes. It’s OK if a little lime fruit drops in, too!

It makes a pitcher-full of juice. Enjoy!

This is what it looked like:

Glass2 ingredients

Notes: The cukes were unpeeled. The watermelon had very few seeds, so I just let the few involved get mixed in the batch.

I had planned to make a fizzy drink by adding carbonated water to half a cup of juice, but I got caught up in the deliciousness, and the batch was finished before I remembered I wanted to do that! Next time.

How to Make a Killer Sangria: A Trader Joe’s Shopper Shares Her Secret

10 Jul

Michelle Walton knows good sangria. She spent $100 mixing a batch from a South American recipe. But with a bottle of Maria Ole Sangria from TJ’s, Michelle now impresses her friends for a fraction of the cost. Take 30 seconds to listen to how she does it. She makes it seem so easy! Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

My own private Guacamole

9 Aug

I love avocados. I love cutting them open and eating them straight from the shell. What a well-designed food – it comes with its own serving bowl!

I’ll get TJ’s mesh bag of avocados and go through them quickly, trying to make them last through the week. The other day, I was ready to dig into my last avocado of the bag when I thought, “I’ve got part of an old onion, some withering grape tomatoes … hmm.” Add a sprinkle of salt, and, voila, a makeshift fiesta for one!

The meeting of healthy foods: avocados, tomatos and onions

The meeting of healthy foods: avocado, tomatoes, onion

If I’d been planning to make guac, I’d have had some cilantro on hand, I might have used more spices and even, (why not?), glance at a recipe. But this was tasty to me!

Then I started thinking, what else can I do with this tasty mixture? My thoughts about optimizing guacamole are in the the next post. : )

Happy Fourth of July!

4 Jul

Wearing a healthy dose of red, white and blue for the occasion. Have a wonderful July 4, wherever you are, whatever your homeland!

Patriotic display of fruit

Red, white and blueberries

Raspberry Tarte: Fresh from the box

18 Jun

Another tasting bar moment.

Raspberry tart from Trader Joe's

Delicious fruity pie

Truth: The tart being sliced into looked just a little tired; not as perky as the picture on the box. I still bit, and took the taste.

The tart might have looked a wee bit weary, but the flavor was alive and kicking! The raspberries tasted fresh and the crust was light and buttery.

The back of the box was nice looking, too:

Serving per container – 4 (you read that right!)

Calories per serving: 290

Fat content per slice: 90

It’s in the running to become my party go-to dessert.

A taste of springtime: Homemade lemonade

24 Apr

It’s the end of April in the Midwest, among other places. In Missouri we had sleet yesterday, and today, we woke up to 30-degree temps and wind chills in the 20s.

But when I stepped into Trader Joe’s last weekend, I could have sworn it was spring! In fact, it could have been verging on summer the way the store was decked out.

Case in point:

A glass of sunshine. Just add a spritz of clear skies, rainbows and unicorns.

A glass of sunshine. Just add a spritz of clear skies, rainbows and unicorns.

It’s a scene that instantly transports me to age 11, visiting my cousins in Memphis, Tenn., running around barefoot in their family’s sprawling, soft, overgrown yard.

The adults sprawled in aluminum folding chairs with loosely woven green-and-white striped plastic strips. They’d sit in those chairs for hours drinking lemonade. And we’d leave our glasses of summer’s nectar by them as we ran around aimfully.

The moms and dads and grandparents would stand up to get a refreshing refill, and they’d have criss-cross red marks on the backs of their legs where their shorts had ridden up from the plastic chairing.

Lemonade is what sunny days taste like.

Thanks for the memories, Trader Joe’s.

And thank you for stopping by. Please visit anytime and leave a kind thought.

Lemonade recipes:

From AllRecipes.com

From Food Network/Paula Deen

From Chow

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