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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A Feast, A Tribute and A Giveaway

Jay over at Halftime Lessons and Deb at Dirty Socks and Pizza are up to their typical blogging antics.  Innovation, creativity, business prowess, networking, community, goodwill, new colorful buttons and banners touting cute lil' names of their blogging games, and hell, I need all the help I can get.  So I'm in for this week's installment of ..... 

Tuesday's Tribute

And since this is MWOB's 3-month anniversary in existence, this tribute's got a little pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so hang tight with me peeps.

As all good tributes begin, let's start with talking about me.  Yeah, me.  I know, I know, it's not all about me - I'm not stupid - but how can a blogger survive for even one post if not somehow inserting ME into the equation?

I'm gonna let you all in on a deep dark insecurity of mine.  I'm not a good cook. Yeah, that's right, I suck it hard in the kitchen.   My feelings of lameness have gotten way worse since becoming a mama.  I'm supposed to nurture and provide and nourish.  I can fake it with whipping up a standard yummy breakfast of eggs, homemade hash browns and bacon, or throw together a yummy turkey sandwich for lunch to fool myself that I'm doing okay, but when dinner rolls around? Let's just say thank God I married a hot dude who loves me even when I'm serving him up a PB & J for dinner along with the kids. 

And to make matters worse, I have knowledge that other mamas out there are preparing sauteed shrimp, asparagus and risotto for their 1st grade children for LUNCH!  Oh you know, I'm talking about you Julia, and one of the reasons I'm scared to meet you on Friday (another story for another post but I'm headed towards my first blind date with a fellow blogger.) 

I desperately want to improve in the kitchen but I first have to conquer other problems I have like not showering or getting out of my pj's before noon and finishing the laundry before it starts overflowing into the hallway.  

So while I'm working on a multitude of other deficiencies, I head over to the one place that can make a MWOB like me feel like a queen in the kitchen....Trader Joe's.  

Yes, for those of you who know about Trader Joe's, are you with me?  And if you don't have a Trader Joe's near you and you're like me, well then let's just say, you're screwed.

Trader Joe's is like heaven on earth for a mama like me.  Not only can I walk out of there with a little bit of self-worth restored, I can also actually make it through a shopping trip with my kids without turning into one of those moms you see in grocery stores screaming through clenched teeth and squeezing their kids' arms hard.  (Not like I've ever done that, mind you.)

TJ's makes it so easy.  With a bare fridge and no ideas as usual for dinner, I headed over on a hectic Monday afternoon to my local TJ's for some inspiration. The trip was nothing short of, magical.  

Upon entering, we're greeted with this brilliant idea:

Search for Molly the Monkey, a stuffed animal hidden somewhere in the store, and once you find her, get a prize!  Holy moley, The Love Fairy goes ape-shit over that challenge.


After locating Molly in the freezer section which took 15 minutes, we redeem our reward - two suckers to keep kids occupied for another 10 minutes.  Oh yeah, and we grab two balloons which can enthrall El Destructo for days on end.   Not sure why. Maybe I should be concerned.

Another bonus:  Bathroom is not like other LA grocery stores where the scene is so nasty, but instead I'm able to get decorating ideas for my own bathroom.

The dude at check-out is so friendly, I think I'm living in the midwest for a moment.  We chat, we laugh, we exchange phone numbers and he's now my new BFF.  (just kidding)  He lets The Love Fairy snap some photos of his mad checkout skills and we're on our way.

And not only are we on our way, I am armed with some mealtime ammunition.  I picked up some old faves like Citrus-Glazed Chicken with Rice and Toasted Cashews, a stir-fry extravanganza, and some new ones to try out like Marinated Tilapia Fillets Topped with Grilled Asparagus and Sliced Carrots.  (If that doesn't sound like I know what the eff I'm doing in the kitchen, I don't know what will.)

So last night when the dude got home at his usual "too-late-for-a-normal-dinnertime" time, I confidently threw together a meal fit for a king, in like five minutes.  Yep, FIVE.

That's Chicken Sausage Polenta Lasagna, a spring salad mix with cranberries, pecans, and gorgonzola, and a rustic panini roll.  And you know what?  It was damn yummy.

So this tribute is for you Trader Joe's.  For knowing there are overtired, overworked, underachieving, inadequate cooks out there in mama-ville who just need a little love to get through the day. And you know how to dish out the love I need, Trader Joe's, so thanks.  From the bottom of my hungry heart.

And MWOB readers?  This tribute must end with a tribute to YOU! For three months now, there have been enough of you out there wacky enough to read this drivel to sustain this creative endeavor and for that I also say a sincere thanks.

So today, on MWOB's anniversary, I am offering up a $20 Gift Card to Trader Joe's for one lucky MWOBBER. And if you live in a place where there is no Trader Joe's, we'll figure something out for you if you win. 

All you have to do is comment below. 
And peeps, I know there are so many more of you out there reading who don't comment, so no worries if you don't have a Google Account or whatever just pick the name option and just leave your name.  It's so easy and so not scary.  Trust me.

And if you want an extra entry into the gift card giveaway, simply go up to my review section, read my current Lunch Box Card review and consider entering for that giveaway too. That is, if you are so inclined. Then come back here and let me know you did that.  By leaving a comment again. Sound complicated?  It does to me.  Just do your best.

This Trader Joe's Gift Card giveaway will end at the end of the blogging day Wednesday, January 14th.  That's how long it will take me to recover from this post.

Rock on people in that comment section!


  1. I'm disqualified three times over....
    1. Even though I act like a mom, I'm not.
    2. I am not without a blog.
    3. And I am a former Trader Joes employee. (Isn't there a no emploee or family member clause in there?) (who quit because they worked me 39.5 hours a week for a year, no benefits. And we started at 4:30am. Still shop there though.)

    Whoever wins must spend it on many bags of their chocolate covered peanut butter filled pretzels...damnit.

  2. Here's my comment. :)

    I do have a Trader Joe's fairly close and I have (gasp!) never been there. I will definitely have to go if I win this gift card and I know I will be hooked. Everyone loves TJ's from what I can tell!

  3. i am very overwhelmed by this post.

    this could very well change my life forever. i am SO with you on the day's evolution from outstanding, healthy breakfast to marginal, how-can-you-even-call-this-a-meal dinner.

    we have a trader joe's, but i have been too scared to go in. will they recognize me as a newbie? will i do something wrong? will the great finds be apparent to me or do i need to seek them out?

    the TJ's is actually over by my son's high school, and i just so happen to have to meet him over there this afternoon. do i dare?

  4. I am in love with Trader Joes. Which in ineresting since I have never actually been to one. My FIL lives in San Fran part time and the in laws got us some super cheap and yummy almond butter and now all I do is daydream about them building one near me.

  5. Oh my....I love Trader Joes. It is without a doubt my favorite grocery store.

    Great TT!

  6. Sadly, no Trader Joe's in the Dallas area.

    I'm pretty sure it's their somewhat subtle, green way of protesting all the gas guzzling trucks and SUVs around here.

    But come on, it's Texas.

    I want to look for Molly the Monkey!! Whah.

  7. Congrats on your three month blogversary!

    Very nice!

    This post was soooo funny. I loved it with a capital LMBO!!!

    As for TJ...yes we have one nearby and no I have not shopped there, because I, too, was worried that I would do it wrong.

    I mean I excel at doing it wrong, ya know?

    Thanks for a great laugh Lee, my favorite MWOB Queen!

  8. Look at the new design. FAAAAANCY!

    Count me out. Canada and all. But dude, I am a crazy good cook (who sends her kids to school with bagels and Chef Boy R Dee, just sayin') and I will give you a few easy recipes that will totally get you laid anytime you want them. :)

  9. don't worry, newbies! trader joe's is so easy & so friendly! try'll love it. you don't need to search for the good's all pretty good!
    this is a good site for the serious TJ lovers:

    i couldn't survive w/o TJs. 2 buck chuck is my 5:00 staple.

  10. There's a Trader Joe's about an hour and a half from me...and I love going there.

    Love to do the mix-a-six know...juice and stuff. ;)

    I will say, though, I do NOT dig their pickles.

    Gotta keep it real.

    And furthermore, the midwest is not all that friendly. Unless I'm around, and then it's fan-freaking-tastic. ;)

  11. I am totally with you on the TJ's fan-bus. I am planning on having the Tilapia with Asparagus & Carrots you mentioned for dinner tonight, even! ;-)

    I used to cook everything from scratch and TJ's has allowed me to waste even more time online than I used to and to ignore my children in more creative ways than behind the stove slaving away at home-made dishes.

    And the kids DO love going there. And it is cheap. I am gushing... but it is TRUE!

  12. Congrats on the aniv.! Love your blogs, love the post. Even though peanut is too lil for school yet, I sure did pick a learning center that serves great homemade lunches for the kids.

  13. ..... and breathe! that sounds like a helluva place! We don't have any here (that I know of) Your kids are adorable. But I can see the orneriness in El Destructo's eyes!

    The meal looks VERY good!

  14. God dammit I read the whole way for NOTHIN. (just yankin' your chain. ) We do NOT have a Trader Joe's, but I love you anyway.

    (Couldn't have been for Olive Garden, could it???? jesus.)

  15. I LOVE the shot of the kids. They are adorable- of course.

  16. Y'know, I think your husband is okay with the PB&J because...

    Naw, I can't put that on your blog. Snort. You may get insulted and then I'd have to apologize all over myself and...well. Annyway.

    I suck it hard in the kitchen too.

    By the way, the Diva LOVES Trader Joe's.

  17. I simply could not live without Trader Joe's. My latest favorite TJ meal: Chicken Chile Lime burgers (frozen)with a slice of cheese and some guac and sweet potato fries (also frozen). Even my 6 yr old who will only eat pasta, Dino chicken or PB&J loves it. And it's frozen so, it's always on hand. For you TJ virgins...YOU SIMPLY MUST GO!!!

  18. Can I just say that I am so glad I discovered you? I truly feel I've found a kindred spirit.

    rock on, Lee.

  19. I'm commenting because I'm just in awe. If you don't know how to cook, how do you do stir fry? THIS is how cooking challenged I am...I would not even know how to stir fry. Sheesh.

    But, I lived really close to TJ's in Chicago, and I loved their chocolate covered orange slices. :)

  20. Cooking = hate.

    Nautical bathroom = love.

    Your blog = awesome!

    Thanks for stopping by mine today!

    :^) Anna

  21. I have always wondered- never been in Trader Joe's- we have them, but not close... now I really want to go!

  22. Hey there! Trader Joe's is the best! They give away free balloons to the kiddos...mine to nuts over it:)

  23. There is a Trader Joes in my city...but not close to me, so I don't frequent it. But I am domestically challenged in the kitchen too, so perhaps it is worth the fifteen minutes to get there (I know fifteen minutes. But there are, like ten grocery stores between me and TJ's). I would be even more inclined if I had a TJ's giftcard...pick me!! =)

  24. OH! And I already visited/posted/entered the lunch card giveaway--those are a cute idea!

  25. Great post, Lee. Trader Joes really IS one-of-a-kind. We love their Korean beef bbq here....a few minutes on the grill for a tasty dish.

    But, most importantly, you gotta love the "2-buck Chuck." That's A BOTTLE OF WINE (and pretty tasty, I might add) for $2.99. Seriously. Heck, for $10 we have enought wine for, er, a couple of days!

  26. I suck it hard in the kitchen
    That seriously had me laughing out loud.

    I have heard great things about TJ's, but never set foot in one... I hope you two will be very happy together.

    by the way, my wife and I seriously suck in the kitchen too...if we had a recipe book, we couldnt kick it down the stairs.

  27. My favorite thing at TJ is Dr. Praeger's Veggie Patties. They are simply superior to anything other veggie patty out there. So Lee, if I win this give away will you save it for me? I am pretty sure that there are no TJs in Beijing!

  28. I wanna enter! I love me some Trader Joes!

  29. 29 Freaking comments!!!! Is this a record? - no now 30 is the record! And gosh darn if there are no TJs here in this desolate salty wintery other world called Utah! Damn! Oh my heck did I just swear?! Cwap! (what my 3 yr old said yesterday, mimicking her mommy) :)

  30. We love Trader Joes! Boo calls it the "monkey store" because they had stuffed monkeys in the banana section for the longest time. We don't have the "find the stuffed animal" game that you do, though. I'm totally suggesting that.

  31. I only go there for the junk food -Jo-Jos, dark chocolate covered pretzels, and peanut butter cups. I guess I should try to venture into the the healthier stuff.

    Once again ... amazed at your blog and/or shopping experience at TJs. All the photos and even one of the bathroom to boot leave me completely in awe!

  32. The kids are so cute!!!!

    So, I have no idea who would be so crazy as to make risotto for a 1st grader ;) but I hear that the TRader Joe's Arborio rice is very good (and much cheaper).

    TJ's is one of my favorite places to shop - even if I am a self-professed foodie.

  33. Alrighty, I entered in the lunchbox card review. I am eager to win the TJ's card.

    oh yeah, and check in at the club tomorrow morning for an award that I am giving you. :)

  34. We don't have a Trader Joe's around here, but it would be awesome if we did. I am about 100% positive I suck it harder in the kitchen than you do. Homemade hashbrowns??? Yeah, I wouldn't even know where to start. I can do a PB&J and sloppy joes, mac and cheese and tacos, but that's about the extent of my culinary skills. Sad, right?


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