Monday, August 23, 2021

Best items in Lidl, Grand opening of store in Charlottesville, Virginia

Since the grand opening of Lidl Food Market in Charlottesville, Virginia on July 14, I've been exploring their unique options. The first trip into the store I was a little overwhelmed by the layout and offerings. But the seduction of a register coupon for $10.00 off when you purchase $30.00 was enticing so I came back the following week.

My positive experiences with Lidl (pronounced Leedl) encouraged me to blog about our new store and some of the best tasting products that I have discovered thus far. I specifically hunt for items with limited ingredients or that are organic. Many of the tasty items of course contain sugar but my picks generally do not have an obnoxious amount. I will leave label analysis up to each of my readers.

The second time in the store was easier to navigate. During this trip I roamed through the non-food items that include kitchen and home goods plus a little clothing. I was shocked to discover they had tall back chair cushions that might fit my 1980's retro outdoor patio furniture. I gave up years ago on trying to find them but took one home for a fitting. Presuming I was on the only person on the planet that needed to fit this style of chair I waited until the following week to buy the other matching three. Sadly when I returned, they were all scarfed up! This led me to contact, who responded immediately and directed me to other nearby stores that had this item in stock. I was thrilled at the quality and great pricing of this item!

I'm totally hooked on the pack of four light and fluffy brioche burger buns. They toast up really quickly so beware, they can burn easily. Hands down better than any other plain bun that I've eaten and a nice quantity for households that don't have a large family. There also is an inhouse bakery that churns out a lot of different breads and pastries. None of which I've tried so there could be some really nice options here as well. 

I should mention the layout of our store, when you enter you will find produce and seafood freezers. The rest of the frozen food wraps around the entire back and other side of the store. Finding other packaged dinners, ice cream and veggies on the opposite side of the store near the check out lines.

Another favorite is the Lidl labeled Whole Wheat and 12 Grain Bread. My husband loves both of these pan sized breads and the price is incredible. The only downside is that they are not organic but I don't always purchase organic bread so it's not a deal breaker for us.

There were not a lot of organic produce options. Lidl advertises they provide the lowest prices so possibly this is a difficult task when supplying organic but one would presume consumers would realize organic sadly often costs more. Hoping the Charlottesville market will encourage Lidl on this front for future offerings.

Also stocked is refrigerated Lidl Orange Strawberry Banana Juice. I never drink any packaged juices but we had company in town and did serve this with breakfast and it was a sweet not overly banana in flavor blend. It was one of my few shocking amounts of sugar items (all bottled fruit juices will be) but was pleased that it was organic.

Next row over is the specialty imported item section. Mainly sweet treats, teas, coffee, oils, and jarred items. I found a nice bottle of  Grapeseed Oil. The only return that I made was for an organic bag of coffee that I found very acid leaving a very unsatisfactory, undrinkable taste in my mouth. I would not purchase again either of the organic coffees they offer. Lidl is a German company so possibly in Germany they prefer a more acid coffee. I disliked it immensely. Lidl has a 100% satisfaction guarantee in all their 10,500 stores, so you can always bring back what doesn't float your boat.

Lidl operates in 29 countries around the world.

In the specialty section we found two items that our household hands down loved. The number one sweet treat was the dark chocolate topped butter cookies. I even made a Smore out of 2 of them and it was fabulous. I purchased the Chocolate chip Shortbread cookies out of desperation when they were out of my number one choice and they too were very nice. Fortunately, I was glad to find the butter cookies in stock when I went back the following week! 


A few more honorable mentions; I was happy to find Lidl labeled organic apple sauce which was excellent! The organic Planet Oat Oatmilk is very nice and does not contain added sugar or Sunflower oil which is always a negative for me as that particular oil is highly inflammatory. The organic eggs are reasonably priced and are in recyclable cardboard - YAY! The Lidl flavored seltzers are tasty - mango and grapefruit I've tried and are nice. Happy to see bottled gallon jugs of Drinking Water that I need for my one sensitive stomach cat :) The box of 40 green tea bags has a decent flavor for bagged tea (I typically drink loose tea but nice to have a back up). The Lidl small chunk light canned tuna in water also has a nice pleasing flavor. Beyond Meat Sausage patties and a decent tasting Falafel are in the freezer section. Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies make my husband happy.

A few more items that I would like to try have been sold out. Understandable for a new store opening trying to gauge consumer likes and dislikes. No worries, I'm hooked so will be back!
I remember going into Trader Joe's for the first time and saying I didn't get what all the excitement was about. It seems we often think this way until we get used to the store layout and their offerings. I've changed my mind in both instances about Trader Joe's and Lidl. Give it a try a few times - leave a comment about your Lidl favorites so others can give them a try!


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Flowers to spot at the end of Spring in Shenandoah National Park - Plants and Wildflowers

Jarman Gap Trail
Last week I had the opportunity to hunt for blooming plants in the Southern and Center sections of the Shenandoah National Park. "Hiking" three separate days we hiked on four trails; Milam Gap, Limberlost, Jarman Gap, and Riprap. We encountered more Appalachian Trail hikers on Memorial Day on the Riprap Trail than on any other days.

Mountain Laurel
There is about a 1,000 foot difference in elevation between the Southern and Northern Central parts of the Skyline Drive so some wildflowers down south were about a week ahead of the northern elevations.  

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Pink Azalea
Most obvious was the development of the Mountain Laurel which had really come out along the southern Riprap Trail and was holding back along the central Limberlost Trail. I would estimate that it's really going to be impressive in Limberlost around June 12th. There is a free park entry day on June 16th so that's where I'll be! 

Bowman's Root
We encountered some lovely wildflowers on Jarman Gap Trail. One being lavender blooming Skullcap. White blooming Viburnum shrub and pink blooming Azalea can be spotted all over the park this time of year. 

One of my favorite wildflowers, Bluets
Signs of bloomed out Early Meadow Rue could be found on Jarman Gap Trail but was stealing the show in Limberlost. Another sweet wildflower that I had never encountered was Bowman's Root. A delicate white wispy bloom and better described by its other name, Fawn's Breath.

One had to look fairly closely to find the teeny little Bluets scattered along the Limberlost Trail, conversely the Golden Ragwort was plentiful all over the central area of the park. It was nice to have my mother scout out for flowers one day and a friend on another day. They both were equally good at finding oddities. 

Daisy like Golden Ragwort
A few unknown plants were of the fungus plant world. May be you can identify these pretty plants?

Surprisingly, the more developed Limberlost Trail seemed to have the most variety of birds and plants but we did see a pileated woodpecker on the Riprap Trail. Jarman Gap and Milam had more inclines than the other two trails and require a little more skill but still very accessible. Riprap was a nice gradual climb and pretty safe as far as getting your footing. Limberlost is ADA accessible. 

In a few weeks the towering orange flowering tiger lilies in Milam Gap are going to be amazing!


Saturday, May 29, 2021

Wildflowers in Shenandoah National Park along Skyline Drive

Bacon Hollow Overlook mile marker 69
Located 40 minutes from Charlottesville, the Shenandoah National Park is a treasure for all to enjoy. Skyline drive is 105 miles long and the only road that traverses through the park from South to North. Driving the posted 35 miles per hour, it will take 3 hours if you put your blinders on and don't stop anywhere along the route. An impossible feat for even the most hard hearted.

Sassafras is easily identified
There is a park entry fee and if you go often it can begin to add up. There are several passes that can help you avoid or reduce your fees (if permanently disabled, a veteran, or a senior). When I turn 62 I want a Senior Pass for my birthday present! If you are in a vehicle with one holding one of the passes, you too can gain free access. There are also annual free for anyone days scheduled each year.

Golden Alexander

Because we currently don't have any special passes, I always jump on any chance to get free access. A visiting friend purchased a 7 day pass to the Shenandoah National Park and only used the first day. It is permissible to use a pass purchased by another person so my husband and I went the next day and explored the southern trail section starting on top of  Afton Mountain at mile marker 105 and ending north at Swift Run Gap mile marker 65. It was a perfect picnic day and we mainly ate our way up Skyline Drive veering off at all the overlook points. We did walk a few segments of the Appalachian trail observing wildflowers, birds, and trees.

Mountain Laurel
There are over 850 flowering plants documented in the park. Golden Alexander was in full bloom in the southern areas of the park this time of year. The bloom can best be described as a yellow Queen Anne's Lace. The Spring Ephemerals have nearly bloomed out. The Mountain Laurel is just now starting to bloom at the lower elevations. The full show will occur in June and is a beautiful time to come to the park. White flowering Viburnum shrub was often spotted in the woods.  Also quite common along the roadway is Golden Ragwort which could best be described as a 2' tall miniature Sunflower. It seemed to be more plentiful North of Big Meadows.

We had a wonderful afternoon exploring and getting to know one section of the large park. It took about 4 hours for us to leisurely drive up half of the park but would take a lot longer if any serious hiking would be planned.

~ Rebecca 

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