An Ode to Costco

Costco, you may annoy the crap out of me at times with your slow moving minivans, hordes of shoppers, and shrieking children, but I just can’t quit you. For me, a small twinge of excitement precedes each Costco trip. This tells me that my love will endure, no matter how many times a tiny yet fiercely determined elderly woman rams my ankle with her cart en route to the pretzel dog sample station.

I definitely have my issues with car culture and rampant consumerism, which obviously makes me a bit conflicted about Costco and its big box ilk. However, as a native Arizonan I learned to drive on AZ’s broad, gridlike streets in AZ’s broad, gridlike, parking lot dominated cities. Parallel parking isn’t really a thing there; I wasn’t even required to parallel park in order to receive my driver’s license. Hence, I cannot deny that I do love me a parking lot. And not some Trader Joe’s parking garage of death bullshit: a good parking lot = wide lanes, wide spaces, two-way traffic allowed everywhere at all times. Costco’s parking lot, though admittedly road rage inducing at times, delivers.

Now that is what I call a parking space

Now that is what I call a parking space

In addition to the parking lot and the obvious shit like paper products and cheap liquor, a brief list of glorious things to be found and experienced at Costco:

Samples: OK this is obvious, but Costco’s sample bounty is amazing and I have to call it out. You can easily make a lunch of samples, if you aren’t trying to save room for pizza, fro yo, or the ever-mysterious Chicken Bake offered up for cheap at the Costco Café/Chez Costco/whatever it’s called. Insider tip: the samples are not just around on weekends, when the crowds make me want to shank someone. I was just at Costco on a Tuesday afternoon and there were delicious samples galore.

Socks: The clothing items are usually fairly atrocious but my favorite lounging socks ever are from Costco. I don’t remember what brand they are, but refer to the photo and if you see these, scoop them up by the bushel. Oh so warm and cozy.

Buy these immediately

Buy these immediately

Healthy food items: Of course there are fatty treats galore, like the horrifying frozen cheeseburgers my mom used to ply me and my sister with, but there are good deals on healthier, less processed stuff too. I always look for Amy’s and other organic frozen meal options, an organic frozen berry blend that I put in smoothies, Laughing Cow cheese, organic whole-wheat pasta, and organic nut butter.

Kale/quinoa/almond. So trendy! Processed but the ingredients are minimal and non chemical.

Organic, kale/quinoa/almond. So trendy! Processed but no weird chemicals.

Walla Walla ing

Oh how I love a weekend visit to Walla Walla. I was there recently for the nuptial celebration of some close friends and good times were had by all. Below are my recommendations for a truly delightful weekend in the Wallas.

Lodging

If you are going with friends, there are a bounty of nice but affordable house rental options available on VRBO. Get something within walking distance of downtown. Otherwise, the best hotel in town would be the Marcus Whitman, or there should be some inns/B&Bs that are probably worth seeking out (like the Inn at Abeja).

Food

Breakfast

Bacon and Eggs

Bacon and Eggs YUM

Bacon and Eggs YUM

Delicious. Trendy (i.e. their website uses the word “locavore” and they serve Stumptown coffee). The menu is huge and they have glorious AM booze options.

Tommy’s

Greasy spoon style diner with cheap, classic breakfast combos and 75 cent cups of coffee (what? Where else is that still a thing?). Definitely a locals’ joint. It’s near the Washington State Penitentiary, yay.

Lunch

I highly recommend that you taco, torta or burrito it up at a taco truck (La Monarca on Rose and 11th is dank) or Taqueria Yungapeti which is brick and mortar with a larger but still taco truck-esque menu and a salsa bar.

I usually go for the Walla Walla tacos or burrito, which come with your choice of meat, sautéed Walla Walla sweet onions and avocado.

Dinner

Brasserie Four downtown is great. Whitehouse Crawford is the schmanciest joint in town and I think the food can be a little overrated but service is top notch and the dining room is beautiful. People also really like Saffron but I haven’t been there.

WINE

What you really came for. There are so many good options that it can get overwhelming, but it’s hard to go wrong. Hire a driver and bring a giant water bottle. Remember that there is no shame in dumping/spitting.

Amavi Cellars

Gorgeous, modern tasting room with a stunning view of the Walla Walla area’s rolling pastoral hilliness. Great wine, too.

El Corazon

Their downtown tasting room is always a good time. They play good tunes.

Downtown Walla Walla

Walk around, taste wine at a few of the 30+ tasting rooms located downtown, check out Hot Poop record store and the various boutiques. Tasting rooms downtown that I like: K Vintners, Maison Bleue, Rotie, Trust.

Gramercy Cellars

This winery was founded by a Master Sommelier, which is super rare and cool and stuff. Amazing wines.

Airport area

This area is industrial and sort of an eyesore but there is a cluster of good wineries here, making it worth a stop if efficiency is your thing. Also there might be tractors around you can drunkenly pose in front of, not that I speak from experience. On this trip we stopped at, and liked, Buty, Tempus, Tamarack, Revelry and Adamant.

Pumpkin Dranks, #basic

Stating the obvious: people are obsessed with pumpkin flavored shit. Have you seen the bounty of pumpkin options at Trader Joe’s as of late? The pumpkin toaster pastries admittedly tempt me but does the world really need pumpkin croutons? PS Condom

I jumped on the bandwagon like the basic-whitegirl-in-denial that I am and crafted a couple pumpkin drink options this week. Both were pretty good. Better than a Starbuck’s PSL which I think taste like soap.

 Pumpkin Coffee Drink* (PSL if you must)

Ingredients:

  • Amount of coffee or espresso of your choice (I used about a cup of coffee)
  • ½-1 cup dairy product of your choice (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • About ½ cup canned pumpkin (you could probably omit this-the spices are what bring the flavor. But I needed to get through the can of pumpkin I opened, YOLO, etc.)
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • Roughly ½ tsp. pumpkin spice OR roughly ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg, small pinch ground cloves (I went this route and I eyeballed these amounts)
  • Optional: sweetener (I used a stevia packet)

Heat the dairy and pumpkin on the stovetop or in the microwave, unless you want an iced drink. Stir in the seasonings to dissolve.

Combine with the coffee/espresso in a blender, or just stir/whisk together.

*Adapted from The Skinny Confidential

Drinks will taste better if consumed thusly. Fact.

Drinks will taste better if consumed thusly. Fact.

Pumpkin Smoothie

I breakfasted on smoothies all summer and am not quite ready to say goodbye yet. This provides a nice transition to oatmeal season.

Blend these together:

  • ½ cup water or dairy (I used almond milk)
  • ½ cup ish canned pumpkin
  • Frozen, or non frozen, banana
  • Generous amount cinnamon
  • Optional: yogurt and/or raw cashews for more creaminess and protein

Bowl a rama

Chipotle has a good thing going on. I am very into the concept of choosing among various items and crafting an edible creation to my specifications/whims. Especially if it’s relatively healthy.

Thus, I have stolen Chipotle’s approach and have been crafting lunch bowls. Basically, you make a few items that go together at the beginning of the week, providing you with a bounty of eatin’ options for the next several days.

This is my next lunch bowl.

This is my next lunch bowl.

Here is the basic equation:

  • A grain (rice, quinoa, pasta, something super trendy like farro, etc.)
  • A protein (meat, tofu, beans, you can even get crazy and do two)
  • Veggies (sautéed, raw, steamed, whatever)
  • Some type of sauce (salsa=Mexican, peanut=Asian, Trader Joe’s has some good pre made curry options, and I love Oh She Glows vegan sauce recipes if you want to be extra crafty)
  • Extras (shredded or crumbled cheese, avocado, olives, nuts, other crunchy things, virgins’ tears)

You can really go in any direction with this but a Mexican iteration is one of my tried and true faves. Here is one I concocted recently:

  • Meat: Trader Joe’s free-range stew beef in the slow cooker with a jar of salsa. Cooked on low ~ 6 hours. Chicken or pork works too, duh.
  • Rice: Made a pot of rice. You could go all out and do a Mexican rice version.
  • Black beans: I used dry and cooked these bitches on the stovetop but if you don’t share my bulk dried foods obsession, canned beans are obviously easier. If using dried, you can cook them in broth and add a bay leaf for extra flavor.
  • Veggies: sautéed green peppers, onion, mushrooms.

When I packed this up, I sprinkled shredded cheese and hot sauce on the top. Boom.

Voila, portable lunch for the week. If you tire of bowls or run out of one component, all of the fixins work well with other food items.

LASERS

It’s TMI thirty, and in other news I just had my crotch zapped with lasers. Good times! I’d been thinking about getting my bikini line lasered for a while. The Kardashians do it so it’s obviously a good idea. I read or saw on some reputable cultural source (e.g. US Weekly or E) that Kourtney K. has like, her entire body done. An amazing Amazon Local offer sealed the deal, and off I went to Kukumber Skin Lounge (it’s that place on 1st Ave in downtown Seattle with the shady giant signs all over the front).

Seems legit!

Seems legit!

Despite these signs/its ridic name, the place wasn’t sketchy inside (though some Yelpers would apparently beg to differ) and the technician seemed competent and knowledgeable, so I didn’t flee the scene. It was a fairly quick process and wasn’t very painful-just quick little pinches, maybe ten tops on either crotchburn (like sideburns… get it? I heart shitty portmanteaus). Today’s was the first of a total of six zapping sessions in which I will be partaking, spaced six weeks apart.

Hopefully that shit worked and my follicles will self destruct post haste. However I got all excited after my appointment and texted my sister who informed me that she attempted ye olde lasering earlier this year and it didn’t work for her. We’ll see. Hopefully she went somewhere even more questionable than Kukumber and/or harbors a special pubes of steel gene I didn’t inherit.

Doing Shit Alone

I had intended write a post, based on my planned attendance of the Glass Animals show at Neumo’s, exploring whether I am now “too old” to attend musical performances on weeknights (spoiler: I was expecting to conclude that yes, I was). Then, both my husband and friend who were going to accompany me to said show had the nerve to get sick and back out. Jerks! Jerks with crappy immune systems. Just kidding guys, I’m totes not mad.

Neumos

Neumo’s. Where I wasn’t last night. Great venue though.

I coulda shoulda woulda have just gone alone, which would have been a first for me (I have yet to attend a movie alone, either). I actually thought about it seriously so maybe that is progress? Then I got tired and decided to remain on my couch reading my husband’s GQ. He never reads them but the articles are actually pretty good, usually. They also just hired Lindy West, which is amazing.

At least I didn’t get desperate enough to advertise the ticket/beg for company on Facebook. That would only end one of two ways: 1. someone horrible offering to go with me. 2. No one offering and me feeling like a loserface.

At any rate, the Glass Animals debut album, Zaba, is one of my favorites of the year so far. Highly recommend.