Sunday, August 31, 2014

Grocery Shopping

DISCLAIMER: This post is very pro-Costco. If you do not like Costco, you may want to stop reading. But like, who doesn't love Costco?
These ladies love Costco.
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This nice lady wants to give you a free snack at Costco!
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Even American heartthrob, Joe Biden, loves Costco!
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Also, this is pretty cool.
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Actually, if you do not like or love Costco, please leave this post. What are you doing? How could you not love this treasure of the Earth? Yes, it is the essence of consumerism which may not be the best, but it is also the essence of America and saving money and samples and glorious, perfectly steamed, drops of heaven hot dogs.
*angels sing*
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Let's pour one out for Costco hot dogs! And by "one" I mean the practically free soft drink you get when you purchase a Costco hot dog because the whole transaction will only put you out ONE DOLLAR AND FIFTY CENTS. I'm sorry. That is just the definition of magic to me. Their pizza ain't bad either. And don't even get me started on those very berry sundaes! Geez, Louise.
Very berry sundaes so good, they got me lookin' at 'em sideways.
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From the disclaimer above, you can probably already tell where my stance is on grocery shopping while living on my own in San Francisco without a car vs. grocery shopping while living with Grandma and Grandpa. If you can't tell, let's just say shopping with Grandma is always the best shopping experience. How is every single time "the best" you ask? Can't only one time really be "the best" you ask? You obviously don't have Grandma as your grandma. Unless you are my sister, parents (HI MOM AND DAD. THANKS FOR READING.), aunts, uncles, or any of my cousins that have had the pleasure of shopping with Grandma, then y'all's don't know. Shopping with Grandma is the best.

Grandma loves to shop. It doesn't matter if it's clothes, food, school supplies, or even garage sales. When my sister and I were little we used to go "garage sailing" with Grandma and Grandpa. Many Saturday mornings were spent driving around their old neighborhood and hopping in and out of their old white Toyota van. Grandma (who is sitting next to me as I type this) just reminded me that when people used to ask my sister where she got her clothes she would answer, "La Garage." I'm sure my sister didn't come up with that herself.

Grocery shopping as a student with no car in San Francisco is no easy feat. First of all, there is really no such thing as shopping on a whim because reusable bags are a must. Unless I was using a big enough purse or bag to bring them, it was hard to bring them to school or work with me in order to shop on the way home. Even so, I would usually forget to grab a few on the way out the door in the morning. I really like using reusable bags because yay Earth, but I'm also a broke college student and would rather stuff everything into my backpack or carry things in my arms than pay 10¢ for a paper bag. Second, I could only buy as much as I could carry onto a bus. I also had to figure out how much space I was willing to take up and how many people I was willing to piss off on the bus, especially during high commute hours.

Grocery shopping with Grandma is easier and more efficient. First, Grandma has a car so we can get to the store faster and easier than taking the bus. Second, I can buy as much as I need without worrying about not having enough bags with me or not being able to carry everything. Third, since we can drive a car that has more room to transport stuff, we can also drive to numerous places and get more done in a shorter amount of time. No more riding the bus home to drop stuff off before being able to go out and run more errands. Yay efficiency! The fourth and most important reason why shopping with Grandma is the best is we can drive to Costco! Even if I went to Costco via public transportation in San Francisco, I would hardly be able to carry more than one purchase with me on the bus with the size of the products sold there. Costco also allows me to save money which is one of my favorite things to do. Costco is also the best for everything ever. You can get samples (which are basically free snacks), buy cheap groceries, fill up the gas in your car for cheap, take home a hot rotisserie chicken, get your tires changed, and eat a variety of delicious foods for a fraction of the price you would pay anywhere else. I should seriously be sponsored by Costco because I love them so much.

So essentially, I love Costco and shopping with Grandma.

Flea Markets

You never know what you will find at a flea market. One-of-a-kind clothing, antique furniture, trendy plants, sweet treats, pooches, and more! There's something for everyone.

Last year, I went to the Treasure Island Flea Market with one of my roommates. Treasure Island Flea happens the last weekend of every month from 10am to 4pm and is the largest monthly gathering of artists, collectors, designers, crafters, and food trucks in Northern California.
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Food trucks!
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The average attendance is 15,000. My roommate and I were there to window shop and maybe purchase a cake stand or two; she's a collector and avid baker. We walked around for a few hours, ate yummy garlic noodles from the food truck An the Go, and I even bought a hat.
Me being excited about my hat purchase.
(via my instagram: marnofosho)
Overall, it was a pretty relaxing experience. However, I learned this weekend that attending a flea market is very different than working at one.

Yesterday (Saturday, August 30, 2014) was the Vallejo Yacht Club Ida Tyler 24th Annual Flea Market from 9am to 3pm.
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The market takes up half of the yacht club parking lot. Members and non-members of the club are welcome to purchase spots to sell goods. It's pretty tame compared to Treasure Island Flea. Grandma and Grandpa are members of the yacht club so, Grandma bought a spot to sell stuff this year. She has been preparing all week from sorting through clothes, cookware, figurines, and other miscellaneous goods in her house (she's a low-key hoarder) to baking batch after batch of her famous brownies. She even repotted some of her plants to sell.
Grandma has the greenest thumb I've ever seen. Her condo is surrounded by succulents, cacti, vegetables, and flowers. Almost every homemade meal at Grandma's will include something she grew, an onion at the very least. Most of the plants in my parents' backyard were grown from the stems and seedlings of Grandma's plants. Every time I try to grow something, it usually starts dying before I even get to see more than a leaf grow. Despite my black thumb, I was inspired after seeing all of the terrariums at Treasure Island Flea last year.
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I tried making one of my own. I planted three little plants in a mini fish bowl. I was pretty proud, but it didn't last very long before one of the plants in it turned completely brown, shriveled up, and died. Next time, I'll remember to just give the poor thing to Grandma so it stands the chance of surviving.
My lil terrarium friend before it died.
(image via my instagram)
Friday night, my mom and I helped Grandma load everything onto the bed of Grandpa's truck for the next morning. A lot of walking back and forth and walking into people and walls. Also, potted plants are surprisingly really heavy. Definitely heavier than my sad little terrarium. Sure, the plants themselves are light, but then you have to factor in the pounds of dirt there are at the bottom of the pots. Then the dampness of the dirt because of course they were freshly watered. Basically, my workout for the week was complete. There were so many plants that they didn't all fit in the bed of the truck! We left the truck overnight at the yacht club and then loaded up Grandma's car with the rest of the stuff to take over in the morning.

I don't know how early people usually arrive at Treasure Island Flea, or any other flea market for that matter, but dang! People are really serious about beating the crowd and the heat in Vallejo. People walked up as early as 5:30 in the morning. Now, I don't know this first hand because I slept in a little, but by the time I got over to help at 9:30, half of the plants were already gone! I think this was due in large part to most of them being succulents. Succulents are very "in" right now, if you didn't know. Grandma is super #trendy.
Some of the few plants left when I got there.
(image via my instagram)
Being the trendy lady Grandma is, it wasn't very hard work getting people to buy her stuff, but trying to keep up was another story. People were loving the plants, they were hearing about the brownies and putting them on hold, and old people looove figurines. Between the plants and the brownies and the occasional sale of all of the other stuff, I was working up a sweat. It probably also didn't help that it was 87 degrees out. I was a five foot two ball of sweaty sweat.

Around eleven, my mom and I left to get smoothies to cool down. By the time we got back, all of the brownies were gone. No exaggeration. Not even a crumb was left. All I was thinking was good thing Grandma thought to save a plate for me at home.
Me, hiding in Grandpa's truck with my smoothie.
(image via my twitter: marnofosho)
One thing that flea markets have in common: dogs. Dogs everywhere. Unfortunately, I am allergic to almost all cute fluffy creatures, but boy, do I love watching them do their thing. Flea markets are always a great place to do this. Treasure Island Flea had dogs running all around on the grass. People even brought frisbees and toys for their dogs to play with. The Vallejo Yacht Club Flea Market had much calmer dogs on leashes. Dog stalking 101: Know where to go. Old people love flea markets and usually own dogs, so places with old people (AKA flea markets) almost always have a few cute pooches walking around.

Here is a series of photographic proof that old people love dogs:
Puppy love.
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A whole family!
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Therapy dogs are THE best.
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At three in the afternoon, the vendors started packing up. Many of them donated their unsold goods to charity. The Vallejo Yacht Club Flea Market was a success. Grandma sold almost all of her stuff and made over $400. I made twenty bucks and got a free smoothie. Pretty different from my trip to Treasure Island Flea where I spent $30 on a hat and about $10 on food. So far, living with Grandma has saved me a lot of money compared to living on my own. Sometimes I even make money just by helping out!

Next on the to-do flea market list: Take Grandma, Grandpa, Taco, Pancho, and some dog toys to Treasure Island Flea.

Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunch in San Francisco is a weekly affair frequented by housewives, gays, bros, hipsters, sorority sisters, and any other niche of people you might find in the little 7x7 city.
Good morning, Karl.
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People wait in line blocks away from restaurants (à la Portlandia Season 2 Episode 10, "Brunch Village")
Carrie and Fred from Portlandia... might as well be a pic of me and my friends.
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for bottomless mimosas, alcoholic milkshakes, Indian buffets, fried duck eggs, fried chicken and waffles, pecan French toast... The possibilities are as endless as the cultures that inhabit the Bay Area. Sunday Brunch is thoroughly planned, scheduled, and counted down. It's more of a cultural and social gathering rather than just any ol' meal. It's also an excuse to day drink and get drunk before noon.

Just one year ago I was one of those San Franciscans. My roommates and I woke up at eight to shower, fix our hair, do our makeup, and dress cute but not like we were trying too hard. Outfit checks definitely occurred and were definitely necessary.
*angels sing*
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An hour and a half later, we took a 30 minute bus ride down to the Marina district to hangrily stand in line for 20 minutes with a hoard of other hangry people until we finally sat down at the back patio of the Tipsy Pig.
So casual. So cool.
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We immediately ordered three Strawberry Fields (Russian standard vodka, fresh strawberries, simple syrup, soda water, and fresh lime - you can bet we recreated those at home for cheap) and "just an orange juice" for me. I was still only twenty then. Life is really tough sometimes.
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Nevertheless, that San Francisco Brunch was probably the greatest morning to early afternoon of my life. I think I ordered some kind of breakfast sandwich and some tater tots. Oh, yes. There were definitely tater tots. I remember those tots.

One year later, living with my grandparents in Vallejo, Sunday brunch is a little bit different.

First of all, the "b" in brunch does not have the honor of being capitalized. It's not that my meal this morning wasn't a great brunch, it just wasn't a "San Francisco Brunch." Much like overpriced handbags, the label is everything, y'all. Hoards of people were not lined up outside of Grandma's kitchen to grab a plate. Although, people have been known to go crazy over her brownies and beef jerky. I'm one of those people. Luckily, I get first dibs as her (favorite) granddaughter. Number one out of nine grandchildren, twelve if you count her great-grandchildren. It gets lonely up here, but I've got much sought-after snacks for company.

Second, rather than waking up to shower and get dressed, I walked downstairs dressed in an oversized, stained Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book T-shirt (that I got for free at Toys R Us of all places), gym shorts, and bare feet. I definitely did not look like I was trying too hard for this brunch. There were no outfit checks other than checking in the mirror for sleepy eye boogers and dried saliva on my face. Grandma was in a muumuu and Grandpa was dressed to head over to the yacht club to hang out on his sailboat. Oh, glorious retirement life.

Another difference was that there wasn't much of a commute or wait this morning. Grandpa and I just walked over to the dining table when Grandma said breakfast was ready. I really wasn't even that hungry, but Grandma insisted that I "just sit down and at least eat a little bit." The only hangry, waiting creatures were Taco and Pancho (my grandparents' dogs) who stared at us with longing puppy-dog eyes. Grandma gave in and fed them some leftovers.

No mimosas or Strawberry Fields were served today. I grabbed a bottle of Naked Green Machine juice out of the fridge to drink.
Like they say, "Looks weird. Tastes amazing."
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Grandma and Grandpa drank mugs of instant coffee. One mug had questionable amounts of creamer and sugar added. *COUGH COUGH* Grandma.

The fifth and possibly most important difference was the food at this morning's brunch. Grandma cooked Spam, smoked fish, scrambled eggs, fried rice, and a few Eggo waffles for Grandpa.
Oh, did I mention Grandma is Filipino? Everything other than the Eggos are staples of a typical Filipino breakfast. Not very nutritious, but oh, so delicious. Protein is a very important part of a Filipino's diet. Some may argue the most important part. It takes up the most space on the Filipino food pyramid. Next, is rice. EVERYTHING goes with rice. Fish? Pair it with rice. Sausage? Rice goes nice. Soup? Throw some rice into it!

I wouldn't be surprised if I graduate this semester 30 pounds heavier. One of the benefits of having my grandma as my roommate is never-ending homemade food. Mmm... It's going to be a good semester.