Friday, October 16, 2015

American Girl at Costco

If you have need of American Girl items, (and who with a granddaughter doesn't?) run to your nearest Costco.  My local store sold out of the $80 for $100 gift cards in a couple days.  The cards were also gone at Brentwood, the next nearest store to me. A very few (18) more cards are coming next week. Staff told me customers were buying 10 at a time.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Choosing a Chandelier (not giving advice)

I've developed a yen for a new chandelier.  I'm not sure where this came from, but, now that it's here, it's like an addiction.  I must have seen thousands of chandeliers in the last couple weeks.

After looking at many 1930's slipper lights, and the 1930's take on an empire style (above), I decided my best bet was a Marie Therese style and was prepared to buy the Pecaso small chandelier - until I saw this, for not a whole lot more than the Costco light, at the Clearing House, a local antique consignment shop,

Just because it was way too big and would have totally sucked all the energy from the house, Jacques didn't like it.  

I decided on an antique French tole light, also at the Clearing House, but after sleeping on it, I decided that wasn't right either.

I'm back to the Pecaso lights and am going to try the pendant which is on sale right now.  It's not as nice as the Schonbek $4,000 pendant, but maybe it will work.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Edgar Evins State Park Weekend (Costco!)

Planning a weekend for five cabin/campsite groups, five little children, ten adults, perfect for shopping at Costco!

One stop shopping at Costco made the weekend more fun. The Costco pool noodles were such a hit that my Brooklyn family thought about trying to take them home on the plane. 

For meals, three cheese pizzas the first night, multi-pack organic chicken breasts the second night, and salmon fillets Sunday night.  Packs of asparagus and the 90 second rice packets made a nice meal easy.  Of course, Costco Chinet paper plates.

I purchased the Keurig, 2.0, currently on sale at the Nashville Costco; the Keurig allowed everyone to have coffee at will, which was perfect as we had East Coast and Central time risers.  The Keurig came with sample packets, so our different coffee preferences were met.  

Unfortunately, we had one exception to our one stop shop:  we had to get marshmellows and graham crackers for s'mores at a regular old supermarket.  

But, of course, the Hershey bars came from Costco!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Apple Watch

I've had my Aapple watch for almost a month, and I like it.  Because I'm of a certain age, I was used to wearing a watch and that part is not new, (for some reviewers even wearing a watch is new) but the extra functions of the apple watch are new.

My favorite function so far is Apple pay. I have never figured out Apple pay on my iPhone, but, on the watch, Apple pay is simple and much faster than cash or credit. I just hold the watch over the scanner and click a side button twice. Cashiers usually look startled at how simple it is. I've read that Apple is asking retailers that sell Apple products to take Apple pay, and I very much wish Costco would.

Texting is the other function I like. You won't like watch texting If you don't like being constantly accessible, texts come on the watch and the natural tendency is to respond immediately.  The reply option on the watch includes canned responses, emojis and voice recognition. As other reviewers have said, voice recognition works much better on the watch than on the Apple phone, so it's possible to text efficiently from the watch.

To me, the exercise interface is not as good as the Fitbit.  I only checked the steps on the Fitbit and that measurement is slightly hidden on the watch.

On the plus side, the watch is much less creepy than Google Glass, which I had, tried, and passed on to my son.

So far, I'm an Apple watch user, haven't felt like leaving it at home yet.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cafe Spice Chicken Masala at Costco

This Cafe Spice Chicken Tikka Masala is seriously good-not just the chicken masala, but the rice as well.

I recently ate at Chauhan Ale and Masala House in Nashville, a wonderful new restaurant by Maneet Chauhan, and one of the best things was the rice. I kept exclaiming: this rice is great! this rice is great! how do people make this rice? But I was ignored, (maybe because by then we had each had a couple of the fabulous house cocktails). 

Anyway, Cafe Spice rice has the same taste and consistency.

Cafe Spice claims to be restaurant quality, and I agree it is very, very good, better than some of Nashville's Indian restaurants. The tikka masala was so good that, if Costco carries only the tikka masala, I may have to look for other Cafe Spice products in the regular supermarket (shudder).

One package fed two of us.  Spiciness is medium and might be too hot for most children.

I did not see this product today (May 5, 2015) at my local Nashville Costco, hopefully it will be there soon. I was sent the product for review, but wasn't compensated otherwise.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Phones at the Costco Kiosk

So maybe not everything is better from Costco. Perhaps buying a phone has gotten so complicated that Costco is just not the way to go. I have AT&T with an iPhone, and, for my last two phone upgrades, I wanted to buy from Costco, but I just couldn't make it work.  

Phone plans are so complicated now that  the representatives at the Costco kiosks can't understand all the features of all the plans of all the companies they represent.  I've been told point blank that Costco couldn't get AT&T to do something that I was able to get the AT&T store to do easily. I don't know if AT&T doesn't offer Costco customers the same benefits through the kiosks that they offer through their stores, but I suspect that they do not. 

Also, the new advertising campaign with the friendly spokesperson seems to be more than just lip service. Service was noticeably improved at the AT&T store I visited.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Petite Palmiers at Costco

The Driscoll's strawberries at Costco this week smelled so good that I found myself walking around Costco looking for shortcakes.  

I briefly considered the Walker's shortbread, but decided these Petite Palmiers from Sugar Bowl Bakery might be closer to the traditional round cake for strawberry shortcake. First, the bad news, these are too crispy to work as a base for strawberry shortcake. Second, the good news, the taste works great with berries. 

I served them plain together, but if you have a sweet tooth, or the fruit isn't perfectly ripe, you might want to cut up and sugar the fruit first.

I'm so happy I tried the Palmiers. These big, but light, cookies (110 calories each) are a perfect compliment to fruit - not too sweet.  The package was $6.99 for 2 pounds at my Nashville Costco.  I ended up freezing 2/3 of the cookies to serve with other seasonal fruits. Peaches up next.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Daydream Tulip Bulbs from Costco

I bought these Daydream tulip bulbs from Costco last fall, I think they cost about $15.00 for 50.  Because I'm all about matchy-matchy, I planned the color to go with terra cotta tiles on the roof and pillows on the front rockers.

I was clear that I didn't want yellow, for yellow I would have chosen daffodils, so, if not furious, I was at least mildly put out that the bulbs came up bright yellow. Thinking the yellow bulbs had gotten mistakenly packed in the Daydream tulip bag, I was within hours of returning the bag for my money back, when the yellow tulips began to turn color!  

You can see this phenomenon in the photo. Once again, a Costco product was ahead of me and delivered even more than I expected. The frequency with which this happens is actually kind of embarrassing 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Honey Citron Tea at Costco

This marmalade-type product intrigued me- honey citron tea? And it does make an excellent marmalade, but our favorite use is citron tea. A teaspoon in a small cup or 2 teaspoons in a large mug make a soothing hot drink, great for colds or late nights when a caffeine drink might be too much.

Citron is an Asian fruit, similar to a lemon, but less acidic. First ingredient in the tea  is citron (75%), but no actual "tea" appears in the ingredient list.  

I paid $5.99 for 1kg (2.2 lbs). 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Character pajamas at Costco

Summer character pajamas at Costco! I guess Frozen isn't over for everyone.
These were $9.99 at my store and a big hit with the granddaughters.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kirkland Almond Butter; If ever a product made me happy this is it.

The big reveal has occurred and now we know the replacement for the extremely expensive Brad's Organic almond butter ($15.89 a jar in my Nashville Costco) and an alternative to the Nutso, Seed and Nut Butter

At my Nashville Costco, this new product has arrived: Kirkland Almond Butter!

I'm so happy about this.  The Kirkland Almond Butter has a sweeter taste than the Brad's Organic Almond Butter and is less expensive, around $10.00; however, it is not organic, and that will bother some people. Not me.

I've written before about my everyday breakfast of almond butter. I'm very, very happy that the Kirkland Almond Butter is here, and I hope it stays for a long, long time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Nutzo Organic Nut and Seed Butter

I wanted to like this Nutzo Organic Nut and Seed butter but I didn't.  

I love the almond butter, which has gone up to $15.89 at my Costco. I'm afraid it's going to be dropped.  The Nutzo butter contains almonds, but also chia seeds, pumpkins seeds and others.

The consistency reminds me of peas or lentils, which is not my favorite. The flavor isn't my favorite either.  

If Costco drops the almond butter I hope they get another cashew or almond butter rather than this. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pita Pal Balela Salad at Costco

I saw the Pita Pal Balela salad with chickpeas and black beans at my Nashville Costco and figured if we didn't like it, I could easily turn it into hummus, so I purchased. The tub is $7.99 for 38 oz. or 2.37 lbs.

We liked it, but not well enough to consume the entire tub, I did turn part of it into hummus, using 2 cups of the mixture, blended in a Cuisinart with 1/4 cup each of tahini, olive oil, and water, but the resulting hummus was too spicy and a little tummy upsetting for me.  (I didn't try it on Jacques, who's not a huge hummus fan to begin with.)

I think if you eat a great deal of Middle Eastern food and are not bothered by raw onions, you would like this.  The large container is hard for a small family to consume, but, for a large party, this would be a nice side dish.

It's organic, but I'm not at the point where I care about that.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Live Comfortably Dacron/Cotton Mattress Pad at Costco

I'm very happy with my new LIve Comfortably Platinum mattress pad, which was a product sent to me by the manufacturer with a request for a review. My old pad was 100 cotton. The replacement is 100 cotton (400 thread count) but has Dacron fill.  You can see from the photo that it fits a deep (18 inch) mattress.

I need to admit that I have a loving relationship with Dacron. I was an extremely allergic child, and Dacron was one of the few materials that I could be around.

The puffy fill on the top of the pad are fluffier than my old mattress pad and more needed by my memory foam mattress which doesn't have the top padding that old-style mattresses have.

My Costco has these for $29.89, which seems inexpensive. The new Dacron fill mattress pad at Costco is an upgrade for me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Dark Chocolate Covered Almond Cookies (2 of 2)

Left with lots of chocolate covered almonds, I needed to develop a plan. 

I thought they might substitute for the chocolate and walnuts in chocolate chip cookies.  My experiment turned out okay.  Because of the salt content of the candy, I removed the salt and substituted olive oil for the butter. Here's my Chocolate Covered Almond Cookie recipe:

1 cup olive oil
2 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 turbinado sugar
21/2 cups flour 
1tsp. Baking soda
1 cup chocolate covered almonds 

Whisk together eggs and oil, add sugar and stir until smooth. Add flour and baking soda, beat until lumps are gone (I did this by hand.) add candy and stir until well blended.  Put 1/4 cup mounds, 6 to a baking sheet (cookies will spread out), cook at 350 for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let sit for 2 minutes, move to cooling rack. Store in cool and dry place, cookies are better after 48 hours.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Crazy Cuizine Mandarin Orange Chicken from Costco

Ordinarily, not my style, too processed, but I needed an Asian dish for Bookclub and these were on sale at my Costco.

The breaded white meat chicken pieces taste just like sweet and sour chicken from a Chinese restaurant.

Each box contains 2 frozen bags of coated chicken pieces.  I was able to serve 5 bookclubbers (admittedly one is vegetarian) with one bag, and have enough leftovers for another meal for Jacques and me.

For as tasty as these are, the 260 calories for one cup seems low. The package contains about 13 servings. 

I paid $12.49 after a $3.00 off coupon for the box of 66 oz. (4 lb 2 oz).

I remember making sweet and sour chicken from scratch about 20 years ago. It took all afternoon and the taste was no better than this Crazy Cuizine Orange Chicken.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds at Costco (1 of 2)

My grandmother always told me if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Which is not helpful advice if you do a shopping blog.

Nevertheless, it's hard for me to be overtly critical, even though sometimes products deserve it. Or at least, I think they do.

So, I'll admit my new least favorite product: the salted chocolate covered almonds. I really, really wanted to like these.  The Kirkland dark chocolate almond cherry clusters disappeared from my Costco's shelves, the dark chocolate covered mangos disappeared, I needed a new dark chocolate replacement. This isn't it.

The foretaste is pretty good, like the Kirkland dark chocolate covered almonds and cherries , but the aftertaste is too salty - much saltier than the Kirkland chocolate covered caramels.  I'm going to try to develop a cookie recipe to use them up.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Cranberry Walnut Round at Costco

I was slow to try the cranberry bread. 8$ for a loaf of bread seemed extreme, but I'm glad I tried it,  I ended up eating the entire loaf. No, not in one sitting!

To me, this bread has a perfect taste - not too sweet, not too sour, not too crunchy, not too spongy.  Butter makes it a great breakfast.  I'm sure the calories are high, but it tastes as if it might be good for you.

I hardly ever wish for nutritional labels but on this I do.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

BooneyHat on my Costa Rica Trip

I've posted before about the sun protective hat that Costco sold last summer, but I want to compliment the hat again. I just returned Costa Rica and the hat was much appreciated as it kept the tropical sun off my face.  The back brim was large enough to keep the sun off the back of my neck.

(The photo shows the hat on my bed at Rafifi Safari Lodge.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crock Pot Pork Loin, Mango Salsa, and Lentils

All these ingredients came from Costco. I'm not a trained recipe writer, but if you don't mind a throw-it-together recipe, here's an easy one that worked for me.


2 thick slices pork loin seasoned heavily with Johnny's Garlic Spread and cut in 1/2 inch slices
1 and 1/2 cup Mango Salsa (I used the Santa Barbara Salsa sold at Costco)
2 cups water 
Salt and pepper to taste 

Simmer in slow cooker/Crock Pot on high for 2 hours until pork and lentils are tender.

Serve with steamed broccoli and shaved Asiago cheese.

We liked it, and since we're not big meat eaters, this made lots of good leftovers.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Another Brita Pitcher

I use Brita filtered water. No idea if it's actually better for me, but my folks used Brita, and since my dad is still going strong at 95 and my mom made it to 90, I've decided that's a good enough recommendation for me.  My house is almost 100 years old; the pipes could have untold impurities, I suppose.

I'm on my third pitcher in six years, which, considering the number of times I use the pitcher a day, I've decided is acceptable. 

Eventually, I drop the pitcher on the tile kitchen floor, and it develops a small unseen crack which turns into a small leak.  

I have tried the Pur faucet filters which worked in one iteration and then not at all when they made product improvements and I couldn't keep them attached.

This week, I was surprised and happy to discover that Costco has $8 off the Brita pitcher. $8.00 off $29.99, included a pitcher with 2 filters.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Photo Books at Costco

The favorite present we gave this Christmas was the photo books.  We used local photographer, Nikki Mckinzie, to do formal sittings with both our families and assembled the photos into two large 12" by 12" Costco produced photo books. 

After uploading the photos from the CD Nikki gave us and following the photo book program on the Costco website, we received the books at our local Costco photo center in about a week..  

For the number of photos we had, the 12" by 12" book was the best choice. The smaller size books have more pages and require more photographs. Cost for the larger book is $34.99.

People loved these. We thought the great grandparents and the young kids would like them, but were surprised by how much the in-between found them a fun gift.