Here we go again, boys and girls!

I thought it time to clean up the recipe site a bit, and – like most simple projects – it took much longer than I thought.

It was a typical scenario – change this, and that could use a facelift, Then tweak this, then that, and next thing ya know, there’s a thousand-and-one other things that need updating. Since leaving well enough alone is not in my DNA… well… you get the picture.

The site started out 20 years ago in 2003. It was set up as a site to share the recipes that Ruth and I were creating at Trader Joe’s in Wayne, Pennsylvania – store #632 for those who care.

It was a fun site, and for the next two years started including the rest of the stores in the area. I had helped open many of them in the Demo area, so I always took lots of pictures and wrote about how great the new stores were. I knew people in every store, so it was a way to keep track of who was where, who was promoted… office gossip.

Here’s a partial screenshot of that old site.

Alas, in 2005, I got a call from the corporate offices to take the site down. They were not pleased that one of their employees was running a rogue website. In 2005, the company had not really embraced technology. Case in point – the store opened in late 2000 using manual cash registers. The products didn’t have barcodes – you know… those things that came out in the 1970s – everything was priced by hand. Scanners came about in July 2002. MY website was a hellava lot more informative than theirs.

But I digress…

I had just started a food blog on the Tim and Victor site, so… being the stubborn and pigheaded person that I am, I removed the Trader Joe logos and direct references from the site and rebranded it as Tim and Victor’s Totally Joyous Recipes.

I kept the Demo recipes on the site and added cookbook collections I had – my Mom’s Cookbooks, Family Reunion, Christmas Cookies… No direct reference to TJ’s, but they were still there – the demo recipe pages were really popular in the store, and a of of other stores in the country had found out about it and were using the recipes and sharing their own.

I was keeping it a bit under the radar.

I did an update in 2006…

And another quite quickly…


And another in late 2006.

Fun and colorful. I was writing quite a few blog posts by this time and they were pretty much front and center to keep the corporate folks at bay. I was changing the look quite often, but it had to stay up for a few months to be included, here!

All was going well until 2008. I had done yet, another revamp and, during election season, put an Obama/Biden picture on the site.

Another call from The Corporate Office. It seems a customer had called them and complained about having the Obama/Biden sticker on the site. My store Captain – we had started at the store 1 day apart and knew each other extremely well – took me out to lunch. Midway, he told me about the call and that I had to take the site down.

Naturally, I told him it was a personal, private site and had nothing to do with Trader Joe’s, and the site was staying up. My concession was to promise him to completely scrub the site of all reference to TJ’s – and I did.

And I did another redo. Demo became Quick and Easy Meals In Minutes.

I was doing all of these sites  in html. First, with Microsoft FrontPage. It was far easier than the hand-coding I had originally learned but it definitely had its limitations. My brother became Chief Engineer of Macromedia in San Francisco, and sent me a copy of their Designer Suite – DreamWeaver, Flash, Fireworks… I was in Web Design Heaven! There was quite the learning curve, but it was something I really wanted to learn – and I kinda almost did.

I was blogging up a storm! I felt like Anthony Bourdain with a side of Alton Brown.

Sadly, I didn’t have their talent – for cooking or writing. Reading back on some of my earlier posts are enough to make me cringe – how pompous and pretentious can one person get? Evidently, a lot.

It didn’t help matters that someone decided it would be a good idea to have a sandwich board out front letting passersby know the Daily Demo – with MY picture on it.

Yeah… let’s feed that ego just a little bit more…

In fact… let’s use it for the next iteration of the site! And call them Demo Recipes, again, and have a recipe contest with people submitting recipes on the website! Why not?!? Can you say insufferable, boys and girls?!?


Fortunately, I had a Regional Director who really liked – and understood – me. He encouraged me to keep being creative. He enjoyed seeing the rules bent.

The next big change was moving the entire site to WordPress – and pulling myself back, a bit. Age has a way of mellowing some people out – and I started mellowing out. My pomposity was starting to be more tongue-in-cheek. I was – am – still opinionated. Hopefully, a bit more tolerable, now…

I had been using an html site for recipes and cookbooks and a blogging platform for the blog. Design-wise, there weren’t as many options – easy options – and I wanted everything in one easily-searchable and similar-looking place. I decided to go with more of a magazine-style format, highlighting the blog and different categories.

I had a lot of fun with this one, changing background colors, headers, you name it!

It served me well for a couple of years, but, the itch to change is strong… The next site came about right after I retired in 2018.

No longer constrained by being an employee of Trader Joe’s, I even posted a couple of our old Demo Calendars. The snapshot below is from April, 2019 – prime pandemic time! We were home 99.999% of the time. I had lots of time to play.

We moved west in 2020 and by our first Christmas out here, I needed a holiday update!

The WordPress theme I started using in 2018 allows for so many designs that I’m like a kid in a candy store. This next one was pretty short-lived. It loaded slow – which led to the next iteration…

One of the reasons the site was slow is because I have over 7000 images on it.

There are 2627 blog posts, 1260 recipe pages on the TJ database, 1038 recipe pages on Mom’s database, and 340 on Flour Power. Most of the graphics were either ,jpg or .png – and both take up a lot of bandwidth. I found a plugin that will convert the images to Google’s .webp or – if your browser supports it – the newer .avif – really fast downloads!

That became the impetus for the re-do. I needed to attach a featured image to every blog post. Most of the posts after 2009 had one attached – very few prior to 2009 did. Fortunately. I’m a bit of a computer packrat so I was able to find a lot of the original files, but they were also very small pictures. back in the dark ages, screens were smaller, there was less bandwidth, and pictures and graphics didn’t easily resize.

That, and switching blogging platforms was anything but easy. The two systems were totally different and, while they did allow me to import one to the other, the formatting was all screwed up.

It was tedious, but last night, I finished!

There’s more continuity in cookbook page style and layout, and everything flows a bit better. At least I think it does.

I’m sure there will be more tweaks and updates in the years to come, but, for now… this is it.

And tomorrow, back to our regularly scheduled blog posts about what we had for dinner, our newest culinary find, or a rant on the latest diet craze.

Stay tuned.