Tuesday, November 19, 2019

12 Days of Beauty - A Curated Beauty Collection

First off, did I NEED 12 days of beauty?  I mean, that sounds like a funny question…  YES, I could definitely use some help in the “beauty” department.  But NO, I didn’t need any more random lotions and potions at the moment.  I am temporarily living with family – they made a little basement bedroom for me.  I have 3 suitcases (and a duffle) and I came prepared with soaps, lotions, etc.  I don’t have ROOM for more “beauty”.

But on the other hand…  I am at a sad point in my life, and sometimes when you are sad, there is an urge to splurge!  It’s almost as if, “Sure, I am sad now.  But maybe, just maaaybe, if I spent $20 on a ridiculous beauty countdown calendar, I would be happy!!”.
Awkward still photo taken from video of me (I thought) opening all 12 Days of Beauty.
 But the filming accidentally stopped at day 11...
Alas.  I have opened all 12 days (early, I know!) and I am still sad.  But that is a story for another time.  Because NOW is time to review 12 Days Of Beauty!!

I opened all 12 days at once.  This was difficult for me to do!  I am the kind of person who hates things ending.  Like, hates endings so much that I like to buy another jar of mustard before the first jar ends, so instead of the mustard “ending” it just eases into the new jar!!  My partner and I seriously have a BIG pile of UNOPENED gifts at our house that we have given each other for various holidays over the years.  They are still wrapped, gathering dust, waiting for us to open them.  I am sure some will be old moldy chocolate and pants that are too small.  But hey, that’s how we roll!!

All that is to say – opening all 12 days before the month of December even started was very NOT ME.  But I thought if I was going to sit down and review this calendar I needed to do it while stores would still have it in stock, so you could say I DID IT FOR YOU.  I tried to video opening all of the little doors and seeing the products, but my camera storage filled up before I got to day 12.  Ugh.  So, you will have to imagine what opening the doors looked like. 

The bos.  Drum roll - let's open it!!
But here is the low down of what you will find if you, too, invest in one of these puppies (if you haven’t read my reviews before, the ratings are 0 – 5, with 5 being the highest):

1.      Cranberry Cider Shimmer Body Wash – I am practically a middle-aged woman.  Ok, chances are that technically I am PAST middle age…  So, do I want to shimmer when I am done washing??  I am not so sure…  Maybe this product is like H & M stores – made for someone younger than myself.  But it was in the countdown calendar, so I had to try it, right??  It didn’t leave my skin shimmery as much as a bit SMELLY.  The cider smell overpowered the cranberry.  Honestly, it smelled like one of the body washes at Bath and Body Works that ends up being on the clearance rack on sale after the holidays 2 for $5.00.  Some people might dig this stuff.  I guess it just wasn’t my cup of (shimmery) tea.
Rating:  2.5

2.      Winter Citrus Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream – I was conflicted about this product even before I tried it…  On one hand, I was super stoked because I love the hand lotions in little metal tubes that TJ’s normally gets every holiday season.  I secretly think they are L’Occitane brand with TJ’s labels.  I usually stock up on them at the holidays, keeping some and giving them as gifts, too (see great review of them here: Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream Trio Review   ).  But on the other hand, the name of the scent scared me.  “Winter Citrus”.  What the heck is “Winter Citrus”??  Is it different than, oh, I don’t know, summer citrus??  I feared it might smell like potpourri, a scent I didn’t want on my hands…  But it is not as bad as I feared.  The cream is a great texture and the tube makes it really easy to apply.  And the scent is not too over-powering. 
Rating:  4.5

This is a swell hand cream

3.      All for One One for All Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash – products that profess to be not only shampoo but also conditioner and body wash worry me.  If one bottle can contain all 3 products, then have I been a sucker all of these years for buying them separately??  Not wanting to be found out to be a sucker, I never buy the “all in one” products.  But this one came in the kit, so I of course needed to try it.  It is fine.  I mean, it works, it is soap, right?  But it is still creepy to use it for everything.  It would be good if you were traveling and staying in a hotel that did not gave you free toiletries.  And it would be good for people who don’t like to clutter up their showers with multiple bottles.  But for me, I will stick to shampoo, conditioner, and body wash (packaged separately).
Rating:  3.75

4.      Coconut Body Butter – I like TJ’s body butters.  They are a great consistency – not too thick but not at all runny.  They moisturize well and make your skin feel good.  However, this coconut one smells a bit too sweet for my taste (for my nose actually, I swear I didn’t taste it).  It smells more like COCONUT CREAM PIE than just coconut to me.  The smell wore off after a while, but still, I don’t want to smell like a pie.  Granted, it does not smell barfy like the TJ’s PUMPKIN BODY BUTTER does (reviewed here:  Original Review of Pumpkin Body Butter   ), but it is still not a scent I would buy a whole tub of. 
Rating:  3.75

5.      Warm Vanilla Body Butter – vanilla is not normally my favorite scent.  Does adding “Warm” to it make it smell better?  It turns out it does!!  This body butter is the same lovely cream that goes on so nicely and the scent is not overpowering.  I didn’t smell like a candle when I was wearing it (and that is a good thing).  I would buy a big tub of this one (but I probably won’t need to for about 30 years because I have so many bottles of creams and lotions at the moment). 
Rating:  4.25

6.      Peel-Off Charcoal Face Mask – if you think I am posting a photo of myself wearing this mask, you are w-r-o-n-g.  But of course, I TRIED it.  I like face masks and hadn’t tried a charcoal one before.  It felt weird going on and tightened on my face very quickly.  The package said to leave it on around 20 minutes then peel it off, but after around 5 minutes I started to feel sort of “warm” under it.  Nevertheless, I persisted!  Because – BEAUTY!  When it was time to peel it off I couldn’t find any “finger holds” to start peeling.  It didn’t crack or anything – my face was just covered with it.  I had to work a bit to get it started peeling and then it came off in small-ish chunks.  And let me tell you, that mask was STUCK on my face.  It stung a bit peeling it off.  It was like a cross between a face mask and a Biore nose strip.  I think it may have cleaned out my pores from the peeling and my face felt very clean (even if a bit raw…) after I washed it.  My cheeks were rosy when I was done!  I followed up this mask with some of the Rose Facial Oil.  If you have a little mustache this might be a cheap answer to “waxing” it 😊 .  I only used part of the Charcoal Mask package, but this definitely feels like a product I wouldn’t want to do again very soon.  Also, it is messy.  If you have a white sink you are going to need to clean it after finishing your “beauty routine”.
Rating:  4
A MASK, and a WAXER, all in one!  How convenient!
7.     Enrich Moisturizing Face Lotion – I am pretty fussy about my face lotion.  I like my face lotion to be light but moisturizing, not greasy, and not to have too much scent.  I had never tried this TJ’s Enrich Face Lotion before, but I got the small tube in this calendar and I really liked it! It goes on well and did not leave my face feeling “lotion-y”.  It didn’t make me shiny.  Plus, it has sunscreen (SPF 15)!  As someone who has had skin cancer removed from their face, this is a big PLUS.  This product is a winner! 

Rating:  4.25

Winner winner chicken dinner

8.      Rose Facial Oil – I love this stuff!!!  I have a bottle of it at home and brought a bottle of it with me on this trip, too.  So I was excited to see a teeny tiny bottle of it in this kit.  The word “oil” in the title might scare you off, but I swear it doesn’t make you feel too greasy.  The scent name might scare you, too, if you (like me) associate “rose” scented beauty products with 85 year old women (not that there’s anything wrong with 85 year old women).  But this Rose Facial Oil is lightly scented and smells delightful!!  I like to put this on before bed.  I will keep this cutie patootie bottle of it in my travel kit. 

Rating:  4.75

9.      Brown Sugar Body Scrub – This was nice.  It has a nice scent and is not too abrasive.  My skin felt smooth after using it.  This one gets a thumbs up.
Rating:  4.5

10.  Blueberry and Acai Facial Scrub – Bleck.  This product gets a thumbs down from me.  I think it gave me flashbacks to my junior high school days.  First off, the scent.  It smells like one of those chunky Bonnie Bell Lip Smackers that I had in 1979.  Then the texture.  I used it on my face as instructed and it reminded me of that cheap ass peach pit facial scrub we used to get at K-Mart when I was a teenager.  Do you know the one??  It scraped your face up and felt like there were actual ground up peach pits in there??  No thank you.  I am not sure who this product is aimed it, but it ain’t me. 
Rating:  1.25
Bit and pieces scrape your skin and it leaves you stinking.
No thanks.

11. Pomegranate Moisturizing Lip Balm – This is the BEST product in the box!!  I wish TJ’s sold this sucker on its own, I would stock up.  It is not waxy and goes on smooth.  The pomegranate scent is delicate (what do pomegranates even SMELL like anyway?  I had some pomegranate seeds in yogurt for breakfast today and don’t remember a scent).  Anyway, I don’t like lip products that are too stinky, cuz my lips are right next to my NOSE and I don’t want to smell my lips all day.  So, this one fits the bill.  My only complaint about this product is that I don’t think I can pop into TJ’s at any time and pick up another one when I inevitably wash this one in the pocket of a pair of jeans. 
Rating:  5

Yes please - I would like 5 more of these.

12.  Exfoliating Sugar Cube – this one is WEIRD.  There is nothing written on the packaging.  It just looks like a squishy little pink sugar cube.  When I first opened the tiny calendar door to reveal the last day’s product, I wasn’t sure what I was looking at.  I had to read the back of the box to get an understanding of what it was.  It feels like they opened a big box of individually wrapped Exfoliating Sugar Cubes and plopped one into each calendar.  Honestly, I haven’t tried this one yet.  It looks like it is going to be tricky to open with wet fingers in the tub or shower.  And I am just feeling scrubbed out!  So, I will save this one for a later date and not give it an official rating here (sorry).
Rating:  not rated

Overall impression of the 12 Days of Beauty Curated Collection:  I like that the products are petite.  I will for sure put some of them in my toiletry bag for trips.  They would easily get thru TSA in your carry-on, too.  Three scrubs seemed a bit of overkill for my taste, I would have preferred another lip product instead of one of the scrubs. 

My favorites were the Pomegranate Lip Balm, the Rose Facial Oil, and the Winter Citrus Ultra Moisturizing Hand Cream.  I would buy all of those again.  The worst by far was the Blueberry and Acai Facial Scrub.  That won’t be on my shopping list any time soon.

I am glad I bought this countdown kit.  It is a very fun way to try new products.  I will reuse some of the containers when they are empty because they are sturdy and great sizes.

Would I buy the 12 Days of Beauty again?  Not this year.  12 items were plenty for me.  But I would purchase it again next holiday season!  It was fun to play with.  And it would be a good teacher or co-worker gift. 

Happy Holidays to you all!  And happy shopping at Trader Joe’s! 

Price:  $19.99
Average of 11 ratings:  3.5

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Pumpkin Spice Biocellulose Face Masks

I am feeling down this weekend – my heart hurts and my eyes are tired from crying because we got bad news in our family this week. 

I’ve decided to take a break from crying to think about something FUNNY – Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Biocellulose Facial Masks.  Let me say that again for you, PUMPKIN SPICE FACE MASKS.

If you shop at Trader Joe’s, you know this is the time of year when the shelves there are flooded with pumpkin crap.  There is pumpkin ravioli.  Pumpkin ice cream.  Pumpkin coffee.  Pumpkin everything.  But pumpkin FACE MASKS???  Now that is just a/ step too far, my friends.  Trader Joe’s, you have officially jumped the shark.

So, of course, I bought them!  I picked up 2, thinking I would force my sisters into being guinea pigs and trying them.  Only one of my sisters was too smart to spend the night on the night I was busting them out, which was BAD NEWS for my nephew, cuz he had to fill her spot!  Lucky for me, Trevor is a really good sport.

Trev has a full beard, and I wasn’t sure how well the mask would work on the facial hair, so for HIM I turned it upside down and put the MOUTH hole up on his bald head, then covered his face down to his beard with the mask.

The brave product testers
As the pretend esthetician for the event – my take on these masks was “Ewwww”.  First off, they are STINKY.  Secondly, they are SLIMY.  And thirdly, you have to peel not 1 but 2 pieces of goo off the sides to get to the actual product.  They are messy to put on.  After touching them a lot they made my fingers STINK.  They smelled like a gross over-powering autumn candle that would be an ugly brown color. 

Even before OPENING these they sounded smelly...
Now let’s hear what the product testers had to say!  First up was my nephew Trevor:  “I do not usually use facial products.  I wash my face every day but never put lotion on it.  To be blunt, I didn’t really enjoy the experience of this mask…  When it got put on it smelled like a mix of Bath and Body Works and fake vomit.  And a little bit of spicy pumpkin.”  After I took his mask off and rubbed in any remaining goo (there was not much, most of it seemed to soak in) I asked Trev how it felt.  “It feels fine I guess.  I mean, I don’t have anything to compare it to.  I have never used these products before.  I probably will not be using this again in the future.  I don’t especially like this.  I don’t like the feeling of my face being greasy.  If I am going to use a facial product I would rather it be CLEANSING.  I would not buy this product.  I hate to give it an awful score because maybe it is good at what it is intended to DO, but I am not the target audience.  To be generous, I will give it a .75.”

Tester #1 - not a fan
Soooo, Trevor was not a fan.  Maybe my sister, who actually LIKES beauty products, will like it!!  I didn’t tell her the scent before I put it on.  Let’s see what she thought.

Sherry: “I use face products, but I only use face masks when my sisters are all together.  I did not like the SMELL of this face mask at all.  I thought it smelled like a funeral home.  Like, the overpowering smell of flowers or something trying to disguise a smell.   Once you told me it was Pumpkin Spice scented I could tell – I mean – it was spicy.  But it doesn’t at all smell like pumpkin, just spice.  It smells like a spice cake or something.  I didn’t like the smell of it at all.  And I didn’t like the feel of it on.  And I didn’t like the feel when it got taken off.  I have had other face masks before and this wasn’t that different, but it made me feel SLIMY.  I want to go wash my face and I am afraid I will have zits tomorrow.  I wouldn’t buy it again, unless I was buying it for someone’s Christmas stocking…  (Note:  our family makes funny gag stockings, and now I fear I know what might be in mine…)  I am not a huge fan of masks.  People who buy it are probably people who like pumpkin spice and face masks.  I don’t like this.  I will give this a 2.”

Tester #2, also not going to stock up on this product
There you have it folks.  I as the applier and both testers thought this one was a big F-A-I-L.  If you like pumpkin and you like spice, there are pleeeenty of other things to spend your money on at Trader Joe’s this fall.  Leave this one on the shelf!

Price:  $2.99 (so not worth it)
Score:  1.5

But don't buy it
Here's what to look for

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Creamy Pink Primavera Pasta Sauce

In 2015, I had this crazy idea to write a review of one Trader Joe’s product every.  Single.  Day.  Like, EVERY DAY.  and I did it!  I went to Trader Joe’s stores all across the country and I tried 365 products (actually, more than that, but that is the number I REVIEWED that first year).  It was super fun and I loved doing it.

But it was also really time consuming.  And more than that, it was LIFE CONSUMING.  So much of my focus and energy was put into that project that I didn’t have a lot of “fuel” left for other creative outlets.

And then life happened.  I started a NEW (time consuming) project about Kindness (https://kindnessactivist.blogspot.com/ ).  I travelled.  I enjoyed myself.

And then, as sometimes happens, life got messy.  My sweetheart broke his collarbone.  My sister got diagnosed with brain cancer (glioblastoma (GBM) ),  And in the midst of her treatment, our dad suddenly had a heart attack, and after surgery, surprised everyone by dying in the hospital.

So yeah, life has sort of sucked the last 13 months.

But that doesn’t mean I stopped shopping at Trader Joe’s.  It just means I stopped being anal about reviewing my purchases. 

But now I think it is TIME to review something new!!!  It’s fall, which means the shelves are filling up with new seasonal products.  My Trader Joe’s review blog (insert link) has almost 800,000 views (isn’t that wild??), and it is time to refresh it a bit!  So here we go – let’s talk about this new (to us) product that we had for dinner:  Creamy Pink Primavera Pasta Sauce.

David was skeptical from the get-go
First off, I bought it because it is PRETTY.  That is the same philosophy I apply to wine shopping when I don’t have a specific bottle in mind:  which one has a beautiful or funny label?  Buy that one!  So, I picked this sauce because of its’ very pretty dark pink color.

There is not a lot of PINK food in the world.  Think about it – cotton candy…  Gum balls… 

So yeah, I thought the world needed more PINK FOOD.  My partner David wasn’t so sure from the get-go.  But I figured he could be easily convinced if it was as tasty as I hoped it would be!!

It wasn’t. 

He was right.

This stuff is yucky!!  The label says this sauce has tomato, beet, cauliflower, chickpea, and a touch of citrus.  We served it over TJ’s linguine with a side of TJ’s baby bok choy. 

Starting to look a bit like blood on pasta...
Here is what we thought of it:

David:  I think it is a stretch…  I don’t think…  It doesn’t taste BAD…  But, I mean, for me it’s not a PASTA SAUCE…  I mean, it’s a little citrus-y, which is interesting.  But the rest of it is kinda a hell of a lot of BEET.  So…  Good luck to ya! 
I give it a 2.

Susan:  Pretty – yes.  Tasty – no.  I agree with David.  I don’t know – but the LINGUINE itself tastes better than the sauce that is on it.  It is very BEETY, and I love beets.  I like to eat TJ’s baby beets from the produce section.  I put them on my salads and they are delicious. 

But for some reason, in this format, the beets didn’t work.  Maybe this sauce should be served cold (which David suggested and I poo pooed)?   The sauce eerily has a look of BLOOD on the pasta, which is obviously a bit off putting (but might work well for a Halloween dinner).  In the JAR the color was great, but on the pasta it is not as pretty. 

It doesn't look as PINK here as it does in real life
Maybe shredded cheese on top would help.  I LOVE most of the ingredients in it:  tomatoes, beets, chickpeas.  And I LIKE the other ingredient: cauliflower.  But when they put these things together as a pasta sauce it was a fail.  In fact, it was so much a fail that for the first time in history (that I can remember) David literally RINSED HIS PASTA OFF and tried to “clean it”, then added pesto to cover the yucky remaining Creamy Pink Primavera Sauce.
I will give this a 2.25.

Don't waste your $3.69.  But, as always, if you TRY it and DON'T LIKE IT, don't be afraid to take it back! 
Trader Joe's is awesome about returns!
I assume this is a fall seasonal item.  David (a bit sarcastically but with a bit of sincerity)  says, “Why must we suffer at Trader Joe’s every fall?  Damn "autumn this" and "pumpkin that"…” 

Price:  $3.69
Rating: 2 (I lowered my score to match David’s for the final rating, because let’s face it, he RINSED THE PRODUCT OFF his dinner it was so bad.)

In loving memory of my dad John, who thought many of the things I do with my life are nutty, but was behind me all the way.  He showed me how to enjoy life and I miss him every day.  Love you, Dad.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Popcorn in a Pickle is BACK AGAIN!

GUUUUYS (I mean that generically, as in "huuuumans", not "this one is for the fellas only....):

It is summer time, and you know what that means...


POPCORN IN A PICKLE IS BACK!  Can you tell I am excited???
Yes!!!  It is time for the Trader Joe's snack that sounds utterly disgusting (to me at least) but tastes ammmmazing - popcorn with pickle flavoring!  It sounds gross, but for some reason, it just works!

In the original review of this product, we gave it 4 stars (Original Popcorn in a Pickle Review ).

In the first "It's Baaaack!" reminder review, we also gave it 4 stars ( Last Year's Excited "Popcorn in a Pickle It's BAACK" Review ) .

This year it is the same great popcorn, the same low price, but the number of stars is INCREASING to 4.25!  It is like on "Naked and Afraid" when the people's PSRs go up, and you as a viewer are not quite sure why, but they did, so you just go with the flow...  (What??  You don't watch "Naked and Afraid" on the Discovery channel??  Fear not, it jumped the shark many seasons ago, but that doesn't stop me from tuning in every once in a while and watching people eat ants and make fish baskets that never catch annnnything!) 

Anyway, the point is, Popcorn in a Pickle is back, and you should try it.  It is definitely a LOVE IT or HATE IT kind of product.  I am on the LOVE IT end of the spectrum, but I totally respect you if you get it, try it, and take it back because you can't stand it.  But DO GET IT.  I mean, what have you got to lose?  Trader Joe's will happily give you your money back if you find it yucky.

We lugged our TJ's popcorn, along with a slew of other picnic snacks, through the 105 heat index afternoon to Wolf Trap Theatre in Virginia, where once the sun went down we rocked out to the Bare Naked Ladies.  The only problem was, we ate the other stuff and forgot to open the popcorn...

If I had a million dollars....
So, we hauled it AGAIN with more picnic supplies, on the 4th of July to the Air Force Memorial in Arlington, Virginia.  There we dined on delicious popcorn and watching the fireworks go off in Washington DC.  May I just say, thanks for paying your taxes everyone, the fireworks were beautiful this year! 

If you squint your eyes and look by one of the red squiggles, you will see the Washington
Monument, shrouded in darkness, heat, and fireworks smoke 
Price: still $1.99
Rating: 4.25

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Baked Cheese Crunchies

This bag of TJ's Baked Cheese Crunchies boasts that these snacks have “33% less fat than regular fried cheese flavored corn snacks**”.  It took us a while to hunt around on the packaging to follow the asterisks after that statement to find what they connected to.  I finally found the mouseprint (did you know that is what teeny tiny print is called, isn’t that a fun phrase??) that told us: 
     -one 28 gram serving of TJ’s Baked Cheese Crunchies will set you back 6 grams of fat
     -whereas a 28 gram serving of Regular Fried Cheese Flavored Corn Snacks will ding you 9 grams 
       of fat.

All of that being said, I would posit that if you are worried about eating FAT, perhaps cheese doodles should not be on your shopping list.  There are much tastier "cheat foods" in my opinion!  Also, anyone who thinks that David is going to eat a 28 gram serving of Cheetos, be they “real” Cheetos or this Trader Joe’s version, is mistaken.  No, David is a Cheetos aficionado and once ate so many on a road trip that he barfed.  I think Cheetos are the only food he has ever done that with. 

Snack time
So, I recused myself from reviewing this product, since obviously David is the cheese doodle expert in our family.  I myself only eat Cheetos Puffy “Natural” Cheetos – the white ones.  And don’t lecture me, I knooooow they are not “natural”, ok?  But those are the ones I eat!

Here is what David said about this snack food:

“I will eat crunchy or non-crunchy Cheetos, because the crunch is amusing.  But these are not quite as amusing as a Cheetos brand baked crunchy snack.  These will do.  They have a bit less cheese taste than traditional crunch Cheetos.  Otherwise, they are fine. 

Does this man look excited to eat this snack food?  I think not.
I will go back to my fried puffy Cheetos “Naturals” and not get these again.  When you need a snack, these will do.*  I will give them a 3.5.”

Price:  $1.99
Rating:  3.5

*Editor’s note:  When David said, “When you need a snack these will do,” I pointed out to him that if you really neeeeeded a snack, a fried turd would do.  He stressed that he would give a fried turd a lower score than these TJ’s Baked Cheese Crunchies. 

EDITOR'S IMPORTANT NOTE:  I find this very funny: I just realized, after writing this review, that we have previously reviewed this product.  It is bound to happen, there are probably around 500 reviews in my blog.  But I totally forgot that we rated these way back in September 2015.  I am impressed that they got almost the same score back then, and also impressed that TJ's has not increased the price at all.  I smiled when I read a reader's comment on the original review (that I had forgotten) dissing name brand Cheetos.  Link to original review here:  Baked Cheese Crunchies Original Review

Friday, June 15, 2018

Maria Jola Sangria - NEW PACKAGING!

Guys, summer time is here, and you know what that means...

SUMMMMMMER!!!  Vacation beach jump - Poipou Beach, Kauai, Hawaii 

I just made a trip to Trader Joe's to stock up on sangria (the sunshine was already provided by Mother Nature :) ).  I got a little nervous when I didn't see the brightly colored Maria Jola bottle of yore.... 
This is from LAST YEAR, when I was ever so excited to grab a bottle of sangria!! 
I thought I would find this same bottle on the shelf today, but no luck...
But then I found THIS cutie patootie:

New packaging!! 
The TJ's employee assured me it is the same sangria, just in a newly designed package.  I have to say, I think this is a big improvement over the old bottle!  The dots are FUN, fun, fun and the whole thing just looks, oh, I don't know, classier I guess.  It is still made of plastic so you can easily toss it around for picnics or travel without worrying. 

Our local TJ's did not have the white sangria version today, which was a-ok with me because we think that kind tastes like bathroom cleaner.  And if there is one thing I do NOT want to sip on a warm summer night, it is bathroom cleaner... 

Original review of both the red and white sangrias here:  Maria Jola Red and White Sangrias

I am planning on making a batch of this tonight and sitting out on the front porch for dinner and drinks.  Ahhhh, summer!

Price:  $5.99 (though I am not certain the bottle holds the same amount as the old one)
Rating:  we haven't drunk it yet to be SURE, but if the TJ's person was correct that it is the same product, I will stick with our previous rating of 4.25


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Matcha Joe-Joe's*

Joe-Joe’s* (for the uninitiated) are Trader Joe’s version of Oreos.  Or, if you grew up in my partner David’s household, Trader Joe’s version of Hydrox.  Either way, if you know Oreos or Hydrox, you have a mental image of the cookie I am referring to – cookie wafers hugging a layer of cream (or, in some instances, kreme).  To be honest here, we are not Joe-Joe’s eaters.  They are super popular with TJ’s shoppers, but for some reason they are one item that we never grab off the shelves.

Regardless of our shopping tendencies, Trader Joe’s must sell a ton of Joe-Joe’s, because they make special Joe-Joe flavors all the time.  Pumpkin Joe-Joe's.  Peppermint Joe-Joe's.  Mango Joe-Joe’s.  Joe-Joe’s aficionados fawn over the flavors.  Unfortunately for us, we jumped on board at Matcha Joe-Joe’s.

The box is a pretty color!
I put these cookies in our cart during a massive shopping trip last summer.  At that time TJ’s was going crazy with weird, exotic flavors.  We were getting ready to escape to Florida for a couple of months, where our nearest Trader Joe’s is a 90 minute drive away.  I wanted to stock up and this box of Joe-Joe’s was something that looked a bit “exotic” that I thought we should try.  David, as you can see in the photo, did not really agree…

He hasn't even tried them and already he is cranky.
Anyway, the Joe-Joe’s came with us to Florida.  And never got opened.  So, they came back home to DC with us.  And never got opened…  They lay in wait in the darkened cupboard, sealed and patient.  Every time I saw the box and thought about opening it, something else caught my eye and that got eaten instead.  But we finally decided to bite the bullet and see what Matcha Joe-Joe’s are all about.  I wasn’t going to review them – it sort of didn’t seem fair since they expired November 10, 2017 and we opened them April 13, 2018.  OK, so they were 5 months expired by the time we (honestly, not “we”, HE) were brave enough to taste them.  Also, I thought I wouldn’t post a review because I didn’t think Trader Joe’s sold them anymore.  But when David reported that they were BACK ON THE SHELVES at the store, I figured I better put this word of caution out onto the interwebs 😊 .

The first thing David did when he busted this box of cookies open was to rip apart a Joe-Joe so that all he had was the wafer bits.  “Woah, woah, hold on,” I told him.  “If we are reviewing Matcha Joe-Joe’s, you have to buckle down and eat some of the matcha!”. 

A dissected Joe Joe.
For my part, I just SMELLED these cookies.  I was not interested in actually tasting them.  And smelling was pleeeenty for me – they smelled gross!  The matcha is a pretty color, it looks like WASABI.  Hey, now that I think about it, let me recommend that to TJ’s – WASABI JOE-JOE’S!  Those would definitely fall into the “Go Big Or Go Home” category!  Anyway, I did not taste these cookies so of course I recused myself from reviewing them.

Here is what David thought when he tried the Matcha Joe-Joe’s:  “These are terrible.  The filling is awful.  I don’t like the flavor.  The cookie itself is not as nice as one might hope when one is scraping the matcha goop out of the middle to try to get a nice sugar or shortbread cookie-ness.  Perhaps that is because it has been contaminated by the matcha goop.  I am going to give these cookies a .5, only because they are COOKIES.  But the rest – NO THANKS.”

Our intrepid taster.
Editor’s note:  I asked our reviewer if he felt these cookies might have been tastier if he had tried them before they expired, and he flatly replied, “No.  Not at all.”

David wanted to take these cookies back to the store, but I felt guilty about doing that since they had been in our cupboard so long and were expired.  So, we just ended up throwing them away.

Price tag from 2017 - price may be different this year 
Another editor’s note:  I know some people are going to disagree vehemently with this review.  They are going to be PRO JOE-JOE no matter what sort of goop is between the cookies.  They are going to be matcha fiends who find our uneducated matcha palates are crude and uncultured.  To you – I say – BUY THE MATCHA JOE-JOE’S!!  Trust me, we won’t be fighting you for them 😊

Price:  $2.99 (in 2017, not sure of 2018 price)
Rating:  .5

*Why is “Joe-Joe’s” possessive?  Like, what exactly does this cream filled cookie POSSESS?  This is a strange grammatical wonder.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


Normally, I would not write a review of a blooming plant like this hyacinth until it actually BLOOMED.  I mean, the FLOWERING is the whole point of it, right?

I got mine!  You better hurry, these beauties won't be at Trader Joe's very long...
But the thing is, Trader Joe’s is only going to have these for a limited time, and you need to get one.  So, I decided to go ahead and run this review now, while my hyacinth is still pre-bloom, to give you time to rush out to your local TJ’s and pick one up!

The tag shows us how pretty this bulb will be when the flowers bloom
Here’s the deal – they are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP.  Seriously, you get the bulb and the sweet little glass vase for only $2.99.  That is cheaper than a coffee at Starbucks (or Caribou Coffee if you are boycotting Starbucks right now…).  And when this baby blooms it is going to be loooovely and the smell will be DIVINE!  (Bonus, when you are done with this year’s bloom, you can plant the bulb in your yard!  And you can re-purpose the vase or put another bulb in it and start all over!)

See?  Sweet little glass vase.  You need one.  So does your neighbor.  Hurry up!  Go now.
Please, put down what you are doing right now and just run out to Trader Joe’s.  Get yourself one, and hey, be kind and buy a couple for your neighbors!  Just put them on their front porch so when they get home from work they are delighted, surprised, and confused, as in, “Oh my!  A beautiful hyacinth almost ready to bloom!  How delightful!  And what a surprise!  This wasn’t here when I left for work this morning…  But, color me confused.  I mean, WHO PUT IT HERE??”.  Go for it! 
Price:  a crazy cheap $2.99 
Rating:  5

P.S. - if you DO get one for your neighbor, please comment here and tell me!  I would love to see a bunch of people get surprised by hyacinth!  :)