Santa is My Bae

 

Santa is My Bae

 

There are only a few shopping days remaining before the Big Show, so if you’re hard-pressed for gifts, fear not! I spotted this lovely item at the damned grocery store. Yes – the place I get food. I do not know what the world is coming to, people.

 

And for the record, I did not buy this sweater. I already regret my choice. ‘Cause Santa really is my bae.

Snark

 

 

 

Sometimes I have such an unappealing experience at a store, that I vow to never return. Take my three strikes at a local grocery store chain. First – I bought some frozen chicken and once it thawed for cooking, I could see a dead, giant worm in the bag. Second – I looked at the expiration date on some fancy cheese there and noticed the label had been placed over an older, previously expired label. When I told the store manager about it, she said I was clearly wrong and that they would never do that sort of thing in the store and she somehow implied I was flat-out lying. So I took her to the fancy cheese case and let her have a look for herself. She saw the many, many re-labeled cheeses and began pulling them from the case. No apology, no acknowledgement. And third – I recently stood at a cashier stand after making a purchase, waiting for my receipt. The clerk had walked away from the register to have a loud, bro-tas-tic convo with a dude. As I asked for my receipt, nicely I might add, I was ignored. After asking three times, I screamed, “CAN I PLEASE HAVE MY RECEIPT???” I scared the shit out of that clerk and he deserved it. I took my receipt, left the store and knew then that I wouldn’t be going back to Ralphs. Three strikes.

 

I re-hash this history because while I remember to avoid that particular chain, I sometimes forget why I never shop at other stores. Earlier this week, I stopped by a grocery store for a single item and as I waited in line, I wondered to myself why I never go there. And then the customer in front of me turned, looked me in the eye and sighed loudly. That’s when I realized we weren’t moving and that the cashier was – shall we say – multi-tasking. She was on the phone. She was talking with another manager (!) about scheduling issues. She was yelling at someone to take their break. And then she turned back to her in-the-moment job and futzed up the receipt for the poor lady who appeared to be doing her best to get the hell out of there. That’s when the lady said she didn’t need the receipt and started to leave. And then it got better. The cashier said, “I know I look confused, but trust me – I brought it today. I’m ready!” And then she promptly forgot to give change to the chick in front of me. That’s when I thought, “Oh, Darlin’. You don’t look confused. You look incompetent.” And I glanced up to see everyone quietly staring at me. For I hadn’t merely thought it. I had said it. Right out loud.

 

Only I didn’t. I did think it, but the words were never uttered. I mean, that cashier was failing at her job that day, in that moment, but for all I know, she could have been dealing with a recent ill-health diagnosis. She may have been working through the dissolution of a marriage. Or processing the death of a family member or friend. I don’t know what was going on with her. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not excusing her unprofessional behavior. Nor am I trying to justify it. What I am doing is giving myself an out for not being rude. In that moment, I chose to keep my yapper shut and not take down the lady at the local Vons. For me, I chose well.

 

When I deal with other human beings, I sometimes become flustered. Angry. Disappointed. Furious beyond belief, even. And I can’t do a damned thing about how other people behave. But I can control my reactions, my behavior. That’s the only power I have. When I remember to use it. As much sick satisfaction as I sometimes get from imagining myself tossing out snappy comebacks and insults in the world, I receive far more real content moments from maintaining my composure. I’d like to nurture that habit and do my best to be the kind of person I can admire and respect. After all, I am my own best friend. I alone know what’s in my heart and soul. Even with all my shortcomings and flaws, I love me.

 

But I don’t love the local Vons. Maybe I’ll remember that going forward. I want to be a better person and all, but I’m still susceptible to my internal snark. Heaven help me.

Stalker

 

 

I have a stalker. Sort of.

 

But before I get to that, let me tell you what happened the other day. I had just pulled out of the driveway and had rounded a corner. As I sat at a stop sign, waiting for a break in traffic, a car pulled up next to me (completely blocking the intersection) and the driver started talking to me through our open windows. He said my old car reminded him of his first car – same make and model. He went on to tell me that he’d seen me driving around about a year ago, and had tried following me, but I’d lost him along the way. He then said that as he’d just seen me exit my driveway, he now knows where I live. I smiled through all of his sharing and was nice and gracious as could be. Then someone pulled up behind us, giving me a reason to get the hell out of there. So he knows where I live, eh? Ugh. And he’s not even my stalker!

 

The dude who creeps me out works at the grocery store where I do my shopping. He’s a produce guy, and for a few years now he’s followed me around the store and tried talking to me. Never mind that I put out zero-point-zero waves of being interested in talking to anyone at the store. Never mind my wedding ring. Never mind the fact that I dress like trash while running errands. No – he just keeps trying to engage, and there’s something about his leer that gives me the willies. If you’re thinking that I could always go to a different store, well, you may have a point. But that’s my store, dammit! Can’t that guy take a hint and leave me alone? Let me also point out that this isn’t simply my imagination running amok. I never see that dude creeping out other shoppers. His creep factor is directed, y’all. At me!

 

And now there’s a potential second stalker, who knows where I live. L.A. is a freak show some times. And not always in a good way, either.

G – I – N

 

 

 

I was at the grocery store the other day. To be specific, I was standing in the wine aisle of the grocery store. There were a few other folks nearby, but I paid them no attention as I was engrossed in my shopping list. Rather, I tried paying them no attention, but it just couldn’t be helped…

 

This little old lady said to a little old man, “Excuse me, but I’m looking for something called ‘Gin.’ My friend sent me for it. It’s spelled G-I-N. Is it somewhere around here?” The little old man was as befuddled as a tree stump. He slowly responded, “Er… Iiieeeee  reeeeallly don’t knooooow.”

 

At this point, I couldn’t help but look up. Now y’all, that little old man looked like he didn’t even know he was at the danged grocery store, let alone standing in the alcohol section. And the little old lady? I’m fairly certain she was around when gin was invented. And she expected someone to believe she didn’t know what gin was?

 

That’s when the wheels started turning. Was this some coy pickup line? Was this old gal on the make? I stood there, absorbed by my analysis, and the lady turned to look me square in the eye. She caught me by surprise, but genuinely appeared to be at a loss. So I threw her a bone. “I think gin is one aisle over. But let me check first, before you head over there.” I peeked around the corner, spotted liquor bottles and told the little old lady to follow me.

 

We walked to the middle of the aisle and I pointed out the gin selection. As there were only 3 choices, I thought it would be easy for the old gal. But she about flipped her lid when she saw the prices. “Does that say $14.99 for that little bottle?” I told her yes, then pointed to a gin I’ve never had and let her know it was only $10.99 for the same amount of alcohol.

 

At that point, she asked if cheap gin was any different from expensive gin, and said that she thought there must not be any difference at all. Then she said, “My friend said to get cheap gin, because it doesn’t really matter. She’s going to soak raisins in it then eat them. It’s supposed to be good for arthritis, don’t you know.” I said I did not know, and that if her friend had requested cheap gin, she should feel perfectly fine about selecting the odd, cheap bottle. She placed it in her cart, thanked me then wandered away. I considered going back to the wine aisle and helping the little old, befuddled man, but instead opted just to finish up my bid-ness and call it a day.

 

In the future, I may linger in the alcohol section of the grocery store. You know, just in case any old-timers need a helping hand. Well, that and I do enjoy a good pick-up line from time to time.

 

For the record, I looked up raisins soaked in gin as an arthritis treatment and found a Dr. Oz assessment of the home remedy. It’s short, sweet and positive! You can read it here.

My Friend, Trader Joe’s

 

 

I heard about some major news in the Denver, CO area: Trader Joe’s has opened there!

 

For those of you unfamiliar with Trader Joe’s, it’s a grocery store. It isn’t a giant store or anything, in fact it’s on the smallish side. And yet one could (theoretically) shop there exclusively, and not be left wanting for anything. First opened in Pasadena, CA in 1967, the store is now known across America.

 

Anyhoo, when my Colorado love-bugs told me about the Denver stores, they asked what I buy there. I mentioned a few things during that phone call, but have been thinking about it for a while now. So in the interest of helping very specific people in the mid-west, here are a few Trader Joe’s items – in no particular order – I absolutely love…

 

  • Pound Plus 72% Dark Chocolate – I keep this giant bar on hand and use it more than one might think. Because I’m not a fan of milk chocolate, this is my go-to most of the time when chocolate is called for in a recipe. And a single cube makes a perfect dessert for me.
  • Buttermilk – When I need it, this is where I get it.
  • Half and Half – I don’t know why I love TJ’s Half and Half so much, but I do. More than others. It doesn’t have to make sense. It simply is.
  • President’s Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil – This is my workhorse olive oil. Yes, I have others that are used for special needs, but this one is my everyday oil and I go through it faster than I should. I even use it in cakes and brownies. The olive oil flavor is something I happen to like.
  • Tomato-Basil Marinara Sauce – This simple sauce serves as a base most of the time when I need red sauce. I jack it up, down and sideways – and always to lovely results.
  • Dijon Mustard – I’m a mustard junkie, and this dijon is my fave.
  • Unsweetened Soy Milk – Who needs sugar? This soy milk does its job without causing cavities.
  • Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar – This is another product I turn to again and again. And like Olive Oil, I go through this faster than you can believe.
  • Balsamic Vinegar (Jug) – This giant jug of Balsamico is more handy in our kitchen than I can say. I often make Balsamic reductions, and this baby is the vinegar for that. Salad dressings, marinades, sauces – you name it. Jug Balsamico rules.
  • Balsamic Vinegar (Small Bottle) – This Balsamico is aged just enough to give it a bit more quality than the jug. I don’t cook this one, as it’s better than that. And while I do own Balsamico that is so precious as to be dispensed from a dropper (I kid you not), this one serves most of my finer Balsamico needs.
  • Olive Oil Spray – This is another of those oil products that I use, regardless of the flavor. It doesn’t add so much olive oil flavor as to impact baked goods, so I use it all the time.
  • Brown Rice (All Varieties) – I don’t know why I love TJ’s Brown Rices so much, but I do. They’re yummy and consistently good.
  • Sourdough English Muffins – I’ve tried other Sourdough English Muffins, and for me there is no contest. These are the best and I love, love, love them.
  • Creamy, Unsalted Almond Butter – Peanut Butter does exist in our house, but it’s rarely used. Almond Butter on the other hand, is consumed regularly. And this one is primo.
  • Cheese – I’m a cheese whore, y’all. And I do occasionally buy cheese from swank sellers. But most of my cheeses are purchased at Trader Joe’s. There’s a good variety and the quality is consistent. Their Parmigiano-Reggiano is top-notch. Their Cave-Aged Gruyere makes me close my eyes in gratitude. When they carry a special item (usually seasonally), I get it while I can.
  • Instant Chai Latte Mix – I don’t drink this too often, but I do love it. The flavors are lovely and it’s sort of like a dessert for me.
  • Pesto Sauce – In season, I make homemade Pesto. But when that’s gone, I turn to TJ’s. Happily.
  • Jalapeno-Stuffed Olives – These bad boys are too yummy. And in a dirty martini, well, let’s just say Mikki is a happy girl.
  • Cornichons – Love these little French pickles. They add so much to a dish, be it Tuna Tartare or homemade Tartar Sauce.
  • Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract – This quality Vanilla Extract is top-notch. Please don’t use “Imitation” Vanilla Extract. It’s the little things, Kelly.
  • Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts – This package contains individually wrapped breasts, so I can pull out one at a time and keep the rest frozen. This chicken is high-quality and convenient.
  • Black Forest Bacon – Well I mean really, it’s bacon. Of course it’s good! But this one is flippin’ awesome. For me, pig-meat equals love.
  • Select Produce – I admit I don’t buy a lot of produce at TJ’s. This is because I’ve not had the greatest luck with some of it. The list of what I do buy includes Persian Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes, Bagged Avocados, Green Onions, Fresh Herbs, Lettuces, Blueberries (in season), Meyer Lemons, Shallots, Bananas, Gold Potatoes and Basil (when not growing it myself). And these items are trusted.

 

I’m sure I’m forgetting some things, as I am wont to do. But when I tell you Trader Joe’s is a regular stop for me, I am not lying. I’m talking every single week, people. And I’ve not even mentioned the friendly staff, or the terrible parking, or the fab music. I love Trader Joe’s. I hope the folks of Denver will come to love it, too. Across America, there’s a lot of love for this store. And that’s a beautiful thing.

 

Whether or not you know TJ’s, here’s a little video put together by another Trader Joe’s fan. Enjoy.

Bond, James Bond

 

 

So I was at the grocery store yesterday, standing in line to check out. I heard a rather quiet voice behind me, “Are you ready?” It was so quiet, in fact, that I paid no attention to it. “Are you ready,” the voice repeated. I looked over my shoulder. And there he was.

 

Y’all, I swear, it was like I was looking at the James Bond of checkers. He seemed posed, and ready to either toss back a martini or stock some shelves. Either way, he was confident and suave.

 

I’ve never described a grocery store checker in this manner, and I’ve never seen this particular store employee before. But if I’m ever waiting in line there again and hear a subtle voice behind me, asking if I’m ready, I plan to twirl around quickly and say, “Well, well, well. So we meet again, Mr. Bond…”