Nearly as exciting as the High

By Mir
September 2, 2008

Hmmm, let me see. Where did we last leave off? Oh! Right! I said “Tomorrow I can tell you all about what country bumpkins do when they have a child-free day in Atlanta.” And of course by “tomorrow” I meant TODAY, which is technically two days later, but that’s just how it goes.

(Hey, I was still recovering. And time is a fluid concept, dude. Peace.)

ANYWAY, yes, my husband and I had all of Sunday spread out before us to have a Big Day in the Big City and Otto really wanted to go to the High, and I really wanted to go back to sleep for about three days, and so naturally we compromised and went to Ikea and Trader Joe’s, instead.


The thing is, we’d planned to hit all three, originally, you know, before I spent part of Friday night and most of Saturday morning puking up my toenails. Given my weakened state, I chose to pursue the more SELFLESS options, because I really want to see the High, but preferably when I can truly appreciate it. And my going to the High benefits my children not at all, whereas going to Trader Joe’s and stocking up on foods I either cannot find or cannot get as cheaply in our home town is an act of MOTHERING.

[You don’t think it’s an act of mothering? Shopping for hormone-free chicken breasts after I’d just had food poisoning? TRUST ME. Only the maternal instinct could overcome the gag reflex.]

Well, that’s my justification for Trader Joe’s, anyway. I’m not sure why we went to Ikea.

And here’s the thing about Ikea: For someone like me who generally dislikes big crowds, Ikea is an overwhelming place even when I’m feeling perfectly fine. To go there when I’m still tired and shaky and nursing a dehydration headache could result in only one of two things—either I would have to have an anxiety attack due to the lights and noise and crush of people and my delicate, weakened state, or I would have to become positively loopy and find everything EXTRA HILARIOUS!

I opted for the latter. It is more fun to giggle in public than to cry.

We wove our way around the path and I would periodically declare “We need a [insert item here]! Find one!” My organized Ikea shopping list was filled with important things, like a kitchen timer (we never even found those, somehow), fun throw pillows, a shower curtain, possibly a china cabinet, and SOMETHING SWEDISH SOUNDING.

“Oh, Otto!” I would say, grabbing his arm with urgency, light-headed from the effort of plodding along through all of the brightly-colored plastic. “Do you know what we need?” And then without even pausing to let him respond, because I’m just rude that way, I would merrily conclude, “A GORSTJÄFVÖRDINÃ…RGÉN!” And then I would dissolve in snorts and giggles, because I am so very witty.

“Yes, Dear,” Otto would respond, completely unfazed, patting my hand and feeling my forehead. “I think maybe you need to go home.”

“NO!” I protested, waving my hand in the air, “I most emphatically do NOT! Because I don’t yet have a FLUGENGÄRKA! And I NEED one to be HAPPY!” He would then give me a withering look, one that said I really needed to at least ATTEMPT to act my age, and then I would meekly conclude, “But I really DO sort of need an organizer for my desk. Please?”

In the end we had some lightbulbs, a cutting board, a toilet brush, a stack of plastic bowls marked down to a nickel apiece, and one of those ice cube trays that makes tube ice to fit in our water bottles. Worth the trip? I’m not sure, but at least now in the future when I say, “I really want to go to Ikea!” Otto will probably remind me that actually, I don’t like Ikea all that much.

[There was a time in my life when I would’ve spent gobs of money at Ikea and loved everything I got there… but that time was probably grad school. Now that I own real furniture it’s hard to get excited about the prospect of outfitting an entire house with items that come in giant yet flat boxes.]

After Ikea we headed over to Trader Joe’s, and although I actually gagged when I noticed the sushi in one of their refrigerator cases (I’m sorry, TJ’s! It’s not you, it’s me!), we were able to fill the cooler in our trunk (and later, our freezer) as planned.

It is a testament to the magic that is Trader Joe’s that I was still able to go food shopping so close to having been poisoned. I mean, I walked in there knowing what I wanted to get (hormone free chicken! eggplant cutlets! wild-caught salmon!), but I was not exactly EXCITED about it, is my point. It’s been a looooong time since I had a local Trader Joe’s, and I’d forgotten how wondrous it is.

Of course, I’d also forgotten that some of them carry alcohol. And we walked in and beheld a wall of wine and I said “OH! WE CAN GET WINE!” and was all excited… until I remembered that it was Sunday, and I live in Georgia. Here in Georgia, the baby Jesus cries if you purchase the devilwater on a Sunday, you know. So there was no cheap wine for us. But it reminded me that I was happy to be there, anyway.

So by the time I came across the shelf of Trader Joe’s brand light coconut milk, I was positively SWOONING. In case I haven’t mentioned it a dozen times already, my family has two favorite meals now thanks to my friends inside the computer: Chris’ chicken curry with sweet potatoes and coconut rice, and Stephanie’s coconut beef (which I stretch with the addition of green peppers and yellow squash added a few hours before it’s done cooking). Both of these recipes call for coconut milk. My local supermarket doesn’t carry light coconut milk, and in case you’re not aware, coconut milk is THE NECTAR OF THE GODS when used in cooking—velvety, rich, delicious—but also so totally bad for you that it helps to have a couple of extremely skinny children so that you can justify adding it to your food. Ahem.

So. Given that I cannot buy light coconut milk locally, AND that the full-fat stuff costs a full 50% more at my local store than TJ’s was charging for the healthier stuff, it was perfectly logical for me to buy every can they had on the shelf. Right? Right.

We’d filled our cart in no time at all, and then with the cold items safely packed into the cooler, headed home with supplies to last us for quite a while. That night I slept about 11 hours, no doubt due to the excitement of it all.

I’m sure that the High would’ve been great, too, but do they have organic cheese poofs or gorstjäfvördinÃ¥rgéns there? I don’t think so.


  1. Megan

    I like the idea of IKEA which is a really, really bad thing. Because then I think about all the Swedishness and the inexpensiveness and the clever design and that and I start hearing this high pitched buzz in my ears which is the IKEA loving part of my brain trying to drown out the are-you-utterly-insane shouting part of my brain. So I end up walking happily through the show-room section, getting to the large-bins-of-items section and feeling a little grim, finding halfway through that if that enormous woman who simply cannot decide between the pink on and the blue one (of WHATEVER) and continues to stand in my way I will run her down with my oversized cart and possible smother her with my IKEA shopping bag.

    Fortunately there is no IKEA near me so the indecisive shoppers of the world are safe.

  2. Megan

    Hmmm… gee… proof-reading would be good. Honest, it sounded intelligible when I was typing it stream of consciousness. I promise. Blame it on the remembered smell of cut-rate Swedish meatballs.

  3. tuney

    “…the baby Jesus cries if you purchase the devilwater on a Sunday” OMG, Mir. I just can’t keep up with you. That made me laugh so freakin’ hard, light coconut milk came out of my nose. OK, maybe that was the allergies, but still, it was darned funny.

    The only time I was coerced into sushi I felt like I was doing un-family-friendly things to it, the bites were so big. I just can’t. And the fear of your experience is enough for me to justify staying AWAY. FROM. THE. FISH. Thanks – now I have a direction to point instead of trying to explain my aversion! I’ll just send people to you for the explanation!

  4. sillyme

    plus, they have hot dogs for $.50 each. wheeee! Ikea is a great way to spend an afternoon. (and organize the basement!) just don’t go on a weekend.

  5. Ani

    Interesting. On this end, we big pink puffy heart Ikea, but Trader Joe’s leaves us quite cold.

    But sushi? Sushi rocks. Sorry to hear it didn’t agree with you.

  6. Stephanie Chance

    I love the High! My husband took me to see the first part of the Louvre exhibit. Thanks for reminding me. We just had to cancel our New Orleans insectarium and aquarium visit due to Gustav, so maybe we will wait until the fall and go see the terra cotta army. And revisit the Atlanta aquarium.

  7. Foodie

    They do sell light coconut milk at The Store with the Golden Aisles (aka Earth Fare). :) At least, I bought some there a month or two ago. I’ll be doing a little crock-pot experimentation this week and shall report back!

  8. jennielynn

    I kid you not, when we enter the doors of Ikea all taste and sense flies right out of my head. I can resist the furniture but that damned Marketplace bankrupts me every time! Curse you, gorstjäfvördinÃ¥rgéns! (Which, interestingly enough, means “beetle-assed American” in Swedish.)

  9. Aimee

    Wow — talk about random! You went to Ikea and found something that sounded Swedish? What are the odds? ;)

  10. Chuck

    I have an Ikea where I live but I’ve only been there a couple of times. After wandering the entire store last time, I found the dresser I wanted in the “returns” section, already put together, and cheaper than The Box. True, it was a challenge getting it in and out of my car, but much easier than trying to assemble it. Trader Joe’s, I do miss. I sometimes hit the one in my mother’s city when I go for a visit. You’d think they’d have expanded to Texas by now.

  11. MomCat

    The High says that it has a “Farsh-E Irani,” which I’d sure like to see.

  12. el-e-e

    Oh, awesome. I have been wanting that curry recipe and couldn’t (wouldn’t) dig up the link.

    I never would have guessed you’d been poisoned Saturday!

    Positive mental attitude is required for IKEA on a weekend. You were brave.

  13. Em

    I imaginge you could use that cocnut milk for pina coladas too? Am I right? I don’t think the baby Jesus would cry over a pina colada. They’re fruity!

    I’m afraid of Ikea. They opened a store in the state a few years back and they talked about the traffic in terms of miles. We got the catalog last week and after pages of homegoods and furniture, the last page said “We have meatballs too!” I don’t know. Something about that is just weird.

  14. WaywardGoddess

    Georgia is just weird. You can go out to dinner on Sunday and drink to your heart’s content. But you cant go to the store and buy it and bring it home to drink.

  15. Sharon

    My whole family loves Trader Joe’s, but we don’t yet have one in Maine. Everyone in my family but me loves IKEA. I haven’t been, but the description alone overwhelms me. If I ever get food poisoning when I am out of town and near an IKEA, maybe I will give it a whirl. I don’t need any plastic containers or furniture in-a-box, but I hear the cafeteria is fabulous.

  16. crockpot lady

    woah. did you make it with the light coconut milk? And it was good? I’ve been steering clear from the light version because the full-of-fat tastes so good…
    but I have 2 cans of TJ’s light in the cabinet.
    gonna have to experiment now.

  17. Jenni

    When I was in college, my friends and I would go to IKEA as a fun way to spend an Friday evening. Of course we were playing hide-and-seek in the showroom. Which really is the best way to experience IKEA. Then we would venture across the parking lot to Coldstone Creamery. Yummmmmmm….

  18. Astrogirl426

    I have a couple of confessions. First, I do like Ikea’s – not the furniture, because yeh, the whole flat box thing (Convenient! Easy to transport! Woo!) I am so over. But i do love the Marketplace, especially the kitchen section. We got one of those stainless steel wall racks that you can add all sorts of things to, like plate racks and utensil holders and spice racks. And their kid stuff is kinda cool – we got Bunker Monkey one of those egg chairs, and the sit-and-spin, and he loves both. They also have neat stuff for outdoor entertaining. And we never miss the scratch-and-dent area.

    Second, I’ve never been to a TJ. We actually don’t have one near here. The closest is down in NYC or over in Boston. But next time we’re in NYC, we’re planning on checking it out.

  19. kate

    Just a warning (in case you read these comments!): Coconut milk (not sure if it was light or regular) does not last beyond a year for me… it seperates and gets crazy funky, even when kept in a relatively cool pantry environment. So maybe it’s not the best thing to stock up on? But now that you have, it’s a great excuse to try new Thai or other recipes! Use it up! : )

  20. Jenny

    I still don’t think I’ve gotten over the PTSD of my last trip to the Atlanta Ikea, and that was two years ago.

  21. Vicki

    LMAO. You sound like me when I’m sick. I’m either grouchy or deliriously happy…if I’m delirious though you better get me to an ER because I’m REALLY sick. I would not have been able to venture into IKEA after food poisoning. I barely have the stomach for it when I haven’t been barfing…

  22. Tootsie Farklepants

    I love the marketplace in IKEA so much I’ve debated just moving in.

    Also, am jealous that your family will eat something with coconut milk, sweet potatoes, and curry all in one meal. I think my husband would file for divorce if I prepared that. Never mind that it would be DELICIOUS! Um, the meal not the divorce.

  23. Kimmer

    I have never been so aware as to even consider to take a cooler with me to the grocery store. F’N brilliant.

    That’s all I have to say about that.

  24. Mia

    My computer sits atop a FLÄRK. No kidding.

  25. Jess

    I, too, have made up the Ikea-esque names. It really is fun. ;)

  26. Kati

    And because there never seems to be an appropriate moment to bring this up, I’ll just do it now. I was surfing Etsy, saw this, and immediately thought of you:

    Just like a tattoo proclaiming your undying love for bacon! Only less permanent…and not so painful.

    Can you tell that I really, really don’t want to do my biochem homework?

  27. D

    Hey, does Georgia have “blue laws” – where you cannot buy certain things on Sunday? NJ used to have them [or still might]. Or does it just pertain to booze?

  28. Jen

    Oh I love Ikea!! They actually used to sell a coat stand called RIGG, like me! It gave more weight to the assertion that I am actually of Viking stock – because my 5ft 4in stature and dark hair don’t usually convince people, surprisingly enough :D

  29. Natasha

    Okay, so I’m late getting to this thread, but I HAVE to tell you to visit the Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market in Decatur with your trusty cooler.

    I shop there AND at TJ’s and YDFM is cheaper on the same stuff 87% (approximately) of the time. Plus the people watching is WAY better and the organic produce is insanely cheap! Obviously I still hit TJ’s regularly due to my addiction to their frozen veggie samosas, but YDFM is the best!

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