Lora Hogan > Recipe  > Snowbirds, Scrooge, and Spuds

Snowbirds, Scrooge, and Spuds

Day two of December and my goals are already hard to accomplish. (See: “The Greatest Gift Of All” for my December Christmas goals.)

Part One: Trader Joe’s.

Even though I live in Tampa Bay, I have to drive to Sarasota to get to a Trader Joe. We just got one there (can you believe it? Behind the times much?) and it takes me about an hour to get there. It’s always so worth it.

But we have this thing in Florida.

A snowbird thing.

They cannot drive.  I’m sorry, but it is true.

In addition to seeing a man from Michigan drive down the middle of TWO lanes on the scariest bridge in Florida (Sunshine Skyway Bridge), I was stopped for thirty minutes before my exit due to an extremely bad accident.

It tries ones patience, you know.  And I had to try super duper hard to find the love.  Which is super hard on a full bladder. Just saying. But I found, with practice, I could find gratitude that I was not in the accident–and hope that no more accidents would occur in the bumper to bumper traffic jam.

I made it to TJ’s eventually. I just had to do a bit of meditation in motion first, ya know?

But then, when it was time to leave, I encountered my very own Scrooge. First in myself–and then in a super weird thirty-something man from Long Island.

Check-out at Trader Joe’s is usually an AMAZING experience. I swear, they have the best employees.  But somehow, I got in the negative Nancy line.  She had no common sense, did not know how to pack a bag, and was slower than molasses. I actually had to stop the check-out lady from completely smooshing all my produce by putting hard stuff on top of it. She was actually creating a TOWER of groceries on top of my produce. Not the smartest if I actually wanted to, ya know, eat those tomatoes.

So I started to pack my own bags.  And realized it was pretty ridiculous. They have a bell to ring for help if they can’t handle it. And so, I said something. I asked the lady if she could please pack as she went. I brought a freezer bag for the cold stuff and emphasized that I really didn’t want my produce smashed.  She looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language.

I told her, I was sorry, but if she needed me to pack for her, I would gladly do it, just so much as she didn’t ruin my stuff with her six inch wide and who knows how many inches high pile. (Clearly, this lady needed a bit of help in the physics department.)

And then… I felt bad. I was probably shorter with the woman than I needed to be.  So I apologized again and tried to make pleasant and extra-friendly small talk while we finished the process.  The clerk was probably in her late 60s and obviously working at Trader Joe’s wasn’t her favorite thing ever. Perhaps she shouldn’t have been working there, but it wouldn’t hurt to be nice.  So we chatted while she did my remaining groceries (with my assistance) and I learned that she moved recently Florida from Arizona and was still adjusting.  Perspective.  We smiled, exchanged more pleasantries, and I paid.  I headed with my cart to the door, proud to have turned a negative situation around.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a most disgruntled personage. The man behind me in line. About 6’2″. Dark hair. Dark features. Slightly overweight. Face curled up in a scowl. He tapped his foot angrily. You could even see his teeth grinding.

“I hope he has a better day too,” I thought, as I pushed my cart to my car. And I let it go.


“Miss Mary Ann certainly is a chatty Cathy,” a wheezing clipped Long Island accent said behind me. “God, could she BE any slower!?!?”

I whirled and saw Mr. Scowl from my check-out line.  His nostrils flared. He was PISSED OFF.

“Well, uh,”  I mumbled, trying to find the positive. “She wasn’t the fastest, but she was nice.”

“Yes, she sure was TOO FRIENDLY wasn’t she? God, doesn’t she realize we don’t care!” The man replied. “Some of us just want to get out of the damn store.”

At that I mumbled something incoherent, smiled as brightly as I could at the man, and went to my car. (I made sure he didn’t follow me first, of course!)

And I thought, JEEZ LOUISE!

This man was complaining because he thought the clerk was TOO FRIENDLY.  Friendly? Nice? At Christmas-time? Dear Lord, what an idea.

And I wished the Scrooge from Long Island all the happiness I could muster. Because if a friendly clerk at Trader Joe’s has you that mad, certainly there are bigger issues going on.  As I tweeted immediately thereafter, “[Met a]Scrooge…[he] needs a big hug!!”

I wish him that hug. And yes, in the spirit of my December, I wish him love.  And if he can’t find that love for others, I’ll just have to bring it for him!!

Part Two: Potatoes

I do not like potatoes.
It’s weird, I know.
But I do not like them.
So, in honor of the season, I decided to try and love some spuds.

I’m easing into potatoes.

At Trader Joe’s I bought a mini potato medley of purple, red, and yellow potatoes.  I like the looks of the purple potatoes and thought they may be more pleasing to me. (Which they were.) And, if I mix them with other vegetables, I thought I may like them better. So I added one of my favorite vegetables, Brussels Sprouts.

My sneaky tactic worked. (Or not so sneaky, considering our parents would sneak fruits and vegetables to us in a wide variety of ways for years…)

I made ROASTED VEGETABLES (recipe from my Mama) as a side.

I’m still not a huge potato lover, but I have to admit–they sure tasted good this way. (Especially those purple guys! Who doesn’t like things that are NATURALLY PURPLE!?!?!?)

Finished product

Roasted Vegetables Recipe
Serves 2-4 (or more)

Small new potatoes sliced in even amounts
One or more carrots, peeled and sliced
Baby Brussels sprouts (or full-size Brussels sprouts, sliced in half)
Good quality olive oil
Sea Salt

For two servings, I used 5 new potatoes, around 16 Brussels sprouts, and one extra-large carrot.

Place vegetables on cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (2-3 tbsp).  Season with salt and pepper to taste. Use fingers to mix vegetables with oil evenly. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are lightly brown. To bake evenly, stir vegetables in the middle of cooking time.

Aren’t the purple potatoes PRETTY! Note: I accidentally got a bit heavy handed with olive oil, don’t do that!


  • Crystal Hamilton

    December 3, 2012 at 9:42 am

    Snowbirds drive me nuts…especially the Canadians (sorry to any Canadians that read this!).

    That is great that you turned a negative situation around. I can’t do that anymore. When I get angry I have to just walk away. It’s hard.

    I love potatoes! Do you eat French Fries or other forms of them? I need to eat more veggies and should try roasting them like that.

    Thanks for the laughs! : )

    • Lora

      December 3, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      I don’t like French Fries either, isn’t that crazy? I *did* like those itty bitty string fries they used to have at Houston’s (before the restaurant chain went out of business.) And I sporadically find myself liking mashed potatoes–but I think I really like the butter. I like Sweet Potato Fries just fine!

      It’s hard to turn negative situations around–especially with so many angry and negative people out there!!

      Glad you enjoyed!! 🙂

  • runningbetty

    December 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

    Dr. Oz would tell you that if you want to like potatoes, you should stick with sweet potatoes.
    Miss you!

    • Lora

      December 3, 2012 at 8:48 pm

      Dr. Oz is probably right, but I feel it’s kind of limiting in the real world to not eat potatoes! Miss you too!!