Archive for the ‘Retail Stores Reviews’ Category

Two Blondes Go Shopping: Ikea

December 13, 2008

Two Blondes review a store and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

Ikea is one of my favorite stores, except for going on a Sunday afternoon.  Then it becomes hell on earth.  But other than that, it’s a delight. You can wander for hours wondering what kind of person you would be if you had a new living room, or how you would definitely become organized with a new Expedit desk.  And no matter how hard our economy’s downfall is hitting you, you can still find something you can afford, be it a $200 couch or a $3.49 pot lid holder or a $7 stuffed blue giraffe (it’s awesome).  But the most affordable thing is the food.  And by affordable I mean financially, not calorie wise.  It is not the kind of food to trim the waist line, but hopefully you spent enough time walking in circles through mock living rooms, kitchens, etc. that you’ll burn off any calories you ingest.

I decided to go try the cinnamon bun.  It seemed like a good way to go to try and recover from an open bar holiday party the night before.  The cinnamon bun was yummy, but a little on the dry side.  It doesn’t have that doughy mushiness that one has come to expect after the spread of the chain Cinnabon. But luckily a soda doesn’t cost much more than a stamp, so that helped wash it down.  After our shopping adventures (i.e. aimless wandering interrupted only by “Oh, I could really use….), I went for a $1 yogurt and it was creamily delicious and a perfect way to end our time at Ikea.

Another reason I love Ikea (aside from their many, many products and funny names) is that I’ve heard the owner of Ikea still drives a beat up Volvo to work.  This is a guy who has surpassed Bill Gates in terms of wealth, but still has the good sense and character to drive an old Volvo.  You gotta respect that.

Jessica says:

Oprah has this section in her magazine where she asks interesting people, “What do you know for sure?” (http://www.oprah.com/slideshow/omagazine/200811_omag_for_sure).  I like to come up with different answers so I’m prepared for the day when Oprah and I bump into each other, become instant friends, and she asks me–of course after we have talked for hours about our favorite books, philosophy, politics, etc.  Here is what I know for sure today, Oprah, the English make really crappy hot dogs.

I know this because you get weird cravings for the foods of home when you live abroad; things you would never really be that excited about, if they were readily available to you.  Occasionally I would get hot dog cravings when I lived in the UK (as well as macaroni and cheese made from the orange powder mix and that pink strawberry cake from the box).  My first year living in England, I decided to throw a Fourth of July party and set about gathering all the necessary equipment:  fireworks – check (after a brief trip to a store filled with bongs, roach clips, and various tie-dyed things where the proprietor told us about a rave we should totally come to that night), Budweiser – check, hamburgers – check, hot dogs – uh oh.  I had concerns about what passes as ‘hot dogs’ in England from an earlier experience I’ll explain in a second, but H assured me Sainsbury’s would have them.  I searched the refrigerated sausage section and saw none.  When I told my
friend, H, they didn’t have any she said, “Oh no, hot dogs wouldn’t be in this isle, they’re over here…”  She led me to the canned food isle and I knew this could not be good.  H pointed at a tall tin can with a generic-looking label ‘HOT DOGS.’  I tried to explain to her that there was no possible way those were hot dogs, but I think she just thought I was being a food snob (or as much of a food snob as you can be over meat scraps encased in synthetic animal intestine).  I refused to buy whatever was in that can.

My first experience with English hot dogs happened months earlier during what was also my first Ikea experience.  About a week after moving in with my flatmates in Bristol, we trekked out to Ikea.  By the time we made it through the maze of the store, I was starving.  When my flatmate suggested we get some hot dogs from the snack bar I was confused why a furniture store would have a snack bar, but that was quickly replaced with delight when I noticed the price.  If memory serves, they were about 25p (about $.50).  I’m in!  Then I ate one, or rather took two bites of one.  It tasted like sawdust encased in plastic.  V. v. disappointing.  At the time I assumed that all Ikea hot dogs tasted as such.  Not true.  That’s just all English hot dogs.

To get back to what I’m supposed to be talking about here, my review of Ikea:

Alison and I, in a slightly hungover state (we are suckers for free alcohol), decided it was a swell idea to get in a little Ikea Christmas shopping Sunday morning.  I have a studio apartment and need space-saving kitchen and office furniture.  However, because we might have been a smidgen hungover, we required sustenance before we could muster the energy for any shopping.  As it turns out, the Ikea hot dogs in the US are good (and still cheap).  The cinnamon rolls were not so good.  I think they had been sitting out too long because when I tried to tear off a piece, it would crumble in my hand.  Cinnamon rolls are supposed to be soft and gooey.  Of course, in the state I was in, that didn’t stop me from finishing mine.

My Ikea tip #1 is if you are going on the weekend, go before noon, otherwise there are so many people there even the fun of trying to pronounce words with umlauts is not enough to make it worth the trouble.

Tip #2 – beware the super-cheap siren that is the Ikea kitchen accessories section.  You might think, “Oh yay!  Funny shaped ice trays!  And they’re only $.25,” but remember–you have an ice maker and don’t need ice cube trays.

I love that Ikea has maps posted throughout the store directing you to follow the one pathway in and out.  It feels like you’re on a treasure hunt.  I walked in and out of every show room declaring I wanted everything in it (even the children’s rooms).

On the Ikea furniture I would say the best qualities are the simple Swedish design and reasonable prices; the worst bit is that every piece ‘requires some assembly.’

I recommend Ikea if you need cheap, simply designed furnishings or enjoy umlauts, but only before noon.

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Two Blondes Eat Some Food: Kiss My Bundt

October 25, 2008

Two Blondes eat some food and tell you what they think:

Jessica says:

Alison and I tried a new bakery in Midcity last weekend, Kiss My Bundt. If you couldn’t figure it out from the name (and if you can’t, I’d imagine you are the type of person who has a hard time telling what direction West Hollywood is, in relation to Hollywood), they specialize in bundt cakes.

Kiss My Bundt is like most of the cupcake specialty bakeries that have popped up around LA in the last couple of years. Their cakes come in sizes ranging from the Mini Bundts, Baby Bundts, to the Big Ol’ Bundts. There are a couple of benefits the bundts have over cupcakes. First, the Mini Bundts are smaller than your average cupcake, so you don’t have to feel as guilty when you just want a little something sweet. Second, the icing to cake ratio is closer in bundts than the bakery cupcakes that usually seem to be 1/3 cake to 2/3 icing. Most importantly, ‘bundt’ is a really fun word to say.

Alison says:

Kiss My Bundt is a new bakery on 3rd street near The Grove. From it’s brown and pink color scheme to its pink couch to the kissing lips stickers on the bags, every detail is sweet and cute. Quote from their website:

“Kiss My Bundt is a specialty, made-from-scratch cake company created
out of a love of baking and bundt cakes.”

The girl who served us was helpful and nice. I tried the red velvet cakes and was very happy I did. I think Kiss My Bundt has the best red velvet cake in all of Los Angeles. It’s rich but somehow not heavy at the same time.

My review: Adorable and delicious!