27 September 2010

another post about grocery shopping

This weekend I was really looking forward to going to Costco and Winco and doing a price comparison on some items I commonly buy (and especially those I sometimes get in bulk from Costco). It was the most exciting weekend activity EVER. (Nerdy, I know.)

Since I know you're all as interested as me, I shall tell you the results. I was somewhat surprised by my findings, perhaps naively so. I really love Winco's bulk foods section and love that you can get however much you want or need of whatever it is you want or need. And I have noted that the prices of the bulk items per pound are cheaper than other places I've seen items sold by weight. I'm less impressed when I compare other areas of the store, though; however, the sales are often pretty good. Most of the items I compared were items you could find in the Winco bulk foods section.

Costco's worthiness was demonstrated in the comparison. (The comparisons are not all fair, I should say. Costco has better quality goods, generally speaking, but I tried to match the products as closely as possible.) Here are the results:





whole wheat spaghetti






egg noodles


2.22/lb (organic)

peanut butter

1.48/lb (non-organic, self-churned)


almond butter






pure maple syrup



semi-sweet chocolate chips



dried cranberries


2.21/lb (name-brand)

honey nut cheerios


.75/lb (organic)

apple sauce



short-grain brown rice


.28/lb (for 25 lb bag)

long-grain white rice








.69/lb (10 lbs)




soy milk











.24/lb (for 25 lb bag)

all purpose flour






brown sugar



olive oil



vegetable oil



canola oil



tomato sauce



tomato paste



diced tomatoes


Some of the results were interesting. For example, although pecans and almonds are cheaper at Costco, walnuts are not. Pecans are significantly cheaper at Costco. Granulated sugar is quite a bit cheaper at Winco, and flour is comparable (I probably will still buy from Winco to avoid dealing with the 25 lb bag, though). I did not realize that canola oil is more expensive than vegetable oil. Brown rice is cheaper at Winco. Peanut butter is too, but almond butter is cheaper at Costco. I compared S&W canned garbanzo beans and black beans as well, and it turned out they were the same at both Costco and Winco: .68/can.

I hope you appreciated the results of my experiment. I guess shopping at Costco does save money after all. Which makes me feel a little better about paying to shop there? Hmm, I didn't factor that into the prices . . .

14 September 2010

vacated houses

(Disclaimer: I'm posting this on my personal blog in order to disassociate Tim from it. He takes no responsibility for the events narrated herein.)

First a little background:

Our current apartment is a basement apartment. When we moved in, the house above was being rented. We didn't get to know our upstairs neighbors a whole lot, partially because they were not letting the apartment. (That is to say: our landlord lives somewhere else.)

Recently, something strange happened, and the events still are shrouded in a cloud of mystery. There seemed to be intimations of an upcoming relocation in the house upstairs. This lasted a few days. (Glimpses of our neighbors with luggage, coming in and out of the house frequently, weekly yard sales, etc.) Then there were no people up there anymore, just things.

Around this same time, someone came by our apartment asking for the landlord's contact information. She said she was a friend of the family who had been renting the house and that there was a "family emergency" (one which demanded a sudden move, apparently), and she said that she needed to let the landlord know that they had moved out.

Being curious, we walked through the house. You would, too, wouldn't you? (Our tour was facilitated by a door in the basement that is broken and won't latch, let alone lock.) The house was a complete mess. I felt like we were walking through a house that had been vacated due to some sort of apocalyptic event that no one told us was happening. (Should we pick up and run, too? Were we in danger?) You know, take what you can carry and then leave the rest, and also maybe trash the rest of it, too, just for fun? There was spray paint in some areas of the house. Half-eaten cream pie was rotting in the kitchen, the garbage overflowing. It looked like the floors hadn't been cleaned in years. Ripped-out pages of a questionable magazine was lying about in one of the bedrooms. In another bedroom, marker writing appeared all over the walls.

The scariest thing, though, was this, which you see just as you open the broken door to enter the house:

What kind of sadistic decorations are these? SO CREEPY. (Or am I the creepy one? I'll let you be the judge.)

But there is a bright side to all of this. The landlord came with his family and extended family, prepared with a trailer and hundreds of large black garbage sacks, to remove most of the remaining junk. But not before I could score a decent vacuum off of our dear neighbors! This is actually the second time we scored off them, because a few weeks before, we'd bought a kitchen table set for $50 from them at a yard sale—no matter that we can't actually fit it in our apartment. (I think they'd want us to enjoy their vacuum. They seemed like nice people.)

Also, now that it's a lot less creepy to go in this vacant house, I've been doing laundry for free there. (Beats going to a laundromat. And no, the landlord doesn't know, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't mind, because he seems like a nice person. And yes, I'm a terrible person. But Tim isn't.)

The end.

NOTE: To the landlord or former renters of the house, if you happen to stumble on this obscure blog, I will relinquish the vacuum upon request.

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