Recall: Peaches, Plums, Nectarines & Pluots Recalled Over Possible Listeria

July 23rd, 2014 by Kimberly · No Comments

Wawona Packing, a central California produce company, alerted several stores across the US to a voluntary recall of specific lots of peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots.  The recall was triggered by internal testing that determined there could be possible listeria contamination.  To date no one has become ill from the fruit. After the positive test, the company shut down the contaminated line and sanitized it thoroughly.  They have conducted daily follow up tests which have all been negative for listeria.

The recalled fruit consists of whole peaches (white and yellow), nectarines (white and yellow), plums, and pluots packed between June 1, 2014 through July 12, 2014 with the stores being informed about the recall on Saturday, July 19.  The stores affected by the recall include not only Costco but Fred Meyer, Trader Joe’s, and Sam’s Club.

If you have additional questions regarding the recall, you can call Wawona Packing at 1.888.232.9912, Monday to Friday, 8 am to 11 pm ET, or visit www.wawonapacking.com for a copy of the press release.  The website has a searchable list of product codes that are part of the recall, they have also posted images of all of the recalled products at the various stores.

If you have any produce that you are unsure of, definitely check it against the photos and information on the company’s website before consuming.  If you find out that you have purchased the recalled fruit, DO NOT eat it, return it to the store where you purchased it for a refund.

Listeria can be bad news for anyone that has a compromised immune system, including the very young, the very old, or those that are pregnant, causing serious and sometimes fatal infections.  Pregnant women should be especially cautious as listeria infections can be passed on to the fetus even when the mother shows no symptoms. In utero infections have been known to cause premature delivery and can result in serious health complications for a newborn, miscarriage or stillbirth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A healthy person will usually experience short-term symptoms that include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

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Costco UK Coupon Book: July 21 – August 10, 2014

July 21st, 2014 by Kimberly · 1 Comment

The new Costco UK coupon book starts today, Monday, July 21, and runs through August 10.  This new coupon book has savings of just £650.00 in it, which is a bit more than the last coupon book offered.   There are some nice coupons in this one.  I’m not sure there’s anything all that spectacular, but there are some good coupons for cleaning supplies and things to stock up on, which is always good in my opinion.

Costco UK Coupon Book: July 21 - August 10, 2014

Costco UK Coupon Book: July 21 – August 10, 2014

I’ve uploaded the new Costco UK Coupon Book PDF (or view it in the Google PDF viewer).  If you didn’t get your book or never do, you should stop by Customer Service and make sure that they have all of your mailing information correct and that you have allowed them permission to send you things in the mail.  Also, while you’re there, ask them for a copy of the latest book if they didn’t hand you one when you walked in the store.  In the UK they print the coupons on both sides of the pages and without the codes and they just automatically deduct them after they ring up your items.  I love this method of couponing and I’m glad to see that it seems all Costco locations in the world are following suit.  I do still find it useful to have a copy so I know what to look for because I don’t always notice the signs that they’ve posted to let you know what has a coupon.  Of course, they often hand you a copy of the coupon book when you walk in the store or have them sitting there so you can grab one at you enter. I usually download a copy of the PDF to my phone before I go to the store so that I can easily reference it while shopping.  If you sign up to receive emails from Costco.co.uk, they will send out an email that lets you know that the new coupon book is available online, usually the weekend before the new book starts.  Since they now post the coupons on the Costco UK website, you can always download a copy of the latest coupon book from there; you can also find a link to it on the Warehouses Offers webpage.

I feel good that I refrained from buying toothbrushes last weekend when we were at Costco because I figured they were going to have a coupon for this in one of the next books, and I was right.  There’s a coupon this time for my preferred tooth cleaning duo from Oral-B.  You can get £2.80 off a four pack of 75 ml tubes of Oral-B ProExpert Toothpaste and/or £2.80 off an eight pack of Oral-B Advantage CrissCross Toothbrushes.  I just started using the last two toothbrushes in our previous package, so I’m definitely going to take advantage of this deal.  After the deal is taken into account, the cost is just £8.62 (with VAT), which is just slightly more than £1.00 per toothbrush, which is about half the price that you’d pay at any other retailer.  Last time there was a coupon for the ProExpert toothpaste I bought a couple of them, so I’m set for a while.  But this is a great toothpaste that gives you that fresh from the dentist clean teeth feeling.  With the deal, the four pack costs £6.42 (with VAT) or £1.61 per tube, which is anywhere from £0.10 to £1.00 less than other retailers.  So, you can have super clean teeth and save some money.

While we’re talking health and beauty, there’s a deal for £2.00 off the Kirkland Signature Daily Facial Cleansing Towelettes.  You can get the package of 150 towelettes for £7.18 (with VAT) or £0.05 per towelette.  I think these are great because they get almost all makeup off except for waterproof mascara or really heavy eye liner, plus they don’t require you to rinse your face after cleansing.  And afterward, your face really feels moisturized and never tight.  I think these are great for nights when I’m super tired and just don’t feel like going through the whole face washing hassle but know that I need to take off my makeup.  They’re also really nice for travel since there are restrictions on liquids now, and these pack a lot flatter than two bottles of makeup remover and cleanser.  And anytime we go camping, these are definitely in my supplies since they don’t require you to use water at all.

We buy a lot of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, so I was super thrilled to see the coupon for £3.00 off on those.  These are great for things like stir-fry, which is mostly how we use them.  But we also use them to add to soups, salads, or pasta.  The boneless skinless thing means that you can slice them easily for things like that, plus you’re not getting the extra fat and calories of the skin.  And of course chicken freezes really well too.  If we leave them somewhat frozen, you can slice them really thinly for super quick cooking in stir-fry.

Those are just a few of my favourites in this latest coupon book.  But there are lots of other nice coupons, like the one for £3.00 off a box of mosaic tile, which would be a huge savings if you were re-tiling your kitchen or bathroom.

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This Week at Costco – July 13, 2014

July 19th, 2014 by Kimberly · 4 Comments

I know to any other place in the world our heatwave – supposed to be around 90 F Friday and Saturday – right now in London doesn’t seem that bad.  Well, I might be able to get some sympathy from Scandinavia.  But really, it seems so hot and humid here, in a place where there’s not a whole lot of air conditioning, that is feels just as miserable as temps over 100 F in Austin ever did.  Thankfully we got some hot weather friendly foods and beverages when we were at Costco last weekend.  Sadly though, it looks like it is going to be pretty hot next week too. Ugh!  We might have to take a trip to Iceland to cool off!

Kirkland Signature Organic Lemonade

Kirkland Signature Organic Lemonade

Kirkland Signature Organic Lemonade – This is the perfect thing to write about when it is going to be 90 degrees outside!  I don’t know how long Costco has had the Kirkland Signature lemonade, but this is the first time we’ve ever seen it.  We were kind of on the fence about buying it because the bottles are HUGE and our fridge is very not huge.  But Dave is a big fan of lemonade, so we decided we’d get it, throwing caution to the wind and ignoring the refrigerator space.  Yeah, we’re wild and crazy!  LOL  After we tasted it though, we were so thrilled that we didn’t let the fridge bully us into not getting it.  It is delicious and refreshing!  And chilled in the fridge it is perfect for summer.  It’s all totally organic and there’s nothing chemically in the list of ingredients: filtered water, organic lemon juice from concentrate, organic sugar, and organic lemon flavour.  It is deliciously lemony without too much of a painful tart taste.  It seems to me that they have the perfect blend of lemon and sugar, to get the balance of sweet to tart just right.  I think if it were less sweet it would be verging into the too tart, mouth puckering lemonade side of things.  Dave likes things way more tart than I do but he also thinks that the blend of this lemonade is perfect.  Also, it smells as good as it tastes.  It’s like a little bottle of fresh sunshine because of that great lemon scent.  The bottle was too wide to fit into the compartment on the fridge door, but luckily the bottles are not round so we were able to stand it up on its side on the shelves instead.  It’s really quite good and if they still have it when we go back to Costco in August, we will definitely be picking it up again.   2, 96 fl oz bottles for £5.79.  Item #: 0736083.

Bearfields Prime Gammon Steaks

Bearfields Prime Gammon Steaks

Bearfields Prime Gammon Steaks (aka Ham) – We’ve had this before, and pick it up quite often, even if it isn’t on our list.  This time it was definitely a impulse purchase.  This little package is really nice for our family of two since it is just four ham steaks.  Dave and I both really like ham but it is kind of impractical to make a ham for just the two of us.  To get a decent ham, it seems you have to get a pretty good sized one, and that usually means that we run out of our desire for ham before we actually run out of ham.  Usually, way before, to be honest.  And ham really doesn’t freeze very well.  So, this is the perfect solution for us.  We can enjoy ham without being hammed to death.  To prepare the ham you just put it under the grill/broiler in the oven for about 12 or 15 minutes.  The only other preparation you need to do is to score the thick rind on the outside of the steaks.  When you cook it the rind gets a little crunchy but the ham stays delicious and moist.  The steaks are really thick, most likely thicker than you would probably cut a slice off of your ham.  I haven’t measured them but each steak is probably a half inch thick before cooking.  That is definitely thick enough to be considered a “steak” cut.    Dave and I have always been amazed by the absolutely delicious taste and usually end up wishing we had bought another package.  We usually serve the ham steaks with some type of veggie and mashed or roasted potatoes.  However, they would be incredible on a sandwich with big thick slices of homemade bread.  Of course, that is predicated on the fact that I get the lead out enough to make some homemade bread.  This is one of those items that is almost always available at Costco in the meat area.  Unfortunately, it’s definitely not freezer friendly.  Of course, the use by date on the package gives you about three weeks usually to have it, so you do have a bit of time, as long as you have the space in your fridge.   4 gammon steaks; 908 grams for £6.99.  Item #: 0003882.

Dell' Ugo Crab & Crayfish Ravioli

Dell’ Ugo Crab & Crayfish Ravioli

Dell’ Ugo Crab and Crayfish Ravioli – I love pasta of all shapes and types.  Filled or non-filled, I love it all.  However, this I did not love.  It was actually a huge disappointment.  So much so that Dave actually suggested just throwing the second package of it away.  That is unheard of for him, but it really was that bad.  The filling of crab and crayfish sounded like it would be totally delicious but  was strangely bland.  Despite cooking it for just a short time, the crayfish also had a really unpleasant texture, kind of rubbery really.  But we maybe could have overcome all of that if the filling hadn’t been so ridiculously skimpy.  It was ludicrous!  Especially for the price of this stuff.  Because yeah, there was only 9 ravioli squares in each package.  After I cooked them, at least half of them looked like they had completely forgotten to put any filling in them.  And while one of them did burst open during the cooking, it barely showed in the pan.  Sad.  I bought this because I thought the filling sounded so good and like it would be great for a nice summer meal with a salad.  In reality it was just a total disappointment that left us both annoyed and hungry.  I’ve bought the Dell’ Ugo ravioli before, with different fillings, and have always enjoyed it, but this was enough to make me think long and hard before purchasing any more of their ravioli products.  I’m hoping this was just not their best work, but it was so so bad that I know it will colour my view of them next time I am considering getting their ravioli.  And that’s really too bad, because as I said, I love pasta!  2, 235 gram packages for £7.79.  Item #: 0091435.

Gillette Mach 3 Razor & Blades

Gillette Mach 3 Razor & Blades

Gillette Venus  and Gillette Mach 3 Razor Blades - Really, we only buy our razors and razor blades at Costco now.  And it isn’t just just because they are cheaper, but they are that.  The way they are packaged means that you can get at least 6 – 9 months of razor blades with one package and don’t have to worry about  running out anytime soon.  Since it takes up hardly any space for a package of 12 or 14 razor blades, and it isn’t like we are going to stop needing to shave, this is one of those times that buying in bulk makes a lot of sense, no matter how little storage space you have at your place.  At Costco, you can get the Venus razor blades by themselves which is great if you’ve already got a nice razor anyway.  When I bought these, which has been a bit ago now, there had a package with four, three blade packages bundled together.  The men’s Mach 3 package that we picked up for Dave last time had a razor as well as 14 replacement blades bundled together.  Either way, it is a great way to buy your blades and they are often much less pricey at Costco.  Of course, I am always amazed at how expensive razors are, no matter where you get them.  Though we did notice that for men, at least, you can get the full razors cheaper than you can get just the replacement blades most of the time.  Why is that?  It certainly seems it would be more expensive to make the whole razor than just making the blades.  Doesn’t it?  I mean, it’s the same blade on the razor so it doesn’t seem to make much sense.  According to Dave, you can even pop the blades off of the razor body if you just want to put the blades in your ‘real’ razor. Venus Razor Blades – 12 pack for £14.99.  Item #: 0048933.  Gillette Mach 3 Razor and Blades –  1 razor, 14 blades for £14.99.  Item #: 0150595.

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SodaStream Home Drinksmaker from Costco.co.uk

July 17th, 2014 by Kimberly · 4 Comments

I finally made my first official purchase from Costco UK’s online shopping site.  I usually just find everything we want or need at the actual store, but this time, I knew I could only get it online.  It’s taken me far too long to get a bit of Costco.co.uk shopping done and I’m actually a bit ashamed at the delay.  Of course, for part of that time we were in Australia or tiny temporary housing, so that’s my excuse.

SodaStream Genesis Megapack at Costco.co.uk

SodaStream Genesis Megapack at Costco.co.uk

So, what was it that finally got me shopping with Costco.co.uk?  A SodaStream, of all things.  I got an email from Costco UK and it was one of the products they featured and it made me give it some consideration.  I will admit that for the last couple of years I thought this was just kind of a silly kitchen gadget, but after seeing it in the email, it got me thinking about how much we were spending on sparkling and/or flavoured waters from the supermarket or Costco.  I quickly realized that this was probably the perfect way to save some money and shopping time and all of the plastic bottles in our recycling.  For those of you that aren’t up on the SodaStream, it is a home drinks maker that helps you turn normal tap water into sparkling water and soda right in your own kitchen, anytime you want.  It’s basically just a way to dispense the right amount of  carbon dioxide into a bottle of tap water that you can then flavour, or not.  It doesn’t need to be plugged in and is super simple to use, plus you can make the flavours you want and make it as sweet and bubbly as you want too.  What more could you want?

They have four different SodaStreams for sale on Costco.co.uk, so you have a bit of variety to choose from.  They have the super fancy high end one down to the very basic version that we got.  We decided that we would get the SodaStream Genesis Megapack because it came with not only the machine itself but also several of their carbonating bottles, the gas cylinder, as well as a sample kit of twelve of their flavoured syrups.  So, really, you’ve got everything you want to get going in one handy little package for £54.99 (with VAT and delivery included).  Here’s exactly what you get for that:

  • White Genesis drinksmaker,
  • 1 – 60L gas cylinder,
  • 2 – 1L carbonating bottles,
  • 1 – 12 sample flavour pack,
  • 2 – 0.5L carbonating bottles

The drinksmaker itself is kind of tall at 41.7cm or 16.4 in in height, but it fits tidily under our kitchen cabinets.  It isn’t that wide or deep, so it really doesn’t take up much counter space, even in an incredibly small kitchen like ours.  We mostly use the big carbonating bottles, however, the smaller ones are great for picnics or taking to the park.  All of the bottles are nice and thick with the only real requirement being that you do not put them in the dishwasher.  I like their durability because if you do take them with you, you don’t need to worry about them crushing or getting damaged.

Twelve SodaStream Flavour Concentrates to Try

Twelve SodaStream Flavour Concentrates to Try

The weakest aspect of this pack, or maybe just the SodaStream in general, is the concentrated flavour syrups.  We got twelve different flavour packets, each one enough to flavour 1 litre of water: cherry, cream soda, dandelion and burdock, cola, diet cola, energy, lemon lime, orange, blackcurrant, apple, pink grapefruit, and tonic.  Out of the twelve that we tried in our sample pack, we liked two of the flavours: pink grapefruit and cream soda.  The pink grapefruit flavour was definitely the favourite though and we’re actually planning to purchase this in a full size.  It is really refreshing and tastes like Fresca with that nice citrusy taste.  But the other flavours were not winners for us, some of them were barely drinkable (dandelion and burdock, I’m looking at you).  We came to the conclusion that the mix of sweeteners was probably what caused us to dislike the flavourings.  SodaStream uses a mix of sugar and artificial sweeteners – sodium cyclamate, acesulfame potassium, and aspartame – that neither of us finds very palatable apparently.  They just left us both with this weird, unpleasant taste in our mouths.  So, that’s a bit of a bummer.  But it was great to try the twelve flavours.

We also tried the SodaStream Natural Strawberry Flavour Essence (we had to purchase this from Ocado) and it was horrible!  It’s only ingredient is natural strawberry flavour, and while it smells really, really strawberry, it doesn’t taste even remotely of strawberries.  At least not to anyone in our house.  What we have found is that cordials do the flavouring job way better, or even just fresh lemon juice.  We’re big fans of the Belvoir Elderflower cordial, but there are so many cordials available, we should be able to find plenty more to enjoy.  Also, if you drink a lot of just plain water, like I do, then the bit of carbonation is sometimes a great change all on its own, no flavouring needed.  We keep the two, one litre bottles filled with tap water chilling in the fridge, so that we can have a nice cool sparkling beverage whenever we want.  This is particularly nice right now when it is hot hot hot here in London.

Everything you need to start making sparking water at home

Everything you need to start making sparking water at home

We are really pleased with the SodaStream purchase so far, even with the flavourings not being to our tastes.  And I think we’ve already saved the cost of the machine probably in buying plain and flavoured sparkling waters at the regular supermarkets.  Here’s a good example of the savings for making our own sparkling elderflower drink at home.  A 750ml bottle of elderflower sparkling water from Waitrose or Ocado is £1.99.  However, if we buy our own Belvoir Organic Elderflower Cordial from Ocado it is £2.73 for a bottle that will make 5 litres of elderflower sparkling water with the help of our SodaStream.  So, instead of paying £1.99 for something that isn’t even a litre (it would be £2.65 for a full litre) our homemade version is just £0.55 per litre!  That’s a big old savings of £2.10 per litre; not accounting for the cost of the SodaStream.  And if we’re having just plain, no flavour, sparkling water, we’re saving about £0.75 per litre. The cost of a replacement 60 litre gas cylinder from Amazon breaks down to a cost of about £0.25 per litre of sparkling water made, so after we pay off the initial investment of the SodaStream purchase from Costco, we’ll have to take that into account for price comparison purposes.

So, how much are you saving getting the bundle over just buying the individual pieces at someplace like Amazon.  Here’s the cost breakdown from Amazon for the various components in the package deal:

  • White Genesis drinksmaker: £49.31
  • 1 – 60L gas cylinder:  £15.17
  • 2 – 1L carbonating bottles: £9.99
  • 1 – 12 sample flavour pack: £6.65
  • 2 – 0.5L carbonating bottles: £15.60
  • Total for buying separately at Amazon: £96.72

So, buying the individual items would be much more than the £54.99 for the bundle at Costco.  I will point out that Amazon also has the same bundle for the same price as Costco.  But obviously, no matter if you buy your bundle from Costco or Amazon, you are saving £41.73 over buying the products separately.  Obviously, I think you should get your SodaStream Genesis Megapack from Costco though.

I do find it kind of curious that I couldn’t find one SodaStream drinksmaker in the warehouse.  I think this bundle would be perfect to have in the actual stores.  But I’m glad that I finally noticed that it was at Costco.co.uk and bought it because we’re definitely going to save money and won’t be putting so many glass and plastic bottles into the recycling bin, nor will anyone have to cart the heavy bottles of water back from the supermarket.

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Be the Big Cheese with Costco.com

July 15th, 2014 by Kimberly · 2 Comments

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you have probably picked up on my love of cheese.  Though, to be honest, I have been trying to tone it down lately, just in case my doctor is reading.  Costco stores have great cheese selections, from the mundane slices of cheddar or the bags of shredded mozzarella, to the more interesting specialty cheeses, and things like stilton and gorgonzola.  I love it all and pretty much only buy my cheese at Costco now, unless I’m in a cheese emergency.  One thing that I always have in my fridge is my wedge of aged Parmesan in my fridge – either the Reggiano or the Stravecchio.  So, with all of that in mind, it is only natural that I would feel compelled to write about this magnificent thing I ran across the other day at the Costco.com website.

Kirkland Signature Whole Wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano

Kirkland Signature Whole Wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano

There is an enormous round of Parmigiano Reggiano available at Costco.com now for anyone with a cheese love and a big budget to buy.  Of course, most likely this is for a restaurant or catering company, not just a person…I hope!  Because when I say enormous, I mean it: like 72 pounds of enormous.  That is a big piece of cheese!  The Kirkland Signature branded Parmigiano Reggiano has been imported from Italy where it has been aged for 24 months.  Here’s the full description from the Costco website:

Parmigiano Reggiano Wheel approximately 72 lb.:
Imported from Italy and made with the freshest milk from the famous Parma and Reggio Emilio provinces in Italy, Parmigiano Reggiano is the apex of Italian cheese making and a symbol of Italian culture and civilization. Aged a minimum of 24 months, this product is brushed completely and regularly inspected to comply with the strict standards of the Consortium Parmigiano Reggiano. This extravagant blend of old world cheese making and unrivaled quality fuse to create a delicate and savory rich full flavor that has made Parmigiano Reggiano world renowned and an immediate favorite to those who try it. In addition to being eaten alone, shredded or grated Parmigiano Reggiano transforms any pasta, soup or salad into an exquisite gourmet experience.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:
Montepulciano, Pinot Grigio, Chianti and Merlot.

So, how much will a giant wheel of Kirkland Signature Parmigiano Reggiano set you back?  A mere $899.99 or $12.50 per pound.  But hey, at least that price covers the delivery with UPS 2nd Day Air; unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii where they’ll have to add a bit more for the shipping.  If you want to order the big cheese, it will take about five business days from the time you order to receive your wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano, so plan ahead.

If Parmesan isn’t your thing, or you don’t have a $900.00 cheese budget, there are some other nice cheese selections available through Costco.com.  These would be great if you’re having a party or something and need a nice selection but don’t want to take the time to source it all on your own.

Bur really, what do you think the weight limit is for the average fridge shelf?  Hmmmmm……

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