Let's talk Trader Joe's. This has got to be one of my most favorite places to shop for food. I was introduced to TJ's all the way back in like, 2001, when Mark and I visited his sis Donna in San Diego. She had one of these unique grocery stores a few blocks from her apartment, and we went there a few times looking for dinner items and to pick up some beer (gotta love California with alcohol at the grocery!). A year or two later, a TJ's showed up in Annapolis a few blocks from where WE lived! Bliss! They have the neatest stuff, and it's usually much cheaper than buying it anywhere else. And for someone who likes neat food items, well, I could hardly stay out of the place. Way back then, you could get pasta - all different shapes - for just 69 cents a pound. They had all the grain pastas, too, before the big chains started carrying them. They had produce, mostly organic, all kinds of unique cooking and baking items -- well, I could go on and on. Let's just say it reminds one a lot of Whole Foods, except it's tons better, tons more laid back, TONS cheaper, and well, fun.
I've missed Trader Joe's since moving to Cumberland. There is one sort of near where my mom and dad live. It's trafficky to get there - one of those places that's hard to get into and out of, especially certain times of day. I've been there a few times to pick up one or two items when I'd visit my parents - olive oil, biodegradable laundry detergent, soaps, the like. But I hadn't been there to shop in a good long while - no wonder - the closest one to where I live now is about 100 miles away.
You knew it was coming, didn't you? Yep. Can you say Road Trip!? Yesterday, my friend Judi and I packed up the car, hauled along 3 of our collective 7 children (hmmmm, you do the math, I have 2, that means that Judi has....yes, 5. All boys). Anyway, Jonathan and Matthew went, and so did her youngest: Nathan. Three little boys, 100 miles each way, long day of shopping. Yeah.
They actually did really well. But let's not get away from the topic at hand! Lattes in hand (well, okay, in cup holders) off we went. Hit TJ's in Gaithersburg, MD. Got some great deals! Got things like Flax Seed and Soy tortilla chips, and pure Tahitian vanilla extract. Organic lemons, and Organic Fuji apples for .69 cents! Fire-roasted red peppers and pesto imported from Italy. Flax seed pasta for .99 cents a pound! Okay, it's gone up a bit over the years, but still much better than the Barilla Plus at the local market for $2.04/lb. And the crowning glory - a gourmet Baklava assortment that leaves honey dripping from your fingers and you just can't help closing your eyes while a low "mmmmmmmm" comes out of your throat. Great stuff. Both me and Judi got a pack of that stuff. Plus lots of other goodies! Thanks Trader Joe's. I wish, wish, wish you had a store closer to me! And for all of you who have a TJ's near your home, treasure it! Go there if you haven't been. Spend some time there. These guys run a fantastic business - it's not franchised at all. Check out their website - they're all about local commerce and being a part of the community. They rock!
And back to the little boys - it was a good day. The only one remotely antsy was my Matthew, who after two hours in the carseat, then an hour in the grocery cart, another half hour in the carseat, then an hour in a high chair at Applebees, only to be put in the carseat again for the ride home....well, if I were him, I'd protest, too, I guess. All in all, a great day - and a huge sound out to Judi's mom and sister who kept her 2 year old most of the day, and picked up her older 3 from school and gave them dinner while we staggered back up the road! Oh, yeah, and a sound out to our awesome hubbies for working as they do everyday, so us SAHM's can put all their hard-earned money into a gas tank, gourmet groceries and just a fine day out of the house!
Gotta love a road trip! Even if it is just to go grocery shopping!