Thursday, August 31, 2017

My 10 Favorites Finds at Trader Joe's

Hey friends! Happy Thursday! I hope everyone's weeks are off to a great start. We are well past the halfway point of the week, so let's finish it off with some enthusiasm! The long weekend is so close y'all.

I am super excited for this Labor Day Weekend because my sister and nephew will be visiting and I am thrilled! I can't wait for all of the baby snuggles. Really though, all. the. snuggles.

Visitors on the way translates to "Sarah needs to restock the fridge and pantry." My eggs, rice and beans diet with a splash of veggies and an occasional seltzer water are not going to cut it... I do know how to cook, promise. I just haven't been home a ton over the summer and have been trying to eat what's in the apartment.

(Hold while I answer the worried call from my mom about my cooking habits...)

Anyway, as I was making my grocery list for their arrival, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite finds from Trader Joe's.

I buy about 90% of my food from TJs. Other than a random ingredient here and there, meat is about the only thing I don't regularly get there - mainly because I don't eat a lot of meat, but also it is pretty pricey. I know, I know, it's good quality and made from some really great sustainable practices, but the up-charge on the cage-free eggs and locally grown tomatoes is more manageable to fit into my budget. I do get meat their occasionally, but I just can't afford to all the time.

Because I shop there so regularly, I do have my go-to's but thankfully, with their reasonable prices, I am also able to try new items (usually inspired by the free samples and gratitude for the coffee).

And so with that semi-decent amount of experience with this particular grocery, I present to you, my 10 favorite Trader Joe's finds (in no particular order).

1) Gnocchi - They have 3 kinds in the frozen foods. All are great and super affordable. The gnocchi alla sorrentina is my favorite. I introduced them to Michael the first time he visited and he too is hooked.

2) Gone Bananas - Chocolate Covered Bananas: the dessert that makes me think I'm eating healthy-ish. Try to eat just one piece. I dare you.

3) Habanero Lime Flour Tortillas - A friend recommended these to me and I am hooked. They are a bit spicy (I think more so when they aren't heated). Quesadillas with these babies and some avocado are one of the easiest meals I make and taste pretty great too.

4) Organic Riced Cauliflower - Just so we are being honest, this is not for everyone. Michael really doesn't like it, but he also doesn't typically like cauliflower. I, on the other hand, love cauliflower and think this is a great substitute for rice if you are looking to add more veg in your life. I also find it easily masked flavor wise. Add a sauce or spices and voila, you won't even know it's healthy.

5) Cauliflower Crust - Keeping with my love of cauliflower, when I heard TJs was selling a pizza crust substitute I knew I had to try it. It's delicious. I like to make it simple with just some pizza sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil. Yum!

6) Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - Fun fact, when I was younger I hated chocolate unless there was peanut butter in it. Now that I'm older and perhaps a bit wiser, I eat other chocolates, but peanut butter cups are still my #1. Trader Joe's are some of my favorite around and as a bonus, they sell them in mini bags so I don't have to worry about how quickly the tub will disappear in my apartment.

7) Charles Shaw - Ah, Two Buck Chuck. Cheap, good wine. Connecticut only sells wine in liquor stores so this crowd pleaser in nowhere to be found - you should have seen the look on my face when the lady at the store explained this to me. Be sure to appreciate it if your store carries it friends.

8) Reduced Guilt Guacamole - It's all in the name, friends. I love guac. I do not love the calorie count in guac. Trader Joe's heard my cries and came up with this beauty made with greek yogurt. Delicious.
9) Greek Yogurt Cups - One of my go-to lunch items for work. Honey is my favorite. The others are amazing too.
10) Well Rested Herbal Tea - Funny story, I ran into a colleague at Trader Joe's during one of my first shopping trips in CT. I'm not sure what brought up the topic of tea, but she was insistent that I try the Well Rested flavor from TJs. I headed her advice and haven't looked back. If you have a hard time getting to sleep at night, give it a go.

Not sure where the nearest TJs is to you? Hop over to the Trader Joe's website and use their store search bar :)

PS - Don't forget about their AMAZING flower selection. Some of the prettiest seasonal blooms for super affordable prices.

Any other Trader Joe's fans out there? Any products I need to try? I'd love to hear from you!


Saturday, August 5, 2017

Currently: August

Happy Saturday, friends. It's been a paradoxically fast yet slow week here in CT mixed with just about every emotion imaginable - so that's been fun.

Today I am joining in on the Currently link-up with Anne from In Residence and Shea from Shea Lennon. I've seen a few bloggers I follow participate in this one and think it's such a fun way to look back at the month and reflect on a few things.

Here goes: Currently, I am...

Snacking On: Pudding and Yogurt. I had two wisdom teeth removed yesterday and am still on the soft-food-train. (Plus I love pudding and yogurt, so win win.) Specifically, tapioca pudding is my jam and I just started eating this yogurt from Whole Foods and love it.

Anticipating: My cousin's wedding next weekend and the beginning of school at the end of the month. How is it already August?! So much to do before the kiddos return!

Borrowing: Honestly, I'm not sure how to answer this one. I live pretty remote from family and friends so there isn't much occasion to borrow... Still paying those loans from undergrad though, so that counts, right?

Admiring: Artists. I follow lots of Etsy Shops on Instagram and have been loving the art these women have been sharing - Brass and Mint Co. Brick House in the City and Be a Heart, to name a few. What beautiful talents they share!

Purchasing: Craft supplies. I stopped at Hobby Lobby about a week ago and went a little crazy. There was a lot of "Oh, I could just make that," thinking happening as I shopped. Whether or not that was a good thing is yet to be determined. I did make this cactus though, and I am pretty happy with how it turned out.

I am currently (see what I did there) driving to Ohio for the trip delayed by pesky wisdom teeth. It's 8 hours and basically all through PA all with my cat, Zelie... Prayers for smooth travels and safety are appreciated.

What's going on with you, friend? Any great snacks or non-monetary borrowing? (Or monetary - We can commiserate on the cost of a college education.) Road trips? I'd love to hear!


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Loving Lavender

As you know from my last post, I'm mildly obsessed with lavender. And I know it will absolutely shock you all to hear that not only do I like the plant, but I am also quite fond of the color. (This is where you all gasp in disbelief.)

Row 1:   Tote  |  Scarf  |  Top
Row 2:   Skirt  |  Dress  |  Pants
Row 3:   Shoes  |  Sunglasses
Row 4:   Earrings  |  Socks  |  Bracelet  |  Lotion

All jokes aside, there are some really lovely pieces available in various shades of lavender and I thought it would be fun to share some here. I'm strongly considering the Anthropologie earrings and the eyelet top from J. Crew but am not quite sure how to make it work appropriate and cute... A cardigan maybe? We shall see.

Are there any color trends you are loving lately?


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Lavender Pond Farm

One of the perks of having a flexible summer work schedule is taking spur-of-the-moment trips on a weekday afternoon. I saw a few friends on social media mention they had visited lavender farms near their home towns and was immediately inspired to search for one in my neck of the woods.

Luckily, I found the address to Lavender Pond Farm, only about 40 minutes away from me and their flowers were still blooming (thanks, Google). And so I decided the next day would be my mini-adventure of exploring lavender fields and pretending like I was summering in Provence. They say Connecticut is the Sault of the United States - OK, nobody says that, but I bet the lavender here is just as pretty and smells just as good...

Friends, I LOVE lavender. The smell, the color, the texture - gosh, just about everything about this plant brings me joy. My front door has a lavender wreath, 90% of the candles in my apartment are lavender scented and so is my bathroom hand soap and my favorite essential oil. It's an obsession, I know. But for someone who is super picky about smells, when you find one you like, you cling to it (and apparently make just about everything in your home smell like it - hens the new candle and lotion I bought at the farm...).

I've heard that lavender is supposed to help with relaxation and boy does that seem to be true for me.
As soon as I stepped on the grounds of Lavender Pond Farm I felt at ease. The beautiful grounds alone are stunning. Add in the scent of fresh lavender and you have found my idea of paradise. I can't think of a more perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon.

Seriously, it was a dream.