Project Distraction

OK.  Another week of trying to work through the loss of my good friend Jen.  I’m trying to hold it together but am only doing so with varying (and wildly unpredictable) degrees of success.  I told you last time that my punishing new workout is keeping my mind occupied for one crazy hour, several times a week — even at the expense of other able-bodied tasks, like walking.  I have found that some other things also tend to work in keeping me distracted:

  • My kids shouting at each other.  Thankfully, this happens often.  I’d like to think they are doing this for my benefit — but the truth is that the lure of ensuring order, at all costs, on The Island of Sodor is really what drives them.  I facilitate so many negotiations and trades among Thomas, Percy, James and others all day that I could probably build a credible resume for an international diplomacy career.
  • Grocery shopping.  Seriously.  I don’t know why, but it makes me feel better. Except for the horrific soundtracks that may medically predispose one to clinical depression.  Anne Murray and Sheena Easton, I’m looking at you.
  • My fury toward NBC for allowing Ann Curry to replace Meredith Vieira as morning anchor.  My husband and I have several theories about this, the front runner being that, for years, NBC has actually been playing a game of “Beat the Clock” to kill off Ann before they were forced to promote her.  Or until she learned to read the news.  So they sent her to the forefront of every possible dangerous story — from the ridge of erupting volcanoes and pretty much all natural disasters, to in-person conversations with Angelina Jolie.  Somehow, like a cat, she prevailed in this ultimate game of Survivor.  So my mornings are even crappier now that I have to get all acclimated with GMA as my replacement show.  Because I can’t watch this woman.

YouTube Preview ImageSee?  I’m distracted.  So that’s good.

I was only recently allowed to come out of witness protection for my opinions on Oprah, so I won’t further endanger myself by belaboring the Ann Curry point.  Instead, let’s go back to the grocery shopping — from which an interesting development has occurred.  I’ve become a Trader Joe’s convert. 

A convert?! 

{Gasps all around.]

How did you not love Trader Joe’s? 

Yeah.  I get that a lot.

For a long time, I didn’t feel the TJs love.  Because, plain and simple, I can’t do all of my shopping there.  For all of the original TJs treats that are sublime, I don’t want to make a separate trip to buy other essentials that they don’t carry.  It’s annoying.  Do they think that people just sit around and eat delicious appetizers, exotic yogurts and yet never need a roll of paper towels?  I appreciate the bargain wine selection — I do.  But, dude (or, Joe, I guess) — I need to buy diapers for my kid.  And I don’t want to grow them from flax seed.


TJs is the closest grocery store to my house, and so I’ve recently found myself walking its aisles more and more as part of Project Distraction.  And with each trip, I become just a little bit more enamored. 

I know.  I’m really late to the TJs lovefest.  So I need your help getting my cult credentials up to par.  I’ll tell you my favorite finds if you tell me yours. 

Sea Salt Brownies.  Sweet Jesus, these are good.  The culinary sea salt rage seemed a little overboard to me for a while until it entered the chocolate realm.  Now I wonder how I ever ingested anything chocolate without sea salt.  You complete me.

Marinara Sauce.  Shhhhh.  I’m supposed to make kick-ass homemade tomato sauce like my mom taught me.  Like a good partially-Italian girl from Jersey.  And I do — a few times a year.  But for quick fixes, I need good jarred stuff and this is my new favorite.  Also pretty low in calories.  See ya, Classico.

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough.  The current mutual love of my kids and me at dinnertime.  99 cents.  20 minutes to pizza.  Hello.

Chocolate Covered Banana Slices.  Frozen deliciousness.  Don’t let the packaging fool you — I don’t waste these on my kids, since they have zero appreciation for the sublime effect of dark chocolate smothering their fruit.  It’s all mine and I hide it in the depths of the freezer.  Behind the frozen cauliflower decoy bag.

Mini Chicken Tacos.  My secret weapon for easy entertaining.  Always an appetizer hit.  Crack open some salsa and/or guacamole and you’re good to go.

Classic Hummus.  So much better than other brands.  Creamier, more flavorful.  Love.

Frozen Turkey Meatballs.  Back under the category of “Shameful Italian Shortcuts” (see also, Marinara Sauce) — really good stuff.

Honorable Mention:  Bucket of Chocolate Chip Cookies.  You know the ones.  My husband loves these.  He could eat the whole container himself.  I think they’re good but not special.  But I have to promise him I’ll buy them during my TJs wandering sessions, so they make the cut.  Sort of.

Also: This list does not include wine.  Because I am still conducting thorough and proper due diligence on TJs’ offerings and I wouldn’t want to speak prematurely.  But definitely let me know if there’s a bottle I should move up the list.  You know, in the name of research.

So, TJs enthusiasts, hit me up with your Best Of list.  I know you have one.  And I know you want to share it.

{I was not compensated for this post.  All opinions are my own.}

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  1. I love the Greek yogurt, and the nut section is to die for. We love the bucket of chocolate chips but they’re too addictive, so we don’t buy them often. In the frozen section, the apple blossoms are VERY good. Then again, everything in their frozen dessert section looks good. That’s why my husband does the Trader Joe’s shopping. He’s not tempted. The rice (brown or jasmine) in the freezer section is great and often sold out because of is greatness. It comes in two-serving bags that microwave in 3 minutes but easily serves a carb-conscious, three-person family.

  2. Kristin says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your loss. Distraction is definitely the way to go for a while, I’ve found.

    That or lots of those banana slices. My kids actually love them. And because they are frozen, I can get away with calling just one or two of them (depending on the size) a dessert. It takes them a while to eat them.

    I’m not in LOVE with TJs, but I do appreciate it. Both of the ones anywhere near me are enough of a haul that I don’t go often enough to satisfy my need for treats and easy meals. I just had the frozen veggie lasagna over the weekend though. Really good!

  3. Steve says:

    I’ll pay you serious money if you’ll drown Ann Curry in a bucket of marinara sauce. Classico’s works fine for this purpose. I mean it, $100 cash money.

  4. Andrea says:

    So glad Dr. Root shared your blog on FB so I could find the only other blasphemous human alive to despise both Oprah and Ann Curry! I started auditioning other morning shows, and I’m overwhelmed by the insipidness or trying-too-hard hipness up and down the dial. The only viable option my be sleeping til noon!

    • fordeville says:

      I can always be counted on for a little TV blasphemy — glad you concur. Let me know if your auditions produce anything worthwhile. Otherwise, Operation Sleeping In sounds fabulous. Or I guess I can just read the papers again.

  5. Jenn says:

    OK, here’s the list:
    – Frozen waffles
    – Apple Carrot Crushers
    – Organic Sheels and White Chedder Mac n Cheese
    – Fleur de Sel Caramel Sauce (AMAZING)
    – Instant Chocolate pudding (suggestion: swirl in a tiny bit of the caramel sauce)
    – Challah bread (big and good, makes kick-ass french toast)
    – Frozen/breaded halibut (that’s not the right name, but it is in a blue box, great for the kids, and tastes a lot like good fish n chips – with big nice-looking fish inside)
    – Jeremy loves the flavored lemonade offerings (too sweet for me)
    – Crumpets
    – “This Fig Walks into a Bar” cereal bars
    – I second the nuts-section
    – The TJ private-label beers are pretty good

    • fordeville says:

      Very impressive list — thank you. You had me at pudding.

    • Onnie says:

      I was reading this list without looking at the name of the poster and pretty quickly figured out the family even before I got to the “Jeremy” part. I think the caramel sauce was the kicker. It IS good!

      Unrelated: “Cool it Now” now playing in my cab to Indianapolis airport.

  6. Julie says:

    Supposed to open one in KCMO soon. I look forward to the bananas!

  7. Kim says:

    Have you ever met Ann Curry? She is an amazing woman! I challenge you to get to know her and watch her more. Follow her on twitter! I met her twice and she is the most serious, yet down to earth person who showed genuine interest in each person she spoke to! This was at the Plaza outside at a taping of the Today Show in NYC in Sept 09. I then “ran into her” at the Dulles airport when I was coming home from a trip overseas and she was going on an overseas trip! She was just as personable this time, asking me if I was leaving or coming back, she said welcome home and asked me about the weather in Sweden as she was going to Switzerland and they are close! I love Ann Curry and hope you can come to enjoy her too! I know what it is like to lose an anchor you like, I really was a big Katie Couric fan! Good luck!

    • fordeville says:

      Thanks for your comment. No, I’ve never met Ann. And I have no doubt she is lovely. My issue was more about her professional persona — I’ve watched her at that news desk for years and she’s just not for me. The good news is that I can just watch my DVR queue of bad reality TV every morning if I can’t make peace with this change.

  8. Kris (@Letmepeeinpeace) says:

    Have you tried the Trader Joe Inside out carrot cake cookies? You’d better sit down when you do, becuase your knees might buckle. 😉

  9. trader joes is the only place on my permanent immunity from getting cut-off list b/c they once let me take my groceries when i forgot my wallet and told me to come back and pay whenever i got a chance. no rush.

    my fav is their frozen pineapple – serve it to the kids when it’s not quite defrosted and they will eat the entire bag, well at least mine will.

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