19. March 2014 · Comments Off on Trader Joe’s in Colorado! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

This is the last of my February catch-up posts. Thanks for bearing with me.

Last month three Trader Joe’s food stores opened in Colorado. Two are in Denver and one is in Boulder. They’re all about 1 – 1 1/2 hours from here, which is the closest we’ve lived to a TJs in a long time.

Long-time readers might recall that a store opened in Omaha less than a month before we moved from the area in 2010.

Because I’m a crazy lady, and because the boys had no school on the day the stores opened (Valentine’s Day), the day we visited the History Colorado Center in Denver, we made a short stop at the southernmost of the three new Trader Joe’s stores in Greenwood Village.

The Greenwood Village store.

The Greenwood Village store.

The Greenwood Village store is in a rather well-to-do area of Denver. It was absolutely packed.

Grand Opening Tip: Bring a friend. As soon as you walk into the store, grab a cart and get in line. The store was feeding a single line around the perimeter. It was about 25 minutes in line. You and your friend need to take turns browsing the store while keeping the cart in line. I put the boys in line while I browsed the aisles nearby.

There was a line of people just waiting for a shopping cart. I grabbed a basket instead. We filled it up to the brim, and Jacob even offered to hold some of the larger items so we could fit more into the basket. He was such a trooper — of course, he loves Trader Joe’s as much as I do so if he could help the basket fit more veggie pasta and tortellini, he would do it.

I was pleased to be able to stock up on frozen goodies, which I hadn’t done in years. However, the Greenwood Village store doesn’t sell alcohol, so I needed to plan another trip up to the next closest one.

Jacob saw this and asked for it. It was...interesting.

Jacob saw this and asked for it. It was…interesting.

A couple weeks later I had a reason to go up to Denver again, and this time I headed up to the downtown Denver store on Colorado Blvd. This is the one with a liquor license.

The downtown Denver location. It's in a pedestrian-friendly part of the city. Parking was tricky.

The downtown Denver location. It’s in a pedestrian-friendly part of the city. Parking was tricky.

Getting to this location took much longer than I had anticipated. I figured out some detours through residential areas that kept me away from the incessant traffic lights.

Even though this trip was about 2 weeks after grand opening, it was just about as crowded. Once again I had to grab a shopping cart and quickly get in line. I picked up a few items, but not much. The point of this trip was to pick up some Three Buck Chuck.

Colorado requires the alcohol portion of Trader Joe’s be in a separate store. So one has to exit the regular grocery store and enter the space next door. All I needed was some white wine, but this is what I saw:



There were Chardonnays left and that was about it for the white wines. I picked up a couple bottles and was on my way.

I’ll just have to try another time.

Yesterday it was announced that Trader Joe’s leased space in a nearby shopping center here in Colorado Springs. Oh happy day! The store won’t be open till 2015, but I’m thrilled at having a Trader Joe’s closer to me than the nearest commissary!

18. October 2012 · Comments Off on Preparing for a Two Week Tour… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , , ,

Photo of Moody AFB Commissary’s single long line. This week’s commissary trip brought back memories of our “big shopping” trips we would take to Langley AFB’s commissary as a kid. Photo: Air Force News.

You might or might not remember my post from when we first moved to Florida in 2010. When we have to move from one military assignment to another, we often will relinquish some of our pantry goods and cleaning wares.  Such as vinegar, soy sauce, household cleaners, Lysol sprays, and any perishables in the fridge and freezer. Friends are usually happy to take that stuff off our hands. We’ve come to expect that type of trading around when living in a military community.

This weekend we’re going camping. Right after the camping trip, I’m hopping on a flight back to Nebraska for my two-week Air Force Reserve tour. Why do I do this to myself?  I don’t know…

I try to help Dave plan meals before I leave on these trips, and in this case, I offered to stock up on as much food as I could for the kids’ quick-and-easy favorites: tacos, spaghetti, pizza (with a Boboli crust), turkey burgers, etc. On Tuesday I went to the NAS Pensacola commissary to stock up on groceries for this weekend’s camping, plus I attempted to buy 2 weeks of groceries for my boys while I’m gone.  I had another appointment in Pensacola this week, which is why I didn’t go to Hurlburt’s commissary this time.

I usually go grocery shopping weekly. I have a pretty good rudimentary meal planning system down pat and no one here starves. One shopping cart typically fits the bill, and everything fits in my pantry and fridge when I get it home. I don’t have a large pantry, nor do I have substantial freezer space. So once a week works well.

My boys eat a lot more than they used to. This started over the summer…we always had one son eating a ton with a growth spurt, and the other one playing picky eater. They now both eat…eat…eat…eat…

Two+ weeks worth of lunch stuff, dinner ideas, cereal, bread, eggs, milk, orange juice and meats added up in a hurry. I don’t think I’ve ever had to pay more than $300 for a batch of groceries other than that first time grocery shopping at a new location. For the first time on Tuesday, I did.

It brought back memories of the “big shopping” trips my parents would take approximately once a month when I was growing up. When we were living in Norfolk, our whole family would load into the car and drive to the commissary at Langley AFB and I have memories of using two shopping carts while my parents would stock up on meats, frozen foods and pantry goods for the month. I have memories of the LONG lines* if we were shopping on the Saturday after a military payday…the single line would extend back through the frozen food aisles to the dairy…and maybe even to the meat area at the back of the store if everyone was taking their post-payday, pre-holiday shopping trip.

*A little military lifestyle lesson here: Unlike most grocery stores, checkout areas at military commissaries will establish a SINGLE line, and whoever is at the head of the line will take the next available open register. Bigger commissaries have these funny machines — centrally located near the head of the queue — that announce “Next, Please” with the register number lit up. This blog post explains the single line, as well as many other nuances of the military commissary. Most civilians will see such queueing techniques mainly on Black Friday at stores like Old Navy and Best Buy (although Best Buy does it all the time now, if memory serves).

The monthly shopping thing? It’s a sensible way to shop if you plan properly. Which I don’t. My family simply can’t plan that well…

It’s also a sensible way to shop if you have the space to keep all that stuff. Which I also don’t. This house is spacious enough for us, but not in pantry space.

This turned into a problem when I got home on Tuesday. I didn’t have space for everything…my fridges and freezers (I have two refrigerator/freezers, one in the kitchen and one out in the garage) are packed full, and so is the pantry. I ended up having to pre-load the bags with the camping non-perishables to free up space.

To conclude, the big shopping trips don’t seem as convenient in our current state of storage. Perhaps one day we’ll have a bigger pantry, bigger fridge or a deep freezer with which we can long-term store more goods. But not in this house.

26. November 2011 · Comments Off on Black Friday…Laid Back Style · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

Happy Black Friday friends!

I occasionally have done the first-thing-in-the-morning thing on Black Friday.  Of course, that was back when Black Friday had a morning to it.  Now it’s more of a Black Thursday Night, since that’s when you have to get going to make it to the stores for the “doorbusters”.  I’m too old, too busy, and too fond of my sleep to go any earlier than about 5am.

It’s fun when you’re with a friend and you can just chat it up while waiting in the long lines.

But this year, with much of the shopping about 30 minutes away, and the beginning of the Best Buy and Kohl’s sales were too early, I decided to do Black Friday on MY time this year.

After lunchtime, Jacob and I went out and spent an insane amount of money.  Jacob had some more of his birthday gift cards to spend, and I’m so proud of how he got the Electronic Monopoly at the Black Friday price (under $20) with his $20 gift card!  He also chose some Pokemon cards and the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid DVD.

There were no crowds to speak of this afternoon, which was great!  You could see the remnants of the mobs from this morning at Walmart and Old Navy, but there was plenty of whatever we were looking for.

I misbehaved the most at the Hallmark Store.  I have quite the collection of singing snowmen (called the “Jingle Pals”), and today I got the 2011 version.  I didn’t get the 2010 version (I couldn’t find it in this area last year), but maybe I should find one at eBay or something.  I marched right into the store with my arsenal of extra Gold Crown points coupons, 20% coupon and reward dollars.

Jacob saw ads for Hallmark’s “Jingle the Husky Dog” and begged and begged for one.  Jacob has such a soft spot for Siberian huskies, so I gave in.  We got the stuffed dog home just in time for the companion TV show tonight on the Hallmark Channel.  If you turned on the dog and sat him near the TV speakers, he’d react to some of the lines of the show (same as the book he came with).

While Jacob and I were out, Dave and Timmy worked with some of the holiday decorations at the house.  The boys have been a great help so far this year (knock wood!).

18. November 2011 · Comments Off on A Cool Find at Our Local Commissary · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

Today Dave’s parents came into town. I had to drive out to Panama City Beach to their relatively new airport to pick them up. It was a nice drive, about 90 minutes. Once you get east of the congestion in Destin, the highway really opens up and it’s a very low stress drive the rest of the way.

We’re looking forward to a nice weekend with Dave’s parents.

Dave continues to improve daily. Today he took his first drive in over 2 weeks, just heading over to Jacob’s school for a Thanksgiving lunch. 5 minutes.

I wanted to share this cool find from my visit to the Hurlburt Field Commissary last Tuesday. Apparently these retail for $25 or so, but I could have bought these for about $20. This set was released this past September with much fanfare among Pez collectors.  Note the shorter Hobbit and Dwarf and Gollum dispensers!

I didn’t buy it, but I might!

How many of you remember my Pez Peeve?  It was one of my very first blog posts!

30. December 2010 · Comments Off on Yoshi! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This Yoshi?

No, this one:

Today I ran up to Publix, our local grocery store, for some last-minute items for chicken parmasean. While there, I came across a section with a bunch of those “As Seen on TV” gadgets…all marked down!

I very very rarely succumb to the “As Seen on TV” craze. I got Aqua Globes one as a housewarming gift, and some of that Mighty Putty to attach metal to metal (it served its purpose, it was temporary). I see the commercials all the time — in fact, Mighty Fix It, which has been advertised a lot lately, looks intriguing to me.

But the Yoshi Blade was staring at me on that “As Seen on TV” shelf, with a sticker on the package that said “$10”.

Half price, whoo hoo!

Well, not really half price. If you buy it from TV, you get two blades and two veggie peelers for $19.95 (plus S&H, which I gather is $6.99 PER knife/peeler set).

So I bought it — I haven’t opened it yet, but I’ve seen the commercials (which you can see here), and I’m curious about how sharp it is…and how long it’ll stay sharp. I have the worst luck with good knives…

02. December 2010 · Comments Off on Starting from Scratch — First Grocery Shopping After a Move · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , , ,

First grocery shopping after moving into the new house. Hard to keep it to one cart.  One of the symptoms of moving, is giving up a lot of the long-term items.  In my case, things like ketchup, salad dressings, peanut butter and jelly and my stores of frozen foods.  So today I replenished the stocks.

I ventured to the Hurlburt Field commissary.  Not quite as big as Offutt’s, but I’ve definitely shopped at smaller ones (Shaw, Seymour-Johnson).  My cart got so full my wrists got sore as I tried to maneuver around!

I owe the picture I took with my phone of the complete full cart, but I’m tired and I’m going to bed!

29. November 2010 · Comments Off on School Supply Shopping · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Today I learned one of the impacts of a mid-school-year move.

This afternoon I ventured out for the school supplies the boys need for their new school.  Their first day is tomorrow.

Dave brought home the school supply list last month after he registered the boys for their new school.  Whoa!  Not only was the list much longer, and had many “collective classroom” items, but it was also extremely specific.  “Crayola crayons”, “Fiskars scissors”, “Mead composition notebook”, “4 plain plastic folders with 3 prongs and pockets”, etc.

Fortunately, the Super Walmart right up the street from their new school has everything on the list neatly arranged in a single aisle, right down to the brand names.  It wasn’t hard to find at all.

This whole thing got me thinking: I was seriously spoiled in Nebraska!  My boys’ school supplies list in Bellevue was short and consisted of the basics: crayons, glue, scissors, pencils and a pencil box.  Bellevue Public Schools provided a LOT of the supplies for the entire class…especially the collective items, like tissues and hand sanitizer.  Homeowners in Bellevue will tell you that they’re definitely footing the bill, though 🙂

I’m sure for many of you reading this (such as my sister in central North Carolina), you’re used to it.  I also understand that my boys won’t be denied an education if I chose NOT to provide these items.  However, the thought of the teacher having to provide many of these items out of pocket for every student who is unable to provide everything gives me the chills.

And I certainly wasn’t ready at all to buy everything at full price!  A consequence of starting my boys in a new school mid-year.  I know what many of these items will cost during the August Back-to-School sales and I’m pretty certain in the future these school lists will cost us about 1/3-1/2 as much.

Timmy’s school supplies.  Note the FIVE boxes of crayons in the front.  And the ream of card stock.  Definitely unusual items.
From 2010 11 28 New School Supplies
Jacob’s school supplies.  His list was just as long, but his items apparently were smaller.  There’s a purple box under the markers filled with pencils, erasers, glue and scissors.
From 2010 11 28 New School Supplies

Everything is bagged up and ready to haul into school tomorrow morning!

15. November 2010 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

Okay, for me personally, it’s a day late and a dollar short…since we’re leaving in a week.

I’m a huge Trader Joe’s fan!  I can’t say exactly when I first went there.  I know it was about 10 years ago and it was either the one in Commack, NY with my in-laws, or else in Falls Church, VA with one of my childhood friends, Naomi.

If you aren’t in the know, then you deserve a little background.  Trader Joe’s is a grocery store chain, with most of their locations on the east and west coasts.  They are unique in that they market their own brands of many foods, many of which are very unusual.

Such as pad thai kits, curry sauces, and pasta.  Beer, wine and organic milk.  They’ll carry other brands too, but again, mostly on the unusual side.  It’s so much fun to shop there.  The prices are very reasonable, and you know you’re getting good food with minimal processing.  Their fruit and nut section is so much fun.  Their coffees are fair trade, many of them are organically grown.

About 6 months after we moved to Apex, NC, a Trader Joe’s opened up right up the road from our house.  I was so excited to make TJ’s our family’s local grocery store.  It was awesome!

Then we moved to Omaha, and were once again without TJ’s (although being near a commissary again helped).  I saw a page on Facebook called “Bring Trader Joe’s to Omaha” where several folks were trying to work with the company on bringing the store to the midwest.  I guess TJ’s need to put a distribution hub somewhere near here first.  Because of that page, I knew this past winter that TJ’s had taken a lease on a property in Western Omaha and on November 12th they had their grand opening.

A store in West Des Moines, IA had opened a week prior, and in 2 weeks a store will open in Lincoln, NE.

So here I am on November 13th, happy about there being a Trader Joe’s nearby.

From 2010 11 13 Trader Joe’s Omaha Grand Opening

And this is what greeted us when we walked in:

From 2010 11 13 Trader Joe’s Omaha Grand Opening

Yeah, it was crowded! Fortunately, we knew EXACTLY what we needed: coffee, pasta, nuts and wine. Large volumes of each.  We really enjoy the Charles Shaw wine and picked up TWO CASES of the stuff!  Plus Jacob’s favorite veggie ruffle pasta, an assortment of nuts for cooking and baking, and several large containers of their coffee.

So I have my fix, which will carry me for several months as I make my way back into a Trader Joe’s drought.

Back to packing!

08. December 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I have a link to Amazon on the left. If you buy from Amazon by clicking through this blog, I guess I get Amazon.com credit or something. I thought it was cute, so for the remainder of holiday shopping, feel free to check it out.

It’s allegedly showing you things that it thinks readers of my blog would like to buy. I’m seeing a Geotrax set and an Electric Company DVD set among some books and an iPod…not bad…not bad at all.

I’ve a couple odds and ends for my holiday shopping this year, once those are wrapped up, I can be officially done!

As for the cards, that’s another matter. This class I’m in down on the FL Panhandle has been pretty intensive and I have my first exam tomorrow morning. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on the family newsletter during the week.

(Yes, I’m blogging instead of studying, but don’t worry, Dave was a dear and just quizzed me via webcam from the objectives list I’d e-mailed him this afternoon. I guess to help pay me back for the quizzing I helped him with during his PhD. Thanks Dave, you helped quite a bit!)