Sunday, February 19, 2017

Costco Hits and Misses, Part I: Groceries

I'm a big Costco fan and go there quite often! Here's what I typically buy and why I love the store. I'll break this post down into two parts since I have so much to cover! This week, I'm focusing on groceries. 

HITS

Silk Original Almond milk. At $2.79 a carton, this is a pretty good deal. It comes in a three pack.
Coffee beans. I love their Kirkland brand and at $9.99 a bag, it's a great deal. I also like the Cameron Organic Velvet Moon blend, which you can get for a similar price.
Dave's Killer bread. After hearing about this brand on other blogs, we finally tried it! I am happy to have found a bread that both Craig and I like. It toasts well, is great for sandwiches, and the ingredients are healthy.

Fresh raspberries. I switch between buying organic (even though I know they're in the dirty dozen category) and conventional, depending on the price. Costco's organic produce is usually fairly priced.

Frozen berries. Their prices on frozen organic berries/fruit are unbeatable. This big bag of organic raspberries cost me $12.99. Sadly, they are not carrying this again.
Red grapefruit cups. I love grapefruit, but dislike peeling the actual fruit and the rind that comes with it. I always feel like I never get enough of the actual fruit pieces to eat. That is why I keep purchasing these red grapefruit cups to take in my lunch. I simply empty out the syrup and eat it.
Quinoa and kale. I found this in the frozen section and it's a great base for a work lunch. I usually just add chickpeas and spices to it.
Morning rounds. I used to buy these more often when they were the Cranberry Orange flavor pictured below. They switched to Muesli flavor and it's just too boring for me. My mom still loves them. They were a nice quick breakfast to toast up or warm up in the microwave. I also liked putting almond butter on top for a little protein.
Pizza. Most of their vegetarian frozen pizzas are a fair price per pizza. This flavor was delicious, but sadly the lady handing out samples of this last time I was there said they were no longer going to carry it.
Juice. Craig's the juice drinker in this house. That's not to say that I don't pour myself a glass from time to time, but I know it is better to eat fruit than drink it. I do love adding a little of this juice to a smoothie, which makes it instantly delicious!

Coscto seems to switch up the juice flavors they have pretty regularly. I was buying a Naked green juice for Craig for a while and then that disappeared from the store.
Nuts. Craig says I have a nut problem, ha ha! But, he's kind of right. Since I am a vegetarian, I tend to eat handfuls of nuts at home or at my work desk to get a little protein and fat. Their prices are fantastic, especially for the pistachios. I usually get that big bag for around $15.

Now onto some misses. I probably should have taken advantage of Costco's fabulous return policy and just brought back any items I didn't like, but I always feel weird about doing that when I've tried some of the product.

MISSES

Kirkland Organic Hummus. These are the perfect snack size containers, so I thought they would be great for lunches. I usually am not that picky about hummus, but this one is too garlicky for me and the flavor is just blah. I also don't like how much plastic is wasted with these little containers, so I guess I'll just stick to making it myself or buying bigger containers from now on.
Vegetarian frozen meals. While I love most of the vegetarian frozen meals I find at my store, we have felt that recent selection has been disappointing us. We used to buy frozen Indian samosas that came with an amazing cilantro chutney. Now those come with meat samosas, so I can't buy the product anymore. It is always nice to have a few frozen meals in bulk for Craig and I to take to work when we have prepared a meal. I'll keep hoping my store improves in this area.

Furniture. While I think they have wonderful prices on furniture, the selection isn't always that appealing. They tend to carry very dark wood tables, dressers, etc. in their stores. I'm a big fan of white furniture, so maybe it's simply my opinion. Online is a different story though--they do have a wider selection there. I am not sure some of their prices are that discounted on furniture items.

Inconsistency. As I mentioned above, the inconsistency with products is a little disappointing. I think this is normal for any store, but just when I start to love a product, it seems like Costco no longer stocks it.

Overall, I have to say that I have been extremely happy with the customer service and cleanliness of the stores in our area. Their cashiers are always friendly and quick. I never feel like I have to battle with anyone at the return desk (well there was one incident with a price match).

Are you a Costco member? Please list some of your favorite items below if you are! I love peeking into other people's carts and seeing what they like to buy, so this is sort of a virtual way to do that!

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 6]

I finally subscribed to VegNews! I was always impressed by the magazine when I glanced through it at bookstores. Lots of great info in this first issue!
Loved this flavor of kombucha. It really tasted like coca-cola! I'm getting into trying different brands and flavors. I even saw that my local Costco carries a pretty popular brand and the price was decent.
I setup a little workout area in our half-exposed basement room a couple of weeks ago. It's been nice lifting weights and doing some yoga in my own house vs. a gym. I used this video from FitnessBlender as a warmup and recommend it!
A post-workout smoothie bowl was in order!
The little rascals got into my bows and wrapping paper. Shiva was especially anxious to get it back from me when I took it away. They seem to have lots of naughty nighttime and early morning adventures lately!

We enjoyed falafel sandwiches, delicious baklava, and tabouleh at a new Middle Eastern restaurant on Wednesday. We just kept buying more and more food because 10% of the sales went to my nephew's school.
I tried both flavors of these new oatmeal cups from Trader Joe's last week. They were delicious and not too sweet at all. 
I did some studying for a NASM balance training course on Saturday morning. The information was pretty similar to what I learned for my personal training certificate, so I managed to pass the test and earn 0.3 CEUS! Now I just need to study for the remaining credits from an ACE course so I can renew my certification for another two years. 

We ventured over to 'Stallis on Saturday afternoon to get some food and take care of some other business in the area. Craig got his favorite sub sandwich and brought it along to where I wanted to eat, the West Allis Cheese & Sausage shoppe. 
It was our first time at this location and we enjoyed the atmosphere. They had advertised raclette on their Facebook page and I was excited to see that a local restaurant carried it! I had it at street fairs in Switzerland a couple of times and missed the unique flavor.
I made some roasted chickpeas topped with olive oil garam masala, and a little sea salt. They were a nice addition to kale salad. 
I decided to stop reading a so-so book and downloaded two new ones from the library. I am loving Notorious RBG so far. I knew her story would resonate with me.
I experimented with the manual setting on my DSLR a bit. The photos I took turned out ok.
 More experimenting on a few of my favorite subjects, the cats!
We ended our weekend with a nice winter hike in the windy yet sunny weather. It felt wonderful to get out in the fresh air!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My Everyday Life [Week 5]

Week five coming at ya!

A typical scene most weeknights.
I consumed a lot of smoothies this week. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I made one of them a bowl.
 Waiting for an oil change. A hot chocolate and Jamie Dornan on TV made waiting pleasant.
I say this all the time. Is that weird? Apparently it's not too strange since someone made a sign with the quote!
My co-worker always has a funny quote to share. One of my favorites is "my cat is a millennial." Another co-worker wrote this one down and put it on my computer since Brenda said it after I had already left for the day. It started my work day out with a laugh.
 Reading magazines by the fire at the library makes me happy.
Tofu and avocado sandwiches were on repeat. We've been loving Dave's Killer Bread from Costco. I think I'm going to a do a Costco favorites post soon and share it in there.
 I finally got my desk ergonomics sorted out at work. I only wish I had done it sooner.
Craig and I shared the tortilla soup at Qdoba. It's so good!
Spent Saturday night watching this movie. I really liked it! I am a big fan of foreign movies. 
Fun times can always be had at Target!
I'm pretty sure I need this coloring book in my life. Especially since our current President is not making America great. Cats can though. Cats always make everything better.
Shiva basking in the sunshine at our patio windows. 

The week ended with a sunny Sunday, which was much needed and appreciated. We enjoyed a chill weekend filled with some cleaning, time with the kitties, catching up with my brother in France via Facetime, and running errands together today. 

Sometimes I look back and see what I was doing in week 5 last year and I noticed a couple of similarities to this year! I was talking about appreciating the sun and how I had some gut issues. Well, I didn't feel great yesterday either and sometimes I do think my gut problems affect me at certain times of year. I've been trying to eat healthy and also drink lots of kombucha to get some good bacteria in my gut. I think I should go back to consuming probiotics on a more regular basis, especially since I haven't been eating as much yogurt as I used to. 

Hope you have a great week! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What I've Been Reading Lately: January 2017 edition

I read four books in January! I accomplished getting through that many by staying off my phone a little more than normal.

Here's what I finished!


The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science that Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan SykesThis was just ok. I really wanted to like it because it's about a topic I can't seem to get enough information on. However, I didn't think it was that well-written and while I don't shy away from academic books, it was not accessible and hence quite boring at times.


Miss Jane by Brad Watson. I kept seeing this title everywhere, so when I found it on the new fiction shelf at the library, I grabbed it on a whim. I knew a little bit about the plot ahead of time and the character's perspective was one that interested me. I also liked that Jane's story was based on the author's Great Aunt's life and set in the South because I rarely pick up fictional stories based in that area of the country. I gave it a four out of five stars because while I considered it well-written, it was a little hard to get through certain parts.


The Spy by Paolo Coelho. This was my first time reading a Coelho book and I had high expectations for the author. For some reason, I could not get into his most famous book, The Alchemist, when I tried to read it about 8 years ago. I was drawn to this novel because I hoped to learn more about famous spy Mata Hari. While the book does give you a good glimpse into her life, I think I would have been better off reading a biography about her instead. I rated this 3 out of 5 stars.


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I just finished this title over the weekend and enjoyed it. Like Miss Jane, Vance's book kept appearing in my life so I took that as a sign to read it! I thought that it would be good for me to understand the perspective of a culture that may have voted for our current President, especially because I did not. Vance's writing was excellent and his story was sad, yet captivating.