Monday, December 30, 2013

Costco's Greeting Card assortment: 25 Handmade Greeting Cards

I've posted before about the great greeting card assortments for sale at Costco.  I particularly like the current 25 All Occasion assortment. The box contains 25 cards, at a cost of under $15.00 for the entire box. Since it usually costs me at least $2.50 for one greeting card at the card store, this is a wonderful price.  And these cards are heavy, 3-D cards. The cards come with a warning that postage may be more due to weight. I don't mind an extra stamp given the quality of the cards.

On the back of the box is a graphic, showing each card in the box; and, with the store display, Costco usually has a loose leaf notebook that shows each card. 

The children's birthday cards in this assortment are especially fun, but I like the adult cards also. I love opening a product and finding out it is even better than anticipated.  This happens to me a lot at Costco.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

After Christmas Sales not so good at Costco

I remember the first time I went to Costco the day after Christmas expecting all the Christmas merchandise to be on sale. Costco here doesn't work that way.  Here most of the Christmas items are gone the day after Christmas, and the store has switched over to weight-loss, exercise and storage equipment. 

If you're looking for great after Christmas deals, Costco is probably not the place.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Random News of the Week: Class Action Law Suit, Self Check-out

Class Action Law Suit 

Law 360 reported on December 18 that Costco settled a class action law suit in California.  Costco paid 8 million dollars and agreed to update policies about advancement.

The lawsuit claws that women were not advanced into store management as readily as men. 

Self Checkout

Perhaps news only to me, but some Costvo stores have self check-out. I use these at grocery stores, but I might miss the check-out at Costco, where the checkers know so much more about the store.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

iSi Whipped Cream Maker at Costco

I definitely did not need this isi whipped cream maker from Costco.  But it is fun.

You fill it about half full with whipping cream, set off a compressed gas canister, shake for 4 minutes (I pretended I was exercising), and you have pure whipped cream, without the preservatives.  It's possible to flavor the cream, but I haven't tried that yet. Whiskey flavored whipped cream sounds delightful. I'm sure I saw that mentioned on my "foodie" twitter list.

Here's a photo of chocolate chip/hemp heart cookies made into a sandwich with whipped cream center. (I used the standard Nestle chocolate chip cookie recipe substituting hemp hearts for the walnuts.)

I'm still getting used to the decorator nozzle. Cream comes out with some force. 

Plastic Packaging: Danger to Elder Skin

At times the plastic packaging that surrounds the smaller Costco items is easy to open.  The plastic around the edges isn't too thick, and the packages can be opened easily with a scissors.

But sometimes the packaging is dangerous.

Today, I bought an item with extremely thick packaging, not only sealed on the edges, but also sealed in the middle with plastic dots that made it extremely difficult to open.  Perhaps this wouldn't have been a problem for you, but for older people (like me) it is. We have very thin skin. The more time spent wrestling with sharp plastic packaging, the greater the chance for a serious cut. I've received painful cuts this way. 

The difference between the thick and thin plastic packaging seems to be the weight of the item being sold. The heavy plastic is necessary when heavier items are packaged with multiple parts; otherwise the package becomes too floppy. 

I want to suggest, for heavier items, a box would be better. Even if, for the manufacturer, plastic is cheaper, opening the heavy plastic is not safe for older folks.  As the population ages, maybe the danger from this heavy plastic packaging will be acknowledged. I suppose this is not solely a Costco problem.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Costco News of the Week: What your grocery store says about you!

The Washington Post reported on a fascinating study done by the Scarborough research group.  Unfortunately, I can't find the report on the Scarborough website, so I'm not sure about the Washington Post's interpretation, which is confusing to me.  They claim the report shows that Republicans tend to shop at Costco or Walmart, Democrats shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and Independents shop at smaller grocery stores like Kroger.

The study, as reported by the Post, goes on to say that consumers with incomes over $250,000 are especially likely to shop at specialty grocery stores.  (I guess this means Whole Foods. Here, in Nashville, we know Whole Foods is where music stars shop. I've seen Keith Urban there myself and heard Alison Krauss complain in a concert that it should be called Whole Paycheck.)

The Washington Post article also references a study showing that Costco shopping is bi-coastal,  Folks in the rest of the country tend to shop at grocery stores, but on the coasts, it's Costco, Trader Joe's or Whole Foods.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Simply Indulgent Candles from Costco

Last night, we met for a pot luck and gift exchange at Linda's beautiful hillside home in Brentwood. I brought a Costco pumpkin roll and noticed some other Costco products in the pot-luck; pretty sure the Kale salad was represented.

For the gift exchange, Linda gave her yummy homemade toffee, MaryAnne, a wooden tray from the fine jewelry store Hudson Poole in Tuscaloosa (she's related to the owner), and Rose, a great discovery she found at Aldi.  Of course, the gifts I gave came from Costco.

I saw a product very similar to these Simply Indulgent candles at on sale for $19.00 each, so $19.99 for three 12 oz. candles seemed like a great deal to me.  The packaging is attractive and designed to make it easy to split into separate gifts. Every year Costco has some products like this that seem to be designed to split among several friends or coworkers. 

I like the metal containers, and the scents, pear-cider, sandalwood, and cranberry-pomegranate, are lovely.  I think my friends liked them.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Turtleneck Sweaters at Costco for $9.99

I love these Leo & Nicole turtleneck sweaters from Costco for $9.99.  I started with two, green and maroon, and went back Sunday to get black and cream.

The best thing about them is how easy they wash.   I use the machine, throwing them in with other darks, and then dry them on a hanger.  For less than $10.00, these are a wonderful buy.

I wear turtleneck sweaters all winter, but usally wool.  These are as heavy as my cashmere sweaters, but nowhere near as expensive to clean.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Movie, "Reds 2", Opening Scene in Costco

We enjoyed the first Red movie, which is about Retired and Extremely Dangerous secret agents. Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, are among the older stars. (Although Mary Louise Parker, Bruce Willis' love interest, is only 49! Boo, hiss.) 

The second Red movie starts with the same characters, again retired, and now shopping in Costco!  The message seems to be that Costco is the respectable, boring, safe place to shop.  I'm glad they weren't shopping in Walmart or Target. I feel safer knowing our secret agents have the good taste to shop at Costco.

This clip doesn't play on my phone, but if you're not on a phone, here's the official trailer of the movie, showing the Costco scene:

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Random Costco News of the Week: P to E

Reading stock news about Costco (COST) can be confusing. Some stock analysts say buy, some say hold, some might even say sell.  

One reason not to be excited about Costco stock is the relatively high Price to Earnings (P to E) ratio (26.40 December 6, 2013).  Recently, Motley Fool did a write-up on why, even though the P to E ratio is higher, Costco might be a better buy than Walmart (WMT) or Target (TGT).  If you follow the stock market for any length of time, you learn that P to E isn't everything. Stock prices can float on emotions as much as P to E; nevertheless, for a value investor, P to E is important.  

Motley Fool's point was that Costco's growth is much better than Walmart or Target, so while their P to E doesn't look great, the growth is impressive and is on track to continue, with 36 new stores opening next year.  According to Motley Fool, Costco's membership renewal rate, which provides significant income, is up.  Keep or buy is their advice.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Action Cameras at Costco

One of the popular gifts of this holiday season is the mobile cameras that fits on a helmet, skateboard, bike, or ?? and films as the person participates in a sport or hobby.  I've seen these on the shelves in my Costco, and I've seen the ads on TV (which, of course, never mention Costco as a source), so, as a public service, I'm letting you know that Costco has these.

I saw two types. Costco has the GoPro Silver Hero3 model for $229.99.  GoPro is the one much advertised on TV.

My Costco also sells a Sony Action cam for $189.99. 

I think these would be great for an active young family, and only limited by imagination.  Filming sports, holidays like Halloween or Christmas, I think these could be fun.

Bob and I - probably not action camera material.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dark Chocolate as Health Food (Costco Product Review and Rant)

I've always loved and preferred dark chocolate. Now that chocolates are good for us, here come the weird-ass (I apologize for this language, there's not another phrase that captures my feelings so perfectly) products using dark chocolate as medicine or "health food".

It's true that if you live long enough science discovers that something previously unhealthy is suddenly healthy and vice versa.  We were warned against aspirin back in the '70's and urged to use Tylenol. Now aspirin is good for you and Tylenol comes with warnings. I think. The same thing has happened back and forth with coffee, and now with chocolate.

I've always preferred dark chocolate candy, wrapped around a caramel or butter cream, over a dried fruit or pecan, layered with milk chocolate, candy you might find in a See's candy box.

I've posted about the chocolate covered cherries and almonds in Costco; and, before now, these never had the whiff of health food to me, but now I'm wondering if the chocolate covered cherries and almonds were the scouts for this invasion of dark chocolate health food pervading the store.  

To be more specific, I bought dark chocolate covered almonds last week that I expected would be wonderful and discovered they were infused with such a strong flavor of coconut (which is another currently favored "healthy" food) that I had to take them back. The coconut aftertaste was terrible. I might have over-reacted a little when explaining my return because the woman at the Costco return desk said, "Tell me how you really feel."  I love Costco for allowing returns on products that don't please.  

I should have learned my lesson; but, that day, I bought dark chocolate covered dried "super" fruit, $8.99 for 2 lbs at the West Nashville Costco.  The fruits are Bing cherries, cranberries and blueberries. I still hadn't figured out that dark chocolate is now code for "healthy, like a vitamin supplement", although there is almost no vitamin content according to the package. The dried fruit taste is better than the coconut almonds, no awful aftertaste, but definitely not as good as the Almond Cherry Clusters.

Costco is wonderful at having products at the exact moment, or before, people want them.  I'll be glad when the "healthy dark chocolate" movement is over.

Monday, December 2, 2013

CP Authentic Asia Shrimp Wonton Soup with Noodles at Costco

I almost wish I didn't know about this CP Authentic Asia Shrimp Wonton Soup with Noodles.  I bought this at Costco because Bob likes shrimp and soup, and it turns out we love this product. The broth flavor is delicate; each wonton contains a whole large shrimp.  I even like the thin wheat noodles underneath the wontons.

I paid $12.89 for the Costco package that contains six bowls, which seems expensive for soup, but this is more like an entree, even though each bowl is only 260 calories. 

CP stands for Charoen Pokphand – meaning “Prosperity in Food”. Here's an advertisement for the soup. CP is a Thai company, so that might be the language in the ad, but I'm not sure. The ad plays on my desktop computer, but I can't see it on my phone.

Microwaving takes 4 minutes. I like to eat mine with chop sticks, but Bob uses a soup spoon. I guess this is about as far from locally sourced as you can get.

Costco Pumpkin Rolls (Bakery)

These pumpkin rolls with cream cheese filling, located back by the Costco bakery, come in packs of three. I paid $12.99 at my Nashville store.

Last week, when I was in the Costco checkout line, I was behind a woman buying five packs of these (fifteen pumpkin rolls).  I've given up being shy about asking people to account for the contents of their shopping carts. She told me the pumpkin rolls were wonderful, would freeze, and were loved by everyone. She has a shop and keeps them around during the holiday season to serve to customers and staff.  I had to try them.

Bob and I ate one roll right away. Since then, I've taken one to a baby unveiling at Carol's (her new grandchild from Asheville was visiting), and I have one frozen for later in the holidays.  

To me, the frozen one was even better than the fresh. I froze these by cutting the thick cardboard under the rolls with a scissors to make a "plate" and then making a loose tent over each pastry with foil. To thaw, I placed in the fridge overnight. Too long in the freezer might cause some damage; my package was not completely airtight because of the fancy cream on top.

Transporting was easy because it had its own base. Once at Carol's, it fit on a dinner plate, so plating wasn't a hassle

The pumpkin roll in the picture has already had several slices removed. Most everyone does seem to like these.